Chapter Eight: Forgiveness and Favors

Leon groggily wakes up at half health with a level of exhaustion he did not before his rage-fueled assault on the magister’s court, chained to the back wall of his cage wearing a loin cloth.  

office-of-the-lords-industrial
Office of the Lords Industrial

He’s not sure when the beatings stopped, or when he passed out, but he is awoken by a visitor — a man of the cloth, Iorveth, whom he met in passing as the bodyguard to Lord Terzo Beturan, the local lord of  they Daytown chapter of the Penitent, whom the party met earlier that day.  Iorveth, knowing just how many people it took to drag Leon, chuckles to himself and says 

“You’ve got to work on that anger of yours, old man.  Was that really the appropriate response?”

Leon has been surprisingly introspective since his outburst, and acknowledged that he had been out of line.

Pleasantly surprised by the response, Iorveth offers to undo Leon’s restraints if he is willing to talk.  Leon agrees, and the two sit down to chat.

“What do you know of the Penitent?  What do you know of Selnoir?”

Leon shakes his head, saying, “Not much.”

“I won’t bore you with too many details, but I used to be like you, a man who used to act in anger and without thought.  I found myself in this very cell, and a priest, Terzo Beturan, came by to offer solace.  We broke bread, and he shared stories of the early times on Kendredai isle, the murderous son who returned and delivered salvation to his kinsfolk and found salvation himself.  He offered to wield the considerable clout of the Penitent to cut a deal with The Precinct for early release, in exchange for a penance and aid around the church.  I found the work so rewarding, I have remained by his side to this day.  There are many problems Daytown faces, and we unfortunately cannot do it alone.  We recognize that you are a man of action, obviously capable of overcoming great odds.  Join our order, aid your newfound brethren and find the forgiveness you never realized you needed.”

Leon couldn’t believe his luck.  “So what you’re telling me is all I have to do is go with you to your church and I can get out of jail?”

“There is a baptism ceremony as well that you’ll need to participate in, and from there we’ll expect certain favors performed, but basically yes.  Do you accept?”

“Yes.  Lead on.”

Iorveth walks over to the door and knocks.  A contingent of five penitent approach the door and stand at attention.  Iorveth offers him a white bandana that each member of The Penitent wear.

“Here, you’ll need this later” and as Leon accepts the bandana, the door opens and Leon is escorted out of the cell, and the city center, and off they all head, towards the Selnoir temple.  A messenger is sent to the rest of the party, who were not privvy to this conversation.


 

With Leon now in the custody of The Precinct in the capital building of Daytown, it was up to Gladbaegol and Associates to determine how best to approach springing their favorite barbarian.  All indications from guards outside the capital seemed to suggest it would take days at the earliest for sentencing to take place, and the party began to panic, worried that Leon might be gone for a while.  Kraw decided he would go meet up with Meowsington, working with him to try to brush up on his Daytown criminal law, and grab a pint or three at the tavern.

The remaining members of Gladbaegol and Associates then took a break from their panic to do some shopping and exploration in the marketplace in the north end of the courtyard outside of the capital building.  They haggled over improvements to The Lazy Minnow, and looked over the local market for snacks, and as they got lost in their shopping.  As they engaged in some retail therapy, Bridget found she had a visitor.

“I’m looking for Glenn Gladbaegol.  Oh, no, sorry, read this wrong.  I’m looking for Bridget Wrye.  Are you Bridget?  Are you associated with Leon Bladebreaker, alias Megadeth?”, asked another local, blindfolded member of The Penitent.

“Yes, what is this about?”

“He’s being taken to the local Temple of Selnoir, The Penitent have offered him clemency in exchange for him joining our order and favors, please follow me.”


The party’s route to the temple of Selnoir brings them past takes a side street back through the docks district.  A pretty healthy crowd mill about in the street, and Gladbaegol and Associates passing two impressively athletic women with goggles across their head and pistols in holsters — which they would later realize were telltale clues that they are enforcers members of The Piston.  As the party passed the women, neither seemed to acknowledge the entourage  seemingly keeping an eye on the sky.  Thinking nothing of it, the party doesn’t make it another twenty steps before a siren rang out, unexpectedly, and men armed with rifles and pistols fell from the sky.  Combat began!

dockside-warehouse-day

Dockside Warehouse – Day

Two snipers and three shock troopers from Grandmill, a long way from their territory as the map would seem to indicate, advanced towards the industrial buildings.  Snipers perched on top of the buildings, shock troopers meeting any resistance on the street head on.  The party stepped up and made quick work of the shock troopers.  The Piston Enforcers seemed content to stick to net launchers, which they used to knock the snipers off the roofs.  After the second shock-trooper was felled, the third retreated into the nearby warehouse.  The party did not give chase, and as more backup was summoned, Glenn asked, “So, you get a lot of Grandmill raids?  Why are they here?”

One of the enforcers, shrugging, said “They’ve been passed up, technologically.  We’re a relatively population, almost inviting invasion, if they were able to steal some of our tech, or engineers…why not try?”

The party chewed on the information, and continued on towards Leon.

temple-of-the-penitent-day
Temple of the Penitent Day

As Gladbaegol and Associates entered the courtyard outside The Temple of the Penitent, this section of the city seemed much less populated.  A mother watched her two kids play hopscotch, and members of The Penitent stood guard.  Glenn encouraged strong work ethic in a boy who somehow managed to cheat his way through Hop Scotch, and the mother, concerned about all the abductions recently, brought her kids inside.  The party then made a beeline to the pool downstairs where the ceremony was already underway.

The scene:  Leon stands on the steps leading down into the pool of blessed water.  Iorveth stands fifteen feet in front of him, waste deep in the water already.  He reads from a sermon book,

Anger is a rough water;  If you can canalize it into a water mill, you can benefit from it.  Anything bad can be transformed into good.

Seeing that the party has reunited, acknowledges them and asks if anyone else would like to join their order:

“Ah, so glad to see you all again.  Leon here has been going through the initiation rites of The Penitent.  All that’s left is the taking of the ceremonial morel, taking a bath in our hallowed water, and swearing an oath to seeking the Charity and Order above Anger.  Any may join, please line up in front of the pool.”

The party isn’t sure what to do about this development.  Leon, religious?  Glenn calls out “Leon, are you okay?  What are you doing here?”

“No guys, its okay.  They offered to let me out of jail if I would join their church, so here I am.”

Iorveth looks expectantly to see if anyone steps forward to join Leon.  Glenn says what the party is thinking: “No, I’m not joining your cult.”

Unperturbed, he invites the group to watch from the edge of the pool.

“Leon, Full of Rage, Gladiator of Tarchay, please enter the pool.”

The group watches as Leon wades out into the water, accepts and eats the religious sacrament, and and then begins to lie on his back in the water, and his eyes close.


Leon’s vision fades to black, and then is replaced by visions of other things.  He sees a group of villagers, set out from an inn to investigate a blighted farm, they fight rock giants, they stab at alters, they travail through the snow and then…blackness.  Leon’s senses are overwhelmed, but he sees other visions, tidal waves, blackstone exploding, the dead rise,  a pair of Mastodon skulls flank the entrance to a cave, a mass grave with feathers and blood, the dead rise, a snowy industrial building on fire, men violently transforming into fishkin in the moonlight, pirates board a merchant vessel and begin to slaughter indiscriminately, the dead rise, a stoutkin covered in bone laughs as Greenkin sink into the earth, the dead rise, a tempest rages as a legion of men march, a trufflekin sits in a dark room, blood covering the walls and his laughter deepens and deepens.  The dead rise.


After Leon has been out for five minutes, he frowns.  Leon begins shaking a little in the water. “Something is very wrong.  He shouldn’t be convulsing like this.  Who brought us these sacraments?  You, penitent, you cultivated these yourself, did you not?  What in the world?”

The party stands dumbfounded as the messenger that had fetched them, and two other members of the clergy in the room undergo a shocking transformation.  Where their heads were, tentacles burst out, and a great fight begins.  Leon resists further effects of the poisoned sacraments and dives for The Redeemer.  Glenn positions himself such that he is blocking the two southern Tentacled from reaching the rest of the group. The sounds of gunshots, acid spraying from tentacles, eldritch blasts, grunting, cries and others fill the room.  As the fight looks to be going their way, more former Penitent, now Tentacled, charge into the room.  Bastine holds one underwater, not quite thinking through that they can probably breathe underwater.  No matter, it dies the same as any other.  Iorveth swings a greatsword at his old allies, felling the last of the monstrosities.  They hear running from down the hall.  Another tentacled?  No.  Lord Terzo Beturan, Lord of the Penitent.

I think its safe to say we are closing this temple down until we can determine what in the FUCK is going on here.  Bridget, Glenn, you and your party proved you are capable of handling yourselves with poise, you have earned your permit to break curfew first thing tomorrow.  Everyone, follow me to our study, I cannot concentrate in here.  Iorveth, fetch more of our brothers and return.

The party heads to the study at the very southern end of the basement.  Lord Beturan takes a long drag from a cigar he lights, eyeing each member of Gladbaegol and Associates before nodding and expelling the smoke.  He begins:

“Let me tell you what I know.  The prior Lord of the Pistons, Lord Lambehrt Ortec, the brilliant maker, went missing a month ago.  Since his disappearance, all manner of shit has hit the fan.  Abductions, and crime of all sorts have skyrocketed.  People have been afraid to come to worship, and given what happened here it looks like they were right to be.  

The Precinct has been making headway with arrests, hell the whole jail is filled with the crime boss Coppergut’s goons and, until just now I was convinced that our problem was being handled.  This town is fucked.  I’m prepared to give you 1500 gold now, and more if you can stop whatever is triggering my men to turn into goddamn squid-monsters.  There are some wizards at The Lords Industrial that were researching into our particular…ailments.  Go speak with them in the morning.”

Gwydgen’s green ears perked up. “Wizards?  How long have they been here?”

“Two months, I’d say?”

….”And how long has this been going on?”

“The abductions started in earnest about a month ago.”

“Sounds like we have our first lead, then.”

Lord Beturan shrugged noncommittally, and urged caution when talking about to the citizenry: “I don’t want the news of what happened here terrorizing the town.  Please, try to be discreet, and I’ll clean up as much of this on my end as I can.  Come, Iorveth, its going to be a long night.”

The party, exhausted by the days events, decided that they would bed down early to seek some much needed rest in the bedroom adjacent to the study.  And a long rest they had, as Glenn was supposed to be covering the final watch around midnight.

Glenn, head on the pillow, thinks he hears something that sounds like explosions coming from far away.  He shrugs, and rolls over, fluffing up his pillow and falls back asleep.