Where the heroes find themselves at odds over a murder in town.
Crowds gather and disperse, some anxious to see, hear and spread the rumors of the lumberjacks being saved and the evil woman discovered by the Deputies. As the Deputies move off to talk amongst themselves, Meander leans over to Ember and says softly, “She was evil right? Tell me she was evil.”
“Meander, when we came into the square, I felt more wrongness than I felt in that barrow emanating from her. And now that we have had a chance to look over the body, I’ve seen this amulet in my god walks.” Ember gestures to the cast-iron symbol of an eye. “My god was telling me something about it. I don’t know what, but somehow, the bitch had to die.”
“But that means she is evil.”
“Not anymore, she is dead.”
“Um urb, I mean, She was evil.”
“Ok.” Meander says quickly and looks somewhat comforted.
But Ember persisted after a few moments pause, “Well… Yes and no. I really don’t… My deity led me to believe there was a wrongness about her. Was she evil? Evil is kind of a relative term.”
Meander looks at Ember, obviously agitated again and somewhat puzzled and confused.
They look over the items confiscated from the woman; a dagger with a narrow, triangular, thrusting blade, a smooth river stone with a magical aura, two keys, and two amulets attached to leather cords. One amulet was cast in the outline of an eye. The other amulet was a copper circle with three bands that swirled to the center. Ember identified it as an ancient symbol for water. Meander takes the symbol. One of the keys was a relatively simple inn key, while the other key was more ornate. Ember said the lock must be rather complex. She has a small purse with 50 silver.
Basically once the word of the lumberjacks being saved starts to spread around town and the Magistrate hears that the Deputies are back, the town wants to throw the Deputies a party, but there is a general feeling of uneasiness regarding the woman. Since we just got back, it will take a bit to prepare. They are planning to host the party in the green behind Jack’s Jacks.
The body of the woman was covered in a burlap sack, and Shade’s Cough was carting her to the cemetery. Ember pulled aside some of the local kids, spotting Kitten and Jabs nearby. “Find out where she came from for me.” They run off, eager to help.
Ember turns back to Meander, “I’ve got to spend some time God Walking. Something is not right here.”
“Yeah… Yeah… Obviously.”
Ember picked up the two keys and marched to the nearest inn, the others following suit, which happened to be Jack’s Jacks on the square. Ember walks up to the barkeep and shows him the two keys. “This key, any idea what this is to?”
He points to the simple key. “That looks like one of our keys. Did you get that from the girl?”
“Yeah, she is staying here.”
Spring adds, “Was.”
“Yeah, she was staying here.”
“Ember asks, “What room?”
Jack begins to lead them to the room. Meander asks while they walk, “When did she get here?”
“Actually she was here a couple of days ago. Then she disappeared for a couple of days. Then she showed back up this morning. She had paid for a week for the room, so I held it for her.”
Ember asked, “Did she give a name?”
“Yes… Um… Yes… She said her name was Starlight.”
Meander muttered, “Oh yes, that sounds evil.”
Jack said, “She said she came from Emperor City.”
After some thought Meander asked, “Where is Emperor City?”
“It’s on the coast.”
“Yeah… You know the Naval Shipyard – the fleet.”
Meander looks puzzled as ever, “Ahh yes.”
“That’s what all this lumber is being cut for. Everybody here knows Emperor City.”
Jack leaves us at the room, and Ember unlocks the door and everyone piles inside. It is a small, plain room with a small, plain bed. There is a very worn traveling pack on the bed. There is a cupboard and a chest. The cupboard is bare and the chest is empty. The pack has a couple of sets of well worn but heavily stitched traveling clothes. There is a bedroll and a cloak. At the bottom of the back are two small expensive leather-bound books.
Spring perks up at sight of the books.
Ember opens the books and they are both completely blank. “She has leather-bound books with no words in it? What kind of stupid bitch was this?”
Meander looks over at them, “Are they really blank, or do they just look blank?”
Spring adjusts his glasses as he studies the books for awhile. He doesn’t see any active magic, but can see the traces of spells cast on them in the past. There was some sort of instant, subtle spell that was not maintained. Likely, something was cast that transformed the books, and the changes stay after the spell fades. These sorts of spells can often be dispelled afterwards to remove the transformation.
Spring asks, “I think I can do something about this, but I need time. Can we take these?”
Ember answers, “Oh yes, we are going to take them.”
Meander says, “We have time… at this point.”
Spring says sarcastically, “Really?”
Ember says, “We don’t know…”
Spring blurts out, “Ember just like… killed her! Like the power of something compelled him. And um…”
Meander furrows his brow and interrupts, “Well.. I thought you guys told me that the Knight killed her.”
Ember answers cautiously, “Technically yes, he did.”
“Alright, I’m going to go with that.”
Spring appears conflicted, staring at the books, “I donno.”
Ember asks, “Spring, you are saying there is a spell on these books? What are you saying?”
“What I can glean, is that there is something concealed on these books but it is not active anymore. I think we can reveal it. The problem is that it is risky to do right now. We could destroy it in the process. I know you are probably ok with that.”
Ember says defensively, “No, not necessarily. I don’t really know where she came from or what she is.” He sighed heavily before continuing, “Can you… I don’t want to ask you to do that.”
Spring says flippantly, “I could cast Dispel Magic on one of them and then we can see.”
“No… I need some time to do some God Walking. Perhaps that will reveal more of what we need to do.”
Meander says, “So you need to God Walk, you need to learn/relearn some spells. All that seems like it takes time.”
Spring, “We’ve got a party to go to.”
“In a couple of hours.”
Ember says determinedly, “I’ll be at the party when I get to the party. This comes first.”
Broken clues in,“Uhh, you can do that in the wagon.” Then he proceeds to talk to himself about partying and making money.
Spring says, “Let’s take the books with us and I’ll study higher levels of Detect Magic so we can glean more informations.”
Meander says, scratching his head, “So what if she was working with some body else?”
Broken answers, “Then when we get back we will have to save the city, get more money and everything will be cool.”
Ember walks off to find an appropriate place to God Walk, and the others go back to the town hall to make check back with the Magistrate. They find out the lumberjacks were rushed to the Temple of the Inheritor for what care and healing Lady Songbird can provide. While they are there, Gavel Greed comes down from the Perch, with a few men carrying a chest. He turns formally to the Magistrate and pronounces boldly, “As for the terms of the contract that the lumberjack signed, since they were harmed on the job, they will be given their full bonus. If they do not survive their wounds, it will go to their family. If they do survive their wounds, they have a job waiting for them in Tree Haven.”
Greed shakes the Magistrates hands who says, “Thank you. I’ll pass that along to the lumberjacks.”
Greed then turns to the Deputies, “And to the Deputies, who fulfilled their contract, here is their reward. 40,000 silver pieces of gold, to be split amongst you.” He waves the two brutes forward, who pass the heavy chest to Meander.
“Well, Magistrate, if you don’t mind, I’d like to have a private word with the Deputies. Congratulate them.”
“Ok, Ok.” The Magistrate turns to leave and walks out behind the two men, who wait outside.
Greed turns back to face the Deputies, his face now menacing and angry. “I know what you’ve done. And I know how he died. And you don’t have me fooled! You may have this town fooled, thinking that you are a bunch of do-gooders, but I know the truth! So, just know that I’m watching you and you better watch your back!” Meander starts to speak up but ends up sputtering as Greed whirls about and stomps out of the hall.
Spring says, “Well…”
Meander, “Good thing we were watching our backs.”
“Yeah, he would have had us.”
“And we got 40,000 silver of Greed’s money.”
