Ethan the Blackwing, Day Four

The Melting, 1372 DR

Day 4

The day after the folkmoot at the long house atop the Glister hill, I had arranged to meet with Creighton at the castle. I was certain I had overlooked something in the search for Lord Marbrand’s library. His study was too mundane to support a wizard of his stature. Either the wizard was not a wizard and he had fooled the people of Glister, or worse; he had been able to fool me. This day, I decided, I would get to the bottom of the deception.

When I emerged from my cabin at the Timebered Inn to depart for the castle, both Quentyn and a companion of his, David wanted to come along. Quentyn seemed eager to start looking for evidence of his blood relation to Lord Marbrand, which seemed likely to be in his library. It seemed our goals were united. David had been Quentyn’s companion in the search for Wulfric’s daughter and it seemed the two had a common goal that remained unclear to me at the time. Jago emerged from his cabin moments later and rushed out to meet us on the road to north.

I’ve had little time to observe David while in Glister. The first evening he had been staying at the Timbered Inn. A tall man, wiry strong with a fair face. He is easy to smile and though it’s warm and compassionate, I’m not entirely sure it’s not a sycophant’s smile. A large, barbed chain hangs at his belt and his pace is sure and steady. There’s an economy in his movement that suggests some martial experience, and if I am to believe the tales that came back with the party sent out to rescue Wulfric’s daughter, he is more than capable.

I was happy to see Jago join us, though I have no idea why he would. No doubt a scoundrel, ever since joining meeting him in Melvaunt it’s clear that he has ambition and isn’t without a cultivatable talent for observation. I’ve observed him observing throughout our travels across The Thar, but the folkmoot solidified my suspicion about him. It will be good to have him help in the search for Lord Marbrand’s library.

Arriving at Creighton’s house outside the castle gate, I was greeted somewhat sullenly. It was obvious that he wasn’t too keen on allowing all of us on the castle grounds. Quentyn’s suggestion of moving into the castle was not up for discussion until Quentyn had proved his blood relation. Just listening to the politics of it all gave me a headache. Quentyn tried to appeal to Creighton by suggesting people might take advantage of the transitional period and steal things from the castle. Creighton in turn promised to have Siggis, an aging but experienced soldier, guard the property at night.

Creighton had prepared us all some breakfast. I ate a bit in order to be polite. Having only started travelling recently, I’ve yet to grow accustomed to the radically changing diet from one region to the other. It takes me an painfully long time to grow accustomed to certain food types. Specifically fibrous vegetables like celery and leek and acidic vegetables like onions, tomatos and certain beans. I try to avoid these, eating only small portions until my stomach slowly gets used to them. Eggs, fresh cuts of meat and the occassional boiled potato suits me fine without finding blood in my stool the next day after a bad night of stomach cramps.

Near the end of our breakfast, Lady Ulrikke came galloping up the road with one of her companions we had not seen before. She didn’t bother to introduce her companion, who was wearing the mark of Bane, but informed us she was going out into the wild to make sure the gnolls understood not to return to the Oldmark and stop raiding Glister. It struck me as an odd moment, reflecting upon it now. Why would she inform us of this? We are all newcomers and have nothing to do with the governance of Glister. Is something about to occur and is she preparing an alibi for herself?

Her companion reminded me in more ways than one of David, except where David seems warm, compassionate and open, this man seemed snide, sharp and harsh. Creighton told us his name was Moloch and that he was an ex-Zhentarim agent. What strange bedfellows this town creates. I looked at my new companions and was once again reminded that I had left the comfort, order and civilisation of Cormyr where worship of deviant and dark gods like Bane was strictly forbidden.

David asked Creighton about Lord Marbrand’s investments. It seemed to him that with Lord Marbrand being involved in many, if not all the businesses on the Oldmark, he may have accounts of all of them and possibly this would give us a clue as to who might have access to the many different silver coins that the Gnolls were carrying. It would obviously be someone handling goods that were traded in many regions beyond the Oldmark. Creighton promised to perform a diligent study on all the accounts, moving into a small house on the castle grounds for the duration of that study.

