The Sundered Throne

Khain's Journal: Contemplation of humanity

Before the incident at the university, I always felt like there was a chasm in my heart, an abysmal inkiness that couldn’t be remedied no matter the cure used. Whether it was mediation, my faith, or sharing a bed with a beautiful woman… or in the case of that one night, sharing a bed with two beautiful women. The lines they left on my body, the ragged breathing they shared as they pressed themselves against me, the softness of their lips, the wild lust in their moans, all of the euphoria I had, the minutes that turned to hours as the moon crawled its way further into the sky, all the “humanity,” I had was followed with a crippling sense of emptiness. At the end of any hallway I’ve ever walked, the emptiness would be there to meet me every time. Honestly, I’m surprised I haven’t gone insane from it. That night in particular was a good night. When I was with Ixi, even though love surged through my body whenever I was with her, it was MET with emptiness. Even though I was happy, I could feel the emptiness wrap around my throat like a hangman’s noose. With a woman I was actually in love with, I couldn’t properly enjoy the time I had with her… I think part of me had come to accept it. Given the miseries I was responsible for, it only made sense that I was punished in this manner… to be able to enjoy the taste of happiness without ever realizing it in its entirety. Some days, like the time I was in the university, I would be able to indulge in my humanity for longer periods of time. But most of the time my humanity was crippled by the “inhuman,” part of me. Things are different now, however. For my entire life, I’ve been surviving off of dregs of humanity, desperately piecing together a mirror that has been shattered indefinitely. I have my humanity back… when I share a drink with friends, I feel at ease, when I lay in bed with someone, I’m not met with soul crushing emptiness.
The nightmares are still there, but that consequence is something I’ll live with for the rest of my life. I’ve accepted that. But now… I can finally feel whole again. Although with this newfound happiness, I am presented with a very concerning fear—if I were to lose this humanity, what would become of me?

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Khain's Journal: Further into madness
All the things you don't know

Many shadows dance
Ritualistically
A heart beats stronger

Let me start off by saying that the situation happened exactly how I expected it to happen: we were utterly outmatched and ill-prepared for the wrath of the apex predator of legend. The massive creature must have been at least twenty miles away from our location at the time, but one dip into the clouds, a minute of bickering with Eldaren about how we should really run away instead of trying to face something that could fly in an open field, something that is known for its cunning and ferocity, something that is part of a race that has annihilated entire species in the past, something that is widely regarded as the top of the food chain by even the most prideful of demons, something that has every advantage against us.

But no, all the points I had to offer was ignored. I decided at that point that even if I couldn’t convince Eldaren, the others would most likely agree with my reasoning, so I made my way to the jungle—and that’s when the Green Dragon dove from the stormy heavens above. It moved with blinding speed, a gaping maw opened to release an inordinate deluge of acid. It sprayed across the ground, vaporizing everything it touched. Even though we managed to avoid the brunt of the corrosion, the sheer force of the dragon flying so close to the ground sent us flying. The way it moved, the way it sounded, its like the speed barrier was being shattered into pieces. It sounded like thunder cleaving the sky. Ahead of us was the sickening cinema of the acid continually corroding the earth. Miraculously, barely any of it touched us, but even a small grain of that creature’s acid managed to melt through our armor and leave us severely burned.

We didn’t even scream. We were all so accustomed to pain…

But one more attack like that, and no amount of magical healing would bring us back.

So I did what I could. I healed the party, and Eldaren used his magic to bolster our speed. Thank fucking Erandis he got the message. Even with all his pride, he quickly assessed the situation as being far out of our abilities to deal with. We saw the dragon dip back into the clouds, and we ran.

We ran because our lives depended on it.

We sprinted for the jungle in the far distance. So afraid of the situation that our hearts wanted to burst from our chest and sprint for freedom. Every breath was labored. Every step more taxing than the last. As we sped towards the jungle, the land around us exploded. Shrapnel fell from the skies as ashen rain plummeted around us. Giant orbs of fire continued to rain down from the heavens, blasting the landscape into pieces, the tremors of the impact rattling our bones.

“It’s toying with us,” said the bardic companion that turned out to be some prince of a forgotten society. “We’re nothing but playthings to it!”

However, the horrifying aspect of our situation came from the fact that it wasn’t toying with us. Part of being an apex species meant that it knew not to underestimate anything, or anyone. Even though we were frantically running, that giant beast took into consideration the possibility of a trap or deception. And thus, it was gauging our abilities from a safe distance…

In short, the dragon was maximizing its chances of annihilating us.

Booking it to the jungle, I could see Chance bolt ahead of me a couple of meters. Soon after, magical bolts of energy slammed into his back. Chance let out a pained scream, but he kept his pace. The jungle, looked like one of those illusions were the closer you tried to get to it, the further it got from you, but we eventually reached the jungle, diving into its sanctum as roaring infernos exploded in the background.

“Damn,” the bard who was originally an enemy who stalked us that I was planning to kill but didn’t because of the request of Chance, said, “I thought we were done for. Is everyone okay?”

I looked around to survey the damage. Every seemed fine enough but, “That elven woman we saved—she’s gone.”

“She got bodied by one of the fire blast,” Chance said. “Didn’t stand a chance.”

We took a moment to grieve, then Zeddicus said, “How’re we going to get past that thing? Taking it on in a fight is out of the question. I don’t have enough magical power to keep us invisible long enough to traverse the entire area…”

“We’ll have to figure that out later,” I said. “I know that is not the answer you want to hear, but right now our focus is getting our friend back to his home. Maybe afterwards, his people can help us figure something out.”

“To be honest,” the young bard prince said, “My people have dealt with it by avoiding it… but that’s not to say there aren’t unexplored options. Let us continue toward my people. Perhaps the elders can offer some insight into your situation.”

The way dense jungle led met us with no ill passage. However, there was one interesting event worth noting. On the third day of our travels, we encounter another clan of drow: they had the same skin tone typical for their kind, the skin tone of a starless night. Drab clothes decorated their bodies, and they stood six to seven feet tall. They spoke in hushed tones, seamlessly transitioning between their native tongue and sign language. Even though Zeddicus and I were rather accomplished linguist, we couldn’t quite make out the details of what their conversation was. It didn’t seem hostile, but it wasn’t friendly, either. At the end of it all, they receded back into the jungle depths, but not before I met the stern gaze of one of them… but anyways, after that scenario we continued further into the jungle. I asked the young prince to spare me some details pertaining to those drow, and he told me that they were a culture that his was in opposition against.

