By Xullrae Zauvir
Chapter 3 - Uncharted Territories (part 2)
As Xull'rae ,ade her way through the Darkwoods, upon leaving the Tower, her rampant thoughts are disturbed by a certain wet, sloughing sound emitting from nearby, accompanied by an echoing snap. There is then a small pause, then the sound a familiar, bestial voice issues forth in the darkness, though seemingly not intended for her ears. One notable difference is that said beast's words are hampered somewhat, as if he's speaking with his mouth full. It was Mourn. She crept closer, intending to listen. "That aside, are you not alive and well now?”
Yet another familiar voice, one she surely loathed to hear at this point, joins the bestial one, again in a grating, overly loud tone. "Yes, but that's not the point,” shouted Vesz’aun. "We had a deal, and yes, fine, you technically held up your end, but you didn't have to go that damn far with it!” His voice was tinged with some amount of anger, which made Xull’rae curious.
A short pause from Mourn more of the wet, sloughing sound, before he spoke, "opinions vary. Now stop whining and go away.”
Xull’rae stopped as she slipped her piwafwi on, she didn't bother to hide, or even move closer, but she was listening half interested, half not really caring at this point. She did however remain perfectly Still. She wanted to understand their deal, truly though, it was a game to see if they would notice she was there. Maybe it would ease her turmoil by causing some for others.
She noticed Vesz’aun had made no move to leave, his strong body, rigid with defiance and his crimson eyes glittered in malice, bold enough to silently challenge the draegloth.
Mourn noticed too, stopping his crunching bone to slowly grin, bearing all his sharp bloody teeth, bits of raw flesh stuck in between them, when he spoke his voice was a soft hiss, as if he wanted to seduce but tease, "unless you are to serve some useful purpose during my mealtime...dessert, perhaps?”
Yet another long pause from Vesz’aun, in which Xull’rae could easily imagine that the bladesinger would be scowling furiously, frustrated that he could do nothing to harm the draegloth for his mockery, but no expression showed from her view point. Finally he spoke, he was calmer than before, but there was still a hard edge to his tone, "anyway....When do I get recompensed for the little deal we struck?” Mourn surveyed him and exhaled loudly, so Vesz’aun pressed on in quick explanation, ”things turned sour, I need to leave as soon as possible, and the more money I have, the farther away I can get from this city.”
Upon hearing that from the Bladesinger, Xull’rae smiled ruefully to herself, and curiosity made her stay put for now. Wanted to leave too, did he? She just hoped he wouldn’t end up following her.
Mourn chuckled and looked at him with shrewd dark red eyes and threw him a lazy response, "then leave, simple enough. I don't have any money yet, simpleton. That's why I was trying to employ you once more, to steal my items back from the human, and maybe a little extra, like I said if you are in that big of a hurry, just go.” He then rips off another chunk of meat off the mangled body he had and stuffed it into his maw, bone and all. "I'll be sure to send what I owe you to whichever slum you end up in, really,”
the draegloth slurred out, snickering, flinging flecks of morsels out of his drooling mouth in the process.
Vesz’aun, suppressed a shiver, but his handsome face could not hide his revulsion as he watched the beast, unable to look away, lest his fear give way by the act. "I can tell that you two are related and fat chance, I'm not leaving until you pay up", he all but sneered before another pause was given, his defiance making him stand firm and able to ignore his rising fear that he was towing a dangerous line. "It's not like I cannot, mind you, nothing to do with lack of funds or anything....I just got to keep you honest.” He knew that sounded lame, but he needed a way to change the subject before his words got him into trouble.
Mourn snorted a response, his agitation rising by tone of his raspy voice, "mmm hmm. It occurs to me that the sooner you get my items, the sooner I can pay you. Get my point?” He rose to full height to stretch and then hunched himself to stay level with the Bladesinger, his dark eyes unsettling as they watched him like the prey he was and had been just recently.
Yet another pause, in which Vesz’aun is silently fuming, then a curt answer is given as he looks at a rock behind the draegloth, looking away but still seeming to be looking at him, "yeah, I get ya.”
Mourn moves closer to him, sniffing him up and down, his bloody maw splits into a slow malicious grin, as he slowly circles the bladesinger, sounding amused as he says, "good. You have more brains than I would have first taken you for.”
Seeing the brave front Vesz’aun was making in the face of his foe, Xull’rae decides to grant him reprieve, so she deliberately turns around and makes scuffing noises with her feet and sighing in frustration. Her back was to them as if she were the one not noticing them as she walked briskly down the path, just to break their conversation and hide the fact she was listening in, muttering to herself incoherent to the two of course.
The sudden silence which fell after her scuffing noises echoed throughout the area would give her sign that they heard. Then a soft whooshing of air, followed by a large, dark shadow leapt past her, gave sign that at least one of them was curious. A heartbeat later, Mourn's large form was looming over her, fresh blood still dripping from his maw, and from the remains of what appeared to be a drowic leg which was dangling within one of his overly large, outer claws. "Ah, Mistress,” he said not much else, merely inclined his head respectfully, and then crouched down on his haunches to continue eating; she was not prey so she did not hold his interest for too long.
