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A Flame in the Shadows (3rd Ed D&D FR)

Discussion in 'Creativity Surge' started by ShadowSong, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. ShadowSong Gems: 1/31
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    Jan 6, 2005
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    A Flame in the Shadows

    Waterdeep; arguably the greatest and most impressive of City States along the Sword Coast, the western-most coast of Faerun before edge of the world melds into the Trackless Seas. Its reputation as the strongest nation in all the realms, boasting devoted legions, powerful mages and a pool of heroes who will rally to the call against infringing darkness, is rivalled only, perhaps, by its malevolent counterparts far across the realm to the east, and most certainly but less widely known by the various Drow cities far beneath the ground. The Drow, black-skinned Elves driven from the surface by their fair kindred countless centuries ago, live deep in the very bowels of the earth in a lightless world known as the Underdark. This comprises a cavernous network of tunnels and giant caves spanning across the entire world, the top sections being as little as three miles beneath the surface. Every cave is rumoured to be inhabited by evil, some too powerful and terrifying to imagine. In some cases, the reality is far worse.
    The large collection of villages, citadels, ports, castles and towns running up and down the Sword Coast banded together to face the greater evils of the world, forming “the Lords’ Alliance”. Waterdeep, having a leading role in the Lords’ Alliance, means the city possesses much influence over many like-minded allies and also collective resource to aid them individually in times of need and peril. The next two biggest cities, coincidently both part of the Lord’s Alliance, are Neverwinter and Baldur’s Gate.
    Neverwinter, Jewel of the North, a few hundred miles up the coast from Waterdeep, the last mainstay of lawful and just civilisation in the northlands before the foreboding citadel of Luskan, and further yet to the point at which the warmth of the world runs out into frozen wastes and barren ice mountains up to the small trading establishment Ten Towns and the Sea of Moving Ice, the north western corner of the realms, snowy most of the year round with blizzard after endless blizzard. Many miles down the Sword Coast, an immense port much like Waterdeep itself, resides Baldur’s Gate, ruled over by the Duke and lying amidst the cross roads of most placing within the realms.
    Distinguished for its mystical figureheads and legendary heroes made the City of Splendours well known, as Waterdeep was often referred to, was always full to its brim with every ilk of the goodly races. Humans, Elves, Halflings, Dwarves, Gnomes and the less common races all had their places in the city, all came in with every kind of trade and background, relating tales of their travels or bearing news from across the lands. Adventurers, wizards, fishermen, soldiers, merchants, smithies, tailors, nobles, sailors; every class in society dwelled in the vibrant city, around ever bend of the wondrous port city another story was unfolding, another individual carving out his or her own existence in the world.

    Braél Valerask counted the coins of gold as they fell from the weather-beaten leather purse to his ember coloured hand. Just another of the many purses stolen from the unfortunate victims everyday in the streets of Waterdeep. Generally either that or a knife in the back. The inky blackness of the vacant warehouse provided the perfect haven for such a profession, the endless shadows coating every crate, table and chest. Total darkness did not bother Braél in the slightest; through the black and white spectrum of darkness he watched and noted the type of each coin which collected in the already large pile in the palm of his hand. The only disadvantage of visualizing in lightless conditions was the lack of colour, but the use of cunning grew all the more potent. Satisfied that the outing’s earnings would suffice, he tilted his hand vertically and the pile slipped downwards and into the pouch in his other hand, positioned underneath. Braél sank back into the deeper shadows of the lifeless storage room as he heard the unmistakable sound of the handle in a door turning to inch the thing open, the half rusted hinges screeched noisily though the room, more than ruining his attempt at being stealthy. The soft light emitted from a candle seeped in through the narrow opening. Braél’s contact had arrived.
    The door creaked as it opened even more, the poor light from the tiny candle casting giant shadows from every box, crate and chest. The man, a human, brushed his scraggy black hair to the side and scanned the dark corners of the room for signs of his associate. He clutched the diminutive candle by its stand with his right hand, the left still clasping on the door handle. Braél could sense the man’s unease, his pulsing chest and the small beads of liquid rolling from the edge of his greasy hair to his forehead suggested he may be nervous. The small light only touched the area a within a short distance from the flame in a dull yellow flicker. From his shadow, Braél noted the curved knife sheathed on the man’s belt, partially hidden by the flowing green tunic, its golden pummel catching the glow of the candle. The filthy man greedily inhaling air, his heart racing too fast for his lungs.
