The 2000 Year Epic Campaign
Admiral Jaffe - Vision of Hell
You freeze in place, half expecting to die from blade in your face. You can barely hear the words “Sea Word” and “officer” before you are quickly pulled out the pillar and thrown to the ground. Someone races into the pillar and pulls out the Jewel of the Pillar and it powers down.
“Thank Ao, that was close.” Whispers someone.
“That pillar is going to be the death of us all!” shouts someone from the back.
“Things have been on edge lately.” A hand reaches out, it is face you recognize, Selussa Alealyth. The founder of the Arcane Universities of Brind-Amor pulls you up to your feet. “We just lost an arcane researcher named Tinesia. A new location popped up while she was at the pillar, she…jumped through. And we haven’t heard from her since. Of course, the location she went to is gone as well.” You wonder what could have happened to Tinesia.
Selussa looks off into the distance, “As a precaution we must power ours down as well. Who knows that is out there, waiting to come through our pillar and attack.”
Selussa asks the standard questions, how is your journey so far, any luck finding the United Pride, etc.
“I can turn the Pillar back on for a second, to send you back to fulfill your mission. Between Jayt Valley and the Skyland Pillar we have decided to only power them up for a few minutes at noon and midnight each day. Anyone teleporting through without their hands raised will be attacked on sight. Make sure you pass that secret on to your crewmates.”
Selussa gets ready to reinsert the Jewel of the Pillar to send you back, “May Ao watch over us all.”
Battle of Geargrind Island
Each day the brand on your arm gets worse. Each day the marks spread across your body. Each day the pain grows. Each day the suffering is more.
At some point you died, but it changed nothing.
You are still in horrible pain. You writhe in agony in a field of brimstone and sulfur. Pain shoots through your body and you would do anything to make it stop, even for just a moment. But you find no solace, the excruciating pain is constant.
Feverishly you bite deep into your arm, over and over again to sever your arm and make the agony will stop. But your arm turns to stone. You cry out in frustration and anguish.
This goes on for an entire day. Then a month. Then a year. Then 100 years. You have forgotten who and what you were. All you know is pain.
Then a figure appears. He is tall, muscular, and evil. He looks at you and smiles wickedly.
You are startled out of your sleep. The constantly rocking of the ship gives you the faintest memory of the sea. Slowly you open your eyes. Gone is the field of brimstone and sulfur and the constant pain. You weep; tears stream down your face. It’s all over! Rejoice! Your heart sings with joy.
You pull up your sleeve. The brand is still there. Your heart sinks.
Two of the deckhands look at you with fear.
Arethrion Elves Breakout
You don’t sleep well. Plagued by nightmares, every time you sleep you go right back to hell. You have no concept of time, are you back for another hundred years? Was it just a moment? You feel hopeless and helpless. What can you do to get back to normal?
You manage to hold it together while you are awake. You aren’t nearly as frightened and pessimistic as you are in your dreams. But the crew can tell something is wrong with you. You still laugh and joke with them, but when you do regale them with a song, they just kinda nod their head and walk away, constantly looking over their shoulder at you, fearful you might turn into a monster or something.
Last night’s dream was particularly frightful, although it wasn’t the searing pain in your shoulder where the brand is. It was more psychological. The wicked Scourge-man appears again. He makes a bold claim, and as much as you try to fight it with either logic or a steadfast refusal, you almost know it to be true.
“Your soul is already mine.”
King of the Hill Tournament
The lines between this world and the hellish world are very blurry. While you do have these visions of hell, you feel a little less pain, less fear, less hopelessness. Maybe you’re just getting used to it, after a 100+ years in it. Quite disturbing.
However, back in the real world things have gotten more difficult. You see the Scourge all the time. Walking around like regular citizens, in some sort of disguise that hides their real identity.
But you know. You know what they really are.
You caught one the other day. In the market square of the capital city, a person posing as a beggar, pan-handling for coins. He is really a Scourge in disguise. Well, you have had enough of this and you are in your world, and are able to do something about it. You walk over and pick him up by his shirt, “I know who you are!!! Stop tormenting me!!! Stop tormenting me!!! I see you!!! I see you!!!”
