Mystic-Scholar writes "
this? Sunrise! Goodness me! Have we been talking all night?
(Chuckles) You're right, dear girl . . . we'll blame it on the cider!
And Mrs. Hildegard's exquisite muffins of course! Hmm? Yes, indeed
it is! The same Brother Nortoi! Still there. Did I tell you that I
helped him out when I was searching for . . .
There was quite a bit of activity at
the shrine. Eileen and Bubbagump had obviously gotten there well
before us and with two wagons full of supplies! The fifty orbs
had purchased more than I anticipated.
One wagon was filled with split rail
fencing and lumber, while the other contained shovels, hoes, a plow,
a wheel barrel, hammers, nails, rope and other sundries; such as seed
for planting. There were gutter materials and a barrel for collecting
rain-water as well. There were also about twenty people assisting
with the unloading.
Bubbagump ran up to us. “Look
Magician! Do you see?” The halfling was almost beside himself with
“Yes, I see.”
Eileen came up. “We purchased
everything we could think of, but they will still need more. We have
the fencing materials, roofing materials and enough lumber for
repairs and a small barn for 'Simon.'”
“Simon?” I asked.
“Yes,” Eileen smiled broadly.
“Bubbagump has named the donkey.”
“Wolfsire!” Bubbagump grabbed the
barbarian's hand. “Come help us unload the wagon!” The two
hurried off to join the crowd.
“Quite a work party,” I said.
“Yes,” Eileen replied. “Brother
Nortoi is quite popular with the people here.”
“Continue helping him with his
healing and you'll end up being very popular around here too,” I
“Well, I will continue to do what I
can to assist,” she answered. “But such work is not the primary
calling of the Clerics of Istus. Now, come inside, there's
refreshment and you can tell me more of what you've learned.”
We entered the little home and
adjourned to Brother Nortoi's small kitchen area. There was a pitcher
of cool, refreshing fruit juice on the table, along with bread and
cheeses. We sat and helped ourselves to some of the golden liquid.
“When do we leave?” asked Eileen.
“Not for a day, or two,” I
replied. “We still have some shopping to do. The Star Cairn we seek
is some 45 miles from here and will take most of two days to reach.
We will need horses and camping gear, but you're already familiar
with such matters.”
“Yes, of course,” she agreed.
“Wolfsire and I have been on the road for over two years now.
However, there is another matter that needs to be tended to.”
“What's that?” I asked.
“Brother Nortoi does not possess the
deed to this property,” she said.
“Well, now, that could
present a small problem,” I agreed. “Has there been trouble over
“There is a shady character
hereabouts that wants this piece of property for himself.” Brother
Nortoi entered the room.
“Well, that's usually how the
trouble starts, ” I said. “And just what is the situation with
“A member of my congregation – a
hair-foot halfling named Bimbo Towhead – owned this parcel,”
Brother Nortoi explained. “He made out a Will and left the property
to the Church, for the construction of a Shrine. I'm afraid that I've
been procrastinating about getting it all properly notarized.”
“That's never a good thing, Brother
Nortoi,” I replied. “What is this other individual's claim?”
“Abandonment,” Nortoi answered.
“Milt Skyler claims that Bimbo didn't die, but simply disappeared
and left the property abandoned.”
“Surely the death certificate will
disprove that,” I replied.
“Of course!” Eileen cried.
“Well, you see,” Nortoi cleared
his throat. “There is no death certificate.”
“What?” I was surprised. “How
can there be no death certificate?”
“Because no one reported the death,
it seems,” Nortoi answered.
“You didn't report the death?” I
was incredulous. “How could you expect to inherit the property if
no one reported the death?”
“That is not the responsibility of
the Church,” he replied. “The next of kin is responsible for
that. Regrettably, they were somewhat disgruntled by the fact that
Bimbo left the property to the Church, rather than themselves. The
family does not serve 'The Cudgel,' so it seems that, after the
services, they just went straight home – to Dyvers – without
filing any reports.”
“I can guess the rest,” I
continued. “This Skyler fellow is attempting to pay the back taxes
on this property and thereby gain ownership.”