Broken makes a small noise of triumph, “Woot.”
They make their way back to wagon to deposit the chest, with Stone Man and the wagon itself to stand guard. Broken insists that the wagon can take care of itself. Then they travel back to the Sitting Duck to get ready for the party. Broken insists that he must have a good bath.
Ember’s God Walking…
Ember settles down to quest for answers from his god. He concentrates on the following thoughts, searching for answers, “I am wanting information on what made me feel the way I felt about this person that made me kill her basically. There is something about her. It ties in with that thing that I made last time, this symbol. When I saw the symbol, it clicked, that this was definitely a connection. I want to build something that will add to that connection that will give me another piece of the puzzle to figure out what is going on with this person and this feeling that I had.”
After long struggle, Ember finds himself at a forge, with a crew of idiot craftsmen. He is trying to conduct but they just can’t seem to pull it together. It appears they are trying to craft the symbol of the eye.
He refocuses on his thoughts, and concentrations further. He is at the forge and realizes his mistake. He was forcing his own preconceived notions onto the project. When he gives into his god, he directs them to build a different shape, the three swirly. Once the symbol is crafted, and the workers rejoice having built before the timeline was up, “Ha ha, we did it, We got the symbol before the time is up.” The symbol exploded, not like it failed, but like it was broken.
Ember shifts his questing thoughts into a new direction, “I want to try to see if there is a synthesis between those two symbols somehow.” He is at the forge, trying to build a new shape that is the two symbols merged into one. It looks like an eye with fire coming out of it. Once the shape is complete, the water symbol again shatters, leaving just the symbol of the eye. It appears that some kind of outside force is interacting with the water symbol. It definitely feels wrong.
Reviewing the thoughts of the explosion, the people are blown back and upset that the work was interrupted and destroyed. The two explosions were equally disruptive, with relatively the same destructive force.
Concentrating on the feelings that overcame him when he first saw the woman, he quests for more answers. He relives the same experiences in the God Plane, the building of the water symbol, and the explosion of the symbol once complete.
Trying one last time to garner facets of information, Ember focuses on these thoughts. “Hearthstone is about protection and healing, and he was directed to kill this woman. Is he entering into an ancient holy war here?” Again at the forge making items and directing the craftsmen. They have learned their lesson not to add in preconceived notions and begin making a series of blades. The blades are then turned into plowshares. Once they are completed with the plowshares, there is the feeling of completion. This leaves Ember with the distinct feeling of “No.”
After a couple of hours, they meet back up at the party. Spring turns to Meander, “What have you been doing? Did you take a nap? You obviously didn’t take a bath like Broken.”
Meander turns blankly to stare at Spring, “What?” He looks around and then starts partaking in the celebration by downing a beer.
There is food and ale. Everyone seems happy. The towns people want to hear the stories and the Deputies tell the tales, studiously leaving out the last bit about PayDay.
Like magic, Sandpiper shows up for the party. He is a portly, elderly gentleman in good spirits. Spring eyes Sandpiper and sees a flare of magic as he lights his pipe with his finger. He also notices the missing eyebrow and straggled beard that bespeaks a lack of control of fire. Six pints in and near the end of the night, as he is barely able to stand, he is lighting farts from across the green.
He points his rear at the fire and it goes up with a whoosh. He and the few lumberjacks around him laugh and laugh. Spring can tell that he is casting spells in time with his farts. Sandpiper is able to cast his spells without the pomp and circumstance of normal spell casting.
So, during a lull in the party when the Deputies have some time to themselves, they fill Ember in on the meeting with Greed. Meander finishes by says, "So we have a new best friend in town.
Ember says, “So considering that he tried to have us killed, that doesn’t surprise me.”
Broken asks, “So, he did flat out admit that, right?”
Spring and Meander both answer, “No.”
“He suggested it?”
Meander says, “No, he flat out said that we killed Pay Day and he knew that.”
Spring added, “Which somewhat implied that he knew the plan.” Ember agreed.
Meander looks puzzled, “No, not necessarily…”
Spring continued, “How would that not imply that? If he knew that we killed PayDay, then…”
Meander struggles, “He could have them inspected and sees what the wounds were like…”
Ember said, “The wounds were cleaned and dressed. Four of the Regulators died at the lumber camp. So unless he found that other Regulator, which I highly doubt…”
Meander, “Oh that’s right! The other Regulator…”
Spring says, “That is a dangling participle…”
Ember says, “I personally think he set them on us. So, I’m not losing any sleep on it.”
Spring, “Oh! I didn’t think there was a question about that.”
Ember, “There was a doubt whether PayDay was going rogue just so he could get more of the reward for himself.”
Spring, “I don’t know the arrangement, so if PayDay brought the guys back, he would have gotten the reward?”
Ember answers, “No. PayDay worked for Greed directly.”
Meander added, “PayDay was there to make sure we got the job done.”
Ember continues, “and from what the Regulator said, he implied that the plan all along was that we didn’t have too many people come back to claim the reward.”
Spring says, “I don’t think we can read that any other way.”
Ember agrees. “I don’t either.”
Meander relaxes his brow and shrugs a bit, “Alright. I’ll trust you guys.”
The next morning, earlier than they would like, the Deputies find themselves around a table at breakfast at the Sitting Duck. Ember discloses a bit of information about the God Walks to those nursing their heads from the party. “Well, I didn’t find any more information about the books or about her, just that they have something to do with this symbol.”
Spring mutters, “Oh just that you freaked.”
“There was a reason for that. There was a reason for that. I have to take it on faith that it was the right thing to do.”
Broken comes down, looking obviously hung over and disheveled.
Someone at the bar yells out, “Hey! So what ever happened to that good looking chick last night?”
Broken says, “What chick?” Everyone laughs at the bar.
However, no one has any time for further questioning as a young townsmen burst in the bar and yelled out, pointing to the Deputies. “There has been some kind of murder near the blacksmith shop. You’ve got to come now!”
Meander jumps up, “Alright! I’m on it. Come on guys. I know where the Blacksmith is.” The young man waits for them outside and takes the Deputies down the street, turning right onto a side street that passes behind the blacksmith shop. Behind the shop is a wide open area that is now a bloody scene with four bodies. Spring stops as soon as we spot the scene of the murder. The others continue over to investigate.
Two of the bodies laying side by side were toughs or thugs. Their stiff leather armor is torn to shreds, and they carried a normal quality sword and dagger.They look like they have passed through a hailstorm of weapons. Blood is everywhere, and they have been sliced, battered and bruised all over their body.
On either side of the toughs, almost lined up in a row, are two of the red robed priests.
Ember glances at Meander, “Friends of yours Meander?” Meander bristles at the comment.
Looking at the trim, one of the priests had flames on the trim of his robes. He was horribly burned, his hair completely gone, skin blistered and bleeding. His robes were blackened and missing patches. It was as if he stuck his head in the forge, as there was no sign of fire in the area.
The other priest, his robes trimmed with waves, had no sign of injury. Axeheads, unfinished blades, horseshoes, nails, hoes, plows, and other metal implements all line up in a perfect line right in front of him.
Broken says, “Heres what happened. First of all, there was a struggle.”
Meander leans over the water priest, feeling his clothes, wondering if the water priest died by water. The priest robes don’t feel wet, but when Meander looks in his mouth, it is completely full of water. The priest has a very pasty pallor to his skin.
Meander says, “So they were all killed by what they could do? It’s like their stuff was turned against them?”
