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Chres





Chres nodded at Jen's words.

”With any luck, the soldiers we sent in with Týfurkh still have his equipment. However beelining it to the basement doesn't feel smart. Who knows how long it will take to kill the Seed. We'll need to secure our footing in the building first, and then hopefully that will buy us enough time to take on the Seed.”

Karina's blade impaled one of the cultists straight through. Chres hurried to catch up. Quickly he shaped a spear in his hand and dispatched another cultist that tried to take Karina in the back.

Chres let the spear construct dissipate, and turned his focus towards another cultist, blocking his attack with his hatchet.

”Go on ahead.” He said to Jen and Octavio. ”We'll met you in there soon. See if our friend needs help and make sure our soldiers get to work securing the building.”
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Týfurkh


Týfurkh's heartbeat was skyrocketing. This whole plan was breaking apart even far, far, far sooner than he had expected in his worst thoughts. There probably would not have been any earlier point in time for this to happen at all, and when the soldier decided to draw the crystal jade candle, but then even failed to smash the thing properly, it just added up to the whole... if it had not been about both their lives he could have happily called it 'disappointment'!

Yet at least this issue could be fixed on the spot. Týfurkh made sure his teeth were aligned properly and right on top of each other with his tongue safely out of the way the instant before he lifted his foot and stomped onto the halfway broken candle the hardest he could. Even without armor this was extremely hard, not only causing a loud thud but more importantly crushing the jade candle much more thoroughly. What felt like a few splinters dug their way into the thick layer of skin lining the underside of Týfurkh's feet so he'd have to try and avoid using these areas until he could pull them out at least, but more importantly now the energy contained in the material could roam freely.

A burst emanated from underneath his foot, pushing it away and surging towards Sightless Talne's greedy tentacles and face as Týfurkh tried to use the opportunity and lept to the side. They needed the others, now! And he needed to find his gear, or any gear at least even if didn't fit properly. However he already started to feel that being that close to a full-blown jade candle explosion apparently did more than just bury a few splinters of its glass housing in one's skin. His foot felt hot like a torch!
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Plot Point





Blinding light surged from shattered candle. The light itself almost seeming to twinkle in the air. Many cultists dropped to the ground stunned by the sudden lost of Insight. Most impacted, however was the Sightless.

"Attack!" The lead soldier shouted, snapping to his senses. "And for senses sake! Give Týfurkh back his gear men!"

The soldiers disguised as wall guards, jumped to life. Giving Týfurkh his equipment back and setting to work at securing the building. The lead soldier and three others quickly drew their weapons and attacked the most threating opponent. The Sightless.

The scene turned to choas, with dieing Cultist falling to the ground like flies. Some of the cultist, however, manage to recover from their shock and quickly got back to their feet in a vain attempt to fend off their attackers.

The soldier were quick to secure the back entrance of the Church meeting up with Karina, Jen, Octavio, Chres and the remain soldiers not in disguise. With the back entrance secure, three groups of soldiers split off. the first group started making ground towards the front with some of the soldier strategically positioning furniture to cover the bigger windows in the building. The second group worked to secure the second floor, as they started fighting their way up the nearby staircase. The third group of soldiers, a significantly smaller group, made for the basement.

Back with the Sightless, the soldiers had been quick to make swallow wounds. they had initially been thrown off by the thickness of the Sightless's skin but they adjusted quickly, attempting to pierce the hide with sharp thrusts rather than attacking with slashes.

The Sightless cried out in sorrow, confusion, pain and fury. Sorrow at the sudden lost of Insight. Confusion at the sudden attack. Pain from the wounds inflicted upon him. And fury at his inability to anticipate the attack.

He attacked with his sharpened tendrils blindly. Taking out one of the soldiers in the attack. He then leapt backwards in an attempt to avoid more attacks only to collide with a soldier behind him, who then lodged his sword in the Sightless's back shoulder.

Sightless Talne roared, as his wounds slowly worked to heal up. He turn his left fingers into a second set of tendrils and dung them into the earth beneath his feet. He needed to reconnect with the roots of the seed of Insight! He need to get some form of vision back!

Deep into the earth, the tendrils dug, following a familiar pulsing. The call of the Seed and the Insight it promised. At last he found it! His tendrils wrapped around the Seed's root. Dots of life spring up in his sightless gaze. A piece of Insight returned! While he could not make out the building, He could now see the living soldiers around him.

Yes! Now he could fight back! Now he could...

The Slightless turned his gaze downwards, the Insight calling out in warning. There were people in the basement?! More soldiers!

The soldiers in the basement raised their swords and hacked with all their might. And just like that, they chopped his tendrils in two.

The world went dark once more. His connection to the Insight lost yet again. Sightless Talne bellowed in rage as the enemy descended upon him. They struck again and again, at one point even salting his wounds which in turn countered his ability to heal.

Before long, he lay on the floor dying. He cursed the town. Cursed the pactmakers. Cursed Sightless Nieffar for not leaving sooner... but most of all, he cursed himself... cursed himself for staying. For had he left Nieffar behind, then none of this would have happened.




