We closed down the Red Bull, until we could find someone to manage it for us. Until the villagers and the usual traffic returns, there wasn't enough business to keep it going anyway. We took the rest of the food with us and we bought a little in the village, but there wasn't much left. We'll forage as we travel to Eyrie.

We carry with us some effects of the horrific thing we saw at the mansion. I still cannot bear to be in complete darkness, and Goldrim has become very hard of hearing, and he says that things just don't taste like they used to. He tries, but even beer has lost its flavour to him.

The dorfrichter was happy for us to take what we wished from the doctor's house. I was able to replenish my medicines. I think José took some of the books with him. Omi elected to stay behind, not wishing to risk further injury to his arm until he thought it was healed. I couldn't tell him it was already fine, so I just "examined" him. I told him it was healing well and that he would be able to remove the cast in a couple of weeks. He expressed surprise that it would heal so quickly, and I convinced him that it hadn't been broken as severely as he thought.

Miara again asked Son if he wished to remain in the village and return to a quiet life, but he was determined to stay with her as long as she'd let him. He seems to want nothing more than to serve her in whatever small ways he can. She spoke to José about teaching him to cook, a useful skill for one's servant.

A few days out from Eyrie, Ash returned from his hunt in the forest for food and said he'd found an old encampment of about five orcs. It was days old, too old to bother chasing down.

We climbed up into the mountains, and the late summer became an early fall up so high. As we trudged up the trail, we could see Eyrie's flags waving in the wind, then they would disappear again behind the cliffs. We finally came to an open area between two cliffs, certain we had at last reached the pinnacle. But ahead of us was a narrow, winding track that wound up the side of one of the mountains. We zig-zagged up the mountain in the thin air, and finally reached the monastery of Eryie.

It was on the other side of a wide and deep ravine, with nothing but a rather flimsy-looking bridge with no rails. It was at least a hundred feet across, and the bridge was only a few feet wide, just enough to allow passage of a cart. In the unpredictable weather of the mountains, it was intimidating. However, on that day, the weather was clear and the wind blew gently from the south, with no dangerous gusts. We crossed the bridge easily and safely.

As we approached the portcullis, José took the lead. After all, he was a monk of their order who was coming here long before he met us. On the other side, a human guard stepped up and said in a bored voice, "State your name and business." Then he looked up at us and he recognized some one of us and said, "Hold on, it's you, isn't it? Come in!" And he ran to open the door. We looked around at each other: we couldn't tell which of us he recognized, and none of us admitted knowing him.

He apologized as he urged us inside and shurt the portcullis behind us. He said they were expecting us, but not right then.

We followed him down a wide tunnel that opened into a huge natural cavern. We walked all the way across to wide, carved stairs leading up. Goldrim looked impressed and complimented the workmanship. Dwarven, apparently, as he never approves of human-built things. Not surprising, as this monastery is known to be a place where both humans and dwarves live.

As we passed the second landing, several hundred steps up, I was compltetely out of breath in the thin air. The thin air didn't seem to bother José, who chatted with our guide, asking him the questions we all wanted answered. We discovered that they've been waiting for us since Yazarin died, 57 years ago. The prophecy he left behind didn't name us, but described us quite well, apparently. José was included with our group as one of us. I scowled. I hate being a pawn of the gods.

But at last, we reached the top, where it opened into the sky. The walls rose up from the cliff. Against the walls were the buildings of a small town. There were four towers at each corner, and one building in the middle. He led us past a statue of a blue dwarf, who we instantly recognized from his appearance in our fire when he urged us to come here. That had to be Yazarin of the "prophecy".

The guard didn't pause long enough for us to have a look, thouogh. He led us up to a two-story building with outside stairs that led us to the second floor.

At the guard's knock, there was a quiet answer from within, and he opened the door. He suddenly became flustered and realized that he was supposed to have taken our weapons, and that it was also a very small room to fit so many people in. He offered to hold our weapons for us, and we could leave anything bulky we were carrying at the foot of the stairs. We left our packs downstairs, but everyone ignored his request for their weapons, and he didn't push it. He did ask Jason's last name, and giggled when he answered "Featherhand," but left without explanation. We squeezed into the room, jockeying for position.

The elderly gentleman sitting behind the desk introduced himself as Gregor, the Roostmaster. Miara bowed deeply to the man, surprising me, and Hy followed her lead, as always. I nodded to him politely, as the head of a monastery but not of my order.

He was quite old, at least seventy I guessed. Throughout our meeting, he mumbled, and rambled, and often forgot just exactly what he was saying to us in the middle of it.

He shuffled around us and shut the door, mumbling, "Glad you came, especially on such short notice." Miara started to tell Goldrim what he said, then had to translate for Hy as well. Repeating everything twice was not going to be possible, and she said, "This isn't going to work. Someone else will have to tell the White Fairy what's going on." Prestley climbed up onto his shoulders, enabling him to see what was going on, to save some floor space in the crowded room, and to whisper in Goldrim's ear. Miara has perfected the art of repeating everything to Hy in their language quietly, without disrupting the conversation.

