Fruit of the Fallen
Rodan - The Harvest of Khyber
Blackroot was the start of it all. Before, I was but a humble cleric running from my own mistakes. Blackroot changed it all. After that village, I began running from other people’s mistakes too.
Blackroot was where I joined with the others. It’s where I met the dark being, Belashyrra. Most importantly, it’s where I started to fight back.
Before sunrise, in Blackroot
There are many ungodly things I have witnessed, more pain and suffering than even She has caused me, which occurred in the past day, the past night, than I believe I have ever seen. For sanity’s sake, a sanity that was recently bent, twisted, and nearly broken last night, I will attempt recount the events in order.
Most of yesterday was uneventful, as many of my days will now seem in comparison with this night. Our travels, for 29A16, as he called himself, and I, were mostly filled with discussions on the topic of culture, compassion, and community. 29, as I have abbreviated his full title, in turn talked of his past, though some of it I did not fully understand. I arrived in the town nearly an hour before nightfall, clothes slightly damp with the early rain that day had brought, when I found myself in the presence of who I assumed to be my compatriots. The village chieftain, or what passes for one in these lands, greeted us and informed us that our target had left the village. Pleading the time of day and our sore legs, he relented in letting us stay in Doria’s vacated cottage. It was at this time I became fully acquainted with the people on whom my life would soon depend on: the Machine, the Traveler, the Warrior, and the Mystery.
There was the Machine, 29A16, who I have already mentioned. He I have described adequately, though I feel I have barely scratched the metallic surface of whatever knowledge lies within his alloyed frame.
Then there was the Traveler. I would soon come to realize that Amrek was not of this plane when I saw his true face. He was unlike any race I have seen or read about, and by his speech I gathered that he has a long and dark past with the one who is now our mutual enemy. Despite all of this, he seems a trustworthy man, one who has known more pain and loss than I have.
Then there is the Warrior, Xargrax. A dragonborn, he seemed the serious type, who reacted to madness with cool determination or fierce rage, depending on what form it assaulted his mind with. His strength saved us many times from death.
Then, last of our wayward five, is the Mystery. Zarra is an enigma, not in the way of 29, whose past promises intrigue and tales of glorious battle, rather, a different breed of puzzle. All I know of him is his name, his race (Drow), and his ties to House Therasck. Besides that, I know next to nothing about him. In fact, I am not entirely confident as to his, or her, gender. This rather fits its role in our merry band, as it appears Zarra has some training with stealth and a dagger. Though it may not be the hardiest of us, it certainly contributed to our victory this day.
After meeting with Blackroot’s leader, we headed to Doria’s cabin. We noticed immediately that something was wrong with the house. Within the empty lounge, we found a dagger tip, an obviously broken chair, and a disgusting symbol, accented with a mummified eye in the center. Amrek took charge the moment we made these discoveries, and we for the most part let him as he seemed to know what was going on. He spoke of the Daelkyr, and of one in particular, the Lord of Eyes. It was at this moment that three full moons appeared in the sky, and it became immediately clear that something was very wrong. We went to the village square and found a scene of total desertion.
A Dark Harvest
From that moment on, until the time of this writing, the night became a battle against demons and possessed villagers alike. It started when we saw two villagers running for the nearby arbor. Amrek managed to bring one down, and after healing the resulting arrow wound I managed to take him out of the fight without killing him. Such tactics I find preferable to outright slaughter, for many reasons.
The other villager was killed, although not before he alerted four others, who engaged us under the blackroot trees. The others quickly made work of them as I provided support, after which I we turned our attention back onto the unconscious villager. Amrek removed an eye from the orc’s body (one located in a place other than his skull), and he was suddenly returned to his senses. At that point I began to have a glimmer of understanding as to what was going on. We pressed further into the cave they were guarding, where my suspicions were confirmed. Lining the walls of the entrance were the names of those captured in earlier times, and supposedly sacrificed to this Lord of eyes. If Doria was still alive, we were certain she was in that cave.
The cave itself was protected by a sigil, which we managed with some difficulty. However, my shoulder has healed, and I have forgiven Amrek for his trespass. We then faced a small army which included in its numbers a beast like man, but with tentacles flailing from its torso, as well as a giant eye whose spells hampered us in our journey. All were defeated, however, and in doing so an unholy portal was opened.
The mythos of Eberron speak of Khyber being formed from the body of a great dragon. Though I cannot confirm this, my experiences make me question the critics of this legend. The portal led us into a system of caves, shaped not unlike organs expanded to size one would expect of a great dragon. There, we encountered beasts that seem to have been formed by the unholy combination of two goblins, which we fought on several occasions. In one of the chamber, mouths dotted the floors, and one such monstrosity almost claimed the life of Zarra, were it not for the grace of Erathis which preserved it against death. We also rested near a pool of the Blood of Khyber, magical essence which has curative properties, and preserved some for the battles ahead.
Of all of those encounters, none match the terror that was the figure that greeted us in the darkness. He spoke four lines, and dropped a staff, and in doing so brought down Amrek and Xargrax. Though I could not understand exactly what the creature meant by his words, I could imagine what he had done, and what he threatened to do. If that really was the Lord of Eyes, as I am want to think, he has just created two very determined enemies. Sitting here now, I do not know whether I should assist them in their quest, though I am certain that I will at least travel with them for the time being. It is rare to come by allies whom you can trust your life with, and in time I hope that Erathis will grant us the gift of friendship as well.
