We may have made a mistake. A rather serious one. Okay, more than one but honestly the others were not entirely my fault.
First mistake was the Abyssal Leak incident. On our way to the capital we came upon a village, razed to it's very foundations save for a single building which I assume was a church. Things were going quite well, we had even found a branch from the Tree of Life. To find such an artefact is a great boon! Hopefully we can safeguard it long enough to bring it home to those who can properly protect such a holy object.
Recently though it seems that the good inevitably comes with a lot of bad. Firstly, turns out I can't touch anything holy any more. Apparently having a shadow demon possess you will do that. Secondly there was an abyssal leak in the basement. Fortunately it was properly contained. On the surface it seemed an easy chance to get some “food” but disturbing the wards containing the leak, if not dealt with correctly, could be Very Bad. Just as I was voicing this opinion things went cold and dark.
When I came to there was lots of panicking, both externally and inside my head. The seals were broken and the leak was spreading at an alarming rate. Seriously Ziobohn? Thankfully I knew the ritual used to contain the leak and managed to contain the leak again, although the wards are much weaker now.
Given the implications of an uncontrolled infinity leaking into the very much finite that could have went much worse. Managed to get some “food” out of the farce, so at least that is one issue I needn't worry about.
If the first mistake was a farce, the next was tragedy. We encountered another of those undead children. However this time, instead of destroying the poor soul we decided to play it's game. It was going well and I was actually enjoying a light-hearted childish game (not to mention my hiding spot was amazing). Then a shot rang out. Delain apparently had enough of this and blasted the child in two. I… why!? I don't understand! A peaceful resolution was possible but instead he shot a child! When I think of those poor souls I can't help but think of the little ones back home and my blood runs cold.
The next day we made our way into the capital proper, seeking knowledge and riches. We found both in plentiful supply. In the burned out library of the palace Nisha found personal journals in a secluded office. Deeper in the palace there were occasional screams. Following them, we found a sea of gold. An absolutely obscene amount of wealth and it was ours for the taking. I've read this story before though. This amount of wealth, concentrated in one area? There must be some great personal challenge, that is just how it works! As it turns out the gold was cursed, sometimes the greatest challenge is knowing when to let go.
Thankfully I didn't have to find a path through the cursed gold, as Ziobohn helpfully manifested some shadowy wings to carry us over it. Thanks, Ziobohn!
Deep within the palace we found the source of the screaming. In the shadow of the corpse of a dracolich, was an elf with very expensive clothing and magical items was immersed in the gold. However more importantly there was a soul gem which spoke with us.
Quite understandably, the entrapped soul wished to be free of it's imprisonment. While I'm very much against the eternal imprisonment of souls, given the history of this location it would be wise to know who exactly was imprisoned before we release them. Handily soul gems have the names of those imprisoned inside etched on them.
Maldrek Stohlvenege Obitus.
I'm good with names and Obitus rang a bell. If memory serves he was a famous prophet for a lawful god. Maldrek said that was his father. With no real reason to keep him imprisoned any longer we use the Branch to resurrect him.
As I said I'm good with names. Chances are if you are important I can name you and most of your family tree. So imagine my surprise when from out of the gem crawls an Infernal Duke. A Lord of Tyranny. One of the most powerful beings in the cosmos. Pardon the pun, but what the hell? Who is this person? In fact, it's rather curious because it initially had a form with a goat head which is inconsistent with what I know of Infernal Dukes.
Also apparently the elf in the gold was actually a dragon.
If I didn't know any better I would say I was trapped in a horrific nightmare from which I can't wake.
For the most part I am willing to sit back and observe the events of the world through this miniscule host. It turns out that once you're welcomed in you can have a lot of fun with someone's psyche. Multiple personality disorder ain't got nothing on me. I don't think the other personality is autonomous enough to literally make their home within the persons mind… maybe I should invite guests over at some point. Show off what I've made of the place.
But simply getting to observe tends to drag on somewhat. We agree on very little and it's infuriating to witness him make such mistakes. So I took it upon myself to talk to the incubus, something that just doesn't happen in the abyss. It's such a foreign concept, cooperation. But it would appear my host was more willful than I expected. Even whilst asleep I couldn't immediately claim control… well with my first attempt anyway. Eventually taking control I spoke to the incubus in the night. After a few minutes I realized he is as disappointing as the rest of this lot. Actually denying himself and trying to control his desires. What have they done to him?! Maybe it's more subtle and insidious than I imagined…
But moving on we made our way to the capital of the great Dominion. A nation whose military and navy even the other planes took note of. How the mighty can fall. The walls of the capital lay shattered having collapsed in on themselves and destroyed the buildings behind them. Only two buildings remained in tact. A massive and decadent palace literally wreathed in gold and a fortress which looks to have come out of an extraplanar invasion relatively intact.
But it would appear even a self proclaimed freedom fighting kobold can't deny himself a building literally built with gold. So going through the side entrance we found the remnants of the Royal Archives. The tomes had been put to the torch and the destruction of the building was clearly the stage for some poor bastards last stand. Whoever it was had broken a staff of power in a last defiant act. I don't want to imagine seeing a group that could take such an attack and still press on.
While the two tieflings and the kitsune set off to the office of some Dominion wizard, the rest of us pressed on. Well until we heard it. The shrieking. I couldn't place any emotion in it. It wasn't quite fear, pain or panic… It was unsettling… even for me. Eventually we started making our way towards it. What lay before us was truly awe inspiring. A literal sea of gold, gems and trinkets. It was beautiful. But my host had a point, something like that is nearly always going to be cursed. Either jumping, flying or tiptoeing we crossed the gold without touching it to find an elf wailing in the gold. His eyes were out of focus and tears stained his face. Around him were the corpses or various woodland animals I can only assume he'd eaten. Then my hosts eyes fell on what I can only describe as his greatest fear. A dracolich. Poor bastard nearly had a heart attack, I stepped in to calm the beating before it popped out of his chest.
But once it was ascertained that it was dead the wizard found quite the curiosity. A soulgem. With the name Maldrek Stohlvenege Obitus inscribed upon it. I had no idea who this was but my host believed he was in some way linked to a Dominion prophet. Apparently he was right, this was his son. Something seemed off though and I really couldn't place it… the voice was wrong and the name… I knew that name. But my host and it's compatriots began reviving the soul trapped in the gem while blocking out the random screams emanating from the elf.
Taking a break to have a nap we marched to the kings quarters, shoved skeleton of a pit fiend off the bed and crawled in. This didn't seem to register until we awoke to the Kitsune crying out for help. Apparently Mal wasn't as innocent as he claimed to be as the soul gem cracked open to release darkness upon the room. Crawling out of said shadows first we saw the claws, the head of a goat and the undeniable crown of an Infernal Duke. With a shriek of, "TYRANT!" my host began to panic. But the monster before us began to shift. Shrinking. It's jet black fur exceeded showing red scaled skin. Eventually that paled into the pale skin of an elf. But all the while the crown of horns remained… reminding us of what we were face to face with.
As if only to scare my host he asked if he could cure his fiancé of his insanity. My host couldn't deny such a pure and innocent request… he failed to ask the question, "WHO WOULD MARRY A DAMN INFERNAL DUKE?!" Well it turned out to be a dragon of all things. It writhed in the arms of the duke as it grew and retook it's form as a dragon… who know's maybe they'll be nice… we can only hope