Part 16: Return to Sender
Morning arises in the tower and Fralco appears with a divine breakfast for the party. Mahin in particular looks excitedly at the cheese and bread on offer. The little hobbit grins in pleasure at Mahin's obvious joy at the spread. The party tucks in to the feast and questions the hobbit on how he was able to afford such a feast.
"I have been...um....hiring out....the bottom floor...for you!" He stammers in reply. Nervously looking around the party. They shake their heads "Fralco".
The party decides to use caution and head to the bazaar to pick up supplies before walking into an unknown setting. They walk through the city and smell the spices of life, and their world. The market is packed with goods for sale and the party works their way along the stalls seeking their goods.
Alena turns to seeking daggers with a rune on upon the blade, the market provides but the cost is too high. Her heart sinks, for she longed to add a paid of blades to her collection.
Alena turns to the party "I think Ezra and Candur should go to the drop off alone. Mahin and I will await you outside, in case anything goes wrong."
The party agrees, they head to a part of town with large houses and wide streets. Streets that are clean of decay and rubbish. The party advances upon the location, large sandstone walls appear before them. The sandstone walls are marked with faces of the wind and the sun. Candur pauses at the wall and recognises symbols of Tiamat. Tiamat is the goddess of the sea and queen of dragons, she is the creator of monsters.
Mahin turns to Ezra "Here? You are meant to deliver the scrolls here?"
Ezra looks upon the gates "Yes."
Candur pauses again as Ezra asks is he ready to enter the domain of his lords. Candur starts to back away from the gates, shaking his head and saying no over and over again. He runs down the street in fear with the scrolls in his hand.
"I suppose we should follow the man with our loot" Alena says to the others.
They pursue him through the streets as he walks swiftly towards the tower.
"What happened back there!?!?!?" Ezra demands.
"There are dark things in the water" Candur says.
"What is the matter Candur? Are you afraid of something?" Mahin asks with concern in her voice.
Mahin grabs Candur as he tries to pull away and slaps him "What is the matter, you must tell us."
Mahin asks again "Tell us what you know. We need to know why you do not want to do dealings with them."
The party is in turmoil as they weigh the morale obligations of releasing the wrath of the scrolls to those who would use them for harm. Ezra admits that his point of contact is not the final drop point. Alena is furious, hearing that they weren't even going to be meeting the final receivers which bodes poorly for the extra party members.
Candur heads off towards the Temple of Ishtar, racing towards it without looking back. Ishtar is the god of luck and war, love and peace. Her priests look up as Candur ascends the stares. The priests in white robes and gold trims stand around the top of the temple talking.
Mahin catches up "What are you trying to do with these scrolls?"
Candur yells at the top of his voice "The Scrolls of Skelos!"
They look at him curiously but with no sparks of understanding. He pushes past them as he races into the temple and grabs a lowly level priest demanding the high priest. Candur sits down beside the pillar and begins to rock back and forwards as he looks upon the crowd with nervous eyes.
"Our friend is not well" Mahin says.
"I must go see my masters" Ezra looks towards the city.
"What if they kill you for not delivering? Then what?" Mahin asks logically.
Alena walks up to Candur and deftly grabs the scrolls from his grasp. He lunges to grab them back but Alena dodges him. Priests rush to his aid, and due to his raving they treat him like a simpleton. He raves about the gods and their belongings. His agitation increases.
"Please calm my friend, he is unwell" Mahin begs the priest looking concerned at Candurs ravings.
Candur starts rifling through the pages of his notebook and suddenly closes the book.
"Alright. Let's go" Candur starts walking out of the temple, gently patting Alena on the shoulder as he leaves.
"What the hell Candur?!?!" Mahin yells, but he ignores them and continues the path back to the house.
Back at the estate, the guardsman awaits them on the other side of the large gate.
"Hello good sir" Ezra says calmly to the man.
The guard wanders off and returns shortly with a servant.
"Ah, welcome back. You returned. Come in" the servant beckons the party inside.