The battle for the church ended as quickly as it started. Chres breathed a sigh of relief. For once something in this town had actually been easy. Chres shook his head.

"Feels good to finally be the ones with the numbers on our side." He said.

"SHHHHH!" Sil said, fluttering over one of the dead cultists. "They're sleeping!"

"Nope." He replied irritably, as if he didn't have the time to deal with her nonsense. "Just dead."

Sil huffed and crossed her arms. "Rude."

Chres rolled his eyes and waved her off.

"We best hurry." He said looking to Karina. "Your soldiers can't hold this place forever."

One of the soldiers from the basement arrived in a hurry.

"Lieutenant Colonel!" The soldier said. "You best come take a look at this!"




The Pactmakers found no Seed of Insight in the basement of the Church. What they did find was a hidden tunnel that seemed to be shrouded in darkness. Chres could make out faint hints of a rank smell coming from the tunnel. It smelled like rot and death. This had to be it. The seed had to be at the end of this tunnel.

Chres took out the Crystal Jade Candle Karina had given him. Its light did not even make it to the tunnel's end.

"Scary..." Sil whispered. Chres couldn't help but nod in agreement

"I'll go first" He said, as he entered the dark abyss...
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Karina Frost





Karina pulled out her rapier with a swift motion as she stepped back just the moment the other cultist was about to attack her back. Fortunately, Chres threw a construct spear on him before he could strike Karina.
With a silent nod of thanks, Karina swung her blade, cleaning the blood before she pointed it forward again, giving a glance to Chres as she did so.

"We still have a lot of work to do." Karina asked, looking to the others with a serious stare.

This was but one of the battles they had yet to face and just like the others, one they had to win.




The battle for the church was a fierce and violent one. Once again, Karina was reminded of how much of a threat the mysterious sightless were. Even after the cultists fell, the sightless continued to fight. If just one of those creatures was able to give them this much trouble, Karina shuddered to think of what an army of them would be able to do. All of them wielding the same strange powers the sightless had...

With the majority of the cultists dead thanks to the soldiers they had brought with them, the sightless could do little but resist as better as it could to their attacks.

"Don't be reckless and continue attacking! Surround it, don't let it run and continue attacking! This is a battle of attrition, just continue wearing it down!" Karina shouted, using her ice magic to steadily launch her ice blades towards the sightless, aiming to further and further prevent it from moving or attacking too much, while surrounding him with the help of the soldiers, Chres, Octavio, Týfurkh and the others.

The battle was going very well, just as Karina had envisioned. The steady attacks coming from all sides were overwhelming the sightless, that could do little but to try and defend itself and trash it's sharpened tendrils around. That was until it dug it's tendrils deep within the earth, cracking the ground below them. Just after it did so, for some reason, it's wounds, that previously covered it's body began to slowly, but surely heal and appeared to be recovering it's energy, despite all the damage it had suffered.

"Under the church... The seed?!" Karina said to herself, alarmed as she realized exactly what the sightless was using to regain it's powers.

"Don't break the formation! Stay strong!" Karina shouted, encouraging the soldiers to continue where they are and not desperate themselves, especially after the roar and the sudden renewed vigor the sightless gained.

"Salt! Throw it on it's wounds!" Karina shouted to the soldiers, silently hoping that the other group of soldiers who went to the basement could find and cut the sightless' tentacles.

Fortunately, whatever it was that the sightless found underground to give it that tremendous surge of power was suddenly cut away from him by the soldiers who went to the basement. That, coupled with the salt the other soldiers were using to prevent it's regeneration sealed the sightless' fate.




With the battle finally over and with their forces having completely controlled the church, Karina walked around for a bit, giving orders to the remaining soldiers and making sure the ones that got wounded were receiving proper first aid.

"Not for long. We are still on their city..." Karina said, stopping near Chres as he mentioned that it was good having the numerical advantage.

"I know... My soldiers can hold on this position for a while, since the church is a good fortified position. It should be enough for us to deal with the seed. But our time is still limited. Their numbers will sooner or later overwhelm us if we are not quick enough." Karina said, agreeing with Chres.

"Are you sure it won't suddenly get up again?" Akai, whom was carefully nudging the dead remains of the sightless with her feet asked.

"Ugh! This thing is disgusting!" she said as her nudge made the sightless' body turn and one of it's tendrils to fall down on the ground with an audible sound.

At that exact moment, one of the soldiers who had previously got down to the basement called Karina, saying he had something to show her. Looking to Chres and the others, silently saying that they should probably come as well, Karina followed the soldier.

Unlike what Karina was expecting, the seed wasn't exactly on the basement, but instead there was a long, dark tunnel with a foul smell coming from it. Even the very atmosphere inside the tunnel seemed to be somehow... wrong. There was a high probability that the thing they were looking for, the seed, was on the end of that foul tunnel.

"We are just behind you, Chres." Karina said as Chres volunteered to go first.

The moment he gave the first steps inside though, Karina suddenly put the hand on his shoulders.

