Chapter Nine, Part Two
Orjulun leans back in his bed and tries to put the whole perplexing conversation with Percy and Melias together.
Percy is kneeling on the floor next to his own bed. As is his custom, he will follow twenty minutes of prayer with half an hour of armor and weapon care. His habits are the same whether he is at an inn or in a forest.
“What do you think happened to Lil? I know Druids are not as civilized as most people, but she promised to meet us for dinner.” Percy looks at his new sword, admiring the fine blade for a moment, before he continues. “Perhaps we should go looking for her . . . although, I’m not sure where.” He catches Orjulun’s shrug out of the corner of his eye, as he begins to polish his armor.
Half an hour later, Percy unties his long, blond hair and stands. “I barely know Lil, yet I feel a real kinship toward her. Red does, too. Lil doesn’t have the moral code Red, you, or I have, but she is still a selfless person. She just puts nature – even human nature – ahead of everything else. She is certainly an incredibly noble and good friend to those she is working to raise from the dead.” He pulls a cloak from his bag and puts it on. “I admire her.” He hesitates at the door, expecting Orjulun to join him roaming the streets looking for Lil, but the Wizard is asleep.
The next morning, Orjulun walks back to see David the Diviner, his new broker of things magical.
Seeing Orjulun, David beams and runs to him. “I can get everything! There are nine trades pending to make it happen and it all depends on how powerful the darts are. You could end up with everything you wanted. All I need is for you to have the darts identified by an ASO Wizard this morning. You’ll need 1,000 gold for that. And one gentleman needs to read the scroll. He really wanted that scroll. Oh, and I got all the other items lined up, too, except the map, but I can draw you one if you have time.” The Diviner glances around, trying to spot the best place to have the darts identified. “Mergie! Mergie will cast an Identify spell for 800 gold, more if they have unusual powers, but he can verify its power for the trade.”
Walking toward Mergie the Mage, David tells Orjulun, “If the darts are slightly magical, you’ll get all the spells you requested, the Ioun Stone – I can’t believe one was available – and the magical weapons.” He smiles, “But, if they are more powerful, I can enter two more into the trade and get you a very magical mace and a very, very magical and somewhat famous longsword! All I need are the 800 gold pieces. You can stay here the whole time, he’ll probably cast Onif’s Identify, so he won’t have to take the day off.”
That will leave Orjulun with almost no gold.
“All right, David,” Orjulun says, smiling, “you have a deal.”
As they wait for Mergie to prepare and cast the spell, Orjulun says, “David, you mentioned a spell, Onif’s Identify. I assume that’s a more powerful version of Identify. But who is this Onif fellow who named the spell?”
David squints at Orjulun and answers the question haltingly. “Onif . . . the Diviner . . . of Cultury. The one who used to help rule that city . . . you really haven’t heard of the most powerful Wizard of all?”
“Well, certainly I’ve heard of that Onif,” Orjulun says. “I thought it might be another one. We’ve heard of so many in this area with similar names . . . Nofi, Fino, Onif. Don’t you think that’s a bit strange as well?”
David shrugs. “What’s a name?”
The darts turn out to be more magical than expected and after three hours, Orjulun is presented with:
Detailed notes on how to cast the spells Light, Haste, Invisibility, Lightning Bolt, Strength, and Fly.
An Ioun Stone.
A slightly magical battle axe and longbow.
A more powerful footman’s mace.
A very magical longsword named “The Battler.”
A parchment book of thirty-five pages.
Two weeks dry rations.
Two hunks of chalk.
A small bottle of Elven wine.
A waterproof cloak.
David smiles with pride.
Orjulun eagerly accepts the items and tips the lad twenty gold pieces. “Now, I believe you were going to sketch me a quick map of the town and surrounding area?” he says, producing his bound book for David to use.
David sits on the ground and draws a rough map, focusing on sections of the city instead of individual buildings.
“So, David,” Orjulun says, “what spells have you learned thus far in your study of Divination?”
“Oh, I have Identify and Read Magic, although I don’t get a chance to use them much. Most of the time I’m using Cantrips,” David answers.
Orjulun continues to make small talk while David sketches out the map. He asks about good places to eat, pleasant places to stroll, and unique shops. After David finishes, Orjulun asks if he will be in the area in the morning. He will.
Once he’s back in his room, Orjulun pens a spell from his spellbook and carefully rolls it up in a tube. Tomorrow, he will give it to David as a gift.
Later, at dinner, he invites the party to he and Percy’s room tomorrow for a meeting.
The next day, after some studying and lunch, Orjulun visits the Temple of Scorses to tithe, procure a new holy symbol, get a blessing, and see what light can be shed on his questions.
