Dlavizz, High Priest of Vhaeraun, whirled on the assassin, his eyes cold, his voice a fury of seething anger. “Your pawns were behind the attack, as by now you know!” The priest came within a foot of the assassin’s frozen form, his fist clenched in a tight ball. Nilan could see the man’s knuckles turn a dusky shade of gray, but stoically held his position in respect, not daring to speak, and ready to accept the backhand he was sure to receive. “Do you not understand what this has cost us, Hand of Vhaeraun? Do you not comprehend what is at stake?”
“Our peop…,” was all the assassin managed to say before Dlavizz roared in anger, slamming both fists down upon the black altar shaking the very foundation. Nilan immediately lowered his gaze.
“Our very city is at stake, Velg’larn. If the Lady Tsakchanar learns of your role in this we shall all be in danger.” Dlavizz glared coldly at the Hand of Vhaeraun. “Regardless of the results of the battle with Auzorm’tvorl.”
Nilan grimaced. He had heard the rumors, the accusations centering of the attack on the Silver dragon. He closed his eyes as some flitted through his mind. “What have you done Nilan, they blame you for this attack….”
Nilan cursed inwardly, the ranger had gone too far this time. At first, the drow held the reins of control tightly in his finger tips. But then….something changed. Something had tipped the delicate scales in the ever intriguing balance of power. Ayra, Teflor’s new founded tart, had entered the picture. Reports barely trickled in and the assassin new something was not right. Though he didn’t want to admit it, he was slowly losing control. The assassin grimaced as he recalled a recent conversation with the ranger just after he learned about the attack on the Silver. “I hold the chain of the dragon’s now, drow. The terms of the deal shall be fulfilled, else I think you know what fate your people face….”
“Velg’larn!!!” boomed the angered voice of the High Priest, causing the assassin to tear himself away from his troubled thoughts. “Which one revealed the location of Lady Tsakchanar’s lair!”
Nilan narrowed his eyes coldly. “The ranger, revealed its location, My Lord. He confessed it to me himself. He sa…”
“Tell me why you have need to interrogate your own tools, Hand?” Dlavizz whispered cruelly, “Have you lost control?”
Nilan gazed into Dlavizz’s eyes. In truth, yes…yes he had, and he knew it. The tables had turned on him, and now the Silver was maimed or dead, and his people were now a bargaining chip in what he now saw as the ranger’s new power game. “What are you up too, Teflor?” Nilan asked himself in silence.
Nilan gazed up at the High Priest, nodding in respect before continuing. “Teflor revealed the lair of the Silver, along with two other dragon lairs, My Lord. As well as the location of the one called, Lintral, and key locations of allied commanders within the walls of Waterdeep.”
The High Priest turned to face the assassin, a cold dark look in his eye as he spoke. “What two lairs, Velg’larn? What other locations did your tool speak about?”
Nilan hesitated for a brief second trying to recall the exact locations. But it was only a brief second before Dlavizz roared in anger. “I must know! Where did your tool claim dragon’s were lairing, aside from the one that was completely destroyed? Do you not understand that the dragons are considering allowing Auzorm’tvorl to decimate these realms!”
Nilan nodded. Of all things he did indeed understand that. “Teflor revealed the locations of a lair in the sands of the desert in the south and a lair in the icy northlands.” Nilan bowed low as he approached Vhaeraun’s altar. He gazed into the eyes of the High Priest, placed his right hand on Shadow’s hilt and asked without emotion, “What is it you want me to do, My Lord?”
“The traitors must die. Our very city is now at stake, Velg’larn. The most important thing for you to understand, if you wish to handle spies, is that their failure is your failure. Kill them, deliver them, that we may prove to the dragons that you had no involvement in this.” Dlavizz held the assassin’s cold stare. “Kill the missionary and those close to him.”
Nilan bowed low arms crossed, “It shall be done. In Vhaeraun’s name My Lord, it shall be done.”
Dlavizz came to stand before the assassin once more, a chilling grin crept across his face as he glared at the drow. “They will be offered to the Lady Tsakchanar, along with a significant portion of my resources, in the hopes that they do not turn away from us. This time I shall buy your forgiveness, Velg’larn.” Dlavizz snickered and Nilan held his gaze with out flinching as the High Priest continued. “Bring me your first-born in repayment.”
Nilan stepped back, the words cut into what was left of his dark heart. Numair, Asrar, his twins. “What do you want with my children, My Lord, they are not part of this.”
