While Cogliostro was preparing for his trip, the disparate group of "adventurers" that had formed more or less under his service found themselves gravitating towards the Tower at roughly the same time. As it turned out, the presence of two of them was required anyway, a point punctuated by fact that one of the Darkmask's--Sabrar--met up with them to report this, the two being clerics of said organization--Xull'rae and Horock. No particular reasoning was given at the time, though it was made apparent that the summons was of a semi-urgent manner, and thus they should make their way in haste.
After some ten minutes more of travel, most of it through the desolate landscape of the Darkwoods, the trio found themselves standing just inside the more or less private cleric's entrance that Xull'rae, and now Horock, was often wont to use instead of the main entrance that the lay members were required to utilize. One of the guards gave instructions that they were to wait within the foyer, and make themselves comfortable until such time as they were summoned elsewhere.
Horock had a strange feeling that something was amiss. Nevertheless, he did as he was told, going into a corner of the foyer, and looking around with half closed eyes. He was still very tired from his most recent knowledge, and wanted to think over it, but apparently now was not the time. Despite the fact that he appeared to be falling asleep, he was very alert, as his brain was going over several things at once; he could see all that went on around him. He wasn't still alive because he became complacent, careless, and unwary.
The yaun-ti Drazoul decided to come along on this venture, though he kept his distance as he knew he didn't belong. His reptile eyes had surveyed the whole area, for he did not trust this organization even if his friend was in it. His hands were very still but were ready to act in an instant. He decided to stand against a wall and wait.
Xull'rae sat in a chair, her piwafwi was removed to show she was dressed in vhaeraunian garb of black, consisting with breeches, blouse and boots, her red hair in a bun, and her mask around her neck. Fine, toned legs were crossed, her pretty face comfortable, those amber eyes ever watchful yet confident. She ignored the other two, or so it seemed.
They didn't have to wait long until the familiar voice of the temple's headmaster, Pharaun, came to their ears. Horock's doubts would not be quelled by the tone in which those words were spoken, to be sure. Drazoul's caution would not have a reason to be abated, either.
The voice issued from within one of the adjoining hallways, the hastened footsteps of several people accompanying it, "...and yes, I do realize who you are, but this temple is under MY command, Inquisitor, and despite what you say, I feel that it should have been a matter to be discussed with me beforehand. At the very least, word of this visit, and its purpose, should have been forthcoming to your presence." There was a pause within those words which were toned in such a way as to betray the mixture of anger, frustration...and fear, "with all due respect, of course," the last, was spoken with a little haste.
At that point, said headmaster rounded the corner of the hallway, and entered the room, clad in his normal robes of deepest black, accompanied by the also somewhat familiar visages of Bragh T'orgh, the head magus of the temple, and those of both Welverin Hune and Solufein Pharn, the two highest ranking clergy aside from Pharaun himself. This time, they were also accompanied by a contingent of four strangers, all clad in the usual Vhaeraunian prestial garb much as Xull'rae now was, half-masks settled into place on all. Despite their similarity of dress and look, the one in the lead commanded such presence as to stand out amongst the strangers as being their leader and from the look upon Pharaun's visage, and the tone they had heard in his voice, this particular stranger was perhaps his better as well.
Once the contingent had fully come into the room, they stopped short, halting abruptly as the leader of the newcomers did as well. Never responding properly to Pharaun's small rant, the apparent leader fixed his gaze upon Xull'rae's form, after taking a quick, assessing glance at both Horock and Drazoul. One of his gloved hands fell to the blackened hilt of the leftmost of the twin, blackened short swords which hung at his waist, idly tapping upon its pommel. When he spoke, it was in a somewhat charming, yet imperious tone, "I take it that this is the priestess in question. Of course it is, as they are a rarity in the entire faith, let alone in this...oh, forgive me, YOUR temple." The words were obviously intended for Pharaun, who had simply frowned and nodded.
Xull'rae rose her coppery brows in question, but said not a word, she probably was in trouble again, so she waited for the babbling to begin, looking at the two men, the masked priest and the shadow sorcerer, half bowing to each of them from her chair, not rising, figuring it best to stay seated unless ordered otherwise, maybe it was best to stand and bow but she never was one to be a total dog.
A polite inclination of the stranger's head was given in Xull'rae's direction, but he spoke not to her at the moment. Rather, he gazed at her two companions at this juncture, speaking his thoughts aloud whilst first settling that masked countenance in Horock's direction, "and you would be her current charge, if I have been informed correctly," without waiting for an answer, that gaze shifted to Drazoul's form. This time the words more an actual question than a personal musing, "my, a strange being to see in a temple such as this, but then again, perhaps not so strange. You are here perhaps as an initiate, or wishing to become one of the Faithful?" His manner said he expected to be answered this time.
Horock began to finger his long sword, he half closed eyes still looking around for any sign of trouble. He was, of course, more alert now that he heard Pharaun talking, but refused to give away his advantage.
Drazoul was surprised that this figure was addressing him as he believed he was nothing more then a bodyguard for this encounter. At the drow’s ones words he let out a chuckle that was more of a hiss of amusement, "I’m not joining. I am merely along for the ride," he still stood, arms folded, propped against the wall, and watching everyone but especially keeping special attention to the figure who addressed him.
A frown furrowed itself into place beneath the half-mask upon that imperious figure at Drazoul's answer. He did not however reply directly to Drazoul, his words aimed at all clergy of the temple who were present. "Why then might I ask is one of the Unfaithful here in the chambers of the Devout? This is intolerable, and another mark against you, Brother Lhalabar."
At the exchange of words, Xull'rae narrowed her eyes in cold anger. Her words were said directly after the no named figure spoke. Her words were for Drazoul, "along for the ride?" She sneered in contempt and then shrugged, her voice going as cool as a breeze, "okay...so you have no objection to using you as a sacrifice. What ARE you doing here snake man? Please don't tell me it's because you are protecting Horock or simply here to help him cause he's your 'friend'," her amber colored eyes pierced Drazoul suddenly, her tone changed once more by the end to amused yet a seriousness laced it as well.
Drazoul saw the frown and decided to be more careful as he spoke, "I merely do not trust priests that’s all, and as your jabress has pointed out, using me as a 'sacrifice' this would not be the first time I have been offered, so you must excuse my suspicion." He stood firm and did not back down from her gaze, though he really wanted to.
"He is my companion, and I will vouch for him if need be," said Horock, finally coming out of his sort of trance, "and, do not be so snide priestess. He is my guest, and yes, we are friends, as much as friends as the Underdark allows." He looked around, a little bit more suspiciously then he had previously. He kept his eye on the people that he did not know, "I am one of the Masked One's faithful. He is also my hired bodyguard of sorts. Is there a problem with that? We are being hunted, and we stick together for the time being." Horock realized he needed to relax, being too defensive like this would only bring ill upon him and possibly Drazoul.
Pharaun had begun to make a retort as well, or rather try to bring things under control lest he get in even more peril should this farce continue, but the imperious one simply raised a hand in a motion of pause, which did indeed halt Pharaun, if no one else. A soft musing was issued as well, as if the stranger did not wish to disturb the arguing trio. He said softly to Pharaun, "this is out of your hands now, Shadow Sorcerer, let it play out as it will." His crimson eyes shifted to rest on Xull'rae, watching her carefully, as the argument continued unchecked and unnoticed by those involved.
The three continued to argue as if no one else were present. Tension was building as Xull’rae responded to Horock, "really?" she sounded surprised yet looked so unimpressed, but she did not stop there, "the only friend you should have is the Masked One. You are not making a good faithful follower if you continue to rely on 'friends'…and who is being SNIDE little acolyte...who dared to threaten me back at the inn and by the grace of the human was allowed to live. You need to remember your station; you adhere to me, not to correct me."
