Part 34: A murder of Raven- A murder of Raven
I got what I needed from Quarhodron, so it was back to Saturas to tell him the news.
"About the relics: what about these?"
"That looks good. Where did you find that?"
"I found these tablets in a building to the south."
"Ah! A tablet of the guardians of the dead, It was they who summoned the spirits of their dead. The builders' connection to their ancestors was very strong."
I showed him the tablet from the southwest part of the valley. "I found these tablets in a structure to the southwest."
"Judging from the tablet, it has something to do with the housing for the priests of the city. The highest priests' name was Khardimon."
Lastly, I showed him what I'd found in the canyon. "This piece was lying in a large building in a deep ravine."
"That was the library of the ancient people. Apparently a tablet of the scholars. Many of the scripts we have found can be traced to the leader of the 'Caste of Scholars'. Curiously enough, he did not leave his own name anywhere. Now we have collected all of the relics we need."
"The problem with the temple gate is solved." I added.
"Has the spirit spoken?"
I nodded. "Yes, he has."
"Then you know how to get into the temple."
"Correct. And he also told me what is in the temple. He spoke of a mighty sword and the chambers of Adanos."
Saturas' eyes widened with terror. "By Adanos! What fools we are. How could we be so innocent. The hints in the records.. This sword can only be the 'Claw of Beliar". We must get to those chambers as soon as possible and take possession of the weapon. "
"What are the chambers of Adanos?"
"We now know that the entrance is not the only obstacle that prevents us from entering the depths of the temple. In the temple itself, there are three chambers which are meant to deter all intruders. The colored relics of the builders are the key. Only if we gather all of the relics and solve their riddles will we enter the inner sanctum of the temple. I don't know whether Raven was able to decipher the riddles of the temple, but if that is the case we have a big problem."
"What is the 'Claw of Beliar'?"
"It is the incarnation of Evil. Beliar HIMSELF created it. Whoever bears it possesses a terrible tool of destruction. The more powerful the bearer is, the mightier the power of the 'Claw'. Only someone who is strong of spirit and steadfast in his faith can withstand its spell. Now it is clear to me why the builders sealed off this valley. They brought this weapon of Evil into their city and fell under its power. Those arrogant fools destroyed one another out of greed. The cruelty knew no end until Adanos' wrath swept across the land and sank everything into the sea. Indeed. The creators of the portal did well to hide these things from the rest of the world." Saturas shook his head. "What a tragic end for such a wonderful culture. Do you realize the urgency of our mission now? Raven is a strong fighter and is blinded by his lust for power. In his hand, the Claw will be an instrument of destruction. He must not get the weapon or we shall all be lost."
"What exactly should I do with the relics in the temple?" I asked.
"We know too little. However, it is to be hoped that you will recognize their significance once you are in the temple. I am sorry that I cannot tell you more. It is all up to you now. Take the relics and make your way immediately to the temple. May Adanos be merciful and protect us all."
Saturas was right, so I immediately went inside the portal to the bandit camp and ventured back into the ancient temple.
In the only other accessible room of the temple I found a whole host of zombies, presumably former bodyguards of Raven. They armor identical to what I now wore, and looked as though they had only been dead for a few days.
They were much too numerous and powerful for me to face one on one, so I lured them into a close group and unleashed upon them a firestorm. With the area behind me now clear, I walked over to the door that would take me further inside the temple.
I knelt in front of the door, as Raven had done, and repeated the words on Quarhodron's tablet. "Jhehedra Akhantar."
Slowly, the door opened.
I now found myself within the temple itself. The torches that lined the walls were new, no doubt lit by Raven on his way down.
On the left most side of the room, I found the first of the traps. A series of five buttons, each one depicting a different event. I stepped back and looked over the tablets for a clue.
The red stone tablet, or rather what was engraved on it, seemed to give a hint.
"We, the last three leaders of the Council of Five, have provided the chambers of the temple with traps and hidden the entrance so that the sword will never again see the light of day."
Something about three parts of the engraving stood out to me. Three, traps, light. On a hunch, I pressed the buttons depicting those sames things. First I pressed the left most button, then the right most, and finally the center. Sure enough, the door began to slowly raise.
The next room contained a pit surrounded by several stone sentinels. I prepared myself for combat. I had no doubt that they would awaken when I neared, and that is exactly what they did.
Five doors lined the edge of the room. I recalled what the tablets said about the second trap. I needed to enter the hall with the light in order to make it past. The second door from the right seemed the most likely candidate.
The lit hallway led to yet another chamber, this one pitch black. I was unfortunately out of spell scrolls for light, so I lit a torch. Using my foot I pressed the center of one of the tiles in front of me. It gave out, revealing a pit full of spikes.
To get across, I needed to carefully make my way over without touching the dark portions.
Now I had finally come to the last trap. A room with the potential to be filled with spikes. The ghost of Rhademes, the son of Quarhodron, wandered throughout The clue for the third trap stated that only he would know the way.
"My spirit has been captive for an eternity. At last I am free. The sword has a new bearer. The final chamber has been opened."
"But the gate appears closed!"
"This is not the gate to the final chamber. THIS gate merely leads to the antechamber. The bearer.. has closed it behind him."
"How do I open the gate?"
"Move one of the levers."
"All of these levers open the gate." the ghost lied.
"Your father built the trap, how would YOU know how it works?"
"QUARHODRON! I can still hear the pounding of the hammers on the other side of the gate after so long a time. The sword showed me revenge for my failure."
