Chapter 2 - Jelok and Seluus
The tavern of the winged serpent was in an uproar.
The present visitors of the inn were taunting Jelok, the well-known rogue and charmer. They looked upon him now, with some disdain, for he had shattered their perfect little world.
Jelok had the audacity to tell everyone at the inn this night, that there was still another vampire on the loose, and it was a man.
Food had been thrown at the thief and words like "Get out!" and "Leave before we throw you out," could be heard being yelled from across the tavern. But Jelok did not give up. He stood on the table and told the audience of the man he had met in the alley just before all hell broke loose inside the Winged Serpent.
The people would have none of it though, and quickly grabbed the thief and escorted him roughly out the door. When he landed on his backside, he looked back and saw Murl, the tavern owner, standing there. "Don't come back Jelok," the man began somewhat half-heartedly, "I don't want to see you hurt. You've been a good patron, but I want this talk of vampires to go away. It stirs up feelings in others that are better left dormant."
And so, Murl went back inside leaving the thief to ponder his new fate. The stout, gruff, tavern owner was beginning to get quite agitated by all the attention his place was getting. Even though it was bringing in a huge crowd every night since 'the incident', he was beginning to tire of the new reputation his inn was receiving around Tavern Row. Suggestions for changing the name of his inn to the 'Winged Bat', or just 'The Lair', had the man almost screaming inside.
All of this had happened because Alainna Browin had been a vampire. Already, three days had passed and it was still the topic on everyone's mind. The most beautiful woman ever to grace the stage in Arabel, much less, his particular inn, was now gone. She was dead, and she left a bloody mess in the back room too. Murl shook his head at the thought at having to clean it up. It must stink in there by now.
The War wizards of Cormyr weren't helping things either. They were flocking around like buzzards on a day old kill. Murl had no idea that Cormyr employed that many wizards. They had moved in quickly to take the remains of the undead woman. They also sealed off the back stage with magic to keep anyone from disturbing the place. Their disregard for any common courtesy was unnerving.
So, the wizards of Cormyr did what war wizards do to investigate such an uncommon event: locking themselves in the backstage area and casting spell after spell to try to figure out what really happened.
And now, after three days of trying to get the inn back to normal, Jelok had to go tell everyone that another vampire still lurked the streets of the Arabel. How much worse could it get? Murl sighed in resignation and accepted the trouble as his fateful lot in life. Oh how he wished this would all go away.
Meanwhile, outside the inn, Jelok stood and walked back to his hidden residence. His backside would hurt for days from the hard landing he took from being thrown out of the inn. It could have been much worse, he thought, as he passed by the few onlookers that had seen him fly from the Winged Serpent.
The look he gave them showed he didn't care what they thought of him. As far as Jelok was concerned, it was time to go into hiding. His past experiences told him that if this vampire found out he had spilled the beans, Jelok's life was the next to end somewhere on tavern row. And so he proceeded onward toward his secret residence. Down several alleys and many twists and turns between buildings, Jelok went behind some trash that covered him from view from any possible lurking eyes. He then took a small item out of his pocket and placed it on the ground and spoke a word of magic. There, on the ground, opened a portal that had steps leading downward into nothing. Jelok took his steps and entered into his home.
Here, were his many joys and treasures, safe from the prying works of any thief. His home was a magical dimension that was all his. He could take it with him wherever he went, and he would always have a place to stay. Money less or not, he had treasures that no one could take without him having to die first. This was his place of refuge, the place he meditated and relaxed before he did a job. He never felt any safer than when he walked down those stairs and sealed the entrance.
Sure, the air would run out after a full day had passed, but he would not be here that long. He had to find a cleric to heal him from the vampires touch. Thank the goddess Selune that he had traveled with a particular cleric that had managed to educate him, a much younger and more foolish Jelok at the time, of Vampires and Wraiths and their life draining touches.
Jelok wondered what had ever happened to that cleric he had traveled with so long ago. Seluus was his name, Jelok remembered, and the cleric had been a formidable ally during those days. Jelok had often wondered how the priest had withheld from killing the more stupid and younger version him. He had caused the cleric much heartache and had almost caused the death of most of the group he had been traveling with.
