Where is Horo?

((The Golden Oak, Osilan))

Severos focused the thief's image in his head in as much detail as possible. "Create imago," he breathed. A small but accurate to the best of his mind's representation of the old man magically came into existence. As the two beheld the image, others around the tavern set their mugs down slowly at the eerie sight of it. There were low grumblings and whispers. A few patrons reached for their weapons. Oblivious, Severos looked at Orla and asked, "Where is Horo?"

“Where is Horo indeed,” Reise interjected. “Seems to be the question of the day. Inquiring minds all want to know that one.” He shrugged roguishly as he dug into his satchel and took out a scrap of black paper and what looked like black chalk, but its surface shifted like the top of a soap bubble. Multi-colored and rippling. Covering the scrap with his hand, he started to scribble something on it whilst he left Orla to answer Severos’s query.

But she gave no answer, no indication she had even heard the question as her gaze fixed onto the image of the thief that Severos had conjured for them above the table. She stared to make certain and then finally spoke. “Why, I know this man; he is called Shade the Betrayed. I met him twice in the past—once in my garden in the Dalen capital, and long ages ago ere that in the Skeldergate forest when he was still a mortal man.”

“He's not mortal?” Severos asked.

“He is a shadow demon of some kind,” Orla said, uncertainly. “I confess, I am not well steeped in infernal lore...”

Severos nodded, remembering the shadow magic the old man had possessed. “He sounds like the one. But what would this Shade want with the Mortith?”

Orla shook her head. “Your guess would be as good as mine own.”

“Was he a follower of Kelmoran?”

“No. He was a devoted servant to Draken Darkward, who is the son of the great demon lord, Soularous.”

“Draken? Soularous? What would they want with the Mortith?” Severos wondered.

Orla shrugged, at a loss for an answer. “Kelmoran was easily the most accomplished necromancer in all the lands. No one in centuries has approached his level of skill and knowledge of that forbidden art. Perhaps they wish him to work a great magic that not even a demon lord would be capable of?”

“Or maybe, just maybe, Shade was doing the bidding of someone else?” Reise suggested, chiming in with a smile. He had finished scribbling and looked up after something said brought back a memory. “Orla...” he paused, “Do you think that girl...the one with the angsty name is still kicking around? Iris Wisteria...or something like that?” He drummed his fingers on the table. “You know, the one who was so good at all that zombie mumbo jumbo.”

“Oh, you mean Hemlock Nightshade!” Orla said as if only remembering the name herself. “I haven't the remotest idea where she might be now."

“Who is this Hemlock?” Severos asked patiently.

Orla turned back to the young mage. “She too was a necromancer—not at the level of Kelmoran of course—but she was of no mean ability. I have not seen her since the Fall of Dalen.”

“That was over a hundred years ago.”

“Yes, and she may well have perished during the war. But from the stories she told she had been around nearly as long as Kelmoran. Transferring her soul from one body to another. As far as records were concerned, she also had the distinction of being the only ‘legally practicing’ necromancer in the kingdom of Dalen.”

“More a secret one-woman crime unit of the Watch than anything,” Reise explained. “I mean who better to ask who killed a victim than the victim themself? Hemlock also constructed the golem at Jocelynn's Inn that protected the place from bandits.”

“You visited that inn quite frequently,” Orla remarked, a little teasingly.

“What are you implying?” Reise gave a good natured chuckle. “You know I had a dear friend who worked there, and that’s how I learned about the golem and who made it. I just thought if Hemlock was still around she'd be someone we could look to for answers since she's the only necromancer I ever met who wasn't evil or crazy or both.” He turned back to Severos. “Apologies, you asked Orla a question.” Reise held up the thick black paper with Reise Hund, and Horo Inu written on it in beautiful flourishing penmanship. Turning the card back to himself, he tapped it on the table to reveal they both translated to 'Wandering Dog’ in Common. “Does this answer your question, Severos?”

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