In particular, it was a culture that revered necromancy.

How quaint.

02

We eventually arrived into a cavern that was concealed among a variety of local fauna, but it was mostly hidden behind a multitude of vines. The young prince led us down a walkway of carved stone that was made to replicate a spiral staircase, a strip of earth that snaked deeper and deeper. There were motes of fluorescent fungi that acted as illumination, delicately dancing in the still air. We eventually made our way to the entrance of the young prince’s home. The gateway to his people was guarded by an irritating puzzle which I do not have the patience to recall in exquisite detail but we eventually worked through the puzzle and proceeded to our destination. There was, however, a concern regarding the puzzle.
“It was not there before,” the young prince said, the implications being that something must have changed in his society to warrant the placement of a magical puzzle.
Traversing further into the depths of those yawning caverns, we soon found that gigantic spider webs punctuated the place. The young prince strummed one of the webs, and a low thrumming could be heard echoing in the distance.

“I’d prefer we not alert whatever made these,” Eldaren said.

“It’s okay,” the prince had a reassuring tone. “We people domesticated these giant spiders many ages ago. They are fierce and loyal protectors of my homeland. I was just letting it know that I was here. I’d prefer avoiding the inducement of any misunderstanding.”

Thank goodness, I said to myself. I would hate to have to fight whatever made webs of this magnitude.

“So do you have a name for these creatures,” I asked.

“Goliath spiders,” the drow said. “Terrifying as they may be on the outside, they can be quite compassionate beings.”

“I’m rather fascinated by your coexistence with giant spiders,” I continued. “If possible, I would like to one day learn more about the history regarding their domestication.”

“I’ll tell you everything and more once we get home,” he said. “It is the least I can do for all you’ve done for me, a stranger who tried to kill you a couple weeks back.”

“I’m glad we’re past that now,” Zeddicus said.

Speak for yourself, Zeddicus.

After what seemed like a mile or so of walking, we finally emerged in another section of the cavern. It was huge. Giant spiderwebs were everywhere, hanging like deadly wires. Several bridges extended to various tunnels, each tunnel looking like a gaping maw leading into the belly of a beast. Motes of those fluorescent fungi still danced around us, providing the faintest of illumination to guide our way. As we stepped further and further on an initial Bridgeway, we could hear a chittering sound right behind us. Surely enough, a gigantic spider the size of a boat loomed over us. The ichor-colored hue of its hair gave it an almost impeccable camouflage into its surrounding. Noxious liquid oozed from its sword-length fangs, several eyes pinned a predatory gaze. A smile drew itself on the drow prince’s face as he approached the giant spider, motioning with his hands and an esoteric dialect I couldn’t understand. The spider bounced and swayed as the prince communicated. The predatory glare was replaced with the gaze a house-dog would have upon seeing its owner return. It looked peaceful, friendly even. To be honest, it looked kind of cute.

But something was off… in the briefest of moments, a twinkle of animosity flared into the spider’s eyes. I drew my rod to channel a spell through it, but it attacked the prince with lightning reflexes. The prince dropped to the floor; Chance let out four arrows that pounded into its head; I unleashed a ray of aquamarine light that would trigger every pain sensor in its body hundreds of times, an evil spell that would cause the body to shut down from shock, but it kept moving. It shrugged off the spell and arrows and from thirty feet away, it attacked.

It lashed forward with massive pedipalps, threatening to cut Zeddicus in half but he narrowly avoided it by stumbling backwards. Eldaren used his magic to teleport on top the beast and tried stabbing it repeatedly.

“Chance—get up here and help me!”

“And how the hell am I supposed to get up there, Eldaren!?” He drew back two more arrows and loosed them at the spider’s eyes. They sank into a single eye, optical ooze spewing from the popped eyeball. It reeled back and sprang toward Chance. Dodging with a back-roll, he responded with another arrow in an eyeball.

“Don’t let that thing near me,” Zeddicus said as he began his arcane incantations.

In a wild frenzy, the spider threw Eldaren off of its abdomen and shot a giant web at him. It entangled him in an instant. He tried to struggle free, but in the next moment his body became limp and motionless. I heard that the webs of goliath spiders were laced with their paralytic poison. If that was the case…

“Spread out!” and I shot an apologetic glance to Zeddicus. I know he didn’t want us to abandon him but if we all in one spot and if we got hit by the web—

Chance banked to the left. I banked to the right. He laid suppressive fire, anything he could do to take its attention off Zeddicus. I ran over to check the condition of Eldaren and the prince. They were both conscious, but it paralytic poison was coursing through their veins. I whipped out some medicinal supplies and treated the prince first. I knew that Eldaren was hardy enough, but the drow looked like he was knocking on death’s door. I applied the proper treatment, combining both magic and alchemical applications for optimal results. He stabilized quickly enough. Getting up to treat Eldaren, I saw Zeddicus complete his spell. Chains of golden light erupted from nothingness, constricting the spider to the wall. At the same time this happened, another set of arrows punctured the spider’s head.

“Okay,” Zeddicus said. “We can escape now and leave that thing to its own devices. It shouldn’t have attacked, so we can assume there’s something corrupting it.”
I treated Eldaren and freed him from the web from the process.

“Nothing is wrong with it,” the prince said. “It was a wild goliath spider, but there lies the problem that there shouldn’t be any wild spiders around here. My people wouldn’t allow it.”
“Let’s get moving then,” Eldaren said. “And Zeddicus—if that thing attacks us again, we’re killing it.”

“Even if the chains give out, now that it has seen what we are capable of, it shouldn’t attack us. If we leave now, it will no longer pursue us. Eldaren, this is a beautiful creature and—”
That’s when the chains became undone, sending the spider crashing into the side of the bridge; the corpse slid off and plummeted to the caverns below.

