Chapter 8 - SSHHH!!! I'm Sneaking Up On You

Idae approached the manor in as stealthy a manner as he could. He knew that his teammates were exhausted (he certainly was), and Lavinia and Kora were probably sleeping as well. However, being currently deaf himself, he had no way to know that the twig he had cracked beneath his heel had been so loud, alerting Tolin, the Jade Raven on watch.

Tolin turned in the direction of the noise, prepared to raise an alarm, but when he realized it was Idae returning from his excursion, he called out, “Idae, welcome back! Why are you sneaking around like that?” When he received no response, he went to inform Viselys.

Viselys, Ornrik and Saris were still in the foyer examining their handiwork and passing the time while waiting for word from Idae. They were mildly surprised when Tolin entered, though his relaxed manner implied that he was not bringing a warning with him. He spoke directly to Viselys, “I just wanted to let you know that Idae is back. I called out to him, but he ignored me.”

“Where is he,” Viselys inquired.

“He was heading around back of the house,” Tolin replied with a shrug.

Viselys nodded, “Probably going in through the window of his room. Thanks, Tolin.” Tolin turned to return to his post.

“Why is he sneaking in?” Ornrik asked.

Viselys could think of several reasons, but he didn’t really have the energy or desire to list them, “Idae is a strange one. He’ll come down when he’s ready.”

“I’m going up there,” Ornrik stated as he started for the stairs.

Viselys was about to say something but, again, decided it wasn’t worth it.

Saris rolled his eyes, “Idae’s not the only one.”

Upstairs at the door to the room that Idae used while staying at Vanderboren Manor, Ornrik knocked, “Idae, I hear you’re back.” There was no answer. He knocked again, louder, “Idae, what’s going on?” When he still received no answer, he opened the door and proceeded in.

Idae jumped and reached for the rapier that Lavinia had loaned him. He knew that he wouldn’t have been able to hear if anyone was knocking, but he also found it shocking that anyone in the house would simply enter his quarters uninvited – with or without him being present.

“Ornrik?!” he said, a bit too loudly, “What are you on about, just walking into a bloke’s room?”

“Didn’t you hear me knocking?” the dwarf replied.

‘Not the point,’ Idae thought, but what he actually said was, “No. I didn’t. I’ve lost my hearing. I’m deaf!” He pointed to his ears, just in case he was unclear.

Ornrik examined Idae’s ears, “I don’t see any physical damage. How did it happen?”

Between the fatigue and the annoyance of this invasion of his privacy, Idae was quickly losing patience with the dwarf. “You know, I’ll tell you and everyone else the whole story when I come down, and I’ll be down when I’m ready.” He moved to the door to close it, and he didn’t care if it was in the dwarf’s face or backside.

Before Ornrik was halfway down the stairs, he was stopped by the most bizarre sound from behind him. In a loud, obnoxious, and slightly ethnic voice came the words, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” He turned to see Idae emerging from his room with a birdcage in one hand and some books in the other. When he realized that Idae was coming pretty fast, with the bottom of the cage right at a dwarf’s nose level, he turned back in the direction he had been going and waddled down at double speed.

The squawks from the bird got everyone’s attention, and they released several annoyed questions in Idae’s direction.

“Forget it, he can’t hear you. He’s deaf,” Ornrik said.

In a too-loud voice, Idae said, “Sorry, guys, I can’t hear you. I’m deaf.”

“What happened?” Viselys asked, also in a loud voice, but more to be heard over the parrot than for Idae’s benefit.

Saris started to look for something to write with, but Idae had gotten the point of the question. He recounted the story of his trip to Diamondback’s house and the incident with the bag.

When Idae described the exploding rock, Ornrik nodded, “That’s why I don’t see any physical damage. It’s a magical effect. It should wear off shortly.”

Idae stared at the dwarf’s lips as he spoke. Sill in a loud voice, he said, “Yes, actually, I’d love something to eat. I’m famished. Thank you.”

Ornrik just looked at the others then back at Idae, confused.

“No crumbs on the sofa! ” The bird shouted. Saris started to draw his rapier.

All of a sudden, Kora arrived with a turkey and cheese sandwich on a plate in one hand and a blanket in the other. She handed the sandwich to Idae, and draped the blanket over the birdcage, which fell silent.

“Thank you very much, Kora,” Idae said. Realizing as he spoke that his hearing was coming back, the words grew softer towards the end of the sentence. He pressed a finger behind his ear and moved his jaw in an exaggerated flex. He also noted that the water-clock on the wall read 1:32; a fact that, if necessary, Ornrik could use later to calculate back, based on his knowledge of the arcane, the exact time that the explosion occurred.

Kora nodded her bed-mussed head, said wearily, “It was no trouble, I was up anyway,” then turned to leave.

Somewhat embarrassed, Idae accepted the “out” she’d given him, “Yeah, right. Sure you were.”

Then Idae proceeded to explain what else he had found and seen, handing over the books History of Sasserine and The Defeat of Kyuss: The Age of Worms to Saris, the two potions to Ornrik, and the notes on the guards and the portraits to Viselys. While Ornrik identified the potions and Viselys read the notes, Saris tossed the books aside and had a seat, while Idae ran back to his room. When he returned, he was dragging a roughly dog-sized skeleton.

“I have no idea why I bothered to bring this back, but I was in a hurry,” Idae said. Nobody looked particularly close at the remains, and Saris was drawing a breath to berate the rogue for bringing the dead bones into the house, but Idae interrupted him. In a burst of insight, Idae snapped his fingers and pointed, “Guttugger! This is Rowyn Kellani’s pet which we killed twice!”

Not wanting his breath to be wasted, Saris said, somewhat sarcastically, “Why would Diamondback be keeping the corpse of the Lady Lotus's pet in her Bag of Holding?”

Now Viselys took a closer look, “I believe you are correct, Idae. I don’t know why Diamondback had this corpse, but it does provide some important links. We already knew from Diamondback’s own admission that she was hired by Heldreth Kellani to kill us. Since she had Guttugger, that also links her to Rowyn which, although it doesn’t prove anything, it does infer that mother and daughter are indeed working together.”

At the mention of Diamondback being hired by Heldreth, Idae remembered the whole reason he had gone out in the first place. He took a pouch from his belt and handed it to Viselys, “Right, and here’s the blood money. 300 gold pieces. It’s all there.”

Viselys took the pouch and looked inside. Indeed it was filled with glittering gold. Uncertain what to do with it, he looked to the other three, “So, we split it four ways?”

Idae started back towards the stairs, “Nah, three. You guys keep it. It’s easier to split that way.”

“Wait, Idae, what do you think we should do now? Should we go back to the Kellani manor?” Viselys began.

Idae paused a moment, “I don’t know what you guys are going to do, but I’m going to bed. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves, though.” And with that he climbed the stairs and disappeared into his room.

Saris pushed the brim of his hat up off of his face, “Shadow Boy’s right. We should hit the sack and pick this conversation up in the morning. Besides, I gotta get up early tomorrow.”

Upstairs, Idae tacked a note to the outside of his bedroom door at about waist level and disappeared back inside. The note read:

Knock first.
If there’s no answer,
go away!

Continue to Book 3 - The Sea Wyvern's Wake...

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