Archive for » October, 2011 «

Bloodflame Successor (Demascatus, D&D 4e, Narrative)

Introduction

This is a was a rewrite of part of a character history for a D&D 4E game that I did for a player at our table, neurologist the 16-year-old son of one of the other players. I originally did a rewrite for when he wanted to intertwine his character’s beginning history with my characters’. Since I rewrote his original history, patient and because I similarly felt inspired with what he wrote, I rewrote and cleaned this up for him as well. If you are looking to understand a bit of what is going on then you may want to read his original history too to help give you a frame of reference.

This writing covers two related writings which will only really make sense if you played the Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. This first narrative is narrating my friend’s character, Demascatus – a male tielfling warlock dedicated to the Raven Queen – taking on the Paragon Path of Turathi Highborn. The second narrative goes over what his character did with about a year of in-game time that we had off as a part of making that transition into the paragon path. Both of these re-writes took me about 3 hard-writing days to complete and are responsible for me looking into becoming a writer – near 9,500 words in 3 days! =O The quality has a lot to be desired, of course – too much telling and not showing, but we all have to start somewhere. =)

Narrative – Turathi Highborn

Battle after battle filled with screams, flame, and terror blurred together as the years passed by dotted by calm moments of training, meditation, prayer and service to the Blood Knights. It seemed like yesterday that he had  just arrived at the Citadel with Zerda and began his training as a boy, to graduate the next day as a full-fledged wielder of the Sacred Bloodfire in service to the Raven Queen. Her finding him was his the beginning of his freedom. Freedom from his personal demons, those angry and otherworldly voices that always called for blood, flesh, and flame. They have been quiet for a very long time, so long that he almost had forgotten what they sounded like, which, in some way, unsettled Demascatus. They were quiet so they must be planning something.

As he trained and gained in power and control over the Sacred Bloodfire. He advanced at a steady rate in the Order and, of course, held a special place in the Order, but his progress seemed to just stop. His ability to advance and to push himself further just reached a wall. This invisible wall where he knew that there was more on the other side. He could feel it. He could sense it. He knew that it was there and that there was more he was capable of. Something was holding him back. Something was keeping him from accessing that power and potential.

Demascatus spent some time talking with other warlocks of his order as well as his mentors, but their well-meaning and experienced advice did not help. Frustration set in and he began to feel alone and a little isolated again. He could not find someone that could really understand his block and his frustration, not even Tszeez’dar. Demascatus was unsure where to go next. He could feel the excess Bloodfire was burning inside him and it was beginning to roil and churn, yearning to get out, but he had no way of getting to it. No way to set it free. This is when he heard it again. The faint dark whispers in darkest and deepest recesses of his mind. It was faintly audible to him, but he knew it was them… his demons. This frustrated Demascatus a little for they had been gone for so long, and he hoped that he had broken their control or affect on him, but it looks like they may have found a way back.

Demascatus was frustrated so he went to Zerda and to the Blood Matron to let them know that he was going to be going away for a while, that he had some ‘personal demons’ to wrestle with. Because they knew Demascatus and his life they understood and they wished him well and a safe return. He left shortly thereafter to seek solitude and quietness so he could concentrate and call forth the voices, to summon his personal demons. They had something to say and it seemed that they currently held all the cards.

He took a ride through his past. He took that same path Zerda took him while taking him to the Citadel so many years ago. He was surprised to count up how long ago that really was and how long they have been silent. He felt hesitant about going back to the darkness, back to where the voices mentored him and were present every moment of every long, dark, and hungry day. Perhaps they have grown in power like he has over the years. Perhaps they would win and fulfill their desires to consume and possess him this time. These thoughts bounced around his head, but he was still confident in his abilities. He was sure that he could control them again as he had controlled them before. The closer he came to his ‘home’ of the past, the more he expected that with all of the quiet and solitude that the demons would return, but they did not, and that bothered him.

This bothered him for the rest of his several week trip back to his past. When he arrived at his place of darkness he was flooded with a familiar and unsettlingly comfortable feeling. Part of this comfortable feeling annoyed him, especially after having been used to the camaraderie and friendship of being a Blood Knight for so long. He still found this place, this darkness, strangely comforting. Even with these feelings settling in him, the voices did not return, which began to annoy and worry him at the same time. He wondered what is their game now? What trump cards were they carrying? No matter what their message or how good their hand was, Demascatus was determined to beat them at their game. He was one of the few wielders of the Sacred Bloodfire. If he could wield and handle that surely he could handle a few angry demon voices in his head that may have grown in power as he has grown during the intervening years.

After he put together his camp and arranged his things for the inevitable onslaught of the voices, he sat and meditated, which after closing his mind to them for so many years, felt strange and potentially self-defeating. As soon as he opened his mind and invited them forth they were loud and present like they had never missed a beat… like they had never been gone. Their message has changed little in all these years… death, violence, flame, and practice, but this time their words were more about the flame, fire, and burning…. They chastised him and cursed the very ground that he walked upon, they condemned his soul to the deepest and darkest recesses of eternity for suppressing them for so long. Their words were loud and they shuttered his body as if there was only one setting on the gate that kept them back and now the flood gates were fully open and they were livid at their absence and he could feel that to his very trembling core.

