THE ANGST AND THE ANALYST
From the Journals and Papers of Dr. MorningGlory Gaeston
(Rated PG-13: Adult themes, mild language, strong violence, brief nudity,)
Is it hard for the reader to believe that suicides are sometimes committed to forestall the committing of murder? There is no doubt of it. Nor is there any doubt that murder is sometimes committed to avert suicide.
Dr. Karl Menninger, Psychiatrist, Founder of The Menninger Clinic, The Crime of Punishment, 1968
This next two days were filled with rest and relaxation, the first in many weeks. Hendak and I went to the Goldspire Abbey and adjacent Church of Waukeen north of the City Gates to begin the process of our union ritual arrangements. Neither of us was familiar with the process but common sense dictated that we get on the preparations.
The Abby and Church was in total disarray. It was evident that major construction was being carried out as workers scurried about at a frantic pace and the sound of hammers and saws rung loudly throughout the premises.
“Oh, yes,” the acolyte who had greeted us said, as she ushered us to the High Priests’ offices and chambers, “Since our Goddess has returned, we have been revitalized with new vigor. We are currently refurbishing the Abby and the Church and anticipate it will be done by middle Flamerule. It will truly be the most magnificent and opulent Church in all of Amn.” With her enthusiasm, she was going to do well in the service of Waukeen, I thought as we traversed the maze of halls.
The Church’s Chief Administrator greeted us at his door.
“Doctor MorningGlory Gaeston and her betrothed, Hendak,” the acolyte announced us, bowed briefly in reverence and turned to depart.
“Yes, yes! Please do come in – yes, come in. I have been expecting you. I am Delbert and I will be assisting you today – yes, assisting you today. May I offer you some tea – perhaps some nice tea?” Delbert was short, balding, and his full robes did little to mask his love of food. He also twittered when he spoke. A nervous condition, I thought as he escorted us into the receiving office and bid us to be seated on the other side of his large desk.
“Nothing, thank you,” I smiled as we sat down.
“Very good, very good,” and the nervous little man adjusted his small monocle to view the written parchment before him. “I see you are requesting your wedding rites to be performed here at the Church of Waukeen – yes, the Church here, for…..”he paused, “mid-to-end of Flamerule – yes, Flamerule?”
“Yes, that is correct. Of course, that is assuming your renovations will be completed by then.”
“Oh, yes, yes.., quite so – the renovations,” he fidgeted and continued to read. He momentarily looked puzzled then removed his eyepiece and looked at us. He scratched at his barren chin. “It seems a special request has already been made by the Seer in Trademeet. Yes, a special request. Seer Marybeth Fatewatch has sent a special message requesting that we accommodate all of the wants and needs for your union ritual – yes, special everything for you… all your wants and needs… yes, special.” His eyes narrowed in thought as he pursed his lips.
Seer Marybeth’s direct intervention had caught me completely off-guard. I was at a total loss as to what to say or do with the good Cleric here. I had a sudden need to provide some sort of explanation but I didn’t think he would buy “…well, you see, Delbert, your Goddess Waukeen is Hendak’s mother and my future mother-in-law. We thought it would nice if we paid her a little respect and got married in her church…”
“Delbert, we have a very special feeling in our hearts for the Goddess Waukeen,” I smiled.
“And you, uh, Hendak?” Delbert raised his eyebrows slightly and wrinkled his nose with a slight nervous snort. “Uh, is Hendak your first name or your last name?”
“It’s my only name. And, oh, yes. I, uh, enjoy a very special, personal, heartfelt relationship with the Goddess Waukeen,” and Hendak shot him his wide smile complete with twinkling eyes.
Unconsciously tapping on the edge of his desk, Delbert returned to the scroll. “As a matter of fact,” he continued, “the Seer has requested that the High Rites of The Union Ritual be performed. Most unusual…most unusual…yes, the High Rites, most unusual, most unusual.” He appeared totally perplexed and the tapping stopped.
“Is that a problem?” I asked not really understanding what he was saying. High Rites, Low Rites, it was all the same to me. You were either married or you weren’t. You needed a license, a Priest, and a blessing. Gods, I hoped this wasn’t going to get complicated!
“Well, usually, the High Rites of Blessed Life Events are only bestowed on, hmm,” he cleared his throat, “our more devout members -- you know, patrons and benefactors, if you will, yes, the truly faithful. And, quite frankly, I don’t even see your names listed on our current membership roster. This is just most irregular and is highly unusual. tsk..tsk..tsk... Most irregular. Most unusual.”
