The Long Road To Ohamet

A JP by Thaen, LSP, and Ender

The desert was arid to a point, the dunes suddenly teasing in the waving heat. Severos had to open his clothes loosely under the shade, tired, sore, and remembering a good reason why the desert was terrible. Yet, the concussion Severos had from the gargoyle was very real and the expenditures of magic had taken its due. He slipped his head a bit to the left. He could see Horo walking now.

Horo noticed Severos watching him. “Don’t fall asleep.” he said looking forward, only catching Severos with the corner of his vision. “That blow you took likely caused your brain to be rattled. And falling asleep is the last thing you want to do. At least for a few hours, and we know you’re not going to vomit anytime soon.”

Severos blinked after a second, nearly falling asleep despite the advice. His throat was a soreness that he thought was not normally possible for a person to feel. “You… ever going t-to tell me… how you manage t-these feats o-of yours?” he blearly asked, hanging onto a tunneled view of Horo.

“No.” Horo said, “I’d never planned to tell anyone how I did it though. Not just you. Even Orla knows only a little more than you about me. I’ve got secrets that keeping them keeps the people I care about safer.” he added. “You’ve got your source of ‘magic’, I've got mine.”

Horo kept his eyes forward as he walked next to the cart. Making it clear he was still in a sort of ‘attack mode’, like a spring pushed down too far ready to pop back up. Nettle, in charge of the cart the two were put on, would give Severos a shake every now and then, keeping him awake. “Do’ya want sumfin’ for that throat eh?” she asked him, noticing his hoarseness. The mage nodded, regretting moving as soon as he did it. Still, anything to soothe the inflammation was welcome as he laid there.

Scanning the horizon, Horo saw three large broken pillars in the distance. “What is that?” he pointed, and Nettle turned squinting against the heat vapor rising off the dunes.

“Ya got quite an eye to see dat.” she chuckled. “Ain’t too sure but I do know it’s a temple to a weird as I’ll git out god.” she mentioned. “Ya’ll see, it’s a sorta stop for us, got an old well we fill up at.” Jutting from the desert sands not a kilometre away from the caravan stood the decaying remains of what would have been a great temple. It was shaped as a great megaron, pillars of aged marble keeping the once pediment roof stable. Part of the temple seemed consumed by the desert sands, a crumpled rustic symbol of the sun barely hung before the entrance. With its nearly decaying nature, only three statues before it seemed undamaged, only aged by time itself.

The first was a grey marble statue of a halfling playing a harp, which had an uncanny resemblance to the same halfling with the fake beard who was the cause of this adventure Horo had found himself. Behind the halfling was a great white marble statue, a cloaked being with a hidden face, a crown placed on it’s hooded head. It’s arms were outstretched, as if presenting the halfling playing before, yet it’s hands were hidden away by the extremely large cloak. Even with the majesty of the first two statues, they were nothing compared to the final statue, bigger than the rest, and seemed to be in the best condition compared to the others. The marble was whiter than the fresh snow of Varland, shaped into the body of a nearly perfect woman, cloaked in cosmic constellations. The woman seemed to look down, a kind and caring smile on her face as she lowered her hands down to those who arrived, or maybe to the cloaked being before her, perhaps both. It was truly uncertain, even though many faces were unfamiliar, the one statue of the halfling was enough for Horo to recognize the god that this temple was built for.

Horo started at the three statues for a moment. “Why do ‘Gods’ have such bad taste?” He asked nobody in particular. “I mean three statues is a bit overkill.” he looked at the halfling statue. “OVERCOMPENSATION!” he shouted. “I mean even The Fair Lady doesn’t have a statue and she deserves one. This guy has three?”

“That would be incorrect.” A lone voice spoke out, from behind the largest statue came a half orc priestess, a cloak of white covering her body, while her aged face cracked by the barring sun, her hair in white braids. She gave Horo a soft smile, “The statues were built by the order of the high priest during the old age, as well as the temple. It is a bit much, I agree. As for ‘this guy’ he only has one. That halfling is the current vessel for the Anthema.” She pointed at the largest, “Which is the real being to worship, these other two are nothing more than messagers, very disconnected messagers now. A shame on the guardian.” She could only shake her head in disappointment, before turning to Horo. “Excuse my interruption, my name is Deria, the last priestess of this temple, you are welcomed here to rest, I can provide food if so needed.” She gently bowed before the man before her, respectfully lowering her head.