"You mean you have seen which lever is the right one?"
"I have long forgotten it."
"Think!" I shouted.
"It was so long ago.." The spirit slowly walked over to one of the levers and pulled it. Spikes erupted from the bottom of the room, but luckily I was standing where they could not touch me.
The door to the antechamber slowly opened.
The hall of the antechamber was lined on each side with stone sentinels. One by one I approached and smashed each to bits. Raven was through the next door and nothing now would stop me.
I was now in the final chamber. At the very other side, I could see Raven kneeling before something. I steadfastly approached.
"Look who has come. My master warned me that Innos would send his henchman but I had not expected that you would appear so soon. Well, since you were so quick I shall give you a quick death."
"You are the one who is going to die."
"You are no threat to me. I bear Beliar's sword. I shall the lead the dragons to the mainland. Together we will plunge the world of men into the deepest darkness."
"You sold your soul to Beliar."
"For a good price. I shall command his armies as a general. And what about you? Do you know how much your soul is worth?"
"I'm only doing what has to be done."
Raven laughed. "Listen to him. You have sent me a humble servant, Innos."
"Are you SURE that I'm a servant of Innos?"
"What? What are you saying?"
"Don't you consider it possible that I could be a servant of Adanos?"
"Maybe I also server Beliar - or only myself."
"Well in that case you are not even a worthy opponent for me!"
"I've had it. Let us begin."
"Are you in such a hurry to die? Well, since you insist!"
My battle with Raven lasted what seemed like forever. His sword was unlike any I had ever seen. Whenever I managed to score a hit upon him, I was shocked by a stray bolt of lightning.
We continued exchanging blows, though after a few I'd inevitably need to recover with a potion. Eventually, though, I wore him down.
Raven lay dead on the floor, the Claw of Beliar on the ground next to him. I could not let this stay here. The temple was compromised. I took it.
At the far end of the chamber was a passage that led upstairs to one of the builders portals.
The portal took me outside of the temple where Thorus stood waiting.
"I did it." I told him. "Raven is finished."
"That means you've given Beliar a swift kick. Then you'll be moving on?"
"My job in this valley is done. I could use a few days' rest." Unfortunately I didn't have that luxury.
"Yeah, you're constantly on the move, aren't you? Have a good journey."
"Who knows, maybe we'll run into each other again."
"Who knows. There will be lots of gates and passages for you to go through. And you're bound to find me on one of them."
Despite our past, Thorus was not a bad guy at all. I did truly hope that this would not be the last I'd see of him.
After meeting with Thorus I returned to the Water Mages' camp and reported straight to Saturas.
"The earthquakes have stopped and, as I see, you are still among the living. Does that mean your mission was successful?"
"Yes. Raven is dead."
"Then it is over. Thank Adanos. You have done well, my son. We are deep in your debt. You have snatched a powerful weapon away from Evil and restored the balance in this part of the world. When the earthquakes died away, we discussed what should happen now and reached a conclusion: Go and take the 'Claw of Beliar'. May it be yours to bear from now on. In your hand it may prove a mighty ally for us. Use it wisely, my son. My Adanos help you. We shall remain here and see to it that the temple is restored to its old brilliance. Only Myxir is already on his way to Khorinis to support Vatras. Vatras has been alone in the city for too long."
"I have taken the 'Claw of Beliar'."
"The Claw of Beliar is a very SPECIAL weapon. It has its own will and consciousness. You, who now possess this mighty weapon, are its lord and master. It is a part of you and will adapt itself to your capabilities. However, it will not do that of its own free will. Only Beliar HIMSELF can force it to obey you."
"What can I do with the weapon?"
"That lies in your hands. You have conquered the weapon and are now its master. I can only recommend what you can do with it. Either you can give it to me and I shall see to it that it can do no further harm or you put its power to use and wield it in battle."
"And why should Beliar help me?"
"Only a prayer to Beliar can achieve that. But be careful. Beliar is malicious. If you arouse His wrath, then he will let you feel it."
"What will you do now?" I asked.
"We shall stay here and help the temple regain its former glory. All too long have its walls been in this lamentable condition. As far as you are concerned, my son. I am glad to see that I was not mistaken about you. You are the Preserver of the Balance. There is no longer any doubt about that. Without your courage and strength, the Island of Khorinis would have drowned. We thank you and will honor you in our thoughts. Devote yourself now to the other tasks that lie before you and return this world to balance and peace. Now go and fulfill your destiny, Preserver. Our prayers will go with you. May Adanos protect you."
My work was now done in Jharkendar. I entered the temple that I first arrived in and once more entered walked through the large portal.
Back in the city, I reported my success to both Myxir and Vatras. They were quite pleased and offered me a reward of coin for my service to the Ring of Water.
My first priority, though, was to activate the Claw of Beliar and attune it to myself. Saturas said I'd need to find a shrine of Beliar and it just so happened that I knew where one was.
The top of Xardas' tower houses the very first shrine to Beliar that I'd come across.
I knelt before it, offering a prayer to the dark God. I could feel my insides twisting and contorting. Whatever it was that Beliar took from me, it sure hurt a hell of a lot. When it was over I felt weak and nauseous, but the Claw had been empowered.
I looked over the sword. It had been reshaped and adapted in a way that would be useful to me. No longer would it be held with both hands, it had reshaped itself into a one handed blade. I could feel the power flowing through it. I had a powerful new ally in my fight against Beliar and, oddly enough, it was also a part of him.