When Trevan finished eating, he decided to walk around a bit, to see the town. The sun was shining brightly and the snow was beginning to melt. It seamed to Trevan that a person would be able to buy anything here. He saw shops selling everything from weapons and armor, to magic items. He saw sellers of cloth that looked like it was made of gold and silver. There was fruit of sorts he had never seen. There were people selling jewelry and gems. There were money changers and traders in furs. There were spice dealers. He walked past windows where the smell of exotic foods spread into the street.
At the far side of town were the docks. There were several ships there and the whole area was busy with sailors and workers going here and there. There were ships being loaded with boxes of supplies and ships where trade items and passengers were getting off. He had to step over and around ropes, sails, boxes, barrels and crates. He passed the warehouse with the sign of Heironeous painted on its side. The warehouse doors were closed and bolted.
He walked past the city governor’s residence. It was a large building with landscaped grounds all around. Around the grounds was a six foot tall iron fence with guards posted at the gate.
He walked down the part of town where there were gambling halls and drinking establishments. There were drunks passed out and sleeping in the streets. There were prostitutes waving from the doorways. A man in rags asked him for money. Another asked Trevan to buy him a drink. There was a man in front of a gambling house trying to persuade passers-by to come in. “Five will get you ten,” he called out as Trevan passed by. “Everyone is a winner.”
Everywhere in town there were men and women dressed in many different ways. Most were bundled against the cold, but some were wearing the finest furs while others were in cotton and rags. Some were in black cloaks and pointed hats. Some were wearing banded or metal armor and carrying shields. Many were dressed as you would expect farmers or laborers to be dressed. Some were young. Some were old. Most were human, but there were several other races here as well. There were Dwarves and Halflings and Gnomes and Elves as well as Half-Elves and Half-Orcs.
As he walked down a street in the chapel district he saw oddly shaped and decorated buildings dedicated to several different gods. It was quiet on this street. Most of the buildings appeared empty. Many of the chapels had an attendant or two sweeping, reading or meditating near the doorway. As he walked on he came to one heavily fortified building where there were several people inside. As he walked up he saw the silver symbol of a hand holding a lightning bolt above the door. There were two priests in white and pale blue robes standing at the door. Each had smaller versions of the holy symbol hanging on chains around their necks. Chain mail armor and swords could be seen beneath their robes. “Welcome to the chapel of Heironeous,” they said as he approached.
Trevan was never religious and didn’t worship any god, but he was curious about the church that was funding the dragon hunt so he cautiously entered the chapel.
The large room was bright from the flames of a hundred candles burning in small holders along every wall. Between the candles were metal shields painted with the symbol of Heironeous. A large sword was hung beside each shield. These all appeared to be loosely mounted for quick removal. There were about twenty worshipers there. Most of them appeared to be soldiers or city guards. They were all sitting on benches facing the front. Many had their sword in their lap, or resting against the bench beside them. They appeared to be waiting for someone to step up to the podium on the dais. Trevan slipped onto the bench at the back of the room. The walls and floor were white marble. The ceiling seemed to be a polished pale blue marble. The podium was draped in white and pale blue. A priest that had been standing to one side walked up to the podium and all the quiet murmurings stopped. This priest was dressed in full plate armor with a white and blue tunic and a large silver hand holding a lightning bolt hanging around his neck. When all was quiet, the priest removed his helmet and spoke, “Welcome my friends to the chapel of Heironeous.” He looked around at those in attendance while he removed his gauntlets. Trevan felt out of place and he was sure that the priest was staring straight at him as he continued, “As I am sure all of you know, the church of Heironeous is conducting an expedition to rid the land of the evil that lives in the Black Mountains and goes by the name Abraxas.” Everyone cheered. The priest continued, “I am pleased to announce that preparations will be finished tomorrow and the expedition will leave the following morning.” The room erupted in cheers and applause.
The priest motioned for everyone to sit back down and be quiet. “My friends, I normally talk to you about Heironeous’s continuing battle against evil and his evil half-brother Hextor. Because of the upcoming battle against the great red dragon Abraxas, I thought that this would be a good time to review the fight of good versus evil that is represented in the tale of Heironeous and Tiamat.”
