The Six Trials of Cael

The Six Trials of Cael is the fictional account of the elf named Caelthalsur Tyrvalsa. This opera in seven acts was written by Oropher Mithrandír in the early days of Caeltyrs construction. Despite the spectacle and fame of this piece, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the play is that it is rarely performed to completion. The reality of these trials in their most lethal form—as the play’s stage directions detail—prove so intense that nearly every performance ends in the gruesome onstage death of the actors playing Caelthalsur and his companions, those who vow to join him in his darkest hour and face the trials alongside him. As such, performances of The Six Trials of Caelthalsur are rare, but typically provide macabre entertainment for the most decadent of audiences.

The Six Trials of Cael
Act 1: Condemnation

A high-backed obsidian bench stands upcenter. As the curtain rises,KERRETH, himself perches there, an awesome figure of power looming above the shackled forms of CAELTHALSUR, SHATHI, STIANOS. The other members of the COUNCIL OF DROW, including the sultry NILLA’FAN, flank out stage right and left of KERRETH’S tribunal bench. The hulking BAILIFF stands over them, spiked truncheon in his scabrous red, leather-like hands.
BAILIFF
Order in the Tribunal. The Court of His Honor, Captan Kerreth Tyrvalsa, Priest of our Lord Suffering, Magistrate, now holds session. All rise.

KERRETH
Be seated, members of the Court. Today this court seeks truth, or at least shadows thereof, from one Caelthalsur Tyrvalsa, honored veteran of the Draconic War, member of a once gloried house, of recent fallen in Lord Suffering’s regard. The accused stands on several counts of failed conspiracy, evidenced thereof by the industrious interrogations of the human’s own Seeker, Aldrich Grimhilt, administered with his usual diligence and severity. In these interviews Grimhilt gathered from notable sources, only a few of whom survived their conversations with the lash, that Caelthalsur of the Elfs held audience with undesirables—the topic of their whispered covenant the activities of none other than myself. A most serious affair. Service to Lord Suffering’s ever-growing glory is never without risk of menace or betrayal. My family and I have long suffered the bumbling attempts of assassins who would tear at our lord’s visage as casually as they befoul their mothers’ beds. What they lack in cunning they bolster with sheer desperation, evidenced by consorting with all manner of Pelor-suckling knaves, and aged wiz-worms who trust in mystic secrets over the Suffering One’s love.
You hereby stand accused, Caelthalsur, along with your illseeming compatriots, of conspiracy to undertake grievous harm to the institution of this tribunal, namely myself, Captan Kerreth Tyrvalsa. How answer thee these charges, Caelthalsur of House Tyrvalsa? Be thou maligned by a scandal-brewer’s wagging tongue, or dost thou cleave to my comings and goings as a bloat fly to a fresh cadaver? Speak! And know that lies are my closest friends. They’ll betray you before I. Speak the truth or do worse than die!

Stianos
Hold your tongue, boy, and we’ll escape the firebrand yet. Your father was the model of a devil’s squire. Summon his wiles now, and keep shut that Abyss you call mouth, before we all tumble down into its darkness. Had you been born deaf and dumb, this loyal servant would yet live to see another midnight.

SHATHI
Hurl his arrogance and accusations back at him, Caelthalsur. He wants precious golden-yoked truth? Give him more than he can choke down. For whether revealed by the brilliance of Doomhammer’s eye, or the long cold embrace cast by the Lord of Suffering’s gaze, a man false at heart and shrouded in hollow faiths is nothing more than a traitor to all. Let him that judges false be judged by wraiths—smote by his own brand shall he fall.

CAELTHALSUR
Caelthalsur knows no lies, great magistrate, and no slanderer’s tongue caresses my dignity. The accusations you speak are as true as Lord Suffering’s sword. They cleave clean through. Let the witnesses suffer no more lash. To burn their innards with pokers and steal their eyes is simply to waste precious toil better spent in our Lord’s service. There is but one point misaligned in this constellation—I seek not your death, though the secrets you harbor in your feeble heart deserve a gruesome demise.

