Touched by a Demon - The Story of Wrenn

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Postby lincoln » February 17th, 2010, 10:39 am

Touched by a Demon
The Story of Wrenn

As Wrenn lay in bed that night, he could not help wondering in amazement at the power that the doom dreamers had held. These were, after all, mortal men. They had not been born with this power, they had learned it. The fact that such great power even existed in this world was a bit overwhelming to him.

His thoughts also turned to Magini. “Where are you old friend?” The sight of his torture in the Temple was almost more that Wrenn could stomach. Even though it had been an illusion, the images of blood pouring from Magini’s wounds coupled with his moans of agony made Wrenn sweat as he lay in his bed. As he fell asleep, Wrenn thought to himself “I must find him. I must know what happened to my friend…”
The next morning, Wrenn awoke with a purpose. He packed his gear, summoned his phantom steed, and quietly slipped out of town. He hoped his companions in Homlett would understand. They were all adventurers after all. Adventurers must forge their own way. Eventually all ties are cut. Wrenn knew this well, but could not help feeling a bit of apprehension as he lead his horse through the town gates. One final look brought a slight lump to his throat as he caught a glimpse of the statue erected in their honor…

Wrenn had a purpose, but no direction. He wandered for days on his steed, always on the lookout for and signs of his companion, always listening for whisperings of his whereabouts. Much to his dismay, in every caravan and town, no one knew the name Magini. As the days turned to weeks, Wrenn began to feel disheartened. Perhaps it had not been an illusion. Perhaps Magini had died that night, and the secret of his location had died with the Cult. Impossible he had to continually tell himself. Magini was a powerful dwarf. No infernal cult could take him down so easily.

As Wrenn wandered, he began to have a distinct feeling that he should head north. It began as a simple coin toss, but as he pressed further, he found himself willing to cross great rivers and valleys to maintain his course. Eventually he found himself at the foot of a great hill, topped with a small but well fortified citadel. Wrenn looked to the maps he had but could find no such place marked. Curious, he made his way up to the gates.

“Who goes there,” a loud voice cried from behind the wall.

“Wrenn of the Feywild begs for permission to enter.”

“What business have you here Master Gnome,” the voice replied.

“I am an adventurer seeking information about one of my lost companions. All I ask of is a place to rest for a while and any information you might have concerning his whereabouts.”

There was no answer. For a long while all that could be heard was the wind rustling the grass at Wrenn’s feet. When it seemed to him that no hospitality would be given, the gates began to creak open. A man, great in stature, strode through the gates adorned in a simple brown robe. He introduced himself as Goram Greyshield, head of the citadel.

“You’ll have to excuse my men,” he said. “It has been a long time since travelers have wandered to our gates. You may enter and take refuge here for a short time if I can have your word that your allegiance is to The Light.”

“My allegiance is to whom or whatever will help me in my times of need. But if it is the dark and evil in this world that you oppose, then our allegiances stand aligned.”

“In that case,” said Goram, “let us enter the keep and see what news we can share with each other.”

As Wrenn stepped through the gates, he saw that this was no ordinary Citadel. There were no soldiers. There were no archers guarding the walls. In fact, all he could see were modestly dressed monks tending to their own business.

“What kind of a fortress are you running here Goram,” Wrenn asked.

“Bold words for a new guest,” laughed Goram. “You are mistaken Master Gnome, this is not a fortress. Think of it more as a place of resting.”

“You guys aren’t doing a very good job of it then. From what I can tell, these men are all working. I’d challenge you to find a single resting soul in this place.”

“Ahh, but you have misunderstood what I said. This is indeed a place of resting, but it is not for my men that it was created.”

Goram gazed off at the northern tower of the citadel for a moment. Then, snapping back to reality quickly said, “but you need not be burdened by such matters. Come; let ‘s find some food for you and a place to trade news.”
Wrenn’s curiosity was peaked at this, but knowing he was a guest here decided not to push his luck and instead followed Goram silently.

