Kreemon stood up and stretched. “Sorry. I like the fresh air.”
“Well bloody hell. I am not going to be much use to anyone if I catch a cold, now am I? And what about Korisca? Do you want Ulan's heir to fall sick?”
“If you are going to be calling her Ulan's heir, you should also be calling her 'Leera.' It would be for the best if you got used to that.”
“Leera, Korisca, the point is it is freezing in here.”
“Maybe we should find better quarters then.”
Continuing to grumble, Ziedon sat down and opened his spellbook.
Tah'iera flew in through the still open window and perched on a long splinter of wood that had torn part-way out of the wall. “Bag-man gone,” it squawked. “Went into house.”
“The bag has been dropped in that alley,” Ziedon said. “Would you please go get it, and maybe some warm food?”
Kreemon left discreetly to find the sack. He checked carefully to ensure he wasn't being watched, and, seeing only Tah'iera on a rooftop, returned to the hideout.
Ziedon upturned the bag and found just what Forgolon had promised: a sufficient disguise, including a low-brimmed hat, some subtle face- paint and a false moustache, in addition to some basic, bland clothing of the type the servant of a merchant might wear. There was also a thirty-foot length of dark silk rope, satisfactorily light-weight. A sturdy but slightly rusty iron hook was tied securely to the end.
There was also a tiny, well-tied pouch. When Ziedon got it open, he found that it contained four little onyx stones.
Ziedon frowned at the clothing, holding one of the garments at arm's length between his thumb and forefinger. “Hmm, I see.”
After putting the rope aside, Kreemon said, “I'll go see about breakfast now.”
Kreemon was back within fifteen minutes with some warm food for Ziedon and Korisca, though for himself he got only baked bread and cheese.
“Well now,” Ziedon said. “I am not sure what we can accomplish during the daytime. I would be interested in securing some other quarters, maybe some place that neither the opposition nor the bard know about. Kreemon, would you be willing to find such a place? A small apartment or the like, something with at least two bedrooms should suffice.”
“I need to run some errands anyway, so I'll add that to my list.”
“Not a problem.”
Ziedon said to Korisca, “If you would be so kind as to show me how to best utilize these paints, I would be grateful.”
“Of course, Ziedon.”
Finally, Ziedon looked at Tah'iera. “If you could gather me a few more mice, I would appreciate it.”
Tah'iera once again flew out the window.
Turning his attention back to the two in front of him, Ziedon steepled his hands under his chin and said, “Tonight we will go on our expeditions. My friendly bird will assist you by carrying the hook to the top of the wall and securing it in place. Once you are across, she will release the hook. She will wait in the woods for your return, at which time she will do the same so you can reenter the town. I will be on my own expedition to recover some things from the House library and then pay a visit on Makierrei, but hopefully will be done by the time you return so I can help you if necessary. Darkness shall be our ally tonight.”
Kreemon nodded. “The hook makes it a little easier but we might need some help, so please try to be there.”
After their conversation, Kreemon took again to the streets, making sure he wasn't followed as he headed out into the city. Kreemon's first stop was at a weaponsmith. There, he sold his shortsword and tested out the few completed weapons that the smith had made. Most were daggers prepared for guild members (no guildsman would be caught without his dagger). He already owned two daggers, so he let them be. He tried a fine-looking longsword, but it felt strange to him – poorly weighted and clumsy despite its appearance, much like the sword in his dream. A massive greatsword hung on the wall, and this, when Kreemon wielded it, felt even worse. The same went for the rapier and the hand axe. To get to the hand axe, he had to move a few large pieces of wood out of the way, and these, strangely enough, felt reasonably comfortable in his hand. So he took the quarterstaff that leaned against the corner of the room, far from the forge, and held it in an attack stance. A simple weapon to be sure, but it felt better than the swords with which he had had years of training. The shortspear felt the same. Perhaps it was the wood, he thought. But then he tried his own dagger, and had no problem with it. Had he simply forgotten how to use all military weapons?
