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Lore:Helm's Hold

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A Betrayal in Question, pt 1[edit | edit source]

Mordai,

You were right to send me to investigate what's happening in Helm's Hold. Rohini switches sides too easily, and even the proof she offers of her new loyalty is suspect.

Yes, she betrayed and imprisoned Hexabaal the Foulspawn, but I've learned from Halas the Pure those two never liked each other and were already rivals.

Yes, she converted many of the Order of Blue Fire and Spellscarred wretches to the Ashmadai, but they were among the most desperate and weak-willed of the Order, so they lost nothing.

Yes, she delivered Helm's Hold to us, but now the Ashmadai are exposed and fighting Neverwinter's armies in the open instead of controlling events from the shadows.

I've even noticed she's placed her old ally, the Shepherd of the Damned, in a location conveniently far away from where she could spot any changes in Rohini.

If I'm right, she's covered her tracks well, but I may have found a clue. I've learned she once worked with the mad mage Rhazzad who blew up the old Tower of Solace. I'm going to the tower's ruins to look for evidence. I've left this letter in case I don't make it back. If Rohini has betrayed us, I'll make sure she doesn't live long enough to enjoy it.

-Favria

A Betrayal in Question, pt 2[edit | edit source]

Mordai,

It was as I feared. Rohini has tricked us all. I found the proof in the ruins of the Tower of Solace. She's still loyal to the Order of Blue Fire and it's masters in the Chasm. They noticed all we'd done to hinder their plans, and this is how they retaliated.

They gave us back Rohini, she dangled Helm's Hold in front of us, and we jumped at the bait. Now our presence has been exposed, and our forces are committed here at Helm's Hold fighting the Protector's army and all the adventurers he can buy. All it cost the Order of Blue Fire was some cultists.

I tried to take vengeance on Rohini for her treachery, but her twisted bodyguard Torlgarl stopped me and threw me in the Sanatorium.

I've found a hidden way out of here, but I'm leaving this letter behind. If there are any Ashmadai left in Helm's Hold who are not completely in Rohini's thrall, perhaps they'll be able to get this warning to you if I don't make it.

The Ashmadai have been hurt badly by this debacle, Mordai.

-Favria

Asmodeus[edit | edit source]

(Available to Devoted Clerics only)

Lord of Sin and ruler of the Nine Hells, Asmodeus's story is of godhood reclaimed. Once an ancient god, he was cast out and reduced to an arch-devil in return for binding other gods in a treacherous contract. For millennia, he sought a way to return to his former power.

When Azuth, a servant deity of Mystra, died in the Spellplague, his soul fell to the Nine Hells and was devoured by Asmodeus. Fed with divine power, Asmodeus reclaimed his lost godhood becoming the patron of Might and Oppression.

If a magician wishes to bargain with a devil, he must deal with a vassal of Asmodeus. It is in this way that all the Ashmadai are damned, bound by contract in an all-too-lopsided bargain for power.

Asmodeus: Lord of the Nine[edit | edit source]

A former arch-devil, Asmodeus attained god-hood after he killed and consumed the wounded Azuth, former god of mages, in the chaos following the death of Mystra. Asmodeus used this power to end the eternal Blood War between devils and demons and consolidate his already powerful rule over the Nine Hells.

Some scholars believe Asmodeus's return to power was no surprise. They point to ancient legends that speak of a fallen god who was stripped of his divine power and cast into the Nine Hells. These same legends tell of the terrible events that shall come to pass should the devil-god regain his power and return to Faerun.

Baator's Reckoning[edit | edit source]

(Available to Scourge Warlocks only)

When devils speak of Baator, they speak of the Nine Hells, for that is its name in the Infernal tongue. Though it is home to fiends, Baator is a realm of order, not chaos like the demons’ realm of the Abyss. There are nine layers to Baator, and each one is lorded over by a singular archdevil, save the Fourth, which is rule by both Belial and his daughter, Fierna.

These Lords of the Nine, as they are called, attained their positions through much political scheming, and intrigue. To this day, they continue to fight their way up the ladder using such methods.

