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Chapter Seven

Tianna's charm of longstepping proved to be as potent as she had claimed.

Once he activated the charm, Vheod was transported-not instantaneously, but with incredible speed-across the barren landscape. As he watched, trees, rivers, hills, mountains, and even miles of open space passed before his eyes so quickly he could scarcely recognize them as anything but colored blurs. Rather than feeling the wind whip across his body, Vheod felt instead that he stretched his body the entire distance, as though, just for a moment, he existed in his starting and ending points at the same time, as well as all the points in between.

The sensation ended, and Vheod dizzily lurched to keep his feet under him. Disoriented and reeling, he could tell that a city lay in the distance. Regaining his balance, his vision clearing, Vheod saw that the city was surrounded by a high wall, with a few buildings outside. Most of the outbuildings looked like animal pens or barns-perhaps a stockyard or something similar.

The process of traveling so quickly made it very difficult for him to get his bearings. It was as though a part of his mind was left behind when he activated the magical charm and still believed that he remained, or at least he should have remained, back where he started. The disorientation made even walking difficult at first, but he adapted and accommodated eventually.

This must be Tilverton, Vheod reasoned. Or at least he hoped it was. After taking a breath or two to recover and alleviate the pain in his aching head, he walked toward the wall and what appeared to be an open gate.

Tilverton bustled noisily. Herders brought their flocks in for market, and farmers hauled produce through the gate on carts and wagons. People moved into and out of the city watched only casually by guards. Vheod wondered if he, too, would be allowed entrance to the city, or if the guards would stop him for the same reasons the villagers had driven him out of their community only hours before.

Vheod ran his hands through his long hair, smoothing his red tresses and pulling them behind his head. He dusted off his dark brown pants and tattered violet cape. His long sword clattered in its sheath against his leg. He stopped suddenly. Something made him think of the Taint. He looked quickly but carefully over his exposed skin for it. It was nowhere he could find. That meant it had either moved to a spot under his clothing or armor, or it was somewhere he couldn't see it, like his face.

The thought that other people might be able to see the Taint while he couldn't gave Vheod great concern. Who knew what shape it might take without his knowledge? Not more than a hundred yards away from the city gate, he drew forth his sword. Taking his cloak with his other hand, he tried to polish a bit of the sword's blade as best he could hoping to shine it to a reflective sheen. His efforts were partially successful, and he gazed into the spot, angling the blade back and forth to look at different parts of his face and neck. Though it was far from a thorough search, he saw no trace of the tattoo anywhere on his face. With a sigh, he sheathed his sword and continued on to the gate.

Vheod passed through without the guards so much as raising an eyebrow. No one in the street paid him any particular attention, in fact.

From at least one point of view, a city is just a city, no matter where in this or any other world it might sit. It seemed to Vheod that only one city actually existed, and all the others were merely extensions of this metaphysical, ubiquitous city. Vheod looked about Tilverton and realized that at its heart it differed only slightly from any of the other cities he'd ever wandered through.

Vheod had spent most of his time in the Abyss in cities made of dark bricks and bone. He resided longest in Broken Reach, a vast catacomb of intrigue and betrayal ruled by a succubus named Red Shroud. There he worked for a guild of assassins called the Bloody Dagger. Those of the Dagger killed for money, usually hired by some minor tanar'ri noble to kill an opponent or a superior. Even in the lawless, amoral plane of the Abyss, however, Vheod had occasionally thought his profession was less than ethical. Normally he'd been able to push such thoughts from his conscience, glad to see each and every fiendish victim die by his hand. The teeming streets of Tilverton, and his almost instinctual ability to blend into the crowd and avoid the eyes of those who passed by him, brought back those thoughts. The city-the ubiquitous city-was a symbol of shame to him now. Vheod entered the town from the north and wandered through the streets of Tilverton for quite some time. A melancholy washed over him, and he walked through the streets in a fog. Shaking his head, he brought himself back to the task at hand. He found Tilverton now he needed to find someone whom Gyrison and Arach had described as being like him. Vheod needed information.

A city, as an entity, thrives with a life of its own, serving the needs of those who live in it, yet feeding off them as they move through its streets. A city always contained major arteries and paths through which its life flowed, but also held darker, less-frequented areas where few inhabitants and fewer outsiders visited. A city always held some sort of authority or organization, even if it hid its presence very well in the cacophony and mayhem that teemed within its walls-such was often the way of Abyssal cities. Even in the Abyss, however, cities held gathering places, like taverns, alehouses, or festhalls. Even in the Abyss, when one sought information, it was just such a gathering place that offered the best chance to obtain what one needed.

