~ Chapter 6: Welcome to Neverwinter ~
?And so the mighty warriors came to the end of their lengthy, needlessly complicated journey!? Ele?ena exclaimed. She was a bit on the pale-green side but otherwise no worse to wear.
?So this is Neverwinter? Suppose it's passable ? for a city built by humans.? It was quite clear that he was completely disapproving of it. ?Can't say I care for it, though. You want a proper city, you build down, not up.?
?This place feels? unnatural, the wood and stone, it's as if they've been silenced.? The druidess said.
Neeshka was irritated. She?s been hearing too much complaining for her liking. ?I wish you'd both
be silent. The entire trip was just one long whine from the two of you.? She cleared her throat, ?Oh, me stomach feels funny. This boat rocks like a baby's cradle.? And just as she readied herself to take on the druid someone yanked her tail and sent her plummeting to the ground, efficiently cutting her monologue.
But it wasn?t the dwarf or the blue elf that had the honors. It was the reserved (or not so reserved) druid who had the honors of shutting the tiefling up. Even the balance of druid?s eternal inner peace can be tipped.
?If you wish for us not to refer to complaints your various exploits have brought on us during this trip you will keep your mouth shut.? And that was true. Many things, mostly gold coins, have gone missing on the ship, making the tiefling the prime suspect. The sailors thought so because of her horns. The three companions knew so because Neeshka was Neeshka.
?Way to go Elanee,? Ele?ena clapped approvingly.
?A good enough way to deal with their kind,? Khelgar joined in. ?Makes me sad I didn?t think of it first.?
Neeshka got up to her feet and spun around fuming, ?Why do people constantly make a grab for my tail!? Does it have a magical floating sign on it saying ?pull here??!?
?No. But you have to admit it?s quite in the arm?s reach,? Ele?ena grinned wickedly.
The tiefling walked over and leaned over the elf with all the menacing presence her blood allowed her. Ele?ena had to lean back and almost fell down under the weight of her rucksack. ?You just wait shorty, you?ll get yours.?
?Ahem.? The druidess cleared her throat in a successful attempt to get their attention. ?Shouldn?t we concern ourselves with finding an appropriate lodgings for the night??
?Aye, this dwarf could use a meal or two to replace the lost one.??Well someone recovers from seasickness quickly enough.?
Ele?ena looked around the docks and then back at her companions. ?This is my first time in Neverwinter so I?m not- well no, I have no idea where Uncle?s Inn is.?
?Don?t worry,? Neeshka wagged her tail. ?I know Neverwinter like the back of my hand.?
?That would be the alleys of Neverwinter I reckon.? Khelgar chuckled in his beard when all of a sudden ? and quite expectedly really ? a tail hit him in the back of his bald head. He should really consider wearing that helmet. And keeping his mouth shut.
?Stuff it, Khelgar.? The tiefling gritted through clenched teeth.
?Fine, fine. Do what you do best Neeshka and find the inn. And Elanee, could you please make sure they don?t
burn the city in the process??
?I can do that, but what about you??
?And in the meantime I?ll relieve us of this load. My back is killing me.? Yes, that was a whine in the end, because her back were hurting badly and she would complain about it.
?Are you sure you won?t get lost while alone out there? Neverwinter?s a big city and you are-?
?Provincial. I know. I can deal with it, I?m not speaking a language from another plane.?
?There are thugs out there. And not one to be messed with, let me tell you.?
?Pffft. As if they can be more dangerous then lizardman, walking corpses, duergar, crazy cultists or frenzied githyanki.? Ele?ena said disappearing between one of the guard posts and a building.
The others weren?t so sure whether their esteemed leader made a good point or a bad one.
? ? ? ? ? ?
Ele?ena stood patiently in front of the aging merchant as he continued to examine the chalice made of gold she had brought to him. Or, better said, its worth.
She had found this chalice along with the shard in the ruins in the swamp, but had long since used its healing powers ? long before she even reached the Weeping Willow
inn to her embarrassment. Again, it was really something no one needed to know about.
Having sold all other junk she had been acquainted lately, the golden chalice of Lathander was all that remained but the armor and weapon merchants here didn?t want to buy an artifact that couldn?t do anything. And it was just her luck that the local magic shop was locked down with some very unfriendly guardian elementals, might she add.
So, the only remaining option was to come here, to Hagen?s Imports, recommended by his fellow shopkeepers, dealing mostly in antiquities. And so she was waiting now for the old man to evaluate its worth ? though she had to say that with all the times it had saved her life (all three) she had found it at the time invaluable.