The church of Scorses is grand indeed, with towering spires of polished metals and marble that catch and reflect the light in all directions. It glows. Long, clear windows stretch to the ceilings throughout the temple and the sculpture and detail work is breath-taking. Orjulun spends an hour walking around marveling at the structure, before asking to speak to anyone. Once he does, however, he is forced to leave when he recognizes an old acquaintance lurking in the church. Kumbini the Transmuter, another of Lickmer’s apprentices, is there waiting for Orjulun to visit. Orjulun sneaks out the back door and speed walks back to the inn. His exploring is officially at an end, but this gives him ample time to organize his thoughts for the meeting and study more of his new spells.
That night, before the meeting, Percy stands near the door to their room as if guarding it, while Rastorn lounges on Orjulun’s bed admiring his new rings, and Red sits nervously on the floor near the end table, questioning everyone whether they had seen Lil while they were out. Orjulun, Arturus, and Melias sit in a row on Percy’s bed.
Melias asks Red, “Do you think maybe she headed back to the cave already?”
She shakes her head. “What few belongings she had are still in our room.”
“Thank you all for putting your plans on hold tonight,” Orjulun says. “I have good news and bad news. Let’s get the bad out of the way first. While I was at the Temple of Scorses today I saw one of Lickmer’s apprentices, Kumbini the Transmuter. He’s obviously in town looking for me and is definitely not alone. So, Lickmer and his cronies are here already and are watching for me. I don’t know if they know about any of you yet, but it will only be a matter of time, so please watch yourselves and tread carefully.”
“On to the good news,” he says, then he walks to his bed and sets a large bundle onto it.
Rastorn stands to give him space to unroll the cloth and reveal what is stored within.
“I have items here for everyone. I traded the darts no one could use and some other magic for them,” Orjulun announces.
He hands Percy the stone. “This is an Ioun Stone to improve wisdom. You said your personal quest was to gain wisdom and this will assist you in that goal.”
“For you, Red, I have this magical battle axe.”
“Seliem, this is a rather powerfully enchanted mace.”
“Melias and Arturus, you two will have to argue over who gets these,” he says, pointing to the two remaining items on the bed. “There is an enchanted longbow and a very powerful longsword called ‘The Battler.’ I think either would serve you well.”
“For you, Rastorn, I have detailed notes on some new spells you may find of interest. I’ll get those to you later tonight.”
“I need to get a message to the clergy of Scorses,” Orjulun says as everyone claims their items. “Since I can’t go there myself, as it’s being watched, I guess I’ll hire someone through the inn unless anyone has a better idea.”
“This is . . . this is really special. Thank you, very, very much,” Percy says as he tosses the stone into the air so it will orbit his head. He looks around the room at each of them, as if seeing them all for the first time. He stops on Rastorn and asks, “Were you having sexual relations with that girl who looked like Lil?”
Rastorn answers angrily, “That’s none of your business.”
Melias looks at the bow and the sword and then Orjulun. “That was very generous of you, my friend.” He looks sideways at Arturus and asks, “Which do you prefer? You’re better at the bow than me. Maybe you should take that?” While Arturus considers what to do, Melias looks back at Orjulun and says, “I think we can leave tomorrow. No worries. Just don’t stray too far and we’ll skirt out of here as quietly as we can.”
While everyone is discussing their new items, Percy walks over to Orjulun and whispers to him, “I thank you for the gift, but I’m afraid I can’t keep it. The fact is, it gave me just enough wisdom to know that I will never have enough wisdom to be a Purple Paladin. I am just too naive by nature. Capra must have other plans for me. Please, give the stone to Red . . . or SeLiem. All it will do is remind me of what I will never be. Please don’t be sad or question my decision, you have saved me from a life pursuing something I will never, ever achieve and I thank you with all my heart.” He pulls the Ioun Stone out of the air and hands it back to Orjulun.
Orjulun frowns and rolls the stone around in his palm, then nods and smiles.
Without the stone, Percy does not notice Orjulun’s eyes remain sad while he smiles.
“It is up to you Melias,” Arturus says, “I am quite moved by Orjulun’s gifts, regardless of which. If you take the bow, then we could both shoot more efficiently and I could give you the magical sword I have now. But if you would prefer the blade, that would be fine.” He smiles.
Melias hoists the bow, tests its weight and the pull of the string and smiles approvingly. “Very well, if you insist.”
With the added gift of Arturus’ longsword, Melias new dagger is superfluous. “I picked up a magical dagger from that corpse in the cave. Orjulun, would you like it? I think everyone should have one enchanted blade, at least.”
Orjulun accepts the dagger.
Arturus reaches into his bag and hands the parchment note from Evenliir to Melias and says, “I think you ought to read this my friend.”
