Three weeks earlier.
Arantham dropped through the crack into the Reliquary of Timesus, the first mortal to step foot in the tomb in five hundred thousand years. A pair of yellow eyes blazed through the darkness. Arantham held his ground and the creature did not attack. “Why are you here” it hissed in Primordial. It seemed surprised when Arantham spoke back in the same incredibly complicated tongue. When he had finished, those yellow eyes were wide with terror and wonder. “Will you join me?” asked Arantham. “Yes,” said Maliwan, the Dark Naga.
The ritual was brutal and the Naga screamed in pain and delight as the rune of Arantham’s master burned blue on his scales. The sacrifice, one of the last of Arantham’s virgin slaves, lay atop the ancient alter of the gods, now defiled with his master’s power. Behind the ancient doors, Arantham felt another presence that did not speak to him. A spirit of some sort, no matter. Arantham had other concerns.
He stepped into the second chamber and felt the pull on his psyche from the primordial spiritwalker, Aesana the Formless. The primordial drew into his mind, flowing over his memories. She saw Arantham’s wife screaming in his arms, dying from the rotting disease that had consumed her. She saw his child, Renold, crying when he had fed his other child, Kale, the less sick of the two. She saw Arantham standing atop a mountain, cursing the gods and throwing aside his holy symbol. He saw himself performing his first ritual, cutting open the belly of a prostitute with loving precision in a two now turned to ash. None of this bothered him in the slightest. His worst memories brought him no fear, no pain anymore. He had only his goal. The spiritwalker saw it too and it frightened her. She released him and flowed back into her pool. His was not a mind she wished to devour.
Time was short, Arantham thought to himself. The Shieldbashers had already breeched killed three of his Covenant and soon they would breech Death’s Reach. His plan had to change and he had to move quickly. Feeling a burning heat, Arantham entered the next chamber._