But that was then and this was now, and only mad-bear-transformed-druid inflicted wounds rivaled with the pain her oversized, overfilled bag had inflicted on her back. Which prompted her to another very important decision: as soon as she got enough many she was going to buy magic bags. She was going to buy lots and lots of magic bags.
?Well, it?s old, that much is given,? the man, Hagen, said and Ele?ena?s pointy ears perked up.?Well, unless the long closed ruin had been used as a garbage dump by the local adventuring groups then it certainly can?t be new,?
the elf thought with a quiet huff watching the man?s long shaky fingers run over the object.
?Are you interested in it??
He frowned slightly putting the chaliced down on the cloth, ?There are buyers who are interested in both beautifully made objects and magic one together. Especially if they can re-imbue it.?
?You?ll take it then?? Ele?ena was quickly getting tired and hungry, and she wanted to find the bad that didn?t doesn?t move and food that doesn?t wriggle on the plate when she tried to stab it with a fork. Her diplomatic skills were not at its best in the late and hungry evenings.
?It has seen a lot of battle,? he said with a trace of doubt.
?And has survived. And, more importantly, it had helped me survive,? she quipped instantly. ?It?s durable at least,? she tried to persuade him.
?But it had still seen battle,? he said calmly and sighed. The girl obviously wasn?t going to budge. ?I?ll take it but it won?t be worth much.??Just as well,?
she too wanted to be done and over with this.
?It?ll be worth nothin? if you don?t pay up your due,? gruff voice spoke as the front door slammed open. Ele?ena, a little stunned, looked up from the counter at the bearded man strolling in like he owned the place.
?Caleb,? the old man started glancing at his customer, ?can we not settle this later?? He said calmly but she could see that he was unnerved.
?You?ve been stalin? for too long Hagen. You pay now or you pay in blood.? The thug threw the merchant, and especially her, a dirty look.
If she had to admit Ele?ena would be the first one to say that she wasn?t the best choice to deal with zombies, spiders, wolves, and the general population of swamp and outer planes. However, give her a thug any day of the week and she guaranteed she would turn him into mincemeat. And this man was a thug. Plain dangerous thug, and she didn?t like the look she was receiving nor did she like didn?t like the way his hands rested on his weapons.
He moved closer playing with his dagger. Hagen?s shoulder slaked. He didn?t whish for anyone to witness his humiliation. Caleb picked up the chalice not taking his eyes from the merchant.
?You were late with last two payments. You know what that means Hagen.?
Likely thinking it to be some ancient piece of junk, he threw the gold chalice over his shoulder. Not even thinking ? for rarely she did that ? Ele?ena dove after it. She caught it just barely before it reached the stone floor, with which her head collided to. She didn?t get paid for it, therefore it was still hers ? and the bastard decided to throw it around. The elf huffed into the thin layer of dust ? oh, how she hated thugs.
?The gold or your daughter?s life,? she heard him continue to threaten the man behind her. ?The way I see it, your choice is simple.? Bastard.
Standing up she felt a tug on the inside, close to her heart and instinctively reached for it. The invocation fell easy from her lips. Ele?ena grinned.
Just as he grabbed the merchant?s collar and was about to press the dagger against the old man?s throat like a fiery whip something cracked across his back. Caleb spun around and his eyes widened. There, in girl?s hands was a long chain of pure eldritch energy. And a mad look in her glowing eyes. But that was all he saw before she, with startling speed, dashed towards him and coiled the chain twice around his neck.
?I wasn?t finished here asshole,? she hissed in his ear and more eldritch energy surged through her increasing the pressure on his neck. She didn?t even register when the man?s body suddenly went limp in her grasp.
Ele?ena released it suddenly and stepped back, the energy dissipating. With wide red eyes she surveyed what had just happened and then looked at the startled old merchant. Her mouth opened in confusion, then closed.
Finally she said, ?I think I just killed him.? ?In cold blood,?
she added to herself.
? ? ? ? ? ?
Ele?ena ran in, slammed the door behind her and leaned on them ? all in one breath.
?Did you get lost again??
?Sure she did.?
?I didn?t get lost.? Ele?ena huffed with indignity. ?I was delayed.?
?Oh yeah, by what??
?By marvelous fauna that makes this city.?
