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Order of the Sword & Rose
Deriaz’s orange eyes scanned the sky. Though it was the deadof night, he was able to see clouds beginning to mass together. ‘A storm. ..’ he thought.
‘No, really? I think anyone could have realized that,’a deeper voice responded. Ragyr, his other side, had a habit of chiming in atrandom times, now that he had been discovered inside of Deriaz.
‘Shut up. . .’ Deriaz sighed. He continued walkingdown the street in the marketplace, and his mind wandered to earlier thatnight. He had snuck out of the Fellowship guest room he frequented due to hisinability to sleep at the time, and had walked outside into the cool night air,with no destination in mind. His mind started to race with the events of thepast few days:
He had torn out pages of a House Deneith record, beenattacked by what he thought was a spider creature, had snuck back into HouseDeneith with Uxor, had been caught again, had almost killed a guard (Part inthanks to Ragyr), had his face on a wanted flyer, was told he could not talk toUxor until a requirement had been fulfilled by her, had met a Mind Flayer, and(Though this part was a blur) his other side had decided to make a deal withSho of some sort.
Deriaz sighed again. ‘What a mess I’ve gotten myselfinto. . .’
‘It’s your fault. What were you expecting? Easy times?You could have just told your mute friend to take a hike, and not help her,’Ragyr laughed.
‘I said shut up. . .’ Deriaz shot back.
‘Runt, all I’m saying is that the mute didn’t need yourhelp that badly. Hell, I bet she didn’t even want you helping.’
‘You know, she has a name. As do I.’
Ragyr laughed. ‘Oh, sure, I know you do. But all it is isa nickname. Many nicknames, no true name. Deriaz, Der, D, Bolts. . . Need I goon? I don’t think I need to.’
‘Just. . . Just shut up, alright?’ he sighed. ‘Idon’t want to hear it from you. Not tonight. All I need right now is—‘ hetrailed off as his eyes fell on a darkened spot on the ground. He eyed it for afew seconds before a second one popped up nearby it. Then a third. A fourth. Asmall object hit the top of his head. He looked up, and a raindrop fell intohis eye. He blinked a few times as lightning tore through the sky, thunderroared in response, and the rain began to pick up. Deriaz continued to walk,and began entering the alleyways.
‘Get us out of the rain,’ Ragyr chimed up again. ‘Idon’t want this body rusted.’
Deriaz ignored him, but he piped up again. ‘Just shut up!’he yelled after a moment. His point seemed to be emphasized by another bolt oflightning in the sky.
After a few moments of walking in silence, Deriaz scannedthe alleyways, trying to remember which ways he had gone already, which ways hehad come from, and which ways were unexplored still. A roar of thunder brokehis concentration, and allowed his ears to pick up a voice barely audible underit. “Hey!” someone yelled.
Deriaz whirled around, trying to locate the source of thevoice. After a second more, he heard it again; it was high-pitched, almost likea squeak. “What, can’t see me?”
Another spin, and another voice from apparently nowhere.“Alright, where are you?” Deriaz yelled. He heard a laugh, and something pushedthrough his legs. He looked down to see what it was, but another roar ofthunder made him crouch down in what he thought was fright. After a second, hebegan to realize there was a weight on his back.
He reached up to grab it, but the weight wriggled away fromthe Warforged’s wet hands. Deriaz spun around and looked down, only to have hisgaze met with a grinning Halfling. It waved at him, and laughed again. “Hithere! Remember me?”
Ragyr began to speak up, but Deriaz ignored him. “Yeah, Iknow you. From the Wavecrest. You’re the one that wanted to actually talk tome.”
The Halfling nodded, and his grin seemed to light up as morelightning danced through the air. “But, do you remember me from anywhere else?”
Deriaz stalled. ‘Somewhere else. . .?’ He shook hishead. “No, I can’t say that I do.”
The Halfling frowned. He pulled out a robe from his pack,and held it up in front of him. He cocked his head at Deriaz in question.Deriaz shook his head. Another frown, another quick dig. This time, theHalfling pulled out a pair of glasses. He put them on, held up the robe infront of him, and another cock of the head.
Deriaz stared at him for a minute. “You’re. . . The Wizard!The one with the gemstone!” The Halfling stuffed the robe back into his pack,nodding vigorously with enthusiasm.
