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Elminster Speaks - Part 47
By Ed Greenwood
Doings in Delzimmer, Part 6
My last look at Delzimmer -- for now -- will conclude with a summation of the current rumors in the city concerning the citizen Antholo Kraul. Hitherto ignored by most Delzmaer and all the rest of Faerûn, he's shot to prominence very recently for an unexpected reason.
This state of affairs makes Kraul a useful member of the Delzmaer mercantile scene, but no man of influence or public importance. What has brought him rapt recent attention is his death -- or rather, his deaths.
Some months back, Kraul was messily and bloodily killed in Paroind Street when one of the notorious building collapses occurred -- and most of the west front of a three-story, balconied house fell on him and several other passersby. His body was crushed, but not his head, and some acquaintances he'd been walking and talking with survived the tragedy, so there was no doubt of his identity or his passing.
Such is the daily work of deities -- but what they or some fell mortal magic do far less often was what followed: Kraul was burned on a temple pyre in the usual Delzmaer manner -- only to reappear, hale and whole, at his shop some days later. This caused a stir (especially among three lady cousins, who'd arrived at his shop and home to squabble over the division of his goods), but most folk assumed some mistake had been made in Paroind Street and Kraul had been elsewhere on business, perhaps buying maps from temporary halfling encampments south of Delzimmer (a notorious source of shady wares).
Business resumed at Antholo's All the Realms, and continued in the normal manner for a tenday -- whereupon Kraul was slain a second time by knife-wielding thieves rushing down Lhavarild Street to escape from a robbery gone bad at Istryn's Silks. His cousins identified him before a kala this time -- but despite another pyre and a nagra sent to witness his bones blackening on it, Antholo Kraul reappeared at his shop three days later. He was slain that same night, at the hands of Srandro Chree, a killer-for-coins (presumed to have been hired by one of Kraul's cousins), but was seen again the next evening drinking at the Reaching Hand tavern.
His drinking companions there were the usual small circle of Riuntle Street merchants of middling fortunes who -- though they'd all heard of Kraul's deaths by then, and were both curious and alert for an impostor -- all agree that they spoke to the man himself, and that he seemed quieter than usual, a little sad, and dismissive of queries concerning his passings.
Thereafter closely watched by the nagra under orders from three puzzled kala (who even hired a traveling wizard to make sure that the Antholo Kraul they were now looking at wasn't something else wearing Kraul's shape), the merchant survived being nearly run over by a racing cart (the nagra have their suspicions as to the cousins' involvement with its driver, but can prove nothing) and being felled by a drunken outlander in a tavern brawl -- but died again seven days later when a large urn of slael-fall flowers toppled "accidentally" from his own balcony when he returned home. A watching nagra arrested a cousin seen leaving the balcony, and confirmed Kraul's death. Kala ordered the body brought to a nagra house rather than to a temple pyre. It rotted for some days, but then -- in the presence of several nagra -- Kraul's remains simply faded away. Neighbors report that the bloodstain before his doors slowly vanished at about the same time -- and some four days later, Antholo Kraul was seen again walking up the street in the morning to open his shop, as he always does.
Thus far, nagra have failed to get any clear answers from the man as to what's going on, and the kala are said to be hotly debating how far their powers run. Some among them say they should be seeking to hire an archmage to determine if Delzimmer stands endangered by whatever is bringing Kraul repeatedly back to life.
Many Delzmaer are more afraid of the inevitable group of Red Wizards and other beings of power who will probably soon descend on Delzimmer to try to seize the raising magic that rides Antholo Kraul and take it for their own. Who knows who they'll slay -- or magically transform and enslave, as crawling worms or worse -- in the process?
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