Rather than continuing to crouch over my long-armed, vicious captive, I straighten up. I try to avoid crouching as much as possible, it weakens the haunches. And I take great pride in my haunches.
“Seems we’re at a bit of an impasse here.”
“Regdar! Kiiiiiiiiiilllll her!”
The phantasmal presence seemed to have no interesting in doing any such thing “Your fear is delicioussss . . . .”
I started searching around the room for anything of interest. “I’ve encountered that same problem. Where do you get loyal hired muscle? You can’t really buy the loyalty of violent murderers because eventually they realize that they can just cut out the middleman, or woman in this case, kill you and take the money. You can get a man or men to fall in love with you but then you can’t really command them, you have to manipulate, which is rife with opportunities for things to go wrong. It’s unreliable is my point – once a man loves you they can start acting crazy. Blackmail works for a while but it too has problems. I think the best solution I’ve realized now is having children.
A while ago I murdered this woman – don’t worry, she had it coming – who had three sons. Dumb as dicks as they were, but they were strong and didn’t mind a little rough business. And most importantly they did whatever she said. She was too stupid and lazy to make any use of them but she had their loyalty to the ends of the earth. I daresay if she had told them to set themselves alight for her warmth on a cold day they would have done it. Sobbing, but they would have done it. Even most bad men love their momma. The problem is of course that’s a strategy that takes a good long while to come to fruition and it comes with the side effect of getting your lower deck ripped in half.”
Ramoisin continued to struggle and almost thrash herself to pieces as I wandered off to check out the rest of the temple. There was a large set of double doors but they were warped and jammed shut – I could hear the sound of running water behind them so perhaps it was for the best. An underground river doesn’t sound like the kind of thing I want to mess about with at all. There was another room filled with discarded clothing – nothing horrifying about that in the least. I can’t say why exactly but seeing a pile of shoes in a place like this is somehow more awful than finding a stack of dead bodies. I suppose the imagination can conjure worse sights than anything you’re can actually see. Or maybe that’s just me.
The next room had me pining for the room of clothes. There was a large cauldron with manacles on the inside. Think about that for a moment. There was a significant stack of gravestones in one corner – I didn’t look at them all by any means but all the ones I could see had had the inscriptions defaced. There was a three paneled brass screen that was engraved with scenes of debauchery of the most foul kind. I didn’t look behind the screen. I didn’t dare. There were yellow and green tapestries on three walls that depicted scenes I couldn’t even comprehend – my eyes couldn’t focus on them and trying made me feel dizzy and nauseated.
Worst of all though, there were two insanely massive iron braziers filled with coal and other vulgar things – black sludge, soot and fragments of bones. Each brazier was easily the size of a large bed. I got out of there as soon as I could. The next room was the only one that seemed like the original construction was mostly intact. Even with cat-vision it was hard to make out because it was either made of some black stone or more likely (based on the amount I almost slipped and broke my ass) were covered with some kind of shiny black vanish. There were gold symbols on the walls and short platforms that don’t seem to serve any purpose – and I mean that literally, the stone was etched and then filled in with gold. If you could gouge all that gold out you’d have a nice little treasure pile.
There was a small ceremonial stairway that lead to nothing – I assume there was an altar or something there at one time. I waited for a moment to see if the unquiet shade of some ancient priest or a manifestation of some old god was going to turn up but there was nothing of the sort. With nothing left to do I returned to the room where I was expecting to find Ramoisin stilled wrapped up tight – and instead found the remnants of my Rope ripped to shreds. Moments later I heard an angry panting/huffing from the darkness. I headed for the path out to the shaft where I came in.
“You know what, I think I’m done here. You can just keep those people, do your ritual and what have you. Good luck with that.”
One of her impossibly long arms shot out of the darkness and her claws ripped me across the belly. The pain was like a bolt of lightning, but what made it worse was the fact that my dress didn’t rip – just the flesh below it. My blood was soaking into the fabric far more than it should have and I noticed that it started changing colors. It was at that moment I realized that wearing the magical dress of a dead fey monster maybe wasn’t the best idea. I ran, I ran like I never have before – the sound of my feet beating on the stone floor was deafening in the quiet. I didn’t hear or see Ramoisin behind me but those arms would loom out of the darkness grasping for me. I managed to avoid one slashing attack but another caught me across the back like a cat’o’nine tails. Despite the pain I didn’t even slow down.
I ran past the shaft which Sir Galfrus had lowered me down and towards the iron bars – I don’t even know why. When I reached them though I was able to slip between them and to the other side – I never would have thought that was possible, willowy though I am. Grotesquely, I think the blood streaming down my body helped me slither through. I stood gasping on the other side as Ramoisin came into view. She was very reluctant to come near the bars but eventually worked up the courage to very carefully try to reach through – even so her impossibly long forearm gazed the metal and she flinched and hissed in pain. Seeing this I grabbed onto her hand and pulled her forward – pressing her bodily up against the bars. She sizzled like she was being held against a cooking pot. I had the leverage but her strength was ten times that I expected from her spindly frame and she ripped herself free from my grasp.
“Yeah, you don’t like that do you? Come on, come get me. Or are you such a pelican-buggering rent-rump that you can’t be bothered?”
Apparently she couldn’t – she paced on the other side of the iron bars. The smart thing to do would be to explore this part of the temple, but funny thing about significant blood loss – it tends to make you a little woozy. Instead I just sat down. Just for a minute, to catch my breath. But it was at this point that the magic of my tattoo conked out for the day leaving me in totally inky darkness.
“Well, this is another fine mess I’ve gotten myself into.”
I heard a new voice – one that was cool and smooth and full of malice – on my side of the gate “Yes, a fine mess indeed.”
Inventory: Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Enchanted Feycloth Dress (Red), 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