7/28/2017 – Magister Rainard led the guards to Dungeon Hythloth, where they planned to find the demon Xaerhaonohr and renegotiate a deal. However, the demon appeared to have prepared a trap for them at the very entrance. When the guards attempted to enter, a strange magic went them north to the entrance of the demon temple, where before them they beheld the burning, crucified form of Rainard. The striking image of their leader suddenly spoke to them, begging for help before eventually laughing at them cruelly, and revealing itself to be the voice of Xaerhaonohr itself. The demon taunted the guards and said it was interested in making a deal with them, but that first he must have his fun. The guards entered the demon temple where they endured an exhausting battle against a variety of demonic hordes until finally Xaerhaonohr revaled himself. As the fires of battle simmered down, the demon offered his deal once again. The guards insisted on a renegotiation, demanding that the demon also release the souls of the paladins of the Mysterium Fidei if they accept. Xaerhaonohr was reluctant at first but eventually relented and agreed to the new terms. He explained that a kind of weapon capable of overwhelming Mondain’s magic would require time to forge, and that it would call the guards when it was ready and done.
7/20/2017 – As the guards were gathering in preparation for a journey to the foul demon to make the dreaded bargain, a royal scout appeared only moments before their departure to report that an undead legion had suddenly appeared at the steps of the Lycaeum. Magister Rainard, who was leading the guards at the time, immediately sent the guards to protect the revered institution of Britannian knowledge from the careless dead. Fighting off the fierce invasion, the guards soon found it was none other than the Knights of Mondain who were behind the attack, having appeared through a strange portal at the northwestern tip of Verity Isle. As the invader’s ranks were broken the knights disappeared back through their portal leaving only confusion in their wake. After the dust had settled, Magister Rainard explained that he learned from an injured librarian of the Lycaeum that the Knights had appeared in order to take a particular book. The book, the librarian claimed, was sought after by a mysterious stranger a week prior but the librarian refused to lend it out as the subject of the book was concerning lost artifacts of Mondain, and the librarian felt it inappropriate given the recent attacks. Rainard speculated that it was in fact an agent of the knights that had sought the book, but he would need to research just what was in the book that the knights could possibly want.
6/22/2017 – The guards gathered at Castle Blackthorn and met with Magister Rainard, who asked them questions about their investigation. The Magister’s decision then was to send the guards back to the Wayward Knight to bring him news of the demon’s proposal. They found the Wayward Knight in a troubled trance, and used the seance spell that, according to Rainard, would fuse the astral plane and the physical plane for a short time that would allow them to enter whatever nightmare the Wayward Knight was wrestling with. They found, inside that dark vision a number of barriers and guardians meant to keep the guards out of a particularly troubling memory, but as the guards broke down the walls they found themselves taking on the very role the Wayward Knight once took when he slaughtered the denizens of Tune. Many ghostly spectres and memories of victims emerged from burning homes to fight the guards, who were compelled to put them down. After the battle they found the Wayward Knight in his cabin. Though many of the guards were reluctant to kill the knight, he was nevertheless willing to give his life to the cause.
It was learned in their conversation that the demon was once trapped inside of an enchanted mace, which was held in the vaults of the Mysterium Fidei long ago. It was from this weapon that the ancient paladins summoned the demon for the purpose of defeating the Knights of Mondain. The guards spoke to Magister Rainard later, and proposed attempting to capture the demon inside of the mace after it granted them the power to slay the knights. Rainard was hesitant, and claimed that the act could have drastic consequences, but it was not outside the realm of possibility. He went on to say he would look into finding out where the mace might be found, and in the mean time the guards would need to meet with the demon to negotiate their deal, to hopefully include the freedom of the ancient paladin souls it held.
