We find our heroes, Grash and Jalana, cleaning their weapons of the blood of the cultists, the Servants of Slaanesh. They’re weary yet invigorated by the previous days events, they loot the bodies, and find a note advising them that the guard that they had ‘taken care of’ was a menial contact of the ‘Resplendent Lord’ in the city, and that this lord is also a servant of Slaanesh. Who this Slaanesh is they do not know, as all the contacts that could have told them something have since been forcefully removed from the world of the living.
They made their way back to the city, passing through the northern gates along with the small stream of visiting merchants, farmers bringing their wares to the markets and the common folk going about their mundane existence.
As they brought themselves back to The Skewered Goose, they sat themselves down at one of two tables by the unlit fireplace. As they stretched their muscles and recounted the day, they brought out the scrap of fabric they found on the cultists body. After reading the gibberish inscribed, which seemed to be written on some kind of cured hide, and printed in a dark red ink, they realised they had no idea what they were trying to read.
After some time, and a brandy or two, Grash asked Djymmi to have a look at the writing. After a few laughs and a frown, Djymmi advised that the man in question, the Resplendent Lord, was more than likely none other than the mayor of the town, H’amaas; a plump and overbearing Dragun-Borne that had been ruling since he came to power a few decades ago. He advised that the mayor frequented the temple of Tyr; God of Justice, in the temple district of Masalan. This was good news, as this was but a short walk for the two of them, and they could have a talk with this mayor and see why he was referenced by these troublesome cultists.
The two of them got their gear together, checked their weapons and, with a last gulp of brandy, set out into the street in search of the Temple of Tyr.
As they stood outside The Skewered Goose, and pondered just where the temple may be (there were dozens of them within eyesight), Grash saw a small child walking past. Grash pulled the child to him by the scruff off her neck, pulled out a gold coin and put it in the child’s face.
“Where” he asked quite firmly “Is the temple of Tyr?”
Jalana couldn’t tell if the child was more horrified by the sudden outburst of violence or the gleaming gold coin being offered to her. Obviously the child was not exactly well off, and by the looks of her tattered clothes and parcels she was carrying, she looked like some kind of courier.
“Sir…I…the temple…it’s with all the other ones of the ”/wikis/ag-tos-" class=“wiki-page-link”> Ag Tosú gods…just around the corner… over there" replied the shaking and terrified child whilst pointing to a section of the temple district that contained still a number of unrecognisable temples.
“Good girl” replied Grash, and with that pocketed the gold coin and shoved the child away. The girl fell and dropped the packages she was carrying, and after a brief moment to get herself together, stood up and ran away crying.
Jalana looked on indifferently as this transpired, knowing that interrupting Grash when he was in his ‘information gathering’ mood was not a good idea. They made their way in the direction of where the urchin had pointed and found a throng of people and a veritable smorgasbord of temples to choose from. As they all looked the same, they had no idea which was the temple of Tyr, or even what they’d do once they got there.
They wandered about and decided they’d enter one and ask the worshipers inside if they knew which was Tyr’s temple. They saw a relatively mundane temple that didn’t have too many people coming in and out, so they decided to start there. They weren’t stopped by anyone when entering and once past the threshold they found that they had entered a temple that had a very lax dress code. Almost all of the worshipers and priests were minimally clothed and did not seem to be in a hurry to do much of anything. There were more than the usual amount of braziers about the walls and a few hanging from the ceiling, almost all of them spewing more smoke than any temple Grash had been in before. As Jalana had never been to a temple before, she didn’t have anything to really compare it to, and explained her new-found building euphoria to the feeling of divine presence.
After a few conversations that didn’t really get them anywhere and a few offers of sweets and a sit on their comfy lounges, they decided that they weren’t really getting anywhere and left.
“Well, that was an experience that I won’t forget in a hurry!” exclaimed Jalana. “The stories are true, I could feel something in there, like my spirit was traveling through the planes of…”
“Quiet girl, you were drugged. Be still and take large breaths, you’ll be fine in a minute.” explained Grash. “We’re not going to find this place by going door to door, I’ll need a hand.”
As they cleared their heads a man that seemed down on his luck came up to them. Dressed in grey rags he beseeches them for a few coins. “Please, good lords, may I beg of you a moment of your time?”
Grash looked the man up and down and snorted, “Ask not for our hard earned coin, old man, and be happy that I don’t take your rags too. Now tell me, where is the temple of Tyr? And no funny business.” he asked, menacingly.
