Damon Kradock and the Black Temple
Damon walked along the slushy trail a smile from ear to ear, on his usually dour face. Spring had come...the Storm Gates had been closed! Damon could not wait to see his new friends and celebrate this monumental moment. There was a new city to found. There were Giants to fight. There were people in Greenmark who would need to be watched over. Damon shook his head as he walked. He could not believe how caught upon in this quest he had allowed himself to become. It had been a long time since he had allowed himself to have any purpose in his life...except hunting down Gorin Zachian.
Damon considered the look in the eyes of Major Feld. The look of hope. The sound of excitement in the injured military man's voice when he spoke of re-building the City by the Lake. Damon wondered if he had the same look in his eyes...the same sound in his voice were he to tell someone his plans right now.
Damon stopped. He smelled death. Not just a fallen animal, wasting away back into its basic elements. No, this was something much more. The smell of death a thousand-fold. He began walking again, but at a much slower pace. Hope was faded from his eyes, replaced by concern and determination. "What darkness attempts to confront me at this happy time?" he muttered under his breath.
Ahead their was a side trail that split away from the main road. As he approached it he noticed that there was no snow or ice on this trail...and it was not hard-packed. The road itself was as hard as rock from centuries of travel. But this trail cutting off to the right was of rich loose soil. Damon crouched and grabbed a handful of dirt. This was no normal trail. It was as if the vegatation had simply moved out of the way. This trail had not be trampled bare, but had instead formed on its own...moving plants and debris out of its own way.
Damon let the loose soil tumble between his fingers as he looked down the unnatural trail. "I can't permit this to remain untraveled. If another Caravan of Hope comes this way...they may be drawn down this strange path out of curiousity. Allow whatever horrible fate might have befallen those hopeful souls, instead befall one such as I. I think I'll accept the invitation this virgin trail extends me." Damon stood, and began down the trail. He loosened his sword in its scabbard with his right hand, and then made sure the straps that bound his left arm to his side were tightly secured.
After a few turns in the trail, Damon could see a small boulder-strewn clearing up ahead, and a rounded black building sat perched upon the jumble of large rocks. The black building was fairly small and hexagonal, and Damon wondered at how shiny it was. "What material could be polished such as this?" Damon walked very slowly on the loose trail, and drew forth his black blade. He studied every detail of the building as he approached. Wide stairs led up to black double doors on the front of the building. He could see no seams or mortar in the construction of the building, as if it had been formed from one giant piece of rock. The front double doors had a red handprint cut into their surface and words that Damon could not read from where he was.
At the base of the steps Damon stopped. "WHO IS THERE...SHOW YOURSELF!" Damon's brow was beaded with sweat. "PRIESTS OF THIS DARK TEMPLE...SHOW YOURSELF, NOW!!!" There was only silence. Damon took a few steps up the stairwell, and he was able to read the red lettering carved into the door beneath the red outline of a hand:
Erythnul the Many welcomes his own...All others provide sustanance for the Many....
Damon smiled. "Well that's less than subtle," he thought. Damon walked up the rest of the stairs until he stood directly before the shiny black double doors. He could see his reflection in the doors as clearly as in a mirror. "Well, Erythnul...God of Slaughter, I've made plenty of 'sacrifices' to you in my day...in a sense. I wonder if you would consider me one of your own? There's no way to confront the evil here with out simply getting right into the middle of it, I suppose." Damon let his sword fall from his hand and hand from the leather thong attached to its pommel. He reached forward and placed his hand in the red handprint cut into the surface of the black doors.
Immediately, Damon felt drained...as if some of his energy or very soul had been drained away, but the doors swung open. Damon swung his sword up into his right hand and stepped through the doorway....