I carry no assassin’s blade, nor breath-stealing spell to rob your mortality. To end you I need only know you, and to cast you in an honest shade. I pierce your “shadows of truth” and show you for what I know—a false knave, a demon-supping wag-tail, a balor’s bawd, a pus-leaking cataract in the eye of Lord Suffering’s justice, and subject to the multi-handed ministrations of a marilith whore, dretchloving plunderer, and traitor to our great Lord.

NILLA’FAN
(Aside) And to think I almost spent this session in the embrace of self. None of the delights could compare to the ecstasy this Light-breed’s words stroke within me! See his fierce aspect burn in fury, even below the tribunal’s culling justice. But how shall Kerreth answer?

KERRETH
Heavy words for a red tongue to manage, boy. You juggle them well enough, but like a poor fool, offer jest and jape. I assume this glib outrage, obviously a threadbare attempt to throw off the keening blade of justice, is backed by the testimony of a thousand law-loving fiends? Perhaps the ancient augurer at your side, ever your father’s faithful wiz-lizard, probed the ancient secrets of the cosmos and uncovered my blasphemous treachery? Or have you a soulbonded scroll of bone-white parchment upon which my scrawled hand appears next to some Darkspawned conspirator? You amuse me, light-breed, and it is the only reason your sniveling soul is not yet blasted away in hellfire and borne on a river of sorrow to some ignominious corner of the Hells. Whereof comes this lunacy? What disease vexes your broken mind? From what mystery of psychosis do you draw your lies?

SHATHI

You mewl lies like a sullied maid on her wedding night, O Great One. Even a lord may be smote in darkness as Lord Suffering’s sees the truth of you—a base and lowly thing, snivelling in crimson robes. These citizens about us are affront enough to the Doomhammer’s divine will, but ye, whose left hand clasps Tiamat’s claws, and right reaches out for Phiarlan’s boon—oh double-dealing fiend-lover, who allies with Tiamat. Suffering’s oaths and then blasphemy spew in one breath from your twisting lips.

KERRETH
Does your Thunder’s arse-kissing pall-a-dine put you up to such resounding blasphemy? Have you no tongue of your own, light-breed, to answer my charge?

CAELTHALSUR
Truth is spoken freely in many tongues, false magistrate, and by agents of light and dark. You know what you are.

KERRETH
You persist in this foolishness? It shall go hard for you and yours. Recant and your deaths shall be swift, your souls consigned to diligent service in bowels of the Arena. Refuse, and enlist in agony’s service, consign your soul to wallow in the most ignominious corner of the Pit, and take eternal suffering as your bedmate.

NILLA’FAN
(Aside) He’s to have a much more interesting bedmate, if I’ve anything to say. The fire that one shows at tribunal, will no doubt burn even stronger between my sheets.

Stianos
(Aside) That one grows hot betwixt her infernal thighs. Hope beyond hope. One voice of dissent on the council and the slenderest chance of salvation is ours to clutch. Let this waxen sliver of hope not melt until she does—let her find her tongue.

KERRETH
Speak, boy. Do you still baffle with false charges, or have your battered wits returned? Speak.

CAELTHALSUR

I recant nothing. You, accuser, so stand accused. How do you answer?

KERRETH
Innocent, of course. And so judgment is passed. My right as magistrate puts you to the flames on my command. My word is law.

Stianos
Respectfully, my lord, when I was a barrister, it was common practice to ask the Council in any judgement of a matter involving accusations personally in the case. Has the ancient code of Lord Suffering’s court, scorched on the walls itself by Phiarlan’s own bloody hand, so fallen as to warrant its complete disregard in this tribunal?

KERRETH
Of course, you are correct, old man. I’ve no intention of affronting our Great Lord. Council, what say ye on this matter? Do you concur with my judgment? These heinous slanders cast upon my great name warrant utter annihilation. So sayeth I, Magistrate of this Tribunal. Do you agree?

Councillors mutter and call “Aye.”

NILLA’FAN
Nay.

KERRETH
My ears deceive me. Do you, Nilla’fan, daughter of the Dark, speak against our cause?

NILLA’FAN
I speak against your judgment. Our cause is yet undetermined by my mark. According to our oldest codes, truth can be drawn from an offender, as pus from a wound. The Suffering’s Trials show the true heart from the false. Why, simply put the Light-breed to the flames. Let us try him properly in accordance with the old ways.

