Wind whistled through the trees in the forest of Mir directly north of the drow city of Dobluth Kyor. Nilan stalked onward, pulling his cloak tightly about his lean form, heading northward toward a sinister ruin. He moved gracefully, weaving through the thick brush and trees with as much ease as the wind itself. Muttering to himself, he hoped his contacts were at the agreed upon location. As he pressed further he made out tracks to indicate that the trio had indeed passed this way. Though most would have missed the signs entirely, Nilan’s keen eyes took note of the turned over leaves and the occasional kicked up stone. The assassin grinned as he entered the darkened ruin.
His hands gripped tightly over the blade and Nilan pulled it from its sheath. He could feel its power every time his fingers caressed the darkened hilt. “Shadow” hummed eerily, and the assassin sensed it too. Danger! It lurked in the form of a bone devil, the hideous demon things that inhabited the cursed grove. Nilan spat, approaching the foul creature from behind. The demon sensed nothing until the tip of the sentient blade protruded from the front of its chest. Thrashing, it attempted to turn on its attacker. Nilan tore the blade free allowing the demon to complete its spin, only to impale itself upon the darkened steel of his cursed banite stiletto. “Shadow” vibrated in his hand, as if it was angered that it had not been the blade to pierce the creature’s heart. The desire was quickly satisfied when the assassin, plunged the divine blade into the dying demon’s belly. Nilan watched, eyes holding little emotion, as the creature slid from the dagger and crumpled on the ground at his feet. Stepping over the bloodied corpse, he sheathed both weapons and continued onward.
Moments passed as the assassin neared the meeting ground. He thought back to the words his High Priest had spoken. Absently his hand fell over his heart. He grimaced upon feeling the burnt flesh that had become the brand that the Lloth priestess, Itasha, had inflicted upon him. Touched by Lloth, the mark infuriated the Vhaeraunite. Anger had turned to hatred and hatred had turned to … .
Nilan shook his head free of the disturbing thoughts, his hand clenched into a fist and dropped to his side. Dlavizz had given him instructions of what must be done so that Lloth could no longer sense his presence. A ritual would be performed so that his soul would be forever hidden from the Spider Queen, thus enabling him to walk freely within the city of Dobluth Kyor, to worship in the temple without disguising himself, and to conduct his business upon the surface without the prying eyes of the SpiderQueen. Nilan would do anything to see that Dlavizz got what he needed to perform the ritual, even if it meant taking a life. But this life was one in which the Vhaeraunite looked forward to taking. The dark ritual required the soul of a Llothite traitor, and the assassin had three possible suspects. The only task left was to ferret out the spy and eliminate him. But how to accomplish such was a tricky task indeed, for no spy would consciously reveal himself. Even more problematic was the fact that these three suspects were affiliated with House Zauviir and to eliminate the wrong one, or to have his identity as the assassin discovered, would in all likelihood result in warfare between House Zauviir and his patron house, House Rilynt’tar. Nilan hoped these contacts he came to meet would provide him with the means he needed to complete his task. Smiling, the assassin stalked towards a hidden alcove. Botef Arken’viir was there to greet him.
“Hand of Vhaeraun,” the elder Arken’viir said with a quick bow. He was casually dressed in some long flowing red robes and a gnarled staff, his silver hair draping over his broad shoulders. The necromancer was flanked by two others, whom Nilan knew as Tibek and Ezwar.
Nilan scanned the area before proceeding closer. His eyes slowly took in the ruined landscape.
“I can assure you we are free from unwanted visitors,” came the soft voice of Ezwar Arken’viir. “The spells I have placed for protection should be sufficient.”
Nilan only nodded and stepped toward the trio, bowing low arms crossed as was his customary greeting. Tibek nodded and stepped to the side allowing the assassin to enter the center of the shadowed alcove.
“What does Vhaeraun’s Hand want with House Arken’viir,” Botef pointedly asked. Tibek moved silently to the rear of the alcove eyeing the assassin with cold indifference. Nilan slowly walked the length of the cavern before turning to face the three drow.
“We have worked considerably well together on occasion,” the assassin stated, his voice barely above a whisper. “Our last mission to the duergar city of Gloomhaven, proved somewhat successful albeit incomplete.” Nilan eyed the trio. He could tell from their expressions that they appeared intrigued. “It would seem that we have a menzoberranzan spy among Hazhav’s contingent.”
It was Tibek that spoke first. “One of the three guards in Hazhav’s caravan?” he asked, pausing briefly before speaking, “What were their names again?”
“Becag, but he is dead,” answered Ezwar. “The only two remaining are Zusag and Geddtah, if my memory serves me correctly.”
