Horatio has an emotional breakdown. Valefarion almost kills Siria while gunning for a terrifying assaillant. Angelus, Horatio's ancient clockwork servant, is reassembled and its secrets revealed by Keinon. Gustav discovers a foreboding laboratory and strange tracks inside the abandoned tunnels. Horatio has a dramatic change of heart, delivering blackmail material to the characters and moving on with a song and smile on his lips.
Extracts from the personal recordings of Valefarion – Aspiring Champion of Darkness, War & Poetry
Four ravens, four deaths...
The strong portent of death we saw during our arrival came back to my mind lately. Let me tell in greater detail.
A couple of nights ago we visited Horatio in his quarters. It was late evening. Horatio was marked by the shadow of death. It was so obvious that even those members of our group who are not professionals of death noticed it. He knew it himself too. He was drunk and deeply depressed. He knew that the window between two worlds was open that night and it was open for him!
Horatio had aquired some interesting weapons for personal defense but I knew immediately that they would be useless against the fiend we know to hunt here. Yes, the very same that murdered Aurelio. Horatio had information which would make him the next victim of that monster. Instinctively I knew that enemy was to attack him during the same night. I guess Siria felt that too as she decided to stay with him in his quarters for the night. I, on the other hand, decided to patrol the immediate area around his quarters. This way we would have inner and outer perimeter of defense. I would warn about the approaching beast via nms (nuntius short message) and Siria would lead Horatio to hiding. Then I would engage the enemy with all necessary force. These tactical aspects of the awaiting battle were clear in my mind and I thought Siria would have this tactical mindset too. Alas, this was not exactly the case. I blame myself for not making sure she would understand. But then again, she takes any advice badly.
With help of certain alchemical substances I readied my mind for the coming encounter, as taught by the respected Masters of Ordo Proelium. We already knew the beast was horrifying to behold as Siria had watched the recording which Aurelio had made during her last moments. (sidenote: I have to see it at some point. It will show what happens during the very last moments of mortal existence. The relinquishment of spirit and flesh!) I had Lion of Project Chimera with me and we were united by the power of conduit. I was battle ready.
During deepest moment of night the expected happened: enemy appeared. Its presence was obviously meant to be both stealthy and terrifying. All lights died one by one as it approached and moved down the corridor. And more, there was an otherwordly chill around this creature of evil. But this time it had met its superior. For I, who consider myself the true ruler of night, will not be scared by darkness!
I warned Siria and marched after the creature. My calm presence and steady march was meant as a challenge for the beast and I think it was surprised. This must have been the first time it couldn't scare someone away. It advanced towards Horatio's room. When I got there, it was standing in the middle of the room, sniffing around and looking for its prey. What a creature it was! The best way to describe it is to say that it had an ethereal body made of oily darkness. A wraith! Its back was towards me. Siria and Horatio were not in the first room but in the next. At this point I thought they would be in cover. This was the perfect opportunity for me to get rid of the devil at once. I decided to fight terror with terror and set Lion to full burst. A stream of hot led tore through the creature, hitting the stone wall behind it. This attack must have damaged it severely if it has any physical component in its body. At the same time my attack served the purpose of alarming everybody in the castle.
But now things started to go wrong. To my horror Siria sprang forward from the room she had been in. She seemed not to realise the immident danger of lifting her head and walking to line of fire. What is worse, she seemed not to recognize me, but instead acted like I was the enemy! The creature of course took notice of this and sneaked behind her. I had to cease my attack. As the beast seemed to get ready to strangle Siria I had to try to stop it, using my clockwork assault carbine as a club! What a waste! The attack caused the monster to withdraw into shadows, which it seemed to be able to do even in enclosed environment like this.
Siria had been wounded, apparently by my fire which had penetrated both the wall and her arm. Thank God-Machine, Horatio was safe and sound! So, my intervention had accomplished its main goal, to stop the untimely death of Horatio, or at least postpone it from this fateful night to some later time. One raven dealt with, three to go...
Lion can do quite a lot of damage to solid constructions like walls, even though its primarily function is antipersonnel in nature. The room was a mess. Siria was mad because ”I had shot her”. It was utterly useless to explain to her, that she should have stayed in cover and make sure that Horatio is doing the same! Siria also wanted to lie about the reason I opened fire. She wanted me to tell I had done it in a drunken accident! Can you believe it! One thing is for sure: a Proelium doesn't fire his weapons in a drunken bloody accident! Who would believe that? Not to mention how embarrasing it would be to say something like that.
The argument got pretty heated and Siria actually tried to shut down my conduit! That was a personal offense which deeply shocked me. I wouldn't have expected that from someone I consider a friend. I resisted her attempt by the way. Gustav later told me she has not been herself lately and that information comforts me. The Siria I know wouldn't do it. This environment affects her.
Sure enough Paramon, the so called head of security, arrives during our argument. He has a group of guards with him, silver people. I explain to them that we have just encountered Aurelio's murderer and saved Horatio's life. This mundane bonehead then has the nerve to doubt my true words! He thinks I have shot Siria because of our argument! What arrogance! Paramon happily forgets the fact that two people have already been murdered under his watch, which is the sole reason for us being here! He forgets that he should have saved them, just as I saved Horatio now. The guilt of those failures must burden him badly and that is the exact reason why he hates me, who managed to do his job better than him. Of course this idiot then goes on and commands me to hand down my weapons! Never! My first reaction was to wipe out whole squad for their arrogance but I managed to calm my nerves before I actually did it. Instead I marched to the desert and had a good night's rest there. That showed him the value of his commands.
Huh, what a rant but now it's out of my system. We managed to make peace with Siria and came up with some tactical procedures which hopefully prevent same kind of mistakes from happening again.