By Xullrae Zauvir
Chapter 1 - Meetings and Acquaintances (part 12)
Back at the Inn, for whatever reason, the Malaugrym apparently did not wish to take up Cogliostro's offer. The bald man waited some ten minutes upon his personal deck within the "twin" taprooms, each of those who had participated in said battle were scried upon, and his next course of action was decided.
Of the Malaugrym, even his magical prowess could not discern..which caused him to be wary, as apparently said creature of Shadow had magic's superior to his own. Of the remainder, it was determined that Xull'rae and Horock currently had returned to the Tower of the Masked Mage; the Bladesinger, Vesz'aun, had been whisked away, caught up in the shadow demon's teleportation spell, along with a certain drowess who'd intruded upon the scene, hidden from the others during the battle, was now taken care of. With Vesz'aun still asleep and Chessintra transported back to Menzoberranzan with no memory of what happened and nothing to show for her journey to Sshamath. Cogliostro suspected that Chessintra would be out of the way, at least for awhile.
For now, his form rose, and casually strode to the poorer of the taprooms, wherein he'd sensed that the disguised Yuan-ti Halfblood had roamed. Perhaps it was time to have a short discussion, and see what could be brought about. They were already more or less forced to work together, might as well make the most of it in so far as he was concerned.
Coming to the bottom of his personal stairs, hands clasped idly behind his back as usual, that oak brown gaze swept across the room, intent on finding his quarry.
Drazoul was sitting at a table waiting for Xull'rae and Horock to return while he sipped some water. The disguise he wore was starting to bother him. He did feel in his element under the disguise, he took it on many times but it did not always turn to benefit him and on many occasions nearly cost him his life.
Cogliostro's search was not an overly long one, as the disguised Halfblood was one of the few patrons seated alone at this time. Motioning to one of the comely female human waitresses, this one petite of build, with long tresses of slightly curled, soft brown hair pulled up in a bun. He silently bid her to have Drazoul come up to the deck. Once that was done, he turned and walked back up as casually as he had come. Taking his usual seat at the central table, he awaited the arrival of the Assassin. His mind scanning the environs for any useful tidbits of thought and intrigue that may be happening.
The waitress carried out the orders, coming to Drazoul's table promptly, passing on the short message, assuring the male that he would have a drink waiting, then she went about her business once more, heading to the next table of patrons.
Drazoul stared as the female approached he was not overly worried but he still was ready at slightest unwanted motion the lady might make. He listened as she told him about the odd humans summons. He wondered what the human could want. He went over to where she told him to go.
A small motion was offered to Drazoul by Cogliostro as he approached the table upon the deck, indicating for him to take a seat. "Drazoul, was it?"
Drazoul nodded. "It is," his voice was stone cold. Before he took a seat across from the human he dispelled his enchantment and spoke again, "there's no need for this disguise you can see right through it." In his true form, he was well built and had very reptilian features. His head was that of a snakes. It was green with intricate black markings which covered his body.
Taking a glass of amber-hued liquid to hand, Cogliostro replied in an even enough tone, allowing a polite half smile to settle upon his visage. "Yes, admittedly, the magic's are easy enough to see through. Now, you and I, through our varied companions, are going to be spending more time than either of us would perhaps like together. So, rather than continue to be at each others throats on a constant basis, perhaps we can come to some sort of a business agreement, wherein you will work for me willingly, and be recompensed with a salary and a percentage of any treasures I may have you seek."
An amused smile spread the Yuan-ti's face, if indeed it could be called that, as the human spoke. In the very same tone the human used, Drazoul also replied, "Why human I would never seek your throat perhaps I have ambitions but I am no fool and would never seek your life as long as you do not bother me or kill Horock." Drazoul's smile only grew wider at the mention of the humans relationship with his friend. "As for your proposition I have no place to stay so I shall consider this home or no deal. Also I serve another group," he raises his claw like hand, a ring was on his right fore finger. The ring was small, with a finely cut black stone which is pressed into an emerald green background and has a design of a snake biting another snake and the other biting the one biting it and they form a circle each biting the others tail.
Cogliostro nodded, taking mental note of the ornate ring which was held aloft, his own polite smile then widens, and a soft dismissing motion is made. "No need to brandish that here, it is of little concern to me. Though there may be others around who would take a different view. Now, back to the business at hand. Free room and board would be part of the deal, so yes, your demand would be met. However, that does not include alcoholic drinks, those you must pay for on your own, as I do run a business here, and bill payments must be met." He takes a slight pause, sipping from his liquid filled crystal glass, "and believe me, Saer Drazoul, this proposition is more for your benefit than mine."
Cogliostro's mind went back to the symbol upon the ring a moment longer, some tale he'd once heard concerning such playing upon the tip of his thoughts, yet eluding him for the moment.
Drazoul kept his smile and nodded his head in agreement and added, "I do not drink unless special occasions so I hope, I do not hinder your economic position and I hope that my services may help. As for who this benefits we shall see."
Smiling broadly, yet closed lipped now, Cogliostro nods. "Aye, that we shall."
