Suddenly, the entire chamber shook. With the exception of Accura, everyone had to struggle to maintain their balance. A moment later, the chamber shook again. “Earthquake,” Fragiel asked, wondering what else could’ve caused the whole mountain to shake like that.
“No,” Accura laughed. “That would be my brothers and sisters trying to get in here to stop me.”
That answer had the High Priest confused. “How are you able to keep them out, my goddess?”
“You did not seriously think I would put my plan into motion without covering every possibility, did you? I’ve had Paragon and his mercenary band hiring priests of the entire pantheon putting wards on this room for the past year. Your acolyte, Parshal, just finished adding the final one.”
“You would trust him with a job that important,” Fragiel scoffed. “He is a nobody who was days away from being kicked out of your order.”
Accura laughed once more. “That is what I wanted you, and everyone else, to think. Ever since he took his vows, I have been controlling his every thought and action. I needed everyone to underestimate him, to write him off as nothing. Believe me; nobody is as dedicated to my cause as Parshal is.”
Another booming crash rocked the cavern. “Hurry, my High Priest,” the goddess commanded. “We need to use the sceptre to make more soldiers for my army. It will not take them long to figure out that they are being kept out by wards that they themselves have made. ”
Fragiel turned away from his goddess, pointing the sceptre at the animal/humanoid hybrids. Just as he was about to activate the power of the sceptre, he took a good look at what he had made. Seeing the half-human/half-scorpions, half-dwarf/half-bears, and half-elf/half-foxes, bile rose up in the back of his throat.
No matter how much he wanted to do what he had been told, he found that he couldn’t do it. Those monstrosities disgusted and angered him in a way he didn’t understand. Lowering the wand, he turned away from the monsters and faced his goddess. “No,” he managed to squeak out. After clearing his throat, he continued, “I won’t help you make any more of those…..things.”
“What did you say to me,” Accura screamed, shaking the cavern herself.
Even though his head was ringing and shooting with pain, Fragiel managed to answer her. “I won’t do it, Accura. Those things are just wrong.”
With a gesture from her hand, Fragiel was lifted off of his feet. The pain that was in his head spread throughout the rest of his body. He did his best not to scream, but the agony was just too much. As the groans escaped his lips, Accura ripped her sceptre out of his hand and handed it to her acolyte.
“You are my High Priest now, Parshal,” she proclaimed. “Go forth and quickly do my bidding.”
Smiling, Parshal pointed the wand at the assembled creatures. Just then, several cracks appeared in the walls as the chamber shook more violently than before. Instead of letting it distract him, Parshal kept his concentration and recited the words of activation that only revealed themselves to the High Priest of Accura. Screams erupted from all around. There were a couple hundred of each type of hybrid. Now, the numbers had doubled.
The goddess, assured that her new High Priest would carry out her wishes, turned her attention back to her former one. Each little wiggle of her finger brought new levels of pain into his body. “I am on the threshold of conquering both the world and the heavens, and you dare betray me when I need you most?”
Fragiel was physically unable to answer her. The suffering he was enduring left him without the ability to do anything but scream. “You will continue to feel my wrath until my siblings break the wards. Once they enter, the first thing I shall do is kill you.”
The pounding on the walls continued, increasing in pace. Accura smiled, knowing that the increased pace showed that her fellow gods were growing impatient. “From the sound of it,” she laughed, “it will be quite a while before they get in here.”
Just as the goddess finished saying that, the doors quietly opened. A look of shock crossed Accura’s face as Kerven Blade stepped out from the shadows by the opening. “I’m sorry,” he sneered. “Did you want that to stay closed?”
Accura wanted to strike the impudent mortal down, but she knew she didn’t have time. Now that the dwarf had opened the door, it had dispelled the wards. Her siblings had come.