The Elves want to know if Liope's holding back
|Chapter 5 Interrogation
Scene 1 of 5: Bedelia Meets Olivia
Olivia sat at her window in the study. It had a view that looked out over the street. She was a keen observer and her telepathic powers, when augumented by her emerald gem stone, had a range of about fifty yards. She enjoyed picking out someone on the street and putting them into a classification. Then she would observe their demeanor and dress and try and determine visually their occupation and frame of mind. Once this was done she would shift into passive telepathy and confirm if her hypothesis was correct. It nearly always was. I say, nearly, because there was one passerby who maintained a shrouded mind. Her name was Bedelia and she was a Simean Elf. She wore the uniform of a Special Operating Force (SOF) soldier so her vocation was self evident. Further it was clear, by her look and the way she walked, that there was a great deal going on behind her forehead. The fact that Olivia couldn't see what the young girl was thinking was frustrating. To get around the problem, Olivia exerted herself to plant a not so subtle compulsion in the female soldiers's mind. The purpose was to get Bedilia to come knocking on her door.
Bedelia had other things on her mind and didn’t really know who to turn to. She walked with her head down as she went from the gym to the military dormitory where she had a room. Normally she would have talked to Albiana but her friend was out on mission and left no word on when she might return. Looking up she saw the beautiful home of the patron Witch of the city. The name Olivia was etched in elaborate cursive over the door. Over the past three years she had seen many a passerby going in and coming out from the entrance and she found herself wondering what went on inside. What began as an idle curiousity expanded in scope to an inexplicable compulsion. She paused. Something from behind the massive oak door seemed to be calling out to her. Without thinking she surrendered to the attraction and found herself tenetively walking up the stairs. At the threshold she paused and amazed by her termidity, knocked on the door. Almost as if expected the portal opened and an elegantly dressed man smiled down at her.
“Who might you be?" he inquired.
“I’m Bedelia and I’d like to speak to Lady Olivia."
“Do you have an appointment?"
“I should have known. Sorry for the inconvenience," and she turned to go.
From afar she heard a lilting voice call out..."Who is it Rogoletti?"
"Ms. Bedelia," he answered.
"Send her in," said the voice, more emphatically than necessary.
“Young lady," said Rogoletti, with an inclination of his head....." Lady Olivia will see you."
Bedelia, was suddenly afraid and chided herself for getting into this uncomfortable situation. She was not impulsive by nature and she felt overwhelmed, as if the situation had gotten suddenly out of hand. However, it was too late to turn back and she was put at ease by the gracious woman that walked down the hall and greeted her.
“So Bedelia, welcome to my home. What has taken you so long to come and visit? I see you often walking down the street and despaired that you would ever find time to come knocking at my door.”
She took the young girl by the arm like they were old and dear friends and escorted her into an elegantly furnished sitting room. At a table were two chairs and settings for tea.
"Won’t you join me? Of course you will. Why else would you be here if it wasn't to share a few moments of your day in pleasant conversation?”
Bedelia was overwhelmed and took a seat. Rogoletti returned with a silver service of steaming tea and frosted pastries.
"To what do we owe the honor?" Asked Olivia.
"I don’t know really why I stopped by." she blurted. " I saw your name over the threshold and unthinkingly decided to knock."
"Then you have wonderful instincts my dear and certainly came to the right place. I've been looking forward to meeting you and hope that we can become friends. You look puzzled. There's something on you mind, isn’t there?"
"Yes ma’am," she answered.
"And what is it that troubles you, little one?"
"It's a matter of love," my lady.
"Well, you certainly came to the right place. I am a foremost authority on the subject. Love is what brought me to Tristan and love is what keeps me here. However, the subject is broad and often of great complexity and if you wish me to be of much service, you must offer a bit more specificity."
"There is a young man who thinks he's in love with me."
"Is this a good thing or a bad thing?"
"Both! For you see he is very nice, and comes from a noble family and I am most unworthy and do not wish to become an embarrassment."
Olivia began laughing in a most delightful way, rocking back and forth.
"Did I speak inappropriately?"
"Indeed not..... I titter only because I have been asked a thousand times for love potents, but never once for the opposite....whatever that might be....I will have to check the library to see if such a thing even exists. Perhaps a dispelling charm of some sort..... I’m sorry Bedelia, this is so unexpected and you have taken me completely by surprise...Come back on the weekend when we have more time and we can examine this matter together in more detail."
Bedelia pushed back on her chair, taking this as a dismissal.
"No! No! I didn’t mean for you to leave. I only meant that we defer the charm issue until later. Now tell me more. Who is the young man?"
