Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Ruining a merchant, joining the Dwarven merchants, Legate’s Gift|
The next two weeks went by with little to talk about, although I had several jobs, only one required me to use my skills. One of the heads of a large consortium had needed to meet with a young rival that he didn’t trust, as it turned out he was right not to trust him. Samil had been there as well. I stood at Lord Henrys left, Samil on the right.
In the middle of the meeting and without warning, the younger merchant Lord Jeffers had lurched forward with a long slender dagger. I had felt him move and stepped up to the table even as he moved. Grabbing his wrist in my left hand I pulled and twisted to his left. Drawing my own sword it arced around only to stop suddenly at young lord Jeffers throat.
Samil had drawn his sword and pulled Lord Henrys back in one motion. Lord Jeffers’s two guards had started to pull their swords, but stopped when they saw him with my sword at his throat. While the young merchant, cursed and threatened me. I waited for Lord Henrys to decide what he wanted done, he finally told me to let him go.
He looked at Lord Jeffers, “what happened here will be spread around to all the merchants and when it is, you will be through.”
As the young merchant started to leave, he looked at me, “You’re dead.”
I looked at him and came to a quick decision myself. I smiled him, “That was a challenge.”
I looked at Samil who nodded, I looked back at the merchant. “Fine, I accept. The weapons will be swords, at dawn, middle ring of the practice field.”
Lord Jeffers looked at me and then snorted, “Like I would face you in a dual.”
Lord Henrys had replied, “You challenged him, if you don’t show, your life and property will be forfeit.”
I stood at the ring for three hours, the crowd had been incredible. When Jeffers had not shown, the crowd had called for the guard. He had been found at home, trying to hide behind his own guards. He had been moaning about someone stealing all his money in the night. He was put in chains and given to one of the bond houses to be sold at a hard labor. His property had been seized and sold, the money to go to several charities.
This morning started as a very good morning, Sam and Cat both had beaten their practice opponents. I had spoken with Samil as they had fought and we both had agreed that they were shaping up. My match was just starting when I felt the presence. It was like the assassin from before. In the middle of my fight, I leaped away, reaching out, my practice sword falling to the ground with Samil’s.
I grabbed the bolt in mid-flight as it sped through the air towards Cat standing at the edge of the ring. Landing, I had rolled to my feet with my sword drawn facing this new assassin. Even as I stood, I watched the assassin flee with Samil following. It was a short time later when Samil reappeared. He shook his head, “I lost him in the alleys.”
I accepted this and decided to call it a day. Without stopping to do any shopping we went home. Once in the gate I stopped the girls, “Cat? You are not to go out without me.”
As I crossed to the kitchens, I saw four dwarfs by the stables, one was Garret. When they saw me, they had headed towards me. Catching up with me in the kitchen as I was talking to Ann. There were three other women in the kitchen and they were baking bread, one of the women was Margaret. I smiled at Ann, “How many are we feeding now?”
At first, she was a little evasive, but when I insisted she sighed, “The numbers have grown to around one hundred and fifty.”
While the dwarfs stood nervously behind me, I shrugged, “Do you need to do any shopping?”
She nodded and I handed her my purse, “If you find any sheep skins, buy them for me.”
I looked past her, “Take Margaret and Tom if he’s around. You can take the horse and wagon too.”
When I finished and turned to leave, the dwarfs tried to get me to stop. Garret looked up at me, “We wish to talk to you about business.”
I looked at him, “My business or yours?”
Garret looked at me, “Ours.”
I looked at the other dwarfs, “my mornings are set aside for me to practice medicine. If you want to talk with me than you will have to come with me and talk as I work.”
As I entered the bathing room, I realized how much it had changed. It now had a roof and all the walls had been rebuilt. When I came in the door, there was a little man writing something on a makeshift desk. His name was Jeremy and he had a ledger.
He smiled and told me who was here to be seen, with the worst cases first. Marie was with him, he had been a find for me. He had been trying to hide behind the kitchen when I found him. I talked him into teaching the neighborhood children how to read and write as well as managing records for my patients.
He had the older kids record the information when the patients were seen. As I started, I saw that both Sam and Cat were already checking the easier ones. Jeremy nodded to the two guards, “Gentle and Paul brought in two children to be seen.”
The two children had been orphaned in a fire. They had moderate burns on their hands and arms. The boy looked about five and had a bad cut across his back and the girl was probably three with burns on her feet as well. As I was checking them, Paul told me, “The guard will start sweeps through the city for destitute people. They’ll be turning them over to the bond houses.”
When I looked up at him, he shrugged, “You might start getting more people coming here for help.”
The city guard had started bringing me those that needed help and not always just those needing medical help. I nodded and called for Marie, when she got there I smiled at her, “Would you tell your mother to double her shopping list?”
I looked at Paul, “there was a drow assassin at the practice field this morning.”
Gentle shifted, “Can you take the two children?”
I thought about it, all the ones they had brought to me before had been able to take care of themselves. I knew John and Ann were thinking of more children. Turning I called over one of the neighbor boys named Mathew, “Find John, look in the house. He is rebuilding walls in one of the rooms.”
