Chapter 2: The Web Begins To Weave -- Page 2
LOG 16

Each one had been visited by the bald-crowned human during the predawn hours, after the fiasco at the Web of The Spider Queen. No one of the group got much sleep before they were ushered off through a simple portal when ready. All save the Malaugrym, but the human figured that said creature would know when and where to meet the others if it so desired.

As of now, the collective whole stood in the midst of a vast, rolling plain, with tall, wispy grasses billowing all about them. The wind was rather chill, with dew still fresh on the willowy blades of brownish hue. As far as the eye could see, there was nothing but gently rolling hills of that very same grass, though one with exceptional sight could perhaps view the makings of a mountain range along the horizon to the north.

Accompanying them this day was the male who had been magically subdued the afternoon before, the Bladesinger known in these parts as Vesz'aun. Though the compulsions had been lifted, he was thus far rather quiet, one could only hope it would stay that way.

Drazoul stared in awe at all that was around him. Never had he ever seen such a place he only heard stories of the surface and he was rather impressed it was a far more scenic place compared to the dull caverns of the Underdark. He took care to remember every sight, sound and smell he felt.

Xull'rae studied her surroundings with sharp calculating eyes, a little and refined hand pushed back strands of red hair from her face as the breeze caught hold of it, she had been to the surface a few times and needless to say she was not impressed. Her beautiful face showed a frown of dislike as she put her piwafwi on to block some of the chill as the wind caused a draft her very bare legs, the cloak blew up but still covered the very outstanding white spider tattoo on her upper left thigh.

Horock, like Drazoul stared around in awe around him. How could such a place exist? Only in the deepest and darkest of his thoughts had he ever imagined such a place. Looking at Drazoul, he could tell that he was just as shocked as he was. As he looked at Xull'rae however, he could tell she was not impressed. He started to say something, but stopped. The breeze felt so cool and light. He enjoyed it and wanted to enjoy the moment instead of arguing with her. What must it be like to live up here all the time? He wondered. His dragon side began to take hold, and he longed to fly free in the winds, dodging the trees, the clouds, the birds, instead of those stalactites and stalagmites of the Underdark. As he continued to look around, he became angry, knowing that he could never be free and live up here. He knew that as long as he had the death mark on him, he could never truly be free. So, he was just content to stare and to feel the wind on his face for as long as possible before they had to complete their dangerous mission.

Groggily, Vesz'aun's gaze wandered, note taken that the hated sun would soon rise over the horizon, taking away the precious dull gray tone to everything. Then, his twin pools of crimson fell upon the others, and he had to blink in disbelief a few times. Shaking off his astonishment at their stupefied stares, he also reigned in the compulsion to slap them. Instead, that gaze came to rest upon the drowess for a moment, though he let no hint of any emotion crease his features at this point. Sighing inwardly, he then cleared his throat loudly, and took a few steps forward, shifting his dully illuminated orbs skyward, seeming to peer intently. "We need to go up....

"Well then…up we shall go." Xull'rae, too looked up with her amber colored eyes, peering at what was to be their supposed destination, "if idiot and twit would stop gawking at the landscape like it was a naked woman we could get on with it. Or I can go back underground and go back to bed, telling my superiors that my charge could not take the sun and the snake shed his skin." Xull'rae gave the others an obvious look after speaking.

Finally regaining his composure, Horock asks, "and how do you propose we do that, Oh Great One?" Looking at Vesz'aun with annoyance on his face. He was not being rude, only just a little sarcastic. He just ignored Xull'rae's other remarks, knowing it was her character to act like that. He was having a good day thus far, and did not want to ruin it by getting pissed so early.

Drazoul just turned towards the direction the drowess and drow were heading and started to walk.

"Ye climb or levitate oh slow one," was Xull'rae's equally sarcastic reply, her eyes narrowing on Horock in warning not to start things with the other drow male. She didn’t suggest his draconic form, as she was not knowledgeable on it. If he had limited transformations, she’d rather use them for the battle ahead. Besides the enemy could spot a large red dragon coming their way and it would spoil a surprise advantage. Teleport would be better, but no one amongst them could cast it. So with nothing else to do, Xull’rae planned on following her own advice as soon as searched a good place to start.

"How in the Abyss am I supposed to know that? I'm just the hired firepower, not the resident finger-waggler." Vesz'aun too was a tad sarcastic, but not so much as usual, his orbs still searching the muted cloudscape for any sign of the floating fortress.

"Speaking of finger wagglier, the Shadowed One should be here already or will be shortly, he wanted to speak to the demon we are after so lets just wait for him to arrive or you can help scout the area for him Vesz'aun." Xull'rae suggested, as she started heading in a random direction, intent on finding something suitable to start climbing on.

"Mm, I'm not the scout either, least not out in this." Vesz'aun responded as he swats at some of the wet grasses which dampened their forms on a constant basis. "This, whatever it is. Least there aren't any damnable trees with pig-sticking Elves around here." He muttered in disgust.

Xull'rae shrugged. "Fine I will go alone. The rest of you stay put and try to find some cover from the upcoming sun, those that are drow anyway." She headed north now, looking up at the sky, trying to spot the Fortress.

Horock thought about the idea that had just come to his head, tested it for weaknesses, and decided to consult Drazoul on the idea. "Hey, Draz, come on over here. I would like a word with you."

The Yuan-ti turned towards Horock and walked towards his direction. He would have much rather enjoyed to watch the sun but he supposed it would only anger his volatile companions since they were all drow. "How can I help Horock?"

Horock looked a little unsure but asked anyway, "I would like to ask you what you would think about me changing forms and looking for this floating city. I would be able to cover more ground, and I could even probably carry you all on my back once I found the place. So what do you think?" He hoped that he would get a favorable response.

The air was indeed cool. However the coming of the Shaded One brought a stiff breeze to flow throughout the area, bone-chilling would be one way to describe it. Tendrils of shadow lifting from the ground, entwining and lashing till eventually it all came together to form the disguised malaugrym. His drowish figure and those coal-crimson orbs taking a moment to peer over those gathered, not that his scrying orb didn't tell him enough already, he muttered, "It appears I'm a bit late, though if my presence is all it takes to keep the group moving, then so be it." He made an idle swing of his arm in the general direction they needed to head, a chosen staff of tenebrous hue was tugged forth from what would appear to be a dimensional pocket, leaving him otherwise waiting afterwards. Even his deep purple robes ruffled in this wind.

Xull'rae stopped, looking at the shadow creature with irritation. "Yeah yeah, a girl, a mage, it makes no difference they all have some excuse for being late. Ya entered just like I knew you would." She moved in the direction in which his arm swung without a look to the others. Xull'rae wrapped her piwafwi tighter around her, it was the only indication that she had felt the chill in the air at the Malaugrym's arrival.

Drazoul kept a smile suppressed. Quietly he was pleased at least someone here was not as dull as the stones of the Underdark. "I wouldn't mind an overview of this place but it's their call not mine."

Vesz'aun too took notice of the malaugrym's entrance, a soft scowl creasing that ebony visage as his gaze swept in said direction, one of his twin wineskins being lifted to lips as he regarded the Shadowed One, a long draught taken. "So this is the finger-wagglier?" He asked in no one particular.

Xull'rae's moving form should be the answer to the bladesinger's question as the "finger wagglier" pointed them in a direction, she never stopped, now muttering to herself.

Drazoul decided it would be better just to follow for the moment he signaled for Horock to follow. Horock sees the others begin to walk off, and decided that the ability should be kept in reserve, he begins to follow after them, looking for the quarry that threatens his life and livelihood once again.

Shrugging, in his usual manner of not wanting anyone to think they have gotten the better or him, or that he feels anyone is superior, Vesz'aun nonchalantly wanders off after Xull'rae.