All these years of training to control them was put to good use after the first few moments of rage and anger they had unleashed into him. It caught him by surprise how powerful and present it they were. He could almost see outlines of creatures out of his peripheral, as if they were trying to manifest and attack him directly, but he slowly decreased the flow of the power that they were trying to unleash, and after a few moments he had their rage under control and they were not happy about it. They roiled in anger at him about all of the lost time, for what seemed like an eternity, and then they just raged about the flame and fire. They chastised him in no kind terms that so much time has been lost and that he is so far behind…. They cursed and condemned him in even more angry terms. Then they just screamed about FIRE!!!

Demascatus now had an advantage that he did not have before, he was able to have a little more control over the “conversation” and was able to coax some direct answers from his direct questions and every time he managed to do so they roiled in anger. He could feel their flames and dark energies trying to assault his mind and body during these moments, but he held fast. He was able to get them to teach him abilities and powers more directly and quickly. With their lessons he was able to manipulate the Sacred Bloodfire in ways he was not able to before and this made him happy, and more confident.

After each long daily session was Demascatus was drenched in sweat and hungry, but this time, he had plenty of food around, and he was able to mute the voices enough that they did not disturb his sleep too much either. He was in control now and he stopped when he was ready. Even in his dreams they were speaking to him and mentoring him. Revelations came in the dark dreaming visions of demons, flame, and death. These visions made his mornings an almost frantic rush to practice what revelations and thoughts came to him so he would not lose them as sleepiness wore off. He was always very, very hungry in the morning, almost as if he had not even eaten the night before. Mornings were a busy and fulfilling time for this reason and since he was readying himself for a new day with his “demon” mentors.

Several weeks passed with this daily ritual. He had eaten what food he had quickly and had to spend some time hunting for food and even that was not enough for him. He lost some weight during this, but this was not a process that he was unfamiliar with. There came a moment when the voice stopped talking about the fire.. stopped talking about the flame and training and continued with their talk of killing, death, and blood. His training was done it seemed, or perhaps they were giving him the silent treatment. He spent some time meditating following this change to even himself out and to renew the barriers he had put into place to hold back the voices, these demons in his head, so he could once again enjoy the quiet and peace of solitude.

Demascatus found  his ride back to the Citadel filled with a peace and satisfaction. He had proven to himself that he had control over them. They had grown in power, but so had he, and he still was able to control them… to not allow them to consume or control him. He was their master now, Damascátus thought to himself, as he chuckled at the mere thought.  He just enjoyed the ride back in a way that he had not enjoyed solitary rides before. He enjoyed the weather, the trees, and the birds. He found it quite relaxing to have this moment alone, which is something that he had not felt in…. well, it is not something that he has really ever felt in his life. Demascatus was not quite sure what that meant or even what to do with that. Being content in solitude like this was unsettling to him. He had never really felt this before. Perhaps this is something that he will have to get used to. Such a problem to have…

The ride back to the citadel passed quickly. He even stopped off by the shrine where he first met Zerda and where she took him under her wings and brought him to the Raven Queen. He could do naught but smile, this was one of the best moments in his life. The moment where freedom and family began. Once he returned to the Citadel he checked in with his mentors and their Blood Matron and he was able to train with them once again. A week or two later and he was now a properly initiated wielder of the Sacred Bloodfire of the Raven Queen.

Narrative – Bloodflame Successor

Shared Shackles

A few weeks following his return from campaigning he was brought a young tiefling of about 12 years of age. Demascatus looked over the young tiefling and she bore that same lonely, tired, and desparate look that he did all those years ago, which is probably why she was brought to him, because he knew exactly what she was going through. The girl was very skittish and not very talkative, but Demascatus knew just what to do. As he stood there he could feel his Bloodfire roil in anger and sadness at her presence. He could almost hear their whispers – those dark and rage filled whispers that he knew all to well, whispering in her thoughts and dreams, tormenting her every sleepless day. He was saddened that another would have to experience them and their horrid words and deeds, and the thing that they would require her to do in order to control them and obtain even a distorted sense of normalcy.

He asked the girl her name. She squeeked out “Tyrell.. Do you know why I’m scared?” Demascatus was slightly startled by such a direct question from her. Yes, he could feel that he knew exactly what was scaring her, but was there something about him that brought her out of her fear enough to talk. Demascatus quickly told her of his own problem – the demons – and the girl became excited for that’s exactly what she had been experiencing. She never expected that anyone would really understand, or perhaps she was going mad. She did not want to be burned as a witch or to be responsible for unleashing horrors upon the mortal realms.

Demascatus, knowing the hell that she was going through, took Tyrell in as his own daughter, to train her as a warlock and potential wielder of the Sacred Blood Fire of the Raven Queen, so that one day she could be powerful enough to control her demons too, and become a great asset to the Raven Queen.

