A large pavilion tent had been raised in the courtyard of the keep. The stables were cleared out and long sheets of silk were being hung as if to dry. Don’ looked it over in awe. A small fortune was in front of him.
“Ah, Ghanis,” Tovran addressed Felghanis. “I’m glad you have brought your friends. We have found something… odd. Perhaps you can tell what it is?”
The bottle that he showed them was polished iron with a brass stopper. Inlaid in silver were arcane runes and glyphs. It had a faint trace of magic when Kalista cast her spell. Together Fel and Kalista figured out what the Iron Flask did and reported to Lord Mikhail Tovran.
“It’s an Iron Flask. It’s used to summon creatures from other planes into the container. With the right command words one can release them into a service after which they return. This one has a fine crack in it, like it was only ever meant to be used once.”
“Where was it found?”
The guards showed them the base of the path to the Sipran Keep. Don’ checked carefully for depressions in the mud under the snow and he found some. Five sets of boot print at least three of which were people in armour. Again the guards of Vrim were awed with his skills.
It was now that Kalista confessed her encounter with Jonas and Mellevictus.
“I gave them the book,” she said.
“You what?” Felghanis yelled. Then he stamped about cursing in Draconic until Lord Tovran’s face wrinkled in disgust.
“Cease this man’s rantings. They offend my ear,” he ordered the guards.
“Jonas was… friendly. He willingly offered information. There’s a conjunction coming, of the stars and planets, and that’s worsening the winter. It is only in this time that the Fimbulwinter can be brought back and the Church aim to stop that by securing all the books in the Vatican. Under the Saint’s own protection they will be safe.”
“But they’d only need one book to prevent anyone performing the ritual.” It was Donhallan’s stoic logic.
“The only reason to have them all is to perform the ritual,” Felghanis agreed, then frowned. It didn’t bode well when the agreed about the diversion in this very keep.
“Nevertheless, they have the book and when we left I tried to scry its location but it was nowhere in this town. However the third book is here and we must find it. Jonas said there is a portal in the keep that leads to a library and that is where the third book of Fimbulwinter resides.”
Tovran swore them to secrecy and allowed them into the keep.
“Lady Murelle showed me this many years ago. It will not allow you back through for some time so you must be sure you want to pass.”
Everyone went through the shimmering field and on the other side were met with the grisly corpse of Goran. His body cleaved from shoulder to navel.
Felghanis quickly cast Speak with Dead and pulled back Goran’s memories. They moaned and wailed.
“Let me go.”
There was no such mercy. Of the three questions only one bore good fruit. It was Jonas who had the Iron Flask. When the spell ended the sigh of Goran’s mind leaving sent chills down their spines. The dwarves were nervous and kept looking at the portal which would not let them out.
A large shaft let in a soft pink light and in that diffuse glow was a table and three large chairs. All around bookshelves were well-stocked and there must have been a thousand books in that place.
“I didn’t know there were so many books in the world,” Donhallan mused aloud in wonderment.
Bloody tracks led about the shelves but they were so crossed the Don’ couldn’t tell if it was one shelf they stopped at or all of them.
The cornices were in a strange script and whilst the others helped with the tracks Felghanis deciphered them.
Davinus, Lord of Kiltayre across all planes
Page, spine and tome. Wisdom across the ages.
Branner, Marquis of the High Western Fief.
“The book is not here”, Kalista sighed after what seemed like hours of searching.
In the next chamber they found a large statue of a bearded man seated on a large throne. The whole thing was on a dais and the inscription, although in an old form, was legible to all of them.
Davinus, Great-thane of Kiltayre.
Ahead was the last doorway. As Felghanis and Kalista walked through they felt the pull of teleportation magic. Sound still passed through and they were able to reassure Aenir and Kellor enough to follow.
Polished flagstones lined the colonnade on which they now stood. In the centre was a kind of square full of tables and what was like a forest of bookshelves beyond that. Felghanis squealed with delight.
Everyone else looked at him wide-eyed. They’d never heard him make such a noise or look that excited about anything.
“I didn’t think he had it in him,” Aenir mumbled.
A vigorous discussion of higher arcane-physics was being held at one edge of the square. One elf seemed to be holding a kind of impromptu lecture. It was going well until a half-orc began to counter the elf’s points and the others left as they argued.
“Excuse me,” Kalista said to a handsome man.
The man smiled pleasantly and looked up at her. His eyes were purple and his skin had a silver glow about it.
“I’m sorry… but what are you?”
“Quite alright. I am Brannighan and well it’s a bit complicated really. You see my father was an angel and my mother an archon. I suppose that rally makes me free of the heavenly host since I am neither. For that I am ever thankful.”
They talked briefly and Brannighan warily cast a spell, announcing it to everyone, to determine Kalista’s place in ‘the way of things’.
His eyes began to glow blue and he said gravely, but with kindness, “My dear. I am afraid you shouldn’t be here.”
It wasn’t long before Kalista had asked about the Scours. Brannighan had heard that such people were in the library.
“I will look for them if you promise to wait here. Out there, people are much less… civil.”
Kalista nodded like a child. Brannighan had effortlessly cast an Arcane Sight, a tier four spell, that she only just recognised. If he was nervous then she was doubly so.
He had been gone and Kalista had shaken off most of the reverie that had come over her from being in this place and talking with Brannighan. Like Felghanis she thought to read a book that was here. It took her little time to find one and she noted that all her companions had begun to read a volume or three – like Felghanis.
Felghanis was just beginning to concentrate on the text in the Draconic tongue when a gentle voice said, “Excuse me. I couldn’t help but overhear that you are looking for someone. That happens to be my expertise, people and things; finding them that is. Who are you looking for?”
Felghanis answered, “Four men and a woman in armour bearing a quadrant of grey green blue and black. Some have heraldry on it. A red bear rampant on a black field with a gold poleaxe.” He described the complex healdry of the Inquisition Exarcanum that Mellevictus and Frellan wore.
“Why ever would they have those symbols?” The thin man seemed taken aback. “It matters not,” he dismissed it with hand-wave. “They left the library a few hours ago. It was quite odd because not long after it seemed they were followed by two women and two girls. All of them having come from the same private room that you and your friends did.”
That surprised Felghanis, “After; are you sure?”
“Yes, quite. Perhaps we can come to an arrangement for me to find them for you?”
“What would that be?”
“You take this little quartz crystal statue to a tomb in the Iron Teeth Mountains and place it on the bier, there.”
“Why? What will that do?”
The strange man, who had eyes the colour of rust and ruddy-grey-skin drawn taught over a thin frame suddenly stood up. “Never mind. Thank you for your time.”
Felghanis blinked as the man strode quickly through the forest of shelves and was lost from his sight. He picked up the book and went off to find the others to report.
Brannighan approached them all. “I have found where they went. To the Beaming Censer hotel, but they have left through the North Gate. This is bothersome because they may not find their way back to the same place as the one they arrived from.”