Untitled DocumentJerid was frustrated. He had been kept prisoner for over three months by these lunatics–doomsday cultists–calling theselves The Cult of Exquisite Agony. They had kidnapped him right out from under his father’s home. Had told him that he was some prophesied “Tamil-Weks” or messiah of sorts of theirs who was destined to bring about the destruction of the world and usher in the next age. Yea, right. And Shaden is the the king of the orcs!
At least they had been keeping him busy while they had him captive. For all they said he was some savior they sure treated him more like a prisoner. They gave him an opportunity to fight every day. At least he got the satisfaction of beating the stuffing out of a few of them before they would eventually blast him with arcane or psionic energy or simply beat him into submission with overwhelming force. Unfortunately many of the cultists seemed dulled to pain and so Jerid could strike them again and again and they would just laugh as if they rather enjoyed the experience. Further, they were able to take the pain the ought to have been feeling and turn it back on Jerid causing him to reel in pain himself. He was slowly starting to learn to overcome the pain himself but their technique was clearly one that was not easy to master.
They were forcing him to memorize their stupid apocrypha. Every time he had a “training session” they would make sure that he learned a new verse from their book of secrets. He would try to forget but they were quite effective in pain management and so he found that he was rmembering their lessons regarless of his intentions.
Occasionally they seemed to be performing tests on him. One time they put some kind of tadpole like creature under his skin. If felt like it was burning as it traveled through his body. When it got to his head he felt sure his head was going to explode but instead suddenly the pain went away and the cultists seemed very pleased.
Another time they injected what looked like liquid fire into his blood. This too felt like it was burning at first but eventually it subsided into a comforting warmth and again the cultists were pleased. What was even more strange was that after that experiment Jerid found out that he was starting to spontaneously exhibit bursts of arcane power. During one of the “training” sessions he started radiating an aura of fire that caused his attackers to burst into flame. The trainers were extremely pleased at that. They also seemed to think that if they prodded him enough that he might be able to consciously direct the energy as well.
In the third hour of the third day of the third month of his captivity an “instructor” ne guard came to get him for his training lesson, “Today is a very special day, O Holy One. I am greatly honored to bring you to your destiny. Please accompany me, Tamil-Weks.”
Jerid sneared, “Like I have any choice. Lead on. What makes today so special?”
The cultist bowed his head, “You are to recieve the blessing of Holy Renewal, Tamil-Weks.”
Jerid shrugged, “Whatever. Long as I get to beat the snot out of you all.”
As they walked Jerid was reminded of his dream from the night before. It had been move vivid than most and there had been signs in it that now seemed to be coming to fruition.
In the dream he had been walking on a snow covered plain searching for something. There trapped frozen just under the waters of an icy lake was his mother. He tried to break the ice but it was too thick. A fey woman appeared next to him. She offered to help him if he gave her a kiss. Embracing the fey creature, Jerid exchanged a passionate kiss with the beautiful woman. At once his mother was freed and the two of them were walking in the gardens at their home discussing the attacks on Overlook and how Shaden was becoming a famous hero. His mother kissed him on the forehead and told him how proud she was that he had finally won his father’s approval and was taking over the family business. He turned at the sound of laughing and saw Shaden Maxyzne sitting on his lap in a bar drinking and making fun of his dream to become owner of the mine one day. The two held a long passionate kiss and then Maxyzne blew a kiss at Jerid and told him to keep his dream as it was the only way he’d ever be owner of the mine. He was back on the frozen plain with the fey creature and was aware that he was in a dream this time.
“What are we doing here, mistress?” Jerid asked.
“You think this is just a dream. But I want you to realize that it is more. Dreams have substance. They have reality. When you awake you will slowly start to forget this dream,” she replied, “But I am going to give you a sign. When you see the sign you will recognize the power of dream and remember.”
“They will give you a blessing called the Holy Renewal and when you hear of it you will at first think nothing of it but then you will remember this converstation.”
“Why? Why am I having this dream?”
“You have accepted my kiss.
We have sealed a bargain; to reneg would be remiss.
It is binding in the land of waking as it is in the land of dream.
But things are not always as they seem.”