Before the Roostmaster started rambling on again, José said, "I conefess to being slightly mystified on exactly why we're famous here. Exactly, what is this prophecy? I'm brother José from the Our Lady's monastery in Estalia. I'm on my acolyte's journey, and I met this group of fine people in Kreuzhofen and I have no idea what prophecy you're speaking of."

The Roostmaster paused to put his thoughts together, then made sure we had at least a vague idea of who Yazarin was.

In its present form, he told us, Eyrie is a little under 100 years old, mostly built by Yazarin, though no one knows why he came up here to rebuild it. He died about 50 years ago, and left a prophecy about a group of people who would turn up and "something" would happen. He didn't remember what that "something" was. Having run out of steam, he asked if we wished tea, and Miara answered yes for all of us. Tea was brought.

Then he continued in his rambling way. The prophecy said that danger was on all sides, then people will arrive and sort it all out, and those people were described as us. Then he said just this morning, he was talking to Yazarin (I would have assumed he was just a dotty old man if I hadn't seen Yazarin in our fire that night), but didn't know if he was listening. He said to expect us, and here we were. There was a mesage to us from Yazarin, but he couldn't remember, of course. Yazarin had told him to cut open the cover of some book, and he'd find something meant for us. It was a valuable book, and he didn't really want to, but since Yazarin had told him to, he did. Sure enough, there it was, in the binding of the book.

He held the parchment out, and Prestley took it, being close, and read it to us all. I have it here, and this is what it says:

Greetings honored Roostmaster
- whoever and wherever you may be.

I am old and weak, and I sense that this is my final illness. Soon the Mason will come to seal me in my tomb, back in the Element from which I sprang. I have given him my seven silver coins in advance, as is his due.

If you are reading this, then my vision was true. The time of Eyrie's greatest peril is upon you. It is the time of my prophecy. Those whom I have foreseen shall arrive at Eyrie shortly. You will recognize them from my verses. Heed them and help them, but do no wrong and suffer no wrongdoings from them - I have foreseen that the love of Eyrie is not the greatest of their motives.

Before you is the first of my clues, to be given to the Foreseen along with these words. To find the second clue, wait until the dinner hour and seek where my line runs true. Each clue will lead to the next, and all lie within the walls of Eyrie. When they have all eight - or was it seven, my memory is not what it once was - they will be able to use them together to find that which they seek. Ask not what it is - they know, and I know, and you shall know if need be. Its fate and theirs are entwined with that of Eyrie, although this may not always be clear to you.

Hurry, for now the time has come for deeds, not words. Those who come will know of what I write.

Yazarin, his Mark

Even more disturbing was the portrait he handed us: a portrait of us, exactly as we appear in life. So it appears I'm sentenced by the gods to be involved with these damned rocks. I hate feeling like I'm no more than a pawn on a chess board, being pushed around at the whims of unseen beings greater than I. It would serve them right if I just turned around and left right now and retired into a nice quiet Biancan monastery for the rest of my life. But I can't leave Carmella to deal with that zoggin rock by herself. The gods always know what sticks to use to make us do their bidding.

The third thing found in the book's binding was some kind of hexagonal playing card that said around its edge "Only whole when one is over". None of us recognized what kind of card it was.

The Roostmaster pointed at the monk who brought us our tea. His name was Dieter and he would be our guide as long as we were in Eyrie.

José asked if we could have a copy of the prophecy, the one thing we didn't have. The Roostmaster dug around, found it, and handed it to him. José read it aloud. I have borrowed it, also, and here is its text:

Nine hands of fate will come up from the pass
And the time will be time of great need.
Not with book nor with quill yet within Eyrie still
Will be found what the rescuers need.

Black hair, white order, power not by part;
Healer by nature, by practice, and art.

Holder of stone, and no little ire;
Tumbling gymnast, and wielder of fire.

Deep-seeing locksmith and point guard by role;
Being an Elf, both by half and by whole.

The night on two feet, chrome helm like a flame;
With fists like two rams, an ironic name.

Tall black human, through the forests he prowls;
Woodcutter, tracker, and student of owls.

White skin and dark beard, following along;
Another prescient Dwarf, Grungni strong.

Proud fighting clown from a far away land;
Seeking an orc whose death was at hand.

Shaper of paper, and intricate rhyme;
Looking for answers backward in time.

A one handed monk and slave to the truth;
Balancing the fortunes of his opposite youth.

The oldest of foes shall approach through the peaks
With their hearts on the treasure within;
May the rescuers find what is hidden in time
Else the enemy surely will win.

I find this piece fascinating: it's entirely accurate with regard to Carmella and me, and I assume it is about the other as well, telling me more about some of my companions than has been made clear. Both Hy and Miara were searching for Og, not Miara only, all the way from Nippon. José's past was darker than his present, and I wondered what made him turn around so completely.

Finished with us, the Roostmaster called in a monk named Norbert, and we followed him back down again to the cavern. He said his title was the Flagmaster. He helped us find a good place to store our bulky items, as the monk's cells where we would stay had little room of course. Goldrim wanted a vault for the chest, and Brother Norbert said he thought he knew of a place. Brother Norbert strongly informed us that weapons were not allowed in the monastery, and offered a safe place in the armory behind a portcullis. Miara surrendered her longer sword and her bow and arrows immediately, but hesitated over the short one. This surprised me greatly. She addressed Brother Norbert courteously, "Among my people, it is customary for warriors to always keep with them the small sword. May I keep this with me?"

