Part 14 : The Godmother.
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Posted 27 October 2002 - 06:15 PM
Twilight 14 : The Godmother
Her head pounding, every muscle in her body screaming in protest, Vierna forced her eyes to open. She found herself shackled to the wall, with a long, strong chain around her neck. Her armor, weapons and spellbook had been taken, but the dweomer Arokh had placed on them let her know that they were very near. Glancing around, she noticed her friends were in a similar state. Lenny, Gerty, Shivon and Glyill were also chained to the wall. Brimstone lay sleeping on his side in the back on the room, being subdued with no less than five chains, since, judging from the blood in and around his mouth, which wasn't his, he had put up quite a fight against the attackers.
Checking her surroundings, she found herself in a large, window-less room filled to the brim with packing-crates. 'Typical', Vierna thought to herself, 'why do villains always set up camp in an abandoned warehouse? But... where's momma?'
Before Vierna could finish her thought, the lone door in the warehouse flew open, and a number of five drow entered. One of them was her mother, while three others, all males, made sure to keep their crossbows aimed at her head at all times. The other was another female, who looked to be somewhat older than her mother, though the two were startlingly alike. The second female was slightly taller, however, and, unlike her mother's deep green eyes, hers were blood-red.
"Ah, I see my little niece has awoken," the second female chuckled. "Zarr," she directed to one of the males, "awake the others, save the hell-hound..."
"Leave her alone, Cyrilla! I swear, if you hurt her..." Viconia threatened. The two remaining males tenses and nervously kept their crossbows cocked.
"Well, well, well," the second female known as Cyrilla bent before Vierna and grasped Vierna by the jaw and squeezed slightly. "Let me take a good look at you... Oh, my!" Cyrilla suddenly exclaimed as she gazed into Vierna's deep blue eyes. She let go of Vierna and turned to speak with Viconia. "She is impure!"
"She is not," Viconia responded coolly. "She is Drow..."
"Oh, don't tell me, dreamer," the female known as Cyrilla groaned. "Don't tell me you've actually mated with a half-bred mongrel? You always were strange for a Drow, Viconia, but I didn't think you'd sink this low."
"Perhaps you are merely jealous, Cyrilla," Viconia smirked. "It's a well known fact among those of the adventuring cloth that half-elves make for the best lovers..."
Cyrilla huffed slightly and once again faced young Vierna. "Who... who are you?" Vierna spoke, her voice sounding more like a hoarse croak due to the noxious gas she had inhaled.
"For all intents and purposed, I am your aunt," Cyrilla faux-smiled. "It seems that while House DeVir burned due to your mother's actions, she has been playing house on the surface... How many children, Viconia?"
"Four," she replied, absentmindedly stroking her abdomen.
"And how many children that matter?" Cyrilla pressed.
"They all matter to me, but if you mean to ask how many females, the answer is three," Viconia replied coolly.
"Three females out of four children?" Cyrilla grinned. "Well, that male of yours is a good breeder then..."
"But..." Vierna croaked.
"Let me answer those questions for you, dear niece," Cyrilla pressed. "Yes, I am your aunt. Yes, I have survived the fall of house DeVir. Yes, I've made a name for myself by forming a band of rogues and mercenaries..."
"Like Bregan D'Aerthe," Viconia smirked. "Only less successful."
"Truth be told," Cyrilla told Vierna through clenched teeth. "I owe everything in my life to your mother. Your mother killed Devora, so I became eldest daughter. Your mother took the tedious trade missions off my hands, and your mother's betrayal of our house freed me from under the Matron's yoke. I have been travelling from one Drow city to another, until I came to this fine city."
"Were you no doubt engaged in money-lending, assassinations and racketeering," Viconia shot at her. "You were always an expert in those affairs... It was Ginafae, wasn't it?" she grinned. "Ginafae Esz'Razz shut you down, didn't she?"
"And she will rue the day she interfered with my business," Cyrilla snarled. "But now, dear sister, your child will help me conquer this whole city!"
"Oh, great," Vierna croaked. "Another megalomaniac..."
