Chapter 2: The Web Begins To Weave ----- Page 5
LOG 20

Night had fallen twice in the lands of light since the dysfunctional congregation of "companions" had convened. It was now coming nigh unto dawn following that second night, perhaps an hour left till the sun's bright rays would break over the horizon.

By virtue of the fact that Cogliostro had come to each in turn, and once more prompted them to ready themselves and step through yet another shimmering portal to destinations unknown, it was apparent that they may all see that sunrise in the very near future. One by one they stepped forth, only to find themselves in what appeared a darkened alleyway, rough-cut, two story stone buildings to either side. Peering upwards would reveal the deep-charcoal colored sky, no real stars apparent. Though some may find it comforting, there was an all too apparent silence in the current surroundings, naught but the whistling of a slight breeze and the soft banging of a nearby set of shutters. None had been given a reason for the trip, and when at last the human strode forth from a similar portal, he wore clothes of tan and black, that better suited desert men for its design and lightness. He largely ignored them and began to walk towards the opening at one end of the venue.

Horock wore simple garb, sporting a heavy blue wool cloak, a green tunic and black breeches. His boots were soft black leather and a tad scuffed. The long swords he carried were sheathed at each hip. Looking around the area and felt he did not like it. He then looked around at his companions, and knowing that each of them would do their own thing anyway, he decided he wanted to know where they were and why they were here. He followed Cogliostro to the opening at the end of the venue, perhaps a little too trusting, he decided. He kept looking around carefully, making sure that there was no danger, and continued to follow him but found himself remaining silent despite his earlier intentions.

As always, Xull'rae stood, confident, silent and waiting completely enshrouded in her piwafwi. She was curious yes, but was smart and no ones fool so she knew best not to question and wait for the human to give the say so to move, as he was the apparent leader and as a well taught drow she knew very well to follow orders. She watched as Horock followed the human and shook her head. It was her duty to protect him, but it was not her duty to protect him from being stupid, she'd go if there was conflict but until then she'd wait for the human to actually say it was okay to move.

Ugly yellow eyes looked around for a moment as Bloodhorn was quite use to using portals and living in them, so he didn’t get that sick feeling like most do when teleported from one spot to the next. He too kept silent, knowing he was no longer in the protection of Cogliostro and his Inn rules and didn't want to push anyone today. The githyanki's hand like always, rested on that greatsword, he also still wore his platemail. A grin on his thin lips he follows the humans movements in earnest but finding everything so amusing.

Shaking with apparent disbelief at the stupidity of the male, Alena looked around at the others. She decided not to be stupid, and to stay put for now. However, she was looking around carefully too. Never too trusting.

Hands clasped idly behind his back in that usual demeanor of calm, Cogliostro stood for some long moments in the street just beyond the alleyway, a studious gaze sweeping the cityscape beyond. After a time, he turned back to face the others, quirking a brow at the ragtag group, wondering to himself why it was he brought such a group together in the first place. That was pushed aside with an inward, sarcastic chuckle, and a closed-lipped smile was offered to the gathering and spoke, "there is no immediate danger, so come along." That said, he simply turned back towards the city proper, and took a few short strides forward, awaiting for them to comply, making idle talk in the interim. "And so, assuming some here spent the night deep in thought, anything the lot of you wish to discuss as we travel?"

Bloodhorn shrugged and smiled that ugly tooth filled smile and moved forward toward the human. He let his eyes move about as he walked and kept his senses open as well, "why are you bald?" He smirked as he asks it. He then chuckles and grins at the man.

Horock replies, "no, not in particular..." His brows furrow, and he frowns as he thinks carefully. "Wait, I guess that I DO have one question for you, why did you tell us about Szordrin knowing he was part of the church, yet enemy to some?" He did not say himself was an enemy, though he knew it for truth. The question was offered with a genuine air of curiosity, no trace of sarcasm evident in his voice.

Xull'rae moved like a shadow, graceful, silent and blending in the darkness as if it were like skin. Her voice carried though, strange since it was quiet and did not echo. "I suppose Vesz'aun is still busy?" She had not seen the Bladesinger for a full day. That was odd for him, considering what Cogliostro had said about his obsession, but she was curious to his whereabouts. She didn't miss him but he was hers to use, so it was best to show some interest.

Alena sneered, "yes, while it is nice to know for sure that there are others like me, why did it have to be those idiots?" she asked, pointing at Horock and also referring to the one called Drazoul. "I mean, they are MEN!!!! I suppose that I could have lived out the rest of my life quite happily not knowing about them." She did not bother to hide her contempt as she still looked around. That air of superiority that she always seemed to wear as a cloak was evident on her face. She walked toward the back of the ragtag group, taking a careful look at their situation and Xull'rae, noting that the woman was hidden behind her piwafwi, she hoped Xull’rae was wearing something useful like Alena’s own chainmail.

"Hm, my my..." Cogliostro mused, "alright, I shall answer in order. Firstly, I shave my head intentionally, as it allows more space for crafting spells upon my flesh. Now, as for why I told you Horock, what Saer Zauviir said was at least partially true...I share the knowledge freely as I am now embroiled in the plot, in a manner not yet apparent to any of you. So, I am to a degree using you to help myself in the matter...but I am honest about it, and I am in turn helping each of you as well. About the Bladesinger, yes, I've kept him busy straight through the night, he should be finished with the task by Highsun. As for why it had to be your companions there, Saer Alena, I haven't a clue. More or less, each of you three were picked due to timely availability more than any other factor. And I beg to differ on you ever hoping to lead a happy life, so wrought with a need for vengeance as you are. But, mayhaps that is enjoyable to you. In any case, you are stuck with them, no changing that unless you wish to have no chance of ever carrying out your self-appointed task." As he finished he fell silent, intent on their reactions.

The githyanki chuckled at the answer, but that was all the response he gave and wondered if the human even had a sense of humor. But then he shaved his head, what good was that? You couldn't put pretties in your hair then, ah well. He kept on walking, fingers drumming on the hilt of his sword, ready to kill at a moments notice.

Xull'rae was surprised Vesz'aun would listen to the human. He barely listen to the drow much less those not of the race. "What did you bribe him with to make him listen to you?" Of course she was curious, it would be helpful to know, maybe she could do the same to make him stay away longer.

"Hm, I don't think you'd really wish to know.." Cogliostro replied, his tone dry. Xull'rae's reaction to his answer was to give a soft sigh and she once again fell quiet.

The Street they now ventured down was far wider than the alley from whence they came, but it offered nothing new to the senses. All was ominously silent, none of the usual background noise one could expect from what was proving to be a sizable town was present, not even the chirping of insects and the mutterings of nightbound creatures. Despite this, the human stopped short for a moment, cocking his head just a tiny bit to the side, as if listening to something. Straightening out that clean-shaven crown after a moment, a deep frown settled upon his visage, and with a simple glance in the direction of the others, accompanied by a halfhearted waving of his hand, both Horock and the newfound drowess were suddenly whisked elsewhere before they could reply or protest. Hopefully that elsewhere would be safer at the moment. That done, he turned on his heels, and silently strode forward without an explanation, as if it never happened..

Bloodhorn cracked a chuckle and shrugged, just taking in the sights and hoping he would get to kill something soon. While Xull'rae trusted the human enough, for the simple fact she knew he had nothing to gain by killing Horock, so she never questioned, only followed. Things would be made clear soon enough of that she was certain. As for her surroundings it did not bother her in the slightest. She was more deadly than most things anyway and a survivor to boot, making her ready for anything. He probably placed them wherever Drazoul was, that meant the malaugrym was nearby.

The Githyanki actually yawned then and smacked his lips a bit, smirking, then he asked, "so…exactly…why are we here again?" Then he thought to himself, nobody thought to ask that?"

"I'm supposing you are here because you wish that certain heirloom badly enough. But to be more general, that will be revealed soon. Even I am as yet unaware of what exactly has transpired." Cogliostro replied, not mocking in the least. "Take a look around, a close look. You may take note that there are small signs of battle here and there. And numerous splashes of drying blood upon the landscape, yet no bodies." He stops and pauses to look around with a hard gaze. "I can hazard a guess as to why no bodies, but I have yet to determine why this has been done."

