As Xull'rae made her way through the Darkwoods upon leaving the Tower on the following day, her rampant thoughts were disturbed by a certain wet, sloughing sound emitting from nearby, accompanied by an echoing snap. There is then a small pause, with the sound of a familiar bestial voice issuing forth in the darkness, obviously not intended for her ears. One notable difference is that said beast's words are hampered somewhat, as if he's speaking with his mouth full. It was Mourn. She crept closer, intending to listen. "That aside, are you not alive and well now?" questioned the draegloth.
Yet another familiar voice, one she surely loathed to hear at this point, joins the bestial one, again in a grating, overly loud tone, "yes, but that's not the point,” shouted Vesz’aun. "We had a deal, and yes, fine, you technically held up your end, but you didn't have to go that damn far with it!" His voice was tinged with some amount of anger, which made Xull’rae curious.
There was a delay from Mourn and more of the wet, sloughing sound, before he spoke, "opinions vary. Now stop whining and go away."
Xull’rae stopped to slip her piwafwi on, not even bothering to hide or even move closer, but she was listening, half interested, half not really caring at this point. She did however remain perfectly still. She wanted to understand their deal, truly though, it was a game to see if they would notice she was there. Maybe it would ease her turmoil by causing some for others.
She noticed Vesz’aun had made no move to leave, his strong body is rigid with defiance and his crimson eyes glittered in malice, he was bold enough to silently challenge the draegloth.
Mourn noticed too, stopping his crunching on bone to slowly grin, bearing all his sharp bloody teeth, bits of raw flesh stuck in between them. When he spoke, his voice was a soft hiss, as if he wanted to seduce and tease," unless you are to serve some useful purpose during my mealtime...dessert, perhaps?" he trailed off, his eyes glowing a deep dark red, as if proving a point, but from Xull’rae’s point of view, he was giving the idea some thought.
From Vesz’aun, there was another long pause, in which Xull’rae could easily imagine that the bladesinger would be scowling furiously, frustrated that he could do nothing to harm the draegloth for his mockery, but no expression showed from her line of sight. Finally he spoke, and he was calmer than before, but there was still a hard edge to his tone, "anyway....When do I get recompensed for the little deal we struck?" Mourn surveyed him and exhaled loudly, so Vesz’aun pressed on in quick explanation, "things turned sour, I need to leave as soon as possible, and the more money I have, the farther away I can get from this city."
Upon hearing that from the Bladesinger, Xull’rae smiled ruefully to herself, and curiosity made her stay put for now. Wanted to leave too, did he? She just hoped he wouldn’t end up following her.
Mourn chuckled and looked at him with shrewd dark red eyes and threw him a lazy response, "then leave, simple enough. I don't have any money yet, simpleton. That's why I was trying to employ you once more, to steal my items back from the human, and maybe a little extra. But like I said, if you are in that big of a hurry, just go," he then rips off another chunk of meat off the mangled body he had and stuffed it into his maw, bone and all. "I'll be sure to send what I owe you to whichever slum you end up in, really," the draegloth slurred the last part out, snickering, flinging flecks of morsels out of his drooling mouth in the process.
Vesz’aun suppressed a shiver, but his handsome face could not hide his revulsion as he watched the beast, unable to look away, lest his fear give way by the act. He said more bravely then he felt, "I can tell that you two are related and fat chance, I'm not leaving until you pay up," he all but sneered before another pause was given, his defiance making him stand firm and able to ignore his rising fear that he was towing a dangerous line as he continued with a pause for breath, "it's not like I cannot, mind you. It has nothing to do with lack of funds or anything....I just got to keep you honest." He knew that sounded lame, but he needed a way to change the subject before his words got him into trouble.
Mourn snorted a response, his agitation rising by the tone of his raspy voice, "mmm hmm. It occurs to me that the sooner you get my items, the sooner I can pay you. Get my point?" He rose to full height to stretch and then hunched himself to stay level with the Bladesinger, his dark eyes unsettling as they watched him like the prey he was and had been just recently.
Yet another pause, in which Vesz’aun is silently fuming, then a curt answer is given as he looks at a rock behind the draegloth, looking away but still seeming to be looking at him, "yeah, I get ya," he says sullenly.
Mourn moves closer to him, sniffing him up and down, then his bloody maw splits into a slow malicious grin as he slowly circles the bladesinger, sounding amused as he says, "good. You have more brains than I would have first taken you for."
Seeing the brave front Vesz’aun was making in the face of his foe, Xull’rae decides to grant him reprieve, so she deliberately turns around and makes scuffing noises with her feet and sighing in frustration. Her back was to them as if she were the one not noticing them as she walked briskly down the path, just to break their conversation and hide the fact she was listening in, muttering to herself incoherent to the two of course.
The sudden silence which fell after her scuffing noises echoed throughout the area would give her sign that they heard. Then a soft whooshing of air, followed by a large, dark shadow leapt past her, gave sign that at least one of them was curious. A heartbeat later, Mourn's large form was looming over her, fresh blood still dripping from his maw, and from the remains of what appeared to be a drowic leg, which was dangling within one of his overly large, outer claws. "Ah, Mistress," he said, merely inclining his head respectfully, and then crouched down on his haunches to continue eating; she was not prey so she did not hold his interest for too long.
Xull’rae’s amber eyes glanced over the draegloth and gave him a civil greeting, "evening Mourn, trust your dinner was tasty?" she didn’t once glance at Vesz’aun, and she could sense he was doing the very same.
"Mm hmm," came Mourn’s response. Something akin to a satisfied smile creased his bestial maw, mouth too full of thigh meat to answer right now.
She nodded and finally looked around to if Vesz'aun had gone or if any more were here and was mildly surprised he had slipped away from her notice, so she called out, "keeping yourself hidden?"
Mourn offered a response once he swallowed, "he's probably long gone, as he got my point and started to leave just before you made yourself known. Then again, he may just be down there silently brooding."
She shrugs and lets it drop as she responds, "I see," she begins and then changes the subject, to get to the matter at hand. "Well is there anything you need? It may be a little while before I return."
Mourn looks her over and takes a whiff of her scent, she smelled angry and confused, the mixed scent made him tilt his head and blink at her as he replied, "there is plenty I need, but I think the bladesinger will cover that part soon enough," curiosity made him question her and disregard caution. He had nothing to fear from her, not yet, so he would test her boundaries until such time that she showed he was overstepping. Regardless of his subtle testing and probing he decided to be respectful. So far she deserved as much from their previous encounters, "may I ask what you mean by your last statement?" Mourn asked.
Xull’rae nods to him about the bladesinger but a small frown pulled at her lips, it was no surprise he could read her, she was doing a poor job at covering her distress, but she did not care, as such, she gave him an honest answer, "I'm going on a trip. I'll return; I just don't know when. I'm young and need to train more if I am to restore a house, so what better way to learn than the way of exploration?" When he failed to show that he cared, she elaborated a little bit, "you want me as a strong leader don't you?"
So she has a point to this after all, he thought with a smirk on his feral lips. He nodded in earnest and said, "yes, strength is something I can respect." He appeared a bit puzzled as he tossed the remainder of the leg aside, and began to lick his claws clean of blood while he asked, why do you need to explore in order to train?"
Xull’rae wasn’t in the mood to explain her problems to him or even discuss her true motives, but at this moment, she thought why not humor him with her ridiculous dreams and ideas? So, with a slight shrug and repressed sigh she answered him, "because drow are plotters and good fighters but most are ignorant about other cultures and do not wish to learn." When he nodded she continued, "well I do. I believe knowledge of other places and gaining allies from there will help us become greater than we already are. There are many styles and techniques out there to know and while the drow down here squander away with their plots and schemes, I will be gathering ways to help us rise."
Mourn took her words and thought them over with appreciation. Indeed she was young, even green, but her capacity to see flaws in a race that taught their own to be flawless was a wonderful quality in his mind, a break from tradition was the Oblodra way. Of course he’d give her that recognition, but he wasn’t about to inflate her ego, "ah, untraditional as it sounds, there is perhaps merit in the plan, though this task would take years, I am thinking, he said it thoughtfully. Just because he was a chaotic demon did not mean he was not an intellectual, or be thought of without manners on occasion.
Xull’rae nodded gravely. She was glad he did not scorn her or think it would be an easy task. Truth was, that even if she was rejected by her Lord of Shadow and his holy order, she would accept it, but it did not mean she could not carry on his cause without him, he just made things seem more right and even comfortable. His power and blessings were an honor and a privilege, more than mere tools to achieve a goal, but still it could be done without him. She just had to think if it would be worth it, worth the long painful road.
After a few minutes passed she finally agreed to what Mourn said, "yes, which means I will come to visit periodically, maybe more often than I think. The surface is a big and bright place, and can be just as unfriendly as down here. I dunno, perhaps it is my youth talking again, or madness setting in," she snickers at the last bit because it could be that simple as to why she was not a normal person to most.
