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Old 11-02-2020, 03:32 PM   #11
Stomoxys
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Default Day 178 since leaving The Homeland

I made my towards the confused troll and the sarcophagus. In the stone receptacle was a desiccated corpse wrapped up in bandages. Grogg's blow had hit it in the chest, which had shattered from the blow, detaching the head and shoulders from the lower body. As I watched, the collapsed part seemed to spread, turning the corpse into dust. Gritt's corpse had been dressed up in the armour of a warrior and a gold crown, but this corpse was only wearing the bandages and no ornaments except a small handheld mirror. Looking closer, I saw that the mirror had a single crack.

Channeling the power of the stars, I carefully examined the corpse. It had been the focal point of an extremely powerful ritual that had kept something in place. However, the bonds had been weakening and would have unraveled on their own if Grogg had not broken the spell. Presumably, the wraith was the main reason the bonds were weakening, but the guardians of the place had said the mirages had intensified when the stars started their activity. If so, the last two demons may escape, even though the wraith has been destroyed. Probing further, I got the impression that the wraith had tried to control Darwan. If freeing the demon was the wraith's main goal, it could have destroyed the corpse long ago. It would also explain why Darwan helped us by taking us to the campfire. Examining the mirror, it had been very magical and an important part of the ritual, but now the energy was dissipating.

Turning to Grogg, I noticed that they had no shadow. It was still standing over by Wolfram, but making its way towards us. I asked Grogg what had happened and they said the corpse had felt like hundreds of years of suffering and they had decided to destroy it. Something had thanked them and let them send their shadow after the wraith. A fitting parting gift from a demon of shadows. The shadow acted just like Grogg and they seemed to agree on everything. It even had its own aura, which was exactly the same as Grogg's aura. Both the Groggs wanted to know if the shadow version had their own Shadow Kra, but Nuur-Karif could not see anything special through the ring. Wolfram, who had finally turned back into a human, seemed very mistrustful of the shadow troll, but only grumbled a little. Even though they had charged headlong into the crypt, the spirits had not been able to hurt them noticeably. The wraith, however, had cast some spell on their leg and it was paralyzed. I offered to examine it, but they refused.

Around the sarcophagus, symbols were chiseled into the stone floor. I could not interpret them, but I copied some of them onto the attached papers. In the outer chamber, the mirror was still standing where the smoke device had been. Looking into it, a jaguar creature looked back at me and I felt a strange attraction to it. Stepping away, the attraction disappeared and I examined the mirror. It had been critical for the ritual on the area and, unlike the rest of the crypt, the magic was not dissipating. While letting it remain in the crypt would be dangerous, we decided that it would be best to leave it alone and let Nefalonia deal with it. Inspecting the side walls of the outer chamber, I found walled up doorways where the side rooms had been in the illusion. Grogg and Shadow Grogg made short work of the brickwork and inside was another sarcophagus. Here, a weaker version of the ritual had been performed and it was also dissipating. In the sarcophagus was another withering corpse, but it was unremarkable now. There were eight side chambers, so Darwan must have been imprisoned with eight companions, the same as Gritt. Wolfram came over and sounded a bit distracted, but they did not disturb my examination. The crypt was unpleasant and there was little more we could do, so we decided to leave the way we came. On the way out, I noticed a walled up doorway in the inner chamber that probably lead to the last tower.

When we returned to the surface, the towers and most of the mirage effects were gone. Instead, we could see the open pits where the towers had been. The gold items that had been lying around, including those Grogg had picked up, were replaced by stones and rubble. In the middle of the area, the pleasant oasis had turned into a puddle of mud and I am glad I did not take a bath. Nuur-Karif wanted to put the spirits to rest and Wolfram agreed. I suggested we should try to materialize them and maybe get some information and the others agreed. However, the first spirit that materialized acted like it was still being tortured and there was nothing of value in its gibbering. Apparently, Nuur-Karif knew the human and put them out of their misery. I wanted to try again, but Nuur-Karif refused, saying it would bring needless suffering. A few more minutes of suffering would not make any difference and the spirits might have valuable information. If nothing else, their names and hometowns could be useful for propaganda purposes. About fifteen spirits were dispatched, some by Shadow Grogg, to Wolfram's disapproval. Clubbing them in the head is not their preferred way of banishing spirits. It is interesting that the shadow can interact with both spirits and the material world. While this was going on, I inspected the last tower and saw that it was full of rubble. It would have been nice to enter directly into the inner chamber, but clearing the rubble and breaking down the wall would have taken a long time, even for Grogg.

Nuur-Karif wanted to rest for a while before we returned to the camp and I used the opportunity to study the stars. There was nothing noteworthy, except that Kama and Taxini were still gone. After about an hour of rest, we returned to the camp. Grogg had the idea that they could reattach their shadow using the silver needle if they could charge it on the mirror shard. They were quite determined to try this until I pointed out that the energy inside could create lightning. This changed their mind and they set to sewing themselves back together with their shadow and somehow it worked. While Shadow Grogg would be a useful ally, they would certainly attract attention and possibly hostile reactions. Wolfram's opinions on magic are close to the norm here.
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