Bri Posted October 25, 2003 Share Posted October 25, 2003 PÃƒÂ¡draig sat uneasily on his throne. For a moment, he looked down at it, the black marble only broken up with blood-red veins. PÃƒÂ¡draig concentrated momentarily, before the throne changed color, the black becoming white, and the crimson to gray. Cushion... PÃƒÂ¡draig thought, feeling a shifting underneath him as he rose another couple inches when a magnificent purple pillow manifested underneath him, complete with gold trim. "Much better..." PÃƒÂ¡draig said to himself. "Did you say something, PÃƒÂ¡draig?" said a brusque, but throaty voice, the steel of command in it. PÃƒÂ¡draig smiled down at Viconia, admitted to himself her royal purple and burnished-red armor gave her a certain sartorial edge, her fine alabaster hair pinned up into a tight bun, while a scarlet cloak finished her ensemble. PÃƒÂ¡draig slowly followed Viconia's generous figure down to her sable boots, before he noticed Viconia's left hand lazily drifted down to the large mace hanging by small metallic chain from a stud on her belt. Face it, you just like to stare at her...besides, you already have one lady awaiting you later today stated the accusing voice in the back of his mind, and he felt a bit of guilt drift across his mind. "Not really, Viconia, just talking to myself. So, how fare you during this day?" he asked. "Day...night...how can anyone tell..." she said, good humor crossing her severe expression, "One day its raining blood, the next the stones are wailing for vengeance." PÃƒÂ¡draig nodded, "Kept you up, did it?" Viconia's cobalt-blue eyes danced, and she answered, "Well, dread master, unlike you, I am still quiet mortal..." PÃƒÂ¡draig blushed, and he said, "I will see to it. So, anything out of the ordinary I should attend too?" Viconia smiled, though there was no humor in it, and said, "Xendronen the Night-reaper and Kallista Grimheart have returned, PÃƒÂ¡draig. They've been waiting for the better part of an hour now..." PÃƒÂ¡draig nodded, and replied, "Very well, send them on in." No sooner were the words out of PÃƒÂ¡draig's mouth than the ground rumbled, and the green carpet that ran from the foot of PÃƒÂ¡draig's throne down a series of five steps, suddenly expanded, moving down to a far door at the end. With a clang, the doors swung open, and two figures strode forward, one a massive, red being standing lumbered forward, while behind him, only about half his size, was a more feminine figure, and she advanced forward at a much slower pace. The greater of the two figures was a vaguely humanoid form with a muscular, incarnadine body kneeled at the foot of the green carpet before it climbed the steps that led to PÃƒÂ¡draig's throne. The balor's massive wings enfolded around his body, giving the impression that he was even larger than he already was. The balor's thick, black claws left an imprint on the ground, and his glowing silver eyes gave little indication to the tanari's emotional state. "Sire," the balor purred. "Arise Xendronen..." PÃƒÂ¡draig commanded. The great balor arose, started to speak, when PÃƒÂ¡draig shook his head, put up a hand, and said, "Wait." The other entrant slowly made her way to the foot of PÃƒÂ¡draig's throne several minutes later. She swayed on her feet, the cuts and scrapes, not to mention the rents in her black bat-wings failed to detract from her beauty. Her exquisite features were marred by the grimace of pain she showed with every step she took, the succubus' long, blonde hair in great disarray. "Kneel Kallista..." Xendronen bellowed. The succubus nodded, and started to abase herself when PÃƒÂ¡draig shook his head, and said, "No, Kallista." "Sire?" Xendronen asked incredulously. PÃƒÂ¡draig stared down at the balor, and the tanar'ri turned his face away, as PÃƒÂ¡draig said, "Who rules here, Xendronen?" The balor grunted, and mumbled something under his breath. PÃƒÂ¡draig felt his anger grow, and he stood up, and the ground rumbled in accord with his irritation. Kallista fell, a slight shriek escaping her lips while Xendronen fell to one knee. "Who rules here, Xendronen?" PÃƒÂ¡draig asked once more. "You do...sire..." the balor said, albeit grudgingly. PÃƒÂ¡draig saw the succubus struggle to rise up, and he tilted his toward Viconia, and ordered "Help her up, please." Viconia shook her head in disbelief, but moved, and hooked one hand under Kallista's disbelief. The succubus looked up in surprise at the drow, and then at PÃƒÂ¡draig, but there was also a grateful look on her face. "Very well. Since we're here, let's get on with it. Xendronen, Kallista, give me your reports please..." PÃƒÂ¡draig said as he looked at the back of his hand, "Kallista, you first." "S...sire...sire...we were expected..." Kallista said, a fresh trail of blood slowly streaked down her face from PÃƒÂ¡draig's earlier display of power, "They...they were waiting for us...I...think...that there was a spy in our ranks, but I don't see how