AR 1219-08-19 Yari Discovers Devil Cult
The group had just gotten done with making the two nightmares and their fighters run away like frighten children and were heading toward the far exit, when suddenly Yari felt a pulling on his body. He experienced a slight dizziness, and when that stopped he found himself in Olaf’s bedroom in King Bjorn’s castle in Melinir. He had been there several times before when they shared some private drink that Olaf sworn was the best stuff, while they discuss the gods.
In front of him was a letter on Olaf’s desk. It read:
On this day, 18th of August of the king’s year 1219, this confirms that Olaf, the King’s cleric has his majesty’s permission to enter into the residence of Sir Matthew and Lady Helina Flaubert and speak with them about the reported sittings of strange creatures coming and going to their home during the night of 15th of August of the king’s year 1219. They are requested to cooperate with Olaf or be subject to arrest if he deems it necessary.
Yari looked out the window and could see the sun just starting to set. He realized if today was August 18th, that they had been gone just short of 4 days in the misty realms. Just as Yari was finishing reading the letter as he got his bearings, a knock came at the door, and he recognized the voice of his King on the other side calling to Olaf that the men at arms were down stairs ready when he was.
Yari opened the door and watched with amusement as the King’s face reacted to it being Yari, not Olaf.
“It seems Odin thinks you need me, not Olaf, to do this job. Olaf is very likely with the Silverthorn in the misty realms taking care of my friends. You don’t mind do you? Though you will need to change the name on your writ!”
Bjorn smiled, “I trust Odin to know what he’s doing,” and he reached out his hand to take the writ, walked over to Olaf’s desk and changed the name. Used a lit candle on the desk and dripped wax near the change, and made an impression of his ring. “There that should do it. The men at arms know the location. Good luck, and if Odin deems not to take you back too soon, please stop by when you’re done to give me your report. Otherwise, I will get it from Sergeant Smitty who leads your team.”
Putting on his most serious face, Yari responded, “As you wish your Majesty.”
Yari and the King went downstairs and he was introduced to the men. The soldiers and Yari marched out of the castle and headed to the home of the Flaubert’s which was on the edge of the noble’s section of the town near the high end market. Sargeant Smitty explained that someone making a late night deliver two nights ago to the home next door, told him that they had seen a creature that looked like it had flown with wings into the upper balcony. He and a few men and gone to the house about an hour later when the news had reached him. They checked and when butler answered the door he said he had just delivered evening tea to Sir Matthew and Lady Helina in their drawing room upstairs, and they were fine. The butler said the person must have been mistaken. Sargeant Smitty was adamant though that he checked the house to make sure nothing sinister lurked to attack them in the night.
The butler hemmed and hawed about it not being necessary, but finally checked with the lord and lady and got permission for the men to search the place. No attacker was found and they bid them a good night. Smitty explained to Yari that something just felt wrong, and he had spoken to King Bjorn yesterday. They had waited till today because that was when Olaf was back and could go with them for high level clerical assistance with making sure nothing was off.
“Let’s not make the mistake of assuming the worst just yet,” Yari cautioned. “The last time there were rumors of a dark, winged creature in this city, and something felt off, it turned out to be a Valkyrie saving us all from that plague years ago.
“Still, if this is more nefarious, I should be able to tell right away. People have a hard time concealing the truth from me. Lead on, Sergeant.”
The sun had set and it was getting dark by the time they were standing in front of the home. The Sergeant knocked and they waited, and waited and waited. After what seemed like 5 minutes, the butler answered the door. “May I be of assistance Sergeant Smitty?”
“Yeah, look, I don’t know how long I’ve got here, so I’m kind of in a hurry, and diplomacy is really more my sister’s thing anyway,” Yari said gruffly, stepping up and squaring off against the butler. “Jarl Hastae, Acting Royal Priest to His Majesty, King Bjorn. Pleasure. We have a writ granting us access to the premises, so please step aside and summon your master post haste.” With that, Yari moved directly passed the hapless man, and signaled the troupes with him to follow.
The butler was clearly not only surprised, but shocked at the treatment from this new Royal Priest as his mouth dropped open as the men filed past him. But then he ran over to Yari and got into his face and stammered., “My Master is not in his home right now. You will have to come back later!”
