The Inheritance

FREEDOM

I have been sealed away in this tower for too long. Eons have gone by. Civilizations have risen and fallen. Time itself seems to have no meaning in this warped place.

But for the first time, after being trapped so long in this void, I see my salvation. One of my eyes sees a small band of travelers approaching this gods-forsaken citadel. They tangled with the orcs and ettin guarding the gate fearlessly, and now they are heading this way, through the outer gardens. They realized quickly that these forests are not natural to this world, but fey in nature. What they didn’t realize is that these forests are riddled with spiders. Their webs stretch across every tree, blocking every obvious path, and yet these stalwart six manage to snake their way through the thicket without disturbing the spiders (after the two Eladrin squabble over who possesses superior knowledge of the Feywild. These two remind me of the two male humans who died in this tower near me, locked in one another’s embrace. One of the adventurers, a human, manages to loose an error at a critical point in the forest, disrupting the webbing and preventing the spiders from sensing their tremors. Others follow these tactics, and soon they are out of the forest with some new loot found with the corpses of less skilled (or less fortunate) adventurers.

They emerge from the forest to bear witness to the beautiful Whispering Grove, just in time to see five autumn nymphs bathing in a pond. Many have fallen victim to these decorated harpies screech before, and this party falls right into the trap. However, the nymphs seem to be in a playful mood, most likely since they just devoured the souls of the foolish goblins who snuck into the Abbey grounds earlier. They simply request to play a game of secrets. For each secret the heroes would share, they may ask a question of them. While this sounds harmless, or even helpful, the heroes reveal such dark things. The human admitted that he has no affection for any he traveled with, and wouldn’t bat an eye at killing any of them for any amount whatsoever (though the nymphs saw through this rouse easliy). The stout dwarf revealed that despite being wed, he has children with another dwarf woman. And for revealing this, the nymphs answered his question of where the “red caped faggot” is. Excitedly, the nymphs revealed that he was very near. Remarkably near, and seemed to be drawn to the red cape being worn by one of the Eladrin.

The red caped Eladrin then revealed that because of traumatizing events in his past, he exclusively bedded women whose appearance resembled that of his dead sister. Overjoyed with the humiliation, the nymphs quickly answered the second query, which was where some creature named “Greeno” was. (Apparently this group of hardy adventurers grew attached to a goblin. Hardly surprising with the stories these scoundrels were sharing.) The nymphs said that Greeno was near, and more, he was in danger.

Finally, the bear stepped forth, seemingly to tell a secret. He raised his head toward the nymphs and let out a series of grunts and growls, which lasted for several minutes. The entire time, the nymphs were enraptured and wide-eyed. Occasionally, one jaw would drop, and one screech would sound. This bear must have been weaving quite a tale, because the nymphs were quick to answer a question. The red-caped-Eladrin ripped a small urn from his pocket and shouted, “What the fuck is this jar!?” The nymphs reeled and hissed at it, shouting to get the vile vial away from this sacred place, and that it was touched by the mark of Tharizdun! The nymphs then vanished from the grove, leaving the party with more questions than answers.

The adventurers continued to the Font of Ioun, the one glimmer my eyes can see from this infinite darkness. Upon entering its sacred ground, a band of Eladrin guardians emerged from the treeline, surprising my unlikely saviors. The leader stepped forward and introduced himself as Berrian Velfarren. He explained to this group that they were trespassing on sacred ground his band of Eladrin warriors were defending from the orc occupation of the Abbey. The six travelers convinced Berrian that they were merely travelers seeking dangerous artifacts and had nothing but respect for Ioun and her relic (except the dwarf, who kept mouthing off about Bahamut. If he only knew who he really worshiped. Berrian tasked them with retrieving a journal of the old grounds keeper of the forest in a cottage nearby, and to be on the lookout for another Eladrin who had gone missing in the forest.

The adventurers made their way toward the cottage and found it inhabited by two slumbering owlbears. Sneaking up to the cabin, the crew could see scattered papers and books in the dilapidated home, one of which seemed to stick out as a candidate for a diary. However, the group somehow alerted the owlbears to their presence, possibly by imitating a displacer beast, or maybe one of them just smelled really bad. Either way, the crew was thrust into combat, where they made short work of the brutes, trapping them in the cottage and hurling waves of ice, steel, and arrows at them. Reading the recovered journal, the group learned that this forest was a gift from an Eladrin man to the leaders of this Abbey, when it flourished as a center or spiritual guidance, and not a hovel for disgusting creatures and rotting death.

