Had some vacation time and put a lot of work into book 3. Just when our heroes thought it was safe, dark things start rearing their heads again. It looks like the Serpent Cult was not vanquished after all. Information comes to light that leads our Heroes in a new direction, and new allies appear to help them. Here is an excerpt from Book 3, the Dark Monolith:
A short while later, Seth had reentered the performer’s campsite. The entertainers for the party had parked their wagons and pitched their tents on the hillside between the town and the keep. Earlier in the day, Seth had spied a number of new wagons at the other end of the camp. Upon further investigation, he had found a large serpent hidden in one of those enclosed wagon. Now, he slowly crept between those same wagons, invisible thanks to his magic cloak, and virtually silent. Abruptly, he heard an unfamiliar voice behind him.
“Where are you going little one?” it said softly.
Seth started and quickly spun around. A tall human female stood outside one of the wagons he had just passed. He could have sworn there was no where there a few moments ago. The strange woman was dressed in gypsy’s garb. The most striking thing about her though, was her bright violet eyes. They were currently staring right at him, even though he was supposed to be invisible.
“Yes, I can see you,” she said quietly, as if reading his mind.
Seth walked cautiously back over to the woman, keeping an eye out for anything that might be a trap. He stopped a few feet from her.
“Who are you?” he whispered
“Me?” she said in mock surprise as she pointed to herself. “I am a mere fortune teller,” she responded in a self-deprecated tone.
Seth eyed the woman skeptically. This was no mere fortune teller. Especially if she could see him while he was invisible.
“If you must, you can call me Elistra,” the woman continued with an amused expression on her face. “But what you really want to know is how I can see you when you are invisible. Am I right?”
“You might be,” Seth replied noncommittally. She was exactly right though. Seth was no novice to magic; he knew full well that wizards and sorcerers could cast spells to see the invisible.
They could even make items which would enable the wearer to see invisible things. Perhaps this woman was wearing such an item. She did have a number of rings on her fingers…
“No, it is nothing I am wearing,” she answered his unasked question, still appearing quite amused with the situation. “Let’s just say that I have certain gifts. And these gifts provide me with advantages that most people do not have.”
Seth was not often taken by surprise, but he was not quite sure what to make of this Elistra. She was either really good at reading people or she could actually read minds. Seth had known quite a number of carnie folk growing up and he knew most of the cons. Thus he was not that easy to read. She had caught him by surprise at first, but now he was on his guard. He decided to play along with her.
“So what are these advantages?” he asked nonchalantly,
Elistra placed a finger on her chin as if deciding how best to explain.
“For one I can see and hear things others cannot,” she finally said. “For example I can speak with spirits, and sometimes I can even divine the future.”
“That must be pretty useful…” Seth replied as he studied the woman carefully.
“It can be at times,” she nodded, a full-fledged smile sprouting across her lips. She appeared quite sincere.
So she is either trying to con me, or she is just plain nuts he thought archly. Still, there was a small possibility that this woman was some kind of psionicist. Someone with psychic powers. Either way though, Seth did not trust her.
“But it is not all fun and games I can assure you,” she continued quite casually. “It is a good thing that you are skeptical. There are dark forces at work here and it is best that you are on your guard.” She paused and watched him closely, waiting for his response.
Seth, however, was not in the mood to play guessing games. He stood and stared back at her, refusing to speak. The gypsy woman finally took a deep breath and sighed.
“Very well,” she began seriously, all traces of amusement gone. “I know that you and your friends are seeking them out. My instincts are telling me that I should help you uncover them.”
“My friends?” Seth replied cautiously, not willing to give her any bit of information.
“Yes, Seth, your friends,” she replied candidly. “I know who you are and who your friends are as well. You Heroes have become somewhat of a force for good in this area in these last few weeks. That is something that will be sorely needed in the days ahead. If I can help you in some small way, then that will be beneficial for us all.”
Seth mulled over what she had said. It didn’t surprise him that she knew who he, or his friends were. There had been gossip about them all over town. That could have easily spread to neighboring towns by now. Even Fafnar had alluded to hearing their name. He was still not quite sure whether he believed what she was telling him though. He finally decided to test her.
“That’s all well and fine,” he replied slowly, “but what I really need to know right now is if there are any more of these Serpent Cult folks around. Can your gifts tell me that?”
A smile crossed the gypsy woman’s face once again.
“Why yes they can actually.”
Her head tilted back and her eyes took on a faraway look. It reminded Seth of when Glo was in contact with his raven familiar. It only lasted a few moments, then her eyes finally cleared and her expression grew quite serious once more.
“While I no longer detect serpents or dark magicians in the area, I do in fact feel something dark emanating from that carriage.”
She pointed to an enclosed wagon about a dozen yards to his left. It was not much different than the rest other than the orange sides and green trim. Like all the others, the door was closed and the shades were pulled.
“Well then, let’s go and check it out,” Seth said warily.
Elistra laughed gaily at his measured response.
“Oh, you are the doubter, aren’t you? Very good. Do you want me to lead the way?”
“No,” Seth shook his head. “I’ve got this.”