?Is the big city overwhelming for a poor little farmer like you?? Neeshka cooed patting her head.
?I don?t have time to be overwhelmed. I?ll be overwhelmed when I stop being attacked.? The elf grumbled displeased pushing past the tiefling and sat down on empty chair with a huff.
Hagen had told her that he would inform the watch. Ele?ena didn?t think he was particularly grateful to her for what had transpired. After all, it was more then likely that the rest of the gang would be after him now.
?It takes talent to screw people?s lives like this.?
And she didn?t even want to remember how it all happened.
?You?re not in the city for half an hour and already you?ve attracted problems,? Neeshka waved her hands in desperation. Of all her companions, the tiefling had to be the one who talked, made snide remarks, complained and generally didn?t shut up the most. Hells, she even managed to outtalk the blue elf and Ele?ena never thought that was possible.
She sighed looking at the druidess. Gods, sometimes she wished she had an endless supply of patience like Elanee did. ?Did it take long to find this place??
The wood elf shook her head, ?Fortunately it was just around the corner.?
?Aye, we?ve disembark practically at its doorstep,? Khelgar said while he waited for his tankard to be refilled.
Well, wasn?t that great? She runs around the entire district trying to find this place (and avoiding a ridiculous amount of thugs along the way) and they had a two-step walk to reach it. Wasn?t her luck just grand?
In her grumpy thought she spotted the half-elf with an apron approaching. Since the barkeeper was still at his place she could only assume that this was the owner, also known as: the wavered Uncle.
?Well, now, what can I do for you? Bit of venom for the belly, perhaps? Or maybe a tankard or two to shave the edge off your day??
?One question first,? the blue elf raised her hand wanting to clarify something first ? among other things as well. ?Is this the Sunken Flagon, since the sign outside seems to be a little? unkempt?? And that was putting it mildly.
?It is indeed, finest establishment in the Docks for a fine tankard of ale and some good conversation.? The half-elf said proudly.
?Really? With the things drawn on that piece of wood outside, I halfway expected it to be a brothel.?
The half-elf?s eyes widened for a moment before narrowing with fury as he turned around to the bar. ?Bloody street rats. Sal! I told you to replace the damn thing of a signpost.?
?The carver said he had too much to do now,? the bald barkeep returned pouring another tankard of ale to the well known dwarf.
?Carver? Why in the hells did you go to him for!??
?You said you wanted it to look re-spec-table
,? the barkeep returned calmly.
The half-elf rubbed his eyes and dragged his palm over his face. Through his fingers he looked at the small blue elf that was now biting her lips in order to prevent herself from bursting out in a maniacal laugh. Duncan had a strange feeling that he had just been scammed for a good measure.
?So, who's the owner of this inn?? Ele?ena managed to say without too much
mirth in her voice.
His eyes, if possible, narrowed even more. He looked at her as if she was there to collect on some debt. ?You mean old Duncan? Well now, if you're looking to collect on some debt, I'll tell you that he's a drunk and he hasn't got two coppers to his name.?
Ele?ena looked at the half-elf who slung the rag over his shoulder. If one looked real hard a family resemblance could almost be seen ? hair and eyes mostly, and none of the behavior which was so characteristic for her father. Why hadn?t Daeghun ever introduced her to him? Or even better, why not let him raise her?
?I'm his niece, I'm related.?
. I can see that. Thing is, last I heard Duncan was still a Realms man, so what part of the family tree did you fall out of???Womanizer. That?s why.?
There was no way in hells that her foster father would let her be raised with someone like that, family or no. ?Daeghun sent me.?
For a moment he was silent. ?Daeghun, eh?? He studied her for a second, his face turning serious. ?So the time's come, has it? Troubles chasing on your heels, and you barely know why??
There was a regretful tone to his voice when he spoke, ?Suppose Daeghun told you less than half of what you need to know, then sent you packing. Don't take it hard, done it to me twice in my life, all for good reason.? Ele?ena wondered whether that supposed to be consoling. ?I can probably guess why you're here, but why don't you go ahead and tell me anyway.?
?He didn?t say anything, apart from: ?find my damn half-brother and ask him about the shards?.?
Duncan rolled his eyes. It was typical Daeghun all right. ?Oh, did he? Nothing more than I did years ago, plain silver near as we could tell, you and those shards were all that were left of that West Harbor battle.?
