Benedict has been murdered. I do not know how else to describe it, for it does not suffice to say that he merely fell in battle. We were set upon once more by those awful swine-men, deep within the tunnels. We were better able to steel our nerve against those hulking monsters, having already encountered them. York and Benedict held the line well against the monstrous assault, repelling and skewering the abominations, while Raziq eschewed martial prowess in favour of his occult art. As we fought against them, three strange robed figures emerged from the darkness behind the creatures. In the flurry of battle and flickering torch light it was difficult to see these eerie figures, though I for one struggled to believe that men were under the cloth. Grotesque, bulbous formations strained against the fabric of their robes from within, and patches of it were heavy with dampness. The hoods obscured the faces, which only served to make their presence more intimidating.
The battle was nightmarish. The swine-men bled prodigiously, and with every slash against them more blood was spilled upon the ground. Raziq continuously chanted in some alien tongue, using his dark art upon the enemy. I recall a swarm of scarabs exploding from the flesh of one of the swine-men, ravenously feasting on its skin until the creature collapsed and the insects vanished into dust. I watched as Benedict bravely lunged at one of the swine-men with his dirk, thrusting it deep into its bowels. The creature collapsed in a heap and we all took heart, when suddenly one of the hooded cultists effortlessly stepped over the carcass and reached for Benedict. I saw a bloodied, fleshy hand clutching a dagger emerge from the tattered sleeve of the robe and had no time to react as the cultist drove the blade into Benedict’s throat and then roughly tore it free, severing the soft flesh. Blood sprayed from Benedict’s neck and poured down his shirt as his scream came out as little more than a gurgle, and he weakly swiped at his assailant before falling forward. The cultist embraced him and began to drag him backwards into the darkness, and though I attempted to give chase I was stopped by the swine-men still battling York. Raziq made a motion as if he had intended to stop them, but a cultist spat a guttural sound at him as if it were a weapon, and suddenly Raziq screamed in pain as his arm swelled in size. Helplessly, I watched the cultists drag Benedict into the darkness they had emerged from. All our attempts to follow them were thwarted by the swine-men still assaulting York; our only choice was to stand shoulder to shoulder, and together York and I battled the two remaining beasts. Being so close to such abominations was horrible, and I still shudder to recall the splash of their blood on my own face as we fought them. But for all our horror and exhaustion we managed to avoid their powerful blows for the most part, and after what seemed an endless struggle we were finally able to slay those last beasts of nightmare.
After the battle, I insisted we give chase to retrieve Benedict, though York refused, demanding that instead we should rest and regain our strength. I was barely able to stand, the fight had exhausted me so, but I feared for Benedict’s soul- I worried that if one were to die in such an unholy place, their spirit would be forever trapped and out of the reach of the Goddess. I see now that such thoughts are folly, and have paid my penance for it, but the effect the darkness and those noxious fumes have on the mind is difficult to describe. I know that I am always within the reach of the Goddess, for I was able to use a healing prayer on Raziq’s arm to ease his pain. It did little for the swelling and the discoloration, though the arm slowly returned to its normal state during the rest of our exploration.
We were not able to travel for much longer, due to the queer air spoiling our food. Heavily salting our rations improves their longevity, if not their taste, but we were forced to return to the surface shortly after our battle. Benedict’s fate weighed heavily on my mind during our retreat, as it does now. With his death three of our number have now met cruel fates upon this estate, but it does not seem as if their deaths were worth much. Least of all the meagre coin Clarke pays. We have continued to wander the tunnels at Clarke’s behest, who insists that our task of exploring is not yet done, though I do not know what more he hopes to discover. Raziq has suggested that perhaps there is something we can do that would at least diminish the dark power in the sewers, if not eradicate it, though what it might be is unknown to him.
Raziq’s occult art is a disquieting thing to witness. I have always been warned that the draw of the occult is a terribly powerful thing and rightfully so, for you cannot throw a stone upon the estate without it striking some symptom of the elder Clarke’s corruption. Raziq conjures things, creating something where once there was nothing, and I believe his magicks to be cut from the cloth of the cultists’. He does practice with restraint and discipline, though such things still must be guarded against. I trust the Goddess will protect us in this regard, lest we all be consumed by it.
I have said a prayer for Benedict’s soul tonight, trapped as it may be within the sewers alongside the blood cult and those awful swine-men. It is becoming difficult to think on what trials further await us in those infernal warrens. My sleep has become fitful, for flashes of the violence and the blood spilled with it infest my dreams and wake me every other hour. I have been performing the Mending daily clear my mind, but such methods seem not to bring me the peace they brought before. Perhaps I must explore alternate solutions, so I may take proper rest once more.
May the Goddess grant me the strength to bear the unbearable.