It’s almost one year since I started writing Mary Windfiddle’s story! I’m so proud of it and the perseverance with which I’ve been posting it in here!
Last time we met our heroes, they’d just saved the ruler of Pamagos from an assassination attempt. However, his attackers had been struck with a spell that emptied their minds and so they couldn’t be interrogated. Aurum tried asking Granny Gretel--the hag the group had encountered a few times already--for help, but Mary objected to the price the woman gave them. In order to bring one of the men’s mind back, the hag asked to be given the other, without an explanation what she intended to do with him.
They agreed to try and find another way to deal with this situation and Granny went away, seemingly nonchalant about their decision.
(also, I was finally able to draw Mary's Book of Shadows! How awesome is that?!!!!)
The assassins were handed over to the guards and Mary and her friends were left with Dynatos Perres in the now nearly empty tavern. Most of the people usually drinking there were deterred, either by the attack that had just happened inside, or by the guards positioned outside.
Mr. Perres, still a little weak from his wounds, asked the three adventurers to accompany him home, along with a few guards. They sent him straight to his house, a big place with a nice garden in the front. His wife, Anabelle, a pretty woman a lot younger than him, met him with worry and a little sternness. She thanked the adventurers for taking care of her husband and let him lean onto her to get him inside.
“So, um…” Mary said after the couple had disappeared into the house. “You go on to the tavern, I need to go see what Nymphadora is doing. I’m kinda worried about her.”
“Oh, Nymphadora?” Aurum said. “We’ll come with you.”
“No offence but she’s kinda scared of you,” Mary said. “After the spell and everything…”
“Eh, we’ll wait outside then,” the bard shrugged.
“We don’t want you to wander the streets alone,” Bruno said. “It might be dangerous.”
Mary wondered if she should feel flattered by her friends’ caring or annoyed by their lack of trust in her capability to take care of herself.
She decided to feel neither and they headed out into the night.
The window of Nymphadora's flat gave out a faint light, showing that she was home. When Mary knocked on the door, it opened slightly and Nymphadora’s eye peeked through the crack. She looked like she was preparing for sleep, although it was still quite early in the evening.
“Hey,” Mary said.
“I was… um, wondering how you were. Your friends at the tavern said they hadn’t seen you since yesterday.”
“Yeah, I didn’t feel like going. They’ll probably start asking me about Jared.” Nymphadora looked down and sighed. “And I kinda have no money, so…”
“Oh.” Mary’s throat suddenly felt very tight. “Um… can we do something? For you, I mean?”
“No, just,” Nymphadora raised her head and met Mary’s eyes, “don’t hurt Jared when you meet him, ok?”
“No, of course not!” Mary said, maybe a little bit loudlier than she had to. “I already promised you that!”
Nymphadora gave her a little sad smile. Mary didn’t know what else to say so she just stood in the hallway for a few more moments. Behind the other girl, a small candle was all that lit the room. Mary wished Nymphadora a good night and went out in the street.
“Sooo, how did it go?” Aurum said.
“Did we just ruin this girl’s life?” Mary sighed.
“What do you mean?” Aurum said.
“Well, we did take all her money…”
“You mean our money,” Bruno interrupted. “Did you forget that they were all from your manuscript? If you ask me, we helped the girl live a more honest life.”
“You might be right,” Mary mumbled. “But that doesn’t make me feel any better…”
When they went back to the tavern, Mary left her friends have some evening drinks and retired to her room. It had been a long day.
They’d secured their bank account and had made arrangements with the printing house. Then managed to learn more about both Dorina and the undead attacks. They even got to both meet and save the life of the most influential man in Pamagos.
But she didn’t feel like celebrating any of these successes. She felt guilty about so many things. Things she couldn’t achieve, things she couldn’t prevent, things she could have done more about.
She took out the nail out of her component pouch and stared at it for a long time. Then turned to the last page of her Book of Shadows and found an answer under where she’d written her last message to Gillean.
“Yes, Mary? What do you need to talk about?"
She took her pen and wrote:
“I was hoping that we could talk face to face.”
The answer came almost immediately.
“I don’t have the components to summon you right now.”
Mary sighed. She really wanted to see Gillean again. She was beginning to think that he might have been just a dream.
“Then I’ll just ask,” she wrote. “Can you take back a magic spell that you’ve granted me?”
“Which spell and why?”
“The one that’s used to paralyze people…”
“The one that lets you stop them without killing them???”
“Yes, but it hasn't worked like that! The first time I used it, the paralyzed person got killed anyway. And the second, it shattered two people’s minds!”
“That dragonborn monster would have killed the duergar regardless of your spell. And it wasn’t you who broke those men’s brains.”
“I still don’t want the spell, though,” she wrote.
“All right. Whatever you wish.”
Suddenly, Mary had a realization.
“You watch us all the time, right?”
She could almost feel the lie emitting from the page.
“But you saw the fight today. Did you see who cast the ‘Feeble Mind’ spell?”
“No, I didn’t. Sorry.”
She was about to write a ‘goodbye’ when a new message appeared on the page.
“I’ll soon have a mission for you.”
“Not another dragon, I hope?”
“No, something even worse. Elves.”
“Oh, good. We’re just heading to Myth Adofhaer.”
Mary had just written that when a thought occurred to her.
“Wait,” she wrote quickly, “light* elves or dark elves?!”*
There was no answer.
Ooh! Goodie! Another mission! If we take the last one into consideration, Mary has a point to be worried. What do you think it’s going to be? Would she have to fight the elves to plant Gillean’s tree?
Anyway. Next time we’ll have the most special Interlude – the anniversary one!!! Hope to see you there, for the Q&A (if you give me Qs to A!) and some art that you’ve never seen before.
See you then!
And be well!
(Also, here's a link to the Chapter Guide and the Glossary for the series. You're welcome!)