Dark Confidant in ‘The Case of the Missing Minus, Part Three’

Posted on Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 by KingRamz
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Previous installments:

Part One
Part Two

Dark Confidant  

The Case of the Missing Minus,
Part Three

When I came to, I was facedown on the ground with a mouthful of dirt. Then the headache came
crashing in with a vengeance, along with a new, throbbing pain in my face. “Uhn,” I said. “Mrph,”
I continued, as I spat out the mouthful of dirt, then turned face up. It was really bright out.
Someone was standing over me, but my vision was still blurry, so I couldn’t make out the face.
Wasn’t the right shape for Garruk, and plus, I wasn’t dead, so it wasn’t him. Maybe it was that
guy with the shield? “Who…?” I managed.

When she spoke, I had my answer. “As articulate as ever, Robert. Having a bad day?”
I stiffened. I loathe being called Robert. There’s only one person that ever calls
me that. A person whom, not coincidentally, I also loathe. I squinted, and what I was
seeing began to arrange itself into some semblance of her face.

“Elspeth Tirel,” I said. “Should’ve known from that guy’s jump. If you wanted to talk,
I could’ve just climbed down.”

“My way was better,” she said, “because it hurt you, and you are a detestable human being who
deserves to suffer.” She said that last part as if it was a fact that should’ve been obvious to
anyone, including myself. No anger, no malice. All white, all the time, that was Elspeth. As you
can imagine, she and I got along great. About as well as Chandra and self-restraint, or
Garruk and bathing.

“Fantastic,” I said. “You sound like my ex-wife. Are you going to kill me, or am I
going to have to get up?”

“I’m not going to kill you. In your current state, I think that would be a mercy.” Tell me about it.
I struggled to my feet. Didn’t even bother to dust off my robes, which I was pretty sure actually
had some blood on them at this point from my nose. What a day.

For the moment, I ignored Elspeth and took in my surroundings. I’d noticed the light was
brighter than I would’ve expected when I woke up, and that was because I wasn’t in the forest
any more. In three directions, as far as the eye could see, there was rolling grass. Also
known as absolutely nothing. Behind me, maybe fifty yards away, was the forest. I’d apparently
been dragged out of there, probably by the same guy that had smashed my face in. Several guys
who looked just like him were standing around me and Elspeth in a rough circle, probably just
waiting for me to make a move. There were five of them, which didn’t bode well for me. It meant
Elspeth had had all the time she needed to prepare her defenses. If it came to blows, I wouldn’t
even be able to scratch these guys.

“Indeed. You are free to pick a fight, but it will not go well for you,” said Elspeth,
satisfied that I had come to the desired conclusion.

“Don’t suppose you’d be willing to spirit me back to my office?”

“Not at the moment, Robert. We have things to discuss. You will not leave until I will it.”
The soldiers came in closer to me. I was starting to get tired of being pushed around by
planeswalkers who just wanted to “talk.” But I still had no idea where I was, and Elspeth
was my best chance of getting back to the city in a reasonable amount of time, so I figured
I might as well play along. Her crew of unstoppable footmen might have had something to do
with the decision, too.

“Of course we’ve got things to discuss. You could’ve just come to my office for this.
Oh, right, detestable human being. Fine. What do you want from me, Elspeth?”

“Liliana Vess and Chandra Nalaar are planning something together,” she said. “Chandra
recently engaged your services, did she not?” I wondered if every planeswalker just had
my office bugged. Or maybe she was working with Garruk?

“Yeah, she did. Didn’t have anything to do with Liliana Vess, though. Like I told Garruk,
I haven’t seen her in months.” No surprise from her that Garruk was on the same trail. The
idea that they were working together was looking pretty good.

“It is possible she knows more than she is telling you.” Spoken like a true industry veteran.
“I do not know what they are planning, but whatever it is, it must be stopped.”

“So… you want to hire me to find out what it is they’re up to?”

“No. I want you to swear an oath not to complete the work Chandra Nalaar hired you to do.
I will not ask you to divulge her secrets, but I must assume that your failure to complete
the task will stymie their plot together.”

“Oh, is that all? Yeah, sure, that’s fine. I swear on whatever it is you consider holy
that I will not finish the job Chandra hired me for.”

She hadn’t been expecting me to agree that easily. “Oh. Well, then… excellent. I am
glad we came to an agreement.” Being white, she immediately accepted the oath at face value,
because who would ever break an oath like that? Of course, I had no intention of honoring
it. I’m a black wizard. We do anything to win.

“So, Elspeth,” I said, figuring I should get while the getting was good, “since I agreed
to your request, you think you could do me a favor in return? I don’t know where I am.
If you could ‘walk us to the headquarters of the Wizards of the Coast, that’d be swell.”

Elspeth grimaced. I clearly wasn’t exactly on her good side. But the scales were
tipped in my favor, as far as she was concerned. “Very well,” she said. “And then we will
be even.” She closed her eyes, raised a hand, concentrated, and a wave of nausea caught me
as we appeared in front of the building housing the Wizards’ lair. I somehow managed to keep
the nothing I’d eaten down.

“Hey, thanks a lot, Elspeth,” I said after taking a moment to compose myself. “You really
helped me out.” But I still hadn’t forgotten about the broken nose. “That reminds me, how’d
that thing with Nicol Bolas go?” She frowned. “I’m just saying, he’s a pretty powerful dude.
I’m glad to see you made it out in one piece.”

She glared at me. “I didn’t duel Bolas. You are thinking of Ajani Goldmane.”

“Oh, right, that was him, wasn’t it? Sorry about that. How about the fight
against the Eldrazi? That was on Zendikar, wasn’t it? How are they holding up?
Have you been back?”

She gritted her teeth. “That,” she hissed, “was Gideon Jura.”

“Oh. Oh! That’s right, I’m so sorry,” I drawled. “I guess you
white planeswalkers just all look the same to me.”

Elspeth’s eyes flashed, and her hand went to her sword. I’d anticipated that, and I
was ready with my power. I closed my eyes, reached deep into myself, and revealed
Elspeth’s deepest, darkest secret.

It was a really, really big wurm.

Elspeth shrieked in agony and dropped to the ground, just like Garruk had. “Wait, so
you and Garruk, huh? Is that some kind of euphemism, or is it really… you know what,
you’re busy, I’ll just go.” I turned towards the entrance to the Wizards’ building,
and came face-to-face with a very unhappy, very unharmable soldier. And his four pals.

“Oh right,” I said. “Forgot about you guys.”

They’d only barely started beating the hell out of me when the first one thudded to
the ground. The rest of them followed suit, one by one. I uncurled from the fetal position
so I could see what was happening. They were snoring. I was just thinking it must be my
lucky day when my eyelids started getting heavy, too. It had been a really rough day.
I just needed a quick rest… Then I heard a voice.

“Don’t worry, bro. I got you covered. We’ll have you out of there in no time.” Oh, no.
Not him. Anyone but…

I felt my stomach flip-flop as I drifted off to sleep. Everything went black.

Will Bob wake up from his mysterious sleep? Whose voice did he hear right before
drifting off? And seriously, are we ever going to find out about Hans? Find out in Part
4 of Dark Confidant in the Case of the Missing Minus, coming next week!