Xull’rae’s amber eyes glanced over the draegloth and gave him a civil greeting. "Evening Mourn, trust your dinner was tasty?” she didn’t once glance at Vesz’aun, and she could sense he was doing the very same.
"Mm hmm,” came Mourn’s response. Something akin to a satisfied smile creased his bestial maw, mouth too full of thigh meat to answer right now.
She nodded and finally looked around to if Vesz'aun had gone or if any more were here and was mildly surprised he had slipped away from her notice, so she called out, "keeping yourself hidden?”
Mourn offered a response once he swallowed, "he's probably long gone, as he got my point and started to leave just before you made yourself known. Then again, he may just be down there silently brooding.”
She shrugs and lets it drop "I see,” she begins and then changes the subject, to get to the matter at hand. "Well is there anything you need? It may be a little while before I return.”
Mourn looks her over and takes a whiff of her scent, she smelled angry and confused, the mixed scent made him tilt his head and blink at her as he responded, "there is plenty I need, but I think the bladesinger will cover that part soon enough.” Curiousity made him question her and disregard caution. He had nothing to fear from her, not yet, so he would test her boundaries until such time that she showed he was overstepping. Regardless of his subtle testing and probing he decided to be respectful. So far she deserved as much from their previous encounters, "may I ask what you mean by your last statement?"
Xull’rae nods to his statement about the bladesinger, but a small frown pulled at her lips, it was no surprise he could read her, she was doing a poor job at covering her distress, but she did not care, as such, she gave him an honest answer. "I'm going on a trip. I'll return; I just don't know when. I'm young and need to train more if I am to restore a house, so what better way to learn than the way of exploration?” When he failed to show that he cared, she elaborated a little bit, "you want me as a strong leader don't you?”
So she has a point to this after all, he thought with a smirk on his feral lips. He nodded in earnest and said, "yes, strength is something I can respect.” He appeared a bit puzzled as he tossed the remainder of the leg aside, and began to lick his claws clean of blood while he asked, ” But why do you need to explore in order to train?”
Xull’rae wasn’t in the mood to explain her problems to him or even discuss her true motives, but at this moment, she thought why not humor him with her ridiculous dreams and ideas? So, with a slight shrug and repressed sigh she answered him, "because drow are plotters and good fighters but most are ignorant about other cultures and do not wish to learn. When he nodded she continued, "well I do, I believe knowledge of other places and gaining allies from there, will help us become greater than we already are. There are many styles and techniques out there to know and while the drow down here squander away with their plots and schemes, I will be gathering ways to help us rise.”
Mourn took her words and thought them over with appreciation. Indeed she was young, even green, but her capacity to see flaws in a race taught to be flawless was wonderful quality in his mind, a break from tradition was the Oblodra way. Of course he’d give her that recognition, but he wasn’t about to inflate her ego, "ah, Untraditional as it sounds, there is perhaps merit in the plan, though this task would take years, I am thinking.”
Xull’rae nodded gravely. She was glad he did not scorn her, or think it would be an easy task. Truth was, that even if she was rejected by her Lord of Shadow and his holy order, she would accept it, but it did not mean she could not carry on his cause without him, he just made things seem more right and even comfortable. His power and blessings were an honor and a privilege, more than mere tools to achieve a goal, but still it could be done without him. She just had to think if it would be worth it, worth the long painful road.
After a few minutes passed she finally agreed to what Mourn said, "yes which means I will come to visit periodically, maybe more often than I think. The surface is a big and bright place, and can be just as unfriendly as down here, I dunno perhaps it is my youth talking again, or madness setting in,” she snickers at the last bit because it could be that simple as to why she was not a normal to most.
Though he might have otherwise found it humorous, the draegloth had witnessed enough of the other females in the House take a downward spiral into madness, and as such, he did not provide any sort of mirthful response. Despite being a creature of chaos and seeming madness at times, he was wary of the sort of madness his kin had fallen into in times long past. "Perhaps, yes, the surface is quite a different realm than this one. Why not simply extract what cultural information you will from the human, and his servants, which seem comprised of a variety of races? Despite the creatures being beneath us, they will perhaps offer up some useful insight or another.” He asked an implored, not truly wishing to see this young one go, while her idea was a good and sound, too much could influence her. She might not ever return and Mourn felt the need for her company in the long haul. It was so hard to trust, but he could not make her stay. At least she was seeking his council. Maybe he could go with her. He didn’t wish to go to the surface, but he could keep an eye on her that way, plus he’d have a wider variety of food to enjoy up there.
He hissed and grunted as his rampant thoughts were being troublesome. This female was already bringing about change, and he wasn’t sure he liked it. She easily caused confusion and treated him decently; he must not get comfortable with that, instead, use it to his advantage and kill her first, if it came to that, but what of his house? Bah! She was speaking, so he focused on her voice and slammed the other thoughts and locked them away in the deep recesses of his mind.
"I must ask a request of you Mourn,” said Xull’rae, looking at him with the most serene and indifferent expression as she continued, "and whether you abide it, I leave it up to your will. As an aspiring mage, one who I know will be great, stay true to the weave, Shadow weave may look more tempting and powerful but I do not think it is what it seems to be.”
