Ado Bristleback waited until the door closed, then let out a weary sigh. The newest report floated down to his desk to join the growing pile. Thin scraps of paper cramped with urgent writing. He’d been collecting them for the past three days now.
Last night the little bastards removed every label from the hospitals alchemical storeroom and stuck them back onto the bottles at random. Apparently the staff learned of it when a man in need of a laxative was accidentally given a dose of liquid arsenic.
Steel horseshoes somehow replaced with flint that shattered instantly on the cobbles. Tiny drugged needles pounded into the streets. There was even a clever little glass lens attached to the weather vane on top of the brass-works’ bell tower. Two houses burned down before he’d figured that one out.
Ado wasn’t a member of the town watch and he held no degree of study form the Hospital. And yet, Finian always made an extra copy of any important messages and had one on Ado’s desk within the hour.
Ado held tenure at the University. He had come down to Ashford to retire. A quiet place which, for all its rustic appearance, held some of the greatest progressive minds of the century within its walls. Putting modesty aside Ado knew he was one of the best among them. He’d gobbled up arcane puzzles and took apart complex theorems like children’s toys.
It was effortless. All he had to do was let his mind drift away. Clear his head of every errant thought until nothing remained but the hum of pure cognition. Answers always struck him like a bolt of lightning, the complete solution dropped out of his head with but a few moments consideration.
He’d been trying for three days now. Concentrating on the problem before letting his mind drift away. This city, no, his home was under attack and needed a plan more than anything else, needed guidance, needed someone that could put an end to this.
Every time he tried all he got was a perfect picture of the four he’d sent away.
Two of them were a the strangest pair of tourists he had ever seen. A tall elf clutching a spellbook and a raven perched on his shoulder. He didn’t wear the robes of a novice enrolled in the university, but to Ado his expression gave him away. Like a man trying to decide how he’d been cheated. They were the eyes of every fresh mage, spit out of training and still wondering why the world doesn’t seem any easier now that they can float a drink across the room.
He’d come to Ado’s office early in the morning with some research request of the University that Ado was needed to officiate. He barely glanced at the documents before signing. The Elf’s companion was much more interesting.
He was human but he didn’t move like one. Every step landed with an unnerving sense of purpose instead of making sound. A strange and fluid grace that comes only from training in the great monasteries. The young monk was clearly traveling with the elf but obviously felt no need to explain himself.
The third was one of the newest druids. He was a dwarf that apparently regarded a large battle axe as appropriate attire for an acolyte. Ado had little to say to him those few times the Druid was sent to purchase herbs from Ado’s private garden, although he always snuck a piece of honeycomb to the Dwarfs bear familiar when he got the chance.
The fourth was Erik. A small child when Ado first came to Ashford, but a quick witted and likable child even then. Ado wasn’t at all surprised when he joined the cities’ squadron of rangers when he came of age. Still he had thought the boy better than to start covering himself in swords like the rest of the young fools but the local captains all thought him a promising swordsman.
Strangers, Aside from young Erik Ado didn’t even recall their names. And yet, it was the four of them. Strange accidents and malicious attacks pop up on all ends of the city in a matter of hours and no one able to identify the assailants. This strange four cry out, run into an alleyway and come back out coated in gremlin blood and holding the peoples precious explanation up on a silver platter.