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Aurumar's Journey

Aurumar allows himself to be lead away by the unseen hand. The explosion had taken some of the fire from under his skin, his racing heart had slowed a little – no longer pounding in his ears.

What have I done? How did that happen? Forgive me my Lady!

He reaches up to his neck to touch the phylactery while he is being drawn away.

I need this poison removed from my veins. I need to control it, else I endanger the others. This help, whomever it may be – I will have their assistance to clear my blood! Karaglen forgive me – I will return to you.

The night sky Aurumar is thrust into is not the night sky of Avistan, the stars seem to pulse and move throughout the sky, high above demonic creatures battle in the sky, lightning arcs dancing between them lighting up the landscape below. Lost in his thoughts Aurumar pays no heed to where the demonic alchemist leads him, all he notices is that he is in a forest unlike any he has seen before until suddenly it feels as if his stomach is in his throat and his vision flashes white. The nausea nearly causes him to drop to one knee, Gydric had teleported him plenty of times but it had never felt quite like that.

Looking up he is greeted by a breathtaking sight. In front of him, stretching out before him is an urban sprawl of towers, domes, spires, canals, twisting alleys, and mazelike streets. The bulk of the buildings of this immense city are made of porphyry, from regal purples to deep crimson, with highlights of black and white marble and grey basalt in places. The city itself is larger than any Aurumar has ever seen, and indeed, larger than he could ever have imagined a city being. Demons of all sorts walk the streets, as do humanoid races from all corners of Golarion and beyond.

“Alushinyrra.” The alchemist speaks for the first time since arriving in the Abyss, “Nocticula’s Porphyry City. A place so massive it’s nearly impossible to get around without teleportation.” He looks around as if getting his bearings, “Try to suppress your wonder, as being pegged as a newcomer here could be dangerous. Now, about that blood of yours…” He sets off into the immense city, expecting Aurumar to follow.

Aurumar quickly tears his tabard from his body, and stuffs it within his pack. Outward display of faith in The Inheritor would be the first likely sign for others of his recent arrival. He then adjusts the greatsword at his shoulder, ensuring it is clear for draw if necessary.

My Lady, each stitch in it’s repair will be a penance served when my blood and soul are pure. Until then, I must walk this dark path to protect my friends and bring back the light to the Crusades!

Quick-stepping to catch the alchemist, “Creature, if you wish for me to call you different, I would know your name.”

“This is truly a city of wonder, are you sure it is not a world in it’s own right? I am truly amazed by what is before me. But, this place is also a blight. I have a greater need though, than to charge headlong to a glorious death so I will take due care, but do not expect me to cower should we be challenged by Demons. Avoid them if you can, give me warning when you can’t.”

“And yes, about this blood of mine…”

“Mutasafen”, the demon smiles at Aurumar as he asks his name, “Ex-servant of the demon lord Haagenti, and the genius who did with the Nahyndrian crystals what Areelu could not.” Mutasafen leads Aurumar down what seems to be endless streets, the pair getting the occasional dangerous look but nothing moves to attack them. “To a mortal this place might seem to be a world of its own, the abyss is not like your world, it morphs and changes in response to its inhabitants and lords. This part of the abyss is ruled by Nocticula, and by her decree this city is open to all.” He points towards Aurumar’s bag, “Probably still best to leave iconography of Iomedae hidden though.”

“I had some contact with the glabrezu Jerribeth, her handiwork is obvious in your aura. It is… magnificent.” He looks Aurumar up and down, his eyes glazing over with magic as he does, “She was fond of the deformation her blood often caused, but you seem immune. I can only assume this is from your celestial heritage as you certainly seem to have received the benefits.”

Mutasafen stops in from of a large domed building of deep red porphyry at the heart of a tangled warren of sleazy market stalls offering all sorts of flesh ranging from animals Aurmar recognised, to ones that looked disturbingly humanoid and yet others that were completely unrecognisable. “Rapture of Rupture.” Mutasafen gestures towards the deep red building, “Business place of Vellexia, possibly the most powerful succubus transmuter in all the Midnight Isles.”

