585 Champion of Qotal Part Two
Ptolema's voice tugged at Tycondrius' conscience. As the spider-breeders' venom clouded the woman's mind, Tycon's voice should have been nothing more than a fever dream.
Her pleading was an act of desperation, grasping at the faintest glimmer of hope, regardless of whether it was real or not... It was the only thing she could do in her pitiful state.
In better times, Duelist Ptolema was the guild leader of Snowy Village. From what Tycon knew, she was its sole founder and her ranks and reputation had grown steadily over several years. Most recently, she wed Karodin of Emberhold, the most loyal Legionnaire that Tycon had ever known. The loving relationship even resulted in her carrying the gentleman's child.
Tycon was planning on inviting both the young guild leader and her husband into guild Letalis Serpentia as officers, such was their strength and competence. Of course, that depended on the wages they would accept...
Then... the Brazen Guard collective accepted a dungeon quest... and they traveled to the Halls of the Dead Serpent. Tancred and guild Stormbrand stole a snake cult artifact and effectively sealed the entrance. Subsequently, the collective was forced to delve deeper into hostile territory, eventually finding an alternate exit.
Many died... not the least of which was Ptolema's husband. Sometime during the skirmishes, Ptolema had also suffered a miscarriage.
Suffering two deaths of her closest kin in that place had likely heavily damaged her psyche... enough to join a gods-damned cult.
The entrapped Champion, Ptolema, wore the unmistakable armor of her new guild... the Sons of Qotal. From the markings on her shoulder, she had excelled in their ranks and was even promoted to Centurion.
More and more, Tycon was growing suspicious of the mysterious guild.
The mercenary company was the size of a small army, their numbers having swollen only in the past several moons, recruiting from the Ezyrian and Kasydonian countryside.
It seemed they were acting under Caeruleum's orders, as his Letalis forces had eliminated a number of scout teams, wearing their markings.
...Those two facts combined meant the city had collected a militant force too large to be legal under Tyrion law. Were they trying to rebel against High Oracle Troia?
Then... there was the fact that far too many Sons of Qotal were sanctioned psykers.
From the faint essence of fire mana that Ptolema emitted... she was one of them.
Reaching up, Tycon tore a glob of webbing out of the woman's eyes...
He held his breath, annoyed but not surprised by what he saw.
"T... tactician?" Ptolema's voice rose in pitch, "The Flamescarred shite in my eyes... there's so much of it. I still... can't see."
"Yes..." Tycon grimaced, shaking his head, "It can't be helped."
Spiders were crawling out of Ptolema's eye sockets, some of them with chunks of white in their mandibles. The young woman would not be seeing anything for the rest of her life.
"I'm... I'm so glad you're here, Tactician..." Ptolema whispered hoarsely, before succumbing to a series of wet, body-wracking coughs... "The city... it's been overrun by monsters."
Tactician nodded solemnly, "Indeed... it has."
The young lady spat and breathed a sigh of relief, "Thank... thank the dragon."
Tycon narrowed his eyes into a furious glare, his heart-rate spiking dramatically, "The... what?"
"The dragon..." Ptolema whispered, "He sent you to save us..."
"I recall no such thing," Tycon crossed his arms.
Ptolema shook her head... "I had faith. I always had faith."
"Your faith is..."
Tycon hesitated. He wanted to tell the woman her faith was misplaced. However, it was an unnecessary cruelty that would only serve to protect his fragile pride.
Ptolema smiled, even as more tiny black arachnids crawled about her scarred face... even as they lapped at the sweat pouring down her reddened forehead. Whatever poison she was afflicted with seemed to dull her senses.
"I am Tyrion... just like you, Sir Tychon. What kind of woman would I be if I didn't have faith?"
Tycon swallowed hard... but voiced the words in his heart, "Dragons... don't exist."
"I am the..." Ptolema's voice trailed off, but the corner of her mouth curved upward... "No... maybe you're right. But look at me, guy. I don't really have much going for me, now do I?"
Tycon glanced at the series of cocoons in the alleyway. Many of them had body parts revealing armor similar to Ptolema's. Matriarch Feverbite and her spider-breeders had done well.
There was little he could do for the girl.
He could end her life as mercy...
...but the longer her blood stayed warm, the healthier Feverbite's children and grandchildren would be.
He spun on his heel and began to leave.
"T... tactician?" Ptolema called out.
Tycon paused... "Yes?"
"You're going to get help? Right?"
Tycon grimaced... "I'm thinking to see if this dragon of yours might answer your prayers."
Ptolema sighed... "A-alright... Hurry back. I don't know when the monsters will be returning."
"I'll see you... Ptolema."
Tycon emerged from the alleyway, placing his helmet back on.
"[Is all well, Brother-Tycon?]" Zenon asked.
Korr tilted her head expectantly.
Tycon nodded slowly, "Let's move on. I feel like killing something."
Zenon clenched his fist, his Tyrion claws sparking with electricity, "[Then the slaughter shall continue.]"
⟬ Two streets later. ⟭
"[What about that tall building over there?]" Zenon offered.
Tycon glared up at the tall Librarian, "That's a hospital, Centurion. No."
"[Oh... how about... that one, then?]"
"The orphanage?" Tycon crossed his arms, "Seven hells, Zenon! No!"
"[Don't you think you're being a little unreasonable, Optio?]" Zenon sighed.
Tycon's voice was caught in his throat.
He looked to Korr for affirmation. She responded with an upraised thumb.
Without a reference, the gesture meant absolutely nothing to him.
At the very least, the woman didn't seem to have any strong opinions on who or what they were killing.
...No. Tycon shook his head. He was the one that was right. Everyone else was wrong.
"I don't care," He snapped. "Choose something different."
"[Th...at one, then,]" Zenon pointed at an ornate building adjacent to a four-way road.
"That is... a Church temple?"
That seemed... slightly more permissible than the other options. There would be plenty of innocents inside, but a Champion or a Cleric or two protecting them would prove to be good exercise.