The Mercenary Queen

Something Sinister This Way Comes Part 2 & 3

(GM: Sorry about the delay in posting the adventure log. Things got a little … crazy. I hope this post makes sense.)

And Now The Story Continues…

Aloranna moves toward the demon, “First things first, we have to let Ed make his deal with the Devil, so to speak. Then we’ll move out from here and see what we can find out.”

“Well, okay then. Ya don’t have to tell me twice.” as Aislynn heads back towards the throne room to throw the amulet back in. As she is coming back she asks, “Hey Ed, how long is this gonna take? The underbelly of a castle is not really where I would like to be. I’d rather be higher up to see where they are keeping their treasure.”

“I don’t mind shiz popping up everywhere around, I’ll come along since I’m sure gun boy Bran may need someone to heal him all the time, bullet ricochets and all, besides I’m curious how this all ends.” Sati says.

Salaius groans, "That was someone’s funny idea of making us look like an official kingdom of sorts. I suppose it might be enjoyable reading to someone like a scribe, but other than that, it’s just a detailed account of everything we did, said, and farted. I seriously doubt that Marrek enchanted it to be a part of the traps he set against intruders.

Aloranna frowns, “He didn’t set his traps against intruders coming into the place. He set them against them getting out.”

Ed shrugs his shoulders, frowning at the demon, “depends. You don’t want to rush something like this because one miss spoken word could screw you for eternity.”

“Well okay…I guess we wait.” Under her breathe she mumbles, “I hate waiting.”
“Oh-oh-oh I wanna read that book now, maybe I can find out how much repentance you need to do still Salaius, though Ed please be sure not to screw up, I don’t need to exorcise anyone here.”

Ed is busy looking around the chamber while everyone else is talking. He shifts his attention every so often to the circle where the demon lays stunned. After a few minutes of examination, he nods to himself, walks over to where the demon lays and squats down beside him.

“Just out of curiosity, what convinced you that making a deal with this Marrek guy was a good idea?” Ed asks, looking down at the growing welt where the cannon ball hit the demon. “I mean, it’s obvious you are quite displeased to be linked to this place and would like to remedy that situation pronto, correct? It is also very obvious you are rather formidable when it comes to arcane knowledge and power, correct?” A small grin plays itself across his handsome features as he folds his hands together, “I’m guessing Marrek was either really powerful or a real smooth talker…”

“You have a point to this questioning?” The Demon groans.

“A point?” Ed chuckles, and then grows serious, “I always have a point.” He motions to the circle, “The circle is lined with Seraphinite, which is not only rare, but nearly indestructible. I don’t have any dragons in my back pocket, and it would take a pretty old one to do the trick, nor do I have an angel, and I don’t think you really want to have one of them called in right now. However, in this situation, I believe we could help each other. What if I told you my friends and I could release you from your bondage to this place once and for all? Would that be of interest to you?”

The demon lifts his head and glares at Ed, “If you could free me from this place, I think you would have already done it.”

Ed shakes his head, “I didn’t make the circle, and as I just got here, I really haven’t had all the much time to understand everything that went into making it, but I think you do. I think I can find the anchor points. There are six in total. The star crafted for the summoning circle is a hexagram, not a pentagram which is used for protection. There’s a matrix of power intermixed in the runes, but I figure that is part of the sustaining mechanism for the circle and not an anchor.” Ed smiles, giving a little shrug of his shoulders, “What if I told you that the only thing asked of you for your release would be the spell knowledge you posses? I’m not talking about the power needed to cast the spells but the actual knowledge of the spells themselves. I’m sure you’ve heard the common phrase, ‘Give a man a fish and he’ll be hungry again; teach a man to fish and he’ll never go hungry again.’ That’s what is being asked here, teach a man this knowledge and he’ll never need to call upon you to drain your power for him.”

“Tempting proposal, but I sense there’s more to your request than you let on, mage,” The Demon shifts, slowly picking himself up off the ground, eyes still fixed on Ed, “What do you really want?”

