"So you speak our language -- that's a good start." Kasna, keeping her grip firm but not crushing, observed what she could of her captive from such a close vantage. This certainly wasn't what she had expected... not entirely, anyway. Whatever it was it wasn't human, that much seemed clear. She needed to know more, though. "You will answer my questions, and when you have I may decide to release you. That depends on whether you are our enemy or not."
Hostility and threats, the clearer side of her mind pointed out, would only elicit faster and hastier lies. No... they needed the truth from this... creature. "Should you be innocent of ill doings, then as a knight-errant of the Silver Flame you have my oath that we shall not harm you. Now, begin with your name and what you are doing here."
Last Edit: Mar 27, 2016 17:15:56 GMT -7 by Nascent
The lady certainly spoke confidently with pretty words of oaths and knighthood. The hooded individual looked side to side to, once again, confirm that they were utterly surrounded. As they moved the faintest grinding of soft stone could be heard in the otherwise tense silence. "O-Okay," came the quiet agreement accompanied by rapid small nods. The being dropped their hands back onto Kasna's own, not as an aggressive action as it seemed to be more for comfort and just something to do with them. There was a long pause before they began speaking again.
"I am Tathik. I uh... I'm here," he gave a small hand motion to the darkened house, "Because the owners aren't too open minded about other folk's cultures. Up and ran off like I was a plague! I didn't hurt anyone," he quickly added at the end.
"Cultures?" Kasna snorted, hardly content with the explanation provided. "You mean to say an entire family up and left their home at just the sight of you? I find that hard to believe."
But not entirely impossible. Farmers were not warriors, after all -- the people who lived here might have expected to defend themselves against wolves or the occasional bear, but whatever Tathik was could indeed have spooked them. Would they not have barricaded themselves in sooner than abandon their home? Clearly there was more to this story.
"What did they find so terrifying about your 'culture', Tathik? Did you give them a reason to fear you?" She paused. "And more importantly... what connection do you have to the walking dead that we've encountered? What do you know of such things?"
The figure may be difficult to read visually due to the darkness and his hooded cloak, but the reluctant pauses and choice of words weren't easily missed; to the being's dismay. These ones, or she at the very least, wouldn't be as easily swayed with buttered words. Which was his feared assumption previously, but there were more ways to speak. His hands clenched ever so slightly tighter before he answered her next set of queries.
"Well that's... the thing." As he started his hood dropped down from Kasna's face for a moment, as if ashamedly looking at the floor. "I wasn't aware just how disconnected this place is... A farm hand got a good kick from a stallion, rib punctured a lung, messy stuff. I had been, well, 'skulking' around as I didn't have any pleasant place to stay and you may notice I am not exactly equipped to be in the wilds alone for long." He pinched his ragged robe and pulled it a little as if that helped his point.
"Long story short, I obtained the body and, well, raised him. Turns out you guys aren't so comfortable with that; especially when it's in your yard." The last bit was added a bit bashfully. "Screaming and threats were had, all rather confusing for a new zombie. Needless to say, mistakes were made and I ended up with an abandoned house."
"The family wasn't harmed," he made sure to reiterate. "Actually expected you guys were some cleansing party sent by them." Something of an uncomfortable half laugh escaped him.
Last Edit: Apr 2, 2016 14:57:36 GMT -7 by The Maven
Though her hold never faltered, Kasna fell silent after Tathik's explanation. If Reuben and Jace were able to see her expression they would note a change, gradual and terrible, fall over the knight. Her expression spoke what her voice did not -- alarm, at first, then a brief moment of stalwart focus. Subtly, though, something else began to creep into the Adhara's visage: hate... and a flicker of something darker.
"...I see." Kasna's words were absolutely calm, her tone without any hint of ill intent...
... which no doubt made her shoving Tathik face-first onto the floorboards and pinning him there beneath her not only unexpected, but wholly terrifying. "Defiled. You defiled the dead."
The calm voice was stripping away now like paint peeling and cracking, intermittent edges of raw anger being revealed as it flaked away. The next sound Tathik would hear was steel skewering wood as Kasna drove her sword, blade down, into the floor roughly a foot from the hooded creature, making sure not only that Tathik could see it but that the weapon's edge was facing him. Kasna rested her one hand on the pommel as the other settled on Tathik's neck.
