Interlude I: Always Watching
Madness was not something that usually happened instantaneously. Sometimes it would occur in days or weeks, but it often took months or even years to set in and while it waited, it would watch over the town of Arkham from above as those down below slowly began to succumb to the allure of madness as it did for many years and would continue to do for many more to come.
From its vantage point, it could see far off into the distance. It couldn't see in great detail, but it could see Miskatonic to the west and their vain struggle against the spiders unaware of just what was causing the infestation. And further east, it could see the town of Dunwich whose people kept to themselves, isolated and completely ignorant of the world outside their little town.
It was always watching as it did for many years before and would continue to do so for many more after.
Chapter XI: The Missive
Roland thought he had awoken long before the other members of his squad, but in the darkness, he could see the outline of Kid sitting on the edge of his bed as if awaiting orders.
"Morning, sir," Kid said.
That uneasy feeling crept up on Roland. Does he even sleep? It was obvious Simon didn't, but what was his deal?
"Morning, Kid," Roland said, trying to steel his voice. "We have work to do, the two of us."
It was a lie, but he had no intention of leaving Kid alone with the others. Not until he knew Kid could be trusted.
"Yes, sir," Kid said standing up, picking his helmet and sword off of the floor.
The inn lobby was full with the cluttered outlines of various adventurers that slept wherever they could while through the windows, they could see the faint glow of the torches the townwatch carried in their quest of purging the spiders.
The town was dark even by the standards of Doomwood and the seemingly supernatural veil of black that hung over them like the light from the lighthouse they saw on the way into Miskatonic persisted. It would appear that it was still much too early to conduct any business, but it would give Roland an opportunity to further question Kid.
"What are we going to do, sir?" Kid asked.
"Still much too early to find a means of getting a message to Amityvale, so until then I was hoping to get to know you better. You appear to be a good soldier, but some things aren't adding up."
"Ask anything you'd like, sir. I have nothing to hide."
"Let's start at the beginning. You're from Willowshire, correct?" Roland asked.
"Yes, sir. Born and raised. The land still bares the scars left behind by the earth dragon."
Due to the lack of Rose presence in the Deadlands, he had no way of knowing if this was true or not. While Kid looked much too young to know anything about the dragon, he could just look young. Not to mention, the attack on Willowshire and the events that followed was a major historical event. Anyone with access to a library could learn this information and thus weave their own story based around it.
"Why would you travel such a distance to join the Rose?" Roland began. "Willowshire's Guardians weren't recruiting?"
"The Guardians were unable to protect Willowshire, or the orb they were charged with protecting. The Rose offered a possibility to do what Guardians could not."
A pretty standard story given by a lot of recruits, especially those from places where a Guardian presence still existed and especially those old enough to remember what happened with the orbs and Wargoth.
"One last question, tell me about your first field operation. Pretty standard flush out and apprehend a group of clawkin, correct?"
"Yes, sir. We were some distance from the border of Greensguard and Doomwood. Locals in the area had a problem with clawkin raiding their food stores, so we were tasked to find and apprehend them. It did not go as planned."
"Meaning that there were casualties, correct?" Roland asked.
So far what he was being told was consistent with the roster, but there was still some crucial information missing. Clawkins were only a threat to civilians and only the most bumbling of new adventurers. It made no sense for a group the size of the one he was leading to be reduced to one person, a new recruit at that.
"Correct, sir. As you know, I was the only survivor of that operation."
"Can you explain the events of that operation?" Roland asked. "Out of that team, you were the only new member while the others were veteran members. It seems quite odd to me that a group of beasts that are barely a threat to even novice adventurers could wipe out nearly the entire squad."
"Everyone has a bad day, sir. If one person isn't in top form, it can effect the morale and performance of the others."
Kid wasn't wrong about everyone having a bad day. The mask covering half of Roland's face was testament to that. It didn't do anything to lessen the unease Roland felt though and would require a more thorough investigation.
"Thank you, that will be all."
Roland's inquiry was useless without whatever information the Rose had gathered in their investigation, but until he could make contact with Swordhaven, he had to focus on his objective in Miskatonic.
Roland began at the tavern which even in the early morning was bustling with activity, although most of that activity was from the adventurers. Approaching the counter, he was given a halfhearted greeting by the same man Hands had spoken to who had just admonished someone for crushing a spider with a glass.
"Excuse me, sir," Roland began.
"How many more of you are there?" the tavernmaster asked, voice filled with frustration. "Say your piece and be quick, too early in the morning for this Rose ineptitude."
"I need to send a missive. Is there a courier in town?" Roland asked, trying to keep his own frustration down.
What made him want to spend any more time in this town than the mission outline stated? From inquiring about Arkham, he was on day two of trying to aid the people of Miskatonic with a spider infestation. The information Hands had gotten was more than enough for them to continue, but he was determined to do something to aid the people of Miskatonic.
"No. If you're really desperate, try one of these adventurers sitting around doing nothing. One of them might want to do something to pay their tab."
When Roland walked away, the tavernmaster caught a glance of Kid and quickly turned away, a chill running down his spine. It had to have been his imagination. He had heard the stories and seen some old pictures, but there was no way what he saw was actually real. The old families as great and powerful as they were were long gone, but something about that Rose member made the tavernmaster's blood run cold.
Gathered around a table were a group of adventurers who looked at Roland and Kid's approach with disinterest.
They had generally shoddy equipment and sending any of them would be tantamount to sending them marching to their deaths in the event that they were attacked.
"What do you want?" one adventurer in a barely holding together robe over equally ratty clothing sniped.
"I need a message sent to the Amityvale Rose garrison. Whoever accepts will be paid for accepting the job and delivering the message," Roland said not at all keen on the depths he viewed himself as sinking to.
One adventurer, a rogue-looking type put a hand to their chin in thought. Accepting the job would put some money in their pocket and wasn't like they had to risk life and limb to go to Amityvale. They moved their hand and were about to speak when a scythe wielding adventurer in leather and steel riveted armour spoke up.
"I'll deliver your message," they said. "You won't expect me to have to return here for the other half of the payment, do you?"
"No. The message contains instructions for the magus stationed about compensating you. I cannot guarantee he will, but I trust that they will. With that and the inherent risk of the task, do you still accept?"
"Anything to put some money in my pocket and get out. There's nothing out here, but an impossible task and death."
Roland handed over a sealed envelope containing a missive he had written the night before and a handful of coins to the adventurer who immediately set off.
Today would be the day they departed for Arkham, but he would need to decide who to leave to rendezvous with the Amityvale should any arrive. They'd be given two days to wait and assist the people of Miskatonic and if no one from Amityvale arrived, they would then depart for Arkham.
