he Dreadlord's Throne, The Temple of Bane
The smell of
burning candles and incense floated thick in the room. It had been designed to
be a ballroom, not a sacrificial chamber, and the smoke couldn't go anywhere but
the hastily arranged vents on the ceiling and the heads of those attending the
ceremony. The old priest by the altar tried to control his anger and give a
certain dignity to the ritual, despite the demeaning location where it was
taking place. If it hadn't been by the unfortunate events
of the day before, the
offering would be taking place on the obsidian slab that topped the main altar
in the Dreadlord's Throne, as it was meant to be. With a gesture, he commanded
the choir to start their praises to the Dark Lord. A deep drone filled the
already charged room as the monks began their chanting.
The screams could be heard in the chamber well before the
side door opened and once it did they drowned the chanting with a series of vile
curses and insults. The goblin, bound and with signs of having been flogged, was
dragged into the room by two slaves entirely dressed in red robes. Much to the
delight of the attendants, he unsuccessfully wiggled and tried to free himself
from his handlers, which unceremoniously dumped and then shackled him on top of
the altar, where he remained spouting incoherent threats. The priest was not
amused, and he moved on with the ritual.
"All bow to His Might, All obey His Command, All submit to
His Will. Praised be our Dark Lord Bane!", he shouted over the maddening noise.
The audience kneeled, and the choir stopped chanting all of a sudden. Startled,
the goblin paused for an instant, only to resume his litany of obscenities. He
paused again, this time prompted by a fist slamming into his face. "Be SILENT!"
the priest commanded as he punched the goblin. And if that was not enough, he
placed an ornate dagger on his throat. That seemed to convince the creature to
"Yes, brothers and sisters, we gather here today to praise
the Will of our Lord, to whom we humbly submit our bodies and souls. Rule us, oh
Bane, with an iron Fist and let us not stray from your Path, lest we be crushed
by your Wrath", he continued as he looked up to the audience, the dagger still
firmly placed against the goblin's throat.
"Come forth, Haleb, and tell your brothers and sisters of
your grievance, by Bane's Will", he continued. A frail old man stood up among
the kneeling audience and walked toward the altar, where he turned and faced the
"Your Holiness", the old man said in a trembling voice, "I
am not worthy. I am weak and old and my time on this plane is already spent. All
I have is the joy of seeing my progeny grow and become strong servants of Our
Lord Bane. But I could not... I could not..." As his voice broke and tears
flowed from his eyes, the priest laid his free hand on the old man's shoulder.
"My eldest grandson", the man continued, "he... he was snatched by one of these
creatures", and as he turned to look at the goblin his old eyes flared with
unrepentant ire. "He was taken! Taken and never to be seen again! And all he did
was to stray once into the ruins! My poor daughter, she..." He could not finish
the sentence and burst into tears. The priest muttered something on his ear and
the man walked down, back to his keeling place, consumed by grief.
"You know Haleb", the priest said, making a short pause to
let the words sink. "He is a good citizen and a faithful Banite. Two of his sons
died defending the Word of Bane against the heathen. And just when his life of
dedication and worship is rewarded with a quiet life and a caring family, these
beasts... these despicable creatures that roam unchecked the ruins of the once
proud streets of Phlan, these things have taken what Haleb loved most. His
grandchild, probably dead… hopefully dead, for life among the goblins is worse
than death itself. His daughter, the child's mother, found dead by her own hand.
And what does the City Watch do about it? Send a few patrols, a pitiful display
of power that sends the vermin into hiding but does not root it out." The priest
paused again, allowing the murmur from the crowd to grow.
“What do I hear? What do the people of Phlan call for?
Speak LOUDER!" he called out.
“Justice!" one woman shouted.
“LOUDER, I SAY!!!"
“JUSTICE!" “LAW AND ORDER!" “DEATH TO THE RUIN DWELLERS!"
“REVENGE!" The congregation was howling at this point, so the priest raised his
hand, demanding silence with a swift gesture.
“I hear the good people of Phlan demanding justice. The
Church of Bane is a defender of Justice. Those who break the law should receive
swift punishment, and be made an example so others do not dare following on
“I hear the good people of Phlan demanding the empire of
the law. The Church of Bane is a Champion of the Law. Everything and everyone
must be bound by the law, and the law must be enforced not just when crimes are
committed, but well before! A strong Watch is the embodiment of the law, and
they should be allowed to destroy the criminals before the thought of committing
a crime is nurtured in their hearts".