‘GRAB HIM!’ Ragyr’s voice finally registered toDeriaz.
‘Just do it! I’ve been meaning to get my hands on him!I’ll explain once you grab him!’ Ragyr growled.
Deriaz reached forward, trying to grab the Halfling. Itseemed to expect the attempt, and jumped up onto Deriaz’s head. Another jump,and he landed a firm kick in Deriaz’s back, pushing him face-first into themud. He heard the Halfling laugh behind him.
‘Get up! Get up! Get him!’ Ragyr yelled.
‘Why—‘ Deriaz started.
‘Less talk, more grab! Go! I’ll explain later!’Deriaz rolled onto his back, and stood up quickly. Before he could even get hisbearing straight, another firm kick was planted in his chest, and he was sentinto the wall behind him. He slammed into it, and slid down the wall into aseated position.
‘He’s quick for a Halfling,’ Deriaz groaned, andlooked up, only to have his gaze met with a dagger.
The Halfling laughed. “Now, now, Ragyr. If you want to holda grudge, carry it out yourself. Don’t have him do it for you! And besides, Ionly followed your orders to the letter.”
Deriaz shook his head. “Orders? What’s going on?”
The Halfling grinned. “Oh, I’m sure Ragyr would love toanswer that for you. And maybe that ice lady could help you. Hell, the wholeguild could. But for now,” he sighed, “I need to say goodbye.” Before Deriazcould react, he felt the Halfling grip his head, slamming it into the wallbehind him. His vision began to fade, and he fell over onto his side. The lastthing he remembered was the Halfling kicking mud in his face as he fellunconscious.
* * *
Deriaz awoke with a start. He sat up with a groan, brushingthe mud off of him. He looked around, and noticed he was laying feet away fromthe exit of the alleyways.
After a moment, it seemed to register to him that it was well into the day. He cursed, stood up, and ran out of the alleyway towards the Fellowship guild hall, praying no one had noticed his absence.
The sound of waves crashing up against the dock helped calmhis mind. A second night in a row that he couldn’t sleep, and he found himselfout wandering the town again. Eyes closed, his mind retraced everything thathad happened in the day to help commit it to memory: from Sho’s sudden appearance, to the sword, to him spilling hisidea of leaving Stormreach to Uxor. He sighed.
‘Tell me you don’t believe her,’ Ragyr’s voice cameinto his mind. Deriaz shrugged it off, and continued recounting events, tryingto put everything to memory so he wouldn’t lose anything. He heard footstepsoff in the distance. Crew members unloading a ship.
‘Helloooo, are you listening to me?’ Ragyr spokeagain. Deriaz ignored him a second time. ‘Come on. Look. Just hear me out,alright? For, like, ten minutes. That’s all I want. Ten minutes of yourattention.’
Deriaz groaned. ‘Fine. You have my attention. What do youwant?’ Off in the distance, he heard a slow tune begin to play. One eye litup, and he turned his head to locate the sound. Finding none, he turned back tothe water and closed his eyes again.
‘Again, you don’t believe her, do you?’
‘Believe who? Uxor?’
‘Yeah, her, the mute.’ Deriaz groaned at thatcomment.. He wished Ragyr would actually use a person’s name, and not just atrait or their race. ‘You can’t tell me you fell for that sob story.’
The tune began to pick up slowly. ‘Sob story? Of course Ibelieve what she said, if that’s what you mean. Why would she, or anyone forthat matter, have any reason to lie to me?’
Ragyr laughed. ‘Oh, how naïve you are. You don’t knowhumans--or any fleshie for that matter--well, do you? You really think shewants you here?’
‘Of course I do. You saw her. She was practicallypleading for me not to go to the Mournlands.’
‘Because she wants you here so she can use you,not cause she cares about you,’ Ragyr shot back. ‘Humans always fakeemotions to get what they want. Or any fleshie, for that matter. You can’t tellme you honestly think she wants you here, do you?’
Another tempo change. Faster. ‘You asked this already. Ofcourse I do.’
Ragyr sighed. ‘Let me remind you that twice now, she’sput you in harm’s way—‘
‘Hey, now, the first time we didn’t know Mekari was goingto attack me!’ Deriaz shot back.
‘—and yet she still asks you to risk your head for thingsthat she could do on her own. The second trip to House Deneith. You saw how shehandled the guards and the stealth. Did she look like she needed help?’