Turning his gaze towards the window for a moment, he then sets the glass down, and stands. "Now, if you will excuse me, the particulars of your salary will have to wait. I will inform the staff on my way out that you are to be given a room and meals. It is my hope that you find the accommodations suitable. Fair evening to you." Inclining his head once in departure, Cogliostro then turns, heading towards the offices located on the western end of the deck.
Drazoul stops the human for one moment, seeming slightly confused. "Fair enough human. Have you a name that I might call you? or will human do?"
Pausing, turning just enough to glance over his shoulder, he offers yet another business-like smile thinking the Yuan-ti forgetful, but nonetheless replied, "Cogliostro would be preferred." He pauses a moment longer, the smile broadening a bit, though more to himself than to Drazoul. He motions to a table down below, "now I believe you have a caller, seated near the hearth downstairs." That said, he turns to leave once more.
Drazoul was rather puzzled with Cogliostro and when the human told him someone was waiting for him he right away assumed it Horock. He decided to celebrate his newfound job and stopped the lady who had earlier served him and asked her to bring two spiced wines towards the hearth and gave her the amount it cost and an extra gold coin as a tip. He then got up and went to greet Horock.
The waitress shot him a wink, and went to do his bidding, gladdened by the gracious tip. Upon his arrival at the appointed location, however, it was not Horock whom his eyes fell upon. Rather, one of his drowic connections within this city, a fellow who went by the name of Nadal Dalael.
Drazoul knew him by another name, and by a truer form, but this was the one that was most often presented, and most often used. Nadal was at the moment, without his usual Vhaeraunian clerical garb, wearing simple clothing of dark purples and blues at the moment, his long, white hair unbound, allowed to fall free upon his cloaked shoulders, crimson orbs taking in the scenery on a constant basis, so that no tidbit of possible information would escape his notice.
Drazoul was taken back by the sight of one he knew well. Though he knew him in a much rather different form. He stood a few feet in front of the drow in disguise just a measure of safety from the always wary drow.
Drazoul bowed slightly and sat beside him. "Ah Nadal it has been such a long time!" His tone pleasant, keeping his expression friendly. Faking not being surprised more for the outside then Nadal himself. "Care for a drink?
Nadal nodded in response to the offer, "greetings, Drazoul..." He offered a small bow of his head to Drazoul, a last glance was taken around the room, then his attention was turned fully to the Halfblood, the waitress who now laid their drinks upon the table largely ignored.
"I had not thought you would return to this city for some time to come, as it indeed has been so long," commented Nadal as he took the drink and sipped it gingerly, almost as if he wasn't that thirsty.
Drazoul turned to the waitress and thanked her then turned his attention to the drow. "Yes I have returned and for a more permanent stay much has changed since we last met and much must be discussed. Have you anything you need to know?"
The waitress left promptly, offering a friendly smile as she went on her way, well accustomed to being ignored by a large number of the patrons who came through here on a daily basis. Nadal waited until the woman was out of earshot, then offered a nod to his companion. "More knowledge is something that I am always interested in. And indeed, it would be well for us to discuss such matters as you speak of. This visit, however, is intended for a singular purpose, which unfortunately must be carried out with some measure of haste, lest the human return and pry upon our meanderings."
Drazoul nods fully understanding as he was trained as an assassin he knew he had to get straight to business. "Shall we stay here and discuss this matter or leave?"
Nadal shrugged, "hm, we may walk the streets and converse if you wish, perhaps there would be less prying upon our spoken thoughts if we did so." His glass was taken to hand, then promptly drained, though it was done with some measure of dignity.
Drazoul nodded, rose from his seat and did not drain his cup, he would have much rather enjoyed it but since he had such impending business he just left it there.
If any eyes had lingered upon their forms too long as they left, neither man took notice. The street outside was alive with activity, but not overly crowded, since this was not exactly the best district in town.
Having no particular destination at this time, and wishing to buy more space between himself and the Darkwoods, Nadal began to stroll casually northward, in the general direction of the bazaar before conversation started once more. "So you say this stay will be an extended one?"
Now that he was on the streets again Drazoul took a more cautious manner and touched the hilts of his daggers just for reassurance and for an extra measure pulled out his onyx dog which Nadal was familiar with. "Let's just say complications have forced me to move from my homeland and take a residence here for the time being." His voice was very cold and he looked straight ahead and not at Nadal.
"Hm, very well, I'll not delve into the reasoning. The fact you will be here for some time is what is of interest to me." He pauses in his speech, if not his movement, for a brief time realizing something terrible must be stalking the Yuan-ti for him to come down here, but continued without questions. "I have need of your services...and of course, as always, I will perform return services as the need and want arises. Though, however, this is not an assignment of murder. Not yet, at any rate."
Though Drazoul did not have eyebrows the area where he would have had eyebrows had he been human raised in interest. He was rather disappointed that he would not be used in missions that did require death, but none the less there were gains to be made from this deal. "And what will you have me do?" He spoke the magic word and his dog materialized to offer extra protection from unwanted enemies.
