The Eight are not the only sources of evil in this war. After all, the battlefront between good and evil is in the heart and soul. One could argue that they are wholly given up to evil, but they are not the sole source. They may inspire evil in other groups, in clans and cabals, but they are not the sole progenitors.
-The Necromancer's Notes, Codex 5543a, Philosophy Wing
Nine Years Ago
This time, when they entered the sewers, there were no ghouls to attack them. Just filth.
"This is disgusting," Skaria snarled, and immediately wished she hadn't. To say those words meant she had to open her mouth and inhale, and even if she wasn't breathing in through her nose, she could taste the rankness, she could feel the filth in her mouth. She had secured a cloth around her nose and mouth, but it still permeated the cloth. The very breath felt violating, felt like it tainted her. It made her want to rinse out the putrid corruption with water, but the problem with that was similar. In that case, the water was probably more putrid.
"It's a sewer," Karik'ar said before gagging and hacking. And then he threw up into the water. It said something about the section of sewer that Karik'ar's regurgitation improved the smell. "That's foul," he said, before gagging again. Fortunately he didn't vomit again.
"You didn't throw up on the map, did you?" Skaria asked.
"No." Karik'ar, it turns out, was quite the artist. They found that out in the planning stages of this mission, that they'd need drawing skills. Unfortunately, neither of them could judge art well.
So the Yishraena children were called in. Nahdi ordered them to draw different things, and the rest of the kids chose which one was best. Karik'ar was pretty accurate with ink, more so with pencil.
Skaria was gifted in a very special way, gifted in how poor her skills were. The Vesperati children were quite vicious with their criticism. Skaria herself knew she couldn't deal, but she didn't know how bad she was.
Trying to draw a fish ended up looking like misshapen pie. She drew a sword, but it looked kind of like a carrot, and a deformed carrot at that. Everything she tried to draw ended in abject failure.
So Karik'ar became the designated map-maker. That meant Skaria was the path-clearer. At the moment, she was fighting her way through refuse and offal, trying to shove it into the oily and foul water.
This was the Blood Channel, under the Charnel House district. Not a nice portion of the city to go through, unless you were looking for a butcher. Then it was perfect. Of course, underneath it, it stank of rotten carcasses, fetid meat, and sewage. Mostly because the Blood Channel was stuffed with rotten carcasses, fetid meat, and sewage. It was so filthy even the ghouls avoided it.
"Weaken and destabilize," Skaria commanded the pile of offal. She saw it shift, saw the oily liquids ooze out of the mass (making her more than slightly nauseous), handed Karik'ar her sputtering torch, and used the giant spear she had to prod the mass in front of her. The spear was winged; a half foot below the spearhead, two bars jutted out perpendicular to the shaft of the spear. In this case, it was quite useful. It allowed her to spear the cow carcass and push on it without sinking the lance all the way to her hands.
She shoved that mass into the water, but stopped after she saw the flash of pale skin. "That's a hand," she said. "We're close. That's a woman's hand." Women were the primary victims of this cult of scientists, usually prostitutes, with the ease of access and all. One didn't look twice when they saw a rich man with a strumpet. But where they were dead and cut apart, their murderers weren't too far away. Their murderers were a very specific kind of clientele, richer, but also homicidal.
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When Laidu, a half-human, half-dragon Ranger, rescues a mysterious girl from slavers, he doesn't know it but he's in for a world of trouble. Teaming up with an insane scholar, a chatty assassin, and two mercenaries, they go to take the girl -Kyra- h...