As Mathew hurried off, Garret impatiently cleared his throat. I didn’t even look around, “go ahead and talk, I’m listening.”
I did notice that one of the other dwarfs had gone over to Cat and kept trying to look at the chain mail she wore. Garret cleared his throat, “Would you give us the list of ingredients and the process for the metal you made?”
As I moved to another patient, I thought about it. As I worked at setting a broken wrist, I shook my head, “I don’t think so.”
I glanced at him, “perhaps we could work something else out.”
Garret countered, “You already made it in front of me. I could just make it without your consent.”
I had been listening and heard the change in his voice. More, I remembered that Garret had not been paying attention when I mixed the metals to make the composite. I smiled to myself, “fine you do that.”
There was a long pause as I moved to yet another patient. The pause was broken by Cat slapping the dwarf as he felt somewhere he shouldn’t have. John appeared with Mathew in tow, I looked at him and explained about the children, “Can you and Ann take care of them until I can find someplace for them?”
John looked at the children then nodded and called to Marie. “Marie? Keep the children with you until I’m finished.”
Sam appeared to tell me about the patient she had been helping and I agreed with her treatment. The patient I was working on had just come in, three of the fingers on his right hand had severe damage. The only thing I could do was to remove them, which wouldn’t have helped him. I turned to the young girl that was taking notes, “Would you run an errand to the temple?”
As I reached for my purse, I explained to her, “I need one of the healers. You are to tell them that I will pay their price.”
When Sam handed me her purse, I smiled at her and then took out a gold piece. I held it up for the girl to see and then handed it to her, “that is an earnest.”
I took a silver piece out and handed the purse back to Sam. I showed the girl the silver, “it’s yours when you returned.”
I had Sam stay with me and I moved to the next patient. The next couple of patients went quickly. I was stitching a long gash in the leg of an elderly woman when Cat brought the dwarf back by his ear. After she had released him, she looked at me, “I have another family suffering from malnutrition.”
Garret again approached, “I’ll buy the process.”
I glanced at him, “how much?”
Garret sighed with a tone of much suffering, “one hundred gold pieces.”
I laughed, “You still owed me that much. I won’t sell it that cheap.”
Finally, Garret looked at the other dwarfs and then back at me, “what do you want?”
I thought about it, “I want a percentage of every item made from the process.”
Garret and the other dwarfs exploded, “impossible, out of the question!”
I waited patiently as I gathered the equipment and moved to the next patient. As they calmed down, they countered my offer, “one thousand gold pieces.”
I shook my head, “thirty percent of every item made.”
They cried out, “You’re trying to impoverish us or drive us out of business!”
I moved from patient to patient as they bargained back and forth. Finally, we settled on twenty percent with a couple of exceptions, I wanted two more suits of chain mail and the opportunity to make some swords myself.
I sent them to Jeremy to draw up a contract. It took three drafts before they stopped trying to add things into the contract. Once they finished and it was signed, I reminded them to pay Jeremy. They left with my promise to write the process and have it delivered it in the morning.
The Priest had shown up and was working on the patient with the injured hand. As he finished, I joined them. I was always amazed by the healings and the workings of magic. After checking the hand I again borrowed Sam’s purse, the priest smiled at this, “Gave your purse away again?”
I looked up with a grin, “Shopping, this time.”
I gave the priest four more gold pieces and he bowed, “it is always a pleasure.”
I had another visit in the middle of the afternoon. I was in the middle of dealing with an emergency. A building had collapsed, injuring over two dozen. The injured were mostly those with broken bones. As I was setting a broken leg, I felt them approach. I knew one of the men approaching was Gentle, but the other was a stranger.
When he cleared his throat, I glanced at him. He was well dressed and from the way he stood and wore his sword; I knew he was probably someone of importance. I went back to setting the leg, “What can I do for you?”
The man again cleared his throat again and when I didn’t even look up, “My name is Legate Abrams.”
When I didn’t respond to his name, he continued, “I’m the Legate for the city guards.”
I nodded and then directed the woman who was helping me to move the bowl of plaster. “Well Legate Abrams, it’s my pleasure to meet you. I would introduce myself better, but as you can see I am a little busy. How can I help you?”
With a sigh, he knelt down taking the injured man’s leg that I was trying to wrap plaster on one handed, “I thought it time that we met since my guards have started using you as a resource to help people.”
I smiled, “I don’t mind, it gives me a chance to help and usually it’s only a meal or a bed for a few nights.”
The Legate looked around, “And this?”
I finished the wrapping and placed the leg down. Looking around, I saw most of my neighbors helping. The large courtyard looked like chaos, “Those you help, have a tendency to help others.”
Saying this, I moved to the next patient in line. It was a woman with a broken arm. Cat had given her the pain medicine already and it seemed to be working. I felt the arm, it was only a fracture. I showed Cat how it was to be set then moved again. The Legate kept up with me, “This does not match up with your reputation as a mercenary.”
I looked up at him as I knelt next to a woman that looked like her pelvis had been crushed. There was a small boy, maybe six years old holding Sam’s hand as they sat with her. I started examining her, to see the extent of her injuries. She exhaled and stopped breathing. Gentle, who had followed, calmly said, “She’s gone.”
