At some point, Milo awoke. He wished he hadn't. His head was pounding hard and there was a horrible smell in the room. His mouth was incredibly dry. Stumbling out of bed, he went to the pitcher of water on the table, bypassing the glass and just pouring it into his mouth and down the front of his robe. The few drops of liquid that hit the floor looked like mud.
It wasn't hard to guess where the smell was coming from - the very horrible smelling robe that he took off a corpse rotting under a large collection of fungus.
He needed to find someplace to wash. Maybe the innkeeper knew of a place? Milo had little experience with where people washed either cloths or themselves. The homes in habitats had a small cleaning facility, but he was pretty sure Shadowport wouldn't have the same. And dirty clothes were just tossed into a recycler and you got new ones made when you needed them. They didn't last long, being mostly made of fibers from recycled paper and the shredded clothes you through away.
He made his way to the innkeeper, who backed up a step and did not look happy to see him. "Ghah! What a nasty pong! Get your butt down to the tubs and out of my inn. Don't come back until you've washed up. You smell like five years of dead turds." Milo rushed out of the inn and went in the direction he was pointing.
It wasn't hard to get directions. Anyone he approached noticed the stench and when he said "tubs?" he was hastily given directions.
Only the last person didn't mind. An mostly-deaf old man was selling tubs of rotten fish for bait or fertilizer. He must have lost his sense of smell years ago. He smiled at milo and pointed at his wares. "Fish? Stinky fish. Good bait." That turned out to be most of the words he knew. Milo and he played a game of charades with Milo miming washing himself and his clothes. Eventually the old man understood and pointed to a large building, but shook his head sadly when Milo bought no fish.
A few hundred feet closer to the harbor was a huge warehouse. Entering by the large open door, he saw that one end of the building was occupied by large tubs of soapy water. Further in were long lines where clothes were hanging to dry. A line of sheets separated the two areas.
Milo was suddenly aware of the predicament of having only one set of clothes. Luckily there was stall selling clothes nearby. All the wares were heavily patched or sewn from the remains of several items. For two copper pennies Milo acquired a quite colorful long-sleeved shirt and pants that each had at least seven colors of worn cloth. He found a corner of the warehouse to quickly change his clothes and rolled up the dirty ones, lessening their smell a bit.
Entering into the building with the tubs again, he saw a large heavily set matron at a counter who was taking money from a long line of women. Milo took his place in line and patiently waited. The women looked him over. "Let me guess, got your one set of clothes to wash. Waste of a tub, but it's your money. Take the one at the end, only used once today, water still has some soap in it. Dump it down the drain when you're done." Milo paid over another copper penny, seeing his small amount of money leaving him rapidly. He needed to go sell the ore in his chest.
Milo washed his pants and undergarments first, then put the robe in last. The slightly dirty water immediately turned a red-brown in color. Taking a brush, he worked at loosening the imbedded grime in the robe. Huge amounts of muck came off of it, until the water was dark and opaque. Maybe this was going to take another tub? He saw the drain next to the tub, and a spigot on the tub. While the murky, smelly water drained out, he went to fill buckets and rinse out the robe.
The women had all dumped their clothes into the tubs, and left them to soak, even the matron taking money was gone.
Another twenty gallons of water went into the tub, and again the robe shed dirt and blood and things he didn't want to think about. The water was nearly black and a smell like a rotten egg was coming from the tub. Her hurriedly drained the water and got more. The third tub was just as bad, but on the fourth he made some headway. On the fifth he actually was able to rinse the robe out and the water looked murky but not horrible. The color of the robe was now a bright orange with some worn brown stitching visible.
Milo didn't see anyone at all around. There was water heating over a fire. He left a copper penny on the table, and decided to get himself clean. It was relaxing sitting in the water. Even after a bit of sleep, he was worn out. He leaned back and without meaning two, fell asleep.
Brother Ignacious of the holy order of Saint Joan of the Fire was surprised to see people entering his small church. Two dozen of the local women were entering and sitting down to pray. Three of them stood at the front of the church, wringing their hands and wanting to talk to him.
Ignacious was always happy to talk and ease problems. He got a lot of dinner invites that way and the women in this part of town were known for their cooking. What they couldn't tithe on holy days they made up for in free meals to keep him fed. "Ah, bless you all. What can this poor servant help you with today?"
