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"Well, now what?" asked Snagin, a pensive look on his face.
"I must return to Schnai. I have important business there," said Lormar, "The presence of a Drow priestess on the surface so far south of Oakspire is somewhat…disturbing. I must return to find out more."
An owl flew down from a nearby tree and landed lightly on Lormar’s shoulder. The Elven mage looked at it inquisitively.
"Is that so, Owl? Very well. Go see what else you can find out," spoke Lormar softly.
The mottled black and brown belfry owl leapt into the sky spreading his wings. He was gone to the south in mere moments. The dawn was quickly approaching, morning dew covering the ground. The nearby trees in the hills were coming alive with different noises than their night brethren. All the mountain giants looked at the three strangers in their midst with open ware, very conscious of their shown strength from the recent fight with the giants’ Drow masters. Soon, most of the giants retired to various parts of their village, leaving only a few to keep watch over Snagin, Lormar, and Sid. Loud cursing soon interrupted the serene morning.
"BLAST! The bitch has no copper, and she bled out too fast! I wanted her to suffer," griped Sid, kicking the inert body of Markessa once more, spitting on it.
With a flick of his wrist, the elven rogue threw the priestess’ evil snake whip into the air. Quick as a cat, his shining scimitar flashed out, cutting it in three pieces in the air. With a flourish, Sid re-sheathed his blade, grinning and giggling insanely. He then unsheathed the dark elven sword he’d borrowed, the blade black as night. He spit on it, throwing it to the ground. It had already begun smoking and decaying as the rays of the rising sun contacted its dark elven metal.
"Bah!" growled the dirty elf, stalking around like a caged animal, cursing and spitting on all the dead Drow bodies he could find. Snagin looked away, shaking his head.
"What about the dragon’s treasure, Lormar?" he asked.
"You have taken enough of it to sate your greedy desires, halfling. Let these giants have their fortunes returned to them. No reason for them to be duped by Drow elven slime, and then stolen from on top of that. They’ve already been delivered from sure slavery at the hands of dark elven masters. Even though most animals outwit them, I see no reason for them to suffer further," stated the Elven mage, his lips twisting up in a smirk.
"Bah! They’re giants! They tried to kill me! And they smell too! Ha.ha.," yelled Sid, shaking his fist in the air, "The stupid scum broke my other scimitar! Death to them all!. Their feelings don’t concern me!"
Snagin rolled his eyes in exasperation. It seems some things never changed. Sid always used to argue with Lormar. The results never were pretty.
"Fool. You cannot see beyond your own whimsical needs. I care not what you think. Why must you be no better than a Drow? Leave them and their belongings be," scowled Lormar at Sid, one arm calmly to his side, the other holding his staff leaned toward the dirty elf.
To Snagin, it seemed an ominous calm came over the immediate area - entirely too ominous for his taste. Sid looked like a thunderstorm waiting to release lightning bolts and deluges upon the land. It seemed a long time passed by before he spoke.
"What did you call me? What did you say?" asked Sid, looking at Lormar with murder in his eyes.
"What? Does it disturb you that I name your attitude that of a Drow? You ARE half-drow after all, are you not? Insane fool! Do not look at me so. I do not have time for the likes of your tantrums. Accept what you are and be quiet," mocked Lormar, waving his staff around in front of him.
In a blur of motion, Sid charged the elven mage, a clearly homicidal intent in his eyes. With a yelp, Snagin leapt away from Lormar. Sid’s scimitar swung up and around as he charged, moving toward a killing blow from a high downward stroke. Lormar stared at him calmly. As soon as the scimitar was about to strike, the elven mage spoke a word, and moved his hand in a motion of dismissal. A brilliant flash of white light engulfed Sid, and it almost immediately winked out. Sid had vanished.
"That one tries my patience. Next time I will probably disintegrate him," sighed Lormar, yawning.
Snagin looked visibly relieved. He was not used to his allies attacking one another.
"Where did you send him?" asked the Halfling.
"I know not. Fate has decided it. It is only relevant that the fool is no longer here," shrugged Lormar, "Shall we go? Grab onto my robes."
A white light engulfed both of them, and they vanished from sight.
