The Tahneddra Chronicles
Trials of Faustus the Demon-touched
On the present date, Khalis Tabernacle presents to the Council of Mellor a restored document. The document reads as such:
The Year of the Flame The once-unified continent of Fellor was divided at this time. The Elves of Massillon, the Dwarves of Girn, and the Humans of Elyria kept to themselves, refusing diplomatic relations, centuries of territorial friction and racial prejudice consuming them. Fellor was once strong, but divided it is weak. It was in this environment that the Father of Lies, Mephistopheles began to work his magic. Some scholars believe it was he who drove the races apart, though no evidence of this has come to light.
No one ever knew how the demons first entered the world, but it was clear the invasion truly began when the Archdevil Mephistopheles gained possession of the Seven Pillars and opened the gateway to the Hells. Quick, stealthy, and decisive strikes were made in ancient keeps within Massillon, Elyria, and Girn. Within these holds of knowledge, the demonic forces attained the Seven Pillars. It was later determined that the demons were seeking the blood of the lines of seven sages, who had each given his own blood to create the Gateway of the Seven Pillars, a portal to other planes of existence.
When the demons had in their possession six of the Pillars, blood of descendants of the seven sages, they set their eyes on the Seventh Pillar. It was rumoured the Seventh Pillar, like the other Pillars, was held within the ruins of an ancient keep in the centre of Elyrian territory. As Mephistopheles sent his forces to the keep, so the three great nations of Fellor detached their heroes.
These were the heroes, as they were called then: Of Elyria: Archbishop of Pelor and High Warlord of the Imperial Armies, Daedalus the Redeemd First Advisor, Faustus the Demon-touched General Lareth the Beautiful
Of Massillon: Lord Protector of Mithrendain, Ragnara Arcamenel Archmage Dimzool Cloaknipper Seeker of Massillon, High Priest of Vulkoor, Leader of the Drow, Quavfryn Kilrae
Of Girn: High Cleric of Girn and Moradin, Dothal Ironsledge Dwarven Defender, Thar Oathguard
A great battle was fought over the Seventh PIllar. Overcoming their hatred for one another, the Elves, Humans, and Dwarves fought as one to defend the Seventh Pillar. The onslaught of demons, devils, undead, and hordes of goblinoids were heroically held back, though they swarmed from the sewers, the forests, the skies, and the grave. It looked as if the forces of good would triumph, when the forces of Massillon showed their true colours. Led by the Lord Protector, the elves betrayed the dwarves and humans, handing the Seventh Pillar over to the demons. The blood of Dimzool Cloaknipper, the Seventh PIllar, was in the hands of Mephistopheles.
A few months later, the demonic invasion truly began. Swarms of demons and devils ravaged the lands of Fellor, led by the Demon Lord Graz’at. It was later known that the elves sought to preserve the elven way. Their pact with the Archdevil Mephistopheles and his demonic hordes backfired when the forests of Massillon were invaded as well.
The accounts of the heroes: Daedalus, after aiding in defeating a powerful lich, was murdered by Ragnara. Faustus stood with his troops, holding the eastern line. He lived and fled Elyria to the island surrounding Kalaas. Lareth was overrun when he separated from his brother Daedalus, a move that perhaps cost both their lives. Ragnara kept his pact with the Archdevil, fled the battle with his elves his tow. He returned to Mithrendain, a hero, but disappeared when the invasion turned to Massillon. Dimzool was stripped of all rank and power by Ragnara, false rumours spread that Dimzool had betrayed the elven nation. He was exiled. Quavfryn fell bravely to the undead scourge, single-handedly felling dozens of them in her furious wake. Dothal lived to tell his tale to his dwarven people, saving many of them when the invasion crushed the dwarven clans. It is assumed that he lives on today, leading the remnants of the dwarves of Girn. Thar was killed by furious dwarves, rumours say that he was a demon himself, manipulating Dothal and eventually betraying him.
This scholar was baffled by this story, gathered from several survivors. Elves making pacts with Archdevils, betraying all of Tahneddra? Demons and devils working together? I believe that the rumours of Asmodeus are true. The Archdevil turned god has ended the Blood War, uniting demon and devil. This explains why devils and demons worked together to invade Fellor and Kalaas. This knowledge is most important to the peoples of all of Tahneddra. Our world is in danger. Demon Lords and Archdevils assault the continents, with mass hordes of hellian minions behind them. The Supreme Master of the Nine Hells has his sights on us. This story must be told to all people. How can we save our world if we are so divided?
