Chapter 1: Meetings and Acquaintances----Page 4

They were led out of the Bazaar, in a southerly direction, turning towards the eastern wall after some ten solid minutes of walking amongst the myriad of winding streets upon the ground level of the cavern. From what they could gather, when the twin towers which comprise the most visible aspect of the Vengeful Weave Inn came to view, they were not overly far from the Darkwoods district, wherein the vaunted Tower of the Masked Mage was hidden.

From this angle, all they could see of the Inn were the aforementioned towers, which were several stories tall and dotted with windows, and the middling sized wall which surrounded the remainder of said establishment, concealing the lower echelons from view. However, they could see more levels of windows dotting the outer wall of the city, which stood some fifty feet or so behind the towers. When they approached the main foyer, which rested between the towers, connecting the actually, the bustle of many customers came to their ears, people of all races coming to and fro.

The foyer was done in some semblance of niceties, though when they came to rest finally within one of the main floor's taverns, the decor was of a much simpler variety. The room was rather sizable, able to hold at least ten score of patrons, though not quite that many were present at the moment. From what could be viewed, the ceiling of this particular area stood some two stories above them, with a large deck being situated on the second floor, open to view, to their left.

Below said deck was what appeared to be a well guarded, and very busy, gambling hall of sorts. After a short pause, wherein the human stopped to speak with a charcoal gray skinned duergar of nondescript manner, the small part was led up a small set of stone stairs, coming to rest upon the sizable deck that had been mentioned. From their roost, all could see that another similarly sized tavern room sat on the far side, though this one was done in far finer decor, the patrons within looking to be of a more distinguished sort as well.

Taking a seat upon one of the large tables set upon said deck, the human then motioned for them to join him, whilst beckoning for a waitress with his free hand.

Drazoul went to where the human was seated and started to speak, "nice place you have here crazy man perhaps you be so kind to give us a tour of the place after?"He then took a seat in a rather comfortable looking plus chair directly across from the human's.

With suspicion in his blue eyes, Horock follows the man and sits down beside the disguised yuan-ti. After the waitress comes, he asks for a drink, the strongest the house has. He was just too curious to be really too suspicious about what was going on. However, he did not lower his guard, and stayed put, surveying the area around him.

Xull'rae stood near the table not taking a seat, where she came from could not be figured out as it only seemed she came from the opposite direction, she still remained hooded but she retracted the piwafwi to show her crossed arms and short sword sheathed at her side. The rest of her was still hidden enough that a sex couldn't be determined.

"Mm, perhaps, if ye ever prove your worth, you will be given the grand tour...and no harm will come to you here, Saer Horock. You have my assurances,"replied Cogliostro. There was no hint of mockery or insincerity in his tone as he spoke.

Turning to glimpse upon the drowess, he began to speak then though it would be a worthless cause, so he simply took note of her stance, and waved the waitress, a female human that was fair of skin and hair, off to get their drinks. "Now, what exactly is it you wish to know? I will answer to the best of my ability, and within the limits I see fit." There were no others seated upon the raised deck, so they were largely alone, and able to speak unfettered by eavesdropping. "Fret not, nothing we say will be overhead by those below, such are the enchantments bound to the area." He looked upon each of them awaiting their many questions he was sure they each had.

Xull'rae was the first to speak, "Why choose the Masked One you must know his portfolio, and despite a deal made, treachery will have its hand in things even if small."

"Mm, aye, treachery will most assuredly be a part. However, what other drow deity would you have me choose? Lolth is simply out of the question, as we all know what her and her drow are like. I would get no cooperation whatsoever. And the Dark Maiden is too full of joy and happiness for my liking, and further she is not the type of drow I wish to study, and no use even mentioning the remainder of the pantheon, all nutcases and zealots. So, that leaves me with the one who has some semblance of a brain within his skull, and one willing to deal with my kind, your, hm, vaunted lord, Vhaeraun."

Drazoul merely grinned at the human and interrupted, "if I prove my worth then people will have a reason to seek my head, as for questions what the hell is this? Explain what you want from Horock and more so if you did not kill me what do you want from me?"

Xull'rae interrupted right back, irritation clear in her tone, "so studying us is the cause of all this...?"

As he sat there and listened to what the others where saying, Horock thought back to the day that he met Cogliostro and waited for Xull'rae to be finished with her questions before he dare to speak. "When I first bumped into you, and you threatened to kill me," he said chuckling, "You told me that I would be 'working for you'. I want to know what this entails, what I am going to get, who I am going to piss off, and so on and so forth." He sat there with his arms crossed, waiting for a reply, also, pissed at the idea of an outsider studying' the faith.

Cogliostro smiled; calm in fact, as he expected them to ramble and bombarded each other, he just hoped no tempers flew in the process. He first responded to the Drowess knowing her to be the object of his study..and one of the more important members of this 'team', "Mm, no, not the cause of it all, though that is the case in part."

He spins now to address the Halfblood, "and I have no want for either of you to be here. You were thrust on me by virtue of Vhaeraun's church, if you do not recall." His expression was as dark as his tone.

Now, he turns to listen to the drow male, and simply allows a polite smile to creep upon his visage before answering, "simple. You will do what I say, when I say, to whom I say. The reward for such duties will be based upon your usefulness during said tasks, and the amount of cooperation you provide me." Cogliostro continued as he saw their affronted expressions except of course the woman's, but he wasn't worried in the least, he just kept on in a tone that did not barter for interruption. "And this compact was agreed upon by your Lord, so take not offense at my studies, lest you raise His ire."

