Well, I’m not sure I like where we’re heading with this…
We searched the dead – assorted rings and cloaks and magic leather armor. One of the young punk apprentice druids looked like his burns were scabbing over…and sure enough, on closer inspection all the seared skin from Lydia’s lightening bolt was slowly regrowing, bit by bit. It didn’t help him overall – he still wasn’t breathing – but it was impressive nevertheless, and we gave his magic ring to Mikael to try out (since that seemed the more likely cause than some weird racial post-mortem regeneration).
While Tressarian, Lydia, and I were trying out another magic ring, Ezekiel raised one of the initiates – the female one, specifically. Tressarian had told us they weren’t magically Evil…but that didn’t solve all our problems.
Her name is Leamus, and she said the Druid of the grove was just teaching them to feed the plants and stuff. She said people are always trampling plants, so it was only fair the plants get their turn – which sounds all well and good, except people are more important than plants. Even if Raven can talk to them.
Bottom line, she sounds more confused and warped in her life priorities than outright malicious…but in some ways I’d prefer a maniacal plot to take over the world. How do you talk with someone who doesn’t understand basic things?
Well, Mikael and Ezekiel were the ones doing the talking, and they decided to give the girl a chance, since she seemed to be misled by her mentor. And Lydia said that since we beat them, that means we’re stronger, so by the law of the jungle they’re not a threat to us (or something).
The girl acted very laid-back, even about her own death (past and potential future), and when Ezekiel told her to seek instruction from someone who actually understood Beori, she batted her eyes at Mikael and asked, “Like you?”
The end of which is that she’s his disciple now. Again, really not comfortable with all this.
Still, she asked Mikael’s permission before shifting shape to heal some of her wounds, and she seems to have slipped right in to calling him Master, even though his friends literally just killed her (so, are neutral balance people just cool with everything? Apparently not, since Lea asked why Mikael traveled with “arcane” and “violent metal-wearing” people – not in those words, maybe – and Mikael said we were his friends, and actually pretty handy to have around).
We shoved the two male initiates into the portable hole so Ezekiel can work on them tomorrow. I told Heiron we should keep aneyeon Leamus, and he said “Lydia Dear” was already doing that.
We’re not sure exactly how Mikael’s report went, since we weren’t allowed in, but he says the Head Druid congratulated him on being stronger than his opponent, and gave him a run-down of the responsibilities of his office (and reminded him that the Circle will remove him if he doesn’t do his job). Fortunately, it sounds like Mikael doesn’t have to set up his camp in the same spot, and if he wants to settle in a Grove near Ezekiel’s temple for mutual support, that’s fine by the Circle.
Oh, and the Head Druid seemed unconcerned that Mikael had appropriated his predecessor’s disciples…almost congratulatory, maybe. My impressions from not being there. (Ez raised the men – No-Buckle and Hansi – while we were traveling back. Mikael says they can’t have their gear back – just mistletoe – until we’re convinced they’re not dangerous to us, but I think they could do plenty of damage with mistletoe. On the other hand, they’d have to be determined enough to want to…)
Agnar finally seems convinced that Lea isn’t a driad, and seems much disappointed.
Arrived Hochoch this evening. Keom met us at the pier and helped us with the ferry across the river (he had quite an involved story about getting the dragons across the river). Ezekiel dashed off to the Temple of Pelor to make an appointment for tomorrow, so we can get Raven’s brain restored (part of the time, you wouldn’t know anything’s wrong – but then he says something weird, and we all remember he had his brain half-eaten).
While they were waiting for us, Dree met a girl (well, just on the cusp of womanhood) who’s always been interested in books and theology, but her family didn’t have money to send her to a temple with a bigger library. Apparently she’s been doing lay-work in one of the temples, but then she met Dree and they really hit it off, and her family agreed to let her accompany us so Dree could teach her about her new God (bold family, I gotta say). She’s kinda shy, but she seemed to relax when she saw the “Father” of the church wasn’t some grey-bearded old man.
Lydia made Heiron and me help her unpack the mirror far enough that she could send Ezekiel to “check on” his wife…though those weren’t the exact words she used.
