Nihil Timendum Est
Fear of the Trifling Tears

After they had slain the beast known as the Rat King they quickly searched for Medeina. Ducroh was able to find tracks as Terra and Bartholomew attempted to look for her scent. They passed several corridors with smaller rooms attached until they got to a wider corridor which contained the private quarters of Įgruvia Milžinai’s elites. The trail lead to a large room at the end of this corridor. As they followed they noticed the remnants of illusions which had been performed. Inside the room they found the bookshelves tossed and everything strewn about, as well as a secreted passage that was already open behind one of the shelves. The aura’s of illusion magic grew more frequent and stronger. They squeezed through the narrow secret passage and followed it several hundred meters around a slow bend until it widened slightly. Terra could sense something was amiss, and closely looked at her surroundings. It a moment her eyes unraveled the light bending from corners of the room, disillusioned by the sight of four Vaukojkai armed with spears and decorated in ceremonial feathers. They had been hidden before by extremely powerful magic. Slowly they moved forward and Terra did her best to covertly warn the party of their presence without causing suspicion. Ahead they saw the hallway end and split into two with a dim blue light coming from the areas beyond. Behind them a low rumble turned into the audible sound of marching and a continuous chant coming from the secret passage which they had entered through.

Ducroh centered himself in the corridor as Pascal created a pit, with everyone situated defensively behind the pit to await the source of the chanting. As the marching grew louder they could see shadows moving in the passage. The chanting was unlike anything they had heard. Pascal and Schrödinger could recognize it as a type of Undine, but it was so unlike what they spoke it was nearly impossible to understand. When they moved out from the shadows several dozen figures dressed in long black robes with pointy cowls stepped forward lead by Inquisitor Paleoghafir. Ducroh was surprised by the fact he was alive somehow. He knew these to likely be the cultists known as the Nightingale Church. Paleoghafir said that he couldn’t leave this world as he sought to take back what was his. Terra grew impatient as she noticed the hidden guards approaching from all sides. She struck out with her blades. Unable to down them, they apparated from their guise and advanced with their spears pointed forwards. The chanting grew louder as Paleoghafir called to forces beyond. Their heads began to ache and Bartholomew looked around. Everyone but himself was frozen in thought, completely held within the grasp of the Nightingale Church. Bartholomew quickly grabbed his little girl and burrowed as fast as he could to the safety of his realm. The figures robed in black approached slowly, raising cudgels as they began to mercilessly beat the others until their memories faded away. They could only recall bits of what happened after.

The memories appeared in bursts, flashes before their eyes, being dragged deeper into the passageway. They were brought to a larger room with a massive decorated urn surrounded by pikes covered in gore. Inquisitor Paleoghafir was overheard saying, “Egle escaped with the other Fjorthn, but the hieromonach is ours, along with the device he used to reach outside. He seems to be in possession of the ruined body, as our new pseudanor interrupeted the procession. I fear we should not have waited until the next alignment, as now he must be worn to pass the crown”

He seemed to be talking to someone far away, a ghastly voice responded which Ducroh knew to be Inquisitor Hnteromonas, “You dare mantle the will of her flock?”

Pustules on Paleoghafir’s flesh began to burst and as they did Pascal’s brain twitched with radiating sharp pains.

Paleoghafir said, “Nhhhh-no my teuton, it is I who failed you, though the pseudanor was stupid enough to bring your sword with him as we predicted, and polished as well! I do not think he knows of it’s import. The rabbit got away with the brooch and Speaker’s Mask, we have found him among the crimson, agents have been deployed to bring him back, though his new title has treated him with.. powerful allies. please bestow vigilance to our queen, we must be ever watchful.”

“We will continue then. Use pascal, all we need is aelfhaft to abort the the child. Zvoruna will serve as the new Despoina, take anyone who contests to the pit. When the procession is complete she will open the southern gate. When you arrive grant her my condolences, it has been too long.”

The church began to pour a concoction of nyxtar from the urn into smaller cauldrons. The Hieromonach could be seen tied up against a post as members cast spells on him and slowly stripped away his skin, treating it with the mixture of nyxtar. They putrefied his brain and nerves, boiling his skin and wrapping them all tightly around twigs to mold and dry. All that remained in the end was the hollow aura of a pale golden crown, his body mutilated and turned into a macabre relic.

Bartholomew retreated to his abode to be greeted by a man who looked like a goat who wielded a large halberd. He said that he was a servant to the Speaker of the Crimson Oath, and informed Bartholomew that upon bearing his mask that the title was now his. He could not talk for long, and insisted that they must hurry as agents were looking for them. He helped Bartholomew scry into Nilfheimr to observe the fate of his friends. They were being dragged into the large ceremonial pit of Įgruvia Milžinai. Around the site everyone had been gathered; Zvoruna, Medeina, the librarian and other citizens of the Vaukojkas. Many others were there by force. Ancidaeus was captured again, bound though he seemed to be loosening his ties. Makar was next to a man from he surface who looked like a slave, struggling to remain calm, for whenever he was not the Inquisitor Paleoghafir seemed to speak through him. Behind them all Bartholomew could see Berothath was placed on the altar.

As the party regained their consciousness they awoke to the horrendous howling of Schrödinger as the feathered Vaukojkas prodded him with their pointed spears. The Nightingale Church uttered verses unknown to them, with only few decipherable words letting them know it was indeed another chant to Giltinė. The room was swarming with laumes, bringing up the earth’s fetid breath with their winds. In the center of the room a light pierced from the mass of flesh and feathers, this one even brighter than the ceremony to Typhoeus, the alignment of the winter solstice had come. This was the moment they had been preparing for. Cultists started to take Pascal towards the altar where the crown awaited him. Bifröst poured down from the laumes and tethered to nearly all that moved, pulling up severed limbs from the pit below. Bartholomew with the aid of his new ally was able to calibrate a burrow behind the altar where Berothath remained, moving to take out several guards. Ancidaeus having freed himself turned to Terra and Ducroh to loosen their restraints. When Terra was free the entire crowd was engulfed by a cloud of obscuring mist as she took her predatory shape and stalked through the plumes. When Pascal was freed she moved to dismiss the binding circle which kept Schrödinger in place. Ducroh had been disarmed of Undhrbyrðr, but in their hurry to perform the ceremony he was left his his bow and arrows. He lined up a shot directly at Paleoghafir’s head as they lunged toward one another. His arrow let loose and lodged directly through the inquisitor’s head. Paleoghafir staggered forward, unnaturally continuing to move but hindered slightly.