He continued to read the scroll in front of him and the nervous tapping continued. He finally looked up and his twitching face rekindled a smile.
“Oh well, if that is what Seer Marybeth Fatewatch has asked, then who am I to question her! I shall do all in my power to accommodate her!” He almost giggled. Through his blind faith, the issues had resolved themselves.
Hendak and I looked at each other and simultaneously sighed and smiled in relief.
The date was set. Day of 26, Flamerule. It would be the first wedding in the almost ‘new’ Church of Waukeen. And, as Delbert repeatedly assured us, it would be “glorious, yes, glorious.”
We spent the balance of the two rest days with a short, overnight trip to a small country inn south of the city. When we returned to the Copper Coronet late the next afternoon, we were pleasantly surprised by an unexpected visit from an old friend.
Cernd was sitting at our usual table enjoying his chowderberry juice when we arrived. I squealed, dropped my bag, and ran across the room to him. He stood, caught me, and swept me up and around with gleeful laughter. Quite a show of emotion for Cernd as I assumed that he was very happy to see us. A brotherly-sisterly hug then ensued as Hendak approached us laughing.
“You know, Cernd, if I didn’t know you, I would have to kill you for being so familiar with my fiancée,” and with that the two men greeted each other and embraced with hearty slaps on the back.
“Ah, Glory, I did hear upon my arrival that best wishes were in order,” Cernd smiled as we all sat down together. He nodded toward Hendak and raised an eyebrow. “It is about time this man realized how much you two belong together and marry you.”
It had been too long since we had seen Cernd. A message now and again, but I had not seen him since he left that night for his Grove. His stoic face hadn’t really changed in the couple of years that had passed, but there did seem to be a new sprinkle of silver reflecting in his dark hair. But we all began to talk at once, trying desperately to cover the time since our last visit. We then ate dinner and Cernd actually toasted us with a glass of wine.
Near the end of dinner Hendak was called to attend to a problem in the kitchen and excused himself. As Cernd and I continued our conversation, he asked me how my practice faired and if his apartment was suiting my needs. It made me think of the music box.
“Oh, Cernd, before I forget it,” I began. “When I took over your rooms, I found a beautiful music box,” and I described it for him.
“Ah, yes,” he smiled in recollection. “The Lady Delryn’s music box.”
“Cernd, did I hear you correctly? Did you say the Lady Delryn….., as in ‘Moirala’ Delryn?” I was suddenly intrigued. What was Cernd doing with the Lady Delryn’s music box?
“Yes, Glory,” he looked momentarily puzzled as my reaction. My own look of surprise made him take pause that I might compose myself. Then, to save me asking, he proceeded to tell me about the mysterious artefact. “It is an interesting, but, alas, unfinished story, I fear.
“It was not long before she died… She was always involved in some charitable cause or other noble endeavor, and she had volunteered to assist me with a petition to the Council involving encroachment on a natural marshland south of the City. I, personally, think she had been attempting to atone for her husband’s misdeeds for many years.” He sighed. “Anyway, we worked on this together for the better part of a year, and in that time I saw her slowly waste away to a mere shadow of what she once was. She was quite ill, but with her young daughter at her side, she pressed on. And without her help, I daresay, the marshland would have been gutted for its resources and laid waste. You see, the Council, in the end, decided to forego the slaughter of the natural wilderness. We won.
“About a tenday before her death, she came to see me at the Promenade and carried a small pouch with her, which, I thought, was most unusual, as it was not fashionable for ladies to carry simple pouches on their person.
“We sat, engaged in small talk about our victory and had some tea. After some time and without saying a word she retrieved the pouch and carefully opened it. She then removed the music box and sat it down on the table between us. Even I was struck at how truly magnificent it was as I looked upon it. It was not large, but very elegant and almost regal.
“’Cernd,’ she said, ‘we have become friends over this past year and I trust you implicitly.’
“’Yes, Moirala,’ I answered, ‘we are friends and I am honored that you would trust me so,’ then I remember touching the cool frail hand as it lay near lifeless on the table.