I wasn’t listening, “Sam, get the healer.”
I had called for a healer as soon as the inured had started arriving. I started CPR and it was only a few seconds before Sam was back. The voice behind me sighed sadly, “She’s beyond my help.”
I showed Sam how to do the breathing and then continued with the chest compressions. “Samuel, you should be ashamed to give up without a fight.”
No sooner, had I said this than the woman started breathing again. Turning I moved out of the way, “If you would Samuel, I believe you may be able to help her more then I now.”
Samuel was looking at me with his mouth open. I reminded him a second time and he moved forward and laid his hand on her. I could feel the magic from the healing in my bones. Before our eyes the injury slowly disappeared. Smiling at the boy, I winked and then looked at Sam, “how many beds remain in the stables.”
I had converted it almost two week earlier into a bunkhouse with four tear bunk beds. Sam glanced around, “I’ll need to check with Ann and get back to you.”
I sighed, “Find her a lower bunk.”
Looking at the boy, “The father?”
Sam only shook her head and I nodded, “Make sure the bed is wide enough for two.”
As I started to stand, the Legate reached out and helped me up, “That was the most amazing thing I have seen in a long time.”
Samuel agreed, “The healing was free.”
He looked at me, “Could you show me how to do it?”
I nodded to him, “It will have to wait until we are done here.”
Turning, I moved to the next patient, “In answer to your question Legate. I do that so that I can do this, help people that really need it and I decide who I work for and why.”
As I knelt down, the young woman that was attending the young man looked up. “I think the knee cap is broken as well as the arm.”
I nodded and reached out feeling through his body, sure enough the left knee was broken along with a fracture in the right arm above the elbow. Turning I called Samuel over, “how selective is your healing.”
I did not want to burn him out, he might be needed later. In the end, he healed the kneecap and left the arm to be put in a cast. As the woman went to get the plaster and bandages, they watched her limping away. The Legate watched her, “she might need attention herself.”
I looked up at the Legate, “her name is Sarah and her injury is old. She has been helping me off and on for the past two weeks. She was homeless, the master she was apprenticed to was an herbalist. While they were gathering herbs a horse kicked her, breaking the pelvic bone. The master refused to pay for a healing and it had healed incorrectly so her master turned her out.”
I looked after Sarah, “it’s a shame because she’s a natural and could be a great healer.”
The Legate looked at me, “will you teach her?”
I glanced at him, “There are problems. First she has to learn to trust someone again. Second, one of your guards has taken it into his head that she is his property.”
He frowned, “Who.”
I shrugged, “she wouldn’t say.”
When Sarah returned, I told her how I wanted the cast put on. When I was finished and stood up. The Legate spoke up, “Young woman, I have been told you have the potential to be a great healer.”
She only looked at him with a haunted look and he spoke again, “Do you know who I am? I am the Legate for the guard. I have been told that you have no home. This man (he pointed at me) can teach you what you need to know to be a healer. I could put you in bond, but I will not, instead I ask you to apprentice yourself. If he will accept you, I will pay the apprentice fee.”
Sarah looked at him and then at me, as if asking. I nodded and she looked back to the Legate and then she looked down, “But, I’m a cripple.”
I smiled at her, “Sarah, the damage is not irreversible yet. I could treat you, it would mean several weeks of healing but you would be walking again and without the pain.”
Samuel spoke up, “If you do this, I will offer the healing for free.”
With tears in her eyes, she looked back to the Legate and nodded. The Legate nodded, “Then done.”
I reminded Sarah how I wanted the arm cast and then moved off. When we were out of earshot the Legate remarked, “You’re contagious. How much do you want for the apprentice fee?”
I laughed, “It’s free.”
The legate insisted, “I should give you something.”
I stopped and looked at him, “I will not take money for helping someone.”
I remembered all the scholarships and gifts that had paid for my own schooling. The Legate looked at me and then smiled, it was not a smile I expected to see. “You seem to be having a problem with your housing, perhaps I can help.”
He nodded toward to cliff on the other side of the corral. “The old keep up on top, it used to belong to a necromancer. It belongs to the city now, it’s an eye sore, it’s yours.”
I looked up the cliff, “Great, just what I need, another project.”
This only made the Legate laugh. With a look around, I realized that the injured had all been cared for. When the Legate realized this as well, he smiled, “now that I have your attention. There are a couple of things I wanted to speak to you about. First, was your report this morning of a drow in the city?”
I explained what had happened and who could vouch for the report. The Legate nodded, “Keep your… apprentice close. Next thing I wanted to discuss was a report from the dwarf community that you are part of their consortium now. The dwarf community is one of the larger consortiums and as a part of it you will have to attend some of the court dates as a judge.”
I was a little startled but nodded, “Do you know which ones?”
He smiled, “I’ll go over the schedule, but right now I see a conflict of interest on your part concerning the poor.”
A lieutenant showed up to stand next to them, waiting. The Legate excused himself and after speaking with the lieutenant, “I’ll send the dates and times for the court.”
He turned to leave and then stopped and turned back, “I’ll have the deed for the keep recorded and sent over.”