More times than he could remember, the headstrong priest of Selune had bailed the thief out of trouble. Perhaps he should look up and see if the cleric still lived. That would be a miracle on its own, for Seluus had a death wish against the slavers of the pirate isles in the sea of fallen stars. Jelok was sure that if the priest hadn't kicked him out of the group all those years ago, he would have been dead already. His life would have come to an end either by the slavers pikes, or Seluus's wicked mace.
The memory brought a smile to Jelok's face as he slid his bruised body into a soft plush chair he had borrowed from the Dealinar's estates just outside the city. Of all the minor nobility in Cormyr, the Dealinar family knew how to buy furniture. Jelok looked about his dimensional home, and realized that most of his furnishings were from several such homes from inside this city. That brought another smile to his face.
“Now, to the matter of getting healed.” Jelok muttered to himself as he began thinking of his relationships with the churches. “Tyr, Torm and Helm are absolutely out of the question,” he began as he scrolled through the temple listings in his mind. “Lady luck might do, but I owe them a favor already.” He continued to think, then out of the blue… “Selune?”
Surely this was not circumstance, the thief thought, as he bundled up his wealth and headed toward the door. Hadn't he just been thinking about a certain priest of Selune just moments before?
Jelok quickly left the dimensional space he had been in, and closed up the portal. His step had a little more spring in it and he even whistled a small tune from the famous play, Deja vu. For he was experiencing a portion of it right now. The thief remembered the many times Seluus had said, “Nothing happens by accident. Everything is already in motion, we just have to be prepared to overcome it.”
The rogue's smile faded into a frown of concern, as he remembered the circumstances of his leaving the clerics adventuring group all those years ago. Was he ready to overcome the possibility that Seluus might be here in Arabel and that his mere presence might insight the priest into bashing his head in?
Surely Seluus wasn't going to hold a grudge for that long… or would he?
* * * * *
The image of the thief faded from view as the two men looked on with great interest.
The master was not happy. Already he had saved his students life by gathering up a victim for him to feed on after his fight with the beautiful Vampire seductress Alainna. It was the only way he could heal himself after being struck by the more experienced vampire twice on the neck and having it torn apart.
The sweet blood of the tavern girl helped heal his wounds and give back his strength. The master then set up the rest, managing to have all the killings blamed on Alainna, and at the same time, freeing the two Vampires of blame.
At least that was true until the thief had resurfaced.
Diershonn was not pleased.
His malevolent gaze fell upon his young learner, frightening him to the core. Randell still had so much to learn. But he had to learn, or be killed by the master. Randell was certain that if his actions caused his master any concern over the safety of his existence and the solitude of his new castle , then he had no doubt that he would kill him.
The thief had the power to bring Randell's death to pass. If the master felt the thief had convinced anyone to begin a search for another vampire, he was the next to die. The thief had to be killed, just so Randell could see another birthday.
The Vampire had always hoped he would be able to live to be fifty like his father had. That ripe old age was rarely seen in these days of violence and transition. Already, Cormyr had almost been destroyed from the inside out, not to mention all the goblins and orcs still roaming the countryside. To live to be fifty had been a dream, a dream he should have no problem achieving in his present condition. But the thief was about to bring that possibility in jeopardy. Randell felt he had a right to live like anyone else, and he would not have some lowlife pickpocket bring about his destruction.
The words of the master came to him in his mind, jarring him back to the present reality. “You will kill this thief quickly and remove the body from Arabel,” The master began, "You will bring it back to me here where I can dispose of it appropriately. Is that understood?”
Randell could tell by the tone in his mind and the stern look on his master's face, that this was not open to discussion. He would kill the thief and bring his lifeless body back here to his master.
Surely he could do this one thing right…
* * * * *
Liseria and Comyr waited patiently for the cleric.
He had made them wait before, but not this long. Comyr was on his third watered down ale, and Liseria had practically worn a couple of holes in the table from tapping her fingers for last three hours.
Comyr finally stopped the enchantress from tapping her fingers any longer. “I thought wizards were supposed to be patient,” the paladin of Torm the True stated. His baritone voice held traces of mirth as he watched the beautiful woman turn her steady gaze on him. “Especially elven magic users.”
