The blindfold was taken off and someone was pointing a lit wand in my face.
“Care to explain why a city employee vouched for the character of and has been harboring a known criminal since Greengrass of this year?”
My life, as I knew it, was over. So, I decided to adopt an air of defiance. “I’m sorry. Didn’t you bring me in for having that Lauthaul token in my purse? Why don’t you stick to that topic instead and leave May out of this?” As far as I knew at this point, Ralenthra had been caught stealing, and that her identity was still a secret.
I was wrong. He lifted his hand as if he was going to strike me. “There are penalties when a woman lies, Miss Nailo. Even the spoiled daughter of a hardened mercenary and a renegade sorceress is not above Silverymoon justice.”
“Excuse me? My father was an adventurer and my mother…my mother is…”
“Under house arrest for the last 20 years for her attack on a young man you were once involved with, Miss Nailo. Of course, we look the other way from time to time, like when you two went out to lunch recently. It seems that your father and her penchant for drink have…broken her spirit enough to keep her in line.”
So my dream was true. “And my father?”
“Mystra’s tits, girl, I am not here to answer your queries about family secrets! Suffice it to say that MANY have been kept from you. You have no small amount of intuition about you. That’s why you were expelled for attempting to break into the Hall of Records!”
I got a good look at his badge and smirked. “Be careful, Captain. I’m not sure the High Lady would appreciate you blaspheming her mother like that.”
He smirked. “You don’t deny conspiring to break into the Hall of Records?”
“I thought that I was expelled for…”
“…your public fling with Aelthas? Oh, you poor little fool
. It was Aelthas who told the deans about your plan when he was taken in for questioning. Your public deflowering was only a minor prank which would have yielded a small slap on the wrist, shall we say.”
My head was spinning. Smelling blood in the water, he continued.
“The Alchemy department at the Conclave reported the theft of a vial of an experimental concoction called Potion of Forgetfulness at around the time of your expulsion. Can you tell me anything about this?”
“’What’ is no kind of answer, Miss Nailo. Yes or no, can you tell me about the current whereabouts of this potion?” I remained silent. He continued. “Because the concoction made that year was highly unstable. It, er…leaks.”
I said nothing.
“It breaks down over time, Miss Nailo. After a while, it only takes a trigger for the victim to regain his or her memory. It would be…unfortunate…if it were to be used. It would only delay the inevitable.”
At this point, I tried to block him out. I meditated on the elements:May the powers of earth sustain me…
“So you see, Miss Nailo, we have enough on you to not only take your job away, but to put you in the dungeon for quite a while.” I felt Captain Tagen caress my cheek mockingly. “Too bad that pretty girls like you don’t do too well in prison.”
He got up and began to pace the floor confidently.
“That is, unless you think your knight in shining armor will save you. You’d be wrong of course. Methrammar may fancy you, but in his heart of hearts, the Lady named Silverymoon will always come first. We’ve established already that you have run through whatever influence your parents once had in bailing you out, so you have little choice but to cooperate.”
I said nothing and kept my eyes tight shut.
“So…tell me about your accomplices. Ralenthra Ilphukiir, for instance. Were you aware that while working as a mercenary in Menzoberranzan, she led raids on the surface to capture slaves? She helped separate families, destabilize settlements. At least one small village was burned to the ground to cover their trail. There was…no sign of survivors. We have documentation.”
She had never told me, but in the beginning, our relationship had been based on ‘plausible deniability’. It hurt me that there may be some truth in what Tagen was saying, but I wasn’t going to sell her out over something she’d done years ago. She was a different person now, I knew it. I spoke. “I met her earlier this year, at the Greengrass Festival outside town. I was in a bar, getting drunk, when I saw a bunch of drunken human males picking on someone much smaller than them. I got cocky, started a fight with them to stop them. By hook or by crook, we took out the whole bar together. She got me out of there, healed me up. I saw no reason not to trust her after she could so easily have disposed of me then. She. Is. My. Friend.”
