Who builds a temple underground? That’s what I want to know. Sir Galfrus said that the Nekharu lived underground but seriously what was their issue? The initial chamber was circular in a twenty foot diameter and had three passageways leading off like spokes on a wheel without enough spokes. Even with my cat vision is was very hard to see – I was annoyed thinking about how long I carried about those candlrods and never used them and now I’m left fumbling around in the dark. I initially started down the eastward passage but I saw that after only forty feet it was collapsed. Next I started down the south passageway but after forty feet it was blocked off with iron bars – not like a portcullis, they appeared to be built into the floor and ceiling. Isn’t this ruin supposed to be thousands of years old? Shouldn’t this be rusted away?
There was a large chamber beyond the bars but I couldn’t make out anything in it. So westward it was. After only a few feet there was a staircase – well, not really a staircase, just five stairs really – that lead to a long L-shaped corridor with seven chambers all in a row. They were small, cell-like, and each had a person laying on the floor still as death. One of them was Erza. Another was the farmer’s wife. Who the Hells knows who the other five are. There were no doors, or maybe there were but they were invisible? Why would anyone make an invisible door? Point is I couldn’t reach them due to some magical force.
Two other small stairwells led down from the L into a large chamber (the south passageway I didn’t take would have lead here also) that rather disturbingly had four spaces where the stone of the walls had collapsed leaving piles of dirt that had been pushed in. But by what? I have to be at least sixty feet down, there would be to tree roots down here would there be? Maybe it was just the weight of the earth? I’m no engineer. It took me a few moments to realize that I was not alone. All I could make out was long dark coat and a wide black hat – I attributed it to the gloom but somehow I knew that I wouldn’t see more of this fellow even if I was looking at him in the light of the noonday sun.
“I take it you’re Redgar then?”
One thing I did see clearly then, his teeth – they almost seemed to shine with their own light in the darkness – far too many and far too sharp. His voice reminded me of the hiss of water falling into a fire, not exactly menacing but not very pleasant either.
“You’re very brave to come down here.”
“Yes, I’m quite the hero, don’t make too much of it though because I’m very humble as well.”
“Down, down, down . . .”
“Uh, yeah. So anyway Redgar, that is you right? Anyway, I came to rescue those people back there. So how do we do this? Do we have a riddle contest? Or do I have to promise you my firstborn? I already guessed your name so are we good? What’s the protocol?”
Even though I couldn’t really see him I could feel him crowing close to me. “I can’t read you. Your thoughts, they’re hidden from me.”
“Yes well, it’s not polite to just go about spewing thoughts everywhere.”
I had the sense of something reaching out to touch me but I felt nothing and all I saw were the teeth, looming over me. “You don’t flinch.”
“I assure you, I’m a world champion flincher. When there’s something to be afraid of, do you know where I could find someone scary?”
Once when the Duke wanted to “slum it” we went to a tavern on the edge of the Coin district. There the Duke and his cronies, poorly disguised, antagonized two men into a knife-fight. After a lot of dancing around and shouting one man stabbed the other three times in the stomach. Each time the knife went in he made a strange breathless “uht” sound. Redgar made the same sound but I knew that it was his version of laughter.
“There’s much to be afraid of.”
I felt a strange pressure on my chest “I’m sure that there is. I’d love to chat with you all day Redgar but sadly I have a lot on my schedule today so can we get to the main event here? What do I need to do to rescue these folks?”
I didn’t see anything but the teeth disappeared and I could sense him beckoning me. He led me through a door, down another small stairwell and down a long passage way – I swear I could hear water rushing by through the stones. As we walked I could hear his voice right by my ear.
“What’s your worst fear?”
“Being wealthy and powerful and living a long and happy life.”
More uht-uht-uht “laughing”. Eventually we came into a rectangular chamber that looks like it was a shrine of some sort back in the day – now it was just piles of rubble. I could just make out some of the few less damaged carvings on the wall – elaborately robed humanoid figures with the heads of foxes or jackals maybe. Sitting on a large pile of rubble was a creature that looked like a hairless elf with arms three times the normal length ending in ugly ragged claws. Even though it was clearly female, being nude and all, it seemed somehow genderless.
“Is this what you do? Sit around in the dark on a pile of rocks? I guess if you’re immortal you try everything eventually.”
Her voice was deep and masculine, with a hint of phlegm. “Why do you bother me?”
“You had your man, here, are you a man Redgar? You had your friend here kidnap some people, I want them back.”
“We were working on a play together, opening night is next week and the understudies are dreadful.”
Her voice turned into a wildly ear-shattering shriek “LIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!”
“Yikes. Take it down a notch. Why does it matter? I want them so what are we going to do?”
“They’re mine. I made them. They are my seed.”
“Erza said something like that might be the case. First of all you look great for having seven kids – there’s not an ounce of fat on you. Honestly you’re a little too skinny. Secondly, and I mean no offense here, how did you convince anyone to, you know . . .”
“I have many forms.”
“Would you mind switching to one of the other ones? It’s a dark in here and all but I can clearly see your snatch and it’s kind of throwing me off.”
“How about THIS FORM!!!!!!!” In a flash she mirrored my own appearance.
“Oi, is that what I look like in this dress? I have got to do something about this, I know it’s magic and all but this is just not a good color for me.”
“WHAT ABOUT THIS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” She rapidly aged before my eyes, turning into an imaginary version of me forty years older.
“Come on, please, inside voice, inside voice. That’s fine. So what do I need to do here to get these people out of here and back to their lives?”
She pointed with a freakishly long boney old claw-hand “Fight Redgar to the death!”
“I’m not much of a fighter. How about the two of us have a sing off and Redgar can be the judge?”
“Good Gods lady you’re going to shatter my eardrums if you don’t lose your voice first.”
“They are mine! I made them and I need them! I planted the seeds twenty years ago and when the moon is full I shall harvest the power!”
“Aren’t you immortal? What’s twenty years to you? Name your price for these folks and then you can just start again – then twenty years from now have the power and the thing you name. You’re not going to find a better deal than that are you? Back me up here Redgar.”
A queer susurrus came from his general direction “That is a pretty good deal.”
Ramoisin’s face split into a wide smile – and I mean that literally, her face came apart like a sliced orange. Her teeth were as crooked, ragged, and dirty as Redgar’s were glistening white perfection. “A price yes.”
I waited for a moment “So what’s your price? My voice? Something with a spinning wheel, I forget exactly how that one goes.”
“Truth, give me the truth!”
“THE truth. The price is THE truth!!!”
“Seriously lady calm down, I’m right here there’s no need to shout. The truth huh? Let’s see, love is fickle, hate is eternal. That’s a good one. Um. . . . oh Hells, nuts to this.”
I grabbed my Rope off my shoulder and flung it at her – it flared out and wrapped her up tight as you like. She returned to her normal spindly form and strained so hard against the ropes that I thought she was going to break her limbs. And the screaming – I thought she was loud before. I had to cover my ears for a few moments but eventually she quieted down, although she continued to struggle mightily. I took out my dagger and knelt beside her.
“Alright I guess it’s this kind of negotiation now. Let those people go or I’ll carve your heart out.”
She chuckled, a sound like dry leaves crumbling “Your blade can’t harm me!”
“Oh yeah” I tried to stick her in the side and the blade deflected off as if she was made of iron. “Oh no . . .”
Inventory: Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Rope of Entanglement, Enchanted Feycloth Dress (Green), Light Crossbow
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince
Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle
the butler , Alice Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire
Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror,
Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe,
Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family,
Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale
Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna
Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee, Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer,
Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin