Prologue Part I

The Guide Star
On the run from his hometown of Innsmouth, a young Tiefling named Kadath was travelling alone and with practically no possessions. Making his way in a zig-zagging southward direction along infrequently used caravan trails, he became increasingly disoriented and disturbed by the unfamiliar wilderness. The harsh light of the sun shone judgementally above him as he fled the safety of the Pelorean Temple. As night fell, a comforting purple star coalesced above the horizon and Kadath dutifully followed the directions it whispered to him across the void of space. Travelling through the night, the whispered path led him around areas of marshland, over harsh, rocky terrain and finally to the edge of a small hamlet bounded on three sides by dense woodland. Here, the guide star ceased its mouthless intonations and watched impassively the starlit figure hunched and alone in the darkness. Here Caiphon entranced him, awaiting the next step upon the Purple Stairway…

The Rising Sun
Solace, Tiefling Martial Adept and sworn missionary of Pelor, awoke several hours before dawn in the darkness of the Watchwoods. There were a thousand places he would rather be, but he took heart in the prospect of the coming dawn and the comfort he would surely bring to the people of the hamlet of Dunwich upon his arrival. Unsheathing his heirloom axe from its harness, he admired the expertly forged steel, flecked with gold and copper throughout the length of the weapon. He muttered a cryptic phrase and the head of the weapon flared into life, burning vigorously and illuminating the dark forest, immediately making Solace feel more at ease. Packing his possessions and taking a moment to get his bearings, he set out through the dense woods.
Approaching the tiny settlement, Solace noticed his surroundings seemed far quieter than he had expected. It couldn’t be more than an hour or so until dawn and yet barely a twitter could be heard amongst the tree branches. A short way on, the woodland began to thin out a little and Solace was just able to make out the distant horizon, beginning to lighten in preparation for a new day. Above the horizon, an ominous purple star hung in the pre-dawn sky. Watching.

A New Day Begins
As Solace reached the edge of the woods, Pelor’s glorious sun breached the horizon and greeted the cool air for a new day. Above it, still visible in the waxing dawn light, the purple star continued to observe the tiny hamlet with keen interest. Despite the sun’s comforting light, the air of menace that had been slowly growing hung thick over the quiet buildings. Solace felt a pang of dread in his gut that told him these people may require more than a simple sermon…

...

Kadath refocused from his trance to see another young Tiefling approaching. Clad in well-kept silver armour and clutching a burning axe, the stranger appeared powerful, but surprisingly unthreatening as he cast his gaze over Kadath’s tattered hospital robe. Before the stranger had chance to speak, the details of the star-induced trance flashed through Kadath’s mind…

“It’s happened! The darkness, the darkness that shuns starlight, that doesn’t hear the call of the void, the darkness that has no place here! They’re all…gone now. They are shells, shells that bear no vitality, nothing to feed the celestial ones, nothing to bargain with the void-dwellers, they steal life from our world and the world beyond! THEY ARE RIGHT INSIDE WATCHING US!”

The armoured tiefling span to face the large farmhouse building at the edge of the clearing and his gaze was met by an unholy stare which mocked sanity and life itself as a slaving jaw hung loose below. Hungry… The face disappeared from view below the windowsill inside the building and Solace heard the sounds of several creatures scratching and growling in the house. Stepping cautiously towards the doorway, he saw the door begin to shudder…

From nowhere, a creature appeared on the roof. Its body was humanoid, hunched and hairless and a grotesquely oversized jaw dominated its ugly skeletal head. Muddy, whitish-brown skin was stretched over its bones like a starved corpse and a long, thick tongue extended hungrily from its needle-filled maw. Shambling forward on all-fours, it suddenly leapt with an agility that betrayed its decayed appearance. The leap brought it within feet of Solace, who stepped back into a defensive stance and readied his axe, staring in disbelief and muttering prayers of abjuration to Pelor for the fight about to commence. The foul apparition carried the stench of the undead – an abomination unto the life-giving light of Pelor and a blight on the good souls of this world. He had no qualms about bringing a swift end to this fiend. The creature pounced and met naught but a brutal swing of Solace’s axe, knocking it to the floor as holy flames licked across the weapon’s head. The ghoul righted itself and prepared to leap again when a second one of the monsters appeared from around the side of the farmhouse and readied itself to launch its own attack. As the beast braced its legs to pounce, a shimmer of eerie light flashed around it (1) before a fierce bolt of energy tore across the open ground (2). The bolt smashed into the creature, igniting the strange light into a burst of flame and left naught but a smouldering body on the muddy floor. Solace risked a glance behind him and saw the other tiefling, cloaked in iridescent light, seemingly revitalised by his swift and fatal attack on the creeping terror. Spurred on by the presence of an apparent ally, he turned back in time to deftly parry a blow from the attacking ghoul and responded with a crushing overhead swing, cleaving clean through the deformed head of the creature and splitting its slavering jaw in two.

