Having discarded Brezozi’s stomach as a likely route to the hearthroom, the coven decides to traverse the breathing passage of the creature in hopes of coming closer to the heart. Forcing open its trachea causes a sharp intake of breath from the monster, nearly sweeping Henley deep into the respiratory system. Hammer’s quickly snags Henley in mid-air and the party begins their descent.
As they walk, The Daughter of the Unread Pages considers the problem of uncovering the hearthroom of the living manse. She asks her companions to wait while she finishes her calculations, but Hammer is impatient to proceed and continues marching down the dark, fleshy tube. Encore and Henley follow Hammer’s lead, but Job appreciates the prudence of the Daughter’s plan and agrees to help her. She invokes the Essence Discerning Stare to watch how the Essence of the place is flowing. Job acts as a sounding board for the Daughter’s theories. Together, they determine that there is likely some kind of Essence respiring organ deeper into the manse, and connected to this organ should be the hearthroom.
Meanwhile, Hammer has led the remainder of the coven to this very organ. A vast rounded chamber, walled with spongey, springy tissue extends before them, with a steep drop from their passage of entrance down to the floor. Every surface of the organ is covered with antenna-like structures, capped with a lightly glowing bulb, which gives the otherwise unlit room a dim, bluish tinge. Henley’s sharp eyes and his ability to disregard the meager darkness of mundane shadows allows him to peer to the far side of the organ and spots a more intense blue glow around an organic structure that doesn’t appear elsewhere in the room. Encore needs no further convincing and dashes into the chamber with the supernatural speed of the Wind-Born Stride to examine the structure in detail. He finds blue, glowing fluid slowly exuded by a multitude of small orifices into a pool, and the pool is obviously draining to somewhere. He tears a shred of cotton fabric from his tunic and dips it into the mysterious goo, then runs back to Hammer and Henley with his prize. His rapid passage back and forth through the chamber disturbs the peaceful swaying of the bulbed organs, causing them to oscillate wildly. An unsettling shudder ripples through the chamber and up the breathing passage where the Daughter and Job sit in discussion.
Shortly, a strange multi-tentacled creature wriggles out of a nearby orifice, plopping to the ground. Job evaluates the thing through the Hellskry Chakra to learn that it exists to protect Brezozi from outsiders. With little delay, it sets out to fulfill its purpose, leaping at the Daughter, ripping talons seeking her heart’s blood. She catches it in mid-air, holding it in place with the force of her mind, and coldly regarding it. Sadly, her scientific reverie is interrupted as dozens of the monstrosities begin to pour into the passage.
Most of the creatures begin sliding down the passage toward the rest of the coven. Job and the Daughter set off in pursuit. Down at the lungs, Hammer hears the mass of horrors approaching, and quickly forms a plan: Encore will stun the coming enemy with a shockwave generated by his incredible speed, while Hammer will follow through with a savage attack before it can regain its wits. Henley quietly slides behind Hammer, hoping the brute will hold off whatever is approaching.
By the time the tentacled beasts reach the entrance to Brezozi’s lungs, they’ve tangled together into a horrid mass. Encore is undeterred and dashes forward to intercept what seems to be a single foe. With an explosive burst of speed powered by his Charm of Racing Vitaris, he surges forward with the intent of knocking the monster to the ground. It’s only as he sees the mass separate due to the shockwave that he realizes that he faces several score smaller enemies. The monsters rain down on him as he uses his momentum to power through to the other side, tearing a few apart with his bare hands as he passes. Henley mutters a few words about reconsidering, but Hammer is consumed with the fury of battle joined, and he charges the creatures. Lord Ravenhurst can do nothing but remain in the eye of the maelstrom (which apparently is crouched between the Slayer’s legs) as Hammer Against Creation whirls about with his namesake goremaul. Encore reaches Job and the Daughter, leading them back to the fray. Once there, the Daughter unleashes a torrent of telekinetic attacks using her demonic knowledge of the Principle of Motion. Before long, piles of the creatures litter the passage, and the coven returns to exploration.
They descend into the lung, carefully picking their way through the swaying antennae until they reach the pool of fluid Encore examined earlier. The Daughter sees the strong Essence flow here, clearly making out the passage of energy from this chamber through the wall to somewhere else. She concludes, “We are close to the hearthroom. We must reach wherever this vessel flows.” With that, she dives into the goo and works her way down, deeper into the beast. Encore also sees no reason to hesitate, and follows closely behind. Job waits a moment, and then asks Hammer to go immediately after him, so the large warrior will push him down to the end, should he get stuck. Henley counters that it is rash to submerge themselves in this pool, as they have no idea how long the journey to the other end will be. What’s more, the Daughter and Encore are now either dead, or certainly able to secure the hearthroom by themselves. There’s no need to follow them, as there’s nothing for Hammer to do down there. Hammer doesn’t like the sound of squirming through a cramped, goo-filled passage for no good reason, so he sides with Henley and decides to stay behind. Job protests, until Hammer agrees to follow. As Job climbs into the pool, Hammer gives him a solid shove beneath the surface of the fluid. “I’ll be right behind you.” he says unconvincingly.
Job manages to wriggle through the vessel and falls unceremoniously into a deep pool inside the heart. The roof of the egg-shaped chamber is barely visible in the light emitting from the rippling liquid. A small island of flesh rises out of the center of the pool, a twisting knot of pulsing veins connecting the surface of the island to the roof. Encore simply sits and scrapes the goo off of himself, while the Daughter has disrobed and laid her neatly folded clothes on the ground as she walks around the organ, considering what to do next. She is so deep in thought that she fails to notice the writhing tendril slowly descending behind her from the mass above…