By Xullrae Zauvir
Chapter 1 - Meetings and Acquaintances (part 14)
Cogliostro was in his office. The weapon master had a sixth sense when it came to things like tracking. However he was not hunting the man, he was merely going to report to the Bald one.
The stocky man had no trouble locating him in his secret chamber. Matter of fact, he slipped right in, through the wards. They folded for him easily. Deathly silent as usual he waited for the other man to acknowledge him.
There were some long moments of rummaging about the cluttered shelves of the vault's interior 'ere it dawned on Cogliostro that he had a visitor. A decided frown settled upon his ageless countenance as his form spun round slowly, searching for the transgressor. Said frown deepened as the hulking, brawny figure known in these parts as Cyrus, came to view.
Sighing inwardly, his leather clad hands closed the lid of an ornately decorated box, producing a slight yet echoing bang. The middling sized container was then pulled from the shelves and kept in hand as he strode towards the doorway which led back to his office proper, his words intended for the tracker, despite never looking at the man as he left. "I see now why you flabbergast her so much at times. Anyway, I'm sure your presence here heralds some report of misfortune. By all means, enlighten me."
Cyrus followed the man like a dutiful soldier on guard, as they headed for the office. The blonde man did not question what the other man meant, instead he went right to his report in a calm matter of fact tone that was forever his deep voice. "The winged one is getting out of hand, or rather that living weapon is. It's slowly consuming him, he and it have a like mind to kill Selena and have already tried, subtly for now."
Setting the box down upon his favored desk, the frown deepens yet again, if such a thing is possible. "Well, nothing like getting straight to the point." Now that oak brown gaze spins towards the large observation window, soft footfalls carrying him ever closer. Before replying further, his gaze settles upon the Bladesinger across the way for a few moments, then sweeps the establishment as a whole, at least that part which can be viewed from this particular roost. His mind paid not much attention to anything that fell within view, however, as it was deliberating on the more important matter which just came to his attention.
Finally, he turns back to the blonde haired warrior, the frown replaced now by a look of singular determination. "I will waste not words on the matter here and now. You and my broodling can discuss that on the way to retrieve the girl." It was an order as much as anything, one he knew the large man would follow, as both men knew the stake of the situation. "I will have Brynn fetch her, and give word that she is to meet you at the Shop. For now, I have some other matters to attend." With that, he spun once more, allowing his booted feet to carry him towards the deck once again.
"She is safe for now, I have seen to it personally, she is with her mother in the cube that is my true essence, no one can get out or in unless I allow it, but I need not state the peril surrounding the area." The big man nodded and preceded to do what was needed, leaving Cogliostro there alone.
A pause is taken just inside the doorway of the ruined stone building, his blue-grey gaze surveying the storm-ridden, cursed landscape for some long moments. Absently, a stray lock of golden hue is brushed aside, then summarily tucked neatly beneath the tattered gray cowl which would partially protect him from the errant elements.
Another motion is then made, this one quite intentional, leather clad, calloused hands fiddling with the sword belt round his waist, removing the blade therein. When finally the scabbard blade hung casually yet securely within the grasp of his right hand, his booted feet stepped forth into the muck beyond that threshold, which once comprised a busy street. A slight frown of irritant creased his features as the cold, driving rain began its relentless hammering upon his form, though it was borne as much from the fact he could not find the one he was to meet in the rain itself.
Amidst the blackness, as lightening streaked the sky, a demonic form soared in the skies, circling an illuminated building in the distance.
The blonde man was all very familiar with this scene, but what caught his eye was another building some paces away almost literally hidden by a tiny grove of trees surrounding it, the little thing looked like it would fall over in this wind, it looked old but somewhat out of place in these dismal ruins.
A single brow arched in surprise as the ramshackle hut, for lack of a better way to describe it, came to view. Indeed it struck him as most odd, as he has come to know this ruined landscape like the back of his hand, and never once had such a building been here before now. Scratching idly at the ever-present stubble upon his cheek for a moment, he allowed his gaze to sweep the landscape once more, quickly and warily. An inward curse was given, directed at the fact he dared not use any magic's this close to "ground zero".