“’I have a favor to ask of you Cernd.’ She paused, gently stroking the gems encrusting the lid of the box. She looked at it fondly as she spoke. ‘My music box is my greatest personal treasure. Not for the gold and gems that adorn it, but because it was a gift from a treasured friend.’ She laughed lightly but there was unmistakably great sadness in her eyes. ‘I would like to ask you to attend to its immediate safekeeping, and I ask that you deliver it, upon my demise, per the instructions I will send you shortly. I..I cannot explain now. But it is vitally important that Lord Cor not know of its whereabouts, or of your involvement in providing it safe haven.’ Her sadness grew deeper and the already faint smile faded to nothingness.
“I began to protest her thoughts of death, but she stopped me.
“’No, Cernd,’ she said. ‘It is not my will, but that of the Great Watcher, and I will be called soon to my deserved rest. But I must know if I may I depend upon you. I must have your answer today. It is of vital importance and I do not know how much longer I have.’”
Cernd sighed deeply at the memory and shook his head slowly from side to side.
“Of course, I agreed. But she never returned and I never received instructions prior to her passing. She died less than a tenday later. Helm, indeed, must have had great need of her to take so wonderful a spirit from us,” he said sadly.
His attention returned to the present, “I had forgotten I had the music box. Not knowing to whom it should be delivered and respecting her wishes that Lord Cor should know nothing of its whereabouts, I simply tucked it away in an old trunk.”
I sat in silence for a moment. ‘What was so special about this music box?’ I thought to myself.
“She mentioned no one?” I asked.
“No, Glory. Her only reference was to the ‘treasured friend’, but her eyes were as sad as I have ever seen.” My thoughts were interrupted by Hendak’s return.
We finished our dessert and after more chatter, Cernd begged off to an early rest.
“Oh, Cernd, do you mind if I keep the music box for now?” I asked and didn’t even know why.
“Of course I do not mind!” he laughed as he rose from the table. “Whatever you wish, Glory.” He then excused himself for the evening and ascended the stairs.
“Music box?” Hendak was puzzled as we continued to sit and sip the last of the port wine in our glasses.
“Yes, there was a beautiful music box among the things I cleared from his rooms when I first set up my office.” I explained then related the story Cernd had just told me.
“So you think you may know something of this box and to whom it was intended?” he asked.
“I’m not sure. I’m not sure….” But I had a very good idea.
I stood at my desk looking at Anomen Delryn’s Journal. He would be arriving in about an hour and I did want to review some of the last entries before his arrival. These would include the days prior to his learning of Moira’s death.
I quickly read the entries. No, nothing extraordinary. Just more anguishing over Riona as they were traveling the countryside. After a while I looked up and Delryn stood in my doorway.
“Good morning, Madam Glory. Good morning, Ki. Charona not here today?” he smiled.
“Come in, Anomen,” I stood and greeted him. “She will be here in the afternoon. She has classes this morning.” Ki said nothing still remembering the perceived slight from the prior visit. Anomen entered my office and closed the inner door.
“Ah, yes, I see,” he nodded referring to Charona, and sat comfortably in the overstuffed chair. Chair is victor, I thought to myself. It breaks the heartiest of them.
He then leaned over and placed another journal on my desk. I was perplexed.
“Madam Glory,” he began, slightly blushing, “I fear I may have sent you a journal that would be of no practical use to you.” He cleared his throat. “If I might exchange it for this one – the successive one to that which you hold…”
“Oh yes, Anomen, of course,” and I handed him the journal. “I received it so late two days ago and with wedding plans and visitors over the rest days, I have only this morning been able to peruse the last few entries and they do not add to any of the things we have already discussed.” He looked somewhat relieved and then relaxed. Private dreams are still private dreams and I felt no guilt in my small deception of letting him believe I possibly overlooked his. No need to embarrass him with my intrusion.
I picked up the other journal and quickly noted the dates. Moira’s death would be in here. Yes, this would be the one I needed. It would be interesting to compare his perceptions of immediately after the fact against that which he would recall from memory as our sessions progressed.
“I..I have been thinking about what you said, Glory.” He was somewhat reticent. “About my father. About him being responsible for his own actions. While we were traveling over the past days, Riona and I talked at great length about it. She..she helped me to understand what you were trying to tell me.
“I…I know you are right. I mean, I know intellectually you are right. But I have carried these feelings for the greater part of my life. I think it is near impossible to shed myself of this burden I have carried for so long -- this burden of guilt that my mother and my sister endured my father’s wrath because of me,” he sighed heavily.