The rest of the afternoon went quickly, mostly finding room for everyone. The runner from the Legate arrived late in the afternoon and gave me a packet of documents. He told me that the Legate had already filed the papers with the city and the normal transfer fee had been waved.
After the runner left I started thinking about the cliff, it had never felt right to me. As I was standing in the corral examining the cliff, Cat came up behind me. “Is it true that Sarah is apprenticed to you now?”
I was preoccupied with my exam but answered, “Yes, it’s true.”
I moved along the wall toward the river and Cat followed me, “Where is she going to sleep?”
I felt something in the wall and replied distractedly, “in the stable.”
Again I moved further along the wall, this time looking at the cracks in the wall. In exasperation, Cat followed me again, “All the bunks are taken. What are you looking for?”
I replied, “Something is bothering me about this wall.”
Cat looked at the wall for a minute and then, “It reminds me of the wall by the river.”
I looked at her and then back and fourth along the wall. When I saw the split rock, I moved to it and pressed the bottom. With an audible click, a seven-foot square section of the wall opened. I looked at Cat, “Call Sam.”
Sam had been talking with John and Ann. When she was called, all three came over. I looked at them, “I had found a passage in the cliff.”
Sam looked up with a frown, “The mage that lived there was publicly executed. He was reported to be a necromancer and trafficked with the drow to destroy the city. The keep was burned when they tried to enter after he was caught. They were attacked by the dead that guarded the keep as well as drow warriors.”
I thought about it and looked at Cat and Sam, “stay by the door. I’ll call if I needed you.”
I opened the door wider to reveal a dark hallway. There were white globes spaced down the hall and a crumpled form just a few feet inside the door. Cat stopped me, stepping up to the opening, “Elora!”
The white globes lit up showing the entire hall. I looked at her and raised my eyebrow and she smiled, “it means turn on.”
I nodded, “how do I turn them off?”
She shrugged, “Anon.”
Drawing my sword, I spread my senses out and stepped inside. As I approached the corpse, it started to come to life. It felt like it was surrounded with electricity, almost like a web and I could almost hear a buzzing sound coming from a clay pendent around its neck. Reaching out quickly while it was trying to get to its feet, I cut the leather cord holding the pendent with my sword.
As the pendent fell away it crumbled to dust. The corpse sighed and then it too crumbled. Reaching down, I picked up the sword it had been carrying. When I pulled it out of the sheath, I saw it was made of admantium. Returning to the door I gave the sword to Sam. She nodded, “John went to get some men to help if we needed it.”
I started down the hall, clearing the rooms as I went. As I started to enter the second room, I heard the sound of movement and a sword being drawn. As I stepped forward, there was a sudden movement. I stepped back as a sword came down from the side of the doorway.
Lunging forward, I stabbed the dead guard through the neck and cut up, separating the leather holding the pendent. The guard froze and then dropped to the floor turning to dust. I picked the sword up and put it back in the sheath before I slung it over my shoulder.
The next attack came at the end of the hall. A dead guard rushed me from the last room. I blocked his sword and then slashed across its upper chest cutting the leather cord. I retrieved the sword and slung it with the other.
There were six rooms that faced the river. They each had slits that faced out over the river and a large fireplace that burned without anything in them. Each room also had a bath, probable eight feet square. They had wardrobes that lined the wall next to the door and large comfortable beds.
Everything I saw looked new and nothing looked as if it was twenty years old. On the inside wall of the hallway were six smaller rooms, but there were supplies in them. There were also two bathrooms (one at each end of the hall) and another set of stairs leading up and down in the middle of the hall.
I returned to the door, giving one of the swords to Cat and the other to John. I noticed that the four men with them looked very nervous. Leaving two of them to guard the door I took the rest to the stairs. I had John and the other man stay there with Sam and Cat. Slowly I made my way up the stairs. At the landing before the next floor, I was attacked again.
I blocked and as I cut back at him, the guard stepped back and then thrust his sword. I blocked as I drew my knife and stabbed him at the junction of the neck, cutting the cord. It dropped and turned to dust along with the dead guard.
I could feel magic on the landing. It was like an electric web across the wall with a buzzing that seemed just at the edge of my hearing. I made sure the stairs were clear past the landing and up to the next floor. I collected the sword and called Sam and Cat up to the landing. Next, I went back down to what I considered the main floor and started down the stairs. I had not even reached the landing between floors when I was attacked.
I blocked a swing and stepped in to stab the guard in the chest, breaking the clay pendent. The guard was turning to dust as it fell. Checking the landing I could feel another web of magic across the face of the wall. I returned to where the dead guard had been and picked up the sword. I handed both swords to John on my way past.
Taking a breath, I turned to the wall of the landing by Sam and Cat. I could see nothing, so I closed my eyes and listened. At first, it sounded like the buzzing of bees and then as I listened close I realized it was voices. After awhile I knew, my hearing wouldn’t help so I reached out. My master had explained once that my sense of touch away from my body came from my chi or my life force.
Feeling the wall, it was almost as if I could see the web of what I now knew to be magic, it felt both slick and sticky. It was a moment before I felt the knot and another moment before I found what I could only call the lose end. It was almost like a bowknot, a simple pull and the knot would come undone. When I pulled, there was a shimmer. I opened my eyes and was looking at a door.
