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.