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Journals of Ayoi: Part 2, Of Undead and Demons

Mordun 20: 12887

Today we transported the body of the late Sasha to her grove for reincarnation. I am unsure how I feel about this. On the one hand her knowledge and contacts are very useful, but on the other I find her greed and attitude very unpleasant. I can only but hope that as the cycle of life turns the latter will be much improved as she will no longer have the memory and history of a bitter human.
    Belar, the elder druid and mentor of Sasha (although she seems to have a complete lack of formal instruction and I have never actually seen him give her advice) was ready to meet us when we arrived this day. When the elder druid looked upon the body of Sasha he seemed disheartened however. The body was not in the best condition for unnatural reincarnation, having been burned and melted into only a vaguely humanoid form. Walking off, he did not return for an hour. Upon his return he seemed ready though, and began the ritual.
    The air picked up speed quickly and rose petals, which he arranged inside a circle on the ground, spun around. He began to call the name of the deceased in a chant as the body lifted from the ground and spun. Twigs, air, petals, and dirt flew in a maelstrom of activity. I had not noticed when, but the body had since disappeared. The voice of Belar finished the ritual with a single long call, seeming to bend the air and spirits around him, settling into a new pattern. Our dead fighting companion had settled into the form of a Lupinal.
    At first she seemed confused. She kept... touching... things. Not surprisingly Al also seemed rather befuddled. It seems no one had explained to him the ramifications or even the concept of reincarnation. Belar at that time recommended that we take her with us back to Bluewater to help her get back to doing things quickly. He asked about our recent journey into the Temple of Bone and we explained what had transpired there. Seeming a bit disturbed by our recent journey, he asked that we all meet him in a tavern outside of the town of Bluewater this evening past.
    At this meeting tonight he brought with him a book and from it he told us of many things. It seems that the Twenty found entrance into this world through the formation of rods of power. It would be interesting to know of the location of these devices. Perhaps though study of them it could be learned how it was that the original elder forces of the other planes were separated into singularly defined entities and worshiped as the Twenty. Ah but I digress.
    The thrust of his argument was that during this time the demon Abarat, known then as "The Hunter", was imprisoned in 3 items: a staff, a gem, and a "spirit". These now reside in the Temple of Bone. The mad followers of Qo now seek these artifacts to release Abarat for some unknown purpose. It was suggested by Al-Rathis that perhaps they wish to use this hunter to seek the disks containing the essence of Qo although this seems unlikely given their progress to date. It was however of notable mention considering the source.
    Personally I find it deeply disturbing that something as simple as a trip across the lake turns into something so complicated when these people are around. More disturbing yet is that it seems that we are being carefully pushed in directions that lead us back to the misguided followers of Qo and the demon-god Titalus. I cannot even fathom the plans of this entity but I do not wish to have any hand in them. The Great Goddess would not approve of one of her children assisting this upstart, and it is certainly not within the designs of one of my station to participate in such madness. I fear however, that once again my quest will be put on hold, so that the others may not grow bored without continuous combat and bloodshed.

