Benedict’s Lab Discovered!

Kardian McLean

UP: Catskills

    I fear it is with heavy heart, my friends, that I bring you this next tale in my ongoing search for information on the plague that has haunted Kinship, Skara Brae, and Yew. I must apologize for not writing of this sooner however given my recent illness and the troubles across the lands, I have found little time for writing. It seems that much has happened!

I decided that perhaps Tatiana would be a good person to ask and decided to travel to Minoc to visit her tent. Upon entering her tent, it took my eyes a moment to adjust to the dark interior. The tent seemed to be filled with a light smoke that smelled unusual and made me slightly lightheaded, but I proceeded in nonetheless. Without ever looking up she beckoned me closer with one hand, never saying a word. As I approached her I could see lights swirling in her crystal ball, seeming to dance in response to her hands moving slowly about it.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw images begin to form inside the crystal ball. I could see events taking place. All Tatiana said in her raspy voice was, “Vatch and learn ov vhat ju seek…”

My eyes were filled with horrible visions of death. My senses were screaming at me to look away yet I could not bring myself… I was compelled to watch it… to learn of what I had missed. My horror grew rapidly upon seeing visions of deaths all over… yet a few seemed to draw my attention. A lumberjack in Yew, a young boy in Skara, an old miner in a shack in the woods by the dungeon Shame… here and there… quiet deaths that never seemed connected yet were. There never seemed to be enough to really show the enormity of the situation in any one area, especially in light of all of the destruction wrought to the lands… yet this plague was growing and spreading bit by bit.

I must admit that I had harbored some hope that the devastation across the lands had also managed to wipe out the plague. However I fear this is not so. My thoughts were brought back to the present by a muffled noise from Tatiana and my vision once again focused on the crystal ball. I watched boats set sail from some unknown area, one boat crashing at sea, one boat crashing on the shore near Skara Brae scattering food everywhere, and one boat making it to Yew.

My horror increased ten fold as I watched people consuming the food here and there… then saw the same signs of the plague. People were falling ill all over, struggling to get to the healer’s shop and not making it… In time this seemed to die back and the potency of the plague lessened somewhat. But each time a new batch of food would arrive and more death would follow. Oddly enough, an image of a mage drifted through all of them. His blue robes seeming to stand out each time as if Tatiana were pointing him out to me almost. Who was he?

Then the scene shifted… I saw an image of an old hermit on an island… once again confusion filled my mind. What did he have to do with this? Was he creating the plague? I saw a group speaking to this man, then much to my surprise, I saw them giving him furniture. Who was this man? And what did he have to do with the plague?

A chill sped down my spine as I heard Tatiana’s voice almost as if she could read my thoughts. “Patience child,” she said as the image shifted once again in the crystal ball. I saw the people talking to the man again at the winery… their voices seeming to echo as a faint memory in my head.

“Borrow my still?!”

“People are dying or something… they promised Ewan three chairs and a fishing pole.”

“His brew may cure the plague.”

Suddenly it came clear in my mind. This man, this Ewan, had a cure for the plague. But what had happened? Where was this man? Why had the cure not been distributed already?

I quickly thanked Tatiana and set off for Yew to seek out Ewan and the master brewer. Unfortunately what I found was even more disheartening. Both Ewan and the master brewer had not been heard from for a few weeks now and no one had been able to find any clues as to their whereabouts.

I must admit that at this point I was quite lost as to where to turn next for information, but soon rumors started reaching me of people falling ill in the new lands. From all that I have learned this plague has not only spread faster in the Yew area of our homelands but it has also begun to appear in the lands so newly opened to us as a refuge. Given this, I decided to double my efforts at finding this brewer, Ewan. Something must be done and quickly to end this plague before it spread even farther.

When I overheard a group of men speaking of a laboratory that had been discovered in the old lands but which was inaccessible by any conventional means… I felt a strong suspicion that this might be connected somehow to the plague and I set out to investigate it.

As I stepped through the gate a scene of chaos met my eyes. What had obviously been a very orderly lab lay in disarray as mages in red and blue robes scurried about gathering up things. Realizing that I would soon find myself in trouble if I did not act quickly I dashed under a table and hid. It seems my entry had been relatively ignored as a mage in blue robes stood arguing with a group across the room ordering them to leave at once. When the men did not respond, the mage turned grumbling to himself and with a simple gesture commanded the other mages to attack… I moved farther back into my hiding place as a battle ensued lasting what seemed like hours before the men finally fled as the mage’s pressed their attack furiously.

I nearly cried out as my foot brushed against something under the table. What I found however was a simple leather bound book and I quickly set to reading it as quickly as possible. Scanning the pages I saw Benedict’s plan unfold. He told of preparing food for shipments to Skara Brae and Yew. I read of his frustrations that Kinship would not purchase his food. But what frightened me most of all were his tales of drugging a terathan and leaving it at the Court in Yew. What did the terethan’s have to do with this? Why would Benedict bring them here? Were they tied somehow to the plague?

I was quickly drawn back to my surroundings as I heard the mage whom I assume was Benedict grumbling about losing his journal. I saw his feet approaching and knew it was likely mere moments before I was discovered. I quickly shoved the journal near one leg of the table as I scooted back even farther into the shadows under the table, hoping that he would see it and not bother to look under the table more. My ploy worked, thank goodness, and Benedict picked it up then turned and walked off.

I dared to peek out a bit and watched the mage walk to a door across the room to unlock it. An old man came out ranting and cursing about having left his home for a fishing pole and a stool. Suddenly it occurred to me that I had seen this man before… as well as the mage in the blue robes. They had both been in Tatiana’s visions to me. The old man was Ewan!

Unfortunately, dear readers, I have to report with a heavy heart that Benedict disappeared with Ewan into a gate. I knew that to follow would likely mean my own death against so many mages. I fear that I have little more information on his whereabouts than I did before I found this lab... but should I discover more I will be certain to report it to you at once.

From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Wednesday, May 3rd 2000