Table of Contents
Woot! Table of Contents, second part, and everything!
Her voice was soft, and yet it filled the tent in which she sat. Blake nodded, glancing around before sinking to his knees, balancing carefully on the embroidered cushions that filled the floor of the tent. Beside him, Tysa did the same with perfect grace and aplomb, as though she had been expecting the invitation from the moment she saw the tent.
Well, maybe she had.
Terrek took up a position by the door, and bowed to the woman sitting across from them. â€œMiss Sharron, these two haveâ€¦ ghost problems. I think we might be in a position to help them.â€ He couldnâ€™t quite keep a sour look off his face, and the young woman quirked a slight smile as she considered the scene before her.
â€œI see. Intriguing, Terrek.â€ She turned her attention to Blake, clinical and reserved, but with the faintest hint of warmth. â€œPlease, explain.â€
He did, starting with the disappearances and working his way through the evidence that Tysa and he had found, leaving out only the exact methods by which they had gathered the information. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Terrek frowning thoughtfully, but Sharron merely nodded understandingly. When he had finished, she sat back thoughtfully, and then smiled again, her eyes almost shadows in the tentâ€™s dim light. â€œMost interesting.â€ She stood, holding the small table that sat in front of her for support, and Terrek stepped forwards to take her arm. â€œTerrek, I think that we should see this inn.â€ Reaching down, she picked up a pair of amulets, handing one to Terrek. â€œWe may not need these, butâ€¦â€
â€œBetter safe.â€ Terrek grunted, looking towards Blake. â€œWhatâ€™s your angle in all this, Marcaeus? You never seemed the sort to go randomly looking for other peoplesâ€™ trouble â€“ you made enough of your own.â€
â€œIâ€™m simply wounded.â€ Blake clasped one hand to his heart. â€œIâ€™ll have you know, other peoplesâ€™ trouble is infinitely more interesting than my own.â€ He glanced sidelong at Tysa, who chuckled softly, and the two stood. â€œAs a matter of fact, I am getting paid to solve this, but itâ€™s really a pittance. Couldnâ€™t stand to charge what Iâ€™m capable of earning, you know. Terrible frailty.â€ He winked at Sharron, who just watched him with the same faint smile from before. After a moment, he turned away. â€œAh. Come, Iâ€™ll show you the way.â€
As he walked towards the bar, he couldnâ€™t shake the feeling that she was amused by him â€“ but not in the usual way. He couldnâ€™t quite put his finger on it, but there was something about her that confounded him. The aura of mystery that she was milking, most likely. Pushing it out of his mind, he led the way back to the inn, and Sharron followed, with Terrek escorting her protectively. By the light of the moon, she looked even more ghostly than before, and Blake couldnâ€™t resist prying.
â€œPardon me, madame, but are you feeling well?â€
â€œYes.â€ The word was soft, almost emotionless, and filled with echoes that Blake couldnâ€™t trace. He glanced at Tysa with a raised eyebrow, only to be met by her own confusion. Curiousity warring with discretion, he tried again. â€œAh. Sorry for asking. Itâ€™s justâ€¦ ahâ€¦â€
â€œI know.â€ If possible, this phrase had even less emotion, but the words that followed it, although terse, were packed with enough subtle quirks to warn Blake that he was straying into an emotional minefield. â€œI grew up in a Shadowland.â€ The phrasing did not encourage questions.
â€œAh. Right. Hence the thaumaturgical focus, of course.â€ Blake filed the information away under â€˜discuss laterâ€™, and pressed on. â€œWell, the inn is just over here. If I might ask, are you planning to attempt to contact the deadâ€¦ here?â€
Sharron laughed whispily, and Blake glanced back at her. â€œNot precisely, no. I simply wish to look for resonance. Signs of their presence. It should be sufficient.â€ She looked up at her bodyguard, who nodded once, and the two started forwards. Blake shrugged and followed, ambling towards the door.
Inside, it was warm and cheery, and Blake could almost forget his suspicions â€“ aside from the bartender, a half-dozen servers, and a few patrons, the place was quiet, and the hum of soft conversation filled the room. The bartender strolled up, one hand reaching out to greet the newcomers. â€œWelcome to the â€“â€ He broke off abruptly, staring at Sharron. â€œYou!â€
Terrekâ€™s eyes widened, and his arm whipped out, drawing his sword in a single, smooth motion. Suddenly, somehow, it was full of golden light, and Blake ducked backwards as Terrek slammed the sword through the bartenderâ€™s head. The bartender screamed, an impossible, wailing sound that resonated through Blakeâ€™s bones, and collapsed to the ground. Through his shock, Blake noted that his body was decomposing rapidly. Terrek grabbed Sharron and shoved the door open, shifting to carry her in his arms. â€œWeâ€™re leaving!â€
â€œWhat in the hells?!â€ Blake and Tysa followed Terrek outside at a dead run, almost on instinct. Blake yelled forwards. â€œAll of our investigationsâ€¦ you just killed a man! And what was that light?!â€
â€œHe was already dead.â€ Terrekâ€™s voice was grim. â€œThere was a ghost possessing his corpse.â€ He refrained from further comment.
â€œOh.â€ Blake tested the thought, frowned. â€œWell, then, you destroyed it. Why are we running?â€
Terrek skidded to a halt, setting down Sharron and drawing his sword again. Ahead of them, shapes were advancing out of the gloom. â€œBecause we recognized him, and him us. And he is a minion of a greater enemy. And weâ€™re too late.â€
â€œYou most certainly are.â€ Striding out of the shadows, the man who faced them might have been anyone on the street, if not for the unusual paleness of his face and the dark armour that he wore. Even in the dim night, Blake recognized soulsteel. â€œI am impressed â€“ you stumbled into my little trap far sooner than I expected. I imagined I would have to kill the entire town before you noticed, Sharron.â€ His chuckle rumbled across the street, and the girlâ€™s hands clenched into fists. Blake looked from her to the deathknight, increasingly incredulous.
â€œStill doing Halyxâ€™s bidding? I thought you were supposed to be equals.â€ Her voice was biting, and the manâ€™s face coloured. He snarled, drawing a great soulsteel sword from his belt.
â€œPah! Little jumped-up bitch! You can hardly be expected to understand a proper hierarchy.â€ He turned his attention to Blake and Tysa. â€œAs for you two, you served me well, if unwittingly. Now leave.â€
â€œUh, no?â€ Blake glanced backwards, noting that more creatures were approaching from behind. â€œI donâ€™t recall â€˜work for deathknightâ€™ being on my job offers. Besidesâ€¦â€ He grinned abruptly, and let his anima shine forth. The power of the noonday sun covered the area, and the approaching zombies paused in consternation. â€œThis looks like my kind of job.â€
The deathknight joined Terrek and Sharron in gaping.