It was not a long walk to the Roaring Griffin. We chatted along the way about nothing in particular.
Hari gave us a look as we entered the Griffin.
“Bartleby? Zabados?” he said. “Zabados and Bartleby in my home!?! In this establishment? On the same night?”
“Yes,” I said. “Yes.”
“Are you working together now?” Hari said.
I looked at Zabados.
“Well, nothing has been formally arranged,” I said. “I am a teller of tales as well.”
“Oh,” Zabados said. “Maybe, perhaps, in the future, we might work together.”
“But tonight, tonight we will just feast and drink.”
I ordered food and drink from Hari while looking at Groth meaningfully to hopefully let him know he was paying with the 1,500 gold coins he got from selling the magical robes. We chatted for a little while and drank with Zabados before we broached the delicate topic.
“Zabados, you said you had a friend here,” I said.
“Yes,” he said.
“Might I know who that is?”
“Oh. It’s Ellie. You might know her as Eloranta.”
“Yes, I’ve heard of her.”
“She is a purveyor of magic goods. She’s very beautiful and very talented. She travels the Lake of Unknown Depths, selling her magical wares.”
“Yes, yes. The constabulary of the city is concerned for her whereabouts. Have you not heard?”
“Hm. I had not.”
“She was supposed to meet with the Magister of the City‒”
“Actually, a couple days ago, she was supposed to meet with her excellency.”
“And she wasn’t there.”
“I should probably excuse myself.”
“I’m sorry. Why?”
“Uh … I realize that I have forgotten something at the Black Barnacle.”
“Oh! I’m certain … what did you forget? I could fetch it for you. I don’t want you to miss out on this feast.”
Himo had been watching Zabados carefully. He thought the elf was lying and also thought it was because he was under the domination of someone else. Though he was saying what he was saying, if he were himself, he would not be.
“What is it you need?” I said.
“You know, I can’t recall,” Zabados said.
“I’m close friends with the barkeeper there,” I said.
“How about we accompany you?” Turk said.
“Wouldn’t that we wise if you’re a known consort of a person whose gone missing?” Himo said. “Maybe you are a target as well.”
“We just now started talking,” Groth said crossing behind Zabados. “I don’t know why you’re in a rush to leave.”
Zabados looked nervous and tensed up. Then he said muttered something and made a movement with one hand and disappeared. I lunged at the chair he was sitting in as it slid back, slamming into the empty chair and knocking it over, crashing on top of it.
“He’s running upstairs!” Himo cried out.
Patrons in the bar looked toward me.
Alexiah leapt up, pushing the table from her, and ran up the stairs. She crashed into something and then seemed to grab something invisible in a bear hug. Zabados appeared as he tried to scratch her. She held him securely.
“We don’t want to hurt you!” Alexiah called out.
“I have to go!” he cried. “I must go!”
Himo leapt up and jumped over both of them. Then he punched Zabados in the face. He cried out in pain.
Turk and Groth both cast dispel magic spells on Zabados.
Turk turned to Hari.
“We’re commandeering the private dining room!” he said.
Hari looked concerned.
“Show him the coin!” I called out, stumbling to my feet.
Groth took out the coin. Hari immediately gestured towards the Grand Room.
Alexiah moved towards the private dining room. I thought about grabbing the leather case, but I didn’t think I’d be able to get it from him while she held him. She dragged him to the dining room as the patrons started to cry out in alarm.
“He might have spells too,” Groth said.
“Don’t let him loose,” I said. “He might have spells.”
They got him into the room and I closed the door behind them, staying in the common room.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are working for the city,” I said. “We need to question Zabados. There is no need to be alarmed.”
“What did Zabados do!?!” someone cried out.
“We are merely questioning him,” I said. “At this time.”
The patrons were still restless so I raised my voice.
I spoke of how the individual rights of men must sometimes be curtailed for the betterment of life and liberty. I said there were certain times when there were magical influences on others and they could not control their actions. It was a rousing speech about freedom, liberty, and the rule of law, correctly used. At some point, certain people in the room stood and put their hands on their hearts, some had tears in their eyes. Others quietly sung Dyvers’ anthem.
“Hari will know what the results of our questioning is,” I said after I finished.
I turned and entered the private dining room.
Inside the room, Groth cast a detect magic spell and learned Zabados was under the influence of enchantment magic.