Brother Norbert answered equally courteously, and offered her the choice, "I suggest you leave the sword here, but I will not insist on it. If you take it with you, you will have to leave it in your cell, because it is forbidden to carry or use weapons here."

Miara handed him her short blade to be stored down here. I wondered how long it had been since she'd been so completely unarmed. If she was uncomfortable, she didn't let on. But then she's hard to read anyway.

Back upstairs, Brother Norbert showed us to two rooms, each with four bunks. These people are strange: they knew we were coming today, yet were surprised. They know exactly how many of us there are, yet they led us to a tiny room to consult with the Roostmaster, and now took us to rooms that were short two beds. Seeing that wasn't going to work, he said the warriors were invited to sleep with the guards. Ash stammered that he prefers to sleep outside, and Brother Norbert said he was welcome to sleep on top of one of the towers. José asked to room with other monks, rather than with us. Goldrim said he'd sleep with guards. That left us with seven to fit into eight beds. The men — Hy, Prestley, Jason, and Son — took one room, leaving the other for Carmella, Miara, and me.

He told us the rules:

  • No visitors are allowed in the library. This included even José.
  • No one, including the monks who live here, may take books out of the library.
  • No one may raise a hand against another in anger.
  • No gambling.

If we had any questions, he said to tell Dieter, who would take care of our needs. If we needed anything in the library, a brother would do our research and make copies of anything we asked for. Meals at the usual times: Breakfast at the fourth hour of the morning, lunch at noon, dinner at the eighth hour of the evening.

There, Brother Norbert left us with our guide. Dieter was in his mid-teens, about fourteen, scrawny with pinched features and a rather whiny voice I thought might get on my nerves. He continually rubbed his runny nose on his sleeve. He clearly held us in awe. He showed us wherever we asked, rather than actually guiding us. He never quite looked any of us in the eye, and we was very respectful towards all of us.

José spoke to us in Imperial, but he's cast that spell of his and I heard him in Bretonian, and he asked what we were here for. The prophecy said we knew what we were looking for, but he didn't. He urged us to speak in our native tongues, which would make it harder for anyone to hear what we said. Of course, it was likely that someone here could know Bretonian, or Elvish, or Dwarvish. We looked around at each other for a moment, but Miara began speaking in Nipponese. I smiled: no one was likely to understand her.

Later that night, in the privacy of our cell, she whispered to me and Carmella what she told him. She realized José knew nothing about the crystals and was not with us when Yazarin appeared to us in the fire.

She told him about the four crystals that correspond to the four elements, and that Carmella's zoggin rock is the one related to fire. She told him about our finding the crystal of earth, the stone of stones, and that we'd discovered at that time that we couldn't allow them near each other. She wanted to be sure he knew that, to prevent his finding one and bring it close to Carmella without realizing what he was doing. Finally, she told him about the image of the translucent blue dwarf in our fire one evening, and his insistence that we go to Eyrie to rescue the crystal of air.

Dieter first took us to the smithy, where Goldrim could hide the chest safely. The two smiths were happy to have someone to chat with, and Klaus invited Goldrim to stay there instead of the guardhouse, which Goldrim immediately and happily accepted.

José next asked about the kitchens, stating that he wished to ensure we can all eat according to our dietary needs. As far as I knew, Miara was the only one who was particular in what she ate. The kitchens were under the Roostmaster's rooms. There, we were told that everyone here ate the same thing. They said there was occasionally meat, which Miara refuses to touch, but that no one had to eat it. As usual at a monastery, meat is scarce: I knew they would be happy if Miara refused her portion, as it meant more for the rest.

We wanted to see the statue next. We noticed that as people pass it, they showed a certain amount of reverance for it, and Dieter more than most. As we stood looking at it, he whipped out a cloth and started shining the brass.

The dwarf was one big stone, and the pedastal yet more stone. The triangle and plumb bob he held in each hand were brass.

The pedastal had four faces. On the north face was a picture of us with the first stanza of the prophecy. On the west: Yazarin on his death bed, surrounded by monks. He was writing something, and the words at the top said "Yazarin departs, leaving a sadder but wiser world. Yorgi inscribed this stav when I took my seven coins and laid him in his grave." The south held an idealized picture of Yazarin on a tower raining lightning on goblins below. That face read, "Yazarin the philosopher, smiting our enemies as he has striken ignorance from our minds." The east side depicted the rebuilbing of Eyrie, as supervized by Yazarin. It read, "Yazarin the architect rasing the roost". He was surrounded by monks scurrying in the background like ants and he was caryring a level in one hand and a rolled up scroll in the other.

José said we needed to be here at the dinner hour, because that was the "line that runs true". Miara didn't understand, and José explained about true having two meanings, straight and the opposite of false. Then she understood that it was the plumb bob he referred to.

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 ~