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Into the Black - CTS Part 2

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The start of this CTS and intro is here.



brig_xen
By A man across the room motioned to Xenith. She noticed and nodded in his direction. “Hey Fridai, why don’t you go on ahead and I’ll meet you outside in a few minutes. I have a brief bit of business to take care of.”

“Sure,” he said still smiling. The bard headed outside to wait for her.

Xenith moved nimbly through the crowd to the man and sat down. He was an older man with dark greasy hair. He seemed shady and she didn’t trust him but his services were necessary. “Did you find it?” she asked him.

“Freeport’s a big city you know. It’s not that easy to recover an item, especially anything pre-dating the Shattering. There are traveling costs, bribes to guards, the time spent searching, and money actually purchasing the item.” He stretched out his hand on the table reaching for her purse.

“Am I wasting my time or do you just need more coins?” Xenith was quickly losing her patience.

The man rested his other hand on the table and opened his fist. There in the palm of his hand was a shiny gold ring. She reached for it to inspect it but he closed his fist. “50 gold more,” he said.

“Let me see the ring first.” He looked at her uneasy. “I want to make sure it’s the right ring. There’s an inscription in there,” she reassured him.

He reluctantly opened his fist and she picked up the ring. She eyed it carefully taking note of the intricate pattern. Inside the word “Beloved” was etched in elven. This was the right ring. “Well?” he asked.

Xenith handed him the additional coins. “Thank you very much.” She pocketed the ring and stood up to leave. She was lucky that she had won several hands at cards tonight or she couldn’t have afforded to buy the ring.

“Come see me if you want anything else “found” or if you find anything. Pleasure doing business with you lady.” He grinned at her as she walked away. For Xenith the feeling wasn’t mutual and she was more than happy to leave the tavern.


By kallysti
The moment Fridai walked through the door a voice sounded behind him, "Excuse me, might I have a word?" rumbled something deep and not quite human. He glanced around and saw only the large Kerran who had been leaning casually against the wall of the tavern. There could be no one else the cat was addressing, either, even Xenith wasn't outside yet.

The shock at being surprised so, followed by his customary wariness sobers the young half elf quickly, "Depends on the word..." he replies, half suspicious, half joking.

"I need something from you, information specifically," the big cat presses.

Well, he gets to the point, I'll give him that, Fridai muses. He eyes the large cat, measuring him somehow, "Well, one would think that if you needed something, that you would be willing to give something in return. Or is this some sort of... demand?"

"It would benefit you to cooperate," the Kerra smiles, "I do not mean to threaten, I only mean that my superiors are after some information you may have acquired in your dealings."

"And just how would it benefit me, if this were not a threat? Excuse me, but I do have places to be..."

In a quick, precise movement, Toeii takes hold of the half elf's shirt, "I simply mean that you are not the one I am trying to find, only that I believe you might have information that would aid greatly in my pursuit. I truly do not desire conflict with you, perhaps we can negotiate something but let me tell you that as a monk I carry little on me other than what I require to survive."

Fridai looks down at where the cat took hold of him and then deliberately raises his head to meet the monk's eyes. All semblance of joking is gone from the bard's voice as it drops low, "And I would tell you that as a bard I need little besides my voice to defend myself."

Looking down at the half elf's shoulder Toeii removes him hand. Without breaking eye contact he says, "Let me begin again by apologizing and introducing myself. My name is Toeii SpiritFang, I'm a monk from the guild in Qeynos. I've been sent here to look for a particular individual my superiors have an interest in and I was hoping you might have some information."

The little half elf's eyes narrow, still suspicious, "And what kind of information would that be? I can't stand around talking all night..."

The conversation is interupted as Xenith heads out to find Fridai and Toeii talking. "Hey. What's going on?"

"We, or perhaps, I, am wondering that myself, miss," his eyes never leave the monk, though he is not surprised by the little rogue's sudden appearance, either.

Toeii sighs, this wasn't really going the way he'd planned. Undaunted, however, he continues, "We have reason to believe several items of spiritual signifigance to my temple were taken. Several initiates went in pursuit, their last correspondance revealed their belief that the perpetrator was a female Tier'dal. This town was their last known location, they haven't made contact since their last report."

Fridai shrugs, "I'm sorry for their loss, but I do fail to see how this is my problem. As you can plainly see, neither my friend here, nor I, are Tier'dal. There were several inside however.."

"Yeah," Xenith chimes in, "there was a guy here earlier with some unusual items that he was kinda dodgy about how he got them. Maybe you should look for him."