Stianos
Well done, lad. Your pretty elven face is good for something, even if your tongue offends all who hear. We may live yet.

KERRETH
Tut, the business of the tribunal heaps higher day by day. We’ve cases waiting in the wings by the thousands. Penitent souls singing out for justice. Shall we delay their flight to Lord Suffering’s waiting embrace to engage in infantile contests? Nay, expediency is our charge when matters so lacking in evidence are brought before our bench.

NILLA’FAN
Come, come, sweet Captan. The spectacle of a few trials would do my poor heart well. I wane at these tiresome sessions. Let the trials commence. ’Twould arouse me. ’Twould tickle me. ’Twould drive me to distraction.

KERRETH
Trials you say? How now? If it is to be so, let us sweeten the pot. A price I would exact for trials as you insist. If this light-breed fails, not only is my name cleared of all preposterous charges, but you shall compact to me for a full moon’s service, to do my bidding and satisfy all my unwholesome needs.

NILLA’FAN
Let it be so agreed. I hunger so for trials, I happily wager my body to your whim. We shall see if this light-breed’s words strike true or false.

KERRETH
So be it. Caelthalsur, you stand in trial. By my discretion you shall face six of Phiarlan’s
tests. You stand alone in the face of terrors over which no mortal has prevailed.

SHATHI
Not alone, my lord. I stand with him.

KERRETH
You are under no obligation to do so, puppet of Doomhammer. Back down and be discharged, to keep at your slobbering benedictions for a few more years at least.
SHATHI
I am true to my cause, the Lord of Three Thunders, my lord, but I am also true in loyalty and kinship. This man, though light his skin may look, is bound to me in brotherhood, as I stand bound to him. Our blades both matched the enemies of Caeltyr, and what faith divides, common cause unites. You cannot sunder me from his destiny. I stand trial at his side, as is my right, if I so beclaim it. Is it not so, Stianos?

Stianos
’Tis true, my lord. If the half-brained, revenge-blinded cleric wishes to perish alongside my good master, he is within his lawful right.

KERRETH
Very well. Burn with him, fool. Stianos, you are hereby discharged
.
Stianos
Nay sir, though I wish nothing more. This boy, as wayward as his fancies take him, is in my care. I never waivered from his father’s service, and I shall not turn my back on the son.

KERRETH
Surely, you’ve no wish to die?

Stianos
There are worse fates, magistrate, than even can be promised on the deepest level of your Hell. To walk alive in a world, my duty undone, my sworn oath broken, is to walk through fires more smolderous than any found in the Great Arena. Though he be a fool, and possessed of a diseased wit, Caelthalsur is my friend, and I shall stand by him. Do your worst magistrate. I’ve rolled bones with demons, and gazed in dragons’ hearts. Let us have these trials and be done with my life, if the Suffering Lord so command.

KERRETH
Then the halfwit! Begone from thy ill-fated lord’s service.

KERRETH
Doddering old sack of bones. Mute fool. No demon’s dice, nor dragon’s musings await you—only torment beyond the stars’ most infinite imaginings. When you mewl out for merciful death, I shall look on in pleasure, as your soul’s wake burns from a withered old corpse. Make ready, supplicants. The trials begin anon. May Lord Suffering’s take pity on your blighted souls.
Act 2: Trial by Torture

Enter ALDRICH.

KERRETH
Good Keeper of Justice, Tormentor of Liars and Human-loveing Miscreants, we are honoured by your presence. Show these supplicants the favor of your stinging lash, and with rack and fire, purge lies from their lips. Break their souls, and let the mad and guilty appall our ears no more with ranting.

ALDRICH
Capten Kerreth, I come before you a simple hand whose lash is guided by the greater glory of our Lord, may my scourge do him and this devoted tribunal proud. With your permission I shall begin our first trial.

KERRETH
Begin at your leisure, Grimhilt. End this fool’s mockery of our court with cleansing agony.

Enter the Device and other implements of torture. ALDRICH begins administering agonizing pain upon a stoic Caelthalsur and companions.

Stianos
Fools, my good friend may be a fool of a elf, but if you think to wrack his spine, and wheedle mewled recantation from his lips, you are even greater fools than he. Caelthalsur is no coward, and he sneers in the face of pain with true faith in his Lord—he cannot waver. He faced Tiamat’s spawn and hordes of their slime-ridden minions in battle. His bright soul did not quake then. He stands resolute now. You cannot break his spirit.