Drazoul was getting rather tired of all this rambling. He inclined his head slightly and spoke to the on who had addressed him before, "if we may continue with this meeting? If my presence has offended anyone I shall leave, there is no need for useless bloodshed."
Horock barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes, speaking through clenched teeth, "fine, he said this in a manner that was a trifle more respectful then before but he did not stop either, feeling the need to defend himself all the same. "I am a faithful, but, unfortunately, the Masked One has given him to me in a sorts and has led him to me. We are a type of brother, and I would not be alive today if not for him. I would appreciate it if he could stay, and we could get on with what we were summoned here for. Is that okay jabress?" The last part was delivered in a voice of complete and total respect to make sure that she did not take any offense at what he had just said. He was curious, and he did want to know what was going on. That feeling of unease had still not left him since he started to pay attention to his surroundings again and noticed everyone watching him.
Before Xull'rae could reply, she clicked her mouth shut as the apparent leader spoke in response to Horock's statement, but it was clear it was meant for Drazoul too, "there is no such need, if indeed you are his, hm, bodyguard. Though I find it better should our people have no need of such things. We are to be self-sufficient lurkers in shadow, when speaking on personal term," when he continued, his musing was softer, intended for Pharaun, though all could hear. "Yes, I do believe that our informant has offered up a sufficient entry for our Lord's Inquisition. Though perhaps a bit more professionalism is to be instilled within the drowess, her fanaticism to the Masked One and his teachings are apparent enough. What of this other matter I've heard rumor of involving the male?" he referred to Horock, "or is that too lengthy a matter for us to delve into at the moment? Even if it is so, we will discuss it fully before the sun rises in the Realms Above."
Pharaun looked desperate to reply, but Horock broke in first. "And what rumors would those be?" he asks with a slight growl to his voice.
Xull'rae took her eyes off of Horock, when she realized the two were speaking of her and her faith, and a frown settled on her lips and her brows furrowed in confusion and curiosity but again fell silent.
At Horock's grumbling mannerisms, Pharaun shot him a most rueful glance, trying to convey that now was not the time for such open minded speaking, nor was the stranger a man with whom to trifle. More for his own sake than Horock's, to be sure, but he did not let that part on as he offered a polite suggestion, "Brother Horock, perhaps it would be best if a more civil tone were used with the Grand Inquisitor, here......" Again, Pharaun was interrupted and cut off, this time by Xull'rae who felt the need to explain. "it's a simple matter of him sniveling and I called him weak and his temper flew…as you see it again now...nothing to be bothered with. I will dispatch him myself if he continues that foolishness, he's green and he hasn't taken well to my teachings yet, but do not worry I will help him manage his tongue, if not I can always remove it, unless of course I am not to teach him anymore…either way I will abide by the church, but I must say he does not know much respect for position as you can see."
Horock spoke up quickly, in a panic, but managed not to stammer. "Of course," he says, again, "I will do so." He glares at Xull'rae as she continues to speak. He was tired of her threatening him, but he knew that as long as he was here and hiding, well, at least he thought he was hiding, that he needed to keep a civil tongue. He simply shut his mouth, leaned back, and listened, content to no longer enter the conversation until he was spoken to.
Again the Inquisitor cut off Pharaun as the Shadow Sorcerer was about to speak, to which he clenched his jaw and looked murderous but declined to challenged the superior man. A lengthy moment of silence then reigned as the High Inquisitor's gaze swept from one to the other to the last of the trio. "Actually, you will continue on with your duties as 'teacher,' and in fact, your charge is to accompany you on the task I will set before you…or test, I should call it. And, I suppose, the 'bodyguard' will be accompanying you as well." There came then a short pause as he considered something. "No, I believe they will not simply accompany you. The task is theirs to complete as well, and they will suffer consequences, or reap in the rewards, much the same as you, drowess. Reward or punishment will be dependent on success or failure."
The point with Xull'rae was, she never threatened, if given the chance she would have done away with Horock, but being a fanatic and being under orders keeps her from doing so, too bad he didn't know that it was a very thin leash, one that would snap if the greenhorn kept crossing her line of fire, forcing her to pull on that fragile thread that threatened to break. She simply nodded and accepted the task with more grace than she felt at the moment. With well trained grace she responded smoothly, "yes High Inquisitor, as soon as I know my task I shall set about it right now."
Horock nearly looked interested and replied in a like tone, "whatever the church asks of me, I will of course do," he says in a manner of complete and total respect. "Tell me what I must do, and do it I shall." It was perhaps over kill, Xull’rae made it look so easy that he couldn’t let her show him up and embarrass him again.
Drazoul sighed, cursing himself for being foolish and coming along. He then mumbled inaudibly, "along for the ride."
The high inquisitor looked pleased and nodded, satisfied, "very well," he said. When he made certain everyone was paying attention, he continued, "as a show of unswerving loyalty on the part of you, drowess, and as a show of skill on part of all three of you, I charge you with the task of bringing me the Zauviir Matron's head. Once that is complete, each of you will be rewarded accordingly, and you shall become an initiate of our order, Sister Zauviir. I will tarry here with my inquests for a full Ride, if you should have the task finished by then, all the better. Otherwise I will expect to carry out your initiation upon my next semiannual return to the Tower."
Xull'rae refused to flinch at such a hard task, and to be completed in three months no less. Instead she strengthened her resolve and gave a determined reply, "for me to be Matron and set up a vhaeraunian house I already had the intention of killing her…this will take time, now that it is an official order it SHALL be done before the time is up."
Horock looked up as the High Inquisitor said this, slight trace of surprise coming to his face. Just as quickly as it had come, it was gone. He had no problems with killing Drow, he had eaten several. The thing that had surprised him was Xull'rae's acceptance so of the task that was set before them so easily. But, he would never let it show. He mentally began to get himself ready for the task, thinking about strategies and what they could use. He doubted he would have any input, but if any was needed, he was determined to be able to add some. Glancing over at Drazoul, Horock says, "yes, I will indeed help in whatever ways the jabress requires. However, I am tired. May I be excused?"
A slight, pleasured smile...slight being the operative word for it...creased the inquisitors visage, accompanied by a simple nod. "That is all. Now, Pharaun, we have much to speak on, and many records to persue." With that, the gathering turned as a whole and proceeded outward.
There was a flash of excitement in the yuan-ti's reptilian eyes as he heard the orders to assassinate somebody and not just anybody but a matron mother. This would do well in his own organization when news came of the mission he would partake in.
Once given the go ahead, Horock went straight up to his room and fell into bed, no worries until the next day, he thought and fell into dreamless sleep.
With Horock retiring and Xull'rae already gone without anyone's notice, Drazoul turned towards the door pulled out his staff and went to his room at the inn where he would ponder his moves from there. He would also have to have a word with Xull'rae later on how they were to go about the kill.
Ever since the human had bestowed the "kindness" of healing magics upon him, the bedraggled bladesinger had kept to the confines of his admittedly posh suite at the inn. Though Vesz'aun was once more completely whole and fit in a physical sense, mentally speaking he was anything but.
Not that most ever considered him mentally whole in the first place.
Lingering traces of the shock he had endured during the draegloth's torture session still played upon his mind, though at the moment, a more pressing matter was causing him angst; his beloved blade had been shattered. The insecurity was more of an angered one than anything at this point, and as he had risen from his bed and ever so carefully gathered the disparate pieces within a wrap of cloth. He had gone over various designs of revenge that would be carried out, when such a thing were in his ability to accomplish. Both against the draegloth, and the human, for putting him in that position in the first place.
