Ferasar and the pixies clean up Tehk’s body as best they can, and take her with them out of the town where they bury her with all due solemnity. As they dig, they discuss how they should go about finding Cham and completing their mission. Rit is completely for abandoning the mission and leaving immediately to find Cham. It is only after Ferasar points out that they have no idea where Cham might be that she relents somewhat. “Besides,” she muses, “The Bastard is probably not one of the Stupids that have been after Cham. They’ve never been able to use magic like that. So he’s probably after the Artifacts like we are! So if we find the Artifacts, we’re sure to run into the Bastard again, and force him to give Cham back!” The thought of finding Cham and taking revenge on Thyden cheers up Rit immensely. She even revives enough to turn into Reixelia in order to help with the digging. Ferasar is careful not to mention that once he had the Artifact off of Cham, Thyden would have no reason to keep him alive, and it wouldn’t be the first senseless killing he had done. Cham’s only hope would be that Thyden would still have some use for him once he had the Pentacle.
Once Tehk has been properly buried, Ferasar says a little prayer to Koloka for the protection of her soul, all the time lamenting that he did not know the spell of resurrection, and that they did not have the time to seek out a temple of Tachir with a priest of sufficient power to perform such a spell.
The small group then heads back into town toward the palace, carefully avoiding the inn to avoid any awkward questions that the town guard might have.
Upon reaching the palace, they request an audience with the duchess. The guards are understandably reluctant at first, but when Ferasar shows his emblem of Koloka, a messenger is sent inside for instructions. After a short time, the messenger returns and the group is shown inside where they are met by a clerk who addresses Ferasar, “I’m afraid the Baroness is not accepting petitioners at this time. Even if she were, I’m afraid you would still need to go through proper channels to determine if your request truly requires the baroness’s personal attention. You understand that we cannot simply allow just anyone to walk in off of the streets to have direct access to the baroness, even an honored priest of Koloka such as yourself. Perhaps there is something which I can do to help you, sir. What is it that you wish to speak with the duchess about?”
Though he grates at the delay, Ferasar is no stranger to the ways of bureaucracy, but since he does feel that time is short, he decides to try to be as direct as possible while still being circumspect about the precise nature of their request. He realizes that a wrong word that this point could ruin any chances of avoiding bloodshed in their quest to obtain the Cup, “We want to speak with her about a certain… item… which she has obtained recently. We have reason to believe that it is of vital importance to…” Blaise interrupts at this point, “Yeah, we need to take her Cup so we can save the world,” she says, demonstrating that if one wants to be subtle or circumspect about anything, it is best not to bring along a pixie… or at least one that has not been gagged. Rit then pipes up herself with, “and save Cham, we’ve got to save Cham, too!” Blaise looks mildly annoyed, “well, yes, of course we need to save the big dummy…”
“Cham is NOT a dummy!”
“He’s the one who got himself kidnapped.”
“So, he was caught by surprise while he was asleep!”
“Exactly, a big dummy!”
“You take that back!”
Ferasar interrupts what appears to be about to turn into a full blown pixie fight, which is not anything that anyone wants to be near. At least not if you want to keep full use of all of your limbs or like staying the same shape. “Stop it, both of you! This isn’t helping Cham, Rit, nor is it helping gather the artifacts. Yes, I know what she said, Rit! This isn’t the time. Calm down before…” But it was too late.
The clerk had disappeared quietly into a side door during the exchange, and now guards were pouring into the room. A faint shimmer around each of them suggested that they had been given extra protection against any magical attacks that the party might possess. They do not attack, but they do take up position between the small group and the rest of the palace, leaving only the way back out available to them. The guard sergeant gives a lopsided grin and says to the party companionably, “I think your audience has been denied. It is now time for you to go, if you’d be so kind.”
Ferasar seems about to try to argue, but thinks again and merely says, “Very well, but we will return.” The trio leaves, with the pixies silently glaring at each other, and Ferasar looking thoughtful.
Once out of earshot, Ferasar says quietly, almost to himself, “Alright, perhaps we were a little too… direct. For that matter, expecting the duchess to hand over an item with nothing in return for no other reason than some vague assurances that it will save the world was a little naive of me. So, we have three choices as I see it… We sneak in and steal it, we take on the entire palace guard, not to mention a pissed off duchess who we’re pretty sure is a vampire, in order to take it by force or we find something that she would be interested in to trade for the cup.” Trying to hear the elf speak is enough to distract the pixies from being angry at each other, and the both pipe up at once. Rit says, “We can sneak in easily! No problem!” and at the same time, Blaise says, “We can take ‘em! We’ll blow ’em all to bits!”
Ferasar holds up both hands, “Whoa you two, first of all, no, we couldn’t take them all. There’s too many, and did you see the shimmer in the air around them? They have some sort of magical protection, and who knows what else. Maybe if we still had Tehk and Cham, but not now. And as far as sneaking in goes, yes, we might be able to pull that off, but upon reflection, I’m not so sure that we really want to be depriving a vampire of the only thing that’s keeping her from having to prey upon others. No, I think what we need to do is to find something that will replace it… something that will also keep her fed without harming anyone.”
Rit thinks for a moment and then says, “A bloodstone! That’s what we need: a bloodstone!” At Ferasar’s questioning look, she explains, “Its this kind of jewel-looking thing. It’s supposed to be able to always be full of blood. Evil mages and vampires prize the things greatly. They’re pretty rare, though….” The pixie lapses into silent thought.
Farasar looks thoughtful for a moment, then shakes his head, “It’s a nice thought, but we don’t exactly know where one of these rare bloodstones would be, and we certainly don’t have time to go looking.” He sighs heavily, “Oh well, I suppose there’s nothing for it, we’ll just have to…” Blaise interrupts him, “I… think I may know where something like that is….” The pixie seems hesitant to continue, but visibly steels herself, “I was once… employed… at a factory,” her tone suggests that the word ‘employed’ is merely a carefully chosen euphemism, “the owner, I only saw him a few times, but he was a mage of some sort. The last time I saw him, I was brought in to be part of some… ritual…. During the ritual, he brought out a pendant with a big red stone-looking thing on it. He tipped it up at one point, and what looked like blood poured out, but when he finished, it was still just as full as before. I didn’t see much more, because shortly after that he…” the pixie shudders as if the memory of whatever he did is particularly painful, “…er, that’s when I got away from him.”
Rit looks excited and doesn’t seem to notice the other pixie’s careful omission or her subdued demeanor, “That’s it! That’s a bloodstone! Where is he? We can go get it right now! And we can beat up on a baddy in the bargain!” Blaise looks reluctant at first, as if frightened at the prospect of facing her former master again, but then the thought that not only was she more powerful than before, but she also now has equally powerful allies dawns and she grins back at Rit, her spirits rising, but then she deflates again, “It’s many miles away, even a fast horse would take about a week or more to get there.” Rit looks shifty for a moment then says, “Um… I know a way to get there fast. Ferasar, do you remember that horse that Cham rode back when we found out about where the Pentacle might be? The really really really really really fast one?”
Ferasar thinks for a moment, “Oh yeah, the one that he said he could summon again if needed. But Cham’s not here to summon it.”
Mentioning Cham seems to dampen Rit’s spirits for a moment, but she rallies gamely, “Yeah, well, we don’t strictly need Cham to summon her…”
Rit then chants a spell and in her place is a beautiful white horse, which rears majestically then sidles up to Ferasar, waiting for him to mount.