Deciding on who would be the difficult part. With no reason to trust Kid, that left him with four options.
Chapter XII: To Arkham
The night had been awkward for all of them. Despite their short time together, each of them seemed to have found someone among their squad mates that they were comfortable with enough to confide in or reveal a major part of who they were.
Cry was unsure how to handle the information Hands had told him. He of course kept it to himself as he said he would, not like there really was anyone else to tell anyways, but the revelation that he was working alongside a former assassin weighed heavily on his mind.
Hands had the opposite feeling. She felt relieved to have shared that piece of information about herself. That feeling of relief was lessened by the lingering guilt that came with being in the Rose and having just dumped a massive burden on Cry's shoulders.
Sight and Simon had similar conflicts from their exchange during the night. Neither were sure how to handle what had been said and attempted to sleep without another word.
Both were wracked with confusion, but Sight was relieved to an extent that Simon's reaction was only silence rather than something worse.
The four met with Roland and Kid outside the inn, the visible half of Roland's face showed something weighed heavily on his mind.
"I contracted an adventurer to deliver the missive. I will need at least two of you to stay here for no longer than two days to meet anyone from the Amityvale garrison, should they arrive. During that time, the two of you are to aid the people of Miskatonic in any capacity. Should anyone from Amityvale arrive, you are to brief them on the current situation and then make your way down the road to Arkham."
"And if no one arrives, sir?" Cry asked.
"Then you make your way to Arkham."
Cry wasn't fond of the order. It was enough that they were already distrusted on account of being part of the Rose, but to abandon a town in need made him feel even worse about what he was doing.
Roland took a moment to consider who'd be best to have stay in Miskatonic. Kid was out of the question until he could get more information on that field operation. There was also the question of how he secured lodging for them. Kid saying that he had just asked politely was incredibly farfetched to Roland.
He considered Hands as while Cry served the same role, Hands had so far always been able to deliver more information, although whether or not that had to do with their abilities or other factors was unknown to him, but with what he knew, it would be best to have Hands for conducting any interviews in Arkham.
Sight and Simon were on par with each other for information gathering, so it made no difference to Roland which one he chose to stay in Miskatonic.
"Cry, Simon, you two will remain in Miskatonic. Remember, no longer than two days and then make your way to Arkham where the rest of us will be. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," the two said in unison.
As the two watched the others depart, Cry thought about what it meant that their order to him meant they'd be abandoning Miskatonic to what peril fate had in store for them.
When Simon was that certain the others were out of earshot before springing a question on Cry that came as an enormous shock to him.
"What do you know about love?"
The road to Arkham grew darker as they got farther and farther from Miskatonic despite the lack of an overhanging canopy. It was just like the road to Miskatonic, but there was a sinister feeling to it like something was lurking just out of view in the eerie early morning darkness.
Despite or in spite of the darkness, anyone who was keeping their eyes peeled would eventually see the outline of a tower staring off into the distance or maybe staring at them, watching their approach.
"That's...that's an odd thing to ask," Cry said, flabbergasted.
"My apologies. Forget I said anything," Simon said, looking away from Cry to hide her embarrassment.
"I can't say I know much if anything at all, but if I had to guess, I'd say that it's better than happiness, but also worse than sadness."
Cry thought back many years ago as he recalled a life that seemed so alien to him in the present. He tried to picture the face of the one who whenever he saw it, set his heart aflame and chilled it to the core whenever he didn't see them. He couldn't recall a face or even a name, but he recalled how just seeing them made him feel.
"I see...." Simon said, trailing off as she thought about Cry's words.
She wasn't opposed to what Sight had said, she actually found it welcoming. It was the first time anyone had said something like that to her and it made her feel happy for what seemed like the first time in her life.
"Thank you," she said to Cry's surprise.
As the roaded winded and turned, the position of the tower never seemed to change as though something was trying to keep it in view at all times.
It was enough to send a collective chill up the spines of most of them.
This doesn't feel right, Hands thought. We shouldn't be going to this place.
It was only by turning her attention to the ground below that she could no longer see the tower, but it only made the feeling as though she were being watched intensify until she could no longer bear it and had to look up and see the foreboding tower.
As the tower drew closer and closer, they couldn't help but feel as though something was calling them to it.
Chapter: XIII: The Town Behind the Wall
As with the tower, the walls surrounding the town of Arkham came into view.
The town being surrounded by walls meant that fortifying it would be even easier once the Rose could move into Arkham.
Along the walls were a few people carrying crudely forged weapons who eyed the Rose with suspicion as they approached the gate.
"We seek entry," Roland called to the guards standing above the gate.
"State your business," one called out.
"We come to investigate the asylum," Roland said.
The guards talked among themselves for a couple minutes before opening the gate.
"Your funeral," one guard called out.
Roland looked up at the guard with suspicion. Roland didn't detect any threat or suspicion in their voice, but it was still a very peculiar thing to say.
"Be on your guard," Roland said to his squad in a hushed tone.
Sitting atop the hill, they could see the asylum also surrounded by stone walls much like the town looking over the town. The rest of the town was similar to Miskatonic or any other town with a number of buildings, mostly house scattered about, separated by roads and alleys.
The most prominent was a two story building with a large sign with the word Callahan's painted on it. It seemed like the best place to begin their investigation.
Roland pushed open the door and a wave of music greeted them. To Hands, the tavern was no different than the one in Miskatonic including a troupe of dancers which she tried to keep from being enamoured by.
Roland caught sight of an older one-eyed man behind the bar whose face looked like he had seen his share of battles.
"Find somewhere to sit, I'll conduct the interview," Roland said as he approached the bar.
"Greetings, and well met," the one-eyed man who was presumably Callahan said.
"And to you as well," Roland said.
"What can I do you for?"
"I'm looking for some information. I'm Captain Roland of the Rose, Swordhaven garrison and I've been tasked with investigating the town of Arkham, more specifically, the asylum. We believe that it may be useful to our cause."
The man leaned against the counter, his gaze hardening. "I don't know anything about this Rose you work for, nor do I care. I can tell you to abandon your mission and forget about this place, but I know you won't and it's up to the mayor to decide who can and cannot stay. But what I can say is forget all about the asylum. Nothing good has come from there and it continues to haunt this town."
Hands watched the dancers with an almost childlike wonder while Sight stared down at the table, her mind still on the night before.
Meanwhile, Kid slowly looked around at the patrons of the tavern, a stoic expression on his face.
By the way the one-eyed man leaned towards Captain Roland, Kid could and would correctly guess that he was warning Roland to abandon their mission. A wise choice that Roland wasn't likely to take.
