M An Opal in the rough

Sigmund Vrell

The First High Priest of Neo New Babylon
Level 2
Joined
Sep 9, 2018
Messages
28
Essence
€5,002
Coin
₡22,664
Tokens
0
World
Inverxe
Profile
Click Here
Sigmund stood in his new pyramid, flicking idly through his tome.

“Say, did this tribe have a religion before we arrived?” The high priest asked, turning to face the few cultists milling about. Amy was, of course, only a few paces behind him, ready to answer his question.

“Not really. A few people would worship crystals, but overall the village was agnostic or atheistic. Of course, we had never heard of the great faith you have brought to us at the time, so we couldn't know of Gal’skap’s greatness.” The priestess said, reddening slightly in the face. She didn't seem to be able to meet Sigmund’s gaze as she spoke, her eyes shifting from side-to-side. The cultist slammed his tome shut, turning to face Amethyst.

“Surely someone must have had some real spiritual beliefs.” The high priest said, scratching his chin.

“Hasn't he met the shaman yet?” A lower ranking cultist asked, cutting into the conversation.

“I- Well, no. We haven't had the chance to introduce them yet.” Amy said, her face turning a deeper shade of red.

“This village has a shaman?” Sigmund wondered aloud. His expression darkened briefly, as if he had just been told that his food was rotten. “Why wasn't this mentioned?”

“The shaman is… Eccentric.” Amy said, the other cultist nodding along with her.

“They live along outside the village and refuse to speak to any of us. They wouldn't even talk to the chief, no matter how much she demanded it.” The male cultist explained.

“I would like to go meet this ‘shaman’.” Sigmund said, grinning enthusiastically. “Will you take me?”

Amy opened her mouth to say something, but before she could, the male cultist cut in with ‘sure thing’. The priestess stared daggers at the man, even as he introduced himself to the high priest as Agate.

“I'll go with you!” She insisted as the pair turned to leave.

“Of course.” Sigmund said, smiling widely, although a few less molars were showing than normal.

The trip to the shaman’s house was, to Sigmund’s surprise, rather pleasant. Agate was a tunnel scout who had left his job to join the faith, and his stories from his work were a welcome source of entertainment on the journey.

“Oh! On one expedition, we found a dragon hoard!”

“Eh?” Sigmund exclaimed, his eyes widening. “A real dragon? Here in Inverxe?”

“I know, we could hardly believe it ourself.” Agate replied, grinning at his high priest. “It was already dead, luckily. Just a skeleton on a pile of gold and crystals.”

“Wow… What did you do with the skeleton?”

“Well, we gave it to the shaman to do… Whatever they do with it. That's what reminded me of the story.”

“So, what gender is the shaman?” Sigmund asked curiously. “You keep referring to them as ‘they’.”

“Erm.” Agate mumbled, glancing at Amy for help, who simply shrugged. “You'll see when we get there. Which will be in just a moment, actually.”

The former scout gestured forward to a winding path leading down a widening cavern, a hut of carved stone at the end. Clusters of small, glowing crystals illuminated the cavern, shrouding the hut in soft blue light. As Sigmund approached the hut, he noticed that his companions were starting to slow down, as if they were reluctant to arrive at the house. The high priest was slightly disconcerted, but continued down the path nonetheless. Arriving at the front door, Sigmund shrugged before knocking on it.

“Who's there?” An androgynous voice shouted from within. “I swear to the void, if one of you fucking exhibitionist troglodytes have come to ask me for wishes again, I will flip out!”

The door swung wide, displaying Sigmund with a strange image. A short-statues person of indeterminate gender stood in the doorway, peering at the cultist through a mask of carved bone. Both bones and crystals adorned their clothes in equal measures. Clothes that, to Sigmund’s joy, covered most of their body. They shaman tossed back their curtain of silver hair, appraising the newcomer intently.

“Well shit, you're fully dressed.” They said approvingly. “You're not from around here, huh?”

“I'm from Neo New Babylon. We recently conquered this area.” The cultist said cheerily. “More specifically, I’m the high priest of the cult of Gal’skap. I thought it would be appropriate for me to come and speak to you about your beliefs.”

“Religious type, eh.” The shaman said dismissively. “What, you come and collect your tithes and we go to heaven, right?”

“No no, it's more of a ‘bear witness to infinity and invoke the primordial essence of reality’ religion.” The cultist said, brandishing his tome.

“Yeah, I…” The shaman began to retort before their eyes came to rest on the breach crystal set in the cover. Silently, they glanced from the crystal, then to Sigmund, then back to the crystal. “I-Is that what I think it is?”

