Ningh sat in his usual chair at his usual table during his typical drinking hour, or hours, rather. Several empty mugs sat upon the tabletop and he bemoaned to himself about the legacy he still so desperately wanted to leave behind. He held the vial of Ceean's blood; blood that his detection spell had found no magic in. "If only I could get more o' her blood now that she's out in the world adventurin' with that oddly dressed fella," The wizard whispered to his empty mug. "Bring me another round, won't ye?" he called out to the bartender.
The sassy lady banged three mugs down in front of the wizard and said, "Here's the one ye ordered, and the other two ye'll be wantin' soon after. I've a full house ta serve, so I've decided to serve me ale in batches."
Ningh silently nodded and shooed her away with a wave of his hand, dismissing her from his thoughts as soon as she was out of his sight. His thoughts returned to the vision he had seen of Ceean and that red-bearded dwarf with the humongous sword. They had been in the woods, but his scrying had detected the sound of running water nearby the two as they talked about some human named Darva. The wizard slammed his fist onto the table, spilling some of his ale in the process. "Gods damn ye," he muttered. "Why did that bastard have ta see me floatin' eye?"
When the dwarf with the big blade had popped Ningh's magical scrying eye with a thrown camp knife, the pain had been transferred to the wizard. He still remembered that shock, even though it lay almost a year in the past. And despite spending a good portion of that year searching for the duo again, Ningh had not been able to find them a second time. Through the brief vision he glimpsed, and the information gathered from patrons and tavern staff alike, Ningh had formulated a theory.
This red-bearded dwarf that dressed like a human jester was here the night Ningh's goons had come to rob Ceean of her coin. She had been ready to flee the area, probably driven by whatever magic was in her blood, and the wizard couldn't allow her to leave before he figured out how to use that magic for the benefit of all dwarves. Well, and to make his mark in history as the greatest dwarven magic user ever known. Someone had told Ningh, during one of his many drunken interrogations over the past year, that the dwarf with the huge sword had gone up to Ceean's room for a fuck. They never came back down, according to everyone who was here that night.
So now Ningh had decided that it was the mysterious male that had killed all of his hired thugs and not Ceean. There was just no way she could have done it, even with the magic in her blood, since that supposedly only worked on giantkin. But why did they flee afterward? That is what still puzzled the wizard. Why kill some men and dwarves in obvious self-defense, and the secretly run away in the dark of night? He was missing some vital piece of information. But Ningh hoped to find it tonight.
Recently, it had come to Ningh's attention that Burton, the head of night security at the Grinding Wheel Tavern, had been here that night, as well. And, according to the rumor Ningh had heard, this Burton had disposed of the bodies the following morning when they had been found. The wizard had yet to speak to the head of security because he had guessed, incorrectly it turned out, that Burton would have no information. The head of security couldn't know about the murders, or he would have reported them, as he always does when someone dies at the Grinding Wheel. But no report was ever filed. Ningh only knew his men were dead because the tracking spells he had put on them led the wizard to their final resting places, scattered downstream along the banks of the river that passed beside the tavern. And someone had told Ningh that Burton was the one who had put those bodies into the river.
Burton stood against the far wall, eyes scanning the main room for any signs of trouble. Ningh caught the rugged dwarf's eye with a wave and beckoned him to come over. The head security officer hurriedly stepped to the wizard's side, as he knew to show respect to any magic user. The consequences of not doing so were not likely to be pleasant.
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The Gods That Keep ThemFantasy
A foul-mouthed warrior with a sword almost too big to be used. A halfbreed former prostitute with a secret power flowing through her veins. A wizard who wants to harvest and use that power. A mysterious chef who has never lost a fight. An innocent m...