Her request was interesting to him for she smelled honest for lack of a better word, truly concerned for his welfare. He was sure she had another agenda, but it benefited him as well. He saw no reason to deny her, but he would question her first, it seemed too simple to just follow in obedience. "Shadow Weave?”
Xull’rae saw the spark of interest in his eye, but true to her word, she’d let him find out on his own, regardless of consequences, she gave him reply, "if you do not know, research it and make the decision on your own. Just know that Shar is a cold and greedy goddess that can and will cut if off from you at a moments notice. As I said the true weave is probably the better choice.”
Mourn’s toothy maw settles into something of a puzzled frown and his glowing eyes registered surprise, "The Night Bringer deals in magic’s now? I have much more than that to research, it seems. Even the pantheons seemed to have gone through some changes.” Dark crimson locked with amber and he nodded to her, "at any rate, I will take your words into consideration.”
Xull’rae allowed a small smile of understanding dance its way across her lips as they gazes locked for but a moment, giving way to his acceptance, which was all she could hope for. Satisfied, she repeated, "do so, there are those that believe her way is better, I for one do not think so.” She gave a little sigh, as she headed back to their original subject with some reluctance, "as for the human, well he's not my ideal role model for his kind.”
She grinned then, her expression sardonic but amused as she added, "humans cannot be that annoying.”
Mourn’s puzzlement was replaced with a mildly humored look. "One would hope not. I still say the plan would have some beneficial fruition, despite the wariness, but you are the Mistress, and as such you make the choices, and it is not my place to question it...overly much, at least.”
Xull’rae considered his words and promptly said in response, "you may question it Mourn, I may tell you to not worry about it or actually impart information, I'm odd like that. I will not be the type of Matron to think males as nothing more than breeding stock and a line of defense, which goes for you as well.”
That was very surprising and pleasant to hear but he did not let it show, he was not easy to bait, but then again she had been honest thus far, and presented change. She was unusual; perhaps she could be a better and stronger Matron. He was willing to let her try, if only to see if she would indeed keep her word or lie like drow often do, either way, he’d get something from it, and if she proved weak, maybe he could puppet her. That, was a very interesting idea, so interesting he nods, accompanying it with something that could be taken as a humored smile, if one used their imagination and could get past the naturally malevolent grin which was presented at all times and responded to her topic, giving no opening to his own agenda. "Good, as I prefer to be considered a line of offense rather than defense”
Xull’rae let escape a giggle, the comment was funny, but it was more to humor him than genuine laughter, she agreed and said, "offense you are then.” Then the smile slid off her face as she considered this draegloth might have goals of his own and was testing her. With all that had happened she wanted to flee, run from the schemes that seem to be everywhere she turned. Instead though, she stood her ground, ignored fear and looked around once again, inquiring after the bladesinger again. "Vesz'aun, is he still here?”
Mourn sneered slightly and shook his head, with a malicious snicker. "Mm, actually he is down below,” one of his large, clawed hands points off-handedly towards the floor somewhere below them, towards the outer edge of the woods. His eyes narrowed and he sniffed the air, "speaking to someone, from the look of it.”
Wariness set upon her immediately when Mourn asserted that someone else was here with them, but he seem unconcerned, so that helped keep her cool and not give way to senseless paranoia. She looked at him, putting her hood up out of habit, and stepped away, speaking as she did so, "hmmm perhaps I should leave him be then. I trust you know it's best to stay hidden?”
Mourn shrugged his massive shoulders and jumped up to perch on a natural stony rise to look down upon the scene, keeping his deep rumbling voice low so it would not carry below, "perhaps. He appears to be arguing anyway. I've taken note that once he takes up in such, there is no reasoning with him. And yes, I of course will do so, hence why I've employed an agent to carry certain tasks out for me.” He pauses, watching in the direction of the bladesinger a moment longer, "though I wish I had employed a more worthwhile being upon reflection.”
He must mean Vesz’aun, she thought with irritation, and it carried over in her tone. "I told you I'd be willing to help you freely I don't even care if you never return the favor at this point.” She smiles some, to try and convey she need not rely on others.
A polite, respectful inclination of Mourn’s head is then offered, "your offer is duly noted, and appreciated, Mistress, though I prefer not to ask such demeaning tasks of one of your stature.” He caught her irritation, so he thought to smooth it over with honesty of his own and once more play his designed role.
His attempt was not wasted either as she replied with playful sarcasm, "so well brought up.” She smiled wider this time and continued with her banter, "very well, but Vesz'aun doesn't like you at all. He believes I should be rid of you and I'm sure you think likewise of him.”
Mourn chuckled deeply, her liked her wit. He nodded and said, "that is a correct assumption. Which, when he's served his purpose, perhaps I will be rid of him. A better option than actually paying him for the services he's rendered. I can't help it if he agreed to a bargain, and then got upset about the specifics afterwards.”
Lingering, she caught the words he spoke and her curiosity rose and made her delay more. She asked, "what was the bargain? I never asked him because I didn't think he'd give me the truth, you on the other hand have nothing to gain or lose by withholding that information.”