"Call it what you will, creature, but I know heresy when I see it." She leaned down a bit. "It wasn't just the one, was it Tathik? You defiled at least two... and given the rumors that led us here, many more. How many, Tathik?" She pressed down on the back of his neck. "How many of the slain did you taint for your own purposes? And the tower -- it was you who slipped out and eluded us, wasn't it? The dark works there were your doing, weren't they?"
She ground her knee into its back, just enough to cause pain. "Your words may have fooled others, but I am not so easily swayed. They have only condemned you." She paused, lifting her knee just slightly to give the creature a margin of relief.
"...I am not, however, without mercy."
"Tell me what you are, and from where your kind hails, then explain the means by which you enacted this heresy and confess any other malignant acts you have committed in these lands. Do this, Tathik, and I will be merciful." She clenched the hand on his neck. "Refuse, lie, or attempt to deceive me and I shall inflict upon you such suffering that death shall seem a mercy by comparison. You have much to answer for -- now speak!"
A little squeak of fear escaped the hooded figured as the beefy woman suddenly slammed him into the floor. It seemed his insistent notes about no harm done wasn't good enough. His mind raced. His predicament only growing darker as the knight made a loud and threatening display of her weapon by his head. Her hand wrapped around the hard uneven shell composing his neck under the thin cloth layers of the blackened robe. There were no muscles or flesh to pressure and hold but it was still pretty effective in keeping him still.
"I wasn't..." he tried to utter in between her rage filled rant. Her words easily overcoming the uncomfortable stuttering of her captive. 'Not evil' and other such brief faint phrases half whispered out but Kasna simply became more intense, her knee grinding into the small of his back. Or at least where there would normally be such an area for a human. A faint crackling radiated out from the pressure point causing a pained whimper from the thing beneath the armored female.
"Now why," he began with a slight tremble in his voice once she had finished, "Would I tell you where my people are just so you can lead some crusade to persecute them all in your ignorance?" The figure spoke in a heavier and resistant tone but it wasn't without fear. He held back another whimper for the repercussion of his refusal, quickly continuing his reply to her rain of questions. "B-B-But! I can - I will tell you of the ones in these lands, as you put it. We are the natural necromancer: the Vitriase." His words were rushed, almost so fast they slurred together as he tried to voice as much as he could so the woman wouldn't send her blade's edge into his... flesh.
"Yes, I was holed up in the tower for most of my research. I'm not so crass as to use these people's home. And yes, I've raised more: only thhhree proper, maybe half... er, a dozen... failures," he gulped so hard the tremor could be felt down his neck. "But that's nothing compared to her, Geixith. S-She is the one you should be worried about. I'm harmless. Trying to help, to stop her. She's mutated things, raised horrors, hundreds of them. They were in your city not that long ago: in the north."
"She's coming here! This place, your lands, are cut off; defenseless. I have knowledge you need to survive this! S-So maybe you should hold off judgement."
A long silence fell, during which Kasna moved not an inch. Her expression teetered back and forth between calm and fury, as though trying to discern her own thoughts on what Tathik had just revealed. One part of her wanted to crush the life from the necromantic creature below her -- a fire far from holy burned in her mind at the thought of the satisfaction hearing his bones snap and feeling the body grow dim and still would bring to her -- but another side of the knight knew better than to succumb. Evil though Tathik's powers and acts might be, if what he said were true...
She shifted, the Adhara getting up and allowing her prisoner room to do the same. "On your feet, necromancer." With a tug she pulled her blade free, holding it at the ready and pointing its edge his way. "Your words have bought you a chance, and merely that. Prove them true with actions, and you may yet earn your life as well. But understand me clearly," Her eyes narrowed to hateful slits as she glared at him. "This is the land of divine decree. Unlike whatever fallen hellscape you hail from, in Iendol we do not tempt fate by the pursuit of the forbidden and the unholy. By Meluxent's will the Order of the Silver Flame cast such darkness from humanity's borders in ages past, and we shall stand to do so again."
