The long table was set exquisitely. Plates of silver and gold were laden with foods both exotic and mundane. Pheasant, deer, boar, and fish lay steaming in fanciful gravies and juices, decorated with garnishes of all types. Vegetables domestic and from far off lands, were mashed, diced and sliced; as well as arranged in everyway imaginable. Somewhere even cut into flowers to resemble a bouquet. Fruits overflowed from crystal bowls like waterfalls. Dishes from all over the known world and beyond were upon the tapestry runner that reached from one end of the table to the other. There was a candelabra on each end, and one sit in the middle offering enough light to give the whole setting a soft golden glow; reflecting off the shiny surface of metal and glass. Two golden goblets stood filled with the luscious purple liquid of chilled Elvin fey wine. It was truly a splendid setting; But not to the person it was made up for.
Calmly eating his meal, the host was dressed in a white; open cut silk shirt, tight black breeches and slick calf high boots made out of the best waterdavian leather. In addition he wore a tailored black over-jacket done with intricate designs, which were imperceptible. The clothes fit him well. His hazel eyes lifted to regard his guest momentarily, then went back to his plate.
The meat was succulent with the taste of faraway spices from long charted lands, and the rice was spiced with just the right balance of sweet and sour. He was pleased with his dinner; the cook would live another day.
A hearth was carved into the far wall behind him, giving off an aura of orange; thus adding to the appearance of the power he held in simply breathing. Others were in the room, but they stayed to the shadows, not daring to make a sound or move till bidding by their lord. To do so otherwise was to invite a quick and black, painful death. The scent of food filled the dining hall so thickly it was almost palpable; it beckoned with the promise of touching a very oral desire. But it was lost on the person it was set for.
The Man known as the Czar leaned back in his plush seat at the head of the table, a goblet of wine in his strong hand. He again regarded his guest, letting his meal digest. Risvani Ellwithen...the woman who had helped defeat his plans... she sat to his right, pale and lovely, in the candle light.
"You haven’t touched you meal my dear,” he said, gesturing to a spoonful of fine cormyrian pudding. She didn’t answer him. Instead, the elf’s eyes remained upon the fire light of the candelabra, reflecting from the flames. "Do you not like my little reward for your good behavior? I would have thought you would at least be a little appreciative.”
The Czar had slowly lessened the drugs that they had been giving her to keep her in a constant haze; and since she hadn’t tried to escape or become difficult, he had decided to continue to lessen to drugs.
The powerful man sipped the wine, savoring, it momentarily in before swallowing the liquid down. "Does the wine not even entice you? It is the very best fey wine imported from Evermeet itself, and quite delicious a assure you.” Risvani said nothing. "No? What a shame, truly. All of this will got to waste,” his arm swept toward the table, " And after the cook went to some much trouble.” She stayed silent, he mind apparently continued to be lost in the drugs induced mists, that clouded her mind and her will.
The Czar had ordered her readied for dinner, and servants had done their job well. Her dark flowing hair was swept up and done so that it crested at the back of her head, allowing it to cascade a little behind; tendrils of black curls added a charming effect to her gray Elvin features. Tiny bells, the size of dewdrops, decorated her thick locks with little flowers. Her long graceful neck was adorned with a silver y-shaped necklace, fashioned out of intricate coral and sea pearls, taken from the sea of fallen stars; so amazing the necklace was, it lead the eye to fall upon make of the gown that covered about the woman’s shoulders.
The gown itself was a piece of art rarely found in this day and age, the make was a throw back to the fine days of Myth Drannor, and the finery that had once dwelled there. It was a pale violet, a simple affair, wrapping about her to accentuate her attractive figure, and bring out the color of her eyes. The cleric’s full lips were a shade of mulled wine, and her cheeks were a rosy hue. No Risvani was not as beautiful or as lovely as other elven woman the Czar had seen, and he had seen many during his long years, but there was a certain something about her... he smiled, most pleased with his servants work in preparing her for dinner.
"There now, eat something cleric, you will feel better,” He sipped his wine again, and then leaned forward to replace the goblet upon the table. Without a sound, Risvani gripped a steak knife in her hand and lunged at the Czar. The blade aimed at his heart.
The man did not bother to use his favorite item of power, the deep red hued jeweled band of gold about his finger; his ring of teleportation. He did not have to. He simply grasped the elf’s wrist, holding her poised over him in almost suspended animation, the knife ready to strike inches from his flesh. The Czar faced showed less emotion and no expression at the attack. Not outrage, nor fear, or anger.
Some men came from the shadows, one putting a blowgun to his lips; the weapon loaded with a dart of drow sleep-poison, ready to drug the cleric in unconsciousness. The Czar saw this and shook his head, signaling his people to dart back to the dark recess of the corner once more.
As if it had taken all the strength from her body and soul possessed to do the one act, Risvani’s knees gave out and her hand released the knife to the floor. She sank down into a kneeling position next to the Czar, his stern grip still imprisoning her wrist. Her face was beginning to show the effects of the drugs still in her system as the moment of lucidity faded. The Disappointment of her failure, plainly expressed upon her serene features.
Collecting both wrists in one large hand, the Czar used her left forefinger to lift her chin up so her face met his. The seething anger was fading from her violet eye, but remained just under the helpless surface.
He smiled as he gazed at her, "Such fire! Such passion! And from a cleric yet. Perhaps now I see of what Ky sees you. Or did you not show him that of you... I think perhaps you did... I am impressed that you became lucid enough to even think of attacking me. There is nothing he has, that I can not take away from him.” His face became angry for a moment, then relaxed into a look of friendly pleasantness. "Aaah soon... Soon all will unfold as I have planned, my dear Risvani.” His thumb stroked her lower lip, "And I will call checkmate in the end.”
Rising from his plush chair, he nodded to someone in the dark corner at the other end of the room shuffling out of the shadows at his lord beckoning, came a bent old man in brown robes and carrying a pouch and shiny needles. As the man walked across the room, than Czar knelt momentarily, only to rise, lifting Risvani’s body in his arm as if she were nothing but a small child; her violet eyes gazed glassily at the man who now held her with a look of desperate despair.
"Now Risvani Ellwithen, you have had a long evening, one most trying and stressful on your nerves I’m sure.” He let her head loll back to expose her long neck. The bent man reached the Czar’s side, opening his pouch and dipping a fine needle inside of it. When he removed it the tip was dripping wet, with a fine liquid. The Czar nodded again to the old man, and said to the elf in his arms, ”Perhaps it is best if you rest some, and take a nap.”
The old man held Risvani’s head in on hand to steady her, then stuck the sharp point of the needle deep into the flesh of her throat; the drug dripped down and mixed into her bloodstreams swiftly. After he removed the needle, he used the sleeve of his robes to wipe away the drop of crimson blood that was left from her neck. No longer being needed, the bent man shuffled away, back into the shadows.
The Czar moved the clerics head so it rested against his powerful shoulder, then turned to leave the dining hall. As soon as he left, servants rushed in and quickly went to work cleaning the tons of food left behind uneaten. The lord of the mansion carried Risvani up to her room and bed. By the time they arrived, her eyes had become glazed, like silken sheet lining a large bed. All thought gone from her once shinning Amethyst orbs.
He took another sip from the golden goblet that he held in his hand. "I am aware that you haven’t been eating while you have been staying here Risvani. That does no one any good.” He rotated the cup so the wine rolled inside. "You should at least try the pheasant on you plate it is quite good.”
A tiny tinkling, like fairy laughter, signaled the slight turning of Risvani’s head. After a heartbeat, the Czar slowly gazed back at her. It seemed as if the cleric was trying to remember who and where she was; reality was a dream she was trying to grasp. With his unending patience the Czar allowed her to try for solidity of thought, amused by the effort more than anything else. But then she said, ”You should have seen your sons today, they are magnificent.”
It was enough to give her clarity. The lovely face crumpled into a traumatic teary ruin; it would have broken the heart of a lesser man, but the Czar was not a lesser man. Yet he spoke as if to reassure her. " They are still safe, healthy, and strong, truly, they are a testament to you and Ky.” Her head lowered, creating tinkling bells, like a chime. He saw a diamond of a teardrop fall, break on her hands, primly fold in her lap.
Before anymore could be said, there was a whispering sound from the darkness around them. The Czar looked up to the shadows, and frowned. He beckoned with a flick of his hand. The visitor approached the light, sliding along stone floor. Two black marble eyes gazed at the Czar, shining with hidden knowledge. Once at the man’s side, the creature bowed.
"The Prrrrrodigal ssssson comessss assss I am sssurrrre you know, Massssterrrr.”
"So tell me something new.” The Czar rested his chin in fist, his elbow on the arm of his chair. The creature certainly liked to play games.
"He comesss not alone. If you would like I can dissspatch them forrrr you?” It squatted upon the floor, and tilted his head, "it would cerrrrtainly be an honorrr to do sssssso forrr you my masssterrr.
Sighing the man said, "No. It is not your concern.”
"Asss you wish.” The strange insubstantial creature rose again sharp spikes on its’ body shinning in the fire of the hearth. The Spiral Dancer noticed the Czar’s guest and seemed pleased. "Ahhh, it isss she with the mossst ssscrumptious eyesss.” It leaned her, it’s long claws poised over her, "how I misssed thossse gemssss of amtheissst.”
"Hold Spiral Dancer.” The Czar spoke calmly, not needing to raise his voice to have his commands obeyed. The Creature did so looking over his shoulder at him. "Touch her not.”
"You promisssed me herrr eyesss...”It whispered, the disappointment clearly in it voice.
"Not now! I have need of her whole. And there is no need to remind me of what I say. I am well aware of what I told you. Your wish will come soon enough. Now Go.”
The Spiral Dancer backed away from the commanding elf, regarding the Czar in it unearthly cool gaze, dark orbs that served for eyes. "Asss you wisssh my masssterrr.” It bowed, and then sank back into the shadows where it had come. One knew that Spiral Dancer left, for there was a feeling of weight being lifted off the room. The Czar sighed again. The creature was getting more difficult to control, and though he had no doubt that it would only do as ordered; he did not like individual thoughts running through those who served him; unless he allowed it. His attention returned to his guest who sat mutely at his side. "Your food is getting cold Risvani. The least you could do is taste it.”
After awhile, Risvani’s head lifted, making the tiny bells in her hair ring again. Her face expressionless, as her right hand went to her silverware. It rested there as if she forgot what to do.
Suzail, crown of Cormyr, rejoiced, in the days of a hot Flamerule day. Great crowds massed outside the keep in the middle of the city, to witness the first sighting of their future king. Alusair Obarskyr, Regent of Cormyr, rose the infant high into the air, and smiled. The crowd roared with happiness, as the heir to Cormyr, seemed to be a healthy and fit. With a light wave, the Warrior queen lifted her child, and hurriedly entered her chambers, to the cries of the people.
One man gazed up to the stone castle and sighed. Behind him a burly warrior stood and watched with a smile.
"May Tyr guide that young ones soul." The man said.
"And may he reign well, like his grandfather before him."