Next, he went to an armorer recommended by the smith. A priest noted his exit.
The armorer had a larger stock of completed items than the weaponsmith, including quite a few weapons. Kreemon found that a simple sling was much more natural in his hand than his old bow had been. Then he went on to the armor, only a few of which might fit him properly. He put on a chain shirt, much like the one he'd worn for years, and found that it chaffed his skin, restricted his movements, and made him feel even less protected than without it. Eventually, he settled on a woven leather shirt that provided some protection without being overly restrictive. The armorer adjusted it for him right there while he waited.
His last purchase was a robe, similar in style to the one he'd seen the Zahiran wearing. This, he folded and put in his pack.
Kreemon then moved about the town, examining some of the boarding houses to see if he could find anything that would suit their needs. Halfway through his wanderings, Kreemon noticed for the first time that Bork wasn't with him. Shaking his head, Kreemon continued his search.
There weren't many people taking boarders in Maelbourg, because long-term visitors were rare, but Kreemon did find a place eventually that suited his needs. Three rooms on the second floor for sixty aglars a month, meals provided by the landlord. The house wasn't in a well- trafficked part of town, and its front door opened onto a public garden in a courtyard rather than a road, so it would be easier to get in and out unnoticed.
Kreemon agreed to the arrangement with a smile, knowing that Ziedon would be able to get the rent lowered in due time. Returning via a roundabout path, Kreemon was careful to check for any followers as he returned to the hideout.
Ziedon wiped the last of his breakfast off his fingers, and then took his lesson from Korisca on how to apply the face paint. He changed into the servant's clothing, and carefully packed up his finer stuff into his pack. Once Tah?iera returned with the mice, Ziedon quickly and efficiently boned them, leaving the flesh to the bird.
Ziedon then waited impatiently for night to fall, talking with Korisca to learn all he could about the town, its customs, and history.
The history of Maelbourg was an interesting one – one that, while no secret, was something that Ziedon had never bothered to learn much about. Korisca, like all Morenthian children, had been given a story slightly different from the one Andrithans knew.
Morenth used to be a very common religion, in the days before Rang was so expansive a kingdom. Another, evil religion known as Polinaka (Korisca knew nothing about their history or theology), had also been common, and both Andritha and Morenth sought to wipe them out.
Shortly after the reign of Drannenveldt, in the later six hundreds, the Morenthians succeeded. They became the heroes of the region, but then, the Andrithans stepped in, taking advantage of Morenth's slightly reduced numbers to wipe them out of all Andrithan-occupied territories. This was known as the Scourge of Andritha. Later, as Rang expanded, the Andrithans discovered two small enclaves where the songs of Morenth were still sung. These were Maelbourg in Huerten, and Haelbourg in Elgony. Rather than slaughter them outright, the secular government decided to humiliate them by placing harsh restrictions on the travel of Morenthians, limiting them to the boundaries of their two towns. This was accompanied by excessive tariffs on goods entering or leaving the towns, and often unbearable levels of taxation, which fluctuated with the whim of those who ruled Rang, Huerten and Elgony.
In her recent travels to Dunweig and Huerten, Korisca learned a little of the other side of the story. The Scourge of Andritha was known outside Maelbourg as the Plague of Morenth.
The Andrithans had indeed been trying to eliminate the Polinakas, but they were also after the Morenthians. However, they only wanted to push these religions beyond their borders, not destroy them completely. To gain favor with the Andrithans, Morenthians declared war on the Polinakas, and began a bloody thirteen year campaign, after which no one outside tiny little hamlets would admit to being a Polinaka worshipper. It wasn't just the Polinakas who were afraid, though. Everyone in Rang lived in fear for their lives, lest the crusading Morenthians slaughter them and their families as suspected followers of Polinaka. The Morenthians pushed beyond the boundaries of Rang, only to be pushed back by neighboring kingdoms who didn't care about the religious war going on; all they saw was an unprovoked attack from Rang. Soon, there was large-scale war on all of Rang's borders, as well as a civil war internally between the Morenthians and Polinakas.