"I'm looking for a woman," Toeii says softly, glancing at the wood elf. "I ask you because a half elf was mentioned in the report. I understand that there are many half elves here, however you seem the type to have connections, so I took a chance... I don't have money to offer you, but I understand that information is not always free... perhaps we can work something out."

"I do know many Tier'dal. One does not live in Freeport without dealing with a few... walk with us. We have a journey to prepare for, but perhaps we can talk some along the way..." he eyes the monk measuringly again, wondering how useful he'd be in a fight. Probably pretty damn useful, he thinks to himself.

Toeii nods, gesturing for the half elf to lead the way, "I don't believe I caught your name, either of you," he says with a gentle smile.

*********************

A little ways into the Commonlands, the young bard glances over his shoulder a second. I thought so, he smirks to himself a little and suddenly, there is a barely audible hum coming from his direction. "Stop," he says to the others softly.

Xenith almost says something but realizes why he stopped.

Toeii stops, keeping his hands concealed beneath his cloak, his billowy pants disguising any movement in his knees.

"Behind us, near that last boulder," he tells them. He sees them both hesitate a moment and grins, "Go ahead, she won't hurt you."

Xenith turns and looks to see a pretty young half elf woman standing motionless several feet behind them, "I see so that's who was following. Why isn't she moving?"

"Just a little bardic trick," he smiles. The light hum stops abruptly. "There, she should move now, should she choose to."

Toeii nods, leaving his weapon tied to his back and slowly walks to the tree several yards away. The young woman's eyes widen as he approaches, he cocks his head as he recognizes the clothing she wears.

The little blond half elf curtsies to the approaching monk, and waits in apprehension to see what he will do to her.

Xenith sighs as she gets a better look at the young girl. "She's just a kid," she whispers to Fridai. He nods. Though the girl now watching Toeii with rapt attention is not much younger than the bard himself, she does have have a more youthful look in her eyes.

Toeii bows respectfully, "Come out into the open, student".

Secia does as she was told, and walks slowly out into the open. "Yes, master."

"I am not angry yong one, however be grateful that it is I who discovered you out this late and not one of the others. What are you doing here?"

"I couldn't sleep, sir. I thought some fresh air would help me relax."

"And naturally the seedy part of a town across the narrow sea and miles from the temple in Qeynos is where you are getting your air?" Toeii smiles, "I trust no one saw you leave?"

"Yes sir, this is where my walk took me," she replies, smiling slightly, "and no, no one saw me leave." Then, looking at the lady, Secia continues, "I still wasn't tired, and you looked like an interesting group. Thought I would see where you were headed."

"This is not a safe place, even for one with your training. I am on a mission that has claimed the lives of two of our brothers already."

"A mission that apparantly involves me," the young bard adds, stepping up beside the tall monk. "I'm Fridai, by the way, miss. I'm sorry about mez'ing you but it was the only way to be sure you meant us no harm. I don't believe I caught your name?"

"I can understand that sir, but please don't do it again. My name is Secia."

"And now that we're introduced, I shouldn't have to," he replies in an easy tone.

"Nice to meet you Secia. I'm Xenith. But the cat's right. This is too dangerous a place for you. Maybe you should go home."

"The cat has a name I am sure, miss. However, I think I am more that capable of handling myself. I would not mind going along, if you would allow it. Sir." She looks hopefully at Toeii who still hasn't told her his name.

"I think I'll have to agree, miss," Fridai agrees, thinking mostly of the where they're going to end up. "This is no kind of... mission... for an untrained young lady."

"No offense, but I am a monk, not a lady. By the looks of it not much younger than yourself either."

He shakes his head, "No, not where we're going. I.. " he stops to think, maybe she'd be ok with a mentor nearby... even so, though... he shakes his head, wavering indecisively.

"It wouldn't be wise to travel alone this late, you may stay until morning, or until things get too dangerous. And my name is Toeii." He turns to the others, "She will be my responsibilty."

"Thank you, Master. I assure you however, that I can take care of myself and will be no trouble." Secia thinks for a minute, then asks quietly, "Are you the Toeii that they speak of at the Monk Guild?"

"I suppose I would be, yes," he answers with a shrug, "though what is said about me I have no knowledge."

Xenith suddenly looks at the broken moon and sighs. She mumbles to herself, "It's not even the same sky anymore."

"Lady Xenith, what do you mean about the sky not being the same?" the young monk girl asks.

