The Seekers of Darkest Truths

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    The city of Kyrie, southern capital of the realm. On it's surface it was a bustling trade landmark, a hallmark for good-quality items and goods spanning from all corners of the globe. However, beneath it's lackluster covering of happiness and rose-tinted appearances, lay it's darkest and most competitive members of society; The Guilds. Each guild fought for control of the city, from The Shacklescales, pirates of ill repute who did nothing more than brawl and curse, to the Vipers, apothecary brigands with a talent for seizure-inducing, mouth-foaming reactive poison.

    But this is not their story, no, this story belongs to a far less virulent and well known group. The Seekers, they were known as, a plucky duo who were in a fledgling status within the guilds of Kyrie. Looking for repute, these two adventurers would soon come to learn that not only Kyrie was a dangerous place to live in.

    The Guild Hall for the Seekers was at the moment nothing more than a borrowed upstairs space in a tavern; Liriope however did not mind. A thief in heart and profession, seedy taverns were almost a second home to her. Second only to Kyrie's many underground and overground, darkened alleyways filled with nobles looking to lose a few hundred gold pieces from their coffers.

    She sat in the furthest corner of the room, waiting for her partner to arrive. A mug of ale in hand, she took the drink and necked the entirety of the ale, the rich alcoholic liquid oozing into the core of her being and warming her every extremity.

    Where could Cassandra be, she could only wonder. Probably buying dusty magical tomes to stock her every emptying and filling bookcase. Liriope could not say why she discarded as many as she kept, but even she could not say she was without her own... eccentricities.

    @Uneasy Goat
  2. Cassandra's thin fingers traced the spines of the leather-bound tomes, her gloves removed so she could feel every flaw in the binding. There was something she connected to, perhaps the fact that she could not learn their secrets by herself, and it drove her to a maddening fascination with them. As her index finger peeked over the lip of the tome, she gave a gentle pull and it separated from its brothers and sisters gathering dust beside it. The white flood of light in the room caused her to close her eyes, but the darkness was where she was most comfortable. Dust collected on her fingers as she ran them against the leather and attempted to read the words on touch alone. There was the shape of a tree, she could feel the branches leading to a wide trunk, words above in an arch that she couldn't understand. Her brow furrowed and she laid her hand flat against it the cover, accepting defeat as she passed it down to her Little One.

    His claws were razor sharp, his teeth even sharper, but he was a harmless little thing. She imagined that he simply looked like a malformed child, but he was sweet in his own right, and she harbored no feelings but love for him. She could hear the book being placed gingerly on the cart that held so many others she had tried to "read", an ever-growing collection of stories she could never truly enjoy. Little One would try to read to her, but his voice was shrill and garbled, his mouth not exactly made for conversation. Oftentimes he could read too fast and bite his tongue or get so excited that his speech simply became unintelligible and she would have to feign sleepiness as not to hurt his feelings.

    She sighed softly, wiping the dust from her hands onto her dress, no doubt leaving little dust trails or handprints but she didn't care. She had no issues walking from the library, her walking path from home an extremely easy trek considering how many times she'd done it since the backfire. Little One would grab her gloved hand, she imagined he saw her as a mother and only wanted to help in every way he could. It was sweet gesture, as unnecessary as it was. As she crossed the threshold from the library into the main square, the cool wind caught her by surprise and the lacking of light confused her for a moment before the realization that she was supposed to meet with Liriope tonight hit her. She instantly let go of Little One's hand, his confused muttering followed with an attempt to hold her hand again.

    Slapping it away she told him to go home, that she would be there soon enough. As she felt the stones under her bare feet, she began to walk toward the direction of the tavern.
  3. Click-click-click-click. Click-click-click-click. Click-click-click-click. Click-click-click-click. The sound of Liriope's fingers colliding with the desk in an impatient stretch as she waited for her associate, Cassandra, to arrive. Click-click-click-click. She took a sip of the ale, it's warmness soothing her nerves and fueling her annoyance as she gazed out into the darkening evening sky. Who knew when Cassandra would arrive? She and her little pet hellspawn would arrive soon, and they would discuss jobs for the guild. She had collected her own suggestions. They could clear a cave of Kobolds, the cave in question having been used for grain storage for harvest and then all grain had been devoured by those Kobolds. Otherwise, they could clear out the tavern's basement filled with seemingly stronger and more vicious rats, who had infected one or two patrons with mindplague.

