PROLOGUE - Tone.   Posted by Dungeon Master.Group: 0
Dungeon Master
 GM, 12 posts
Sat 8 May 2021
at 09:44
Sympathy for the Devil

Tone could see home, or at least the small barn her parents had been renting on the western outskirts of Arabel. Unwelcome in major cities the family of Tieflings found it easier to keep on the move, never staying in one place too long to outstay their welcome. Once the whispers started it was usually time to leave, her family had gotten good at avoiding trouble when passing through the cities. Tone never had much luck with others, her race were thought of suspiciously at best and chased out of town at worst. The exact thing that happened to her earlier that day as she travelled through Eveningstar. A group of human youths she expected were around her own age took particular attention to her as she was passing through the town. It wasn't until she was on the outskirts that they started giving chase, clubs and pitchforks in hand, screaming obscenities at her. Tone almost ran into a temple she passed on the road for refuge but thought it not much more likely she would find help there.

So she ran for an hour even though she lost the thugs when they gave up after about fifteen minutes. Tone was terrified. Her two week 'adventure' had started off well enough and she was surprised but pleased with the results. She didn't know what her family would think and especially her Grandmother, who had been such a role model to her growing up. A teacher and mentor, someone she had respected and admired. Had? Or did? Exhausted feet carried her to the door of the barn, it was late in the evening and her parents were likely inside having finished their work for the day. They had not been happy with her intention to leave and were worried, as any parents would be but parents of a young Tiefling girl are especially.

Tone stepped through the door, as expected her parents were inside and turned to her.  They had work at the farm when she left and had promised they would stay and wait for her, whatever happened. Fortunately this farmer needed the hands and wasn't too fussed about where he got them. Most of the hicks outside of the city were too superstitious to give them a chance.

Her mother dropped the hardtack she was eating to the ground. "Oh, Neborys. You made it!" She ran over while Tone's father stood and eyed her carefully. "My dear girl." Her mother continued, holding her hands to Tone's face she lifted it up and gasped. "No! Neborys! What happened to your eye!"

She franticaly waved over her husband while studying Tone, "Are you hurt? What happened?" She ran a hand over the tatoo on the skin around Tone's silver eye, "And what is that?"
 player, 16 posts
Sat 8 May 2021
at 18:21
She had almost forgotten.

No, that was a lie. She'd put it from her mind, but every stray reflection from steel, water or glass reminded her that she'd changed - superficially at least. Tone reached up and touched her fingertips to the curved arcs and the double-lines slashing through a left eye that had been gold when she'd left the barn last. Of course that was two weeks ago. She was a different person now, and she dropped the velvet sack of borrowed things to the rough-cut kitchen table they stood by.

"Mum," she soothed, one hand on her shoulder and the other at her mother's side. "Da. I did it," and suddenly both her eyes were wet, regardless of their hue.

"I went where Grandma said," the older Tiefling warlock had showed the young Neborys a warmth growing up that was rare given her usual sharp manner. Perhaps in some ways she'd treated the young Tiefling as her heir in a way she never had her son. Perhaps in some ways Neborys was her true heir, but... "Up to the old place of power in the heights. There were a few guards there like she said, but they weren't a problem to get past." They were both closer now, though her father tried to give them some space before her arms snaked out around their sides and dragged them in for a tight embrace. Who knew if this would be the last time she could share their worry and their love? She didn't think it was likely - but then it wasn't until she was up there that she'd realised she could actually die doing this.

She realised a lot of things.

"She was right," she continued at last. "When I began the ritual, I could feel their attention almost immediately; watching me from a long way away but coming towards me very fast." And she had been scared. And she'd suddenly seen a vision of where this path was taking her. And she had panicked.

"I have a Patron now?" she said, the corners of her mouth turning up. "I did it. And after we made our pact, when he touched me," she touched her fingertips to her eye, "he left his mark."

She looked from one to the other, then drew the new reservoir of power she'd been gifted into her hands and projected it invisibly towards the old blue-grey bowl in the centre of the table which began to glow with an unearthly pale silver light that lit up the main room of the barn.

