The Heavenly Host (Demons of Astlan Book 2)

BOOK: The Heavenly Host (Demons of Astlan Book 2)
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Contents

Prolegomenon: Dates, Time, Calendar and “Previously On”

Chapter 80

Chapter 81

Chapter 82

Chapter 83

Chapter 84

Chapter 85

Chapter 86

Chapter 87

Chapter 88

Chapter 89

Chapter 90

Chapter 91

Chapter 92

Chapter 93

Chapter 94

Chapter 95

Chapter 96

Chapter 97

Chapter 98

Chapter 99

Chapter 100

Chapter 101

Chapter 102

Chapter 103

Chapter 104

Chapter 105

Chapter 106

Chapter 107

Chapter 108

Chapter 109

Chapter 110

Chapter 111

Chapter 112

Chapter 113

Chapter 114

Chapter 115

Lacuna

Appendix: Clerics: Priests, Monks, Nuns and Holy Warriors

Appendix: The Church of Tiernon

Appendix:  Greater Demon vs. Knight Rampant of Tiernon; Freehold

Appendix: Gods and Their Agents

Appendix: Select Pantheons with a Presence in Astlan

Appendix: Animus and Mana Wielders

Appendix: Mana Pools and Anima Jars

Appendix: Time of Day

Appendix: Druids and Shamans

Demons of Astlan

Volume II:

The Heavenly Host

By

Jerry Langland

Copyright 2015

Special Thanks and Dedication to:

Michael Begal, Jay Haesly, Sean Jones, Bob Bingham, Jeff Hodapp, Rick Szekeres, Don Meyer

Edited By: [email protected]

Cover Art By: Jacob Atienza (
http://jacobarts.weebly.com
)

Visit
http://www.Astlan.Net
for Maps, History, Details and Artwork.

Special thanks to all the Beta Demons who helped get the story into shape:

 

 

 

Prolegomenon: Dates, Time, Calendar and “Previously On”

Reminder from Volume I:  The planet of Astlan has two moons, Uropia, the closer moon orbits Astlan around the axis of rotation from East to West (like Earth’s moon) and Anuropia, the further out moon orbits Astlan over the poles of rotation from North to South and then South to North.

http://www.astlan.net/Home/AstrometryAstrology/TheMoonsandTheirCycles.aspx

Uropia, the moon with a feminine aspect has 10 months per Astlanian year, Anuropia has 5 months per year and thus for every one Uropian month, there are two Anuropian months.  The five months of Anuropia conveniently correspond to the five seasons: Hearth, Winter, Spring, Summer, Harvest.

Anuropian months are not specifically named, given that they also correspond to the seasons which are reversed in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.  Anuropian quarter months are however named, each named quarter month has two ten day weeks that correspond to the relative positions of the two moons.

While timekeeping does vary across Astlan, the dates are fairly standardized for trade purposes.  Typically, dates are given as Anuropian Quarter Month/Day of Quarter Month/Year.  In texts, the quarter month is denoted by either a number 1 to 20 or the name of the month. 

http://www.astlan.net/Home/AstrometryAstrology/AstlanianCalendar.aspx

There are multiple calendars that designate the current year depending on specific events; over the last few centuries, those calendars that do not start and stop at the same time have fallen out of favor so that currently the major calendars in use have years that are only offsets of each other.

http://www.astlan.net/Home/History/Timeline.aspx

The Council States, where most of the humans in Demons of Astlan live, officially uses the Post-Vargosian Calendar which dates from the fall of the Vargosite Empire 424 years before the arrival of the Dark Lord Tommus.  Mount Doom is obviously in the Abyss which does not have real days or nights, nor seasons.  However, they do use a rough calendar system in which the years seem to roughly correspond to Astlanian years, although this is a completely arbitrary choice made by various demon lords.  

 

To understand time tracking during the day, please refer to this
Appendix on Time of Day.

 

As a reminder, here are some recent historical points.

  • Approximately 10 years ago, Lenamare the Great learns of a book of immeasurable value to both conjurors and demons alike.  Lenamare’s nemesis, Exador and his allies Ramses and Bess were already aware of the book and had been trying to locate it for many years.
  • A few years ago, Lenamare ascertained a very likely location for the book and hired a band of interdimensional rogues and bounty hunters to retrieve the book from ruins inside of Oorstemoth.
  • Lenamare’s agents acquired the book but were captured; Lenamare, however, had planted magic items on his agents that caused them to blame Exador for the robbery.
  • Exador spent nearly a year clearing himself of the charges, and determined that Lenamare had the book that he and his allies wanted.
  • Exador and his allies plot to seize Lenamare’s Academy of Wizardry and more specifically the book.  Lenamare discovers the plot by Exador and begins planning his defense.
  • On Cyclos 7
    th
    440 PV during a training session with students, Lenamare and his partner Jehenna discover what they thought was an unbound lesser demon.  Upon trying to summon the demon for the first time they realize it was actually a Greater Demon.   With great risk to themselves and the students Lenamare succeeds in binding the demon to his will. 
    • Cyclos 7, 440 is Day Zero for the events detailed here.  It is the day that the Demon Tom is first summoned.
  • 14 days later (DZ+14), Lenamare blows up his own school and takes out the majority of Exador’s forces.
  • The following evening (DZ+15) the Verigas, High Priest of Tiernon in Gizzor Del has his own demon summoning hijacked by a Demon Lord with a party of humans.  This begins the Rod’s involvement
  • A few days later, an Oorstemothian ship attempts to apprehend a smuggler and is illegally destroyed by one Lord Edwyrd, a powerful animage that also controls demons.  This begins Oorstemoth’s involvement
  • 30 days later (DZ+30),  on Electh 17
    th
    440 PV the Greater Demon Tom battles Talarius, Knight Rampant of Tiernon, Tom defeats Talarius by subverting the mana links between Tiernon and his priests, and using it to take control of the Rod of Tiernon, the holy army.  Further, he reverses the blade used to kill Orcus and tosses Talarius “Into the Abyss.”
    • Electh 17
      th
      440 PV is known as the “Day of Fight” or DOF.