By the end of the Plague, it seemed that there were no Morenthians or Polinakas left anywhere, until Maelbourg and Haelbourg were discovered.
“And about Maelbourg itself?” Ziedon asked. “What can you tell me of the city and its workings?”
Korisca talked all about Maelbourg, continually prodded with questions by Ziedon.
The town had a respectable internal economy, but much of its income came from trade. The surrounding areas were rich in wool and coal, and textiles were the town's primary industry, which explained townsman Silnquost's power. Ziedon found the large amount of trade surprising, since Morenthians weren't allowed to leave, and Korisca couldn't explain it. Ziedon guessed that some of the exports might be shipped up and down the North Roe, and merchants from Huerten City might come through from time to time.
Ziedon asked whether the priests were known to have any special powers, and at this, Korisca was full of rumors. She herself suspected they could read minds, and that they knew when someone nearby was breaking Morenth's law. Some said they had the power of prophesy. Of all Korisca told him, nothing sounded like the kinds of things he'd seen Ardith do. There were no rumors of miraculous healing, or passing unseen among animals, or causing plants to grow rapidly.
Ziedon also tried to get a feel for local customs and traditions. These were mostly religious in nature, and Korisca was unusually inept in that area for a Morenthian. Part of this was that her lack of a singing voice had made it difficult for her to participate in religious activities, which were usually highly musical. The rest, Ziedon suspected, was that, as a common thief, she was less prone to spend time in the House than a more law-abiding citizen.
There was one very predictable prophesy, that one day, the Morenthians would destroy the Andrithans, and bring the world back into its proper state.
Kreemon walked in as Korisca was talking, and then he joined Ziedon in prodding her with questions. Kreemon had spent more time in Maelbourg than Ziedon had, but the strange town was still a mystery to him.
Finally, night came. Forgolon stayed away all day, and, when it didn't look like he was going to show up early in the evening either, Ziedon, Kreemon and Korisca decided it was time for their nighttime adventures.
Ziedon put on Kreemon's dark clothes, silenced boots, and makeup; not Forgolon's disguise. Then he snuck out of the brewery, and sent Tah'iera out above him as an aerial scout, to warn him of danger if whatever alley he happened to be near had priests in it.
In this manner, Ziedon slowly made his way to the House. Then, no longer needing help, he sent Tah'iera to the wall to assist Kreemon and Korisca.
The center of town was nearly as quiet as the rest, despite the House of Morenth. Subdued men and women went in and out of the bathhouses and Purification Rooms, and, of course, the House itself. The faint sound of singing wafted out through the front door in an uneven rhythm as it opened and closed, opened and closed. It was accompanied by a mild smell of perfume from the bathhouses.
Seeing the people entering and leaving the House, even at this late hour, gave Ziedon a moment's pause. Finally, he made a decision. He waited until someone approached from the outside to enter the House, then cast a spell and disappeared from sight. Using the old man's footsteps to mask his own, Ziedon followed into the House.
The inside of the House was a sight few non-Morenthians had ever seen. While most remnants of the religion had been utterly obliterated, Maelbourg, and its temple, had remained almost untouched, and over the past few hundred years, there had been no place for charity to go but this great temple.
The severity of the architecture did not diminish its grandeur. The first thing Ziedon saw upon entering made him stop long enough that someone almost tripped over him. Thirty feet ahead, suspended from the ceiling, was a massive iron ring, at least eight feet in diameter. The ring was molded in the shape of three snakes, intricately entangled and carved to life-like perfection. The center was occupied by a goat, with eight legs splayed out in all directions. The eyes of the goat and snakes glowed with a golden shimmer that was almost blinding from the right angle. Ziedon had to look twice to convince himself that the snakes weren't actually living beings of metal, writing around the goat.
