Chapter 29: A Ritual Brewing Prepared, The Bait is Set!
Once, nestled deep within the frozen crow-leaf forest, there had been a cottage.
Instead there was a clearing. In this clearing there was a grand cauldron in the shape of a catshead. Clustered around this pot in a spiral were many other cauldrons and pots. These pots were connected via rivers of flames, inside of which there was not only salamanders, but many other spirits of flame.
The cat-spirit shaped storage jars of the Dauftima were clustered around the main cauldron, as if they were spectators to some wondrous show. The flickering flames of the cauldron-fires gave a strange life to the eyes of the jars.
What then of the cottage? What had become of it?
Surrounding the array of pots and cauldrons, were a number of crude statues.
Thirteen statues, each in the form of some bird, beast, reptile, fish, amphibian or insect. The exact forms of the statues were hard to make out, but of them one could be considered a boar, one a heron, and one had so many serpentine heads and necks that it could only be a hydra. One however was extremely clear.
A mighty winged tiger with the face and chest of a woman, some manner of sphinx. It was clear that the makers of the statue had seen this face before.
The thirteen Archfiends of Disaster. Not innately evil beings, but as many believe the Aryaith to be deities, so do many believe the archfiends to be so. Many even believe them to be the true gods. Yet, many do make such claims, and many have great power. Who can know, as goddess or not, the Aryaith of Truth is dead. The archfiends, deities or not, are called disasters due to the fate of those that cross them.
To create an image of the archfiends was dangerous and difficult, as to do so was to invoke their power and attention. These had been created by the Dauftima sisters, as protection in this final moment. While many magicians scorns those who claimed to be gods, and many wished to become gods themselves. It was not uncommon for magicians to lay this aside for their own gains.
Nor was it uncommon for beings of great power to lend some of their power for their own obscure aims.
The three sisters were standing beside the catshead cauldron, each stirring in a different motion with ladles of bone.
Wauldigg stood outside the pattern of brews, hammer ready in his hands. His brow was furrowed like the abyssal fields of his subterranean homeland.
“Will they really come?” Wauldigg asked.
Jadah glanced at Wauldigg from the corner of her eye. “If they do, we must hope that they haven’t been possessed by the tri-humour mandragora”
Just as Wauldigg was about to speak again, for he was still fairly confused about the matter with the mandragora and everything else, a figure came out of the darkness of the forest!