By John Page
The car moved along the streets with a screech. It is a small but sleek car. An inquisitional car is swift and can get anywhere swiftly. However today is not a day for going fast. The Imperial Corridor is as bad as always and Depaget had gotten impatience. He turned off the highway and started going down side streets. Cerio Depaget is not the most careful driver and I am reciting every prayer I know to make sure he doesn’t hit anything.
Ignoring my look of terror, he turns his pale face to me and says, “Isn’t this case a little out of our jurisdiction.” In his strong TeraUr accent, which seems to get stronger when he is causing trouble.
“It is not as it deals with an international issue and our Church works with all states.” I tell him with a shrug as I try to avoid ducking as three different cars nearly hit us at one. After surviving that intersection I tell him to park as soon at it is safe. I am driving now.
Going a much slower and safer speed, I turn down St. Isabella street. We reach the ambassador row. All along this street are dozens of buildings holding embassies of every nation Atigonia has a relationship with. I think the number is eighty seven but I am not sure, a few countries are in a state of legal limbo right now. I park the car in a general use parking lot. Despite the lot being small, I write down the space location anyway. Depaget makes a joke about me being overly worried but I tell him.
“Well you got help your memory and I do not.”
The multi souled Elixaria is still sensitive that others might judge him for his species but likes to joke around so this was a good natured jest.
He replies with, “Well Luke, humans have trouble with only one voice in their head to help them and you anyway don’t got my TerraUr good looks.”
I look at his pure white eyes and see the look of humor in them. I reply with a wave of my hand. I am not sure if Depaget is good looking to anyone but it is nice to let him boast to others.
With that we get to the street and start walking. Depaget and I walk passed the TapiYamoto, Kemis and Shaand embassies. All are staunch allies of Atigonia and have the largest buildings on the street. We walk past them and go to the last building on this block. We reach a pleasant looking building done on dozens of different styles. The building’s haphazard looking style seems to work despite what one would normally think. The most notable element of the building is the flag of the owner.
The flags is the five starts on blue of the Oathac Confederacy. It is a relatively new nation that formed from the ashes of the Tallern empire and its allies about seventy years ago. They are the second strongest power of the seventy three world’s of the Great Ocean after Atigonia and it is important to keep good relations with them. We want peace and they are good for trade. While Atigonian could probably win a war against them, it would be bloody and risky.
We are stopped at the main gate by a bullish looking Shardok. Shardoks are living shadows born from magic. They are common in Oathoc lands. Despite their shadowy nature they are capable of interacting with the world as much as any other living being. They also make good guards as they are sharp eyed and loyal. The Shardok asked for our badges. The living shadow looks at our badges closely then waves us through. We pass through a marble gateway and go to the second floor.
We walk to the Oathac ambassador’s office at 8:30 AM. I meant to get there at 8:00 AM, traffic is annoying.
The ambassador had called the Pinso police after receiving a series of death threats. He was concerned for his safty and wanted help as the Shardok could only investigate Oathoc property. The city police were baffled as every attempt to trace the letters have failed.
We were contacted by one of the agents of the embassy, I think it was an Sauasi (Tallern descent elf) but I wasn’t sure till I saw the elf walk up to us and talk us to the ambassador’s room. He leaves us at the door and I detect great magic from him, clearly the Oathoc have their best agents working in the embassy.
The ambassador comes to greet us with a polite hand shake. He is a tall Andasi, about a head taller then I am (Elf from the world of Narthon). The purplish elf resembles an scarecrow with deep all red eyes and long pointed ears. He is dressed in a thick fur coat covered in jewelry. On a human that would look slightly archaic but on an elf it looks regal. I notice around his neck is a cross. So that is part of why we were called. He wants the Church to help him as he is a member of my faith.
The Andasi shakes our hands and says in non accented Atig ,
“Thank you very much for coming. My name is Tos Ae Zonso. As you know I am the main ambassador for the Oathoc. We should not waste time so I shall get to the point. I am afraid for my life. I have lived in this country for sixty years and have never had an issue with anyone here. Even during the low points between our peoples, I was treated with all the respect due to my office. Yet, during the last three weeks I have received hundreds of unmarked letters promising to kill me for the ‘crimes’ of the Oathac Confederation. At first I thought it might had been a sick prank but after the first letters started to come, I noticed that I have had several close encounters with death. Two weeks ago someone pushed me into the street and I was only just able to get back onto the side walk before a car passed right where I was. After that a large fridge fell out of a building and missed me by a foot. Next, I got very ill from a dish that has never made me ill and lastly someone tried to shoot me but missed.”