that is possible. I...I know that I vetted for each member...I...I will bear the responsibility..." There was a hardy laugh that escaped Xendronen, and the balor interrupted, "I succeeded where this pathetic whimpering failed. We successfully infiltrated the drow city, as you requested, and managed to turn a few, but significant and powerful individuals to the worship of Shar. Lolth...was...furious...in her response. You were right, sire, that it wouldn't require much to tweak the Spider Queen's nose...and make it appear another was responsible..." "Good..." PÃƒÂ¡draig said, as he sat back on his throne, steepling his fingers together. PÃƒÂ¡draig continued to sit on his throne for a few more minutes, gathered and ordered his thoughts, and then replied, "There is one thing, I need to ask Xendronen." "Sire?" the balor asked. "Why are you claiming credit for this...success...when I know perfectly well you did no ounce of work, only bellowing at your subordinates to get it finished. How many tanar'ri were lost in this...endeavor...Viconia?" PÃƒÂ¡draig questioned. Viconia pursed her lips, "Two, PÃƒÂ¡draig...as well as thirty mortals..." The balor growled, "Lies...all lies..." PÃƒÂ¡draig gave Xendronen a feral smile, as he said, "That's a bit of the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it my...vassal. The reason your assignment succeeded was due to the work of your underlings. It certainly wasn't through any personal...interaction...on your part. Hmm...what to do, what to do..." Viconia glanced at the balor, and replied, "We need someone to muck out the nightmares' stable PÃƒÂ¡draig." "Excellent suggestion, Viconia, excellent suggestion. Maybe a thousand years behind the pitchfork will teach you to take more personal care in your work..." PÃƒÂ¡draig said. A great roar arose from Xendronen, and he howled with the force of a hurricane, "You...are demoting me? I will not bear this insult any longer." Xendronen approached the throne, a great obsidian sword suddenly appeared in his hand, and he bellowed, "You've gone to far godling..." PÃƒÂ¡draig just smiled at the balor, though, his sky-gray eyes twinkled at the tanar'ri's advance, the balor's breeze having pushed his jet-black hair into disarray. The balor momentarily paused at PÃƒÂ¡draig's smile, but then advanced forward once more, sword raised high. The air shimmered as PÃƒÂ¡draig suddenly held a length of chain in his hands, a weighted end swung limply from his left hand, while his right hand held a steel rod with a nasty, emerald-colored, curved blade on the end. PÃƒÂ¡draig saw a large shadow descending on him, when he threw himself to the right, and swung the weighted at the balor's feet. The chain drew tight, and the balor crashed to the earth. "I don't believe you have tasted the edge of Soul-Cutter..." PÃƒÂ¡draig murmured, and advanced toward the balor. "Sire, mercy...please..." the balor babbled when PÃƒÂ¡draig lifted his arm high, the blue glinted dangerously in the overhead light. "Pathetic..." PÃƒÂ¡draig drawled, swung down, and buried the blade in the balor's skull. For a moment, Xendronen looked surprised, then his body slowly turned gray, as if the very color was being sucked from it. Once all the color was drained, then the flesh started to flake off, small gray particles suspended in the air. PÃƒÂ¡draig then turned his gaze on Kallista, and noticed she had her face buried deep into Viconia's shoulder. "Kallista..." PÃƒÂ¡draig said gently. "S...s...sire?" the succubus stammered. "You are being promoted. You are now my Outrider. Go heal yourself, and take some leave..." PÃƒÂ¡draig replied. This time Kallista turned her gaze on PÃƒÂ¡draig, shock on her face, and she asked, "Sire...I don't understand. I failed...why am I being promoted?" PÃƒÂ¡draig smiled warmly, "Failure happens to the best of us at times. I...know...what transpired. You did the best you could. It wasn't your fault other...deities...tipped their hand. You did an admirable job in retreating, in bringing your...underlings out. I don't punish for honest failure, remember that. There is no blame attached to you." Kallista looked up in wonder at Viconia, then back at PÃƒÂ¡draig, and the drow growled, "Go...you heard PÃƒÂ¡draig. If he says there is no...onus...then there is no blame..." Kallista smiled, and there was a shimmer of light, as she slowly teleported from PÃƒÂ¡draig's now empty throne room. "So, do you think she knows she was set up, that we were the ones behind the...hint...as to her group's location?" Viconia asked. "She may suspect it, though its not likely." PÃƒÂ¡draig answered. "Still seems like a lot of trouble to go through..." Viconia said. PÃƒÂ¡draig shrugged, "Maybe it is, but I would prefer someone who can think on their feet, who is loyal than blind, unthinking obedience...or those who seek to create their own fief under my banner...and at my expense." Link to comment
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