By Xullrae Zauvir
Chapter 2 - The Web Begins to Weave (part 7)
Upon leaving the abandoned cityscape, they had both arrived at the Inn, whereupon Cogliostro had given her a set of keys and instructed one of the servants to take her to the luxury suite that was now hers for in so long as she wanted. That done, he left Xull'rae to herself for a couple hours, so that she could take her bath if she so desired, and he could carry out a few more tasks that were in need of doing, one of which was gathering up the rest of the group and bringing them back here as well.
The others had been left to their own devices as well. Whilst he carried out the self-appointed duties, his thoughts continued to race upon the looming threat of Malag'tel. There were things he'd gleaned about the infamous wanderer that he had yet to share with those in his employ, but he felt they had no need to know of such things at the moment. All in due time. For now, however, he had more business to discuss with Xull'rae, so when two hours had finally passed, he went to knock upon her door.
The answer for him to come in was given, it sounded clear despite the closed door. When he opened to step within the room, it was a rare site, one he was likely to never see again unless scried upon. For Xull'rae was very much the woman right now and was doing what women did best, grooming in front of a mirror. Sitting in a chair, bare legs crossed, her body of course was covered in a dark green silk bathrobe, it clinging slightly to her still damp skin. At the moment she was brushing her very long wet hair. It touched the floor from her sitting position, and the green fabric she wore was very eye catching, going well with her red hair and amber colored eyes. She appeared quite concentrated on her hair more than him at the moment.
In his usual business-like manner, Cogliostro strode forward, stopping just inside the doorway. A single brow arching as he caught sight of her, for indeed he had not really ever expected to see the Drowess in such a manner. Hadn't even really crossed his mind often before, her basic femininity that is. Bringing his hands to rest idly in a clasped position behind his back as he was often wont to do, traces of a humored grin etched themselves upon his features, though he doubted she would notice, so wrapped up in that fiery mane of hair as she was. "My, my, mayhaps I'll have to do this more often. This is one of those rare moments where I can understand the Bladesinger's obsession with you. Take that as a compliment, as that is how it is meant." He stepped fully into the room, and closed the door behind him, though he made no further move inward after that, standing idle whilst she finished doing her "womanly stuff."
"Mmm hmm taken." She gave him a wry smirk in the mirror. "Speaking of him is he still preoccupied?" She stood and started working on her hair, to put it back in it's knotted top knot ponytail.
"Mm, yes, I believe he is almost always preoccupied with you." His gaze swept idly about the room, after allowing himself a long look at her form as she stood, of course. She did have a shapely body. "But if you were referring to whether I'm still keeping him busy elsewhere, yes."
Xull'rae studied him in the mirror, her pretty face was amused and not in the least bit abashed he was being so lewd. In fact she was enjoying it. He might be human, but it was nice to be looked at by someone other than Vesz'aun for a change, though she would never admit it. "I'm guessing you have no wife, or perhaps you are the type to look at anything female that has anatomy to her?"
He was still looking her over, when her voice buzzed in his ears. "Hm?" He turned his oak-brown orbs back in her direction, a mockingly puzzled look upon his visage, his grin widening just the least bit. For reasons not to be mentioned, he ignored the wife comment. "Oh, I am but a humble male underneath it all, and as such I am wont to gaze upon beauty when I come across it, just like any other male." He grinned as he added in, "that, and I like the wet look."
She finished tying her mane the way she wanted it and tossed it over her shoulder, now looking at him. "Well take a bath once and awhile and you can get that look too.." She smiled softly. It made her all the more beautiful. A man could loose himself in such.
He was no fool, however and knew that smile held layers of hidden meanings, she was Drow too, never could forget that, unless he wanted to come to harm or even death. "Touche." His grin turned to a politely humored smile at that point. "So, need another hour to finish? I know all this primping takes considerable time." He wasn't teasing, he couldn't if he wanted to. He had many women and none were ever speedy dressers.
Xull'rae shook her head and laughed softly. "No I'm fine my armor is already underneath, thank you though..I suppose now business can be discussed?"
He nodded. "Indeed it can be." Allowing the smile to portray a further moment of humor, he looked her over one last time, not seeming ashamed in the least, before turning about and opening the door. "If you would come with me, our business needs to be discussed elsewhere."
She discarded her robe draping it on the chair, grabbing her piwafwi and wrapped it around her as a replacement and without a sound, followed him.
Once in the more or less private hallway, this one reserved for employee suites only, he opened one of his trademark, shimmering blue portals, waiting for her to step through before entering himself. Their arrival point was simply another darkened passage of smoothed stone, a glorified tunnel more or less. Ahead there were a few torches lining the walls, and without pause he began to stride in that direction. "I have already revealed to you what your church plans to do, in regard to using you and your family name in Menzo. They have employed my help in the matter, as I stated. However, I strive to go one step beyond that which they have required of me in the ways of help. But, as I don't really care for them, I am revealing that which lay ahead to you and you alone at this time. If you wish to share what you will learn, that choice is yours to make."
