Archivus

 

It is rumored that many years ago there was a Deva merchant whose wealth was only surpassed by his thirst for adventure. Stories say that he was a collector of items precious and rare, and that his manor contained items of value incomprehensible to you or me. Villa Opes was built with stones excavated from ancient temples, and were covered in inscriptions and runes protecting his cache from thievery and siege. It was rumored that none could even see the estate without the proper incantation.

There were many that attempted to plunder the mansion of its goods, but none succeeded until Samel Roene. Samel, a profiteer and religious leader of a sect of followers of Mephistopheles, possessed a relic from a primordial alter of his god that allowed him to pass through any barrier magical or earthen – at a cost. (The whispering lord of the 8th circle of Hell offers great power for those willing to serve him in his frozen labyrinth.)  On a hot August night, Samel sacrificed all but the highest in his congregation, and resurrected his undead followers, “I Silenti.”

Once past the outer barriers the undead made it the massive noblestone golems, programmed to engage the living, and began to lay siege to Villa Opes. The manor’s traps and defenses were unable to stop the assault, as small rocks on the beach cannot halt the tide. The horde quietly moved through the manor, past the locked vaults, past the long tables where place settings had been left for the gods to dine at, and up the staircase to where the merchant slept. However, when I Silente burst into the merchant’s bed chamber, he was nowhere to be found.

Unbeknownst to Samel, the manor contained a secret within its very construction. All the floors of the estate were made from rare bloodstone from the Shadowfell. With a single drop of blood, this specific rock transforms from a porous surface to that of a smooth reddish marble. The transformation creates a living bond between the owner of the blood and the stone. By the time the first boney foot of Samel’s army crossed over the threshold of the Villa Opes, the merchant was aware and making preparations. It was just before the first artifact was removed from the manor when orange flame ripped through the halls, searing all within with the fury of gods and demons long forgotten.

It is unknown to many outside the Deva race the reincarnation of the self. The calm exterior of the Deva betrays the experiences which they suffer after death. To guarantee the passing on of their knowledge, the immortal race of Devas pays their penance threefold - the first to pay for their sins in their previous life, the second to pay the exodus toll to the Lords of the underworld, and the third to secure their soul within a new vessel. With the amount of avarice the merchant possessed, it was just shy of an eternity before his soul broke free of the bounds of hell and inhabited a new body.

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They were his first words; it was the place that haunted his dreams as a boy – Villa Opes. Archivus saw it often, a burning mansion filled with horrors, dead twice over – flames bursting out of the building past the iron gates bearing the same symbol Archivus bore on his forehead. 

He began to study the ancient tomes found in the city of Chanian, and learning the ways of the Pelor clerics, known for their potency against the undead. No matter how the skittering hordes of skeletons and daemons followed him in his dreams, he was determined they would not stand up to him in his waking life.

He was still young the day that he and his fellow missionaries were assigned to the mountains north of the Greenfields. It was rumored that the Outlanders there had suffered attacks from creatures during the night. Townsfolk had begun going missing, and temples and other places of worship had been razed to the ground. It was their job to rebuild the temple of Pelor, and assist the townsfolk in securing their city.

It was late at night their second week in town when they stumbled across a charred stone along the timberline of the mountains just outside of the city while on a walk. AsArchivus reached out and touched the rock, one of the other missionaries jumped back in shock. The marking on Archivus’s head had begun to glow blue in the night air. The rock looked familiar to him. In fact, the mountain looked familiar to him!

Archivus began to sprint up the mountain, searching for the trail that he had traveled so many times in his dreams. Centuries of neglect had given the trail over to the mountain, but Archivus was following the ghost of his memories past. He neglected the shouts from his companions trying to follow behind him. He didn’t feel the branches of the trees rip at his face and hands. The insignia on his head glowed brightly enough for him to see his next steps, and he continued at a frenzied pace. Finally he broke free near the summit into a clearing.

The clearing was massive, spanning a large portion of the ridgeline of the mountain. Bits of wrought iron were scattered around the perimeter, and in the middle of the clearing rose a pile of burnt rubble. The arm of a stone golem protruded out of another edge of the ridge. It all felt so familiar, so true to Archivus. He walked over to the base of the debris and looked for any clues as to what had happened to the manor of his dreams. He cleared a few rocks and brush away from what appeared to be a door to a cellar. The lock on the door had long ago rusted, and a single hit from a stone shattered the oxidized iron.

As he slid the bolt free and opened the door, Archivus heard his name being called from across the ridge. He turned to see his missionary party cresting over the ridge, up into the clearing. He strained his ears to hear what his colleagues were shouting in their Elven tongue. He was calling back to them, asking them to join him in his exploration of the ruins when the skeletal hand shot from the darkness, plunging a jagged katar into his heart. Archivus dropped to the ground and collapsed against the blood red stones that littered the mountain.

As he coughed up blood onto his talbard of Pelor, he was able to see three undead rush from the cellar door. His eyes closed, and he heard the screams of his fellow missionaries. When his heart stopped, he remembered everything. But it was too late - within seconds he and the other two of the unarmed clerics that had been assigned to the Greenfields were dead.

Purgatory was a waiting room for judgement, and Archivus had no desire to wait. He commanded his soul from the abyss, returning it to its mortal coil. His blood was sucked from his clothing and returned into the gash in his chest. A primal scream escaped his mouth and echoed all through the Greenfields when shattered pieces of his ribs returned to place. He called out Pelor’s name and seared the wound closed with brilliant holy fire.

The undead turned from where they were devouring Archivus’s comrades at his scream. They hastily advanced to where he stood hunched over on the stoop. Archivusreached out and grabbed an iron gatepost from the wreckage. The first ghoul pounced at him like a feral beast, but was struck down from the heavens by a cascade of light, pinning him to the ground. He was finished when the emblemed gatepost pierced its skull.

The second and third I Silente attacked in unison, the latter brandishing the arm of one of the missionaries. The horror holding the arm was stuck down with a brilliant lance of radiant light, and its body disintegrated into a pile of glowing dust. The other evaded the barrage of holy might and ripped at Archivus, severing the tendons in his left arm. With a grimace that looked more like a crazed grin, the muscle and sinew twisted back together and his hand flexed, shooting out and smashing the undead’s cranium into the ruins.

His white eyes looking up from the steps, Archivus saw the reanimated remains of his missionary party shambling toward him.