“That is his plan,” Nortoi
“This was all badly mishandled,” I
looked at Brother Nortoi. “Given the composition and position of
the Nightwatchmen you, of all people, should know how strictly
Greyhawk's laws are enforced.” I sighed. “Well, the first thing
we have to do is prove that this Bimbo Towhead is actually dead and
thus establish that the property is not and was not abandoned,” I
informed them. “Then we have to show that the property was willed
to the Church of St. Cuthbert, thus establishing that no back taxes
are owed, since the Church is tax exempt.”
“Praise Istus,” said Eileen. “At
least you know what to do! Now we can begin setting matters
I held up my hand. “Knowing where to
start is one thing. But getting it done? That is entirely another.
Like any other government, the City of Greyhawk likes having money in
its coffers. Skyler is offering money, the Church of St. Cuthbert is
“Are you saying that they will not
honor the Will?” asked Eileen.
“No, not necessarily,” I replied.
“I'm just saying it's not that simple. You see, in the City of
Greyhawk, only a citizen can own property. Now, this Bimbo Towhead
was obviously a citizen, or he wouldn't have owned the land to begin
with. But his immediate family and heirs are from Dyvers, so they
would not have been allowed to keep the inheritance. They would have
been forced to sell the land to a citizen of Greyhawk, someone just
like this Skyler.”
I held up my hand again, forestalling
another outburst. “Now the Church of St. Cuthbert can be
deeded the land. Our problem lies in demonstrating that Bimbo has
died and that he did leave the property to the Church.”
“I do have the Will,” Brother
“And that will prove that he left
the property to the Church,” I admitted, but held up a finger in
admonishment. “Provided that it was properly signed and notarized.”
“It was,” he assured me.
“Was it?” I asked. “Please tell
me that it wasn't you that notarized the Will?”
“I did not,” he said. “Although
I did sign the document as Witness. The Will was duly notarized by
Louis Jerlane, a Cleric of Zilchus.”
“A Will is a legal document,” I
admitted. “The Clerics of Zilchus are known for overseeing business
transactions and while a Will might qualify as 'business,' it would
have been better for a Guild Lawyer to have notarized the Will. The
methods of Zilchus are sometimes questionable, but his Clerics are
regularly used for such purposes. Perhaps it will not be so bad. Tell
me, is Brother Jerlane still in the city?”
“Yes,” Nortoi replied. “He
resides at the Temple, on Temple Row, in the Garden Quarter.”
“Very good,” I was somewhat
relieved. “We will have need of him. We'll stop by there and speak
with him, after we've gone to the Embalmers' and Grave Diggers'
Guildhall.” I stood. “Our first task to have Bimbo Towhead
declared legally dead.”
Eileen agreed to accompany me while
Wolfsire and Bubbagump continued assisting in the work at the shrine.
I didn't know where the Embalmers' Guild might be found, but I was
certain it wouldn't be in the High or Garden Quarters, so we headed
for the Cargo Gate. The sergeant at the gate recognized me and waved
After explaining our need, he directed
me to the establishment of Gobayuik's Undertakers on Water Street. It
seem that a half-orc by the name of Selczek Gobayuik owned the place
and was also the Guildmaster of the Embalmers' and Grave Diggers'
Guild. Eileen and I soon found the place, it was a bit run-down and
in bad need of painting. Upon entering, we were almost overwhelmed by
the reek of embalming fluid.
“Don't get many of your kind in
here,” a guttural voice said. “What do you want?” We saw the
half-orc standing behind a counter.
“We need a death certificate,” I
“Who died?” Selczek asked, eying
“A halfling by the name of Bimbo
Towhead,” I replied.
“I'll need to see the Incident
Report, Form I-9a, from the City Watch,” he intoned.
“Uh, a form what?” I asked.
“Form I-9a,” he repeated. “The
Incident Report the Watch filled out when they conducted their
investigation of the death.”
I looked at Eileen, who shrugged. “I
don't think we have one of those,” I replied.
“What? You mean to say that the
Watch didn't issue you an Incident Report, Form I-9a, when they
investigated the death?” he asked.
