The Whisperer in Darkness

Day 14: Directions in Time

Warning: includes some flash photography.

The companions look upon the destruction of the university’s main hall, dominated by the gigantic demon corpse that now adorns it. Professor Finnagin is dead, slain by this very monster. A figure cloaked in green launches itself from the top of what was once a stone staircase and lands effortlessly amidst the debris. Wistark is grabbed by the neck of his robes and hoisted into the air. The stunned pyromancer stares uncomprehendingly into the bestial eyes of a former companion, the elf lycanthrope Lumen Hadron.

His strength is great, augmented by his curse. When he fiercely shouts “WHERE IS THE NECRONOMICON?!” into Wistark’s face, the wizard is too shocked to do anything but immediately tell the truth, “It is in Oliver Finnagin’s office. We’re going there now.” The elf tightens his grip and stares deeper, his penetrating eyes unrecognisably feral. “It is not”. The cowed wizard is suddenly dropped, and Lumen walks away a few paces before turning back, “I will see you in Roanoke”. He leaps through a window and is gone. The last word snaps something in Wistark’s mind. He falls into convulsions, seeing a memory flash before his eyes as his body thrashes unwillingly upon the ground.

He is in Branock’s Gorge, horribly close to the massive, writhing wall of tentacles that he has come here to destroy. Before him stands Bango Skank, the very image of death, laughing aloud as he completes the closing ritual with his own blood. As the Thinny begins to collapse, Skank explodes, splattering him with a putrid, black mess of maggots and flies. Wistark screams in horror as the necrotic mess forces its way into his eyes and throat. The scene changes. He sees a small town and watches as a dark portal opens there, flailing a set of grotesque tentacles that are all too familiar. The wizard awakens in the university hall, his body alive with pain. His arms and legs are held firmly against the ground by Norman and Gravilla, who look upon him with relief at seeing his explosive fit come to an end.

Though their features remain clouded by concern they tentatively release their grip and allow him to sit up. Wistark insists on standing almost immediately, muttering “We should check Oliver’s office in case Lumen missed something” and stumbling forward a few steps. Although Gravilla wonders if Wistark is currently in any fit state to be leading the group, she and the other Punishers follow the wizard slowly to the bottom of the destroyed staircase, previously the fastest way to Finnagin’s office. The wizard drops tiredly to his knees, allowing Norman a chance to check him over before helping him stand. Meanwhile, Gravilla gets onto Grimlock’s wide shoulders (together they are over 16ft tall) and puts a hand onto the next floor. Euven looks on with growing disdain: weird disguises, strange excuses, unexplained seizures and now they’re even standing on each others shoulders – who are these people?

Norman climbs the pair like a ladder and Wistark is lifted after him. Euven doesn’t really fancy physical contact with superiors and so chooses to scale the fractured stone instead. He manages it without difficulty despite the hindrance of his armour, revealing at least some of the nimbleness expected of an elf. Their jobs done, Gravilla pulls herself up without difficulty and Grimlock comes last of all. Professor Finnagin’s office is not far ahead. The party search it for the Necronomicon (except Grimlock, who takes a book off a shelf and spends some time pretending to read it) but find nothing.

Now feeling a little less unwell, Wistark thanks Euven for his part against the demons and adds “Well… the book doesn’t seem to be here…” in a notably dismissive way. Euven turns to Norman for permission to leave, which the dwarf grants. As Euven steps out the door Norman orders him to wait, and draws Gravilla and Wistark into a strange huddle. Whispering covertly, the bearded knight explains that he thinks it would be a good idea to bring the elf along, basically so that he can be another meat shield. Gravilla is uncertain that this is the best idea but feels it would be unwise to leave him to his own devices.

Wistark wants nothing to do with the mysterious elfguard and, concerned that his appearance may not have been coincidental, is anxious to be rid of him. Gravilla suggests tying him up in the office so that he cannot cause trouble for a while and Norman agrees that this would be better than just letting him go, but Wistark is not interested in adding the Elven Empire to the list of groups that want him captured dead or alive. Euven continues to stand at the door, feeling incredibly awkward and wanting only to leave as soon as possible. Grimlock looks up from his book, leans close to the elfguard and asks, “What’s with the gay huddle?”

Wistark’s head emerges from said huddle to make an enquiry, “Euven, what are your orders now?” The answer is that he must report to his superiors, and the wizard returns to huddling. In the end, Shizbitts wins the knights over by pointing out that it would not be a good idea to take the foreign soldier with them to the secret base of the Brotherhood. The authoritative dwarf gives Euven permission to leave and the elf gladly makes his escape. Wistark uses his magical senses to make one last check of the office, then the Capital Punishers also depart.

Upon returning to the underground hideout, Wistark shares his seizure-induced vision with his allies and declares his intention to investigate Roanoke. As a fellow Risen Adventurer, Grimlock agrees to join him immediately – Bango Skank is definitely on the dragonborn’s to-kill list. Norman and Gravilla are less certain – traipsing halfway across Alba based entirely on something the wizard saw during an epileptic fit seems a tad… stupid. Despite this, they eventually agree to come along. With all that’s happened, pretty much anywhere is going to be better than Gerelden. The Capital Punishers bunk down amongst the Brotherhood one last time.

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