From deep within his stygian prison, Richard could sense the daemon on the surface. The daemon, for the first time really that Richard could sense, was scared and hesitant. The daemon wanted nothing more than to eviscerate each and every last virtue-worshipping gnat, but something larger, more powerful told him to keep to his task. Fighting these humans was a distraction from breaking the remaining seals. But the daemon did not listen. The daemon wanted to taste blood and guts, fire and steel. The Virtuemongers gathered in the Spiritwood. Their stench was strong on the air as Baerron Jael stood downwind. There were many of them, maybe ten. It was hard to tell. There were horses, too, no doubt to carry the supplies to cleanse the Shrine of Honor (see here: Breaking the First Seal). Lord Soth stood silent and cold near the daemon, a stark contrast to the burning fire Richard felt coming from the beast. Lord Soth's minions would be vital to the battle ahead. A shift in the wind carried a stronger scent. The lightbringers were on the move, no doubt heading south from Paws along the road. Lord Soth and the daemon cut through the woods and brush to the east to intercept them. The Death Knight awakened the dead bodies in the ground, long-since rotten. The battle of Honor Shrine had commenced. The lightbringers fought their way through Lord Soth's minions in the initial encounter. The daemon and the Death Knight claimed several of the lightbringers, but Lord Soth suffered a critical blow in battle and fell. The brief but highly kinetic melee broke, both sides withdrawing. The lightbringers rallied their horses and wounded in the nearby city of Trinsic, safe within the walls protected by the fabled paladins. Death did not stop Lord Soth. The Death Knight arose in spite of a terrible hole in his chest, oozing semi-frozen blood. Some deep, dark, echoing voice exploded in Richard's mind. It was a language he could not understand. Baerron Jael diminished briefly in the onslaught of the voice. It was the master, and he was not pleased. But the daemon did not heed the master. The daemon was insistent upon continuing the battle. Baerron Jael sniffed the wind. The foul stench of the paladins intermingled with those that came from the Spiritwood, but their scent became fainter. They were moving away towards the Smugger's Gate on the south-east side of the city. They would avoid another confrontation by escaping out the back... so they thought. The daemon and Lord Soth circled around the Hidden Valley mountain. The lightbringers, with no road to follow, would most likely travel along the edge of the river... And that is where Lord Soth and Baerron Jael awaited. The Death Knight summoned forth the dead and the daemon brought forth minions of the Stygian Abyss. The second engagement began. During the second engagement, the Project Sanctuary Guildmaster, Lord Krake Vestahl foolishly engaged the daemon on his own. Recovered from the fallen leader's corpse was a map plotting the route of the caravan. This information would aid greatly in setting the ambush. As the daemon went to engage the remainder of the lightbringer forces, a sharp, debilitating spike of pain crippled him. A red hellish scream filled him, his skull felt as if it were fracturing rapidly. The daemon Baerron Jael receded nearly as deep as Richard was imprisoned. The daemon was in intense pain and had nowhere to run from it. The master punished Baerron Jael for his insolence. Baerron Jael blinked. Black ichor oozed from his eyes, ears, and nose. In his delirium, the second engagement of the battle had winded down with the lightbringers pushing Lord Soth and what remained of his minions back. It made no matter, with the map, they would be able to regroup for the final encounter. The Death Knight and the Daemon rode hard and fast through the southern jungles to ensure they outpaced the slower-moving lightbringer caravan. With what remained of their now waning strength, the two summoned forth from the depths of purgatory and hell what fiends they could. The final engagement of the Battle of Honor Shrine commenced. The third engagement proved to be exceptionally fierce. The lightbringers had their hands full with the likes of liches and demons, while Lord Soth and Baerron Jael harried those who broke from the strength of their group. In the midst of such fevered battle, the daemon held his head and screamed. The feeling of his skull crushing like an egg under a brick violently shocked both Richard and Baerron Jael. The master would have no more of the foolishness that was this battle. As if with the snap of a finger, the master severed Baerron Jael from Richard. The world turned forcefully red, then faded to grey. Richard blinked. There were webs of dark blood on the edges of his eyes but he could see the blueness of the sky as he looked up from the ground. He gasped, his rotting, perforated lungs tasting air for the first time in longer than he could remember. Every inch of his body felt as if it were on fire and covered with monstrous ants. Every flayed nerve ending sparked. He coughed up a large clot of blackened blood. Tilting his head to the side, a motion which sent shockwaves up and down his neck and spine, he saw the battle waning. The remnants of the undead and demon forces were being dealt with, and the lightbringers began cleansing the Shrine of Honor. Richard began a slow wander through the jungle. His mind, for the first time, was empty of the crimson hell. His body did not cooperate well, and faltered often. A raven landed on his back and picked off several strands of rotten skin and swallowed them before flying away. He did not know how long he walked. The trees of the jungle were gradually replaced by deciduous trees and, without a thought or even the acknowledgement of the passing of time, he found himself in the Spiritwood. A man that Richard thought he recognized found Richard as he pushed through the brush towards Paws. It was then Richard became aware that he was profusely bleeding black ichor from numerous wounds and rotten, sunken indents on his body. The familiar man helped Richard into the Healer's Hut of Paws. A fair maid entered the Healer's Hut. Her presence was soothing to Richard's mind, and her voice reminded him of the rustling of the leaves. The familiar man and the maid helped Richard to the shrine in the belief that the Virtues could aid him. A searing pain shot through him as he touched the Ankh. The daemon Baerron Jael might have been severed by the master, but his effects were deep and lingering. Richard's screams drew a crowd. The pain in his mushy bones violently tore through him. Why was he still alive? If the daemon was gone, then so was the unholy power that kept Richard alive all this time. Why was he still here in spite of the extremely dire state of his physical body? Richard pleaded with the strange faces around him. The man in the grey robes rushed to Richard. Before Richard could understand what was happening, the man in the grey robes pushed him through a moongate. Richard stumbled through the gate and fell to the ground. He coughed up a black jelly-like goo. When he could muster the strength, he looked around at his surroundings. He was in a worn-down house filled with cobwebs and old books. He sniffed the air. The unforgettable scent of a demon was on the air. Where did the grey robed man send him, and why? And why was he still alive? Somewhere deep within his skull a red flicker emerged. Baerron Jael wasn't gone. He was cowed, hurt, afraid, but most of all angry. The master punished him severely, and it weakened him to a point that Richard had never seen before. The daemon's power held little influence over him, but it was only a matter of time before he regained his strength... =================================================================== =================================================================== =================================================================== =================================================================== (Out of Character Note) Thank you all for participating in this battle, it was a tremendous amount of fun and I look forward to more such events. It took me forever to realize what was happening to me in the middle of battle. I died 3 times in this big battle. The first time I died, I went from full health to nothing in the blink of an eye and got the odd message "You anger your god with your..." (can read the full message above). I thought a GM was messing with me or something. Then I rezzed and was immediately killed by the lightbringers while trying to get my stuff (hah!). Then the third time happened at the final engagement area and it was the same exact scenario... had full health then suddenly... dead, with the same message. I didn't figure out until later that it was probably because I accidentally harmed one of the undead creatures. A skeleton or something must have walked into a poison field and that angered the gods. At any rate, sorry if this odd mechanic detracted in any way (so don't pat yourself on the back too hard, it was the gods that killed me!) In all seriousness, great job to everyone involved. I believe the scrub brush used in the cleansing of the Honor Shrine is put on prominent display in the Vesper Museum. If anyone has additional pictures (I didn't get a chance to get very many during much of the actual fighting unfortunately) or want to add their own story regarding this epic battle, please feel free to do so here.