    “Come out, hellspawn.”
    “Be wary of what you call me, human. I do not take kindly to insults.” Came the stern reply from somewhere within the shadows.
    “Show yourself!” he cried.
    “As you wish,” Once again the voice from the shadows spoke.
    Suddenly, to the man’s complete surprise, the tiny yellow flame protruding from the wick of the candle which he held flared and altered to a brilliant orange, bathing the room in its coloured glow. The shadows retreated back behind the many crates in the room as the orange light covered the room, revealing Braél, leaning coolly against a tall crate to the right with his arms folded, the hood fastened tightly to his leather armour pulled down over the brim of his face, concealing his face from the nose upwards. The normally black leather of his tightly fitting armour glistened orange in the strong light, he drew back his hood and revealed his face to the man. His face was the colour of glowing coal from a fire which might be found within a forester’s lodge on a dark night. The flame red, but relatively short, hair sprouting from Braél’s scalp waved to and fro, searing away like a fire, much like the wild orange flame of the candle which the man held out before him. No lone hairs were to be seen, more like thick tufts fanned away in the air representing the flames of a fire.
    Braél was one of the plane touched, an elemental Genasi, a fire one so it happened, a human carrying the blood of an elemental being which bred with one of Braél’s pure human ancestors many centuries ago in the past. The first children from such a strange relationship would have resembled a fire elemental to a great extent, but gradually as the generations passed, the human blood of each descendant would increase with each new born crossbreed. The blood of the fire elemental would eventually weaken, but still leave the next heir of the long family some hall marks which would still openly give away his heritage. This could happen with a human and an elemental being from any of the four planes, fire, earth, air and water, which made up the material plane in a mixture. Few of even all the elements together were known but could be recognized easily due to the give away traits which they encompassed. Aside from looking different from the majority and being singled out, carrying such blood had its advantages.
    “I see your hatred for this employment has done nothing to diminish your attractiveness,” the man mocked.
    “Maybe so, but my position in our little setup will change this night, as will yours.” came the cold reply from the Fire Genasi. The man could see a dark flame igniting in either of Braél’s eyes. He was losing his patience.
    “You always were a cunning one, Braél, but you shall not intimidate me. Hand over your day’s earnings,” he said flatly, trying to sound unimpressed. Braél tossed the purse of coins to the man and stood up straight. The bound leather pouch chinked softly upon impact with the man’s hands.
    “And what will your so hard earned gold go towards this time? Another wench to sate your lustful greed, maybe? Perhaps another exquisite hunting cat skin for your hall floor?” came the sarcastic, and partly rhetorical, reply. Resolute flames of anger burning away furiously in his eyes, dark red shimmering violently on the surface of eyes.
    “I will be sure to mention your insolence to ‘My Friends’,” said the rogue, the importance within his tone and posture died away towards the end of the sentence as the two fires in Braél’s eyes already boring through him began to blaze fiercely, the angry red clearly visible in the orange light.
    “You just do that now, I’ll be waiting. Be gone with your petty collections, fool,” said Braél, his voice lace with disgust.
    “I wouldn’t act -” the man began, Braél’s hand moved quickly in the orange light, stopping the man mid sentence, as a dagger whistled across the room, the orange flame’s light reflecting from it creating a sequence of flashes in rapid succession with each full spin of the blade. The man, shocked by the pace of the action, then noted the dagger protruding from deep within the wooden wall less than an inch away from his right ear, its blade still quivering from the force of the throw. He knew if he stayed any longer he would almost certainly get hurt.
    “Take your money and leave. Come back when you can face me,” he spoke, the dark red flames seething behind his eyes. The man quickly placed the purse within a deep pocket of baggy green tunic and fled down the corridor, through another door at the end and out into the dark back streets of Waterdeep, leaving his candle on the floor where he dropped it.
    The fires in Braél’s eyes extinguished as his mind cooled down. He held an ember hand out and the dagger flew from its deep, splintered hole in the wall across the room which it previously traversed and came to rest in his hand.
    Braél felt the magical power surge, homing in on his hand as the blade returned; as it made contact with the Genasi’s hand the magical sensation tingled up his arm. Always this happened and every time Braél felt its strong energy tingling in his hand.
