"You have friends among the Wellingtons Gargan? They are still a powerful family in the lands we come from, outside of this place."
Gargan laughs lazily, licking his teeth with an open mouth.
"A few. Gargan knows how to make friends, then, oooh, he does!" - he answers, tipping his head to the side, as if to listen more intently to Harfik's words. Gargan's reaction is a mystery, but the smaller Rookie denounces what he tried to hide: not only he shows no surprise, but also he laughs cruelly as Harfik offers his piece of information. The small creature also confirms Harfik's suspicions: the lines on the floor are constantly consulted by the creature's feet and fingers, as if to denounce a certain location, despite their blindness. Odds are they took quite some time mapping the caves and drawing their way around...
The prince is not sure what he’s looking for, perhaps just grasping at straws. But he needs to know whether these curious being pose a threat!
The prince searches around his own thoughts at first, but soon his consciousness falls down the strange chasm of mixed memories, from Harfik's mind to the Captain's. Instinctively, he seeks out for a layout of their attitudes, a hint that denounces their personal inclinations. Suddenly, he apprehends the instincts of the Captain, understanding fully the mongrels' dispositions. They're deliberately cruel and mostly hostile, but they can negotiate, when someone has something they want. It seems to be the case, now: they respect the strong, fear them, even, and try to strike alliances with them as often as possible. But they're prone to betray them down the road, out of spite and out of envy. For now, though, they aren't hostile, that's for sure.
[Aanzu discovers that their general behavior is neutral evil.]
Is there a way to interrupt their ritual? Or prevent souls from moving away? How do you deal with them? Where are you taking us? We have two great creatures - they cannot pass little tunnels. And will you attack Teraphim?
Gargan looks dazed at the storm of questions delivered by the Svirfneblin.
"Oooh-OOH! Calm down, small one! Gargan has only one mouth! I am taking you to our shaman. You'll be safe there, where spirits can't reach and undead soldiers dare not go..." - he turns and assumes everyone will follow. Moving once more on all fours, he signals with a grunt to the Rookie, who in turn takes point.
"You can stop the ritual, no doubt. Just go down and... Slay the chanters! Easier said than done, oooh, it is, oh...oho..." - he sniffs around, squatting, and continues forward.
"Mostly, we fight them in the dark. They need their eyes, they do... We... We do not." - he smiles, motioning with a pair of taloned fingers towards his blank-stare eyes. "But when the souls come, only the shaman protects... With her wards, you see.... Oho..hoho... You see. Come-come! The tunnels are large enough.... Step where we step, all will be fine... All will... be fine..." - he waves, indicating the way forward. "Come-come! We won't harm the Teraphim. Or you. Not today. Today we are on the same side... We are."
"Are you not afraid that if you offer us shelter, you will incur the wrath of these dead souls?" Icosa inquires.
"To what purpose are you offering assistance
"We don't fear the dead.... But we are cautious... If the dead are furious.... Well, let them be... furious! Oooh, let them, hoho..." - he continues forward, leading the group through a large room, where a disjointed encampment miraculously holds up.
All around, the cryptic, blind creatures squat, listening and sniffing as they go across. Huts made out of stone, fibers and strange chitinous carapaces - giant carapaces - are sprung around. Here and there, the mongrels, statue-like, lick their lips and study smells, all blinded by some old mutation made universal. In darkness, the huts are encrusted with skulls and bones, pieces of armor, chains and weapons - no doubt trophies obtained from the dead.
"Better get a torch or something... It's about to get dark, oh-hoho..." - Gargan says before he moves on, not a hint of light nearby.
The room continues for several feet, until it turns to the left, assuming the shape of an 'L'. A few more feet and it reaches a black lake of stale waters. On the other side, four half-sunken passages lead to other rooms - most of which are probably under water. Rookie stops, and Gargan signals with a snarl and an arm jab for the others to stop. In the back, a few mongrels observe the entourage cautiously.
Gargan approaches the edge of the lake and intones. "Mamma, are you there? Mamma Kith, it's Gargan! And I bring visitors!"
For a few moments, only silence covers the area, bur the mongrels ears and noses are agitated, as if something stirred within darkness. It's small at first: the waters produce the faintest waves, chocking against stone. Silently, a body rises from the fetid lake, covered in murky waters at fist, but relinquishing the wetness as it walks out.
The creature is around five feet tall. Her features aren't strange - she resembles an old orc woman. Covered in reptile skins and chitinous adornments, she glances around, her eyes as worthless as the others'. Still, she appears to be seeing
. The creature's face is long and old, with a huge nose, crowned by a black wart. She leans on a finely-made staff, hiding her ugly visage under the peculiar hood.
"So.... Visitors we have..... *grunt*... Aand... How did they come here?" - she asks pragmatically.
Gargan simply steps aside, alowing the arrivals to do the talking.