Captain Tagen nodded. “You just keep adding to your laundry list of crimes, Miss Nailo. Drunk and Disorderly. Multiple Assault charges. Tut, tut, my dear. Such a scandal!” He drew close to me and tucked a stray lock of my hair behind my ear. “Why can’t you just admit to yourself that you were played? She easily could have killed you, yes, but she needed you to get into Silverymoon. And you played right into her hands! Typical of Mielikki followers, I’m afraid. Too soft, far too trusting. Testify that your drow ‘friend’ Ralenthra bewitched you and that she masterminded this whole affair with the tokens to take Silverymoon down from within, to allow her filthy people a way inside the most vulnerable places in our fair city. If you don’t turn on her first, she’ll turn on you. Say it.”
I said nothing, but shook my head and looked away.May the powers of air inspire me…
“Fair enough, how about the muscle of the operation? Kronk, is it? He has a criminal record as long as my arm, keeps questionable companions, and that’s not even including you or your drow ‘friend’, members of Silverymoon’s Thieves Guild, as well as a renegade and disgraced former Harper. Arson, drunk and disorderly and murder
are only some of the crimes he’s accused of. The scarbearer is a menace to society, and you’d be doing Silverymoon a service if you testify against him. Tell me about Kronk.”
“Kronk?” I burst into giggles. “Kronk? You think he had something to do with this? Ha!”
Captain Tagen slammed his fist down on the table. “You will
take these proceedings seriously, Miss Nailo. You could face the hangman’s noose tomorrow, for treason.”
“You seriously think Kronk is capable of grand larceny?” Okay, he could be, but he’s not exactly the subtle type. As for the other crimes, I don’t think Kronk would kill anyone who didn’t have it coming. He’s got a good heart, the big lug. “He’s not an example of what we like to call stealthy
Tagen growled. “No, but you need someone in case Plan A fails. You need
a one-man cavalry.”
I folded my hands in front of me. “Let me tell you what I know of Kronk. Mayurra and I met him in Everlund. He was working as security for Sun & Moon. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? They like to play the harp. He also took down several orcs in Olostin’s Hold single-handedly. Kronk helped save the town.”
“And he let his half-brother escape with a particularly valuable artifact once in the safekeeping of the Harpers that could destabilize the region and put peace talks with…certain parties…at risk.”
Well, that was a rare slip-up on the Captain’s part. If a minor orc chieftain like Urgurth got a hold of a ‘peace-destabilizing artifact’, the only peace that could be sought would be a truce with Obould. I’m not sure the dwarven citadels would like that, but at least they wouldn’t be losing so many to a war on two fronts, one with Obould’s orcs and one with the denizens of the Underdark. It was a smart move, in the long run. That’s why Alustriel rules the Marches.
“This is quite a impressive little plan, Miss Nailo. A two-pronged attack from the Underdark and the Orcs not yet united under King Obould’s banner. Give us Kronk, at least. You’d be doing Luruar a service.”
Again, I shook my head.May the powers of fire illuminate me…
“Now, what I don’t understand is your connection to Jonah Goodman.”
I was genuinely shocked. “Who?”
“Don’t play stupid. You were still in his arms when we opened the door to your prison wagon upon your arrival here. Surely you are familiar
I had to fight the urge to laugh. They had the wrong man. All I knew about Jonah was that he was a friend of Magnos’. “Well, he’s much bigger than I am; it was hard to wriggle free.” I grinned nervously.
“My dear girl, he is a wizard, you are a druid. You could have easily taken him down physically; especially since he no longer had his components pack with him.” Oh. Crap. “So, why were you in his arms?”
“Uh…I don’t know a Jonah Goodman. I never met him before in my whole life.” It was still the truth.
“Liar!” The Captain slapped me across the face. No one, not even my father when he was at his most angry had ever struck me before. I was more shocked than hurt, though. I am no delicate flower. I scowled defiantly, despite my swelling lips.
“It would be easier for you if there were an angle here, but there isn’t. Bring your ‘experts’ in here and they’ll find I’m telling you the truth. I. Don’t. Know. Jonah. Goodman.”