Drazoul grins all the more at the human as he finished speaking and added a comment of his own on the matter, "then both you and I have something in common human. I was thrust on you by virtue of Horock and you got us both!" the disguised yuan-ti then grinned at Horock and spoke again, "nothing personal old friend but it is true."

Drinks were then laid upon the table, a tall glass for each, the liquid being a completely clear and colorless one. A simple nod was given to the Halfblood in reply.

Xull'rae snickers, mirth in her tone but so was authority, "fine..fine cooperation you will have from me when and if I see the benefits to do so not when you say and to whom.."

"That is all well and good," Horock snapped, "but what 'kind' of jobs are we going to be given. I do not mind killing people, IF IT HAS A PURPOSE. However, it had better either benefit me, or my God. I will be more then happy to help, if it benefits the masked one. However, do something to hurt the Masked One, and you WILL regret it, human." He meant it and only hoped his voice reflected his intent. He looked at Xull'rae warily, he wonders what she is going to say next.

Again, Cogliostro offers up a forced, polite smile. "You and I have discussed this matter already, drowess. If I find continued disobedience, I will take the matter up personally with your Lord. One way or another, I will get my desired cooperation. And you…" Turning now to face the drow male. "Every task I will set before you has a purpose, even if you have not the wisdom to discern it. As for whom it benefits, well, this entire deal benefits your Church, and that is the only compact I have to fulfill in order to reap the benefits of your labor. As for you personally benefiting, there is no such agreement, though if you serve me well, I will indeed take it upon myself to add in the bonus. Since you have not gotten it through your skull thus far, you have no choice in this matter, lest you wish to leave Vhaeraun's clergy. And please, do not deign to threaten me, I've had enough amusement for one day, my sides are beginning to hurt from all the laughter I've held in check."

In vehement retort Xull'rae replied, her voice holding contempt and venom, "and one way or the other I'll do it MY way not yours so get used to it…there are loop holds to everything and what you say and how I do it may be different but the result will be the same or similar!

Cogliostro was undaunted by the Drowesses outburst, but nonetheless smiled as if pleased that she dared to back talk him and endanger herself as well as her position within the church. Mm, yes, I was informed you would be a difficult little sprite, drowess." A slight shrugging is then offered to her. So long as the end result is the same, I care not how ye carry the task about.

Horock however was fuming, and he did little to hide that fact. "Fine, you have my cooperation, as it stands, it would appear you have given me little or no choice. I also agree with her. The things you want me to do will get done, but maybe not the exact way you want them to be done. I however cannot speak for my companion. If he so desires it, he may stay with us and continue to help me." He looked at Drazoul, and he hoped that he would stay. He trusted the yuan-ti more then he trusted most people. On top of it all, he was a useful companion, and great in any fight.

The yuan-ti however sighs in reluctance and irritation and talks to the human, "well since Horock has agreed to join up I will to..." He had no wish to leave his companion in the dangerous Underdark and he did owe his life to the hot tempered drow more than once, but he truly was loathe to work with the human as little more than a slave.

A simple nod is offered to them both, as his glass of water is taken to his lips, and imbibed in one, long draught.

Xull'rae frowned at the disguised yuan-ti but from beyond the hood, and what people couldn't see behind the hood they could hear it in her voice, and it was dripping with disdain. "Well if it stays it better know its place down here and fast…he is not of the church therefore I will kill him if I wish."

"Also," Cogliostro says absently as in afterthought, "keep in mind there is nothing stating that I am to reimburse you for your services. If you do well, I will take it upon myself to pay you...then again, if ye become a thorn in my side, well, I need not say such things aloud,"those words meant for the Halfblood, he then turns to agree with the drowess, "exactly!"

Despite her greedy nature, Xull'rae's fanaticism came first as she said, "any benefits to the church are enough for me human, the feeling conveyed was honesty, a rare thing and unusual in a Drow. "Save your money on me…I've been 'paid' for already."

Horock nodded in agreement but he did not feel entirely the way Xull'rae did as he added his thoughts on the matter, "I would say that I would also be happy, as long as the faith gets most of the proceeds from this endeavor. However, if I can get something form it as well, that would be GREAT." In truth, he really did want some of the booty that would be gotten, but, he also wanted the faith to benefit the most. He knew that the Masked One would see to it that he did not get cheated, so great was his faith.

Drazoul stared at the drowess for a moment and debated on something, finally he said, "I will follow your protocol drowess I have no quarrel with you."

"See that you do disguised one because I have no conscience when it comes to eliminating those that I think have no value or purpose.." Xull'rae replied slowly in serious and quiet tone.

Cogliostro simply sat in silence whilst they conversed, taking in all that was said, and reading between the lines as well.

Xull'rae interrupted the mages thoughts by turning the conversation back to him. "So what is the other part you mentioned as to why you made a pact with the The Shadow…other than studying us?"

"Hm, other parts, actually...and I'm not at liberty to say at the moment. When the time is right, more information will be revealed." He smiled, which made Xull'rae sigh in annoyance.

Horock scoffed, "hmmm. Okay human. Keep your secrets. Do you have a job for us? I am getting very bored of just hanging out in this dismal city. I am ready to serve the Masked One." He said this to hopefully help placate the human, and to make sure that he fully understood what was going on.

Cogliostro chuckled, "Mm, serving the Mask One has not much with the tasks I would have you do, so if boredom overtakes you, talk to your church hierarchy, I will summon you when you are needed, however the stables are in need of cleaning, if you are truly bored.

"Fine..." Xull'rae said slowly, hiding irritation as she continued, "so why show up at the Bazaar? And don't tell me all of us there was a coincidence cause I'm not stupid nor gullible…don't be snide either.."