    He drew its twin from its hidden sheath, a magical duo of blades that helped Braél in the past evade death in the most dangerous of situations. The crimson red ruby pommel stone of the first dagger and the icy blue sapphire of the second refracted the orange light in tints of a red and purple haze across the warehouse room’s ceiling of the now guttering candle which still lay flaring away upon the floor.
    How beautiful the short twin blades looked in the orange light, each marking engraved on either side of each blade, spanning from tip to hilt, caught the blaze of the candle, lighting up every niche, the runes left by, perhaps, the masterful smith who forged these fine blades, not to mention the mightiness of the wizard who must have enchanted such powerful weapons.
    Each blade gleamed with the deep orange light which had enveloped the room, this did nothing the draw away the magnificence of the golden cross hilts. Each one perfectly rounded for maximum balance, and the ruby and sapphire inset to each dagger at the hilt, identical in size and shape to the pommel gem of each dagger.
    Braél knew of the pair’s magical ability to withdraw from their target back to Braél’s hands, and also of their magnificent severing power which surpassed that of the finest axe, but due to his own ability the manifest and shape raw energy at his will to perform minor tricks of the arcane repertoire, he could sense another talent bound within each blade. Braél did not know how to access it but could sense the magical potential in each dagger, locked away with knowledge unknown to the Genasi.
    “Maybe in time, I shall be able to release this hidden power within you,” he whispered softly to the blades as he slid them back into their hidden sheaths, both concealed masterfully amongst the many black buckles, leather straps and protective reinforced sections.
    The Fire Genasi pulled the leather hood back over face and stepped on the flame of the candle which had recently returned to its former tiny yellow flame, the flame went out and once again he was in the dark. The blacks and whites of the night sight began to return to his vision as he walked silently into the corridor. He scrutinized the other doors in the hall way of the way house, carefully scanning for any would-be spies. His ears caught the thumping of multiple pairs of feet from somewhere outside, getting louder. Braél could guess what was about to happen and wisely stalked back into the room where the meeting had taken place.
    The rush of running feet foretold of the coming of the dirty rogue’s brigade of thugs, none of them particularly clever had been easily duped out of a less than adequate share of collected gold from their victims. The rogue, being somewhat more intelligent, had surrounded himself with these thugs who treated him like a king for protection and power in return for a fair share of the gold, but their brains were not nearly numerically inclined to know two trees from one. The rogue used his ‘friends’ to bully people into getting his way via force, punishing those who got in his way.
    The several sets of pounding footsteps suddenly slowed as they neared the entrance of the room. Torch light flitted across the floor as the sound grew nearer. A fearless grin curved onto Braél’s mouth, as it so often when high risk situations were imminent, knowing he had everything to gain and everything to lose.
    A rather tall human stepped in the doorway, taking no precaution to be careful, torch in right hand and club in left looked around for his opponent in the shadows, and then noted with curiosity the two dancing red light lights leering out at him from deep within the darkness, beyond the range of his torch light. He noticed with even more curiosity the fast whistling noise coming towards him and then realized what just happened. He cried in pain fell back from the doorway against the wall clutching at the two daggers protruding from his chest, blood flowed freely from the wounds as intense pain ran up and down the man’s torso. He tried to stand but slumped back down to the floor. Great was their surprise when the two twin daggers themselves from the fallen thug’s corpse and zipped back into the shadows of the room. His companions looked at one another, not sure what just transcended and not sure what to do next. The dirty rogue, short sword at the ready, motioned for them to go in the room. The thugs, six remaining not including the rogue, funneled into the dark room, three bearing torches and all carrying weapons. Braél, silently crept towards the nearest thug and grasped his daggers with the blades downwards from his hands. He swung his arms back dug the bloodied blades deep into either shoulder; the doomed thug gave a last gasp and fell to the floor, quite dead. The thugs all turned towards Braél and saw him clearly standing in the torch light. Braél backed into the corner of the room, the remaining five thugs coming fast. The Genasi spun both daggers back into the hidden sheath and awaited their approach. The thugs were confident they could take this troublesome man out if they attacked at once, like they so often, and now the fool was unarmed. The thugs were too caught up in the moment to notice the dark flames of determination burning intensity in the Genasi’s eyes in the light of battle and the grin which crept onto Braél’s face. The Genasi held his hands aloft; fingers spread apart and uttered a few quick words under his breath. Bright yellow flames materialized at the tips of his fingers