Journey to Recovery

Ardal and Ziobohn's Journal - Entry 6
Workshop of Wonders

I was right! Drake’s old workshop held more than I expected within its depths. I think the others expected a huge trove of various magical trinkets but we have stumbled onto something truly extraordinary and dangerous. However, it’s never that easy and it has been a rather interesting adventure.

After skirting the coast for a few days we finally arrived at the old Orcish homelands. We didn’t have much to go on, other than natural monuments which the Orcs held sacred. As we made our way through the jungle we came across a rather well kept, elegant elf. After establishing he was not a threat we had a nice chat about where we came from, why we were here and so on. Doesn’t take long for it to dawn on us he is overbearingly elfy and quite clearly not from these parts, i.e. the Material Plane. Turns out he’s an Azata and apparently Dellisar’s father. What? Although we have only ourselves to blame, none of us actually talk to Dellisar which is rather rude on reflection. I’m sure we’ll have time to talk when we return to the ship. It should be nice to talk with a good outsider for a change. Also, I believe the Azata said his sister was searching for the Cove of the Pirate Queen which can only be host to an immense amount of treasure. Maybe if we have time we can look for that as well.

After some more exploration we came across a perfectly preserved manor at the foot of a mountain and next to a large lake. It couldn’t be anything else, this was Drake’s manor. It was kept perfectly preserved by a legion of imps doing domestic work. Shame we didn’t discover that until the Kitsune skewered one. A floor by floor search didn’t reveal a workshop, but I did find directions through the maze in the garden. It had been a long day so I thought it’d be wise to get some rest before venturing into the maze to presumably find the workshop. Well half the group was so distrustful of the manor they would rather sleep in the scary, dark jungle. More for me I figured. Then I was rudely awoken in the night by Drake’s… nocturnal servants. I just wanted to sleep damn it. Then Slyvester was flying outside the window, babbling on about some weird blood-smelling Drow that is following us. I figured whoever was following us could wait until the morning and proceeded to make a pillow fort in the cleaning supply closet.

After breakfast the next morning we decide to look for this Drow before we look for the workshop. She then tripped on some foliage and fell out of the jungle. I’d mock her for this but I tripped on the step out of the manor myself. Didn’t take us long to surround her and start demanding answers. She was unhelpful and unpleasant so I decided to mess with her. Manifesting Zio I started growling out some nonsense like “YOU THINK TO COMMAND ME MORTAL!?” or something to that effect. The look on her face was priceless. She composed herself quick as she could and said that she’d seen worse than me and that they would rise again. Finally, we were getting somewhere although she was being bloody cryptic about “they”. Taking a closer look at her robes, they were State Wizard in design but in the colours of those who aligned with Molonoch. Putting this together she was probably part of some weird splinter group trying to recreate the Dominion. Given that they haven’t made any progress in near enough a century she got demoted to last place in our list of priorities. I took my leave of her after telling her that I wasn’t actually a demon and I was just messing with her. Others followed suit and I was briefly hopeful that violence would be avoided.

She then ignored my one very important warning about moving and not casting spells. The battle was practically over before it began as a storm of blades, explosives and gunfire tore her apart. She wasn’t dead yet and given the potential information to be gained and unpleasantness to be avoided I asked Dranhiro to make her more amenable and less liable to murder us. He certainly succeeded even if she was a bit out of it. Taking this opportunity, we got what information we could about this group before going back to looking for the workshop. Personally, I’m not entirely comfortable with what we did but it was making the best of a bad situation and the more restrictive suggestions should wear off. Beyond her not killing us or otherwise working against us I’m willing to put up with her awful attitude.

Anyway, following the directions Drake left we found the workshop and its treasures. What treasures indeed. Detailed plans for a dragon shaped airship with extensive modification and adamantium armour plating. This type of ship would be one-of-a-kind and almost uncontested in the skies. Having one of our own would be most useful, but the resources to produce this ship would be immense. We’ll have to consider what to do with those plans. We also found something amazing but absolutely terrifying. Two phlogiston crossbow bolts. With these we’d be capable of razing entire cities, countries or even the world if we aren’t careful in one shot. I hope we never find ourselves in a situation where firing the equivalent of a sun is necessary.