“Mutasafen, I am still coming to terms with what is within my blood. To what am I immune? Deformity? Iomedae protects me well I am sure, and the gift of my heritage from her, is a gift to all who would turn back the tide of evil. I would know if there is a way to remove the taint!”

Aurumar continued the struggle within, confusion flickering across his face as he wrestled with what he wished to know, and opening up too much to his demonic companion. His life before had been far simpler for its focus, confusion and doubt reigned within.

Iomedae, guide my words and guide my steps. Slaying Demons is what I am for, why set me on a path of consorting with them?

“Tell me more of these crystals. And, what of this elixir I have heard of? I assume it is you that creates the elixir, being the genius that you say you are. Would you hypothesise to the impact of the elixir upon my body? Assuming my possible immunity… and taint?”

Looking up at the shop’s sign, Aurumar resolved to take yet another step on the path Iomedae lay before him, the path to cleansing the taint, the path to redeeming himself for his lapse in faith. Aurumar places his hand on the door, but before applying pressure he looks to Mutasafen.

“This Vellexia… is this who we come to see? Tell me, what does a transmuter do?”

“Why, you appear immune to the demonic transmutation and yet you have received the demonic resilience.” Mutasafen gives Aurumar a wicked grin, “There is no taint to remove, only a gift, but yes, I believe it can be removed, though not by myself.” He nods at the sign, “A transmuter of significant power would be required to remove the… as you put it… taint. As for the effects of the Nayhndrian elixir on yourself,” The cambion stares off wistfully as he pauses, then disappointment crosses his features, “I guess we shall never know, that damn dragon destroyed my lab, and with it the last of my elixir!”

Mutasafen sighs and composes himself, “I imagine it would work on you much as it does on other demons. It would enhance your mythic power to a height you could never imagine, or it would destroy you utterly. But do not worry,” He gives Aurumar a smug look, “I was mere days away from perfecting the process to make it safe, and all that knowledge is now up here, and Vellexia has the means both to get me more crystals, and to remove your gift.” He turns back to the door, “As for what a transmuter is, she is a powerful wizard, with many contacts in the Midnight Isles. It may be difficult for us to get an audience but I believe your…. Uniqueness… will grant us that.”

“Well then, it is audience that we shall have!” And with that, Aurumar pushed open the door and stepped through the portal. As he made his first steps he continued the conversation, “These crystals, where do they come from? How do they grow?”

My Lady, a great boon may be delivered to us. If we can turn this demon upon it’s own, and use the crystals to empower myself and my friends, the end may be nigh. The Crusades may at last have what it needs!

The entry foyer is small, only around ten foot square, and the opposite door is guarded by a pair of succubi. They smile sweetly at Aurumar and one of them licks her lips as she admires his physique, “Do you have an appointment, handsome?” The succubus that spoke walks towards him with a sultry sway in her hips. Before Aurumar can reply, their eyes narrow and their gaze locks on Mutasafen’s. A few moments pass in silence before they turn back to Aurumar with wry smiles, “It seems you have something more than an appointment,” the closest one gives him a wink as her companion opens the door for him, “Please, enter.”

The door closes behind them with an echoing clunk as Mutasafen follows Aurumar into the next room. A creature with a face resembling a large fly dressed in opulent clothing bedecked with jewels looks up from a desk full of papers. On seeing visitors he leaps to his feet and gives a low bow, Welcome to Rapture of Rupture, my name is Ooroon. What form of entertainment do you bring for the Mistress of Rapture? The demon’s voice has a buzzing note to it even as it rings in Aurumar’s mind.

Aurumar focuses his attention, thinking back at the demon in the same way when trying to converse in his mind with Gydric. Ooroon, I seek Vellexia, I believe your Mistress. I would offer her an opportunity she would likely find difficult to resist, in return for assistance given of course. I know she has access to crystal that I seek, and know that the opportunity to study my ‘physiology’ would be of great boon to her.