ALDRICH
Recant light-breed. Admit your twisted falsehoods, serpent-tongued traitor!

CAELTHALSUR

Even an ocean of agony cannot turn truth to lie.

More bone-crunching, skin-flensing torment.

ALDRICH
Recant and end this trial! Swift death shall embrace you and Phiarlan smiles upon those who admit their falsehoods—he may not rend your soul completely, may leave some semblance of your spirit intact.

CAELTHALSUR

I recant… nothing! Grind on, honeyed torment. Sing sweetly as I may, no cries of “recant” shall you hear. I hate lies, as I hate Tiamat-loving traitors.

More torture.

CAELTHALSUR

Had enough, Magistrate? Can you withstand it any longer? Please give in and recant, for the only torment I cannot bear is your continued duplicity. Recant, Magistrate! Recant your own lies, and Phiarlan may have mercy on your slimy soul.

SHATHI
Ha! Even in the face of soul-crushing pain, he taunts this ridiculous “Captan” of. Hear me, my Lord Doomhammer, if Phiarlan has such as Caelthalsur in his employ, all our efforts are doomed. Would that you could command such steadfast loyalty as this one here, who laughs at death and grins at the grimmest pain.

NILLA’FAN
(Aside) Such a sweet voice. I long to hear his screams more—ah, but to elicit them myself, with a soulburning kiss, and an aching embrace. This torture is most stimulating, though I do hope the Tormentor doesn’t mar the elf’s choicest parts. Leave off those! They belong to me alone!

ALDRICH
(Exhausted) Recant!

CAELTHALSUR

Never! Lash every inch of flesh from me, leave only a bloody ruin where I stand—that skinned wreck of a man will gurgle only truth and never recant.

ALDRICH ends torment and casts down his whip.

ALDRICH
He is as unbreakable as a marble tide—dragon’s scale would have shattered long ago—and yet he stands unbowed. No lie can evade this lawfull lash of mine, gifted to me by Phiarlan himself. Caelthalsur must speak the truth!

KERRETH
Fool! Continue the trial, you’ve yet to probe deep enough into his soul’s painful lies!

ALDRICH
My work is done. My findings true. You have never doubted my hand before. Why do you so now? Could it be this lef speaks true? Are you allied against our august master of suffering?

KERRETH
Mind your place, Tormentor! You speak blasphemy in the face of this land’s own Kerreth Tyrvalsa! Beware, your words endanger your very soul. Take you this Light-breed’s part? Then you would join him on his trials? Don’t be a fool.

ALDRICH
If Lord Suffering wishes it so then my soul stands with his. If my hand has failed you, then I shall burn for it. I shall face the remaining five trials at Caelthalsur’s side.

KERRETH
So be it, traitor. Your rending death, and his, shall be my vindication. Bring on the second trial!

Act 3: Trial by Pleasure

Enter the bailiff bearing four vials and four curved flensing knives. He hands one of each to Stianos, Shathi, Caelthalsur and ALDRICH.

KERRETH
It is said that a liar’s pain is easy to bear, but pleasure steals truth from even the most well-tended fortress. So let it be with ye, Caelthalsur. Here before you now are the Flukes of Lord Suffering. Their bite more pleasurable than the caresses of a thousand succubi. Taste of their deep burrowing bliss. Their rapturous journey through your body shall explore the deepest, darkest pleasures any mortal has ever known. Their soul-shuddering wanderings end in your skull, where they plant their young who consume you in an orgasmic frenzy—leaving you an empty husk of a thing—a spent lover, drooling in blissful oblivion forever. Unless, of course, you can resist these Power-bending pleasures. This time, the trial is not yours alone to bear. Let us see if your trusted companions’ faith remains as unshakeable as yours. Who shall be the first to die in spasms of ecstasy?

NILLA’FAN
Oh, how I long to face this judgment!

KERRETH
(Angered). Then so be it! Ye, who speaks for the half-breed, the lone traitor on the council who speaks against my august personage. You must brave this trial, and all that follow, alongside the accused.