Though he might have otherwise found it humorous, the draegloth had witnessed enough of the other females in the House take a downward spiral into madness, and as such, he did not provide any sort of mirthful response. Despite being a creature of evil and seeming madness at times, he was wary of the sort of madness his kin had fallen into in times long past. "Perhaps, yes, the surface is quite a different realm than this one. Why not simply extract what cultural information you will from the human, and his servants, which seem comprised of a variety of races? Despite the creatures being beneath us, they will perhaps offer up some useful insight or another," he asked and implored, not truly wishing to see this young one go. While her idea was a good and sound one, too much could influence her. She might not ever return and Mourn felt the need for her company in the long haul. It was so hard to rely on anyone no matter how small, but he could not make her stay. At least she was seeking his council. Maybe he could go with her. He didn’t wish to go to the surface, but he could keep an eye on her that way, plus he’d have a wider variety of food to enjoy up there.
He hissed and grunted as his rampant thoughts were being troublesome. This female was already bringing about change, and he wasn’t sure he liked it. She easily caused confusion and treated him decently; he must not get comfortable with that, instead, use it to his advantage and kill her first, if it came to that, but what of his house? Damnit! She was speaking, so he focused on her voice and slammed the other thoughts and locked them away in the deep recesses of his mind.
"I must ask a request of you Mourn," said Xull’rae, looking at him with the most serene and indifferent expressions as she continued, "and whether you abide it, I leave it up to your will. As an aspiring mage, one who I know will be great, stay true to the Weave, Shadow Weave may look more tempting and powerful but I do not think it is what it seems to be."
Her request was interesting to him for she smelled honest for lack of a better word, truly concerned for his welfare. He was sure she had another agenda, but it benefited him as well. He saw no reason to deny her, but he would question her first, it seemed too simple to just follow in obedience. "Shadow Weave?"
Xull’rae saw the spark of interest in his eye, but true to her word, she would let him find out on his own, regardless of consequences, she gave him reply, "if you do not know, research it and make the decision on your own. Just know that Shar is a cold and greedy goddess that can and will cut it off from you at a moments notice. As I said the true Weave is probably the better choice."
Mourn’s toothy maw settles into something of a puzzled frown and his glowing eyes registered surprise, "The Night Bringer deals in magics now? I have much more than that to research, it seems. Even the pantheons seemed to have gone through some changes." Dark crimson locked with amber and he nodded to her, "at any rate, I will take your words into consideration."
Xull’rae allowed a small smile of understanding dance its way across her lips as their gazes locked for but a moment, giving way to his acceptance, which was all she could hope for. Satisfied, she repeated, "do so, there are those that believe her way is better, I for one do not think so," she gave a little sigh, as she headed back to their original subject with some reluctance, "as for the human, well he's not my ideal role model for his kind."
She grinned then, her expression sardonic but amused as she added, "humans cannot be that annoying."
Mourn’s puzzlement was replaced with a mildly humored look as he said, "one would hope not. I still say the plan would have some beneficial fruition, despite the wariness, but you are the Mistress, and as such you make the choices, it is not my place to question it...overly much, at least."
Xull’rae considered his words and promptly said in response, "you may question it Mourn, I may tell you to not worry about it or actually impart information, and I’m odd like that. I will not be the type of Matron to think males as nothing more than breeding stock and a line of defense, which goes for you as well."
That was very surprising and pleasant to hear but he did not let it show, he was not easy to bait, but then again she had been honest thus far, and presented change once again. She was unusual; perhaps she could be a better and stronger Matron. He was willing to let her try, if only to see if she would indeed keep her word or lie like drow often do. Both ways, he’d get something from it, and if she proved weak, maybe he could puppet her. That was a very interesting idea, so interesting that he nods, accompanying it with something that could be taken as a humored smile, if one used their imagination and could get past the naturally malevolent grin which was presented at all times. He responded to her topic, giving no opening to his own agenda, "good, as I prefer to be considered a line of offense rather than defense,"
Xull’rae let escape a giggle, the comment was funny, but it was more to humor him than genuine laughter, she agreed and said, "offense you are then." Then the smile slid off her face as she considered this draegloth might have goals of his own and was testing her. With all that had happened she wanted to flee, run from the schemes that seemed to be everywhere she turned. Instead though, she stood her ground, ignored fear and looked around once again, inquiring after the bladesinger, "Vesz'aun, is he still here?"
Mourn sneered slightly and shook his head, with a malicious snicker before answering, "mm, actually he is down below,” one of his large, clawed hands points off-handedly towards the floor somewhere below them, towards the outer edge of the woods. His eyes narrowed and he sniffed the air, "speaking to someone, from the scent of it."
Wariness set upon her immediately when Mourn asserted that someone else was here with them, but he seem unconcerned, so that helped keep her cool and not give way to senseless paranoia. She looked at him, putting her hood up out of habit, and stepped away, speaking as she did so, "hmmm perhaps I should leave him be then. I trust you know it's best to stay hidden?"
Mourn shrugged his massive shoulders and jumped up to perch on a natural stony rise to look down upon the scene, keeping his deep rumbling voice low so it would not carry below, "perhaps. He appears to be arguing anyway. I've taken note that once he takes up in such, there is no reasoning with him. And yes, I of course will do so, hence why I've employed an agent to carry certain tasks out for me." He pauses, watching in the direction of the bladesinger a moment longer, "though I wish I had employed a more worthwhile being upon reflection."
He must mean Vesz’aun, she thought with irritation, and it carried over in her tone, "I told you I'd be willing to help you freely I don't even care if you never return the favor at this point." She smiles some to try and convey she need not rely on others.
A polite, respectful inclination of Mourn’s head is then offered, "your offer is duly noted, and appreciated, Mistress, though I prefer not to ask such demeaning tasks of one of your stature." He caught her irritation, so he thought to smooth it over with honesty of his own and once more play his designed role.
His attempt was not wasted either as she replied with playful sarcasm, "so well brought up." She smiled wider this time and continued with her banter, "very well, but Vesz'aun doesn't like you at all. He believes I should be rid of you and I'm sure you think likewise of him."
Mourn chuckled deeply, her liked her wit. He nodded and said," that is a correct assumption. Which, when he's served his purpose, perhaps I will be rid of him. A better option than actually paying him for the services he's rendered. I can't help it if he agreed to a bargain, and then got upset about the specifics afterwards."
Lingering, she caught the words he spoke and her curiosity rose and made her delay more. She asked, "what was the bargain? I never asked him because I didn't think he'd give me the truth, you on the other hand have nothing to gain or lose by withholding that information."
Mourn sensed she wanted the truth, and while he did not fear her should he decline, he didn’t want to bothered by a fit should she have one. So gave her the answer that came to mind, "that I do not. It was a simple matter. He was to help me lure the human into the situation which you were witness to...being bait, of sorts. I saw wisdom in making it as real as possible. Though apparently he had some other concept of what would transpire in mind. At any rate, it worked. I was able to glean the human's trigger words for a few of the arcane seals which held me in that prison," he smiled, remembering that whole plan and how it played out. To Xull’rae it looked ferocious.
She nodded though, she too appreciated his dark sense of humor, and it went with her own. "I see," she responded, pressing the issue, as he did not elaborate on Vesz’aun. So she asked another question, "so what was it he wanted from that? Or do you know?"
Mourn snickered and spat some cartilage from his mouth as he answered her once more, "simple coin...for a simple mind. No imagination on that part. He also mentioned my doing what I could to harm and/or kill the human in the process, but I had told him ahead of time there wouldn't be much along those lines that I am able to do just yet." He then hissed out, after a long pause, "yet," he repeated the word in a most loathsome manner, keeping a growl in check, lest he make too much noise.
Seeing the current subject was starting to rile him, Xull’rae twisted it with humor, her eyes shine with amusement as she jabs him with an idea he’d surely protest to, "hmmm guess I should choose another candidate to be patron then," she sighs in mock frustration.
That startled him and he whirled to confront her, not at all amused now, but sorely irritated, "by the Abyss, yes! With all due respect, how could you have even let the notion enter your mind? He is a comely male, I suppose, but no brains to speak of to accompany those looks." He paused seeing her dark knowing smile, and a feral smile of his own washed his irritation away as he caught her understanding and reassessed by saying, "then again, I'm sure you are able to manipulate one such as him easily enough. That could be a bonus," he nodded, considering her joke to have some merit in the future.
Despite her jest, she had considered it before, as she was doing now, to which she nodded to the draegloth for his deduction. "Hmm he is very attractive," she confessed, "and he's the only male thus far to show interest in me despite my oddities. Plus as you said he's willing to be manipulated." She said willing because she had seen Vesz’aun with other women and they could not use him so, with her it was the opposite. If he wanted to be the fool, that was his choice. One day she was sure he would turn on her; she would be ready and strike first. She blinked once, realizing Mourn was speaking to her.