Elicia Whiteshadow stalked the decks of the Seawolf in open disgust. She had been in a foul mood all morning long. That man! She glared at a couple crew members with open hate in her eyes, forcing them both to shy away. Her temper was well known aboard the ship, especially after she had been arguing with Hethe. Their verbal contests were well known to all the crew, and they had become more titanic of late. She didn’t know what infuriated her more – the fact that he did what he pleased all the time despite what she thought or advised, or his calm disposition in their arguments, never raising his voice. He was the most stubborn, difficult, and diabolical man in all of Derlith, in her opinion. She groaned as she realized he’d probably claim all of that about himself and be openly proud of it. Growling, she stalked down the gang plank to Highport’s docks. The Seawolf had been in Highport for an extended stay. Troubles in Drakken Port from the Empire of Caladonia had cooled trade considerably of late. She wished she could get back to the open seas again. As far as she was concerned, the cities of Derlith were vile infested pits fit for the vermin that lived in them. In musing this, she almost ran into a Highport guardsman standing to block her way.
"Halt there, little lady. What is your business?" the tall guard asked.
"What is it to you? Get out of my way," she snarled while pushing past him, a general dislike of men of late coloring her attitude greatly.
The guardsman moved to stop her.
"Halt! I said what is your business! The Baron von Hanna has placed restrictions on the comings and goings of foreigners here. The order was given out yesterday. He is concerned with spies and the like. You may not pass unless I like what you have to say," he smugly explained.
"I care not what your Baron orders, and I am not a spy. I owe my allegiances to no one but myself and to the Seawolf. Do I look like a spy to you?" she said, alluringly smiling up at him with big green eyes, one of her fingers playing with her long blonde hair.
The guardsman, really seeing her for the first time, gulped. The woman was beautiful! Her face and eyes bore obvious sylvan heritage, her ears slightly pointed. She wore black sharkskin leather armor under a sea-green tunic, a shortsword and dagger hanging from her shapely hips. She wore sapphire earrings, and had the most beautiful smile he had ever seen!
"I uh…suppose not. You don’t seem the type that would hurt anybody. It just is a requirement that I ask. That is all," he said uncomfortably, "What is your name?"
"Elicia is my name. I am the deck officer of the Seawolf – and if you must know, I am going ashore to negotiate for supplies. It is a duty I dislike, and I will be back aboard the ship soon. I do not like this city. Is there anything else? What about your name?" she smiled.
"Oh..my name is Steele, and no, my lady. Thank you. You may be on your way," the big guardsmen replied and took his leave, all but running away.
Elicia grumbled and continued into the Highport dock district. Why must she put up with men such?
"Is he dead?" asked a scrawny street ruffian, his voice gruff.
"Don’t look like it. Looks like he’s just drunk or somethin, or sick," said another ruffian, the girth of his belly making him an exact opposite to his partner.
"How long’s he been here?" asked the scrawny one.
"I don’t know, you fool. I just found him with you. How would I know? Doesn’t matter anyway…what’s he have on him? Not like he can prevent us from doin anything to him now is there!" growled the fat man as he jabbed the still form with his boot.
The scrawny thief, his hair in patches and several of his teeth missing, leaned over the inert body of an elf, small but very wiry in shape. He had dirty white hair and a black mask covering his eyes. He lay on his right side, breathing slowly, his eyes closed, twitching somewhat. Two bulging belt-pouches adorned his waste, as well as a gleaming jeweled scimitar scabbard, along with an assortment of other weapons. The tiny thief nearly began salivating as he observed this, and he slowly reached for one of the pouches.
Quick as lightning, the elf threw out his left fist, connecting solidly with the skinny man’s jaw, knocking him back. He moved to sit up and grab for his scimitar, cursing to find it missing. The big man quickly stepped forward, kicking the elf solidly in the face, laying him low. The elf coughed heavily and fell into unconsciousness again.
"Thanks, Rollo…That little bastard has a strong left hook," said the scrawny man, who then resumed his search.
Grabbing a belt pouch, he opened it and looked inside. A perplexed look crossed his face.
"A pouch full of copper coins? Who keeps this much copper coins? He looks as if he’d have gold on him, but I find none!" growled the scrawny thief.
The big man, Rollo, rolled his eyes.
"I’d not worry about that, Ganthis, he has plenty else on him that’s worth something. That scimitar scabbard’ll look good on the wall of my shop! Judging by the detailed gemstone work, it must be a magnificent weapon – too bad the blade itself is missing! Besides, we can sell the elf himself to the Guard! Don’t he look like a spy to you?" the fat man asked wickedly, winking.
