By Xullrae Zauvir
Chapter 1 - Meetings and Acquaintances
A steady murmur permeated the modest environs of the tavern, the gathered crowd not one of great status or means, yet not formed of the dregs which lay but a street beyond. All manner of beings were present, though of drow there were very few, and those few were not numbered amongst the city's nobility, to be sure. This, a relatively safe haven for those not of drow blood, had been the agreed upon meeting place, wherein the flame-haired drowess now sat in wait for the human whom she'd been instructed to "work" with. Though there were a handful of the aforementioned surface dwellers milling about the place at the moment, none fit the description she had been given.
A tawdry looking waitress, apparently human as well, came then to her table, inquiring as to whether more food or drink were needed. The drowess waved a small and finely shaped hand in dismissal, keeping her amber colored eyes from meeting the woman's, having put the hood of her piwafwi up when she had entered. It was a needful thing for her to hide prominent features of herself from the general public, for she had some interesting ones that could instantly mark her as being here and recognizable. However drinks were the furthest from her mind as she kept a sharp gaze on all who entered and left.
The waitress gave a silent nod and turned to take her leave, the doorway to the establishment coming into full view once again, having been blocked momentarily by the ample-bosomed tavern wench.
The three figures whom had just entered were now visible as well, the first being a diminutive, gruff looking duergar, who's plump tummy stuck part way out through the simple, faded black leather vest he wore. The second figure was attired much the same, the tall, brawny human figure, with skin of an olive hue, crown clean shaven and tattooed with runic patterns. This second man largely fit the description she was given, though she was informed she would be searching for a much more dignified fellow. Taking up the rear of the small group was a third figure, twice as brawny, if a head shorter than the human who'd preceded him in, skin of a deep bronze tone, hair the color of sun drenched wheat, features upon the human seeming visage sharp and exotic. All bore weapons openly, appearing to be a band of rogues typical to this part of the city.
The tallest of them, torch light glinting softly off his clean shaven head, spoke a few brief, quiet words to his companions whilst gazing round the common room. When the figure's oak-brown eyes locked upon the drowess' form, a nod was given to his fellow travelers, and they dispersed elsewhere into the crowd.
Glancing about the joint a final time, the broad shouldered human then swaggered his way towards the cloaked female's table, staring down any who chose to peer in on his endeavors.
The drowess known as Xull'rae bit back an irritated sigh upon seeing the three as she watched them. She noticed the bald right away from the height and description given. The others she hardly gave a glance figuring them to be bodyguards and nothing more. Having locked on the man's mouth as it moved, she tried to pick up what was being said, as her keen hearing couldn't, for the buzz of talking in the room, but to no avail she could do neither. So she just waited in silence as the bald one approached. Keeping her mind clear, body relaxed but ready at a moments notice should the meeting go awry.
Approach he did, but stop he did not...at least not more than momentarily, just long enough to flick a gold coin onto the table's rough wooden surface, continuing on a heartbeat later, deftly signaling in the drow-silent tongue a few terse words, bidding her meet him in the back. That same leather-gauntleted hand offering a friendly, if not out-of-place clap upon her cloaked shoulder and a hearty "Have one on me, stranger." bellowed out as he completed passing the table. In like manner, a handful more coin were tossed to just as many patrons, the brawny human covering his tracks further by tossing a small pouch of coin to the tender, bellowing out that the next round on him. During the minor uproar offered by the crowd, in thanks and irritated disbelief, the leather clad human disappeared through the bead-curtained doorway of one of the establishment's more private rooms.
She followed closely on his heels, not even a nod was given nor reaction upon his touch to her small covered shoulder, showing she had discipline by not attacking him outright for the "offense".
Though neither of the human's two companions joined them in the private chamber, the drowess had the distinct feeling that they were indeed keeping watch. Inside, the human was fiddling with the bindings upon one of his stout leather bracers, seated at the single, rounded booth, which already had a bottle of dark-hued liquor, and two tall glasses sitting upon its polished surface. A cursory glance was given to her shrouded figure, and a small wave towards the opposite end of said table.