Zerda was a little anxious at first to let this new girl stay with them, but with some convincing Zerda allowed her to stay. Zerda understood what being able to help someone who is going through what he had would mean to him. He would be the only person who would be able to understand or to really relate to what she was going through. He was truly the only person who could help her.

Tyrell wasn’t very open to talking to people yet, and she only really talked to Demascatus, who she called Demy, because he alone truly understood the problem she was facing – the angry and blood filled voices that spoke to her. Demascatus went straight  to helping Tyrell to acknowledge the demons and to try to teach her that they did not have control over her – that she really did have power over them and that they truly do fear her and need her. These facts were hard for her to truly accept for she feared them and their dark and evil whisperings which have tormented her for so long, just as his demons tormented him so long ago.

Demascatus was surprised by the will of this little girl. In the matter of a few days of shared exercises she was able to, at times, control the demons to the point where she could call them forth and banish them from her thoughts, but this was extremely taxing on her. Her body and mind was still young and needed hardening, practice, but above all of that she needed faith. Faith in herself and faith in the Blood Queen for she has been given the gift to wield the Bloodfire and their Queen does not choose its wielders lightly. Demascatus asked Tyrell how she was able to banish and call them forth so quickly and she replied, “I told them if they do not obey me then you will destroy them. You would destroy them wouldn’t you Demy?”

At first, Demascatus was confused by the question. He hadn’t really considered being able to do something like that, but he realized that if he could control his own demons then perhaps he could do likewise for her as well. After thinking about it, he told her “Of course Tyrell. Blood Queen willing – I would crush them with the power she has given to me. I do think, however,  that the voices that we share are part of our gift to wield the Bloodfire. These ‘demons’ are our trainers, tormenters, challengers, friends and our enemies all at once. They want us to succeed, but they also want to consume our very souls. It is our journey in conquering them that has us earn the privilege, power, and strength to wield the Bloodfire which can burn the demons of Orcus and other foul lords that challenge the worlds. We bear a burden that others do not have the strength to. The Blood Queen sees this strength to survive and persevere in you and has chosen you as she has chosen me. For me to battle your demons for you is to deny you your legacy as a wielder of the Bloodfire. The best I can do for you, my child, is to train you and prepare you as best as I can for their tricks and vile words.”  Demascatus sighed in sadness after finishing saying this. He did not like saying those words to her for it means a life of struggle and fear. He would not wish this on anyone, but he would also not give it up for anything for the demons bring him to power to wield the Bloodfire and to serve the Blood Queen in a very special way.

The thought and feeling just clicked inside of him. He had enough of them. Now that he had Tyrella to train his “demons” needed to go. He had suffered their existence for far too long. Even though now he had them under control he could still feel them testing and raging against the stout walls he had set up in his mind so that he may live a “normal” life. It was time for him to confront them for once and for all so that he can show Tyrella that there really can be an end to it once we are strong enough. The time had come. The time had come to be free of the demons.

Breaking the Infernal Shackles

Later that night after Tyrell and Tszeez’dar had gone to bed Demascatus told Zerda he would hopefully be back by morning for he had some things to take care of. Demascatus headed out of the Citadel to a secluded spot he had found along the cliffs around the citadel. He called forth the demons and they immediate flooded back into his mind as if they had never been gone. Their vile babblings and whisperings were as strong and angry as ever and they were eager to try to tear him back down. They raged at his weakness and uselessness to the Raven Queen. They, on promises of blood and mangled bodies, claimed their rightful place as his true masters. They whispered powerful words filled with doubt to Demascatus – that he was just an expendable pawn to the Blood Queen and that his existence did not matter to anyone.

Feeling this all too familiar emotional attack flooding into his consciousness he quickly turned their verbal and psychological assault aside and told them that he now realized how much power he really had over them. He could destroy them all right now if he truly wanted to so they had better shut-up and listen well. The demons suddenly became even more angry than they normally were for his insolence and arrogance, but he could now for the first time feel their fear. This was the first time that he really felt fear from them. Before he only felt anger, rage and a merciless confidence. They knew he had discovered the power they had given him. Demascatus told the demons that they were to obey his every command or be destroyed. Demascatus told the now livid demons they had a choice. They could obey him from this point forth or be excised from his enchained body and to be destroyed forever. Many of the demons quickly and angrily bowed, cursing in respect to Demascatus’ new found will, but in the same instant a few of the smaller and less intelligent demons began an all out assault to try and break down his walls before he could be even more full of his power. This is exactly what Demascatus had expected. He quickly vaporized these demons and his walls were intact standing strong and defiant.

The largest demons did not agree to obey for they knew that they were more powerful than any mere mortal. They came forward to play his game and to beat him at it once and for all – to make his mortal shell their meat puppet from which they could wreak havoc upon the material world. They came forward and requested to fight for final control and to prove who was truly more powerful and the true masters of his being. Demascatus thought that the demons of this rank would have fled out of fear of their destruction and the power that he now realized that he had over them. Hoping that they would just return to the vile place from whence they came, and to scorn him for his insubordination, but they did not, as he expected they would not.

