Midsea

The Hungry Bones of Tiefling Town

Hanz and Sir Gavin drink too much coffee...

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Seeress hurried to Alexandra the Summoner’s Tower seeing her way through the dark streets of Bex below starless skies. Being a Tiefling she needed no light so she moved with quiet confidence. Her patchwork dress swished around her boots and hid her tail while she ran over the multi-colored cobblestones of the Moonshadow Neighborhood. She had tied a black lace bandanna around her forehead; causing her curly silver-streaked black hair to cascade over her ears and small horns. The dress and bandanna let her pass as human in the dark.

She copied her clothes off the famous fortuneteller Spintera. The fortuneteller had been one of the few humans that ever treated her warmly when her mother died fighting the Wizard Carlock. Spintera sensed the tiny young Tiefling’s Gift of Second Sight and would watch her when the girl’s father and brother would put their boat out to fish. Spintera started calling her “little seeress” and the name stuck. Spintera left her home and business to Seeress when she died, along with Tarot cards that could help her gift of future-sight.

Seeress knew that Varsa, the First Quintana Ruler, had been conspiring with her cousin’s son Chance. She believed they had dug up the cursed Hunger Bones from near Conjurors Crypt. If that were true Bex would face threats from within as well as the Hegemon Army from without.

She hoped to see her son Hanz who now worked for Alexandra. She felt great pride that her son now spent time with the powerful Fourth Quintana Mage and the heroic Offworlders. Being a Tiefling meant the Constables eyed you with suspicion and most others feared or hated you. Alexandra openly trusting not just her son, but also the Tiefling Fame, made many in Tielfling Town rejoice.

She arrived at the entrance to the Tower. Its craggy oblong shape made it look like some kind of natural outgrowth of rock. The windows and doors on its outside showed that it had been hollowed out hundreds of years ago, like the other four towers, for each Inner Circle mage to make a home.

Seeress cast a quick spell of invisibility and stole past the door guards. She made her way slowly up the winding tower stairs. Some of the steps were uniform and smooth while others were shallow and rough. It looked like the inside of a mine rather than a magical residence for a powerful mage. She wondered, like many in Bex, why there were five towers and why did they look like rough pillars of rock, cut from a huge quarry, ready to be made into some kind of monolith or statue?

She dispensed with the invisibility at the top of the stairs after stopping a few times to rest and knocked on the steel door to Alexandra’s Penthouse. She could sense the magical wards placed on it and knew there was no way in except by acquiescence of those inside.

The heavy door swung open easily by a giant hand. The large blue-skinned guard Seneschal invited her in with great respect.

“Your son Hanz and the knight Sir Gavin are still up. They had some coffee after dinner.” Seneschal smiled as he walked with her down the dark corridor. He held an enormous sputtering oil lamp that caused their shadows to dance on the blue painted walls. “My people have heard of you. They say you can look around the Corners of Time like Spintera..”

“Spintera was a second mother to me, she loved the time she spent with your people in the mountains during the Shadow Plague.” Seeress said.

They entered a large room where her son Hanz sat across from a large older man who had a shield and a sword propped up near him. The man had the weathered skin of an old soldier and some worry lines on his face. His black scale mail and helmet lay on a table next to him. Seeress noticed the man’s arms were as large as her son’s legs.

The man stood up and made a slight bow. Her son smiled and hugged her.

The Sword spoke saying, “You have your mother’s horns!”

“Where are you manners Brother?” The Shield said, “Glad to meet you Seeress! I am Sister Shield. Please excuse Brother Sword, the only thing sharp about him is the edge of his blade.”

Seeress smiled. This must be Sir Gavin the Strong. He looked like he had stepped out of a Terravingian Battle Tapestry, where charging knights clashed in colorful scenes. He and Hanz were obviously wounded from a recent battle.

“No need for excuses.” She said. “For I come here asking my son and anyone who is available for help. I fear that Varsa has suborned some of my fellow Tieflings to the Hegemon cause. Tonight they go to meet him!”

Sir Gavin insisted on coming along. He and Hanz agreed to not wake up the others and went to her small row house in Tiefling Town. She didn’t need to worry about being accosted with the famous knight Sir Gavin and her agile and clever son so she walked down the street with less concern.

In her anteroom she heard from Sir Gavin that he had met both Varsa and the Hegemon, albeit separately. Sir Gavin believe Hegemon, whom he knew as Ar-Khan, was about to be betrayed by Varsa so that Varsa could take control of the Hegemon’s army and rule Bex alone.

She implored her son to follow Chance and see what he was doing. Even though she had a liking to Sir Gavin she didn’t mention the Legend of the Hungry Bones to him.

The Hungry Bones was a legendary Tiefling servant of Carlock that would absorb the bodies of its victims and grown stronger with each feeding. With no food it would lay still, and hungry. With bodies it would grown larger and stronger. It was a shameful secret for many reasons.

She dealt out her Tarot cards to them. While doing so she had a vision of what looked like a wood elf, a human archer and another Tiefling meeting the Hegemon. This was followed by another vision of her son running across a moonlit Arctic wasteland to help Sir Gavin and an axe-wielding dwarf. In the vision the dwarf threw her axe at a pale creature that cast no shadow.

The cards showed that Hanz and Sir Gavin’s mission held great importance. It gave clues that it would affect the upcoming battle directly. The two left shortly afterwards leaving Seeress to sit and wait.

In less than an hour she felt a shaking she hadn’t felt since Carlock died. She ran out and saw the First Quintana Tower shaking.

“What have I done?” she asked. “What have they done?”

Like any native of Bex she knew that when an Inner Circle mage died their tower would shake. These minor quakes in the city would cause poorly hung pictures to fall off walls and cheap shelves to collapse. Varsa was dead!

Seeress heard the sound of steel striking cobblestones coming around the corner of her narrow street. Sir Gavin came into view riding a magical metal steed. She held her breath; there was no sign of Hanz!

She breathed a sigh of relief when her smaller son peeked his head around the broad-shouldered knight and slid to the ground.

“I didn’t know Varsa had a Golden Steed of the Feydril!”

“I don’t think Varsa knew what he had.” Sir Gavin said between breaths. “He probably thought it was some kind of statue.”

“He underestimates Swords, Shields and metal steeds!” proclaimed Brother Sword.

“Underestimated…” corrected Sister Shield.

“We stopped Varsa mom!” Hanz said. He hefted a pouch full of platinum. “And we have some money!”

“I can’t wait to tell Chance and his mother tomorrow at dinner!” Seeress said.

Both Sir Gavin and Hanz dropped their smiles.
“About that,” Sir Gavin said. “Chance is dead.”

“He was working with Varsa.”

“That will make tomorrow’s dinner rather awkward.” Seeress said. “But we have another place for dinner. You and your friends are welcome to come. By the way did you see any magical bones?’

“Yes,” Sir Gavin said. “Why?”

“If they fall into the wrong hands it could give free rein to a monster.”

The two heroes sighed and then started back to the Tower. Sir Gavin rode the metal steed and Hanz trotted next to him, swinging a strange new weapon that looked like a hooked knife with a long silver chain.

Seeress thought back to an old Bex fisherman proverb, “Fix a leak and you’ll find two more.”

She turned back to her house and saw Bettina standing in the doorway.

“Hello old friend,” Bettina said. “I’ve brought some of those tea leaves you like. We have much to talk about.”

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