Kael's Betrayal: (or How Elhain, and Athel join the Undead Hordes)
The soft blended scent of rose, cinnamon, and honeysuckle assaulted Kael's nostrils. The sharp sound of military grade boots landing hard upon his polished wooden floor also brought a sting of resentment to his ears. "Elhain, I asked that I not be disturbed today."
"She would have to violate the truce of our pact in order to stop me Kael." Athel's voice replied. "This is urgent Kael. A war museum was broken into, and the theives..."
"...made away with a relic that your order was pledged to keep safe?" Kael finished for Athel as he finally turned around with a sneer. "What concern is that to me?"
"I have come asking for your help. Will you help me recover the relic?"
"Just like that?A flat no!" Athel's face turned red. "You owe me a favor, and I came asking..."
"You trudged into my library, scuffing my floors with your muddy boots. You ruined my meditation, and my study. Get out!"
Athel stormed out with Elhain on her heels. "I am sorry Dame Athel." Elhain consoled, "He is normally not like that."
When the footsteps were no more than a faint echo from the hallway, Kael's other guest stepped out of the recessive shadows of the numerous shelves of books. "You know, maybe we can help them. Afterall what we seek currently is found in the possession of the same group who stole that relic." Galek grinned. "We could trade the girls for our prize."
Kael rubbed his chin.
"Meet me at the agreed place. Bring the girls, I leave it up to you as to how."
Much to Kael's surprise he did not have to search far. Athel, and Elhain were still conversing in the great hall of the palace, just down the corridor from his library. "Pardon me ladies. I may have been a bit rude earlier. Nasty habit of mine. Will you both forgive me?"
"Ofcourse Master Kael." Athel replied. "Have you reconsidered my request?"
"Indeed I have, and as it turns out I have divined up some leads as to where to search for this relic. I believe the culprits have ghosted it away to some old ruins that once served as a lair for an old dragon. I sent a servant to procure a guide for us. We may need his help since these ruins are located inside of orc territory."
"What help can any orc be to us?" Elhain spat.
"That is why you are still a guard, and a student my dear. Years will bring the wisdom needed to know who is friend, or foe. Silver can also buy allegiance were loyalty of birth and blood will fail you."
"Elhain, I would be honored if you would join our hunt. Will you come and help me recover this relic?" Athel asked.
"Yes, Athel, I will accompany you." Elhain answered, "I will be watching you." Elhain's stare bore holes in Kael's calm. She knew he was up to something, and the only way to uncover the truth would be to play along for now.
The trio met up with Galek near the forest's edge along the old imperial road. Arbiter met them there, which was a surprise to them all. "Kael," she motioned him aside. "Be careful, I sense a foreboding darkness blinds my vision. I am unable to see the outcome of your journey. Normally I would advise you turn back. However your success is crucial." She whispered to him alone. "Each of you come, chose a shard, peer into it, and gain wisdom for the journey ahead."
Athel and Elhain both drew out cerulean shards of ancient crystal. Elhain saw only her reflection. The image of herself within the crystal was blue, and seemed oddly cold to look upon. Arbiter whispered to Athel as see peered into the shard. "Be careful, one of your companion's intends to betray you. Recovering the relic is to be your priority. All else is second. The relic must be recovered if light is to continue to endure."
Galek pulled a lavender shard of ancient crystal, and saw inside of it glorious battle. Flames of war, and glory. He beat his chest with his fist clenched around the shard. "I am not sure what witchery this shard holds, perhaps it only shows what the holder desires to see? Perhaps it reveals their heart? Be that as it may, take this trinket away from me."
"As you wish." Arbiter collected the shard back into her pouch.
Kael pulled a marigold shard imbued with sacred light. Light flashed out from it, and nearly blinded Kael. He dropped the shard out of reflex, and Arbiter scooped it up off the ground. "Whatever the reasons, fate has brought you here together. May your journey be swift, and your goals be acheived." Arbiter looked directly at Kael. "Bring my daughter back safe."
The bandits in the hills outside the ruins, and the cultist the company encountered in the edge of the ruins offered no true threat to the company. Each in turn had a moment to shine, and showcase their unique skills. Yet there was no relic found. The prize still eluded the company. "Perhaps they hid it deeper in the ruins?" Kael proffered, "Shall we take a look?"
Thus they ventured into the ruins built at the mouth of a natural cavern. The place reeked of death, and something else Elhain could not place. Something like the reptilian flesh smell of lizardmen, but stonger. The company entered a rotund chamber, with a shaft of sunlight giving illumination to a great horde of silver, golden goblets, chests, armor, and weapons. Then it hit Elhain: Dragon! However it was too late. The dragon lunged forth from the shadows, and grasped Elhain within it mighty jaws. Shook her about, and began chomping on her. The company could hear the sickening crunch of her bones snapping. Athel spot a great sword with a cerulean aura just under the belly of the great beast. She summoned all the courage of her paladin training. Athel charged forward thrusting her spear in a dazzling display of skill, only to be cut down by eldritch sorcery blasting her from behind. "I have kept our pact Dragon. I brought you two sacrifices, and insured the safety of the relic remain in your care. Now what about your side of the bargain?"
The Dragon belched a short spurt of flame. "Oh my she was a spicy one." The Dragon pointed a claw towards a dias near the entry of the room. The staff you required, and something more for your henchman, a pair of flaming axes. I trust I shall never see your face again wizard, or you will share in these maiden's fate. Galek and Kael retrieved their payment, and left. Kael left two cerulean glass shards at the place where he retrieved the Poisoner's Staff.
A shadowy form stepped into the room. "Your Majesty," it bowed to the Dragon.
"Forgo the formalities. Take the shards you requested. I have no use for either. Leave that box you are carrying, I will consider it payment for my services."
The shadowy figure placed the box upon the ground, took the shards, and vanished.
Elhain felt the pull. She knew someone was using her shard. Perhaps the others had succeeded in the mission. The summoning was more painful than usual. Something was wrong. Perhaps she was simply reliving the pains of her death. She remembered being crushed in the Dragon's jaws. Then she felt a draw of breath. Opened her eyes. She was in a dark place. Laying upon cold stones. She could not move, her bones still broken. This was not right. She caught sight of the arms holding a sacrificial knife. She could not move. She could only watch as the robed figure lunged the knife into her chest. It was cold. She went cold. Her heart felt like it turned to ice. She drifted up out of her body. She saw her body rise, with eyes of corpse light. Her body had become an undead abomination. The horror made her weep. The robed figure held up a shard, her shard. He absorbed her soul into it. Placed the shard into a filament, and hooked it onto a chain. Then he put the chain around her body's neck. "I dub you Dark Elhain. You will become a slayer of your kindred, a harbinger of the doom that awaits them all. I, Bad-El-Kazar, proclaim it. I have made it so. I believe you two were once friends?" The robed figure jestured toward another figure in the room. A figure with the resemblance of Athel, but cold, dark, another abomination of undeath. Another automaton under Bad-El-Kazar's comand.
No longer was there a soft blended scent of rose, cinnamon, and honeysuckle, only the rotting stench of dead decaying flesh.
The echoing laughter of the necrotic lich, Bad-El-Kazar.