Ezekiel and Raven decided to head out right away, while the day was still young, and ask if the Nehe family wanted what was left of Abilar, for proper burial. Lydia decided to go with them (I guess she thought they might need her help or supervision) – and of course if she was going, Heiron wanted to go to protect her. When Mikael said he was going, too, that left me…
I don’t know why, but I wasn’t excited to get arrested for breaking and entering in the one city where we’re supposed to be on our best behavior…and besides, if they got kidnapped by that cult, someone had to be around to raise the alarm and get help.
So I decided to stay and work on some stances (Tressarian says he’s been bored lately anyway)…and next thing I know, Usin said he wanted to join me, and then Agnar said it sounded like fun, and before I could say anything the three of us were headed out to the yard behind the inn, without even Ronhass to help me, since he was watching the dragons – and Mikael’s “disciples” – and Keom was off to the Hall of Records on some mission for Raven.
It…went about as well as you could expect. I told Usin to stop copying me and holding his hands like that, ’cause it was creeping me out, but he said that’s how Master Heiron holds his hands, and before I could come up with an answer to that, Agnar said the only proper way to hold a sword was his way.
We somehow ended up with a two v. one, that had Agnar laughing way more than I was comfortable with and somehow also kicking our butts…that is until he stomped on his own bootlace. Pretty sure I heard Ronhass laughing from the stables, although he won’t admit it.
When the others got back, they didn’t have much more news. The butler at the Nehe estate seemed dismissive about Abalar’s remains – said he was something of a black sheep – and gave the impression that the less said about how he met his end the better.
So they all went on to the city hall to talk to the councilors about proper procedure (like actually letting the responsible parties know they have a ghoul problem, that kind of thing) but everyone was at lunch – so they went and had lunch, too…at a place Raven called a bit on the “foofey” end.
When they got back to the offices, they couldn’t see the right people for a few days anyway, so they made an appointment and headed back to the “haunted mansion” to try to get a head-count, since one of the people they talked to seemed suspicious that they’d only seen “signs” of ghouls…
Once they got there, though, the front gate was locked – and not even Lydia could get it open. Raven hadn’t been to the mansion before – but he didn’t feel like facing ghouls all by himself, do instead of climbing the wall he scouted around the fence quick and then came back with the others. He says there’s some kind of cart entrance at the back, but it seems to have been abandoned for even longer than the main gate.
Someone who can stump even Lydia sounds very serious…and like we might be over our heads again. I hate that this keeps happening.
Bizarre is a good word. Early in the morning, someone knocked on the bunkroom door, and after whispering at the door, Ezekiel gathered up his relics, Raven, and Mikael, and left. Raven told me some girl from the haunted estate had summoned Ez to meet their “Mistress” – but he didn’t tell me how long to wait before assuming they’d been kidnapped or killed, and coming after them. Usin suggested an hour or two without anybody asking him, and Agnar complained that they didn’t invite him to the big bust-up.
Before things could get too out of hand – the others came back with an emo young lady Ezekiel introduced as his sister, Leah. She’s got his hair, and his basic facial features like nose and eyebrows, so it checks out as far as that goes. The story I get is they were pretty close before he left to chase his God that nobody else believed in, and after she heard Ertulli was destroyed, she went there looking for word of him. One thing and another, she met Abilar Nehe – who claimed the dead of Ertulli should have the chance to fight back, even though they were dead, but who obviously wasn’t as good at it as he thought… And she met another lady who made her mission in life destroying evil wizards…though L didn’t define “evil” for us…and who taught Leah everything she could (after the Temple of Wee’Jas called L an untalented failure), and now Leah is studying the lady’s books and trying to carry on her memory by fighting the ghouls (I missed how the lady died or disappeared?).
Ah, yes, the ghouls. Leah went on about that – everyone was eating breakfast at that point, and she seemed more comfortable with talking by then – and talked about how she believes the ghoul tunnels go all the way down to the Veil of P’nath, some “ghoul realm” below the Underdark, and she keeps busy dispelling the waves that come up through the tunnels. She said some more things about Negative Energy and this and that (it looked like Lydia was keeping mental notes), and Ezekiel said she’d really grown up. I was about to deck him if he tried patting her head or something, so she didn’t incinerate him with her mind, but he restrained himself. He did say he was super impressed with the way she melted ghouls (apparently she did a round before they left), and said that was in line with the will of his God. And then he started talking about his fortress temple (that he calls “Haven”) that he’s always talking about, and we seemed safe from cheek-pinching from then on.
