The drow sighed heavily leaning back against a moss covered boulder within a dark cavern in the Underdark. Although, the Vhaeraunite traveled the Underdark infrequently, except when on business, if he wanted a silent place to collect his thoughts there was no better spot. Dobluth Kyor was a busy city, and even the temple had its share of interruptions from acolytes and guards. But here, in this secluded damp cave devoid of life, Nilan found the silence his mind desperately needed. The assassin touched his black mask and whispered a prayer to Vhaeraun. Closing his eyes, he tried to quash his anger and meditate on the past days events.
His contact had informed him of an attack upon his kin at the Vhaeraunite outpost of A’Quarthus Velg’larn. According to his sources, it was revealed that the attempt to poison the drow was done at the request of the Lady of Ashstone. That fact did not shock the drow, for his own dealings with the Lady proved to him that she was so much more than she let on. Nilan had seen a side of her that no other had, or if they did, they certainly weren’t sharing. What did come as unexpected to the drow was that supposedly the bardess, Lilira, had delivered the poison. A soft clicking sound tore the drow from his reverie. Snarling at the disturbance, Nilan watched as a spider scuttled across a mound of dirt and rock some fifteen paces in front of him. Growling, the assassin fired three throwing daggers in rapid succession at the unfortunate creature. The first two blades lodged in the dirt on either side trapping the spider, the third impaled its soft body in a splatter of gore. Nilan watched impassively. All eight legs twitched involuntarily as the creature died.
Nilan scanned the area for any more Lloth spies crawling around. Satisfied there were none, he pondered over recent happenings trying to make sense out of the whole mess. First there was his conversation with his contact. Though the young man had told him all he knew, Nilan couldn’t help but wonder if he was holding back. There were some questions he had that went unanswered, and some things didn’t quite add up. But all in all, he was grateful for the information received. He took the information for what it was and had begun his own investigation into the matter.
Then there was the matter of Dlavizz, the High Priest, in Vhaeraun’s temple. Nilan sighed, drumming his fingers against the cold stone floor of the damp cavern. When notified of the situation at the outpost, Dlavizz did indeed react to the news; however, his reaction was not one the assassin had expected. His lack of genuine concern was something the drow took note of. He dismissed the arrogant sarcasm as a frequent occurrence that often accompanied most meetings with the High Priest. Nilan knew that at times he tried the man’s patience, so he passed off Dlavizz’s agitation as just….well…one of those times. Since then, Nilan’s own investigation lent more credence to a theory he had, but he thought better than to disturb the High Priest further. He would wait, and let time cool off the rising heat of the man’s apparent ire.
Lilira had angered him the most, for two reasons. The first being her willing participation in a covert attack against one of Vhaeraun’s surface outposts. Such an act he had expected from her necromancer friend, Lintral. Afterall, that one made no bones about his belief that drow should be exterminated from the surface realms. Nilan growled as he thought about the pompous necromancer whose sarcasm rivaled that of Dlavizz’s at times. He had wished he never ran into the man in Ashstone the day he had accompanied the Lloth priestess, Itasha, in a meeting with the Lady there. Disguised or not it mattered little, when Lintral was around. The cursed human easily identified him by the dead spirits that hung in the area around the assassin. Nilan had fully expected Lintral to reveal not only who he was, but whom he served to the Lloth priestess. That act that would have gotten the Vhaeraunite a front row seat to a drider transformation ritual, with him as the participant. So far, the necromancer had kept Nilan’s secret, but that too had come at a price. Nilan was certain, at some point, Lintral would choose to play that card, and if the assassin couldn’t deliver…there would be consequences. So far that hadn’t happened.