"I'm afraid I can't do that. Whatever it is that plagues the asylum and this town, we will do everything in our power to get rid of it," Roland said.
The man chuckled. "You would not be the first to say that and you will likely not be the last and all who did were unable to keep their word. Whatever haunts that place is not something that one can expunge just by hitting it enough times. It's..." the main trailed off as he felt a chill creep up his spine. "It is best left well alone until all that remains of this town is dust."
"If you say so. But if you'd excuse me, I should return to my squad."
"One more thing," the one-eyed man began. "It's best if you keep this matter quiet. Folks around these parts don't take kindly to people be they local or otherwise poking around about the asylum."
"Understood," Roland lied.
At the table where his squad had gathered, calling them to attention when noticing all but Kid were lost in their own thoughts. Had Kid been lost in thought like the other two, it would have made him appear almost normal.
"We are going to meet the mayor and find out all we can about the asylum and once Cry and Simon return, we begin our expedition of the asylum. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," the three said in unison.
Outside the tavern, Roland and his squad looked over the town. The architecture was similar to that of Miskatonic with many of the houses featuring gambrel roofs that swayed and sagged over attics while those made for commerce or reasons beyond habitation differed slightly mainly they being larger than residential buildings.
The biggest exception being Arkham Asylum that loomed over the rest of the town, its dark tower casting a shadow even in the darkness that cast a veil over Doomwood since they began their journey to Miskatonic.
Passing through the streets, some of the towns residents seemed to be going out of their way to avoid them, giving them wide berths or crossing the street to avoid them only looking at them to gawk.
It was hard to tell why the townspeople were avoiding them out of either mistrust or even fear.
One thing was certain though, many of the townspeople who went out of their way to avoid the Rose were mumbling mostly without any coherence, but Roland was certain he had heard one legible word.
Chapter XIV:Meetings & Appreciation
Cry and Simon approached the town watch members who stood near town hall. They had at least two days before they could set off to Arkham and figured that it would be best to continue to investigate Miskatonic.
"You're still here?" a man holding a torch asked, his tone indicating he was none too pleased with their presence.
"Yes, sir," Cry said, trying to steel his nerves. "We'll be here for the next two days at the most waiting for a response from the Amityvale garrison. Until then, we're continuing our investigation and lending any that support we can."
Another man, this one leaning on a pike scoffed. "Is that so? Haven't you been told already, this has been going on for longer than most of us here have been alive. What makes you think that you can hope to change what others haven't been able to do over decades?"
"We can at least try. The Rose has resources that may alleviate the problem or maybe even put an end to it."
"Pfft, you really are something, you know that?" the man with the torch said.
"Reminds me of myself when I was younger," the man leaning against a pike said. "Holding on to ideals that maybe I, or any of those adventurers that are now just freeloading, could do something about."
The man leaning against the pike stood up straight and stretched.
"Hold on to those ideals as long as you can, kid. Eventually it won't be long before they're shattered and you're just as pessimistic as the rest of us."
"Right..." Cry said.
"Where do the spiders come from?" Simon asked.
"There's a series of caves in the hills beyond here. We try to be the first line against them, but it doesn't always work. Some burrow out of the ground in the middle of town, once heard of one burrowing through the floor of someone's house." the man with the torch said.
"Have there been any expeditions into the caves?" Cry asked, feeling more relaxed.
"Over the years, but never too deep. Those who tried to go in deeper never returned. Tried to brick the entrance up, but again they burrow out into the town and some of the bigger spiders eventually knock the wall down. We don't even know if there's only one entrance." the man who had been leaning against a pike said.
"I see. Thank you for your time," Cry said.
"One more thing," the man who has been leaning against a pike said. "It may not seem like it, but we are grateful for the assistance you and yours have pledged. Even if it doesn't amount to much, it's nice to know that we're not forgotten in this dark corner of the world."
Roland and company came up to a two story building that bore a resemblance to Miskatonic's town hall although was much more lit up. The resemblance persisted upon entering in the way that the lobby was set up although instead of two sets of stairs leading up, only one led up while the other led down to what they would assume to be a basement.
Behind a desk sat a woman around Roland's age who gazed at them behind a small pair of glasses, squinting at them as they approached.
"How may I help the...fi...four of you?" she asked.
"I am Captain Roland of The Rose, Swordhaven garrison, my team and I are here to investigate the asylum and we come to seek an audience with the mayor of this town."
The woman's eyes widened beyond the lenses of her glasses as a look of horror took over her face.
"With all due respect, I would advise you to not do that. What I would instead do is turn around and return to Swordhaven," the woman said in a panicked tone.
"I appreciate the concern, ma'am, but I am afraid we cannot do that."
The woman closed her eyes and took, a deep breath and then exhaled. "Very well, if nothing I say will change your views, then that just leaves the mayor."
The woman stood up and gestured for them to follow her down the stairs.
"I will need to ask your party to wait outside the mayor's office if her chooses to speak with you. I'm afraid it's not made to accomodate so many people," the woman said as she led them to the lower floor.
The town hall's lower floor was less illuminated than the main floor, but was not comparable to the lower floor of Miskatonic University which was a welcome sight. Roland thought that perhap once Simon and Cry made their way to Arkham, perhaps she and Sight could be able to look through anything that could be useful to their investigation should the mayor permit it.
The lower floor was a wide room sectioned off into multiple smaller rooms with boxes stacked outside a couple of rooms making it appear more like a repurposed storage room rather than where the managing of a town took place.
The woman stopped them outside a door with the word mayor crudely scrawled on it.
"Please wait for a moment," the woman said before entering the room and closing the door behind her.
Cry thought about what the man had told him about how the townspeople appreciated the help that the Rose had pledged to them even if only because it meant they weren't forgotten and it made him feel happy.
A show of gratitude made Cry feel as if in some small way they were making a difference.
"Do you believe we can achieve what we pledged to do here?" Simon asked.
"I don't know. Hands asked me a similar question and I'll tell you what I told her. We should at least try. Sometimes it's the only thing that we can do."
"You have a very optimistic outlook. It's...charming in a way."
Cry thought back to his hometown and the people there and one person in particular. He still couldn't remember a name or face, just the feeling he got when seeing them and when he didn't. They had said something similar to him and how it made him feel.
The door opened and the woman stepped out, squinting from behind her glasses as she looked them over as if she forgot who she was meaning to address.
"The mayor will see you, but due to current conditions, only one of you may enter."
"I see," Roland said. "Thank you."
As Roland stepped into the mayor's office, closing the door behind him the woman stopped and looked at Kid, squinting and adjusting her glasses.