Melias reads the note and falls quiet. “She says, ‘thank you’; thank you for what? What did you give her?” He hands the note back to Arturus. “You should have burned that immediately, then washed your hands.”
Arturus coughs, lowers his head, and says, “It’s more like I should boil my entire body. She was disguised as my date and I . . . um, sort of slept with her.” Arturus’ face turns red as he looks back at Melias.
Melias takes a step back. “Ewww.”
“Oh come on. It’s not that bad. In fact – it was really good. Too bad she’s evil and all,” Arturus says. In a jovial tone he adds, “Maybe she’ll even have a baby from the encounter and then you’ll be my baby’s uncle. Come on Melias, welcome me to the family.” As he finishes, he walks toward Melias with outstretched arms.
“You’ll be lucky not to end up with leprosy,” Melias says with a look of distaste still heavy on his face. “SeLiem, can you check him for disease?” he asks, as he ducks the hug.
SeLiem smiles and says, “Do you really want me to or are you being sarcastic?” He laughs. He looks at Orjulun and bows, “Thank you, Orjulun, for the mace. My blessings to you.”
With a nod and smile towards Seliem, Orjulun leaves to make arrangements to get a message to his church.
Melias has quite a serious look upon his face as he tells SeLiem, “I wouldn’t put it past her to infect Arturus with hopes to infect us all.”
Tears threaten to run down her cheek, as Red hoists Orjulun’s gift and says a silent prayer of thanks to Corma. Receiving a weapon as a gift is considered a great honor in Dwarven culture and an axe is featured in Corma’s symbol, so this is an especially poignant moment for her. The battle-axe Red has used since she was rescued by Percy and Orjulun belonged to Bloodyblade Orcbane, the leader of The High Mountain Excursion Team, of which she is the only surviving member. Her hope is to one day return it to his family, so she will keep both axes. She slides the new axe under her belt, as she turns to face Arturus. “Ye slept with the enemy? Are ye sure ye couldn’t find another Elf maiden . . . any except her?”
“Well it’s not like I knew it was her! As I said, she had a magical disguise. She looked like the woman I was out with. When I knocked on the door to my room it sounded like Sylvia. She treated me good, but if we have to kill her next time – so be it.”
Percy gets everyone’s attention, then waits for Orjulun to return, before he starts. “As some of you already know, I visited the temple to Capra today and spoke with the High Priest Ifon, the former leader of Goodmanville. Since I am from the capital of The Nation of Homeland, he set aside a goodly amount of time for the conference, although I had to wait three hours for the meeting to commence. I told him we had reason to believe bad things may happen if someone other than Lincont is elected Guildmaster of the Allied Sellers Organization and Allied Seller’s Union. He pulled me into a more private chamber to speak with me after that. He asked what my sources were and many other questions. I ended up telling him everything I knew concerning Orjulun’s visions, our information about The Cube of Power, and the basic history of our group. He listened intently and asked a few more questions, but eventually, he decided to cast a Commune spell and see what he could find out by speaking directly to Capra. I don’t think he is very happy with what he called ‘The Special Group’ – the adventuring party who stole Lord Darkoth’s Map of Dorian Exploration and unearthed The Cube of Power. He seemed to think they were foolish and had been ‘unwittingly manipulated by evil forces’, He said the whole issue of The Cube of Power was being discussed in daily meetings in Homeland and a decision would be made as to how to approach the situation in due time, perhaps, a month or two. He would not forbid me to seek out the group, but warned doing so could just as easily lead ‘the enemy’ to them. Here is a transcript of his Commune.” Percy hands a rolled parchment to Melias. “I had to pay a fee and sign twelve separate witnessed documents to obtain this, but it was the only way I could feel safe the information was accurate. That took up the next two and a half hours of my day, but those sort of rules must be followed in order to-“
Rastorn cuts Percy short, spitting out the words, “In order to keep the nonsensical bureaucracy of The Church of Capra churning!”
At this, Percy stands and bolts toward Rastorn, but Red jumps between them and calms Percy.
Turning his back to Percy, Rastorn tells Arturus, “She likely fooled you with a Ventriloquism spell. She couldn’t cast it in your presence, but she could pull it off if out of sight, say on the other side of a door. It’s an old trick.”
“Well, we got our jollies off and a damn fine time it was. Really is a shame she’s evil and all.” Arturus says with a smile.
“Arturus, she’s more than evil. Her heart is black as coal. She’d just as soon sleep with you as skin you alive to get her jollies. At least she chose the more pleasing means of entertainment for your sake. But, I can guarantee she didn’t do it just for spite. She had a plan in mind. And you’re a bit foolish if you think otherwise.” He looks at SeLiem and asks, “So, did you detect any disease on him?”