So, your entertainment is of a physical nature then? The bug-eyed demon looks over Aurumar and pauses in a way that Aurumar has learned to associate with mental communication. The Mistress will see you.

Large brass double doors open to Aurumar’s left, leading into a roughly circular room of red porphyry. To either side of the room are caged off sections with ornate brass bars rising to the full height of the ceiling above, in each cage lays a serpentine winged woman, their flesh flayed and blood pooling underneath them. At the far end of the room, resting upon a floating brass throne is a strangely homely looking succubus wearing a long flowing green gown with gold trimmings. The mingled scent of perfumes, blood and burning metal assault the paladin’s senses as the two caged creatures raise their heads and spit at him, their faces contorted with evil.

The succubus looks up from a large tome hovering in front of her, her voice is soothing yet commanding, unlike a normal succubus it is far more cultured and somehow even more enticing, “You must be the Son of Iomedae I have heard so much about.”

Ignoring the creatures in the cages, and maintaining a regal bearing, Aurumar responds to the monster on the throne, “Mistress Vellexia, I would not say that I am pleased to meet with you, but it pleases me to find you. I believe you have access to Nahyndrian Crystals. I worry that my blood is tainted and these crystals may be of use in my cleansing and Mutasafen here needs more to continue his studies. I know these crystals are gathered without Nocticula’s knowledge, and I imagine she would be greatly displeased to hear of them being mined without her permission. What do you ask to give access to what I require?”

Almost immediately Aurumar speaks up before she can respond, “And be reasonable, I could just as easily seek out Nocticula itself, and notify the demon of what is occurring, and get them another way!”

Vellexia’s bored expression changes to a coy smile, “My my, don’t you have courage! I do like that. Though I guess it is to be expected from a paladin.” She strokes her face absently, the movement of her finger strangely sensuous. “I may be able to help you, but you will need to entertain me first.” She looks Aurumar over like a tiger examining her prey. “I hear you have an exceptional physiology.”

Aurumar hears Mutasafen’s voice in his mind. We need to get into her manor, it is there that she will have her records and equipment. Only those that impress her greatly garner an invitation. The cambion is careful to remain behind Aurumar as he attempts to remain out of Vellexia’s notice.

Aurumar turns his shoulders and subtly flexes and slightly stretches, without being too overt. He reaches forward, palm upward and replies, “My physiology is available for study, but I don’t think you will find me entertaining. I have no interest in being a plaything. Where would you like me to attend? Surely you would not wish to perform the cleansing, or your studies here.”

The succubus licks her lips and gestures to a door behind her, “My manor is where I shall examine you.” She steps down off the floating throne, her feet halting inches off the floor as she glides effortlessly to the door. With a wave of her hand it opens, revealing a steaming pool of crystal clear liquid. “Enter the pool and be taken to my manor, you may take your manservant with you.”

Stay aware Mutasafen, when our goal is at hand we need be ready. With but that thought, Aurumar strides toward the portal. At the verge, before entering, he turns his head slyly to the succubus and winks, Let us see where this game takes us, and steps into the liquid.

The world spins around Aurumar the liquid rushes up to grab him, pulling him into the pool. He instinctively holds his breath as he’s pulled under, the surface rapidly vanishing from above him. Breathe. The voice in his head is smooth and seductive but Aurumar resists the compulsion. The weight of the liquid pushes down on him and his lungs burn from the lack of air. Breathe! The command was more insistent, its smoothness gone and sounding urgent now. Breathe or you’ll die! His vision was starting to narrow and he could feel his body giving up, he would have to trust the voice. Fighting against his instinct Aurumar allows the liquid into his lungs, it flows rapidly like quicksilver and he is overwhelmed with feelings of rapture and warmth as his vision brightens and he feels himself stop sinking.

