I can’t believe it. I mean I knew that we were probably right about Rexan being a scoundrel, but I never suspected that he might be at the very heart of everything going wrong with this city. Who knows, we might have just uncovered the puppeteer himself. The very one behind all the turmoil within this city and possible the region. Oakson and I dust ourselves off and bring Absalom back around. It’ll definitely be okay with me if we don’t see that guy for a while . . . even though something tells me we will be revisiting this madness again very soon. Curse you, Rexan.
We are able to leave the garrison without too much trouble, though we do end up having to cover our tracks by pushing the guard we charmed into the sewers below. Those sewers have come in handy during our time here in Fallreach, I would highly recommend them to anyone wanting to cover up some sort of scandalous activities. Although, then I would probably kill them for partaking in said scandalous activities. Then throw their body in the sewer. Hmm… food for thought.
We rest up at an inn nearby, but we are not in the spirits to turn in for the night. After uncovering such a horrendous truth about Rexan and the events in Fallreach we are spurred on by the urgency of the hour and we rest quickly and are soon on our way to the Paladins Keep.
Upon arrival we head to the sanctuary and find Lady Catherine Lightheart there. Oakson sits as a rat hidden in my pocket, but as we approach Lady Catherine I suddenly feel him scratching at my nipple… I mean, erm, my side because I don’t have a nipple down there by my pocket on my side because that would just be… well… so anyways there we are and I can tell that Oakson had rolled a 20 on his insight and something is wrong with Lady Catherine. So I warn Absalom and we hesitantly ask her to speak in private.
We move to a private room and she seems calm, a little too calm. Oakson magically bursts forth from my pocket and she seems surprised, she quickly sobers up when she hears our news. She said she has not been able to meet with the council but maybe we should check out the portal. We agree but our suspicions are aroused (Hmm . . . Maybe I should pick another word when referring to Lady Catherine . . . ).
We follow her, but as we do Oakson tells us quietly that he senses that she is under a charm of some sort. In talking with her we decide it is best we head down to check out the portal now but for security measures we bring along another Paladin.
Lady Catherine orders everyone out of the Keep and then she goes to the sanctuary and reveals a secret passageway under the altar that everyone begins heading down. I am overly suspicious as always, and take my normal perch in the corner of the room where I can best assess any danger that might try and flank our position as the rest of our company heads below.
They are not down there long before, to my great shock and confusion, I see none other than a disheveled and panicked-looking Lady Catherine run into the sanctuary from outside and my mind spins for a split-second as to how there could be two Lady Catherine’s but then I discern that this one standing in front of me is certainly not the imposter. I am suddenly full of fear for my friends.
I quickly yell to Lady Catherine what is going on as I sprint down the stairs in the secret tunnel. As I am running, a thought crosses my mind that I should write a song about secret tunnels, specifically those going through mountains. It would probably be a big hit.
My mind snaps back to attention as I calmly assess the situation I see before me as I run into the grand open room that holds the portal, my friends, and the impostor. Without hesitation, I pull out my bow and fire an arrow across the space that lies between me and my company that sails straight and true, hitting it’s mark and sinking into the impostor posing as Lady Catherine. Everyone whirls around and are shocked to see both me rushing Lady Catherine as well as a second Lady Catherine running in behind me.
A fight ensues where our company turns on the impostor for a moment and she fends off the blows coming against her. But then suddenly Oakson wisely discerns that there might be more here going on than we see and breaks up the fight. Absalom grapples the Lady Catherine that ran in with me and I grapple the Lady Catherine that I first attacked.
We begin to question them and our minds spin and are quite confused as we cannot tell the two apart. Who is the impostor and who is not? I might have attacked the wrong person. Suddenly Absalom knocks the Lady Catherine that came running in with me to the ground and begins beating her, throwing punch after punch. Suddenly we see her transform into a familiar creature-the Cambion we know as Rexan. Heh.. my bad, Caherine. We begin attacking him but the real Lady Catherine suddenly starts yelling for us to stop and begins to try and make Absalom stop attacking Rexan.
From the end of the grand open corridor we hear gears start to turn and to our dismay we see the portal beginning to open. I dash towards it and quickly read the celestial inscription above the door:
It dawns on me that the very act of mercy that Lady Catherine is doing at this moment in defending Rexan is actually opening the door, and very swiftly at that. I hesitate for just a moment, a strong-suit of mine, and realize I need to stop Lady Catherine at all costs. I wheel around and fire off a shot. It is aimed at her jugular knowing that it will cause her to bleed out and lose consciousness, hopefully stopping the door. As I fire, I yell out my deepest of apologies to Lady Catherine and for Oakson to heal her and get her out of there.
Justice comes from Pelor alone, and it is his will that closes these gates to banish the fiends within. Only by his great mercy may they be opened again.
My arrow hits its mark, praise HaShem, and she faints, but Oakson quickly gathers her up, pulls out my arrow, and heals her wounds. The doors stop opening and reverse their process and close with a resounding slam. I breathe a sigh of relief.
Rexan, knowing his plans have been foiled, bursts out in a rage of strength and throws Absalom off of him and sprints up the stairs back to the sanctuary. I see Oakson transform into a lion and give chase to him as I do the same, only steps behind him. The chase lasts all the way up the stairs to the sanctuary. I reach the top just in time to see Rexan with wings outstretched heading for a window in the corner of the room. I take aim and fire off an arrow and whisper an incantation, hoping to ensnare Rexan with my binding arrow. To my dismay the arrow flies by him and he is out of the building and away from our reach. My heart sinks knowing we will have to, for a third time, face this evil being sometime in the future.
Our party gathers together and decides we need to get in touch with the mages, and quick. We make our way down to The Silver District and with minimum commotion at that. Just a couple dead guards and some trickery. No big deal. We arrive and I find my new friend Ronold Cobbler. He’s a nice fellow, a bit on the nerdy side, but sincere. A thought pops into my mind that he should begin an order called Torrey for other intellectual types like him, he seems to like the idea as I tell him about it, but somehow I get a sense I will regret mentioning that to him.
We let him know that he must get in touch with the order of the mages and tell them about the recent events and then he lets us know that they had just adjourned from meeting about a growing evil in the west they have sensed. He has actually been appointed as the scout to check it out. We tell him we would like to go with him if we can. He lets us know it won’t be for a couple weeks until he leaves, so we have some time.
Next we head to the great oak that lies behind the mages guild. There we find a very old druid named Rapha which means healer. He tells us his story of being here long before the city had grown up around him when there were lots of old trees like these. Oakson also recounts his story to both Rapha and us because we had never heard it before. It is a beautiful story of how he became a druid and his history from creation. We are all moved by the story, though of course none of us show it. Such is the company of adventurers.
However a very odd thing happens. As Rapha tells us his story he mentions something and suddenly my eyes widen and my heart almost stops as a revelation hits me.
To be continued…