    But her fingers continued to slam impatiently against the table as the familiar, somewhat similar to her fingers on the table sound of Cassandra's shoes began to be heard by the thief. But as she gazed over to the stairs, she could see her compatriot Cassandra walking up the stairs. "Ah, Cassandra. It's nice for ye' to have arrived." Liriope chuckled, waving a dismissive hand toward the seemingly evil looking mini-demon. "We have jobs we can do, Cassandra. If we want the Seekers to be known, we'll do them. One question! Kobolds or rats?" Liriope exclaimed with a smile as she finished her ale and set the glass mug down. She wondered if Cassandra had any herbs that she concocted into a drink for Liriope's visions. "Cassandra, did you find those herbs I asked about? Those would be most helpful." She exclaimed, before standing up.
  4. No sooner has she reached the twenty-third step, Lirope's voice began to fill the air. Jobs, always jobs. Cass just wanted to stay home, stay in this little paradise she had made for herself and learn without the dangers of aggressive disease-ridden vermin. As he opened her mouth to speak, she heard Liri place an empty glass on the table and immediately began to ask more questions that she had to answer. She decided it would be easiest to take a second to think about the "questing" Liri was excited about after having a drink herself, but she reached into one of the small pouches around her waist and pulled out an assortment of herbs she had taken from her private stash. As one hand searched the table for a dry spot to lay a cloth, the other had placed the delicate stems, seeds and petals on it as she took a seat. She raised her hand, making a "V" with her fingers and a man across the room called out, "Five!" in response.

    It had been a while since she'd drank anything stronger than Butterbeer (essentially a cream-sugar concoction, no alcohol but the sweetness was liable to make you quite excitable), but with all this talk of missions and self-motivation... Well, it seemed she would need a little courage in a physical form. She yawned softly, covering her mouth with her hand facing palm-out towards Liri as she began to speak, "Are these the only options we have? Lizard slaughter for farmers and rats in a cellar?" Cass grumbled and leaned back slightly in her creaking wooden chair, "Can't we just hunt for lost knowledge or explore ruins of the Ancient Ones?"

    Before Liri could answer, Bertrand placed the large mug of "Thick Ale" on the table and as he drew away she grazed her hand over his, flipping it and placing one of her iron coins in his palm. She pulled her hand back and began to wrap it around the wooden surface as he walked away, smiling and taking a deep drink. This ale was "darker" she was told, the foam at the top always leaving a lingering taste after the first swallow. She licked it off, her tongue gently collecting the remnants and savoring the sweet bitterness before taking a deep breath and leaning forward, presumably looking directly at Liriope.

    "Fuck it, let's kill some rats," she started, "maybe one day we'll get famous enough to clean horse shit from the streets."
  5. With the eyes of a greedy street urchin, Liriope almost inhaled the herbs, determined to counteract the night terrors and sleeplessness she had felt due to that of her gift, that had been bestowed to her, she thought, as a birthright. Liriope had grasped the spare glass of ale, and within seconds of wrapping her slender fingers around it, she had proceeded to take idle sips of the warm liquid as Cassandra complained about their situation. Liriope nodded in response to the woman's bickering, and provided her own response. "Cass, we need t' become more famous, if we're to ever become stronger and actually leave Kyrie with a chance of survival. If we build up our reputation, we can attract members, and attracting members means building up guild strength, which in turn means we have a chance of challenging Kyrie's other guilds. Imagine being able to visit any tomb of forbidden knowledge you wanted with the knowledge that you, yourself, have the righteous authority to do so?"

    Liriope stood up and raised her glass. "Cassandra, if we do not do this task for Bertrand now, how are we t'become the strongest guild in all of Maelmiria, nay, all of Halcyos itself?" She exclaimed, taking a mighty swig of the alchoholic liquid before finishing her 'inspirational' tirade. "Will you do this with me? Will you conquer the world with me? Will you do this job and prove we have what it takes to become the greatest in Halcyos?" She eclaimed, waiting on Cassandra to stand up with equal measure of excitement and inspiration. It was the time to get started.