“I don’t know who you are, but I thank you for your help.” Solace called out to the robed stranger.

...

Kadath smiled back at the armoured figure and then looked past him to see another pair of scurrying, foul abominations clamber over the apex of the roof. Their faces gazed down, twisted mockeries of their former life – Kadath realised these were the husks of living souls, bereft of vitality and contorted into servitors of darkness. Robbed of life…like those who granted his own power…

The farmhouse door splintered open and a hulking creatured appeared at a dead run, lumbering across the clearing towards the two tieflings, who had gravitated closer to face the oncoming assault. The ghouls on the roof jumped in unison, landing in front of Solace, one just off to each side as the charging brute closed the gap between itself and its opponents…

Stars Align
Kadath saw the scene with perfect clarity and knew it was time to end this. Setting off at a sprint, he ran in a tight circle past his ally and the ghouls engaging him. Caiphon guided his steps – closer, closer, until the channel is opened…now! Kadath circled close enough to establish a connection to the hulking beast and opened an unseen channel, pouring starlight into the air around the behemoth. As he did so, he cried out to Ulban, radiant sentinel of the heavens and a pillar of white light lanced down from above, searing the flesh from the bones of the creature as it roared in agony (3) – the pure light of the starlit ones purging the unholy energy from its body.

Solace struggled to comprehend the scene unfolding before him. Two more of the leaping terrors bore down on him and out of nowhere a pillar of incredible light had caught the maruading terror in its searing radiance. This was not the work of Pelor, but the power wielded by the robed tiefling was as brutally effective against the undead as anything he had seen his own clerics bring to bear. As time stood still for the briefest of moments, Solace saw Pelor’s rising sun begin to converge with the sinking purple star on the horizon. For a moment, the dazzling white-purple glow blinded him, but in an instant he was back in the fight and ablaze with holy zeal to purge the darkness before him as the new day dawned.

Focusing ahead on the heaving mass of the brutish ghoul, Solace saw the beast turn to face the warlock who had brought down such searing radiance upon it and realised it would surely crush the strange mage if it closed on him. Crying out above the din, he proclaimed ‘Pelor’s judgement upon you! Turn and fight!’. The air shimmered for the briefest of moments and Solace felt the attention of his god upon the battlefield (4). Leaping into action, he weaved between the whirring claws of the two nearby ghouls, spinning and delivering a devastating slash through the body of one, dropping it where it stood. Following through, he stepped past the second ghoul and towards the hulking brute, bringing his axe again in a devastating arc which connected with a searing crunch snapping sinew and shredding taut flesh from the beast’s neck and shoulder (5).

A scythe-like hand shot out from the beast and caught Solace full in the chest, spilling his blood and knocking him to the ground. A tightness gripped his muscles and the hulk towered over him, opening wide its ravenous jaws…

Another bolt of light lanced down upon the ghoul brute, a strange iridescence dancing within it (6). As the ghoul threw up its arms in an attempt to shield itself, Solace found his feet and felt his blood boil within him, demanding retribution…(7) Solace roared in rage and swung…

Pelor’s hand guided the swing, might immortal powering his strike. The axe connected with the unholy abomination, splitting open its chest, spilling rank, rotting innards and causing black-green blood to gush from the cavernous wound.(8)

Reeling, the beast realised it would never win its battle with this holy warrior and turned to the frail caster only yards away… It lunged.

Stars converged. Pelor’s blistering light raged across the ghoul’s skin as it dared to defy his servant’s challenge. Caiphon tore at flesh and bone as the beast threatened its chosen soul (9). In a blinding conflagration of empyrean power, the brute was reduced to a smouldering husk, motionless in the dirt. The remaining ghoul felt the gaze of the heavens upon it and turned to run. It never reached the edge of the woods…

Looking over the smoking corpse, something caught Kadath’s eye… A thin bone, snapped away leaving a razor-sharp point upon which danced corruscating light, mixed with a shadowy aura of darkness. Breaking the bone away from the body, Kadath examined it. It felt…at home in his grasp. This he could use against that which spawned it. He smiled to himself. This would serve well…

The sun rose. The stars faded in anticipation of their next twilight vigil. Another pact. Another path. An alliance against a common anathema. The next step on the path of light, the next step on the purple stairway…

(1) Kadath’s Warlock’s Curse
(2) Eldritch blast
(3) Encounter Power – Glow of Ulban
(4) Solace’s Divine Challenge
(5) Encounter Power – Passing Attack
(6) Dire Radiance
(7) Infernal Wrath
(8) Damage from Daily Power – Lasting Threat
(9) Combined radiant damage from Dire Radiance and Divine Challenge

Prologue Part I

The Light Empyrean Unknown_Kadath