The second reason for the assassin’s anger was his belief that the bardess had deliberately lied to him. Prior to this attack on the Vhaeraunite outpost, Nilan had learned that Lilira and some of her companions were involved in supplying the dwarves with weapons and supplies in an effort to gain the upper hand on the battle that raged in the caverns where the drow outpost was located. Nilan recalled his first confrontation with her, in which he dared to accept her explanation for her participation. She had told him she had unwittingly participated in the delivery unaware that it was to be part of an attack on his people. He had accepted her reason then, for he had come to call her ‘friend’, a word unheard of among his people. And now he was wondering if he would come to regret his choice in believing in a concept that was as uncommon to the drow as the concept of love.
With the new information he had learned regarding Lilira’s involvement in carrying out the poison attack on the outpost, Nilan was furious. The assassin recalled his most recent confrontation with the bardess. He had ambushed her in the mountains upon learning of the incident at the outpost. Dragging her by the hair and with ‘Shadow’ pressed against her throat, he had forced her into a dark cavern. The sentient blade seemed to hum in anticipation of tasting blood. Nilan gripped the blade tightly as his hand began to shake involuntarily feeling the desire of the dagger as it whispered to him. The assassin immediately shoved the bardess into the cavern wall, away from him. The dagger hummed eerily, angry that its desire would go away unsatisfied. Had he wanted her dead, he could have easily dispatched her on the ridge where he ambushed her. He had hoped she realized that. He had simply desired to confirm the information given to him from his contacts, and more importantly to find out the reason why she would attack the drow outpost. She had confirmed much of the information given to him by his contact, adding that the poison was in itself non-lethal. She claimed it was a type of slowness poison that would slow the reflexes and speed of the drow army. She also stated that her instructions given to her by the Lady of Ashstone were to place the poison amongst the dead and dying.
Nilan recalled their conversation over and over in his mind, as he tried to sort out the details. When he asked the bardess what Lady Ashstone’s reasons for the attack were, Lilira refused to tell him, claiming only that her life was probably forfeit anyway as she had botched up the assignment. When he pressed her on what she meant, she refused to elaborate. Instead, she insisted over and over again that she had never lied to him. Nilan grew angry, infuriated that she would think so little of their friendship that she would choose to protect the Ashstone bitch. He thought long and hard on the conversation, replaying it over and over to be sure all the pieces fit in place. They had parted that night, the assassin allowing her to walk away. He remembered her final words to him, “Nilan, I have never lied to you.”
Over the next few days Nilan had set out to verify the information he had learned from Lilira. Her story, at least what she had told him had in fact checked out. He had met with the drow commander, who had confirmed that Lilira had given her a package, which they had identified as containing a type of slowness poison. Lilira had referred to botching up the assignment, which now began to make sense. Instead of placing the poison among the dead and dying as was Lady Ashstone’s instructions, Lilira had somehow given the package directly to the drow commander. In speaking to the outpost commander, Nilan also discovered that although the outpost served Vhaeraun, the soldiers there shared very little love for the High Priest of Dobluth Kyor. The commander had given him her reasons for this, of which the Vhaeraunite assassin decided to make note of. In confirming this much, Nilan decided that perhaps Lilira did not lie to him about what she had elected to tell him, but he was certain she was hiding something. Her participation in Lady Ashstone’s attack on the drow outpost was not something the Vhaeraunite would forget or forgive.
Nilan groaned, standing up he walked toward the mound in front of him. The assassin retrieved the three throwing daggers, wiping the spider guts from one of the blades cursing Lloth as he did so. Nilan thought long and hard on all the information he had gathered since his first contact with the Lady. He recalled that meeting and grinned. Yes he had met her…but not in Ashstone. He recalled her desires from the very first time they had met. Perhaps things were starting to come together. Perhaps things were beinging to reveal themselves if one looked close enough. Initially, when he had learned of the attack upon the outpost by the Lady of Ashstone, it didn’t make sense. Why was a necromancer who was supposedly busy rebuilding her city, interested in a small drow outpost hundreds of miles away? She had a purpose, and knowing what Nilan knew about the Lady, he was now quite certain that he knew what her purpose was. Nilan smiled, hoping that his theory was correct. Rising to his feet, he headed back to Dobluth Kyor. If he was right, Vhaeraun would be pleased.
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