Part 47: Story Recap
Previously on Divine Divinity...
I just heard the news. Congratulations, Jenna. Look at you. Just 28 years old, and you're going to be an ambassador. Even for you, that's impressive.
Thank you, but it's not as impressive as you think. The Dukedom of Ferol is mostly just farmland and forest. I won't have many real responsibilities when I'm there.
The handwriting of the letter suggested that it had been written in a panic, it was fast and erratic, with no flourishes.
Jeremiah Liro - I'm a friend of Jenna. She's missing, I may not survive long. Hiding from assassin while writing this. Something terribly wrong in Stormfist. Don't know who to trust. Come to Ferol. Urgent.
That was it, aside from an "R" scribbled at the bottom in an even hastier fashion than the rest of the letter.
There was a strange design, an arcane tattoo wrapped around my right wrist. No ordinary tattoo glowed with yellow light. It itched as I stared at it. It was possible I had it before I lost my memory... but I doubted it. It didn't seem even remotely familiar.
They Are Coming. The Black Ring
Who are you?
Here I am.
That spell trapped you. Those people, the... what was it - The Black Ring - they were going to kill you.
Who are the Black Ring?
rom the pen of Zenfar Blutsporn, Chief Archivist of the Black Circle and last living member of the Legion of the Damned.
y children: I am dying. The blessing laid upon me by the Lord of Chaos is finally coming to an end, those comrades of mine who had survived the war with the foul and treacherous League of Seven, have already fallen and I know I am now the last. This does not embitter me, I know that at the last battle we failed our master and let him be banished by wicked and deceitful magic. I know that I have lived fully six hundred years since that shameful day and that is indeed, terrible proof of our dark lord's continuing and benevolent power - even though he now resides in Hell.
believe that my continued survival is due to the fact that I have more than one demonic ancestor and that our master is still in need of me. Or so I hope. But I feel that it is my place to speak some sense to you as my life draws to a close, like a final curtain. I am the last of the Damned, and although the League gave us that hated name - I am proud to be called such. But you...you are a bunch of back biting, bickering and foolish silk wearing whelps! This new so-called generation, those that call themselves the Black Ring. You may have created many fine ceremonies to glorify your insignificant doings, but none of you has felt, as I have the pure glory of standing shoulder to shoulder with your demonic allies and facing down a phalanx of battle-ready dwarves, all howling like rabid wolves and chanting the name of their goddess, Duna. None of you has cast warspells at the foe in bloody battles or slaved over a hot branding iron, marking prisoners for brutal sacrifice to our black-hearted master.
have seen all of this, and I have done all of this, and much respect it has earned me from you young fools! In the heyday of our greatness, we lived for one pure goal only, one reason: To avenge the wrongdoings done to our mighty order by those mortal fleas...they murdered our Archwizard and drove us like cattle from our home in Stormfist castle. They dared to question our research, our ways and us...so in the name of survival and vengeance we made a terrible pact with the legions of Hell. The Seven races then had the gall to call us the Damned, because our only allies were demons! They too are fools and all should be crushed. But do you know whom I despise more than those festering fools, that loose rabble of semi-intelligent drooling subspecies in Rivellon? Yes, you, you meekly lurk in the mountains dabbling in minor hate magics and petty, pathetic storm gathering...how great you are...you young whelps do not know that you are alive!
here is your fire, your spirit, where's the cold ruthless hate that we of the Damned were renowned for? You don't know how to kill; most of you have only committed a tiny amount of the killings that we once reveled in, during most of your whimpering lives added together! And what were these killings? They were the results of all the petty in fighting in your precious Black Ring. That is what they were! Heed these words that I write now, it is your duty, your purpose and right to butcher, enslave and murder those mewling pathetic fools in Rivellon...torture the Seven races of Rivellon - for what they did to us in the past, show them your heart and then tear theirs from their still living breast! But now comes the time for you young bastards to take note of my words, listen and mark these with your lives...do not ignore what I am about to share with you...unless you wish to live in those pretty mountains of yours and play at being wizards? The great Archmage once
[some sentences are illegible]
a second chance for our master. With Chaos banished from the mortal plane, it remained as a subtle link to him, a tenuous but permanent link to our beloved master. But Ulthring was slain at the last battle,
[an entire paragraph is illegible]
ut as I write this, I can feel my spirit failing me, my spies have informed me that the present servants and castle staff do not know of the artefacts presence nor of its power. So the secret of its location may be held deep within the Ferol family alone. I will take my own life at Brokentooth Crag, since I have always enjoyed the view from up there...I will not simply die and fade like a whisper on the wind. So with my last breath this I command of ye all...let old hatreds be unshackled, begin the quest once more for revenge and sow discord amongst the races of Rivellon - with the races in upheaval there might be enough disorder to bring the Chaos Lord back to us, then revenge can be ours for the taking...even though I shall be long dead. Murder and maim, cause hatred and suffering, bring the lands to a destructive brink. Remember my children that the Seven races think that the Lord of Chaos safely locked away and the Damned truly dead and gone. With my death the latter part shall be true, but I leave with you a legacy of hatred and revenge...they are ignorant of your presence, they may not even know that you exist so you can swiftly move against them. But be subtle, use their own ignorance and prides against them - infiltrate their petty lives and bend your every will to
[part of a sentence is illegible]
is the key to Hell itself. Now go forth my hateful children, rob, steal, murder and undermine...spy and torture...commit every evil act that you can think of - [a few words are illegible], open the gateway to Hell and I will be there to greet you, I and the rest of the Legions of the Damned and together with the aid of the Lord of Chaos - we shall return and turn what remains of the lands into a charnel house.