The rest of the room was bare. There was no sitting room on the huge, sand-strewn floor, and no furniture along the walls. Nothing but the massive Sign of Morenth hung from the heavy oak beams of the ceiling… except one thing, and Ziedon almost missed it. Suspended just barely out of view above the door were three covered lanterns, their light focused by mirrors to create the glowing effect on the Sign of Morenth's eight eyes. So it was fake, but it was the most impressive, imposing fake Ziedon had ever seen.
Ziedon stepped out of the way and shook his head clear. There was no time to waste. What would these Morenthians say if they saw him appear suddenly out of nowhere in the entrance hall of their House?
Ziedon reviewed Forgolon's directions in his mind, and set off for the library, keeping his footsteps as quiet as possible, and staying close to groups of people when he could.
At the end of the entrance hall was the sanctuary, from which sounds of the Evening Song emerged. Quite nice, if one enjoyed religious music. It was haunting in its minor key, with forceful bursts of sound at irregular intervals, when Ziedon had to exert great control to avoid jumping.
The sanctuary, however, was not Ziedon's goal. Nor would it have been wise to try and enter. Instead, he went for the side-door which would bring him through two common meeting rooms, and eventually to the library.
There were a dozen people seated at a long table in the first meeting room, a tall, carved bowl in front of each of them, full of liquid. At the head of the table was a priest, preaching on the proper use of bath houses to those assembled. Based on the almost overwhelming smell of perfume in the room, Ziedon doubted that those present were the ideal targets of the speech.
Ziedon slid along the wall as quietly as he could, until he reached the door. It was open just enough for him to squeeze through.
The next meeting room was also occupied. Only four men, two of them priests and all with silver in their hair and beards, sat around the table here. One of the priests had a heavy tome in front of him. The others sat, still and silent, as if listening carefully to something that no one was saying.
Worse than the silence, for Ziedon's sake, was that the door to the next point on Forgolon's map was closed.
Korisca had said the priests could read minds. Ziedon kept his mind as closed as possible, drawing on all of his training and experience to do so. Cautiously, he moved towards the closed door. It opened outward, so maybe he could get through without being noticed. He took another step, and another. Then one of the priests looked in his direction. Ziedon stopped in his tracks and waited until the priest looked back down.
None of the four seated men were facing the door. Hopefully, they were concentrating hard enough on whatever they were doing that they wouldn't notice him. Ziedon took another few steps, until he was standing next to the door. He pushed on it lightly, then a little harder, and it opened a tiny crack.
This time, all four men looked up.
Ziedon reinforced his mental shields as he pushed harder on the door, opening it enough to slip through. Once through the doorway, Ziedon quickly moved to the opposite side of the hallway and away from the door.
The two priests followed. One walked quickly past him, down the hall, while the other closed and secured the door behind him.
Ziedon kept his mind clear, and fell into lock-step behind the priest. Still, whether it was his footsteps or his thoughts, the priest stopped three times to look around, and Ziedon had to hold his breath and wait. “Who's there?” the priest asked on one of those occasions, but Ziedon thought it prudent not to answer.
Finally, the hallway branched, and the priest took the route that led away from the library, heading for a door at the end of a twenty foot long corridor.
Ziedon continued on, quickening his pace now that the priest was gone. He came to a small round room, decorated with abstract depictions of animals being slaughtered by predators, with a spiral staircase that went up and down.
Ziedon descended, his feet, despite being padded, making far too much noise on the stairs. When he got to the bottom, he saw a priest approaching, looking up to see where the noise had come from.
The priest was coming from one of three straight hallways that led out of the circular room, spread out evenly along its circumference. Unfortunately, that way was the way to the library.
