Category Stephen de Hautville

Local hero

Continuing to lead my carefully disguised team down the main road towards the nearest town and then the capital of Hool, we encountered two young children by the wayside looking distressed. Hailing them in my friendliest terms, for children are especially protected by Helim, wherever they maybe, I discovered that they were looking for someone to help their village, where almost everyone was struck down by a terrible illness. Obviously this was a task set before me by Helim himself, to prove his light in this land of darkness, but means of signs and miracles.

We followed the children and soon reached their village – a cluster of dilapidated huts around a small well. They led us to their home, where both their parents were bed-bound and severely ill. The druidess confirmed with her leeching skill that they were suffering from some kind of enteric illness, possibly caused by fouled water. I laid hands upon the two of them and invoked the glory of Helim, and his radiant light purged them of their impurity. Soon they were both able to walk and I urged them to visit the rest of the village and determine how many were ill and find me the most severely affected or closest to death so that I could treat them first.

Meanwhile, I sent the scout, or rather the miscreant who was posing as our scout, down the well, as that seemed to be the obvious source of the illness. A call, followed by some retching, indicated that a partially decomposed goat was fouling the water. We threw down some burlap, which he wrapped the corpse in and I then had it winched out of the well, followed by a similarly befouled scout. I then descended myself and purified the water in the well, removing the contamination from both the goat and the scout’s stomach.

Returning to the surface, I was guided to those most desperately ill, and was able to return three more of them to health with Helim’s divine light. At this point a youth from the village appeared with an aged and obviously insane hermit. He was obviously known to those here and inspected them before brewing some tincture from herbs, which he fed those still ill. I explained that we had identified and removed the source of the contagion.

The hermit gave us a shrewd look and engaged me with questions. I demurred initially, but he obviously knew the truth and I am not one to hide the light of Helim behind the clouds of untruth, so revealed the in Helim’s name I had indeed performed healing miracles here in the village. He cautioned me that we should not reveal our affiliations so readily here in the land of Hool; but I said that my vows did not permit me to ride past when the poor and innocent were suffering. He thanked me for what I had done here, and we talked further of the nature of the land we were now in.

He joined us for an evening repast and we lay down to sleep by our fire, but in the morning he had disappeared without trace. Possibly he was a servant of the Master in disguise, but the infusion he had given the villagers seemed to have worked, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

We bade farewell to the grateful villagers, and paid them for some fresh food for our rations, before returning to the main road. After many hours, as the afternoon was drawing towards evening, we reached a wood that the road ran through. Entering the wood, we saw that there was a large group within it. Assuming the worst, our scout slipped from his camel and attempted to hide in the undergrowth, but was easily spotted, and returned, shamed, to his mount. I engaged them in conversation, for they did not seem threatening. They claimed to be a band of outlaws who had been trailing us since we crossed the great pass and entered the land. Now that we were safe from prying eyes in this wood, they wanted to talk to me, for otherwise the eyes of the Master were everywhere. They told me that there was an inn further down the road where we could rest in safety, and they could tell me more of their stand against the Master.

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Spider sense

My keen senses told me that these stone statues were far too realistic to have been carved by the sort of craftsman that would frequent these forsaken lands, and so the obvious solution was that we were dealing with the lair of some terrible aberration; maybe even the fearsome basilisk itself.

A detailed search of the area revealed no tracks though, or any indications of which if the two cave mouths might be the lair of this beast. It seemed that I would have to use my intuition and divine sense of guidance in order to guide the rest of the company on the right part, but the druidess Elune spoke to me. Apparently amongst the curses bestowed on her by her deviant and degenerate worship of the old gods was that of changing shape into the form of a beast. She therefore offered to turn into the shape of a giant spider and investigate the caves in that form. I assented, with misgivings, to using such foul magics, but reasoned that we were following a holy misson, and I could purge her of her heresy at some later stage.

She disappeared into the right hand cave, and was never seen again.

Well, actually she did reappear, but only after many hours had passed. I feared that the last vestiges of her rational mind had succumbed to the bestial urges and passions of her debased form, but eventually she returned. The cave led to a tunnel apparently, at the end of which was a barred door, and a speaking tube of some kind. She had seen no other creature on that path.

