Hndherghthom

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.

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