This is the final scene of chapter ten, and in it, Balfrith gets another clue that leads him on in his quest to remove the curse from Branulf.
* * *
They returned the next day after breakfast, as agreed, and the secretary was waiting for them in his office. He welcomed them in, and as they sat down in the same chairs as before, he said, “I have some good news for you. We found the treatise that Gregorius wrote, On the Haunting of Various Places, and it does mention the ruins in Nifflgarde.”
“That is good news,” said Balfrith.
Caorall continued, “The place is called Draugeborg, and the ruins are reputed to be haunted by an ancient evil, though no one remembers when or how that evil appeared. As to exactly where they are, we do not have a map. But his writings suggest that if you sail into Drakenmount, then follow the ancient highway north out of that city for about two weeks, you should be within a day’s walk from there. I do not know if there is any sort of landmark to tell you where to go from there, but perhaps there will be local folk who can tell you.”
Eldamir asked, “Did Gregorius ever write anything else, besides the treatise on haunting?”
Caorall shook his head. “Alas, he left no notes or other writings behind when he departed. It seems that he planned to be gone for some time, perhaps permanently, and so he took all of his work with him when he left.”
Balfrith stood then, and asked, “Well, secretary Caorall, you have our thanks. Is there anything else you have for us? If not, we have some other business to attend, and will not be in Westmere for much longer, for we depart for Castor tomorrow morning.”
“I have no other knowledge of Gregorius’ whereabouts, or indeed anything else of his. But you are welcome for what small aid I was able to provide.”
Balfrith said, “We’re staying at the Double Yolk Inn, near the docks. If you think of anything else that may be of value, we’ll be there until tomorrow morning. Otherwise, again, you have our thanks. Even this little bit may help, at least insofar as it gets us closer to Gregorius, and some answers to my larger questions.”
“You never did tell me what, exactly, you were hoping to learn from him. Might I ask what that is?”
Balfrith shrugged. “It’s no secret, really. I have an old family heirloom that has gained a rather evil reputation over the years. People think it has brought us bad luck, as if it were cursed. I hope to determine whether it is even possible that the thing in question could be cursed, and if it really is, try to remove that curse. But first, I need to understand the nature of the thing. At the university in Nûmidëa, professor Ducca could find no evidence of a curse on the thing, nor indeed of any enchantment at all. But he did not rule out the possibility, for he said that they are forbidden the research of curses or any black magic, so their knowledge of such things is very limited.”
Caorall nodded, slowly. “I see. Well, I wish you the best of luck in your quest. If I learn anything else about Gregorius, or if I think of anything that might help in your search for knowledge of curses, I will make note of it. Perhaps you will return this way in the future. If you do, please stop by and let me know how you fare. And if I have anything for you at that time, I’ll be happy to give it to you then.”
“You’ve been most helpful, Caorall. Thanks again. And now, we really must be going. I will leave your name with our innkeeper, so that if you send any messages there, he will at least recognize the source of the message and know that it is important to us.”
“Well, I hope to see you again in the future, whatever may come of your quest. Until then, I wish you fare well, and gods’ speed, my friends. Goodbye.”
“Goodbye.” Balfrith bowed slightly, as did Eldamir, and they turned and left.