Hracken’s eyes were dangerously close to popping out of his skull. Toby’s fingers closed tighter around his neck. “I merely queried to see when you were planning on leaving!” Hracken gagged.
The nobleman feet swung wildly as they dangled off the floor, desperately trying to find something solid underneath them. The barbarian stared at the young noble through bloodshot eyes, and gave him an extra squeeze before he released his hold. Hracken landed on his feet and stumbled backward, tumbling over a chair and falling to the floor in a heap.
The patrons of the Waystop laughed long and hard.
Toby shrugged. “Thought you were trying to kick me out of here. Not finished my drink yet.”
Abelarde raised his glass. “Indeed, none of us are. I suspect that will be the case for quite some time, thanks to our newfound wealth.”
And wealth they had. A messenger from Lady Moonfire informed the Scions of Legacy that she had successfully sold all of the equipment they had requested, and secured a lucrative price. Tens of thousands of gold was set at the feet of the Scions, and after they events of the past few weeks, they decided to take one night to cut loose and enjoy themselves.
Hracken stood up and indignantly dusted himself off. “Councillor Saffrenia was pleased to hear that your fortunes had improved. She merely wanted to know your plans so she could schedule time to see you off.”
Lucan looked down from the stairway, observing the whole room. The Waystop was packed with adventurers, and as luck (for Abelarde anyway) would have it, most of them were familiar with the Scions. The celebrity treatment was in full effect, but that was a treatment Lucan was trying to avoid..
Toby finished off his dwarven ale and slammed his mug down on the table. “We are the Scions, little man. We leave when we want to leave, and not a moment before.”
“But if you had an idea?”
“I have an idea to pull you ears off.”
Hracken bowed nervously. “Enjoy your evening.”
Abelarde slapped the big man on the back. “Well played Toby. Now drink!” He raised his glass to Toby in a toast, then tilted his glass in Lucan’s direction. “Tonight we celebrate the Scions of Legacy! To us!”
“To you!” the Waystop shouted back.
Abelarde signalled for another round. The barmaid had been kept busy all night, but she never kept anyone waiting for their drink. She always delivered the beverage promptly, followed with a smile. So when she approached the table with neither drinks nor smile, Abelarde suspected something was wrong.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
The barmaid leaned forward. “Someone wishes to speak to you in the back. It’s quite urgent.”
“It’s always urgent,” Toby muttered to her cleavage.
“Who is it?” Abelarde asked.
Toby and Abelarde both stood up. “Best never to leave a woman waiting,” Abelarde announced. “Now we just need to round up Lucan.”
“I’m here,” Lucan said from behind the former bard.
Toby stared at the eladrin who had just appeared out of thin air. “It’s officially creepy how you do that,” he muttered.
The Scions followed the barmaid behind the bar, through the small kitchen, and she stopped in front of a door built into the side of a staircase. She opened the door for them but remained behind it. “The lady does not want to speak to me. She makes me a little uneasy.”
There were many different encounters that could have played out inside that room. One involving Salissta standing before them in a black robe, much like the one her brother wore, was low on the list. The fact that she appeared intangible dropped it even lower. “Scions,” she said, her voice barely an echo.
“What are you doing here?” Abelarde asked.
“How are you here?” Lucan asked.
“What are you?” Toby asked.
Her red locks shifted as she folded her arms within the sleeves of the robes. “My body is presently being tortured by Saffrenia’s henchmen,” she explained. “I projected myself out of my body while they do their business. A little trick I learned while being tortured for decades in Hell.”
Abelarde wasn’t pleased. “Why are you here? I don’t like seeing you wearing a bastardized version of one of our people.”
“I’m here because you need to stop Kalak. He hungers for more power, and now he knows how to get it.”
The masked eladrin drifted to her side. “Why should we care if he becomes more powerful?” asked Lucan. “He’s been fairly powerful all this time and hasn’t done anything evil, as far as we can tell.”
“Nobody thirsts to become a God if they don’t intend on doing god-like things.”
Toby didn’t like hearing that. “He can become that powerful?”
“If he reaches the Shadow Engine, he’ll be able to tap into the very energies of the Shadowfell itself.”
The barbarian was uncomfortable with the topic of gods, and magic, and not being able to gut anything right here and now. Lucan stepped away from the conversation. Abelarde addressed the ghostly apparition. “So where is this Shadow Engine?”
“There is an extradimensional pocket in the Shadowfell that contains a fortress. That is where the Shadow Engine lies.”
“And you know this because…”
“Because it was my fortress. It was where I fought my brother a few centuries ago and he banished me to Hell. I can guide you to the Fortress, but you need to free me.”
“I thought you were being tried.”
Her laughter sounded painful. “There is no trial. There was never going to be a trial. There is only the torture. And in three more days, I will be shipped off to Stormrage Prison, to rot for an eternity. You must free me before that happens.”
“You understand, of course, that we don’t believe you at all.”
Lucan stepped out of the shadows, dagger drawn, the tip pointed at Saffrenia’s eye. “How do we know you’re telling the truth?”
Salissta’s form swirled like draft through smoke. She image reformed in front of Lucan, and she grabbed his head with both of her hands. The eladrin doubled over, his knees buckled, and a look of unbridled agony bore into his face. He staggered away from her grasp and stabbed her in the throat, had she been more physically inclined. He composed himself. “She’s definitely being tortured,” he told the Scions while maintaining eye contract with the spectre. “But ghost or not, you try that again and I’ll end that suffering and give you something new and painful to think about.”
Salissta backed away from Lucan and lowered her head. “Apologies. I needed to make you see.”
Abelarde thought back to something Amaunator told him back when he walked amongst the departed. “Okay, we’ll help.”
Toby didn’t like hearing that. “She looks like Yelena with horns. I don’t like her.”
“You don’t have to like her Toby. And to be honest, I’m through with being used and deceived. But she makes a valid point, and for the time being we need her. Once that time passes, well we’ll see where we stand.”
Saffrenia gave Abelarde an understanding nod. “I have no idea what that kind of power would do to my brother, no matter how noble you thought of him in the past. I just think it’d be safer if we never had to find out.”
“Do you know where you are?” asked Lucan.
“I didn’t see where they took me.”
Abelarde gave the matter some thought. “Lucan? You know the landscape. You know the players. Perhaps you should make some subtle inquiries and find out where Salissta is being held.”
“On it.” Lucan disappeared.
Saffrenia turned her head and caught Toby staring death daggers at her. “I don’t like looking at you,” he said.
The smoke changed form. The horns disappeared, the features softened, and Yelena materialized before them. “Is this better?”
Toby’s hand rested on his axe. “No. Leave or I’ll kill you when we find you.”
The smoke swirled again and dissipated. Abelarde looked over at the barbarian who seemed to want to kill the air around them. “You sure have a way with the ladies, Toby,” he said.
Toby’s nostrils stopped flaring. “I have a way with that one, and it involves splitting her in half.”