With a surge he feels himself flying quickly through the liquid and is launched unceremoniously out into a dimly lit room. Exhale. Aurumar kneels on the floor and realises he is still holding his breath, the liquid in his lungs keeping him warm and filling him with powerful sensations. Exhale! Realising he will have to give up the rapture to be able to breathe again he exhales, coughing up the mercurial liquid onto what appears to be plush scarlet carpet. The liquid flows across the floor and back into a well identical to the one in the Rupture of Rapture. Aurumar hears Mutasafen cough next to him as the alchemist is also dumped into the room.

Looking up the room around him is plush and opulent, naked demonic bodies writhe and moan on both soft bedding and hard stone alike. The scent of death, sweat and ecstasy assault Aurumar as the orgies around him fade and he focusses on the form of Vellaxia that appears in front of him with a flash of light and a blast of sulphur.

“Now, to take you somewhere more… comfortable.” The succubus smiles and waves a hand towards Aurumar. The edges of his vision go dark and his limbs begin to feel heavy, reaching for the light of Iomedae inside he tries to resist but instead of the usual warmth he finds a cold void. He collapses forwards onto the thick carpet, trying to maintain consciousness, “Just let it happen, this will all be over soon.” Vellexia’s sultry voice is soothing, it would be so easy to just fall asleep to it, so easy…


Aurumar wakes to find himself staring at a red marble ceiling, his arms and legs spread out and bound to cold hard stone on his bare back beneath him, only his drawers remain to give him some semblance of dignity. He feels drained and exhausted and something warm slowly running across his fingers and toes. Straining against restraints that bind his chest and limbs Aurumar looks to see brass spikes piercing his ankles and wrists, and his blood flowing freely down channels in the stone and out of his sight. The room around him appears to be some sort of laboratory with a number of benches covered in vials, tools and other apparatus that Aurumar doesn’t recognise. In one corner of the room the cambion alchemist Mutasafen is bound with his arms spread, hanging limply from the chains around his wrists.

My Lady! Give me the strength to overcome these bonds and bring retribution to this evil. Aurumar struggles to remain conscious but Vellexia’s magic still has hold of him and he passes out once more.


“Paladin... Paladin!” The voice comes from somewhere in the darkness, “Aurumar!” a red haze slowly fills Aurumar’s vision as he recognises the voice. “Wake up!” Blinking his eyes he regains consciousness, finding himself in the same predicament as before, only now Mutasafen is awake and glancing nervously around the room.

Aurumar stares around the room as best he is able, taking in all he can see, looking for a way to escape his bonds. “Mutasafen, we must find a way! I would not have you bound and die on my behalf! I will not allow the Crusades to fail upon this table!”

Mustasafen responds, “It seems Vellexia didn’t trust us.” He looks over at the bare chested paladin and cringes, “And she hasn’t wasted any time getting what she wants either.” Before he can say anything else the iron door to the room screeches open and Vellexia steps inside, flanked by a large, barrel chested incubus with two horns that curl outwards and down to his chin with a wicked looking scimitar strapped to his waist.

“Ah, I see you’re awake Son of Iomedae.” She practically spits as she uses Aurumar’s title, her previous seductiveness replaced by cold, calculating demeanour.

“Enjoy what you gain creature, the light of The Inheritor will shine within me, and I will bring about your end.” Vellexia ignores the Paladin while the incubus stands guard silently, as she moves around and kneels to inspect the bottled blood under Aurumar’s slab. “This should be enough for now, bring it to my laboratory and remove the spines.” She glides from the room, paying no heed to the occupants. The burly incubus growls at Mutasafen as he moves to Aurumar’s slab and pulls a lever. The spikes through his wrists and ankles retract and he reaches below the slab, pulling out a large glass vial full near to the top with Aurumar’s blood. He grins evilly at the paladin and turns to walk from the room. The door slams behind him with a metallic clang.