Comyr enjoyed his chances to jest with the accomplished mage. If anything could be said about her, it was that she was patient. So it was somewhat out of character to watch her fidget so much while they waited for Seluus to finish his quarterly devotions to Selune. It was the spring equinox and Seluus had his obligations to attend the full moon ritual that gave thanks to Selune for her guiding light. She knew they finished the ritual very early in the morning, so Seluus usually slept in. This time, he was really sleeping in.
Comyr knew that the reason she was so rushed was because Stephanis was waiting for them down in Suzail. He knew she wanted to be with the human wizard as soon as she could. Comyr could only guess at what had caused a human and an elf to fall in love with each other. The two never spoke of it, but there must have been a terrible tragedy in their lives. Something haunted Liseria, but Comyr and Seluus were to much a gentleman to ask. No one knew what it was except her. And she kept it a well-guarded secret.
The only clue Comyr had was when Seluus had given her a spell book that he had recovered from an evil wizard. The book only had necromantic spells in it, and that had caused Liseria to disintegrate the book immediately like it held the plague. She didn't explain herself, only that she would not allow that kind of magic to be used.
If she meant only by her, or if she meant that she would prevent the world from casting death spells, no one asked. Comyr just remembered watching Seluus's face when she had destroyed the book. The cleric had a look of respect about him, like he approved of the deed. This was about the time when Seluus started wanting to go out and adventure with the two mages. Perhaps he saw something of himself in the two wizards that impressed him… who knows. Comyr stopped trying to figure out the cleric and the two mages over six months ago when they started their trip from Waterdeep to Suzail.
Comyr knew that Seluus would not drink anything other than Elverquist wine, unless he had run out. And that he hated slavers or anything that resembled them. Seluus was a leader. Comyr knew that from the first day he met him, but he never knew that a cleric could be so useful in battle. The priest had saved their lives numerous times by always seeming to have the right spell memorized. He was a powerful cleric as well. He had seen the priest raise a man from the dead.
The cleric never ceased to amaze him in deed and opinion, for the cleric had an uncanny knack for putting his foot in his mouth and causing the traveling group of adventurers to do things the hard way. The paladin did not have enough fingers and toes to count the many inns and taverns they were turned away from because of the fare they charged. Seluus always managed to irritate the one person that would have the authority to kick them out. Seluus's favorite line seemed to be, “Are you an idiot? What fool charges triple the going rate to stay in their rat infested inn?”
But, The paladin loved the man anyway. He was the most loyal of friends, and would give his life for any of them. Just like they would give their lives for him.
“Achem,” came the familiar throat clearing voice from above the paladin.
Comyr looked up and saw Seluus dressed and ready for the road. His full plate armor gleamed from being cleaned at the temple of Selune just the other night. It was more beautiful than he had ever saw it, a soft blue hue seemed to surround the metal plates as they shifted to move with the cleric.
“Did you get a new suit of armor my friend?” Comyr asked as he got up from the table and stood. He was taller than the priest by at least 3 inches, but that was only because the paladin was very tall. Seluus stood a good six feet tall himself, but he lacked the bulk that Comyr had.
Seluus smiled and said, “Selune looked upon me favorably last night, and imbued my armor with her essence. It now weighs just half what it used to, and I feel that it protects me from the diseases of lycanthrope and mummy rot. Why she did this, I don't know, but I am very pleased.”
Liseria did notice the cleric was a tad bit more likable this afternoon. Perhaps it took a touch from his goddess to make the priest a little humble. Liseria watched Seluus offer his hand to help her up from the table. Now that was a first. Liseria gave the cleric one of her trademark winks and said, “Perhaps we should have you spend every night of the month in a special ceremony to your goddess. It seems to have made you almost bearable.”
Comyr chuckled, then stood straight faced as the priest whirled around to look at him. Liseria then joined in with some of her own laughing, placing her hand on the priests shoulder and helping herself up. “Don't fret young human, you will learn one of these days when we are joking with you.”
Now, Comyr was rolling, and Seluus just stood there and watched his friend bust his gut. “I do hope we can move on… it appears I left you both to long at the wine.”