In the time and place from which he'd just come, the effects of what now universally transpired had not yet come to bear, but here...well, best not to waste time dabbling in such thoughts. As those twin pools of bluish-grey came to bear upon the shack once again, it occurred to him that his large companion would probably be found there now, investigating much as he now intended to do. His path determined, he began the tedious trek through that ankle deep muck, scowling all the way, as the unavoidable sloshing and squelching noises were offering him no chance at a stealthy approach. At least a very limited chance, as the pouring rain offered its own small bit of noise to conceal his movements.
"No need," came a soft voice seeming to come from the building but everywhere at once. "nothing here can harm you, or wants to, they are all occupied with her. The child is safe there. The Guardian is there with her, waiting for you Darius."
The gray cloaked man was caught a bit off guard by the voice, but the only outward sign of such was a tightening of his grip upon his trusted bastard sword. Until such time as his real name was "spoken" aloud. At that point, he did make a decided halt of movement, his gaze narrowing, concentrating upon the hut which was but a few scant yards away now.
A handful of heartbeats passed as he assessed the situation, and his choices. Then, in his usual come-what-may style, he allowed his form to relax some, and continued on his way. As far as he could figure, it couldn't hurt to find out if the voice was truthful, and so far no reason had been given to make him think the speaker meant any harm. Even so, he switched the scabbard blade from right to left, ready to draw it if need be as he reached the ramshackle building, and searched out an entrance.
"I understand your unease, you can only be what you are, and trust is a frail thing." To the eye there was no entrance, until he dared to search with his hand. Upon touching the stone a doorway appeared and opened itself, admitting him entry if he so desired. It appeared dark and empty inside.
"Mm hmm...." The grunted phrase seemed to hold a distant, absent tone, betraying the fact he was paying more attention to the building and what lay within that darkness than withholding any sort of conversation at this point. He had no real recourse to scan the area with magic's, and felt like not taking the time to scour the entryway the old fashioned way, so with a small leap of faith, he stepped forth into the murk.
Upon the first footstep the whole area illuminated in dull light as candles lit on the walls, the interior was just as plain as the outside, no tapestries and no carpet laid within, it was just bare wall and floor, so everything echoed eerily, the room itself looked like it could only hold twenty people or less and the only thing that was to be seen was a set of steps, an alter with a strange symbol above it, and a brightly blue robed figure sitting in the center of the alter in a "ring" of candles.
The door behind him did not close, but neither did the sound of the rain or feel of the cold wafted in this place. In fact it felt odd, yet familiar here. Like it was something he should know but could not place what it was.
To outward appearance, he took the situation in stride, slowly lowering his soaked hood to reveal the conusance, and the shock of unruly golden hair which resided beneath. Inwardly, however, he could not help but try and solve the mystery of that odd feeling of familiarity which eluded his grasp by but a thread. Feeling it rude to bear his weapon in such a place, and having the notion that it would do him no good anyway against that blue cloaked form which resided within, he propped his blade against the door frame. Besides, he had other recourses in the ways of combat, if the need truly arose.
The fact his form was creating a puddle upon the floor, and that his boots were leaving a mess of their own was lost on him, as his curious gaze began to regard the mysterious figure with some deliberate intent at this point. The voice, and clothing, painted the form a feminine one to him, but to simply gaze upon its features otherwise, he would not have been sure, as it was draped in such a way as to almost completely conceal any sort of features.
If he was not so intent on the shrouded one, he would've seen his wet puddle and mud disappear from his clothes and the floor within moments after he stopped. The figure he studied however, showed nothing and conveyed nothing. No arrogance, no malice, no kindness, no sadness, no power, not even the residue of magic was detected. In all aspects this enigma was as plain as the building in which they both now resided. So why was his curiosity so piqued? As Empathic as he was, it was the first time Darius ever felt true detachment besides his curiosity. He could watch a massacre of loved ones right now and not even care, and wasn't worried about not caring. It was a very strange feeling, much like this whole place, familiar yet so foreign at the same time, and try as he might to figure it out, he could not, curiosity was the only standing emotion.