"You won’t tell anyone, will you?"
"Certainly not.....I can assure you, I take my confidences very seriously."
"His name is Pluto LaVinneous, son of High Council Chair, Kulrick."
"Hmmm, something about his name sounds familiar," she said tongue in cheek, " although it's been awhile. Seems I met him once, a long time ago. His wife Clematis, however, is my friend. A truly gracious woman, who I know quite well. As a matter of fact I see her every week at our ladies club."
"Then you can appreciate my concern over Pluto’s infatuation."
"So you feel unworthy of his affections?"
"Indeed, for the reasons I already explained."
"Those are not reasons, they are consequences... Why do you feel unworthy?"
"Because I'm evil."
"Hmmmmm, and why do you think that?"
"Because sometimes I think evil thoughts and because I am the spawn of a monkey."
"I'm find your perspective shocking," replied Olivia shaking her head. "Dear me, where do I start, without sounding like a professor?"
"Does speaking plainly, intrude on your serenity?"
" My serenity, (laughing) have no fear of that. My world can hardly be termed serene.... chaotic would be a better term. But I hope you will not be put off if I respond in kind."
"I'm honored that you would."
"First let me assure you that everyone thinks evil thoughts. Form the day we're born we are awash in darkness, because the very vessel we inhabit is made of the elements which are black, dark and cold indeed. The best we can hope to accomplish in this life is to give our spirit dominion over the evil that clings to us like a wet dish towel. We must squint hard to see down the dark corridors and try our very best to follow the dim path of rightousness."
"How do you know these things?"
"Because I'm a Witch of the light, who carries both the darkness and the sunshine. Because I come from a long line of witches that are intimately familiar with both. You're not evil Bedelia. You are human which leads us to the second part of your comment, which I shudder to repeat. The notion that you are the spawn of an ape. That is repugnant and polluting."
"Let me finish, please. Your body is as human as mine. You can mate with human, elf or dwarf and have offspring just the same as anyone else. What was altered in you were pathways that carry your spirit from place to place. To that extent you were changed in ways that men have no right to tamper but the changes that were wrought are no more significant than changes that nature is forever making in the children of her creation. You are different to be sure, but you are as worthy a human being as anyone else that lays claim to the title. If you ever utter the word “Monkey Spawn” again in my presence I will be most put out and have Rogoletti, wash your mouth out with soap. "
"I had no wish to offend great lady. I only repeat what I see etched in the minds of those around me."
"When you intrude on unguarded thoughts, it's like looking into the toilet of a person's mind. Do so at your own risk and do not be surprised at what you see. There is much good to be found in the minds of men and we must not allow pettiness to define your character. Believe me when I say, and I should know, that you are as worthy a young woman as any in the kingdom."
"Your words lift a heavy burden from my heart. You have my gratitude, the only token worthy of your grace."
"You embarass me with sincere and honest praise. It's rare for me to hear it and it touches me in a way that only innocence can. But I'm no different from you and if I have an eye for truth, it's only the ability to know it when I see it. However, let us move away from mutual admiration lest we become too enamored. Now, tell me how you know of Pluto’s love?"
"I know it because I can read his mind."
"Reading minds is one thing. Reading emotions is another."
"Believe me Lady Olivia, I can do both."
"Both you say?"
"And more too...."
"Enough! We'll speak no more of your gift. The edge of your mind travels further than anyone’s in the kingdom, and the touch of your heart should come as no surprise. If there's more, and I suspect there is, let us leave it for examination in a more secure place."
"Yes my lady."
"Now tell me what kindled the flame of love in young Pluto’s heart."
"He feels that I'm responsible for his success in passing Tier One. He wanted to succeed so badly, that when he did, and I was his partner, his gratitude kindled the flame."
"How was it that he succeeded with you when he has failed with everyone else?"
"He's very smart and I did exactly what he told me....had the others done the same, he would have succeeded long ago."
"So the trick was to be a good listener. Is that what you're saying?"
"I did what he told me to do, Great Lady, I was obedient."
"No! No! Let us not head down that road. Womankind has come too far to turn about now and throw ourselves back into the abyss. He succeeded because you provided him with something that no one else could offer."
"And what was that?"
"How should I know? answered Olivia throwing up her hands. You were there. Did you see me standing next to you?"
"So am I, but rest assurred, I intend to give a bright lamp to it. What was the name of the Weapons Meister?"
"Demetrio, my lady."
"Come back Saturday and we will pick up the thread of this conversation. It had a fresh and stimulating quality! Rogoletti?"
"Yes my Lady."
"See Bedelia to the door. We can expect to see her again on Saturday at Ten O’clock sharp."
