Mystic-Scholar writes "
I never thought the tale would be so long in the telling! Mrs. Hildegard should
be in any moment . . . Ooo! Sausages and biscuits! My, but you are a wonder,
Mrs. Hildegard! And will you smell that milk gravy! It'll be good to break our
fast while I continue my tale of . . .
That Infamous Key
re-entered the City through the Wharf Gate and passed down Wharf Road and into
the High Market. It was necessary for me to herd my friends through this area;
as I've mentioned before, the eyes and nose are easily distracted here,
especially to those not used to the City's hustle and bustle.
proceed onto the Processional, heading southward, and passing through the
Garden Gate and over the Millstream, finally turning left onto Craftsman's Way,
just before the Petite Bazaar. I believe I may have mentioned that Craftsman's
Way forks and curves around to the right, well we stayed left and entered onto
Castle Street, heading straight for Eridok's Expeditious Provisions.
is an alley next to Eridok's, which leads to his smithy. Anything can be
purchased at Eridok's, including tack, though the horses are kept at the Merchants'
and Traders' Guild Livery, to the south of the city. For bulkier items,
master Eridok keeps a large warehouse in the Wharf District, on Forecastle
Lane, near the junction of The Dockway and Riverside Road.
we entered the shop, I could see several of Eridok's assistants helping
customers, but not Eridok. As I approached the counter, however, he entered
through a rear door. An Oeridian of moderate height, standing about an inch shy
of six feet and weighing about two hundred pounds, Eridok had brown hair and
blue eyes, a scar upon his right cheek, two fingers missing from his left hand
and he walked with a slight limp.
had been quite the adventurer in his youth. Now of middle age, he had set
himself up in this shop, supplying the needs of the next generation of
adventurers. He had some excellent connections in both the City Watch and the
Mercenaries Guildhall; a word from him could open doors. But he seldom did that
sort of thing, as he's a firm believer in the need of young adventurers
“pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps!” I've heard him say it more
waved me over. “Well lad!” he boomed. “Your Master tells me you're off to
adventure! Ah, nothing like it lad! Nothing at all! And it's about time too!
All that book learnin' ain't going to get it done, lad!” He held up his hands.
“Now, I'm not saying that there's anythin' wrong with schoolin'! Not at all! A
young man needs to know certain things, 'tis true. But there's nothing like the
experience, lad. Nothing at all!”
do not doubt your wisdom, master Eridok,” I replied.
Maldin has told me something of what you're about,” he confided. “And I've
already begun putting together a package for you. It'll be ready tomorrow
afternoon. Now, I'm supplying everything you and your friends will need,
including the horses. Of course, you can't afford to buy the horses just now,
so I'm renting them to you. Decent enough animals, but not the very best . . .
just in case I don't get them back, you understand.”
will not fail to return your horses, master Eridok,” Eileen resolutely assured
of Istus pride themselves on their honesty and Eileen is not an exception to
that rule. She takes affront anytime her honesty is questioned.)
lass, don't you go making promises you might not be able to keep,” Eridok
replied, holding up his hand to forestall a rebuttal. “I do not know you, but I
know something of your Order and I know the young Magician. What's more, I know
his Master. I'm not talking about 'stealing,' I'm talking about them gettin'
eaten, or just plain killed. What do you think, lass? That you're goin' on a picnic?”
went over the list of gear with us and explained one or two items we were
unfamiliar with. It was an hour before closing time and his staff wouldn't be
finished getting everything together until sometime the next day.
we return to the Green Dragon?” I asked, as we stepped outside.
go check on Brother Nortoi!” said Bubbagump.
agreed Wolfsire. “I want to make sure that everything's going okay over there.”
agreed and so, in spite of the waning daylight, we headed for Shacktown. By the
time we arrived it had grown dark and there was no one about. So we knocked on
the door of the little house and Solnia answered.
everybody!” she cried. “Come in! Everything's going to be alright! Come in and
Brother Nortoi can tell you about it!”
entered the little dining area and found Brother Nortoi there with Irontusk as
they were about to eat. The smell of food reminded me of how hungry I was.
you join us?” asked Brother Nortoi.
held up my hand. “No, thank you.” I didn't want to be walking the streets in
the early hours of the morning. “Our meals come with our room, so we won't
trouble you. We just stopped by – briefly – to see how things went.”
went well,” Brother Nortoi informed us. “Constable Fanshen handled matters
herself and Mortellan was a lot of help. Solnia knew Bimbo – as did some others
– and could testify as to his death. We also had John Materon give testimony.
He had heard about the disturbance and came down. John's an herbalist with the Guild
of Apothecaries and Herbalists and had been supplying Bimbo with his
remedies. So Constable Fanshen was convinced that Bimbo is dead and had died of
natural causes. Milt Skyler was informed that the property was not abandoned
and therefore he could not present any claim. Needless to say, he was not happy
about that, not one little bit.”
very good,” I said. “What about Selczek Gobayuik?”
Fanshen set him straight too,” Brother Nortoi replied. “She had the sergeant
give me the Incident Report, Form I-9a, which she also showed to Gobayuik.” He
handed it to me. “Gobayuik says you can stop by his shop in the morning to pick
up the Death Certificate. Mortellan had to sign off on the Will. It seems that
the Lawyers' and Scribes' Guild must also sign the Will, or else issue a
Form EW222-3b stating that there is no Will. Mortellan 'postdated' his
signature – whatever that means – so that the Will can be registered and the
title changed over.”
means that he's pretending to have witnessed Bimbo Towhead's signing of the
Will,” I explained, keeping it simple. “That makes everything legal.”
Brother Nortoi continued. “Now all you have to do is go and register the Will
and Deed in the morning!”
Nortoi, we have pressing business in the Cairn Hills and need to be moving on.”
I looked around at my friends, who were returning my look with unhappy faces.
“Well, our gear won't be ready until the afternoon,” I conceded. “I suppose I
can take care of this for you . . . first thing in the morning.” My companions
were suddenly smiling. “But then we must be off.” To which they all nodded
that matter decided, we said our good-nights and headed for the Green Dragon. I
couldn't remember the last time I had done so much walking; I was ready for
some food and a bed. Fortunately, despite the hour, our passage to the Green
Dragon was uneventful.
* * *
next morning – after breaking our fast – the four of us returned to Gobayuik's
Undertakers to pick-up the Death Certificate.
said a surly Selczek, tossing a piece of paper onto the counter-top. “Form
E71-c. Of course, as Constable Fanshen probably pointed out to you, there's a
fine for not having handled this matter in the proper manner!”
did mention something about that,” I admitted. “Though she never told me how
standard fee and the fine come to fifty orbs,” Selczek replied, chin
thrust forward, waiting for me to argue the amount.
disappointed him by counting out the coins onto the counter. Gobayuik let out a
satisfied grunt. “There you are,” I said. “Fifty gold orbs. Now, since
you seem to know of such things, can you tell me where we need to go to
register the deed?”
Courts of Justice, in the Garden Quarter,” Gobayuik replied.
the half-orc, we took our leave of him. We headed north on Water Street, which
then curved to the east and turned right onto The Strip, then we turned left
onto Horseshoe Road and followed it to the Processional. We headed north on the
Processional, through the Garden Gate – the guards were now so familiar with me
they just waved us on – through the High Market, then right on High Street to
the doors of the Courts of Justice.
was a guard stationed just outside the door. He stopped us. “State your
here to register the change of ownership of a piece of property in Shacktown,”
I replied. “For the Church of St. Cuthbert.”
pointed to Eileen. “I can see she's a cleric, but she's no Cuthbertine.”
serve the 'Lady of Our Fate,'” Eileen replied. “And I can speak for myself . .
. when I'm spoken to.”
lady of . . . what?” asked the now perplexed guard.
Fate!'” Eileen raised her voice.
means Istus,” I interjected.
why didn't she say so!” demanded the guard.
did!” Eileen retorted.
you . . .” the guard began.
me!” I raised my voice. “When I spoke with constable Fanshen yesterday, she
assured me that I wouldn't have any problems here. Was she wrong?”
Fanshen?” he stammered.
I replied. “We have stated our business and now we'll be about it.”
apologies, young sir,” he offered. “There was another kidnapping last night and
my sergeant has us tightening security around here. But if the Constable sent
you, it must be alright. Please, go right in!”
started forward, and then paused to look at him again. “The Polymorph Squad?”
like it, anyways,” he replied.
nodded thoughtfully as I opened the door.
guard looked in and pointed. “You'll be wantin' those windows right there, sir.
But he ain't here yet, so you'll have to wait.”
nodded my thanks.
one of the windows we could see a sign that read, 'Estate Dispensations'
9:00 – 11:00. The sign above the other one read; 'Property Registry'
1:00 – 3:00. It was about half an hour before Estate Dispensations opened for
business and we decided to wait – as the guard had suggested – to ensure that
we were the first in line.
wasn't long before a bookish looking gnome walked in the building and headed
straight for the door that led to the area behind the two windows. Wolfsire
stood, but I waved him back into his seat.
