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Two days ago, on Victory Day, among the celebrations, lectures and sermons of the triumphs and defeats of the lycanthropic purge, and the debates of the ethics of some of the Templarís tactics, a message arrived. It was an offer, signed by one Cardinal Ul'Lisu, for you to serve the Silver Flame in a new organization dedicated to hunting and eliminating the evils hiding the in shadows of Eberron.
Arriving at an old warehouse near to docks on the eastern side of Flamekeep, you spot nearly a dozen purists waiting inside. Stepping inside you are greeted by a trio of warriors; in middle stands a warforged, one of the larger ones you've seen. Unlike most warforged his body and features seem blocker and less defined. The live wood beneath the thick plates seems to have grown wild and small, leafless twigs can been seen at his joints.
To his left stands a human with piercing grey eyes and short, black hair marked by a single white streak. His sharp face might have been attractive if it wasn't for the pair of large scars crossing the left side of his face and a crooked nose broken once too many times. His plate mail is well tended, but has seen heavy use. Several weapons are among the various charms and symbols the hang from his belt and shoulders.
To the right of the warforged stands a dwarf in priestís robes. His brown beard is split in two and woven back into his hair, giving his head and thick neck an appearance not unlike a spade. His clean shaven upper lip, however, gives you a clear view of the deep frown that matches the angry green eyes above.
"Welcome," the warforged says. "I am called Priest. I will be one of your leaders in this organization."
The human sighs. "Still need to work on your personal skills," he says to the warforged. "Priest will be one of the leaders in the organization we are forming today. I, Jarrius, will be one of the overseers along with Galstuf." He motions to the dwarf. "As soon as everyone is gathered and we've had a little introduction to why we are here, we will be moving below to meet our other overseer and the head of this organization. Feel free to talk among yourselves or ask us any questions you may have, as Iím sure have. Keep in mind there are certain things we cannot discuss until we are certain you accept what we are offering."
A changeling listens to the three intently. It stands at a middling height, not tall or short. It's difficult to tell if it's a male or female, but either way it seems slim. It wears sturdy wool trousers and a white shirt, with good boots and a fairly nice jacket.
The changeling's shadow seems unnatural, and on closer inspection the very air behind it seems darker than it should be. If you look closely you may see that the darkness forms a small, vaguely humanoid silhouette. It's true shadow is just as odd; as it doesn't always follow his movements exactly; instead appearing as though the shadow was doing it's best to mimic the changeling's movements.
The changeling speaks up to the three "leaders", it's voice soft and apparently genderless. "May I ask why I was chosen?"
A young woman with stark white hair stands somewhat distant from the changeling, listening intently to her new superiors. Her face is impassive and cold.
She is short with a wiry, highly toned build. Her eyes are deep blue, a contrast to the bright red of her oddly cut habit. The habit contains a hood, presently down, and covers her torso entirely except for her arms; her legs are bare except for a long wide cloth in the front and back. On one shoulder is the only concession to armored protection - a single steel pauldron.
She also wears a pair of sturdy and thick-strapped red sandals.
Strapped to her back is an immense silver sword with the emblem of the Silver Flame emblazoned on either side running about a third the length of the overall blade. The blade is straight and double-edged, but significantly thicker than most similar weapons.
She waits patiently for the answer to the changeling's question.
Last edited by mistformsquirrl : 11-14-2012 at 05:08 PM.
A lovely young gnome with deep blue eyes hums softly and a little nervously while sitting on a barrel, and her wide eyes constantly scan her surroundings. Her sandy-colored hair is just long enough to brush over her red peacoat, slipped over a mail shirt backed with blue linen. Her trousers are of bleached denim and her boots are fine leather. A delicate silver choker accentuates her long neck.
She watches the changeling curiously while the creature speaks and, grinning, adds "Yeah, I wasn't aware 'special assignment' meant 'sacrifice for dark cult'; a little background on what the qualifications are would be fantastic." Rolling her eyes as if correcting herself she quickly adds "I mean, just, y'know if I'm going to be fed to an underpaid kyton wharfie I'd at least like to know why."
"The Silver Flame doesn't feed Kytons" retorts the last member of the group with a marked Brelish accent. The seventh member of the group is dressed in a plain grey monastic outfit, the only ornament on him being a blue headscarf. Zal looks quizzically at the gnome, before turning his gaze to the trio of 'bosses'."So, with me here; you fellas do must mean fighting in shadows. Anything more you can tell us?"
The corner of Galstuf's mouth twitches for a moment and for the briefest moment you almost see him smile. "Oh I like her!" he says, nodding toward Aria and chuckling. "I guess there's hope for this bunch yet!"
Jarrius shakes his head.