What else can be done? Plenty, but the malaugrym choose to walk a little ways behind the group, keeping up with the pace the leader set. He saw Drazoul hurriedly join the group, so that must mean Horock was behind him. He was surprised that Xull’rae was not the one bringing up the rear, figuring her to be the most suspicious, but apparently she was not as paranoid as he thought. He took mental notes on the way she took charge and smiled at her direct approach. She was indeed turning out to be an interesting study.

"So, Mage, any good way to enter? And please, TRY not to be snide, coy, or clueless, because if you want my cooperation I don't want my time wasted so just get us in. Okay? I'm in no mood to be here or help, but I am, so any thing to get us inside soon would be very good for limited patience and growing irritation." Xull'rae said in a matter of fact tone, looking over her shoulder to gaze at the disguised shadow creature.

Very direct, without a hint of fear, the drowess was certainly one to keep an eye on. He replied to her evenly, granting her request to get to the point quickly. "Yes, yes... One moment..." Szordrin’s eyes turn upwards at the sight above them, his entire frame seemingly frozen in place, unmoving except for the occasional gust of wind, sending his articles of clothing to waver. In truth, he was formulating a counterspell of sorts to take care of the minor warding surrounding the small castle, though those not so magically inclined would only hear a few gibbering phrases from his person, nothing overly fancy happened, but it left a hole in the defenses, his attentions shifting to those around him. "Gather close, our next stop will be up."

Horock nodded, anxious to get a real move on, "sounds good to me," he calls from the rear of the little group. "I just want to kill this thing and get it over with, AFTER I find out who it was working for."

Xull'rae stepped forward swiftly, eager it seemed to get this task over with as well. The remaining others followed her.

The malaugrym muttered a few arcane incantations underneath his breath, the world around them becoming a sudden blur, only to reform in a completely different area. Their once dim world is suddenly and irrevocably thrown fully into one of utter, brilliant daylight, or at least a magical version of such. Those who are overly sensitive would indeed be blinded for a lengthy moment, to be sure. For those who could adjust faster, they find themselves now in a three story tall chamber, seemingly a hall, perhaps a throne room of sorts by virtue of a single, gigantic, ornate chair being situated on a raised dais at the northernmost end.

Though no beings come to sight, there are indeed sounds of slithering movement all around, coming from the shaded recesses along the walls, and perhaps the ceiling as well.

Some dozen globes, floating at varying heights within the circumference of the chamber are the source of that hated light. In the domain of a creature of shade, one would find this a most odd occurrence, then again, perhaps the perfect trap, laid for other creatures of shadow and darkness. Of their specific quarry, no visible trace could be found, though one able to "sense" such beings could tell that the shadowy demon was indeed present in the chamber at some junction.

Looking around, Horock narrows his eyes and tries to see more in this room. For some reason, he became afraid, though rationally, he had no reason to be. He knew he was with powerful friends who will help him. As he continued to look around, he slowly moves away from the group, trying to get a better view of the place.

Drazoul didn't like the feel to the room and started the arcane gestures that would obscure him.

Being a creature attuned to darkness, and very much hating the light, Vesz'aun's blade was quickly drawn and held aloft defensively, against whatever foe was sure to come, the words of a familiar spell on the tip of his tongue, though if he did not regain his vision soon, it would matter little.

"Lead on mage," Xull'rae said as she blinked away the bright lighting, pulling the hood of her piwafwi up, "from what I gather you're not all drow, that demon seemed to know you and seemed to respect you. Whatever you are, I know you can sense him, either by Shar's magic or by demonic means, it matters little to me. Just find him." Her tone was a little on edge, even demanding. Looking around warily, something was making her skin crawl and feelings like that made her get snappish and violent.

"Yes, well, Szordrin’s voice also had a hint of frustration in it, "Bare the light, we will need to travel in it, unless you wish added trouble." He respected Xull’rae’s decision in switching the chain of command, a wise move on her part that it didn’t surprise him when she stated he was not what he seemed. He let it pass, now was not the time to question her. He didn't enjoy the light either, but he lived an extensive life, studying the various ways to manipulate one's surroundings, and this was such a case. He began a slow walk toward where he felt the presence, maybe straight into a trap but he took the risk.

Horock, knowing better then to even lose sight of his party, drew his sword, and cautiously began to follow the mage. Staying as close as he could to the others without looking like a coward.

"I can bare the light fine enough, such is the power granted to me," Xull'rae responded. She followed the mage closely, her step quiet and light, sensing for traps. She was right dead behind him that she literally was his shadow, so if a trap did activate she could help him avoid it.

They didn't have to wait long for a trap to unleash itself, as they were already within it, since the desired end was not met, a loud hiss of sorts permeated the room and some dozen armored humanoid figures came rushing towards the small group. Three, came from each of the cardinal directions, all bearing blades of various sorts. Of the Shadow Demon, there was still no sign, though the malaugrym was indeed getting the impression that it rested along the eastern half of the room somewhere.

The group was ready though, all of them were. Horock attacked the first enemy with his magically enhanced Long Sword Defender. Xull'rae, being one hard to surprise, let her dagger fly. Throwing it from her side instead of straight ahead, knowing it would hit one of the targets and return on command once struck. Drazoul pulled out two daggers and in a motion that was too fast for the normal eye due to his boots of speed he let out a devastating attack towards the nearest target.

Not that Szordrin was abandoning his companions, with what appeared to be a deft leap, he went into the air, to inevitably hover there, facing the very direction in which he felt the creature, his tone stern, and words were spoken during the little altercation. "You waste your time demon. To send your creations against me, is to become my enemy." There was a minor pause in-between sentences, "call this off, and answer my questions, or else," he left it to linger with a classic line, he was more than a little irritated.

Vesz'aun's eyes still had not adjusted as fast as the others. He had started moving, upon hearing the sounds of their feet scuffling, though he moved the wrong way, of course. Squinting against the damnable globes, he remained clueless as to the encroaching enemy at the moment. In his mind, there was a more important problem anyway and as such, he quickly pulled a scroll from within the confines of his favored rucksack, and began to read. The words were familiar to some in the room, those being of a sort to dispel magic's. One could guess he meant to quell the light globes.

As the group had been heading eastward, the closest foes were now underneath the Malaugrym and the hidden daemon shade. Restricted to melee weapons as they were, one of the swordsmen fell beneath the piercing edges of Drazoul's twin daggers a few moments before Horock's blade clashed with that of a second armored warrior. Another was taken by surprise at the offbeat tactic, a third being fell to the drowess' move, this one having come from the North, his torso exploding with the burst of acid that had been unleashed. His first blow parried, Horock managed to make a deep cut into his assailant's torso, before finding himself going toe to toe with a another attacker now.

Airborne, the malaugrym did not receive an immediate answer, perhaps due to his quarry fuming in a fit of frustrated rage, whatever the case, it had not made itself visible just yet.

"Demon, do as he says, unless you want my dagger to seek you out," came Xull'rae's growling proclamation as her ears picked up Vesz’aun’s chanting, she moved toward him.

As soon as Horock heard the mumbling, he immediately recognized it as a spell to distinguish light. "No," he cried, trying to fight his way toward Vesz'aun while at the same time get his attention to stop the spell. "Don't put out the globes!! We need them to see the Shadow Demon!"' As he fought back his second assailant, he realizes that he may have misjudged the situation. If things didn't turn around soon, he would morph.

With her dagger already back in hand Xull’rae whipped around, ready to attack again. In frustration she said through clenched teeth, "stop panicking Horock. We can still kill him without the globes if he decides to be foolish."

The gravely voice suddenly broke onto the scene, the demon finally deciding to answer, it too hearing the words of dispelling that the Bladesinger began to speak. Once said spell was completed, the remainder of his minions, no, the bulk of them, would be unleashed in a torrent. "You may kill me, but your companions below will die along with me, so do your worst, Saluraun."

Drazoul felt the adrenaline rush surge through him as his blade felled his first foe. He went on to the next foe attacking again with deceptive blows that he had learned as an assassin. Grateful that the scroll Cogliostro gave him, the spell on his dagger was working.