I could hear a rustling sound coming from the room beyond. I pulled my sword and then pushed on the door. Even before the door had fully opened a sword was thrust through at me. I blocked with the sword and drew my knife. There were three guards trying to get through the door at the same time.
Again, I parried, this time with the knife and then I brought the sword down on the center guard’s neck. It’s attempt to block the sword was upset by the guard next to him trying to block it as well. The result was neither was able to block and I struck the guard in the neck cutting the cord.
As it fell, turning to dust, another was taking its place. The guard on the left lunged and again I blocked with my knife. The guard that had stepped into the center position tried to step forward and bring his sword into the fight. I punched him in the face knocking him back into the ones behind, causing them all to fall.
I blocked the guard on the right with my sword and quickly lunged in to cut the cord with the knife. As it fell, I was blocking the guard on the left and then with another lunge, stabbed my sword through the next guard that was trying to get through the door. The sword went through the pendent and six inches into its chest.
Again, the guard on the left struck. I blocked the blow and countered with an overhand blow that the guard raised its sword to block. I reached in with the knife to stab him in the chest and breaking the pendent. Countering the two guards that rushed in with swords raised, I swept their blades to the side with my sword. As the one on the left continued forward as if to run into me, I cut the cord around its neck in a quick slash.
The other guard tried to take advantage by stabbing through the guard, but the body pulled the sword down allowing me to cut downward into its neck and shoulder, cutting the cord on his pendent. The other guards had sorted themselves out and were coming at me with a vengeance.
Two struck together, the one on the right lunged straight at me and I blocked outwards with my sword. While the guard on the left cut down towards my head and I blocked it to my left with my knife. A cut across the guard’s chest on the left resulted in him stepping back. The guard that was behind him put his sword through its back and it came out the chest. As the sword was pulled free it cut the cord and with a surprised look the guard turned into dust while it was still standing.
The guard on the right struck again, this time overhand. I caught the sword with my knife, deflecting it into the new guard that had rushed forward. The blow cut through the arm holding its sword. I countered the guard on the right by a thrust through the upper chest and the pendent. The other guard tried to grab me with its only hand and I stabbed the hand and twisted it. As the arm straightened, I cut across the chest separating the cord.
The last three came together, one stayed behind the other two. He was not like the others and he wore a chain mail shirt made of what looked like mythril. He was taller and I thought he looked like an elf. The other two came more cautiously, the first lunged and when I blocked the other struck. I blocked again and stepped back.
When I did, they tried to come through the door and I attacked, a faint at the guard on the right brought the other guard striking at me. I blocked and then put my sword through its throat and twisted, causing it to stumble into the other guard. I pulled the sword free and cut the cord at its neck. Stepping back, I blocked and struck only to have the blow blocked by the dead elf.
As the guard on my left struck, I stepped to the side and blocked the blade causing it to swing toward the elf. As the elf was starting to lunge, it twisted aside and blocked the sword. I didn’t wait. I struck in a lunge that pierced, not just the guard on the left but went through its neck and coming out its shoulder and then striking the elf in the chest. Pulling the sword free, I twisted it and jerked it through muscle, cutting the cord around its neck. The guard on the left turned to dust, but the elf only changed its stance.
I could see a silver chain at its neck so obviously something was different. The elf started to feel me out in small thrusts and swings. It was several minutes before I had an opening. Parrying a lunge, I lunged in return and followed it up as it was blocked by stabbing my knife through the hand and twisting.
As its sword fell, I was already striking at its neck. When it raised its hand as if to block, I cut through the chain and the arm and then into its neck, separating the chain around its neck. With a scream, it exploded into a shower of dust. As suddenly as it had started, it was over. I cautiously entered the room.
It was maybe a hundred feet square with twelve stone slabs by the door. The floor in the center of the room was sunken with a pit that burned hotly. I could feel the heat from it when I was twenty feet away. There were partially dissected bodies and body parts scattered about the room, some on tables, some in intricate diagrams and some were even in jars on shelves.
There were three bodies hung up along one wall in chains. This was obviously a workroom for the necromancer. As I moved around the room Cat went with me, finally I stopped by the pit. I could feel the web of magic around the pit and when I looked in, I could imagine why. Curled up at the bottom, ten feet down was what looked like a large lizard sleeping.
Only this lizard was red and sheathed in flame. It was also semi transparent. Cat whispered, “It’s a salamander. The spells around the pit must hold it asleep otherwise the whole room would be in flames.”
I assured myself after a quick check that there were no other doors into the room. Back on the landing, I called John up to watch the stairwell leading to the upper floors and then went to the landing below what I thought of as the ground floor. Setting Sam and Cat to watch the stairs leading down, I faced the wall of the landing. Reaching out as I had done before, I traced the web of magic until I found what I could only describe as a knot.
As the shimmer faded and the door appeared, I moved carefully to the door. After listen at the door, I opened it. It looked like a small empty room. It was ten feet square with blank walls. I thought about it for a minute. Why would anyone hide an empty room with magic? Walking into the room, I extended my senses.