“I do not believe that there was an
investigation,” I answered.
“No investigation!?” Selczek was
incredulous. “You haven't report the death!?”
“Apparently the family left the city
without doing so,” I offered.
“What do you mean 'left the city'?”
he demanded. “Was they runnin' away? Was there foul play? Murder
“No, no,” I assured him. “They
were angry that the deceased did not leave them his property, so they
returned home to Dyvers, after the burial.”
“What!?” Selczek roared, slamming
his hands down upon the counter top. “Burial!? What do you
mean 'burial'!? The body's already been buried!? And who said
you could do that!?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “He
was dead, so he was buried.”
“You can't bury him without the
Guild!” the half-orc cried. “You need a license! First you
tell me that no one reported the death to the Watch and now you say
he was buried without the Guild! And just who's been paying the
Property Taxes to the Greyhawk Revenue Service then!? This is
outrageous! Lawbreakers, that's what you are!” He was shaking his
fist at us.
“How do you know he was buried
without the Guild?” I asked.
“Because if he had been, you'd have
a I-9a and a Form E71-c!” he cried.
“What's Form E71-c?” I asked.
“A Death Certificate!” he
roared. “There's been some shady goings on around here! This entire
matter is going to be thoroughly investigated, I can promise you
that! And don't think I don't know what you're up to! A wizard and a
priest!? You're trying to cut in on the Guild's business! Well, we'll
just see about that! I'll see you in court!”
With that declaration, Selczek turned
and stormed off into the back of his shop. I turned and looked at
“Perhaps we should return to the
Cargo Gate and find out from that sergeant who we're supposed to
report this to,” I said.
She nodded in agreement and off we
went. Upon arriving there, I explained the situation to the sergeant
“Well, now,” he rubbed his chin.
“You do have yourself a bit of a situation, don't you?”
“I guess so,” I replied. “It
would seem that someone really messed this up.”
“Indeed, they did,” he agreed.
“This is a very serious matter, Magician. You should take
yourselves over to the Foreign Quarter Watch Station, over on
Horseshoe Road. You'll find it at the junction of Fortune Street.
Gobayuik's probably there already, lodging a complaint. My name's
McGuffey, just tell the sergeant on duty there that I sent you.”
We thanked him and headed for the
Watch station. As predicted, Selczek Gobayuik was already there and
raising the Nine Hells. He pointed at us as we walked in the door,
already hurling his accusations.
“There are the lawbreakers!” he
“See here!” said the sergeant on
duty. “What's this business about you burying people without a
Watch investigation, or a burial license!?”
“I haven't buried anyone,” I
“Here then, how come you told
Selczek that you did?” he demanded.
“I believe a misunderstanding has
occurred,” I said.
“Misunderstanding my arse!” the
half-orc bellowed. “I heard you plain as day!”
“Hold on there, Selczek!” the
sergeant cried. “I'm doing the questioning here! You!” He pointed
at me. “You best have an explanation for all this!”
“First, allow me to introduce
myself,” I said. “I am the apprentice of the Archmage Maldin.”
Once again my Master's name seemed to help, as the sergeant calmed
considerably, but I doubted anything would calm the half-orc.
“Sergeant McGuffey said I should report here. I am merely acting as
an envoy for Brother Nicholi Nortoi, Minister of the Shrine of St.
Cuthbert in Shacktown. I . . .”
“Damn priest!” Selczek spit. “I
knew there'd be a damnable priest involved! Those bastards are always
meddling . . .”
“And what is wrong with priests?”
Eileen interjected, her temper aroused.
“Wrong!?” cried Selczek. “I'll
tell you what's wrong, you friggin' little . . . !”
“Selczek! I'll have none of that!”
cried the sergeant, pounding a gavel on his desk. “I'll not have
arguments over religious differences in here! Keep to the matter at
hand! You, young sir, sit here.” He offered me a chair and I sat.
“Why don't you start at the beginning and tell me everything.”
So, starting at what I knew to be the
beginning, I explain the situation to him.
“Well, now, this Skyler fella just
might have a claim!” the sergeant answered.
