Torgo (Part 5)

The Witch Queen was about to discover an infuriating fact about the mysterious Captain Divo Zucco. Unlike the brash, arrogant, and arguably reckless Captain Brass Sabre, Zucco was not the kind of pirate that advertised his presence nor his intentions. In fact a thorough investigation of the man was likely to reveal nothing of any interest whatsoever. He seemed by all outward appearances to be a man that was both scholarly and business minded, a man that had carved a niche for himself and his ship as a transporter of goods and a clever selector of cargo in order to maximize the profit for any of his travels. The last thing anyone on the outside would ever do is arrive at the conclusion that this man was a pirate. He did not act like a pirate, did not spend gold like a pirate, and frankly he did not in any way look the part of a sea-borne adventurer in any way.

Clearly a lich as powerful and influential in the Diosian Lodge as was the Witch Queen would not be relying solely on these kinds of rudimentary investigations. She had magic as her primary source of intelligence gathering. Where she lacked in these abilities, she knew another lich far more adept at divination, the Patriarch of Fate, and what she could not find out she was certain he could. Unlike many in the Diosian Lodge the Witch Queen was perfectly comfortable asking the other liches for help on her projects. Sometimes they would agree to help, get in over their heads, and she could get what she wanted while they took all of the risks. This was a little different, though. Near as the Witch Queen could tell there weren’t any risks to be had, there were only secrets to reveal. And the Patriarch of Fate was the best at that.

In his grand cathedral lair in the heart of his own domain of Sercsikilia the Witch Queen teleported and with a graceful, dramatic flourish presented herself before “his eminence” to seek his help in divining the whereabouts of this Captain Zucco. When she appeared in the clerical court of the Patriarch of Fate she did so in the guise of her normal form, hideous, undead, and terrifying. This wasn’t to cause a stir, but rather the opposite. Liches as a rule did not like to be reminded of their mortal forms, and while the Witch Queen was comfortable among the living, that certainly wasn’t true of the Patriarch of Fate.

Sitting on his small, golden throne the Patriarch of Fate looked a bit like an undead version of the Supreme Pontiff, Callidus Magna. One obvious difference however was the scale of everything around him. The hall was smaller, things were a lot dingier and decayed, and there were only a handful of minions on hand to do his beck and call. When the Witch Queen appeared before him in the center of the hall the Patriarch of Fate sat back and folded his hands in front of him. “I knew I would have a lovely visitor, but was unaware it would be you, Witch Queen.” he said in his hollow otherworldly voice.

The Witch Queen allowed herself a girlish giggle, but it came out as a horrifying cackle. “You wicked charmer. A priest should not suggest such things, even if we are many hundreds of years beyond the grave.” With a bow the Witch Queen said, “I have a matter that requires your skills, Patriarch. I need specific information about a pirate.”

Leaning forward the undead priest said with a dash of intrigue in his tone, “Are you now taking on the role of the Dread Admiral? Are not the pirates and seafarers his purvey?”

“This one stole from me. That makes it my business. I need to know where he is so that I can retrieve my property.” the Witch Queen said icily. Had any mortals been present they would have been in fear for their lives her mood had shifted so suddenly. Of all the creatures to steal from, a lich was pretty high on the “nope” list.

Settling back into his seat the Patriarch of Fate sighed and said, “Very well, then. Who is it that you seek?”

“A man who travels by the name of Divo Zucco, your eminence.” Replied the Witch Queen.

The Patriarch of Fate nodded his head, and the pinpoints of bright red light in his eye sockets changed into a piercing white color. As if in a trance the clerical lich sat perfectly still, only twitching his head occasionally. The Witch Queen, impatient as she was, remained quiet and waited for her peer to do his work. Perhaps the one thing more dangerous than stealing from a lich was interrupting one that was trying to do something beyond the keen of mortal minds.

Time isn’t terribly important to a lich, and yet impatience is one of their hallmarks when they are forced to wait on somebody else. Minutes ticked by as the Witch Queen did her level best to keep her composure. Finally the trance came to an end, and the Patriarch’s pinpoints of light returned to red. He looked unsettled. His voice could not hide his consternation as he said to the Witch Queen, “I cannot find this man. I can only say that he exists, and is a mortal, but I cannot see where he is or what he is doing.”

“How is this possible?” shrieked the Witch Queen. “How can a mere man hide from your divine insight?”

The Patriarch shook his head and he said in a low tone, “This is most vexing. I am prevented from scrying him in any way. I can only surmise that he has powerful spellcraft on his side.”

The Witch Queen screamed. Not just a frustrating scream, or a scream of raw anger. The kind of scream that blew out the windows of the Patriarch’s hall and sent showers of broken glass spraying all over the vast room.

“Ok, you’re going to be replacing those.” said the Patriarch in an exasperated tone. “And that stained glass wasn’t cheap, either.”