Using an urban instinct fostered by a life on the streets, Vheod looked for an appropriate tavern. In the Abyss, a wise cambion clung to back alleyways and the streets less frequented-better to keep hidden, to avoid drawing attention. These places provided peace from the bustle and din that always came to the life flow areas of the city.

In one such forgotten, forsaken corner, wandering down a street that might not even have a name, he came on a door. The door lay under a sign that rocked back and forth on the breeze on rusty iron rings suspended from a pole. The sign read only, "Hhrink-"

Vheod pushed the old, warped wooden door open and stepped into the smoky room. Three high-placed windows provided a little light, though a few oil lamps burned on tables. The place smelled of ale and humanity, both stale. Three or four patrons drank quietly, all of them alone. He stood in the doorway, looking at each individual and all the establishment held..

He must have remained there too long, for finally a man sitting up against the wooden bar turned to him and said with a hoarse voice, The Flagon Held High is on the other side of town," as if that would mean something to Vheod. The speaker was short, with stout arms and legs, a thick brown beard, and a round face.

Vheod ignored his words, but approached. Still watching the rest of the room, he peered into the man's tight eyes, which reminded Vheod of nail heads. "Have you seen anyone like me around here?"

"My friend," the roan said with a narrow, sidelong gaze and an ever-so-slight slur, We never seen anyone like you in my life. What's wrong with you?"

Vheod studied him silently, then said. There is nothing wrong with me, 'friend.' Begone." Vheod dismissed the man with a gesture and stepped up to the stained wooden bar.

"Same to you, beautiful," the man muttered, walking away.

"Watch out," a woman said, carrying a tray of empty flagons and almost bumping into Vheod. She smiled without really looking at him and moved to the bar.

"Excuse me," Vheod said, following her. She was stout and short, with her mahogany hair pulled back into a round knob, though hours of work had coaxed some rogue strands down to lie by the sides of her face.

"Yes?" She turned. "You need something to drink?" Her face was careworn, Vheod thought, but her eyes were friendly.

"Ah, no." Vheod shook his head. "What Id like is for you to tell me something. It might seem odd, but, well-Im new around here."

"What do you need to know?" The woman set down her tray and nodded toward him.

Vheod chewed his lip a moment. "I need to know what you see when you look at me." "What?"

"What do I look like to you? Do I look like everyone else?" Vheod stroked his rough jaw. He glanced down to see the Taint once again on the back of his right hand. He covered it quickly with his left. His eyes darted.

"No," she said, raising her brow thoughtfully, "not like everyone else. That's for sure."

What did that mean? "Have you ever seen anyone like me before?"

She moved her mouth to one side, as if considering what to say. "Are you a half-elf?"

"Half-elf?" Then people are familiar with half-blooded humans here, he thought.

"Yes, you know," she asked, "was only one of your parents human?"

"As a matter of fact, yes."

"He ain't pretty enough to be a half-elf," the man with the thick beard said from behind them. Vheod turned back to him and scowled.

"I thought I told you to leave," Vheod clipped. "Don't listen to him," the woman said to Vheod. "He's a drunk."

"More like half-orc," the bearded man continued, pointing a thick finger at Vheod.

"Do not make me speak to you again," Vheod hissed at him through clenched teeth, then turned back to the serving woman. She was already moving the empty flagons from her tray into a water-filled barrel surgeoning with other dirty dishes floating amid fading soap bubbles.

A tall man with gray hair moved up from behind the bar. Though he'd just come into the room through the door behind the bar, he joined in the conversation as though he'd been there all the time.

Looking at Vheod for a moment, he said, "Nah. The only half-orc I've ever seen 'round here is Orrag, and he don't have no pointed ears like this here fella."

"Hush now, Ponter," the woman said to him with a slight push of her hand against his shoulder. "Orrag? Who is Orrag?" Vheod asked. Orcs, Vheod knew, were an evil and bestial race that populated many prime worlds as well as other planes. Half-orcs? A human-orc crossbreed might not be all that dissimilar to a cambion, from a certain point of view. Is that who Gyrison and Arach meant?

"Believe me, you don't want to know," the woman said.

"But I do," Vheod replied.

