It took a full day for Sister Fallowmoon to recover enough to stand up and walk. The priestess was fuming at the betrayal of Sister Mortimia, and was all for re-animating her bones when Sister Shadowlife ordered her not to. It was uncertain how long the lich's power would linger in the area, and she felt it best not to raise any undead until they were much further away.

Throughout the day, Lydith and Gameth busied themselves by burying the remains of the dead found in the caverns. In the morning after the lich had left, the aged warrior had cautiously re-entered the caverns in search for the elusive cultist. He did not find any sign of Yellow Sky, or his spiders, but he did find remains of what were most likely the Inner Sect priestessess and their undead, although by then it was hard to tell which was which. Lydith had insisted on the mass burial while Sister Shadowlife watched on with a bemused look.

When they were finally ready to leave, Lydith turned to Gameth, her concern written in her face. "Do you think Yellow Sky made it out alright?" she asked the aged warrior. Gameth could not answer her, but Lydith was not expecting one either, so they just left it as that.

It was only later while they were passing through the dark forest when he noticed some movement beyond the trees. He thought he made out the hulking shape of a bear followed by a few spiders just as it disappeared into the gloom. Turning to Lydith, the warrior found himself smiling. "The cultist is alright," he told her confidently. "Aye, girl, he's alright."

To his own astonishment, he actually felt relieved.

Aunt Daedra knocked on the door of Mother Darkfriend's study and was promptly told to enter. The Convent Mother was back at her desk, writing with her goose quill pen.

"The priestesses closest to Sister Mortimia have all been rounded up, dread mother," she informed Mother Darkfriend.

The Convent Mother continued to write as she answered. "Tell them that they have been re-assigned. They are to leave immediately for the Isle of Sydrian. Karn will accompany them to ensure no mishaps occur."

Aunt Daedra frowned over this. The Isle of Sydrian was a windy, shrub-filled rock off the western coast. Apart from a tiny fishing village, the only other inhabitants on the island were the priestesses who maintained the underground sanctuary of catacombs that housed the royal dead of the House of Sydrian. It is said that the tombs were built by the dwarves centuries ago to honor the memory of Sydrian the Wandering King and his family, and are so deep underground that priestesses were known never to see sunlight for months at a time. Not that the rain-covered island had much sun in the first place.

Mother Darkfriend looked up from her writing. "You do not approve, Sister Daedra? You know as well as I that we cannot risk the possibility of any one of them being a spy for the Inner Sect. In the days past, they would have been simply killed, or chosen as substitute sacrifices to Krypta. Compared to that, this is a more lenient solution."

Daedra bowed her head submissively. "Yes, Mother Darkfriend." As she turned to leave, she had a slight hesitation.

Mother Darkfriend detected it immediately. "Yes, Sister Daedra," she asked. "What is it?"

"I-," began Daedra, faltering a bit before resuming, "It's about the girl Lydith, dread mother. One of the last promises I made to Lydia was that I'll not expose her daughter to the ways of Krypta, lest she be doomed to share the same fate as she did." She looked down to the floor reflectively. "I feel like I've betrayed my closest friend."

Mother Darkfriend stared impassively at her for a while before answering, "The will of Krypta is higher than the promises of mortals like you and I, Sister Daedra. Krypta determines all what we do, all whom we meet, all whom we influence. Even Lydia will understand this. How is it possible for you to betray her when you both have pledged to serve Krypta unquestioningly?"

Sister Daedra nodded slightly and turned towards the door again. As she opened it, she noticed the undead lazari Karn staring at her with its glowing red eyes. Looking into those eyes, she tried to imagine if there were truly thoughts of agony echoing in the undead's skull, as Lydia had continually told her about. Hearing nothing but the sound of her own breath, the priestess broke her stare and stepped out of the room, closing the door behind her.

The End