The sun was just beginning to crest the peaks of the Forinthry Cliffs when High Clerist Fykeric Bliem finally reached his destination: the Forinthry Ossuary. Calling for his mount to halt, he sat in silence and reflected for a moment on the last few days and their trials. It had been a long and trying journey from the North, and it would have been longer still were it not for his Lord’s intervention. He gave his thanks to the god of chaos, and then regarded the temple with a dour expression on his face.
Situated against the base of a chain of steep cliffs near the border of the Wilderness, the Forinthry Ossuary was more of an eyesore than a temple, or so Fykeric thought. The temple had been built long ago on the edge of the cliffs several hundred feet above, but a rockslide had caused it all to come crashing down, burying it beneath tons of rubble. Where it would have remained buried for centuries more, Fykeric told himself, had the Emissary not shown us the way.
Fykeric felt his skin crawl. Emissary? More like a deceiver, he often caught himself thinking. Using my brothers and sisters as if they were mere tools at his disposal. He had appeared to them several months ago and introduced himself as Rekhyt, an emissary of Zamorak, before going on to proclaim he had been sent by their Lord to guide them and bring about a new era of chaos. Several monks had been incredulous at first, Fykeric being one of them. A few of them went so far as to demand evidence, whereupon they spontaneously combusted. Needless to say the Emissary became the de facto leader. Fykeric, as the most senior member of the order, was selected to be the next High Clerist since their last leader had been reduced to piles of greasy ash, alongside his rivalling candidates.
A few days later the Emissary did as he'd promised and guided them to a buried temple deep within the Wilderness. There he relayed what lay beneath the earth and how it was vital to the design of Zamorak. The order spent weeks unearthing the temple, while the Emissary, Fykeric noted, was either holed up in his own tent or gone entirely for days on end. When they finally cleared the rubble, the Emissary immediately went in and selected the least damaged chamber as his own before once again relaying to them how Zamorak wanted the temple, or what was left of it, restored to its former glory. The monks, fearful of displeasing their god or the Emissary, set about their project. Fykeric, however, did not yield quite as easily. He began his own investigation and studied the temple and Rekhyt. What he uncovered was… unsettling to say the least.
After several weeks of study, Fykeric stormed into the Emissary’s office and accused him of blasphemy, manipulating his people, and above all else, being of the Mahjarrat. The Emissary looked furious; for a second, Fykeric feared for his life, but the fury in Rekhyt's eyes vanished, replaced by a sinister gleam. He spoke, confirming the accusations to be true and even commended Fykeric. Unfortunately, that information in the wrong hands could ruin his plans, so he had to do away with the troublesome cleric. The last thing Fykeric remembered was praying to Zamorak for protection as the Emissary spoke the words of magic. He felt himself falling as the flames licked at his flesh.
Fykeric woke and, much to his amazement, discovered he was alive and somewhere frigid. Suddenly, he could hear the voice of the Emissary speak to him in his mind. The chilling voice said it was now Fykeric’s master; that, while his god had saved him from one fate, he would suffer another; and he would have to do what it demanded of him should he want to live: to keep watch over the area he was in and inform him of anything noteworthy that occurred there. The voice then left him. Fykeric later discovered the area was the sacred site for the Mahjarrat.
After an unknown period of time, Fykeric, who had defied his master in more ways than one, namely by surviving and doing his task, met the Mahjarrat Kemses through a bizarre chain of events. They got off to a rocky start, even though Fykeric knew of the relationship between his master and Kemses. He had hoped to learn why his master no longer responded to his messages, something his master never did. It turned out his master was missing and had been for several days. Worried more about what this could mean for his people rather than Rekhyt, Fykeric decided to act against his orders and return to the Forinthry Ossuary.
Fykeric was roused from his deep thoughts by the impatient whinny of his horse. Chiding himself for wasting valuable time, he guided his horse toward the entrance to the temple where a small encampment of tents could be seen. He wasn’t sure what to expect once inside. Nothing good.
The interior of the Forinthry Ossuary was a mess: inebriated monks littered the main hall; shelves and their contents had been cast to the floor, forgotten; a chaos altar sat opposite of the entrance, unused, with incense oil spilt across its surface. Fykeric blanched with anger at the scene. Never in all his time with the order had his people acted like with such profane behavior. The mere sight infuriated and frightened him. Then again, he reprimanded himself, they have been leaderless and no doubt at a loss without the proper guidance.
As he forced himself to calm down, Fykeric noticed how one of the monks was sitting away from the others, ignoring them in their drunken stupor. She was studying something held in her hands. Looking more closely, he recognized her as a former pupil, one of the few who had approved of the Emissary’s presence, and how she had openly spoken out against the decision to name himself High Clerist. The thought of speaking with her left a bad taste in his mouth. With time running short, however, he had to do more than just consider his options.