“Anomen, the fact that you can sit here and acknowledge your father’s actions are his responsibility is the first step in freeing yourself of that guilt. But these false feelings did not establish themselves overnight, so do not expect to rid yourself of them overnight. This is habitual behavior and it will take a great effort to not only break it, but replace it with a different perception based on truth.”
“But it still does not belie the fact that I am my Father’s son, and that at any moment I could become the monster he was, and is. Feelings aside, I cannot logically reconcile that my heart is not as his heart, that I am not like him and that my soul is not tainted as his. Especially since I have already proven it with what I have done.”
I groaned inside. ‘Oh, Anomen,’ I thought. ‘If only I could share what I know with you. If only Sir Ryan Trawl would share the truth with you! The truth might not set you free, but it would help loosen the chains for you.’
“Anomen, do you remember telling me how you recognized and realized Riona as being her own person with her own choices even though she is the daughter of the God of Murder?”
“Do you believe that her parentage is any less influential on her as yours is on you?”
“No, Glory. Her heritage is the most unholy of the unholy, I am wrought to say. But her internal rage is not as mine. Her wrath was deep and could be called at will. I have seen her in her altered state.” I didn’t know exactly what he meant by ‘altered state,’ but fear briefly brushed his face and he shuddered. “But she is afflicted no more by her father’s taint. We fought at the empty Throne of Bhaal for her to have the right to finally choose. I have no hope of redemption from that which ties me to my wicked and evil father. And, my…my anger is different. It is always lying in wait just under the surface, just waiting to break forth and overwhelm me. It can be fueled by anything and is uncontrollable when unleashed. And it can rule my very essence,” he pressed on, “ and… and it is this unharnessed rage that spurred me to such unspeakable acts and caused me to lose my life’s dream.” He took his face into his hands and shook his head. “With my anger and wrath have I betrayed all the beliefs I held sacred. By my own hand, and no other, have I condemned my very soul to the depths of the Abyss.” I heard a gentle sob and noted the gentle shudder.
“Anomen, your anger and your soul are not one,” I began. “They are not fused together destined to co-exist throughout all of eternity. Your soul is the only constant. Your anger is an emotion that you have created. If you can create it, you can un-create it. But, eventually, you must decide which it is to be. To live with it, or to dispel it. It is your choice and yours alone.”
“I no longer have a choice! I have spilled the blood of an innocent!” he cried out as he continued to shield his face. “A beautiful young child whose only crime was she was the daughter of my Father’s enemy!”
There was a heavy burdened silence and the air was thick with his emotion. Even Ki subtly ruffled with discomfort. I leaned across my desk.
“As long as you are breathing, Anomen, you have a choice. Now, if I am to help you, you must tell me what happened – from the beginning to the end,” I said in a near whisper. Still holding his head in his hands, he nodded then raised his face. Faint damp lines streaked down his cheeks into his beard. I sat back to listen.
“It… it began when we were camped outside Trademeet on what was our third trip there. We had aided in stopping a maddened Druid in the Grove just north of the city and had returned to our base camp. I was greeted by a messenger who bore me news from my Father of my sister’s death. His message bid me return home posthaste. She, this beautiful innocent, had been brutally murdered but the messenger had no details. We immediately packed up and began to return to Athkatla.” He took a long breath and the furrows in the brow deepened.
“I was in a silent, thick fog during the trip home. My wonderful, sweet baby sister was dead and someone had brutally and forcefully taken the life from her. As we walked in silence, I re-read the last few letters she had sent to me over and over again, trying to make some sense of her being gone. I realized that these letters were all I had left of her. There would never be another one. There would never be another brother-sister laugh over some childhood secret. There would never be another walk in the Gardens with her small hand in mine. There would never be another hug, or a kiss upon her cheek. There would never be Moira, ever again.” Another unbidden tears bore the path as before.
“We.. we met with my father at his estate, and after his usual barrage of insults and other demeaning remarks, he... he told me that my beautiful, wonderful Moira, my sister,” his voice choked briefly, “was killed by Saerk the Calimshite, Father’s sworn enemy of many years. Saerk was a long-time business rival of Father’s, and there was great animosity between them. Father insisted that he, Saerk, had perpetrated such an evil deed to finally settle old scores.” He paused. “Then, Father.., he…he accused me of not being there to protect her when she needed me most. He put this onerous burden of Moira’s death on me. He blamed me repeatedly.”
