|Cardinal A. Thorn|
The last few weeks has been the most eventful of your life. So far. You were captured and branded. Imprisoned in chains. Freed by a mystery woman. Burnt down a prison in your wake. Now hiding in exile. Cardinal Thorn has been the benefactor of your escape, giving you the tools necessary to succeed. Now he has offered you the choice (fool if you believe it) to join him and get revenge on the lands of Talinguarde. Luckily for you this is exactly what you wish and have promptly agreed and signed the Pact of Thorns.
Tiadora leads you to a beautifully appointed office richly decorated with dark wood and sumptuous brocade tapestry. Sitting in a leather high-backed chair is a devilishly handsome fellow who smiles as you enter. “I have brought you here for a reason. As you know I am Cardinal Adrastus Thorn. I am the last high priest of Asmodeus left on the island of Talingarde. Once the Prince of Nessus was rightly revered alongside the other great powers. Now, the king of Talingarde has become a puppet to Mitran fanatics who wish to destroy any religion that does not bow to their insipid sun god. For their blasphemy, I will see the same people who imprisoned and condemned you suffer. I understand what you went through for I have faced it myself.” With that, he pulls down the sleeve of his robe and reveals his own runic ‘F’ brand. “I am going to burn Talingarde to the ground and from the ashes I will build a new nation that knows its rightful master. I cannot do this alone. I seek servants worthy of our Infernal Father’s majesty. I believe I have found them in you.”
He rises and his eyes flash with hellfire and divine purpose. “Join me! Serve me well in this holy endeavor and I will raise you up in the eyes of gods and men. I will make you princes of the new Talingarde. Today, swear fealty to me and to Asmodeus."
“Put aside forgiveness and I shall give you vengeance. Put aside mercy and be made powerful. Put aside peace and become my harbingers of war. What say you? Will you swear your allegiance or will you burn with the rest of the blind fools?”
His smile grew long and wicked as you each signed in your own blood. A binding contract, almost impossible to break without suffering great punishment. He lets you keep one copy of the contract. The other, he takes. “Well done. Now, we shall continue your training. It is not yet time to act against Talinguarde.”
For the next three months Cardinal Thorn and Tiadora train you, turning you into perfect weapons and forcing you to better work together as a team. Tiadora is revealed again and again as cruel sadist who revels in your failure and suffering, eager to punish and slow to reward. The slaves are present, soothing your wounds, taking care of menial tasks.
Cardinal Thorn may be a paranoid monster obsessed with revenge but he is also a genius and a teacher par excellence. His lessons are focused and never wasteful. He drills you not only individually but also as a team, forging you into a knot. You each gain a training trait and a teamwork feat which you can coordinate in choosing.
Asmodeus with you: Adrastus Thorn indoctrinates you into the deeper mysteries of worshipping the Prince of Hell.
Benefit: Whenever you channel energy, you gain a +1 trait bonus to the save DC of your channeled energy.
Master Deception: Adrastus Thorn teaches you the subtle arts of deception and how to sense when they are being used against you.
Benefit: You gain a +1 trait bonus to Bluff and Sense Motive.
Discover Illusion: Adrastus has taught you to see through deceptions and to never lie to yourself.
Benefit: You gain a +2 trait bonus on saving throws against illusions.
Fear only our lord: Adrastus Thorn has shown you fear and taught you to master it within yourself.
Benefit: You gain a +2 trait bonus on saving throws against fear effects.
Focus your will: Adrastus Thorn drills you on ways to avoid magic that seek to take control of your mind and divert you from your mission.
Benefit: You gain a +2 trait bonus on saving throws against charm and compulsion effects.
Perfect spell: Adrastus Thorn drills you again and again in the use of one particular spell.
Benefit: Pick one spell. This spell’s effects manifest at +1 caster level.
Quiet as death: The Cardinal trained in the arts of being silent and stealthy.
Benefit: You gain a +2 trait bonus to Stealth checks.
Strike first: Cardinal Thorn has taught you never to shirk or hesitate in a combat.
Benefit: You gain a +2 trait bonus on Initiative checks.
Second skin: You have drilled extensively in wearing armor in combat.
Benefit: When you wear armor of any sort, reduce that suit’s armor check penalty by 1 to a minimum check penalty of 0.
Angel slayer: Adrastus thorn spends exhausting amounts of time teaching you about good celestials, their strengths and weaknesses.
Benefit: You gain a +2 trait bonus on Knowledge (planes) checks about good-aligned celestials and receive a +1 trait bonus to any damage roll you make against them.
Thorn is not always with you and it soon becomes apparent that you are not the only ones being trained. The former “White Ravens” under Elise Zadaria are also receiving the Cardinal’s attentions.