I figured as much. Chance had dealt the critical blow just as Zeddicus’s spell finished…
Despite his protest to spare the spider, Zeddicus did not spend any time grieving its passing. We proceeded further into unknown territory, guided by the young prince. The passages were long and winding, filled with detours and diverging pathways. Had we not had him to lead the way, we would have had likely been lost in those caves…

Our destination was a curious one. We ended up on the back of some gargantuan, spider like creature. Giant legs spanned across a bottomless abyss, each leg anchoring near an entrance to some other place in the under-dark. A city was crafted on the back of this creature, a composition of web-like structures that had a fluidity and grace of design you wouldn’t see in any architecture from above. The “buildings,” flowed like water, each of them connected in a significant manner but still unique from one another. It was so unlike the rigid uniformity found back home, but what it lacked in symmetry it made up in compelling innovation. Anyways, the young prince was rather merry in his return home. Nearing the city, we could see a welcoming party forming. They began to dance in a strange and erotic fashion.

“Is that normal?” Eldaren asked.

When the prince replied, “Nothing about this is normal,” I could feel my heart sink. I knew that there were many cultures that expressed emotion through dance, so I had high hopes that their displays were in response to the return of their prince, but those hopes were thoroughly and soundly shattered when those words reached my ears. I grabbed my holy symbol. Chance drew his bow. Eldaren was ready to whip out his blade. Zeddicus held tight his arcane focus. The prince ran to someone he knew, started shaking her and asking her what was wrong. Her face was blank. He kept frantically asking her a series of questions, to which none were answered. The dancing became more erratic, and the quick motions made it seem like the dancers were blending together. Chance asked if we should attack. I belayed that notion. We didn’t want to hurt his people. If they were under some sort of possession than all we would need to do is—

“He has returned to us. We are here to bear witness,” and that was the collective voice of everyone who was dancing, all of them ceasing in one, earie conclusion. Immediately afterwards, I could feel the weight of something alien come crashing down onto my psyche. I tried to block it out, but it succeeded in raping my mind: images of bodies being thrown into a burning cauldron, tentacles erupting in a writhing mass, slithering to the sky as some horrid misshapen hand reached toward them; the screams of thousands could be heard echoing endlessly, reverberating off of each other so that each scream was exponentially more powerful than the last. It made me feel like my insides were turning into mush, so I mustered up all the willpower I had and forced it out of my mind.

I succeeded, but the strain caused my vision to go black.

03

When my vision came to, I found that we were in some ritual chamber. It was a large, cylindrical room that seemed to span infinitely into some dark sky. Towards the center, some sort of ritual was taking place. Four incredibly beautiful women, their skin deepest black, surrounded a young girl. In their native tongue, they spoke of a foul incantation, one of sacrifice and appeasement. “Don’t let them kill the princess,” the prince said. “I don’t know why they’re doing this but please stop them,” to which I wanted to know if he also didn’t us killing the women and he responded with “those are the matriarchs of my society! Please, whatever you do—DO NOT KILL THEM,” and having that cue given to us, Chance sprang into action. He whipped out a sap and clocked one in the back of the head, sending her reeling into the ground. Before the other matriarchs could even register what had happened, he winded up and slammed his sap into another matriarch. She screamed, pushing away from Chance, doing whatever she could to gain some distance. I was about to follow suit before Eldaren said, “We’ve got trouble,” in which he pointed toward the inky darkness above and surely enough there were two more of those gigantic spiders descending toward us. Eldaren drew his blade and chanted an arcane incantation which caused him to take flight, soaring into the air to grab the attention of one of the spiders. I looked at Zeddicus and said, “Both me and you should blitz the one Eldaren isn’t attacking. If we focus our spells on one, we should be able to take it out before it causes any trouble,” to which Zeddicus had no complaints. He took a step back and started his own arcane devices, so I followed suit by requesting a little support of my own. While I didn’t have augmented summoning potential like Zeddicus, my god had gifted me with my own supernatural ally: a spiritual warrior that manifest in the form of a beautiful and busty woman—remember this is my goddess’s taste who also happens to be a woman—wielding a serrated dagger. She was incorporeal, a being made out of magical energies that could only be unwoven by very specific magic, a being whose magi-molecular structure made her the perfect killing machine for situations such as these. I pointed her in the direction of the spider opposite to Eldaren, and she took off, her form uninhibited by the physics bounding mere mortals such as myself. She soared toward the giant spider like a freight train. With its uncanny reflexes, the spider lashed out at the warrior, but it simply phased through her form as she plunged the dagger into its face, ripping it downward, viciously tearing it from its frame. Something wrong happened immediately afterwards. Instead of blood pouring out, tentacled masses began spewing from the wound.

“The fuck is that,” Chance said as we began beating two of the matriarchs senseless. The other matriarchs threw up defensive barriers, but Chance managed to break through them all the same. He was doing good work. “Khain—please tell me you have a solution for that.”
My response was to continue ordering the spiritual ally to tear the spider apart. It responded appropriately, savagely biting at the incorporeal women, even spitting its paralytic web at her. It was futile. She continued to carve it to pieces. To add insult to its injury, Zeddicus finished casting another spell, which manifested as another entanglement of golden webs that sent the creature crashing into the ground. Thankfully, it didn’t crush Chance, the matriarchs, or the princess. Chance took that opportunity to spin around and stab it in the head before bashing another matriarch in the face. My spiritual ally descended from above and crashed into its abdomen, sprays of tentacles erupting from every wound. Zeddicus launched a few spells at it, Chance batted two matriarchs into the ground and spun around, stabbing the spider again. It cried under the violence that was being afflicted to it and then it crumbled and died, but then the surviving matriarchs kissed it on its head and it was revived, albeit still bound by Zeddicus’s magic. I couldn’t have those matriarchs reviving it again, so I did what I had to—I channeled negative. They screamed, blood dripping from their eyes. They collapsed to their knees and Chance knocked them out. I took no pleasure in doing that to them, but on the bright side the negative channeling managed to kill the spider again.

That’s when “it,” exploded from its body. In its wake, the chains of light evaporated into nothingness. It was some sort of congealing mass of writhing tentacles and organ matter. Its very presence made it feel like my flesh was melting off my bones. My symbol burned hot in my hands. Whatever this thing was, if it formed, we would be done for.

“KILL IT NOW!” and I blasted the aberration with a searing bolt of necrotic energy, an undulating ray of blue-green antilife that drove into its body like a flaming sword through the carcass of a rotting animal. The form quivered for but a moment before it continued to form. My spiritual warrior danced around its body, trails of blood forming morbid artistic patterns on the floor. Chance dropped his rapier and loosed four arrows into the squealing mass followed by another two and another two and over and over. Zeddicus screamed as he unleashed a powerful blast of energy that took the form of a roaring blizzard, countless shards of ice impaled the gelatinous creature and—it exploded. We managed to kill the creature before it could bring any harm to us.