This same routine continues for a number of days, perhaps even weeks, in his constant stupor and near death condition it is hard for him to tell. Aurumar is drained of blood, the incubus comes and takes it giving him time to recover, then they put the spikes through and the cycle repeats. A teifling cleric is sent in daily to provide healing and sustenance for the two without having to unbind either of them. During this time Mutasafen and Aurmar talk often, the cambion learning to respect Aurumar’s strength of will and conviction and beginning to understand Iomedae’s tenants - the reason the mortals fight their crusade. For his part Aurumar discovers that Mutasafen, whilst born evil, seeks knowledge for its own sake and has no wish to harm others, and in fact went out of his way to try and make the Nayhandrian elixir safer and less deadly to the demons that would imbibe it.


Eventually Vellexia seems to have either tired of the game or had learned all she wished to learn from Aurumar and she orders her incubus to drain the remainder of his blood and leave him for dead. As the blood drains away, Aurumar begins to sink into darkness but then he feels something, a warm glow at the centre of his being, something he hasn’t felt since he was a child and before that fateful day the demons attacked. He fumbles in the darkness, desperately trying to reach for the light but it drifts out of his reach as the darkness takes him.


Aurumar vaguely registers a cold flask being pressed to his lips, “Drink!” Mutasafen’s voice is distant as if coming from another world. He tries to drink from the flask but his lips fail to move as the sweet liquid slides down his throat like warm honey. The warm glow in his centre comes back to life, and this time Aurumar is able to grasp onto it, a blade of light in his sole. He stumbles as Mutasafen helps him to his feet, “We don’t have much time, Vellexia has new guests, and I have slipped her servant a… sedative.” Too drowsy to see Mutasafen’s face, Aurumar can still hear the deception in his voice. The sounds and smells of the demonic brothel assault him once more as Mutasafen leads him through the perverted rooms and to the portal fountain where they entered.

“Good luck my friend, return to your companions – I have kept my part of our bargain.” The alchemist guides Aurumar to the portal, “I do not come with you, the knowledge I seek is within your blood and I will take it from Vellexia whilst she is not home. Do not fear for me, I am sure our paths will cross once more.”

Aurumar reaches out and clasps the cambion’s hand, his throat parched. “By Iomedae’s Will. You will know of my success friend!” With that Aurumar is gently pushed and he plunges into the fountain, to find himself dazed in front of Vellexia, his allies and companions facing off against the succubus transmuter.
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Epic!
The Halfling's Sorrow
Nurah sits in her cell, repeatedly bouncing a rock off the wall and catching it again in her small, agile hands. Kain or Sosiel had normally come to visit her by now and she was starting to worry. She was quite fond of the stories of the Dreamer in particular and Kain had promised her a story about the origins of the Swallowtail Festival.

Arcane runes flare around the halfling's fingers as she slumps backwards to the ground. With a wave, hundreds of beautiful sparkling butterflies flutter through the air of her cell, shining with an array of colours. Using her bardic magic Nurah plays with the butterflies in the air for a while, making them weave hypnotic patterns between each other. Just as the spell expires she makes the butterflies fly to the ceiling and create a momentary illusion of the night sky.

"Kain... Where are you?" She pauses for a moment and then closes her eyes, Desna, please protect your faithful servant and bring him back to me so he can teach me to dream. Nurah opens her eyes and a single tear runs down her cheek.
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The Aftermath
Irabeth cleaned the thick black ichor that passed for Ulkineth blood from her fathers sword as she surveyed the battlefield. Broken and bloodied demon bodies lay scattered around the outskirts of Drezen, the fallen defenders having already been removed from the battlefield by the clerics and paladins of all the faiths that now resided in Drezen. With a flick the Warden of Drezen sheaths her sword and turns to look back towards the city. The day had been won, in no small part thanks to the efforts of General Kain Ashmantle and the planetar Rathanael, summoned by the Sword of Valour.

She began the walk back towards the citadel, her face dark with concern. There had been many deaths today, among them another of Iomedae's angelic guardians, leaving the city with only one angelic protector. It was not for naught however as the fifth crusade still held Drezen, and by all accounts Nerosyan still held as well.