Yari sensed that he was telling the truth, but the words were phrased strangely. Almost like the man had worked to find the right words that would not be a lie.
“So you’re telling me your master’s home isn’t this house? Interesting.” Yari glanced at the sergeant and asked, “I’m new to this; how much leeway do I have granted me to question suspects?”
The butler’s face turned bright red. The sergeant smiled at what Yari had done, “A lot if you think there is danger to country and king!”
“Great. Have your men search the house! I’ll need you with me.”
Turning to the butler, he continued pleasantly, but matter-of-factly, “I never got your name.”
“J… Jeeves,” the man stammered.
“Jeeves. Do you remember me saying I’m in a hurry, Jeeves? I’m going to need you to start cooperating fully right now, or I’ll have Sergeant Smitty here render you unconscious, and I will steal the answers we need from your dreams. Do you understand, Jeeves?
“Where is your master, Jeeves?”
The man clamped his lips together and looked like nothing would ever part them.
“Fine, we’ll do it the hard way. Sergeant Smitty would you please do the honors.”
“My pleasure.” He stepped up to the butler and pulled back his fist.
“No!” Jeeves said as he reached out his hand as if to block the fist from hitting him and a sword appeared in it. He immediately took a startling slice with it that cut through Smitty’s neck causing blood to splash everywhere.
Jeeves backed up and licked the blood that had landed near his lips like it tasted good. He smiled, and brandished the sword at Yari.
By his stance, Yari knew this was an experienced fighter and would be challenging. But he also knew that Smitty was bleeding out on the floor. Just then Mr. Mittens bounded from around a corner and started licking Smitty’s face to heal him. So Yari turned his full attention to Jeeves, or whatever his real name was. Just as he was thinking about what to do first, men came from various spots in the house having heard the commotion.
“Stay far back. This one is mine.”
With a voice that had deepened with hatred, Jeeves continued as if he relished what he had just done. “You’re next, priest of Odin!”
At those words, Yari immediately threw up his divine shield, protecting him from all manner of unnatural beasts. “I feel foolish for not having done this in the first place,” he spoke, nominally to the butler, but mostly to himself, and then flipped his wrist to swing the rod he attached there via leather thong into his hand. Speaking a single word of power, Yari cast Detect Evil and Good. There was no question: ‘Jeeves’ was fiendish beast in human disguise.
“You okay there, Sergeant?” Yari asked without looking. He heard his familiar chirrup eagerly, and the soldier cough as life flowed back into him. “We just want this thing gone, or are we still interested in questioning it?”
Smitty spat out the blood in his mouth, “If it’s an abomination, kill it. I doubt we will get anything useful from it.” Then scratched the cats chin as a reward for healing him.
“Oh, kill it?” he said. “I just meant make it go away. I am in a hurry, as you may recall.”
Looking the phaux-butler square in the eyes, Yari finished, “But, as you wish, Sergeant. I will oblige!”
They circled each other taking each other’s measure. The fiend thrust several times, but Yari having sparred many times with his group side stepped them. Having his measure now, Yari brought out his Spiritual Weapon and attacked. The fiend got a couple of cuts on him but finally Yari put him down. As they all watched, the body disappeared into a cloud of sulfurous smoke.
“Devil in disguised!” Yari announced to the men and started munching on a goodberry, healing what few wounds he had taken. “Sergeant? You good?”
“Yes, your cat healed me.” As he stood up and dried the wet blood from his neck with his handkerchief. “What now? Do you think this is the only one?”
“Unlikely. We need to finish searching the house. Be on guard at all times, now.
“Y’know, though,” he added, mostly to himself, “I have been wanting to burn down a house recently…”
Smitty chirped in, “Too big a risk for taking more homes or even the city with it. The sparks would easily fly over the wall and spread. Ok, men, let’s search, go in pairs. Yell out if you hear or see anyone. If there was one of those creatures, there might be more.”
They searched for hours. The men found nothing unusual. Being a large home, Yari took his time to walk every square inch of it. He ended up in the basement and there he perceived a thin line in one of the walls behind the wine rack. He cast silence and tried to move it away. It slid as if it was meant to move back and forth. Now the next question was, should he get someone to go with him or not?
Yari stepped up the stairs, and seeing the first soldier, told him what he found and to fetch Smitty and more men.
