It was a long walk. I made the best of a boring situation, and did a little bit of training on the hike to Nergüi’s place. Backflips, hand springs, lifting and carrying random boulders. I received many strange and confused looks from Nergüi and Piper, but I paid them little thought. Piper eventually pulls me aside, and asks me to tone it down a bit, as Nergüi lives in seclusion, and likely doesn’t want any added attention. Nergüi however, never mentioned anything, so I can only assume he’s fine with a little training now and again.
We arrived at Nergüi’s place in the early evening. It’s a small shack, with a rounded stone fence. It’s not that big, but it looks comfortable. He leads us to a basement filled with barrels of smelly, rotting fruit. Without much detail, he tasks me with washing an empty set of barrels, then mixing the foul smelling concoction with water into said barrels. Supposedly, the final product is to be mixed in with the salt bricks as a binder, though I don’t remember the bricks we made earlier smelling this bad.
I work well into the night, stirring endlessly. At one point Nergüi brings down a pot of mediocre coffee, which is probably the nicest thing I’ve seen the man do since I met him.
During our little coffee break, I mention to Piper about Broken Walls plans to buy a warehouse. Piper was curious as to how much one would cost, but I admitted I had not been there for the negotiations, as Broken Walls did not approve of my attire.
Once again, Piper goes on about how I’m too flashy, and how I’d be better off in simpler clothes. I don’t think he really understands what it means to be a hero. To be out on patrol, and have somebody notice you and scream for your help. That just would not be possible with simple clothes. Nobody screams for help from somebody they don’t know, unless that person displays a uniform of authority. And while my uniform may not be accredited to some institution, it has certainly been instrumental in making my mark upon the city.
Perhaps if I were to get Piper his own uniform, he would come to know the pride that I feel when I wear my own. I believe I will look into this option later.
Resplendent fire 23
We worked through the night, then carried the foul smelling fruits of our labour back to the Rising Sun Compound. In retrospect, we probably should have brought a wagon with us. It’s not that I couldn’t carry all the barrels we prepared, but at a certain point, they get awkward to hold. And since Nergüi and Piper were little help in that regard, it rested on my shoulders to ensure that all of the barrels arrived intact.
When we arrived back to the compound in the early morning, Broken Walls was there to meet us. He told us that during the night, some 30 people living in shacks around the compound had been murdered. The guilt I felt then was soul crushing. I had left the city to go and help Nergüi and Piper, leaving the very citizens that I aspire to protect, open to the assault of a deadly foe. I won’t be doing that again.
This was the first time that innocents were killed in their own homes. Akimu had clearly crossed a line that she had not been willing to before. The stakes have changed, and we needed to respond. Piper says that she can probably track the priests from the smell of their mask, like some kind of a dog. The image of Piper with a big husky’s nose and tail popped into my mind for a moment, which I will admit gave me more pleasure than the current mood should have allowed for.
Broken walls says that before we go head first into a fight, he needed to go talk to some people, and that it was best that all of us go together. I reluctantly agree, and he leaves for Mauk’s temple.
I take the opportunity to take a quick nap. I know I probably shouldn’t be sleeping at a time like this, but It was a long, boring night, and anything I could get to recharge myself for what was sure to come, would be a benefit to everyone.
I wake up to discover that Broken Walls had convinced Mauk’s followers to join us in our raid of the Black Quarter. While I don’t think we need the help, I don’t think it would hurt either. Besides, it would give me a chance to see Mauk’s strongest followers before the tournament!
Piper comes downstairs as a new woman. Mists of Ruby Skies, she now called herself. I’m not sure if I will ever get used to her being able to just be a new person like that.
As a group, we head towards Hatellus, to see if Akimu had broken any contracts that might allow us access to more information on her. She had after all crossed a big line last night, and murdered people in their own homes. We arrived to see Hatellus’ office/temple in disarray. It seems like he was moving out, and doing so in a hurry. The murders had indeed broken a contract, and Hatellus was not about to stick around to see the consequences. To say that he was afraid would be an understatement. He did suggest we try to recruit Mauk as an ally in our fight against Akimu, whom Broken Walls headed off to see in a rush.
Piper had come up with an idea to try to track Akimu’s priests via their trademark graveyard smell, so with myself, Aster, and Chaoxi in tow, my Husky nosed friend lead the way. She was sniffing, and trying to find any sort of scent, but I don’t think she was all that successful. By the time she had given up, we had found ourselves at around Mauk’s temple.
We had barely just arrived, when I started to feel the ground shake. Surely we were under attack. I readied myself, and got out into the open, looking to face my opponent. But I saw none, and soon knew why. Mauk was speaking! At least, I think it was Mauk. A booming voice that came from the ground itself. Broken walls must have managed to wake Mauk up. I could only hear half of the conversation, but they spoke about a great deal. By the end of the conversation, I had pieced together that they were talking about the patrons of Champoor. There were a lot of important things, but the ones that stuck out to me, was that Akimu can go toe to toe with Mauk, but can also get in your head. A frightening, yet exciting concept. Another interesting note, is that Kadu has a wyld rift under the bay, and is building a fish man army. That should be fun. Potentially the most important part, was that a Dragon named Tenapeshu leads the patrons. If Tenapeshu leads them, I can’t help but wonder if she has been instructing Akimu how to go about her business. If true, we just made ourselves a new enemy.
When Broken Walls emerged, he was surprised to see us. We inquired about the conversation that Mauk had just had, which startled him further. He had not known that other people would be able to hear Mauk, and as such feared for his safety. He had just revealed some potentially dangerous information. If Tenapeshu, or any of the other patrons of Champoor did not wish for those details to be known, Mauk could be painted with a target.
