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You are here: Home --> Forum Home --> Creativity Forum --> Personal Creations --> Into the Night Chap. 1
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Steelight
Sage of the Realms
Karma: 44/9
1024 Posts


Into the Night Chap. 1

Szordrin



The smell of sweat and smoke was strong at the tavern this night. Cheap ales and fine wines all finding their way into the bellies of patrons, as often occurred here. But this was not just any commoner’s tavern. Nightshade’s comfort was a huge establishment that catered to commoners and nobility alike. The nobles were seated apart from their lesser of course, usually on a second floor balcony to either side of the stage. They seemed, as nobles often do, to enjoy looking down at the peasants from their higher vantage point. They sat on ornate chairs and soft cushions as they were served some of the finest wines and food outside of the emperor’s castle.

The ground floor was filled with much plainer, though no less sturdy tables and chairs for the more common patrons. The occasional cheer or growl of frustration rose above the din as someone won or lost their day’s wages dicing or in some other game of chance. Unlike many of the taverns in the city, very rarely did any sort of fight break out here. The two large bouncers were the owner’s insurance for that. They stood easily eight feet tall, with a physique that spoke of the blood of giant kind flowing through their veins. They tended to say very little, but when they told someone to leave, they did so; either by their own free will or a more… aerial route courtesy of the giantkin.

Nightshade’s Comfort was well known throughout the city. Not only did it serve high quality food and drinks and have a reputation for safe conduct, but the magic of the place entranced more than a few. At the center of each table stood a small candle that burned with a multicolored flame, providing more than enough light to throw dice, gamble or converse. Floating throughout the room were balls of soft light that illuminated the rest of the tavern and creating an ambiance of mystical mystery that attracted all sorts of patrons in a society where magic was so commonplace. Despite these wondrous attractions, it was what hung on the wall above the bar that claimed the most attention.

Stretched the entire length of the bar, and about ten feet in height was an incredible red-scaled hide. Rumors and theories abounded trying to explain what it was and where it came from. Some believed it was crafted by magic, as was much of the rest of the bar. The more learned of patrons theorized something else entirely. There was a time long ago, when legendary creatures walked the land and soared through the skies. Legends said that dragons died out centuries ago, but the hard, glistening red scales (as well as the many divinations subtly cast by the more inquisitive patrons) seemed to be a remnant of those ancient creatures. Nightshade, the tavern’s proprietor, was known to be an adventurer before she retired to this life. Was it truly possible for such things to still exist?

The pipe weed haze was particularly thick tonight as Szordrin sat at his usual table by the round stage in the center of the lower floor. He was a noble of the House of Trith’Tarl in the city of Illuria, though he took great care to disguise himself as something lesser. He generally preferred the company of commoners to those of his own station, and it simply would not do for a noble to be seen fraternizing with commoners, even in such an upscale establishment as Nightshade’s Comfort. Tonight he appeared as nothing more than a rather wealthy merchant. His black silk tunic and matching breeches masked his athletic physique. Few who looked upon him would recognize the balanced grace with which he normally walked, or the strong muscles hidden beneath the layers of silk and velvet. His slanted eyes were both orange and red, seeming to flicker like a burning flame as he gazed around the room.

The valshari noble had spent many hours dicing, gambling and enjoying life deep into the night. His dark skin and elven blood were not a hindrance to him here, though it forced him to work that much harder to get people to underestimate him. But that was half the fun, and half of the challenge. After all, hadn’t he been told time and time again that anything worth having was worth stealing? Perhaps the saying didn’t go quite like that, but Szordrin had never been one to pay too much attention to lessons taught by his family elders.

He came here tonight like he did on many occasions before, though this was not just any night. Tonight his brother Vyrn was with him, having just graduated from the Illurian Empire’s prestigious school of magic, Malla Zhaunil. Vyrn stood only slightly above Szordrin’s shoulder, though his physical condition was only slightly worse than his elder brother. Tonight he wore a black velvet doublet, trimmed with crimson thread, and a cloak or rich black cloth.