Vesz'aun heard his companion's whine, but didn't really register it at this point, well, it did, but it took him a few moments to stop. Scowling in irritation, he let out a loud growl, and tossed the half used scroll aside. "By all the Abyssal fiends! Why'd ya go and break my concentration?!"

Xull'rae laughed but it was cold and mirthless. She responded to the hidden demon, contempt in her voice, "Mm, someone sure talks big but can't even fight his own battles. Keep talking demon and I can just pin point you by the sound of your voice."
She was now carefully looking the area over, trying to locate the insufferable beast so she could tear him asunder.

"I'm not here to baby-sit, they can handle themselves, if not, they shouldn't of bothered coming this far," the Malaugrym responded. He was starting a slow float toward the demons presence. Intending to take it by surprise.

Horock was still fighting the demonspawn in front of him, trying to kill it while thinking of any and all tactical options that came into his head. He was not as confident as Xull'rae that they combined, could kill this thing.

The demon had yet to play all its trump cards, but there was a degree of wariness at its predicament lying within the recesses of its mind. He knew quite well what the malaugrym was capable of, and he also knew now that his main quarry had a trick of his own that could be quite harmful, yet he would pause a few moments longer, merely using his will to silently direct the minions that were even now starting to engage the others and those that lay hidden in the shadows. Waiting for the light to falter so that they may strike.

When Horock's weapon had struck home upon what he thought was a demon, the things helm came partially undone, revealing the lower half of a bearded, human face. It could be surmised that the true demons were yet waiting in shadow, they too hating the light which was intended to hamper the adventuring group's machinations, but didn't seem to have the effect the enemy wanted.

Horock started in surprise when he had seen what he had struck. What were these humans doing here? He wondered. He continued to think, still attacking the nearest enemy, hoping for a break. He desperately hoped that he had been right in stopping Vesz'aun from putting out the lights. He put on a grim face, and continued to fight the enemy.

Drazoul kept on slashing and stabbing where ever he found an opening. The yuan-ti grew tired of the demons games. "Demon I ask you again who it is that seeks Horock's head?"

With what little patience she had Xull'rae waited on the malaugrym, sensing others within the darkness. Considering the options, perhaps a continual light spell would be useful, so that's what she murmured and made the appropriate gesture, the spell coming to life.

Szordrin was still making a casual float in the demons direction, those crimson orbs now mere slits, his irritation evident, especially when his true name was uttered. He spoke, his tone, icy, "how about you answer his question, you are a fellow creature of the shadows. My patience is wearing thin, even if you do manage to defeat my companions. You'll have no chance in finishing me off, and I will see it to personally destroy your little castle, followers and whatever you, yourself cherish. As for you, there are many other fates worse then death."

Listening to all of this going on in the background, Horock dispatches the human in front of him. After the continual light spell had been cast, he could see much more clearly around the room. Despite him being Drow, the way he grew up was different from most. Seeing a horde of the smaller demons that were not close to his companions, he takes the time to get the components and scroll from a belt pouch and begins the incantation for a particular spell.

Though quite irritated with Horock wasting his scroll, Vesz’aun remained undaunted, reaching in his never-ending pouch for yet another, though this second would be his last such spell.

As it was pulled out and he began to unravel it Xull'rae's added globe of light blared to life nearby, blinding him yet again, though the conversation going on between the demon and the others was of little concern to him, in fact only a drone, he did get annoyed once more by the vacuumous "whoosh" which was triggered by the release of Horock's fireball a moment later, causing him yet another pause in his own castings.

The spell was a Fireball, aimed at the highest concentrations of enemies away from the group so that it would not hit any of them but it came close to some.

Xull'rae side stepped, skittish after a fireball was released, spells like that were dangerous in such close quarters and she didn't want to be fried. Whirling around again she tried to spot the offending spellcaster. Overlooking Horock, she saw Vesz'aun reading off a scroll and assumed once again that he was trying to extinguish the lights, so she snapped at him, "Vesz’aun just blind fight. Remember you're that good, stop casting. Realize that there will be masses upon masses of demons unleashed after the light goes out. Think about it, I actually might get hurt and that will put me in a foul mood."

Able to multitask, the demon was about to offer an answer to both Drazoul and the malaugrym but its concentration was interrupted, much like Vesz'aun's, by the telltale sound that only a fireball could make. Though the room was already bright, it shrank back in anticipation of the conflagration about to be unleashed nearby.

In the next instant, those armored humans who were not caught up in the fiery sphere gave pause in their advances, perhaps some sort of link with the master having been broken, their own senses of self-preservation able to take hold for the briefest second. Whatever the case, they stopped attacking and all stepped back in seeming confusion, which would leave them open for now. As for Vesz'aun, the roar of the fully blossomed fireball must have drown out Xull'rae's words, for he still held the scroll aloft, blinking furiously to try and regain his eyesight after the triple assault of light.

Drazoul was glad the powerful drow that the demon seemed afraid of, implored an answer to his question but the demon either didn't care or was preoccupied with something else. He decided he would have to take measures into his own hands. The yuan-ti pulled out an onyx figurine of a dog and said the magical words that would summon him. As it materialized from smoke he spoke to it and told it to try to sense out the demon or find it. He knew he could trust his dog.

Xull'rae couldn't take it anymore and yelled at the drow mage, "just leave the idiot squad behind mage and make the damn thing answer you. I and said squad will be fine, sometimes diplomacy doesn't have a place in a situation where cruelty and brute force does," she stepped back to grab Vesz'aun's wrist wresting the scroll from him easily enough due to his distraction and familiarity with her touch.

After he gave his orders, Drazoul returned to more important matters and used the momentary advantage to attempt to strike critical points in the hulking humans who seemed confused.

When his fireball had vanished, Horock called out to the Demon, "I can do that quite a few more times you know. Plus, I can do something even worse." While saying this, he continued to attack the creatures nearest to him, while at all times looking at the tactical situation that was unfolding around him. He also cast, as soon as he had the opportunity, the Stoneskin spell, which would help to give him a little extra defense.

"Will you please shut up novice, you are NOT intimidating!" Xull’rae glared at the Vhaeraunite, wondering how he was able to cast such arcane spells without failure. She said in a cold yet skeptical manner, "if I recall we are in his turf and he kicked your ass last time in dragon form, which to say the least, is pitiful so just keep your mouth shut and wait." Things were starting to get out of hand and the drowess was about to lash out at her allies, for the simple reason they were being stupid.

No less than five of the armored human's had fell prey to the fiery sphere of death, what remained of their charred corpses beginning to lend a sickening odor to the atmosphere. Drazoul and Horock had already dispatched with the remainder of them, save for two, one of which began to flee across the far side of the room, as eager to get away from his master as the intruders. The other stood his ground, striding slowly towards the small gathering, perhaps an actual loyal subject? Whatever the case, its stride was determined, a greatsword, which reeked of enchantment, being tested of weight in a single hand. As for the dog, it indeed had other senses to rely on, making its way towards the wall which Szordrin now faced from his airborne roost.

Its quarry, the shadow demon, began to materialize fully once it backed partially into one of the murky recesses along the wall, offering them a view much the same as they had encountered outside the Inn not so long ago. Arms and clawed hands made out of pure shadowstuff began to reach out of its body in various places, seeming to grasp erratically, wanting release, yet shunning back from the hated light for now. It would be both a bane, and a folly, for the demon to release its own globes of light right now, as he would gain allies, yet it would make the malaugrym that much more powerful. Aside from that, it would have to contend with the drowess' own light globe, and was some small bit of time and precious energies in the process.

Cursing inwardly, it began to slink back more into the shadows, multi-eyed gaze coming to the Malaugrym once again, its grating voice clearly heard by all in the chamber, "spare my life and my possessions, from all harm this day, and with no recriminations on any of your parts in the future, and I will tell what I know. It’s clear that I cannot win, and your reputation of a penchant for tossing followers towards their dooms is well known, so my trump cannot be played."' In this, he did assume the malaugrym was the leader in this situation. From some points of view, it was the only logical conclusion as he continued speaking, "If you make not the pact, I can still destroy myself before coming under your unpleasant ministrations for eternity. And laugh along the way, knowing that you lose one more chance to gain any insight." At this point its gaze falls upon both Horock and Drazoul, "and neither would any of you gain any knowledge from such."

