Chapter 7- The Blast
Myth of Krisodoris is back baby
Durm and Ape quickly came running down. The ground floor was decorated with stuffed faux animal heads, suits of armour. He had planned to add a grand piano to the room along with another fireplace made to resemble a campside. He also added three tavern round tables, a sofa set cum table, a ten-person grand table and two cosy love seats. “What just happened?” Durm asked.
“Something went off. Something big. Back alley.” Ape replied.
“I heard screams. Shall we check?” Durm asked. Before Ape could answer a woman came running inside. She was a slightly light-skinned human dressed in rags. “Sire, Sire, My kids they hurt boom.” She told Durm. She was the mother of the three urchins. “What happened, Are Nat, Jenks and Squiddly ok?” Durm worriedly asked. “They go school then blast.” The woman hurriedly replied.
“Are you thinking what I am thinking has happened?” Ape asked.
“I better not be.”
They both headed outside and ran towards the back alley. In the wake of the explosion, people emerge from their houses and shops to survey the devastation. The alley which usually smelled of flowers and food, that day smelled of smouldering. The fireball didn't set any buildings ablaze, but it left eleven people dead: One elderly female human who was out for a walk, Two cloaked male humans clad in leather armour, adorned with flying snake tattoos and armed with sheathed longswords, Two female humans and one male half-elf dressed in plain clothes, One male gnome wearing a burned cloak, and had dry waste on his boots and was clutching a dagger, Two female halflings who were playing the flute and fiddle and two male halflings who were dancing.
The urchin kids, Nat, Jenks and Squiddly had also been caught in the blast but were alive, seriously hurt but alive.
“Call the healers! I am talking to you Mister blue cloak, the temple is down the street. Quick!” Durm shouted. The man in blue clocked rushed. Till then Ape had started basic first aid on all those who were hurt. While tying up a street shop owner’s wound she said, “Durm, I think the blast was aimed at the Gnome.”
“Why would you think so?” He asked clearing the crowd.
“His entire clock is burned. The attacker had to aim it on him, the others were either bystanders or in pursuit.” She explained.
“You are saying some of these guys are from the Watch?” Durm asked.
“That is not sure. Sure was behind him. But the Watch wouldn’t normally accompany a criminal into the sewers.” Ape said.
“Sewers?” Durm asked.
“You are dumb, aren’t you? His boots have dry waste he ran from the sewers at a high speed as if someone was chasing him.” Ape said.
Durm wanted to investigate further but he stopped to talk to the clerics. He guided them towards all those who were hurt, especially towards the kids.
“How are they doing?” Ape asked as Durm entered the tavern. They were in the taproom.
“Nat and Squiddly are fine. Jenks is in critical condition.” He gravely replied.
“What did the clerics say?” Ape asked dryly. “It's a coin flip. She may make it, she may not. It is up to fate,” Durm said pulling out a bottle of strong alcohol. “Whoever was behind the blast, It is not going unpunished. For it has the blood of eleven people on his hand and who knows how many of the injured make it.”
“It?” Ape asked. “The person behind this doesn’t deserve any human pronoun. It is a filthy animal, and I don’t care what shell it lives in.” Durm angrily explained.
The tavern was closed today. They didn’t want to operate on such a black day.
Moments later someone knocked loudly on the front door. Durm opened it, “We are closed today.” he melancholically said.
“Doesn’t matter.” said the man in the purple cloak with a bushy brown beard. He was along with him a was a man of darker complexion who wore a blue uniform with a rainbow of badges pinned to his chest. He pulled out his badge, “Sergent Kelvin Holt.”
Durm escorted them into the living room. The living room had a chess set, a fireplace which was connected to the ground stairs(It wasn’t lighted and thus was empty that day), a bearskin rug upon which lied a marvellous purple sofa set. It also had a few potted plants, wall hanging depicting the map of Krisodoris a smaller grand piano and a few bookshelves.