The shorter of the two replied. Gathering his cloak about him, the shorter man began to walk.
Ky Darkfriend, ranger of Mielikki, walked with a quick gate, his twin short swords by his side. The wood elf adventurer, moved as if possessed. His black hair flowed, about his shoulders as a soft warm wind entered from the bay. Ky was not a tall man, most elves weren’t, but what he lacked in size he gained in strength and quickness, which were guiding force for a ranger. His hazel eyes scanned the crowd, and ne watched a tall man garbed in familiar, whites and blue. The man approached him and called out.
"Hold Ky, wait for me."
Hadrein Lyons, gazed at his friend worriedly, in all his years as a Ky's best friend, he had never seen the ranger so flusttered. Something was truly eating away at the ranger's resolve, something he had never seen before.
Ky looked at his friend and sighed. How could he tell his friend, that the women he loved, and his children were being held by the most dangerous man in Cormyr. And why hadn't Risvani told him? He wondered to himself. Of all the people in the world, he loved Risvani, most of all. She was his life, the only thing that gave him meaning every time he set out into the world.
Now that safety line was threatened by the man he once called, a mentor, a father. The Czar.
Hadrien slowly caught up to the hurrying ranger, and shook his brown hair. "You think he will be there, when we arrive at the inn?" The paladin of Tyr asked a look of worry still clouding his gracefull features: even though just past his fortieth winter he still held the visage of his youth. Hadrien was a tall man, with a powerful build that belied his age. His black hair showed streaks of winter white, as well as the the beard that was graced with one large streak of white going about he middle of the man’s chin. His blue eyes scanned the inn and absorbed ever passerby in a gaze, only a paladin could, seeking out those with the potential of evil, or wrong doing.
"Probably, you know Tom. Trouble doesn't find him, he finds it." Ky smiled briefly. The mention of the young thief always brought a smile to his face.
"After five years of being by himself, you would think he break out of that habit." Hadrien returned the smile. Ky winked, he had brought up Thomas the Quick as his, own. He had shown Thomas the ways of the system; the fighting technique that depended on the coolness and self reserve of a fighter at any given danger and time. The young thief had taken to the training like a fish to water. Now the time had come to put the training the test. Ky remembered the foe they were up against, and how deadly he truly was.
The Czar was not some ordinary thief running a minor thieves guild. The man owned the night in the lands of Cormyr. Assinasation was his trade mark, and all those who did not pay homage where dealt a swift blade, and fell poison. No the Czar was no ordinary thief; he would be their greatest challenge.
Amazing, how the wheel of life works. Only sixty years ago, another Obarskyr was doing the ritual of showing. That time he had been sent to kill the man. He didn't... no he couldn't take that man's life. Ky had seen the good in the King, and that had touched his heart. A heart that should have been closed from all types of human feeling. His aim should have been swift, perfect, without sound. The arrow sped down like a bolt of lightning dealing out quick justice, piercing the true enemies' leg. What had been a misfire, would cost the wood elf for the rest of his life; it would cost him dearly.
Now the circle was complete, he was back in Suzail, of course with bounty on his head, and was looking for the only woman he would ever love. He remembered Risvani on a day quite like this a few years back.
It was the night of Midsummer; the night of lovers. Selunes's moon showered the green, glade in all its beauty, cascading the wood and the ground, the lovers had been resting on. With the shimmering light cascading off Risvani's skin, she seemed akin to some wild wood spirit, set loose to capture an unaware travelers heart. She had done just that, captured his heart and held it. That night her radiant eyes gleamed with anticipation, and his heart leapt. This was truly the women he loved. He could smell the wildness of her, as he touched her smooth skin.
The smell of her hair scented with the faint aroma of spring flowers, just after a summers rain.
Right there and then he knew where he wanted to be, and why. He could still feel the heat of her kiss, the sweet taste of her engulfing his senses, and awakening in him his desires. Slowly he knew the time was right. Both elves had slipped out of their clothing and now bathed in the soft caressing light of Selune. Ky's eyes remembered the night, that special night so long ago, and the words they spoke of.
"In the cool light of Selune, and the blessing of the earth mother, Mielikke, I would ask Seliasa Ellwithin to be my beloved for the rest of my mortal days and beyond."
Risvani only smiled, and her hand gathered him close. The coming together of their bodies, increased their bond, and the ones they both shared.
"Yes, in the eyes of Selune and Mystra. In the Cool light of the moon Goddess I would ask Kyserius Darkfriend, if he would have me for the rest of my mortal days, and beyond." She held Ky tighter, their warmth spreading. Ky weeped, his light tears gently falling onto her beautiful face.
"Aye my beloved, with all my heart, and all my soul. May the three goddess smile upon us this evening and forever more." Ky kissed her deeply, the sound of his heart beating ever faster.
"Ky..."Hadrien shook the ranger. Ky's, face showed confusion, as if waking from a dream. "Hey, get a hold of yourself, we're at the inn." Hadrien gazed at his friend.
Ky tried to clear the fog from his mind. Damn, get a hold of yourself, your not going to be any good to them if your confused, it'll kill me and them, he shouted at himself. "Are you sure your all right?" Hadrien asked again. Ky's patience was losing out, with a sharp, stop asking that question look, he quieted the paladin. "Let's find a table, Tom should be here any minute." Ky replied, walking into the inn, Hadrien following. Thelver's inn was quite today, as quite as Ky's heart.
Ahaa, how things work my way, the figure thought, gazing at the warm fire light. The quaint room would be considered large by most, but the figure that now sat in a fine plush chair, considered it small. With a raise of his hand, he brought the chilled wine to his lips, and savored the cool feel of the feywine slowly go down his throat. The taste of the wine was exquisite, as was the whole room, he know sat in. Carpets adorrned the floor, in blues and purples. even though it was Flamerule, the hottest month, a crackling fire now soared in the hearth. A fine lacquered table, holding both parchment and pen was set to the far off side.
The man yawned and stretched. His muscles rippling from the release of tension. The figure was a powerful man. As toned as any adventurer, and just as skilled. He wore an open cut silk shirt, that displayed his muscled chest. Tight riding breeches adorned his powerful legs, and riding boots well pass his calves finished the assumable. The man stood up and his hand circled as if tracing a rune in the air. With a faint speaking of a word, a white light engulfed him and he was gone. Days like this, the man known as the Czar simply wished to be alone. From above the glade he could see two young elven boys playing with the gifts he had given them. Powerful gifts. A light breezed wafted through the air as he gazed down from the window of his mansion. The ring of teleportation he used always worked and never failed him.
Turning away from the cloth-blinds he gazed at the fine bed, in the middle of the room.
"You should see them. Both are like their father, powerful and strong. It is a shame they will suceed where there father could not." the Czar replied, moving to the bed. The figure simply gazed at the Czar with no recognition. Gently the man slipped his hands underneath, the figure head and made a tsk like sound.
"What a shame Risvani Ellwithin, that you could not see your boys today. A shame, that I had to drug you. You see I know all about you, chosen of Mystra. I know that you are to powerful to let loose about. You would simply ruin my plans. If you were coherent you would know, that I don't wish to harm your children, or you. I just want to strike out at the one who failed in his task. Your lover, and my pupil Ky," The Czar rocked, the still form of Risvani back and forth, "how ironic, that both of you, have paved the way to my final victory. You, Risvani destroyed both my star pupils. Killing off the Araelith, and furthering Ky's stupid notion, that he was more than a assassin... that he was something more, an actual human being.
"No you are wrong. I created him! I shaped him! I gave him life! The heart that beats within him is mine, the soul that is in him is mine! The Araelith was made for him. Adimethin, and Evanthia, the elven lovers, destined to be togther. No you changed the equation, and it is only fitting, that your offspring, No my offspring! should take their fathers places by my side. Because of you two, the twin hands of death will be reborn. The Arealith will be reborn."
The Czar placed Risvani's limp head unto the pillow, and again walked to the window. He watched the two young boys, that were Ky's sons. He watched them grow, not slowly; faster, developing at a quickened state. Both they used powerful toys in their hands. The swords were doing the job nicely, he thought wickedly.
Risvani, had heard each soul gripping word. Each horrifying detail of what the Czar had said. It was too amazing, to believe, but Risvani knew the truth, she knew the truth years before. It all made sense. How was it that the Czar, seemed to all ways to locate, Ky at any distance, at anytime. Now she knew the answer, that was the reason she had been found, she had shared a pychic bound with her love. A bound that no one beside Ky would now. That was how they found her and her children at the hut those weeks ago. Tears slicked her face, as she gazed groggily at the window and the man standing near it. This time she knew that both Ky and herself would not make it out of this alive, and that her children, her sons, the ones she loved most in the world would be heading down a dark and treacherous path.
Ky watched his ale for more than a breadth of time. The head had gone stale, from sitting more than a couple of hours. Hadrien simply gazed at his friend. At forty summers, Hadrien had lived a good life, sired, two strong boys, and a girl, with his wife Cara Moonsea, the Oriental half-Elf fighter. They had lived a simple life, and for the last fifteen a peaceful one. Both had retired from adventuring, to settle down and care for the little ones. Hadrien sighed, he knew that Cara would see many more summers, for as he grew old, she would still retain her beauty, and while he was in his grave she would find another. This pained the proud man, as Ky's dark mood seemed to wash over him as well.
Retirement, that was fifteen years ago. Not so long for and adventurer. He could still remember, Cara's last words after they're lips parts. I fear for your life Hadrein, please don't go, stay with me and the children. How could he, Ky had returned, broken and battered, almost crazed, speaking of Risvani, and the children. Whose children he couldn't figure, yet he would not let his friend down. He would travel the realms with Ky even if they headed to the nine hells and back. They were brothers, connected at the soul, by a greater force.
Hadrien simply cleared her eyes, and smiled. "I will return I promise." He did promise, and paladins always kept their promises. Yet in the back of his mind the paladin knew this time things woulds go different. That this time there would be no going back.
"What is this a morgue!" A voice broke the melancholy. Both the ranger and the paladin looked, as they saw a tall, nimble man walk in to the inn. At the figure's side a large grey, white wolf, bounded to the table and to Ky. With a thick lick, the wolf said hello to his best friend.
"I love you to, Silver." Ky patted the large timber wolf. The Wolf’s eyes gazed like silver, and a sliver of light caught the orbs. The young wolf was the offspring of Lupine, Ky's most trusted friend. The wolf had passsd on several years before. Ky was pained as he looked at the strong animal. At times he wished that he was a human, with a shorter life span. He hated seeing loved ones die before him, as he knew Hadrien and Thomas would.
"Runs in the family, huh." the young man sat near the others. He ordered an ale, and discarded his cloak. The man was young about twenty five winters, he had wavy sandy hair, and a wicked disamring smile that could but any one at ease. His eyes were quick, green like jade, and beamed with the light of intelligence.
The serving wench let the ale drop, and gave the young man a quick once over.
"Tom you never cease to amaze me." Hadrien said as the wench scrurried away. Thomas simply laughed. "Come's with being, one of the richest merchants here in Suzail. Plus my other nightly duties." Hadrien sucked in his teeth, and Thomas burst out laughing.
