By Carey Sauerbrun
After a quick stop at the room he rented to grab his gear, Deagan was off. As he walked through the streets, gradually heading north toward the House of Fine Spirits, Deagan reminisced on his past. He'd been an adventurer for over fifteen years. Coop called him a lad, though he was actually thirty-four years old. His skill as a fighter and a thief had continually grown, constantly tested by his adventurous life. He'd seen more than a few of his mates die horrible deaths.
After so many years, a person should have forgiven any wrongs, he thought. Yet it was not so. After fifteen years, his uncle, Euan Huntsilver, a Cormyrian noble of a prominent house, still tried to have Deagan killed for 'corrupting' his son Duncan, Deagan's cousin.
The boy had asked Deagan to teach him the skills that, at the time, he was only beginning to learn himself. Duncan loved the shadowy arts though, and it was not long before the boy ran off to join an adventuring party, as their thief.
Three months later, he came back. Missing a hand. Deagan's uncle was furious. Deagan still thought that the man was angered more by the disgrace brought on the family than by the loss of his son's hand. The half-elf had barely escaped the family estates. He'd never been back.
As he rounded the last corner and the House of Fine Spirits came into view, Deagan had one last thought. If it hadn't been for Duncan's bumbling, he'd probably never have left Suzail. He grinned, thinking he owed his cousin some thanks.
The House of Fine Spirits was a well-maintained structure with nothing of the Hidden Blade's dark atmosphere. As the headquarters of the Vintner's and Distiller's Guild, the inn always had top quality beverages as well as exceptional meals. While Deagan knew of the place, he did not frequent it, preferring the inns and taverns that catered to adventurers.
The bartender directed Deagan up to one of the inn's private rooms when asked of Micah's whereabouts. The half-elf moved lightly up the stairs, his equipment making little noise. When he reached the mage's room he paused, hearing the murmur of conversation coming from the room. He rapped his knuckles against the wood, announcing his arrival.
The voices stilled. After a few seconds, Micah's voice came to Deagan from within the room. "I have no need of others. Go away."
Deagan snorted. It had been less than an hour since the mage made his offer. He doubted Micah had found anyone else of his caliber in that time. So, a test.
The half-elf eyed the room's lock, seeing that it would only take him a second or two to pick it. Too easy. The mage had probably set up some magical wards on the door. Deagan grinned. Perhaps a little demonstration of his own was called for.
Deagan quickly removed the small pack from his shoulder and set it on the floor. His ancient sabre, recovered while trekking through the Hordelands, followed. He brushed at his dusky red leather armor, constructed from the ensorcelled hide of an old red dragon, but didn't remove it. Finally, he moved down the hall to the door leading into the room adjacent to Micah's and focused his will.
He had discovered his limited psionic abilities while still a boy. He'd fallen from the roof of a hen house, and before he'd hit the ground, he'd phased. Ever since, he'd been able to do so at will, though he could only take a limited amount of gear with him. He did so now, becoming transparent. Without hesitation, the rogue stepped right through the door to the room.
The chamber was empty. Stepping quickly, Deagan moved to the wall the room shared with Micah's. Without slowing down, he stepped right through.
Most of the room's occupants faced the door, expectant looks on their faces. One, a stocky dwarf, stood near to where Deagan appeared and caught the movement out of the corner of his eye. With a startled oath, the doughty fighter's axe whipped around, passing right through Deagan and chopping deeply into the wall.
"My, what a reception." By then the others had turned to look at the dwarf. "Next time I'll just use the door." Deagan phased back, grinning at the amazed looks on the faces around him.
Micah did not look quite as shocked as the others, but maybe he just hid his emotions with more skill. "Welcome to our little party Deagan." Micah waved a hand, "have a seat."
"In just a moment please." Deagan retrieved the rest of his gear from the hall. Once he was settled, he nodded to Micah. "Please, don't let me interrupt."
Micah's mouth quirked in amusement. Most of the others in the room still eyed the half-elf warily. "Well Deagan, you do have hidden talents, don't you? Why don't I start by introducing the others." The old mage indicated the dwarf. "This is Weber Blackspade. A renowned dwarven warrior." Weber looked on Deagan suspiciously, fingering the blade of his axe. Deagan had heard of the dwarf, who was well known in the north.
"Rillidell Dawnstar, an elven sword mistress, as well as an accomplished mage, from Evermeet." Deagan grinned at the gold elf's disapproving glower. Elves weren't all that fond of half-elves to begin with, and the fact that he was a thief did nothing for his reputation with the noble elfmaid.