Priest hardly reacts as he explains. "All of you have been carefully choosen by our Jarrius, Galstuf, or Ul'Lisu and accepted by Rat's Flame and myself. We required Purists of faith and willing to go to great lengths to pursue evil."
"Hmm, yes," Jarrius agrees. "Ul'Lisu is the other overseer of this organization and Rat's Flame will be the head of it. Many of you possess skills that are difficult to find use for in the Church. You..."
"The changling is called Ko," Priest reminds him.
"Ko," Jarrius continues. "You were one of Ul'Lisu's choices. I can't speak for her exact reasons for nominating you, but I believe it was exactly that. Abilities that might make other Purists uncomfortable but would be invalable to our goals.
"Others, like our gnome, Aria, here, were chosen for other reasons. I personally nominated her because of her mixture of knowledge and personality will be essencial to infiltrate and identify the threats we seek. Though, Aria, I do admit you are one of the choies with less of a reason to join us."
Ko purses it's lips thoughtfully. "...Infiltration? That may be difficult for some of us." That ended with a glance at the female human's flame-marked sword. "As for the rest, I was more interested in ... Ul'Lisu? Ul'Lisu's noticing of me. I do not exactly go out of my way to hide them, but my powers are not always obvious at a casual glance, and I do not announce them either; as you have obviously guessed, it might cause friction with the other faithful. Ul'Lisu must have been looking quite closely."
"Ul'Lisu is a cardinal and has worked closely with the templars," Jarrius explains. "I'm sure her information network is very thorough.
"As for our purpose here, since it seems nearly everyone is here, we may as well explain. Almost two years ago I had a revelation while meditating. I operate in the church as an inquisitor, seeking out the corruption that occationally sneaks into the church. I was reflecting on my line of work in a private chamber with nothing more than a simple meal and a candle of silver dust."
Galstuf rolls his eyes and interrupts, "A rat tried to steal your food and you didn't see the larger rat hiding in it's shadow. No one is interested in your 'vision'. They just want to know why they are here."
"Yes," Jarrius continues. "Well, the point is that we of the church can't always see the greater evils that may be hiding in the shadow the smaller, more obvious evils. Thanks to Priest, however we do have a unique opportunity to enter the shadows and carry the light of the Silver Flame to place it could not normally reach."
"I did nothing more than live by the Flame," Priest corrects. "I was fortunate enough to have my example and words reach a unique individual prepared to being the path to purity."
"In either case," Jarrius adds, "we are asking you to be become something akin to a new kind of Templar. Warriors and adventurers who will mask yourselves in the apperance of evil in order to elimiate the threats the church may otherwise be blind to."
Ari drops to one knee with her head bowed. She carefully averts her eyes before finally speaking.
"Exalted masters, I do not doubt your decision... but might I ask where I come into the equation? My training is rather... direct... in dealing with evil. I will of course obey; I merely seek understanding so I may best serve the Flame."
Ari remains kneeling while waiting for a reply.
Last edited by mistformsquirrl : 11-14-2012 at 10:47 PM.
"Oh, Jarrius," Aria says tenderly as she stands and leans forward, hands on her thighs and head cocked toward Jarrius with a mischievous grin. "I'd be positively fluttering if you weren't trying to get me killed." Leaning back with a cocky smile, she looks around at the team assembled and nods in satisfaction before looking back to the priests and asking "So where do you want us?"
Last edited by Saskia : 11-15-2012 at 04:31 AM.
"Ha!" Galstuf explains. "Exactly why I nominated you, Arcutia. They drug me into this joke saying they needed a, what was it, 'a voice of dissent', so I'm going to make sure this whole project isn't a total loss. Where these questionable purists are likely to fall into sin when surrounded by it, I expect you to pull through and remain true to the Silver Flame to the end."
Jarrius shakes his head. "Yes, well," he says, "no need for such formality, Arcutia. This group is going to have to be rather close. There are many in the Church like Galstuf who would be against what we are attempting to do here. Galstuf is at least willing to obverse and make sure we don't cross the lines. Others won't be so forgiving. It is one of our reasons for the secrecy."
"Since everyone is present and the warnings have been issued," Priest announces, "it is time to move below and explain further. Anyone who does not feel that this organization is not for them may leave at this time."
The other candidates mummer a but among themselves, but only a couple choose to leave. Priest leads you and the others to the corner of the warehouse, where he runs one of the thick, square fingers over the wall in a complex pattern. After a moment the ground nearby seems to ripple before vanishing completely to reveal a set of stairs.
Descending the stairs you enter a tunnel just wide enough for two humans to stand side-by-side. The walls are cracked and, despite obvious cleaning, still have bits of mold clinging to them.