The Yuan-ti heard what the demon had to say but he did not trust one word of it wondering why this demon would surrender, though it was logical that demons were known to be neither reasonable nor lawful; they were chaotic to the last drop of their blood. Drazoul decided to see what the others had to say on this. He put had both his hands on the hilts of his daggers ready to let fly at need.

"Who the fuck is talking so much? Can we get this over with already? And gimme back my scroll, bitch," squinting, Vesz'aun scried the area as best he could, scowling the whole time, still not giving a shit about the demon or any of the deals being slung about.

"You're wise, my friend," the Malaugrym didn't worry overly much of the betrayal. His need for these little bits of information was of a much greater concern, the more he helped those in the Underdark, the quicker his goals would come into play. He remained a slight distance away from the shadowy figure, awaiting the desired answers.

"Vesz'aun," rubbing his face cheeks and then squishing them together, Xull'rae had a murderous glint in her amber eyes, her tone dripping with ice cold seriousness,"you will not get your scroll back until we are out of the lighted area, now shut up before I give you to the demon to play with. And if you so much as move just to defy me, I will make you into a woman the hard way. It will be painful and you'll bleed to death as I shove you fat dick in your mouth, got it?"

"Hmmmmm," said Horock. "I am actually about to consider what you are saying. However, I must insist that you tell me who sent you after me. Was it my parents? Or was it Drazoul's?" As he asks this, his eyes are darting around, taking in the whole situation. He did not know if the human was going to attack him or not, and he wanted to be prepared. He kept his sword raised, ready to defend himself at a moments notice should the need arise. "Come now, you must have an answer. I really must know, who is after me so badly now?" He looked over at Drazoul, letting his friend know that on his signal, he should be ready to help him out of whatever stupid action he was about to take.

His face contorted by the fact Xull'rae was grabbing but Vesz'aun did his best to offer a crooked grin. "So...checked out my package have you? And be glad YOU don't have nuts, or I'd kick you in them right now." He didn't say more as he felt the point of her dagger, prick through his pants, the cold still barely brushing his privates. Xull'rae was quicker than him he realized and instantly hoped his flame hair would leave him in tact. So he didn't say more at this time.

The armored human continued to advance, but it was deliberate to the point of almost being slow, as he was still some paces away, it would take a while longer to reach them.

As for the demon, it took heed of the fact that the malaugrym may break its deal, so in the interest of staying alive a while longer, it decided to answer the other query first. As it turned to gaze upon both Drazoul and Horock, its visage seemed to contort with satisfied wonderment of sorts, "all this time, and neither of you have figured it, my, I'm not so much the apprentice any longer." That much was more spoken to itself, though all could readily hear. "I could answer you, but it would be a long and convoluted story. I don't believe the Ma-- your floating companion here would have the patience to wait through it. So perhaps you should take it upon yourselves to make sure he keeps his part of the pact, so that we may speak on it later." Leaving them to ponder his words, the demon's gaze then turns to the floating malaugrym, "as for you…"

Drazoul saw the demon complying with the others but what had him worried now was the moving human he decided to stop the human. He let fly two daggers both aimed for the humans throat.

Pausing for a moment as the daggers flew towards his last remaining minion, the Shadow Demon watched as the twin daggers were beaten aside deftly and unerringly by that vaunted greatsword, which was hefted about with the greatest of ease. He also took mental note that the human trotted ever forward, undaunted. Then, its glowing blue orbs concentrated on the malaugrym once again. "Take heed that much of this may be rumor, passed down through the, hm, centuries now," it hesitated, looking at the Malaugrym warily.

Xull'rae released the drow males face stiffly, her amber colored orbs came to rest lazily on the advancing human, drawing back her hood to, she pursed her lips as she looked the human over, her well framed face drained of its anger going quite "soft" and alluring as it were, she was watching him as well as looking over that weapon of his.

""Worry yourself not with a betrayal on my half, and be wary of it on your own, I've grown… accustomed to such things." Szordrin begins to pull away from the demons presence, intent on hearing whatever little tid-bits of information would be spilled here and now. His gestures and bland mood might be a dead giveaway to his current predicament. A Tyrant turned negotiator for the sake of his own agenda.

The demon nodded slowly and continued to speak, "rumor has it that your apprentices and other followers at the time were the ones to carry the act out, which I'm sure you have already gleaned that much on your own. I have heard tales of the disappearance of at least one of the 'seal holders' since you were released. However, they were rallied by an outside force, and given the means to entrap you by the same individual. That individual's identity is unknown to me." There comes a pause now, as if the demon feared the answer would get him killed here and now, by not providing enough information. And so, he added what more he could. " There is one who does know, however, a, hm, mutual acquaintance of us both, though a quite recent one: the human, at the Inn." This would imply that the human was not responsible for the entrapment, though whether to believe it or not was up to the malaugrym.

While studying the human, despite it not looking like it, Xull'rae was taking in the conversation absorbing every word in that filing mind of hers.

The human continued his advance ever so slowly, in fact more slowly as he approached, as if it were holding back from actually killing them right now, but still willing to try no matter the odds if he were so commanded.

"The human," There was a slight muscle twitch beneath his right eye, the thought of dealing with the bald one was almost unbearable, but certain things had to be done, now on a more personal level then anything else. "I will look into your words, demon. You will live, I will visit you at a later date, we've much to discuss." He paused, if only for a moment, "Plus, I believe there is more you are unwilling to share, or produce at this very moment. Hmm, yes, we will definitely have to set up another meeting." Of course that meant the Malaugrym would come around again, when he pleased.

Horock, looking very perturbed at all of this new information, looked up at the demon. "Okay, you answered him as best as you could. Now answer my questions!!!" This statement was given with just enough intensity to suggest that he wanted to know, or else he would also have to return at a later date as well.

Xull'rae interrupted any replies at the moment, looking at her magical companion with a delicate frown on her dark lips. "Might I remind you floating wizard …that the purpose here was to get many eyed ugly here to answer not your personal questions but others. I'm getting quite pissy and I have no such deals about not killing him as I don't work for you."

Pausing for a moment, the demon dreaded the thought of having to deal with the malaugrym again, he pushed it aside for the moment, turning to the one who had addressed him so abruptly, also taking note of the impetuous female, who dared speak to the malaugrym in such a manner, an expectant gleam in its eyes, as if he knew Szordrin would bestow some unkind fate on the woman. He nonetheless answered Horock, but its gaze remained halfway onto the others, "mayhaps ask some more specific questions."

Again Xull'rae spoke, denying anyone else a chance to do so, "you said you were an apprentice who is your master?" She stared hard at the demon, Sszordrin was too slow for her taste.

A brow indeed did arch at the comment made, luckily for all, the malaugrym was here as an ambassador, and held back his usual conduct, these questions did not concern him, so he didn't bother with putting pressure on the demon, pushing away from the scene all together with a barely audible chuckle. His feet silently touching the ground below as he came to a full landing, a lingering sigh passing through ebony tiers, awaiting to leave.

"Hmmmm, what would you have me ask? Why am I here, fighting you? If we had not attacked you, would you have come looking for us? And if so, why? What would you have to gain by killing me?" Looking at Drazoul once more, Horock continued speaking, "and if you have any questions, lets hear them!!"

Utterly bored with the whole scenario at the moment, Vesz'aun muttered under his breath, in response of sorts to Xull'rae's question, "I'M you're master, bitch, so down on your knees. Heh," with that, he went back to daydreaming.

Xull'rae in response, just simply back handed Vesz'aun effortlessly and quickly. It was like he merely stumbled instead of getting struck. She never took her eyes from the demon through the entire process. Vesz'aun on the other hand, offered her a long glare, then simply grinned, remaining silent otherwise.