We followed her route and found the barred door. Elune changed once again, into a miniature spider, and started climbing up the speaking tube. The plan was that on the far side, she would return to her natural form, and open the gate for us.

While she was gone however, we were addressed through this tube, and questioned as to our purpose. I stated boldly that our purpose was to reach the lands beyond, but they asked me why and on whose authority I proceeded. I glossed the true purpose of our visit and averred that we were here by invitation of the Master, which was true enough, for we had a scrap of parchment that he had given us through the magic mirror in the tomb of the Scorpion King. Indeed when a hobgoblin appeared to check our tale, I was able to show him this invitation directly.

This obviously satisfied the guard for the gate was raised and we passed through, and out of another cave into the valley below. Looking back, we saw that as well as some hobgoblins, a storm giant guarded the gate. Elune rejoined us in spider form and we followed the road down the valley.

After a day on the road, we fell in with some merchants, and ourselves posed as a merchant (Mordana) and her guards, looking for wares to purchase and trade back across the mountains. They were friendly and told us of a nearby town, but also warned us that our elven and dwarven friends would cause attention and possibly even aggression from some of the humanoid inhabitants of this realm.

We resolved that the elves should be able to hide their appearance with cloaks or hats, and maybe even a false beard, but the dwarf would be a different problem. Mordana offered the suggestion though that we could make it appear as if he was our slave, and therefore it might not cause such attention.

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Smiting unbelievers, book 2, chapter 1

The Book of Light says ‘where the darkness is deepest, there the light can shine strongest’. Following my success in Hutarkka where I brought the light of Helim to that benighted backwater and brought peace to their warring factions with the light of my mace, I am not content to rest on my laurels or take pride in my achievements, because I am merely a servant of the eternal light.

Thus I am now here, in the western deserts of the Republic of Darokin, because the light of Helim knows no earthly boundaries, and nor do its servants. Here I am unknown at present, but soon my renown will shine across the land in the service of the Lord of Light. The distance from Karameikos can be the only explanation for why my aid has not been received with more gladness, for I have been treated in many respects as if I was a common soldier. But we are also taught that sometimes it is necessary for the light to be hidden for a while so that it may shine forth suddenly in the midst of its enemies.

I find myself commanding a rag-tag of drop-outs and misfits that are too rebellious or unbiddable to be included in the main army that moved out against the desert nomads a few days ago. My desire to smite the forces of darkness burns within me unquenched though. I command and am commanded, as is proper, so I shall excel at my duty, whatever my duty may be, even if it is unworthy of me. Do everything as if you do it for Helim.

Last night I was given an opportunity to show my valour indeed. It was the third watch and there was a cry from the wilderness beyond the palisade. Hearing in that cry the voice of a man sorely oppressed, I vaulted heroically from the palisade and ran towards the noise. When I arrived, I beheld a man being attacked by a foul creature which the sight of Helim (all blessings to him) showed to be a fiend from the deepest hells. The man was sorely hurt, but two great blows from my mace, backed with the radiant power of Helim, was enough to dispatch the foul creature back to its infernal lair.

The man could barely speak, but thrust a scroll tube into my hand and whispered something about crossing the great desert, journeying through the great pass, and defeating the Dark Master in his temple of Death. Or something like that – the details are a little hazy. But it matters not – Helim himself, in this stranger, has revealed to me my purpose in this land, and I will fulfill his will.

Fortunately my superiors concur that I am destined to bring doom to this dark master, and have concurred with Helim’s will, as they obviously must, but without struggle, which is always the best route. I shall lead my squad upriver and then into the desert, to find the great pass and the temple of death.

The next day, as my troops are preparing our rafts and supplies, we are attacked by a wizard on a wyvern and several trolls. The wizard uses cowardly tactics, casting spells from a distance, but I am able to catch him on the ground and show him the justice and righteousness of Helim until he submits and acknowledges his majesty in a most final manner.

The trolls are beneath contempt and are slaughtered repeatedly and then burnt until they stop moving.

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