Mar 27, 2017
VERONA: Cikte is the killer of Urd. He enters Dement'tia through the Gates of Damnation, built by Y'vamagol. The Gates of Damnation are hidden in the barrens of the Y'nam desert province [?], and in order to locate it, he must use the gift of Sight bestowed to him by Y'vamagol, which he initially dismisses. Cikte makes a fetid offering to a demon to gain guidance, who simply tells him what he already knows but refuses to acknowledge. In a putrid hole under the crust of the desert he finds the Gates, guarded by Cerdisberohnus, the First Murderer, waiting for him. The beast informs him that only that who created it can strike it down. However, in being imbued by the power of Y'vamagol, who created and punished Cerdisberohnus, Cikte slays it, setting the five captive souls free.
He'd had enough. The Brothers had "blessed" him with such clear travelling weather, he felt as though he would expire. The skies were naked, there were no wisps of cloud, and the day's shadows were short and grey. He had no cover or hope of reprieve on the shallow rise. Cikte was sure he would cook from within by the time the day was done, giving the Barrens another corpse to chew on. His staff clicked against the yellow rock floor as he ascended. This wasn't the first fool-hardy choice he had made, and with luck it wouldn't be his last.
Everything was non-descript. The rock shelves were low and layered, devoid of anything living. The Barrens were aptly named, he'd not seen even a weed since he'd reached it. The elder shamans claimed that the area had once been lush with water and more life than the entirety of the deserts combined, until the First Murderer had been sentenced there by Y'vamagol. Miles of living plain reduced to naked rock. Cikte found it hard to believe that this place could have ever been inhabitable, looking at it now. The itch returned momentarily. The Murderer was here, somewhere, in a hovel or cave amongst these bare stones, and he would find it. He would need help, however. The Barrens ate everything that dared to cross them; it was more likely that he would stumble upon the gates of Kramacka than to find the Murderer's hole. He reached the shallow summit of the shelves. Flat earth extended for infinity in front of him. Small, stray stones were all that served as landmarks.
Despite the light of the brothers, the sky felt darker. There was the slightest of chills. He was in evil territory now, Y'nchul had no eyes here. Cikte supposed, then, that he would not be judged. He retrieved the fetid drawstring bag from under his robes. The heat of the suns had aggravated whatever laid within, and the stink was anything but holy. He remembered the look on the shaman's face when he had passed him the tiny bag. Never had he seen the elder quail as he did with the insignificant pouch pinched between his fingers. It made him curious as to what could possibly be kept inside, but he dared not to look for himself. He didn't need to add another curse to the number already resting on his shoulders. The bag and whatever its contents were meant to give him a means of "advice" to find the Murderer. With the foul-smelling thing hanging from his hand, he questioned for a moment if he wanted to know what that advice could be, who would give it in trade, and if it would be enough. Concluded that had very little else to lose at this point, he tossed the pouch to land two body-lengths in front of him. The tiny item seemed to deflate.
An awful wind carrying the tang of rot washed over him, making his eye water and his skin sting. Cikte threw up his arms on impulse, nearly dropping his staff. The unnatural breath had to be a summoning - he could not let himself be caught vulnerable or off-guard. Unwilling to let the opportunity of gaining access to the Murderer's lair pass if the foul pouch was responsible for the wind, he forced his eye open.
His offering, it seemed, had been accepted. Standing where the bag had landed was a dark being. It was Y'nam in shape, but it was warped and wrong. Hideous black hair fell over equally dark shoulders, a tail suited for lizards hanging behind it. Two faces glared out at him, one too long, too pointed, the features too sharp; the other blunt, too short, and terribly pinched and twisted. This was not a spirit he recognised. Standing unfettered in the wind it pulled the drawstrings of the pouch open, reaching in with long, curved nails. A tiny body, stained yellow with age and decay, was removed to flutter grossly in the moving air. Cikte made a mental note to ask his peer just what impulse drove him to harvest an unborn child, if he managed to come across him again in this life. The thing in front of him lifted the tiny foetus to its jaws, partaking the body as if it were a delicacy. He was disgusted, but he didn't dare advert his gaze lest the creature vanish, robbing him of his chance to find the Murderer, or worse, turn on him. With a smile fit only for the most depraved, his summoned company turned its attention to him. Yellow eyes burned into his. He wondered briefly if he was in the presence of Y'vamagol, but he could see no antlers, and no scripts he had ever read described the brother of Y'nchul to be as disgusting as this.
The horizon was black behind his unsavoury company. Its figure shifted and bled in the wind as if it were made from smoke. "A kind offer. Who are you that carries such delectables?" it asked with oily amicability.
"My name is not yours to know," he bit, earning a sneer. "I am looking for the First Murderer."
It made a noise that he could only guess to be laughter. "You ask me what you already know? A waste of time."
"I wouldn't be consorting with such entities if I did."
"Blinded by denial?"
He could feel the blood rushing to his head. "Where is the hole of the Murderer?" he demanded.
The shade merely smiled. It lifted an arm to tap a long nail against the flesh beside its left-most eye. "There is no shame for those who use evil against evil's own house."
Its advice given, the creature's body melted into the air as if made from ink. The wind vanished, and the sky brightened. The small drawstring bag laid on the ground as if untouched.
