Campaign of the Month: December 2007

Cold Blood

Interlude: Assassin's Choice

In Which Jazra Looks for Xillian.

by Darth Krzysztof

Xillian’s going to assassinate Jhalefein.

Jazra could think of nothing else as she worked her way down the narrow alley to Alehouse Row and the Hooded Lantern. That was where the drow warlock Jhalefein had hired Tulio, and where Hexla’s friends had seen him.

If Jhalefein was still in the Lantern, then Xillian surely would have found him by now. If he wasn’t, though, where would she look next? Even someone as distinctive as a drow could find a thousand places to hide in the Cage…

The drow. How little she understood them! Xillian and Jhalefein hailed from a Prime anthill called Erelhei-Cinlu. Jhalefein’s clan, House Eilservs, lost the civil war there; Xillian’s family, House Tormtor, drove the few survivors into exile.

Xillian failed to capture Tulio for his masters – thanks to Tulio’s friends – and Jazra had believed that he’d chosen to forsake his House and live in exile with her.

Why, then, had he asked Tulio about Jhalefein? Was he planning to murder the warlock in some bid to regain favor with his House? And why hadn’t Xillian told her what he was up to? True, it seemed like he’d barely said ten words to her in the week they’d been together… they were together, weren’t they? It was so confusing. Whatever existed between them, Jazra had never felt anything like it before…

But now she’d arrived, and there was no time to think about such things. Offering a half-felt prayer to any power that might be listening, she went into the Hooded Lantern.

Jazra hated the Hooded Lantern. As an Anarchist, she was accustomed to meeting hooded strangers in darkened alehouses – but everyone here was under a hood or a hat. Darkvision was a common trait in the Cage, after all.

She felt the eyes of the dwarven barmaid on her at once. Thyra Rivenshield was her name; Jazra wondered if the barmaid remembered the shouting match they’d ended up in last time the tout had set foot in this dive.

“Lookin’ fer someone?” Thyra asked without looking Jazra in the eye.

Good, Jazra thought. Don’t pay any attention. “A dark elf. Quiet fellow with violet eyes.”

The dwarf jerked a thumb over her shoulder, pointing out a shadowy corner. Jazra saw Xillian there, but who was he talking to? He faced away from her…

Now Thyra was staring at her. “I could do with some firewine,” Jazra announced as she headed for the corner. The barmaid went about her business, hopefully put at ease.

Xillian looked surprised when he saw Jazra coming. Good, she thought again. Serves him right for not tellin’ me what he’s up to…

He had time to say her name before she grabbed him by the tunic. “Whaddaya think yer doin’?” she hissed. “You think you can just go back to writin’ berks into the dead-book without even tellin’ me first?”

“What are you talking about?” Xillian spoke calmly, as always, as if nothing could possibly be amiss.

“Yer not killin’ Jhalefein.”

“No, he’s not,” whispered the other man at the table. Jazra turned to look at him and saw another drow, horribly scarred across his head and throat.

“Jazra,” said Xillian, pointing to the other dark elf, “this is Jhalefein.”

“Enchanted,” whispered Jhalefein. Jazra let go of Xillian’s shirt, allowing Jhalefein to take her hand in his own. His fingernails were longer than hers.

“What’s goin’ on here, then?”

“Sit down,” Xillian said, “and I’ll tell you.”

Jazra sat next to Xillian, not feeling as close to him as she should. The arrival of her mug of firewine relieved her. It was terrible stuff, but she needed it all the same. Once sure the tiefling was settled, Xillian began.

“When I first heard that Jhalefein here was in Sigil, I did consider assassinating him. It might have brought me back into House Tormtor’s good graces… More than that, though, it’s what I was taught to do. It’s who they made me.”

Jazra searched Xillian’s eyes, then said “I could never forgive you if you did that.”

“That’s why I didn’t. I realized that if I’m to become someone else, I needed to look into this man’s eyes, and see a man, not an enemy.”

Jhalefein drank from his glass, whispering “He’s lucky I’ve come to a similar point in my life.” Maybe he can’t speak any louder, Jazra thought. I don’t think I care to hear the story those scars on his neck would tell…

“Then… everything’s fine?”

“Yes.” Xillian’s hand closed over hers, and her tension eased. “I’m free, Jazra. I’m free.”

“Good thing, too,” hissed Jhalefein. “I’ve seen the future. House Eilservs will rule the Vault again someday… but they’ll do so without me.”

Jazra couldn’t hide her confusion; luckily, Xillian saw it, and Jhalefein didn’t. The assassin sketched a quick and polite goodbye, then ushered Jazra out of the alehouse before she realized what was going on.

- – - – -

“The problem,” the drow said when the Hooded Lantern was well out of sight, “is that I don’t know what to do with myself now.”

“Well, I’d rather ya not run around murderin’ for a livin’.”

“Then I won’t.”

Jazra had been thinking about this. She said “But you’re good at lyin’, sneakin’, pullin’ down the chant.”

“Yes.” Not an opinion, but a fact. “Do you have something in mind, Jazra?”

She nodded, leaned close to his ear, and whispered, “Let me tell you about the Revolutionary League.”



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