Rise of the Thrall Lord
Gnogen - The Dwarf - Part 2
“How did they know we were coming?” Faverish muttered to himself as he approached the gate to Droweshatlecan, the underground stronghold of the dark elves. He absently waved his symbol of admittance with the appropriate gestures to the guard. “Rock to mud is nearly silent. We whispered the incantations. We knew exactly where they were. We should have had the drop on them. What tipped them off?”
The streets of Droweshatlecan were busy, as usual. Without any night and day, the clock meant very little. Shops were always open, or closed when the owners were tired or had something else to do. Urchins from lower covens were always roaming the streets looking for what may fall or may be caused to fall from a pocket or purse. The stone streets were damp and dirty. There were drainage problems in the lower parts of the city that just never seemed to be addressed. Sewer backups were common and clerics were always fighting diseases. The buildings were also not of the soundest design, built by slave labor with inferior materials. Faverish hated living down there and desperately wanted to move higher up in the city where the ventilation shafts kept the air clean.
His patron Yurteth was nothing more than a pawn broker and fence of stolen belongings. The lower covens were starting to catch on to him as well and were warning their graduates to steer clear of Faverish. He needed a breakthrough or he would be stuck here forever, not powerful enough to leave on his own, and not powerful enough to be noticed by the upper clans. He would have to earn his pennies teaching Magic Missile to school children.
Normally Faverish would check in with Yurteth when he returned from a foray into the tunnels, but this time he decided to just go home to his niche. There were steps carved into the wall of the cavern, and there were holes carved into the steps. The holes were just big enough for one elf to fit a blanket and a few small belongings into. Faverish had been fortunate to find an empty one when another drow moved up. It was in the lower levels. Faverish had placed enchantments and traps to signify that his niche was taken and for others to stay away. It was common to find a dead body of someone who had tested the traps of occupants. It was also common to return to find your niche occupied by someone else, and fights were frequent. In spite of his own disgust with his station in life, the drow living around him respected him and kept their distance. Faverish’s traps were very deadly and his ability with spells exceeded everyone in his step. Many were impressed with his trips into the tunnels and wondered why he was still living down that far. There were some sturdy drow that had thought of going into the tunnels with him, but they had noticed that no one ever returned with him.
Faverish settled into his niche, lit a candle and got comfortable. He looked in his pouch and then poured the contents out onto the blanket. This last group of clods had actually not done all that badly, up until the dwarfs anyway. One had tracked a troglodyte to its lair. After killing them all they walked away with some copper, silver, gold and an amulet that Faverish knew was magical. He didn’t want to put it on until it could be checked out. He opened his spellbook and began to study the Identify spell so that it would be fresh in his mind. Faverish didn’t trust Yurteth to appraise things properly, so he always took extra steps. Yurteth would usually look at the item, pronounce it cursed and offer to take it off Faverish’s hands so that it could be disposed of. Then the next day it would be in the window selling for fifty gold pieces.
It seemed that the only times Faverish was not miserable were when he was studying magic. The complexity of it was such that he had to study the spell each day in order to cast it properly. But that never bothered him. Magic was entirely counterintuitive. If he tried to apply patterns and logic he would get it wrong. It gave an appearance sometimes of having a logic all its own, but whenever he thought he grasped it, chaos took over. Once a young covenite asked him what it was like to cast a magic missile. Faverish told him to take a deck of cards and build a house from the top down and from the outside in. In fact, the concentration needed to cast a fireball made him sweat more than the heat of the blast. But the effect was always worth the effort, except when he had to fight those damned dwarfs. Magic missiles always hit home, but the dwarfs didn’t seem to feel them. His fireball didn’t even singe their beards. Even the poison on their crossbow bolts never worked. He’d seen a dwarf take a dart in the forearm, he pulled out the barb and licked the wound like the poison was sweetshroom jam. Faverish had more than once knocked himself out just putting the poison on the bolts.
“Dwarfs!” Faverish blurted out in disgust. Once again they had disrupted his concentration. He’d have to start studying the spell again from the beginning.