Shadows Over Innistrad

Addison's Journal IX

Are we doing the right thing?

~Date~

 

The days and nights here in the Thulwall mountains are cold. We had a difficult time getting to this point, had a hard-won victory, but it doesn't sit well with me.

 

We'd prepared for the journey to assist Edwin Lillibridge, the investigator up north, near Thul. We'd perused the maps and found by heading east, first, through Ashmouth, we'd shave nearly a week off of our trip. Ironically, a vision from Anubis bade me go there, to "Quench the Blade of Ashmouth" there. During our trip we could see a wall of black rain, cutting a clear line of demarcation separating the lands we'd cleansed of the foul rain and the next. We stopped the carriage and took steps to protect the animals to continue the journey. There was a village, Lamb-hold, barely visible in the distance through the rain. From what I've heard in Thraben, it was under constant raids by lycanthropes after they burned a lot of the forest around them to make more room for livestock and crops. A quintet of guards with an off mixture of bow and crossbow met us before we entered town. They asked our intent and how long we intended to stay, hinting that they didn't want us here for their hunt festival. We stayed the night at their small inn, I noted they were lacking the majority of the protections put in place to protect against lycanthropes, except for a few small sprigs of wolfsbane here and there, but far less than I'd expect for a town under constant attack. One of the carriage's lanterns, when lit, could discern a thing's true form, such as a lycanthrope, for a limited amount of time. I'd contemplated it's use for several minutes before discarding the thought. Fleer busied herself seeing to the protection of the horses with her salt and silver line. After a filling meal I turned in. My slumber seemed short before I was awoke by Fleer crying for me. I sat up, swung my legs off my bed and moved slowly to see what was going on. Apparently during the night, Potter had gone down to the common room and struck up a conversation, or tried to, with a local. Naturally neither spoke a common language. Fleer tried to speak with the drunkard and was now on the verge of being burned as a witch for admitting to having divine power and mentioning the Mark of Marduk. Apparently the teachings of Avacyn's previous life under Marduk is not taught here. I took it upon myself after finding out he was just giving general, easy to know advice about staying sage, to talk him in circles until he forgot completely about Fleer.

 

I went back to bed, had nearly passed out before I heard her call for me once more. Growling, I stalked back downstairs to answer a few more questions. Even more exhausted, I retired to my bed, sipping at my flask as I thought about the vision that Anubis had given me that was guiding me on this long journey. I still felt no closer to my real goal, saving my sister Isabel. I stopped at that thought, I hadn't had the nightmares about her in about a week… they'd been a nightly occurrence for years. I hoped that that didn't signal she was no more. I didn't think it meant that, but the thought troubled me. I put the flask away, barely having touched it and closed my eyes until the rays of morning light filtered in through the crooked slats of the shutters, waking me.

 