‘Well, no, but—‘ Deriaz started. The tune had becomeeven faster now, and a little. . . louder? Deriaz shrugged off the volumechange, saying he was imagining it.
‘Let me direct you to the Mind Flayer. The plan was foryou both to go. And yet, she suddenly changes her plans, and you had to face ityourself. She even warned you that it could mess with a person’s mind. Doesthat not mean something to you?’
‘I. . . She. . . She went to confess to Hope, and Hopesent her to find a Dragon’s lair. You know that!’
‘Which brings me to my third point. The Inevitable andthe Forge. She knew the danger involved in those events. And yet you still wereasked to help.’
‘B-Because I offered to!’ Deriaz stammered.
‘Right. Right. Offered. Mmhmm. Now, tell me, that’s. . .What. . . Three? Four events? Obviously, she would have learned by now thatthere is danger in what she’s doing. Yet she still turns to you to take theattack with her, if not take all of it. Tell me, isn’t that the leastbit suspicious!?’
Deriaz remained silent. Ragyr voiced in again after aminute. ‘And what of the Elf? The one that so viciously attacked us in theguild hall kitchen? Tell me, what warranted that attack, hm? All I did was tryto strike up some friendly conversation with him. And he goes and throws adagger in our chest. Now, I’m no cleric or anything, but that hurt. And then hestarted stabbing us. And then blinded us. Tell me, does that sound like thekind of person who wants you to stay in Stormreach?’
Deriaz shook his head.Ragyr continued. ‘Quite right. We need all the help we can get. You and I are in thistogether. Which means we need to work together. I’m only looking out for you,runt. Once I get this price off our head, get us separate bodies, and get your memory back, all youneed to do is get us a boat ticket back to the Mournlands.’
Deriaz shook his head again. ‘I’m not going. You heardUxor. She wants me here. And Sho. . . Well, Sho just doesn’t like you, I think.’
The tune had reached an incredible speed and volume now.Ragyr groaned. ‘Have you listened to a word I’ve said!? She’s usingyou! She’s only going to keep using you, until she gets what she needsdone! And then you’re back on the street! Do you really want to be backthere!?’
The music stopped suddenly. The crashing of the waves seemedlouder than before, now that it was gone. After a moment, Ragyr sighed. ‘Nowthen. . . Are we going to the Mournlands, or not?’
Deriaz opened his eyes, and looked out across the water. ‘I—‘
‘No excuses! No! I want an answer! YES OR NO!?’Ragyr yelled.
‘I. . . I. . . Fine. Fine. I’ll get the ticket, once Iget the money. . .’ Deriaz sighed.
‘That’s what I thought. I told you, runt, I’m onlylooking out for you. Now, get us out of here. I’m sick of listening to. . . To.. . Nothing. Remember, I’m just trying to help. . .’
Ragyr began rambling on, but Deriaz ignored him. He lookedto his left to find a green Warforged, with a rather large crate in his hands,staring back at him. It shifted the crate to his left arm, and waved at Deriazwith his right hand. Deriaz blinked a few times, and returned the wave back.The Warforged grinned, and continued working.
Deriaz sighed, and began to leave the docks, headingtowards. . . Well, he didn’t rightfully know. Another night of wandering, hefigured. For a moment, he considered searching for who was playing that melodyearlier, but thought against it. As he walked up the stairs away from thedocks, Ragyr’s voice came back to him one more time, in the form of a laugh.
Missing Minstrel. . .?
Deriaz sat in the guild hall, sitting silently, and staringoff into space. He still couldn’t believe the fact that Varro could be dead. Heshook his head. ‘Varro was tougher than that,’ he thought, ‘. . . Istougher, not was.’
‘Doubt it. Never saw the fool, but if he only playedmusic, well, I’m sure he can’t take a fall’, he heard Ragyr say. Deriazignored him. Instead, he stood up and walked outside making his way towards theharbor.
As he walked, he tried to get Ragyr’s idea out of his idea.He realized that he had never really seen Varro take a good hit or fall.Maybe there was the chance. . .
He shook his head again. ‘Of course not. No. Cog evensaid he walked himself out of the tavern. He’s alright.’
He wandered the town in silence for awhile, until herealized where he was. Standing on the dock again, he realized he was staringout across the sea again.
