The Secret of the Circle
- Story Arc
- Visit Ouroborus to Flashback to this story
- Issue 6
- Magus Mu'Drakhan (Nerva Archipelago)
- Broken Spirit Trap
- 35 - 40
Recover the missing mystic and discover the reason for his abduction
All that I have learned points to a single, ominous fact. The hated mages of the Circle of Thorns have completed a great ritual, no doubt meant to bring harm down upon us all. I muct know the nature of their act before I can counter it, but if I act now it will alert them. Thus, I must work through an emissary, and I would chose you for this task.
Even now, the Circle of Thorns' foul wizards have struck against the descendants of Mu. Along with the normal people they often abduct, they have taken several of my mystics. We may have located one of them. He must be recovered, and their reason for this action discovered. I believe that these foul abductions are part of the outline of their larger plan, so thwarting a part may reveal the whole. I would task you to this rescue, as you have shown some ability to get things done.
I have used my arts to divine his general location, but can proceed n ofurther through the defense wards the Circle has erected. Free my fellow Mu Mystic, destroy the leader of this Circle Coven, and search for the reason they dared to strike.
I do not care about the lives of the other abductees. Ignore them, or not as is your whim.
Abandoned Office @ Nerva Archipelago (Circle of Thorns,Legacy Chain)
This place seems unusually decayed. Almost as if there was a supernatural force at work, driving it to dissolution.
Objective: You have defeated the leader of this Circle Coven.
As you put Raxinoxt the Abductor down, he spat a curse on you:
'I may fall, fool, but know this: In this moment I place a curse upon you! By the power of the unholy one we have brought forth, I bind your fate to our pact with her. When it is done and all of the Blood of the Mu are wiped away, so too shall you be devoured by her power! Dread Lilitu! I bind this one's fate to our victory!'
As the light faded from his eyes, you felt a strange sensation, as if an axe were balanced on a hair's edge above your head.
Objective: You found some papers on the Altar.
This long scroll is a family tree, with several names circled in the last generation. Beside each name is a small picture, and each seems to show one of the abducted people. The names are written in increasingly ancient languages as you follow the lineages back in time, finally ending with names written in the ancient language of the Mu.
Mission Complete: You have stopped the Circle's abductions.
You have done your task more than adequately, and for that reason alone I allow you in my presence carrying so terrible a curse upon you. I can see it even here, a festering fate that looms over your head. Most unfortunate for you.
But more important is this document you have uncovered. We had always thought the Circle's abductions random, mere fodder for their rituals of demonic control. This, however, reveals to me the outlines of a grander plan. The abductor's words were not just a curse upon you, but a threat to all of those who carry the blood of Mu. And what of this 'Last attempt' Mu'ursis heard of? I mst know more.
And yes, perhaps finding a solution to this will also end this curse upon you.
Incidentally, all of the captives we recovered had strong ties to the bloodline of the Mu. They have thus been given the choice to join our order or perish. Most have chosen to join.
Retrieve the book for Mu'Drakhan
I have begun researches both into this 'ilitu', and into the Circle's attempts to garner bodies with the Blood of Mu. that they would seek sacrifices from those with the Blood of Mu is very interesting, but I must know if this is a recent trend, or something older. Their geneology is very complete, but this is only a fragment. I must know more. I have learned that the vigilanties of Paragon City have recently come into possession of a book that can trace a bloodline instantly. This book is within the isles now, soon to be loaned to the Legacy Chain. Rather than waste this marvelous tome on them, I think I have need of it now. Retrieve it for me.
The book is no doubt being guarded by Longbow. Defeat the one leading that rabble and retrieve the book.
And if you need further incentive, then consider that the more I discover about the Circle's intentions and the 'Lilitu', the closer I am to undoing your curse.
This cleverly disguised Longbow base shouldn't be too much of a problem for you.
Objective: You found some orders on the base leader.
