Chapter 16

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Chapter 16: Artistry

Michael woke up, head sore from the whiskey he’d snuck into his room. His room was tiny but he was lucky not to be sharing with his sister, given how late they’d arrived for market.

He desperately needed a drink of water, his tongue like suede. His pitcher was empty, though.

  • Go to Kasta’s room 47%
  • Go to the common room 29%
  • Walk to the market stalls 24%

He rubbed his eyes as he pushed open Kasta’s door, yawning a good-morning as he entered the room. It was empty and he panicked, thinking he’d slept in and Kasta had opened the market stall without him.

Panic was replaced with confusion at the dishevelled state of the room.

The chair was overturned, papers strewn over the floor & there was a large cracked dent in the plaster on the wall near the door that hadn’t been there before.

A new panic set in as he realised there’d been a struggle. And he’d slept through it. He whined, covering his eyes.

  • Run to the common room 0%
  • Run to the market stall 12%
  • Find a guard 18%
  • Search for the necklace 70%

Michael searched the room from top-to-bottom looking for the necklace his sister had said was so precious.

No sign of the necklace. In fact everything of value or power had been removed from the room. He whined again. Maybe this had something to do with the attack in the alley.

He couldn’t go to the town guard. He’d killed two people with the necklace.

He wanted to cry. He needed his sister. He relied on her. What if she was hurt? He looked at the dented wall in worry. He also looked around the ransacked room, seeing the mess he’d made, & grimaced.

  • Find Lady Flint’s people 54%
  • Walk around town 0%
  • Speak to the innkeeper 46%

Rubbing his hair and with a look of worry ok his face, Michael left the inn. He headed towards the bit of town his sister had told him she’d met Lady Flint’s entourage.

He entered the first common room, serving breakfast to patrons. No luck. He asked a barmaid for directions.

A serving boy in the third inn pointed towards a table with three people sat laughing together, eating their plates of meat, cheese & porridge.

Wringing his hands, words rushed out of Michael’s mouth about the attack in the alley & his sister missing with Lady Flint’s necklace.

  • They get angry with him 44.5%
  • Don’t want to be involved 11%
  • Hurry him to Lady Flint 44.5%

“You took it?” The man nearest said, glaring in anger. “Are you a thief?” he thumped the table.

“No!” cringed Michael. “It was a mistake! Please, we need to find my sister. We’ll find the necklace, then. She had it, I’m sure!”

The woman at the table touched the man’s arm.

“We need to take him to Flint” the man said. “She needs to know.”

The angry man growled but nodded.

“Come” he said, leaving the table. Michael & the two followed.

They entered a private dining room to find a woman sitting alone, eating a large breakfast.

“Yes?” She snapped.

  • Lady Flint was very young 12%
  • Lady Flint was very old 24%
  • Lady Flint was blind 36%
  • Flint was beautiful 28%

Michael stared at Lady Flint. She was about 40 years old, a beautiful, graceful woman. He brown hair was pulled back from her face in a pony tail. She cocked her head to the side like a bird, listening. Her eyes, milky white, were striking.

Her retainer recounted Michael’s tale.

Her brow lowered briefly, her only sign of anger, her demeanour remaining impassive otherwise.

“It appears we have a problem.” She said. “I am pragmatic. I need that necklace. It took me many years to identify someone with the skill to create it.” She pursed her lips.

  • Ask him to work for her 14%
  • Tell him he works for her 36%
  • Tell him who has Kasta 50%
  • Sends him away 0%

“You were attacked by my cousin*. The Lord Bryn” she said coldly. She stroked a large wolfish dog sitting at the side of the table. The dog looked at Michael. “We find him, we find my necklace. And if you are lucky, we find your sister.”

*changed from uncle for consistency

Lady Flint gave Michael her terms.

Michael nodded and felt silly when one of the retainers gestured towards the blind noblewoman. “Yes, yes” he said. “Anything to help Kasta.”

