The Long Road to Ruin Ch. 33-35


She squeezed her way into the small room and smiled as she saw the pillar with a lever on it. She flipped it into the down position and sneaked back the way she came. She took the time to re-lock the last door before she made her way back to the bridge. It was there she ran into Christano, Myra and Shanna.

"There's our little mouse," Christano grinned, looking her up and down.

"I was coming to get you. I told you to stay put until I gave the all clear," her eyes flashed anger and annoyance.

"We were worried so we ran after you. We'll stay together from here on out." Christano stated. "Did you find anything?"

Shiloh shook her head. "There's a door back here that I haven't been through. I've encountered a few different kinds of undead things. There was one shrouded in cloth."

"Sounds like a Mummy." Myra rubbed her chin, thoughtfully.

"There was some kind of undead knight as well. And skeletons, too."

"I destroyed the skeletons that were back there." Myra spoke up, pointing towards the bridge. "Let's see this room, then."

Shiloh led them into the cavern room to the left, avoiding the mummy all together, though Christano vowed to destroy it as soon as possible. She let Shanna try her luck at picking the lock and disabling the trap that was there. The younger female shook with glee when she succeeded at both.

"Good job!" Christano smiled at her and stepped up to open the door. He entered the room, his eyes widening. "Finally we've reached the grave area."

"I hate to say it, dear, but this doesn't look like the tomb of the high priest. I think his final resting place would be more... ornate. Look around; there are no religious symbols. No great effigy. I would say this is the grave of a captain of the guard."

A sigh slipped from his lips. "You are probably right. Let's check it out anyway, shall we, ladies?"

Shiloh moved to the sarcophagus and carefully lifted the lid. She pulled from within a worn leather bag and smiled. "I know what this is. It's a bag of holding. Let's see what's inside."

"Is that's all that in there? I'm not so sure grave-robbing is a very nice thing to do, especially if something's remains are still there." Myra spoke up.

"Look for yourself then. There aren't any bones. Just that bag." Shiloh sat on the floor and opened it, pulling from within a cloak and a heavy sack of coins. She smiled as she jingled the sack. "I love the sound of money!"

Shanna let out a shriek of terror as a creature climbed from within the coffin wrapped in burial shrouds over what looked to have been ornate armor and sword; the creature began swinging at Shiloh. Shiloh grunted as the blade of the large weapon connected with her shoulder pauldron, knocking her to the floor. Christano sprang to action, swinging his morningstar in a wide arc to bash the creature's head. The impact of the blow left a large jagged dent in the creature's helm, but did nothing to slow its assault on a prone Shiloh. It swung a second time, slicing a gash in her exposed thigh. She cried out in agony and rolled away, putting her companions between her and the undead abomination. Pulling his arm back, Christano swung a second time, hitting the thing in the ribs. Bone and metal flew, scattering bits through the air like shrapnel. A war cry praising the gods bellowed from the paladin's lips while he bashed the creature a third and fourth time. The spiked ball on the end the chain shattered one of the creature's arms, causing it to drop the heavy sword. It struck out with claws, raking harmlessly over the polished golden metal of Christano's armor.

It was then Myra stepped up, holding a blazing ball of light she'd channeled from Bastian's grace in her hands. She released it, watching the brilliance engulf the undead being. This allowed Christano to bash it again before Myra reduced it to dust.

Myra moved to Shiloh's side, conjuring a healing light to her hand and pressing it to the jagged wound on Shiloh's thigh. She hissed as the wound knitted, gritting her teeth and biting her lip. Pushing Myra away, she gripped the wall and struggled to her feet. The wound, though closed, pained her.

"It would be wise to be a bit more careful next time when you open a sarcophagus, Shiloh. You could've gotten yourself or any one of us killed," Christano admonished her as he watched her limp to her pack.

"Piss off, you self righteous sycophant. Don't you dare blame me for that... thing attacking us?!" She yelled back, digging through her pack for her healing draughts. Pulling one out, she popped the lip of it and took a long swig.

"She couldn't have known that there was something hostile inside the sarcophagus, dear." Myra spoke up, eyeing the sarcophagus thoughtfully. "It seems to me that everything which has died in these caverns has turned into an undead creature. That hints at the presence of a strong evil. We have to be prepared for anything. Before that thing arose from the coffin, there was nothing in there. I saw it with my own two eyes. It was as if it was hiding from us."

