Beck’s merry face fell at the mention of the tiefling’s name: Long Tooth Nancy. Granted, Nancy might not have been the one who sent the hit, he certainly didn’t seem to recognize us, but he was capable of contracting Red Caps all the same.
“Just ask for a room,” Maziel growled near Beck’s ear. The drow’s eyes never stopped searching the quiet space, evidently coming to the same conclusion we all drew: this was a front. For what? Probably a thieves guild, which was somehow safer than the dark fey world outside.
“A room,” Nancy repeated, rising and walking to the stairs. “I can do that. Looks like you’ve all had yourselves a grand time in the city.”
I looked down at my blood-spattered hide armor, trying to hold a squirming baby triceratops in one arm and keep close to my sword with the other. After another moment, Nancy smiled and gestured for us to follow up the flight.
Down the hall, Nancy stopped at one of the doors and opened it to reveal a surprisingly well kept room. The tiefling leaned against the doorframe. “Again, some of these rooms offer better protection than others. For the right price.”
“It’s fine,” Maziel said, dropping a jingling pouch into the tiefling’s open palm and taking the extended key. “Thank you. Good night.” Maziel unceremoniously closed the door in the face of the still smiling Long Tooth Nancy.
“Is your boar going to be alright outside, Fizz?” Klo said, curling into a high backed chair.
The dark gnome shrugged. “Probably.”
“Taelim, you’re first watch,” Maziel said, starting to investigate the room.
“Really?” I groaned. “Paranoid much?” One look from the drow silenced me, and I dropped Brax onto the lone bed where he plopped onto the pillows.
The rest of the party promptly washed the day’s deeds off before finding sleep, scattered around the room.
I leaned against the door, stroking Oddie’s feathered breast as the pygmy hawk perched on my shoulder. Like a shadow, Maziel sat beside me.
“I think our best course of action would be to scry on former king Bres,” she said, barely above a whisper.
I nodded once. “I can do that, but I’d need an orb or mirror.”
Maziel crossed her arms over her chest. “We’ll see about that tomorrow.” The conversation fell into a lull and I used that to broach another topic.
“Where did your Beau go?”
She eyed me carefully. Her voice softened when she spoke. “Looking for the rest of his crew. He’ll be back.”
I grinned coyly. “He seems to make you … happy.”
A fleeting smile crossed Maziel’s lips. “Yes … he’s intriguing to me.”
I sighed. Well that’s a step in the right direction. We could work on words later. “Get some rest, Maziel, I’ll wake you in a few.” I watched the drow seat herself in a corner, close her eyes and trance. She was still smiling faintly.
The boar was wearing a red cap when we stepped outside, so it was safe to assume they were watching us. We carefully made our way to the temple of Hiatea, this time taking care to disguise our forms. Klo had a spell prepared that transformed us into tieflings and dwarves, but it was simple enough for me to change my own body with a bit of druidic magic.
When we arrived to the den of beasts the doors were sealed shut. I walked over and banged on them loudly. No answer.
“Lithia, open up!” I called.
After a moment I heard footsteps scuttle close, and a door creaked open. An older human face peaked back at me distrustfully. “What do you want, tiefling?”
Oh, yeah. I returned back to my half-elf form. “Taelim. Where’s Lithia?”
Recognition dawned on the human’s face. Her eyes darted around. “The keepers aren’t around,” she said quietly, “after yesterday’s ordeal … well the king’s guard came looking. I’m taking care of the beasts until they return.”
I frowned. “I was sort of hoping they might know where to find spell components.”
The human pointed a finger behind me. “The Place of Reflection, there’s mostly temples in that district. Be careful with you small folk over there.”
I cocked my head, reminded of something. “You’re the first human I’ve seen here.”
She smiled mildly. “We’re slaves here, taken as children. Former for me, but I’m bound here regardless.”
I felt my face flush; I didn’t take kindly to the thought. “We are you from?” I asked.
“You wouldn’t know the place, Taelim.”
She sighed, defeated. “Have you heard of Illium?”
I felt my stomach drop, and Brax pushed against my legs as I seemed to sway in place. “What’s your name?” I demanded.
The woman hesitated. Then, “Polly.”
“Polly … do you want to go home?”
The human woman laughed. It felt like someone had played that trick on her before. My expression never changed, and her laughter died away. “You’re serious?”
I picked up Brax and handed the baby trike to her. “Polly, watch Brax for me. I’ll be back for him and you. I promise to take you back home, but we have business in Mag Turea.”
After shaking off her initial shock, Polly took the baby dinosaur in her arms. Her features vied between disbelief and hope. “I’ll not despair if you don’t come.”
“Alrighty, but try to look excited when you see Illium again … well, it’s been through a rough time--nevermind. I’ll be back!”
I turned and jogged back to the group, leading the way with a grin.
We opted for the temple of Annam, the All-Father. A large fomorian monk was bickering with a fomorian woman in robes. The fomorian woman turned on her heels, a wrapped package in her hands, and swished past us. The monk then looked down at us, hands on his hips as he waited expectantly.
He introduced himself as Lugh, the caretaker of this temple.
“Hi …” I started uneasily, having been pushed forward from the group. “Um, well, I’ll cut right to the chase. We’re new here, obviously, and we’re searching for spell components for scrying … we’re lost ….”
Lugh chuckled, evidently not buying that. “Odd. You are not the first to ask this of me today. As for what you seek, Credene just walked out with it. She heads the temple of Diancastra--”
Shit. “Thanks for your time!” I whipped around and practically pushed the group out the exit, Lugh just chortled after us. We tried not to run toward Diancastra’s temple, we already drew weird glances from locals.
We stopped, panting at the doors of the temple. Admittedly, I wasn’t fond of the goddess who had repeatedly played tricks on me since I arrived in the Feydark. I was willing to give it another chance, until the doors were thrown open unceremoniously.
The fomorian priestess was standing there, finger pointed down at us. Half a dozen guards were at her side. “There they are, just as the scry showed. Arrest them!”
We didn’t bother to resist.