And it was at this point that Eldaren came crashing into the floor. He fell victim to a paralytic web, and then so did I. Thankfully, I was fast enough to request to my god that I didn’t get paralyzed by the web; at that point in time, it was too late to throw up a magical barrier or even repel the attack because the web was already contacting me, and I could feel the poison rushing through my veins. My request was acknowledged, and I could feel my immune system rebuking the poison. Still, I had a web to break free from. It felt like steel bars were on top of me, it was a harsh endeavor just to move. Knowing that it would take some time to free myself, I ordered my spiritual ally to assist in attacking the spider that had now jumped down and made its move to the rest of the party. Chance didn’t wait. He unloaded arrow after arrow into its body, until his quiver ran dry. He then dropped his bow, kicked up his rapier from the ground and proceeded to a full-frontal assault. My spiritual ally charged in front of him. The spider lashed out, incapable of hurting the incorporeal femme-fatale. She rammed her dagger into its head, and wrenched it upwards. More tendrils erupted from its frame. At this point, its body was already riddled with tendrils. At the very least, Eldaren had done significant damage to it. The spider, finally able to grasp the concept that its attacks were not going through, lashed out to Chance. Chance came to a fierce halt, weaved under its pedipalps, and drove his rapier through its head. When the Spider reeled back, my spiritual warrior was waiting; she plunged her weapon into its abdomen, using the momentum from its retreat to tear a gruesome gash into its body. Tentacles exploded everywhere, whipping out viciously. In one last desperate attempt, the spider shot a web at Chance. He dodged it and the web ended up hitting the prince who was trying to free Eldaren.

That’s when the spider exploded. This time, the creature possessing the spider came out fully formed. The shockwave slammed Chance into the ground. Its alien presence made me feel like someone was stirring up my insides with a hot, serrated knife. Chance rose to his feet but fell to the ground, paralyzed, immediately after witnessing the form of this heinous creature: a writhing mass of tentacles with the mouth of a great white shark for its stomach, a giant hideous eye attached where a head would normally be—I’ve only heard about these things in legend. Their very presence is a pathogen that puts the body into shock, effectively paralyzing its victims.

“This is BAD—Zeddicus, you need to summon creatures to overwhelm this thing!”

He was already way ahead of me. He summoned a massive rhinoceros which slammed into the creature’s side, it left a large, gaping hole in its wake. But even that celestial creature wasn’t immune to the monster’s pathogenic presence. Immediately after the rhino attacked, it fell to its side, paralyzed. The monstrous qlippoth lashed its multiple tentacles at the poor creature, tearing it into pieces within seconds. The creature cried out as its body dissolved into nothingness. It turned its attention to Zeddicus but it didn’t paralyze him, indicating that there was a range to its paralytic effect. It looked like it was about to charge but it instead turned to my spiritual ally who hadn’t relented from cutting it into pieces. Though it didn’t seem like it was as effective, she was still doing work. The qlippoth lashed its tentacles but it had no effect, indicating that although this creature was a terrifying alien species, it didn’t possess the utilitarian magic required to undue my spell. Zeddicus summoned another creature which manifested as a fallen angel, a beautiful woman with raven colored hair that swept into the battle: she unleashed several arrows into the creature, fiery spears punctured the creature to the wall, the sickening sound of boiling blood could be heard as this thing began prying the spears from its body. Zeddicus gave an order to save Chance, which the fallen angel was reluctant to do but ended up following his commands nonetheless. Unfortunately, she collapsed as soon as she was within breathing distance of Chance. The creature broke free and was about to attack but my spiritual warrior stopped it, dismembering the tentacles from its body. The creature reeled back as Zeddicus summoned two more rhinos, each of them charging from a pincer position. At this point, Eldaren and I broke free. I shot a debilitating ray of life ravaging energy at the creature. Its gaping maw tried to consume the energy, and more a mere second it seemed like it managed to dissolve the spell.

But then its back began to bubble.

And then two rhinos slammed into both of its side. My spiritual warrior eviscerating its eye. Eldaren leaped into the fray, ignoring the pathogenic presence by sheer will alone. The creature whipped its tentacles to the right, instantly cutting the rhino in half, pressurized blood exploding everywhere. Then, every single tentacle charged at Eldaren. Eldarens blade lit up, a fusion of electricity and fire, and he began dancing in the air, maiming any tentacle that came into reach, rivers of vaporizing blood whipping off of his blade. Not losing any momentum thanks to the influence of magic, Eldaren came crashing into its eyeball, destroying what was left, a geyser of electrolyzed blood evaporating into a scarlet mist surrounding his body.

That’s when the paralytic effect finally got to his body. Eldaren raised his blade for another attack only to fall flat onto the ground. Thankfully, my spell finally broke through its spell resistance. The bubbling mass on its back exploded, a waterfall of blackish blood erupted from the wound. With the necrotic energies eating away at its body, it also began to lose muscle mass. It began to grow limp as my spiritual ally kept slamming her dagger into its body, it began to learn what fear was in anticipation of Zeddicus breaking through with one of his spells or summoning another creature.

That’s when it looked at me. Its eye was gone, but I could feel its presence bore into me all the same. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything. My spiritual ally kept attacking. I could spells hurled by Zeddicus in my peripheral, each of them failing to penetrate its magical resistances. I could feel its hate drill into my skull. But more than that, I could feel its desperation.

It turned to its left and picked up the rhino that had been paralyzed by its presence. Something cracking could be heard, and then space and time began to dissolve behind this creature’s body.

It was getting away. I couldn’t move.

It wouldn’t have mattered. The moment the spell was cast, it was already too late. It happened too fast for anyone to react, even the spiritual ally who wasn’t bound by the normal laws of physics.