Demascatus accepted their challenge and engaged these larger demons, and they were stronger than he really expected they would be. They truly were holding back their full power and he was getting their full onslaught with nothing being held back. This fight lasted for hours and hours long into the night, for the other smaller and fearful demons were healing and assisting the bigger demons indirectly so Demascatus couldn’t detect their game. When Demascatus was finally finished with them he was standing over all of the bodies of the ephemeral demons that hadn’t bowed before him. Following this final blow the rest of the demons just faded into a rage fill quietness the likes of which he had never felt before. He felt like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He felt a freedom – a true freedom from the demons that had plagued his consciousness for so many years. Perhaps he truly had won this time and this was truly the end of them – the dark and bloody whispers which had been so long a part of his life. He wondered if he would miss them and the struggle they brought since they were so much a part of his identity, but he quickly dismissed this thought for now. For now, he relished the thought of this new found quiet and freedom.

By the time he returned to the Citadel it was early morning and a few Blood Knights who were engaging in a sunrise practice saw him return covered in sweat and looking weak with fatigue. Demascatus collapsed half way back to his home from the sheer exhaustion of his combat with the “demons” and his return to the Citadel. When he finally awoke there were many people standing over him. He recognized the room as the infirmary he had been taken to for his burns from the immolith. Standing there was Zerda, Tyrell, Tszeez’dar, Tarrana, the kids and many of his brothers and sisters at arms. Demascatus tried to sit up, but found that he did not have the energy to do much more then rest lying down. His head was pounding, but his mind was strangely quiet. He also felt a drain on him different than he had before and he felt that he was being watched, not in an way that he felt threatened, but something else was also watching over him.

Late at night when he was all alone with only his thoughts and the quite of the night a small creature appeared at the foot of his bed. A small wretched demonic thing with small needly fangs, a stinger on its segmented tail, and respect filled and power filled eyes. Demascatus knew instantly that this was what he felt was watching over him. It was an imp and Demascatus knew that it was of the same breed of “demon” as the those that he fought for his freedom from – the ones that plagued him for so long and for so much of his life, and for the first time he was able to see one in the flesh. This simultaneously enraged him, scared him, and excited him.

Feeling Demascatus’ mixed and powerful emotions the imp involuntarily winced and moved its arms up to protect itself, but it quickly stopped and it bared an angry fang. Thinking better of being cronfrontational the imp pulled its demeanor into what could be best described as a form of deignful respect. It bowed before Demascatus and said in a creepy and multilayered voice “You, are now our master and we serve you. We are ‘The Ravage’ and are your “voices” incarnate. You have defeated us, whose only desire was to torment you, break you, train you, to prepare you to wreak havoc on the world. You are our superior and we are your reward for your victory over us so all will know that you have defeated us.” Demascatus did not know whether to trust it or not, after all it was a demon(s), but deep inside he could feel that in some way he could trust it, but time would tell just how much trust he could have in this thing. He slept that night with the imp watching over him… silently and invisibly.

Echoes of the Past

After a few days of rest and some healing Demascatus was ready to return to continue training Tyrell. He summoned his family, friends and other significant Blood Knight mentors and he told them what had happened out there that night – that he had conquered and destroyed the demons that had plagued him all these years. He also said that he thought that this was the end of them. Then he introduced them to his new “companion” – the imp who, as he has been told, is his nebulous reward for defeating his demons. He also explained for certain that Tyrell is like he, and she will be haunted with the voices, exhaustion, and fear that he has lived with his whole life. They all nodded in acknowledgement and their eyes reflected pity and concern for the young girl, but also a respect for the journey that she would have to endure, and the inevitable and valuable service that she will provide for the Blood Queen and their battles against demons and Orcus.

Tyrell became excited upon hearing that Demascatus has defeated his demons once and for all, and that it was possible for it all to end. Now, for her, there was a proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. If Demascutus could beat his demons then so she could beat her demons one day as well. The thought of being able to beat her “demons” made her smile. Seeing a smile on Tyrell’s face was a nice change for Demascatus to see, since she rarely smiled due to the heavy and fearful burden that she has born for so long.

Demascatus conferred with Zerda and other Blood Knights and he decided that he was going to take Tyrell to the place where he first learned to control his demons – in the darkness and solitude of that cave where he trained and learned so long ago. Training there worked for him so it should, hopefully, work for her as well, especially now that she has a mentor who has experienced it, and can guide her.

They packed up small wagon and they made the long trek back to where it all began. He spent the several week journey teaching her the scripture and parables of the Raven Queen just as Zerda had done for him so long ago. He had her doing meditation exercises, and he held her when the nightmares came and overwhelmed her into sobbing tears. He could sort of hear the faint echoes of their angry whisperings and vile words, but he could never really make out what they were saying. His imp was quiet and seemed a bit ill at ease whenever the girl was around, which was all of the time. The imp did not care for her presence, but it tried to not let it on that it felt that way. They had plenty of food and supplies for a few months of training, hoping that they could get the basics done in that time, otherwise, they would have to hunt for food, which was not an idea that Demascatus liked. He had enough of that from his lonely childhood.

