Scales of War

5th Message to Glasrael

“What in the Nine Hell’s are you talking about Dio?!? Of course the boss is gonna want to hear this.” Kage waved his hand at the book imp in a very dismissive manner. Dio pushed his spectacles up to the bridge of his nose and sighed.
“He’s not going to like to presentat…..” The imp began.
“Feah!” spat Kage, and then promptly finished writing Glasrael’s sigal in the demon blood he had collected. There was a flash of red and black fire, and there stood the devil Glasrael. He glanced down at Kage with a look which was equal parts curiosity and annoyance.
“Demon blood?” The devil began. “How did you manage to lay your hands on fresh demon blood?”
“Well, duh!” Kage blurted out proudly. " Me and Madmartigan’s Men killed one! It was a mezzodemon I think, didn’t stand a chance."
“Mezzodemon? This wasn’t by chance the same mezzodemon that moments before had been sent to Stygia where it started making an awful mess, until a pit-fiend thrust it back to your world, would it?” The irritation in Glasrael’s voice was filled so much vitriol it could have caused a pregnant woman to spontaneously abort, and Kage either didn’t notice, or ignored it.
“No, that one got away after he came back. The blood was from his friend.” Kage smiled. Glasrael’s eye twitched.
“Kage, why did you summon me?” The devil said through clenched teeth.
“Oh, right, I wanted to tell you about a mine that we found full of ore corrupted by the elemental chaos. It would probably be wicked useful for making sweet weapons.” At that some of the tension from Glasrael’s shoulders released.
" Really?" The devil asked. “That does sound interesting. Fine, I’ll bite. Where is the mine, and will it be easy to make a summoning circle so I can get workers there?”
“Oh, uuuuuuummmmm.” Kage said as he looked down.
“Ummm what?”
“Well, see the thing is, I can’t tell you yet.” Glasrael put a hand to his temple.
“Why not?”
“Because Madmartigan said we gotta keep it a secret for now.” Glasrael simply stared at him, unblinking, as the ground at his feet began to blacked. “Oh, there was something else too.”
Glasrael continued to stare as the temperature around his body steadily rose." We kinda met this old guy in the mine’s, and I mean wicked old. He knew tons of stuff and had all these canaries with him. I think he might have been an exarch or something, only I’m not sure who he served." Suddenly Glasrael’s paralyzing rage subsided.
" Canaries? How many? Seven?" The devil look slightly concerned.
“Ummmmm, yeah, it was seven. Why?”
“That Kage, is very important information. I have to go report his. Be sure to tell me of any other encounters with that old man.” And in a whirl of hell-fire, Glasrael vanished.
“Ha!” barked Kage. " You see that Dio! Important info! Just like I said!"
" Yes, just like you said boss." muttered the book imp under his breath. “Only not.”