That the draegloth had only gotten free due to his scheming never dawned on Vesz'aun, or if it did, he pushed such thoughts aside. Though angered to the point of brashness, there was enough pause before he was left to realize just how naked he felt, and helpless without his vaunted weapon of choice. An entire mindset and fighting style now revolved around that blade, and as such, he felt incomplete without it. The fact he fared quite well for years before taking up the bladesinging arts was yet another thing that eluded him for the moment.
Now he was no longer of a mind to brazenly walk the streets and meet any challenge head to head. He settled for garbing himself in a cloak which would conceal most of his person. No use attracting attention whilst he was rendered so helpless.
Finally prepared, he left the inn behind and made his way towards the Tower of Masked Mage, his bundle in tow, an incessant, nonstop slew of obscenities was issued under his breath, versed more towards Cogliostro now as the man refused to aid him in fixing his beloved blade, having offhandedly told the bladesinger that he had more important matters to attend.
What in the Abyss could be more important than his blade, for cryin' out loud!?
Wrapped up in his thoughts as he had been, Vesz’aun never took notice that another form had been tailing him the entire time. Even when he reached the Tower, and crept his way inward, through a small entrance that most of the clergy weren't even aware of, he took no notice of the large shadow which crept in his wake.
As it stood, he arrived within the basement level of the Tower without problem, and now crouched within a small alcove whilst he tried to remember where it was he was supposed to go in order to find his quarry.
In another part of the Tower, Xull'rae was left to her own devices, so she headed to the main alter room to have a little prayer and quiet time to herself. Upon reaching the chamber she immediately began the various gatherings of candles, cloth, and incense she would need; her mind churning on thoughts that bothered her. How was she, with two scatter brains supposed to execute the kill on her matron in just three months? She needed strength and guidance as anxiety threatened to overwhelm her. Her confidence in the meeting earlier was not all show, but she was not happy that she had to take dumb and dumber with her, having to bring those two caused waves of irritation to bombard her. It was too easy to kill them and take the credit and too typical of the drow nature, but she never took the typical or easy road and was not about to start now with her greatest challenge yet.
Meanwhile, Vesz'aun hopped out of the alcove, glancing back to take note that the illusion which covered its presence was still in place, offering a small shrug to the empty hall before him, he briskly walked off towards the stairwell which would carry him up towards what he believed was the clerics' foyer, where he would have a handful of choice hallways to pick from in order to find his quarry. His soft footfalls echoed lightly in the vast, empty hall, as he felt no real need to conceal his presence even though he felt it would be best if no one spotted him in this particular section of the temple.
Arriving at the stairwell, which wrapped around as it led to the level above, he paused, and crooked his ear upward, trying to assess if anyone may be above and if so, who they were. But no movements or voices came to ear, at least not from that direction. A soft, echoing sound, as if a door were closing, did come from the hallway behind him, however, but after a quick glance in that direction, no forms were visible, he dismissed it as irrelevant. There were actual chambers off the far end of the hall, so perhaps someone simply emerged from or entered one that was currently out of view. Without further distraction, Vesz'aun made his way upward, pausing once more before entering the hallway in front of him. Voices were heard, yet not overly close by so he moved forward and peered down both directions, relieved that no one was immediately present. That done, he turned to the right, towards where the common room should be, the one where all the hallways resided.
One entrance to the main altar chamber lay off to his left, and once more he reluctantly paused within the small alcove it presented, peering towards the small entrance that most of the clergy chose to use, there was no guard posted at the moment.
His heart nearly skipped a beat in anticipation as a familiar voice came to ear, that of the mage who could restore his blade. The voice was issuing from the far side of the alter chamber from what he could tell, and more came to his sharp upswept ears, these issuing from one of the halls in between.
A slight frown crept upon his handsome visage at that point. He did not have any real worries should he be caught in this part of the tower, but it was best to avoid questioning if possible. So, he took the last recourse available, and inched the altar room doorway open, peering in quickly, seeing if anyone were present at the rear of the chamber. Noting only a single figure within, and not paying much mind to who it was at the moment, he figured he could creep through the back end of the room and more or less be left to his own business.
Taking that shortcut should bring him into the hall where Bragh was now conversing, and soon all would be well. As such, he quickly opened the door far enough to dart inward, and closed it softly behind him, making sure the hood of his cloak was in place as he entered. Trying to be unobtrusive, he began to saunter briskly yet quietly across the width of the chamber, hoping the other figure within would not care to question his presence.
Such was not his luck however as Xull'rae rarely let anything escape her notice. She saw him as the cloaked figure he was as she turned and lit some candles. She thought it a bit odd and knew many were allowed in the temple, but only clergy were allowed here. Aware that not all outsiders knew this, she decided to correct the poor soul, lest the Shadow Sorcerer or some other clergy member happen to come in and deal harsher words. She spoke softly, in quiet reprimand, "traveler this is for Clergy only and is a place of meditation and prayer. Wherever you are headed it is suggested you return to the foyer and ask a priest to help get to where you need to go." Her tone was not commanding nor superior, it was just serious and bordering on lecturing.
At recognition of Xull'rae's voice, Vesz’aun stiffened, though he hoped not visibly. Pausing a moment to recollect his bearings he turned his hooded gaze in her general direction, making sure his face nor naked upper body would be seen in the process. He offered a simple nod, hoping it was enough; he began to quicken his steps towards his destination.
"The foyer is in the opposite direction." Xull’rae pointed at the door behind him that he had entered from. Her lips formed an amused smile and her amber eyes held an understanding that most would find unnerving.
Again Vesz'aun stopped short, heart beating faster as he knew not what to do. Normally his quick wit would bring him to some quicker resolution to the problem, but the idiocy that kicked in whilst in Xull'rae's presence began to bloom once more, making such cohesive trains of thought impossible. How beautiful she looked, so unlike her Lolth persona, there was genuine generosity in her gaze, that he was ashamed he must lie to her.
Remembering that he then held a bundle, he held it up in one hand, so that she could see it, and brought the other hand up to scrawl out a quick message in Drow Sign that he was delivering a bundle to one of the clergy, and must be on his way. In the process, the front of his cloak opened somewhat, revealing the tattooed torso beneath just slightly.
"Which I can deliver," she said aloud as she started to move toward him, actually moving in a manner that said she would indeed help. Her face with its mask around her neck was sincere and her whole demeanor business like. Trying to keep curiosity at bay as to why he chose to use Sign and not talk, she was the one to continue the dialogue, "this place can be confusing, and the right people hard to find."
Vesz'aun noticed that his cloak had begun to open, so he quickly lowered his arms and allowed it to settle into place once more. His mind raced even quicker through the short list of clergy that he actually knew in the place. As Xull'rae strode ever closer, he tried desperately to figure out which he should name. The choice made, figuring she might not know him overly well, he signed once more that he was seeking out Solaufein, which placed a frown of dislike on that hidden visage, and he continued signing that he knew the way well enough. Without waiting for further answer, he turned and all but ran towards the door, still trying, but failing for the most part, to look non-chalant.
Xull'rae chuckled and stopped, in a calm pose, and her tone meant to soothe and ease tension, "relax I know I'm a woman but I'm not going to beat you. Come with me I'll take you to him." Eying him curiously, she studied him carefully without causing awkwardness. Most did not come in these chambers, so seeing a woman would be strange to most, part of her was wary now as her cover could be blown, but she pushed that thought aside, looked longingly at her "prayer setup." Suddenly she took his cloaked arm and all but dragged him out toward the door he wanted to and proceeded to track the priest in question. Her mood shifting in quick torrents, with the pressure of the task ahead of her and the duty of her position conflicting with it, confusion on top of this interruption was starting to unravel her patience.