Goram lead Wrenn into a dimly lit room with a high ceiling, full of tables, and a grand fireplace in one corner. There were several people in this room and more were filing in behind them. This was obviously the dining hall of the citadel. Goram motioned for Wrenn to sit at his side as cooks brought out trays of food to eat. The conversation that evening was pleasant. It had been since Homlett that Wrenn had met another person whose adventuring could rival his own, but Goram did not disappoint. They talked about the downfall of the cult, Wrenn’s upbringing in the Feywild, and Goram’s run-in with a group of Wraiths when he was younger. Although they were entertaining stories, Wrenn still sat in wondering what the purpose of this place was. He had been pulled here by some unknown force, and he was determined to find out what it was.

After most of the men had finished their dinner and left the great hall, Wrenn decided to try his luck in getting some information out of Goram. Whether by his own skill in diplomacy (which Wrenn doubted) or with the assistance of the ale that Goram guzzled liberally, Wrenn was able to determine what rested in the northern tower. To his surprise, it was not a living being at all. Rather, it was a collection of scrolls and texts describing various rituals, customs, and practices of the Compact Infernal. They were the scriptures of the Nine Hells. A warm, tingling sensation filled Wrenn. He had heard of these scrolls and books, but legend told that they had been destroyed ages ago. Such things would be fascinating to study, if only for an evening.

“Absolutely not,” said Goram “and that is my final word on the matter. No one goes into the reliquary, no one sees the texts. You should not even know they are here! Damn the ale and my loose lips. I think the time has come for you to retire to your bed, Master Gnome. I bid thee goodnight.”

With that, he stood and gestured to the door. Wrenn bowed in gratitude and made his way outside. He was tired and could use a good night’s sleep in a proper bed, but the thought of the scrolls and their power stirred up an appetite in him that he had never before known. This was very dark magic, but the thrill of learning the rituals and seeing the forbidden left him longing for more. He quietly made his way to the room he was given, stashed his gear, and grabbed his darkest cloak.
The courtyard of the citadel was dark and empty. Wrenn had no trouble making his way across unseen. When he reached the north tower, he found a guard blocking his way. Using his attunement with the arcane, he shifted into invisibility and began muttering an incantation. Moments later, the sound of clanging pots could be heard around the corner. When the guard scurried away to see what was causing the commotion, Wrenn passed through the Tower door with ease.

“Too easy...” he thought to himself.

Inside the tower was a winding staircase leading up to a door on the fourth level. Wrenn quickly made his way up the stairs and stopped outside the door. His body was shaking with anticipation. This was not a place of divinity and righteousness, but he felt compelled to go on. He opened the door and felt a wave of heat pass over him. Expecting to see lit fires, Wrenn was puzzled to see nothing but a dimly lit room containing a single closed chest. As he approached, the hair on his knuckles began to stand. The chest was black with strange runes carved into its lid and horrific pictures of torture and death adorning the sides. The chest’s lid opened without a sound. Inside, Wrenn beheld many scrolls and texts, all with glowing runes dancing across the parchment. He lifted one of the scrolls and began to study the words, images of demons and fire searing into his mind.

The next morning, the citadel was in a state of panic. Strange noises had been heard during the night, the dawn sky was blood red, and now their gnomish visitor was nowhere to be found, though his gear was still in his room. Remembering his drunken slip of the tongue, Goram prayed that his guest was simply taking a morning walk outside the gates, but his heart told him differently. He summoned five of his strongest men and made his way to the tower. When he reached the highest room, there sat Wrenn, in a trance with fire in his eyes, unable to put down the scrolls he was feverishly studying.

“Master Gnome! This is a great evil you have committed this day! Put the scroll back in the chest and leave this place at once!”

“Leave? You must be joking. I cannot and will not leave. I have only just begun studying these runes. If you want me gone you will have to throw me out… if you can!”

“Oh how the evil has already worked itself on your poor mind. I fear what may have happened to you had we not gotten here sooner. I am sorry to do this, but you must leave at once.”

