The Darkling's Tomb.
By Walter Attridge
Saraxhiol the elven bard wandered through the catacombs of Lexior the Lich lord…
Just the right way to begin a tale thought Sara as she settled into her cushions, for a moment ignoring the stream of revelers moving about or the endless array of platters and plates being shared. Everyone was dressed in the Hellenic tradition: Togas for the men with open toed sandals and for the “ladies” short loose dresses. The serving of food and drink was largely communal everyone grabbed platters from tables against the walls and then shared them amongst each other. There was no sign of meek unobtrusive servants or peasants. This was a special place, a place for the elite. This was the Darkling tomb
The darkling tomb was the name given, by the upper nobility of the western kingdom, to the plundered and hollowed out ruins of Lexior the Lich lords tomb. The Lich itself was destroyed centuries ago and since then it has attracted all manner of adventurer and thrill seeker. The latest in a long line of new tenants were noble kids pretending at being rakes, engaging in all manner of depravity and drunken excess as a way to anger their parents. Sara was here as the nights entertainment. A bard known for obscure songs and riveting stories.
Audiences needed to be hooked early, and tales of adventure needed elves and Lich lords, or witch kings and it definitely needed tombs full of treasure and danger. Best to let the crowd know that they would not be disappointed. But for this crowd Sara settled on another tale one more subdued and more romantic but with witches and elves and a love story all centered around a war. And it would have the dark lord in it. Every story had to have him in it now. A century ago it was a crime in most lands to even invoke his name.
Letting out a little giggle Sara remembered crawling through Lexior's tomb nearly 700 years earlier. It was a dingy cramped series of utility tunnels left over from the initial construction connecting burial chambers not meant to be opened or entered. It would take hours for Alue the dwarf to break the mortar and stone to each one and then all they would find was either some useless obscure vault containing trinkets of Lexior's life that the madman valued, or some self indulgent scene depicting him as a hero, or lover, or great warlord. Here and now, feeling the imprint of those remaining scenes above and around her faded and smoke damaged, she had to admit that she thought the changes to the tomb were an improvement.
The value of elven grace was the opportunity to see the way the world changed. The Lich's tale was told and retold through the centuries and eventually the tomb was opened and expanded by young human lords looking for thrills but unwilling to crawl through forty five degree inclines covered in guano. Among them it became a semi secret known to all but never spoken of. Fathers, long ago initiated, passed the secret to their sons and then chided them for their decadent and immoral cavorting deep below. Clergy decried the twin vices of gluttony and sodomy yet looking about Sara knew there was a large number of acolytes among the throng.
There were dozens of fireplaces and braziers in this expanded hall alone and there were half a dozen more chambers in this wing of the tomb. Using arts learned in the tomb and never transplanted to the surface, the fires gave off different shades and intensities of light. The art was an elven one using a simple combinations of herbs and soil. Sara could smell the herbs and taste the delicate fumes in the air and could tell the particular color in that way. In this chamber the walls glowed with a low dark purple. In it shadows became black as pitch and that was where the young lords hid.
Sara lounged on her cushions, her dress, a black silk robe hung loosely about her shoulders open at the chest but not so open as to be immodest. It pooled among her hips exposing one slender thigh and her calves. Before her were several platters of figs, cheese and bread with exotic oils. She touched it only sparingly wanting to seem demure and ladylike for her host the Lord Percy
He was an exception to most of the other callow youths cavorting in the tomb. A veteran of several skirmishes he was used to rough living and the horrors of life outside the walled city that repelled the hordes of living dead that now covered all the world. Unfortunately he had not gained humility through his ordeals and he was a violent rapacious man made all the worse because he was skilled and experienced as a warrior A bully that would not quail at a bloody nose. Touching his face with a casual brush of her hand she felt the hardened lines and well manicured facial hair he was handsome for a human though Sara had always found their features chaotic and rough
He returned the gesture his calloused hand running from her brow to her chin. As his hand passed her eyes he noticed for he first time the delicate clear scarf that covered Sara's eyes, covered the hollowed out pits where her eyes used to be. The cantrip, a word for the subtle everyday magic elves were blessed with, that obscured this feature was almost undone but he was too lost in his lust to pay attention for any length of time and with a turn of her head the dweommer was back in place and he fell back into the role of the host regaling Sara with a posturing story about some duel fought among an advancing horde of walking dead. For the first time he made reference to his famed rapier and Sara heard the blade respond to its name: Fool killer
Behind him hidden under a cushion was his blade, Fool killer, it hummed with the old magic imbued in it at its forging thousands of years ago. Sara could see it now slender and smooth glass steel, basket hilt engraved with the laughing mask one of the oldest symbols of the actors craft. How this fool came by it was a question Sara wanted answered. But even this human understood on some primitive level what he had and he coveted the sword fiercely.