Xull'rae could tell upon grasping the well toned arm that the tall, cloaked figure was male, and that he stiffened, nearly jumping at her touch. The bundle in his opposite hand fumbled and dropped to the floor, causing them both to pause just as she was about to open the doorway leading into the hall. While the figure frantically scrambled to lean down and grab up the bundle, the opposite doorway lit up a bit, as if it opened for a moment and was quickly shut, though no one was visible as she glanced in that direction. Perhaps someone had opened the door, anticipating entering the chamber then had changed their mind. Whatever the case, her attention was diverted momentarily as Vesz'aun stood up and nearly whacked his head into her chin in the process.
As Xull'rae turned and refocused on the situation at hand, she was slightly startled when their faces smacked into each other. It was then, at this close range that she realized he was much taller than she was, and felt well muscled in a familiar way to her keen memory that her curiosity turned to suspicion. She paused, carefully peering at him now, though she remained silent.
Too late, Vesz'aun realized as just as quickly, his hooded head spun around, causing it to billow open with the small breeze that was produced, he tried desperately to shuffle it back into place, but by now his handsome visage was revealed. He tried to ignore that fact and play like he was unaware and reached for the door handle in an abrupt manner, nearly fumbling the bundle once more.
The movement was halted, and perhaps the ensuing "conversation" which would have followed Xull'rae's discovery of his identity by the loud, grumbling bellow which came from the front of the large chamber, echoing loudly by virtue of construction even back this far in the room. "What's this?! My blood consorts with followers of the hated Son?"
A gargantuan form then became quite visible, looming over the main altar, the elongated muzzle holding a look of shocked outrage as the narrowed, crimson orbs swept across the symbols and idols present within.
Xull'rae was dangerously flippant in her response as she turned around, obviously unfazed by this unexpected visit, "and should you care Draegloth? YOU are the one who doubted I was of YOUR blood," she sounded offended, but spoiled it in the end with uncurbed surprise by asking, "what the nine abyssal hells are you doing here anyway!?"
For Vesz'aun's part, he cringed momentarily at the sound of his not-so-long-ago torturer, and didn't fare much better at catching sight of the creature. Again he reached for the doorway, mind torn between thoughts of using this as good opportunity to escape, but also knowing that he should stay and protect his fire blossom, should such need done. Of course, his protectiveness of Xull'rae won out, so now he stood pausing whilst he tried to formulate just how he could save her, having already matched himself against the draegloth, and came out very much wanting.
The draegloth stayed in the hunched position, even at that position and range he was larger than her. The rumbling low voice responded, "I never truly doubted, female, until now." At this juncture, his gigantic form leaped down from its perch upon the top of the foremost row of pews, into the central aisle which would lead him to her, though he paused from moving yet, still not sure what to make of the situation. True enough, his House never did care much for Lolth, but they neither cared for Vhaeraun overly much either. But to see one of his female kin, the one currently in charge of the ill-fated House cavorting with a god that very much went against the Dark Mother was unthinkable, at least to himself. He asked, still incredulous, "have we fallen so far from grace that you would take up with this lot?"
Knowing the draegloth was distracted with confusion and disgust she nodded to the bladesinger and gave him the go ahead. "Go on Vesz'aun...Sol should be just beyond the door along the hallway…but if you need an object repaired it's Bragh you should speak to." His body language suggested protest, but she shook her head and forestalled him while keeping an eye on the draegloth. "I will be fine, the creature cannot harm me, please go and trust me," rare and fragile words, but truthful nonetheless. She just hoped that he would heed them, but hope was such a fleeting feeling among her kind that she often questioned it about herself. Carefully, she removed her half mask, to show the beast and Vesz'aun her pretty face.
"Ehm, erhm......" Vesz'aun was caught, and speechless at the moment. That Bragh was who he truly sought out was not to be mentioned to her right now, as she was unaware in so far as he knew that Xull'rae had any inkling of his past with said wizard, as well as some of the clergy here, and Bragh had made it a point before now that no one was to know of their mutually beneficial agreements, as he tended to call them.
Xull'rae continued the conversation, regardless of Vesz'aun being there, "Think of this Draegloth, our house only craved domination and power...power we had but not enough. It was Lolth who cast us down…why not use the same one who threw us out to climb back up by using her AND another god to do it. I am granted power by both gods simply because Lolth does not know I serve another, because at face value I DO serve her, so am I not true to my house to do what I must to achieve the power we lusted for?" She was not trying to beguile him. Sometimes telling a truth better served your purpose than a lie. She knew she needed this wild unpredictable creature, so she must show courage and strength, of course a little sincerity might throw him off balance. She had to try, if she wanted to succeed.
Her plan worked, it brought the creature to a halted silence. For some overly long moments, his bestial mind churning over her words, uncertain at this point how to take it all. Then, with a low growl, almost a sigh, the creature turned about to face the altar once more, shaking its white maned head slowly. "Very well, but it still seems wrong somehow," the voice was almost a pouty one, if it could be called such.
Xull'rae snickered and offered a response with humor, even though she understood his misgivings, "since when do drow do what is right to achieve what they want..? Very few," it must be hard to be a creature bred and blessed by Lolth's intervention, to inevitably go against her will but not at the same time. Draegloth's were made to be vicious but obey the Matron of a house and that made her his mistress. It was ironic really, but Xull'rae was no fool and knew she must keep this creature hidden but close to her. Betrayal was too common in this society after all, she had to nurture him.
Again the large creature growled, spinning back towards her slowly. "That's not the context I meant it in." He shrugs it off though seeing her nod and continues speaking, looking her over and studying her odd features carefully, "at any rate, you and I have much to discuss, female. I tire of being kept caged up, so I am here to tell you I will do what I must to serve you, in order to be set free."
That was the opening she needed, but she told herself not to be overeager or greedy. Nurturing took patience, something she knew she had to work on. Keeping it simple at first was the best strategy right now. "You don't have to serve Vhaeraun, like I do, but he can be beneficial." Not wanting to preach or recruit at the moment, she wanted him to absorb the information first, but a little "advertising" wouldn't hurt, so she pressed on, "I noticed you are into magic well he can offer that unabashed." Noticing she did not know what to call him, she thought now was a fine time to ask, "what are you called…assuming you have a name?"
For Vesz'aun, the ruse was up as far as the female went, but he kept his hood up, hoping that the creature wouldn't recognize him. It also kept him from speaking at the moment.
The draegloth snorted and said in an arrogant tone, "mm, I take what magic I want for my own, I need no god to provide that. And the Mother called me Mourn."
Xull'rae suppressed her flash of temper, remembering that this draegloth just spurned Lloth too, she let it go. After a moment she realized that Vesz'aun chose to stay, for her sake or for fear she wasted no time trying to figure it out as it was probably both. "Go on male, I said I'm fine," she pushed Vesz'aun against the door gently enough.
To distract Mourn from the identity of the cloaked figure, she added in, after a short pause, relieved her voice sounded collected and calm, "you need not serve me either, but I think it would benefit us both, as our goal is the same, so I will see about housing you somewhere not so confined."
Vesz'aun grunted. Frowning as he dared not protest openly, as he nodded to Xull'rae, and swiftly made his way out into the hallway, not daring to look at the beast as he would lose his nerve. He never heard the reply of, "the human saw about housing me too, and you saw how that went. I pray that your version of such is a much kinder one. I'd hate to have to kill one of my last remaining kin, as I will the human all too soon."
After a moment of standing there Vesz'aun took note that Bragh and whoever was with him were long gone. Tucking the bundle and his cloak beneath one of the many benches which lined the hallway, he jumped upward, intending to enter the chamber and keep an eye on things via the small attic and rafter system which resided at the top. He detested the fact that the room was magically silenced so that no sound entered within or without whilst the doors were closed, because he would not be privy to what went on in there until he clambered his way up.
