Party of Scoundrels
Kajn Escapes Thay
It had been a decade since the Red Wizards of Thay had stormed through the tunnels of Veritas; until this moment, life in this secret defense bunker had ceased to flourish. Hastily created, the floor of this old keep was dirt, and the walls were made of stone of unnatural placement. Various bookshelves sit idle with thick layer of dust, but the knowledge found within the books had fallen victim to the flames years ago. The only scent beyond a dried out bottle of wine was rotten food scraps on empty cable drum tables. Veritas had been an old underground refugee sanctum and military fort created shortly after Szass Tam, a vile lich, deceived his way to the throne of Thay. Many escaped the tyranny of the evil Zulkir’s rule by using secret tunnels that spread to various nearby towns. Chaos had emerged when Szass Tam made laws against casters of any form of magic unapproved by the Red Wizard’s interests; all who opposed these anti-magic laws were severely punished.
One day, a seasoned ranger from Waterdeep accepted the task of scouting this location, and his findings led to the slaughter of over two hundred former citizens of Thay, as well as several supporters of the cause. Since then, the only life gracing this cursed haven is the ever-burning candles that were donated to light the way for refugees. The flames of the candles remain as still and undisturbed as the remains of the tunnels of this former stronghold.
After ten long years the shadows had moved from their resting places, and began to dance again. The walls had come alive, perhaps to provide light or shadow to the newest refugee of Thay. It was a human boy; barely a man, and far too scrawny to call himself one. He dashed in a frenzy shifting from corner to corner, slamming into walls occasionally in a desperate attempt to navigate the sanctuary with haste as many have done before. How did he know about this place? It seemed… familiar. Had he heard about it before? Are tales still told of its existence? Behind him trailed a magical blue orb, flying at a pace that would snuff out the candles as it blazes by, were they not magically enhanced. It hounds the boy through the chambers of the stronghold as if it could smell the blood he’s leaving behind.
“Master, shouldn’t we make haste?" A young wizard’s even younger apprentice asks. "We don’t want to lose our share of the bounty because we let the boy escape.” The fledgling wizard himself stands just beyond the remains of the entry door to the caverns. He is currently igniting a long intricate pipe, and inhaling the vapors. His scribe stands beside him, staring down the long halls trying to follow the the mystical trail of the blue orb.
“Worry not, Geoffrey” replied the wizard in a voice distorted from the smoke in his lungs. “I have calculated my spells precisely; the one I have chosen is certain to finish the job.” At this time the boy had tumbled over a table with impressive agility, but not without knocking an old mug onto the floor and disrupting the old book shelves as he somersaulted into an adjacent room. Yet the orb was quick to follow suit despite all of the twists and turns of the bunker, remaining always within a step of the boy’s spine. “_Magic Missile_ never misses,” The wizard says smugly after exhaling a cloud of shimmering purple smoke. “Quite often overlooked, it is the favored spell of dueling wizards, only blocked by other magic”, he elaborates, patting his belt in the location of his scroll of Night Shield… which he only now noticed was missing.
Though the boy with garnet red hair and pale white skin had disturbed the slumber of these once hallowed halls, one could almost pity his inevitable end. His body was already smudged with soot from being burned with magic, and despite being crafty with his maneuverability; he won’t be able to outrun this magical missile much longer. The boy was about to give up when his eye caught a figment of red towards the end of the hallway, and once he had spotted it, he couldn’t turn his gaze. It was as if he was being summoned to fetch this color like his life depended on it. As he drew closer, his sight formed the familiar shape of a small glass vial, just large enough for the base to fill your palm like many of the empty vials laying sideways on the many tables of scattered in Veritas. The boy began gasping for air as he frantically increased his speed towards the bottle. It was filled with a radiant red liquid that seemed to pulse more as he approached. He reached for the neck of the bottle.
While still moving, the boy snatched up the potion and pulled a scroll from his tattered clothing. He spoke the words inscribed upon it.
The magical orb exploded struck him square in the back with fatal impact that slammed him into a bookshelf, scattering some tomes and smashing older ones into dust. He collapsed to the floor.
As the dust began to settle, sounds in the sanctuary ceased and the wizard put his pipe back into his side pouch and let his underling lead the way; for following the tracks should be a simple lesson for the young apprentice.
“His movement became a bit sloppier here, we must be getting close,” he reported. “There! He went into this room when we heard him drop.” The apprentice marched into the room triumphantly as he saw the boy lying dead on the floor behind a fallen shelf. “I shouldn’t have doubted you Master.”
“It would be wise to break the habit Geoffrey. Search the boy,” the Wizard boasted.
“Certainly Master. The Zulkir will be most pleased with your performance today. I can’t wait to meet his Excellence when we report Kajn’s death… Although it’s odd a young man with hardly a coin to his name would be worth such a fortune.”
