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Into the Black - CTS part 1

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This is a CTS (continue the story) where the story is being told by multiple authors. It was open at first but now the four of us are sometimes writing it by playing it out in IM's etc.. If you're interested though please let us know as we can probably work more people in. This is set in kind of a modified Norrath from Everquest 2. We each are using only one main character and kallysti is the DM sorta, guiding the tale. Some info and pics on the main characters can be found here. There's alot that's been posted so I'm going to split this into pieces. Cross posted to Twinked.org, nodramatheatre, and musepaper in an effort to keep this from getting lost and allowing more people to enjoy it. Authors are noted in bold at the start of their piece.

By kallysti
"Just bring it back to me. Then you will know the truth."

The words echoed through the young bard's head as he angrily pushed open the door to the tavern. The familiar smells and babble of voices for the busy place was like coming home again. So long on the road, and only this night before setting out again, he sighed.

"Hey, handsome. What'll it be?" asked a voice to his right. He turned and had to look up a little to meet the eyes of the curly-headed barmaid who addressed him. She looked harried and tired but her smile was genuinely glad to see him.

"The usual please, Gwen. But make it a double, it's going to be a long night," he smiled back, putting on a pleasant face: she didn't deserve this foul mood he was in. Nobody did. That was why he hoped to drown it... and maybe find some help for this fool's errand that Dylana was sending him on. He scanned the room skeptically and sighed. He'd definately be needing help, probably condemning whoever came along, he figured. So the little half elf didn't know who he'd be wishing it on yet.

By Wychwethl
The Kerra leaned easily in his chair, his long arms stretching out across his table to engulf the large pitcher of water sitting on the table between his muscled limbs. His hands, gloved in what appeared to be stange metal wraps that fitted to his furred hands as tight as a leather glove might. The golden-hued metal glittered lightly in the dim light of the bar, mimicking the stark orange of his striped fur, the candle light dancing across the polished finish of the hand adornments.

He sat with an ease that suggested he was no stranger to bars, but the simple, loose fitting and light monks clothing he wore indicated he hadn't frequented such establishments in a long time. His entrance had drawn more than a few glances, the presence of a monk always stymied the possibility of a brawl... unless the drinks had been flowing particularly well that night.

Truth be told, Toeii hadn't planned on visiting such a place ever again, they reminded him too much of home. He hadn't anticipated having to track a target here, someone his order wanted brought back to the temple soon. Someone important enough to call Toeii back from action against the Nightblood. He had learned a great deal of patience in his days of training, however the long wait and the awkward looks of the waitress when he ordered only water was trying even his monkish reserves of calm.

He eyed the new comer, the half-elf standing at the bar warily for a few moments before returning to his contemplations of the accuracy of the information he had been given.

By kallysti
Gwen returned quickly with his drinks: two strangely steaming cups of a sickly-sweet smelling green. He thanked her with a large tip and a kiss on the cheek. "Keep 'em coming, my dear." The elder barmaid blushed like a young maid and winked. Ah, the benefits of growing up a regular here... he shook his head. He downed the first foul, licorice brew in a single gulp and held the other between his hands for a moment. He stared into its fizzing depths for a moment before sending it to join it's comrade.

A lopsided smile grew slowly on his face. Whether it was the alcohol beginning to thread through his system or his growing sense of impending doom, he wasn't sure but the little bard was suddenly filled with an inexplicable giddy levity...

He leapt up onto the bar with a quick and uncanny grace, "My friends!" His bardic trained voice cut easily across the noisy tavern. He gestured to the entire room, "My friends! And that guy," he pointed to a random drunk passed out in the corner. "All of you! Listen up!"

He waved a dismissive hand at the random shouts and catcalls, and laughed out loud at some of the eloquently crude suggestions of what he could do while he was up there on the bar. "Life is short," he announced, "you don't know what day will be your last. Where you might be tomorrow. Or with whom," he grinned, pausing a moment before he continued, "And so, to that end, I would like you, my dear and most steadfast friends, to know that," he stopped and pretended that he didn't know what he'd been going to say. The silence was broken again by a few more random shouts and suggestions. Including one very uncreative one about his mother. He suddenly stood up straighter as if remembering, "All of you, I would like you to know that... DRINKS ARE ON ME!"

He sprung back down to the floor amidst drunken cheers and resumed his seat at the bar.

By brig_xen
At a table off to the side sat a group playing cards. The first man had folded already and was ordering a drink from the waitress. Another man looked nervous and had been lamenting that his wife would kill him if he lost any more money. The third player was very young and had declared he was a man now since he was seventeen. He looked at his cards and appeared confused. Next to him was a tier’dal whose face showed no signs of what cards he held. He was serious and stared down at the final player.

