He thought he knew it all.
He thought he knew everything. He was the the one who stuck his fist into the gaping maw of that Abomination. He detonated his ring of Fireballs and blew that piece of Chaos back to the Pit from which it had crawled. He had made it possible for Ishanfad to be saved from the damnation to which Gessar has consigned him for his blasphemis denial of glorious combat versus the ravening hordes of orcs invading the Derth Woods. He had turned his back to Gessar's path and had chosen another way. This was a great sin in Lum's eyes. How could the great paladin, someone Lum had respected and looked up to, turn into such a craven coward! Could he have been somehow subverted or corrupted by alien thoughts of peace and compromise? Whatever the cause Ishanfad began the journey westward and Lum joined the Gessarite batallion that made its way from Monarch of the Mines towards the Derth Woods. His twice earning of the Red gave Lum command of a platoon of stout warriors. As they approached the center of the woods they were set upon by three legions of orcish infantry. The carnage came fast and furious. Lum acquitted himself well. As his companions fell all around him, he never wavered. Thrusting, parrying, advance, retreat. It seemed to Lum as hours, if not days had passed. In reality it was but a few minutes.
Soon enough the enemy was in full retreat. As Lum stood knee deep in the blood, guts and gore of his foes and the survivors of his batallion raised their weapons and called his name in glorious exultation, he deflected their praise. “All glory earned today belongs to Gessar” shouted Lum as he raised his trusty glaive over his head triumphantly. “It was His will that guided our weapons true and filled our enemy's hearts with fear!” he roared. “All hail Gessar's victory!”. Many more forces arrived to chase the orcish hordes back to their warrens. Aerolus light cavalry. Forces from Macab, Spirewall and even legions of hoplites from Mihn arrived and soon the threat to the Crescent Lands was over. For now…
Upon returning to Aerolus Lum was granted an audience with the head prelate of that city's Gessar temple. This worthy praised Lum's actions in the Woods and, once again, Lum gave all the credit to Gessar. The prelate told Lum that he must now embark on another important mission. He must track down Ishanfad on his journey out west and join him to determine his reasons for his forsaking such glorious combat. If it was determined that Ishanfad had acted out of cowardice, it would fall to Lum to kill him!
Once Lum had caught up with Ishanfad and the rest of the party, he soon discovered that Ishanfad was no coward. As glad as Lum was to have participated in the defense of the Derth Woods and the Crescent Lands, he was equally glad to have been able to make this trip too. Many great things, never before seen by denizens of the Crescent Lands, filled Lum's eyes and heart with both wonder and awe. From the simple tribesman called the Corman, who reminded Lum of his ogre kinsmen a little to the gentle, glass working elves called the Erianen, who dwelt beneath the Moon Barrows. From the strange Atlach Nacha, who dwelt in the steamy Fallen Lands, to the noble farmers and herdsman of “the Seethe”, Lum had made many discoveries that Crescent Lands peoples would find hard to believe. And all the while as they journeyed and met many strange opponents who offered good combat, Ishanfad never faltered or showed any signs of fear. He was always steadfast and resolute and many times saved Lum with blessed healing just as he was about to meet Gessar in person!
But there was something different about Ishanfad. He seemed more distant and secretive than Lum remembered. It was probably due to the way in which they had parted Lum told himself. It was only later that Lum learned about the eggs from the Abomination of Yondi. Ishanfad had fallen under the spell of some loathsome beast from Gessar-knows where. This is why when Ishanfad finally succumbed, he didn't go to Gessar but was instead transmogrified into an undead abomination himself. He had turned away from Gessar's teachings and paid the ultimate price. But Gessar the Great is forgiving as well as wise! He showed compassion for the wayward paladin by giving Lum the strength to dispatch the thing he had become. Ishanfad is now with Gessar, basking in His Eternal Glory!
But dark days were ahead for our hero. He had enjoyed his time with the gentle Erianen and when it was clear that they were afflicted with the Plague, Lum was crestfallen. Had he somehow brought this pestilence to them? If not him then surely one of his party, then. The guilt of it weighed heavily on Lum's soul. When Rook mentioned his vision of the blue flowers as a possible salvation for these good people, Lum seized it like a drowning man would a proffered life preserver. The people of “the Seethe” were more than happy to help Lum's party to gather all the flowers they could carry. Hopefully the cursed Plague would not visit them as well.
