Webs of Intrigue
The two men sat across from each other in a private room of the Three Lamps Massage House in the heart of Menzoberranzan. Nilan gazed around the room before leaning back in his comfortable chair, seemingly satisfied that there were no unwanted eavesdroppers. The drow across from the assassin chuckled, “This establishment is known for its….discretion, I assure you.”
The assassin smiled, “It pays to be cautious.”
Again the drow chuckled. “So, you came seeking me? Why? I have not seen you around this city much.”
“I am new to this city, but not new to its customs,” Nilan answered matter-of-factly. “I had heard you are a man of great vision,” the assassin continued pausing slightly at the self admiring smile that had begun to creep over the drow merchant’s face.
“Yes, yes you have heard right, but that still doesn’t answer my second question. Why?”
Nilan met the man’s gaze holding it intently with his own. “I have come in search of one.”
Several seconds passed, neither man diverting his eyes from the other. Finally it was the merchant that spoke next. “Perhaps, you can get for me what others have not.” Nilan felt the man’s cold gaze upon him, looking him over, perhaps even sizing him up. “By the looks of you and how you carry yourself, I surmise your skills are that of a darker trade, stealth and shadows are your allies, no?”
A smug grin crept across the assassins face. “You have my interest, sir. Tell me more of this….vision.”
“Good, very good,” came a pleased reply. Nilan merely nodded. “There is a temple just north of our city. It is known to me as ‘Amenth,’ the full name escapes me at the moment. It is a temple not dedicated to our Spider Queen, but instead it holds home to those that pay homage to the dead, or undead as the case may be. Anyway, deep within the halls there is rumored to be a library that contains rare and magical tomes. Perhaps you might retrieve what a skilled drow raiding party of this city can not.”
“You seek a book, then?” Nilan added, and then leaned back in his chair considering what he had heard. “I can retrieve it for you,” the assassin nodded before continuing, “Tell me about this book you seek.”
“The tome I seek is one inlaid with runes. It was left behind when the original inhabitants evacuated. It is rumored to remain within the library there still,” the merchant explained. “Bring it to me, and I foresee that there will be other ‘visions’ in our future. Perhaps, we might both seek to accomplish one great vision.”
Nilan grinned to match the one that had found its way onto the merchant’s face. Both men rose to their feet. “Consider the book yours then,” the assassin replied, bowing low. The merchant smiled and returned the bow before speaking. “We shall be in touch, then. ” Nilan nodded and confidently strode out of the Three Lamps Massage House.
By the third light from the gigantic rockpillar known as Narbondel used to mark days in Menzoberranzan, the assassin had made his way out of the city and into the wilds of the Dark Dominion. Nilan was careful to step aside, giving deference to any priestess that passed by him with her patrol. Hours passed and the assassin found himself alone on a darkened path that seemed as if it had been deserted for quite some time. Whispering a prayer to Vhaeraun, Nilan called upon the shadows and his god’s protection. Carefully he fastened the black mask about his face and pulled ‘Shadow’ from its hidden sheathe. Uttering a word, the assassin vanished from sight.
The closer he got to the entrance the eerier the sounds from with became. As silent as a shadow the Hand of Vhaeraun, made his way passed the gate guardians and into the halls of the temple known as Amenth’G’narr. Though cloaked in the protection of his god, Nilan felt a shiver run up his spine as several undead spirits flitted by him. Priestesses of Kiaransalee seemed to patrol the halls with zeal, but the assassin made his way past all of them without detection. None seemed to take notice of him, and Nilan pressed further and further within the haunted temple halls.
Seconds turned to minutes, and minutes to hours as Nilan slowly made his way deeper into the compound. Patience was one thing the assassin had come to know the importance of. Should he be seen now, would spell death, and Nilan pondered for the moment how instant that death would be. Forcing the gory images from his mind, Vhaeraun’s Hand came upon a darkened hallway. With his back against the cold stone wall, Nilan dared to get a look into the room around the corner. A wicked grin found its way on the assassin’s face as shelves and shelves of books lined all four walls. Silently, he entered the room.
Vhaeraun’s protections gave him greater insight to hidden forms, and Nilan was aware of two such beings in the library with him. Sighing, the assassin knew he was in for a long wait. He dare not attempt to locate the magical tome while the room was occupied. Mouthing a word to Vhaeraun, Nilan knelt in the far corner. Patiently, the assassin kept a silent vigil, ‘Shadow’ held tightly in his right hand.
Finally after what seemed like hours, the beings disappeared. Nilan scanned the room and once satisfied he was alone the assassin began his search for the magical tome. In the corner of the room, furthest from the entrance, Nilan’s long fingers lightly ran over a book inlaid with runes. The drow sheathed ‘Shadow’ and grabbed the book with both hands pulling it from the shelf. Though not schooled in the magical arts, the assassin sensed the power that was contained within the ancient pages. Fighting the urge to open it, Nilan touched the runes once more before thrusting it into a hidden pouch as black as night. Nilan grinned, again calling upon the protections of his god before making his way through the guarded halls and outside the temple of Amenth’G’narr.
The assassin kept himself under a cloak of darkness as he made his way through the Dark Dominion. However instead of immediately returning to Menzoberranzan and his newly acquired merchant contact, Nilan had one more card to play. His contact would get his precious book of course, but only after the assassin gained the upper hand. The book would go the Vhaeraun’s city first, to be analyzed by the priests of his temple, before it would ever set foot in Menzoberranzan.
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