In our possession are a number of artefacts and weapons capable of radically changing and destroying the world. Whatever we do next, we must proceed with extreme caution. Not only are we responsible for our own actions regarding these but we are responsible for the safekeeping of these. If these were to fall into the wrong hands I shudder to think what could happen.

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Ardal and Ziobohn's Journal - Entry 5
Goblins and Moths

With an imminent civil war caused by a fanatic dedicated to a Goddess of Tyranny who is control of the nation’s news sources and has vast personal funding, we decided to leave for a few months to adventure.  In our defence, if we are to have any hope of stopping Calron we need more power, status, money and influence. Particularly money, wars are expensive. I must confess, I’m surprised that the group took my accusations seriously. It was only halfway through my presentation I realised the only evidence I had that wasn’t circumstantial was a single conversation I had with him. Clearly I’m just that persuasive.  Lord Ravensburg also gifted as an amazing ship and it would be rude to not use it.

So, we set course for Solutem, thinking it wise to stop off there to resupply and investigate the collapsed tunnels. It wasn’t long into the voyage when Dranhiro took ill, vomiting thick black sludge and his assumed form fading to his more “natural” one.  Given that demons are immune to mortal diseases I was more than a little confused and worried. The best theory we had that his being not evil was affecting him physically, seeing as he’s physically made of sin. I did my best to provide for him but extra-planar being medicine is not my area of expertise. Thankfully he made a recovery, although he looks much weaker now. I suppose that shouldn’t be too surprising given how much he… expelled.

Moving on from such unsanitary topics. We arrived at Solutem and after checking to see how everyone is doing we set off into the dark tunnels again. I’m not sure what I expected to find down there aside from more hydras but I certainly did not expect to find an entire city filled goblins and their constructs. Thankfully, they get easily confused if you tell outlandish lies. The goblins had apparently retreated here during The Fall which was apparently a great idea because I’m sure nobody knew this place existed. It was certainly a marvel to witness a civilisation so technologically and magically advanced. Although I don’t trust those constructs especially after my last run in with constructs. Then the goblins had to ruin it all by worshipping the god that caused the apocalypse. I really should have mentioned that not only the god they were worshipping was the reason they had to retreat underground for a century but also, he was dead. My lawyering instincts were reminding me of the old adage of not asking questions you don’t already know the answer to. You might not get the answer you want. So instead I decided to set up a trade deal with these untrustworthy demon worshipping goblins with the creepy automatons. Ironically, I feel more safe for having Mal iron out the contract details even if they had an infernal lawyer of their own. In fact, clearly the cosmos is a smaller place than I thought because we had the luck of Drake showing up. He’s got his own firm apparently, so maybe he won’t mind when we go to his old workshop and steal everything that looks even somewhat valuable.

After that we returned to the surface to explain what we found and plan our journey going forward. Dellisar didn’t like that the goblins thought the Tiefling Empire was too politically unstable to deal with currently. The current plan is to sail east to the Old Dominion and raid Drake’s workshop, then on the return journey visit the currently unexplored northern continent. All told it could be a year before we return to the empire, if there is even one to return to.

There’s even more reason to suspect that collapse is inevitable than from just political instability. We noticed a mysterious being following us and from Delaine’s testimony apparently the same being that was present in the train tunnels all those months ago. Wanting to languish in ignorance no longer we set up an ambush for the creature. It got away but not before we could identify it. A mothman. A being most known for continually appearing during disasters and view themselves as agents of fate, ensuring that events turn out how they are “fated” to. Given the morbid patterns of recent events I’m not sure I like where this mothman is trying to take us. Besides who cares what “fate” wants, I’ll be damned before I let some vague metaphysical force tell me what to do. 

Who knows, maybe this might just be all a big misunderstanding. In any case we have a magical workshop to raid and a continent to explore, I’ll deal with horrific fated events when they get here and not a moment before.

