Part 75: Worry

8 to Wakening Sun, Inalis, 43 days

With Rendu suddenly no longer with us, we grew very worried. Briar’s summoned tiger pounced at Granny Morta, but the hag simply dodged away and set one of the manticores on him. Theo dashed past us, saw the mound of vines, and tackled it, keeping it off the rest of us. Clio…

Now, Clio seemed quite… Well, honestly I don’t know the word. She wasn’t scared. Truth be told, the only time I ever saw her truly scared is when the harpies in Altea were fixated on her and her alone, and I held her while she wept. Clio wasn’t angry, I don’t think. Nor was she panicked. I think right now in this moment, she was resolute, determined. She cast a speed spell on Father and told him to make the Fates learn pain. And Shadow complied, firing volley after volley of arrows into the manticores. I put up a protective barrier around myself and my friends.

We heard a sinister voice that surprised us all, and made Torag particularly angry. The voice of Decima, who lay dead at Torag’s feet, came from a tunnel to the side, mocking our attempt at her death. She cast a spell I recognized, one that bound Torag and Actaeon together spiritually in which they would now share each other’s pain. When a manticore struck Actaeon, Torag fell to his knees in pain from the surprise.

Whatever magic took Rendu from us tried to take me too, but perhaps my barrier made it more difficult? I’m not certain, but whatever it was, the spell did not take effect on me, and the Fates sent their medusa after me. My barrier blocked much of it. I heard a thud behind me as Actaeon, still blinded by Decima (or… the old Decima? The dead one? But she’s alive now. I don’t know, it doesn’t make sense), struck his axe into the ground and knocked over a few manticores and that wretched lamia.

Then the worst thing happened. We already lost Rendu. Now we lost Briar. She saw me get injured by the medusa. Clio was already by my side, but Briar. Well, you know Briar. She is pure and beautiful and kind, and it pains her to see us in pain. She should have kept back, but she wanted to help me and the others. But she looked into the medusa’s eyes and immediately was turned to stone.

Worry set in my mind, and I panicked. Maybe panic was the wrong word. I’ve never been so afraid and so angry at the same time. Clio told me to stay level-headed. Stoning by a medusa is a curse that can be cured. My thoughts were racing, and I only came to my senses when the blind Torag let out of his dragon gauntlet a fiery blast on the monsters.

Things felt very chaotic here. The three Fates stepped back and let their cronies attack us while they tried to cast spells from afar. Every time one of them reached out their wicked fingers towards us to cast, I just felt more and more angry at the loss of Rendu and Briar.

But then! (Sorry, Heath, I’m trying to make this writing as dramatic as possible!) We heard a voice from a nearby hallway. It was Rendu! He was hollering out to us, but then we heard a yelp. I’ll get back to that later, but suffice it to say, we suddenly felt much happier knowing he was still alive. Actaeon and Torag, still blinded, listened to me while I coached them on where to strike while Clio let out a powerful shockwave on the monsters, hitting Granny Morta and causing her to retreat from us. Shadow dashed forward, quick as a flash, and cut down the medusa. Ilharg took out the last of the manticores that had been trying to flank us, and Corinna pinned down the lamia with a well-placed shot. A blast of lightning from Decima shook Clio and Shadow greatly, and in an instant, Shadow disappeared just like Rendu.

The despair we felt was quickly dispelled, though. A raven landed on the stoned Briar and restored her. Poor Briar was so confused! She saw our injuries, especially on Torag and Actaeon, and quickly put herself to trying to heal us. The blindness on Actaeon and Torag finally dissipated, and Torag flew into a rage. He saw Decima down a hallway and charged at her. I put a powerful blast of energy into her and he tackled her, slaying her a second time. But as he did, Briar disappeared next.

Where did they go, you might wonder? Well, apparently the Fates are directly linked to the realm of Hades, a plane of fire and… uh… dead things? Father tried explaining it to me, but I’m afraid it went over my head. Maybe it was the shock of seeing my friends disappear so often, I don’t know. But it left Clio, Actaeon, Theo, Torag, and I all alone. Ilharg was still fighting manticores and Corinna was trying desperately to cut the hags off. And a moment later, Granny Morta cast another spell, sending Torag to Hades next.

In Hades, Rendu quickly found a way out. Maybe that’s a paladin thing? He started flying towards it, avoiding a large grouping of evil skeletons that had tried to tackle him. But in front of the portal leading back was a very large skeleton, somewhere between fifteen and twenty feet tall! Now, Rendu is no slouch! In fact, he’s quite athletic and glorious to see on the battlefield. Heck, I might even call it quite attractive! He slammed into the skeleton, forcing it with him back to the cave of the Fates. When he told me this, I was surprised. Why would he bring another monster into the fight? But that’s just Rendu, I guess! A few slices from his weapons, and the skeleton exploded violently in radiant shimmers.

It’s too bad I missed all of that! Briar and Shadow saw it, though. They followed after Rendu (with Father getting a little burned by fire in Hades) and saw it happen. Quickly, they dashed after him to get back to the rest of the group. By the time we were gathered again, it was all of us versus just the three Fates. And still, they cackled endlessly. Shadow growled as I healed him, saying, “Where are they?!” I haven’t seen him this ferocious in a while! I was a little winded still, having been hit by a few lightning bolts already, so I could just point. Father drew out a pair of daggers and just disappeared around the corner. I only heard a few sickening sounds, and threw up a little in my mouth at the sight of Nona’s head rolling by.

What is fate? Fate is something beyond our control. At least, that is what I’m led to believe. Clio tells me fate can be changed. I’m inclined to agree. These three hags wove their tapestry of our actions, seeing us arrive at their cave. They watched our fate closely, eager to kill us or make their dark bargains. Perhaps they did not watch their own fate, humorous as that may sound. They could not scry into the future and see what lay in store for them. All they saw at the end was Actaeon saying, “What, you didn’t see this coming?” as he buried his axe in them.

In the end, Torag slew Decima twice and Clio once, Shadow killed Nona, and Corinna and Actaeon killed Granny Morta. They had the power to revive themselves, but couldn’t do it once we had taken the three of them down together.

So we waited. And waited. Moments of silence passed, and the Fates did not rise again.