The Hollow Man

From the Personal Journal of Dr. Moritz J. Beckley, III

The Adventure Begins

Day 63 – The City of Virilla

Today I was visited by Mr. Matthew Easton, an acquaintance I have not seen in some time. No doubt he wants something of me again beyond the obvious, it is, after all, his way. He came to me with his usual fanfare, bearing a rented coach and a missive from his august majesty bidding me attend him at once. As usual, the timing could not have been worse, as I had just begun the delicate procedure of mounting the crystal in its housing. If there is one thing I have learned about dear Matthew, it is that he has little respect for my important work. Perhaps one day he will appreciate all that hangs in the balance while I dote on the whims of the court. There I go again, babbling to myself. It seems this day is not that atypical after all.

As if interrupting me at my work was not enough insult for one fortnight, I was forced to accompany Mr. Easton through every quarter of the city and back again as we collected the other rabble that forms our little band of thieves. I must confess, it was pleasant to see the Captain again, despite her predisposition toward alcoholism. I am given to understand that she was in the process of relieving some unsuspecting dupe of his coin, honestly why people still play cards with the woman is as great a mystery as can exist in this world. We also collected the fallen paladin, mentally ill as usual, and that peasant woman with the talent for ferreting out the next storm. Last, but not least, we called upon Etrix, who looked well despite his current circumstances. I remain convinced that his former master had something to do with the affliction that haunts my brother, but alas, I have no proof. Matthew has assured me of his innocence in this whole debacle, but time will tell all.

We then proceeded to a tailor who surely earns custom well above my current means so that Matthew could once again wave coin in our faces as we were outfitted with new finery. Had he given me more time to prepare I’m certain I have something lying around the house that would serve for an audience with the king, but it was not to be. We set out again some time later, following an argument about the efficacy of shoes as a means of conveyance, and arrived at the palace.

Much like Matthew, our dearest king, protector of the realm and all of that nonsense, has little respect for my valuable time. We were made to wait for much longer than any sane man would consider polite, further convincing me that the summons was not nearly as urgent as I was led to believe. We were eventually greeted by Lord Lucen, adviser to the crown. Here is a man that is full of himself to be sure. Known for his skill with a pen (which, I might add, is less than a great many of the current and past authors) and his ability to detect even the most subtle of deceptions, I must confess that he fails to impress. We were led to the throne room and arrayed like cattle before the great stump to await his majesty’s pleasure.

There seemed to be some bad blood between the paladin and the king, resulting in some sort of argument about a hand. I assured our knight that I could mend his wound should he take one, and left it at that. Things got fairly heated there for a few minutes, and I thought I might have to draw Methilda in the throne room of all places, but thankfully it didn’t come to that. The whole thing turned out to be a ruse for the amusement of the king and Matthew, who was obviously in on the joke. The whole business was more than a little droll for my tastes.

Once the charade was dispensed with, we moved on to the task at hand. Our king seeks a sword, aptly named the Sword of the Realm, which apparently lies beneath the Academy. He gave us a key taken from a chain about his neck, and bid us demand the sword from its guardian. To hear him tell it, we are the only ones capable of this task, despite the fifty odd soldiers waiting in the wings. Surely one of them is able to sit astride his horse long enough to fetch a sword from a basement? We then departed, resolving to meet in the central square on the morrow in order to depart, no doubt with considerable fanfare courtesy of Matthew.

I know not what we will find beneath the academy, but perhaps I’ll have some time to continue my work while there. There is not a moment to waste if I am to beat this disease once and for all. For now, I shall attend to my current project in an effort to make up for lost time. Until tomorrow then.

MJB

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