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Ardal and Ziobohn's Journal - Entry 4
Conspiracy

When I first dedicated myself to the liberation of my people I knew that such a cause would be fraught with danger. Playing the political game is dangerous at the best of times but the current situation is not particularly stable. Advocating for a people’s liberation whilst the government is clashing with nationalist movements over the issue of autonomy is an uphill battle. My plan to infiltrate the tiefling nobility was more dangerous still and I expected nothing less than numerous assassination attempts. I expected to be denigrated, to be face political roadblocks at every step of the way. Ultimately however I expected such actions to be motivated purely by politics and self-interest. I thought I understood the political landscape and its players. Then I went to a ball.

The ball was a decadent affair but I must confess I was enjoying myself. My suit was impeccably tailored and my disguise had everyone fooled. I must admit my boldness surprised even myself, the exhilaration of tricking everyone and the terror that I might be found out was an intoxicating mixture. Speaking of intoxication, the wine and other spirits were of supreme quality. However, I wasn’t there for the drink, the fine music or the pomp and ceremony. I was there to enjoy the fine company of nobility and ensure that I was the one everyone would talk about come the ball’s end. It’s who you know after all. In that regard things were going very well as I toured the nobility of the various nations. Eventually I made my way to Eulisses’ clique hoping to impress upon him that I’m not an enemy and things would be a lot easier if he didn’t treat me as such. He didn’t even recognise me. While I was there to try and mend things I couldn’t help but enjoy the look on his face when I insisted we had met before. I had little luck on that front, so I left him my card so as he could get in contact when he got over it. I even had a chat with the Emperor who seemed a pleasant sort and greatly enjoyed my tales of exploration. Don’t think his wife liked that I was distracting him from his stately duties.

The ball was quite enjoyable, one of the few things my host can do well is get attention. It was the talk of the ball, a real charmer. Although that didn't stop it having it's fun making Euilisses squirm because of his disguise. Then the King was infatuated with us, suprising to get such well deserved admiration and adoration from such naive and inept mortals. Although our fun was to come to an end when my host decided to talk to Calron Delmach.

By far the most important conversation of the night however was with Calron Delmach. From what he had gathered he was Eulisses’ greatest political rival and staunch advocate for greater autonomy. I intended to talk with all the big players anyway but given how stubborn Eulisses was being I figured I would make a show of the conversation to aggravate him. If he won’t work with me, others will. At first, he seemed like just the man I was looking for. Amiable, determined, a strong advocate for freedom and looking for allies. I couldn’t help but think of this man as natural ally. We found somewhere more private to discuss things more fully. I even slipped my disguise briefly to show that I was certainly not part of the established order and had worked hard to even be here.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.

I sat back in horror watching this man manage to goad my hosts ego. Constantly flattering him and making him "happy". Happiness is an illusion and hopefully this will teach the host a lesson. If people are flattering you enjoy it but always be aware they're only doing it because they're after something. Everyone always wants someone or something, no one is ever satisfied with what they have…

Anyway, after that Calron revealed what kind of man he really is.  My suspicions were first twigged when his underlings spoke of going much further than reform. I brushed it away as little more than drunken admirers getting overexcited.  Then, when I made it clear that my people required a strong tiefling state to trade and otherwise ally with he started to speak. The words he said were innocuous in context, he would like nothing more than a strong state and certainly had no intention of dividing and destroying this nation.  His eyes however, and his tone and rate of speech. This wasn’t a man giving a political response. He was preaching, lost in fervour. Being in his presence became uncomfortable. I might have just ignored him as a madman but something clicked. Maldrek’s lessons were about to pay off in the most horrifying way. Calron had fought his way from Prudentia. Prudentia was administrated by none other than Vioreck Obitus. Under Vioreck the church and the state were one and the same, a theocracy to the goddess Rolterra. This regime was incredibly popular. There was no crime, no dissent, nothing that would threaten the stability of the realm. This is because Rolterra is a goddess of tyranny, not as powerful as say, Asmodeus, but just as insidious.

I need a drink, back in a moment.

