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To the Catacombs

The voices that echoed into Loki Gearheads cavern from above sounded like Sanderson and the business man who had come to watch Beryl’s lobotomy.  They were speaking with the leader of the Dobermans that had just attacked Beryl, who sounded confident, “The Cat is dead. Crushed, broken, burned.”

“Don’t underestimate heroes.” The business man said with a booming voice that echoed perfectly. “They aren’t dead till you’ve brought us his head…or heads in this case!” 

Sanderson spoke quietly, forcing Beryl to strain his ear forward to hear.  “There is no body if he is dead.” Beryl grimaced at his own memories and tried to suppress the grief that he felt at the words. He missed a little of the other man’s response, but he heard him suggest buying a cat from the nearby shop to use as bait.

“This cat killed its own kind.” Sanderson barked bitterly.  “It has no loyalty or honor.”

Beryl turned away, furiously biting back his desire to yell in protest.  His claws came out as he scratched at his dirty coat angrily.  The fabric ripped apart until one side of his coat no longer existed.  He was grateful that the men stopped talking and moved on after a few minutes. He had not quite caught anything else they had said though.  

Beryl picked back up the book and made his way to the dark cavern that smelled of death on the opposite side of the cave.  He had a feeling it would take him right to the catacombs.  
The scent of decay had originated from this tunnel and it was concentrated.    Arnold used his ears to rub against Beryl’s arm to get his attention.  Arnold looked at him with what Beryl would have called confused accusation.  “Beryl…how did they know about-”

“No Arnold, they don’t know about the cat you killed.”  That was over a decade ago and only his own people had known about that.  “They’re talking about the one I killed in Germany.”

“Again?!”  Arnold shouted in open disgust.  “After everything else, you did it again!?  Didn’t you learn anything?!”

“Yes, I did!”  Beryl replied angrily.  “The difference is I would do it again even now!”
Arnold seemed taken aback by that declaration, and then disgusted.

“I broke one of them out of a prison, but I didn’t realize how unstable it was.  We fled, but the pursuit drove them even more mad.  They were attacking anyone we came across.”  Beryl paused in his confession, the night’s events still vivid in his head. The cats wild eyes as he descended on unsuspecting victims and watchmen alike. “In the end, I defended the children and it turned on me.”

“You choose them over your own kind.”  Arnold’s disgust had softened to something more understanding, but he continued with a tone that was still disapproving, “I think I’d have stopped him from attacking, but wouldn’t have defended myself.”

“I wouldn’t have done anything differently,” Beryl said quietly.  He was a guardian. It was what he had discovered the last time he had come here, and he had protected those that needed it even though it had hurt him deeply to have to do it.

He continued down the passage that looked like it was about to come to another large cavern, only this time it was lined with ornate stone.  When he reached the end, Beryl came out to a grand domed area that stretched farther than Brunel Hall in every direction, and it was lined with thousands of coffins. 

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