"Oddities?" he asked.
Xull’rae frowned, but then realized he was not a vain creature, so he probably did not understand, so she did her best to explain, "well you're a draegloth so things like physical attractiveness means nothing to you, to a female in Lolth’s society it is a priority to most, especially those of pedigree and station."
It made sense, Mourn realized. Of all the pure breeds he had seen since becoming free had exceptional beauty. Looking at Xull’rae in a new light, he addressed to her his opinion on the matter, "mm, I suppose you are correct. One female is as good as any other to rut with, or take my pleasure from, though I dare say you are not among the less comely of our kind," in truth he found her color to be vibrant and intriguing, but if she disagreed, then it was best that he not press the issue.
He sounded like Cogliostro but did not say that. Instead Xull’rae shrugged like his opinion did not matter, but smiled lightly, as if to say thanks as she said, "maybe, though most other females would disagree with you and you know in Lolth society that the female’s opinion matters and influences the males either by fear or actual loyalty."
Mourn frown as he noticed that Xull’rae lacked self confidence in her physical self, which bordered on weakness to him. The fact that she seemed comfortable with her other skills made him keep his reprimand from becoming vocalized; instead he did the opposite and pointed out the virtue of being in another city, "perhaps, though I think Lolth society has little to do with things around here, from what I've gathered so far. I already know the bladesinger to be the impious sort. In any case, you will be a proper Matron soon enough and any male will be at your disposal. No need for that one."
Xull’rae flashed an evil grin as the draegloth once again dismissed Vesz’aun, to which he returned her grin, and they both laughed. There was defiantly a connection forming between them, a small one now, but would grow later if she let it, but now was not that time. Now was the time to get moving, so she grew serious again and commented quietly, "I am beginning to think I should be as well, but you’re right so perhaps I will plenty to choose from. In any case I must be on my way; I have business to take care of before I begin my quest for Knowledge."
Mourn nodded and came back over to her, looming over her, protectively. His mind made up then, at their parting to come with her, she had too much potential to go in an unknown world and possibly get killed. Too much rode on her to die now. Again, they met eye to eye when he spoke, “As do I as well. I will be ready to depart when you are, whether the bladesinger has retrieved my items yet or not."
Understanding and overwhelming gratitude swept through Xull’rae as she realized Mourn’s intentions. She could not say what she wished to, she must go alone and decide things for herself, but his gesture touched her deeply. In her need for companionship without judgment, he offered it when she needed it most. Thanks would be wasteful, as it would be admitting a weakness and ruin the moment of connection between spirits like-minded. She said what came to mind, responding to his regard on the items he sought, “you may stay if you wish Mourn to make sure he does not use your items for himself."
She actually brings a deep, short chuckle from him, one of derision for the bladesinger to be sure. She thought as he said, "as if he could. And no, my place is by your side now, Mistress, and I will not shirk in my duties."
Seeing he was intending to still go with her, Xull’rae didn’t want to command his staying here, so at a loss for what to do and lacking the capacity to be gentle in such matters, she just stalled on the topic at hand, "he's wanted to study magic too, I just hope he knows Bragh is using him, in what way I'm not sure yet but I'm sure it is not good."
Mourn looked disgusted and surprised at her announcement about the bladesinger, "he is not seemingly cut out for wizardry, in my opinion. There is no semblance of patience to him. And as far as him being able to tell if someone is using him, well, that I doubt very highly." Hearing her mention a new name, made him tilt his head and inquire after the new information, "this Bragh is a mage, I take it?"
Xull’rae nodded, but instead of giving out more information, she stopped stalling, seeing her attempt at keeping Mourn from going was futile and decided to go forward. "Very well I need to stop at the Vengeful Weave than the Web of the Spider Queen. I need to give the matron there notice of my absence or someone there, so a hunt is not started for me."
Mourn stood straighter and looked ready to go.
Xull’rae suppressed a sigh and went back to the subject of Vesz’aun as they started walking, "well I know he is not as stupid as he seems sometimes, otherwise how could he have lived this long."
Mourn growled out a response, "sheer, dumb luck, perhaps. At any rate, I am causing you to tarry, Mistress. I will go now to conduct my own few points of business now," he stopped, waiting for her to dismiss him.
How strange that was. First he wanted to go, and now he wanted to go another way. Then again, draegloth’s were chaotic, and this is what she wanted, to be alone, so why did she feel lonely right then, and why did she nod, moving away from him, instead of staying like she wanted to? As she continued forcing her wooden feet to move, the more she pushed her feelings away and began burying them. She didn’t look back.
She doesn’t look back, and she won’t. She is afraid, but masters fear well, thought Mourn as he watched her go. He remained at his roost for some long moments, watching her leave, his mind working upon different points and thoughts that arose during their conversation. Then, with a deft series of leaps, he was making his way towards another section of the Darkwoods. They would meet again, she would return, in the mean time he would prepare while giving her the privacy she wanted.
Now in the silence with no one to talk to for distraction the feel of the tower behind Xull’rae weighed heavy on her mind and doubts rose again. This caused her to quicken her pace to the human’s inn, movement helped her not to think.
Vesz’aun too now hastened to the Inn, his quickness born of the adrenaline rush which oft times accompanies anger and angst, which in turn was born from the conversation he'd just had with Bragh at the edge of the Darkwoods. Not to mention the calamity that occurred recently with Xull'rae.
Though he could deaden the emotions to some degree, his obsession would not let it rest for long. As it stood, he was a ways in front of her, not aware that she was heading in the same direction as he.
None were aware of it, but for Cogliostro’s part the scrying had continued, and he was well aware at this point on what occurred with the draegloth, the bladesinger, and the drowess. Frowning, he decided to let the draegloth run free for the moment, as it appeared the drowess had some semblance of control over the beast anyway. Besides, he would have to waste some all too valuable energy to rein the creature in, energies he could not spend if he were to have any chance of pulling off the mission that he, Cyrus, and a certain wee lass were going to embark on soon. He could afford only a couple more hours to attend his business at most, 'ere they should leave, so he stepped away from the scrying device, and made his way through the nearby portal which would whisk him to his office at the Inn proper. If nothing else, he would need to perform a hasty clean up and repair job, before people got wise of the damage, and started asking questions.
Xull’rae did indeed see Vesz'aun up ahead, but did not bother to slow her pace until she caught up with him now walking a few feet behind him. Even if he said nothing or acknowledged her it was better than being alone with thoughts she did not want to dwell on at the moment.
As if on cue and possessing some extra-sensory perception when it came to Xull'rae, Vesz’aun’s form came to a sudden halt, followed by a swift turn in her direction. A scowl of annoyance held upon that handsome visage, though she would be able to discern it was born from the fact the cloak's hood impeded his view, rather than her presence. He was obviously not accustomed to wearing such very often, as for quite some time now he'd barely worn anything aside from pants and boots, brazenly treading where he would as a proper bladesinger.
After the hood had been adjusted, and the scowl settled to a frown, a single white brow quirked in her direction betraying the fact that he was wary and did not know her intentions. Whether it would come or not, he did his best to steel his emotions against the ridicule he thought would be imparted upon him.
"Keep going...from the look of it we are both headed to the rivven's inn, I don't plan on talking so go ahead and ignore that I'm here," her tone sounded tired but her expression held a wariness just like his own did.
The frown deepened as Vesz’aun weighed the options of speaking his varying thoughts aloud as well as the desire to both apologize and maybe begin arguing anew. Then, he settled for offering a simple nod of acknowledgement before turning and stepping forward once more, a low utterance mumbled to himself in the process, "easier said than done...."
Xull’rae sighed, and walked ahead of him. She wanted to remain silent, but the words came out despite her best intentions, "well you can talk, I just said I wouldn't, so if you have something to say, say it. We will more than likely work together under the bald one so, things might as well be said so we know what to expect from each other in terms of work relation."
His tone was not a bitter one in the least, more weary than anything, like hers. It also betrayed the unspoken notion that he had only been there in the first place because of her, and now that a rift had been created, he felt it inappropriate to stay, "no worries there, Jabress, I shan’t be working for the human much longer, so perhaps there is no need for such."
Xull’rae took what he said and jabbed him with it, her tone biting, "oh I know, you’re working for Bragh instead. Which is really worse, him or the human? That I am curious to know?"
He almost stopped in his tracks once more, visibly flinching, though exactly why she could not discern. The hooded gaze never looked to her as he replied; his tone slightly bitter now, "that much I have not yet determined, neither will I. I'll not be entering Master Bragh's employ anytime soon, either. That was in the past, and it will remain there. I plan to leave this damnable city entirely."