6/15/2017 – After the guards had gathered at Castle Blackthorn to see who had summoned them, a mysterious moongate suddenly appeared, leading to the Moonglow house of none other than the Collector, the avid rares collector who before had provided one of the tomb seals nearly a year ago. The Collector expressed his desire to complete his collection of replica armors as well as ensuring a safe Britannia in which to collect, and thus offered his assistance regarding the recent dealings with the demon. The Collector was aware that the guards were uneasy to sacrifice the noble Wayward Knight to the demon in exchange for weapons that could permanently kill the Knights of Mondain, but the Collector had reason to believe that the Wayward Knight was not everything that he seemed. He sent the guards into an ancient tomb which he had located in his dealings, and within the tomb the guards found the ghost of Lord Zachariah, who claimed to be the second-in-command to Lord Hightower of the Mysterium Fidei. Zachariah went on to say that the man inside the Wayward Knight’s armor was once a knight of the Mysterium Fidei, but he accepted the armor from Mondain for the power to defeat his foes. The armor in turn whispers dark purpose in his ear at all times, and no matter how hard he may try to do good, the influence of the armor will always drag him back to malevolent purpose.
Once the ghost had faded away, the Collector arrived at the scene and stated that it was quite possible that the Wayward Knight had a sincere desire to pursue virtue, but also equally possible that a malevolent purpose was festering beneath the armor using a sincere goodness to eventually deceive the guards. Some of the guards suggested that the Wayward Knight could possibly be saved, and considered ways to remove the armor from his body. The Collector asked the guards not to risk the welfare of Britannia for a single man, and urged them to take the deal offered by the demon.
It began only as a vague awareness, fluttering between a primitive thought and the drowsy slumber of eternal darkness. The world was but a voice, or the distant echo of one coming and going for no discernible reason. Then it became the blurry sensations of touch and feeling, each too indistinct, too ran together to make any sense. At last, the world took the form of light, and then: shapes, colors… a wall. A surface strolling by at a leisurely pace. Only it was not a wall, but a ceiling. And the shadows that stood at either side were priests in black robes.
There was another voice: his own. “What… this…”, it said, fragmented and disoriented. The ceiling stopped moving, and the priests began to do their work. Then, there was pain. Blinding, horrifying, unending pain. Searing hot pain as metal plates were fused with the skin. This tortuous agony persisted, accompanied by the constant clamor of blacksmith hammers clanging against metal and the fumes of the forges tormenting tongue and nose and strange flashes of light blinding him. Every sense was under assault for hours seemingly without end, until at last silence ensued and only the echos of pain remained. When consciousness returned, and time began to have meaning again, his eyes opened once more and he stepped off the platform to which he had before been bound. When he looked to his left, a solitary man stood watching him.
The man shook his head, and removed his hood. He was not Mondain. “No, my lord. I am but a servant. Our master is preoccupied with other matters. Prithee, accompany me.”
“I thought I was dead.”
“Thou hadst nearly died,” said the Priest of Mondain, “But our lord knows all, sees all. He would not let thee perish so easily.”
“Who am I?”
“Thou wast once a knight in the service of the traitor, Lord British. Thy name was Alastair. Now, thou art without name.”
“Who is that?” The two men came before another suit of armor, similar to the one the man formerly known as Alastair was wearing.
The Priest of Mondain regarded the unconscious, armored person. “He was once a notorious murderer. He terrorized the roads of near Britain challenging all. He gained such notoriety among the locals as a dreaded lord. He was born in the fires of our wars, verily, and he died by his code which was a code of chaos. Now, he will serve our master.”
They continued walking, coming upon another person resting in a suit of armor. “And who is this?” said the man formerly known as Alastair.
“Ah.” The Priest of Mondain inspected the armor closely for a moment, before speaking further. “A vagabond, little more. He was a wanderer, traveling alone across Sosaria somehow surviving against the incredible odds that stack against those without companions or armies. As such, he became particularly dangerous to all he came across, and gained the reputation of a monstrous man. Indeed, it was Lord British who burned down an entire forest just to find him. Now, it is Lord Mondain that summons him from those very flames to fight another day.”
As he finished they walked further, coming across yet another person in a suit of armor, but behind the visor was a blackened skull. Before the armored man could even ask, the Priest of Mondain began, “Thou art wondering about this one, yes? A baron. Former baron, I should say. He was given his title by the old king Wolfgang, and resented the traitorous British for presuming to rule over him. He plotted to assassinate the false king but when his plans were exposed, he and his entire family were burned at the stake for their righteous loyalties to Lord Mondain. We recovered his bones after the instability he left behind left his fiefdom exposed to invasion. He will serve again.”