The room grew more damp as the winds churned around them. Bartholomew could sense an exchange brewing as Ducroh moved to disarm Paleoghafir, appearing right behind him as Ducroh wielded his own blade. The slave who was bound came running towards Paleoghafir, swearing revenge, but too much emotion sent him over the edge. The inquisitor took control of his mind and sent the man towards Ducroh, his fists burning with anger as swung wildly, igniting his clothes with each punch. Arrows from the darkness narrowly missed Ducroh and the others. Bartholomew knew something Ducroh did not, and as he once again wielded the blade, the rabbit took the brooch of Ausrine he had stolen, raising it up high as it harmonized with the chanting. The entire room filled with blinding light and a piercing noise as the devices attuned. The liquid from the pit below rose up into the sky and the Bifröst which connected everything became so bright it’s colors merged into an argent storm. Paleoghafir cried out and apologized to the queen as she rushed for the crown, he knew something was wrong and that he had to act quickly. He push the cultist out of the way as he raced Terra to the crown, placing it upon his head as he vanished into a cloud of dust. There was a momentary silence as everyone rushed to flee. From behind the temple’s altar a violent luminescence crept. Once again winds picked up from behind them. Ancidaeus pleaded to follow him towards the southern gate, as he knew that this was one place they did not want him to go. He could not say why, but he begged for their trust as he believed this was the only way out. The source of the light and wind from behind the temple revealed itself, Berothath, recovered from her mortal wounds and with wings even greater than her sisters. Manically she cried out as gusts of wind sent citizens and cultists hurling into the air, “Who is afraid to fly now!? Ah-hahaha!”

They ran down the steps towards the southern gate into a long corridor. The winds picked up from behind them and some regretted looking back. Berothath was not what she used to be. At the end of the corridor it opened to a large chamber littered with the inanimate bodies of Fjorðinn warriors, each of them seemed to be frozen still engaged in combat as if a statue made of crystal. Just beyond them was a large circular stone door which had been opened. There was no time to think, and they continued inside. When they passed it’s boundary time began to loose all meaning. They saw reflection upon reflection and lost themselves in a realm which they struggled to define. Terra saw something else, and realized that her emotions paved way, a small path which she could grasp. She realized that she could see through the eyes of many. The number of paths before her was countless. She was looking through the eyes of all those who the queen had “blessed”. Terra had taken on the path of the nyx-tar, and was inhabiting those bodies where it coursed through their veins. The queen to her was tangible now. A vessel through which all of the dead and broken could live once more. Before she could finish this though, her and the others were sent crashing into the ground, or what they perceived to be so. All around them light bounced back and forth. It looked as if they were in a room of mirrors, but upon further inspection everything was transparent like glass. The walls, furniture, decorations, and everything else around them were only visible by the feint refraction of light and silhouette on their edges. From the far side of the room they could see one of these figures moving closer, a feminine outline beginning to appear as she grew brighter and brighter as she walked closer to greet them.

“Ah.. Hello. You are not who I was expecting, but welcome.”

“Who are you?”, asked Ducroh.

“I am the Queen.”

Burden of The Shunned Crown

Pascal followed her great granddaughter, Medeina, who had fled the room rather quickly after they confronted the inquisitor adding to their suspicions. Ducroh took his time to inspect the disintegrating body of Inquisitor Paleoghafir, noticing his flesh dissolve into a spongy mass which exude a fluid similar to the nyx-tar. They found a large sum of gold and decided to take any objects which emit a magical aura, including a rope and his fanciful boots. When they looked back to the Pythia she was assumed to still be lost among her incommunicable visions, so they moved to follow after Pascal, taking with them the bodies of Berothath and Santvara. When they neared the temple, a commotion could be heard near the top of the steps. The Hieromonach was screaming profanities at the guards in a tongue that they could not understand, demanding they let him past. The guards held him back until they saw the party arrive with the body of Santvara. Still seeming not to be very surprised by her death, the Vaukojkas yielded to Pascal and lowered their weapons, allowing them to enter after they explained who the man was and that it was vital they speak with Despoina.

Inside they met with Despoina, who seemed rather distracted by the assault on her city. When the body of her daughter was brought before her, she fell to her knees. Despoina could not hold back her tears for a moment, she begged for Giltinė to watch closely this night, that she may turn her bed east so she could rise with the grass snake. Ducroh started to realize that the rituals being performed to the Black Oath were not isolate, they had been practiced by the Vaukojkas for some time before their introduction to the Rat-folk. With this in mind, the fact that the mask of the Crimson Oath was worn by Santvara did not seem so srange, as it was during a ritual which they had perceived to be for the Black Oath, though this may not have been so.

After consoling Despoina, Terra and Ducroh were able to translate the words of the Hieromonach for her. He did not know who she was, why he was here, and was very frustrated that very few could even understand him. Terra and Ducroh began to feel frustrated as well, demanding to know why Despoina had shrugged her responsibility as a ruler and delegated her duties to those who were now known not to be worthy of trust. She finally broke down, caught in her greatest moment of weakness. She admitted that lately she had been unable to handle the burden of managing the city, that she had been finding it harder and harder to mentally handle each task. When they interrogated her more it became obvious, she did not even know the extent to which she had let the city run loose. Ducroh thought back on what he had dismissed upon their arrival… Ducroft. Despoina could not even recall Ducroh’s name, and it became quiet obvious that her other memories were following suit. She broke down, bawling as she collapsed in her father’s arms, begging for Pascal to help her. Bartholomew noticed that while he could not identify what magic was being used, that a trace was there, and it was the same in not only Despoina and Pascal, but the brain which they had found near the waters of Hvergelmir. Terra noticed that The Hieromonach was trying to speak, he asked about everything they had done with the device, and hen he realized Pascal was related to Despoina, he asked about how he got here, his imprisonment, and who the queen was. He concurred that Pascal and his daughter were being manipulated whoever this was, and that it was ultimately why everything must be going wrong. He explained that the crown was floated back into the mill, as if fruit from the tree of Ithun. It was returned to where it sprang, and this distributed the essence of it’s planar alignment among the Nyx-tar. If the ritual was performed as they said, and his mind drank this Nyx-tar, he is now a “harvest seed”, and that the remnants of the dead Typheus collision which Ducroh terminated are within himself.

More commotion could be heard from the entrance to the temple, the barking of orders, followed by silence, then screams. The sound of wood crushing under a fierce impact shot through the hallways. First one, then another, then a volley of bursts erupted through the hallways chasing guards out each end. Before they had time to question the fleeing guards a large limb like that of the growth in the pit shot through hall light lightening, grasping wildly at anything it could, tearing bricks from the foundations of the temple. One of the limbs managed to snag the leg of a guard. Schrödinger was quick to act and charged the limbs, tearing it apart before it had a chance to retract. Several more vine-like tendrils shot forward as Pascal covered them in grease. The source of the limbs from down the hallway emit an unnerving chitter. When they looked to the guard again, his wound where the tendril had strangled his leg was festering rapidly, causing the flesh to slough off his skin like that of Paleoghafir’s. Terra leaped forward as more limbs began to lash past them, searching for anyone or anything they could grasp. She took out her blades and hacked away at the dark fibers that stretched back to holes they had breached in the reinforced wooden portcullis. Ducroh ignited the grease, with Bartholomew taking the front with a wave of burning hands. Through the flames and ashes of the crumbling door, he could see beyond the creature which plagued them. A King of Rats, an abomination never before seen. The heads, bodies, and tails of infected Rat-folk strewn together in a mass which undulated through the halls. One of the limbs managed to shoot through the table which the Hieromonach was hiding behind, causing him to yell and desperately flail at the vines with a broken table leg. Terra and Ducroh severed the limb and aided him with a cure, though it seemed to be to late the moment it struck. Whatever coursed through the veins of the Rat King seemed to be the antithesis of what held the Hieromonach’s body to this realm. Bartholomew stepped forward with a torrent of flames as Pascal trapped the shambling mound of carcasses into a pit. Soon the makeshift cauldron began to boil as the creature sunk into a viscous stew of bones and rotting broth.