Mourn sensed she wanted the truth, and while he did not fear her should he decline, he didn’t want to bothered by a fit, should she have one. So gave her the answer that came to mind, "that I do not. It was a simple matter. He was to help me lure the human into the situation which you were witness to...being bait, of sorts. I saw wisdom in making it as real as possible. Though apparently he had some other concept of what would transpire in mind. At any rate, it worked. I was able to glean the human's trigger words for a few of the arcane seals which held me in that prison.” He smiled, remembering that whole plan and how it played out. To Xull’rae it looked ferocious.
She nodded though, she too appreciated his dark sense of humor, and it went with her own. "I see,” she responded, pressing the issue, as he did not elaborate on Vesz’aun. So she asked another question, "so what was it he wanted from that? Or do you know?”
Mourn snickered and spat some cartilage from his mouth as he answered her once more, "Simple coin...for a simple mind. No imagination on that part. He also mentioned my doing what I could to harm and/or kill the human in the process, but I had told him ahead of time there wouldn't be much along those lines that I am able to do just yet.” He then hissed out, after a long pause, "yet.” He repeated the word in a most loathsome manner, keeping a growl in check, lest he make too much noise.
Seeing the current subject was starting to rile him, she twisted it with humor, her eyes shine with amusement as she jabs him with an idea he’d surely protest to, "hmmm guess I should choose another candidate to be patron then, she sighs in mock frustration.
That startled him and he whirled to confront her, not at all amused now, but sorely irritated. "By the Abyss, yes! With all due respect, how could you have even let the notion enter your mind? He is a comely male, I suppose, but no brains to speak of to accompany those looks.” Her paused seeing her dark knowing smile, and a feral smile of his own washed his irritation away as he caught her understanding, and reassessed by saying, "then again, I'm sure you are able to manipulate one such as him easily enough. That could be a bonus,” he nodded, considering her joke to have some merit in the future.
Despite her jest, she had considered it before, as she was doing now, to which she nodded to the draegloth for his deduction. "Hmm he is very attractive, she confessed, "and he's the only male thus far to show interest in me despite my oddities. Plus as you said he's willing to be manipulated.” She said willing because she had seen Vesz’aun with other women and could not be used so, with her it was the opposite. If he wanted to be the fool, that was his choice. One day she was sure he would turn on her; she would be ready and strike first. She blinked once, realizing Mourn was speaking to her.
"Oddities?” he asked.
Xull’rae frowned, but then realized he was not a vain creature, so he probably did not understand, so she did her best to explain. "Well you're a draegloth so things like physical attractiveness means nothing to you, to a female in Lloth’s society it is a priority to most, especially those of pedigree and station.”
It made sense, Mourn realized. Of all the pure breeds he had seen since becoming free had exceptional beauty. Looking at Xull’rae in a new light, he addressed to her his opinion on the matter, "mm, I suppose you are correct. One female is as good as any other to rut with, or take my pleasure from, though I dare say you are not among the less comely of our kind.” In truth he found her color to be vibrant and intriguing, but if she disagreed, then it was best that he not press the issue.
Xull’rae shrugged like his opinion did not matter, but smiled lightly, as if to say thanks as she said, "maybe though most other females would disagree with you and you know in Lloth society that the female’s opinion matters and influences the males either by fear or actual loyalty.”
Mourn frown as he noticed that Xull’rae lacked self confidence in her physical self, which bordered on weakness to him, the fact that she seemed comfortable with her other skills, made him keep his reprimand from becoming vocalized, instead he did the opposite and pointed out the virtue of being in another city. "Perhaps, though I think Lolth society has little to do with things around here, from what I've gathered so far. I already know the bladesinger to be the impious sort. In any case, you will be a proper Matron soon enough and any male will be at your disposal. No need for that one.”
Xull’rae flashed an evil grin, as the draegloth once again dismissed Vesz’aun, to which he returned her grin, and they both laughed. There was defiantly a connection forming between them, a small one now, but would grow later if she let it, but now was not that time. Now was the time to get moving, so she grew serious again and commented quietly, "I beginning to think I should be as well, but you’re right so perhaps I will plenty to choose from. In any case I must be on my way; I have business to take care of before I begin my quest for Knowledge.”
Mourn nodded and came back over to her, looming over her, protectively. His mind made up then at their parting to come with her, she had too much potential to go in an unknown world and possibly get killed. Too much rode on her, to die now. Again, they met eye to eye when he spoke, “As do I as well. I will be ready to depart when you are, whether the bladesinger has retrieved my items yet or not.”
Understanding and overwhelming gratitude swept through Xull’rae as she realized Mourn’s intentions. She could not say what she wished to, she must go alone and decide things for herself, but his gesture touched her deeply. In her need for companionship without judgment, he offered it when she needed it most. Thanks would be wasteful, as it would be admitting a weakness and ruin the moment of connection between spirits like-minded. She said what came to mind, responding to his regard on the items he sought, “you may stay if you wish Mourn to make sure he does not use your items for himself.”
That actually brings a deep, short chuckle, one of derision for the bladesinger, to be sure. She thought as he said, “as if he could. And no, my place is by your side now, Mistress, and I will not falter in my duties.”