Ky impatience was growing. "Did you find something!" He yelled. Both men at the table looked at the elf. Both showing hurt expressions on their face. Ky felt low, he had just screamed at two of his best friends, those who had come to help him.
"I am sorry my friends. I didn't mean to shout. My nerves, I have never felt this way."
"Don't worry, I understand,"Thomas put his hand on Ky's shoulder and smiled, "I am glad I could help you, for what you have done for me. It took awhile, but my contacts in the Rackers, Suzail leading mob, seemed to be acurate. It is true the Czar has resurfaced after years, and that he making a power play once more. The Rackers gave me all the information I needed, with detailed blueprints to his mansion and the grounds. Of course the greedy bastards, don't want anyone upsurping their power here."
"Can we trust them?" Hadrein asked voicing what was on Ky's mind.
"No! not as far as you can throw a drunk, and a whore togther. Their spys say they have Risvani. As for the children nothing."
Ky face darkened, if any where harmed, the Czar would pay a heavy price. "What of the defenses? Things have changed, since I was last there."
"The situation gets better," Thomas said sarcastically, "Magical traps here and there. A full complement of assassins. And something very interesting. Two new men. Never been seen before. Word out in the street, they are very powerful. Both wield strange looking swords."
"Obviously a trap." Hadrien said, his hand slowly edging up his two-handed sword.
"Obvioulsy." Ky responded. Sliver gave a playful yelp, and ky scratched his behind his ears. "What should we do?" Ky said feeling unsure of himself.
Thomas simply gazed at his teacher, and friend. "What would my master do?"
Ky smiled. Both men trusted him. With friends like this he would surely triumph, or would he lead them to their doom. With a shake of his head he discarded all the evil thoughts.
"We go tonight, Thomas bribe any on the thieves highway. I want no interruptions, I don't want to have to kill anyone. Once we near the mansion, we get in and out. You two find the children get them to safety. I'll find Risvani. If you find her first make sure she's with the children."
"And you?" Hadrien wondered.
"I have an old score to settle first before I follow. Leave as fast as you can, and don't wait up for me. I'll head to Baulders Bridge we should only be a couple of week separated once you head from westgate, I will catch up ." Ky said and looked at his friends.
"I'll see you tonight, I have to prepare." The ranger said walking toward his room. Hadrien looked at Thomas. Thomas simply smiled.
"Might as well have my things in order just in case I don't come back. See ya tonight." He gathered his cloak and waved his hand. Hadrien feeling very much alone, payed for the drinks, and headed for the temple of Tyr.
Blades sang in an open space, and sparks flew into the air as enchanted steel met enchanted steel. Both fighters broke from their whirling dance, and gazed at each other. They had battles for hours, each not giving the other the measure. Each strike had been countered and recountered. None scored a decisive hit.
The Czar gazed at the young men proudly, his sons would do just fine as his new body guards. He would need them, for he knew his most hated enemy would move against him. Of course that was what he would do.
"What do you think? Better than their father, huh." He handed the man next to him some wine. The figure looked at it and sniffed.
"Come now do you think I would bring you all the way from Baulders bridge, to kill you." The Czar looked hurt. The man gave a drink and smiled.
"The best zzar I've had in a long time. A good vintage as well."
The man known as Thistle Downspar, lay the glass down on the stand. "I must admit, they do take after their father. How did you pull it off." The master assassin and leader of the Nightcloaks of Baulders bridge asked.
"Not easy. It took me almost twenty years to find the blades, and enchantments. They are called, Valenisha, in Elven, or Sprits of the blade. They were created by a mad elven wizard some time back in Myhtdrannor, and were lost, during its destruction. Lucky for me I found them. The spirits inside are particularly nasty, feeding of the life force of the user, aging them, and finally leaving a burnt out husk."
"Their fate?"Thistle pointed.
"The same." The Czar smiled. "After them their will be only one Darkfriend left alive." The Czar took anothe sip of his zzar.
"And me where do I fit in?" Thistle asked. There was something strange that he couldn't put a finger on, watching the man. The thief was a master of observation; one had to be in the field he worked in. This man, that wore a half veil about his face, gave him a very odd feeling.
"You are the only man to come out of a fight alive, with my pupil you should be glad. Most aren't that lucky. I offer you the chance to finish what was started forty years ago. If your willing, and your skills haven't left you with age."
Thistle was a proud man, a man who had killed lesser for a remark like that. The only one who had matched him sword to sword, had been the Darkfriend. They had battled too many time to count over the last twenty years. Thistle could not dispute that Ky was the better, yet it would be a great joy to finally, wipe that stain off his honor. Thistle, simply grinned at the Czar.
Like a coiled viper his hand shot to his dagger at his belt. Striken'shod, the soul drinking, cursed dagger of Mythdrannor, cut the air in a deadly arc, toward the Czar's head, and impacted against the chair. The image of the Czar slowly faded away, to leave an open space. The sounds of swords striking, still continued, as Thistle wondered were the Czar had gone. Shit, magic! Thistle whirled as he felt a tap on his shoulder. The Master Thief inverted the strike, cutting in, only to blocked by a magnificent blue shortsword.
The Czar beamed, stepping back and bowing.
"The stories I've heard about you are true. your speed is incredible... well done. I was right to have called you. I knew that you would have tried to strike... bravo!" The veiled man laughed, and with a flick of his jet black hair, he walked toward the door.
Thistle watched the man, and a cold shudder ran down his back. He had worked that strike to perfection on many occasion, and had had it turned once by one person. Now as a he watched the Czar movement's he knew why he felt a familiar sensation. In amazement he looked at the same fine steps of the Darkfriend, leaving him behind. Something was very wrong, and Thistle was right in the middle of it.
It was a warm Flamerule night. The city was deep in celebration, due to the showing of the new air. Laughter, and noise filled the city streets, as passerbyes engaged in warm conversastion, and merry making.
Three adventurers garbed in black made their way down the main road of Suzail, pass the palace and toward the noble section of the city. Each man was garbed in black, and one complained about the choice of clothing.
Hadrien sighed, he was a paladin of Tyr, not some thief skulking around a dark allyway looking for a mark. Thomas quited the man with an elbow to his ribs. "So you would go into a dragon's nest with no armor." Thomas whispered, as they turned a corner. Hadrien shrugged,"better to be with out armor and face your foe with honor."
"Spoken like a true fool." Thomas shook his head.
"The man you speak of has no honor, Hadrien. If he did we would not be in this situation." Ky remarked and brought his cloak tighter about him. The ranger never felt the warmeth, if he had he didn't take notice. His mind was on one mission; the rescue of his children and the woman he loved.
Thomas stopped the companions. He quickly moved his head, to and fro and darted into the nearby shade. The friends had gathered near a large gated fence covered over by dewy moss, and brush. Hadrien, and Ky moved to the barrier as they heard passerbys talking about the next round of celebration on the morrow. Ky hated the look on Hadrien's face. He knew his friend would rather go straight in facing the foe head on. Yet the ranger knew that would be a foolhardy thing to do. The Czar, his former master, was a assassin of great ability, and his guild was one of best in the realms.
It was not long before Thomas slipped out of the shadows from beyond the fence, his blade slicked with blood. "Took them quietly." He said and began to place a black kerchef around his face. Ky followed suit. "It will be easier with the look-outs out of the way." He unsheathed both his magical shortswords, Hide and Seek, and his eyes went to his friend, who had pulled over a blue scarf to hide his features.
"May Tyr forgive me." Hadrien brought up the back. The paladin had left his plate-mail back at the inn, and like the others he wore a shirt of fine chain mail-links about his form. "No Talking, hand signals, and bird call only." Ky began to climb the steep fence. Like a nimble spider, the ranger quickly was over the gate. He landed upon the soft grass, and went to ground, his body merging with the darkness. Ky heard a noise to his left and his right, and saw both his friends land next to him. The group had studied the layout of the Czar's large mansion compound. The plan was to sneak in through the basement, and work the undertunnels that the mansion, held. The ranger hoped that he could remember the way to the upper bed chambers where the Czar might have kept Risvani and the children. If he had forgotten the way, it would not matter, he would be dead.
The Czar's grounds were large, and resembled many of Suzail finest estates. A great deal of the land was grass. From the gates a cobble stone pathway, led to a great foutain, where water pored down from the great marble reliefs. The mansion itself was massive, having more than fifty rooms, and several floors. One just visiting could get lost through the maze of rooms and sub chambers within.
The companions raced swiftly, across the yard. Resistance, what little their had been, was made quick work of by Thomas's flashing rapier, and Ky's shortswords. Hadrien brought up the rear. The paladin's duty was to take out anything that was larger and more difficult to deal with.
As they rounded, the left side of the structure, they came to a large hedge. Ky halted his friends, and moved closer to the grassy wall. His memory returning, he knew this was a entrance to the great hedge maze, that took up most of the backyard. The ranger swiftly went to his friends, and with his hands, gestured to the wall of green.
"Its the hedge maze. If we take the wrong way we could be lost for days."
"Can you navigate it."Thomas had asked. The hedge had not been in the plans given by the Rackers. Thomas made a mental note of it, and promised something very special for them, when he returned.
"I should be able to. My memory is returning. The maze was used to train us so we could find our way out of any maze trap." My memory is returning. This was part of the training. Beware, though their are fearsome creatuers within."
"What else is new? ,"Hadrien placed his hand on Ky's shoulder,"then lead on, ranger I've a wife back home, who needs my loving touch." Thomas smiled at the jest, and Ky joined the young thief with a smirk of his own. The tension all three felt, wore away. Like years before, the friends had shared danger together. A deep bond had grown, that nothing could destroy. The others grinned, and the ranger, swept into the maze like the warm Flamerule wind.
Thistle Downspar, walked down the long corrridor of the guest rooms. In his head he had gone over the plan, and he continued to do so, watching the two men at his side. If his plan to get at Risvani worked, he would be in a great position, with the Czar, plus he would be able to finish his contest with Ky Darkfriend. This time he would be the winner.
The two men at the side of the thief, watched the slimmer half-elf hesitantly. Their orders had been to slay the man, if he tried anything out of the ordinary. So far the half-elf simply wanted to relieve himself at the jakes. A simple request. The Czar had been explict, Thistle was not to be left alone. The assassins would obey their leader. One of the Assassins gripped Thistle arm strongly, and pushed him into the relief room. Thistle simply grinned. Thistle was a lion grinning at an antalope before the kill.
"Take off your weapons" The burly man said. The assasin, was a large oak. his chest was bare except for the rope slinging diagonal about his chest, and attached to the scabbard behind his back. The man's head was covered with a cloth mask; his jaw stuck out like a plank on a pirateship.
Thistle removed his weapons, but didn't remove the grin. The assasin sneared, and handed them to his partner. "Now I would like some time for myself, unless you want to watch. Not a pretty sight mind you." Thistle moved over to the jakes. The man with Thistle's weapons watched disgustedly.