Still heedless that he no longer tracked mud, nor dripped water, he moved forward, coming closer to the solitary figure, coming to rest a respectful distance from the ring of softly illuminating candles. His gaze fell upon the stairwell for a moment, then he shifted those twin pools of blue back to the enigmatic being. "Okay, my curiosity is piqued by this whole situation but even more so as to why you, whoever you are, have come here? Heralded by the Lady, perhaps?" He referred to the one who now lay dormant within a building not far from here, which was surrounded by a veritable storm of the dead.
"I am here because of you..." Came the soft reply, "you are troubled and seek answers. She on the other hand, I cannot reach, she has splintered into fragments and death already knows all..it just simply waits to be free. It does not need me." The voice seemed to have a tone of knowing the truth of the entire situation.
"Hmm...oookay then." As usual, when troubled, he used shruggish mannerisms and speech to assuage it somewhat, "so, yes, I am troubled, like so many other beings in the multiverse. Guess I'm just blessed more than most for all this to be imparted upon me. Anywho, you mentioned something about answers...."
"Blessed..." The blue robed figure said, the tone used, mused over that word, "yes in a way..you are, you are a nobleman's son some would see that as blessed. You are, or were one of the Guardians of the one who would destroy us all, and you are a Chosen of Mystra. On your world she is the Goddess of Magic, the Mistress of the Weave. That is three times blessed, or cursed depending on how you yourself view your life."
"Those answers I already know." Indeed, the more troubled he became with the situation, the more he slipped into his off-handed and somewhat sarcastic routine. He never did feel comfortable around beings who seemed to hold all the control in a given situation, and this time was no different. "Now, as I agree those are all true and valid answers, and both of us know them, perhaps you would be so kind as to impart on me some answers I do not have."
"Where should we start first? Personal matters as to who you marry next, or your next child? Perhaps business matters? Will Zartenoth rise again? Perilous matters such as will death return? Will the one you guarded reawaken? Or maybe universal questions such as what lies beyond death? How many stars are in the sky and what makes a rainbow?"
"Ookay, let's see,I don't plan to marry again, I'd rather not think about what wench pops out my next brat. I know what makes a rainbow, who gives a shit how many stars are in the sky, and I've been dead a few times, so got that one covered too. Hm, guess that leaves questions as to what happens with this place, and the woman which lay at its center."
He paused seeming to contemplate something before speaking again. "Er, I would like to know why women are they way they are, if we get time to cover that one."
"What you plan and what will be can be totally separate in that regard. As for Zartenoth it will be restored but it will take years and regarding the fate of the Lady she can be restored. How long depends on those searching for her fragments and the time it will take on finding them. To your last question, women are a part of men, in which man has been stuptified by and therefore cannot hope to understand them. Sorry I cannot be very clear on that but you are not really meant to fully understand them. Just love them and complain like you always do."
"Oh, complaining I got down pat, and not too shabby at making love either...and so.... You've not answered as to whether or not we WILL restore the Lady. Is this something not set in the universal concrete?"
"You will restore the lady yes that is concrete. Death is another matter not yet set."
"Mm, well then," though he spoke in a most off hand and irreverent manner, the "oracle's" words were quite well noted, and weighed upon, "can you tell me if anyone will ever manage to pull that stick out of Aidan's ass?"
"Others will contribute to her restoration, he is one of them. As for him gaining emotions yes it will happen and when it does he will depart this world."
"Oy, lotta good it will do him then, no use gettin' 'em if ya can't relish in 'em."
"Who it will be has not factored yet. Opinions vary. I only answer, I do not debate."
Darius now strides a few steps closer, and crouches down into a more comfortable position, relaxing somewhat, though the look upon his countenance becoming a bit more serious, however. "Yes, of course...If I may, milady, I've a question that is not so much an asking of prophetic answer: Can Soulreaver be destroyed? And if not, can it be 'imprisoned'?"
