Deshana found herself at home in the dark forest of Mir. Nilan worried his people would object to the grey elf wandering free, yet most accepted her presence. Some even warily welcomed her, for the forest itself became safer in her presence, as it welcomed the silver haired druid. Many nights passed, filled with tales and song, as the druid found time to return to interests that did not include saving the realms, nor tending the groves. In the dappled moonlight, Nilan would lay his head in her lap, and listen to her songs. Often she would unconciously choose a song reflecting her feelings, or the events of the past, from the time they had met. Nilan kissed her often, gentle and loving.
One nightfall found the drow flinching at her hug. Startled, she demanded to know the reason. Nilan's eyes were filled with pain, and recluctantly, he displayed the injuries. Deshana sucked in a breath and fought her rage. Beneath the assassins tunic was a mass of clumsy bandages. Beneath those, his back was covered in fresh welts, and the bites of a snake whip. Deshana carefully bathed the open wounds with clean water, then treated them wih the various herbs in her jars. She bit her lip at each painful groan her ministrations wrenched from Nilan's throat, hands gentle as she treated him. Her voice low, and intense, she caught his gaze. "Who did this to you?"
Nilan's muscles tensed under her hands. "Abbil, please, do not involve yourself." The drow knew her temper well, and felt her rage in the trembling of her hands as she treated him. "It was my own fault," he said, trying to convince her. "I didn't show proper respect." He felt more then heard the growl that rumbled in Deshana's chest. "Abbil, you must not go after her. Promise me."
The druid snorted, growling, "Who." Nilan met her eyes and groaned inwardly, she wasn't going to let this drop. "Promise me, Abbil, not to go after her." It took a while to convince her not to hunt his tormenter, but finally the promise was extracted. "Ilahna, a necromancer of Kiarasanlee disapproved of my manner." The assassin explained how he had refused to lower his eyes to the Ilharess in Vhaerauns city. He described her vicious lash, and her drive to cow him. Nilan also noted the enraged kiss the drow woman had forced on him. Deshana felt another surge of rage, and wondered at herself. Jealousy? She pushed the thought away, and finished dressing his wounds.
"If it happens again, the oath is void. I'll go after her." Nilan met her eyes and resolved to be sure that never happened. Deshana's arms would gentle as she cradled him, and as the night waned he fell asleep in her arms, still aware of the tension of her anger but content that he could keep her from acting on it.
The best of intentions can go awry, so to went his oath. Nilan was a proud and stubborn man, it went against the core of his being to allow himself, and his god to be slighted. Pride was dangerous. Some days had passed since he had extracted the druids promise. When next he saw Deshana, he kept a distance between them as they talked. He managed to hide himself well, until in a passing gesture of affection the druids fingers brushed over one gloved hand. Nilan fliched, yanking his hand away and protectivly holding it to his chest. Deshana frowned and looked more closely at him. Moving swiftly she circled the startled drow, looking him over with a healers eyes. "So. Show me." Knowing he'd been caught, Nilan reluctantly removed the glove from his badly swollen, punctured hand. He also revealed constriction marks on his neck, and more bites on his shoulders. Deshana sighed, looking saddened a moment.
Deshana reached into her bag, and expertly treated the new injuries, saying nothing for a long time. Finally she met his worried eyes. "My promise is void. I'm going after her." Nilan was traped for a moment by the dark fire burning in her gaze. For a moment he recalled Dranix in his madness, and the green fire that consumed him. "Abbil, if you go after her it will become worse for me." He pleaded with her, but found that she would not be turned. He dreaded the confrontation that would follow. If Deshana slew Ilahna, his kin would be outraged. And if Ilahna slew the druid... He winced from the thought, praying that good sense overtook the druid before anyone was killed.
Deshana considered his words, knowing there could be more trouble for him if she was not careful, and arrived at a compromise. The druid sent a formal letter to the drow woman, assumeing her guise as a priestess of Eilistraee, a stance she rarely used. The letter proclaimed similar business interests, and drew the Drows curiousity. Ilahna agreed to meet, chosing, ironically, the tree that had been Deshana's home during her exile.
The druid entered the meeting garbed in her elaborate priests robes. Her dress, and facade were very like the dignity and pride of a drow priestess. The mage arrived stealthily, invisible. To Deshana's amusement the drow also sought to impress, or intimidate. She sensed Ilahna's presence easily, and stifled a chuckle as the room was plunged into total darkness. When it lifted the mage stood visible before her. "You desired to see me, Cousin?" Contempt dripped like icy slime from the mages words.
'Nilan, Forgive me.' Deshana allowed no emotion to cross her face as she faced Nilans tormenter. The Ilharess was beautiful, poisonously so. On her hip she bore a snake whip that writhed and hissed, straining to get at the tender flesh of the grey elf who stood so calmly out of reach. Ilahna calmed the serpants with a touch, and glared hatefully at the druid. "You wanted to meet me. Why?" Deshana met the red gleaming eyes of the other woman and smiled a poisonous smile of her own.
"I had believed the honour of a Noble was above poaching another woman's property." The druids words were as icy as her stare. She spoke drow flawlessly, taking the mage aback. Perhaps I am wrong, and you are as ill bred as those slaves you attempt to rule." Deshana allowed a chilling smile to touch her lips. "Perhaps that is the reason you cannot command respect, mm Little mage?"
Ilahna worked her mouth as if attempting to speak, so great was her shock. Deshana wasn't going to loose the upper hand, and plowed right over her. "You've abused my toy. I am very displeased." Green eyes narrowed, fixed on the astounded Ilharess. "You're a smart child, I'm certain you realize the value of an.. aquaintance.." she paused as if seeking the words she wished. "A Surface contact, that is willing to trade favours?" Deshana leaned carelessly against the wall, watching the drows mind work furiously.
