Azerost Vel’Tor walked through the cavern at a quick pace. He was not particularly fond of being underground, especially in such a dangerous area. Still, he had made this trip enough times to not be scared. A little nervous, but not scared. His map looked like it had been drawn well and with a steady hand, but it was vague as to where he was actually going. The Underdark was so vast and unremarkable that Azerost would starting feeling lost even though he had been given very precise and easy to follow directions. Following the map he made his final turn and looked up. There was a split in the tunnel here. Two new paths ran left and right, but he cared little for these roads because what he sought was in between them. There in the rock that separated the fork was a carved a word carved in Drow, s'tharl . . .sit. Azerost did just that.
He leaned back against the stone and wondered if the man he awaited really had the ring. It would be an excellent addition to his collection and probably the most powerful artifact he owned. A ring of elemental control, while not so rare or special to some of the most powerful mages in Toril, was like a gift from the Gods to Azerost. He though about the ring a moment more and pushed it out of his mind. Since he had no choice but wait in this dark lonely place he decided to study some of his books. Azerost was a necromancer. He was not particularly powerful and really didn’t know many spells, but he was dedicated. Under the leadership of the guild he studied day and night in the hope that he may one day be a master of both life and death. He read the spells over and over again, trying to get them straight in his mind. There was one spell he found particularly interesting. It was called Beltyn’s Burning Blood and it actually caused the blood of any living creature he cast it on to boil. It was new to him and getting it right was considered a top priority. With a flash he closed his book and reached for the small blue bag he always carried with the intention of getting the tome that contained the fiery spell. Next to his bag were two tall black boots.
Azerost jumped up and back. He reached as quickly as he could for his dagger, but was thrown off balance as he tripped over his own robes. He figured himself for dead and steadied himself for a the blow that would finish him. When it didn’t come, he stood up and looked at the figure. The first thing that caught his eye was a cape that shown many colors that seemed to shimmer up and down. Azerost’s pulse started to calm when he realized this was the Drow he was looking for. He said quickly “You scared me.”
The drow grinned and took a step forward. As he did both boots clicked loudly. Azerost knew they had not done so before. With a quick smooth motion, the man removed his wide-brimmed hat and bowed low before Azerost. “Master Vel’tor, it has been a while.”
Azerost bowed back, never taking his eyes off the mercenary and said, “Indeed it has Jaraxle, although I do not look forward to returning quickly to the Underdark.”
Jaraxle grinned. “Ahh, but I think you do this time. I have some thing that interests you. No?”
“That you do, I want to see it.” he responded quickly and with little patience in his voice.
“And so you shall.” Jaraxle showed Azerost that both of his hands were empty. He quickly flipped his wrists over and back and in his right hand there was a ring. It was a simple trick and really only done to calm Azerost down. The drow knew it was hard to do business with someone who was too uptight. Azerost appreciated the show, but didn’t relax very much. You always had to be on your toes when it comes to dealing with drow. Especially one as crafty as Jaraxle. They had traded together on several occasions and in one case Jaraxle had gotten the better of him . . .
The drow was in Bloodstone on some sort of business that Azerost knew nothing about. Jaraxle kept his business to himself and said very little about what he was doing or when he would come or go. The Necromancers guild was where he would stay though. The members said nothing about it and it was understood that the guild was paid a fair price for his lodging. That area of Bloodstone is very rarely visited by the guard and so made the best location for him to camp out. This is where young Azerost met Jaraxle. Azerost was very interested in the drow. His colorful cloak, his quick mind, and his ability to produce the most unusual trinkets fascinated the young Necromancer. Also, Jaraxle was in the business of trades. Azerost, while young and inexperienced, was fairly wealthy. His parents had left him a fair sum of money and he used this it buy certain items of interest from Jaraxle on his rare visits to Bloodstone. Eventually, they worked out a system where Azerost let Jaraxle know what items he was most interested in and they would meet. This was usually somewhere in the underdark although in a few occasions it had been out in some dark secluded woods near the spine of the world. The trades were usually fair, but on their fourth transaction, Jaraxle sold Azerost some gloves of “yin‘xir’ziji rahi.” Azerost knew very little drow, but he believed that he was buying gloves that would protect him from the cold. Instead, he suffered frost bite on both of his hands and greatly wounded dignity. This set him off on a quest to learn the drow language very well and so he has. Never after that day was Azerost taken advantage of by Jaraxle.
