Themis is eager to commence the investigation into Pandæmonium.
Themis suggests that you journey to Pandæmonium together, both because it will be easier for you to gain access to the sensitive area and because you seem to be the “star” that was foretold by Themis's colleague. The first order of the day is to receive permission from the Words of Lahabrea, which Themis assures you should be a simple matter.
As Themis promised, your entry into Pandæmonium is granted without issue. While the member of the Words of Lahabrea assures you that any major irregularities in the facility are seen to by Lahabrea himself, Themis seems nonetheless eager to continue his own investigation into matters.
As you and Themis step foot into Pandæmonium, he reveals that something or someone within is working to erode the chains and barriers which keep the creatures locked away. Though Themis uses his own magic to strengthen the protections for the moment, he suggests you seek one of the warders to gain a more thorough understanding of how the situation might be resolved. He further explains that although he cannot participate directly in battle without relinquishing his focus on the wards, he can create warriors based on your aether to aid you, should it come to that.
※Asphodelos: The First Circle can be accessed via the Duty Finder.
Not long after you begin your search, a man wearing warders' garb rushes toward you, shouting an angry challenge before transforming into a towering vision of punitive might. After a pitched battle, you emerge victorious, and await his return to consciousness.
The warder introduces himself as Erichthonios, and it seems he scarcely remembers the moments leading up to your conflict. What he can tell you is that Asphodelos─the level of Pandæmonium closest to the surface─has become overrun by monsters, and that he became separated from his colleagues in the chaos. Concerned for their safety, he begs Themis to withhold his report to the Convocation so that he can be afforded time to rescue them ere the facility is obliterated. Although Themis cannot openly shirk his duties, he states that his investigation is yet incomplete, and the two of you agree to delve further into the hellish dungeon in search of survivors─and answers.
Now then, my proposal is a simple one: let us journey to Pandæmonium together. Our destination is the same, and I suspect the arrangement would work to our mutual benefit.
Besides, I should have no trouble gaining us both access. I do hope you agree─I would be loath to part ways from the falling star I had been waiting so long for.
Originally I had planned to conduct my investigation with the friend I mentioned earlier. He had also noticed the anomaly near Pandæmonium, so it only seemed natural that we should investigate it together.
However, he eventually decided that it would be unwise for us both to go. If two members of our organization were seen poking our heads about restricted facilities, it could raise questions, you see.
I decided to go alone, but he left me with these words: “Fear not, for in my absence a star shall fall before you.”
While I could not comprehend his meaning at the time, I believe now I understand. He does have a way of being right about these things.
Even so, his hints of what to come are generally more cryptic. I suppose I should have kept my gaze to the heavens.
Suffice it to say that I am grateful for your presence either way. As for the matter at hand, we must first gain permission from the Words of Lahabrea for entry into Pandæmonium. There ought to be a speaker waiting at Anagnorisis...
What a fascinating aetheric signature... Ahem. In accordance with the Convocation's request, the two of you have been granted leave to observe Pandæmonium.
I shall register your aether for the records. From this point on, you may freely come and go from Pandæmonium as you please.
Generally, creations that pose a threat to the safety of the star must be undone. However, the Words of Lahabrea has deemed certain such creations as worthy of further study, interring them within the facility.
Those who spend their days in Pandæmonium are not merely researchers─they must work tirelessly to ensure that none of their subjects slip their shackles.
That was a thrilling display! And if I may be so vaunting, the warriors I spun from your aether fought even more splendidly than I had anticipated. I suppose they were cut from excellent cloth, after all.
We should wait until this man regains his senses. He wears the robes of a warder, and I would be very curious to know what drove him to attack us sight unseen.
No, never. Each level of Pandæmonium is under the charge of a keyward, who keeps strict control over the most minute aspects of their domain. They're selected with great care, and their loyalty to Master Lahabrea is absolute...
Yet something has gone terribly wrong. Try as we might to hold the line, the chaos within is overwhelming... I hardly realized that I had become separated from my colleagues.
I remember a chorus of whispers assailing my senses, and afterwards only flashes of rage and fury. Then blackness...from which I awoke to find that whatever had overcome me was gone.
Whatever had taken hold of me, thank you for releasing me from its clutches. That you've come here from the surface must mean some word of our plight has reached the outside world. If you know anything that may help, pray tell.
Horror among horrors... So Pandæmonium's protections are indeed being dismantled from within.
As I thought. Were the creatures to escape into the outside world, there would be untold carnage. The Words of Lahabrea would never risk that, despite what value the research subjects may hold.
All the more reason to work with haste. If we can't expect further help, then it falls upon me to save the others. I'll not leave them behind!
I won't leave the other warders to face certain doom.
I know they fight for survival even now. They wouldn't abandon their duty─they would see the creatures returned to their cells at all costs.
And so I must do the same. Themis, I know the request I'm about to make of you is a monumental one, but please...say not a word of this to the Convocation until I've been given a chance to set things right.
...Forgive my rudeness, Erichthonios, but my decision cannot be swayed by emotion. You would only be consigning yourself to an early death─strength of resolve alone cannot win in the face of overwhelming odds.
That being said, our investigation has only just begun, and we would be remiss to turn back ere we've made an exhaustive survey. So, for the time being, there is slightly more than resolve to rely upon.
Heh... I knew you would be all too eager to join us.
Each moment since you fell from the skies has been more interesting than the last. More and more you remind me of my dear friend.
...Which goes some way toward encouraging me that this matter will yet reach a satisfactory conclusion.
We shall be glad to have someone familiar with Pandæmonium's halls by our side. A party of three is ever so much more entertaining than a pair of two.
Now, let us turn our attention to rescuing your colleagues. Perhaps it would be wise to approach the gates, in case any have followed you out.
It seems our investigation will be quite the ordeal after all. Still, I find it hard to believe that Lahabrea knows naught of what has transpired here. Whoever the mastermind of this crisis is, they do not lack for power and cunning.