It turns out that our benefactor was the last remaining high priest of Asmodeus in Talingarde, Adrastus Thorn. While he congratulated us for being the first to escape from Brandescar Prison, he showed us that he had also been branded with an “F” for forsaken, just like we had. Perhaps he escaped from his captors after being branded, but before he could be put in Brandescar. I will have my answer before Adrastus gives his newest cell, us, our orders. Eventually, I learned that Tiadora was a Handmaiden Devil, and despite her awesome might, she seemed to serve Adrastus. I will know why.
Adrastus invested time and money into us, helping us escape Brandescar, equipping us, training us…and in return he required that we swear allegiance to him and to Asmodeus, and pass Adrastus’ test, to see if we were truly capable of achieving his ends. He had us prick our thumbs and sign contracts to that effect. The primitive orc merely smeared his blood on the paper…idiot. Adrastus gave us iron circlets that allow us to magically disguise ourselves, and gave us all silver unholy symbols of Asmodeus.
For a test, Adrastus told us to clear the basement to his mansion and bring him a certain medallion. It was a scripted test. Adrastus left us clues how to complete each of the 9 rooms of his basement. In retrospect, I should be insulted as to how easy the test was. If this was all the test necessary to choose Adrastus’ next “knot” of followers, surely, he chooses followers that are too weak for the cause and he does not expect to accomplish much either. I take this as a sign of Adrastus’ weakness.
First, was a room with a spiked pit trap that the elf fell into…aren’t they supposed to be adept at finding secret openings or something? The pit was in front of a false door that we thought was the exit to the room. This elf seems to climb on the walls, summon fiendish eagles, and attack with claws and teeth from inside some kind of animalistic-looking construct of magic. I have no idea what makes this elf so unique…they are supposed to prance around in woods and shoot bows all the while insipidly sniffing flowers, right? …perhaps I should ask exactly why he’s such an odd duck…after all, there is power in knowledge. We found alchemical ice in one secret alcove, and an exit behind another secret door.
Second, we were admonished to choose our own path. The soldier discerned that tracks led to every door leading out of the room except one covered in a mold that fed on heat. We used the vial of alchemist’s ice that Adrastus left in the basement for us. The mold died and we moved on. Seriously, if he was testing us, it was far too elementary.
Third, we faced a vampiric mist supposed to be cloaked in darkness…but via a simple light spell, we detected the object emanating creating the magical darkness and shattered it when the orc flung one of my javelins at it. The vampiric mist rising from holes drilled in the floor was vanquished when I immolated it with Asmodeus’ unholy fire.
Fourth, we faced two mithril cobras in a room after finding an empty torture chamber. Again, the orc as able to so cleve them with his blade that he was able to sunder them into silver scrap. We saved the valuable metal for future use.
Fifth, we returned to a torture chamber we had found earlier. We then found Squire Timeon of Balentyne hiding in a tiny secret room adjacent to the chamber. We learned that Adrastus let him escape down here after allowing him to overhear how to make it this far into the basement. The Squire told us what else he knew of the dungeon. The admonition inscribed just outside the room said we should give no mercy to our enemies, but reward those who serve us well. While I was initially tempted to put the kid on the rack for simply being an idiot and worshiping Mitra, he did prove useful and, collectively, we offered him a reprieve if he would serve us. He did so.
Sixth, we lifted a cheap pendant off a podium, but were were not so sure that this was the pendant Adrastus sought. We chose not to take the stairs leading upwards from this room since we believed our task was not done.
Seventh, as we heard from Squire Timeon of Balentyne, we came upon the shrieker who would wake the undead if the room was lighted or if anyone approached. I gave the orc brute one of my javelins and he obliterated the mushroom in one mighty throw as he could see the mushroom in the dark with his darkvision. …he certainly has his uses.
Eighth, we faced the paladin Adrastus intended for us to kill, Sir Balin, Squire Timeon’s master. We were to take his medallion, it was quite evident. Pitting one paladin against us was hardly a match. The fool certainly slashed our soldier, Seth Meridan, pretty good, but it was nothing that my healing abilities couldn’t handle. The soldier put a couple holes in the paladin as well. Between the orc and I, we ensured that the paladin was well and truly dead after he was vanquished and bleeding out on the floor. Eventually, we decided to take the paladin’s full plate because it was valuable and, in lands controlled by idiotic Mitra-kissers, it could be useful for disguise purposes.
Ninth, we faced the undead, drowned sailors that we bypassed when we defeated the shrieker. Largely, they only gave the orc trouble in that they sapped his strength, but the brute was able to hack them apart with his huge blade. It was particularly satisfying to get in a few blows against the undead with my morningstar.
After we cleared basement, we brought the paladin’s medallion to Adrastus and proclaimed that we had passed his elementary test. Adrastus showered us with praise, held a feast in our honor and sacrificed the slaves of our choosing to a barbed devil. The orc foolishly chose the most beautiful of the females before he even knew why we were choosing. If he weren’t so valuable for his stupid brutality, I would have gutted him where he stood.
After the feast, we underwent training at Adrastus’ and Tiadora’s hands. Eash of us was bestowed with a divine trait. Personally, Adrastus and Tiadora showed me how to make my chanelling of Asmodeus’ unholy might more powerful.
When the training was done, Adrastus told us that he was sending us north on a ship.