In this episode, Malric travels into the wilderness beyond Sulsut to investigate the mysterious sect of Thulos.
Malric rode hard towards the sea. The hood of his cloak was off and his black hair flowed behind him in the slipstream like a mane. He was in love with the desolation beyond the city limits. Out here there was no need for secrecy. Even a renegade from the Thieves’ Guild was welcome to the rocky cliffs and wheeling gulls.
The Temple of Thulos was far out on the point, close to the lighthouse. Malric knew little about the sect, only that Thulos was the supposed deity of the Scavengers, a race of amphibious half-men who often attacked ships coming out of Sulsut Harbor. According to Sol, the temple itself was designed as a single vertical shaft that delved deep into the cliffs by the sea. The thought of meeting other members of the Guild in such a place weighed heavily on Malric, but the weight of the pouch of gold on his belt was heavier than the weight of his fear.
Dusk soon fell to night, and the wind off the sea sent a chill through Malric, and he wrapped his cloak about him as he neared the Thulos temple. It was a short, dome-shaped structure with portals at each of the compasspoints. Above each portal was the signet of Thulos—six sinuous limbs connected to a dark circle. Malric had been told that only one of the portals led down into the heart of the shrine.
Malric led his mare over to a group of pines some fifty yards distant from the temple. He was close to the cliffs now, and the wind sliced through the trees like a scythe, invading every exposed pore of his skin. He bridled his steed in the center of a thicket and rested his back against a nearby pine. He pulled the coarse fabric of his hood over his head and let his gaze wander out to the stars. There was no sound except for the occasional shuffling of the mare’s hooves against the earth.
The stars brought back memories of Malric’s boyhood, of lying on rooftops and watching the stars moving in their calm timeless paths above the din of Sulsut’s night life. He remembered the excitement of his early pilferings — shinnying down bowers into windows then escaping into the night by rooftop. As a bastard child in Sulsut his occupation in thievery was more or less preordained.
As Malric grew more relaxed, the memories spilled out of his mind more rapidly, progressing into his manhood; a whirlwind of sensation and emotion. One kept recurring. It was the memory of Galron’s face as he peered over the edge of the pit down at Malric. It was a wicked mask of hate made more hideous because it was worn by a man Malric had once called blood brother. The images that followed were worse. They depicted something sliding through the bones and other debris that littered the floor of the pit, something with a long, twisting body, hungry eyes, and blade-like mandibles . . .
To be continued…