Sareth M’Kilas was tiered; her parents appointment in the capital combined with her grandfather’s retirement meant she had to see to the contracts. The first was a temple job, nothing unusual, the temple was too easy to penetrate, despite the impotent warnings and curses provided for what she thought was amusement. No magic had ever touched them however, leaving them for decoration. After she finished her testing, well to be honest, she stopped after the third successful attempt; she began detailing the failings of their security. It always surprised her how the worshipful could be so belligerently blinded to the truth. They would not budge from their “Faith will protect us” routine. In the end, the follow up consultation was canceled, with an invitation to join their congregation. Lost in thought and weary from the day, she moved on auto pilot, ignoring all that surrounded her. She didn’t even realize she was home till she was opening the door.
“Papaw I’m home.” Weariness evident in her voice as she closed the door with a soft click. “That temple job was…” The quiet so oppressive in its absoluteness interrupted her thoughts. Neither creaks nor sounds of movement anywhere. Grandfather was good, but not that good. Nor would he have a reason to try and trick her now.
In one motion, she pulled her daggers and started stalking toward the elder’s room. It was the least likely place for him and hence the first she checked. He loved being active and made sure everyone knew it “I might be retired, but I’m not in my grave quite yet child” the typical mantra filled her thoughts. The door, barely ajar, raised every hackle she had. He never left that door open. It was a security violation. All logic bade her to run and retrieve the authorities, yet every fiber of her body begged to continue, just to see, she had to see. The door was just slightly too closed for her to slip in, using her dagger pommel at the top mirrored by matching foot at bottom she eased the door slightly open.
As soon as she was in she took stock of the situation, everything was the orderly mess he generally kept things in, that was except his body slumped over the desk.
“Papaw!” Her voice plaintive and searching, as a child who lost their only dolly. Despite her sorrow she moves to check the body. No breath. No heart beat. Her senses returned. What was she doing? Her presence would obscure that of the intruder, as fast as she could without disturbing anything further; she darted out of the house.
She knew not how far she had run when she finally caught up to the patrol. She quickly told them what she had found, instinct taking over to push her grief down. It seemed like hours before the Inquisitors arrived.
“I’m Ben and this is Jerry.” The bear like man spoke, while the other, who could pass for an alley cat, only nodded. “Why don’t you tell us exactly what happened, then we’ll start finding this Jackass.”
She once again, for the um-teenth time, explained how she found the body. They nodded and made little noises at her description listening intently, as if they would lock her description into memory. When she was done, they looked at each other seemingly having a shared thought. Jerry proceeded inside presumably to begin the investigation. Ben sat beside her.
“We will find this killer. What I need you to do now is go and make funeral arrangements. I’ll send a detail along with you to help. Knowing your family I have to say this, at no time will you endanger yourself or this investigation by looking yourself; leave that to us.” After the brief talk Ben stood and gathered four of the city guards, gave them instructions then sent her on her way.
Grandfather, while not a religious man, had close ties with the temple of Boccob. If anyone they would be the ones to give him his funeral. Slowly in a cloud she walked to the Academy of Higher Learning. The guards, being typical, declined to go into the building where Mages were taught and magic reigned. She noticed nothing as she was ushered in to the temple and the High Priest came to talk to her.
After her brief description, the High Priest moved her to his private office and gave her paper to write to her parents at the capital. Numbly she remembered something about assigning her a priest to help with all the arrangements. All she knew for sure was that the ink was going to be blurred in those spots that her tears touched.
Beldin Glanhak was the unlikeliest member of the temple, being a dwarf. Here he was however, and here he was being assigned to aid her in her grieving. She was told that the temple would take care of the arrangements and let her know when they were to be scheduled. Her business was done here, but where would she go, the Inquisitors were still in her house. She wasn’t religious so had no temple to go to, for her own reasons, besides she had her very own personal priest right here. There was one place she could go however; The Smokey Ale had become a home away from home. A place to unwind, meet her friends, and drown her worries.
This was the first time that the high priest had ever asked him to do something outside of the church. He would have been ecstatic if the grieving of this elf had not been right here in front of him. Surely it was the oddest task to give a dwarf, helping an Elf in her period of grieving, but it was his task, his way to prove that even a dwarf could be a valuable member of Boccob’s temple. It was to this that the neutrality so taught in the church overcame him, detaching him from this sad moment.