Once he had calmed down a bit, Broken Walls handed me something, saying they belonged to Mauk, and he expects them returned later. They looked like gauntlets with small fangs at the end of each knuckle. Not something I would pick out for myself normally, but I tried them on all the same. Throwing few punches, I noted they seemed lighter when wearing them than they were when I was holding them. I could feel them enveloping my hands with essence. Some, drawn from within myself, but some that felt distinctly different. I’m sure these gauntlets will prove useful. To that effect, I pull out one of the artifact daggers that Akimu’s priests had been using to murder people. I had been planning on trying to see if the hardened dagger would be able to pierce the bell, but this was potentially more important. I slammed my now armoured fist down onto the dagger, hoping to shatter it. The dagger must have had other plans, as it remained unscathed. I can tell if I am to try to destroy Akimu’s bell, I will need to go all out in my attempt to do so.
While I was trying out my new gauntlets, Broken Walls had managed to convince Mauk’s followers to help us raid the Black Quarter. Broken Walls comes up with a strategy to maximize the usefulness of our new army, then we head out.
Myself, Aster, Piper, and Gin were to head directly there, while Mauk’s followers along with Broken Walls, Chaoxi, and Tick would be coming in from the far gate, effectively pincering any of Akimu’s forces that may be in the quarter.
It was a good plan, and I’m sure it would have helped us, had we met any resistance. However, upon arriving at the Black Quarter, we found it completely empty. When everyone met up, Broken walls quickly digs at the spot we had followed the host’s essense to. It had been filled in again, and appeared undisturbed. When he dug however, he quickly found the smooth stone surface we had found before, although this time, he dug through that as well.
The hole he made revealed a darkened hallway. Piper warns us that she can see spirits moving in the dark, to which Aster calmly assures her that it wouldn’t be a problem. As the spirits began to coalesce around us on the surface, Aster grasped the pendant on her necklace briefly, then began to glow with the brightness of the sun. As the brightness intensified, the host began to just..melt away. None remained to bar us entry to the dungeon below, and so we jumped in.
The halls are made of bodies. Corpse, long dried and mummified. The smell and the dust are practically intolerable. Very quickly, most of us have covered our airways with handkerchiefs, sleeves, or other articles of clothing. It still stank, but at the very least, I wasn’t breathing in the remains of the dead. Piper was the only one of us who didn’t seem to care. I guess she’s either too focused on finding Akimu, or she’s somehow gotten used to being in this environment already.
We instruct Tick, who has taken charge of the followers of Mauk, to begin removing the corpses from the dungeon as we go down and clear it. They do so quite effectively, and start a burn pile on the surface. I can only hope that causes some peace for the innocents that were murdered to build this place.
As we stroll through, we encounter no resistance whatsoever. There were many traps and ambush spots, but nobody to man any of them. Aster, while being incredibly useful, as also taking all of the fun out of this! If we do eventually find Akimu, or one of his priests down here, I hope he can actually put up a challenge, and not just evaporate like the rest of the host have been.
As we continue down, we notice that the structure appears square, but the walls get progressively closer together as we descend the staircases. An inverted pyramid perhaps?
Eventually we come to what appears to be a dead end in a large, empty room. Broken walls was suspicious however, and began tapping on various surfaces, eventually revealing a hidden door, which opened to yet another staircase.
We finally get to a small chamber that has a small ornate skill before the door to the next room. Sensing danger, Broken walls examines it for traps, but finds none. He cautiously opens the door, only to have a huge metalic snake lunge towards us!
Broken walls attempts a slash at it, as it passes him by, but his sword quickly bounces off. Luckly, my fist did not. My first punch launched the creature across the room, where it lay mostly motionless afterward.
Aster and Piper tried to strike at is as well, but it was clear that this thing was armoured to the point that few would be able to hurt it.
I looked at the snake, laying there, it’s eyes rolled into the back of it’s head, and lamented about how it was such a let down. It must have heard me, as it regained consciousness. Before it could do any more harm, I threw my second, and final punch at the beast, caving it’s head into itself. It wasn’t going to bother us any more.
Without it’s guardian to stop us, we examined the small room we had come to. It was mostly barren. There were no other ways in or out. No trap doors to speak of. We sat there for a moment wondering what to make for our next move, when Piper noticed a small amount of light coming from the metallic beast’s mouth. Prying it open, we could see what looked like a blue, daylit sky inside. This must have been the gateway to Akimu’s sanctum.
I was about to head inside when Broken walls urged caution. To enter the sanctum here could present us with other issues. It would be better to bring the snake to the surface, where our allies might assist us in dealing with Akimu, and anything else she might have in waiting for us.
And so, I along with several of Mauk’s followers, dragged the snake up the winding hallways and out into the daylight above.
Once we had returned to the surface, Broken Walls was quick to come up with a strategy of attack. Our forces were to enter en mass, and quickly fan out in an attempt to surround Akimu’s. The plan sounded good, but as I entered behind broken walls, I could see that Akimu had prepared for us. There must have been thousands of host within Akimu’s sanctum. Just getting anywhere near Akimu was going to be tough.
That’s when Aster entered the sanctum, with her necklace casting daylight upon the realm. Host were evaporating by the hundreds, just by being in her light. It wasn’t long until I could see Akimu through the forces.
Her features were pale, and the clothes that she wore were wispy, and covered little. Punch after punch, I threw her defenders aside. I was determined to get to Akimu. To make her pay for all the pain and death she had caused.
It wasn’t long until I could feel myself burning with essence. I had lost all semblance of restraint. A burning fist took to the sky. My beacon shone brightly above. Guided by my own light, I threw my first punch towards Akimu, eager to wipe the smirk off her face. The punch never made it though. Just as I was about to connect, the world faded away into darkness. I could hear Akimu laughing in the distance. “There is only death.” I hear, as the last of the light fades away, and I fall to the ground.