Another crew was working to his left, on another dock.Again, the green Warforged spied him. It waved again, seemingly happy to seeDeriaz a second time. Deriaz waved back, and turned to stare across the water.Ragyr eventually chimed in again,
‘You know. . .’ he started. He paused dramatically,waiting for Deriaz to push him on so he could say his grand idea. When Deriazdidn’t say anything, he said it again, a little louder. ‘I said, you know. ..’
Deriaz closed his eyes in annoyance. ‘What? What do youknow? What in Stormreach could I even care a small bit about that you’vethought up? Hm? Humor me. Cause I’m really not in the mood to hear from you.’
Ragyr laughed. ‘Hey, now, remember what I said? I’m onlylooking out for you. . . Now then. The minstrel is missing, correct?’Deriaz nodded. ‘This obviously means that the guild and others are going tobe searching for him, correct?’
Deriaz opened his eyes. ‘Myself included.’
‘Oh, yes, yes, of course. . . I just figured, you know,that this is our chance to get what is ours. With everyone distracted over the‘disappearance’ of the Minstrel, well, they won’t notice if you go missing onyour own for awhile, correct?’ Deriaz thought about it for a moment. Ragyrwas right. . . If everyone was busy searching, who would notice himdisappearing for a day or two, to do whatever Ragyr wanted to do? They wouldthink he went searching on his own. Besides, he was only looking out forDeriaz.
‘What did you have in mind?’ Deriaz asked.
Ragyr seemed to laugh, but to himself. ‘Excellent. Gladto see your not always shutting me out now, runt. What I had in mind was whatyou and I both want. The mute promised it as well. . . You see, after your tripto the dragon, you had to go through a vault. Now, what was IN said vault,defending it against you?’
Deriaz realized where this was going, but played alonganyway. ‘Other Warforged.’
‘Other Warforged, yes. Other Warforged who had not yetbeen actived yet. And if we want to be separated—‘
‘—We need a body that has no personality yet—‘
‘—And we could just, maybe, ‘borrow’ one from the Vault.We could sneak in with another team, and—‘
‘—Take one.’ Deriaz couldn’t believe he was actuallyfinishing Ragyr’s sentences. It was like they thought alike now.
Ragyr laughed. ‘Good, good. Now, about the gem—‘ hestarted, but a deep cough behind him stopped him. Deriaz turned to see thegreen Warforged behind him. Deriaz seemed to tower over him. Deriaz guessed hehimself was about 6 feet, 6 inches tall, but this Warforged didn’t even seem tobe 6 feet tall. It looked up at him nervously with soft, also green eyes. “I,uh, hi. . .” he started.
Deriaz saluted, by reflex, to the Warforged. “Can I help youwith something?”
“I was, uh, asked by my. . . Well. . . Master, I guess youcould call him, if you could move off the dock. We have another ship coming insoon, and, well. . .”
Deriaz nodded. “Oh, yeah, of course. I’ll move. It’s noproblem.”
As Deriaz moved to leave, the Warforged stopped him. “I’veseen you around here before, as well as around town. Your name. . .? They callme Ranux,” he grinned.
“They call me Deriaz Ironfist, though I go by plenty of othernames.”
Ranux nodded. “Deriaz. . . Weird name to be given to you.”
“Hey, now, no weirder than whoever gave you Ranux,” helaughed. Ranux laughed with him. When Ragyr nodded, Deriaz saluted theWarforged and left.
Ragyr groaned. 'Do you have to anyone who says hello? I mean, for crying out loud, runt. . . Anyways, anyways, here's what we're gonna do. . .' Deriaz listened intently as they walked back to the Marketplace. . .
A few moments later. . .
“. . . And that’s how it’s going to work, alright?”Ragyr finished as Deriaz walked towards the Phoenix Tavern. Deriaz nodded. “Good.Now, the Vault had plenty of traps in there when we went with the mute. Obviously,I’m thinking that there are going to be an incredible amount near theirstorage, if not their forge, which I’ll assume they have one. You saw how manythey churned out in that one room.”
“You act as if these are just bodies ripe for the taking,”Deriaz sighed.
“Look, trust me. They don’t have a personality yet. Plus,whatever one we’ll take will obviously be better with my personality in it, notwhatever it’ll turn into.”
“You look like you’re hatching a plan. Need some help?” avoice above them laughed. Deriaz looked up to see the Halfling from a few daysago above them in a tree. He waved to the Warforged. “Well? Need some help?”
