31 Recent Deviations
Featured: Yokai adopt (CLOSED)
Abomination Ch34: Wheels in Motion Part II Iceport“I should have stayed in bed” Shelagh muttered under her breath for the hundredth time that morning. Shelagh folded her wings tightly against her back and struggled to maintain her footing against the raging wind, heavy snow and coin-sized hail that quickly turned the streets into a nightmare of blowing snow drifts and hidden ice patches. A late season storm was coming in from the south, and Iceport was being hammered with torrential rain on one side of the city and blinding snow on the other. The snow and rain didn’t bother her, but the wind was causing her major grief. Shelagh hated wind like this. Flying in this weather was impossible, and even walking was difficult with the wind constantly catching her wings like sails. The ice wasn’t making it any easier. Slightly ahead of her Septina was also having a problem, although of a slightly different nature. She was walking with her head down, clenching her coat closed with one hand and holding her hat with the other. Septina had gotten drenched by the rain when the two of them left the Icebreaker’s Rest, and now that water was turning to ice. The two of them were on their way to Gregory’s library; the sage had completed his research into her and Oktha’s blades, and she was eager to find out exactly what this thing on her hip was. “I hate this city” Septina cursed, her voice barely audible over the howling wind. “I’ll take a desert sand storm over a freezing blizzard any day.” “You could have stayed in the inn” Shelagh said. “Gregory’s assistant could have delivered the book to you.” “You remember what happened last time we let you walk the streets by yourself, Shelagh? You can’t fly in this wind, and we’ve got to assume Firuz knows that. He may try something if he finds you grounded again.” Shelagh had to agree with that. Three days had passed since the events on the Jewel of the Sands. She didn’t know what the merchant was up to, but it was certain that he had not given up his plans to own her. Septina studied Bjorn’s personal journal looking for any information on Firuz, but couldn’t find anything but flowery praise for the man. It seems the House Master was a personal hero to Bjorn despite the former’s disdain for the northern exile. Just as the blizzard was beginning to increase its intensity they spotted Gregory’s Library. His assistant opened the door and beckoned the girls inside quickly. Septina rushed in and went directly to the large iron stove, gratefully taking off her outerwear and hanging them on pegs to dry. Sheltered from the wind by the adjacent buildings, Shelagh took a few seconds to flex her wings and shake all the accumulated snow and ice off before stepping into the library. Leaving their snow-covered boots by the stove, the assistant escorted them to Gregory’s private study. “Well look what the storm blew in” Erik grinned as he looked up from his work. Since the innkeeper adamantly refused to allow him to brew any potions in the room, Erik had spent the majority of the last three days here in Gregory’s library. The alchemist was feverishly working on preparing potions and other concoctions for the upcoming journey into the wilderness. Oktha often went with him, taking the opportunity to read everything the sage had concerning Sabaria and the dangers that might be found within. He was currently sitting at a small side desk intently studying an old handwritten journal. Shelagh noticed that he was holding a quill and taking notes on a piece of parchment. He was taking his responsibility seriously, and Shelagh was glad for that. “Shelagh, my dear” Gregory called out from behind a mountain of books at the end of the table. “Did you bring it?” he asked eagerly, leaning around the stack. “I did, Gregory” Shelagh replied, pulling out her assassin dagger and handing it to him. “Yes, well” Gregory took the dagger and looked it over closely, mumbling to himself as he did. “It certainly looks like a Life-Drinker, but looks are easy to fake. Give me a few moments and I’ll authenticate it.” Gregory sat the assassin dagger down on the table and slowly began to weave a pattern. “Do you have any more fairy wings, Erik?” Septina asked. “I think I can infuse the wing’s magic into Shelagh’s armor and basically give it its own ability to fly, which would effectively nullify both its weight and its bulk. That’s providing I can find the appropriate pattern references somewhere on these shelves.” “I believe I have eight full sets left” Erik replied. “How many will you need?” “Just one set will do. Now I need to find that book . . .” Septina went over to one of the larger shelves and began to run her finger down the spines, looking for the correct tome. “Speaking of fairies,” Oktha asked “where are those two? You didn’t leave them alone in the room, did you?” “It wasn’t a good idea to get them out in this storm” Shelagh explained. “I asked them to brush oil onto the bearskins to make them water resistant, so they’ll be too busy to get into trouble.” “I’m sure they’ll find a way” Septina predicted. “They won’t leave the shelter of the inn with this wind, but they’ll probably redecorate the room in bright floral patterns. Ah, there’s that book.” Septina pulled a thick, aged