Ember studies the fire priest. There is no indication of external fire. The blacksmith is well insulated from fires to protect the town, and there is no indication that a fire broke out in the blacksmith shop as well. The fire was definitely real and nasty fire, as if he was literally dumped into a bonfire.
Meander yells out to Spring. “Hey, can you detect…” Meander asks ToughBark, “Can you see what tracks you can see here?” Meander then walks over to Spring, who has been hanging out in the alley, avoiding sight of the bloodshed. “It looks like these two guys by fire and water. I do know that they have magical abilities based on their elements. Can you see any residues of power used here?”
Spring says quickly, turning a bit pale, “From here, it looks all good to me.”
“It’s almost like their magic was turned against them. I don’t know anyone who can do that kind of stuff.”
Spring looks nervous for a moment, then sighs. “So okay. If I go over there and take a quick look…”
Spring follows Meander back over to the bodies, but he is obviously uncomfortable and nervous.
Ember looks over at Spring quizzically, “You spend your time going through tombs, what is your problem?”
Broken snickers, “Tombs deal with bones of dead bodies. These are fresh.”
Ember says, “They are fresh”, waving some of the flies away.
Spring stammers, “Yeah. I know.. I’m not.. I.. um.. Ok… Look… I’ll take a look, but…”
Broken says, “You need to grow a pair. You are a Deputy now and you…”
“By the way, I am NOT a Deputy.”
“I don’t think he has the stones to be a Deputy.”
“I’ll admit it. If there is some magic involved, then I’m all about it. But I’m not comfortable!”
ToughBark exclaims, “You know what… I can’t tell. Too many people have come and gone. I see tracks everywhere. The best I can tell, I think the two guys um… well all of them really, they were doing something beforehand, they were stomping around. I think they were probably in a fight of some kind. But, I see tracks everywhere and I can’t tell who’s who, and yeah… there could have been people here, there might not have been other people here, it may be a week old. I don’t know. There has even been a horse through here at some point.”
Spring stares at the scene through his specs and doesn’t see any active magic nor any recently cast spells. He could study it further and do a detailed analysis, but it just isn’t worth it. “I don’t see anything. I’m out.” With that he walks back over to the street.
Meander and Ember look over the bodies. They both concur that this happened last night, maybe as early as the party. It most likely happened after the party. Ember searches over their bodies of the priests for symbols. He finds their symbols which they are fond of displaying, but nothing like the symbol of the eye from his Walks.
Ember turns to the two townsmen that are standing around watching. “Does anyone know who these guys are?” One of the guy looks a bit ill, the other was the one who had fetched them from breakfast.
The second one spoke up, “Those are those priest from outside of town.”
“What about these two?”
“Well I donna. They’re not from here. Not from in town, unless they are new lumberjacks that haven’t gotten to know folks.”
“Who discovered them?”
“The Blacksmith when he came in”
Broken leads the group inside to question the Blacksmith. “Where were you last night?”
“I was at the party.”
“Ok, how late did you stay?”
“Oh not real late. I got work to do. I got four whole orders of axeheads that I have to do for the Lumber Consortium.”
Ember pointed to the line of metal outside, “You mean those axeheads?”
“Yea, those are some of em.”
“So how did they get to them?”
“I donna, all my stock and stuff is missing from in here. I assume that’s it.”
“Has anything else been disturbed?”
The Blacksmith scratches his head and ponders, “Hmm.. No. Not that I can tell?”
Meander asked, “Was the back open? Was the place closed up?”
Broken asked, “What door did you come through?”
“Well, I live in the shop. Then I open up the place, you know, it gets hot in here. But now that you mention it, I do believe one of my shutters was half open. But when I opened is when I saw them so I didn’t think about it till now.”
Ember said directly, “Which shutter?”
“This one right here”, pointing to the shutter directly facing the scene from the shop.
Ember goes over and inspects the shutter, looking for breaks or jammed. It looks like it was broken open. He sees splintered wood on the inside. It looks like it was forced open from the inside. “What happened to your shutter here?”
The smith inspects the frame, “I donno. Yeah.. It looks kind of beat up, don’t it.”
“So it wasn’t like this yesterday?”
“Well, I don’t know. I don’t really look at it… It wasn’t broke yesterday.” He tries to close it. “See, it won’t latch now. It is broken now.” He pauses for a moment, then continues, “Yeah! I came down this morning to open this up. I noticed it was open, but like I said, before I could think about it when I did open it, I saw them layin’ right there. So I … I sent Burl here to go on over and get you.”
Broken says, “We appreciate your time. Don’t leave town. We will be contacting you in a few days with more questions.”
Ember shakes his head.
The smith mutters, “I’ve been living here 25 years… I ain’t going anywhere.”
But Broken continues, “If you think of anything more, send a squire over to contact us.”
Ember, Broken, Spring and Meander decide to take a walk to the priests tents on the outskirts of town. As they walk past the walls of town, Broken asks them, “Hey, does anyone remember what happened last night?”
Ember says, “In regards to what?”
Meander says, “What, with you and the chick?”
“Yeah. Was she hot? and was she a peasant?”
Meander said with a grin, “She was definitely wearing peasant garb.”
Spring said wryly, “Looks like she was going to be a ton of fun.”
Thinking back on the party, there was a nicely dressed, mature woman flirting heavily with Broken. They were drinks LOTS of wine and she was all over him.
Soon they approach the tents at the edge of the woods. They have one rather large, heavy cloth tent, held aloft by a massive center post and ropes, and several smaller, satellite, pitched tents for sleeping. The camp is fairly rough, with several cooking fires and laundry lines scattered around in the area behind the main tent.
The group approaches the main tent. There are several people sitting around the main tent with some acolytes fanned around the entrance. A curtain drapes across the center of the tent, blocking the view to the back section.
Ember approaches one of the acolytes. “Is there a senior priest on duty please?”
“Um.. yeah. Just a second… I’ll get him.” The acolyte wants back through a split in the curtain, and a few moments later, approaches with another priest sporting geometric earth shapes on the trim of his robes.
He calmly says, “Can I help you?”
Broken and Ember begin to speak at the same time. Ember sighs and turns to Broken, “Let me deal with this please Broken.”
Broken mutters, “Erm Um.. Berino ow talk to people.”
Spring and Meander stare at Broken, obvious trying to make out what he said. Ember gestures forward, “Ok, go right ahead.”
Broken steps up, “Hi. Are you missing anyone today? Have you done a head count?”
“Um… No… People are free to come and go as they please.”
“Well maybe you should. There are two guys that look like they come from your company that got into an incident down in Boar’s End.”
“Really, what kind of incident?”
“The kind of incident that left dead bodies… including them.”
“Oh? Was there anybody else involved?”
“Two other males who have yet to be identified.”
“Were they robbed?”
“Doesn’t look like it.” Broken turns back to the group and whispers, “wait, were they robbed?” Ember stands staring at Broken with his arms crossed, saying nothing. Broken turns back flustered, “We don’t know if they were robbed. There was no evidence of theft.”
“There was a big tough… There was a fire robed guy and one was a water robed guy.”
Meander, unable to stay quiet, “It looked like they were killed by their own elements.”
Broken says, “That’s true! It looked like they were killed by their own element, which is very strange.”
“That is strange.”
Meander steps back again and struggles to stay quiet.
The priest gestures over to the acolyte who came to get him. He whispers something to the acolyte, who then runs off.
“Well, we will see if anyone is missing.”
Ember tries to offer some physical characteristics of the fire priest, but as he starts, he realizes there isn’t many physical descriptions he can give.
“We have a few of the flaming ones around. We will find out who he is.”
“Do you guys have any enemies that we should know about?”