The gardens are large and beautiful and the goddess's symbols surround. Though the estate is beautiful, there is signs of disrepair throughout. They enter the villa and guards surround them as they exit again into a courtyard. A women lays upon a stuffed couch, awaiting the servants for food and beverages.
"It is good to see your return" she lazily looks upon the party "Bring them what was promised".
"You have caught us at an interesting time, we have another offer for you" her hand lazily reaches for a grape in the nearest servants hand. "My niece disappeared from her chamber, a locked chamber. We need her found. We need her found now. She has been kidnapped."
"May we look through her room?" Ezra asks quietly.
"5,000 gold pieces" Alena states calmly "If you value her life, that is."
"3,000 gold pieces. It is my final offer" she eyes them "and here is your gold."
Alena hands over the scrolls as the guards place the gold in her hand.
"Madam you have been so gracious" Mahin starts "May we see her room?"
The party confers with their hostess as they guide arrives to show them through the house to the room in question. The door sits closed in front of them. The feather bed and perfect tapestries are a sign of the comfort and elegance. A pile of glass lays under the window, the bed covers are thrown back, a beautiful gown lays on the hope chest at the end of her bed.
The servant is Drennel. It is her personal servant confesses that the niece has had several admirers though no romances to speak of. They discuss the her family and the previous night, before her disappearance. She notes that her final brandy lays untouched, and speaks of minor cuts and bruises upon her arms as she dressed her recently, and one long gauge across her back.
They examine the window and the outside courtyard. The glass is inside the window and a jasmine trestle outside upon the wall going down to the meet the courtyard grounds. The house captain arrives and talks about the many cousins in the house and the embarrassing situations they undoubtedly got themselves into. The smell of jasmine of overwhelming.
The smell resonates from the desk and a vial upon it.
"Look at this vial wizard" Mahin demands.
"It's perfume" he says, not even leaving his lazy position against the wall.
"We should get a dog!" Mahin said as though stating the obvious.
The party looks at her and then shake their respective heads.
A guard taps Mahin on the shoulder "I....I...I noticed....I really wanted...I really want her back.....I want to let you know. I was her bodyguard...I accompanied her to The Priests of the Broken Gate a few times....she feigned a casual influence in them when I was there....she never really noticed me.
"Did she visit the Priests often?" Mahin asked.
"Sometimes, but we went to many places...I can tell you! A shopping trip to the Quosabouse two days ago to purchase more gowns, a masked ball at house Taroth two nights ago...there was dancing....I don't know any of the gossip...but no one touched her! And a trip to the Priests yesterday" he finished suddenly.
Candur begins to examine her dresses and while overall they appear normal there are some tears that he sees. He walks over the checks the dress against Mahin to see where the tears would be sitting on the female form. Candur drops the dress and pulls out a magnifying glass as he moves to examine the bar that was upon the door, previously keeping it locked. He then examines the bed and walks back to the window. Gazing at the scenery and seeking answers in the sky.
The party is in the courtyard examining the ground as a Owlier takes to the sky at Candur's word. Owlier looks glorious as her white wings sail through the sky. The party is unable to find any signs of an escape or the victim being whisked away. The shard of glass remains in Ezra's hand, he holds it tightly.
The party bids the reclining mistress goodbye as they exit the estate.
They head in the direction of perfume seller, Careleas is her favourite. They enter the store to find the owner herself appearing to be awaiting them, an older lady with a kind smile. They tell her of the missing young lady, and the older lady says that her taste in jasmine is well overdone and that she has not seen her in over a week now.
"Has anyone else bought this scent recently" Ezra asks.
"Well..I suppose some people..."she trails off nervously.
Ezra's head lifts as Mahin turns to her "My lady, this is extremely important. Please tell us."
"She came here as a cover, to hide from her family to see someone out in the alley for over an hour sometimes" she lowers her voice and looks around. She leads them out the back of the store to the alley way, where the smell of jasmine lingers in the air.
The construction site sits across the alleyway. The party walks towards it and suddenly Mahin looks up to see a pair of red eyes and the scream of an ape echoes through the air.