 

This volume begins on DOF, mere seconds after Talarius is tossed “Into the Abyss.”

 

 

 

Chapter 80

Day of Fight (DOF). Day Zero (Chapter 1) + 30 Days.

Moments after the battle between Tom and Talarius.

Morning of 15 (Electh) - 17 (Asday) - 440 PV.

“…Thpp” Ramses made a tongue-sucking noise on his teeth. “Did you, my dear compatriots, witness what I think I witnessed?”

Bess and Exador were silent. Everything around them was quiet; one could hear the tassels on their flying carpet fluttering in the wind.

Or at least, it was quiet to persons of typical human hearing; if they’d so chosen, the three archdemons could have heard what was going on down on the ground below them and in the sky behind them and to their left. Chaos, insanity, slaughter, you name it—that’s what was going on all around them.

In the air behind them, the Oorstemothian Sky Fleet was eradicating the last of a horde of several hundred to a thousand lower-level demons that had just been expelled, forcibly, from the city of Freehold. Demons that had been under orders from Exador, one of the three occupants of this flying carpet floating about a thousand feet above the encampment of the Holy Rod of Tiernon, the military arm of the Holy Church of Tiernon.

“Is there anyone on this carpet who does
not
think that an,
ahem
, fourth-order demon just started Armageddon?” Exador asked.

“It’s going to take a bit of work to avoid it,” Bess commented sourly.

“I think we should adjourn to the Abyss to discuss this. Agreed?” Ramses said quietly. “My place?”

“Yes.” Exador agreed.

“I don’t want to be here when Tiernon’s flunkies show up,” Bess stated. “After getting kicked out of Freehold on my ass this morning, I’m not up to dealing with a bunch of avatars.”

“Particularly not his,” Ramses agreed. He shook his head and opened a demonic gateway in front of the carpet, and Exador flew them through into Ramses’ estate in the Abyss. Once through, Ramses closed the gate behind them.

~

“This is very inconvenient,” Exador complained as they sat around a table in a smaller, cozier chamber of Ramses’ palace. One of the servants had brought them cups of Denubian Choco-Coffee
TM
, the extremely caffeinated beverage with a great mocha taste at 132 degrees centigrade. Among other effects, it was quite intoxicating to demons. Completely lethal to humans, even if served chilled—meaning any temperature below the boiling point of water.

“We shouldn’t be drinking this early in the day, but hell, if you can’t drink at a time like this, when can you drink?” Bess complained.

“That so called fourth-order of Lenamare’s somehow tapped into the link between a god and a high priest. I had no idea that was even possible!” Ramses complained.

“Who the hell would be dumb enough to even try?” Exador exclaimed, shaking his head. “Who doesn’t think that a god or their avatar is going to notice when their incoming mana levels start dipping? Or when there are huge, non-authorized drains on the reserves?”

“Or when you kidnap one of their highest ranking, most Graced agents on the plane and haul him off to the Abyss?” Bess asked.

“As soon as Lilith or Sammael hear about this, they are going to work to secure this so-called fourth-order demon,” Exador pointed out.

“That should be a fun scramble,” Bess said drily.

“I am so glad we don’t mess with Court politics,” Ramses added.

“However, politics aside,” Ramses interjected, “it is a given that Tiernon’s avatars are going to show up to investigate, and there is not much we can do about that. They will probably interrogate everyone in the city as well as in the surrounding armies.” The others shrugged in agreement. “Therefore, our primary concern is ensuring they don’t find out about the book.”

The sound of cups being set down in saucers was very clear in the silence as they contemplated what would happen if Tiernon or his avatars got hold of the book. It is very hard for archdemons to get chills running down their spines, but it can happen, and at that moment, it did.

~

Arch-Diocate Iskerus was in shock, as was Arch-Vicar General Barabus. Barabus was staring at the spot where a flaming hole in the ground had opened up and swallowed the greatest knight of Tiernon into the Abyss. The only thing Barabus appeared capable of doing was to blink repeatedly.