Drazoul gave the demon a stone cold look, "I have one question that has been asked many times," he kept his calm which was rather odd for his race. "Who is after Horock is it his family, my family or neither?"

The demon ignored the female, though it did offer a glare, his mind worked on answers to the other queries. And again he paused, upon hearing the Halfblood ask about their families, a secret, knowing look apparent on its visage. For now, it sifted through the other questions. "First off, I never wanted you dead. And yes, I would have come for you again at a later time. As for why you are here, well, I cannot answer for you. As for why I am pursuing you, well, let’s suppose that I say your family sent me, or his. Either or. And I most assuredly have nothing to gain by killing you. "

Horock looks up at the demon, growling, he glares at him, saying "that answers absolutely nothing!!!!!!! And if you have nothing to gain from killing me, why have you been trying!?" Horock was starting to lose his temper, and he hoped Drazoul would pick up on it and stop him from doing anything foolish.

"Mage what did I say about my time wasted…have you forgotten your deal with a certain group? Might I remind you once again what your lazy ass is just watching? The current situation of you doing nothing needs to change now. The human likes me better than you; the group likes me better than you, who I work for likes me better than you. I suggest you consider the odds and what you stand to loose by not getting what we as a group came here for." Again it was Xull'rae who spoke; she too was ready to leave or go on a killing spree whichever came first. She of course said this to Szordrin.

Drazoul decided to let Horock continue on his path for it may in fact get them somewhere. If Horock got into trouble Drazoul would stop him…somehow.

Tiring of games as well, getting most uncomfortable when surrounded by the current odds collectively stacked against him, something akin to a frown settled upon the demon's countenance. "Very well, answer me a question, and perhaps it will help the both of you," glaring now at the yuan-ti and the half dragon, "you have both traveled enough to have gleaned that your childhood's were quite different from the norm for both of your races. Did that never once raise any suspicions on either of your parts? Are you so secure in the fact that what you know and learned, is what really is?" It was partially cryptic, somewhat on purpose, though more for lack of a better way to express it with words.

""Oh.. I'm terribly sorry, I didn't realize I had to hold everyone's hand, I thought they could ask their own questions, silly me." The Malaugrym said in a sarcastic tone to say the least, in response to the drowess. He absently turned his attention to the demon, shaking his head somewhat, about to speak, but it'd appear they were starting to get somewhere after all.

"Let’s see what weak, frail wizard can do with all his fingers broken," Xull'rae shot back in cold utter calm, her eyes narrowed dangerously. She might not pull it off, but she was just confident and reckless enough to try.

"Who will you get to break them?" was all Szordrin asked, with a chuckle, not daunted by the woman in the least. He admired her though; it had been a long time since someone weaker, challenged him without fear. It was amusing. He would kill her before she got too powerful.

"I don't need anyone other than you to watch what you do. I'm beginning to really detest you. Keep pushing my temper and I will be sure the human gets more than you do and my full cooperation and the churches. Leaving you, to perhaps get trapped again. It was of course a veiled threat, Xull'rae rarely made those but when she did she always turned them into promises later. "You are showing nothing of your worth besides the fact you can talk and float." She added in unimpressed.

Horock, visibly shaken, could think of nothing to say, sarcastic or otherwise. Looking at his friend in a confused manner, he begins to process the information that had just been given to him. Drazoul just thought perhaps the demon was hinting some destiny that was plotted out for him before birth though the thought was absurd. Or perhaps everything of his past was a lie. He decided for now to play dumb so maybe the demon might hint more as to what he meant. "You mean I'm really not a yuan-ti?" He acted out his bluff even more by touching his face.

"Mm, you mock me, young one," The demon now spoke to Drazoul, but turned the conversation back to the malaugrym,"It seems the youth of today have no respect, Saluraun."

The disguised malaugrym smiled darkly and nodded. "Yes, I'm inclined to agree, lack of respect and common sense. Not to mention overconfident." He looked over to Xull’rae as he spoke the last part.

Drazoul merely shrugged and found most of the situation comical but was still puzzled by the demons words.

Despite her arguing with the mage Xull'rae was still very attentive to what was being said and muttered to no one in particular, "yes he's speaking of himself see, all talk, so impressive."

The demon sighed and almost sounded as if it were pleading, "Can we adjourn until another day? There is much to ponder, on all sides.

The Malaugrym shrugs his shoulders slowly. "I won't get into this argument, I allowed us passage into this place, and thus completed part of the deal, without my presence, entering this place wouldn't have been such a cake-walk." That noted, he nodded in the direction of the demon and prepared to leave once again.

Horock was finally starting to unravel a part of what the demon had said, or so it seemed to him. "Demon, one last question. If I am who I am due to what I have done through my life, then what makes me what I am?"

Xull'rae sighed in irritation indicating to the bladesinger it was about time to go, but her comment was meant for the mage. "You ARE useless, the human could have done the very same thing."

While the drowess did not cause the mage fear, she was certainly getting on his nerves. "Hm, should I have gone into this situation blasting everything in sight? I don't see the point, you are all here, and have the answers right in front of you." He was preparing the spell that would get them out of here while glaring at her.

The demon looked at Horock with its many eyes, dark humor in each of them. "But are you who you are, through what you have done?" It was still answering with more questions, now definitely being cryptic.

"Magic?" Horock asked. Confusion evident on his face as well as how he continued, "or a deeper, more powerful force, could that have shaped me into what I am today?" Looking up at the demon, he wondered if he would be able to formulate what the answer would be. "And, I guess my question was; are we controlled by this destiny that we have supposedly been given to us? Or are we free to choose what we become and how we live?"

"Some of us are free to choose…others, well... Believe what you wish, I know some truths, not all. Whether or not destiny really exists, is among the ones I do not know." The demon left it hanging.

Xull'rae starts approaching the demon light globe in hand. "Exactly. So WE have no need of him and the drow always say no witnesses..."

Vesz'aun at this point starts paying attention, as the side arguments are amusing him for the moment.

Disturbed, Horock pondered this. Waiting for the others to get ready to leave, he stood there, thinking, and wondering. He would remain there, unless disturbed, trying to shake out why he was that way. He stared off into space. As he stands there, he thinks about all he has done in his life, and what he is going to do. He does not know exactly what he has learned, but he would figure it out no matter how long it would take him.

Xull'rae was smiling, looking at the light globe, her eyes illuminating from the glow, watching as the demon shrink back, she waits there.

The demon casts a glance in the malaugrym's, giving a silent plea that they should all be forcefully removed and despite any desires otherwise, the remainder of the group was overcome with the familiar gut-wrenching disorientation that accompanies teleportation.

The malaugrym still had his uses for the demon, as did some of the others, so he could not, and would not, let the drowess destroy it. Each of them was dumped unceremoniously into the street outside the Inn, left to their own devices, he disappeared moments later, intent on returning to his sanctum so that he may ponder all that which had been gleaned this day.

Xull'rae put her hood back up snuffing out her light source and without a word or huff set off into the inn knowing the human would call upon her anyway; though she now considered the "drow" mage as someone she would entrap in the future as he seemed to hate that more than death.

Vesz’aun follows Xull’rae without comment. Drazoul follows Horock as far as the Darkwoods, then goes to meditate alone, while Horock returns to the Tower of the Masked Mage to sort out his thoughts and get some much needed rest.

LOG 17

(twenty years in the past)
A soft wind rustles through the foliage which encompasses the outskirts of the small grove, though it offers only a minimal comfort from the nearly unbearable heat which permeates the jungle's interior. The small cave which is serving as their temporary abode during the long weeks of training sat to their east. Otherwise there nothing but trees and thick underbrush as far as the eye could see.

