Will of the Helm, Part III: The Auric Crusade

As woe continued to plague the Free City, the Council of Five concluded that they must turn to the nation-states of Sapience for assistance. With a dreaming plague afflicting the masses, an untimely famine driving civil unrest, a war waged by the Shil’tok, and mysterious deaths all around the city, the beleaguered councilors divided the work amongst themselves and reached out to Sapience as swiftly as they could manage. Knowing that the wheels of the bureaucratic machine moved slowly, Councilor Tirriki personally penned a letter for the leaders of the North in an attempt to procure aid with the famine ravaging the populace.

It was Vrin Sokersi, Sentinel of the Auric Guard, who reached out to the Hammer of the Dawn on Councilor Qayyam’s behalf. Informing Vanguard Kalena that he intended to embark upon holy work in the name of the Guardian of the First Flame, the warrior implored her to join him on his crusade. Stating that he trusted the city to aid him due to their recent acceptance of Fundamental Light’s radiance, he arranged for the city’s gathered warband to meet him in the Pious Ward by nightfall. The Sentinel made note that Councilor Qayyam would join them during this rendezvous, explaining that the Caentoi leader wished to beseech Enorian’s aid in handling the slumbering pandemic gripping the city.

That night, the Hammer assembled a party consisting of a wide array of citizens willing to aid the Auric Guard in their crusade against the undead beneath the city. Vrin made special note of the gathered members of the Akkari Host, referring to them as chosen of the Fundamental Light, and stood by as Master Qayyam explained the nature of the crusade’s holy purpose. The gaudy Caentoi insisted that there was proof of the plague’s source somewhere within the darkened shanty towns of the Underbelly, directing Enorian to seek it out and exterminate the cultists and undead in the name of Dejaani while they did so. He went on to elaborate that the slumbering plague had evolved, its rigors inflicting certain citizens with terrible, fatal insomnia that manifested at first as irritability.

It did not take long for the Hammer to charge headfirst into this sacred task, and the Underbelly soon sang with the cries of undead forced to repetence and purity by steel and spell alike. The righteous crusade carved a ruthless path through the abandoned tunnels beneath the Free City, putting an end to every blasphemous shambler they came upon, until at last they discovered an oily nest of parasites. After a harrowing first wave of the maddened creatures, the holy soldiers triumphed and cast the filthy thing into the fire to purify it once and for all.

What happened next, nobody could predict.

The moment the nest was consigned to fire, the devouring flames flickered in hypnotic patterns. Tongues of aurulent heat conspired to reveal an ominous vision draped in haze and smoke, its shadowy impressions bespeaking baleful portents of plague and sickness. Within the fire, the Hammer and their Auric Guard companion saw the eternal struggle of Light and Dark play out before their eyes, a tenuous equilibrium achieved in their eternal strife. Those bearing the blessing of Fundamental Light or a Duamvi symbiote heard a voice calling to them in chiming tones infused with serenity, its peaceful communication imploring them to open the eyes of those that slumber and close the eyes of those that tire.

Taking this as a sign from his Goddess, Vrin insisted that the way to a cure had been revealed to those gathered. Deep within the hearts and minds of the Hammer, ancient knowledge of convalescent orisons and feats of bravery bloomed as a benevolent blessing of the First Flame, its bestowment empowering them with the tools to tackle the terrible plagues of Delve. The righteous healers and crusaders took to the makeshift clinic in the Docklands to put their newfound healing prayers to good use, their missionary work aided by the roaring furnace of a sacred fire of the Illuminai.

Even as the Free City set upon the path to address one woe, however, others worsened. Led by the Lord Provost, several divisions of Delve’s guard made an attempt to retake the village of Helba from the Shil’tok menace. Despite the ramshackle state of the invading force’s fortifications, the troops proved incapable of breaching the village and suffered terrible losses in the demonstration. With failure stoking the fires of his temper, Wahelei retreated as the lone survivor of the battle, intent on consulting the Council of Fire for the Delve’s next military move.

As the Hammer heals the ailing masses and the North prepares for summit with Councilor Tirriki, the war council of the Free City turns their attention to the Sanguine Fist and Heartwood cultists in hopes of resolving the catastrophes looming on all sides…

Penned by my hand on Quensday, the 15th of Lleian, in the year 506 MA.
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