Then he descended the stairs and checked around for traps on what he suspected was a secret door. It did not take long and he found what looked like a devious trap.
Yari went out of the Silenced area and waited for Smitty a few minutes later with men behind him. Yari explained about the nasty looking trap, and Smitty called for Bernard and Patrick to step forward. Then told the rest of the men to backup in case the trap went off.
Smitty explain in whispers, that the two were a pair and helped each other to improve the odds of disabling traps. Yari warned them that the silence spell was still up so they could not talk to each other. They made hand signals that told Yari that it was not an issue to be quiet. It seemed they were reformed street kids trying to make a better life for themselves. The King had pardon them for their thieving with the stipulation that they spend time in the ranks.
Yari and Smitty moved up the stairs while the men went down it.
It took a couple of minutes before the men to came back up the stairs, grinning ear from ear. Now out of the silence spell they explained that the trap was one of the hardest they had disabled, but with each other’s help, they were able to do it. It should not go off now.
Yari, Mittens and Smitty moved down in front of the door. The other men waited on the stairs.
Pushing in on the door caused it to move in just a bit then slide away to the side. There were stairs going down made from uneven stones, and rough dirt lined the walls and ceiling.
Yari remembered the devil’s carefully chosen words, ‘My Master is not in his home right now’. Could his master be down here? it was not part of the home above. Would his master be more or less powerful? He wished he had his group with him. But he would do what he could with the men he had. He motioned for Smitty to follow and have the men do likewise.
Once he was just out of the silence spell, he motioned for Smitty and the men to stay there as quietly as they could. Each man passed it up the stairs to the one behind them. Then Yari quietly cast invisibility on himself and Mr. Mittens.
Yari moved down as quietly as he could with his elven boots. The stairs curved down to the left, and when they got near the bottom they heard a door close, footsteps and then a voice from around the corner but still could not see anything.
“Wake up hon! I’m done! It seems a certain street urchin nicked named Pennywhistle is the one that broke into the temple and made off with the money. Should be easy to find her. Maybe we can sway her to our side. Sounds talented. If not, well, then another one for our Master. Where’s Jeeves? He should be back by now after talking to those soldiers at the door. I’m worried something went wrong my love.”
While the man was talking, Yari had moved down the last couple of stairs and crouching low, peeked around the corner.
The man who was talking had on a large butcher’s apron that was covered in fresh blood. There was enough that Yari doubted the owner was still alive. The man was standing in front of a beautiful woman sitting in a plush chair wearing a beautiful blue silk gown that Rissa would have loved to have.
The women pulled a crystal ball out of her pocket and started to cast.
Dashing out from around the corner, Yari appeared visible before the two in a bust of arcane energy, and with another word of power immediately countered whatever scrying spell the woman had begun.
With a loud, booming voice he hoped would carry up the stairs to signal Smitty and his men to charge down, the priest announced, “Ahem, Jaril Silverthorne, Acting Royal Priest to HIs Majesty, King Bjorn. I believe this is the part where we fight, no?”
The man charged toward him, putting himself between the women and Yari, a sword appearing in his hand, “No, this is where you die human!”
Yari saw the women stand up and prepare to cast again. He also heard the men coming down the stairs.
Yari rolled his eyes in utter disgust at the cliché of the fiend’s word, and cast Silence again to stop the female from casting anymore, then readied his shield to receive the first attack.
The woman opened her mouth and nothing came out. As she saw the men come out of the stairs, she backed up to the door that the man had most likely came out of, intending to go through it Yari figured. But he was busy with the man threatening him with the sword. He motioned for Smitty and the men to go after the woman and concentrated on putting his spear and feet in the right place to defeat the man expertly brandishing the sword at him.
She got her hand on the door as the men grabbed her. She kicked and punched but to no avail. They hogtied and gagged her.
The man with the sword made several successful hits on Yari before Yari got the man’s pattern and started making his own hits. Smitty kept the men back so as to not give the bloody butcher any easy targets. When Yari looked hurt enough, Mr. Mittens slipped in and healed him for everything he could. This gave Yari some extra energy just as the butcher finally was getting tired and bloody. Yari made his move and scored a critical hit on the butcher’s neck, piercing it through and out the back side.
