Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the next instalment of this wonderful story from Andartianna. It is entitled
Harvest of the Shattered Moon
Background music by Smartsound
Chapter 3, “Parting, Path, and Pass.”
Zazeriz said farewell to Snip-snip and headed east past the Sawtooth Thicket and the South Quell woods. After two day’s travel, Zazeriz stopped for a night in Honor Hold. The hold was pleasant enough, but regardless of how good or bad the location was, Zazeriz had violent dreams. An evil undead something or other terrorized Zazeriz in her sleep.
Zazeriz had many bad dreams over the millennia, but lately they had been the same thing. Years ago she had been drawn into the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. Whatever evil force condemned all the souls that entered there was wrathful at Zazeriz for managing to escape. The talisman could not be a coincidence. The dark forces of the tower were trying to get Zazeriz to return; but before she jumped back into the tower, she wanted to make sure that Boniface had indeed been kidnapped to draw her there. Perhaps this was not a sinister plan, but a conflict between merchants which could be solved with money.
Zazeriz was not invincible. She often seemed that way because her life attunement was very high and her skill at healing unmatched. She had no great love of the art of damaging things, having patched up so many sick and injured patients over the years. She did, however, enjoy travelling and exploring. Being immortal had the benefit of allowing voyages endlessly. Zazeriz also had no lack of gold, which made her travels more enjoyable.
Zazeriz dashed across Brightbone Pass, bypassing the annoying skeletal mages and archers that lurked the passes. She had spent many hours healing in Brightbone Pass. Many of her companions over the years sought the rich yields of metals and herbs in the pass. They had all survived, thanks to Zazeriz’ healing abilities. With Brightbone Pass behind her, Zazeriz quickly made her way through the West Perennial Trail. There were many little towns on the road to Ardoris, but none that Zazeriz had time to stop in.
Chapter 4, “Ask, Answer, and Advice.”
Within a half day, Zazeriz made the outskirts of Ardoris. As she entered the city, lines of wagons waited to carry people out to the various towns nearby. She quickly crossed the large bridge that marked the entrance to Ardoris. She glanced at the various fishermen below the bridge. Zazeriz went to the town cryer, checking in when she entered the city. She asked him where Ardoris Imports was located, and he indicated that it was along the docks. Zazeriz asked the town cryer if he happened to know the owner’s name. He said she was called Simone Von Eglinger.
Zazeriz went to the docks nearby and staked out a place to watch Ardoris Imports for a while. The guard barracks being close by made it harder to endlessly watch the shop. Zazeriz kept switching her location and then finally decided to go to the Tavern of the South Wind. Zazeriz paid Draulius, the tavernkeep, to rent out his rooms upstairs. What Zazeriz actually wanted was access to the balcony above the Ardoris Imports. From this vantage point, Zazeriz could keep watch on all the comings and goings into the shop.
After six hours of watching Ardoris Imports, Zazeriz came to the conclusion that Simone Von Eglinger did not run a very good business. No customers came anywhere near her store throughout the entire day. She was sure it was time to confront Simone Von Eglinger and ask her about her involvement in the disappearance of Boniface. Zazeriz walked into the back door and found no one present in the main shop. However, upon entering, Zazeriz could hear someone crying upstairs. Zazeriz followed the sound of the cries and found the second floor empty except for supplies for the shop. On the third floor, Zazeriz found a large desk with books scattered across it and piles of books lying disheveled around the room. There was still no sign of Simone until Zazeriz opened a small closet in the back. There she found Simone Von Eglinger sobbing in a corner.
Upon opening the closet door, Simone Von Eglinger looked up from her tear soaked hands and said, “I’m sorry, but my shop is closed today. Whatever you are here for, I can’t help you with.”
“I’m afraid this cannot wait. I found this talisman of the Tower of the Shuttered Eye left where my friend Boniface was last seen. I have been told that you were the last person to have quarreled with her.” Zazeriz said.
At this question, Simone Von Eglinger burst out crying. Streams of tears poured down her face. “I am so sorry. I had no choice. The spirits from the Tower of the Shuttered Eye told me they would kill me if I did not give the talisman to Boniface.” Simone Von Eglinger said.
“However did you get mixed up with the necromancers of the Tower of the Shuttered Eye?” Zazeriz asked.
“I went the region to get better maps of what is there. You see, I am a cartographer and new and exotic locations sell really well as maps. My store has not been doing well, so I thought I could make a quick profit by drawing the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. I was captured by skeletons upon entering the area. They took me inside where a malevolent voice told me that if I wanted to live, I would have to take the talisman to Boniface in Etceter. During the harvest season, I was to make sure that a healer named Zazeriz was in the locale. After I verified that you were the person mentioned, I made a fabricated story about wanting to buy beer from Boniface. I paid for the beer with gold in a pouch. I hid the talisman in the pouch so that Boniface would receive it. She must not have seen it until later the next morning as I still had the painful tattoo of three headed snake in a circle on my shoulder.” Simone Von Eglinger said through continued sobs.
“A tattoo you say? Was the tattoo something like this?” Zazeriz said, pulling a square piece of dried skin from a pouch on her side.