With Vesz'aun gone, she focused her attention on Mourn, aware that a draegloth's presence here would cause alarm among her brethren. She sought a clean and effective way to speed this along while seeming unhurried. "My name is Xull'rae," she added as an afterthought. "Of course it is," referring to Cogliostro, "he's a Rivven, to him you're nothing but a large dumb monster, but where to put you..?" She tapped her chin in pondering what to do. "I can't take you to the Lolth temple in the city, and keeping you here might be just as dangerous…but hmm...you have thoughts of your own so where would you want to stay…not that you'll get what you want perhaps, but it'll give me ideas."
Mourn's eyes flashed a glowing red and a growl erupted into a snarl as he said, "he'll get a taste of large, dumb animal fury soon enough." As Xull'rae brought a single finger to her lips in a motion to quiet himself, he did so, but frustration still laced his tone as he answered her question, I am at a loss, Mistress, for I am far removed from my proper place, and time.
Xull'rae sighs peering up at him as she walked around him slowly holding her chin with her thumb and index finger. "You're too big too hide in a lot of areas, and this is not the City of Menzo, and it's certainly not safe for you to roam the city freely...very frustrating. Do you know any transfiguring spells to alter your appearance?"
Mourn shrugged his large shoulders, somehow knowing she was trying to be helpful. A priestess would not know too much of the arcane lore and didn't expect her to either. "Some minor ones, yes, though that will not be of much help in this city from what I've surmised...I've never seen so many wizards and other wielders of magic in one place," he replied, actually sounding rather awed by the time he was finished speaking.
Xull'rae caught the respect in his tone and gestured grandly, using a dramatic voice to give effect to her welcoming speech, the irony was she didn't use humor or sarcasm, though it would have been appropriate. "Yes the City of Dark Weavings, the greatest magic city in the world...welcome to Sshamath."
When he grinned, it was not a pleasant sight, so Xull'rae got on with business before the draegloth decided to act on natural urges and become unmanageable without alerting her brethren or resorting to violence. "You should just return to the inn this time just stay within the room you were in, my room or the library it connects to…okay it is the safest haven at this point, and the library is filled with spell books and other knowledge."
Vesz'aun at this point, had managed to get inside and was currently peering downward from high above, taking in the conversation. He let out a small gasp of protest, upon interpreting what his fire blossom had said to the horrid creature, then he promptly and silently chided himself for, hoping that he would not be sensed.
A decided frown formed upon Mourn's toothy maw then a malicious grin of sorts settled into place after a few moments thought. "Yes that would be appeasing...to wrench the knowledge I need to defeat the human from his very own selection of spells."
Xull'rae gave him a matching grin and warned for reminder's sake, "just be sure not to be seen or caught, I hope you understand why?"
So this one was young, he could tell. She had impressive potential though, her body despite the abnormal coloration's was fit, strong and healthy, while her talent of the mind was wild and free, a kindred spirit in his opinion. She had growing up to do, some of her mannerisms spoke of childish sincerity and quick to form opinions, but he could not deny her quick wit and able to strike deals and plots like an adult. Perhaps a bumbling adult at times, but she had survived this long then she would grow out of that in time. So he saw fit to correct her reminder with the truth, "I understand well enough, Mistress. Despite my heritage, I am not stupid."
Her demeanor did not change, she simply nodded in understanding. Xull’rae could be manipulated perhaps, but that required too much for a spirit such as hers, but he would keep things in mind to test her in the future to see if she was worthy of following. He inquired suddenly, "do we have funds with which I may procure some items of magic? That damnable human confiscated what I had on me, and the remainder of my items are lost in the past.."
As he was speaking, she was saying at the same time, "in any case I'm giving you permission for all three areas…although it is the rivven's inn and he only gave you that one room, so expect when he returns to be pissed at us both."
They looked at each other and both smiled. One was alluring, the other hideous. As they waited to see who would speak first, Xull'rae was the one who did so, answering his question, "I will buy what I can and drop them off to you...I don't have an extreme amount of funds but, what are some things you desire so that I may see if I can afford them?"
Mourn once more lewdly looked over the young woman in front of him that was his kin and his mouth stretched in what could pass for a smirk, despite still showing some teeth. "I'm sure you can work your way around the human's anger well enough." He hurriedly changed the subject, seeing anger flash across Xull'rae's face, but his smirk never left that bestial face as he talked, "since we have not many funds, I will procure what I can from the human's domain while I still roam free. With any luck, I will find my own items before he can stop me; which for right now, I believe is not a problem, as there was no sign of the human, mundane or magical, when I left. He's probably too full of himself to think I could have escaped anyway."
Xull'rae shrugged; content to let him do what he wished for now to see what he is capable of. Trusting this creature would be near impossible, but if she could show him she was strong enough to handle him then perhaps they could form a bond. In restoring her house, she would need allies, strong but trustworthy allies. Well, as much trust as she would dare give to such creatures as draegloth's and drow. "If you are sure, this the largest city to obtain magic items of all kinds, and yes I believe he had important errands to run knowing him. Methinks though, that you should go shortly. You are in a prayer chamber and others share this room, and while the clergy here are using me for their means I don't want them to use you as well," Xull’rae smiled in irony at the truth she spoke.
He shot her a quizzical look for a long moment then a slight smile of understanding creased his elongated maw. Nodding once, his large form began to disappear from plain view, the workings of a minor spell springing to life. "Yes, I shall take my leave...the longer I tarry, the less my chances of rummaging through the human's domain anyway. We will meet again soon, Mistress. I am now at your beck and call."
Xull'rae squashed the surge of excitement that ran from head to toe at Mourn's last words. She knew that the alliance was a fickle one and could change the next time they met, but it was a success all the same. Keeping her tone level and as it had been, she responded, "I will stop by later to check on your progress…if we can maintain our secrets and objectives, our house may rise from the ashes after all."
She was eager, he could smell it. He did not rebuke her for it, for he was himself. It gave him proof that she was at least serious to restore their name. "May it be so," said his maw, the only visible part of him now. The words were trailing towards the doorway from whence the creature had first entered. Then with a telltale opening of said doorway, the maw vanished in wisps and the beast was gone.
The place was oddly silent, even with spells in place it was too quiet. As if harboring a sixth sense that she was being spied on, now that she didn't have the draegloth to concentrate on, she figured Vesz'aun was lurking somewhere listening in the conversation but she saw no need to expose him any further than she had so she did not bother to look for him.
Replacing her mask she knelt down, the candles were still lit, the wax dripping and waning in size but she'd have to make do as she lit incense and began her prayer ritual.
She didn't get much time for prayer as she was suddenly interrupted by Vesz'aun's voice. "You aren't actually going to let him in your room, are you?" the bellow came from above, as the bladesinger floated slowly downward towards her. "I mean, c'mon…he's brutish, ugly, and probably filth infested! Diseases galore, a veritable farm of wretched creepy crawly things even! Put him in the damn stables or something!"
Feeling her good mood dwindling swiftly as he made himself known, she gave him a hard look. "Vesz'aun just go fix your sword, you need not concern yourself. The draegloth is technically my brother and I mean a real brother, I'm not going to bed him, he's a draegloth." Not that it was his business anyway, feeling her fists clench she relaxed them. He was not going to ruffle her, not here in this place of sanctuary.
A thoughtful moment of silence and then he broke it by speaking, which made her fingers itch to cause him harm. "Oh...well, even so! Just kill him, that'd be even better, he's nothing but trouble."
Xull'rae was making an effort not to tremble in rage and kill him where he stood. This was a sacred place, and she would uphold the dogma of her faith, she must, no matter how much of a failure and annoyance he was. Her patience was wearing thin though, how dare he tell her what to do, and admitting his own weakness that he himself could not kill the creature. Though all she said was, "remember I'm not really a Zauviir, I was adopted."
