Stygian sat in the flickering firelight of his Dalanthar abode scribbling in his black leather-bound journal. The human skin comprising the binding was beginning to crack from excessive use and exposure to the elements. Soon it would be time to replace it.
The work of the Mesgard Maligare is never-ending, but satisfying on many levels. Important projects have kept him away from his home and shop for many years, but now things were on track and he could devote more time to personal pet ventures. Duincharith has been true to her word, but her hunger for souls is vast.
Stygian pursed his lips in annoyance. He was somewhat disturbed though by recent events. Nearing home he was whisked away by a powerful magic and deposited in another dimension by some unknown being, had to cope with a group of “do-gooders”, and barely made it out alive. He reached for his glass of wine and inadvertently knocked it over, spilling the expensive vintage on a priceless set of cushions. Irritated he stood up abruptly and tripped on the carpet, nearly falling into the fireplace, and singeing his favorite silk shirt. He pulled himself to his knees and cradled his head, having a terrible feeling that there was “something” still inside him.
Stygian scrawls one simple sentence into his journal... "It is again time to muddy the waters."
Adder makes his way through the dark entry of the Mistone Temple in the Ire Mountains, listening with relish to the screams he can hear reverberating in further stone chambers within the huge complex. Several Noceo watch him guardedly as he passes by them, hands on sheathed blades. Acolytes adeptly move to the walls to stay out of his way, as he is a frequent visitor of this unholy place and is known for his lack of empathy and predisposition for inflicting pain. He makes his way directly to the altar chamber, prostrating himself before the blood-stained slab of stone and whispers dark and terrible prayers to the Mortis Mentis. Afterward, he re-directs his attention to the secondary reason for his stopover.
Cora Blake is facing him, standing behind her wooden desk as he enters her chamber, after giving him leave to enter. He reaches into his ruck sack and removes a short sword in a black leather scabbard, draws the blade, and lays it on her desk. The pommel is stamped with his personal mark, and the blade length is acid etched with vile psalms praising the Dark Lord. “Sancti Blake… I seek your instruction.”
//PM Sent to Pinkpowerbait
Stygian handed the small folded and sealed parchment given to him by Cora Blake to the hooded and masked man in the doorway of the run down hovel located in the center of the Fort Vehl slums. The stink of trash and sewage hung over the street like a fog. After opening and reading the parchment the man stepped inside and closed the door leaving Stygian in the night time drizzle. After a few minutes he returned and motioned Stygian inside.
The building was a single small room. Kneeling on small rugs were four hooded and masked acolytes lit eerily by the light from a single large charcoal fed brazier. Even though windows were cracked open, the fumes were thick. An old, bent, and misshapen priest of Corath sat in a small wooden chair in front of the acolytes. In a gravelly and cracked voice he addressed Stygian... "All of my vacancies for this course of instruction appear to be filled stranger. Are you worthy?" Stygian simply replied, "I am."
In an instant one of the four acolytes sprang from his carpet and whipped out a short cruel-looking iron sword and swung it at Stygian. Barely making it out of the way, Stygian jabbed two fingers into his attacker's sternum chanting a foul incantation. Dark magic coursed into the man's body, convulsing his muscles as his soul was ripped free of his mortal shell. The lifeless body dropped to the ground like a bag of rocks. Stygian bent over and grabbed the dead man's ankle and dragged him to a corner of a room where he deposited him like every day refuse and then returned to the vacant carpet where he knelt like the other students.
The old priest continued his theological discourse as if nothing had happened, and Stygian drank and absorbed his words like a starving vampire drains a victim of blood.
The two assassins near Dalanthar were easily dispatched, and my intent was to find their employer and make him suffer immensely before I took his life in the name of Mortis Mentis. The trail lead to an underground cavern system where I either fought my way or slipped past numerous powerful and unique undead creations. Creatures of beauty, given birth with the blessings of my Dark Lord. When I reached the bottom I beheld the master holding the strings of the puppets in the other various chambers. I could sense the Al’Noth surrounding him, waves of power, invisible to the naked eye… but there nevertheless. I tossed the scroll that I found on one of my would-be assassins on the floor before him and told him I sought his instruction.It never ceases to amaze me… It seems the Dark Lord guides me and prepares me as a vessel for some great purpose, for the robed and hooded humanoid told me that I was being tested, either for greatness or destruction. His robes writhed as if some creature rolled beneath the fabrics and the skull bone mask he wore hid his countenance. It was then that he presented the test. I had to cut out one of my own rib bones and lay it at his feet. Without question I removed my skinning knife and began the cutting. The pain was incomprehensible… the task daunting. Several times I came close to death, but in the end I snapped my own rib bone in half and laid it at his feet. It was then that he revealed who he was… The Oraculum Mortis. Before me stood the most powerful Darkweaver in the Corathite Church… and my life was forfeit if he so chose to take it. He then told me I was now Veneficus and answered to him… that I had passed his test. He bade me to travel to the temple in Arnax and present my rib bone as sacrifice to the Dark Lord.I travelled to Arnax in the company of One Eye, a fortuitous encounter. The presence of the Raven was somewhat of a relief in my weakened state. I took no healing, reveling in the pain of my wounds… in the badge they represented to me. He watched without words as I knelt before the altar to offer my sacrifice. The on duty High Priestess happened to stroll by and saw my prayers. She laughed at the paltry offering of one rib bone, commanding me to go forth and come back only when I had enough to fill a coffin. One Eye said nothing as he followed me out of the temple and watched as I deposited the rib into one of the temple’s braziers. Fire leapt forth as if a barrel of oil had been poured into it and it licked the stones of the ceiling for several moments before dying back down. I said “It appears my sacrifice has been accepted.” His response was a knowing nod and something muttered under his breath. He seemed to know something that was escaping me… or that he dared not explain further.I then headed off to find a wagon and a team of oxen. I had no intent in bringing back only a coffin full of rib bones to the temple. Blood would soon flow from the hands of one of the church’s most powerful Ravens... and a newly branded Oraculis of the Veneficus in service directly to the Oraculum Mortis. My position as Stipatio of the Mesgard Magilare is now much stronger.