From within that stone settlement's confines emerged a silhouette which had come to be quite familiar to Drazoul, that of his aged mentor whom he refers to only as "Teacher." The old yuan-ti was intent upon Drazoul's form, approaching ever closer; twin pools of glowing crimson watch him only to disappear a heartbeat later, the humanoid silhouette melding completely with the darkness now as well. This would be yet another test of the young apprentice's skill at fighting in complete darkness, like so many before him. The area was blanketed in darkness of the deepest sort, the cavern and trees disappearing from view now as well. The young yuan-ti could expect the blunt end of his teacher’s staff to crack him in the skull at any moment, should he fail to concentrate enough and pinpoint the attacker. What he could not expect was the presence of another form that lurked in the shadows beyond the grotto's periphery.

Everything was silent and peaceful in the darkness. Drazoul himself was loose and relaxed as he had been instructed on, intent on keeping the peace; that was his weapon against what he could not see. He waited for the strike even as quick as he was, his teacher would be faster. All Drazoul could do was lessen the strike in an attempt to hamper the pain a bit. After waiting a long while he decided to cautiously move forward.

The Malaugrym had chosen one of his more common forms for this little reunion, one the teacher would know well. It was that of a drow male, he was quite partial to their dexterous shape, and stern features. Darkness didn't impair his vision, not at the least, dull crimson orbs sliding over the scene in quiet watch; he didn't seem to be trying to slink throughout the shadows, for he wanted his presence to be known to his old friend, once a valuable employee. That was of course after the little accident that put him in a sort of stasis for quite the time, leaving his mind open to that around him, but body trapped.

Drazoul waited for a blow that did not come, rather, he heard the soft hiss of metal, a sound he knew well, that of his Teacher's quarterstaff being pulled in two, the katana-like blade of one half making a soft hiss of its own within the darkness as the "sheath" half was pressed to Drazoul's chest in a manner that bid him not to move. The veil of unnatural darkness slowly dissipated, allowing Drazoul to catch a glimpse of his teacher stepping forward, blade held at the defensive, spinning slowly about, seeming to search for a foe that he hadn't caught wind of yet or perhaps the old man had simply gone senile at last. Knowing the teacher as he did, the yuan-ti could guess it was the first option.

Drazoul was not yet ready for blade training but his teacher did allow him to carry a small specially crafted blade by his own teacher since there were many dangerous creatures in the region. He pulled it out in a quick motion not worrying that his teacher might think treachery he looked for the foe his master seemed to have sensed.

Szordrin stepped forward into plain view; his own stance was rather casual with a gnarled staff in hand, nimble, ebony digits having a light grasp upon the rugged wood. His blackened hood was pulled low to cover facial features, yet there was a hint of crimson coming from the darkness within, staring at the one he knew as Mor'kaala. He remained silent, and didn't move an inch afterwards, allowing the old Halfblood to perceive what he wanted to about his forthcoming.

Mor’kaala stepped into a small patch of moonlight, his scaled, almost withered looking hide coming into plain view. Despite his aged appearance, his body was still well sculpted and formed, his mane of white hair, which was pulled back into a high pony tail still appearing full as well. That human-like countenance turned in Drazoul's direction for but a moment, the glance of his narrowed crimson orbs portraying a message that danger was afoot, and perhaps something else, a sadness of sorts, as if he knew his time on the world was about to end.

Facing the hooded figure, it was evident that he knew who it was despite the hood being in place. His weapon had been lowered, but his guard had not. Much time had passed since he'd last encountered the hooded figure, enough that his life span should have passed many times over, but he had found means of extending that life span, and there was a small hope that the other benefits imparted by those same means would give him a chance to survive against his own master of old. He would not tell his student to leave, as the young Halfblood would be killed anyway if the shrouded figure so wished it. Inclining his head respectfully for a moment, he now addressed the drowic form. "Greetings, Shadowed One."

Drazoul stared hard at the figure before him. He knew it was a drow. He had seen a few on occasion, traded practice sword play with a few of them. The human's described drow as demon devils but Drazoul found they were neither. It was true they had much skill and were quick, but the Yuan-ti had never been impressed by their arrogance which would ultimately lead them to their doom in battle. Drazoul nodded and saw his masters reactions and quickly sheathed his blade and waited until further instructions were given to him.

"It’s been quite awhile since we last spoke Mor'kaala," Szordrin responded. His tone was cold and stoic, his frame unmoving, frozen in place. Unnervingly calm was he as he continued,"though I do remember, yes… All of it…YOU were there, my friend" That last word, dripping with venom.

"Perhaps you could tell me your outlook on things, hm? Or maybe even confess, yes. How does that sound?" His crimson orbs mere slits now, staring at his old comrade, it took him awhile to track this one down, though after finding out about a certain yuan-ti, who still lived, he didn't let up in his search, just like with the others. There was something different about the malaugrym, a bit of sanity had slipped, though he kept all his wits about him, and all the more powerful then before.

In all the time Drazoul had known his instructor, he'd never once viewed the elder yuan-ti showing any signs of fear whatsoever, but there always came a first time for everything. It was a small sign, only a twitch, but Drazoul saw it all the same. The sound of the disguised malaugrym's voice had brought back too many old fears, and harbored some new ones as well. For a long moment, the teacher said nothing, seemingly not even so much as drawing a soft breath. A slight tremble then worked its way through the old man's body as he tried to formulate an answer. The first word nothing more than a hoarse gasp. Clearing his throat then, he remembered that his charge was here, and that much had changed over the past couple of centuries. The tremor stopped, faith put back into his abilities once more, helping him to face against the "master". As he answered, the tip of his prehensile tail fell to the ground, and began to slowly and methodically etch something into the hard-packed soil. It was the old male's hopes that Drazoul would notice, and that the malaugrym would not. "I am not your ‘friend,’ but yes...I was there though I have no real confessions to make. It was not my doing."

The young yuan-ti was confused and a bit afraid but he watched his teachers every movement to see if any sign orders would be given but he did notice the small inscription being implanted into the ground.

That minor detail slipped the malaugrym; he was much more intent on what the elder yuan-ti had to say, needless to say, that rather un-detailed answer didn't suffice. Digits curled tighter over his staff, which was lifted from the ground and pointed forward, his teeth gritting together. Crimson orbs flared momentarily, his voice barely restraining the rage within, "two-hundred years. Two hundred years of nothingness and silence. My own thoughts were all that my wretched imprisonment granted me, and even they were misleading!"

The very soil trembled with his anger. In the past the malaugrym was calm and collective, he was rarely seen upset to the point of showing it in such a way, this little fact alone may cause one who has known him to worry. "You better come up with a better answer that that." His eyes went from a crimson red to a sickly yellow color.

The inscription became more like a carving upon the ground, one which Drazoul recognized. Despite the fact that another twitch born of fear had caused the elder yuan-ti to nearly eradicate the entire etching. The symbol was one which his student had viewed a time or two amongst the masters meager supply of personal items. It was in the form of a mere medallion, but Drazoul had always gotten the impression that it held some great magic. At any rate, the master did nothing more than paint the picture. Any assumptions would have to be his own, as the master's thoughts were fully upon the hooded figure now. The elder's normally calm and complacent mask actually broke for a moment, as the malaugrym's near palpable rage showered upon his form. The fact he had to put on a show for Drazoul was largely forgotten now.

However, he kept enough composure that he did not flee; then again, he knew that too would be a fruitless endeavor. His hopes laying in the fact that Drazoul would get the gist of his message and that he could bargain for his "life". Quickly he knelt, bowing his head to the shrouded figure in a sign of submission, laying the twin halves of his weapon upon the ground beside him, attempting to portray that he would finally cooperate. Though some small part of it was a ruse, it was in large part done out of actual fear. "I beseech your forgiveness, Shadowed One, I will tell you that which I know, at least that which I remember. It has been a long time."

Drazoul had gotten the message loud and clear and knew what he had to do. He faked sheer fear which would cause him to stutter. "M-m-master? S-should I go and g-get you and t-t-t-this person a drink?" The young yuan-ti did not even wait for a response he left with room with haste and went straight for his teachers personal belongings in a hope to find the medallion.