"If that is so, we shall find it and destroy it! Such evil cannot be allowed existence!" Christano boomed, his voice echoing in the room. "Now are you capable of continuing, Shiloh?"

She inclined her head at him. "I'm fine now, after you." As soon as he turned his back, she smiled and winked at Myra, mouthing a sincere thank you. "There's another door across the bridge. I believe it's the one we need to go through to reach our destination."

"Onward!" The paladin proclaimed, hastening his step until he reached the door. He opened it and walked through, making his way down the long twisting turning corridor until he reached a stairwell and a door. He waited for Shiloh to catch up.

"Are you crazy?" Shiloh chided. "You should've let me go first. You are lucky you missed the gas trap that would've filled your lungs with poison. And I would feel no pity for you." The venomous words spilled from her ruby lips like water from a broken jug.

He glared at her, staring into her eyes. "If you had done a proper scouting ahead, I wouldn't have to worry about it, now would I? Now deal with this door like I'm paying you to."

Swiftly, she extended her hand and slapped his smug commanding face as hard as she could. Then she moved to the door, unlocking it, but dodging the arrow she deliberately triggered. It hit him in a weak part of his armor, just above where the breastplate connected with the shoulder pauldron. He bellowed a cry of pain and snapped the shaft in two before yanking it out. "Myra!"

She rushed forth, summoning her strongest healing spell to her hands and pressing it to his punctured flesh. He growled at Shiloh. "Impudent wench, you did that on purpose. Once my task is done, I will see to your punishment."

She stuck her tongue at him impishly and bound down the stairs. He followed behind her, stopping in awe as they came to the large lavishly decorated hall. Great monuments stood, a solid testimony that they'd found the tomb of the high priest. Christano danced about excitedly. "The tombs, finally, this is where I know we'll find the golden chalice! Victory is at hand!"

Myra groaned behind him. "It's about time. All those undead and the fighting have worn me down terribly."

"Oh, poor pitiful you," Shiloh sneered.

"Ah, look. Miss Oh-I'm-so-tough of course has to pretend that she's not tired. Maybe you'd be exhausted as well if you didn't sleep through all our nights but stood watch every now and then, too. And look at all the times I had to heal you. We did most of the fighting and routing the undead. You and your slutty ass sister did little to help out at all." Myra shot back, her lip curling derisively.

"And who was the one disabled all those gas traps and took care of the locked doors. After all, I thought I was here for those things, and nothing else?"

"No need to get touchy again, Shiloh. I was stating a fact."

Shiloh directed a furious glare at the cleric. She pulled one of her swords and held it to her throat. "Alright, stupid wench, make my day. One wrong move and you'll be sucking air through your neck."

"Shiloh," Shanna cried, "Have you gone mad?"

"So help me Gods if you don't sheathe your sword now, I'll be forced to smite you, wicked one. Now listen to me. We've all done an excellent job so far, and we're really close to reaching our goal, so I see absolutely no reason for quarreling. I'm giving you an order, Shiloh. Sheathe your sword." Christano shouted, his face turning beat red.

"I don't take orders from you, asshole and furthermore, your skinny ass little prude started it."

"I just said I was tired, coozie." Myra retorted as she took a step back from Shiloh's blade, bumping into Shanna.

"Small wonder, you're just skin and bones," quipped Shanna as she pushed Myra away from her, back towards Shiloh.

"Coozie, am I? You must really have a death-wish to call me that."

"You don't scare me, thief." Myra retorted. "We've faced worse things here than you'll ever be."

"Care to find out that you're undoubtedly wrong?" She waved her blade before Myra's face menacingly.

But Christano had heard enough. "All of you will stop at once, or else I'll be forced to punish all of you. I've heard enough. Now let's move on."

Myra nodded dutifully and made her way down the grand staircase. She hastened her step as she caught sight of a death knight guarding an altar sitting atop a high platform. Racing toward it with Christano on her heels, they met the undead warrior head on. The knight's glowing black sword slammed against Christano's shield, causing the paladin to stagger, but Myra was there to draw the attention of the knight. She swung her mace at the creature, connecting the head of the weapon with the creature's skull in a sickening thunk. Shiloh and Shanna joined in, surrounding it completely.