"Who's being snide?" Cogliostro feigns mild shock, "and no, twas not a coincidence, to be sure." Again the bald man smiled mysteriously.

"So, in other words, you don't have anything ready for us yet? You are the worst planner of this kind of stuff that I have seen in my entire life, and trust me, I have seen the worst type of expedition leaders, military leaders, and every other type of leader that there is. I just hope you have something for us to do soon, and don't be a fool. I am NOT dumb like you probably think I am. So, please, if you want us to do something, just tell us, right now!!"

The mysterious and now amused smile never left the bald human's face as he looked at the drow male. "Yes, your family was known for its poor leadership ability, so I can see how you would be familiar with it. That aside, why ever would you think that I have a task for you at this time? I've not even come to know much about the lot of you yet, so how would I wisely employ you in any undertakings? Get not the wrong impressions of why we are speaking this day. You are only at my disposal when I see the need, and when your church has no need of you. And not once during our conversation today have I stated anything to the point of my needing you currently."

"So answer my Question then…" Xull'rae said softly still reigning in the urge to snap.

"Curiosity for the most part. Cogliostro shrugged. "And, to gauge what I could about you all...a little at a time, I will learn all I need to about the lot of ye. And of course, the lot of you has been tested repeatedly today."

Xull'rae replied in contempt unable to hold it back any longer, "sorry but you'll never figure me out…just what slips out and what I let you see…and I don't slip very often…"

Cogliostro simply keeps that smile going and nods to the drowess, the smile a most knowing one this time.

"Besides I'm a woman, you're a ma…well, a male and you have never, since the dawn of time figured us of the other sex out yet," Xull'rae continued now haughty and confident.

"Tested?! Why and how?!" Horock shouted angrily. He was very irritated about being "tested". He didn't like not knowing when he was being tested either.

Cogliostro winked at the drowesses words, "Mm, quite true, that I cannot argue." At Horock's outburst, he raised an eyebrow, as if the man should know, "Why... should be self-obvious, Saer Horock...and how should it come to ye upon reflection of the days events.

Horock chuckles to himself at Xull’rae’s words, trying to calm himself down in the process.

Cogliostro continues, "Now, since it seems to upset you so much, Saer Horock, I shall tell you that most tests had been passed, though by a narrow margin in most cases."

Xull'rae having enough of the "discussion" starts going down the stairs, intending on leaving. "Well, I will be going…since I'm not 'needed' I have prayer to catch up on."

"Mm, take your imbeciles with you, please. The third will be arriving soon…" He now sounded irritated himself as all this bantering was finally getting to him, however he felt no need to explain what he meant by that to the drowess.

"not mine Rivven they are yours…my duties to the recruit are done for the day…" She kept on going not looking back, pleased to hear some irk come out of him if nothing else.

"No, no, they are yours...only mine by virtue of them being yours!" Now he sounded pleading but for those looking at him the irritating and knowing smile was still present.

"Okay..." Horock glares and growls at the human. "Fine, play your little games. Just know that I am not a dog to be called on whenever you so please." He looks at Xull'rae's cloaked form, wondering if she is truly going to leave him here. He wouldn't have cared, it was just that he didn't know his way around the city as of yet, and he wanted to be sure that he could get back to the relative safety of the tower. After all, there was a price on his head, and he didn't want to lose it. So he quickly followed her.

"Oh, but you are," that broad smile is offered to Horock as he called after the all but running male. "You became said dog the day you gave part of your free will up in order to serve Vhaeraun. Such is the price of faith."

"No sorry I refuse to baby sit them as of now…" Xull'rae sounded regal and bored. She looked at Horock behind her. Her eyes were cold yet beautiful; they almost glowed like burnished gold. "He should know his way to the temple...if not he will learn.."

"So long as they leave my establishment, I care not if you slack in your duties as their caretaker, drowess," came Cogliostro's distant but well heard reply. In which Xull'rae whirled on Horock and was so close to him he could feel her warm breath on his skin and see her face clearly even though the hood was up, she was angry but was still so beautiful, it made his breath catch it his throat and he tried to pay attention to her words.

"Rule of thumb twit, thieves care for themselves first…others second…I'm not slacking in anything… Do you understand? The Shadow Sorcerer said to teach you…lessons end for the day. Got it?"

Tired of all of this shit, Horock stalks away from her more from dizziness than in anger, though he was upset at being treated so lowly, he didn't turn to look at her or shout. Fine, I will find the way back to the temple, but if this is another one of your "tests" human, I would like to tell you that I am very pissed off right now, I pity whomever gets in my way." As he moves further toward the exit, he keeps an eye on his back. He knows that going out into the streets he will be in danger, but it was a risk he was willing to take if it would help prove himself to his teacher.

"He also said that the young cleric is fully under your command and, if anything happens to your imbecile, it is your pretty little ass on the line, not mine." Cogliostro reminded Xull’rae, he too coming down the stairs, Drazoul in tow. A slight shrug is offered to her and then shakes his head at the angry Horock. "Tsk tsk, one really should know how to contain their anger...a sign of weakness, that." It seemed to fall on deaf ears as no retort was given.

"Not really," Xull'rae replied to the human in a matter of fact tone, "if he can't find a place of sanctuary on his own after being shown it…he is a terrible thief and Vhaeraun has no need of such… he has to learn and in the Underdark…even here he has to learn without being led…if he can't then let him die."

Smiling politely to the drowess, Cogliostro answers, "like I said, what you do with him and for him is your own business. The matter has nothing to do with myself. Now, go make such proclamations to those who care, like the Shadow Sorcerer." Still wearing a mocking smile, he makes a small shooing motion in her direction.

