By Xullrae Zauvir
Chapter 1 - Meetings and Acquaintances (part 4)
Something deep within the haziest recesses of memories past begins to stir, the shrouds of millennia parting to offer up what had seemed such a minute detail at the time, such that it had largely gone unnoticed. Some part of his mind registered that such a memory was of a time before the ancient kingdom of Netheril fell. Muted voices begin to accompany the still largely distorted images, in form of a hushed debate. The words become clear a short time before the two humanoid silhouettes sharpen of detail, both of a deep, masculine nature, though one is far more melodic than the other. The rougher of the two issues forth from the remembrance first.
"...were to meet your 'other', the consequences would be personally more dire than those which are about to occur for the Realms as a whole. Mayhaps for both of us! So dunnae preach to me about minding my own damned business! Gods, but ye live up to your vaunted insanity at times!"
"And you, dearest 'brother', portray more of it than you would like to live up to, in my opinion. Fret not, I shall take my leave soon enough, as even I dare not the possible consequences of being in this place when the Fall happens. It is sad to think that all of this will become but rubble in a short time," replied the melodic figure.
"Aye, like yer 'Utopian' kingdom will become within the next generation...I've met the bitch daughter of yours who causes the downfall. Though quite the piece of ass like her mother, the rest of her takes all too much after her fath...."
There comes then an abrupt silence, just as the haze clears away completely, revealing twin pools of oak-brown hue, peering intently at the viewer, the thin-lipped mouth which is set upon an ageless, olive skinned countenance slightly agape, seeming quite surprised, somehow revealing that this bald crowned human knows the viewer, though as far as could be remembered, they had never met. A wave of silvery locks blocks that olive visage as the second figure spins about, this just as tall as the first, though not as brawny of build. 'Ere the latter countenance can be viewed, however, the haze coalesces upon the scene once again, laying the memory to rest.
Then, suddenly, another veil is lifted, this sector of memory occurring some centuries later. This time, however, the parting is subconsciously fought against, as perhaps the viewer did not wish to recall this particular scene. Perhaps that would stem from this being one of the few times in existence that he had been caught off guard, if not actually surprised. The battle is soon quenched, and the haze lifted, flashes of arcane energies erupting within line of vision, obscuring those shouting silhouettes with the flailing arms in the background. Remembered pain overtakes the viewer's form, nearly rousing him from the reverie, pain both physical, and perhaps..just a tad bit...emotional as well.
Even whilst it occurred, the entire scene had been a confusing and obscured one, the trap having been laid all too well, by one far beyond the capabilities of the viewer's servants and apprentices. During the brief battle to escape at the time, though many of the shouting, chanting voices were familiar, only one particular visage had come plainly into sight...that of a certain olive skinned, brown eyed human. Head clean shaven and tattooed just as it had been in the time of Netheril's might, said figure not seeming to take any part of the actual battle, simply standing by idly and watching, though surely that could not have been the case, at least not in the viewer's mind.
Mayhaps gladly, an interruption from the here and now yanks him from the remembrances of the human abruptly, whose illusion has been presented by those gathered in the Malaugrym's current environs. The voice coming to his ears now of a most regal tone, that of the finely dressed head priest of the drow temple, Shadow Sorcerer Pharaun Lhalabar, devoted of Vhaeraun. A slight look of concern, mostly put on for the sake of show, is given to the Malaugrym now, and it dawns on Sszordrin that he must have been standing idle in reverie for some long moments. The meeting room, and its few occupants, having been largely forgotten.
"Master Xarann, is something amiss?" asked the high priest.
Needless to say, the Malaugrym was able to bounce back from the effects, the memories that indeed came to haunt him, seemingly without warning, for he had tried to cast such things aside, a time he wouldn't forget, yet didn't wish to remember. Oh, but the thought of what he did to most he found, that alone brought a thin-lipped smile to dark tiers. Deep crimson orbs from the current Drow form he was in, shifted to the individual who spoke to him. "It is nothing to worry yourself about, I simply found myself in remembrance." Lean shoulders rise, then falls seconds later, as if dismissing it all together, hands lowering upon the table before him, while lengthy digits entwine with each-other, leaning forward ever so slightly. "Now, where were we?"
Offering the simplest of nods in recognition of the Malaugrym's answer, and for indication that they were ready to proceed, Pharaun then proffered a slender, obsidian hand in the direction of the companion seated at his right...Bragh T'orgh, Master Emeritus of the Tower's arcanists, if memory served correctly. Said figure, whose countenance was rather pinched, and definitely nothing that harbored any of the typical drow beauty, offered a small nod of his own, tendrils of wispy, snow-white hair falling out of place in the doing. Frowning to himself as that small problem is corrected, his twin pools of brightest crimson settle upon the disguised Malaugrym, the mannerisms of speech and posture most businesslike as his case is presented. "As I had been stating before, we have the general layout of the portal already worked out, the location finally having been pinpointed and agreed upon. It will of course take us some weeks to complete, though indeed, as per our bargain, we are hastening the process along as much as we possibly can."