“I hear the good people of Phlan demanding the cleansing of
the Western Ruins. By Bane's will, it shall be done! The Church of Bane summons
all volunteers, local or foreign, to destroy those who wish to destroy us, to
make the ruins habitable again, to rebuild the lost city!"
The crowd was roaring again and the priest paused once
more, this time smiling. By now, the goblin's eyes were about to pop out of
their sockets, the dagger's point about to break his skin as the priest spoke to
his audience in a softer voice.
“I hear the good people of Phlan calling for revenge.
Revenge. No, brothers and sisters. Revenge is but a lesser evil, brought forth
by the lack of proper Justice, a necessary shortcoming when the Law does not
reach the most wicked, a substitute of the ultimate Order, which can only exist
in and by Bane's Will. Because when Bane rules over Faerun, all will be subject
to his Might, and those who refuse to do so will respond to his Justice! ALL
The congregation was incensed, the moment was right. The
priest turned to look at the terrified goblin's face. He stared back at him,
afraid of even begging for his life. The priest took the dagger away from his
throat, to the surprise of goblin and congregation alike.
“Creature. I ask you now, and will not ask twice. Do you
submit to the Will of the Dark Lord Bane, may He reign over Faerun with an iron
Fist for all of eternity?"
The goblin blinked, utterly shocked by the question, but
quickly reacted to yell “Yes!!! Yes!!!"
The priest smiled, “Good. Good. Because it is His Will that
you pay with your life for the crimes of your brethren", he said as he plunged
the dagger deep under the goblin's ribcage. “And so is his Will…" He removed the
dagger and inserted his free hand through the wound. “…that you and all those
who threaten the city of Phlan…" He pulled his hand back, and with a ripping
sound he retrieved the goblin's heart and lifted it for all to see. “…be CRUSHED
by the Might of His Church!!!" And as he said those words, he squeezed the heart
into a bloody pulp which he then threw to the altar. He then turned and left
through a door behind the altar, followed by the roaring chants of the faithful.
As soon as the door had closed, two slaves helped him
remove the bloodied clothes and a third one offered a moist cloth to remove the
goblin blood that stained his face and white hair. The priest no longer
disguised his anger and yanked the cloth from the slave's hands, prompting him
to bow and leave hastily. A small man dressed in non religious garbs was leaning
against the corridor wall, looking at the priest with an expression of concern
but also with a hint of amusement.
"A nice ceremony, milord. The populace will be impressed",
"Spare me your sarcasm", the priest snapped back. "You know
this was a mockery of a true sacrifice. This should have taken place in the
Dreadlord's Throne, not in this pathetic shack trying to pass as a temple. I
only pray Bane does not take offense by our lack of progress". Slightly calmed
down after his tirade and with a clean new set of clothes on him, he continued
walking down the corridor, the small man walking one step behind. "Tell me, what
is the body count from the incident?"
"Four dead slaves, two missing. Also two free workers were
killed, including Tirkang, the night shift foreman. Both from Melvaunt, that'll
save us the public embarrassment".
"The real embarrassment is not being able to complete the
building in the scheduled deadline, and not being able to eliminate these
threats by our own!". The priest showed frustration, as if this was an old story
repeated once again. "How are the cleaning operations going?"
"Slow, your Holiness. Adventurers are not a reliable bunch,
as you surely know. There are the odd faithful Banites that volunteer to go into
the catacombs and not go out until they are cleansed, but those are a minority.
It's much easier to recruit hunting parties to kill roaming creatures in the
ruins". He stopped for a second. "Of course that is good for the public image of
the Church and it speeds up the reconstruction work, but does little to move the
main operations of the temple back into the Throne".
"This is unnerving. We are spending enormous amounts of
gold that would be better spent in the reconstruction, and we are already months
behind schedule. I will be lucky if Fzoul doesn't summon me to the Keep to be
dragged and quartered". They took a staircase leading up into the living
chambers. "I'm depending on you for this, Ralik. We cannot afford any more
slippage. If the temple and its surroundings are not properly secured we will
give an image of weakness, and you know what that means!"
"Indeed, milord. I am honored by the trust you have placed
They stopped by a window. The massive bulk of the old
temple of Bane, the Dreadlord's Throne, cut a shadow against the starry sky,
barely illuminated by fires lit by the men working day and night to bring it
back to its former glory. It was far from being finished, but it was already
suitable for the cult. "If only the locals weren't so easily scared…"
“If only, milord".