A jet of white light streamed from Goram’s hand, enveloping Wrenn. Wrenn tried with all his might to resist the magic, but in his tired and weakened state he was no match for the divine power this man wielded. He found himself being pulled out of the room by the light, as if he were tethered to a team of oxen. It was only when they were outside the gates that the light subsided.

“I’m truly sorry. Not for what I have done, but for the things you have done to yourself this night. May the light shine upon you and protect you.”
With that, the gates closed and Wrenn found himself alone once again.

“How dare they deny me this knowledge,” Wrenn thought to himself. There was no way he could just walk away and forget what he had seen. He made his way down the hill and stashed his gear just inside the forest line. There he waited until nightfall.

It was a simple thing to get back into the citadel. Under the cover of night, he could simply teleport himself through the gates. Then it was just a matter of waiting for the guards to switch so he could gain entrance to the tower. He would stay hidden in the tower for days at a time, stopping for nothing. At times he forced himself to break form the tomes to steal food and drink from the citadel kitchen, but his desire to understand this dark power was far greater than physical hunger.
For months, Wrenn continued in this fashion; studying at night, sleeping in the forest during the day if his body demanded it, all the while growing more and more powerful as the fires inside him burned hotter and hotter.

After a particularly long study session, Wrenn began to walk down the stairs towards the tower exit. In his state of exhaustion, coupled with his wandering mind, he forgot to use caution when passing through the door. The light of the mid-day sun burned his eyes, and he heard the shouts of men declaring that there was an intruder in their midst. When he was finally able to see once again, he found himself in the courtyard, strangely unfamiliar to him in the daylight. He was surrounded by men in brown robes, and in front of him stood Goram.

“I had hoped it would not come to this,” he said. “I had hoped that you had not been overly enticed by the evil that rests here. I see now that it was folly to believe such things. Look at yourself, Master Gnome. Look at what you have become. There is no hope for you anymore. Your soul has been lost to the Nine Hells. I have no choice to release you from this prison you have created for yourself.”
With that, he drew his sword and began to approach Wrenn.

“Release me? You fool! Do you know the power that is kept in that tower? Do you honestly think that you can stop me? You are but a man. I wield the power of the Compact Infernal! Perhaps it is my turn to remove you from this citadel.”

At this, Goram began to charge Wrenn, but stopped dead in his tracks. Four great demons appeared before Wrenn, Their bodies glowing red as if they were made of embers pulled from a forge of Therezdune. The points of their teeth and claws glistened in the mid-day sun, and in their eyes could be seen flames hotter than the fury of 1,000 restless souls. Each wielded a mighty fiery sword and a white hot dagger, as if they had just been pulled from the smith’s anvil.

“You think this scares me,” said Goram. “I have faced evil ten times greater than you. Your soul will burn for these atrocities!”

He charged the demons.

“For the Ligh…..”

His words were cut short. The demons were quick to react to this threat. They immediately surrounded him, thrusting their blades into his torso in unison. Boiling blood poured from Goram’s wounds as he fell to the ground. He tried to speak, but only liquid fire poured from his lips. Black spots began to appear on his body. They grew larger and larger until they too burst into flame. Goram’s body was being consumed by fire, from the inside out. There were no screams, no thrashing. A lifeless body being turned to ash was all that lay before Wrenn and his minions.

“Pathetic,” said Wrenn as he turned to face the rest of the men. “Does anyone else wish to remove me from these walls? Anyone at all?”

Silence fell over the citadel. No one dared follow in the shoes of their leader.

“Well then it is settled. I am not an unfair gnome. I wish for life here to continue as it always has, with one slight change. I am in charge now. No one enters these gates and no one leaves. If you feel that these are unfair terms, speak now.”
Silence continued to dominate the crowds.

“Excellent. I think I shall return to my studies. Have a meal brought up to me as soon as possible and bring my gear from the forest’s edge. Bar the gates and continue about your business. I do not want to be disturbed while I am studying. I am in a good mood right now, and I fear I may become agitated if I am disturbed. Are we clear?”

There was a mumbling of “yes” throughout the crowd as people scurried off to continue in their tasks.