Xull’rae smirked, this was not news, but she did not believe him either. If he wanted to be gone he would have been, money or no money. His delay proved he was only debating it, and something else was keeping him here. Not wanting to relent her interrogation, she continued to press him, "and since when does the pompous Vesz'aun use the word Jabress in a non mocking tone, I am Jabress of nothing yet, except the non drow races. You constantly remind me every day, so why respect me now?"
Vesz’aun was glad his hood was up preventing her from seeing his tortured expression. She was right of course, but his tone was firm and defensive as he replied, "maybe Vesz'aun isn't as pompous as people think."
Xull’rae remained unconvinced and cut through the tension to the heart of his problem with efficient insight but brutality, "really or is Vesz'aun hurt, which is the only reason why I can fathom why you are leaving this city of freedom? Most other drow cities are Lolth venerated, unless it is the mercenary or surface life you are going to strive for." To Xull’rae none of those options seemed likely, Vesz’aun was too vain and arrogant to live above ground or make his way on his own without leeching off someone, and it was from this deduction that she deliberately mocked him.
At that point, Vesz’aun did stop, and forced her to spin to face him once more, the anger held within his gaze, and his words were unable to completely conceal the hurt which indeed lay beneath. Aside from what had been inflicted earlier, she just will of course compound it further. It was her way, though she may never grasp why. When he responded his tone was slow and clipped, "the Vesz'aun is a bladesinger...and bladesinger's are champions of the People. As such, I will return to the duties of that office which I have been shirking as of late. I will of course also have to make amends for such procrastination, so that means I'll be traveling back to my Guild in order to have a penance meted out upon me." Despite no reaction from her, her grew defensive all the same, conviction making him say his next words, "as fucked up and ridiculous as that may sound to you, my order does maintain some semblances of the honor which the office of bladesinger held to in the days our people walked the surface world freely."
Xull’rae waited until he was done speaking to outright laugh at him. Her words were scathing and her eyes cold and venomous as she retorted, "champions of what people, certainly not drow? Drow have no need for honor or champions, only power and to see who is better than whom. You are thinking of the illythiiri, what we were, not the drow, what we are now."
He for one did not find it humorous in the least, and again he frowned deeply, turning from her, shaking his head slowly as his pace began anew, "if you would spend more time among the commoners, you would realize that not entirely true. There are more drow out there who need championing than a noble born such as you are, could ever realize." Her silence proved she was listening, but it also meant a rebuttal was coming, so he did his best to defend his argument before she got a word in, "the sad part is that most of them need championing against threats which come from those very same nobles. Drow as a whole are not worth it, that much is true, though enough merit the aid, that our Order still maintains and upholds its ideals."
Xull’rae had plenty to respond to, so started more gently than before, "you are better than some, but a champion…well, hmm no not yet. Champions do the right thing; they are honorary and stick by their beliefs. They never betray their comrades, and serve others before themselves; you have a lot to work on if that is your goal," she weighs all that he says with a soft sigh. He constantly judged her, why did she let him do that? He was not a bastion of good. What did he know of hardship that she did not? Just because she a noble born and a priestess did not mean that her life was easy. Focusing those thoughts, she continued with them before they got clouded. "Vesz'aun you know nothing of me other than you and you alone think I'm pretty. I know the nobles but I have also been amongst the commoners half my life. It's one of the many reasons I con--," anger came unbidden anyway and she trailed off. She was tired of always explaining herself to him, he never would see her as who she is, only what he wanted to see. Enough was enough. "You know what never mind, because it doesn't matter, you go your way and do what you must, may you succeed in your goals," she stopped talking. This conversation was useless, so she picked up her pace and went faster, wedging a gap between them.
A long glare is offered before she turns away, though one as much studious as anything baser of thought, he regarded her carefully, ignoring the beauty in the depths of that hood he knew was lurking there. "Very true,"” he said at length, with grudging admission. In all their ten years together, he hardly knew anything of her past life. Perhaps he had been too hasty, she was noble by adoption from what he knew and that was about the extent of it, except what he knew by spending time with her. Thinking on it now, as in times past when he always hurt her, he realized just how different she was from the other drow women, but how much she was similar to drow in general. His voice was softer and more gentle than it had been before as he spoke, "perhaps I do not know much of your past, though that would only be due to the fact you are so unwilling to share it. Let me give you a point of fact though, I see you as much more than just a pretty face." A short pause was given as his features revealed the fact he was trying to hold back the better part of his anger and frustration and trying to maintain some semblance of civility, "you also know little of me, it seems. Perhaps I am not what most would consider Champion material...but I'll have you know that of the twelve priestesses I've killed; only two were out of personal grudges. The remainders were slain simple due to the fact that they abused some commoner whilst I was around to view it. That has to be some sort of Championship," he realized it was not, after he heard himself aloud. How had he helped those commoners after ward, except milk them for what they had, abusing their gratitude. What of other oppressors besides priestesses? Some mages were no better in their treatment of the commoners. Instead of admitting he was a hypocrite and that she was right, he let the matter go entirely by saying, "though you are correct, I suppose none of this does matter, as you've already made it clear that you want nothing to do with me."
Xull’rae stopped as well, but instead of rubbing his face in with his false beliefs, she used point blank honesty instead. Answering his ending statement with irritation and anger, "because you are such a fuck up...if you'd let go of the arrogance you have on yourself you'd know why I have made sure others did not kill you. Yes you obey well, at times. Why? Because I guess you want to, but the main reasons I put up with you is because you have the looks and the potential to be great, and while at face value I may treat you less it's because I must...and yet you repay me by mocking my faith; what I hold dear, just because YOU have no faith in the gods gives you no right to mock mine! As to why I haven't told you about myself...because it would get us both killed if you blabbed it to the wrong person." It wasn’t the full truth, but he wouldn’t grasp it fully if she had said everything anyway. Besides why let him know her weaknesses that lay hidden in her heart for him, he’d just use her and hurt her with that knowledge, so her survival counted on keeping secrets.
The frown on Vesz’aun’s face deepened for a moment, then he blinked, and it twisted once more into a frown of resignation. That was all she would see as he turned away, only muttering a short answer in response to the many points she brought up. "I would not...." He was wise and crafty enough to realize that by not arguing against the remainder of her points, that silence could be taken as recognition of the fact she was right. He simply did not wish to admit it aloud.
Xull’rae sighed and most of her anger drained away upon giving him credit that he did not wish to carry on arguing, as such she softened her tone as she admitted what she did not wish to. Who was right did not matter, what did was the best path to choose from here, "no... you wouldn’t, not intentionally, that I DO believe... but fine if you wish to know I will tell you," she sighed again and shrugged, getting to the point reluctantly, "what is a life anyway? We all are born, live a little while, and then we die. Everything that I know, everything that I am, seems useless. My faith has been shaken, my true house fallen, so I have nothing left. I could just return to the Lolth temple but that would mean I'd have to go against my nature and beliefs that the drow can get along with themselves as well as others. "
Yet again, Vesz’aun stopped, slowly turning back to regard her, the frown of a softer and quite the thoughtful variety this time, touched with more than a semblance of sympathy as well. He was still wary of getting soft and caring as some would call it, so he offered a simple answer, with the hopes that it would convey the things he left unsaid to her. "Well, that's a start...."
She stepped closer to look at him with his hood up, his expression was calm, but so were his eyes. That was enough for her to impart what she probably should not. "Fine,” she said at last. "I hail from Menzoberranzan. I am the heiress to the fallen third house and am the lone survivor besides Mourn and my other brother who was the house wizard. I was but a young child when the house fell; taken in by Menzo's great mercenary band and traveled with them until the leader stopped here in this city, while here he went to the Lolth temple to conduct business with the Matron. As payment for services rendered I was sold to House Zauviir for a hefty sum," she shrugged, as if her history was no big deal, but it was or else she would not have to be so secretive.
Vesz’aun was silent as she blurted it all out, and by the time she was done, there was more than a bit of surprise and wonderment evident upon his visage. Blinking a few times, trying to compose himself, he let out a small whistle, "well now, that is quite some history you've got there...Matron," though he had not resided in Menzoberranzan at the time, it had not been so long ago in history that some still did not speak of the matter. As such, he easily surmised which House she had been talking about, also easily guessing at the unspecified mercenary company. He paused a bit longer appearing very thoughtful, as he spoke he smiled some but looked completely serious, "perhaps you should place a Geas or something upon me so that I cannot reveal any of this, as it is far more in depth and secretive than I had guessed at beforehand." Never caring much for history, it eluded him about all the aspects her title carried. As she pondered in silence, he added in, "or, I suppose, you could just kill me, but I don't really want to be dead just yet."
