It was perhaps an hour from his departure before Lazarus finally returned to the manor of Governor Zeph. His simple minded young manservant Humble was quick to allow in the inquisitor upon Lazarus's returned.
Humble was still ungodly slowly to take their guest to the his master. While Lazarus was appreciative and respected the man for it, the head steward fussed over every little detail. It made him a master of his craft no doubt of that could be shed, although it was quite cumbersome when a half dozen servants were trying to strip him of his coat and offering Lazarus drink and food to exorbitant amount.
"Is there anything else i might provide for you" Humble asked as he shooed away the rest of the servants that Lazarus rejected.
"No, I although have a request. Send a request to the priesthood I need them to bring me every maps of the city and tunnels dating back the last hundred years" He changed his stance after a few seconds, "Make it two hundred years. I need the heads of this city to bring anything they might have." Humble bowed and went off to the task assigned.
Lazarus finding himself free of the menials. Lazarus made his way to the governor's chambers.
"Ah you have arrived again Lord Lazarus. you seemed to have taken longer than I would've expected, were your investigations fruitful?" The Governor asked with a keen interest.
"it would seem that seeds were planted, but if the sprout is to grow it will need to be watered and nurtured through the coming days. It would seem to just be another victim though" Lazarus said entering the office, he did not want to speak of the witness unless he knew the man would live, and then put forth his formal request, "would you be making any use of your dining halls?"
Zeph's appearance turned dark and almost sour, the question had caught him out of the blue and he did not know how to react. "and what exactly would you be doing in my dining halls? I just recently had them refurbished and I would prefer to keep them as prim and proper as it can be."
"I can assure that your dining hall shall be kept in as pristine edition as it can be," Lazarus made the promise with a simple bow of his head.
"That did not answer my question, lord inquisitor. What are you planning to do within my dining hall." The Governor asked again, louder this times. He knew in the end he had know authority, but his hall had cost him a great deal to fix.
"I am requesting some paperwork and maps and I will be needed something enough room to spread them all out." Lazarus words seemed to alleviate the worries. "It also would serve as a perfect place to store what I find."
"I will have to find another chamber to serve as the dining hall, for the time." The governor said, his acceptance of the request was in all but exact wording.. Zeph though was hardly pleased by the idea of any one tampering his manor. "As I assume this was more a demand than a request." Zeph had a knowing look, knowing all too well the nature of men in power.
"No, it was simply a request. If you had decided to say no than it would have became a demand." The inquisitor admitted with so so much as a blush of guilt though a small smile on his lips. "I would assemble that council of yours, request the bring me every map of the city within the last few hundred years., that includes within the church. they can only bring and inform two servants" Zeph nodded and set about making the arrangement.
Per his request, they would all come. They came baring the maps of city, many of which he had little doubt were utterly useless. If people were getting in and out of the city though, there had to be something buried among these that the inquisition had missed. As much as that was a bitter pill to swallow.
Those that Zeph had been conversing with arrived soon enough. Abraven and the two others that he yet properly acquire their names, along with their servant. They all had a sufficient number of scrolls with them, the archbishop had an extraordinary amount, though it was the church,
Abraven looked the most annoyed by yet another interruption to his work this day.
The small hunched bishop founded his was into the chamber, bring with him two large brutes. They were chosen more for the amount that they could carry than any other reason.
The noble women, in her emerald dressed approached him as her servants unfurled the maps upon the long table. Her dress was a shade darker than before, though it reflected the light better. The ivory signet of the white flame rested at her neck, it seemed the magistrate had some converts. "I believe we never did get acquainted. I am Joanna Delnor, master of the merchants guild."
"Quite young for such a position, Lady Joanna"
"It took a great deal of skill, but I always get what I want." The noble women assured him with the utmost pride.
"why not use simple menials to perform such a task" The bishop asked as he had his servants. Lazarus sighed, there was never a moment for pleasantries was there.
"because he needs those that he can trust, or he can easily hunt us down if the cult finds out what he knows." There was a deal of appreciation or at least respect in those words, buried beneath distaste and anger.
Lazarus only nodded the captain had called it correctly "This way I know that only twelve others besides myself know what I know. It makes you easy to track down and kill if needed."
"We are suspects! I am a bishop of the church" The bishop growled at the thought.
"so was archbishop Calison of Nu wa." Lazarus snapped at the priet. He calmed himself a moment later. "He had to be removed for actions though well. You are all suspects, along with everyone but myself and cooperation is demanded, it does not mean you are not suspected." Lazarus clarified calmly yet he made sure to make it clear he did not care if they felt otherwise.
"May we know what we are looking for." Abraven grumbled in the silence, he was likely thinking this was a waste of time. Lazarus did not bother in the correction of his attitude.