    It was the time to become the greatest guild Halcyos had ever seen.
  6. It was nice that the evening was cool, as Liri's speech filled the area with hot air. She was always so loud and full of herself, it was... tiring. As she finished her speech, Cass chuckled at the thought that Liriope was imagining a choir of angels singing her praises and that the Gods themselves were leading her to the Holy Grail. This, of course, was silliness and the fact that Liri actually imagined ratslaying would begin the trek to stardom was overblown nonsense. There was to be another job in their near future, and the only reward being a pitiful amount of money and the respect of the homeowner if they were lucky (what whatever that was worth).

    The problem Cassandra had, however, was that despite all of Liri's silly and self-righteous pride... there was an aura about her. Something about her kept her coming back, the pep in the face of obvious disappointment was pleasant in this current world of darkness and dissatisfaction. Smiling, Cass raised her mug in response to her question and spoke aloud, "I will do this job, valiant Liriope! We shall slay all manner of vermin, be they rodent or mankind, in the search for the most honorable death we can imagine." She took a deep swallow and took the thick ale down her throat with deceptive speed. She took a deep breath as he slammed the mug on the table, wiping the foamy residue from her lips.

    She raised her hand and made a "V" with her fingers, hearing the bartender call "Five" once more as she leaned back into her seat.
  7. Liriope smiled with sheer exuberant happiness as she drew her standard silver steel longsword, swishing it about in the air to test it still sliced effectively. "Cassandra, I say we go now and slay these wretched vermin from the pits of our dearest tavern. Maybe that liquid courage we devoured so quickly will help steel ourselves for the quick fight ahead." Liriope exclaimed, sheathing her sword and heading toward the bartender at the bottom of the stairs, the joint owner of the tavern, in conjunction to that of his seemingly homely wife. "Beware of those vermin, missy." He stated with gruff assertion. "Do not let them bite y', lest ye wish to catch the mindplague." He exclaimed, as Liriope thought on such a statement. She had only heard of tthe mindplague being in the furthest corners of Halcyos, a plague that would supposedly reanimate it's infected from lethargy to a near-rabid state, foaming at the mouth to infect and attack.

    It was time to face the first of many challenges the guild would have to face in order to succeed. Though it may be lowly and easily completed by any other, it was their job, their task, and their duty, if they were ever to become Kyrie's strongest guild. No others were present to complete such a task with skill, so it was theirs.

    Now all Liriope had to do was wait on Cassandra.
  8. As they approached the basement, the scent of blood and shit filled her nostrils and caused her to gag slightly. Cass favored the smell of dusty books and candlewax to this wicked scent left by the rats that seemed to inhabit this decrepit room, but the smell of money (metaphorically of course) was a much more pleasant scent, and one she had not had the opportunity to get her hands on in a long time. The steps leading into the undercroft were rotten and creaking, the wet wood uncomfortable underneath her heels, the residual dirt and crud from years of up and down caking her feet in detritus. She grimaced as she removed her blindfold, blowing out the oil lanterns hanging on the rafters of the low ceiling to allow her to "see" as best she could.

    The cellar was smaller than she imagined, a few small doors in the back and a couple of large barrels that she assumed must contain the ale she enjoyed so much. She ran her fingers over the walls of the barrels and relished in the warm and firm wooden surface, wishing she could read the writing on the paper she could feel had been stamped on. Looking back towards the staircase, she saw the black shadow of Liri approach with her sword drawn. She placed her hands on her hips and cocked her head slightly sideways, shrugging at her.
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  9. Liriope moved first. Sword in hand, concentration in gaze. She was a hunter, and the basement-dwelling rats were her prey. The basement was meekly alight by two torches in the room’s farthest reaches, the ghastly smell of detritus and decaying faeces bringing a horrifying, pungent odour to the claustrophobic, stone-walled storage area. There was an empty barrel that Liriope’s eyes were drawn to; it’s bowels Liriope’s focus of interest. Within the wooden vat contained one of her many targets, a large, tattered and bloodstained rat, who had taken up permanent unconscious occupancy.