Ziedon was becoming obsessive in his mental exercises by this point. If these priests could read minds, he could not afford to let them find him. Concentrating hard in order to think about nothing at all, he crept down the last few stairs. But dividing his concentration between blocking his mind, watching the priest, and descending so carefully, he overstepped, missed the last stair, tripped and fell forward, barely catching himself before landing face-first on the hard floor. Through an impossible boon of luck, however, the priest went into a coughing fit at that very moment that completely obscured the sound of Ziedon's fall.
Cursing himself silently for clumsiness, Ziedon got up and stepped off to the side, away from the incoming priest. He circled the room as the priest entered, taking a peek down each of the hallways. One just led to three closed doors, while another opened into a small room with a table in it. By the time the priest reached the stairs, Ziedon was past him, on his way to the library. He glanced over his shoulder after a bit, just in time to see the priest disappear from sight, up the stairs.
The rest of the walk was uneventful. He followed the hallway to the end, turned right, and followed another hallway to a pair of heavy double doors. He knew from Forgolon's map that, beyond these doors, he would find a small entryway, another staircase, and then the library itself.
Realizing he had only a couple minutes left of his spell, Ziedon pushed on the door. It dragged loudly, and only moved a fraction of an inch. Ziedon took a deep breath and lifted up on the door as he pushed as hard as he could, intent on slipping in before anyone noticed. After lifting it, however, it did not drag at all. Surprised by the speed with which it opened, Ziedon stumbled forward, catching himself only after he'd tumbled half way down the staircase, and scraped his knees and palms on the rough granite steps.
The library was oddly shaped. From the floor, Ziedon could only see a few bookshelves, at least ten feet tall, and a few independent shelves attached haphazardly to the walls. All the shelves were heavily loaded with books.
Three priests appeared from different areas of the library to see where the noise came from.
Ziedon got up and continued down the rest of the stairs as quietly as he could, performing his mental exercises again and again. None of the priests seemed to hear him, but somehow, after some initial discussion, they knew to keep silent. “It might be him,” one whispered.
The library was a maze of shelves, some ten feet high in areas where the ceiling was lofted, others only six where the low ceiling brushed against the point of Ziedon's hood. Ladders leaned against the wall here and there, to assist in reaching the highest shelves.
Ziedon avoided the priests and went straight to the bookshelf he was looking for. Pulling the books out as quietly as possible, his nervous fingers still managed to fumble and drop one on the floor.
“Over there,” he heard the priests say. Before he could pick it up, all three of them were looking at it.
Ziedon crouched down, took the book, and slipped it between his legs. By the time he got up, he was surrounded. Or at least, the book hovering two feet off the ground was surrounded. Then he renewed his spell, and the book disappeared.
Now the priests had not only seen the book, but had heard Ziedon's voice. “It's him,” one of the priests said, and all three grabbed at Ziedon's location. The first almost touched him, but, despite one book between his legs and the other in his hand, Ziedon was able to twist out of the way. The second missed entirely, misjudging Ziedon's location.
The third, however, found Ziedon, and wrapped his arms around him.
The time for subtlety was over. Ziedon let the book slide out between his legs, simultaneously dropping the other book. Though he tried to make it land flat, the priest's struggle to keep a hold on Ziedon made it fly out at an angle and land on its spine. A cloud of dust rose as the binding broke, and the book lay open in two parts on the floor. Some of the ancient pages folded and cracked under the weight, and little bits of yellowed paper flew into the air.
But there was no time to mourn over the book. Clenching his teeth and flexing his neck, Ziedon drove his forehead into the priest's nose. Blood splattered, and the priest lost his grip, his hands going for his face. Ziedon pushed away from the priest as he faded into visibility. Hoping his sudden appearance would confuse the priests, Ziedon reached into a pouch.
The priests, however, knew what to expect. Each one made a grab, even the one with the bloody nose. Only the one on Ziedon's left got a hold. “Get help,” he said, and the priest to Ziedon's right ran off.