"We will find this 'Geixith'. We will end her -- not as darkness fighting darkness, as you would, but through steel and flame and purification. And when it is done... you Vitriase shall not return to our lands. And should your kind threaten humanity ever after we will hunt them to the ends of the earth."
She paused, slowly lowering her weapon. "You will accompany me to my sisters, and they will hear what you have to say about Geixith. If, as you say, she is behind the assault on Sennatare then she had much to answer for. Then the masters of my order will determine your fate, though should you betray me I will gladly determine it in their stead. I assume that is understood?"
With nothing but silence for the longest time when Kasna lifted herself and released him from the pin he remained there trying not to shudder, awaiting some sound, some indication as to what she was about to do to him next. To his relief it was simply a demand to stand. Tathik did so without hesitation, practically springing up to stand before her. He clasped his hands together, rubbing them to comfort himself with the dry noise they scraped into the eerie silence of the dark house. The faint yellowy circles spying out from under the hood observed the woman's features as she seethed instructions and threats. He nodded the slightest bit several times in silent agreement to her terms. Oh he was good at making such lovely friends.
His mind was a blaze with ponderings, undoubtedly most being about his own survival. The ranger was closer to the window now, though still a little ways back to keep an eye on the corners of the building. Their other ally quietly guarding the doorway to the bedroom; having no disagreements with Kasna's plan to take the creature to her Order.
"A-absolutely," Tathik managed to voice. "I'll just, uhm, get my bag... behind you there." He pointed to the small, smoothly stuffed bag standing on the chair. If any inspection was to be had on the bag it could be confirmed that it was just like the one in the tower: filled with sand. "It isn't for any hoodoo or anything," he added.
She turned to glance at the bag, then back to the Vitriase. "Don't bother."
Walking calmly towards the window and catching Reuben's eye, Kasna gestured him inside before turning to Tathik. "We will remain here for tonight and head out in the morning. I'll not risk you slipping away in the darkness." Her eyes turned to Jace, indicating with a glance to keep an eye on their prisoner. "Which means we have plenty of time to talk."
"I want to know everything, Tathik. Keep your people's origin from me if you will, but I do require other explanations. How does your... necromancy work? What are its rules, its limitations? And perhaps more importantly," Her eyes narrowed in distaste. "Where did you learn the secrets of the aeliavim from?"
(OOC: Since we're wrapping this up we can just hash out the rest in postscript if you like. Thanks for a magnificent adventure Nori! ^_^ )
((No problem, thanks for makin' it interesting! Sorry it was a bit rushed at the end there))
Her allies complied with her instructions, both weary enough from this day's adventure to agree heading out in the night was not the best of plans. Ruben secured the front door and went to lighting a few candles while Jace ascended the stairs to close easy escapes from the bedrooms. Tathik wasn't nearly as joyed but he didn't speak any complaint, one of his plans pretty much being what the woman called. It wasn't all bad though, at least he had been captured by competent knights, or knight in this case, and not some idiot brigands just as like to turn on each other as cut his fingers off for fun. This band had a code. However, the flickers of madness from Kasna were well noted. He'd have to make sure not to push her buttons.
The necromancer ceased rubbing his hands together like a shopkeeper with the scent of money, looking to the ground and taking a seat with crossed legs. "Well I can tell you it doesn't work very well here," he began with annoyance plain in his tone. "This place is a little lacking in the mystical 'cept for quints. All those scribbles in the tower were useless; nothing worked. So I guess you can be proud of a job well done by your Order." He let out a partial sigh before continuing, deciding what order to answer her questions in. He wasn't too sure about the secret she mentioned but as there was only one part given to him by the aeliavim he had a pretty good guess.
"That retain quint in the tower, I didn't make it. It isn't a craft I am familiar with and frankly wasn't even sure it was a thing that truly existed. I did a bit of business to obtain that thing and they weren't easily swayed in giving it away... I was sure you'd all be dead when I heard the spirit released and that thing was angry; no way I was sticking around."
"It was a pretty vital part in the process so you don't need to worry about me doing any heretic work anytime soon. The only way I found to do it..." he paused in hesitation, knowing Kasna was not going to be the most pleased with the answer. But she wanted the truth and right now that was what was going to keep him on whatever 'good' side she had. "... is to take a soul, harness it with a quint, and fuel a recent dead as that energy leaks out."
