The peace of the abandoned cathedral was splintered by the echoing tap of stone as a pebble fell from the ceiling, down, patiently tapping along a desecrated great fairy statue, making its way down the collapsed length of its form, askew and inert, to be slowly reclaimed by the blighted vegetation that seemed to cling to and choke every part of the room. Tangled and gnarled root reaching through, flowing over itself around over and under the forgotten hallowed stone of what had been once a place of devotion. Devotion hadn't left the cathedral. Not forever. It had simply found a new host of believers. Less soft than the last ones. Stranger, by some standards. But the master of the grounds was now Mahvik. As much as anyone was the master of the grounds. Really, among the lizalfos, it was a matter of who won the fights for dominance that day. Mahvik had won enough fights with enough prejudice that most did not think it prudent to contest him. He sat, curled into a heavy wooden chair as best it could accommodate his frame. Asleep, breath rose and fell with gentle rhythm, head rested on one armored hand. The other gripped the shaft of his weapon, itself seemingly dormant. The tyrant of the chapel was still, his domain quieted by force of presence. His eyes opened. No sudden shock, nor grogginess more familiar to civilized commoners. The man had switched from inert to arisen, like life breathed into a heretofore inanimate construct. Legs slid beneath him, digging into the dirt that powdered the old stone floors, and pushed his form erect. The day tried to glint light off the flat of the axe blade, but found no purchase. Instead, it settled to blare lazily off of the dull and tarnished armor that hung from his frame. A hardened body for a land that demanded strength from all. In this place, light itself struggled. “Glad you're up boss. I was getting tired of running into walls.” The voice was disembodied, echoed as though of the spirit world, but rang as though owned by a carnival barker. The rat scampered up his leg, finding easy purchase in the rough and angular plate marred by combat. Its own sight was rather limited, the vermin it was, and it preferred often to make use of his own. Mahvik hadn't ever questioned how it worked. Mahvik did not question. He answered. And folks answered him before he needed to question. His interrogations, such as they were, were sharp and frequently short. Let the souls of the damned ponder. His was to do and kill. Matted fur pressed against his neck as the tail corded around his throat. Tully perched here often enough that it was familiar, rather than worrying. He reached up and ran an ironclad finger along the spine of the rodent. “Still not an actual pet, boss. What's plans today?” Mahvik's eyes set in dull expectation on the splintered skeleton of the cathedral's door. Outside, clamoring had grown closer and closer. The approach was familiar. Tully could tell battle was coming from the way Mahvik's vision seemed to dull, strange shadows clawing ad the edges. The dark fog of the axe grew thick. Somewhere far off, they heard screaming. There were three graves dug in the hills, somewhere, reminders of a time when Mahvik had been misdirected and stolen from his purpose. Tully had watched him dig the graves and set the bodies within, practiced and careful. It had been a bizarre experience. Most things with Mahvik were, though. The door was battered open, needlessly broken down in standard form as the lizan warband surged in. The lighter and more nimble crawled along the walls of the cathedral. Their leader, Skigk, was a larger one, striding confident with his head turned to show the impressive scar he'd won from some past battle. “Fleshhhh is a blight of these landss, pinkling. We will sshow you.” The axe whipped up, bar-handle parallel to the ground. His knees bent as he waited for one of the smaller ones to charge. The smaller ones always came first. “I want the blade, men. Bring it to me.” The last word was punctuated as a long tongue flickered out into the air and flicked along Skigk's lower jaw. There would be the smell of reptilian flesh burning later that day, oily smoke pouring across the corpse-city as the sun followed its usual course. Tully wished they didn't try this so much.