Malka was the oldest of the three, somewhere north of a hundred years and related to most everyone in the area. She was a midwife and potion maker, healing with poultices and tonics. Her daughter Elena was her apprentice, learning her ways. The large one was Alessandra, the wash woman. She knew a bit of healing as well, and was rumored to have been a priestess once, but Ignacious had never heard of what religion.
Malka spoke up. "There is something happening...".
Alessandra interrupted "And it's happening in my bath house! We need you to come see!"
"As I was saying...", Malka looked pointedly at Alessandra, "There is a wandering holy man in the bath house."
Now this was interesting. Ignacious smiled. "Ah, I see. A wandering holy man. Well, I hope he has time to stop by and I can meet him. You should be happy he chose your wash house Alessandra. Saint or sinner, we all need to wash our clothes now and then. Is there some problem?"
Malta thumped her cane on the ground. "You could say that. He's freeing souls from some ancient cloth. His wash water runs with the blood of their sins and the souls are hovering over my bath house. Most of the women can't see them, but it's making everyone nervous."
"And does anyone see these things? Or just hear them?" At times the wind would come whipping into the cavern ahead of a storm. Many of the superstitious would attribute wind whistling through an attic as old souls howling. More than one dinner invite had included a quick exorcism and some advice on stuffing some wool into the cracks in attic walls.
Malta looked stern. "Alessandra and I can see them moving about and wailing. But Elena can see them plainly. Tell him girl!"
Elena was nervous, but everyone said she'd inherited the sight from both sides of her parentage. "Every time he has dumped out a tub of water, another soul rises from the robe he is cleaning. There are five souls hovering in the air, arguing with each other about what to do. Ethereal chains still attach themselves to the garment."
"Oh, well, that's...yes, that needs...right, let me get my staff and a few things and I'll go speak to him. What is he doing now?"
Elena blushed and Alessandra smirked. "He decided to cleanse himself. He took a bath in my tubs and is now snoring, exhausted from his labors. You need to do something Ignacious, or we'll never get our washing done. No one is going into the wash house with some crazy holy man there and souls up in the rafters wailing."
"I see. I will go investigate for you."
The wash house was a quick walk. A few women were still by the door, stealing looks at the holy man. The three women with the sight hadn't exaggerated. There were five powerful spirits in the air, with chains running down into a washtub. By their look, all were wizards of some type. He saw two humans, a rat-kin, an elf, and a lizardman, all wearing a similar elaborate runed robe.
The 'holy man', if that's what he was, was quite young. He was snoring, only his face showing in the water. In the tub next to him was robe he had been laboring to cleanse. It was tattered and worn, but looked quite powerful. Ignatius hated to interrupt anyone who was having a good nap, but obviously, something needed to be done.
Milo woke up to someone nudging his shoulder and saying “excuse me”.
The man standing next to his tub was a priest of some sort wearing fancy vestments and holding a wooden staff.
Startled, Milo stood up, realized he was both wet and naked, and scrambled for his new, patch-work pants. “Oh, sorry. Dozed off. I was just so tired.”
The priest nodded. “As well you should be. Cleansing spirits is difficult work. I came by see if I could be of some assistance.”
“Spirits?” Milo wasn’t sure what the man was talking about. He dried himself off with his shirt and put it on. He did hear something odd. Wind?
The priest pointed to the rafters. At first Milo only saw smoke, but the more he looked, the easier it was to see the five spirits chained to the robe in the washtub. They noticed him staring and turned as one, watching him. Milo turned to the priest.
“uh…I’ll be honest, I was just washing out an old robe I found. “
The priest considered for a moment. “Then I don’t think you are quite done with the job.”
|Quest: Free the Souls of your predecessors bound into the Bone Runed-Cowl
You have begun the process of freeing the five Bonecasters who owned the garment before you. Each offers you a reward for freeing him from bondage.
Success: The Bone-Runed Cowl will be empty and when you die your final death, you won't have to share it with anyone. You will also receive a gift from each of your predecessors.
Alternate Success: Keep the souls enchained! After all, it's what they did! Benefit from their power and knowledge and quickly become a force to be reckoned with! Of course, when you die, they'll be waiting for you...