April 11, 2007

Tiberium Letters

Part Seven

By Dwayne MacInnes

It took me but a moment to find the hidden catch behind one of the posts. Before I triggered it, I listened to the door closely. It would be greatly embarrassing to open the hidden door just to find an enraged mage behind it. Only silence greeted my sensitive ears.

I released the catch and the wall between the posts slid silently upwards to reveal a small room inside. I quickly dashed inside and shut the secret door. I muttered my spell for dark sight and the interior revealed itself to me. At least, for the next minute until I had to mutter the spell again. I really prayed that I would soon find a longer lasting spell.

A quick survey did produce a few objects of worth. First, I found about one hundred Silver Crowns. I am sure that Brunis did not obtain them lawfully so it was my imperial duty to confiscate them. I also found a magical wand. It was made of gnarled black wood.

Anyone can use a magical wand if she knows the correct triggering word. The Mages Guild keeps this a secret because they make a lot of money charging farmers to enchant their fields against pests. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if a farmer just bought a wand for a few tens of Silver Crowns and did the same thing year after year.

Most mages just use the default setting on the wands and depending on the manufacturer; it can be as simple as ‘abra cadabra’ or ‘klaatu barada nikto’. However, Brunis was smarter than that. He had had it reprogrammed. Thankfully, he was not too smart because I found the command written on a piece of paper next to it. It said simply, “to operate fireball wand say ‘domo arigato mister roboto’?.

However, the next two objects were of more significance. The first was a book about the tragic murder of Lady Tiber’s father. It is a well-known tale of how when Lady Tiber or Lady Rhem as she would have been then, was a young lass of twelve when she was playing with the scullery girl of the same age in the throne room. They were behind the large tapestries when an assassin attacked and killed widower Baron Rhem while he was on the throne. One of the girls let out a shriek when she witnessed it. The scullery girl ran for a nearby balcony and the young Lady Rhem ran for the stairs. The assassin would have killed both girls if he was not surprised and the girls did not run in two different directions. At the very least, he would have killed Lady Rhem, but he could not tell the difference between the two girls for they were of similar appearance.

The scullery girl tripped and fell over the edge of the balcony and plummeted into the lake that lay below her body disappearing beneath the lake’s surface forever. A month after the tragedy some fishermen found a tattered and soggy dress snared in some snags on the lake’s shore. The Lady Rhem ran upstairs and hid inside one of the closets. Only after the guards captured the assassin did they find the girl. By this time, she had lost her memory and only a slow convalescence at a local temple restored her to her right mind. However, she never remembered anything before that horrible day.

The sad conclusion is that after interrogating the assassin it was learned who had hired him. It was the Baron’s own brother. It is the same old story of the younger sibling craving the power of the elder.

The last object or actually objects were the millet seeds found on the ground. There are only two places I could think of where Brunis could encounter millet seeds. One was the kitchen, but Kreel practically lives there and she would have gladly told me if she had seen the minister skulking about there. So, that left the storage cellars where the foodstuff was stored in large quantities.

I pocketed my findings and made my way out of the private quarters. Getting to the cellars was no problem at all. Other than the sentries at the front door to the castle, the only other guards on patrol in the castle were in the private quarters. I should let the Countess know that she may want to beef up her security.

In any case, I found myself deep inside the dank cellar. There were huge casks of wine and other alcoholic beverages against one wall. There were crates, barrels, and bags of foodstuff against another. A single torch sat in its sconce and burned away illuminating the cool and musty interior.

A search of the ground revealed that a sack of millet had a tear. Most likely, with the help of the ubiquitous rodents that one can find in such dwellings. A closer scrutiny produced faint footprints that I followed to a wall. I quickly discerned the faint outline of a hidden door. I just now needed to find the trigger to open it.

Secret or hidden doors always have some kind of panel or lever to open it. It is common for them to look like common objects. It could be a torch on the wall, a book in a bookcase, or a stone panel in the wall. However, it was none of these, particularly not a book due to the lack of bookcases in the cellar.

I studied the wall carefully again. I know it had to be something obvious I was missing. Then it hit me. One of the barrels of foodstuff was not with the others. I opened the top and found it contained wheat. I felt around in the wheat but I could not find any lever. I was about to give up in frustration when my foot kicked the bottom of the barrel. It made a hollow noise. That was odd for a barrel brimming with wheat.

A quick search produced a loose panel. Inside the panel was a lever. Soon I had the hidden door open. A long dark tunnel wound its way down on the other side of the door.

Posted by deg at April 11, 2007 6:30 PM

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