This letter is written on the letterhead of the Vindicators, the organisation formed by the younger members o fthe reknown Freedom Phalanx. It reads:
I have detected a trace of the Demoness Lilitu in the Rogue Isles once more. I was planning to seek her out, and this time find my answer. In order to do this, I will need some assistance. I hope I can count on you again for basing and co-ordination. I will bring with me a book for our allies within the Legacy Chain. The book is called the Blood Tome. With it, we should be able to see if the Circle is doing the same in the Isles as they have been attemptong in Paragon City. It may also give me a chance to force an answer from Lilitu, even if she will not speak to me.'
'This is bad, Naijar. If the Circle have truly brought her across, then we might be close to the end of the world. Or at least, the end of all humanity with a trace of Mu Blood.'
The letter is signed with a mystic sigil you recognise as that of the Vindicator Infernal.
Objective: You found something.
Mission Complete: You got the book and defeated the base leader.
This book will be a valuable recruiting tool. But more importantly, it will tell us how long the hated Circle of Thorns has perecuted the descendants of Mu. All this, and Infernal is here as well. A Vigilante, a curse, a demoness, and yes! The destruction of the world. This is truly a challenge. Even if you weren't cursed, I'd think a connoisseur of mayhem such as yourself would relish being part of this.
Though he would seek shelter from my mystic sight, I have still found the one called Infernal. His barriers and wards do not decieve me. The binder-of-demon's pure heart shines like a beacon, and in that light I can see his surroundings. He even now guides an expedition formed of Longbow Operatives into one of the lost chambers of Mu. The Circle are bent on stopping him, so whatever he searches for is of interest to them. This makes it of interest to me, and thus, I will make it of interest to you. Defeat Infernal, and learn what it is he seeks. Be warned that you will likely need an entire gang of others to assist you in this task. Infernal will not be easily defeated.
it is my belief that Infernal seeks information about this 'Lilitu'. If she is the Circle's new demonic ally, knowledge of her and her plans could go a long way towards thwarting the machinations of the Circle of Thorns, as well as removing the curse you bear. Infernal is unlikely to share information with one such as you, so you will likely have to pry what Infernal knows from him.
I would suggest you gather a gang of others to go with you. Infernal's powers are extraordinary, and his defeat will not be easy.
Mu'Drakhan's divinations have led you through twisting caverns to this ancient place.
Objective: You recovered some of the information Infernal had discovered.
This is a translation of some of the engravings upon the temples of the Mu. The full translation reads:
'I have seen such a thing! As they fell upon the last of us, the demon-thralls of the Circle of Thorns were held back by the Circle's own mages! For even after what we'd done to them, the Oranbegans felt mercy. Then a shrill cry arose. A demoness general called Lilitu rose from among the horde, and told the Circle mages to stand away. She said that the deal with the King of Demons was for the utter destruction of all the people of mu. Still, the Circle mages protected the children and the elderly of we who were their enemies. Now, their power alone holds back the horde until their great negotiator, the wizard Akarist, can arrive to bargain for our lives. And still Lilitu shrills for our deaths, and warns of the dire fate that will befall all of Oranbega unless the contract is upheld and the demons allowed to spill the last drop of the blood of Mu.'
Additionally, there are notes by the side written in the bold cursive letters of Infernal's handwriting:
'The text seems to confirm it, and it matches Akarist's accounts from what he knew. She was there at the fall of Mu, though she was working for the King of Demons then. Akarist himself says that he arrived too late to be part of the bargaining. Perhaps her freedom was part of the deal to let the Mu escape? And why would the Circle risk bringing her here once again? Unless perhaps it's to finish the contract somehow?'