“But the legal owner 'Willed' the
property to St. Cuthbert!” insisted Eileen.
“To the Abyss with that little piss
pot!” roared Selczek.
“Selczek!” screamed the sergeant.
“Don't make me throw your fat, hoary arse in a cell! Keep your damn
The two glared at each other for a
moment and I could tell that they were not normally friendly with
each other and had clashed before now.
“Now then, he might well have done
that, Miss,” admitted the sergeant, settling back down. “But
things weren't handled proper like and that means something to the
authorities! An investigation will certainly have to be held and all
involved will have to be interviewed and questioned. I'll have to
take a patrol down to Shacktown and speak with this Brother Nortoi
and his people there. Then we'll have to send for this fellow
Towhead's family in Dyvers. Yes, this is going to be one big mess!”
He stood and looked at me. “Magician, I will ask you and your lady
friend to go to the Temple of Zilchus and ask this cleric, Louis
Jerlane, to join us. I'll also ask you to stop by the Temple of Pelor
and have one of their clerics join us as well.” He looked at the
half-orc. “And you might as well come along too, Selczek, just so
you can see that everything is done proper . . . but, by the gods,
you had best keep quiet!” He slammed his gavel down once more.
“I'm not the one who broke the law
here!” the half-orc shouted.
I forestalled another outburst by
Eileen, taking her by the arm. “We're on our
Once outside, I urged her down
Horseshoe Road. “We need to head for the Temple of Zilchus,” I
informed her. “Arguing with that blockhead isn't going to help
“True enough,” Eileen said, as we
So the two of us started off to what
many in the city considered the Temple District, located in the
“It seems we have inherited a
singular problem,” Eileen said.
“Well that's putting it mildly,” I
agreed. “From the sound of things, it's going to take some time to
clear this up. It's one hundred, fifty miles to Dyvers. Add to that
the fact that the family may have to be coerced into returning to
give testimony . . . if they can be. Dyvers and Greyhawk do not enjoy
the best of relationships, so the authorities in Dyvers will probably
be unwilling to force the family to return here. This could take
weeks and I don't know if we can hang around that long.”
“Brother Nortoi is a kindly man and
cares greatly for his parishioners,” Eileen began. “But I do not
believe that he is capable of handling this type of situation.”
“Probably not,” I agreed. “But
we have our own mission to complete, remember?”
“But I thought you said time was no
longer a factor?” Eileen retorted.
“That's true,” I admitted. “But
only to a point. We have a couple of days, but not a couple of weeks.
We'll see what we can accomplish in that time period.”
“Tell me, Magician,” Eileen
changed the subject, slightly. “I understand the need for Brother
Jerlane, but why a priest of Pelor?”
“Probably as a witness,” I
replied. “You met Constable Derider Fanshen. Well, she happens to
be a high ranking Cleric of Pelor, as well as Constable of the City
Watch. No doubt the Watch calls upon the Temple of Pelor to witness
all such legal matters.”
We followed Horseshoe Road turning
right onto Hardcobbles Way and followed it to the Sage's Guildhall.
“Why do we stop here?” asked
“To see my friend, Mortellan,” I
replied. “He's a Guild Lawyer, remember?”
Eileen beamed. “Of course! He can
The Porter remembered me and ushered
me in to Mortellan.
“Back again so soon?” Mortellan
I introduced him to Eileen and he
naturally turned on the charm.
(That damn elf can be smooth when he
wants to be, let me tell you! Many a lass has been won over by his
charms! What? No, I'm not going to introduce you to him! You damn
wannabe nymph! Keep your mind on your studies! Focus! Now, where was
I? Oh yes!)
Mortellan called for three glasses of
wine and I proceeded to explain our present predicament to him. He
“Well, Brother Nortoi has certainly
'stepped in it,' as they say,” he said. “This matter should have
been handled right away and he should have seen to it personally.”
“Surely he did nothing illegal?”
“Oh no,” Mortellan assured her.
“Nothing illegal, but then, the law isn't the problem here.”
“So, what is the problem?” I
Mortellan chuckled. “I should have
thought that this morning's incident had showed you that, young one.
