Leila and Zeke continue to run down the busy city streets of Igstanpur while being pursued by guardsmen. The Inquisitors followed the two to the bordello, ‘the Palace of Love’, run by a female half-orc named Drakka. A short skirmish in a cloistered office room, followed by a daring escape through window glass, the pair were no closer to finding the mysterious Azmal or the Eyes of Ashara.
Leila and Zeke zipped through the crowded market streets, the city guardsmen surprisingly were keeping pace even with their overbearing armor. But their stamina failed even with their zeal and valor, the duo escaped into a tattered bar tavern nearly two districts away from the bordello. Out of breath, the two wisely decided to rest and plan their next move. The Inquisitors would not be far behind them, a fact that kept Zeke cautious and attentive. Leila seemed at ease, calm after their sprint through the market district moments ago.
This was her city, she most likely knew it intimately, the young man thought. He pressed his back against a stone wall while taking a sip from a wooden cup. “Tell me you have an alternative plan?”
Leila remained silent and distant, her crimson red hair had become wild since their run. Her purple eyes did not dull but pierced into some unknown visage that Zeke could not see or understand.
“We could try Old Gray,” she muttered.
“Will our ‘friends’ find us with this Old Gray?” Zeke sneered.
“No. Old Gray is not really a person in the conventional sense.” She replied.
“Well there’s no sense in waiting, they’re on our tails and I suggest we continue moving if we are to find your friend and this artifact that everyone seems to be vested.” Zeke chugged the rest of his drink and placed the empty cup on a nearby shelf. He remained vigil while Leila got herself ready.
Leila led the way and the young man followed close behind. The two concealed their faces through veils and the hood of their cloaks. No telling where the Inquisitors kept their eyes or where they prowled. Zeke retrieved a piece of black fur from a satchel and channeled his will to the fur piece. Their steps became lighter and a calm breeze began to eclipse over them. Leila felt the flow of power, her steps became hesitant for a moment but quickly regain their pace.
“You’re full of surprises,” she said. A quick turn so that their eyes met briefly.
“Just a trick I learned in my travels, hopefully it’ll divert any unwanted gazes,” Zeke calmly assured.
The pair arrived in front of a large stone wall, there were some angled stairs off on one side, the streets had become calmer and less occupied than the other districts. They scaled up the stairs and arrived to a small pavilion that overlooked a large expanse below. It was a necropolis, there was a reason there were walls so tall.
“I sense why you said Old Gray was not quite a person.” Zeke commented. A stinging burn crept along the left side of his face underneath the eye-patch. There was residual essences of magic, some of the tombs most likely possessed runes and sigils to protect against graverobbers. Those that were not fortunate or rich enough for such care were buried into the ground and left to eaten by worms and the earth.
They walked down past a nearby entryway to another set of stairs into the necropolis. The afternoon sunlight became magnified by the stone walls that encircled it. There were no barely any guards, and even very fewer commonfolk along the avenues and boulevards of the dead. The two arrived in front of large cathedral, the outside looked weathered and ancient. Many of the large idols and statues were broken or worn from time, a dead tree in the center of the pavilion greeted them as they made their way to the tall front doors.
Leila pressed through the doors, leaving a large enough gap for Zeke to enter as she promptly closed it behind them. It did not take long for Zeke’s eyes to adjust to the light inside, the chamber hall stood several stories tall and rows of stained glass with religious effigies the opposing sides. Depictions of valor and justice, some of mercy and hope, and stories of the heroics of the Gods. The wooden benches were old, they had seen little use for a number of years. The air was stale and heavy, tattered carpet led up to the abandoned altar. Lelia continued ahead towards the altar, Zeke noticed her retrieve something from a pocket and clutched it in her hand. The young man kept a cautious stance, his hand on the blade hilt while the other hand remained concealed behind his cloak.
Leila raised her hand to Zeke to pause while she continued closer to the podium. Her steps and breath slowed, her eyes closed as she began to mutter into the open air. “A lost girl seeks a lost soul, walk to me and show me the way. Guide me to what I seek.”
The silence continued for several moments, until a shadow emerged from behind the podium. Zeke’s left eye burned behind the patch, poised and ready with his sword arm. Leila remained calmed and composed. A large gray wolf emerged from the podium and stepped cautiously toward the red-haired woman.
“It has been some time, Leilandra of Zehr. You look well.” A voice emanated from the wolf, its snout did not move to form the words. Telepathy, Zeke surmised.
“Hello, old friend. It has been a long time. I need help, I thought of you when my trail became cold.” Leila kneeled in front of the wolf, the creature approached and was carassed by her underneath crimson hair.
“I will do what I can. I’m getting too old for this sort of thing.” The wolf replied.
“I just need some help, and then you can rest again.” Lelia continued while she pet the hound. She stood up and walked back to Zeke who remained cautious.
“This is Old Gray, he’s the warden of this place. He’s a good friend of mine.” Lelia smirked, she toyed with his disbelief.
“I can take a wolf that speaks, I just never thought you be a whisperer.” Zeke muttered.
“Old Gray isn’t any wolf, he’s been here since the city was built. A guardian placed over the tombs by the god, Fang himself.” She answered, a hint of pride in her smile.
“A genus loci,” Zeke stated.
“A being bound to a place as a guardian, protector, ward. It’s a term I’ve heard mages use, they can be very powerful. Very obidient to their tenants and orders. What I’m surprised about, why would it help us? Especially the way he addresses you. Mind filling me in?” Zeke kept his composure, poised to defend himself.
The wolf casually approached Zeke, it’s piercing amber eyes cast his reflection. Leila interjected and stepped up to Zeke instead.
“I am Leilandra of Zehr, daughter of Caslit and Zerah of Zehr. Last of the Zehr family. My ancestor was Mahtiff the Gold, the first ruler of Igstanpur.” Leila stared intently at Zeke, her eyes searching for clarity.
The young man sighed and eased his posture. “I’m sorry. Sorry for doubting you.”
“You had every right to be cautious. I thank you for your patience and understanding. I promise to answer your questions later.” Leila gave a quick bow and turned back to Old Gray.
She kneeled down and stared into the wolf’s eyes. “Show me what I seek, show me my prey.”
Leila and Old Gray remained silent for several moments. A sort of divination, Zeke thought. He paced around them, patiently waiting. When the ritual finished, a sudden shift and Leila toppled to the ground. Zeke managed to grab a hold of her in time, she remained nestled in his arms. The metallic arm now exposed. Old Grat eyed Zeke for a few moments before turning to leave. The young man laid Leila down, concealed his metal arm and looked up to find nothing within the chamber hall. No wolf in sight, chapel doors left with a small opening.
“Guess I’ll have to play by ear,” Zeke muttered.
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