This is an excerpt from a book titled 'A history of the Mu/Oranbegan War', handwritten in a spidery script by someone called 'Akarist'. This section reads:
'We had lived in peace and prosperity for many years, until the coming of Mu'Rhakemt's rebelion. It began small at first, with attacks on Reasoners and Philosophers, and then progressed into street riots and open conflicts. Soon, Mu'Rhakmet's followers held banners with his stern visage everywhere, demanding that the people of Oranbega return to the worship of the Gods we has so long forgotten. Oh, most still kept shrines to Ermeeth the teacher, or said a swift prayer to Tielekku before a scholary examination, but Mu'Rhakmet demanded we return to a total subservience to the Gods of the past. He gained followers among those who felt disaffacted by our enlightened civilization, and among those who were, sadly, disenfranchised by a lack of skill with magic. not until it was to late did we learn that there was another force behind them. That Mu'Rhakmet practiced as he preached, and was in truth the earthly intrument of she who had forced our ancestors across the sea: The Goddess Hequat. She who had turned upon her lover, the Divine teacher Ermeethl she who had rallied her followers and focred us form our lands; now she had found us again and sought to undermine our society. Soon our city was engaged in a civil war for control as those loyal to our principles fought Mu'Rhakmet's zealots in the streets of our city. Ultimately, Mu'Rhakmet's rebellion failed. Our histories say that Mu'Rhakmet and his followers fled across the sea. We assumed that they had returned to the old lands of their goddess, and this assumption would lead us to disaster. For what we did not know was that Hequat had provided a new land for her people. An island risen from the sea, and island that she would call Mu.'
A master of demon binding and summoning from another dimension, Infernal's boundless willpower allows him to control the many fiends he has forced into his service. As a member of the Vindicators, he often assists Numina of the Freedom Phalanx.
Mission Complete: You defeated Infernal and found some vital information.
These scraps of biased Oranbegan history are new, and will be exposed as lies on further research. However, the important information is about this 'Lilitu'. She is clearly an enemy of the descendants of Mu and an ally of the Circle. Even the Vigilanties of ParagoN City know of her and the threat she represents. The Cirlce's plans must be uncovered. I am in particular disturbed by Infernal's concern that this may be part of a Circle attempt to finish the slaughter their spiritual forbears began in that ancient war.
Rescue Mu Mystics from Circle
I have learned the location of two of our mystics held by the foul Circle of Thorns. I believe now that his capture was part of the Circle's plot. If these mystics seek to bind the demoness Lilitu to their power as their spiritual forbears did once before, proof that we have revived the greatness of mu would go a long way. Recover this brother of the blood of Mu, and see what he has learned.
You must find and bring both mystics back alive, or forfeit your full payment. They may have valuable information that could lead us to the heart of this Circle plot, and possibly Lilitu herself.
Objective: A strange crystal inside speaks to you.
As you hold this intricately charged crystal, a single point of light inside flares to life, and you hear a voice in your head:
'Hello? Are you there? I can barely sense anything! I am, or I guess, I was called Mu'Ken. I was an ally of Mu'Drakhan serving in Arachnos. The Circle's mystics caught me and what I thought were normal people. But they had a reason. They were deliberately searching for people with Mu ancestry. They brought us before a being, a demoness called 'Lilitu', and told her we were proof that the blood of the Mu still lived. She tasted our blood, and talked about a contract still being open. Then they seperated us. They put me before a crystal, and told me that this was going to hurt. It was like they had punched a drain in my soul, and were sucking out my insides with a machine. Then I was in here, and something else, one of the Oranbegans, was in my body. Walking around in it like a suit of clothes. There was another in here, then. A true spirit of the Mu, like honored Tarixus. She had been trapped in this crystal, as far as she could tell, since the fall of ancient Mu. She said that's what they were. The Circle aren't a modern cult. They're the ghosts of the ancient Oranbegans! They lived in their sunken city until the Rikti awakened them, and now they see threats all around.'
'I think the ancient one knew their plan, I think they'd forced her to advise them about setting it up. But they took her to another crystal before I could learn more. And I am trapped in here, while an Oranbegan spirit uses my body as a tool against us.'
Mission Failed: You weren't able to rescue both mystics, but you still learned enough.
What horror is this? One of my men dead, the other's soul trapped in a crystal? The cult of the Circle of Thorns, this secret society we have fought, is not a cult at all, but the continuation of the sworn enemies of our people? A spirit city of the dead beneath Paragon? Body thieving ghost wizards? And now the return of a Demoness and a plan to eradicate us all? I must find this ancient ancestor Mu'Ken spoke with. I shall bend all the powers of divination I can muster to this task!
And do not think I have forgotten you, Dread Tomax. Despite your failure, you still uncovered this abomination, I shall place great efforts towards ending this curse upon you. Once this task is complete, of course.