"So - I'm a warlock now I guess? My eye is fine. It doesn't feel quite the same... but I think that's just me feeling different." And also it was silver now, so that was different too.

"I can't stay for long, but I needed to see you both first." She squeezed them close. "I couldn't have you thinking things had gone wrong," even if maybe they had a little. She looked around, looking a little apprehensive.

"Is Grandma here?"
Dungeon Master
 GM, 28 posts
Sun 9 May 2021
at 03:12
Tone's mother's eyes widened at the display of sorcery. Smiling she stepped back and shook her head, "No, grandmother is not here now."

Her father took a step closer as her mother returned to her seat. Tone's grandmother was renown among infernal circles as having a very strong bloodline, a powerful warlock in her own right with a very powerful patron. Tone's father never gained the attention of a patron, a rare break in the family’s bloodline. Her father never really discussed it; all Tone knew was that he had attempted to on two occasions. Once when he was around her age and again just before he met her mother.

Her father placed two fingers beneath Tone's chin, lifted her face and looked at her silver eye. He frowned, studying the eye and tattoo carefully. Finally, he smiled and wrapped his arms around Tone in a tight embrace. "Abyss be praised. Your grandmother will be delighted." He pulled back and only because Tone knew him so well she noticed the relief in his eyes and perhaps a glistening wetness of restrained tears.

"I had always feared I had done something wrong for our family to fall out of favour with The Archfiend, never was I blessed by attentions from the Hells." He clasped Tone's shoulder and sighed, looking briefly to the ritual implements Tone had returned. "It is a grand thing. A relief to me. There will yet be a place of power in The Nine Hells for our family." His grip on her shoulder tightened, "The fiend that has bound you to them. You must listen to whatever they ask. Their wants, their needs, their desires. You must satisfy them." He patted her shoulder and returned to eating dinner besides Tone's mother.

"Come! It's only biscuits tonight but I feel our fortune changing." Her father motioned for Tone to join them. "Your grandmother left shortly after you, she has not yet returned. But you know her, impulsive and secretive. I'm sure she will be happy to hear your story when she returns."

"Dear, Neborys just said she was going." Her mother interjected, looking to Tone with concern.

"What? Leaving? Why?" Her father seemed genuinely surprised. "Such news should be celebrated and your grandmother should know!"

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:00, Sun 09 May.

 player, 26 posts
Sun 9 May 2021
at 08:09
"I, uh," Tone was sweating now. She had been afraid of facing up to her parents ever since making the pact with her patron. In some ways the thought of disappointing family expectations was scarier than any wandering pack of orcs. At least she'd seen them in time to avoid them, but there was no evading this conversation with her parents. Somehow it didn't even occur to her to lie to them. She'd tried it before growing up, and they always seemed to know.

"I don't know if she will be happy at me," she began as she automatically sat lightly on the chair across from them, automatically lifting the biscuit to her mouth as she began to chew. There was nothing like her mother's savoury biscuits, the delicious spiced flavours lasting even after days of travel knocking around in her satchel. Freshly baked they were amazing, and she took a moment to savour the casserole and pastry her parents dumped on her plate before she went on.

"Grandma told me to call out for the Archfiend himself to pledge my eternal service." She took a bite, hovering nervously as she chewed. "And I started to. But when I began calling, I felt his awful gaze burning on me and..." she gulped, her composure cracking, then went on in a rush, "I called for someone else. Something else. I don't want to go to the Hells, Da. I don't want to serve the Hells. I'm so tired of every small town small minded idiot treating me like I'm a devil myself because of the way I look. Aren't you tired of getting chased out of town? I am."

Looking at their faces, she swallowed hard and picked up two more biscuits instead of eating them. "I don't serve a fiend. But my Patron isn't entirely sure what to make of me either I think, so he wants me to prove myself and soon. I," she braced herself. "I know it's not what you wanted for me, Mum and Da. But it's what I want to do, even though I know it won't be easy."

"Even if you're not happy, can you at least be happy for me?"

She suspected her grandmother wouldn't be.