I think to myself that perhaps this man is simply paranoid and that is perhaps part why the Pinso police didn’t mention the near misses with death to me. As the elf talks, I look around the room. The room is one of a man who is very serious and somber man…. well elf. I see maps of different locations and pictures of Zonso with various dignitaries. The room is not one a man who seeks conspiracies.
I ask him to let me see the letters. Zonso shows them to me.
The letters have been written on some sort of computer and printed out. They are written in large type that seems to be shouting at the reader. The content is what I expected. Each letter promises death to non-humans and suffering to Zonso personally. He is accused of being involved with every Human – Asi conflict since the creation of the world. The language sounds like a bad war propaganda poster from a hundred years ago and is juvenile in composition. I see at least ten mistakes in grammar and punctuation in each letter,
While I could write this off as a crackpot the attacks on Zonso are serious enough. I try to find any hints of the writer from the letters but nothing seems beyond what they seem to be on the surface. Depaget and I look at them with both mundane and magical means. Nothing comes up. I feel frustrated and so I ask Zonso to tell us about how he got the letters.
After a quick pause to collect his thoughts, Zonso tells us that ,
“ At first, they were being put in the mailbox. Haulox (the Sauasi who took us to Zonso) and I figured someone was dropping it off but after checking the cameras we only saw the usual traffic. I then had one of the guards try to see if it could figure out when the letters were being posted. That lead to further bafflement as the letters seemed to just appear in the box randomly throughout the day. Eventually we figured out that before the letters appeared the contents inside the mailbox where flipped over. I tried to block any magical effects but the letters appeared anyway. “
I asked him if I can look at the mailbox. Zonso mutters a communication spell and Haulox appears at the door. We walk down the bright hallway past pictures of the different lands that make up the Oathoc Confederation. We reach the mailbox. It looks normal. I open it and am only mildly surprised to see more letters inside. Zonso looks deeply worried and said.
“Haulox just cleared the box out before you got here and no one touched it since.”
I look at the letters. They seem like the others but something seems off. I try to think of what I am reminded off. To help my think I decide to ask what might seem an odd question. “ Ambassador Zonso, perhaps we need to think about the portals of the Great River?”
Depaget looks confused but says nothing. I can see his mind working out how that magical web that connects each world is part of the case but sees my point.
Zonso looks confused for a second but says, “ Do you feel that someone is using the weakness in the world to send the letters to us. I thought it took a lot of magic power to do so especially at this frequency.”
I tell him , “ While that is normal true and I’m most cases you need something on the scale of a ship to move between worlds but there have been recorded cases of smaller passages possible.”
I examine the box and get an odd feeling. I motion to the others to move the mailbox and once they move it I get a sudden feeling that I know there is a portal here. I am not sure why I know so but I use it. I reach deep into the gap and feel a very faint burst of magic power. I send a probe spell to see what is on the other side. As the probe goes deeper something happens. The spell is sucked up by something dark and very cold. I feel my heart grow weak and I start to feel faint. Before I pass out, I feel Depaget yank me out of the spell and I hear Haulox cast a spell of disarming.
I wake up confused and in pain. Depaget, Zonso and several embassy staff are looking worried and trying to help. I notice that Haulox has disappeared. Before they can say anything, I tell them that I am fine and ask them what happened.
Zonso tells me that, “Well you cast a probing spell and all of a sudden you started acting in pain. Depaget grabbed you and moved you out of contact with the spell. After that the lights went out and about a hundred letters flew out of the hole.”
I take that information and try to connect the dots. My head hurts like hell but I manage to think through a possibility. I tell Depaget to get a team to see if the portal was actually a pocket dimension. After that I ask Zonso if he knows of anyone capable of making a pocket dimension. All mages power and knowledge are kept in government records. Zonso looks at Haulox for a second then tells me,
“ I have several ideas but I need to check with my government to see if I am allowed to talk about certain individuals. I will get back to you as soon as possible.”
That is expected but frustrating. I think of people who could do a spell of that level in Cydil. There are probably sixteen people out of billions who could do so. It would have to be up to the level of the leaders of the Mage orders. Though I am not sure why the arch mages of the Magi Orders would gain by this.
We agree to check with our own sources and for now we need to move Zonso to a secure location. Zonso agrees and gives me an amulet. He explains to me that ,” I appreciate this and I’ll go to wherever you feel is safe. This will let us talk and hopefully avoid whoever is trying to kill me.”