It got away…

I considered following it… but I didn’t want to take any chances. I ran over to Chance to heal his wounds, channeling resplendent vigor into his veins. He gasped for breath as his movements were restored. “Thank you,” he said but I didn’t have time to exchange any pleasantries. I had to make sure the prince was stable, as well as checking the condition of the matriarchs. Eldaren had cut the prince free, so all I had to do was purge his body of the toxins. When I did, he mumbled something that I couldn’t hear properly but his vitals were stable, so I proceeded to the matriarchs. Checking the pulse of the nearest queen, I could hear Chance conversating with the princess. There was no need for cardiopulmonary resuscitation or any critical care. Even though she was hit with a wave of negative energy, she was going to make it.

“Guys,” Zeddicus had a grim voice. “Something, um…”

I looked up to see what Zeddicus was talking about: the walls had become inky black and were closing in fast. “God damn it,” I complained. “What is it now?”

“It’s okay,” Chance never sounded so reassuring. “I don’t really trust him, but I have a feeling we’ll get through this just fine.”

The fact that I’m writing this journal entry means that we did in fact survive, but at the time I wasn’t so certain. Nevertheless, I put my faith into Chance’s faith in who I assumed to be the demon that came back to haunt him. I admittedly took the time to check out this insanely gorgeous elven woman in all her uncensored beauty as the darkness consumed all of us.
We were out for two days. That’s how long it was before we woke up again. We were in fine silk clothing and our belongings were placed neatly in caskets underneath our beds. As I began gathering my things, Eldaren started freaking out. “My sword isn’t here,” he said to which I told him that if they took it for whatever reason, we would get it back. “You’re right, Khain. As powerful as this society is, if they try anything antagonistic against us, it’ll be the last mistake they’ll ever make.”

A strong comment. He was right though.

That’s when the prince came in. He was looking sharp and regal, replacing his travelers gear with the ornate clothing appropriate for someone of his position. “I’m glad you’re all doing well,” he fixed his attention on me and said, “And Khain, I talked it out with the leaders of our
society and I managed to convince them not to kill you.”

I shot him my friendliest smile when I said, “Cute, but if they tried I would murder every single one of them,” and I laughed, he laughed, everyone else nervously laughed.

“In any case,” the prince continued. “They are coming to reward you for your endeavors and thank you for your assistance in restoring the balance of my people. Furthermore, you’re free to do everything in reason without having to worry about local interference. Feel free to embrace our culture to the best of your abilities, feel free to peruse the streets, socialize, drink and feast. You’ve got the next twenty four hours to do so—after that you’re never allowed to come back here,” and he looked rather mournful in saying so. “I’m sorry. You know I’m eternally grateful to you but… it is the will of the matriarchs.”

“Don’t apologize,” I said. “We’re not about to trample on your customs. Let’s make the best of the time we have left together.”

The matriarchs walked in. The prince introduced us again. I decided to attempt to make peace with them, personally, so I bowed politely and said, “I know my actions are condemnable by death, but everything I did was for the greater good of your society. I did what I thought was best for preserving your best interest, and the interest of your people. Had there been another way to do it, I would have. I expect no forgiveness from you, all I seek is that you understand.”

The matriarchs smiled. They gave no words in response to what I had to say, but they acknowledged what I had to say, nodding ever so slightly. Afterwards, another matriarch dropped a large chest onto the floor and slid it towards us. Chance wasted no time opening it. There was something resembling a chest set; a necklace of diamonds; a dagger made from some sort of crystal; a crossbow of some wood I’ve never seen before, beautifully browned like the smoothest of caramel; a bunch of large, golden coins wrapped in smooth silk-like fabric, and a few other miscellaneous items. The miscellaneous items and diamond necklace was a decent sum of money, and the crossbow ended up being magical, capable of conjuring ammunition out of ethereal energies, effectively rendering it with an infinite amount of ammunition. Furthermore, it had the ability to shoot invisible bolts that functioned akin to an alarm system. We would have to test it out later to determine the full extent of its abilities. The dagger was made of blood crystal, a special mineral known for sucking out the blood from those it struck. Chance in particular had hit the jackpot with this reward. Furthermore, the princess came back to grant him a silken scarf that was laced with magical energies purposed to fortify the bodies immune system and physical performance. These rewards were ideal for Chance’s loadout.

Zeddicus jumped on the opportunity to learn the drow version of chess, and I spent my time crafting scrolls, asking about the prince’s culture, enjoying the sights and tastes of his people. Chance disappeared to get some special training with the matriarchs. When we came back sometime later, he told me that they taught him the lost art of shadow-weaving. He explained that his bond with the shadow demon allowed him to manipulate light waves to effectively turn him and other people invisible, as per the invisibility spell but without a time limit.

That was some powerful magic.

In any case, our vacation was over before we knew it. Our lives flowed to the next day, where we left the civilization forever, where the young prince escorted us back the edge of the jungle, gave us his farewell, and departed from our lives.

Chance manipulated the light around him, around us, so that we were not perceivable to the optic nerves. The blasted landscape was stretched before us. The clouds were heavy and dark. A celestial teardrop fell upon the earth, then an incredible downpour followed. Our movement was drowned out by the rain, and we continued into that damnable place.

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Khain's journal: Uncharted territory
Continuing a father's journey