“Did you kill someone to get that? I could find no way to rub it off.” Simone Von Eglinger said in a horified gasp as she looked at the dried skin.
“This is a piece of my skin. I cut the tattoo off my shoulder and ended the Tower of the Shuttered Eye’s hold over me. I assume your tattoo vanished after you complete the task of delivering the talisman to Boniface.” Zazeriz said.
“Yes. The tattoo and the pain associated with it left me in the morning. I have been scared to death that it would return and kill me.” Simone Von Eglinger said.
“I would advise you never to venture close to the Tower of the Shuttered Eye again, as next time you may not be so lucky. I have received the information I needed and advise you to live a better life. Be happy with the small joys and do not seek wealth for the sake of wealth.” Zazeriz said.
Chapter 5, “Undead, Unknown, and Unprepared.”
Zazeriz left Ardoris Imports and headed back to the center of town. As soon as she got to the town bank, Zazeriz began checking what supplies she had available in Ardoris. Zazeriz had enough reagents and supplies needed to heal an army; and an army she would need. Zazeriz walked outside the bank and peered up into the star studded night sky. She began to concentrate very hard. Zazeriz sent out her call to all the members of Organized Chaos, the guild of which Zazeriz was member of. Immediately, responses came back to Zazeriz. The members of Organized Chaos would come to Zazeriz’ defense. A defense Zazeriz was sure to need as she attempted to rescued Boniface from the Tower of the Shuttered Eye.
Once several members of Organized Chaos had teleported into Ardoris, Zazeriz began relaying the details of the past few days in person. She knew that the Tower of the Shuttered Eye was overrun with undead, having seen it in person some years ago. While Zazeriz could blast through many of the undead with Banish Undead, She would find Boniface much easier and faster with friends helping her to search through the many side chambers of the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. After a considerable amount of minutes explaining to her present companions the details of her latest travels, Zazeriz’ Guild Master Blight Mister teleported to Ardoris to assist.
“Who did you upset this time.” Blight Mister said walking up after appearing silently behind Zazeriz.
“I’ll have you know the fighting in Jacob’s bar in Resolute was not my fault. I simply told Jacob he should not talk to a woman in such a rude manner.” Zazeriz replied after rolling her eyes at Blight Mister.
“If by told you mean punched him in the face then yes you simply told him.” Blight Mister said
“I’m sure if Iron Marshall had heard the way Jacob propositioned Iron Maiden he would have also punched him. I do not take kindly to such public obscenity. However to answer your original question I have upset the restless spirits that dwell in the corrupted bones within the Tower of the Shuttered Eye. If you remember I showed you the tattoo I cut off my shoulder. The spirits of the Tower of the Shuttered Eye thought to make me do their bidding through the magic imbued into the tattoo. I did not regard this as something I would do so I lied to them by telling them I would bring them a bonesteel dagger. I then escaped their possessed tower, cut the tattoo off, and have not gone back since. It seems they did not accept my refusal of service so they sent the hapless Simone Von Eglinger who stumbled on their tower to give a recall imbued talisman to my friend Boniface which would force me to return to their tower with the bonesteel dagger.” Zazeriz said finishing her last sentence slightly winded.
“Wait you found the bonesteel dagger they were looking for?” Blight Mister asked looking puzzled.
“Yes I came across it when I was healing people at the Blood River Massacre.” Zazeriz replied nonchalantly.
“Did you happen to find out why the spirits within the Tower of the Shuttered Eye might want it?” Mister Blight asked.
“The bonesteel dagger was sold to the attackers at the Blood River Massacre by the Satyr in Etceter. I followed the clues to figure out where is was made and who might have purchased it. The bonesteel was forged by a man called Boreas who is said to dwell in a place called the Artifice. We have not traveled there yet but as you may recall I have requested we investigate the place.” Zazeriz replied.
“Alright so we know where the bonesteel dagger comes from but not it’s details. Do you think there might be a connection to the Tower of the Shuttered Eye?” Mister Blight asked.
“Dark forces are working behind the scenes everywhere. It is entirely possible the malevolent spirits in the Tower of the Shuttered Eye want to hide or control the bonesteel dagger for some reason.” Zazeriz said.
“Well that certainly settles it.” Blight Mister said in a voice that attempted to convey authority. “We will Head toward the Tower of the Shuttered Eye, rescue Boniface, and put an end to any spirits that might try to stop use. We will likely need a short amount of time to prepare. I am out of arrows again.”
“ I have six thousand arrows in my inventory for you already. I will give you half of them now and carry the rest for when you need them. This will also allow you to pick up gold and items which I have little use for. I do however need a bit of time. I want to check in with Parker the master Life skill trainer in Ardoris and see if he has any new insights on healing.” Zazeriz said.
“Alright I will wait here in the square for the rest of our guildmates to arrive after I sell all this junk. I’m carrying so much weight with the arrows you gave me I can hardly walk.” Mister Blight said.
“I’m sure someone will be along who can carry you to the vendor if needed.” Zazeriz said in jest then turned around and headed to visit Parker.