With the Bloomer gone, the companions continued north towards the cemetery. The moon was lower now, but cast an even stranger light on this wintry land. They shivered, hoping that their quest might soon be at an end.
Gottschalk’s mind went to Ramzeus and Laurissa Austral- were they still under the sway of cultists, Demoncrats, and the zombie Public Lords? In any case, he hoped that the relic would be able to help them- at least Tamara had claimed so. She was quiet for now, assisting Sir Jave down the street. The young man still looked drained by the creature’s nefarious attack upon his youth.
Gorm had recovered though and took the lead. Luckily, the man had only been injured in the head- a place where barbarians were notoriously well-protected due to its thickness. “Me not like this place, Gott-chalk. That Bloomer might come back.”
Gottschalk shook his head. “Perhaps, but we couldn’t slay that undead thing without your mighty axe.”
Gorm nodded. He hoped to be able to use it again soon.
And that opportunity sprang up quicker than he had hoped. Down the avenue, outside the gates of where the cemetery was supposed to lay, the companions spied a crowd. It was obvious even in this strange light what they were. With dyed hair, bandanas on their faces, obstinate placards at their sides, and wine bottles in their hands, they could be nothing but cultists.
And even if they hadn’t been so obviously attired, Gottschalk could sense the false righteousness that they held, their unwillingness to notice the truth of the current situation beyond their warped Cult Doctrines. They yelled outside the gates, demanding to enter and destroy the apparent ‘Symbols of Hate’ within.
Gottschalk signaled to his companions to fan out. Gorm smiled, his axe now ready. It seemed like he hadn’t used it in weeks!
Gottschalk stopped the barbarian though. “We can’t fight them all; we need to find the Torrent Sword!”
Gorm’s eyes narrowed. “No more talk, Gott-chalk! Me want fight!”
Gottschalk was at an impasse: he had learned that there was no point in debating cultists, or even barbarians for that matter... unless you had no other choice, but he also knew there were too many standing in front of the gates for even Gorm to slay.
Sir Jave came up then. And though still weak, he added his advice, “When one cannot war or converse, one can always engage in subterfuge.”
Gorm grimaced at that and began to angle his axe towards Sir Jave’s neck.
Tamara intervened before the barbarian could strike though. “He means that if we can’t fight or talk, we can... sneak.”
Gorm nodded and lowered his weapon. It helped that the woman used various gestures to demonstrate what she meant.
The companions soon jumped over the far fence. The cultists still had not broken through the cemetery gates; it seemed that most lacked the upper body strength to do so.
But it also really didn’t matter. The place had already been defiled.
Despite Gottschalk not sharing kith or kin with this land, he was appalled at the destruction: statues toppled, tombs desecrated, and even bas reliefs defaced. It looked too like this outrage had been done long ago, though the graffiti left behind suggested that those who had done so shared many of the warped beliefs as those who were trying to get inside now.
It was no wonder that the dead did not rest so easily here.
Tamara came up to examine it too. “It never ceases to appall me. It’s never enough for cultists! They always push for more, to topple any remnant or reminder of human civilization that might remain! And then, they want to topple it again!”
“The sword?” Gottschalk knew that time was short.
“Yes, it’s in one of the mausoleums. We should-”
Tamara stopped in midsentence. She thought she saw something move from behind a gravestone.
Gottschalk thought he had seen it too, but shook his head in disbelief. He doubted it was a cultist- perhaps it was a trick of the eye? Suddenly, a phantom passed right into Gorm!
The three of them took a step back. If it could control the barbarian and make him do fell things, then they were in for some dire trouble.
Gorm’s eyes did glaze over, but strangely, he marched to one of the toppled statues. He stood upright and saluted it, like one would to a commanding officer. At that, some of the cultists at the gate shrieked and vaulted inside, seemingly possessed with fearsome power now that they had apparently seen some ‘Hate’ occur.
Of course, the only ‘Hate’ that Gottschalk could see came from the cultists as they made foul gestures and shouted profanities at Gorm. Still, the barbarian’s face remained unmoved, though theirs were vile masks,
Stranger yet, Gorm then calmly turned to one of the cultists, a young woman far shorter than him and said, “There’s going to be a lot more crying before we’re done, honey.”
All she could do was shriek back at him.
“As if by providence, this Neanderthal seems to have gotten a new spirit- fascinating!” said Sir Jave.
Gottschalk was fascinated by it too, though with all the cultists closing in on them now, he wished the old Gorm would return.
And use his axe.
Next week: The Hacks of Gorm, Part XXXIV!