25 Arodus 4718 (Starday) cont.
Before I could say anything further to Cornelius the book bug creature’s “tongue” had lashed out, wrapping around his neck beginning to insert itself into his ear. From behind me, another one of the creatures lashed out at Verity, and from across the room two more hopped to the floor and began to skitter towards us. I stepped up beside Corenlius, and slashed at the one approaching him, smashing the spine of the book killing it in one fell swoop. Felyx shot at the other under the table, stopping the creature with one well placed bolt from Dignity’s Barb. The book bug that already had a hold of Cornelius continued to force its bookmark-like tongue into his ear, jumping from the bookcase and onto his head. Cornelius struggled, attempting to free himself which quite frankly was just him hopping from one foot to another in a panic. Oliver yelled that the creatures were known as Gishvits, or lore roaches, from the plane of Axis. They can store and share memories from other beings. He took Oakheart to the one wrapping itself around Verity, freeing her. I yelled at Cornelius to hold still, and with a well placed swing of my bastard sword, killed the one atop his head.
After Oliver explained more about the Gishvits, I actually felt rather bad for killing them. They could use their bookmark appendages to take memories from creatures and store them in their pages for others to read. They could also transfer information this way. Cornelius told us that the one who had attacked him was forcing memories into his brain. They were flashing by so fast that he couldn’t make sense of them. It’s unfortunate. After death, they simply became books. I think Felyx felt similarly to how I did, as after Oliver’s explanation she began to gather the books that were once the Gishvits.
As we talked, the door at the far end of the room opened. We all turned, weapons in hand as a copper and gold winged sphere floated through the doorway. It had a mechanical looking eye in its center, and two arm-like appendages emerged from the bottom of the sphere. It took all of us in, and then looked at the tomes in Felyx’s hands, before saying hello.
Oliver and Cornleius told us that it was an Arbiter Inevitable, also a creature from the plane of Axis. Felyx asked if it was the Archivist, Twelve. He – though I’m not really sure if the creature has a gender – said he was Factor Twelve. We told him the Vicar sent us saying that Twelve could perhaps tell us how to get out of the archives. At the mention of Vicar, Twelve said that the Gremlin was a liar and a con artist, but that he could indeed help us out of the archives. We would need to exit the door in the long hallway and after we made our way through a few rooms we would find a set of stairs and the way out.
When we mentioned that the door was locked and had some sort of magical trap on it, he told us he had the key, and while he wasn’t familiar with the magic that Dagio had used to create the trap, he believed that if the circles were erased, that would disable the trap. A reason to be glad that I had opened the scroll tube despite the guardian scroll’s attack since we found a scroll with the erase spell inside.
We asked Twelve a few more questions about Dagio, and while Twelve wasn’t sure what kind of creature he is, he did remember Senator Glendower and his experiments. The senator’s final experiment ended in him being disintegrated. After his death, Dagio decided to continue the Senator’s research, and to master the circle. With the information from Glendower’s journal, it seems that Dagio took the mentions of the Circle organization as literally being a circle, and has been attempting to “master” the circle through mathematics.
Factor Twelve has been serving in the senate for over five hundred years, though he did mention that his time is almost up, with just seventy-six years to go. He still tends to the archives, and told us that Dagio has been banned from the area for stealing books and other items that he had been charged with watching over.
Twelve also mentioned that a kobold had recently arrived, telling him that he was going to set up a shop. How did a kobold find its way down here, and why did they think this is a good place to set up a shop? I suppose we will find out, and perhaps they will have something useful to trade.
We asked Twelve if he had anything that could help us, and he told us that he had a few things that could probably be useful but due to Dagio’s theft, he could only give us one item. But if we returned the items that Dagio stole, he would be able to lend us more. When I asked him what he meant about lending the items, he said he could only let us keep the items for twelve years, and then they would have to be returned in the same condition that they were given to us in.
There was an enchanted orcish battleax, a cloak and boots of elven kind, both donated by House Fahlspar, and an enchanted set of golden breastplate. I ended up taking the breastplate, and gave my chainmail to Felyx.
While Verity and Oliver were helping me into my new armor, we felt the now familiar tingle of an incoming message from Martella. She told us “Stavian’s assassins are retreating. Pythareus rallied the guard, but the military seems divided. He was seen fighting the assassins but they were actively avoiding him.” We responded that we had made some progress and found a way out, though we still had some obstacles in our way.
We received a second message, “We are out of the Senate building. Word of the attack and Emperor’s death has spread to the streets. The city is in chaos.” Before we could respond, a third communication followed: “Your relatives are safe. Morelia is taking Eutropia to a secure location. I’m escorting the rest of the survivors to a safe house of mine.” I felt a great rush of relief knowing that my brother was out of the Senate and safe. Paladin or no, I still worried for him. We asked Martella where this safe house was, and she gave us one more message, “I will update you as soon as I know the safe house is still secure. Take care until then.”