I learned anything yesterday, it's that bureaucrats are nothing, if not
prompt,” I said. “And to make matters worse, it's a gnome bureaucrat.
Trust me, he's not going to open that window for business one minute before he
has to. We'll wait.”
enough, it was another quarter of an hour before he moved into position and
opened his window. I approached him with Forms I-9a, E71-c and the Will in my hands.
I help you?” he asked.
I replied. “We have a Will here, transferring a piece of property in Shacktown
from one Bimbo Towhead to the Church of St. Cuthbert. I also have an Incident
Report I-9a and . . .”
won't need those,” he interrupted. “Those are for 'Property Registry' to see. I
just need to ascertain that the Will is legal and proper. Let me see it.”
took it from me and read it over carefully. He pulled out a book, from under
his counter and I could tell that he was checking Louis Jerlane's seal. He then
pulled out a second book which, according the cover, contained the signatures
of Guild Lawyers; no doubt checking Mortellan's signature.
everything seems to be in order,” he concluded. “I judge the Will to be a legal
and proper instrument and . . .” He stamped it. “. . . registered. You can take
this to 'Property Registry,' along with your Forms I-9a and E71-c when that
knew it was a stupid thing to do, but I just couldn't help myself. “Can I ask when
that will be?”
above the window,” he curtly replied.
walked away from the window and indicated that my friends should follow me.
obviously nothing we can do until this afternoon,” I said.
we have to leave this afternoon,” said Eileen.
growing to hate these bureaucrats,” Wolfsire said.
the club,” I replied.
what do we do until then?” asked Eileen.
show them the sights!” Bubbagump cried.
we do have some hours to wait,” I replied. “We'll show them the Garden and High
Quarters.” And that's what we did.
started with the Garden Quarter. I pointed out the Wizards' Guildhall and the
Lord Mayor's Palace. Eileen had not yet been to the Temple of Istus – only
having arrived the day before we met – so we stopped by there. The Temple was
located on The Path of the Sun, near to Pelor's Temple. We had passed it the
day before, but had not had time to stop.
Temple of Istus is a relatively large building constructed of gray marble, with
silver veins running through it, conjuring up images of the Web of Fate.
Inside billowing gauze hangs from the ceiling, clouds of incense float about
the room and woodwind music fills the air, along with soft, indiscernible
voices gently chanting.
were met at the door and explained our purpose. Being a Cleric of Istus from
far off Ekbir, Eileen was granted an audience with Mathilde Dessenter, High
Priestess of the Greyhawk Temple. The rest of us were shown into a small side
room and given some refreshments while we waited.
twenty minutes later, Eileen returned and we were once again on our way. We
headed into the High Market to look around. We still had golden orbs and
a will to spend some of them. Like the Low Market, there were performers of
various types that we enjoyed minstrels who wooed and serenaded Eileen – which
seemed to annoy me – and the ever present food vendors whose wares Wolfsire and
Bubbagump simply could not pass up sampling.
about an hour of this, Eileen and I decided to partake of some food ourselves,
before heading back to deal with the city bureaucracy. Eileen expressed an
interest in trying the food at the Gold Dragon Inn.
don't think that would work,” I said. “You and I might be able to get in,
maybe. But Wolfsire and Bubbagump would never get in the door.”
not?” asked Wolfsire, indignantly.
dress,” I replied. “The Gold Dragon is the most pretentious social club in the
Free City. Almost all of the city's 'snobs' can be found there. Also, they
charge exorbitant prices for their plain fare and it isn't even the best food
to be had. Then there's the dress code I alluded to; Eileen and I are barely
presentable – as far as that crowd is concerned – but you and Bubbagump aren't
anywhere near dressed nicely enough to gain entry.”
suppose that this could be considered 'that part of town,'” Eileen said.
do you mean 'considered'?” I laughed. “This is 'that part of town!'”
friends laughed at that as well.
just look for a vendor,” I suggested.
that's what we did, eating as we continued to shop. Soon though, it was time to
for us to return to the Courts. There was a clerk sitting behind the 'Property
Registry' window now and, yes, it was the same gnome. I approached the window.
back,” I said.
the gnome replied. “What do you mean 'back?' Can I help you in some fashion?”
here to get a Deed registered,” I said. “Remember?”
what?” asked the gnome. “How can I remember something that hasn't happened?”
notarized a Will for us just this morning,” I reminded him.
of Wills takes place at the 'Estate Dispensation' window,” he replied. “This is
the 'Property Registry' window. Do you wish to register a property?”