As they came closer to the forest area where the cave was, he remembered the feelings like echoes of a distant past – the pain, the fear, the weakness, the isolation, the hunger. It has not been that long ago – a year since he was here last, but it seemed so far. The connection being severed has done wonders to separate his psyche from the damage and stress that all of those years had inflicted on him. The demons are still with him but he is now the master and they are now his tool to use whenever he pleases, at least that was how he was hoping it really was.

As they finally arrived, all 3 of them were quiet from the long few weeks of travel. They jumped out of the wagon, stretched their legs, looked around a bit, and prepared to set their camp and training area up. Doings so took the rest of the afternoon and into the early night. They turned in early so they could begin her training early in the morning refreshed from a full night of sleep. With ‘The Ravage’ to watch over them while they slept they had, hopefully, very little to worry about. They both slept strangely well and undisturbed. They were both a little unsettled by this fact – well rested, but quiet and unsettled. Neither really knew what was to come once they started this journey.

Familiar Training

The morning started with a healthy breakfast, a little stretching, some scripture, and some deep meditation to prepare themselves for the stress and fear of what is to come. A little after lunch they both stood up near each other and looked towards the center of the cave. There was just enough light peeking in for them to see an occasional stone outcropping from the caves walls. They really did not need their eyes for what was to come, since the demons were present in their minds and souls. They both could feel the demons’ power pulsing inside her, but they seemed to be waiting for something before unleashing their power upon them.

Demascatus went first. He had never done this before with someone else around, nor with anyone around that might even be able to perceive the demons, so he was a little unnerved and nervous about what was to happen. He looked upon The Ravage and called them forth slowly and in a very controlled manner. Slowly the his demons manifested before them and they were angry. Tyrell shrieked in fear, but Demascatus motioned for her to stand her ground. His hand seemed to just freeze her in place.

The imp seemed irate and very unnerved at this as well. Demascatus called the imp forward and he said to the imp and the manifested demons  “Bow before me.” The demons bared their fangs and hissed, but they did so slowly. The demons wailed in anger as they kneeled before him, their mortal master. Demascatus had to focus in order to compel them to obey, but they did, knowing full well that he could destroy them as he had done before.

Now, Tyrell, it is your turn.” Demascatus said quietly and firmly. Tyrell said fearfully “I… I cannot. I am afraid. I am not as strong as you, Demy.” Demascatus smiled lovingly to her, knowing full well how she was feeling, and he said “You have nothing to be afraid of child. I am here. We will get through this together. Focus and know that you are in charge and that they need you and as much as you need their guidance. If you are fearful then they will have an advantage and can grow stronger and more cruel to you.” His demons hissed loudly as he spoke. The holy truth searing their unholy forms.

A tear streamed down her cheek. She looked at Demascatus fearfully. As she looked upon his demons wailing and hissing quietly she seemed to shrink in place. She cleared her throat, straightened up, and focused on the center of the chamber as a tear ran down her cheek. As soon as she called them forth they burst into existence in the chamber which nearly blew them both over with its force. Demascatus staggered back a few steps and Tyrell dropped to her knees her eyes wide in terror. Demascatus had never felt anything like that from his demons. They raged in anger and black flames roiled off them. They howled and bored feasting eyes upon Tyrell. They hissed at the two of them and then seemed to growl even louder in disappointment and anger at his demons and the imp. “Command them!” he yelled trying to make his voice cut through the roar of their flames and howls.

Tyrell was frozen with fear. They had tormented her for so long and she had never felt them like this. They were larger, scarier, and more real than she had ever experienced them. Before they were just angry and blood filled whispers in her mind, and horrible dreams. Now they were here. They were definitely real and were given faces and eyes to stare into. There was no going back from this moment on. She could not try to ignore them or pass it off as her possibly just being insane. They were here and they meant business. This was real.

Seeing that Tyrell had frozen ‘The Ravage’ flew over to her quickly and stuck her with its tail barb. She yipped and shook her head and slowly stood up. She stared at her ‘voices’ incarnate and tried to focus her mind to try to control them, while Demascatus focused to maintain control of his demons. Demascatus said just enough for him to be heard over the noise of the demons “Light your sacred flame that you can feel burs in your blood. Let it empower you, child. The Bloodfire is the key. It is your power.  You’re are its master. It is what they fear and they want you to learn how to use it. LIGHT THE BLOODFLAME!!!!” his voice crescendoed cutting unusually clear through the demonic cacophony.

After a moment or two with her eyes wide eyes with fear as her demons drifted closer to her, the Bloodflame licked slowly to life in her right hand. They hissed in a way that almost seemed laugh, and then they roared loudly, which startled Tyrell which caused the Bloodflame in her hand to blast into life to cover both of her arms and scorched the ground all around her. Her demons recoiled and laughed maniacally at her fear and her lack of control. Their hate filled and predatory laughter resonated throughout the chamber and filled their skulls and bodies with it. They could more feel their pounding laughter than they could hear it. The Bloodlflame still pulsed out of her hand sand into the now scorched ground like two upside down flowers made of flames. The scent of burning ground and grass was strong in the air along with the scent of sulfer. Her hand tightened into a small fist and the flame became more controlled. She pursed her lips and then threw flames at the demons which they dodged easily. They mocked her clumsiness and lack of control. They called her many names and told her what horrible things they were going to her dismembered body when they get a hold of her. Her failure was their reward and her soul was destined to be their eternal play toy.

