Chapter 2. The Chosen One
A maelstrom of screaming demon skulls tore through the chamber. Eldritch energies and arcane forces sparked like lightning, bouncing off the ceiling, rattling the skeletons and iron masks spiked to the walls. Within the safety of the pentagram etched into the floor, before the Altar of Woe, the two Wrackolytes stood yet untouched, protected by an invisible shield-barrier.
“Do you see her?” Abzgorn the Ribspreader hissed.
“By Sanctos…” Lorgex the Eyes growled. “I’ve harnessed the demon, but… ” His old bones creaked as he straightened from gazing into the empty sockets of his seer-skull.. “Spew cannot hide from me. Not from the Eyes.” He wiped smears of sweat down either side of his leather slicks then started patting down his pockets. “Damn.” He looked to his torture slab across the room.
“What in the Craw—?” Abzgorn asked. “Stop!”
Through the invisible barrier Lorgex suddenly leaped, arcane winds searing his skin, his lungs. Ducking, dodging, screaming, he skidded to a halt at his slab. “Where?” Across it he searched, scattering a thousand haphazard trinkets and paraphernalia in the process. “They’re here. They must be!”
“Hurry, you old fool,” Abzgorn watched on in growing irritation. “The ice you tread was rotten already.” He adjusted his hold on the Elder Sign, held quivering above him, generating the shield-barrier. “Grimnir’s teeth.” He winced as arcane an eldritch horror slammed the barrier.
“Curse you!” Lorgex swept his arm across his slab, a hailstorm of sharp instruments clattering onto the floor.
“The High Wrackolyte has already considered castrating your appointment as Wrackolyte,” Abzgorn roared. Cracks began to fissure through the barrier. “Fail me now, and I shall will it done!”
“I need more goblin eyes—” Lorgex looked under his slab.
“The barrier is failing!”
“Curse your eyes!”
“I left them right here!” Lorgex sweat coursed down his liver-spotted egg of a head. Airborne ethereal demon-skulls buzzed past him, snapping with sharp, pointy teeth. “I know it.” He snatched up his torture bag, looked under it, cursed, then dove back into it, rifling through with reckless abandon. Metal forks flew, spike-spirals, chisels and other horrible blood-crusted instruments all over his shoulder. “Aaaarch!” He upended his bag, flung it against the wall and started slamming his puny fists against the slab. “Damn you, Spew!”
“I-In m-my b-bag!” The Elder sign in Abzgorn’s hands vibrated so badly his teeth chattered. A demon-head broke through the barrier, biting onto his leg. “Arrgh!” He kicked, flinging it off. “The b-bottom left—”
Lorgex was there in an instant, elbow deep in the bag, rifling through it, ducking demons, yelping at the burn of hellfire gales. “Aha!” Lorgex yanked a jar free. Orc eyes stared out numbly from within. He deflated. “The demon won’t like these…”
“Do it!” Abzgorn roared. “Give it something! Or I’ll see Spew made Madam and you—” that thought went unfinished as spurting balefire drove him to one knee.
“She’ll be no Madam!” Lorgex ducked another skull, dove across a slab and hurled himself back into the pentagram. Blood streamed from a myriad of cuts and bites to his head, his face, his arms. “No damned wart-back croaker’ll be a full Wrackolyte.” He latched onto the Elder Sign alongside Abzgorn. “Not while I still live and breathe!” As one … they rose.
“Enough. Forget her quest—”
Lorgex’s blue eyes beamed ravenous in the polychromatic swirls. “You know the object of her quest?”
Lorgex obeyed, abandoning Abzgorn and the Elder Sign for the Altar, the seer skull perched atop it. Abzgorn screamed in pain. Lorgex drew the jar from his slicks and smashed them on the altar. Snatching two rolling orbs and took up the skull. “Yeouch!” It snapped at his fingers. “Please — what quest?”
Abzgorn withered beneath the falling barrier. “I… Rrrrrg… cannot say…”
“But you must!” Lorgex begged, kneeling, contorting now beneath the collapsing barrier. “You must tell me. I must know—”
“Harness it!” Abzgorn cried. “Do it now, or we’re doomed.”
Leaning his head back, holding the skull above him, staring into its bulging eyes, Lorgex squeezed his thumbs into the eye sockets. The aqueous-humors squirted, pouring down his arms, first a trickle then raining down onto his face, his own eyes. The seer skull moaned luridly. Its jaw slackened hanging now open. Sated.
Abzgorn collapsed to the ground, dropping the Elder sign rolling across the floor. Cold silence filled the room. The demon-heads were gone, the arcane energies harnessed.
Dark words Lorgex muttered then, the language of pain and jealousy and rage, the tongue of fear and hate. Of the Woebringer. The clear juices upon him began to hiss, steaming, sizzling as though Lorgex were aflame. The white steam swirled around him, entering him through his mouth, his nose, his ears, his eyes. The crypt shook, a cacophony of vibration, tools dancing across the torture tables. Lorgex shuddered in ecstasy as he SAW…
“I can see her, Abzgorn. Her shade. She walks— No, she rides,” Lorgex whispered. “Yes… Yes… She rides in the company of others. Five.” Lorgex stared deep into the eye sockets. “Yes… Yes, I see you, Spew. What is it you’re doing? Where is it you’re going? No. Coming. You are coming here, yes, but what are your words? What are you saying? What task has the High Wrackolyte set you?”
“There is no one else with her?” Spent, broken, exhausted, Abzgorn lifted his hooded head from the stone floor. Barely.
“No. I see nothing — wait. There is more.” Lorgex’s face peeled back in a rictus of ecstasy. “She rides atop a child — a pilloried child?” Lorgex muttered. “Who is he?”
“She brings him here?” Abzgorn asked in awe. “Now?”
“Who is this child?” Lorgex turned. “I must know! You shall have whatever you want of me! Name it.” He blinked, seeming to lose his balance for an instant, legs wobbling, but regained it by clutching onto the Altar. “Is he a sacrifice?”
“I-I cannot say,” Abzgorn gasped.
“Tell me!” Murder in his eyes, Lorgex stood above him, the seer skull raised for a killing blow.
“The child is the one sent to usher in a new age of darkness.” Abzgorn cringed. “Blood of the Ancients reborn anew, he shall lead Grimnir’s hordes forth from the Craw. He shall destroy and defile all that is Shagra’lor! Spew brings the Chosen One! The Chosen One of Grimnir!”
“What? No. It cannot be.” Lorgex clutched his chest. “It must be me! It should be me! It shall be ME!”