SeLiem’s smile fades. “You’re not joking?”
Melias rolls his eyes and sighs, then turns his back on SeLiem. Now facing Percy, he hands him the Commune scroll and says, “Sorry, I can’t read the Common language, but I do appreciate your obtaining this information for us. Somehow, I feel it’s silly to think some enemy force out there searching for these special people would follow us along as if we could succeed where they have failed. That seems to me as if they are admitting to themselves that we are better than them. How many people do you know like that?”
Percy glances at the pocket where Orjulun placed the magical stone, then nods at Melias.
Arturus steps between them. “Trust me my friend, I don’t think otherwise. I’m just trying to play down a situation that if I had known about I probably would’ve soiled myself. If I dwell on it and think about how it could’ve gone I’d probably have to be locked up in a madhouse,” he says, his smile no longer present. “But still, you think I might change her? Maybe I could be your brother-in-law one day.” Arturus says, this time it was apparent he was just trying to poke a little fun at an otherwise grim situation.
Melias sighs, then softly pushes Arturus aside.
Percy reads the scroll for Melias and everyone else, eliminating all the extraneous, flowery language, ritualized excess, and unrelated praying that Priests of Capra were known for.
“Will a plague spread from The Swamp directly to ASU?
Unknown (too general a question, but I had him ask that one).
If Lincont is not re-elected this year, will it have a negative effect on ASU and those she trades with?
Unknown (too subjective).
Does Rube G. Howges personally know Lord Darkoth?
Unknown (no divinations can be answered concerning Lord Darkoth, due to some extremely powerful ward he has always had against it).
Does Rube G, Howges have an important connection to The Swamp?
Yes (the question was pretty general, but it led to the next question).
Is he originally from Paradise, the only city in The Swamp?
Yes (this brought a shocked reaction from the High Priest Ifon, apparently Paradise is full of dishonest people).
Is there any direct relationship between Rube G. Howges and the group of adventurers that included Blitzarrow the Elf and Linus the Hobbit?
Is there any direct relationship between Lincont and that group?
Yes (this seemed to surprise the High Priest a little).
Does Lincont know where they are?
No (he seemed relieved by this).
Are they dead?
No (he seemed relieved by this, also).
Has The Cube of Power changed hands since the last time I Communed asking this question?
No (he seemed very nervous about the answer, until it came).
Has Our Queen Mother made substantial progress in her work to develop a plan for getting The Cube into more neutral hands?
No (he did not respond to this in the least, but I think he may have been hiding his feelings to some extent).
Is The Cube of Power still at risk of falling into the hands of Terrorek?
Yes (he asked this so automatically that I felt he forgot I was there and had asked the question numerous times in the past).
Has Percy Mudd been chosen to be among those that find the aforementioned party, so that they will not be slain by other bounty hunters?
Yes (he explained that future events may not come true, just because one is ‘chosen’ it does not mean they will be successful).
Is the prophecy that I previously uncovered, concerning The Cube of Power still a realistic possibility?
Yes (he seemed frustrated).
Can it still be stopped?
Yes (he closed his eyes for several seconds after relaying the answer to this question).
At that point, I was hurried out of the room by his attendants and told that the rest of his questions do not concern me and are only asked in private. Then, they told me the church cannot get involved in the politics of cities other than those that are a part of the Nation of Homeland.”
“Did you learn anything useful?” Rastorn asks Percy. He looks away when Percy glares at him.
“Hold on, Rastorn, there are a few points of importance. For one, it’s sounding like this Priest knew about some prophecy concerning that cube. He said he’s the one who uncovered it. Or are ye hearing different?” Red comments.
“How about we let the apprentice read over this ‘word of god’ thing tonight and tell us what, if anything, can be learned from it?” With that, Rastorn takes the transcription from Percy and hands it to Orjulun.
Percy frowns at Rastorn, then smiles at Orjulun.
“There, now let us vacate these undersized accommodations and do whatever it is we do. I’m sure Arturus has another doxie set up for tonight, right? I know I have spells to study,” Rastorn says.
Percy responds, “Actually, I could use a nice hot bath, while we are still here. Arturus, I was also going to ask you about training on the two-handed sword with me tomorrow morning. You may be one of a few Elves large enough to use the weapon.”
Arturus shrugs his shoulders, then nods.
“Ooo, a bath . . . mae back . . . and other parts . . . would love that right now!” Red exclaims. Then she lowers her voice and again asks, “Has anyone seen Lil? Even for a minute?” When everyone shakes their heads, she leaves, with her head low.
Rastorn and Percy follow her out.
The group does not see one another again that night, until they get a surprise wake up from Melias an hour past midnight.
Continued next week . . .
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