"Orrag'd put a knife in your ribs, fella," the tall barman said with a nod of his head.

"Ponter, hush." The woman finished emptying her tray and used it to lightly shove the tall man.

"Look, I need to know more about this half-orc. I wish to meet him. I may have business with him." "Business with Orrag?" the bearded man said quietly, into his flagon. "I knew I didn't like you."

Before Vheod could respond, the tall man, Ponter, reached across the bar and placed his hand on Vheod's arm. Leaning in close, he whispered, "Listen, if you really want to meet up with Orrag, stay right where you are. He usually conies into the place on mid-tenday nights-he steers clear of The Flagon Held High and other more visible places. My place ain't on any maps, if you see what I mean."

"I think perhaps I do." Vheod replied quietly. "I thank you, sir. I will remain."

"Why don't you have something to drink in the meanwhile?" Ponter asked him in his normal, loud voice, straightening up and away from Vheod.

"Good enough," Vheod replied, digging into a pouch and wondering what they used for money here.

Vheod fortunately had a few coins in his pouch that he could convince Ponter to accept, though none of them were minted on this world. The day in the tavern stretched on for what seemed like many. By the time the darkness of night consumed what little light managed to seep in through the small windows, Vheod had drunk his fill. More than once he wished that the establishment served food. The annoying short man left finally, and Vheod claimed a tottering, ale-suck table near one wall.

With the advent of darkness, the tavern attracted more activity, but the patrons general kept quiet and to themselves, content simply to drink. Vheod found it difficult to believe the inhabitants of a beautiful world like this, untainted by real evil, might spend their evenings in this vapid locale. Boredom began clawing at him, and he soon found himself growing drowsy. He leaned back in his chair against the stone wall, telling himself he would close his eyes just for a moment-

"You got business with me?"

Vheod snapped his eyes open. A large, wide-shouldered man with a fleshy face and a stomach that hung liberally over his belt stood over Vheod. His breath stank, and his narrow eyes hid little of the malice that lay within them. His porcine face and jowls, along with his pointed, yellow teeth made him the least appealing creature Vheod had seen since his encounter with the hairy spider-beasts in the woods.

When Vheod didn't reply immediately, the man spoke again. Im pretty sure I don't know you, do I? I think I'd remember you."

"Are you Orrag?" Vheod asked him, pushing himself away from the wall and righting his chair.

"Maybe. Depends on who's asking." He took a long draught from his flagon.

"I see," Vheod said. "I understand. My name is Vheod, and I was instructed to speak with you."

"You been talking to Ferd?" Orrag said, ale running down his flabby chin and running into one of the folds of flesh in his neck.

"Ah, no, not that I'm aware of, in any event." Orrag pulled another chair away from the table and thrust his bulk into it with such force that Vheod almost expected it would break. "Something about you interests me," Orrag said, with a hint of a crooked smile. "What is it?"

Vheod had seen smiles on fiends that seemed more pleasant. Still, this creature might have some information, and he'd certainly dealt with fouler beasts in the past. He would have to choose his words carefully, however. He suspected that Orrag was sharper than he appeared.

Again annoyed at Vheod's unresponsiveness, Orrag asked, "What's your story, Vheod?"

"It's a long one," Vheod retorted, "but perhaps some of it might be of interest to you."

"I doubt it," Orrag lied, "but I must admit there's something intriguing about you. You're not from around here, are you?" Before Vheod could answer, the half-orc continued. "I'll tell you what. Let's make this interesting. You tell me a tale, and if I find it interesting, Ill listen to whatever business you're supposed to have with me. Sound fair?"

Vheod had expected Orrag to be less than reputable from Ponter's brief comments earlier that day. His disgusting appearance and mannerisms were almost unnoticeable to someone who had spent his entire life among the fiends of the Lower Planes. However, something about Orrag puzzled him. The half-orc's manner suggested an unspoken agenda- almost as if he recognized who Vheod was, or what he was.

"Perhaps I can come up with something that might pique your curiosity," Vheod said slowly. "I can tell you of the place from which I hail. My homeland holds many tales, let me tell you."

Orrag simply nodded and took a small, noisy sip from his flagon.

Vheod cleared his throat and began his tale. "Many centuries ago, so I was told, the Abyssal Lord Demogorgon commissioned a ship to be built." "A ship?" Orrag asked. Vheod scowled. "Yes."