A steaming, boiling lump of meat, that once resembled a balor, falls to the Hells. Darkness invades, closing in about the powerful demon, only the ember-lit ground gives off light. Soot and poison fills the air, a reddish hazy smoke. A gasp emerges from the charred body, “Maaaaster…”
A flash of searing fire and light, brings forth the balor’s master. A man nearing eight feet tall, muscled red skin, shaggy black hair, crooked black horns protruding from the skull, steps into the light, grinning wickedly. An air of sophistication surrounds him. An aura of intelligence and malevolence moves with him. He is the Father of Lies. He is Mephistopheles.
His voice is cool and sophisticated, “Tsk tsk, balor, you bleed on my carpet. Failure again?”
The mass of dying demon stirs, “Dwarves, elves, humans, all fighting us, master. I barely survived, and the Seventh Pillar is ours.”
A corner of Mephistopheles’ mouth twitches. He narrows his eyes, and says, “Silly, balor, the blood is for the Supreme Master. Well done. I will let you off easy.”
Coughs and blood come from the injured demon, as Mephistopheles turns to leave. “As your reward, you will be blessed with a taste of my hellfire.”
The balor’s eyes widen and he struggles to stand, but he is enveloped with the black and red flames of hellfire. A steaming pile of soot remains, but is soon swept up to be lost in the drifting smoke.
Minutes later, Mephistopheles silently approaches a colossal throne of bone and blood. The throne is darkened with shadow, its base and arms barely showing. The Father of Lies likes the darkness, he moves within it so fluidly, so quietly. Soft steps he takes to catch by surprise the one on the throne.
“Speak, Mephistopheles.” A voice booms from the height of the throne, over a hundred feet up.
The Archdevil narrows his eyes, and curses under his breath. He kneels and lowers his head, “Great and Powerful Asmodeus, I bring you the Seventh Pillar.”
A deep laugh echoes through the cavernous room, reverberating from blackness to blackness, “The time has come for Tahneddra to bow down to the Supreme Master of the Hells.”
A colossal face looms in the shadow, looking down at Mephistopheles. Great horns, sharp and thin, extend from Asmodeus’ skull. He is a handsome devil, his skin as red as his underling’s. His eyes glow a fierce yellow, and he strokes the point of his night-black beard.
He speaks with the authority of a god, “Mephisopheles, most powerful of my servants, you covet my throne. Why were the dwarves of Girn present at the battle for the Seventh PIllar? Your devil let them know. Your spy led them to it. You wanted the blood for yourself. You almost cost us the Seventh Pillar!”
A sonic boom cracks through the air as Asmodeus’ voice rises.
With a lowered head, Mephistopheles flinches, only slightly, and he maintains his smooth composure, “My apologies, my lord.”
The colossal face of Asmodeus sinks back into the darkness, “Finish the gateway and open the portal. The invasion begins soon.”
Months later, the gateway is complete. It is a deep well, descending beyond this world. Seven symbols marked in the blood of the seven Pillars form a ring around the well’s edge. Mephistopheles looks down into the darkness, and laughs, “This should be fun. Right, Faustus?”
He glances over his shoulder at the bald warlock, who’s black cloak flaps about in the wind. The human nods, “Yes, my leige.” Dark worry is evident in his eyes.
Mephistopheles points at Faustus, “Your line will never stop us. Idokka will never reach this gateway alive.” He shouts to the cultists to being their chants. In hours the skies darken, the winds howl, and demons pour from the Seven Pillars into the world of Tahneddra.
“I saw how you betrayed us all at the Battle of the Seventh Pillar. I saw how your people were lulled into a false sense of security. I know how you murdered Daedalus and tricked your own kin, Cloaknipper. I know you, Ragnara.”
“You know nothing of what it takes to preserve a culture far older and far wiser than your own,” the dark-haired eladrin replied and turned his back on his accuser, his thoughts dwelling on dark times. “Look at them. The valley swells with their repulsive numbers. Their howls of evil this world has not known pierce the sky. Their laughs of glee chill our bones and invade our dreams. Their leaders are more than mere blood-thirsty beasts. They are thinkers, philosophers, intelligent beings. Surely you can appreciate that. They divide and subdue us, demoralize and enslave us. You Elyrians know this most of all. What did they do to your lands? Obliteration of all you held dear, your horded knowledge and wealth turned to dust. The world is less because you failed to preserve that which is most precious, that which makes humans who they are. As for us, elves, our way will live on, preserved through this bloodshed.”
The two men stand above a great valley, where demon armies advance. Deep in Massillonian territory, the heart of the elven nation, Mithrendain. The Lord Protector watches the enemy advance. His hair has streaked with white since his parley with the demonic lords, his face grown older with worry, his heart heavier with guilt. He is lost within his own thoughts.