"Remember, you are not alone." Karina said with determined eyes. Albeit short, she hoped her words would help to dispell any doubts that may be arising on his mind as they entered the tunnel.
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Plot Point





Chres' back stiffened at Karina's touch. He turned to look at her hand.

The Karina he had seen thus far was a dutiful woman who wouldn't hesitate to kill someone she believed a danger to her mission's success. But of late he had begun to realize there was more to this woman's character than her sense of duty. There was compassion as well. A sense of loyalty to her comrades.

He turned his gaze to her. Chres wasn't quite sure yet what to make of this new side of Karina. There was a part of Chres that wanted to reject her kindness. To turn her words around and tell her that this kindness was misplaced.

Instead, Chres relented, deciding it better to not reinforce the woman's concerns. He looked her in the eyes and gave a hard, tired, uncertain, yet kind smile.

With a nod, he turned his eyes forward and stepped into the tunnel's darkness.




The tunnel went on for some time. Long enough that Chres began to wonder whether there was even an end. The only sign of a potential end being the ever growing smell of rot and death.

At long last, the pactmakers reached and opening into a room that appeared to have at one point been an expensive cellar. Barrels of wine lined the walls. Some still intact. Others, broken to bits.

Towards the back of the room, on the left, there appeared to be a stairwell leading upwards. However, that stairwell was no longer reachable. The wooden flooring before it appearing to have disintegrated away. And it wasn't just the flooring that appeared to have disintegrated, but earth beneath flooring as well.

Indeed, in the back of the room was a giant domed shaped hole. And at its center, a pile of corpses. Corpses being fed upon by a monstrosity.

Chres breathed in as he took in the Sight of what could be none other than the Seed of Insight. On the surface, it appear similar to human skeleton, except its bones were black and wood like, similar to the skin of a Sightless. But at the same time, it was all wrong.

The Seed's lower body appeared to be embedded deep into the earth, with only its deformed and enlarged hip bones emerging from the soil. From there, the spine was elongated. Far longer than it should be. With its back curved backwards unnaturally in a parabolic shape.

From the shoulder blades, the arms hung downwards and dug back into the earth. Its neck, curved back 180 degrees further, ending in an enlarged skull. Something appeared to beat from within the skull... could it be, a heart???

Chres blinked and shook his head. His gaze shifting to what appeared to have once been the Seed's rib cage. Its ribs curved outwards instead of inwards. Looking almost like a flower in bloom. flayed skins seemed to stretch out between the ribs like webbed feet. At times it even seemed to fuse into and out of the bone. At the center of this... ribcage flower... were human organs fused together in a mishmash of grotesqueness.

The intestines flayed about in a messy disarray, twisting in and out of bone and at times fusing with it. The Intestines seemed to act similar to blood veins. at places they were translucent revealing the greenish-yellow ooze being pumped through the Seed's system.

But all of this was not the end of the monstrosity. At the center of the seed, from where the heart should have been, three thick tendrils sprouted outward. Embedded at the base of each these tendrils were more hearts, which beat to the rhythm of the heart in the Seed's Skull.

The tendrils themselves appeared to be made of braided bones and sinew, which split off multiple times forming several individual free moving tendrils. Collectively, they moved about, picking at the pile of corpses before them. When the Seed found a corpse it liked, it would pick it up and pull it back towards the center of the seed. Towards what appeared to be a bloated, mutated stomach.

The corpses would sink into this stomach on contact, disappearing beneath the surface and only serving to expand the stomach further. Chres could only surmise that the Seed was consuming these corpses. Merging them into its very being.

Chres wanted to vomit. Fortunately, though, he managed to keep his stomach intact.

"Is it not incredible-" Started the dry sound voice of a Sightless, "-what a bit of Insight will do to a person?"

Sightless Nieffar appeared from behind the Seed, his hands clasped in front of him.

"Although, this one received far more than a small dose of Insight. Indeed, we had been dosing him with high amounts of Insight for weeks before he turned Sightless." Nieffar said, placing a hand fondly atop the Seed's skull.

"He was doomed to take this form from the start. You see, one does not remain Sightless for long after receiving frequent high doses of Insight like he did. Indeed, shortly after scratching out his own eyes, he could not help but give into his new found addiction. The moment he turned Sightless, The once great O'Kal, Lord of Shimmer Town, took the final plunge into the depths of Insight. And so it consumed him. Reducing him to the mindless Seed of Insight you see before you."

Lord O'Kal?!?! The Seed of Insight was Lord O’Kal?! The Lord of Shimmer Town?!

"Senses..." Chres breathed out. The implications of it all hitting him at once.

Lord O'Kal had reportedly locked himself inside his manor ever since the Distortion occurred. Not accepting audiences even before the Day of Madness.

Senses! The Seed used to be a person! That meant, the Sightless could turn people into these monstrosities?! No... Chres shook his head. Nieffar had specifically stated that it was after someone became Sightless, that they then could turn into these monstrosities...