Cha Persuasion: 11

16:40, Today: Tone rolled 11 using 1d20+3.  Charisma.

Dungeon Master
 GM, 34 posts
Mon 10 May 2021
at 00:42

Both of Tone's parents sat still, they looked between themselves and back to Tone wordlessly. Her father sighed and dropped his head, her mother turned to Tone and smiled sadly. "Sweet Neborys. Ever you tried to play with the other children. Even when they snubbed and insulted you and threw rocks you kept trying. We suffer in this world to live in positions of power in the next. Our souls reborn as archdevils in the Nine Hells, the loyal and loved of Asmodeus."

Tone's father set his elbows on the table and dropped his head in his palms. "What wrong have I done? I have cursed this family, what wrong did I do to deserve this shame." He looked up, his self-pity quickly turning to anger, "You foolish, naive child. You are scared of the Hells? Girl, you were born of the Hells! You are sick of getting chased out of town? Have you ever seen your grandmother chased out of town? No! People fear her, respect her. She has power and that power..." He trailed off, either realising his rage was misguided or accepting defeat.

Her mother stood and walked to behind her father, placing a hand on his shoulder, "Neborys. You have always had a good heart, too gentle for our kind. You said yourself you are sick of being chased out of towns. The path you are following is not the way to stop that. I know you think it is, but it will only lead you to more pain." She squatted down in front of Tone's father and took both his hands in hers, "It's alright Dear, we can speak to you mother. She will know how to fix this. Neborys felt the touch of The Archfiend, he knows her, he will find her again."

Tones father nodded slowly and raised his head, "You are right, as always, my Love." He looked up to Tone, "Stay with us. Wait for your grandmother, I'm sure she can help you. You are just confused, this new 'patron' has muddled your mind."
 player, 27 posts
Mon 10 May 2021
at 04:50
What was meant as reassurance scared Tone, as she privately feared it might be true. If the Archfiend found her, if her grandmother walked through those old barn doors right that instant, might they be able to 'fix' her situation and 'unmuddle' her mind. Might be able to break her freely chosen pact and brainwash her, she thought resentfully - for was there anything the Raging Fiend couldn't do if he set his mind to it? Her grandmother had always been a familiar and warm figure to her, but the young Tiefling remembered her drawing on deep wells of power when she brought down the side of the mountain - and then again, when she helped to rescue most of those buried in the blast.

No, while she wasn't afraid of her grandmother - not really - she was wary of her power; her father was right about that if nothing else. Her parents were another matter, and as they talked down to her, as they reduced her a puppet to dance to their tune, her temper kindled to life. "And because I am born of the Hells, that means I must be damned to them? Our family has been serving the Archfiend for centuries - sometimes rewarded with infernal powers, sometimes not," she half-saw her father's colour deepen and clung to the strength her anger gave her. She wasn't going to apologise, not when she hadn't meant-

"In all that time, have you heard of even one new archdevil being born and raised to sit at Asmodeus' side? That promise is a lie," she snarled, pushing herself up from the table with both hands and bringing herself to her full height. "We are being used and lied to and that is a road that goes in only one direction," she gestured downwards with her free hand, and the ground rumbled.

That seemed to take some of the fire out of her, and she shook her head again. "I'm sorry Mum, Dad. I'm not going to stay here and wait for Grandma to talk me around or 'save' me. My Patron wants me to prove I'm serious about stepping off the path laid before me, and I need to go and do that. Staying here with the people I love," she said it without flinching, "living the way I always have, isn't going to do that. And it isn't Neborys any more."

Some younger tieflings striving to find a place in the world adopted a name that signified a concept they then tried to embody. Now it was her turn to try to live up to one.

"I'm Atonement now."
Dungeon Master
 GM, 37 posts
Tue 11 May 2021
at 05:27
Tone's mother widened her eyes as the ground shook slightly and she looked to her father as Tone spoke of promises and lies and a refusal to accept what they believe was fated. She lowered her eyes and shook her head. It was difficult to determine if it was in resignation and acceptance that Tone was leaving or perhaps a shared doubt of the destiny promised by The Archfiend. She raised her head again to look at Tone when she renounced her birth name and announced her new self-chosen name, Atonement. "Oh, Neborys."

