Chapter 82: Small Progress
Stalking answers, we
find more questions, and also
answers. We begin.
~ Miyara Miwa
The next day, we watched and waited. The screaming commenced early in the morning, as a kind of gong for breakfast. There was no way in hell I was going to eat what was in those buckets. Hosei gave in and let us eat the fish he can't stop from appearing. Even fresh mackeral is beginning to pall with nothing else to go with it. The eta all disappeared for several hours for a "church service". Baku and Sun decided to enter into the spirit of things and asked Hosei to curse them with mange and boils. Down at the bottom of the cliff, around and on the jagged rocks, are the remains of many people.
I sat carefully and meditated. I felt that I had a tenuous hold on myself. I easily saw myself letting loose in frustration, killing whatever eta were in my way, finding Ravena (and woe unto anyone who might have harmed her), and forcing my way to the Great Master. I had to hold on for at least a little while longer. This was only our second day here.
Peitra caome bouncing in joyfully, gracing us with meaningless words about Tzeentch. It's as though she has a scroll in her head, and she merely speaks random phrases from it. She encouraged us to mingle with our fellow cultists, and was fascinated when a mackeral dropped out of Hosei's robes. She took it for the cook, repeated another random phrase, and left.
Not a half an hour later, she reappeared, accompanied by one of the snake-things. The Great Master was interested in Hosei's fish and wanted her to look at his robes. As she and the snake-thing looked through the pockets, I considered what that might mean. Is he not nearly as crazy as his followers? Does he expect Hosei of cheating, trying to appear as though he's cursed with chaos just to get in the Great Master's good graces? At any rate, they seemed satisfied with having found nothing of interest in the poor old man's robes, and they left again. After Peitra invited Hosei to the next day's service.
Hosei gave a piece of a fish to a little girl who came up to him asked him for it, and he asked me what he should do. We know next to nothing. So I told him, "Listen, watch, talk, scout. Find out whatever you can."
The little girl returned, and asked Hosei for more fish, and he promised her some next time he acquired one. She asked politely if we were really avatars of Tzeentch. Hosei answered, "We were not born as such." That confused her, and he and she exchanged a few more questions and confusing (to her) phrases.
Finally, she asked what we wanted, and Hosei explained we're here to break something we have and that we need Tzeentch to tell us how to break it.
"So you want to see the Great Master's library." We all sat up, and Hosei asked her where it was. "It's behind the curtain in the temple, behind the altar. The best time to get back there is during the service, when they're all busy. He makes blood there. I don't know how, but it's in pots there."
Her statement electrified us. A library! If there's a library, we probably don't need to talk at cross-purposes with a madman to find out what we need to know. Peitra came bouncing back, and the girl disappeared into the back of the cave. Oddly, for her, she came to speak to us only, and she spoke quietly, mostly to Hosei.
"The Grand Master says Tzeentch wants us to be on the lookout for a group of chaos avatars carrying a large crystal."
Trouble. We talked at cross-purposes with her, convincing her we had no idea what she was talking about, but that we'd watch for a Crystal. She left us with a random sentence from her internal scroll.
The library is behind the temple. The best time to sneak in is while everyone is in temple. I told Hosei to look for a good place one or more can hide in the temple. He can scout, and by the next service, we'll have a plan. The rest of the day we spent trying to "blend in".
The gong sounded, the eta left, and Hosei went with them. I decided to scout around the rest of the caves, while everyone, or at least most of them, were at the service. Ashe came with me.
We saw the hospital first, but weren't allowed in very far. This was the cave Ravena had been taken into, so I hoped she was there, somewhere in the back. Next was a cave filled with growing mushrooms. There wasn't anything else interesting there. Just mushrooms. And the piles of crap they grow in.
The next one was the temple, and Ashe and I bypassed it. Next was just another sleeping cave like ours, except this one had a wooden partition making a separate room. I got near enough to hear voices, and then near enough to recognize the voices of the snake-things, plus one other voice I didn't recognize. So now at least I knew where the snake-things stayed. Probably.
Then, the kitchen. A huge pot, crates of grains and vegetables. I wondered where they came from. And what causes the screaming?
Ashe and I poked around, and in the back of the cave, we found out.
A huge man was wedged into a crevice, sitting on a stool. He couldn't move at all. Bits of mushrooms and juice stained his chin, neck, and chest. His name was Kurt, he said. Across his stomach lay a large cloth, soaked with blood.
Ashe and exchanged a few words with him, but we left quickly, sickened. Neither of us would even consider eating the gruel now.