"Something wrong... pretty boy" Lord Percy asked with a smirk. He said the two words low. and lustfully daring to voice the truth of his desire. Sara had come to the tomb at lord Percy's invitation to sing and play her guitar, one of many different diversions such as wrestling matches and tumblers. But in this land as was common among the western lords only men were permitted to attend these parties even the entertainment. Females were seen as not just inferior, but a detriment to the proper development of masculinity. Clergy cited the long extinct sirens, harpy, lamia and succubus, as well as a half remembered imbecilic human creation myth as evidence of the females intentional weakening of a mans inherent strength.
Of course sexual activity was common at these parties. Yet according to the clergy sodomy and homosexuality was a sin and so the youngest initiates along with those able to were dressed and treated as ladies, so as to avoid sin and not have to suffer the female impurity. For an elf already small and slight it took little effort to simply pretend to be a boy making an excellent show at being a woman. After so long in exile among the humans Sara had perfected this little trick and had made a comfortable living as a singer and performer where women were prohibited from engaging in this profession.
"Tell me my lord " Sara said her hand resting atop Percy's. "What goes on in the lower chambers." His eyebrow furrowed at the reference "There is talk at court of ... deeper explorations." At that he stiffened and became angry. He rankled at the thought of servants and courtesans gossiping about his and his friends masculine endeavors Not from any type of shame but from a petty childish need to not share his "toys" with those he saw as lesser. In that regard he was very much like many elves she had once known. A chime rang through the hall and all activity stopped. Percy softened knowing it was Sara's time to perform.
Smoothing her robes she stood and went to the now clear table that would serve as a makeshift stage. The audience gathered about on their cushions as platters were passed about candles using a slightly altered recipe. From the fireplaces were set about Sara feet they gave off a brighter softer white glow. Arranging her skirts about her knee she knelt and reached out as prepared a man handed over her guitar. For a few momenta she strummed and fiddled with the frets pretending to tune it, trying to seem as though she were just another guest and not hired. Then after the audience was settled she began...
Sara played a song she had heard and learned from before the great war of wrath a thousand years earlier:
The elves came among, and gathered up the ruined remnants of humanity, victims of the current Dark lord's wrath and took them under their protection. The dark lord was not yet strong enough to assail the elves in their own land and so fell back knowing humanities inherent talent for mischief
Under the protection of the elves humanity flourished and grew numerous again. There was no sickness, no strife, no hunger or poverty. But there was also no freedom. It would be unfair to call the humans slaves. More that they were pets pampered and loved but not equals and easily punished once they went astray. Humanity chafes in a collar and they soon, by elven standards, became quarrelsome even defiant. It became more and more necessary to chastise them which only fed their defiance.
Into this turmoil was born a human named Tristien a woman of remarkable beauty and wondrous talent for songs and stories. She was taken into the household of an elf lord and made the minstrel to the lords daughter an elf maid young by her peoples standards but still centuries older than Tristien.
One can tell what happened next. It is an old story told many times how a high born lord or lady had a dalliance with a servant whose company they found pleasurable, and of the strife it can cause. Coupling between the Eldar and humanity was forbidden. But when the elf lord noticed how close his daughter had grown to the bard he simply laughed. "What is the harm" he exclaimed " they can have no children through their coupling, which is what we fear would come from humans and our children mating. And the human girl will grow old and die soon enough. My daughter will learn an important lesson.”
As they lay by a pool one night after making love the young couple lamented these very facts. Tristien held her lover close and said "wife" for she felt they were married in all ways except in name "would that we had a child a union of our two peoples to show both that there is still hope." The words inspired the elf maid to try the impossible and when her human lover had fallen asleep the maid plucked a a strand of Tristien's auburn locks and stole off into the night.
There have always been other powers in the world for good or evil other than the dark lord or the free peoples. These resided in a shadow realm called the dark lands. The elf maid came to this place seeking a crone who knew the art of how to create life. The work will take a long time" said the crone "and you must stay here until it is done" the maid agreed and the crone set to work.