It never occurred to him to ask what house she came from, instead he was wondering why she was avoiding the subject at hand by telling him information he already knew. Yeah, yeah, I know, but you should just kill him, I mean, he jumped me and nearly killed me for no good reason, not to mention the other things he did," he shivered in spite of himself, remembering.
Xull'rae's body went tense and her voice went dangerously low. "You're nothing but trouble too, and I let you live."
A deep, resentful scowl is offered to her for a moment, then he shrugs it off, all but ignoring it and her body language, as he continues, "that's cause I'm a hot hunk of man meat...anyway, just kill him, he's probably plotting to have you for dinner or something right now."
Her anger dissolved into a cold detached calm, like what is felt before a storm hits. Her voice regaining its normal pitch as she replies, that's fine, I actually expect that and I'm prepared if he tries. Your concern for my well being is flattering and touching but I can handle the draegloth, now please go fix your beloved, I'm sure she's itching to cause bloodshed again." It seemed that she had good enough tact and diplomacy skills when under pressure, to be rid of him the subtle way without defiling this sacred place with male blood, not that Vesz'aun noticed.
"Hmph, itching to cause draegloth blood to shed, that's for sure. And I still say we can just go tell the human he's loose, maybe he'll kill the filthy beast. I mean, I can go do that right now, not a problem, the sword can wait...er, yeah." He gave her an impish smile, the only thing he noticed is that she cared for his sword, and that meant to him, that she cared for himself as well.
"No he won't," she corrected him, "he left the draegloth to me. I already gave the rivven the chance to kill Mourn. He wants to study him."
Vesz'aun took a step back in surprise, his smile turned into horrified shock and disgust. "Gah, are you both insane? It must have diseased your minds already, I told you it’s trouble, lemme go find some help!" he exclaimed.
Xull'rae asked in mock concern, trying to distract him from doing something foolish and inadvertently grating her nerves. "Your sword is not important? Surprising," she shook her head in disbelief.
Vesz'aun's skins starts to blacken from flushed embarrassment as he gave an unsteady response, "well, yeah its important, but, erhm, you're mor..er, nevermind," he headed for the doorway to go retrieve his broken blade he had hidden away before he said something foolish in her regard. He instead said," I'm gonna go find the bald one."
As he was leaving, she decided to respond on his comment on being insane with a lingering ghostly smile. "I probably will go insane eventually actually, something I don't want but must try to prepare for."
What made her say that he wondered? He shrugged and said,"you will if you hang around with that pile of filth and fur, that's for sure."
She laughed softly at the situation; he didn't get it and probably never would but she couldn’t resist saying, perhaps...but then again it's in my blood to go insane, his as well…I don't expect you to understand and if I were not drow I'd trust you to tell you what I mean...but all trust is foolish so our kin say."
Vesz'aun stopped short, just now opening the doorway, about to turn and offer her a sympathetic look, when his attention was caught by someone standing outside from what Xull'rae could gather. He sounded offended, speaking with more force than he intended to, "what? You can trust me! You should know that by now! He wanted so much to say more, but the words died as he noticed someone else was here. He shoved the figure aside while grumbling, "move aside shitbag, no time for you right now."
The words came to her ears, though she couldn't quite make out who was outside, as the door shut most of the way, it only cracked open by virtue that it had a faulty locking mechanism. The Bladesinger's form having retreated out into the hall for a moment, then he came stumbling a step back in a moment later, appearing to have been pushed aside; a look of much anger evident upon his visage as she caught a glimpse from her perch. Then she saw him reach for his blade, which was of course not at his belt. A low growl was issued, and she could make out his leg being thrust outward and in an upward swing. A heartbeat later, a dull thud and a loud groan issued into the doorway, right before Vesz'aun headed out once more, more of his words trailing inward, though not directed at her. "I warned ya, simpleton, now go soak yer balls in ice for an eternity or two."
The door did not completely shut at this point, and this time she could surmise it was because someone was laying partially against it, preventing such. Vesz'aun's sometimes grating voice could be heard once again, in an overly loud manner. "What, you two want some of this too? Bring it on fuckwads, or step the Abyss outta my way."
Xull'rae offered silent apology to her god for not making proper prayers this day. Irritation and curiosity getting the better of her, she went to investigate what was amiss muttering to herself why she tolerated the bladesinger and hoping beyond hope that she could be rid of him.
When she got to the doorway, she saw a familiar form crumpled on the floor, trying to catch his breath whilst cradling his manhood, the figure was Solaufein. Out in the hallway, Vesz'aun had his bundle in one hand, and was making a rude gesture with the other at two youngling males who were now scampering off towards the clerical rooms beyond the foyer. "That's what I thought, ya little punks."
The anger Xull'rae had felt towards him earlier no longer suppressed itself, and the calm dissipated, her expression as she pulled up her mask was a black thunder head. "What are you doing!? I should kill you for harm to my brethren, I'm actually within my rights to do so bladesinger and without your weapon it would be interesting to see how you'd fight me," this was his only warning.
Vesz'aun turned, shock and outrage on his handsome face, whirling around to look at her, "what?! Your 'brethren' there is a punk ass piece of shit poser, he ain't no real priest, and he pushed me, so I was within MY rights to kick his lily ass, or his balls in this case." He peered down at the fallen darkmask, grinning with malicious humor, mostly to himself.
Xull'rae knelt down to help Solaufein up, intent on seeing if he was all right and wanting to see if he wanted to right the slight against him before she flew off the handle and did it herself. Looking at Vesz'aun with contempt she said, "if he pushed you it was because you were in the way and should have moved and went to Bragh long ago like I told you to."
Vesz'aun's crimson eyes widened and his mouth hung agape, when he finally managed to speak his tone was incredulous and resentful, "yer gonna take HIS side!? What the fucks up with that? A guy's not allowed to defend himself, just because that piece of shit poses as a priest?"
She would have dropped Solaufein and gone to draw her weapon to attack the insolent bladesinger, but she kept her fingers gripped tightly on the cleric’s shoulders, if left in his state he could come to further harm and it would be her fault. Torn between two duties of protecting and seeking retribution, she managed to speak in hissing tones, "he is a darkmask you idiot so therefore he is a priest and yes I'm taking his side."
Hurt and angry now, Vesz'aun retorted, "bah! You have actually fallen for his lies? Fine then, be stupid!" His glare shot from her, down to Solaufein, who was starting to get up. Taking a step forward, he placed a hand out as if to offer to help Solaufein up, that handsome face softening to one of apology. "Fine, whatever, I'll go do my thing, and let me help you up, priest."
With distrustful eyes, Xull'rae watched him, not letting go of her companion. Solaufein, also wary, decides to give him the benefit of the doubt and offers the other man his hand. It was at that moment when Vesz'aun promptly stepped a little further and landed another swift kick into the darkmask's manhood before turning to saunter off, dark laughter, though not very mirth filled, emanating from his form. "See, why would Vhaeraun want some wimp ass punk like that, who can't even defend himself? I told you he's a poser."
As the priest groaned and slumped sideways breathless muttering curses, Xull'rae eased him to the floor and ran after Vesz'aun slamming him into the nearest wall with a strength that defied her form. She was livid with rage. The storm was rolling and threatening to cause destruction. Her dagger flashed in her hand and then pressed dangerously to his manhood; if he so much as twitched he knew he would be nicked. She was so close he could feel her breath on his skin. Her tone was disdainful and ominous, "apparently you do not believe in my faith and that's fine, you're an unbeliever and will be purged in due time, but do not think it is ever a bluff when I say that I will kill you if such an occurrence happens again that you cause harm to the Masked Lord's faithful, at this moment I believe that would rob Sol of his vengeance, so you will live for now. If he wants to, it will be exacted at any time by his choosing, if not now, I suggest you find Bragh quietly. If you can't succeed in such, what I will do to you is to be worse than that monstrosity you now fear, and still live to later atone for you offenses today. Is that understood?" She was dead serious and actually quite calm despite her apparent anger. She would find a way to make what she said become true. She would not let him get away with this.