"You look familiar. Are you from here?" she asked.
"I am not, ma'am," Kid said his voice holding no indication he was lying.
"I apologize, afraid my vision isn't what it used to be."
"No need to apologize, ma'am."
The mayor's office was lit mainly by candlelight with a of couple lamps showing that it looked more like a storage room like where Sight and Simon conducted their investigation in Amityvale than where someone would run a town. The only furnishings in the room besides the lamps were a desk and a pair of chairs one of which a skittish looking man in disheveled clothing sat in behind the desk.
"I apologize for the mess, we're in the process of moving offices from the top floor. Please, have a seat," the man said gesturing the chair opposite of where he sat.
"Thank you, Mr. Mayor," Roland said as he sat down.
"Anywho, let's get right to it," the man began, mild panic entering his voice. "I cannot allow you and your team to enter Arkham Asylum. We've already lost so many to that accursed place, it wouldn't bode well if we let someone of your...prestige enter and be claimed by it."
Roland was perplexed by the man's words. While he was given the rank of Captain, he did not see himself as anything more than just someone from an obscure town in the far reaches of Dragesvard. It actually took a considerable amount of willpower to not begin laughing.
"I can assure you, sir, not only am I, but my team as well are prepared to face whatever may lurk the halls of the asylum. As are other members of The Rose who may be garrisoned in Arkham should our evaluation of the building yield positive results."
"It's not what's in the asylum, it's the asylum itself," the man began, his voice becoming more and more shrill. "It is cursed down to its very foundation, tainting the land and all who inhabit it. It's not something you can just swing a sword at and it'll go away, it is beyond you, or me, or anyone for that matter."
"We have many magi within The Rose who are more than capable of determining what plagues the halls of the asylum. You have my word."
"I stand by what I said and it's final. I cannot permit you to enter the asylum. I must ask that you leave as soon as possible and forget all about this grand quest of yours and this town."
"Understood," Roland said, standing up.
Roland's squad looked towards the door as he stepped out. Looking over them, he found Kid's stoic expression unnerving while the others showed some degree of nervousness or anxiousness.
"The mayor will not permit us to enter Arkham Asylum. Tomorrow we return to Miskatonic and once we know whether or not anyone from Amityvale will be going there, we return to Amityvale and then Swordhaven. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," the three said in unison as they all turned to return to the main floor and leave the town hall.
This won't do at all.
Chapter XV: Persuasion
Roland and his squad entered Callahan's, Roland approaching the counter where the man who was presumably Callahan was wiping down as he prepared to end the night, the liveliness from their earlier time there having dwindled and eventually died down.
"Welcome back, what can I do you for? I must mention though, I don't intend on staying up all night with you or your crew."
"We require lodging for the night. Am I right to believe this tavern is also an inn as well?" Roland asked.
"You'd be correct. Although for four rooms, that'll be quite costly. I trust that won't be an issue?"
"Two rooms that can accommodate two people each will suffice and payment won't be an issue."
"Alright then," the man who was presumably Callahan said retrieving a pair of keys from below the counter.
When money and keys exchanged hands, the man who was presumably Callahan leaned forward towards Roland looking just beyond him towards his squad.
"Perhaps it's because I don't see things how I used to, but you should keep a close watch on the young looking one. There's something sinister about that one," he said in a hushed tone.
Roland was unsure what to make of the man's words, but he could find himself agreeing with the man who was presumably Callahan. Sinister may be an exaggeration, but he was certainly uneasy about Kid.
"Explain further, if you don't mind."
"Now don't take my words as gospel or even to heart, but he's got a...look to him that spells trouble. If I were you, I would not associate with him any more than you already have."
Roland put a hand to his face, a finger tapping on his mask. While cryptic, this man seemed to understand Kid more than he did and with what he knew about Kid, he certainly did not have any reason to doubt his words.
"You've given me something to think about when we leave Arkham tomorrow. It's troubling to say the least, but from what I know, there is weight to it. Now then, I won't take up any more of your time, thank you for allowing us to stay."
"Appreciate the patronage."
The rooms were set up in much the same way as the ones in Miskatonic, two beds, a table between them, a couple chairs, but more noticeably, a separate room for bathing which the rooms of Miskatonic lacked perhaps only having one per floor of the inn which was used by the guests.
Hands and Sight shared a room while like in Miskatonic, Roland and Kid shared one.
"Do you like dancing?" Sight asked from the bed she sat on.
"Was I too obvious?"
Hands tried to play it off as cool as she could to hide her embarrassment, but the heat creeping up her cheeks betrayed her.
"I guess that you're not called Sight for nothing, huh?"
"Well, no..." she trailed off, a tinge of hurt in her voice.
Roland's speculation about Sight having met Loremaster Maya and even to an extent idolizing her was correct. Folks from around Oaklore sought refuge in the keep during times of crisis and it was during those times that Sight would get to see Maya which made her fears and worries melt away.
Thinking about those times brought a smile to her face, but it soon faded. She wanted to be like Maya, but instead found herself as an operative of the Rose, and by her own admission a less than adequate one, wasn't skilled to use magic to become a magi and thus the closest to being like Loremaster Maya as she could.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you," Hands said remorsefully.
"It's okay. It's not your fault that a cruel name has haunted me for so long. But please, I want to know more about you. Is it the dancing you like or is it-" she cut herself off realizing what she was about to say.
"The dancers?" Hands finished to Sight's embarrassment. "More from column A, little from column B. For a while now, I've wanted to be a dancer. It seems almost like a childhood fantasy at this point, but unfortunately, things don't always go as planned. Sometimes the way to at least getting a bed to sleep in and three meals a day means having to abandon those dreams and doing things that you swore to never do again."
"What do you mean?"
"It's...I'd rather not say. I confided in Cry about that and I'd rather not put more of that burden on another. I'm honestly surprised that I even told him, but sometimes you just can't help who or what you tell if it's a heavy enough burden."
"I see," Sight said thinking about the things she considered burdens she carried with her.
Her thoughts went to Simon and their exchange in Miskatonic. She knew that there were other things that weighed on her heart, but the words to Simon weighed the most, but to her it wasn't enough to make her want to share those thoughts with Hands. Maybe it wasn't such a burden after all?
Roland sat on the edge of his bed facing away from Kid pondering not only what he thought of the recruit, but also what the tavernmaster had said. The mayor's words should've been at the forefront of his mind, but the mystery surrounding Kid was too much.
Something needed to be done, but what? Kid wouldn't give him an honest answer and he wasn't equipped to interrogate him.
