The Edge of Twilight
Nezrin still couldn’t believe that the gnome that had picked them up in the boat at Duren’s cove was the Rat King. It would’ve saved them a whole lot of trouble of waiting and nearly being discovered by the inquisitors if the gnome was just upfront.
All this sneaking around and being cooped up irritated Nezrin. His instincts were to put fist to face and knock someone around to get answers. But he also understood, that here in Baden’s Bluff, to confront the enemy head on was not wise. His grandfather had taught him better. Fight with strength and that doesn’t always mean your muscles. Sometimes your strength is your head.
“Heh, nothing like a good head butt,” he thought to himself.
The past two days the group had rested up from their fight in the sewers against the legate Merivan. Some timely help from the Rat Kings forces finished off the scum.
The meeting with the Rat King himself, Waryk Dyvim, proved to be just a step in the next direction of finding the legate that has the ring they are searching for.
Khurran, while resting for the past two days had been also writing furiously in the dim light of the glowstone in the sewer chamber. After a somewhat sleepless night he had awoken with nothing but pages flipping through his head, writings from the past calling to him, tales of the land fading into the midnight of his mind.
He felt desperate, he needed to finish. He had copied almost all the text that was given to him from Pamar, the elder who pointed them to Duren’s Cove. It would be time to get in touch with Ebore Arbter soon and deliver these precious pieces of history and lore. Does she have a library? Where is it hidden? His mind couldn’t help but wonder at such a sight.
Devin sat down next to his friend, “Waryk is moving from this place in the next day or so. He never stays in one place for long and those with him move as well.”
“It is smart of him to stay a moving target,” Khurran noted that Devin approved of the tactics.
“Waryk has set up a meeting for us to discuss terms with the Avenging Knives,” Devin noted, “it is to happen tomorrow evening.”
“This is the same group who attacked the legate’s house in the upper part of the city the other night? Why do we need to meet with them?” asked Khurran
“Yes, it is the same. Dunath, the one we helped that night in the alley way was one of them. This Legate we seek, his name is Sarn Grundel, and he lives in the upper part of the city known as Hearthhome. The Avenging Knives control the underground in that area so we must come to terms with them. Also, this will get us one step closer to The Blade,” answered Devin.
“Yes, it was interesting to see that the message we carry calls out his name. The code sent from the south is recent; it seems they get news from time to time of what the resistance does here in the north. These days information travels slowly if at all, it is amazing that this particular message has made it this far,” Khurran seemed to be pondering something but was not ready to give voice to it just yet.
“the circle unites us and reveals the truth, your answers lay with the blade, the blade of ghostly light.”
Devin lowered his voice, Nezrin strained to hear and Sharra shifted closer, “It is strange though, Waryk does not trust The Blade. He is quick tempered and is not beyond using other resistance groups to further the Avenging Knives end. He also said that we should not mention that we seek a ring from the legate Sarn when we negotiate. We should get the ring first from Sarn … then seek audience and answers with The Blade.”
“Always maintain the upper hand,” said Sharra, “I guess Waryk rightly wears his supposed crown. He thinks well.”
“Aye,” whispered Devin. Devin pointed to the parchment laid out before Khurran. “I hope you do not mind, Khurran, but I’ve told Waryk that we have a delivery to be made. However, he refused to let us out of the sewers until things settle down in the city. I did not mention Ebore’s name yet to Waryk but he did mention that he has many contacts and could probably get whoever we seek down here.”
“Do we trust Waryk to bring Ebore to us or do we do this on our own?”
Khurran chewed on a lock of hair pensively. He seemed to recall a rumor he had heard some time ago, that the gnomes were not to be trusted, and that some prominent ones had turned to the Dark. Clearly though, not all of them could be turned! It still left him cautious of dealing with Waryk, whom hadn’t exactly been up front from the start either. He was not about to put Arbter in jeopardy either, not after what had likely happened to Berem and his wife.
“I’d like to speak to Waryk and try to gauge his word, and what would be the safest method overall for our contact. I am inclined to seek her on our ground of her choosing, not Waryk’s, and at our own risk. I’m not saying I don’t trust Waryk, but if Waryk wishes to play his cards close to the vest, than so too should we.”