Some of the group wanted to stay and investigate the townsfolk, mistrusting their lack of protections, but the urgency of Edwin's letter bade us hurry. We travelled on several more days, we encountered Hollowhenge, 'The Lost Capitol', the former seat of the Empire within Innistrad before the Imperium was driven out many, many years ago. It's protective defenses granted by Avacyn had failed during an attack and the force, the sheer arcane power of the attack was visible as just the outer block or so of the city remained, the inner portion of the city was a deep, charred crater. We had already travelled into the ruins before noticing the crater, a quick decision was made to hurry through instead of backing out and skirting the edge. Manifested haunts and ghosts could be seen wandering the waste, as well as skeletons standing around mindlessly, we spurred the horses into a gallop, I stood atop the carriage, eyes peeled for danger. Up ahead two groups of maddened wargs appeared, in a position that could not have been mindlessly set, I glanced behind us, two more sets were behind us, sixteen of the large, wolf-like creatures came at us in an ambush. Further ahead, I saw a large, wolvish form, peering at us from behind a partial wall of rubble. He seemed of secondary importance as I readied the Sword of Ashmouth in one hand, crossbow held in a low ready stance in the other. The wargs swarmed us, clambering onto the top of the carriage with myself, Seraphim, Potter and a quickly scrambling Laash. Fleer had stopped the carriage and dismounted to protect the horses on the left, Bear Bear moved to protect their right flank. The fight was quick, Potter blew apart a tight formation of Wargs with a massive fireball behind us, though they survived to attack Viktor, who had ridden on our flank, dragging him from his horse. It was their mistake, his swords flashing this way and that, preventing them from gaining advantage and quickly cutting them down. Seraphim and myself kept the majority of the wargs on the carriage at bay, though the last two of them disappeared with a high, piercing squeal of pain, blood spraying from their nether regions, Marcus firing pistols from inside the carriage. Fleer finished off her wargs and moved to assist the beleaguered bear. When there was just a single warg left, fighting bear and Fleer, I had spoken the words to guide my bolt, turning and quickly firing it at the lycanthrope watching the fight. It cast a quick arcane spell, I recognized the abjuration against projectiles and tried dodging myself, my own bolt grazing high upon my cheek, drawing a line of blood. Fleer and I ran ahead to where it had crouched, but it had used a circle of magic to escape, a Dimension Door and could be anywhere within the city.

 

We left that accursed town, vowing to return to cleanse it after our business was finished in Thul. An argument about cleansing that crater now broke out, I had to be the voice of reason, informing them we need some extra components for the ritual and we had no idea how long the aftermath of the ritual would last. The last time we performed it, we were transported to another world and nearly locked away as madmen permanently.

 

We continued on to what would be our most dangerous encounter to date. A demonlord, The Demon of Ashmouth, guarded a physical gate to the Abyss. He had to be stopped to fully activate the non-descript sword I'd received from the Fae. We prepared, stalking towards him and the sickening tear in the air. It snarled and belched out a cloud of smoke, slowing us a bit, but Laash and Potter staggered and started coughing uncontrollably as he started running towards it. I enacted my judgment of Anubis upon it, minor scratches healing over instantaneously. Marcus fired his longrifle at it, drilling a hole through its torso as the rest of us charged the thing. Fleer reached it first, her axe driving into its body with hellish fury of its own, carving its torso nearly in half. Our steps faltered as it fell, but barely a second later it reformed in a rising swirl of smoke, looking completely healed… and perhaps a bit more powerful looking.

 

We renewed our attacks, Marcus sprinting in, his rifle falling back onto its sling, he tried sliding, unnoticed, past the demon, but got helped along with a wicked stroke of its weapon. As he skidded along the ground, he drew the gleaming, double-barreled weapon given to him by the smiths, loaded with its holy ammunition, a mixture of White oak, Holy Water, Garlic, Silver shavings and clove leaves, proof against most denizens of evil. He aimed up at the back of the demon, a white lance of sound and power erupting from the twin muzzles, striking the demon just below its wings, piercing completely through it. Fleer's axehead erupted through into the hole, the wings and upper torso falling free.

 

It reformed again, a bolt of dread energy striking Potter, who had cast a spell of flight upon himself and knocked the gnome to the ground, nearly dead. The wizard picked himself up and ran off, then demon turning his attention back to Fleer, Viktor and myself, the dread bolts striking at Laash as she had her Bear flank him with Marcus.

 

Anubis' words came back to me as I gazed upon this more powerful demon, I had to quench the blade in Ashmouth. This, the demon of ashmouth… it's blows had bloodied us, waves of fire sweeping forth from its weapon. I held a defensive stance, awaiting an opening. My vision blurred, my healing judgment not working fast enough in the hellish flames when he fell once more, I pounced upon it's body, sinking the blade into its heart before drawing it free and striking its head from its neck. This time, it lay still and did not reform.

 

We cut apart it's body, leaving little for the carrion feeders and left as the portal started to pulse with power.

 

Now we are here on the road once more, traveling in the foothills of the Thulwall Mountains, our victory feeling strangely hollow.

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Tanarus

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