Friday, June 12, 2009

Chapter 4, Part 1 - Lethik Nardan

Lethik Nardan tapped his ring impatiently on the hilt of his sheathed dagger. The cunning little rat of a being, Cynlew, had promised to give Lethik the location of the hiding place of a Frater Ignis Aeternis who Lethik had been hired to kill. In exchange, Lethik would come out to this forsaken prairie in the middle of Cimbra in order to meet with Porphyria -- a being who Lethik knew only by reputation. Lethik wondered what the ELF Guerilla could possibly want from him, and half expected a trap -- members of the Discordian priesthood had found themselves on the wrong end of his blade in the past, and perhaps someone had finally decided to settle the score.

The moon was barely out, and the ringwielder's shadowy form would have been all but invisible in the darkness, if not for the two glowing red points of light that stood in place of his eyes. Lethik made it a point to disguise his true form when there were others around to see it, but the lands about him were deserted; the closest intelligent being was probably a league or two away, and Lethik felt like conserving his energy.

After the passage of another few minutes, Lethik noticed a light moving across the sky, seeming to grow larger as it moved towards him. Soon, the light was close enough that Lethik could discern a golden-winged figure at its center, glowing brightly. This must be Porphyria -- Lethik was both relieved that she had come for the meeting in a highly-visible manner and slightly unnerved by the confidence such a gesture portended. Lethik kept his gaze on Porphyria as she slowly circled the area and finally came to ground in a graceful landing. She appeared unarmed and unarmored, dressed in garments of cloth that shifted color through the spectrum. Lethik let down his guard slightly, taking his hand away from the dagger at his side -- Porphyria appeared to be here to talk rather than to fight.

"Lethik Nardan?" Porphyria asked, her voice betraying a small amount of apprehension. This was good, Lethik thought, it meant that she knew and respected his reputation.

"I am. And judging from your appearance, you must be Porphyria. I hope whatever job you have for me is worth my traveling out here in order to meet with you."

Porphyria nodded, responding, "I think you'll find this job quite entertaining. I want you to help me with an assault on the Justicars' Ivory Tower."

Lethik snorted in derision, "You've obviously heard some of the more inflated stories about me... I may be good, but I don't think anyone is good enough to attack that place and live to tell the tale -- at least, not without the support of an army. Thank you for wasting my time."

"I think you overestimate the obstacles in our path, but I can assure you -- the object here is only the acquisition of an item that is being held by the Justicars, and I only need your assistance for a very small portion of this plan. If all goes well, you can be in and out in a matter of seconds -- before more than a handful of Tyr's faithful can respond to our presence."

Porphyria waited for Lethik to make up his mind -- if he could not be convinced to join in her plan, there might be others who would be acceptable substitutes, but none she knew of would have the same set of skills and powers. Finally, Lethik nodded slowly and whispered, "I think you're insane, and you're probably going to die a horrible death doing this, but then again, anything other than my own hide is your concern."

Porphyria nodded, relief showing on her face. "I'm glad you're willing to entertain my madness then," she chuckled, "now, about your payment."

"I want one hundred dekans of orichalcum. After all, since you're looking to commit suicide, you'll not be needing it" Lethik stated, adding, "and my price is non-negotiable... take it or leave it."

Porphyria whistled slightly under her breath. Lethik's asking price would not completely bankrupt her, but it would come close. Again, she considered alternatives to Lethik's involvement, but knew that any further delay would only complicate things, as the Justicars might have time to figure out what to do with the artifact she intended to steal.

"You will have your price. Where would you like it paid?"

"I have an associate in Halfmoon Bay who will take payment for me," Lethik said, handing Porphyria a small slip of parchment, "here are his name and address. And since I really don't trust you to survive this, I will be requiring all payment be made up-front."

Porphyria smiled wryly. "You should have your payment in a couple of days. You will meet me on the night before the new moon in Corna, and we will make our attack the next night." Porphyria thought for a moment before adding, "And if you could bring along some expendable troops, it would be worth an additional ten dekans of orichalcum to me."

"I will make sure to bring along some friends then," Lethik chuckled, "Just be sure that your payment is made in a timely fashion, and my services are yours."

A small flare of almost-imperceptible light came from the ring on Lethik's finger, and seconds later, a shadowy black figure came swooping from the sky. Lethik mounted the rhug shi, and it flapped its bat-like wings once before leaping into the sky. "I will see you in Corna, then," Lethik shouted from the back of his mount, now visible only as a dark shadow that blotted out the stars as it passed through the night sky.

Porphyria brushed the dust that had been stirred up by the rhug shi's wings from one leg of her pants. The ringwielder would be more than worth his price, assuming her plan was successful. Porphyria recited an invocation to Nuit, goddess of night, and was instantly engulfed in comforting darkness once again as the glow faded from her body. Mentally, Porphyria reviewed the list of things she had yet to prepare before her plan would be ready -- it was a short list, but the night she was to meet Lethik in Corna was only a few days away, and Porphyria would need all that time to get fully prepared. Taking wing, Porphyria flew back in the direction of Losthaven, quietly singing a hynm to Eris.

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