“Don’t mock me girl, I am
the expert here! I have 100 years experience with the Knights in Silver. You are just a hot little number who lucked into a cushy job as a city druid. Jonah is your firepower. As a member of the Spellguard, he also has access to spell ward tokens. But he doesn’t have any political reasons to bring down Silverymoon. He’s not doing it for money, either. He’s your lover.”
It was then that I realized that he had me. It was quite brilliant really, even if it wasn’t (well at least most of it) true. There was just enough truth to make it stick. Physical evidence, motives, and if I didn’t crack under the pressure someone else would. Captain Tagen must have sensed my panic. He smiled, most unpleasantly. “And the last piece clicks into place. It’s all connected. You used that young mage like you used Aelthas Vihuel, like you’re using Methrammar. Have you information on Silverymoon’s vulnerable spots through him as well? You seduced them and got them to do your bidding. But you don’t even care about them; all you care about is that drow whore
The intensity in his eyes was nearly manic. He got right in my face and I closed my eyes tight. “All I need from you is a guarantee…that you will testify that your drow ‘friend’ Ralenthra bewitched you and that she masterminded this whole affair with the tokens to take Silverymoon down from within in congress with an alliance of rebel orcs, to allow their filthy peoples a way inside the most vulnerable places in our fair city. Implicate her, the scarbearer and the traitor and you go free. You keep your job, you can go back to your old life, and you can even marry Methrammar if you choose with no more legal interference. Do it. If you don’t, you will
lose everything. You may not even be spared the hangman’s noose as a traitor.”May the powers of water nourish me.
I opened my eyes and a single tear rolled down my cheek. “No.”
Furious, Captain Tagen banged on the steel door behind me three times and called out. “Get this one out of my sight!” He then looked at me in disgust. “You are a disgrace to the elven race. May Corellon have mercy upon you.” And with that, I was seized upon by two guards and led outside towards the holding cells they were keeping Ralenthra, Kronk, Magnos and I in. To my surprise, I was greeted by quite a commotion: Methrammar was here, struggling with five other men trying to hold him back.
“I order you to let me through! I must see her! Seledra! Seledra!”
Tears stung my eyes. “Methrammar,” I whispered softly. I didn’t think he’d come for me.
Captain Tagen coolly strode out of the interrogation room and with a single nod, the wall of men hemming Methrammar in broke apart. He rushed to me and gathered me close to him, kissing me more intensely than he’d ever done before. My already tender bottom lip split into an orchid of blood. Methrammar drew back, horrified. “What did they do to you?”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw them men lead Ralenthra away towards the interrogation room. Captain Tagen looked at Ralenthra and then glared at me as a warning before closing the door behind them.
“Nothing. A troll hit me in the face with his club during the raid. I’m lucky I didn’t lose a few teeth.” I said, almost light-heartedly.
He looked around furtively, as he gently wiped my mouth clean with his handkerchief. “Come with me, Seledra. This is no place for you. We can go back to your house…”
“No. I’m not going anywhere without Mayurra.”
Methrammar nodded, with a sad smile. “I was afraid you’d say that. Mystra knows I can’t make you do something you don’t want to do.” He took his cloak off and wrapped it around my shoulders, then kissed me softly on the forehead. “Just stay safe, my love. I’ll come for you again in the morning.” Tagen’s men then put me back in my cell, right across from the one Magnos and Kronk shared. Kronk was asleep and was probably going to wake up with a nasty headache. Still, I feel as though he’d done this before. I got the impression that Magnos had been watching me since I stepped out of the interrogation room. He smirked and clapped sarcastically.
He raised an eyebrow at me. “Was that…Methrammar
“Not that it’s any of your business, but yes.”
“You two are lovers?”
“What do you think, genius?”
Magnos held out one hand, made a fist, jutted out his thumb and pointed downwards with it sharply. At the same time, he stuck out his tongue. “Pbthbththths”
“That’s lovely, Magnos. Maybe when you graduate from kindergarten, we can discuss it further.”
“I. Don’t. Like. Him.”
My mouth fell agape. “Uh…you don’t have to. Who I take to my bed is none of your concern.”
“Not yet, it isn’t.”