NILLA’FAN
(Laughing) Gladly! I stand at this elf’s side, or at his back, or him at mine, or perhaps I should bolster him up from below or allow him to do the same to me. You shall see how devotedly I attend his pleasure, for he speaks the truth.

KERRETH
Then burn with him.

NILLA’FAN
But I see only five flukes, oh Magistrate. It seems that once again you will be leaving a lady unsatisfied.

KERRETH
Fear not, turncoat. Thou must face the black caress of suffering’s tendrils, which shall drive you to such exquisite ecstasy that your heart will burst from your chest!

Black tendrils erupt from the ground around NILLA’FAN and entwine her, leaving her gasping in rapture.

CAELTHALSUR

Nilla’fan!

KERRETH
If one such as you can feel concern for her, then make haste! Once each has baptized his blade with his own blood, then you may cut away her bonds. If you are able to resist the flukes!

ALDRICH
Master Caelthalsur, most holy saint of our Great Lord, please allow me to prove my devotion to your cause. To think my biting lash flayed your chaste red skin, and cracked such a noble hide as yours. I shall be first to face this trial, if you so wish it.
CAELTHALSUR
Your courage is beyond question. Show this lickspittle Captan the meaning of devotion, my friend.

ALDRICH administers the fluke, convulses in sheer orgasmic ecstasy, but as it crawls up his arm he suddenly plunges a flensing blade beneath the skin, skewering the fluke and removing it.

ALDRICH
(Gasping) Phiarlan bear witness to my devotion. This light-breed speaks only truth!

Likewise, Caelthalsur applies the fluke to his flesh, where it hungrily burrows beneath the surface. Caelthalsur shudders in pleasure.

NILLA’FAN
(Moaning) Oh, to be that fluke! To burrow into such sweet flesh!

CAELTHALSUR

I sing only of the joy of supplication to our lord. This pleasure is only a gift of Lord Suffering’s truth. I would gladly die at this fluke’s bite, but alas, my duty here is yet undone, and so I scorn this pleasure with a bleeding blade. I shall not relent until your lies are revealed, foul Captan.

Caelthalsur cuts out his fluke.
Stianos applies his fluke.

Stianos
Oh! It has been so long! Sweet, aching ecstasy!

Stianos then cuts away the fluke when it is nigh in his neck.

Stianos
(Sourly) Between you, my hideous Elf young master, and a dream of three succubi’s frolics on my flesh—a hard choice, Caelthalsur, but somehow your sweet countenance won out.

SHATHI
My turn, I suppose.

Shathi applies his fluke and begins giggling uncontrollably.

SHATHI

Ooooh! Aaaaah! I know not this feeling!

Stianos
Ha! Watch the virginal knight squirm!

SHATHI

It is as if a thousand feathers assault my flesh— especially my most… tender… parts. What strange pleasure is this!

CAELTHALSUR

Ah, servants of the Hammer, so like sweet children they be. Hold true, my dear friend!

Shathi suddenly tears loose his fluke.

SHATHI
I am well, though I may never be the same.
CAELTHALSUR
Now, to the Dark lady!

The companions plunge their blades into the tendrils holding Ilsandra, which vanish.

NILLA’FAN joins the companions, and embraces Caelthalsur with a fiery kiss. He surrenders to her pleasures.
NILLA’FAN
Know the gifts of Lord Suffering, dear child. You have earned great boons by your devoted service, and I shall pay them all with interest. But for now, our pleasures must wait.

KERRETH
Curse your persistence. All lies eventually reveal their ugly fangs. I shall draw them as venom from a wound.

Act 4: Trial in the Belly of the Beast

Stianos
Such horrors. What next?

CAELTHALSUR

Hold true, old man.

Stianos
Easy for you to say! Youth laughs at death as a stranger. As you grow older you come to know it well—and fear it.

ALDRICH
I have seen young and old break before this court. They all share one thing: a weak and watery eye speaking to a frailty of spirit. Your eyes are like grit and sand, obstinate even in the face of the storm-fraught sea. You cannot break, old monk.

Stianos
Perhaps not, but tell me, Tormentor—what fresh horrors await?

ALDRICH
Here follows the Trial in the Belly of the Beast. A great terror, gifted to this court by an Old Power, the Beast is a hideous thing, whose stomach is a nest of acid-spewing serpents. It shall swallow us whole, and wash us clean in its acid well.