“We are not always welcome in every place. We bring a new message and some people are attached to old ways and don’t want to hear any new.. news.”
“Has there been any particular incidents involving hostility against you and yours.. from anyone around here or anyone out of the usual?”
“Not that I am aware of.. no. Boar’s End has been very accommodating to us and we have made a point to not get in the way of townsfolk.”
Broken spies the trim and ask him, "Can you like lift rocks and stuff?
The priest nods.
Broken turns back to the others, “Do you have any more questions? Because it sounds like until they know who they are missing, there is not much else to talk about.”
The priest takes the opportunity to ask, “Do you know what they were doing in town?”
“Not exactly. The only thing that could come to mind is the party of our arrival and victory against evil for the town.”Ember can’t contain another sigh and Meander rolls his eyes, but Broken continues unabated, “But it does not look like they were there to give us any gratitude for our endeavors.”
The acolytes hustles back into the tent and whispers to the priest. He then walks back over to stand near the entrance.
“So, it seems that we are missing two members who fit the description.”
Meander speaks up, “What were their names?”
“MightySurge and WhitePoint”
“How long have they been here in this camp with you?”
“Actually, they are newly arrived. They have only been here for a couple of days. They said they came from out west.”
Broken, “Well, I don’t have any more questions?”
Ember steps up, “Do you have any idea why they would be interested in a blacksmith or axeheads? You see, at the scene there were a line of metal implements from the blacksmith shop lined out almost ritualistically from the body of the water mage.”
“That doesn’t sound like any of our rituals. Our rituals are more contemplative in nature.”
After a long pause, Ember speaks up, “This probably has nothing to do with any of this, but are you familiar with either of these symbols?” Ember draws the two symbols from the two amulets.
“I think one means water.”
“Do you know of anyone using them recently?”
“No, but I’m not much into the ways of water. Stone is a stronger element.”
“What about the other one.. the eye?”
“No, I can’t say I know that one. Where did you find these symbols? Did they have them on them?”
“No, this is just curiosity on my part. I’m always trying to find more information from people.”
“Would there be anyone here who knows these guys or may know their movements?”
“I can ask around and see who has spent the most time with them, but like I said, they were newly arrived.”
“It would be nice to know their movements last night, to figure out what they were doing. It appears they may have broken into a blacksmith shop last night as well.”
“Hmm. That doesn’t sound like us. We don’t have much need for any mundane tools.”
Meander says, “There are a lot of details that don’t make sense yet.”
“Well, I will have someone come by and gather the bodies and give them their appropriate rights. If I learn anything else, I’ll be sure to let you know.”
Ember, “Thank you.”
The group nods to the priest and walks back towards town. On the way back, Ember told the group again about his meeting with a group of these priests up north while coming to Boar’s End. He thought they were like him, but decided after a few days that they were whack-a-doodle. He met groups of these priests as far north as the Torn Lands. They were also in Honor’s Stand, but they were not well tolerated there.
They also compare notes about the party the night before. No one remembered seeing any of these priests at the party. They decide to divide up and talk to the townsfolk to try to see if anyone recognizes any of the four guys. No one wants to look at the bodies, and no one who has seen them has recognized them. Also, by the time the Deputies get back to town, the bodies have already been collected. Nobody in town seems to have any tangible leads about them being in town. The townsfolk do talk about the priests, but only in general.
As the group gets back together to catch a quick bite to eat, they realized they’ve hit upon some dead ends.
Broken says, “Well, let’s start planning for our trip to Candlestick.”
Ember frowns, “I don’ t think that is a good idea yet.”
“Why not? I want to make some money.”
Meander says after a bit of thought, “I could go talk to Frog to see if he could give us any insight.”
Broken adds, “That is a great idea.”
Ember looks at Meander questioningly, “Frog?”
Broken says, “You don’t know Frog.”
“Yeah he was a guy who we travelled to Boar’s End with. He ended up setting up shop with Laurel after we found the cure for the Black Scour Taint.”
“For the who?”
“A disease… A plague that was infecting the town when we arrived.”
The group leaves off questioning townsfolk and follows Meander to go recruit some help from Frog. They swing by Laurel’s and find Frog inside, looking at some herbs behind the counter. Frog is an exotic, dark skinned man, darker than any the others have seen. Ember thinks that he bares a striking resemblance to the dark skinned men on the God Plane.
“Hey Frog. I remember when we were traveling together, when we were first looking for the cure for the Black Scour Taint, you consulted the spirits and found out some places to look for. We are investigating a murder and I didn’t know if you could consult the spirits to try to help us find out what happened. The details are very confusing.”
“I can try.”
Meander leads Frog to the Blacksmith. He sets himself up a little fire and starts throwing weird smelling herbs into it. He begins to chant and hum and dance around the fire. After a time he sits back down with his eyes closed as if he is meditating. Ember studies the ritual and find that it is much like his own God Walking, except that he isn’t burning. Frog, quite the contrary, looks at peace.
After about half an hour, Frog opens his eyes and stretches a bit. “I did find something. There are some agitated spirits here that don’t belong. They were a little upset, and I helped them back to where they needed to go, so that should clear the air here. But that shed a little bit of light, maybe, on what was going on. Apparently, one of your guys was killed by fire and one by water.”
Broken says sarcastically, “Thanks Frog.”
Meander says cautiously, “Ok.”
“Oh, you already knew this?”
“One of them was killed by a fire spirit?”
“Kindof. The fire spirit said he was ripped from his home and he was being torn about like he was in some kind of storm. A he was being pushed around by forces more powerful that him. He knows that he caused the death of a living thing. He felt its spirit release when his energy was flowing at its highest, and it was very irritated at being used in that way.”
Broken says, “And so…”
“And there is no fire here. He felt very out of place. And so I helped him get back to where the fire is. And so he went back home. And then there was a water spirit who said the exact same thing.”
Meander asked carefully, “Do you know who could do something like that? Or what could do something like that?”
“Well, this kind of sudden dislocation of spirits is something that mages do. You know, I try to work with spirits, cooperate with spirits. I don’t rip them out and make them do my bidding. So, I would say there was magic being employed here. Magic that creates fire and creates water where none exists.”
Ember asks, “This spirit, did it have any idea that… the people that it killed were not the ones controlling it, I presume?”
“It did not have a sense of that. It was not given enough chance to participate. It was being forced blindly into its work. They said there was another alien spirit, a spirit of earth, that they did not know. When I tried to contact this spirit, it was already gone. But they said there was one other spirit that was doing violent action.”
Broken says, “If there was Earth present, then that might mean there was an actual earth dude here.”
Ember says, “Possibly.”
“It sounds like that headman knew something he wasn’t telling us. He’s a suspect.”
Frog says, “I couldn’t find traces of the Earth spirit like I could the Fire and the Water. But I could maybe try again and look. It seemed different though.”
Meander walks over to Spring, who was still hanging back from the scene of the murder, "Now that the dead bodies are not here anymore… can you see the magical residues any better?
Spring pales slightly and says tentatively, “Well, since there are not any more dead bodies here, I could do a little more investigative work.”
Ember says, “Once again you deal with tombs! That by definition deals with dead bodies.”
“Hey, it is what it is.”
Spring examines the scene carefully, with an eye for magic. He can tell there probably was some magic here, but his spell is just not revealing enough to catch the residual traces. Knowing that he has a much more powerful detect spell in his spell book, Spring brings out a small book filled with arcane script and symbols. He flips to a certain page, studies the symbols for a minute, and begins casting a spell. Arcane magic crackles around him and he completes the spell, and he begins to study the scene with renewed sight and vigor.
