Dark Revelations. Pt 1.

The day dawned dark and raining, a cold spring drizzle that turned harder as an icy wind from the Dalen Alps brought sleet and freezing rain. The good people of Heiligtum were buttoned down against the storm, huddled warmly inside their homes and businesses, all save for the small, miserable procession that accompanied the black funeral cart trundling through the slush filled streets. In the cradle were the mortal remains of Umeffaeh, aristocratic exile from Sarnia and one-time Royal Wizard. Given the cause of his untimely demise, it was an altogether more sombre affair. Someone had cold bloodedly murdered the mage in his own house, probably agents of the High Church or perhaps elven militants rumoured to be rising in the east. An official criminal inquiry was underway by order of the Varlandic king, who Umeffaeh had performed valuable favours for over the years.

As solemn mourners followed the cart out of the Cathedral of the Fair Lady to the city cemetery, the dreary precipitation intensified. The deceased's young daughter, Aggie, shivered under her dripping umbrella, the heavy mage-robes she wore doing little to keep at bay the damp chill that infused the air. The gloomy weather represented well her present mood. Despite being surrounded by many sincere grievers, she felt quite alone inside. Her father was gone and she would no longer be able to ask him technical questions about magic or about the places he had been and people he had known. They would never be able to settle the profound issues that had lain between them at the time of his death. And she would never have the chance again in life to be able to make him proud of her.

When the funeral service concluded and her father laid to his final rest, she bid goodbye to the vicar, and separating herself from the others offering a mixture of heartfelt and perfunctory condolences, walked forlornly back to her childhood home— a stately, three-tiered stone manor with a columned porch and great arched windows which overlooked one of the main squares in the city.
Within, the decor was both elegant and macabre, such as a vase holding a carnivorous rodent-eating plant, an oil portrait of a tentacled monster, a blood-encrusted spear that trembled ceaselessly in its iron wall brackets, and other strange occult souvenirs derived from her father's worldly travels. Reality sank in that the manor and all the junk it contained belonged to her now. Not that she wanted any of it. There were just too many bad memories associated with the place, and this was also the sight of her father's horrid murder, so she could hardly live here after that, could she?

Aggie stood in the grand entry-hall in the centre of the house, lost in her thoughts. Besides the beat of the rain on the stained glass skylight the place was quiet, allowing her time to contemplate the situation which she found herself in. Did she want to continue her magical studies or pursue a different occupation? How much of her life had been shaped by her father? Was it time now to decide what would be best for her own self-fulfillment as opposed to what--

Suddenly, the floorboards above cracked with the noise of running feet in a house that should have been empty, and a playful giggle came from the hall upstairs. As Aggie turned to look up the stairwell she saw a woman lightly jogging by and wearing Aldous’ trademark robe, him following close behind.

“Come back here with that robe! You need to leave! The mistress of the house will be home any min-” Before he could finish the sentence, his foot caught on the hallway rug at the top of the stairs knocked askew by the woman's passing, causing Aldous to crash and tumble down the stairs, landing with a final thump at Aggie’s feet. Unhurt, he smiled impudently at her. “Hello young miss… I didn’t expect you back from your father's funeral so soon.”

Aggie glared down, a look of outrage etched across her somewhat plain features. “Didn't expect me back so soon?!” She hauled off and slapped him as he crawled to his feet. The slap stung her hand but she hardly registered it in her fury. “Why you no good, disrespectful lout! Cavorting with wenches under my father's roof! Is that what you were doing when he needed your protection?! Rutting with whores?! For that alone, Aldous, I should banish you back to the hell where you belong! That way I'll never have to see your stupid face again!”

Aldous flinched back a bit at the sudden uptick in Aggie’s voice. “Before we continue with this, please allow me to get the women out of your home.” Vanishing back up the stairs and returning wearing his robe, and the woman dressed. Searching her before she was let out to insure she didn’t take any magic relics.

“Okay let your anger fly. Get it all out then I can try to explain myself if you will let me. I don’t think you will ever believe me even if I do but I want you to understand a few things about this situation.” Aldous kneeled like he did when Aggie’s father gave him orders. “Really let me have it.”

“Oh, what’s the use? You’ve always been like this. It would be a waste of breath to waste another whit of energy on you!” she seethed.

“Aggie…do you remember when you were a child, and your father told me. ‘Protect her with your life’. That is exactly what I did. I followed orders, your father was diving to deeply into things he doesn’t...didn’t understand. He thought he could do things mortals were not meant to delve into. Your life was in danger, I protected you by removing the danger your father posed to you.”

Her angry expression fell away as her face paled. “Wh-what? What are you… what are you saying?”

“When was the last time you were in your father’s lab?” Aldous stood looking somberly at Aggie.

“Why do you ask that?” she said, staring at him closely. “Well, it’s been several years, I suppose…”

“I think you should come with me.” Aldous said walking over to the door leading down to the basement lab of Umeffaeh.


“You will see.” Aldous raised his hands in a practiced manner, making sweeping motions and signs with his hands, an arcane circle drawn into the air that dispelled the ward on the door. “Prepare yourself Aggie…” Aldous’ voice carried an air of not wanting what will come next.

Sensing the ominousness of his tone, Aggie mentally braced herself, and followed behind him inside.

(cowritten by Rosemary)

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