Gather round, gather round, tis time once more to continue the tale of Ragnar Grimfang, twiceborn exile, as he investigates a strange series of killings on the deadly streets of Myrrhn.
This is my weekly serial, the beginning is can be found here. (follow the links in comments to read along)
Missed last weeks? Try this link.
“Murith found something you should see,” said Renoit. The swordsman looked even more disgusted than usual, which was impressive. I braced myself and entered the shop.
Stazz and Sons was well appointed for a place that was built several levels down the sewers and tunnels beneath Myrrhn. The interior was not large, but it had comfortable chairs, wooden counters, and a perfectly flat stone table covered in expensive looking jewelers implements.
Stazz and sons were lying in pools of blood on the floor. The Devout are vicious killers who worship power in all its forms. They are not kind to those who fail them, seeing killing those weaker than them as both a divine right and a form of gruesome entertainment.
“Obviously Stazz outlved his usefulness,” I said. Likely they made the man watch his sons die first; such cruelty appeals to the minds of the brutal. I looked around, trying to see what Murith had found. The dwarven woman looked smug. Behind her, Git was pocketing the jewels and gold.
The three bodies had multiple wounds, all consistent with swords and knives. The older man, Stazz, had his throat cut, execution style. The question was, why?
I moved over to the work table, shooing the looting goblin out of my way. I saw several rings. One of them seemed similar to the one worn by the doomed Sirutiran Priest, Madrinpo. A true Devout needed no ring to ensure their loyalty. Madrinpo was being coerced, or forced to wear the ring as part of an agreement with the Devout. It could even be that he was doing business with them, and the ring was the price of their patronage: insurance that he would never speak of them. I picked up the ring and looked at it more closely, then handed it to Sildus. The inscriptions were also very similar.
The ring was conformation that the Devout were involved with priest Madrinpo. It did not tell me what they wanted with him or why they were connected with the cult of Kamesin Greeneyes in Myrrhn. Subtle wasn’t their style, so I doubted that the plan was too cunning for me to understand. I was missing something.
“Ok Murith, what did I miss?” I asked.
Murith grinned. “Ragnar, you always lose sight of the big picture after a battle.”
“Tis true,” said Git. “Remember that time you blundered into that pit after fighting that ogre in that set of caves down the side of Smugglerside?”
“Still trying to forget, thanks,” I said. I cleared my mind and looked harder. I saw a ledger on the counter behind Murith. It was burned. The Devout did not want to leave any evidence of their activities. I looked around. Then I saw a sheet of paper on the desc near the tools. I picked it up. It was a list of names and measurements. It looked like ring sizes. Scanning the list I saw Priest Madrinpo’s name, with a checkmark next to it. I also saw Madame Glorianna, Bjorn, Lily Gemarkand, and other names I recognized on the list. Some had checkmarks, some did not. I handed to the list to Sildus.
“Is that what I think it is?” I asked Murith.
“If you think it is an extortion list for people to fit with killer rings, then yes,” said Murith.
“That explains where Lily got her hands on a Devout,” I said. “They must have tried this trick on her. So we know part of their plan. They wanted to use these rings as a form of compulsion to gain power over influential citizens of Myrrhn. To what ends?”
“War,” said Sildus, looking up from the list.