There were several different spells cast recently, and their auras are fading. Most of these spells were obviously divine magic, most likely from the priests. Frog’s Spirit Walking is also visible, and it appears to be divine magic as well. There are traces of some arcane magic. The greatest concentration of the arcane magic is on the metal. Some of the divine magic was fire, some of the divine magic was water. It appears that two different water spells were cast. The more he looks, one of the water spells has residues relating to cold and ice.
The arcane magic appears to all be from the same spell. There is more of it on the metal than anywhere else, but there are signs of it elsewhere, just used in different ways.
Meander looks up at the group, “Random thought. Did anyone actually see the girl that was with Broken leave? He was with a girl last night and she went to the inn with him. She wasn’t there this morning when Broken came downstairs.”
Broken said, “I was hung over.”
Meander said, “Anyway… The magic that was used on the weapons was something that caused them to animate?”
The magic has signs of binding and spirit manipulation. The auras are similar to Broken’s animation magic. Spring hasn’t seen Broken cast a spell like this.
Meander asked, “Is that arcane magic?”
“Yes… Broken’s magic is arcane.” Spring pauses, then adds, “Do you think these could be related to these books that we got? I could read the same spell out for the books. It just seems weird all these coincidences and we have a clue that we haven’t looked at really hard. It wouldn’t take long if we think they are related.”
Ember says, “I see no reason not to.”
Meander asks, “So does it look like these two guys were cut up by these weapons that were lined up in a line?” He starts inspecting the metal pieces. There is definitely blood on the metal pieces. They are not soaked in blood as one might expect. Ember joins him inspecting the metal. “The blood looks like it might have been cleaned off these instruments.” The blood definitely has a diluted quality.
“Like it might have been washed off with a water spell?”
The two guys had so many cuts, they probably bled out in a matter of moments.
Meander turns to Broken, “You need a spell like that.”
Broken says, “I’m working on it.”
The group realizes that they had not taken the time to inform the Magistrate. They go back to the town hall to inform him.
The Magistrate replies anxiously, “Yes.. Yes.. I heard the gruesome news. I want you on this right now.”
Meander says, “Oh, we’ve been on it.”
“Oh good. What did you find out?”
Spring waves to Broken, “Broken…”
“Four guys are dead… and it looks like some serious shit went down.”
“No, something more human… like magic.”
“We have a witch in town? What are you telling me?”
“We might have a witch in town.”
Meander intercedes, “But we are tracking it down.”
“Ok.. Good. Good.”
On the way out, the Deputies run in Kit. She tells them what she had discovered.
The Lady had been staying at Jack’s and had been seen in town for a few days. No one knew who she was. She wasn’t visiting anyone that she could tell. And only Jack really knew who she was. Jack seemed to be the only one who had any significant contact with her, besides like buying apples in the market.
Spring says afterwards, “I think we need to go look at the books.” There is general agreement, so they make their way back in mass to the wagon. Spring lays out the two books and gets out his spell book, then casts his spell. Magical lines and auras light up in bright relief.
Transformative magic was definitely used on the books. He can pinpoint the spell with his detect magic and the books should still be there after the spell is complete. It was a spell that was cast to transform a book into a different kind of book, not create the book out of thin air.
Spring casts his Dispel Magic, targeting the transformative spell on the books. Suddenly, writing appears on both the books. The writing is some kind of bizarre strange scripts. Spring passes the books around, “Can anyone read this?”
Meander says, “Yeah, these don’t look like the scratch marks that I’ve seen as numbers before.”
The books get passed around the group and come back to Spring. He looks at the symbols again and suspects that they are codes. He starts to play around with the codes and realize that this is a complex code. Someone that was skilled in codes created this and cracking it is going to take hours or maybe even days. “I’m going to need some time to break this.”
Meander says, “Well, you will have time on the way to Candlestick.”
“Yeah, I was hoping that it might help us point out some direction with what we have going on here. I think this reveals that we are dealing with a paranoid mind. Ember, you might have had something there.”
Ember, “Um hum. I know I had something.”
Meander, “Not only did she erase the books, but when you reveal it, it is still garbled-y-gook.”
Broken says, “Hey! Paranoid is not such a bad thing. It has helped a lot of people in the past.”
Meander says, “What?”
Spring says, “Schizophrenics?”
Broken says,“No… That’s Paranoid.. not paranoid. Oh nevermind.. Nevermind!”
So, the Deputies are lost for what to do next. They head back to the Sitting Duck and begin to talk about the trip to Candlestick.
One of the merchants overhears them talking and speaks up, “Well, you can’t just go to Candlestick! If you haven’t left by half a bell after dawn, then you might as well wait until the next day.”
Broken snarls, “Why?”
The merchant says, “Because of the wolves! You don’t get caught in the Wolf Run Hills at night. If you can’t make it to the Travellers Inn by nightfall, then you wait until the next day and leave first thing in the morning.”
Broken growls with frustration.“Well, alright. Let’s chill and work on some things here tonight.”
Ember mocks surprise, “Wow, I’m shocked. You are not going to say… My wagon can take anything.”
Broken says, “Well it can, but if we are not doing anything, we might as well work on some spells. I mean… it’s a win-win.”
Ember says, “Ok. Do what you are gonna do. I’m going to go back out to talk to the priests.”
Meander groans, “Ohhhh crap… Ok. I’ll go.”
Ember says, “Are you ok Meander?”
Spring says, “I’m fine not going. I’ll head back to the wagon and work in this lab.”
Broken, " Alright, I’ll go help you. I need to draw out with chalk lines exactly where you can put your stuff."
Meander and Ember make their way back to the tents. On the way, Meander discloses his experience with the robed priests to Ember.
“I don’t know if I told you the story, but I told the other guys. I got roughed up by a couple of these priests, back before I came to Boar’s End. I thought I had been cursed by them, but now I know more of what was happening. They were basically threatening me and I got away with my life, but I probably was poking my nose into a situation that I shouldn’t have been.”
Ember’s eyes open up wide, “Oh shit! Cursed! Remind me that when we get back. Those two lumberjacks still potentially have a curse on them.”
“Oh yes. Yes they do.”
“You had mentioned something about that to me, but you hadn’t really gone into it. I know that when you first saw me you were a bit disturbed.”
Meander begins to hedge, “I’m… not… I don’t really want to see the two priests that I saw then. That is why I am always nervous about coming here.”
“My experience has always been, they don’t really know what they are dealing with. They are too busy looking for what power to get, and not looking at the responsibility that comes with it.” Ember pauses a second, “But that’s pretty much the same with every mage I’ve come across. The only difference in this case is, they are actively worshiping something. They are worshiping something but it is almost like they don’t, in general, have any regard for what they are worshiping besides what it can give them.”
They approach the main tent again to meet with the Earth priest. The acolyte at the entrance hurries to fetch him and Ember and Meander don’t have long to wait before he strides through the curtain.
“Well, I asked around. They said they came from out west. They were sent to us to help. We are getting a lot of worshipers and we are thinking of setting up a more permanent residence that would be more comfortable to live in. I’m having problems with that because everything around here is owned by the lumber consortium and they don’t want us to have anything.
As far as I know, they were legitimate and they were helping out in the usual ways and were worshiping. I don’t know what they were doing in town. They didn’t mention it to anybody. I strictly forbade the party, so they were not supposed to be in town."
Meander says solemnly, “No one remembers seeing them at the party.”
“Well, none of my people should have been at the party.”
Ember asks, “How many of your following follow the same path as yourself?”