Seeing he was intending to still go with her, Xull’rae didn’t want to command his staying here, so at a loss for what to do, lacking the capacity to be gentle in such matters, she just stalled on the topic at hand, “he's wanted to study magic too I just hope he knows Bragh is using him, in what way I'm not sure yet but I'm sure it is not good.”
Mourn looked disgusted and surprised at her announcement about the bladesinger, “he is not seemingly cut out for wizardry, in my opinion. There is no semblance of patience to him. And as far as him being able to tell if someone is using him, well, that I doubt very highly.” Hearing her mention a new name, made him tilt his head and inquire after the new information, “This Bragh is a mage, I take it?”
Xull’rae nodded, but instead of giving out more information, she stopped stalling, seeing her attempt at keeping Mourn from going was futile and decided to go forward. “Very well I need to stop at the Vengeful Weave than the Web of the Spider Queen. I need to give the matron there notice of my absence or someone there, so a hunt is not started for me.”
Mourn stood straighter and looked ready to go.
Xull’rae suppressed a sigh and went back to the subject of Vesz’aun as they started walking, "well I know he is not as stupid as he seems sometimes, otherwise how could he have lived this long.”
Mourn growled out a response, "sheer, dumb luck, perhaps. At any rate, I am causing you to tarry, Mistress. I will go now to conduct my own few points of business now.” He stopped, waiting for her to dismiss him.
How strange that was. First he wanted to go, and now he wanted to go another way. Then again, draegloth’s were chaotic, and this is what she wanted, to be alone, so why did she feel lonely right then, and why did she nod, moving away from him, instead of staying like she wanted to? As she continued forcing her wooden feet to move, the more she pushed her feelings away and began burying them. She didn’t look back.
She doesn’t look back, and she won’t. She is afraid, but masters fear well thought Mourn as he watched her go. He remained at his roost for some long moments, watching her leave, his mind working upon different points and thoughts that arose during their conversation. Then, with a deft series of leaps, he was making his way towards another section of the Darkwoods. They would meet again, she would return, in the mean time he would prepare while giving her the privacy she wanted.
Now in the silence with no one to talk to for distraction the feel of the tower behind Xull’rae weighed heavy on her mind and doubts rose again, which caused her to quicken her pace to the humans inn, movement helped her not to think.
Vesz’aun too now hastened to the Inn, his quickness born of the adrenaline rush which oft times accompanies anger and angst, which in turn was born from the conversation he'd just had with Bragh at the edge of the Darkwoods. Not to mention the calamity that occurred recently with Xull'rae.
Though he could deaden the emotions to some degree, his obsession would not let it rest for long. As it stood, he was a ways in front of her, not aware that she was heading in the same direction as he.
Neither was aware of it, but for Cogliostro’s part, the scrying had continued, and he was well aware at this point on what occurred with the draegloth, the bladesinger, and the drowess. Frowning, he decided to let the draegloth run free for the moment, as it appeared the drowess had some semblance of control over the beast anyway. Besides, he would have to waste some all too valuable energy to rein the creature in, energies he could not spend if he were to have any chance of pulling off the mission that he, Cyrus, and a certain wee lass were going to embark on soon. He could afford only a couple more hours to attend his business at most, 'ere they should leave, so he stepped away from the scrying device, and made his way through the nearby portal which would whisk him to his office at the Inn proper. If nothing else, he would need to perform a hasty clean up and repair job, before people got wise of the damage, and started asking questions.
Xull’rae did indeed see Vesz'aun up ahead, but did not bother to slow her pace until she caught up with him now walking a few feet behind him. Even if he said nothing or acknowledged her it was better than being alone with thoughts she did not want to dwell on at the moment.
As if on cue, and possessing some extra-sensory perception when it came to Xull'rae, Vesz’aun’s form came to a sudden halt, followed by a swift turn in her direction, a scowl of annoyance held upon that handsome visage, though she would be able to discern it was born from the fact the cloak's hood impeded his view, rather than her presence. He was obviously not accustomed to wearing such very often, as for quite some time now he'd barely worn anything aside from pants and boots, brazenly treading where he would as a proper Bladesinger.
After the hood had been adjusted, and the scowl settled to a frown, a single white brow quirked in her direction, betraying the fact that he was wary, and did not know her intentions. Whether it would come or not, he did his best to steel his emotions against the ridicule he thought would be imparted upon him.
"Keep going...from the look of it we are both headed the rivven's inn, I don't plan on talking so go ahead and ignore that I'm here,” her tone sounded tired but her expression held a wariness just like his own did.
The frown deepened as Vesz’aun weighed the options of speaking his varying thoughts aloud, as well as the desire to both apologize and maybe begin arguing anew. Then, he settled for offering a simple nod of acknowledgement before turning and stepping forward once more, a low utterance mumbled to himself in the process, "easier said than done....”
Xull’rae sighed, and walked ahead of him, she wanted to remain silent, but the words came out despite her best intentions, "well you can talk, I just said I wouldn't so if you have something to say, say it. We will more than likely work together under the bald one so, things might as well be said so we know what to expect from each other it terms of work relation.”