Belial, in particular takes great care in his political battles. Fierna rosters a relationship with Glasya, daughter of Asmodeus who reigns as King of the Nine Hells. As such, Belial treads a thin line, as any obvious plays for power against Glasya would not only anger Asmodeus, but could push Fierna to rebel against him. It is no wonder that Belial’s skills as a manipulator are considered among the best.

Devils: Infernal Evil[edit | edit source]

Malevolent and corrupt beings from the Nine Hells, Devils come in numerous varieties and forms ranging from the clever imp to the dreadful Pit Fiend. While the different ranks of devils vary in method and purpose, all are united in their lust for power and for the souls of foolish mortals.

Devils are ruled by the Lords of the Nine, powerful arch-devils who each rule one of the Nine Hells. Most powerful of them all is Asmodeus, an arch-devil who elevated himself to godhood by consuming the god Azuth.

Due to ancient contracts, devils can often be found serving all manners of evil deities. Devils can also be summoned into the world by reckless mages or power-seeking cultists, but this rarely ends well for anyone but the fiend.

Halas the Pure[edit | edit source]

Once a wealthy landowner in Neverwinter, Halas came to Helm's Hold on his own seeking treatment for a Spellscar. After suffering during an anti-Spellplague riot, he formed a gang called the Heirs of Azure to protect his fellow Spellscarred. Rohini noticed his actions, and quickly discerned the self-loathing wich motivated him. She easily seduced Halas and brought him fully into the Order of Blue Fire as her pawn.

When Rohini's true nature was revealed, Halas first fought against her. However, Rohini was able to manipulate Halas once more by offering to heal his Spellscars in exchange for his soul. Now calling himself Halas the Pure, he brought news of his bargain to those who still suffered from the Spellplague, swelling the ranks of the Ashmadai with his "purified" converts.

Helm's Cathedral[edit | edit source]

Considered an architectural triumph, the Cathedral of Helm's Hold stood at the center of the city as a beacon of faith and a bastion of safety along the oft-dangerous roads of the Sword Coast. After Helm's death it was largely abandoned, save for a few aging priests who remained faithful to their late god.

Through its long years of near-abandonment, the Cathedral's sturdy construction has protected it from harm. Even as other parts of the city and of the Sword Coast itself suffered from the Spellplague and the Cataclysm, the Cathedral of Helm remained undamaged. But now it has been profaned by the Ashmadai, and those who've gotten close say that cracks and chips have begun to appear in the once unblemished stone.

Helm's Hold[edit | edit source]

Located less than a day's ride from the city of Neverwinter, the fortress-monastery of Helm's Hold was founded in 1340 DR to serve as a bastion of safety for travelers along the high road. After the death of the city's patron god Helm, however, the city fell into decline and was nearly abandoned.

Helm's Hold recently returned to prominence with the reconstruction of Neverwinter. At Lord Neverember's order the walls were repaired and it was garrisoned to protect trade along the high road. It later became the home to a sanatorium dedicated to the care and treatment for the Spellscarred, under a mysterious holy woman called "The Prophet".

Just as Helm's Hold was starting to rebuild, the Prophet was revealed to be a devil in disguise. Together with an army of cultists, she has conquered the city, and seeks to turn it into an outpost of evil.

Infernal Affairs[edit | edit source]

(Available to Scourge Warlocks only)

Arcane devotees known as Warlocks gain their power not from the arcane energy of their surroundings, but from making pacts with otherworldly entities.

Often times, fledgling Warlocks will reach out to powerful devils, or the other way around. These pacts are known as Infernal Pacts, and some say they allow a Warlock to wield the most powerful forms of arcane energy. However, these pacts often come at a price, as devils are known to be shrewd bargainers. While some lesser devils may ask for special favors to help them vie for power in their home realms in the Nine Hells, the more powerful fiends will often require a steeper price. This could come in the form of the Warlock pledging their soul to the devil, redeemable upon death.

