Rush Of Blood To The Head, part 6.3.
The guard emerges from the large tent accompanied by three other elven men, one of them dressed up in glittering chain mail and the haughty expression on his face reminds me of a peacock. “Well, I thank you for coming,” Elhan greets us, but it does not sound terribly sincere.
“Well, we came here seeking answers to our rather important questions,” I reply politely, “I might even add that those are questions of life and death.”
“I see. I have my own questions for you, but I shall try and keep this brief. I have little time to waste on you and my matter takes priority,” Elhan speaks haughtily, but I refrain from commenting on his snide arrogance, due to the large amount of sharp, pointy objects turned towards us.
“Well, since I have the reason to believe that you are after Irenicus as well, I just might be persuaded to cooperate,” I reply and Elhan seems half-satisfied.
“Yes, I was told that perhaps you might know something of that person, and I am very interested in learning exactly what,” the look on his face now is dead serious, “I will ask some things of you, and you will speak what you know. ”
“My sages,” he waves towards the two elderly elves in mage robes, “they will detect any falsehood. They are very good at that sort of thing. They will pay close attention to your next statement, especially since you are already damned for having a Drow traveling with you. Now then – let us start with something simple and direct. You emerged from the home of the Drow. Were you fleeing or are you in league with them?”
“Ah, of course… I have Viconia in my group, don’t I? So I must be a servant of the Drow,” I cannot hold back my sarcasm.
“False,” one of the sages peeps up.
“False. This person is not an ally of the Drow,” the second one confirms.
“So, you are inclined to lie. Had I believed you, you would now be dead. Fortunately for you, my sages can see through these games,” Elhan sounds annoyed, “So you are not an ally of the Drow. That is fortunate, though it does not tell me of your current goals. Shall we continue, then? Very well – a name that you might be familiar with, Irenicus. Do you know of him?”
“That’s an easy one, Elhan. The answer is ‘yes’ and I already told you that,” I smirk.
“Strong Truth,” one of the sages squeaks.
“Oh, yes! Very much so - the association is clear,” the other sage confirms and I cannot help but wonder have they ever reached a contradictory judgment and what happens in such case.
“So you do know of this fiend and criminal. I will have to push this matter further. Perhaps you are a window to his plans. Shall we try to determine how much you know, how far your association goes? Are you in league with Irenicus?” is Elhan’s next question in this idiotic witch-hunt.
“But of course. I have chased him through Underdark, risking the life of my companions and myself on every step because I am in league with him,” I laugh dryly, “isn’t it obvious, Elhan?”
“Theodur! Will you stop aggravating him! The sooner we get done with it, the better,” Jaheira rightly chastises me.
“Lies, again. I sense no association,” is the next cheep of the elven sage.
“Indeed, I agree. They are not aligned,” confirmation follows.
“Jeez, what a friendly couple… you never disagree, do you guys?” Imoen asks innocently.
“You lie out of jest, I assume. Why don’t I dismiss my sages and let you hang yourself? No more games, if you please, I don't have time for them,” Elhan sounds rather angry now, “Nevertheless, I am glad to know that you share no association with Irenicus. Such a relationship would have meant your death. This has put me more at ease. Whatever manner of creature you are, we are on the same side in this instance at least.”
“Well, it took you a long time to realize that,” I add coldly, “what about my questions, now? We need to find Irenicus as quickly as-”
“You are certainly less of a threat than I first imagined, but do not think you are welcome as of yet. This area is a zone of war, and I will not take any chances. Especially since there is still the matter of the Drow you bring with you,” Elhan looks meaningfully at Viconia, “I will return to her later, rest assured.”
“Oh, I am trembling in fear, mighty Elhan,” Viconia retorts angrily.
“For now, I will apprise you of the situation, and you will realize why travel in this area is to be restricted. You might have received a warmer welcome, but Irenicus has triggered the strongest of emotions wherever he has tread. He has stepped beyond all bounds of decency, and our very city is under the weight of his thumb. Suldanessellar is simply gone,” Elhan stops after these words, as if to allow them to sink in, “It has only been concealed, but we cannot penetrate the magics that have hidden it. We are forced to remain here, pestered by Drow while supplies falter.”
“Indeed, now that Adalon cannot protect the temple, you were drawn out, leaving the city unprotected,” I remark absentmindedly and the sages are only too happy to confirm this…
“He speaks the truth.”
“Yes, he knows much of this.”
“My fingers are itching and my lips are ready to pronounce the words of the most deadliest of death spells,” Edwin speaks quietly, “just say the words, Theodur, and these two annoying parrots will be put out of their misery (and I cannot imagine a task that I would relish more at this moment).”
“It would seem your travels have given you quite a bit of insight into the plans Irenicus has made,” Elhan muses, “I wonder if you might be of service to us.”
“What makes you think that I want to be of service to you? Right now I feel quite the opposite, with these sages examining every word I say, it is humiliating,” I exclaim angrily.
