“Tazrak’s fiery balls! I’ve got this tune in my head and I just can’t remember the lyrics.” Kalio said, frustration evident in his voice.
It was something we were all feeling. Former Gods, now just a pale imitation of what we were.
Kalio started humming the tune again.
The words sprang to Balenor lips as his eyes fell upon a bottle littering the area.
The spirit in the bottle
Go softly where ye treade
The lady is a cunning one
Disturb ye not the wicked dead
Never tarry on a restless night
Lest ye finde what darkness means
For she will trouble thee until in sleep
And steal thy soul through dreams
Memories came flooding back from just before the Pantheon War.
Things had been heating up between the pantheons lately. Most disturbing was Balenor’s new Herald of Vengeance had gone missing and his Herald wasn’t the only one.
Balenor could feel the presence of Airst in his head, a signal that his former master desired to speak telepathically with him.
“Balenor, my Chalice has filled with a most interesting tale. It is a new tale being told by a bard of Pelor. It goes as follows:
You might have heard of a ship in a bottle – but have you ever heard of a witch in a bottle? This is the tale of one very troublesome witch.
At the Priory of Pelor in Dunstable, on a cold winter’s morning, a local elven woman called Naerdiel was condemned of witchcraft by the Priory monks. She was slowly burned at the stake. Her cat and broomstick suffered the same fate.
But Naerdiel did not choose to go quietly as some did. She died loudly, screaming and cursing to her last breath. She threatened a terrible revenge on the monks who had condemned her. A curse of revenge Balenor heard and began to grant.
The monks quickly found out that Naerdiel was far more trouble dead than when she had been alive! Mysterious things began to happen. Invisible hands boxed the monk’s ears; the church altar candles flickered and spat with an evil green glow.
Where Naerdiel’s ghostly fingers touched the prayer books, the covers were burnt. The monks could not pray in peace or sleep at night. It was driving them mad!
An exorcist was finally called to exorcise Naerdiel’s ghost, in a special church service but the troublesome witch would still not go quietly.
When the exorcist began the service, he was struck round the head with a mighty force that threw him to the ground. As the dazed exorcist struggled to his feet, the congregation froze in fear as the witch’s menacing laughter rang from the rafters above.
But the exorcist himself was cunning and he finally outwitted the witch by putting a witch’s lure in a bottle. The lure was a secret mixture, known only to a few people, of herbs and potions. It was very like a witch’s spell itself!
The lure was so strong, it soon attracted the attention of the witch and when Naerdiel’s curious ghost went to investigate, the exorcist rammed the cork into the bottle tight! He gave a warning that the bottle must never be broken or the witch would escape and take terrible revenge on everyone.
The bottle was buried in a secret place in the priory grounds, just to make sure any friends of the witch could not retrieve it. However, as nobody knew where it was buried, it was said there were no more burials in the priory churchyard, just in case the buried bottle was accidentally broken, releasing the ghost of the wicked witch of Dunstable.
As far as we know, no strange bottles have ever been dug up near the site of the old priory but, if you should find yourself in the area, just remember to tread very, very carefully."
Almost as well known as Balenor were his divine heralds, the Furies. Three divine servants who each best represented one of his divine aspects. If the bard’s story from just before the war was true, Naerdiel may still exists trapped within a bottle. Depending on the about of time that had passed, Ascalara or one of her descendants may still be alive and still hold to the vow given to Balenor. The Darkling Stalker Scintilla most likely had perished of old age unless Balenor had only been imprisoned for a couple mortal years. Regardless, Balenor would need to rebuild his Furies and a place to start would be finding this former Priory of Pelor.