The unfortunately fortunate Rouge

Drip… Drip… Drip…

Marius placed a shaky hand on the ground trying again to force himself to his feet. Such a display of power he had never seen. Warm blood ran down his face, some of it getting into his eyes as he tried to rise.

Drip… Drip… Drip…

It was the steady sound of his blood running from a gash in his head. He’d earned it when his cage plummeted from the beam that suspended it in the air. All around him, those that were alive, were staggering to their feet. Slaves, all of them, but only their chains kept them bound to anything resembling a common cause. Most alarming, however, was that his drow masters hadn’t begun visiting death upon them. After all, to a drow, it would be a slave’s fault that his cage fell absent anything he’d done save sit there and hope to die.

There were screams and explosions not far off going in the opposite direction from the plaza, the place where they’d hope to sell him. The attack started in the plaza and moved off in one direction, as if intent on a singular purpose in a whole city full of damned souls in need of rescue. It was as though Selvetarm himself had blown down the gates of the settlement in seach of a battle he found worthwhile so that he might finally die.

It had not been Selvetarm though, no, Marius clearly saw a man. At least, he appeared to be a man. He wore a dark red robe. It was the same robe worn by the figure who’d hired them, Marius and several other sellswords. He’d given each of them a vial of blood and their weight in gold, and sent them off to the underdark with instructions not to open their vials. Several of the men who later went off with their gold, no intent on doing the work for their payment, were found dead before the night was out. Marius was a talented thief, and a competent mage, but he wasn’t a fool. He knew then that their had been more to this man than met the eye. How much more, if he ever learned it, would be a tale worth telling all its own. When he and the sellswords were ambushed he didn’t know how many of them fell, how many still lived, or if they’d kept their vials. How long had he been there? Days, weeks, months? In the endless dark and artificial light, it meant so little now and between regular beating he’d stopped counting. He hadn’t kept his vial of course, they took it along with everything else he had. Though that wasn’t the last time he saw the vials.

He paused as the pieces began to come together…

He rolled to his back, tired from his struggles. The bleeding may of slowed but he was too weak to do anything other than lay there. If putting the pieces together was his last solace, and took his mind off his inevitable doom, so be it. Some of the vials, perhaps his was among them, were carried by a high priestess of Lolth as she passed by with a prisoner, a woman, and her escorts. Were it not for the bruises and caked on blood, and other evidences of visited torture, she probably would have been beautiful. Just before the robed figure appeared the prisoner they were escorting somehow came in contact with one of the vials. It was then that the robed figure appeared. He seemed to materialize out of thin air, cleaving the closest drow he could reach in half with a strike so swift and forceful it cracked the very air. The woman, she cried out at the sight of him. The priestess and her guards saw him too, as they reacted to the deafening strike. Here in the heart of the underdark surrounded by the faithful and perhaps favored by lolth herself the priestess and her guards hurriedly dragged the woman away. They were not seeking to take the battle elsewhere, no, they were fleeing from him.

As a practiced mage, even if he wasn’t one of stature himself, Marius knew magic’s power. The magical energy brought forth in the moment the robed figure laid eyes on the woman shook the entire cavern in which the city resided. Drow, slave, friend, foe, hapless creature, those closest to him were simply gone. Had Marius not covered his own eyes, if he weren’t dead, he would most certainly be blind. The torrent of spells became more intense, his blade relentlessly hacking apart anything that managed to get close to him be it drow or fleeing slave. As he continued on in the direction the priestess had fled he turned on a heel and sent a blast of energy back towards the largest avenue into the plaza, and the resulting shock-wave had knocked Marius’ cage from its suspension.

That had to be it…

The vials were spelled. Perhaps Marius wasn’t meant to be captured, but the blood was meant to summon the robed figure. That would also explain how the men who didn’t make good on their pledge died. A powerful enough mage could siphon off some of himself therein, perhaps to bypass a barrier or transport himself somewhere, should he be killed… or to look for someone.

He was beginning to lose consciousness again. He could barely make out the faint ring of large metallic footsteps as they moved towards him. He had not the strength to roll over to see what fate awaited him. Now he would simply die. He felt heated metal against the back of his neck, armored fingers closing forcefully around his robes and then he was hoisted into the air as if he were nothing. He saw only the back of massive armored red heels as he was thrown over, what could only be a giant’s left shoulder. Slave’s still scurried about in all directions, some fighting amongst themselves, some arming themselves, some attempting to escape and others still taking the coward’s way out. With little concern left to his own fate, he made one last attempt to raise his head to the right only enough to see his salvation or destruction. He never made it before he blacked out, but he caught a glimpse of the woman prisoner cradled securely against the creature’s massive armored torso.

He woke with a start. He was in a small but comfortable room, clean and his wounds had been dressed. At the foot of the bed there was a heaping bowl of stew and bread. Lamb from the smell of it. A stinging sensation came to his right cheek as he moved about, and he reached up to grace it with his hand. There where once a slave brand had been he now had a fresh scar. He winced at the pain, but hunger was stronger. Reaching for the stew he also found a parchment rolled up next to the bowl. He unrolled the parchment, the simple enormity of the message he read there confirmed any suspicious he might have had about his escape.

I found your vial, friend. Safe travels.

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS

Comments are closed.