HELBOUND – History, Guide and Description. Part 1.
After Beleth had, presumably with some help from his followers, escaped from the dungeon under the Ivory Tower, he made his way to what is now known as "Hellbound Island". His problem was that this place was not empty. Although the whole island is permeated with an evil force - which is why Beleth was attracted to it in the first place - it had an autochthonous population with quite a high level of culture and civilisation. So he first of all killed Hannibal, a soothsayer and seer who was, via her third eye, able to communicate directly with the gods and enjoyed a very high respect among the natives. Bereft of their spiritual leadership, the local people soon fell for his promises of wealth and power.
Once he was firmly established on the island, Beleth summoned more of his followers to him. Suddenly the natives found themselves no longer masters of their own land. The Dwarf Tully, Beleth's long-time assistant and a genius when it came to engineering tasks, built for the "Devil" in the eastern half of the island the Steel Citadel,
a massive castle secured by outer fortifications and consisting of three mighty towers: the Base Tower, the Tower of Infinitum and the Tower of Naia, where Beleth himself resides. For his own needs and pleasure Tully built a huge workshop of eight floors. This workshop is at present guarded by Beleth's general Darion,
a deadly fighter clad in heavy armor and wielding a large sword as well as a heavy shield he likes to slam into those challenging him. A huge structure like the Steel Citadel, even if it is rather dimly lighted, requires an enormous amount of energy just for its regular day to day operation, and in addition to that there was the machinery in Tully's workshop. Therefore the Dwarf built in the western part of the island a receptor array, called Enchanted Megaliths by the natives,
that collected the evil energies permeating Hellbound and channeled them to the Steel Citadel for further use.
As anybody can imagine, the construction of such an impressive fortress required an enormous amount of materials. First of all, Tully's workers resp. enslaved natives opened up a huge quarry in the center of the island to get the rocks for the foundations of the Citadel. Although the necessary steel and other high-grade materials were provided by the evil forces from a different dimension Beleth had allied himself with, the construction project still needed a lot of wood: for the scaffolding, for the temporary workers' accomodations on the site and even for the workers' cooking fires. Hellbound, as the name suggests, had never been a nice place. It had always had an arid climate that supported only a sparse vegetation. In the time it took to complete the Steel Citadel, Tully's men literally felled every last tree on the island, turning it into the bleak desert it is now. This ecological disaster was compounded and made worse by the magical barrier Beleth erected to isolate his hiding place. This force field did not only block any normal access to the island - Hellbound can only be reached via two Warpgates in Heine and at the southern entrance of the Wastelands - it also stopped the rain-carrying clouds coming in from the sea. The desert climate led to a serious problem: what should all the natives Beleth had either charmed or subjugated eat now? The answer was obvious: fish. But Beleth did not trust even the charmed collaborators to go out on fishing boats - they might keep on sailing until they reached the mainland, leaking information about his new power base to the Ivory Tower wizards. Therefore he made his own "fishermen". In a basin south of the Steel Citadel he set up a factory, among the natives known as Anomic Foundry,
where he created, using techniques he had discovered in the Archaic Laboratory, a great number of monsters, slightly resembling sharks, but with two arms and two legs, so that they could serve in a double function as soldiers, slave supervisors etc., strengthening his hold on the island.
But the natives did not take this lying down. Soon a Resistance Movement formed, a coalition of the ancient, shamanistic inhabitants of the island and the so-called "newcomers" who had arrived from the mainland in a later wave of settlement, seeking new opportunities to acquire wealth and fame. In order to get a grip on the continuously deteriorating security situation, Beleth's general Darion has given out special tokens, both to the monsters under his command as well as to native collaborators, which identify them and permit them to travel freely throughout Hellbound. Those travel permits, known as "Darion's Badges", are of course much sought after by the Resistance Movement.
Adventurers wanting to gain the trust of the Resistance Movement must first of all procure for them a certain number of Darion's Badges, preferably by killing monsters that carry them. Some of those monsters can be found right in the harbour area, where anybody arriving at Hellbound Island via the Warpgates gets deposited: the Junior Watchmen, the Junior Summoners,
the Blind Huntsmen
and the Blind Watchmen.
A certain distance southwest of the harbour, at the Enchanted Megaliths, one finds Arcane Scouts,
Arcane Guardians (vampiric succubi)
and Arcane Watchmen.
