Another one from the archives...

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Another one from the archives...

Postby Talen » Fri Jun 29, 2007 4:32 am

Beginnings in Blood

The pub was quickly becoming more than I could bear. Cassius was mocking Allanon, and being none to quiet about it. Nicademus was present, but not really taking part in tormenting Allanon, other than perhaps the occasional chuckle. Allanon's whining protests were growing louder, and the last thing I was in the mood for was the screeching of his voice. I was still furious over Sambina's death. I had never really admitted to myself just how attached to that little girl I was. Her loss had the entire House reeling, but I was really beating myself up over it. Not that I could've done anything, of course. I was just... I don't know. I was just... hurting.

All I wanted to do was drink myself into an oblivion, but the bartender couldn't pour fast enough. He was spending too much time listening to Allanon and Cassius argue back and forth. I was quickly losing patience, and didn't really care who suffered because of it.

"You three idiots need to stop making s'damn much noise." I growled as I pushed back from the bar, knocking over the stool. I glared around the room, fixing each of them in turn with a sharp gaze. "I'm getting sick of listening to you, so either shut the hell up or go somewhere else, clear?"

I wasn't so inebriated to notice the subtle movement at the corner of my vision; Nicademus sliding a blackened mask down over his face. The pub had suddenly gone very quiet.

"Talen, c'mon, we don't need any trouble." I heard the bartender murmur behind me.

"Yeah Talen, take it easy," Cassius said with a sneer, "it's not like we're pickin' on you. What's your problem?"

"As if you've the spine to pick on your betters." I scowled.

Nicademus was trying to move out of my vision, so I took a step back towards the hallway that led to the kitchen in the back. I've a healthy respect for the flames mages are capable of bringing to bear, but then, I'm not without my own means either. Still, two on one odds in my current state were hardly favorable, and I knew I'd get no help from Allanon.

I was reaching beneath my robes, mentally going through an inventory of what I had at my disposal when I heard a calm but commanding voice from the doorway.

"Just what is happening?"

I relaxed, but only slightly. It was Nienna, regent of the Haus d'Pariahs, of which Cassius and Nicademus were sworn members. Still, she was a mage, and worse yet, she was flanked by Khallen, another mage. Great, four on one odds. I started working out how I was going to get out of the pub without making too much of a mess. I didn't like the way Khallen was grinning at me.

Khallen. He stepped up to fill the void left by Sambina's death in the clergy of Aziir-Balar, but I was still unsure how I felt about that. Hell, I was still unsure how I felt about him. I certainly wouldn't tolerate his throwing a childish tantrum the way she was wont to do... Nor would I welcome from him a squeezing hug about my waist, only to be followed by a brief fit of embarrassment over such a display of familiarity. No, he could never replace that beautiful little girl with her bouncing curls the color of glowing embers.

I snapped out of my reverie and pulled my gaze away from Khallen, looking Nienna squarely in the eye. She was my chance here. She belonged to the Assassin's sect of the clergy of Aziir; my sect, as High Priest of the Blood. I needed to play on that fact.

"Nienna, I'm glad you're here, perhaps you'd be so kind as to remind the members of your house of their manners?" I was hanging my hopes on that she wouldn't take offense. Otherwise, I was ready to drop a smoke bomb and head for the darkness of the open plains.

I don't think I breathed as she looked from Cassius, to Nicademus, to Allanon, and finally at Khallen. Her eyes narrowed and she folded her arms over her chest when her gaze came to rest on Khallen. An interesting dynamic, I noted.

"Talen, I think we should talk... in a private booth." She said with an air of finality. She turned to Khallen and spoke plainly, "You can deal with Cassius and Nicademus, can't you?" His expression made it plain he'd rather be in the booth with us, but she turned her attention back to me and motioned me over to one of the comfortable booths. The last thing I noticed as I was sitting down was Melvin stepping in front of Khallen, denying him from joining us.

I tried to fix Nienna with a steady look, but suddenly I felt the many drinks of the evening. Slowly I looked at her, examining her closely, as if for the first time. She was small, petite I guess you'd call it. Her hair was red, though not nearly as long as Sambina's was. There was something very different about her though. Where Sambina was young, still very much the little girl, Nienna was mature. She carried herself with an almost regal bearing, a sense of pride. Her green eyes were looking at me, with... with an expression nearing concern?

I shook my head and started.

"I'm sorry, what?" I said. Great. I was off to a good start. If I was smart, I'd have dropped the smoke bomb and have been done with it.

"I asked you if you were ok. You don't seem yourself lately." She was genuinely concerned.

"I'm fine." I tried to sound convincing.

"Sure you are. You're just in the habit of drinking heavily and picking fights then? No, Talen, you're not fine. I'm just here if you need anything, ok?"