With her hood down, her expression was clearly curious. "So why tell me?"
Cogliostro shrugged lazily. "Because, despite all our differences, you have thus far proved the most cooperative with me in our combined endeavors. When presented with such, I like to return the favor, so to speak, when I am able. What lay ahead has more to do with you than anyone else in question, anyway."
She was intrigued. "Alright sounds interesting" Her tone conversational and curious. Little moments like this let her be able not to be so like the nature of her kin. Of course she was not off her guard, just more tolerable making her quite the friendly sort in not having to act older or more devious than what she usually was, besides she did trust the human a little, but even now she would never depend on him for anything.
"Mm, indeed it may be of interest. Ah, here we are." They came past the first torch, him knowing that the illumination would not bother one of Vhaeraun's faithful, so he made no move to quench it as they strode past it and rounded a corner, into a passage which forked left. This passage was much shorter than the previous one, only going some fifty feet until it ended. A few doors apparent on both sides at evenly spaced intervals, all closed. It was to the second one on the right which they went to, the door opening upon mental command as they arrived. This time, however, he did not beckon her to go in before him...matter of fact, he made a motion for her to wait where she stood. Striding in casually enough, she could soon see him come to an abrupt halt just inside the doorway, something obviously having caught his attention, as his body tensed suddenly, hands swinging apart from their clasp, his head darting quickly to both sides, a deep frown evident were she to be looking.
For a brief moment, due to the fact that the human suddenly, and deftly, leaped out of sight to the right side, she could catch a glimpse of a familiar figure straight ahead, seemingly suspended upon the far wall of the room's interior, that of her personal paramour, Vesz'aun. That was quickly obscured, however, as a gigantic, dark gray arm of well muscled proportions darted into view, a long, taloned hand at its fore, the tips of which sunk into the stone floor where the human had stood a moment earlier. There also came apparent wisps of long, snowy white hair for a brief heartbeat, 'ere she heard both the human, and another, more bestial thing, issue growls of challenge and frustration. There was another blur of movement, as whatever creature the arm belonged to obscured the doorway completely, and was summarily driven back by an unseen force. A moment later, the human strode purposefully across the doorway, towards where the creature had been thrown back, a definite scowl upon his countenance, his tone still that of a low growl as he spoke to Xull'rae. "You can come in now." He muttered a string of curses, and then growled out, "Damnable idiot." Xull'rae could surmise that the latter phrase was not meant in reference to herself.
She chuckled low, "are you sure? If my studies are correct from what scant views I've seen and the power displayed within..that's a Draegloth in there..." There was no fear in her tone, rather complete interest.
"Mm, aye, you are correct in that much. And it's quite safe now, I assure you." His tone was more of a controlled one now, the angered growl gone.
She enters silently, slowly not in caution but in concentration, studying the place, drinking in every detail as she looked around. Her amber colored eyes rested on Vesz'aun with no expression. "Nice to see you my Bladesinger..I wasn't aware you like to be hung, I'll have to try that to you sometime," she didn't laugh but she did give a disarming smile that was utterly charming as she finished talking.
She found the rest of the room to be nothing more than a glorified holding cell. There were some amenities, such as a large table strewn with papers and tomes of all sorts. A large bookshelf filled with another couple dozen tomes and a gigantic bed as well, but all in all in still came off as a prison. When her gaze had swept momentarily towards where the human now stood, she caught a glimpse of the four armed monstrosity now pinned against the wall much like Vesz'aun's form. It appeared much as she had been given descriptions of during her lifetime, the elongated maw drowic, yet demonic and filled with razor-sharp teeth at the same time, topped by a flowing mane of snowy white, which seemingly continued part way down its broad, leanly muscled back. The outer, larger set of arms were quite massive, much as the failed attack upon the human scant moments ago had revealed, with the second, smaller set of arms settled slightly below the first set being not much larger and muscled than her own. Despite the fact the creature was now at the human's mercy, it still came off as a rather imposing figure...the snarls of frustration and rage it kept emitting as it struggled to get free only blended to that imagery.
When she had turned to address the Bladesinger with that disarming smile, she was finally situated closely enough to notice he was not in any state to respond at the moment. In fact, one could not even tell if he were even alive right now, were it not for the constant mixture of blood and drool which seeped from his lips, which in turn kept trying to formulate words, though nothing came out but garbled wheezes. The fact that a large puncture would all but gave her a clear picture of the lung within his right breast could have large part to do with that. The entrails which were halfway spilled out of his abdomen, hanging nearly to his knees whilst suspended by metal spikes through his hands and shoulders didn't help his current state either.