I wondered about this new information regarding the High Stategos. Yes, he was fighting the assassins, but it seemed they had orders to leave him alone. While I don’t think Pythareus is the type of man we need leading Taldor, I can’t imagine that he would have approved of the slaughter the Grand Prince brought down upon the senate tonight. Agree with him or not, the High Strategos loves Taldor. Perhaps our theory that Stavian was going to adopt Pythareus had some merit. After destroying all the traitors to the nation, and “securing” his position on the throne, Stavian still would have needed an heir.
We talked about this for a few moments. Verity voiced that perhaps the Grand Strategos knew what Stavian was planning, but I disagreed. Since we now knew that Princess Eutropia was safe, and Martella had made it out of the senate with the survivors, we were no longer in quite the rush that we had been in previously. Martella would need time to secure the safe house, and both Cornelius and Felyx were running low on their magical reserves.
My friends and I decided it was best to rest so we could be at our best if Dagio presented a threat, and while Martella and the others had made it out of the senate, there was no guarantee that the assassins were no longer there.
Twelve told us we could rest in a small reading room, and that while he would not engage in violence on our behalf, he would keep a watch. So we all laid down on the floor and did our best to get comfortable.
After a rest, we used the wand to create a small breakfast for everyone. While we ate, Sir Guy thanked us for assisting them. Though I suppose it really is Lord Guy Manshum. From what I understand, Manshum’s seat on the senate is hereditary. Guy went from being a knight, to a Lord and a Senator in one night. All of us offered to help him if he needed it while getting a hold on his new position.
We learned through some conversation that Lady Gael had once been kidnapped by river pirates on the Sellen and that Guy and Senator Manshum had rescued her. Lady Gael enjoys traveling, and is a skilled artist who makes guides for the regions she visits. I suspected there may be something between her and Guy, but I also understand that Lady Gael enjoys traveling and making her guides. If she became a noble’s wife, she may not be able to pursue them any longer. She mentioned that it wasn’t exactly lady-like of her, and I told her she should do as she pleases.
Wilfen also tried to thank us, though from all that we have seen of him I find him quite craven, allowing Guy to step forward and guard the others when there was danger. He and Verity got on the subject of trade negotiations. Wilfen was having trouble dealing with the dwarves of the Five Kings Mountains. A meteorite recently fell on his lands, and he needed the dwarves to help forge the adamantine contained within it. His comments towards the dwarves were rather derogatory, and I remembered the looks he kept slipping at Ismistos. I felt my lips curling into a sneer, and rather than listen to him fawn over Verity trying to win his favor, I decided to check in with Dame Trant. As I passed Wifen I almost said “you know she’s been married three times and all her husbands are dead” but held my tongue. While it would be a dig at him being a sycophant, it wouldn’t be worth it to hurt Verity’s feelings. I can’t imagine the subject of her husbands and their untimely deaths is something she likes to visit.
I sat down on the floor next to the Dame, who had regained the stern visage I remembered from our confrontation at the Gala. She was angry, and hurt that she couldn’t get her revenge on Stavian since he is already dead. She told me her father raised her on his own from a young age, and instilled in her that politics was a harsh world. I imagine this is where she got her ruthlessness. Kill or be killed.
She plans to have her father raised, though she voiced in her next breath what I was thinking: within a few days there would not be a single diamond left in all of Oppara. She told me her father would have done anything for Stavian, and for what he believed was best for Taldor, and that loyalty was repaid in death. She now stands against anything that Stavian wished for Taldor to come into law, and if that means opposing the Grand Strategos becoming the next Grand Prince, so be it. While her change of heart might not have been due to supporting Princess Eutropia’s goals, Dame Trant is now on our side.
The conversations around us were winding down, and I stood to my feet, helping the Dame to hers. As we readied to depart the reading room, we felt the now familiar tingle in our minds signaling an incoming message from Martella. “I’ve reached my safe house. It should be safe for you to escape and join me. It’s located at the Dig-” We all waited a few seconds, but the message didn’t continue, nor did she respond when we sent a message back that she had been cut off. At first Cornelius suggested she had run out of words, as the spell limits them, but Oliver pointed out that she would have responded when we told her she had cut off. We all looked at each other grimly, realizing that this most likely meant that something had happened to Martella. Any ease I began to feel was dashed.
With a renewed sense of urgency we made our way back to the locked, trapped door. Cornelius cast erase from the scroll, and then Verity slipped the key that Twelve had given us into the lock. The door opened with a soft click. A kobold, Dagio, and who knows what else stood between us and the staircase to freedom.