Chres re-examined the cellar before him. Senses... they were in Lord O'Kal's manor! In the Lord's very own cellar!

“Such a tragic end for Lord O'Kal. More depressing yet, we no longer need him.” Nieffar continued.

His hand traced down the skull and along the Seed's twisted spine. There was a look of yearning on the Sightless' face.

”My work here has built me a connection to this town just as strong as any connection that the of Lord O’Kal had to this land. This town was promised to me. Given to me. I molded it. Shaped it into a place where the Clan could call home. I planted its seed. Tended to it even! This town… It belongs to me.”

Nieffar’s wood-like skin began to warp and crack. Tendrils, not unlike the seed’s, emerging from within. Ever since that day back at the clock tower, that day when the pactmakers nearly overwhelmed him, the Insight’s call had changed.

Nearly taking the plunge into the darkest depths of Insight had changed everything for him. The amount of Insight granted to a Sightless no longer able to sate him.

He had gotten a taste of the Insight’s full knowledge. A knowledge only Vetius was known to be able to wield. Everyone else who tried, the power consumed them. Turning them into Seeds like the one before him.

Things would be different this time though. Nieffar knew it in his bones. He could wield this knowledge! Wield it just as well… NO!... Better than Vetius! He had trained for a century as Sightless! Had long since learned to be one with the Insight. It would not take him like it had with this pathetic lord! He could use it! Use the Insight's full power and turn the tides of battle in the Clan's favor! He would fix it! He would fix everything!

And so Nieffar took the plunge. His mind falling into the Insight’s depths. He could see things! Yes! So many things! The past! The present! The future! The past! The present! The future! The past! The present! The future!

Nieffar’s body grew and warped. The cracks along his skin growing. His flesh beginning to peel away. Chres’ heart began to race at the gruesome sight. He held his breath and took a step back. His eyes widening further every second.

"This power is mine! It belongs to me!" Nieffar roared as his body warped and legs dug into the earth. "I can control it! I can control anything!"

Nieffar bit into the Seed. His jaw seeming the fuse into it. The world pulsed with a blinding darkness that ate at the light of the crystal Jade candles.

"I-I... CAN CONTROL... WE C-C-CAN CONTROL..."

At last the darkness gave way. The dim light from the candle filling the room yet again. The seed had transformed; splitting off into two Seeds, both merged together at the hip.

"W-WE... CAN C-CONTROL... ALL..." The Seeds roared in unison. "W-W-WE... SEE... ALL..."

The Seed's tendrils sprung to life. Shooting out at the pactmakers and the soldiers behind them.
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Týfurkh


Týfurkh felt himself hating himself. Could this plan of his have worked out any better if he had done anything better or just planned with a little more intelligence in his head ? The fact that he could probably never give himself an answer to this question kept nagging at the man for just too many resources had been spent on the previous fight: Their last jade candle, the number of soliders who either had died or been wounded because he had been busy strapping his gear back one, the amount of time they had lost on a plan that had worked out for... half a minute maybe ?

He needed to concentrate on here and now even if that meant exposing his mind to what was euphemistically called 'the seed', blatantly ignoring the fact that a seed usually was a good thing while this was nothing but a monstrosity that surpassed pretty much anything even the most unreasonable experimenter could cook up in a laboratory. Except if he or she was with this cult, that was...

He did not want to end up as yet another corpse in this pit, not end up as nourishment for this aberration that sought after ultimate knowledge but had lost any reason on the first mile of its journey already. The small question was: How to stop it now that the level of uglyness and the number of tentacles roaming around had just doubled ?

This was a damn wine cellar! Wine was mostly water, so it didn't burn. Something burning however was what Týfurkh felt they needed. Maybe burning the corpses could starve the thing to death if they could just keep the willing servants away long enough ? Or was there another way to empty the feeding trough ? Having rushed into cover a fair bit away and hoping for everyone else to share this most instinctive reaction for the lack of obvious alternatives, Týfurkh shouted out to the others: "Gonna try and set up an explosion! This will be ugly!"

Easier said than done though for being in cover also meant that the very depth of the pit did not have a direct line of sight with him. He'd have to work his acoustic magic in a very well placed manner and as intensively as possible to have any effect...
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Chres





Chres stood frozen to the spot. Eyes wide. He had seen death, murder, monsters, but this...

One of the Seed's many tendrils launched towards his chest.

"Chres!"

Chres blinked and Shaped a towershield at the last possible moment. The tendril collided hard against the shield. Its force tossing him backwards and causing him to lose his grip on the crystal Jade candle.

Chres landed on his back, the candle landing far to his right. As his heat construct dissipated, Chres groaned and started pushing himself to his feet.

"Chres! Chres! CHRES!" Sil cried out again in a hurry.

Chres snapped his head up. Two more tendrils shot his way. Chres threw himself sideways and rolled.

One of the tendrils shot past him instead choosing to impale a less fortunate soldier. The other tendril twisted and contorted, before finally shooting again towards Chres.

Having come to a halt, Chres shaped a smaller shield and slapped the tendril aside. The move seemed ineffective. The tendril instead wrapping around the shield before then twisting around his arm.

