The Illuminated Ones

Illuminated Journal 11

By Caleb Shaw

With only the Chalice of Wrath remaining to be found, Matthias and I speak to the church library’s head archivist about researching the possible whereabouts of the chalice. After being granted unrestricted access, I settled in for what turned out to be a long night in the stacks. The elixir of the Scarlet Ox proved to be immensely helpful for maintaining focus throughout the all-night endeavour.

I came across some parchment, the text upon which seems to have been scribed by Ascendant Shevann herself. She recounts the time she came upon the Chalice in an open clearing, raised up on a pedestal which was surrounded by the rotting corpses of farrow. She reached out to grasp it and was pierced by a barb, drawing blood in the process. Where she describes the location sounds like an abbey about half a day travel north of our current location, though it is unlikely to resemble anything she saw or described with a repelled Skorne invasion having since taken place there.

Upon my return to the others with this news, it appears that Zakhar has found a little extra work for us. From what I gathered, he met with a Khadoran woman of some repute, requesting our assistance by escorting her to Mercir in 7 days. That this particular job also pays is excellent news! One does wonder why our aid in particular is being sought after, although payment does well enough to quiet these thoughts at least a little.

After some discussion and some much-needed rest, we made our way in the direction of the abbey’s location. As the sun set and darkness grew, further travel became increasingly difficult. We made camp and an uneventful night was most welcome.

Not long after resuming the following morning, we encountered the anticipated location of the Skorne invasion. Long-decayed bodies of fallen soldiers littered the area, still. Strangely, there laid the body of a trencher who had died recently. His dog tags were removed, so no means of identification were possible. Going by [SOMETHING], the most that could be determined was that he hailed from Mercir.

As we approached the abbey itself, visible signs of battle and bonfires to burn the dead remained. The door of the abbey was scorched, though it is not evident if this was intentional.

Entering the abbey with the others, something was amiss even at a glance. The inside appeared to be a shrine to the infernals. Some details could easily be overlooked or dismissed by the untrained eye, but to me, in that instant, it was unmistakable. Whoever is responsible demonstrated a clear devotion and celebration of infernals. As that initial moment of discovery passed, it seemed, at least for now, this was the least of our concern…

Numerous Farrow were inside and appeared to be ransacking the place. They must have been there for some time. Although these foul beasts were crude enough to have defecated in here, they were at least tidy enough to collect them into neat piles. Why they wouldn’t take the extra step to sweep it outside, or save themselves the effort and defecate outside in the first place is beyond me.

After our startling interruption, they set upon us, not wanting outsiders competing for their precious poop loot. Not long into the battle and I had been charged by one of these ugly beasts. I recall that I almost had him—a stiff breeze would’ve taken him down—and then the next thing I know I’m waking up on the ground, my companions having dispatched the remaining beasts. Although I didn’t witness it with my own eyes, I have no doubt it was a solid scuffle considering the size and number of them.

Matthias had another one of his mysterious and magnificent mixtures at hand. He administered it and had me on my feet in mere moments.

Lucian’s keen eyes found a hidden alcove revealing a crawlspace sloping down into a chamber below. It contained many destroyed artifacts, their shattered remnants strewn about the chamber. An officer’s sword with a faint maker’s mark of a chevron impressed upon it lay on the ground. In front of it, an empty plinth stood painted with a few drops of blood, hinting at the Chalices removal.

With nothing more to be gathered or learned besides the retrieval of the sword, we headed towards a nearby tower. Presented with a locked door, I made myself useful and granted us access. The door had barely opened more than a hair when it revealed an odour so foul I nearly lost my lunch, not that we had eaten any yet. Ascending the tower’s spiral stairs, the source of the awful smell was revealed. Bloated, rotting corpses of several priests were suspended from the rafters by their necks. It was apparent they had taken their own lives.

A nearby chest contains various oddments and a journal, which discusses the discovery of the Chalice. It details the Chalice having a will of its own, much like the other artifacts we have found. Runes carved into the Chalice glowed and the barb pierced the hand of the priest who came upon it, even though he knew better. Images of terrible deeds filled his head as his hand bled profusely. He made it outside the hidden chamber, but the details end there. Knowing what awaited them, the priests likely took their own lives rather than fall victim to it.

During our attempt to bury the deceased in the adjacent cemetery, we discovered something even more horrific. The gravedigger’s house nearby emitted a loud buzzing noise. Such a peculiar sound could not be ignored. The buzzing grew ever louder the closer we got, to the point where it could be felt as well as heard from the wide open door. Flies. What seemed like thousands of them, painted the contents of that place black. Dismembered corpses were piled to the ceiling.

Closer inspection revealed the bodies to be the remaining members of the trencher crew, to which the lone soldier we discovered earlier belonged. No dog tags reminder on these bodies either, but it was clear that they belonged to that of 3rd Army, 9th Division. Perhaps the perpetrator belonged to them too.

Upon our return, the Vigilant peers request our presence and to be filled in on and discuss recent events. Surprisingly, after our discussion, they award us 750GC each to prepare ourselves for dangerous times to come and to ensure that we can do so swiftly. That the church would provide money rather than having the requisite items crafted themselves speaks volumes as to the urgency and importance of our endeavours.

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Arasaka

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