"Look, Cerben, I'll wait out side. He can't do nothin with out these." The Assassin walked out the room.
"You do that Rife! leave me here to do the dirty work!" Cerben, the assassin with the killer chin said sarcastically. As thistle continued to relieve himself, Cerben turned his body in disgust. "Tell me when you finish?" The man wondered, why had the Czar but up with scrawny theif. He wasn't an assassin like he and Rife. By the look of the man, he could barely kill a bird in his hands, now his lord wanted him to watch the half-elf. There were worse duty, Cerben thought. Not wanting to look at the man sitting near the Jakes, the assassin began to wonder how long it would take for the thin half-elf to finish. Cerben would be waiting a long time. The assassin never knew what hit him, as a powerful hand gripped his chin, and another pulled at the rope about his chest. The Last thing Cerben heard, was his own voice, as powerful hands twisted, and Cerben's own neck snapped from the strain.
Rife, lay against the wall and waited. A man with little patience, Rife was an individual perfect for killing work. He was nimble, and swift. His reflects honed from hour of practice. Even Cerben would fall before his speed with his long sword. Shorter than the muscled man, and also the smarter of the two, Rife had poven himself, by killing a number of marks; people not worth the prices on their heads. If need be this half-elf Thistle Downspar would just be another casualty of his swift blade. Rife waiting, wondered what was taking Cerbern and that scrawny little man so long.
"Is everything all right in there." His hand began to move the copper hued knob of the door. With a click the door opened cautiously. A voice broke the silence.
"Everything's fine, this little shit's playing stupid. Maybe we should just off him here, save the master the trouble later." Cerben's voice cracked back. Rife, giggled, good ole Cerben, probably beating the crap out of the man... maybe he should stop him... Nah let the big man have some fun, Ah what the hell why not join him. "Hold on Cerben save some for me." Rife rushed in, his feet skidding on something wet. The assasin hit the pavement with a resounding crack. Rife's nose exploded falling face first onto the stone floor, and smearing in refuse.
The assassin looked over his hands, and saw dark stains, and a thick, syrupy liquid running down his open palms. Horrified, he saw Cerben's cold body laying in a pool of his own red, blood. His head was tilted in a odd angle, and his eyes seemed to want to grow feet and walk out of their sockets. Blood welled from his mouth, and several teeth littered the floor, in a strange mosaic. Rifes terror grew when he saw, the thin half-elf appear from the shadows, like some ghost coming back to haunt its killer.
In Cerben's voice Thistle spoke. " You wanted to join in the fun, didn't you Rife. Let it be my pleasure." Thistle twirled a gleaming hunting dagger in his hand. The steel had a deep reddish hue, and a humming sound could be heard form the blade. I'm hungry, master, it's been a long time, the dagger replied in Thistle head. Thistle grin, turned into a horrifying smile.
Rife's eyes bulged, as Thistle struck. The hardened steel ripped through tender flesh. The arteries about the neck opened and blood welled from the gyser, that was Rife's neck. The man slumbed down in his own life blood. Thistle gathered both men and hid them deep in the room. The master thief hoped none would find the bodies till the morning, by then he, Risvani, and her sons would be gone. Laughing, Thistle knew the day he had waited for was moving ever closer. The day both Ky and he would lock blades, and he would come out of the battle victorious.
Thomas cried out, as the long tentacle snaked along his leg. The green vine was long, slimy, and covered with sharpened barbs. It was connected by several more vines that lashed in the air.
Hadrien gazed at the monstrosity, and lifted up his two-handed sword. The tenticles were connected to a bulbulous body, some nine feet in hight. The creature's head resembeled some nightmare tunip, bursting forth in the spring. The mockery of the thing was that, it was a tulip, with fangs, and dripping saliva.
The paladin reared back as another barbed limb, lashed the air like a whip. He rolled and brought his battled-honed stength into a slashing arc. The blade tore through the limb with a ease.
The plant beast reared back in pain, it's maw giving out a crazed scream. Hadrien ran about, going to the creatures right. The plant beast wasn't as hurt as it seemed, as a tentacle caught the paladin around the ankle and lifted the warrior from the ground.
Even as Hadrien roared in fear, Ky flew into the main body of the plant beast. The plant brought several tenticles up, to block the swift moving ranger. It was futile as the two elven short swords struck. Vines went this way and that, as Hide, and Seek did the work.
Thomas still stuck by the creature powerful grasp, brought up his rapier and let fly in a downward slashing arc. The tentacle was severed, and green life blood spewed out to the grass.
Digging into his belt Thomas quickly pulled out two stiletto daggers, and with one fluid movement he tossed them at the vine that held Hadrien. The dagger soared with deadly accuracy, and cut the arm vine.
"My thanks!" Hadrien cried as he landed.
"Save it for later!" Thomas ducked a hanging tenticle.
"Enough talking before we become plant fertilizer!" Ky responded slashing another snaking growth.
The giant plant monster, whirled backwards, as if trying to disloadge itself from the ground. Then as if supple wood being pulled bent, went slack, the giant head shot foward, and the maw opened.
"Duck!"Ky screamed, as tiny razor sharp thorns erupted from the deadly cavern. The companions hit the floor desperately, as the deadly projectiles hit the surronding glade. All three men looked on aghast, as they saw the grass erupt in a flash if searing flame.
"There goes our surprise!" Thomas laughed.
"Not funny..." Hadrien rolled out toward the plant creature.
As if surprised, Thomas gazed at Ky. "Is he nuts?"
"No... just crazy." Ky responded as the paladin sprung from the roll, and raised his two-handed sword up. The plant creature reared back for another barrage. Hadrien gripped the hilt with all his might and swung a heavy vertical slice, even as the plant creature was reaching the appex of it's attack. The sword strike took the creature full in the midsection severing the stem and, blasting open both head and greenish body. The red blooms that made up the great head exploded in a shower of burning green gore and flame. Hadrien huffed, and fell on his rump, his sword between his knees.
"Explosive Lotus, very deadly." Ky snickered.
"Ha...Ha verrry funny!" Hadrien snorted.
"At least you have your life," Thomas smiled offering his hand to the paladin,"we best be on our way, the Czar should know we're here now." Thomas lifted Hadrien to his feet.
"The cellar is this way, I can remember now. Oh by the way, prepare to meet resistance most foul and wanting our deaths." Ky smiled and began his run toward the cellar.
"What else is new." Hadrien retorted behind the companions as they all ran into the deadly waiting night.
The Czar smiled as he watched the two young elves spare with the twin swords of Evil. His mind raced back to the time when he had trained, his former student Ky Darkfriend the same movements. He was impressed on how well Ky's sons had adapted to the long swords that would eventually take their lives. The Valenisha, the Spirit blades, worked dark unholy magic on the user, often granting the wielder great ability at sword battle, but evetually draining, the users life force, aging the person.
Now the spirit blades worked their magic on Ky's sons. The czar sat back and reclined, lifting up a glass a of elven fey wine to his lips. The taste was the sweetest of nectors. Much like the taste of victory, he thought as he finshed the glass. As he looked about he large chamber, his eyes fell upon the flickering of light from the scounces that blazed hotly against the walls. The Czar felt a cool wind, pass by, and his eyes caught a blackened figure move to his left side.
"They have eentered the bottomm basement, My lord." The figure said with a bow, and a grace full sweep of his hand. The Czar lifted up another glasss to his lips and smiled. Before him stood one of the most frightful creatures from the demi plane of shadow.
"Well done, Zalnadu. Does he come alone?" The czar asked lifting the wine glass into the light. How red the wine looks, almost like blood, he wondered.
"No myyy Lord. Heee hasss brought two othersss. A paladin and a boyyy." Zalnadu, the spiral dancer replied. A creature from the demi-realm of shadow the dark figure drifted in the air.
The Spiral dancer moved to the front of the Czar then kneeled. The Spiral dancer's form was supple and lithe. Its whole body was made out of the stuff of shadow, dark and bending. When ever light flickered brightly from the torches, the shadows body seemd to disappate some, so it moved.
The Czar examined his minion, and his smile grew larger. Finding the Spiral dancer had been pure luck. While looking upon other planes with his magic, he had unlocked a closed rift in the Demi-plane of shadow, thus unlocking the creatures stored their. In their nature they wrere much like the Malagrym: shape shifters, able to bend like the light or lack of it , and keep their shadowy corpral form from dissapating. Unlike the Malagrym, the Spiral dancer could not take the identity of others.
"You know what must be done. Kill the Paladin and the boy. Let Ky come here, for his surprise. Oh Zalnadu you my have the eyes." The czar finished his drink and stood from the throne.
"Thank youuu myyy lord." The Spiral Dancer rose then bowed, and was gone with the wind. The Czar snickered. To the Spiral Dancer eyes were a delicacy of the race. Below him in the arena he had built long ago, he waited for the eventual outcome of what had to be, Ky Darkfriend's final defeat.
Thistle moved down the corridor, slowly, his body melding to the shadows. The thief felt a cold draft rush by, and the torches that lit the second floor seem to flicker. He could almost imagine a dark figure shifting through the patterns of shadows heading downstairs. Thistle felt a ill wind, when he caught the yellowish eyes gleam for a second then wink out. Fear raced though the thief’s heart as he continued on his misssion.
Soon he would reach Risvani's chambers, and in his hands would be the key to defeating his hated enemy Ky. Thistle tied his long brown hair into a tail, and he began to stride faster down the hall way. There several that looked the same. Made out of wood, with a golden knob to open the door. Thistle being a thief himself knew many where bobby trapped. He would not worry about those doors but he one, that stood before him. The door was like all the others, made from the finest timber out from the dale lands. It had a brownish tinge, with groves from the connecting lumber. A golden knob, circular in fashion was planted on the right side of the door. Thistle almost turned the knob, but stopped in mid motion. A grin played on his face and he withdrew his dagger Striken'shod. The red flare ignited from the anicent dagger, and a hum of life came from the blade. Master? the dagger asked. "We have work to do. The door... Enchanment?"Thistle asked lifting the blade to the door. Striken'shod was a dagger from the once magical city of Mythdrannor, besides beig able to slice through rock, and steel, the blade had a ability to dispell powerful enchantment. Lift me high, master, and strike the portal, the dagger replied. Thistle did just that. He twirled the dagger, the struck. The door erupted in a shower of red and green falme and light, as Striken'shod's ancient magic killed, the magic laid upon the door.
The dagger hummed loudly as it ate away at the energy.
Well done, Thistle mind cried. With a out stretched foot, he kicked in the door, and fell to the ground in a rush, just as he felt a open hand crest high above where his head once was.
Thistle didn't hestitate as he kicked out, and heard a large crack of bone and sinew. The man fell with a thump, a cry ripping from his lungs, even as Striken'shod found his heart. The guard died instantly. Thistle stood up grabbed the dead man's body and hoisted him, just as the arrows came soaring from the direction of the window. The body jerked from the impact, and the force of the arrow flight, sent the thief into the wall. Wiping away his dizziness. Thistle eyed the large chamber, and sweat began to bead down his forhead, as figures began to enter the chamber from secrete panels hidden about the room. They numbered nine, all garbed in black outfits, wielding curved blades and daggers.
