On the dawning of the twelfth week, Vaelus hears from his cohort that an Inquisitor, following the trail of burning villages left behind in the wake of the work of the other Knots, has followed the rumours of sedition and acts of destruction to Farhold like a trail of breadcrumbs, bringing with him an enclave of fire hardened soldiers. These are not simple treasure hunters any more, these are warriors, men and women who’s job it is to face some of the most twisted faces of evil in Talengarde.
The barge pulls into the dock and half a dozen heavily armoured men and women step off. According to Avagail, some of them the new arrivals have been hired to bolster the keep at Hammerhold. It is a full day until they set off into the Bryr. There is still no word from Ellise and the 7th Knot.
The Inquisition head not for the Horn but arrives at the ruin south of the Horn. However, thanks to Vengillian, the Heroes are surprised to find the teleportation throne has been destroyed. Ven’s foresight has clearly paid off as it turned out Father Matthias performed heated research in the abbey and discovered all about the history of the Horn, including all the teleporters. As there is no alternative open to them, the group heads for the second floor, the realm of Vaelus.
Thomas the Penitent, a rouge by trade, manages to stay on his feet as the opening log trap swings down. The physics fights the man and very nearly knocks him from the stairs, but Thomas stance holds firm. As he begins to disable it permanently, unscrewing the brackets from the ceiling, bolts begin to fire through the arrow slits that line the walls. As the Bloody Skeletons begin to harry the Heroes, Leges, who is also in the area, prepares to spring.
As the cleric, Armand Vyte, tries desperately to return the crossbow bolt fire, he casts holy smite, blasting the skeletons and the wizard with holy energy. The balst wounds and blinds one of the Crusader Bones as well as Ven’s cohort, Guinaverre but Leges and the other undead creature manage to take shelter and take fewer wounds. The cleric then backs away and orders the soldiers forward.
The arrows from the Pillar of a Thousand Arrows begin it’s opening volley and sink into flesh but only Thomas succumbs slightly to the poison. Leges creates first a sound like a roaring creature roll through the corridor and then follows up by creating a sophisticated illusion which makes it appear a massive seven foot demon appears from the corner, holding a small nine year old girl in its horrid arms. The lead soldier fires an arrow at it but just barely notices the arrow slide through the image before a replica appears in the ‘wound’. He senses it is an illusion. Hoping that the predictable nobility of there Heroes will have them run head long into the pit, Leges leaves the ambush room, casting Infernal Healing on himself in the process as he sets up position in the throne room. The illusion continues to roar and challenges the soldiers as it begins cruelly hurting its tiny victim, but one of the Heroes casts detect magic and determines the school; Illusion, not Conjuration.
As the arrows continue to fly, the Heroes have great difficulty dispatching the undead. Poison courses through veins, blood drips to the floor, the skeletons crack like dried wood as arrows glance off their targets and the screams and curses of wounded men ring through the level once again, just as it had done decades before.
Suddenly hitting upon an idea, Ven and Leges use the teleporter to move to level 3 then run to the entrance stairs. Guinaveere who is already looking down on the Heroes who are still gathered on the outer stairs, fires an arrow at the cleric, Vyte. Vyte fires a searing light back up at her and she gets hit. At that point, one of the guards, riddled with arrows, succumbs to the final element of poison and collapses unconscious. An order suddenly comes to retreat and the body is dragged out.
Thomas works furiously, so close to permanently destroying the log trap. His veins pump with the Death Angel Fish venom, his head rings and he dares hope he can succeed, needing only a few more seconds when he too falls unconscious, so close.
Yet another soldier falls to the poison as the group begins to run down the stairs, however Ven and Leges have reached the entrance to the third level by now and as the human ignites his oil soaked armband and launches himself into the air, the half-elf casts a Wall of Fire down the length of stairs. Everyone goes mad with panic as the sheet of violet flame scorches everyone as they run down the length of the wall. None can see through the wall and the pain is unimaginable as the Inquisitors at last feel the burning pyre they had set against so many heretics in the past.
The cleric and leader, Father Mathias, blind from being in the flames sees not where is safe to step, panics and runs off the edge of the stairs tumbling over a hundred feet and dies in a sickening smouldering crunch.
As a soldier runs back into the corridor, escaping the flames, Vaelus suddenly swoops down from the air, carried by infernal flight and cleanly slices the man down as he passes. The final guard, seeing his friend and battle-brother fall to the sword, turns and with the power of Mitra filling his heart, leaps spectacularly over the pit just as Leges’ demonic illusion disappears, expired. The man attacks the arrow trap and Leges silently drifts through the wall of flames, his flesh lapping up the delightful inferno with pleasure and fires a lightning bolt at the warrior. To the wizard’s fury, the soldier survives, ducking under the majority of the bolt. Enraged that this mortal dares live longer than desired, Leges flies the length of the corridor, summons forth a spell and delivers such a devastating Force Punch that his hand plunges into the man’s chest, giving him the opportunity to seize the soldiers heart just before the spell’s blast effect sends the man flying backwards down the level, leaving the bloody organ in the wizards hand. Leges releases the organ and cleans his hand with a sweep of his other power infused palm.
On the fourteenth week, a particularly loud and troublesome preacher named Ezikial Hallthron begins preaching a message of unity and resistance against the tide of evil and makes the the Horn a centrepiece for his sermons. He speaks of Mitran-visions and states brazenly that if they wish to avoid the wrath of Mitra, they must band together to stop the evil taint that infests Farhold. At this episcopal peak, he even talks about forming a militia. Clearly he has to go. Vaelus leaves the Inquisitor’s head Ezikeal’s doorstep, but when that proves not to silence him, the Villains plan a more nefarious end. By the time the heart of a devout Mitran believer is required for the ritual, Evil FedEx and Ekklesia, the organisations of Vengillian and Legges respectively, manage to kidnap the man quite easily and bring him to the Horn. As the preachers heart is set into the second bowel next to the first, which is now blackened and withered, yet still beating, the entire Horn begins to shake violently.
The voice of Vetra-Kalli rumbles from the statue: “I see” in Abbysal and suddenly, darkness sweeps across the land as if the suns light itself had been banned from touching the earth for an entire day. The ritual is now half way completed.