While strolling along the boulevard in Ardoris, I engaged in some idle conversation with a teacher and his students. As we chatted it became clear they were looking for more than idle banter. Three of the students were looking for some texts that had gone missing. In their study of the virtues, these books would help them gain understanding and perhaps enlightenment. They knew not where these texts were, merely the titles. But there was more to the story. One of their ranks had taken a turn for the worst and had strayed from the virtues. It appears she had taken a darker path and might also be looking for the same books, but her ultimate purpose could be far less constructive.

After listening to the tale, I came to the conclusion that I was supposed to find 12 books, whose titles I had, but their location could be quite literally be anywhere in the realm. There was no mention of a reward, but I’m not in it for the money or the glory. I accepted their challenge and as time permitted, I would try to locate these tomes. If they could do better, they were certainly welcome to wander aimlessly and take up the search themselves.

I’m my previous travels, I mentioned finding such a book in the hands of that scallywag Anton. No bandit has need of such things, so I secreted it away after paying my call on him. But this put me in a bit of a dilemma. While these books discuss the virtues, I was in the process of stealing them. This struck me as a wee bit of a contradiction. I’m not sure how it’s going to look on the checklist to reach my avatarness if I’m pinching books to help students better their knowledge. Hopefully the Oracle and I can come to some sort of agreement in regard to this business.

Through my myriad of travels I was able to locate the books in question. Oh they were indeed in some odd and unusual places. One lay in the dirt outside a most ominous tower. One lay deep within the tunnels of a gem mine. Another lay on Enmar’s desk. I felt bad about that one. I distracted him with talk of Ectoplasm while the book in question fell into my satchel. It’s a risky proposition to steal a book right off the desk of the head jailor in these parts and with the Clink clearly visible outside his window.

While out on an excursion, I crossed paths with the mysterious fourth student, a rather strange lass with some nefarious leanings. She too is looking for these same books, but her desire is to set them ablaze and show that Chaos is the true path. As she ranted, cackling loudly, her arms flailing in wild gesticulation, she mentioned there would be a reward if I brought the books to her rather than back to the students. Hmm, so she has an interest in the same books, but wants to burn them in some cleansing fire. I’m not too sure about that. Liberating books is one thing, burning them is another matter entirely.

Then a plan struck me. I bid her a good evening and continued on my journey.

Over the next few days through diligent searching and a bit of help from other adventurers, I managed to locate all the books. I then threw my plan into action.

By the light of the candle and with the help of my printing press, I meticulously copied each book and created an exact duplicate. I would give the real books to the students since I believed in their goals, but would give the copies to the crazy woman in the forest since I’m not above swindling her out of a reward. Plus it would give her a warm feeling to know she was doing evil even though she wasn’t actually hurting anyone. I’m all about making people happy.

My plan was a success. I visited each of the students to return their books and received a small token of appreciation for the effort. When I talked to the teacher himself, he combined all these into a small Statue of Virtue that I could proudly display. “Well thank you kindly, this will look lovely in my home.”

I then set off to visit the book burning harpy of the woods. I handed over my copies of the books and with great relish and glee she tossed them into the fire. I have to admit, I felt a bit awkward about this. Not over the burning of the books, they were mere copies, but the fact she took such enjoyment in the exercise and the hysterical dancing was a bit over the top in my opinion. “Yes, well, glad I could help.”

When she calmed down, she too handed over a reward for my effort. To my surprise, it was another statue, but a Statue of Chaos that would show I was part of her Brotherhood. I took the statue, mostly because I didn’t want her to put some sort of hex on me or beat me with the thing, but she was making a reach by saying we were part of the same Brotherhood. On no, my dear Haggis, you walk this path alone! And if you want to get some sort of following, you need to dial back the crazy. I’m always open to a little Chaos in the morning, but you make it creepy and unsettling.

I could still hear her wild laughter on the wind as I slipped through the exit. She was taking far too much enjoyment in thwarting the students.

With that, I went back home and set both statues on the lawn to let everyone know I was a follower of multiple paths in life. I usually get lost on those paths, but I’m still willing to give them a go.

We’ll still have to work all this out with the Oracle. There was some stealing, a bit of deception, a few lies, some counterfeiting, and some book burning. Not sure how this is all going to balance out.

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Oh yes, that’s quite lovely. A student of Chaos and a student of Virtue. You can’t ask for more than that. Still, that Chaos student was a touch on the creepy side. Hopefully she doesn’t have other nefarious schemes in mind. Book burning can be a slippery slope. But I got housing decorations out of the deal, so it’s all good!

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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