Right well I guess I'll take over then… So this continent's doomed. Just get that out there. They aren't coming to overthrow everything. They aren't planning or scheming for something down the line. They're here already. And they're winning. If there was one thing of good that came out of the Abyssal Hosts invasion it was annihilating that man Vioreck. And now his legacy lives on in this fanatic. That I had to lock eyes with as it ranted about order and stability. Both of those things are awful blights on a world ripe for the plucking. 

Alright pop quiz, name a subdomain of Rolterra.

Being an asshole

Here’s one: Revolution.

Oh

Not for the purposes of liberation or freedom of course. No, a revolution lead by strong figureheads and demagogues to overthrow weak and ailing governments. Once they are in charge church and state merges becoming a theocratic tyranny.

Here’s another: Expansion

I can't guess any of these…

Because one isn’t enough. Nothing is ever enough. The cosmos could be crushed under Rolterra’s adamantium heel and it wouldn’t be enough. Once established they support and fund revolutions elsewhere.

Here’s another fun fact: To this end, Rolterran worshippers and clergy tend to be extremely charismatic and convincing as to sway and incite the populace. They often masquerade as bards.

Final quiz: Who is a charismatic figurehead, lived in Prudentia during the Rolterran regime, lauded as a hero, actively works against the ruling government and owns the largest coalition of bardic colleges in the land?

Got it in one. Calron Delmach.

I did not take this revelation well. I excused myself and attempted to blend back into the party. This evening would be full of surprises however, as Eulisses noticed that something was off and in a show of compassion seemed genuinely concerned. I’m ashamed to say I practically broke into tears. He escorted me to his office and began to enquire as to what the hell was going on. I decided to tell him everything, including my own personal position in all of this because as far as I’m concerned this became about a lot more than political games. For once he was actually reasonable, I think he understood just how bad this situation is. Well it was about to get worse. After that I got some liquid courage and finished the night with a song I prepared earlier about sailing the high seas and exploration.

You know it's bad when that asshole is playing nice. Like seriously the worst. He did bring in some nice wine for me though, well appreciated. I'm surprised by how well I handled everything, especially given these cultists have founded a faith on insurrection. Don't get me wrong I hate this Empire what with it's tolerance and low crime rates and no demons being allowed in. But I have no words to describe my fear of what they would create. Lawful and Chaotic evils are true enemies of each other. We're evil but they put thought into their evil. Demons fear the iron cages of hell… The Red Palace is our worst nightmares… And yet I'm not scared of this man and his ambitions. After all this is a strong Empire. I'm sure the Empire will endure. 

Now rumours of a non-tiefling being sworn into the Book of Blood are spreading like wildfire. So, that’s how it’s going to be Calron? Well if he thinks I’m just going to sit here and let him put not only my people but everyone back in chains he’s got another thing coming. Like all the others he underestimates me and it will be his undoing.

That’s not all however, rumours of a more… salacious nature are also spreading. That the First Minister is consorting with a demon. The timing is rather suspect don’t you think? Those that know about this visit a ball with influential nobles, then suddenly this rumour appears. I mean it wasn’t the Church that found out, they’d prove it with the corpse of a demon. It wouldn’t be any sorcerers capable of seeing through the disguise, because they’d be in Eulisses’ clique. I don’t know this for certain but I’m positive it was one of us. I don’t know why, and really, I don’t care who but this could endanger Dranhiro’s life and I won’t have it.

Then there’s the issue that a couple of low level civil servants have been rather nastily killed. I don’t know the details there but it’s causing bloody havoc as far as administering the realm is concerned. I hope this is just a freak occurrence and there isn’t any sort of conspiracy at work.

We're all going to die. He's already putting plans into action. This is the beginning of the end. And not the end our great lord promised us all… WHY DOES NOTHING GO RIGHT?!

Well, at least things can’t get much worse, right?

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Ardal and Ziobohn's Journal - Entry 3
Boons

Great news! As you might have guessed we were not horribly murdered and/or enslaved by Maldrek. In fact he was rather grateful for being released so he offered to grant us all a boon. Normally I am pretty hesitant about accepting rewards from evil creatures but we had already released him and this wasn't contingent on us serving him so it seemed an awful waste to refuse. Besides if we remained modest and careful nothing too bad could happen, right?