"Yeah, ok, thanks... whatever." Crap, I was starting to loose control. I had to get out of here, and fast. I reached inside my cloak and my fingers found one of the familiar shapes of the glass vials that held a special alchemical mixture. On contact with air it would create a brief, but extremely dense, billowing cloud of smoke. I reached for the menu set on the table with my left hand, drawing Nienna's attention to it. Smoothly I flicked the vial out into the pub and grasped the edge of the table and pulled, leveraging myself out of the booth.

"Damn it, Talen! Get out of here if you're going to do that!" the bartender shouted at me as I slid out of the booth. Cassius, Nicademus and Khallen were coughing and blinking in the smoke, but the bartender managed to land a pretty solid blow on my arm as I scooted past him into the foyer of the meeting hall to the south. Grenier just chuckled softly as I winked at him, strolling casually out into the street outside. Then I did what I do best.

I vanished into the dark of the night...

- - -

I never should have wandered out into the plains. I should've headed back to Shadowspire, to the Shadowden, and gone to sleep, but the memories still echoed in those halls too strongly. I needed the open air, the night sky. I was still angry, and still more than a little under the influence of my night of drinking. I found myself wandering the open plains. I paused atop a grassy hillock and regarded the winking lights of Ivory Village off in the distance to the east. The wolves that called the plains home were howling all around me, filling the night with an eerie chorus that rang clear and bright, filling the heavens. The stars seemed to lean in so close that I could reach up and pluck them from the sky. Which one was hers, I wondered? Which one had been lit in her memory, an ever burning flame? The tiny points of light continued their slow dance through the inky blackness above, they weren't talking.

I wandered deeper into the plains, to the edge of the deep canyon carved by the Sanryn. I looked into the deep darkness, the only recognizable feature the glittering silvery ribbon of the river itself as it wound slowly north. The dull roar of the waterfall echoed up out of the canyon, adding it's low voice to the song the wolves were singing to Agrivar. I should've willed myself back to Shadowspire then. The night was too deep, too full, too long...

- - -

I found myself in the dim, flickering warmth of the temple we had built for Him. Darkwind, Sambina and myself. We had labored, we had planned, we had crafted. Our blood, sweat and tears when into the temple. He first came to Sambina with the commission. She was His favored one. How He loved her fiery temper, her innocent laughter, her complete devotion, the devotion of a child. He came to her and commissioned her to construct a temple worthy of His glory. She found Arvanis, the assassin, and Darkwind, the Drow. With Arvanis' disappearance, she turned to me. I was only too honored. So we labored and we created. The temple was the end result, and He was well pleased with our endeavor. He rewarded us with Priesthood. We each represented a facet of Him. Sambina the Flame, ever obsessed with fire as she was. Darkwind carried forth the glory of His Drow. In me He placed the honor of the Assassins. But I digress...

The temple was a place of shadow and dancing flames, the walls glistened and shone as if coated with fresh blood. In some places they were. It was a sanctuary; sounds were muted, voices hushed, His presence felt. I found myself seated in deep shadow, watching the flickering light dance over the mural, reflecting thickly off of the bleeding wall. I shouldn't have been there. Not on this night. Yet there I was.

Footsteps in the misty, warping passage announced someone's coming. I didn't move, not fearing anyone here, not in His presence. Nienna stalked into the temple, striding before the altar. Her movements were brisk. She was angry about something. Soundlessly I rose to my feet and padded silently over to stand behind her. She was breathing heavily and her tiny fists were balled at her sides. I reached out and laid a hand on her shoulder. With a graceful movement she stepped forward, away from me, and spun to face me.

"Tal-... you..." She paused and briefly bowed her head and curtsied to me. In here we observed certain forms of propriety. I nodded to her as she continued. "You startled me. I'm sorry; I didn't know you were here."

"That's quite alright, you're as welcome here as I."

"That's not what I meant, I..." She frowned slightly and turned away.

"I am here for you as well, Nienna, if there is something you'd like to talk about." I let the question hang in the still quiet of the temple.

"It's just Khallen. I don't think he and I are quite on the same page." She sighed. "I shouldn't bother you with that though, I apologize."

"You're never a bother." I assured her. "I'm available for anything."

She turned again and looked at me, a beautiful, deadly grace in the candlelight. "Tell me more about the Blood. Tell me more of the Assassins. Tell me of murder." The words dripped softly from her lips, her green eyes gleaming as she stepped towards me.

"Murder, Nienna, it must be remembered, is an act of intense passion." I heard myself say. Then I was reaching out and falling into an embrace...

- - -

Slowly I awoke, blinking my eyes, focusing bit by bit upon my surroundings. I was in a fog; it had been a long night. I was back in the Shadowden, my room of illusion in Shadowspire. I don't remember coming in. The last thing I clearly remember was the temple. The solace I found there. Solace broken by... I stopped and shook my head to clear the haze. I quietly slid from the bed and rose to my feet, turning slowly, almost with trepidation. I looked at the bed...

And there she lay.
"No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood."
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