“Very well,” Elhan agrees, albeit somewhat reluctantly and the sages return to the tent.
“You obviously bear no love for Irenicus, making you the enemy of our enemy. Classically speaking, this might make you our friend. And even if you are not, you cannot reach Irenicus without helping us. He is untouchable, save for one possibility. Within the temple was an artifact of great power - the Rhynn Lanthorn. It is an ancient lantern, etched with the oldest of runes. The Lanthorn is attuned to the Elven nation, and no magic can bar its return to elven lands. We could simply walk to Suldanessellar if we had possession of it. Someone stole the relic when the temple fell to the Drow,” finally Elhan is sharing some useful information, “Obviously it was a servant of Irenicus capitalizing on the chaos of the battle. But the Lanthorn is not in elven territories any more… our sages have been able to determine that the location of the Lanthorn is in the lands of Amn, in its capital, to be precise.”
“Athkatla? Bodhi’s lair was in Athkatla… it must have been her,” I quickly put the two and two together, “And only she would have been trusted with thing of such importance.”
“Bodhi... hmm, you may know more than we about this situation after all. I think that we might benefit from your services, after all,” Elhan ponders.
“Well, fortunately for you, Elhan, we have to slay Bodhi one way or the other, so our plans coincide up to this point. So we will travel to Athkatla, slay Bodhi and recover the Lanthorn – and then you will lead us to Irenicus,” I conclude, “but I still have no idea why would Irenicus do all of this.”
“I cannot say more than I have. Perhaps if I had access to the city I would have insight, but as it stands, I am in the same situation you are. The attack came without warning, born in the mind of a human we did not know,” Elhan’s explanation is rather awkward and I do not need the help of sages to know that he is withholding information, “This was not in the realm of possibility, and it remains as such. He has dealt with Drow, defiled our temple, and violated our city. His name is to be spit and spoken of as rarely as possible. He is all that elves are not!”
“He seems to share the arrogance of elves, however,” Jaheira adds and Elhan glares at her angrily.
“Well, if you know how to find the treacherous servant of this fiend, I suggest that you do it. You seek Irenicus, we seek Irenicus - to help us is to help yourself. Find the Lanthorn and bring it to us - only then will we reach this man,” Elhan finishes.
“I might have something that will be helpful to you in this task,” Elhan speaks before addressing one of the guards in elven. The guard soon returns, carrying three odd looking vials which he hands to us.
“I am not thirsty, Elhan,” I comment, looking at the fancy flask.
“Yes, you are not a real elf and it shows,” Elhan snorts, “The water is exceptionally potent and will prove effective against those that wronged the temple. The wrath of elven gods is in each vial.”
“Ah, the Elven Holy Water… yes, that should work fine against vampires…” I remark.
“Yes. We have talked long enough and you should now set out to your task. I will make sure the guards know you are free to come and go.” Elhan says, but soon enough his face becomes a stony mask of cruelty as he looks upon Viconia, “Unfortunately, I must bring up a final point of contention. I said I would return to the Drow, and now is the time. I will not allow her to accompany you.”
“Yes, I was wondering when you would give voice to the looks you have been giving me all evening,” Viconia snorts, “poor baby Elhan, having to hate me like that…”
“You are an unhealthy risk. I will not allow it,” Elhan’s jaw is set in determination.
“You are an idiot, Elhan. We cannot face vampires without a cleric… she will come with me. Not simply because we need her for the task. For she is a friend,” I reply sternly.
“Very well, there is one way that I will allow her to partake in your plans,” Elhan seems slightly more lenient, “She must first swear loyalty to you and your cause.”
“Bah, such a statement is unnecessary – Theodur knows that I am loyal. But if it will help your doubts, I do so swear my loyalty to his cause,” Viconia spits out the words.
“And she must agree to a Geas. That is the only way,” Elhan adds menacingly.
“So, your distrust in me is to such extent, that you require magical bonds to ensure I commit no treachery?” Viconia looks slightly stunned, “you have to wonder if the drow are the only elves with blackened hearts, as you are so eager to always point out.”
“Such talk does not endear me to you. Do you agree or do you not?” Elhan sneers.
“We can’t let them do this to Vic! Please, Theo… think of something…” Imoen looks at me pleadingly and this time Jaheira also notices that Imoen is holding Viconia’s hand in hers…
“I agree with Imoen – this Geas… ‘tis not natural! It would be an affront to the natural circle of things if we would allow to confine Viconia with such magical chains,” Jaheira concurs and Elhan is showing signs of dissatisfaction.
“Drow! Drow! They are coming!” suddenly loud yelling from the elven guards interrupts our conversation…
“Not again… very well, you are free to go! Make haste, as we might not hold out for long – recover Lanthorn and return to us as quickly as possible!” Elhan shouts before leaving us to rush towards the frontlines.
“Which way to Athkatla?” I yell and his reply is barely audible amongst the shouts and clinging and clattering of the weapons. To North…
Rush Of Blood To The Head, part 6.3.
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