By Xullrae Zauvir
Chapter 1 - Meetings and Acquaintances (part 10)
Not overly hurried, the two drow, Horock and Xull'rae's journey to the Tower took some quarter of an hour to complete. Bringing them both uneventfully to the temple's base. From here, it was a simple series of upward leaps, from catwalk to catwalk, that would bring them to the concealed front entrance. None had accosted them as they made their way "home", though every so often one got the feeling they were being tailed, though if they were being tailed, the person managed to keep from getting openly caught thus far. The drowess had of course not wanted Horock's company for the journey, but she could not fully expect him not to have followed, as the Tower was now his home away from home as well.
Xull'rae knew the new recruit was following her but decided not to give him a hard time so she just acted like she never knew he was there. As for the other who trailed, it was probably Vesz'aun. Either way it did not matter because she was still cloaked.
As she approached the catwalks, she was in her element of grace. jumping from one to the other in natural speed and fluidness, that it was actually compelling to watch. Soon after though she disappeared in the hidden doorway.
Horock began to climb up to the room that he was able to call his own. He had followed the drowess here from the Inn, and now knew the fastest route from there to here. As he approached his room, he began to think about the battle that he just fought. How had they found me so quickly? He did not think that it was possible. He had just got here. That is why he had assumed that it was just one of Cogliostro's insane tests. He no longer knew what to think. He was so upset by all of this, that he laid down in the room, and began to think about the day in depth, and what had just happened to him.
As most had not yet made an acquaintance of Horock...though surely all prominent folk in the temple knew of him already...none had accosted him upon entry into the Tower. The drowess, however, had been greeted by all who passed by, and 'ere she could ever reach her own chambers, one of the stewards, a simple acolyte whom she had not met yet, and was more or less beneath her care of coming to know, had brought summons to her, from the Shadow Sorcerer. She was to meet with said leader of the Tower in a a half hour, in the "basement" hall and she was to bring the new recruit, Horock. Looking at the time that meant she had fifteen minutes to get to the appointed destination. The message having been delivered, the young male had gone about his business.
Xull'rae threw back her hood conscience of her red hair but not afraid to show it here, she greeted those briefly, that greeted her and with a smile that did not touch her eyes she took the note from the steward with a nod of dismissal and then a sigh upon reading it, she opened her chamber door and proceeded to undress even before she shut the door.
Having shut his eyes for a few minutes, Horock began to realize how ridiculous he had been that past day. Finally, sitting up, he looked around his little room. He had no idea, what he was to do now. How had they found him? What would he do now? He did not know. He was lost, and a little afraid, as the one person that he even marginally trusted, was away from him in the city. What would he do if the thing came back again?
Feeling much better now that he had rested, he got up, and began doing exercises with his sword. He would be ready.
The drowess came out of her room, pulling up her pants to cover her belly button. She now headed for Horock's room while she closed and laced up her shirt.
As on cue, a couple of hoots and whistles came to her keen drowic ears from afar, though none of the "transgressors" dared stick around and possibly face her wrath.
She muttered a few choice oath and word's like "shoulda and "male" were audible before she pounded on the new recruits door tying the last of her laces.
Hearing the pounding at his door, he opens it suddenly. "What do you want?" He ask irritably before he even notices who it is. Once he realizes who it is, he apologizes, heat reaching his cheeks, making him blacker if that was possible. "Sorry. What is it Jabress? I was just doing some exercises." He looks down at his feet, not knowing if he has long left to live or not.
Not having patience she opened his door wide and leaned on his door frame with her arm, "get your ass moving..the Shadow Sorcerer is having a meeting soon and requests your presense."
As soon as she said that, he said, "Okay. Where to?" He followed her down to where ever he needed to be. He hoped that he was not in trouble.
"Follow me." Without another word she moved again and was heading down the corridor.
As they moved along she gave him a glance with her amber hued eyes. "Pay attention to where we are going you may have to go to where we are going without me next time."
Horock looks at her, he says "I have explored the tower. I know where most things are, but I will do what you say." He says these words with a sarcastic tint to his voice, but does pay attention to where he is going as he follows her.
By virtue of necessity, running late as they were, the most direct route had been taken, through the small freight shaft, located within a hidden closet, at the far end of the dormitory hall, where the bulk of the living chambers were located. The trip downward brought them almost within direct view of the small gathering, some half dozen of the Tower's inhabitants now lingered in the middle of a vast hallway, no apparent doors or chambers near them. Among the number was the "revered" Shadow Sorcerer, the anything-but-comely Master of Enchantment Bragh T'org, and the ranking priests, Solufein Pharn and Welverin Hune. Solufein was garbed in his usual Darkmask attire, all black clothing, though his mask now rested idly within hand.
