The wound is old.
It’s at the core.
The sickness spreads.
Babu watch me on this earth. Let my sisters eat my bones.
Let me die with my teeth lodged in my enemy’s throat. Give me strength enough to crush the life from it before I join the Great Hunt.
I had though the rot could be cut out with a slice of the knife, but the sickness runs so deep. Deeper than Kaya. Deeper even than Erevu. Babu, something was controlling even the Uramali chieftain. Erevu and Kaya knew words that even the living ancestors did not. Words like ‘dragon.’ But Vek’d and Iestyn know these words. It must be a word of power because it is why the necromancers want Iestyn.
Iestyn. I thought we could draw the sick blood to the surface with her, bleed it out easy and leave the Uramali stronger. This illness has been digging into the very bones of the Uramali. It digs into the bones of the Greatmother herself.
Babu, it was not the newcomers the Greatmother was trying to warn us about. She is sick. I am disgusted to my very liver about what I have seen.
I sent Rube to fetch Gunjo. Your foolish daughter has pinned her hopes on a stunted dwarf and pack leader whose children were not strong enough to emerge from the ground. But it is my only hope that Gunjo is not with the necromancers. She wished to be Taya, she would enforce the laws. That is my hope.
Rube may keep running. This is not his fight. We are not his pack. He could keep running until he returns to Mji and he tells the others. He will live then. That is my hope.
Vek’d wished to be Taya. This is his fight. We are his pack. He will know better than most how strong the teeth of the Maw must be. He has not yet taken the vow, but he will be a good cousin. Let him join the ancestors on the plains of blood and bone.
Iestyn. I made a bad mistake. I brought her. Her husband will be widowed again before he is even married. I thought the sickness of the Uramali would be weak. I was wrong. I have killed her. Let her die in the living fire that Halisi made so that she will not be disturbed by the necromancers.
Babu, let me go to the plains where Iestyn goes if she dies here. I will clear the plains beyond of those who would harm her. I will defend her in death as I failed to in life. I will die strong enough to do that at least.
If Gunjo helps then the Uramali may yet recover and be stronger for it. If she is tainted too, then I fear the Uramali are lost and there are no innocents among them.
No matter. I will carve the sickness out however deep it runs.
I am a gnoll. I came to life with the flesh of my sisters in my teeth. I rose from the ground to grow strong and die. I will not die asleep!
Just . . . . please let my sisters eat my bones.