Yours in eternal darkness and hate,
A hooded being riding a baby dragon suddenly swooped up. I sensed evil in it. I knew I was in deep trouble.
Marked Who? What's he talking about?
You've mistaken me for somebody else. Who are these Marked Ones you are looking for, oh lizard-jockey?
Your aura betrays you, piggy human. There is no mistake: a Marked One you are, and for that and the 'lizard-jockey' remark you are about to die!
Smooth move, idiot. Now your big mouth is about to get yourself killed.
Wait, damn you! What's this aura you are talking about?
What? You don't know? By the Chaos Lord, that's interesting. I wonder what it can mean.... Well, it is a consideration for later... Now, let's see if your impenetrable ignorance will stop me from gutting you!
It seems I've found you just in time. Let me have a look at you.
He took my arm and peeled off the bandages covering my tattoo. "Yes...yes..." I instinctively flinched at the thought of someone seeing the mark, but the wizard held my arm in a firm grip.
The tattoo was still there, but the glow was almost completely gone. The tattoo appeared to be almost black. "yes... yes..." he mumbled to himself. As I watched, the glow returned, although it was still dimmer than the brightness it was when I first noticed it.
Yes yes yes! Well, that's a relief. Everything seems like it should be.
He retied the bandages, and then seemed to remember some manners.
Greetings, Marked One! My name is Zandalor, and you don't know how glad I am to see you.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, sir. My name is Jeremiah Liro. That was damn close. Who was this... creature?" I asked, gasping.
That, my friend, was a dragon rider. Haven't seen one of them in a long time. Nasty specimen, too. His presence here is proof that my suspicions were right, the Black Ring is aware of your existence.
I don't like the sound of that at all.
It also means that they intend to put an end to you as soon as possible.
What? Who is this 'Black Ring' and why do they want me dead?
They want you dead because you're one of the Marked Ones - quite possibly the only living beings who have it in them to thwart their foul plans.
Is it possible for you to be any vaguer?
*sigh* As to who they are, that's a long story. Know for now that they are a dark cult of evil sorcerers and witches.
Just what I need, a demented fan club stalking me. Now could you tell me why everyone is calling me 'Marked One'?
"Isn't that obvious?" Zandalor asked, indicating the tattoo under my bandages. "Because you are a Marked One of course!"
Zandalor saw the confused and exasperated expression on my face. "Wait a moment... you mean... you don't know?"
"Know what?" I said testily.
"Oh my... well, I'm afraid that explaining it to you will take quite some time," Zandalor said. He looked up and the sky to check the position of the sun and sighed.
Look, first I have to go and find the third marked one. If the Black Ring know about your existence, they might also know about him too. I'm not happy about leaving you behind here, especially since you seem ignorant of your own condition, but I think you should be safe enough for a while.
I don't find that comforting at all.
What I suggest is that you go to the Dwarven Bread Inn, and wait for me there. When I've found the third Marked One, we'll all meet at that place.
"I am looking for a man called Zandalor," I said, showing the mystery man the scroll. "He is rather old and has a beard. He said he would meet me here."
Zandalor sent you? That must mean that you too are a Marked one. My name is Wouter Jansen.
I am Jeremiah Liro. Zandalor mentioned that I am a Marked One. Do you know what this all means, other than the fancy tattoo on the wrist?
You can see it? It's under a thick gauntlet.
You can see mine under these bandages, can't you? I can't see the glow on myself, and no one else has commented on it either, other than Zandalor. I don't think everyone can see it, perhaps it's only because we are both Marked. ... not that I know what that means. Did Zandalor, perhaps enlighten you about what this means?
I am as puzzled as you about the matter, Jeremiah. Sorry.
I hope we never have to find out. I met Zandalor yesterday, he said to meet him here, and he hasn't returned. Do you know where he is?
He has gone to Stormfist Castle to find yet another Marked One, I believe.
"Just how many of these Marked Ones are there?" I muttered rhetorically to myself. We both knew the answer, of course.
I stood up. I still had to find out what happened to Jenna, and waiting around just wasn't me.
I think I will go to the castle and find Zandalor.
Wouter frowned. "Zandalor said we should wait here! I am sure he will return shortly," he objected.