"Stars look different far from home. Haven't you noticed? It's not the same as outside Qeynos. Hard to get used to it." That hadn't been exactly what Xenith meant but she was sure they wouldn't understand if she told them.

"Honestly, I haven't really traveled very far from home before. I hope that changes soon, I can't wait to see more of the world."

Fridai smiles again, almost sadly this time, at her youthful comment.

"We've been walking for some time Fridai, perhaps you've thought of something you might know about this Tier'dal woman interested in ancient artifacts? Normally I'd be happy travel with you for days, however I have a young one to worry about now," he glances back to Secia, "trained or not."

The little bard shrugs, "What do you know about her? I've met many Tier'dal. Something to narrow it down would be helpful... "

"Yes, but I doubt that many who live in that small town traffic in ancient, mystical artifacts."

Xenith's ears perk up. "Are they valuable artifacts?"

"Priceless," Toeii growls slightly.

"Small town?" One dark eyebrow arches at that comment, "I'm afraid you have possibly been mislead on the size of Freeport..."

"On that, you can be assured I haven't, however I overheard you tell Xenith that you were a regular at that bar and that is where we last knew our thief to be. I know bards make lots of contacts, contacts everywhere they go for dealings legit and shady... I haven't been a monk my whole life Fridai."

"Not always a monk?" Xenith's curiosity piqued. "What did you do before?"

"I was a fisherman Xenith, I came here from an island far from Qeynos, it is a long story though and I'd rather not distract Fridai from his ponderings."

"You would be right on both counts, Toeii: I make many contacts, regardless of their... leanings. But you've still told me nothing of the details beyond the fact that said woman likes 'shiny things.' And that would describe many of the dark elves. Many besides them, as well, really," he winks at Xenith. "Like I said before, I really can't be of much help without a better description..."

"She's a bard of sorts," Toeii says after a moment's thoought, "the last report we recieved described her as strangely tall for her race, they said she wore her hair as many Tier'dal women do, however what was strange was the brightly colored dyes she wore in streaks over her white hair. I do hope you know where she is, we have wandered far from that town and I would hate to be wasting my time. Where is it we are heading, by the way?"

"One question at a time, please," he gives the big Kerran a lopsided smile, while giving the first question some serious 'thought', "I have seen such a woman around Longshadow Alley. Oh, yes, such a one as she is hard to miss, really. Wears tight black chain armor when she's hunting. She really keeps to herself though. Her name is... Dayana? Something like that. I'm afraid my 'shady dealings' don't often have to do with stolen artifacts," he shrugs apologetically.

"Thank you for your help Fridai. Now, as we discussed, what will this information cost me?"

"Perhaps it should cost you... sating your curiosity," he smiles mischieviously at Toeii's slightly confused look, "answering your other question, I mean. If I tell you where I'm going, will you join me? It's not a journey one should make without... more of a fighter's help."

"Would it be Kerra Isle?"

"Most of Kerra Island was destroyed in the shattering," Toeii replied before the bard could speak, "it is believed that our island was once a part of the Kerras' land however."

"Sir, perhaps sometime when we are not busy, you could talk to me a bit about it. I am interested in learning about different places," the half elf girl looks up at him hopefully.

"You've been mostly quiet Secia. I did not mean to be hard on you, but you still have much to learn, even after your initial training is finished." He holds out his hand to her, pulling his sleeve up past his wrist, "Feel for my pulse."

"I understand I have much to learn, yet it is hard to learn at the Guild training academy. They seem to have lost interest in really teaching." Secia reaches out tentavitly and searches for his pulse. Not finding it, she looks up at him questioningly. "Master, can you please explain how you did that, perhaps even teach me the same?"

"I will journey with you, Fridai," Toeii concludes, "However, I must send word back to the temple. And Secia, I'm sorry but this not a skill one learns, you will learn how to trick opponents into believing you are dead, however only a close relationship with death itself will allow you to so completely feign it's effects. As for the temple, that is merely another test you must pass, but I will teach you what I can."

"Does that mean I get to stay with you a while longer? Or will I be the message you are sending to the Temple?"

"I havent decided yet. I will need to know more about why you are undertaking this journey Fridai."

"Yeah," Xenith agrees, "what are we doing Fridai?"

"Where we're going," he glances around at all three of the others. His deep voice is soft, making them each lean unconsciously closer, "if you choose to come with me, is to the furthest reaches of Everfrost, perhaps even into the depths of Permafrost..." He looks uncomfortably down at his hands.

"I am commited," the Kerran nods, "it would be wrong to betray your trust and not help after you gave me the information I seek."