Xull’rae tried smiling but if fell short, she lowered her head but did not slump her shoulders in an effort to conceal for full discord and unease. "I don't have the power to Geas you and no I have no desire to kill you Vesz'aun but I will if I have to," she said softly, her tone also quite serious as she continued, "the matron doesn't know of which house I resided and it best stay that way. Those at the tower do and plan to use me. We shall see if they can though, as my future is very uncertain. I walked out of the temple so I am sure that I'm a target to them now." She smirks in irony, considering the chase she’d give if it came to it. With a small snicker she resumed her trek to the inn.
Vesz’aun’s crimson orbs then widened a little further, yet another surprise finally dawning on him. "You walked out on them?" he asked incredulously. When he saw her up ahead he ran after her in confusion, wanting to know why, since she just said faith was her life and calling.
"Yes...I did…you males don't like being ridiculed by the females, well the same goes for me when I thought I'd be treated with a smidgen more better among them than the females. I guess I just didn't, and couldn't earn my place." She shrugs uncomfortably looking at her feet, afraid to look up and show the confusion that must be on her features. She didn’t feel relaxed and because of that she didn’t trust herself to look him in the face as she spoke once more, "so I'm back at the beginning, which is no where and no one but the red headed freak...unless you count me being a Lolth priestess still, which I doubt I will be for much longer. No when they find out I'll be very dead."
Thoughtfully, Vesz’aun nodded to the first part, and then scrunched his features momentarily, wary of saying it as he didn't know how she'd take to it; he finally offered something along the lines of a small attempt at a reassuring smile, "did I mention that I champion red-headed freaks as well as commoners?" after that, his face twisted in contemplation once again as he offered carefully, "I may be out of place to say such, impious as I am, but what should you care what your fellows think of you at the temple? What should matter is your own faith and beliefs in your god and his causes or whatnot." Despite it being ironic that he of all people would speak of faith, it was true enough.
Getting off the subject with a grin to comment on an earlier admission that she had not missed from him, Xull’rae asked, "hmmm...more than a pretty face am I?" her expression turned teasing suddenly only to go placid as she answered his question. "I care because even if they don't care or notice, they are my family and since I never really had one, what they think is important as it helps to shape me."
He was about to retort the point that his family life was nothing to speak of either, when a spark of wisdom managed to ignite within the recesses of his mind and he realized what she said was true. For him, the Bladesinger guild he belonged to was what he viewed as family, to some degree or another, and he realized that if they were to ostracize him, that he would feel much the same as she did. It may not be the same thing, but it’s close enough to grasp the general point. With that in mind, he clamped his mouth shut and thought a moment longer. When he did speak again, her nudged her, a boyish grin coming to play on his dark lips, "well, I could go kick the rest of them in the balls and make them apologize." He was half teasing, trying to get her to smile, but now with this new information he wanted to go hurt them for putting her through this.
Xull’rae managed a small smile and a light laugh, taking his jest for what it was, but shook her head just in case he went to cause trouble in her name, "ummmmm no...Don’t, most know you are associated with me I wouldn't want them to think wrongly of your ummmmm noble intentions."
He frowned, obviously disappointed, but she was once again right, so he nodded and agreed. "Mmm, yes, you have a point," though as Xull’rae looked at him, she could tell he didn't quite grasp it, as she meant it, but by the hint of puzzlement that washed through his eyes momentarily before his twisted reasoning settled on a quick conclusion, he said, "with that in mind, however, we should get to the Inn. Your champion I may be, but I am a hindered champion at the moment. I have no sword, wouldn't want to fail in my duties due to a small technicality such as that."
Though her hood hid her face, her voice registered surprised as she asked, "Bragh didn't fix it for you?"
Unclasping the cloak, he tossed it carelessly aside revealing himself as the bladesinger he was once more, somehow symbolic in his mind of a certain degree of redemption, as idiotic as the move may prove to be. He looked at her sideways with his insolent smirk and offhandedly offered a response, "hmm? Oh, he mentioned that he was going to do so, but that he'd require me to carry out another task for him as payment. So naturally, I told him to fuck off, that I wasn't in the mood to make any deals."
Xull’rae giggled, and said happily, "good boy," her tone was most pleased and in fact she was proud of him for that.
Not fully realizing why she praised him, but gladdened that she was pleased nonetheless, he postured himself a bit prouder of stature and made a quick assertive nod, "damn straight. Now, let’s go hit the human up for some firepower, and a stiff drink."
Xull’rae quickened her pace again as if to agree but said in passing, "I'll pass on the drink, it dulls my wits and I don't want to be so loopy so soon, I have a dreary future of madness ahead of me no need to make it come faster."
Vesz’aun took her comment as a joke, so added some teasing of his own, "well, that will just leave more in the event that madness does come in future...more alcohol to drown the madness out with, that is." He had heard tales of the Oblodra women, horrid tales, and he did not wish to make light of what lay in store for her in future, he didn’t believe them anyway but he figured now would not be a good time to darken her spirits even more by being grim about it.
Xull’rae wanted to change the subject, with so many negative thoughts it was best to not to add to it with even greater fears. So in a lighter attempt, she introduced the idea that she gave Mourn earlier, "so ever thought of becoming a patron?" her mind worked on the tasks ahead now made her felt better. Maybe there was still room for true faith still.
A rather cheerful and playful grin creased his handsome features at that point as he replied, "thought about it? Hells, I've planned out exactly how many children we'll have, and of what sexes, and which will be great warriors like their father, and which will be enigmatic figures of divine power like their mother!" as they approached the door to the inn, he followed it up with a wink.
Xull’rae laughed; the idea was looking to be better and better every time she spoke of it. Now if only both of them could stay alive to bring it bear, that would be a feat, one she was prepared to meet head on. She didn’t plan on dying, but should it arise she would be ready. That was a minor detail right now though, she had more important things to worry about and to accomplish before breathing her last.
Xull’rae went past the bouncer at the entrance without acknowledging who it was and went to the bar asking the tender there where the bald human was. She was not exactly in a hurry, but figured she better set things as quickly as possible with her "employer".
A decided frown was formed upon the tender's comely visage upon seeing Xull'rae, her mane of thick, blonde locks swaying with the movements as Brynn hastily and haphazardly waved towards the human's private deck, remaining silent otherwise 'ere darting off to serve a "real" customer. Upon looking in that direction, Xull'rae could see the human standing atop the stairwell of said deck, appearing to be in a heated debate with a certain lovely red haired alu-fiend that she has come to know and "love". Of course, due to the layers of enchantments, none of said conversation was reaching the ears of those below the deck.
"Vesz get us a table and some drinks please, I'll see if I can get Baldy's attention," Xull’rae said as she started off toward the deck stopping before stepping upon the stairwell, for once she truly did not to intrude; so shrouded and still, she waited to see if either would see her, she did have manners and from the look of things, she actually debated on leaving and speaking to the human later.
For once, Vesz’aun did not argue at being ordered around. Rather, he offered something akin to a chipper smile, accompanied by a nod, and set off to carry out his appointed task. Always one to obey the letter of the law, if not the spirit, he indeed found a table, but one that had current occupants. However, his fire-blossom would most likely not take notice as of yet that he intended to oust said current occupants.
While indeed, Xull'rae was garnered no attention for the first few moments, as it appeared the debate got even more heated...mostly by virtue of the fact that Aislynn appeared to be undaunted and was taking a more provocative approach to winning the argument, her form suddenly pushing towards the human's in a sultry manner as she undid the top of her already see through dress. The look upon her face betraying the fact that she was purring whatever words came out from between those full, pouty lips more than anything. This of course brought a scowl from the human, who just then backed down the stairwell enough that he left the area of deafening enchantments. Hence, his next guttural growl of phrasing plainly came to her keen drowic ears, "by all the damnable Hells, woman, I don't know why I bother with you at times like this. Take your whore of a self out of here now; I don't have time for this horseshit," this of course caused a few of the patrons seated closest to the stairwell to turn their gazes in their direction, though none dared linger upon the scene as the human also realized that his words echoed freely throughout the area and had turned to glare at the room as a whole. A momentary pause in his sweep of the room was taken upon seeing the drowesses form but his orbs were quickly torn elsewhere, the scowl getting even deeper, concentrating upon an area behind Xull'rae, an area from which she could hear the distinct sounds of shattering glass and more than a few snarls of protest as the ringing of blades is heard being unsheathed, but before she could even turn to investigate, Cogliostro was barking out orders, "damnation! Rengar, bring that imbecile up here! And someone clean up the mess quickly. Girls, cool down the upset patrons, let’s hurry!"
Xull’rae looked at Aisylnn while speaking to Cogliostro, "want me to kill her for you?" her tone is conversational, patient, and even polite as if what she said was the most normal thing in the world. It was a needless courtesy to rid of trouble for someone but one she could have fun in. If Cogliostro truly didn’t want the half-breed she could find uses for her. She expected no real reply, so again debated on returning later, but she stayed put for the moment, turning her hooded head at the source of the noise with no comment.
