The Dying Goddess "Well enough to get this close, priest," replied Tygg, and the dagger was in his hand, and slashing at the lizard-man's robes. He gave a cry and fell backward, and Tygg leapt at him. Sephar blocked a killing blow to his chest with his arm, which took the blade to the hilt. He howled in pain but Tygg could not press his advantage or even retrieve his blade, for the hands of thralls gripped him on all sides. He could have taken any one of them barehanded, but in that dense mass they felt no pain and pressed themselves ever tighter around Tygg. He was shoved and prodded and forced against his will for a long while to a precipice above a massive iron cauldron and pushed in. Nothing greeted him but the cold metal and he cursed as he stood up. "Of all the damned fool nonsense," he growled "what sort of death trap is this? What's coming? Some Deadlands serpent? A Mountain Lion from the Axe? Or are you going to just drown me in that filth you pass of as wine?" He received no answer but his dagger tossed in after him. It clattered on the iron floor. Tygg looked up and saw Sephar standing over him. The tattooed priest showed Tygg his butchered arm and smiled. Then he walked away. "And when all is past And come to dust The Goddess lives again." V -The Widow Fragments H ow long Tygg sat in that cauldron he did not know. The longer he sat, the less he liked it. His intuition was not wrong: some form of cruel death was waiting for him. And it followed that if they did not introduce him to it immediately, it was like to be some darkness they had to conjure. And one they had perfect confidence in. Returning him the dagger was proof of that. The cauldron was smooth as glass on the sides, and slick with some strange grease, or he might have climbed out of it out of sheer boredom. But Tygg accepted this. Sometimes it suited Tygg to be reminded of where his impetuosity could get him. It was a staple of his wisdom that he who threw himself into action first had the advantage of any others, but like all wisdom, it had its limits. Sometimes he who left into the breach first was only the first to discover why he never should have. Such was life. As Tygg brooded, he began to hear a sound. It was something like a hum, like the one that had met their entry into this unholy place. But this time the noise was different, This time it had a shrillness, a cacophony, where before hundreds of voiced were twisted to meet the same queer tone. This time it did not sound like human voices, but a torrent of screams and...something else. This time it sounded like something trying to break through onto reality itself. It unnerved Tygg like a thunderstorm unnerved a stag: he did not understand it, but knew it meant no good. The screams and the something else grew louder, and underneath Tygg heard a noise like the crunching of air itself. Tiny flashes of light burst in the air, making pockets of heat. The iron walls of the cauldron began to shake. Tygg held himself in a crouch to keep his footing, but before to long the air was bursting in his eyes and the cauldron broke and collapsed and Tygg could do no more than try to fall capably. He tumbled into the void. He came to himself a few seconds later and heard again the screams in the far off distance and the horrible inhuman sound underneath them. But also something else: "Is this how your plan was supposed to work, barbarian?"