"Why, yes, he does indeed! We’d better report him!" laughed Ganthis.
"Let’s get him up then," said Rollo.
After pocketing everything valuable they could find on the elf – rings, bracers, pouches, a strange scarab, a runed cloak, and even stripping him out of his armor, the two promptly carried the elf to the Highport jailhouse, reporting to the magistrate on duty that they’d seen him conferring with Caladonian cutthroats, who then waylaid him and left him for dead.
"Must have been some sort of deal gone bad, judge!" smiled Rollo, "Surely there must be a reward for one such as this! He is not your common street ruffian now is he!?"
The Highport guard magistrate looked at Rollo skeptically.
"How can you be so certain of such a thing? After all, he’s nearly naked and looks just like any other elf I’ve seen in the city before, other than the black stripe across his face and the white hair! How do you know he has been up to anything seditious?" the magistrate asked, giving a knowing look to Rollo.
"Why, no common elf who’s lost his way back to the woods would have a trinket such as this, sir!" said Rollo, pulling out the jeweled scarab and handing it to the magistrate, who promptly palmed it.
"Why, I think you are right!" said the magistrate, "GUARDS! Take this one to a cell. He is being booked for sedition against the Baron!"
Two Highport guardsmen came and grabbed Sid under his shoulders, dragging him to a deep dark cell in the Highport jailhouse. After collecting their two-hundred gold crown reward, Rollo and Ganthis left, smiling happily.
"What do you mean 30 gold a barrel? That is ridiculous!" yelled Elicia at the plump shopkeep, "That is extortion! Barrels of grain are worth no more than 10 gold!"
"It is in short supply, lady! The goblin raids have picked up in Hampton of late. It’s much harder to get grain these days! Please lower your voice!" growled the shopkeep, his hands on his hips.
"I care nothing of fool goblins and defenseless farmers. 30 gold is not a fair price! If you should continue to have the gall to try to rob me with a price such as that, I will tell everyone in the city you are nothing but a thief – you are no merchant!" she snarled, fire in her eyes.
"The lowest I can go is 20 gold a barrel! Anything less and I ruin myself! Surely you can understand that!" complained the merchant.
"You are a fool, fat man, and you are sweating too much. Your grain is not worth more than 12 gold a barrel. Do you always feed such lies to your prospective customers?" teased Elicia, laughing in the man’s face.
"I will not tolerate this nonsense any further! I will not be insulted such! Get out of my shop! NOW!" yelled the man, his face red with fury.
Elicia laughed, despising this whole business. She hated dickering for prices. Rain was better suited for such things. All Elicia ever did was manage to pay too much or be thrown out of shops. As she whirled around to head out the door, she deftly grabbed a meat pastry with one hand, while gesturing rudely with the other at the merchant. She stalked out. The merchant noticed….
"What have you got there! Do you intend to pay for that??? EH? You insult me in my shop, and then you steal from me too? GUARDS!!!!!!!!!!" yelled the merchant at the top of his lungs.
Elicia rolled her eyes and broke into a sprint across the market. Two guards had heard the merchant’s shout and ran after her. A couple "do gooders" stepped in her way, trying to block her path and slow her down for the guards. With one hand outstretched, she caught one man right under the jaw, knocking him back, and spun around to avoid the clutches of the other man, forcing him to lose his balance and knock over a crate of fowl with a loud crash. Feathers flew everywhere, squawking chickens heading in every direction. The man howled. Elicia ran on, the guards still following her in heavy pursuit. Despite their cumbrous armor, they were still catching up to her. They knew the lay of the market better than she did, and could navigate the chaotically arranged tents and stands with much more ease. Elicia frowned, running on. A large white tent was up ahead of her, a pair of fire-eaters performing their art in front of it. She crashed head on into one of them as he turned, both of them getting tangled up and falling to the ground in a heap. Elicia screeched as his firestick burned her arm before it went out. The other fire-eater turned in surprise, stepping back. Then the guards came bowling in, crashing into him and knocking him down, sending his firestick up and behind him onto the top of the large tent. It immediately caught ablaze. People started screaming about fire, running in all directions. Utter chaos engulfed the market. Elicia tried to get up to run, but the fire-eater was heavily upon her, cursing with a heavy Kakkaran accent. Both guards grabbed her on either side with iron-gripping meaty hands.
