The Pact of Thorns
Behold on this day __________ in the eighth age of this world a perpetual Compact is made between Cardinal Adrastus Thorn (hereafter the Master) and those who would be bound to him as his acolytes (hereafter the Bound). Both the Master and the Bound shall hold fast and true to this Compact through all trial and tribulation. By blood and soul the Bound commit to the Compact and swear that it shall never be undone.
The Bound shall know and understand the Four Loyalties.
The First Loyalty is to their patron and god – mighty Asmodeus, first among the fallen, prince of the nine hells, our father below. They shall do all that can be done to further his worship and his glory.
The Second Loyalty is to their master – He who is called the Cardinal Adrastus Thorn, High Priest of Asmodeus in Talingarde. They shall do the Master no harm and obey his every commandment as long as those commandments do not clash with their First Loyalty.
The Third Loyalty is to their companions – the other Bound who serve alongside them. The Bound shall deal with each other fairly and honorably as long as doing so does not clash with their first or second loyalties. All treasure, wealth and reward garnered in their exploits will be equally shared with all of the Bound who aided in its acquisition.
The Fourth Loyalty is to themselves – for Asmodeus is the Lord of Ambition and all who serve him should strive to become great and powerful in his service as long as doing so does not clash with their first, second or third loyalties. By their weakness, ye shall know the unworthy.
The Bound swear that they cleave to and uphold the Four Loyalties even in the face of death and damnation.
The Master swears that as long as the Four Loyalties are upheld, he shall reward the Bound as they deserve for their deeds.
Thus it is written, and thus it shall be.
We being of sound mind and free will do so swear and let they who violates this Compact know all the wrath of Hell unending. Signed,
The Dirges of Apollyon
Behold our shame that we, the Sons of the Pale Horseman, failed in our darkest hour to defend our prince the undying and ever malevolent Vetra-Kali Eats-the-Eyes. But I have seen it! I have seen the road to repentenance! 666 prayers. Three per day will break the hated Seal. With each prayer bathe the seal in unholy water and intone the dirge.
At the stroke of midnight each day call forth the Supplication to Darkness. Pray to the darkness so that we shall be forgiven. Upon the first midnight make the first sacrifice -- one of our own blood -- so that Vetra-Kali will know we are repentant.
At the first light of each dawn call forth the Cursing of the Light. Answer the spread of the shining lord’s light with our unyielding defiance. Upon the 111th Curse make the second sacrifice -- a true believer of Mitra -- so that the cursed god of the invaders will know that we fear him not and that his power to hold our master at bay is ending.
At dusk as darkness returns each day cry forth the Call Across the Void. Recite the name of Vetra- Kali so that he may hear us and return. With the final Call offer the third sacrifice -- one of the Victor’s own blood. By the same blood that caged him so shall our master be freed.
Let ye with wisdom understand. Once the final prayer is uttered upon the 222nd dusk, Vetra-Kali will begin his long traverse across the great wheel. At the stroke of midnight on that day he will emerge into his Sanctum and the Seal shall shatter.
Blessed day! Be ready, my brothers. His eyes have been stolen from him. Return them and the Prince will honor ye with one task for each.
For the Eye of Vigilance ask only for his mercy upon we mortals and plead that he do ye and yours no harm. For his wroth will be great.
For the Eye of Hatred ask for his greatest gift -- the Tears of Achlys so that once more every corner of the world may know his mercy.
For the Eye of Withering ask what ye will for in his gratitude he must answer your charge.
And then behold, the Prince restored. All shall know his blessings of pestilence and despair.
To My Ninth:
Since that day you arrived filthy and famished upon my doorstep, I have always seen within you great potential. And today you prove me correct once more. You have the Daemon’s Gift! I could not be more pleased. You have in your possession a terrible weapon and now, we must see it used.
Get thee to Ghastenhall with all haste. Therein seek Barnabus Thrain, master of the Stygian Knot. He awaits you in the Library of Ghaster. Ask him whom he serves. He will answer “only knowledge.” Yes, he is a priest of Mitra, but fear not – he has seen the power of our cause. Into Thrain’s hand deliver the Gift. He has agents who will see that the Tears are delivered to where it may do the most good. He will have something for you as well – a token of my esteem.
Then I command you; wait in Ghastenhall, avoiding the eyes of our enemies. You will have one month to rest and regain your strength’s full measure. Use it well. Prepare yourself for your next mission for it shall be thy greatest test yet.
The Tears of Achlys is a scalpel, my Ninth, and with it we will cut the hated Mitran faith from the heart of Talingarde. When the month is past, Tiadora will fetch you and bring you to audience with the Fire-Axe. He will give to you the kernel of an army. Build upon it! Recruit any who can aid you and once your army is ready, with the first gale of winter – you march to the Vale of Valtaerna, the most holy site in all of Talingarde.
They will not expect a winter assault. Break the Watchtower of Saintsbridge, invade the Vale and during winter’s merciless heart destroy everyone in that sacred place. Leave no witness making it look like a bugbear raid. Violate the holy heart of the Cathedral of Mitra Made Manifest and leave not a single soul alive. By the time winter is ended, the Tears will be well spread across Talingarde. The people desperate for respite will run to the simpering Mitrans begging for relief. And they will find in your wake only death and ashes, my Ninth.
Do all as I command and the time of our victory draws ever nearer. Commit my commands to heart and then burn this letter.
'''This humble shrine contains only a small shrine to Mitra and three aphorisms.'''
“Give not into greed for it rots the soul and withers the vine. Amongst the humble shall ye find the worthy.”
“Despair ye mighty! For by your power and arrogance have ye fallen into darkness. Not amongst the lords of the earth but amongst the servants shall ye find the worthy.”
“Beware thy enemy for he stalks you like a wicked serpent ready to consume ye with fire. The worthy knows his foe – his ways and tongues. Amongst those unafraid to speak the enemy’s name shall ye find the worthy.”