Hyperborea Rising

Zelgius' Journal - Entry 4
Swallowing was a mistake

After my discovery that the ingested artefact only creates mindless undead I thought it best to seek help. Naturally I turned to Julian and not just because he could heal whatever wounds were caused by my efforts to extract the offending object. However, it did not go well. I was in a wooden box about to tell him when… I just couldn’t. My mind began to swim as I lost concentration and then I heard my voice talking. I was telling him I had feelings for him. Impure thoughts. I was mortified and could hear chuckling from somewhere in my mind.

I tried to tell him next morning during our prayers but it only got worse. I started propositioning him. A lot. I wasn’t even that subtle. At least I looked different, it felt slightly less embarrassing. I’m going to keep trying until I tell the truth. I’m sure it’ll be easy to explain that the devil is inside me but we can remove him in a much more straightforward and physical sense rather than this endless praying. Also I think I did a good while with Julian. I may be a heathen but I’m not a heretic like the inquisitor turned out to be. We were both quite taken aback by that.

Anyway after that we went off to kill the ants. And there was the damn lantern merchant as well. Not sure why he came but he turned out to be rather helpful with his pyromancy. It was going well until a giant elephant came back from the dead. Just another reason to be rid of this damn artefact. It does keep promising to help bring Lazarus back but at this rate it’ll kill me first.

Then Faustus apparently went senile for a bit thinking he was a legionnaire in a long past war. Takes all kinds I suppose. But then he charged through a goddamn wall. Admittedly he did find a profane shrine that reminded me all too well of my own abhorrent past. Those children were at least cremated. That’s at least some dignity in death. I didn’t even grant my victims such courtesy. Maybe there’s a reason Lazarus and I are suffering now. If any were to deserve it, it would be us.

After dealing with the guards and dividing the treasure we ventured forth trying to find the damn queen and putting an end to this. Finding her nest we proceeded to overthink our approach before immediately charging in screaming and killing her. We tracked down the last of ants and went back to town. Perhaps tomorrow I can tell him. Swallowing was a mistake.

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Journal of Faustus - 3
Renovatio Imperii

Excellent news! We have joined the expedition to restore rightful rule to Africa. However we are not travelling and fighting with the main army but instead acting more as “problem solvers” for the areas the army has passed through. Zelgius originally signed us up as a mercenary band but apparently they were looking for those trained in steppe horse archery, a skill set we sorely lack. Narses himself seems to have found use for us though so it all turned out well.

Speaking of Zelgius, whilst I waited at the inn for a messenger to arrive informing us of our appointment I noticed that the necromantic energy was still an issue. This combined with new developments regarding my abilities led me to deduce that this perhaps wasn’t just an issue of lingering energies. The only lead I had to go on was that during the original incident in the crypt only Alexander and Zelgius were ever out of my sight. Given that Zelgius wears a demon and I can’t actually communicate with Alexander I was left with only one method of inquiry. To his credit Zelgius was rather forthcoming when I asked him, to the point of showing me the ink vial he was currently storing the blood of Karzaak in. I was about to chastise him and warn him that what he was doing was exceedingly dangerous when as if to prove my point Alexander walked in. A close call to be sure. I’m not sure what has become of the sample now but I sternly told Zelgius to deal with it in one manner or another as I would not suffer that sample contaminating the food supply for the army. No incidents so far which is a good sign. I’m rather suspicious of why he has such a sample but he invested a great deal of trust in me showing me it so I will repay in kind, even going so far as to offer my aid in this issue should he require it.

As for our current work, we’ve been tasked with destroying a nest of giant ants who are threatening the food supply from the local area. Initial scouting and engagement has been promising so a full assault should be launched soon.

I spoke earlier of developments in regards to my powers and this one is quite exciting. In addition to being able to “push” for more favourable outcomes whenever there’s a fork in outcomes, now I can vaguely sift through different times for information. The process is strange to say the least and mentally taxing but the utility is to great to deny. My main concern however remains how exactly has this power come about and at what cost. I have already lost full use of one of my legs, what else will I lose?

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Zelgius' Journal - Entry 3
Team Incompetent Rises

So we discovered there was an expedition setting off to Africa to deal with some usurper. Normally I wouldn’t care in the slightest but Faustus made little effort to contain his horror at the developments but also his giddiness at the prospect of joining the expedition. I set off to the military headquarters to add our names to the list of mercenaries available to the venture. I had never done this and I’m not sure what I was expecting to be honest. They wanted cavalry and so far I’m unaware of any in our group capable of riding a horse. I suppose the druid could ride that terrifying tiger but that’s all I know of. Then I was asked if we were archers. With the exception of the troll which vanished, no. Then the clerk asked what the name of our mercenary group was. At this I froze thinking this really should be a group decision but for some reason thought I’d tease Faustus and named us Team Incompetent. He won’t even realise, I doubt he’ll ever bother to learn Hyperborean.