Chres' eyes widened. He took out his hatchet and hacked the tendril in two, freeing him from its grasp.

Chres breathed out, and quickly got to his feet.

The hearts... Chres recalled. They had to go for the hearts.

"Gonna try and set up an explosion! This will be ugly!" Týfurkh said.

Chres nodded. Any source of additional light would be helpful. He couldn't fight while holding that crystal Jade candle. That much was clear!
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Karina Frost





The scene that Karina and the rest of the pactmakers were greeted upon reaching the end of that dark tunnel could only be described as something straight out of a nightmare. The seed, a nightmarish creature was impossible to be described. It's deformed human body was complete with a black skeleton and an disproportionately large skull, which seemed to beat in a strange manner, almost as if there was a heart inside it. it's arms and legs seemed to function like roots, extending far underground and feeding from the pile of corpses that was near it. The fetid odour only made the scene even more terrifying. All the details, from the corpses to the inverted ribcage and the almagmation of fused, human organs inside of it was something hard to even look at.

The voice of sightless Niefar as he began speaking provoked nothing but a deep disgust and hatred from Karina, enough to make the air around her condense and a thin layer of ice forming on her feet. Such monstrosity should not exist and those responsible for it should be swiftly eliminated with extreme prejudice. The fact that the seed was once a human, Lord O'kal nonetheless, only made things even worse.

"So this is what the insight can do to a person..." Karina said disgusted by what she was seeing.

When Sightless Niefar's skin began to warp and crack, Karina already knew that nothing good was about to happen. But she would have never imagine that she would witness the exact process of how a 'seed' was created. With each word from Sightless Nieffar, in a delirious fervor, claiming that the power from the seed belonged to him, his body grew more, with his skin peeling and his body warping in a gruesome sight as he dug his lower body into the earth, similarly on how Lord O'kal's body was.

When the process was finally over, they were left with not one, but two seeds, joined at the hip. Their voices echoed together as the tendrils coming from both seeds shot at them, impaling an unlucky soldier and almost hitting Chres.

"Snap out of it! Keep your eyes on the tendrils! Chres! Any ideas on how to deal with them?" Karina shouted, both to Chres, asking him if he knew anything about the seed and to the soldiers.

"I can protect us from the fire and the explosion!" Karina said to Týfurkh, agreeing with his idea as the air became much colder around their group. The thin layer of ice growing thicker in order for Karina to be able to protect them both from the flames and should the explosion send any shrapnel to their way.
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Chres





Six more tendrils shot out. Two shot towards Karina, one towards Octavio, one at Chres, and the last two shot towards the soldiers in the back.

Chres jumped to the side, but the tendril reacted almost immediately, catching him by the leg.

"CHRES!" Sil cried out in terror. Eyes wide, she zipped towards the tendril moving left and right, not quite sure what to do.

Chres felt himself get lifted up in the air by the leg. Reacting quickly, Chres curled his body upright, Shaped a blade, and hacked away the tendril.

The Seed roared as Chres dropped back to the ground in a thud. Beside him he heard a scream from another soldier as he was lifted into the air by tendril and submerged into the depths of the Seed's stomach.

Chres shook his head at Karina's words.

"There are too many." Chres sucked in a breath as one of the more thick tendrils came down, as if trying to crush him. Quickly he threw himself out of the tendril's path.

"I can Weave a heat construct into a temporary wall for protection if we need to buy time for an attack" Chres look to Týfurkh "But my stores of body heat are already low from our last battle. So it would be best to use it sparingly."

Another tendril swung sideways. Chres ducked under it.

"If this Seed used to be a Sightless, then maybe it has similar weaknesses."

Chres looked to the abandoned Crystal jade candle. Their only source of light in the darkened Cellar and shook his head. No they couldn't just go smashing their only source of light. At least not unless they could get some other source of light.

"The Being told us to take out its hearts, but with all these tendrils, we'll have a hard time ever getting close enough. At least not with attacks that it can easily 'see'."

Chres's gaze fell on Octavio. The man's whole magic revolved around creating constructs of light. "Perhaps we can confuse it. Redirect its attacks in a blind attempt to defend itself."

"We need to be quick." Chres looked to Jen. "Quick enough to weave in and out of its attacks, while still gaining ground.

"Perhaps even distract it." His comments then directed at Karina while jumping out of the way of another attack. "Force to to focus on threats that can attack from afar."

This creature claimed to be able to see everything. Well it was time to put that to the test.

Chres drew out enough stored body heat to Weave a box shaped Heat construct around Týfurkh with holes for air.

"Do your thing Týfurkh. Though keep in mind that this wall of protection last for a few minutes." Chres said as he tied off the Weave. "The light and fire from this explosion might help further confuse the Seed. Give me a yell when you need me to take the shields down."

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Týfurkh


"If everything works well you won't have to take them down!" Týfurkh shouted, although his voice was seriously muffled whenever not directly speaking through one of the holes Chres had deliberately left open. These... heat constructs... were one damn handy thing to have, that was for sure, and Týfurkh couldn't help but secretly admire the man who was able to weave them with such accuracy despite massive repetition again and again.