Graduating from Malla Zhaunil was high honor indeed, and worth more than a little celebration. The wine had flowed freely for the first hours of their celebration. And perhaps it was that very fact that inspired his idea for fun this evening. After only a moment’s consideration Szordrin pulled his brother close. He spoke in hushed tones, almost giddy at his idea.

“Hey Vyrn, in honor of your graduation, I suggest we do something special. To commemorate the event so to speak.”

Knowing his elder brother well, Vryn feigned hesitance, even as a telling smile spread across his face. “What did you have in mind? A gift? A woman?”

“No no no. Nothing of that sort. This adventure will be much more exciting.”

Szordrin saw the mischievous grin he wore slowly spreading to his brother’s face as he whispered his idea into Vyrn’s ear.

Picking up what remained of his wine, Vyrn downed it in a single gulp and stood. “Shall we go?”

******

The streets were quiet this late at night. But in only a few hours the false sun would rise in the east of the pyramid dome that housed and protected the city of Illuria. They had to hurry.

The streets of Illuria were a labyrinth to those who did not know them. Fortunately for Szordrin and his brother, his nightly expeditions had brought him this way quite often. The maze of side roads and alleys unraveled before them as they rushed on. Before long they stood before an incredible structure. It was easily one of the largest and most beautiful buildings in the city, and probably the whole of the Empire. The main house was huge, easily forty feet tall, with several small towers climbing even higher. It was a sprawling structure that housed the majority of the nobles in House Orinith, a house second only to the Emperor’s own. Several outbuildings were scattered around the grounds, all arranged practically throughout the area, and each building was equally impressive. Hand carved gargoyles guarded the main house and its many balconies, the gems in their eyes seeming to sparkle in some unseen light. But they were not the only guards of the grounds. Several patrols of House Orinith soldiers walked disciplined paths throughout the complex. This wasn’t going to be easy, but therein lay the fun.

The first challenge that blocked the path of the brothers was a twenty foot tall fence of forged iron, shot through with silver that stretched around the entirety of the city block, topped by points sharper than spear tips. Only two gates pierced this ornate and incredibly effective defense. There was the main gate, guarded by its own squad of elite warriors, not to mention the locked and heavily enchanted gate, and the servant’s gate. Though far less conspicuous, even that smaller entrance was well protected both by manpower and magic. They would have to find another way in.

“Any ideas?” Szordrin looked to his younger brother, the better educated of the two. “We might be able to find a way over the wall and from there…” his voice trailed off as he noticed Vyrn already in the midst of spellcasting.

Within moments they were both levitating off the ground. Unaccustomed to randomly being floated up without warning it took a few moments for the rogue to find his balance once again.

“Nice.” Szordrin said dryly to his brother’s amused expression. “Warn me next time you do that. Preferably before the spell is cast.”

“As you wish. This should make entry much easier though.”

Without a sound the valshari rogue moved across the street to the base of the immense fence. Graceful, but not as practiced in the arts of stealth, Vyrn followed.. Luckily they didn’t attract the attention of the guards patrolling the perimeter. Using the magic Vyrn has placed on them they quickly ascended the iron fence and came down silently inside. Adrenalin coursed through Szordrin’s veins as his feet touched down in the soft grass near the stable. If they were caught now they would most certainly be imprisoned, or at the least harshly reprimanded. His excitement was growing with every passing moment.

Visions of success at their prank danced through his head. So entranced by them was he that he almost didn’t notice the approaching patrol before it was too late. Only Vyrn’s accute hearing saved them both. Quickly they moved to the stable wall, pressing themselves hard into the shadows. The seconds passed painfully slowly as the patrol stopped nearby. The patrol leader motioned to a pair of the soldiers and they turned towards their hiding spot. The intruders recognized the insignia emblazoned on the patrol leader’s breastplate. It was only worn by the elite soldiers of House Orinith, and those that wore it seldom gave warning or allowed surrender.

Forget prison, if these guys find us we’ll be lucky to survive! Perhaps we would be better off hiding in the stable.