With that dealt with I informed the group that if we’re needed someone would arrive to order us to embark for the journey. Settling in to wait I ordered dinner to discover that this reanimated food business wasn’t going away and that they were going vegetarian. Normally I wouldn’t mind but in this new form I found myself craving meat… all the time. Maybe it’s the fangs, they are somewhat more carnivorous. But it seems that the necromancy seeps out continuously so I can only manage half a meal before it goes off. I’ll have to eat either more quickly or less meat. So I made my way through restaurant after restaurant until something caught my eye. The inquisitor quite visibly casting detect magic. Repeatedly. Everywhere. So I took the long way round to avoid him. Admittedly I’m covered in magic at this point, wearing two magical items along with an eidolon but I don’t need anymore trouble than this is worth.

Heading back to the inn we were staying at I was not surprised to see Faustus, eyes glued to the entrance hoping to receive orders. I began writing in my journal, keeping track of my thoughts which are increasingly being muddled with various inputs. One being Lazarus who is determined not to get found out. Another being Karzak who keeps promising me power and a way to bring Lazarus back, not that he tells me any actual method to attain this. Just constant promises. The final one is an unknown… I feel it knows more and is more powerful than I can possibly understand. Although it’s suggestions are just various spending choices.

My writing and thoughts were interrupted by Faustus asking me if I knew anything about the necromantic influence going about the town. To which I immediately pulled out the blood and told him I had been researching it (neglecting to say that said research had been listening to the voice emanating from it). As Faustus was in the middle of telling me off none other than the inquisitor walked in. Swiftly putting back the inkwell I went back to my work. The inquisitor then came over and asked if he could borrow some ink to write some letters. I passed him some of my spare ink and continued my work, he seemed to give up on his investigation at this point. But it did make something apparent. This wasn’t acceptable.

With an inquisitor on the prowl, Faustus telling me I can’t ruin his chance to restore Rome and the inevitable guilt trip from Julian, I had to do something. It was at this point one of the voice perked up, mentioning a lead vial. It would be hard to detect the magic, and meant I could… keep it on my person. After brief contemplation I set off to do the deed. As n experiment I treated myself to dinner and was again disappointed as my dinner tried to kill me.

The next day we set off having been informed by someone of great importance (apparently) that we’d be useless on the battlefield but could be of use to restore order to newly reconquered territories. We left and after weeks of travel in which I mostly kept to myself, and away from the meat storage not wanting to doom the expedition to starve we arrived at our first destination. We were told there were some giant ants to deal with. What could go wrong?

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Journal of Faustus - 2
Skeletons

Collecting the bounty from the office went smoothly and thankfully the group was interested in more work. We were in luck, a nearby church was looking for a group of capable adventurers for discreet work. I’m not sure I would go as far as to say we were capable but the job sounded within our abilities. Arriving at the church we were briefed on the job. The restful dead in the nearby crypt were becoming increasingly restless, we were to find the source of the problem and deal with any undead we came across. After the priests exorcised Zelgius for being foolhardy enough to wear a demon into a church we went made ready for the coming day’s excursion.

The venture was rather simple at first as we dealt with the mindless skeletons that assaulted us, especially with Julian drawing their attention with what I can only presume to be scripture given his character and the zeal with which he chanted. We were lucky however that when entering the room with 50 non-animated corpses that the source did not animate them all to kill us. Despite our previous success with the goblins, I imagine we would fare much worse in that encounter. With the small number of undead that were reanimated vanquished we were treated to the sound of what would later be revealed to be Zelgius stealing a hat from a corpse. Admittedly it was a rather striking hat, probably magical but stealing from the restful dead usually ends in being cursed by the gods for desecrating graves. He however seem to return it, feeling remorseful so I suppose it ended well. Although Julian did posit a ridiculous hypothesis about that hat that is so stupid I dare not repeat it. Perhaps I was a bit harsh.

Moving on we eventually discovered the source of the problem (as well as some ancient secret of some sort I am sure, plenty of time to investigate that dragon effigy later). There was a shrine to that damnable lich Karzak and more importantly a vial of his blood which surged with necromantic power. To think, worshippers of the Destroyer of Rome exist here in the heart of what remains of that great empire, it fills me with disgust. After extensive negotiations it was arranged that the priest of Karzak would remove all necromantic energy from this place and take the vial of accursed blood back to his superiors. It was not a compromise made lightly but it was ultimately necessary. I even saw the ritual with which he channelled all the necromantic energy in the crypt into the vial. The ritual itself was fascinating and I made what notes I could on the process. Ever since my magical ability unlocked I have been quite eager to find any information concerning magic and the gods that I can. Although I do lack the background to make any conclusions on my notes thus far. On necromancy as a whole I can see the use of such a practice, just imagine resurrecting long dead legions, wise emperors and other greats of a Rome since past. What knowledge and skills they possess that would be of great use to us now.

