The Hound took off around the small Chapel toward the high sandstone wall.
The others spread out slowly, the Healer disappearing into the shade of one of the poplar trees, the Witch Hunter striding after the Hound, the Captain stepping closer to the monk, sword coming free.
There was a long moment of tension in the hot sunshine. Then a grated voice in imperfect elven, “Bright Lady,” it said, full of strange guttural respect, “in the name of relations between Elves and Wolfen, I ask you to create a truce and speak with me.” In retrospect, it sounded like something memorized as a child, and not fully understood. Also, as it turned out, everyone but Claret spoke the Elvish language, so it was not a privileged communication.
Graciously, Illyria agreed, and agreed to climb atop the Temple to meet with this Wolfen to reveal himself. Bravely, she climbed the poplar tree and made her way, light as clouds, along its branches, to settle on the roof.
In a rippling wave, performing a very rough facsimile of the formal elven greeting, a massive wolfed became visible. Dark fur covered in seemingly-meaning dark stripes of mud or tar, bearing a massive long bow and wearing climbing gear on a dark leather vest, he appeared. He introduced himself as Khem, one of the brothers of the Quiet Step. As seemed to be the story in Farran’s Outpost, he presented them with more problems than answers.
He had come at the behest of some (revered) “Speaker”, who had visions of Wall Dwellers (humans in the fort) bowing down before some kind of life-stealing being he called a Grey Walker. They had thought, originally, it was a ghost or a demon. It had killed many of them over the last year. Now it seemed to be wearing a mortal form, and changing it. The humans who’d built their “tents” around the Holy Place (marked by the Elven Tower that Cern occupies) were responsible, stirring up energies they did not understand. The recent attack was an attempt to get into the city and solve the problem. When that failed, this Khem was sent, with his invisibility, to follow the scent he had picked up. Would the Bright Lady broker safe passage, restrain the Hound, and allow him to peaceably follow this trail?
It seemed she would.
Khem investigated. The Matron was frightened. They sent the Matron and the Monk away, on pretext – or perhaps not pretext – of safety. Joining the Wolfen in the house, he confirmed the presence of the Grey Walker in this dormitory, and especially in the attic above, and disappearing somehow into a partially-liftable flagstone outside the window, which he marked.
The Captain and the Healer offered the Wolfen a peace in which to operate, as long as he brokered a stop to the Wolfen attacks. He had no such power, he said, but he would try. If they needed parlay, they should fire a white-fletched arrow at the Claw (the stone outcropping outside of town) and he would meet them there at midnight. He departed swiftly, taking the rope with him.
The Witch Hunter was not so easily dissuaded. Gathering men and tools, he excavated paving stones, finding a solid block capstone chained to something under the earth and set in a pale, smooth stone that bore a passing resemblance to the white stone that made up Cern’s Tower. Unable to dig below the shaft the capstone was set in, all manner of attempts were made my the Witch Hunter and Captain Varcrest’s conscripted men (save Median who was on city watch, and also too small to be of use).
Finally, the large Wren and Gavin laid arms around the capstone and made a number of astonishingly muscle-bulging attempts to lift it, each time the groaning protest of metal gave further and further, until, unfortunately, they succeeded in lifting it free of its chain burden, which crashed onto itself far down below as with a *woosh* the stone came free. But with it came some dreadful, nearby radiance of agony. The Hound, the Witch Hunter and Wren were drenched in the awful energy. Alain, at the edge of the pit stiffened momentarily, but seemed unaffected. The hound Yelped, the Witch Hunter groaned and dropped the block, staggering. Wren’s eyes bulged, and he fall backward, ears running with blood, veins in his great arms raised and a color of blue too dark, his skin going pale.
Illyria came with her touch and her senses of the flesh. Wren, she announced, would recover, given time and rest. She sighed and smiled as she laid hands on the Witch Hunter’s back. She shuddered softly and the blood stopped dripping from his nose, and a more normal pallor regained ascendecy in his skin.
Wren was sent back to the barracks with Burl and Krunnik.
After they were gone, the Witch Hunter hoisted the 2-foot block of stone from its chimney again. No pain flooded forth. Illyria smirked in the background. The stone had a great hook for a chain and one link on its underside, with some writing in silver upon the stone.
A lantern lowered on a rope into the dark revealed a fallen mass of chain 40′ below in a space large enough not to be visible through the chimney they peered down. There was a circle below of smooth stone, surrounded by writing like on the underside of the capstone.
They peered down and considered what the Mayor needed to know.