Arch-Diocate Iskerus, on the other hand, was staring at a point a few feet away, where a holy, albeit very dark, artifact of his god had been, apparently, repurposed. He reached down to hold his hand over it, feeling its aura. He had only ever examined the dagger once before and even though he had sensed his god’s presence in it, the darkness in it had terrified him. Now that darkness was gone, and in fact, he felt the normal radiance of a healing artifact of Tiernon. It was as if the blade had been reversed.

Reversed by a demon. A demon! Iskerus shuddered all the way down to the roots of his soul. How could this be? It was not possible. His mind boggled at the very idea! He felt a gentle touch on his shoulder; a priest. He could not remember the man’s name.

“Arch-Diocate, what should we do with the high priests who have collapsed, and Verigas?” someone asked.

“Take them to a quarantine tent; give them all the healing we safely can, but ensure every precaution is taken. Apply to them every purification you can find or imagine. I’ll provide more instructions later.”

“And the Rod members who were also possessed?” the same someone asked Iskerus.

“The same, different tent; disarm them, remove their armor and station guards,” Arch-Vicar General Barabus said, walking over. He extended his hand to Iskerus and the man took it, getting up slowly, suddenly feeling far older than his current age.

“Any thoughts?” Barabus asked as he led the Arch-Diocate back to his tent.

Iskarus gestured for a nearby high priest to secure the dagger. “Not yet. I’m numb.” That was the only word he could come up with.

“As am I, but I’m slowly waking. We need to put on a very brave face for the troops and the junior priests. A lot of faith has been shaken today; we must work to restore it.” Iskerus nodded in agreement. “For now, we must put aside our own doubts, fears, insecurities and not think too deeply upon our own questions. We must think of the souls in our care.”

“Agreed. So which of us gets to report this to the Supreme Temple?” Iskerus asked.

Barabus chuckled. “I hope that’s as far as this goes—I pray—but I am not convinced.”

~

“What an Abyssal disaster!” Jenn exclaimed as she walked around the palace with Maelen and Gastropé. “Did no one think through the consequences of this?” Jenn waved her hands angrily towards a pile of rubble. “You’ve got hundreds of demons trapped in a palace, many with no way out, and then on short notice, with no real planning, you cast the most powerful banishment spell anyone has ever used?” She shook her head in exasperation. “How could these supposedly brilliant master wizards not even think to open the doors and windows?”

The palace looked like a war zone; windows were smashed everywhere, and the walls had holes in them, surrounded by rubble where demons had blasted through to escape the city.

“Seems like another detail beneath the bother of your friends Lenamare and Jehenna,” Maelen observed in his humorously sardonic manner. Jenn just shook her head.

Gastropé was scanning the area as they walked. “No demons, none. They are all gone. Amazing; I can’t believe it.”

“You would think they would tell people first, though,” Maelen said, noting more than a few people reclining near fountains, having previously fainted or soiled themselves when hundreds and hundreds of invisible demons had started popping up and desperately trying to flee via any means possible.

“This is so like men!” Jenn exclaimed. “Were there any women involved in this crazy scheme?”

“Jehenna,” Gastropé replied.

Jenn glared at him. “You know that icicle doesn’t count. She needs a bigger codpiece than most of the men I know.” Gastropé glared at her. “Yes, that includes you.” Jenn snapped and then suddenly realized what she was saying and softened. “I’m sorry, I’m just frustrated.” She grabbed his forearm and gave it a squeeze before releasing it.

“Where are Edwyrd and Rupert? I went to check on them, but they apparently didn’t return to their room after breakfast,” Jenn asked. Maelen shrugged and Gastropé went pale, which actually was not that unusual for him.

“Uhm,” Gastropé hedged, “they’re probably running around with Damien trying to clean things up. My understanding is that he didn’t know about this until this morning when they dragged him down to the wards.”

Jenn nodded. “He was with me all day yesterday. I am sure he was beat and went straight to bed last night.”

~

Damien shook his head as he gazed downward at the mess in the palace from his balcony. Seriously, he had to wonder at his fellow council members. Abyss, he had to wonder about himself. He had allowed himself to be dragged into this undertaking at the last minute and then had been so overwhelmed by the complexity and ingenuity of the spell that he’d just gone along with it.

He had not stopped to think about all the consequences, nor had the others. This seemed to be emblematic of many of Lenamare’s actions. Like blowing up his own school along with the besieging army. He wasn’t sure if Lenamare was all there. Perhaps he was more ego than wisdom. He wished he could talk this over with Antefalken, but the bard would have been expelled from the city, as would Tom/Edwyrd and Rupert. He had gotten quite used to strategizing with them in the last several days. He needed someone to vent to.

Well, better to find out what was going on, or had gone on, outside. He would go see Gandros about leading a team outside to see what had transpired and to reopen negotiations with the Rod and Oorstemoth. That was sufficiently unpleasant enough that he didn’t expect to get much opposition from Gandros.

[Clerics, Priests, Monks, Nuns and Holy Warriors]

[The Church of Tiernon]

BOOK: The Heavenly Host (Demons of Astlan Book 2)
13.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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