He thought of Hands in the next room. She was capable of gathering information and her dossier made it clear what her methods are, but would they work on Kid? Only thing that seemed to be on his mind at any given time was the mission or any orders given to him.
He shook his head. It wouldn't be right to involve any of the others in this matter especially when taking the tavernmaster's words into consideration. If Kid truly was a threat, it would be best to not put anyone else at risk.
It seemed like quite some time before he was certain Roland had fallen asleep. He knew the captain did not trust him, he really made no attempts to hide it. The distrust was unwarranted as far as he was concerned, he did everything as told and it was unfortunate that field operation ended as it did otherwise things may not have had to go this route.
With the lights out, Arkham was quite dark even for the corner of Doomwood where even the moon's light seemed to barely shine and what he was to do next would be a gamble, but he had a feeling that it would pay off.
Moving through the town, he could hear murmurs coming from some of the houses, the ramblings of those as they slowly descended the ladder into madness unbeknownst to themselves.
It was when he caught sight of the tower in full view watching over him like a silent protector while passing judgment over the town of Arkham.
The town hall looked as it did before lit up for all to see, but strangely and fortunately enough the door was unlocked. He was either blessed or the old secretary couldn't see to put the key in the lock.
Inside the secretary was absent, but a man he assumed to be who Roland had spoken to was present.
"Oh, I'm sorry, but we're not seeing anyone presently. May I ask you to..." the man trailed off as he took in Kid's appearance.
"I think you'll make an exception."
"No...it...it can't be. You look just like..."
The mayor began to back away, stumbling as he did so until his back hit a wall and he began to shuffle towards the stairs, Kid approaching him with the look of a predator that has cornered its prey.
"Jonathon is the name you're looking for. My grandfather. Jonathon Arkham."
"W..why are you here? There shouldn't be anyone left."
The mayor stopped moving as soon as Kid stood directly in front of him, his panicked face visible to himself in the green pools of Kid's eyes.
"I understand that you denied Captain Roland and by extension myself entry into Arkham Asylum and that just cannot be."
"You can enter! I can't stop you from entering."
"You certainly can't, but the Captain won't take my word, so you're going to do me and by extension my family, a favour. In the morning, I want you to present to the Captain written permission permitting him and his team to enter the asylum. You will find him at Callahan's and not only will you deliver the message, you will apologize and tell him all about how you wracked your mind with guilt over obstructing his mission."
Kid smiled in such a way, the mayor couldn't help, but wonder if the monster that stood before was going to consume him if not his soul right there on the spot.
True to his word, when Roland and his team exited Callahan's in preparation to return to Miskatonic, they were greeted by the mayor holding a letter which he seemed to force onto Roland rather than hand to him.
"What is this?" Roland asked, confused and still tired from having slept very little during the night.
"A formal letter granting you and your team permission to enter Arkham Asylum. I deeply apologize for the inconvenience that I caused you by making you almost abandon your mission. I was too concerned by my own fears to consider just how much good could be done for this town..."
Roland had tuned the mayor out, lost in his own thoughts as he skimmed the letter. During his uneasy sleep he had noticed Kid sneaking out and then this happened? There was more to Kid than he had thought and this town and the asylum were part of it.
The mayor would have answers, but now was not a good time to be asking questions.
"My team and I greatly appreciate your reconsideration, sir. And I give you my word, we will put an end to whatever plagues this town and its asylum."
Providing someone doesn't interfere.
Chapter XVI: Departure
The innkeeper glared daggers at the two as they descended the stairs into the lobby as she had done when first entering the inn the other day. Cry understood the disdain for them, but was confused as to why she let them stay. What did Kid say or do for her to have a change of heart?
"Excuse me, ma'am," Cry said as he approached the counter the woman stood behind.
"What do you want?" she barked causing Cry to step back.
"I...I was curious as to what my squadmate said or did to make you reconsider allowing us to stay."
The woman's expression grew more fierce before turning into one of pity and then confusion.
"You don't know, do you?"
"I'm afraid not."
The woman's expression softened into one that seemed to almost convey sympathy.
"There are things in Doomwood far more terrifying than any ghost or vampire that prowls the woods. Things that will outlive both you and I. That man is among those things and it's best for us to not anger them."
Cry thought about the innkeeper's words for a moment. What she said didn't particularly answer the question nor was it too helpful, but it did shed some light on part of the situation and to say it was troubling was putting it mildly at best.
"I see," Cry began, "Thank you, ma'am. And for what it's worth, I apologize that happened to you."
"You suspect Kid of...wrongdoing?" Simon asked.
"I don't know for sure. It was peculiar that in such a short time he was able to turn around an unfortunate event and according to the innkeeper, there is something about him that we should be careful or even scared of."
"Do you think the Captain suspects anything?"
"Maybe. He does want to keep Kid close, but that could just be because Kid is...actually fit for this mission."
"You don't think anyone else is fit for this mission?" Simon said, her tone neutral.
"We don't exactly look the part of any other unit. And, I'm definitely not fit for many operations the Rose does."
"It's not about looking the part, but being able to perform your role. You're often tasked with talking to people and you can do that, right?"
Cry began to think about Simon's words and his actions and reactions since arriving in Amityvale and how he even got the name Cry until something in the distance towards the road leading from Amityvale caught his vision.
They were scantly visible in the early morning darkness becoming more clear as they approached and their Rose-issued attire became apparent. For Cry, it was a welcome interruption.
Three Rose operatives, two people in ManaHunter attire and another in Magus-style robes that obscured their features, an apprentice at best most likely.
"Are you two the members of Captain Roland's team we were informed we'd be meeting?" the likely apprentice Magus asked, their tone rough, suggesting they didn't want to be there.
"Yes, ma'am," Cry said, relieved to avoid any introspection.
"Well, tell us what you know, so we can all get to work," she said.
Simon and Cry informed the likely apprentice Magus of what they knew concerning Miskatonic and its spider infestation as well as their lack of success with their own investigations due to the townspeople distaste for the Rose and the peculiar incense that seemed to substitute as a light source in the university library.
"It will be tough to earn the people's trust, but it should not be an impossible task. A bigger mystery is why an infestation that has been going on for so long seems to only be contained within the town. We too encountered one of the peculiar spiders on our way here, but two spiders in as many days outside the town is quite strange. Thank you, you're free to go."
The road never seemed to grow less dark as time passed and the two distanced themselves from Miskatonic. In fact, it seemed to grow darker. The phenomenon wasn't new to them, but it didn't cease to be a mystery to them. What was it about the far reaches of Doomwood that seemed to grow darker the further in they go despite the absence of anything that may obstruct the moon's light?