However, contrary to what most people believe, forming a pact with a fiend is not always an evil act, nor do fiends only seek out pacts with evil Warlocks. For instance, it is not uncommon for an archdevil, such as Belial, to seek out and forge a pact with a heroic Warlock in an effort to eradicate the stigma associated with Infernal Pacts. Smart devils know that the more Warlocks feel comfortable making such pacts, the more it will benefit them in the end when it comes time to collect.

Infernal Power[edit | edit source]

(Available to Control Wizards only)

Demons and devils use magical power in a way that is ultimately very similar to wizardry. The key differences are to be found where each discipline draws power. With wizardry, ambient magical energy is directed and manipulated by a spell to create the desired effect. Fiendish magic instead projects power from the relevant plane through the practitioner, shaped by a spell as it flows into the area.

Some scholars theorize that this is because the ambient magic of planes like the Nine Hells is wholly subject to the will of the entities that rule there. This allows them to direct and even project the magic of their plane elsewhere, in a way both like and unlike divine magic.

Lords of the Nine[edit | edit source]

(Available to Scourge Warlocks only)

Belial resides in the fourth plane of the Nine Hells, giving him the titles “Lord of the Fourth,” and “Lord of Phlegethos.” He is eager to forge deals with other devils, or those mortals foolish enough to seek meeting with him, for he relies heavily on his wits rather than shows of force. Belial is an expert at getting others to do his bidding or wheedling crafty deals, often without the other party realizing what they’ve agreed upon.

As devils go, Belial is remarkably civil. Most would say that he is quite handsome? and even charming at times. But be forewarned, he is no less dangerous than any other devil. His glib demeanor belies an air of hidden threat.

Operations in Helm's Hold[edit | edit source]

(Available to Fighters only)

When word reached Neverwinter of the Ashmadai insurrection in Helm's Hold, the neverwinter Guard immediately moved into action. Helm's Hold has a militia of its own, but they clearly could not contain the influx of devils and cultists in their city.

The Guard's orders in Helm's Hold are to reinforce the militia, identify and exterminate leaders among the Ashmadai, and - above all - contain the fiends by any means necessary.

Pact Blades[edit | edit source]

(Available to Tieflings only)

Practitioners of arcane magic who wield infernal power often cast their spells using wickedly sharp daggers that have been bound in some way to their diabolic patron as implements. These daggers are called pact blades, and are touched and empowered by the essence of the one with whom the warlock has made the pact.

Realms of the Nine Hells[edit | edit source]

(Available to Scourge Warlocks only)

While all layers of the Nine Hells are inhospitable by Faerûn standards, Phlegethos stands out as one of the more memorable imagine a land rife with volcanos and lava, choking black ash, and huge billowing gouts of flame as far as the eye can see. There is not a drop of water to be seen - instead, incredible lakes of liquid fire take their place. This is the realm of Belial, Lord of the Fourth.

One cannot speak of Phlegethos without mentioning the fortress city of Abriymoch, constructed in the husk of a dead volcano of the darkest. Rivers of lava flow from its outer walls, further emphasizing its imposing silhouette over hellish landscape.

Phlegethos is home to countless lesser fiends, such as the barbed devils and spined devils. Imposing Pit Fiends find employ under the rule of Belial, acting as lieutenants and guards. They in turn command erinyes to serve as messengers and spies. A good number of these devils are under the command of Belial’s many vassals.

Rohini's History, pt 1[edit | edit source]

Rohini: Origin & Spellscarringe

The devil called Rohini is a succubus, originally summoned to Faerun by the Ashmadai to infiltrate the Order of Blue Fire and discover the secrets of its masters.

Posing as an acolyte, Rohini seduced and betrayed her way into power within the cult. In order to advance and get closer to the truth, she had to be exposed to the Spellplague.

Rohini emerged changed by the plague-fire. Even though her infernal origin was revealed, she was accepted into the cult's inner circle and granted audience with the beings at the bottom of the Chasm.

