The Case of The Fleeing Necromancer (Part V)
The Church of Zilchus in Greyhawk City was impressive… of that there was no doubt. The god of money does not usually have sparse accommodations. I sat outside on a bench looking around at the city. It was indeed magnificent city, bristling with activity and life. It made me… uncomfortable.
The vast gargantuan expanse was a stark contrast to Hollowfaust, which was nestled into the mountains with unassailable heights and defenses. There were few ways into Hollowfaust, but here it seems if you waited beyond the gates and fell asleep and woke up the city would have assimilated you in the meantime. The great walls moving on their own to assimilate the countryside seemed a viable option to the foreign observer.
I waited outside the church until finally the man I was waiting for exited. Holding a small chest was Earnest Billock. Anyone familiar with the last few adventures would think how well he had recovered from his recent case of death. He approached and pointed to the chest with a smile. I hurriedly closed the distance between us. “Master, when actually physically wearing a dead man’s face in order to retrieve his personal effects from the church of Zilchus; perhaps giddy is not the way to go.”
“True,” he mused, “and it does itch. The spell that grafts this on could use some… adjustment. We should get to the inn.”
I led him through the streets to our room at the Nymph and Satyr. As I sat and waited for him to remove the disguise I wondered if any of the Heroes of the Key had spent the night in this room. Had our Hollowfaust heroes been in this room? I looked around foolishly as if some sign would remain thirty years later.
I wondered about them; Sarah Bloodsin and Justin Sinclair… the Heroes of the Key from Hollowfaust. Justin, unfailing of Sarah, husband to the necromancer Beverly and father to (among others) Iris, the high priestess of my own goddess Leara. It was with pride that I reflected that it was Hallowfaust that stood forth and was the first city or country whose armies denied Vecna. Outside of our walls we began to turn the tide of the Archlich war. I was raised on the glory and sadness of the stories.
“Thinking about something?” Jeremy asked, returning to the room with his disguise removed and stored.
“The Heroes of the Key.”
“That’s right… Doesn’t a god own this bar?”
“Yes, in name at least I believe. Valdred, Elven god of restoration and redemption.”
“I can believe that.”
I looked at him. Had I missed some metaphysical hint or glory that revealed the subtle presence of myth and history? “Why?” I asked.
“The bathrooms are very nice.”
I took a deep breath. “Are we going to open this box?”
“Indeed,” he said as he knelt and checked it for traps, “But first lets make sure Earnest did not leave a surprise. He used his magnifying lenses on his glasses as he peered into the lock. Suddenly he looked up at the corner of the room where Earnest stood silent and obedient, as all zombies do. “Earnest… you didn’t leave us a nasty surprise in this box did you?”
The thing inclined its head in thought before answering in a painful strained voice, “No… sir.
“Right then, Frederik. Let’s open it.”
The box contained an eclectic collection. But mostly it contained Hollowfaust coinage and gems. I whistled, “That is a great deal of money. He could not have extorted all of it from her.”
“No,” Jeremy said, “Some of it is his payment as well. Guild masters, one would think, could pay handsomely for work and silence.”
I sat on the bed as he sat on the floor with the chest. “This is bad,” I lamented, “A guild master, member of the sovereign council hired someone and had as an option killing a necromancer who was innocent of any crime. All because of some… what… destiny?”
“Seems so,” he replied as he paged through papers, “There is a rough journal in here that indicated he told us the truth word for word. And he kept being used, there are other commissions… so to speak. In fact…” He removed something from his pocket and unrolled it. I recognized it as the piece of paper he took from the flood of the destroyed Evernight laboratory.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“This is the invitation that Kylie Evernight was given that took her from home that night so her lab could be destroyed. An invitation,” he said producing a writing kid from the box and removing the calligraphy quill and tracing it along the letters, “written by this quill.” He stood an began pacing the room. So he was hired as the main weapon in all this. Of course that makes sense because Asaru would not want more people knowing. One trusted mercenary is enough. So we can safely assume that Kylie Evernight fled Hollowfaust and came to the only other place she knows. Greyhawk City.”
“Well,” I said, “how fortunate we are that she only came to the largest city in the world or perhaps multiverse. Otherwise we might be in a difficulty.”
“You are such a homebody on the negative energy plane, Frederik.”
“I have no response to that,” I replied bewildered.
“They never do…” he mused, “but finding her could not be simpler. We lack only a fairly current description. And we know where to get that.”
“The Paladin who saved her life! This Sean Westfield, he could at least describe her and unlikely though possible he may even be helping her hide.”
“If I were her, I would have trust issues. But I digress… she would be doing what she knows. We are looking for a herbalist and or apothecary of great skill and creativity who was established in the last 4 years here in Greyhawk city. We find this Paladin and ask him for a description and then use that to aid in the finding her combined with the other information.”
I nodded, “So we find her and tell her what happened.”
He sighed. Not in exasperation but in the way he does when he hates what the explanation will be and wishes it was different.
“Frederik. There are many things to consider. Why is this happening? Why does a guild master want a guild member dead? Why do this? There are other means for a guild master to use to make a member irrelevant. But he has chosen bitter, angry and vile methods. I am sure he has suppressed and abridged members in the past. But this is extermination on a physical and spiritual level. Why? If we find Master Evernight we could expose her to death if we cannot protect her. And we cannot protect her if we do not know why."
I understood his logic. It was sound. “But,” I said, “She will see us… We scream Hollowfaust.”
“We will be her protectors.”
“To her we will be her hunters, her jailers… She will live in fear knowing we are here.”
“She will. I suppose it is too much to think she would assume we were her to find her for good reasons.”
“Jeremy, what in her experience would lead her to expect that of her home?”
He looked extremely sad for a moment. “Which brings us to the last reason we must let her see us; figure out who we are and then live in fear of us for a time.”
“What could that possibly be?”
“Because people in fear show who they truly are. Heroes or villains, they reveal the best and the worst. And we need to know what those are in her.”
“Frederik, what if grand master Asaru is right? What if Kylie Evernight needs to die?” I was dumbfounded. But he continued. “What if her destiny is such that all Hollowfaust is endangered? If you had to kill me, kill you necromancer to save Hollowfaust, would you do it?”
I was aware of a growing dryness in my throat. I swallowed and thought. Would I kill Jeremy if his existence would destroy Hollowfaust? I nodded slowly. “I would kill my necromancer yes.”
“See Frederik… this is why we must be sure she…”
I interrupted, “But I would not kill my best friend.”
There was a silence between us for a long time as neither knew what could or should be said. Finally Jeremy broke it. “We could not travel back before the snows were at the base of the Hellfurnaces. By the time we find her we would be far to late to return. We would need to stay here until before Growfest next year anyway.”
“I doubt she needs to die… I think…”
He trailed off. “What?”
“Not sure. We need to research and we have time to do so. But I think that Kylie Evernight may need a guardian or two. I do not trust grand master Asaru. And that means that the fate of Kylie Evernight is tied to the stability of the sovereign council of Hollowfaust."