Orrag said nothing, but sipped his drink once again.

"This ship wasn't just a normal craft, meant to sail the seas. No, wnind and oarsmen were not to propel this craft. This was a ship that would sail the River Styx itself. On the Styx, a craft can travel between any of the Lower Planes-the Abyss, Gehenna, Pandemonium, even Baator. Furthermore, this ship would ply the waters between all the planes and travel to any world that its captain might choose to visit. Its enchanted rudder would direct the ship on a sorcerous journey anywhere in the multiverse."

Orrag raised his brow and took another sip, his eyes never leaving Vheod.

"A tanar'ri shipwright by the name of Reyniss had garnered a reputation among important circles deep within the Abyss. His skills were well known." Vheod paused for a moment, considering his words. "There are more malignant seas and fetid rivers flowing through the Abyss than you might think."

Orrag continued to stare silently.

"Demogorgon contacted Reyniss," Vheod continued, "by means of a mephit, a tiny, dark servitor of the Lower Planar lords. It flitted through the brooding caverns and dismal swamps of the Abyss to bring him this message: I, Demogorgon, Tanar'ri Prince and Lord of All that Swims in Darkness, wish to commission you to undertake your greatest achievement,' it said. 'Come to me, and I will tell you of the glories and riches that will be yours should you craft the ship that I desire.'

"Reyniss knew better than to trust Demogorgon for even the greatest of fiends can know treachery at the hands of an Abyssal Lord. Thus the shipwright gathered together all of the sorcerous protections he could muster and filled his own dark lair with defenses and traps to ward away intruders. Cautiously, he made his way to Ungorth Reddik, Demogorgons fortress.

"Ungorth Reddik rose from a grotesque bog deep in the Abyss. Swarming about it were Demogorgon's fiendish servants and all sorts of scaly monstrosities that worshiped him. Reyniss ignored them, and entered the fortress through gargoyle-protected gates.

"Demogorgon greeted the shipwright with caliginous smiles across both his houndlike faces. Within dark Ungorth Reddik, the two fiends forged their agreement. Reyniss agreed to build the ship that would sail the Styx and throughout the planes of existence. Demogorgon agreed to pay him in. gold, jewels and the lorn currency common to the Lower Planes."

Vheod paused to see if Orrag understood his reference. The fat man widened his bulging eyes ever so slightly and shook his face just enough to make his jowls wobble.

"Souls, my friend. The spirits of evil mortals. On the dire planes, these souls are traded among the powerful fiends the way mortals might exchange a gem or a trinket." Vheod wondered if these statements would have any effect on Orrag. Did the man worry about his own eternal fate? Orrag, however, showed no sign that Vheod's words had any meaning for him. Vheod wasn't surprised. He smiled inwardly. The fate of evil souls wasn't something he relished dwelling on himself. Vheod had no idea if he truly had a mortal soul, and if so, what fate awaited it. Was damnation a foregone conclusion for a cambion? Was he already so damned? Was he, because of the tanar'ri blood in his veins, not a true mortal at all? He didn't know, and most of the time, he kept himself too busy to contemplate it. Purpose.

Of course, it might be that Orrag was too dim to understand the implications of this portion of the tale, but Vheod perceived a good deal of cunning- quite likely malicious cunning-in Orrag's dark, small, bulging eyes. Orrag wasn't stupid. In any event, the half-orc grew visibly anxious for the tale to continue. Vheod obliged.

"So Reyniss returned to his own lair near the strange, arcane shipyards in which he plied his craft. Utilizing more sorcery than mundane labor, Reyniss began building the ship, which he'd already in his designs named Demonwing. He employed tanar'ri of all types to help in the construction of the huge craft to hold the correct enchantments, Reyniss's plans tailed for the ship's hull to be made of stone rather than wood. This strange stone would still allow the ship to float on the waves, but it would also withstand she journey between the planes.

"Sails of flesh and a rudder of bone completed the grisly, fiendish Demonwing. When construction was complete, Reyniss sent a mephit to relate the news to Demogorgon. When the demon prince heard the news, he appeared almost immediately in the shipyards, standing before Reyniss's creation. The fiendish prince was well pleased. Reyniss felt sure that his reward would put him in a position to advance in the tanar'ri ranks, making him a ruler over many lesser fiends.