Drazoul having heard all of this, finally speaks up, " I have no intention of going with them to pray I suppose I shall stay, Horock if you need my dagger just say." He made no attempts to defend his friend.

"Hm, if ye are to stay, pull out your coin purse, for it will not be a free ride." Cogliostro responded and then continued, "lodging, drinks, food, and women are available. Men too, seeing as that would seem more your style." Glancing at the leaving Horock with a chuckle.

Xull'rae hearing the comment, smiles beyond the hood but couldn't resist jabbing at the human with her own personal wit. "Go hump a tableleg you gay ass windbag!" She spoke it in high Drow as she slipped around the corner and disappeared.

"Hm, mayhaps I will at that, Drowess" Cogliostro answered back in that same language, seeming quite fluent in that as well, though tinged with a human accent, of course.

Before walking out the Inn Horock shouts in response to Drazoul in a friendly manner, "If you so desire Draz, I would of course welcome your company!"

The disguised Yuan-ti nods at Horock, then glares at the human for making such a comment but before he loses his cool he decides to play it out, "how much?" Stopping at the door suddenly Horock turns around and says to Drazoul, "well, if you want, stay here. I am going to have to make it back to the tower. However, I think I would be remiss if I did not say that men seem more to YOUR liking, human, than that of the rest of the people here." He motioned Drazoul to follow if he so desired, he spoke in High Drow as well. "Come Draz. You and I can have some fun wandering the city and bothering people,"smiling, he stepped out the door and into the darkness.

Drazoul grinned at his friend’s invitation. "Never could turn down a day of good mischievous!" He then grinned at the human, "tell me the prices later!" said, as he was rushing out into the streets beyond.

"Well, in my defense, I did state the drowess has a cute ass..." Cogliostro muttered to himself, again, that mocking smile is offered up to no one now. "And yes, that would be such a wise thing to do whilst hiding out, bother as many as you can, draw attention, that's the gods, this group is doomed.." He sighed shaking his head and went to the bar to drown himself in liquor, though he couldn't get drunk…but he could partake of the newest gossip being passed around.

They would all be back soon enough.


Though not technically grouped at the moment, three of Cogliostro's newly dubbed "minions" found themselves passing near his inn at roughly the same time of the "morning". All three were held largely in check by virtue of a large mass of people suddenly gathered in the street surrounding the area. There seemed to be no sort of alarm or panic to the crowd, but the sight was odd nonetheless. Half the people were simply milling about, rather than trying to progress to some varied destination.

No matter where the drowess, Horock, or Drazoul wished to travel, it appeared they would have to push through said throngs, or find an alternate means of transport. For the moment, none of the aforementioned mob appeared to be paying any of them the least bit of attention.

A large frown found its way onto Drazoul's disguised face. He stared at the people nearest to him, then to the large mass as a whole. "There goes our ride," he said in a grim voice.

"Hmmm," Horock says looking at the mass of people. "Kind of looks like fun though. Who knows? Maybe there is some trouble to start here, if we don't get caught. What do you say Draz?"

Drazoul's face turns upwards from it's momentarily downwards pose, "Why not? I don't have any plans." Something then catches his eye…a cloaked figure moving through the masses. He nudges Horock and nods toward it. "Suppose we won't have time for mischief yet."

Xull'rae was the cloaked figure approaching the masses away from the two companions, intending to get through in order to see what was going on and to get to the temple. Skillfully zig-zagging through the throng without pushing or being rude, slowly making her way near the front to get a good view, as she was short for a female. She of course didn't go to the very front, but rather lingered behind some folks to blend in despite being cloaked from head to foot.

Horock frowned catching sight of the figure that he could only assume was the drow female. "No, I suppose we don't. Really, such a beautiful woman, don't you think so Draz?" He sighs in admiration and then shakes his head chasing away the thought, "I just honestly at times wonder what really crawled up her ass and died. She is even more drow then most people of 'our' race. I wonder if she really has something bad in her past to be pissed off about, similar to me..." He thought this simply as idle curiosity. He had no intentions of a romantic relationship. He just wondered what made her so angry all of the time.

Drazoul just grumbles a response trying not to think of the pretty Drowess. "I prefer people of my 'type' if you get my drift Horock. Your 'type' might be interesting to study in a book but that's as far as I'm taking it."

As the males idled in conversation, and the female made her way slowly but surely through the crowd, it was Horock who came to the realization first, that someone, or something...several, rather...were making small, blurred movements within the gathered mob. The drowess had not really discerned more than such movements within her peripheral vision at the moment, though she got a sort of odd feeling which eluded Drazoul for the time being. Drazoul, as such, was more or less caught up in his conversation, not taking any great notice of what transpired.

Nothing flashy today, the Malaugrym simply found himself a small distance from the scene at hand, stepping into this plane from the abundant amount of shadows cast by various lightning and what not, his deep crimson oculars swinging over the crowd, momentarily, mere slits forming, where orbs once blazed brightly. He discerned the situation with relative ease, what with his arcane knowledge. He shambled forward, straight for the trio he had left behind not only a day or two ago.

"Draz, I think something is in the crowd, or several something’s. I am not sure what at this time, but Xull is in there. Do you see them?" Horock taps his companions shoulder and indicates the direction where he saw the "blurs".

"There! You see? Vague movements of darkness in the crowds? I don't know what to make of them..." Horock immediately became easy but more on his guard as well.

Xull'rae turned her head slightly, catching something from the corner of her eye and sense as a priestess. At that moment though she did not move to investigate but instead continued on as if she felt nothing and made sure to secure a spot within the crowd, staying casual and relaxed, but that was a front as a drow she was prepared for surprises.