"You, dear niece," Cyrilla sing-songed, "shall fetch me the Chromatic Chiatare Gems in the mansion of Trade Mayor Azxun'n... Relations between him an Ginafae have always been tense, so he shall blame her for the theft. She, in turn, will deny everything, and while their followers are taking up arms against each other, I shall attack both sides with an army of Juggernaut Golems!"
For the first time, Vierna noticed something of a mad gleam in Cyrilla's eyes, signifying her time after the fall of her house was not as wonderful as she herself had described it.
"Juggernauts against the most well-trained guardsmen of the entire Drow race?" Viconia snorted. "Not bloody likely."
"Under normal conditions, my golems wouldn't stand chance, but in a severely weakened state, those forty golems could crush them. Then this city will be mine!" Cyrilla chuckled.
"And how do you think the other Drow cities will react if the stream of tradegoods suddenly stops?" Viconia asked with a sceptical tone of voice. "They will march against you."
"Not if I have complete control over the Nexus!" Cyrilla chuckled and rose her arms in the air. "Then I'll show those stuck-up nobles how much power a rogue-noble can hold!"
"And to think I used to consider you the sanest female member of our house after Vierna died and Dipree fled..." Viconia muttered.
"Dipree has become one of those weakminded priestesses of that harlot Eilistraee now, and lives in Skullport... treating sick, weak and dying. Fitting, I suppose. In any case, Vierna," Cyrilla smiled. "YOU will steal the gems for me. You may choose one FEMALE partymember to help you, but the others will stay here as... security. If you fail to bring me the gems, they will be slaughtered. If you betray me, they will be slaughtered. If you fail to return the gems to me before the night is done, they will be slaughtered!"
"Very... very well," Vierna managed. "I choose... momma to help me."
"No," Cyrilla said. "I can't run the risk of the two of you cooking up an ill-conceived plot to betray me and free your friends. Besides, how do you think I knew you were here? Viconia hasn't been sitting still since she betrayed house DeVir. She has reached powers all priestesses of Lolth don't dare to dream of! My wizards could detect her powerlevel as she entered the city, and Trade Mayor Azxun'n's guards will see you coming from a mile away... Choose again..."
"WHAT!" Gerty cried as Vierna was given time to discuss the situation with her party in somewhat of a private moment. "You chose Glyill to help you over me?!"
"Sorry, Gerty," Vierna smiled apologetically. "But Glyill knows how to more in utter stealth and silence..."
"I CAN BE SILENT!" Gerty shouted. "I CAN BE STEALTHY! I'M AS QUIET AS A MOUSE!"
"I think you have just answered you own question, Jansen," the ex-assassin Glyill muttered.
"They will kill us?" Shivon asked. "But what are they trying to do?"
"Cyrilla is mad," Viconia said. "Or maybe simply power hungry. At any rate, we had to steal the gems anyway, so we could await for the right opportunity to steal them back from her, but we have to play it safe and we have to be very careful..."
"They'll kill us anyway, right?" Lenny simply stated.
"Oh, man!" Gerty said. "And here I was just hoping the mean, treacherous and cruel Drow would play nice for a change. It just goes to show : You can't trust the Drow!"
Vierna and Viconia whipped their heads around to both give the gnome a very, very icy stare. "Errr," Gerty replied, "present company excluded, of course..."
"I know my sister, I know how she thinks... And I know she is not as smart as she appears," Viconia replied. "I will know when the time to strike will arrive. In the meantime, Vierna, it's up to you and Glyill to liberate the gems..."
"Shall I tell Cyrilla we are ready then?" Vierna asked.
"Yes," Glyill replied.
"Vierna," Shivon asked. "If anything happens... well, you know... I just wanted to tell you that... I love you..."
"I know that!" Vierna chuckled. "And I love you too! And all of you. And I won't let anything happen to you." But still, in the back of her mind, she knew that this might be the last time she would see her friends and mother. Shrugging it off, she decided to set to the task...