?Duncan? I thought you said that shard was magic ? didn't you?? The barkeep ?Sal? asked in slight confusion.
of an enchantment on it is what that eel Sand said, but nothing of importance. Probably residue from demon's fire, or maybe wizard magic.?
? Sounds important to me.?
?And that, Sal, is why you are cleaning tables, and I own
this place. Those shards were magic, yes, a ?trace?, but again, it was Sand, and he's a fool.? The half-elf was irritated but had tried to play it off. ?Anyway, barely worth mentioning ? more sentimental value than anything else. That really why you came all this way, to hear about your mother??
?My mother? What does she have to do with this?? Ele?ena?s head snapped up faster then it would if there were cookies on the table. This night was starting to get full of surprises.
Duncan looked at her with surprise, ?Yeah, your mother ? Esmerelle, since you were asking about the shards,? then his eyes widened and he shook his head. ?What, Daeghun still keeping that inside? It's a wonder he doesn't crack down the middle.?
?It?s a wonder I don?t crack down the middle. Why doesn?t anyone tell me these things??
He seemed to realize that he had overstepped his bounds and sighed, mentally cursing his very much older brother. ?Eh, you know, I have no call to say that. I think that's why he buried that first shard ? and gave the other one to me.
?How are the shards and my mother related?? Ele?ena was persistent and determent. For years her father kept silent about it and if her talkative uncle knew something then she wasn?t about to pass the chance to drag it out of him.
?I think you might have been better off being raised by wolves if Daeghun didn't share that. There's a lot I'm sure he never told you, but listen ? it's his place to tell you, not mine.? The blue elf grumbled something and stubbornly locked her eyes with the floor, until her uncle raised her chin to look at him, ?He'll tell you when he's ready, I think ? but it's best you hear it from him. Let's stick to the shards for now.?
Ele?ena nodded and sighed. Stick to the problem now, she could always get sour over her ?dad? later. ?You keep mentioning him but who is this Sand??
Well, if he was in a sentimental mood earlier then he was positively livid now. From that Ele?ena gathered that he and this person were not on good terms. ?A hedge wizard, somehow set up a shop in the Docks, but it's telling enough he can only run a business down here in the crack of Neverwinter. Got a dry wit, and he'll always rub you the wrong way, so his name's well-chosen.? He shrugged cooling off a bit, ?Still, I suppose I trust him enough, and having a wizard close by certainly tends to keep fools from causing too much trouble. Well, me and Daeghun took the shard to him, back when he lived in the Merchant Quarter. Before his run of bad luck. But he couldn't get much from it, just faint traces.?
?I brought another shard ? and it's definitely magic. And since it's got power now ? maybe he can get another read from it.?
The half-elf?s eyes widened in alarm, and this told her there was more to it than Duncan let on. ?You brought it here? dug it up from those ruins? Now why in the Nine Hells would you go digging up the past like that?? Again his face took an angry, serious expression. ?Look ? and listen. There's no good in picking up history's bones, especially where that warlock's concerned. I heard the tales, and Daeghun told me what happened at West Harbor that night.?
?Well he told me to do so! I didn?t even know it existed until the village was attacked so don?t snap on me!? She huffed and that seemed to calm him a bit. ?Can I see the other shard now??
?Here?? To her surprise he pulled it out from his pocket. At least she won?t have to go on a yet another series of quests to recover it as she feared she?d have to. ?I've always kept it close, for some reason, didn't want to leave it out of my sight. Seemed unremarkable, but I find that sometimes time will tell. Had Sand examine it a long time ago, but he turned up nothing.?
Unlike the one she had found covered in dust in the ruins this shard was kept in hands frequently. She could tell just by the number of fingerprints and smudges on it sooth surface. She rolled the shard in her hands feeling the hum of magic pass through her. With two shards so close it was even stronger then before and it felt pleasantly soothing.
?You think that wizard of yours can take a look at these again??
Duncan snorted. ?Well, it's worth a shot ? but don't pay him any coin in advance, that's all I'll say. In fact, that viper would be best o-?
?Ah? it seems I have arrived just in time to deflect the usual barrage of slander from the local innkeeper.? A smooth, but filled with sarcasm, voice cut in on her uncle and Ele?ena turned around to see a short elf dipping into an exaggerated bow.
?Sand.? The rag in Duncan?s hands was nearly torn in two.
Ele?ena looked between the two of them and immediately caught on what was happening. The rival had entered the building. Let the fight commence.
