Legacy of the Portal War

What came before - The fall

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And now, finally, we have come to the most important chapter of my life so far.
I remember well the lessons I received in the Order, especially those concerning our code of conduct. We were warned of the many dangers that would try to lure us from the path of the righteous. The lessons of father Samael have kept me awake more than once during the time after my fall.

“Remember well, young pages, that there are two very distinct types of evil. The first kind is the evil that can be found in ruined keeps and abandoned dungeons. It takes the guise of hideous monsters and black clad villains. This evil will rend your flesh and feast on your blood. Yet for all its ferocity it can be defeated with a cut of your blade. Many knights may have been killed by creatures of this kind of evil, but all died with the light of the One in their hearts. The second kind of evil is the one found in each of us. It disguises itself as good intentions and when encountered will beguile you with unknown beauty. It mostly leaves the flesh intact but devours your soul. Those that fall to this evil will not perish but suffer a fate worse than death, for the One will retract his patronage and abandon them in the darkness they created.”

Father Samael didn’t know how right he was.
I don’t exactly remember when Lydia joined our group. I do know it happened not long after the blue dragon left us. After Cyric was turned to stone Lanfear didn’t have a familiar anymore. For a while she waited to see if Cyric would change back, but it soon became clear that wouldn’t just happen. Finally Lanfear asked if anyone could help her and the blue dragon replied that he could. The dragon took Cyric’s remains and left. We never saw the dragon again, and I can’t recall what happened to Cyric after that. It has been over 60 years after all. So, not long after that a beautiful elven woman with long blond hair joined us. She was a strange creature for her pointy ears were too long for an elf and she had access to knowledge and power beyond any of our group. What made the matter even worse was that she was evil. I guess the dragon’s presence had sensitized me to the presence of evil beings for I allowed her to travel with us. She proved invaluable at times. She helped cure a village from the plague of lycanthropy, gave me the means of destroying an entire army that was about to conquer a large village and offered guidance whenever asked. Although she always helped when asked, she also always demanded payment. She would not take gold or other direct compensation, but requested an unnamed favor in the future. Out of necessity, and maybe convenience and laziness, we accepted her terms more than once. Over the course of months we (mostly Jason) found out she belonged to an ancient race that had all but died out. This race had fought the gods and had lost. The artifacts we were searching for had once belonged to the champions of her people and the demonic gates we were closing were created by a powerful sorceress of her kind. Looking back I am amazed at how blind I was.
My feelings for Lydia started to grow after she visited me one night to give me a warning of the future. That night, for the first time ever, my magical senses and my heart were contradicting each other. My magical sense, trained for years, told me that Lydia was evil and that I should avoid her and distrust her. My heart on the other hand recognized a wounded soul in need of help. My marriage with Vanessa strengthened my resolve however and I suppressed most feelings of sympathy I had. After Vanessa died my resolve waned and more and more I felt myself drawn closer to the mysterious Lydia. All changed when we ventured north again in search of one of the largest demonic gates. We battled our way to the chamber that held the gate, but as we were about to enter Lydia stopped us. She explained that we were too weak to stop the guardian of the gate and that in order to defeat it we would need her help. She drew her dagger and gave it to me. She called in the favor I owed her and ordered me to kill her. I later found out this was necessary because only her spirit could enter the chamber. I had made a promise to do whatever she asked, so after a few minutes of thought I stabbed the dagger in to her heart. We defeated the guardian with the help of Lydia’s spirit and closed the demonic gate. Lydia appeared dead however. We traveled back south, with Lydia’s remains, in search of civilization. Oddly enough it was during this time I admitted to myself that I had been in love with her. I had lost my wife a few months earlier and I was still grieving for her, yet the pain of losing Lydia completely overwhelmed that grief. Those weeks were filled with pain, disappointment and embarrassment. I was almost glad when we reached a village and heard of the new war with the elves. Naturally, Lydia didn’t stay dead. Some time later she woke up and came to my tent at night. I was so glad to see her. I apologized for killing her and confessed my love. My heart started soaring when I found out she returned my feelings. Now don’t get me wrong here. I was still a knight, and I still had some form of decency. After we talked she left my tent and went back to hers. I may have fallen from grace but I never lost my sense of decency. It is important to me that you, dear reader, understand this so you know I did not betray my god for a quick fling, I did so for true love.

As I explained earlier, I declared my marriage with Vanessa at an end and a few months later married Lydia. Again the marriage was a spur of the moment thing. One night she visited me and in one of our talks she asked if I was afraid to reveal our relationship to my companions. I immediately woke our priest Jason and a few hours later Lydia and I were husband and wife.
Our marriage did cause some problems among my companions as all did not agree with it. I became especially suspicious of Jason.