Being this close he can see eyes blink slowly as the question is asked, but as to what definite shape or color they were, even the color of skin could not be determined. "SoulReaver is a weapon of destruction itself therefore no it cannot be finished off, but such as all things and beings it can be quelled and trapped, but time, will once again release it."
"So you've already answered that it can be trapped, if only for a time."
"Yes," the figure nods, "until its Master returns or it finds a new one."
"Well, I thank you for that much, and I'll not be so bold as to ask ye the how of it...the brawny one and I will figure that much out on our own." He gazed then intently upon the eyes which he could not quite make out, having just asked a question without asking, and now searched for an answer.
The veil rippled as a nod was given but not even a glimmer of features showed itself still. "My eyes are depthless and are without any definite color."
"Mm, aye, so I've gathered." He returned the nod, having gotten the answer he was looking for, that it was indeed up to him and his companion to figure out how to trap Soulreaver, and that they would figure it out. Now, he only hoped it was sooner than later, as the boy was already being corrupted with ever-growing power.
"Uriel is vengence," the figure spoke, perhaps reading his thoughts though he felt no intrusion despite him also having the gift. It continued to speak, "he is a husk..not a child, that is only his appearance his true self is as deep and endless as the void itself. He has a wound that cannot be healed and with each passing breath and day it festers. Making him rage all the more."
His leg began to fall asleep, perched as he was, and so his form then stood once more, and again, a nod was offered to the feminine humanoid, figuring it a sufficient reply at this point. The point about the boy had been easy enough to discern, and it would definitely not be forgotten.
Once more the blue robed figure spoke, "those that fight him, he will win over eventually, those that love him, he will hate and they will be pained, those that will pity him will watch him grow, and those that hate him will become him. Be careful not to feel much of anything toward him, for either way you will feed him."
"Sound advice indeed...I shall take heed of it. For now, however, I must take my leave...the girl needs to part ways with this cursed land for now. Perhaps I can offer her some relative safety whilst we do what must needs be done." He paused, looking rather concerned then shrugged it off with a shake of his head. "Then again, perhaps that is just hopeful thinking...either way, I will try."
"No it is she who will give you safety..." The voice from the figure was neutral and cryptic.
At that, traces of a warm natured grin crease his visage. "Aye, somehow I can buy into that." He pauses now to regard the enigmatic one for a long moment, wishing he had more time to converse, and perhaps glean some more answers. Then again, its not always best for one to know what is, and what is to come. A respectful nodding of his head, almost a bow, is offered to it. "You have my most heartfelt gratitude, wise one." He didn't even ask as to where the girl and her uncle were at the moment. Somehow, he knew they would meet up soon enough.
"We shall meet again, my part in all this is not yet done. May you stay protected Darius and may the Creator shine his warm light upon you and your goddess." The voice became a soft murmur now, echoing off the wooded walls.
'Ere stepping towards the door, he once again offers a simple nod of acknowledgment and parting. His scabbard blade is taken to hand, and the cowl of his cloak brought to bear yet again as he steps forth into the storm-ridden landscape. His thoughts racing over the entire conversation that just transpired, and on what must be done in the very near future.
As Darius steps outside all light that was there snuffed out, letting blackness reign and the door dissolved into smooth stone.
Despite all the matters of importance at hand, a simpler thought made its way to the fore for a moment...the oracle had implied he would marry again. He didn't know whether to be scared or joyed at the thought at this point. Then, it was shoved back into the recesses of his mind, much like his boots were being shoved into the muck once more. "Couldn't evil be bright, sunny, and cheerful for a change?" He mused softly to himself as the downpour soaked his form for the second time this night.
As he trudged on if he happened to look back at the tiny stone building, it was gone. Not even an impression of it was left in the mud, it was as if it had never been there. He was not surprised in the least to find it had disappeared. "Ahh, yet another of those mysteries I must solve 'ere passing into Oblivion. Right behind the one about why women feel compelled to spend all my money." Now was the time to collect Cyrus and the little Selena and bring them to the treacherous Underdark, to the only safe haven he knew, The Vengeful Weave Inn.
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