“Well, we wanted to question you all.” Boomer Blastball, the man in purple said.
“Regarding?” Ape curiously asked.
“The morning. There was a blast and it happened very close to your manor.” Sergeant Kelvin answered. “So?” “What do you know about the gnome?” He sternly asked.
“Nothing.” Durm flatly answered. “Not the one to jump to conclusions but he did have your business card in the pocket.” Blastball interrupted.
“Well, that is peculiar. The most peculiar. We have never met him and still.” Ape hesitantly said.
“Are you sure you have never met him?”
“Positive. We keep a record of every person who bought something here. If you give us a name, Lif can check.” Durm suggested.
“Darkhair. That was his surname, That’s all we know about him.” Sergent Kelvin regretfully said.
“Lif, check for Darkhair.” Ape shouted. Then there was noise of movement of paper and vases as he clumsily moved throughout the place.
After a whole, he came back and spelt, Not There on Ape’s back. “No Darkhair.” Ape reported.
“Well, it was nice talking to you all then. Not useful but nice.” Sergent Kelvin said getting up.
“Thanks. By the way, who is at top of your suspect list? of course, if you are at the liberty to revel so.” Ape asked.
“Well, You guys were at the top as that wizard friend of yours. Octavius Castle- something his name is. He has some undisclosed criminal record, not in Lumsie of course but somewhere.”
“Even though you all are still are suspects by virtue of your proximity to the crime scene. it hardly seems plausible that they would unleash destructive magic so close to your place of business, not to say also your house, in broad daylight.”
“Now we have no suspects. Based on the witnesses, and I feel equally weird saying this, we feel it was done using a magically animated construct.” Blastball and Sergent Kelvin alternated.
“I think we can help.” Durm confidently said. “We did help with the Sthalmast case and that was much bigger than this.” He later added.
“That is mighty nice of you but I think we will have to turn you down.” Sergeant Kelvin replied.
“That would introduce too many new variables into an already confounding equation,” replies Boomball with a frown.
“Trust in the Watch,” Cromley adds dismissively.
That evening was wild. Sir Reginald had returned from his workly expedition from Greenest, obviously, no one other than Hemlock knew that he had gone to Greenest. The evening was everyone discussing about the blast. Durm was not there as he had gone to the Temple of Healing to check on the injured.
The first to speak was Miss Budson. She said inserting a new mistletoe behind her right ear, “I was watering plants in the greenhouse on the second floor of my shop when the blast blew out some of the windows. Oh Lord, Was I lucky that I wasn't injured! Through the smoke, I saw a person, I can’t be sure if it was a man or woman. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be. If it was one of you kids then of course...”
“Miss Budson, What about the person you saw through the smoke?” Avi interrupted.
Ah! So sorry of me to break away. As I was saying, the person wore a red robe and a foppish red hat with a feather. I saw him take something of a dead gnome. Then start limping away. He wasn’t badly burned, untouched one may say. And casting glances over his shoulder, like he was afraid someone might be following him. He was headed toward the Bent Nail.”
“Seriously, What are you trying to imply Miss Hudson?” Tally passionately said. She pulled out one of the wood carving tools, a spatula-like sharp metal and dug it into the table. “I swear on my woodwork. If whoever did this blast comes out to be one of my customers, I will use this exact tool and carve my neck off.”
“Tally cool down. No one said anything about you or any of your customers doing it. For all we know, It could be a missight.” Dracroft calmly said putting on his pince-nez glasses.
“What do you think Hemlock? Who could have done this?” Embric curiously asked.
Hemlock was taken by surprise, He had been comparing notes with Sir Reginald. He quickly recomposed his wits and smoked for a short pause and then said, “ You know what Embric, I have no idea. I just don’t. I have been busy on a case regarding high matters of the city and didn’t truly think much about the blast.”
“And after all, I didn’t see much of the blast. Heard a huge explosion, rushed into the street. Felt the heat of the flame on my face. All my windows blew out.” He dismissively said. He then added, “What about you both? What did you see?” He dryly added.