The butcher fell and disappeared into a cloud of sulfurous smoke. Another devil. Yari wondered if the woman was one as well.
Yari scratched the chin of Mr. Mittens for the well-timed healing, dropped his Silence spell, and channeled some of Odin’s gifts to close his remaining wounds. It had been a busy night so far. As he walked over to the tied up, squirming woman, he thought again of his friends and how they were fairing.
Again tapping into his divine source of power, Yari knelt by the female and spoke, “Easy way, or hard way. I will get the answers I need from you one way or the other, but you can make this a lot easier on yourself if you cooperate. Who are you, and what are you doing in my liege’s city?”
She did not even try to verbally make any noise, but Yari could see the wicked grin on her face through the gag. Yari got from her surface thoughts a picture of Yari on a rack, with her slowly cutting his skin off and eating it.
Yari scrunched up his nose in a way he had unconsciously picked up from his father growing up, and said, “Shucks.” Then, he immediately and without warning focused his power and bored through the fiendish woman’s psyche to her inner thoughts. “Let’s try again. What are you doing in my liege’s city, please?”
Yari got a picture of her kneeling in front of a devil, as he focused on it, he realized the symbol on its crest was of Asmodeus, king of Hel. Was this who was backing this play into the city? He felt her trying to push him out. He doubled down and won the battle. He tried to dig deeper to see if he could find out why they were here.
He got the sense that there was a necromancer who followed Asmodeus wanting revenge and was using the devils to get it. Then she pushed with everything she had and he reeled back from the pain in his head. One headache coming up! But so worth it.
Blinking, Yari looked up at Smitty and worked to focus his eyes. “I’ve got what I can from her,” he said, pushing on his thighs to help himself stand. “She’s of no more use to us.” With that, he readied his staff at her form, called the divine spear tip to its end, and thrust his weapon into the fiend’s heart. With a muffled cry, and a poof of smoke, her form vanished, leaving her bonds and gag behind.
“There’s a necromancer of Asmodeus in the city seeking revenge for something. He’s been using these devils to achieve his goal. Apparently, there is a temple to the devil king hidden somewhere, and a street girl going by Pennywhistle who has robbed them. I know a man by the name of George who may be able to assist us in finding her, he works with… uh… troubled youth in this city. Pennywhistle could have valuable information, or not; either way, she’s in trouble and needs to be protected.”
Looking around at the soldiers, Yari quickly realized they were all looking to him for orders, even the sergeant. “George is working out of the temple to Sif, last I heard.” He pointed to the two that had opened the trap, “You two, go and talk to him. Explain the situation as best you can in private; I trust him, but worry about other ears listening in. Sergeant, you and the rest come with me, but prepare yourselves: I suspect this will be a grisly scene on the other side of that door.”
With that, and his headache abating, he moved to open the door the butcher fiend had come out of moments earlier.
The two men left up the stairs, and the others steeled themselves as Yari opened the door.
It was just as Yari had warned them. The boy tied to the table had been flayed alive, slowly. There were numerous torture tools on tables. Half of the tools had old blood on them and the other half had fresh blood. This was not the first child they had killed. Now it would be the last, at least for a hundred years before the vanquished beasts could return to Midgard.
“Gather up the body, and all the pieces you can find,” Yari heard someone say in a cold, businesslike way. “Bring everything to the temple of Odin for last rights. I will join Bernard and Patrick at Sif’s temple. Sergeant, alert our king as to what has transpired, then find me there. We need to find Pennywhistle to tell us where Asmodeus’ followers are laring, and then burn them out like the festering wound to this land they are.”
It was only as Yari spun crisply about and marched out of the house that he realized it had been his own voice he had heard talking, issuing commands. The man was beginning to understand Wolf’s obsessive hatred of anyone who harmed children a little more.
Yari headed over to Sif’s temple where he found High Priestess Gallemore waiting for him.
She explained, “I have sent out my clerics to find Pennywhistle. I know of her, and it is just a matter of time before we find her. Hopefully, this devil who knows her name did not communicate it to any of its members before you killed it. Do you wish to wait here or join me in the streets looking for her?”
Yari furrowed his brow at his fellow cleric, and simply said, “Let’s go.”