She was also serious and trying to read her opponents. The wood elf figured her only threat was the tier’dal but she wasn’t sure if he was bluffing or not. She was not your typical lady. Her blonde hair was neatly pulled back and up off her neck. She was dressed in all black armor and wore very little jewelry. Her blue eyes darted back and forth between the other players.

“Make your bet wood elf unless you’re out,” the dark elf said. He then rapped on the side of his glass with a finger.

That was the clue she needed. Xenith had noticed earlier that he did that when he didn’t have a strong hand. His hands betrayed what his face tried to hide. She pushed a pile of coins to the center of the table and smiled. The nervous man threw his cards down and cursed.

The young man pondered a moment. “Too rich for me,” he finally said resting his cards on the table. “What should I get to drink since that bard’s buying?”

“Depends on how you want to be perceived,” Xenith answered him. “Do you want to just be another jerk taking advantage of someone’s generosity? If so order something pricey. You could be nice though and order something you can afford. Better yet, you’re just a kid so have some water.”

The kid frowned then began chatting with the waitress on what to drink. The tier’dal turned over his cards and smiled. “It seems I win again,” he said smugly. He reached across the table and started to pull the pile of coins towards him.

A dagger was suddenly between his fingers and he looked up stunned at the wood elf. “You assume too much,” she said. She turned over her cards and she indeed beat him. One of the other men applauded her.

The dark elf slowly moved his hands away from the money and stood up. “Watch your back, girl. This isn’t over. I’ll see you again, I promise you that.” He headed out of the tavern.

Xenith slid the coins in a bag. The others didn’t seem interested in continuing anyway. The waitress asked her for her order. Xenith asked her for a piece of paper to write on. She quickly scribbled a brief thank you in ayr'dal. “I’ll take a Ginesh,” she stated, “and take this note to our charitable musical host.” The waitress nodded and left to get their drinks. Xenith looked around the room but saw no familiar faces. The dark elf was likely just talking big but she preferred to not leave the tavern alone tonight.

By kallysti
A new barmaid, a pretty little blond Fridai doesn't remember seeing before, hands him a note. She jerks her head in the general direction where the little wood elf had been sitting before she hurries on. He raises an eyebrow and glances in the indicated area but sees little through the crowd. Warily, he unfolds it. His lips move soundlessly as he struggles to make out some of the words: though the problem is on his end, not hers. While he spoke several languages, particularly the 'pretty' ones, flawlessly, he has not quite mastered the written end of them. Even his own native Ayr'dal, something the author of the note had taken great pains to use. The gist of it was just a thank you for the drinks, and it was the use of the language, not one many besides the half elves even bothered with, that intrigued him.

He jumped up on his bar stool to survey the tavern from a more unobstructed viewpoint and was surprised to see it was a full blooded 'Dal woman who had sent it. At least, she was the one who smiled and raised her glass to him from across the crowded room when she saw him jump up. He bounced back down effortlessly, and thanking Gwen as she handed him a new drink, wound his way deftly through the crowd and straight to the little wood elf girl in the corner.

"You know," he says, his deep, rich voice almost making a song of the girl's native tongue, "most of the 'Dal don't bother learning the nuances of the bastard half elf language. And those that do," he winks, the alcohol in his system definately making him friendlier, "wouldn't sink to actually writing or speaking it in any kind of company. So I thank you for your consideration, miss."

"I feel like it's important to learn all the elven tongues. My best friend had to study elder elvish and that got me interested. I like to travel and study the native languages. It's a beautiful language so I don't feel like I'm sinking to anything," she replied in his own language, smiling warmly.

"That would explain it, then," he nodded. "I, myself, prefer the 'Dal languages for their beauty. It makes my line of work that much easier."

"Planning on performing tonight sir?"

He gestures to the drunken, shouting crowd dismissively. "I really don't care to interupt them again. And... I'm not really feeling up to it, tonight."

"Too bad. Have to hear you some other time I guess. Oh I'm sorry!" she says noticing he's still standing. "Please take a seat."

He sits easily, across from her, making sure that Gwen saw where he went. "I don't believe I've seen you in here before, lady..."

"Well I've been exploring trying to see what's chang...er...places I haven't been to. I'm Xenithellianne but you can call me Xenith."

"And you can call me Fridai, Xenithellianne," he says with a little smile, again speaking flawlessly in the liquid elvish language.

"It's been a long time since anyone actually called me that. Humans have such difficulty with elven names. It's nice to meet you Fridai. That's an unsual name too or at least one I've not heard before. Alot of this place is new to me though."

"It is still a rather uncommon name, I suppose," he replies, slipping back into Common. "And I, too, seem to spend much too much time around humans as well, these days."

Xenith looks at her empty glass and glances around for the waitress.