"Demogorgon instead made Reyniss a further offer. He told the shipwright he would grant him twice the agreed-upon payment. Reyniss eyed the monstrous Demogorgon, with his two heads, tall, narrow reptilian body, and tentacles rather than arms, with suspicion as I'm sure you can understand."

Vheod paused and looked at Orrag, who said nothing. "Reyniss," he continued, "heart full of suspicion, asked Demogorgon what he would need to do to gain this double reward.

Think of it as a wager,' Demogorgon said with a voice like wet velvet.

'What sort of wager, oh prince?' Reyniss asked. " 'Just this,' Demogorgon replied. 'If you can use this ship to travel to the plane of ultimate chaos, Limbo, and back again in less than three days' time, I shall grant you the increased reward.' " 'And if I cannot?' Reyniss asked. Then you get nothing, and I get the ship.' "Now Reyniss knew full well that he could get the ship to the chaotic morass of Limbo and back in three days. The question was, did Demogorgon have some trick or treachery here? Did the fiendish prince plan on sending minions out to attack Reyniss as he sailed to stop him on his journey? Why would Demogorgon risk damaging or destroying the ship in that way? Surely he wouldn't do such a thing.

"Perhaps, Reyniss thought to himself, Demogorgon merely wanted Reyniss to show him he was actually getting all hed asked for.

"So Reyniss agreed. He gathered together a crew of tanar'ri and they left immediately. Reyniss set sail for Limbo, steering the craft along the River Styx and through the howling caverns of Pandemonium. He made his way across the Sea of Madness and through the Straits of Insanity, plunging headlong in the miasma of churning matter and energy in the plane of Limbo. Gathering some of the chaos-stuff that fills that plane as proof, he turned the craft around and sailed back toward the Abyss.

"Nothing attacked Demonwing. Demogorgon played no tricks and cast no betrayals. Reyniss arrived back in his own shipyards sooner than even he thought possible. His toothy tanar'ri smile was almost as broad as his pride-filled chest.

"When Reyniss disembarked, Prince Demogorgon waited for him, stony-faced. Reyniss expected his reward would come to him at any moment, and he leered at the Abyssal Lord in anticipation and greed.*You took me up on my wager,' Demogorgon said. 'Did you not expect treachery?'

"Reyniss, his mind still filled with the thoughts of his riches, replied, 'Oh, I thought about it, but then I realized you would never endanger the ship you wanted so badly just to get out of your obligation. And I was right!'

"Demogorgon spoke, his voice like iron against tone, You were wrong. Oh, I took no action against your journey-that is true enough-but the fact that you believed I might not shows your utter stupidity. I lad thought to make you my personal lieutenant and chief builder, but anyone who so completely fails to romprehend the ways of the Abyss shouldn't be suffered to live. Of course I would have endangered the ship if I thought it might keep me from paying. However, when you accepted the wager, I knew I didn't have to.' And with that, Demogorgon strangled the fiendish life out of Reyniss with his own tendrils of rotting death."

Orrag remained silent for a moment. Vheod watched him closely, waiting for a reaction.

A smile came to the half-orc's dark lips like a snake rearing up from its coils. "An excellent tale, my friend. Demogorgon! The Abyss! A magical ship!" Orrag exclaimed. "Excellent." He downed the rest of his drink in a single gulp.

"Well then," Vheod said slowly, "I believe you agreed to listen to what I had to say."

"Yes, my friend," Orrag said, yellow teeth showing. "What is this all about?"

"First, I must ask a little more about you, Orrag. What is it that you do? I must know if you are the right man to whom to pose my questions."

Orrag's face showed an evil pride. He leaned back away from the table and looked around the tavern. The patrons were still few in number, and no one paid them any attention. He swooped in close, leaning across the table.

"Well," he began, "here in Tilverton, we have a group called the Rogues. They operate out of the ancient sewer system and take what they want from locals or travelers."

"Thieves." Vheod stated. "A guild," said Orrag. Vheod knew a little something about guilds. His thoughts raced back to his days among the Bloody Daggers.

"I, on the other hand," Orrag continued, "run a small group of businessmen who live by their wits and procure what they require-while keeping out of the reach of the Rogues."

Vheod was hardly surprised. Orrag ran a gang of thieves that even the other local thieves didn't care for. How could Orrag help him? Why had Gyrison and Arach sent him here?

"So, Vheod, what am I supposed to do for you?" "Tm looking for someone," Vheod said quietly. "Two people, actually."