book off the shelf and gently set it down on a reading table. “So is this dagger the real thing, Gregory?” Shelagh asked. “It’s a genuine Life Drinker” Gregory declared. “As I’m sure you’ve already surmised Life-Drinkers are assassin’s blades. They were created by a now-extinct cult of assassins known as the Eyes of the Night, and were exclusively given to assassins that proved their loyalty by striking down a close relative or confidant. The cult operated from a secret fortress hidden in the Sea of Sand, and vanished without a trace, oh I’d say about 300 years ago, taking the secret of the Life-Drinkers with them. Twenty years ago a band of adventurers set out to find their hidden fortress in a misguided effort to recover that secret, but they were forced back by sudden sand-storms. The sand storms that plague the Sea of Sand can be dangerous, but they sometimes reveal ancient secrets that have been buried in the desert for centuries. That’s how the tomb of Anka-Ra was discovered. Anka-Ra was the divine leader of the Great Kingdom of . . .” “Gregory” Shelagh interrupted “the dagger, remember?” “Ah yes, the dagger” Gregory mumbled. “Firuz’s belief that the dagger can kill with a single drop of blood is somewhat of an exaggeration. It takes a deliberate killing thrust for the dagger to function. The blade draws the victim’s life force out and consumes it, growing more powerful as it does so. I must warn you Shelagh; there is grave danger in allowing a Life Drinker to grow too powerful.” “What exactly do you mean?” Shelagh asked. “Is this dagger going to curse me or something?” Gregory paused to light his pipe, allowing her question to hang in the air. He took a long draw from it and let the smoke slowly exit his lungs in a manner that Shelagh knew meant he was about to say something important. “If only it were that benign” Gregory cautioned. “The dagger is actually a prison for a dark entity that feeds on mortal life. Mind you this entity is not a fiend, but something else even more ancient and evil. You’ve no doubt ‘heard’ this entity’s voice already, urging you to kill again.” “I . . .” Shelagh’s voice began to tremble slightly, remembering the sinister voice she heard after killing the gnome bandit. “I did, right after I killed Savoni. I also got the impression that the dagger was disappointed when I killed the goblin.” “All life forces are not equal” Gregory noted. “The power the dagger gains from the life of a goblin would be miniscule indeed; I dare say you could slaughter a whole goblin tribe and not provide it with the same amount of life force as you did with the one gnome. On the other hand, if you should somehow manage to slay a dragon . . .” “So this evil entity gets more powerful” Oktha prodded. “How is that a danger to Shelagh? If the entity is imprisoned inside the dagger . . .” “That’s the whole point, warrior” Gregory pointed his pipe at Oktha to emphasize his words “if the entity gets too powerful it will escape. As to what happens after that I do not know, although I suspect that is the reason the Eyes of the Night disappeared so abruptly.” “She should have left that thing on Bjorn’s wall” Oktha grumbled. “Did you finish decoding those letters, Septina? Is there anything pertinent to us in them?” “They’re a correspondence between the Danton thieves’ guild and Rolland Wrenfeather” Septina said without looking up from the book in front of her. “It seems as if this Rolland was trying to acquire the services of a half-orc prostitute, as well as arrange for the assassination of an Iceport noble referred to only as ‘the target’. The Guild Master was probably holding on to these as a hedge against Wrenfeather, or for potential blackmail later on.” “Interesting” Erik mused. “The Lord-Mayor was recently plagued by a scandal involving a half-orc prostitute. Could she be the same one referenced in the letters? We may have evidence of political tomfoolery here.” Oktha gave a dismissive laugh. “That would be great if we were seeking a seat on the Council” he said “but we’re not, so what good is that going to do us?” “Never disregard a potential asset, Oktha” Erik advised. “Do you know who this Wrenfeather is, Gregory?” “He’s a noble that’s made a lot of noise lately” Gregory said, taking another draw from his pipe. “A young and overly ambitious lout that’s dangerous to cross. He gained his lands after his father and two older brothers died under suspicious circumstances. I’ll have my assistant scribe a copy of the decoded correspondences.”