There comes then a slight pause on the
archwizard's part, and his brow furrows for a moment, as if perhaps he were
weighing the words that ached to come out next. "Hm, I would not fret over
the fact that you...your people, I correct...are unable to undertake such
endeavors themselves. I, and my colleagues, like some handful of scholars before
us, have surmised that there is perhaps a Geas laid upon the lot of your people,
preventing the formulation of portals which could carry the lot of you into this
Plane of existence. The Whore, as I have come to know her as, has been known to
do such things to those she does not favor.
"Now, that aside, I would now state that I am open to further questioning on the matter of the portal, if you would have any such musings to impart."
The Malaugrym, for the most part was sitting there, incredibly silent and unmoving. Stillness that only a predator could muster. "Yes, well if this all does go well, then we won't have to worry about such a thing any longer." There was a slight pause, momentary thought, before lips began to converse once again. "Payment, as you stated were to be my services, do you perhaps know what I'll be needed for? Or a task that I'll need to perform?" A stark white brow shot up in question, the details on his part were fuzzy, the portal alone was the greater importance for his race, and those who were even above him, though now it was time to delve a little deeper for his own sake, having quite simply thrown himself, to whatever task they deemed him worthy of, the deal made, without even seeing the full picture.
Now the Malaugrym was usually much more careful and collective, and oh so wary about showing his true abilities, that's what caused his capture centuries ago, and truthfully he was unsure if they knew what to expect from him, but all in all, it didn't worry him much.
"Ah, yes, well, we wish not to ask overly much of you, as our Lord has bidden us to form and nurture this union between us..." Once again, it was Pharaun, the self styled enigmatic leader, who spoke, the weighing of his words as he proceeded being most blatant of manner. It seemed that, despite his stature and vaunted personal power, he perhaps feared raising the Malaugrym's ire. And rightfully so, as most would agree. Clasping his slender hands now, letting them settle in front of his form in order to show some semblance of relaxation and calmness, he continued the thought. "...However, we would, hm, ask that you...being of vastly more mastery in the subject than our own people...would bless our Temple by teaching what you will of the Shadow Arts, when and if such time permits. And...." Pharaun's crimson orbs now settle upon the illusion which hovers some inches above the stone tabletop, that of the human whom they had begun to discuss a short while ago. "...the human...By decree of our esteemed Lord, we have entered a..partnership...with the human, some short time before you had blessed us with your presence. Part of the 'deal' we have going with the human is largely as your own...he wishes to study the drow, and their ways, particularly those of us who do not follow the Spider Bitch. Now..."
His nervousness was apparent to an astute observer, though to his credit, most would not take note of it. "..What we propose, is that, upon your agreeance, both you and the human will be given the same subject to 'study'. This will benefit us immensely, in that you are one most capable of offsetting the human's arcane might, for yes, though I wish not to admit it, the human's skill in such things far outweighs that of any arcanists in this temple. Of particulars in the matter, there are none really, though we would only ask that you 'keep tabs' on him, to what degree you will. And, that, if ever such an occurrence should arise that we have need to be rid of the human, well, it is our hope that you would, hm, eradicate him."
The Malaugrym sat there for several seconds after the man finished with his speech, there was a faint expression of idle thought across his devilish, angled Drow features. "You mention a.. certain individual who I am to.. study? Tell me more." He shifted in his seat somewhat, the gnarled wooden staff he brought in with him casually grasped with a now free hand, lanky digits curling along the width, while index began a light tap upon its enchanted surface. "As for the human, I shall.. Keep tabs if you wish, though if I do not approve of him, do not be surprised of his sudden disappearance." Confidence was one thing the disguised Malaugrym had, even when he knew nothing about this other one, that brought a hint of nervousness to Pharaun's visage. He was known for his stone cold outlook on life, emotion was a rare sight, those occasional smirks nothing more then sarcastic statements.
Much had changed since his imprisonment. A tyrant gone diplomat, his own planar fortress had been built and followers came in due time, though, there was more he wanted, that hunger for power, for revenge to all those that would've seen him put to an end, he knew there were some left, and he knew it'd only be a matter of time.
"Mm, yes, I had gathered the unasked question that you wished to know more about our people, when first we spoke. So I have taken it upon myself to arrange it that you may partake of such studies, in part to offer you something to do whilst our arcanists keep you waiting...during the construction of the portal. There is a most..interesting...female amongst our clergy. Xull'rae Zauviir, by name, Masked Traitor by title." There is a slight pause 'ere he continues, "her kind play a most dangerous, albeit invigorating at times, gambit. On the surface, the Masked Traitors worship another of the Drow deities, most times the Spider Queen, Lolth..." This last phrase stated with apparent disgust upon his sharp features. "Though other deities are targeted as well. At any rate, whilst outwardly worshiping the other deity, their true allegiance...in theory, at least...is to our revered Lord. They are, hm, spies of the highest degree, if you would. As such, this venture will perhaps offer one of your station and stature some semblance of interest...perhaps even amusement, at times. At the very least, this is our hope.
If you wish to partake of these studies, we can arrange for you to meet the female at your earliest whim." The disguised Malaugrym nods and the agreement is sealed.
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