After a long and cold night hanging out under the South Tier Bridge, Cinder, Mana and I woke up with frozen bones and chattering teeth. Mana seemed the worse for wear, but my back from the earlier Z’Bri encounter a few weeks ago was not healing well with all this activity.
We found our way back into Hom that morning, with sore aching muscles accompanied with weary minds. At the Bin, we met up with Chigger, who apparently had a very comfortable night at Junks sleeping beside the hearth in the back kitchen. She spoke at a klick a minute and we had to pay real close attention to get any of what she said. She told us she came down the bridge last night and spoke to Barber who then led her quickly to the Sepulcher. The home of Veruka the Wraith.
She described it as being very dark and gloomy inside with halls and passages made from the shelves and ritual artifacts strewn about. The walls seemed to watch your every movement, the air thick with incense and the scent of powerful herbs. Barber stayed back, while Chigger went through a threshold into a circular room, candles and torches casting ominous shadows. The Wraith was within, covering a body that lay on a cold stone table. Chigger being Chigger just stood there despite the grisly surroundings. Chigger spilled the entire story of the attack and after she was done, the Wraith told her we had done well. That we were destined for great things. That Chigger could have died in the melee had she not been a dreamer and denied fate her chance to seize her soul. Chigger also said the Wraith told her that no matter what we were to do, our next course of action was bound to succeed.
We forgot all about our sniffly and tired bodies after Chiggers’ uplifting story. Speaking all at once, we each decided what we were going to do next. Were we going to either take on the Z’Bri in the Hive, or go on a trip, or go kill the evil Watch Captain in charge of the slayings. After some deliberation ( about ten seconds ) we decided to do all of the above. We would take out the Watch, go storm a Z’Bri stronghold and then take a relaxing vacation somewhere. We were on top of the world. . . Veruka the Wraith said so. We were invincible.
Monday morning and the sun is casting an ambient glow upon the land. Things were looking good. We met up with Bastion, Euramali and Darius, but Slash didn’t show up. I guess she didn’t want to go destroy the hive so bad after all. Our trek through the Tribal lands was uneventful and we didn’t draw any unwanted attention from passing patrols or merchants on their way to Bazaar.
At Bazaar we showed our two new companions where the attack on the Fallen couple took place. They asked us a wave of questions and we answered as best we could. They asked again if we would remember the Captains face. We said yes. Then Darius told us he knew where the Watch Barracks and TheraSheban Building was. We would scout it out and see if any of us recognized the Captain based off of her description Cinder told us.
The area they led us to had a large group of buildings surrounded and drowned in forest on the south-east of the great hill and north of Bazaar proper. There were Joanites and TheraShebans everywhere. Lectures to students, training at arms, merchants seeking trade medallions for the weeks business ; all these things and more were taking place. A derelict building allowed us safety from watching eyes but still gained a perfect vantage to the main buildings entrance.
After watching for about an hour Darius said some of us should go in. Cinder disguised Mana, Darius, Bastion and herself while Euramali, Chigger and myself would stay behind. A quarter movement of the sun was all the time we would allow them. Any longer and we knew something was wrong. So with that as the plan they entered the maw of the dragon, while we watched the Watch. Half a turn of the sun passed and Euramali said we should take a quick check in the main hall and then leave to rendezvous with them later if they get out.
We were idiots and fools. Lured and guided into the trap by people we didn’t even know. The second we entered the main hall a troop of Joanites surrounded us and Euramali gave orders to lock us up with the others. There was nothing we could do.
Bastion and I awoke with the effects of some drug already within our system. My legs and arms felt heavy, my head pounding, vision blurred and shifting. I could make out Cinder, Chigger and Mana and the forms of some large imposing people standing between us. The girls were strapped to large chairs and metal rusted instruments were laid out on a white clothed stand.
Someone spoke and said, ” You witnessed something you shouldn’t have soulless. Now you will see, my dears, first hand what you sought to uncover. Fallen cannot have children. Euramali, begin the scarring ritual.”
The figures then left the room dragging Bastion and I with them. As we were shoved down the hall, I heard Mana start to scream.
I don’t know how long we were in a cell, but I saw someone come to the gate. It was Cinder and she looked okay. She screamed at me to wake Bastion and they tried to free the bars, but to no avail. Bastion told us to step back and then grabbed the bars and snapped them! He has some strange tricks that boy. As we filtered into the tight labyrinth like corridors I saw Slash at the far side.
Bastion went over to Mana who was lying in the junction and lifted her effortlessly over his shoulder. I’ve heard of people becoming stronger under pressure but this was ridiculous. Mana was covered in blood and I figured that they had gotten to her before Slash came to the rescue. Slash told us she followed us because she didn’t know who we were with, but that she suspected Euramali of being a TheraSheban.
Continuing in haste we ascended several flights of stairs and came to balcony that had a rope hanging from it. We descended in a hurry, but Chigger fell due to the drugs they had administered earlier. She was alive but hurt fairly bad
A fast flowing stream was our only escape and if we could cross it and get into the dense forest on the other side we would be safe. Arrows and spears spat at us from the tower behind and some of us almost drowned trying to swim across. On the other side Bastion said we should split up. Him and I would seek medicinal aid for Mana and the others would seek some clothes and food. Our rendezvous would be the fountain that we went to after the Hive quest. I don’t really know what happened after that. I suppose the drugs we were given made everything a blur. I remember seeing the girls faces and I remember feeling a surge of violence in me after being severely beaten. I remember Chigger and blood and that she was under me and screaming to be let go. I’m not sure if these are hallucinatory dreams or reality.
I’m awake now. I’m lying in a bed in the Temple on Hom. I can’t see out of my right eye and my arm is broken. I have stitches all over my body, holding closed numerous wounds I don’t recall getting. My left hand is shattered and I can’t feel my feet. The only thought in my head before I fall into The River of Dream is this . . . ‘Veruka the Wraith is a liar.’