?Yes, it is good to see you're still sober enough to recognize me, Duncan-? he sniffed, ?past the stale beer, vinegar, faint sweat, failed aspirations, unwashed tunic? I thought perhaps you had already had one tankard too many for the day. But?? Again he sniffed the air and turned towards the blue elf standing next to his neighborhood nemesis. ?Why, your guest here has the smell of a Harborman about them. Faint, but there.?
?Hah, I told you we should?ve done something with that smell of yours,? Khelgar chuckled from behind her.
?Shut up and drink your ale Khelgar,? Ele?ena hissed with a sweet smile
?I thought Duncan was keeping company too good for him, now I see I was right. Duncan, you could learn a few things from your guest.? The wizard sounded amused, maybe secretly intrigued as well.
?Still passing off those two-copper fair weather charms to the locals, Sand?? Duncan fired back immediately.
He sniffed disdainfully, ?You have no appreciation for my talents - and after all I've done for you.? He sighed dramaticly, ?To think you could survive a fortnight without my ale purgative ? why, you would be buried in the tombs with the rest of the Neverwinter traitors ? a betrayer of barkeepers everywhere
.? He waved a hand dismissively, ?But enough about you and your ?adventurous? exploits on the tavern floor. I heard my name mentioned, and oddly enough, almost in a tone that suggested I could help.? Sand?s pale eyes glittered teasingly. As they, presumably, always did after a successful into laden with insults.
Itching to strangle the short wizard with his rag Duncan subdued the urge and gestured to his niece, ?This here's kin??
Sand raised an eyebrow drawling sarcastically, ?I'm not really seeing the family resemblance.?
??and we need your help concerning the shard. Both of them.?
?Shard? That chunk of silver you showed me so long ago? I do hope you're not going to try to pawn it to me again, I am no longer interested.? Ele?ena?s eyes narrowed on the wizard. She had risked her life because of that ?chunk of silver? and this petulant child of a wizard had the gall to try and pretend he didn?t want it.
?Besides, as I recall
you said the piece of junk had sentimental value, which, upon viewing your establishment, is perfectly understandable. Didn?t your Uncle or Cousin or Brother or whatever make off with the other shard? I thought you only had one now.?
?It found its way back ? so to speak. We need you to look at both of them again. Properly, this time.?
?Oh, very well, give them here and let me see what my keen arcane senses can determine.? He took the shards from her hands and Ele?ena decided she didn?t like his flippant attitude one bit. Sand started to chant something ? she wasn?t that familiar with magic ? and it appeared to go well when suddenly it fizzled and the entire room was floored by a strong blast.
Pain? was everywhere. Fortunately, she wasn?t the only one feeling it.
?Well? it seems to have some? resentment to being scryed. That is quite different than last time.? Sand coughed picking himself up from the floor.
Ele?ena just loved intelligent wizards. She especially loved how their intelligence always seemed to popup only after
the damage was done.
The confusion on elf?s usually sour face was obvious and evident for everyone to see. ?Are you sure these are the same shards? The power in them? why, it's definitely stronger than last time? much stronger.?
Duncan was irritated. He had a bump on his head to prove he was irritated. ?Oh, so now they're magical? I'm not paying you for two failed divinations, you charlatan.?
The wizard snapped back immediately, ?It's not a matter of divination, you one-tankard drunk. There is something about these shards ? without knowing their history, even my considerable talents cannot unlock their mysteries.??What considerable talents??
Ele?ena stood up picking up the chards and rubbing her sore head that had the unfortunate to meet with the chair on the way down. By the time she managed to sort herself past the throbbing head the two were on it again. Words like, ?charlatan? and ?drunkard? passed around with random (her uncle) and not so random manner (the witty short wizard).?And there they go.?
Ele?ena sighed, hanged her head in defeat and pulled the chair next to the bar. Taking a page from Khelgar?s book she gestured the barkeeper to bring her a drink as well.
?Do they do this often?? She asked when Sal placed her some mead in front of her.
?At least every second night; sometimes more often. Heh, provide plenty of entertainment for the guests, they do.?
As the two continued the fling insults at each other Ele?ena looked around the inn. There weren?t that much patrons here tonight. One, who stuck out like a sore thumb, was a human sitting in the corner of the inn and clearly signaling that this was his turf. She didn?t get to see past the amber eyes for the veil of hate and loathing was too thick. And again she felt the thug on the inside, just like she did in Hagen?s shop, before she killed Caleb.