 

Nisha is now at least half-devil and the Rat is now a vampire.

 

We now have a dagger capable of damning those slain by it to Hell.

 

Maldrek will now be accompanying us on our travel back to teach me the history of the Dominion and Sylvester arcane knowledge.

 

Every part of my being is screaming for us to flee. When face to face with an Infernal Duke that is the only sane response. But no, let's ask for things… it must have twisted those gifts beyond recognition. I mean becoming a vampire and devil isn't that bad, it's the less obvious ones I'm, concerned about. What is that thing going to teach my host and that wizard, knowledge is power and power corrupts. I would be overjoyed by the possibility of corrupting this weak host but how can I compete with that abomination?

 

Well, it could have went worse. It is rather difficult to set positive moral examples to our new friends when one of your colleagues chooses to become a representation of evil in front of your eyes. Aside from it being a perfect example of what not to do. As for Maldrek accompanying us, honestly I'm not too concerned. I may have set a precedent for evil creatures following us. I'm sure once we get to know each other properly that we'll become fast friends and that he'll see tyranny is bad.

 

As if this couldn't get any worse, that thing is now coming with us. Why is it only me and the rat that seems to be concerned with this development?! It's one thing to bring vanquished demons that they know they can beat, a whole other to bring not only an Infernal Duke but a Master of Magic at that! Also there's the damn Dragon to be concerned over, a quiet one but still a shifty one. We've seen him change his form already, what's to say his metallic form wasn't another ploy that these imbeciles haven't seen through?!

 

But enough of that! We also did some actual exploration as well! Turns out the palace is still staffed by some mysterious clockwork constructs which toil endlessly preparing food and keeping the palace as intact as they can. If we could get one of those constructs onto the ship and analyse it's inner workings that would be another impressive patent. With the palace explored we made for the only other intact building in the city, the fortress.

 

It was quite nice to be waited on quite so efficiently. Shame they dropped the plan to kidnap one of the servants and se what made them tick. Could have used those for… well everything. The dominion evidently had no lack of random trinkets and toys to keep themselves amused. A shame I was only brought through after the fall. I imagine I would have had quite a different life if let lose in the dominion in it's prime…

 

Following the Rat's lead we descended into the basement of the fortress where his impressive sense of smell alerted him to something. Scouting ahead he found multiple people dressed in fine garb but with obviously decaying flesh. Deciding they probably didn't mean us well we tried sneaking up on them. I unfortunately managed to hit every single obstacle on the way, destroying any advantage we might have had. When we arrived where the enemy was supposed to be we found nothing… until they descended from the ceiling. Ghouls. Ambushed, surrounded and paralysed from their touch things were looking rather dire. Unfortunately for them I don't require things like muscle control to move as Ziobohn helpfully got us out of that situation. When I regained control over my muscles in a show of team effort we scared the crap out of them (being wreathed in shadows with a demon voice helps). Between my terror and the terror of being utterly destroyed by the rest of the team they fled leaving us free to explore the rest of the basement.

 

I'm not entirely sure what was going on in this fortress but it can't have been good. There was a line of cells containing strange, chimeric creatures most likely left to starve once The Fall happened. More importantly there was a strange summoning circle, designed for a specific creature and used only once. Amongst the blood soaked engravings there was a name that stood out. Obitus. That name just keeps coming up recently. Talking with Maldrek later this is apparently was related to his father, Vioreck Obitus. To make a long story short his father had fused with a shadow demon but was eventually killed and sent to Hell. He quickly distinguished himself in Hell and became rather influential due to his capacity to get things done. However someone really hated him and wanted to summon him from Hell so that he could kill him again. He gave this information over to the Dominion which then summoned Vioreck but did not kill him but rather made use of his services.

 

I swear I know that name from somewhere I just can't seem to recall… I don't think it was good… Frankly whatever man somehow has an Infernal Duke as a son is utterly terrifying.