They began their search just as the town crier announced it was nine in the evening and all was well. After they searched for about twenty minutes, they were joined by Annabelle and several of her clerics, who had heard from a runner that a search for a missing child was on. Someone had drawn Pennywhistle’s likeness and distributed it to the searchers. Yari thought the child looked drawn but pleasant.
When the town crier announced eleven o’clock, they were getting concerned that the devil may have sent word to his followers to find the child before Yari killed him. They discussed the use of the Locate Creature spell, but no one who had it knew Pennywhistle, so it would not work. By this time, clerics from Odin, Idun, and Thor’s temples had joined the search as well.
Shortly after the town crier announced midnight, a young apprentice cleric of Idun came running up, very excited. She spoke to Elaina, a cleric of Idun who had just recently joined the team to search an abandoned building.
Elaina found Yari first. “It seems that this youngster took it upon herself to search the archives since we would not allow her to help search for the child,” she explained. “She has found deep in one of the ancient books a rare copy of the Locate Creature scroll. I believe it is still usable, though it looks to be an old form of the spell. I do not know the child myself, did you see which way High Priestess Gallemore went?”
“She went to check out the basement,” Yari said, his voice and demeanor still cold and businesslike. “I’ll come with you.”
“Lead the way Father Jarl.”
‘Father Jarl’, Yari thought to himself in detached amusement. Such a strange thing to be called. Such a strange thing to have people looking to him for orders and advice. He had been trained for this role his whole life, first by his parents, and then by the teachers at Golden Eagle, and now he was doing it. It would have felt good, were the situation less dire.
They went down the rickety basement stairs slowly so as to not cause them to cave in, and found Gallemore in a room down the hall talking to several children who not only needed baths but also food. She had just coaxed them from out under a bed when the two walked in. They scurried back under.
Gallemore sighed, “Ah, Cleric Elaina and Father Jarl, what brings you into this room?”
Elaina explained about the find of the rare scroll.
After Gallemore read it silently, she said quietly, “Yes, I do believe this will work. Sounds like you have a bright mind in your young apprentice, Cleric. I can get you the requisite gold for compensation in the morning.”
“No, I am sure High Priestess Donno will not want to take your money. It was old and lost, and a child’s life is worth even more than that.” Yari wanted to smile at her response, but he found his mouth cemented in that same cold expression he had been wearing for hours.
“I like the way you think, Cleric Elaina,” Gallemore replied. “Very well. After I cast it, would you be so kind as to try to get the children out from under the bed and into one of the temples.”
Gallemore moved outside the room motioning for Yari to follow. “I think as we move to where the girl is, we should gather as many clerics as possible. I have a bad feeling about this and want to have enough back up to get Pennywhistle alive if she has been kidnapped by the devil cult.”
She then cast the spell. “I’m not sensing anything yet; she must be too far away. Let’s walk through the town’s streets to see if I pick up her location.”
Yari lead the way up the stairs and took charge of gathering an army of clerics so that Gallemore could concentrate. When the group got large, he organized them according to talent so that the ones leading the charge would be the most advanced in case they ran into more devils and not just cultist. He made sure that those in the back would know to fan out and look for runners. If they looked too dangerous, they should follow but not engage. He grouped them in twos, so if one went down there was someone to heal the other.
Gallemore took note and was pleased by Yari’s initiative and tactical knowledge. She wondered how much of that was the dwarven school and how much was being Sven and Kara’s son. Unknown to her, Yari was wondering the same thing. Then, she got a ping on direction and signaled for silence to the group.
Several clerics cast Silence so that the group would be quiet as they approached.
Yari cast invisibility on himself and took point. About a hundred feet out he caught sight of a look out, and sneaking up on the person, knocked her out with one blow. That one was definitely human he thought to himself.
Gallemore pointed at the nice home at the end of the block of tightly knit houses.
“Okay, let me go up alone,” Yari said. “In case there are any more demons, I’m going to flush them out. Surround the house and wait for them to run out; they should be heavily damaged by the time they appear, so your men can handle them. I’ll take the strongest clerics in with me; you all follow after the fiends are mopped up.” With that, he slipped into the shadows along the side of the road. Carefully making his way close to the house, he began casting a spell.