Later it turned out that Creighton used to live in the small house on the castle grounds. I wonder why he moved out.

Arriving at the castle after breakfast, I walked through all that I had found previously, explaining my suspicion of a second study. Lord Marbrand’s body had been laid out in his bed, awaiting his cremation that evening. Seeing his body once again, I realised that he may have been ex-sanguinated by way of magic. More accurately, necromantic magic. A quick reccount of lore, necromantic magics are used by mages, priests, certain undead and extraplanar creatures. He looked very old but was always described by the townsfolk as a vibrant and energetic gentleman. His advanced age might be an effect of whatever left that lingering magical traces in his study.

When Jago found some irregularities with the fireplace upstairs and downstairs, I decided I should trust my natural instincts more in the future. Not just about there having to be a hidden entrance to a library or laboratory, but also about being glad that Jago came along. It turns out the fireplace in the study was rather broad. Downstairs there was another fireplace directly below it, but somewhat misaligned from the fireplace in the study, suggesting that the chimneys ran side by side, disconnected so as not to cause a buildup of smoke in the study when the downstairs fire was going. Enough space was left for a third fireplace, but there was none in the attic above the study. Our conclusion that there must be a basement proved correct when we removed the bookcase standing to the side of the fireplace in the study to reveal a spiraling staircase going down.

The hidden cellar was very large, easily covering the entire size of the castle with thick pillars bearing the weight of the enormous building above it. We found hundreds of books, spanning a myriad of subjects — including a large section of spellbooks and books on magical theory. Cabinets filled with spell components and other arcane curiosities lined the walls side by side with the bookcases. There were storage chests filled with enough supplies, components, paper, ink and many other necessities to start a small but respectable mage’s college. Such wealth!

We decided to look for draconic script and see if we could make sense of the “that which is not dead…” poetry I had found in Lord Marbrand’s mouth. Quentyn, in the meantime, decided to do his own research into Lord Marbrand’s lineage.

I was deep in study when Creighton came to get me from the cellar. I believe his surprise and amazement at the hidden cellar was not feigned. He seemed to need a minute to comprehend the deception before telling it was time to depart for the Thar. Somewhat annoyed to discontinue my studies, I knew if I was going to stay in Glister and be accepted — and with the find of this trove of arcane potential, the former was certain and the latter was desirable — I was going to have to continue down the path that was allowed to walk by acting as one of the witnesses to the unsealing of Lord Marbrand’s testament.

On the ridge overlooking the Shadowed Lake, we found long tables filled with a king’s feast. Giant boars were roasting over large fires and there was food aplenty for all townsfolk that made the journey to come and say goodbye to the old wizard. Many people showed up and the chairs brought to seat everyone during the service soon ran out. The pyre had been well constructed and very tall. When the old wizard was brought out and laid upon the tower of wood, many villagers gasped and rumours started spreading quickly. I was right, the man did look much older and more withered than most people had expected.

I recognised a threat here. The rumours that spread were all that the old wizard was somehow harmed by magic. I know for a fact that this is not the case, knowing not I but another mage killed Lord Marbrand, but the townsfolk believe I am the only mage on the Oldmark. I have to tread carefully, for it’s easily to mistake Quentyn for an usurper and me for his willing accomplice.

The service was sober and solemn. Creighton said a few words that seemed to move most of the townsfolk. It was obvious that Lord Marbrand, now part of the Weave and dwelling forever with the Mother of all Magic in her home of Dweomerheart, was well loved and well respected. Afterwards, the feast was a joyous one. People recounted stories of the old wizard. Many of the stories involved him coming to the aid of the townsfolk using his magic in defense of Glister, or speaking at the many folksmoots they’ve held. I was somewhat concerned when Blackwing, whom I had sent out to fly around the Thar in search for threats, found and showed me three white robed and cowled figures on the edge overlooking the Shadowed Lake, keeping about a mile distance from the cremation. They headed west along the edge of the Thar before the people of Glister departed. Who are these people? Were they there to spy or to pay their last respects?

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