?

Log in

Venye

Midsummer (Venye Talaviir)

The Dancing Goat

Breakfast at the Dancing Goat was of the usual high quality: runny eggs, a tomato wedge, and a boiled slip of ham. The company was better, as I dined with Miri and Falco. The latter had thoughtfully picked up some fresh melons to supplement the fare, and was casually cutting them into bite-sized portions for the three of us with his dagger.

"I haven't seen you much lately," remarked Miri.

"Eaerlraun's been having him run across town for Sharindlar knows what," said Falco. "But as usual, it's all very secretive, so he can't tell us about it, right?"

"Right," I sawed at a limp piece of pork. "So what have I been missing?"

"Food!" declared Falco. "Wonderful food!"

"This?" I held up the flopping slice of meat with my fork. "We've had better."

"Of course we've had better, you daft coal elf! I mean outside the walls of this er…fine establishment," he finished, catching sight of the proprietor. "Tell me," Falco lowered his voice, "have you ever had a cream horn? They're divine. A wonderful bakery in the market district sells them; tell him, Miri!"

"Oh yes," my sister said. "You have to try them. That cream filling is absolutely magical!"

"You'll have to take me there. But first, tell me how you've been keeping in my absence. Not up to too much trouble, I trust?"

"Of course not, "Miri bit her lower lip. "I've just been helping Tordrin with--" She cut short.

I glanced around in case someone had stepped within earshot. "Helping Tordrin with what?"

"I can't say. I promised him. It's all very…secretive. But it's not bad, I promise," she said, the last words rushed.

"We believe you, lass. But for Sun and Moon's sake, it's better that we leave the secret business to your brother, eh?" Falco wrapped his arm affectionately around my shoulder. "You best leave that to the professionals, isn't that right, love?"

"Yes," I nodded, and I thought of Eaerlraun's plan. "Quite right."

********************************

The Festival Grounds, Silverymoon

Festivals pulse with opportunity. For the innocent, the opportunity to experience thrills and excitement in a relatively safe environment. For the not-so-innocent, the opportunity to take advantage of the first group. I wasn't sure which of these groups Tordrin belonged to today, but I figured he was my best opportunity to begin carrying out Eaerlraun's instructions.

"So you don't want the tokens?" I had asked after returning from the Shining Scroll.

"No. Nor the scepter replica," the High Harper of the Silver Marches answered.

"It's a fake?"

"It is, unfortunately. You can tell from its lackluster aura, as well as the visible molding by the handle."

"And the Lauthaul tokens? Are they also--"

"They are distressingly real. They and the actual scepter went missing from the palace earlier this week."

"A scepter bearing Alustriel's seal, a replica of the scepter, and missing Lauthaul tokens. Something significant is underway…"

"Yes," nodded Eaerlraun. "We'll be making inquiries soon enough."

I knew what that meant. More nights on patrol. Away from Falco.

Eaerlraun caught my look. "Don't fret, Venye. I know we're thin on resources. Fortunately, this business with the scepter provides us with an excellent opportunity to test our new recruits."

I cleared my throat. "We have new recruits? Does Miss Thralia know? When did they join?"

"No, she doesn't. And neither do they, for that matter."

I wasn’t quite certain how to answer that.

The Lord of Moongleam Tower leaned forward. "Here's what I want you to do…"

Sun and Moon performed on a newly constructed stage to an audience of happy festival-goers, but for one exception. Tordrin, who had gained leave from Miss Thralia to skip the early performance, paced an anxious line in the ground at the periphery of the audience, looking outward. Periodically he would scan the crowd hopefully, then resume his pacing. Finally, he took his leave, striding deeper into the fairgrounds. I followed, gambling that he might lead me to my quarry.

My instincts proved right. When he reached the main thoroughfare, Tordrin straightened like a hunting dog. With a deliberate effort, he assumed a casual pose, leaning against a nearby announcement board. When it began to sag, he started, then quickly adjusted his collar and hair, wincing a little when the sign collapsed behind him.

The sound caused more than a few passersby to notice him, including Mayurra, who was garbed in an eye-catching lavender dress. She hurried to him, smiling. He leaned in, taking her hand, and whispered something to her. Something flattering, judging by her reaction.