“It's a breach crystal. You know, for opening the breach. Do you recognise it?” The high priest said, an odd bubbly feeling rising up in his chest. The shaman wordlessly raised their hand to their neck, pulling up necklace adorned in breach crystals. Their eyes were wide beneath the mask and their voice was slightly choked up as they spoke.

“I just... I never thought I'd see the day!” The shaman wailed as they threw themself at Sigmund, wrapping their arms around him. “I've spent 20 years around these savages calling me crazy or demanding that I make their STDs go away! 20 FUCKING years! Where have you been all my life?”

“Don't worry friend, I'm here now.” Sigmund replied. The cultist himself was struggling to believe that he had met someone versed in the occult within the tribe.

“High priest.” Amy said, her expression stone-cold as she reached out to grab the cultist’s cloak, only for the shaman to slap her hand away.

“Don't ruin this.” They spat before releasing Sigmund from their embrace. “Please, come in, we have much to discuss. The name’s Opal by the way.”

“Oh, thank you Opal. My name is Sigmund.” The high priest said, enthusiastically clapping his hands together. “Can these two come in as well? They are a part of my cult after all.”

Opal cast a look at the two lesser cultists, disdain visible even beneath their mask. “Hrmm, okay. But listen up you two. Don't touch anything, don't go near anything and don't look at anything too hard. Got it?!”

Agate nodded, surprise visible on his face. Amy, on the other hand, appeared to be trying to kill the shaman with her gaze.

“Of course…”
 

Sigmund Vrell

The First High Priest of Neo New Babylon
Level 2
Joined
Sep 9, 2018
Messages
28
Essence
€5,002
Coin
₡22,664
Tokens
0
World
Inverxe
Profile
Click Here
“May I interest you in some tea?” Opal asked as they removed their mask, smiling pleasantly at Sigmund. Their face was unblemished and symmetrical. It was also utterly androgynous, shedding no light on their gender. The shaman’s expression was slightly unhinged, their eyes a little too wide and their smile a little too gleeful.

“You have tea down here?” Sigmund asked.

“Well, it’s not tea. I'm not actually sure what it is. But it tastes nice enough and I see into the void when I drink it. So, how about it?”

The high priest paused for a few moments, weighing his options before nodding.

“Certainly, I'd love some.”

“Excellent.”

“Could I have some tea?” Agate asked, raising his hand.

“Erm…” Opal stood up and walked over to a makeshift kitchen counter. As they rummaged around in some crystal containers, Sigmund took a moment to observe the hut. It appeared to be made from mushroom stalks sealed with a resin-like substance. The decorations were heavy, consisting mainly of occult symbols and crystal art. The shaman cleared their throat as they turned back to their guests. “I guess that I could spare a bit for you. It might raise your IQ.”

“Could I have a cup?” Amy piped up. The priestess had shifted her seat closer to Sigmund's while Opal was distracted and was close to linking arms with the high priest.

“One; personal space, ogre girl, and two; no.” The shaman said, sneering slightly at the priestess. Amy’s eyes widened and her mouth dropped open a little.

“What, why?”

“Because I don't like you, or the death glares you were giving me outside.” Opal sniffed, shrugging. The shaman lit a fire at their kitchen counter, placing a pot of water over it. As the water boiled, they hummed an uneven melody, tapping their hands discordantly on the tabletop. Amy crossed her arms, pouting as the three cultists waited.

“Let's just leave.” The priestess hissed, staring daggers at the shaman.

“Why?” Agate asked, cutting Sigmund off before he could respond.

“What do you mean why?” Amy asked incredulously. “They’re being an asshole, like always.”

“Well, you should have expected this.” The cultist said, shrugging.

“I'm sorry, did I miss something?” Sigmund wondered aloud, mystified. Agate opened his mouth to respond, but Amy cut him off before he could.

“No. It's nothing.” She growled.

“The tea is ready! Try not to inhale too many fumes.” The shaman said cheerily, handing a cup of tea to Agate and Sigmund before sitting down with their own. “So, what did you want to talk about?”

“I'd like to offer you a formal invitation to join my cult. We have taken over a pyramid in the Dwemer city and are using it as a temple. I'd love to have someone like you join us.” The high priest said, giving his best smile.

“Oh. Intriguing. What do you do in your cult?”

“You know. Gaze into infinity. Crush the unenlightened heathens beneath our boots. Try to pretend that Victor isn't thinking lewd thoughts constantly.”

“Sounds nice.” Opal said. “I actually have a project I've been working on that I could use your help with. I'm sure that we could do some great things together.”

“Excellent. So you'll join us? You can move in right away.” Sigmund said, grinning.

“Well… There is one problem.”

“What's that?”

“None of the villagers like me very much. Particularly the women.” Opal said matter-of-factly. “And, frankly, I find them pretty unpleasant to be around too. Talking to mushrooms is more engaging.”