Recover Ancient Mu soul Crystal
I have found the soul of our ancient ancestor. She remains in the clutches of the Circle of Thorns, but I sense great peril. Even now interlopers from Longbow battle the Circle for the crystal that holds her soul. I charge you to recover her, and find out what she knows.
The greatest thing you must do is recover the soul of the ancestor, but we must not play our hand too blatently. Therefore, chaos must be created. Since there are already two sides battling each other, escalate the conflict into chaos by defeating both side's leaders. This will leave no clear indication to them who rescued the ancient one.
Oranbega @ Nerva Archipelago
The sounds of battle bring a chaotic life to these ancient sunken halls.
Objective: You defeated the Longbow expedition's leader.
Objective: The soul crystal inside speaks to you.
This intricately carved crystal contains a single feeble light. When your hand draws near it begins to shine brightly, and an ancient voice speaks to you:
'You that walk the world, wreathed in wickedness, you must bear witness to what i have seen with my eyeless sight. The dread Circle of Thorns seeks to complete their unholy destruction of the peoples of Mu. When they stayed the hands of the demon Horde in ancient times, it spared some few of our people, but the demons fell upon their bodies. Their spirits sloughed off their mortal forms, and they lived their quiet unlives in their ancient city, now sunken beneath the world. but now they know that should they destroy all of the Mu, the bargain will be reversed, and they shall have their old forms returned. This knowledge has fanned a long-forgotten desperation among them, and now they draw plans against those descended from our great line.'
'There is still time to stop them. For Lilitu, the demon queen who advises them on their plan, is weakened. She fought with her half-mortal son, and now rebuilds her fiendish energies. There may yet be time to strike.'
Objective: You defeated the leader of the Circle's defenses.
Mission Complete: You recovered the crystal and sewed chaos in your wake.
You bring more than an honored ancestor, Dread Tomax, you bring our first true chance to stop the dread plans of the Circle of Thorns. If Lilitu is weakened from her battle with Infernal, then now is the time to strike her. No doubt she is prepared for the magics of the Mu, but I doubt she is prepared for one such as yourself. I will see what aid I can draw from the armaments of Arachnos for you. Prepare a strike team. When you are ready, it will be time to bind a queen of Demons.
And on a topic of interest to you, I have learned more about the curse placed upon you. It's actually quite simple. It has fused your fate to that of the Mu. Should the Circle succeed, you will perish as we will, however, since our researches in the Blood Tome have revealed that there are approximately 1 billion people on Earth with a trace of Mu ancestry, and there is only one of you, you'll experience that fate a billion times over before you'll finally die. There is one potential method of salvation for you, however. Should you defeat the Demon Queen Lilitu is combat, the curse should be broken. It's direct, but perhaps, achievable.
Defeat and Capture Lilitu
Whatever fell bargains the Circle may have planned, they will end now. With the help of the trapped soul of the ancient one, I now know where Lilitu hides, recovering from wounds suffered in battle against Infernal. Now is the time to strike, I am tasking you with the defeat and capture of this 'Lilitu'. Her downfall will secure some measure of safety from the Circle of Thorns for both us of.
Be warned, however, that even weakened she will still be powerful. Bring as many of your cronies as possible.
And there will be other complications. Firstly, after Lilitu is bound within the spirit trap, it will increase the 'Spiritual Mass' of your group such that we will not be able to automatically extract you while you're still conscious. And her defeat and binding will be felt. Once that's done, I would expect agents of Longbow and even her son to arrive. I thus recommend a hasty exit.
This act will not only preserve those blessed with the blood of Mu from the dark designs of our eternal enemies, but should aid you as well. Lilitu's direct defeat should break the curse upon you, unchaining your fate from their bargain with the demoness. Sometimes magic can be simple.
I have used my considerable influence to procure an experimental tool for your use. It's a spirit trap, and should weaken Lilitu to some degree.
Remember that you will not be able to leave so easily once you have captured her. And, remember that a a capture team from Longbow will no doubt arrive soon after.
You've been assured that this exotic techno-magical device should be able to capture the Demoness Lilitu once you defeat her, imprisoning her for the mystics of Arachnos to study.
You almost didn't need to be told where to go. You can feel Lilitu's evil presence even out here.
