The Case of The Fleeing Necromancer (Part III)
Jeremy seemed far more interested in Kylie’s more recent apartments in the city than those in the Underfaust. He began his normal routine as I stood looking at the obvious. Jeremy had a special set of glasses with rotating lenses that each did different things. It was magical for some lenses and not magical for others. I confess I do not know all of the abilities… magnification, seeing the invisible, gauging ambient heat and detecting negative and positive energy were the functions I knew.
My master sat looking intently at the area around the workbench before he went into the bedroom and back out to the living room. “So what do we have, Frederik?”
“A promising necromancer,” I began, “Seemingly blackballed by her own guild and harassed. We have an unfailing who is in gross violation of his duty and must be punished. We have a necromancer who is either abducted…”
Jeremy cut me off, “She fled. That’s not up for dispute.”
“Oh?” I said, essentially asking for an explanation.
“She fled to the city to save her work. After a time here, she received the invitation, her place was ransacked, and she knew it was not safe. Unless the abductor wanted to allow her to pack, we can rule that out. There are obvious signs of a haste and packing. I suppose it could be under duress… but whatever ransacked this place was not subtle. I doubt it was the waiting kind.”
“It? Surely after all this time hope of knowing who or what was here is lost.”
“It was golem of some kind, as well as two humans, however the humans left before the golem.” He pulled out a brush and began to brush parts of the floor. In a moment he had a fine powder gathered. “Necromantic dust, it is a byproduct of several types of necromantic golems.” He rotated the lenses and looked at the floor, “There is one set of footprints in the dust trail… same in and same out. So the two humans left before the golem. Then master Evernight came in, hastily gathered some possessions and left.” He headed around the desk, "The golem handled the heavy lifting and was here in case they were disturbed. But the piles of debris have two distinct patterns… indicating two people. They were not after anything; they simply wanted to destroy.”
“So,” I asked, “who could engineer this cover up of what happened in Greyhawk city?”
“Someone powerful. I think we will have to find out why in order to find out who. Even sniffing around the people we would need to investigate would be suspicious. So we will have to come at this from a different angle. First we need to find Earnest Billock, this alleged unfailing.”
I was excited to hear the word alleged because I harbored the same thought. “So you also think that he may not be an unfailing at all?”
Jeremy nodded, “It seems likely.”
“Shouldn’t be too hard to determine if he is one. We are organized and even if this mission was expunged, there would be others.”
“Good,” he said, “You go pack for us… I’ll check the records for the unfailing. And, follow some other leads from here.”
I nodded, conscious that he did not want me thinking about the vile unfailing. “I’ll go pack provisions, clothes and supplies for a trip… how far?”
“Greyhawk city,” He said, “and somewhere else I do not know yet. But to the Gem of the Flaness will do for now. If Earnest Billock was taking money in Greyhawk city he would have used the Church of Zilchus for exchanges and storage. The spending and cashing of an Obulus and Pentacle into Plate and Orb will be noticed. The coinage of Hollowfaust is well known and treasured by collectors. A bank can make more than its value by trading it to collectors. And such things are noted. The only way around that is to put it in a security chest at the church. That would not be the style of an employed mercenary or an unfailing. And for exotic exchanges or temporary storage the church holds a drawing to match to the face for large withdrawals.”
I did not see what he had gathered from the floor but knew I would find out eventually. “As usual, we meet outside the weary pilgrim in two hours?”
He nodded, “Two hours should be more than enough time.”
Two hours later I was waiting outside the weary pilgrim, the visitor friendly inn of Hollowfaust. It was never especially hectic but one could always see a fair selection of the Flanaess represented. I watched as Flan and Oerdian… as well as non-Hollowfaust Suel wandered in and out of the inn. Their visitor amulets marking them for what they were just as much as their looks; they looked at the city with wonder and fear. As I watched the travelers Jeremy came out of the weary pilgrim.
I waited until he got to the horses and mounted his; “You were inside?” I asked.
“Of course… where else would I get this?”
He passed me a scroll that I unrolled and found myself looking at a stern unattractive man who I instantly distrusted. “Who’s this… individual.”
“Why Earnest Billock of course.” He said with a rather immodest tone in his voice.
“Billock,” I said, “but… how?”
“Frederik, how many mercenaries pass through Hollowfaust in a decade… one maybe two hundred? And out of those how many would be good enough to be entrusted by a high ranking official to impersonate an unfailing? A handful at best. And where would they be found: The Weary Pilgrim.”
I stiffened. “So you went into a hostile environment, with foreigners, immigrants and mercenaries looking for a man unscrupulous enough to kill a young female necromancer by starving her to death while in the guise of her protector… and you had me…” I swallowed hard, “packing.”
He thought for a moment, “You’re cross, aren’t you?”
“Am I,” I exploded, “Your safety is my business and you went on some wild umber hulk chase to find the picture of a man who has not been here for years! You risked your life… the life of a necromancer… slumming around in a bar… Oh, Leara’s winding paths, you wore a disguise, didn’t you? You wore a disguise like always and took it off in the privy before coming out. You played a deadly game of dress up while I was putting socks in a box!!”
He bristled slightly the moped, “I wouldn’t call a flawless impersonation of a Oerdian war mage…dress up. Besides he was here four days ago.”
“I don’t care if he…” his words finally hit my brain, “Four days. We can get down the Hellfurnaces faster than any visitor… If we knew where he was…”
“He went to the Passage of Slerotin, in the town of Dark Gate in the Yeomary. He accepted a commission to help train a group going into the Sea of Dust.”
I grimaced. We could catch him… or follow him and confront him in mostly lawless Dark Gate. We could interrogate him for information and figure out what we needed to know. At least that is what I told myself. I wanted to hurt him. That was all I really wanted at the moment… to hurt him for almost killing a necromancer; for making a mockery of the vows of the unfailing. At the same time, I wanted to punch my charge in the face for taking unnecessary risks. “Let’s move. We have time to make up.” When I thought nothing could make me laugh Jeremy looked at me.
“Frederik?” He questioned.
“Yes.” I replied sullenly.
“Do you want to see my Oerdian war mage hat?”