 

Anyway, moving from the basement we heard gunfire and saw a small squad of very old elves fighting against ghouls. After the ghouls were defeated we discovered these were the last survivors of this fortress. I can't imagine the horror of having to fight for your life against the evil remnants of this place for nearly a century. They were overjoyed that someone had come to their rescue and I began to escort them to the safety of the palace. Then I remembered that Maldrek still looked terrifying and had the crown of an Infernal Duke which seemed like the last thing these survivors would want to see. So I went ahead to convince Maldrek to look slightly less terrifying.

 

It would seem he didn't take me saying that Angels were prettier and less immediately terrifying than him well and he nearly killed me when he sucker punched me in anger. That is no way to respond even if it is a grave insult to him! I'm pretty sure my jaw is out of place and I've broken at least 2 ribs. Still, he has worked very hard to appear like he does and it isn't nice to insult him (even if Angels are prettier). I'll have to make it up to him. I'm thinking I shall bake some cookies and give a sincere apology. Hopefully we can then move on from this and get back to becoming friends!

 

While I felt the pain just as acutely as my host did, I now feel I have something in common with the Duke. It can be quite infuriatingly insulting to have someone insult your own designed form. But still this just reinforces my fears, not only capable of abusing the arcane arts to his own ends, he's also just really damn strong…

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Ardal and Ziobohn's Journal - Entry 2
Mistakes

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.

 

Mistake.

 

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

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Nisha's journal 3

Having bested another demon of impressive cunning i am beginning to think that these creatures are not quite what they have been played up to be. Although whether this is true for the greater of there kind is yet to be seen. It will be an interesting Endeavour to pry knowledge from there skulls but i believe that with the right tools one could do such a think.  

With the shadow demon beaten the old mans house became a wealth of knowledge to be explored, my particular interest lay in the stone in his attic what power could it possibly have contained to create such a vast empire.  it is of the utmost importance that these gems are studied and explored to there full potential, however whether the current empire is capable of implementing it correctly i am unsure. For my once devout loyalty to the empire is shaken i see so much that is so obtainable and yet none have done so. The items in these new lands speak of unrivaled power. I must see more of both the old and the new before my judgment is absolute but for now i see flaws that must be corrected within my once beloved empire. 

However on to matters of a more current nature, the discovery of the old capital is most impressive what a magnificent wealth of knowledge it must have been in times of glory. Even know secrets are still buried throughout  and with the help of my sword i have obtained perhaps a means ot obtained such knowledge the discovery of my blades old study i have found perhaps the most interesting of discoveries a book of great importance one which belonged to my sword in his life and was his source of power. I cannot wait to be alone with it for some time before i can examine it in more details. That and the shards fo the staff of power all lead towards an interesting mystery of power. 

The gold i regret to say is another example of how i find my own empire lacking the grandeur of it all the power to contained. The ability to kill a dracolich is one thing the ability to have do it to itself in a pit of gold is another. if i had the time i would study it but alas the gold bring us to the next intriguing development the two that where trapped within the vault.

the offspring of an infernal duke is quite a monstrous creature and the fact it was contained even more monstrous the power required to do such a thing would be astronomical it must have taken a powerful being to do such a thing. Oh how i would love to pick that brain and find the secrets it contained but unfortunately i feel for the time being i will have to wait and see what information i can obtain merely through conversation. 

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Ardal and Ziobohn's Journal - Entry 1
New Friends

Given recent events I felt it was appropriate to start a new journal, after all it would be terribly rude to give only myself the opportunity to note down my thoughts. This shall be a shared journal between myself, Ardal and my new friend Ziobohn.

 

I've never really been one for sharing. Well not for as long as I can remember anyway. Whilst in the abyss all I knew was hiding in the shadows and avoiding the creatures that dwelled there. But one could not stray too far into the depths, for therein lay abominations even demons feared. But since I was summoned I was only focused on breaking that wizard in. Like a pair of shoes. Just took time. But this host is different.

 

Normally people either get overwhelmed with the possibilities and attempt to strike bargains to get our ilk to serve them or they panic and try to flee. I've never heard of a group beating not one but two demons into submission and then trying to reform them… I suppose I should be grateful. But I can't find it in myself to look past the sheer stupidity of it. How someone in the group isn't pregnant with demon spawn yet I'll never know.