There was a howl from inside, followed by another, unearthly and filled with pain. Yari took that as his cue and signaled the clerics, Terrence and Wilhelm, with him to follow him inside through an open window. The front doors burst open, and two black-skinned, horned figures came rushing out, clutching their faces in agony. The soldiers advanced and engaged while Yari, Wilhelm, and Terrence entered the building.
At first glance, it appeared empty, but the demons in their haste to exit the area of the Forbiddance spell Yari had cast neglected to close the hidden door behind them. Two more clerics joined them, coming in from the front door. “The soldiers are going to be engaged a moment, but they should be joining us shortly,” one said; the other remained quiet and alert. Yari nodded, and led the group of five down the hidden door and down some stairs.
In the basement, candles, skulls, and all other manner of demonic paraphernalia decorated what was clearly a shrine to Asmodeus. In the middle, an alter designed for human sacrifice sat, stained with fresh blood; upon it lay the body of Pennywhistle, her throat freshly slit, life blood still pouring freely from it. Around her stood four humans, armed and ready for an assault.
The two male cultist, one still holding the bloody knife that cut Pennywhistle’s throat, charged immediately. Sword and knife were joined by arcane blasts from the two females. Yari and the two clerics who had come in first with him presented a wall of shields to receive the attack, and he let out a blast of healing energy, emanating from all parts of his body. The gash across Pennywhistle’s throat sealed shut, and she took a sudden, painful gasp of air.
“Get to the girl,” Yari shouted at the remaining to clerics. “Protect her at all costs!”
The battle was surprisingly quick. The four cultists may have presented a challenge had Yari not been there, but the son of Odin’s chosen had faced far more serious threats in his time, and this lot proved no match. Soon, the soldiers from outside joined the small fray in the basement shrine, and it became clear the devil worshipers were outclassed.
It had been a long and exhausting day. Yari had not slept, but hoped to be doing so soon, at home with Elsie. But first he had to report what had happened to King Bjorn – even though it was two in the morning.
“The girl was saved from being sacrificed and she led us to the temple of Asmodeus. There we were able to find the remaining members of the cult. Those members still alive are being held such that they cannot communicate with anyone or anything. After interrogation, the necromancer was found to be living somewhere outside the city, but none of the members knew where. I would recommend if – no, when – Olaf gets back, that a special cleansing be done for those places we found with blood sacrifices so that the dead can rest peacefully. The ones underground should be filled in with blessed dirt as well. Last, you should send out spies to try to find out where he is living so that…” here, he trailed off, but quickly resolved himself. “So that … when… my group gets done with the Lich Lord, we can take care of him, once and for all.”
“Well done Father Jarl. I will see your recommendations are followed. What happened to the girl?”
“She is with High Priestess Gallemore, but has decided to become a cleric of Odin. It seems she’s, uh, taken a liking to me, since I was the one to bring her back from the brink of death. I hadn’t the heart to tell her I’m happily married.” Yari blushed a little, then continued. “’Sides, there are plenty of boys more age-appropriate for her among the ranks of Odin’s acolytes. Gallemore is going to take her in and give her some time to settle in before handing her over to Odin’s church, just in case it is an overreaction to what happened to her.”
“High Priestess Gallemore is most wise. How will you get back to your team now that your mission with me is over?”
“For the moment, I plan to teleport home to spend time with Elsie; then when I wake, I’ll see if I can communicate with them. At present, I am spent and would be of no help to them anyway.
“Did you hear we just had twins, two boys?”
“Yes, I had just heard. Oh wait, I have something for them.”
The King walked over and got two small blankets that were wrapped in a box. “I thought you would get good use of these, castles can be a bit drafty.”
“Thank you your majesty. If that is all, I will bid you ado.”
“May Odin be with you, Father Jarl.”
Yari smiled, “Thank you.” And he left, found the castle mage, and was teleported back to Silverbriar. There he found Elsie up with one of the twins. He gave her a quick kiss, washed up, and then fell fast asleep in his bed. He woke later as she got into bed and they held each other until they both fell asleep.
When he woke, Yari found Zen eating breakfast. He had come to Silverbriar sometime in the night and fell asleep himself with Aldhis. Zen only had time to give Yari a brief update before they were both summoned back to Golden Eagle Keep, where they were to begin the final journey to destroy the phylactery.