Dlavizz glared in fury, “You did not watch closely enough. I must give most of my resources to pay for your tool’s error. Now bring your son or daughter to me. If you earn my good graces I shall inform you of their fate.” Dlavizz sneered and called upon the shadows to surround him. The High Priest disappeared, leaving Nilan to ponder his next moves.
Nilan paced uncomfortably out the gates of Dobluth Kyor. It had been four moons since he had left Dlavizz in Vhaeraun’s Temple. Whispers of betrayal and treachery loomed thick in the air. His sources had reported that both Teflor and Ayra had gained audience with the Teej, the surface allied commander. And still the ranger’s words kept pounding in the back of his head. “I hold the chain to the dragon’s, I think you realize what would happen to your lands and people, drow. You will hold to your part of the bargain….” Nilan groaned shaking the thought free of his addled mind. And still Teej had refused to meet with him. Doubts grew and Nilan struggled to maintain what little control he had.
The Warlord Targsk, seemed to watch him in amusement as he paced. Occassionally the troll groaned, in what Nilan couldn’t tell was either a laugh or a gesture of growing concern. Finally the warrior spoke. “Velg’larn worry to much. Should worry bout battle ahead. Much plan we make. Great victory we have.”
“Take me to her Targsk. Take me to Teej, I must speak with her once and for all on this matter.”
Targsk crinkled up his great forehead. “Teej say she like drow’s head on pike.”
Nilan only nodded. Dlavizz was right. His tool’s failures were his failures. Only this failure was getting worse by the second. And his people were becoming a bargaining chip. “Take me to her, Targsk,” was all he said.
The walk through undermountain had been virtually uneventful. Nilan wondered what he’d say to the warrior woman when he came upon her. He expected nothing. The surface owed him nothing, and she was of the surface. Still the drow had come to respect the woman he had helped endorse. The drow shook his head, whatever happened here he was determined to face it. For if his people and lands were laid to ruin then none of any of this would have been worth it. And Nilan wasn’t about to let that happen. The drow nodded at Targsk, steeling himself before rounding the cavern wall to stand before Teej, Lady Knight of Shar.
Nilan stepped into the room and gazed at Teej, he let his weapons hang bound in the scabbards at his wait. “Warrior woman,” he bowed arms crossed.
Teej stared at the drow and scoffed. “Oh for gods sake, pull out your weapons drow, there are tvorlite enemies everywhere.”
Nilan gazed and managed a smile through his confusion, but nonetheless drew his blades. The knight gazed hard at him. For what seemed an hour they talked. At times voices rose in anger but the conversation always returned to a controlled banter. Nilan told the allied commander of what had happened, of how he had given the ranger a way inside, of how things began to go wrong, of how he lost contact, and of how the ranger had revealed allied secrets to the missionary priest.
“You lost control, assassin! None of this would have ever happened had you not placed Teflor there in the first place. You are responsible, drow. The dragon’s are essential to the war, and now look what has happened.” Teej spoked coldly but always in control. A trait the assassin found frustrating but held respect for at the same time. The woman knew how to command.
It was Targsk that spoke next. “Traitor use Velg’larn’s people as pawn in game if he not do as told.”
“You never came forward to the allies with this information drow. When your spy turned, why did you not come forward?” Teej demanded.
“I tried,” the drow stated. “When I had heard the Silver was a target I tried to warn. The moonweaver Lirela knows of this. We both tried, we...,” Nilan turned away uncertain what more he needed to say.
“The alliance must hold, drow. If your allegiance lies with it, then go to Tocx’enth’orix, explain what has occurred. Perhaps she will kill you if she is not satisfied. Do this Nilan!”
Nilan gazed at the warrior woman. “That dragon will tear me apart, Teej. But you already know this don’t you?” the assassin growled. “If she learns of my involvement, my people, my lands are forfeit.”
“The alliance matters, assassin. Do this. Go to the dragon, now. It must be done, Nilan.”
Nilan gazed into the woman’s eyes. Still they held cold contained fury. But they held something else too. The assassin couldn’t begin to describe. “If I stand before that dragon, without the bodies of the traitors or that priest, I will die. She will tear me to pieces.”
Teej glanced at the drow. For what seemed like minutes the two held each other’s gaze. Finally, it was Teej that spoke. “I will go to Tocx’enth’orix first, then. I shall explain to her what you have told me. Then I will send her to you. Go to the devastated Silver’s lair. Await her there, drow.”