Laughing Thistle, withdrew his longsword, and held tightly to Striken'shod. He had been in tougher spots in his life. This time he would really have to see if he was the best. Nine of the Czar best assassins raised up their weapons and rushed the thief. Thistle let his warrior skills take over, the blade dance began in the flickering night.
Ky dropped to the floor, swung left and right. The twin shortsword cut through the first assassins, thigh, sending the man sprawling on the chamber floor, even as the man's blade cut an arc knocking Ky's shortsword from his hand.. " Hadrien, to your right!" Ky said defecting another swordstrike, then sinking Hide into the nearest man gullet.
Hadrien parried the dark assassin's dagger thrust, then pushed off with his strength. In a blur he caught a figure coming to his right, just as Ky yelled out. Hadrien's two handed sword split the running assassin in two, sending a sprey of gore into the air. Just as he pulled his blade from the mans body, the dagger-man returned. The assassin whipped the dark blade in front of the Paladin's face. Hadrien could see drops of fluid from the dagger shaft. The dagger-man whirled about and slashed the air again. Hadrien was no fledging to battle. The assassin had the adventage of speed and quick thrusts. Hadrian on the other hand had the advantage of reach. The dagger-man came in, and Hadrein moved to the defensive. The assassin thrust the blade home, but found nothing but air. He felt something give way, as his chest exploded with seven feet of cold hard steel. Hadrien kneeled, to the floor, trying to catch his breath. He noted, that the air had grown colder, and the shadows had become longer, and darker. The heckles of his back began to rise, as he felt the cold dread of evil course through veins. He could feel the heat of the evil. Something was coming. Lifting himself he saw Thomas working on two Assassins, swordmen.
Thomas wheeled back parried high with his rapier, and with his mainguache, parried low. His dance was graceful, flowing from one movement to another, as he thrusted forward. The rapier sank deep into the man's heart, just as his companion struck the wall with a steel, screeching effect. Thomas tossed the man hanging on his blade to the floor, then positioned himself to a dark shadow. Even as he dueled with the last assassin, he gazed at the fearful face of his friend Hadrien. The paladin shouted something but he couldn't hear him. he couldn't worry about that at the moment. The last strike had almost skewered him. The assassins blade swung high, and Thomas thrust low, sending both blades deep into the black cloth. Thomas felt flesh, then with all his strength he pushed forward. The steel tore up into the man's rip cage destroying his vital organs in the process. The body then slid to the floor.
Thomas laid across the darkened wall. Resting, he never noticed the twin orbs of slitted eyes appear; twin suns after a dreamy night. Ky finishing his man, turned and saw Hadrien cry out. The sounds of the conflict had muffled the yell.He withdrew his blade of quickness, Hope, from his back, he saw Hadrien ran towards Thomas. A cold feeling ran through his veins as he saw a dark figure explode from the darkness above Thomas. Ky moved. Hadrien moved quicker.
Hadrien ran, fear eating away at his heart as he witnessed the shadows come alive. Thomas screamed falling to the floor, as hands of darkness went to claim him. There was ring of steel, then the wall exploded, as his sword ripped into the cobblestone. What ever the creature was, it had disappated, when the paladin struck. Hadrien lifted Thomas up and smiled.
"I'm getting to old for this. Thank Tyr your all right."
"I never thought I live to see the day when a paladin would save the life of a thief." Thomas returned the man's smile. "I Just hope I destroyed what ever it was that was coming out the wall." He looked to the blackend structure. Hadrien was about to laugh when he saw the startled look Thomas gave out.
"Run." Ky said from the other side of the corridor near the stairs.
Both Thomas and Hadrien gazed at the black shadow drift upon the floor of the corridor. It stopped in the middle, and began to corelecse. As if some primordal ooze, the shadow began to rise. The creature blocked the stairway, as it continued to grow. The fear Hadrien had felt before was nothing like he felt now. At that moment, he gripped Thomas's arm and with all his might, he tossed the thief to the other side before the creature became whole.
Thomas yelled. "What the hell!" As he skidded across. Ky was by him in a second, and he cried out.
"Come on! You can make it too!"
The creature, that was the Spiral Dancer stood. Its black structured form shifting lightly with the sway of the torches. It stood about six feet over a mans regular height. It still maintained a lithe body, but unlike before, spike pertusions rippled across its flesh and exploded from its body. It reminded Hadrien of and anicent Kara-Turian death chamber called the Iron maiden.
Two slit like eyes beamed with heated evil, and a darkened pit formed it's mouth. Its maw had razor sharp teeth, that seemed real enough. Hadrien stepped back from the grisly sight and held on to his blade. He saw his companions on the other side and smiled.
"What is he doing?" Thomas was about to thrust toward the creature, as Ky stopped him. Tears began to run down the young thiefs eyes as he gazed at the ranger. Ky's eyes were fixed on his life long companion. Hadrien lifted up his sword, and gave a knights salute, even as Zalnadu let out a ear piercing screech. The Spiral Dancer was loosing a part of its prey in the thief, anger was rising in the beast, as its eyes shifted from yellow to red.
"Get out of here!" Hadrien cried out as he rushed the shadow-fiend. Ky gripped Thomas and began to ran swiftly up the stairs.
"We can't just leave him down there!", sobbed Thomas. Ky whirled on the young man. "Damn it! He knows what he's doing! He giving us a chance to live! To fight on. We can't waste that! He understands!" Ky continued running. Thomas looked back at the darkened stair way, and all he could see was the flicker of waning torch light.
Thistle stepped back and kicked out, sending an assassin into a table, smashing it to pieces. He saw another man come in slashing away. One cut, caught near the shoulder blade, sending the nimble half-elf the wall. The thief lashed out, and Striken'shod caught the man clean in the throat. If the blade could cut steel, it sliced the assassin's throat like warm, inn cheese. The man gurgled and fell, his blood staining purple carpeted floor. Now only two men of the nine remained from the fracus. Thistle held his shoulder, as blood begn to well down. Two assassins left he noted. On had a crossbow, the other a longsword. Him wounded; this wasn't going to be easy.
The man with the crossbow fumbled relatching another arrow. That was all Thistle needed to end his life, as the magic dagger tore through the man face, eating away at his head.
Seeing the man go down in a shower of blood. Thistle moved forward, even as the magical blade appeared back in his hand. The assassin began to move backward. Thistle could see the fear in his eyes. The dark garbed man fell backwards as his foot caught on the surface of the rug. Thistle saw his chance and moved for the killer. The man brought up his long-sword to block the in coming blow, but his weak defense, was nothing against the shear might of the golden cat headed mace that shattered his sword and weak heart. The man's head lopped to the side from the impact, his eyes growing cold.
Thistle stepped back and drew Striken'shod. There before him, stood the woman, the Czar had held captive. Ky Darkfriend's wife, Risvani. He noted that she was still effected by the sleep induced drugs and moved closer. Seeing what she had just did to the man now laying on the floor he knew guile would have to be used.
Risvani teetered a bit, as she slowly came out of the drug. She could feel her cold mace in her hands, even as her mind cleared. Turning she saw a man before her, no an elf. He was lean and well muscled, not dressed like the man she had killed. He had long dark hair, anda weasel long face. She noticed the inner fires of his eyes. She brought up her mace and tried to get to a defensive stance. She was still sluggish from the Czar's drugs. Her memory was slowly coming back, she remembered being captured, taken here with her children. She spat the bad taste from her mouth, as the memory of the Czar's hands about her body. With a growl she stepped back toward the window and readied her mace. If the man in front of her was going to attack, she would show him the fooly of that action.
"Who are you?" She said through clenched fists. Thistle first thought was to strike, knock her out, then he would be able to barter Ky for her. He thought against that; especially in her state. He would have to use his charm.
"A friend of your husband, and of your children." He slid Striken'shod in its sheath. "See the blade is put away, lower your weapon." Risvani glared at him. "Ky's never mentioned you, my sons don't know you, and I don't!" she moved sloppily at first, flinging herself over the bed, and rolling. Thistle not expecting it stood there stunned then he reacted, his reflexes bringing him to bare on Risvani, even as she rolled past the bed and toward the door. Thistle had missed, one the rare times in his life, he itched the draw his dagger, but he knew; no woman, no battle with ky, he needed her alive. So he ran after the elf woman. It shouldn't be to hard to hear where she was going with her bare feet slapping against the floor. He grinned as he remembered her form outlined by the nighty she wore. No wonder Ky loved her. Even though he hated the ranger, thistle had to give him respect, Ky had taste, and with that he was gone following the elusive doe in the dark night.
Hadrian hit the wall hard, his body felt like it was going to shatter into small pieces. The dark creature of shadow came moving in, twin claws of sharp death racking where the paladin had been. Hadrien rolled to his right, and came up on one knee. Blood trickeled form his mouth slowly. He could feel the left side of his rib cage. Several of his ribs had been shattered, by the creature's first blow. The paladin had fought many foes. This one before him embodied everything he had come to loathe; darkness, death. While he worshiped the light, and life. Hadrien knew his time was at hand, even as the Spiral Dancer neared. He could tell the creature was toying with him. Cat and mouse, on a grander scale.
He grimanced when the beast gripped one of the fallen bodies and sucked the eyes from the carcass. Surely this creature was an agent of some dark god, sent to attack life at its base.
Even as the Spiral tossed the body down with a sickening crack, Hadrien knew why he had come. He had known since leaving Baulder Bridge. Since that last night he made love to Cara. He knew that he would be seeing the things he loved for the last time. How she looked in his arms that night as he caressed her, and held her to him. He could feel the smoothness of her skin, the flash of her green-blue orbs on him, even as they held each other in their moments of passion. That moment he would take to the grave with him. It was the love of his wife, his children, and his friends, that would keep him warm when eternal cold descended. He was resolute in his mission, his life. This was what he was born to do.
Standing up in his full height, Hadrien could feel the shattered bones shift inside his chest, he could feel the point of a rib slowly rubbing against his lung. Its going to be over soon, he thought as he gripped his sword for the last time and waited.
"Tyr is my god, he is the blind god of justice, and I am his hand. The hand of Honor!" Hadrien bellowed. The Spiral dancer grinned. this one's eyes would make a delicious, delicacy. It moved closer and spoke. Its voice was sandpaper being drawn across wood.
"Call upon yourrr puny goddd, mortal. Heee willl not stop meee from sucking the eyeee marrow from youuur dead boody." The beast raced forward. A flickering shadow, the Spiral dancer became translucent, then appeared about Hadrein.
The paladin faced death head on raising his sword. The impact shattered Hadrien bones. It gripped the man in a vice lock, and pulled the paladin toward the sharp barbs protruding from its body, impaling him. Hadrein looked down in pain, as the cold shafts penetrated his body. The pain was intense and blood welled from his mouth, as he gasped for breath. He could feel the blood welling in his lungs, but he would not die. Hadrien lifted his head back even as the Spiral dancer bit into his shoulder blade. He reared back and slammed his head in the creature more than solid head... he would not die. A jaw made of shadow exploded from the blow. The paladin had barely hurt it as he fell to the ground. Blood rushed from his, horrible wounds.