Neither pondered too much on the topic or exchanged many words as the constant feeling of unease that began when Miskatonic faded from view and persisted the further away they went as well as the need to be constantly aware of their surroundings as the slightest noise could be a sign of hostility.
The feeling of unease grew as they continued down the road and the outline of a tower begin to manifest in the distance and with it a feeling of dread as though what they are doing is wrong.
Chapter XVII: These Grounds Aren't Hallowed
Much like the town, Arkham Asylum was also walled off, the space between the bars of its gates offering a glimpse into the vast courtyard peppered with as far as they could tell, white flowers which crept their way up a broken road leading from the gate up a slight incline to the asylum itself, its dark tower staring down at them.
Hands stood with her back towards the tower while in contrast, Kid stared directly at it.
Something's off about him, she thought.
"We'll begin by surveying the asylum grounds and surrounding walls," Roland began. "At no point will we enter the asylum until Cry and Simon arrive in Arkham. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," Roland's team said in unison.
"Hands, Sight, you two search the surrounding walls. Look for any obvious structural integrities or anything you believe to be out of the ordinary. Kid and I will search around the asylum itself."
"Yes, sir," Hands and Sight said in unison.
In the courtyard, both pairs could see the flowers more closely. The leaves were a sickly brown colour while the bulb was snow white. Sight gazed upon them as though they were familiar to her in some way.
"What is it, Sight?" Hands asked, her own gaze fixed on the flowers as a chill crept up her spine from the feeling of something watching her.
"These flowers...I've seen them before. There were pictures in a book I read about a faraway land consumed by beasts and these flowers grew wherever blood was spilled."
Hands looked uneasy, disturbed even. Just what kind of books did Sight read?
"Do you always read those types of books?"
"Not particularly, but sometimes it's nice to read about places that may or may not have existed and imagine what it'd be like to have a life there. Not in that particular instance though."
Hands looked around, doing her best to not look directly at the tower until she could see Roland and Kid before stepping closer to Sight.
"Say, what do you think of Kid? Does he come off as strange to you?" Hands whispered.
"He certainly seems like he doesn't belong here with the rest of us."
There were no windows around the large iron doors leading into the asylum or anywhere else around the entrance to offer a glimpse to the interior of the potential future prison of the Rose.
Much like the tower that overlooked the asylum courtyard and the town below it made for a very imposing and oppressive structure that almost made Espina Rosa seem welcoming. If Roland were to describe the asylum just based on what he could see, he would describe it as colder than anything he had seen in his homeland of Dragesvard.
Roland looked over to Kid as he scoured the exterior of the asylum, the continued feeling of unease and distrust welling inside him. Kid's actions went against the backstory presented in his roster. It made no sense to him that someone from Willowshire could somehow influence anyone from what was essentially the other side of the continent, but what did he do and how?
Who or what are you? Roland thought.
The two pairs regrouped around the asylum entrance before splitting off again to investigate the sides of the asylum exterior. The entrance revealed itself to be a separate structure attached to walls that connected to other buildings, four in total with the same white flowers growing at the base of the walls. the other buildings featured windows on the second and above floors while the main floor as far as they could guess was just bare stone with some signs of wear, but nothing significant.
Hands thought about what Sight had said about the flowers and shivered. If they were the ones from the story she read, just how much blood was spilled on these grounds and why?
"You're afraid of this place, aren't you?" Sight asked.
"What? Where did you get that idea?"
"Since we left Miskatonic and the tower came into view, you've gone out of your way to avoid looking at it."
"You don't find it unnerving like the tower itself is watching you?" Hands asked, perplexed by Sight's words.
"I do, but I find it easier to handle seeing it, if I have something else for my mind to fall back on should the tower and asylum become too overwhelming. And it does."
"Something for my mind to fall back on..." Hands said to herself aloud, trailing off as she did so.
Sight made it sound easy, but for Hands what came to mind were the thoughts of dreams that would never come to pass, memories of a life she had hoped to have left behind and the guilt that came with letting someone in on what she once was.
On the other side of the asylum, Roland and Kid had the same findings, blank walls, out of reach windows and white flowers. The exterior at least lended to the idea that the asylum would be able to serve the purpose they needed fulfilled, but until Cry and Simon arrived in Arkham, they would not investigate the interior.
Roland would once again look in Kid's direction unsure of what was to be done about him. It would make sense to question the mayor, but he would need to do something to keep Kid occupied and away from the rest of his team.
And idea came to mind, but it would be a gamble and he was unsure of the odds.
Chapter XVIII: Who Are You?
Simon and Cry entered the town of Arkham, a feeling of unease coming over them as the asylum's dark tower came into view.
What was it about the asylum or the tower that made them feel as they did?
The two stopped in their tracks and looked back towards the town's gates, the guards staring back at them which did very little to lessen the feeling of unease.
"Should we mention what the innkeeper said to the Captain?" Cry asked.
"Not while Kid is around," Simon began. "We'll need an opportunity to speak with the Captain alone."
Simon and Cry regrouped with Roland and their squadmates outside of Callahan's where they gave their report, leaving out Cry and the innkeeper's conversation about Kid as they agreed to, Roland's expression easing up, but only just slightly. It was still apparent, that he too was experiencing the same feeling of unease as the others.
Roland put a hand to his chin in thought,a finger tapping his mask.
"Sight, Simon, I need to speak with you two. The rest of you, are free to rest. When we reconvene, we'll be entering the asylum proper. Dismissed."
"Yes, sir," the four said in unison before setting off with Kid returning to Callahan's while Cry and Hands stayed close.
The five stood in silence all looking towards Callahan's wanting to be certain Kid wasn't lurking in the doorway. None of them expressed their concern aloud, but they all knew they had the same idea in mind when Cry stepped forward.
"You all also have your suspicions of Kid, correct?" Roland asked in a hushed tone.
"Yes, sir, if I may speak freely."
Roland glanced back at the entrance of Callahan's.
"Not here. Let's take a walk."
"I'll keep watch here, sir," Hands offered.
Roland opened his mouth to speak before being cut off by Hands.
"I assure you, I can take of myself, sir."
Roland didn't like the idea of leaving Hands or anyone else alone with someone they knew nothing about, but it was either that or deal with the possibility of being followed and the plan failing before it can even begin.
"All right, but if something happens, do not hesitate to retreat if need be or kill."
Outside Arkham's town hall, Simon and Cry informed Roland of what Miskatonic's innkeeper had told them as vague and unsettling as it was.
"Do you believe him to be inhuman?" Roland asked no one in particular.
"I don't know, sir. It could just be local superstitions," Cry said.