Stianos
Where is the “trial” in this!?
ALDRICH
If we are innocent, and speak no lies, then the Beast’s Belly will leave us unscathed.
SHATHI
Madness!
CAELTHALSUR
Hold fast, my dear friend. Have faith in Phiarlan.
SHATHI
But I do not!
CAELTHALSUR
Well then you better learn to swim.

Enter the Beast.

CAELTHALSUR

Come, horror, I shall tear my way from your gizzard with the white-hot blade of my truth.

ALDRICH
Die though I might, melted to a puddle of liquid flesh in the bowels of the Beast, I cannot think of any greater man to join in death. I am honoured to die at the side of a man so filled with truth.

NILLA’FAN
If my flesh must liquefy, then know that I am glad it will mingle with yours, dearest Caelthalsur.

Stianos
Come and have a bite, Old Beastie. These old bones shall stick in your craw and choke the life from you.

SHATHI

My holy flesh shall burn it all the way down. Dommhammer’s blessings upon my soul ensure a most unpleasant meal for this Beast.

The Beast devours them. They fight their way free from his gizzard.

Act 5: The Birthing Trial

KERRETH
You have crawled from the maw of the Beast. Let us see what blasphemous lies slither from your treacherous insides. Show them.

The Bailiff brings out six crimson eggs.

ALDRICH
Dear Entropy! Spare us!
CAELTHALSUR
What means these strange crimson eggs?
ALDRICH
Oh horror beyond nightmare! The eggs, they burrow deep within us. They hatch deep in our insides, churning our guts to paste and slurping them through gritted devil teeth. They feed on our souls. When these foul devils have eaten their fill, they tear their way free—terrible things! Hideous devil-children bearing our own faces, but filled with hate for all we are. We are mothers to twisted things and look upon our own visage as we die by their taloned hands.
KERRETH
Shall you recant now, or will you give birth to abominations of your very flesh?
NILLA’FAN
Do your worst, fool of a mortal. I am a princess to hell, and no child born of my black soul shall bear malice against me.

Caelthalsur lifts the Bailiff off the ground by the throat with one mighty hand.

CAELTHALSUR
Ha! Give me your egg, you lickspittle. If Phiarlan wishes it, I shall choke the life of my own devilish child with glee. I gulp this egg down before this court and our dark lord’s very eyes.
Stianos
Well, give me mine. Not much good it shall avail you. The real Stianos was killed ages ago at my own hands when I was born from his old soul. I am a child of this egg.
SHATHI
Truly?! I had no idea!
Stianos
(Rolls eyes) If only everyone was as naïve as ye, paladin.
SHATHI
I like eggs! Red, white, or otherwise. Hand me mine! I’ll eat it raw!

The companions eat their eggs and hideous devil children are born from them. They battle the devil children valiantly. Nilla’fan, amazed that her daughter attacks her, lashes out with ferocity.

NILLA’FAN
No! My child! Forgive me! You’ll pay for this, Kerreth—with your heart’s blood, and with every shred of your soul.

Act 6: Trial by Combat and Love

KERRETH
(Aside) How can this be? Four trials broken, and still they prevail. Lord Suffering smiles upon them. Does Phiarlan truly know of my compact with Tiamat? It cannot be, or I am utterly undone. True or nay, I must try the last. I shall plunge their faith in pitch and acrid stew, and see if they hold to the cause.

(To the companions) You sickly whelps profess undying devotion to one another. Another smoldering lie flung from your dark holes. You but conspire to confound this court and our Great Majesty. ’Tis ye who contract with dragon-spawn and seek my undoing, in service to some slimy mistress or master of the putrid Tiamat. Your vile benefactors have thus far warded off justice’s loyal hand, but let us see if you hold steadfast before the promise of oblivion.