Not that anybody else in the party had lacked their skill or not proven to be of great benefit for them all so far. The question was: Would he be in the end, too ? All he could do was work on it! Týfurkh started moving his mouth, his colossal chest greedily consuming the air around him so he could let it pass through his vocal chords to form an invisible trap. Or was it even invisible to the sightless ? Maybe not, but Týfurkh could not care less at this point for it would still need the sightless to actually find out that 'it' would be able to prematurely trigger the spell by moving one of the tentacles into it, which in turn however would also mean that said tentacle would no longer be available for going after anybody else while being busy preventing another buildup to an explosion. So in any case they would win, would they ?

Týfurkh's hope was that the sightless indeed was not able to see what was going over its 'head' in the first place however, and the chance of any tentacle accidentally triggering the spell was pretty low for he had placed it not directly as deep in the hole as possible from his position, but on the contrary directly below the ceiling. The plan was for the shockwave to be reflected downwards by the massive stone and then having nowhere to go down in the hole, forcing any of its contents to go up sideways and upwards.

Yes, it was a very veritable mess he was approving. There were quite a few dead bodies down in that pit and these might come up as well, but what was the alternative ? Going into melee they'd have to even step onto them anyway!

Time almost seemed to slow down for Týfurkh despite the fact that no temporal magic was involved for certain. The moving tentacles started to blur in his vision more and more, their various impacts became less and less distinguishable from each other in his ears as he transferred as much of his mental capacity as he could onto weaving the trap. Maybe not having participated in the previous fight now would even pay off a bit, even if completely unintentionally, because he was not tired yet.

Ready! Týfurkh now just neeeded to set the thing off himself and the perfect tool for this was his crossbow and one of the holes in the shield to shoot through. He aimed at the ceiling knowing that he was going to blast through an invisible beehive full of what was basically sound beyond a deafening intensity.

"Cover!" he yelled, then pulled the trigger.
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Two, six o'clock.

A guard caught in battle whipped around and slashed at a cultist behind him. There was no reasonable way he could have seen the foe approaching behind him, nor strike back with such speed.

One, three o'clock.

Another guard took advantage of a scuffle to dig his polearm into a cultist's ribs. The man's movements were uncanny, a rabid sprint towards his sudden target that had more in common with a dancing puppet than a human's organic movements.

As Octavio's experiences in battle grew against his will, he found himself refining what it meant to fight effectively. He assumed a more administrative role now, developing a steadier hand when it came to directing his illusions. No longer simple disposable peons, he was beginning to see the use in preserving them, using them to surveil each other and take advantage of every blind spot and moment of weakness he could carve out with their eyes.

Two, 4 o'clock, form flank.

From the thick of battle a familiar in the shape of a lynx hopped from body to body, mentally sending commands to the man who was technically, begrudgingly, his owner. No sooner than he finished the thought a guard joined a loose group of people who were uncertain about whether or not to engage. His appearance and charge bolstered them into doing the same, flanking the opponent before anyone changed their mind.

Octavio himself took to the shadows. It was an overwhelming amount of information and stimuli, a deluge of sight and sensation. More than once he found himself nearly curling into a ball so he could focus entirely on the illusions. It was a strange, new way of battling. Gone was the scrappy rogue that threw everything at an opponent until it stopped moving. In his place was a more tired man, one who had more in common with a shepherd or a puppeteer.

"Get up!" shouted one of his guards to a younger man whose entire body shook. He yanked the hammer the man had been wielding and handed him a short sword. "Something like that's too heavy for you to use right. Take this and aim for the wounded." The young man nodded with a twitch and took off.

Hmph. Employment of social skills. Excellent work taking notice of that boy.

Th...anks. Octavio's eyes slammed shut. Too much happening, too much being taken in. For every piece on the board that had been meddled with two more required his influence.



The board had shifted. The pieces that hadn't been trampled followed suit at the mercy of it. Rot and death followed and entrapped them within its squares, depraved simulacra of plant and flesh enveloping land and choking air. It was as if a nightmare had torn through the veil of the mind and began to devour the world around it. There was no storybook or grimoire in existence that neared this... being's description. It was the board and it was the piece, the king and every pawn held together through bone, bark, and wet ligament. And then the tendrils struck.

One, three o'clock! Two, four and seven o'clock! One, three! Three, nine!

With a slam towards the ground Octavio commanded his illusions to dodge their newest threat, only just avoiding collision with one aimed towards him. His new strategies were still tentative, still prone to failings, and now Lynx was struggling to keep up verbally. In the past they'd taken advantage of his illusions and the blank space they occupied to the sightless. It'd be harder to employ that strategy here, he knew. Space was in short supply and tendrils could break through at any given moment. He needed something more aggressive.

He hacked at the tendril with a calm precision that surprised him. He needed to employ a level of self-preservation he'd never felt before.

