Drunks & Fanatics - 18. Spark Amongst Flames

While Tessa, Hei, and Torgrak explored what is available to those who dwell within Crimsonvale, a separate set of eyes was within the guarded cathedral. Dressed in the crimson robes with the symbols of Nencog on his shoulders, back, chest, and any other areas of note, a blue dragonling kept his head low within the cult. Walking through the interconnected halls of the massive cathedral, moving from the church to the central hallway, Tolan kept an ear out for any valuable information he could leak. What use would a mole have if he attracted too much attention?

Today was just another day of keeping to himself and seeing if someone accidentally says one thing too many. The cultists walked too and fro, speaking in hushed tones or in huddled groups about their everyday chores. Some of them discussed how eager they were to complete the ritual tonight. All of this information was useless or something he was already aware of. Most of the actual information he wanted to know was kept locked behind closed doors in meetings between the Archbishop and his three disciples.

Tolan had only been able to join the cult as a scribe, and if he tried to move up the ranks it would be too difficult for him to leak more information to the resistance forces within Crimsonvale. Hopefully the Adventurers got the request and are already taking actions to stop pyromaniacs, but the clock’s been ticking for a while now. If something isn’t done soon to stop the cultists, Crimsonvale may only be the first of several cities to fall to the cult’s “Great Flame”. He’d take action if he could, but a single sorcerer against an overwhelming number of cultists was well outside his abilities.

Entering the main hallway of the cathedral, Tolan saw the Archbishop and his disciple Bishop Abaris walking ahead of him. Quickly darting behind the largest column in the hall, Tolan hid himself from their eyes. Bishop Abaris was an older human with dark-brown hair and a short, rough beard on his chin. His robes were crimson, like everyone else’s, but had a couple more layers of adorning cloth along with several more symbols of Nencog all across his robes made out of gold and black thread. The Archbishop, however, wore lavender robes with red vestiges and had the same symbols across his robes as well. All of it trimmed with gold. But what made sure you knew he was the Archbishop wasn’t the robes, it was the white, long-beaked mask that hid his face. Not once had Tolan ever seen him without it, and apparently no one outside the Bishops even knew what the Archbishop was exactly. Regardless, it was always a better idea to stay out of sight around either of them.

At the same time, the front entrance to the hallway crashed open followed by rapid footsteps echoing loudly. An Inquisitor ran towards the Archbishop and Bishop. Tolan peered slightly out from behind the pillar, watching as the Inquisitor kneeled before them. The Archbishop stood there in silence before gesturing to Bishop Abaris.

“You may speak, little light.”

“Y-yes. Thank you, your graces.” The Inquisitor slowly looked up at Bishop Abaris and the Archbishop. “A-a report has come from the Watchers regarding three individuals who have recently entered the city, all of which appear to be in the company of one another.”

“This does not seem worth your time, Inquisitor, these three must be new members of the faith come to join us.”

“I-I understand, Bishop Abaris, but there is more to report about them. If I may.”

Bishop Abaris looked to the Archbishop for a moment before returning his attention to the Inquisitor, “You may.”

“The three are a young, human girl, a very gruff and burnt-smelling dwarf, and an oddly charismatic half-elf.”

“All races are welcome to bask in the light of the Great Flame. This is great news to hear as it means the words of our Lord are beginning to spread even further!”

“I-I beg that you please wait until I have finished the report, your grace. M-may I continue?”

Bishop Abaris paused again for a moment, “. . .You may.”

“Thank you, your grace. The Watchers have reported that, while the girl and dwarf do not seem noteworthy themselves, the half-elf has put all Watchers who’ve seen him on edge. As such, those Watchers have all reported similar ‘feelings’ after observing him. That when they watch him in particular, it feels as though either the half-elf himself or ‘something else’ is staring right back at them.”

Bishop Abaris leans down, putting a hand on the Inquisitor’s shoulder, “The Watchers seem to be needing rest, I shall request they-”

The Archbishop took steps closer to both of them, addressing the Inquisitor himself, “Is there an ample description of the half-elf?”

Bishop Abaris, the Inquisitor, and Tolan all stare in stunned silence, surprised by the Archbishop asking for more details himself. Nothing seems to move for a few seconds before the Archbishop reaffirms his question.

“Have the Watchers gathered significant information on the half-elf’s appearance?”

The Inquisitor snaps out of his stupor and responds, “Y-yes, your grace. The Watchers have reported that the half-elf is wearing a set of black armor gilded with gold, along with a shield on his back that is similarly detailed. His hair is long and in a ponytail, held in place with what looks like a small, gold crown. A set of eyes with irises seemingly made of molten gold. And an ever-present smirk on his face.”

Tolan remained hidden, but left wondering why the Archbishop specifically wanted to know about this “half-elf”. Something seems to be stirring down in the heart of the city, but it isn’t in the cult’s favor this time. Perhaps the aforementioned half-elf is the or one of the Adventurers the Resistance requested.

“Inquisitor, I pass down the order for all Inquisitors, Watchers, and below to keep their eyes specifically on this ‘half-elf’ and his companions. All else may be ignored for now.”

“Y-yes, your grace. Should we do anymore than watch though? Is this man a threat to the Great Flame?”

“It is uncertain, but action will be taken after night falls. Only observe from a distance for now.”

“U-understood! I shall go inform the others immediately!”

With that, the Inquisitor quickly took his leave. Running back down the hallway as quickly as possible. At the same time, Tolan sees this as the best opportunity to also leave and leak this to the Resistance. Using the Inquisitor’s own loud footsteps to cover his own as he slinks away. All is quiet for a moment as Tolan disappears, and then Juvi speaks again directly addressing his disciple.

“Abaris, have the Cogs on full-alert and ready for combat.”

“Yes, Archbishop, but is this really necessary? Is this ‘half-elf’ truly worth worrying over?”

“If he is who I think he is, then tonight will be louder than any other. Even the Cogs may not be enough, so it would be best for you and the other two Bishops to prepare yourselves a well.”

“Yes, Archbishop. It shall be done.”

With that, Abaris disappeared into the depths of the cathedral, leaving the Archbishop to himself. Before turning away from the entrance, the Archbishop couldn’t resist mumbling to himself with fury and excitement in his voice.

“Finally...you’re back.”