"Irabeth!" The half-orc cracks a slight smile at the sound of her beloveds voice and she looks up to see Anevia winding her way through the battlefield to her. The two woman stop in front of each other, both checking the other over for harm before they launch into a warm embrace. "I'm so glad you survived. When Kain and Kamilo returned to the walls without you I feared the worst, but then they told me you were still out here."

"I am sorry my love," Irabeth gently caresses the other woman's face, "I feel the weight of every loss even more than ever now. Iomedae has given me another chance, but yet I cannot save everyone." Her head droops until Anevia lifts it so she can look into her eyes.

"She didn't bring you back to save everyone, she brought you back to save the world." Irabeth stares at Anevia's face for what seems like an eternity before pulling her close into a tender embrace.

"Since when did you become so wise." Irabeth releases her lover and makes to walk back to Drezen, "Come, we will need your wisdom in the days to come". Anevia takes Irabeth's arm and the two of them walk together back to the citadel.
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Staunton's Journal (Extracts)
Stanton's journal is a well worn, leather bound book with an embossed symbol of Torag on the cover. Torag's holy symbol is barely recognisable under the blood drawn symbol of Baphomet that now covers it. This journal records events from Staunton’s life, recited from his childhood in the Five Kings Mountains to his time spent in the First Mendevian Crusade searching for the lost Sky Citadel of Jormurdun, on to his betrayal of Drezen and his time spent serving Deskari and Baphomet
alike. (See the NPC page for a full write-up of Staunton's history).

On examining the journal, there are a leaf of pages that come free from the binding. These pages list dozens of sacred and holy weapons that the Vhane brothers have corrupted using the corruption forge. The information on these pages is quite in-depth, listing the specific rituals and materials required for each sacred or holy artifact.

Staunton seemed poor at keeping dates on his journal, making it difficult to tell the exact time each entry was made. However it is obvious that the entries are chronological and the most interesting follow, the most recent first.

---

Some so-called heroes of Kenabres are apparently headed this way, they've already entered the city. Just when I was about to head out and find Arueshalae this happens! I'll remain here long enough to send their army running for the hills and hopefully be around to watch their flesh flayed from their bones before I leave on more important tasks.

---

That whore Aureshalae escaped the prisons today! The day after Aponavicius leaves she finds a way to escape! Baphomet save me, if Aponavicius finds out I've let her precious little heretic escape she'll send me to the abyss for sure. Hopefully her inability to teleport or use many of her other demonic abilities will make it easier for my minions to find her. At last report she had fled into the wilds of the Wounded Lands. If the thoxel's can't find her I may have to send that annis hag cultist of Sifkesh after her as well.

The markings left in her cell worry me, as does the feeling I get from standing in there. Chorussina tells me that she can't remove whatever effect has been placed on it, and she believes it was done by the goddess Desna - why would one so strongly opposed to Lamashtu help to rescue a succubus? It makes no sense at all.


---

The Sword of Valour, that fool marileth STILL wants to keep it as a trophy after all these years even with the new invasion of Mendev on the way. The power we could no doubt harness if we were to successfully corrupt it would be incredible - Fort Drezen would once again be the indestructible fortress it once was!

If only she hadn't also survived the Nahyndrian elixir, this place would be mine by now. Perhaps she will fail when she assaults Mendev, the Queen is still a mighty hero and Iomedae still watches over those fools. I can only hope, however unlikely it might be. There has never been a more powerful marileth on this plane than Aponavicius is now.


---

The leader of the Blackflame Adepts graced us with his presence today. He is a worm who walks known as Xanthir Vang, and with Baphomet as my witness I never hope to have to meet him again. He is the most revolting creature I have ever had the dishonour of meeting, his entire body crawls and writhes with the worms that make it up and his voice seems to come from everywhere at once.

If he did not possess immense arcane power and was not so instrumental to the Ivory Sanctum I would have slain him for his affront to nature. Such an abomination should not be allowed to live.


---

More to come...
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