We had found ourselves separated in the depths, all of us together except for Tuck. The demon above wailed on the passageway we had all managed to escape down, even just barely. Danjo was relieved that Shino had not, in fact, died, a relief that was delivered to us by Pak-Pak. I was certain his gnarled, crunching body was gone, the last thing I heard before jumping into the caverns below. We were now in unfamiliar grounds, a demon above and mystery ahead. We were greeted by strange noises which we chose to not ignore, but not exactly deal with either. It was decided we would climb the walls of this cavern to explore a ledge far above out heads, however foolish it may be. The walls were, after all, covered in moss and slick residues, as Danjo had just learned, not moments before, when he fell, almost being impaled by a stalamite.
Yet we climb.
Thankfully, Sahil, ever resourceful, manage to commune with the spirits and shape ladder rungs into the stone itself, making the climb little worry. Unfortunately, the climb was not the factor we needed to worry about, as at the top, there were exploding runes that blasted many of us to near the same fate as Malakai, rest his soul. We were still winded from our escape from the demon, yet we managed to recover from the blast, just barely, deciding to press on. As we did, we continually heard a voice in the darkness, mocking everything we did in the most vile manor that it could.
In our exploration, we came across a rust monster. Weshtek told us what he new of them, worrying Danjo, as we were told they eat metal. His worry proved to be of little concern, as we made quick work of the beast. We found the paths back in the beast’s lair to have little use, so we made our way back to explore another direction. Without the aid of Mr. Arbuckle, we managed to activate the same trap a second time, this time being much more of a concern. Makoda fell to his death and his body seemed to attract a swarm of small creatures with buzzing wings. They looked fairly innocent, but upon Shino’s ascent from checking on Makoda, they swarmed on him, swifty draining the life from his body, not before he had set flame to several of them. I stayed back, a coward, fearing for my life, while my friends took out the rest of the vermin.
The events that came next all blur together as they may very well be the worst I’ve faced.
A swirl of laughing mist swooped down from near Sahil and I, and invaded the corpse of Shino. Danjo instinctively jumped from the cliff to try and save his second, almost falling to his death in the process. Shino now stood in front of him, ready for battle. Before we put Shino to rest, the mist reveled itself to be a wraith and asked to have a conversation with us.
This unnerved me on many levels.
For lack of seeing a better outcome, I asked what it wanted. It told us it would give us Shino back if we agreed to take care of some of it’s problems, one of them being murdering another being. Sahil and I were both taken aback by the idea. While we debated with ourselves if we would help, the wraith tormented Shino’s soul, twisting and contorting it from his body while it screamed in agony. Not wanting to see him suffer further, we set aside our adversity towards the idea of murdering another being. A quick death would be far less suffering then what Shino was going through.
Upon deciding this, the wraith wanted a blood oath to seal the deal. I knew myself, that was powerful magic. A blood oath to such an evil being did not sit right with me. I could see Sahil conflicted with it as well, but he still went through with it. Being that Sahil seems much more attuned to the Adama and the good nature in things, I followed suit, much to my dismay. Westhek was the only one of us either stupid, or brave enough to actually reject the wraith entirely. He attacked it with all his might as was cast aside like he was no more then a fly on a horse’s ass. We were forced to lacerate him while he lay unconscious, forcing him into the blood oath as well. The wraith told us that the demon was not actually a demon, but just power from an artifact it wore. This gave us a slight hope that we may be able to steal or destroy the artifact and be rid of that problem. It also told us of the Earthblood that lay below this place somewhere and that it wanted to study it.
This also unnerved me.
We settled our deal with the wraith and he kept his word, using his foul magic to bring Shino back to life, now covered in deep red runes. It was decided, we would venture forth, assuming the hin to be dead. We gave him the briefest of moments and continued on, most us near death ourselves, leaving little time for mourning. We were relieved to hear him, not long after that, alive and well. He too met the wraith and we explained our current oath to the beast to him. Being as level headed as he is, Tuck took it in stride and we carried on.
At least only one life was lost today…
I can’t help but feel the loss my fall on my shoulders. I’ve made oaths to gods that I haven’t kept, yet I’m trying my hardest to. Where I view my body as a vessel for Ilmater’s will, I also see no merit in jumping into combat if I truly have nothing to offer. Perhaps this is where I do not truly understand my new found deity. He was truly selfless, as I should be, not try to be.
Ilmater, give me time. I will prove to you I am worthy of your blessing. No more will I cower in fear, I will stand my ground. The helpless need not fear for their lives, as I will gladly pour out my own blood if it can save them. This bastard of an entity deserves nothing of my being, yet it has taken part of me out of my own fear. No more will I accept this of myself, I only hope the end will be quick for the one the wraith desires. Suffering is not needed, if anything, I will make sure of that.