For months, Wrenn ruled his tiny citadel with an iron fist. Fearful of his fiery touch and the blades of his minions, the men did not dare disobey their new master’s command. Wrenn spent all of his waking hours in the northern tower, pouring over the scrolls and tomes. Even when he had read them all, he began to study them once again. His desire to learn more grew alongside his immense power.
The men never bothered Wrenn while he was studying. It was the cardinal rule of the citadel. They would often hear mutterings of incantations, or moans of agony from behind the closed doors, but they dared not interfere. Perhaps that was why Wrenn was so irritated when he heard the chamber door open one morning.

“Who dares interrupt me? You know I am not to be disturbed!”

“Perhaps you would be willing to take a break to chat with an old friend?”

Wrenn whipped around at the sound of the familiar voice.

“Magini,” he exclaimed. “How have you been old friend? I have been searching for you for what seems like a year since the vision I had of your torture.”

“Aye, a miserable time that was. But I survived, as I always do. But it concerns me that it has taken you over a year to find me. I have not been difficult to find these past months, and in fact it is I that have found you, is it not? I fear that you are not being honest with me or yourself right now old friend.”

“You know, you make a good point,” said Wrenn. “How did you know I was here? I have not left these walls in some time, and the men here are busy with their work. They would not have had time to venture out to the nearest town…”

“I was contacted in a vision,” said Magini. “You underestimate the power of the servants you employ here. I was told that you were out of control and that only I could help them. Is this true? Are you the sadistic maniac they described or are you still my friend and apprentice?”

“Those insolent wretches! How dare they go behind my back and summon you here. I suppose they told you of the tomes as well then? Well, you cannot read them. Only great minds such as mine are capable of handling such power.”

“Great minds? Old friend, you are but a child in the ways of the divine. Do not be so hasty to call yourself a master. No one can master this devilry. This is evil magic. No good can come from this thing you have done.”

“And I suppose you will be the one to stop me then? Don’t make me laugh. I am a master of the Compact Infernal! The very essence of the Nine Hells flows through my veins. I am 100x the Invoker you are. Your powers are nothing compared to mine old man!”

With that, Wrenn let loose a fireball from his clutches. It flew across the room and was stopped by a beam of light emanating from Magini’s hand.

“You must pay for the evil you have committed here old friend,” said Magini. You know the law. All must atone for their sins. And no one is above the law. I do not take this burden willingly, but if I must be the one to stop you, then so be it!”

The light channeled from Magini broke through the fireball it held back and dashed across the room towards Wrenn, hitting him square in the chest, knocking him back against the wall.
When Wrenn got to his feet, it was no longer just him and Magini in the room. His fiery minions had appeared and looked towards the dwarf with hellish fervor. In a flash they moved in on him. Before Magini could react they had him surrounded. As they lifted their fiery swords, the room lit up in a flash as Magini disappeared. Bewildered, the demons looked at the spot where their prey had just stood. A great boom echoed in the chamber as the one of the minions was struck in the face with a bolt of lightning from across the room. As it disappeared back to his hellish plane of existence, the other three looked to see Magini standing in the doorway.

“Ahh, I see your powers have grown as well old friend,” said Wrenn. “But it will take more than teleportation to save you!”

As Magini bolted across the room towards Wrenn, great chains began to slither up through the floor like great pythons, attaching themselves to Magini’s feet. At that moment, the ground around the dwarf began to glow red and a white pillar of fire erupted around him. Over the roar of the flames could be heard the dwarf’s moans as his flesh began to burn. But Magini was tough. He gained his composure and began to chant. Without warning, a great serpent made of water appeared before him, it’s gaze fixed upon the remaining demons. It passed through the pillar of fire, quenching the flames as it did so, and struck at one of the demons. A great hiss could be heard as the creature swallowed the fiery minion, as if a blacksmith had plunged a fiery sword into the water to temper it. The serpent struck the other two demons with its tail, extinguishing one and knocking the other out the door. It then looked to Magini and dissolved away through the cracks of the stone floor.