“Sister Rosaline.” Fykeric addressed her in a polite tone, as was customary of a man in his position. When she didn’t respond, he repeated himself. This time it elicited a glance in his direction. If she was surprised by his sudden appearance she didn’t show it.
“Ah, High Clerist Fykeric,” Rosaline said coolly. “I thought you were dead.” After closing her book, she gave him a cursory glance. “You look well for a dead man.”
“Now isn’t the time for jokes.” Fykeric shook his head in exasperation. “I’ve returned because of the situation with the Emissary.” At his words Rosaline grew more attentive. He pressed on, curious of her reaction. “I haven’t had contact with him for several days now. You and the others haven’t either, I assume?”
“No, not at all. We thought he might be on another one of his trips at first, but he... never returned.” Her voice wavered, her eyes wide with panic. “You don’t think he is—”
“No, I don't,” Fykeric said reassuringly, noting how worried she was becoming. “but whatever happened to him it can’t be good.” For any of us. Rosaline showed her agreement with a nod, her face etched with concern. It suddenly dawned on him how much she must really care for the Emissary, though though she spoke before he could press the matter.
“What do we do?” Fykeric went silent. He wasn’t quite sure if he could trust her, nor would she him, but considering the circumstances…
“I know of a ritual. It will show us where he is and what condition he is in, but little else.” He hesitated before adding further, “The ritual requires two people, and since the others are—” She cut him off there.
“I will help you, High Clerist,” Rosaline interrupted, her jaw set firmly. “We should begin immediately if we want to find him.” Fykeric nodded as Rosaline stood, the book still held in her hands. Almost reverently, he noted.
“Meet me in his chambers. We will conduct the ritual there.”
As Rosaline headed for the Emissary’s chambers, Fykeric felt something cold touch the base of his neck. He looked over his shoulder to see who, or what, had done it, but there was nothing there. He shrugged it off as his nerves, but as he followed after Rosaline, he couldn't help but think it might have been his lord trying to tell him something.
Fykeric and Rosaline spent the next few hours in the Emissary’s chambers preparing for the ritual. They procured most of the spell’s components from the Emissary’s personal store, though Fykeric was forced to fetch an empty basin from the main hall. As far as he could tell the other monks were still as drunk as they had been, so the chances of them interrupting was unlikely. He returned to find Rosaline acquiring the last component: a jug of wine, blessed in Zamorak’s name.
“Are you sure it will work?” she asked after finishing the rites of blessing. Though speaking sternly, Rosaline’s eyes betrayed her true feelings: concern, disdain, and guilt.
What happened between two while I was gone? Fykeric mused. He remained quiet for only a moment before answering, “It will work as long as we’re not interrupted. I have faith in Lord Zamorak.” Rosaline shot him a derisive glare and said nothing. “We’re ready to begin. Pour the blessed wine into the basin.”
The basin was positioned in the center of the chamber. Rosaline was on one side, Fykeric on the other. The only source of light was a lone candelabrum that sat off to the side. The light it shed danced off the wine as it was poured into the basin. When the last drop left the jug, Fykeric bowed his head in silent prayer. Rosaline followed suit, though she cast a glance toward her belongings when she thought Fykeric wasn’t watching. The room grew hushed but then Fykeric broke the silence with the rite.
“O Great Zamorak, Lord of Chaos, grant us the strength to discern the one we seek.” He lifted his left hand above the basin. “Reflect in this wine, blessed in Your name, the location of him.” There was a flash of silver, a slight intake of breath. “With my blood, I beseech you, my Lord,” he said in a hushed voice, “show us Ptolemos.”
Silence filled the room, broken only by the dripping of Fykeric’s blood. Rosaline watched the wine with bated breath, Fykeric likewise. If the ritual worked, the wine would reflect to them the location of Ptolemos. If not...
The passing seconds felt like hours. They saw nothing in the wine.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
“There!” Rosaline hissed.
An image appeared in the wine: a figure, larger than a man, came into view. It wore unmistakable red robes. Fykeric heard Rosaline gasp, but his attention was too focused on the figure in the wine to spare her a glance. The thing had dark skin, noticeable even in the dark room it was in, and there were yellow gems embedded in its forehead. Are those horns...? Fykeric questioned silently. That has to be him. Ptolemos. The ritual would not lie.