Liseria was still chucking as they moved out of the establishment. “You are not one to talk my drunken friend. I personally remember several occasions you were to slow of tongue to get off a spell in bar brawls you started…”
Seluus winced at that for he knew it was true. The priest just couldn't stop talking for his own good. He always had to have the last word. Now, his friends had an opening and they would walk through it, and oh how they would enjoy the walking through.
As the group made its way toward the stables to get their horses to travel south to Suzail, they passed by many of the famous taverns on tavern row. Seluus had been kicked out of almost every one at one time or another in his other life. Arabel had been one of his favorite towns to go to and visit. That was before the slavers. Then, a familiar voice called the clerics name from down the street. The townsfolk that walked and did business here, drowned out most of what the man was yelling at him, but Seluus could have sworn that his name had been called. A familiarly dressed man finally emerged from the press and stood in front of the stupefied cleric. Of all the people he thought he would ever see again, Jelok was not in the top ten.
The thief looked a little paler than he had remembered him being, but it had been almost 6 years since he had seen the man. So if he was pale, then so be it. The cleric had actually thought the man dead, and had counted him amongst the deceased that had traveled with him against the slavers of the sea of fallen stars. Seluus was very surprised to see the man breathing.
“Well, aren't you going to buy an old friend a drink?” Jelok stated as he held his arms out wide. Jelok was hoping the priest would be kind and civil. He saw that the cleric traveled with and elven maid and a paladin too. Just like him to surround himself with sturdy, hardened, adventurers.
Seluus smiled and told the thief, “I most certainly would. It is good to see you alive my old companion. Well met. I do hope you have time to trade stories. It has been a long time.”
Jelok was very much relieved that the priest held no ill feelings toward him. So he sprung forward and introduced himself to Seluus's friends. The rogue knew the priest would not even have the etiquette to do the introductions himself. But that was ok, for Seluus wasn't hired or asked to serve anyone for his people skills.
After the introductions, Seluus moved the group over to the jovial jester tavern for a drink with the charming rogue. Liseria was not happy, and let the cleric know about it very quickly. For when they entered the tavern, Liseria had whispered to the priest that Stephanis was waiting for them, and that they should have been there already. Stephanis had gone ahead to make arrangements when they first had arrived into Arabel. That was over a week ago, and Liseria wanted to see her man.
Seluus reply was, “We've been on the road for six months traveling without end. One more side trip wont hurt anyone. Besides, this rogue is one of the few living people that traveled with me back in the early years. I want to hear what he has to say.”
Liseria conceded this time. Seluus had pretty much been a non-factor as far as most of the decision-making was concerned. It seemed the priest picked his battles carefully and held his tongue until needed. Now, he used his clout, for he had barely raised any issues on the whole trip down.
When the drinks were brought and all were sitting at the table, Jelok began telling his story. He talked about how he had moved from city to city, looking for his place in life. Areas like Westgate, Sembia, and mistledale. He had finally ended up in Arabel because he had a great infatuation with the Lady Mermeen Lhal. Now he could look at her every day and not have to fantasize so often.
This brought a chuckle to Liseria, but Comyr was almost outraged at the lack of couth from the self-proclaimed rogue. Seluus put his hand up and told Jelok to continue but without any sexual references.
And so Jelok did, completing his jorney over the last six years in less than half an hour. Now, Jelok looked very uneasy and he was looking around like he was very paranoid. Seluus noticed the shifting of posture and immediately addressed it…
“Are you in any trouble?” The cleric asked, his voice rising in volume as he continued, “You aren't trying to use our friendship for me to bail you out of another of your stupid decisions are you?”
The clerics face was getting red and his veins were beginning to stand out of his neck.
Jelok quickly gave an apology, but one with a hard edge to its words. “I did not make a stupid decision, you bull headed, son of a jackal! If you would listen for a change, and not presume, we might get somewhere.”
Jelok watched as Seluus calmed down, but he could tell in the clerics eyes, that he had over stepped his bounds. But the thief moved on. “Just a few nights ago, I came across a man in an alley just outside the Winged Serpent. I know that the man I ran into was a vampire.”
Seluus just stared at Jelok dumbfounded at the information he was receiving. After recovering, he asked, “How did you know he was a vampire?”