Tyrell’s eyes showed a little anger and she blasted more flame at them, but the blast was wide and dispersed which ended up being stopped by a protective field that the demons seemed to have around them. Demascatus’ demons never had that and this concerned him. ‘The Ravage’ perched on her shoulder, wound its tail down the front of her shoulder and under her arm to root itself to her, and it started to whisper into her ear. He could not hear what it was saying to her through the cacophony of howls, laughter, flames, and echoes. After a few moments Tyrell’s shoulders slumped and tears burst from her eyes and she sobbed deeply almost collapsing to her knees again.

The imp darted away seeming almost afraid of retribution from Demascatus or the demons. Demascatus began to raise his arm now sheathed in the Bloodfire in anger to strike down the vile creature for hurting her. Tyrell’s arm raised slowly as the tears continued to stream down and a concentrated blast of flame jetted outward, ripped through the protective barrier, and burned a hole through the demons in its path. The demons roared in pain and in delight as several were consumed by her Bloodfire. They all seemed to collectively smile maniacally and laugh, and then scorn her for not destroying them all in one blast. They let her know how weak and incompetent she was, and they leered at the imp who darted to hide behind Demascatus, wrapping its tail around his left ankle.

The demons hissed, and laughed, and laughed. Their noise grew louder and louder until nothing could be heard but their evil and manical laughs resonating throughout the chamber. They vanished just like they were never there, and all was quiet. Demascatus did not even notice that his demons had faded away during all of this somehow. Tyrell collapsed to her knees sobbing quietly sitting amidst the ground charred by her Bloodflame. She just sat there shaking and crying.
Demascatus was a bit taken aback by it all. His experience was never like this. Her demons seemed much more powerful, larger and more numerous. Their words and emotions were effectively the same, but her demons’ sheer power and abilities were more than his by perhaps an order of magnitude. His confidence in his ability to help her began to fade a little. The imp slowly flapped his way up and sat on his shoulder rather unceremoniously which seemed to pull Demascatus out of his thoughts. He rushed over and held her and they rocked together as she cried that soul-wrenching cry of fearful innocence that only children can cry. Demascatus, who was all too familiar with this cry, began to cry as well. They just sat there for an undermined amount of time crying and rocking together. The imp just perched itself a a  vantage point where it could seem them and the entrance into the chamber watching over them.

Weeks of tears and fears, and doubt, meditation, and studying went by. Tyrell grew stronger with each passing day. Demascatus learned each day something different about her demons, and not a day went by where they would strike the right chords to drive her to tears. He was finding that there was not a whole lot he could do for her but support her and help to steel her mind and resolve, and help to have the Raven Queen’s words guide her. Her nightmares grew stronger as the weeks went on. The demons would torment her during the training of the day, and even more so in her dreams at night when she was weakest. Every few nights she would wake up screaming or crying. Demascatus had some of that early on, but not as much as she has had to endure. All he could do was whisper words of support and hold her as she cried and cried. Each day was emotionally and physically draining on both of them. They spent the time that they were not training in quiet and rest.

Their food supplies had started to run out a week or so earlier than they had anticipated. That combined with that fact that her training was going to a much longer than he thought it would means they were going to have to start hunting for food which was a strange but somewhat welcomed distraction for them. While hunting Tyrell was able to work on firing on smaller and moving targets, which was a great challenge. It is one thing to try and blast somewhat stationary demon-things with raw concentrated power, and another to attack something that does not want to be hit. Tyrell found the hunting a great distraction and it helped her to cope with everything that she has had to endure here.  It seemed to empower and strengthen her for training. The more they hunted the less the demons were able to make her cry and the quicker she made progress. Hunting, for her, seemed to be a key to her unlocking her potential, and to open the gates of confidence and control. She made more progress in the next week while they hunted and trained than she did in the previous month or so of training combined.

As the next few weeks came and went, they hunted and trained. Even though she was a small girl she gained in confidence and in power. She cried less and less and the nightmares seemed to lessen as the weeks went on. She came to a point where the nightmares and breakdowns the demons were able to force were limited to once or twice a week. The demons still mocked, toyed, threatened, and insulted, but their words just did not affect her as much. She had grown used to their words, and only a few times did they inflict real harm on both of them.  With significant progress being made they decided to make their way back to the citadel. They had spent enough time in the forests and the cave. They needed real food and real beds, and perhaps it will be safe to continue her training at the citadel and the other mentors can work with her on the warlock aspects as he continues working with her to help her control her demons.

