Chapter 11: Kyosuke's Damaged Hands
At Kyosuke's expense,
Crystals, tentacles destroyed.
A dark stain indeed.
~ Miyara Miwa
I dumbly watched Kyosuke run by me and around the corner, out of sight. Then I heard him scream in agony, then a splash, then nothing. I gathered myself together, and started to move towards him. Around the corner, Mongo was tending to Kyosuke, who was unconscious. There was a smell of burnt flesh. The others slowly gathered by.
Res Li said he could not see the tentacle monster anywhere. I remember saying that we needed to find the white crystal and get ourselves to high ground as soon as we could, then nothing.
I awoke in the room with the pit, Ravena hovering over me. I immediately asked her about Kyosuke. She said she'd healed him has well as she could, but the injuries seemed to be magical, and beyond her to repair. My cousin was still unconscious, and his hands were clearly crippled. She said they'd been burned right down to the bone. If that was the case, she'd done a remarkable job. It remained to be seen how much use he would get from his hands, once he awakened. I lay back and let Ravena heal me, but all I could think of was how badly I had failed my cousin.
We remained in the room for several hours, while Ravena healed everyone, one by one. They had brought all the crystals, not just the white crystal, into the room with us. The white one had cooled and was safe to touch, and all the crystals continued to pulse in time with each other.
Mongo rather suddenly fell over. He was conscious, but incredibly weak, he said. Along with Kyosuke, and Res Li were the only ones to have touched the white crystal with their bare hands. We watched Res Li, but he seemed fine.
Mongo had some food in his pack, so we all refreshed ourselves with food and drink. This helped all of us a great deal, and Mongo said he did feel better as well, although still very weak.
The obvious task was to destroy the thing. The White Faerie took the white crystal into a corner, while the rest of us moved to an opposite corner, watching for the tentacle monster. The White Faerie hit the crystal with his maul several times before it at last splintered. At his first blow, the tentacles reappeared, but they could not reach us from the mud. As soon as the crystal shattered, the tentacles disappeared. From what Res Li said, it was not destroyed, but merely moved away.
Since the blue-grey crystals were still pulsing, the White Faerie smashed them, too, and we swept all the shards into the pit. To my joy, Kyosuke awoke when the last crystal was destroyed. His hands ached, he said, and he had very limited movement with them. I will stay with him from now on and take care of him.
I decided that we should finish following all the passages, to be sure we left no enemies unknown behind us. I also wished to see if the upsloping corridor would prove to be a better exit than shinnying back up the rope.
One corridor was guarded by a portcullis, but Ravena figured another way around, so we were able to reach the room after all. In it there was only a table, with a hidden compartment. Res Li opened it and unleashed some horrible fog, which made us all cough uncontrollably until it subsided. Ravena said it was spores of some sort. She did not know what they were, but did not think they were harmful. There was nothing else of interest in that area.
The corridor that gently sloped upward led to another room, without an exit. This room was lined with shelves and contained some furniture. Set in the ceiling was a glowing crystal that shed a pleasant light over the room. The shelves held only junk, but Res Li found another hidden compartment. He opened it without incident, and Ravena carefully removed some parchments. Reassembled, they contained faerie writing, which the White Faerie translated for us. It was the instructions for a bloody sacrificial rite, apparently to be performed in the room with the dais, that would allow us to enter the room behind the brass-covered wall.
He had another vision: he said he was some kind of horrible, ugly faerie faces spewing molten metal, like a volcano. Jeisan said it sounded like the faces on the wall.
Mongo asked him about the faerie approach to hospitality and sacrifice; the White Faerie said this was completely unrelated to anything he's ever heard of. It was not typical of his people.
Before we left, Jeisan lifted Caramela up to the ceiling so she could steal the crystal. It continued to glow gently. Perhaps this was the zogin rock she had been searching for.
We returned to the crystal room, but we had not missed anything: the ritual room was the only place left unexplored.
I am unenthusiastic about following the instructions for this bloody sacrifice, even using goblin or ogre blood, from bodies already dead. Yet, my honor demands I find and return the statue, and this seems the best place to find it. Distasteful or not, I must proceed: that is truly the way of honor.