Xull'rae remained silent, though she did debate dispatching of the githyanki, for nothing more than being annoying and as it stood right now, useless. But she would wait as she heard Cogliostro speak. With that information given she started to scan her surroundings more fully, being attentive to detail. The malaugrym seemed to like blood baths. Aware that he slaughtered an entire city; her awe was replaced with curiosity. Where were the bodies indeed?

There could be gleaned signs of fairly recent battle damage upon many of the buildings. If one were to glance inside any given window, they would see that, whether it be home or business, the interior of all buildings were in shambles, as if were a completely reckless battle, even slaughter, had taken place on a widespread scale.

Bloodhorn rolled his yellow eyes at Cogliostro in irritation. "Yes, small signs…and blood, that I could still smell…but why no bodies? Perhaps to stop the smell of death and keep the rats away?" He laughs then finding himself amusing as usual.

The hushed silence was broken by the idle thud of a gnarled staff upon the ground below as Szordrin made his presence known. Stepping from the shadows like always, one might wonder just how long the shapeshifter had been waiting and watching. No words were offered to those present, nothing more then the arching of stark white brow in fact, but his hood was up so who could tell? He took in the situation under silent contemplation, dull crimson orbs sweeping over everything absently.

"Some things have no rhyme or reason down here human, but most times bodies are used as food and wiping out a city is usually because someone or something wants to settle using the place as a base of operations." Xull'rae said.

"Where are we, what city...or town..?" asked the Githyanki.

"Mm, methinks tis probably your awful odor which keeps the rats at bay." Cogliostro replied to Bloodhorn. He mused softly, stopping short as the drowess continues speaking, and a certain figure finally makes his presence known. "And it is no particular concern of yours Saer Bloodhorn where we are at the moment, though if that changes, I will impart the information." A small pause as he takes a moment to silently regard the disguised malaugrym, turning back finally to Xull'rae. "And true enough, some things have no reasoning…but this did. One does not slaughter an entire town, and spend the energies to animate the thousand corpses or so without a very good reason."

Bloodhorn raised a brow and took in what was said and asked the obvious, "an army then?"

Xull'rae nodded her hooded head, "in my experience this looks like the result of a raid, maybe a drow raid. The bodies could be used for making undead as well. Drow dabble in that and sometimes do make raids for the reason of just causing havoc and pain." She knew without looking that Szordrin was there but she didn’t want to give him credit. So it made her look a trifle foolish, but it was worth it in her opinion.

Cogliostro looked over at the malaugrym with a calculating look. "I'm sure the good Saer Xarann can confirm my suspicions on that point."

Sszordrin nodded his voice full of certainty and a touch of arrogance as he made clarification, "indeed, a shame I didn't get here first, well over a thousand, no…more, double that, that could In fact conjure up quite an army." He actually sounded disappointed at the end, lean shoulders rose, then fell as he spun around to face the group.

"Do drow typically work on such a large scale as our companion here just pointed out? I personally have not heard of such, most times only villages are targeted for a raid. This would have taken an inordinate amount of spellcasters to pull off. Unless we're speaking of someone holding power such as Saer Xarann possesses." Cogliostro frowned in slight displeasure, taking note that the malaugrym was disappointed and was not the cause of this destruction. He answered the githyanki right after, "so, yes, Saer Bloodhorn, it would seem an army has been gathered. For what, well, that is for us to determine at this time."

Xull'rae turned her cowled head slightly to peer at what she now knew was a malaugrym, and listened. She was surprised to know she was not as foolish as she first sounded and that her intuition had been wrong. Szordrin did not cause this, that left the unknown and if Cogliostro seemed a twitch nervous, then something very powerful was about in this place. She steeled herself then and braced for something bad to happen. Death could be around the next corner now and she had better be ready. Not forgetting the conversation she answered Cogliostro, "well it depends if they have a large scale motive. The wanna be undead drow bitch Kiaransalee has been known to do this kind of gain in mass quantity."

Bloodhorn nodded slightly at Cogliostro and looked at Xull'rae for a moment. "Or… perhaps… those after the Keys are looking for an army of undead to go looking for them." He shrugs looking at his companions to see if they had other suggestions.

"Mm, truly? There is no such thing on record...then again there would seem no likelihood of witnesses in such endeavors." Cogliostro mused over Xull'rae's idea's.

Xull'rae continued her line of thought, ignoring Bloodhorn. "As for Menzoberranzan drow, it is doubtful we have not done a large gathering since the battle of Mithril Hall."

Bloodhorn started chuckling and commented, "because we all know how that went…" That battle was spreading to legendary status both underground and on the surface, even to this day.

"Hm, aye, don't remind me, and I'm sure it is not over with, not by a longshot." Cogliostro didn't bother to glance at Szordrin, as he felt no desire to have his frown deepen.

Xull’rae’s voice did not change but she was looking at Bloodhorn now, no doubt glaring at him from beyond her hood but she didn't comment, instead she said, "it could be Malag'tel's doing, for what reason I know not but I would not discredit him for being involved."

Szordrin was seemingly staring off in the distance now, peering out into the darkness. "You have not investigated long like I presume, it wouldn't be overly hard to track down thousands of the walking dead, even under warded protection, there are measures to overcome that." After his comment he moved on the further assess the area, checking the place out, damage done.

"No, admittedly, we are in the middle of such an investigation. And I do not believe this would have anything to do with Malag'tel, though one never can tell," Cogliostro admitted. He takes another slight pause, glancing at the Githyanki. "If you don't mind, could you check for spectral resonance on the Astral?" While he waited on Bloodhorn, he decided to ask Xull'rae a question. "Saer Zauviir, does the Revenancer have a following of huge scale? I hadn't been aware that she'd have so many followers at her disposal that they could pull off a task this gargantuan."

Bloodhorn shrugged and closes his eyes but for a moment and then opens them and smiles as he shifts his body from the physical to the astral, and looks about the "roads, houses" and everything else walking around for a few minutes, examining.

"Yes she does," Xull'rae replied, "though it is not nearly as large as Lolth's, but her faction is bigger then the Dark Maiden’s and the Masked Lord combined."

The disguised malaugrym added his own thoughts to Xull'rae's own. "This wouldn't necessarily take a huge fighting force, human. I could've easily done the same, with less blood shed, of course. Unfortunately I was preoccupied with my own domain." He spoke occasionally, offering little tidbits of information as he came across it. "However.." his staff was planted into the ground as he dropped into a crouch, free, nimble digits sliding through the packed dirt. "It would appear that whatever dead were raised moved quickly, far too fast, and if able to move at this speed, would've made good time, to wherever there destination may be. Hmm.."

Bloodhorn returned with a shake of his head, looking at Cogliostro, "nothing...not even a trace…it had to have been a good while ago that it all happened, no traces."

Taking note that both accounts confirmed the same thing, Cogliostro continued forward. "Hm, so, the slaughter, animation, and summary advance of forces all happened with undue speed?"

Xull'rae nodded, peering at a blood splatter on the stone work, sniffing the air for anything fresh or unusual besides the smell of death and decay.

"I'll admit to not knowing the area well, though they are heading in an easterly angle, if anyone is more knowledgeable on the geography, we can perhaps make haste to the next town or what not, see if they saw anything, or perhaps joined the ranks of undead themselves," once again Sszordrin shrugged, he was very nonchalant, as if he had done or seen this sort of thing before.

"Yes, perhaps we will at that," Cogliostro said, "first, however, there was a specific thing that drew my attention here in the first place." A cursory glance is given to the malaugrym, perhaps as if he believed said shapeshifter was already aware of what he spoke. In either case, he turned and made his way straight up the street, rather than turn to the east.

Xull'rae followed, still sniffing the air occasionally.

Sszordrin straightened his position and began to follow to human, muttering something under his breath. Indeed he felt an item of the Shadow weave in the general vicinity and had gambled the bald one might not sense the same thing. Unfortunately, he was wrong.