“Do you think you were truly responsible for her death, Anomen?” I asked pointedly. He shook his head slowly from side to side as the tear tracks reflected the light from the window.
“I felt I had done all I could do. I had encouraged her many, many times, -- told her -- and I had offered her all I had, to leave Father. But she refused. She always refused and would not speak of it, and I always became angry with her because she would not listen to reason. She was stricken with the same sense of ‘duty’ as was our mother and felt obligated to care for him as he steadily deteriorated from his excessive drink. Had she not been with him, she would not have died. I had given her alternatives and offered my help, but it was her choice. And, although I tried many times to explain, I do not know if she understood the risks she was undertaking by merely being in his presence. But being responsible?” He returned to my question.
“No, but Father’s cruel words struck deeply and reopened old wounds and made me feel guilty and ashamed in the same way as when I was very small. But I was ashamed that I did not force her to leave him before it was too late. If I had physically forced her to leave, then she would still be alive. I thought that maybe he was right, but for different reasons.”
There was another long pause and I could see he was reliving this confrontation with his father.
“What did you do next, Anomen,” I interrupted his thoughts to bring him back.
“Riona and I stood in my father’s house by the urn of my sister’s mortal remains and I anguished over what must be done. By the Gods, I was torn! In my mind I was torn between my sacred vows to the Order, and the honor of my sister’s memory. But my father had ignited an even greater wrath deep inside me with his words of shame against me, that my heart was possessed by an overpowering will to strike out and take revenge upon the one who had taken Moira’s life. As we stood there, I spoke of this, in part, with Riona.”
“Did she offer advice?” I asked. He nodded.
“She reminded me of my vows to the Order. And she wisely cautioned me telling me not to let my emotions better my judgment, that it was my responsibility to bring her killer to justice….but, I had already made my decision without really knowing it. I was given over to my uncontrollable hatred and had committed myself to avenging my sister’s death. It was a brief moment of perfect clarity born of perfect hate. I would bring the killer to my justice. The authorities be damned! Saerk would be sentenced to the fitful, screaming death he deserved as I dismembered him piece by piece into a thousand bits of flesh and bone that would have to be swept up to be collected for the pyre. It would be Moira’s justice. It would be my justice.” His eyes were near black as he clinched his jaw and the knuckles of his hands grew white.
“And, Riona? Did she attempt to dissuade you further from this vengeance?” I asked.
“I could see from Riona’s eyes she felt it was a terrible mistake, but at that point, it made no difference to me. My course was set. She did agree to go with me to confront Saerk at his home in the Bridge District. Perhaps she thought she might be able to curb my rage and thwart my determination before we arrived, and thereby avert such a tragedy.”
“Did you ever consider conferring with the Authorities before taking such action?” I asked. “If nothing else, to inquire as to their facts and if there was any corroboration of your father’s allegations?”
“No, I simply took my Father’s word,” he was suddenly ashamed. “Had I done so, I do not know if I would have proceeded as I did. Perhaps….perhaps the young Surayah would still be alive. However, I do not know if I would have believed their evidence, as I was so consumed with hatred for this man, and what I believed he had done. And, that consuming, relentless hatred drove me unmercifully to seek his end. I do not believe the Gods themselves could not have stopped me.” His eyes burned.
“What happened when you reached Saerk’s?” I asked.
“We surprised him as we had gained secret access through a lower part of the house. It was shortly after the evening meal and he and his children, Yusuf and Surayah, sat in the main room, Surayah playing the harp. We walked unannounced into the room and I confronted him.” Again his jaw clinched and he balled his fists into bleach white knuckles as his voice lowered to a croaking whisper.
“Upon discovering it was I, Anomen, son of Lord Cor, Saerk’s son Yusuf asked permission to ‘kill’ me. Saerk willingly granted such, saying he would strike at the old lizard Cor’s heart at any opportunity and here was one delivered by the Gods themselves. I took this as an admission of his guilt in Moira’s death and directly accused him. He then defiled Moira’s memory with vile blasphemies and said her death was what the Delryns deserved. He never denied my accusation of his complicity or responsibility in her death. He only fueled my hatred to further action.
“I… I….I suddenly became a madman.” His voice raised an octave and his face became almost as white as his knuckles.