The old man did not seem intimidated by Grash’s rashly spoken words, instead he smiled “Of course, good sir, and madam, please forgive my intrusion.” He swept his arm up and with it the ragged cloak, blocking the sight of the eastern end of the temples from their eyes. As he lowered his arm, he pointed at a temple nestled in between another two, slightly back from the other temples. “That is the temple you seek, brave hero. It is there that you will be handed the knowledge that you seek.”
Grash looked at the man with a stony face, dismissed his theatrics as that of one who was addled in the brain, and turned to Jalana questioningly.
“Well” she said to him. “I suppose we have found our temple. Let us go and see if we can find out more about this pampered mayor, and maybe we can end this silly chase of the wildest of geese.”
Grash breathed quietly our of his nostrils, “Wild goose, indeed.” he muttered to himself as they both turned towards the temple of Tyr. When they arrived at the steps they noticed no guards or priests proselytizing at the entrance. They made their way inside and immediately realised that they were in a vastly larger temple than the previous one. The walls were set back much further than one would think from looking at the place from outside. The coals in the braziers were unlit and there was no light beyond first few meters into the temple. Smooth stone under their feet was the only thing that they knew as they moved further into the temple.
As they turned around to go back outside and check if this was in fact a temple, a man emerged from the darkness, as if he was liquid smoke, being poured from a rent in the air. “Hello, travellers. Far have you journeyed to be here. How is that we can help you?”
At his softly spoken words Jalana raised her hand behind her shoulder to put her hand on her spear, and when she saw no immediate threat lowered her hand. “We are looking for someone.” she said, hesitantly.
The man, wearing a robe and with both hands tucked into the opposite sleeve, looked them up and down. His head was shaved but for a tail of hair on the nape of his neck, tied into a braid. “Aren’t we all.” he replied, smiling.
There was silence between them.
“We are looking for a man known as the ‘Pampered Lord’, we have been lead to believe that he is the mayor of this town, and that he frequents this,” she looked around, seemingly unsure of herself “…temple.”
“I know of no such man, we do not use names here. Let me ask you, why do you accompany this creature?” the man asked, turning his gaze to look at Grash. “This one, born of the red Draguns, there is much uncertainty about him.”
The man began to walk, slowly circling them both keeping his hand folded in his robe in front of him, assessing them both. “Do you not wonder, will it cut your throat in the night? Or will it protect you to the end of your days? Will it wonder at it’s own potential? Do you wonder at yours?”
Grash clenched his fists, “It wonders at your lack of manners, and the softness of your belly, and how quickly my dagger could find a soft spot in the hollow of your throat.”
The man laughed and stopped circling them, apparently happy with his assessment. “You do not have the right to speak to us like this, Dragun-borne. You are the one that is getting…out of hand.”
Jalana took a step forward, “You have no idea who you’re speaking to, you will end your nonsense and if you have nothing to give us, we will take our leave” and to Grash she said “Come, we will take our leave.”
As she turned to leave the man whispered to her “We’re glad to see you go, scale-cock…”
Before Jalana could even question what that meant Grash launched forwards with a fist aimed directly at the man’s face, with his other hand going for one of his knives. Grash’s fist missed the man’s face by an inch, the man then wheeled about and launched a flurry of elbows and knees at Grash, who was no novice at tavern brawls and deftly avoided the bulk of them. In no more than the time that it takes to inhale and exhale, the man was on his back looking up at Grash standing over him with his dagger in hand.
The man raised his hands in defeat, and still smiling said “You are faster than you look, Grash” and looking at Jalana “I hope for your sake that he doesn’t decide to slit your throat in your sleep, as you will surely have no time for your last prayer.” He stood and wiped the dust from his robe.
Grash could see the man had learned his lesson, and as such lowered his hands. “Tell us, now. Where is the mayor, and why is he sought by the servants of Slaanesh.”
There was no surprise in the man’s eyes as he spoke, only a smile on his face.
“You will find what you seek in there.”, he pointed to a large hole but a few feet from them. Neither Jalana nor Grash noted it being there earlier.
As they looked at the hole, and back to the man, they realised he was gone.
“I understand now the frustration some feel when they deal with these simpering priests.” noted Jalana, as she moved towards the hole and peered down it.
“Hmm.” replied Grash, as he too moved to the hole to see what he could see.
They peered down and saw naught but blackness, there was no sound, no light and no smell to either of their noses. “This is strange” said Jalana “It would seem he wants us to trust him and jump down this hole. Well, if he thinks we are fools then let him continue thinking it. We’re wasting our time here, let us find another god-house to bother.”