“Don’t do that.” Horo said, “Enough bowing, and I don’t need a sales pitch for your god or gods. Just looking around. Looking for questions to answers you don’t have.” he turned his attention back to the statue. Wanting more than anything to level it to dust but knew it meant more to this woman standing then it did to him as dust. “I won’t bother you. I should rejoin my group anyway.” he said.

“You seek something don’t you, maybe a friend?” Deria questioned him, she slowly raised her head. “That anger, he has done something hasn’t he?” She did the unthinkable next as she approached the statue of the halfling. She approached the base of it, until she was nearly right next to it, and placed her hands on it. At first nothing seemed to happen, until the statue slowly began to tilt, before tumbling down into the sands, cracking apart. “He was always the most troublesome of her vessels, only selected because of his life. No doubt he has become senile even by his age.” She turned to Horo, “I have no respect for him, destroy it if you wish, I shall not batter an eye.”

“Wanting to do something and wasting the time to do it are two different things.” Horo said, “And I don’t have time for games, if you are here…” Horo turn in a small circle. “Come out. I’m done with your spying. I’m done with your games. I’m done with you.” Horo gestured to the room. “Or are you a coward, vessel of a god too weak to pick on someone with the power to fight, hmm?” Horo let out a fake laugh, “I get it now. You are scared of me. Oh how fun.”

"Horo…" Severos went in a concerned, gravelly voice before his inflamed throat succumbed to coughing.

“He won’t come, he is far too weak now, and the Nameless as well as Ar don’t like other gods entering their domain. The two have been battling for control of this nation. You can keep shouting and will never answer.” Deria responded, calmly watching the man in his outburst. She turned her head to another voice, “Keep it down will you? I’m nursing wounds here.” The voice was gruff, yet small. Peeking from one of the ruin pillars was a battle scarred goblin, from the angle the group could see, one of his arms appeared mechanical, and the same metal Horo found earlier today. Deira raised her head, “Tech was it? Apologizes, this guest here is rightfully so enraged with Garric. Please pay no attention to him.” The strange goblin grunted, “When hasn’t that crazy halfling enraged someone.”

Severos, in a bleary state, raised his head. The tincture that Nettle had given him was beginning to work, even though it tasted like a donkey's scrotum. He blinked as he looked over to the statues. "I know that voice…" he said with a less hoarse voice. "Tech?"

"Easy," Nettle told him as he sat partially up.

"Tech… I remember you," Severos called. "You murdered Kuz in Warfall…"

There was a shift, slowly the goblin moved from the pillars, facing Severos. "You were that wizard kid, I recognize you." With his good eye, he stared at the young man, "Yes. I did murder him, I murdered Kuz." He stood from his position and approached him, "It was the biggest mistake in my entire cursed existence." His voice trembled in pain.

Severos chuckled in a pained way, knowing very well of the danger he himself put the village of Warfall in. "You weren't the only one who made bad decisions then. A mistake I made I still pay. One that has only gotten worse." He shook his head, offering his hand to the goblin. "I am to blame for the evil swept through Warfall…"

He knew that not all goblins were evil, though the majority made the exceptions hard to recognize. Of the same note, not all goblins were dumb. Nettle and Tech were of those exceptions, at least as far as he knew. Tech he knew from a time that felt so long ago yet was merely two years ago. Severos never knew of the fate of the mechanical warrior.

He faintly smelled the woodsmoke and rotting flesh as he looked at Tech. "How did you escape Warfall?" He rasped. The goblin took the Severo’s hand in a firm shake. “I was released by the church of Sarnia. A tale for another time. So the King in White being a fool, what has he done this time? Tricked a loved one?" He questioned the strange man who outburst about the vessel.

“A loved one…” Horo said with an unhinged chortle. “The person he tricked is much, much more than just a loved one.” he said, “A loved one you’d move The Heavens and the Earth to protect them. I tear apart nations and bring deities to their knees to keep her safe, and everyone responsible for anything having happened to her, will suffer a slow, merciless death.”

Tech’s eyes widened as if he saw something familiar, he shook himself from the memory, “You aren’t the first one that he pushed to that point. From day one, from my understanding, he has been way too out of control. It was his foolishness that destroyed my entire life, among many others. I fear the Anathema cries for every action he does that leads to death in his failure to do her wishes. This person you have sounds very important, frankly I don’t want another immortal hellbent on vengeance on the gods, one is enough. Do you have an idea where she is?”