But she wasn?t looking at him because of his manly looks. There was something ridiculously familiar about him. The elf looked back at her drink frowning. Why did she keep seeing weird things every time she looked over her shoulder? With the way things were going one of these days she was bound to see her very own demented shadow stalking her.
Taking her thoughts in another direction Ele?ena looked at the two men still arguing, and banged her head against the bar. Repeatedly. This called for drastic measures.
?Not to be too rude, but could you two gentleman keep this sort of conversation for late night pillow-talk?? Ele?ena asked innocently, as if stating the fact. They both just stared at her, stopped in the middle of whatever insult they were ready to fling at each other.
The young moon elf blinked faking innocence, ?Well, you argue so much, it?s clear to me, and anyone else for that matter, that you must be married for a century at least.? She grinned most evilly, ?You know the old saying ?bickering like an old marriage couple? didn?t come out of nothing.?
shut them up ? even if their jaws have hit the floor.
?Oh, don?t worry Uncle Duncan, I won?t judge you. I?m a very open-minded girl. I?m relatively
sure father wouldn?t mind it either.? She said patting him friendly on the shoulder. Light on her feet, and laughing good-naturally, she avoided the rag flying to her face. At least it wasn?t a Magic Missile
?Now that I have your undivided attention, and bit of anger,? she looked at smoldering Sand with mischief in her eyes, ?can we get back to matter at hand? As in: the shards
.? She raised her hands, with one silver shard in each, to emphase the point.
?Good. First things first, how could you not sense the magic in those shards? I can tell just by holding them.?
Duncan snorted crossing his arms, ?Because he's incompetent??
?Duncan, the more I speak to your kin here, it's evident where the sense in the family went.? His eyes narrowed in calculation, ?Since you seem to have been given all the brains of the family, I'll be honest with you ? I don't know. But I do know the shards did not have the same strength the first time I examined them.? He looked at her then tapping his thin lips thoughtfully, ?There could be something about you that causes them to resonate ? but I have no idea why that would be.?
?Then it doesn't sound like there's much we can do now.? Which meant that her quest was over
! She was already planning the victory dance once safely in her room.
?You could try
and speak to Aldanon? but I don't think you'd have much luck reaching him, the Blacklake District is closed down.? Ele?ena froze. The shorty here did not
just say that there was someone who actually knew
more about these cursed little things. Ignorant of the turmoil his words were causing Sand continued explaining. ?Aldanon lives in the Blacklake District, you see - and now he's trapped there. The Watch has it locked tight, no one going in or out, no messages in or out, even for the nobles that used to live there? quite cryptic, really.?
?Why?? She managed to push it through her throat.
Duncan rubbed his chin, ?I heard about that? Lord Dalren was killed, wasn't he? I've heard rumors, but no official word of what happened.?
?As have I. Not only are the Watch not talking about it, but they even called in the Cloaktower mages to investigate? which means sorcery ? or demons ? were at work.?
Ele?ena nearly squeaked.
?Demons? Closest I've ever come to demons is Daeghun's tales about the battles down south, near West Harbor? when there was that trouble with the King of Shadows.?
?King of Shadows?? What she really should have said was: How do I get in Blacklake and finish this. But curiosity was a vice of hers she couldn?t deny completely.
Sand shrugged dismissing the supposed power this villain had. ?Some sorcerer, I believe? had a number of demons and shadows at his beck and call. Not many tales left about that period of Neverwinter history, oddly enough.?
?But you say this? Aldanon might know more, Sand??
He sighed, as if preparing to try and put her over the barrel subtly, ?Well, if you're not a member of the Watch? or know a secret route into Blacklake, then you're out of luck.? He gestured patronizingly at her, ?So it seems like you have no choice but to let me examine the shards at my leisure. I'll need to hold on to them, of course??
While she did swore that she would get rid of the shard (or shards as it were) the first chance she got she had a policy about leaving a potentially powerful artifact ? as it was demonstrated earlier by knocking the inn senseless (nothing that a batch of bad ale couldn?t do but still?) ? in the hands of wizard who was looking at the said artifact with such disinterest that it could only be described as greed.
Daeghun already knew how to make her feel guilty for badly done chore, gods knew what he would do if she didn?t handle this shard properly.
?Wait? Watch or secret route? not bad ideas, either way the coin lands. Well, there's Marshal Cormick, he's currently at the City Watch Post, and I know he's in bad need of an extra swordarm down at the Docks.?
