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The Journal of the Condemned Man

Page history last edited by Shieldhaven 7 years ago

Razaela has given me these few pages and commands me to fill them. Obedience cannot absolve me of my crime, but disobedience would only make my sentence more severe; the mind quails at such a notion.

 

My name has been scoured away; now I have only my title, the Condemned Man.

 

In the footsteps of my grandfather before me, I took up the rod of the warlock and swore to serve the Iron Law of Hell, on the day of my majority. To seal my bargain, I put to the knife a woman who had committed treason for the sake of love, and I scoured away her name, for treacherous love has ever been the favorite of singers. I put her beloved to the knife also, for those who suborn are no less vile than those who give themselves over. I entered into teaching at the foot of a mortal master, and in three years I was deemed fit to pledge my fealty to my teacher's lord.

 

I first entered the service of Khirix Drael, the Tyrant of the Gallows, who prosecutes those who show mercy against the commands of their superiors. The Tyrant noted my diligence and perceptiveness; through my efforts many died in accordance with the law, when they might have been spared by the frailty of the spirit. I protected many sons and daughters from witnessing the humiliation that comes from undeserved mercy. They learned instead that their fathers and mothers had died in accordance with the designs of the mighty. How well they took that lesson! Never after did they show frailty of spirit in the face of the enemy who had taken father and mother from them. In this was Khirix Drael well pleased, and he granted me two acolytes to teach.

 

The first of my acolytes, Auleus of the Grand Terrace, received two years of teaching on the Iron Law, but he placed greater faith in the law of kings and princes of Aurikesh. He lacked the strength to purge the world of its evil nature, and sought the service of Hell believing that it would grant him power over his enemies. He lacked the patience and discernment to seek out his enemies' sins and bring them to justice. Callow abuse of power is intolerable to the true servant, and so I condemned him to death. To my shame he escaped my grasp. The Tyrant of the Gallows deemed that other duties took precedence over pursuing my former student, and forbade me to seek him. By the time my duties were complete, his trail had long gone cold. To my knowledge he still roams Balioth, committing the very crimes we are meant to prosecute.

 

The second of my acolytes was Ekeine Saltwind. She came to me to escape the vengeance of the High Lords of the Fey, who she had long served. She had bargained with one named Verenestra; after many years she finally learned the truth of the Fey, that they are thieves and usurpers, ever taking more than they give. As a breaker of oaths her life was forfeit, but the Tyrant of the Gallows believed that she would be better used against her former masters. She needed far less teaching than the other acolyte had, and quickly took to the Law. The first three Laws are, of course, well-known to any servant of the Hidden World.

 

Ekeine soon drew the attention of the Tyrant for her courage and dedication in battle against his enemies. She supplanted my place in the Tyrant's favor, and he no longer required my service. Thus I entered the service of Gondrum Vos, Potentate of the Maze, who prosecutes those who bring shame to their ancestors. I did not know, at the time that I entered his service, that I was approaching my own condemnation and eventual destruction. Razaela and Trahir took oaths of loyalty to me, and we made the desecrated Monastery our home. Our work often took us far away from the Monastery, but we carried out all trials and sentences in the Cloister of the Sword. Rites of lesser importance we performed in the ruined chapel. After five years, we had sacrificed enough of our enemies to bring a powerful avatar of Gondrum Vos to Balioth, along with a cadre of his diabolic servants.

 

Service to the Potentate was far less demanding of my talents than service to the Tyrant. It is plain enough to see that all and sundry have shamed the names of their ancestors, while many have learned not to show weakness when their superiors order a slaughter. It appealed to me as a historian, however; proving to my own satisfaction that the ancestors (within the past seven generations) have been shamed presents a challenge of its own sort. I gathered and studied the writings of each target's ancestors. This is how I came to learn that I must be condemned: my target was a distant relative of mine, according to the genealogies I found in Eldion. Our shared ancestor was my twice-great grandfather, who was a high priest; from that moment I under a threat of death if these things came to light. I completed the torment of my relative, ending in his death by his own hand; he had uttered blasphemies against the gods.

 

For nearly a year I kept secret what I had learned of my ancestor. Razaela had caught me in the midst of burning my notes, however, and she began to investigate me in secret. I attempted divers misdirections and calumnies, but she had revealed no weakness to me in our time together. She brought me before the avatar and accused me openly, once she completed her research. She contracted the aid of a necromancer to see if my ancestor might be conjured, even at this late date; he could not. On the basis of his writings, which represented a lifetime of struggle against those who had taken oaths to Hell, she showed that I, as well as my uncle, had brought dreadful shame upon him. I attempted to flee, thinking that I might re-enter the service of the Tyrant or some devil still greater than the Potentate of the Maze; Razaela and the cadre of demons stopped me well before I reached Chardecum, much less any true safety.

 

I was imprisoned in this cell, once used for honored guests. The mark of condemnation was painted upon the door, so that I would suffer if I attempted to evade it, and I cannot efface it. If I die before one with authority of spirit breaks the mark's power, my soul will depart the world quickly, and I will indeed suffer greatly; the Diabolic Legion shall feast on me, the least and the greatest alike. The warlock's rod is a mark of office; we bear the commission of Hell to root out the guilty and bring them to justice. In time we come to understand that those who enact justice must also commit crimes; for this reason the ouroboros is a favored symbol of those who serve Hell: in undertaking this work we sacrifice ourselves on the altar of justice and, in death, join all those whom we have condemned. Will my soul come to suffer at the foot of one whom I myself slew? It may be so.

 

Now I reiterate the Iron Law of Hell, by which I lived and by which I shall die.

The first law is spoken: Power lies in the hands of the one who sees most clearly; everyone is deceived.

The second law is spoken: Everyone manipulates others, for power or pleasure.

The third law is spoken: Love is a lie, to the beloved or to oneself.

The fourth law is spoken: Only the sinless could be beautiful.

The fifth law is spoken: We are charged with revealing corruption, deceit, and vileness of every kind.

The sixth law is spoken: The guilty are our rightful prey; when we have completed our mission of justice, we will know peace.

The seventh law is seldom spoken: The highest form of justice is to reveal both the sin and the punishment, that others will not likewise err.

 

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