“Want me to grab him?” Deriaz thought.
“No. . . No, let me handle this.” Ragyr said quickly.
“Don’t argue. Just let me handle this. Please. I have anidea,” he almost begged. Deriaz nodded, and the metal on his body turned toa deep black. His orange eyes turned to a blood red. He felt his consciousnessslip slightly as Ragyr took over.
Ragyr moved behind the tree, and the Halfling jumped down inreturn. “Finally. I see the real person, and not the blue mask.” He grinned.“What’re you two hatching?”
“A break-in,” Ragyr said flatly.
“A break-in, hm? Where at?”
Ragyr grinned. “At the vault in House Kundarak.”
“The one they call the Vault of Night? Filled with all thoseDwarves and Warforged and stuff?” Ragyr nodded. “You know there are going tobe—“
“Traps, yes, I know,” Ragyr said, slightly annoyed.
“And what about our deal?” the Halfling put his hands on hiships.
Ragyr seemed to flinch. “Look, I know what I said, butforget that right now, alright?”
The Halfling frowned. “I still haven’t been paid yet forthat. . . You told me that if I split you two, you would pay me. And if thesplit was unsuccessful, you told me to kill the two of you, and we would justtake out your self, and leave the runt to rust.”
“Leave me to rust!?” Deriaz whispered tohimself.
Ragyr sighed. “Yes, I know that’s what I said. But I have myown plans for the runt and me. So, just help us do this split correctly, andyou’ll get your final reward.”
The Halfling grinned. “A bigger reward than last time?”
Ragyr laughed. “A bigger reward than before. In fact, youcould call it a pay equal to the full measure of your devotion.”
The Halfling nodded. “Alright then. You’re going to needsomeone who can get you in and out of there easily, and avoid the traps. Andsomeone who has a little skill with working a forge. . .” He grinned.
“You read my mind. We’re going to need you,” Ragyr laughed.
“Well, when are you planning on doing this?”
“As soon as possible.”
The Halfling nodded and thought for a moment. “There’s agroup going in there tonight, after they heard that your group couldn’t finishit off. I doubt they’ll make it, but you and I may be able to sneak in therewith them.”
“Tonight? It seems like short notice, but the sooner thebetter. We’ll meet up there, then?” Ragyr grinned when the Halfling nodded. “Iknew I could count on you. The only fleshie I can, eh?”
The Halfling nodded. “You and I till the end, right?” Deriazheard Ragyr laugh to himself in his mind.
“The end, sure,” Ragyr nodded. The Halfling nodded inreturn and began to walk away.
He turned back before going out of sight, and yelled back.“Unless I decide to skip out on you! Hehehe!”
Ragyr raised a fist in the air and yelled, “You better notbackstab me on this deal!”
As the two slipped into the Phoenix Tavern, Deriaz felt hisconsciousness slip back into control. He shook his head. “This is not a goodidea. . .” he muttered to himself. Looking up and noticing Sho and Jaggie atthe bar, he made his way over silently.
A few hours later. . .
“Finally!” the Halfling sighed as Deriaz came up the stairsat House Kundarak quietly. “I was beginning to think you weren’t going toshow!” He beckoned them off the stairs, onto a ledge near the entrance to thevault, guarded by Dwarves.
Deriaz sighed. “I’m not so sure about this. Maybe weshouldn’t do it right now. With Varro missing and everything. . .”
The Halfling waved it away. “Forget that Minstrel. What didhe ever do for you, anyway? The stupid wino is probably passed out somewhere;knocked ‘imself into a coma, I’ll bet.”
“He’s right. The Bard did like his drink a bit much,”Ragyr laughed.
“More reason that we have to go find him. If he’s passed outsomewhere, he needs help. We can’t just leave him there,” Deriaz said.
“Shh, shh! Not so loud!” the Halfling held up a hand. “Look,we can just leave him there. You come before anyone else, got that? Stoptrying to help everyone out, for crying out loud.”
“What, you don’t think I’ve been watching you? Yeah, helpingeveryone out. I don’t think I’ve seen you say no once,” the Halfling sighed.
“Watching me!? What—“ Deriaz started.