Szordrin smiled in triumph, reveling in the groveling, "Yes.. Your cooperation is refreshing," he began a slow walk toward the knelt figure, though by all means he didn't get overly close for his own reasons, the tip of his staff idly digging into the ground below, assessing the situation for a moment. Watching the whelp run off, his eyes turned crimson again, he didn't trust the situation, but trust alone was a hard fought ally after his last predicament. "You may even be rewarded if this is made worth my time."

The elder stood now, though he kept his gaze inclined to the ground, the reptilian humanoid pointedly left his divided weapon upon the ground. "Your generosity knows no bounds. I will give an honest accounting, as far as I am able. Though I feel a reward would be a quick death, in your terms. was what he left unsaid. He trusted not the malaugrym, with good reason. But then again, he would not be entirely honest, until certain unchangeable arrangements were made.

Drazoul reached his destination hastily and looked around for a few long moments before he found what his teacher bid him to find. He also found two cups and filled both with a wine his master kept near his other belongings then returned with not moment to lose.

Inwardly relieved that his student had been allowed to live for the time being, and had gone to retrieve the item, the reptilian assassin continued, "there was a stranger, a drow. None of us knew his name, though he seemed to know quite a lot about you. He was very charismatic, very convincing in his offer of helping us rid ourselves of you. I, of course, did not wish to go along with the plan, as I was, happy with my status and, working conditions while in your...employ. I believe he used compulsion magic's to win us over in the end, mayhaps he used them the whole time. Whatever the case, he presented us with the methods, and laid the plans out before us." He pauses, his scaled face holding a quizzical look for a moment, perhaps trying hard to remember something, "he was there while we lay the trap and another stranger, a..human, I think, yes, I did see a human there too. At any rate, we, the collective of your highest servants, carried out every bit of the fieldwork. Our benefactor never said a word after it was done, merely nodded in approval, and left after making sure you were truly immobilized. To this day, none of us know who that benefactor was." He dared a glance now, though brief, towards the cavern where his student had gone, pausing in his musings.

As Drazoul arrived he saw his teacher kneeling and the strange drow was talking to him. He wasted no time and quickly brought the drink to his master then discreetly gave him the item he requested. He then moved a few steps towards the drow but kept a distance and placed the other cup on the ground then backing away cautiously as to not offend the mage.

The disguised malaugrym took in a nice deep breath, listening and crunching every last detail the serpent spoke, however, his crimson orbs did shift to the younger assassin that appeared, for what was several seconds, unblinking the crimson eyes shifted into yellow and stared eerily at the youth before turning into mere slits, his words to the older of the two. "So, my capture was due to weak-minded generals." He was speaking calmly unlike before, this was much more like the malaugrym of the past, not that it meant anything good, knowing to kill even his most talented warriors without a hint of emotion or hesitation; this was what made him dangerous, he didn't show anger any longer, his eyes turning crimson once more. He was far less predictable now. "You've lived quite a long time, I didn't expect you to still be among to living," he paused, "what else do you know?" Wanting all the information he could get before making any decisions.

The Teacher took the glass from his student, nodding appreciatively, allowing his senses to flow outward, to determine if Drazoul had indeed found the object. Satisfied within moment that he had done so, his gaze turned back to the drowic figure, this time his gaze was not deferred, though it was by no means defiant or haughty. "I must admit that I am not exactly to be counted amongst the living any longer. I felt the need to extend my life span through unnatural means or the want to, at the very least. However, back to the subject at hand," A long draught of the liquid in his hands was taken, he knowing deep down inside that it would perhaps be his last, despite the fact he now held some measure of power against the malaugrym nearby. "It has been a long time, but there exists a set of, hm, seals, if you would, intended for use in such case that you may escape in the future, which has become a reality in the present." He stopped now, his crimson gaze scrutinizing the malaugrym for a moment. "For me to say more, I'm afraid I would need positive assurances that you will leave me, and my student, in peace."

Szordrin’s facial expression remained calm as his former comrade spoke more treachery. "I am not totally cold blooded, if your information is genuine and true, I will not lay a hand on you, or your apprentice." It was not true of course; he even allowed a little chuckle to escape, for his own reasons he said, "I didn't come here for petty revenge, I wished knowledge, and as long as you continue to give me what I need, I don't see why your life here will have to be forfeit."

Despite himself, Mor'kaala could almost believe it...almost. At this time he allowed his tail to slowly meander its way to his student, poking Drazoul for the briefest moment, trying to convey that he would need to be at the ready. "Very well. There are seven such seals, distributed to seven of your, hm, most esteemed followers." Drazoul felt the prodding of his teacher and was somewhat confused as to what he meant but after looking around the vicinity he figured his teacher might need him so he had his hand on the hilt of his dagger. Sensing that his student may not have fully got his meaning, he emphasized a certain word in his next phrasing, to give further clue, "these SEALS each have someone who can unlock their power, though these 'keyholders' are not one and the same with those who carry them. A precaution of sorts, also a hindrance, in my opinion, but it was not my place to comment at the time. I am knowledgeable of those who carry the seals but not the keyholders. They were all newborn babes at the time, and I am rather certain most have been lost during the passing couple of centuries. Though, if you were to gain all the seals, it would stand to reason that the keyholders would no longer matter."

Drazoul thought he finally understood what his teacher meant. He realized the item was a seal but was his master indicating he had the power to unlock them if so he would perhaps his master wanted him to release the power. Drazoul could not be sure so he decided to wait one more moment, perhaps one more indication or clue as to what he had to do would come, if not he would try to unlock the power.

The Elder continued without interruption, "the children had the methods of unlocking the seals powers stored within their subconscious, and I doubt any ever came to knew they held the power."

The malaugrym's crimson eyes once again shifted to the youth, somewhat putting two and two together, certain seals, whom needed a newborn, who would technically be a youth or old by now if not for magic. A hint of smile touching the corner of ebony lips, he commented, "I see, very interesting indeed." True, he didn't see the seal, but he was open to paranoid assumptions. "Then you are willing to hand over yours, am I correct in believing this?" An expecting smile transformed Szordrin’s mouth to a cruel smirk.

His masters last indication was what he needed to hear though Drazoul was shocked by what his mentor told him he went to grab the cup from his mentor but instead grabbed the glass item and hoped he could somehow unleash the power.

Catching that small shift, which had flickered in his student's direction, he felt a need to emphasize a point before answering. "These babes were born on the day you were trapped. It has been nearly three centuries, so one of my race could not possibly hold such information within, as our life spans are not so great as your own." He then took note of the student’s actions, though he knew it would do no good as of the moment. "In return for our lives, or continued existence's, rather, yes, I would turn one such seal over to you, and give you the names of the other seal holders." Mor’kaala stated with assurance.

Concentrate as he might, the yuan-ti could get the metallic amulet to do nothing whatsoever of an arcane nature. Drazoul just stared in surprise that the item had no effect but perhaps his mentor would explain later.

"You have yourself a deal then," clearing his throat, his free hand outstretched, nimble digits splaying open, "the seal, then?" This new information brought up a new quest, the past generals he had killed probably all had such similar objects, backtracking would be a pain, but this was a necessity, the malaugrym was known for covering his tracks, not leaving a weakness open.

Offering almost what could be called the traces of a warm smile to his student, the teacher motioned for the lad to pass the seal along to himself. While in transition, with both of them making contact with it for a moment, there erupted from it a brief flash of arcane energy, easily detectable by all, and a message was passed from student to teacher, silently, in thought only, which passed as soon as the teacher held the amulet fully.

Feeling a need to explain, and quickly, the old reptilian assassin did so as he slowly held out the seal, in the malaugrym's direction. "The seals offer some small bit of powers directly to their holders, so it reacted to my touch, as it has been quite some time since I've had reason to lay my scaled hands upon it. I do not believe it will cause you any harm, in and of itself, milord. We were told the entire set was needed in order to reactivate the trap. But caution may be in order." Mor’kaala added in hastily.

