The Dying Sun
And lo, Seshepenmehit struck down another of the hateful creatures. The twisted abomination bore the face of his friend, Haziz, but there the resemblance ended – emaciated, corpselike monsters wrapped in crimson rags and sent screaming across the desert to harry him. Dozens of them lay about his sandaled feet, and he trod them heedless into the sands as they came upon him. The Eye of Ourous blazed in the sky above, burning their bodies to ash as he dealt out his Righteous Vengeance upon these mockeries of his comrade.
A cackling laugh rose above the apparently endless hoard of monstrosities, and Seshepenmehit turned to find himself confronted by the tall, robed figure of a Wazir. The man held in one hand a staff of blackened wood, in the other a dagger with a wickedly-curved blade.
“The end is upon you, Seshepenmehit!” The Wazir screeched, “My servants are as numberless as the sands! The Desert belongs to us! You have failed, and in your failure, you have DOOMED the world!”
“Never, vile warlock!” The proud angel bellowed as he span, the pitiful blows of these mockeries finding no purchase against his wings of glorious light, “In the name of Ourus, I shall defeat you!”
“NEVEEEEEEEEER! You will BEG for death, and before you do, we will take the path to Bhakkus from your mind, PATHETIC warrior of a dying God!”
The insult stoked the flames of Seshepenmehit’s anger even higher. How dare this man insult Ourus so?! The blazing fires of Ourus burst from him in a mighty conflagration, and he beat his wings but once, sending the gathered enemies scattering like dust. His blade cut the impudent fool’s head from his shoulders with a single blow, and his sandals dug deep into the sands as he landed.
As he did, he looked towards the sun, raising his fist high in salute to Ourus, whose strength was mightiest of all the Gods. How could the man claim that he was in any danger?
Except, even as he watched, the sun began to gutter and dim. Shadows lengthened from the collapsing forms of his dying enemies, and Seshepenmehit felt the cold of a desert night for the first time in centuries.
“My servant. You are needed in another place. The future of the Desert will not be decided here. I feel my Brothers and Sisters Under the Mountain struggle, and I must join them, as they joined us so long ago. You, must go to those who still remember their Oaths. I will open a path.”
And the sun, guttering, seemed suddenly to swell and grow, grow until it swallowed the desert and the sands and Seshepenmehit and it all, and he was no more.
Bone Wolves By Night
The fight out of the village is arduous. There are more of those creatures you have dubbed ‘Bone Wolves’ and they are tenacious hunters. At first, they come in groups of two or three, but by the time you are fleeing the village proper, drenched in sweat and blood from your many kills, there are dozens of them. Individually, they are tough but not particularly dangerous compared to the kinds of threats you are used to facing, but in number? They become dangerous indeed.
The sun has completely disappeared by the time you are fleeing cross-country. Harried and haggard, you are not badly injured but the scrapes and bruises that you have incurred only make the chill of the night, and the exhaustion, settle deeper into your bones. Alain proves his worth, though. Despite already being injured and incurring more than his fair share battling the Bone Wolves, he does not complain, does not falter, and leads you through the darkness towards the promise of sanctuary.
It is then that the psionic communication hits you, and you are – briefly – swept up in it. Saxon speaks as plainly as he is able as the spokesperson for your rag-tag group, and then there is that terrible moment when the psionic power of the Hive is broken and shattered, that powerful voice calmly accusing.
“You are outside my sight, but not outside of my comprehension.
You seek to replace me.
To turn my memory into your puppet.
To turn the Daemon Queen into your assassin.
You would bring me low and take my world from me.
But know, now, that You, are in My Keep.”
You feel, then, that you have come to His attention, whoever He may be, and that you are known to Him, though He does not know precisely where you are. It is a discomforting feeling, and one which makes the cold night air seem even cooler in your abused lungs.
And then the sun begins to rise, and you realise the horror of your situation.
It was not the first time that Serbasel and Saxon have had to run all night. Nor was it the first time Xorphia had been up all night, though she usually worked hard to make sure that she didn’t need to spend all her time dashing through the dark with only her own flames to guide her path. It wasn’t dignified, but it had to be done.
It is easy to settle into a rhythm; to just focus on the motion of putting one foot in front of the other. Distant howls and calls in the dark were good motivation to keep on moving, and the focus of the group was definitely on Alain; ensuring that their guide did not leave their sight.
But when the morning sun broke the horizon and painted it in brilliant orange and gold, it illuminated a world with fewer people in it.
Behind them, a huge barrier of undulating greyish matter oozed and pulsed, and of Ling and Gwen there was no sign.
Whatever it is, it doesn’t look good. A roiling wall of the stuff stretched high into the sky, effectively blocking off the path from which they had run. It was perhaps only twenty or so feet behind them, though thankfully it didn’t seem to be moving towards them – not yet at least. The sight of it clearly unnerved Alain, though, who took a deep breath and pointed. Just looking upon it, the gathered souls felt that things had become much less certain with this Grim Matter now present in their world.
“Bugger me.” The gruff man muttered, “Ain’t seen anything like that before. Maybe they’ll know what it is inside. Come on.”
It took a moment to realise what he was talking about, but indeed, up ahead, there was a copse of trees and – when he pushed his way through the underbrush – a cabin at its heart.
From the outside, the cabin didn’t look like much. Saxon knew to expect that this would change shortly, though. As soon as Alain opened the door, the interior of the cabin was shown not to match the modest interior visible through the windows.
The truth of things, for those who knew how to reach it, was a space dedicated to preparation for combat; a veritable stronghold out here where nobody was likely to go looking for it. The illusion made it seem like little more than a woodcutter’s shack. In truth, it was composed of good, solid stone. The kind of fortification that could hold off an enemy force for days if needed.
It was also alive with activity. Men and women of The Oath set about their work, sharpening weapons, fixing armour, packing supplies and – in more than a few cases – applying medical care to the injured.
Alain was immediately greeted by a tall, sturdy-looking woman clad in hard-wearing leathers. “Alain.” She said, smiling, briefly. It fell as soon as she saw you. “And you’ve brought others with you.”
It took some time to explain what had happened, the intervention of the Atonement Office, the defence you had offered. When the debrief is given, she seems more trusting. It is, thankfully, explained over hot drinks and a chance to rest, which helps ease some of the suffering of the night.
“My name is Thania.” She said, finally offering introductions. “It seems like you’ve got the right of it. Something is changing fate. From Alain and I’s perspective, for the better. Where we’re from, we’ve been fighting the King for years. Your people here found a way to get to us and offer aid. Whatever is happening, it’s not all the way done yet. We can send you back. That seems to slow it down. Might even stop it if we can figure a way to stop His Highness. Unless you have a better plan?”
And, suddenly, there was a blinding light. A portal as bright as the sun burned itself into the wall behind the gathered group, and through it stepped Seshmet, who offered a cheerful wave to the familiar faces of Serbasel, Saxon and Xorphia as the portal faded to nothing, leaving only a sunburst symbol burned onto the wall in its wake.
“Hello, my friends! It seems I am just in time, yes?”
|Speak with Thania||Interact||Easy (Please let me know what question(s) specifically you are asking)|
|Move into the Basement||Move||Easy|
|Return and examine the Grim Matter||Move||Medium|
|Examine the Sunburst||Interact||Easy|
|Speak with Other Oathspeople||Interact||Easy|