He gave a weak smile before continuing, “We-the practitioners of Sang Daemanus-give our souls in order to wield bloodmagic. Inevitably it corrupts us. You see we start by hearing a whisper. We cannot discern from where it comes, but it demands our attention. In our dreams we see it, an ember, the flaming Daemon. Then, it inexplicably sets us on a path wherein we encounter a practitioner. In my case it was my grandfather, and then my father.
“So we are witness to such great power. Salamandrus poisons our minds. He beseeches us to covet that power. My grandfather was the first I know of who tried to refuse it, but only after accepting. I didn’t know when I was a boy that different kinds of blood are either more or less powerful than others. I didn’t understand what consequence this power had on him.
“All practitioners eventually move from animal blood to human, and that’s where corruption is seeded. Then the consumption of Daemon blood, the most potent, gnaws at our minds…even now, I begin to feel it…”
“Never the less, my grandfather sought out ancient practitioners in the hope of finding a way to break the contract. Naturally none obliged, as the power was so ingrained in them they never dreamed of relinquishing it. He then set about summoning; this is a most difficult task.
“Summoning demands the temporary obedience of lower Daemons, ones under the command of Salamandrus. Through summoning, and abhorrent torture of evil creatures, my grandfather learned of a way to break the pact. He started to prepare for a journey to the island when its evil was unleashed upon the whole of the world.
“If I am to understand correctly it coincides with this expedition from Ilteriel, but something must have happened to thwart the Daemon, or at least partially subdue him. The evils did subside, but the pact remains; as with myself and my father. Anyhow during the release of the evil my grandfather fought various minor Daemons and undead. Unfortunately, they wounded him quite gravely. Thus began my father’s journey…or so we’d all hoped…”
Dysart gave a pause. He looked around, eyeing the torches, the doors, hoping that perhaps Randall might barge back in, and lighten the mood. Isabelle noted his distress. She placed a gauntleted hand on his shoulder.
“I assume your father failed,” she whispered.
He nodded and resumed his tale, “The practice demands much from us as participants…it demands much as wishful initiates as well. We give our tongue, so that we might not speak any other contracts. We give our…manhood-mind you, just the stones-so that we might not realize our own power as humans. Finally, we give our minds, so that no God might take pity or favor upon us.
“That was where my father failed, still practically the beginning. He was buried alive for the concluding portion of initiation. When he finally broke free from the ground, he was no longer himself…my grandfather slayed him on the spot.”
When Dysart finished Isabelle bore a frown, a single tear rolled down each cheek. She hated herself for having doubted Dysart, but her priority was the cleric’s safety. She embraced him, and sniffed softly for a moment. His eyes had grown glassy too. With a quivering breath, he rallied his spirit and stood.
Looking down, he spoke to her, “So, this cleric? I only need to know if she can tell me where to get esper plants. They must grow somewhere. This is where Sang Daemanus originated after all. I need to craft an oil to strengthen my magic. Then…only then can I truly set off with the hope to banish this hateful beast for eternity.”
“I’ll go and see for you. I’m sorry, but no one who is not a member of the Ordo et Crucis can be allowed to see her.”
He nodded. Isabelle’s armor clattered for a moment as she stood. The clanking of boots were all that remained after she vanished into the darkness.
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