Their travels carried them another two blocks, 'ere Cogliostro deviated off to the left, rounding the corner, arriving on one of the larger streets that ran counter to the one they had been on. Were they too close on his heel, one would run straight into his towering form, as with a slight skidding noise he came to an abrupt halt. A deep frown etched upon his features, he gazed for some long moments upon the building directly across the street...moreso upon the wafts of thick, black, seemingly gaseous shadowstuff. Though the substance poured from every window and doorway within the three story tall warehouse, it nonetheless dissipated less than a wagon's length from the building itself. Of life, or unlife, no sign could be detected by mundane means, and as it was such a pure concentration of Shadow Weave, his magesight could not glean further inward. That was one small tidbit he would not let the malaugrym find out. Not willingly, at any rate. "I'd hazard to guess this is what I had detected. Or, more to the point, that which lay within is what I had detected," he announced to everyone at last.

Xull'rae was no mage and was unaccustomed to the Shadow Weave, but she did catch the tension in the air from Cogliostro. She asked him, careful not to rile him this time, "I do have a simple question though human," She stopped abruptly as not to bump into him, being more agile and adaptable as if she expected him to do what he did, following his frowning gaze with her own cold stare of amber.

"Ask away," his orbs never shifted from the building beyond, though he tried to appear attentive enough otherwise.

"Why have a group come with you? I do not see us being much aid to you here. Besides it seems I am the only one who remains." She looks around for the githyanki, but did not find him, which she was glad of.

"Mm, you are not here to aid me. You are here to carry out the actual legwork, though it seems your companions have deserted you." His frown deepened as he realized the githyanki must have slipped into the Astral, with no intention of returning anytime soon.

"Deserted you, not I...I am fine alone." Xull’rae corrected him, sounding slightly amused, "they are your employees, so if they deserted me and were not supposed to, then they failed to heed you."

Cogliostro spoke softly, "mm, let us pray so. Then I can dock their pay or kill them. I'm sure the good Saer Xarann will let no harm befall you, as that would cause some bit of difficulty with your church, to be sure." He gave a look to the malaugrym though as if giving him a warning.

Her tone flat, Xull'rae sounded sour anyway, "like he cares.

Cogliostro tried to reassure the woman, but realized it was not really needed. It was obvious she was not afraid of the mage, though most would be. That's why he chose Xull'rae for this mission. She wouldn't and couldn't be bullied, "the bargain is a beneficial one to him, so he has good enough reason to keep his end up for the time being."

The Malaugrym didn't stop, instead he moved right past the human, a few feet ahead, he too, seemed rather intent, "there are a trio of dead within, fairly powerful, though that's all I can say for the moment, until we venture forth."

Cogliostro looks at Xull'rae in satisfaction as says with a grin, "ah, see, even now he offers to accompany you. Such as it were." Sszordrin didn't comment on the caring part, though the drowess pretty much said it.

Xull'rae's tone sounded skeptical as she spoke, "well hmm, I could try to turn them…I am cleric of extreme faith after all but not a very powerful one…yet."

Cogliostro snorted in reply and said dryly, "yes, turn them upon me, I'm sure. Carry on as you will."

Xull'rae sounded incredulous as she responded, "why would I do that? I have no reason to want you dead…well, okay, yes I do, but that’s not the point. You said you would benefit the church and I believe you for now." She stepped within, not really waiting for a reply, on her guard of course but clearly in the state of calm.

The malaugrym pushes forth as well, not as worried, but still aware of what they were walking into, he made sure to stay relatively close to the female, though not enough so to cramp her range of movement.

"Mm, very well," Cogliostro mused aloud as they disappeared into one of the doorways. While they did so, his frown deepened. He did not like it one bit that his magics would not penetrate the "cloud".

As the others proceeded inward, the black "smoke" proved to be no hindrance whatsoever to the malaugrym's vision, no hindrance in any way, matter of fact. Indeed, the malaugrym felt a certain surge of power come over his form as it seemingly crept into his very pores, infusing him with those oh so familiar energies. Xull'rae, however, found it a bit difficult to navigate through, her vision obscured, and a touch of "weakness" to overcome her very being. It was not a physical weakness, rather a seeming disconnection of sorts. A few moments thought would place it. Her touch with the Weave, that allowed her to access magic, was dampened.

Nostrils flaring, inhaling the blackened air within, Szordrin’s entire form felt strengthened in these surroundings, much like in his own realm -- That alone brought a hint of smile to the corner of tiers, yet it was more devious and sinister then that of happiness, his gaze sweeping over the area he asked Xull’rae, "shall I lead this little search?"

The sudden change unsettled Xull'rae briefly, as she was used to having keen eyesight, not blurred or the inner feeling of discomfort, it didn't pass nor could she shrug it off. Despite her non dependency of magic, she was still a creature of the weave and this disruption was irritating, making her dislike magic even more now. This setback however did not shake her confidence at all. She began to do disciplined mind exercises, setting up her kinetic control beforehand, letting her psionics help her to keep focused. Her reply to the malaugrym was a tone of utter disinterest. "If that's what you want to do, just be sure you can sense traps cause I ain't saving you if you get in one."

There was a low rumble building in his chest, chuckling somewhat. He believed her and while he was the stronger, she was the craftier though he would not admit it. Traps made him uneasy. She wasn't commanding him and he found that amiable in the woman. "Then by all means, lead us. I shall be right behind you if you require anything." He was sincere by virtue that she was now his shield. He wouldn’t kill her as long as she offered protection.

Xull'rae let his words ride off her like water on skin and pressed forward without a word, her senses in override. She knew her skills were being tested here, and her reckless nature and personal dislikes was pushed back for now.

Sszordrin hung back and let her run the show, being overly silent himself, the staff was kept carefully from the floor, as not to collide with it, his intentions a bit mixed, he wanted to learn what this was all about. He kept looking around, making sure they were heading in the right direction. As they pushed inward at a cautious pace, it became apparent that there were no mundane defenses or traps set up within the area. Save for a maze of overturned crates and pallets, it seemed as if whomever set this up had not foreseen nor planned for anyone to investigate. Mayhaps arrogance on their part, or perhaps something more, whatever the case, it did not take long for the pair to wind their way through that maze, which opened up into the vastness of the nearly empty building beyond that makeshift perimeter. Their journey had been hastened by virtue of the cloud moving in erratic rhythms, opening gaps through which the drowess had a few moments of clear vision. It was odd, as one moment the cloud seemed to drift naturally outward from the building, only to reverse direction abruptly in the next moment, as if it were struggling to escape, and something kept pulling it back.

Immediately upon entering the more or less empty area, the malaugrym could pinpoint the source...a large, sphere of complete darkness, emanating pure shadow weave energy. Around it stood three figures, their skeletal arms working in constant spell rhythms, lipless mouths uttering softly chanted incantations; liches, to all intents and appearances. It was still too clouded within for the drowess to make such out at the moment, however, by range of sight at least. But even she, with her keen drowic hearing, could pick up on the chanting.

Xull'rae stopped smoothly and stepped back nodding to the disguised malaugrym, as if to say this was his area of expertise and that she was more than ready to back him, for in her hand, seemingly out of nowhere was her dagger, the other held a short sword which was pulsing with energy, each held loosely but expertly, showing she was at ease but definitely ready to attack.

Szordrin made his way to the side of the drowess. It appeared she knew two weapon fighting, but it was odd that she did not have two of the same kind of weapon. He held up his free hand and extending his index finger as if to say 'One moment.' He appeared to be intent on what arcane phrases they were chanting, the globe itself was interesting sight, in fact, this entire area had caught his attention, from thousands vanishing, and now to this. Brows furrow in curiosity, he saw their intent, but waited.

The trio of casters continued unabated. Perhaps they had not sensed the two companions as of yet. But more likely, they had sensed them, but either dared not, or cared not to break their concerted efforts and continued chanting.

Being one to have a bad temper and a reckless nature, she still did not move. Content to wait and view her targets, for Xull'rae was well versed in combat more so than most females of her race. She knew once she entered combat, retreat she would not, so yes in this aspect she had patience. Drow did not survive by being stupid, they died that way.

The chant was easy enough to pick up on, were one to wait but a full minute, as it was a rather short and repetitive one. However, despite the lack of length, the words did not seem to lack of power. The malaugrym could most likely imitate their efforts with ease, but it would be beyond the drowess current ability to properly reproduce the power held within the chant.