Light in the Darkness
It was after this encounter with Belashyrra, if it was truly him, where we faced our hardest physical test. We were confronted with a beast that blackened the very air around it, and were it not for the light of Erathis I do not doubt our deaths would have been swift.
We then finally managed, after much hardship, to find Doria in the hands of the village leader, wearing a coat made of flesh and covered in eyes. He was surrounded by those villagers who had been corrupted, as well as one of the beasts whose torso was covered in tentacles. The battle was protracted, but we managed to kill all save two of the corrupted villagers, and Doria herself was rescued. While tending to her, she spoke a fragment of the draconic prophecy, an eerily relevant fragment, speaking of that very night, and of a noble soul who would have to wear “a coat of eyes” for the good of all. We were all perturbed by this statement, as the body of the Blackroot leader attested to what that coat does to those who wear it. With the knowledge that the next room held the most horrible thing we would encounter, we pressed on.
The next room contained an engine, the engine, through which the corruption was given to the villagers. A foul, sacrilegious machine designed to rip the essence from man and turn it towards Belashyrra’s purposes. Trapped inside were the remaining few who had yet to become corrupted, including Doria’s family. The worst part was seeing that they were conscious, feeling the machine rob them of their will whilst trapped in a coffin-like box. We immediately resolved to free those people and forever disable this damned device.
Despite a minor fault on my part, we were largely successful in disabling the prison. We had even managed to free Doria’s mother whilst working on it. Then, when 29 attempted to free Doria’s father, complete and total disaster was brought upon us. Doria’s father was killed by the machine after sensing his escape, and by the auras within the chamber I could tell that it was close to doing the same to everyone still trapped inside. After much deliberation, and anguish on Doria’s part, we decided to give the coat to Doria’s mother, who volunteered to martyr herself to save the rest.
We couldn’t allow her to live while wearing the coat, of course. Giving that much power to the Lord of Eyes, that is not worth allowing Doria’s mother to live. So it was set so that, while Xargrax lead Doria out of the cave, Amrek and Zarra (whom appeared to personally know both Doria and her mother, something to question it about later) prepared to execute Doria’s mother as soon as the engine was disabled. I watched the scene with 29, mourning the loss of Doria’s father and not wishing for this life to be sacrificed as well. Praying to Erathis, I desperately tried to think of another way, but none would assure the survival of those still trapped. Then, Zarra cut her throat, the coat detached itself and was thrown to Amrek, and I acted.
Mustering all I knew about the art of healing, I ran over to the body as soon as the coat fled. Apart from the neck wound, there was also grievous damage to her body due to the coat’s hasty detachment. My first priority was, of course, stemming the blood flow from the neck, as that was what would kill her immediately, if it had not already done so. My bandages, augmented with my magic, managed to forestall instant death, although her body was still failing, and her soul still slipping. I had invoked Erathis to save a soul already today, so her power could not preserve this woman.
It was then, seeing Zarra sitting next to me, that I remembered the blood of Khyber which we had received earlier on our journey. Surely, if anything in this desiccated dragon could preserve life, it would be this source of magical healing. Those were not my exact thoughts. Indeed, I do not even know if my thoughts were coherent at that time. My only memories of that moment were Doria’s mother sitting up with surprise on her face, attempting to feel at her neck to see if she had been killed. This act, while not atoning for the death of Doria’s father, still lives in my mind as a triumph over that black-hearted Lord of eyes.
Belashyrra, if you indeed see through all eyes, and you are looking through mine now, know that it was this man who robbed you of another victim, Rodan Whirdon, son of Rodin and follower of Erathis. The sun has just risen on a new day, a day not blackened by your evil. Around me I hear the sounds of those you would have had if not for me, and I mock your power. You have hold over the others, but I am a man with nothing to lose except my own life.
Allies, of a Sort
Midevening, the same day
Tired, as I was, from both the perilous night and the hour I spent writing before falling asleep, I did perform a ritual to preserve the body of Doria’s father after writing, so that it may be transported wherever the House Therasck sees fit without being marred. I had intended to sleep throughout the day, although I was interrupted by Doria’s mother, who, after much care on my part, has fully recovered. She first apologized for waking me, which I hastily assured her was of no issue. While my sore muscles did protest at being risen from their well-deserved rest, it is never good practice to be rude. I also admit that at the time I still felt guilty for her loss, and still do, despite their reassurances.
She was very prompt, explaining that most of the details could be sorted out after everyone was well rested. However she mentioned that, if we would still like to continue our initial mission, we could ferry a recovered document to a buyer with Doria’s help.
Given my battle companions’ likely acceptance of this task, and my resolve to remain with them, I heartily accepted her proposition. She then gave me an ornate box, which held within it a scroll of parchment. As I understand, it gives a general map of the area of a few miles out, which should be useful for our travels. I do hope, however, to one day return it to Doria, as it was to be hers by right of inheritance. I pray we both live long enough for that day to come.
Night, day two of rest
Today I have made a hard choice, but one that I hope reflects favorably on your servant, Erathis. As I will be traveling with those who I now call my friends for at least the immediate future, I thought it was only just that I explain to them the potential danger that I bring with me. My experience has taught me that confession is hard, some of those who I ministered to felt damnation on their heels for the smallest of offenses. It was no different for me, especially considering the nature of my crime.
I confessed to them, as many had confessed before me. I felt you then, Erathis, as no doubt others had when they came before me. I felt not only your forgiveness, but also your acceptance. You have given me hope anew, and I swear by you that I will attempt to make things right in this world through your name.