“I have two acolytes under me. I am the most devoted here, that is why I am in charge.”
Meander asks, “Were they with you the night of the party?”
“They are my pages, they were assisting me. But I turn in early so… Then they were free to pursue their own studies.”
Ember asks, “Do you know anyone, besides yourself of course, that would have the ability to summon an earth spirit?”
“Not here. No. I am the only one with that ability.”
“Well, that leads us to a problem, as there was an earth spirit summoned.”
“You mean at the unfortunate incident? Hmm.”
The Earth priest has been calm and cool the entire time. His last few responses were a bit bristled, as Ember suspects that the priest feels accused. The priest has been forthcoming and doesn’t seems to be covering anything.
Ember says, “Well, that being the case. There is someone else in this town who can bring forth earth spirits. I have had some dealing with followers of the path that you are on, and I get the sense that would not be a good thing.”
“To summon an earth spirit?”
“And not be worshiping it perhaps? The other spirits, from what we were informed, were rudely summoned and controlled.”
“That doesn’t bother you at all then?”
“I not sure what that has to do with me.”
“Ah… I would have assumed that would have been one of the tenants of your faith. I really don’t know.”
“Well, the earth spirit that I summon is a servant of my God. So he is here to do my bidding. I wouldn’t say that I am a rude fellow.”
“I wouldn’t say you did that either. I am merely pointing out, there is somebody here somewhere summoning earth spirits. And that a lot of the magic that was seen was divine.”
“Well, then I might have something that I can contribute to this. If an earth spirit was summoned, then I think I might be able to uncovered something about it.”
“We would be happy for any help that you could provide.”
Meander asks, “Would you be willing to come with us?”
“You want me to come and help investigate?”
Ember asks, “Would you be willing to do so?”
The three walk back to town, back to the scene of the murders. The priest stops and takes in the scene as he arrives. The blood is still everywhere, and the line of metal has been left untouched. The bodies have been moved away, but everything else has been left alone. The priest looks curiously at the line of metal instruments.
“So what exactly happened here?”
Ember briefly explains the bodies as they were found.
“Do you know what happened to them?”
Ember explains, “Nearest we can tell, the two that weren’t with you… at least I am assuming they were not with you. They were cut to pieces by this metal. We are not sure exactly what caused that. May have been an earth spirit, may have been a mage. We don’t know.”
“Hmm. Ok. Well let’s see.”
The priest begins to chant a spell. The ground begins to rumble as the chanting begins to resonate. Then out of the ground erupts a short fat version of stone man, missing all the arcane tracings and the metal struts.
Ember glances around quickly, but there is no one about. The only other person they can hear is the blacksmith banging away inside his shop.
The priest begins to talk to the earth elemental in a strange language. When the elemental replies, it sounds like stone grating on stone, a deep rumbling that sounds vaguely like they might be words, but seem almost impossible to pick out. The priest talks back to the thing and carries on a conversation.
“I have identified this earth spirit that you are talking about, but you have it all wrong. It is not a spirit at all, but a spell. This metal was magicked out of that shop. And a mage did it, no priest.”
Ember asks, “Magicked as in? It came out of the shop forcefully?”
“Yeah. Someone cast a spell on this metal and pulled it out of that shop.”
Meander and Ember both say, “ok…”
“That was the earth spirit that was here. It looks like your killer is a wizard.”
Meander adds, “Well, there were two other elements at work here. The fire priest was burned, so obviously fire. The water priest was… basically drowned.”
“Unfortunately, my servant here has no knowledge of that. Perhaps my brothers were defending themselves against this wizard.”
Ember says, “By using their own powers against themselves?”
“I can begin to understand it. Certainly a person would have to be a fool to attack me with Earth.”
Meander says, “I think that the fire… um… priest would say the same, as would the water priest.”
“Maybe they were not as devoted to their elements as they should have been.”
Ember says, “You have a point there.”
Meander says, “Well, this definitely helps fill in part of the puzzle.”
“Yes, I don’t understand why you though it was a spirit.”
“The source of the information. The person has a very spiritual bent.”
“Ahh, I see. Well, it was definitely wizard magic that did this.”
Ember asks, “Is there anything about that magic that would be unique?”
“Truthfully, wizard magic is a little out of my element.”
“Mine too, I was hoping you had come across it before.”
“I can tell you one thing that I know about earth though. Metal has a certain nature to it. Its nature is to destroy. If one seeks protection, one calls upon stone.”
“So whoever was doing this, has a more offensive bent to their mind.”
“I can tell you that neither of my acolytes have those proclivities because I am their teacher.”
“Understood. Thank you for your help.”
They escort the Earth priest back to the tents. As they are walking back, they begin to talk nervously.
“Meander, I’m worried.”
“Me too. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Yes… I am thinking what you are thinking, because the sound of 200 silver pieces keeps running through my head.”
“Yeah. Mine too. I think we need to go have a talk.”
“Perhaps we should lure him out away from a certain guardian to be sure.”
“Maybe over a glass of wine tonight? Oh.. but that’s in a public place. Hmm.”
“I’m not sure the direct approach is going to work. Let’s go find Spring.”
“Well, Spring’s at the wagon… Well, he may not be at the wagon anymore.” Meander turns and starts walking off towards the wagon. “I’ll go check.”
Ember follows along.
Once at the wagon, they find Spring and Broken busily working on tweaking and modifying the research lab.
Ember calls out, “Spring, do you have a few minutes?”
“Yeah… Yeah sure.”
“Let’s go for a walk, shall we?”
Broken leans his head out and yells, “Hey, do you guys think there is enough time for me to research a skill?”
Ember answers, “Should be.”
“What are you working on?”
“I’m working on some new spells, some new bad-assery.”
“Ok… Like what though?”
“Well.. Oh! oh, unfortunately you can’t benefit from this. There is this spell, where we all hold hands and complete the scientific circle and we all gain recovery. Unfortunately that’s science-based and not divine, so… I couldn’t exactly get it to work for you.”
“That is quite alright, because that still is not the right way of going about things… but whatever.”
“Water will help you recover and regenerate.”
“No… water won’t help me worth shit.”
“Well, it will drench your stubbornness.”
Meander quips, “And make you more angry and bitter… Ok, let’s get going.”
Spring chimes, “Which might be a recovery…”
Meander looks at Ember, “Oh! Curse!”
Ember turns back to Spring, “Ah yes.. Let’s go take care of that. Spring, if you want to continue working on what you were working on… I have a very pressing thing to do right now that I had forgotten about. Tell you what, meet me in a hour and a half, two hours at the Duck.”
Spring says, “We’ve been at this all day, and what have we found out?”
Ember wrestles with himself for a moment, then says as delicately as possible, “There is some information I need to pick your brain about, but first I have to go take care and make sure we don’t have someone affected by a curse and rampaging through the town.”
“Ahh – right. Ok.”
Meander says softly to himself, “Rampaging through the town…” then he perks up, “Hey I think I’m going back to the inn.”
So they split up again, Ember going to the Temple of the Inheritor to take care of the lumberjacks, Meander going to hang out at the inn for a bit, Spring staying at the wagon to study the books, and Broken at the wagon to research new spells.
Ember arrives at the Temple and meets with Lady Songbird. She is very concerned with these guys.
“There wounds are bad enough, and they are exhausted and suffering from malnutrition, but all their teeth feel out.”
Ember says emphatically, “Yes. They are cursed. I need to take care of that now. I didn’t have the ability to do it then.”
“Well… I’ll help.”