Mordun 22: 12887

Last morning the red sun rose. Elena, the daughter of Tellzan, has been restored to life by the church of Daer-Koch after her unfortunate accident near the Temple of Bone. From what I hear Al-Rathis has been hard at work attacking random criminals on the streets. I have taken the time to begin reacquainting myself with the temple of Illustree after my long time absence. Tonight we will return to the town of Twin Shores. I fear that by now we will find that the undead will have found what they sought after, though in truth I'm not sure why I should care. Perhaps the dwarf is rubbing off on me.
    It has occurred to me to check into the matter of the strange temple in the town of Twin Shores. This temple appears to be dedicated to no particular deity but has writings in it that bear similar resemblance to those of Illustree. They are rather old as well, and since the goddess Illustree is only about 40 years old in this form it is quite curious. Could this be further evidence of the Goddess in ancient times, in unified form? I have inquired about it at the Temple of Illustree without success. They have, however, agreed to send a missionary with us to investigate by the name of Seridelias.
    This day we returned to Twin Shores and quickly made our way to the clearing surrounding the Hill of Bone. Apparently a group of adventurers had taken off for the temple not hours before and despite my best efforts to rationalize it away, I did feel some duty to attempt to keep them from dying needless deaths. We headed them off and after quite a bit of convincing managed to get them on their way. They were quite rude about our attempt to save their miserable lives as I recall. We probably should have let the human sods die hideous deaths but it was not to be.
    After this side trip we then teleported down into the temple and unfortunately into immediate combat. With a wail that sent half the party fleeing we were beset upon by a group of minor undead and some sort of ghost. The lesser minions were quickly slain and when pressed, the ghost pleaded for mercy. He named himself Maragant and claimed to be the spirit of a long dead paladin, wishing to cleanse his spirit of the evil he had done in life. Somehow raising the evil that sleeps here qualifies. I dislike him terribly and not simply because he attempted to steal my life force from me. He is a self acknowledged traitor to his cause and should spend all of eternity in his present state less his former god forgives him.
    What happened next is best forgotten except to say that we pressed forward and explored more sections of the dungeon. At last we came to a door in a little, non-descript corridor which was significantly more reinforced than the others we had bashed through to get this far. While Al hacked into it the rest of the party amused themselves nearby.
    After a bit, Tellzan decided to check on his progress. Moments later we heard a high pitched scream, a loud clunk as metal cut through metal and flesh, and he ran back out of the hallway shouting, "He's been possessed!" We heard the sound of little legs running away and after a moment of dumb disbelief the party chased after Al-Rathis.
    By all accounts, for I simply teleported well in front of the running dwarf, this chase quickly ended when Sasha turned into a black slime and grappled Al into slowing. They grappled like this for several moments, Al dealing significant wounds to Sasha in the process. She tried once again to slow him down with a reverse gravity spell while Elena and I readied to finish the fight if it got into the next room. As luck would have it Tellzan was able to block off the end of the corridor with a force spell just in time to keep him from entering it. Possessed Al then whipped around and furiously attacked the party members on the same side of the force wall as he. Sasha once again attempted to grapple with him, this time as a shambling mound, without success. In a final desperate attempt to stop Al, Tellzan used a second force bead to trap him. At this point the party had resolved to slay Al in hopes of bringing him back, but were unable to come up with a way to do so.
    Suddenly the possessed Al-Rathis' demeanor changed entirely and he began trying to negotiate with us. He claimed to be a priest of Qo who for some reason wished to slay Titalus. He did not volunteer the information, but we persuaded him to disclose the information on how to retrieve the soul gem necessary for this resurrection of Abarat.
    Once we had the information (I will not repeat the process here) Elena, Tellzan, Sasha and I retrieved the gem which was the first of the keys needed to resurrect The Hunter. The only problem involved in the process was when we retrieved the first two keys to open the door. It seems that a host of undead had been placed in slumber nearby as greeters for when the gem and staff were to be used. It took some work, but they were convinced in the end to continue their sleep.
    As I write this it occurs to me that since I have left the Holy Land I have come into contact with more types and varieties of things long dead than I truly care to remember. It was so much more simple in the temple. The only ancestors that one came into contact with were there for the express purpose of enlightening the younger, and bore no malice toward those they spoke to. Outside however, the spirits of those long dead seem mostly bent on causing harm to their children and their children's children. This is quite a curious phenomenon and I can only surmise at this time that it is because the vast majority if not all of those that I have come into contact with have been the ancestors of humans. These elder humans, who should have long ago been reincarnated, seem instead to have been cursed by the positive aspect of the Goddess, or Arden as it is much more common to say here, and remain in this state for eons. Truly it is a strange and bizarre fate.
    We once again arrived in the room where so many of our party have suffered grievously. Without ceremony the undead spirit who had been following us most of this time did the work it was intended for in this temple to release the staff we wished to obtain. The statue holding it sprang to life as we knew it would. For several moments we stared at the golem as it stared back. With a massive stone foot it took a first step forward. A coffin was crushed beneath it as it moved, releasing yet another spirit. With a mighty hand, the beast reached out and seemed to "pull" one last ghost from a nearby coffin.
    All at once combat broke out around the room. The corrupted Al-Rathis charged forward to attack directly as the two more minor undead moved with haste to keep Tellzan at bay. Sasha, after a moment's hesitation, moved around the room and into a position to give help to Al. Cawanan began a rain of arrows with limited success.
    Barely seconds into the fight Al was horribly wounded despite Sasha's best efforts, and most of the rest of the party had decided to get much closer to the statue for some reason. Al made a valiant attempt to disarm it of the staff but it simply picked the artifact up again.
    Once more Al forced the stone creature to drop the staff. This time Elena was ready. In an instant she grabbed the thing and teleported back 50 feet, dragging the staff away. Undeterred the creature pummeled Tellzan brutally, nearly killing him with savage blows. About that time the effects of the song I had the harp play earlier took effect, granting Tellzan the strength to continue to fight as well as giving Cawanan the extra help he needed to hit the beast. Sasha appeared from nowhere as usual, transformed into an ogre, and drug the staff away.
    Elena fired off a spell which evaporated the two undead, and I turned just in time to see Tellzan take a truly impressive punch to the chest, knocking him back and out of the fight. Sasha called forth the power of nature and summoned in a scorpion of unnatural size to fight in his place. The scorpion pulled the creature in as Al continued to hack on its legs. Cawanan and I ran over to Tellzan and healed him just in time. Finally with the golem destroyed and the staff safe, the fight was over.
    We returned to town in short order. Sasha left before we had even reached Twin Shores to do something she said was important. Elena took watch of Al as Tellzan and I went to see Seridelias. He unfortunately had no new information for us and so Cawanan and I returned to Bluewater to get help for Al-Rathis. There Dean Praedariot, the superior of Kail (the arrogant and ill tempered exorcist we had the misfortune of traveling with some time back) volunteered to do the exorcism. We talked to both the churches of Illustree and Arden and came up with a plan.
    Somehow I do not think that these churches ever talk, or have ever thought about the possible connection between the two before in these lands. Truly it will be a great mystery even to those who spend their lives in an attempt to unravel such things, but one who is studied should surely recognize the problem. It is as if the Arden of old and the Arden of new had never had a discontinuity to these people. Perhaps they simply do not wish there to have ever been one and so ignore the absence and the subtle changes of decades past.
    Perhaps I will end here for tonight as in the near future we will attempt to free Al-Rathis from this demon-spirit which has possessed him. I have a lot of thinking to do in the hours ahead as I attempt to put all the pieces of this plan together in my mind so that when the time itself is at hand mistakes will not be made. The consequences for failure could mean the doom of Al-Rathis.