Magini then looked to Wrenn. The time had come. Justice must be served. Light sprang from his hands and enveloped Wrenn, lifting the gnome into the air. The light seared the gnome’s mind as mortal pain wracked his body. But just at the moment he felt he could not endure it any longer, the light stopped, and Wrenn found himself being lowered to the floor. The fire had left the gnome’s eyes, and he felt a sense of peace that he had not known in many months. The room was spinning and he could barely see, but standing above him was Magini. As the dwarf knelt down and took Wrenn in his arms, tears began to stream down the gnome’s gaunt face.

“I am so sorry old friend. I knew not what I was doing,” said Wrenn. “I could not help myself. Oh the awful things I have seen and done… whatever shall I do to make things right again…”

“Fear not old friend, I am here for you, as I have always been. Together, we will begi…..”

But the dwarf’s words were cut short. A white hot dagger sprang from his mouth like the forked tongue of a fiery cobra. Wrenn’s only standing minion had come back into the room and finished his job, plunging his dagger into the back of Magini’s head. As blood poured from the dwarf’s mouth, spilling over Wrenn's face, the minion let out a deep fiery breath and whispered “the master’s task has been fulfilled.” It then disappeared back to its hellish plane of existence.

“Magini! No! Don’t go old friend, not like this!”

It was too late. The dwarf slumped forward as Wrenn struggled to free himself from his dead companion’s embrace. But he was too weak. The room was spinning even faster now. All was going fuzzy. Was it the Magic or the tears in Wrenn’s eyes? He did not know, nor did he care. He just laid there crying until the light took him and he fell unconscious.

Wrenn hoped that his dreams would bring him peace, but they didn’t. He had visions of demons, and fire, and the faces of all those that had fallen victim to the Nine Hells. Most of all he dreamed of Goram and Magini. How could he have done that to his friends? These were people that stood for goodness and righteousness, and he cut them down like weeds…

When he awoke, he found himself in his bedroom in the Citadel. He was clean, and there was a tray of hot food beside his bed. He devoured it with a hunger he had not known in a great while. How long had it been since he had eaten? A man entered and sat at the foot of Wrenn’s bed.

“How are you feeling Master Gnome?”

Too ashamed to look the man in the eye, he simply said “I am well, thank you.”

“Do not be ashamed Master Gnome. While we could not see the struggle in the tower, the entire citadel could hear what was happening. We know of your change of heart.”

“Then you also know the fate of my friend…” said Wrenn.

“Yes,” said the man, “it is truly an unfortunate turn of events. But now you can see why these tomes must be kept secret. They are too powerful and evil for any one man to possess. They drive you mad. No one can harness the full power of the Nine Hells without sacrificing some part of their soul, as I’m sure you now understand.”

“Aye,” said Wrenn. “It is for that reason that I must leave you. I know that I have been a monster this past year, and there is no way I shall ever be able to repay you for the cruelness I have made you endure, but I fear that, if I were to stay here any longer, the draw of the magic would pull me back in once again. I expect I shall never return to this place, but know that if you are ever in need of my services, please do not hesitate to send for my aid. It is the least I can do to repay you for your kindness and generosity.”

A few days later, Wrenn packed up his gear, summoned his phantom steed, and left the citadel. A cool breeze tussled his hair as he made his way down the hill. Without looking back, he passed into the forest and continued north.

After several weeks of traveling, he came upon the small and quaint farming town of Vernal. Interested in having a bit of time for reflection, he purchased a small cottage on the outskirts of the village. It is in Vernal that Wrenn’s old self truly began to come out again. He became quite popular at the pub, always greeting people with a friendly hello and a quick joke. He was able to continue his study of the arcane using the books he had gotten from Arath. And, although he felt that things were returning to normal, he found himself still hungering for the road. There must be some way he could pay for the evil he had committed. Some way to use this power he now possessed. Some way to control the inner fire and demons without letting it control him. Someway….
TK Player
Posts: 882
Joined: February 8th, 2010, 10:20 am
Character Name: Wrenn

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