Ziedon kneed the priest between the legs and shoved him into the other priest. This kept them both away long enough that he could cast a spell and toss what he was holding at their faces. As the powders left his grasp, they burst into vivid, clashing colors, but a fine show was all the effect the spell had this time. When the light faded, the priests blinked a few times, and then continued their assault. However, Ziedon was easily able to dodge their grabs and get a few feet of distance between himself and them.
“You are unworthy to enter into the House of Morenth,” one of them said, drawing a dagger. “He condemns you to death and an eternity of suffering.”
Ziedon's hands moved rapidly as he backed away from the two. “Don't you want to know why the Ardithians sent me here?” He completed the spell, trying to enchant one of the priests.
“The Andrithans we are forced to allow to reside in this town have no powers such as yours,” he said, slashing out clumsily with the dagger. But as Ziedon stepped out of the way of the dagger, he fell right into the arms of the other priest.
Frustrated, Ziedon stomped on the instep of the priest, and when he was free, he slipped to the side as the other priest lunged forward with his dagger through the space Ziedon had vacated. It was all the priest could do to avoid striking his fellow by accident. But before Ziedon knew it, he was grabbed yet again by the first priest. This happened several more times before Ziedon was finally able to make another attempt to enchant the knife-wielding priest. Again it failed, which was evident by the knife-wound in his left arm, so Ziedon changed tactics.
After getting the priests to stumble over each other once again, Ziedon took a few steps back and cast yet another spell. His hand glowed with a familiar blue – familiar to Ziedon, but totally alien to the priests, whose eyes widened. Ziedon made a swipe at one of them, and missed. But the next time he was grabbed, he would be ready.
The knife-wielder slashed out, cutting Ziedon in almost exactly the same place as before. A spell protecting the necromancer shimmered in the light, but the knife still did some damage.
Ziedon's next attack struck true, and the priest cried out in pain as the blue light traveled up his arm to his chest and head, and then faded, leaving him pale and panting. A new priest arrived just in time to witness this supernatural attack.
Now hesitant to get too close, the first two priests made half- hearted attempts to attack, and both missed. But when they saw reinforcements arriving, their resolve strengthened.
With Ziedon's second attack, the knife-wielding priest fell quivering to the ground, but the new priest drew a knife, and the other one grabbed Ziedon yet again.
Ziedon's stomach dropped as he heard reinforcements arriving from outside the library. “How did something so easy become so complicated?” he thought as his mind raced for a solution. “I certainly can't allow myself to be caught,” he thought, and with that a plan crystallized.
First, he had to get away from these priests. Ziedon turned so that the priest holding him was in the path of the knife-wielding priest. Then he easily touched the one holding him, causing the priest to gasp as his life energy was drawn from him. But still he held on. Worse, the other priest was able to maneuver around and slash at Ziedon. And worse still, Ziedon found his arm caught in a lock when he tried to squirm away from the knife, preventing him from using his spell again. Then four new priests came into view.
Now was the time for desperation. Ziedon twisted around, causing pain to shoot up his arm, but freeing it. Still in the priest's grasp, Ziedon grabbed him by the throat. The priests' arms flailed in an involuntary spasm, and his legs gave out.
Ziedon hurried away from the five priests still standing, but two caught up with him. One slashed at his left arm, and the other stabbed him in the small of the back. With that stab, Ziedon's magical armor flashed, and then fizzled into nothing, leaving him unprotected.
But all he'd needed was to get free for a few seconds. Leaving a trail of blood behind him, Ziedon ran just a little further, chanting the words to a new spell. His form blurred and shifted, and his legs blended together as his running slowed. Within seconds, he was nothing but a cloud of translucent gas.
Ziedon drifted slowly across the floor, as the priests bunched together, chanting prayers to Morenth meant to banish spirits. One stabbed his dagger at Ziedon, but both the weapon and his arm just swept harmlessly through. Inch by inch, Ziedon floated up to the ceiling, and hovered over a nearby bookshelf.