Scene 2 of 5: Liope Meets Young Jernigan.
Liope walked through the market. A trapper had a string of rabbits hanging on a pole.
"How much?" she inquired of the snarier.
He looked up and took note of her.
“Big breasts," he thought to himself.
“Two kopecks," he answered.
"One kopeck, eight." she countered.
"I have to get at least one nine." he bartered back.
Liope counted out the coins.
"I’d like to get her behind the woodshed," he thought to himself. "Thank you miss," he answered."
Further on she came to the Baker's stall. The bread was still hot from the oven. Most of her bread she baked herself, but she could not resist the smell of the baguets. Young Jernigan, the baker’s son, was operating the booth. He looked up at her... she towered over him. "She's beautiful," he thought to himself.
Liope was surprised. His assessment was sincere. While she often pretended herself beautiful, after the last growth spurt, she was having more and more difficulty convincing herself. She smiled at him in genuine appreciation but otherwise gave no clue that she read his thoughts. It set his mind spinning in disbelief.
She noticed me, he thought to himself, "Good morning Liope, he said, "What can I get for you?"
"The baguets smell delightful."
So do you, thought Jernigan. "They were baked fresh this morning."
"Why are his words and thoughts so disconnected?" she wondered.
"Here, just take it.... think of me when you bite into it."
"Why thank you," she answered, "I will."
Further on she saw Regina’s mother, selling early vegetables. Her name was Velusia, and she was someone Liope trusted and went to when she had questions.
"A girl no more," Velusia thought to herself. "The smith really needs to think about finding her a husband. This young un is ripe for the plucking."
"Hello Liope, could I interest you in some radishes?"
"Not today but I will take a bundle of onions."
Across the street she noticed two young men splitting firewood. They looked back and their obscene whispers, rang loudly in her imagination. She was disgusted.
This is too much to deal with, Liope thought to herself....Next time I go shopping, I’m leaving the ruby at home.
Scene 3 of 5: Elves continue search. Try and put evidence into a scenario.
The next morning the Elves broke down into smaller groups and began expanding the search area. Albiano went down to the river and began walking along the near bank. Looking up she saw where the out cropping had broken off. Around her flotsam from the storm and the debris still littered the bank. Most of it had fallen into the river and washed downstream. As she picked through the rock and sandstone her search was rewarded. With a gasp she reached down and pulled from the sand the hilt of a sword. It was charred black and the settings that had once held gems were empty. She cried out and Varnack scrambled down the bank. He looked wide eyed at the find as they both tried discypering its meaning.
"He removed the stones." Albiana remarked stating the obvious...
"He must have thrown them into the river," Varnack answered.
"That or along the path."
"They continued looking, but the river had crested after the storm and only now was beginning to recede.
A voice called down from above. "I found where the Galreath landed. I can still see its prints running down the trail."
Albiana and Varnack scrambled up the bank.
"Show us where," said Varnack.
As they started to follow, another voice cried out.
"Over here! Over here! Look what I’ve found!"
A stone, Albiana dared hope.
However, when they arrived, it wasn’t a stone, but rather two large footprints. Despite the rain they were still discernable.They were about one hundred yards East of where Morgolic had turned North, running for the cliff.
"If this is where the girl stood she must have seen more than just a Snagar," speculated Varnack, "I suspect she isn’t telling the whole story."
"Oh my," thought Albiana... "such an interesting hypothesis."
"Hey, look over here."
Between where the Galreath had landed and the big footprints was a slight indentation in the ground over which appeared a thin rising mist. At first it looked like the grass might be smoldering but instead of smoke it was a fine vapor that was almost indiscernible. It came from underneath the ground. Varnack went over and squatted down holding his hand over it and sniffing. Albiana got down on her knees and did the same.
"This is indeed strange, what do you make of?" she asked.
He got down on all fours and looked closely into the indention and sniffed deeply of the mist. Suddenly he groaned in anguish. He rose quickly to his feet and staggered backward. Turning around several times he appeared to want to grab hold of his private parts. His face contorted in pain and he began to utter explectives she had never heard before.
"What is it Varnack?"
"I have a cramp in my you know whats," he lamented hopping around…
"No I'm not familiar with your "You know whats," answered Albiano, although she had a suspicion.
"My scrotums," he clarified in an emphatic but low tone, "I’ll be allright in a minute." He hopped about in an obvious pain that seemed to grow worse rather than better. "When I squatted the fabric around my groin must have squeezed too tight…."
His face was flushed and perspiration ran down his forehead.