Now they came across a smaller suit of armor. The man formerly known as Alastair was surprised to see such a smaller form, and even more surprised when he realized it took the form of a woman. “Many noble ladies of the realm have striven for the affection of our master. But Lord Mondain has spurned them all. This one, however…” said the Priest, tapping the armor softly, “..this one would not accept the rejection. So enamored was she with our master that she betrayed her own noble father by opening the gates of his castle in secret, that our master may conquer it. He allowed her to remain in his presence for her service, but before long he became irritated by her pleas for attention and eventually…. relieved her of her madness. Yet, recognizing the value of desperate love, he saved her bones for a greater cause.”
Finally, they encountered the final suit of armor. There seemed to be no one within it, and the man formerly known as Alastair was more inclined to ask what this was, rather than who it was, until the Priest preempted him.
“The answer is simply that I do not know. Verily, nobody knows, for Lord Mondain has never said who inhabits this armor. It is an old spirit, and someone we suspect to had been very close to our lord; someone for whom our master had a deep affection. But know this: whatever arises in this suit – it too shall serve.”
Having seen them all, the man formerly known as Alastair said, “Six suits of armor. Six knights of Mondain. What shall–“
“Seven,” the Priest interrupted him. “There are seven.”
“Where is the last suit of armor?”
“It is still unfinished. And our master has yet to find a suitable soul to wield it. Not just anyone can bear the plates. It must be one containing strong convictions. A warrior of great spiritual fortitude. It is the only way the powers of the armor can be withstood, and harnessed.”
The man formerly known as Alastair listened quietly, and then considered the Priest’s words for a moment before speaking.
“I know just the man.”
5/25/2017 – The guards arrived at the dungeon of Hythloth, per the Wayward Knight’s instruction, and met the knight himself. He warned that the demon was hidden within Hythloth’s depths, and that the dungeon’s halls were particularly dangerous that day. A hard battle would have to be fought to find the demon. The guards pushed into the dungeon, slaughtering the many deadly denizens and braving the diabolical traps set for them, until finding at the deepest level the demon called Xaerhaonohr. It seemed to know the reason the guards were there, and immediately sought to make a deal. The demon attempted at first to trick the guards the same way it tricked the paladins so long ago, by offering a weapon that would defeat the Knights of Mondain but not kill them, however his ruse was exposed. And so, the demon corrected its deal, offering weapons that would most assuredly kill the Knights, but in return he demanded that the guards would have to slay the Wayward Knight when it was all over. The guards were hesitant to accept such a deal, and after failing to convince them, the demon decided to allow them time to consider the bargain.
5/18/2017 – A week prior the royal investigators, on orders from Magister Rainard to employ a medium to investigate the clues found within the tomb beneath Trinsic, followed a forlorn trail of ghosts, faint but lingering still in Britannia. Though having difficulty remembering the past, they provided enough scant fragments of information to lead the investigators to the grave of a ghost that was said to know the location of the so-called “Wayward Knight”. When the investigators arrived at the grave to see if the ghost was present, they found the spirit of Sir Jonathan Westley, who seemed to be familiar with the knight. He led them through an unnatural rift beneath his grave to a curious cave wherein they found none other than the Wayward Knight himself, seemingly lost in some trance. Sir Westley explained that the Wayward Knight was suffering from inner torment, and only through another seance could they find him within his dream-like trance. When the investigators performed the seance they found themselves in a vision from the past. Struggling through a maze, they encountered the long-lost village of Tune, a town that had been destroyed in the Age of Darkness. After observing the peculiar horrors of the town they were encountered the Grave Digger, who opened the way for them to a solitary cabin. The man that emerged from the cabin, through apparently without his armor, was the Wayward Knight himself.