Ember describes what he is going to try to do, and she helps by casting a Remove Curse from the Inheritor, which does seem to help make Ember’s Remove Curse spell more effective. He spends the time with each one, being careful to insure that the curse is gone from each. During breaks between the spells, Ember asks Lady Songbird about the amulets.
“Are you familiar with either of these?” He pulls out the two amulets.
After a couple of hours of work at the temple, Ember leaves to head back to the Sitting Duck to meet Meander and Spring. Meander comes trotting up the road to meet him.
“Hey, don’t forget, we need to meet with the lumberjacks and make sure they aren’t cursed.”
Ember stares at Meander, “Pardon?”
Meander says a little less sure of himself, “You didn’t forget, did you? We needed to look at the lumberjacks. You told me to remember.”
“Um.. Ok.” After a long pause, Ember says, “Have you been grabbing hold of people again?”
“Uhh… No? No. Why! Why do you ask?”
“When was the last time we were together?”
“We just got back from dropping the Earth priest off at the tents.”
“and then we went to talk to Spring…”
“Where have you been?”
“Well I came from the inn.”
“Meander, I’ve been at the Temple for over two hours taking care of the lumberjacks.”
“Well, that a good thing. Are they ok?”
“I left you and told you that I was going there.”
Meander scratches his head…
“Are you having episodes also? Have you lost 200 silver?”
“I… I hope not… I don’t actually remember going to the inn. So, we were going to go talk to Spring, right?”
“We were… Let’s go have a drink.”
They walk back to the Sitting Duck and find a table. After they get a drink apiece, Ember begins by saying, "Explain something to me… I know you are… " He looks around to make sure no one is listening, “… gifted. And it appears that you don’t have control of what you are doing. Is that a fair assessment?”
“You have black out periods.”
“Uhh… Never before.”
“That you know of.”
Meander looks confused and straining to think through this, “Well… yeah.”
“As best you can, describe what you do.”
“It seems like there is some sort of imprint, when I grab someone, that their powers are imprinted upon me.”
“Ok. Do you retain these?”
“What powers have you taken from Broken?”
“Oh, just the uh… the animate spell, where it … animates an element.”
Ember mutters to himself, “I was afraid you were going to say that.”
Ember thinks back to the party, every
“It occurs to me Meander, that there are two possibilities for what could have happened, well three. One is an unknown mage of some type. The second is that Broken is a psychotic broken little bastard who just went off. I’m not ruling that out mind you. The third is that you are blacking out and something is happening. Those were priests of that religion who you are pissed off at.”
Meander looks shocked, “Uhhaaaa… What!”
“Take a drink”
Meander downs the whole beer. “Yeah, I don’t think that I have enough of Broken’s magic to be able to do something like that, One.”
“You mean, like not enough to be able to animate shadow – or light?”
“I can animate very little of it. It does very little. It doesn’t do much. You saw how Broken just took it away and increased the power threefold.”
“You have to admit though, it does look odd.”
“And on top of that, you coming and telling me to take care of the lumberjacks, when we had already discussed that.”
Meander struggles to make sense of it. “So, did I take away his memory loss too?”
“Broken had no memory of creating that golem.”
“Good point. I don’t know… I suppose that is possible, if that is a magical affliction of some type.. tied to his power. I don’t know what to say Meander.”
“Neither do I. Neither do I. We definitely need to get to the bottom of this – one way or the other.”
“Probably the best person to do that, of the ones that we know and can talk with, I’m surprised that I’m saying this for how little time we’ve know him, is Spring. Maybe he will have some ideas for tracing the magic back to the caster.”
“Yeah. Could he see if someone has cast a certain spell recently, like a magical residue on them?” After a pause, Meander continues, “Well, I’m not… running from this … in any sense.”
“I wouldn’t expect you too. You don’t seem the type. Again, it does seem odd to me, the ones that were killed, besides the… Did we ever find out who those two who were not killed by their own power were?”
“No… it was guessed that they were new lumberjacks.”
“Can you draw?”
“I’m great at drawing.”
Ember rolls his eyes, “Well, I don’t know if Spring has come and gone, or if he hasn’t arrived yet.”
“They will be back, it’s where we go at night.”
Spring comes back in to the Sitting Duck shortly with the books in tow. Meander and Ember were not there the last time he came in, and he went back to get the books to have something to work on while he waited. Ember called out to him as he came in, “Ah! Spring! Pull up a chair. Grab a wine or ale or whatever. We need your expertise on something.”
“Alright. Yeah.. Yeah..” Spring calls for a drink and comes to sit down at the table.
Ember begins, “We’ve got some more information about the killings. It seems that the idea of it being an earth spirit was not exactly accurate. At least according to someone who summons earth spirits, and summoned one to talk to it. That the actual killing of those two guys who were cut up, was done by someone who was animating blades. Animating Elements. Well… That sounds awfully familiar to me frankly.”
“However, there is another problem. Meander also can do that. Perhaps not that well, but he can do that. And, um, I’m not sure…” Ember looks over at Meander and says, “Sorry.” He turns back to Spring and says, “I’m not sure he is all there right now.”
Ember continues, “There is a block of time missing for him this afternoon. If that could happen this afternoon, that could have happened earlier as well.”
Spring says, “What are you implying?”
“I’m implying that we have three choices. That some unknown outside agency, Broken, or Meander. I was kind of hoping that you could look into it, to see if the spell that was used was consistent with their spell abilities.”
“I did look into it at the sight.”
Meander says, “And you said it was Arcane magic.”
“and that it was similar to Broken’s magic. I don’t really know if I can tell anything past that.”
Meander asks, “Could you tell if the spell was cast? Could you compare it to the magic that you see
to tell if it is that spell? Broken has multiple types of spells that can move metal. I only know one spell like what he does. Can you compare an active spell with what you saw? and then tell if it was the same spell?”
“Seeing the active spell would make a big difference.”
Ember says, “Well by God… Let’s go someplace quiet and you cast the spell.”
Meander, “We can do that.”
They get up and go outside of town. Meander doesn’t want to risk anyone else being hurt. Meander lays down a couple of metal dagger and then turns to Spring and Ember, “You guys will probably want to stay behind me.” He casts the spell and animates the metal in the dagger.
Spring sees lots of information about the active magic from Meander’s spell, but still only has a vague notion of what the other spell was. This spell binds spiritual energy to the object, and the mage isn’t moving the object, the spiritual energy is. It has the same sorts of aspects seen at the crime scene, but he can’t verify for certain that it is the same spell.
Spring says, “I can’t discern if it is the exact spell, but it certainly is a similar magic. What are you thinking… where would we go from here?”
Meander spends some time feeling the various power imprints and realizes that the was one that he had forgotten about… the one from the girl in the square. But he has no powers that would help him drown someone or burn someone alive.
Ember says, “Probably ought to put it out there, I don’t think he will take it well, but let’s put it forward to Broken.”
Spring says, “Oh.. I don’t mind that, just not to the Magistrate.”
“Alright, let’s back to the wagon.”
They make their way back to the wagon and Ember calls out, “Hey Broken, you got a few minutes?”
“Sure, After a full day of researching? I need wine… now.”
“Get some wine then.”
“Don’t mind if I do.”
“We got some information in regards to those killings.”
“Sweet! Anybody we can arrest?”
“Here is what we found out. It was told to us that the metal was animated … by spirit.”
“Ah cool. That sounds like something I could do. But… of course… I wasn’t there. I was with a woman – apparently.”
Spring questions, “Apparently?”
“Well, it sounds like me to woe a woman, bed her, and then forget her name…”
“We are not even sure she was a woman?”
“Oh I’m pretty sure. I only go one way… But that sounds cool if there is another animator in town.”