and shot forwards in a sheet. The searing flames from Braél’s finger tips and spread outwards meeting all the thugs in mid charge, unable to dodge past the gliding fire as they ran. The rogue, watching from the doorway, had seen that spell many times in his career but never with such ferocious flames, he guessed it must have been something to do with the Genasi’s bloodline. The thugs all stopped their charge and shrieked as the sheet of flame hit them. The sweltering flames connected with the thugs and scorched their limbs and torsos. They cried in pain as they clutched their blackened and scalded wounds as the last of the fire jet dissipated into the air behind them. Braél didn’t waste the opportunity and whipped his daggers and leaped forward into the fray. The Genasi lunged at a thug, daggers leading the way, his right wrist flicked twice as the ruby dagger sunk into the thug, then again. The sapphire of his left dagger shone wildly in the orange glare as his left arm came forward, the dagger spinning in dizzying patterns through the Genasi’s fingers, ending in a sidelong slash across the helpless hug’s exposed chest. Two deep bloodied holes and a large gash appeared on the thug’s chest before he started to retaliate, his tattered jerkin hanging loosely from around his shoulders. The thug, clutching his sword in two hands, went for a desperate overhead chop, and Braél, more agile than most, threw his left arm high as he spiraled inwards on his right foot. The sword clattered harmlessly onto the high dagger as Braél’s left foot launched towards the man’s knee. The thug’s kneecap shattered and the Genasi’s foot pushed his knee through the otherside of his leg as the limb angle the way it was never designed to go. The somewhat bewildered thug yelped in pain and collapsed to the floor. Braél’s darting display had taken but a few seconds, and the rest of the thugs were now ready for Braél and charged him at once again. Two of the thugs wielding swords came first, a metallic clang resounded as their clumsy swipes both met by a dagger each, again they both attacked, one high and one low but Braél’s arms shot directions, each wrist flicking the blade to knock the oncoming sword to the side. Braél, one dagger to each thug, worked to keep the arcing swings from touching him only now broke into a sweat. Braél swiped with his sapphire dagger at one thug which caught his blade hard, at the same time knocking his other opponent’s sword high with his ruby dagger. The Genasi kicked hard at the man with his weapon high, connecting hard in the chest while he brought his ruby pommel gemmed dagger across his other opponent. The man crumpled to the floor under Braél’s foot, stealing the air from his lungs, while the other man tried to use his strength and body weight to break the weapon lock was too involved to notice the dagger coming across and sinking into his exposed chest. The blade slipped between bone and pierced his lung, he fell away from the blade and the weapon lock to the floor clutching at his wound, his breathing heavy and pained. This battle was over for him.
    The thugs once again took up there weapons and approached the Genasi, more carefully this time. The other two thugs came at Braél from either side hoping to flank him, but their idea was cut short when the unpredictable Genasi darted at one and deftly smacked the morning star to the side with both daggers, leaving the man open to attack. The sapphire pommel gem in the Genasi’s left hand reversed suddenly and motivated back the other way, toward the ruffian’s face. The rounded gem clouted the thug hard in the cheek, his head snapping sideways with the force of the strike, saliva and several teeth ejecting from his mouth in the process. While his left bashed the thug senseless, his two hands working independently, his right grasping the ruby pommel gemmed dagger flicked backwards and intercepted the incoming sword of the single thug, the magical dagger denting the badly crafted sword deeply. Braél spun into his last strike as the thug dropped unconsciously to the floor, a rather large lump forming on the side of his head, came to face the final thug head on, both daggers ready to strike. Braél brought his daggers back defensively and crouched, awaiting the thug’s impending attack. The ruffian threw himself recklessly forwards, sword arm leading. Braél lurched forwards, ruby dagger parrying the sword high while his sapphire dagger flew low. The low dagger plunged deep into the thug’s thigh, who seemed almost not to notice. The Genasi snapped his ruby dagger back suddenly and spun it throw his fingers and angled the short blade side, his arm shot forwards, cunningly snaking around his opponent’s lumbering sword and sliced a jagged line up the man’s forearm, warm blood spurting out of the serious wound. Braél snapped his wrist at the top of his swipe, the tip of the dagger catching the thug’s chin and biting deeply through soft flesh. The Genasi drove his sapphire gemmed dagger sideways out of the man’s leg cutting through even more flesh and skimming bone, further mangling his already mortally wounded limb. His daggers whipped away from the thug as spun away, allowing the thug to fall to the floor, his arm and chin bleeding profusely and his mutilated leg unable to support his weight. The formally winded thug started to clamber back to his feet in hope to rejoin the already finished battle, but swiftly descended with a groan as the ruby gemmed dagger flashed into his back, rejoining his butchered friends on the floor.