"He might have found you quickly, but it took him three days to find me." I said firmly. "Who knows how long he'll take to return this time, IF he even returns at all? I still think I should go to the castle. Maybe Zandalor is in trouble and needs help. If he returns while I am gone, tell him I shall check back here from time to time."
Jeremiah Liro from Idfrennia?! Is it really you?
Yes, I'm from Idfrennia, how do you know-
Thank the Gods you got my letter!
Tell me, please! What happened to my sister?
Does Jenna's disappearance have anything to do with the reason the Duke's son sent an assassin after you?
I'm afraid so. That malignant brat, Janus, wants me dead because I questioned the circumstances of his father's death. Something about how the old duke died seemed fishy to me.
You got Jenna involved in your investigation, didn't you. What were you THINKING?!
I wasn't encouraging her. I mentioned to her what I was doing and she insisted on helping investigate. I-I should have tried harder to stop her, if anything happened to her, I'll never forgive myself.
Words don't mean a damn thing, not anymore. ... My sister can be too stubborn for her own good sometimes. But I didn't come all this way to lose hope now. Now, tell me what happened when Jenna disappeared.
It was a few weeks ago. I entered my room in the castle, and lit the lamp. I was about to remove my armor when I heard something behind me. ... Like all evil men, he felt the need to have a good gloat over me when he thought me helpless. That's when I kicked him in the nadgers. Still, he was fast, and he never let go of his sword, so I ran. I knew that they might also have sent someone after Jenna.
Richard paused for a drink of water. "I made it to her room, but she wasn't there. I knew something was wrong, though. Someone had clearly been there and searched the place. Some things were out of their usual place.
"I looked everywhere I could reasonably go," he said softly. "When I couldn't find her, I spent a few minutes - keep in mind, Jeremiah, that the assassin was still hunting me through the castle. I spent a few minutes writing a note to you, and secreting it in the outgoing mail. If I had only been interested in saving my own skin, I would have been better served by making my escape immediately."
"But you don't know for sure that she's in trouble, right?" I said with faint hope.
Richard sighed. "I waited for her at the spot we knew for two days. She never showed."
Stormfist Castle. This is the last place Jenna was known to be.
What do I have to do to gain entry to Stormfist castle?
Well... The old duke occasionally invited people to the castle to congratulate them for completing important services for Rivertown or the surrounding regions.
Really? What do you suggest I do to obtain such an invitation?
You could talk to Commander Ralph of the Town Watch. They're based just south of here. He sometimes asks outsiders to investigate... er... "politically sensitive" matters.
Sir, I was told that you could get me an invitation to Stormfist Castle.
Stranger, I've suspected for some time that the old duke was murdered. I don't believe he died a natural death, that's for sure. But my superiors refuse to accept my suspicions. I've gone as far as I can in my investigation, unfortunately. I could use your help, if you feel up to it. Find the assassin who murdered the Duke and I'll see that you'll get your invitation.
You haven't really left me with much choice now have you. What do I have to do?
Go and speak with Sir Dante. He's a rich merchant living in Verdistis. It's my suspicion that he knows how to contact the Assassins' Guild.
Whoever you are, get out, I'm busy.
I'm here to see Sir Dante.
Sir Dante has a very busy schedule. Perhaps you can do something which will help curry your favour. One thing I can say is there has been recent heated discussions with his wife, and Sir Dante is of a mind to calm his wife's temper with an expensive gift.
How can I help?
Visit Elmer Vignus, the dwarven jeweller in the Dwarven Halls. Tell him you were sent by me to pick up Sir Dante's gift for his wife.
I picked the flasks up and immediately detected a strange odor.
These flasks smell funny... Who hid them here? And why?
Poisoning the well?! What bastard demonspawn could do such a thing?
"You dare to call yourself a Doctor!" I yelled at him angrily. "Well, I've found a very interesting letter in your secret cellar DOCTOR Elrath! What have you to say about it?
Elrath dropped the shame approach and went for self-righteous indignation instead. "YOU SNUCK INTO MY HOME! How dare you!" He shouted, his face red with anger. "I have powerful friends at the royal court, you know."
"Really?" I said mildly. "Please, tell me all about them. I'm all ears."
Elrath glowered at me. "Do not think that you can get away with this outrage. You shall pay for this. Get OUT!"
"See you in prison, Doctor," I taunted him as I left his house.
I'm sorry, but the victims... they're getting worse.
There's only one solution, terrible as it is. We can only save two of the sick. The third will die.
I'm sorry, Tibus. I found a cure... but there was only enough for two people. I gave the cures to the other sick patients.
Tibus let out one last breath, and didn't inhale again. Joram checked his pulse and found nothing.
He's dead. Thank you for being here, Jeremiah. You should go get some rest now. I'll take care of things here and send word to Sir Dante.
Yes. Tibus here is... I'm sorry... he was Dante's son.