Azmros Flyz was sweating. It was not a pleasant sweat, and it wasn’t even the hot sweat you get from a hard day on the deck under the beating sun. No, he was sweating that cold sweat of apprehension. Azmros knew he was going to get caught, and he could already feel the captain voice shattering against the back of his head, not to mention the cold press of the captain’s fist against his temple. He drummed his nails nervously on the bulkhead, cursing himself for a fool. He should never have taken that bribe, never agreed to bring these elves down here. "Money IS money", he thought, shaking off his apprehension as he tried to wipe the sweat off his brow. It returned a moment later, as cold as ever.
The color of their money had been white and bright. That was the way he liked it: a pile of pure platinum was enough reasons for him. Of course, that was part of why he was sweating so much. If the captain found out, not only would there be a beating, but the captain would want a cut. Azmros sighed, wishing he hadn’t been given the watch while the rest of the crew caroused in Waterdeep.
The elves in question had been all over the ship, quickly and determinedly. It became clear that they were not on a social visit, but this was all business. The two elves were odd, not that Azmros knew anything about elves, but these elves were a stark contrast against each other. Their mannerisms, appearances and motions were contradictory, but there was a kinship in the fierce gaze of their azure eyes.
In this Azmros was correct. They were brothers, wood elves from Llarallyn. Earnestly probing the various sections the ship while Azmros watched were Llandrien and Athanaum Brightwater, the sons of Llytonath and Uyttandra. It was, in fact, the somewhat mysterious vanishing of the elder Brightwaters that brought the brothers here.
Azmros had followed them around the ship, watching as the poured over the deck planks and ignored the contraband stacked beneath heavy canvas. He hadn’t cared much what they did or where they went, not until they started looking below deck.
“You can’t go down ‘ere!” He shouted, bolting towards the elves before a sudden, blinding flash stopped him dead in his tracks. A large, platinum coin bounced off his head, falling to the plank deck with a hollow thud. He was deft enough to catch the next coin as it tumbled through the air. His eyes narrowed briefly and he shrugged, watching as the elves disappeared below deck. With a resigned sigh, he followed.
Bellow deck the Spirit Raven looked very much as it did above. Cluttered crates and barrels of exotics goods and contraband destined for the noble houses of Waterdeep were everywhere. Narrow passages ran from side to side, allowing access to crew quarters and hallways normally uncluttered. The vessel was heavily loaded, Athanaum noted. The Captain must be doing quite well for himself this trip.
Unfortunately, having searched the crew deck from one end to another, they had found no sign of their quarry. The Zhentarim merchant they found near the Greycloak hills had seemed as reliable as anyone could be under the point of a scimitar, and there were very few ships that smuggled goods from Waterdeep southward. The Raven had seemed to be a very likely vessel. He sighed slowly, watching the human they had bribed to get aboard fidget out of the corner of his eye in the distance.
“I do not think we are on the right trail, Llandrien. This ship is not set up to carry a live cargo.” He peered at his younger brother with a look of resignation, watching Llandrien’s tattooed form seem to shift and fade in the dim light. Someday he was going to figure out just how his brother did that.
Llandrien stood silent for a moment, tugging off his gloves slowly. “En vilya naa raika eller, Athanaum.” His voice was barely above a whisper; he knelt down to the planks. His hand made a slow sweep inches above the floor, feeling the air play against his palm until he tugged a dagger from his belt, raking it along a furrow in the plank. The dirt in the planks scraped away to reveal the outline of a cleverly concealed trap door. Jamming the knife in the groove, Llandrien popped the trapdoor open with a low groan, and the dim light of the ships lanterns shown down into the lower hold.
The hold below, Athanaum noted as he descended, was cramped and low by human standards. Crates and assorted cargo cluttered the main aisle of the hold, leaving only narrow passageways to either side. His brother searched ahead, barely visible in the dim light, the space between the cargo and the thick wooden shelves against the hull was so narrow that even an elf’s frame filled the hallway. A torrid stench filled the air, permeating the nostrils.
