“Talking is a Free Action…”

The one-eyed Priestess stepped back from the sacrificial altar, casually flipping the needle dagger back and forth in her hand.

 

“I see you all managed to survive the manor fire,” the Priestess remarked. “That’s troubling.” She tilted her head to the side. “And you found our sanctum so quickly: even more troubling.”

“How,” Ira proclaimed loudly, “did you escape your punishment, heretic?” Sotto voice, Ira whispered to V’vendy and Rintha: “Shoot her down if she tries to stab the Roarer.”

 

V’vendy nodded slightly. Rintha lowered his hand towards the sling stones nestled in his vest pockets.

 

“That’s a unfair question, Lady Ira,” the Priestess protested, holding a hand to her heart. “You assume so readily that I deserve to be punished for my actions! You judge me so hastily!”

 

“You blew up the Infinite Temple,” Ira insisted.

 

“A mistake that won’t be repeated,” the Priestess replied.

 

“You hurt our subjects,” Ira said.

 

The Priestess shrugged. “You have subjects to spare, Lady Ira: why be so stingy?”

 

“YOU BURNED DOWN MY HOME!” Ira roared, trembling with rage.

 

The Priestess laughed three times, softly and under her breath. “You wound me, Ira,” she said, flipping her dagger right side up and pressing the point to her cheek. “You assume that we’re aberrations, a pox on this world; heretics, in your own words.”

 

The Priestess cut with her dagger tip, drawing out a trickle of blood that crept down her jawline. “But even Zealots have a place in this world. Or at least that what our benefactors believe–“

 

“Sod this,” Rintha muttered. The Roar-Hunter twirled his arm and sending a sling stone whistling at the Priestess’s skull. One heartbeat later, V’vendy the Deathweaver drew and loosed a white-fletched arrow.

 

The Priestess ducked. Rintha’s sling stone smashed itself to shards against the wall. With a single from her dagger, the Priestess cut her eye patch free. “Too slow–!” She crowed.

 

V’vendy’s arrow sank into the Priestess’s thigh.

 

“Hnnng!” The Priestess cursed, falling to one knee. She shot the Pilgrims a glance of utter hate. Her left eye, the eye masked by the eye patch, smoldered with flame. The black pupil at its heart elongated, and then split in two. Then it split again.

 

“Everyone kill them!” She shouted,  voice stirring up dust as it grew to deafening proportions. “JUST KILL THEM!”

 

The crowd of red-robed Zealots drew leaf swords from their flowing garments. “The Blood of Origin,” they droned, pricking their fingers, drawing fiery blood from their veins. “The Fruit of the Tree of Life…!”

 

Warriors dropped from the ceiling, wearing the same clothing and haircuts as the Seekers of Awe the Pilgrims had battled in Crimson Girth’s catacombs. Their oversized hands and feet were lined with grooved ridges, similar to the digits of a gecko. The Seekers charged, brandishing axes and raising small wicker shields.

 

“Enough is enough!” Uuco roared. He pointed his looted scepter at the charging Zealots, lightning gathering at its tip. “I have had it-!”

 

The Priestess noticed what Uuco was holding. “THAT’S MY SCEPTER!” She shouted in rage. A spear of light shot from the Priestess’s smoldering, evolving eye, hurtling right toward Uuco’s mustache…

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