It's the bureaucrats! Everything must be done 'just so,' or there's
the hells to pay! Do not attempt to do 'step two' without having
completed 'step one.' You will regret it.”
“I see,” I acknowledged.
“I'm sure you do,” Mortellan said.
“And don't underestimate Selczek Gobayuik, he is not simply a
disgruntled merchant, he is a Guildmaster. His Guild holds a
legitimate monopoly on the disposal of all deceased persons within
the City and its immediate environs, which includes Shacktown. His
Guild also maintains all civic cemeteries and burial grounds within
Greyhawk as well. A person is not legally dead until his Guild
provides a death certificate – Form E71-c – bearing the
Embalmers' and Gravediggers' Guild Seal, meaning that without form
E71-c, the person in question – dead or not – and his family are
still responsible for paying any City taxes outstanding, as well as
any dues owed to any Guild to which the departed may have belong to.”
“All of this, just to bury a dead
person?” asked Eileen, incredulous.
“Oh, there's more!” Mortellan
laughed. “Not only has someone broken the rules of Selczek's Guild,
but the rules of the Watch, the rules of the Department of Estate
Dispensations, the rules of the Department of Property Registry –
both of those are at City Hall, by the way – and the rules of the
Greyhawk Revenue Service too!”
“Istus preserve us!” Eileen
“Well, her help certainly wouldn't
hurt us,” Mortellan chuckled. “And if you think that Selczek
Gobayuik is a pain in the arse, wait until you meet Goldreddi
Bakkanin – a three hundred and fourteen year old dwarf and
the Inspector of Taxes! Yes, you're in for a real treat there!”
Mortellan laughed even harder at that jibe. “His job – and
his one and only 'love' – is to insure that Greyhawk's coffers stay
full. He's quite adroit at doing that.”
“So, the Church of St. Cuthbert
being tax exempt . . . “ I began.
“Is not going to stop Goldreddi
Bakkanin from collecting any back taxes owed,” Mortellan finished.
“Still, the good news is that I do not see where any of
Greyhawk's laws have been broken, so we should be able to get
the whole thing worked out . . . eventually.”
“Eventually,” Eileen repeated.
“What exactly does that mean?”
“It means that the four of you need
to proceed to the Cairn Hills,” Mortellan said. “I'll take care
of things here. In fact, I probably won't be finished before you get
back!” He laughed loudly. “Now, go and gather the priests you
were sent for and I'll meet you in Shacktown.”
Eileen and I took our leave of
Mortellan and proceeded with our assignment. We turned right out of
the door, walking to the Processional, where we turned left, passing
through the Garden Gate and continuing on through the High Market and
turning right onto High Street. The Temple of Zilchus occupied its
own plot of ground with High Street on the north and Temple Row
forming a horseshoe, encircling the Temple itself. The main entrance
was to be found on High Street.
The Temple of Zilchus is squat pyramid
of brown stone, deceptively plain and simple beside the other Temples
found here, but the interior leaves no doubt that Zilchus is anything
but humble and modest. Crystal chandeliers, silver and gold statues
and ornaments, platinum candlestick holders and plush furnishings
lined the walls and adorned the ceiling of a large, square room with
reflective marble floors, with large black columns arranged in a
square at the center of the room. Large doors are to be found in each
of the rooms walls.
We were greeted at the door and shown
into a small sitting room – as garishly decorated as the rest of
the building – where we waited for Brother Jerlane. He proved to be
a short, rotund man, as flashily dressed as the Temple. But what else
can one expect of a servant of 'the Money Counter?' After the
introductions, I explained the situation to him.
“I feared something like this would
happen,” Jerlane began. “I told them both they should register
the Will with the Department of Estate Dispensations, but they were
“The Watch would like for you to be
present during their interviews in Shacktown,” I told him
“Yes. I'm sure they would,” he
agreed. “We who serve Zilchus are familiar with such things. Of
course, I can only attest to the veracity of the Will, I was not
witness to the halfling's death.”