Síeke Giltinė
Hands Grasping at the Straw

The entire chamber was swallowed by a blinding aura. Ducroh was reminded of the dream he had seen before, his blade sinking into the ground and banishing a bright light. He drew his blade as he ran to the edge of the pit and jumped, descending towards it’s center as he noticed the soil below him come to life. Ducroh sunk the sword deep into the ground and from beneath a horrible shriek cried out, leaving the party momentarily deafened. He had done it. What attempted to rise from the ground was dead.

Silence was followed by the sounds of debris and flesh falling to the floor as the winds stopped and the laumes disintegrated. They tried to wrap their heads around what was going on, and soon heard a voice coming from the southern ruins. It was the Hieromonach speaking in ancient Fjorðinn. Ducroh helped the rest understand what he could of this old tongue. The Hieromonach was shocked, he looked around and exclaimed repeatedly that everything was wrong. He asked why Despoina was not here, and demanded that he speak with her. They tried to ask Santvara what was going on, why she was here, but she did not respond. She appeared dead, and was found wearing a large crimson mask carrying texts to Giltinė like those used to praise the Black Oath. The Rabbit found this strange, having admitted that he was part of the Crimson Oath, he recognized the mask as theirs, but that it would not be worn in a ritual to the Black Oath, or should not. The Hieromonach said that Santvara cannot speak, and that she is now travelling among giants. When Ducroh told him about where they had returned the crown and inquired as to it’s involvement in the ritual, the Hieromonach began to cry. He looked at his own hands and body, trying to contemplate the ritual that he was a part of. He ran off towards the city of Įgruvia Milžinai to find Despoina, and the party soon chased after him.

Ducroh ran ahead as the others recovered the bodies of Santvara and Berothath, though he was unable to slow the Hieromonach’s pursuit. When they arrived at the other end of the large corridor which leads to the city, they noticed that there were no guards. The entire lower district had gone dark, and few sources of light illuminated the area. All around them lurking in the shadows were Ratlings infested with the same growths which plagued the pale Bočunai that first wondered the pit. The only people who could be seen were a guard escorting a citizen towards the upper district, where more guards held a formation. A flash of light streaked through the air as a flaming arrow arced from the upper district. Terra and Pascal helped haul the bodies towards them. Ducroh rushed to check on Garbhcruoe in the tavern as Bartholomew snuck around the back past the crafting station. When the rabbit turned the corner he saw a dim light from a storage shed, inside he could hear two people conversing. One of them was found to be the Eldritch Inquisitor Paleoghafir, who was talking to a man with a thick Vaukojkas accent who said, “The saboteurs succesfully infiltrated the lower district and reopened the service tunnels for the ratlings. She is desperate. Without access to the tunnels the city Egle is completely depending on our routes. We can get as many people in and out as he needs.”
Inquisitor Paleoghafir replied, "Egle can maintain hold on the upper districts for now. As for the other lady, tell her that I wish to meet at the Pythia. The Nightingale Chuch will arrive soon, and Inquisitor Hnteromonas wishes to cease aiding her with supplies."

Ducroh found Garbhcruoe tied up and barricaded inside a room. He told Ducroh that the city had been overrun by Ratlings, and showed him a way to sneak out the back. The Vaukojkas citizen who Bartholomew had overheard speaking with Inquisitor Paleoghafir interrupted quickly, “Did you hear that?”, which was followed by a long silence. A dark figure could be seen leaving the shed just as Ducroh found Bartholomew outside who quietly motioned towards the the figure. When they moved closer they could overhear the sounds of someone choking. Inside the shed they saw a man who’s flesh was swelling so rapidly that his skin tore with lacerations, his throat enlarged and completely blocking off his airflow. Next to him they found an empty flask with the stopper removed with a residual agent left reacting in the bottom of the glass, found to have been similar to Nyxtar but used as a weaponized gas. A magical aura flowed outside of the shed and Ducroh easily caught sight of the Inquisitor’s tracks. He was sure by the shape of the boot that it was an Inquisitor, the print had a pointy nose and heel which dug deep, trailed by a tassel. “Those fanciful pricks”, he thought.

Ducroh and Bartholomew in pursuit of Inquisitor Paleoghafir met up with Terra and Pascal on the slope to the upper district. When they arrived the guards stationed at the top demanded they halt, their procedure reserved for a short while before noticing that Santvara was dead with them. At first the guard captain did not seem very shocked, Terra knew something wasn’t right. Ducroh having had enough of falsehoods called upon a sacred scar of the earth, branding it with a Zone of Truth. Ducroh grabbed the guard by his chest and held him within the focused boundaries. The guard captain braced himself, becoming flushed as if he stood naked in front of his peers. He could not tell any more lies, and informed Ducroh of all his suspicions. The guards were bought, and the surface had supplies coming in and out; by now the city was dependent on them, and Medeina duktė had organized it by providing escorts to forbidden areas within Hnderghthom. Ducroh was furious, brushing past the guards, he and the others rushed towards the Pythia where Inquisitor Paleoghafir was meeting someone. Garbhcruoe pleaded for Ducroh to have mercy, that he wished for vengence as much as anyone else, but that they needed to find out more if they are going to help their people.

The Pythia could be seen writhing in the floor as she did often, chasing the fumes that belched from the cracked earth below. Inquisitor Paleoghafir beside her and Medeina, he turned around to greet Ducroh, happy that his search was finally over. The Inquisitor reached into his coat and pulled out a large flask like the one they had found in the shed; they had to act fast. Bartholomew saw a path in his mind quicker than every other, and with a whisper and flick of his paw he was left stepping directly through space, arriving right behind Paleoghafir. He tried to swipe the bottle from out of his hands but the rabbit was too slow. Terra took advantage of this and moved forward to close in during the distraction. Terra smacked the bottle right out of his hands, sending it clanging precariously to the stonework below. Terra moved to pick up the flask as the rabbit followed through and reached into his pocket, grasping in his little paw around the ornate edges of a brooch discovered to be the source of the magical aura they had sensed earlier. The inquisitor was now surrounded. Desperate and with few tools left at his disposal, he braced himself wound after wound, attempting to cast a spell to protect his trinkets. Each slice, stab, and bite inflicted by the party left him laughing manically as his leathery skin flayed unnaturally from his bones. Medeina attempted to sneak around the sides of them, using a wall of guards to escort her away from all the commotion. Pascal conjured a pool of grease beneath their feet, sending them to their knees. Medeina however managed to withdraw unhindered, with Pascal furiously chasing her great granddaughter close behind. Ducroh approached the inquisitor menacingly, eyeing the old man’s fleeting body, watching the bizarre mixture of fluids leak from his wasting flesh. The old man taunted Ducroh until his very last words, insisting that Inquisitor Hnteromonas is waiting for him on the surface. Ducroh assured Paleoghafir that he would find Hnteromonas and kill him. Then with one swipe of his blade, he slid the edge across the old man’s neck, cleaving it in two.

