He Who Lies left a hundred million curses left unsaid as Arlyne charged forth into the thick, mist-laden village. Damned he had thought he would be, and damned he was as he set a foot forward to chase after his overzealous companion, unwilling to call out for fear that some vagabond might be warned of their approach. Thankfully Arlyne stopped ahead by the home before the village square. The spearman could see many figures, including the caftaned steppe-dweller crowding the mist and his mind screamed warning after warning. He had chased the horror long enough and seen beings and shapes malevolent enough in the past to recognize the likes of wraiths and demon-dreams when he saw them. That they were there at all spoke great volumes as to what had happened here; doubtlessly the villagers who lived merely waited for their passing to be eased. To enter such a place invited undue attention, something which the tall Northerner's dark companion and their new acquaintances seemed determined to wrench free of the village and beat to death before messily devouring it. And so when Arlyne gestured at him to take the long path around before charging headlong into the village proper, He Who Lies simply let him go in the same manner one allows another to drink fetid water.
The time ahead of them was now wasted and filled with dire entities of foul and degenerate will, so there was no longer any need to fret over the inconsequential matter of staying out of trouble. They and it were now well acquainted and would be spending a great deal of time with one another, and in the case of He Who Lies it currently waited to greet him around the corner of the house where Arlyne had pointed him. And so he set off where his companion had suggested, turning to the back of the dwelling. There, a low dug-out earth pit of stone cobble and wood. Darkness and heavy smoke poured from the home's second threshold there, and He Who Lies kept careful watch of it as he passed. The mist here had a red tinge to it, and it seemed to surge and force its way into his mouth and down his throat where it lingered, heavy and thick. He felt the thing's presence before he saw it, as he had last time - a feeling of intense vertigo, and the illness of his gut as though he were falling from a great height. A rail-thin figure in his peripheral vision let loose a rattling, rasping inquiry.
He turned and answered it, as he had the time before. Despite the figure's close proximity, the response was shouted - not in anger, but as though the recipient was a great distance away. He Who Lies felt as though he were shouting down into a vast chasm. A small corner of his mind told him that his answer was not a wise one, that he should not speak as he did to the entity which stood before him, but he said it anyway.
There was nothing else he could do.
YOU SHALL NOT FEEL LOSS FOR THAT WHICH YOU LEAVE UNUSED
It left him on the ground, crimson essence dribbling from his mouth, as it had the first time. The Northerner reached up to his lips, but his fingers came away with naught but ash. His cowl was still firmly in place. The feeling still lingered in his gut, and he briefly wondered if he had truly seen the Haggard Lord again - he gripped at the ground, clenching at the dirt beneath him before finding the shaft of his spear once more and rising. He turned back to the threshold, where wisps of cloistered smoke scattered into the air as he lay eye on them. He shouldn't tarry near such a place. He raised the haft of his weapon and looked about - the plantlife appeared to be dead, although he supposed it could have been before he arrived. Another thing he had not been paying attention to...! The soil of the place did not lie though. The dirt still had the look and smell of dirt, and so it was. Had the Haggard Lord truly been present, He Who Lies would be walking on salt flat...And then he remembered that he was in the middle of a mist-filled village plagued with demon-dreams and wraiths, trying to figure out how to remove his companions from the place.
He took a step forward, realized he hadn't taken a breath since he had first fallen, and inhaled. The smoke and fog filled his throat and lungs again, but the red mist did not return. Promising. The spearman hurried forward once more, looking towards the far end of the dug-out. There, he saw a darkened figure obscured by mist, laying in a chair under the shade. He looked to be dressed in fine blue cloth, but he was gaunt, with eyes untouched by light or sun. He watched smoke and embers pour from the rear of the home with apparent disinterest.
"You there - are you well? Are you able to walk?" He Who Lies asked the man as he drew near, leaning over slightly and speaking down into the dug-out space. He felt a sense of deja-vu, and his gut roiled, but he steeled himself and resisted the urge to fall to his knees in terror. This man was not the Haggard Lord. He looked up at He Who Lies, his neck popping and crackling like burnt wood coming apart at the press of a poker. His eyes, rimmed in darkness, stared mindlessly. His jaw flapped open to utter a wheezing curse. Trailing embers coursed from the twisted thing's maw, falling to the tiled ground where they pooled as darkness and began to take on the shape of a chitinous, darkened creature.
He Who Lies calmly eased the villager's passing and then put out the embers of the fire he started, darkness framing the light in the strangest of manners. He then rounded the side of the home and observed many men and woman standing about a nearly-engulfed home across the road, the burnt-out dwelling devoid of flame but with timber glowing hot and heavy smoke whirling about, a dark figure pleased with the offerings below. The pilgrim from the steppes stood there with the men and woman, with a man writhing at his head at something that was stuck there. Turning his head just-so, He Who Lies then observed Arlyne rushing for the group. Yes, everything appeared to be as he left it - village mostly gone, villagers either dead or weird, pilgrim (and some change) serving as distractions, and Arlyne charging headlong into something in an inadvisable fashion. The only thing missing was the horde of soldiers or monsters.
He then heard a hissing sound. Glancing down, the spearman saw a horde of indescribable, shadowdy figures culminating underneath the home. He took a measured step away from the dark recess built underneath the dwelling as a thin, clawing shape lashed out only to shiver and bend against the light as though merely an odd flame-cast shadow. Glancing back at the pilgrim, he could see the rest of the men and woman, oddly listless, had turned to face the steppe-dweller and appeared to be speaking to him. Their eyes were rimmed with the same darkness as the one before.
He Who Lies charged across the road, spear readied. There was nothing left in this place that remained to be saved other than themselves - the time for humoring his companion and their newfound compatriots had reached its end. He would drag the lot of them from that dark, burning and cursed place by their hair if he had to.