“I am getting really tired of visiting murder scenes.” Balder said over his lunch of beef stew in the Stag-Horned Flagon, it was his fifth serving of the meal. Rugar had agreed to put up Balder, Hilmar, and Shar while they were helping with the investigation; Balder was able to negotiate free meals as well. Hilmar, on the other hand did not display an appetite and as for Shar, he was too engrossed in drawing out a map.
Earlier this afternoon Lieutenant Callam had led the companions to another gruesome murder performed last night in accordance with the previous killings. Once again Balder could sense the evil permeating from the blood that soaked the ground. However this victim rang familiar to the brothers Loab and Garl Eagleshield, it was a cousin named Marika who had left behind a small child.
“We haven’t made any progress at all; we need to anticipate where the killer will strike next.” Balder said presently wiping his bowl with a biscuit. The pall of evil was clearly agitating the warpriest who desired action; empathy was not his expertise.
While at the murder scene Marika’s son Lyn was seen fleeing when he was noticed because despite Shar’s attempt at disguise the boy seemed to have seen through it. The boy had blood across his chest that caused Balder to react by giving chase to the boy. Retreating under rafters his home, it was Balder of course who was small enough to coax Lyn out but when Balder examined the child for injuries there was none. Instead painted in his mother’s blood across the child’s bare chest was the words ‘help me’.
Back in the Stag-Horned Flagon, Balder noticed how Shar had drawn a seven pointed star over a rubbing of the Amphail map on the Shalarn monument. It was at that moment Lieutenant Callam decided to walk in to the Flagon and up to join the trio. The guard leaned over and oddly enough seemed to become interested in Shar’s drawing.
“Do you know what this is?" Callam asks the table, to which Balder shakes his head slowly. "Neither do I, but I know someone who might."
Amphail was teeming with life during the day, however the unspoken grief shared by everyone in the community was apparent in the way people took care to ease everyone’s distress. This was odd to each of the companions, but in different ways. Hilmar was used to the instincts of grief shared in the animal kingdom, a trait seldom shared in civilized populaces; Balder was comforted and was reminded of Dwarven shared love of hearth and home, but with Shar it was a phenomena shared by all surface communities.
Through all this Callam leads the three to the door of an ancient home of Loremaster Syle in the heart of the town. A sign hung over the doorway, depicting an open book. Just as Callam was about to raise the knocker an elf with eyes that seem older than the sea stands at the threshold looking at each in tum but stops when he notices Shar. "Yes," he says quietly, unmoved by the appearance of a drow, "how can I help you?"
Syle was dressed in long brown robes and moved slowly but deliberately. It is said he is proud of his
|Syle Loremaster and Historian|
“I’m sure you have heard about the curfew,” Callam began but stopped when he saw the elf shake his head which caused Balder to shake is own in frustration.
“Loremaster Syle,” Shar began wanting to bring this investigation to a halt before anyone else was hurt. “there have been seven murders in Amphail as of late.”
Taking out his rubbing of the town’s features Shar showed the elven loremaster the locations of the murders and how linking these sites seemed to create a symbol. Taking the parchment Syle retreated to a room where its walls were filled from ceiling to floor with shelves of books.
The loremaster's research quickly proves enlightening. Pulling an ancient tome from a high shelf, the elf begins shooting out facts about the symbol from its pages. “Apparently,” Syle began in a tone of victory, “the seven-pointed star is a symbol of Umeil, the demon of waste and bile. It appears that a few hundred years ago, Umeil was summoned by an ambitious necromancer who sought to bind the demon to do his bidding. The demon fought the binding, absorbed the flesh of the necromancer, and made the usurper's body his own.”
Each of the individuals regarded each other in disbelief, but it was Balder Ironshield who knew was beginning to understand the evil at work here.
“At the time,” Loremaster Syle continued enthusiastically, “the city was under the protection of six elven knights who had been cast out by their kin. The knights, in exchange for a place to live, had offered to protect Amphail from harm so when the demon arose, a band of citizens and farmers led by the knights sought to slay the abomination.”
“The common folk would not have magical weapons, how did they defeat Umeil?” Hilmar asked the ancient elf.
“Those armed with only common weapons were dispatched quickly by the demon, but the knights who carried what’s referred to in the text as Luminous Blades were able to battle and eventually defeat the demon.” Syle answered as he continued to read between three volumes of historical text.
“During the battle, four of the six knights were killed. The fifth, who was also the eldest, was mortally wounded. The sixth, as well as the youngest, was able to score the killing blow, banishing it from the Realms.” Syle quickly grabbing another book continued his monologue. “That remaining knight it says here in the texts, sealed the beast away with the creature's own symbol, the seven-pointed star.”
“Has the lineage died away?” asked Balder with a tone of bitterness.
“Is there any mention on how the necromancer was able to summon Umeil in the first place?” Shar asked hopefully.
“The youngest lived on, protecting the city until his death. He took a human bride who gave birth to a half-elf child.” The loremaster said between pages of books, “the descendant of that child, yes Highmore, it appears to these records he still resides in Amphail.” Syle said pointing out his source.
“And to answer your question Shar, eight living sacrifices had to be made to raise the demon, each performed in order as the moon sailed overhead. The eighth had to occur where the first took place to complete the cycle of summoning. After that, the text then gives an explanation of how to banish the demon. Once the demon is stricken down, the seven-pointed star must to be carved into the demon's flesh with a blessed silver blade. Once that is completed, the demon needs to be set ablaze, banishing it for at least another five centuries.” Syle said with the tone of finality.
“I know where Highmore's tower is,” Callam said.