Mantle of the Drowned Drove

Before Ducroh could place the crown on his head, Terra told the story of the Young Grass Snake and the Welborne Crones which she had read in the library. She believed the story was not only about the Grass Snake, but also about the nest fashioned from him which becomes a crown, and that this crown was like the child, abandoned and in need of a home to rest. After much deliberation they decided it would be too risky to adorn the crown, and so continued to explore the dungeon. Up the stairs at the end of the hall were another pair of large double doors, their texture rippling as if waves caught still in motion. After noticing some Undine statues similar to the main hall, Pascal, Terra, and Schrödinger began to sing. The ripples started to harmonize with their voices, moving once again as the door creaked, bursting open as a mountain of water fell from behind it, flooding all around the adventurers as it swept them off their feet, nearly taking them back down the stairs.

Behind the open gates the hall widened to a chamber bigger than any witnessed in the Hndherghthom. It seemed nearly impossible that a chamber this large could remain structurally intact this far below ground. The entire chamber was flooded, and in the center was a giant tree like no other. It’s branches and limbs stretched far beyond sight, rolling into the distance like mountainous nebula that floated through Niflheimr. The roots were then times as large as the oldest trees, patched together unnaturally and dripping with a thick sap; pieces of the bark were spliced together, some flayed and torn askew as if the tree had been augmented or perhaps damaged then repaired. Ducroh knew this tree, it was Yggdrasil, the mount of gods. The water drained up to the level of a circular walkway which traced the walls and surrounded the tree. Near the entrance were two sealed doorways which were found to lead down stairs to an isolated lower room. Inside they found a glowing fumous horizon that lit up the room, resting on the crest of a large circular stone which was ground down upon by a large pillar dripping with a thick resin from above. The edge of the stone formed a trough which collected a thick molten liquid from the friction of the pillar driving downwards. It was difficult to tell in this state, but Ducroh knew it was similar to the liquid which pulsed through the veins of the animated Bočunai. He knew this because it was the millstone used to make the food of gods. They retrieved a sample and returned upstairs to the tree once more. The Rabbit’s girl dove beneath the water to find out more and discovered that at the base of the roots rested sediment strewn from the soil of creatures never before seen.

It was decided here would be a suitable resting place for what they presumed was the dead god child of Terra’s story which remained as a pale crown artifice, so Ducroh submerged the crown in the waters. For some extremely strange reason Ducroh thought it would float, and it did. The crown drifted with the waves until it approached the base of the trunk, all while Pascal, Terra, and Schrödinger sang, their voices carrying it across the water’s surface. When the crown finally reached the base, Ducroh lamented with a final hymn, and the crown emit a glow of bright red light as it boiled the water around it, having sunk below as the light cast from it became shrouded in the deep; this completing his vision of the crown as he felt connected to His pain, Ducroh’s mind full of thought pouring like tears which cascaded against each other in an ocean of waves, perceived as culminating with peaks of new emotions, feelings, and physicality brought by their collision. When they returned below the mill was found to have an even brighter crimson sludge exuding from it’s trough which they sampled as well. No longer knowing what needed to be done, or if anything had been done at all to avoid their ill fated prophecies, they headed back towards the city.

As they passed the reliefs which decorated the walls with animals and celestial artwork, they exited into the first hallway where they had found Makar, where a strange buzzing sound could now be heard. On the altar where he had risen they found a gruesome offering someone must have placed since they had entered. Covering the surface were organs, smeared and nearly indiscernible as if the lines drawn from it’s tissues and blood were a language of their own. Ducroh approached slowly, mortified at the sight of two hauntingly beautiful eyes strewn into the pile which gazed back at him. They were the eyes of Berothath. He quickly ran outside of the temple to find the rest of her. The buzzing grew louder. Her mouth hung ajar below the blank sockets where her eyes once were, muscles torn from her limbs as her internal organs remained exposed as if plucked from her body. On her chest carved deep into the skin was a message written in Vaukojkas which read, “Afraid to fly”. Terra followed shortly after with the others, she broke down in front of Berothath and looked up into the darkness. All around them the buzzing which they had ignored in urgency came back screaming. A storm of black wings descended upon them as the roaring wind that followed sought to lift them from their feet. Above they could see dozens and dozens of beings like those they had only heard of in stories. Women stripped to the bone of rot, with regal wings that carried each of their frail corpses through the air together into a dark maelstrom. They were Berothath’s sisters. The Lamia.

Ducroh yelled at them with no response, the waves of darkness continued to descend until several were close enough to dive below. Ducroh carefully observed and noticed a glimmering strand which seemed to pull at their wings. At the right angle a spectra of rainbow light seemed to flicker from this string which reminded him of Bifröst, the burning rainbow bridge of myth which connects worlds. While these dead had nothing to say, Durcoh looked to those past who followed Ashtifer, and a few words of His were found to be whispered, “Traitors among them.” Several lunged down from the swarm above, which they were able to dodge, launching arrows and clouds of fire up above to stave them off, but there were too many. Before long they could see strands of rainbow light stretch down to touch the corpse of Berothath, her limbs animating as she lunged forward like the others in a puppeteered assault. Ducroh could think of only one way to prevent harm to both of them and he decided to sever the strings which commanded the corpse’s limbs instead of wasting her body further with wounds. As each strand severed Berothath slowly came to rest on the ground, propped up on her knees still completely limp. The Rabbit’s little girl seemed to sense something wrong as fear overcame them, she too looked up into the swarming clouds of darkness. The stench of bonemeal in the air made it troublesome to breath. Bits of rotting flesh and feathers pelted the little girl caught in the violent winds as pieces of them were strewn about by the Lamia. As she gazed up, the Lamia caught sight of her, and they too began to not only fear the stench of the little girl, but could hardly stand to be in the slight of such a creature. Soon they could hear someone singing… thought they could not see, Terra and Pascal knew the voice well… it was that of Santvara Pascal’s granddaughter, and Terra wished to sing with her as well. As the maelstrom swirling around them picked up, several strings returned and pulled Makar down as they dragged him across the floor towards the pit. Terra lunged to pin him down as Ducroh jumped in the air and brought his blade down onto the strand of light, physically pulverizing it into a glittering cloud of dust. Now the torrent of feathers, rotting blood and bone had condensed into a whirling orb that swirled around a small bead of light. Rays of the glowing core began to pierce through the dark cloud, illuminating the bodies of the Lamia as shafts of the light cast from between each feather of their wings, erupting in a nova of burning radiance like they had witnessed before when Terra peaked into that which lies beyond. They had witnessed Typhoeus.