Black flames reaching for
Eternities none can see
Indefinitely

If our sense of distance could be equated to sound, it was a cacophony of uncertainty. In addition to a curse that skewers your sense of time and space, a blackish miasma obscured most of what we could see. Although, one didn’t have to make any astute observation to see that landscape was charred and twisted, reeking of sulfur, and burning meat. In the far distance, we could see a jagged rock formation that had an eerie resemblance to the corpse of some gargantuan beast. Having no other method of ascertaining a more advantageous perception of the land, we decided that the best course of action would be to ascend to one of the jagged, rib like structures in the distance.
If only our trek through an already miasmatic environment could have been so simple. As usual, danger loved company, and it loved our company in particular. Not even three minutes in, we were assaulted by a pack of…
They looked like wolves, but their features were deranged, a mockery of nature. They had rocky protrusions jutting from their bodies, festering pustules spewing orange liquid. One of them tried to sink its fangs into my neck, but I managed to bat it away with my shield. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by a pack of them. They leapt at me at once, caustic drool slithering from their maws. I clung tight to the symbol in my right hand, whispered a prayer to my god, took a deep breath
And exhaled. The pulse of negative energy acted like a wall that collapsed onto each wolf-abomination. Their bodies spasmed as the invisible weight crushed their bodies. I turned to my left to see Eldaren already slaughtering his fair share; Chance riddled some of them with arrows, each individual slamming into the ground from the force of each consecutive shot; Zeddicus had one rip out a chunk of his hamstring, but he managed to keep his calm, firing bolts of ice into their unearthly hide. I ran over as he fell to a knee; I beckoned to my god to reject his wounds, and so she did. A sickly green light lurched over his hamstring. Taking the form of surgical sutures and needles, the green light repaired the damaged sinew, knitting together the wound until it looked as if no damage had ever happened.
“Thank you,”
“Don’t mention it,”
I took a closer look at one the wolf-abominations… their teeth belonged on a shark, rows and rows of daggers. I didn’t like what I was looking at. As usual, I had a bad feeling about what we were doing. But we had no choice but to continue. So that’s what we did. We ended up finding apparitions… memory’s left behind by Zeddicus’s father. We ended up finding one of his friends. Not a memory, but a spirit unable to pass on.
We were on the top of what looked like the rib-cage of something long since dead. We could see the jungle expanse beyond the mountains; we could see a tower that had a floating orb orbiting its entirety; we could see ruins of a kingdom in the blasted landscape; we could see some alien architecture that floated in the distance. That warped castle in the sky had something horribly wrong with it. While I was unaffected, my friends fell to the ground as if tackled by a large animal. It was for a fleeting moment, but they couldn’t bring themselves to look at the structure again…
I wanted to discuss the building but… we ended up running into the spirit that couldn’t pass. I knew from looking at him that the magic bounding him would be difficult to undo, but such an endeavor was child’s play with my god at my side. I undid the bondage that held him to this realm… though I felt regretful. Surely, he was suffering here, but I knew that the place I was sending him too wasn’t much better…
As his soul ascended to another plain… something had gone awry. He screamed. He shouldn’t have been in any pain… but something was waiting for him to be unbound. Something from beyond the stars tore open a gateway to our planet, spewing its body from an abyss unknown to man. The creature consumed the spirit and floated down to our party. Its body resembled that if peak human performance, sculpted in every ornate detail; it towered over us by several feet; its head was a writhing, tentacled mass. It spoke no sound, but we could hear its mangled language rape our minds all the same.
And it moved faster than anything of that size should be able to move. Before Chance could even draw his blade, it snatched him up; tentacles lashed like barbed whips at his body. Before Zeddicus could cast any magic, the eldritch being dominated Eldaren’s mind; it forced Eldaren to cut Zeddicus apart. Our wizard could barely defend himself as blow after blow tore through his body, electricity hissing in the background. After all that had transpired, I was finally able to contact my patron. At the end of those six, frantic seconds, I channeled the evils of the world into a debilitating force. Taking the form of a bloodied javelin, the magic penetrated its body. The effect was immediate: the creatures muscle mass spasmed and exploded in several areas. It hunched over for but a moment, and was subsequently eviscerated by Chance. He sliced off several tentacles and plunged his blade repeatedly into its face; ribbons of blood danced from each wound. Chance then freed himself from the plummeting body as it disintegrated into nothing.
It all happened so fast…
I ran to Zeddicus to heal him. He was inches from death but… it would seem the young lad had gotten accustomed to the craziness attached with being a hero. I turned around to heal Chance, and that’s when we all saw the spirit ascending.
“At least something good came from this,”
I wish I had the same optimism Chance did…
A few more incidents happened to us that day. More secrets uncovered, more enemies defeated, more rocky alliances made, all that jazz…
But today… a new storm brews over the horizon. For the years that I’ve known Eldaren, he has always expressed the desire to become so heroic in constitution, so refined in skill that he would be able to take on a dragon.
I’ve never been as thrilled as he was…
I guess we’re about to have another test of his mettle, and our enduring patience…

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Khain's journal: Visitor of an imperishable night

Saving the world with a ragtag team of outcasts should be an impossible task. An exiled noble, a heretical priest, a man who betrayed his country, and a pirate whose soul doesn’t even belong to him. I imagined such a collection would fall into despair, but you rose to notoriety and fame through your countless endeavors and unshakable faith. The bonds you have with the ones you love… I would like to experience that too… so that one day I can savor the orgasm that can only come from seeing you betrayed by someone you love.

Or maybe not. Maybe you will be different from every fool that came before you. Perhaps we can indulge each other.

Don’t disappoint me.

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Khain's Journal: Rakshasa

When they stormed the castle, the men where slaughtered in droves. Eldaren had told me about their fiendish animosity, the way they sliced through armor like butter, the way their magic shattered men. I had the pleasantry of experiencing it first hand. When Kelras tried to take us out, he sent twenty of them. I’ve stared death in the face, faced an eldritch monstrosity that threatened to annihilate everything in existence, but I have never faced such fearsome adversity. They tore my armor to shreds, bombarded me with their sickening evocations. I saw the shadows blotch my vision, felt my life slip away. We ended that fight showered in blood, glucocorticoids surging throughout our bodies. We had lost many, and we had barely made it out of the fight alive…

They’re… so unlike anything I’ve fought before. Their skin is more durable than steel, and they have the same resilience against magic. Speaking of such, their arcane prowess put most mages in Aundair to shame. I understand some of their kind are native to Eberron, but Kelras brought another breed entirely. Still, despite being different from the legends my father would tell me, the information about them holds, roughly, the same:

They have a high resilience towards magic, but holy aligned weapons are known to be able to bypass their defenses.

Their spell load outs are equivalent to veterans from the war, but rather than choosing spells such as fireball, they prefer lightning bolt. I wonder if this is because they like to toy with their prey?

I don’t believe them to be incredibly intelligent, but they do have an innate ability to read minds, which is never conducive towards an easy fight.

They have the ability to shape-shift, making them incredibly adaptive in nature.

Finally, somewhere upon another plane, there is an entire society of these fiends… I can’t imagine any off them are too happy with us.