"I've got the numbers to try a couple of tricks with. Perhaps with an even spread we can see where this rancid thing's vulnerabilities lie." Chres had his own suggestions, more on the defensive side. "I'll distract if distracting's what we need, though it'd be best to pair it with some solid firepower. Pairing up an attacker with an illusion to counter any surprise tendrils."

Then Týfurkh mentioned a bomb.

"Good luck." A bead of sweat trailed down his forehead. He couldn't tell whether it was because the word triggered a sudden rush of adrenaline within him, or whether it had been caused by their fleshy surroundings. He positioned himself and his illusions far away from the man, forming a quick formation in which they could cover each other's backs. It looked humorous from any perspective other than a bird's eye view, but he wasn't thinking as an individual body anymore.

"Cover!"

The game board. Once again, it shifted.

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Chres





Chres hit the ground as Týfurkh let loose an explosion different than he expected. Not an explosion of fire, but an explosion of sound instead. The resonance chamber erupted in a loud boom. Its force ripping several thinner tendrils, their severed bits falling to the ground. The thicker tendrils, however, only had chunks taken out of them.

Chres took down the heat construct around Týfurkh. The seed roared in anger. Pools of greenish-Yellow blood oozing out of the seed's wounds

"We have an opening!" Chres shouted.

"WE-WE-WE-WE..." Speech seemed to have become difficult for Nieffar after turning into a seed. "WE SEE-SEE-SEE-SEE..."

Black sprouts shot out of the Seed's wounds, twisting together like vines. They clotted the pools of flowing Seed blood far faster than a normal Sightless and worked quickly to regenerate the missing tendrils.

Chres' eyes widened. If they didn't act soon then they would lose their chance to take out one of the hearts. Chres rushed forward but paused when he noticed that the four thickest tendrils had shifted their attention to Týfurkh. All four raised high, about to crush him.

Chres cursed. Someone else would have to take a go at one of the hearts. Turning on his heels, he raced towards Týfurkh and quickly Weaved a protective barrier above them.

The first tendril came smashing down with a deafening sound. The Heat construct held. The second tendril hit. The construct almost seemed to groan from the impact. The third tendril hit. The construct cracked. Chres' heart skipped a beat.

"GO! GO! GO!" He shouted to Týfurkh in quick succession.

The forth tendril came down with a crash. the construct shattered. Chres jumped out of the way, and barely avoided getting crushed.

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And with that, it was over. The group had managed to overcome the sightless and overwhelm him. Sightless Talne was felled and with it they had done the incredible. They had fought and won against one of the hardest foes they would encounter in this cult. Truthfully just eliminating of them felt like a grand victory of sorts, but they were not finished yet. This was but a detour from their true objective, which was to destroy the seed, and with that its hold on the people they had controlled with their insight.

The descent downwards into the cellar greeted them with a foul odor of rotting flesh. It was a charnal house with rotting half eaten corpses strewn around this monstrosity. In the center was what appeared to Jen, a morbid, and grotesque imitation of a seedling sprouting in the basement. Nieffar would appear and reveal the truth of what this thing was. It was Lord O'Kal who had been given enough insight to become this freaky tree-monster. It made Jen's hair raise as he understood the type of fate that would befall Anís should he fail to get her in time, and also what he'd have to do with Chres when the time came.

Nieffar would then merge with the seed, which somehow didn't surprise him. Which was probably because he was expecting some sort of complication to their task of killing the seed. The fleshy tendrils would fly at everyone, and Jen responded with a lean so low the tendrils passed over him. Týfurkh would come up with a plan of attack using fire which Jen would along with. As soon he yelled "Cover!" Fiery splinters would light up the cellar as Jen to whatever would act as cover. The seed would roar in pain as the wood skewered its foul tendrils spilling its foul blood everywhere.

Chres would yell that they had an opening, and that Týfurkh needed to get a move on. One of the tendrils seemed rather low-lying and ready to be attacked. Jen would swiftly go to it, his staff would swing down on it. His swing would be endowed with sufficient strength to keep it pinned hopefully. Should it be pinned, it would mean the others could destroy one of the hearts.
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Karina Frost





Karina heard Chres' words in silence, nodding afterwards. Sightless Nieffar, after becoming one with the seed was proving to be a much tougher enemy than she had anticipated. The tendrils were making even defending themselves a difficult task, let alone finding any room to attack it. With brief and direct orders, Karina instructed her soldiers to focus on long range attacks to try and distract the seed, with Karina herself using her ice blades to try and distract the sightless as well.

With Týfurkh finally giving the signal he was about to trigger the explosion, Karina looked around to her soldiers and the rest of the group.

"Get down!" Karina said, warning the soldiers about the explosion, just a few seconds before Týfurkh let out a fierce, sound explosion.

Karina could feel the underground chamber they were in shaking as the sound explosion echoed within it's walls. Fortunately, Karina, the soldiers and even Chres weren't the only ones who were dazed by the explosion. A single glance was enough to tell them that the seed was in a much worse state than they were, it seemed like Týfurkh's gamble had indeed paid off.