“Suddenly, I was in a dream where I was me, but I wasn’t me -- I was watching me from a distance. I saw me raise my weapon against the innocent little one, his daughter, all the while me was screaming to Saerk… ‘Was Moira any less innocent? Did she beg for her life before you delivered the final blow? You shall pay for your crime in equal measure!’
“The I from afar was screaming at the me wielding the mace, ‘NO!’ But me was deafened with the ringing of maniacal vengeance and no heed was taken of the other voice of reason. The me looked down at the young Surayah as she lay broken and dead at my feet, in a pool of blood wrought by my own hands.” He momentarily closed his eyes, deeply inhaled, and with a elonegated shudder, released the spent air slowly. He opened his eyes, the blackness gone, a numbing, glazed look replacing his deathly facial expression. His voice changed to an eerie monotone suddenly devoid of emotion as he continued, still caught in reliving the moment.
“I had not a moment to think about what I had done. Saerk called for the guards and all were upon us. We fought. Yusuf fled at his father’s bidding, but all else eventually fell to our blades. As for Saerk, I delivered the crushing blow that splintered his skull and sent his miserable soul wailing into the Abyss. For one fleeting moment I felt dim satisfaction. My sister’s slayer had paid the price of her death with his life and that of his daughter. I was judge, jury, and executioner, and mortal retribution had been swiftly issued.
“With all quiet and the dead strewn around us, I turned to Riona and the others and said, ‘It was my decision alone. It is done and I want to hear no reprisements.’ And with that we left.” He stretched open his hands and again momentarily closed his eyes inhaling deeply. A drop of blood fell from his left hand onto the floor. The ferocity of his clinched fists had caused his fingers to pierce his palms and draw blood. He did not notice.
“Tell me, where you went after you left Saerk’s?” I asked.
“We returned to my father’s,” he replied. “He expressed great joy that the family honor and fortune was restored. Although it seemed his main concern was more for the ‘fortune’ and said nothing of Moira’s honor having been avenged.” He paused. “He..he did invite me to return home and stay with him, however.”
“Did you consider his invitation?”
“Just briefly. I.. I… I had always wanted, and dreamed of, my father’s acceptance and after all these years, here it was being offered to me – but I couldn’t stay because of my commitment to Riona. Had I not been so obsessed with her and my dedication to her quest, I might have stayed with him.” There was a brief sadness in his voice.
“Anomen, you do think that could have been seriously and realistically viable?” I asked.
“No. Regardless of his later reactions when the truth came out, I knew he was simply looking for a replacement for Moira and the care that she gave to him. It was not an invitation to me, his son, his beloved family. It was an invitation of simple convenience to someone else who could serve as his caregiver and victim.” There was a tone of bitterness in his voice.
“Anomen, what happened when the reality of these deaths began to sink in?”
“It..it began a few days later. The realization and subsequent guilt had slowly started to grow from the moment we had left my father’s house. We decided on a short trip to Umar Hills. The members of the party, other than Riona, had, more or less, avoided me since leaving Athkatla. It was unclear whether they were giving me room to clear my mind and be alone with my grief, or that they had their own grievances with what I -- we -- had done.
“The taste of bitter vetch had begun to fill my mouth. We had camped for the night and Riona and I were sitting on the bank of a nearby stream soaking our tired feet. I confessed to her that family honor or not, I was beginning to feel overwhelming guilt and shame from my vengeful acts. That this thing I had done was not the right thing and that by killing Saerk, and especially his daughter, I had perpetrated a most heinous crime. I…I felt I had betrayed the tenets of the Order and had turned my back on my sacred vows. I wondered aloud if I had betrayed myself.” He looked down. “I don’t know if I was looking for reassurance from her that I had done the right thing or I was simply trying to appease my own conscience. Deep down inside I knew it was wrong.”
He looked up. “She did try to reassure me, but as I listened to her words, I was suddenly drowning in the sinking feelings of despair brought about by the consequences of my irrational acts. I condemned myself with my own words as I sat talking to her. The realization then suddenly hit me. ‘By the Gods, what have I done?!’ I thought. ‘I willingly relinquished myself to this poisonous, vile madness and I have turned into the monster that is my father -- that which I have hated more than anything else in this life, I have become!’