His excitement grew with his fear. Szordrin lived for moments like this. He thrived on walking the razor’s edge between success and sudden disaster, though in this case sudden disaster seemed to be looming ever closer. His hand moved to his dagger, slowly so the motion didn’t attract the attention of the approaching guards. The dagger was his most prized possession, more valuable than anything else he owned. The blade was fashioned of a rare metal known as umbristine, and it had an expertly cut black diamond in the pommel. He saw Vyrn’s eyes widen as he unsheathed the black blade. They both knew that fighting the guards would only get them both killed. These were elite guards of House Orinith, some of the best trained warriors in the city. Vyrn was a trained wizard, skilled in the art of necromancy and conjuration, but he would not last long in an upfront fight. Szordrin was only slightly better off, having had some training with his daggers by their House weaponmaster when he was younger. How he wished he had paid better attention to those lessons now that he might actually have need of them.

The two soldiers, clad in black leather armor painted with the crest of the Orinith family, approached slowly. At first they seemed to be coming directly towards the two brothers, but after a moment their path led them into the stable. It was only a part of their route apparently, but the potential danger the young Trith’tarls were in was no less real. Minutes passed as the guards searched the stable for intruders. The soft snorts of horses, disturbed from their sleep testified to the thoroughness of their search. As the guards finally moved away from the stable Szordrin silently thanked Elarii the Trickster for their luck. Moments later the patrol continued on its way.

“Well that was interesting. Do you have any other magic that might help us get to the main house?” Szordrin looked to his brother hopefully.

“Nothing I have prepared. After all, I hardly expected to take up thievery on my first night home.”

Szordrin smirked at that, and then turned to examine their path. Whoever designed this place had a good defensive mind. The open yard between the outer fence and the main house provided a clear view for anyone looking for intruders. There was no cover, nothing to hide behind. But there had to be some way…

“That’s it!” Szordrin exclaimed. “We’ll move around the outer fence towards the main gate. That row of trees… there, will give us cover. We’ll be able to walk right in the front door!”

“You truly have lost your mind Szordrin. Here we are invading the home of the second most powerful noble house in all of the empire and you want to just barge in? Brilliant.” Sarcasm dripped from his words.

“It’ll be easier than it sounds. Trust me.” Without another word he bolted along the fence, moving from shadow to shadow with the grace of a prowling cat.

“Impressive. He’s improved since I left.” The wizard whispered to himself before following. While not nearly as adept as his brother, Vyrn still managed to make the tree row without being noticed. Luckily, it seemed the guards were more interested in recounting their escapades at one of the local taverns than looking for intruders. After all, who would be stupid enough to break into House Orinith?

They were shadows, moving from tree to tree, gaining ground quickly as they approached the Orinith mansion. In moments Szordrin stood before the ornate door of the house. He took but a moment to admire the craftsmanship before pulling out his picks and moving towards the complex lock. A second before his hand touched the door he heard a sharp hiss behind him. He took a quick look around and, after seeing no approaching guards, he turned to Vyrn.

“Can’t you see I’m working here?” he whispered back to his brother. “What is it?”

“I wouldn’t touch that door if I were you. It’s ensorcelled with powerful evocations. You’d likely be dead before you could even wonder what happened.”

His brother’s smug grin was infuriating, despite the fact that he had likely just saved his life.

“Okay, then we just have to find another way. We are not beaten yet.”

“Wonderful.”

Szordrin glanced around the compound again, sneering at his brother’s sarcasm. Two patrols of guards were visible from the door, but their presence seemed to continue to go unnoticed. The brothers rejoined the shadows and crept around the building, pressing as close to the ground as possible and searching for another way in.

“We aren’t going to get in there Szordrin! Face it, the wizards protecting this place are much smarter than a bored, slumming noble!” Even in his whisper Szordrin could feel his brother’s frustration. But that very thought gave him an idea. Doors and windows were the entry ways of common thieves and protected as such. Szordrin was no common thief.

If the door was as heavily protected as Vyrn suggested, the balcony and windows were likely to be warded as well. That left only one way in. No family calling itself noble would do without having several fireplaces in their grand home, either for effect or for warmth in the colder seasons. The Trith’Tarl household had over a dozen, and they were far behind the Orinith’s in terms of both position and wealth. That was their way in.