It was then that Szordrin dropped his hand and began to move forward, closer toward the orb and the three undead that chanted around it. He began to mutter a gesture of his own, speaking to Xull'rae while doing so, "make this quick, I will continue where they left off, once they're dealt with." At least he made his intentions known, and he wasn't about wasting time, he made a swift gesture, more-so aiming at an individual figure, not wanting to damage the orb in question. From his finger-tips sprung a stream of fire, trusting the female to jump in on the other two.

Xull'rae also wasted no time, as soon as Szordrin's words left his mouth and the fire shot out from his fingers, she rushed at the two, throwing her dagger at one straight in front of her and jumped slashing her sword out with her arm to the one adjacent to her. The dagger would not miss, the sword stroke since she could not see was based on luck. The battle had begun.


There came no resistance, at least to the unleashed fire magic's. Apparently, the mystics had not foreseen the possibility that any would stand against them, and hence there were no protections lain. The first skeletal form was reduced to a smoldering pile of ash within a heartbeat; such was the intensity of the flames. The second creature fared no better, as the empowered dagger sprang to life, biting straight into the bone of its exposed skull, causing it to shatter as the blade continued onward toward the far wall. The remainder of that particular undead form fell to the floor in a series of echoing clanks. As they were dealing with liches, both the assailants were knowledgeable enough to know the creatures were not permanently destroyed, but for all intents and purposes, they had been removed from battle this day.

As Xull'rae struck out with her favored short sword however, it met mystical resistance, and glanced off its bones, a series of sparks were produced as sword and skeleton connected. The entire ambush caused this third being to falter in its duties, however, its fiery orbs spinning upon them mouth and hands already switching to spells of another form.

In the middle of her moves Xull’rae two began to mutter words of her own, though it was not magic she was using, not the arcane type anyway. A prayer uttered and a ray of searing light shot from her free hand where her dagger once had been, her hand then dipping inside her piwafwi to retrieve Vhaeraun's symbol which she kept close but hidden and attempted to take control of the undead while it was distracted.

Szordrin was intent at the outcome, being only one left, his attention was brought to the orb at hand. The shadowy substance next to him starting to condense and take shape, forming what would appear to be another 'him. Of course not clad in the finer garments, but for all intensive purposes, he pulled together a double, though he wouldn't be able to produce the chant till the last skeleton was gone.

With the abrupt cut off of the chant, some small bits of the smoke escaped from the orb 'ere the holes within its surface enclosed themselves. The remaining began to drift slowly outward once more. As for the third lich, one would never know if the drowess' spell would have had an effect, as the magics it had been casting were of a sort to whisk it to safety. It would appear that the creature had no real vested interest in the matter at hand or that it was simply intelligent enough to know when best to retreat. Whatever the case, it was no longer an issue, though perhaps it would come back in the near future.

The Malaugrym didn't bother to converse any further, positioning himself and the double on either side of the orb, outstretching hands, the chant he begun was the arcane magic of a time-stop spell, tainted with meta to make its usefulness tenfold, that is when he'd start repeating the same phrase the liches before him had done.

Xull'rae recalled her dagger immediately after the lich disappeared, muttering about leaving witnesses, sheathing her sword she also put away her symbol. Only the dagger remained out and on hand. She then turned to face the mage and waited more out of curiosity than anything.

Whilst the malaugrym's time altering spell was in effect, the drowess could do nothing else even if she wanted to. Then again, she would not even be aware that it ever occurred, should he not tell her when it was over. Whatever the case, nothing had impeded the malaugrym from carrying out his chosen task, in fact, until such time as the cloud of inky substance had fully been placed back into the orb, his efforts were strengthened; when the time came that the shadowstuff was encased fully within the sphere, the extra power that the malaugrym had felt dissipated slowly, perhaps leaving him longing for more. The orb, however, still radiated strong shadow magics.

On that note, his shadowy double dissipated with the remaining smokey essence, and then with innate will he brought forth his ability to harness telekinesis, and attempted to lift it from its nesting spot. The orb was lifted easily, much as any other object would, offering no resistance nor any particular helping in the matter. But a moment after it was lifted into the air, his time-stop spell was shattered and a familiar annoyance made his presence known to both, voice clear and commanding of tone, as if he were not asking, and would not let it hang as such, "ah, how kind of you to prepare it for me. I will take it from here, Saer Xarann." The human now stood some dozen feet from the pair, his hands hanging loosely at his sides, though there was an expectancy to his posture all the same.

"You may examine it, if you wish to follow into my plane of existence human, otherwise... finders keepers," his last comment of course full of sarcasm, Szordrin wasn't about to simply hand it over, not after putting all that effort into gathering it. He did have to keep his attention on the orb, and only gave the bald one a side-ways glance.

"You hand it to me now, and stand a good chance to get it back later. Or, I destroy it, and neither of us will ever glean anything about it. You are a scholar of sorts as well as me, so you realize what a waste that would be. The spell needs but a single trigger to go off, I am not so foolish as to have it unprepared, so do not think I bluff or jest." Though he was unsure if the magics in question would truly destroy the item, Cogliostro was sure in his ability to make the attempt in a timely manner.

""The question is, why you wouldn’t enter this fine establishment with us." The orb in question began a small spinning motion, moving closer to the human, but not at an overly fast rate, "how vulnerable would you be, if this by any chance blew up in your face, hm?" Szordrin chuckled, shrugging his shoulders. "It would be in your best interest to return this once you're done, do not think I am without my resources." That was simple enough, he felt he had need to use the human for a bit more information before making such a bold move, but he couldn't resist bringing it up in either case. He set the darkness at the bald ones feet.

Xull'rae stood silent through the test of wills and smirked. This was fun, however she offered no help but neither did she comment, she just bided her time if they happen to blow each other up, well dimension door were always handy. She was neither interested in the orb or their squabbling but at the thought of who would win.

Cogliostro would not deign to show even the slightest flinch at the malaugrym's threat, though he was momentarily unsure of just how weakened it would have made him to be fully encased within a cloud of that shadowstuff. As it stood, he waited until such time as the orb was settled, then he once again clasped his hands casually behind his back, and barked out a single word whilst turning to the nearest doorway. By the time he was fully spun about, two quick, consecutive flashes of energy had set upon the orb, causing it to disappear. Whether it was merely whisked away, or destroyed, could not be determined but after the statement the human had made, one could rest in assurance it still existed. As if done with the matter, the human called back to them, "now, we have an undead army to scour from the lands...or take control of for ourselves." He had already postulated what had occurred and how the orb had been used, even if they hadn't, but he was indeed eager to begin studying it for the other properties it may hold. As such, he would like to hasten this second venture.

Frowning ever so deeply, Cogliostro's oak-brown orbs squinting as he stared eastward into the encroaching brilliance of the moments just after dawn, his mind raced on all possible tidbits of lore he'd gone through over the decades. For the better part of an hour, all manner of tracking the undead horde, both mundane and magical, had been fruitless. True enough, earlier that morn, they had a visible trail which led to the eastern edge of the city and that trail had continued some quarter mile down the road, only to come to an abrupt halt. Quite literally, from the way the individual footprints were erratically situated, one would think the horde had come to a confused halt and that they perhaps milled about or gathered here before moving on. The problem was, there was no evidence of moving on, or of the horde turning back. No lingering magics of the translocation type were evident to those able to "read" such imprints, either. He himself had continued to delve ever deeper into the strands of Weave which pulsated in the area, whilst he had bidden the drowess continue forward a ways to try and pick up the trail again by means mundane. Of the malaugrym, he could only guess that the creature had moved forward in a manner more mystical, to perhaps scour the area some score or more miles away. Perhaps one of them could glean something. Taking note of the female's, humanoid silhouette now moving up the road toward him, he hoped that answer would come right now, as there were other matters to attend.

Xull'rae came back up the street, the sun to her back and an undead of her own creation in tow, where she found the means to animate it; of course it was a divine spell, but where did she find the means of getting bodies was unknown. In any case she approached the human with a shaking of her head that she found nothing in the ways of where they went. "Perhaps I can use this one to 'track or follow' the others," she said.

Cogliostro shook his head smothering impatience, "mm, I'm thinking that's not exactly the horde we were looking for." He took note of the roughly two dozen zombies; all animals readily found within the forest that stood to either side of the road as he mused aloud. The frown softened slightly as he offered a nod, figuring her plan may have a bit of merit, especially since all other options thus far had been exhausted. But the frown deepened again as she stopped, and the animals stopped short in her wake as well, standing idly as any animated minion would do.