Despite it's wounded state though, it seemed like the seed still had enough energy to resist. The tendrils that were gone after the explosion were regenerated with a frightening speed and thicker than before. Using it's regenerated tendrils, the seed immediately focused Týfurkh, swinging them and aiming to crush him. By luck, Chres had enough time to create a heat construct to stop the tendrils, although their weight and impact were so much, that it was evident even for Karina that they wouldn't hold on forever.

The moment the heat construct shattered, Karina stepped forward, calling all her four ice blades back to her, sending two to attack the tendrils and draw her attention while using her rapier, the two remaining ice blades and her agility to dodge the tendrils.

"I will keep the tendrils busy for as long as I can! Go after the heart!" Karina said as she dodged one of the tendrils by centimeters, the impact of it hitting the ground almost making her lose her footing.

"Go, NOW!" Karina shouted as she continued attacking, trying to focus all the tendrils' attention on her, while using everything she could to dodge and redirect their blows.
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Týfurkh




Týfurkh found himself a bit surprised about his own explosion. It was by far not the first time he had created something of this magnitude of course, but most of the times it had been in the controlled environment of a training ground and of those few occasions of actual hostility remaining, most had taken place in some kind of more open space. This was a very confined environment with solid walls however, perfect for air pressure not to be lost until it was finally dissipated by other effects.

'Other effects', in this case that included some serious destruction among the seed's various body parts if one dared to call them such. However it also put him on the top of the seed's priority list and who knows where and in which state he'd have been now without Chres' heat construct around him. Frantically, his eyes scanned for where it would give way first and which looked like some sort of escape route. To make matters worse it also seemed the negative effects of his explosion would not last for that long at all.

Týfurkh positioned himself closer to the walls of the heat construct and waited for it to shatter with his legs already in the proper starting position for a sprint. As it collapsed he finally could, and absolutely had to, escape and make a run for the center of the room -- the pit.

It's contents only revealed themself to his eyesight again as he jumped into it, his boots crashing into the dead bodies he had previously assumed to be some sort of food for the seed. The tentacles ? Probably right behind him, at least if they could make such sharp bends backwards towards their own origin and if the seed dared to use them with such violence in such close proximity to itself. Týfurkh could not afford spending moments on things happening behind his back however for one of the hearts was in front of him. It was a crossbow shot through the gaps between the bones protecting it, a projectile coming in from less then a yard away so aiming was pretty much unnecessary.

Týfurkh did not know how the seed would react. Would that actually help slow down the tendrils and their rapid regeneration, or would they come to haunt him now that he no longer had a heat construct around him, but was standing in a pit he had to climb out again first in order to regain full mobility ?
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The bolt flew true. Straight through the heart on one of the three larger tendrils connected to what used to be Lord O'Kal. The bolt seemed to meet some resistance when it contacted the exposed heart, but regardless, the power behind the point blank ripped the heart free from the tendril.

The Seed roared. "Y-Y-YOU... CANNOT... W-WE... WILL NOT..."

The world froze for everyone but Týfurkh. As if time itself stopped.

"Nice shot." Said a voice, coyly.

A man materialized in front of Týfurkh. It was the same man who had given Týfurkh the drawings of Chres and the rest that night before the day of madness.

"Better mind those ribs though." The long absent man continued with a smug grin on his face as if in mockery.

Then just as soon as he appeared, the Being vanished. Time rushing back in on itself.




Chres





"Týfurkh! Look out!" Chres yelled.

The giant man had blessedly taken out one of the six hearts belonging to the seed. However, in the time that Týfurkh had managed to get close, the several smaller tendrils had already fully regenerated.

The newly regenerated tendrils sharpened into razor thin blades and slammed into the earth behind the seed, cut through stone and carving out a chunk of rock the size of a man's chest. As Týfurkh fled from the seed it struck back by lunging several of its smaller tendrils into the earth and forcing Týfurkh to dodge their strike.

But that was only a faint. the real counter attack came from the small boulder, which it swung like a club and catching Týfurkh in the side of his chest. There was a loud clang from the man's armor as the blow tossed him to the side.

Chres made a mad dash to Týfurkh and blocked the follow up strike with a heat construct he threw up in front of the man. He looked to Týfurkh and winced. The man's armor was dented around the chest. He could only hope that Týfurkh wasn't too badly injured.

"Go! Quickly!" He said to Týfurkh as the tendrils started banging against the construct with force like before. "It would be bad if I loose another heat construct to this thing."

The seed roared. Banging is tendrils again and again against heat construct. Two of its larger tendrils shot upwards crashing through the cellar's ceiling directly above Chres and Týfurkh. The tendrils seemed to tighten and wrap around something.

What was it tugging downwards on? The ceiling beams?!

Chres cursed, and quickly dissipated the construct. He barely managed to dodge the Seed's next few strikes as he scrambled to get away. "Go Týfurkh! It's pulling down the ceiling on us!"

The ceiling immediately above Chres and Týfurkh collapsed. Chres dove for cover...
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