“Indeed,” whispered Nilan. “And it would seem that they will be part of a caravan that Hazhav will be bringing northward toward Balder’s Gate.”
“How does that involve us?” came a rather pointed reply from the corner of the alcove. Nilan turned to regard Tibek, who took a few steps forward towards where his older brother, Botef was standing.
“We will also be a part of that caravan,” the assassin stated. “We shall have from the time the caravan leaves our city, until the region of Balder’s Gate to ferret out this Llothite spy. That is the job I desire you to undertake.” Nilan paused letting his request sink in. He waited calmly, arms folded neatly across his chest as he heard the faint muttering of the Arken’viirs amongst themselves as they considered his request.
Botef stepped forward, coming face to face with the Vhaeraunite. Nilan met his gaze and the two stood in silence as several uncomfortably seconds passed. Botef leaned heavily on his staff, his eyes glassed over as he stood there thinking. “What is in it for House Arken’viir? What do we stand to gain from helping you?” Botef inquired.
Nilan merely shrugged, “What is it you desire, Arken’viir?”
Botef paused, he gazed at both Ezwar and Tibek who nodded knowingly before turning his attention back to the Vhaeraunite. “Your blade. Eliminate a rival for us, so that we might reclaim that which is rightfully ours, House Arken’viir. Will you do that for us, assassin?”
Nilan pondered over the request. “So long as Vhaeraun is first served, consider the man dead.” Nilan replied stoically as he absently ran his ebon fingers over ‘Shadow’s’ hilt.
“Of course,” Botef replied, “We would not ask you to do anything that is contrary to your faith or His wishes, assassin.” Botef snickered softly, a sinister grin stretching across his face. Nilan only nodded, bowing low. The elder Arken’viir smiled and tossed a glance to both Ezwar and Tibek who were watching the exchange with interest.
It was Nilan that spoke next, but only after encircling the trio, stopping to once again stand before the necromancer. “So are you able to carry out my request, or shall I find someone else more suited to the task?”
“You have a deal, assassin,” Botef answered, grinning. “Now to decide how we shall ferret out this traitor.” The necromancer, pondered in silence as both Ezwar and Tibek considered the arrangement.
“I have an idea on that subject,” Nilan added with a sly grin. “You three will pose as mercenaries and hire on to this caravan. You will engage these two agents of Hazhav in conversation regarding merchant goods. Pick something only found in menzoberranzan. Perhaps that will get the traitor to reveal himself and his origins. If he does, we shall have our man.”
Ezwar grinned, “I like it.” He then turned to Botef, “We can certainly pull that off don’t you think?”
Botef nodded “Our contacts should be able to assist us there.”
Nilan watched as the Arken’viirs discussed preparations for pulling their little ruse off. He listened carefully as they spoke about the shops and merchants within the Llothite city. Smiling, the assassin smirked as the three made their plans.
Finally it was Botef that turned toward him. “What about you, Hand of Vhaeraun? What is your role in this?” Ezwar and Tibek both ceased speaking and turned to face the assassin.
“Obviously, I will not be going as myself,” Nilan retorted somewhat sarcastically. “No llothite spy would reveal himself in my presence.” Nilan paused briefly before continuing, “No, I will go as Rizzin, a rather unimportant scout. You will be the ones to engage the two agents, Zusag and Geddtah, in conversation. Once you have ferreted out which one is the spy you will signal me as to who it is. Then I shall take this person off on a scouting run. You will proceed with the caravan, ensuring that it reaches its destination, understood?”
“And the spy,” Botef asked, “You plan to eliminate him?”
“The spy is my concern,” Nilan responded. “But, yes, he must die by my hand and no other. And it is imperative that your skills are such that you ferret out the right one. I am risking much by involving you in this, but you seem more than able to handle this task.”
“Why not kill them both, so we are certain the traitor is eliminated,” came the voice of Tibek.
Nilan turned and growled, “Only the traitor must die in a manner that I must undertake. Only one must die this way, and it is your job to ferret the right one out. If I was able to just assassinate all of them, I would have little use for involving House Arken’viir, now, wouldn’t I?
Tibek glowered, his intense eyes glared at the assassin. Whatever the young rogue was thinking was quickly dismissed as Botef chuckled lightening the tense mood. “Once the spy has been discovered, I shall give you this signal. If I tie my left boot, the traitor is Zusag, if I tie my right boot, it is Geddtah.”
Ezwar grinned and gazed at Nilan. “Sounds simple enough” he said. The assassin smiled, nodding in approval.
“House Arken’viir can accomplish this for you, and in return you will, so long as it is not contrary to the god you serve, of course, eliminate a rival for us?” Botef added confidently.
“So long as Vhaeraun is fist served, consider it done,” came the whispered response.
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