The back wall felt different then the other two. I could feel no magic from the wall so I started looking along the wall until I found an irregular bump. When I pushed it, there was a click and wall split in two and slid aside. The opening inside the wall was only a few feet deep and it was lined with rack after rack of swords and not ordinary swords.
Back on the landing, I moved down to the next floor and called Sam and Cat down to watch the stairwell leading down. As I moved through the rooms, everything seemed quiet and peaceful. While I was at the end of the hall finishing my search, Sam and Cat were attacked. The guard had come up the stairs slowly and they gave a yell to warn me.
Sam attacked on the left with a downward slice that it blocked and Cat stabbed it through the body. As it turned to attack Cat, Sam struck again, cutting deeply into its shoulder. When it swung at her, Cat struck it in the back of the neck. As the cord parted, it froze in mid lunge and then dropped to the floor. After hitting the floor, it was a moment before it turned to dust and quiet returned.
When I got there it was over, Sam and Cat were still a little excited and it was a couple of minutes before they calmed down. I finished checking the floor but there were no other guards. Moving down the stairs, I again stopped at the landing. There was another web of magic on the wall of the landing.
Removing the magic came a little easier this time and again I was looking into what seemed an empty room. Moving into the room, I quickly found the switch to open the secret panel and again I was looking at more racks of admantium swords. Exiting the room, I moved down the stairs.
The stairs ended on that floor. With Sam and Cat to watch, I went through every room with no sign of guards. Back up the stairs, I stopped at the landing with John. There had been no sign of the dead guards. With John and the girls in tow, I moved up to the next floor where I had them wait while I checked the landing above.
Calling John up to watch the stairs, I started checking the floor. I encountered one guard that did not even try to rise, it only moaned. At the other end of the hall were two more webs of magic. One at the end of the hall and the other along the wall where the last store room should have been.
After checking all the rooms, I moved to end of the hall where the last storeroom should be. Reaching out, I found that the web of magic was different. The knot was different as well, it was a moment before I found the trick of it and with a twist to the knot the wall shimmered. With a suddenness the blank wall was replaced with another door, this one with a lock.
After feeling the door and the door jam, I unlocked the door. As I stepped in, a dead guard stepped from the shadows, drawing his sword as he moved. Without pause, I reached out and cut the cord on the pendent, causing the guard to turn to dust before it could so much as swing the sword. I stood in a short hallway that ended twenty feet in.
When I opened the other door, it was into another large room, maybe one hundred and fifty feet by one hundred. There were more then a dozen beds on the left wall. On the right side were two large fireplaces that burned brightly and in the far corner was a very large bath. What made this room strange were the six young girls kneeling just inside the door.
They were Mair and were five or six years old and they didn’t move. I felt each one and they were surrounded with that electric feel of magic I had become used to. After checking the room, I decided to leave the girls for now and relocked the door. At the end of the hall, I felt the web of magic.
This one was different from the others to, it was a lot more intricate. It was several minutes before I was able to remove the illusion. The wall seemed to melt into the floor. The door that now stood in place of the wall also had a feeling of magic about it. This time it only took a minute before the magic was disarmed and the door was opened.
Stepping into the room, I got an impression of a large room before two guards struck without warning. It was several moments before I could do more then block. Both guards had been Drow when they were alive. They still moved with a skill that was difficult to counter. The fight was like a dance my old master would put me through. It was ten minutes before the break came.
With a swing that was deflected, the guard on my right had a silver chain around his neck and the chain came out of his chain mail. I blocked left and then right. After blocking the last time, I stepped in and grabbed the silver pendent that was on the chain and with a sharp pull, broke it loose from the chain.
Even as I did that, I automatically blocked to my left. As a sword struck my long knife, the guard on the right screamed and seemed to explode into dust. The guard on my left froze, looking towards the other guard. I didn’t hesitate, lunging with the knife I stabbed through the chain mail and cut the silver chain above the pendent. A surprised look crossed the its face and he exploded like the other guard.
As the quiet returned, I looked into another room that was maybe a hundred by a hundred and fifty feet. From the door, I could see different areas, in one corner was a large forge with barrels of metals stacked along the wall. In another area, there were beakers, tubes and burners like in a lab. There was lumber in one corner with what looked like a lathe. On a bench, not to far from the door was what looked like gems with equipment to hold them, one was in a clamp ready to be cut.
As I moved into the room, it was like walking into a room full of webs. As I stopped in an area where someone had been doing woodwork, I heard a voice speak to him. “Master, how may I serve?”
The voice came from the air. This happened every time I stopped in one of the other areas. There was only one other door in the room and when I unlocked and opened it, I found myself looking at a treasure. There were a dozen large chests and racks with probably two hundred of the golden admantium swords.
Several of the chests were split open, gold and bright colored gems spilled out. Returning to the stairs where a worried John waited, I called the girls up. I moved up the stairs and found that the roof had collapsed blocking half the landing and the stairs leading up. I could still feel the web of magic on the landing wall.
Unraveling it caused some of the rocks to shift, but I thought I would be able to squeeze through into the room. Opening the hidden door, I found it was one of the storage areas for swords like before. I saw that there was a narrow opening to the side leading up the stairs. As I moved to the opening, I heard movement.