"A map that shows that which is not there" It would be perhaps an hour or more of them looking though the maps that had been provided. It was solemn work, people only speaking when some inconsistency was found or needed a map passed to them. It would seem that Lazarus has soured the mood. It would have perhaps helped if he had told them what they were looking for, but they did not need to know that.
Jonna sighed after a time as the guildmistress turned aside another map from when the city have been little more that a collection of houses. She turned in the general direction of the governor, "Dear, could your servants bring us something to drink."
"ah, I will see what is in the cellar," Zeph offered rising from his chair. "the best of my and every governor's wine collection from ages before is stored in its lower recesses. They say vintages exist that are as old as the city."
"and would their be?" Joanna asked with an inquisitive aire, mimicking the thoughts of many of those who heard that.
"There are numerous if we should wish to sample them. I prefer life with a degree of intoxication. It makes life so much more enjoyable and dulls its aches and pains and stresses of nobility".
"I can get them sir" Humble replied offering to take the task for his master.
"No dear Humble. I wish to look of the contents." Zeph nodded at his servant.
Iit would seem like you are more than eager to get yourself away." Jonna notted with a tone that was not quite judgemental to one that was not quite sympathetic. A bit of both, as if the noble was just a bored. Lazarus could blame neither.
"I am simply tired of looking over . A break would be fantastic."
"do you truly think that a drink is going to help us in the slightest, doubt it is comforting for the dead watching from the flame to have use drinking." Abraven said as if to dash the hopes across the ground
Lazarus shook at his head at the captain of the guard and then Zeph, "I am sure we are all parched, go, but be quick about it.."
""perhaps spirits is the great equalizer between man and spirits," Zeph found his play on words enjoyable it seemed, as more scribes brought in yet another of maps. The Nobleman left the room for a moment.
Both old and young parchment was spread out before him, the ink sharply dawn. They showed all that was the city. In this era of ebony and in the ages of ivory. They spoke of the darkest corners and brightest alleyways. They were numerous and for the most part useless, although it would be a search to find where these catacombs where and how to get to them. Lazarus wanted to keep something to himself.
Lazarus slowly unrolled one of the larger sheets that laid upon the table. It was a man of the cities foundations. It was an several years old, although the priests vouched for its accuracy which Zeph confirmed without question after a quick inspection. In time Zeph would return and yet even with him taking longer that the inquisitor would have liked, they had made no progress. Rhat is not to say irregularities with the maps were not found. In all reality their were many tiny irregularities among the maps. Streets that had been intended and then removed, Building renovations that had not been recorded and so one.
While all of it some to failures in jobs or some one skimming off funding from the cities treasury nothing felt right. Nothing spoke to the primal senses and intuition that his kind relied on.
"So how exactly could these smugglers been getting into the city?" Guard Captain Abaven asked with almost a sing song note of success, "as it seems your inquisition has allowed men to get through."
Lazarus took no note of the guard captain's words. The inquisitor was not going to give him the satisfaction of the response to the insult. A response to the ignorance of another carried only arrogance, unless one sought to bring enlightenment. Enlightenment in this situation though posed in inherent danger of exposing his hand. "That I should not reveal."
Joanna sighed and pointed to some of the city plans, "the city's sewers is likely the best method of being able to get into the city without the inquisition taking note." She tried to say it in a polite way as to not insult of honor of the inquisitor in their very midst. The noble women stood with an elegance, she was a woman of few words but each was measured and spoken with grace,
"No, The inquisition made sure to corden that off by breaking into it about three miles from the city. We are quite meticulous, I do assure you," Inquisitor Lazarus promised and the looked out over the city plan's, searching, hunting for these tunnels and catacombs. They did not exist though upon any sheet of papyrus or map that showed the city sewers..
"Then how have these smugglers been getting past Your forces?" Abaven inquired with a mix of accusation thrown into it.
"How have they been getting past yours?" Inquisitor Lazarus made sure to inquire with a irritated twitch of his eyebrow, but he feigned a cheerful smile as he spoke. "I was made aware there was.." Lazarus thought for several moments. He was not pleasures at giving up the information that he knew, it was a situation though he could only gain by giving. A thought which was bitter in his mouth. "I was made aware that there were some kind of catacombs in this, in this city that lead out of it" Lazarus relented.
"That is ridiculous," Zeph exclaimed with a laugh as Humble poured glasses for them., "there is no such thing in Ammon. Most dead have been burned for Progenitor knows how long. And our graveyard is far beyond the walls." His laugh though was suddenly cut off and he retracted like a scolded dog.
"If I may you might be wrong master Zeph. There is a chance that I might know of the method to escape both your sights of which you speak of." The archbishop of Ammon shook his head and then sighed. He looked to the rest of the council once he had all their attention. He waved over one of his number of menials and whispered something into the attendant, who nodded and walked out. "The catacombs that lay beneath the city are ancient and run far deeper than the spades of the inquisition can dig.."
