Ramirez headed back down the corridor and joined the rest of the group, ensuring he became visible when out of Laure's sight.
"There's a whole tribe of heretics down there, with a brood of demons and their spawn. Spot of good luck with the heretics, though: it doesn't look like any of them are properly armed. Six to eight lust demons, the same amount of tiny demons, and around twenty humans. They oughtn't be any trouble for a half-competent party."
Laure nodded. "Ramirez, Olivia, and Theresa; you shall deliver the Saint's justice unto the heretics. No one escapes." Theresa's face seemed to almost light up at the orders. She really enjoyed her work. "Vivien and Maryse, you shall tend to our wounds. The rest of you are with me, and we shall deliver His justice unto the Demons. Prioritize your targets - I do not want a single heretic or Fiend escaping their deserved punishment. His will be done."
"I take it there are no questions?" The group got the impression that Laure was asking as a formality and not out of genuine interest. Still, better speak up and upset her now, than wait and upset her later.
Bad posters don't get to have nice things.
This is a bit shittier than I had hoped and rushed but I want F again.
The battle was relatively quick and simple - who would have thought unarmed, untrained, civilians taken by surprise would be little match for armed and well trained soldiers?
Unsurprisingly, the Incubi and Succubi seemed to focus their efforts on Laure and Theresa, although they didn't manage to do much harm. Laure was a firm believer in fire curing all follies - both literally and metaphorically.
Theresa seemed to really enjoy her work, as her yells suggested, although she got really tired since she was breathing heavy and sweating a lot.
Ramirez, of course, knew better. Monsters have a tendency to be good at recognizing their own kind. She probably wasn't Horned Society, but she was definitely nuts. Probably great in bed, too. Praise the Saint! Deus vult!
When the fight was over the heretics and their abyssal masters were dead - many burned by Laure's fires (many of the Cuthbertines were used to the smell of charred corpses, but Maryse and Vivien still seemed uncomfortable. None of the group was that hurt, besides Oriel, although Theresa was still out of breath (but in a very good mood) and Laure had her dress shreded by an Incubus' claws and was now wearing Olivia's tabard which, much to Ramirez' pleasure, did not do much for the Inquisitor's modesty.
Their work was not done, though.
There was still the matter of the babies.
In a room to the side of the cultist's lair was a nursery with various infants. Most were visibly Half-Demons or Tieflings, but a few appeared completely outwardly Human.
Laure ordered them killed. Vivien refused. The summary execution, at least, was quick. Theresa held him, while Laure cut his throat. "Ramirez, kill the abominations."
Maryse seemed pretty shaken up by it all, and looked away, clearly trying not to cry. Theresa still hadn't come down from her high and seemed unphased. And Ramirez was probably looking forward to it.
Oriel looked ill. Her eyes were heavy, and her lips hung just a hint of agape as she let out a periodic series of pained gasps. It could have been the newly-formed slash bleeding out from her upper right arm, but she was also paying quite a bit of attention to Laure now... far too much. The lackluster change of clothes, the way the woman held the blade as she ended her comrade's life, everything...
It didn't last long. With a crooked gait, she quickly hobbled back over to the unholy camp's gathered cauldrons and supplies. They made easy targets for her blade, even when it was thrashed around awkwardly with one-hand. The movements were just as fierce as when she had attacked the carnival members themselves, through it was now missing the hollered firebrand oratory. All that seemed to be left was irate, monstrous frustration, and a desire to rid herself of all self-consciousness by squeezing out every last ounce of malignant energy she could.
Vivien's death was disappointing. He had been a most interesting subject for Ramirez, and his death halted any further opportunities to discover his limits. Ramirez had keyed him as naive, but not so idiotic as to disobey a screaming lunatic like Laure. A spirit of obedience at least ought to have prevented him from acting too freely on impulse.
The first infant didn't suspect anything. Ramirez picked it up and cradled it in his arms, tickled it under its chin until it started to chortle, then threw it onto the floor with some force. Ramirez heard an audible squish, but the baby still kicked limply and made subdued little whimpers. He bent down, drew his shortsword, and cut its throat. Well, one must have some mercy, even to the tainted and corrupt. He dipped the fingers of his free hand into the child's blood, and waggled his fingers inside the gaping wound until they were sticky with blood and a thick gore. The little thing's head flopped about, and made it look somewhat like a ventriloquist's puppet: had Ramirez had his way, he would have attempted to discover how far this resemblance went.