“See it may sound crazy but I tell you, it was not a man. More like a puppet shaped like a man. A puppet without strings. It was on the rooftop. It hurled something into the crowd below that caused the explosion. I saw those halflings burned alive! I saw them!” Emberic screamed excitedly as his hair whithed.
Avi blew them out by breathing water onto them. “Embric dear, It’s just your brain playing tricks on you. We should talk to a doctor.” Avi calmy said.
“You know what Avi, I think I have to agree with Embric. I myself saw a nimblewright jump from the top of a building just after the fireball.” Dracroft said. “ It was just like another automaton I saw yesterday in the Triplets Parade. It was the part of House of Inspired Hand’s procession.” He explained.
“There exists no reason for the temple to do such a thing.” Sir Reginald said dismissing Dracroft’s point. “House of Inspired Hands is a part of the Temple of Luxon. They wouldn’t allow any of their creations to cause so much destruction.” The goliath explained.
“I think I agree. I saw a man with an ivory wand with orange painted carvings run away from the scene.” Ape said.
“Are you sure the man had an ivory wand with orange carving?” Sir Reginald asked slowly as if something was stuck in his throat.
“I was a pirate, I know what I see. I am sure, Orange wand, Ivory carvings.” Ape confidently said.
“I’ll have to leave.” Sir Reginald said hurriedly running off.
Octavius and Prima had just returned from the Hornblower province and what an adventure had it been. Octavius had nothing but to praise, the kingdom, the management, the army all were A1.
As he was riffling through his spellbook, now with certain spells which he got from the mages there. His attention was grabbed by a towering goliath running towards him, “Octavius you are coming with me.”
“Hey, Commander, How has it been?” Prima cheerfully asked.
“Go home. You’ll understand.” He dryly said. “Octo you coming with me. Now.”
Octavius and Reginald were sitting in a local restaurant. “What would you like sir?” The waiter asked.
“Get us what the table on the left is getting.” Sir Reginald dismissively said.
“What did you do Octavius?” Sir Reginald asked.
“Went to a kingdom, saved their province using tactful diplomacy, learned the new spell,” Octavius said.
“I was a tactical commander for the majority of three decades, Don’t lie.”
“I am not.”
“I can see it. Don’t make me say it. I want you to confess.”
“Ok, I and Prima left one day earlier. I had to do a favour to one of my friends.” Octavius loudly said. The entire crowd gave him looks of absurdity.
“Was the favour perhaps firing a fireball at the Trollskull?” Sir Reginald accused.
“No! It was to steal a handkerchief from Victor Casselenter.” Octavius explained.
“So who was the man with an ivory wand with orange carvings, the one behind the blast at Trollskull Alley.” He asked.
“Only one way to find out.” Octavius smiled, “I am going to cash in the handkerchief.”
Meanwhile, In the Trollskull Manor, Robert Octvener had come again.
He tossed his tousle of shoulder-length red hair while he sipped from his ale. Durm and Ape had taken a seat next to him. “Well, I have something to tell you.” He said in a serious voice.
“Go on,” Durm said. He had sensed from Robert’s tone that he wanted to talk about the blast in the morning.
“Dalkher, The gnome who died, he was my fathers' agent. He was sent here to keep an eye on me, wherever I go he would turn up there. A few ten days ago, he abruptly disappeared.
It will be fair to say that after he disappeared, I also disappeared due to the Sthalmast thing. The day you rescued me, He entered my house, while I and my friends were partying, and slid a note into my pocket. I don’t know what he wanted. His message simply said that he was carrying something valuable for my father, was unable to deliver it, and was hoping that I could help. We decided to meet hereafter at the Triplets Parade. And then...”
“The blast happened.” Durm interrupted.
“Based on your point, It looks like some enemy of Lord Octvener did this.” Ape deduced.
“That doesn’t help. We have many enemies, most of them in Waterdeep.” Robert regretfully said.