Time passed, and still more time. The elf maid could not tell the passage of days in that dark land and so she waited amusing herself among a young tree near the hovel with various cats and toads. When the work had been done and the crone placed a swaddled baby boy into the maids arms. The elf maid cried to see her son he was radiant and strong the perfect blending of her and Tristien The crone bade the girl leave and the elf did with all haste. Once mother and son were gone the crone chuckled to herself over her little bit of mischief. But looking up at the tree and seeing just how much it had grown she knew she had twisted the screws just enough to cause some pain.
Arriving home the elf maid was horrified: Humanity had risen up in revolt. Rushing back to her father's home she found the lord there arrayed for battle with his loyal knights and retainers. Humans were there as well also armed and armored, but there had been no battle yet. The elf maid pushed her way to her father idly she looked for Tristien calling her name. From behind the human rebels a bent old woman stepped forward. She was covered with a heavy cloak and girt with a sword of great power and she bore many scars gained from many battles. It was Tristien. The old woman staggered forward squinting her one good eye. Slowly and with her voice shaking she said "wife" and took the baby in her own arms.
Just then the High Queen arrived to pronounce the doom of the revolutionaries and the elf lord. " Too much strife has there been between people who are kindred. A common foe have we that even now waits outside our gates and laughs." The elf lord would send a portion of his forces to help the humans make a new homeland. Then the queen turned to Tristien "You have weakened us all with your revolution and made a rift between us that will take many of your lifetimes to mend. You have risked all to regain your love and now you have lost her forever. Leave with all of your people and you will never enter these lands again." Rather than bow the old woman stepped froward and held up the baby.
"Queen" Tristien cried "look upon this child this union between our two people. We are one now let this child be the beginning of a new alliance. I always dreamed of such a thing please don't let this be in vain"
But the queen was unmoved. "You have the gift of foresight" she lamented "But not the wisdom to make use of it. There will be a child who comes from a union between our two peoples and that child will break the dark lords might and end his rule. But that day is far off even by our reckoning leave and the child must go as well." Finally the queen turned to the elf maid.
"Child you are the root of many woes. But you are still young and should bear no punishment. But you must choose. Stay here with your kindred or exile with your lover and 'child'." Unbidden the lord spoke out
"Stay child do you not see what the life of men is compared to one of your own kind. All the long year of their lives of wrack and ruin were not day to you. You cannot go with them. With her!"
Tristien stepped up then behind her her armies were already marching towards the border, her hand tried to take the elf maid but the girl pulled away and stepped back to be with her family. The old woman said nothing else and holding the babe in one arm she turned and walked back to her own kind.
Sara finished and bowed the audience clapped softly and passed around a bowl into which they laid a gold coin each the traditional means of payment. She then deposited the coins in her satchel and stepped down from the table to rejoin lord Percy His heart was beating faster perhaps some part of the story had moved him though his breath and face smelled of several exotic powdered stimulants.
"A very moving tale. Star crossed lovers but with a bit of a twist." He said his voice a little slurred as he snorted. The powder he had ingested numbs the nose tongue and sinuses causing that effect. " though I have to say I'm not a real fan of romances and I think you took to many liberties with your female cast."
" I'm sorry it wasn't to my lords liking" Sara said fending off a hand trying to go up her skirt.
" I liked it just fine but women would never behave in such a manner" he reached out and grabbed Sara's hand. " women have no loyalty. No honor they exist to bear us sons and unless taken firmly in hand they will undermine all that we build with their frivolousness and treachery." He stood with such force Sara had no choice but to do so as well. "You want to see what is below boy?" Sara didn't answer she knew he wasn't listening any longer
The upper sectional of the tomb were reserved for dinner parties, fornication and the ingesting of exotic chemicals with bizarre effects in often dangerous amounts. The lower levels as Sara already knew and lord Percy was explaining were for the real enterprise of making the most out of being a man.
Various chambers were dedicated to different athletic contests. numerous wrestling matches were going on as part of a tourney. Another room for other fighting styles, boxing, kick fighting, and even weapons with wood and padded swords and pole arms.