Objective: Lilitu's spiritual essence is caught within the Spirit trap
The She-Devil rule some a plane of Hell before being called forth by the Circle of Thorns. The sorcerers struck a deal with her, and Lilitu has come to earth with her infernal hordes. It is said the price for her services is the death of 666 heroes - including her own son, Infernal.
Mission Complete: You defeated and captured Lilitu. Now escape!
Lilitu shall be carefully bound and fully researched. We will learn much from her about the true history of the Circle of Thorns. it still sickens me to know that those I had thought cult fanatics are just living shells for the spirits of the same cursed wizards we thought destroyed so long ago. Ancient ghosts who still draw their horrid plans against us. This would have been much more difficult had you not arrived. Now, though your curse is broken, though you are not bound by fate to me and my kind, I still give you thanks. Perhaps we shall work together again?
Souvenir: Broken Spirit Trap
Thought this Spirit Trap is burned out and useless, it once held the demon queen lilitu, who had been summoned to finish an ancient contract at the center of:
The Secret of the Circle
Magus Mu'Drakhan set a great task befor eyou, to rescue a Mu Mystic who had recently been captured by the Circle of Thorns, along with some other seemingly random people. Mu'Drakhan was concerned that this was somehow tied into a larger ritual that the Circle had just completed. You found the Mu Mystic, and discovered that mu'Drakhan was right. The Circle's victims all had some trace of Mu blood, and were probably chosen for that reason. unfortunately, a Circle mage spat a curse upon you, linking your fate to the fate of the Mu, and the success of a being called 'Lilitu'. mu'Drakhan seems to think that it was real, but was more interested in confirming what you'd found out.
Mu'Drakhan had heard about a strange book that could trace a person's family history with a single drop of blood. It was in the hands of Longbow, and was in the Isles to be loaned to the Legacy Chain. In the process of stealing the book, you discovered that it had been brought here by Infernal, who wanted it for his own investigation into lilitu and what the Circle was up to.
Mu'Drakhan was able to locate Infernal, and sent you to confront him, hoping you would be able to force some information from him about Lilitu and the Circle's plan. You entered an abandoned part of the Mu ruins and battled Infernal. You learned some strange facts about the Origins of Mu, including that the ancient war between the Oranbegans and the mu wasn't completely over. Apparently the Oranbegans had made a deal with the demons back then, a deal for the absolute destruction of the Mu. But they felt pity and stopped, and were punished for it, somehow. More importantly, he demoness Lilitu was one of the chief enforcers of this bargain. Mu'Drakhan was worried that the modern Circle of Thorns might plan to complete the bargain somehow.
Mu'Drakhan had learned the location of two more captured Mu Mystics, and sent you to retrieve them. One was alive when you found him, but the other was nothing more than a disembodied soul held captive in a crystal. Their horrible stories told a terrible secret about the Circle of Thorns. The Circle are not a cult that worships the ancient Oranbegans, but that they actually are the ancient wizards of Oranbega. An entire civilization of ghostly wizards, who could rmeove a soul from it's body and then possess the empty shell, wearing it like a suit of clothes. And bodies with strong Mu bloodlines allowed them to channel more mystic power. Mu'Drakhan was shocked to discover this horror, but assured you he would press on, and hopefully get your curse lifted in the process. An important clue came from the disembodied Mu mystic, who told you that he'd encountered the disembodied spirit of an ancient of the Mu, who might have more information.
You recovered the imprisoned soul of the ancient Mu Wizard, and learned that the Circle was planning to complete their ancient pact with the demons of the netherworld. They plan to destroy all the descendants of Mu, and regain their bodies. Fortunately, you also learned that Lilitu and Infernal had fought, leaving her weak. This would be the time to strike.
The battle against Lilitu is done, and she is now imprisoned within a Spirit Trap, to be studied by the Mystics of Mu. A fitting fate. According to Mu'Drakhan, her defeat should have also broken the curse on you. You're still not sure you believe in that, but at least is shows he fears your power enough to seek a way to coerce you into action. You just have to wonder if Mu'Drakhan will be able to contain Lilitu's power. Not that it's your problem anymore. In many ways, they probably deserve each other.