A soft crying emanated from the nearest cot. One of the children had awoken, no doubt, in the previous violence. Its squealing grew gradually louder, and was joined by other voices, until the nursery was filled with incessant squealing. Ramirez considered casting a spell to subdue the noise, but reflected that this would be unlikely to draw approbation from the fanatics in the group. Instead he soldiered on, daubed the chest of the first crying infant with a Cuthbertine cross in the blood of its dead kin, and cut its throat. He repeated the process at each cot, replenishing his blood supply when it ran low. As he came to the last infant, he considered whether to keep its slightly-horned skull as a memento. It would be an impressive candle-holder, and if it bored him he could sell it to a collector of such curiosities. He suspected, however, that this would also fail to endear himself to any of the members of the group. Really, it was shocking how little aesthetic sense they had.
Turning back to the group, he smiled expansively at them. "There. Saint be praised."
Maryse was crying now. If she was making any attempt to hide her tears or still her sobbing, they were not up to the task.
Laure seemed satisfied. The Saint's work was done, the heretics and their abominations were slain. Perhaps she had been overzealous, though. There were, after all, no survivors to question. Wordlessly, she began rummaging through the belongings of the dead, carefully examining books and objects. Some she smashed, some she burned, some she smashed and then burned, but some - papers mostly - she kept, handing them over to her acolytes without comment. Evidence, presumably. Ramirez had seen some of the grimoires and magical foci the cult was using - they seemed quite expensive. Some, presumably, had been brought from the Abyss by the Demons, but still the suggestion was clear - someone with more means than the rabble they had just slaughtered had enabled all this.
Ramirez wiped his sword off on one of the cots' sheets, sheathed it, and wandered over to Maryse. He put one hand on her forearm, near her shoulder, and said, in a soft voice: "It's awful to see, I know, but enemies of the Saint take many guises..."
Oriel had finished her spree of vandalism and simply found a place to sit on the overhanging struts now, as if trying to separate the group from her own macabre attitude. There seemed to be so little here that could be justified as 'holy'. So much so that it really made her feel quite pitiful for all of those concerned.
Part of her wanted to climb down and console Maryse. She could image it in her head, through rose-tinted glass; Taking the sobbing woman's face into her grasp, and harshly slapping Ramirez for his lack of subtlety. The action would have felt good.
But Ramirez was correct. More than he knew.
They were all the enemies of the Saint, to some degree, and the suffering here had simply been an acknowledgement of that. What could they do that would effect him now, perched in his unseen realm? What could such weak, powerless beings as them hope to achieve without the faintest slither of divinity remaining in their veins? All they could do was thin out the corruption in their own crude, murderous manner, and beg for forgiveness for their inadequacy once the deal was done.
"How disgraceful." She made a hollow rasping whisper through parched lips, eyes still gazing down upon Maryse and Ramirez as she said it. "May He forgive us all."
Maryse initially shoved Ramirez away, but then took to crying on his shoulder, for want of any other nearby shoulders on which to cry. "They were just babies." She sobbed. "Just little babies."
"Get down from there!" Theresa yelled at Oriel, pelting her with a shoe taken off a nearby corpse. "Dumbass." She muttered.
The trip back to the surface was done largely in silence (save for Maryse's occasional sobs), after Laure had finished burning the bodies, Vivien's and infants' included. Upon reaching fresh air and sunlight once more, she took her leave, several papers and books from the sewer. Maryse, shuffled off as well, leaving Theresa alone with the rest of the group. She led them into an isolated alleyway, her voice hushed and quiet.
"I think we can trust Laure." She said, uncertain. "I mean... we have to tell someone, right? What we saw? It's... it's important... I think we should tell her?"
Whilst Laure was still busy incinerating the corpses of their enemies, Oriel took it upon herself to take the others aside and serve them others hot tea and scones. She even silently served Ramirez, despite how agitated she clearly still was. Laure's mug was left full but untouched on the side... Fantastic they were not, and Saint knows where she actually got them, but it beat hanging around to smell the charred cadavers.
Back on the surface, Oriel seemed vaguely to agree with Theresa's idea. "Well now that her followers are gone, we can at least inform her of the creature we encountered without interruption. I think it's a good idea, Lady Noireaux, for sure."