Surviving to see another day is always a remarkable accomplishment, but surviving to save another life is a greater one. While the events of their meeting was a remarkable one, it would pale in comparison to their accomplishments in hunting the Demon of Almas. Unfortunately for them all, they had no idea what the enemy they truly faced was… — The Professor
It all began with a murder. When returning from a city council meeting to determine the fate of the kobolds now residing in the Andoran mines, Mun'yal and Birch picked up the scent of death coming from nearby. The pair discovered the grisly scene in an alleyway of a murder and a friend taken too soon. Eagle Knight trainee Jared Westin was horribly tortured and dropped into the alley from high above. His death would signal the beginning of a great journey for Birch, Seriphos and Oniia.
After calling the city watch, Birch was quickly met by Constable Delacroix, Seriphos and "Nuvo." Delacroix clearly saw something beyond the obvious in the murder, and with regret explained that this was not the first such murder he had seen. The exact style of death was similar to several others in the past month spread out across the city. It would be made clear to the three that the Almas city government was incapable of researching and solving the murders on their own.
A clue would come early in the form of an eye-witness on the scene who claimed to see a "demon" flying away from the scene of the murder. After some thought and discussion, Delacroix put Seriphos in charge of an auxiliary investigation team to look into the murders along with Nuvo. Birch would operate as an outside contractor lending his services to the city.
Spreading out to investigate the murders, the three would each discover different clues about the deaths. None of the previous murders came from similar backgrounds, social standing or regions of the city. Examining their corpses would reveal a common bond between them all in the form of a mysterious black tattoo that matched the strange mark that Seriphos has bore on his chest since childhood.
Independent of Nuvo and Seriphos' investigation of the previously dead, Birch would search the city for evidence of another murder that perhaps had gone unseen. Outside of the city he and Mun'yal would pick up the scene of of another death, and discover not a victim of the Demon of Almas, but another monster entirely. A dead child, frozen in the snow, would be brought to the Southwatch Garrison to be more closely investigated. From here, Birch would scour the orphanages of the city in an attempt to have Mun'yal find the dead boy's scent somewhere.
After a long search, Birch would eventually come to the Winterbrook Orphanage, a rickety and drafty old building with a tie far stranger than he could have imagined. Here, Birch would get to know the children and discover that the dead child he had found was a run-away. Beginning to suspect some foul-play among the orphanage operators, Birch would also discover a matching scent in the bedrooms — not to just the lost boy, but to Nuvo as well. The children of the orphanage knew her as "Oniia," a free-spirited young woman who would disappear for weeks at a time only to return with stories and coin for the children. Birch would learn that one of the children who had also gone missing was a very young Drow child named Aelsith, but he would discover precious little more about that unusual orphan.
Leaving the Orphanage, fate would have Birch cross paths with the shadow of the Demon of Almas soaring high in the sky. A bloody shoe falling from the sky implied that the demon had collected another victim. Rushing to follow the creature, Birch would follow it to a derelict church of Pharasma in the mill district. Chasing the demon into the belltower, Birch would hear screams and smashing wood, only to barge in right as the demon appeared to be crashing back into the tower. A huge, hideous creature of stony gray skin and enormous claws, wings and glowing red eyes, it appeared to match the eye-witnesses' description perfectly.
Firing a volley of arrows at the fleeing "demon," Birch would do little harm to the creature. Unfortunately for Birch, he and Mun'yal were unable to catch the creature. However they were able to save the young woman he had taken, a cartographer for the Pathfinder society, Miala Vileen. Escorting the terrified Miala away from the church, Birch would get the attention of the Southwatch, and send Miala into their custody.
He would have a very remarkable story to tell the others when he reunited with them.
Nothing is ever truly as it seems. Black becomes white, white darkens to black, and we discover that the world is myriad shades of gray. What we perceive as the answer sometimes is a lie, and more often than not is merely another question. The Demon of Almas would show them that, and I would prove it. — The Professor
|Continued In||Mistaken Identities|