He had made a terrible offering to dark spirits and Cikte had received his answer, but it was not one he wanted. He held back a swear. The indignant stubbornness in him demanded he refuse the being's suggestion and simply march across the lifeless Barrens to find the First Murderer; but he knew that he wouldn't last a second day in such an environ, searching blindly for something he could only assume he would know when he saw it, if at all, hidden somewhere across several miles of uncharted land.
There is no shame for those who use evil against evil's own house.
The creature was right, denial was, and always had been, standing in his way.
He brushed his hair away from his left eye, gummed closed from lack of use. The red crust didn't come away easily; opening the eye was as painful as it had ever been. Free to gaze as it would, his left eye showed him what few others could see, tinting the world in scarlet. He expected the Barrens to be crawling with the lost, but it was empty. This unsettled him, never had he seen any place so devoid of not only life, but un-life as well. Truly, no being was welcome here. The Sight revealed a turbulent sky, dotted with flecks of ethereal ash. Dust and sand was peeling from the earth as if caught in a fierce wind, but there was none to be felt.
A black, flickering blot two body-lengths ahead of him caught his attention. The pouch. He was loathe to retrieve the thing, now knowledgeable of what had been inside, but leaving it would be unwise, lest it call any more unsavoury creatures to it. Taking a few strides, he gingerly reached for it. The pouch liquefied into a cloud of black, swirling smoke. Mulling over whether this was an omen, he drew his hand back and peered across the flat horizon.
An unmarked grave. Cikte refrained from thanking "good fortune" for his find. Good luck had no hand in any of this.
Exposed by the Sight, the soil of the earthly divot rose and fell in a steady, shallow rhythm. Kneeling, he reached out a hand. The dirt rose to greet it like a questioning beast, hovering below his palm before sinking back into place, its rhythm silenced.
Cikte considered for a moment the potential consequences of the actions he was about to take. Where he was about to go. What he was about to deal with. The Murderer would be waiting below, a creature that likely already knew he was coming, and who he was. Whispers abound at the temples about the First Murderer, a creature that damned the Y'nam to the touch of bloodlust and obsession. Its name and face had been long forgotten, but not its crime. What would he see when he looked upon it? Himself?
Scowling, he dug into the shallow grave with his outstretched hand. The soil and sand came away easily under violent scrapes, revealing layer by layer deep, cold stone. Handful after handful, a flat slab of grey peered up at him through the dirt. For a brief moment, panic seized the Seer. Had he fallen for a decoy? He felt and pushed at the rock.
The air in the hole was thick, wet, and unpleasant. An undercurrent of decay encouraged a sneer. He was no longer on Veronan soil. Punctuating his realisation, the stones he had used to prop open the heavy slabs failed, allowing the scales of rock to fall back into place above him. The light of the Brothers vanished instantly, surrounding Cikte in darkness.
He waited for the racket of the tumbling stones to subside and his eyes to adjust. The former obliged him, but the latter failed to materialise. Neither his right nor left eye could provide him with the slightest of definitions in the void, leaving him truly blind. This was not a circumstance with which he could draw experience. He briefly considered retreating back to the ceiling in hopes of procuring a source of light, but with no means to gauge the treacherous climb, much less any guarantee that he'd be able to heft the slabs to free himself and further find such a tool in the Barrens, the notion quickly became a lost cause.
Four, five?, voices range out at once. "What imbecile crawls in my cave?" A gurgle rose as three sets of eyes rested on him. "Oh. You."
"I take it you know who I am," Cikte stated carefully.
The Murderer scoffed. "Ha, no. I don't care who you are. But I can see what you are. Here for miserable company?"
"No. I'm here," he gestured with his sword, "to walk through that Gate."
"No one enters this Gate - it's been sealed for over 10,000 years
[[CONCEPT: Caada, the first head of Cerdisberohnus, is fought in total darkness. The player has been introduced to the mechanic of affected "echolocation" via the use of a temporarily assigned [?] action button since entry into the Hole. Striking the sword-staff against the ground or swiping the air produces a visual wave to describe the area; striking the ground produces a stronger wave and can be performed while running. Swiping the air produces a wave as a formality to lessen player frustration. Caada can be tracked in this way, though the glow of the eyes (emitting no light) can also be used as a means to keep basic tabs on the head while the player moves. Attacking the neck is the only means of fighting Caada, but striking the face, putting out the eyes, is what will make it retreat. Assaulting the neck will encourage Caada to bite the player with ample audio telegraphing, and a missed bite will result in a hard face-plant. Striking at either eye will destroy it, and destroying both will end the encounter. Caada's retreat will open the path to Cerdisberohnus. This arena will be lit by the left eye [?]. Defeating Cerdisberohnus requires the removal of the three visible heads at the neck, prompting the reveal of the fourth, and the exorcism of the Murderer. Attacking the faces of each head is ineffective, receiving only 1/8ths normal damage. Heads will regenerate once severed [?], returning at 1/4 health until all three heads are removed at once. In order to attack and sever each neck, each of the three heads must be encouraged to attack / bite at the player, which they accomplish by moving about the arena. The player can deal no damage to the body of Cerdisberohnus until all three heads are removed, but perching between the three heads by dropping from the arena's backmost ledge can provide easy access to all necks, provided the backwards-facing second head does not bite the player in the process, and is not shaken off. Head regeneration is introduced via Caada regenerating its eyes and the use of audio / visual cues.]]