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4th Message to Glasrael

Kage stood on the hill overlooking the colossal war camp. He smiled to himself smugly and looked at Dio.
“poor suckers.” he said. Dio simply rolled his eyes as he sat on Kage’s shoulder. The imp was trying to ignore Kage and kept reading from his iron bound infernal text." I can’t wait anymore!" Kage announced. “I’m calling the boss!”
“Bad idea.” Dio muttered under his breath. If Kage heard him, he didn’t listen. He instead pulled out a vial of orc blood, dipped his finger in it and wrote the sigal of Glasrael on the ground. There was a sudden blast of brimstone and there, standing before Kage, was the devil Glasrael, in all of his infernal glory. Glasrael looked at Kage and frowned.
“Kage.” Glasrael began, his voice thick with irritation. “I thought I told you not to contact me directly anymore. You’re supposed to confer with the book imp.”
“Huh?” asked kage clearly confused. " The book imp? You mean Dio?" Dio turned to look at Glasrael and smiled over his spectacles,waving.
“Yes, whatever you call him.” Glasrael said exasperated. He sighed deeply and suddenly looked up. "Is that brimstone I smell?’ He glanced around and saw clouds of black, ash laden smoke float across the grey sky. Then he turned and saw the war camp. “Kage!” he said very alarmed “Did you summon me to Avernus?!?”
“Huh?” replied Kage, clearly dumb struck.
“Avernus! The First Hell!” Glasrael shouted. " You know I can’t go there! Lord Bel is still angry with me!"
“Oh, yeah.” Kage began. " This isn’t Baator. It’s somewhere in the Shadowfell."
“It isn’t?” Glasrael said looking around nervously. " Well ok. The Shadowfell? Why are you here?"
“Ummmm, we kind of got stuck. This dark one named Mordan sucked us into here after we tossed him down a chasm.”
“Why should you and your friends stupidity interest me Kage?”
“Cause we think there’s some kind of inter-planar war starting here.” Glasrael suddenly became very serious.
“I’m listening”
“Oh.” Kage said sounding a little shocked. “Ummmm, thats kind of all we know right now, but we’re going to try and talk to the guy in charge, Sarashan, and see what he’s planning on doing. Then if he has bad guy plans we’re going to kick his ass. At least, I think that’s the plan.”
“Hmmmmm…” Glasrael pondered as he stared off. " Sarashan you say?" Kage nodded enthusiastically. " Very well Kage, when you have more information contact me. This could prove useful." Glasrael looked Kage in the eye." make sure you dedicate some of the slain to our lord Asmodeus." And with that, Glasrael vanished into a puff of smoke.
“HA!” Laughed Kage as he looked at Dio. “Bad idea, huh? That sounded like the boss was glad to talk to me!” A giant grin stretched across Kages face as he puffed out his chest. Dio sighed again.
“If you say so boss. If you say so”

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Musings of a Murderous Mind pt 4

Modran is all open now. His life is spread on rocks and dirt, heyeehyeeheehyea. Madman was different, crazy, he was strong and he threw Modran over his head. Modran opened Madman’s blood and Madman got angry and threw him on rocks in the gaping earth. I laughed hard. The doorway opened though. It smelled like long dead and forgotten blood. I said to close it, but they were all too dumb to listen and now we’re on the place of old rotten. That makes me mad, like Madman was. Theirs is the only live blood around now. Heyeeyheeheeyeh ehheh.

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Madmartigan's Most Intimate Private Thoughts: Keep Out!
Pages 10-11

Hey baby, it’s Madmart—again. See what I did there?
I’ve had quite a day. We tracked down the creep Modra, along with some flunkies, a mean-ass witch and a bunch of ghosts. Guess what the difference between them and me is?
I’m still alive.
During the throw down with Modra and his ghost minions, the chicken-shit bastard tried to run through some portal. I ran up to him, put him in a devastating Madmartigan headlock, dragged his scrawny ass over to a pit, picked him up over my head and threw him in.
The spooky kid and Marbles climbed down and found pieces of him every. And that’s how Madmartigan fucking gets it done.
As we were sitting around, bandaging our few minor wounds, a couple of the men were knuckleheading around with the portal in the room and got their buns teleported. Of course I leapt in after them, only to find that we were all in the Shadowfell.
We found a big damn soldier encampment and, under the guise of mercenaries-for-hire, sized up the situation. Turns out Sarshan, the other nob we were looking for, had himself a mercenary army. Spooky kid found some secret way into his mountain volcano lair (I’m not kidding, dudes has a volcano lair) and we made our way in, killing everything that got in our way.
Now we’re about to take a secret tunnel into the lair proper. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for more mutated freak monsters. This is gonna be fun.

