“Before we embark on this quest what proof have we that you actually own the property in question? You have the deeds? We may find ourselves on the wrong side of the Duke if we insult one of his allies by assaulting his castle, would we not?” Miklos wasn’t entirely sceptical but it pays not to beguile oneself with the thought of discovering arcania just because someone mentioned ‘wizard’. Still there’s no time like the present.“My, you are a very suspicious lot, aren’t you? I assure you, all of my papers are in order, and you may see them if you must. Whatever is in that castle is no ally of the duke. If only that were so!”
And so, the group tentatively accepted the mission. Clifton paid the group the advance as promised, and provided them with a map to get to the castle, which was about a day’s journey from the city. Before leaving, he offered to make himself available to them should they have any more questions.
After the merchant left, Nicolai began discussing the preparations for their task. “Before we go, I think we should purchase some torches, lanterns, oil and tinderboxes. Castles often have underground areas, that will not be open to day light. Although our friend Feldard may be used to this, the rest of us are not.”
“I hear you Nicolai, I will visit my church and see what advice they may offer for such an endeavour. You never know even the waters for the Holy Font may be of use!” Maruc grinned, and then it slid off his face as he wondered what he might confront that would be effected by such waters.
Saeth didn’t even notice that the man hadn’t answered her questions, content that the bargain was struck. That wasn’t half bad–she could manage in this state anytime! Speaking of which, what time was it? Saeth thought it was nearing nightfall, but Mik- Mi- the boy had said he’d come back in four hours… wouldn’t that be the middle of the night? Well, regardless of the time, she could hardly go to sleep while the youth was out working, could she? “I’ll just wait here,” she announced to everyone around, “just in case you need me for anything.” She sipped her drink, satisfied at a job well done.
So, Feldard had been wrong about the timing, but still it seemed the deal had been struck and he was soon to be headed to a wizard-cursed castle. He nodded his agreement to Nicolai’s suggestion. Leading a pack of dimmed sighted humans through winding underground tunnels was not his idea of fun. Yes, as annoying as they were to him, torches would be of use to the group. “Four hours then.. ” in the interim he would seek out the Tribune and inquire as to his missing bride – at least he could get that started.
Being a village priest cloistered in a damp whitewashed room didn’t give you alot of life experiences. The term Necromancer meant nothing to Maruc. ‘Black Arts’ was what his old Abbot used to describle what Miklos practiced; non-divine Magic Use. Maruc had never heard tell of Priests going ‘to the bad’. His abbot had said it was impossible because they would be instantly excommunicated by their diety. Still, the whole idea worried him. Not least because of what he had seen Miklos do and he was just learning his craft. It would be terrible indeed to face one who could do worse than him. Another test of Halav it was then…
* * * * *
They bade farewells and, pocketing their 50 royal advances, set about preparing for the mission. Nicolai purchased torches, lanterns, oil, tinderboxes and rations. Maruc returned to his church and gathered some holy water. Feldard inquired about his missing betrothed, but there was no information to be found. It was suggested that he could seek out the dwarves of the Stronghollow clan residing in Highforge, or perhaps, the Wufwolde Hills nearby, the location of numerous iron mines worked by gnomes and dwarves. Saeth continued drinking.
Miklos threaded his way through the streets. He mused that perhaps under a Charm glamour Caldwell might have revealed more. Doing some research, he was not able to find anything to contradict Clifton’s story. He was able to learn the name of the rebel wizard — Sevastian. He was an old Traladaran wizard, rumored to be obsessed with unlocking the secrets of death and immortality. Legend had it that he conducted experiments on corpses. No one knew for sure what became of him. Some said he died from an experiment gone awry, others said he just disappeared. There were even those who whispered that he has become a liche.