Divinity’s Reach had its sprawling plazas and long boulevards, but it could challenge Lion’s Arch for its narrow backstreets and hideaways. Rata Sum was well organised, the Grove organic, and Hoelbrak daunting in it’s massive scale, but nowhere else could create as much confusion as the slums in this great human city. Jerem had not travelled to the Black Citadel but he doubted even its’ gladium quarter would come close. It was here now that he walked, through narrow alleyways and across rickety wooden walkways.
It had cost him hundreds of gold pieces to arrange this meeting. The ministry once pretended they were contrary to corruption, but the veil had fallen and everyday in those splendid halls was open bribery. With the diminishing grandeur of human civilisation, once-wealthy families turned to whatever means necessary to keep themselves in the life to which they were so luxuriously accustomed. Tonight, Jerem would provide this lifestyle, whilst serving his unseen masters.
“Were you followed?” A shadowy figure asked.
“No” Jerem answered, lowering his hood. The stranger did not follow suit.
“You have what I asked for?” The strangers hand stretched out, expectantly.
Jerem put his hand in his robes, and paused.
“What you asked?” He smiled. “Minister, we need not keep up the formalities. I have the item you require.”
Minister Theodus dropped his hood and scowled. “Just give it to me.” He snatched the package from Jerem’s hands. “I was only able to afford part of your ticket. I borrowed the remainder. You can send the money to my office” He smiled, and turned.
Jerem reached out and grasped the ministers’ shoulder.
“It took great personal risk to secure that little bauble for you, Minister. I’m not leaving here without what I came for.” His eyes flashed deep green.
“I-I don’t have it with me!” Theodus
Jerem growled. “Then you’re going to get it for me, aren’t you?” He dug his fingers harder, his sharp fingernails drawing blood beneath the minister’s thin linen shirt.
Theodus sneered, biting his lip through the pain.
“You can’t tell me what to do. I’m a Minister for Dwayna’s Sake!” He grasped Jerem’s arm, but couldn’t remove his vice-like grip.
“I can now” Jerem slipped into Reaper’s Shroud, and felt his fingers become claws. He felt the heartbeat of all the nearby lives, thudding within his mind. The stench of life surrounded him, and he relished the metallic tang of blood dripping down into the dirt.
He focussed on the cold of Death, and felt Theodus’ blood crystallise through his veins. He sensed as the blood froze, down his arm, across his neck, edging down from the shoulder. His heart protested only a moment, before it was still. Theodus collapsed, a puff of frozen air escaping his lungs, and slumped heavily into the dirt and his own blood.
Releasing Reapers’ Shroud, Jerem called upon ancient magics and praised Grenth. Theodus’ fingers twitched, and his eyes rolled back into his head. Moments later, he blinked, and stared up at Jerem.
“Wha?” The Minister rubbed his eyes and took stock around him. “What did you do to me?”
Jerem smiled. “I took your life, then gave it back. It is a simple process, really. An old trick, and often discouraged by the Priests of Grenth, but I’ve found it very useful at times. You see, by giving you the gift of life, I have the right to take it away at a moment’s notice.” Jerem waved his hand, and Theodus’ hand began to rot in front of his eyes. He gasped, and Jerem snapped his fingers, restoring the hand to normal.
“You’re going to get me what I asked for, Minister. Or I don’t take your life once. I will take it a thousand times, and bring you back a thousand more, until you go mad with the pain.” He laughed, a dry, rattling laugh. “
“We are going to be seeing a lot more of each other!”
The call grew stronger, a quiet whisper flowing into the thunderous roar of a thousand waterfalls. It blanketed his mind. He knew it called to him, but he did not wish to answer. He knew The Calling would not stop, but his fear stopped him connecting back to the world.
It continued only a few days before, in exasperation, he pulled his consciousness from the trance, and the world shimmered into existence around him. He did not have eyes, but he saw the room around him. To a human, the room would have been a claustrophobic experience, the crushing darkness having no effect on his magically enhanced senses.
He took stock of his body next, and discovered a problem. He had no arms or torso. He stretched out his mind, traversing the world, and found each piece. One arm, trapped beneath a boulder. Another hand inside the den of forest trolls. His torso was in many pieces, each in the presence of small, rat-like animals – no, they were intelligent, as he heard their native language, a chittering mess of consonants – and kept as prized possessions.
Tyve concentrated, but his head refused to budge. Swivelling his consciousness, he saw his head was trapped in vice, on display in a glass box. Below, he saw a placard, written in New Krytan. He read it.
‘Golden Mask. Unknown origin. Discovered in expedition to the jungles of Maguuma. Recovered from White Mantle Cultists. Donated to the Divinity’s Reach Reliquary by Kyle Baker, Durmand Priory.’
He shook his head and read it again. He was – or at least, his head was – in the Krytan capital. He could not possibly know how many years had passed since he fell into his trance. He felt the call push on the edge of his mind, and a single order echoed in the back of his mind. The Legacy must be protected.
There was nothing Tyve could do. He sat, silent, in the dusty room. Visitors and children walked past, read the placard and left. He shrieked, screamed and yelled at each, but none heard. One child claimed it heard it, only to receive a warning from his mother. Days passed, then weeks, without respite. He used what little magic he had to knock over objects, only causing the Reliquary staff irritation.
Tyve was trapped in that box. He whispered a prayer to the Gods, and even Glint herself, to free him. He was met with only lingering silence.