Drazoul's hands made that intricate but unsuspecting movement which allowed two specially crafted daggers to come to his hands. He spoke to Horock in a loud enough voice so that anything approaching them might hear and be tricked even though he would be ready to flick his wrist sending a dagger biting into the throat of an enemy. "Horock of course something is in the crowd... all these people are!" the disguised Yuan-ti let out a merry laugh to hide his true intent.

Far above, twin pools of oak-brown curiously peered down upon the scene from within the Inn's confines, though that curiosity was shown to hold some apprehension, the latter betrayed by the small frown settled upon that ageless visage. No matter the outcome of this situation, he would merely observe. Their fates were in their own hands. It appeared that the testing would be continued.

Hmm, thought Horock. I know I can clear this area out, but do I dare do it? He looked at Drazoul, knowing his friend would know exactly what he was thinking and he hoped he would give him some advice.

The feeling of oddity that had come over the drowess waxed and waned a few more times, accompanying the swift blurs of darkness, which now appeared to be weaving towards the Inn...or her companions situated there.

A stark white brow arched momentarily as the malaugrym's attention slid across the crowd again, as if searching for something within. Pinpointing the various levels of power, and catching how the lesser were heading for the two Drow males in question. He would give that a little more confidence in dealing with that minor problem; he was more intent on the one on the other side of the crowd. On that note, his feet lifted from the ground and above the crowd, casually flying the distance with that all so favorable natural ability.

Drazoul then sees his friends distress and starts to walk off like a drunk behind his friend and into any shadows that might be near them.

Those on the dais could now track enough movements within the crowd to ascertain that which the drowess had just realized a heartbeat earlier. The two males would be forced to march into the throngs, or return to the Inn's confines.

"And I thought.... Shit!" Horock said out loud. "They are coming this way. Let’s get into the crowd, NOW!" He heads into the crowd, hand on his long sword, ready for anything.

Though nothing was visible to the malaugrym's vision at the current moment, he could rest assured that whatever lay across the crowd now had its own gaze upon his flying form.

Still acting innocent Drazoul turns to Horock. "Are you mad, what are you talking about?" He starts to follow Horock but making it seem like he was worried more for his sanity than his warning of danger.

A few of those who idled closer to the Inn turned towards the sound of Horock's overly loud declaration, a slight tad of confusion on their faces.

Xull'rae frowned trying to shake the feeling or act on it, concentrating on staying within the crowd and not letting curiosity or paranoia get the better of her. She did spot the drow mage in the air though and the acolyte's shout with a sigh of irritation.

Horock looked around at some of the people looking at him, his hand on his sword hilts. "What are you all looking at?" he asked, paranoia clearly showing on his almost handsome face. Shaking their heads slightly, the crowd pulled its attention from the two males, and if one was astute enough of an observer, they could tell there was a glassy, distant tint in those red drow orbs.

"please Horock," Drazoul said in a distressed voice, "calm down there's nothing here you're acting crazy!" he hoped his friend would understand the game he was playing with him.

As Horock looked at some of the people, he noticed the strange tint in their eyes. Whispering to his friend, he says, "These people are not right. I don't know what is wrong with them, but something is not right. They didn't even react to me just now the way that they should. Something isn't right here..."

Xull'rae was growing increasingly edgy. Her skin was crawling with bad vibes, but she again forced herself not to explode and become murderous. So she decided to go with the "flow" and act as one of the crowd, going still as a puppet on strings and her eyes blank just in case one got close enough to look in them.

Drazoul took the risk and walked over to one of the figures that his friend warned him about his grip on the dagger ever so tight that his ebony knuckles turned gray.

Addressing the closest person he says, "please sir you must help my friend?" He received no reply though.

"Hey, Xull!" Came a rich voice amongst the crowd. One that made Xull'rae visibly flinch as she heard the familiar and annoying Bladesinger call her name. He came onto the scene at the most inopportune of times, as usual, that voice which grates the drowess' nerves oh so terribly echo's across the crowd, causing some of the glassy eyed stares to turn in the direction of the flying malaugrym, and the cloaked Power which hides just on the fringes. As none other than the aerial borne malaugrym could possible catch sight of the handsome half clad Vesz'aun at this point. One has to wonder how he managed to pick Xull'rae out of the crowd.

The disguised Malaugrym spoke aloud, knowing whatever it was, had its attention upon his hovering form. "You enjoy hiding I see." He was all the way on the other side of the crowd now, not that he had any qualms with causing casualties. Arm outstretched and fingers splay wide. He had a good thing going for him there, till the bladesinger arrived and actually managed to break his train of thought, if only for a split second.

His gaze shifting, from the said Drow male, back to the power source, grumbling to himself, beneath his breath, the moment was pretty much lost. "As I was saying, do us all a favor and show yourself, or.. You can die where you stand." Yeah, he might look pretty insane, seeing as how the Singer was next to the hidden object of his words, but it probably looked like he was ready to start a serious fire-fight with the male.

It took everything Xull'rae had not to snap out and break her poise, she just hoped, no matter how meager that emotion was, 'hope' was what was making her stay as she was and that something would divert this situation. She felt relief when it was the flying mage that delivered it.

