Myam 18 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

I waited thirty seconds or so, listening for the sounds of screaming and fighting and unearthly moaning from beyond the grave but there was no sound coming through that trapdoor.  Possibilities – maybe there is no floor and Dondarian is still plummeting towards the fiery center of the world.  Maybe he was instantly disintegrated in the shadows by some terrible force.  Maybe the darkness itself is a sentient being that’s smothering him to death like a tar pit of pure gooey evil.  Maybe he jumped right into the waiting arms of a Kraltenite who bit his head off with a revolting insect head.  The possibilities are endless.  The bad possibilities anyway.

“What’s going on down there?”

“Well I can’t really see anything, it’s pretty dark down here.  You know because it’s a cellar.”

“Can’t you see in the dark?”

“No, you’re thinking of dwarves.  And maybe gnomes, I’ve never been clear on that.”

“Are you telling me that Halflings can’t see in the dark?”

“No, I mean yes I am telling you that, dwarves live underground so it makes sense that they can see in the dark.  I’m a Halfling, we’re different you racist.”

“Halflings live underground too!”

“We live in hills, sometimes, that’s different.”

“There’s no light under those hills is there?”

“Well there’s no light in houses either and you can’t see in the dark so get off my back!”

“That’s why houses have windows!  You’re an adventurer why don’t you have a lantern or a torch of something?”

“Why would I walk around with a lantern?  I’m not a lighthouse keeper.”

“Why do you people walk around with ten foot poles and hundreds of feet of rope and crowbars and all the other garbage adventurers weigh themselves down with?”

“Ten foot pole, what are you even talking about?”

I was about to retort but one of the mages (two mages, what is this amateur hour?) behind me spoke their arcane nonsense and a blaze of light flared into existence at the top of the ladder – flooding the cellar with bright faux sunlight.   After a moment Dondarian spoke again.

“Looks fine, come on down.”

“I don’t really see any need for that.”

“You’re the great investigator right?  Get down here and investigate, otherwise why did we bother to come out here at all?”

“Why indeed?”

I clambered down the ladder and saw a pretty uninteresting cellar – there were cobwebs and thick dust covering everything, everything in this case being some shelves with old jars and crates on them.  Some of the cobwebs were knocked down at Halfling-height and a few more that weren’t the result of me moving around, but otherwise it didn’t look like there had been much movement down here for a long time.

“So you think the dude gutted his wife down here?”

I heard Adriane’s voice from above “Yeah, there was a splash of blood on the shelves.”

I looked and saw that there was a dribbly line of blood across some of the jars.  “Well I don’t mean to question your investigative work but if the guy was covered with blood shouldn’t there be blood all over the place down here?  And there’s no body right, so the idea is that he stabbed her dead down here and then dragged her up the ladder and through the house without getting blood all over the place?  Not to mention there’s dust and webs everywhere down here, doesn’t look to me like there was a violent struggle.  Why would anyone even come down here?  There’s nothing here except old junk.”

“So what do you think happened?”

“I have no idea.  When you grabbed the guy what did he have on him?  Did her have a magic bag with his dead wife in it?  That could explain things.”

“He didn’t have anything, just his clothing.”

“Was he drenched in blood or what?  How much blood was there?”

“There was a lot on the front of his shirt and a little on his upper sleeves.”

“Was there any blood on his hands?  I don’t see any blood on his ladder, nor any way to clean up down here.  Mister Saltfoot do you see any bloody rags down here or anything?” He shook his head “Again I’m no expert but when stab someone I get lots of blood on my hands.”

Dondarian glanced at me “How often to you stab people?”

“Oh not often, I can quit any time I want.”

I saw Adriane’s face peeking through the trapdoor-hole “He didn’t have any blood on his hands.  So what does that mean?”

“I don’t know, but if all the blood was on his chest and upper arms I might guess that he found his bloody wife and was holding her in his arms, you know like people do.  I was told when you found him he was confused and didn’t know what had happened, what did he say?”

“He didn’t say anything, he was just stumbling around kind of like he was sleepwalking.  The next day it seemed like he regained his wits but he claimed he didn’t remember anything after arriving at the cabin with his wife.”

“Well that’s annoying, hey can either of you magic people magic his memory or something?”

They both said that they couldn’t.  Typical magic, useless.  Well for anything other than making lights anyway.  Dondarian and I looked around a little bit more but there wasn’t much to find – just the kind of junk you’d store in a cellar where no one is living.  Usually this would storage for foodstuffs and the like but since there’s no one here to need food it was a repository family nonsense that no one got around to throwing away.  Heirlooms I suppose some would call them, garbage I would name it.   After a while I looked to Dondarian.

“I’m not an expert is cellars, is it normal that the ladder goes into the ground like that?”

He walked over and kicked at the dirt around the bottom of the ladder a little “Might make sense to have it go into the ground a ways to anchor it, but it’s bolted to the wall good.  Not sure.”

I called up to the cadre above “Any of you pointy hat types learn about architecture in wizard school?”

Aurisk helpfully reminded me that he was a sorcerer and therefore never want to any school of arcane learning, and the treasure hunter Endrin added just as helpfully –

“No, just engineering”

“What’s the difference?”

