Children of Netherhearth
Revisiting the xilix tomb
Still in the viceroy’s chambers, you asked him whether he wanted you to continue investigating the deaths of his wife and son. However, he didn’t want suspicion and the fear of a murderer on the loose to spread through the community on what seemed like very flimsy evidence, especially when there was no obvious motive for a murder. Also, he thought the three of you were very ill-suited to a discrete and subtle investigation. He told you to let the matter rest, and that when the work of rebuilding had eased off a little, he would ask the Knitting Circle to make some discrete enquiries.
Grindle mentioned that she had scanned his chains of office with her Ritual of Psychic Senses the day before. Quill was clearly angry about it, but confirmed what you already knew.
You persuaded him to let you accompany Stanley to the xilix tomb to perform the translations of the xilix script.
When he was asked about the temple in the humid cavern, the viceroy was absolutely steadfast in refusing you permission to explore it. Grindle pointed out that that was a dramatic change of heart compared to the last time the cavern was discussed with him (when he merely exhibited scholarly curiosity). However, he simply insisted that no good could come from entering it, and that there were things there that must stay buried (suggesting he knows more about it, but is not prepared to divulge any details).
The next day, the three of you and Stanley made your way to the xilix tomb. En route Stanley pressed for the true version of events in your encounter with the Matilde-thing; he then revealed that there had been a solar eclipse taking place on the surface world above Netherhearth at about the same time. He also mentioned that eclipses were associated historically with insanity, strange magic, and the appearance of terrible monstrosities.
At the xilix tomb, Stanley used the Ritual of Linguistic Comprehension to decipher the xilix script. Most of it was an epic poem detailing the achievements of a xilix matriarch called Naogizaga. The annotated map also suggested that a way to the surface world lay further along the “light ray tube” by ascending with the “Spiralling Artifice”.
Finally, there was a ritual inscribed that the text claimed would allow you to learn the “Thread of Opening”. Only Varian was capable of performing the ritual, as it required some magical threads only the xilix can create. On its completion, he gained perception into the Shadowlands, the realm of the dead that overlays the material world. Waiting there was the spirit of Naogizaga herself, along with some of her companions of the warrior caste.
Barely lucid, the long span of untold years having taken their toll, Naogizaga didn’t notice Varian’s presence at first. When she did, it sent her into a fit of outrage and then despair – it seemed that whatever she had been hoping and waiting for all those centuries wasn’t your group. She used her powers to manifest herself and the warriors in the material realm, and then ordered the warriors to attack. You defeated two of the ghostly xilix, before the third – who was clearly not trying his utmost in the fight – stood down and managed to calm Naogizaga. After further discussion between the two of them in the clicking xilix tongue, Naogizaga demonstrated the “Thread of Opening” which you were able to discern using your Ritual of Psychic Senses and which Varian should be able to replicate (should you ever find out what it’s for). They then faded away.
As you recovered from the experience, it occurred to Grindle that she should be able to adapt the inscribed ritual for human use with time, letting her see into the spirit realm.