Morning came with a small hangover for Oren. It had been years since that much drinking had gone on. He looked over saw he was alone in bed. “Where is Martell?” he thought. He then heard some humming coming from the library area.
“You overslept; your store will not be opening on time.”
“Maybe, what are you looking for in here? More Sprite possessed books?”
“No, I need my blade for killing them. But your bookcase looks clear of them.” Martell removed a book and then tossed it to Oren. “Read that book. It will bring clarity controlling the spirits.” Oren looked down the book was titled Meditations on Umbra. “You have a library that could open up your potential to great things if you read it. Though I am not certain you know all the ancient languages you would need.”
“And you do?”
“I know most of the ones that would be useful, at least to read them. Again, I compensate with other abilities for those that I lack. My knowledge is as strong a weapon as any of my blades.”
Oren’s library was half full of books he had read and the other half books passed on to him from his family. Those he had read or at least tried to had been moved to the store for reference. But his volumes here generally escaped his comprehension or just were so foreign he could not read.
“And are you planning staying here all day Martell?”
“No, I need to investigate the wards on your grandfather’s grave. I need to find out who set them and let them know the business is settled.”
“I will walk you in to town. We need to be alert. I would not put it past last night’s visitors to try something on the way.”
“I could not imagine doing otherwise.”
It was a comfortable morning for a walk. Though they were both alert for the walk to town, the vigilance was unnecessary. They bantered casually on the way to town, with a couple stops by Oren to talk with neighbors along the way. Oren would ask if anyone else had seen the three men on the path last night, but no one had. He would then say something along the lines of speaking to the town guard for a patrol through the area tonight and would move on. Oren was not surprised by the fact no one else saw them, it was late to be on the road. He did get a couple questions about the lady with him, but brushed it off as business related. He knew gossip would follow, but politeness let the questioning end there.
They arrived at Oren’s shop without incident. As he expected, no one had a burning desire to go to his store first thing today. He opened up the door and went in. Martell followed as the two were discussing the duet that had been playing at the Cloak and Frog last night. It was when Oren got to his desk he noticed something amiss. The desk was a mess with papers pulled out from numerous drawers. Several books had been tossed about from the shelves near where he would normally sit.
Martell ran to the side room to see if anything was wrong there as Oren took inventory of his personal space. All looked in order in there, Oren would have to confirm, but the place looked as tidy as she would expect from him. She heard the door open and some people enter in the store. Almost as a reflex she quieted down and hid against the wall. She pulled out her dagger in preparation of what may follow.
“Good morning Oren.” It was an older woman speaking; she had to men with her. Her voice was slightly raspy, sounding weaker than she looked. “I am here on behalf of Lord Casapan. He sent a messenger on ahead who told you, maybe not in the politest of terms, that someone was coming.”
The two men had closed the door behind their entrance and barred it. Oren understood his choices were few. “Yes, I did get message someone was coming. Here to buy something from my collection?”
“Silly man,” her laugh following crackled slightly. “I am here to take what is Caspan’s. Vargas stole many of these books just before Lord Casapan could complete his acquisition from prior owners.”
In the back room, Martell started focusing on her blade. The blade started to have a light glow and a whisper of a hum. If there were no noise they may have heard it, but a room away and conversation were enough to mask it. She could sense that the lady speaking was using a talisman to keep Oren calm. Without the rest of her equipment she was helpless against that. But maybe the blade she wielded would be enough to get them out of this.
“Lord Casapan wants his collection. You are to tell me where the missing books are. As I can already tell, you have sold off a large chunk.”
Against his will and with clarity that baffled him, Oren started recalling the list of people he sold books to. One of the woman’s escorts jotted down what he was reciting. After fifteen books, he stopped.
“No young man, there is more than that missing. Where do you keep them?” Her calm polite manner was starting to shake. Martell could tell the stress of using multiple talismans was taking its toll on her.
It was then that Evie appeared in the room. “Madam you must leave.”
The elder woman looked over at her. “And who are you? This is a private meeting, you need to leave.”
“I think you are the one to leave,” She spoke while starting to waive a stone in the air. “Your talismans are incompatible and it makes you weak.” She then muttered another word and the elder woman bent over in pain.
The two men with her picked her up and quickly departed the store at her demand.
Evie smiled at her son, and then was gone.
Martell came out from the back room. “What was that all about? Also do you know who that was that sent them on their way?”
“I know somewhat. It’s going to take some time to explain. But that was my mother; guess she is still looking out for me.”
“Yeah well, in a way, I did ask her to assist.”
Oren decided now was a good time to come clean about the Scry Sprite and how it may be related to the messenger. Martell took the withholding of the information well, and agreed it would have probably been her reaction. She relayed that she had been the one who reached out to his mother to assist. The blade worked as a way to channel a message. She had used it as a beacon for assistance, though had assumed it would have taken longer for help to come. At some point she would have to let him try it to experience how it worked, though the effect might be different for a channeler.
Having had enough adventure for the morning, Oren decided it best to close up shop. He was going to go talk to his parents after a quick stop to see Cid regarding the patrols. He would meet Martell at the city gates as she had to pack up her belongings and get a message back to the Neffian temple regarding Allison. At Martell’s suggestion, he took down the lamp from the entry way and with her assistance and packed it back in the side room. He would have it moved from here later on. Speed was the plan for Oren. He didn’t want to let himself be ambushed again and was not certain how long it would be till Lord Casapan would send someone else to claim the library.
The two met back at the City gate an hour later. Martell was there dressed as she had been when the two had first met, with the addition of a backpack and bedroll with it. Oren had run his errands, though he was certain Cid would do nothing with the patrol. Oren had been less than happy with his suggestion that maybe if there was reason for the men to patrol all the way out to his place they would consider it. A trio on the road that had done nothing wrong was not a good enough reason.
From there they headed over to Oren’s parents. His dad met them outside the house. “Evie said you would probably come over today. She expected you a little sooner than this though.” The three of them went into the house and for the first time in what Oren could recall his father shut and secured the gate during the day.
Oren’s mom met them in the main sitting area, “Oren so nice of you to stop by. I see you have a new friend.” His mom’s eyes were clear; she was definitely focused on the present. “You know she may have saved your life this morning? I don’t think the customers you had in there were keen on just having books.”
“No mom. They were there on behalf of Lord Casapan. Apparently he is also the one that sent the sprite in my dream.”
His father grunted, “Evie we have to do something. Your father’s work cannot sit idle any longer.”
“What do you think I do all day? I have been in touch with his contacts and there has been nothing on Lord Casapan or Dawsil for years. I had not given up them for dead, but I hardly thought an offense like this would happen. I don’t think they have put everything together yet or they would have come for me instead. Dad’s wards and talisman are still strong and working well.”
Oren looked like he had been struck upside the head. What were his parents going on about? They were wealthy from the trading, he thought. His mom never had done any enchanting he saw. And his dad? He was always out tending the fields these days or brokering a deal with caravans and the town merchants.
“Before you ask son we left you out of this because … well … it can consume your life.” His father was stumbling for words. “Your mother was brought into this from an early age to support and eventually take over from her father. We were hoping to spare you this and have wrapped it up years ago. And till yesterday we had thought we had. Today just confirms we are not done yet.”
“What is your roll in all this father?”
“I provide an anchor here in the real world for her. The contacting people and checking in on wards leaves her body here, but her mind is distracted. She would lose track of time possibly starve to death. Besides that there are few things I can get the spirits to do she cannot.”