I do,” I answered. I was beginning to get a headache.
is this property?” he inquired.
in Shacktown,” I replied.
you have an address?” he asked.
written on the Will,” I replied, handing him the Will and Forms I-9a and E71-c.
looked at the Will and shoved the forms back at me. “I did not ask for those.”
Then walked off to what could only be rows of filing cabinets. I picked the
forums back up, grumbling under my breath. Wolfsire swore and Eileen sighed
heavily, while Bubbagump was busy trying to see over the counter.
gnome searched among the filing cabinets, found what he was looking for and
opened a draw. After rummaging around for a bit, he pulled out a file and
returned to the counter.
records show that the property in question belongs to one 'Bimbo Towhead,' a Halfling
citizen,” he intoned. “What is your claim to the property?”
former owner is deceased and has left the property to the Church of St.
Cuthbert,” I replied.
what is your proof of this?” he arched an eyebrow.
are holding the Will,” I replied.
I am,” he replied. “And the Will is duly notarized by the Estate Dispensation
department, but where is the proof of Mr. Towhead's death? I need a Form E71-c
bearing the Embalmers' and Gravediggers' Guild seal.”
handed Form E71-c back to him and he looked it over. My headache was growing.
well,” he said. “The Embalmers' and Gravediggers' Guild has declared Mr.
Towhead legally dead. But how did he die? How do we know you didn't murder Mr.
Towhead in order to seize his property? Did the City Watch conduct an
investigation? Where is your Form I-9a?”
handed him Form I-9a, restraining the urge to turn him into a radish. I could
hear Wolfsire growling behind me.
looked over the form. “Well, everything seems to be in order. Mr. Towhead is
indeed dead and the property is now available for re-registration. What is the
name of the party to whom the property will now be registered?”
Church of St. Cuthbert,” I repeated.
well,” the gnome said. “I just need to see your Form LC207-a.”
headache was now pounding behind my right eye. “Form what?” I asked.
LC207-a,” he replied. “Your 'Certificate of Legal Claim' from 'Estate
Dispensation,' of course. You do have your Form LC207-a, do you not?”
never said anything about that, this morning,” I informed him.
would I have said anything about that this morning?” he asked. “You are
confused, young man, this is the 'Property Registry' desk, you need to speak
with the 'Estate Dispensation' desk clerk about Form LC207-a.”
are the 'Estate Dispensation' clerk!” I insisted. “I spoke with you this
he declared. “From 1:00 until 3:00 I am the 'Property Registry' clerk! And you
never spoke to me about Form LC207-a!”
you're both!” I cried. “And I spoke to you about this Will! Look, could
you kindly just step over to the other window – for a moment – and get me a
“Form LC207-a,” he repeated. “And I certainly
cannot 'step over to the other window!' 'Estate Dispensation' is only open from
9:00 until 11:00. You'll have to get your 'Certificate of Legal Claim'
tomorrow, between 9:00 and 11:00 and not before!”
you are both clerks!” I insisted. “Would it kill you to move four feet
to get a piece of paper?”
would be highly improper!” he was aghast. “We have rules, young man! Everything
must be done in its proper order. Do you know what would happen if we bent the
rules for everybody? Chaos! That's what would happen! Complete and utter
chaos! The system functions only because we have Order! An orderly,
systematic procedure that allows for the smooth flow of legal claims and
transactions! And it is not a 'piece of paper'! It is Form LC207-a, a
'Certificate of Legal Claim'! Without which you cannot lay claim to the property
had never really contemplated murder before that time, but I was developing a
seriously murderous attitude towards that damnable gnome. The fact that Eileen
was starting to laugh wasn't helping matters any.)
we need to return tomorrow morning?” I asked, exasperated.
is when 'Estate Dispensation' will be open,” he replied, nonchalantly. “Obtain
your Form LC207-a in the morning and return here with it in the afternoon.”
day wasted, but there was nothing else to do, so we departed. I was really
beginning to hate that gnome and I was growing less fond of Brother Nortoi too
and said so.
did Brother Nortoi do?” demanded Bubbagump.
little one,” Eileen assured him. “The Magician is just venting his frustration
with Greyhawk's bureaucrats.”
like to murder that little bastard, myself!” Wolfsire cried. “It wouldn't have
taken ten minutes for that little . . . !”
