The Tales of Quirkheart & Gotthold: The Longest Night ~~ Duskwood Chapter Five

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After speaking with Clerk Daltry, Quirkheart and Gotthold face the challenge of recovering the documents needed to solve the mystery of Stalvan Mistmantle. It’s a long shot, but the only one they have. 

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“Now,” Gotthold said, scanning the immediate area as they left the town hall, “we just need to get out of town before Ebonlocke gets nosy.”

“It’s my job to be nosy,” a familiar voice said.

To Gotthold’s credit, he barely flinched when she spoke, though his eyes did go a bit wide for a moment.

“Friend Gotthold, now would be a perfect opportunity to inquire about the perceived flavor of the Commander’s pants,” Quirkheart stage-whispered. “As stated before, none of my research into human clothing indicates what flavor designation they would have and whether that flavor would be sour.”

There was a surprised spluttering from the Commander as she stepped out from the shadows. She’d been in the corner where the stairs met the town hall entrance, instead of at the bottom of the stairs where she normally stood.

Gotthold turned a shade of crimson darker than even the scales of the dragons from the red dragonflight, and tilted his head back beseechingly at the sky.

Why me? he asked mournfully.

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that,” Commander Ebonlocke said firmly.

Gotthold looked down at her from his perch at the top of the stairs, and grimaced when he was confronted with her scowl. Her name was an apt description of her hair, dark, with the long locks parted down the middle. And just like most of the sunshine-deprived of the area, her skin was ghostly.

“Now, what business did you have in the town hall, outsider?” she asked, one hand steady on her weapon, while her other hand was in a fist and planted on her hip. Her shuttered lantern was on the ground nearby, flame snuffed out.

“Just chatting with your clerk about local history. Fascinating stuff, really,” he said, trying to be as vaguely truthful as possible.

Her scowl deepened, and her lips pursed.

“Once again, based on my study of human facial expressions, I would say she does not believe you, friend Gotthold,” Quirkheart said, her head tilting to look up at him.

“Yes, friend Gotthold, it would indeed appear that she doesn’t believe you,” Ebonlocke mocked.

The only reason Gotthold remained friendly (ish), was that her tone was aimed more at him than Quirkheart.

“You caught me. You were nowhere to be found, and we were looking for another job.”

It was still a sort-of truth, but the way Ebonlocke’s jaw tightened said she wasn’t buying what he was selling. Then her eyes landed on something beyond Quirkheart and Gotthold.

“Detlev!” she shouted.

When Gotthold followed her line of sight, it landed on the man they’d had the chat with in the tavern. The one with the ogre’s face.

“Yeah?” he answered, stopping so suddenly his buddies ran into his back.

“It’s, ‘yes, ma’am,’ to you, Detlev,” she corrected him. It sounded more rote than anything else, as though this were expected as opposed to something she truly cared about. “These two are looking for something to do. I received a report about some worgen menacing travelers near the Rotting Orchard, and Calor has been knocking down my door to get someone out there to do something about it. Take our fine adventurers from Stormwind out there, and see if they can make themselves useful,” she finished, then grabbed her lantern and walked away.

“What? No! I–” Detlev tried to say, and held out a hand as though to stop her.

Ebonlocke didn’t even break her stride, and disappeared into the gloom behind the nearest house.

When Gotthold looked back at the man, his hands were in fists at his side, and he was glaring daggers at the pair.

“Well–” Gotthold started.

“Not a word from either of you,” Detlev said, stabbing a finger at each of them. “Get your mounts and meet me at the south road out of town.” With that, he left his two very drunk friends leaning on one another as he headed for the stables.

“Well, this is a fine kettle she’s gotten us into,” Gotthold grumbled. “The only good thing about this mess is we needed to go there, anyway. She could have just given us directions.”

Quirkheart looked at the ground, then back at Gotthold. “We are not in a kettle, friend Gotthold. We are standing on the stairs of the town hall.”

“It means we’ve been put into a dilemma, Quirk,” he explained as they made their way down the stairs, then past the drunk, still immobilized pair.

“Ah, yes, friend Gotthold. That would appear to be correct. We will need to accomplish both tasks set before us. How do you propose we search for the documents without arousing suspicion?”

“We’ll need a distraction,” Gotthold said as they made their way to the stables. Then, a really awful, wickedly perfect idea came to mind as the wooden structure came into sight. “What’s that thing you’ve been researching recently?”

The blue glow of Quirkheart’s eyes brightened. “You mean the capability of sentient creatures to augment power through emotion, and what role it plays in–”

“Yes,” Gotthold interrupted her before she could continue, “that’ll do. I want you to enlighten our companion on that research and anything else you can think of.”

Any kind of non-stop chatter would likely do, but when Quirkheart started throwing big words into the mix, the effect would be too great to overcome.

“Of course! However, what will we do to distract him?” she asked, her head tilting quizzically, then there was a whirring sound. “Oh, I perceive your intention, friend Gotthold. It is rare for a layperson to fully grasp such concepts, and it will be a sufficient distraction while you search for the documents.”

“Exactly, my friend. A perfect plan, and the perfect person to execute it,” he said, then bent down to pat her shoulder.

He could have sworn he’d seen her blush, but in the perpetual darkness it was difficult to tell.