Our knock at Leafglow's was answered more properly than last time, and we were led to the parlor. Our host arrived within moments, and introduced us to the writer-in-residence, Jean-Marie Artaud, a Bretonian of course. He was in his mid twenties and was pretty average in appearance mostly: average height, thin long brown hair, green eyes, pale skin. He had buck teeth and spoke in a high-pitched voice with a lisp, probably because of his misaligned teeth. He said he was writing a novel, a murder mystery. How appropriate, I thought.

Miara presented a scroll with her writing on it, and a picture sort of in the background. I guess she must have worked on it before dinner. Leafglow studied it admiringly for quite a while, and asked her to read it to him. She said it wouldn't translate properly, but did read it aloud in her language, which sounds kind of musical, but flat. He seemed to enjoy it almost as if he knew what she was saying.

Mimi arrived just he put the scroll away. José asked about Dagmar, but the elf said he didn't know very much about her. José said she seemed sort of a dark person, and the elf agreed and said she seemed frightening, not at all a person of delicate tastes.

José asked if last night he noticed anything unusual. Leafglow said everyone was weird because it was the night of the double full moon. He wouldn't find anything particularly strange on such a night. José asks "What about something more out of character?" and he repeated, no.

Miara asked what weird things happen here, because the night of the double full moon is viewed differently here than in Nippon. He said the chaos encourages those of chaotic bent to be more so, and causes those of more lawful bent to be somewhat more reserved or fearful. I nodded: that's what I've seen as well.

José said his bent was obvious, so how does it affect him? Leafglow said he mostly neutral in that way, like most elves. Of course, they are closer to chaos than humans, and some say they are beings of chaos. To José's query on how the elves celebrate the night, Leaglow replied, "We recognize the day, as do most in the Old World, and there are certain rituals that are typically said by the more devout. More to simply mark the day than celebrate it or protect against it."

At last, the housekeeper arrived and told us dinner was ready to be served. We followed Leafglow into the dining room, where he requested that several of us sit in particular places, but let the rest sit where they may. He had been considerate enough to provide seats sized comfortably for Goldrim and Prestley. I sat across from him, Carmella next to me.

When the serving woman brought us bread, I noticed she was the baker's wife. Unfortunately, our plates were brought to us ready for eating, rather than simply placing food on the table for us to take as we wished. I inspected my food and Carmella's surreptitiously but carefully for any signs of suspicious additives, especially manbane. I detected nothing, and indeed none of suffered any ill effects.

Our dinner conversation mostly consisted of telling stories, as he had hinted in his invitation. Each of us told him briefly how we had arrived at this place at this time, so I learned a bit more about the people I'm traveling with.

José has been a brother in training at a monastery dedicated to Varina somewhere northwest along the black mountains. This was his acolyte's trip. Then he said something we hadn't heard before: his field of study was the direct influence of chaos on man. In other words, the uses and misuses of magic, the misuse of wines and beers and other spirits, and any number of other things. This journey was partly to select a more specific focus. He's an elderly man, in his fifties, I'd say, and is a trifle old to be an acolyte. He didn't mention who he was before he dedicated himself to Varina.

I kept my history short and sweet, and I knew the history of everyone else. Leafglow was politely interested in Miara's homeland, but he did not pry, and she spoke only in generalities. I did mention that we had been performing tasks for the druidess in the Yetsin Valley for quite a while. Since our purpose here was to find out more about Bastiens, I introduced the topic and told him right out that we were in Kreuzhofen specifialy looking for Bastiens for the druidess. Again, he seemed impressed by the fact that we're from Yetsin Valley. José expressed some surprise that we didn't know the druidess' name. I figure he can ask her next time we see her again.

Leafglow, in his turn, told us a humourous story about an art dealer in Bretonia, and it was obvious that he considers the Loren woods there as his home. Yet he came to this miserable town "to get away from it all". The Loren woods are not known for being a stressful metropolis.

The Bretonian writer said little, and only when addressed by someone else. Although he appeared to listen to the conversation, he had a faraway look in his eyes that said he was thinking about other things entirely. Mimi, on the other hand, was quite talkative.

Leafglow eventually told another story which we all paid very close attention to. He told us about a Bretonian merchant who was caught smuggling stolen elvish artwork out of the Loren woods, wood carvings and silver scultpures. He was vague about how long ago his tale took place. But he said his elven brethren are very keen to stop such traffic, so if we come across stolen elvish artwork, we should let the elvsih authorities know. He was also vague about what eventually happened to this thieving merchant, but the message was crystal clear: people who mess with the elves and get caught somehow mystically don't do it anymore.

It was clear to all of us that Bastiens was the art dealer who was "taken care of" by the Leafglow himself with manbane, as was witnessed by Gerhardt Stutzer. Mimi was completely oblivious to the true story, and merely spoke of how frightening it was, and how glad Leafglow must be that he wasn't part of all that.

He told a few other stories, as did some of us. Leafglow told us of his father, who was a ship captain and sailed regularly to Lustria. Miara told a story that seemed completely out of character: a sappy tragic love story from Nippon.

After dinner, we moved into the front room again for drinks, dessert, and cigars. I enjoyed the Bretonian wine, and the torte was delicious. Again, no signs of manbane or anything out of the ordinary.

At our request, Leafglow led us around his house and told us about the art he had collected. It was pretty clear that he collected the elven art because it was expected, but chose human art pieces because he liked them in some way. He didn't mentioned any elven pieces that had been recovered from a certain thief, though.

At the end of the evening, Leafglow escorted us to the door. As José exited, the last one to leave, he turned back and briefly spoke with Leafglow in elvish. The streets were empty on our walk back to the inn, and José told us what their exchange had been. José had asked why Bastiens had been killed, and Leafglow answered that he had gotten himself on the wrong side of elvish justice.

Back at the inn, we relayed everything that had happened to those who had stayed behind and then retired to our respective rooms. José returned to the common room below, which he had all to himself.

As I was performing my stretching exercises before bed, I noticed out the window the baker taking his pig for a walk into the woods. I laughed: Night would be a good time to hunt for truffles if he didn't want to be seen. However, that also meant that perhaps he had been up and around last night and saw something. We'll want to talk to him tomorrow, maybe.

For now, we know Bastiens was killed by five different people. Leafglow certainly poisoned him, and the doctor most likely had as well. We suspect Dagmar used a dart, but only on very thin hearsay. We have a long way to go.

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 ~