Hadrien clawed at the cold, cobble stone. With a grimace of pain and fear, he gazed at a body Ky had felled, underneath he could see the slight glint of steel. Eyes wide, and sweat pouring down his face, Hadrien reached for the blade, even as the Spiral dancer once more lifted the paladin high up into the air.
Hadrien cried, tears ran down his face. He did not cry, because he saw his death in the hard vice of the hellish monster. His tears reminded him of why he had come with Ky so far away from his home. One thought stood in his mind.
He would always be Ky Darkfriend's friend. He would always watch for the companion he cared for most in the world, beside Cara. Now held tight in the grip of a creature of darkness, Ky had left a gift, a shining symbol of their friendship. Seek, short sword of light, the same sword that had been lost during the battle with guards, before this creature of darkness had descended. The blade gleamed in the darkness showering the hall with warm, life giving brightness. It was the light of friendship, the warmth of friends who would never see each other again. The light was a beacon, a beacon to all the paladin held true in his heart. Hadrien felt warmth, so did the Spiral dancer. For the last time he would bask in the light of both friendship and his God.
Praying with all his might and his faith, and with a yell of triumph, he plunged Seek home, deep into the chest of the Spiral dancer.
Light, bright as rising sun erupted from the blade, as it sank deep into the shadowy form of the Spiral dancer. The light ate at the things shadowy flesh, as the Spiral dancer screamed. As the rays of luminance dimmed, so did the form of Zalnadu the Spiral dancer, as it blasted apart in a flame of god forged light and power. Hadrien slumped down to his knees, then to his back. His god, and Ky's love had heard him, and he was grateful. Looking up at the radiance before him, his eyes sight started to dim. He could see Cara's image before him, how beautiful she looked to him in the light. Hadrien could also hear music, as his eyes closed.
"Cara..." her named drifted from his lips, a small lasting whisper.
With one last shallow breath, Hadrien Lyons the last son of lyoness had become one with his god.
Both Ky and Thomas ran down a poorly lit hall. The section of the house they traveled about was in serious disrepair. Out of breath, Thomas stopped, and put his hand upon the the cold, cobble wall. Ky turned to him, his eyes ablaze with memory. Thomas locked his gaze with his old friend and saw the inner fires of memory burning in Ky's mind.
'Where are we?" Thomas huffed, catching his fleeting breath.
"The Arena corridor." Thomas barely hard Ky's words. The ranger moved about as if in a vision, then Ky stepped back pain creasing his face, and Thomas's heart. The ranger slumped to the wall and tears fell. Ky shook his head, as his heart caved in. He knew at that instant, that his life long friend was gone. Hadrien had perished. How he wished he had done battle with the creature instead of Hadrien. To have his best friend in all the world gone was to hard to bare. Hadrien; Ky wanted to die, to curl underneath some rock and let the winds whip him away.
But knowing Hadrien, the paladin would tell him to continue onward, to rescue his children and end the danger of the Czar for all time.
Ky gathered up his sense and gazed at his other life friend, the boy he had befriended many years ago in Arabel, now a grown man.
"Thomas... We are now two." Ky said as he began to walk down the hallway. Thomas watched the ranger, move by like a zombie. Hadrien was gone? Thomas could hardly believe it.
Turning the man watched the other side of the corridor half expecting the jovial warrior to come out racing after them with a host of goblins at his back. Thomas could not fathom, the paladin not being with them. Yet he could almost feel a strange calming presence about them, as if he was was with them; if not in body then in spirit..
Thomas caught up the Ky and placed his hand on his shoulder. With a look, their bond grew. Ky smiled, the boy had grown well. He was proud of the man that stood in place. With that both men walked down the long corridor into the arena.
Risvani skidded past another door. Her eyes scanned a portal and saw that the wooden door was slightly ajar. With all the might she could summon, she called forth the magic still left in her body. The powerful drug was wearing off, and she felt groggy. With a shout, the door expanded and blew apart by the magical energy that was unleashed.
Mystra's power flowed through the elf,and left nothing standing. The door way led into some type of hall, that was long and held brief light ahead. Risvani didn't waste time, she bolted almost slipping. She could feel the presence of her sons on the other side of the light, they were almost in her grasp. She also felt a great sense of loss, coming from the man she loved. Ky was hurt emotionally, something gnawed at his heart. With a flash, her mind was open, and she saw what Ky saw; his best friend laying down his life to find her and her children.
Hadrien, had died for her; he had made the ultimate sacrifice for all of them. Her heart sank at the thought, and she nearly wept for the pain Ky felt. As she neared the light at the other end of the hall, she knew that the man she loved was here, as well as their children, who was in the clutchs of their most hated foe the Czar.
Risvani cursed, as the bright torch light washed over her. The Czar's last day were numbered, none would stop her even as Mystra's fire engulfed him were he stood. That would be the end of the Czar forever.
As both Ky and Thomas walked out of the portal, Thomas looked about. Deep beneath the mansion itself was a large arena. Circular in make, with banners running about it's diameter, all embroidered with the symbol of a raven gripping a flight of arrows in it's beak. All about the inner chamber, light flooded the main area. the floor was covered, with a soft dirt easy to walk on, for support and grip.
Ky walked forward, his movment leaving not a trace of dust or soot. The elf's face left no doubt in Thomas's mind at what Ky was thinking. The young, adventuring merchant, gazed up and saw the most beautiful chair; made of solid gold inlay and bedecked with silver and copper lacing. The plush, crushed velvet, easily formed into the shape of the person sitting on the chair.
Thomas quick eyes noted the two men on the side of the chair. Each wore no shirt, displaying a powerful set of muscles. They both towered above six feet, closer to two inches more in height, like Ky. The one on the right, had a face that was angular his nose straight and perfect, clear blue eyes scanning from the middle. His black hair flowing down past his back, like perfect strands of black silk. In his impressive grip was a longsword of beautiful make, darting green eyes watched the hall slightly misty, as if clouded by a dream. The blade in the man's hand, gleamed a bluish hue, easily seen in the light.
Magic, Thomas thought.
The other on the left, seemed to be an exact duplicate except for the piercing blue eyes, and the rougish smile, that was displayed on his wide lips. That one had Ky's smile, his stance was that of the ranger, powerful, yet deceptively relaxed. Thomas knew the figure in the chair, if only by name. The man's mouth dropped at the sight. There sat Ky in the middle of the chair.
Different clothing, but same skin color, eye, hair and frame. Thomas shook his head in amazment. A sets of twins? He asked himself.
The Czar smiled, amused at Thomas's expression. With his right hand he smoothed his black hair, and with the other he tapped the chair. The Czar had waited for a long time, to long for his son to return.
"Welcome back, my son. We've been expecting you for some time. I'm glad you have not let us down." The Czar stood from his chair, and clapped. Ky simply watched the man. His eyes where steel, as was his soul.
Never in his wildest dreams, had Ky expected to see his own face staring back at him. He had never seen the Czar with out his mask, or drapery; now looking at the man he saw himself, and wondered if he shared the same expression as Thomas. Ky forced himself to gaze at the other Ky serious.
"What? You never guessed? Never suspected, you and I were the same." the Czar laughed, his voice echoing about the chamber. "What a fool I trained. I thought you where more observant."
Ky walked forward and withdrew his blades. His sons where the only thing on his mind, and if need be he would kill to get them.
"Where are my sons! I want them now, and I promise not to kill you."
The Czar laugh faded as he sat back in his chair.
"You kill me, don't fool yourself. I made you who you are, you ungrateful bastard! You could never harm me. As for your sons, well they've taken your place, fitting ending isn't it. Oh... I should remind you, after your gone they will be to, once the blades take away their lives and leave only their husk." The Czar sat back, and with a raise of his hand a wine glass appeared.
Damn Magic, Ky thought, his anger rising. Even as he moved forward his sons mimiced the motion. Ky didn't want to have to fight his own sons. That was the last thing in the world he wanted. He had to get to the Czar some how, he just needed an opening.
"Why bring my sons into this, why not just capture me, and drag me here?"
The Czar giggled. "Stalling for time are we. Good. It wouldn't have been as fun. Several times I had tried, and failed. I must admit that was a rare thing. If not for that bitch Risvani," Ky almost lept up at the Czar, his sons blocked his way leveling their blades.
"Now Ky control yourself, or the system will control your rage. Now where was I? Oh yes that bitch Risvani shows up. In Arabel, and in Shadowdale, where you lay almost dead. How fantastic it was to find out you had gotten the bitch pregnant. And what better way would it be to have your sons here working for me. Surely you would come for the whore, what else would you do. What choice was left to you?" The Czar smiled.
Ky fell back, and sheathed his short swords. He noticed Thomas stride forward. Thomas held his rapier ready. "What do we do?" He asked, gazing up at the man known as the Czar. Ky simply shook his head, for at this minute, he could find no solution. The Czar had his sons. He was the only one that could transform them back to their previous way. The Czar also had Risvani, and with out Risvani their was no more life for Ky.
"We wait, and let him play his hand." Ky whispered. Thomas stepped to his side, still gazing at the Czar.
The face that resembled Ky's cackled again. "Thinking about that bitch again weren't you... Can't you tell I can read your every thought, your every move."The Czar stood up, and with a quick wave of his hand gestured for both Ky's sons to move to the wings of the great chair. Then with a flick of his hand, and a small incantation flowing from his lips, he vanished.
Both Ky and Thomas, reacted. Ky lept to where the chair stood high to the balcony just as Thomas followed suit. Man and Elf moved in perfect unison as if one, bounding up the long tapestry that hung down from the Czar's balcony. Ky leapt unto the area quickly, then ducked as a blade tore into the air up and over his head. Thomas cried out, and hurried faster, as Ky's sons, moved with lighting quickness. Thomas was surprised of how fast they moved.
Ky had his shortswords up and moving blocking this way and that. One of the blades broke through his guard sending the powerful ranger back, just as one of his sons, rushed into his right, and faked a back handed swipe, then inverted to a diagonal slash. Keeping his other child at bay, Ky sent the deadly strike off balance, and careening towards Thomas. "Thanks!"
Thomas yelped sarcasticly bringing up his rapier, in the same marked flashing speed. The battle was joined, and from the entrance of the room the Czar watched with great glee. His plan was working to perfection, just as he had planned. Soon everything he had dreamed would come true. Nothing could alter them.
Risvani continued to run down the dark corridor, where she saw a bright light. The glare was so bright it hurt her eyes. She still was recovering from, the poison the Czar had made her imbibe for more than a week, and the rays stung. As she neared, she noted the sound of Clanking swords. She had heard this sound before many times, in battle, and she knew something was going on. Looking behind her briefly, she noted thats she saw no trace of that Thistle character who had spoke of being Ky's friend. For some strange reason she was glad. That man was defintly trouble. Dangerous to both her and the man she loved.