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Khain's Journal: Entry 5

With every passing day, I feel as if a small part of my soul is being hallowed out. On more than one occasion, I hallucinated that there was no reflection of mine in any given reflective source. The heavy relief I found so calming after seeing my reflection would be cut short by her whispering my deepest fears, my greatest failures. After not even a day in that humble town, the heavens cried crimson, a rain of blood that seemed to pour endlessly began to stir havoc and unrest among the people. I managed to calm them, but their souls couldn’t have truly been at peace lest the ordeal was put to rest. And so, we had journeyed forward to put an end to the perpetrators. Though the blood rain was unnerving, we managed to steal ourselves as our entire beings became clad in red viscous. The hunter had not known where to look, as the blood had inhibited her enhanced senses to the point where they were worse than a child’s. But Chance… Chance knew. Through the cloak of blood, he saw shadows unlike any creature we had seen before. It was immensely impressive that he had managed to discern their location in spite of the circumstance; it was as if he had known where they would be before any of it happened in the first place. Since Chance knew where to go, he was the one to take the lead. He fearlessly led the charge into the forest… we were confident that, with Chance’s initiative, we would get the upper hand in the fight.
It almost never seems to work out that way for us…

I wonder if anything we did during that period of time mattered. I wonder of the people we saved. Since we unraveled the strings of time, are those individuals now damned? All the faces we met, the stories we shared, the adventures we had. Did the children of Winter sink their fangs into the innocent? Did the aberrations pour through the depths, overruning the Eldean Reaches? The horrors that we faced, the evil that we defeated, we were no longer part of that faucet of reality. While we were able to return to defeat even greater adversity, I can’t help but cringe at what we could no longer prevent. We had faced giant spiders, four armed aberrations with gaping holes for faces, a grotesque amalgamation of a dragon and a basilisk, a mindflayer, a spell-stiched monstrosity, and even an avatar of the embodiment of death… and at the same time, none of that happened. My friends grow weary of even recalling what happens to us, and my mental state isn’t always in the right place to write reports as comprehensively as Eldaren, but I feel that… should something happen, then perhaps this can still reach somebody, so that maybe our memories can live on in some way. Writing, after all, is one o the most magical things anyone can do. The words we scribe can connect generations scattered by the sands of time…
That’ll be enough writing for now. It’s time to go revive my friends…

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Khain's Journal: Entry 4

We found ourselves trapped in a gray, melancholy world. All around us, blasted black sand and opaquely colored skies stretched on for as far as our eyes could see. There was no wind, and yet it felt as if we stood amidst a snowstorm. Resting upon a raised, obsidian platform was the man who we had been searching for. There was a critical glitch in his figure, as if the tangibility of his form was to be put into question. His eyes opened and said, “I’ve done it. I’ve found the one true king,” before his figure blurred, cracked, and reconfigured into an almost tangible presence before repeating the process over and over again. It was some sort of illusory magic, something akin to a recording. This man, the one who had been missing for so long, has the answer that could possibly save the entire world.
And yet.
And yet, we have no idea where he is.
“How are we alive?” Eldaren asked.
“It’s nothing short of a miracle,” Chance said. “We’re in the realm of the dead. The heavy concentration of negative energy should have devoured us alive…”
“Something happened,” I said. “It probably has something to do with the ritual.”
“We’ve got to get moving,” Chance said. “Regardless of the reason, I’d rather we leave as soon as possible.”
“But where do we go?” Eldaren asked.
Chance pointed to a large, obsidian tower that soared into the blackened heavens of that forsaken plane. It was at least five kilometers from our current position, rising ominously above the sand dunes. We cut the small talk, knowing all too well that the longer we spent in the land of the dead, the more our humanity would slip away. As we began traversing the unhallowed desert, I realized that the sound of our own movements, the pattering of our feet, our slow, rhythmic breathing, and even our occasional commentaries sounded as if they were muffled. It was like the sound diffused in the air, its force of life chocked away by the ethereal damnation that threatened to swallow us with every passing moment. I also noticed that the gravity had a significant increase in its intensity. Every step felt like a strenuous labor, and our sense of time was distorted by the unorthodox nature of that plane. Soon enough, even breathing became a difficult task.
“Damn,” I said. “It doesn’t seem like we’re getting any closer.”
“Don’t look now,” Chance said, “But there’s a giant, black cloud heading right towards us.”
I looked around to see what appeared to be a dense miasma descending toward our location. It felt as if an ocean were hanging above us, a drowning aura of hopelessness. The miasma exploded into a giant, bat like creature whose wings emanated wispy black smoke. Sharp fangs protruded from the utter darkness; it’s eyes tiny red stars in the blackest night.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” I said.
I felt a weight push me down into the sand. Eldaren had hastily thrown his body weight onto us in hopes that the nightshade wouldn’t see us. There was no way, I thought to myself. There was no way it didn’t see us. But it didn’t…
It passed us.
“Strange,” I said. “There’s no way that it didn’t perceive us. Those foul beast love to snuff out anything that’s alive, so our very being here should be like beacons in the night…”
“It was probably your ritual, brother.”
“Maybe,” I said. “Anyways, thanks for the assist, Eldaren. What you did was better than us standing like fools.”
Chance got up, started walking and said, “Let’s not test our luck, though.”
Trekking behind Chance, we made our way over dunes of sand that seemed to have no invariable shape, as if they were constantly rising and falling in fluid motions, and though there was no change in the blandness of weather, it felt as if I were walking through a deluge of eviscerating hail. The inches stretched into meters, and the meters stretched to miles. Before we knew it, it felt like several days had past. I felt like I would lose my mind. I felt sanity unwind and stitch itself together over and over… I thought we would be trapped in that god forsaken land forever.
But then we were there. After our perilously long trek through uncharted territory, we had arrived at the obsidian tower. There was just one problem. There was no discernable entrance, and the spire was surrounded by an obsidian opaqueness, a malefic body of water.
“Wow,” Chance said. “That is literally the most ominous ‘fuck that shit,’ lake I’ll ever see.”
“Do we have to cross that?” Eldaren asked.
“Yeah,” I sighed. “I don’t see any way around it. Maybe if we can reach the spire, I can manipulate the stone so it opens up for us.”
“How’re you thinking of crossing that there lake, Khain?”
“Well, brother Chance,” I reached in my bag and pulled out a coin that Nagaru had given us. “We’ve got this ship in a coin. I reckon we can use it to cross the lake.”
I passed the coin to Chance. He threw the coin into the lake and it sank into the brackish water before erupting into a graceful, narrow boat with a streamlined design and understated elegance.
“Ready to man the ship, captain?”
“Aye. Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
So we boarded the Viking-esque longboat and headed toward the spire. The water, in spite of being “fuck that shit,” was surprisingly peaceful in nature. Too bad for us that this only lasted for about five minutes before we saw an unholy mass the size of a small island rise and sink back into the water. Immediately after, the water became a galaxy of blazing, red eyes.
Chance looked at me and said, “Are we fucked?”
“Not necessarily,” I said. “I mean, the other nightshade didn’t attack us so maybe—”
An immensely devastating jaw snapped up from the abyss, chopping our boat in half. We were unscathed, but our boat began to sink into the water.
“I was wrong,” I said. “We’re pretty fucked.”
Several masses of darkness began rising and sinking back into the water. A swirling vortex of red stars surrounded us from just beneath the surface.
“Yeah… we’re definitely fucked.”
“What do we do?”
“Fuck if I know, Eldaren.” I wasn’t in the mood for anyone’s shit, even my own. However, in a moment of clarity, I realized that they weren’t aiming for us. They were aiming for the boat. Since we were going to sink anyway, I decided to dive into the water…
Needless to say, I sunk like a rock. On the bright side, in spite of how fucking cold that water was, my hypothesis turned out to be correct. None of the horrors attacked me. They went after the boat instead…
Till this day I don’t know why were so fortunate. Funny, the three of us tried to hold our breath as we sank deeper and deeper. We thought we would die there, but when we couldn’t hold our breath any longer, when we opened our mouths and let the hellish water into our bodies, we found that we didn’t have to breathe at all.
It was as if we were already dead.
Chance and Eldaren were flailing like fish out of water. I couldn’t blame them. They couldn’t see anything, but I did. What I saw was our ticket to escape, a small pathway in the darkness leading to what appeared to be an opening in the spire. I grabbed onto Chance and Eldaren and swam to the path. Eldaren swung his sword at me like a fucking… never mind. I can’t blame him given the circumstance. Thankfully he calmed down, becoming docile enough for me to swim us to safety. When we landed on the path, I held their hands and guided them toward the shimmering gate. Upon the portal were runes inscribed in Mabarian…
Basically, it was a portal back to the world of the living.
It didn’t specify where. For all we knew, it could have transported us into a pit of magma, or the demon waste or in the middle of the sky or…
I didn’t want to ponder it too much. Holding onto Chance and Eldaren, I threw us through the portal…

