Gavin made his way to the temple of Iomedae on the western edge of Fairhill after a light breakfast at the Waving Hand and stopping to see his trusty pony and new draft horse at the Blackbrand Stables. Viktor Blackbrand had put them up at an affordable rate. The breakfast had been tasty and the horses in fine shape.
Gavin was heading to make his prayers and thanksgiving for life. Iomedae had tested him but shown light on him these last few days. He thought the warrior goddess would have expected more of him but he had come out on top, with help. He would beg her forgiveness and strength to go out and best his enemies with greater honor the next time.
He had celebrated life in his usual methods: Food, drink, company, and sleep. He wrote in his journal and then washed this morning. There was a simple shaving bowl and mirror in his small room above the Waving Hand. It was a nice wood building. Likely built out of the local timber a hundred years ago when the forest was closer to the town. He used his small shaving blade to trim up his shaggy hair and then dressed. He had dressed in his nice cotton shirt, flax leggings and laced up his leather boots. He buckled on his belt and short sword over that. Securing his long dagger in his boot he took one last look in the mirror. Nothing special to look at he reminded himself. But better than yesterday. Light pink scar tissue crept up from beneath his shirt collar. If it hadn’t been for Delph that wound would have killed him. But thank Iomedae, he was here today.
Arriving at the stone building Gavin was struck by the fortified look of the building. It was a beautiful building for the relatively small community but yet looked like it was ready to be the town’s last defense in case of an attack. Whomever built this building had certainly had the goddess of war mentality in mind. The building itself was in the shape of a shield with walls as the outsides of that shield. Beautiful but stark in its decoration. More function over form.
Gavin mused over the slightly interesting nature of such a large presence of the warrior goddess in this town. Her priests traditionally go toward the fight and it may be nothing, but it could mean something is going on here. Or maybe a battle might have brought them here centuries ago.
Walking inside the main public temple Gavin observed an area for the followers to sit and worship. The walls were whitewashed, inside and out. There were high doorways and arches with pillars supporting the ceilings and walls. Statues of knights adorned cutouts along the walls. Emerging from an alcove a priest clad in ankle-length white cassock with gold trim and matching mitre. The symbol of Iomedae, the sword of valor, was elaborately embroidered on the front of the cassock. The priest wore an ornate long sword hanging from his belt.
“For Victory, For the Heart.” The priest greeted approaching me.
“She gave nine drops of her blood.” I responded with the phrase of the ninth act of Iomedae. It was a common saying among the cavilers in Lastwall that reminded themselves of her sacrifices and that they may be called to do the same someday. That act also portrayed Iomedae freeing nine knights being held by a vampire-mage. If there were a vampire problem in the area as Tsen had been lead to believe, then perhaps this would encourage the priest to talk about what he knows.
“Well met, traveler. I am Sword Knight Greer. What can we help you with today?
“Well met, Sword Knight, I am Gavin Vors. I am hoping to speak with your historian about some creatures we encountered on the road. Something about these creatures rings a bell but I cannot recall the details.”
His eyes glazed over at the mere mention of “historian” and he did not even show interest in the creature. But without any hesitation he pointed me in the direction of a priest named Hardigan. I guess if it didn’t have to deal with a sword Greer wasn’t your man. Sword Knights of the Inheritor were an interesting breed. They used their swords for everything. Even baptisms required the use of a sword. It was the chief symbol of their order and they made sure to incorporate it at every event. Except apparently research.
Hardigan proved to be less military in appearance and didn’t carry a sword. The embroidered symbol was enough for him. The fourty-ish year old man looked happy in his small room full of books and scrolls where he took to his duties as scribe and historian very seriously. Greetings exchanged I asked him about the Leucrotta we had met on the road. He was not familiar with it but began pulling down several texts dealing with magical beasts and we narrowed it to evil ones based on Felinor’s detection by the spell. Hardigan and I read through sections from a dozen tomes before finding a description under another name. There was no doubt this was the very beast we had run into in the woods each night.
This chimera resembles a strange mix of animals with the head of a feral badger, the body of a lean predatory cat and the feet of a stag. This odd mixture probably results from being the spawn of Lamashtu, the mother of monsters. If legend is to be believed this chimera was created when Lamashtu took a particularly large, virile hyena as a mate. They are about five feet tall and weigh around eight hundred pounds.
Both our studies of religion and studies of evil immediately called to light the tales of Lamashtu. Lamashtu (pronounced lah-MAHSH-too) is the mother and patroness of many misshapen and malformed creatures that crawl, slither, or flap on, above, or below the surface of Golarion. Hardigan grabbed a tome off the shelf dealing with divinity and flipped to the section on her.
Lamashtu was once a mighty demon lord. In ages past she was allied with Pazuzu, though the exact nature of their alliance is often disputed by scholars of demon lore. Some say they were lovers, others say siblings, or simply convenient allies. What is known for certain is that she lured the god Curchanus into her territory and beset him with swarms of demons and other monsters until he was weak enough for her to attack him. By defeating him, she ripped his godly domain over beasts from him, beginning an ancient vendetta with Curchanus’s protege Desna. This imbued the demoness with a small amount of his divine power.
Pazuzu was enraged by this shift in power and as she returned from that battle he betrayed and attacked her. He wounded her terribly, but her newfound divinity allowed her to survive. They have been mortal enemies since. Lamashtu’s vendetta against him is only equaled by Desna’s own vendetta against her.
It is claimed by many monstrous humanoid races that she was their first progenitor and creator.
I spoke with Hardigan in hushed tones about a possible threat from a cult practicing in the vicinity. But he assured me he had heard nothing of the kind. The church was dispersed without any formal organization so it would be tough to know for sure. I would have to do more investigation into the killings of the livestock but if it is the leucrotta then perhaps someone had called them here.
It was lunch time and Hardigan invited me to eat with him and I was impressed by the eight members of the temple I saw in the meal hall. These were good people in this temple. It was good to have them around.