Įgruvia Milžinai
The Subsidence of Giants

When the party arrived at the city they heard a commotion. Makar had been captured and tied to a post by the Vaukojkas who surrounded him and demanded that he be burned. Some of them claimed that he was that reason the earth croaked as it did, that he was a herald for the blights inflicted upon them. Terra rushed to get him off the post as the crowd stared her down, a mob massing together around her. Ducroh sensed something brewing and walked to the front, convincing the crowd to calm down until Despoina arrived, who released Makar from his captivity so that they might rest and return with more answers. Despoina was even kind enough to grant them permission to retrieve the crown from the Pythia. When they went to retrieve from the temple of the Pythia, it was swarming with armed guards. When they requested the guards leave so that they could speak alone, the Pythia had said these men were put here by Žvoruna and could be trusted with anything. After pondering the dangers, they took the crown, and left the Pythia to revel in her visions on the floor.

Most of them rested well that night, and in the morning dispersed to peruse the wares and services around Įgruvia Milžinai. Terra and Ducroh soon visited the library for some research and The White Rabbit began work on a craft-piece before they set out towards the tunnel that leads to the central pit. Along the way they discussed what facts they knew so far, and what they needed to know more about. Pascal remembered that he had an artifact from the man they now knew as the Hieromonach for them to use when they continued the exploration of the ruins visited previously. As they moved they could feel a slight breeze again, with the doors still remaining shut. Peering down the corridor the faint silhouette of a figure presumed to be Berothath could be seen. When they called out to her she did not respond, and shortly after opened the other gate at the end of the tunnel.

Upon entering the chamber where they first fell into the pit it seemed strangely different. It was much more humid and the cavern walls glistened with moisture. Growths rooted their way between bricks surrounding the pit up and around the edges of it’s walls. The spire’s winding serpent in the center of the pit appeared to now be crowing a pool of floating bodies. The surrounding worms feasted on the sodden corpses as they snaked along the ripples of the dimly lit reservoir. Berothath stood in awe, contemplating her perceived beauty of these changes. She noted that she had never seen them before, but that it made her think of her sisters. When they asked her about the crown she said she believed it was destined for the Despoina, but that if the Pythia has foretold a different prophecy it must be so. When the Rat made his presence known Berothath was rather uneasy for some reason, but when the party requested that they help watch their captives she seemed happy to help.

Again they returned to the western temple surrounding the pit of Įgruvia Milžinai, for now bringing with them the Rat and his girl. Inside it did not seem as different as the previous chamber, though there was some loose rubble. Along the walls a relief of Dyphoeun, or Tiamat, extended it’s limbs and caught the attention of the Rat, who began to chant ancient sermons in his honor. Terra pointed out the double-door which lead to the unexplored room she had peeked into after they slept. Inside they found a large hallway with a platform at the center and another double-door on the far end of the hallway next to two altars. Three sections of wall on each side extended down the length of the room and acted as columns. They were carved with intricate beasts and landscapes that depicted the change of seasons and denoted particular importance to the summer and winter solstice. This pattern continued as a series of snakes, cranes, bulls, and lions. Behind on of the walls Terra disarmed a chest which had a store of ancient coins and a magical ring. In the center of the room was a large platform raised by steps with a similar piece of art to that which was on top of the spire in the center of the pit, a snake surrounding a sun with it’s jaw being pierced by a ray of light as it devours it’s own tail. They knew that likely the device would have more success if they activated it corresponding to times of the year and seasons, but they did not find anything that would help them understand what to do with the crown. Ducroh frustrated and desperate looked around and thought of the line’s within the ancient text.

“The golden crown made of Æsir is bestowed to a hero…”

Ducroh looked at Terra and said, “I’m putting on the crown.”

Blood-bramble of the Æsir

Clearing the rooms of the rats, the party sought out the remaining books that were not burned. Many of them had information on the aqueducts and architecture like those at the library in the city, however there were some that must have been brought with the ratfolk. Two of the texts were in ancient Fjorðinn and came from the Hieromonach who constructed the ancient architecture. One of the texts was on the waters which nourish the world tree, ‘Waters of Hvergelmir’. Along with another by the same author on Jötnar or Giants ‘Standing on the Shoulder of Giants’. Other religious texts were in Fjorðinn and Vaukojkas.

The most troublesome were several books on the dead and some oaths written in Vyuerdloghe to disease which they found in the next room. Along with the books were a brain and the remains of a ritual sacrifice to the oath which was presumed to be excrement, later discovered by the rabbit to be the preserved remains of a conscious person in suffering. He decided that they should put the thing out of it’s misery. Even for the Rabbit this kind of oath was too wrong, so he decomposed the remains of the victim.

Further down they heard strange noises… almost like the rats from before but something was different. There was talking as well, followed by the ghastly baying of a fawn. Coming from down below a drain, around another corridor there was a door. The voices spoke of, “The golden crown of the Aurifex”. They decided to take them alive, carefully they moving to see where this voice came from, following it down into a room below. The floor was covered in filth with iconic staffs surrounding a pile of foul soil heaped from the center of the room. The cocked black eyes of a dead deer strained themselves over to the party, it’s long neck severed at the bottom, meeting the body of a young female. Along with it was a being unlike the humanoid Vluna rat-folk. It was large rat and still had the posture of a human, contorted similarly to the Rabbit, but it looked like a normal domestic breed.

The creatures ravenously charged forward which served to help Pascal as his companions fended them off. He conjured a pit which was able to trap them before they could bite at them for to long. The rat could throw fire like the rabbit, and his girl had an unnatural gaze. Ducroh could tell that something was not right. When they became conscious he decided to interrogate them. Discovering that not only are these creatures Vyuerdloghe of the Black Oath, but that Bartholomew is himself of the Crimson Oath, and is bonded to the Chapter of Barther and Theft. Bartholomew is capable of tunneling into another realm where sequestered lays his humble abode. The rest of the party upon being shown this realm were in awe, mostly wishing to leave, but not before Terra could catch the attention of the rabbit by swiping a trinket, though he seemed to somehow know without even looking… This rat and his familiar from the reservoir however were incarnates of the Chapter of DIsease and Pesitilence, and had brought materials in to library to teach the rat-folk oaths. The rat told them that they were too late, that his master Typhoeus has already arrived to retrieve what was “stolen”. Later they discovered Makar had disappeared. Some fallen petals lay around the running water above bu there was no sign. The rat failed to guise that Makar “heard something”, saying he told Makar to check on a noise. They decided to look over the books some more and take this information back to the city for more research.