But not all superstitions were just tall tales as Cry would know all too well from his hometown. But beasts and people are different aren't they?
As I get older and the more I see, the line between superstition and reality begins to get blurrier and blurrier. Roland thought.
"Now then, for the reason I addressed you two specifically, I need you two to find what information you can about Arkham and the asylum specifically. Perhaps even these "old families" as well if possible."
"Yes, sir," Sight and Simon said in unison.
"And since you're here, Cry, we're going to talk to the mayor. Initially we were turned down to investigate the asylum until Kid paid a late night visit and suddenly the mayor had a change of heart. We're going to find out why."
"Yes, sir," Cry said.
The secretary looked at the four a look of distrust and scorn on her face.
"Not content with sending your lapdog to harass the mayor, you've come yourself?" she said disdainfully.
"I assure you, ma'am," Roland began. "Kid did not come here with my knowledge or permission. That's part of why we're here today."
"Kid, you say? Is that what he calls himself or what you call him?"
"It's the only name we have on record. Is there another name he'd go by?"
Of course he's not from Willowshire. If he's somehow known in the far reaches of Doomwood, it only makes sense that he's from here, but why lie about it?
"The name you seek is Arkham. The same name of the asylum you've come to investigate."
"What can you tell us about him?"
The secretary shook her head.
"Nothing. That family was supposed to be long dead, but his presence here shows that family still haunts these grounds all these years later."
"Are there any records of the town and more specifically the asylum and the Arkham family here?"
"Somewhere in the basement perhaps, not easy to find currently, but I could give you a start."
"Sight, Simon, go with her. Cry and I will speak with the mayor. I want to know what happened last night."
Outside of Callahan's, Hands watched as various townspeople walked by, some going out of their way to avoid seeing her or possibly being seen by her while others made wide berths to avoid walking close to her. Some had looks of distrust while others had looks of anger if not outright hatred.
She thought of Cry and how he might feel if he were in her position, but also of how he might muse on whether or not they were doing the right thing despite the reaction to them being even lass favourable than in Miskatonic.
I think the best thing we can do is what's right for us, she thought in his words.
She looked towards the town's gates and the guards standing along the wall, staring not out at the road ahead, but in the direction of the town, possibly at her.
Will we ever leave this town? she thought.
She entered Callahan's the main floor largely empty except for a couple people who sat by themselves as far away from anyone as they could and approached the counter where Callahan stood, polishing a glass.
"He's upstairs. Quiet one, isn't he?" Callahan asked.
"That's one way to describe him, what else do you think of him?" Hands asked.
Callahan leaned forward, setting the glass down on the counter. "I'll tell you what I told your commanding officer, there's something sinister about him. And I reckon the townsfolk feel the same way. You see the way they look at you and your lot. A lot of that is typical behaviour of the people here, but some of them have been really...how should I say it? Let's say antsy."
"You think it has something to do with him?" Hands asked quizzically.
"It's a hunch. In my line of work, you encounter a lot of people and some of them are chatty for one reason or other, so when they stop and start sitting in the corner rather than at the counter like they used to, pieces start to appear and fit."
"I see. Thank you for your time."
Kid looked out the window of the room he shared with Roland, gazing at the asylum in the distance his eyes locking with the windows of the tower.
It's only a matter of time.
Chapter XIV: Legacy
"You may enter," the secretary said as she stepped out of the mayor's makeshift office.
"Thank you," Roland said before he and Cry entered, shutting the door behind them.
"What more do you want from me?" the mayor pleaded. "Sending that monster to harrass me wasn't enough for you?"
"I assure you, sir," Roland began. "Kid did not come here with my permission. We're here to find out what transpired last night."
"Kid? Do you call him that or is that what he calls himself? Whatever you want to call him, he just waltzed in here and told me to give you that letter."
"And you just listened to him? Are you leaving anything out? Did he threaten you?" Roland asked, the mayor's answer not making any sense.
"Sir, if I may?" Cry asked.
"The innkeeper in Miskatonic didn't say anything about being threatened. The secretary said Kid's surname is Arkham. What if the people are afraid of the Arkham family?"
"Out of all of the old families of Doomwood, none were feared more than the Arkham family. How any remain to this day is nothing short of a mystery. Or maybe even a curse left behind by that wretched family."
"Other than founding the town and building the asylum, what did they do?" Roland asked.
"I don't know the whole history and no one wants to talk about it and with good reason. Especially when one of the Arkham's lives and has come to this town. Now then, is that all?"
"Yes, sir. Thank you," Roland said.
Sight and Simon looked through various boxes many of which contained leather bound ledgers, many of which were clasped shut and locked, their keys lost or perhaps in another box.
Simon managed to find a ledger with a broken clasp, the leather of its covers showing signs of decay as were its pages many of which had already turned to dust.
On its few remaining pages the writing was almost entirely illegible as though whoever wrote it did not wait for the ink to dry. One partial sentence she could make out read that someone had been burned at the stake.
Simon grimaced at the thought and looked towards Sight who appeared to have similar luck in her findings.
"Someone claiming to have been an exorcist came here seven years ago. It says they went into the asylum and came back...touched." Sight said aloud. "What did you find?"
"Someone had been burned at the stake. The ledger is too old and whoever wrote it didn't let the ink dry. It's impossible to get much more from it."
"Are you two looking for the history of the Arkham family?" the secretary asked.
"Yes, ma'am," Simon began. "As well as information on the asylum."
"I worked for many of this towns mayors and since long before my time, they all kept ledgers detailing their thoughts about the town and the direction it was going in starting with the first mayor, Samael or so the story goes."
"Was...was Samael the founder of the town?" Sight asked.
"Strangely enough, he wasn't. Hm, I feel I should be telling your commanding officer and the young man he was with this as well, if you mind the wait."
"It won't be a problem, ma'am," Simon said.
Roland and Cry reunited with Sight and Simon.
"What have you learned?" Roland asked.
"I had begun to tell them what I know, but figured it would be best if you were all present," the secretary said.
The secretary took a moment to gather her thoughts before beginning with the mention of Arkham's first mayor Samael.
"What did the Arkham family do?" Cry asked. "They founded the town, but didn't even operate it."
"The Arkham family was focused on the mansion later turned into an asylum. Their focus was on what they saw as their legacy."
"The ledger mentioned someone...being burned at the stake. What happened? Who was it?" Simon asked.
A forlorn expression came across the secretaries face as though she had just been confronted with something she had hoped to bury and forget.