Fridai catches Gwen's eye and nods slightly in Xenith's direction, winking. She gets the idea and heads back to the bar to get them each another. He notices that the little wood elf had taken in the exchange, "They love me here," he grins by way of explanation, though the smile falters a little, as thoughts pass through his head. He downs the rest of his own drink, in an attempt to drown them for a little while longer.

"I see. I guess you come here alot then?"

"For as long as I can remember... though at this time, what I can remember isn't much past this morning," he jokes.

"Let me get this next one," she smiles.

"You can if you want... ol' man'll still put it on my tab, though. I did say I was buying."

"And it's quite a bill, too, my dear," the barmaid, who seemed to pop up out of nowhere, replies.

"You know where to send it," he winks. Take that, Dylana, he chuckles inwardly.

"And yes, I have been drinking and then some this morning," another shadow crosses his features for just a second but it vanishes with another smile.

"You're really too kind, Fridai. You'll have to let me repay the favor sometime."

He raises an eyebrow teasingly at her, "Really?"

Xenith blushes a little then decides to play along. "What did you have in mind?" She smirks at him playfully.

"Well... there is one thing..." he smiles sweetly. "It's been so long though, I don't know if I can even ask..."

Her eyes widen, uncertain of what he will say.

He braces for the response, grey-green eyes sly as he asks seductively, "Can you cook?" He continues in a normal tone, "Cause, damn, I haven't had a good home cooked meal in weeks! Months maybe..."

"About the only thing I can make well is batwing crunchies and few people like them," she grins.

"Well, alright... I do admit, I buy homemade stuff from a local girl. But she gets her hair in it all the time... damn ratongas." He shakes his head suddenly, remembering the time, "And speaking of which... I really do need to be heading out. She'll already be mad when I wake her up to make more for tomorrow... she hates getting sudden orders like that."

"Oh you have to go. That's too bad."

He nods reluctantly, "I'm afraid so. It already nears dawn... and I must be up early in the morning. Places to go, evil to slaughter. You know the drill, I suspect."

"Yeah, I guess it's late but I don't have anywhere to go. Might go wander around again tomorrow."

A thought occurs to him, though he's afraid to ask, You DO need help where you're going, he chides himself. "Have you ever seen Freeport? The gates at least," he grins, "I don't think they'll let you inside, miss."

"Yeah I've been ther before but it's been a while. You're probably right that they won't let me inside but," she digs thru her bag and pulls out a mask. "they might let a tier'dal girl in." She points to the mask and grins.

"You can try it," he replies dubiously, "I've seen folks try... never really stuck around to see how far they got though. And besides, I won't be inside there long. Then we can continue on elsewhere."

"At the least I wouldnt mind seeing the entrance to the city again"

"I'm heading there tonight. In the morning, I need to be elsewhere." He sighs to himself, knowing she'll come but he still doesn't want to ask, all the same, "And you'd be welcome to keep me company along the way. I journey to the Everfrost."

"Well then," she says gathering up her stuff, "let's get going."

By Wychwethl
He was beginning to question the validity of his information, but Toeii quickly became accutely aware of the Half Elf as he made his way across the dark room to finally sit next to a young looking Wood Elf woman; well they all looked young.

The large Kerra squinted and leaned forward in his seat, not because he couldn't see them in the dim candle light of the bar but so that he could hear what they were saying.

"Oh you have to go? That's too bad," the woman's voice cut through the noisy ambience of the bar as Toeii focused on the movement of her lips.

"I'd like to settle," he stopped to barmaid as she passed with a load of empty glasses, "my tab."

"You only drank water hon'," she said, hurrying away with the tray to the summons of another patron.

Toeii shrugged and stood up, walking to the door where he pulled a long white cloak from a hook and slipped it on over his shoulders. He wrapped his long fingers around a bo-staff leaning against the wall that sounded like steel as it scraped against the wood paneling.

Taking a quick glance back into the room revealed that the Half Elf and Wood Elf were gathering their things. The monk calmed his mind and stepped outside, the light from the bar spilling into the street fading as the door shut behind him.

He doesn't seem terribly dangerous, this one, Toeii thought to himself.

"Sir, might I have a word?" He rehearsed to himself as he casually leaned on the outside wall of the bar to the left of the door and waited.

By roorni
Standing in a corner near the bar is a young Ayr'dal woman, nursing the free drink. Keeping to the shadows and trying to remain out of sight, the young woman heads to the only open table and sits down.

While nursing the drink and surveying the room, the young woman knows she shouldn't be in here. Not only is she out after hours but getting caught here could get her kicked out of the training academy. But she loves the risk and knows she is quite enough to get back in with out getting caught.

As she finishes the drink she realizes just how late it is, and starts heading towards the door. However, she notices the man who bought the drinks with a wood elf woman she had seen earlier playing cards. She heads their direction to thank him for the drink when she spots the Kerrian, noting his monk garb, she ducks out of the way and prays she wasn't noticed.
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