The Rise of That Most Foul
From adventurers only read in books of old and clad in relics of a bygone era to wizards draped in the finest shimmering silks and discussing quandaries that would baffle most, the Market Square bustles with marvelous adventurers of every sort. These wondrous vendors and dynamic explorers that frequent the Square often attract many prominent figures from around Faerun, even those of an iniquitous nature.
It is here they stood, the two Malagents of our age. Their presence was not easily missed, even as they loitered amongst the Waterdhavian elite. One was a hulking thing crippled by disease and clad in battered armor which was wrapped in a cloak of writhing rats. The other bore religious scars that dripped with a vile ichor and brandished a staff constructed from ghoulish tongues.
Citizens and adventurers of every ilk began to flock towards the servant of Disease that brandished the Staff of Tongues. Some knelt before him. Some prayed at his feet for Talona’s Breath to pass them by unharmed. Others stood idly by and only watched, paralyzed with fear. From within the crowd, a man who fancied himself a Mage of Fate suddenly cried out, “Wormwood, take this in tithing so that She may know I respect Her power over me and that I might be spared from it!” and he threw platinum coins down before the servant. Others soon followed suit, and in only a few moments there was mound of coins at his feet.
In observing the regard given to the one called Wormwood, the crippled half-elf whom was enveloped in a cloak of writhing rats hobbled slowly towards the scarred servant. The crowd parted before the half-elf, whether out of respect or to escape the putrid smell of carrion that he trailed. He spoke through heavily labored breaths and cast his sullen gaze upon those gathered, though the words he would speak were intended for Wormwood himself. His voice was soft yet carried with it much weight as he uttered, “Great lords and… treacherous kings bowed before… me… and paid homage to… She of The Deadly Kiss. What lowly rabble… do you… attract here?”
Wormwood turned his own frightening visage towards the hulking cripple and replied, “Then, Horrid One, bring these lords and kings unto me so that homage might be paid before Her Malagent.”
“You think yourself… Her true Malagent?” The Horrid One questioned as he let out a coarse chuckle which sounded more like an infectious cough. Spittle flew from his morose lips as he then spoke, “I performed… glorious wonders in… Her name. I taught those… who would oppose Her… the true nature… of Her Power.”
An ominous air fell upon the square and the elegant fountain which enchanted its center began to spew and overflow with a sour sewage. Still, The Horrid One advanced closer and closer to Wormwood. With every step he took, his rage became more evident until it cascaded through his body and burnt the very stone under his feet.
The Mad Dog Wormwood’s expressions turned foul and dark. He hunched his broad shoulders forward in anticipation of the Horrid One’s advancing resentment. As he did so, Wormwood spoke in an elegant yet bitter tone, “It is by Her will that you have served most faithfully. And it is by Her will that I now serve. Your time has come and passed, yet your weak breath lingers and raises my ire. You are not to expect the same mercy as I may show upon the ignorant, Llykir Master of The House of Waiting Death!”
In this moment, The Horrid One closed in on Wormwood and circled round his side. He extended a gnarled three-fingered hand towards Wormwood and ran its fingertips gently along his shoulder. Wormwood neither flinched nor trembled as The Horrid One creeped closer, closer and whispered soft words in his ear, “Your claim over… me is false… Wormwood the Usurper. I have… ever been in… Her favor… and shall always… be.”
Wormwood replied, “No, you are not Her favored servant.” He then waved a hand to draw attention to the talons piercing The Horrid One’s ears and continued, “Such adornments of the ears are not for the likes of you any longer.”
The Horrid One sneered in contentment at Wormwood’s words. A wrathful tone came upon his fell voice as he uttered in response, “These talons… pierce my very soul… and are not… yours… to take. Much as the Book of Disease… shall not… be yours either.”
Wormwood lowered his rod of flesh and tongues halting The Horrid One’s movement. And to him Wormwood spoke with authority most high, “So be it. You grasp at tendrils of power which you wield not. You shall come to know your folly in full as the foul things within the sewer gnaw upon your bones!” He then grasped The Horrid One’s disfigured hand and threw him from the square with a might given unto him by a powerful goddess.
The Horrid One rose up from the cold stones slowly and allowed a wicked smile to form on his lips. He drew his mace with such a flourish that his cloak of stitched rats flew to the side and shrieked so loudly it assaulted the ears of any within the Market. The crowd scattered, fearful of the terrors that would inevitably occur, trampling anyone who fell while they fled.
And they were right to do so. For the battle that ensued was awesome and fierce. The two powerful Malagents wailed upon each other with weapons of ancient magic and shook the very earth with their prayers. The wounds inflicted were grievous as they both bore the powers of Death down upon the other, but eventually The Horrid One was driven back into the dark sewers of Waterdeep.
A trail of blood, ichor, and destruction was followed by a few adventurous wizards. They came upon Wormwood who was kneeling over a bloodied, heaving heap that was The Horrid One. A greasy miasma enveloped Wormwood and his hands began to shimmer into translucency. The wizards watched on as he reached down and began to rip the talons from The Horrid One’s ears. The Horrid One let out a bone chilling shriek as his soul began to peel away from his body. Wormwood then placed his knee upon The Horrid One’s chest for leverage and with a mighty heave tore the talons from both body and soul.
Wormwood was not finished, however. For debt was owed on behalf of The Horrid One’s failure. The new Malagent and Most Fatal Horror unsheathed a tainted dagger that dripped with a vile grease. He then pushed the dagger into the knuckle of The Horrid One’s thumb and severed it. The Horrid One let out another blood curdling cry as the Poison of Talona entered his veins.
Wormwood claimed his prizes and rose unsteadily to his feet, yet victorious. He stood over his writhing foe and stated, “I claim the Book of Disease next and all those within your temple who do not bow before Her Malagent shall come to the same fate as you.” He then turned and began to limp away.
The wizards who were present spoke among themselves for a moment seemingly baffled. One eventually worked up the courage to call out to Wormwood, “You will let him live?”
The Malagent suddenly stopped and turned to reply in a cold, quick voice, “The poison upon the blade shall make him suffer as none other has before. Then he will finally know Death.” After this, Wormwood again began to limp back towards the light of the City of Splendors.
The Horrid One, on the other hand, began to crawl through the filth of the sewers. The wizards watched him for a moment but dare not intervene. Eventually, he passed beyond their sight and into the darkness of a fate unknown.
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