"Enough! Stop running or I’ll take a sap to yer pretty head!" yelled one of them.
"Time for the jailer to deal with you!" growled the other, backhanding her across her face.
Elicia was just silent, spitting blood from a split lip. This had been a wonderful day so far. Perhaps jail would improve on it, she thought. Just wait until Hethe heard about this, she thought, rolling her eyes. Grumbling, she let the guards lead her away.
Sid opened one eye. He closed it, opening the other eye. He then opened both eyes, looking left and right quickly. He was laying in a bed in a filthy and dark jail cell. He tried to stand. A searing pain ripped through his side.
"Bah! Broken rib. Stupid wizard!" the elf growled.
The magnitude of what had happened suddenly came upon him.
"Who stole my stuff!? ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH!" he yelled in primal rage, ignoring the pain ripping from his broken rib.
He stalked back and forth in his tiny cell, screaming and kicking the walls, chewing at the steel bars, ripping up his mattress. Suddenly, he stopped, turning to peer out of the bars, sticking his head between two of them. He looked left. He looked right.
"Ha ha!" he laughed crazily, sitting down on his torn mattress.
He began whistling a catchy tune. For over an hour he repeated it, giggling to himself as he mused on his situation.
"As if my head doesn’t hurt enough already, I have to listen to that same annoying tune over and over? Can you find something new?" grumbled a female voice from the darkness in the rows of cells.
"Did you see who took my stuff?" growled Sid, suddenly stopping his whistling.
Light laughter from the darkness was the only answer he received.
"Well? Did you? Who are you!?" asked Sid, "Did you take it? Ha.ha."
"My name is Elicia, if you must know. This is a rather boring place, is it not?" replied the female voice after a time.
Sid stood abruptly, peering through the bars of his cell through the darkness. He remained silent.
"Well, do you have a name?" the woman asked curiously, "We might as well talk – there’s nothing else to do in here."
"My name is Sid. Don’t EVER call me Sidney! I wonder who took my stuff? Do you have a key to this cell?" replied Sid, and then he started whistling the same tune again, giggling to himself.
"You are quite peculiar, aren’t you," she then said, smirking to herself, "Are you an elf? You have an elfish accent, even if you speak as gruffly as a dwarf."
"Yes. I’m an elf," Sid replied, sniffing a big whiff of air, "So are you! I can tell by your perfume! Ha.Ha! Do you have the keys?"
Elicia began to wonder about this strange elf.
"Keys? If I had keys, would I be stuck in this cell??" she asked, "I’d surely let myself out, would I not?"
"It’s possible!" said Sid, "Bastards took my scimitar! Stupid mage!"
Sid began to become angry again, pacing around his small dank cell, cursing.
"I don’t know why you carry on like that – it does you no good. They will come for us eventually," Elicia said, sitting up. She had a very confused look on her face. This elf was very odd.
Loud clanking noises then echoed throughout the cell corridor, letting a wind into the chamber, making the sconced torches waver. The jail was relatively small, having only six cells in it. Obviously this was a holding area and a larger jail was someplace else.
"Bah! Quiet in there! I’m tryin to sleep out here, and yer makin abuncha racket!" growled the angry dwarven jailer, entering the cellblock area.
"Hey! You stole my stuff! Let me out of here!" growled Sid, his eyes wild.
"You’d like that wouldn’t ye! Yer to be questioned for bein a dern spy! I aint letting no spy go!" laughed the gruff dwarven jailer, his belly shaking.
Sid began tearing at the bars of his cell madly. The jailer stood back, chuckling.
"I tell ye, yer the most entertain prisoner I’ve had in a while," the jailer said.
"If you were to somehow manage to leave the keys in here, there would be gold in it for you, you know," purred Elicia from the darkness of the corner.
"Oh would there now? And how do ye suppose yer gonna get that gold to me, while you’re sittin on yer pretty arse in here? Sides that, why’d I trust the likes of a lyin market thief such as yerself?" the jailer chuckled, rubbing his sides.
"Send word to the Seawolf, docked currently on the 3rd pier, and I assure you you will be taken care of. I am an officer aboard her," said Elicia impatiently.
The jailer burst out laughing.
