While inside, the group discussed what they’d learned. The concept of betrayal was woven into the very essence of Monadhan around them – to be the target of traitorous acts stung worse here than anywhere else in the Planes. Every attack they’d committed against each other out of error or compulsion by their opponents created a wound far more grievous than expected, while rewarding the betrayer with a mystical boon of stamina or accuracy. In addition, whenever one among them was struck with a particularly lethal blow (not necessarily originating from friendly fire), they unwillingly blurted out some detail of a betrayal they’d committed in the past.
Komè had repeated his earlier admission to Amyria: that he was once known as the Indigo Fox, deadly assassin and scourge of the Vale.
Jett had rationalized the death of Bugug, saying that if he hadn’t cut the line when he had, everyone would have been in danger.
Blank, cryptically, said only “Mommy, look what I can do!”
And in true form, Erdanen had hysterically admitted to placing Jett’s hand in a bowl of warm water long ago – Ziggy was innocent of the crime.
Ionen had steered clear of injury, and whatever betrayals buried in his past remained a mystery.
As they readied to sleep, Erdanen gathered his allies around him, expressing a wish to play them a song he’d learned. As the notes poured forth from his lilting songblade, he accompanied with sorrowful lyrics, expressing hopelessness at the lack of honesty found in the world, expressing a wish for a friend who held truthfulness above all else. The tone was sad but hopeful, and it comforted his fellows, knowing they were trapped in the darkness of the Shadowfell until their quest was completed.
Blank smiled, with the slightest hint of worry in her dull red eyes. She wore a smile as she said, “What a lovely song, Erdanen.”
He inclined his head in thanks, but there was no mirth or gratitude on his face. “I sang it with someone in mind,” he replied, launching into a cruel rhyme:
- “There once was a tiefling who lied;
- When asked of herself, she’d just hide
- Behind cute turns of phrase
- And flattering praise
- Till all trust we had for her died.
- But the bard, he saw through her illusion
- Though his fellows were spent to confusion.
- Orphaned as a lassy,
- She never wept like the genasi -
- The friendship we’d had was delusion.
- So the bard set a trap diabolical;
- Before her hidden scheme came full circle.
- With the music he’d sing,
- He’d prove himself social King,
- And yank her lying hairs out by the follicle.”
As he finished the last line, he stood, staring directly into Blank’s smug, unflinching expression. “Now tell me the truth: just what is it about you that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end? I can’t be sure if you’re lying or not about your past, but what you said earlier about your parents dying… you didn’t shed a tear! And that blurted confession you gave has something to do with it, doesn’t it?”
Feigning aggravation, she turned up her nose and claimed, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Blank had honed her skill with crafting falsehoods out of necessity during her life in the Citadel Mercane, but something about the half-elf’s words made her stumble and stammer over each new fib. Komè, a master of reading others, caught on immediately.
As the two of them pressed her, she began to get more and more nervous, until her personality changed abruptly, and she grinned evilly. She gleefully admitted to murdering her own mother and father after being treated worse than livestock her entire childhood – how she’d had her birth name taken away after they’d realize she’d never amount to anything, much less become the resurrector of Bael Turath, the long-lost tiefling empire. For her worthlessness, she was insulted by her mother and beaten by her father, until one day her consciousness fractured. A darker reflection of her own psyche was brought to the surface, quietly bearing the abuses that would have shattered the former, innocent Blank.
In time, the split began to awaken dormant psionic powers, the first of which allowed her dark side to manifest a physical body while she slept. When it grew strong enough, it compelled her father to beat her mother to death, only relenting once her corpse became unrecognizable. As her father wept over his beloved, she crushed his skull telekinetically.
Her hateful expression melted, giving way to soul-shattering tears. For years, she explained, her young mind remained ignorant of its twin. The sins it committed at night kept her alive, but at a terrible price to the people around her. It was years before she discovered the truth, and once she defeated her inner monster, she gained access to its unsettling memories. To escape her crimes, she made her way to the Astral Sea, and wound up in Scaramandar’s service.
While she was now the dominant personality, her other half occasionally got the better of her. She could even summon it in physical form, as she had during the battle with Trethix. She admitted that her other half had warned the woman of their intent, purposefully making it so that Komè’s diplomatic approach would be impossible. Now that she had the Hourglass that she had sought, she elected to continue with the Champions, hoping to gain the experience necessary to control her darkness.
Erdanen and Jett were unnerved, and Ionen was indifferent. Komè was supportive, however, noting that she’d been instrumental in their success both in Tu’narath and here in Monadhan. The group resolved to keep her around, but sleep with one eye open from that point on.