When Drazoul had approached one of the blurred shadows, when he asked the crowd to help Horock, it quickly dodged to the side, seemingly ignoring him, in order to make it's way towards Horock...and as Horock now found himself being closed in on all sides by the shadowy movements, it would be safe to gather that whatever they were, they were after him. Drazoul too could figure that out easily enough, as he and Horock had not been separated by any great distance.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the street, there was a visible wavering of the air, glimpses of a vaguely humanoid form, surrounded by misty shadows, coming to the naked eye for a heartbeat, towering some two dozen hands over the unsuspecting bladesinger. Palpable, infernal power, tinged with something else that only the malaugrym, of those gathered, would recognized, emanated from the being, the multiple, glowing blue slivers adorning what would be the face glaring ruefully, yet warily, at the levitating Malaugrym, perhaps trying to assess the danger present by said finger-splaying wizard.

Understanding Horock was in great peril Drazoul decided to wait for Horock to start the inevitable fight. He zero'd in on the second closet figure figuring Horock would take the first. He was aiming for a shot with his eyes.

Horock finally decides that he is done with playing around and draws his long sword at the shapes. "Fine, you want a piece of me? Bring it." He attacks the nearest shadow.

Always one to misconstrue a situation, Vesz'aun gazed around momentarily in confusion, as he too felt the looming presence behind him, but knew not what it was, getting distracted rather by the drow floating above. An angered scowl comes to rest upon his rather handsome visage as he yells out to the disguised malaugrym. "What in the bloody hells are you talking about? I'm not hidden, you half-wit, I'm standing right here. Now come down and fight like a Drow, if ya know how...." As if expecting some sort of fight, his slender digitized hands fell to his waist, one resting upon the hilt of his ornate silver Thinblade, the other dipping into the largest of his belt pouches.

Xull'rae however, bided her time for now, in eerie calm, paranoia and irritation slid off her skin like water, as she watched the looming figure behind Vesz'aun, before trying to access the entire situation at hand, pin pointing the confrontation with the other two as well. She had a duty to keep Horock alive, but for now she waited to see if he had any skill at all to fight and survive before she would even jump in the fray.

"I'm the half-wit?" the disguised Malaugrym sounded incredulous and angry. "Take a look behind you..." There was a lingering sigh rolling from in-between slightly parted tiers now. His hand instead rose to casually run over the front of his face, lengthy digits covering handsome visage momentarily, he looked at the towering being and simply offered a shrug of lean shoulders. Yeah, he was going to help take care of the creature, but since the male arrived, he would remain in his position to see how he'd do.

A hint of amusement was visibly set across his features, probably the only one having fun with this, but then again, this was what his race was all about.

The shadowed blurs took on a vaguely humanoid shape as well, upon closing in on their prey. As such, Horock had some recognizable anatomy to strike out at, and indeed his blade felt some small resistance as it cleaved through what seemed an almost liquidly form, an open "wound" visible as the blade made its cut, though the shadows seemed to congeal around said wound immediately afterward. The creature "stumbled" slightly, if one could call it that, then came to pause completely, along with the others, as a deep, unearthly voice began to rumble across the street's expanse...which was perhaps a lucky coincidence for Drazoul, as when he made an attempt to slide his blade into a shadow beings back, there came no sense of resistance, nor damage imparted.

Blinking in unison, the orbs of the towering, half visible form lurking behind Vesz'aun regarded the off handed manners of the airborne malaugrym a moment longer, then its Infernal voice issued forth, intended for said malaugrym's ears, though any in the immediate area would surely overhear. There seemed to be some evident measure of respect and fear held within, though much resolve as well. "I know of has been a long time since your name has come to any real mention amongst our homelands. There is no quarrel between us, so I would wish to carry out my task and be on my way, without confrontation on your part."

Vesz'aun still dumbfounded and angry was unaware of the danger scoffed at the malaugrym. "Wha..? Yeah, right, like I'm gonna..." He figured the floating wizard was bluffing him, the dim witted Bladesinger began to retort, only to be overpowered by the rumblings from that Infernal beast of Shadow. Turning abruptly, one would expect to see fear amongst those myriad of emotions that played upon his visage, yet somehow that particular vintage of emotion never got the chance to bloom.

Momentary awe, followed by a deepened, frustrated anger creased his obsidian, drowic visage, as his twin pools of crimson shot back to the floating wizard after a few heartbeats of regard had been given to the Shadow demon. "Hm, so can't fight your own battles, huh? Have to summon a lil' pet to do your dirty work? This thing doesn’t scare me!"the handsome Drow was now very unimpressed and insulting. "it's all fluff I'm sure, probably just an illusion that you regularly use to make those not of my caliber piss their pants...hah!" Puffing his chest out, Vesz'aun turns to face said daemon of darkness, offering it a little wave of dismissal, talking in a most dry tone. "Blah blah blah, in the name of my mighty, holy manhood, begone." When it had not disappeared, and his hand suddenly made contact with eerily cold and numbing flesh of sorts, he could not help but frown in consternation. "hmmm....."

Horock looks up at the thing also unimpressed. "Oh, so you are the one that wants a piece of me, huh? Well, if you really want to dance, let’s do it." He knows he always has something he can do if he has to but, he doesn't want to if he can at all help it. He will do whatever he needed to stay alive, but he would not back down from what was happening.

Xull'rae saw the idiot Vesz'aun and growled low in frustration. She attempted to save his life without moving. Vesz'aun...this is your… um…conscience speaking…you need to go to the inn…and in the common room...Xull'rae is there and she needs you to help…don't think just go.. It was very rare she used her inborn gift of mind speech much less on Vesz'aun...for the most part she really never used them and knew the bladesinger didn't know that part about her, so she hoped he'd buy her "suggestion" All the while though she stayed where she was, not moving at all.

Those who watched saw the malaugrym begin to hover a little lower, and move forward several feet, keeping approximately eye-level with the creature. "What might that task be? I too, have my own plans.." His teeth were starting to grit though, more or less at the Bladesinger's presence, and the arrogant way he carried himself. He made an idle point to the said male, and muttered. "He not being part of them…" More or less a hint, not really caring what the creature did to Vesz'aun. With that done, he set his full attention on the shadowy being, who seemed to know him.

