The candles danced, freshly lit in the dark basement of Seif’s home. Again, the majestic black crane swooped and dived to rest, ded, in the middle of the chalk seal. Naberius stepped forward to enjoy his snack.
“You look the worse for wear, Seif,” the vestige smiled from the center head as the others began their grisly meal. “You haven’t been found out, have you?”
“Another guildmember knows. A wizard of some repute. She must have noticed the signs.”
“That took no time at all. When will the inquisition arrive?”
“She warned me, but kept my secret safe for the moment. I don’t know what she wants. Bargaining power? I’ll have to watch her carefully.”
“Mmm.” He purred, uncommittedly, before employing all three heads in dismembering the bird carcas.
“I, ah…” Seif began, clearing his throat.
Naberius gave no indication that he had heard a sound as he continued to wolf down bits of meat.
“Lyle called me in for a mission today, though I cannot fathom his intention. The mission called for infiltration – not a priest nor a raiding party. Did he intend me to provide restraint? If so, a bad pact with Dahlver-Nar made that intention folly. The whole thing went awry so quickly.”
Naberius’s hackles rose a little at the other vestige’s name, but quickly returned to normal. Never once did the beast stop eating or even look up at Seif.
“From the very beginning his recklessness pervaded my decisions. At the very door to the tavern I nearly died from gang member’s knives as an orc held me.”
He paused, mulling over his thoughts.
“I had the smallest hope as they began their grisly work that they would succeed and put an end to this farce once and for all. Not this time, though. In the end, I let the orc go with an absolution – his only real crime had been in failing to kill me.”
“Callicles earned her reputation today. I’ve never seen a woman so willing to forsake herself for the sake of the mission. It was causing young Erelil much distress.”
“Oh, if only the elf knew more, she would not think so highly of me. She is out of her depth, a decent young woman in the midst of a band of killers.”
“Kai and Erzaad are cunning young men, eager to seek out the excitement of guild work. Blood and spoils are their daily bread. I can only hope Lyle uses their enthusiasm towards some better end than death.
“In the depths of the structures beneath the whole mission began to unravel. We sent Erelil away – and a good thing too. I fell twice to the weapons of the gang leaders. First the wild sage cut me down, then the stone berzerker. It was only the valiant efforts of Erzaad that saved our group both times. It seemed almost a curse that I woke again after such grievous wounds.”
“Finally, we stepped into the room of the oracle – a possessed, starved young woman chained to the wall. Her soul, captured in a gem at the bottom of a red pool, was recovered by Kai. I was lost in the madness, by that point, and prepared to let the girl die.”
“For saving us, she offered some ‘sanctified’ liquid from the pool. I forgot myself and took it, and promptly fell unconscious. I do not know Blanche’s game, but I can’t help but feel she has done something to me in particular.”
“Lyle was cagey about the greater plan and ordered us to avoid any further involvement. Could he be using the guild for his own ends? Erzaad has convinced the group to make a trip into the sewers to rescue Targan. I’m not convinced that the mission is a good idea, but there are so many questions that need answers, and I feel I must persuade Erelil to withdraw from the guild.”
“Today was a day of great calamity and only chance has brought us alive to the end. Will we be able to form any semblance of a whole after what transpired underneath that tavern?”"
The silence held as Naberius finished the last scraps of flesh. He flashed his usual grin, both amiable and predatory, before turning around and disappearing into the darkness beyond the seal.
Seif did not know what the void between world’s contained but, at this moment, he could not imagine it more tumultuous than the contents of his heart.