“It would also be wise not to question those who provide the coin…” The wizard lectured, otherwise ignoring the servant’s remark… but was interrupted as Geoffrey stood befuddled holding the empty tattered trousers and boots the boy had been wearing. It wasn’t until the apprentice turned back to face his mentor that he realized the wizard’s throat had been cut.
Suddenly having nothing more to say about his own abilities, about the boy, about the mission, his expression was that of pure shock and terror as a crimson waterfall fell down the front of his blue robes. The wizard slumped to his knees, one hand on his gaping throat and the other outstretched, twitching as if he’s trying to cast one more spell but is unable to mutter the vocal component. Only in this position is Geoffrey able to see the shape of the boy standing silhouetted behind the wizard, the tip of his hat pointed at Kajn’s bare chest until the body slams coldly onto the dirt floor.
Geoffrey frantically dropped Kajn’s rags and attempted to draw his weapon, but the boy moved like a shadow, and quickly backed him into a wall. The very dagger that had just slayed the seasoned wizard now teased his student’s bobbing throat, smearing a thin line of blood. For the first time, Kajn’s face is visible, distinctly lit from a nearby everburning candle. In this moment, everything remained still. This had to be the strangest looking human ever seen. His skin resembled the cold lifelessness of the snow. His hair was short on the sides, but wild and unkempt at the top and it resembled the crimson pooling around Eltar of Thay’s lifeless body. His eyes shimmered like a garnet stone that displayed gateways into despair and misery.
“Wh-What do you want?” Geoffrey pleads.
“Information,” Kajn replies in a deep whisper. “Who was he?”
“Who was who-“
“The Wizard!” Kajn grunts savagely.
“He is-was my master, an Enclave wizard know as Eltar of Thay,” he stumbled while desperately trying to not let his Adam’s apple move in the slightest, knowing it would result in a premature ending to this conversation. “We were hired by the sole Zulkir of Thay, Szass Tam.”
“Why would the Zulkir send you after me?” Kajn asked a bit more specifically.
“You’re joking, right?” the apprentice exclaimed as Kajn’s eyes widen and his head cocked to the side like a curious dog. “You… You’re a wanted fugitive! After that stunt you pulled in front of the Zulkir’s allies! You were his personal Jester!”
“I was his slave, his personal pet freak.” Kajn grunted as he cut Geoffrey’s blade loose from his waist with a hidden second dagger. Once his opponent was disarmed, Kajn carried the weapons a few feet away and began putting his pants and boots back on. Geoffrey, a bit more at ease stood still against the wall, but began rubbing papercut thin line on his throat. “You tell Szass Tam what happened here,” Kajn continues. “You tell him that your master has fallen, but you took the killing blow and put an end to Kajn Necrosil’s life.” Kajn lifted his foot off of the table after tying his second boot and pulled his dagger from the wood surface. Seconds later he was stripping Eltar’s corpse of any valuables.
“You would have me lie to my Zulkir in exchange for my life? If that is what must be done, I shall do as you wish. Just please let me live!”
“Oh, one small problem with that idea Jesse,” Kajn said.
“It’s Geof—What do you mean problem?” Geoffrey trembled.
“The Zulkir would never believe that you had survived when Eltar fell. It’s not going to look good on your credibility and you have no evidence to support it. Szass Tam hates deceivers more than he hates me,” he smiled.
“Please! I’m willing to take that chance! Just let me go.” Geffrey begged.
“I can’t decide…” Kajn trailed off as if his thoughts escaped his mouth. He was confused with his own morals, confused with what the intelligent decision would be in this situation. His left hand began to shake compulsively as he fidgeted until he gripped an item from one of the hastily sewn hidden pockets in his tattered pants. It was a small coin that reflected light in the most peculiar way.
“Why don’t we flip for it?” He said with a sinister change in tone. “May Olidammara smile upon you.”
“WAIT!” Geoffrey shouted as the ‘ping’ of the flicked coin echoed throughout the chambers. Within a blink, Kajn was observing the results of the toss in his palm.
“Huh.” He said confounded. “I should let you leave. So I guess you should the hell out of here. Leave anything you dropped.” Gasping for air, Geoffrey didn’t hesitate to begin dashing as quickly as his legs could carry him down the adjacent hall.
Oh, I almost forgot.
Like lightning had struck Geoffrey down, a hellacious pain instantaneously roared through his shoulder as he writhed in agony with his face in the dirt. It took him a moment to comprehend the impact of one small dagger. Kajn carried a steady pace as he approached Geoffrey’s helpless body and pulled the blade from his shoulder. Kajn could hear the flesh tear apart from the serrated edge, causing blood began to leak profusely from the wound. Kajn leaned close to Geoffrey’s ear and muttered in a familiar tone, “We’re not far from Thay; I’m going to need a head start.”