In the end Lydia lead us to an ancient weapon, designed to destroy the gods. This weapon could be used to end the demon threat once and for all. After some debate we decided to try the weapon, a magical crown, but we proved to lack the necessary power. Lydia offered to step in, and we agreed. We defended Lydia while she used the crown to bring down the dimensional rift that gave demons access to the world. Finally the weapon was activated and it did shut down the rift. It also disconnected the world from the higher planes and so too the One god and it lowered to level of magic in the world dramatically. At this point I could say that officially I knew nothing of what would happen if we used the crown. But I did know. I had had visions, and I knew there was a hidden agenda. For all my love for Lydia I had never truly trusted her, and now this distrust was proven right. My paladin abilities were gone, as were the abilities and spells of all paladins and clerics of the One god. My betrayal was complete. I had fallen.

I didn’t react well to the disappearance of the One god. I was angry and confused. I had completed the mission I was sent out to do but I had doomed this world to a fate that may very well be worse than the demons. I couldn’t return home to the Order anymore and my companions left me one after the other. Lanfear set out to live a peaceful quiet life and I hope she succeeded, Liandri left hating me and Jason left to go and live with his wife. I later found out he tried very hard to bring back the One. I had only one person left in the whole world, Lydia. I went back with her to her home in the north. I still loved her, but seeing her reminded me of all that I had done. The fights were unavoidable. Although I never openly confronted her she must have sensed that a part of me blamed everything on her. I stormed out of there more times than I can remember. For months I stayed away, searching my soul for answers, yet each time I returned and offered my sincere apologies. In some strange way my love for her grew even more because of her endless patience with me. When I heard the human and orcish armies were marching on the elves I decided to join them. Although I went with the intention to prevent another war things played out differently. As I met with the commanders and heard their logic my anger resurfaced. In the end I joined their cause and led troops in to battle against the elves. I convinced myself it was the right thing to do. For years the elves had done nothing while humans and orcs had bled for their safety. Only a few years before, the elves had waged a war against the humans, determined to conquer them all. Who was to say they wouldn’t do it again in a few years, or even a few months. What started out as a war quickly turned in to genocide. Troops under my command murdered men and women and slaughtered children. We burned the elven legacy to the ground, turned it in to dirt and ash. I even remember fighting one of my former companions who had joined the side of the elves. I cannot remember what happened to him, all I know is I called him a traitor and attacked. When the smoke cleared and the dust settled there was nothing left. And before I had a chance to see what I had become, we turned our gaze towards the dwarves. We tried to do the same thing to them, but they fortified themselves within their mountains. We locked them inside to starve to death. I know not what happened to them. Finally, in the quiet that came afterwards I was forced to take a good long look at myself. I was disgusted by the monster I had grown in to. Only a shadow of the man I had once been I returned to the north and to Lydia. It took me a full year to regain my spirit. I returned to the army after another argument with Lydia. I dare say she looked almost happy to see me screaming in anger again after sitting by the fire in silence for all that time. I served loyally for years, visiting Lydia only sporadically, until I started to notice that I didn’t age. It had been 30 years since the One god had disappeared and I looked only a year older. I resigned and again returned home to my wife, determined to stay there forever. I had had it with this world. I had doomed it and changed the shape of it’s history. I settled down and my anger passed. I felt like an old man even though I didn’t look like it. Almost 30 years passed.

It is as they say, time heals all wounds. My self-pity faded and I finally accepted that I was no longer a paladin. During these years I came to depend on Lydia even further. She became my sole reason for living. I let go of all I had lost and focused on that which I had gained, Lydia’s love. There were no more fights between us for I no longer blamed her for my actions. I had destroyed a world for her and should she ask I would destroy another. My only regret was that I had no-one to pass on my legacy to. Vanessa had died before we had any children and I knew elves and humans could not conceive together. Near the end of the 30 years I asked Lydia about it and she said not to give up hope.