“As days went on, I was cursed with dreams of Surayah’s face haunting me, the color drained from her face, the look of death and terror in her eyes. Riona took to placing her bedroll close to mine and would awaken me from my night terrors, wipe the sweat from my brow with a damp cloth, and try to soothe me back to sleep. With time, the dreams lessened, but Riona still kept watch during fitful sleeps. She was my savior. A spawn of Bhaal was the only light in my life.” A faint smile traced his lips as he reflected upon the irony.
We talked more of his father’s machinations and I again reminded him that if he was going to be responsible for his own actions, he was also going to have to be responsible for his own belief, or disbelief, that he was like his father. Like Riona, he, too, had a choice, and that giving in to what one believed was the inevitable, was usually choosing the opposite of what one really wanted.
“Anomen, I would really like to read your journal before we continue and I think we may be at a good point where we can pick up next time,” I said gently, realizing we had seriously exceeded our time for this day. “Can you return in three days, again mid-morning?”
“Of course, Glory.” He stood and stretched. He briefly noticed the small fresh wounds on the palms of his hands. They were instantly gone. “It feels good to get these things out in the open and talk about them. Riona is wonderful but there are times she is vexed with her own problems and I wish not to burden her with my petty problems from the past.”
“I am sure Riona does not think of these things as ‘petty,’ Anomen. She apparently loves you very much to have stood by you through all of this,” I smiled at him. “You are a fortunate man, Anomen. You should thank the Gods. And her.”
It was getting on into the afternoon and Charona was busying herself with the voluminous papers that seemed to grow on her desk. I couldn’t decide whether to work on Anomen’s material or wait until the morning. He was so intense and forthcoming, it was difficult for me to physically sit with him, and then later transcribe with Ki, all in the same day. It drained me so.
I had two more patients this day, but not until later. Lord Leslie was going to finally make an appearance, and a new referral. I then remembered the music box and decided, since I had time, I would examine it a little closer.
I had not looked at it since I had rearranged my office several months earlier and had moved it to a drawer in one of my new bookcases. I unlocked the bottom drawer and there it was in all of its splendor. I put it on my desk and sat down to examine it. It was slightly oval in shape and actually a bit large for a music box and I looked it over thoroughly. I decided to wind the turnkey and listen to the music.
The tune was like a lullaby, sweet and melodious, although I did not recognize it. However, there was one note that was decidedly ‘off.’ That seemed very odd, I thought as the lower-range note consistently registered with a flat ‘pong’ sound. I finally found the little lever on the side, turned it off and moved it to the edge of my desk. Yes, that was exactly where I wanted it to be tomorrow morning when Sir Ryan arrived. If my hunch was correct, he had given the music box to the Lady Delryn many years ago. Perhaps he could shed some light on its immediate importance to her just prior to her death. In any case I would find out on the ‘morrow. Now it was time to make ready for the remainder of the afternoon.
“Charona, would you like to share a carriage home? It looks like a spring storm coming up,” I called back over my shoulder as I looked out my window at the gathering clouds over the edge of the Promenade. My last appointment was gone and I was ready to close up and call an end to the workday.
“Oh, yes, Mistress,” she replied. “I would be ready when you are.”
“Very well, then. You call the carriage and I will give Ki his dinner. I will meet you in front.”
The clouds had gathered and it stormed that night. I was happy to be snug and warm with Hendak safely within the confines of the Coronet. I had always been frightened of storms as a child and was still uneasy as an adult. Hendak found it all too amusing that here I was, trained to help people vanquish their fears but I couldn’t seem to deal with a few bolts of lightening and claps of thunder. I thought he was too amused and I found nothing humorous at all in his gentle teasing.
The next morning dawned clear and bright and the sweet smell of the spring rain still lingered. It was a joyful walk to the Promenade.
“Precisely on time, Sir Ryan,” I greeted him as Charona escorted him into my inner office. “Might I indulge you in some morning tea?”
“That, dear Madam, would be delightful,” and he bent and kissed my hand. I smiled and prayed chivalry would never go out of fashion.
“Charona, if you would be so kind to get us a pot of tea, please?” I nodded.
“Yes, Mistress, right away. Sir Ryan do you take honey? Or cream?”
“A little honey would be perfect, young miss,” he smiled and nodded his head. Charona dipped an impromptu curtsy to the Knight, smiled and closed the door.
“Do sit down, Sir Ryan,” and I motioned to the chair. I watched as he neared the desk to take his seat. His eyes were immediately drawn to the music box. He looked up at me and then down again at the box. He stopped next to it.