Two of the other Elfs standing near were making no attempt at concealing their mirth. The way he hopped about avoiding the source, left little doubt as to where the pain was coming from. At length it began to subside but he still continued to sweat profusely.
"I’m allright," he assured everyone, Just give me a minute…and everything will be fine.
"Are you sure?" asked Albiana.
"Yes! I’m sure, he struggled to answer.
"Wouldn’t want anything to happen to them," she offered, with a wry innocence.
To the two elfs, her comment was uprouriously funny and they laughed openly. Varnack, glared at them and they turned, holding their sides and retreated down the trail. Taking a deep breath he walked gingerly for a moment and pulled himself together.
Whiping his brow he said, with a sigh of relief, "There now, that's better."
"What do you think was causing the mist?" she asked, pointing to the indentation.
"Whatever it was, it's stopped," he answered.
"This place gives me the creeps," said Albiana.
"Don't let it get to you. We've plenty of other things to worry about. Now why don't we do a recap by reconstructing the events."
To do this he directed his elves to cut long staffs. One went to where the Galreath landed, another to the outcrop, another to where the foot was found, and another to where the body parts were discovered. He and Albiana stood next to the big footprints.
"Ok now.... yonder is where the Galreath landed.... Here we see the girl fleeing.... there is where Morgolic had encounter #1, further towards the river encounter #2, still further the explosive event and there stands the cliff where the outcrop fell into the river. What can we deduce from this?"
"The girl was probably closer than the footprints here indicate," replied Albiana. "The Galreath landing would have certainly gotten her attention. She might have seen Morgolic drop to the ground. Then the Snagar appeared and she would have sounded the alarm. Here we see her footsteps fleeing towards Middletown. Look at the measure of her stride... long legs and carrying some weight, otherwise the prints would have long vanished. If we assume she was half again closer than these sign show, than that puts her within 50 yards of where Morgolic turned North. At that distance, in the open, she could not have overlooked his presence."
"We think Morgolic removed the stones from the hilt... speculated Varnack. "Perhaps he put them in a pouch. Then with the Snagar close upon them she sounded the alarm. Maybe he gave them to her before turning North and heading for the cliff."
"So you think she might have taken them and fled towards the village?"
"I know its a stretch," replied Varnack, "but its either that or he started slinging them or maybe waited until he got to the river."
"So either the girl has them or they got slung somewhere?"
"Yeah, one of the two. It has to be one or the other."
"What about the Relic," said the girl.
"No evidence, one way or the other."
"I think I need to go and have a little talk with her," concluded Albiana.
Scene 4 of 5: Liope discovers levitation.
After the market Liope returned home and began cooking. The baguette smelled delicious and she took some dried minnows and put them inside. With relish she began eating. Suddenly she was gripped by nausea and started retching. She spit the contents out.... "Spoiled," she muttered. Rinsing her mouth she took a deep breath. Her stomach settled and she continued working. After kneading the bread she took a pan off the rack and began looking around for the grease... the jar was on the other side, by the sink. Reaching acorss the table it was slightly out of reach. "Damn! "she muttered, and the jar teetered. "Hell's bells," she exclaimed, "It's gonna fall," and she strained reaching desperately. But it didn't. Instead the jar leaped off the dry sink and into her hand.
"Wow!" She exclaimed in shock. She dropped it and stepped back to the end of the table. I wonder..."Hell's Bells," she whispered again, extending her hand. The jar slid across the table and leaped once more into her outstretched fingers. "Oh my goodness gracious," she thought to herself. "This is magic! I'm a Witch! I'm a Witch!"
For the rest of the morning she tested her new power on objects around the house. For lighter ones it became second hand... heavier ones were more difficult but with practice she believed she could do much better.
Scene 5 of 5: Elves want to interview Liope.
Varnack refused to have Albiana travel alone. It wasn't because they were engaged he told himself. She was a female, their beacon and represented the Council. He sent two elves along, not wishing to take any chances. While Albiano thought this unnecessary she bowed to his will. She went to Middletown and began making inquiries as to where she might find the Magistrate. Elves in Middletown were not nearly as common as Dead End, and the towns folk were polite but standoffish. At the guardhouse she was told that the sheriff had gone to Dead End. Rather than wait for his return the three went South and that evening found him in the municipal house.
"I hope we find you in good health," said Albiana in greeting.
"I am and the same to you.... To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Just following up on some questions regarding the evidence we've discovered."
"And what might those be?" asked the Sheriff with interest.
"Our investigation shows that the girl who sounded the alarm might have been in a position to see more than she reported."
"Why would she hold back?"
"Perhaps in the trauma, she forgot some of the details."
"What details are you referring to?".
