31 - Lords of the Vale

Chapter 30: Lords of the Vale

I led our bugbear warriors against the final defenders that held the last bridge and after a mighty struggle we prevailed. The last priests of Aroden and Holy Warriors fell before the ravenous bugbears and the way to Sanctum lay open to us.

We entered the city in triumph and the two bugbear captains immediately proposed different strategies for occupying the city. Hekkarth wanted to gather up the citizens and murder them all leaving nothing but a pyramid of skulls for the Chelish warriors to find in spring. Shaggroth proved to be more practical and suggested rounding up the leading citizens and questioning them about the surrounding regions.

In the meanwhile the Reeve of the town petitioned us to spare the women and children by sending them outside the walls. I agreed to spare them but decided to keep them here in Sanctum rather than sending them out to spread the word of the fall of the Vale. This meant we had to keep a firm hand on the bugbear warriors to prevent them from the more vile predations of the people. Those who come to Asmodeus, willingly or not, must be treated within the bounds of agreements made.

It took us nearly a week to consolidate our hold on the city and return life to a somewhat normal pattern. In that time we learned that the Mountain of the Phoenix reportedly was home to an actual and invincible creature of that type. We also learned that the Cathedral of Aroden Made Manifest was all but impregnable with a massive labyrinth guarding it. Our two allies refused to send bugbears to help us subdue either.

We sent half of our remaining force back to the Tower of Saintsbridge to guard against counterattacks although with winter settling in this seemed unlikely.

Shaggroth reported that the leader of the Order of Iomedae had not been captured and was still somewhere plotting our downfall. We were to learn that this rumor was all too true and if we had not eventually assaulted the Cathedral all would have been lost.

The prospect of taking on the invincible Phoenix and the impregnable fortress of the Cathedral gave us all pause and we dallied in town for several weeks before galvanizing ourselves for the attack. Even now, all these years later, I think back to the Garden of Serenity and the masters of that beautiful place. My only comfort in its destruction is that without the firm rule of Asmodeus it would have died in any case and not at the hands of men with the best interests of Cheliax in their hearts.

Even with that rationalization I fully understand that I was the force that brought death to such good men. The blood of the Master of Serenity, the Oracle, and most of all gentle Ara Mathra is on my hands. The stain will never cleanse.

31 - Lords of the Vale

Way of the Wicked tomlib