Traveling west on High Street, we
turned left down The Path of the Sun and stopped at the Temple of
Pelor. This grand edifice is over a century old and is – outwardly
– in some need of minor repairs. The interior, however, is hung
with golden drapery, bright and new, symbolizing the goodness of 'the
Sun Father.' High Priestess Sarana, herself, spoke with us and was
happy to supply us with a young priestess -- Shandra by name -- to witness the proceedings.
“Derider has spoken to me about you,
young man,” Mistress Sarana said to me. “She tells me you're one
to keep my eyes upon.”
I didn't know how to reply to that,
nor even whether or not it was a good thing, so we took our leave of
her Eminence and continued on our way.
The four of us made our way through
the High Market and proceeded up Wharf Road and through Wharf Gate
and soon found ourselves back at the Shrine of St. Cuthbert in
Shacktown. The place was in a complete uproar and Selczek Gobayuik
seemed to be at the center of it. He was there with several of his
Guild members. Thankfully, order was quickly restored with the
arrival of Mortellan, who brought a companion with him; Derider
Fanshen, Constable of Greyhawk.
Selczek headed straight for her.
“Constable! It's about time . . . !”
“Silence!” Fanshen bellowed. She
waved her hand and the squad of men she had brought with her fanned
out to disperse the gathering crowd. “ Gobayuik! You and your men
will stand over there!” She pointed to a spot. “And if you
attempt to interfere with my investigation in any way, I'll
throw you and your men under the jail! Is that clear? I
will tolerate no interruptions!”
The half-orc and his men grumbled
under their breathes, but made no further outburst. Fanshen
approached me and I placed my hand upon my heart and bowed.
“Well, well, well,” Fanshen began.
“Who do we have here? You seem to have your finger stuck into many
pies, young man.”
I stood upright and looked her in the
eyes. “So it would seem, Constable.” I couldn't help myself, I
smiled. Derider Fanshen burst out laughing.
“After you left,” Mortellan
explained. “I remembered that you had met the Constable and that
you had made some small impression upon her, so I thought she might
be willing to help.”
“Your solicitor found me and filled
me in on the situation as we walked here,” Fanshen explained. “Of
course, I do not usually involved myself
in such trivial matters, but when Master Mortellan told me you were
at the center of it, I just had to come down and see for myself.”
She smiled at me and I knew that I
hadn't gotten myself onto her 'bad side,' as they say.
“You have other affairs you need to
attend to,” she continued. “Affairs of which I am very much
interested, so I will do what I can to facilitate matters here. I
seriously doubt that Brother Nortoi has committed 'murder' to gain
this tiny parcel – in spite of Selczek's bellowing – so he'll
have no trouble with the Watch. As for Selczek's Guild complaint,
gold will smooth the way.” She leaned forward. “So you'd better
get yourselves to the Cairn Hills and acquire some more.” She threw
back her head and laughed loudly.
“Well, we have some . . .” I
began, as I reached for my pouch.
She held up her hand, forestalling me.
“My word will be sufficient for him for now, though he will expect
payment upon your return. Besides, you need your present funds for
horses, gear and supplies. Now get going. Come and see me when you
We took our leave of the Constable and
Mortellan, gathered up Wolfsire and Bubbagump, then said goodbye to
Brother Nortoi, after introducing him to his 'solicitor' –
Mortellan. Wolfsire and Bubbagump were hesitant to leave.
“I don't like that half-orc!”
“Yeah,” Bubbagump agreed. “He
was threatening Brother Nortoi!”
“Brother Nortoi will be fine,” I
assured them. “He has Irontusk to keep Selczek at bay. And
Mortellan is a Guild Lawyer, remember? Mortellan will handle the
bureaucrats and Constable Fanshen has promised to help. He'll be
“Yes,” Eileen agreed. “We need
to return our attention to the problem in the Cairn Hills.”
I must admit that I was growing just a
little apprehensive. Everyone seemed in a hurry for us to find out
what was going on in the Cairn Hills. That Theldrat Meldorp's key was
magical was obvious, but a magical key would not cause such keen
interest in my adventure. I knew that it all centered around the
stolen book . . . Zagig's book.
And what Veltargo might be doing with