With a job adequately done we picked up our payment and retired to a local inn to relax. After a couple of hours toasting our success something rather curious happened. The headless chickens in the kitchen began to struggle as they reanimated. We made sure to confirm this was a localised event, which it was. I imagine it was the result of remaining in close proximity whilst the ritual occurred, most likely some necromantic energy has “stuck” to us as it were. It should subside, although if it persists I’ll look into my notes and see if there is something that can be done about it.

In another news, the vandal king of North Africa has been overthrown and replaced with one considerably less amiable to Constantinople. From what I understand this cannot be allowed to happen. Dare I say, Renovatio Imperii?

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Zelgius' Journal - Entry 2
Temptation

Our journey into the crypt was one I won’t forget anytime soon. Immediately I could sense the necromantic power at work. Although relatively weak it surrounded us and permeated the air we breathed. As always Julian took point with myself following his lead. I decided I’d try to do right by the man. He was putting his trust in us to do what needed to be done while he bore the brunt of our enemies attacks. Anyone willing to do that is deserving of respect at the very least.

As we made our way through the catacombs we were assaulted by weak, mindless undead. Such creations are abhorrent. Although technically not against my creed it leaves a sour taste. Condemning others without choice seems wrong. Efficient. But wrong. We pressed on eventually coming across an area free from the corruption. Here we found a blessed artefact belonging to a Saint. We all unanimously agreed to leave it where it should rest.

Pressing on we came into a large room with upwards of fifty bodies strewn on the floor. Ignoring them we searched to rooms surrounding this central one. Finding two magical auras we agreed that these belonged to the dead and were not ours to take. But when the dead began to animate my curiosity got the better of me and I opened the sarcophagus that contained the transmutation aura to find a Hyperborean officers hat.

As I picked it up to take it I became aware that in fact fifty skeletons had not risen and assaulted our party but five. And they hadn’t made enough noise to cover my raiding of a corpse. So one barrage of guilt trips later I put it back, then we all discussed what we thought it was. Turns out it was a hat of disguise self. Would have been useful. Julian commended me on doing the right thing in the end. Although I think he was more concerned that my act had made everyone question their morality and whether or not we should take such items as we make our way. It struck me what I had done. I had broken two rules and committed three sins in one act. I’m not sure what penance will be required for this but I will do it. Such a mistake in judgement can not go unpunished.

Making our way further we game to a hall that went in a circle with seemingly no way to progress except to go door by door through every family grave. This seemed to be both disrespectful and a waste of time. Although it took us quite a while to come up with a solution until after we had been arguing for quite some time I began reading the names on the graves to try and find an odd one out. Eventually coming across it I suggested we knock to be polite. I’ll be damned if I broke any more sinson this excursion.

We were met by an intelligent undead who was telling barefaced lies and giving enough sass to count as having sinned at least thrice. Enough to push two religious zealots into smiting without staining my soul further. He was swiftly dispatched despite being prepared for a fight he was no match for us. By his post we found he was a scholar having read a variety of philosophical works which Faustus immediately took for himself. Only the Inquisitor Alexander made an objection but was quickly silenced when he gave his reasoning of censorship.

We burst into the final chamber to find an acolyte of a death cult preparing a ritual and a vial containing something emanating necromantic power. It was at this point we noticed the undead. As battle commenced I soon found myself surrounded by them. Initially I thought I could take them but could feel Lazarus’ and my power waning swiftly. Thankfully the battle was ended prematurely as the cultist asked if we were even capable of civilised conversation to discuss this.

As he was explaining that the vial contained the blood of the dracolich that brought down Rome the Inquisitor took the opportunity to take control of the situation in our favour and took the vial. Threatening to break it if the cultist didn’t comply with our demands. Beginning to think my first judgement of his character was wrong I was somewhat taken aback as he then demanded some of the philosophy works from Faustus. Myself and Ji refused to translate his demands into latin for Faustus to understand simply glaring at him.

At this juncture the cultist informed s that the blood corrupted all that was good and touched it. I volunteered to hold the blood as o the others I’m already corrupted so I had nothing to lose. Julian voiced his grievances saying I was on a path to recovery and I shouldn’t risk it. But he relented as I assured him it was for the best, not to mention I wanted it away from the inquisitor before he made another demand.