“Eh? Is it that bad?” Sigmund asked, glancing to the other cultists. Agate shrugged, but Amy’s face was stone-cold again.

“I wouldn't be opposed to you joining the cult.” The male cultist said, offering a slightly reassuring smile.

“If they don't want to join, we shouldn’t try to force their hand.” Amy grumbled.

“Oh, you'd like me to just send you all away so that you can pretend I don't exist, wouldn't you, Amethyst?” Opal said, their gaze suddenly sharpening.

“What's your problem?” Amy said snarkily. Opal suddenly shot out of their chair, speed-walking across the room to a nearby bookshelf. The shaman pulled a small, leather-bound book out of the shelf, flipping it open.

“What's my problem? Let's see… I'll give you a few of my favourites. Two years ago, Emerald came and asked me to give her something to aid muscle growth. When I refused to aid her in doping, she threw a rock through my window. A year and a half ago, Gemima came and asked me for something to make a visiting off-worlder fall in love with her. I told that I'd not help her drug someone, so she threw a rock through my window. Oh, I love this one. 9 months ago, Amethyst asked me to help her become the centre of attention. I informed her that I could not, as I was too busy replacing my window to help someone with something so petty. So she threw a rock at me.”

Opal slammed the book shut. “And these are the ones who come to me for stuff rather than just calling me a crazy person. Does this help explain what my ‘problem’ is?”

Amy snorted derisively at the shaman. “Of course you'd write yourself as the victim.”

“Did you throw a rock at Opal, Amy?” Sigmund asked, smiling at the priestess. Despite his warm expression, Amethyst shrunk back slightly.

“Well… Yes, but that's because they called me a smooth-brained attention whore.” Amy said. As she did, Opal stifled a chuckle at their insult. “Besides, everyone would do it.”

“That's because you ignorant cromagnons don't understand that I can't do most of the shit you ask for and get pissed when I tell you no.” The shaman said, crossing their arms over their chest.

“Well, obviously there are some… Issues that we need to work out. But I assure you, those of the faith aren't just any random villagers. If they're willing to join the cult, I'm sure they're willing to enlighten themselves on the esoteric and mend relations with you.” Sigmund said, giving an enthusiastic smile to the shaman.

Opal paused for a long moment before sighing. “Alright. I suppose that I can bear being around these… People if it means that I can meet more people like you, Sigmund.”

“Alright, perfect.” Sigmund said. Amy huffed and crossed her arms, but didn't object. Agate, on the other hand, was sitting still and making strange faces as the ‘tea’ began to take effect.
 

Sigmund Vrell

The First High Priest of Neo New Babylon
Level 2
Joined
Sep 9, 2018
Messages
28
Essence
€5,002
Coin
₡22,664
Tokens
0
World
Inverxe
Profile
Click Here
Sigmund took a deep breath, trying to focus his mind for a minute. Together, the cultists had helped Opal haul the entirety of their belongings from their hut to the pyramid that was serving as a Gal’skap’s temple, despite the verbal abuse that they were forced to endure. Amy, to her credit, had not offered a single retort from start to finish. The priestess scowled as she handed the last box to the shaman, who gave her a sarcastic smile in response. As the door to their room slammed shut, Amy gave a long, shuddering sigh and turned to the high priest.

“Are you certain this is a good idea?” She grumbled.

“I’d wager my life on it.” Sigmund said confidently. “I don't know where they learned what they know, but Opal is very well acquainted with the elders for some random shaman. It would be foolish to let them slip through our fingers.”

The high priest paused for a long moment, scratching his chin gently. “I will admit that they are a little… Abrasive. But we just need to get Opal to accept that we’re all here to help.”

“And how do you propose we do that?” Amy sniffed. “I don't suppose you have a ritual to mind control them into being friendly?”

“No, nothing of the sort, sadly.” Sigmund said with a shrug. “I have an idea though.”

The cultist turned to Opal’s room and knocked on the door. The shaman could be heard audibly inhaling, but after a moment the door opened a crack, just enough for them to peek out to see who was knocking.

“Ah, Sigmund, it's you.” The shaman said, releasing their pre-prepared tirade. They had taken their skull mask off, once again revealing their frustratingly androgynous face. “What's up?”

“You mentioned a project that you wanted to complete earlier. Might I ask what that project was?”

“Oh, of course!” Opal said, their eyes shining and their mouth cracking into a grin. The shaman was almost vibrating as they ushered Sigmund inside. “You can even come see if you want, ogre girl.”