“Madam, if I might…”
I interrupted him. “Please do, Sir Ryan. I was hoping you might recognize it.”
“Oh yes, Madam Glory. It has been many, many years, but I do, indeed recognize it.” He picked it up and held it gently in his hands. With a cracked voice he spoke, “I gave this to Moirala before the birth of our son, Anomen, that it would soothe him to sleep at night as I would be unable.” He sat down still holding the box gazing intently at it. “This is the first I have seen of it since.”
Charona knocked gently at the door, entered and delivered the tea.
“Sir Ryan, let me explain how I came into possession of the Lady Moirala’s music box.” And as I filled our cups from the steaming teapot, I began to tell Cernd’s story to him.
“Do you think you were the designated ‘recipient’ of the box?” I asked him.
“Madam, I would doubt it. At the time of Lady Moirala’s passing, I was wed to Nora, and although my Lady and I did speak in private about Anomen on rare occasion, there was no other contact, other than various social functions. I did not even know she was so gravely ill at the time of her passing. But, I am sure there was a very good reason she did not want Lord Cor to have it, as she did nothing without a purpose. Reason dictates we must but find that purpose.”
We continued sipping our tea and debating the box.
“Where did you get the box, Sir Ryan? If I may ask.” I was very curious.
“It was a gift from a grateful patron of Helm for a favor I had extended and it was about the time of the little one’s birth. The patron said he had gotten it from a roving band of genies far south of Trademeet. Cost him a fair amount of coin, I quite well imagine. But for all its regal beauty, it played the most beautiful lullaby. Perfect for small ones sleeping, I assumed.” He smiled. “I gave it to Moirala upon one of her visits to the Church about two months before little Anomen made his advent into the world.” He didn’t seem to want to share any more immediate detail.
He took the box, wound the key and turned on the switch. As before, it played a lovely lullaby until the low note on the register. “Pong.” The song continued until the next time the note sounded. “Pong.” He gave me a puzzled look and turned off the switch.
“It sounds like something is amiss, Madam,” he said. He turned it over and inspected the bottom frame then tapped lightly from the edge to the center. “Madam, would you happen to have a ‘knock’ scroll about? There is the sound of hollowness here that invites our investigation. I am thinking there might well be a compartment of some sort.” His raised his eyebrows.
I called Charona immediately. No, no ‘knock’ scrolls in the cabinet.
“Would you run next door and purchase one from ‘in the back,’ Charona. Tell them just to put on my bill.”
“Yes, Mistress,” and she was out the door and returned in no time.
“Charona, you are gifted at doing this, if you will please do the honors….” And with that she chanted the spell from the scroll as Sir Ryan held the box upside down. We all watched intently.
The bottom plate of the box glowed briefly as the magical ward released. The grooved bottom slowly slid open revealing a small open compartment conjoining the musical workings of the box. There were two pieces of parchment tightly scrolled and tied with pink silk ribbon. An errant thread from the frayed end of one of the small pieces of fabric was lightly tangled on the lower register of the box’s musical tines. I gently pulled it free.
“Pong,” I said.
“Pong,” he nodded.
Charona quietly backed out of the room closing the door. Sir Ryan and I looked at each other and he handed me the box.
“Madam, I think you should review the scrolls. Right now I think I need to sit down and regain my composure.” And with that he unceremoniously fell into the chair. I moved around to my own chair and gingerly seated myself. I put the box on my desk and Sir Ryan stared at me with glazed eyes and mild shock written on his face.
“Sir Ryan, can I offer you a minor restoration or a potion before I open these?”
“No, Madam Glory, I will be fine once I hear what is in the scrolls,” he whispered and nodded to the task at hand.
I removed one and then the other. I carefully untied the pink ribbon on the first and carefully unrolled the beginning. I read aloud, “My darling Ryan – “ I stopped and looked at him. “Sir Ryan?”
“Please….please read the other,” he whispered and waved his hand. "We will return to this one." I nodded and set down the scroll addressed to him. I extracted the other one and proceeded to untie the ribbon. I unfurled it from the top.
“My darling son, Anomen…,” it began.
The handwriting was fine and delicate. Most assuredly that of a ‘Lady.’ The Lady Moirala Delryn to be precise.
TO BE CONTINUED……….
The Angst and The Analyst VI
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