"We're not sure who build this," Jarrius explains. "My best guess is that it was some merchant involved in human trafficking, though it may just have been a paranoid merchant who wanted a safe house to hide in if he felt in danger. We're fairly certain it predates the Last War, but with no records, it is hard to tell for certain."
"We're not here to admire the architecture," Galstuf remarks. "Whatever this place is, it has everything we need to be our base of operations. Living quarters, a meeting hall, storerooms for weapons and supplies. Might be a little small, but there's room enough."
The passage way curves only slightly as you make your way to it's end. As you approach the heavy metal doors at the end, you begin to pick up a particular smell, as if something were extremely hot or even burning. As Priest pushes the door open, the smell becomes more identifiable. Brimstone.
"Don't worry," Jarrius says. "It doesn't always smell like this. Just today. Though it may take a few spells to get rid of the smell afterwards..."
Inside the doors you find yourselves standing in a room just large enough to hold everyone. Three doors lead out of the room, a pair of heavy doors on the wall opposite the entrance and single, similarly heavy doors at the ends of the other walls, as far from the entrance as possible. A pair of arrow slits mark each of the side walls and several holes can be seen in the ceiling. The room, while small, was obviously made to be defensible, much like a passageway through a castle wall.
"Through his door and down a short hall is Rat's Flame," Priest explains. "Despite his appearance, he is a fervent believer in the Silver Flame. Please do not be alarmed." Galstuf scoffs under his breath at this, but otherwise remains quiet.
Opening the heavy doors at the end of the chamber, you enter hallway that could be better described as a series of small chambers if the four sets of doors you pass weren't open. Each set of door seems to have been created from a different metal, but all are as heavy and fortified as the first.
Moving through the fifth pair of doors you enter a large chamber. The everbright lanterns that have lit the rest of your passage into the complex have been covered here, and the room is lit only by a open, silver flames. A dozen oddly shaped basins sit around a large arcane circle drawn on the ground, but it is the large, fiery figure at the far end of the circle that catches your eye.
The creature seems to be wearing a cloak of flames, obscuring the features of it's body. The creatures scaled head nearly touches the roof of the room, nearly twice the height of a human. Great horns of various sizes frame the creatures smoldering red eyes and wide mouth full of long, jagged teeth. Although some enchantment has changed the creature's natural flames from red to silver, there is no mistake the creature before you. A pit fiend.
"...I must admit I did not expect that." Ko observes. He stands to the side to let those behind him through, measuring their reactions. "I assume you have verified his devotion by some means other than simple interrogation?"
"Rat's Flames voluntarily remains in our custody for six years," an elf replies, stepping out from beside the pit fiend. "During that time we tested him daily with the same questions, challenges, and moral dilemma we expect the church's prospective priests to pass. By his choices and answers, he would have been more than qualified for the priesthood. He has regularly been questioned and examined by a council of Cardinals, and for all those years, we never once founds indications that his expressions of faith have been false."
Rat's Flames nods. "I do not expect complete trust from any Purists. I know what I am counters any testimony I might bear of my faith in the Silver Flame. I hope you will trust Jarrius, Galstuf, and Ul'Lisu," he says, indicating the elven woman beside him. "They are here exactly for those concerns. The three of them are overseers of this project and can authorize the end of it, and me, if all three feel I am attempting to lead anyone astray."
Rat's Flames opens his wings from his body, revealing his large, powerful body as scaled and horned as his head. "So I am RíTsifalamhz," he adds. "Most call me Rat's Flames since my name is difficult for anyone to pronounce who isn't fluent in Infernal. I'm sure you have many questions. Please ask me all you would like. I do need some measure of trust before we continue."
Ari stands frozen in the doorway, shocked, stunned and confused at what she is seeing and hearing. Dismay is written in her eyes and her right hand tightly grips her massive greatsword, though she is too stunned to actually draw the weapon.
After a long silence she finally sputters:
"What!? What is... what!? Masters what are you, I... how is this... I don't understand..."
Zal's eyes go wide. After a moment he regains his composure and makes his way to the front. How will you help us infiltrate evil? And what happens if we will not do what you order us? he asks directly to the pit fiend, steeling himself to keep from shaking in his boots.
Incredulous, Aria shakes her head, her mouth agape. She looks up at Jarrius and whispers "You don't solve rat problems by getting bigger rats, Jarrius!" Shaking slightly, she walks cautiously toward the gigantic "fiend". "You need a measure of trust? I mean you no disrespect, but I don't think we're on the same page. I've read that your kind serve as generals in armies where rank-and-file grunts could rip great mortal heroes to ribbons. What threat could we possibly pose? What's your angle here?"
"It is you trust I need," Rat's Flames corrects. "I know what I am makes it difficult to believe that I follow the truths of the Silver Flame, but what I am is also what has given us this opportunity.