“You didn’t mention any money in your letter this time.” Azerost said. “What’s your price?”
“Well as you know this is a very rare artifact. It doesn’t even exist on the prime plane and so I will require more than money.” Jaraxle replied. He never stopped smiling. Azerost knew this wasn’t a smile of happiness, but of victory. He had something the necromancer badly wanted and would charge a high price to get it. “You see, I require you to deal with some people for me. One in particular has a weapon I need, a mace.”
“Who are they?” Azerost questioned.
“Just a small party of drow. Three or four little boys and a girl.”
Azerost smirked. He knew much of the drow culture and their strength. He knew this task was far beyond him. “Why not do it yourself? I mean, how do you expect me to deal with one drow, much less four. And cut this little boys and girls crap. You have no interest in either. Tell me the truth Jaraxle.”
The mercenary stopped grinning. He responded more quickly and softly, “This is very delicate business. I will not have Bregan D’aerthe found guilty of attempting to kill other drow. I need someone else to take care of this for me. I have something you need and now you can do something for me. As for why you? It is certain that there are other people or things I could get to do this for me, but they are all partly traceable. Don’t you see young Vel’tor? You do not exist down here. You are not connected with me or Bregan D’aerthe. You are simply something that happened in a dark tunnel to certain unfortunate drow.”
“What if they kill me?” Azerost asked knowing very well that this was probable.
“Then you won’t need my ring.” Jaraxle replied. The grin had once again returned to his face.
Azerost smirked. “I’ll need help. Some of your men or something.”
“Weren’t you listening? I’ll have no drow involved with this business, but you can have this.” Jaraxle handed a dark rod with a piece of paper wrapped around it to Azerost then reached in his pocket and produced a globe. “This is something special and very rare. I do not give it to you lightly.” The globe was all black and its surface rippled as waves of black washed over it. He handed the globe to Azerost. It felt heavy in his hands. “It will create darkness when you need it most. The wand will create fire, and a lot of it. Do not be near the people you are attempting to kill or it will take you too. Wrapped around the wand is a map. Follow the path on it to the spot marked. There you will find a small room carved out of the tunnel. In this room look towards the ceiling. There is a carved out portion that will be big enough for you to fit in to. This will be the best spot for you to ambush the party. I have also left a map to the location where we will meet after you have the mace. Do you understand everything I’ve said? Have I spoken too quickly?”
“No, I got it.”
“Good and try not to let anyone live. Stealth will be your friend here and if we can avoid having a human sighted near Menzoberranzan we’ll be better off. Will you do it?”
Azerost nodded. He was scared and knew he might be dead by tomorrow, but he also wanted the ring. “When does this happen?”
“Start moving now, the party should be near you within the next two hours.” Jaraxle replied.
“How do you know that?” Azerost asked suspiciously.
Jaraxle grinned. “I have a meeting with the party down that way. I know when she’ll be near me and when she‘ll head back towards the city. You will sneak in behind her and hide while we discuss a business deal. When we conclude, she will head back to town. If things go well, she won’t make it.”
Azerost’s pulse started to race again. Jaraxle noticed Azerost sweating in the cool underdark and smirked. He said “You can only do what the gods allow. Do not worry about your fate. It is in their hands. If today is your day to die, then so be it.” The words didn’t comfort Azerost, but he unfolded the map and started to study it.
“They are simple directions, good luck.” Jaraxle said and he turned and walked away.
“WAIT!” Azerost almost said too loudly. “Are you trying to get me killed?”
Jaraxle gave a relaxed smile. “Azerost, if I wanted to kill you, I would have done so a million times over.” He nodded and headed off in to the underdark.
