With little choice available nor reason to ignore people that seemed like they were trying to help, I went with the small, green, non-goblin man with the large black eyes and the angel. If Malaliel really was an angel- and I hadn’t asked yet- then she should want to help me. Though I might have technically broken some laws, even if I was defending myself. There was no reason for them to lie to me about how things were going, though. If they wanted to lock me up they could just bring in a Super and tell me to handcuff myself. What was I going to do about it? Not much, as a level 11. Though strangely they hadn’t even asked what level I was.
The most important part was they let me take the doughnuts with me. I didn’t need more of them, but it was hard to not just munch on them. I hardly ever got to eat pastries back home, and there were so many interesting flavors. Brown, light brown, red, speckled… I honestly didn’t recognize most of the flavors but all had a sweetness to them.
We got into another magic carriage, this time with markings for ‘Extra’ instead of ‘Police’ and no black-and-white pattern. I couldn’t help but notice how many other magic carriages were around- some just sitting in the underground storage area and others on the roads. “This city must be wealthy,” I commented.
“You’re right,” Zorphax answered. “But it comes with a lot of trouble too. Lots of people want to take it through improper means. Even at a very small percentage of the population it’s a great many people. There’s around… thirty million people here now, I think.”
“That’s… a lot of people in one city.”
“It’s a big city,” he answered.
I supposed that was right. After all, we travelled at a rather quick pace even with frequent stops, and the city still stretched on forever in every direction. Soon enough we came to another large tower- everything was towers, but some of them were skinny and some of them were wide. Once more we drove underground to a guarded magical carriage storage facility. Instead of taking stairs, however, we stepped into a small room. There was an area that had labelled numbers, as well as some starting with ‘B1’, ‘B2’, etc. Zorphax hit the one labelled 1. It had a star next to it, which probably meant something.
I stumbled as the room shook. Was it some sort of teleportation box? Neither Zorphax nor Malaliel seemed concerned about the shaking, but I was pretty sure teleportation was supposed to be steady. Then again, I could never afford to use those services.
When the doors slid open a few moments later, we were indeed somewhere else. If I was correct and we were in the same tower, the teleportation was actually surprisingly slow. Perhaps it was cheaper that way. Even if New Bay was a wealthy city, there had to be a limit to how much teleportation they had available.
We were in a huge room with the biggest variety in types of people I had ever seen. I was used to humans, elves, dwarves, halflings, and of course orcs like myself- but the only kind I saw many of was humans, and the rest of the people filling up the area I didn’t recognize. There had to be at least a few dozen wildly different body types, from small to large, different skin colors, and occasionally entirely different limb configurations. I wasn’t sure if the tendrils trailing from one of the people’s back actually counted as a limb, but I saw two, three, and four arms- as well as someone with an extra pair of legs. The four-armed ones reminded me of a kind of demon, though I had to admit I’d never seen any in person and they didn’t quite match.
The way everyone was waiting in neat lines indicated that everyone was willing to comply with the local laws. Certainly not the chaotic and overbearing nature that demons were said to have. It was supposed to be a core of their being… so either the information I had was untrue, or none of those present were actually demons.
“This way,” Malaliel gestured. “Normally you’d need to wait in line, but given your circumstances we’ll need to process you directly to avoid problems.”
So I followed, hoping that processing wasn’t too painful.
There it was, once again. It had been many years since she set her eyes on Mossley and the mage’s tower outside its walls. Izzy stood proudly at her full height as she laid her eyes on the town. Then she lowered herself. It might be better to check out the situation instead of just assuming everything had resolved itself. Or she could just pass on by. She didn’t have to enter. Turlough might not even live in Mossley anymore. And… they weren’t even really friends anymore anyway.
“You just gonna stand there?” the guard outside the gate asked. “Or you gonna come in? Gates close in an hour.”
“I’m not going to just stand around for an hour,” Izzy said, offended.
“I might have believed you an hour ago,” the guard shrugged, “But then you just nervously bounced on your toes trying to peek into the city. You can just go inside.”At first the guard had found her suspicious, but after checking if there was a bounty or something on her and watching her pace nervously without focusing on anything in particular, it just seemed like someone nervous to come to a new place.
Izzy walked into town. The streets were familiar, basically the same as they had been. Not that they would have had reason to change. The world was relaxed, and so too had been her lifestyle. She would do enough running about town delivering messages and packages to get by, and spend the rest of her time doing pretty much nothing at all. That was the life. No point working yourself to death for no reason.
That thought reminded her she had something to deliver. She should go do that first. Wouldn’t want to be late on the delivery, and they might want it before morning. So she headed to Rordan’s Reagents. She wasn’t sure what all the smelly herbs she was delivering were for, but the pouches were all labelled. She walked up to the counter and hopped up on the half-stool meant for people of her size to properly see and interact. “Delivery for you, Rordan,” she called out.
The grey-haired man stepped out of the back, where the door had been open. “Finally. I ordered that stuff a week ago.”