Her father, on the other hand, was inconsolable. His shoulders were slumped and his eyes downcast, even as Tone rumbled the earth he barely flinched. As Tone finished and her mother lamented her father looked up, "Go then girl. Your grandmother will not be kind to any of us when she comes to realise your folly. At least you can save yourself the wrath of her displeasure." The way Tone's father spoke was odd, there was an insinuation there about Tone's grandmother which was uncomfortable to consider.

He stood and took a step towards Tone, placing his palm against her face. "I am not angry with you Neborys... Atonement." He smiled sadly. "Our family has ever had trouble since I was unable to gain the favour of the Hells. This is not your fault, I do not blame you for your actions." Dropping his hand he sighed, "Promise me you will go far from this place. Travel until your feet cannot carry you anymore. The further away you are the safer you will be." For all his talk of destiny, of the Hells and archfiends and power Tone was still his daughter and he wanted her to be safe and, now she chose it, free.

Tone's mother stood at her other side, she had wrapped a small pile of biscuits into a cloth and held them out. "Something for the road." She smiled but it was not with sadness. "Stay safe Neborys. We will see each other again. I am sure of it."

Both of Tone's parents hugged her but there were no tears from either of them, only a resigned acceptance that their only child was leaving them.

Tone had a decision to make. It was late in the evening and she had just finished a day’s travel to arrive home. If she was determined to depart immediately then she would need to find somewhere to rest before she began her journey in earnest. To the east about two hours on foot was Arabel, the last small town her family had been chased out of. To the west the next town across was Eveningstar, a full day’s travel on foot and one Tone had only passed through this very morning. She could, of course, try to find shelter in the wilderness or on another farm in the area if she didn't want to press on tonight.
 player, 37 posts
Tue 11 May 2021
at 13:24
18:14, Today: Tone rolled 18 using 1d20+2.  Insight

For all that the conversation was going about as well as she'd expected it to, for all that she'd known they wouldn't understand, they were still her parents. And maybe somehow they did understand? They'd both surprised her, her father's sadness and immediate belief that this was all his fault. Her mother's surprising calm, as for a moment she seemed to understand on a level Neborys had never expected. Atonement had never expected. She had to remember.

Although that was a mouthful too.

She dismissed the thought; idle, weird thing, a sign of how numb and drifting her thoughts were now as she felt the threads of her former life wrenching apart. She hugged her parents tightly and if their eyes were dry hers weren't. She squeezed them close against her, looked searchingly into each of their eyes and seemed to find... something, something that released the tight knot of worry that had formed around her heart - though she kept glancing, worried, back at her father.

"I promise, Da. I will go somewhere I can learn and grow and find my own path... but you must stay safe, both of you. Promise me? I will come and find you both, and we can go somewhere no one will ever chase us away or use us or punish us for things we cannot control." And be happy. That was in her tone, but some things couldn't be spoken.

Not now.

Maybe not ever.

Sharing their farewells took time, but when at last Atonement dragged herself away from her parents she shoved the bundle of biscuits into her pack and hauled it across her shoulders.

"I love you Mum, Da. Stay safe. I will see you again soon," she insisted - to herself as much to them - and tore herself away and out the door.

It was late in the evening and she should rest; it had already been a long day's travel, but driven by bottled emotions - anger, fear, sorrow and a strange uncoiling sense of... something. Freedom? She strode on in the darkness, following the road beneath her feet and the one running through her head in equal measure. She lost herself there in the darkness and found herself too, and when she looked up at the sound of birdsong she found herself back on the ridge overlooking Eveningstar, the sun rising behind her head and she began to realise how tired she was after walking the whole night through.

Her stomach growled and her nostrils flared, turning her head as she caught wind of the scent of fresh-baked bread and she set out on the hunt.
Dungeon Master
 GM, 44 posts
Wed 12 May 2021
at 01:49
Tone's father nodded and gave her a sad smile, "Just take care of yourself."

Her mother gave her one last kiss on the cheek, "Be careful Neborys. We love you."