?Cormick? From Fort Locke?? Ele?ena said momentarily forgetting about the wizard (and the inappropriate look he was giving to her
?Yes, I heard he got back to Neverwinter recently. Surprised he even made it with the troubles I've heard around Fort Locke.?
?Trust me, you don't know the half of it,? Neeshka added under her breath. She was still smarting from the ambush those ?would-be-guards? sprung upon her.
?Cormick's a Harborman, too, and folks of the Harbor are as close to kin as you can get out of the Mere. He might be able to take you into the Watch, and from there, speaking to Aldanon shouldn't be too hard.?
The wizard?s eyes followed the two shards being twirled expertly in one hand of the blue elf. His hand even instinctively went for the unfamiliar mysterious magical artifact. Immediately her other free hand came and swatted the grubby fingers away then wiggled a finger in front of his nose as if to say: no touch
?Is there any other way?? Ele?ena asked not taking her eyes from the wizard. She really couldn?t see herself as a law abiding citizen.
Duncan started a little reluctant ?If you want to find another route into the Blacklake District, that means dealing with other folks that try to control the Docks ? Moire and her gang.?
an idea, Duncan. They probably were behind the Watch closing the Blacklake District in the first place.? Sand said rubbing his slightly sore hand and casting a glare at the young elf. Children really had no respect for their elders any more.
Now that sounds more like it. ?Really? How do I talk to her??
?Well, she's got thugs all over the docks? but finding one who can get you to her??
?There's Caleb. He used to try to get me to pay him gold for protection before I told him about the wards I had inscribed on the building that caged the guardian elementals. Long story, but quick resolution.?
Ele?ena raised an eyebrow. So he was the idiot whose water elemental wanted to get a little too close for comfort with her. Mages. Irresponsible to the last.
?Caleb? maybe, but I don't trust that harbor rat to give you a fair deal ? and the price'll be steep, in bodies or coin ? he doesn't like being the only one with blood on his hands.?
?Doesn't sound like someone we should put our faith in,? Kelgar grunted downing his drink.
?Obviously, you've never dealt with the Watch in Neverwinter, Khelgar. Dealing with Caleb is probably our best chance.? The tiefling countered immediately. It was quite clear where her affections were.
?Still, the chances are simply talking to Caleb will make you want to kill him, so it seems a clear win ? to me. If you do speak to him, though, be sure to do it downwind.?
And that?s precisely what she did. And that idea, like all good ideas, quickly went down the drain.
?Watch it is then,? Ele?ena said quickly.
Duncan blinked, ?That was a quick decision.? He was pleased with her choice.
Ele?ena rubbed the back of her head nervously, ?Well, you see, since it so happened that I?ve killed the contact for the Thieves ? accidentally of course ? I may not have that much choice in the matter any more.?
?What!? Why in the hells did do that for!?? Neeshka pounced on her yanking her collar. Her opinion on working with the Watch was definitely not high.
?I get all panicky when my life is threatened. And when I get in panic I react,? the elf paused blinking at the tall devil-spawn. ?Or, in this case, my weapon reacted with his throat.? Ele?ena managed to grin innocently, ?So you see, it was purely accidental.?
Neeshka dropped her and threw her hands in the air. ?Argh! Moire will never let us join now!?
?Which is why we?re going with the Watch. Besides, it?s three to one in this small group in favor of the Watch.? She glanced at the dwarf and druidess who nodded at the same time.
?I hate democracy,? the tiefling sulked sitting near the fire again.
After witnessing a set of bizarre events in Duncan?s inn (which was not so unusual per se, because it was
Duncan?s inn) Sand decided to retire for the night. It was obvious he wasn?t getting the shards anyway, not with the blue brat watching over them like a hawk.
?Well, you can certainly find your way into trouble from here. Me, I will head back to my lonely merchant existence. Should you need my expertise, simply ask? but just in case, bring a great deal of gold as well,? he added quietly with a knowing smile. And then, with a small bow turned around and disappeared from the inn.
?He?s begging to be freed from that shop, isn?t he?? Ele?ena said looking back at her uncle.
Duncan grinned, maliciously, ?You don?t know the half of it kid.?
She looked around the inn and noticed that her companions looked very much sated with all the food Sal had served while she was being dragged in an argument. She also noted that the seat previously occupied by a human was now empty. Ele?ena looked back at her uncle.
?Who?s the Harborman??
?Aside from you?? Duncan chuckled moving behind the bar.