The Malaugrym didn't say much either upon his return, simply because he couldn't discern the situation, he only deduced that magic was used in this transaction, but he had assumed that everyone could've figured that out by now. A free hand came to rest beneath the other upon his staff, awaiting things to play out a little more, Xull'rae's plan was better then the nothing they were working with.

"Maybe relinquish control of them?" Cogliostro offered as he studied the waiting undead.

"That's what I was thinking and then follow where they go," Xull'rae said nodding to herself, giving the correct commands. Hoping the gems she used to animate these stupid things would not be wasted.

Again Cogliostro nodded, then glanced in Szordrin's general direction, taking note that the disguised malaugrym was a little ways off. As such, he spoke fairly loudly in order to be heard. "And you, Saer Xarann, are there no lingering traces of translocational magic within the area's Shadow Weave?" He had asked earlier, and the malaugrym had curtly replied there was not, but he would ask again anyway.

Xull'rae looked over at the animated animal behind her. One not released from her control yet. It was a small creature that looked like it had wings when it lived, with a beak and scrawny legs with three toes. Surface creatures sure are unique and strange compared to the Underdark, she thought as she was waiting for the two to make a decision.

With a small hand gesture, Cogliostro urged the drowess to carry out her plan whilst he awaited an answer from the malaugrym. He only asked because one could not fully trust the creature of shadow. Perhaps now, with no answers apparent to any, said creature may offer up a more honest answer than last time. If that were possible.

She said a short phrase and her finger pointed at the creature, releasing the hold on it, actually expecting it to fall apart in a pile of bones.

Szordrin couldn't help but chuckle under his breath. Of course as the human once again questioned him, at least he was smart enough not to trust, which would've become a mistake one might regret. He replied like before, "no, human. There is nothing to that effect here. The Drowess has the best solution this time, so I say we follow her lead."

Cogliostro was scowling now and muttered, "mm, very well." He did not seem fully satisfied, but he would have to take it as the truth. Sometimes he detested the fact he could not manipulate and read the Shadow Weave as fluidly and easily as he did the Weave. A quick nod was offered to the malaugrym, then he looked to Xull’rae once more, taking the fact that the minuscule undead had not moved as a sign she had not yet fully relinquished them, "have you finished?" he asked irritably.

Xull'rae nodded in reluctance and said sullenly, "yes. She sighed a little in irritation that the only high spell she could cast was apparently wasted, not to mention the gem she had used as a component.

At her response, a single brow arched in question and consternation, with a bit of expectancy within as well. For several long moments, Cogliostro gazed upon the nearly immobile, mindless creatures, waiting. Apparently, it wasn't working as planned, which caused his scowl to almost settle into a full thunderhead. "Bah," he spat, more than irritated but not quite reaching the anger point.

"Have you felt along the area for a secret door or wall of illusion? Secret doors don't HAVE to be magical or have magic wards on them." Xull'rae asked, getting a little irritated herself.

"Of course I checked the area, they stopped in the middle of the damnable road. No place for a mundane exit to be hidden and mundane means would have left a trail," He snapped in reply. He was a bit impatient at this point, more frustrated at his own inability to discern what happened than theirs. A theory had already been postulated within his mind as to how the horde was created, which he would test later, but that had nothing to do with how said horde disappeared.

Xull'rae unsheathed her short sword and offered up another idea. "Then lets see if the magic on this can track them." She knew it was useless, but they had to try something. Failure stuck more than one nerve within her. "It pulsed back there when we fought the liches maybe there are still traces, I dunno I don't dabble in it…maybe an inanimate object has a better chance then something intelligent and a will of its own."

Szordrin's patience was also wearing thin, but seeing the human in such a frustrated moment was well worth it, in the simple fact that he was showing it. There was even a hint of smile touching the corner of ebony lips, he simply stood and waited, though he didn't do anything. He continued to see if he could sense anything, even the smallest bit of magical activity in the area.

The scowl faded some from Cogliostro as it curled now much as the malaugrym's lips had just done, taking note of the thinly veiled questioning of said creature's abilities by the drowess. "Perhaps," he said. It was interesting that Xull’rae could soothe as much as she could irritate on a whim. Chaotic to a degree, but in reality it was the duality of her lifestyle. There was a certain rhythm to her. She decided when to act on this or that but it wasn’t impulse that made her this way. She never chose a side, instead she carefully chose who she would work with and who she would pit against and then when the opportunity came she would put one side against the other, but she seemed to do this only when either side did not fit her wants and needs. It was evil but effective, and he grinned knowing that she did this often and he fell for it every time. She played on his faults, utilized them and sprung her trap to ensnare him and each time she became successful. He did not entirely feel like the fool, his only consolation was the fact that she did the very same to the malaugrym. It was then he realized what she was trying to do so subtly. She was trying to get them both to fight, so at least one, if not both of them would be destroyed. It was so simple that it was easily overlooked and that made it a genius plan. He knew she would continue it and that if he didn’t want to fall prey to her design that he would have to work on his hot headed temper and weaknesses. The more he thought on it, the more he saw the trap was fool proof. She would turn them against each other but neither he nor the malaugrym would team up against the red head for the simple fact that both disliked working together, could never agree on anything, and both had a pact to Vhaeraun to uphold if they wanted to achieve their personal goals. She weaved a very good web, better than his own and if added more she would find something to out do him every time unless he could surpass his teacher, but that would have to be dealt with later in the present they had a puzzle to solve.

At this point, the malaugrym's scanning efforts proved of some use, however. Within the confines of the building the two had laid "siege" upon earlier, there came the distinct signature of shadow weave magic's springing to life, though none of any epic scales to be sure. Szordrin scried a little further and detected a handful of humanoid creatures, all living and all drow, two females and four males, to be exact. If the human had detected it as well, no sign was shown. His gaze settled upon the Drowess and her black sword, giving it some thought.

Szordrin's brows furrow, at this new little insight, he idly turns and begins to head off in the direction of said building, whether they were to follow or not was all up to them, he did however cast a glance over his shoulder to see if that were the case. "The Drowess was right, there seems to be something going on, shall we?"

As of the current moment, the sword had done nothing whatsoever, other than sit idly within her grasp, "hm?" Cogliostro questioned and finally took note that the malaugrym had wandered away, and with purpose, his mind reached out to find what the shadowed one was speaking of. The search was fruitless for himself, though he would not admit to such right now.

Xull'rae shrugs at Cogliostro, as if she didn't care but she didn't put the weapon away though as she followed the disguised malaugrym. Cogliostro followed too, acting like he knew their destination, of course.

Progressing forward, their steps brought them ever closer to the warehouse from whence they had come but an hour earlier. The malaugrym's continued scrying revealed much as before, six drowic figures searching the building's confines for clues as to what happened, and the current whereabouts of the both the lost orb, and the missing liches.

Xull'rae kept silent much like her movements while waiting for the malaugrym to give more clues on who or what they were tracking.

"There are six figures within, and seem to be searching for something, probably the Orb which the human took," Szordrin muttered, casting an absent glance over one lean shoulder. "They also appear to be Drow, so perhaps it'd be best if you deal with them, in a nonviolent manner, perhaps even found out there motives." Of course he was speaking to the female.

Xull'rae chuckled dryly and responded, so kill them by striking one blow to the head and dispose of the bodies…got it, that's as nonviolent as I get. Anything less would be talk and leaves an opening for them to kill me."

At Xull'rae's words, Cogliostro could not help but release a dry chuckle of his own, "that's drow for you." He shook his head ruefully.

"You're talking about one drow against six or seven I'm good, real good. I could take at least three maybe four but not all of them," Xull’rae admitted reluctantly. Her hooded head swiveled to look at Sszordrin as she commented, "apparently the human is not the only being here that needs to learn about drow and how we deal with our kind when they are intruding. Geez you think that an evil such as yourself would understand and be smarter than that." Of course she was being demeaning, her tone dripping scorn but really, for all his intelligence the malaugrym was being stupid. Diplomacy indeed!