 

It's been a mixed bag recently. On the one hand we are intrepid adventurers with all the fun and glory such a job title infers. On the other hand things haven't been going as well. Firstly, had a shadow demon rip me apart from the inside. Was rather painful and marks the 5th time I have nearly died. Secondly, Eulisses thinks he is real funny guy. I'm sure he could barely contain his laughter watching me go through the hoops to become nobility.

 

You know what?

 

Getting real sick of people treating my existence as a joke. Their condescending attitude of “aw, look at him try”. When really if they had to suffer through what I had to suffer to get here they would have given up long ago. I digress, Euilisses's “joke” complicates matters. However if he will make it impossible for me to work within the current structures then I will work outside of them. I don't need him, or his friends, or his influence or his damn book. His arrogance will be his undoing.

 

This hosts aspirations while admirable are just as foolish. Why it wants to have its people be free I'll never know. How can a creature that was raised in a state they described to me not want to be the Emperor? Why wouldn't it want the power, fame, glory or anything?! While surrounded by these… eccentric allies, anything could eventually be possible. Everything could be theirs! Why would it not take all it deserved and then whatever else it can claw away from others?! Why should anyone get what it doesn't?

 

I shouldn't get so worked up.

 

Also now have Ziobohn in my head which is… different. I'm sure the rest of the group thinks me mad or worse. I can't in good conscience deny a creature's request for mercy though. I guess they don't get that there's good in everyone even if you can't see it. Honestly I don't expect anyone to get it. That's fine though, I'll bear that burden by myself if need be.

 

At some point this host will understand. It seems to have gotten this notion that there's "good" in everything. It needs to see that it's the other way around. No matter how good something seems to be, there's darkness within. Everything is evil at its core and its either blatant like a demon or hidden like an angel. The sooner it understands this, the sooner we can take what we deserve from the world.

 

Now before we head off to the capital I should really figure out how I'm going to feed us. Generally speaking abyssal leaks aren't exactly common. Eating people's souls is out of the question. I think I'll just ask Dranhiro, I imagine he'll know what to do.

 

Italicised excerpts written while Ziobohn was in control… of one hand

 

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Ardal's Journal - Entry 3
Entrepreneur

It's good to be back safe and sound. Thankfully our last adventure prior to leaving did not result in me almost dying again. Found an old Dominion research centre, long abandoned and rusted away. I think the others found some things of interest, I was more interested in the strange geometry caused by the abyssal leak in the basement until it was revealed to be an illusion. Apparently some form of evil outsider summoning was going on there. Dangerous research to be sure. Speaking of evil outsiders I finished reading that goblin journal we found. Some useful information but mostly gibberish. Maybe I should give it to Nisha, she likes books but I don't think she can read goblin. Might compile an annotated version if I have the time.

 

Anyway we made it home safe and managed to pick up a sizeable payment for our services. That wasn't all however. It took some time, a little under the table dealing and lots of unnecessary attention (turns out most bureaucrats haven't seen a kobold do law before) but I managed to set up a web of numerous companies and patent our discoveries under them. Thankfully our wizard managed to make me a hat to disguise myself so I don't distract everyone when I try to work. It was only after I was done that I was informed that Dranhiro had just disappeared without telling anyone and decided to have a nice trip to the palace. I swear if he doesn't shorten my already short life by obligating me to ritualistic suicide then he'll do it with worry. Does he just not care what I risk for him? It was a long day and I decided to go back home to do the most important job of all. Tell stories to the little ones.

 

Unfortunately I was cut short when Reg came bumbling into the camp looking for me. Apparently Eulisses Crimson, First Minister of the Tiefling Empire had arrived looking rather upset demanding to meet with the owners of the company New World Designs. It turns out that military spending is rather high in Tiefling Empire and increased costs of having to construct patented designs is unacceptable. Who could have possibly guessed? Thankfully he was much more calm after I explained that whilst we required reimbursement to continue our very important of work of making the world a better place, that it need not be financial in nature. After all there is much a First Minister can do to help us. After business was concluded things were much more pleasant and I think I made a good impression on him.