"And why was this not told to the inquisition. To hold such a thing back can have one accountable for treason." Inquisitor Lazarus inquire with curious look as the leaving attendant.
"We have not bothered to look among our censored files my lord. Call it progenitors will, but it was simple mistake we found what we did, but a week ago. It was brother magistrate Orsini who found them" Their was a degree of guilty in his voice.
Despite himself Lazarus looked over his companions and confidantes.. Zeph leaned forward with the most tentative of interests. Was he truly interested in the information, or trying to find a way to push his standing on the negligence of the church. Only Abraven seemed ultimately unmoved by the words. Despire her most calm of composure, the madame jonna seemed to shift slightly at the mention of the magistrate. Was it a simple measure of balance keeping or more. Could it be simple surprise. Or was it more.
"Censored?" The inquisitor leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table, crossing his fingers, and gazing at the bishop as if the man's next words determined if he would live to see nightfall. This was more than intentional, and Lazarus was considering forbading the bishop from even having a proper funeral at this point..
"The Catacombs were sealed off centuries ago for the fact the city had the burial shines of a few corrupted governors from the surround states. The people of the city said they felt as if some dark presences had afflicted Ammon. All the paths into the catacombs were sealed and collapsed after that."
"All?" The noble guild mistress inquired before Lazarus or the other lords had so much as a chance to bring up the question to the bishop.
"All that I am aware of" The bishop said with a nod. "They were marked with warding seals after the tunnels were collapsed. There could be one seal that is left within the city walls though that might still able to reach
"Are you entirely certain there are some within the city?" Lazarus demanded, this was what they had been looking for.
"For that, we shall have to await the return of my attendant to know the exact location they were built."The bishop spoke as he saw the inquisitor's eyes lighted up. He had found his lead for now.
"Let us hope for your sake that is true." Lazarus said calmly, wondering if their was a carnifex. in the region. His sister in arms Faustina though had such skill, it was a pity that she was not here. The bishop would need to pay for this error eventual.
The attendant did return after a time, he was holding a small bushel of scrolls. They were of an unknowable age, and hand to be unfurled with the utmost care
These contain all the old entrances. Several of them were not applicable, being outside of the cities walls. The would have to be investigated but that did not explain who these cultists and undead were getting with the city. Their were serial that existed centuries ago that had not long ago been built over according to newer maps, in such a wat that they were inaccessible. It was turning into another fruitless hunt as they looked of. With ever map that passed over his sight the initial hope began to fade in Lazarus's gut. Yet nothing seemed to settle that primal instinct that told him that he was onto something and that he was getting closer.
Lazarus found his way moving through the papers at a fair rate. Winding his way from the commercial district maps into the homes of the nobility. Lazarus's attention although was broken by a sudden gasp of surprise and the distinct sound of shattering crystals..
They all turned their heads to see Governor Zeph. "I believe I have founded a path." He looked down at the glass at his feet. "oh my pardon.. that was assei crystal too…" The man seemed saddened at the thought. "Still. master Lazarus. I believe this is what you are looking for."
Taking the two maps from the cities leader, Lazarus inspected them carefully. A single section of both the maps were exactly the same. one thought was marked several hundred years and the other from this decade. They both showed a series of tunnels with a seal bearing the sign on the church. on the old on/ The markings on the newer map indicated that is was part of the plagues district sewers. It was located within the city sewers, the thought instantly caused the inquisitor to frown. The grimace was plain to see for all.
"I would agree master zeph, this must be what we are looking for." The inquisitor spoke aloud."Why there, why does it always have to be a places like that."" Lazarus mumbled as he looked over the sewer and catacomb could some death cult not work out of vineyard or a botanist shop, some place that would not leave him smelling like muck and progenitor knows what else.
"I can send some of my best men with you than" Abaven grunted before they could formulate any plans. It was not entirely what the guard commander wanted yet he could be sure that the inquisitor could be watched and he himself be informed. "I am sure you will need them." The insult clear
Lazarus frowned at the thought, the single minded centurions could get in the way. They charged in like warrior and had little subtle, to solve a normal murder or break up a riot they were perfect. This required some calm and patients. "I will take one, too many more will compromise the search" Lazarus although knew very well enough that he would not be able to curtail the captain for ever. He needed the guard if this investigation was to end quickly enough
"You will have my best than. Now If you don't mind I have work that I must do" Without another word Captain Abraven passed from the room. He snapped at one of his two attendants, guard like him. He followed, the other, his best, stayed. No one made a move to stop him.
Lazarus nodded, neither trusted the other. It was a good sign though. The guilty often played innocent. Abraven though did not hide any intentions nor did he pretend they were good. It meant he was easier to investigate.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter and as I am being more proactive with my stories I figures i should pop out some of this mess
Check out my main story Trials of the Witch Hunter