    The target was an easy one, and Liriope’s blade skewered the animal with ease, its blood spewing across the blade’s metal and coating it in bestial ichor of the crimson variety. One rat had been slaughtered, but there were many more to follow its example. But it had not died, no. It was merely in the clutches of the reaper, and in its throes of expiry, it let a piercing and ultimately final squeal as the life faded from behind its eyes. Its craven comrades were bolstered into appearance by its cry, some revealing the ripped, bitten and flesh-torn human body of their last meal by that of their movement. The body itself was grey-skinned, and filled on its exposed chest, neck, arms and thighs full of gangrenous and infected dark-coloured boils, the perished man’s jowls hanging loose with the same boils of gangrene dripping their own green, pus-filled ichor down the corpse’s cheek with slow meander.

    From the body came a raucous croak and Liriope feared she knew what had overcome the man. The mindplague. “Cassandra,” she stated with hesitant urgency as she gazed between the river of vermin and the newly reanimated being of un-life she saw before her. “I need you to deal with the rats. I’ll take on this infected body. Can’t have the brains of the operation getting sick now, can w’?” Liriope finshed as with a snap of bones and a chorus of moans, the mindplague had gripped its host in un-life’s talons, and it was Liriope’s time to fight it. A foam of black and yellow phlegm spat from the creature’s jowls, and with suprising speed, it lashed out.

    Liriope raised her sword in defence, blocking the beast as it sliced at its own weak, hanging flesh, various strips of skin floating to the floor like the last seeds in spring. She blocked with all her might. She would not get infected. She could not get infected. She knew and hoped so.

    But only if she was careful.
  10. As Liri charged into the bright white of the cellar, the torches in the back blocking her vision of the rats, she realized that the fighting had begun. She stepped back into the darkness of the cellar as an attempt to get her bearings, muttering an incantation with every step. As she spoke, smoke began to escape the corners of her mouth and her right hand pointed to the floor with her index and pinkie fingers extended. The wind blew across her feet, offering a surprisingly cold sensation, and she heard the voice of her little one as it crawled from the earth. Reaching down, she pulled him through into this new existence and lovingly stroked his cheek before whispering something to him.

    Liriope called out for support, and as if they were on the same wavelength Little One charged forward and began to slaughter them while her attention was elsewhere. His claws were extended, his razor teeth looking for flesh. Little One's nose was gone, his scaled face torn and worn from the time in his own demonic realm. He paid no attention to the smells or tastes of these rat creatures, he only hungered for their screams. As Liri moved towards the infected man Little One saw a rat scurrying fast after her and leapt upon it. Claws met flesh and ravaged the soft rotten body of the squeaking abomination, but ended far too soon for his liking. He raised his head from the rat's neck, looking to his next kill and charged. And charged. And charged.

    As he bathed in the blood and gore, he began to laugh a gruesome laugh that sounded more like a choking gargle.
  11. Liriope smiled as she saw the Little One, grinning ear to ear, slashing and eviscerated and bifurcating every mindplague-infected rat in the cellar whilst he dealt with the undead. It had kept up a pattern of flailing, and Liriope had a feeling she knew what to do as she was getting closer and closer to the wall of the tavern basement.

    She felt the stone grate against her back as she placed herself on it, the undead shambling and groaning with ill malcontent, flailing it's gnarly-nailed fingers and arms at her, the skin flaking off it colours of infected black and platelet brown. As it hobbled into her breathing space, she feinted right and slashed at it's back, evoking a cry of anger from it, earning another three slashes in butchery from that of Liriope, her eyes glazed in a steely assassins gaze.

    She continued to slash, her mouth emitting a vicious laughter as she brought her sword down again and gain, sprays and spurts of red and black ichor spritzing her almost completely, head to toe, in blood. Again, again, again and again, until neither it's head or it's arms or legs were connected to it's body.

    It was silenced. And so she was silent.

    "Cassandra, it's taken care of."
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