Xull'rae stopped once she was within the chamber, taking note of her new found surroundings, her stance said she preferred to stand and the shake of the hood declined the drink. The voice the came within the confines of the piwafwi was hard toned but soft and dusky in melody with a richness that belied the drowic accent as she spoke Undercommon "Just state the business' deal ... I have no want to be idle with just senseless talk ... I have better things to do Rivven."
Casually taking the bottle to hand, he proceeded to empty a small amount of its contents into one of the glasses, quirking a single, salt-and-pepper brow in her direction as he listened, his free hand scratching idly at the neat trimming of hair upon his chin. A nod was offered to her as the bottle was set down. "I was told you would be spirited, though I had not expected quite so much bluntness. Very well." A slight pause as he quaffs down the contents of his glass, then he continues. "I take it that your superiors had not offered you much information about our...arrangement."
"They never do...that's what being a
superior is about I'm guessing.." Her tone changed to irritation though
not entirely directed at him.
"I also take it said superiors may not like you very well. Ah, this will be quite the frustrating endeavor for us both, I fear." Finishing the contents of his glass, he proceeds to refill it. "Ah well, there will be plenty of time to rectify our situation, and perhaps learn to tolerate one another."
"Pharaun likes no one that he feels threatened by," Xull'rae replied.
"Hm, I had gotten the impression that he liked no one at all. At any rate, I will fill you in on specifics if I must."
Xull'rae cut him off before he could say more. "As for tolerance I have little but what I have will be given if it means I and my deity's church be the one to benefit from the arrangement."
"Mm, no worries there," replied the bald man, "your church benefits well from this arrangement. If you are wise enough, you will benefit personally as well, as time goes on." The shrouded woman gave a shrug as if it mattered not if he explained, knowing full well she was stuck with him and this deal.
"Now, you are to serve me and my endeavors to the full extent of your abilities, as time allows. It goes without saying that any tasks that your church would ask of you come first. And what business you must needs take care of in order to keep your ruse going at your other temple. Other than that, you are at my disposal. Your personal matters come dead last. Serve me well and ably, and perhaps I will allow for more leeway."
Within the hood, anger flashed across her dark face, but she knew he could not see it and she with some effort made her voice conversational. "So sit on my ass.. making things completely difficult for you ... to where you pull out your remaining hairs ... that's my job ... gotcha will do to the full extent as requested."
A sour frown is offered to the drowess, and she smiled at being able to return the barb 'ere the human refills and summarily empties his glass once more, in a quick manner. That done, his large form rises from the table, inadvertently towering over her diminutive form. "Yes, this will indeed be a most interesting "partnership"..... You have one Ride until you are to report for duty. Unless you have some means of instant transport, I would not tarry long in this city 'ere departing for Sshamath." His tone serious and matter of fact.
"I'd watch how you word things...things like serve and partnership are terrible words that could be misunderstood." The small woman craned her neck to look at him. She stood not even to his chest as her exotic ambers gazed at him with sharp intent. Her face more exposed now, and the sharp planes of her features showed undoubted drow hatred mixed with it's dark beauty of a young woman who was indeed spirited and whose pert mouth showed a frown that was visible but could be mistaken as a pout at the delicate way her lips were shaped.
Undaunted, his own oak-brown gaze locked with hers for a moment, then a forcibly polite, thin-lipped, humor-tinged smile crept upon his ageless visage. "Ah yes, the perfect picture of drow beauty and arrogance you are. Dark tidings to you, drowess." That said, he turned away dismissing her, fully aware he was exposing himself to her possible depredations, parting the beaded doorway, intent on leaving.
She debated on trying attacking him now, for she was rash one when her temper flared, but Xull'rae did not elevate to priesthood so young by being stupid. She would know her enemy before she struck ... so both of them would live this night. As the human left, he could still feel the hatred of her eyes upon him.
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