"I see, if that be the case, then how about I waltz in there and distract them? Then you can take care of how ever many you choose from the shadows, and I'll mop up the rest." Szordrin shrugged, it didn't matter to him how they went about doing this, he simply thought they may be her 'kin' or what not. He ignored her demeanor, it irritated him but he could not strike at her for telling the truth. Well, he could but why endanger his relations with her colleagues. Besides she was an interesting study. It was too bad his race was restricted in their breeding selection. He had to guide this one with subtly and calm. "I would like at least one alive, preferably the leader so I can properly extract any sort of information that may come up."

Xull'rae sounded perplexed and confused with but her face shadowed by the hood it was hard to see her expression. "I thought you just said you wanted me to find out their motives, killing them would glean nothing.. I mean I have no problem killing them." When she heard his added suggestion she shrugged but sounded skeptical, "well all right but you are awful confident. You really shouldn't underestimate a pack of drow working together. Especially if two or more of them are wizards or priests."

Cogliostro couldn't help but allow traces of wry amusement to settle upon his features as they continued forward. For now, he was content to remain silent, as they were talking enough for all three, even if they were whispering.

Xull'rae continued undaunted that they were delaying in their tasks. She was huddled close and whispering the whole time. So it wasn't like she was drawing attention upon them all. "We drow don't live on confidence alone. We live by understanding our prey and their weaknesses. We know nothing of these drow yet, so we'll plan upon seeing them. Keep in mind most drow, ninety percent of us are extremely venerable to light…so any spells dealing with that is good to use."

Despite her imparting extremely useful information, information Szordrin planned to tuck away and use later. He was nonetheless irritated that the woman considered him less than what he was. "I can remove a city of drow with a single spell, I'm not overly worried about a small pack." He very nearly sneered, he was overconfident, one of his many flaws. Not that he had reason not to be, a stark white brow arched at her words, nodding ever so slightly as he replied in a slight clipped tone, "we'll go in as you see fit, though I can't guarantee how long they'll wait around, so state your plan. Light isn't my forte so we'll need to come up with something else."

So the malaugrym bluntly stated a weakness, even though it was an obvious one. Anger could do that, cause unwanted and unexpected slips of the tongue. Xull'rae kept that minor detail close. She would certainly use it to her advantage later. She grunted and said, "yeah right and my ass is white…just keep moving mage and keep in mind what I just said."

Speaking of which," Cogliostro mused softly, glancing upward towards the ever brightening sky. "I doubt they'll want to come out of the warehouse at this juncture, they will probably summon along slaves very soon to scour the city," again his visage was etched with humor, but he fell silent, not goading the "argument" further.

"Then by all means, ladies first," Sszordrin swept his free arm in a long, drawn out gesture, unable to stifle the dry chuckle that came along afterwards. "Unless you want to go about this another way, simply remember to keep the apparent leader of the group alive, it matters not how maimed, battered or bruised, as long as he or she is still breathing, I can do my part."

Xull'rae drew her cowl further over her face, the closer she got to the warehouse, the more she kept in the darkness making sure to blend in, knowing it wouldn't do much but it was something. She was totally ignoring the malaugrym apparently.

For Cogliostro's part, there was not but a casual gait towards the building, which was now in full view, hands clasped idly behind his broad back as most times. He, too, tended to be overzealous, and for the moment there seemed no real threat to his person, other than the vague possibility of his "allies" turning on him suddenly. Now that the cloud of shadowstuff was gone, he could concentrate his energies properly not that it had done much good yet, as something still blocked him from scanning the creatures within the building. That should cause him to be a bit more wary and cautious, but he was currently attributing that to a possible residual shadow curtain within the warehouse itself.

Xull'rae looked for other openings besides the obvious to go into the warehouse. She WAS a thief and didn't want to be so obvious. By whatever means the group comes to view the interior over the coming moments, they all gleaned the same scene; two highly angered females, obviously the dominant ones, berating and ordering about the four males, who in turn were partaking of a vain search. All were cloaked in black leather armors for the most part, nothing much distinguishable, save for the metallic symbols adorned by both females, in a shape reminiscent of those who venerate Kiaransalee, the Revenancer. After summarily beating each male quickly, they, ushered said male's off once again, and began arguing amongst themselves. The taller of the two, and the uglier, spoke first, what good does it do that we were successful in our experiment, if the center piece is missing?! I told you not to entrust those wretched human undead to guard it by themselves!" She looked as if she were about to brandish the dagger clenched ever so tightly within her left fist upon her companion female, such was her anger. However, that did not cause the second, smaller female to flinch in the slightest. Though she too could have turned her own anger back upon the taller, she instead remained in a cool, calm demeanor as she replied, "rather than spew vile comments, and spittle, upon me further, perhaps you should organize your underlings and begin a broader search. As it stands, we are not even aware if the Horde was successfully siphoned into the orb as planned." At this, she turned dismissively, taunting her companion to stab at her back, knowing the other would not dare so even angered as she was. "I go now to summon my own minions." A momentary touch upon the medallion hanging from her neck, and she was gone from the scene. The other female was left in a huff, scowling furiously, muttering epitaphs and promises of a dark nature under her breath. As for the three figures spying upon the scene, two of them were standing near one of the entrances, one already having gone further within than the others, leaving them to stand idle in the shadows. They could all still discern that the second female, and the four males, were currently within the building. As for the malaugrym's magic means of scrying, he picked up on other life forms than the ones in mundane view. That is, until the telltale signatures of another translocation spell burst upon the scene, this one detected by the human as well, his brawny form spinning suddenly to glance out the doorway to the well lit street beyond, catching sight of a familiar figure, that of a confused Horock, whom he had sent away nearly two hours ago. After a moment, he also caught sight of a cowled figure standing some dozen steps behind Horock, short of stature, and seemingly male, though the face was of course concealed. The malaugrym, already having his senses magically altered, would be the first to take note of the fact that Horock was visible to his magesight as usual, but the second figure was not. It was as if he did not exist in that aspect.

Horock looked around, confused, seeing where he was. As he stepped out of the portal, he fell immediately to the ground, not used to transportation spells. All he could do was lay there, and try to figure out where he was and why. He had been transported back to the inn. However, he had no idea WHY he was back here once again. It had been a total surprise once again, and as he began to get up, if he wasn't pissed before, he sure was now. He had no idea what to do with himself. He sat up quietly, spotted Cogliostro, and began to get up, attempting to demand why he was once again here.

From her perch on a window ledge, Xull'rae heard the entire conversation clearly, hoping the others did as well. Being attune to magic as she was and graced with fine good hearing, a portal was set off, and Horock's voice was heard, which immediately made her jump soundlessly from the window and moved too quickly to be spotted by those in the warehouse at least. She scurried behind the next building, to get a better view of what was going on. It was there she saw Horock and the cloaked figure, being of one of extremely good memory she studied the "assailants" cloak to see if she could remember who wore it maybe the color, body language she was good at reading. It was a cloak of deepest blue hue, one she had viewed before, in the softly illuminated chamber which rested in the bowels of the Tower. She viewed it but once, however that was more than enough to remember the identity of the bearer.

His attention on Cogliostro at the moment, placing the new figure to his rear, Horock was as yet unaware of the figure, but should he turn, he too would recognize the figure, as he was attendant at said meeting as well.

Oh these two Rivven, the human and malaugrym are COMPLETE idiots! Underestimate drow would they? Well, hopefully they both get their asses kicked from this one, next time maybe they would listen to me more, She thought, but her only concern was Horock because she knew who the figure was and could guess what he was capable of and was not sure the Vhaeraunite could escape the danger he now faced.

Horock finally decides to take a look around. He turns his head takes an inventory of where is at.

The malaugrym was one with the shadows, and thus began to quietly stalk further within the warehouse, his staff hoisted up and over one shoulder, careful not to hit it against the various objects laying about, it would've been all too easy to leap out and start taking care of business. Though information was much juicer when they had an unnoticed audience.

"Fine time for you to slink off like a coward, Malaugrym," Cogliostro cursed softly under his breath as his thoughts raced upon a way out of the current predicament. The cloaked figure was now familiar to himself as well, and he knew better than to think he had a snowball's chance in hell of defeating the bearer right now. So, he'd have to play this by ear. "Horock, I'm going to assume you aren't here of your own volition. Just a little advice...stand down for the moment." His thoughts were given as to summoning his vaunted Moonblade, but he decided against it at the moment, as he would not initiate combat unless the cloaked one did so first.