Arms of Serpents

After investigating the well for some time the adventurers were approached by someone from the town. They had recognized them staring at the well they previous day who told them of a library in town that would have more information about it. When they arrived they found the library overrun with vermin, which seemed to avoid Bartholomew’s girl. The curator found this odd but was thankful and located the book which covered the Hieromonach and the aqueduct’s construction. The Hieromonach was a man who engineered many of the ancient structures and devices within the Hndherghthom. They were able to use the book to trace the water source uphill where a reservoir was used to raise the pressure needed for the fountain. The Rabbit’s girl dug her way around the stonework and lead them towards the structure’s entrance buried within a cavern wall. Makar snuck forward in front of Pascal and Terra. The little girl shortly behind unburrowed from the soil and crawled onto the back of Schrödinger. Ducroh guarded the flank with the Rabbit on his shoulders.

Just as they opened the door and walked into the entrance, the poisoned Bočunai who nearly killed Terra struck again at Ducroh who was guarding the rear. Ducroh was able to fire off one shot before he could strike him. The poison again having little effect on the Noran, he returned with one more shot from his bow. Schrödinger lunged his jaws into the beings flesh and the Rabbit lit it ablaze as Terra stepped forward and lunged her blade directly through the Bočunai assassin.

Behind the door a staircase lead upwards into a dank hallway with two doors halfway through and a reservoir on both ends trickling water across the floor. Ducroh paused for a moment as everyone else continued, he had heard a noise that sounded like a boulder cracking, a low rumbling below the earth. When he went to confirm this with his friends, they said that they could only hear the sounds of rat’s squeaking about the rooms. They readied themselves against the rat’s, moving in order towards the rooms and guarding each side. Several could be seen opening a door on one side, but closing it again and holding it shut. Makar went to check the other door and just as they looked back four ratfolk burst from inside tossing Makar to the ground. Pascal conjured a slick underneath the feet of the little beasts, sending them rolling on their backs after their charge. The Rabbit sparked the grease aflame and crisped the rat’s for Schrödinger as he gnawed at them.

When they went to the other door it was barricaded. Pascal and Bartholomew managed to burn down the moldy wooden door with more flaming grease. Quickly as a hole grew in the ashes, they noticed the room was barricaded with bookshelves. Ducroh could hear the creatures inside whispering, and he whispered a chant to himself, a sermon for those foreign. Ducroh felt as though his own deceased Great Uncle who was a trained Vluna linguist was whispering in his ear the words spoken by the rats. Ducroh learned that the rats were practicing a ritual and that the enemies arrival wouldn’t matter because they were too late and had enough time to finish. Ducroh and the other’s busted through the remains of the door and hunted down the rest of the rats cowering behind bookshelves, pulling two of them out from under the tables and slaughtering them.

Pythôlithos Vlumen
Tomented Tails of a Shackled Spring

After the ceremony had ended the halls grew quieter as initiates left. From outside they began to hear a commotion, and after walking out they noticed Ancidaeus wrestling against his bindings in protest as Schrödinger covered him in slime. He pleaded for someone to get him away from this beast, but when Ducroh offered a replacement, he decided that Schrödinger wasn’t the worst who could interrogate him. Ducroh and Ancidaeus quarreled a bit more, but this time Ancidaeus while admitting he lied, said that he was not lying about everything. He said that he does question his faith, not to Ælfhæft, but to the Eldritch leaders. He revealed that long ago he had seen Ducroh, then known as Lykanthea, steal something from the Eldritch, that they were using him to find information on Ducroh, and that Inquisitor Paleoghafir has been dispatched from the east to hunt Ducroh down . Having earned enough trust Ducroh removed his bindings. Ancidaeus told Ducroh that they had his lover Beth and was afraid to return to the surface, that they would hurt her if he did not yield any results. Ducroh informed him that he should return, and should tell them everything he knows, that he is not afraid of what may come. Then he sent him on his way.

They walked back the long pathway that lead to the temple and came across Makar sitting outside the temple where Berothath. He returned to Terra and reported his findings. Much of what was said to Berothath was confusing to him, he believed that it was meant to be confusing, that people were sent to see the Pythia to be confused. After a short while Medeina returned and informed them that since their initiation had been completed a meeting could be held with Despoina, though she was busy and the council would be attending as well. She provided them with escorts and walked to the interior of the largest temple once more. When they arrived they saw a dozen or so Vaukojkas seated in front of a large table, with one empty seat at the end. The adventurers recognized the two at the end of the table nearest the empty seat presumed to be Despoina’s. They were two of the Vaukojkas that they had seen during the initiation, both wielding bows and extravagant clothing. One of them was named Žvoruna and they did not catch the name of the other. Despoina was taking her time to arrive, Medeina had mentioned she was busy because they were currently at war, and as they waited the council could be heard whispering about their presence. Wondering why foreigner’s would be permitted to sit with the council, others questioning if Pascal could really be “her” father. Ducroh took the awkward silence of his companions as a chance to casually flirt with Žvoruna. After almost an hour Despoina finally arrived, the council having remained patient and graciously welcoming her arrival. She sat down and addressed Pascal, “Hello father, it has been a long time.”

Pascal was shocked, he couldn’t remember anything and somehow his daughter knew more about why than he did, but they both knew it was because of The Queen. Despoina asked about her sister on the surface, and was met with the same inquiry. Terra seemed to know a bit more about Pascal’s past, but only from memories he once told her as stories which have since been forgotten. Despoina’s sister was sent to rule a different province at a young age, and not much has been heard since. Everyone had questions for Despoina, and she did her best to answer them all before addressing the council. She noted that they were found near the pit, and said that in trying to activate the device they may have endangered the safety of her citizens. In the brief window that the instruments harmonized this may have given beings from the outside an opening the inhabit the corpus of this world. Despoina said that the device had not been used in a long time, but that it previously was rumored to be a place where a great hero would sacrifice himself, and that he would return one day. The last to do so was Dysaules who Ducroh seemed to know from his texts as Bē-tharmōn She granted them all permission to return to the chambers beyond their city, but that they must learn more about the device as to undo what dangers they may have imposed. When their council finally addressed her, they did so using her name, Eglė Žalčių Karalienė. They council and Eglė discussed their concerns with the ongoing war, and the potential for wars with the surface and beings beyond. Eglė instructed the adventurers to see the Pythia so that prophecy might aid them in their journey, and introduced Pascal to his granddaughters before the left: Žvoruna, to whom they had already been introduced, and Santvara the female who played the Lyre with Terra during the initiation.