Rohini's History, pt 2[edit | edit source]

Rohini the Prophet

Once she'd gained the trust of the Order of Blue Fire, Rohini was given an important mission to convert more Spellscarred into plaguechanged. To do this, she adopted a new disguise as "The Prophet", a holy woman who claimed to have visions that foretold the future and a mission to heal the Spellscareed.

After gaining some fame, Rohini settled in Helm's Hold. There, she opened a Sanatorium she claimed was dedicated to helping the spellscarred and finding a cure for the spell plague. In truth, this was only a cover. Deep beneath the cathedral, she was twisting and torturing the afflicted, making their condition worse and transforming the survivors into plaguechanged monsters.

Rohini's History, pt 3[edit | edit source]

Rohini Revealed

Through judicious use of her wits, wiles, and power, Rohini kept everyone fooled about the true nature of the Sanatorium. In the end, her schemes were revealed accidentally, when a group of adventurers came upon the hidden tunnel into the Sanatorium's depths. Fleeing with their lives, they told Captain Dunfield of the horrors they'd discovered beneath the cathedral.

When Captain Dunfield confronted the Prophet, he was not prepared. She revealed her true form, and they barely escaped with their lives. Dunfield ordered the garrison into the streets and fought the cultists and plague-changed that emerged from the cathedral, but Rohini's Ashmadai allies revealed themselves, and the surviving members of the garrison were forced to retreat from Helm's Hold.

Rohini's History, pt 4[edit | edit source]

Return to the Fold

Now firmly in control of Helm's Hold, Rohini purged the city of any member of the Order of Blue Fire who would not swear to her and the Ashmadai. Many were so deeply in her thrall that they changed sides easily.

As a "reward", she used infernal rituals to cure their spellscars in exchange for their souls, swelling the ranks of the Ashmadai and allowing them to summon an army of devils. When Captain Dunfield led a force to re-take the city, they were overwhelmed by the fiends and nearly slaughtered.

It is still uncertain where Rohini's loyalties truly lie, but for now the Ashmadai are firmly aligned behind her, and Helm's Hold is in her thrall. If she's not stopped, she will soon be able to choke of the land routes into Neverwinter, and hold it by the throat.

Scar Alley[edit | edit source]

During the Spellplague, the ground upon wich Helm's Hold is built softened, causing a collapse in the city's old sewer systems. While the site of the collapse was officially abandoned, as more refugees and spellscarred entered the city, it was slowly re-populated by the most poor and sickly who could find no shelter elsewhere. Riven by violence and poverty, the area was nick-named "Scar Alley".

The Ashmadai have spent relatively little of their time securing control over Scar Alley, preferring instead to secure the richer and more defensible core of Helm's Hold. Instead they have been slowly depopulating scar alley, kidnapping the weak and defenseless to use as human sacrifices for more summoning rituals.

Song Paths[edit | edit source]

(Available to Elves only)

In the ancient elven kingdom of Illefarn, artisans once fashioned magical portal networks that spanned the realm. These portals were activated by pieces of songs or poetry. A traveler would recite while walking a ballad that would literally transport them to groves, vistas, and landmarks of incredible beauty. Eventually, the traveler would return to the place they started just as they finish the song.

As Illefarn’s borders contracted, the elven rulers ordered the song paths destroyed to ensure these works of beauty could never be turned to warlike purpose. It is said that some of those changed with this destruction could not bring themselves to take from the world such wonders, and instead disguised the portals as best they could, hoping they would lay undiscovered until elves ruled the land once more.

Now these powerful portals lay dormant in the wild places of the world, secretly waiting for a song to call them to life once more.

The Ashmadai[edit | edit source]

The Ashmadai began as a secret society of Asmodeus worshippers in the employ of the Red Wizards of Thay. Following the events of the Cataclysm, they diverged from the Thayans and began to build their own power-base. When Lord Neverember began the reconstruction of Neverwinter, they infiltrated the city and the surrounding region, seeking to corrupt it from within. The Ashmadai use foul and bloody rituals to summon devils to do their bidding. To feed their dark rites, the Ashmadai have been known to kidnap victims from all across the Sword Coast.