Amy opened her mouth to respond, but simply took a deep breath and clenched her fist. “I'd love to.” The priestess choked out after a long moment. Sigmund gave her an extra radiant smile, giving her the motivation to come inside and force herself to get cooperate with Opal. The high priest was pleased by this, glad that his doubts may have been unfounded. Opal’s room had yet to be decorated and most of their belongings were still in their boxes, forcing the shaman to rummage through piles of chicken bones and twisted dream catchers to find their plans.

“Take a look at this.” Opal said, extracting a piece of parchment from their haphazardly placed boxes and slamming it on the floor. Sigmund and Amy peered at it closely, attempting to decipher what they were looking at. Upon the parchment was a strange object resembling a giant totem, with many crystals, bones and viscera jutting off of it.

“That's, uh, interesting.” Amy said.

“I know!” Opal said, either disregarding or missing the priestess’ uncertainty.

“Hrmm.” Sigmund said, picking up the parchment to examine it closer. The construct was gnarled and twisted, bending over and doubling in on itself randomly. Many images were carved into it, ranging from screaming human faces to beasts from beyond. “Oh! It's an obelisk.”

“You know what it is?!” Opal asked excitedly, jumped forward and gripping the high priest’s hands in their own. Amy produced a strange, choking sound, but didn't move.

“You designed this to thin reality, correct?” Sigmund said, surprised at the shaman’s sudden burst of excitement, their faces just inches apart. “We have structures like it back at my monastery.”

“Yes yes yes! I knew you would get this.” The shaman crowed, clapping their hands as they released Sigmund. “It came to me in a dream, and I just knew that if I built this, I'd be able to get closer to the spirits.”

“It's quite a clever design, especially with what you had to work with.” The high priest noted, examining the parchment once again. “It won't be cheap to build though. Look at the size of these breach crystals. And I'm not even sure what these bones come from.”

“Don't you worry about it. This is my magnum opus, I tracked down all the materials years ago. I just wasn't capable of going out and gathering them myself.” The shaman said. Opal cast a sideways glance at Amy, simultaneously sheepish and accusatory.

“We’ll help you collect all the materials.”

Opal’s mouth opened then closed again a few times. It wasn't Sigmund that had extended the offer of assistance, but rather Amy.

“What's in it for you?” The shaman hissed, their eyes narrowing.

“I think it's an interesting idea. Plus, we’re of the same faith now, right? It's only proper that we work together.” The priestess said. Despite her friendly words, Sigmund couldn't ignore how tightly her arms were crossed. Regardless, he admired how far she had come from almost crying when Victor called her ugly.

“I… huh. Thank you, Amethyst.” Opal said quietly, bowing their head slightly. The shaman bore the look of someone whose worldview had just been shattered. Just as Sigmund thought that they might be coming around, they shot up, grabbing the parchment off the floor as they did so. “Alright, bitches, it's settled then. Let's get to fucking work!”

The shaman speed-walked out of the room, scooping up their skull mask and donning it on their way out. Sigmund sighed and gave a little chuckle as Opal hollered to the cultists in the temple that they were going to ‘tear existence a new asshole’.

“I know it was hard, but you did well.” He said to his first priestess, giving her a broad grin.

“It was nothing, high priest.” Amy said. “I simply did what you would have.”

“I'm flattered.” Sigmund replied. “If you ever feel like smiling through everything isn't working out, though, don't despair. Every mind breaker has their own way to deal with powerful emotions.”

Amy was quiet for a moment before giving a slow but understanding nod. “I'll keep that in mind. Now let's go before Opal really offends someone, eh?”
 

Sigmund Vrell

The First High Priest of Neo New Babylon
Level 2
Joined
Sep 9, 2018
Messages
28
Essence
€5,002
Coin
₡22,664
Tokens
0
World
Inverxe
Profile
Click Here
Sigmund grunted as he hauled himself up a small cliff face, struggling to keep up with Opal’s determined stride.

“Is this pace really necessary?” He gasped as Amy helped him clamber to his feet.

“I've waited years for this, another hour or two might literally kill me.” The shaman said as they came to a fork in the road, briefly appraising it before choosing the left tunnel. Most of the cult was making the trek deep into Inverxe in a dual purpose mining expedition and team-building exercise.

“You're not the one being forced to carry the tools.” Agate grunted, hefting a pack full of mining equipment as he followed close behind.

“Do not speak to the high priest like that.” Amy snapped, glaring down at the man. Agate shrunk under her gaze, giving a murmured apology.

“It's fine, Amy.” Sigmund said, smiling up at her. “I could carry some stuff with my telepathy. It would probably save a lot of time and eff-”

“No. We need you to be at your best in case something happens.” The priestess replied.

Sigmund shrugged, giving a guilty glance back at Agate. Opal only got faster as they approached their mysterious destination, their excitement growing contagious as time went on. The shaman hadn't told anyone what they would find when they arrived, only that they would “freakin’ love it”.