She turned in the direction of her man. “See that he’s fed. And washed” her nose wrinkled. “Pay for his rooms & stabling. We then..”

  • leave for Jasamayne” 70%
  • leave for Parsha” 30%

Two hours later the party were heading on the road North to Jasamayne, leaving behind the market town of Thess. Lady Flint’s large and opulent carriage set a good pace. They’d be there in two days.

“Hold on” Michael whispered, hoping his sister would know help was on the way.

Lord Bryn led Kasta and his retinue to a large house on the outskirts of town. His people carried Kasta’s tools & remaining stock. She had agreed to give him Flint’s heirloom necklace once they arrived at their destination.

Entering the house, they were led to the basement.

They entered a dimly-lit room, empty save for two carved and lacquered magical etchings in the stone floor.

“Portals?” Kasta asked. “Where are we going?” She hoped Michael wouldn’t do anything foolish when found her missing. If they were to use a portal he may never find her.

  • “My home in Jasamayne” 71%
  • ”My retreat in Parsha” 29%

Kasta stepped through the portal into a very different room. It was oak-panelled, bright with flickering oil lamps, and with tall windows reaching just below a sloping ceiling, the dim light of the nighttime portal lighting the tops of trees outside. They had emerged in an attic.

They went down a staircase. “Come with me” Lord Bryn Said to Kasta. “The rest, to bed.” His people bobbed heads at him, one woman with a bruised face sneered at Kasta.

Kasta & Bryn entered a small library. He sat at a desk, she stood in front. “I want the necklace now” he said.

  • “It’s not here” 38%
  • ”I need it for insurance” 31%
  • She gives it to him 15%
  • She asks payment first 16%

He laughed, though his eyes were dead. “What do you mean, it’s not not here?” His smile was was vicious.

She swallowed hard. “It’s safe. And yours. But I need to be sure our agreement is solid first.”

“I don’t think you understand our relationship.” His smile remained.

“I am your Lord.” He smiled no more. “Where is my necklace?”

“It’s safe” she replied.

“You left it behind?” He roared.

Kasta nodded, flinching at his anger. “I agreed to work for you. You won’t find my skill outside of Mynistern.”

His smile returned.

  • “Ok. Let’s start again.” 32%
  • ”We will get it tomorrow.” 16%
  • ”You need to prove it” 52%

He took a key from a chain around his neck & opened a locked strong-box in the wall behind him. He drew out an old-looking vellum scroll, turned back to the table and unfurled it very carefully.

“This should interest you,” he said in excitement. The man was changeable.

Kasta looked at the scroll in wonder, up at Lord Bryn, then back at the scroll. Her hand brushed the vellum lightly.

“This is exquisite” she said quietly. Looking at him, she continued “this will cost a fortune. And it will take me weeks to construct”.

“A true test” he smirked.

  • Plans for a sword 61%
  • Plans for a shield 6%
  • Plans for a crown 16.5%
  • Plans for horse armour 16.5%

“Where did you get this schematic?” she asked, looking at the image inked onto the ancient skin. “The Mancers know you have this?”

Lord Bryn smirked. “They do not. And they will not.”

The drawing of an exquisite sword, thin, slender and elegant, sat central on the scroll.

To the left of the sword drawing, a block of dense angelic script, to the right, a panel of demonic words.

Kasta ran her hand across the words at the top of the page. “The Sword of the High Mancer”.

Kasta’s eyes scanned the text. “Which form of the sword shall I craft?”

  • “A blade of light” 40%
  • ”A blade of shadow” 30%
  • ”A blade of darkness” 30%

She smiled and was glad. She didn’t feel comfortable crafting a blade whose purpose was slaying Celestials.

Bryn noticed her smile. “I have no love for the Light Mancers, girl” he said “but their coffers are deeper.”

Kasta shrugged in response. She didn’t really care.

What she did care about was the artistry it would take to craft this weapon. He was right. This would be a true test of her craft. And her power. She had never made such an item before and needed to study this scroll.

All thoughts of her brother and the necklace were forgotten.

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