Then Tone was out of the door and onto adventure.

It was an uneventful night; the road was clear of any trouble and what wildlife stalked the midnight hours avoided the roads. But as the pre-dawn morning approached Tone was feeling the effects of two days travel. She was not exhausted, but the emotions of the previous night had settled, and the soreness of her legs was not very much apparent.

Dawn had come and the sun had rose slightly by the time Tone made it to the outer edge of Eveningstar, passing the temple she had considered sheltering in yesterday from the young hooligans who had been chasing her. The town was alive with farmers getting an early start and more than a few suspicious looks were cast her way as Tone walked through the town centre. There were certainly many who didn't mind the young Tiefling walking through town, too busy in their own business to be concerned about another passing traveller, but there were some who made sure to keep away.

The smell of fresh baked bread was coming from a small single floor wooden building, a sign out the front featured a painting of a loaf of bread and some sprigs of wheat. Tone entered the small shop, there were two other customers, and an elderly woman pulling loaves out of the oven. One of the customers turned and the young woman’s eyes widened, and she hurriedly excused herself, brushing past Tone on her way out the door. The other customer and the elderly lady turned and nodded in greeting. They were pleasant enough people, and after a brief conversation the sale was made. For only a copper Tone purchased a fresh half-loaf of hot bread.

With her breakfast now sorted Tone left the bakery and ran straight into three of the youths who were chasing her yesterday evening.

"So the Devil's come back!" One of the youths, a thin, sallow boy about Tone's age, taunted. He was holding a knife in his hand.

"Devil horn's 'd make good trophy." A larger youth a few years older held a smithing hammer.

A girl around was standing behind them, she grinned at Tone maliciously. "Don't let her get away this time Patrick!" She shouted to one of the boys. The larger one nodded.

Hearing the commotion outside the older lady from the bakery came to the door, "Don't you go causing any trouble around here Patrick. I don't want a part of it." She slammed the bakery door closed and Tone heard a bar locking the door shut.

The girl laughed and taunted Tone, "What you gonna do Devilgirl?"
 player, 43 posts
Wed 12 May 2021
at 03:53
Tone cudgelled her tired brain, the long day and night of travel wearing on her. She'd forgotten about these three, the core of the gang of five who'd been tailing her the previous morning. Then they'd contented themselves with cat-calling from a distance but had broken off when she'd dipped into the gatehouse of the House of the Morning at the edge of town. She hadn't even ended up needing to speak with the clergy there and she'd pressed on to see her parents.

But maybe she could use that. Keeping her calm in the face of the trio, she stowed away her half-loaf in her pack and extricated a thin stick and a book; she cracked the latter open and touched the tip of her impromptu stylus to the page as she looked up at them with a quick smile that flashed her pointed white teeth.

"Do? Why I'm just going to take your names down. Patrick, was it? And your names, gentlebeings?"

She gestured to the other two politely and arched a dark brow over her silver eye as she searched her memory for- ah, that was it.

"The High Priestess asked me to find out who's been running off the travellers and scaring half Eveningstar's rightful trade off to other more law-abiding towns." There were still people around, and no self respecting town near a trade road would ever feel they had 'enough' trade. Focusing that dissatisfaction on her hapless prey would help to turn the odds in her favour, and she relaxed and spoke more confidently as she went on in a drawl.

"She's been looking for the troublemakers for some time now, but wouldn't you know it? Every time she sent out Paladins looking for the hooligans, everyone would be on their best behaviour and there would be no sign of them. The High Priestess is a smart woman, she worked out what was happening soon enough - and decided to hire the last person the culprits would suspect to find them."

She took a step closer, not raising a weapon beyond her book as her smile turned menacing. "So. Can I have your names please? Or should I just tell her 'Patrick, a runt with a knife and a greedy girl' are the three responsible for driving trade away from Eveningstar?"

13:07, Today: Tone rolled 22 using 1d20+5.  Deception :3.
Dungeon Master
 GM, 55 posts
Thu 13 May 2021
at 00:30
Please continue in the PROLOGUE - Neria & Tone thread.