Even as her bare feet slapped the floor, her heart leapt in horror as she gazed at the sight before her. "Sweet Mystra no!" She cried holding her mace in hand.
She could see what looked to be Ky, and another man fighting two other warriors that resembled both her and Ky. There appearance was that of her sons; but that could not be. The twins were only children, not men. The two men dueing battle with Ky moved like him and held his appearance. Risvani wondered if the poison was finally turning her dumwitted. As she shook of her bewilderment, she noted a fifth person, near the light she was heading. The man she saw was tall standing a little over six feet. The figure was powerful shaped and muscular.
He had long black hair that came down past his shoulders, and light green skin. He wore a lshort of silk, with puffed shoulders, and black form-fitting breeches. Knee-high boots glistened as the bright glare of the light washed and played over their high gloss.
The figure stood leaning against the side with his arms in akimbo. Moving stealthly, Risvani sidled toward the man. She held her mace to her and with a soft whisper she called out. "Ky?"
The elf turned as if in a dream. Risvani wondered if the poison had dulled her instincts as well, even as the warning sign played lightly across the hackels of her back. The elf that had turned was definetly Ky. He had Ky's flashing hazel eyes, that could see in the darkest shadows. His skin was the same tanned, green it had always been. Risvani's heart soared. She had dreamed about him so often, his touch against her skin, the way his chest heaved up and down, as they slept. his poweful, yet gentil hands across her hips as they playfully made love.
The emotions swirled about her and made her heady.
Even as she came closer and gazed at Ky she saw the other man in the dark cloak battling for his life. That Ky moved like the one she knew speedy, dashing. In his hand, Hide and Hope danced and parried, never delivering a killing blow to the other, as if he was trying to save the look alikes. Risvani held her place scanning the scene, as the man with no weapons came closer.
"I 've found you at last..." The elf that had the appearance of Ky smiled. "I've missed you so much, I've looked so long."He kept his hands outstreatched and his voice was as sweet as molases. Risvani took a step back even as the vision of Ky stepped forward. Risvani then noted, that Ky wouldn't be talking to her by mouth, but would have drowned her in a sea of joy and happiness. From this man she felt nothing, not even on the psychic plane. He saw the elf's expression and brought up her mace.
"You're not the man I love. What sort of abomination are you?" She seethed.
The figure with Ky's face smiled, sly and evil. "The only one that counts, bitch." The Czar cried out and called forth a incantation of fire. Risvani yelped, as a column of buring flame tore about her torso and frame, as if to sizzle the very flesh from her bones. Her brows nitted together and she let out a war cry that shook the hall, the room and stopped the fighting combatants cold in their tracks.
The Czar's smile vanished, as he saw a unscathed Risvani tare from the flaming column that would have turned steel to liquid. Risvani prayed to Mystra and thanked her goddess that she was immune to all types of flame spells. She then brought back her mace and swung with all her might. The Czar tried to protect his face, bringing up his hands full of rings.
"Mystra's Burden!" Risvani cried, her left arm burning with blue mystical fire as the enchanted artifact sent the mace rifling into the Czar head, smashing his face and many of the rings on his fingers.
The Czar went flying high above Ky and Thomas, and the twins. He landed with a crack and bounced a couple of paces upon the floor.
Ky turned toward the doorway and his arm slumped to his sides, his face slack from the shock of seeing the woman he loved most in the world. He was about to move forward, and was stopped by a hand to his shoulder.
"Look." Thomas pointed too the twins. It was as if the very life had been sucked from their bodies and they lay sprawled to the floor.
"No!" Ky ran to his sons, tears streaming from his eyes. Gathering them up in his arms, he could tell they still breathed, and they slept soundly. Ky gave a soft exhale and gently lay them down. he saw Risvani shuffling towards him, her eyes seemingly glazed over by the sight.
"My... my... children, what has he done to them?" She whimpered, her tears flowing down her cheeks. Ky ran to her and cradled Risvani in his chest. She burst into greater sobs, as he held her.
"What has he done?" She looked into Ky's eyes, asking pleading, for an answer. She could find none there, for she knew Ky asked the same question. They had been used as an example of vile vengence, and their children had payed the price. Anger filled Ky heart as he shared both her thoughts and her love.
"Watch over them. I will return."
"I don't want to lose you, not now when we're together, not again." Risvani held him tighter. "You won't. Take care of the children." Ky gently kissed her on the forehead and gazed at Thomas. "Watch them." Ky said leaping down from the balcony, into the arena.
He had been in this circular chamber many times in his life, and he never realized how small it really was. The training, the memories of such a harsh man. How had he, and the Arelith-Evashia, survived it.
He had been so lucky to escape, so lucky to be found and befriend a man like Lucian, his ranger mentor. Only to have his dreams of peace shattered by a murdered friend and a burning home. All because of vengence. One man's sick, twisted way of getting back at a wrong not right. Even before the day he had been assigned to kill king Azoun, he knew he would never do it. He had wished for Evashia to share in same ideals he held; to have his same dream. It was to late for her though, the Czar had bent her will to him, and she had served him well, to the point she had hunted him down, and killed poor Lucian.
Ky could feel the bitter taste of irony creep into his mouth, and he spat the taste out, as he reached the fallen body of the Czar. It had begun in this arena; now he was about to but an end to his living nightmare. Funny even as he reached for the Czar's body, Ky had wondered why he had not seen the Arelith. She had not been anywhere near the Czar during the confrontation, had she truly died during the time the slayers did battle with her in the Astral plane, thus causing her supposed death, and the near death of his close friend Nycronis Naelis. What had happened to her?
With ease, Ky hoisted the crumbled body and a wave of pure horror washed over his face.
"I'm right here." The Czar said. Ky let go dropping the Czar, fear gripped his heart and terror his soul. His worst nightmare had come true. Their stood the Czar; right eye swollen and fingers smashed along with several of the magical rings. Long black hair still cascaded down the figure's back, followed by green darting eyes, and soft pink lips that held traces of blood.
The once barrel chest of the Czar had grown softer and more rounded, as breast had taken the hardness from the torso. Where slim man like thighs where, they had become rounded and full, sporting a women's hour glass shape. The Czar had also grown shorter, standing a little over five feet.
"Noooooooooooo!" Ky let out a scream of rage and fell to his knees shacking his head. The Czar, Evashia gazed at the ranger,striding over to him. With a swift kick to his head she sent Ky sprawling.
"Yes, Ky all along." Shaking his head as if the rid himself of a bad dream, ky looked up and saw the woman he once loved hover over him. She couldn't have been the Czar, there was no possible way,he thought.
The Arelith grinned, and like a cat she circled about him like prey.
"Of course, its possible, anything is possible with the use of magic- you fool. All you had to do was follow what I had set for you and all would have been fine. All you had to do was kill Azoun and all would have gone the way it was supposed to, you and I, the hands of death. My one and true love. But noooo. You had to chose that bitch Risvani, after all I did for you. Look, bitch, look at your man now!"
The Arelith cried toward the Balcony. Thomas gazed at Risvani who still cradled the twins, and looked over the railing .
"By Tymora's soul." Thomas watched in horror. "Risvani come over her quick," He gestured for her; Risvani shook her head. "You better come see this." Thomas cried, terror in his voice.
Risvani laid her sons down softly and walked over to railing. there she saw the nightmare rise from the deapths forgotten. There stood one of her most horrid fears. To her apprehension, their stood the Arelith, someone she had thought destroyed by one of her longtime friends. There she stood garbed in the clothing of the Czar as if they where one in the same. With terror, the truth had finally found Risvani. She hated herself for never figuring it out. She, Ky, and Arelith were able to manipulate the psychic plan. The Arelith had always been able to find them where ever they had gone. No wonder the Czar had been able to capture, her and the children, no one else knew where they might be accept Nycronis and possibly Ky if he decided to really search his mind. Rage filled her heart and she gripped her mace harder as she gazed down at the haunting figure.
The Arelith looked up at Risvani and smiled. "Thats right, bitch, I'm still alive. That little bastard Nycronis will pay for what he did to me." She looked back down and saw the hunched over ranger simply huddled in misery.
"Why? How?" Ky whimpered, the only thing he could hope to say.
"Your so stupid, how could I ever have fallen in love with you." She kneed him in the face sending Ky to the floor, face coming down on gravel stone.
"Don't you remember?...Wait you can't, because of the spell. Look upon you Kyserious Darkfriend, this is all yours. The guild, the assassins, me, all of it," She gripped him by the shirt and seethed, spittil hitting his face," you where the one who wanted to kill Azoun the first time, you underestimated him, thinking since he had just come into power, killing him the guild would grow greater. You were always bull headed!.
So away you went; and you and he did battle high above the castle parapets. You would have won, you had almost killed the king, but you never took into account Vanderghast the kings mage . You thought the killing poison you had concocted to kill the old fool would work. You never guessed that Vanderghast was immune to most poisons. Just as you were about to kill Azoun, Vanderghast used a fireball spell upon you, destroying your physical form. It was by luck I was able to retrieve you!" The Arelith destructive gaze fell upon Risvani again, and with a quick motion, she caught Ky about the throat, flashing a slim dagger about neck.
Risvani's heart stopped. She knew what the Arelith was capable of, and the fear of losing Ky made her hold her spot as she looked for a way to aid the man she loved.
The Arelith smirked. "The cow isn't as stupid as I thought." She choked Ky harder. The Ranger could feel himself on the verge of unconsiousness, the air from his body being pressed out of him. Yet he was still able to mutter several garbled words.
"Why... not... leave me... dead Evashia? Why...bring me...back?"He asked choking.
The Arelith gave off a bark. " You ask me why. It is so simple, I loved you, I always have. How could I look upon your flesh turned ash, and see the man I once loved. I scoured for years for magic or spell to bring you back. Finally I had learned enough spell lore. I travelled the most hate full planes to bring back a elixir of rejuvination, to bring you back to me. Yet I failed, the elixir worked to well, not only did it revitalize you, it reversed your age, turning you into a child. You lost everything, your age, wisdom, and your memory of me. I could not bear this. So I took up your mantle, it was easy. With the magical items I gathered in my travels, the most was a ring of Illusion, so passing off as you was no trouble at all.
"I still wanted you. To an elf what is a century or two. I would be able to craft you back into your former self. A powerful underground warlord. A little pity from me disguised as a young girl, and powerful father figure, and you would return to take what was yours. But something happened, you developed a streak of goodness you had never possessed. Even when we made love, deep in the dungeons more to keep our bodies and minds focused, it had shown. Sickening, I wanted to cut it away from you with a knife. The Ky of old would never touch me that way. Perhaps, the whore above loves such a touch, not I." The Arelith stopped and began to bring the knife across Ky throat slowly.
"Look Risvani, look how I take his life slowly, as he only now begins to learn the truth."
Risvani watched, and fear ate at her bones. If she tried to attack then the Arelith would surely kill Ky. She had to think and quickly, the Arelith's blade was coming around Ky's neck, and soon darkness would descend over him. Darkness, she thought, why hadn't she thought about that before. Risvani plan was a simple one. If she was lucky, and what she had thought of would work, she would kill the Arelith before she knew it. Risvani began to chant.