"We think she was in a position to observe our messenger, chased by the Snagar."
"I really doubt that."
"May we speak with her?"
"That’s not such a good idea."
"What if I went into the Tristan Forrest and wanted to question an Elf."
"Then you could tell us the question and we would make the inquiry for you."
"I see," said the Magistrate, "That might work.... but I do the questioning."
"That's fine with me, as long as I’m present."
"Well you see, young lady, that’s the problem. Humans resent having an Elf intruding into their minds."
"I would never do that!"
"Spare me that...please."
"It’s important that we know everything she saw."
"It’s important that we protect our citizens."
"I"ll not probe her mind... I"ll simply observe what her mind illuminates, for the expression of her tongue."
"Translated that means you'll know if she's lying before she opens her mouth."
"Will she know what you’re doing?"
"No, she won’t even know I’m listening."
"I don’t like this."
"Sometimes we don’t like having to share our lands."
"OK! You've made your point... But I’ll be sitting right next to her. If you do more than listen, the interview is over."
"Give me the questions."
Scene 6 of 5: Interview with the Sheriff.
The next day, after her father had departed for the forge, Dumar the deputy, knocked on the door.
"The Magistrate would like to see you in the Hall," he said.
Liope was not wearing the ruby. "Should I go upstairs and put it on?" she wondered to herself.
"What does he want to know?" she asked.
"Just some questions left over from the other day... won’t take long."
"He told me to bring you straight away."
Together they went to the hall. Liope was grateful not to be wearing the ruby because the street was crowded and knowing the thoughts of others had been getting on her nerves. In the hall, sat the Magistrate. There was an empty chair next to him and across the table sat a Elven woman. This was the first time she had ever been so close to one and she regreted leaving the ruby. To her surprise however, it was not necessary. She could read the mind of the Elf lady as plainly as her own. The sheriff motioned her to the empty seat and began.
"Glad you could joined us Liope.... this is Albiana... She is here investigating what happened on the high pasture.... seems one of their messengers has disappeared and they are trying to find out what happened to him."
"I wonder how much she knows?" Albiana thought.
"Who is she and what is she after?" wondered Liope.
"I want you to think back now.... I realize you probably don’t want to dwell on it, but was there anything else you saw that you didn’t tell me about?"
"Like what?" asked Liope.
Albiana was shocked.... her lips spoke but her mind was not illuminated.
"Like a giant bird.... a Galreath is what they’re called.... sometimes they fly over very high up."
"Yes, of course," answered Liope... "It was so exciting...I'd never seen one so close."
Albiana couldn’t believe it.... the cave behind the words was pitch black.
"Why didn’t you mention it before?"
"I didn’t think it was that important... and who would believe me anyway?" I couldn’t even get you to believe about the Snagar.... remember?"
"I admit... I was skeptical... but I was wrong. However, now that you seem to be remembering better.... was there anything else you saw?"
"Like an Elf maybe...?"
Liope was not sure what to say.... she had promised to keep these matters secret.... who was this Elf girl anyway”
Darkness. "She’s holding back... she’s holding back... just a nudge...I just need an edge."
"She's getting ready to hurt me," said Liope with a pleading look.
Darkness.. How does she know my intentions....?
"She is! She is!" Liope cried out.
"The hell she is," said Oriphus, glaring at Albiana "She’ll have to come through me to get to you honey.... and I'll not allow it.... you hear me....I'll not allow it!"
Albiana sucked in her breath and smiled thinly.
"Now this is very important, Liope.... did you see an elf up there around the time you sounded the alarm?"
"I saw the Galreath land, maybe the barest glimpse of something moving, but Elfs are hard to see."
"Did you see any gems laying about?"
"Diamonds, rubies and emeralds?"
"Are they like polished stones?"
"Sort of, but they glitter more."
"No nothing that glittered."
"Thank you Liope... that'll be all. The interview is over."
Liope got up and walked around the table with her head down.
Albiana stared at her in disbelief.... nowhere had it ever happened that a human mind was cloaked from a skilled examiner.... granted she had not extended herself but she wondered if even that, would have done any good. As Liope brushed past she detected the faintest resonance... like singing.... distant and barely perceptible even to her keen senses... and the barest wiff of a fragrance... almost Elven.
Albiana sat absolutely still, her head poised, all her senses straining. The resonance and fragrance were gone. "What the heck was that all about," she wondered.
"What do you think?" asked the magistrate "Was she holding back?"
"Not that I could tell," answered Albiana.
"Anything else I can do for you?"
"No... I appreciate your help... for the next week we’ll be searching down along the river."
"Good hunting," the Magistrate answered, and made the luck sign.