Within thirty minutes Azerost had made it to the location on the map. Just as Jaraxle said the tunnel opened up fairly wide here and there was a hole near the ceiling of the cavern just big enough for Azerost to fit in. Also, the map was there as promised. These things comforted Azerost a little. Jaraxle wasn’t trying to get him killed, but then again he would probably end up dead anyway. As time passed he grew more and more nervous. All he could do was study his spellbooks and the map Jaraxle had left. This was an odd feeling. Azerost believed that the only thing worse than dying was waiting for death to come. Just when he thought he couldn’t take it anymore, death took a step in the room.
Two drow males walked down the tunnel with swords at their sides. Their red pifwais swayed with each step and their heads were held high as they marched. Azerost always admired the dignity of the drow, but he hoped that these two proud warriors died quickly. Soon after, a drow woman followed. She was dressed in a white cloak with a red clasp and a green and white suit of fur on her body. Upon her forehead was a red jewel with four small legs sticking out each side. She was a priestess of Lloth. Her hair was long, white and very well kept. Azerost thought she looked proud and beautiful, but also terrible. Another warrior stepped in the room behind the priestess. He glanced back over his shoulder as he walked. He was scanning the tunnel to make sure they weren’t being followed. When the warrior in back whipped his head around he looked up at the ceiling and there saw Azerost laying on his side watching the party. The drow yelled “LOR DOEB!” and reached for his weapon.
Without thinking Azerost threw the dark ball Jaraxle had given him towards the warrior. The room exploded in darkness. Then with a swift flick of his wrist he commanded the magic wand to wash the room with fire. Fireballs appeared from the end of his wand and flew into the darkness. He could hear screaming. There were drow curses of misery and pain. He commanded the wand and again fire shot out in to the darkness. He tried for a third time, but the wand did nothing. Azerost cursed and hoped that the wand had done it’s trick. There was no sound. Perhaps he had killed them all quickly and lived unscathed. Sweat rolled into his eyes and burned them. The heat from the wand had hurt his face, but this was little price to pay for such a clean fight. “For once, I’ve gotten the better of a deal with Jaraxle.”
Azerost grabbed his bag and started to crawl out of the hole. With lightning fast speed a dark skinned hand jumped out of the globe of darkness and grabbed Azerost by his hair. Before he could react he was sent head first in to the darkness. He fell on his head and was dazed. There was nothing but darkness surrounding him and he couldn’t see who was attacking him. The drow started to kick him over and over. The young necromancer finally gained some of his poise and jumped up and back trying to get away from his attacker. All of a sudden, the globe was gone and there to the right of him stood the drow priestess. She was completely unscathed and wore a look of shear rage. Two warriors lade on the floor. Their corpses were charred and unmoving. The third warrior cough and spat. He had severe burns, but was still alive. Who knew for how long.
The priestess grabbed Azerost by his robe and threw him against the wall. She moved in to punch him and he quickly dodged it. A split second later her knee flew up and met his groin. He became light headed and thought for a second he would pass out. She continued to hit and kick him with lightning fast speed. His head was cracked against the cavern behind him and warm blood started flowing down his neck. Tears glazed his eyes and he knew that this was the end. The warrior was standing now. She yelled at him “Belbau ussa dost killian.” The warrior slowly moved towards the priestess and drew his sword.
Even in this state Azerost knew what she said, “Give me your sword.” This was the end. In this time of desperation his mind started to race. He wasn’t sure why or how, but he throught of Velsharoon. He had worshipped him when he was younger, but had slowly come to believe that he was a dead god and no good to anyone. Why did he think of him now? A dead god can not save anyone. Maybe he wanted to make things right with the god of the undead before he left this world. Whatever the reason, he gave a loud desperate plea, “Velsharoon, please save me!” Neither drow paid any attention to him. The warrior continued to make his way over to the priestess who waited in anticipation to deliver the killing blow. They should have watched him because something amazing happened. Azerost’s eyes started to glow dark blue. The light was so intense that it shown on the back of the priestess’s neck.