Welverin, along with Pharaun and Bragh, were attired in simple, black robes. As the pair approached the others, it became apparent that the remaining two folk were not of the Tower, each having hooded cloaks concealing most features from view, one cloaked in deep blue, the other in simple black.
Xull'rae hissed, "don't be a piss ant boy..I don't want to be a teacher anymore than you want to be taught, so watch your tone just because the Human pissed you off doesn't mean you have the health to back talk me. So have your cute black ass sit down in a seat, we are here.." Xull'rae formally and respectfully bowed to each man in the room, including the two she did not know.
Getting no greeting other than a return nod from Pharaun, something that could almost be called a polite bowing of the head. All were rushed towards the northern wall of the vast hallway. The party stepped forward, and seemingly disappeared into the wall. Apparently, it was an illusory wall of some sort. The chamber beyond was a simple, rectangular environs of stone, with naught but a large table as furnishings, surrounded by several rather plush chairs.
The Shadow Sorcerer walked to the far end, and took his place at the head of the table. Bragh sat to his right, while Solufein and Welverin to the two seats next to Bragh. The cloaked guests took seats to the left of Pharaun. With a small motioning of his hand, Pharaun indicated that Xull'rae and Horock should take up the empty seats near Welverin. The only other thing to be noted about the room was a single door, located on the eastern wall, made of some dark wood, closed at the moment.
Before sitting down, Horock nodded to each of the people in the room courteously. "For what do I owe the honor of this summons Shadow Sorceror?" The words were delivered with all courtesy, but he looked at each of the men in the room as he normally looked at everyone, with a slight amount of suspicion. He didn't think that he had anything to fear from anybody here, but you never can tell. These were after all Drow.
Xull'rae plopped in one of the chairs with an almost girlish and airy bounce and crossed her legs, her expression had nothing on it though, just marking that she was indeed a woman perhaps.
Pharaun sighed softly to himself as he caught the drowess' carefree ministrations, then simply shook it off. Still standing, he turned to Horock with that most imperious of gazes. "We will get to that shortly, Brother." He then paused, glancing slowly about the room, his eyes coming to settle at last upon the drowess, "What of your other companion, Master Xarann? Will he not be joining us?"
"Does he ever join me unless HE thinks he needs to..I guess what I'm trying to say..is..no.." Came her smooth and offhanded response.
A slight frown is offered to her, a promise of future rebuttal held within the Shadow Sorcerer's gaze as well, though all he offers at the moment is a simple nod and an even enough phrase. "Very well."
Xull'rae switches to her other leg with a nod in return no hint of a smile present though she did stare at him flatly showing him that she didn't care what he thought.
During this conversation, Horock sat there quietly, simply waiting to be addressed, as he knew this would be proper in the company of these people.
The frown deepens for a moment, then he is forced to shake it off. 'Ere turning to speak to the two guests, however, he paused and stared at Horock for a moment, his lips parting as if he were about to speak, then apparently he thought better of it, and went back to the business at hand. A single hand was proffered in the direction of said guests, whereupon they both took down their hoods. "Brothers and Sister, I called you here today to meet our newest associates and allies." His hand now motioned to the first of the two fellows, the one who had been cloaked in blue. The hood now gone, his drowic visage was now revealed to all. If not for the large, jagged scar which ran the entire width of his seemingly youthful face, the male would perhaps be rather comely, even amongst drow. Aside from the scar, however, there was a more odd and striking feature, poignant, blue eyes. A rarity among drow, much like the drowess' amber orbs, and Horock's own blue.
Like most, his well kept, lengthy hair was stark white, and his deep obsidian skin marked him drow as well. "..our first esteemed guest is the enigmatic Malag'tel. The second, to his left, is Nightcloak Duagloth Ghaun." This second drow male was of average looks and build, his white hair cropped rather short, his red orbs holding an arrogant, knowing smirk within. "As you may have guessed, if you have familiarity of such, our guests are the emissaries of Shar, goddess of the Night, and the UnderDark, and holder of many other titles as well." The fact Shar was a human goddess for the most part was left out, as Pharaun did not wish to anger his guests, or something along those lines. Both men simply nodded a greeting to the others gathered in the room for the time being.
Horock, never one to take an immediate liking to people, looked at the two drow males. "If you are from Shar, why are you here?" He asks in a tone that was not exactly rude and had a lot of respect and reverence. He was unable to determine at this time whether or not these men were a threat. He would watch them, just as he watched every other person that he did not know.