Ember says, “who is killing people?”
“Well that is the downside. I could study him, keep him in the lab… I always need more learning tools.”
Ember says, “It seems to me that we have three options at this point, we may have an unknown animator out there somewhere…”
“I like that option.”
“We have Meander, who has sucked some of your power out.”
“Well, that did make sense. He did freak out quite a bit the first time we saw those guys. And I’m pretty sure that they didn’t do really good things to him.”
“and he is apparently having episodes where he is having difficulties remembering stuff.”
“Well.. he probably had some bad wine. Oh wait… you see that’s why.. you went with that hardcore stuff, no wonder you are forgetting things. You should stick to the pure, more cultured
drink… than the dragon fire that you decided to drink.”
“and of course the third option is possibly you.”
“Me? I don’t know those guys. Why would I want to kill them?”
“I don’t know. You also have had episodes where you don’t remember stuff, take that golem you made.”
“That was a different incident!”
Meander asks, “But you also didn’t know about the golem?”
“That’s true. Maybe. I think I might vaguely remember something about that.”
Ember says, “Is there something tied to your power that causes you to forget things?”
“Absolutely not. My magic is a pure magic. I take the things that are already here and just give them a reason to act. I say ‘Fire, what do you like to do?’ ‘I like to burn shit.’
Spring tries to interject “Well… I…” but Broken just keeps talking.
“Well then I let them burn shit. It just so happens that they burn the dude that I want them to burn.”
Spring says carefully, “Now your magic is.. um. I don’t know. There is something disturbing about your magic. I can’t put my finger on it.”
“Well. It is probably disturbing to you because I am letting a free spirit be a free spirit. Normally, they don’t get to tell you what they think. But ..” He gestures wide and rolls his eyes, “.. when I get to them… Fire lets you know what he thinks, or shadow, or water, or light, or wood, or grass, or…”
Ember asks, “You are animating grass?”
“I can animate anything.”
“So let’s step back here and let’s assume that all three possibilities are possible. It could be you. It could be Meander. It could be some other unknown person.”
“Well.. I mean…”
“You don’t really remember last night, you said. You have vague memories of coyote sex, but beyond that you don’t remember really what was going on.”
“That is true.”
“So is it possible that you had some sort of black out episode? Is it possible that you were controlled?”
“Oh surely not controlled. I have prepared for that kind of thing.” Ember raises his eyebrows at Broken, but he continues, “I can guarantee you no one took control of me! I would remember that. I mean feeling someone else in your own body?” Broken shivers, “Yuch. You remember that kind of shit. I mean… I will say this. It might be possible that I lost a few hours, maybe more, last night. I will admit that I was partaking to the partying, but I highly doubt that I did it. First of all, I don’t know who any of these people are. I don’t have any beef with them – unless they totally tried to steal from me. But I have worked on that. My wagon now has an alarm system, so I don’t really need to, you know, knife a few dudes. I let the wagon just choke them. Now Meander! He did totally freak out that one time we met those guys, and even today.”
Ember says, “I’ll admit that does cross my mind.”
“Now, with the whole taking of my magic… Yes that was complete bullshit! He didn’t tell me he was going to do that.”
Meander and Ember both start talking, but Ember keeps on and Meander goes back silent. “I believe he was trying to save you at the time, which seems to be a repeating motive.”
“Save me! All I remember is that he grabbed my wrist and when I said let go, he didn’t let go.”
Meander interrupts furiously, “Hang on! Hang on. You asked me! You asked me to try.”
Broken calms down, “Ok. That’s true. Some instances get a bit fuzzy. One brawl here, one brawl there. It all mixes together. But, you didn’t tell me you were going to take that much.”
Meander sighs heavily.
“If you can call that taking – I call it theft! And in my country, they chop off your hand…”
Meander says, “Are you missing anything?”
“Well… not at the moment. Not that I am aware of. Let me see, all my money is in order. All my golems are in order. My wagon is pretty good shape. We just made a new lab.”
“I meant spellwise.”
“Oh no.. Everything came back. It was just a frightful sight to see you having a seizure on my arm and not letting go, even though I screamed at you to let go.”
Ember says, “Yeah! Been there. Only he had a hold of my shirt at the time.”
Broken says, “See! You know what I’m talking about. Spring’s the only one who hasn’t had the Meander experience. But, after all that derailing… It is possible, but I highly doubt it. I have no motive.”
Ember sighs again and turns to Meander, “When we were playing around out there, Meander, how much control did you have of the metal?”
“Of one piece? I would have to animate each piece separately.”
Broken perks up again, “Oh? You were playing with your spell?”
Meander replies, “Yeah. We were trying to compare to the magical residue that Spring saw.”
“IF you insist on casting the spell that you STOLE, then you should probably know that the elements, the spirits, do not exactly want to be told what to do. So, the way you use it best is you tell them to do things they already want to do. Like for instance, fire likes to burn, you tell fire to burn. You tell shadow to hide or to strike, that works too. If you tell them too many things, they get a little angry and they start to disobey. Luckily, every fight we’ve been in, I have not had to try to fight an element by wills. But if you keep using this spell, you will have to LEARN how to fight a spirits in a battle of wits.
Meander says, “Well that aside.. The strength of the spell I can cast is like hitting a piece of metal with a stout stick. Plus I would have to cast the spell for each piece. And..” he gets quiet as he says this, “I’m not very good at it. Yet.”
Ember says, “I don’t get the feeling that the person who did this would have had that much time to sit there and cast it again and again and again. It seemed like something that just boom happened.”
“Well… I mean. If you get powerful enough, then it is possible in theory. I’ve heard of people who could do that, but they were really, really powerful. More powerful than me, if you can believe that.”
Ember says, “Yeah.. Yeah I can.”
Meander says to Broken, “So, you cast a spell when we were in the tomb, where you took everything that was around and it just flew around like crazy.”
“Oh yes! My trusty Poltergiest – at least that is what I nicknamed it.”
“It is almost like someone did that with metal on these guys.”
“Well, I mean… anyone can do that.”
“Well – I can’t do that”
“You take enough wind, if you are magic user, and you swirl it around.”
Ember counters, “No.. these things were pulled out of the blacksmith shop.”
“My trusty wind spell only disorients. It is not used for offense.” He pauses lost in thought then exclaims, “Oh! I have a great idea for a spell.” He begins to mutter about spell matrixes and reconnecting spirit essences and bindings.
Meander looks at him and asks “What?”
“I know, it would be awesome!”
Broken pauses after a minute and looks up, “What you are describing sounds a lot like a spell that I have researched out, but more powerful. One day I will get to a point where I could do that.”
Ember says, “What you are saying is that there is someone in this town that does the same thing you do, except they are better?”
“Ahh, then we must catch them so we can study them… at least for a little while. Or just loot their spell book.”
They all stare into their drinks for a bit, thinking over the conversations. Broken breaks the silence, “So, it is very late, and I have been hard at work today and I think I would like to retire.”
The group mutters their goodnights and Broken turns in for the night.
Spring refocuses on cracking the codes in the books, since everyone still present seemed lost in thought for the most part. He has trouble with the codes, but after a while he begins to realize that the reason he was having trouble was that the code was changing. He discretely casts his powerful Detect Magic spell, and finds a carefully obscured active spell, heavily cloaked, that is changing the codes. It is an illusion spell that changes the script on the page. After he dispelled the changing cypher, the cypher completely disappears, revealing pictograms from an ancient language. “Ancient Golden Tongue! Hoohoo. I actually know that one.” He begins to actively translate the texts.