His tone was not a bitter one in the least, more weary than anything, like hers. It also betrayed the unspoken notion that he had only been there in the first place because of her, and now that a rift had been created, he felt it inappropriate to stay. "No worries there, Jabress, I shan’t be working for the human much longer, so perhaps there is no need for such.”
Xull’rae took what he said and jabbed him with it, her tone biting, "oh I know working for Bragh instead, which is really worse him or the human, that I am curious to know?”
He almost stopped in his tracks once more, visibly flinching, though exactly why she could not discern. The hooded gaze never turned back to her as he replied the tone slightly bitter now, "that much I have not yet determined, neither will I. I'll not be entering Master Bragh's employ anytime soon, either. That was in the past, and it will remain there. I plan to leave this damnable city entirely.”
Xull’rae smirked, this was not news, but she did not believe him either. If he wanted to be gone he would have been, money or no money. His delay proved he was only debating it, and something else was keeping him here. Not wanting to relent her interrogation, she continued to press him, "and since when does the pompous Vesz'aun use the word Jabress in a non mocking tone, I am Jabress of nothing yet except the non drow races. You constantly remind me every day, so why respect me now?”
Vesz’aun was glad his hood was up, preventing her from seeing his tortured expression. She was right of course, but his tone was firm and defensive as he replied, "maybe Vesz'aun isn't as pompous as people think.”
Xull’rae remained unconvinced and cut through the tension to the heart of his problem with efficient insight but brutality, "really or is Vesz'aun hurt, which is the only reason why I can fathom why you are leaving this city of freedom? Most other drow cities are Lloth venerated, unless it is the mercenary or surface life you are going to strive for.” To Xull’rae none of those options seemed likely, Vesz’aun was too vain and arrogant to live above ground or make his way on his own without leeching off someone, and it was from this deduction that her tone deliberately mocked him.
At that point, Vesz’aun did stop, and spin to face her once more, the anger held within his gaze, and his words, unable to completely conceal the hurt which indeed lay beneath. Aside from what had been inflicted earlier, she just will of course compound it further. It was her way, though she may never grasp why. When he responded his tone was slow and clipped, "the Vesz'aun is a Bladesinger...and Bladesinger's are champions of the People. As such, I will return to the duties of that office which I have been shirking as of late. I will of course also have to make amends for such procrastination, so that means I'll be traveling back to my Guild in order to have a penance meted out upon me.” Despite no reaction from her, her grew defensive all the same, conviction making him say his next words, "as fucked up and ridiculous as that may sound to you, my order does maintain some semblances of the honor which the office of Bladesinger held to in the days our people walked the surface world freely.”
Xull’rae waited until he was done speaking to outright laughed at him, her words scathing and her eyes cold and venomous as she have her retort, "champions of what people, certainly not drow? Drow have no need for honor or champions, only power and to see who is better than whom. You are thinking of the illythiiri, what we were, not the drow, what we are now.”
He for one did not find it humorous in the least, and again he frowned deeply, turning from her, shaking his head slowly as his pace began anew. "If you would spend more time among the commoners, you would realize that not to be entirely true. There are more drow out there who need championing than a noble born such as you are, could ever realize.” Her silence proved she was listening, but it also meant a rebuttal was coming, so he did his best to defend his argument. "The sad part is that most of them need championing against threats which come from those very same nobles. Drow as a whole are not worth it, that much is true, though enough merit the aid that our Order still maintains and upholds its ideals.”
Xull’rae had plenty to respond to, so started more gently than before, "you are better than some, but a champion…well, hmm no not yet. Champions do the right thing; they are honorary and stick by their beliefs. They never betray their comrades, and serve others before themselves; you have a lot to work on, if that is your goal.” She weighs all that he says with a soft sigh, he constantly judged her, why did she let him do that? He was not a bastion of good. What did he know of hardship that she did not? Just because she a noble born and a priestess did not mean that her life was easy. Focusing those thoughts, she continued with them before they got clouded. "Vesz'aun you know nothing of me other than you and you alone think I'm pretty, I know the nobles but I have also been amongst the commoners half my life. It's one of the many reasons I con...” Anger came unbidden anyway and she trailed off. She was tired of always explain herself to him, he never saw her as who she was, only what he wanted to see. Enough was enough. "You know what never mind, because it doesn't matter, you go your way and do what you must, may you succeed in your goals.”