The wine erupted from the basin without warning, eliciting a shriek from a surprised Rosaline. Fykeric fell back, too stunned to speak. His mind reeled with questions. What happened? Where was the Emissary? And why did the statue of Zamorak outside look so much like him? He struggled to collect his thoughts and push himself up from the slick floor. When he did finally managed to do so, a wide-eyed Rosaline greeted him, gesticulating wildly.
“Did you see? It was him! The Emissary is alive!” Rosaline said, practically shouting. The fanatical gleam in her eyes unnerved him. He was suddenly reminded of the cold sensation he felt earlier. Something compelled Fykeric to ask his next question.
“Tell me, Rosaline. Did something happen between you two while I was gone?” The question caught her off guard. She didn’t seem to know how to answer at first, her skin flushing a deep red.
“I don’t see how that concerns—”
“You know something, don't you? What is it?” When she didn’t answer, he insisted again, to no avail.
That’s when he became aware of something. The knife he had used to cut his hand wasn’t on his belt. It must have slipped off as I fell. A quick scan of the floor showed it wasn't there. A third cold chill ran down his neck. He looked to Rosaline just as the knife slid between his ribs.
He didn’t feel anything at first. He glanced down at the knife and then back at Rosaline. Only when his blood began to ooze from the wound did the pain set in. It started as a dull throb before becoming a searing pain. His legs gave out beneath him, and he toppled backward against the wall, clutching at the knife leeching away his life. His hands trembled and his skin gradually grew ashen.
“I've always thought you were too nosy for your own good.” Rosaline grinned wickedly. “It’s a shame, really. You could have been so useful to him... to us.” She tutted and shook her head. Fykeric was having trouble concentrating. His eyelids were so heavy…
“Why?” His voice was weak, barely a whisper. Rosaline eyed him before shrugging.
“I guess it doesn't matter. You will be dead soon enough.” She crept close to him and kneeled down, putting her mouth close to his ear, and whispered to him Ptolemos’ plan. When she finished, Fykeric' skin was even paler.
“No, he can’t. It's—”
“Impossible?” she interrupted. “Nothing’s impossible for him. All he needs is time.” A sickly sweet smile played on her lips. “Time, and perhaps a little effort from his most faithful follower.” Fykeric’s sight grew blurry. One minute Rosaline was still crouched next to him, but when he blinked he found her beside her belongings. Both his and her eyes fell on one item in particular.
“This book is only the beginning. Outlined within it is the key to my master’s plans.” She brushed her fingers over the cover delicately as Fykeric let out a ragged gasp. Rosaline flicked her gaze to him. “Perhaps, once he’s succeeded, things will be different between us.”
“Don’t do this...” Fykeric felt his mind slipping. Darkness engulfed his vision, his limbs having had already gone numb. He drew one last breath before his body sagged against the wall.
Rosaline watched the High Clerist carefully, and then nodded to herself when she saw his chest had stopped rising. She had much work to do and little time to do it, and staring at a dead old man would accomplish nothing. She turned on her heels and navigated her way through the Forinthry Ossuary just as the sun reached its zenith. Once outside, she took in the air and smiled.
High Clerist Rosaline, she thought, grinning. That sounds good.
Ptolemos was not in a good mood. In fact, for several days following his 'escape' from Arachnea’s dungeons, he had felt nothing but frustration. The chaos monks hadn’t even tried finishing the restoration of the temple ('Zamorak' had punished them for their indolence), his allies had been just as lazy(Ptolemos made a mental note to pay them a visit later), and now he couldn’t even get rid of the damned bracelet Arachnea had put on him. Everything was against him, it seemed.
Then she appeared with the key to his plans held in her hands.
High Clerist Rosaline. Ptolemos recognized her immediately as one of the few monks who hadn't objected to his guidance all those months ago. He recalled how he'd first thought it suspicious but later dismissed the idea since it had little to do with him. She can believe in whatever god she wants just as long as she serves me.
Upon his return and her sudden appearance, Ptolemos cast away his thoughts and listened to her tale. She described to him how she had sought him out upon learning of his capture, her disposal of the meddling cleric Fykeric, and her attempt at rescuing him from Leila Kala Aren (which had failed, obviously). But most importantly, she told him of her acquisition of the book.
Ptolemos was impressed, if only because she was human—and a woman at that—yet there was something else to her. Something in her eyes and the way she held herself had reminded Ptolemos of, well, himself. He decided then and there to adopt her as his first follower, as one might adopt a pet in hopes of molding it into their likeness. She had no qualms; in fact, she let him know just how immensely pleased she was with the whole arrangement. He suspected it had something to do with her pride; after all, she alone held this privilege.
So it was the two started their work, deep within the Forinthry Ossuary. One that, if successful, would change Gielinor forever...
Elsewhere, Fykeric opened his eyes.