"Trying to protect your lover, surface bitch?" Ilahna spat the words, trying to regain the upper hand. This meeting was not going as planned. Deshana laughed at her words, causing more confusion. "What to you mean, Favours?" The ilharess looked uneasy, the snake whip lashing like a many tailed cat faced by a mastiff.
"Indeed. Favours. You leave my toy alone, and I aid your quest for undeath." Green fire glowed in the druids eyes. Ilahna was again taken aback. Now the druid was offering to aid her quest to become undead? Deshana crossed her arms and regarded Ilahna as one would a particularily noisome insect. "He is useful to me, though willful. If he is damaged, he is no use to anyone." Deshana paused as if in thought, then dove for the kill. "He wants to eliminate Lloth. He may even succeed. With Kiarasanlee waiting in the wings, do you honestly think his Vhaeraun has a chance?" A slender silver dagger flashed out from nowhere the drow could see, and the druid began cleaning her nails. "Then again, He does all the grunt work, and you and I profit."
Ilahna's mind worked furiously. Finally she bleated, "I cannot allow him to disrespect me!"
Deshana's chuckle was rich, throaty, and genuine. "If you feel you must command respect unearned, then use words as reprimand. No damage. Understand?" The drow nodded, flustered
"About these favours. What do you propose?" Ilahna grasped at a way to salvage her pride. The druid had risen to none of the bait, and now stood there calmly, as if the matter was of little importence. "What possible use could a.. a white rat, be to me?" Gleaming red eyes narrowed, but the druid showed no reaction beyond a lifted brow.
"No city is immune to my infiltration. I can go places you never can. My own ability to pass within the very walls of the drow city should provide evidence. And.. I know the way to undeath." Deshana controled the shudder that fought to overcome her, Arilin's shadow still haunted her. "My abilities will speed your own journey."
Ilahna reguarded the druid in renewed shock, then nodded, knowing the truth in the silver haired elfs words. Finally she agreed. Ilahna made to take her leave when Deshana arched an eyebrow and asked something unexpected.
"You carry a snake whip, weapon of Lloths priests, and are a mage. The whip has accepted you. I find this unusual. Will you tell me why?" Deshana knew what the whip meant, and its presence, and obediance to a mage roused her curiosity. Caught offguard, Ilahna explained the whip readily. Her house had been destroyed, and she had taken the whip in her own escape. It had accepted her perhaps because she was the last of her own blood. Satified the druid nodded, and showily, the drow darkened the room, made herself invisible and left.
Deshana sagged against the living wood of the walls, murmuring a prayer of thanks that the ordeal was over. She then gathered herself and flew towards Mir as swiftly as she could. So lost in her thoughts was she that she blundered into an enormous natural cave. Her eyes adjusted to the gloom swiftly just as the first sword slashed across her unprotected side. Red eyes gleamed all around her, and she heard one hiss in drow, "Trust no one!" Deshana scrambled to her feet, attempting to escape the attackers. Her vision dimmed and her side burned horribly as she scrambled deeper into the cave. She swore under her breath and shifted shape, bolting towards the entrance with all the swiftness of her small cat form. She scrambled up the twisting slope of the mountains, twisting, turning, doubling back until she was sure she'd lost the hunters in the night. Deshana dragged herself under a large shrub and cowered, licking her wounds. She would be unable to reach Mir this night. Closing her eyes, Deshana prayed that Ilahna would not prove treacherous, she prayed Nilan was safe.
She woke at nightfall, vision blurring and body shivering with more then cold. The cat hauled itself upright and returned to elven form, staggered. Deshana treated her wounds, and dosed herself with a potion to remove poison, then limped southwards, towards Mir. Finally reaching the dark forest, she found the assassin in a clearing, his dagger on the ground before him as he prayed.
Deshana watched, and noticed much as she observed Nilan from the trees. He was moving carefully, as if hurt. Much, she thought in a mix of amusment and irritation, as she was. She picked up more signs, and sighed, bringing Nilans head up, daggers swiftly in hands. "Well.. That was a short lived deal." Deshana stepped into the clearing and the tension left Nilans body. He looked at her in confusion.
"Deal, abbil?" Nilan sheathed his blades and waited for her to explain her words. "What deal?"
Another soft sigh escaped her. "I made the witch an offer. She leaves you alone, I help her find undeath where I can. But it looks to me as if you've been wounded since then. If not Ilahna, Who?" Nilan looked away, shoulders slumping.
"It was my fault.. She came to me while I was praying. She mocked Vhaeraun, claiming that Kiarasanlee would take control of the pantheon, not Vhaeraun. Then she claimed I was no more then a ... a pet.." Deshana listened as Nilan spoke, cursing herself for not getting there sooner. Finally the assassin looked her in the eyes, "Its not true, is it abbil? Please.. tell me it is not true."
His gaze looked haunted, she wrapped her arms around him, holding him gently against her. Deshana kissed him deeply, with all of her heart open to him, and the tension eased. "I played a game she would understand.. I gambled too, that you would see through the ruse, because you know my heart so well." She held Nilan as the night passed, punctuating her words with soft kisses, until he believed her love was real. From him, she heard the tale of how Ilahna had mocked him, claiming the druid had given her permission to punish her "toy" for disrespect. And how his refusal had earned more time with the lash. Finally he caught her hand against his heart. "Do not go after her for this. This was my own doing, no one elses." His eyes held hers as she went to protest, and she fell silent, nodding her agreement. The deal would stand.
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