A Ruthless Frontier 6.2: Fate and Betrayal

“What do you call a Kasillian tomb, not yet plundered by the order, or some wandering tribe of tabaxi? Easy. You call it easy.”

                                                                Lady Areia, Urchin of Far Realm

 

“There are others!” Shouted Theros.  “Wait. No, there are statues. Three of them. And there is more.”

“What more?” called Gerrell from above.

“I think the captain has come this way.”

“How do you know?”

“I think you should come down here,” said Theros.

Ares looked up at Gerrell, and he lifted him off his shoulders.  Casting a levitation spell, the two drifted down into the shaft as feathers would.  The shaft ended some 100 feet below the surface platform. It was dark, and dry, and the smell of a coppery blood met their nostrils immediately.

Theros was squatted a few yards before them, down a horizontal tunnel that opened into a small yet brilliantly lit chamber.  The ceiling was domed and inside, past the ranger, they could see the three statues he had first found.

The sorcerer and the wizard past the ranger carefully. First, a spell from Gerrell to detect magic in this place.  As above, the entirety lit up in a bright hue of emerald green which made the gnome groan inwardly.  He had never seen such an effect and reasoned no doubt that this invitation, was as much an invitation as a dire bear would invite a lost Celn in the woods to dinner.

Gerrell stumbled carefully as he could before the three statues.  As always, his left leg turned in at the knee, but he found his balance and took in the statues Theros had earlier described.  They were indeed eerie, if not altogether familiar. Gerrell knew them as the three fates, and told the others of them.  “In my world, the fates dictate the passage of time.  Here, on the left, we have Atropos, she who keeps the cycle of life and death.” He pointed his little hand at the lady robed, portrayed in stone as a seductress beckoning the onlooker towards her. So lifelike was it that the others dared not look too long.  “In the center, Clothos, she who keeps one’s survival instinct. Without it, life ends, it is Clothos who dictates the time allowed to each soul in the dark of my world.” They stared at the middle statue. Whoever the artist had been, had depicted a woman clawing the ground, a sort of fear seemed to be spread across her face, her eyes tilted backward at some unknown enemy.  And yet, all the while, their could be no doubt that there was another look there, upon her lips in the way they curved upward not down, as if she knew that it was she were toying with whatever was chasing her.

“Finally, there is mighty Devronin. She of anger, of hatred.” This statue, the largest of the three on the right was indeed just as described. For it featured a woman, armed for battle with sword and axe.  Below her, the heads of her enemies lay stacked upon each other as a pedestal. Their eyes full of fear still. “It is Devronin who dictates the passage of time from conqueror to the conquest, an endless cycle of power.  To Devronin we give thanks to that which is made new, a cycle of rebirth that cleanses the weak.”

“You sound like you are from a pretty fucked up place, gnome,” said Theros.  He stepped forward and studied each more carefully, finding something laid at the base of each statue. In front of the statue that Gerrell had called Atropos he saw a bowl, filled with the petals of a sweet smelling flower. Clearly, this was placed here only recently and was certainly not of the sands. “This, is Iggwilv.  She is the first traitor.  She of greed, of lust.  She took from the ancients their power of generosity, to share collectively. And betrayed that aspect of mankind to greed, to lust, darkening the spirit of goodly folk forever more.” He then walked to the second statue and spat before it. The silent stare and upturned eyes of Clothos remained unblinking.  “And this,” spat the ranger, “This betrayer of man, took from us our once universal spirit of cooperation.  What brought all goodly races together at the tree of enlightenment.  Now, condemned we are to walk in envy, to fear each other, to be alone.” At the feet of this statue lay another bowl, and in it a single ring, a ring with a finger, whose bloody stump ended in white bone and bleeding flesh.

As they watched, Theros moved to the last statue, and spoke in their direction. His face was lit by his torch, still burning on it’s side upon the stones at their feet. He was serious, as though teaching a lesson, or repeating one he himself held in regard. It was obvious he thought of this as fact, not myth.

“Finally, there is hatred, wrath. The last of the traitors, the bitch of them all.” His face snarled, as though this statue before him had personally wounded him. “She who would deny our own compassion, our own peace, and fill mankind with fury. She who is the inspiration to war, who led the forces of darkness to battle against our goodly kin, and nearly annihilated us.” They all looked then to the piles of skulls, the decapitated heads below her feet, and in it lay a heart, in a pool of blood. Beside the bowl, trundled upon the stones was a body, that of the first mate, Scoot.  His feathers were scattered around him, and a bloodied mess pooled underneath from the gaping hole in his chest.

“No invitation comes freely,” said Theros. His eyes pierced through the dim light of the torch.  “The captain paid for his with his good friend and mate of some years. And who knows what else. Wherever he now is, beyond this chamber somehow, he has sacrificed that which the traitors would ask us to do as well.  That which they took from mankind.

“Who will now pay the price?”

 

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