Ziedon clapped his hands in glee. “Wonderful. I bring a message for you.” He spent a long minute reciting the magical words written as with chalk in his mind. Once Ziedon began to speak, he knew he had no choice but to finish, even if Moren had attempted to interject. Were he being more observant, he would have noticed the solumn look on Moren's face as if he had been expecting this event for some time.
Ziedon felt the familiar energies build up inside of him to the point of a painful pleasure, and then spew forth with the last words of the incantation.
With a sense of triumph, Ziedon asked, “Might you know what that means?”
Moren looked up from the floor and stared sadly into Ziedon's face for several seconds. “Yes,” he said slowly. “Now I do.”
Ziedon assumed his normal neutral facade and says, “Perhaps you would like to explain what you have been involved in which led to me being tasked to 'speak' with you.”
Ziedon's mind began to pull up the words for his spell of vitality draining as he positioned himself so he could see both Moren and the front door.
“I don't know,” Moren said, looking back down at the floor. “I've done nothing.”
Ziedon took a brief step forward as he shut the door. With a flick of his wrist he threw the deadbolt lock, and then returned to his previous spot, giving off a light 'tsk' sound with his tongue, “Now now. You have indeed done, seen or said something. You obviously know who I am and why I am here. Perhaps we can come to terms, but if you lie to me –” Ziedon made a 'tsk' noise again ”– then I have no other alternatives.”
Ziedon kept his eyes on Moren, watching his hands and his body expressions, waiting for the man's muscles to tense, as a body is wont to do before springing into sudden action. Ziedon kept ready with his spell, and made sure his dagger was close at hand.
Moren made no motion with his body, and he continued to speak in a slow, sad voice. “I have truely done nothing. Every day for twenty years I've worked in this shop, and then gone home at night after a drink at Ranes'. I can't say who you are specifically. I have no idea.” He paused for a short moment, looking down at the floor. “Do what you've come to do.”
Ziedon shook his head. “If you do not know anything, how do you recognize why I am here. Riddle me that dear Moren.”
“I have been awaiting death for weeks. Are you not he?”
Ziedon frowned. “Why have you been awaiting death?”
“Why does anyone await death? A cow has never seen the death of another cow. When I tighten my ropes around the cow, and I lift the knife above her neck, she doesn't know she is about to die. She can't know, but she knows. There is a moment, before the knife pierces her skin, when there is silence. No struggle, no sound. She knows she is about to die. Two weeks ago, I felt my own ropes tighten.”
“Did anything significant happen two weeks ago to bring about this feeling?”
“Must every feeling be tracable to an event?”
“Not always, but you didn't answer. Was there any significant event?”
“Who else is present in the back rooms of this shop right now, dear Moren?”
“There is a goat in the back. No one else.”
“Who did you talk with at Ranes'?”
“I've spoken with many in twenty years.”
“Have you spoken with the Keeper of the Baths? Who is he and where can I find him, preferably alone with some privacy?”
“You'll find him in the bathouse. Rosteral doesn't frequent taverns, and I've rarely spoken to him outside of Ranes'. He has come here to buy meat in the past.”
Ziedon siezed on the morsel of information. “Where is Rosteral's living quarters?”
“I have never had a need to find where he lives.”
“Where do you keep your valuables?”
“I have little of value. What I've managed to save, I keep in my house. You've come to rob me at my death? Well, so be it.”
Ziedon gave him an evil look. “Moren, there are wheels within wheels. Where do you keep your valuables at your house? And where is your house located?”
Moren sighed quietly. “The town is laid out around a central crossroads. This shop is at one end of the cross. My home is at the opposite end.”
“Describe it, so I will recognize it out of all of the other houses.”
“It is not distinguishable. My house is the last you will see, if you walk in that direction.”
“And the valuables?”
“In the bedroom. In a box.” He paused before anticipating Ziedon's next question. “The only box in the room.”
“What of your family? Who will you leave behind? Will they be tended for?”
“I have a daughter. She is wed a year.”
“Does she live elsewhere than your house?”
“Her husband has a trade. She lives with him.”
Ziedon stopped his questioning. “It is now time for you to close your eyes, my little lamb. You will be at peace soon.” After a quick glance around, Ziedon softly chanted the words to a spell that had had devistating effects upon one of his companions once. His hand glowed a cold, bright blue, and darted out like a cobra's head to touch Moren.