 

As much as I enjoy being home, it won't be long until we return to adventure. After all, a Free State isn't going to build itself.

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Nisha's journal 2

The most peculiar event has occurred the sword which I was training with and examining has begun to speak, not well for that matter, but still its sudden consciousness is most remarkable especially when combine with the fact that no one else seems to have the faintest notion of its Awareness. Whether or not this is some demon trick or I have simply gone insane has yet to be seen I do believe it will become a valuable tool. This requires further study.   

The discovery of the abandoned research lab was most pleasing it offered a great chance for some investigating into past events and fields of study, the identification of the leak was rather unsettling but it was still an informative experience none the less. The research these people were doing was quite thrilling with the actual examination of outsiders on a more physical level quite intriguing indeed. It was a shame to find little of higher value or anyone still there but I’m sure with further studying into such facilities there is likely to be more of them scattered around. My new acquired companion seems to be interested as much as I am in this location however the particular mention of Mortanis infuriated it to no end.  This requires further study.

The return to the capital was a welcome change in scenery, I have to say this is clearly the kobolds area of expertise the small creature is actually starting to prove to be an increasingly more valuable member of our group perhaps I was wrong about the value they hold but of course it will take further work with him to know more.  The other members seem well meaning enough with the wizard and alchemist having the most inline views to my own. The only thorn would be the kitsune who has a few strange notions. I am most intrigued about a meeting with the first Minster who happens to have presented himself to us at the most opportune moment, I would like to see if he can provide myself with some form of research or contractual work for the empire to have an invested interest in out particular actions. This will require further action.

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Ardal's Journal - Entry 2
Regime Change

Well after a fun night of drinks and merriment (most of which I don't remember) we returned to the tunnels for some more exploration. Unfortunately all we found was a collapsed tunnel and an angry hydra. If I take nothing else from this adventure at least I now know that hydras are a lot more nimble than they look. Charging forth was not a good idea. Still here though, so can't complain too much. Without any real method to make sure the hydra stays dead we've captured it instead and I think the plan is to sell it on to whatever idiot wants a hydra for a pet. The other plan to permanently mutilate the beast to sell it's meat sends shivers up my spine. To even contemplate… I digress. Dellisar hired out some labourers to clear the tunnel so we should be able to follow that up again soon.

 

So without much to do in the meantime I suggested my plan to investigate the kobold chieftain and institute some “regime change”. Everyone was rather sceptical of my claims but once I pointed out they'd get to see kobolds fight and maybe die suddenly they were on board. That was more than a little depressing. After some investigating it seemed quite likely that the chieftain was actually a demon and put forth funds to properly equip us for the fight. With traps, cold iron, grenades and holy balm in hand we set up an ambush that went almost perfectly. The demon teleporting out of the trap was somewhat unexpected be we'd set things in favour too much for it to be to much of a setback. As for the demon itself, I managed to convince my colleagues to not finish him. Looking at him, after the beating he took from us he looked quite pathetic. I also think the conditions are just right to redeem him. Of course anyone with any sense is quick to point out “Hey Ardal, demons are literally made of sin you dummy” but I am of the belief that almost all sin is committed with ultimately good intentions. If I am correct then somewhere, buried deep within, is a tiny spark of good. On a more practical level someone with the skill set of an Incubus is always going to be useful. I'd like to say that staking my life on his redemption was a carefully calculated move and that all is going according to plan but really it just happened. I suppose it's always good to have sufficient motivation!

 

But enough talk of Dranhiro (that is his name)! I have taken a good look at the newly liberated village and manage to conduct a census and there is great news! There are far more than 50 kobolds here and the village is positively thriving. I'll need to ensure certain safeguards are set up but as starting points go I could scarcely ask for more. There's a lot of work ahead of us but with righteousness on our side we can hardly fail.

 

I think our work here is nearly done, once the collapsed tunnel is explored I think we will probably be returning home. I hope we can turn our successes here into further successes.

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