“More like not EVER
“Your holiness,” He pointed to his head with both hands. “I see myself in your…future.”
“No, he is. The man is either blind or he’s just stupid. Either way, I would have hit that Captain in the face for roughing you up like that if you were…if I were him. I can’t believe
he swallowed that line you gave him.” He mimicked my voice. “’Oh, a big nasty troll hit me
!’ I’m surprised you didn’t say that you walked into a wall or something.” For a moment, I was a little flattered at his concern, fake or not. I almost wanted to give him a little heads up about the identity problem they had, but…
I shrugged off Methrammar’s cloak to reveal my well-muscled arms, lifted my right hand high above my head and jumped up, grabbing the bars above my head and began to pull myself up repetitively. “And just what were you going to hit him with? Magic Missile
? I can take care of myself, thank you very much. I don’t need a man to do it for me.”
He snorted and leaned back with his arms behind his head, crossing his legs languorously. “I can see that.” He paused, as if for effect. “So, are drow women as insatiably hot in bed as they say?”
“Is that all you think about? You disgust me.” I can’t believe I slept with this man. Almost.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” He smirked.
I must have been drunker than I thought that night. “You're the most contemptible person I've ever met in all my life!”
He raised an eyebrow at me. “Confidentially, I
think you're a bit of a stinker. I’m getting some sleep, your grace
!” And with that, he rolled over on his cot, turning his back on me. How dare he!
I stamped my foot, turned by back to him and finished my repetitions with my left arm before meditating again. That bastard. How I hate him!
Ralenthra returned from her interrogation apparently unscathed. She re-entered our cell with no resistance, but when I dropped from doing my pull-ups and moved to embrace her, she held up her hand to halt me. Out of the vision of the guards, she quickly signed that we would speak later. Dejected, I nodded, and looked past her to see Magnos being led out of his cell. He turned his head towards me and managed a wink and a grin before getting hustled down the corridor to the interrogation room. With him gone, Ralenthra wanting silence and Kronk still sleeping, I felt...isolation. Wrapping Methrammar's cloak around me, I sat on the cold stone floor and meditated in an attempt to shut out my surroundings...
...which worked fine until I started hearing and feeling a commotion coming from the interrogation room.Blast.Blast.Creak.Blast.Creak.Blast.
My eyes flew open. What in Mielikki's name was going on in there? Probably something he already had coming, the cheeky bastard.
I shook my head vigorously in an effort to shed such pettiness and refocus my thoughts. The blasting and creaking continued and it took all the inner serenity I had to keep from grinding my teeth in response. Finally, there was a great crashing noise, followed by silence. My stomach dipped. Forest Queen, am I actually worried about that obnoxious man?
Well, of course I was worried! In my gut I knew he was as innocent as I was, in a manner of speaking of course, and he was getting worked over just like I had.
It was silent for what seemed like ages. I finally turned around to look at Ralenthra, who seemed to have noticed the unusually long silence as well. She raised an eyebrow then shrugged and looked away as she took her hair down and started to braid it. Finally, a gruff and authoritative voice broke the silence.
"That won't be necessary."
I heard Magnos, his breathing a little shaky. "Are you going to help me get out of here?"
The gruff voice responded in a tone that sounded like the owner was just about to dig into a rich and decadent dessert. "You could say that. You're clearly not Jonah Goodman. That must make you Magnos."
Way to go, genius.
"You could say that," responded Magnos. I could picture his smirk as if he were right in front of me.
Their voices, soon joined by those of Tagen and one of the guards, dropped into murmurs too quiet for me to make out until I heard Tagen speak in a deferential tone, "Yes, Eaerlraun."
Magnos was back to his usual routine of insulting people who could turn him into a grease spot, presumably Tagen. "Does that mean we're still on for tomorrow night?"
In spite of myself, I chortled. Ralenthra gave an exasperated sigh. He was shoved along the corridor by the guard Vasher and accompanied by Captain Tagen. Seeing Magnos get manhandled amused Kronk enough to elicit a snort of laughter.
Tagen had his back to me at this point and said to Kronk, "You're next."
