Myrtle cried out as Nicyes fell beneath the goat-creature’s crushing fist. She could see there was no way for Mercer to fight his way to help, and she felt powerless standing so far back with Arturo. Nicyes’s brave charge hadn’t been enough to fell the beast. It seemed foolish now, in retrospect, but what choice could he have had? The creature could crush any of them with a thrown rock, as it had Alquis.

They had minutes left, at most. With Alquis gone and Nicyes bleeding on the ground, Mercer would soon be overwhelmed, and Myrtle knew her magic wasn’t enough to hold off the cultists, let alone the giant satyr. There was no fast or easy way to escape the pit, and even if they survived somehow, they would no doubt be made sacrifices to Pan — in one form or another.

She was startled when a voice boomed throughout the pit. “Your god is dead,” it said. “Your efforts are pointless. Throw down your meaningless lives. You have no patron, no reason to be.” Myrtle could hear the air vibrating from the voice.

Looking up, she saw Alquis standing by the enormous rock, thought to have taken his life. He was holding his conjuring orb high above his head, using magic to amplify his voice. The cultists shook and flailed as though covered in biting vermin. One shrieked and fell to his knees, tore the headdress away and shortly collapsed. The others stumbled, their legs giving way as though some weight bore down on them.

No matter how they came at Mercer, they couldn’t land a blow on him. If the effects of Alquis’s spell didn’t somehow shake their concentration, then whatever blow they did land was stopped by the protective enchantment Myrtle had placed on him. As they surrounded him, Mercer smashed legs, and where he evaded their blades, he crushed hands and arms.

In the chaos, Myrtle could see the broken form of Nicyes, and she reached out to him with the senses Hestia gave her, and could feel him still clinging to life. “Atruto,” she said. “Help Mercer however you can. Distract them, do whatever it is you do, I’m going to help Nicyes.”

She left Arturo behind and ran toward the warrior, calling out his name. The goat-creature turned its attention toward her, and she raised her torch and shouted the first words that sprang to mind. Later, she would not be able to recall what she said, but she felt Hestia’s strength surge through her and the creature recoiled as though in pain.