Way up in the Sky Dominion, a great fleet was forming. It had been taking over the various vessels that had been controlled by the Knights who protected the vast area. Even now, the fleet, as well as the knights, had dropped in numbers as the plague-ridden Mothership was starting to the poison the skies.
Deep in the Mothership was the lair of its controller, the Plague Fiend. For ages, his essence had rested in the bowels of the ship, waiting for a new host. Luckily, it had arrived in the form of a knight, who was now merged with the foul entity. He now worked to rebuild his army, using his powers to recreate his plague grunts, as well as the floating green blobs that some might call beholders. He had also created the living acid puddles in order to trip up any invaders.
Even now, he was busy trying to find out information from one of the knights they had captured. He was interested in one particular knight and had not seen hide nor hair of them since they had managed to escape from the Mothership. He had figured all this time that that knight would have been part of the assault. This prisoner was one of the high-ranking knights, one of the ones most likely to know what he wanted to know.
With them suspended over one of the plague vats, the fiend focused his singular eye on them, and asked, “Where is the one that was first here? Where is Percival, and why is he afraid to return?” He watched as the knight turned his head to look away from him. Not many of the knights could bare to look at the blob-like form. In fact, those who even got a glimpse into his lair tried to bolt, and those that did come in always tried to look away.
When the knight remained silent, the Plague Fiend just waved a pseudo-tendril, and said “Lower him in.” When he looked away from the knight, he heard the gloppy sound of the body being submerged into the vat. It was his process for making generals. The glop that comprised the Plague Fiend was the most concentrated form of disease in all of existence. Full emersion in it would destroy the body in minutes, corrupting the spirit of the being, and leave behind a form that was hideous if ever seen. The spirit would then be very willing to help the Plague Fiend in his cause.
At that very moment, the Plague Fiend saw some of his grunts entering. All had their gas masks on, which signified they were the middle level ones. A few had their knives herding another captive knight in, while a few others were carrying some items. As they approached, he addressed them, “What are all these items, and is this the next prisoner for interrogation?”
He then noticed the items that were being carried. Two were rune stones, each inscribed with a glowing blue rune. Those were powerful runes, as he knew they had the power to open a path to the underworld. The book being carried by another of the grunts was not something he knew of. It wasn’t something that overly worried him.
Before any of the grunts could answer him, though, the prisoner managed to leap away from his captors, and grabbed the book. It was obvious to the Plague Fiend that the knight thought he could use the book against him, and before any of his minions could stop him, the knight had opened the book, pointing the pages at him shouting, "Take this, you foul creature."
To the knight's obvious surprise, nothing happened. The Plague Fiend knew this would be the case, but he figured his minions hadn't known. Several of the grunts had grabbed the knight, while one of the blobs managed to hold him still with two spikes as another grunt snatched the book away. While the knight still looked stunned, one of the living acid puddles moved underneath him, and started to dissolve the knight.
As the captive knight's screams filled the chamber, the lead grunt started to explain what had happened. "Forgive us, your great pestilence, but those items had arrived up on the deck, and as we were bringing them in, that knight ambushed us. We had not been aware that he had gotten aboard, and we are increasing out patrol numbers."
The Plague Fiend nodded, realizing Skorne must have sent them. It was very possible that the fact that the Mothership stayed mobile might have messed up with the delivery of the items. He then looked at the grunt, and said, "At least you got them here before Skorne contacted. Are things ready for the depurification? "
Before the grunt could answer, the image of Skorne's armored head appeared in the room. It looked over at the items and nodded before speaking. "Good. The runestones and book have arrived. It is good I had taken the speed of your vessel into account."
The Plague Fiend nodded at the image of his master. “Lord Skorne. Yes, it is good you took that into account. It would have been to our disadvantage for those items to have fallen below to the ground.” Inwardly, the Plague Fiend thought that if the items had fallen to the ground below, they would have been unlikely to be found. He didn’t know what area of the world below they were over, but it was most likely someplace remote in one of the six realms on the ground.
He saw the image of Skorne nod. “Indeed. While there might have been a benefit in that, it would also have meant that those items were not in our control. If something isn’t in our control, our enemies could have it.” The Plague Fiend couldn’t fault that logic. He wasn’t exactly sure which of the land-based domains his mothership was flying over.
He was brought out of his thoughts when Skorne spoke again. “Now, while you prepare to start poisoning all the lands, weakening all the mortals there, I want you to make sure those items I sent are secured. The book will deal a serious blow to the Lich if obtained, and those runestones need to be kept out of the hands of any who could use them.”
The Plague Fiend understood now and keeping those items secure would be very important. It even made him wonder where Marker’s Javelin was at the moment. As he eyed the items, he asked, “And where is Marker’s Javelin, my lord. I hope it is somewhere very secure, or where it can be easily destroyed.”
He heard a demonic chuckle come from Skorne at that moment. “I had it placed in the Mountain Kingdom. No doubt it is placed somewhere where it can be easily destroyed, unless those items have extra enchantments on them. If that is the case, it may take time for them to be destroyed.” That last part made the Plague Fiend wonder if that was the case with the Book now in his realm as well.
After that was said, the Fiend looked at his minions and point a tendril at each item. "Place that Book in one of the shipyard's prisons, preferably one with a complex locking mechanism. Put that one rune stone in the Cloud Docks while the other one needs to be kept in the Mothership. I don't want them easily obtained, or it will be your hides. "
To his delight, all his minions nodded, and then bolted off. They all knew the price for failing him. If they were lucky, they would only get throw into the plague vat, their decaying corpses adding to its power. The unlucky ones got ingested by the sentient barrels that made up the Plague Golems.
Once they ran off, he turned his attention to Skorne and reported, "Your request is being completed. Hopefully, I will soon have the information needed to prevent another problem from surfacing." He glanced over at the one vat, which was now starting to shake, signaling the transformation happening inside to soon be complete.
He saw the image is Skorne look at the bar as well. "Good. The age of mortals will truly end this time. They will either be food, fodder, or slaves. I must now check on the others." With those last words, The Plague Fiend saw the image of his master disappear.
During that moment, those few minions who had remained had been raising the form out of the vat. Some of them momentarily recoiled, but they managed to finish the task of raising the figure out. Some were even ready to put on the special gear of a Plague General. It could be difficult, even for him, to gaze at the mutated form. Not every General looked the same under the mask. This one's eyes had moved to opposite ends of their skull, and the nose must have moved to the back of the head.
Once the General was in his gear, it got down on one knee. In a moment, it was answering the question asked before he was submerged in the vat. "Master, the one you seek had made his way to Sumner's Tower. He still hasn't returned, as far as I know."
That bit of news was troubling. Sumner was well known, and very powerful. If anyone would know how to defeat Skorne, it would be him. The Plague Fiend could access the memories from his human host. He would need to be sure the Spire was more fortified than ever. If he didn't, they might end up falling a second, and more permanent time.