They started their several week trek back towards the citadel. With Tyrell having gained in strength, confidence, and control they were both in better moods. Tyrell was actually more talkative and even started a small conversation with a boy who was passing by as they rested. She was starting to sound more like a normal child and less like a tormented soul, and this made Demascatus smile. ‘We really were making progress.’ he thought to himself.

When they finally returned to the citadel about 6 months later and they were both looking thin, tired, and exhausted but in good spirits. The few Blood Knights that were on guard that night cheered when the two of them arrived. Looks of elation washed over their brethren since now they knew that nothing bad had happened to the pair of them. The Knights sent runners to let their family know that they had finally arrived. Food and clean warm clothes were brought to them and they both eat heartily and really appreciated the real food which they have missed for quite a few months now.

Shortly thereafter Zerda and little Tszeezdar came running in and Demascatus and Tyrell ran an embraced them. Tears and kisses flowed from all of them. They were all so happy to be home and to know that everyone was safe and sound. Zerda took the kids back home and Demascatus stayed behind to give a debrief to the Blood Matron and several other of the order’s leaders about everything that happened and what it all means. After several hours of retelling their tale and answering questions Demascatus and Tyrell rode home as the light from the sun was peeping out over the horizon. They walked quietly into the house and crept into bed and slept like a log throughout most of the day.

Demascatus and Tyrell spent the next week or so recovering from all of that time away. They ate, meditated, read and practiced with the rest of the order’s mentors as a sort of vacation from their real training. Demascatus trained Tyrell lightly and let her work by herself at her own pace as well giving her a chance to explore it with her newly empowered control. ‘The Ravage’ stayed around her to assist where it would or could. She progressed slowly, but steadily and the tears and nightmares seemed to lessen, perhaps happening once a month or so now. She had become a bit more chatty with people around and was asking more questions about being a warlock and the scripture.

Once Demascataus saw this change he told Tyrell it was about time that she started to attend a warlock apprenticeship here in the Citadel to become an even more powerful warlock so she can one day join the Blood Knights in fighting for their Blood Queen. This thought saddened her for he and Zerda were the only real teachers and family that she had really known.

“Demy, why does someone else have to teach me? You can teach me all I need to know. You can teach me about the warlocky stuff and Zerda can teach me scripture and I can stay here with you guys and help with baby Tszeez’dar. Please?” A large smile grew on Demascatus’ face, but it quickly faded. Demascactus told Tyrell, “Of course you will stay here with us, but you will have to turn to teachers other than us. You are our daughter and we want what is best for you. The mentors here taught me as well, and you are growing strong enough that you can work through the demons well enough on your own. Your journey in dealing with the demons is important to you and your utilizing the Bloodfire fully. Trust me, dear. The people here are wonderful and will be happy to help you in ways that I cannot. I had nowhere near the control you did when I started training here. You will be a great warlock one day.” Tyrell was sad with this, but she knew they knew better and cared for her, so she acquiesced.

Bastion

A few years have passed and Tyrell has grown stronger and more confident. She is picking up on the warlock training well. He has gone on missions for the Blood Knights with Tzseez’dar as needed, which was always a welcomed reprieve. Tzseez’dar has spent quite a bit more time in the field than Demascatus since he has been more occupied with helping Tyrell and ensuring that she advances and is safe. By this time Demascatus and Tzseez’dar have heard that their former companions of the Raven’s Host and their victory over the Tiefling army of Bael Turath and Orcus, Demascatus had also heard they were able to pursue the ambitious project of building a massive keep called Bastion as a new mecca for the Raven Queen’s faithful, and this new achievement excited him.

Demascatus did a lot of talking with Zerda and their daughter, Tyrell, to see if they were willing to head to this new citadel as a new home so he could work with his friends in the Host again. They all knew how much Demascatus missed being with that group and were happy to head out to Bastion to be a part of this great and holy project. Demascatus also took a lot of time to talk to priests and other Blood Knights and arranged for a contingent of Blood Knights to be stationed at Bastion to represent them and their sect. He also worked diligently to ensure that appropriate teachers will be going with to handle Tyrell’s apprenticeship.

The Blood Knights spent time accelerating the training programs for their apprentices and tried to acquire the extra resources needed to set up another temple dedicated to the Blood Queen at Bastion. Several months were spent copying or obtaining sacred texts, weaving new clothes, making extra armor, holy symbols, rods and weapons as well as candles, incense, and other items required for a new temple grounds. The entire Citadel was busy preparing to send this contingent to Bastion. Tszeez’dar, knowing full well what Demascatus was up to, talked to his family and superiors and obtained the go ahead to make his way to Bastion as well. He knew Demascatus was going to ask anyhow, and he was going to need to be around to make sure Demascatus and his family was safe.

Tszeez’dar approached Demascatus one day while everyone was abuzz in their preparatory work and he said “I know what you are up to and we are going too.” Zadi smiled  “but, my place will be training new recruits and guards for Bastion, and I will not be able to accompany you in your service with the Host, which saddens me deeply. My place in the temple is changing and you are going to have all of the fun. I will look after them for you, so do not fear for them. You, on the other hand, have been assigned to assist the Raven’s Host. They are going to need your Bloodfire in the days to come – our Blood Matron has foreseen this, Brother.