Another room was a spa with heated pools and various kinds of kinesthetics Another room was dedicated to what Lord Percy called ordeals. In there men were drowned, stretched, lashed and mildly electrocuted. "Its all voluntary" Percy corrected when Sara feigned shock. "Yes a man must be strong and fast but the world is pain as well. I saw it so many times in my campaigns men broken by injury or sickness or fatigue. The strength to endure is the greatest strength". Moving from chamber to chamber Sara pretended to be confused but was well oriented, the basic layout of the tomb had not changed in all the centuries since it was first opened and explored. All that had been changed was the expanding and addition of passage ways connecting them all.
The last room needed little explanation, but it was unique for the perfect military precision of it all. Sara felt men in ordered formation, six across and four deep on their hands and knees for each man there is another man mounting him and giving him what could only be called a good hard shag. The vibrations along the stone and the sounds and smells told a greater story than sight ever could. The men on the bottom grunted in rhythm and the tops go about their business with humorless intensity. Percy came up behind Sara one arm around her shoulders across her chest and the other at her hip and heading lower.
“Sodomy is a sin so our lord tells us but those fat fools in the holy see know nothing of a man's strength. The ones on the bottom failed in their contests or fell short in their ordeals, the men on top sacrifice to make them stronger penetrating them and giving their own precious bodily fluids and essence to make them stronger.” that hand traveled lower. Sara knew what he was looking for and she began to work another cantrip letting out a hum that sounded lustful. Drunk as he was and still trying to make his justifications he was ripe for subtle misdirection. His hand found Sara's fingers and he felt what he wanted to fondling and stroking never looking down or even stopping his rambling foolish story.
“The world has failed the ideals of the king in the north and his wizards and abominations bred weakness into us all. We will build a new nation a new kingdom where the peasants, merchants and even the nobility embrace the ideal of strength and evolution above all else. Women with their treacherous frivolous failings will at last take their proper place: uplifting and supporting the true movers of the world.” Sara gave a shudder and a moan in as convincing a manner as she could hoping that was enough to keep the fascist idiot off her for a time. His sharp intake of breath told her he was just starting to come up from his dust and that he was ready to show her the real secret of the Darkling tomb.
From Sara's recollection there were only a few lower remaining chambers to Lexior's tomb the lowest, Lexior's burial crypt, should have remained sealed since she sealed herself the antechamber or Lexior's study was obviously open since that where fool killer was laid to rest, the great feasting hall was the last chamber. These three chambers were unique in that they were the deepest and were connected so that the resident could travel between them freely. Perhaps as a way to allow the Lich lord some comfort in his prison. The feating hall was filled with party goers, lining several tables as Percy and Sara entered, they were feasting drinking and being generally raucous. The air was redolent with roasting meat wine and dozens of different spices. Already Sara smelled the disease moving about the patrons with every bite of their meat. Cutting through the spices and dust and wine Sara smelled the meat and felt the bile rise in her. Percy was already pawing her again now he pressed his erection against her back.
“Strength comes from shedding inhibitions and taboos “ He began “ men of the new state must be ready to perform any task take any action to demoralize and break the enemy. Human flesh is the last line. We take on the habit of our enemy and we we destroy them.” The men in the hall were all drunk or dusted and they were feasting on meat cut from what had most likely been a few poor peasants the remains had been disposed of and the meat was being served like any other feast but each of these “men” knew what they were doing. What they did not know was that they had killed themselves. Already a few of the revelers were slumped over or lying in the corner seemingly drunk and passed out. But they were dead poisoned for their foul crime. This situation was about to go south quickly. Sara turned on Percy her hand going to his crotch and his rigid manhood. He stiffened expecting and attack and then relaxed and held her hand there rubbing her hand against himself.
“Take me to the last chamber I know there is one last thing you want to show me.” He flared his nostrils angrily. He was rankled because some lowly “lady boy” gave him an order and more so because he knew there was a lot more gossip at court than he was ready for. He grabbed her hand and tried to squeeze the slender delicate wrist. For a fraction of a second Sara thought of letting him know the terrible mistake he was making but she maintained cover like a good actor and fell to her knees with a wailing cry.
“Oh I'll show you you filthy little faggot” he spat and dragged Sara towards a small alcove in the fest hall. A few seconds later Sara heard the tell tale mechanism that she had found centuries earlier. A side door opened and from the other side a deep gloomy smoke began to waft from the main chamber. Sara felt the gloom and oppressive negative aura pulsating from inside the last remnants of Lexior. He stood over her and then looked back into the gloom leading into the side chamber and then grabbed her wrist again and began to drag her back inside. this time Sara scrambled back to her feet and stumbled through the doorway. The last thing she felt from the feast hall were those little oppressive bolts of electricity as she felt those dead revelers begin to stir and move.