Drazoul, meanwhile attacks again with his other arm holding another dagger. Hoping for some sort of better result but more so just to keep them off him for the time being.

For the moment, nothing more than a blink, perhaps of confusion mixed with humored curiosity was offered to the insolent bladesinger, and though the shadowy brute replied now to the malaugrym, its multiple faceted gazes fell to the other drow male who had addressed its person. That rough cacophony of a voice issuing forth once again. "There is a compact I must fulfill, concerning that one, and his companion." He was, of course, referring to Horock and Drazoul.

Like last time Drazoul's attack had no more effect on the humanoid patch of darkness than the last, though the creature made no response of any kind. For the moment, the dozen or so shadowmen seemed to be in a stasis of sorts.

Vesz'aun, still a bit off kilter by virtue of the fact the illusionary being hadn't disappeared yet, and that it continued to speak, he became even more confused when his "conscience" seemed to suddenly spring to life. Not one to hear voices in his head on a regular basis, Xull'rae’s actions caused him to pause even more rather than spring him to action, a mild, dazed look upon his sharply featured countenance, the goings-on around him largely forgotten. "Hm, odd how my conscience sounds like Xull...gotta be some deeper meaning hidden there...."

Drazoul turned towards the demon then and spoke to him abandoning his attacks. "What do you want with me and Horock?" There came no response to Drazoul's words, the being turning its gaze back to the malaugrym's current form, as if it did not count them as worthy of being spoken to.

"What is your concern with those two?" under any circumstance, he wouldn't care; however, he knew them to be companions of Xull'rae. One he was to observe and watch over, and with this, the others that'd follow in her lead. A minor look of disdain set across his features, awaiting a reply from the demon.

The one with Horock was almost as idiotic as the bladesinger, to Xull'rae's line of thinking. It was obvious the demon was here to capture or more than likely kill them but she kept silent and just observed like a certain bald human was doing from the balcony of the inn.

"In all due respect, Exalted, I cannot dally with this question and answer foray. It takes an incredible amount of power to cloak these proceedings from the city's Magocracy..." Came the reply of the Shadow Demon, it too now held some hint of annoyance in its tone, whilst addressing the malaugrym. "My business should not be a concern of yours, as surely these insignificant fleas would not be worthy of your personal concerns." The demon continued this time his tone much more respectful, careful not to anger the mage.

"If that be the case, you should know this." The Malaugrym's crimson orbs squint to mere slits. "They are under my protection till my accomplishments here are realized. I will NOT have you, or anyone stopping me from my goals!" One might think Szordrin was starting to grow a little angry.

"So I offer you two suggestions, leave now, and return once I am through here, or stay, and continue eating away at my patience. The choice is yours."

Before the Shadow Demon could reply, Horock realizes that he can change into his other form without the magocracy knowing about it, he begins to change into a gigantic red dragon, as Drazoul has seem him do so many times in the past. Turning toward the big shadow thing, he growls in draconic "Now ya wanna go, bitch? Let’s dance." He attacks the shadow thing while it is distracted using his forearm claws and his bite attacks, hoping to do as much damage to the abomination as quickly as possible.

Drazoul would have been in awe of his friend but he was preoccupied as he feels a slight, soft humming of energy within those blades resting in his hands, so faint that he perhaps would question that it occurred, save for the dim, blue luminescence which now emitted from them. The disguised Yuan-ti stares at his blades in amazement and then shakes his head snapping out of his daze. "Well best not question my fate, lest I die where I stand!" He whirls around and plunges one of his daggers into one of the shadow creatures and attempts to hit another one with his now glowing daggers.

Xull'rae now was on the verge of laughing, this whole scene was quite amusing, she had to step away from her standing point as things were progressing quite rapidly and rather large as Horock showed his true self. Still she made no move to help or said anything. Being enigmatic at times, took it upon herself to perch upon an on cropping of rocks not too far from the scene and had herself a seat "indian" style to watch the entertainment.

That moment became a blur of chaotic rhythms...indeed the shadow demon had been caught more than a bit off guard, for though it had known of Horock's ability to shift forms, it had not anticipated the drow shapeshifter having the gall to do such a thing in these environs. As Horock's first claw swooped in towards the creature, it appeared that the Malaugrym had been momentarily caught off guard as well, for whether it was intentional or not, Horock's gargantuan, scaled arm knocked into the Malaugrym, sending said creature of Shadow hurtling wildly through the air.

Szordrin's teeth grit as he was sent hurling toward the rocky cavernous wall. And while he was just slammed aside by the draconic figure, he didn't appear all that hurt. Both arms shot outwards, using his natural ability to fly to stop himself mere feet from impact, those crimson orbs were little more then slits as he made a slow, in-air turn to face what seemed to have the nerve, even after he provoked no attack. A deep breath was taken, not that it helped his now soured mood, he didn't make any decisive action just yet, he was all about letting the war rage and picking off whom he liked, when he wanted.

Upon making contact with the shadow demon's "flesh", a numbing cold swiftly crept up through Horock's claws, with a feeling of weakness also befalling his oversized, draconic form. The second claw attack was a bit feebler of aim due to this fact, though it too managed to make contact with the demon, sending the thing stumbling to its feet, trying to maintain some sort of balance. In the process, Vesz'aun was nearly trampled, by virtue of the first few moments; he made no move to leave the area, and enthralled by the fact a dragon was present. The Bladesinger seemed to snap out of it just and dodge deftly away from the battle, just as Horock's jaws came to clamp down upon the off-kilter demon. And indeed they did, the numbing cold nearly causing Horock's vision to fade completely this time, the feeling of temporary weakness nearly overpowering. The throngs of drow citizens on the street directly below were starting to rouse from their sorcerous state of thrall, some already emitting startled cries and curses.