Moving to the side of the opening, I waited. It was only a minute before the undead guard tried to squeeze through. I reached out with my sword and cut the cord at the back of its neck. Staying where I was, I waited. There were four more guards that tried to get through. They all came through the opening knowing the ones before had not made it. I waited several minutes after last guard had tried to come through and then called the girls into the room.
After squeezing through the opening, I found myself climbing the stairs through the collapsed stones. At the next floor, I found the lights on and the stairs going up were blocked by more debris. I called the girls up to the landing at that floor. Just inside the doorway to the hall, I found three bodies. From the look, they were either Elf or Drow. They had all been dressed nicely, with jewelry on fingers and necks.
I felt a web of magic nearby and noticed what looked like a green lacquered cane with mythril bands and what looked like a brass cap with three silver bands at the bottom of the stick. When I picked it up, I knew that it was a straight Katana sword cane or something similar. Pulling it from the sheath, I was surprised. The blade was a silver/white and had been folded like a Japanese sword.
The weight of the sword was less then half of what a steel blade would weight, but from the feel, the density was probably ten times that of steel and it was at least as twice as dense as admantium. It also had tracings up and down the blade in a fluid script, with the webs of magic tied to them and going into the metal.
Putting the sword back into the sheath, I turned to Cat just inside the doorway. With her green eyes and the green catseye ring she wore, this was a perfect match and I almost felt that she was meant for the sword. I smiled and handed my sword to Sam and then placing the sword on my palms, I bowed to Cat presenting it to her. She looked at me wide eyed, all the times before I had just handed her a sword, slowly she reached out and took the blade.
Standing up, I took my sword back from Sam. Moving down the hall to the right, I started checking the floor. The layout for this floor was different. Where there had been smaller rooms on the inside wall, I found only four large bedrooms, two had remains of what I thought were Mair. Where there had been six bedrooms on the outer wall, I only found four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, in addition to a large fireplace and bathing pool.
There was one last one at the end of the hall that was almost twice the size of the others. In the first large room along the wall, I found a Mair. Like the girls I had found, she was surrounded by a web of magic and seemed suspended. She looked like she was maybe eighteen and pregnant. The last inside room held another Mair, this one was also pregnant but she looked like she was only sixteen and had been whipped. There were bloody strips on her back.
The last door in the hall was a hallway with a narrow set of stairs. Calling the girls, I went up. It came out beside what had once been a stable. The whole area was overgrown with a type of ice plant. The property here was walled and they were still intact and twenty feet tall. The area inside the walls covered an area of maybe twenty acres.
Moving around the stable, I saw the gate area. It looked like there had been a gatehouse built over the gate but it had burnt and collapsed, blocking the gate. The main house looked huge, even burnt out. It had probably been four or five stories tall. Moving through the ruins, I found no surprises, only an occasional burnt skeleton. It looked like the first two floors were burnt out with the stairs leading up just a pile of ash. It was possible that the top two floors were intact, but there was no way up or down without a tall ladder.
On the way back down, I closed the entrance to the stairs by raising a lever that was near the hall door. It closed with seemingly no problems, only the squishing of ice plants marked its closing. Down the stairs, I collected John and we all went down to what I still thought of as the ground floor. As we came down, we met the man that I had left there. He was accompanied by two city guards. One of the guards I had met before with Paul. “It looks like you found company.”
I started shooing them toward the door leading out. At first the two guards tried to tell me that they had to stay, but I ignored them as I walked them out. At the door, I let everyone precede me and then stepped out. There was a small crowd of guards probable twenty strong crowded into the corral. I turned and started closing the door. A tall skinny guard spoke up, “leave it.”
I ignored him and finished closing the door. When the guard stepped forward to grab me, a quiet voice spoke; “I wouldn’t do that.”
With a click, the door closed and I turned to see Gentle behind the guard. When I raised my eyebrow, Gentle shrugged, “I owed him a favor.”
As I watched, the group of guards broke up and Legate Abrams walked towards me with what looked like a lieutenant and sergeant. As I watched, Ann came running around them with Marie and the two orphans in tow. When she reached us she ran into John’s arms. When Marie and the two orphans arrived, (I had learned their names were David and Mary) they stopped not to far from John and Ann.
When the Legate arrived, I turned to him, “Legate, I am very disappointed in you.”
The Legate looked at me, “Alright I’ll bite. Disappointed how?”
I smiled, “Well, you don’t tell me the property you are giving me had secret passages or that there were still mage traps or that there were still undead guards. Not to mention that they all carried Admantium swords and that some wore armor.”
The Legate blinked and replied, “I thought you could use the challenge.”
With a group of guards all around, Marie broke in, “Is it true? Is there an army of dead coming to get us?”
I looked down at her and held my smile, “Well, lets see, first we fought through an army of undead in the hall, destroying them all. Then there were legions of orcs and goblins. Your dad was throwing them left and right. Then the troll attacked us on the stairs.”
I could see I had her attention as well as several guards. “Your Dad fought the troll. Finally he got the upper hand and beat it. Next, came the dozen drow that came at us from secret rooms. We were fighting left and right until we beat them.”