Xull'rae on the other hand kept behind a building to keep her eye on the blue cloaked figure that was Malag’tel her mind racing on ways to get Horock out of harms way…just in case he couldn't on his own.

Horock heard a strange voice in his head, or thought it was in his head, though it sounded far away. Upon looking around, noticed that one of the drow from the meeting with the Shadow Sorcerer was behind him. He knew that he was in trouble at that exact moment. Instead of being stupid and shooting off his mouth, he slowly began to get up, making sure that the cloaked figure could see both of his hands, and that they were indeed empty. He did not want to appear threatening in any way, shape or form. He had no desire for his life to end. Once he reached his full height, he began to slowly and non-threateningly began to walk slowly away. He was looking around, trying to figure out if he had any allies here, and where here was exactly.

"No need to fret over my presence, human," a darkly humored chuckle emitted from beneath the cowl, "in fact, none of you, at this moment in time, a simple, off-handed wave was issued, both Drazoul and Alena appearing beside where Horock was now slowly walking in the aftermath, pulled from the once safe haven of the Inn without the slightest bit of effort, "have anything to fear me, at least not now. We are allies, are we not?" In a twisted way, he was correct. The cloaked one was an ally and ambassador of Shar, in relations with the Tower of the Masked Mage. That tied him to Xull'rae, Horock, and even the Malaugrym and Cogliostro through yet more relations. As for the other two, Alena and Drazoul, perhaps they had not caught on yet that he was the one who implemented them as "keyholders" some three centuries in the past. That was their tie to him. A bow was offered to all, the hood sliding back a tad as his head was lifted once again, the large, jagged scar which ran the width of his face evident for but a moment. It was soon concealed by virtue of the fact the skin upon that uncomely visage began to smolder when the sun's rays touched it. Quickly the hood was pulled back into its proper position.

A hint of smile graced the shadowy ones tiers as he saw the scene fold out, Szordrin didn't necessarily flee the scene, simply took a detour around it, but at the same time had a very nice vantage point as everything played out, though he didn't quite like what he heard, there was something going awfully astray, with that, his dull crimson orbs formed more of a squint, listening to what everyone else was to say in this situation.

The fact that all the Keyholders were now present did not escape her notice, but Xull’rae stayed where she was. She did not fear Malag'tel but she was smart and knew at this time she could do nothing to him, and wasn't even about to try. He was not like Cogliostro, She DID want to live a little longer, besides like it or not he was ally for now.

It took Drazoul a moment to digest the person who had a scar but he indeed realized who it was. This was the one who had destined his life to a quest that was not even his by choice. He would have attacked the scarred one but didn't for two reasons; if this was the one who had indirectly defeated the Malaugrym who was very powerful and second, Drazoul would most likely need him. He would die trying anyway, so he just stood alert.

As soon as Alena materialized, she looked around, disoriented. She spotted a scarred male drow, and looked at him in contempt. She did not know who he was, but her deep dislike for all males was definitely coming through. She looked all around the area, saw Drazoul standing next to her, and Horock, who she could kind of count as a friend, despite her feelings of superiority, she felt for him. She turned to the one that had spoken, and stood there, tapping her foot, waiting impatiently as to why she had been brought here.

Not caring that he intruded upon her thoughts, Cogliostro responded to Alena's unasked query. You are simply insurance, more or less. His gaze never left that of the blue-clad figure as he spoke to the cowled drow, "if you are not here to act against us, then why? Are you here simply to gloat?" It was also hypothesized that the vaunted Malag'tel was in need of information. Such as whether or not the "keys" were still in place, and whether or not the enchantments would still prove fruitful against the malaugrym.

Malag'tel replied smoothly, "no, actually, I have business to attend here. If you would all step aside, the one I seek is inside." Something akin to a cheerful smile flashed beneath the cowl's confines.

Xull'rae spoke up from her position, "I doubt it baldy. It's obvious why he's here…at least partially. Nice to see you again by the way blue eyes." She steps into full view, still swathed in her dark piwafwi cowled similar to him and her tone was courteous.

"Ah, Red, how pleasant to see you again," the smile was turned briefly in her direction, then he proceeded towards the entrance in which the malaugrym had disappeared, his stride casual.

Xull'rae continued speaking, "if you're looking for the group in there, one is left and if it's the orb you seek it's not here either."
She was being truthful in the hopes to distract him.

Malag'tel chuckled, he did like Xull'rae she was full of spirit. Who could not admire that? "Yes, I know. Thank you all the same."

Now that he could see he had some allies, Horock turned toward the others asking, "The the Hell are you talking about?"

The malaugrym was overconfident, yet not entirely foolish. However, he appeared at the very same doorway the cloaked figure was moving toward, the edge of the staff idly planting itself into the ground, his eyes were mere slits, truthfully, he could feel a certain power radiating from that one, something more fearsome then his own, which irritated him to no end.

"Ah, so they do I thought you had all become Mutes or cowards. That would never do." The smile faded as Cogliostro glanced first at Horock, then at Drazoul and Alena in turn as he walked by.

"Very well, only trying to help an ally. Xull'rae shrugs and steps away. Not in the least bit disappointed that it did not work, it was a halfhearted attempt on her part. She had no desire to work with him at all, but that did not say she would deliberately anger him.

Alena didn't really react to what was being said; she simply stood there, awestruck at Horock's apparent stupidity. While Drazoul kept calm and surveyed the whole scene more thinking of strategies in case the whole place went vicious.

For Cogliostro, there was silent frustration. A soft scowl settled upon his features for a moment once more, then he took it on faith that the venerable drow would have no real reason to kill the ones who held the enchantments, so his expression eased into a mere frown. When he caught sight of the malaugrym in the doorway, that frown actually curled into traces of a wry grin, thoughts of what may transpire creeping to the fore. As it stood, he could not see any reason to stand up for the malaugrym should worse come to worse. So, he would simply enjoy the show, if one were to be presented.

Despite the centuries of experience under his belt, and the fact he was one of the most powerful mortals in existence, there was an involuntary twitch which ran unnoticed through his form upon seeing the malaugrym. Even disguised in drowic form, Malag'tel could see the truth beneath, and all those years of tortured slavery at this malaugrym's hands had left their legacy. He quickly turned that twinge of loathing and momentary fear into the fuel for his anger and sense of vengeance. He came off as nothing but charming and friendly as he stopped but a few steps away from the malaugrym. Another involuntary movement had been made before he spoke, though, a light brushing of his fingers upon the scar which ran the breadth of his countenance. That too was part of the legacy, the wound received in the battle for freedom from the Malaugrym some eons back. Again, he allowed fear to pervert itself into something else, this time contempt. The Malaugrym should have made sure he was dead when that battle was over, "ah, so good to finally meet you Archmage Xarann. I have heard much praise of you at the Tower."

Xull'rae watched the two powerful mages, one drow and one posing as one, lock gazes. She bit back a sigh, loosing her edge and wanting to leave now before things exploded in a wave of arcane energy. "Well human if I'm not needed here would you be kind to teleport me back the inn perhaps? I do have better things to do than watch on oncoming fight…"

Despite the difference in power, Szordrin still came off cocky and otherwise dominate. His crimson orbs, which now glinted a yellowish tint turned to stare right into his adversary’s eyes, tiers curling into what would appear to be a smile as he responded in silky tones, "yes, my greatest task so far has been to baby-sit." Of course, that was full of sarcasm, but he continued, this time casual, "though, I will continue to offer my services, till their end is taken care of." He took one step off to the side, then begin to move toward his group, casting one last glance over his shoulder saying almost absently, "Nasty scar..." He didn't know for sure at first, who he was dealing with, but there were certain signs. He figured provocation was a feasible way to find things out.

"All I really want to do is to go home and rest and continue to prepare for my mission," Alena said with the smallest traces of anger evident in her voice. She knew why she was here, but she didn't want to be here right now. She scowled at the man, who she still did not know, and looked over at the bald one, and demanded, "If you don't need me here, would you kindly teleport me back to the inn? Thanks, I appreciate it." With that, she crossed her arms and looked at Cogliostro impatiently, waiting for him to let her go back so that she could continue to plan and plot her revenge.