"It happened while I was quite young. Long ago and a belief that probably persists to this day, the townspeople began to believe the Arkham family were practicing dark and forbidden magic and sought to...put an end to them. My mother had shut herself and I up in our home, but I still remember the faint light of the fire through the curtains, but what I don't remember is hearing any screaming or even cheering. And then no one dared to speak of the family or the asylum again as if they still hold influence over the town years after the supposed demise of the family."
"How many were there?" Roland asked.
"Just one or so they thought. Jonathon Arkham."
Roland put a hand to his chin, tapping a finger on his mask. Just what did they get caught up in? Was the original mission statement the full information or was something being held from them?
"Thank you for your time, ma'am," Roland said.
Outside the town hall, Roland looked out towards the asylum, its tower staring back at him like the dark, old god of Arkham.
"Until we can establish communication with Swordhaven or even just Amityvale, our only answers lie in that asylum," Roland began. "We'll find out from Hands if she learned anything or if anything then we enter it."
"Yes, sir," his squad said in unison.
Chapter XX: The Ward
Hands stood outside of Callahan's, waiting for Captain Roland and the others to return.
"Any developments, Hands?" Roland asked.
"I'm afraid not, sir. Kid has been upstairs since returning from surveying the asylum grounds," Hands said.
"Did you talk to Callahan or anyone else?"
"I talked to Callahan and he said the same thing he told you. He says there's something sinister about Kid and the townspeople feel the same way. They're very distrustful of us, even more so that what he said is typical behaviour of the townspeople."
Roland reiterated what the secretary at the town hall had told them about the family and the supposed extermination of it.
Hands looked inside Callahan's then from left to right.
"With all due respect, sir, would it not be better for this town and our mission, to put him down?"
In contrast to Sight and Simon who both expressed shock, Cry was unphased. While Hands may no longer be an assassin, he figured some part of that life still remained with her. It takes a certain mindset to casually suggest taking another life even if it may be justifiable and while he was not surprised given what he knew about her, he did wonder if she was wrong to make such a suggestion.
"I cannot authorize the extrajudicial killing of a Rose operative based on the superstitions of the townspeople and our own feelings of unease. We need substantial and material evidence of wrongdoings before carrying out any form of prosecution. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," Hands said flatly.
"Moving on then, we're going to begin our investigation of the asylum interior today. I'll go and retrieve Kid, the rest of you make your way to the asylum, but do not enter it until I arrive."
"Yes, sir," Roland's squad said in unison.
The four stood outside the asylum doors, looking out at the town beyond the courtyard walls.
"Do you really believe we should kill him?" Simon asked.
"If he is a hindrance to the mission and most importantly, a threat to us, yes. If we wouldn't hesitate to dispatch anything be it man or beast that would threaten us, why should we hesitate to do the same to Kid just because he's also with The Rose?" Hands said, her voice unshaken.
"All we have to go on is what the mayor and his secretary have said and it wouldn't be unjust to believe their judgment is impaired by their fears. If he of the Arkham lineage, what is to say he is anything like the rest of his family? How many of us are anything like our parents or their parents?" Sight said.
Simon stared at the ground and the strange white flower bulbs around her feet.
I'm nothing like them.
"I believe Sight is correct," Cry began. "Don't you think it's where, how, and when we were born and raised rather than who we were born to that'd be a greater influence on who we are?"
"But you believe Kid doesn't belong with us, Sight. Do you believe that because you are put off by him or is there another reason?" Hands asked.
"I won't deny that I find him off putting," Sight began. "But I believe he doesn't belong with us because he doesn't present himself as an outcast. There's nothing about him that separates him from any other rank and file Rose member."
The four went silent as they slowly looked not only themselves, but each other over. Despite their interactions with each other over the last few days, they didn't particularly look at one another to realize that they would indeed stand out among the rank and file of The Rose and to them, Kid stands out.
"I believe that only further shows there's something to be suspicious of," Hands said, breaking the silence. "We're outcasts and it shows. And while he doesn't look the part, it's clear there's something about him because even the Captain is suspicious. I won't draw steel against him unless he absolutely shows himself to be a threat and should that happen, I hope none of you will hesitate to do the same."
Kid stood at attention as soon as he heard the door creak, the sight unnerving Roland.
"We're beginning our investigation of the asylum interior," Roland said, the asylum, it's dark tower and rest of his squad visible through the window of the room he and Kid shared as though it were staring through the window at them.
"Understood, sir," Kid said in his usual flat almost unnatural tone.
The front hall of the asylum was a long corridor illuminated by dim and dying candles and oil lanterns that by all logic should've died out long ago faintly exposing the statues of jackal-headed beings flanking the door and symbols beetle-looking creatures etched into the walls.
"This was an asylum?" Cry started. "What even are these symbols?"
"They're significant in the Sandsea. Symbols of judgment and rebirth," Simon said.
"Why would such symbols be here?" Cry asked. "I guess the rebirth one makes sense, but the judgment one? That's a little strange."
"How are these candles and lanterns still lit? They don't look magical, but shouldn't they have gone out ages ago?" Hands inquired.
"Let's look further in," Roland said as he walked further down the hall.
Along the walls are various cells, all empty as far as they could tell with heavy metal doors.
Two open cells stood out to them. In one, scarcely visible in the dim light of the hall was a large and elaborate series of runes etched into the walls and floor, the light too dim to show the dried and faded blood that dotted the arcane etchings.
"What...what went on here?" Cry asked no one in particular. "Wasn't this supposed to have been an asylum? A place for healing?"
Sight glanced inside another open cell, straining her eyes to make out the faint outline of a suit of armour so dark in colour, it nearly blended in with the darkness of the windowless cell.
"This place is evil," she said to herself, her tone too hushed for anyone else to hear.
At the end of the hall, they came to another set of heavy iron doors etched with the strange beetle symbol much like the ones that led them into the asylum.
Roland made a mental note that the cells will need to be repurposed for Rose use as well as further inspection to find the source of the oddities with the lighting.
Pushing open the doors revealed a large courtyard leading to three other buildings including the tower looming over them like a titanic creature threatening to crush them.
The courtyard appeared as though it were once a playground with slides, swing sets, and seesaws in various sets of disrepair scattered about. None of these were particularly out of the ordinary for anyone present, but what was strange to all of them as far as they knew was the bronze statue at the center of the courtyard depicting a winged humanoid wielding a lance, triumphing over a serpentine dragon.
"We split up, the usual pairs. Kid and I will proceed forward. Cry and Hands, you two will take the east while Sight and Simon take the west. Survey each area and make note of any oddities and structural compromises," Roland ordered.
"Yes, sir," his squad said in unison.
< Message edited by NagisaXIkari -- 2/1/2020 3:35:54 >