I interjected. “But he wasn't going to do it. Mortellan tried to prepare me for
this, but I still wasn't ready for the reality of it. They require everything
to be 'just so' and Bimbo Towhead and Nicholi Nortoi messed it up, leaving us
to deal with the situation.”
you to deal with the situation,” Eileen said. “I'm unfamiliar with
Greyhawk and wouldn't have any idea what to do.”
would I and I live here . . . at least, sometimes,” Bubbagump shrugged. “So
don't go lookin' at me!”
have enough trouble trying to keep track of Cruski laws, so don't look at me
either,” Wolfsire offered.
Magician will take care of it.” Eileen chuckled, patting my shoulder.
I'll take care of it,” I breathed. “Don't worry about it. The gnome's lack of
cooperation is very aggravating and causing a delay in our own schedule and that
is what's frustrating me, more than anything.”
what now?” asked Wolfsire.
spread my arms, palms upwards and then allowed them to drop to my sides. “Find
something to do, I suppose.” I started walking down the Processional. “First,
we'll let Eridok know what's up, that way he can hold our gear until tomorrow.”
* * *
laughed heartily at the day's events. “Well, lad, be glad that you're not in
business for yourself! You just described something that I experience at least
once a week! Your Master too, except that he has old Elbrak to handle these
matters for him. And never fear, you're gear will be here when you're ready for
Eridok, we took our leave.
to now?” asked Eileen.
was all I said.
* * *
Nortoi does appear to be the helpless type, doesn't he?” asked Mortellan.
is a kindly old man that does all he can for his parishioners,” Eileen offered
in the priest's defense.
sure he does,” admitted Mortellan. “What does that have to do with
helplessness? And aren't you just a little too, I don't know, compassionate,
for a cleric of Istus? Mathilde Dessenter always impressed me as being a bit,
would say that the High Priestess is stoic, not cynical,” insisted Eileen. “And
stoicism is not the same as indifference.”
all that talk about 'what will be, will be' . . .” Mortellan began.
me,” I interrupted them. “Do we really have to do this now?”
laughed. “No, I suppose we don't.” He sipped from his wine cup. “I'll take care
of things in the morning. You four need to get to the Cairn Hills. And now, I'd
like a private word with the Magician . . . if you don't mind, dear lady?”
companions departed, to wait for me outside and I was alone with Mortellan.
still have mind wand, don't you?” He asked, unnecessarily.
course,” I answered.
that will help with Veltargo and any other living things you mind find,” he
things?'” I asked.
looked at me. “You're going into a tomb, boy. What do you think you're going to
find in there?”
passed through my mind in rapid sequence. “Apparently, more than I first
not under estimate Veltargo,” Mortellan warned. “I still do not know who he is,
but I sense that he serves Dark Powers. Trust to your staff, its powers are
fire based and will prove useful . . . should you run into Undead.” He
looked hard at me. “And you just might.”
* * *
sat in the common room of the Green Dragon having a slightly early dinner.
exclaimed Wolfsire. “We're leaving the city behind us! I'm much more
comfortable in the open spaces, myself.”
too!” agreed Bubbagump. “I like travelling!”
that declaration, they hoisted their tankards and toasted the journey and
talked about the things they would do once on the road.
seem distracted, Magician,” Eileen said to me. “Is there something wrong?”
I replied. “No, nothing's wrong. Just thinking . . . planning. Giving thought
to what spells I should prepare. That sort of thing.”
yes,” she breathed. “Magicians need to do such things, but I did not think it
required such serious fore-thought on your part. We clerics prepare also, of
course, though not to the same degree. We pray for our spells.”
I know.” I leaned towards her and lowered my voice. “There is something that
you and I need to discuss, but not in front of the others. It's not something
they need to know . . . yet.”
looked at our companions – boisterously discussing our future travels – then
back at me.
course,” she agreed. “Whenever you like.”
I stood. Bubbagump and Wolfsire looked up, I held up my hand. “Stay and enjoy
yourselves, my friends. It will be sometime before we return to such comforts.
Eileen and I merely seek a quitter atmosphere in which we can discuss magical
course!” Wolfsire bellowed, raising his tankard to toast us and giving me a
my head at his obvious implication, Eileen and I departed.
* * *
Eileen breathed. “Are you certain?” In her unease, she reached for my hand.
is certain,” I replied. “But it is a tomb, after all, and those who know such
things are convinced that Veltargo serves a Dark Power, so we should prepare.”
all my travels I have never faced the Undead before,” Eileen voiced her
I asked. “Oh! Yes . . . yes I have.”
was a lie, of course. Oh, I had faced the Undead before, certainly . . .
but with my Master, never alone. Still, Eileen needed to be reassured. Since I
couldn't be sure how Wolfsire and Bubbagump would take it, the last thing I
need was for Eileen to be visibly uneasy as well. Yes, things were about to get