?Yes, that scruffy looking woodsman who was sitting in the corner. That Harborman.?
With half-elf?s back to her she had no idea what her Uncle?s expression might be when he said, ?What makes you say that??
?Pfft, I?ve lived all my short life in West Harbor, and the few surrounding villages were as far as I was allowed to go. Do you think that I wouldn?t be able to recognize a Harborman when I see one?? She looked over her shoulder at the now empty seat in the corner. ?Even a scruffy-looking-mangy-all-washed-out one,? Ele?ena added trailing off.
Wide-eyed, Duncan laughed then shook his head. ?How about I show you and your friends to your rooms,? he suggested and, as if just now realizing what time it was and what she had been through in just a few hours Ele?ena nodded gratefully. When she stood up she noticed with a smile that Khelgar was already snuggling his empty tankard.
? ? ? ? ? ?
Ele?ena found her new room to be quite adequate and nodded in satisfaction. And then, abandoning all ladylike behavior, she tossed herself on the bed bouncing a bit and squealing happily. She finally had a roof over her head and a soft and clean bed to sleep on any time she whished.
She jumped from her bed and started to unpack her bag. If she was going to stay here until she could get her hands on this Aldanon then she might as well make herself more comfortable.
She grinned. ?A lot more comfortable.?
But it wasn?t the only reason she was so ridiculously happy now. Today, for the very first time, she had managed to concisely summon her powers. It?ll probably take some more practice and, yes, it was a bit provoked, but ?hot damn!
? she had managed to actually use her powers when she wanted to. In her opinion that was an excellent reason to celebrate.
When her hand reached the bottom of her bag she raised an eyebrow and pulled out the strange object. When she did she couldn?t stop the laughter that suddenly bubbled in her.
?Pitney?s prized bottle of spirits. I thought I had left this at home.? She stroked her chin, ?In fact, I?m fairly certain that I did.? Oh well, now that it was here she might as well keep it for special occasion. Such as the end of the unfortunate adventure when she?s finally free of the responsibility to the small chunks of silver.
She wrapped the bottle and placed it at the bottom of her drawer, just in case Neeshka decided to ?check her room for safety?. And just as she shut the drawer the devil in question walked in ? without knocking.
?The room is secure Neesh. There are no traps or dangerous creatures lurking in my chest. I checked,? she said, her ruby eye fitted on the tiefling.
Neeshka pouted, ?Do you think so little of me??
?On the contrary, I have very high opinion of your sticky fingers ? just not when they?re in the vicinity of my things.?
?Hey, we?re pals! I would never
take your stuff,? the tiefling said with all the true sincerity but for a moment. ?Besides, it?s not like you have anything of value anyway.?
?Oh, go jump of the docks,? Ele?ena said in a huff throwing herself back on the bed. Neeshka let out a small laugh and sat next to the elf, and Ele?ena noticed that she looked pensive and worried.
?So, you?re gonna take it up with the watch, huh??
Ele?ena raised an eyebrow. So that?s what it?s about. ?Cormick already owns me a favor. Why waste an opportunity like that??
?Yeah, but the Watch- they?re not what they seem to be! Half of them are corrupt bastards!?
?And the thieves are more honest how exactly??
?If they?re gonna kill you then they?re gonna kill you. They won?t use law
as an excuse to get what they want.?
?Well gee Neesh, what am I supposed to do now when I?ve killed the contact? First, I have no idea where to find this Moira person and second, do you really think they?d welcome me now that I?ve killed one of their own and sabotaged their-? Ele?ena paused for a moment trying to find the right word for what she had witnessed.
Neeshka interrupted her however, ?You?re capable ? except when you?re not-? Ele?ena shot her a glare and the tiefling quickly continued. ?They?d welcome that!?
?I may not be the most ?law abiding? person out there but extortion and blunt backstabbing are not my cup of tea.?
?So, that?s it??
?You?re not gonna budge on this one, are you??
They were both silent for a while when suddenly Neeshka jumped from the bed and beamed down at the short elf. ?Say, what do you think about some sightseeing tomorrow?? She asked with a grin.
Well, getting to know the city before she joined the watch could come in handy. ?Sure, why not??
? ? ? ? ? ?
?When I said ?watch over her?
I meant it as in ?take care of her well being?
. Not ?plunge her headfirst into the madness?
The black face smiled an open smile full of white sharp teeth. ?It be the same thing, non??
? ? ? ? ? ?