Jelok then told Seluus about the hold the vampire had put on his neck, and the death of a vampire within the walls of the Winged Serpent. The same inn the vampire had gone into after he had sucked some of the life out of the lowly thief. Jelok showed the purplish mark around his neck that was made from the hand of the vampire, and then told how the woman bard that was famous around these parts, had been found with a steak in her heart but no body: Just a skeleton of some creature that was supposed to be Alainna Browin, the most beautiful woman in Arabel. The last bit of information he told Seluus was the clincher. Jelok had spoken to the friend of a particular tavern girl that had helped the male vampire gain access to the back room of the stage. She had said the girl never made it back to work the next day, and that she hasn't been seen since the night the vampire was slain in the inn.
Seluus took all the information in and scrutinized it. Comyr and Liseria were doing the same. Seluus then asked Jelok, “If the woman was a vampire, then why did the man vampire go inside. Was it specifically for a duel? It seems that the male vampire just wanted to enjoy himself and used your money to do it. From what the girl says that you talked to, it doesn't seem like a typical vampire motive. They hardly ever attack each other, always preferring to live as far from another of their kind as they possibly can. Perhaps the male vampire didn't know the woman was a vampire too and just wanted to use her as food. I don't know, and I don't have the time to figure it out for you Jelok. Now I appreciate the story, but we must go.”
Seluus stood up from the table and began to motion for the others to follow. Liseria and Comyr both had concerned looks on their faces but said nothing as Seluus began to walk toward the exit.
Jelok ran forward to meet him. “I wanted to talk to you so you could heal me. I've been drained of my life by a vampire that might come looking for me again. Don't you have any compassion left in you at all?”
Jelok's words struck the priest like a thunderbolt. What was he doing? He was leaving a friend out in the cold with a vampire possibly hunting him down. How could he face Selune without at least healing the poor thief? And so Seluus replied, “Ok, I will heal you. But I can't restore you until tomorrow, for I have no spells able to do that right now.” Seluus looked back to Comyr and Liseria for their support.
Liseria really wanted to see Stephanis, but knew this was a worthy cause to stay the night for. “One more day till I see my Stephanis will not kill me.” She gave her disarming smile and patted the thief reassuringly on the shoulder.
Comyr was all for helping the distressed rogue. As a matter of fact, it seemed that the paladin was way to interested in staying. So when Comyr looked his direction, Seluus went ahead and asked him, “And why do you wish to stay, Comyr? You seem overly eager to help someone you don't know…”
Comyr knew he had been cornered, but didn't care. “We are planning on hunting down this beast aren't we? A vampire cannot be allowed to live once we know of its existence. It is against our mandates and our creed.”
Seluus listened carefully and said, “First off, we will heal Jelok of the vampires touch. Then we will go to Suzail and get Stephanis. If we take on a vampire that kills other vampires, then we might be walking into a very dangerous situation. One I have never been in before. We will need everyone at full strength. Plus, we must have time to prepare our last goodbyes, for if we decide to take this kind of a foe on, then you just must expect that someone will die in the trying. I suggest we sleep and meditate on it before the morning and make our decisions then. For we will not go anywhere near a vampire at night….”
Jelok was overly pleased, and clapped his hands excitedly. “Thank you Seluus, thank you. I appreciate it so very much. Please stay with me in my home for the night. It is safe from anything, so we should get a good nights rest.”
Jelok then started leading them towards his secret home in the alley, humming a new song and feeling better than he had in the last three days.
The scrying crystal shattered against the wall. The master vampire had seen too much and flung the precious globe with all his might against the stone of his castle.
A Paladin of Torm, and a Cleric of Selune now stood to protect the little thief from harms way. Even an Elven mage was with them, with multiple fire magics and spell barriers no doubt. He couldn't send his son into that much danger without informing him and preparing him for what he would face. No. He must show his son how to be a real vampire. The training must begin…
he master Vampire then got up out of his seat and walked over to a spot on the floor that had a few holes in it. The master turned to mist and floated down the holes into his secret resting chamber. It was one of five throughout the castle. When he reached the opening at the bottom, he just barely had enough space to maneuver around the coffin that he would sleep in this night. When he got inside, his thoughts went once again to his son and the trials that awaited him. “There is only so much you can do before you have to let them go.” Diershonn said softly to the darkness that surrounded him. “They must learn to fly on their own…”
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