Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Its early morning, still dark and the searchers are straggling in, hope wearing thin, that Tori will return on her own. As each group comes in they join the others, seated around a large table, discussing what to do next. The atmosphere is heavy as lead, the families' grief palpable, and Tannrs anger at waiting to start doing something was getting the best of him.

Inari looks to Ky'thri who has just joined the group. “I sent for Drai. You and he are the best trackers I know, in this or any realm. Star says Tori left with someone from the front of the Tavern. Ghaunt can tell you where the entrance is, I need that information verified before sending a rescue party..”

Ky nods and turns to leave. Raina grabs her stopping her for a moment, “Shouldnt you wait for your brother?”

Shaking her red curls, Ky then grasps Rainas shoulders and says in almost a whisper. “He knows whats up if Inari sent for him and he can meet me on the way. There is no time to waste if the Drow have her.”

Raina nods and Ky heads out the back door.

Inari stands slowly, her eyes taking in the group gathered around the tables. “I dont have a definite plan, but I do need to say a few basic things before we start. I know this has to be short as many of you are day sleepers. We can start with formal planning this evening, when I expect that Ky and Drai will return. First, under no circumstances can we do anything so rash as to cause war. The other Realms have an uneasy truce with the Drow and we need to keep things that way. There will be no help coming from either the Bright Court or the Dark. Both have other interests at the outer borders at this time. Whatever we have to do has to be accomplished quickly and as stealthily as possible.

“Second, and some of you arent going to like this...” Her gaze lands on Stoney. “None of the gars can enter Underdark, not under any circumstances...”

Stoney starts to stand but Alise gently tugs on his arm, “Let her finish... she would have good reason...”

Ob's eyes flash but he says nothing and Ike is close to tears.

Inari continues, “For some reason this priestess thinks taking a gargoyle is a great accomplishment. She singled Tori out, and took her. Any of you would be a target, and any Drow seeking favor would try. And they all seek favor. Their court is more ruthless than any.... You have families... and are pretty hard to miss... it cannot be risked. But we will need you, no doubt about that...”

“I can get in and out of Underdark undetected. As can the ones of you that are smaller and Fae. A Drow priestess would see right through extensive glamour and we cant risk that. We can hide one...” her gaze lands on Tannr, “maybe two humans or others, thats it.”

As Star listens to Inari describing the Drow an idea starts to take shape in her mind. She runs her fingers through her silver blond tresses and her eyes switch to yellow with curiosity.

Erik watches her and guesses at her thoughts. He leans towards her and says “No! Whatever is going on in that pretty little head, just forget it...”

Ignoring him, Star looks to Rowan. 'Is it possible to dye skin?”

“Well, yes. Do you mean like a sunless tanning lotion?”

Erik stands and repeats “NO!

Continuing to ignore her husband, Star says, “Sort of. Can you make skin dark grey, like the Drow? Maybe with blueberries and ash? That would be about the right shade, I think.”

Rowan nods, “It would be...”

Goddamn it, I said NO!” Erik slams his fist down on the table. There is no way you can do this or that I am letting you do it. If I have to tie you to that chair..”

Star gasps, “You would not dare....”

“You are NOT going... thats final...”

“I am going... and we arent arguing about this...”

Taking a deep breath Erik tries to calm his anger and his voice, aware that the entire group is watching. “Star. Listen to me Princess. You cant go. If something were to happen to you... I cant even think about it... and the children. The children need you... You cant just up and run off to Underdark...”

Stars expression remains set and stubborn. “I am going. Laila can take the kids to the Manse with Alise and her kids. They will be safe there and not a target. I have to do this, I have to. There arent many of us that can pass as Drow. I will be fine... I know it...”

A small noise from Ghaunt takes the attention away from the argument. “She could pass as Drow, if she pretends to be mute. I can say she is my sister or better yet my 'companion'. I am permitted to have a woman under the laws for servants to the priestess'.

A strangled breath is all the sound that Erik can make as he slams the chair in and starts to pace, muttering under his breath.

Tannr looks up, his face filled with rage and hatred, “As if thats supposed to make us feel better? Passing my sister in law off as your whore? And just how far do you plan to take this pretense?”

The suggestion infuriates Star who stands slowly, her eyes flashing between orange and black. “You have no right to suggest such a thing. I would do this for you... and Tori... because I love you both....”

Raina stands, her intention to knock Tannr on his ass, but Tannr stands and goes to his knees in front of Star. “Sister...” his voice chokes and he struggles for control. “I apologize and do not mean to lessen your offer. Its just that... I can not bear to lose any more or for my brother to feel as I do now if something were to happen to you...Please forgive me..”

Tears slipping down her face, Star leans down and wraps her arms around Tannrs neck. “I understand. Theres nothing to forgive. Nothing is going to happen to me. I know it wont. Let me help. Tori would do the same for me..”

Tannr nods and stands and Erik rejoins the group at the table. Just as everyone is about to let go a sigh of relief, Tannr pulls his sword and holds it to Ghaunts throat.

“If anything, and I mean anything happens to her, your head is mine.”

Ghaunt nods slowly and Tannr sheaths his sword and sits. “Where were we?”

Inari nods and the beginnings of a plan start to take shape. “Keon... there must be a waterway into Underdark. Does Mer Cronigh know of it, or the mermaids?”

“Aye, there might be. I will find out.”

Inari continues, “If Keon can get in that way, he is slim enough and dark enough not to attract any attention. Star will be close with Ghaunt and I can go where I will undetected. As soon as Ky and Drai verify the entrance we can have guards positioned there. And we need messengers on the ready. Ghaunt? Any ideas? You should return before you are missed.”

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