“Keep moving, shouldn't be too much longer.” Amy called, glancing back at the column of cultists trekking through the tunnels. Her gaze lingered on the congregation for a moment before turning back to the path ahead. “High priest, why is it that we don't have any Dwemer in the fold yet?”

“Well, I can't say for sure, there are a few reasons that might be the cause.” Sigmund said with a small shrug. “For one, they might just reject the idea of a human elder God in place of their own deities. What I find more likely, however, is that they can't become priests and priestesses.”

“And why is that?”

“How should I put this… Cultists tend to, uh, change over time. Worship warps them, shapes the body and mind into strange new forms that are more pleasing to the old ones. Elves, as far as I can tell, are more in tune with the arcane, and thus are more sensitive to the energies of the breach and will change much faster than humans.”

“Huh, right.” Amy said, nodding slowly. “Have you seen this happen?”

“Aye, I have. Elves are mostly extinct where I'm from, but there are a few that have fallen under the sway of an elder.”

“What are they like?”

The cultist paused for a long moment, visibly distracted by his thoughts. Eventually, he turned back to his disciple.

“Different.” He said matter-of-factly. “It may not be relevant, though, we don't even know if Dwemer have the same sensitivity. Time will tell, I suppose.”

“High priest, will we start to, err, ‘change’ over time too?” The priestess asked, a concerned look crossing her face.

“Probably.” The high priest replied. “Don't worry, though, it's very slow for humans. I've been exposed for 20 years and look, I’m still fine.”

“Ah, right.” Amy sighed. “What kind of changes could we expect?”

“Y’know, the usual. Wasting away until you're bone thin, losing all the coloration in your body, tentacles, that sorta thing.” The cultist said enthusiastically.

Amy opened her mouth to say something, but was cut off by Opal’s cheering.

“Here it is! Here it is!” They whooped, jumping up and down eagerly. The tunnel opened up into a large cavern, at the centre of which lay a colossal breach crystal. It was easily as tall as any of the cultists and bathed the cavern in a soft glow. It hummed in a high pitched thrum, which Sigmund quickly realised his crystals were resonating with.

“It's incredible.” The high priest said breathlessly. “I've only seen a few crystals bigger than this, and they were all ancient beyond belief. How long has this been here?”

“I don't know, but it's not gonna be here much longer.” The shaman said, hefting a pickaxe with their skinny arms. “Let's smash this bitch.”

“Ah, of course.” Sigmund said, ripped back to reality as he was reminded why they were here. “Is this really necessary? This place could be a heritage site.”

“Sorry, Sigs. I have a big totem in my head and I've gotta get it out. Besides, won't ol’ Gal’skap prefer that we use the big rock to help rip open existence than just look at it?” Opal said, feigning sympathy even as they bounced on their heels.

“I suppose so…” The high priest said, though his distraught expression betrayed him.

“Just give the order and we’ll go back home.” Amy said gently. The cultist was silent for a long moment. What Opal was saying made sense and the obelisk would be a great boon to the cult, but to destroy such a beautiful monument to the gods… No, it would be wrong to let sentimentality get in the way of advancing the old one’s plan… Wouldn't it?

“No, no. The extraction shall continue.” Sigmund said, gesturing towards the crystal. His stomach tightened and he felt as though his lungs were failing. The high priest turned away from the giant gem as Opal strode towards it, swinging their pick menacingly and giggling.

“High priest.” Agate said, presenting the man with a pick. Sigmund glared at it as if it were a bloody knife before turning his gaze to the junior cultist, incredulous. “Eh?! Don't tell me you're gonna slack on this t-”

“By Gal’skap, shut up, Agate.” Amy growled, smacking the man over the back of the head. He turned away with a muffled apology, moving to join the others in mining. “High priest, will you be okay?”

“I'll be fine, Amy.” Sigmund said, nodding shakily. He was clutching his tome to his chest as if it he was scared that it might fly away. “The sooner we’re done here, the sooner I can forget about this place.”

Amethyst said no more, simply nodding, grabbing a pick, and walking off towards the crystal, leaving Sigmund to mumble and whisper anxiously to himself.
 

Sigmund Vrell

The First High Priest of Neo New Babylon
Level 2
Joined
Sep 9, 2018
Messages
28
Essence
€5,002
Coin
₡22,664
Tokens
0
World
Inverxe
Profile
Click Here
“Erm, Opal…” Sigmund asked, sighing a little as the shaman wheeled a cart towards him. “What is that?”

After dismantling the colossal crystal, the cultists had returned to the pyramid. The crystal shards, along with copious amounts of mushroom ‘wood’, were piled up in the middle of the temple, ready to be assembled when the priests and priestesses were ready. While Sigmund helped in unloading their cargo, Opal had disappeared after shouting something about ‘grabbing the big one’.