I had anticipated it to tempt me but I guess my desires were closer to the surface of my mind than I expected. I immediately heard it. A soothing, calming voice promising me all I ever wanted. Respect from my peers. The chance to repay my family and do right by them. And above all else to bring him back. To have him return to me.

I know anything that seems too good to be true usually is but how could I not take the opportunity. All it asked was that I keep it. But the others wouldn’t understand. They’d think I was going to use necromancy, but I have grander designs. I had to find some way of keeping some of the blood for myself. It wouldn’t even be a sin, it was technically it’s own owner and cried out to be relieved by me. I asked the inquisitor if we could go into another room to discuss what we should do with the cultist. Taking the bait he agreed.

I made up some plan to get him to complete his ritual to remove the necromancy, by taking something valuable of his while he took the blood. While we discussed this I slipped as much of the blood into an inkpot as I could without risking discovery. Anything to keep it’s guidance I suppose.

Rejoining the group we completed the ritual and the cultist left with his relic while we announced we had dealt with the necromancy. After receiving our reward we retired to an inn for the evening to celebrate. It was at this point that the chickens in the kitchen began moving despite being beheaded. I’m sure I’ll be able to find some way to keep this under wraps…

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Zelgius' Journal - Entry 1
Judgement

Traveling to Constantinople took up the vast majority of my funds leaving me with little else other than my equipment. With little experience in just about anything all I could really apply for would be a teaching post but who here would give that to a Hyperborean? So I went to the bounty office to find some work, after all we are quite strong together.

There I met an… eccentric group. A Roman who can’t speak the more common tongue who refers to the others as barbarians. A kitsune from China who doesn’t even know how to pronounce the name of his own country. A troll who is straightforward if nothing else. And then there’s the inquisitor and paladin. The inquisitor is ok I guess, he doesn’t cause me any issues. The paladin is a whole other issue.

Once on the road and out of town I summoned Lazarus, because if caught in an ambush on my own I’d be little more than helpless. So the paladin threw holy water at me and began demanding Satan reveal himself. It was kind of hurtful but I suppose this is what facing ignorance is.

We ventured on once the paladin realised the rest of the group weren’t backing him up. Coming up to the cave entrance we made short work of the goblin guards. Then the troll and I found an unconscious guard and quickly and efficiently dealt with him. The paladin berated us. Again. Adding to this dilemma the inquisitor ordered him to begin reciting verses from the bible. He was loud if nothing else.

Rousing whatever soldiers remained we found ourselves beset on all sides by upwards of 40 goblins as they came towards the rather loud chanting of our paladin. Somehow surviving we retreated to recuperate and regroup. Before charging right back in again.

Defeating the leader and the remnants of his guards we left with his head. Claiming the reward, along with the loot from his cave. We all considered going our separate ways but took on another job with the church. It went as well as could be expected. Lazarus was banished and I was told off. I just about remained civil as we left the church. Today we go into the crypts to search for the cause of the necromantic magic.

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Journal of Faustus - 1
New Job

Went down to the bounty office looking for a job to soothe my money troubles. I can scarcely believe it myself, to be brought so low shames me but unless there’s another pagan revival I doubt my dialogues bring me any gold. Only bounty available was on the leader of a tribe of goblins harrassing travellers . Seemed to me to be far too much for myself to take on alone (while I do take care to practice with my gladius everyday I hardly consider myself a master swordsman) so I decided to join up with the others in the office.

They are certainly an interesting lot although no true Romans amongst them. Only got to chat with the Hyperborean (polite chap, brought wine, worshipped a demon apparently) and the scholar from the far east (A chinese scholar all the way out here? Fascinating.) as they are the only ones who actually speak Latin. Even they are difficult to understand with their strange accents and dialects. Don’t know much of the others. One, a troll I think, unnerves me somewhat with such strength but precision as well. Another, a zealot of YHWH and his carpenter son, carries two great shields into battle deflecting almost any blow. I can’t say much of the final, I think he has something to do with the church of YHWH but I honestly cannot be certain.

Had rather mixed fortunes on the job itself. Our first foray almost ended in absolute defeat as the shield zealot louded started speaking what I can only assume to be verses from his holy book given the fervor of his chanting and alerted the entire camp. Honestly I blame myself for not leading as a true Roman should and setting up a defensible position. We were swarmed by inumerable goblins and defeat seemed certain. Not being of much use in a melee (and my recent… injury not helping matters) I instead focused on using my powers as much as possible. Rather fascinating seeing all those strikes and lethal blows and then with a slight “push” seeing them miss their mark. I am certain now there is great potential in this ability and I should exercise it as one exercises ones body in the gymnasium.

Our second assault went much better, although we did accidently collapse a tunnel attempting to smoke them out of their entrenched position. All that remains now is to gather the spoils and turn over the leader’s head.

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