“No, What I want to say is, the gnome may have been carrying Octvener’s enigma or some of the parts of it.” Ape explained. “It is obvious that the one who did this is involved in the great game.”
“The only question is that who could this truly be?” Durm asked.
“Master Durm, Lady Ape, There is some invitation for you by some Lord of Castle Tier,” Lif announced.
He handed them an invitation wrapped in a golden envelope. The invitation had a crest depicting an owl standing on two ram horns. The owl had one eye and a strange shaped tale that looked like vampire fangs to Durm. It surely had some deeper meaning which Durm couldn’t identify. He controlled the chuckle and read the invitation in an unfeeling voice.
“The Master of Household has received The Lady and Lordship’s commands to invite The entire ownership of Trollskull Manor to the Feast of Aurion Mount at the Villa Casselenter on the 9th day of Takesh(April), at the 20th hour.
The reply should be addressed
To the Master of Household,
The Moss Tower is a stone building covered in green vines and mosses throughout its edifice. Though humble in its external, looking at the tower for too long fills the viewer with a sense of paranoia, as if someone is watching them from the totally sealed tower. This is true as there are a bunch of concealed windows inside the tower, which can only be accessed by those inside the place.
The door is also hidden from the public by magical vines. Octavius pulled out a burning cigarette from behind his ear and moved it in the air forming a strange design made of embers floating in mid-air. He pushed it and caused the vines to burn off.
“What the hell was that?” Sir Reginald whispered excitedly.
“I burnt some vines so that we could enter,” Octavius replied.
“So we are transpassing?” Sir Reginald said with his tone changed from excitement to criticism.
“If we consider entering my old headquarters transpassing, then yes.”
“Your old headquarters?” Sir Reginald asked.
“Yup,” Octavius said pulling a stone out of the steps and scratching a design on it. He then threw the stone across the room breaking it -into shreds. The shards flew up words and lifted Sir Reginald and Octavius in a wind and dropped them onto the top floor.
“Hullo,” Vajara said. She said dusting off her long coat of purplish hue covered in elven-inked designs.
“If you were here, couldn’t you save me the trouble of needing to use the ‘security measures’? This is just mean of you.” Octavius protested.
“I like to see if you still remember your own security measures. Also, I was kinda hoping that you would’ve forgotten. It would be fun seeing you argue with your own tower.” She said.
“Then that's just sadistic of you.” He said.
“Isn’t sadist a more suitable term for you?” She asked.
Sir Reginald loudly clapped. “Both of you stop right now. Octavius, You remember why we are here?” He interrupted.
“Vajra, Did you use the hankie, I gave you?” Octavius asked.
“I purified it but I haven’t still cast my spell on it,” Vajara said.
“Do it now,” Octavius ordered.
“Why?” She asked loudly as Octavius took out a white powder from a shelf concealed behind a wall.
“It's important. Start the spell, I’ll make the explotat.” Octavius said.
“What is that?” Vajra said producing her own staff from the wall.
“It's a special type of temporary crystal. It helps track the feelings of the one being tracked.” He replied adding a green moss he plucked outside to some of the powder.
After about five minutes of frantic running and mixing and smoking and casting spells, Vajara and Octavius stopped.
“It’s done.” He said rubbing his hands together. Octavius walked ahead towards the crystal ball, now imbued to follow Victor. Upon it was kept a transparent gel-like substance which sat still on the top of the ball. It otherwise was strangely ‘liquidy,’ It was Octavius’s explotat.
“Wait. I am seeing it with you.” Vajara stopped him.
“Love, you better not, matters with the explotant become dicey,” Octavius said.
“We can handle dicey,” Vajara suggested pointing towards Sir Reginald.
“We can handle dicey.” Sir Reginald agreed. “Suit yourself.” He said. Octavius looked at the crystal ball and said in a loud clear voice, “Victer. Today dawn.”
