The Plight of Man

Her Devotion Recognized in Blood

The silence was almost overwhelming as Iris sat amid the empty chamber in the abandoned temple of Aroden. Guy had most likely passed out hours ago across the hall and Kali had left to haunt the streets during the night while Iris was supposed to be meditating. She could sense the creature feasting on some poor child it had caught wandering the streets. Something was off with this city, but Iris had yet to place exactly what about it seemed wrong. The silence was not natural for such a large city and the lack of worship among all of the temples around them raised a few other concerns.

She finally slipped into a trance as she thought about her latest sacrifice to Nocticula. She had finally reached out with the blood sacrifice of the cowardly Paladin. She was loathe to sacrifice a member of the new guild, but the man knew too much about her intentions and had already gotten in her way one too many times. At least he had been truly useful with his death. She recalled Nocticula’s voice in her head praising her for her devotion and the joy she felt at being noticed by such an incredible force. It wouldn’t be long now before she would receive a vision from her Goddess to show her devotion even more. She knew the majority of what the ritual required, but not all that would be required of her or if she would even be deemed worthy of Nocticula’s attention. She began to drift into a void with these last thoughts, her mind attempting to organize the day’s events and prepare for another.

Such a drifting was not meant to be this night however, as Iris was ripped from her thoughts by a loud crack. Pain raced along her back as her shoulder blades and collarbone began to crack and pop out of place. The pain sent her to the floor in a spasm and a blood-curdling scream escaped from her throat before the pain became too unbearable to even give a voice to. Her shoulder blades ripped from her back in a gory explosion of flesh, blood, and bone, covering the room in a splatter. The exposed bone quickly began to grow into a skeletal set of wings, forcing Iris onto her stomach. Her voice had gone hoarse from the scream and Guy was nowhere to be seen as of yet, so Iris clawed her way along the ground to the window looking for any escape in her frenzied and pain-ridden state. She managed to pull herself onto the window stand and tumble outside into the cold air, hoping that the chill would dampen the pain if nothing else. No lamps in any of the houses had turned on and she figured no help was on its way.

The loss of blood and agonizing pain finally managed to overwhelm her senses and she blacked out, the last thing seen was a robed figure approaching her and extending their hand and the pleasure of Kali’s latest victim mixing in with her thoughts of pain and death through the bond between the two.

When Iris finally awoke, she found herself on an alter, the room dark and filled with the scent of roses and iron. She tried to stand and finally managed it after first crumpling to the floor. The muscles in her back ached tremendously and as she attempted to stretch, she sensed new muscles stretching along with the others and felt a slight breeze from behind her as wings stretched open, black feathers stretching about five feet on either side. The feeling was…odd. She moved the wings to flex the muscle and found them surprisingly strong for having only recently ripped out of her back. She ran her fingers through the black feathers and was delighted at the feeling. The feathers, as well as the rest of her she figured, was matted in dry blood from last night. She had a slight shiver as she remembered the pain of receiving her “gift.” Hopefully Guy had not ventured into the room, as the scene she left would probably send him in a frantic search in this strange city and into prison.

Grabbing her things, which someone had graciously placed near the wall, Iris left the room and found herself in the inner chamber of a temple to Shelyn recently desecrated and rededicated to the demon lord, Nocticula. In sight of a statue of the demon lord, Iris offered a deep prayer along with an act of devotion to her lord with the nearest acolyte of the faith, a young blond woman. The young woman only barely survived the ordeal as Iris ended the prayer, the pungent taste of blood filling her mouth. She had no idea how she looked, but she knew it couldn’t be good. Too exhausted to even use magic to clean herself off, she walked into the light of the outside world.

The sun was bright as she stepped out and she had to shield her eyes to see anything. Shadowed figures moved on the streets and many spoke of an incident that had happened the other day. Eavesdropping on conversations and stopping a guard to ask what had happened led Iris to know it had definitely been Guy, her familiar, and someone else. She could sense her familiar south of town, so she quickly made her way there and found them near the river outside of town. Strangely, she noted that none of the odd townsfolk reacted to her wings in any way. It troubled her, but upon meeting her companions, she found out why. It all came together once Iris learned the the town was all but destroyed by the Blight Skull and the majority of those walking around were undead, necropolitans most likely according to dark tomes she had read. She wondered how many had willingly surrendered their mortal lives to live forever as a decaying bag of flesh. She felt pity for all of them, but with what Guy told her, there was very little any of them could do.

The newest travel companion was resting not far off and woke to Iris and Guy talking. With weapon in hand, he rose, and went over to the group. To Iris’s delight, the newest companions first action was to detect her morality and the look on his face bought him a smirk from Iris as she explained to Guy that the cleric was simply casting a spell to ward off undead. The two stared at each other knowingly and as the tension began to build, Iris offered her hand in invitation to the Tigerlily Guild. The offer of companionship instead of bloodshed took the cleric off-guard and he accepted, his eyes still never leaving Iris as he shook hands with her. Iris used the last charge on her necklace of teleportation and they found themselves whisked back to their guildhall.

Iris’s first act back in was to find a mirror and look at the mess she had become. She found herself covered in dried blood, her dress completely soaked through from the back. Thank the gods she wore black. Her hair suffered the same fate, dried blood plastering it to the side of her face. No wonder the cleric had opened up their meeting with a casting of detect evil, she looked like she had just murdered someone in a back alley or been the victim of such an act. She was quick to remedy the situation with a few castings of predigitation, drench, and breeze. A bath would be needed later, but at least she looked like she actually took care of herself!



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