“Can you get us to the roof?” he asked, quietly to the wizard.

“I have a spell that will allow me to climb up the wall, but you will be on your own. Though I’m sure you are skilled enough for a simple wall climb are you not? Why the roof?”

His condescension was infuriating! How dare Vyrn speak to his elder like this? But then again, Szordrin often spoke to his five elder brothers with much more blatant scorn. Perhaps it runs in the family.

“Cast your spell. Our way in is above. I’ll meet you by the northmost chimney.”

A plan was beginning to form in his head. There were not likely to be any wards on the chimney, and from there they could get to almost any part of the house. They couldn’t get the object they sought out that way though. Hopefully the first floor windows were not warded from the inside. By the time he came out of his contemplations Vyrn was already half way up the wall. Frustrated at his distraction he turned his attention back to the wall. He glanced around at the brick, picking the easiest path and then began to climb.

Despite his bravado, Szordrin was not as skilled as he let on, and he knew it. When it came to stealth and guile he was always at his best, but climbing was not one of his greatest talents. It took him several minutes to scale the bricks to the roof. Honestly he was surprised that the guards had not noticed his black garbed form on the wall. There were a few shadows he deliberately moved through as he climbed, but apparently luck was with him this night.

From the roof they had a much wider view of the compound. They could see the iron fences on all sides and the patrols moving through their scheduled routes.

“Does something seem a bit off to you?” Vyrn had been looking around from the moment he crested the roof several minutes earlier. He had sharp eyes and a mind for details. After a few moments, Szordrin too noticed that something was wrong.

“I only see four groups of guards covering the whole complex, including the main gate. Trith’Tarl usually has five squads and our lands are just over half of the size. So where are all of the guards?”

“Likely inside, but let us hope they have some more pressing business than us tonight. Hurry. The chimney is over there.” He said pointing to a nearby tower of cut stone. “Be quick about it. I will wait here and send warning if anything else seems amiss.”

“Understood.” Without another word Szordrin silently slipped down into the chimney.


((Feel free to post thoughts, opinions and whatever else. This is a very rough draft. I haven't even gone through and edited it myself yet.))


Posted on 2011-01-10 at 03:20:31.
Edited on 2011-05-13 at 17:54:48 by Steelight

Tiamat5774
5 Headed Dracohydra
Karma: 80/23
1117 Posts


Good stuff!

Definitely got my attention and interest. Very descriptively told.


Posted on 2011-01-10 at 03:40:05.

Steelight
Sage of the Realms
Karma: 44/9
1024 Posts


Anyone?

Any new opinions on this yet?


Posted on 2011-02-09 at 06:25:14.

Celeste
Hippy-snapper!
Karma: 138/3
1049 Posts


Brotherly Bonding with Burglary

Okay, so I typed this up as I was reading. I can take this apart a bit more if that’s what you’re looking for, but defiantly a good start.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nice job setting the scene in the first paragraph. I might have like to hear a little bit more about the town itself, but the focus of the tavern was really well done.

Character introduction is good, but from the description of the clothes (especially Vyrn’s) I wouldn’t think that they were trying to “blend in” with the commoners. Nice hook.

Iron fence shot with silver? I’m not sure what you mean by that.

Love the description of the adrenaline rush, coupled with the addiction to it.

Hehe… brotherly banter.

Awww, I wanted more! I know it’s your first draft, so I won’t go into any grammar commentary. Nicely done, it certainly drew me into the story. And yes, I am certainly interested to see what the brothers will do, and any back story that might ensue.



Posted on 2011-03-01 at 21:05:45.

Steelight
Sage of the Realms
Karma: 44/9
1024 Posts


Thanks

The book assumes that people are already familiar with the area (from buying the campaign setting). But I also have an introduction that talks a bit about the Illurian Empire and the capital city.

Iron shot through with silver... think of a marbleized type effect, except iron and silver instead of stone. That is probably the best description of it.

Thanks for the compliments. Now that I've gotten a few opinions, I'll think about posting the 2nd chapter (I have 7 completed so far).


Posted on 2011-03-01 at 21:30:54.

   
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