25 Arodus 4718 (Starday)
We made our way down the long hallway, slowly checking each door. The first four doors opened into small bedrooms, with identical furnishings:a bed and a desk. Midway down, a break in the wall led into a short hallway of unworked stone that ended in a wall. Felyx made her way down this short hallway, and after giving it a rather thorough look, determined that it was simply a wall. I wonder if Martella constantly renovated this safe house, adding new areas and connecting hallways. Though seeing the finished rooms paired with the unworked stone was quite jarring.
The latter four doors also opened into bedrooms. As we walked past, I spotted a rather nice belt sitting on one of the desks. I took a closer look, appreciating the fine stitching on the black leather. The silver buckle was made to look like two cats chasing each other. The belt was magical, and unsurprisingly with its cat motif, enhanced the wearer’s agility. Verity took it, as her fighting style required her to be lightly armored and light on her feet.
We followed the hallways until it led into a dining room, or meeting room. Perhaps both. It had a large table in the center, and the walls were covered in detailed maps of the Taldane prefectures. I leaned in to take a closer look at one of the maps when Verity spotted a small child underneath the table.
A young girl emerged when Verity called out to her, and we were all shocked that a child was present in such a place. She said her name was Lustra, and that her father had been hired on a new job and should be upstairs. Her mother was too busy to look after her today, and so her father had taken her to work where he was supposed to be “moving boxes around.” Her father had told her to stay in this room and not leave it.
The whole story sounded very strange, and I couldn’t imagine a group of cultists would have let a child remain down here unsupervised, or that such a young girl would have remained in this room with the fighting taking place just twenty feet away from her hiding place beneath the table.
As we debated what our next course of action would be, both Oliver and Cornelius began to say that Lustra was not a child, but in fact some sort of spider creature trapped inside a porcelain doll. Lustra kept asking Oliver what was wrong, saying she wasn’t a spider but a little girl. I was surprised that Oliver kept pressing her, asking her what she really was. I was even more surprised when Lustra cast a glitterdust spell and I was stricken blind.
A fight broke out almost immediately. From what I could hear, all of my friends save Felyx were stricken blind, but it sounded like Cornelius and Verity recovered rather quickly. Oliver shouted that Lustra was a creature called a Fantionette, a type of outsider that served Thamir Gixx. They were “protectors” of children that killed adults. This creature attacked me, and I shouted out, trying to defend myself and swinging my sword in the direction I thought she might be, but missing. Felyx came up beside me, and I heard Verity shout for me to begin singing, so I complied, trying to stay out of the way of the combat. I could hear Cornelius spellcasting, and a loud crashing sound.
Not long after this, my vision finally returned. The loud crashing sound I had heard was someone flipping over the table, and it now was providing cover for those of us behind it. Oliver was in terrible shape, bleeding from several wounds, and Cornelius was brandishing the wand we had taken from Dagio like it was a blade, attempting to dodge a spectral weapon flying about his head.
I rushed around the table, bringing my bastard sword down on the creature, which barely seemed to chip its porcelain skin. A fear spell took hold of Verity and she turned fleeing the room with utmost haste. Damn these cultists and their spells that are affecting our minds.
As Verity fled, the Fantionette launched herself at Oliver, bringing him down under her claws, before spinning around to focus her attacks on Cornelius. His magic was proving far more effective than our blades. As I continued to press the attack, Felyx ran to Oliver’s side using her magic to heal him. He let out a groan as he regained consciousness.
I gritted my teeth, keeping my focus on the creature, and praying to Ragathiel that we would make it out of this alive.