The laughter quickly faded, Vesz'aun's twin pools of crimson narrowing spitefully at her, one of the daggers he secreted upon his own person already in hand, though not brandished at her, as his obsession caused him to pause in that. His own manner was much calmer, the idiocy seemingly washed away for the moment, his words soft yet determined. "I've killed more than a few of your kind, priestess, for doing such as this, and have no doubt, your boy laying there doesn't possess the courage to stand against me. He never has, and I doubt he ever will. But fine, we'll play this your way, I will take my leave. Now remove your blade from my manhood, and I shall do such." The longer he spoke, the more she could see his inner turmoil within those crimson orbs, mostly born from the fact he hated her for what she was now doing, but at the same time could not allow himself to hate her and knew it had more do with her strength of her character than his obsessive feelings. That alone surprised him.
She used this to her advantage, in the hopes that he could die and she'd be rid of him with his beautiful blood be smeared on her hands. You've killed my kind huh? What kind is that Vesz'aun? One's sympathetic to male plight, the one who has gotten you and others out of trouble with risk to myself or the bitchy, whiny, spoiled priestess, half of which that don't know the first thing about combat? So yes, please, please kill me Bladesinger, here and now." She stepped back shrugging, her dagger slipping away, her pretty face turning agreeable as she said, "why not? You'd being doing the drow a service by doing so, since I'm committing such an injustice by defending my faith and my comrade while violating your rights." She spread her arms wide; she was open for a clean hit, a kill even When he didn’t move she pulled down her mask, that pretty face of hers was confused while her tone challenged him, "what's the matter? Live up to your threat, if I'm such the evil priestess you think I am, prove it. Kill me. Stop being weak and wishy washy, kill me Vesz'aun." She was actually serious, prepared to die to prove a point. Her faith was strong, what she was doing was right, he was weak and what he was doing was wrong to her line of thinking, but knowing Vesz'aun pretty well, it was likely he would not harm her and that would be the time to strike.
A look of confusion and hurt crossed Vesz'aun's features as she backed away, and realization dawned on him of what was transpiring. He did not fear her challenge he knew he could kill her, but he knew he shouldn't. She did speak some measure of truth. She was different, some of the time. The other truth was the weakness, he would not harm her, not outright, not like this, and it shamed him. He couldn't help it, he wanted her, he needed her but couldn't explain why; that one thing that sparked some semblance of emotion within his being. The pained looked was accompanied soon thereafter by one of defeat, and he tossed his own dagger carelessly to the floor, swallowing his pride as best he could, and turning away before she could glean more from the windows to his soul. His tone was weary, if a tad angered, as he walked away and said, "then I'll not kill you, as I've no want to do any drow in this world a service," it wasn't entirely true, but sullen and sulking as was his mood right now, he said it anyway.
Xull'rae stood there watching his back, her face expressionless. In truth it was no mask, all she felt was confusion now. She had him now but kept her word in not killing him. Seeing his pain caused her no joy, but caused her no pain either. She felt empty and she couldn't fathom why.
Such was Vesz'aun's mood at this point, that he paused a moment, and tossed the bundle upon the floor before he continued onward. "I wish to no longer be any more beholden to one drow either."
The emptiness in Xull’rae fled, replaced once again by anger. He dared to place the blame of his weakness on her? Her tone was full of contempt and revulsion as she retorted vehemently, "how disgusting. It's not my fault your attached to the damn thing, or me! It's not my fault you can't back what you say, and gods know it's not my fault you are defeated and sulking like this. You cannot handle the truth, if you were bothered by all this you'd seek means to avidly rid yourself of me and you just passed a chance. You are the one who is the punk ass! I swear I don't know why I found you the least bit attractive or noble, I guess I am stupid!" She shook her head turning back to help Sol up again, wanting to give her hands something to do before she snapped into the natural urge and killed him for her anger, which was always wasteful in her opinion.
"Whatever," Vesz'aun mumbled, his form rounded the corner at the end of the hall, disappearing from view.
As Xull'rae leaned down to help Solaufein up, she heard the presence of two pair of feet moving in their direction, from the opposite end of the hall, hushed words being exchanged between the two, the first being a recognizable voice, that of Bragh. "Now he is more ripe than ever, this should work out well, retrieve his blade, take it to the lab, I will go and get him as soon as I deal with these two," the second figure muttered a confirmation, though she did not recognize his voice, nor his face as he scrambled past them and picked up the bundle, continuing on his way without another word.
Bragh, however, stopped and gazed upon her and Solaufein, his ugly pinched visage forming into some semblance of concern, forced into place to be sure, voice intended for their ears this time. "Revered Sister, Brother, forgive my tardiness, I would have arrived sooner, but I was delayed with the Inquisitor." Even though he was seemingly sincere, Xull'rae could glean by the look in his eyes that it was not an entire truth.
She wanted to run after whoever took Vesz'aun's blade, but stayed her spot to confront the Enchanter, looking him over with scorn. With his gray robes trimmed with lavender and his pinched and frail face, he was hardly an imposing figure. "Have whoever picked up that bundle return it to me, it's mine, I want it now."
Bragh blinked, obviously taken off guard for the moment, then he gathered himself and said in an almost apologetic tone, "I'm afraid that you do not have the authority, Sister. Though I will take the matter up with Pharaun at the first opportunity, and let him know of your desires. I'm sure he will not turn down your request, once the proper procedures have been followed."
Xull'rae narrowed her gaze unmoved by his speech, she knew the rules and there were no real procedures. They were going to do something to Vesz'aun and she was not going to let them use him to get to her in any way. Whether to emotionally confuse her or have him as a tool to rid her from the tower, she was not going to be an obedient pawn nor let them use a man she wanted to get rid of her own way to make sure he never returned to plague her. No, she was not easily controlled and this lapdog had sharp teeth. Anger exploded, knowing he saw her as a child and not a woman of equal standing, she let words fly from her mouth, "no, no, no, Bragh, I am the very pissed off psionicist that can fry your mind right now! So yes I have every authority."
For a moment, there was an amount of uncertainty within Bragh's crimson orbs then it was replaced with a tinge of his own haughty anger, though his demeanor did not show it otherwise. Again, he attempted to sound somewhat apologetic, though he was firmer with her this time. "I'm afraid that you are overstepping boundaries, allowing your emotions to interfere. Again I understand your desire, but procedures must be, and WILL be followed."
She tried to focus her thoughts and concentrate on dominating him, but her emotions were too frazzled with anger and worry on breaking the rules of her faith that she would not harm those of the faith, her frustration mounted to new heights that he was treating her this way and she was trapped within a web of her own making. Xull'rae did not like feeling helpless. With biting sarcasm she spat out, "oh really, and is it in your authority to 'deal' with us? How do you plan to do so mage? I swear people around here think I'm not drow and can't hear well."
A look of being "caught" crossed his face and instantly it was gone, replaced by irritation. He adeptly pushed it aside though becoming of placating manner once more. She had no authority over him, and her actions frustrated him, to say the least, as she always was a difficult one to intimidate and suppress, but that would change soon enough, "hm? Oh, that. I merely meant that I would offer up what aid I could to the situation, Sister."
Xull'rae rolled her eyes, steadying the silent darkmask to his feet, "and that's another thing you males perceive around here, that I'm stupid."
This was going badly and not the way he planned, frantic, he tried pleading. "No, not at all priestess," this time he placed his hands out in a manner to portray that he was not trying to be demeaning nor argumentative in any way, shape, or form, even if it wasn't the complete truth.