Stianos
More? I cannot last. My old heart gives out. Go on without me, master. I served your father faithfully. Alas, I am found lacking in the face of his light-breed son. The challenges, ever dire, cleave my soul from me. May Phiarlan keep me.
CAELTHALSUR
No foolish talk, old monk. Haven’t you claimed immortality a thousand times to any bent ear? Old Stianos cannot die, ye said. I’ve eaten the heart of an ancient Red Wyrm, and warmed by his fire, my soul burns eternal. Get up, my dear friend, more father to me, than ever any father was. Your duties are not abated. Your task is yet undone.
SHATHI
Let him die. He’s suffered long enough, and we’ve suffered his blustery speeches even more keenly. Kick off, old bag, and be done with ye!
Stianos
Why you shiny beetle! You quivering pall-o-dine of a sniveling Dead Power! You plump kettle! I’ll bring the all-encompassing powers of a thousand worlds crashing down upon your head! The keening song of dead gods warble at my command. I’ll leave your mind a tatterdemalion of a sad rag. Die! Die, you say! Nay, not till I’ve seen the last oafish breath squeezed from your lungs by tongs of fire—you simpering Ham-or-a-din!
SHATHI
Looking more lively now, aren’t we?
CAELTHALSUR
Peace, old man. The pall-o-dine works a righteous healing upon your old bones—applying the only balm your withered heart desires—spitting ire and uncouth rage. Bile for balm, bile for balm—what a wolfish old man, a terror to kings and angels. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Stianos. He knows no equal.
Stianos
Enough, pup! I am much abused. Lay not your hands on me, pall-o-dine! I’ll rise without your Power’s urgings. I’ve work left indeed.
NILLA’FAN
Strange old monk, loyal and dear heart. He’ll join us in the marriage bed and one last night of bliss will be his for the taking!
CAELTHALSUR
A lovely sentiment, my princess of love, disturbing though it may be.
ALDRICH
Enough. It is time. I am not long of your company, but know that I would stand by you all through six hundred trials. Take hands with me, light-breed. My sins and yours are one. Our destinies intertwine, and I walk your path with you to the bitter burning end.
CAELTHALSUR
I’m honored.
KERRETH
How touching. These sentiments of yours are nothing but dreamy clouds, soon to be shred by Phiarlas’s blasting winds.
CAELTHALSUR
Face of hazy dream-like bliss, kiss like fire. I burn for you, princess. Cling to me, dig your talons into my chest and touch my heart with white-hot caress.
NILLA’FAN
I am yours for one thousand blissful years. Drink my sizzling blood from my wrist, or anywhere else you like— let us seal this sinful compact and consummate our love in the heat of battle.
SHATHI
Stianos, you old cur, dog curled by your master’s feet. I can’t call you friend, but a truer servant I’ve never known. Loyalty is the mark of greatness. Know that my sword is yours!

NILLA’FAN
Great Tormentor, Aldrich Grimhilt, let it be said a man who can bear the vicious ministrations he renders upon his foes is a great man indeed. Though I am pledged to this young light-breed, know your courage sends shudders through my loins.
ALDRICH
You do me sweet honor, great lady. I stand in awe of your passion, and these worthy nobles’ unshakable courage. Even this milksop of a pall-o-dine stands hard against the torments of the Arena—harder than the fiercest witch.

The companions fight off a legion of devils.

Act 7: Trial by His Own Dark Hand
KERRETH
The final trial is at hand. Your souls shall be quenched at long last.
CAELTHALSUR
This trial is yours, Capten. Lord Phiarlan is the only true judge here. Bow before him.
KERRETH
Insolent dog! Phiarlan shall scour your soul as sauce from a pan. Ash for bones, and waxen souls melted by the lord’s flame to puddle at his broken feet.
CAELTHALSUR
We shall see who is judged!

Phiarlan enters in a burst of blood colored flames and shrieking, crimson skinned inevitables and offers Caelthalsur a choice. His creatures hang silk scarves around all the companions’ necks—one of red, one of crimson. Each is handed a loincloth wraped in blood.

Phiarlan

Choose. A true heart shall beat strong for all eternity at my side, a false one rots to nothing.

Caelthalsur and his companions choose the crimson scarves and the red ones rot away.

KERRETH cries out in terror as Phiarlan turns on him.

Phiarlan
Treacherous Captan who lords false justice over true souls. Your soul shall burn for all eternity— an everlasting torment in the Arena awaits you.
Phiarlan drags KERRETH into the mouth of the Void.
Exeunt Omens.

The Six Trials of Cael

Argos Keven Keven