WiP 14 (2018)

Alaric looked over the rough design an hour later.

It was simple and looked like a child did it.  But, it should, he hoped, hold well enough.

Back in the sitting room, he closed the bath door and sent little bits of wizardry to see if there were any secret doors like in the waiting room.

Finding none, Alaric collapsed in a chair and tried to relax a bit.

He had a defense, and, hopefully, an escape route.

Nothing definitive, but both enough to guarantee a head start.

When a knock at the door turned out to be food, he suspended the wards, sent away the middle aged servant, and proceeded to demolish the food tray.  In his hunger, Alaric was heedless of the unfamiliar flavors and textures.  The important thing was mundane fuel for his body.  They wouldn’t recharge his magic, but the body needed its own power.

Even in his hunger and exhaustion, Alaric had noted the two statues across the hall when the servant left.  They were different from the others at the waiting room, but he assumed they were animate guards to oversee and limit his movements.

The priest should not be aware of the wall’s defacement, he thought.

Probably.

No matter what, he would have to deal with the statues, and probably worse, to get out.  If he could even find the way out.  In theory, he knew a couple direction spells that could lead the way, if the priest and temple did not include ways to counter them.  Assuming Jdal had not been lying, the place could be huge.  So far, Alaric had only counted three priests and servants that he had seen.  The ‘Agrum’, whatever that title meant, implied there were many more of both, so did Nica.

Plus they had to be keeping the dragon or dragons somewhere.

If they weren’t lying about that.

According to the old legends about the War, the dragons could exceed . . . he did some conversion math in his head . . . maybe two hundred feet in length.  Even accounting for probable exaggeration in the primary sources.

Another knock came from the door.

“Yes?”

“The Agrum respectfully requests your presence,” a voice, muffled by the door, said.

With a furtive look to ensure the bath door was closed, Alaric suspended his wards again.

He opened the door to find four men and women, all in the same robes the other two priests had worn.  Each carried a short staff, though, of white wood, about as thick as his thumb.

Shite.

“He is not coming here?”

“It was felt that this subject would be best broached in a more formal setting,” the one nearest the door said.

Double shite.

And Alaric noted a distinct lack of bows as he stepped in the hall, closed the door, and reset his wards.

The missing bows did not bode well.

Not if his previous experiences with the priests were typical.

The quartet formed a square around him as they set off down the hall.  The two who seemed older took the lead.  Despite the sticks, their manner did not read as threatening to him.  They were certainly, Alaric thought, aware of him and on-guard, but did not appear to be looking for a reason to beat him, or like they intended harm at all.  Yet.

Several opulent halls, and a couple turns he thought were meant only to confuse him, later, the quintet stopped before an ornate door of wood.  The gold fittings seemed appropriate against the dark wood.  There were no images, only an abstract pattern of lines.

The lead guide pushed the door open to reveal a room that practically defined elegant opulence.

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