As we talk I start to feel ill and kind of black out. I wake up in the hospital. Depaget is there. He looks concerned.
“ Redmount you need to be more careful. You can’t go from talking to the ambassador to passing out. You need to rest. We can still work on the case but you stay here.”
I start to protest but I feel nauseous and give up. Before I can try again Depaget tells me that I have been out for a few days and yes he was still working on the case. He tells me everything he has done and I see no fault with what he has done.
We then talk about what else he had found. Depaget told me that, “ Zonso and I found out that out of the thirty people who are capable of making the pocket dimension, twenty nine of them have strong alibis and the last one cannot be found. “
I ask him , “ Who is the last one?”
Depaget replies, “He is a retired warmage, a Alexandra Ze Maphas, who was known to have anti-Andasi views. I went to find him and he knew nothing about the letters. He was more confused than anything else. While I was talking to him someone else created a new pocket dimension to send letters to Zonso. So we can rule him out. I will look into the others.”
I consider all I have been told. It seems like this path was not working. I have an odd sense that we are looking at this case from the wrong way. The pocket dimension is important but it is perhaps not made in the way we expect.
I ask Depaget if he had looked into the type of spells that made up the pocket dimension.
Depaget gets a worried look but replies , “ The pocket dimension that nearly killed you seems to be made from a mix of spells that I can’t figure out. The only thing I can get is a series of runes I can’t read.”
I ask him if he can write from memory what the runes look like. Depaget does so. I stare at the runes and I feel just as lost as he does. Often a complex ritual like this will have a written component that helps bind the spells together. I feel frustrated as I do not see anything I can infer from the runes. They twist and turn even within the people. I stare at it for a while and then give up. Depaget and I talk for a while longer and then he gets ready to leave. As Depaget walks out Zonso walks into the hospital.
Zonso stops by the door and asks if he can come in and talk with me. As Zonso walks in he looks and the paper with the runes on it and asks, “ Why do you have the Path of the Sauasi there?”
Depaget turns and asks , “ What is that?”
Zonso looks a little confused but goes on , “ The Path of the Sauasi is , the prayer that all Asi (elf folk) who follow the Tallern faith, would say to help them focus. It’s written in an archaic form that is normally used by wizards. Does this have something to do with the case? I didn’t think that humans would know this prayer.”
As he talks my brain feels like it’s being rushed with information. I take what I am being told with what I know about the case and the feeling I had before checking out the pocket dimension. I can think of one person who would match what we know about the case and who seems to have been able to do this crime. I look Zonso and Depaget.
“I think I know who is sending the letters but we need to trap him. “ Zonso looks concerned but we get ready.
As I hoped the plan I laid worked. The letters were deposited in the new dimension but a trace/attack spell was sent by an arch mage of Pinso and the embassy shock with the sounds of screaming. Haulox was found in his room wrapped up in a ball of pain.
Before he can try to escape Haulox is grabbed by the Shardok and we take him to the nearest Pinso detention center. Haulox is put into a dull grey cell that is surrender in wards to prevent him from using magic.
When he is questioned he doesn’t want to answer until I come and use a secret tool of the Church. After being subjected to it, Haulox breaks and tells me what he was doing. With a ragged breath he says, “I wanted to cause a breakdown between Atigonian and Oathoc. This peace is a false one and it must be destroyed, Asi and men cannot be at peace. Tallern must be avenged.”
With that I stop him, “But aren’t you Oathoc?”
“No. I am Tallern by blood. When your kind murdered the Golden Phoenix during the third war I knew what I needed to do. I had to torment your people as much as I could. The Andasi think they can lead the divine Asi. They are barely worthy to be seen as Asi. Only the Sauasi are true to the blood. With my two targets I made ready. So I worked my way into the Oathoc and waited for years till both you fools seemed content. I then started to work on increasing the Oathoc’s fear of Atigonian.”
I tell him , “ Why do you want to do that?”
Haolux looks confident and tells me , “ Bring about a Fourth Great War of course. “
After talking to him and hearing a similar discussion from Haulox, I concluded that while he seems very unbalanced he seems to have the dedication and skill to pull off this crime.
Once I get him arrested and off to the Oathoc’s I then talk to Zonso. Zonso looks both confused and relived.
“Haulox seemed didn’t like an Asi who held grudges. He was always hard working and helpful. I still can’t believe that he held such hatred for anyone. This will cause great havoc on both our countries but I think the worst is past.”
As we talk about the case, I see the sun set. The day is ending but will the next day bring?