As Xull'rae finally was turned into a position in which she could see the ruckus, she caught view of Vesz'aun being hauled off backwards from some cloaked patron, whom he had been beating on by the look of it. The rest of the scene was obscured as the gargantuan form of Rael the Firbolg bouncer, whom she had passed by on the way in, stepped forward to dissuade the friends of the beaten party. While Cogliostro waved a hand towards one of the waitresses, and nodded consent that the patrons that were assaulted should be given recompense for their troubles, then he swept his oak-brown orbs in Xull'rae's direction and spoke in serious tones, "I may have you do that, but not so publicly. At any rate, you may as well join me up here. Perhaps you can keep me from killing the bladesinger, if such is your desire," he smiled at her, he couldn’t help himself, then he spun and stepped back upon the deck to once more take up his debate with the alu-fiend, harshly waving her off, though from appearances she was not moving in any such direction at the moment, and ignoring everyone but Cogliostro.
For whatever reason, Vesz'aun was no longer struggling as the diminutive duergar was dragging his form across the floor and towards the deck.
Xull’rae followed in silence, with a grace that was common for one of her rank and stature; she could guess why the bladesinger was not struggling but decided not to say anything about it, instead she sat in one of the chairs, sat back, and waited for conversation or arguing to begin.
"Oh, your obsidian slut can stay, but not me? I see how it is human...fine, I'll take my leave, have fun with your black pussy," the red headed alu-fiend shot Xull'rae a hated look, and then twisted it into an ever so mockingly sweet smile before she slapped the human hard on the buttocks, letting her hand linger long enough to offer a suggestive rub before turning to make her way off, purring at his scowling, fuming form once again. For his part, Cogliostro just shook his head and remained silent, turning away to watch the short and brawny form of Rengar drag Vesz'aun over the threshold of the deck and struggle to get the larger male drow into a chair.
Xull’rae grinned in that devilish way of hers that bespoke of incoming humiliation and pain, "well...you know what they say...drow pussy is the best out there. Nothing can compare, especially better than half creepy things that are so ugly and foreign, it has to be the tail that is so revolting. People can’t trust it to stay out of certain holes."
The demon promptly stopped in her tracks, leathery wings sprouting and flaring outward, just as the aforementioned tail formed upon her buxom backside, in unison with the forming of claws upon her otherwise pretty hands, along with the forming of small, stubby horns upon her red crown. Elongated canines were bared in the drowesses direction, and a most venomous of glares offered as the she-fiend began to advance. Though the human, apparently having had enough of the Aislynn’s bullshit took it upon himself to stop her. Not by laying a hand upon her, but rather a flaring of silvery-blue arcane energy sprang to life, engulfing the demonic female's form a moment before it was tossed across the length of the deck by some unseen force. Rather than crashing into the wall beyond, which Xull’rae now noted was already in a state of major disrepair, one of the human's trademark portals sprang to life, engulfing the missile which the alu-fiend’s body had become. Once that was done, the human shook his head one last time, cursing incoherently under his breath. Then he turned to take note that Vesz'aun was now properly seated, though not released from his seemingly paralyzed state just yet.
Xull’rae’s smile turned challenging and her eyes were live fire as the demon advanced, but it suddenly dissolved into a smirk as the creature was flung. So the drowess offered a wave for the departed as the portal winked out. She settled comfortably in a soft chair, being meticulous in smoothing the wrinkles from her cloak as she quietly waited once more. It became obvious that she was not bothered by the heavy tension gathered at the deck.
Sighing deeply, Cogliostro took up with his favorite plush chair, which was one of the few on the deck that had been put back in its proper place after the commotion that had occurred before the arrival of the drow. "And so," he began as a start to a conversation.
Rengar had not yet left the scene, one of his calloused, grey hands rubbing absently at the small bit of soft midsection which protruded from the front of his undersized leather vest, his gaze only shifting from Vesz'aun's form for a brief moment to glimpse the area in which the alu-fiend had disappeared into.
Xull’rae took the small opening Cogliostro provided to comment on the spectacle that just happened, "nice light show, but you're slow, you should have done that to her sooner...but it nice nonetheless."
"Mm, the reason I have not done so already is that this sort of thing merely turns her on more," Cogliostro said honestly with a small tight smile accompanying his response.
Xull’rae realized that Cogliostro truly and honestly did not like the demon’s advances and wondered why. Aisylnn was beautiful as were all succubus breeds, half or not. He certainly looked at herself lewdly many times and not all in jest. Perhaps he was just prejudice against demons of all types. She didn’t really care, but it was odd all the same. Seeing him, she noticed he looked stressed and more than a little tired around the eyes. Resisting the urge to display her thorny humor, all she said was, "I'm guessing this is not a good day for you then."
Cogliostro asked sarcastically, "what EVER would give you that idea...?" He grumbled something aloud but it was incoherent, then his face softened and he sighed yet again, "forgive me, just a tad stressful around here today."
Xull’rae shrugged. She understood. She too had a bad day today, but if he couldn’t be civil, she would just to throw him off, so she said, "then you should have let me deal with her. I deal with her true kind often enough and they are worse."
She had a motive, he knew it, knew it in his gut. But what was it? He couldn’t figure it out; he was too distracted and stressed to delve into her drow intrigue right now. What he needed was a stiff drink and some relaxation, but those must wait. He nodded with a small soft smile as he said, "mm, a good point, and perhaps I will at that. But it can wait. I'm sure there is another reason you have come. And you," pointing to the bladesinger, "I will have him release you, but not one protest or complaint about what just occurred. Now is NOT the time to fuck with me, got it?"
Xull’rae rolled her amber eyes and said dryly, "you know the reason...so lets get on with it shall we? I know you scry I'm not stupid."
The mental paralysis was released long enough for Vesz'aun to scowl deeply, and to nod his acceptance of the terms. He almost broke them as soon as he became master of his own body once again, his lithely muscled form tensing and nearly turning to attack the duergar, but wisdom made its mark upon him again, and he merely turned back to face the others, slumped in his chair, and he crossed his arms across his chest in with a small humph. The scowl never left his visage, but he did remain silent enough.
When he was satisfied the bladesinger would be silent, Cogliostro responded to Xull’rae, "mm, yes, I scry when I have the opportunity to do so, but as I've been rather busy, and I’m not entirely sure where things stand with you at the moment. I take it you are still planning to extricate yourself from the Tower for the time being?"
Xull’rae replied smartly, "I'm here and not there...so take a guess."
Once more, a deep frown settled upon Cogliostro’s countenance as he tried to be as nice as he could. Irritation was unable to be hidden however, as he said, "look, let’s try not to piss each other off even more right now by being snide." When she looked agreeable, he continued by asking, "now, have you had enough time to think about this rationally yet?"
She nodded, much to his dismay and said, "yeah, now I've come to pay you for my room...if you wish my services anymore you will pay me for them until things come to a more clearer focus for me."
All Cogliostro said in regards to her proclamation was, "mm," he paused a moment, gazing at her with a mixture of contemplation and perhaps a tad of frustration. After a small silence, he agreed and said, "very well. Name your price and it will be yours. If you need time to think on it, let my associate," he jerks a leather-clad thumb towards the second office which sets off to the opposite side of the deck from his own, "...know and she will take care of it. I will be leaving soon, and I do not know when I will be returning. However, I already know that I need your services."
Xull’rae nodded. Her whole demeanor had shifted from casual to professional as she gave her terms, "well then, if that true then I'm here to help, but in return you are to give the dear mage Bragh at the Tower a surprise of your choosing, as I cannot, I still have reasons for not harming him. You will do this before I go back into your employ understand?"
At hearing her request, or terms rather, a single brow arched in mixed surprise and question. He could understand the desire easily enough, but had not really expected that to come from her at this moment. He paused, allowing it to settle into place and for his thoughts to contemplate the matter.
Vesz’aun watched this exchange in dutiful silence, but he could not help but worry. The scowl finally faded, replaced by a grim smile brought about by the thought of the human leaving them and turned more gleeful when he heard that Bragh was going to be harmed. He knew Xull’rae’s surprises and they were never nice. A bad day was suddenly becoming better, that he let slide the true exchange was that his fire-blossom would continue working for the bastard.
Finally, Cogliostro let the look of surprise fall from his visage and he nodded, not quite able to hide the traces of satisfied smile which began to form on his lips. Apparently, he had no love for the Master Emeritus of creation at the Tower either, and had desired to do just such a thing already. Now he had a reason. He accepted Xull’rae’s proposal, "it will be done before the night is through."
