ConspiracyMature

 

"What do you think?" Hatchet asked as he and The Captain made their way up the stairs, safely out of danger of Noman overhearing. 

"We have a Summoner who gave himself up, claims not to summon demons, and says he did everything in service of an old god." The Captain shook his head. "Add that to the fact that he claims to belong to an order that disappeared a hundred years ago and I'm not sure what to think."

"It's a hell of a story," Hatchet agreed. "But the fact that he doesn't have the stone makes me suspicious."

"You think he's working with somebody?" The Captain asked. "Somebody he passed the stone to?"

"It's not too much to believe that he gave himself up to throw us off the trail while his accomplice completes whatever they set out to do," Hatchet said. 

"I guess we'll know for sure if there are any other murders," Olian commented. The three of them walked out into the Ivory Tower's open courtyard and formed a small circle. 

"Unless they were done with the murders," Hatchet thought. "It may be that they've moved on to another part of their plan."

"What else might there be?" The Captain asked. He looked to Olian for an answer and the mage shook his head.

"I'm still not sure what all those symbols were about," he told them. "If I can decipher them they might give us a clue as to whether or not there's something else going on."

"Do it," The Captain ordered. "I'm not much for trusting criminals, but I get the feeling that Noman was right. Something about all this says there's more to come."

The group broke up and went their separate ways. Olian stopped just outside the Tower's gates, fidgeting as he tried to decide where to go next. His gut told him to go straight back to his shop. He'd be safe there, and he could study the stone in peace. If it was truly the gift of a goddess, as Noman said it was, then it was an artifact of unimaginable power. And if he could unlock the secret of that power, learn how to wield it... 

But even as he thought about locking himself in his workshop his mind told him it was a bad idea. The stone had controlled demons. It had done terrible things while in Noman's possession. What if it wasn't a gift from a goddess, but cursed with some foul magic? What if it had been sent by demons instead of Airea? Using it, or even attempting to understand the power it held, could have dire consequences.

He took a step down the street and stopped, a counterargument already forming. There were already demons on the loose. Noman said he hadn't summoned them, so where had they come from? What if the worst had already happened, and demons were moving freely into the world? The stone, even if it wasn't a gift from Airea, could be a great weapon against them if he could learn its secrets. 

Mind gripped by indecision, Olian's hand came to rest over where the stone sat under his robes. It felt cold against his chest despite the warmth of the day. He drew a long, slow breath and looked up at the sky as argument and counterargument warred with one another. At last he sighed heavily and looked down. There was only one thing to do. He set off down the street with renewed purpose.

When he arrived at Sarrus' house he knocked firmly on the door. "Be home, man," Olian muttered to himself. He knocked again, louder this time, and was surprised when the door swung upon under his fist. Sarrus stood glaring at him, but his glare turned to an expression of surprised happiness when he realized who he was looking at. 

"Olian!" he exclaimed, stepping aside so Olian could enter. "Come in, come in. It's been a long time, friend. We missed you at the last meeting. What have you been up to?"

"Looking into things for the Watch," Olian said. "I know you know, Sarrus. Close the door." 

Sarrus frowned, but closed the door. "All right then, lad. If this is to be all business then yes, I know what you've been up to. So what brings you here, eh? Finally remembered you're a member of the Guild and not the Watch?"

"I've never forgotten that," Olian said. "Are you alone?" He asked, glancing suspiciously towards other rooms. 

"Of course I am," Sarrus said. "What's got into you? What's wrong?"

"The Watch captured the Summoner," Olian revealed. 

"Damn," Sarrus looked surprised. "I was really hoping we'd get to him first. How bad was it?"

"Not bad at all," Olian said. "He gave himself up."

"What, really?" Sarrus asked. "Are you sure it's really him?"

"He said he was committing murder on behalf of the goddess Airea, carrying out some sort of plan," Olian said, ignoring Sarrus' question. "He said the stone he carried was a gift from her, that it could control the demons."

"Olian," Sarrus said, "Lucan told me how you haven't been sleeping. How you're a little on edge. Maybe you should go home and lie down. Whatever this stone is-"

"I have it," Olian said abruptly. Sarrus looked at him in disbelief. Olian pulled the stone from his robes. It cast a soft green glow across the entire room and Sarrus' eyes got wide. Steam rose gently from it's surface, curling up between Olian's fingers and dissipating in the air. 

"This..." Sarrus reached hesitantly for the stone, but pulled his hand back without actually touching it. "This is an unequaled opportunity," Sarrus said, grey eyes eerily reflecting the light from the stone. "An artifact sent by a goddess? One that can compel demons? Olian, who else knows you have this? Have you told the Watch?"

"No," Olian replied. "Nobody knows. I found it at Konrad's estate and... I don't know why I didn't tell anybody. You think it's really from Airea?"

"If it is we can't afford to ignore it," Sarrus said. "If it is, that means she's chosen us. Think, Olian. After so many years of the gods ignoring the world a goddess may have chosen us. Chosen you. We've been looking for a way to make magic relevant again. Just imagine what we could do with the patronage of a goddess!" 

"But what if it's not?" Olian asked hesitantly. "What if it's from a demon, or tainted by some foul magic?"

"I'm confident the Guild can handle anything untoward. And if it's not from the goddess," Sarrus regarded the stone thoughtfully. "If not it still has power, Olian. Power that we can use to our advantage. Either way we can come out of this better than before. Study the stone. You've already got a head start on understanding what the Summoner was trying to accomplish. Find out everything you can about the stone and what he was trying to do with it. And Olian? Keep this between us. Just you and me, understand?"

"Of course," Olian said. "Just us."

The End

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