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What came before - The decent

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The first part of my experience I feel is vital to the story is the tale of Lanfear’s familiar, an evil priestess of the One and an annoying blue dragon.
All of this took place before we figured out what exactly our goal was. I was leading the group through the border of civilized lands so we could train and become strong enough to defeat the demons and undead. During this time Lanfear had met up with her familiar, a small pseudodragon with the name Cyric. We all knew something was wrong with Cyric because he was more intelligent than others of his kind and he refused to answer several questions regarding his past and person. Despite him being Lanfear’s familiar he didn’t always obey her and sometimes even endangered her for his own benefit. It took a while, but finally even Lanfear couldn’t deny something was out of place with Cyric. She probably planned to act on it, but before she could Cyric surprised us all by saving our lives. While we were passing through a village we learned of the kidnapping of a young woman. I volunteered our group to go and save her and we tracked her assailants to a cave. The young woman had been abducted by a demonic creature and the battle to rescue her was less than successful. The creatures minions were easily defeated, but the beast itself was too strong. In the end Cyric saved us all by healing some of us. We rescued the girl and returned her to the village, but Cyrics intervention had turned him in too stone. As we traveled onwards Lanfear searched for a cure but found none. Then one night we were approached by an evil priestess of the One. She claimed to be on our side as she had no love for demons. She knew of an abandoned castle we could go to too test our mettle, she even sent along a minion of her own to help us, a shadow. Despite the threat of a trap we decided to venture in to the castle. When we walked through the gates we were greeted by a blue dragon. The battle was fierce, but we were victorious. The blue dragon fled and we were free to enter the castle. We defeated the other threats within the ruins, some were more difficult than others, and emerged several hours later tired and wounded. The blue dragon however had taken this time to strengthen himself and attacked anew. This time the battle took a turn for the worst and in the end Lanfear saved our lives by offering the dragon a means to escape his boredom. She offered him a place in our group as a companion. While I was against it, I must admit that otherwise we would have been defeated by the dragon. I tell you this tale because in retrospect these were the first times I was forced to work together with an evil creature. These were the first compromises I was forced to make, and in the end compromises like these led me to my fall. Cyric, the evil priestess, the shadow and the blue dragon, I should have known better.

My next recollection will be that of my first marriage. Although I count my years with Vanessa among some of the happiest of my life I must admit that both their beginning and their end have left me with a very ambiguous feeling.
My companions and I, including the blue dragon, had been traveling together for a while and we had destroyed many monsters. Our success had left us with a considerable amount of gold, gathered from the treasures these beasts horded. Word had also spread across the land about our adventures and we were becoming well known in the area. One evening we arrived at the gates of a small city. We were welcomed inside and invited to dine with the local lord. The man proved to be very courteous and friendly. We entertained him with tales of our exploits and he graced us by presenting some of his best food and wine. During the dinner, and even before that, during our travels, I made it abundantly clear that I wanted nothing to do with our dragon companion. This obviously didn’t please the creature at all and unbeknown to me it started to plot it’s revenge. When the night was getting old we all retired back to the inn where the lord had arranged some rooms for us. The next morning I was woken by my companions who asked me to join them at the breakfast table. The waitress who brought me my meal was Vanessa and only months later did I find out what exactly happened that morning. The dragon had found nothing else to taunt me with than a love potion. He laced my drink with it and so I was brought under the control of its magic. The first woman I would set my eyes upon would steal my heart and fate made Vanessa that woman. I remember little details from the 24 hours that followed. I remember that I showered her with lavish and expensive gifts, that I arranged it so we could spend the entire day together and that at nightfall I confessed my everlasting undying love for her and asked her to marry me. I am proud that despite the magic, my position, might and wealth I still did what was right and did not give in to the darker side of love, lust. I married Vanessa the next morning. The wedding was made possible by the lord of the city who was all too happy to help me arrange my marriage in his domain. I know not what urged me to marry her so soon. Perhaps it was the magic of the potion but I like to think it was the power of true love that fate had allowed to grow. Whatever the case we wed that morning, mere hours before the potion wore off. When the potion finally did ware off I can honestly say my feelings did not change all that much. I was very fond of Vanessa and in a few days that fondness grew in to real love. We remained in the city for only one day after the wedding because I could not delay our mission for me alone. We traveled onwards and with Vanessa at my side I withstood more than I could imagine. I finally enlisted the help of two bodyguards to keep Vanessa safe during our adventures. I met these bodyguards when me and my companions were trapped in a magical maze. For what seemed to be days we had wandered through the structure without finding an exit. The maze was full of traps and dangerous creatures. Two of these creatures were bugbears. When they attacked my patience ran out and I yelled at them to drop their weapons and surrender. To my surprise they complied. When we found a way out of the maze they followed us and a few days later they asked to join us. Again I allowed two evil creatures to travel with us, but I count those two bugbears among my greatest successes. I managed to convert them and finally came to trust them enough to protect my wife. Without them Vanessa would have died long before she did.
My marriage with Vanessa finally ended when she was killed by undead creatures. My companions and I had traveled deep in to undead territory in order to claim some ancient artifacts that could be found in a desolate and ruined city. When we finally came upon the city I decided to leave Vanessa in the care of her bodyguards and the men of my company while me and my companions ventured inside.
I remember kissing her goodbye and her last words to me: “be careful”. Not once did I imagine I would never see her again.
Our mission was successful, but when I returned my men informed me that she had been killed during an attack by undead. Both her bugbear bodyguards had survived but were in critical condition. Jason healed both the bodyguards and I rode out to find a temple capable of reviving Vanessa. I found none. Some had the ability but were unwilling to do so. It took me a while, but finally I found a temple that would resurrect her in a few months.
In those months a lot happened that changed everything however. I fell in love with another woman and reacted in a very dishonorable way. I chose to interpret the law in a very literal way and declared my marriage to Vanessa officially at an end. This because we were both sworn to each other until “death do us part”, which in fact it had. I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to her in person. I sent the two bugbears away with her body. I ordered them to take her to the temple so she could be resurrected and then to guard her with their lives until her death. I bought her a mansion, an estate with several servants and left her a considerable sum of gold. I explained, or at least tried to explain, why I had done these things in a letter. The letter was a lie however. I did not send her away because of the dangers of my life, I sent her away because of Lydia. In a way this was my first fall from grace, my first betrayal. I often wonder what Vanessa did with the rest of her life. She was still young and very beautiful so she probably found another husband. My gold should have provided her with a life of luxury and the bugbears should have kept her safe. I just hope that is how it really happened. I guess she is dead now, or at least an old woman close to dying.