"Why should I know anything about that?" "Call it a hunch," Vheod said, standing. "Wait here." Vheod walked to the bar and asked for another ale. While the serving woman poured his drink into a wooden flagon, he asked her quietly, "Tell me what you can about Orrag." He added a moment later an unfamiliar, "Please."

"A thief and a murderer," she said quietly, looking over Vheod's shoulder at the half-orc. "What else is there to know?"

"I see," Vheod said. Those things he'd already guessed. "What I mean is, is there anything else he's known for?" "Anything else?" she replied, shaking her head. "Not that I know of. Isn't that enough?"

"I'm not sure," Vheod said, laying down a few coins he received as change from his previous purchase. Something about Orrag bothered him. The half-orc was more than just a thief. He took the ale back to the table and set it down in front of Orrag.

"So who are you looking for?" Orrag asked with a furrowed brow narrowing his eyes.

"Like I said: two people, a man and woman-they look similar enough to be related, probably siblings." Orrag grunted and worked his jaw. "And do I know them or something?"

Vheod ran his fingers through his long, snarled lair. "I think, somehow, you might." "Why?"

"Would you be someone people might come to, looking for information?"

"What sort of information?" Orrag grasped the flagon, but didn't drink.

The location of something, perhaps outside of own."

Orrag's silence worried Vheod. The cambion considered a few spells that might be appropriate should as questions provoke an attack from Orrag. Vheod had seen better attempts at deception-he was, after all, from the Abyss. He didn't have time to play Orrag's little games. He just needed the information. Finally the half-orc spoke, obviously choosing his words carefully. "I have a contact or two in the wilderness among those who dwell in caves rather than cities."

"I think I understand," Vheod said. "So has anyone come to you recently? A brother and sister, perhaps?" "As a matter of fact, yes, storyteller," Orrag stated with a strange smile.

Vheod grasped at Orrag's words like a falling man to a ledge. "And what did you tell them? Where did they go?"

"So, you're interested too?" Orrag's smile broadened. "This is starting to make sense."

"What? Do you need payment?" Vheod's words were quick and harsh.

"Oh, not from you. I like you. I think I understand you."

Before Vheod could speak, Orrag continued. "I sent them to find the Crypt of Chare'en. Do you know about the crypt?" "Crypt?"

Crypt? Chare'en was dead? Of course not. "Yes," Orrag said, with a serpentine smile widening his fat cheeks. "These two youngsters came to me looking for directions to the crypt of the ancient wizard Chare'en." Orrag seemed to watch Vheod very closely as he spoke the last words. "So what did you tell them?"

"I told you, I've got some contacts up in the mountains. I knew where they needed to go. I sent them on their way."

"That was very kind of you," Vheod said, still careful.

"They were sent to me by my friend, Ferd," Orrag told him with an exhalation that Vheod thought was supposed to be a laugh. Vheod said nothing.

"Ferd sent them to me so that I could, ah, procure some of their wealth," Orrag said with a smile and a wave of his hand. "But?"

"But as it turns out, they sought information I had and they were willing to pay very well for it." He tool a draught from the flagon

Vheod let him wipe away the ale from his mouth before speaking again. "But if you were going to them anyway, why did you care to give them the location?"

Orrag stared, caught in the obvious lie. "Call it a change of heart," he said after a moment Vheod didn't have time to figure out Orrag's real motivations.

"Then you'll tell me how to get there as well?"

"Certainly," Orrag said. He repeated the same instructions he'd given to Whitlock and Melann the previous night.

Vheod listened carefully, committing the directions and each landmark to memory. He would need to get a horse. This time he would pay for it.

"Here's a warning as well, storyteller," Orrag added at the end. "There's a dangerous sorceress out near there called the Ravenwitch. Be careful you don't run afoul of her."

"I'm not worried. I don't have time to be worried," Vheod said as he stood.

Orrag smirked but then asked, "So why are you so interested? Are you really after those two, or is it what they're looking for you're concerned with?"

Vheod already started toward the door. He turned back to say, "If I find them quickly enough, I won't need to worry about what they're looking for."

A worried look crossed Orrag's face, which in turn worried Vheod. Neither spoke. Vheod's hand flexed, ready to go to his sword hilt. Orrag's hand slid under the table.

Another moment passed.

Finally, determined, Vheod turned and went for the door and exited into the dark, ill-used street.

Chapter Six | The Glass Prison | Chapter Eight