Ziedon smiled as the spell took effect, feeling the life drain from Moren's body. The man stood firmly in place, with the same sad expression on his face, but as his own body took on a blue tint, he began to shiver. Moren stood until he was too weak to stand, and then collapsed to the ground.
Ziedon recited the words again, and bestowed his dark gift to the prone Moren a second time. With a satisfied nod, Ziedon noted Moren's complexion, which was now more white than blue, and determined that he was near death's door. Pointing his fingers straight out like daggers, Ziedon struck a killing blow to Moren's throat.
Ziedon quickly went through Moren's pockets to withdraw his set of keys. Turning his back on the body, Ziedon locked the front door from inside, and returned that key to Moren's pocket.
There was no one in sight in the grassy area behind the shop, other than a cow and two sheep waiting for slaughter. The fence that enclosed the two animals extended right up to the walls of Dunweig, which provided a cheep and effective third side for the fence. When Ziedon was sure no one could be watching, he opened the gate and walked towards Moren's house, the other keys jingling in his pocket.
Ziedon's mind swirled in many directions; Moren knew it was his time, and went quietly without putting up a fight. How did such a simple butcher draw the attention of his master? There was so much that Ziedon needed to learn. He knew that it was indeed his fault that he could not learn the last spell his master had tried to teach him. He had almost grasped the words, but they were just out of reach, tantilizing him like a virgin on her wedding night.
Ziedon set his mind to his new course. He had to study. His Master's library was large, and time worked in his favor in the tower. He would spend weeks, months if need be, in study. He had to expand his knowledge and improve his intellect. Books were the key. Perhaps he would even find a magical means to further augment his magical ability. Ziedon's sickly smile came across his face as he thought of that.
Ziedon blinked as he realized he had reached his destination. Waiting until the area was nearly free of people, Ziedon stepped up to the back of Moren's house and unlocked the door. He entered, and locked the door behind him.
The box was easily found in Moren's bedroom, and it, like the butcher's doors, was easily unlocked. Several silver aglars were stacked neatly in one corner. In another corner was a tiny wooden box which contained a single gold coin. In the center was an iron-bound, clasped book. The clasp contained a keyhole which none of Moren's keys would fit.
Ziedon quickly took the coins, putting them into his pouch, and hefted the large book, looking at the keyhole with an arched eyebrow, before slipping the book into his pack. He would have to visit a locksmith for the clasp. With a sigh, Ziedon realized that he would probably need to enchant the locksmith as well, and more than likely dispose of him after he has finished his job. Such was the work he was sent on.
With sure hands, Ziedon closed and locked the box.
As softly as he had entered the house, so was his withdrawal. Like a midnight lover, Ziedon slipped out of the house, relocking it and returning to the alley. One by one, Ziedon disposed of the keys on his way down the back street, until his hands were clean and he stepped out of the shadows and into the light of the main road.
Remembering the barber shop he had seen earlier, Ziedon's hand reached up to caress his full beard. Its roughness grated against his personality. Ziedon wandered around town in seach of a different barber shop. Upon reaching it, Ziedon waited his turn and then allowed the barber to trim his beard and hair. He paid the barber, looked into a mirror, and liked what he saw.
On his way back to the inn, Ziedon realized that he was very hungry. Such work builds up an appetite. He arrived at the inn, and ordered a light lunch, including a mead to dispose of his half coin. When he was done, he wiped a few crumbs from his beard and lips, and took a nap in his room.
In the early evening, Ziedon spent some time with his spellbook, and took another moment to examine the iron-bound book he had acquired. Ziedon's pulse hastened as he speculated the nature of the book. “A tome of knowledge? A guimare of arcane spells?” Ziedon laughed aloud at himself “What would a common butcher be doing with such writings? It is more like his diary or some family heirlom.” He then took a look at the little box with the gold coin. As best Ziedon could tell, the coin was indeed gold, dispite the rarity of that metal. The box contained a long strip of ordinary folded cloth that was used as padding, but there was nothing else in the box besides the coin. Particularly to Ziedon's disappointment, the box had no special compartment in which to hide a key. With a sigh, he returned the book and box to his pack, and headed down to the common room for dinner.
Your Bill, Sir
1.05ag (lunch. Ziedon no longer has a half-diyar)
-6ag (found in Moren's box)
Ziedon also has a box containing a gold coin, and a heavy book.