Chapter 3

Oren was on the road headed back to town when he heard a rustle in the brush.  He got ready to make a run depending on what hid there. Out emerged a small kitten, riding on its back was something resembling a small man but was encased in a green fire, a forest sprite.  In a high pitched voice he heard from the cat, “Oren, I will find you.  You have the pieces of my talisman and you will rebuild it for me”

Oren was petrified with fright and confusion.

The sprite jumped from the kitten and ran at Oren.  The kitten, free from its control, bolted.  Upon reaching Oren, the sprite ran up his leg.  Oren kicked to get it off, with no luck.  It ran up his torso into his backpack.  Oren threw off the backpack.  The bag jumped around for a bit then stopped.

Oren grabbed a stone from the trail, and walked to the bag.  He slowly opened the bag to find the book from Lord Auben glowing green.  It was then he thought about why the sprite did not try to control him.  Could they even possess objects, he pondered.

Oren woke up sweating in his bed, a rock in hand.  His bag was thrown across the room.  The bedsheets were twisted around his arms and legs like he had fought them for control of the bed. His father was at the door to the room with the most puzzled of looks.

Oren went over to his bag, looked inside, and everything was there and in as good of condition as could be from throwing it across the room. He handed the rock to his father and relayed the dream as best as he remembered.  It was a more vivid recollection than the average dream.  His father meanwhile was examining the rock that had appeared.

“Well,” Flynn said, after taking it all in, “I do not think that your spirit this morning was a chance encounter.  Nor do I think you are going to hear any more from it.”

“What do you mean?”

His mother entered, having been woken by the commotion.

“You know of enchanters.  There is a lesser known field of study amongst them that specializes in directing spirits through dreams.  Usually these spirits are directed as a stealth way to send messages.  The enchanter whispers a message and the spirit carries it to its destination.  However, when they are directed at someone with our ability, the interactions can be more complex. They can be sent as assassins or as parasites to block all other spirits from contacting us.  As a parasite they slowly gain a hold on us directing our actions.  This one however I think was meant to find you.  No idea for who though…” he trailed off.

His mother went over to his bag and sifted through it.  She pulled out the Lord’s journal, “This was recently touched by a sprite.  Definitely a forest sprite, held in servitude to an Enchanter.  It can’t escape from the world of dreams back to this one, try as it might…and it is trying hard.  It doesn’t know the master’s name, but then again, if it did it could free itself.  But you must be rid of this book, send it somewhere far away from here.  Do not read any more of it, just be rid of it…but keep the stone.”

Oren looked to her eyes; they were clouded over again. Was this actually true or was she of lost in her own mind again?  He took the stone back from his dad and examined it himself.  It was a dark stone, maybe obsidian?  Where had this come from?

The following morning, Oren was left wondering what it was he should do with Lord Auben’s journal. It didn’t have any additional information on his grandfather and according to his mother he should not just toss it in with the rubbish, but should be rid of it.

He ran the idea of burning the book past his parents but was told it was no good, as the fire would release the spirit binding and would act as a bright beacon to whomever hurry along whoever was in search of it.

Oren was off to his shop as soon as the dawn light broke the horizon.  He didn’t fear the spirits today; they were not responsible for these troubles.  From what his mom had discerned the spirit had latched to the book after it had encountered Oren.  This may be its ultimate goal or an unexpected result as of the dreaming last night.  Either way, its presence would keep any others from approaching.

He then started wondering if there would be a sprite on his path like the one from his dream.  Normally, they were weak creatures physically, but once they touched your skin, they could control your body.  After they finished manipulating you to do whatever suited their whim, they would more than likely kill you.  Some enchanters had talismans to protect against such control, but it didn’t stop sprites from removing the talisman from you.  He brushed off the silly idea of such a creature being this close to the city.  They didn’t like human cities, besides, there were usually wards set on the edge of town to keep them at bay in the physical world.

Oren thought it weird that there were no birds on the way in to his shop, after their frequent sightings yesterday.  The path to town was rather empty too.  It wasn’t until he saw a man running from town down the path at him that he encountered another person.  Out of breath, he stopped next to Oren.  Oren recognized him but the name eluded him. “Oren, there was a murder in the graveyard last night.” He took a deep breath still winded, “A Maiden of Neffian, the guards are looking for you. The other woman traveling with her said she was with you all day.” He finally caught his breath and slowed down, “Doesn’t sound like you are in trouble, but you should know what you are stepping into before they talk to you.”

“Thanks, Cyril”, the name finally came back to Oren.  Cyril had grown up with Oren in Aleto.  They had been decent friends as kids but as adults they had gone separate paths.  He had gone on to take over his father’s bar in his late teens which left him little time for social life with Oren as they aged.  “Do you know who on the guard is looking for me?”

“I think it is Bover.  Cid is usually off by now.”

Oren frowned, “Bover has morning work again?  Never is too happy to be up at these hours.  Oh well, I had best go to the shop and meet him there.  It’s where he will be waiting; the man is too lazy to come outside the gates to get me himself.”  Oren had realized this was no friendly warning about the city guard looking for him.  Bover had sent Cyril to find him. Same hierarchy from when they were kids.  He figured there was some guy running out to his house with the same story in case he was there.  Cyril probably knew better than to reply he wasn’t in the town guard or an errand boy.

Town guard was good to you as long as you were good to them.  You didn’t pay in money.  With them it was just give what was asked for and they would back you when a pickpocket stole your money or a vagrant needed to be removed from your shop.  You snubbed them or were too busy to be a runner and the next time a drunk was picking fights in your bar you were on your own cleaning up messes and bodies.

Oren took a little longer than needed to get to the shop.  He felt no urgency to resolve the guard’s issues and though sad the maiden had died, there was a little relief that he would not have to endure her voice asking for books again.  He rounded the last corner to find Bover standing there shiny chest plate and all waiting with two of his men.  This was going to take some time.

“Good Morning, Oren.” his deep voice matched his calling. “Need to have a word with you about a patron from yesterday.  Hurry up and open the shop so we can have a pleasant word inside. ”

“Good morning to you Bover,” Oren returned in a genial tone. “Certainly have time for the boys of the guard.”  He opened the door, “Come in, make yourself comfortable.  Don’t mind my tinkering about with fires.  Feel free to ask me your questions.”

“You had a Maiden of Neffian in here yesterday, what was she here for?”

“Books on enchanters,” he replied stepping away from a now lit fireplace. “Wanted everything I had.  Never said why.  Had a bunch of notes with her when she left.”

“Nothing much left now if they were still on her.  Body burned, probably by whoever knifed her.  She say where she was headed when she left?”

“Not a word,” he decided to omit the conversation on the way out.

“Bah, you’re no help.”

“Sorry, she did say she was heading back here today. You know, for more research.”

“Right, well thanks for your time.”

And with that they departed.  Oren started wondering if this had anything to do with wards being place on his grandfather’s grave.  But he was quickly consumed with what to do with the book.

How to get rid of a book?  A problem that Oren had no experience with, and struggled with like anyone who spent their life collecting them.  He could just toss it in with the normal daily rubbish or out in a latrine but that would still leave it in town and bring someone to him directly.  He could always just turn over whatever it was this person was looking for to them and be done with the whole matter.  Yet the way his mom had talked, that may be a less than desirable action.

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