From the Memoirs of Tyrus the First
The roads got constantly worse as we reached the foothills, but as if compensating for this, the skirmishes with the Byakhee seemed to stop. Thank the gods for small favors. Crude mountain paths still existed, so we weren’t forced to abandon our horses entirely. We had to leave them temporarily, however, for they couldn’t follow us during the climb to the temple of the long-lost goddess.
I remember Alcemides being skeptical about the existence of the temple itself, and quoted numerous occasions wherein our lotus dreams had been merely dreams. Fortunately Dionysos was particularly insistent, and the climb wasn’t long, so convincing Alcemides to guide us wasn’t too difficult.
I had hoped that the endeavor would remain uneventful, but on the first night Basil alerted us of landslide just in time. We quickly relocated our camp under a ledge, but it soon became apparent that we weren’t alone. Basil recalled stories of grey apes in the Zamoran mountains, which used to hunt by triggering landslides and crushing their prey. Fair enough, the suspicion was immediately confirmed, as two such creatures stormed the camp.
The battle was quick. Dionysos was caught in a deadly embrace and almost crushed to death, but Alcemides jumped on its back and stabbed the creature furiously. It immediately fell limp, grasping its bleeding neck. When the other creature saw this, it abandoned the fight. We never met it again. Inspecting the carcass, we found remains of broken manacles its limbs. Where the creature had escaped and why someone had brought the beast here, we never found out.
The temple wasn’t as high as we had expected, and we actually reached it the next day. It was barren and thoroughly looted, with walls so worn that one couldn’t tell what god it had been built for. A headless statue of an nondescript female faced us from the back wall, and Dionysos’s visions told that one had to grab its hands and close ones eyes to attain enlightenment. So I did. At first nothing seemed to happen, but then a stinging headache of images and visions rushed from the statue and ripped into my mind. I wrestled to control them, and just as I felt I was gaining an upper hand, an image of a lonely citadel on a steep cliff formed before my eyes. Instinctively I knew that it would house the fifth volume of the scrolls of Vathelos.
When I came to my senses, I found Dionysos and Alcemides still in stupor. The pict recovered first and held his temples, asserting that the statue must have been coated with cheap poison. Dionysos was nonsensical for a long time, but eventually returned with a vision of the scrolls of his own. He proclaimed that another set could be found from Ong, the City of Pain in Zamora.
We discussed about our individual visions and soon became convinced that mine depicted a scene from the shores of the great Vilayet, but from exactly where, we did not know. Such a citadel would be a clear landmark, however, and the answer would surely be found in Turan.
Meanwhile, Basil, who claimed to not have touched the statue, pointed us towards a narrow crack in the wall. In had probably once been a secret passage, but now lay breached. Behind it, we found a small room with a sacrificial altar and a well. The well seemed impossibly deep, and before we had time to study the room in more detail, Alcemides had chosen to drop a torch in it. We never saw it hit the bottom, but from the well boomed a sound we’d heard long ago in another temple. I must admit that my sanity left me, and my next recollection was from the foot of the mountain. Luckily, our horses were still safe and sound.
We decided to continue through the mountains, as circling them would have been too troublesome. As if to confirm that homecoming wouldn’t be too easy, we then faced the Byakhee once more.
They appeared in the middle of the night while we were camping on a desolate ledge. This time they came in greater numbers, and were accompanied by a large example of their brethren. Their big sister was terrible to behold – it was as large as two men, and fought with powerful signs of sorcery. We fought valiantly, but even though we could harm the smaller byakhee, their big sister shrugged off our blades and bolts with ease. It was then that Alcemides drew the atlantean blade I had loaned him and thrust it against the beast, piercing its skin. The creature let out a horrible wail and immediately grappled Alcemides, wresting the blade from his grasp. We tried to stop it, but it managed to rise to its wings, certainly willing to steal the blade or throw it down from the ledge. I would not stand for it, and collected all my remaining power, calling for skin-flaying pain to strike the creature. For once, my sorcery didn’t fail me, and the beast fell to the ground, staggering. Dionysos then cleaved the creature with his all his might, seriously wounding it. When Alcemides dived for the atlantean blade it had dropped, the beast lost heart and the flock vanished into the night.
After licking our wounds and struggling with the byakhee’s poison, we descended the slopes and reached the pass that would lead us into Nemedia. Ditrius and Luba were waiting for us at the border and after some hassle, the border guard allowed us into the country. We immediately set our sights at Belverus. What followed would become the most important attainments of my yet short life. They were set into motion by unforeseen events, which revealed rather interesting facts about our friend Ditrius and his entourage.