Dearest Uncle and cousins,
I’m not entirely sure how to describe everything that’s happened, so I’ll just push through and hope that this makes sense. First, I want to warn you to be very cautious! Keep your eyes out for any strangers and try to watch the castle grounds closely. It might be worth warding the town against devils and possibly making an evacuation plan as well. The people of the grandewood have always been welcoming to us. We might need their help if things come to pass.
This might sound extreme, but I was shown vision of a terrible possible future. Considering that Bartholomew was the source of this, I am not inclined to take it as hard fact. It might be the case that he simply wanted to rattle me. In which he was successful.
My vision was this: I saw the forces of Asmodeus tear through our town. I saw Tobias and Uncle Touma dead. And I saw the Castle Von Slythe in it’s original form looming in the horizon. Indeed, I can’t explain all that happened, but it was my worst nightmare manifest. The only bright point was the appearance of Claire who instructed me to go to Wooley Bay as soon as possible and search for the “Red Sign of the pirate lord.” Please be wary and don’t hesitate to abandon Guardholme if Balthazar and Lianna come. Promise me you will do this.
In Hardby, we visited the Church of Heironeous where we learned very little about what the Red Sign might be. Jevan, however, had far more success talking to the Renee. The elder handed him a scroll with a stylized red mask drawn on it. A mask that looked very much like the one I saw in my vision. It seemed like a fine day to hunt for pirates.
Sir Christopher came to us with news that they had translated a critical section of the Von Slythe’s book. It seems there is much more going on than we had already uncovered. The words, and another odd vision I had, indicate the possibility that Bartholomew may have a bleak and blighted future in store for him. His dance with nightmares and fear may already be leading him down the path of the Mad God. Indeed, Sir Christopher hypothesized that Bartholomew might become a gateway for the Anathema.
With that disturbing revelation, Jevan and Marsys taught the rest of us some things about seafaring battles. Tulla and Jevan then began visiting the dockside bars to see if they might come across any of the crew members. They were in luck and found a man with the mark of the red mask. He seemed quick to drink and happy to tell them all about his wonderful captain. We were all puzzled by the glowing review of this man we were chasing. Though it appears he is a “bit of a ladies man” and “doesn’t like redheads.” An odd fellow, but one we desperately needed to find before our enemies did. The pirate was also quite loose with information regarding his ship. Something Jevan found useful. Eventually the sailor passed out, and Jevan made sure he had a safe place to sleep off his drink.
Sir Christopher used his position to gather us a small force and a good ship to hunt down the pirates. At first, things were quiet and we saw nothing for the first two days. I’m not a great fan of sailing, I have to confess. It’s rather dull. But the third day… that was not dull at all.
We came across a ship flying the Red Mask flag as it was boarding a merchant vessel. Our plan was to move in quickly to help the innocent ship, but as we approached it became decidedly clear we weren’t the only ones hunting for this pirate lord. Out of deep surfaced a ghost ship flying the crest of the Von Slythe’s with Bathlazar on the bow.
The battle was fierce, but the pirate lord was not as over matched as one might think. His skills were formidable and his ship protected by powerful magic. After the merchant ship fled the scene we managed to board and started fighting the undead that came swarming over. Unfortunately for us, a dark gate opened, and Bartholomew arrived with a ship wreathed in infernal flame. He seemed content to watch at first, seemingly amused by Balthazar’s inability to subdue his quarry.
There were a number of… odd occurrences during the fight. Balthazar attempted to use some sort of gaze ability on the pirate lord. I’m not sure just what it was intended to do, but decided to tackle the man out of the vampire’s line of sight. The first mate called a hasty retreat at this point. The captain shook himself free of whatever effect, and I left him to get to the ghost ship where the rest of my friends were headed. It was then that I realized the pirate had stolen my locket! Right from under my armor! I turned to look and saw him open it. There’s only one other person besides myself who knows how to do that… But I can’t be sure it wasn’t some trick of Bartholomew’s either…
Also, from Claire’s ring appeared Marcus Cannerly, the hallowed spirit from the Heroes of The Key. He used his powerful spells to drive away Bartholomew’s ship and the Vestige he summoned to fight us. I’m not sure what we would have done without his help, to tell the truth.
Even more bizarre was the timely rescue of a badly wounded Balthazar by Tulla’s twin sister, Tarren. Her possibly evil twin sister who worships Urdlen and thinks she’s somehow helping Tulla. I’m not completely clear on all that just yet. But she also made some kind of bargain with members of the Scarlet Brotherhood — who evidently worship the Mad God now. She brought a number of monks with her and tried to feed one to Balthazar to heal him. A timely shot by our group managed to discorporate the vampire and knocked the unfortunate monk into the water.
So, our enemies escaped, the pirate lord fled, one of his crew members gave me a map to their hideout, we discovered we have yet another enemy that we might need to try to redeem from her madness, and we still have to climb a tower of planes to get a mad magic book and a gem that steals souls. Simple, right? Of course not.
We decided to question our captive monk. Tulla somehow modified a spell to prevent him from speaking the true name of the Mad God, and he went on to tell us a number of useful, if distressing, things. As it turns out, something happened in the lands of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Their leader was overthrown and a stranger took his place. The description matched the frightening version of Bartholomew that I saw in my second vision. Complete with his mask melded into his flesh and long crow-like talons. Something was released from the Black Ziggurat that corrupted the Brotherhood members, twisting them further and driving them to worship the Chained God. It seems there are still some powerful monks who hide in the jungle and wage a guerrilla war. It also seems that they are led by one Father Sinclaire, the grandfather of Simon Rhola.
The monk admitted he had no idea why they were helping the cult of Asmodeus, but knew that there was a secret chapter in the Codex of Infinite Planes: A chapter of opening. Obviously the Brotherhood wants this book to free their dread god. He also believes that Incabulos is just a shadow of the Mad God. Something which rings as a possibility. Villius read from the monk’s journal that Tulla had been decoding a map that would lead to the Isle of Woe where the Codex was created. All things we need to investigate.
At this point we had the opportunity to speak to Marcus. He explained that Hallowed are able to move from one vessel to another, which was how he ended up in Claire’s ring. As it turns out, she is one too. Pelor had tasked Marcus with helping Claire complete her task and released the memories of his former life. He was the girl’s tutor and sacrificed his life to help her escape from her corrupt parents. Which lead to the revelation that Lianna has always been a dragon and might not have intended to become a vampire herself.
When Idrys questioned what the Von Slythe’s end goal was, Marcus confirmed that they intended to breed a host for a powerful devil. Though he was distressed to learn it was likely to be the Lord of all Devils, he knew that Balthazar had evidently ingested some of Asmodeus’s own blood. Apparently, he will have to be “sacrificed” to the host before they destroy the person’s soul to make room for Asmodeus. Marcus also believed that if the ritual was interrupted, it could definitely cause the kind of destruction we saw at Castle Von Slythe. It definitely seems our family’s sacrifice was well worth the price.
- Yours faithfully,