Anyway, bottom line: Leah and her cult seem to have a system for keeping the ghouls returning to that one place, so they don’t cause havoc in any other part of town (it’s obvious I don’t understand ghoul mentality), although she kinda implied they were special “negative plain” ghouls or something (all of this assuming that she knows what she’s talking about, of course…ghouls aren’t my specialty, that’s for sure).
One other interesting thing she said. We talked about fighting the Temple of Elemental Evil, and brushing with the followers of the Spider Queen, and Leah said there’s a splinter group of Drow trying to worship an “elder elemental god” or something. She described a symbol of an eye inside a triangle, which definitely sounds like some of the symbology we saw in there (feels like an age ago; I gotta dig out my old journal). Anyway, sounds like things are stirring in the dark places…they can just keep their squabbles to themselves and stay out of Gorna, that’s all I say.
About the time Leah left to go back to her post, Keom came back from the Hall of Records (he didn’t stay there all night – he just got an early start). He said the [Lawful Good] house of the ghouls was registered to the Brennan family…as in, His Grand Grace Brennan. All the more reason to step carefully. Either this is a conspiracy-theorist’s dream, or it’s way above our heads.
[Common] Anyway, Raven and Ezekiel went to cancel their appointment with the magistrates, since obviously there’s a lot more going on here – and then they took their disciples to the “haunted mansion” so Dree could practice on some ghouls – and Sister Sue could watch her at work, and start dismantling the automatic psychological paralyzation that ghouls create in healthy, normal humans (I declare, sometimes Ezekiel just makes up these words…).
Mikael took his disciples to the Grove of Obed-Hai up the road while Bornthene entertained the dragons so they didn’t get anxious about Ro and Keom.
And me – with a day to spare (a messenger came and told us to meet with His Grace tomorrow morning), I copied out my sketches from the Temple of Rao in Mitrik so Tomlin could have a copy. I finally found a plaque in a corner of the temple that explained what the windows were talking about, so I figured that would be a good thing for him to study. Might give him a fresh, calming perspective on life. Keep him from getting tangled up with those provocative priestesses. He seemed to appreciate the thought.
After dropping off the sketches, I found my way to the Temple of Ehlonna. Someone in the inn mentioned there was one, and I figured it’d be a good place to spend the rest of my time. Usin came with me for some reason. Heiron has assured me he’s not as scary as I seem to think…though that is exactly what Clarence used to say about his box that he kept spiders in. And, I guess, what Alpheus said about horses. And Mother said about the Temple back home.
It was a bit crowded today, but very clean and well-maintained and everyone was polite. They did “Thousand Leaves of Gratitude” – which of course I knew, since Mama sang it to us all the time, but I was a bit rusty on the middle parts, so Usin and I waited until the crowd thinned a little and then Sister Moria went through it again with us. I never would have thought Usin could sing…instead of, y’know, growl or something. He says his mother used to sing a lot.
We saw His Grace again today, and I guess it went as well as could be expected. He said he and his court are happy we want to build a fortress to protect the realm, but they can’t settle on a place that needs a fortress and doesn’t have one already. Ezekiel said he was waiting on word from his Master, and said he was confident things would come together when he got the signal. So we are “at ease” until we get this signal, and His Grace says if he does need us, he’ll know how to find us (which I do not doubt at all).
Ezekiel also brought up the ghouls – and not only is His Grace aware, but he says they’ve cast protections to keep them within the grounds of the estate – and encouraged the “haunted house” vibe that keeps good-for-nothings from getting up to no good in there. And warned the patrols in that area of the city to be alert. He even knows about Leah, and seems to appreciate that she’s keeping the waves bottled up where it can’t hurt the rest of the city. He doesn’t view the tunnels so much as an “invasion point” as a “drain” from the plain of darkness far below…a small, insignificant, but relentless bleeding of the negative energy from that place. I’m just happy it’s now nothing to do with us, since our options weren’t looking good. Still a little frustrated that we can’t protect the city once and for all, but I suppose sometimes the world is broken so that there is no way to fix it completely.
Anyway, if we’re not really needed here, we decided we have enough time to swing north. Mikael’s family should still be in Rhwng ye Dwyr…and, well, it would be nice to tell Mother and Father what I’ve been doing in person…
Find the previous entry here.