“This, my friend, is our secret weapon.” The shaman said proudly, gesturing to the wooden trap on the cart. It appeared to be a giant box, held up by a stick. If that weren't bad enough, Agate was hog-tied beneath it, struggling feebly against his bonds.

“Oh, I see… Have you been drinking the tea again?” The high priest asked. “We can't just use Agate as bait for... whatever it is you want us to hunt.”

“We’re not going to. We’re using him to catch the bait!” Opal said, putting their hands on their hips and puffing out their chest with pride. Strangely, this didn't seem to relieve Agate. Instead, the cultist began struggling even harder, his muffled cries drawing glances but no assistance.

“Is this really necessary?” Sigmund asked, scratching his head. “We have plenty of meat we can use.”

“No no, it needs to be a person. And who better than this side-character lobotomite?” Opal said as if it were obvious. “Just trust me, alright?”

“Okay…” Sigmund said after a long sigh, uncertainty clear in his voice.

“Yes, sweet. Let's get going now, he’s gonna give himself a stroke if we wait much longer and we need him alive.” The shaman said, tugging the cart along eagerly.

Sigmund followed after this new recruit, following their footsteps closely. Exhausted by his struggling, Agate lay limply under the trap, sweating profusely as he glared at Opal and silently begged Sigmund for assistance. The high priest wanted to help his follower, but was eager to see what Opal had in mind.

“Alright, this should be good.” The shaman said, stopping the cart and sliding the trap off, dropping Agate into the cold stone floor of the caverns. “Now, Agate. I recommend crying.”

The cultist released a muffled ‘what?!’ at the shaman’s recommendation, beginning his struggling again. As he did, Opal rushed towards the cart, vaulting over the side and ducking into it.

“Sigs, hide.” The shaman hissed, peeping over the edge. The high priest obliged, hopping in the cart next to Opal. They were jittering with excitement, occasionally glancing over at Sigmund to gauge his reaction. He simply gave a weak smile and shrugged in response. After a while, the head cultist caught a glimpse of reflected light in the darkness. A massive insect crept out from the darkness, a long proboscis probing the ground as it went. Opal’s nudges rapidly sped up as they saw the creature.

“This is it!”

Agate rocked around as it got closer, desperately trying to escape his bonds. The creature crept towards him, as if sensing his panic. It's proboscis grew closer and closer, before it finally brushed his face. Sensing food, the formerly sluggish insect leapt forward, sending the box crashing down on the pair with a slam.

“Ya hoo!” Opal crowed over Agate’s horrified screams. “Flawless execution.”

The shaman strode over to the box before lifting it slightly and snatching Agate out from underneath, leaving too little room for the insect to escape. Once the cultist was free, Opal dropped the box, leaving the creature to thump against it in vain. The reluctant bait was shivering but unharmed.

“Come on, pull it together. Those things lap up salty liquids like sweat and tears, you had nothing to worry about.”

“You could have told me that!” Agate exclaimed as Sigmund removed the gag from his mouth and began to work on his bonds.

“Would you have been sweating and crying if I had?” Opal asked, looking smug even despite their mask.

“No!” Agate snapped.

“Exactly!”

“Please, you two, cut it out.” Sigmund sighed, raising his hands in an attempt to disarm the two. The cultists tensed for a moment before both begrudgingly agreed. “Okay. Now what?”

“We take this thing deeper into the caverns. Then we get the big money.” Opal said eagerly. “You can go now if you want, Agate.”

“Doubtful.” The cultist snorted. “I used to be a tunnel scout, remember? I'd like to see you get back without me.”

Opal seemed unconvinced, but Sigmund nodded enthusiastically. “We’d love the help, Agate.”

“Yeah, sure, alright…” The shaman grumbled.

Together, the cultists loaded the trapped insect onto the cart and led it through the caverns, moving deeper and deeper into Inverxe. The rapidly widening tunnels were dead silent, which shouldn't have been unusual, but Sigmund found it disconcerting when paired with the knowledge that they would be hunting something big.

“Hey Opal, what are we looking for exactly?” He asked, attempting to choke his worry with curiosity.

“It's big. It's mean. It eats bugs. I haven't named it yet. You'll love it, I'm sure.” The shaman replied, glancing around the massive tunnel. “Alright, this looks like a good spot. You know the drill.”

With some assistance, Opal hefted the trapped beast off the cart, dumping it onto the ground. The trio of cultists then moved the cart off to the side and hid in it, waiting with a combination of excitement and nervousness. Thankfully, it didn't take long to attracted something. A spider-like creature soon came skittering out of the darkness, it's many eyes focusing curiously on the lightly shifting box before it. Sigmund tensed as the creature approached the box, but as he glanced as Opal, he realised that their gaze was focused elsewhere. Right as the spider-thing touched the box, a sickle-like leg plunged through its body.