Sam chimed in, “You forgot the dragon.”
With only a pause I continued, “Oh yes the dragon, well, we entered the wizard’s lair and there it was so we attacked it. It swung its tail at Sam and she cut the end right off. We hacked at the legs and when it fell we jumped on it and took it prisoner.”
Marie looked at me with big eyes, “Really?”
I broke and smiled, ruffling her hair, “No, there were only a few dusty old dead guards.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see several of the guards faces turning red. Turning to Ann, “Can I talk you into making something to eat?”
The Legate had the lieutenant send the guards back to their posts. As the various groups were breaking up, Sarah appeared beside me, “Would you speak to the injured? They are under the impression that they will be killed in their sleep.”
I nodded and looked at the Legate, “Would you mind waiting?”
I made a quick set of rounds, reassuring the injured. When I finished, I found the Legate in the kitchen. Ann and several helpers were fixing a hasty meal and not just for him but also for the injured. As I sat down at the small corner table, the Legate appeared to be enjoying a nice dinner. John was eating at a nearby counter. I glanced at him, “Where did Sam, Cat and the other men go?”
John smiled, “The men went home. Sam and Cat took their dinner out.”
Ann brought me a plate and as I ate, I told the Legate what I had found, leaving out the part about treasure. I did say that I would probable have a mage check the one work area with all the bodies. The Legate listened and nodded, “A drow was killed earlier when it walked into a group of guards heading here.”
After the Legate left, I found Sam and Cat in our room with Sarah. Sarah seemed nervous as I came in, “Sam, see if you can find someone to help bring more hay down. We’ll need enough for eight people.”
Turning to Sarah, “I will go over classes with you tomorrow. Unfortunately, we are not done for the night.”
I looked at Cat, “There are Mair in there. They are in a suspended state. If I can, I’m going to wake them.”
She looked at me and nodded. On our way out, I sent Sarah to Ann. They would need food, maybe a nice soup and Sam went to find John to get help with the hay. When I reached the entrance, I found Gentle sitting on a bale of hay next to the door. I smiled, “What are you doing here?”
He grinned, “The guard sergeant said I could take my break here.”
With a sigh I opened the door, no surprises jumped out and everything was quiet. I looked at Cat, “We’ll start at the top.”
Sarah and Sam caught up and with Gentle following, we made our way up to the collapsed area. Gentle didn’t like having to squeeze through the rubble but managed. At the last room I went in. Cat, Sam, Sarah and Gentle looked around. Cat touched my shoulder, “sometimes the mages set spells like this to a spot on the floor.”
Looking at the suspended girl and saw a light colored tile in front of her. When I pointed it out to Cat and she nodded, “that might be the trigger.”
I moved forward and taking a breath, stepped onto the tile. With a shimmer the Mair started to breath then it was as if she woke up suddenly. She looked up at me and I could see the fear in her eyes. I knelt down in front of her and with Cat’s help, I calmed her, “The mage is dead.”
She kept her eyes down as if afraid of angering me. With her in tow, we went to the other room. This time, I found the tile quickly and triggered the spell. Once we had reassured her, we went down to where the young girls had been. It went quickly; Sam, Cat, Sarah, Gentle and I, all triggered the spell. At first the girls didn’t seem to understand and Cat sighed in exasperation, “You belonged to this man now.”
With big eyes they looked at me. I looked at Cat and she only shrugged. Leading them down the stairs, we came out the doorway. The girls all stopped, looking around in fear. Cat touched my arm, “many Mair are not allowed out of their master’s house.”
I nodded and then closed the door. I quietly led them across to the kitchen, while Sam headed for my medical kit. When we entered the kitchen, Ann was there with her children, washing hands and faces for bed. Margaret and Tom were there as well, cleaning the pots and pans. I asked Ann quietly if the soup was ready.
She nodded and moved towards a large pot on a stove. There was bread next to the pot and she put a large piece on a small plate and gave each girl a plate and bowl of soup. Marie poured juice for each and brought it to them. Because of the teenager’s unborn child, I couldn’t give her the painkiller I wanted.
After searching, I found one that would do though. I mixed the powder in with her juice. Once they were finished eating, I helped wash the dishes and then led them down into our room. Together we covered some more hay and made a place for them to sleep next to us. Cat, Sam and I showed them where the bathrooms were.
When they were back and settled, I checked the sixteen year old. She shyly said her name was Jen. I smiled and gently worked on her back. The others sat or lay and watched. When I was finished, I lightly wrapped a linen cloth around her, “try to sleep on your stomach.”
I handed Sarah the rest of the bandages, “Remind me to send for a healer tomorrow.”
When I asked the older Mair her name, she told me it was Cassy. The girls were Serene, Krystal, Melody, Rose and Samantha. As everyone settled, I couldn’t help thinking that a month ago I had arrived here with nothing and no one. Now not only did I have money but quite a large family.
As I drifted off to sleep, I felt Jen climb into the bed with us and snuggle up next to Cat. Then quietly, one after another, the girls climbed in as well to be held. Last was Cassy, squeezing in to curl up around Sam.
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