*************************************************************************************** Glenna leaned on her brush and looked the bearskin over. Shelagh had laid out all the pieces that she would soon mend together to create a warm coat for Oktha, and she had asked her and Haji to brush some of Erik’s oil into the hide. Shelagh said it would make the bearskin water resistant, but Glenna wasn’t so sure that was necessary. She saw bears all the time in the forest and they had no problem swimming in the lakes and wading in the rivers, so it seemed to her that their fur was already water resistant. Shelagh probably just gave them busy work so they couldn’t have any fun while she and Septina went to see Gregory. She wished that she could have gone with them, because Gregory’s library is such an interesting place to explore, but the storm outside was just horrible. She could hear the rain pelting the roof relentlessly, and the fierce wind slamming against the window shutters. In weather like this, fairies normally hide in a hollow tree or behind a large rock and hang on for dear life. Glenna was glad to be safe inside a human-built structure, even if it was boring. Humming happily, she dipped her brush into the oil and went back to work. It was a good thing that the oil turned the fur a darker brown, or she’d never be able to remember where she’d already brushed. Before long her sensitive ears detected another sound. In the forest even the slightest change in the ambient sounds can warn of danger, so fairies were quite adapt at identifying such changes. Glenna looked over at Haji to confirm that she wasn’t imagining things, and she could tell from the look on his face that he had heard something too. There it was again! The mysterious sound was coming from outside the window, as if something was out there trying to get the shutters open without alerting anyone inside. She saw a thin metal blade slip between the shutters and delicately lift the latch, and then the wind blew the wooden shutters open. Glenna was pleasantly surprised to see that it was the strange creature she met in the Cavern of Steel outside the window. “Oh, don’t worry” Glenna assured Haji. “He won’t hurt us. I met him underground, in a place Septina called The Cavern of Steel. I’m not sure what kind of creature he is though. He must have followed us to the surface.” The creature climbed over the sill, using its sharp little metallic claws to dig into the wood. Once it was out of the wind it flew into the room and landed on the dresser. Glenna always assumed that the little creature could fly even though she had never actually seen it do so. Since it didn’t move its stubby little wings she guessed that the creature must be magical in nature just like she was. With Haji right behind her Glenna flittered over to the dresser to talk to the creature; despite the fact that it never spoke back to her she was certain that it could understand her. “What are you doing here?” she asked. “Did you follow us all the way from the underground?” The creature didn’t respond, but then again she really didn’t expect it to. Instead it turned its two big glassy eyes toward Haji for a few seconds before looking back at her. “That’s my friend Haji” Glenna said. “He’s ok, he won’t hurt you. Do you have a name? Everyone needs a name. I know! I’ll call you ‘Wally’. Do you like that?” Wally didn’t object to his new name, so Glenna assumed that he must like it. Without a word Wally left the dresser and headed over to the corner of the room where Shelagh’s armor was hanging on a wooden mannequin, waiting for Septina to finish enchanting it. Wally landed on the back of Shelagh’s armor and began to examine it as if he was looking for something. She hopped over to the mannequin and watched him, wondering what Wally was up to. After a few seconds of probing, she saw a thin needle-like proboscis emerge from Wally’s underside and slide beneath the shoulder plates of Shelagh’s armor. Then he silently lifted into the air and zoomed out the window without even saying goodbye. Curiously Glenna examined the area of the armor that Wally was interested in. There didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary here. Remembering that the proboscis had gone under the shoulder plate, she drew her needle and started poking around. Sure enough her needle hit something hard. She called Haji over with one of the brushes, and together they managed to wedge the brush handle under the shoulder plate. Haji lifted it up high enough for Glenna to get her arm beneath it. With a bit of a struggle she managed to get ahold of the object and pull it out. The thing was tiny even by fairy standards, being no larger than half a blueberry. It was cylindrical in shape, with rounded ends that fit perfectly into Glenna’s hands. The bottom half of the cylinder was black, but the top half was a transparent green. Inside, she could see a tiny dark green rectangle with gold veins running through it. “What’s that thing?” Haji asked. “I think it’s an egg” Glenna replied. “That wasn’t a very smart place to lay an egg. I’d better hold on to this and keep it safe until it hatches.” She tucked the egg into her pouch. Thankfully the egg had a really hard shell so she didn’t have to worry too much about breaking it. There was a light knock at the door, followed by a woman’s voice asking if there was anyone in the room. The door handle jiggled slightly, and then Glenna heard the sound of keys rattling. She hushed Haji and pointed toward the ceiling. Haji nodded, and the two fairies darted up to the rafters and hid in a shadowed corner. The door opened slowly, and Glenna saw a young human woman peer cautiously around the door and scan the room. Glenna ducked back behind a truss, but the woman wasn’t paying attention to the ceiling. The woman entered the room and shut the door behind her, and then went over to the still-open window and looked out. Seeing nothing, she closed the shutters and latched them securely. This woman must be one of the inn’s housekeeping staff. Glenna expected the woman to leave the