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Chapter Forty-One: The Search for the Brothers
“Looking for a cult is something that is usually very complex. They leave a web of trails and falsehoods behind them and are protected by legality. But, they hide in the simplest of places. Places that, if someone took a second to think about, should be obvious.”
Wood creaked and groaned as Valtyra and Bubnug climbed the stairs to the second floor. All along the walls was dust, mold and rot, and it only got worse as they ascended. The top two or so stairs were so rotted that Valtyra did not trust her weight on them and had to jump in order to make it over them. Bubnug, not realizing what Valtyra was doing, stepped up onto them, but nothing happened. Valtyra gave him a look of mild annoyance before turning to the double doors to her left. She heard the goblin move down the hall where a door on either side was closed.
The room beyond looked like a study. A long desk sat at the other end of the room with piles and piles of paper, books and trash on top. Behind the desk was a window that looked outward toward the inner city and was cracked throughout. To either side of the desk were two bookshelves full to the brim with books in similar condition as the ones below.
She looked through the bookshelf, finding books such as Maps of Varisia, Religions of the World and The Science Behind Mathematics. There was no book that hinted toward dastardly deeds or evilness, so she moved to the desk. Business papers, requests for transport wagons, and inventory sheets littered the top, but nothing of note.
Sighing, Valtyra called, “Did you get anything Bubnug?”
From the other side of the townhouse, she heard the goblin say, “No, Missus.”
“Well, come on. There is one more floor to check.”
They both climb the treacherous stairs to the last floor. It was shaped and arranged completely differently than the other floors. To their right was a sitting area with a couch, two chairs, and a fireplace, all worn and torn. Two plants, not native to Varisa as far as Valtyra knew, were at either corner of the room closest to the entranceway. The fireplace had charred logs of wood and ash covered the inside. To the left was a set of double doors that are closed shut. Across the way from the stairs was another shut door.
Valtyra pointed Bubnug toward the fireplace while she went across the way toward the single door. She opened the door and entered what seemed like another sitting room. A single armed chair sat at one end of the room with a small round table at one side and a lamp sitting on the table. A book sat open on the chair and a bookshelf stood within a step or two of the chair. Again, the bookshelf was full to the brim, but these books were more fictional in nature, such as The Tale of Big Red, Myths and Legends of Golarion and Verses of the Shackles. The book on the chair, or what remained of it, was called The Legendary Pathfinders.
So, it was a reading room instead of a sitting room. Yet, there was nothing else to be seen, so Valtyra exited the room and moved on to the double doors. Before she opened them, though, she heard a muffled, “Missus?”
She turned around to find that Bubnug had stuck his head into the chimney of the fireplace and his legs dangled in the air. Trying to hold back a smile, Valtyra stepped over to the goblin and asked, “Yes, Bubnug?”
“I found shiny here.” he said, as if trying to get his explanation out as quickly as possible. “So, I climb up and reach for it. But,” he hesitated as if embarrassed, “I am stuck.”
Valtyra’s attempts to hold back her laughter almost failed, “Need help?”
She reached for his sides and grabbed on tight, “I am about to pull. Ready?”
She grunted as she worked to pull the goblin out of the chimney. After a minute of pulling and pushing, Bubnug’s head popped out of the chimney and he fell to the ground dazed. And holding a metal box.
“What is that?” She asked.
Bubnug shook his head, “Locked.”
“Let’s take it down to the others then. Lotho has the key after all.”
After almost falling down the stairs both times, Valtyra walked into the dining room where Lotho and Alicia were talking quietly. They quieted when they saw her.
“I have a gift for you.” Valtyra said with false cheer as she set the box down on the table.
Everyone crowded around the box and studied it. After a minute, Valtyra said, “So. Are you going to unlock it?”
“With what?” Lotho asked, confused.
“That key we got from Aldern.”
“Do you really think it would be that simple?”
As he said it, though, he was pulling the key out of his pocket. He set the key in and turned it. It unlocked with a click and Lotho’s eyes widened. Valtyra could not help the smile on her face as he opened the lid.
Inside was a sack bag full to the brim with platinum pieces and a wooden box. Inside of the box was a few sheets of paper. The first few they pulled out were various legal papers dealing with the townhouse such as deeds and payment information. The last one they pulled was a deed to the Foxglove Manor.
Valtyra pulled it out and started reading, “Know all men and women present and future that we, the members of the Brothers of Seven, upon this day… blah blah blah…. Confirm upon Vorel Foxglove provisional ownership of the holding to be known here and henceforth as Foxglove Manor… blah blah blah… Construction of Foxglove Manor, having been finance partially on the holdings and coin of Vorel Foxglove to the amount of six and sixty percent, and partially upon the coffers of the Brothers of the Seven to the amount of the remainder, four and thirty percent, backed by collateral in the form of the Seven’s Sawmill… dah dah dah… with any subsequent repair and maintenance to be the sole responsibility of Vorel Foxglove or his descendants for the aforementioned period of time of one hundred years. Upon the passing of this time… ownership of Foxglove Manor; to include all lands within a mile around and below, immediately and forevermore reverts to the Brothers of Seven…”
Lotho grunted in thought, “Brothers of Seven. That sounds familiar.”
“It was in the note to Aldern, right?” Valtyra asked.
“So, we have confirmation that the Brothers were involved. But, where are they?”
“Is the Seven’s Sawmill a place here in Magnimar?”
“Possibly. But, I am not familiar with Magnimar. We’ll have to ask around. Again.”
“Better than nothing. We at least have a lead now.” Valtyra was about to put the deed back into the box when she found another object inside. She reached in and pulled out a ledger. It was thin and made of black leather with a thick layer of dust on the outside.
She opened it up carefully. Inside were rows and rows of expenses and savings. All of them seemed very mundane and unimportant, until she reached the last page. Nearly a dozen entries, labeled as paid for the last three months, were named “Iesha’s Trip to Absalom.” Each of them referred to Aldern paying someone named “B-7” 200 gold pieces a week for her trip, dropping off the payment at midnight to a place called “the Seven’s Sawmill.”
Valtyra set the ledger onto the table and, while pointing at the entries, said, “We now have even more proof.”
Lotho looked at the entries, “‘Iesha’s Trip to Absalom.’ Nice try, Aldern.”
“So,” Valtyra said, “Let’s go see what is at the Seven’s Sawmill.”
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