    The dagger returned to his open hand as the Genasi looked up from gory work to the doorway, the numerous torches still sizzling away merrily on the floor lighting up the room, the ring leader in the green tunic with the short sword was nowhere to be seen, the filthy rogue had long since taken his leave from the dark warehouse.

    * * * * *

    Celandril, the sylvan elf, leant back in his chair in a corner of The Parrying Falchion Inn deep in thought. He slapped both his legs and the nearby table and crossed them over, the caked on mud from the usually dirty adventurer’s high, hard leather boots came lose and flew in several directions across the table. The many half-full tankards and mugs of brownish alcoholic beverages slopping and frothing their contents messily over the dark wooden surface with the force, their owners mostly in their own little world or out on the floor, therefore not caring too much. The brightly-burning torches in brasks on every wall burned away brightly, casually chucking their flittering yellow light through the small four-sectioned windows into the gloom outside but being eventually defeated by the wall of blackness.
    Celandril’s leaf green cloak, mostly trapped between him and the chair as he sat, waved gently in the draft coming from the open windows as it hung down from his chair and licked the floor slightly with each new gust. The hood at the top of the cloak lay slumped over Celandril’s head, hiding his face from any curious onlookers, his long nut brown hair exited the hood’s concealing shadow, wafting also in the breeze from the window behind him. The elf’s great sword lay, sheathed in its long scabbard, against the wall to his right. Celandril was short for an elf measuring just under five feet tall, the great sword he wielded was actually a full six feet so people often wondered how the elf brandished such a weapon with his stature.
    The Inn housed many of the same tables as the one Celandril sat by at the back of the room, opposite the main door to the inn. The bar ran all along the left wall, its smooth surface disturbed by the many spillage puddles from the inn’s generally tipsy inhabitance. On every table sat many mugs and cups, some empty and some full, but the barman seemed not to care (or did a good job of pretending not to) as he stood behind the long bar polishing an already sparkling mug with his blue apron, occasionally moving a bottle from the giant rack running across the whole wall behind his to another spot for no real reason. Around one table sat six of Waterdeep’s fabled city watch, looking mind numbingly bored but nevertheless ready to jump into action at the drop of a mug.
    Suddenly, the door flew open wide on its hinges and banged nosily on the wall, bouncing back slightly with the force of which is was opened. Celandril remained motionless and unnoticed as he did when he often came to this place, silently brooding at the back of the room. The elf did, however, throw an inquisitive eye towards the door from under his hood with more than passing interest. In from the darkness stumbled a man wearing a long, green tunic, his long black hair flailing wildly and launching droplets of sweat as he came to a halt from his charge. This man was a wanted criminal, Celandril knew and couldn’t believe his luck, so the sylvan elf chose to act.
    Celandril took his feet from the table and slammed them down hard on the floor and stood up from his seat, slinging the huge scabbard and sword over his shouldn’t to rest on his back behind his cloak.
    As he stood up, the green cloak fell back from his form revealing the tightly hugging chain mail covering his chest and thighs, crafted from the finest mithril by elven craftsmen and magically strengthened to augment the hardness of the metal. The armour fitted the elf’s form perfectly and moved in harmony with his arms and legs, no chains chinking in the slightest, a slight green sheen accompanied the beautifully forged elven chain.
    Around Celandril’s hip was a leather belt, attached to the belt was a sheathed dagger and a belt pouch shaped into many small cylinders. Wielding such a big weapon sometimes called for a shorter blade to help the elf out of certain situations where his large sword was rendered useless, and a specially made belt pouch for holding tiny vials of magical liquid within quick and easy reach had improved, or saved, the elf in many combat situations in the past.
