The Ferryman has been leading you for several hours now, taking the three remaining Sidereals deeper and deeper into the Underworld. An hour ago he took you into a dark cavern that you're all fairly sure was just a shadow until the brown-robbed spirit walked into it. Not ten minutes after entering the Upper Labyrinth, you party was reduced by one as Kinqueduran was dragged through a broken mirror by three burly spirits, all missing their eyes and slashed by broken glass. The orange-fleshed beings carried tattoos matching Kin's new Castemark and thus you assume he had been summoned by Deimos. But still, his disappearance is troubling. Can you all so easily be called to them, like dogs on a leash?
As you proceed further into the Upper Labyrinth, the ruins grow more tumbled, more decayed. They bear only a vague resemblance to the typical Northern architecture, onion domes and obelisks, pyramids and igloos. Instead the ruins of the seemingly endless city are blocky, layer upon layer of rectangles, squares, diamonds and rhombi. The area closest to you seems as if it may be a particular location, a village or a city inside the endless sprawl of ruin. A broad, broken avenue is under your feet, its bone-white stones falling away into the dark below whenever stepped on with too much force. Under the stones is apparently nothing at all. This city, or maybe just this road, hangs over an abyss.
Mendhari: "Let's go to the Southeast."
Iron Horse: "That sound's coming from the northwest though..."
Ferryman: "The spirit is to the Northwest. Come. You must follow if you are to do the Lord's bidding."
Mendhari: ".... don't make me go."
Anstice: "If the ferryman says we go, we go... I'd take you back if I could. You know that... this won't be THAT bad..."
The northwestern part of the ruined city is thick with buildings, many still partially intact. It is in the shadow of one towering monolith festooned with balconies and buttresses that you find the source of the noises. Three black-robed figures armed with Soulsteel weapons are fighting valiantly against a pack of shimmeringly uncolored ghosts and a baying pack of black hounds the size of tigers.
Two of the black-robed figures are male. The larger of the pair is quite huge, nearly 7 feet tall with shoulders that could likely carry a horse. He hews into the pack of Barghests with an axe that sucks away their howling cries as it kills them, moving methodically, almost as if he were nothing more then a zombie.
The smaller man whips his Reaper Daiklave through the uncolored ghosts, striking at them and pulling them into his mouth and blade slowly, consuming their very Essence.
The third figure, a woman of astonishing beauty that makes Mendhari seem plain, threatens yet more of the uncolored ghosts with a long-hafted poleaxe that seems too heavy for her.
Anstice: "I was speaking more of the weapons themselves, not the wielders."
Mendhari: "..... good."
Both sides have noticed you, but they are quite busy enough. Neither bothers diverting attention to your group.
Ferryman: "The woman, she is the spirit who will tell you what the Lord Charon wishes you to know. Farewell."
Iron Horse: "... huh... really?"
Iron Horse: "Yeah?"
Iron Horse: "The ghosts and stuff?"
Mendhari: ".... they would be our death..."
Anstice: "The ghosts, the dogs... if we are careful, we can assist them without getting hurt. And then we can get out of here much faster. Everyone agreed?"
Anstice: "It is far from my favorite thing to be doing either. Had I my way, we would be enjoying ice-wine atop one of the towers of Chiaroscuro watching the sunset."
Iron Horse: "So, where's K when you need him?"
Anstice: He works his way over to the beautiful woman, offering an offhand comment or two to punctuate the constant barrage of tightly-constrained slashes.
The Mortwrights, that is what the colorless ghosts appear to be upon closer inspection and consideration, and the Barghests are quickly dispatched by the five Exalted and the female ghost. Once the last Barghest gasps its last, its head smooshed by a kick from Iron Horse, the three Soulsteel bearing people regard their unexpected allies.
Anstice: "We are somewhat rushed for time, and thus simply wish to speed the possible transaction. Our particular question, however, is with her, and not you."
Anstice: "We seek information on the Daughter. If you believe we err in where we stand, take it up with the ferryman."
Anstice: "She has turned against the cause of the void. Is that not enough?"
The Fair Lady in Waiting is a voluptuous young woman, probably not more then 23 when she died. Her smooth curves are hidden under the drapes of soft grey linen and wool she affects, but when she alters her stance they press against the clothing in a fashion that somehow reveals them without :showing anything at all. Her bare arms show evidence of physical strength as they hold the heavy pole-axe steady.
Anstice: "Then speak, and we will let you on your way."
Fair Lady In Waiting?: "You have not asked a question. I can not speak *all* that I know of the Daughter in the time we have. But ask, and I shall tell you what I know." She smiles at Anstice and he feels a stirring in his heart.
Anstice: "Her weakness is a good place to start, if you may tell us of that."
Fair Lady In Waiting?: "She is willful and selfish, all is what she wishes it to be in her eyes. She is also blinded by her loyalty to her Mother and he who claims to act in her name while her mind sleeps. I once served her, but now she has cast me out. The Prince has taken me in."
Anstice: "Claims? That implies he does not truly."
Fair Lady In Waiting?: "Know that she is of great intelligence and a master of tactics and warfare. Even as a half-blood, she was placed over Terrestrials and Lunars in the First Age, so great was her skill. I have seen no *evidence* that anyone can speak for the Demon Wind. But I am not of a mind to know the workings of the Primordials."
Fair Lady In Waiting?: "Weaknesses...she has lost much of the favor of the Malfeans, if not all. The Undead no longer serve her unless compelled by magic. The dead fear her and fear to serve her, the other Deathlords have turned against her openly. These are all weaknesses."
Mendhari: "Oh good. How about a good way to KILL her?"
Anstice: "We may not have to find that out ourselves..."
Iron Horse: "... oh, sure. That sounds easy."
Anstice: "Hrm.... Actually, no. That's doable. Difficult to be sure, but if she has lost the favor of the Malfeans, doable. What we need, of course, is a way to draw her to the Well. Something to strike at her pride, or love of her mother."
Iron Horse: "Ideas?"
Fair Lady In Waiting?: "Pause for a moment and I will tell you a few things more before I depart. The Daughter commands only five Deathknights, two of the Dusk and one of all the rest but for Day. She herself is of great martial power and skill, though the First and Forsaken Lion could best her. Her armies are those of the demons and between her mind-slumbering Mother and Celphindal the Unmaker, she can call on many demons indeed."
Fair Lady In Waiting?: "Celphindal is her master, though he wishes her to think otherwise. Beyond that, I know nothing of him and I know none who is wiser. He is well hidden and of his inner hearts and sanctum self, nothing is known in this land. If you have questions, ask. I must depart."
Anstice: "Then depart. We thank you for your time."
Fair Lady In Waiting?: The three servants of the Prince Bound In Chains Not There take their leave, heading to the northeast, opposite of where the Sidereals came from. The Fair Lady in Waiting looks back over her shoulder to smile at the two men before the broad back of the larger Deathknight eclipses her.
Anstice: "We find a way to bring her to heel... I think it may, just may, be possible to put her on trial before the Malfeans..."
Iron Horse: "... huh?"
Anstice: "Ghosts are notable creatures of habit. If we can convince her to prove something in Stygia, she is much easier to throw into the void. I just wonder who will claim her Deathknights."
Mendhari: ".... a trial may work. Or...something that would appeal to a Deathlord's arrogance."
Anstice: "Yes. Perhaps we should discuss further elsewhere? As in not in the labyrinth?"
Mendhari: "Indeed. Let us get out of this dark hole."
Iron Horse: "... yeah, we should... let's get going then..."