Recent events in Helm's Hold have forced the Ashmadai into the open, and created a split among them. One sect is glad to escape the shadows, and now back Rohini in her attempt to transform Helm's Hold into a fortress dedicated to Asmodeus. The other sect remains hidden within Neverwinter, and work on their schemes to gain power and influence from the shadows. The attention drawn to the Ashmadai by the events in Helm's Hold have hampered these plans, but Asmodeus accepts no excuses, and so they press on.

The Blasted Battlefield[edit | edit source]

When Captain Dunfield and his soldiers were forced from Helm's Hold by the Ashmadai, they rallied at the Last Bastion, and prepared for the next battle. They spent a few days building siege engines, and marched on the City, certain that a rabble of cultists could not stand against them, even with a few devils at their command.

Tragically, they were soon proven wrong. The Ashamadai had also been preparing, and called down a horde of devils on the army. Shields broke, siege towers burned, and the few survivors were forced to retreat, leaving only a blasted battlefield behind them covered in their dead.

The Crypt of Vigilance[edit | edit source]

The Crypt of Vigilance was built as a final resting place for the Paladins of Helm who had fallen in battle protecting the innocent. It was constructed in the Watcher's Forest due to concerns about the large funeral complex weakening the ground beneath Helm's Hold itself, and placed underground so as not to disturb the peace of the forest above.

Hundreds of paladins were interred in the Crypt, and eventually smaller crypts were built nearby with a plan to eventually link them all. However, after Helm's death the crypts were abandoned.

Now the Ashmadai have taken over the Crypt of the Vigilant Eye, and seek to desecrate it as a locus for their diabolic summoning rituals. The few remaining spirits of Helm's paladins can only watch on in helpless horror as the devil-worshipers corrupt their place of rest.

The Death of Helm[edit | edit source]

Helm's death in 1384 was the result of a fateful misunderstanding. At the time, Helm was conveying messages between the God Tyr and Goddess Tymora during their long courtship. Somehow, Tyr became convinced that Helm had stolen Tymora's heart, and accused him of betrayal.

The two god faced each other in a duel to settle the matter. However, Helm had been weakened by the many blows to his faith over the last century, and was slain by Tyr.

In the aftermath, many of Helm's followers pledged themselves to other gods such as Torm and Bahamut. Tyr, perhaps out of regret, abdicated his godhood. He was later slain battling a demonic incursion.

Several sages have noted that it was less than a year after Helm's death that the mad god Cyric slew Mystra, and the Spellplague struck. Some even believe Cyric may have had a hand in Helm's death.

The Lore of Helm[edit | edit source]

The Greater God Helm was a god of Guardians and Protection. Known as The Watcher and The Vigilant One, Helm was an eternal sentry against the forces of disorder and chaos. Among the oldest of Toril's gods, Helm was often worshipped by knights and paladins.

When the gods were forced to walk the world during the Time of Troubles, Helm was given the duty to guard the celestial stairway to the planes. This duty forced him to fight his fellow gods, and even slay the goddess Mystra when she tried to force her way past. Though Mystra was reborn, the contempt of the other gods weakened Helm greatly.

After the Time of Troubles, Helm's clergy became involved in the conquest of the Maztica across the Tractless Sea, and stories of their tactics hurt the worship of the Watcher even further. Helm's faith and powers were only starting to recover in 1384, the year of his death.

The Obsidian Palace of Abriymoch[edit | edit source]

(Available to Scourge Warlocks only)

Abriymoch, fashioned from the remains of a massive volcano, is the seat of power in Phlegethos. Unlike the other realms of the Nine Hells, the Fourth is ruled by two in tandem: Belial and his daughter, Fierna. Archduchess Fierna governs front and center, where as Belial prefers to rule from the shadows, keeping an ever-present tab on his daughter.

Glasya, of the Sixth, has pushed for Fierna to seek more than her fair share of the lordship. This concerns Belial, because it distracts him from other pressing matters in the Nine Hells. Despite this potential rift in their relationship, the bond between Belial and Fierna remains strong, for a moment of weakness could be perfect opening for another opportunistic archfiend to invade Phlegethos in the eternal struggle of power.

