The Case of the Fleeing Necromancer: Epilogue
My master paused his horse and seemed deep in thought. I couldn’t blame him; after all we had just been involved in finding the missing necromancer Kylie Evernight. And that assignment had taken more than a year and only led to a greater involvement on our part in ongoing issues. Still, to be morose was unlike him. He had been in on again off again thought since we were slowed down through an area muddied by rainstorms two miles ago. I rode up next to him after making sure that our undead servant, the former Earnest Billock, would be able to catch up in a reasonable time. Billock had gotten off easy as far as I was concerned, he had impersonated and unfailing and tried to kill a necromancer. That even his bones still moving about was a gift.
I pulled even with Jeremy. “Alright… What is it? You’ve been thinking about something for two miles and it’s obviously upsetting.”
He shook his head, “Damn my confounded arrogance.”
I was startled. He normally was not one for self-abasement. “Not disagreeing, but curious.”
“And the arrogance of all Necromancers,” he continued, “All mages!” He pulled his horse to a stop and I did the same a moment later. “Frederik, what do we know so far?”
I shrugged, “Same as we did leaving Greyhawk City. Guildmaster Asuru, head of the Anatomist Guild was afraid of the potential of a young necromancer named Kylie Evernight. He abused his power to harass her, and when that did not destroy her career, he hired a mercenary named Earnest Billock to pretend to be an unfailing bodyguard and eliminate her. Billock chose the odd but sadistic weapons of extortion and starvation as well as mental games. Almost dead, she was found and returned to Hollowfaust. Her labs were ransacked, and the guild ignored it. She eventually took secret quarters in the city, and when these were ransacked and her work on a renewable food source taken, she fled to Greyhawk city. When her absence was discovered by those not involved in the plot, we were dispatched.”
He nodded, “Almost complete. Almost complete.”
“And what did I miss?”
“That Asuru has betrayed Hollowfaust to Glivid-Autel.”
My mind swam. Hundreds of years ago, two guildmasters were expelled from Hollowfaust for murder of a fellow necromancer and horrific experiments. Tasson, who was the one in charge of security and head of the guild that studied negative energy… the disciple of the Abyss, my masters guild. He had been a torturer and in league with the monster Ahrmuzda Airat who headed the society of immortals; A small group of cult like followers of the charismatic Airat, who all wanted to live forever. They took citizen and experimented on them. Most notably the investigator who exposed them all but was ignored who then went missing but was found after torture and experimentation and had been turned into a lich. This was our current grandmaster, the ever vigilant Baryoi. The traitors were exiled, would justice not have been so merciful, because they established in the Dreadwood, a society dedicated to the conquest and destruction of Hollowfaust: The vile Glivid-Autel; The only place to, of their own free will, side with Vecna during the war.
I began to proclaim my masters haste to this conclusion and apparent madness. He raised his hand. “You forgot to mention that Asuru had used Billock exclusively for many jobs. And he knew him well. That much is born out in Billock’s effects.”
“Alright?” Speaking of Billock he had passed us a bit while we spoke. I ordered him to stop. My master raised a hand and pointed. My eyes followed the line indicated until they came to rest on the back shoulder blade of our retainer. And I saw what my master must have seen when, moving slow in the mud the plodding undead had passed us. His shirt had been ripped by the difficulty of the travel and the elements and visible now was the clear tattoo insignia of Glivid-Autel. It was The Skull and Serpents. It was the sign of the Necromancers and their Naga and gorgon allies from the Dreadwood. “It only proves…” I stammered, not willing to believe this.
“That,” Jeremy interrupted, “either knowingly or by accident, Asuru has betrayed us. Agents from Glivid-Autel are within our walls as mercenaries from time to time, but what are the chances of his consistent favored one being an agent and it being a coincidence? Kylie Evernight had a formula for a the soil to make essentially a constant food source for Hollowfaust. Who has that now…Asuru or Glivid-Autel? “
There was silence until my master broke it. “We must get home. We must get Billock to those on the council with authority. And they will assign us to find out more. People will try to kill us. Kylie’s right to be scared of the Isle of Woe, but for now we are in far greater danger of death than her. And I would have known sooner if the little monster had been walking ahead of us…rather than behind, as is the custom. Again Frederik…damn the arrogance of mages."