Tzseez’dar continued “I do not know how our people found Tyrell, but I am happy for her, for your family, and for the Blood Queen. Demascatus, you have done well with her. She will be a great asset to the Blood Queen and our order. You have brought great honor to us all.”  Tzseez’dar smiled broadly.

When everyone was gathering and packing things prior to the final trip through portals that were opened and humming with magic to allow easy transport of everyone quickly and safely to Bastion, some people had already been making their way back and forth to get things prepared and the logistics for everyone’s and everything’s placement finalized. The portal was busy with people and supplies coming and going every few minutes. Carts and people were lining up outside the portal chamber for that final trip to Bastion. The people were abuzz with talk of what they had heard so far about Bastion and its accelerated building and the beauty and holy glory of it all.

During the blur of finalizing their packing and lists, and meetings and arrangements, Demascatus found the ruby that he always wore around his neck was missing. Distraught at the thought of losing such treasured item Demascatus asked Zerda if she had seen it. She told him sheepishly that she had taken it and wanted to surprise you with it as a pre-moving gift. She brought it out and showed it to him and now. Underneath the name Tszeez’dar, was the name – Tyrell. His entire family was now completely on that stone and he pulled it close to his heart and he hugged her tightly.

When the moment finally came to leave their long-time home in the Citadel for good, they sat for a moment to take it all in. Their crates and sacks of stuff were in a small wagon outside. Their room was empty and as soon as they exited it, it  would no longer be theirs and someone else would live there. They would be leaving a significant part of their life behind to move on to something more exciting and new. A tear wandered its way down Zerda’s face, as baby Zadi cried not understanding what is going on. Tyrell was just quiet and a little excited to meet these friend of Demascatus’ that she has heard so much about, and to see what this Bastion was going to be like. With everyone’s excited talk and dreaming it seemed like the hallways were either paved with gold and/or the Raven Queen herself happily waited on everyone hand and foot. She did not care either way. She was with her family and she was not afraid of anything that was to come.

While making their way to the portal chamber to begin their new life in Bastion they chatted about everything they have heard and about Bastion and his friends in the Raven’s Host. The next few weeks went quickly as they acclimated themselves to the massiveness of Bastion and its precise dwarven built architecture, as well as their new place in Bastion’s hierarchy. Training had to be arranged for, bedrooms had to be filled, supply logistics had to be arranged for, meetings with Bastion’s clergy, mentors, and command had to be attended, as well as a plethora of other things to finish getting the place ready for a routine for the Blood Knights of the Gloaming Chalice and the rest of Bastion.

During this time little was seen of the Host as they were working on finishing up their various projects and getting themselves ready and acclimated to Bastion as well, but the moment came when he was finally summoned by Bastion’s High Priestess, Uldana Farthan. Demascatus was excited to get back to working with his friends, but also felt a bit guilty about leaving his family again. He knew that Zerda understood since this is their lot and a fact of their life in the service of the Blood Queen as they have chosen, but Zadi and Tyrell were a different story. They were children and they knew that what their father did was dangerous, not like ‘standing guard in a prison’ dangerous, but a ‘one false move and a demon could suck you soul and torment you for eternity’ – or a ‘vile undead could drain your life-force and use your meat-suit as a corpsey puppet’  sort of dangerous.

Zerda suppressed her tears and baby Zadi was screaming and crying because he did not understand why daddy was leaving for so long, and why mom was sad too. Demascatus said his goodbyes to them and made his way to say good bye to Tyrell. They pulled her out of her daily lessons with the other apprentice warlocks and she looked upset and on the verge of tears. She has known that this day would come when he would come during her class and that may be the last time that she might see him. Tears started to stream down her face as she hugged Demascatus tightly. Through her tears she sobbed  “Why do you have to leave? Why can’t you stay here with Zerda, baby Zadi, and me?” Demascatus started to become choked up at her extreme sense of loss and fear for him.

He said gently to her  “Tyrell, I’m doing what the Blood Queen needs of me. She needs me to fight with my brothers and sisters at arms, my friends. I promise you that these my friends will make sure I return happily and safely, so I can hold you and continue to train you again.

Until then, take this piece of ruby necklace. It is identical to mine except that it has the name of Zerda, baby Tszeez’dar, and myself. As you get older and pass your rites of initiation in the ranks of the Blood Knights we will add their symbol and your favorite scripture, and then you will serve as I do, as a wielder of the Sacred Bloodfire of the Raven Queen. You will take your place beside brave men and women and support them in battling Orcus and other vile things. I will return to you. I promise.” He kissed her on the cheek and hugged her one last time and then said “They are waiting for me, my dear. Be good and listen to Zerda and you mentors.”  He smiled at her and she smiled sadly at him and he walked slowly towards the High Priests’ chambers.

Having finished all of his goodbyes Demascatus was still upset that he had to leave his family behind, but he knew Tszeez’dar would watch over them just as Demascatus had done for him in the past.