The Old Dirty Dwarf Inn[edit | edit source]

Though the region's hard years have closed many businesses, the Old Dirty Dwarf has stood the test of time. The best inn and tavern in Helm's Hold, the Old Dirty Dwarf is currently owned and operated by Juetta Bealcrest, a local brewmistress who does what she can to keep the Old Dirty Dwarf a safe place for travelers despite present circumstances.

As a point of pride, natives of Helm's Hold will always correct anyone who tries to use a shortened form of the Inn's name.

The Sanatorium[edit | edit source]

The Sanatorium of Helm's Hold promised comfort and healing to those afflicted by the Spellplague, but instead held a terrifying secret. Deep beneath the Cathedral, Rohini had turned her Sanatorium into a warren of pain and madness. Guided by secrets she'd seduced from the Order of Blue Fire, she twisted those afflicted by the spell plague to her will and made monsters of those who came seeking her help.

When Rohini betrayed the Order of Blue Fire to the Ashmadai, she took the desecration of the Sanatorium to new lows. Now the once hallowed halls are filled with the screams of the sacrificial victims the Ashmadai need for their summoning spells. And in the lowest levels, and who had the will to resist Rohini are left to die at the claws of the remaining foulspawn.

The Shepherd of the Damned[edit | edit source]

When Rohini's diabolic nature was revealed, she acted swiftly to secure her position. She saw that she'd need explendable foot soldiers, and so summoned one of her old diabolic allies: The Shepherd of the Damned.

The Shepherd specializes in taking the lowest of the low and turning them into zealous fanatics. Under her cruel influence prisoners, patients, and even members of the Order of Blue Fire were quickly converted to the Ashmadai cult. Those who resisted were sacrificed by their former comrades in order to summon more fiends to swell the ranks.

The Shepherd never tires of her work, and still sends out cultists to capture more of the weak and desperate either to convert, or to fuel the next round of summonings.

The Underscar[edit | edit source]

Beneath Scar Alley lies the ruins of an ambitious project to extend the sewers of Helm's Hold. The project stalled several times, and was finally abandoned after the Spellplague and the Cataclysm weakened the ground and Scar Alley collapsed. In time, the sickest, and most wretched in Helm's Hold discovered the old tunnels, and made a shanty-town for themselves away from the surface.

Rumors persist that deep in the underscar there are passages into the sanatorium beneath the cathedral, or even into more ancient ruins. None can be found who have actually seen these hidden passages, but every month a few desperate or foolish bravos disappear, searching for the truth.

The Watcher's Forest[edit | edit source]

The Watcher's Forest was considered a sacred place to helm priesthood. Apocryphal tales dating from the Time of Troubles claim that Helm himself once spent a day and a night there, contemplating his actions guarding the Celestial Stairway from his fellow gods.

While the truth of these tales is dubious at best, the Watcher's forest was still considered a place of quiet contemplation by the priests in Helm's Hold, and paladins in training would often be sent there to wander and meditate. Many of these same paladins would later be interred in the numerous crypts that lie beneath the Watcher's Forest after a heroic death in Helm's Service.

Torlgar the Warden[edit | edit source]

One of Rohini's first and most loyal victims, Torlgar was once a Spellscarred goliath who originally served to protect the healers in the Sanatorium from the more dangerous patients. In her disguise as the Prophet, Rohini easily instilled a fierce loyalty in Torlgar. She then abused the goliath's loyalty by testing spells and rituals on his sturdy frame to transform him further, eventually fully transforming him into a foulspawn Berzerker.

Through it all, Torlgar has remained loyal to Rohini, through his mind broke into madness long ago. Despite her betrayal of the Order of Blue Fire, he still serves her down in the Sanatorium, keeping the surviving Spellscarred and Plaguechanged in line. That Rohini has never bothered taking his soul may be his only reward, or it may be that she has simply forgotten and discarded him.