They entered the temple of the Pythia to find a beautiful woman blindfolded and mostly nude sitting in front of a large statue. The statue’s base formed a wide stone cage which sat atop a well of gas which flowed from below, the wisps of the gas bellowing from a fissure deep underground up and around the carved idol above. The Pythia slowly inhaled and exhaled, completely consumed by the nebulous gas, deepening her meditative state to guide her prophecy. Ducroh told her that Eglė sent them to receive help figuring out the rituals of the pit. She spoke slowly, somehow already knowing Ducroh’s name, saying that he was sent to receive help, but to be guided towards destiny. She did not elaborate, but continued on about water, serpents, and the tainted well Hvergelmir. The Pythia told them that one of them had already bathed in the fingers of this well, but that they must follow they fingers to the hand, arm, and neck to uproot the source of this taint. After speaking with the Pythia, The White Rabbit decided to inhale the fumes for himself, shortly after he collapsed and Terra tried to keep him from harm as he convulsed. The rabbit was overwhelmed and in his altered state repeatedly asked who “she” was. When they left the Pythia they decided to return to the well where the rabbit had bathed previously to steal some coins. It seemed to heal their wounds and Ducroh saw visions of snakes pouring from them as they healed and into the well. Along the side of the well the markings which they noticed earlier seemed to make more sense, three roots coming from a tree, each feasting upon the source of a well. One of the roots must go to a well which the Pythia had spoke of in her prophecy.

Obkaerimōnium Eglė
Trials of Fecund and Deathless Soil

When Medeina had arrived she was accompanied by several priestesses from the upper districsts who offered Terra healing. Ducroh complained about the lack of protection they received while within the town having allowed Terra to be attacked. Medeina assured them that they would do what they could in order to help catch whoever had harmed them, asking if they knew anyone who might want to harm them. Though Pascal knew that the Eldritch would not want him freed, and Ducroh had many enemies above the surface, for the time being the only clue was a flower from the lands above. To them it was just as viable that someone within the city was responsible for the attack, so they chose to withhold their evidence until they could figure out more.

As they were talking to Medeina, Berothath approached from behind carrying a bloodied cloth which Duchroh spotted something made of gold veiled within. Attempting to keep it secreted she ignored Ducroh’s questions and spoke with Medeina alone, though Terra could overhear, she had recovered an artifact which she called the Ophiombrotos and insisted that it was destined to be given to Despoina. Medeina instructed her to take the artifact to the Pythia and heed her prophecy. Terra had never heard of this but knew parts of the name Ophio-mbrotos to mean something similar to serpant-mortality. The White Rabbit instructed her to drop the artifact but she refused, seeming adamant that it must be delivered.

Soon after the priestesses escorted the adventurers to up the winding path of the cliff and into the upper districts. Along the way they witnessed many grand statues, temples, and a military encampment in front of the largest temple which seemed to be where they were headed. They noticed a girl in the military encampment that like Medeina duktė seemed to have a striking resemblance to Pascal, and while they were passing one of the temples Berothath broke from the group to take her discovery there. Terra instructed her newly named Bočunai, Makar, to do some reconnaissance. He stuck to the shadows rather well before reaching the entrance and supplanting some decor shrubbery to stealthily observe Berothath.

They were greeted at the temple by more priestesses and many other initiates, some old any many new, dozens and dozens of them. The entire walls of the temple were carved with reliefs. The first room which they had entered had several large tables covered with servings of food on platters which the initiates were eating from. Many smaller bowls were filled with grains of sorghum, next to large servings of raw bull meat, cornucopia’s of pomegranate, and unopened barrels of brew. Music could be heard emanating from the room adjacent with some of the most beautiful sounding stringed instruments. As the newest and seemingly least familiar of the initiates they began to look around somewhat confused, and so Medeina told them to enjoy their fellow company with this great feast.

After some suspicion they started to eat, and it was not long before Ducroh noticed that someone was watching them. Out of the many hooded individuals this one seemed to avert his gaze every time Ducroh caught his glace, and soon noticed that his complexion as a fairer shade than most of the initiates. It was soon obvious to him this was Ancidaeus, an old acquaintance of Ducroh’s from his time in the East before the leaving the Eldritch who seemed to have come to haunt him in the Hndherghthom. Ducroh hastened towards Ancidaeus causing him to spring from his seat and turn his back to avoid Ducroh. This perhaps was the time he should have ran. Ducroh called out mocking their surprise meeting, “Ancidaeus!” He only moved faster, attempting to shield his face and exit the building, all while Ducroh taunted him. Ducroh drew an arrow from his palm and lined up a perfect shot. Fed up with these games he let his string loose and the arrow pierced the cowl from his neck, leaving it draped over his chest as he stood bare in shock before the entire feast. With all eyes on Ducroh and Ancidaeus the entire hall went silent.

A lone voice and slow clap broke the silence. A beautiful woman stepped forward from the back of the feast and congratulated Ducroh, “That was quite an amazing shot.” For a moment he reveled in his prowess acknowledged by this most stunning woman. She reminded him of the goddess Freya, the most renown idol of beauty he could think of, and he chose to flatter her with such a comparison only to meet a firm and rather cruel dismissal, insisting that she would only lay with him should she betray all that she ever stood for. She did manage to grace him with her name, Žvoruna, and inquired as to why Ducroh would so readily bring acts of violence into a place as sacred as the temple. Ducroh concisely outed Ancidaeus in front of everyone at the feast, and childishly Ancidaeus attempted to deny everything, wishing people to believe that he had given up on the Eldritch and wanted a new life. Ducroh laughed at his weak guise and left the poor man in a puddle of his own urine. Žvoruna during the conflict fired off two arrows of her own as a warning, taking the momentum out of Ducroh’s assault as they caught the sleeves of both arms perfectly, leaving him only enamored further by this gorgeous and skilled woman. Schrödinger afterwords took Ancidaeus out of the temple to be interrogated, and the music resumed as they joined the feast once more. After eating, one of the priestesses opened up a barrel of brew and one by one walked around, filling a horn with the drink and offering libations to each initiate. Terra, Pascal, and The White Rabbit accepted and soon felt a bit disoriented, when they looked for Ducroh they noticed him chasing visions in the air with his hands grasping wildly. A wave of intoxicated initiates flooded them into the next room as the sounds of music grew louder and louder, crashing against the walls and manifesting as hallucinatory waves within Ducroh’s mind as he recited a sermon to Ashtifer.

In the next room there was a performance theater with a stage where two people sat. One of them was a gorgeous female wearing a laurel and wielding a lyre, tended to by several priestesses. She intermittently contested with a performer sitting on the stool adjacent to her before they were eventually dismissed and another performer would take place in the stool to contest this gorgeous woman. Terra had never heard someone play songs so well, her fingers moving across the strings of the lyre like weaving the fates of the men who she had lulled into the audience from the previous room. Terra wished to contest this woman and asked if it was alright that she sing. She was granted an audience and approached the stage to start her song. It was in their native tongue of the Vaukojkas which she had learned from her master Pascal. The song was greatly appreciated; the audience and the woman herself looked surprised by the impressive knowledge of Vaukojkas by the Vluna. Eventually she was dismissed from the stage like the others, and fearing she had not sung her best, pleaded for another chance to take the stage for just one more song. Soon even she realized that the woman’s song was immaculate, that if she were to take the stage once more it would be an insult to her work, an insult to the others who wished to have a chance dancing with the fates of men being woven by her lyre. A priestess came from the stage and offered Terra an ornate box, inside of which was a magical ring, presumably a reward for impressing the woman who commanded the theater.

