Zafirah felt her eye twitch just slightly as she looked across the small room to the three people across from her: A man in a military-type uniform sat next to another man in gaudy robes, and behind them stood another figure. Zafirah assumed that the third was present to make sure that she wouldn't be lying outright, while the first was a knight of some order, she could not be bothered to care about, much less name. And the gaudy fellow was from the local Mage's Guild. That alone caused her to roll her eyes with a barely audible groan.
"How many times do I have to tell you what happened before you are satisfied and leave me alone?"
"Just humor the man." The knight said with noticeable restraint in his voice.
"It's not my fault he wasn't paying attention the first two times I told you about it."
"The sooner you tell me what I want to know, the sooner we will leave you to your business." The representative interjected. The woman's attitude was starting to grate on his nerves and his patience and it showed. What sort of people were they teaching Magic to nowadays anyway?
Zafirah groaned. "Alright. Fiiine. Let's just get this over with."
"Thank you." The mage replied, with the knight taking on a somewhat relieved expression.
"Alright, Yesterday while I was in my room at the Inn I was staying at, [Zultan] offered me a job. He didn't specify that it was a job for a mage specifically, only that my unique talents would be most useful, so that, I think, would fall outside of your little arrangement with the city." Zafirah frowned. "Which is stupid anyway! How in Allah's name can a respectable sorceress who is just passing through get any work? It's a huge pile of bulls-"
"Please, get on with your testimony." The mage lifted a hand slightly. "The methods and reasons for the activity of the Mage Guild are not of your concern."
Zafirah shot the robed man a dirty look. "Anyway, [Zultan] explained that he was an apprentice and that his Master had gotten killed in a laboratory accident. There were some things that he wanted to get out of there he would also like to continue his training if possible. But to do that, he would have to get into the laboratory. All that made sense to me, so I told him that I'd help him out for a price."
"How much?" The mage asked.
"Thirty up front, another one hundred seventy when the job was done... but only because that was where the money was." She replied. "Anyway, I took he job and [Zultan] led me down below the city to where his Master's lab was. I had just finished putting up some defensive spells when he had opened the door. Everything was going great too, at least until everyone else showed up."
Zafirah narrowed her eyes at the mage and then shook her head. What an idiot! What sort of people were they teaching Magic to nowadays anyway? Typical. "The stinky guy with his pet giant rat, the two tin-cans and Septimus, of course. I already told you that!" She sighed again. "Anyway, I had things under control and all figured out before they showed up and screwed everything up.
"After we took care of those skeletons, we all started to make our way into the chamber. [Zultan] was with us...at least until one of the doors broke and quite possibly the most horrible creature I had ever seen, came out from behind it. I figured that's what killed [Zultan]'s Master, and there was no way we could take it out, so we left the room the same way we came in... the door was too small for it to get out, and the surrounding stone was made by elves, so we felt we would be reasonably safe. Fortunately we were right. It was then that we realized that [Zultan] left. I don't know why he did, but I imagine that he had gotten in as far as he needed to and simply decided to leave and not pay me the rest of what he owes!"
A look from the knight stopped Zafirah from deviating off the topic again, and with a shrug of her shoulders she continued. "The tin-can in charge... the only one who seemed to have some degree of manners and culture about him... Patris I think his name is... wanted to continue on another quest. I had more important things to do, to be honest, but Septimus told me that if I helped him out with this, he would make sure that I would be taken care of."
The knight lifted a brow and then looked over to the mage who smirked. "Yes... we heard about your little 'incident'. Rest assured that we are willing to entertain any requests to join from you or on the recommendation of your comrade."
There was something almost mocking in the man's voice, and it took more than a little effort on Zafirah's part to keep from calling the man out on it. She gave a huff and continued nonetheless. "We went through the caves and eventually found an opening, in there, there was a couple of tin-cans, a priest of some sort...your gods don't make any sense...and another mage. Oh, I think there were some other guards and a bunch of people in chains too.
"We had a short scuffle with one of their tin-cans and their priest being taken out, but that mage escaped, and that was pretty much that. I mean, we went back to the well that the stinky barbarian and his pet giant rat used to get down to where we were at... and I really don't think you guys should be drinking that water. Who knows what sort of diseases or stuff that man could have? And I won't even get started on that rat that he keeps!"
It was about then that the knight made a move to stand, obviously having already had enough. This was the third time she told the story, and it was pretty much the same as the first two. The Truthsayer made no action or reaction the entire time so that meant that the little upstart was either telling the truth, or the truth as she saw it. He saw no reason to question her further.
The mage started to say something, but was cut off by the knight. "I think that will be all for today Ms. Zafirah. If you need anything from your hotel room, please alert someone of the House staff and they will ensure that it is brought to you post haste. For now, we would really prefer that you remain within the house grounds, at least until after the reception is over."
Zafirah waved a dismissive hand. "Yeah...that's fine. Whatever. I have some work to do anyway."
It was not until after the trio of visitors had left that Zafirah really started to think about what had happened last night and yesterday. She steepled her fingers and watched the door, her brow furrowed in thought.
There was just too much here that seemed to be linked together. Ruffians running around and kidnapping small girls, nobles, and scruffy barbarians, dumping them in a well to be picked up by skeletons. Zafirah made a mental note to not drink any water except whatever she created through her magic. Last thing she needed was to pick up some disease or something because a stinky man and his pet rat decided to take a swim.
Then there were the skeletons that were in that first room that Zultan lead her to. Sure, skeletons are skeletons. Anybody could have animated them, but the fact that where the skeletons went to was near the door that Zultan opened could not be ignored. They were close enough that they may have been going into the next room over.
And what about those slave traders? She was willing to cast them off as mere coincidence and nothing more. However, according to what she had overheard along the way, the girl had been dropped off in a similar fashion as the stinky man...if not in the same location.
So what does all of that mean? Those slavers obviously have a mage working for or with them. Someone who could easily animate skeletons to do whatever needed to be done. But why that location? What did Zultan's Master...or Zultan himself have to do with any of it? If anything at all? Did he even know what was going on?
Zafirah frowned once more as she considered all of this. No, it was most likely that they are all interlinked somehow. But how? She sat back in her chair and folded her arms over her chest. "No idea." She muttered to herself. But then why did she actually care? It was not her neck on the line, she would not get paid for it, and who really did care about of stinky, uncultured, brutish, barbarian peasants anyway? She really didn't.
But maybe she didn't care about the victims. Nor those involved for that matter. But doing stuff like this tended to get a reward. If tonight was any indication of anything that is. Even if no reward or bounty is given, it really is not all that wrong to take out thieves, ruffians, and na're-do-wells, right? "Heh, beating up bad guys and taking their stuff. That might actually work! At least better than the alternative and probably faster than going through the Guild too."
Zafirah grinned to herself and pulled out a stylus and one of her notebooks and immediately began setting herself to work...
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