Nadal took a moment to gaze upon the sorcerous dog, letting one of his slender hands fall to the creature, and an absent scratching of the dogs ears was performed, 'ere he continued on with the conversation. "There are certain dealings currently going on between Vhaeraun's church, and that damnable human. It is easy enough for me to keep apprised of what information I wish within the Tower, but I am unable to carry out my ministrations within the human's establishment. He can see me for who and what I am, and thus my attempts at deception and information gathering will always be foiled. I have need of you to be my eyes and ears within said place of ill repute, so that I may take in the entirety of what these Vhaeraunian/human dealings are."
Drazoul's disappointment turned to relief as he realized the implications of what he would have to do if it were in fact a killing type of mission and he had no wish to engage in combat with the powerful human. He thought of what Nadal wanted him to do and asked, "so you want me to be your spy?"
Nadal turned to hush him and replied in whispered tones, "yes, in the most basic of terms, that is all I ask at this time." Again, he pauses for a moment, then continues, "in return, for the moment, I will do what I can to assure your companion, Horock's, safety. By virtue of being thrust on that damnable, double-dealing bitch Masked Traitor at the temple, he's been thrown in with a most dangerous lot, and will fall prey to situations that I'm sure he'll take no liking of at times. And of course, any other payment you would require of me will be met."
Drazoul stares into open space for a moment deciding whether he should agree to this risky proposition but he would never turn down a contact unless there offer was absurd. "Very well, your terms are acceptable. There is one problem though. I have no means to protect myself from the mental prying of the human. As for the drowess there is nothing I can do about her she is beyond my skill and therefore I cannot dispatch of her. As long a Horock keeps a clear mind he should be fine. As for additional payment a certain amount of gold to support myself until the humans payments come in would be appreciated but if your coiffures at the moment are strained I shall ask nothing of you."
A humored and somewhat apologetic smile then creases Nadal's handsome face. "For the protecting of your thoughts, I can offer you an item that will fix that small problem...theoretically, at least. And as for the drowess, I have no need of her demise coming about at this time. Despite my personal dislike of her, she does serve her purposes within the church hierarchy rather well." He actually stops this time, and quirks a brow in Drazoul's direction. "Hm, did I hear you mention that the human would be offering you some sort of payments? For if so, that would mean you have a little information to impart on me already."
Having not the ability nor means otherwise to pry through the human's protections, Nadal was unaware of the conversation which transpired between Drazoul and Cogliostro a short while ago. "I was about to offer up coin if needed to cover the cost of your room and board at the inn, but...." He left it hanging his tone doubtful.
Drazoul snorts for a moment at Nadal's relutency to give him gold but the money was not his main goal. What he wanted to acquire was the item that would protect him from the humans mental intrusions the gold was a means to make sure he would give him the item. "Very well Nadal," he says with a sigh, "keep your gold but the item I want and it better work or else......." Now he was the one to left the words drift off, letting the implication hang in the air.
This time, the brow raised in Drazoul's direction was not accompanied by a smile. "Why, Drazoul, was that a thinly veiled threat? For I should hope not, as we are old companions and all." Pausing a moment, he then continued, "If you want coin, I am willing to offer it up. However, my interest is piqued at the fact it appears you've come to some deal with the human. This will not present a problem, will it?"
The Yuan-ti's hard expression loosens up and decides to let his voice do the same, "I am sorry old friend I meant no real offense but if the item you give me is faulty my life is on the line. My life has never depended on the quality of an item so I am a bit edgy. As for the gold, keep it. Your being so close and so well connected is a great payment itself. Will my agreement have any problem? Not at all! The human is too secretive, working for him could be dangerous my loyalty lies with my connections."
As an afterthought Drazoul adds in, "I do have some information so far on the human." Nadal simply nods once and remains silent, awaiting for the Halfblood to continue.
"I'm sure you already know the human is more then just a simple owner of a tavern earning an honest wage." Drazoul smirks and continues his tone laced with anger, "Horock and I were attacked by a shadow demon and some odd creatures that were not affected by my daggers," He pauses a moment then continues once more. "Though I'm not convinced the human sent those creatures after us, he must have been connected to them in some way."
Nadal nods his expression pleased with the information. "Hm, interesting, and perhaps will prove useful in future. I had known the human uses the Inn as a front for smuggling operations, black market-type acquisitions and sells of magic items, and some other minor 'criminal' infractions, but I've never gleaned anything of the likes you've mentioned."
Before Drazoul could respond, Nadal continued, "Well, at any rate, worry not that the item you will receive won't live up to the task. I have one on my person at the moment, for my own employ, and I've yet to find a being able to pierce through its protections." Once again he gives a slight pause, and a thoughtful frown. It will, of course, take me a day, or two at most, to acquire the item. Thus, you should perhaps try to avoid the human as much as possible between now and then."
Drazoul graciously bows to his companion. "I thank you greatly! Remember we are in a very dangerous situation you must be very careful too."
Something akin to a warm smile creases that drowic visage, and a respectful nodding of his head is offered to Drazoul. "As always I use the utmost caution. For now, we must part ways. I will contact you soon, and the item shall be delivered as early as possible."
Drazoul nods then turns in the direction of the inn, while Nadal heads in the opposite direction.
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