“Ohamet.” Horo said, “I know the person who’s keeping her prisoner, but not the exact location. But I’ve ways of finding that kind of info.” he said. Horo reached into his pocket. “Oh, I think this is your’s.” he said, tossing the cog to the goblin. “Dwelver metals are hard to come by anymore. Might want to keep hold of it.”

The goblin caught it, looking down at it. “Thank you. Ohamet you say.” He examined the cog, remembering the battle with the star spawn, Sabriel. “He was meeting someone, I wonder who that can be, more star spawn, servants? It did say they had a meeting, but where? Didn’t help he teleported off. Damned Nameless and it’s creations.” The goblin spoke to himself, remembering the monster mentioning visiting someone. His thoughts, the own gears in his head turning, gaining an important piece in the repair of his suit.

“Wouldn’t know how to go about killing a god-vessel would you?” Horo asked half rhetorically. “Because that’s the last piece to this overly complicated puzzle,” he added “All corners and all the bits are white.”

Deria gently tapped the wandering dog on the head, “Time. I feel him growing weak, no doubt he is soon to pass on. The problem is finding another vessel for the Anathema, if she is disconnected from this world, then the Dark One would run supreme.” She faced the statue of the goddess, a bit of sorrow filling her face.

“Then that’ll make my job that much easier.” Horo said, “You know how to bind him to something. Maybe stick him in a lizard or something. Keep it in a jar.” Horo suggested. The priestess chuckled at his words, “A fine punishment for him.” She faced the caravan, “They can come stay at the temple itself, there are places they can rest at. As for you young man.” She faced Severos, speaking to him as a concerned grandmother, “Your mind seems to be muddled with toxic power.”

“I got slammed… rather hard,” Severos responded, still a bit muddled. His eyes flicked towards Horo’s pack at that. He felt a small twinge of need for the book yet he stifled it as much as he could. The old half orc gently tapped him on his forehead, uttering a silent prayer. Her voice seemed to slowly part the fog of evil in Severos’s mind.

It did not want to be moved, Severos felt. Unconsciously, he knew that such an evil thing could not be easily dissuaded. He was marked by the forgotten lich. It was not something that wanted to go, latched onto his soul and mind. "Take your hands off of me, you filthy-" Severos snapped uncharacteristically, voice an antagonistic tone that Horo had known once before. Even as he drew shocked glances as the priestess drew the veil from his mind.

As before with Hemlock, Severos felt the evil bubble up. He convulsed a bit in a thrashing that nearly hit Tech and Nettle before he settled. Severos turned his head and expelled the thick, liquid tar substance from him, shadowy tendrils of it touching the air and evaporating upon the sand. "How- how did you know?" He asked, gasping a bit.

"By the Divines!" Someone went, witnessing the events from a distance. The puddle of black goo was nearly gone now, the mass shrinking as it evaporated into nothing in the hot sunlight. Severos waved his hand, his other beginning to prop himself up as he wiped his mouth. "Ugh! By Azûth, I hate him!" He remarked, spitting true saliva into the sands. The young mage shook his head and blinked to clear it.

“Kalemoran’s taint still remains even after death, as do many necromancers who follow in the path of the Fade. However, it is nothing the Anathema can’t burn away from a kind soul.” Deira calmly helped Severos up to his feet, a motherly smile on her face, “Warfall you say, I knew Kuz, as I know Tech.” She turned to the goblin for a moment before turning back to Severos, “He often wrote about the people there, asking for my wisdom, funny. I always thought I would be the one seeking his wisdom, yet he always surprised me. Asking an isolated priestess when the rest of her church has decayed how to handle situations in villages. He spoke a lot about Warfall, reminded him of his old home; he was happy there, and the kind hearted fool he was, worried about everyone, from the great Sphinx to a lonely mage that seemed haunted by evil.”

A hollow whine came from Horo's bag, eerily high-pitched as it was faint. It rang behind the ears at the words of what lay within. It remembered well the momentary freedom it had. It slinked back to the shadows, dark pages in the folds of the bag vibrating with wards still strong.

Severos cleared his head, unable to shake the feeling of foreboding. "I admit, I arrived at what seemed to be an uneasy time. But we can't always have golden times. That sounds as much like Warfall as I experienced." His eyes glanced at The Wandering Dog. "But tis the place of growing friendships."

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