    The man still stood in the doorway, breathing hard and sweating like a pig, stared hard through his drooping locks as the short elf strode confidently towards him. Celandril drew back his green hood and let it rest on his back and revealed his face. His smoothed, almost perfect facial traits reflected perfectly his sylvan nature, the high blood that coursed through him and the legendary complexity that nearly all those of elven affinity bore. His long, brown, smooth hair flowed down to his shoulders as the hood fell back, the long, tell-tale pointed elven ears protruding from either side of the elf’s head through the curtain of hair, parted either way and kept back at his forehead by a headband visible from the front but hidden from sight by his hair from all other directions. The headband consisted of three thick bands of gold entwined with each other; the smooth, burnished metal reflected the fanning flames of the torches in the immediate wall brasks to give the appearance the very metal was flowing. Celandril’s deep hazel eyes, quite a rarity amongst the wood elves, bore through the man as he paced forwards.
    The six peacekeepers settled back to watch the spectacle unfold, the City of Splendours houses two separate armed forces, the guard and the watch, these six being part of the watch. The city guard serves as Waterdeep's soldiery, and the watch is the local police force, generally performing duties that promote the idea that Waterdeep is a city open to all who know how to behave themselves. Each of the six sat down to the side wore fine leather armour, reinforced with sections chain mail at the vital spots of their bodies, each suit of armour was coloured green, black, and gold. They seemed to all have the fabled Waterdeep horn strapped to their belts that was so often used to call for backup if the situation they face escalated out of hand. A number of these six were readying their short but stout poles if the need arised, such things were occasionally needed in the city, especially late at night in an Inn cluttered with drunken rowdies.
    Celandril came to stop before the thief in the doorway, baring his path into the Inn, Celandril’s sword in its great scabbard not touching the floor due to the sideways fashion in which the elf bore the sword across his back.
    “Greetings, Gandron of the thieves of Waterdeep, I see you most honest profession has been treating you well.” Celandril spoke, his melodic voice emanated from his mouth, seeming to chimed gracefully with every syllable, reaching in deep to the roots of pronunciation and delivering each word with a pleasant sound to it. His most harmonious and elegant voice drew in the watch’s attention even more, the obvious sarcasm had done nothing to diminish the elven pitch in his verbal sounds.
    “Who are you and what are you for, elf?” the dirty man spat, having nearly regained his breath.
    “By the order of the city, you must surrender any weapons you carry and come with my friends here.” Celandril relayed, somewhat harshly as the guards watched, curious to know who this man was the elf seemed know was a criminal.
    “How fortuitous it is that you should deliver yourself to myself and the justice you deserve. You see, my friends,” The sylvan elf said, to the watch. “A little bird told me this elusive thief, Darrin, has risen to some standing in the back allies and know holds a measure of influence. I believe he already has a large number of ruffian acquaintances ready to do his bidding and is well on the way to forming himself a nice little slot in the shadows feeding off others. I trust you guards do not want any more particularly organised crime groups operating on the streets anytime soon.” The guards hastily shook their heads, recalling the amount of bloodshed and violence the last few structured groups of criminals to surface brought with them.
    “I would love to stay and chat with you gentlemen, but I have much work to do,” the thief filthy rogue replied smugly as he whipped out a short sword from under the folds of his green tunic.
    Confident that his could stick the sword through Celandril before the elf retrieved the lethal and somewhat over sized sword from his back, the thief thrust his sword fast towards the elf’s neck. Celandril, however, had more than expected something like this and already his slender, elven fingers were grasping the grip of the belted dagger which the dirty rogue obviously hadn’t seen. The silver, grasped in his right hand, snapped from its sheath at Celandril’s hip and intercepted the short sword with a deft smack to the side, the sword waving harmlessly to the side. The elf quickly pulled his arm back the other way, his muscles reversed the momentum of the parry, and the silver blade of the dagger whistled home to the rogue’s unguarded neck. The pointed blade bit through the filthy rogue’s flesh and into the back of his gullet, warm blood filtering around the buried blade’s hilt and spewed out of the wound. The dirty rogue’s black eyes looked at the cloaked elf holding the dagger in his neck one last time as his lids shut and his evil life ended.
    Celandril slipped his blade from the dead rogue’s neck and speedily wiped either side of the bloodied metal on the man’s green tunic, staining it horribly, as the filthy man’s corpse fell backwards in the doorway.
