The Kael and the Silver Flame - Part 7
The Kael and the Silver Flame – Part 6
They each descend into the catacombs. Oggrim manages to slide the altar back over the opening to protect against from the the blazing mansion above, as he does so the group is engulfed in complete darkness. ir’Lumm continues to moan softly, though hardly awake.
Kohl ignites a sunrod. As the light flares into view, they see a narrow catacomb. Skeletal remains fill alcoves set into the walls. The catacomb continues endlessly into darkness ahead.
Kohl is first to speak, “Sir Oggrim, we should take this slow, stay alert, we have the Bishop’s body and ir’Luum to bring along, our road will be tedious and treacherous. You have done fine work above, Dha’Ark is a difficult enemy to combat, you stood your ground better than some veteran soldiers from my world. Let us take a moment to plan ahead…”
Oggrim pulls a vial of jorasco healing waters and drinks quickly. “Thank you brother. Our road ahead is definitely uncertain. Though ir’Lumm’s fate is not. He must stand trial for his sin.” He looks at Kohl and Taveah. “What do you intend to do now?”
“I intend on getting us all out alive, I would see the bishop raised…although, ir’Luum was bewitched by a Dha’Ark parasite, I would have to question him further to determine how far his own corruption went. He called them his angels…I can only assume these creatures took advantage of his blindness, seducing him with their dark magics and lies, this is what Dha’Ark does. I fear, since we also found Dha’Ark creatures in the tower, that these lands have become infested, your church must be educated.”
Oggrim furrows his brow, “Kohl, I do not think you quite understand our faith. The bishop has become one with the flame, his soul did not pass to Dolurrh… he cannot be raised. And even if he could, it would be blasphemy. Lenorf has committed a terrible crime. While he may have been seduced, the fact still remains. Murder is not the way of the Flame. I am a templar of the Keeper and am witness to this crime. I am bound to see that Lenorf is brought to justice.”
Oggrim continues. “You are correct. The presence of Xoriat’s madness is of great concern. The Dael’kyr were bound to Khyber long ago by Gatekeepers. Something must have disturbed these mystic seals.”
“Thank you for educating me,” Kohl replies, “I was not aware. Well I will amend and say, return the bishop’s body. My faith, my God specifically, Torval, is the god of Justice. I agree Lenorf should answer for his crimes, but the last thing I would wish is for Lenorf to be tried and convicted for succumbing to alien magics, if malice was in his heart when he dealt with these angels, he should subsequently burn for his crimes, but if the madness he suffered was brought on by Souruz’na (sp), he should be healed, perhaps banished. I won’t interfere in your duty to bring him to judgment Oggrim, it is my duty as well. But I wont see an innocent man burned.”
Oggrim shrugs, “It will be up to the Inquisitor and the Cardinal to decide Lenorf’s fate. I am merely a witness. Malice certainly is suspect, but I have not made up my mind on this just yet.”
Kohl changes the subject, “Are there any of the Gates or seals in these lands?”
“I am not an expert on the subject of Xoriat,” Oggrim muses, “but I have heard that there are many seals. One for each Dael’kyr. I do not know whether one exists in Thrane, but I have heard tale of these seals deep beneath Breland, the Eldeen Reaches, Droaam and the far western Shadow Marches.”
“One thing is for certain, I want some of the purple ore, it seems to harm those of Xoriat particularly well. Let us move, the parasite is here somewhere.”
“Lead the way.” Oggrim groans as he rises to follow.
Kohl looks at Oggrim and his cousin, “We are a bloody mess. We don’t know what is down the passage way, let us be prepared. The parasite is still here somewhere, we will have to be on guard…Sir Oggrim, I do recognize the creature, it can control the minds of those it attaches to, well perhaps control is too strong a word, strongly influence, for those that are weak of mind, mentally drained, it may as well be control. Let us be very careful. Taveah and Skarn have very keen senses, if the creature hides, we will find it.”
“Very well,” Oggrim sighs, “but I suggest we leave Lenorf here, bound of course.”
