This was a close vote but following the wolfhounds won out by one!
Or, here’s a recap: You and a group of other outcasts, who have been ostracized due to various illnesses, have decided to enter the abandoned city of Calla Sadum in hopes of finding cures to your ailments. Most of the group were swallowed into a pit before ever reaching the gate. You, with your leprosy, and a heavily burned man named Angus, decided to enter the city through an aqueduct system his granpap used to rave about. The Aqueducts got you in all right, but you were dropped into an underground city full of walking skeleton creatures. It doesn’t look like you’ll find any cures down here, but maybe you can help the rest of the group. You’ve decided to follow a pack of wolfhound skeletons in hopes of finding the other outcasts.
Let’s see where your choice leads!
Outcasts Option Ab. Follow the Wolfhounds
The underground city’s full of skeleton creatures wandering around as though living regular lives. You see bird skeletons hopping around on the roof of a nearby house, pecking at the lichen like growth covering the tiles. One decides to fly off only to realize after jumping that its bone wings don’t hold it in the air. It clatters to the stone below and bursts into individual bones.
“Ooof,” Angus mutters and then he sucks air in past his teeth as the bones rattle on the stone for a moment and knit themselves back together into a bird.
You move on and see two ferret skeletons working to hang a sign over the doorway of another house by standing on each other’s shoulders.
You and Angus don’t wait around to see one of them tumble to pieces on the ground. The sight of one skeleton pulling itself together was enough.
The hounds are easy to follow as they create a kind of wave among the other creatures. Everything gives them a wide space in which to pass. Finally, after an interminable amount of time, they pass below the city by taking a staircase underneath what looks like a castle.
Below, you and Angus pause in the darkened hall of the stairs because they open into another cavern. This one doesn’t have buildings or skeleton creatures. Large pits dot the floor, highlighted by small fires burning at their rims.
Angus grasps your arm. He stares at the fires and runs his free hand down the puckered scars on his face.
You nudge him with an elbow and point to the wolfhounds.
They’re circled around a pit to your right. One of them holds a bright gold goblet in its mouth while the others let down a ladder into the pit. A moment later, the Commander’s dark head pops up at the rim. He looks around, hesitating at all the skeleton hounds watching.
Several hounds growl. It makes a hollow tone like their bones are rattling against each other. The Commander needs no further encouragement to hurry up the ladder.
The hound with the goblet approaches and lifts its chin, offering the golden cup with a toothy grin.
Although the Commander tucks his hands behind his back, there’s a gleam in his eyes. The firelight catches the sheen off the gold as the hound lifts its head higher and growls at him.
He raises his hands and still hesitates, but then licking his lips, he accepts the goblet and caresses the gold at the rim.
The hounds hum. They sit back on their haunches.
Angus’ grip on your arm grows tighter.
The Commander drops the goblet and the nearest hound catches it before it clatters to the floor. Even from where you stand, the look of shock on the Commander’s face is clear. He shudders. You blink as his face becomes indistinct like you’re seeing it in a cloudy mirror. His skin floats away, dust on a cold breeze. For a moment his human bones are visible but then he hunches over and disappears within the group of hounds. When they back away, there’s a baby hound skeleton sitting with its head cocked to the side, clearly confused by its surroundings.
“Is that—?” Angus chokes.
“Commander?” hollers a voice that bounces around the cavern. “Commander, you there? You all right?” It’s a high-pitched voice.
“The blind boy,” you whisper.
The young hound glances down into the pit the Commander climbed from and gives a whine with that same tilt to his head. A thinner adult hound nudges it away with its snout and begins to play with the youngster by jumping over the smaller pits.
“Commander?” calls the boy’s voice but by this time, none of the hounds pay it any attention.
“We can’t leave him,” Angus says.
You have to agree. Being blind, the goblet might not lure the boy as it did the Commander, but then what would the wolfhounds do? If someone doesn’t accept the gold, what’s the alternative?
“We could try to capture the hounds in a pit?” Angus suggests even though he’s still rubbing a thumb over his facial scars. Surely luring the hounds into a pit would force you close to those fires.
“We could sneak the boy out?” you counter.
“What if he’s not the only survivor?”
You exchange looks and then Angus gives a shrug. The hand still holding your arm trembles, but he’s game for whatever you think best.
Ab1. Capture the Pack?
Ab2. Sneak People Out?
You’ve succeeded in finding the rest of the group! Leave your vote in the comments regarding how you’d like to proceed in attempting to save them. We’ll be back next Thursday to see how this adventure ends.
Until then, blessings,