"Doctor Evergreen..." The doctor looked up from his desk to the young nurse who had walked into the room to assist him in juding the boy's condition and any needs he may have once he awoke. He wasn't better, but he certainly wasn't getting worse. She was pointing at the young boy's scraggy forelock, parting some of the hair to offer Evergreen a better look as he approached.
"There are scars on his head," she declared with some surprise. "They look fairly ragged."
The doctor nodded carefully. Jasper, presumably still under the bed, listened intently.
"I found as much after a cursory kenning before that terrible trio visited us. There's another on his chest, just below the left ribcage. By all appearances it seemed to be from some kind of stabbing activity." The nurse shook her head sadly.
"Hard to believe the kind of trouble even the young ones get into these days," she said quietly. "Ever since the Near War, everything's been going topsy turvy so... so fast. He looks so innocent, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was fresh out of one of the gangs."
Evergreen shrugged his assent. "I notice that very few things surprise us anymore. Nurse, I will handle things tonight. You will need to notify the Guardsmen once he wakes up... they'll probably be here by next morning anyway, though, wanting to 'clap him in irons' or some rot. They're more concerned about incarceration for the public good than anything else." He went back to his paperwork as the nurse was dismissed until later.
Dornigan and Vilnas watched as the others squabbled, calmed, squabbled again, and then quieted once more in the space of a few seconds. It was time to take charge before things began unwraveling even worse than they already were. Vilnas took the intitative. Some of these people were still barely more than youngsters, and she wouldn't stand for them having a nervous breakdown, ... and especially right in front of the curator. Despite the stress she was feeling and how admittedly frazzled she appeared just under the skin, Vilnas, ever attempting to appear collected and grounded, stepped forward, putting her hand lightly Kahlin's shoulder as Ayshe looked to the side with another reply in mind.
"I suggest we stop thinking this is about self determination-"
"I believe," said Lady Vilnas, "that enough is enough. Trajan has asked a pertinent question, and it is now time for answers.
"Aven has always been a rather quiet child. He came to officially work with us under Master Barret about eight years ago. I remember him then. Meek as a well fed bog dragon, and always ready to help with one thing or another. The only things he hurt before the swamp expeditions started were insects, and even then he almost always tried to put them back outside again. His newfound nervous nature doubtless coincides with the increased activity of the dagger, especially if he is..." Here she took a deep breath like the next word needed a touch of fresh air before it graced her tongue. "Bonded... to it. The idea is wholly repugnant to me... but evidence clearly suggests otherwise. As Ayshe said, this dagger is contributing to his behavior in a way that it certainly should not be doing. Believe me, I have cared for that boy for the better part of eight years... the only other person who would know him better would be Master Barret, and he is dead."
Dornigan cut in now. "The finding of the dagger we are all aware of. Four years ago, when the events with the misplaced human boy were reaching their resolution, Barret recovered it in an expedition to the southernmost reaches of the Dire Swamp. It being Guild business, I was able to oversee its handling and transportation. Rightfully it was his... at the time we had no idea it had any historical significance whatsoever. Just some flashy trinket a poor soul had lost along with his life in the swamps. Barret had it given to Aven. He kept it like it was a treasure from before the Wandering... until three years ago. Some business in Freedom Shore."
"They were there on Guild business," said Vilnas. "They were to recover a minor Dwarven artifact a fisherman had found near the shores of the Smoke Lake. The Guild wanted to recover it, because it was in fact not an artifact at all, by all accounts. It came to be there shortly after the human incident concluded. While waiting in storage, an unidentified thief broke into the warehouse, and stole it. Aven was able to give chase... but of course failed to apprehend the perpetrator. Being trapped in a museum, while filled with adventures in the swamps, he was brave as a Questor, but as dangerous as a swamp jelly in a real fight. He was stabbed, tossed through a few windows, and left for dead. Nobody ever saw the Dwarven item or the thief again."
"And ever since then, the dagger became... troublesome," said Dornigan. "Strange activity involving lighting up in the swamps, or sparking here and there. We considered it perfectly useless, and broken... figured Aven would get it fixed. Unfortunately he and it became more insperable than ever. We knew it was his, and never bothered him about it. And he seemed fairly normal." He sighed and rubbed his eyes in the manner of one fatigued. "It should have seemed so obvious looking back... but they were both terribly trustworthy, Barret and Aven. I would go so far as to say they almost had a sort of father-son... thing going on. For another couple of years leading up to this, we noticed Barret become a tad more reclusive... with himself, and with Aven. We didn't think particularly much of it... until Barret died in that foolhardy expedition to the swamps. It was, in theory, another freelance mission for what little treasure one can find there. Aven had been ecstatic about it... planned on buying "the biggest birthday cake in Sanctuary" with the spoils. Until of course, it ended in the disaster we are left with. Whatever happened to Aven after Freedom Shore and his failed vigilantism, it possibly led to his being bonded to this thing... and after some consideration, I can't help but think Barret had a hand in it."
"I'm certain of it," snapped Vilnas. "That old codger was always hiding things... Aven had no business being with him, I see that now." She seemed contemptful of whoever even got close to the boy without her permission anyway, given her natural prediliction of not trusting anyone, so Dornigan merely rolled his eyes.
"Any proof of that seems to have died with Barret, who had all the answers we may need. Vilnas had his offices turned upside down recently. All they found were maps, unimportant letters, and books. Except for the scrap of paper leading to that map which pointed out a very faint description of Moard Mannasan's supposed hiding spot, with no information regarding anything else, he left us with very little, except what we may have missed in initial investigations... and I'm sure we probably missed something... and Aven and the dagger themselves. Who, I am afraid, are out of reach. Out of sight, and out of mind. Until Jasper gets back with a more updated report on what's been going on, or news scrips inevitably get hold of something as raucous as a boy murdering a respected lux user, the only thing I see that we can do is figure out who wants the dagger and Aven, and why, and how best to keep them from causing harm."