In the midst of that throng, Drazoul's attack had indeed made solid contact with its target this time, the shadowy humanoid emitting a screech of sorts 'ere it dissipated from view, assumed to be destroyed. Despite the wounds suffered by the main shadow demon, it appeared to be formulating some sort of spell to no doubt retaliate against its draconic quarry.

Drazoul starts to estimate the range it will take to send one of his glowing daggers straight for the eye of the demon, but the creature dodged it. Cursing Drazoul tries another tactic, he sees his friend’s trouble and though he would have preferred to interrogate the demon while it was surprised at the sight of the Horock that element might not last long since Horock might not last long. He hurled two of his glowing blades in rapid succession hoping they would hit a vital spot but not counting on it. Knowing the creature was quick.

Oh my how amusing this is! Xull'rae thought, and it became duly noted of Horock's known abilities. Of which she tucked away in her keen mind for later use. What a pawn he could make, though if he kept this up, not a subtle one. She giggled as the mage got knocked back clapping her hands upon hearing the demon muttering the beginnings of a spell, cheering for more thought not extremely loud.

In order to negate the spell that was assuredly coming at him, Horock begins to look for a space to perch. Carefully moving around, he makes sure that his tail is not going hit anything as he slightly hovers into the air.

As soon as he saw a good place to be, he perched there, checking to make sure that no one would be in the range of a blast should he decide to use some of his dragon fire on the creature.

Laughing now Xull'rae stands, figuring it is now time to step in. She carefully disguised her voice from sounding feminine. "Pardon the intrusion of this lovely show but for the sake of the city and it's rules, there is no fighting is allowed on these streets unless you want the entire Conclave here, which that I hear is a no no, and it is my gathering that the dragon is a follower of Vhaeraun. I believe that's the god's name, anyway. That’s an ally of Shar’s, I think, so choose wisely on how this is going to turn out..."

The Shadow Demon roared in response and in growling words responds, "Dead or alive were the terms given me, whelp, so I mind not killing you!" Its huge tendrils of pitch black lifted above its head and arcane energy sprouted upon its being and snaked their way quickly towards Horock's seemingly fleeing form, a few actually managing to grab hold of the dragon's body in various places just as it came to roost. Again, numbing cold began to seep into Horock's form, weakening him further, slowly draining his very life force.

Then came from its mouthless visage a slight cry of surprise and annoyance, perhaps even a tinge of further pain within, its attention distracted momentarily, its multi-orbed gaze falling to the floor, where a certain bladesinger was now repeatedly puncturing the ankle area of its right leg with that trademark elven thinblade. This distraction served well on the side of luck for Drazoul as well, to some degree at least.

Having bent its head forward and down, one of the daggers had plunged deep within one of those softly glowing, deep blue eyes and another embedded in it's cheek from Drazoul's second attack, a slight cry of annoyance and pain rumbled through the cavern. And though it did not offer the drowess any form of response, it would appear that the demon had heard her words and perhaps heeded them to a degree, as its gaze then swept the area, taking in the fact that most of the citizen's it had in thrall were now self-aware once more.

Cursing quite audibly, it retracted those shadowy tendrils from Horock's form, whilst swatting off handily at the Bladesinger, missing by a long shot. This was also Drazoul's saving grace, as those lesser shadow beings were recalled just as they were about to sweep upon Drazoul en masse, all of them floating upward to meld with the main demon's body, perhaps even healing the creature to a degree. Once more, its voice grated forth. "Another time, whelp." Its gaze then fell quickly upon the distant malaugrym, quite the disapproving glare held within that look, though no words were offered as it began to formulate the magic's to return from whence it came.

"Can't say I didn't warn you…but such is the way of underlings I suppose…always follow orders like a dimwitted dog at the cost of their lives…must be a sad and trivial life.." Xull'rae mused to herself. Her shrouded form not mocking, calm and cool like water.

It didn't take much to put a few bits of information together, simply by what the shadow creature spoke, this must have been one of the two he mentioned before, and since the other was still down there, it left only one conclusion to the Malaugrym's mind, which would be brought up at a later date. His orbs burned deeply, locked with the demon that appeared to be fleeing. A stark white brow popped upwards, he doubted this would be the last time he saw the creature, and made note to trace the signals of magic his transportation spell would leave behind. "I'll be seeing you… soon.." His words carefully spoken, and only then there was a hint of smile curling at the very corner of his tiers, whether or not he meant anything by it, the being would surely know in due time.

As soon as the shadow creature was gone, Horock hopped down from his spot and changed back into his drow form. Looking around at everybody, he says "What the hell was that?!"

Xull'rae turned to the dragon, now drow her voice still gruff like a males. "As for you...please stay in that smaller form before you crush those on the street…and pray to Shar or whatever deity you really do serve that I do not report this matter!"

Now did the demon proceed to disappear, its escape unbarred by those present. Vesz'aun was no where to be seen.

As soon as Horock heard Xull'rae's words, he began to come out of his stupor from the shadow demon's spell. As soon as he realized that the demon was gone, he realized how much damage he had done. As he looks around, he asks everyone in the vicinity, "What are you looking at?!" and sulks back into the tavern, looking for Colie. He for some reason knew that it was from Cogliostro, and he was pissed off as hell.

Interrupt the Bard -or- let her continue