As she turned to go she found Grash immediately behind her. “Sorry girl, we can’t go just yet.” and with a smile he pushed her backwards into the hole.
With a curse Jalana tumbled backwards and was swallowed by the darkness with Grash jumping in almost immediately after.
They tumbled through liquid time and space, feeling a tugging at all parts of their being, not a fall but more of a shift sideways. After what could have been seconds, days, or years, they found themselves hurled into what looked to be a crypt surrounded by bones and dust.
After they got themselves together Jalana turned to Grash and slapped him hard across his face, he was too dazed to react in time, and promptly took another on the other side. “What is wrong with you, you maniac!” she yelled at him whilst getting ready to continue her attack.
“Jalana! Listen to me, I just had a feeling, I knew that we had to do it, and I knew that you wouldn’t have done it had you left the temple. I’m sorry, but this was the only way. Our answers are here. I feel it, like I’m being drawn here.” he said, with a hint of apology in his voice.
Jalana lowered her hands, and took stock of the situation. Looking around she saw that she was actually okay, and that they were unharmed. Maybe he was right, and that this was what they were supposed to be doing. With so little direction recently, it was actually relieving to have some idea of what they had to do, even if it was just ‘a feeling’.
“Well, I guess we go this way” she said as they began moving towards the only tunnel leading from the room.
As they moved off the pile of bones they began to walk towards the tunnel, weary of all around them. Quietly, they heard behind them the sounds of rustling and clinking. As they both turned they found two fully formed skeletons, with weapons in their hands, who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
You….who are…lost…You….who are….now found……we cannot let you give him what he needs….we guard this temple by decree of those who came before….you will not give him the key to freedom…he will….stay on his prison…
The two skeletons seemed ancient, and their armour was nothing that Grash or Jalana had ever seen. They carried blades that had all but rusted and their armour was tatters of steel and hide. As they approached the two leapt immediately, already on edge, and dispatched them almost with ease. As the two ancient guardians fell to pieces at their feet they felt a breath of relief tinged with sadness.
The two adventurers made their way down the only tunnel, its walls covered in undecipherable runes which seemed to glow with an ethereal blue, casting just enough light so that they could make their way without stumbling. After only 20 yards or so, they met another chamber. This was was far larger than the one they appeared in, the caverns ceiling stretching far beyond what little light was given off by the runes on the walls behind them.
They made their way out to the limit of the light, and stopped. Looking about them they could see some of the same runes around the walls, which seemed to be thirty feet away and glowing with the same strange bluish glow. The chamber shaped like a cylinder, with the smooth walls made form some unknown yet very strong looking stone. They looked back to where they had entered, as they’d obviously hit a dead end, however the entrance was gone.
As they watched, the runes started to glow brighter and then dimmer, then brighter again. They bother turned around, back-to-back, and looked about for the next inevitable assault. But none came…
The runes seemed to be disappearing, and what shadows that were in the room began to deepen and flow, like water and smoke through the room and in a swirling around them, there was no sound save for their scuffled footsteps as they tried to see everywhere at once.
“Okay we need to get our of here, and it looks like the only way out is up” advised Grash pointing at the unseen ceiling above their heads.
As he pointed they both felt an immense presence burst into the cavern, stifling them and holding them both in place. They could see nothing but the faint blue glow and the swirling silent shadows, but neither could move, and neither had any idea what was happening.
…aaaaaaaaaah yes. welcome little ones
A voice from nowhere, and behind it a laugh that was nether malicious nor benevolent.
it is good to have some company finally, the two protectors have been little company for such as I for soooooo loooong
Whispers in the dark, again seemingly laughing at the same time, as if the beings voice was made of trickery and cunning.
… I must say…I am impressed that you are here, and happy that we have finally found some so willing to bring me what I need
Neither Jalana nor Grash could speak, and could only stand dumbfounded as Grash had his arm held pointing at the ceiling and Jalana held her spear, ready to defend them against nothing.
…I thank you both….yet…you have disappointed me… you have hurt a servant of mine….but….as long as you cannot ever lay the hand on one of the faithful again, I believe the debt to be paid…
The shadows swirled as the laughter began, and did not stop with the voice, but gained tempo and power. The laughter moved into something else, like a map misleading the user or a statue mimicking and mocking the creator as he carved. As the shadows seemed to enter their eyes and noses all of a sudden they were gone, and with them Grash’s right hand.
They stood in shock, and as the last of the laughter subsided and the weight of the presence lifted they were both able to finally move.
Grash looked down at the bloody stump where his hand had been….and laughed….