Vierna and Glyill snuck from alley to alley in the villa-district of the city. Vierna had her armor and weapons returned, while Glyill once more possessed her leather armor, holy mace and thief-kit. Even though Glyill had been trying to leave her questionable past behind her, she was still quite experienced in the arts of thievery and had no qualms about adding these skills to her newer talents as an Ilmatertian cleric.
Right now, the two were silently making their way through the district, which was dimly lit and sparsely visited, much in contrast to the rest of the city. Finally, they arrived at the villa of Trade Mayor Azxun'n. It was a huge and luxurious two story building, protected by a huge wall. Several swordspiders were standing guard outside the gate, sniffing out possible intruders. Glyill signaled Vierna to sneak through an another alley towards the back of the estate. Once they, the ex-assassin silently threw a magical grappling hook over the wall. The magic grabbed hold of the top of the wall and before too long, the both of them were standing in the courtyard.
Hiding being a number of statues, they awaited the first patrol of guards. Glyill disabled one of them with a spell of Great Command. Startled, the two other Drow males panicked, giving Vierna the chance to sneak closer and slam one in the back of the head with the hilt of the Equalizer, giving Glyill the chance to blackjack the third male from behind. Remembering that her mother had told her traders were only allowed to have ten guards, she knew there were seven left to deal with.
After hiding the unconscious guards in a small tool shed, Glyill regarded the house for a moment, then pointed at a large open balcony and put her grappling hook to the task. Knowing better than to go against Glyills experience, she complied. A few moments later they were standing in a large, luxurious office. A large and rare oaken desk dominated the room. It was nearly organized, and contained more than little works of art and plants. Glyill directed a look at a self-portrait of Trade Mayor Azxun'n, a handsome, yet arrogant looking Drow male. Glyill shot Vierna a grin, as if saying 'how cliché...' For a moment, Vierna didn't understand, until Glyill examined the painting and removed it... to reveal a wall-safe.
Immediately, Glyill started to work. After taking out her thieves' knife, she fiddled with the upper hinge of the safe... and slowly removed a tiny vial filled with green muck from the hollowed-out hinge-pin. Then, she examined the handle of the safe... and filled several small holes beneath it with mucky oil, disabling a second gas-trap. Then, she put her sensitive ears to the safe and started turning the knob. After several tense moments, Glyill cracked an enormous smile as the safe opened with a satisfying clank.
Vierna wiped the sweat from her forehead as she reached into the safe... and found her hand being caught by Glyill. Glyill took out a dagger... and used it to block a particularly nasty poisoned dart mounted in the upper back corner of the safe. Nodding her thanks, Vierna removed a small box from the safe and quickly opened it before Glyill had a chance to stop her. As Vierna regarded the gem-filled box, Glyill immediately grabbed her by the arm and started to drag her to the window. "Warded!" was the only word Glyill hissed at her as she threw both Vierna and herself out of the window, just before the door to the office flew over.
It was a race against time to reach the walls of the estate as the guards appeared from the office window. Crossbow-bolts rained down upon the two sneaks as Glyill launched her grappling hook to the wall and scurried to the top of the wall with amazing speed. But just as Vierna almost reached the top of the wall, a particularly well-aimed crossbow-bolt severed the rope, causing Vierna to crash down again. Noticing the guards were approaching fast, she threw the box to Glyill.
"GO!" Vierna shouted, stealth no longer being an issue.
"I can't leave you behind!" Glyill retorted.
"Take the gems!" Vierna shouted. "Save the others!"
Glyill stared at her friend a few moments, before tossing herself off the walls and receeding into the dark alleys.
Vierna was drew her swords, but resistance was futile : Five guards aimed their spears at her throat while two wizards were preparing to cast destructive spells at her.
"So," the deep voice of a foppishly dressed Drow male spoke as he waded through his guards. "This mere child has managed to steal my prize?" Trade Mayor Azxun'n travelled. "Very impressive. Let us find out how you perform in the fighting arena. I'm sure you'll amuse the masses with your skills..."
Realizing she had little choice, and gladiatorial combat would give her fighting chance, she dropped weapons and allowed herself to be taken into custody, hoping that her friends and her mother would be safe.
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