While returning to the Font, the band stops and investigated a nearby, crumbling bell tower. By chance, they realize that two displacer beasts have cornered a young Eladrin woman and are about to pounce. The group rushes into action, some fighting and distracting the beast, while others rush to the woman’s side and stabilize her wounds. Suddenly, hordes of stirges rush out of the bell tower’s leaning bellfry, and try to suck the lifeblood out of the poor woman. The adventurers manage to bat back the flying rats, while still slaughtering the evasive displacer beasts. Healed, the woman explains that her name is Analastra and that she is Berrian’s sister. These heroes are keen on helping the distressed; maybe they won’t mind helping me.

They return to the Font, and Berrian reveals that the log they found was that of his father. He came to the forest in order to better understand him and has decided to stay and defend it. He gives each hero a blessing from the fountain, and requests that they stay the night and rest as newfound friends. Early in the morning, the heroes make way towards the western watchtower, after hearing that it exhibits strange and supernatural behavior. Finally they will come to understand what I have been wrestling with since being trapped here.

As they reach the watchtower, they notice it seems to both exist, and not exist simultaneously. The edges of the visible tower seem blurred, as if someone spilled water on a painting, blurring the edges and the background into one. They approach the tower and realize there is no entrance. They try to touch it, only to get the sense that the tower doesn’t exist here anymore. The wizard declares that it is a sort of echo of a structure that was once here. The dwarf unleashes a hardy blow to vaporous wall of the tower, only to find that his strike unleashes a flow of black goo that bleeds unnaturally through from the wound. They try many things, until finally the wizard holds up a strange card to the wall, and feels himself passing through the barrier. He beckons for his friends to follow. I wonder…could this card be the same card that rests here with me?

Inside the tower, the heroes realize what a strange place they are in. Instead of walls, strange slime seems to “breathe” up and down the edge of the room. Instead of support columns, impossible geometry extends to the infinite darkness above. All they see is a chasm in the center of the room that prevents them from reaching a luminescent membrane that morphs between an oaken door, and the black void I know all too well. There is a footbridge spanning the canyon, but the heroes do not trust it (the dwarf makes a joke about walking backwards across it, though I do not know what it means). I do not blame them—trust is not a concept that would appear organically in a place like this. Instead, the Eladrin and the dwarf teleport across the chasm, leaving the others to rely on physical feats and magical assistance to get across. As they approach the membrane, the room seems to erupt at them. The bridge rises and attacks them, black ooze erupts from the canyon. Luckily, they are sucked through the portal before the calamity can reach them.

The heroes now find themselves in the plane I am trapped in…this…Far Realm. The path they walked was a twisted and surreal experience, and I’m baffled they made it through. The first room consisted of rising black globules that that drift through the air and on the wall, up toward a vast, star-filled sky. Stairs seem to appear in the walls, before being swallowed again by the black goo. Some of the heroes manage to find a path up the stairs, others climb up the churning walls, and some still simply clutch the globules as they rise. They all make it to the sky, closer to me.

In this space, the heroes seem to lose all sense of direction. They exist in an endless space, filled with strange figures and amoeboid shapes. Remarkably, they manage to find their way by navigating familiar stars.

Finally, the group reaches the final room before my chamber. The stars they were flying through turn into giant cards—cards that opened like doors revealing some horrific thing jabbering rhymes and nonsense, trying to grapple the heroes. This trap, too proves fruitless, as the heroes make to the true door to me. The door opens, and I can seem them there. Staring at me in horror. I attempt to speak to them. To thank them for their rescue. But in this twisted universe, my form has changed, and I am something of a monster. I did not know. I could not know I had become such a beast. But I heard one of the group shout, “It’s a beholder!” as another lunged at me, knocking me out almost immediately.

Could it be? Could I have been transformed into a multi-eyed beast of legend? I worked so hard my whole life, and now I have been reduced to this!? And kept hostage in this hell of a place? And these “saviors” are now nothing more than barbarians, slashing at my eye stalks and shooting at my round body. No more! I cannot hold this rage! I will destroy all of them!

What cruel fate. I have been slaughtered by my rescuers. What I thought was the answer to my prayers has killed me, and are now performing bizarre acts of desecration on my body. Leaping through the air and landing on me with their genitals. Bursting from my body as thought it were being penetrated. What misery. And here I am, left to watch. Somehow. Whatever they killed in me was not all of me. It appears to be whatever part of me was still tethered to the normal world. The world I knew. The world I grew up in. Did I grow up? Was I a child? Did I…have children? I lost my mind so long ago, and now, for the first time, I miss it. But I must make a new home for myself here. Here, in this aberrant world. I am making a new start for myself in this new body, and leaving this sexually massacred husk with the tower. I am free now. Now that the adventurers have robbed me of that blasted card.

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