A long glare is offered as he spins to face her once more, though one as much studious as anything baser of thought, he regarded her carefully, ignoring the beauty in the depths of that hood he knew was lurking there. "Very true,” he said at length, with grudging admission. In all their ten years together, he hardly knew anything of her past life. Perhaps he had been too hasty, she was noble by adoption from what he knew, and that was about the extent of it, except what he knew by spending time with her. Thinking on it now, as in times past when he always hurt her, he realized just how different she was from the other drow women, but how much she was similar to drow in general. His voice was softer and more gentle than it had been before as he spoke, "perhaps I do not know much of your past, though that would only be due to the fact you are so unwilling to share it. Let me give you, a point of fact though, I see you as much more than just a pretty face.” A short pause was given; as his features revealed the fact he was trying to hold back the better part of his anger and frustration, trying to maintain some semblance of civility. "You also know little of me, it seems. Perhaps I am not what most would consider a Champion material...but I'll have you know that of the twelve priestesses I've killed; only two were out of personal grudges. The remainders were slain simple due to the fact that they abused some commoner whilst I was around to view it. That has to be some sort of Championship.” He realized it was not, after he heard himself aloud. How had he helped those commoners after ward, except milk them for what they had, abusing their gratitude. What of other oppressors besides priestesses? Some mages were no better in their treatment of the commoners. Instead of admitting he was a hypocrite and that she was right, he let the matter go entirely by saying, "though you are correct, I suppose none of this does matter, as you've already made it clear that you want nothing to do with me.”
Xull’rae stopped as well, but instead of rubbing his face with his false beliefs, she used point blank honesty instead. Answering his ending statement with irritation and anger, "because you are such a fuck up...if you'd let go of the arrogance you have on yourself you'd know why I have made sure others did not kill you. Yes you obey well, at times. Why? Because I guess you want to, but the main reasons I put up with you is because you have the looks and the potential to be great, and while at face value I may treat you less it's because I must...and yet you repay me by mocking my faith; what I hold dear, just because YOU have no faith in the gods gives you no right to mock mine! As to why I haven't told you about myself...because it would get us both killed if you blabbed it to the wrong person.” It wasn’t the full truth, but he wouldn’t grasp it fully if she had said everything anyway. Besides why let him know her weaknesses that lay hidden in her heart for him, he’d just use her and hurt her with that knowledge, so her survival counted on keeping secrets.
The frown on Vesz’aun’s face deepened for a moment, then he blinked, and it twisted once more, into a frown of resignation. That was all she would see, as he turned away, only muttering a short answer in response to the many points she brought up. "I would not....” She was wise and crafty enough to realize that by not arguing against the remainder of her points, that silence could be taken as recognition of the fact she was right. He again simply did not wish to admit it aloud.
Xull’rae sighed, most of her anger drained away, upon giving him credit he did not wish to carry on arguing, as such she softened her tone as she admitted what she did not wish to. Who was right did not matter, what did was the best path to choose from here, "no... you wouldn’t, not intentionally that I DO believe... but fine if you wish to know I will tell you.” She sighed and shrugged, getting to the point, "what is a life anyway? We all are born, live a little while and then we die. Everything that I know, everything that I am, seems useless. My faith has been shaken, my true house fallen, so I have nothing left, I could just return to the Lolth temple but that would mean I'd have to go against my nature and beliefs that the drow can get along with themselves as well as others.”
Yet again, Vesz’aun stopped, slowly turning back to regard her, the frown of a softer, and quite the thoughtful variety this time, touched with more than a semblance of sympathy as well. He was still wary of getting soft and caring as some would call it, so he offered a simple answer, with the hopes that it would convey the things he left unsaid to her. "Well, that's a start....”
She looked at him, stepping closer to look at him with his hood up, his expression was calm, but so were his eyes. That was enough for her to impart what she probably should not. "Fine,” she said at last. "I hail from Menzoberranzan, I am the heiress to the fallen third house the lone survivor besides mourn and my other brother who was the house wizard. I was but a young child when the house fell; taken in by Menzo's great mercenary band and traveled with them until the leader stopped here in this city, while here he went to the Lolth temple to conduct business with the matron. As payment for services rendered I was sold to House Zauviir.” She shrugged, as if her history was no big deal, and it wasn’t, not to her.
Vesz’aun was silent as she blurted it all out, and by the time she was done, there was more than a bit of surprise and wonderment evident upon his visage. Blinking a few times, trying to compose himself, he let out a small whistle. "Well now, that is quite some history you've got there...Matron,” though he had not resided in Menzoberranzan at the time, it had not been so long ago in history that some still did not speak of the matter. As such, he easily surmised which House she had been talking about, also easily guessing at the unspecified mercenary company. He paused a bit longer, appearing very thoughtful, as he spoke he smiled some but looked completely serious, "perhaps you should place a Geas or something upon me so that I cannot reveal any of this, as it is far more in depth and secretive than I had guessed at beforehand.” Never caring much for history, it eluded him about all the aspects her title carried. As she pondered in silence, he added in, "or, I suppose, you could just kill me, but I don't really want to be dead just yet.”
Xull’rae tried smiling but if fell short, she lowered her head but did not slump her shoulders, in an effort to conceal for full discord and unease. "I don't have the power to Geas you and no I have no desire to kill you Vesz'aun but I will if I have to,” she said softly, her tone also quite serious as she continued, "the matron doesn't know of which house I resided and best stay that way, those at the tower do and plan to use me. We shall see if they can though, as my future is very uncertain, I walked out of the temple so I am sure that I'm a target to them now.” She smirks in irony, considering the chase she’d give if it came to it. With a small snicker she resumed her trek to the inn.
Vesz’aun’s crimson orbs then widen a little further, yet another surprise finally dawning on him. "You walked out on them?” he asked incredulously. When he saw her up ahead he ran after her in confusion, wanting to know why, since she just said faith was her life and calling.