"Justin of Mystra, priest of our Lady of Mysteries." Justin looked on with a sparkle in his eyes and an obvious curiosity. He was still young, but looked fairly competent. Deagan thought he would get along well with the priest.
"Corina Dorinhast, my daughter, as well as my apprentice." The woman was probably about Deagan's age, and he could see a bit of the family resemblance. She had large brown eyes and a serious expression. Deagan didn't think she would have much of a sense of humor.
"And, finally, Deagan Huntsilver, Cormyrian noble and master thief. I'm sure you will all get along famously." The old man smoothed his robes down. "Now to the reason I have gathered you all here. I wish you to retrieve a number of lost relics for me. They are to ultimately end up in the care of the scholars at Candlekeep. Most, but not all, are magical in nature, and are protected by various traps, tricks and monsters. I'm not expecting you to retrieve these artifacts quickly. I don't even know where most of them are. Each of you have reasons to help me in this though, and together you have the skills to bring back these treasures."
Deagan nodded, and caught similar acknowledgments from the others. He definitely had reasons to get out of Waterdeep. For the next hour, the old mage gave them all he knew about three of the ancient relics he sought. The first was an arcane tome that recorded the aftermath of the fall of Netheril. Micah believed it contained not only a history of the time, but also an assortment of lost spells of the era. He was very eager to have this book found.
The second was a small statue of Tyche, fallen goddess of luck. According to the mage, the statue had been known to become animate at random intervals, once or twice every hundred years, and grant the first person that asked one wish. The artifact was a curiosity, but it's potential was nothing to sneer at.
Finally, the third relic was a magical dagger. It was rumored to be intelligent, and had the ability to answer any one question with complete accuracy, once a day.
Deagan looked forward to beginning this quest. Each of the three items was found in out of the way, hard to get to locations that would test the group. His new companions all seemed interested also.
The glass of the single window to the room suddenly shattered, spreading twinkling shards across the room. Deagan caught the glow of the magical ball of flame just as Blackspade cried out, "fireball!"
The room erupted in motion. Deagan quickly phased again, the effort costing him but well worth it. The magical explosion rocked the building seconds later, bathing the room in flame and igniting much of the furnishings instantly.
Micah snuffed the flames quickly, his hands moving quickly and surely through the intricate patterns of a spell. The mage seemed untouched by the fire. Not so Deagan's companions. Blackspade, who had been closest to the center of the blast, had been hurled against the far wall. Deagan was truly surprised when the tough dwarf, his beard mostly charred away and his armor blackened, pushed himself away from the wall, growling. The dwarf was definitely hurt though.
Rilladell had pulled her cloak tightly about her slender form, and the flame touched her not. The cape seemed to flicker with an internal flame of its own for a few seconds after the blast.
Justin and Corina were both stretched out on the floor, smoke rising from their charred bodies. Deagan could tell they were still alive, but neither was up to anything strenuous. He quickly phased back, rushing to the window in time to catch a glimpse of the shrouded form on the roof across the way. With a quick flick of his wrist, he snatched a throwing spike from his pouch and sent it on its way. The range was long though, and his target was able to easily dodge the small missile. The half-elf caught a hint of feminine laughter as the assailant quickly moved out of sight.
Turning back, Deagan saw that Rilladell and Micah were tending the fallen mage and priest with healing potions. Both were already sitting up, their charred flesh peeling back to reveal new, healthy pink skin. The dwarf stood by the door, ready for an attack from that direction.
"A woman, on the roof across the way."
The dwarf scowled. "Did you mark her?"
Deagan shook his head. "I apologize for this. My uncle seems to have found me quickly this time. I've seen too many of my comrades fall to his assassins before. I'll be going. Good luck on your hunt." Deagan moved for the door.
"Hold on, boy." Micah held out a hand. "That little display wasn't for your benefit. That had to be Dierdre, a former student of mine. She didn't take it well when I told her I wouldn’t teach her certain spells. She's made it her life's work to destroy me and mine. Unfortunately, by coming together like this, you make yourselves targets for her wrath." Micah shook his head. "It is I that am sorry."
"Well old man, you should have killed the wench when you had the chance. Next time we meet, we'll take care of that little oversight for you." Weber whipped his gleaming axe about; not at all happy at being par-boiled. He held grudges too. It would be years before his beard grew back fully!
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