As the vampire city woke and word spread of the humans that lived just hours away, the immortal predators began to flow down the Road of Origins. The great stone guardians slowed them for awhile, but eventually were disabled, seemingly leaving nothing to stop the oncoming tide of death. The party realized that there must have been more of a defense than the guardians or this would have happened long ago, so they examined the lights along the road and discovered they seemed to have a dual purpose.
Following the engraved power lines, they discovered a control panel in a building just beyond the entrance to the road. Placing Ox’s control stone into the panel, they switched the lights to their other mode, causing screams of pain and horror to echo down the road towards them and confirming their suspicions.
Realizing that maybe they shouldn’t just kill all the vampires in the road since that would undoubtedly start a war, Siri flickered the lights on and off a bit to try to make it seem like it wasn’t an intentional attack. However, Doc and the designated translator, Ox, each had their own ideas of what would be best when they set off down the road to speak to any remaining vampires about ceasing aggressions. In the end, diplomacy failed and Doc sounded an alarm to tell Siri to activate the lights, which were now powered independently so the vampires couldn’t cut the power, and the vampires were turned to sludge.
Siri set to work on a motion trigger to activate the light defenses while Doc left to get drunk and Ox consulted another ancient tome they’d discovered to be The Book of the Steel Guard. Beyond learning that the Steel Guard were humans infused with planar metal who could transform as he could and that Black Knights were members of the Steel Guard who had ‘corrupted their life forces’ to be able to walk amongst ‘creatures of darkness,’ Ox learned how to create Black Knights.
Ox went to get drunk with Doc and the two of them decided it would be a good idea to perform the ritual on Doc. Returning to the Church of the Black Knights, Ox followed the instructions and a portal opened above the altar. Darkness streamed through the portal and enveloped Doc, who found himself in Abbith facing a massive writhing blackness. Doc recited the Oath of the Black Knights and the black force welcomed him into the Order. The darkness receded from Docs body and the portal closed, leaving them with nothing more than to resume their drinking.
Later, Doc woke up somewhere dark, surprisingly without a hangover. He appeared to be in a simple stone room lit by a single glow globe. Jax was there, sitting by one of the walls, waiting patiently. In reaction to Doc waking, he stands and said, “What’s up Doc?”
He paused to let Doc shake sleep and confusion off further, then continued, “I’m here to present you with an opportunity. How would you like to finish what you started last night and become a member of the Steel Guard? I’ve figured out the process.”
After a moment, Doc recalled the ritual he completed last night to become a Black Knight. “What’s the catch? What’s in it for you, Jax?”
He shrugged, smiled and said, “Seeing if it works, of course.”
Doc laughed, exhausted. “So I’m to be the guinea pig, was that it? Oh, fine.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out Jax’s egg. “Here, you dropped this,” he said, and tossed the egg to Jax.
Jax gave Doc a wide grin at his acceptance then guided him out the door. They appeared to be in the tunnels under the City of the Sun. Jax commented, “These tunnels run all over under the city… and beyond. Just let me know if you ever need help finding someplace.”
They came to a spiral stone stairwell and headed up, arriving in some sort of ancient armory. Jax helped Doc into one of the suits of full plate armor that stood in display against the wall. It appeared to be made out of that strange metal from the other plane. Then he guided Doc, albeit rather haltingly, out another door and Doc realized they were in the church-like structure where he’d performed the ritual earlier that night.
Jax said, “When I saw you guys perform that ritual earlier, I realized that there were multiple places where they were opening portals in this city, and they seem to use this metal,” he gestured at the ‘altar’ “to somehow anchor and/or connect to the other plane at each location.” He continued, “I don’t think the placement was random, either. It’s like there’s weak points between the planes at each location. I noticed it when examining the destroyed city center. Either that or the explosion caused the weak point and there just happens to be another one right here over this altar.”
Then he grinned, “And here’s where it gets really cool. I listened to the verbal commands you two used to open the portal here and have figured out how to open it without speaking the oath, not to mention opening it somewhere where there wasn’t a crazy dark tentacle monster on the other side.” He fidgets with a device and a portal begins to open in front of you. “OK, go ahead and step through. Once you’re on the other side, transform into the inorganic version of yourself and the armor should ‘become one’ with you.”
Doc sighed, “It’s not as if I have anything better to do,” and stepped up to the portal. He looked back at Jax and said, “if this doesn’t work, I mean if I don’t … Ah fuck it,” and walked through the portal.
Doc found himself in Abbith once more, but this time there was no crazy dark thing there, just glowing grasslands. Once there, Doc concentrated and began the transformation. However, when he did so, the etched linear designs in the armor began to glow, then the entire thing started glowing, then it fused together into a seamless skin over him. Doc felt practically invincible in it. When he tried deactivating his inorganic form to go back through the portal, he found that the metal disappeared within himself and he became ‘normal’ once more. It seemed that it had worked.
After Doc returned to the city, Jax tossed the egg back to him. “I think perhaps you should keep this. Being on the front lines, so to speak, it might be more useful for you to have it readily available just in case you need it.” He also tossed Doc a pouch with 150 shins in it. “For being such a reliably valuable employee,” he grinned. “I can’t wait to hear what you discover in the vampire city once you’ve ‘cleared it out.’ Let me know if you need any Steel Guard mercs or anything now that we know the process.”
“Sure… will do,” Doc said, feeling like a whore more than ever.
Meanwhile, Siri was awoken by that mysterious high, droning, disembodied voice she’d heard in the past. “Siri… Siri..” As she shook off sleep a bit further, the voice continued, “Beware the ritual of the Black Knights. Be careful about what you give up… they might take more from you than you can imagine…”