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Khain's Journal: Entry 3

I’ve recently found another use for potions. In concerns to my practice in necromancy, I’ve discovered that I can taint a potion with necrotic energy to further boost my own necrotic potential. In this sense, my ability to cast a spell would be proportionally increased by the quality of the potion I consume. In this manner, I’ll have another edge on necromancy. Since we just got back from the land of the dead, I haven’t been able to restock. Soon enough though…

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Khain's Journal: Entry 2

When my father first showed me how to do it, he explained that negative energy is akin to a hemotoxin. Having said so, the introduction of negative energy to living organisms destroys blood cells, disrupts the clotting process, and causes tissue and organ degeneration. This is why victims often bleed from their gums, nose, or other orifices, as the negative energy causes massive hemorrhaging.
But, if that were the case, then why don’t undead who still have tissue or blood remain unaffected? It’s simple. In spite of their anatomy, the undead thrive off of negative energy. It is the very source of “life,” that allows them to continue existing in the first place.
My father’s channeling thesis would also explain why elementals are unaffected by negative channeling, as hemotoxin would have no effect on sentient firestorms or tidal waves.
As another note, even though he compared it to hemotoxin, negative channeling is significantly more dangerous. There is no antitoxin for direct death inflicted on the body. One may be able to endure it better than the next, but there is no defense for negative channeling.
It’s funny, really. You’d think, after all this time, people would figure out how to counter negative channeling, or at least defend against it.
…With that in mind, why are defensive spells so weak? In comparison to how strong offensive spells are, defensive spells don’t have a lot going for them. This is only my opinion, however, but I remain firm in my stance. Maybe I should start developing some defensive spells of my own…

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Khain's Journal: Entry 1

She was at first, an enigmatic woman as beautiful as she is mysterious. Her body reflected the cold shores of some dreamlike ocean, where the crystal clear water reflects the blue sheerness of the open, untamed sky. I suppose she was the token sexy character, someone so close but so far out of reach. Nevertheless, I was able to coax my way through her barriers. Ixi had a tragic story, something so debilitating in origin that it drove me to tears as her memories rolled off of her tongue. Her lithe body would quiver at the very thoughts associated with the past, so the telling was obviously difficult, but I made no efforts to coerce a conclusion. Rather, my patience and empathy secured a particular bond that paved the way to something we could both agree as endearing.
Anyhow, continuing on, her story began with a deal that involved accursed individuals that our commonly classified as hags. These sea witches promised Ixi’s people the power to ward off the malevolence of human expansionism. However, they would, one day, ask for something in return. Left with no other option, left with no means of fending off the ambitions of man, Ixi’s people had no choice but to accept the deal, or, rather, a cruel ultimatum. While the wretched blessing of said hags proved to be efficacious in their efforts to fend the humans, the results were far from optimal. Tragically enough, Ixi’s precious kin, her dearest brother was taken from her…
I know how that pain is…
To make matters worse, the payment was Ixi. They wanted to own her like a dog. But Ixi wouldn’t have any of that…So she ran.
She fled from the hags, from her home, all in desperate hope that she would find sanctuary. Unfortunately for the sweet princess, her strange, otherworldly beauty earned her the condemnation of the silver flame. Ixi was able to evade the church, but, eventually, found herself victim to Hurask, a terrible abomination of a man. He and his Sandsharks were thirsty for the bounty that hung over her head, and they’d stop at nothing to get what they wanted…
Thankfully, Ixi was rescued by Ravina, the self-proclaimed, Lhazaar pirate queen. Ever since then, Ixi has been a proud member, and adopted sister, of the Wind Drakes.
She’s been through a lot, and, because of that, it can be hard for her to show her true self at times. I’m just glad that she’s doing well. Even in this fucked up world, she still manages a smile :)

PS:
Hurask spoke of The Devourer. Though there’s no explicit validation of the gods, that’s not to say they aren’t out there. In addition, Ixi mentioned that her destiny involves saving the world from some unfathomable creature, an unprecedented force of nature… According to contextual information, the Devourer represents the raw, destructive force of nature…
I wonder…

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