On our way to talk with Leafglow, Goldrim belatedly mentioned a vision he'd had when I was looking at Bastiens' body. I wish he'd said something then.

He said he saw a single black flower in bloom. Something about it made him think it represented Bastiens. He saw five hands approach from separate directions, at the same time and crush the flower, apparently unaware of each other.

That meant I had missed something! I'd only found four methods of murder, not five. I wanted to go back immediately and find out what else happened, but we were almost to Leafglow's and I got turned down. I had to wait until we returned to the inn after talking to the elf to look at the body again. I thought about it the whole time we were at Leafglow's. How could I have missed something? How could one person have pissed off five people enough so they all kill him? Not just think about it or want to, but actually do it! I'm beginning to think, good riddance. Salt of the earth he apparently was not.

Leaglow's house was fairly large. We knocked, and a Tylean woman in working clothes opened the door. She was quite unfriendly, and after a silly conversation she walked away, leaving us there. We waited for a short time, then knocked again. This time a Bretonian woman dressed in a ballgown opened the door. This was a very strange place. What kind of "artists" are these?

José took no chances and mentioned the dorfrichter this time, and this woman let us in. She wandered through the house, with us following behind like a family of ducks, and finally reached a solarium in the back of the house. She went back to work on the large statue of an elf that was in the middle of the room. On a small stool, positioned so he could both look out the window and watch the sculptress, was an elf we assumed to be Leafglow

However, he did not greet us, but instead completely ignored our presence. José walked into his direct eyesight and greeted Leafglow, who then stood up and greeted José in quite a friendly manner. He remembered José from dinner last night. We all introduced ourselves.

José told him we were looking into Bastiens' death on behalf of the dorfrichter. Leafglow remembered him as "the dark melancholy man at dinner". He remembered nothing else, he said, and had paid little attention to him. He then said "his spirit was too black", and really couldn't help us further.

José recalled he was speaking to Dagmar and asked if she had mentioned Bastiens. He said no.

Then, out of the blue, Goldrim asked Leafglow, "Why the long face when Bastiens' name was mentioned?" Leafglow looked rather angrily at Goldrim, and said "He was a black man: black heart, black soul, black mind." I asked if some sort of illness could have made him appear black, thinking that he had been ill enough to consult the doctor. Leafglow babbled something in reply that made no sense to me at all. Elf-talk, although in the common tongue.

Miara asked in what way did he know Bastiens' soul to be black? He answered "We have our ways". Miara looked frustrated with both her question and his answer. I didn't think that was quite what she had asked, but I had no idea what she wanted to know.

José asked the elf something in elvish, and was answered in kind.

In common, José asked him to come and speak with us if he remembered about Bastiens or anything else that might help us. He then chatted with Leafglow about his little "artist's conclave". He had two artists in residence, the sculptress and a writer, who was a man. The first, surly woman who opened the door was apparently the housekeeper rather than an artist.

Miara reached into a pouch and pulled out one of her paper sculptures and gave it to Leafglow. I don't know why she did, but he seemed quite taken with it. He showed it to Mimi, the sculptress, and then disappeared for a few minutes to find an appropriate place to put it. When he returned, he was quite friendly, and said we were welcome to stay. We looked around at some of the art on display. Some was nice, some junk. He said he was a patron of the arts, not an artist himself.

We were looking at a vase in an alcove when he glanced at me and then looked more closely, as if startled. He said, "Madam monk of Bianca, I notice that you are wearing an elven pendant. Could I ask who gave it to you?" I told him the truth, that we had been in the chaos lands and met a group of elves who were hunting chaos creatures. After working with us on hunting them down, the elf in charge presented us with these pendants and said we had earned the right to wear them. Leafglow seemed impressed, "I did not realize you were warriors of such stature. Can I ask you the favor of a story over dinner tonight?" Not sure where this was heading, but figuring if Miara could gift him with her art, I could get us all invited to dinner to make him happy and talk some more, I said "I would be happy to." He invited us all to dinner that evening, as long as we each brought a story to share.

As we left, Leafglow apologized to Goldrim for offending him and made sure he knew he was welcome to dinner as well. It seems all you need is tell him good stories and give him art and he'll be quite happy to talk to anyone.

On our way back, Goldrim said that Leafglow's last statement was sincere in the apology, but he was trying to make it seem that the purpose of the apology was because he was afraid of Goldrim, but he wasn't. I didn't really know what Goldrim meant by that, but I could easily believe that the elf would use misdirection in speaking with us.

Once at the inn, I immediately returned to the basement to look at Bastiens' body again. Goldrim and José came with me, but the rest stayed upstairs. I looked very carefully at everything, with both my eyes and that internal eye of mine. I knew there was a fifth way of death, so I searched until I found it.

I was careless the first time I inspected the body to have missed it. But really, who expects one person to be murdered in so many ways at the same time? He had actually been poisoned twice with manbane. The first time included an agent to slow it down, the second was direct and was consistent with the report of Leafglow's dosing Bastiens' food.

Back upstairs, Prestley was just coming back in. He'd apparently had a discussion with the pudding lady, whom we had helped last time we were in town. He told us what she'd said. She saw Bastiens leaving the doctor's place in the afternoon. The doctor was dressed in a disguise: fake mustache, stooped more than usual, wore strange glasses, and other small changes. Nothing that would hide his identity from someone who knew him, as she did. She couldn't figure out the reason, but thought it was odd and that maybe it was important.

When he finished, José suggested we go upstairs and discuss things. Up there, he said he could speak with the doctor on their shared interest in magery, and bring up any questions we might think of. His magery alone could be a reason for the doctor to hide his identity from Bastiens.

We came up with some questions for José to ask. The doctor could easily have been poisoner number one, by mixing the manbane in an emulsion with birch sap and yellow wort, which act together to slow the actions of the manbane. I've used it before, although not in lethal doses. There was no real point in having José look for any of that, even the manbane, because any doctor would have them in his pharmacopeia anyway.

José was gone for a while, talking with the doctor. Miara went up to the room we girls shared to putter around. Most of us wandered downstairs to relax until dinner.

José returned shortly before we needed to leave, and he told us all what he had learned from the doctor. He was wearing a disguise for Bastiens because they had met briefly in Nuln, where Bastiens learned of the doctor's magery, which he called a curse. At the time, the doctor was worried that Bastiens wouldn't be discrete, so he left Nuln to come here, where he's been fairly happy. Then, Bastiens showed up here. Due to the disguise, the doctor said he didn't think Bastiens recognized him.

The doctor strongly believes that all magic comes from chaos and is evil, so of course he regards his ability as a curse. I can understand his point of view. Good or evil lies in what you do with your powers, but magic is from chaos, and probably tends towards evil. Thus even good intentions can lead you into doing evil.

At any rate, it was pretty clear to us that the doctor had the knowledge and the materials, the opportunity, and the motive to poison Bastiens. We had no proof, but we were pretty certain the doctor was poisoner number one. Plus we had the suspicion that Leafglow was poisoner number two, although no ideas as to a motive. Perhaps we'd find out more at dinner.

Ravenna, A Monk of the Biancan Order

Part the First:
Blood and Mud

Part the Second:
Murder and Mayhem

Part the Third:
Puzzles and Crystals

Part the Fourth:
Dwarves and Rocks

Part the Fifth:
Diplomacy and Daggers

Part the Sixth:
Crystal and Chaos

Part the Seventh:
Sheer Insanity

~ The End ~