"Hmmm..I see I'll have to tend to you in a bit." She studied the spikes, curious about them. After a moment she turned her amber colored gaze to the Draegloth. "And you...are you calm enough to speak?" She was utterly calm and business like, her expression interested but otherwise held nothing else within.
"He would be if the damnable idiot had kept him drugged like he was supposed to. Bah." Cogliostro spat, still quite angered, though not quite shocked that this whole situation came about, taking into account he had entrusted Vesz'aun of all people with these duties, he exhaled a quick, deep sigh, then spun abruptly towards the Bladesinger, striding off to assess the damage, brushing past Xull'rae without another word.
In the course of such, the Draegloth was released, its form slumping downward momentarily as the magics holding it at bay were released, though true to form its natural deftness came swiftly to life, a soft landing and lightning-quick pounce bringing it to loom above the Drowess in the next heartbeat, toothy maw dripping spittle upon her as a maliciously gleeful grin crept into place, large outer claws clenching and unclenching in anticipation, the smaller set of hands already reaching towards her diminutive body. It summarily leaned in closer, sniffing her briefly, and the sneering grin fell quickly away, its head suddenly rearing back. Her words did not really even register, nor was it intimidated by her calmness, though one surely could have been. Rather, it appeared rather puzzled, almost shocked, narrowing its gaze first at the female, then at the human, then back to the female, its gravely voice finally coming to echo throughout the chamber. "What's this?? You told me that the house will ... rather had..fallen, human." Again it leaned inward, partaking of a longer sniff this time, double checking the familiarity of it. "I don't recognize you, female, but you are of my blood."
Xull'rae nodded, still surveying him intently. "Indeed I am." She flicked the drool off her piwafwi with her hand, her lips curled in slight distaste. "So are we ready for discussion now or do you still plan to eat me?" She gazed at him intently, expectantly.
"Either is fine with me." Once more the voice became a guttural growl than anything, the maw twisting into the slightest of anticipatory, and predatory, grins. "The boy-toy over there has fed my need for violence, at least for now. Speak, she-of-my-blood-whom-i-do-not-know. And keep it interesting, or I'll make you my next plaything." It looked threatening, so it was very serious.
Really now I would find that most interesting since I am that last female of our line left alive..so yes by all means loose your last chance for usefulness and perhaps the restoration of our house."
She crossed her arms, not in a gesture of peace but to keep herself fro lashing at him.
"She speaks truth, demon." Cogliostro called back, feeling the draegloth's gaze upon his back for a moment.
The Draegloth then settled its gaze upon her tiny form once again, a lusty look coming to its eye despite the situation, but it almost blatantly shook it off, getting back to the matter at hand. It stepped back a large stride, slowly, though only to assess her for the time being. After a silent moment, still seeming to doubt them both, it continued speaking, though not quite so irreverently, "I said to keep it interesting. Why would I care to restore a House which would not even own up to my existence? Much less restore one weak enough to have fallen?"
Xull'rae sighed but said, more patiently then she felt, "I'm the bored one here, frankly I don't need you and don't want you, but opportunity presented you to me and I thought perhaps you WOULD like the chance for freedom and recognition but I suppose not.." She turned away from the demon facing the bald human. "I thank you for showing him to me but I'm not interested, if you could release the Bladesinger and bring him to my chambers that is all I require, you may dispose of this..thing if you wish." It was the voice of command she used. Draegloth followed the strong and she needed to show him she was.
It issued a low, threatening growl under its breath, though it paused before it actually carried out upon the desire to strike her down. Whether it was a willful standing down or not, one would not be able to ascertain, for a moment later it slumped to the ground, quite unconscious, coinciding with the nod offered to her by the human. "I will attend the Bladesinger. And I am quite capable of doing so, despite what you may think. For now, I have need of your services elsewhere, back at the tavern. There is a certain conversation I'd like you to be privy to. As for the Draegloth, if that is your wish, I will not bother you with him again, though I believe I will keep him alive a while longer, for my studies."
pondered her options, tapping her chin with her fingers. "Keep it locked
up for now, perhaps when he awakens he will come to his senses, though I could
awaken right now with a psychic crush just to prove myself," She shrugs
in an offhand manner. "It was mothers signature move for submission and
always worked. That she make him heel and remember.
Cogliostro nodded, agreeing with her. "Mm, aye, and I will keep him alive. He would be a most useful tool, will be, once he is truly convinced of your status. As for the Bladesinger that was a bluff to show the demon that Vesz'aun was worth more than he was."
Xull'rae looked over Vesz'aun intently, weighing and measuring him. Her composure made ice seem warm. "If you heal him or not, does not matter, I'm sure he could still be useful, but I'm beginning to doubt that."
