The Case of The Merciful Illusionist Part V
The thing about those in the employ of the Severstrian family is that they do not rattle easily. The family, once led by the now retired Gavin Severstrian, Hero of The Key, were very influential. There are a large…let’s be polite and call them a trade organization. Let’s be more accurate and call them…powerful merchant family. Let’s be honest and call them…Crime Lords. Nice crime lords, all things considered. Far more lawful than evil But, still, crime lords nonetheless. So their messengers, in particular those who could wield magic, were not to be trifled with; ever. They bore messages of the utmost importance and preferred to be impeded. This led to a certain removed distant quality, or to sarcastic humor both often twinged with arrogance.
The messenger who was standing now ready to defend herself against a gang of necromantic Baklunish thugs at twilight at a watering hole; had yet to revel which flavor of Severstrian messenger she was. She looked from my master who had just taken control of the shadows with his usual flourish and the stunned and cautiously advancing thugs. “Well,” She said, “I suppose being saved by a gay necromancer is new.” Obviously she was the sarcastic type.
Jeremy looked at her, “You mean save from…I suppose; not saved by.”
She shrugged, “From…by…it really doesn’t matter.”
“Well it does to me.”
“Aww, hothouse flower, when this is done we can talk about that. Up to you if we are doing it stitching up dozens of wounds on each other or not.”
“Are you coming onto me?”
She scowled and took two of her fingers in a V shape and pointed to her own eyes and then pointed at my master. The implication was clear, I am going to have to watch you. And, I may kill you by the time this is done.
“Well I suppose,” my master said, “your constant attention will keep me alert. Jeremy Moonrise, Necromancer of Hollowfaust.” He said as he introduced himself.
“Uh huh…I figured out the last part. To equal out the first, Serena Hollins.”
Through all this the thugs, or cult members, had paused at the odd exchange. They were not used to being ignored. In the moments of confusion Mr. Tarella stepped out from the darkness. I remained hidden since my master and I usually waited until we gave each other some kind of sign. The cult leader stepped forward when he saw our illusionist friend.
“Quentin, you have taken extreme measures to resist paying protection.” The cult leader removed his hood to reveal a face marked with the ritual tattoos that indicated worship in the Bakluish cult of death. They worshipped a demon named Iblis who was mostly unknown by that name in the east. “I would have thought you were wise enough to not bring such retribution as this will cause.”
Mr. Tarella shook his head. “This is not about protection money. It is about evil. I do not tolerate it. I have seen what it brings unchecked and have no intention of allowing it to fester here. Your mistake was to bring yourselves to my attention; not the other way around.” With that he drew his sword cane. “I am not an excellent fighter, but I do well enough with what we have here to deal with you. And if we deal with you, we deal with the cult.”
“Indeed.” The man said, “that is true…but one necromancer who claims to be from Hollowfaust a traveler here by accident and an Illusionist. Not at all an overwhelming group.”
My master broke into the conversation. “Claims to be…CLAIMS TO BE!!”
The other necromancer dismissed him with a wave. “Necromancers from the Faust do not travel unprotected.”
“Danm straight we don’t! FREDERIK!! COME HERE AND DEFEND MY HONOR!”
Serena shook her head, “Like a good husband.”
Jeremy looked at her sideways, “If you don’t mind, I am in the middle of something.”
“Oh I don’t mind at all. Do carry on.”
I stepped, a tad anti-climatically at this point, from cover. The necromancer fell back a step then seemed to regain his composure. “This is an illusion, of course. Well played my friend….but…”
I did not let him finish, but proved myself not an illusion by stepping forward while harnessing the magic inside of me and putting my fist directly through the chest of one of his minions. The surprised look on the minion’s face was frozen forever. Quickly, I raised my leg and kicked to the right of my, now buried in jackass to the elbow, arm. The force of the kick knocked the man free and he fell at the feet of his comrades. It was at that point that general chaos ensued. The cult members broke into a mass flight that was directionless with the exception that it was…away. The leader attempted to turn as my master threw a disk that attached to his chest and began to glow slightly.
He looked in confusion at the object then at my master. Jeremy explained, “It heightens the signature of your life force. Spells such as detect life and such would be very easy to work on you right now.”
The man paused; although he should have ran his ego would not allow it. “And of what use is that kind of garbage spell? You have done nothing.”
Jeremy shook his head. “What are they teaching young necromancers these days? I just put a fan waver behind a turkey dinner. I just sent the aroma of you wafting through the air…so to speak. What I did, my uneducated friend…” He released the shadows who immediately charged the necromancer and enshrouded him as he screamed. His screams grew older in sound and older and then became whimpers and then weaker…and then gone. “Was ring the dinner bell.”
Everyone was silent. All, presumably, out of shock; except me. I was cleaning my right arm.
I heard Serena. “Alright, that buys you some insult free time.”
The next morning we sat with Quentin Tarella over breakfast. The main topic of discussion was why there was no body left after the shadows fed. Jeremy explained, “They devoured him so completely that all that was left was a new shadow.” He reached into his pocket and took out a small bottle with a stopper. It was filled with a moving black mist, “This shadow to be exact.”
Quentin leaned forward and tapped the glass and the thing inside reacted, but helplessly so. “Interesting. But you know, normally I am not so brutal.”
“You should look into it,” I said, “It makes things quicker.”
“Well,” our new friend said, “A deal is a deal…what do you need from me?”
Jeremy held up his hand while he finished a spoonful of fruit. When he was done he wiped his mouth and said, “The Nightmare god has taken a kind of avatar and is infecting the lay lines of the planet, at the same time it is weakening the walls to a place where the mad god is imprisoned. Because of that he has been able to draw boogeymen from that world to here. At the same time Asmodeus is trying to find a body. Working for both of them is a crazy gnome. Garl Glittergold says you can help us defeat her without killing her and help her sister.”
Quentin sat frozen.
“We said it was important.” I said.
He remained in thought. “boogeymen.” He finally said with a slight terror.
“Yes,” my master started, “They are…”
He held up his hand, “Oh I know them. I’ve killed them.“ We looked at him with unanswered questions in our eyes. He nodded, “I was born in the year 371 CY in the Great Kingdom, I was lost in the year 380 CY, known across the Flaness as the year when the Company of Woe left for the Isle. Time moves differently where I was raised. I grew up in the city of Richemulot on the demiplane of dread; the Prison Plane of the Mad god….."
Thus began the story of Quentin Gabriel Tarella III.