Opal giggled quietly as their companions turned their gazes to the leg, following the elongated limb to the nightmare before them. A pale, bell-like body, easily twelve feet tall, was held aloft by half a dozen stick-thin limbs, each one tipped by a metre-long claw. A melodic cry sounded from the abomination, its bell pulsating as it retracted its leg into its body, taking the struggling spider with it.

“Alright, now's our chance. Which one of you has the crossbow?” The shaman hissed eagerly. Sigmund at Agate glanced at each other, mystified.

“Um, which crossbow is this?” Sigmund asked nervously, a sense of foreboding setting in.

“Y’know, the heavy crossbow. It’ll shoot right through that thing.” Opal said before pausing. “Fuck, I forgot to mention the crossbow, didn't I?”

“How did you forget the weapon we needed to kill this thing?” Agate hissed, almost squealing.

“Maybe if you weren't so busy bitching around in the trap.” The shaman huffed, flicking their hair back in irritation. Agate opened his mouth to respond, but was cut off by Sigmund.

“Erm, Opal, should it be turning that colour?” The high priest asked. The creature was throbbing between red and white, creeping towards the cultists.

“Oh shit, that's not good.” The shaman gulped. “Well. You two have any ideas?”

“Oh Gal’skap, I've still got so much I wanted to do.” Agate whimpered. “I'm gonna die a god-damn virgin! I knew I should have gone to those parties rather than study in scouting school!”

“I don't wanna die a fuckin’ virgin either. Agate, go distract it. Sigmund, drop your pants, hurry!” Opal said. “That's a joke, by the way, keep your pants on.”

“Both of you be quiet.” Sigmund sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose as his tome flipped open. The cultist chanted to himself and extended his hand towards the beast. The creature faltered as it began to feel the temperature around it drop, the heat focusing into the high priest’s hand. Before the monster could escape, a fireball burst from Sigmund’s outstretched arm, streaking towards the creature. A high-pitched wailing sounded from the beast as its body caught fire in moments, going up like a match.

“Damn.” Opal whistled as the beast flailed about, it's bell peeling away from its body. After a few long moments, the beast grew silent, dropping to the ground as its bell disintegrated, leaving a twisted, fleshy form behind. The cultists cautiously approached the body, peering at it from a distance. Once they were satisfied that it wasn't about to get back up, Opal jogged over and began to attempt to lift the body.

“Come on, help me get this thing onto the cart.” They grunted. Sigmund and Agate glanced at each other before shrugging and walking over.

“I should have brought gloves.” Agate sighed.
 

Sigmund Vrell

The First High Priest of Neo New Babylon
Level 2
Joined
Sep 9, 2018
Messages
28
Essence
€5,002
Coin
₡22,664
Tokens
0
World
Inverxe
Profile
Click Here
“Looks like we’ve got everything.” Sigmund said, dropping the cart and attempting to shake some of the viscera that coated his hands. “Are we ready?”

“Yeah, I think so.” Opal replied, nodding. Cultists had gathered around the trio as they returned with a cart loaded with a grotesque corpse, eager to see the project completed. “We should be able to get to work.”

A chorus of chattering spread through the crowd as they heard the shaman, their excitement palpable.

“Just give us some orders, high priest, and we’ll follow them to the letter.” Amy said, pushing to the front of the crowd. Sigmund nodded before turning to his new recruit.

“Well, Opal, this is your project. I'm giving you the reigns.” The head cultist said, grinning radiantly at them.

“Oh, shit, alright.” The shaman said, nodding stiffly. “Alright, first we have to assemble the wood into the totem shape.”

The assembled cultists gave a chorus of affirmatives. As a group, they moved together, each one grabbing a piece of mushroom and bringing it into the centre of the pyramid’s atrium. Opal guided them in piecing the wood together, anxiously rubbing their hands together.

“Yes, just like that. You there, a little to the left.”

Sigmund mentally noted that Opal was not only placing their trust in the cultists to assemble the obelisk, but was refraining from their typically relentless insults while doing so. After a while of painstaking instruction, the vaguely tree-like obelisk was complete, a massive, twisted totem in the centre of the pyramid.

“Alright, next we've got to place the breach crystals. There should be markings on the wood for where they should go.” The shaman said, walking over to the pile of crystal shards and picking one up. Together, the cultists gouged holes in the mushroom wood and inserted the eldritch gems into them.

“Hey, Opal.” Amy called as she glanced over the shaman. “Heads up.”