Xull'rae sat back more comfortably in her chair and offered a nod and a mysterious smile formed on her dark pretty lips. Without taking her amber colored orbs off the new arrivals she replied to Horock in a patient and lecturing tone, "Shar is ally of Vhaeraun..that means these esteemed drow will be aiding us in our endeavors to further our church and the great Lady Shar's magic in the process..they are Emissary's.."
Satisfied, Horock leans back in his chair, mumbles and apology and sits in his chair waiting for them to explain further.
"Brother Horock, you will hold your insolent tongue!" Pharaun suddenly snapped, anger quite evident upon his regal visage. Before he could say more, the drowess spoke up, and the scar-faced guest, Malag'tel, held out a hand to indicate nothing further need be said. A friendly smile coming to settle upon his countenance, quite out of place upon a drow. "Yes, the Masked Traitor speaks truth...and there is no need to hush the boy, Master Pharaun. Let him speak freely.
"As has been stated, we are just that, emissaries of the Lady Shar, Mistress of the Night. We come to nurture and strengthen recent alliances between our venerated deities. Recent being a relative term, of course."
Motioning to Pharaun, Malag'tel indicated the Shadow Sorcerer could take the floor once again. Pharaun nods, collects himself, and continues, though it is still evident he is upset with Horock's actions. "It has been decided that to strengthen ties between our respective churches, and to share what pertinent information we may to promote the greater goals we all have in common, that each church would send ambassadors of sorts to the others, in localized areas. This practice is to take on a widespread scale at a later date, though for now we have been chosen as the ones to open the doorway, and give it a "test run", if you will. Nightcloak Ghaun is here as the actual ambassador of his goddess, whilst Malag'tel is here on a more temporary basis, to carry out a few 'good faith' missions, and impart his considerable knowledge upon us 'ere he takes his leave."
That last bit of Info Xull'rae knew from "vibes" that Malag'tel's short stay was a crock of shit but she nodded wholeheartedly and gave a very convincing act that she ate and enjoyed every word said.
Pharaun took a short pause, seeming to hesitate out of the fact he did not wish to raise the ire of another present. "For our part of the bargain, we will be sending," again, the tiniest of pauses, a short frown evident upon his countenance as his gaze flickers toward Welverin, "..esteemed Brother Welverin," There came then a moment of utter silence, whilst the information settled into the unsuspecting mind of Welverin. As aforementioned cleric started to rise and opened his mouth for a retort, Pharaun made a strong motion of cutting him off, the gaze given to Welverin one of utmost resolve and coming off as something not to be questioned. Welverin hovered between sitting and standing for a moment, anger plainly evident to all present, though, having some measure of honor and respect, inasmuch as drow understood it at least, he remained silent, and seated himself once more. Pharaun sighed inwardly with relief that there would not be another scene in front of their guests. Malag'tel and his companion both remained silent, though the humor they felt at it all was scarcely concealed, their grins being all to evident.
As Horock continues to listen, he realizes, as Xull did, that Malag'tel would be staying much longer then a while. As the Shadow Sorcerer made his announcement of who would be taking part in this "exchange" program, he began to think about what he could do to keep an eye on this peculiar drow. He thought about everything he could do, intimidation factors, surveillance, anything that he could think of. After brother Welverin sat down after he appeared to be ready to smash Pharaun across the room, Horock looked into the faces of the guests. All he saw was laughter aimed at a fellow clergy member, and this made him mad. However, he held his temper in check, on of the few times that he was ever able to do this, and continued to listen to the Shadow Sorcerer's words. He would keep an eye on Duagloth as well. No matter what it took.
Holding back snickering, Xull'rae began to file her nails with her dagger, her pretty face, changed expression to boredom to hide the coming spiels of laughter. This whole situation was crazy..but she did enjoy Pharaun having to call formality and kiss ass.
Through it all, Solufein had remained quiet, though a bit of shock at the announcement of Welverin's appointment was all too evident...the triumphant smirk which crept upon his visage was evident to any that would happen to look as well. He and Welverin had been vying for quite some time over the place of second in command, as it were, as both were on equal standing within the church. Now it appeared that Welverin was being taken out of the "race", securing Solufein's position as Pharaun's successor.
Pharaun took a deep breath and collected himself once again, and waited for all about the table to do likewise, or at least come to some semblance of civility and readiness to speak, "alright, now that the introductions have been completed, I would like to go into a bit of detail on our arrangements with Shar's church. First off, which should be obvious, there are to be no hostilities occurring between said organizations, nor any plots conceived and carried out against the other." Pharaun knew that this would not be the case, seeing as they were all drow of nature, but he had to put on the show all the same. "Second off, more particularly to this church, we are to aid Duagloth and Malag'tel directly with their endeavors in this city to whatever extent we are able. In return, they will do the same for us." He now turns to Bragh, who had also remained silent, and stoic, not revealing any like or dislike of the events which occurred thus far.
