The Children of Eris
The next morning, a barmaid found five dead bodies inside Roland’s room.
They had been horrifically mutilated and blood was spread across the room.
The only one that was recognisable was Phillip who was nailed to the wall with knives in his hands and feet.
The barmaid’s screams were so loud that she woke the entire inn.
Ten minutes after she found the bodies, the guards had arrived to investigate the scene and, not an hour after that, rumours had already begun to spread throughout the Merchant District about the murders.
By the end of the day, the entire city had heard of what happened and the ominous words that had been written on the walls in blood.
‘Death Stalks All.’
“People of Stonefall! Hear me, for I bring dark tidings for you this day!” The Archbishop bellowed at the start of his noon sermons. “I am sure that many of you must have heard about the terrible murders that happened yesterday at the Harp String Inn, and the cruel words written in the victims’ blood.”
The churchgoers mumbled to one another, some shook with fear and others cried out in horror.
“People of the Holy Empire, I speak to you today not just as your Archbishop, but as one who was granted in their sleep a terrible vision of the future by the Great Goddess Themis herself!”
The crowd, while awed, became silent.
“During my sleep, I was visited by Themis and she showed me a terrible nightmare; a horrific vision of the future. These two previous mass murders are just the beginning of a great doom that will befall this nation! A darkness is gathering strength in the south, waiting for its moment to strike and bring suffering to our people.
“However!” The Archbishop slammed his palms on the altar before him. “This is a trial presented to the Holy Empire by our founder herself! Fear not, people, for our Goddess wishes for us to suffer so that she may test us. Do not panic or fear when I say that there is much pain to stalk us in the coming days. Instead, remain calm and know that no matter what befalls our Empire or the city of Stonefall, it will all be by Themis’s will!”
Despite the power of his conviction and voice, his words didn’t soothe the people’s fears, just as Mania wanted.
“Did you hear?”
“About the murders? Yeah, everyone has.”
“No, I mean who’s behind them.”
“Wait, they figured it out?”
“From what I’ve heard down at the guild, the Sons of Tartarus were attacked by someone called the Night’s Eye and then, in response, the Sons of Tartarus killed adventurers with a connection to the Night’s Eye.”
“Is Stonefall about to be in the midst of a war between criminal gangs?”
“I hope not.”
“Still, I don’t buy it.”
“You heard what the Archbishop said. Something far more evil is behind this and it’s not going to end with just this.”
“I heard Paul’s off sick today.”
“Yeah, can you blame him? He was one of the first poor sods on the scene yesterday.”
“Damn. Just hearing about it made me throw up. Can’t imagine how awful it would’ve been to see it in person.”
“Bad enough that a veteran like Paul couldn’t stomach it. Honestly, what the hell’s going on in our city?”
On the roof of the Cathedral, under an illusion of invisibility courtesy of Mímir, Mania and Mímir watched the crowds below, listening in to their every word.
“It would seem that you might not be completely useless to this operation after all,” Mímir said with a rare smile.
Mania giggled. “I told you so.” She licked her lips and smirked. “Within a few hours, Stonefall has become stricken by fear and everyone’s trying to figure out what’s going on. Tartarus will panic, the Night’s Eye will panic, the adventurers, guards and army will panic, and we will see just how much chaos their fear will cause.
“If we keep this up, in a few months, Stonefall will be all but ripe for pandemonium like no other.”
“Herakles, have you read this report?”
“…Yeah. It’s a load of bull.”
“I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that. Hah. Like the Night’s Eye could touch us. No, there’s someone else behind this.”
“Any ideas who, boss?”
“Not yet, but it seems that whoever killed Ryan and his men wants to hide themselves within this web of lies.”
“Do you need me to handle it?”
“Not if we can help it. You’re Tartarus’s greatest weapon and we can’t risk having you discovered.”
“Having you say that is quite the honour, boss.”
“For now, I’ll keep having our men investigate this. Until then, tell the captains to increase the number of guards on all our operations for now. If we’re to survive this, the Sons of Tartarus cannot appear to be weak.”
“Will do. What if the Night’s Eye does start moving though?”
“Then you or I can deal with them ourselves once and for…Oh? You seem to have an awful smile on your face, Herakles.”
“What can I say? It’s been a while since someone stood up to us like this. I just can’t wait to meet the leader of this play.”