Not buying into his fake emotion, she didn't need to mind read to figure that out, she replied in a calm stately manner, all traces of anger now gone, "well you can explain to the Inquisitors, the Shadow Sorcerer, and every authority here that until Vhaeraun himself thinks I matter, I'm out of here. if you have to kill me, go ahead, I'd love to see you fellas try." She looked at Solaufein and asked," can you stand Darkmask?"
This was going very badly, her words caught Bragh quite off guard once more, and his jaw actually gaped for a brief moment. Then he forced it shut, blinked once, then shook his head slightly, trying once more to be apologetic. He didn't want to be blamed for losing a true and rare faithful Masked Traitor. He had to cover his ass and fast, "revered Sister, truly, no offense was meant. This is standard procedure that I am following, nothing more. But if that is truly what you feel, I will of course pass it along to the Shadow Sorcerer. Now, in order that I not further offend you, I shall take my leave." That said, he offered a respectful half bow, and hastened towards where the bladesinger, and his earlier companion, had went hoping no one noticed that sweat had started to pop up on his forehead, nor the nervous twitch of his left eye.
She glanced at Solaufein, and caught the slight look of irritated disbelief, which quickly transformed into one of satisfied possibilities that shifted upon Bragh's features as he spun to stride away. She could hear Bragh's hushed voice once more as he apparently met up with his companion after rounding the corner, "a minor setback, but if all goes well she'll be killed for her insolence. It seems this day gets better and better, maybe if she's isn't disposed then we'll have two converts so very soon."
For his part, Solaufein got to his feet with some great effort, but did not stand fully, instead leaning heavily against the door frame. Despite the obvious pain and discomfort he felt, his gaze met that of Xull'rae's, holding some measure of concern and a touch of disbelief as well. He wanted to speak up sooner but no one had given him a chance and the pain in his groin had indeed hindered speech for awhile. When he did speak, he beseeched her, "Sister, you would truly leave us?"
Xull’rae sighed in response, suddenly weary of these games and beginning to doubt herself. When she looked at him again, her amber colored eyes were pained and lonely, but there was such resolve and determination that said she didn't plan to leave entirely. It seemed what she had to say contradicted that however, "well when you put your life in peril everyday because you can't worship a god outright, because you'd be killed cause of it, or worse, if you do or are found out. You worship this god because the goddess you were brought up to worship is cruel and unfair, then you expect changes. I expected equality. I've busted my ass for this 'cause' that I thought had merit, but all I get are just as much lies, half truths and disrespect the Lolth bitches give me, and I have to draw a line somewhere. Yes, I'm afraid I must leave and continue my search. Maybe I should be a merchant or mercenary and not worry about the gods and their schemes. They don't care what happens to me so why should I care about them." It hurt to say that and she did not dare delve into her feelings at that moment, lest she become defeated like Vesz'aun. In her heart, she still had enough faith, but this church seemed too concerned with itself, rather than its god. Too disgruntled to stay and seek guidance from the higher ranks for fear of betrayal there too, she untied her mask from her neck and hands it to him. Her face reflecting her anger, confusion, and unspoken apologies as she says, "you can have the Shadow Sorcerer do what he will to my room, I have my possessions," she also hands him her short sword, unbuckling the sheath from her belt. "If we meet again and we must do battle, I expect you to fight with all your skill for I will as well, and if I must die I will not go down easy," it was a promise that she intended to keep.
This time Solaufein's bafflement and disbelief at her actions was even more apparent, his form straightening as he stared first at the bundled mask in his hands, then at her, something akin to pleading present on his face as well as he exclaimed, "Sister, this is ridiculous! Reconsider! The Masked One has shown you more personal favor than almost any in this place. How could you think he does not care? Backstabbing, scheming, and manipulating is part of life for our kind, a simple fact, and one which we here at the Tower, nay, in Vhaeraun's very faith, excel at. So of course you will find it happening even between the Faithful at times.
"Do not fret the mage, he has always been like that, and most here do not like nor trust him, with good reason. But do not let him make you question your faith!"
Always one to have dry wit, even in dreary moments Xull'rae quipped in reply, "it's not just him, good speech though you look very sincere and appealing. Think you have time to romp around?" She gives a small smile seeing his worried face and patted his shoulder, consoling him in fact, "if I wasn't drow, you'd be a friend in my eyes at least. You have been the only one to notice me and at least talk to me as if I mattered and I thank you," she winks then and shrugs, reviewing what he had said to her. "Hmm blame the doubt on my youth. Maybe I wasn't cut out to scheme…I really don't know, it just gets so tiring at times. Maybe I'm weaker than the bladesinger," She turns to go before she embarrasses herself.
He sort of offers a return smile, but his confusion and puzzled frustration wins out for the most part at first, and he takes a few moments to form words. "Yes, it is tiring at times, I agree, but life here does not allow for pause in it very often. We are not like the softer, lesser races which reside in the lands of light...though at times I personally wish that weren't so. You are hardly weak Xull'rae, you are just young, you will grow and mature more with time and then you'll be stronger. Do not think me the only one who thinks so highly of you, nor the only one of a friendly bent. I know Rizzen feels much the same as I do about it, just to mention one other. I beg you, rethink the matter. Rest on it if you must, but take back these symbols of faith in the meantime, Sister. Our Lord will be wounded, much like some of we clergy, should you falter from your faith, not to mention by your simple departure. It’s not just a matter of faith which binds some of us."
Xull'rae turned around and chewed on her lower lip to keep from flinching. His words stabbed her in what little heart she had, she tucked away his admissions because she believed him, and that gave her hope. She forms one of her rare soft smiles and cups Solaufein's face in her equally tiny hands and kisses his forehead. "Always am I a soft one for males, but I cannot stay here nor can I carry the mask or sword but I will keep the holy symbol of the faith and think of what you have said. Perhaps the answers I seek are elsewhere we shall see. I have not totally given up, not yet. I just need time to think."
Solaufein could do naught but offer something akin to a sad smile, and a sympathetic nod. After a small silence, letting her touch linger on him, he offered her these parting words," perhaps they are at that. I will keep these items in my possession for the day when you will come back to the fold, Sister. No matter the outcome, you are free to summon me should you need anything." He wanted to argue the point further, simply to get her to stay, but he was wise enough to know she needed this as she stated, so he would not. The most he could try to do was offer some sense of sympathy and support for her. It did not come hard, despite the drow way of life, he knew and admitted he liked this woman and refused to be ashamed of it.
Xull'rae was grateful as she nodded and stepped back. With a smile, she turned around and proceeded toward the entrance of the tower with all the confidence she possessed and tried very hard not to let her constantly churning thoughts stop her from doing what she felt she must do.
Solaufein simply watched her go, a look of sadness upon his features, but understanding was there as well. If ill came of this, he would always remember that smile with that touch of soft and warm lips on his skin bestowed in kindness. He strapped her sheath on his opposite hip, and tied her mask around his wrist and went the report this matter to the Shadow Sorcerer before Bragh told his version of it.
In another part of the tower, a certain magus scried onward from beyond his lavender and gray hood with a look of knowing satisfaction upon his visage.
Meanwhile in another tower of sorts not so far away, a certain bald headed human peered into a scrying device as well, a frown of concern, and even a touch of sympathy, etched upon his ageless countenance.
But, beyond the realms of mortals, a third being now scried upon Xull’rae as well; the masked drow had a look of puzzled intrigue touching his green eyes that shifted suddenly etched with concern, then shifted again to a deadly shade of red as the slightest touch of frustrated bewilderment settles upon his features.
No matter what Xull'rae may think now, she was unintentionally and unknowingly making an impact in many lives and existence's at this moment in time.