With every monster one slays in the harbour area (they are all highly aggressive), the level of trust one enjoys with the Resistance Movement increases by one point, with every monster killed at the Enchanted Megaliths it increases by three points. A certain problem for would-be resistance fighters is that those monsters don't take seriously single adventurers. They often will only appear when groups of five or more enemies enter their area, although sometimes they just show up out of the empty air, attacking like mad anybody they see. Everybody be warned: those monsters, like all others on hellbound, are formidable foes! A Junior Summoner can kill an experienced combat-wizard with two shots at most, even if he has full support magic and is wearing the best equipment there is, while a Blind Watchman can drain that wizard's magical power in one cast. And a single Arcane Scout at the Enchanted Megaliths can wipe out a whole party of seven persons within a few minutes. Trying to sneak past those Scouts by using concealment magic will not work; they can see through the Dance of Shadows, or any other silent move skills like Stealth. None of the monsters on the island can be wrested down by a single fighter, and even a group should have a long experience of hunting together, with every move well practised and having become second nature to them.
When the members of the group have colllected 20 of Darion's Badges each and their trust level has reached 300,000 points (yes, three hundred thousand), they should make their way to the Hidden Oasis southeast of the Megaliths. There they can find the trader Falk, riding on his well-armed native servant, who will exchange Darion's Badges against a Basic Caravan Certificate. (The Caravan is a third faction that is not happy with Beleth's rule; by enslaving the population, the "Devil" has significantly reduced their customer base). Collecting 300,000 trust points does take some time. Adventurers in a hurry can shorten this by specifically killing Junior Watchmen and Junior Summoners, thus saving Subjugated Natives and Charmed Natives from Beleth's cruel oppression. For each of those supervisor monsters killed, one's level of trust increases 10 points. If one should, however, by mistake kill one of those native, which are aggressive as long as they are still in thrall to their overseers, the trust level will fall 10 points.
A further step necessary for anybody wanting to join the fight against Beleth is to acquire clothing as the indigenous people wear it. As with all tribal cultures, they have only one uniform set of "folk dress" consisting of a "helmet" (actually a head cloth), a tunic and trousers. All those pieces of clothing can be obtained from Tailor Buron at the harbour. He won't sell them for money, however, but wants ten of Darion's Badges for each. With putting on this folk dress, one acquires the skill to turn into a real native. Then everybody has to collect five more of Darion's Badges and move again to the Hidden Oasis. There they will find Bernarde, with whom they can exchange those Badges against Holy Water (Bernarde will only talk to persons wearing native dress). This Holy Water is necessary to anoint the Remnant Diabolists and Remnant Diviners haunting the Ancient Temple Remnants in the southeastern corner of the island, so that they can rest in peace.
This is easier said than done. Those ghosts, filled with bitterness about the injustice that has been done to them, are quite hard to kill. Even when they have lost all their blood they persistently refuse to die. This is the moment when the Holy Water must be applied. Only then the ghosts will leave this world. People venturing into the Temple Remnants should not worry: a small drop of Holy Water is absolutely sufficient to relieve the ghosts of their suffering; the bottle they have purchased from Bernarde will be practically inexhaustible. And an additional advantage is that with every Diabolist or Diviner one kills, the level of trust one enjoys with the Resistance Movement grows by five points.
Laying the ghosts in the Ancient Temple Remnants to rest is something one does out of compassion. If adventurers want to obtain a higher certificate of trust from the Caravan, helping the Resistance Movement to establish good relations with that faction, they should move on to the Sand Swept Dunes. There they can find Wandering Caravans who have betrayed their colleagues and have been expelled from the community. Apart from those rogue traders, there are also Sand Scorpions and Desert Scorpions living in the Dunes.
Adventurers would do the Caravan a big favour if they killed the traitors for them and made the desert safe by eliminating the Scorpions - while always keeping an eye on the Sandstorms, Desiccators and Sand Devils,
dusty whirlwinds controlled by skeletal warriors inside. For 30 Traitor's Necklaces and 60 Scorpion Poison Stingers, Caravan Merchant Hude, who is staying at the Caravan Encampment east of the Sand Swept Dunes will issue a Standard Caravan Certificate to adventurers who have collected 600,000 trust points.
Once somebody has obtained the Standard Caravan Certificate, they can buy from Hude the Caravaner's Remedy for 25,000 adena per bottle. A major problem in the desert is the extreme heat that is sapping everybody's life force and makes it only possible to hunt there during the night. The Caravaner's Remedy counteracts this effect. Once taken, it protects an adventurer for one hour from the heat of the sun. But everybody should keep in mind that the Caravan traders take their relationships very seriously. Even if somebody paid for the Remedy, this is still a personal gift to this one specific person. It can not be passed on to somebody else and it can also not be dropped on the ground, where anybody could pick it up.
The next stage on the path to an accepted resistance fighter would be the Battered Lands, which can be reached via a corridor from the harbour area. Be warned: at the end of that corridor there are about five Wounded Land Guards in a row, barring access. And behind them there is an invisible barrier that can only be crossed by adventurers who have gathered enough experience on the island. By using concealment magic you will be able to run up to the Guards and even past them, but that is a trap. If you are unable to cross the barrier and have to retreat, the Guards will take very much notice of you and promptly squash you flat. CONTINUES ON PART 2