Kronk looked at Magnos, "They hurt magic man?"
Magnos, still being held up by the shoulders, shook his head, if a little weakly.
"They save that for women and furniture." I flushed a little and was glad that his back was turned so he couldn't see the tiny smile on my face. Vasher then shoved him to the ground of their cell and grabbed Kronk's arm, leading the half-orc out of the cell. The cell door was still open, and Tagen was still in earshot, so I took a chance.
"Yes, Miss Nailo?"
"I am still considered a city druid in the employ of Silverymoon, am I not?"
"For now. Yes."
"Then I de...humbly request that you allow me to examine the mage. He seems to be hurt."
"Yes. I know." Oh, I bet you do.
"Let me do my job."
"Are conjugal visits part of your job description, Miss Nailo?"
My face flushed in embarrassment and anger. "Captain Tagen, continue to interfere in my work and I will see to it that Lord Methrammar interferes in yours."
It was my trump card. I was only going to be able to play it once. Tagen froze for a moment, as if considering, then he gestured to the guard known to us as Griggs. "Let her...service
the mage. When she's done, put her back in her cell."
Magnos still lying on the floor, snickered. "She's going to service me. Heh."
"Oh, do shut up," I said as I was led from one cell to another. The doors slammed behind me. I knelt down and felt his forehead. It was warmer than it should be. They'd hit him pretty hard, whatever it was. From his initial symptoms, I guessed that it was a low-level evocation spell, but when one is a young human wizard "blessed" with a wizard's stamina, it wouldn't take much to do some serious damage. Still, I needed to get a closer look. I scooped an arm behind his shoulders and drew him to a seated position. He leaned into me and his lips brushed my ear. I shuddered.
He whispered, "They're testing us, you know."
That was better than thinking that Tagen actually believed the yarn he'd spun in his efforts to get me to pin the blame on the others. I nodded and got us to our feet before walking him to his bunk and leaning him against it as I started to remove his cloak and robe. He chuckled, "Why, you little minx..."
I groaned as I pulled his robe off of him. "This isn't what you think, Magnos." I cringed. He'd never gotten around to introducing himself in the carriage. Maybe in all the hustle and bustle since then, he'd forgotten, though. Remembering how meticulous he was about his clothes and how I'd teased him mercilessly at the Dancing Goat about this trait, I started folding his robe neatly and placed it at the head of the mattress where a pillow would normally be.
Still weak in the knees, he fell into me again. Again, his mouth and his hot breath found my ear. "I don't remember telling you my name, Seledra
I grunted a little and turned my head so my lips could reach his ear. "I heard voices down the hall. And you're the only person I've seen since who looks
like a Magnos. Lucky guess, huh? Hail Tymora!" I cut my babbling off with a giggle and hoped that I hadn't called him by name earlier. Gently, I moved him to a seated position on his bunk and started undoing the laces of his shirt. After I pulled it over his head, I laid him down and assessed the damage. Just as I'd suspected, a low-level evocation spell delivered point blank to the chest. The skin of his chest looked red and irritated, a large, purple bruise was spreading over the direct area of impact and he was having some difficulty breathing. Probably magic missile. I placed my hand on his chest, smiled and said jokingly, "Oh, Magnos
. You didn't have to go defending my honor like that."
He chuckled again. "Anything for a lady."
I closed my eyes and began to chant softly to Mielikki.. I felt my hand grow warm and tingly with healing energy that transferred from my goddess to me to Magnos. The bruise turned from purple, to green to yellow and finally faded completely; the surrounding redness dissipated and his breathing returned to normal, so I started to move my hand away, but he'd caught me by the wrist and drew me close to him. "Don't go yet. Feels good." He softly brushed my swollen lip with his left thumb and opened his eyes. "Why didn't you heal yourself first? Now you'll have a scar." Magnos gave me a disapproving look that made the dimples in his cheeks pop.
Struggling valiantly not to laugh, I broke eye contact with him, shrugged and gently freed myself from his grip. "Ah, I'll be okay. When I get home I'll take a potion." I then got up and faced the door. "Guard?"