“Athanaum” Llandrien’s voice floated to him from up ahead.
He waited a moment until his eyes adjusted to the dim light and hurried forward. His brother waited for him to catch up and pointed downward. On the floor was a haphazard stack of heavy iron manacles.
Athanaum nodded, “So it is a slave ship after all.”
“Ta naa.” Llandrien agreed as he knelt to inspect the manacles. He swiped a gloved finger along the inside of a manacle, sniffing deep as if to catch a scent. “Tel’gothrim,” He sneered, dropping the shackle in disgust.
The brothers continued to search the hold. It was a cesspool of filth and shackles, narrow shelves and stifled air. Faintly, Athanaum thought he could hear voices in the distance. He nearly halted, but Llandrien pushed ahead until at last they came to a bulkhead. A muffled curse sounded behind them, and Athanaum turned just in time to see the sailor they had bribed to get aboard scurry up the ladder. Whatever the man might have said was lost to a tremendous creak from the bulkhead.
Behind him, Athanaum could hear a bellowing voice on deck, and the pounding of heavy feet across the gangplank. Before him, a cleverly concealed doorway opened in the bulkhead, and Llandrien’s lanky form vanished into the gloom.
“Who’s on meh ship!” a voice bellowed from above. “Who have yea let on meh ship, Azmros? What are you doing below?”
“Hurry, Llandrien,” Athanaum hissed in the gloom, “The captain has returned.” The pounding of feet was getting louder, and Athanaum could faintly hear his brother chanting in the darkness, a slight twinge washed over his body and he recognized the warm glow of the magic not a moment before a lantern was stuck into the doorway.
A grizzled and burly man with a wooden leg and huge fists followed the lantern into the room. He swept the chamber with a pair of dark bead like eyes. Behind him, the profiteering sailor slunk into the room timidly. As the captain sneered and inspected the room, Athanaum’s eyes took in the scene under the scare illumination of Captain Miplit’s lantern. The room was literally covered in dried blood, with a lone table adorning the center, and rows of shackles and torture implements along the walls on tiny hooks. Scraps of cloth dangled from the rafters on vicious meet hooks, swaying with the roll of the sea.
“Azmros.” The captain cleared his throat. ‘C’mere.” The sailor hesitantly approached, only to be met with a wicked right hook from his peg legged captain. “That’s for being down where you shouldn’t have, boy. Now get topside and pass the word to set sail.” The sailor scurried away, and after a moment glaring into the room, the captain did likewise. Athanaum listened as the steady tap, thump, tap, thump of the captain’s shuffling gait receded.
“We must move quickly, Llandrien. They mean to set sail at once.”
The pair of elves crossed the gangplank unseen, just moments before it was withdrawn. They stood on the edge of the water, waiting until a gentle rain began to fall and the Spirit Raven vanished into the storm set sea. Athanaum sighed and released the thread of magic that held the invisibility spell to him.
“So it was a slaver ship after all, but by Corellon! We are no closer to finding answers than before. You saw no sign of elves on that ship!” Athanaum’s frustration welled up in him, and he kicked a rock off into the sea with a snarl. “We know nothing!”
“We know more than that, my brother.” Llandrien’s hand closed over his shoulder, spinning him gently.
Athanaum peered into his brother’s features, so different from his own, and locked onto the azure eyes. “The eyes are the only thing we have in common,” he thought as he followed Llandrien’s gaze downward. In his brothers gloved hand was a brooch, decorated with the seal of Llarallyn.
“They were there, Athanaum. They were in that torture chamber, on that ship.”
Athanaum stared at the brooch a moment, before taking it tenderly from his brother’s hand. “This was mothers… and that means they were taken south, but to where?”
Llandrien’s eyes were hard and staring over the sea, “They go to Havenport my brother; it is the only port to the south that will accept such smugglers. We will follow, our vengeance will live longer than our enemies.”
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