The Knight explained in a elaborate story how, during the Age of Darkness, Mondain used the power of the gem of immortality to forge seven invincible knights. These knights would go on to lead an unstoppable assault across Sosaria, besting Lord British’s greatest knights at every turn. For the Wayward Knight, there was a moment when he awoke from mind-altering evil of the cursed armor after annihilating the village of Tune. Troubled by his rediscovered conscience, he fled his evil brothers and returned to the Mysterium Fidei, an ancient order of paladins devoted to protecting artifacts and oddities. He informed them of the nature of the armor forged by Mondain and within their vaults they recovered a cursed object possessed by a demon said to make bargains. Demonic bargains, it is said, can sometimes twist the normal rules of reality, and in a desperate bid to defeat the knights the paladins of the Mysterium Fidei bargained with the demon for weapons to defeat their foes in exchange for their souls. The demon tricked them, however, promising weapons that could defeat the knights, but not kill them. In the end, the paladins were able to end the threat and lock the knights away in sealed tombs, and despite their attempts to resist the demon, it came nevertheless and slaughtered them all in various horrific massacres, while the Wayward Knight could only watch.
The Wayward Knight offered to bring the guards to the demon itself, that they may make a bargain themselves for the good of Britannia, and sent the guards on their way.
The field had once been lush and vibrant, covered from hill to hill, horizon to horizon with a rich array of wildlife, wild flowers, soft, emerald-hued grass and the cooling shade of old trees. Only a desolate battlefield now remained, charred from the fires of battle and littered with the bones of the dead. A few fragments of arms and armor remained; everything else having been scavenged. A lone knight on horseback charged across the scarred landscape searching in desperation as black clouds loomed in the distance, his armor gleaming with blood from the previous melee. Soon, the knight arrived at a hill, upon which a solitary tree stood, having survived the chaos, as well as another knight.
“Sir Alastair!” he growled, throwing down a letter. “What is the meaning of this?”
“Brother Nathaniel. Were my words not plain enough?” asked Alastair.
“This is treason! What art thou thinking old friend?!”
Alastair watched the dark clouds as they drifted on eastward. “I think this was coming for a long, long time.. ‘old friend’.”
Nathaniel cried out, “Thou hast sworn an oath to thy liege! Where is thy honor? Thou wouldst abandon thy king in his hour of need?!”
“He is NO KING, Nathaniel,” Alastair said sharply. “He does NOT BELONG here. His ways are outlandish, his method of ruling abnormal. He is NO true Sosarian King. Lord Mondain is the rightful heir to Akalabeth, regardless of his crimes.”
“‘Regardless of his crimes’, he says! Brother, listen to thyself! Mondain is a cold, cruel, evil man. He desires only POWER! Just look at the evil he has unleashed! See plainly the monstrosities he fills his legions with!”
Alastair growled impatiently, “Because he HAS to, fool! Because all of ye have been swindled by the fraud, British! Thou sayest well thy king’s propaganda, and surely many more shall say the same should a victorious Lord British be permitted to write the tomes of history, but I know it, thou knowest it, the truth is far more complex than what the bards of days to come shall be able to fit in rhyme and verse. Mondain is not the villain that Lord British has made him out to be. Thy king has lied.”
Nathaniel could only shake his head in disbelief. “Mondain has lied! Dost thou not see? Even now he fills thy mind with dark thoughts. I will not allow thee to fall into his hands!”
Alastair pulled on his helm. “Thou shalt have to vanquish me, brother, to see that done.”
The knight of Lord British pulled on his own helm and couched his lance. “I had hoped it would not come to this, brother. This is foolish! Thou art no match for me.”
Alastair replied coolly, “We shall see.”
Each knight charged the other, lances couched and shields held forth. Despite riding uphill Sir Nathaniel was a force to be reckoned with, one of the most accomplished knights in Akalabeth, whereas Alastair, despite his downhill advantage, was considered by many a lesser knight in strength and constitution. The two knights clashed, each lance striking the other. Alastair’s lance exploded against the force of Nathaniel’s shield; the impact sent him falling from his steed.
“Yield, Sir Alastair!” called out Nathaniel.
Sir Alastair stood, drew his sword and called back, “I do not yield!”