“Fine, I will go. I will probably die. I do not expect your words will matter, Warrior Woman.” Nilan growled coldly. “Send your dragon, know that I am not afraid.” Nilan swallowed hard. In truth the drow was terrified. In his heart he knew the warrior woman would not speak for him. Why should she. Forgiveness. Nilan cursed the word. Even his wife, Elisten couldn’t grant him that when he stabbed her Queen. In all his centuries of life the drow had attained forgiveness only once. And that was in the arms of his lover and abbil, Deshana. The one he had loved and perhaps the one he had hurt the most. But now. No, Nilan was certain that the word did not exist. He turned to face the woman and bowed low. Stoically he began to exit the cavern but it was Teej’s voice that stopped him.
“You must be sorry you endorsed me now, aren’t you, assassin?”
Nilan turned to look at her as he answered. His voice was lacked emotion. “No…no, warrior woman, even now I do not regret my endorsement of you.” With that, the assassin stalked into the depth of under mountain and headed back to Dobluth Kyor before he made his trek toward the Silver’s lair and what death he was certain awaited him.
Nilan knelt at Vhaeraun’s altar. His eyes closed in meditation. His hand clenched tightly around Shadow’s hilt in an effort to gain strength. Softly he whispered. “Vhaeraun, belbau uns'aa l' khalith nindol tangi ulu ditronw l' xussten Usstan inbal xunor. Ka a ussta dro xor streea l' abbanid zhah morfel gordo 'sohna, t'yin ji tlu ol. Usstan luthtar xun vel'bol z'klaen tlu xunor, wun dosst quarth.”
The assassin touched his black mask and slowly rose to his feet. He touched the altar as he walked past it. “Vhaeraun, kyorl ussta quortek,” was all he said as he stalked from the temple and headed for his meeting with Tocx’enth’orix.
Nilan waited in the lair for what seemed an eternity. The smell of the bloated corpses assaulted his nostrils only added to the feeling of death that gripped his heart. Still the assassin remained, patiently waiting, pacing nervously trying to force his breathing to regulate. Whatever his fate, he assumed he’d die quickly. His armor and weapons left him little protection against the acid breath of a black dragon. Determined to accept his fate, and his responsibility, the assassin knelt in the clearing and waited.
A huge dark shadow appeared over head blocking out all light and plunging the area in a gloomy darkness. The darkness intensified as Nilan heard the great dragon’s wing buffet in what the assassin assumed was a landing. Nilan staggered in his kneeling position, his hands thrown out before him in an effort not to go sprawling altogether. The assassin dared not gaze up, but instead let all weapons drop to the ground before him. Head bowed low he waited.
Tocx’enth’orix, landed all around him. The assassin saw he was between huge claws on either side. Great wings seemed to almost drape over him. Nilan swallowed hard, fear building within him, yet he held perfectly still, he willed his breathing to quiet.
“Forgive me, great Lady, for the loss of the Silver. I…,” he hestitated.
“Who is responsible for this,” Tocx’enth’orix demanded. Its voice shaking the very ground Nilan knelt upon.
Nilan dared to raise his eyes before he spoke. “I…I am responsible, My Lady. I…I am … sorry. I am before you to accept what responsibility you desire in payment for what has happened. This would not have happened had I not placed the ranger in a position where your secrets could have been compromised.” Nilan lowered his gaze once again accepting his fate.
“The lady knight has explained your involvement, dark one. These are dire times. Bring to me the traitors and this priest.” Tocx’enth’orix fingered a huge talon into the ground inches from Nilan’s form.
Nilan looked up but remained kneeling before the majestic creature. Acid dripped from its huge maw sizzling the ground. “Your flesh is soft, dark one. It would rupture easily at my touch. Bring me these traitors and see that no harm comes to any of my dragonkin. Fail and your lands and the lands of your abbil will know utter destruction.”
Nilan gazed into the great creature’s eyes and nodded. “It shall be done.”
With that the great black buffeted its wings twice, sending the drow sprawling before it took to the sky. Nilan dared to glance as it disappeared into the sky above him. Slowly he rose to his feet and left the destroyed clearing. Not once did he look back.
It was a word the drow only knew one time before in his long life. But it was a word he had come to know not once but twice this day.
First, at Teej’s hand. He had doubted her words to him. She owed him nothing, yet it was clearly evident she had spoken on his behalf. And at no doubt great risk to herself. Nilan would not soon forget. His respect for the woman held firm. She was a credit to her order and to the allied forces. He owed her so much more than thanks.
Second, Tocx’enth’orix. The great dragon had given him forgiveness as well as his life. No longer were his people held by the ranger’s chain in a game of bargaining chips. No, no longer. The priest would die, the deal would be completed, and there would be no further games played.
The drow had indeed attained…..
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