    “I trust that I have broken no laws in retaliating to such a vicious attack, my friends,” once again the mellow voice washed over the six guards who were still gawping at the corpse and the fresh red blood dripping down the door and the surrounding frame. One of them regarded the elf for a moment and then quickly shook his head, not wanting any dealings with this mysterious elf.
    “Besides, you gentlemen should be glad. I did you a grander favour than you will know in disposing of this heartless individual.” Celandril explained in his high strung voice as his returned the silver blade to its place.
    “What has transcended here?” came a voice in a severe tone from behind the elf, towards the doorway. The members of the watch leant from their chairs to see around the elf to this newcomer, the barmen had long ago stopped polishing his over polished mug and was now crouching behind his bar, seeing one person killed in his bar was enough for one night.
    Celandril slowly turned around to look upon this latest arrival. The man, it seemed, wore tightly fitting pitch black leather armour from head to toe, much like Celandril’s mithril chain mail, the many straps and buckles perfectly aligned to the man’s build. A taut, studded, dark hood was pulled hard over the man’s face as to hide his features.
    The elf was surprised he had not heard this new rogue, obviously affiliated in someway with the corpse that lay dormant in the doorway, enter the Inn. His keen elven ears normally picked up the slightest of noises but this rogue, probably some kind of assassin or murderer by the look of him, had slipped by Celandril’s sensitive hearing with his stealthy movements. This was nothing Celandril couldn’t equal, though, being an experienced hunter and no guest to the woodland realms.
    “I merely finished off a thorn in Waterdeep’s side, gave a well known criminal his last slip,” the man seemed slightly taken aback at the ring in the elven ranger’s voice, the pure joviality carried within each flick of the elf’s tongue.
    “He was mine to finish, and you stole my retribution,” came the stern reply, the man’s pose based into a slight stance, his knees bent and ready to spring.
    “A lone enforcer of justice cannot be held responsible if a lawbreaker is punished at the expense of another arrogant thief’s selfish needs and desires.”
    “I am no thief, fool, and neither do I undertake things for personal gain. My reasons for vengeance are mine alone to know,” he replied, anger dripping from every syllable. The elf noticed two shimmering orbs within the shadows of the hood begin to appear, fiery circles like eyes staring into him.
    “I send my condolences to those poor souls but alas, it is done,” the elf replied somewhat jovially, considering the situation.
    “I must be elsewhere. I shall not forget our meeting, elf.” The elf could sense the fiery anger of these man, almost resonating from his form, bur those rare hazel sylvan eyes matched the stare with equal intensity. Both considered their next action, analyzing their opponent, scanning for strengths and weaknesses Both stared back at what seemed, they both realized, to be an alternate vastly different methods. Both methods the other disliked.
    “Conflict would be foolish, we both want people like him dead,” Celandril pointed to the corpse at the door.
    “Agreed, but I do not like others intervening with my work, do not cross me again,” the rogue warned as he spun of his heel and padded silently out through the open door of the tavern into the darkness, stepping over the gutted body of the dirty thief.

    Perious Sombrul, Leader of the Executioner Thieves within Waterdeep leaned back into the high, red cushioned leather chair in front of the open fire in his personal chamber. The Executioners, one of the more secretive roguish unions that did not leave their mark upon the murdered corpses of their victims and rarely mentioned their name to any, except those fortunate enough , or unfortunate as the case may be, to have vital or important dealings with the group.
    Such things rarely happened so when they came around, the Executioners treated the matter with the utmost caution and suspicion, the Leader himself normally had first hand meetings in such business also. Perious Sombrul preferred to keep his network in the dark, only the highest ranking, all of whom were accomplished assassins, murderers and killers knew of the leader. This group, not even a proper guild, were the current but unknown crime organization within Waterdeep’s alleys since the Xanathar guild. They may have been other secret guilds and groups, but Perious did not care.
    The lower ranking members were just the average pickpocket or scoundrel from the street who would bring the daily income of gold, trinkets and other such riches. In return they would be able to keep a portion, very small though it may be, of all they loot, an occasional low value magic item of some sort, and also the protection of tougher members of the guild.