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The Way of the Bat: Justice Tempered in Darkness – Chapter 2 (EXCERPTS)

The Shadowfell is a strange place. It is at once familiar, and also completely alien to those of us from the Material Plane. Its features are not that dissimilar from those we are familiar with, there is a sky inhabited with a sun, we walk on solid ground inhabited with sparse plant life. There are roads and hills and clouds. Yet, there is a stark paleness to it all; a lack of color and warmth. The cool darkness is pervasive; even the sun’s light cannot break through the pall of shadow that suffuses every aspect of this realm.

We trekked through the eerily foreboding landscape for quite some time before finally arriving at a massive camp surrounding a foundry, and some smaller buildings. In the distance, a large mountain was split in half, with lava flowing like a river through the camp and under the large foundry. As we watched the camp there was a shift change among the workers. I’ve never seen so many move in such a coordinated, rehearsed effort before. Tents were packed and the thousands gathered left the area, but were soon replaced with thousands more.

We were able to convince the guards that we were looking to work as mercenaries for the leader of the operation. Once we entered the makeshift tent-city that had come to life before us, we split-up to gather some intelligence. I was able to shadow some individuals who appeared to be supervising others, and snatched from their pockets orders, or plans, detailing parts of the operation. Putting it all together, there is a massive effort underway. They create thousands of weapons and armor and move it to several different points, in multiple realms. The level of this operation is almost beyond my comprehension. I never expected such evil beings to be capable of working together to create this kind of massive effort.

As the others continued to gather intelligence by speaking with people in the camp, I scouted out the larger foundry. The main entrance was heavily guarded. I watched as they moved several carts in and out of the building. I kept seeing containers of some vile-looking liquid that they were transporting. In an attempt to find another way in, I walked around towards the back and scaled the wall to the top of the building. I was searching for any means of ingress I could find when I saw down below, at the back of the building, a couple of individuals leaving through a secret entrance. After they were out of sight I slipped down and made a note of where the hidden door was before rushing off to tell the others.

With the rest of the group assembled, we made our way into the building through the hidden door and found a large open room where they were using the noxious looking liquid and bathing creatures in it. The creatures were being transformed by this compound. We have slain all those that were operating the equipment in this first room, as well as taken down a large beast that they had transformed using the liquid.

We are now catching our breath before we continue onward in an attempt to understand what is happening here, and put an end to it.

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The Way of the Bat: Justice Tempered in Darkness - Chapter 1 (EXCERPTS)

… I am writing these words as I sit in the Shadowfell, my companions and I have just been brought here by some manner of portal. We are attempting to locate beings from this dark realm who are involved in a plot back in our plane. They mean to bring about the ruin of the Vale. They are doing this by using portals linking their world to ours, and using them to move about from place to place unseen…

… Those familiar with the Way of the Stone Fist may see many similar forms in the Way of the Bat. It is true that the Way of the Bat is still being refined as I write this. It is a very new philosophy, and as such, it draws upon those that have come before it…

… Stealth – Surprise – Strike – Survive: These are the four S’s of the Way of the Bat.

Stealth: You must disappear into the shadows, for that is where the prey hides.

Surprise: Disorientation and panic will fill your foes’ hearts as you strike out at them from the darkness.

Strike: Your attacks must be devastating, merciless, and quick. Evil must be shown that those who fight for good will give them no quarter.

Survive: Your will to survive must be stronger than your opponent’s. You must adapt to every situation. React to the unexpected without hesitation…

… I will use a recent encounter as an example. Just before my arrival here in the Shadowfell my companions and I knew that enemies were ahead of us in the tunnels. I attempted to sneak ahead of the group to gather information on the positions of our enemies and their numbers. One of them managed to see me, however, and it was then that I reacted without hesitation. I darted out quickly from my hiding place and struck several of them with a number of blows before quickly retreating back to where my companions waited. This was all done before any of them could react. Adapt to survive, surprise to disorient, and strike to kill. When stealth failed, it was by following the other S’s that I succeeded. With the help of my companions, and my continued devotion to these ideals, we were able to dispatch all of our enemies…

… Investigation and awareness are also key components to survival. Investigation of your enemies before you strike, to be prepared to ensure their defeat; and after you strike, to learn their secrets and uncover any allies they may have. As long as there is evil in this world, there must be those who will fight it. Awareness of the world around you at all times is crucial. Never let your guard down…

… This is the Way of the Bat. Those who practice it seek to make the world a better place, not for us, but for the innocents of the world. Do not expect to enjoy the fruits of your labor. The very nature of what we must become in order to face the evils of the world prohibits us from joining the ranks of the innocent.