"Tch." The Adhara huffed in annoyance but otherwise displayed no outright hostility. With that little piece of information, though, a great many things were starting to fall into place.
"So, let me guess, then." Pointing her weapon blade down, Kasna let it rest on the floor and folded her hands over the pommel. "Back at the tower we noticed many strange things -- now I think they're finally beginning to make sense. The boxes, the shovels, the traces of dirt, all of it came from harvesting the deceased. The pit in the tower's first floor is where you disposed of your failed experiments. What of the bags of salt and grain? Not foodstuffs so much as ingredients, I'd wager. Which brings me to what you have here..." She wandered over to the necromancer's bag, opening it cautiously and sifting it inside with a wary hand. "Sand. Not what I expected. Preservatives for the bodies, hm?"
"What else is there to know about that tower, Tathik? My order intends to lay claim to it as an outpost, so for the safety of my knight-sisters I'll broach no treachery on this point. Your work area was stocked with kindling and had signs of ash and charcoal on the floor. I know you didn't burn the notes there, as we ended up having to do so ourselves, so what, then? Or were you simply not able to destroy them due to the influence of your accursed power source?"
Once again she would find the necromancer bobbing his head up and down in simply reply to confirm her deductions. The shovels, boxes, pit, and ingredients... When she turned and lifted his bag, drawing it open, he lightly clenched his hands to his knees. But when she lowered her hand into it and dug around a hand raised and stuttered voice peeped into the room for just a second before he stopped himself.
"N-No," he stammered somewhat quietly, figuring his movements previous would have been rather suspicious. The last thing he wanted was for her to dump it all to the floor searching for something hidden inside. "It's more like... food. It's what I eat."
Glossing over the knight sticking her fingers in his food, Kasna proceeded with more questions of the tower. Tathik cocked his head to the side in thought, the ever present yellowy dots staring unrelenting at her form. "Well, you'll be happy to know that the reasoning behind that is all rather mundane. I wasn't exactly going to spend ink on the floor, so charcoal is the next best thing and much easier for someone who looks like me to obtain in this area."
"Drawing tools is all. Not the most effective on that floor, but moreso than anything I accomplished in there." He rubbed his knees a few times during a momentary pause. "You destroyed all the notes?" The question was asked but it was plain to tell he already knew the answer; just was hoping it wasn't true.
"... All of them." Kasna made no apology -- in fact, the edge of her lip curled in just a hint of a sneer as she said it. She watched for the inhuman's reaction before adding "A necessary act. Your 'power source' was a demon, a corrupt spirit called an Eidolon, one of the most debased of all the aeliavim's heresies. Barring methods we were not prepared to enact, the only way to destroy one is by destroying its anchor to this world -- in this case, those research notes."
"Had we not, come nightfall it would have been free to terrorize all within it's reach." The knight paused, then tilted her head slightly as though in thought. "Perhaps it would have come searching after a certain Vitriase who had been experimenting on it?" She chuckled dryly, a comfortless sound and clearly meant to be so. "You should be grateful that we destroyed it before it got loose completely."
Kasna let herself think for a moment, making sure all the facts fit. Satisfied for the time being, she turned to Jace. "If there's no objections, we'll watch our 'guest' here in shifts. I'll take the first; you and Reuben can decide on the other two. If Tathik gives you trouble bind him with that rope of yours. And if he tries to escape..."
Her eyes flitted over to Tathik. "Cut off his hand."
"In the meantime search the house for supplies. We take only what we absolutely need. The Order will see the owners reimbursed. Then get some rest; we take the horses and leave at dawn for our respective destinations. Our work here is finished, for now."
The ghost stories that had led them here were finally put to rest, yet a much greater darkness loomed in the east. Gazing down at Tathik -- a weakling creature relying on corpses resurrected with half-broken magics -- she let herself briefly picture his ilk instead as a powerful spellweaver leading a swarm of twisted, horrific creatures. It was enough to send a spike of angry heat coursing through her blood, knowing that such a foe was out there and had already scraped its blood-stained claws across human lands. Geixith had to be stopped.
There was no other choice...
(OOC: I'm good to end it there if you are, unless there's something more to cover.)