Interlude: Wayne Grayson
How long had he been fighting, now?
It felt like a lifetime. Kitsion Dathy had given him the brief; fate was trying to change, the Basin would be ruled by a monster unlike any other, would he stand against it? Why had she even asked the question? There was only ever one outcome.
But this was unlike any battle he had fought before. This wasn’t war against the gangs and criminals who tried to take his streets. It was like the Shadow War, but without the comfort of the Grey Keep or the calming presence of Dazak to keep him grounded. This was everything that the Oath had been forged to fight. The land was ravaged by battle, studded by altars of profane blue stone on which the common folk were urged to willingly give their lives; to sacrifice themselves for the glory of Archibald Urdegrith.
And over it all was that damned pyramid. Red as blood and constantly hovering. That was The Keep of this world; not a Grey structure of solace and remembrance, but a Red monument to the suffering that this world had endured.
He had good people by his side, though. Nichye Velley, Tondbald Gromes and Abeth Byne. Once he had stepped through the great golden portal to reinforce the Oath in this timeline, they had met him, and he had been impressed by their spirit – even if their skills lacked the refinement that he had honed.
Magic was out of the question here. It was, he had been told, controlled entirely by Archibald. They hadn’t had time to discuss every detail of the horrors he had unleashed upon the world, but it had meant that Wayne was valued as much for his ability to instruct the others in his stealthy arts as he was in his own right. With him backing them up, they had been able to stay one step ahead of the traps laid for them by Archibald’s forces. He knew what to look for, the tell-tale signs that an area was being observed or that a trap had been set. When they did fight, it was on their terms, and the forces of ‘The Saviour’ had suffered greatly as a result.
Had it been two weeks? Three? Four? It was hard to say, but Wayne was starting to tire. It was only natural. He was just one man, and perhaps it was that fatigue which had gotten them into this situation. Or perhaps it was only a matter of time before the enemy caught them.
The building to his left exploded in a fireball of catastrophic proportions and he flung himself to the side. Too late, though, to save Tondbald. The ageing Kalashinka had barely enough time to scream as the debris engulfed him, and Wayne swore as he rolled away from the sizzling heat.
Nichye had his back. The stern Tzi-Tzain woman hauled him up to his feet and, simultaneously, parried the blow from the stony-faced Atonement Officer who had been trying to strike him before he could regain his balance. They were surrounded, and there were no proclamations; no dramatic speeches. Just dour figures clad in chain and red leather, wielding those damned maces and shields with brutal, mechanical efficiency.
Wayne knew, better than most, that there was a time for planning and a time for instinct. Now, he moved amongst his enemy with a grim determination. They had been outmanoeuvred, and even if he couldn’t see a plan to get himself out, he could rely on his instinct to keep him alive, one second to the next, and maybe that would be enough.
One Officer fell to his blades, and then another. Their caster shrieked in disbelief as a knife sprouted from his eye and he fell backwards, clutching at it. Nichye was his shield, and he was her blade. It wasn’t easy. Gods above, was anything easy these days? But she made sure the baleful energies leashed in those abominable maces did not touch him, and he struck them down one after the other, finding the tiny flaws in their defensive posturing. If they hoped they could wear him down, they would-
Behind him, there was the distinctive crackle-BURN of mace connecting with flesh, and he felt Nichye stumble. Her shoulder was a ruin of mangled meat and bone, made useless by that disgusting power. She tried to rise. The Officer she fought brought the weapon down again.
The impact of it knocked his sword from his numbing grip, and pain unlike anything he had felt before exploded in his back. He hit her hard, and they both went to the ground in a tangle of screaming limbs.
Above, the shadows closed in around them. Everyone knew that there was nothing the Atonement Office enjoyed more than bringing in one of the Oath alive. He would not let it happen.
As he rose, dagger replacing sword, he fancied he heard Nichye’s whispered words, though surely that must have been impossible over the growing din of maces crashing into shields.
“We are blessed, by the coldest fear.”
There was still Abeth, though. Abeth would get away. They young man had good legs on him, and looked too young to be a threat. That was why Wayne had given him the artefact. So long as he made it back to the safehouse, he could get it back to Kitsion…
The Officers closed in on all sides, maces ablaze. He stood over Nichye, his back already aflame with the lucky shot. If they were going to take them both, he’d make sure it was at a high price.
Questions of Kortanagry
“Why did Tiberius retreat from the battle?”
“Tiberius did not retreat. Tiberius fought as long and hard as he could, and The Saviour was so impressed by his tenacity that he allowed Tiberius to live when the battle was done. He serves as The Squire to The Saviour; his followers are sent forth to crush the unrestful dead of Notelexus and he is sworn to capture his wayward brother and drag him before The Saviour in chains.”
“What can you tell us of The Devourer and The Kraken?”
“To my knowledge, both are destroyed. The Devourer by the hand of The Saviour, though none witnessed that battle. The Kraken by The Lady of the Keep as part of her atonement.”
A Land of Milk and Honey
Together, the group stepped through the great iron gates and passed into the Heavens.
As they went, Kortanagry resumed his position, replaced his helmet, and the souls that had waited in judgement began to return. Though he did not turn to see them leave, they could feel the palpable sense of approval which flowed from him; a recognition of their efforts and judgement given that they could move on to the promised afterlife, even though none of them were dead.
When they passed beyond the gates, they found themselves in a great hall filled with laughter, merriment and fine music – music which, to each of them, sounded as pleasing as possible. For Seshmet, it was the bright brasses and triumphant notes of Ourus. For Xorphia, the piping flutes and gentle strings of her caravan. For Serbasel, the chorused voices of the Halls of Justice.
They were greeted by a woman in flowing, bright colours who smiled easily to them and gave to each a stein filled with their favourite drink. “Greetings, weary travellers.” She said, voice all cheer and light, her . “You have found your way to the Halls of Pleasure. My name is Marparaha, and I am most pleased to welcome you to your deserved rest. Would you like to join the feast? Or perhaps you would prefer the tables of fortune? Any delight or pleasure you can imagine, it is my duty to provide for you.”
Though even as she said this, in the shadowed corner behind her, another figure made himself known. Wayne Greyson lifted his hand to greet them.
|Action||Type||Fate Point Cost|
|Talk to Marparaha||Interact||4|
|Eat Drink and Be Merry||Interact||3 per person|
|Listen to the Music||Interact||4 per person|
|Go Gambling||Interact||4 per person|
|Examine the Revellers||Interact||3-10|
|Examine the Hall With Magic||Interact||3-10|
|Examine the Hall With Mundane Skills||Interact||4|
|Leave the Hall (North)||Move||2+1 per person|
|Leave the Hall (East)||Move||2+1 per person|
|Leave the Halls (South)||Move||2+1 per person|
|Leave the Halls (West)||Move||2+1 per person|