    If anyone got in their way then they reported it to their superior, and a lynch mob would be dispatched to deal with the person. Braél Valerask worked for this particular group, and was valued highly by Perious because of his innate ability to operate in total darkness, the finesse he displayed with his twin daggers and his magical training. The Genasi was not always in the Leader’s good books and at times was viewed by most of the group as untrustworthy, that is to the small portion of it which even knew he existed.
    Braél was kept as a common money harvester, taking from the rich without them even knowing it. This sort of simple, clever deceit brought most of the group’s income to them. Braél, however, surpassed nearly all the affiliates of the guild in skill so was often signed up to the higher missions which involved more than just pinching gold from a poor noble.
    These assignments were generally things like planned robberies, assassinations, raids, infiltrations and spying, to perhaps discern the intentions of other border guilds or the movements of the city guard. Braél never undertook the assassination jobs, but assisted the more wicked associates of the group if was pressured by the Leader himself. Perious allowed himself and the network to be known to Braél due to the Fire Genasi’s verified ability at the job but kept him out of the highest circle within the group because of his sometimes unpredictable behavior and untrustworthy attitude. Sombrul felt quite safe surrounded by his secret network of assassins and links to provoke the dangerous, short tempered Genasi and remain unharmed.
    The fire danced away atop of the bundle of logs, currently searing away the tops of the logs from the gnarled wooden brown to a crusty black, placed with the low alcove as Perious pressed his back into the chair. The room, within a normal house on the street so now one would expect something to be going on in such an obvious place, was no larger than 10 feet either way served as the Leader’s office and living area. His very wide, comfortable bed, complete with bedposts and curtains, was stationed to the left of the roaring fire. His business desk lay along the grey stone wall to the right, the many drawers contained records of all manner of crimes and the gains which they made for the guild as well as the first hand accounts from the rogues who carried out the jobs, none of these were Braél’s. This was so the Guild Leader could incriminate and other wise have an edge over any possible defects or betrayers through the law by acquiring evidence of all who had a hand in his guild, no matter how big or small. Braél, however, was no fool and knew better than to shackle himself even more than he already had to Perious. In the desk was also listed the positions and of each member and the benefits which the placement granted them. Perious believed that knowing his group’s name itself was a true reward, and a greater incentive it was to know the name of the guild leader. The door, positioned in the center of the wall opposite the fire and currently behind the chair, shuddered with a double knock.
    “Enter.” Perious called back towards the door. The door handle turned and the door swung open. A short man, no taller than four and a half feet, could just see the tip of the Guild Leader’s bald head protruding over the lip of the chair’s headrest.
    “My lord, I have a report concerning the Genasi.” He informed his lord as he pulled the filthy, matted black hair to the side from his face. Drensil, the man was called, held a high position in the group. It was his job, along with three or four others, to collect information whatever way possible, often by sending out teams of spies. Drensil was within the highest ring of the group, the assortment of professional cutthroats and killers at his disposal.
    “Good, how did the meeting fare?” he asked, curious to gain some insight into the Genasi’s current plans.
    “The Efreeti child remains defiant and brash as usual, nothing untoward except his level of tolerance seems to have dropped dramatically; he is unafraid to use force and suffers no scorn,” Drensil explained.
    Perious pushed his chair backwards and stood up to face his subordinate, the guild leader’s normally harsh features arrayed in an expression of rage. His hand clasped tightly upon the hilt of the sheathed rapier hanging from the black belt around his waist, the knuckles of his fingers whitening and the veins in his hand emerging higher from his skin as his squeezed with more force. The blue network of veins beneath his smooth head could be clearly seen now pulsating with each pump of his enraged heart. The tightly fitting leather jerkin which he wore around aligned completely to the toned muscles of his body, an awesome display of human physique in pristine perfection. The compact, corded muscles of his forearms stood out as his hold on the rapier hilt and the clenching of his fist tightened, the group symbol clearly etched onto Perious’ left forearm as his skin flowed over the entwined muscle beneath. A tremendously detailed, black, serrated knife.
    “I trust we still have our grip over him?” the enraged leader growled.
    “Of course,” replied the short rogue. “But it begins.”

    [ January 06, 2005, 20:35: Message edited by: ShadowSong ]
  2. Erebus Gems: 16/31
    Latest gem: Shandon

    Oct 22, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Space out the paragraphs a bit to make it easier on the eyes, other than that, good job.
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