Guards pull you off the Scourge, the blade you had in your hand drops to the ground. The guards help the beggar to his feet. He is a normal person. Not a scourge at all.
You are losing your mind.
Times like this, you wish you were dead.
The moment you close your eyes, even just to blink, you are transported back to hell. Even if just for a split-second, you can feel the flames dancing around your feet, and a sense of dread washes over you.
But during the day you can still…manage to keep your mind intact. Twenty seconds in the real world versus a fraction of a second in hell…well…you can get by most of the time. It’s when you go to sleep that it is the real challenge. Sleep is now an eternity.
And once again you find yourself in hell. The smell of sulfer hangs heavy in the air and you hear screams of horror not far away. You curl up in a ball, praying this will all go away, praying that you will not see HIM again. Pain and anguish fill your soul as you can sense that he is standing over you. Maybe you can hide from him, like a child who would pull the covers over his head.
Ironically, I don’t have a lot of time. Tick-Tock
What?!? That is not the voice of HIM. His voice is deep and foreboding, full of power and torture. This voice, is light and almost mechanical.
Your head pops up, a man in golden robes stands before you, he fiddles with an object in his hands. All of this is very foreign here in hell. He is not the Scourge. You peer behind him and see the flames frozen in time.
Listen. the golden robed man kneels down to speak to you, I can help/am helping/did help you with this, he says as he grabs your arm, his delicate fingers tracing over the slave brand on your arm, but I will need/need/needed your help as well.
Wh-what? you ask.
The man in the golden robes looks at the device in his hands, then back to you. His eyes are…strange.
I am/will get/was trapped in time loop of my own making. I need you to free me from it.
Wh-who are you? you ask
You don’t remember me yet? Your friend, young William will know/knows/knew me, I have worked/am working/will work with him extensively.
A loud thud echoes from the distance, the flame around you slowly start to flicker faster and faster.
There is little/no time left to explain. I will send/sent a gateway to my prison. He shoves something into your hands. Free me and I can/did remove that slave brand from you.
The flames start to speed up, and the man in the golden robes starts to fade, you shout to him, “How do I free you?!?”
The man in the golden robes smiles, Whatever you did last time. Tick-Tock!
You quickly glance down and find a small hourglass in your hands. The man vanishes and time returns to normal, you can see HIM in the distance, slowly walking towards you. You hold on tightly to the hourglass, and for once you are not completely terrified.
For once you have hope.
You back away from the door to your cell as the Brotherhood guards shove three more halflings into your already cramped cell. They have been badly beaten and that spark of fun and joy that all halflings possess, that flicker of life and song and dance, has died in their eyes. You leap for the cell door as it closes and shout back at the guards, “This is bullshit!”
“Pipe down little one, you’re all lucky to be alive.” The guard snaps back.
Your eyes go to the back of the cell where the old gnome, Constable Cogstrom Rumbletek sits in the dark. You first met him as you made first contact with the gnomes of Geargrind Island. An ambassador for the gnomes who personally met every outside to step foot on the gnomish island. Now, since his imprisonment six months ago, now he says nothing.
“He’s right, halfling, you are lucky.”
Spinning back to the cell door you hear the voice coming from the opposite cell. The lone remaining Arethrion Elf chained to the wall.
“What are you talking about? They are herding all of us little people up!” Even you saying it yourself out loud stings.
The elf leans towards his cell door as far as the chains will let him, “My people were hunted down just the same, but they killed my people on the spot. Women, children, old, young, all of them. Dead in the snow. So thank your god, little one, thank him for each breath you draw.”
Your heart sinks as you realize that he is right. It wasn’t long after most of the Righteous failed that things got much worse. First the uprising of The Arisen was stomped out, then the Snow Elves were wiped out. And soon after that the Empire began to systematically round up all non-empire people, just to satisfy the ever-maddening Emperor and his vision of a loyal and dedicated Empire.
If only the Righteous didn’t fail. When we did, hope was lost.