Xenith lays a hand on Fridai's arm. "What's wrong?"

He closes his eyes a moment as he speaks, "I have a friend who has gone missing. She was last seen heading far into the reaches of Everfrost. I have... reasons to believe she's being held there."

"Oh," Xenith says matter-of-factly, "Well then we should look for your friend. Do you know who's holding her? Any idea what we're up against would be helpful."

"What we're up against just getting there is probably far more dangerous than what will be there when we arrive... I hope. But getting there: giants and wolves and... other things," he looks over at Toeii, "Have you been there?"

"I have," he answers, "it is harsh, the three of you should find some warmer clothing, unless you tell me more about your friend's situation I will be unable to help her alone after you all freeze to death."

"As for who, or what, we'll face when we reach our destination?" Fridai continues and glances down at the ground apologetically, "I'm just not sure, it really could be anything or anyone. All I got was a message from a friend of a friend. He was sure of the location, though, and that she was... trapped. I wish I knew who it was for certain. But they won't live long, regardless," there is nothing warm in his smile as he looks back up.

Toeii turns to the little rogue, "Have you been to Everfrost, Xenith?"

She grins a huge grin. "Yes I have and it was cold. You're right we need heavier clothes. It's been many many years though so I suspect it's a bit different."

"Indeed it is," Fridai says lightly, "which is why I'm picking up a few things before we leave. Food especially... we will find little in the way of forages there."

"I assume then that you are prepared for the swim from the docks? And you'll take out any food your carrying the sharks may be interested in? Most of them can swallow and entire party in a single bite."

"Don't worry about the swim, Toeii," he grins, "I have a way around taht at least."

The elf looks at Fridai a bit puzzled. "Swim? You don't have a song to levitate us?"

"I'm afaid the stories about my... skills... have been exaggerated, ma'am," he smirks.

"Oh I'm sorry. I guess I don't know all of what bards can and can't do. My mistake."

"Few do," he grins wider.

The little wood elf coughs lightly, "In any case, you have my daggers at your disposal, Fridai. I'll be happy to help you rescue your friend."

"I am honored to travel with you all," Secia adds.

"Secia if we tell you to run, please don't question it, just do it ok? I'll watch your back if you watch mine," she adds with a smile.

The ruins that mark the start of the Freeport gates are getting much nearer. Fridai suddenly turns to the others, "Could you all wait here, please? I will not be long. I'd rather not start trouble where none is needed..." All three shrug or nod in return and the little bard trots off alone towards the city.


By brig_xen
Secia responded to Xenith’s request that she run by saying, “Yes, ma'am. But don't expect me to run and hide while you all stay and fight.” Xenith smiled, admiring the girl’s persistence.

Xenith watched as Fridai headed into Freeport. She wasn’t too comfortable being left with the two monks. Toeii could handle himself but she felt as if they were babysitting Secia. "So Secia, what part of Qeynos are you from? Have you studied any of the elven languages besides Ayr'dal?" She tried to make small talk with the young monk to make her feel more part of the group.

"My home is in Willow Wood. I have actually studied many of the languages. It is a hobby of mine." She smiled proudly. Not many other students knew as many languages as she did or were as adept.

"I too have a room in the Willow Wood but I've considered moving to Castleview Hamlet. It's so peaceful there like Felwithe was...or so I'm told." Xenith responded.

”I have been through there a time or two, running different errands or working on tasks for training. It was nice, but not sure I could ever think of it as home. Everyone is different though, if you move, I wish you the best there." The young monk was sincere.

"Well not many people know this but," she eyes Secia and Toeii and smiles shyly, "my grandmother was Koada'dal. So in a way they are my people there too."

"You should not be shy about it, my ancestors were Vah Shir. Many, many years ago, just before the shattering, a small group of Vah shir escaped Luclin and were welcomed among the Kerrans. Be proud of where you come from,” the large kerran stated.


"I didn't realize any Vah shir survived,” Xenith said looking a little surprised. She was relieved to hear they weren’t wiped out. “That's good to hear though."

Secia was a curious young girl and Xenith could see she admired Toeii. "What about you, Master Toeii? Will you tell us more about where you are from as well?"