Drazoul found some of this comical but he also was worried if the malaugrym killed the scarred one, would he would lose a serious lead to many unanswered questions? He turned towards Alena and Horock he respected their methods for answers but it would just not do in this situation. "Now, now, you drow show a little patience if you still want to have heads on your necks." He knew Horock would not get offended as Drazoul often teased him but he was truly curious to see if Alena would actually act in this open area where one sudden motion could be the end of you. But more so the feared Xull'rae, he knew she might get angry and if she did, he was dead. But how far could he push them how far could he play with the drow. Perhaps only time would tell. But he knew that these small outbursts would serve its purpose for he did not know much about either drowess who he was allied with and if he wanted to survive it was best to know their moves and motives.

Yes," Horock said, all that sarcasm in his voice that usually accompanied his demeanor, "I would love to be excused, that is if I am no longer needed," he said, looking at Malag'tel. He now knew who he was, and why they were all here. A part of him wanted to stay, but for some reason, he felt very... uneasy. He supposed that is what the word would be. He did not know why, but he did. He had not felt like this in, oh ages. He thought, why would a simple drow man make me have this huge feeling of unease? Is it because of how we are connected, through the seals? Or is it something deeper, something much more difficult to fathom and understand? He still looked around, a trifle nervous now, expecting to be attacked any moment. Oh well, he decided, he would be ready if he was attacked. "Yes, I would like to leave. I am going. I will see you all back at the inn. Draz, if you would like, you are more then welcome to come along." And, with that, he began to walk away, into the shadows, attempting to get away from this feeling of anxiousness that was troubling him so much.

"Boy do I know how to create a trend..." Xull'rae commented dryly. She was waiting on Cogliostro's reply still. The snake man would have to delve deeper to know "the Xull'rae's" moves, she was of the complicated and unpredictable sort…even now her mood had shifted again.

"Mm, yes, there is no reason for you to be here now, I believe your usefulness to the good Saer Blue-cloak is at an end." Cogliostro did not take his gaze from the malaugrym even once. "Take the road east, out of the city. Someone will meet you soon enough to make an extraction." The reply was intended for any who wished to depart.

Drazoul grinned as no response came from the drowess. He was pleased that his ally's were no fools when it was important matters. With that he followed after Horock without a word. Alena actually made a hasty move to keep up with the other two males without a backward glance. She was on the verge of running.

For a moment, Malag'tel's anger had almost gotten the better of him, but then he fought it down. HE was the superior now, not the malaugrym, and he would not let said creature of shadow think otherwise.

"Thank you, ta ta gentlemen…Do try to be civil...and remember its not like drow to kill each other so bluntly, even though I know you're not drow, Malaugrym, I know both of you are more creative…yes?" Xull'rae said in amused departure.

"True enough, Red," Malag’tel offered her a friendly wave and finished with, "at least I have proven creative down the years. Quite the trap I concocted. Too bad the insignificant bitch Mystra had to go and get herself killed back in the day; else the trap would still be in effect." Malag'tel never took his eyes off the malaugrym. One had to indeed wander at the drowess' motives with what she had just spoken, perhaps it was to avoid them killing each other for later use, perhaps it was to kill them both off by provoking them further, or even an honest truth to remind him of his roots. Whatever her reason, she truly started to leave the scene. Oh how he loved her line of thinking, he loved figuring out puzzles. He hoped he wouldn't have to kill her later.

"I made an agreement, and I will adhere to it, there will be no blood shed by me today, unless I am provoked to do so. My business lay elsewhere," with that said, Malag'tel turned towards them all and nodded his head, then spun back and entered the shadowy doorway. Before fully disappearing, he called back to the human. "You can keep the orb, by the way, study it or whatever. It is of little significance in and of itself. The purpose has been served." He had to chuckle at that, knowing the human would not be able to discern much of anything about it, as it was too infused with pure shadowstuff.

Pearly whites became visible as Szordrin began to make a fast stride in the opposite direction. He had held his pride for this very moment. His gaze swayed from the human, then around to the doorway awaiting. He wasn't totally without his devious plans, it only did take a matter of seconds, till he was fully satisfied that he was within the allowance. The set trap to spring to life, he didn't expect the demise of Malag'tel himself, aiming more along the lines of those within, or whatever he wanted in there, just to spite the more powerful foe. One attuned to magical properties would feel a tremendous surge of pure shadow-weave energy, yet there was also something overly vile about it, which made it all the more deadly. Now for the eye-candy, there was not only one, or two, but three delayed fireballs scattered throughout the inside, all blowing simultaneously for a rather potent explosion, ripples of purplish -- black energy cascading from the site, seemingly incinerating whatever was inside, and that was the least of it. Debris and rubble from the surrounding buildings began to crack and flew hazardously in the opposite direction, as the force behind the blast was just as powerful as the magic itself. When it was all said and done, there was little more then a smoldering crater left in his wake, and low and behold, the malaugrym himself had vanished, probably returning his home plane.

Xull'rae had stopped, seeing the malaugrym skitter off a few paces and that's all she saw next. Smoke filled the area now and a big crater size hole was in the ground. She sounded disappointed and, not in the least bit shaken that she nearly was blown up, "fireballs...always fireballs. Gods be damned fucking fireballs…what is creative about that? It's so over used you'd think lightening or acid would AT LEAST be different. Disappointed I am Malaugrym, totally disappointed..."

A scrutinizing gaze fell upon the malaugrym for a moment from Cogliostro, then he got the gist of the situation, that something big was about to happen. When it did happen, he barely had time to erect a barrier in front of himself and Xull'rae to stop any such debris and backlash from hitting them. He cursed softly whilst watching the scene unfold, and when naught was left but that smoldering crater, he glanced around, taking note that the malaugrym had slunk off yet again. "Mm, well, it is effective," he mentioned to Xull’rae. He too once had a penchant for fireballs in times not so long past. "At any rate, this is over with for now. I don't see Malag'tel either, but I'm sure he survived." He was a little off balance that she so calmly faced death just then without so much as a flicker of an eyelash. He faced death many times but never as still as what she just had displayed. He could tell she absolutely no fear when it came to death.

Xull'rae looked up at the force field, her face soft and lovely as she looked up. Her smile knew and that was all. "Thank you baldy I knew you would," she snickered and patted his arm, to say she found that funny but also possibly to say thanks but who really knew but her?

He gave her a look indicating that he indeed was not sure how to take it then he heaved a simple sigh outward, and turned to stride away after those who left already, heading eastward. "Yes he survived…to be sure he shall we go?" Xull'rae asked as she kept pace with him when he moved.

It was then that Cogliostro took note that the blast crater was some three blocks in radius. A small "hmph" was issued, the only acknowledgment that he'd give to show he was impressed. Crunching through the still hot rubble and ash, he made sure to maintain the temperature beneath the drowess' feet to a comfortable and safe one. "Oh yes, that we shall. You and I have more business to discuss when you get the chance. Along the lines of what I mentioned earlier."

Xull'rae chuckled taking note the ground felt normal, when it should have been hot, but one thank you was enough as she said, "you mentioned many lines…I suppose I have time, I was just hoping to get a hot bath and some prayer in before I continue in my duties."

Cogliostro nodded and sounded almost wistful, "mm, a bath, that is a thought I'm not averse to right about now." He paused for a moment, wishing to purge worries and doubts about the future for now, allowing traces of a grin to etch themselves upon his features before continuing, "so, your place or mine?" He even nudged her suggestively.

"Yours of course, that way I can drain you of money." Xull'rae replied matter of factly. She did not seem the least bit concerned, in fact she seemed grimy, fussy and bored. She even let him nudge her, to which she elbowed him in the stomach.

"Ahh, an enterprising little one you are...." He grunted and huffed as she elbowed him none to gently, he was lucky he didn't get the dagger. He allowed a short chuckle to escape 'ere he summoned up the magic's to whisk them away.

Xull'rae's fading words were, "of course I can't believe you expected less!" Her snickering carried on the morning breeze as they disappeared.

Interrupt the Bard -or- let her continue