Forsaken by the spirits?
The next morning, Aujaq and the men called Vlad and Mal as well as one of the sailors, Hailong, made their way into the city to examine the damages the Wichtel and demon dogs had caused the day before. The streets are packed with townsfolk who try to clean up the mess and restore Siegsdorf to its former glory, but as the group could clearly see, a long way lied ahead of the bustling people until the town would be as it once was. As they made their way along the streets, people started to point at them and whisper tales of the heroic Mal who was victorious against the demon dogs; no one mentioned the tall native man or his spirit badger, but Aujaq was perfectly fine with that – he liked to keep a low profile, especially among those cushioned people.
Slowly they made their way to the temple of the local gods, which could barely withstand the damage, as it seems. The high priest seemed devastated, but instead of comforting his fellow devout, the man called Vlad headed straight to the burned remains of the library in search for the demon book. As Aujaq had no interest in written letters, he rather performed another ritual to gather from the local spirits the whereabouts of the strange woman Laima mentioned. As thousand times before, he drawed the mystical runes on the floor, lighted the special incense and performed the traditional dance of his people, accompanied by his drums and rattle – but the spirits did not answer his prayers. Devastated, Aujaq packed his belongings. How did he enrage the spirits, that they won’t even answer his simplest prayers? Was his clan even right in to send him into exile – was he indeed useless as a shaman?
As they exit the church, the high priest was even closer to tears, clasping a… severed hand! With trembling voice he explained this dead limb belongs to his daughter, Hilde, although he was not sure if the rest of her was alive or already dwelled in the next realm. Aujaq didnot know how he could comfort the old man, so he offered some of his special (and very expensive) calming herbs; they only grew on top of the highest mountain way up in the north and were only used by his tribe whenever a mother loses her child to ease her pain – and to prevent her from following it to the next life… This conceited priest, however, looked at Aujaq as if he had offered him rat feces and refused his generous offer. Ignorant man! If he does not appreciate Aujaq’s offer, than the shaman has no intention of helping him, either. After all, what else is there to help him with?
Shortly after their departure from the temple, the woman named Laima gathered the adventurers to share her findings with them – clearly she learned her lesson from last time and wanted to make up with them by providing some truth for a change. She found out that the mysterious woman she saw in the library is indeed Hilde, the priests daughter, and known as a very pious and righteous girl in Siegsdorf. Only her engagement to Vlad’s brother Teufel seemed to have stirred some conspicuousness. The affairs of those townspeople truly grew more and more perplex by the minute… If only the spirits were to answer his calls, so Aujaq could at least had some clarity about his role in all this.
As the others embarked to some tavern or other townish leisures, Aujaq headed for the shore once again to collect small sacrifices for his next rituals – there must be some way for him to please the spirits again! Koda decided to sleep on the ship again, but with his trained senses and survival instincts, Aujaq managed to stay away from any threats the townsfolk avoid in this area, far from their protective walls and lights. After a few hours, he managed to collect beautiful and shining shells, rare little fish and precious pebbles – that should please the spirits next time! He bowed to the spirits of the sea and headed back to the boat to get a good night’s rest.
Just as he arrived at the ship, a girl came running up to him, visibly shaken and close to tears: Laima’s maid. “Sir… uhm, Aujaq! Please come quickly!”, she stuttered, unsure how to address the native shaman. “Mistress Laima sends for your support!” She seemed serious, so Aujaq could not refuse her plead – although he was already very tired and longed for his sweet sleeping-brew. As she lead him to a mansion, Aujaq could not resist but to wonder about the whole concept of masters and servants between the townsfolk. Was not every man born equally? And by which right does one man possess another? Sure, his tribe took people captive, but they always released them eventually – on top of a snow covered mountain or in a dangerous forest filled with wolves and other terrors. But at least they were given a chance – and were free. But Laima’s maid seemed happily enough with her life, to be granted; maybe Aujaq would ask her sometime, what it was like to serve another human…
Upon arriving at the mansion – an opulent and lushly decorated building with lots of glass – she led Aujaq, Mal and Hailong directly into the basement. On their way down they observed glimpses of the obvious fighting that took place in this home: Furniture wass turned over, glass and paper was shattered all over the floor and a suspicious trail of blood lead one floor down. There was no trace of the inhabitants, but upon entering the basement, their eyes fell on a disturbingly human statue in one corner – it was only a moment later that Aujaq realized the sitting figure WAS a human, covered in glass. His fellow adventurers tried hard not to dispose of their meals at this sight and as they bustled over to find out who the person was, who died under those horrible circumstances, Aujaq paid more attention to the three dead Wichtels on the floor (“Yes, we killed them, it was no big deal”, Vlad had proclaimed earlier). With his knowledge about these type of troublemakers, Aujaq could see from their clan tattoos and earrings, that all Wichtels were from entirely different tribes, yet their armour and weapons looked exactly the same. Someone must have rallied those little vermins to pursue his or her own plans, that was for sure – if rather uncommon. If only he knew who that person was… and why…
The others suspected the unfortunate glass-figure to be Vlad’s brother Teufel, the owner of this place, but Vlad was not entirely sure – or just did not want to face the truth. In his usual manner to deal with things like that, Aujaq started a ritual to summon the spirit of this place and ask for clarity. He was not yet finished with his chant and drumming, when a human figure appeared. He was tall and bulky, dressed in a leather apron and with heavy working gloves on his hands. In one hand he held a big hammer, which looked more than intimidating, together with that angry look on his face. Aujaq didn’t even have time to pay his respects, when the figure bellowed “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY HOME??”
Aujaq tried to reason with the lord of this home, but his words that worked with other spirits seemed to have no effect whatsoever on this angry god. “HOW DARE YOU ENTER HERE AND CALL ME, AFTER ALL THE LIKES OF YOU HAVE DONE?!”, he screamed, growing red with rage. Startled by so much anger, Aujaq tumbled and froze. He did not know how to deal with this situation – so far he only had to deal with nature spirits and those were much more predictable than those choleric gods of the townspeople.
Luckily, the man called Vlad and the woman Laima knew just the right words to calm him down a little and Vlad got his final confirmation, that the dead person in the corner was indeed his brother. Visibly close to tears, Vlad left the group and it was upon Mal and Aujaq to dispose of the dead bodies and clean the workplace up to please the worker-god a little more. As soon as they were gone, the spirit vanished, visibly shaken and chest-fallen, but at least not screaming and angry anymore.
Before the group left altogether, they got a glimpse at poor Teufel’s diary and a drawing he did of his beloved Hilde. She did not look so lovely on it, with pieces of something that Vlad instantly recognizes as “demon armor” on her. The adventurers could only guess what happened and every one of them left for the night with their own thought on their heads… As he went to sleep, Aujaq was however sure of one thing: They had only tipped the top of the iceberg and this whole incident was part of a way bigger threat, that required his experience and courage to solve. This was where his destiny had lead him – he had no doubt of that anymore!