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Madmartigan's Most Intimate Private Thoughts: Keep Out!
Page 9

Hey Sugar tits,

Let’s get this out of the way: I am awesome. I’ve always been told how awesome I am, but now I can say it to myself with confidence. The men & I (and Ithyk) saved an entire city’s worth of people. Yea!!! How awesome am I? Oh, I just saved a whole city single-handedly, what have you been up to?

OK, glad we got that out of the way.

So now we’re on the hunt for Madra, an ugly little bastard from the Shadowfell. We already iced his girlfriend while saving the city, and he’s next on the list. He’s the wad (along with some other douche) that tried to get all those orcs through the pass. We got his fancy magic key in the process and he knows it. He sent some thugs after us, unfortunately for them. We turned their ambush into our ambush, thanks mostly to my awesome planning & directing, and also a little thanks to Thanoril’s excelent sneak skills. I even got to wear my favorite disguise: gorgeous broad. I’m good-looking no matter what sex I am.

Side note, I gotta stop calling that kid dainty. I literally saw him cave a man’s face in with his bare hands. He’s really changed since joining up and I can’t help but feel a little responsible for toughening him up and turning him into a man.

Currently we’re in some caves underneath some craphole tavern (my favoritee kind), hunting the creep-er. His ass is wheat and I’m the scythe, baby!

 

I can’t help but thing there’s a catchier way of putting that…

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To the Temple of the Enduring Mountain, From Thanoril Elseweyr - Fourth Letter

Master Ardax,

It has been quite some time since I have written to you. I wonder, did you think me dead? Did you grieve?

Much has changed in me in the weeks since my last letter. At first I couldn’t bring myself to write you. We, meaning myself and the men I fight alongside, had been doing some awful things. We still are. I was not able to deal with I was having difficulty reconciling the terrible acts I had committed with the kind of person I had believed myself to be. Make no mistake, Master, we are heroes. We have saved the entire Vale and all who dwell within it from a massive invasion of orcs. We have uncovered a conspiracy involving men of power and influence from Overlook, and creatures from the Shadowfell! These malignant beings from the Shadowfell seek to bring nothing but strife and pain to the people of our realm.

We will not allow this to pass. And we will take whatever actions are necessary to stop them. And that brings me back to what I was telling you. I am changed, Master. It began in Castle Rivenroar, the very place our group has taken as our home. I saw darkness there, true darkness. It is there that I first beheld what horrors our world is capable of producing.

My family was killed by orcs when I was barely a year old, and the people of the Vale are now beset by orcs, undead, and these interlopers from the Shadowfell! The common people are not prepared to deal with these horrors. In the men I travel with, I saw many things. These men and beasts perform noble deeds, but they themselves are not noble. They are drunks, violent savages, mad lunatics, and they consort with infernal evils. I seek to save the innocent people of our world from the darkness around us, but to do that, I must take the darkness into me. It began with a half-waking dream I had. I could see a pool of darkness in front of me. I reached into it. It was cold, unforgiving, and yet, exhilarating. I threw myself into the darkness and that’s when I realized, that darkness was within me. Since then that small pool of darkness has begun to expand.

I have learned to tap into energies and abilities unlike any I possessed before. I can travel through shadows, moving through them like one would swim through water. I have trained myself to disappear by blending in with the world around me. Doors and locks are merely minor annoyances now rather than something for the wicked to hide behind.