"Much prayer and study has gone into is moment. It is possible to use the evil nature of my race to mask your true intentions from even magical forms of detection. This is why I need your trust however. To accomplish this you will have to make a contract with me."
"We've taken every precaution," Ul'Lisu adds. "This area has been hallowed, the tools and implements have been blessed, and the flameburn has been used on the flames and on Rat's Flames. Even the circle has been altered. If you study if closely you'll see the passages written in it are from our own beliefs and symbol of the Flame appears frequently."
Ko looks thoughtful for a moment. When it speaks, it speaks carefully. "In pursuit of knowledge, trying to find out more about... what it is I do, I've been forced to associate with many persons of questionable morality. Spells that reveal intentions have plagued me from the beginning; If you can truly prevent them from affecting us - however it is you plan to do so - it could be a great boon to me. However, I would not be comfortable agreeing without reading through the contract beforehand."
Last edited by Nihilarian : 11-17-2012 at 07:44 AM.
Aria waves dismissively at Ko, but her eyes quickly widen and, hopefully, clasps her hands under her breast as she says to the devil "Well, I'm fully at your service if you promise to answer all of my obnoxious mortal questions later and let me take notes for the Library in Korranberg! That way everybody wins! You get me, I get to serve the Flame even though I'm terrible about following strict methodological orders that the Church loves to give, the Flame gets a competent team to get important jobs done, and you can help add to our body of knowledge for protecting Khorvaire from the forces of evil!
Aria looks deflated at Zal's retort. "That's not fair! It's not like the Library only benefits Zilargo, you know... Her eyes are then drawn to Ari with concern. She places her hand on Ari's leg and says gently "Hey, come on now big girl, breathe for me, they wouldn't even consider this if it wasn't for the good of the Church and the world. It can't hurt to at least listen, right?"
"I can understand your concerns," Rat's Flames says. "It is a nearly improbable proposition we are placing before you. Normally the contract places your souls into my hands in exchange for power. We have managed to change this contract, binding you to the ideals of the Silver Flame rather than to me. We know the new contract works, but I will admit we do not know the full ramifications. Most of them will not be known until death is visted on those under the contract."
"Change it all you want!" Galstuf exclaims. "Arcutia is still right! This is blasphemy! The idea that fiend could believe in the Silver Flame! That an inquisitor should be seduced by its lies!"
"Enough, Gulstuf!" Ul'Lisu shouts. "Your opinion on the matter is well known. This organization was approved..."
"Barely!" Galstuf interrupts. "By one vote!"
"We are aware of the risks!" Jarrius says. "Do you dare think that I would let evil into the church?! This is an opportunity we can't pass up!"
"This fighting gets us no where," Priest cuts in, his voice booming through the chamber. "Only the results we accomplish will prove our value, but only if we pull together here and now.
"Arcutia, speak with us. What can we do to convince you of our faith and goals?"
Ko glances at Arcutia and preempts her, apologetically "Indeed. This goes against everything I was taught; that Evil Outsiders are the purest evil and must be struck down before their presence causes too much damage to our world. Yet one of the Silver Flames tenets is redemption; Who am I to say whom deserves a second chance? And should this fiend be not truly repentant, then my acceptance will allow me a chance to reveal this treachery. Perhaps at the cost of my body or soul, but if I succeed, the demon will not twist any faithful thereafter."
Ko's words appear to strike a chord with Ari, slowly she removes her hand from her sword, and she begins to breathe more normally, though it takes almost a full minute before she's able to speak in response.
"I... you may be right. I had not considered that and have once again fallen short of the Flame's perfection." Ari still appears perturbed, but takes another long minute before continuing.
"The church has given me everything that I am, and I have worn myself to the church in return. I will obey - but I will not lie, I am... afraid."
Aria jerks around at Rat's Flame and walks toward him again. "Whoa whoa what?! Excuse me? Cute and coy isn't a good look for you, Raz, you've got to play this straight. What do you mean by 'we do not know the full ramifications'? Is that a 'you may feel a slight tingling sensation' we-do-not-know-the-full-ramifications or a 'this little project could either rip your souls asunder or affect apotheosis' we-do-not-know-the-full-ramifications? Are we going to be able to be resurrected if we die in the line of service, or am I going to be some balor's joytoy because I technically made a deal with a devil? What effects do we know, and what are the benefits of this contract?"
Last edited by Saskia : 11-18-2012 at 12:00 AM.
Zal chuckles. Experimentation, gnome. I thought you liked that. Myself aren't got care. 'm gonna end up in Dol, chances are. So Boss, Zal addresses the pit-fiend, his tone more relaxed now that people have admitted to being scared of the devil. my question about getting scrupules, you didn't answer that. Say yes and you can show me where to put my thumb to paper.