Ky felt the blade coming across his throat. He could feel his blood slowly trickle away. It had finally come down to this. He had found out who he truely was. He was no noble creature, with a fostered past, but some evil worker of hate. All of this had been because of himself. The Arelith's life turned twisted because of his vile touch. Risvani life upturned, because of Evashia's haunted goal of vengence of unreputed love. Finally his children who's souls were truely inocent, yet tainted for their fathers past crimes. All these had accumulated for Ky's mistakes.
Ky wanted to kill himself, to slowly pile the dirt upon his grave. his was a life of mistakes. Mistakes that had cost him every one he had held dear. Hadrien, gone dead on this his last mission. Next Risvani, or Thomas. Those who had sacrificed themselves for his love and friendship. Their only payback being to love, a man who shouldn't be alive, and now would feel the cold hand of death on him . Ky sighed all he wanted was to love. To feel the warmth of friendship, and intamicy. All he wanted was Risvani, and now that was gone to. Even as the blade was biting deeper into his flesh, the Arelith cold words shatterd his world.
"That's right my lover wallow in your regret, for as your soul heads to Kelemver's realm. Sad isn't it that we could have shared all this. To late now, I have your image and I can find another. Perhaps your sons when this is over if they still live."
His sons, the last thing pure that he would ever see. Ky rage knew no bounds. If he had to die he would, but she would never have them. She would die with him, the twin hands of of death, a fitting title, for a fitting ending. With a smile, Ky embraced the cool calculating feel of the system. It was a cool lover, long since denied. A part of himself that he had kept hidden, the part that didn't care, nor mattered, as long as the deed was done.
As if in a dream Ky's eyes clouded and the cold inhuman half of his psyche took over.
So absorbed in her mission the Arelith never noticed, the cleric of Mystra begin to wave her hands in swaying motions. A blue aura appeared over Risvani as she spoke the smooth word to the spell. The first was easy enough, and she cast it.
Dark light came from her hands, and traveled the length of the arena towards both Ky and the Arelith. The strands, dark webbing coerlecesd about the two, and fell on them, like a fall of dark water. Then she began her most diffcult spell, summoning all her strength ,her courage, and love for Mystra, her children, and Ky.
With Mystra's burden, her magical arm, she poured her soul out into the mighty artifact, summoning her goddess most powerful gift, Spellfire. With it she let the love she held for all into it.
The Spellfire, roared form Risvani like a loose lion, burning the oxygen from the air as the mystical fire tore from the heavens, on its speedy path of destruction. The Arelith would never see her doom, and like Risvani promised, she would burn by Mystra's magic. The ball of blue-white flame impacted in a eruption of rock and rubble, instantly destroying the ground around them. Exhausted, Risvani fell seeing both Thomas's awe and the spetactular smoke rising from the rubble.
Even before Risvani black rain, and Death spell, Ky gripped the Arelith's hand even as she was about to complete her cut. Gripping the Knife in his outstretched hand. Ky smiled. The Arelith's face blanchd at the sight. She had seen this sight before, only in times of death. She wanted to scream but it was to late. Ky hand was fast and gripped her by the throat.
"Good bye, Evashia, you will never harm or hurt my children ever again. I will always love Risvani, more than I will ever love you." Ky gripped the shortsword Hope in his hand.
"It is not over Kyserious, it will never be over. Even now you think you have won, but I hold all the cards. you will never be free-." The Arelith words faltered as she gazed down into her chest, there she saw Ky's shortsword sticking out her chest.
Ky brought her close into a hug and whispered in her ear, even as her light grew dim.
"Go to hell." Ky laughed, even as the darkness descended,and the ball of flame took the Arelith from him in a stroke of lightning. In one final blaze of white light the Czar's laugh could be heard over the din.
Ky fell to the ground even as the ball of flame quit. looking up he cold see Risvani slump over and Thomas shocked face. Moving quickly the ranger got to his feet and raced towards the balcolny. His memory returned he knew that they all had to get out of the mansion as quickly as possible. Soon there would be no house or anything left to remember the Czar had ever exsisted.
Ky was at the balcony, when Thomas ran to him.
"Well done." Thomas replied slapping the ranger on the shoulder. Ky gave him a worried look. "Get the Children, hurry we have no time, before this place comes down about us." He gathered a groggy Risvani and Passionately kissed her. Risvani slowly came to.
"I knew that would wake you up. We must fly." Ky sped her up and away. Risvani looked about. "The Czar? I mean the Arelith? Does she live?"
"No, and we won't either if we don't go." Just as he lifted her over the balcony the first rumbles began. Then a lance of hot energy erupted from the ground below. Thomas looked at the ranger with bewilderment.
"No time boy, they were set to explode if something happened to Czar. Now hurry." Ky yelled over the shrieking yell of flaming gysers.
The companions had reached the edge of the chamber, when Thomas noted a glint of steel appear in the tunnel. "Um, Ky we have company." Thomas pointed, hefting the young lads. Ky gazed at the man who walked out, twirling a very thin dagger in his hands, and a rougish smile. Thistle Downspar bowed, and his eyes spoke of death.
"Well met family Darkfriend. I am amazed you all still live. My what a feat you killing the Czar, I'm impressed." The booms grew larger, and the arena cracked letting forth spewing lava.
"Thistle we have no time for this, we must flee, or we will all be lost." Ky stepped forward, Risvani held his hand, and the mace in her other. Ky gave her a quick look, and getsured for her that this was no time to fight. Thistle smile grew greater, as he nimbly dodged a piece of falling debris.
"I was her last ace, a present for you Ky. To bad she won't be here to see me kill you. Fitting it would end here. Where both of us can go to the Abyss together." Thistle stepped forward and went into a defensive posture. With his left hand he withdew his longsword. Damn, Ky thought. Gazing at Risvani, he smirked. "Go with Thomas, I need to finish this." He slowly felt her silver, black hair. It was soft and gentle, like his love for her was. Tears welled up in Rsivani's eyes, and she gripped him tighter. "Please come back to me. No... come back to us." She said and they both kissed. Both shared feelings so deep it overwhelmed, and hurt. Their kiss seemed like a life time, they were lovers that would always be together. When they broke, Ky watched Thistle.
"Fine we will play this out. At least let them go."
Thistle simply shook his head and gestured for the companions to continue on their way. "This is between you and me. I have nothing against them. I have honor." Ky snorted, at Thistle speech. "You call this honor. Give up this vengence. Hasn't there been enough pain, enough suffering for us both ?" Ky backed up even as he neared. Thistle swung softly checking the ranger's defenses. Ky simply darted to the side.
"This will never end till one of us is dead. The first time had been luck. A fireball and a wolf saved your life. Not this time, today we see who is the better." Thistle came at Ky swinging high. There was a loud crash as some ceiling came falling down. Ky ducked the sword strike, and kicked out. Nothing was there. Thistle completed his rotation, and cut out with Striken'shod. The blade hit Ky in the shoulder and opened up a serious gash. The blade roared with life, yes! master I have waited for his flesh for so long. Kill him!. Thistle laughed, eager to serve. Ky gazed at the wound. Magic, he cursed, and backed up just as the floor opened up behind him dividing the route of escape, and arena.
"Come now ranger, Don't tell me your afraid. You quake in fear at my sight." Thistle ran forward, cut right with his longsword then with his left he swung with his magical dagger. Ky simply dodged each movment, and twirled about, as another explosion rocked the area. The ranger noted the balcony area was free, and he wold be able to back track.
"Fight! Damn you!" Thistle yelled in frustration. Ky simply smiled. "Not today, I have too much to live for." He thought of Risvani. Perhaps what happened to him hadn't been a mistake in the first place. Perhaps it had been a lesson. The gods were crazy enough. Ky smiled, ironic. Just as another explosion, ripped threw the underground arena, the ranger bolted, up the tapestry and out into the hall.
Thistle yelled in frustration, and cried out running for the the balcolny. As he ran he saw the ground shake and give way. As he fell Thistle could see the lake of molten lava deep below, and knew this time he was about to die. Closing his eyes he waited, but the end never came, as he simply disappeared in a winking light.
"Ky!" Risvani cried out, as the house erupted from the inside. Thomas had led them out into the grass yard beyond the hedge maze, and now they could see the bottom portions slowly burning away and exploding. Risvani stood there waiting, in her hear t she knew this was the end. Thomas's warm hug couldn't stop her from thinking the worst. They had been through so much she, and Ky, now to loose him again was to much to bare. Slumping to her knees, Risvani cried like she had not cried since the death of Wystrum. Thomas simply watched the flames lick the air. Turning back to Risvani, Thomas whirled about rapier in hand, as some grass ruffled. Staring the young adventuring merchant could see a dark figure come walking out of the flames, baring a bundled cloak. "Ky!" Thomas cried coughing. He ran to the ranger, and helped with the body of Hadrien. He then gave Ky the greatest hug. Ky grinned his face full of soot and dirt.
Risvani lifted her head, and ran to Ky full speed, almost knocking him down. She kissed him passionately, stealing his breath away. Ky returned it. Minutes seemed like hours, in her embrace, until finally he needed to breath.
"I thought you were dead. There was nothing from our link. I feared the worst." Ky simply shook his head, tears welling from his eyes. " We all had to go home. All of us."
Risvani hugged him again, sharing his pain. But even in their pain they both knew that it was over. The Czar was destroyed and Thistle. All that was left was returning the children to normal. Once they spoke with Ignasious eveything would be put to right. Ky smiled at her thoughts, and slapped her on her behind.
"Yes it's over. Let go home!"
The companions turned towards a new day, as the sun broke the dawn sky.
Thistle watched them go, hatred swelled in his soul. More than ever he wanted Ky dead, and he would do anything to see who was the better. Kneeling over the rim of the nearest rooftop the thief watched the Czar house burn bright. He turned when he felt his flesh crawl. A women appeared wearing, a cloak of white, that matched her silver hair. Her skin was as dark as night, and her eyes gleamed in shades of green and red as they scanned in infravision. She walked with a smooth gait which was her's by her elven heritage, and she too watched the burning home of the Czar.
"Your hate burns like that of my former masters estate. Good I will need your anger. The game is not over yet Ky Darkfriend. Go Thistle destroy him utterly, then report back here, there is much to do." The drow said. Thistle gave her a face, and she returned it. The thief knew to well that she had saved his life, and that his choices were no longer his to make. She had given him what he wanted any way, and he would finally suceed in killing Ky Darkfriend. "Your wish my lady." Thistle rougish grin appeared once more as he darted of into the day.
"Ahhh. It seems you were right master. You saw everything to perfection. Now it is only a matter time before, he is dead, and I rebuild what was destroyed. Cormyr will always have a Czar, as it should be.
Lirranlee, dark elf of Menzoberranzan, lifted a ring to the brightening sun, and began to laugh. At first it was a female chuckle, then as it continued and stroked the air, it changed to a baritone cackle, as the Czar once more walked the rooftops of Cormyr.