It took Maruc and Miklos each explaining to him separately the reasoning for returning to Sukiskyn before the dwarf accepted the fact that they had to retrace their route.
As the party traveled to Sukiskyn, Ludo chatted to Yousef. He could not help but feel admiration for the Yousef’s bravery in resisting the torture that Golthar and Vlaak had inflicted upon him. Yousef smiled when Ludo confirmed to him that Vlaak had been killed in the assault on the tower, and again thanked Ludo for his role in his rescue.
Yet, Ludo felt uneasy. He knew that Golthar would not forfeit ‘the game’ so easy. He had lost this round that was for sure; his tower had been ransacked, his forces routed and, most importantly, the party had recovered Yousef and had gained an invaluable clue to his evil scheme. But, Golthar was a powerful mage and there were two lessons that Ludo had learnt since leaving home. The first was don’t cross a local thieves guild on their territory, and secondly don’t cross powerful spell casters—they both were unforgiving and vindictive. He wondered what Golthar’s next step would be and also reflected on the translation of the parchment. What was the treasure? How would the tapestries show the way? No doubt this treasure was what Golthar was after.
The dampness of the ancient forest gave way to the familiar clearing. The Sukiskyn homestead had broad scaffolding lashed to a newly built palisade wall, it was an impressive amount of work considering the brief time they had been away. Testament to the hardiness of the Dymrak woodsmen. It shamed Maruc to think how quickly repairs could be performed. Perhaps he should have stayed to rebuild the cloister after the raid? He dismissed the idea. Halav had guided him on a different path.
He passed the lonely graves of Novannes and Hakos and bowed his head for a moment in prayer, then made his way with the others to the Great Hall. He could detect the sound of industrious carpentry.
Pyotr was stripped to the waist working on a new strong think door to his hall. He turned as the party approached. A broad grin spreading across his face as he recognized the party. He pulled on his tunic and went straight to Stephan then hugged him warmly. “Welcome home Stephan! And Yousef! I heard about it all and I am glad to see you in good health. Excellent, excellent! Welcome home all!” He turned to the house and called, “Darya! A feast! A feast for our friends! Stephan has returned!”
The dwarf nodded at the palisade being constructed. Maybe if the group remained at the homestead a while, he would offer his assistance, but for now it seemed the women were preparing a meal and the dwarf was not going to say no to properly cooked food.
“Gamarjoba!” Stephan exclaimed in old Traladaran to his clan fellows. “The repairs are coming along well!”
Maruc clasped Pyotr’s proffered hand as he ushered them into his great Hall. “I see the repairs are going well Pyotr.” he said, “Hopefully the goblins will remain away for a long while.” Kuzma came down the stairs and Maruc grinned as she approached. “Halav Reincarnate bless you Kuzma.”
A quizzical look passed her face. “Reincarnate? You must have a story to tell Maruc.” she said.
“Ahh… the truth is all I have to offer…” Maruc smiled mysteriously.
* * * * *
Ludo had felt good when they arrived at Sukiskyn. The reception by Stephans’s clansmen was very welcoming and a great celebration was soon underway to rejoice in Yousef’s safe return. The meal of course was beyond compare and he thanked the ladies of Sukiskyn heartily.
Hasan joined his companions and their hosts in their feast, but he could not join their revelry. The new palisade would burn like the old if they did not press onward to extinguish the Dymrak’s pests and whatever mastermind drove them into their strange alliances.
Aside from the elf’s aloofness, there was much cheer, despite the hardships the family had suffered. Stephan and Pyotr discussed the reconstruction and repairs for the homestead. For the first time since the raid, a gleam returned to the elder brother’s eyes as he spoke about his plans for constructing a bigger barn and stouter gate.
“The horses you recovered, Stephan, are doing well. Molly,” he gestured to a large mare, “has had a strong foal and we expect more. We’ll use their strength clear more land and build a stronger wall.”
Maruc pushed his plate away. It was wonderful to be out of his armour. “Pyotr, again you have welcomed us with over generosity. Thank you, but this business is not yet finished. Have you an ancient tapestry? Stalwart in his resistance to the ministrations of Golthar the Yellow, Yousef here did not bow and yet learned more from Golthar than he revealed.”
“We believe that the tapestry holds a secret that we may have the means to unlock. Miklos?” He looked at the mage across the table.
Miklos nodded, and left the table. He rummaged in his pack, and produced the small box. “Here is what we assume to be the key. For it says on this parchment amongst other things ‘The sacred tapestries and your silver needles show the path.’ These we found in Golthar’s tower. Yousef was being questioned as to the whereabouts of the tapestry Maruc was alluding to. Fortunately, a great disaster may have been averted thanks to Yousef, for if Golthar had gained access to its secrets an Eternal Night is all we would be looking forward to right now.”
Darya stood, “One moment. I hid it during the raid along with all our other valuables in the armoury. I shall get it.”
Darya and Kuzma laid the Tapestry out onto the table. Stephan watched in wonder as Kuzma laid out the beautiful tapestry. It seems to be more intricate then he recalled. “Tis a thing of great beauty.”
The dwarf looked over the fabric. He didn’t see anything special about it.
They all watched as Miklos brought forth the strange needle and thread they’d found in Golthar’s tower. Miklos placed the needle and tread on the surface…and waited.
As the needle was touched to the tapestry, it sparked brightly and its golden thread shimmered. Moving of its own volition, the needle magically weaved through the tapestry, subtly changing the areas it passed through. Soon the geometric patterns were gone, replaced by a beautifully executed map depicting a coastline, mountains and rivers of what the group recognized as a stylized map of the Duchy of Karameikos. A pulsating golden area nestled in a mountain range—the northeastern range of the Black Peak Mountains—depicted a golden temple and no doubt the location of the ancient treasures that Golthar so desperately sought.