The Infernal Oracle
It is our solemn duty to observe, record, and not to interfere. I know it is hard to understand, but all things have a purpose and our task is no different. In the interests of all who live and are yet to be born, our travels serve a greater goal than you could imagine.Tieflings are known widely for consorting with demons and other unsavory beings, but to a far lesser degree it is known they make it a point to avoid making contact casually. The need must truly be great for a tiefling to resort to rituals of summoning, and most stories told among tieflings back this up. One of these stories has reached scholars recently, along with proof it is not merely a myth with a lesson woven into it. There are several orders of significance in tiefling society, much as there are in the Rhyliss Imperium, but tiefling orders are far more numerous, smaller in scale, and more narrow in scope. The primary reason for such orders being formed is arcane research, either to pursue it or to make use of a breakthrough. Most notable among them are the Order of Wandering Sands, being devoted to rescuing travelers lost in the Kiroan desert. However, one such order has a more sinister reputation: "the Keepers of the Black Scrolls".
The members have no names of their own, referring to themselves by numbers in the language of tieflings, and seem to have a loose hierarchy among themselves. More importantly, they carry with them scrolls of a mysterious origin in lacquered ebony cases which are dear to them. The Keepers wander Erisdaire and seem most interested to learn the particulars of disasters which happen from the Redlight Islands in the east to the Sunfall Cliffs on the western shores. While members of the order are rarely present before disaster, their appearance has been considered an ill omen and a sign of terrible things to come.
This tale explains why they are always seeking misfortune, and show little concern for whether they are persecuted or not. As they would say, "there is a higher purpose and a greater goal".
The Oracle smiled, its mouth full of crooked teeth, and remained silent. Those gathered quickly came to understand the trouble in dealing with demons: they have no reason to do more than the terms of their binding, if it does not benefit them.The legends say there was a time in the past when tieflings became convinced it was possible to see into the future with the proper incantations. As attempts were continually foiled, for reasons which are not important to this legend, they took greater risks. Finally, a number of them decided to skip to a method which put all of them at risk: they would summon up a demon lord and forge a contract for prophecies. The circle of tieflings involved were not fools, despite what may be assumed, and took over a year to determine the proper binding ritual which would serve to constrain the demon lord. On the day of the ritual, the seven tieflings traveled to a prepared site to work their magic.
The terms of the binding made it impossible for the demon to injure the participants, and forced it to speak only words which were true. As one of the compromises of a comprehensive binding, the demon's name was invoked and woven into the fabric of the ritual so uttering its name would collapse the protections and forfeit the souls of the seven who performed the ritual. Thus the script refers to this demonic being as "The Infernal Oracle". Once it arrived, the Oracle spoke to test the will of its captors and offered one complete prophecy of years to come if they sent it back. The tieflings, knowing a deal such as this would allow the demon to violate the terms of the ritual, refused and demanded the Infernal Oracle speak no more, and deliver twelve prophecies..
So it was the demon began to provide the prophecies, begrudgingly at first, but soon becoming almost gleeful. The reasons became clear as scribes wrote down the prophecies: each one was vague, and could have several interpretations. Once confronted by this, the Infernal Oracle could only smile and wait for the signal to give the next prophecy. By the time the final prophecy was about to be recorded, one of the participants drew a magical dagger and demanded the next one be clear and concise. The Infernal Oracle then laughed and delivered its final prophecy. "Your final words will be ones you shall forever regret, and your work will be left unfinished.".
In a rage, the tiefling threw the dagger through the binding circle into the demon, declaring the demon by name to be an oathbreaker. A clause in the ritual thus allowed the demon to claim only one soul as a penalty for breaking its own side of the terms. The demon claimed its attacker, and was banished back to its own realm. The six surviving ritualists hurriedly ensured there were no loose ends to the ritual binding spell, and left with the scribes to compile the twelve prophecies. The scroll was named "the Askherak Scriptures" after the place where the summoning was done. These tieflings maintained their ownership of the scroll, ensuring it could not be destroyed after the prices paid for acquiring it. Their children and further descendants became sworn to seek the truth of the prophecies, hoping to prevent at least one tragedy from coming true. Every generation, divination magic is employed to determine how many of the prophecies have been fulfilled - and when it changes, the keepers of the scroll scour the world trying to find out how it happened.
Over the years between then and now, eight of the eleven outstanding prophecies have been said to have happened. As the keepers began to search for the truth of these prophecies, it became apparent the Infernal Oracle delivered them in no specific order. This made their jobs more difficult, but not by much despite the new information. So it is the tieflings devoted to seeking the truth of the Askherak prophecies wander the world in ash-grey robes seeking knowledge which will always be too late to help.