“I’m also afraid I need a fencing instructor – I’m afraid I don’t have the skill to use this effectively,” gesturing at his short sword dismissively, “and it seems our current path requires of me an effective blade, as much as effective counsel… I don’t suppose that’ll be changing anytime soon,” he says giving Devin a wry look.
“Forgive me, m’lord. My name is Khurran, and alas, it is long since I last rode a horse. I am sure you can appreciate the delicacy of our position here. We were bidden to come to Baden’s Bluff and seek you at the request of the Wolves, as you know; but we also have another mission of lesser urgency. We are unsure of this person’s position in town, or among the resistance cells here in the Bluff, and we wish to add no risk on his behalf – nor add to yours. We must make contact with him shortly, and would like to know your counsel. We are willing to take on whatever risks necessary, to protect both your parties.”
Bah, do not mind my guards and you have already met with Radovin,” the sharply featured man beside Waryk made no indication that he was pleased or displeased to see Khurran. “So long as I am alive I will never stop being cautious. There are things at stake that are just too important.”
“If you do not wish to give up the name of your contact, I can understand. However, you will have to give up the name to someone if you wish to find him. This is a big city and the shadow’s eyes are everywhere and to many of the residents, the shadow’s eyes are welcome. The legates here are more welcome and more insidious than most other places of Eredane. They are maggots that know how to bury themselves underneath the skin and darken the heart,” Khurran could see the true distaste that Waryk has for the Dark lords priests.
“You do not know who to trust here but if you wish not to trust me, my advice would be to go to the Beggar’s Bowl Tavern on the Wormdocks. You may even find it as a place to stay while you seek your contact. Be wise and use caution … the shadows minions are none to pleased with the recent legates murder and suspicious looking individuals or activities are likely to be dealt with swiftly and without tolerance.”
“If there are things you wish to sell or buy, the area known as the Well is your best choice. This is the merchants gathering place and where a majority of the shipping cargo goes if it is not for the war effort. I suggest that no weapons or armor be brought with you because it is under constant watch by both human and orc guards. Seek out the merchant Trumbar if there is something you wish to get. He is trustworthy and discrete purchases can be hidden well among common items.”
“Ah, but you mentioned things that sounded like they are not to be sold but more likely saved. The one who would serve you best would be a woman on the Stonedocks. Yes, I see some surprise but she is tough as nails and runs the largest warehouse there. Her name is Ebore Arbter. Just tell her that you wish to work on the wine barrels of Tarber and she will take you in.”
“Hearthhome is the common part of the city. This is where most of the merchants and crafters are housed along with most of the lesser legates. It sits in the southeast corner of the city. Everything here seems as normal as it can get nowadays but don’t be fooled, the façade in Hearthhome is just more refined. You should also note that a majority of the Cabal rests in this part of the city. Wait … I can already answer your question. Who is the Cabal? The Cabal are those who serve the Shadow from the dark tower across the sea to the north. Why is this interesting? Because the Devout rule this city. The Devout still serve Izrador but they serve him through Sunalael, that wretched Night King that lives in the Sarcosan city where the dead walk the streets … Cambrial,” Waryk’s voice took on a very lost tone.
“The Cabal feel that the Devout split their loyalties and are not the rightful heirs to the shadow’s magic or to his plunder. Yet they do not openly oppose their power here. Just as they work against the regular population of Baden’s Bluff the legates of both sides work against each other through subterfuge. Sometimes it makes the resistances job that much easier but we also have our own internal battles to fight.”
“So, you see, this is not a city of trust. You are wise in your ways Sarcosan, keep your mind sharp. Tomorrow, when we are ready to move, I will send Radovin to you so you can make your way to meet with the Knives. Again, I implore you to use caution with them. After your meeting is done, Radovin will bring you out near the Wormdocks so you can make your way to the Beggar’s Bowl Tavern if you so choose. If I do not see you before then, good luck, and may the Sahi ride among the stars for you.”