The past week was wrought with horror and violence, but rather then despair I’ve stumbled into the first true freedom of my life.
The journey to Highgate was pleasant enough; Darion kept to himself and his blade as per usual. I spent the trip working on a Mechanika light that would bind to my head so I could navigate that caves where our mission would take place. Arriving in the city rang true with my memories of my expedition here as a child, Highgate had surprisingly remained essentially unscathed by the wars in the past decade. A short stop at the government building gave us a map of the caves to the south where disturbances and eyewitness accounts of Cryxian activities. The map turned out to be wildly inaccurate and ultimately useless.
The caves were only a days journey from the city and we camped in the woods that night before heading into the earth the next day. The long tunnel was segmented into a lower and upper shaft with short ledges, the first two days were met with nothing but more cave, but on the third day we ran into a dozen Cephalyx Drudge, brutish beast-men controlled by the Cephalyx horrors that I was now sure we would find deeper in the caverns. After dealing with the troop we climbed into the upper shaft in hopes to avoid any more of the creatures, but instead found ourselves in the presence of some of the mind slavers themselves which turned out to be rather fragile in comparison to their enslaved muscle. Continuing along the ledge we reached a part of the tunnel that was clearly manufactured, which led to an immense chasm with a molten floor with a stadium suspended from the ceiling by huge chains and linked to the walls of the crevasse by twisting stone steps. As soon as the two of us stepped onto the platform magical looking gates sprang from the ground blocking our passage back, and waves of Drudge raced down the other stairways blocking our passage forward.
The battle left both of us in poor shape, and I doubt either of us would have survived without the others aid, but we managed to beat back the Drudge and Darion slayed the Cephalyx Overlord and the remaining Drudge regressed back into their caves, and for the first time in the cave there was true silence, even the drone of magic pinging from the cave walls stopped, the gates dropped, and we slumped down amongst the corpses and rested.
Another day of uneventful travel lead us to a an inlet, all evidence indicated that it had been in regular use lately and a look inside some stacked crates revealed they had been using the caves to smuggle necrotite onto the mainland, and was more then enough evidence to prove that the rumors concerning the caves held truth.
The return held little excitement until the man that would single-handedly usher in the next chapter of my life appeared. Darion and I were walking to the mouth of the cave, and just when it came into sight we found ourselves surrounded by men in cloaks with rifles trained on us, I knew I was dead. Darion reached for his glave when a hulking shadow dropped from the upper ledge, picking the knight up with a massive mechanikal hand and running him through with his sword the figure tossed him aside like one of Cygnar’s finest men was nothing, and then he turned. Magnus, Right hand of the old king, the scourge of Cygnar, the most wanted man in all of Immoren, he stood merely feet in front of me. He looked old, much older then he looked on the posters or in our history books. The Mechanikal arm reached out to me and held my shoulder, and he told me he had been watching me, and that I was better then what I was doing at the academy, and most importantly he told me to come find him.
I woke up on the cave floor. It was night. I fumbled around for my key, and wound my headlamp so I might be able to see. Darion’s body laid on the ground lifeless, blue gel from from the cracked storm chamber in his armor was mixing with his blood and pooled around his body. I took the glave from his hand, someone might say it’s what he would have wanted, but I know better. He would have wanted a proper burial, even if it was in the field, with the glave as his headstone until and officer retrieved it and gave it to the next storm knight. More then anything he wouldn’t have wanted to be dead at all, he wasn’t a coward, but I can imagine he would want to give up his life simply as a chaperon to some kid warcaster that the academy didn’t trust well enough to sleep without getting into trouble. But, Darion was dead, and what he wanted didn’t matter anymore, sure, they would find his body in a week or a month, his family would cry, but I needed money, and the unique mechanika would fetch me a small fortune on the black market.
The next day I was on a boat to steelwaters, I knew the Steelheads functioned out of Ord, so I was heading north, to my freedom.