Izzy shrugged. “I just picked it up yesterday. Not my fault.” She held out the order.
He looked at it and nodded, then signed his receipt as he handed over his portion of her fee. The rest would be paid upon return to the messenger’s guild.
Izzy left the delivery on the counter and walked to the door. Just as she was opening it, Rordan called after her. “Say, don’t I recognize you?”
“… I used to live here,” she said as she let the door close behind her.
Now, what else did she have to do? Ah yes. She should secure a place of accomodation. She wouldn’t want to find out every place was fully booked. She made her way over to the Bumpy Chandler Inn. Mossley didn’t exactly have an abundance of inns, and while the Bumpy Chandler wasn’t the best name, the rooms had been just fine. She greeted the old woman standing behind the counter. “Hello. Do you have any rooms available?”
“Of course,” the old woman smiled. “Two silvers a night. Three with meals.” A reasonable enough price. She handed over the three silvers and got a key in return. “That’s the first room on the second level. Would you like your meal now?”
“…yes,” Izzy nodded. She deserved a good rest after walking all day. She climbed up a tall stool at one of the tables and it wasn’t long before a large bowl of stew was placed in front of her, by the same kindly old woman. Good. It seemed this place understood that halfling portions shouldn’t be smaller than human portions. It took a lot of energy to keep moving all day, even if she barely had any chub to maintain like some.
She wolfed down the stew- she had to admit that the one thing she wished was more her sized was the spoon, but at least its size allowed her to theoretically blow on more of it at once to help it cool. Of course, she just ended up with a scalded mouth, but it was worth it at least while the flavor lingered. Later she would likely regret her haste. But she’d had to eat quick- the gates were going to close, after all. But no matter how much she’d tried, she just hadn’t been able to complete everything in time. Yep. She’d just have to wait until tomorrow morning to visit the mage’s tower, no helping it.
“What do you mean he’s ‘gone’?!” Izzy exclaimed. “Where did he go? He has to have told you!”
Master Uvithar sighed. “I was attempting to explain. Now, if you would let me…?” Izzy nodded grumpily. “If you might notice, there are some unexpected magical signatures here in the room. I recognize Turlough, and I can assure you he was here because,” he held up a familiar pouch, “He delivered my acquisition from Rordan’s. Besides, there are lingering traces of spells I recognize from him.” Master Uvithar’s back was beginning to bend in his old age, but he still stood much taller than Izzy. He walked past her over to a corner of his office. “Here, there are clear remnants of a powerful spell. Far beyond his capabilities and without his signature.”
“I see marks on the floor,” Izzy nodded. “And even I can feel the lingering traces of powerful magic there. So what, you’re saying he was just… disintegrated.”
“I said nothing of the sort,” Uvithar shook his head. “I said that he is gone. This has all of the signatures of transportation magic, though through a means I am unfamiliar with. I took careful notes and have sent for some of my colleagues most familiar with that sort of magic. I am quite perturbed that such a thing could appear in my office and abduct one of my most passionate students.”
“So you’re going to make a portal to bring him back, right?”
“I wish I could say that was within my capabilities, but as I said I have colleagues who specialize in that area. But even if they figure out where he was sent to, it is an entirely different matter to open a portal there… and even if the precise location is somehow divined there is no guarantee that Turlough will be there waiting.”
“But why wouldn’t he wait for us to bring him back?” Izzy asked.
“I do believe you knew him, did you not?” Uvithar raised an eyebrow. “When have you ever known him to sit still for a single moment? With that curse, it’s hard to blame him. Reaping no rewards for studying for hours on end isn’t a pleasant thought. He did as much as could be expected of him.” Uvithar shook his head, “If I thought him a little more reckless, I might have suspected he threw himself into whatever portal appeared here on purpose.”
“But why?” Izzy asked. “Didn’t he have things he wanted here? Like… learning from you. And what about his friends?”
“He learned all that I could reasonably teach him,” Uvithar shook his head. “There’s not much else he could achieve without knowing more spells, and that would require more levels. As for friends, he didn’t have any.”
“… I was his friend,” Izzy hung her head. Sure, it was true that last time they’d met many years before there had been some words between them. And maybe she hadn’t made her thoughts clear or explained why she was going. Or sent him a letter. But he should have known she would be coming back! Somehow. “But you’ll bring him back, right?”
“As I said, I don’t have the expertise. Even my colleagues who do might not be willing to make the attempt. Depending on what happened, creating a portal could be very expensive. At the very least it might cost hundreds of golds.
Izzy reached down for her pocket which had somewhere around ten gold coins in it. That was enough for her to survive for several months without working, if she was conservative with her spending. She knew magic could be expensive, but it was hard to believe it might cost many times that. “It might be easy though, right?” Izzy said. “He could have been taken somewhere nearby. Then we could just go find him.”
“Yes,” Uvithar said. “If that is the case, I’m sure you’ll be able to meet him again soon. But I wouldn’t count on it.”