Raven went to check on his family’s creamery, and Ezekiel went with him. I found out the by-the-forest-gate people from Ertuli own one of the inns here, now! Llynn finally got her place to sing for people, and Lloyd says she attracts good people. Their brother (the older one, I didn’t know him as well) still wants to go back to Ertuli if it’s ever safe enough, but it sounds like they’ve really made a life for themselves here.
Raven said his sister liked visiting the taverns to hear and sing songs, so I bet Llynn knew her – although she couldn’t remember her right away. Lots of people come through an inn.
Raven also says his brothers have had to sell their building and relocate to a smaller place, but they’re still making cheese. His sister, though, decided she wanted to hear more stories of great adventures, and followed a caravan…I think to the east, though he wasn’t sure. He was uncharacteristically quiet about his visit…but maybe some of that is having his brain regrown this morning, and he’s still adjusting…
After a week on the road, we have reached Gorna! Seat of His Grace the Grand Duke, in his castle Eagle Peak! I feel like I must have been here before at some time, but I have no memory of it at all. Father said it was built on the ruins of over-sized stone buildings, and it’s so wild that, here and there, you can still see the outlines of those ruins.
We found an inn outside the wall that, with enough precious-metal persuasion, allowed us to stash the dragons in their stables (way at the end away from everything else, of course). Keom and Ronhass stayed to babysit while the rest of us went to officially present ourselves at the castle!
Ezekiel and I had already figured out the math, and Lydia had sent us to Veluna to collect an appropriate tithe from the vault. We squeezed it into a bag of holding so we’d be all set.
We introduced ourselves to the guards at the gate – Ezekiel using all our full titles – and then a page led us right in to the throneroom (I was kinda surprised His Grace was able to see us right away, but maybe he decided to shuffle things since there were so many of us…and so many of us were knights or elders of Furiundy and Veluna…).
Ezekiel gave him the abridged version of our actions, and talked about his temple he wants to make as a fortress against the Old One.
His Grace listened very politely, and seemed impressed by our loyalty offering. He also knew my father, and I’m sure I turned red even through my Flan. He said something to each of us, and told us the guards would notify us once he’d had time to consider Ezekiel’s proposal.
So we left our address, and came back to the inn.
I understand why Father always said a liege needs to pay attention to the little things – there are so many people who want his attention, and so much that he’s responsible for, and a good liege can’t get it mixed up.
It’s still early enough in the day, I can go looking for Tomlin and deliver his letter from Alpheus. I wonder how he will have changed?
I am over it Ezekiel!
I guess I should get things in chronological order. There isn’t actually a temple to Bacaab here (Ezekiel gets teased for worshiping a shy God, but I guess Bacaab is famous for not getting involved), but one of the sentries suggested his followers/students might hang out in the Temple to Wee’Jas, since she has an interest in magic and law, too (as well as other things, which I didn’t know before going there).
Anyway, we found the place easily enough, and one of the attendants showed me the library, and sure enough, Tomlin was there. He didn’t recognize me at first, but he seems to be happy enough…
So Tomlin is a mouse. Who knew?! (Doubtless Mother and Father and Alpheus knew.) He has a quiet job that lets him spend as much time as possible in the library…and that seems to be all he wants out of life. And that’s fine… I will say this in his favor, too – he seems much more interested in the architecture and engineering texts than the books with provocative pictures…I suppose this library has its share of those, since the statue of Wee’Jas in the main hall is pushing the bounds. I don’t suppose he’ll get in much trouble here.
Which brings me to Ezekiel. When I was done talking to Tomlin (and Mikael was with us, I think to meet T and see what books they had, and so was Lydia – I think she even got a catalog of their collection from one of the attendants, but I’m not sure), we met back up with Ezekiel and learned what trouble he had been getting into.
So…first, he was asking around about his sister (did I know Ez had a sister?? I feel like I did. That’s the one that was hard to scry, right? Or was that Raven’s sister?) because he thought this was the kind of place where she might have liked to study. He heard that she used to hang out with a guy named Nehe, and as soon as we met up with him, he dragged us off to find this guy.