"I suppose so, since we have some time. I came from a small fishing village, as you know. When I arrived my boat had run aground outside of Qeynos. One night I met a young human girl, she was being pursued through the woods by a pack of gnolls. Yes Vah Shir survived, but that is an entirely different story altogether," he winked, smiling cheerfully. "Anyway, I saved this girl, her name was Teryn, and the next morning I took her back home to her family who were very grateful, they allowed me to stay with them. Unbeknownst to me at the time there was a dark force working inside the Qeynos Guard. Several corrupted guards were working with a group of pirates lead by an Iksar; they were kidnapping young women and selling them to the highest bidder in Freeport and beyond. This group targeted Teryn, and when I tried to save her I was overpowered by the corrupt guards and turned in as a murderer and her kidnapper. One night, before I was to be executed I received an odd visit."

Xenith gasped in horror. Secia listened intently completely taken in by the older monk's tale. His tail swooshed once or twice before he continued the story.

"Queen Antonia herself came by and released me, explaining that since I had seen the real betrayers and that she could not risk an open attack on them it was up to me. I was released along with an elderly monk whom I had befriended, he took me to the temple where I was given weapons..."

"Is there when you started you training, Sir?” Secia asked.

"I tracked the corrupt guards through their daily routines and eventually discovered where the pirate lair was, right in the center of the city. I discovered they had been... 'using' some of the girls... I lost my temper, so to speak, and my hot Vah shir blood boiled to the surface, you may have heard of the massacre?" His fur ruffled a bit although his demeanor remained calm. There was a fire in his eyes when he said that.

Secia shook her head. "I have heard bits and pieces, but it never really made much sense."

"Not directly no, Secia, I was left near death after fighting with Cold Eye, the Iksar pirate, the monks took me in and healed my wounds. They agreed to train me so long as I was willing to learn, I have been in the temple ever since. One your age need not hear the details, and I do not want you to fear me; you may after hearing what I did to those men. Evil as they were…” he paused a moment contemplating his actions. "The destruction of that group was so complete we won't ever know until they raise their heads again."

"I don't fear you, I know more of this story than you might think at such an age.” Secia hated that people always thought she was too young. She was an adult in her mind and wished to be treated as one. “I have a bad habit of learning things I am not supposed to know. I do admit that I don't know all the details.”

”Well it’s good they’re gone cause if any survived I'd love to go after them next. I have no sympathy for men who use girls like that. They all need to die slow painful deaths!" The anger in the wood elf’s voice was strong enough it wouldn't be surprising if either of them could tell this was an issue that hit close to home for her.

"They died quickly," Toeii said softly, looking at his hands. "I should meditate..." his voice trailed off and he rose to sit under a nearby tree.

"I agree with Xenith. I am sorry, if talking about this upsets you. I didn't mean to bring up bad memories." The young monk looked down at the ground then slowly glanced over at Toeii.

"It is not your fault," Toeii said softly from beneath the tree, "it is something that I must deal with, one day I will be able to speak of it without it upsetting me, and that will be the day I have truly conquered it."

"Sometimes you never get over it. I thought it would be over after I took my revenge but I still can't forget him." Xenith had a far away look in her eye when she said that. She clenched her fists tightly and closed her eyes.

"I hope that someday, you can truly move past it, Lady Xenith,” Secia said quietly. “You may never forget, but perhaps with more time you will move on from what ever it may be."

Toeii smiled, "I fear I'm going to sound like one of the old instructors at the temple but... you are right, sometimes your mind will never let go. Sometimes it is important to remember, in vivid detail the things we do. If they are horrible things we must learn to live with that memory, there are lessons to learn."

"I will try to remember that.” Secia took it to heart. She knew she would a lot from Toeii.

"You don't understand. I don't mind remember the horror of what I did in my revenge, it's the problem of not getting out of my mind what he did to me." Xenith’s eyes started to water. She turned her back to the two of them looking towards the gates of Freeport.

"I don't know the details of your past, and I will not intrude, but the greatest lessons we can learn come from when we are wronged and how we deal with it." The big kerran closed his eyes entering into meditation.

Secia placed a hand on Xenith’s shoulder. "I am sorry you were so wronged. If you need a friend, I am here. I may be young, but I am able to listen, if you wish to talk."

“It was a long time ago and I was very young then. I'm all right but I hate to see other girls mistreated. I hope Fridai brings some good food cause I'm getting hungry." She sat down and pulled her legs up under her arms resting her head on her knees. All was calm for a while.


By kallysti
The small ferry that left from Temple Street suddenly bumped against the docks of East Freeport. The little bard, it's only cargo, stepped off with the practiced grace of one long accustomed to the necessity of travel by sea, even short travel.