The inside of the ball swirled with red and yellow coming from its bottom. The explotant started revolving around the crystal ball and it turned orange. The red and yellow formed an outline of the alley where Victer had come with an ivory wand with orange carvings, It was similar to Octavius’s wand but the carvings were slightly different. He ran towards the alley but with a sudden blast, He ran backwards. As if he had seen a ghost. There was a robot made of copper and wood with runes inscribed on them. It tossed a few marbles from the top of a building and then the blast happened.
“That’s a nimblewright!” Sir Reginald exclaimed.
“How do you know?” Octavius asked.
“Um, I saw some of them during the war.” Sir Reginald lied.
“What is this?” Vajara said pointing towards the explotant which had now turned red.
“Our signal to ru...” Octavius was interrupted with a blast of green paste which smell liked puke. Each and every one of them was coated to the knee.
“Well, Victer had gone to the alley to do the blast but before he reached their it had already taken place. Perhaps done by someone he was scared of.” Octavius explained.
“Why are you telling this?” Vajara said while trying to clean herself with parchment.
“So that you both don’t kill me for ruining your clothes. The paste won’t go away ever.” Octavius said.
“Octo!” They both yelled.
After returning to the tavern, Sir Reginald and Octavius took a bath and changed into a set of new and better-smelling cloths.
Durm had gone to the Temple of Healing and had returned to the manor just to quickly seek sanctuary in his room.
Durm’s room was on the highest floor of the manor, an attic was divided into a storage and a bedroom by a claustrophobic gallery. The room had a bed, a side table, a bookshelf, a desk, a rug, one closet, one almirah and a potted plant. It was all arranged in a tiny space but looked cosy and homely. The storage was to be filled with barrels of wine, kegs of whiskey and bottles of tequila. All quite near to Durm for personal parties late at night. The parties were intended to celebrate victory but today is lessened the loss.
Later at night, Everybody else joined Durm or whatever looked like him after drinking half a barrel of wine.
“What happened?” Prima asked, her voice full of concern.
“We lost Jenks.” Durm wept loudly.
“What!” Octavius, Reginald and Prima asked in surprise. “She was-was injured in today's blast. The healers said that she tried but die-die...” Durm’s voice was failing him.
Octavius chugged on some alcohol. “This shouldn’t have happened.” he regretfully said.
“We all should have been here. If we would have all been here, Nothing could have happened.” Prima sobbed.
“Guys, No need to blame yourselves. What could we have done? All we can do to provide her soul rest is find and punish the person who did this to her.” Sir Reginald said dryly.
“Isn’t there something we can do now? I had once heard that a person can be resurrected.” Durm asked sorrow-filled.
Ape pondered. “ I too have heard that Captain Molylick had bought three souls for himself. He prevented death for a long time before finally, someone killed him with a divine sword.” She said.
“Well, correct me if I am wrong, but Jenks was a tiefling, right?”
“Well, Yes but how does that matter?” Durm asked.
Octavius ignoring Durm’s question continued, “Tiefling’s are normal people with devil blood flowing through their veins. Her bloodline may be intermingled with one of some devils or one of her forefathers sold her soul or some part of it long before her birth.”
“How does that help?” Sir Reginald asked.
“I am way too drunk to suggest this but there are certain insignia’s which one can draw to call a devil onto the material plane. Devils can be bargained with. They are master negotiators but a smart person may play well enough to have them make a deal in their favour.”
“What is the price?” Sir Reginald said. He was interested.
“A devil wants souls, as every soul that it acquires brings the devil one step closer to its next promotion.”
“If a person wants something from a devil but isn't willing to trade their soul?” Sir Reginald asked.
“The devil might ask the character to perform a service for it instead. Archdevils are also fond of making mortals swear fealty to them. All in all, It is a pretty bad idea and not at all worth trying. A part of me, the one not drunk by the wine and not shutting down in the grief of Jenks is rethinking telling you about all this.”
“Forget all this. I think we should all sleep.” He said climbing down.