They entered a chamber that Jerid had not seen before. It was a large chamber that was clearly a temple of some sort. The central feature was a an sculpture of a large eye surrounded by writhing purple tentacles. In front of the statue was an altar still wet with blood. The priest was standing next to the altar and was cleaning off a dagger on his robe while other cultists stood around the edges of the room chanting. There was a cloying incense in the room that was both sickly sweet and nauseatingly acrid at the same time. It made Jerid’s eyes water and his nose itch.
As they led him to the altar he considered his chance in trying to take out everyone in the room as it looked like they were about to offer him up as a sacrifice. He could probably take out at least half of the cultists, though the leader was a wild-card.
The leader approached Jerid and holding the dagger in one hand held out his other hand, “Give me your hand, Tamil-Weks.”
Jerid held out his hand and the cultist spat onto the dagger and then cut the symbol of an eye into Jerid’s hand. Then leading Jerid to a table at the side of the room he motioned to the items laying on the table an orb, a tome, a staff and a wand, “Pick one.” Not sure what he was picking them for Jerid picked up each one in turn and felt a tingle of arcane power in each one, but kept the staff realizing that he could use it as a weapon if things got ugly like he had a feeling they might.
Led back to the altar he was wrapped in cloth that had a slight smell of death to it. Probably my funeral wraps he thought to himself.
The cultist looked at Jerid, “O Holy One, I know you doubt your destiny but that is of no consequence. You have been chosen. You will usher in the next great age. You will bring death, destruction and change to the world. You will be the agent of growth. For only in change are we saved from stagnation which is true death.Today I name you Jerid Tamil-Weks, Agent of Chaos, Servant of Grithstane, Emmisary of Darklens, Iris of the Elder Elemental Eye, Agent Provocateur of the Age of the Dragon-King.”
Jerid just shook his head and laughed, “You people are crazy. I am Jerid Maximillion and I control my own destiny thank you very much. You may hold the cards right now, but sooner or later I’m going to bust out of this joint and give you all the can of whupas you deserve.”
The cult leader smiled and said, “We shall see; we shall see.” Turning he commanded, “Start the ceremony, bring out the sacrifice.” Jerid was apparently not the sacrifice and was led back over to the table where the implements were laying. Two more cultists brought out a robed individual who was chained down to the altar. The cultists began their ceremony. As they did Jerid considered what he could do to disrupt their ceremony. He couldn’t just stand there and let them sacrifice someone in cold blood. He started walking toward the altar wondering if he would be stopped. Finding that his way was not barred. He arrived just as the cultists were reaching some climax in their ritual. The leader pulled back the robe of the sacrifice to reveal the skin of the woman underneath and Jerid nearly went into shock–mother!
“No! You crazy bastards!” He immediately took the staff and swung it at the cult leader. As shaft struck the man something strange happened and Jerid’s memory of what happened next is not entirely clear. It seemed like the statue of the eye and the tentacles came to life and reaching out they grabbed people at seeming random. One tentacle knocked Jerid flying back across the room. Those who were grabbed were absorbed into the eye and were gone.Once the eye had had its fill a prismatic spray emanated from the eye and filled the room causing living things to simultaneously freeze, melt, solidify, and burst into flame. As the spray fell on Jerid he felt his skin burned from his body and reduced to ash while concurrently being frozen.
He awoke he knew not how much later. The entire cult compound was a deserted ruin. The conflagration that had existed in the temple had apparently spread throughout the entire complex and so far as Jerid could tell there were no survivors in this cult cell. There was no trace of his mother. He assumed that she had been taken by the eye, though he had not seen it happen like he had seen happen to some of the cultists.
He was finally free of the cultists. Except that he knew he was not truely free however as the cult leader had mentioned other cult cells that they had communicated with who were also apparently overjoyed that the Tamil-Weks had been found. And further he could not return home now either. Not only would the death of his mother be on his conscience and he be unable to face his father, and not only would he be a target of more attacks by the cultists and thus a threat to his loved ones, but the conflagration had changed him. The cultist had been correct in that–he had undergone some sort of “renewal” as his body was now as much ember and ash as it was flesh and blood. He also found that with his transfomed body, his mind had been transformed as well and again the cultists had been correct in that he now found it quite easy to harness the arcane energy that was flowing through and around him.
No, he would not be able to return home until mother’s death had been avenged and these cultists had been exterminated. Combing through the ruins of the cult complex he found a few clues as to the possible locations of other cult cells as well as a few items of power that would be useful in his hunt. Perhaps he would bring about change, death and destruction after all–all to The Cult of Exquisite Agony.