"Along those lines, comes perhaps the greatest assets we may gain from this alliance....further knowledge of the Shadow Weave, that part of the fabric of magic which Shar controls. This Tower is dedicated in large part to those Shadow Arts, and who better to impart knowledge of such than followers of the Lady of the Night herself?
"Master T'orgh and his lessors have come far in their workings of the Shadow Weave, but I'm sure there are many more secrets within which to delve. This alone will strengthen both our power, and that overall power of Shar's Weave." Again, a short pause, as if he were weighing his words. For some time, we have been trying to establish this Tower as an official School of Shadow Magics, and with this new "blood", perhaps we can finally make our dreams become a reality. The Conclave can only hold us back for so long, as they have up to this point...now, I feel we shall garner enough strength to force their hand, if it cannot be done diplomatically."
For some reason, Bragh frowns deeply whilst this particular point of conversation is held.
Futhermore, Duagloth and Malag'tel are given leave to travel about our Temple as they please, and to partake of its resources...this much I want known by and to be heeded by all of you." Addressing those of Vhaeraun's faith at the moment.
"So no bopping of heads..no plucking of noses no calling nasty names..because that would be 'hostile' right?" She was still filing her nails, her attention seemed all on her nails but she was nodding her red head as he continued on about magic.
Pharaun's ebony skin seems to darken, if such were possible. Another hateful glare is given to the drowess, though to his credit, the Shadow Sorcerer does not make another open display of displeasure. "Yes, if that is the terms in which you need to look at it." Air-headed wench was one of the many continuances Pharaun did not mouth aloud.
Looking around, Horock notices more and more of the people around the table seemed to be becoming more and more uneasy or happy with the prospect of these newcomers. Perhaps something is going on behind closed doors that I do not know about. I will just have to be careful.
Why dear Shadow Sorcerer have you been oiling your skin again..your skin seems tighter and darker than last I saw you." She looked up now looking him over with a perplexed look before turning to look at Malag'tel and his companion.
Barely able to contain a laugh, Horock leans back in his chair so that no one could see his facial expression of pure mirth.
"Forgive me if the question seemed frivolous and trivial.." Xull'rae sounded somewhat apologetic as she continued, ."but it is what I do at times around here and I wanted made clear that I in no way want to offend. I tend to be..well too touchy for my own good you see?" She was the picture of formality and respect. It wasn't overkill she knew, let them think her an air head if they wanted.
Mirth evident on just about all visages now, Pharaun decides that it is enough, his body trembling with held in rage. Through clenched teeth, he issues out a final proclamation in the calmest tone he can muster. "You have all been apprised of the situation...now, this meeting is adjourned." With that, the Shadow Sorcerer promptly and abruptly stood, his form disappearing briskly through that single door along the eastern wall a moment later, Bragh in tow, leaving the others to do as they please.
Duagloth and Malag'tel rise in unison, offer polite, mocking bows to the remaining clergy of Vhaeraun, then depart through the illusory wall from whence they had all entered.
"Hmmm," Horock says as he looks at Xull'rae. "I wonder what is exactly going on here. There is more then what I am being told, and I have never liked that. It is a really good way to killed, and I don't feel like getting killed today."
He walks off into the tower, heading for his room. He would take a nice long nap, and get ready for whatever tomorrow would bring, whether it be plots for or against the church, or for those that still hunted him.
Xull'rae rises slowly and mocks the two men in a mirror like pose of their bow, returning it with stunning likeness and even walked like they did, in the exact pose. "Come on Sol..walk with me..." She spoke up to the remaining but leaving Vhaerunite. "I swear no one has fun around here.."
Solufein stooped and turn to look at the pretty female, his grin widening as he takes in the drowess' words, his gaze settled upon her, and her companion who had just left, though he offered up no words.
"Will you at least walk with me esteemed second man?" She couldn't help feeling spunky it was her personality, her tone a sultry whine.
"But of course, 'milady'." Much darkly delighted humor was held in his tone, his form rising with deft grace, soft footfalls carrying him to her side. "Let us whittle the night away in idle chat and plots of daring betrayal." Came his overdramatic yet mockingly polite gesture.
Xull'rae replied, "over tea and crumpets..or blood and bone?" She gave him a disarming grin as she offered an arm to walk with. He took it with a charming smile of his own and the two left together, whispering and laughing. Though any who watched from the shadows knew this was not a courtly stroll, but two Drow mocking..the state of "courtship and love" As well as two Drow playing the "plot" game.
Meanwhile back in his room, Horock drifted off to sleep, all he could think about were the words of the shadow demon. "I will see you again..."
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