Friday 27 July 2012

Kysharok - Part 9

   Sancturist Arthalun looked down at the frozen figure beside him and the edges of his mouth downturned. He looked back to Varai and bid him to stand up. "Velinil," he began, addressing him by his former regiment title, "I thank you for stopping him. I'm not sure how he got out, but if he had left the Sanctuary grounds, I worry what will have come of anyone unlucky enough to cross his path.
   Varai stood with a frown. "What's wrong with him?" He asked, sheathing his sword on his back once again.
   The white-haired man sighed. "We don't know yet. Something happened here a few days ago - we don't know what - and we found twelve bodies just laying out here. We took them inside to treat them, but..." he shook his head and looked back to the young man who remained completely still in what had been an attempt to reach out at Varai. "The ones who are still asleep are not responsive to our healers' attempts to wake them, and those that have come back around are...not what they used to be," he explained, gesturing to the almost-statue. "It's as if they're possessed, but we can find no traces of demonic magic within them...we can barely find life."
   "What does that mean?"
   "It means they shouldn't be able to move much, if even react to sound or stimuli, but here they are, walking around." He gestured for the man beside him to see to the body. He was holding some kind of small glass vial in his hand, and as he uncorked it, the Sancturist  bade Varai to release the spell. Immediately the body moved as though it had never been stuck, but within only seconds, it fell to the ground and remained still once again. The second man lifted the body over his shoulder with little trouble.
   "There are others like this?" He asked as he followed them towards the building at the older man's request.
   He nodded. "About seven have awoken like this. Two of the others have died, while three remain asleep. We're keeping them contained until we can figure out what is wrong with them and how to reverse it. There has been an incident already, however, when one of the healers was attacked by one of the walkers, much like you just a few moments ago, and given her lack of combat awareness, was quickly destroyed by him."
   "Destroyed?" He asked, his brow knotting deeply as they stepped inside the silent and well-lit, almost crystal interior of the Sanctuary.
   "She was a shrivelled husk within seconds."
   Varai almost faultered in his shock, both at what the Sancturist had said, and the way he had said it.
   "There was nothing we could have done. There were no Venko like yourself here, let alone of your level; it was only myself and the usual healers and sancturists to deal with them."
   "What did it do to her?"
   "Sucked out her soul."
   "What?!" This time he stopped at the top of a set of stairs they were about to ascend. Arthalun had already taken a few steps down, while the man carrying the body was a few steps ahead of him still, and hadn't stopped to wait with them. Instead, he continued on downwards, while Arthalun turned to regard the warrior.
   "We have no idea how he did it, but the moment his hand touched her chest," he said, placing his own over where his heart beat, "she began to scream. Within seconds she was dead."
   Varai shook his head and gradually began to descend the steps, following the Sancturist's lead. "How could they manage that? Are you sure they're not possessed? It sounds like demonic magic to me."
   "Yes, it does to us, too, but we can find no traces of it within them."
   "How did that one get out?"
   He shook his head. "I don't know. Their intelligence seems to have dropped, so I'm not sure if they're clever enough to learn from watching us unlock the door to their containment unit. They're much like walking corpses at the moment, but they retain some kind of basic intelligence."
   They reached the bottom of the steps, then turned to descend another set alongside them. "I'm sure they're possessed," he told Varai quietly, as though anyone who heard him say it might accuse him of being part of it, somehow. "But I can find nothing to prove it apart from their apparent obsession with souls. And that alone isn't enough to go by. If we attempt to perform some kind of exorcism to draw out any potential demon, then if there isn't one there, we risk letting one in. And that would certainly only make this situation worse."
   Varai asked no more questions as they continued down the second staircase, instead choosing to follow the Sanctury leader silently to the containment-viewing room. Once they got there and he was allowed free to stare out of the high glass window and down into the room they were kept in, he was shocked to find that they were all dressed in students' garb. He found himself counting, and indeed there were seven walking around in there. He frowned.


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