Taveah interrupts, “We cannot leave Lord ir’Lumm behind. If he is to face justice he must be alive to do so. We’re uncertain what lurks in these tunnels.”
Oggrim ponders the situation. “We are injured and already slow. I fear whatever dangers down here will threaten Lenorf worse than whatever threat remains here. But I will defer to your experience Taveah.”
“Lenorf is dazed and concussed, cousin, bind him, we will clear the catacomb and come back for him.” Kohl says.
“Cousin, I do not feel right binding a man so that he cannot defend himself. We know that parasite is here somewhere, what if it were to take him again.” She too considers the situation. “Perhaps we should wait until he recovers enough to move with us?”
“The parasite would be gone by then.” Kohl says, “Have you found its tracks by chance?”
She shakes her head. “Very well. I just wish it hadn’t come to this.” She binds Lenorf and begins to search for the parasite. Taveah sises, clearly still fatigued from the fight. “It must have gone this way. Come, let’s move on.”
As they travel, Kohl keeps track of the winding catacombs relative to the entrance. He assesses that the catacombs descende approximately 100 feet below the surface.
Taveah scouts ahead, looking for traces of the dha’ark symbiot. She spots the subtle indententation of tracks in the loose dirt on the cavern floor leading down one of the cavernous tunnels. Proceeding ahead into the tunnel, she notices that the tracks lead up to a ledge about 20ft above. She deftly climbs up to the ledge and sees another tunnel winding further into the darkness. She also notices a faint trace of a reddish crystalline powder mixed with the dirt on the floor and walls.
Kohl and Oggrim continue their discussion while Taveah is gone.
“Sir Oggrim, I have some concerns I need to address with you. These Dha’Ark spawn, by using Lenorf, were conducting a blood sacrifice…one of a powerful cleric within your church. This could have potent reprocussions. Telling me that upon death followers join with the flame also concerns me. In our lands, Dha’Ark utilize weaponry and dark magics to steal the souls of their enemies or victims to feed the hordes and gods of Dha’Ark. Their gods live on the souls of the fallen, I fear that the Bishop did not go to the flame…and I would like to ask your permission to find out. When we get out of here, I would like to commune with the dead, after I have had a chance to speak with Lenorf when he has rested and recovered. I want to determine what these spawn…these foul wretches were up to. I will not desicrate the body, it will be treated with respect. In the process, perhaps you would allow me to cleanse the body, utilizing holy water from any Dha’Ark taint that may have festered upon his body.”
“Hmmm” Oggrim ponders, “Your concerns are duly noted. However, it would violate tradition to allow a non-believer to tamper with the body of a servant to the Flame. Especially, a bishop. I am not a priest, so it is not within my power to grant such an act.”
Oggrim thinks a bit longer. “I would be more comfortable if we left this to a priest of the Flame.”
Kohl responds, “I agree with your concerns, but will a Priest of the Flame recognize the taint of Dha’Ark? I will obviously not push the subject, I do not wish to offend or tamper with any burial rites. I will interrogate Lenorf when he is able to speak, and if my concerns begin to ring true, I will address them with you then.”
“Gentlemen, keep your voices down, please.” Taveah hisses as she jumps down from the ledge above. “There is a passage above. I found traces of Khyber dust.”
They three head back up to take a closer look at the narrow passage. There is room for only one man to fit at a time.
“I don’t like how these tunnels are shifting, getting smaller.” Kohl grumbles. “The three of us are wounded and tired. Let us go back, wait for the fires to burn out, get ir’Luum out of here and come back when we are healthy, perhaps with others.”
Kohl looks to his companions for their thoughts.
Taveah considers this. “There is a good chance the parasite will escape then, cousin… I am willing to let it go, are you?”
Remember my little girl, a rocky start smooths the road ahead…. do not …. Taveah hears the fading voice of her father down the dark tunnel ahead.
Taveah… the voice whispers sorrowfully.
Taveah’s head snaps around, grasping at the sound of her father’s voice. A voice whose timbre she thought she’d almost forgotten.