The priests were helpless to do anything. Some resorted to prayer, others to angry curses. In the back, one priest spoke quietly to another. All of these voices came to Ziedon echoed and muffled, as if there was a wall of cotton between him and some great chamber.
Ziedon paused. As a cloud of mist, he could squeeze into small places with ease, but he needed to be able to fit on top of the bookshelf in his natural form, and to do that, he would have to push off the ancient, heavy books beneath him without falling into the crowd of priests. While he positioned himself as best he could, the priest in the back ran out of the library, and three more entered.
Finally satisfied, Ziedon coalesced into his normal form, rolling away from the books so that they fell instead of him. Some of the ancient, fragile tomes burst as they struck the floor six feet below, scattering pages and dust everywhere. The heavy wooden bookshelf groaned with Ziedon's added weight, but the shelf held.
Ziedon let out a sigh of relief as he pulled out one of his mouse skulls in the cramped area between the bookshelf and the ceiling. Bunching his cloak up in his hand, Ziedon held the skull as if it were the most delicate object in the world, and cast a dangerous, life- draining spell upon it.
By then, the priests were clustered below, their eyes turned upward as they marveled at Ziedon's latest transformation, but they quickly gathered their wits. “Get a ladder!” one said. Another tried to climb the bookshelf, and two of the tallest tried to reach their arms over the top to stab at Ziedon. Then Ziedon tossed the skull into the crowd.
Ziedon raised an arm up to protect his face as one of the priests in the back reflexively caught the small object in his hand. Instantly, his hand exploded in a bright flash of violet light, which expanded in all directions. Bits of bone from the tiny skull flew throughout the library. Some struck Ziedon but were blocked as if he wore a suit of impregnable armor.
Ziedon did not watch the results of the explosion. He did not see the priests' features become pale and gaunt as they withered away. He felt rather than saw the nearest priest fall backwards off the bookshelf, a look of terror in his eyes as his life was sucked out of him. But when Ziedon finally removed his arm and looked down, the bodies of priests were everywhere. A few were still breathing irregularly, but even those were unconscious and dying.
Ziedon carefully climbed down the bookshelf, breaking through one worm-eaten shelf but catching himself and only damaging a couple of the books. Then, with a sense of urgency as the explosion would bring more priests, Ziedon gathered up the two books he'd come for and put them in his backpack.
Listening intently, Ziedon did not hear anyone coming, so he took a moment to look around the library. Now that he wasn't rushed, he noticed that one of the shelves held only a single book on a stand with candles on either side. Estimating that this book had some significance, Ziedon took it and stuffed it into his now heavy backpack with the others. Then he cast a spell to become invisible.
He listened again, and it seemed that he still had some time, so Ziedon chanted a simple spell taught to him by his first master, that allowed him to sense magical auras around him. Concentrating on the spell, he first looked at the bodies of the priests. Then he walked up and down the chaotically arranged aisles of the library, looking at this book or that, hoping to find something.
Just at the edge of his perception, in the far corner of the library, Ziedon heard a sound. A faint, high-pitched tune, like one of the prayers to Morenth, but sung by bees. He sought out the sound, and saw a fait blue light coming out of one the oldest and most decrepit books. He also heard footsteps in the distance.
Ziedon lifted the book gingerly and cast a spell, again spreading into mist, which this time was totally transparent since he had already been invisible. He hastened to the door, and found an incredibly old, white-bearded priest standing there waiting for him, a harsh, stern look etched into his face from a lifetime of knowing no other way to shape his face. The priest looked up when the invisible mist approached, and stared in Ziedon's direction. Then he closed the library door, locking both of them inside.
Ziedon hovered around the edge of the door, looking for even the smallest crack through which he could escape. “Spirit of evil,” the priest said in a surprisingly clear, strong voice. “You have violated the House of Morenth, so your suffering will be eternal. The murder of these priests will not go…”
The priest's voice faded into the distance as Ziedon slipped under the door and slowly made his escape.