Chapter 79: The Abyss Stares Back

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The Eight are vicious, all in their own way. Yazhara's hunger has an animalistic quality to it no predator we know of has matched. Calcifrax was calm at first, but anger quickly overcame him, and he became a terror. Worse, together, they created societies and organizations hellbent on debauchery, destruction, and butchery.

-The Necromancer's Notes, Codex Argentis VII, Page 62

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Nine Years Ago

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The servant grunted when Skaria punched him in the gut. "You thought I was joking?" she asked. "Karik'ar, hold him up. I think he needs a few more lessons." She smiled cruelly, and yanked a set of knuckledusters out of her pocket. "Hold him still, Karik'ar."

The first blow hit flesh. The second cracked something. He groaned, and Karik'ar gave her a look. For a Kai'Draeni brute, a savage warrior, he was kind of squeamish. It surprised her. She had heard dozens of stories about Kai'Draen, an in all of them, they were fearsome warriors, cruel and barbaric. Karik'ar didn't seem like that at all.

"Let him go," she said. Karik'ar dropped the servant, and he dropped to the ground, spitting up blood. "You're going to talk now," Skaria said. "You're going to tell me where your lord goes every other day, when he sneaks out in his cloak in the middle of the night."

"No," the servant said through painful breaths. So Skaria kicked his other side, feeling the rib give. Good, now he had two broken ribs.

"Let's try that again," she said. "You are going to bloody tell us. Or I'll break more ribs. Understand?" The servant nodded and spat a glob of blood against the pavement. "Good. Now, where does he go?"

"Some sewer passage," the servant said. "He asked me to come once, and have me carry something back to the manor. I don't know what it was, but it was wet, and smelled like metal."

"Blood," Karik'ar said. "Probably one of his 'experiments' he didn't finish up with there." He paused. "And which entrance to the sewers was it?" He leaned down and picked the battered man up by the scruff of his neck. His hand made the man look puny. "Don't think of lying. I can tell if you are." The man whimpered. "Well? I'm waiting!" Karik'ar growled.

"Port district. The one on the edge of the city, by the pier, between Stenton Street and the Fishersway." Skaria knew that entrance well enough. While the Fishersway and Stenton Street were raised up, out of the sea, the sewer system entrance was a large pipe, at sea level. "Go in at low tide, really easy. I only went five steps in, so I don't know where the rest of it went."

Karik'ar dropped him. "Go. Sucrry back to whatever little rat-hole you climbed out of," Skaria snapped. The man rushed back, away from the two of them, down the twisted alleyway, running as best he could with two broken ribs. "Just remember," Skaria said. The man stopped and turned back, eyes wide, "if you tell anyone, you're dead." He scurried away. Not that he'd tell anyone. He was too proud to tell anyone a twenty-one year old woman broke his ribs. He fell, he'd probably say.

"Alright," Skaria said, "shall we check out the sewers?"

"Let's go home first," Karik'ar said. "I think I need to talk to you about something before we go anywhere."

"Oh?" Skaria asked. "What is it?" She walked out of the alleyway, out the other way. The drops of blood down the path the servant had taken had frozen over, small, dark lumps of ice that traced a small trail out of the alleyway.

"I... well, I feel very uncomfortable with you having me beat up innocent people," Karik'ar said. He seemed uneasy, tense. Normally, such cues would be subtle on a normal person, but Karik'ar was a Kai'Draen, and a big one at that. Subtle for a man was obvious for a Kai'Draen.

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