In a room like this where an ancient powerful evil like Lexior once resided and worked its foul magic, Sara could see the room she sensed the ancient relief and sculptures but here were additions. Wood stained with blood, oiled hinges and chains covered in barbs swaying lightly in the wind from the outside chamber. Percy had installed his own little torture chamber ostensibly to test his lovers to see if they measured up to his standard. He swung her forward and pointed to an object behind. The door was slowly swinging back into place closing off the chamber. A sound like gurgling creeping in along with the smell of blood. Then the door sealed and it was gone.
"Stand against that table" Lord Percy commanded his voice filled with desire and anger " attach the manacles and lean over the table" Sara stood there feeling her wrist where he had grabbed it. His grip had been uncomfortable but there was no damage. "Are you deaf boy." He growled " do it!!" From behind Percy ran at her his hand raised to strike her.
Not turning, she stepped back and to the side caught the striking hand by the wrist and twisted driving the hand down. His elbow was turned in towards his chest making his shoulder drop. Sara braced his falling body with her hip and twisted the wrist again to sprain the tendons with an audible pop. He tried to push up and take her off her feet but Sara had taken away his base and broken his center of gravity and a two hundred ten pound man could not push or lift an eighty pound elf.
“now that we have this private time” Sara began twisting the lords wrist so that the stress on the elbow and shoulder became excruciating. “I'll take this back” she said reaching down to remove fool killer from the fools belt he spat at her phlegm hitting her temple. He'd hoped to distract her so he could regain leverage but instead she applied another pound of pressure and broke the wrist and forearm he fell screaming to the burned black marble floor.
Fool killer hummed in Sara's hand.
It was a sentient blade forged by eleven smiths for elven hands, and it possessed powerful magic. Wielded with the proper skill the blade could cut any substance no matter how strong or enchanted and the blade was impervious to any damage. “this was my sword for a great many years gifted to me many centuries ago by its former owner. Given freely out of respect not snatched away as plunder by a fool who could not fathom what he was stealing” Percy was writhing on the floor gasping for breath as he tried to nurse his injury.
“D-d- didn't steal it, I f- f- f-found it” he croaked
“Yes and what possessed you to come this deep” Sara squatted down looking blindly at his pale sweaty face contorted in pain and rage. She could feel his trembling fury “this secret club of your had been active for decades but the lower chambers were left inviolate. At the very least you forbears had that much common sense. Tell me were you born defective or are you so ignorant as to not understand the history of this place nor intelligent enough to realize that the rapier might have been set there for a specific reason.” the reason was as an insurance against the Lich rising again. His animate remains had been destroyed.
What was left over sealed in his sarcophagus and the chamber sealed. the sword was placed there to make sure that his essence and intelligence was confined and that without an anchor it would dissipate. The process could take decades or centuries or it may never even happen. Sara left the blade with the intention of checking up after enough time had passed and then recovering her rapier. She stood and paced the study listening and feeling. There was only the horror and malice that this man had brought with him.
“Ssstrength” Percy croaked “ I was brave enough” he finally screamed “ Brave enough to come this far brave enough to take what was mine and brave enough to take this group of reprobates and start to forge a great weapon.” The elven bard turned on him kneeling on the stone before him. Her face a hand from his.
“Strength? Did you say strength?" Sara yanked the lord's face up by his hair and let her glammer fall away. He saw her then for what she was: pale almost luminous flesh, black hair falling like silk over her shoulders,her once pointed ears clipped and jagged from cruel clumsy clippers, and the hollow sockets of her eyes removed with a dirty blunt spoon by terrified half starved peasants. Sara had suffered these mutilations and survived. To her that was real strength. At the sight of her the man bent his head to ground unwilling to look any longer.
"Know this oh perfect man that you have killed your movement this very night with you crimes. The disease that afflicts this world lives within all your kind and it becomes active at the moment of death. It matters not that you beheaded the bodies before they turned. The final line you people just crossed was to eat diseased flesh. Even before we entered this sepulcher the dead in the feast hall were rising. It will spread like wildfire among the already sick and infected.