The overland journey back to the Erianen was as dangerous as it was necessary. The party could not risk being pulled back into what Lum referred to as “Gessar's Purgatory”. Ceaseless, pointless combat was useless to even the most hardened Gessarite. Combat, be it two foes fighting in an alley with their bare hands or two massive armies equipped with great weapons meeting on a vast plain, is meant as a holy sacrament to Gessarites. To fight in defense of a great cause, to slay a monstrous foe, to free an enslaved people, to achieve or redeem one's own personal honor…these were what Gessarites did to hail their God! That sick, twisted bastardazation of Gessar's love had shaken Lum to his very core. Though he tried not to show it to his comrades, Lum had known fear in that place.
As the party traveled over the Moon Barrows, Lum and the party were set upon by what the Erianen called “rock birds” and which turned out to be gargoyles. Twice the party was attacked and twice they fought off their heinous foes. Lum took no joy from their offered combat. Latent fear of that hellish battlefield and lingering guilt and the need to save the Erianen were foremost in his troubled mind. He fought with an almost perfunctory manner as he dispatched his worthy foes. He took no joy in beating his enemies. Finally the party came upon what appeared to be a strangely withered forest where the trees seemed to be made of secreted mineral substance. Ever wary the party suspected danger but the Erianen needed them, so Lum clutched at his satchel of flowers, braced himself, and began to run through the twisted grove.
He hadn't gone but a few meters when the trees erupted in slimy, acidic tentacles. One such tentacle wrapped Lum's leg and neatly flensed it to the bone whilst lifting him into the air. As he arced backward away from the forest, another tentacle made contact with his face, leaving a great swath of acid to disfigure him mightily. Others of the party were damaged as they withdrew to what was hoped was a safe distance, carrying Lum with them. Lum was as close to death as he had ever been before and his only thoughts were of how he had failed the Erianen. A mental scream tore though his being as thoughts of the past year raced across his mind. Of the Orcish Wars in the Derth Woods, of Ishanfad, of his journeys through the Western Lands and he bellowed in his mind: “Gessar! Why do you turn on me in my time of need”?
The thought had formed fully even before he could smothered it down and now Lum's spiritual desolation was now complete. He lay on his side and was racked with sobs of anguish and despair. In his haste to save the Erianen, Lum had spurned his God's offering of combat. He had betrayed his religion and Gessar had turned His back to him. After some medical ministrations from his comrades, Lum knew what must be done win back Gessar's love: Fight the Acid Trees and win! Win for Gessar! In his twisted madness Lum threw away his magical armour and his Ring of Protection. He rended his Red articles. His sickness spoke to him that he had for too long relied on trinkets and amulets in Combat, instead of trusting in His God's love and strength. As for his Red, they were from his past, a past now dead to him. He would be reborn in Gessar's glory and greatness!
Stripped to nothing but a modest loincloth and his great mace, Lum willed his battered body forward to advance of the foe. The bard T'Ba, trying to wrest Lum from the grip of his insanity, chided Lum to throw away his weapon as well, hoping that this would back him back to his senses. But Lum's fevered mind seized upon this. “The bard is right” screamed Lum's brain in it's tortured state. “Throw away that crutch and fight with the only weapons needed, the two strong arms and the warrior's heart given you by Gessar”! With that the useless weapon was discarded and Lum continued to advance. Horrified the party used magic to subdue their crazed companion and he turned on them for their treachery, but in his weakened state he could not win.
They bound him. As he lay beaten and mentally spent, sobbing bitter tears into the rocky ground, Ayrkin, that demon spawned sower of discord couldn't resist the urge to make a bad situation all the worse. He whispered his poisonous words into Lum's ear and summoning unknown reserves of energy, Lum somehow burst his bindings and was on Ayrkin in an instant, hoping to rip the lying tongue from his cursed mouth! But as Lum lunged and swung wildly at his foe, Ayrkin danced and capered away, all the while sporting a smug snear. His initial rage soon ebbed and Lum was again subdued by the party, but just then the sky to the west was clouded by another group of gargoyles winging their way towards the party.
Lum realized as some of the madness slipped from his senses that he must try to fight off these demons. For the sake of the party and for the love of Gessar. Soon the enemy was on them and two of the gargoyles set upon Lum. He raised his great mace and swung a mighty blow that missed the first gargoyle completely. That worthy sliced off Lum's leg with effortless ease as his comrade neatly punched a hole through Lum's unshielded abdomen, disemboweling him. As the life quickly left him, Lum's mind became serene. He saw a great being towering before him, covered completely in dazzling crimson armour. He held out His chartreuse hand and said to Lum, “Come now brave one, you have earned the right to fight by My side. I welcome you”!
Lum passed from this existence with a smile on his face.