A smash here and the crack of the whip were followed by chanted words of divinity to smite the unholy foe. Blades flashed, slicing rotten flesh. Tense moments of battle passed before a resounding crack and the spew of putrid flesh and bone echoed within the tomb. The death knight collapsed, falling to the ground as Christano swung his morningstar in a downward arc to crush its skull. To the hewn floor it went and did not stir again.

Christano roared a cry of victory before charging up the stairs to the top of the platform. He carefully viewed the black stone altar with its encrusted layers of dark dried blood. "This is a place of utter evil. Many were sacrificed here to the foul glory of Hyath. We should destroy this vile thing."

Shiloh stood beside, glancing over the altar before moving her gaze to the basin of water to the left and the gong to the right. She cocked an eyebrow at Myra before turning her attention back to Christano. "And how are we to destroy stone?"

"With righteous might," he replied, bashing his morningstar against it. The three females scattered as chips of the black rock flew in different directions.

"Christano dear, that will take too long. We have to find the correct tomb. From what I can see there are three different doors. Two have an odd red glow about them while the other stands open just a bit. I say we explore further. I tire of this place. I wish to be gone from here." Myra coaxed him, tugging on his arm.

He eyed her thoughtfully. "Yes, let's find the chalice and get out of here."

"What's so important about this chalice?" Shanna piped up. "It must be such great holy relic."

"It is special to the church of the Sun Lord. Truthfully a pious man puts his best effort into the quest." Christano replied as he left the platform behind.

"And I suppose recovering it will increase your standing amongst the ranks of the church," Shiloh asked, her voice a biting sneer, "Which sounds to me that you are actually no better than some of my brethren."

"Silence, wench, I've heard enough of your bile. You'll be lucky if I pay you at this rate," he retorted. "I suggest you do something to earn your keep."

"Would that consist of licking your boots and groveling for mercy?" She batted her eyelashes at him prettily.

"As a start," he scoffed at her. "Now check that door ahead."

Shiloh made a rude gesture at him before easing her way across to the door. She searched it thoroughly and opened it to reveal a room bathed in golden light. A sparkling fountain bubbled rhythmically at the rear of the room. Shiloh headed for it followed closely by Myra, Shanna and Christano.

"How beautiful," she smiled as she knelt before it. She dipped her hand it, cupping water within her palms and brought it to her lips. It tasted sweet and refreshing, a delight upon her parched mouth and dry lips.

"That was very brave," Myra spoke up, running her hands through the water. "I believe this fountain was likely used to wash corpses before burial. A lot of cultures do that. If I am not completely wrong, this water has a cleansing effect. Delaying decay, but it might also be used to clean the effects of poison and diseases and such. After all those gas traps it may be smart to wash in it."

Shiloh grinned widely. "Taking a bath would be lovely!"

Myra removed her scant armor and placed her weapons on the ground, and then stepped into the water, letting it run over her breasts and her face. She sat down in the fountain basin, quickly washing herself all over. Her eyes sparkled with pleasure as she glanced over from Christano to Shiloh. She smiled radiantly as a soft blush covered her features.

"You're truly beautiful, my dear," Christano returned her smile, his eyes drinking in every inch of her flesh.

"Why, thank you, Chris dear." She stepped out of the water and rubbed her body dry with a length of soft toweling he handed her. Reaching into her pack, she pulled out a clean linen sleeping gown and smoothed it over her body. "All clean again. Who's next?"

"Me, I am!" Shanna piped up, wriggling out her tight black armor and bounding into the fountain. She splashed and giggled, making a show of washing her body. Her eyes lingered on Christano, inviting him forth.

"Scandalous girl, keep your eyes off my Christano!" Myra warned. "He's not interested in your shamelessness."

Shanna shot her a knowing look. "That's what you think!" Quickly the younger girl finished her bath and stepped out, drying herself. She glared at Myra and Shiloh. "Next?"

"Christano?" Shiloh spoke up, meeting his gaze levelly.

"Ladies, first," He smiled, looking away graciously as Shiloh removed her armor and stepped into the water.

She sighed as the warmth of it engulfed her thoroughly. She sank into it heavily, allowing the water to reach her chin. There was no unpleasant smell like she thought there might be. Rather, being in the crystal clear water felt better than any water she'd ever been in. Closing her eyes, she relaxed for a moment before beginning to wash her long limbs. She giggled merrily, relishing in the luxurious sensation. She could almost picture being back in the castle again. It was truly so very nice.