Azerost felt very strange. His blood started to boil and his head raced and throbbed. It felt as if there was something inside pushing against his very soul. He wasn’t sweating, but he felt incredibly hot and everything before him, even the drow, started to blur. He thought nothing of this because he had never died before. His hands felt like they were on fire and he hoped death would come quickly. Without thinking, Azerost blurted out, “Stop.” He reached forward with his right hand grabbed the priestess. She turned to face him with a look of surprise. Her body jolted and her eyes rolled up in her head. She fell and never moved again. He glared over at the warrior who was hobbling toward him with the sword still in his hand. Azerost’s eyes were enough for the warrior. He turned and hobbled off fast as he could. Azerost couldn’t believe the sight before him. He looked at the priestess. There was no mace. She didn’t have any weapons as far as he could tell. His head started to race again and he got dizzy. He took the cloak off the dead priestesses’ back and crawled up into the hole he used to ambush the party. He wrapped himself up and knew nothing but darkness. When Azerost finally came to, he was being poked in the back. He rolled over to find Jaraxle staring at him with a wide grin.
“So you have lived! Most excellent. I knew you would. Or I thought there was a chance anyway.”
Azerost was actually surprised that he lived as well. He should have bled to death, but here he was, breathing, and although in a large amount of pain, doing well. “Yeah, that wasn’t easy. There was no mace. I still want the ring.”
Jaraxle gave a broad, toothy smile. “You’ll get your ring. Not to worry.” He showed Azerost his empty hands. He quickly flipped his wrists over and back and there was the ring. Grinning, he handed it over.
Azerost was still confused. “Why didn’t she have a mace? Did you buy it from her when you had that meeting? And if so, why did I still have to kill her?”
“Well you see Azerost,” Jaraxle responded, “there are certain positions of power in families in Menzoberannzan. The first born daughters are usually the first in line to become Matron of their houses. The young lady you met was such a first born.”
“And why did you care if she was dead?” Azerost questioned.
“Well, her younger sister wanted to become Matron of the house . . . Was an excellent deal all around. You see. The first born expected this much and paid me to do away with the second born. All in all, I was paid twice. And I ask you why not? This seems to be a job very well done. You have what you want, she has what she wants, and I got paid.”
Azerost nodded. He had suffered greatly in this affair, but he couldn’t argue that things didn’t work out. “How long have I been here? This isn’t where we’re supposed to meet.”
Jaraxle answered, “You’ve been gone for about ten hours. When you didn’t come to our meeting I assumed you were dead. Then that warrior ran in burnt and bleeding. He was screeching something about you. He’s a fool, but he has several people believing you’re a demon. What trick did you pull on that party to scare him like that?”
“I honestly don’t know. There was some sort of power inside me that I’ve never felt before. It wasn’t like a rush of adrenaline. It was calm and peaceful, yet terrible and powerful as well. I think . . . I think Velsharoon saved me. I always thought she was a dead god, but I called out for her and she . . .she chose me. She chose to save me. I can’t explain it any other way.”
Jaraxle stopped grinning. He paused for a second and then spoke “Like I said young Master Vel’Tor, the gods will do as they please with you. If Velsharoon chose to save you then I suggest you do your best to repay him. A god’s blessing is only half as powerful as a god’s wraith. As for what I said earlier, they didn‘t say demon. They said ‘gareth aterruce.’ Maybe it‘s true. Sounds like it might be. In any case, I must be off. I had my men dispose of the bodies here. I would suggest you stay away from the underdark for a while. There are some hunters would be proud to kill a gareth aterruce. Maybe even some of my men. I wish you good luck Azerost Vel‘tor and I‘ll send you a letter next time I get a shipment of goods in.” With that he took off his wide-brimmed hat and bowed low. He walked quickly and perfectly quiet in to the dark. His boots never made a sound.
Azerost thought over everything that had happened. He agreed with Jaraxle. He must find a way to show his appreciation to Velsharoon. His life had been spared and that was a very precious gift. He grabbed his bag and dropped the cloak. It would vanish as soon as he stepped outside and he knew it. Azerost started his long and painful journey back to the surface. After a few steps, he stopped and smiled. He said quietly, “Gareth Aterruce” and chuckled, “Powerful Creature.” He hasn’t returned to the underdark since.
*Yeah I know I spelled my last name and title wrong on my char. It's going to be changed. I just wrote this story a while ago and hadn't referenced it since:P
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