Yesterday, I was hiding upon a rooftop, spying on a group of despicable low-lifes and as I watched, I saw my friends coming around the corner. My friends were looking for me, to make sure I was safe, but all I could think about was not letting them get hurt. I descended from the rooftop like a Spectre of Death falling upon a doomed soul, and in an instant I crushed the face of the leader of the miscreants with my bare hands. Without hesitation I flew at the next closest two, and before they realized what was happening they were lying helpless on the ground, bleeding. I felt no remorse. These were wicked men and they needed to be punished for their heinous lives.

As I write this to you, I sit in a cave. We have just defeated several large bats that have apparently come from the Shadowfell, if Kage is to be believed. As I sit here staring at the corpses of these creatures of darkness, I can’t help but feel that I have become just like them. The evil in this world chooses to hide itself in the dark. I have sworn myself to purging the world of their wickedness and so to stop them, I will not become like them, I will become the very darkness they try to hide in. I will descend upon them from the shadows they seek asylum in and I will show them the same mercilessness that they choose to embody.

In my interactions with the rest of the group, I am continuing to play the innocent, naive outsider for the time being. I am not sure how they would take my sudden shift in conscience. While our methods differ, they are all invaluable in my efforts to thwart the wretched filth I fight.

I like these bats. I like what they represent. Perhaps I will create my own style, Master. No longer am I a student of the Way of the Stone Fist; now I train in the Way of the Bat.

Watch the shadows, Ardax.

Thanoril Elseweyr

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Musings of a Murderous Mind pt 3
To be in a blood slip n' slide.

The thoughts of monks seep into my skin, stuck on my hide in crusted bits. So many skulls spilled, many dreams to drink I hear all of them. On the floor, on the wall, on me. They ask me, they yell, they boil. I answer you. I will boil them too, I will chew on their ribs, like you ask, for I am all. I hold and eat all, I will gain your power, they took it from you, I will take it from them. I know you want your strength somewhere better. I will eat it for myself, you and I will be sated. Blood speaks, I hear with my teeth. We will laugh together.

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Madmartigan's Most Intimate Private Thoughts: Keep Out!
Pages 6 & 7

Damn. Might have been a little hasty with that “We’re gonna save all the dwarves!” stuff. Fucking green skins beat us there by hours and slaughtered them all. The Men & I made them pay dearly, with their lives. Plus, the Wolf Company dicks all got their asses killed, so guess we’re the better company after all. Now who looks like a smug asshole?

We did manage to save one dwarf, Kalad, from Og, the green skin leader, or something. I don’t know. Kalad explained it all, but I wasn’t really listening because I was too busy marvelling the fact that I had dragged one of those orc bastards into the fire and held him down while we burned together. That’s right, motherfuckes, I’m bad.

Next thing I know we’re faced with a hallway of nasty-looking golems and such. The rest of The Men just stood there, looking to me for leadership & inspiration (who can blame them) so what else could I do? I rushed headlong at the nearest death trap and smashed it to goddamned pieces! That got them rallied! Kage even managed to get some of the stuff turned off with some switch (the kid’s sharp), while I stood around getting shot, waiting for him & the Minnie to get their asses clear of the automated turrets. Leave no man behind, right? This leadership thing has it’s downsides, turns out.

Unfortunately, on the other side of the doors of that Gauntlet of Demise was the boiler room we had been heading for, full of green skins and other nasties already eating them. It was a tough fight, but we kicked all kinds of ass (of course). We scoured the area surrounding the boiler room and found a big smelly troll pissing on an altar to Moradin. I ran him through and pulled my blade out before his nasty skin could seal up around it, while the rest of the men laid into the trolls’ keepers. That’s where we found Wolf Company (or what remained of them).

We’re just catching our breath before we head on for the control room so we can fill these tunnels with boiling water and make some green skin soup.

I think Kage is talking to himself in the other room. Bright kid, but a little off…

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