“For those who may not know,” at this point he looked directly at Trevan, “Heironeous the Invincible is a god of chivalry, justice, war, daring, and valor. In his corporal form, he appears as a human man. He wears a full robe of chainmail that is so fine it appears to be cloth and moves as he moves. He is tall for a human. His hair is auburn and his skin is the color of burnished copper. Heironeous is impervious to all but the mightiest weapons due to a solution known only as meersalm. He wields his magical longsword Justicebringer.” He pauses. He had given many sermons on each of these aspects of their God. Most of those in attendance knew them well.
Now addressing the entire congregation he continued, “Tiamat, the god of evil dragons, was larger than any dragon that ever lived. She had five heads, one for each color of evil dragon. She could produce, from each head, a blast of elemental energy. Her black head had deep set eyes and broad nasal openings, bone colored horns and the general appearance of a skull. This head continually drooled acid and from it she could produce a line of acid. She had dramatic frilled ears and a single, massive horn atop her short, blunt blue head. From it she could produce electricity to slay her foes. Her green head had no external ears. It was a narrow head with a long forked tongue. The odor of chlorine surrounded this head and with it she could blow a cone of acid. The head that was red had two massive horns that swept back and small horns on its cheeks and lower jaw. It smelled of sulfur. Flames and smoke came from its nostrils. She produced a cone of fire from this mouth. The white head was sleek with a pointed chin and small pointed beak at its nose. From this head she could lay down a cone of cold. Each of these heads functioned independently and was attached to her thick, multicolored body with a long neck. In addition to all of this and of course her great spell casting ability, she also had a long thick tail tipped with a poisonous stinger.”
“In the time before time – Tiamat lived on the Earth. She seeded the Earth with evil dragons and dark magic. To counter her spreading of evil, her brother – the good dragon god Bahamut – created the good metallic dragons. Heironeous fought Tiamat for many years, until finally, with the aid of Bahamut, she was defeated. The details of this final battle are lost to us, but I can envision the brave Heironeous, with Justicebringer in hand, standing over her slain body as Bahamut cast the final spell that forever banished her to the Nine Hells where she still reigns to this day.”
The priest then proceeded to tell how Heironeous must have felt as he defeated each head in tern. He spoke of how he was prepared to sacrifice himself if necessary. He compared his god’s battle against Tiamat with every man’s battle against the evil forces in this world and against the evil tendencies that exist in every man’s heart. He then went on to talk about the upcoming battle against the red dragon Abraxas. “For centuries uncounted he has watched us from the mountains. We live in fear of his next un-provoked attack. Our parents tell of a time when he was only known from tales passed down through the generations. Many came to believe that our dragon was nothing more than a legend. Some fifty years ago he began a series of attacks, cumulating in the burning of Rockport. After that he became quiet. Then, a few years ago, something caused him to become active again. Our greatest clerics, using powerful divination spells, have determined that his current activity was caused by a theft. Someone took a single item from his great hoard. We weren’t able to determine exactly what was taken, or who took it. All we know is that he has been searching for a gem of some type. Evidently this gem has some magical protection against detection. What other magical abilities it possesses can only be guessed at. The church sent emissaries to the far corners of the world searching for this gem. Needless to say, we never found it. If it had been found, we would have returned it to the dragon in exchange for his good will. Being unsuccessful in that, the church decided to fund an expedition to rid us from Abraxas for good.”
“The church is quiet fortunate that Heironeous has provided us with a paladin of the caliber of Sir Gleamheart to lead this great expedition,” he said. “We can rest easy with the knowledge that Sir Gleamheart, the greatest paladin in the land, will return to us victorious. He has given his life in just and honorable battle no less than three times! Each time a cleric of the church has guided his soul back from the underworld to reunite with his body so that he could continue his service to Heironeous. He, along with our own cleric Pitchlight, has spent the last several weeks assembling a group of adventurers and equipping them for the task. They will march under the banner of Heironeous into the Black Mountains. There they will locate Abraxas’s lair and kill him. They will then bring his treasure back for the glory of Heironeous.”
He continued for some time praising Heironeous and asking for him to watch over his servants as they entered glorious combat in his name. He finished with a reminder of the churches need for funds that will allow it to participate in activities such as the upcoming expedition as well as the churches support of the ever needy orphans and widows. He reminded everyone that the offering box was located near the door on their way out.
It was getting dark when Trevan left the chapel. He made sure the priests at the door could hear his coins fall into the offering box as he passed.
The lampposts on every corner provided dim illumination on the streets below. Lights were lit on the top of each of the towers. When he got to his room, his roommate was still not there. He climbed into bed, placed his dagger under his pillow and was soon asleep.