And he had reason to be flattering. The kinswoman's outfit emphasized her figure, accentuating the curves of her rump in a way I wouldn’t have expected from one trying to keep a low profile. Had she gained weight recently? Then I recognized the art and the lie in the tailoring. A pocket! Had to be.

Tordrin produced a bundle, handing it to her. As she opened it, others in the crowd gawked at the unusual pairing of moon elf and drow. I drew my hood closer, closing to within a troll's length of them. I would have to adopt a more thorough disguise when I could find a concealed spot.

The thought had just crossed my mind when Tordrin spotted me. Irritated, he stepped between Mayurra and me so as to shield the message he signaled in Drow Sign: "You don't know us." Then, turning so the kinswoman could see, he motioned me over.
Thinking fast, I bent as if to knot my boot lace, hood covering my features. I reached for the wand in my cloak pocket and triggered a quick disguise, that of a young half-elf.

I scampered toward them, praying no one had spotted the change in pigmentation. "Yes, m'lord?"

"Find a courier, if you would, please, and have this sent to Mayurra's address," Tordrin ordered. "Then go tell Thralia that I'll be back in about half an hour." He dismissed me with a look that clearly told me to stay out of his business.

I nodded assent and ran off.

But not before lightly dropping a Lauthaul token into the crevice of his companion's clever bustle.

The previous night, I had asked Eaerlraun, "But is it wise to implicate good people?"

"They shall come to no harm," he assured me.

Reminding myself that Miri and I owed Eaerlraun our lives and that he repaid our trust many times over, I placed Tordrin's parcel in my pack and began searching for the flame-haired and hotter-tempered druid, Seledra Nailo.

I spotted her hair, as well as the rest of her, outside a Calishite restaurant, where a large line of customers massed in front. Getting past them required cutting through with a mixture of forcefulness and politeness. She slowed down, pausing to listen to the halfling cook ("Do you know Tomi from Neverwinter? Old mate of mine…"). I slipped behind her as she cut through the crowd of customers. When one of them inadvertently jostled her, I dropped a token into her purse.

Two down.

The half-orc Kronk was even easier. The stumblefoot was engaged in a loud competition with a shield dwarf by the benches in front of a pub's stand.

"Ye seriously think that ye can outdrink a dwarf?" slurred his companion. "Am I right or am I right?" he called to his supportive friends around him. They cheered, and he nodded in self-satisfaction, nodding so deeply that his head fell forward onto the table before him.

When he did not arise, Kronk raised his arms in victory and let out a powerful battle roar that clinked the discarded ale mugs around him. He looked as if he were about to say something, then he tumbled onto the ground beside the dwarf, where he joined his snores with his own.

A halfling darted toward them, reaching for Kronk's pockets.

"Halt!" I stepped forward, still in my half-elf guise. "Leave his coin alone." The thief skittered into the crowd, and I grunted in exertion as I tried to lift Kronk into a sitting position. When that didn't work, I tried hooking my hands beneath his arms from behind, granting me access to his pack without anyone noticing. From there it was easy to place the token and the fake scepter within. I pretended to struggle some more, then carefully laid the half-orc so that no one could reach his pack without disturbing (and hopefully waking) him.

I paid the barkeeper some coin for the trouble and left in search of my final target.

"It's all coming together," Eaerlraun had said, steepling his fingers. "They show great promise as a field team."

"Miss Thralia and Tordrin won't like your decision," I noted.

"They don't have to. Nevertheless, these dealings shall remain our secret, Venye. Are you comfortable with that?"

I bowed. "You know you can rely on me, sir."

"I know I can, old friend. That's why I've entrusted you with this. Now lastly, this 'team' could use some magical support. I've been studying the local talent, and I've found a promising candidate: a young human wizard, excellent grades at the Lady's College, flashes of brilliance according to his instructors, and well-regarded by the Spellguard."

"How shall I find him? There is no lack of human mages in Silverymoon who attend the Lady's College."

Eaerlraun smiled. "Not in the possession of a silver ferret as a companion."

Comments