“Oh, thanks.” Opal said, catching the shard that their fellow cultist tossed at them.

“Just like old times, eh?” Amy chuckled, receiving a slightly pained laugh from the shaman.

“I suppose so. Although this time has a suspicious absence of crude swearing and liver pain.” They noted. Soon, the breach crystals had been inserted into the totem, bathing the room in a soft blue-green glow.

“Now comes the fun part.” The shaman said eagerly, sprinting over to the cart and dragging it over, gesturing proudly to the misshapen corpse within. The cultists hesitated, glancing from Opal, to the corpse, to each other, and back to Opal. “Come on, don't be shy. You should feel privileged that you get to splay gross, tainted flesh over the weird crystal hell tree.”

Sigmund was the first to move, gingerly grabbing a handful of viscous grey flesh. The gooey meat squished unpleasantly in the high priests hands, bringing a cringe to his face before he hurled it at the totem, splattering it it mis coloured blood and viscera. Agate was next, muttering something about revealing his virginity under his breath as he furiously tore a chunk of flesh from the dead beast. He looked as if he were about to spit on it too before joining Sigmund in tossing the rancid ooze. Soon all of the cultists were coating the obelisk, baptising it in the blood of the monster. After a short while, all that was left of the beast was its head, which Sigmund lifted with telekinesis before planting it on the totems apex.

“Alright, last step.” Opal said, drawing a carving knife from their belt and sighing slightly. “We gotta carve the symbols into the totem. And by we I mean me, and maybe Sigs.”

“That sounds tedious.” Amy noted.

“Oh, don't you worry. It is.” The shaman sniffed. “Come on, let's get to work. The sooner we start, the sooner we finish.”

Opal passed Sigmund another carving knife and the two approached the obelisk. From a distance, the structure was impressive. At this distance, however, it was somewhat daunting, towering above the cultists with its many blood-soaked, crystal-bearing limbs and the unblinking head of the slain monster. Together, the two cultists got to work, carving various eldritch symbols and nightmarish scenes into the mushroom ‘wood’.

“Gal’skap, this is taking forever.” Opal groaned before glancing behind themself. “Hey, ogr- Erm, Amy. You want in on this?”

“Huh, really?” The priestess said, shocked. “Uh, sure.”

The shaman handed her a third knife, and the three cultists worked with vigour, finishing their carving within the hour. Once they were done, Opal wiped their brow, despite their skull mask.

“Nice work, ladies, gents and other.” The shaman sighed, placing their hands on their hips and gazing up at the obelisk. The vast structure, covered in crystals, carvings and viscera, towered above the assembled cultists, a twisted monument to their eldritch deities.

“Now what?” Agate asked, mirroring the sentiments of the assembled cultists. “I don't feel any different.”

“This is the most important part, we have to activate the totem.” Opal said, turning to Sigmund. “Well, Sigs, are you ready to do it?”

“Okay.” He said cheerily. “What does the activation involve?”

“We need a very powerful discharge of psychic energy that we can only get from a strong emotional experience.” Opal said, walking up to Sigmund and removing their mask. The shaman placed a hand on each shoulder and stared into his eyes. “Sigmund, baby, are you ready to get real fucking weird?”

The high priest said nothing, lost for words. His face paled visibly, his pupils contracted to dots and his jaw opened slightly in horror. Before he could recover, however, a deep thrum seemed to sound in his ears and his tome vibrated in his hand.

“Oh, bitching, it worked.” The shaman said, grinning as they slipped their mask back on. “Nice work, my dude.”

Sigmund gave a breathless nod, relief flooding through him as the obelisk began to light up, gentle radiance spreading from the crystals and across the network of carvings gouged into the wood. The cultists broke into a round of cheers, noisily celebrating and gathering around the totem.

“I get your game. I see you, making me like people and shit.” Opal sighed as they came up to Sigmund, coming to stand beside him. “You're pretty good at making people get alone. But you're even better at making people like you, huh?”

“Oh, am I?” The high priest asked, mystified.

“And I thought you were smart.” Opal chuckled, gently punching him on the arm before turning to leave. “Well, see you around, Captain Charisma. I've got voices to listen to.”

With that, the shaman left, leaving Sigmund standing there, mystified.

“High priest, are you okay?” Amy asked, approaching him with a concerned look.

“Oh, yes, I'm fine.” Sigmund said, giving her a reassuring look.

“I'd just like to say that maybe you were right about Opal. They're not so bad once you get past the cursing and the insults and the mild insanity.”

“You'd be surprised. Almost anyone can be pleasant company once you get to know them well enough.”

“Even Agate?” Amy asked, shocked.

“I'd say so.” Sigmund replied.

“Wild…” She whistled.
 
Top