"Yes...I did…you males don't like being ridiculed by the females, well the same goes for me when I thought I'd be treated with a smidgen more better among them than the females. I guess I just didn't, and couldn't earn my place.” She shrugs uncomfortably looking at her feet, afraid to look up and show the confusion that must be on her features. She didn’t feel relaxed and because of that she didn’t trust herself to look him in the face as she spoke once more, "so I'm back at the beginning, which is no where and no one but the red headed freak...unless you count me being a Lolth priestess still, which I doubt I will be for much longer. No when they find out I'll be very dead.”
Thoughtfully, Vesz’aun nodded to the first part, and then scrunched his features momentarily, wary of saying it as he didn't know how she'd take to it; he finally offered something along the lines of a small attempt at a reassuring smile, "did I mention that I champion red-headed freaks as well as commoners?” after that, his face twisted in contemplation once again. "I may be out of place to say such, impious as I am, but what should you care what your fellows think of you at the temple? What should matter is your own faith and beliefs in your god and his causes or whatnot.” Despite it being ironic that he of all people would speak of such, it was true enough.
Getting off the subject with a grin to comment on an earlier admission that she had not missed from him, "hmmm...more than a pretty face am I?” her expression turned teasing suddenly only to go placid as she answered his question. "I care because even if they don't care or notice, they are my family and since I never really had one, what they think is important as it helps to shape me.”
He was about to retort the point, as his family life was nothing to speak of either, then a spark of wisdom managed to ignite within the recesses of his mind, and he realized what she said was true. For him, the Bladesinger guild he belonged to was what he viewed as family, to some degree or another, and he realized that if they were to ostracize him, that he would feel much the same as she did. It may not be the same thing, but its close enough to grasp the general point. With that in mind, he clamped his mouth shut and thought a moment longer. When he did speak again, her nudged her, a boyish gin coming to play on his dark lips, "well, I could go kick the rest of them in the balls and make them apologize.” He was half teasing, trying to get her to smile, but now with this new information he wanted to go hurt them for putting her through this.
Xull’rae managed a small smile and a light laugh, taking his jest for what it was, but shook her head just in case he went to cause trouble in her name, "ummmmm no...Don’t, most know you are associated with me I wouldn't want them to think wrongly of your ummmmm noble intentions.”
He frowned, obviously disappointed, but she was once again right, so he nodded and agreed. "Mmm, yes, you have a point,” though as Xull’rae looked at him, she could tell he didn't quite grasp it as she meant it by the hint of puzzlement that washed through his eyes momentarily, before his twisted reasoning settled on a quick conclusion, "with that in mind, however, we should get to the Inn. Your champion I may be, but I am a hindered champion at the moment. I have no sword, wouldn't want to fail in my duties due to a small technicality such as that.”
Though her hood hid her face, her voice registered surprised as she asked, "Bragh didn't fix it for you?”
Unclasping the cloak, he tossed it carelessly aside, revealing himself as the Bladesinger he was once more, somehow symbolic in his mind of a certain degree of redemption, as idiotic as the move may prove to be. He looked at her sideways with his insolent smirk and offhandedly offered a response, "hmm? Oh, he mentioned that he was going to do so, but that he'd require me to carry out another task for him as payment. So naturally, I told him to fuck off, that I wasn't in the mood to make any deals.”
Xull’rae giggled, and said happily, "good boy,” her tone was most pleased and in fact she was proud of him for that.
Not fully realizing why she was so pleased, but gladdened that she was pleased nonetheless, he postured himself a bit prouder of stature, and made a quick, assertive nod, "damn straight. Now, let’s go hit the human up for some firepower, and a stiff drink.”
Xull’rae quickened her pace as if to agree but said in passing, "I'll pass on the drink, it dulls my wits and I don't want to be so loopy so soon, I have a dreary future of madness ahead of me no need to make it come faster.”
Vesz’aun took her comment as a joke, so added some teasing of his own, "well, that will just leave more in the event that madness does come in future...more alcohol to drown the madness out with, that is.” He had heard tales of the Oblodra women, horrid tales, and he did not wish to make light of what lay in store for her in future, he didn’t believe them anyway but he figured now would not be a good time to darken her spirits even more by being grim about it.
Xull’rae wanted to change the subject, with so many negative thoughts it was best to not to add to it with even greater fears. So in a lighter attempt, she introduced the idea that she gave Mourn earlier, "so ever thought of becoming a patron?” her mind working on the tasks ahead now that she felt better, maybe there was still room for true faith still.
A rather cheerful and playful grin creased his handsome features at that point as he replied, "thought about it? Hells, I've planned out exactly how many children we'll have, and of what sexes, and which will be great warriors like their father, and which will be enigmatic figures of divine power like their mother!” as they approached the door to the inn, he followed it up with a wink.
Xull’rae laughed; the idea was looking to be better and better every time she spoke of it. Now if only both of them could stay alive to bring it bear, that would be a feat, one she was prepared to meet head on. She didn’t plan on dying, but should it arise she would be ready. That was a minor detail, right now though she had more important things to worry about and to accomplish, before breathing her last.
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