“The key difference between an architect and an engineer is that an architect focuses more on the artistry and design of the building, while the engineer focuses more on the structural side.”

“Well get down here then because that’s what I need.”

Being a somewhat corpulent fellow he had a bit of a time getting through the trapdoor and down the ladder – it would have helped if he had taken off his bulky and ridiculous coat – but he floundered his way down eventually.  For a moment it looked like he was going to fall and I jumped back, not wanted to be crushed, which made Dondarian chuckle.  Just with the three of us down there it was starting to feel a little cramped. 

“What I’m wondering is if this dirt is covering up more construction, looks like this ladder might keep going down.”

He glanced around knowingly “It’s possible.”

“Sure but is there more or not?”

He knelt down by the base of the wall for a moment “Could be.”

“So you don’t know?”

He shook his head “Not as such no.”

“Can you magic this dirt out of here?”

“Uh . . . no.”

“Great, thanks for all your help.” I shouted upstairs “Find a shovel folks, its digging time.”

There was a shovel in a small attached shed.  There was no way I was digging, both wizards claimed their hands were too valuable to risk with such work, and Dondarian flatly refused, so the deserter and Adriane ended up down the ladder digging around the base.  The ladder went down a good two feet into the dirt with no sign of stopping which we all agreed was more than necessary just for normal ladder anchoring.  Adriane and the deserter climbed up, sweaty and dirt-stained.

I sighed “Well, so much for getting back to Beresford today.  Here’s the plan, let’s get some rough-hand types out here to dig up that basement and after they unearth the dungeon complex down there filled with undead monsters and nonsensical traps and shit we can go from there.  In the meantime we need to find a place to stay, I don’t suppose there’s any chance that one of the three buildings in town is an inn.”

Adriane shook her head “No, there’s not enough traffic through here for anything like that.”

“Of course.  Do you have room at your house?”

“My house is in Littlebluff, I don’t live here – I’m the reeve for all the towns around here.”

“Well that’s just great.”

“We could stay here.”

I laughed and laughed and laughed.  Yes, staying at the scene of an unexplained murder seems like a wonderful idea.  We headed into Sharbus and a few gold coins convinced a half dozen fellows that digging was better than working in the fields and they headed out to the cabin armed with buckets and ropes and spades.  There was a building made out of bricks instead of twigs and spit, it had once been a temple to some God or other but when the town failed to grow the priests wandered off and it was converted into a meeting hall – this is where we’ll be staying. The townsfolk brought us some blankets and the like along with some decent stew, as stew goes, so pretty terrible overall.  The only booze they had around was mead and that’s a hard pass for me so I broke out the Elf absinth, what better time right?  Don’t all the famous detectives in the novels toy with hallucinogens when they’re on the case?  The male ones anyway, the fake lady detectives seem to do fine without mind-altering chemicals.  As we settled in I noticed Endrin reading from a dusty book.”

“Is that from the cellar?”

He held the book up proudly “Yeah, I found it on the shelves.  It’s a spellbook, says that it belonged to Mylen Whiterock.  It’s quite a find.  There’s no spells in here that I don’t already know but it’s quite interesting to see how . . .”

“And you didn’t feel like this was relevant to the investigation?  That there’s an old dead wizard in the mix?”

He blinked “No, it didn’t occur me.”

“A crazy wizard builds a cabin in the woods eight years ago and now his grandson’s wife disappears in that same cabin?  You’re right, that’s probably nothing.”

“What makes you think he’s crazy?”

“You heard me say wizard right?”

He scowled and turned away, clutching the book possessively. 

I raised my voice to the group “General rule, if anyone finds any shocking and fantastic clues let’s make sure we share those with the group okay?  Just a thought guys.  Seems like it might help with the investigation.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 27,817 platinum, 44,845 gold

XP: 635,101

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Ring of Disguise, Badge of Last Resort, Stone of Good Luck, Tankard of the Drunken Hero,  Censer of Dreams,  potions of cure moderate wounds (5), potion of invisibility, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Belt of Physical Might +4, Versatile Vest, Campfire Bead, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow with Sharpshooter’s Blade, Deck of Curses (two cards used), Ring of Urban Grace,  Bewitching Gown, Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Black Marketers’ Bag (5), white squirrel fur Slippers of Scampering, Nymph’s Favor, Token of Summoning, Tidy Trunk

Courtier’s Outfit, noble’s outfit (5) collegium ring,  pocketed scarf, wrist sheath, signet ring (2) assortment of fake signet rings, silver chain set with moonstones, gold and emerald ring (2), garnets (700), severed hag head, gold necklace with jade pendant, ivory combs, tax collector’s badge, gold bracelet with ivory inlays, silver necklace set with rubies, gold earrings with jade inlays, silver and gold brooch, silver necklace with ruby pendant, glass vials of something awful (8), disguise kit, covenant ring , tiny diamonds (27), Saryah Phidaner gown, masterwork thieves’ tools, onyx (55)    

Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane, Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis,  Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee,  Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage, Essa 

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