"Yep! And I’m the captain of the that Airship Challenger too! I got a buncha dern gnomes runnin around doin my biddin too! All at me command!" the dwarf howled, almost falling down in mirth.
In his laughter, the jailer got a little bit to close to Sid’s cell. Quick as a cat, the dirty elf shot his arm out, catching the jailer in a headlock, pulling his head hard into the steel bars with a loud KLANG.
"I said…let me out. And give me my stuff back," growled Sid evilly into the jailer’s ear, "You can reach down and give me those keys, or I can just as easily break your stupid dwarven neck and get them myself. What’s it gonna be, stupid dwarf? Ha.Ha."
The jailer gulped. The elf’s arm was like a steel band around his neck, pulling him so hard into the bars that he was having trouble breathing. He began reaching down for the key ring.
"The….keys….are…yours….," he wheezed, holding them up weakly, his hand shaking.
Sid grabbed the keys with his other hand, and he then squeezed harder on the dwarf’s neck, making him go red in the face. After choking and coughing for a few moments, the fat dwarf finally passed out. Sid let the dwarf drop with an audible thump. He then started trying all the keys on the key ring, laughing insanely to himself. Finally, he found the right key, letting himself out into the cell block. He suddenly had a thought. Rapidly, he turned and ran over to Elicia’s cell, sticking his head up to the bars. When he saw her, his eyes widened in surprise. He blinked, then looked again, peering at her.
"Hey you’re cute!" he said, giggling and sticking his tongue out.
Elicia didn’t move from her bed in the cell, sitting stretched out, one leg bent up and the other laying flat. She raised an eyebrow, eyeing Sid sardonically.
"What is that black thing across your face?" she asked.
"What are you talking about? Hey do you want these keys?" he said, dangling them up in front of the cell, making them jingle.
"Let me guess, this is going to cost me?" she said sarcastically, smiling.
"You gotta help me find my stuff! Ha.Ha!" said the insane elf, sticking his tongue out once more, "Do you really sail on a boat? Do you kill sea monsters?"
Elicia sized up the dirty elf in front of her. He was perhaps the strangest individual she had ever met. He was attractive in a rugged way, and he looked very seasoned, yet also very naïve at the same time. His offhand question made her giggle.
"I will help you find your stuff if you let me out of here," she said, standing up.
"Do you drink?" Sid asked, wide-eyed "I like chicken!"
Elicia shook her head, staring at Sid. She didn’t know whether to be afraid of him or not. He certainly looked threatening. Yet at the same time, he seemed like he wouldn’t harm a fly.
"Are you going to let me out? I will answer all the questions you want after we get out of this stinking hole of a place," she replied.
"Got any copper? Ha.Ha!" grinned Sid.
"Copper? What in Derlith for? Just open the cell," she said, beginning to become annoyed.
"Ok Ok Ok," said the dirty elf, trying what he thought was the right key. He got it on the first try.
The cell door swung open with a creaking groan. Elicia stepped out into the cellblock, staring up at Sid, who never took his eyes off of her. Sid smiled.
"You’ve got pretty eyes. You’re ears aren’t pointed enough, though!" he said, grinning.
"Thanks, I think," Elicia said haltingly, turning toward the exit, "We should be going."
"Let me go first. I always go first," said Sid, moving onto the balls of his feet and stalking forward.
Elicia let him by, following him. Sid crept to the exit, peering his head around and looking out. He looked back, shaking his head. Suddenly, he bolted into the other room. Loud crashing noises ensued, followed by a groan. A Highport guardsmen then was tossed into the cellblock, landing with a thud on the floor, unconscious. Sid came back into the cellblock, shaking his head, spitting blood from a split lip.
"Didn’t see me comin! Ha.Ha!" he then reached down and began looking over the body.
Sid methodically stripped the guardsmen, spitting blood the whole time until his cut stopped bleeding. He strapped the guard’s long dagger and scabbard to his side, along with the guard’s belt pouch, which was a little big, so it hung low. The guard’s longsword he strapped to his other side. After a thought, he tossed the dagger to Elicia.
"Here. You stab people with this! Ha. Ha!!" he grinned, suddenly turning to bolt out of the cellblock, "let’s go!"
Elicia rolled her eyes and looked up at the ceiling.
"What have I gotten myself into, now," she said.
She followed quietly after Sid.
To Be Continued...