Chapter 24:

The Great Disaster Begins

The Children of Eris

The next morning, a barmaid found five dead bodies inside Roland’s room.Bookmark here

They had been horrifically mutilated and blood was spread across the room. Bookmark here

The only one that was recognisable was Phillip who was nailed to the wall with knives in his hands and feet. Bookmark here

The barmaid’s screams were so loud that she woke the entire inn.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

‘Death Stalks All.’Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

The churchgoers mumbled to one another, some shook with fear and others cried out in horror. Bookmark here

“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!”Bookmark here

The crowd, while awed, became silent.Bookmark here

“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.Bookmark here

“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!” Bookmark here

Despite the power of his conviction and voice, his words didn’t soothe the people’s fears, just as Mania wanted.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

“Did you hear?”Bookmark here

“About the murders? Yeah, everyone has.”Bookmark here

“No, I mean who’s behind them.”Bookmark here

“Wait, they figured it out?”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“No way!”Bookmark here

“Is Stonefall about to be in the midst of a war between criminal gangs?”Bookmark here

“I hope not.”Bookmark here

“Still, I don’t buy it.”Bookmark here

“Why not?”Bookmark here

“You heard what the Archbishop said. Something far more evil is behind this and it’s not going to end with just this.”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

“I heard Paul’s off sick today.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, can you blame him? He was one of the first poor sods on the scene yesterday.”Bookmark here

“Damn. Just hearing about it made me throw up. Can’t imagine how awful it would’ve been to see it in person.”Bookmark here

“Bad enough that a veteran like Paul couldn’t stomach it. Honestly, what the hell’s going on in our city?”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“It would seem that you might not be completely useless to this operation after all,” Mímir said with a rare smile. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“If we keep this up, in a few months, Stonefall will be all but ripe for pandemonium like no other.”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

“Herakles, have you read this report?”Bookmark here

“…Yeah. It’s a load of bull.”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Any ideas who, boss?”Bookmark here

“Not yet, but it seems that whoever killed Ryan and his men wants to hide themselves within this web of lies.”Bookmark here

“Do you need me to handle it?”Bookmark here

“Not if we can help it. You’re Tartarus’s greatest weapon and we can’t risk having you discovered.”Bookmark here

“Having you say that is quite the honour, boss.”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Will do. What if the Night’s Eye does start moving though?”Bookmark here

“Then you or I can deal with them ourselves once and for…Oh? You seem to have an awful smile on your face, Herakles.”Bookmark here

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“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.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.