Virrik, the little provisioner who provided him with his travelling food, had been happy to see him, not angry as he had told Xenith in the bar earlier. The little ratonga, like most of her nocturnal kind, was wide awake at this hour. And she was more than happy to give him any and all food and drink she could find... since he offered to pay her twice her normal rate. Although, his lying about the little rat's temperment had been nothing compared to the fabrication he'd told to Toeii...

Because rescuing a poor, kidnapped girl in the coldest regions of Norrath would appeal to their Qeynos sensibilites better, he knew. The good-hearted were so easily manipulated... and he did feel a twinge of guilt at that. But lying was better than admitting to what he was really after. Oh, no, I don't know her. I don't know Dylana. Not at all. I don't know every intimate detail about that bitch. I don't know where she is, where's she's been, or what she's after... and I don't know that she's probably in my rooms right now doing gods only know what... he sighed heavily, because while the gods may not know what she was doing, he certianly did. And the young half elf really didn't want to run into the dirge-turned-whore (or was it whore-turned-dirge? he really wasn't sure any more) tonight... well, he usually didn't care to see her but it had been necessary these past two years. This time, though, he just needed to get his armor from his suite at the dockside tavern in East Freeport. He was almost certain that she would be there, though: she preferred to use his rooms for her... business dealings, she said, to remind him of just where he stood.

He pushed the worn pine door open softly. Maybe if she was inside, she wouldn't hear him. Yeah. Sure... he thought with a heavy-hearted resignation, I wish I was that good. He slid inside and gently closed the door behind him. His armor was laying out on the table, untouched. The rest of the large front room, with all it's neatly arranged furnishings, was untouched as well. Though, he could hear her... or... something anyway... in the back room, where he usually slept when he was in town. He walked softly to the table and opened an empty backpack. Just take my armor with me, then, maybe change in an alley or under the docks or...

But as he was carefully fitting the last of his armor into his bag a familiar voice sounded behind him, "You weren't going to stop and say 'hello'? I'm crushed."

He turned around, the easy smile on his lips not quite touching his eyes as he saw her standing there: her lithe, toned form clad only in a few scraps of artfully placed black leather. He schooled his well-trained voice to a pleasant indifference, "Well, Dy, I did hear you back there and did not think you would want to be disturbed..."

"Nonsense," she cooed softly, pulling closer to him. The monk's informants had had the right description, he thought: the Tier'dal woman was tall, almost half a head above Fridai, and her long hair, today streaked with dark red and purple, brushed his cheek as she leaned in. The warm smell on her breath: cinnamon and honey with the coppery undertaste of blood repulsed and yet attracted him at the same time... like nothing else could. "You of all people should know how much a bard does love her audience. Though, truly, this one," she indicated the back room with a short tilt of her head, "is quite boring... doesn't know what he paid for. And humans wear out so easily," she shook her head, "But I won't keep you, my sweet boy. Don't you have people waiting outside? Happy little Qeynos friends?"

He nodded, not daring to speak as his smile hung on by will alone. Of course she would know of the others. She always knew. Unsurprisingly now, and as if in answer to that, he could feel the minute scratch of her nails as she unlaced his shirt. As always, he found himself helpless to stop her. One long, graceful finger, feather light, traced the scripted ink imbedded just below the flesh on the left side of his chest. It glowed very slightly in response: some arcane dark elf magic, he suspected, when he stopped and actually thought about it... "And," she continued, even softer, "would you rather stay here... or do you ever want to see... her... again?"

Fridai blinked suddenly and her immediate spell was broken. As she knew it would be. But what she spoke of now was a much deeper hook and well worth breaking his 'concentration'. The almost constant mask he wore finally slipped. His near-perfectly trained voice cracked as he stepped back a little from her, "Yes... oh, yes, please.... I need to see her again..." he babbled. Part of him was appalled at how quickly she had reduced him to this but at this time, the feelings were uncontainable, overwhelming.

She knew she had him and Dylana smiled now: cold, and with her strangly long and sharpened canines, almost feral, "I do tire of this game... and your begging," she sighed mockingly, for nothing could be further from the truth, "This one last component I'm sending you for is all I require now. Go to the location I gave you, bring it back. Then, as promised, I will tell you where she is." Abruptly, then, she turned her back on him and walked away without once looking back.

Even after her obvious dismissal, he stayed frozen in the dim room for a moment longer. Finally, the little bard took one deep, ragged breath, grabbed his bags and nearly fled out the door.

Down across the docks he ran and dropped from them onto a narrow strip of beach below. There, under the pilings where no one could see, he fell to his knees while silent tears streaked his face. One thought filled his mind: I will find you, I don't care how...
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