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The one with the Black Rose Mansion

A soft wind blew over the small terras where Emine and Yanika were sitting, bringing with it the smells of freshly baked bread and pastries. Yanika had picked the spot especially for the view it gave of the city below. She offered a soft smile to the woman sitting next to her. So far in the date, Yanika had done most of the talking, sharing the adventures she had been having with her small group, and Emine had been listening attentively, while sipping wine and tasting the delicious food.

“So after we had freed the prisoners from the Black Maze and reported to the giants, we decided to finally have a look at the mansion with the black roses. Entering the building was rather easy, and it looked long abandoned, as in, it had been professionally emptied and cleaned and prepared for a long absence of inhabitants. We found no personal possessions anymore and could explore the entire mansion, except for the cellar, which was locked. The cellar itself was mostly empty too, except for one door which was trapped. I disabled the trap with the aid of Spade, but we failed to notice a second trap behind the door, which was triggered by Majid. This made Spade investigate the entire hallway, finding out that it was completely boobytrapped. We managed to get past all of it, and into a round chamber very much resembling the dancehall. Inside the room was a teleportation circle, guarded by two bronze scouts. This time we managed to destroy them easily.”

Emine looked at Yanika in amazement, both for the story she was telling, and for the fact that the ginger girl seemed to be an unending waterfall of words once she started telling her story. But she didn’t mind that one bit, Emine didn’t really want to talk too much about her own work and she loved listening to the overly enthusiastic artificer. “So what happened after that?”. She asked softly, encouraging Yanika to continue. Yanika smiled and blushed, her cheeks turning slightly red at the encouragement. “Well, there was another hallway leading away from it, which led to a small living area, guarded by a metal snake, which we later identified as an Iron Cobra. We killed the Cobra rather easily, and then looked through the room, hopeful to find some clues. We found some papers, and a bunch of books about artificing!”. Yanika’s eyes lit up in excitement as she mentioned the veritable treasure of high end artificer books they had discovered. All of them were far outside of her expertise still, but she had taken all of them with her to study later on. “Among the papers we found the same drawing of the elven woman we had also found in Estar’s lab. But this time we also had a name for her, Safina. It was packed together with a half burnt letter to this Safina, which confirmed that this person had been in love with Safina, just like Estar. It was also written in the same handwriting as the letter that had been sent in Maerissa’s name. I personally believe that this person is Nathan, which most of the others agreed with.”.

She took a deep breath and picked up her cup of wine to take a sip and moisten her throat. Yanika took the time to study Emine’s face over the rim of her glass, again amazed at the beauty of the woman’s face, even though her expression was usually a stern one. “The rest of the cellar was empty, except it has an entrance to the sewers, and a place where you can climb up into the garden. Spade climbed up to take a look around, but instantly got attacked and eaten by a shambling mound, basically a big walking bush.”. She added as means of explanation, not sure if Emine knew about these obscure creatures, especially as they are not so common in cities. “We climbed out after him and killed the creature so we could save our friend. It was a bit of a harder fight, but in the end we managed to get him out alive.”

“After we left the mansion, we went back to my place so we could have a talk with Estar about the information we had found regarding the elven woman. He confirmed that both he and Nathan had been in love with Safina. We asked if he knew Nathan was nobility, as we suspected that the mansion in hillside Rise was his, but Estar told us that while Nathan and his family were nobility from somewhere in the east, the mansion actually belonged to Safina, whose family was not nobility, but they did use a rose as a crest.” Yanika stretched a bit and fell silent for a moment as she gathered her thoughts. All the information they had found had pointed at Nathan, but not really at a reason why he was doing all of this. Their original thought that it had something to do with Estar had been proven uncertain. It rather seemed that Estar was just a convenient pawn in the game being played. Emine reached out and brushed her fingers gently over the back of Yanika’s hand, before intertwining their fingers. This brought Yanika back out of her reverie and she blushed and giggled. “Sorry, I got a bit lost in thought there.” She said apologetically, then thought for a moment where she had left off with her story before continuing. “After the talk with Estar, we went back to the guildhall to discuss what our next step would be, as we ran out of ideas. Between having a stake out at the cemetery and looking through the books to get a clue on how to deal with the Black Maze, there was not much we could think of.”

Yanika turned more to Emine, gently holding the older woman’s hand and smiling like a teenager with a crush. She bit her bottom lip softly. “I’m afraid that is all the story I have for now though.” She said sheepishly, not quite sure how to continue. Emine laughed softly and smiled at her. She let go of her hand and put her arm around Yanika’s shoulders, pulling her closer so the young girl could rest against her shoulder. “Then let us just enjoy the rest of our food and wine, and each other's presence shall we?.

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