Szordrin visibly flinched and almost let loose a spell in the aftermath. Casting a murderous glance to his former servant before speaking coldly, "yes, I'd assume as much." The Malaugrym didn't move forward, he simply used his sheer will to mentally pull the object from the grasp of the scaled assassin, a newfound power he deceivingly kept hidden until now. "Is there anything else I should know?" There was only mild caution when the medallion came close enough to grab, Szordrin didn't expect such an object to hold enough power to smite him.

The amulet itself would offer up no harm whatsoever to the malaugrym upon grasping it. Certain calmness overcame the teacher at that point, one associated with certain death and one associated with the knowledge that his student would now be safe, at least for a while, and definitely for today. "Just the names, Shadowed One," he proceeded to list each of the seven former generals. Curious, but not worried, about what form his impending death would take.

Drazoul stared at his mentor in paralyzed shock so much had been revealed but the one that stung him the most profoundly now was the thought his master may fall today.

"You knew this time would come Mor'kaala, one last question before we part ways," Szordrin’s words were cryptic, and had double meaning. The malaugrym had no intention on letting his former comrade live to see tomorrow, yet he already seemed to know that. "What kept you alive all these years? The fear of death?" A strange question to ask, especially since it was totally off the subject at hand, he didn't mean the magical nature itself, but the reason, a striving goal. Anything.

The question caught the teacher a bit off guard, and combined with his calm acceptance of the fate about to be bestowed, he allowed the smallest of chuckles to escape, though it did not hold overly much mirth. He replied, "one could say that, yes. However, I had to seek out a means to cheat death, which was not overly hard. Bargaining the life of several students, I managed to cut a deal with a vampire some years back."

Drazoul stood there, helpless and confused. He knew he could not let his master fall to thus cowardly drow. So he gathered his courage, and shoved all of the emotions into the pit of his stomach like he had been taught, leaving his mind clear with a single thought. In a quick motion he grabbed his master’s sword stick and in a fluid motion drew the blade and plunged it into his master’s chest all the while keeping eye contact with his master until the last flicker in his eyes dies out. He then pulled out the blade from his master’s chest.

At first, sheer shock and surprise sprang to life within the masters eyes as they were locked with Drazoul's, then came understanding, and even appreciation, as the spark of life slowly faded away to nothingness. The deal he had made with the aforementioned vampire was not for true vampirism to be bestowed, but rather that a monthly tithing of blood was to be given to the yuan-ti, that he may prolong his life without crossing the threshold to undeath. As such, the powerful, mystical blade which plunged through his chest was sufficient to end his existence, much as Drazoul had wanted. The light completely faded now, the teacher went to his grave with the knowledge that the remaining seal guardians would meet the same fate due to his betraying them, a cold comfort of sorts.

Drazoul's eyes were very misty and his hands were shaking though he did not allow himself to weep. Not with this foul figure before him. He was filled with dread, a feeling of satisfaction came a moment later, as he knew his master could rest in peace and not have to avenge his death from the land beyond. He then turned an icy stare towards the drow, "you have what you want. Leave as my master agreed."

Another little chuckle came rolling from in-between slightly parted ebony tiers, the brash movement didn't throw the malaugrym off, in fact he was counting on it. "That was very …honorable of you, killing off your poor old Master like that." He began to step forward, closer onto the scene, not that he had worried about doing so beforehand, but now only the whelp remained. "However, this is far from over," after all, this had gone much too easy, his crimson orbs were assessing the youth now, if only for a moment. "How does it feel, to take your own mentors life? To be a cold blooded killer?" Lean shoulders rose, then fall in a slight shrug, not caring for a response, "or do you feel you did the right thing?" He was approaching the body now, testing the young one and what his reaction would be.

Drazoul glared at the drow and considered hurling a small dagger at his throat. But it would do nothing. Most likely the drow had defenses. b>"Honor?" He spat, "what would one such as you know about honor?" Though Drazoul was an assassin; even they had some code of honor as warped and distorted as it was. He started to laugh at the drow's next question. "cold blooded killer? Look at me Drow I'm a snake. I was born a cold blooded killer. My skills were merely honed by my master." he makes a gesture towards the dead form of his teacher. He kept a cold tone and spoke again, "how did it feel? like any other kill. Eventually I would have taken his life anyway. It just happened to come sooner than expected." His words were lies, but he did not want the drow to have his moment nor did he want to show any signs of weakness mentally.

"Your skills? I haven't seen anything impressive as of yet. Not that your Master was worth much more, I could've killed him, as easily as I'm going to kill you," Szordrin spoke calmly, it was hard to tell whether he bluffed, or spoke the truth. "I do believe it’s about that time." His hand started to raise, two fingers pointing toward the youth, who was now not to far off from his position. Unfortunately, something didn't feel right, an unknown force had kept him at bay, and this only caused his brows to furrow. He may have appeared to be frozen for several seconds, as if trying to remember an incantation. His next expression was that of frustration, though he kept it to a minimum. Not wanting to play it off like he couldn't muster, he dropped his arm slowly, muttering something under his breath, rather perturbed as to exactly why he couldn't seem to bring harm to this one.

Drazoul shuddered at the drow’s threats. He was no fool and knew what he should do, but then the drow stopped, he was rather bewildered why the mage decided to stop his attack. He found the courage to ask something, "tell me one thing. Who was my master before I knew him?"

A sly smile appeared on Szordrin’s visage, he figured he might as well add salt to an open injury. "For one, I was HIS Master, he was nothing more then a lackey out of many, weak-minded, but I can't say to much of his intelligence, he was smart enough to kneel before me, even to this day. You should've seen him, groveling like a child when you ran off to grab his little trinket. He hasn't changed one bit. Pathetic, even his death was laughable, his student taking his life, he has only spoiled with age, becoming nothing more then a weak, sorry excuse." He could've said much more, but stopped himself, this didn't turn out so bad after all, not to mention he was partially irritated at his inability to harm the youth.

The Yuan-ti let out a hiss at the proclamation, his anger rising, perhaps getting the better of him. "Tell me drow are you powerful enough to sight as to how you will meet your death?"

The Malaugrym scoffed at the notion, finding it absolutely absurd, "You need not worry about my power, whelp. I have limitless potential, while the rest of your.. lesser races are capped, I find it amusing to this day." His eyes drop for a moment, to the corpse by his feet. He had gotten what he came for, and wasn't going to dwell on the youth, though he doubted this would be the last time he saw this one. On that note he turned, and began to walk off in the opposite direction. "I will return for you, sometime in the future and finish what I started, that… I promise."

Drazoul let out a laugh that was a cross between a hiss and chuckle. "Seems the all mighty drow has no answer to the question, well perhaps one of the lesser races can answer your question. You will die by your own arrogance and if you do come, I also promise that from whichever hell or place you send me to I will come back no matter how many times you defeat me." It wasn't much of a threat he knew but he had to say something.

Szordrin cast one last glance over his shoulder at the youth, then once more at the corpse. "There are fates far worse then death, I'll assure you of that, and promise to choose one suitable for yourself." Now he couldn't leave with the corpse simply laying there. He wanted to make sure there was nothing left of it, an incantation was muttered, and a gesture made. It didn't take long for the body to rumble a bit, and then implode on itself, leaving nothing behind. Such were the wonders of planar travel. "I'm sure the creatures will enjoy picking at the carcass of your Master, maybe, at the very least he can make a decent meal." the disguised malaugrym smiled coldly.

The yuan-ti stared intently at the leaving figure though he slightly flinched as his masters remains imploded. After the Drow left, he drenched the place in oil and lit it. He gathered all the possessions he would need and set out for the journey to the assassins guild.

Szordrin shook himself from his reverie and howled loudly at this new found revelation. The whelp student was in his current group. So many times he could have killed him, but his memories were still full of holes. He had to deal with it, as too many little things could build up to a big problem if he killed the Yuan-ti now. His screams of rage could be heard echoing from beyond his tower as the sun set in the sky.

Interrupt the Bard -or- let her continue