Letter #11: Part Two: Friendship is Magic
I had not finished the tales of the day when I abruptly ended the last letter. I felt it pertinent not to overwhelm you, for I did not know how much more paper and ink this conclusion would need before it was rounded off. I often feel myself deflate upon receiving a lengthy correspondence, for if I take a break and leave it too long, I fear I shall forget and needs start over again. Herr Tunnefrik did always say, “Moderation ist ze key to Life!” – how poorly I have followed his example in my own interpretation of his lessons.
Reclining and resting in the mess-hall of the Barachial Envoy – were it not filled with dangerous and ever-vigilant mages committing acts of treason against an incredibly unstable monarch, I might call this place something akin to home – it was inquired of Gudael what her vision was during her most resent seizure spell, but like a dozing dream, she could not remember it, I still sought some guidance from the divinely blessed.
I confessed to Gudael that I felt guilty for my selfish behaviour of drinking and rule breaking only for it all to end with the death of a man I rather liked and respected. Yet, Adrik assured me that Rolen was not dead, but that he was sent on his way by Brixton. “He may be a bastard, but he’s not an evil man,” and immediately I felt better. Not cleansed, for the prospect of a death sentence was still set upon that bard’s head due to my actions, yet I find it comforting that there are those out there better than me ensuring the innocent are protected from injustice.
It was then that we heard an intense discussion and the grim, gravelly voice of Hamir was heard – reluctant to be the sole source of these spells which I had requested. He entered and seemed not only unwilling to part with any spell but also unwilling to come with us – for he saw in his future some cruel death involved with us. For a small fee he parted with a page of his book that held the spell I wanted, yet he came back once the transaction was completed, and I had spotted why.
On the opposing page of the leaf was another spell, one more power than I can cast. A necromantic spell that I was not only eager to retain in my repertoire but also suspicious as to why the mage had it in the first place. I hid it, and when Hamir returned, I conjured a copy of the spell he had – and I emphasised – willingly sold me, and that, even though there was clearly nothing on the other side, it was neither my fault nor concern if he failed to check the opposite side before handing over the non-returnable goods. Brixton also made a move to regain the fee back from the mage’s purse, but just as Hamir caught him, Rem dismissed the mage and we were left alone with our good employer. Seeing Hamir is always a pleasure.
We prepared to set about our way, Adrik wishing a final word with him, and, with a new spell, I conveyed to Rem that one should keep an eye on Hamir – for we suspected him to be a leak of information, thus how the Leppers of Nort could know so much about the excavation. Upon Adrik’s departure of the barracks, I made note to ask him a question in regards to the interrogation once more, this time, on a lighter tone. I confirmed with this good fellow that he did in fact call us friends and whether he meant it. He verified that sentiment, and I showed my appreciation, for as you well know, I have never had a friend before. And with that, the grand man gave me a hug.
Naturally, in a fellowship-taunting way – as is his humour – Brixton teased this moment, to which Adrik sensed jealousy and offered to extend the hug to him. Leith abated any shame in this lull, stating it is good to recollect on companionship, and Adrik corroborated; “Friendship is magic.” Apologising for this delay, I suggested we continue about our mission.
Upon our return to the first dig-site, the area had been cordoned off by the royal guard. Bubbling on the ground was the grizzly remains of the shoosuva, its flesh now turned into a puddle of goo-like acid; its gnarled claws and clumps of its gauzy fur floating across the pungent slime as the vile odour rose to combat with our sense, an undying attempt of the deceased creature to still assail us in our travels. There guards halted our proceedings merely, though, to confirm our identities. Having all been accounted for, the guards told us that under the command of Queen Claresca it was decreed that we should be allowed to move freely through Ludivar, an otherwise now restricted district. We were also made to understand that the coins given to us by the queen were in fact badges of honour, only ever gifted unto those the queen deems her chosen few that have proved to her of their dedication and virtuosity.
Adrik and I side-eyed one another, realising that we had given a good two-hundred of these Muldraean crowns to Oakenstaff in Thorasis. We dallied not, and continued on.