"I think somebody is enjoying herself." Christano smiled, stripping off pieces of his armor until only his tunic and breeches remained. "I do believe I am next."

"Just a moment," Shiloh stated begrudgingly as she quickly finished washing. There was no way in the hells she'd allow Christano to join her. A soft groan slipped from her lips. She hated the thought of getting out so soon. For the first time in days she felt clean. Reluctantly she climbed out of the water and dried her body. She too grabbed a linen nightie and slipped into it before spreading out her bedroll. As she laid down on it, she watched as Christano peeled his tunic and stripped his breeches off then climbed into the pool as well, washing himself dutifully. A soft humming tune lilted from his lips while he dragged the sponge over his body, scrubbing his flesh clean. After a short while, he climbed back out, dried thoroughly and dressed in his tunic and breeches once again. "I think that was a perfect way to lift our spirits, ladies. I believe this is a good chance to get some rest. The area seems safe enough."

"But if we're so close to finding the chalice, shouldn't we continue our search? We could rest and celebrate afterwards. Don't you agree?" Shanna piped up, an eager grin on her face.

Shiloh took that moment to yawn pitifully.

"No, I don't agree. We are all pretty tired, especially Myra and myself. We rest. I'll hear no discussion of it." Christano barked as he spread out his bedroll.

"That is truly the best idea you've had all day, dear. And as you've offered so graciously, you'll take the first and second watch." Myra beamed as she prepared to rest, not paying further attention to anyone. She snuggled into her blankets, closing her eyes.

"Let me guess, I get the third watch," Shiloh spoke up. "Or should Shanna take third and I'll take fourth."

"You ladies rest for now and I'll wake you when it is time for your watch."

Shiloh nodded at him, and snuggled into her blankets. She knew sleep wouldn't come for a while. She could hear Myra's soft and regular breathing, a clear testament that the cleric was asleep. Shanna tossed and turned, punching her pillow in the search for a comfortable sleeping position. And Christano lounged beside Myra, his weapon drawn and ready on his knee. Perhaps he really wanted to prove that he was sincere in watching over them all. Or perhaps he was looking for his chance to bed each of them.

She watched him for a while before her mind wandered back to Betancuria. She wondered how the Family's fight for survival against the Dhorn was going and if they missed her presence. Truthfully she was looking forward to being back in her own apartment again. The thought of having somebody there, waiting for her, warmed her through and through. She missed Rhys, his warm smile and big warm body. Had he gotten Nicca to safety? Does he miss me, she whispered to herself. That she missed him was a certainty. He needn't know of her dalliances with Myra and her Lord Bastian.

Home, she whispered, imagining no more fighting, no undead; just a nice fireplace, a warm bed, a nice book to read... and Rhys to welcome her. With her thoughts at peace, she drifted off to sleep.


"Shiloh, wake up." A firm hand shook her shoulder.

Shiloh grabbed one of her swords and pressed it to his neck. "Hands off," she sleepily growled.

"Crazy bitch," he hissed.

"I warned you not to touch me... ever." She sat up, still holding the blade in place at the hollow of his neck.

"It's your turn for watch," Christano chose his next few words carefully. "But I think we're pretty safe here. I haven't even heard a rat during the last couple hours." Christano backed away from her knife, sitting beside her bedroll. She noticed he'd removed his tunic and the laces on his breeches had been loosened.

Shiloh glared at him, noticing the gleam of sweat and smell of sex still clinging to his skin. "You've had my sister again, haven't you? And now you think my legs will fall open for you as easily as hers. Think again, you knavish ill-bred tosspot!"

"And who are you to deny a man of the church?" His eyes traced from her flashing eyes to her reddened cheeks, then lower still to the slender column of her neck and the creamy skin of her exposed upper swells of her breasts. "I'm dying to have you."

Christano's hands flashed to Shiloh's voluptuous breasts, kneading them enthusiastically. Just as Shiloh was about to stick her sword into Chris, Bastian admonished her, "Are you refusing to follow my plans, my precious one? Let him have his way; then his betrayal will be complete." Shiloh reluctantly lay back on to her bedroll, submitting to Bastian's wishes.

"As you wish, my Lord!"

Christano took Shiloh's compliance for submission to his desires, he snaked his hand under her night clothes and between Shiloh's legs, immediately rubbing her bare pussy. "You're not as immune to the need for me as you think, sweet one. Don't fight it. You want it; you're already wet for me."

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