As he charged once more, Sir Nathaniel muttered under his breath, “Do not make me do this, my friend,” and aimed his lance for Sir Alastair. The ground trembled beneath the powerful hooves of Nathaniel’s horse as he came charging upon his once loyal friend and Sir Alastair, unmoved by the deadly odds against him, stubborn to all logic and reason and instinct, remained rooted to the ground only by the strange principles which now guided him. As the unstoppable juggernaut that was Sir Nathaniel came perilously near, Sir Alastair raised his shield and prepared to swing his sword…
When the dust had settled Sir Nathaniel, dismounted from his horse, approached the failing body of Sir Alastair. A large fragment of lance jutted from his chest as Sir Alastair struggled to breath. Streams of blood flowed from wound and mouth. Sir Nathaniel knelt beside the dying man and removed Sir Alastair’s helm, seeing his still fearless, vengeful expression.
“Brother, why did it have to come to this…”
Sir Alastair gave no reply, for the serious wounds with which he now struggled, but only looked upon Sir Nathaniel with anger and hatred. Tears welled up in the eyes of both knights and Sir Nathaniel wept.
“Farewell old friend. It is better this way.”
“Nathaniel. Why do we fight?”
Two knights watched from a hill overlooking a battle. Crimson-hued clouds in the evening sky cast an ominous shade over the land. Shouts and the clash of steel rang from the battle raging in the distance as a kind of reflective silence seemed to separate them from that brutal chaos. They stood atop a mass of bodies from an earlier battle.
“For justice, brother Alastair. For the good. For the light.”
Suddenly a horn blared loudly somewhere in the battle, accompanying with it the stamping of horses and warcries of men as an entire battalion of mounted knights came crashing into the ranks of Mondain’s monstrous legion. The routed soldiers were slaughtered mercilessly as they attempted to flee from Lord British’s armies.
“Do we?” asked Alastair. “All of this bloodshed, for a man that is not even a Sosarian.”
“He is our King, brother,” replied Nathaniel.
“Lord Wolfgang was our king,” Alastair fired back.
“Lord Wolfgang is dead, murdered by the traitor. How many have perished for his crimes? And how many more will perish?”
Just as Nathaniel finished speaking, a loud crash resounded throughout the land as a massive projectile hurled from the dark legion’s camp landed midst the battling armies. It was followed by woeful wailing. As the madness seemed to subside to regular sounds of battle, Alastair spoke again.
“How many *must* perish, brother? I sense the world is changing, and not for the better. Conflict is what drives us; it is what dwells in our hearts. Conflict is the engine of our evolution. Without it, what are we? What am I? What art thou?” Alastair gestured widely to the battle playing out before them. “If Lord British has his way, all conflict will come to an end, and the kingdom will march limply to its annihilation.”
Nathaniel frowned. “Why worry, Alastair? Conflict is inevitable. It is peace that is the elusive and fleeting moment in time. Besides…” Nathaniel turned to Alastair, looking him up and down with a grin. “Were we to cross swords, thou wouldst surely be trounced. Without conflict, what art thou indeed!”
Alastair looked to his friend as Nathaniel returned his gaze to the battle in their moment of rest.
“Perhaps so, brother.”
4/27/2017 – The guards launched their final assault on the undead forces still holding Paladin Isle. It was a brutal fight but a short one, and the Knights of Mondain strangely were nowhere to be seen. Just when the guards had finished their fighting, a paladin arrived to deliver news to Commander Forthwin and the guard that an undead presence had been scouted on Barrier Isle. The guards raced to the isle and found a gathering of powerful undead monstrosities that seemed to be guarding some kind of work site. Fresh dirt was piled high near a bundle of rocks and stones that seemed to be blocking a passageway. Several unearthed remains were scattered around the work site that came alive as the Commander Forthwin disturbed the rocks. The remains of ancient paladins rose up and fight the guards as if guarding the site, but once they were vanquished the guards entered into what they learned was an ancient crypt of the Mysterium Fidei, finding several items of interests: murals depicting the original defeat of the Knights of Mondain, an empty tomb, several books scattered about, and a large pile of bones of ancient paladins slain long ago.