“Father?” Taveah suddenly calls out, souding more like a little girl than an agile huntress. She sounds unsure, and a little embarassed.
Kohl and Oggrim look at Taveah confused… “Cousin? Is everything alright?”
You have failed me Kohl… and now you fail my granddaughter" Kohl hears the voice of his grandfather echo softly down the dark tunnel.
“I HAVE NOT FAILED! YOU ARE DEAD! What ever creature of Dha’Ark you are, the mistake is yours, and your soul shall be MINE!” Kohl bellows.
Taveah shakes her head, as if to clear it. “Friends, these are false voices…. We need to leave here. Now.”
You are the false ones… a female voice cackles… A chill runs down Taveah’s spine as she realizes it is her own voice.
Oggrim hears a familiar female voice, then calls out “Lorna?”
“These tunnels are infested and require cleansing. If we leave, we must come back in force and not leave until the Gran Magus herself would be satisfied with our work.”
Kohl begins to scribe runes of Kael into the floor in front of him with his blade. The rocks bleeds crimson. Then seals unmarked. Kohl pulls a vial of holy water and anoints the rock. The water flows against the rock as if nothing happened.
“Do you think your pathetic runes will stop me? a voice laughs wickedly… it is Kohl’s though not from his mouth.
“We will meet soon enough.” Kohl yells, fighting off the strange magic.
A strong breeze blows through the cave. Dust and wind tear at their faces.
“Taveah, guide us out, now.” Kohl yells.
They return back to catacomb entrance to find ir’Lumm asleep and unharmed. They decide to rest in shifts. After several hours, Kohl tests the trapdoor checking for heat. It is warm but not hot. He muscles open the trap door. Debris and ash spill into the catacomb. Sunlight floods the corridor as the door is open. It is blinding, but refreshing. Kohl carefully moves the warm debris, clearing a way to get to the surface.
Once above, they stand in the smoldering remains of the ir’Lumm estate. There is no one around. It is cold and the snow is falling lightly. The sounds of horses are in the stables and the guest house looks undamaged.
Kohl looks at his companions. “Are we in agreement? Rest and heal in the guest house, use the churches horses to head to the cardinal?”
“Most definitely,” Taveah replies as she helps Skarn through the trap door.
“I think this is a wise course of action. I would recommend however the bishop stays below, the body will preserve better in the cool air.” Oggrim advises.
ir’Lumm begins to come to his senses. “What has happened?” He says meekly. “Where is my estate? My gallery? It is all gone. I am lost!” he moans.
Kohl kneels down to the old man. “ir’Luum, we need to know what happened…how did these angels contact you?”
“The angels… oh my great holy Flame! What have I done? The bishop… Noo… The bishop!” He wales in horror and struggles to sift through the ash."
Taveah kneels next to him and puts a reassuring hand on the Lord’s shoulder. “He is dead, my lord. I’m sorry. A great evil has happened here. You can still help us, though. How did these angels contact you? They deceived you, and we need to know how so we can help.”
He sobs uncontrollably… “No… no… I let this happen… I allowed myself to be deceived… The angels… they offered me justice. It was just too much… too much, I could not say no.” He crumples, broken.
Kohl looks to Oggrim. “Lets get him to the guest house.”
Kohl takes the body of the bishop over his shoulder, while Taveah helps Lenorf up. On the way to the house, Kohl turns to Oggrim, “Sir Oggrim…who is Lorna? My cousin and I heard voices in the tunnels, the creatures residing below attempted to deceive us, who were they trying to trick you with?”
“Lorna is… was my wife.” he replies. I heard the voices too.
“Was? Has she passed over?”
“Many years ago. Before my service to the Flame.”
“I am sorry my friend. It would appear that dha’ark looked to ensare us all with loved ones. Taveah’s father…my Grandfather..your wife…ir’Luums faith. Those tunnels must be cleansed, we got lucky, our will was strong.”
Before they settle in, Kohl furnishes a shroud for the Bishop’s body and leaves it in the snow. Skarn is ordered to watch over it while they rest in the guest house.
The Kael and the Silver Flame – Part 8