“Forget that right now. Short version: I’ve been waiting for the right time tofinish that deal I struck with Ragyr a time ago.” He shrugged. “Trust me,that’s out of my mind now. We need to focus on getting you in there. . . Andmind if Ragyr takes the sneaking part of this? Not that I don’t trust you, it’sjust. . . Well. . . He’s got more experience under the belt, ya know?”
Deriaz allowed his consciousness to slip, as Ragyr surfaced.The Halfling nodded once they had switched. “Alright, now then. . . You tworemember the plan, right?” He grinned when the Warforged nodded. “You’ve gotthe gem as well, then? We’re gonna need to combine you two back into one beingagain, then, so we can do the split properly this time.”
Ragyr groaned. “See, about that. . .”
“See what? You have it, don’t you? I gave it to the runt.”
Ragyr nodded. “Yeah, yeah, of course. But the runt decidedto put it in, which I was fine with. But then I took a job, and it got takenfrom us.”
The Halfling stared at them for a moment. “. . . Taken? Youexpect me to buy that? The only way it can be taken out is if you did itwillingly or—“
“—Or we were knocked out. . . Or killed.”
“You’re saying someone was able to knock you, of allpeople, out? I doubt it.” The Halfling smirked.
Ragyr growled. “Believe it or not, that’s the truth.Besides, it’s not that big a deal, is it? I mean, we can still split. We’re twobeings in one body still. . .”
“Well, sure, I can still split you two. . . But without thegem’s content being added back into you, the split may not be complete. Sure,you’ll be two people, but there may be a link between you two still,” theHalfling frowned. “This could just be as simple as having the same ghulra, or—“
“The same ghulra? Big deal. Then if I get identified forsomething by my ghulra, I can just place the blame on the runt.” Ragyr laughed.“There’s no downside to this. Just split us.”
“Maybe we should hold out until we get it back. . .”Deriaz sighed.
“No way. I told you I’m looking out for you, and rightnow, this is the best option to benefit me. . . I mean. . . Both of us rightnow. Alright?”
“Fine, fine. Just don’t get us killed,” Deriazgroaned.
The Halfling peered over the ledge, and grinned. “Here’s theparty now. Get ready. This is it. You two are going to be separated, and I’mgoing to get my payment. Ah, this day couldn’t get any better.”
Ragyr laughed to himself. “It could, but you wouldn’tbelieve me if I told you how.”
The Halfling looked back at him, and tossed him a potion.“That’ll make you invisible. Drink it, now. They’re about to go in.”
Ragyr complied, and popped off the cork. He drank it, and hebecame transparent. The Halfling beckoned him over the ledge towards the vaultentrance.
“Don’t screw this up,” Deriaz whispered, though hedidn’t know why.
Inside. . .
Two guards lay dead at Ragyr’s feet. Deriaz hadn’t tried tostop him. There was nothing he could do. If he would have stopped Ragyr, thenthe guards would have arrested the two of them. If he would have tried to talkRagyr out of it. . . Right, like there was any way to do that.
So, there they were. The Halfling behind them, and twoguards in front of them. One had been killed quickly, his throat severed in onequick blow. The other had cuts all over his body from Ragyr’s cruel humor intorture. The door in front of them was luckily unlocked. No questions asked;they figured someone had gone in there recently, or was currently in there now.Inside, they were greeted by rows of Warforged standing silent, eyes void ofcolor.
“Well, I can’t say I was expecting this,” theHalfling gasped.
Ragyr nudged him. “Forget the sight. Stay focused. We needto find a good body—That one.” He pointed at one dead center in the formation.It stood as tall as Deriaz, and was black. Most likely had red eyes, as well.The three moved towards it, and the Halfling began to inspect it.
Ragyr looked around, trying to see if anyone was in theroom. He ducked down quickly, spotting a Dwarf in the corner. He nodded at theHalfling, and began to maneuver towards the Dwarf.
“Tell me this is the last one you’ll kill,” Deriazgroaned.
“Yeah, yeah, hush,” Ragyr snapped back. He emergedfrom the rows to find the Dwarf missing. A second later, there was a cry forhelp coming from the doorway. “Damnit!”
“Shut him up, before someone hears!” Deriaz saidquickly. By instinct, Ragyr sprinted at the Dwarf, unhooking the Bastard Swordon Deriaz’s back at the same time. Before he even knew what hit him, the Dwarfhad a sword through the back of his chest. “Get the bodies out of the way.Hide them. Before someone else sees!” Ragyr agreed, sheathing the sword,and slid all three inside the room, around the corner away from the doorway. Hequickly moved back to the Halfling.