Xull’rae bit back a sigh, lest the human realize that she let him off easy. She still honored his pact with Vhaeraun. She could have broken it off, but felt the need to remain faithful. She still didn’t know their deal, but it was not really her concern. She had a problem with the clergy not her god. Giving a nod to affirm their renewed "contract", she clarified it by saying, "then I will need details of the services you require so that I may prepare." If she smiled, it was not known for it was hidden by her hood, but her tone never changed pitch from the business-like tone. To her, this was life, a deal exchanged for another. So she was not concerned or happy that the Drow Mage was now in peril. Vhaeraun allowed treachery but this was just a little revenge. If Cogliostro actually slipped, the blame would be his and she would get two for the price of one. A very big if but a delightful thought all the same.
"Of course," Cogliostro said as one of his gloved hands reached out and dusted off the table, even though there was no such element upon its surface. Then he slowly waved the hand in a circular pattern and traces of minimal arcane magics began permeating the air as a set of images began to take form, springing to life in the wake of his hand's passing. There were six such images, all varying in specifics, though all seemed to be of a particular and similar variety nonetheless. "Commit these images to memory, you too Bladesinger," Cogliostro said to them both, then explained further, "at any rate, I am seeking the medallions which correspond to the images. One such may have been located, and had I the time, I would go investigate the matter myself. However, I have even more pressing matters at hand, so I am employing you...and whomever else you choose to take along...to find out if any one of these is present at the location in question. You are not to actually retrieve the item, and in fact you can not. But, if one exists, then it will be your job to secure the area, and have confirmation sent back here to the Inn."
Xull’rae studied each image intently, looking at every possible intricate detail before she spoke, "I desire to take no one but Vesz'aun, if you do not think we can do it on our own, then hire others, but it shall be done. Though it is strange you don't want it retrieved, but I won't question it."
Cogliostro answered her unspoken question with a rueful smile, "mm, its not a question of my not wanting it retrieved. As I said you are unable to retrieve it, by virtue of its nature. That applies to any of the medallions. And it’s not a fault of your part. I myself cannot actually retrieve them. But as you implied, you have no need to know any more specifics than that," he winked at her to show his need for discrepancy without being smart to her for a change.
Xull’rae looked at the images again carefully. They looked like animals, but none she had ever seen before except the snake one. She heard him and did not become a pest. Doing her best to smother her curiosity, she asked more helpful questions, "where have these things been spotted or one of them as you said...a general area or somewhere specific?"
Cogliostro thought upon that same point a moment longer, though he knew why in his own case. But he did not know why it couldn't be done in the case of a certain gaily painted man. Then a look of surprised realization dawned upon his features, and he spoke aloud to himself, forgetting the others were present at the moment. "I'll be damned...he can't sense them, at least not from afar. Must be a ‘fail-safe,’" nodding at his theory, it was then that it dawned on him that he had spoken it aloud in mixed company, and he let out a small cough, trying to pass it off as inconsequential and continued quickly, "at any rate, it’s a specific location." He paused a moment, thinking, when a small frown settled upon his features as he then resignedly opened the top most restraints upon his jacket, reaching inside to pull something out, a small, silver chain pulled over his head a moment later. His hand was held in front of him for a moment, as he regarded that which lay within, and then he set the chain upon the table's surface, revealing the small, odd shaped silver amulet which rested upon its length. It was three-dimensional with miniscule blue-white gems set within it. Another heartbeat of contemplation, and he pushed the amulet towards Xull'rae. When she looked him in the face he decided to explain, "I had wished the Malaugrym would be around to carry out the transportation, I have not seen him around, and have no way to contact him right now. As such, you can use this device to get your small party to the location."
"As to why they can't be retrieved..? It makes sense," Xull’rae offered to his aloud thoughts. She was of course just taking a guess to such a puzzle. She shrugged going silent, as she listened and watched him. Then she looked at what he offered with surprise. It also mirrored her tone, "I see. These medallions must be very important for you to trust me so with a pretty gem encrusted thing so as this." Her hand came out of the folds of her piwafwi to receive it.
"Mm, important to a certain clientele, yes," Cogliostro said carefully. A pause had been taken 'ere he answered, hesitance in answering plain, debating whether to let her know just how important. He finally settled on a half truth, figuring he had no choice right now.
Xull’rae sighed, "so secretive," she said at length and then without warning she slipped a jab in, "I understand...but I have a suspicion that all this is over a woman...why? It is because men do drastic and sometimes stupid things for the notice or acceptance of the female. That I know is true everywhere, not just down here."
Cogliostro merely frowned deeper in response for the first few moments, and then he said, "most clients do wish a certain degree of secrecy in dealings like these, yes." He purposely avoided the part about the female, but Xull'rae would be sure to know her assumption correct all the same. He spoke again before he lapsed, "at any rate, the location has been keyed into its ‘memory’. All you need do is to mentally convey your desire to go to such location when ready, and it will take you there." There, he gave another pause, then he continued, "the amulet has other uses and it would be best if you did not delve into finding out what those are. It is for your own protection, of course." It was not a lie, but it was as much for his own as for hers. He had given her something far more powerful and "destructive" if used in certain aspects than he wished to, but the situation warranted haste, and as such he would take his chances that she wouldn't abuse the amulet's powers.
Xull’rae shook her covered head and went about putting the amulet on and then hiding it behind the folds of her cloak. She then responded dryly to Cogliostro’s warning, "yeah yeah I know the drill it's for your protection not mine and if I snooped, you'd be forced to harm me in some way...I know."
"Mm...Perhaps," Cogliostro said softly. The frown didn't soften any at the prospect. He decided to clarify something, "but I am honest in so much as it could harm you in certain circumstances." He went on to say more, "at any rate--"
But Vesz’aun cut him off, "so, this is all well and good, human, but if I am to partake in this mission, wouldn't it be best if you had just fixed my blade? I mean, what good will I be? A bladesinger without a blade just doesn't add up somehow....So that leaves me as what, a singer?" He was somber of manner as if he were truly worried about his part in this mission.
"Well you do have a nice voice Vesz'aun," piped in Xull’rae with a wink.
A glare is offered to her, then it faded and a grim, almost humored smile etched itself upon Vesz’aun’s features as he responded to her, "well, yes, that's a given, but all the same, a little steel wouldn't hurt...."
"Then I'll give you a little steel," announced Cogliostro as he undid the remaining clasps upon his deep maroon jacket. Underneath revealed his brawny, hairless, olive-hued chest beneath. His right hand reached behind the breast of the jacket, and a highly reflective, silvered dagger was produced, and summarily and off-handedly embedded deep into the table's surface. The movement was repeated twice more 'ere he began to clasp his jacket once more, producing a total of three identical blades, "there, a little steel," Cogliostro said again, urging the bladesinger to take them.
"Well...you could use my dagger, it's decent...not a thinblade but it's something...I can use the human’s daggers," Xull’rae offered to Vesz’aun. Anything to make this go as smooth as possible she was willing to do.
"No," Cogliostro said firmly and then repeated, "he will use the steel I have provided him," giving a pointed glance to the drowess at that moment, his tone not allowing argument and he wasn't quite sure if she would know why he refused to let her aid the bladesinger in such a manner or not.
"Eh, they are a bit, mmm, short for me to be Bladesinging with," Vesz’aun pointed out, slightly irritated.
"You were a thief long before you were a bladesinger, correct? And were you not able to survive well enough with the mere daggers you possessed back then?" Cogliostro asked Vesz’aun.
"Well, yeah, but all the same...." Vesz’aun protested.
Xull’rae nodded, not fully understanding the mage’s hidden meaning, but got the gist of it. "I'm just hired help, so whatever, that’s between you and him," she shrugged, confused yes but not really admitting it or caring all the same.
A return nod was offered to Xull'rae, then Cogliostro’s gaze turned back to Vesz'aun and he said, "all the same, you will use them, and you will not complain about the subject any further, at least not in my presence. If it helps, think of this as an opportunity for you to recover some long neglected skill. You are too dependent on your vaunted Blade. That strength of yours becomes a weakness, when you come to rely on it and it alone as much as you have. So, consider this my favor to you." It wasn’t hypocritical, he and Xull’rae had favored weapons and both he and her had other weapons they used constantly. What he wasn’t saying was Bragh could have tainted the blade and therefore corrupt Vesz’aun so it wasn’t really a favor for him as much as it was for the red headed drowess, since she lost the fight to reclaim the blade for the bladesinger.
"Gee, thanks," Vesz’aun said ungratefully. A scowl was offered, though a half-hearted one, along with a shrug as he slowly took the daggers to hand, placing the first in his recently emptied sheathe, and the second two were used to replace the more mundane ones which resided in his boots.
"So I guess we are ready?" asked Xull’rae. Her hooded head looked from the drow to the human, standing slowly. She was eager to get a start, an urge to keep busy and not think of the yearning she felt within her soul. Her resolve must not break, she was determined to figure things out on her own and not fall prey to what was taught to her.