Cogliostro did well to hide his surprise. Her demeanor shocked him. What had she expected? The Bladesinger be the one to pin the Draegloth to the wall, instead of the other way around? If that were so, she expected much, and he knew what failure meant to drow especially this one. So he decided to defend Vesz'aun a tad, knowing that the Bladesinger, survived this torture and still breathed because of Xull'rae but he was not about to voice that, he doubted she would hear him anyway. "Hm, well then, perhaps I will not bother. Though tossing away life needlessly is not my style, so perhaps I will heal him." There is a short pause, as he turns to actually face the Drowess this time. "If you truly want rid of him, or rather, want his obsession with you removed, I can do so."
Xull'rae whipped around to face the human mage, her face contorted with anger she was obviously trying to reign in, but could not. Her voice was dangerously low, and it was dripping disdain. "Who said it was needlessly? Name one incident where he was useful to you and didn't mess up." She meant her but knew the human would have countering statements of some sort. For all his vaunted mannerisms he was so soft on taking a life. Needing a reason. Phaw, there was never a good reason to end a life, anyone's. She knew that, she knew killing was wrong and evil. She accepted it and did it because it was a natural feeling for her, because it was survival. But she was not going to voice aloud how she felt, not now not ever. She didn't know if she could even begin to explain. The human was talking and a cold calm replaced her anger as she registered what he said.
"Today." He offered something akin to a smile, but no further elaboration at this point but added in, "If nothing else, one can count on his knack for fucking things up." He now turned back to the Bladesinger, and decided to let her know more about the drow male. He wanted to study if she truly harbored no feelings for him, if it was just using him as a pawn as she always seemed to. "Though you've never been privvy to it, he's not a complete moron, nor without his merits. I believe he simply underestimated the threat which the Draegloth presented. Or trusted in whatever deal he struck with the creature too much. I'm willing to bet they struck a deal of some sort, a mutual agreement to work together and kill me, or something along those lines." He shrugs and looked a little baffled. Not at them striking a deal to kill him, but the fact Vesz'aun marginally trusted the creature. Maybe Xull'rae had merit to want him removed after all, the more he thought about it. How did that saying go that he heard from the drow? 'Stupidity should be awarded with death.' He continued on with his thought before he let himself be sidetracked. He could see how the drow could and were corrupt. "Otherwise, there would be no way this could have happened. There are too many failsafes for this to be accidental."
She studied the Bladesinger with a disapproving frown. Her manner still icy. If the human let him live, the Bladesinger would have to bust his ass to get back in her good graces. She could not allow his failures to rub off on her or tarnish her image. "Then consider him yours, you may do with him as you will." She looked at Cogliostro, a stone had more expression then her face right now. Her eyes were so cold, that Cogliostro thanked his hard upbringing. He felt the urge to fidget, if he were weaker he knew he'd be flinching and to the point of bowing but he was NOT the type, never would be. He kept himself still as well as his face as he spoke and was relieved his voice was so calm and conversational. "Very well. Would you like all memory of you wiped from his mind? Or just the fact that he 'likes you'?" Xull'rae would make masses of people flinch and bow one day. Even grovel of that he was certain. Long before she would become Matron.
"If he manages to live and actual do something of merit, he may able to live longer by my standard...if I wanted anything removed from his mind I would have done it already..I'm better at it then you anyway."
He nodded as if agreeing, but said "Mm, perhaps." Now he glanced over his shoulder one last time, to face her. "Drazoul will be meeting with a certain someone very soon at the Inn. Please make certain you can overhear the conversation. Or better yet, perhaps get in on their little ploy if you are able." He changed the subject because he felt it necessary. He even used a polite tone but it was an order all the same as he now turned back, to begin plucking the metal spikes from Vesz'aun, studying the first one for a moment. "Hm, Saer Auvryath will not be a happy camper...seems the Draegloth destroyed his beloved blade, and used the shards to pin him here."
Xull'rae sounded resentful, for what he could not guess. "Well if you plan to keep him alive I can help restore it if it will help calm him." It was a strange thing to say, after wanting him dead. Xull'rae did know how to take care of servants, a well treated servant was an obedient servant.
"Very well. For now, you have other business to attend." Cogliostro said, a shimmering blue portal opened near her, one which would whisk her back to her room at the Inn. "One last thought before you go. Master T'orgh was the apprentice of an apprentice to the Malaugrym, back before the imprisonment. Part of the group experimenting with creating were-dragons. I only mention this, so that you may keep a more vigilant eye on him, for if the Malaugrym happens to recall this at some point, he may reinstill old enchantments of servitude, and use the Saer T'orgh as a tool through which to influence the church. In fact, he may already be doing so, but I don't believe so."
She let nothing break her frosty calm. She would indeed keep an eye on Bragh and kill him if he became a tool to further the means of the insane mage rather than the church. "Noted. I wonder if psionics can override powerful magic?" She steps through the portal not waiting for a reply.
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