room and go about her duties, but instead she began to wander around the room as if she was looking for something. She opened several drawers and rummaged through them, poked around Shelagh’s armor and the bearskins, and looked into Oktha’s pack. The woman was a thief! She wanted to do something to stop the thief, but she didn’t know what. Anything she might do would only reveal not only herself, but Haji too, and the fierce wind had them trapped inside. There was nobody there to help them if the fairies got caught. Glenna was certain that this woman would take them straight to the alchemist shop to sell their wings if she got ahold of them, so the safest thing for them to do was to remain hidden. Most of the really valuable or important things were inside the portable hole or were being carried on her friend’s persons, and Shelagh’s armor was too big to steal. Glenna decided that there was nothing in the room worth risking her or Haji’s life for. She would just watch and see what the woman steals. The woman took Bjorn’s journal out of the nightstand drawer and looked through it. With a smile of victory she tucked the book under her dress and hurried out of the room, locking the door behind her. Glenna was confused. What could she possibly want with the diary of a dead merchant?****************************************************************************************** Sir Rolland Wrenfeather stared out the enchanted glass windows of his study, lost in thought. The heavy rain pummeled the windows while the wind threatened to rip them from their frames. He could see the Sea of Stones far below the cliffs, the waves driven to massive heights by the fury of the storm. He had little concern for his estate however; the walls and buildings were built of solid stone, incorporated the absolute best in dwarven and human architecture, and were enchanted as well. The only thing he needed to worry about was the little beach at the base of the cliffs, and more specifically the narrow trail that led up from it. The beach would be totally submerged by the storm surge, giving the sharkmen the perfect avenue to conduct a raid. Not that Rolland was expecting one. The cowardly creatures haven’t staged a raid in two years. His study was a somewhat drab affair, devoid of all the trappings of nobility that others of his station lavish resources on. He preferred simplicity in his surroundings, which ironically made him favored by the commoners. He furthered this notion of being a ‘common man’s noble’ by wearing clothing that was of a fine quality but otherwise simple, without the garnishment and frills that his peers wore just to flaunt their wealth and prestige. Peasants were so easy to manipulate. Rolland turned his attentions back to room. Only two other people shared the room with him now. One was his most trusted messenger, a man that had proven both his courage and loyalty by delivering his proposition to Lord Alizar the Thrice-Cursed. The other was a half-orc prostitute that called herself Ulla Manbinder, though Rolland suspected that was an alias. The woman was reclining casually on the lounge busily filing her fingernails, and was dressed in too-revealing cloths that clearly advertised her availability to anyone interested. He rolled his nose is disgust at the woman. He truly did not understand how the half-orc prostitute could make any coin at all. While her body was presentable enough, at least for those that liked their women with a bit of muscle, she had a face that reminded Rolland of the south end of a north-bound goblin. To each his own, he supposed. Of course prostitution wasn’t the woman’s main occupation, only her cover. Ulla was also a highly-effective assassin. That was the reason she was here now. Rolland returned to his desk and read his latest missive to the pit lord over once again, making sure that it was both clear and respectful to a fiend of Lord Alizar’s might. Satisfied as to its contents, he carefully folded the parchment so that no words could be seen from the outside. Taking the candle, he poured the wax onto the last fold and pressed his seal into the rapidly hardening wax. When the seal cooled, he handed the letter over to the messenger. The man took the letter from Rolland and placed it into a leather pouch on the inside of his coat, and then rushed out of the room to his waiting horse. The man had personal reasons for getting back to Danton as quickly as possible; as Rolland understood it the messenger was quite popular with the succubi. He reached into his desk drawer and pulled out the message that Lord Alizar had sent to him. His chance meeting with the pit lord’s abomination son was indeed bearing fruit. It was time to put his plans into motion. Soon he will no longer be known as ‘Sir’ Rolland, but rather as ‘Emperor’ Rolland the First. He’ll let the fiends do most of the difficult work of conquering Pangea; he had plans for dealing with the pit lord afterwards. “Ulla” Rolland announced as he leaned back in his chair, “I believe I have need of your services.” “I thought you’d never ask, Rolland. Do you want my body” Ulla smiled and struck what would have been a seductive pose for any other woman “or my blade?” “Your blade will do for now, my dear.”...
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