“That is what I really want. I don’t want or need your power, just the knowledge,” Ed raises to his feet and holds his hands out in a placating gesture. “It boils down to the simple fact you have knowledge and I seek knowledge; you are effectively trapped and will always have to return here because of this circle and I’d rather send you home so you won’t have to return to this plane again as someone’s ‘puppet on a string.’ Seeing as this predicament puts us into a mutually beneficial place, I’d much rather do this the easy way.” Ed waits a moment while the Demon appears to consider the idea, “The added bonus for me is that if I don’t gain this knowledge from you, I will still get it from others over time. You, on the other hand, would still be trapped by this circle, forever compelled to return here when it’s activated. Eternal slavery because some charlatan tricked you into using your power to help create it doesn’t sound like a desirable situation to me. Maybe I’m wrong but the way I see it, it comes down to eternal slavery and bondage to a circle or freedom to stay in your own realm and never return to this place. Freely shared knowledge rather than knowledge taken by force. Sounds like there should be no need to consider what the obvious choice is.”
“You’re not strong enough to wrestle me for knowledge,” the Demon answers with a sinister smile. “I would eat your soul if you tried it.”

“Perhaps,” Ed shrugs. “but I’m not going to argue with you as that’s not the point. The point is you can’t go looking for the anchors but I can. You can’t set yourself free whereas I can help you with that.” He glances at nothing, considering his own words, then looks back at the demon, “It’s a win-win situation for both of us.”

“I suppose it is.” The Demon answers.

Ed smiles a moment, then grows serious, “But, there is one more thing to keep in mind if you choose to take this deal. You will need to guarantee your side of the bargain and the only guarantee I will accept is the disclosure of your True Name to me, and me alone. On my honor as a mage, the Name will never be shared nor will it need to be used unless you back out of your deal or otherwise try to renege, cheat or go around the intention laid out by our contract. No Name, no Guarantee, NO DEAL! Are we clear?”

The demon glowers, “I’ve known too many mages to accept your honor as a mage.” He taps his chin with one clawed finger and seems to consider. “I will make a counter proposal. I will give you my name, and you will give me yours. That way if you betray me, I will have recompense with you. That way we are both powerless against one another. I will not use this knowledge against you as you will not use it against me.”

Ed listens to the demon finish its “counter proposal.” Without a smile and with a heavy sigh of pity for the demon, he looks it in the eye and says, “enjoy your eternity bound to the circle.” He turns without a backward glance and calls out to the group, “Pack it in folks. The anchors stay intact and right where they are. This thing has decided to take the hard road so we will be leaving it here to fume and curse for the rest of it’s existence.”

Aloranna moves up to Ed and whisper’s, “Are you sure about this? He might just need to sit and stew, but remember what we’re here for. If he can provide us the way to get those people out then it might be worth using that thing I gave you years ago. You have the you-know-what still, right?”

Ed gives Aloranna a look similar to “I know something you don’t” and says to her, “of course I have it.” He pats one of his pockets and continues, “but if big ugly can come to his senses we won’t need to use it. What good is playing your highest card when the lowest will still score you points? Trust me!”

The Demon scowls and glares at Ed and Aloranna, “all right. I’ll give you my name. What have I got to lose anyway? I’m already a prisoner here.”

Ed looks towards Aloranna and gives her an “I told you so” type of grin before immediately schooling his features into a somber expression. He turns back towards the demon and says, “I don’t know how many mages you may have dealt with in the past but you’ll soon learn to realize that I am not like any you’ve come across before. When I give my word, to no matter what kind of entity, I will keep it. When I give it to some, it’s easier, when I give it to others, I call it a necessary tool. Now, I’m sure you’re done with the idle chit-chat so let’s get down to business.”

Bran grinning, “I’ll take that bet.” then hands Sati the tomb that he’s been just dumbly holding on to then asks out loud. “So any chance the folks upstairs didn’t hear all of our ruckus down here?”

Aislynn moves quietly over to Ed and whispers with an evil grin, “They are placing bets on you. I’ll pay you 10 gp if you make it hurt.”

For a time Ed and the Demon sit at the circle staring at one another, occasionally glancing at the circle in which the demon sits then looking back at one another. No words are spoken between them, but it is apparent something is going on between them. Once in the conversation a cool look is cast in the direction of Sati and Bran, but whatever might have been passing between Ed and the Demon is still unknown to anyone. Finally, Ed stands up and nods, offering his hand to the demon, who takes it and shakes his hand, then sits down in the circle and folds his arms.

Ed looks at the group with a mischievous smirk, “alright people, we’ve got some anchors to destroy and some chops to bust. Anyone who’s in, let’s get to it!”

“I’m In!” shouts Bran
“Cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war! I mean um… I’m in.” Looking slyly at Bran whispers “Think we need to keep an eye on your woman friend there, she might let loose our bet.”

The demon looks at the group with a cruel, sinister smile, “Looks like this will be more interesting than I thought.” He shifts his gaze back to Ed, “Best be about it, mage. I feel something sinister coming this way.”

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Mudwyrm

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