Eventually the performers all left and the crowd moved into another room beyond the theater. This room was fairly dark and dim light cast out several forms entwined upon the stage. A priest and young priestess could been seen having intercourse as the initiates stood and watched. Ducroh and Terra knew even in the state of intoxication that this ritual was likely having to do with a connection to their deity and fecundity, and that combined with the other rituals it contained an overarching theme of agriculture. When the priest was finished with the priestess another female took the stage as the lights of the mating display went dark. This priestess set a large seed on top of a pedestal, hoisted a hatchet above her head and cleaved the seed in two, symbolizing the end of life’s cycle preceded by birth and seemingly marking the end of the ceremony. The experienced initiates in the chamber followed the seed’s division with a quiet applause as the ceremony was concluded.

Umbrous Petals Fall to Mulch

For some time everyone walked in the long dark corridor. “What’s your name?” asked Ducroh breaking the silence, " Medeina duktė, " she replied. Pascal and Terra knew her name in Vaukojkas to mean Daughter of the Forest. They continued to express their concerns about entering the city. Medeina assured them that they would be able to leave again if they wanted, but that the fate of Pascal was not up to her. She explained once more that to commune with Despoina they would have to partake in the initiation of their mysteries. Ducroh could not detest this idea further, being told he must participate in the rituals to a god other than the one of truth. Medeina thought the idea of such monotheistic dogma was incongruous, akin to denying that the earth rests below his feet, but reassured him once more that he need only to learn from the ritual, and that the worship of their deities was not required. When they were almost at the end of the corridor, a familiar gust of wind blew from behind through the door which they entered, with Berothath trailing behind them far in the distance.

When they arrived at the other end to the hall, the guards opened a large gate and the bedraggled hounds rushed through the emerging crevice into a large open chamber, even larger than the one which they had came from which surrounded the ceremonial pit. In front of them was a large fountain surrounded by tents and several large buildings, one of which obviously bore the sign of a tavern, and another which looked like a meeting hall. The fountain perplexed all of them and captivated their glaces, only Ducroh could find some small sense of meaning, a tree with three roots that were carved along it’s rim. Before long the rabbit disappeared and Ducroh soon found himself looking at a sopping wet Rabbit, appearing as if he had taken a dive. Beyond the settlement surrounding the fountain torches revealed further into the dim hollow, even larger structures, statues, and pyramids stood peeking over the edge of a cliff which cleaved it’s way through the giant cavern. Medeina conferred with the other Vaukojkas about what they would do with them and ordered several to keep an eye on Pascal. She turned to the adventurers and informed them that they would be back after a meeting with the Despoina, and that they should not leave this chamber.

Since lost in an unfamiliar hole in the ground, they all decided to wander into the local hole-in-the-wall to cure their prolonged sobriety. Eyes glared at them from all around after entering, it did not seem as though many outside of the Vaukojkas would often visit them. Strangely they were able to find one man with pale skin, the barkeep who stood behind the counter. As they approached he shouted praises and offered them drinks, glad to see some people who stood out from the dark shadows which crowded his tavern. Ducroh recognized an accent and after inquiring into his past found out that they had a thing or two in common. His name was Garbhcruoe. Both of them were Fjorðinn and used to live in the east after being driven out by the Eldritch. He had ended up down here after Berothath dragged him up from the well. Garbhcruoe decided to let them all have a night stay on the house. Everyone had a round of drinks except The White Rabbit, who decided on a plate of vegetables after having a bit of fun antagonizing him. Ducroh preached to him the ways of the old, it had been some time for Garbhcruoe since he had heard anything other than the beliefs of the Vaukojkas. He was greatly pleased to have come across a true believer in the traditional Noran texts, and Ducroh transcribed several of his works for the barkeep before he left.

The White Rabbit inquired about a nicer room, and decided on offering him a tigerseye in exchange for the use of his crafting tools during his stay. Ducroh, Pascal, and Terra headed outside. Schrödinger was enamored with the misty retreat of the fountain, he bathed in it and Pascal watched as his child sang praises to the waves cast by his playful dance. Terra was determined to find out more about what was going on, and started to scout out the rest of the settlement, noting several positions where the guards were stationed. A group of them near the meeting hall seemed to be rather talkative compared to the others so she snuck a bit closer to catch more of what they were saying, but they seemed to perceive the feline skulking. Terra moved around the building into the darkness, expecting her Bočunas to follow at a safe distance. She turned the corner into the darkness and began to prowl… after several steps she heard the Bočunas call out to her, “Master!”

Everything went black for a moment, and the Vluna started to feel dizzy. When Terra looked down at her chest she could see a splitting gash drawn all the way up towards her neck, blood dripping profusely down her arms as she attempted to hold the wound. A dark figure in a cloak ran back into the shadows and she lost sight, howling for the guards with her feline cries. Ducroh’s ears perked up as the shrill meows pierced through the darkness. He ran to Terra’s aid with several guards and they ran into the darkness where Terra pointed out his route. Terra looked at the ground and noticed that he seemed to have dropped something, a flower. Ducroh quickly caught some tracks, they were strange, as if someone was dragging brush; he drew several arrows into his hand and cautiously proceeded into the blackness of the cavern. Moments later he found an arm leaping from the darkness wrapped around his chest with a stinging sensation soaked into the wound now opened by the masked slayer. Ducroh had not even seen the figure walk right next to him… even the cat could not detect this unknown assailant. He stared into the hood of this warrior and found a hollow guise, the only thing that filled his cloak was coiling wreaths of flowers and vines. Ducroh jumped back and fired a shot at the dark flowers enrobed in cloth. The figure sprinted back to retreat to the darkness of the chasm yet again. Ducroh squinted just as he was about to lose sight and line up another shot, letting it lose into the blackness of the cavern. He had missed, and this thing, whatever it was, had incredible speed.

The guards dragged Terra to the edge of the fountain where there was more light. Her former master Pascal rushed to her side and comforted as much as she with with pets and Schrödinger accompanied with attempts to heal her using slimy licks. Ducroh returned shortly after and informed Terra of what he had seen. She showed him the flower that seemed to have shed from his body, and they were able to identify that this same plant is used as an herbal component to rituals among the western provinces as a dissociative hallucinogen that uniquely acts upon parts of the insular cortex controlling memory regulation which lend towards it’s ability to alter the subjects perception of trust, faith, and belief as well as fear. Ducroh likely believed this to be the workings of the Eldritch, that they had employed an agent for some reason to infiltrate the Hndherghthom in order to stop them; he wished to keep this information as a bargaining chip for now depending on how the initiation towards Despoina went. All of the commotion between the guards seemed to have roused up Medeina from the district above, as she could now be seen returning from the bottom of the winding path which traced the side of the cliff, and hopefully with good news regarding the fate of The Late King.


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