"Mm, my suggestion is that you think over the matter for a bit and rest before departing. It would not hurt to wait until morning, and as the locale is underground, you have no concerns which the surface may offer to deal with." When Xull’rae waved and began walking away, he said loudly and more quickly before she had a chance to get out of earshot, "gather some supplies of food and water at the very least, and consider taking some more cannon fodder along, as you may need a small force to hold the area a few days."
Xull’rae never stopped as she shrugged though she did grace him with a response, "fodder are a waste and a nuisance, but again if you think we need some, I'm sure Vesz can recruit them, as for food, supplies and such...that’s what this place is for. Sleep on other hand is not a bad idea after a bath and massage, which I'm sure, is available here as well."
"Mm, very well," was all Cogliostro could say while another frown creased his ageless countenance, but after a moment he added in reluctance, "if I absolutely must, I will relinquish the draegloth's items over to you, though I daresay I am very wary of doing so."
Now that was a pleasant surprise, but she did not let it show as all she said was, "and with good reason...I understand that, he doesn't like you."
"True enough," Cogliostro admitted, then said, "but it is not my welfare that I question in this case. I for one am still uncertain as to whether or not he will truly follow your command when push comes to shove. And as he is more than capable of slaughtering the two of you without the items, I am loathing making it even easier for him." When Xull’rae stopped and slow turned around, Cogliostro realized how his words sounded and hastily made known his intent, "that is not meant to demean your skills in any way, shape, or form, by the way...he is simply that powerful. I myself had to use underhanded means in order to safely rein him in the first time, and I am admittedly unwilling to expend all the resources it would take to face him in proper battle and win."
Xull’rae did not say that the creature was already showing signs of loyalty and has a drive to restore their house, not to mention the same like-mind to harm Cogliostro. Instead she hid parts of the truth through the expected latch of arrogance, "well no, not that easy...I'm more skilled than he is in certain areas...and in that area I should remind him of mother, so it should keep him at bay if I must use it."
He felt like sighing in defeat, but seeing Vesz’aun taunt and still made him nod that at least one of them had sense to fear the creature. Xull’rae’s position was a tough one, so he respected her strength of character and let the matter go, "mm, yes, a good point. At any rate, I will inform my associate that she is to relinquish the items to you, should you have want of them in the morning."
Cogliostro’s genuine concern for her was confusing. When she worked for him before, he acted like she was expendable and now that she had more choices she wasn’t? It had to be work related anything otherwise would be revolting but could have its uses. She nods and says, "very well."
"Now," his form slowly rises from the table, "I must take my leave, whilst I go, hm, pay Master T'orgh a visit, I will make it a point to dissuade the remainder of the Tower's inhabitants from bothering you whilst you take your, hm, leave of absence. We both know the measures they may take against you, but fret not over the matter too much. You have my backing in the situation, and as such you have the backing of all the agents in my employ. There is, of course, a plant within the Tower itself, who will keep the others informed should any offensive be planned against your person. In such a case, the others here will take care of it. Though it never hurts for you to remain cautious, as I know you will."
By the gods he was such a windbag! She could take care of herself. His interference would be what killed her. Though hearing there was an agent of his on the Tower undercover didn’t escape her or the fact his lackeys were prepared to back her at his command. True they could do the exact opposite, but the gesture clearly showed his interest for her well being and now it was beginning to intrigue her. However instead of voicing her displeasure she turned the conversation in a completely different direction. "Oh...yes, not what I say matters...it is just a suggestion really...but if indeed this mission and further ones are to help a woman whom you know and or care for, it is ok to say so. You humans are not swerved like we drow are in the matters of what you call love. Either way, if such is the case I'd get rid of the fiend witch if I were you...it's obvious she doesn’t like women of any type and if you are going so far as to hire drow to help this person, then you are drastic. This means you know the threat she could pose to the person you are trying to protect and help...besides if you do love this person and they feel the same...they will not understand why you deal with the demon."
Here he was offering advice that he never expected her to throw some back on such a different subject that it slammed him off guard, "Mm," for various reasons, confusion of his own on the scope of his relationship with said woman amongst them, as well as a wariness to admit such, he formulated no true answer to Xull'rae’s musings despite them being so close to the actual truth, though he did offer up a sad, somewhat grim, and most genuinely thankful and friendly smile all wrapped up into one, which he hoped would convey his true appreciation of her words.
A sudden, somewhat puzzled glance had been given to Xull'rae, though for what exact reason none could be sure, perhaps not even Vesz’aun himself. His ebony lips had parted, as if he were about to comment or retort, perhaps, but then he thought of the night's earlier events, and conversations, and he thought better of it. He'd done enough damage tonight, why take the chance that he would do so again, especially after making some sort of headway towards fixing the rift which had been created. He did however take silent mental note of that which Xull'rae had said, amongst all the other points of conversation that had come up with the human.
Cogliostro cleared throat to break the small awkward silence and said gruffly, "in any event, if it should come about that I do not return, I wish it known that I have found our rather brief time together most intriguing...in a good way, for the most part," a short pause, then he added in, as he knew she were drow, and would probably think nothing of his vaguely emotional parting, "on a more practical note, my associate has been given various instructions on what resources should be granted to each of you for your overall recompense of services thus far. And she has been instructed to give the lot of you whatever continued aid she is able to, for so long as you wish it. Or at least for so long as this enterprise survives after my fall."
Xull’rae snickered, finding his awkwardness entertaining. She quipped at him, her voice full of humor, "some dire straights you are going into then Baldy...now I know it's definitely over a woman...I hope for your sake she is worth it...in any case knowing you...you are too much of a prick bastard to die and will return to frustrate me and my kind as if you never had left." She was no fool, she knew he was serious, but she also knew it was too easy to just hope he was right and not return, so instead of ending their "maybe" last meeting in a bad way, she decided to let the sap have a nice one so she could hook him again if one day she really would need him as a trump card.
"Mm, I for one hope that is the case," again he avoided the topic of the female in question, an amused, thin-lipped smile creasing his visage despite the grim undertones he couldn't completely hide, which were brought about by the levity of his upcoming situation. He parted with, "sweet water and light laughter to you both." He gave a respectful inclination of his head was offered 'ere he turned to go, the slight mockery of using an elven greeting actually being meant wholeheartedly all the same. With that, his form retreated to the ruination that was his office, leaving them to their thoughts, Rengar silently making his way after the human as well.
Despite himself, or perhaps because he was one of the rare drow who understood certain surface race concepts and emotions to a degree, Vesz’aun did not mock the human, and in fact he managed to return the polite inclination, even though his scowl barely faded in the process.
Xull’rae frowned behind her hood but her tone couldn’t hide her disapproval as she mumbled it, "I always hated that expression. Stupid elves don't know there is no sweet water here and light laughter...if there is it's because you are dying and someone is ‘happy’ over it..."
Vesz’aun now stood, allowing his crimson gaze to follow the human before turning to face Xull’rae, "well now...shall we take up that drink before retreating for the night?" asked Vesz’aun while motioning towards the stairwell leading downward.
She gestured for him to go first while she followed him, "I'll pass on the drink as I prefer a bath and a bed instead to help sort my thoughts...I don't like this confusion...if it continues to distract me I'll die before I understand what’s going on."
Vesz’aun turned to look over his bare shoulder, "you'll get used to it, believe me, I know," he remarked, not exactly in a bitter tone, but enough resignation held within the words to portray he did not like the fact that he was in a constant state of confusion, one born of his mix of emotions brought upon by Xull'rae herself. He grinned and winked then, as he added in, "and yes, I think I'll go arrange us a bath...." He said it in jest, trying to be off-handed in manner to such a degree that maybe it would slip by her and she would agree. His expectance was etched plainly upon his features even if he didn't realize it.
Xull’rae sighed and realized with slight annoyance that she could not deny such a face in her moment need. "Very well," she said at last, giving him permission to get started, "but make sure it's hot, I hate lukewarm old water...and make it smell nice," she added in. She had to accept his presence even if she did not want it, to deny him now would tear the fragile threads of trust and attention they gave each other. Vesz’aun had many uses that she would need later. If they parted ways badly now, she would have to kill him, such was the drow courtship.
The true intricacies of why she accepted were largely lost on him, though one could not say he didn't care about the why of it. He just wouldn't allow himself to dwell on the matter at this time, for if he did, he would think better of taking up the opportunity, as he had no rational desire to be played, per se, or to simply be "settled for." So he simply nodded and hastened forward, traces of a shit eating grin erupting on his features.
Xull’rae was barely noticed his devilish smile, still wrapped up in her own thoughts. She was not entirely loathe to the idea of him actually joining her in the bath if she got a massage out of it, but she wasn't sure she wanted the bladesinger knowing she was a untouched by any other, new, a virgin. She wasn’t even sure if she wanted him to be her first. Down the stairs she went, to find out.