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What came before - The early years

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My name is Mordred Fain. I was born almost 100 years ago in an abbey on another plane of existence. Don’t get me wrong, I am human, I was just born far away from the world I helped shape. My mother was a kind and beautiful woman albeit a little sad and lonely at times. My father, I am told, was a brave and handsome knight who’s virtue is the subject of many bard’s tale. I never actually knew my father. He was sent on a mission while I was still in the womb and never returned to his wife and child. I wonder if such is the fate of all men of war and honor. My mother and I were taken care of by the abbey where we lived. Although I lacked a father there was no shortage of father-figures for the abbey was also home to the barracks of the knightly order to whom my father had belonged. I find it hard to remember the faces of all those people, once so important to me, and even my grasp on the memories of my mother, Linea, seems to be crumbling. I guess all does fade with time. I remember little of the early years of my life, except that it was a pleasant and care-free time. My true life began the day I was accepted in to the Order as a page. For years I trained under the tutelage of many a knight who’s names and souls have long since passed in to the mists of time. They weren’t friendly and warm but neither were they cruel and cold. They were just, and that was all that mattered. I learned much from their experience and I dare say I made them proud. My skills with the lance and sword were decent, if not exceptional, but my true areas of expertise were riding and leadership (although the tests were hypothetical and did not prepare me for leading a band of brigands as I later found out). My time as squire was the shortest known in the Order and the day I received my spurs was one of the most beautiful in my long life. As I exited the great hall I could almost feel my father’s spirit looking down upon me with pride in his hart.

You may have noticed that I am skipping most of my younger years. This is done, not because of its irrelevance, but because of the pain it brings me to watch the reflection of my younger self. So ignorant, naive and innocent. A vision of an angel if compared to the demon I see in the mirror each day now.

For a few years I served the order by guarding the abbey and aiding the priests in the temple. Now and then I was sent out to assist other more experienced knights with their missions. It took several years before the Order decided I was ready to accept a mission of my own. Looking back I can’t help but question their decision. I was ordered to meet up with several other people, not all of them humans. The world I was being sent to was at war. In the north the lands of the humans were under attack by armies of undead creatures and to the south the orcish lands were being invaded by hordes of demons. And while humans and orcs alike were fighting for the survival of all that is good and kind, the elves and dwarves of this world did nothing but bicker among themselves and each other. The people I was sent to meet were chosen by a prophecy to free their world from the demonic and undead invaders. My mission was to protect them and keep them alive long enough to play their part in the prophecy. I clearly remember the oath I took that day, the day of my departure, a renewal of the oath I had taken when I first became a knight.

“I Mordred Fain, do solemnly swear and pledge my life to the one god, to defend his word and obey him until death shall take me, and to uphold the honor of knighthood and all the virtues it encompasses.”

As a tribute to the cruelty of life I repeat this oath to myself every day. And although many years have passed and much has happened I still feel my heart pounding each time I repeat the words, as if they give my life meaning. As if there still is someone out there, listening.

I met up with the group without any problems. The group consisted of a female elven shadowdancer, Liandri, a young human woman named Lanfear who was a sorceress and few other people, mostly misguided paladins, who joined and left at a whim. Later on we were joined by a human man named Jason Valterra who was a priest of the One god. We traveled together for many years and got to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We were there during each other’s good times and bad times.

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