The Case of The Doctor’s Doubles (Part IV)
“I know…right.” Quentin added.
I knocked on the office door of Circe Harnett. She called for us to enter and I walked in to see a cleric with a stunned look on her face looking at a chalk board with with various necromantic formula scrawled on it. I recognized the complex sigils and equations as a soul trapping ritual; but something was off about it.
“That,” she said while still in the middle of a conversation we had walked in on, “is not possible.”
“I beg to differ. It is…well not easily…but non-catastrophically possible.”
“Did you notice? Did you happen to notice, Mr. bend the laws of magic, that you were not really aggressive on the word ‘non-catastrophically.’”
My master blustered, “As a matter of fact I did notice.”
“And,” she said rising from her desk and placing both hands on it as she leaned forward, “would that be?”
“Because I am not 100% on that being right.”
There was dead silence.
“If I may,” I interrupted, “maybe a list of superhumanly good deeds will lighten the mood.”
Circe Harnett crashed back into her comfy chair. “Sir, it is nearly eight in the evening. After seven hours of discussing morality and magical theory with your master I believe I have done enough good deeds to ensure my eventual children are on the Needsfest nice list for the next 15 years. But by all means continue…if for nothing else than to have a different voice fill the air.”
Quentin made a face of a person who wishes he was somewhere else but is, by forces beyond his control trapped where he is; in an awkward situation. I handed him the list. He nodded grateful to break the tension since Jeremy was about to speak. Quentin started:
“At lunch he bought extra food and took it to a nearby shelter as he left. He helped two children in the park build a kite on the way to the shelter. People confirmed the food was a common thing, nearly constant and in addition to a monthly donation. He then went to a lecture at the college where he explained basic first aid in rural situations for an initiative to get doctors to non-urban areas. He went back to his lab and worked on making various potions and cures who’s nature were obvious when he tested them. That was all before 5pm. Normally at that time he has open hours but because of the lecture that was adjusted today. Before open hours he…I am not kidding, went to the animal shelter and fixed the broken leg of one puppy, the eyesight of another and played with the rest. He then returned home and, free of charge, took patients from the poorest quarters of the city until a late supper at 6:30. Before we left he was reading the holy book of Pelor and praying.”
Jeremy shook his head, “Puppies…you did not make up the puppies?”
“Not only did it happen,” Quentin said, “Fredrik and I each had a shot when it did just to add some vice to the situation to balance the universe.”
Miss Harnett removed a bottle from her desk with four glasses, “Not a bad idea.” She began pouring drinks. She looked at Jeremy, “It is a fairly high proof Mr. Pale, it won’t give you a tan or sunburn will it?”
“You kid,” he said, “because you love.”
“I bet,” she responded, “you tell yourself that a great deal.”
He took a glass and inspected the contents, “It’s a coping mechanism. Velunese Brandy.”
She nodded and raised her glass, “Gentlemen.”
We all drank and stayed silent for a time. “So,” I asked, “courting the danger of an argument. Why was it so tense when we arrived?”
“I suggested we…well,” my master slowly tried to phrase something delicately, “Well that we use Dr. Cartwright as bait, trick Bartholomew to us…perform a magical ritual that barely held him in check when he possesses him while we force him to answer questions. At the same time we make an imprint of Cartwright’s soul so we can extract it and hold it in a vessel until we are done with Bartholomew.”
“And,” Miss Harnett prompted, “why would we be holding the good Dr. Cartwright?”
“So,” my master said, “we could kill his body to prevent it’s use by Serrik.”
“Murder him,” Harnett corrected.
“Only his body,” retorted my master, “The good part would be saved. And I could make him any number of amazing bodies…with as many arms as he wanted actually.”
“You keep saying that about the arms as if it is a selling point and I will say…oh well that makes it ok then.”
“Mr. Moonrise, for the last time, extra arms to not make up for the immorality of stealing a man’s body and murdering it.”
“Oh by all that is holy, we’ve been over this longer than it takes Wee Jas to get ready in a mirror….it’s just a body; Raw materials at best. And extra arms would be amazing for a doctor.”
I held up my hand. I pointed at my master, “You remember that we are not at home, people here are attached to their bodies emotionally as well as physically.” I turned to Circe, “And Cleric Harnett please remember this is the fate of the entire world we are talking about, and this is a far better solution so far, than our other options.” They both sat down but looked away from each other.
“Extra arms…” Quentin mused, “If one could be concealed in the chest to prevent socially awkward situation…”
“That’s a given,” I quickly said, “but what if we could get his consent without Bartholomew knowing?”
Circe nodded and pointed to the board, “That’s where the impossible things start to come in. I don’t even know how he knows that…it is mostly clerical and it’s very…well Flan. And it is totally new.”
I walked over and looked at the part that she was indicating. There were symbols that were definitely Flan. If my studies served me they were incredibly ancient.
“Jeremy,” I asked, “what is this?”
“It,” he said proudly, “is a ritual to enter his dreams which are the secret areas of his own soul and protected from Bartholomew and get his permission to do my proposal. He would remember everything and would not…well die of shock when we revealed what he was.”
“How,” I stammered, “how did you figure this out? This is…well it is kind of necromancy but it is also clerical and frankly, beyond you. It is pure dream conversation. It’s talking to the innermost soul of a person.”
Our friend, awkward silence returned.
“That’s what he was about to tell me,” said our Cleric, “when you came in.”
Jeremy looked uncomfortable. “I dreamed it in the carriage on the way here. A very nice Flan lady explained it to me.”
“Alright,” I said taking out a communication crystal. “Above our pay grade. We are calling the others.”
“Oh,” said Jeremy cheerfully, “I thought of that and already did.”
“Well,” I said, “thank Leara for small favors.”
“They’re trapped inside the prison of the Mad god.”
Quentin, who had been drinking a glass of water sprayed it across the room. “WHAT!!!!!”
“Yes, Sir Christopher said they are working on a way to get them and to locate where they may be…”
Quentin looked at us in horror, “We have to get them!”
I calmed him, “Even if we had a way in and out..”
“Pardon me?” My master asked.
Quentin sighed, “I have a way into Ravenloft and back.”