Ragnara once found a large ant hill behind his family’s home. When the sun was just right, the leaves green and lush, and the skies clear and blue, hours were spent observing the ants scurry about their business. He was reminded of this now. He always loved to guess what role each ant played. Was that one a soldier? Was that one a carrier? A line of ants was fascinating, but a swarm of ants defending its home was a fearful sight, fearless of anything in their wake. The demons didn’t look much different than that from this height. If only he could step out and crush them…it was too late for that. They had betrayed the pact he forged with them, and now he was forced to preserve the elven way in a more desperate manner.
He turns back to the human and says, “Faustus, today I have come to fully understand the prophecy that is linked with your family, that one of your line is to become the Chosen One to end Tahneddra’s woes.”
The warlock smirks at Ragnara, “Do not presume to change the subject, Ragnara. In the name of all Elyrians, I have come to gain vengeance. Elyria was destroyed because of your betrayal and you will accept your just retribution for your sin.”
Faustus was a survivor, he always had been. Even when the demons ravaged the human homelands, he escaped and lived on, carrying with him the burden of the hatred of thousands of human souls, the rage of thousands of betrayed innocents. Months he spent working his way north, into Massillon, months of hiding and skulking, tracking and seeking, until, finally, he had caught up with Ragnara Arcamenel, the man who had betrayed Tahneddra to the Father of Lies. He would hear him out, let him beg or plead, argue or apologize, but, in the end, he would kill him, because that is what he knew and understood.
The eladrin and the human stood face to face on that hill, winds pounding against their bodies, the sky overhead darkening as the invasion below them closed in on the fey mithril walls of the mystical city of Mithrendain.
Ragnara’s face suddenly grew tired and sad, and he turned to gaze upon his city one last time. As he did, the warlock’s power came to life, the powers of infernal beings called upon to bring justice to a traitor. As fire and darkness encased the eladrin, a silvery beam shot from him to the towers of Mithrendain and back out to Faustus’ heart. Both Ragnara and Faustus screamed for what seemed like an eternity, their minds melding together, thoughts and memories flashing between their minds. Then a flood of thoughts and feelings, the minds of a million elves singing out in sorrow and fear. Ragnara crumpled to the ground in a heap. Faustus dropped to one knee. The demons howled with fury as the essence of all that is elven faded away before their eyes, preserved until time released it.
The morning air was fresh and the sea calm, with only a soft breeze pushing the ship forward. Seagulls fluttered overhead, as some of the sailors pulled fish over the railing.
“Not far to land now,” the burly one said.
The sailors cheered despite themselves, and Faustus smiled to himself. He was always amazed how these simple men continued on when their world had crashed around them. He had been with them since they had fled Fellor, leaving the demonic invasion behind. Though many weeks later, the journey had been very peaceful for Faustus, the simplest his life had ever been. Even the voices in his head had been silent, until last night.
They had returned to him suddenly and jarringly. Asleep in his bunk, he fell and hit the floor with a gasp. They screamed and laughed at him, mocking him mercilessly. His time was short, he had learned. His demonic pact had given him immense power. His knowledge of demons and his abilities to summon them, control them, and use their powers was unmatched in all of Fellor, perhaps the world. At a cost, he had gained these powers, and now the Demon Lord was coming to collect his due. Graz’zt would find him and take back what was his. His time was short.
Faustus leaned over the railing as land came into sight. The Feradessian islands, why would anyone come here? The islands were polygamous and uncivilized, filled with wild magic and creatures of mystery and myth. It reminded him of something from a story book.
He wondered if she would still be here. She must be. Would she be pleased to see him? Would she have moved on? Would she even know him?
“Faustus? Is that really you? You shouldn’t have come back. You shouldn’t have. I have…another.”
“There’s nothing for you here. Why have you come?”
“Idokka doesn’t know who you are.”
“If he ever wonders who his real father is, give him this stone, and tell him I was a good man…please.”
“Did you think you could run? Did you think you could hide from the all-powerful Graz’zt?” the demon lord roared with laughter, tossing the bald man against a wall.
Blood sputters out of his mouth as the man retorts, “I knew what I was doing, demon.”
“Your soul will join me in hell, Faustus the demon-touched, ha, if only they knew. Did she still love you or had she found another?” The demon watched the pain in his prey’s eyes, “We’ll find your son, and we’ll bleed him until he surrenders the Feystone. Then, I’ll let him know who his father really was.”
Faustus spit upon the demon’s hand as he was lifted into the air, his neck encircled by a hideous claw, “May you forever rot in…” The warlock’s words were lost as the demon lord crushed the life from him with a slow and agonizing squeeze.
With a laugh, Graz’zt tossed the lifeless corpse to the ground, “I’ll see you in Hell soon enough, warlock, but for now I must crush a city and its pitiful Helmite defenders.”
A satisfied smile shows on the face of the spirit of Faustus, as Graz’zt’s avatar crumbles to the ground dying. The demon lord howls in pain and anger, partly for his defeat, but mostly for the loss of the soul he had waited so long to acquire.