The family didn’t live too far away – a comfortable estate in town with a gate. The fellow who opened the door eventually figured out what Ezekiel wanted, and said “Abalog Nehe” was “in the mausoleum,” and gave us directions. Ezekiel charged off, all red-faced, (totally ignoring what a mausoleum is??) and we rushed after him to keep him out of too much trouble.
The place indicated by our directions was an apparently abandoned mansion with walled grounds and an iron gate – rusted with age, and (strangely) scratched with silver (Lydia said it was real silver).
I tried to remind Ezekiel that we aren’t in the lawless wilds anymore, and we can’t just go around busting down people’s gates and ransacking random houses – but apparently Lydia was afraid he was about to climb over the gate, and unlocked it for him.
Inside, someone’s feet had worn a path among the tangled weeds and waist-high grasses – and some of the prints must have been made within the last day. We followed the prints to the front door of the house…and although dust coated the porch and the windows, there were no cobwebs across the door.
Lydia let us in, and Ezekiel entered first – sheep symbol and mace in hand. Just as he lit up his mace, a girl appeared down the hallway ahead of us, with a will’o’wisp or something floating just by her shoulder.
She was understandably shocked to see us, but Ezekiel explained that he wanted to see this Nehe guy, and the girl said she’d have to get permission to take us to him. So she ran off, and Ez tried to follow her, but eventually they both came back, and she led us out into the grounds to – shocker – a marble mausoleum.
She unlocked it for us, but said she wasn’t allowed inside. She seemed to know Nehe was dead, but didn’t question why we wanted to see him – and she didn’t seem particularly worried about him, either.
As soon as Ezekiel shone light inside, we could see the story. The body of a young man, still wearing the clothes of the upper class, and in the same colors as the banners I noticed at the Nehe estate. It’s hard to say how recently he died, but the attendant at the estate didn’t seem too grief-stricken over him…nor did he seem curious that we would want to see him, if everyone knows he’s dead. Something doesn’t smell right.
Speaking of the smell…I’ve been in enough forsaken places and gross holes in the ground to recognize it. Ghouls. The marks on the body were obvious to an experienced undead-hunter, and the tracks vanished into raw holes of dirt, burrowing down from gaps in the stones of the floor. Pursuing them on their own turf would be a nightmare…but maybe Lydia can roll fire down the holes or something? Probably not smart in a crowded city…
Ezekiel came out and let the girl lock the door again, and asked to see her “Mistress.” So she took us back into the house, along many corridors and up a few flights of stairs, until we came to a room where a half-dozen girls sat around watching candles. The oldest couldn’t be much more than my age.
What are a group of nice little girls doing sitting around an abandoned mansion in the cobwebs and candlelight? Well, according to the Mistress, Ruth, they are all acolytes of “Mistress Leah,” who I gather is some kind of magic user (though Ez says the Matron of Wee’Jas said Leah didn’t have much talent for that), and is “resting” in the Astral Plane at the moment, and they are guarding her access point or something.
I’m thinking the Astral Plane is no place to hang out for long – and it doesn’t make much sense to try to recover yourself there, since we spent what felt like an afternoon there, but for Keom and Ronhass and Dree it was more like a week. Anyway, I really feel like these girls don’t exactly understand what’s going on…they just follow the ritual, because that’s what this “Leah” whom they all respect so much has told them.
We still have no proof, but Ezekiel seems to think it plausible that this is his Leah, his sister, and he’s determined to get to the bottom of this somehow. The girls said she uses potions to “increase her powers” somehow, and Lydia hasn’t said whether or not that makes sense to her. They didn’t say exactly what Grand Mistress Leah wanted to accomplish with all this, but by then Ezekiel was looking kinda overwhelmed, so we left.
We’ll see what he thinks after talking this over with Raven. Mikael took his disciples to procure a wooden box so we can return Ab Nehe’s remains to his family, in case they care. Ez also said he could holy-water the snot out of that mausoleum, so the ghouls can’t return there or something (not his exact words). Would that force them to dig new entrances somewhere else? That could get messy. Maybe we should tell someone there’s an undead infestation…??
Find the previous entry here.
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