Standing Sara began to belt on Fool killer and said to the room if nothing else “I have no desire to leave you to your fate. Whatever you odious nature I am no longer inclined to pass summary judgment I can set the bone and relieve the pain if you agree to work no mischief as we e-”
His scream caught her off guard. Spinning to meet the attack she was also unprepared for its ferocity. His right fist slammed into the bridge of her nose. He was inhumanely fast and struck again at the same point. Just as quickly he sent a low kick into Sara's leg just where the thigh met the knee pushing it back and collapsing her to her knees.
He made to strike another blow but the elf let out a shrill piercing cry that shook the stone chamber. His good arm crumpled bending and breaking at a dozen different places. Rather than recoil or cry out he snapped his torso forward and slammed his head into her face, the leverage and force of the blow combined with thepreviousblows finally dazed Sara and Percy managed to head butt her three more times before she fell back. He fell onto her slamming his head into hers again and yet again. His nose was crushed and Sara could hear and feel the multiple fractures in his skull blood was pouring from his nose and eye splattering the elf. She let out another shriek and Percy finally fell back balled up in afetal position his body shuddering.
“Your sternum is broken along with all your ribs and back. Even carrying you you would never survive and so... now I leave you to your fate... My Lord.” there was no response only Dazed shaking. Sara turned and finding the long remembered locking mechanism she opened the passage to the feasting hall.
Almost immediately a corpse barred her way. When it stopped before her she saw its eyes; conscious, yellowed, and confused, it was a thinker, an intelligent brand of zombie, possessing all of its former memories and intelligence yet twisted by horror and pain into a cannibalistic fiend feeding solely upon the fresh brains of their victims. They were virtually indestructible and nigh unstoppable once they had a clear path to their victim. This one though only stopped and stared down at Sara.
Its mindless shambling cousins took no interest or notice of elves. They felt no hunger towards the Eladrin and so ignored them completely. Thinkers though were always different. Some ignored elves knowing there was nothing they wanted from an elf. Some would engage asking question or doing their best to pretend to be human. Their insanity though always led them to ask rambling questions as to the whereabouts of fresh human brains. For a long pause this thinker simply stood and stared perhaps too newly raised to its wretched unlife that it was unaware of the protocol.
“E, Excuse me?” it finally, nervously, said almost looking like it was ready to be hit for its impertinence
“Oh no” Sara said in a friendly tone she then turned back to where Percy lay “please help yourself” the thinker noticed the prone human and that insane glint came back into its eyes saliva already frothing from its lips.
“BRAAAAINSSS!!!!” It shrieked and almost shoved past Sara. She left and closed the study door behind her locking it and hoping the damned thing wasn't intelligent enough to puzzle out the locking mechanism.
The darkling Tomb was now an abattoir.
Zombies feasted and fought with each other over entrails rolling in slaughtered effluence while half eaten wretches crawled among the offal trying to grab their own morsels. There were shrieks and panicked, garbled cries for help fading into burbling fountains of blood. Sara sensed a few lucky enough to have found hiding places. With luck they were not bitten and they would have the sense to stay quiet and still until the horde had moved on, or gone still from inactivity. Sara glided among the dead gracefully avoiding contact and when necessary shoving or pulling a few bunched up zombies out of her path. Never once did any of them turn or even make a motion to attack .
What injuries she had suffered from Percy's attack were already healing and fading as she made her way to the upper chambers. Thankfully the decadent fools here, most of them only guilty of keeping bad company, and a fair amount of upper crust hypocrisy weren't being made to pay for those sins with their lives. Most of the fatalities had come from the mad stampede to escape the horde. But they had managed to open the doors and escape. Those crushed by the stampede were just now rising but they few and were no threat.
Recovering her pack and the payment she had earned the elf made her way up the wide spiral staircase and up to the broken open double doors leading out to the long abandoned necropolis that stood above the tomb. Having followed close behind the chaos Sara saw dozens of carriages speeding off with the horde slowly giving chase. Her own horse had been taken in the mad dash so she straightened her robes shouldered her pack and adjusted Fool killer, its weight like an old friend. There was little reason to dwell on this latest nightmare and so she focused on the next job in her endless travels; The former human prison Pen Duro had been turned into a large trading post and an old friend had sent word that there was work in that oldest and noblest of professions. Traveling adventurer.
Wiping off the soot band dirt from her guitar she began in the general direction of Pena Duro and began to hum an old tune that Tristien had taught her so very long ago, when she was just a callow frivolous elf maid.