While they crossed the city under pounding rain, Alain dreamed.

[learn_more caption=”Gazing into the Eye”] Your hand on the diagram was a stranger’s hand with you hiding inside of it.

Your hand on the eye was your hand reaching into space, and having space pull you in.
The Ley Lines, or the Lifeskein as the Witch (Hunter) has started calling it is a river of light running under the earth, gushing to the surface at point after point. This sounds like a good thing. It is not.
Would the running of blood from openings on your arm be good? Would leeches, with their pale white mouths covering your wounds, growing slowly fat be better?
The wounds have been bandaged, but someone has been stabbing and stabbing at the flesh, like an angry mosquito hunting for sustenance. The vein is starting to be tied off, like a junkie, by another thread of light that should pass only under the major artery.
The light is not only light. It’s thought. It’s information. Under the light, there is the thing that made the light. The thing that lurked in darkness, like a lake of oil, under there was a spark.
That light is mainlining into your veins, into your head, like cocaine mixed with infinite healing of the Panacea. Your mind is fire: silver and red and black. The earth and sky are shaking as you slip inside them, the constant pressure of everything holding itself so fearfully together, quaking as your mind slips from thing to thing, inside them outside them, knowing everything about them – desires, hopes, dreams, the constitution of the smallest particle of sweat.
There is a moment, teetering, caught in the grey world. The light, as weak and distant as it is, touches your head with the faintest brush.
You run like a ground squirrel with the hounds baying in the yard. You burrow into the only safety you can find. You’ve touched this fire before. It wasn’t the wolfen you hid from, those recent years ago. It was this.
The rain is pressing down, the hand of Light squeezing the very air to create pressure. To hold in the blood of Palladium. The Eye is the eye of the dismembered god, the last divinity to walk the face of the world. His hip bone is in a circular room under the tower. There is a door over it. Both sides of the door are in the room. Stepping through the door enters into the deeper catacomb, the one inside the light, in the corridor that the gods and heroes made so they could tolerate entering into the world’s blood.
There’s a burning series of images. The Eye was set to watch this horror. The ages of the world have worn away its vigilance and the presence of its mortal tenders.
Imagine being chained under the earth for a time of illimitable darkness. Set that against an already-dead watchmen, no matter how full of hope and power.
Imagine the creature that wear’s Alain’s shape – it’s power is a perfect crystal of power, intricate and lovely. That jewel is suspended over a black, glittering sea.
Imagine rage.
Imagine catching an annoying insect buzzing close. Writhing in your hateful chains.


The ‘prospector’ Quall writhed in agony.

Illyria’s hands on him were a cool boon. She reached into his body and staunched a flow of blood into the belly.

In the crowd of “concerned neighbors” was the Widow Willenda WhiteCoffee. She had, it seemed, seen the bookseller Ahriman, ‘that dirty elf’ dragging the Mayor’s wife toward the Chapel. That was an hour or more ago. She heard from the ‘nice little watchgnome’ that Aphorisia was missing, and clearly… rushed right over to watch the Prospector writhe in agony? The Witch Hunter told her to go home, shut her blinds, and stay there. He threatened all the ‘neighbors’, and the Hound bristled, driving everyone from the house and the porch, where they had begun to paw and coo over the unconscious watch Captain, Alain.

Back inside, the Prospector Quall had a story to tell, and death had yet to deter him, “Breen came back to the city alone. We haven’t seen her. We investigated at the finger, Mellendor and I. Mellendor?” he asked, with more than casual interest. Illyria suspected they might be lovers.

She shook her head. “He didn’t make it,” the Witch Hunter euphamized. The agonized prospector took that challengingly.

He told them that they had been investigating a group in Farahn’s Outpost that had been trying to raise an Old One. They were clever, cunning, crafty. It didn’t necessarily speak well of their intelligence. Mellendor had gone to Cern to try and convince him to become involved. Mellendor suspected that some vital piece of connection to the ley lines lay within Cern’s control.

When Illyria asked how he had become injured, Quall told them how he had been ambushed outside the town by the novitiate Orison. “He has the light… and it.. burned.”

He convulsed, eyes rolling back in his head. Illyria, consternated, worked on him again. Pulling him back, it seemed, from death.

Froth dried at the corners of his mouth. Tears made indecent tracks at strange angles on his face. “What happened?” Illyria asked in her calm, quiet voice reserved for the dying or those who severely irritated her.

“He… ” Quall convulsed, “He… ” he convulsed again, “put something … in me.”

Illyria got to witness what the Hound and the Hunter already had: a body bursting from within… and grey tentacles, filled with a lifeless, grey, corrisive ichor emerging. Four tentacles rooted in his body and assailed them.

They fought skillfully and together. The tentacles whipped at them, but with much less vigor and force than the ones that sprung from the smithwife’s womb. The severed the tentacles in a bath of grey, dissolving fluid, just as something seemed to be eating its way out of the Prospector.

They ensured he was dead.

There certainly were a number of bodies piling up at the Prospecting Shop. Seemed to be a dangerous profession.

Alain, who’d woken, howling along with the lightning during the fight, divulged that he had seen… things when he touched the Eye of the Dismembered God in Cern’s tower. He confirmed that someone was using the secondary ley line to take control of the main line, and that some great evil was buried beneath it. He told them how he had seen a room off Cern’s laboratory where there was a door into the Corridor under the city that led to Despair.

Outside, in the rain, Alain remounted Farahn’s Pride, that rude and helpful beast. The rode for Cern’s tower.

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Behind the gaudy entrance room of the tower, which even Illyria was unable to explain.  Among the water dripping into the pools, the crystal gnomes had rebuilt a statue of a minotaur. When the group entered, they apologetically stepped back, and the minotaur came to life.

The battle was 1-sided, and Gavin managed to use his whip to beat the minotaur with the crystal gnomes, destroying 2 enemies as one.

The hurried on after the gnomes’ trouble had been dealt with.

Down in the laboratory, the sun stones had exploded, raining bits of faintly-glowing phosphorescence across the floor.

They took a door they hadn’t explored, moved down a hallway and ended up in a round room full of blue curtains. In the middle of the room was a freestanding door. The handle was made of bone.

Alain fell to his knees and worked a tile in the floor free. He pulled free half of a human femur. As it entered the air of the room, it burst into light, and the door flung itself open, showing a trapezoidal corridor beyond, full of darkness that resented the intrusion of the light.

“What should we do with this?” Alain asked, hefting a god’s hip bone.

“Oh, you should carry it… and secure our way forward,” Illyria suggested.

The captain nodded. The empty darkness yawned before them.