“Feh.” was his reply to the request of going to a tavern for drinks, observing how most people divert themselves from their emotions in some form or fashion, and wondering how much could be learned of a person by these distractions. Once outside they dismissed the guards, as he would look after her and the guards were not needed.
He sat and watched, over Ale that actually smoked her write out letters to various people. Most of these from what he could see were to people explaining that their contracts would have to be postponed due to a family emergency. That’s where he remembered their name, M’kilas. He had been a prominent member of the military who, upon retirement plied his skills as a consultant to insure that various shops and buildings were safe from burglars. Apparently he had lost some of his skills in his age, having had someone sneak up on him. He logged that in his mental tally of quirks life possessed. He was lost in ruminations when the waitress brought a platter full of drinks. The word of her grandfather’s death had spread; several people in the bar had bought their table drinks in a way to offer their sympathies.
They were on their third drink when the runner came, “A certified letter for you mem, from the Mag’s.” Slowly she took the letter and read it.
The following people are asked to attend the reading of Larenstauf M’kilas:
- Thaos M’kilas
- Ahkahna M’kilas
- Sareth M’kilas
- Rupert Corax
- “The Face”
- Sergin Malifarce
The Listings went on and on, in total there where to be 27 people at the Reading including the High Priest of Boccob. The date was set on the 27th of Maylard 1583, a week from now.
The week seemed to go by endlessly, there were so many people she needed to talk to, write, or notify that her grandfather had died. Beldin almost cared until he realized he had nothing better to do. She hadn’t been bad company, it was just that he would rather be reading, and here he was now instead of the High Priest at the reading of the last will. He could learn something from this he kept thinking, but as hard as he tried he couldn’t think of it. The tediousness of the whole ordeal wasn’t the only thing bothering him. At least two of the near thirty attendees, he thought he knew. If he was correct then this “prize of Snildon” wasn’t nearly as good as people said he was. The first was this Rupert, wearing an eye patch and leather covering over the nub that used to be his right hand. Wasn’t the god Vecna suppose to be missing his left eye and right hand?
Then there was the person known only as “The Face” there were enough wanted posters for him that everyone knew the person, but none had ever seen his true identity. Yes this was company that was not kept by straight, law abiding citizens.
She sat patiently noting the mild annoyance of the priest that had accompanied her here. She was ruminating on the fact that she had never seen most of the people here when the Magistrate walked in.
“Good day, and before we begin may I give my sympathies for your loss? We are gathered here today to witness the reading and inception of Larenstauf M’Kilas. Before we read the will, is anyone here wanting to make objections to the individual’s mental, spiritual or physical health? ... Good.”
The will was rather long. Giving portions of his savings to this person or that person, divishining the awards he had garnered from the military, and general pieces of information full of innuendos only the intended recipient would get. The two most interesting things about the reading were two phrases spoken about Sareth.
The first: To Rupert Corax; “The Face”; and Sergin Malifarce; I leave the safety of the jewel of the M’kilas family, Sareth is your charge see to it that harm touches not a hair until she parts from the clutch.
The second: To Sareth my granddaughter and, to some extent, protégée; I leave the wealth of my knowledge and secrets, both physical and otherwise, may you find the answers.
Beldin pondered the words used in the will there was something else in them than just the flowery structure one used to romanticize their death, a hidden meaning. This was what was still on his mind when they reached the manor house.
“Beldin You Coming?”
“Oh yhea.” She had caught him off guard, not all together a hard task, but then so had the scene that unfolded in the waiting room. Sitting in various chairs was a group of people from the will reading. The most obvious was Corax now sitting without either the patch or the cloth covering the nub. In their place a grouping of necrotic energy roughly the shape of the original. Next to him drinking brandy was “The Face”, a book opened casually. On the other side of the reading table sat Sergin Malifarce, his eyes slightly glowing as he floated a book to him as well. The feeling of evil filled the room with cold dread.
“Oh, forgive us we didn’t mean to impose, just trying to carry out your Grand fathers wishes.
“It would have been nice had you waited until I arrived and then let yourselves in.” she raised an eyebrow at the assembled men.