May 2018 Prologue

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[FORSAKE CATHEDRAL, SOMEWHERE IN THE HINTERLANDS; MAY 14, 2018 (WR)]

It was a holy place long ago, but few things survived the march of antiquity and the Demonic Entity’s desecration. Overgrowth now trespassed where engraved stone once stood and shadows replaced a muraled ceiling that once depicted a covenant between gods and mortals. It belonged to Him now, corrupted and stolen from silent divinities. Only two broken pillars and an altar remained of the hallowed house – and they were mockeries of the holiness they once radiated.

When the last of his disciples finally arrived to give the Demon his worship, there were precious fewer than there were before. Yet, he had called them from across the ends of Midworld, whispering into each fetid niche and benighted corner that served him. Where he once had tens of thousands, he had mere hundreds. Still — all that still lived, all that survived the destruction of the tome and the crucible of the Freefolk’s vengeance, arrived and bent the knee in turn. Even mighty Dmitri and a shape-stealing Skinwalker genuflected humbly before taking up their places beside the master of the Court.

In a twisted parody of a Dammerung Vespers, he addressed his congregation of killers and blasphemers from behind the corrupted altar. All knelt before their fell celebrant, except for two grinning Gnomes in the back.

“I have called and you have arrived. We are here to execute our greatest conquest upon Freehold and bring this land back to its true nature. For too long, the light has inflicted its tyranny upon us. For too long, we have kept our fangs unbared. Now is the time for vengeance, my servants…”

The Demon’s dark homily trailed off as a hooded figure entered the ruins, having navigated the illusions and traps that prevented its discovery for ages. The Court’s mastermind raised his right arm to halt Dmitri from advancing.

“Are you done talking? I usually let ‘em finish before I do my spiel. It’s the politic thing to do” the newcomer drew back his hood to unveil a sneering face riddled with runes and horns. The crowd encircled him as shadows before a candle.

“Who are you to stray into this my domain, little flame? Did you answer the call?” The Demon already smiled at the answer that he knew was coming.

As one, the congregation arose and encircled the newcomer, flickering shadows around a blazing candle.

“Me? I’ve come to offer a sacrifice to your ‘holy gathering’… in exchange for what I want”

“Pray tell, what does a member of the Brotherhood desire from the Court of Shadows?”

“The Brotherhood? Nah, I’m just Arcanamach now” The Sorcerer tilted his head to crack his neck and then surveyed the multitudes of villainy that surrounded him. “I want Freehold to burn and I’m here to tell you how you’re going to do it”

Out of Game Clarification: Those who have once been touched by the Dark Pact are vaguely aware of the Court meeting, having seen it in a few recurring nightmares. Its location remains elusive.

Rumor (anyone may read this)
Only those with the Rumormonger skill may read this
Clarification (everyone should read this)