Scroll 8: In Which We Consort With Chaos

Chapter 83: Sacrifices

The needs of the many

Outweigh the needs of the few

or the one.

~ Miyara Miwa

The next cave was just another sleeping chamber with nothing else of note. It led us to the highest cave, and it had the smallest entrance. The net was cut away, to make approaching it almost impossible. I thought Ashe and I might it make it across the five yards or so of rough rock wall. We made several attempts, but never reached it. We decided to leave it for later. I thought this was probably the Great Master's cave, and that there was almost certainly another way in, from the back. It probably connected to the library and to the church cave.

The last cave was another sleeping cave, looking just like the others except for some sort of doorway in the back We couldn't see into it, but we could hear people talking. Normal conversation, jokes, and definitely not voices from the temple. This was the most normal group of people we've heard here yet. Ashe and I guessed these must be the chaos warriors.

Even better, we could sense that the crystal was there, behind the chaos warriors. So, nobody has found it yet and knows what it is, and my swords are certainly still with it. Neither of us wanted to talk to the chaos warriors at that moment, so we headed back. We could come back anytime we needed to.

We returned to our cave, and waited for Hosei to rejoin us a couple of hours later. When he finally returned, he told us about the service, which seemed more like random abuse than anything, and I told everyone, in Nipponese, what Ashe and I had found. I still don't trust Suluruku, and there were still some of the cultists in the cave who were too sick to leave.

Sun spoke quietly, "If I remember right, we want the Great Master to get Tzeentch to talk to him, right? So we need to get on his invite list. Or one of us does." I nodded, although I had other ideas by this time. I think all we need is the library.

Hosei said he saw no place to hide in the temple, but behind the altar was the curtain behind which we were interviewed. That room was small and had a large table. And another curtain, which probably led back to another cave. Is that what the girl meant? Hosei left fairly late, hanging around watching people. Small groups and individuals were scattered around, rocking, moaning, and talking amongst themselves. None of the principals were there. The Great Master disappeared in a puff of smoke through the curtain, and everyone else left through the mouth of the cave.

We cannot "walk" through rock, but we could certainly create a tunnel with the Crystal. I considered the caves Ashe and I looked at. We don't know exactly where the library is, but we do know where the Great Master's cave is. So, next day during the service, we can go to the housing cave without the snake-things and tunnel up to the Great Master's quarters. If Ravena is released, she can go with us and read the stuff in the library. If not, we'll have to take Hosei, although he'll have to pretend to fall sick from a mushroom and not be able to go to service. So far he's our best bet to curry favor with the Great Master, but I'm hoping we can by-pass him.

We heard the screaming again. "Time for dinner", Ashe remarked. We ate fish, and Hosei, Sun, and Baku helped some of the cultists who couldn't look out for themselves.

That evening, Ravena returned. She'd been locked up in a small cave behind the hospital, "for pennance". She was otherwise unharmed. Peitra also came in, and spoke to many of us in private. Most of us were invited to the service next day. And we should be there. Kyosuke, Ashe, Baku, and Suluruku were the only ones not invited.

The following morning, we went to the service. I saw no reason not to. We might learn more, and we could tunnel anytime we wanted to. I had everyone scatter, so we all sat separately among the cultists. Listening, watching, learning. Looking for hints.

The Great Master used his speech to complain, anonymously, that Ashe and I had been cave-crawling. Apparently curiousity is also frowned upon here. Just sit in a corner and die.

Then things got bad. He called out a name, and the little girl that spoke to Hosei bounced forward, looking very pleased. The two snake-things appeared from behind the curtain and grabbed her. They carried her to the altar, and she began screaming in terror.

The Great Master continued his monologue, more loudly to carry over her screams and cries. Her parents sat quietly on their bench. "We are preparing for the great change. We must be ready for the time when Tzeentch is ready to change the world." He sacrificed the girl to Tzeentch, and blood ran down the altar. I closed my eye for a moment.

Barbarians. I steadied myself. The Crystal was important. It could mean the death of the entire world.

I opened my eye to see people pressing forward in morbid curiousity, to get a better view. The room was filled with screaming and chanting.

Sadly, we all returned to the cave. No more. Tomorrow morning, while everyone is in the temple, we will recover the Crystal and our weapons and other belongings, and find the library. If we have to, I will cut the information, slice by slice, out of the Great Master myself.

At the cave, my plans for the morrow ceased. Kyosuke lay on the floor, bandaged and bloody, and Ashe stood over him with a bloody axe.

If I hadn't noticed the bandages ... but I did. I also saw the message Kyosuke scrawled in blood and dirt. It was mostly incoherent, about demons. Ashe quietly said he didn't go with Kyosuke, and only saw Kyosuke return, barely able to fly. He remained conscious just long enough to scrawl the message and passed out.

Ashe made a big show of cleaning his axe for the cowering cultists in the back.

Ravena inspected Kyosuke and said she healed him just enough. She can wake him tomorrow, and not be accused of magical healing. Good enough. Kyosuke will be fine, and Ravena can also heal him immediately if we need him for something, and in the meantime he will be beneath the notice of anyone who might attack us.

Tomorrow, I promised Kyosuke, and Ravena, and the dead girl silently. Tomorrow.