Rem could order Felk to use his considerable skill and unlock the alchemically sealed chest, probe its contents. Although what would happen when his employer caught wind of this serious breach of contract? Rem thought for a second, removed his helmet and spat angrily on the ground – to the Vortex with her! No, something sinister was afoot and he, a neutral solver of problems had suddenly been placed right in the middle of it. He gave Felk the go and waited, sweating, trying to divine what the contents of this all-important, alchemically locked chest were and, of course, for Bortom's call.
Took another hour before the Hood boss sent them a message; it was done he said, all enemy lurkers were dead and Val, safe. That, however, came not without a hefty price paid in lives – two of Bortom’s girls were dead, another severely wounded. Rem’s manor also took a beating; the dwarf reported that to push trough the wards and ignore the traps, Lurkers applied powerful magical items. Holes were blown in the walls, windows broken and part of the outer wall, gone. Rem could care less about that building! Things were personal now and the solver of problems always poised to finish those, who threatened him and his allies. That the Hoods were now close friends was impossible to deny. Bortom even waived off the last payment, which Rem had promised to him; the dwarf was in a state he had never seen him before. Overtaken by cold, calculated rage, the Hood boss had ordered all of his assets in or around the Eastern Gate, activated. Meaning that now, whatever Rem did, he’ll have at least one, maybe two Hoods to back him up in a pinch. Moreover, the solver of problems had his own information gathering network to rely upon. As extensive and professional the aid of his informants was, their reach was not limitless. Yet, the Hoods had eyes, ears and magics sprawling the whole length of Krart, therefore, both sources of information combined would greatly speed up his investigations. Bortom’s message included extra details; it appeared that the Lurkers had a magical chain forged between them, and their current employer. Rem was unsure what the limits of this powerful spell were, but as Felk mentioned, the master of these Lurkers could’ve listened, even watched through his minions’. Therefore, after they were vanquished, their master would know instantly what had occurred and right now, said persona was probably so deep in hiding, Rem would need a throng of detectives to locate him. Or her, the solver of problems cared not; be that the Countess herself playing a game of magics, or someone else, Rem’s list of enemies had grown longer once more. He would risk it and pay the movers, the manor still had supplies, weapons and armor left within, not to mention Felk’s assortment of magical items and potions. During the battle all of his pets, which he left behind to guard his summer home, aided the Hoods. Both Mushu and Letuchio had sustained grave injuries; only the eagle miraculously managed to pull through and was now resting on a cart, traveling under Hood escort towards Krart’s Eastern Gate. Val was there too, a tad bit traumatized but in good health; it seems that the weapon he gave her enabled his maid to successfully shoot dead one and wound another of the Lurkers. Rem sighed and combed his mind for odd pieces of information; apparently he now had to track down the murderer of that old, annoying elf, the locksmith Vervic. Start from the bottom and go up, systematically, just like a proper solver of problems would. Unravel this mess and finally discover why, for Kan’s sake, another powerful person would waste huge amounts of resources and send a dozen Lurkers after his maid. To him, Val was a faithful servant, a friend even, and Rem reviled anyone who dared threaten his friends. It seems that, after all, the cult which was after her and he thought finished for good, wasn’t completely gone. That, or there were others who shared goals, convictions similar to those of the long dead fanatics. They proved to be a problem and most annoying one at that. Such troubles needed to be solved and in a most permanent, deadly manner. Felk was keen to check what the contents of this high-magic book were; the lich claimed it would take him at least two, maybe even three months to safely open it, and then another, just to be extra safe, before he began reading from that ancient tome. If that book was one the Countess’s main goals, Rem would not be even a little bit surprised.
Felk was now mumbling his incantations and breathing mana into the alchemical lock. Whomever made the thing, Rem was sure that the lich would successfully pry it open and, without triggering the wards. There existed no mage, that he knew of, and Rem indeed had befriended many, who would leave a prized possession locked inside a chest without warding it afterwards. Locks could be unlocked, chests split open, and either by brawn or cerebration, your expensive items looted. People often hired him to do exactly that and even though he’d already stolen countless of purses, unlocked hundreds of chests, those fitted with alchemical locks were one of the hardest to open. Felk’s eyes and wide open mouth unleashed a thick bluish mist made of mana, which surrounded the Countess’s chest and for a moment, even the darkwood it was made of, glowed in blue.
“Merhanateer! Guide my skill, oh Master of Seals, you, most faithful servant of Kan! Allow us to pierce through these walls made of magic, and uncover what rests hidden inside this chest.”
Felk’s words of prayer followed the incantation, which most normal people would not understand. Even Rem, who knew quite a lot about magic, was like a child when compared to the wise old lich. They were all instructed to stay at least thirty feet away, hidden and arms at the ready – nobody knew what might be locked within. Even if it was some ancient thing, a monster of sorts, Rem assumed that Countess Levoah had the decency of installing protective magics. There was a spark and then, there was a hiss accompanied by the screech of magic pushing magic away. Felk then extended his magikinesis, touched the chest and carefully, inch by inch, he pushed the lid up. With a silent creak, the chest’s lid opened and rays of golden light emanated from within, gently illuminating the lich’s hollow eye sockets.
“Kan’s Grace! Rem, everyone, come and see…”
What was it that the sly Countess had sealed within? Maybe that was the golden aura of some ancient and full of forgotten magics artifact? That or even… dragon bone? With baited breath Rem, now standing next to his friend, looked down. His eyes studied the treasure inside and he gulped confused, averting his gaze from the chest’s contents.
“Felk… by the Vortex! Do you know what that means?”
“No, I maybe a Kannite like you, Rem, but what I am most definitely not, is a priest! Quick, pick it up and let us depart this place!”
“But, are you sure I can… I mean, is it even possible for me to touch it?”
“Him, not it and, yes, you should be perfectly ok, Rem. Can’t you see the blue steel bracelet? I am sure that any of us can handle him.”
The solver of problems reached with both his hands and carefully picked up the emanating golden light baby boy. The babe was sleeping but the second Rem touched his body, it awoke, yawned and then smiled. Silvery eyes fully open, the child became aglow with even more energy and then, deep inside his mind, Rem heard a soft, calm voice, who asked him:
“Are you my Father?”
This is the last episode of Rem’s first story. I sincerely hope you liked it and, if any of you wish me to continue with the second story, please say so in the comments below.