And so, the smugglers led the company into the prison. A place with bright candles that shed no warmth and walls that forbid any sun and daylight from the prisoners who lived here.
Unnerving mirages and eerie music dulled their senses, clawing into ears, eyes and minds.
Still, countless souls tried to hold on to a semblance of life and thus the first thing the company saw was another marketplace.
Time was not their ally, so they made haste, but with haste came commotion, when the Sage and the Girl of Too Many Words picked fights with the bandits ruling various floors of the massive prison.
Some were bribed, some were decisively pummeled and it was easy to see that the company’s journey upwards would be a long one.
At least, they had a clear direction, since theSpirit followedCobble’s tracks with a keen nose and by reading the prison’s memories.
She also found the home of an Unseen Man, who was part of their reforged deal. He expected a package, and they would deliver it. An underling of this reclusive wizard told the Spirit they’d even meet up with them several stories below their own, to spare them some trouble.
This was good news, however, the Girl of Too Many Words became sadder with every floor the company ventured through:
She couldn’t bear the injustice brought upon the common folk by bandit lords and their brutish enforcers.
The Girl of Too Many Words wanted to give them a taste of their own medicine, balance things out through violence, if necessary.
A sentiment the Spirit understood all too well.
Oh, how she tried to leave the avenger behind, but the memories of violence and cruelties unpunished seeping through the thick stone made it a difficult endeavor for the fallen guardian.
This place yearned for a vengeful spirit like her, someone who settled the scores for those who could not.
The Spirit promised her friend The Dog, however. She promised to find balance.
She heeded the call of the Girl of Too Many Words, but there was no blood spilled.
At night, she visited the Bandit Lord with promises of pain and suffering, should he choose to keep bleeding out his subordinates.
Promises he took very serious, for spirits are known to keep their word.
And so, the next morning started with smiles.
This didn’t last, however.
The stairs lead them to a dark place, halls without light, where outcasts, even among the criminals, were sent on their last journey.
With one of those outcasts, a Crestfallen Man accused of murder, the company braved the gloom resonating with atrocities of the past.
The Spirit objected, but the others did not want to leave a fellow man behind.
It didn’t take long until the sinister whispers of these lightless halls clawed into the company’s mind.
They hissed of treachery and distrust, fleeting phantoms feeding dark thoughts.
To the Spirit, however, they offered temptations of might and former glory, the solace of embracing the sweet poison that made her so much more powerful than in her chosen place caught between the things she was and wanted to be again.
For now, she could resist.
They were whispers, nothing more. Lures laid out by ravenous shadows skulking the corridors.
The company made it through the day, but they needed rest.
Weighed down by sorrow and carefully planted fear, they found some respite under the barrier the Spirit summoned for shelter.
The shadows of past atrocities grew impatient, angry, banged at the protective magic until it collapsed.
But the company was already on its way again.
Whatever hope the Spirit had, it fell apart with the will of her companions. She stretched herself too thin by trying to protect them, and thus she, too started to believe the hall’s lies.
She lead them astray, disappeared and decided it was time to let the halls have their prey.
She was better off alone, anyway, right?
These people were holding her back.
Paranoia among the Girl of Too Many Words, the Troubled Sage and the Disgraced Bandit had been sown and now it was time to reap violence.
The Sage lay in ambush, the Girl tried to escape, ready and eager to shoot her way out of this.
The Bandit, used to a life of combat and hardship, did not take chances when the Crestfallen Man crossed his path in desperate fury.
The flailing murderer was no match for him and with a gnashing crack and the spray of crimson blood, his cursed iron arm ended the Crestfallen Man’s life.
The Halls Without Light got what they craved.
But their hunger was not yet satiated.