At the main dig-site we found four fallen wizards, a good deal of those brain-dead slaves the mages had obtain for their laborious needs, and a single raven – quite possibly the familiar Mister Rem was referring to when the explosions first occurred – and three wagons filled with gold. It was here that we made our move. Harnessing Adrik’s two oxen to one of the treasure-laden carts, we escorted it back to the tunnel and into the secret passageway where our fight earlier that day had taken place. While Adrik, Gudael, Leith, and I went about unpacking the gold into this den, Brixton went to inform Drazail of the location of the stolen gold.
Two passing wagons nearly discovered our operations, but Adrik and I sent them about their way, racing down the tunnel, either out of fear or a pressing need to inform the authorities of our actions. This we did not let slow down our undertaking. Leith and I stayed with the current plunder to ensure no one else took it – Brixton could not as now he was watching carefully over the gold at the dig-site, Adrik was our only driver, and I feared Gudael alone would suffer another fit and be left unconscious and at the mercy of any pillaging thugs that would gladly kill her then and there rather than risk her waking and sounding some alarm.
It was three or so hours before all was said and done, all three carts of gold, one for each of our employing patrons of the Triumvirate, and thus, our end of that bargain was completed. Yet, how far were we willing to go to ensure we would never need to debase ourselves or live-in poverty ever again? How willing were we to risk it all? Our debt is mounting, looming like some grand, elemental storm that shall bring about the destruction of all that we are, have cared for, built, and loved. This “heist” as Brixton calls it, if it works, I feel at least some sizable dent in our due shall be removed and breathing shall come more easily to us.
Down into the Underdark we once more ventured, to guarantee the safety of our most stupendous of finds, the funeral ship. While we set up camp, waiting for any new orders from Rem or some attempted incursion by the drow or Leppers, we searched more this great hoard of gold.
Adrik, quite literally, dove into the gold, ecstatic once more to have all this wealth at his fingertips without Hamir’s foreboding glare haunting us. And here, two grand cylinders were found. Two great scrolls of ancient giant text known as the Ostorian Saga that document the world long ago, even before the advent of giants.
Further under those cascading hills of gold, scattering aside the loose shield-sized coins of or, there was a sarcophagus. A great stone coffin, inlaid with fantastical designs and runes not too dissimilar from that of Adrik’s knightly armour, that gilded the exterior of this tomb. Was this the vizier? The giants whose whole life, death, and accomplishments this whole burial was formed around – or at least, this ship? And as this was pondered, I could see Gudael starting to gaze at that book. I advised she not look, and she complied.
I feel nervous around that thing. While such great discoveries and riches can be found upon this ceremonious-vessel, there can be many a cursed artefact here. The serpent. The book. What else is here that lends itself so willingly to evil?
I should like to find them, solely that we may dispose of them. Perhaps into the stagnant waters below that go who-knows how deep. Perhaps we are able to transport it far enough that we may take it to the chasm, and there, send it down into the depths of the abyss from whence it came.
Yet, some little bit of curiosity takes hold of my hand and claws its way into my mind. What masterful knowledge should I find within? What answers to mysteries shall be written in ink that were so terrible they must be locked inside so horrible a tome?
And now I find my mind once more wondering. Gazing up at the mountainous memory of that great black ruin of flesh and ooze, those dead white eyes, the impossible anatomy of that indescribable thing. How the men ran from it that day. How those things inside of it moved and writhed. How no one thereafter spoke of it, nor spoke of those dozens and dozens of men who never came home.
And like some spiral of madness, I drown myself in these thoughts that can only be quenched by the absolution of a knowledge either long forgotten or unobtainable to the mortal mind. Yet here before me I see one that may be either or both and I dare not open it? I dare not find peace?
This place gives me much to think about. I am a worrisome man, one that breeds worry. Heed not my rambling streams of consciousness. I shall sleep and wake in what I can only hope is the morning with a mind clear and unplagued by these thoughts that swell into my mind like the crashing waves of a raging migraine.
Care not for my silly conceptions, care only for my silly heart and the friends of this silly man. To say now that I have friends is something I would never thought I would say and a sentiment of warmth towards my fellow companions spreads throughout me. I have not had a drink today and I suspect that is the culprit for all these notions.
May you forever be happy and enjoy your life as you should,
Baron Edryn Styewell Krillinovich Montkoff