“What was that all about?” the Halfling whispered when theygot back.
“Nothing, nothing. We’ve got the body, we need to move.Runt, you carry it,” Ragyr said as Deriaz’s consciousness slipped back intocontrol.
“Ragyr, the body. About it. . ." the Halfling began, but Ragyr’s lastwords interrupted him.
“No time! Grab it and go!” he growled. Deriaz now had fullcontrol. The Halfling didn’t try to argue anymore. He instead turned and pushedover the nearest Warforged, starting a domino effect, and effectively making apath out of the center of the room.
Deriaz flinched slightly as they fell, but knew he couldn’tthink twice about it. He heaved the body up, and slung it over his shoulder.The Halfling sprinted ahead of him, towards the door, but skidded to a halt asthree Dwarves came barreling down the hall at the three. “You there! Stop!”they yelled, unhooking hammers and swords.
“Not this way!” The Halfling tugged at Deriaz’s leg, leadinghim to a second door. As it slid open, it revealed a dark tunnel. They glancedbehind them as the three Dwarves entered the room, and discovered the body.They yelled again to stop, but Deriaz and the Halfling were already through thedoor. It slammed behind them, and they grabbed a nearby iron pole to wedge itshut. The Dwarves began to pound on the other side, but it was pointless; theywere locked out.
The Halfling heaved a sigh of relief. “This should lead usto the forge. . . If there’s one down here. Where there are Warforged, there’sprobably a forge.” He began to walk down the tunnel, leaving Deriaz at thedoor.
“We could have snuck by them,” Deriaz sighed.
“What? Sneak? No way. They deserved what came to them.”
“Deserved it? All they did was guard a door!”
“Well, forget it. It’s over and done with, runt. Now stopbugging me. I’m planning ahead. Just keep up with. . . With the Halfling, before youget us separated,” Ragyr shot back.
“Is this really worth it? Worth killing three people justso we can get one body?”
“It is for me. Now, move, before we get separated.”
The door slid open, revealing a scene similar to Haywire’sFoundry. Cages with Warforged inside, what looked like electrical currentssurrounding them. Off if the corner, there was one that was empty. The Halflingtugged Deriaz over to it, forcing him to pry his eyes away from the forges. TheHalfling moved quickly, swinging open the door, and motioning Deriaz inside.
“We’ve gotta do this quickly. There’s probably another wayin here,” he said. The door shut behind Deriaz. “Put the body in the center,and stand next to it. I’m going to wipe whatever may already be in it, thenwe’ll split him.” The Halfling ran away, and a moment later, an electriccurrent ran over the body. A few charges jumped between the body and Deriaz,and he recoiled back.
After a moment, the Halfling appeared again. “Now, remember,cause we don’t have the gem, there may be a few side effects. Like an identicalghulra, or—“
“Yeah, you explained this already,” Deriaz said. “We know.”
The Halfling sighed. “Fine, fine, you don’t want to hear meout? Fine then. Your decision. Tell me when you want me to split you.”
Ragyr laughed. “Finally, huh? We’re gonna be split up,finally. No more having to deal with you. . .”
“Yeah, well, I can’t say I’m not happy as well. But Ican’t help but wonder. . .”
Deriaz sighed. “Well. . . Just, nevermind. Forget it.”
“Alright, whatever. If you’re not going to talk, runt,you may as well tell him to split us now, and get this over with.”
Something in the way Ragyr said that made Deriaz snapped.“Split us. I’m not putting up with this anymore.”
The Halfling cocked an eyebrow. “Putting up. . .? You twoarguing? Well, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that. You used to get along sowell. . . Alright. Fine. Look, here’s the deal. When I start the split, theelectric current is going to hit the both of you. Body and you. It’ll probablyhurt. I’m not gonna lie and say it won’t. Afterwards, I guess we’ll see whatside effects there are of not having the gem.” He ran off.
Ragyr and Deriaz were left in silence. After a few moments,the loud humming in the room began to center over them. The electric currentcame as the Halfling said it would. It gave him the sensation of somethingtearing him apart. Deriaz couldn’t tell how long it was covering him, but assoon as it came, it was gone. His vision blurred, and he saw the ground come upto meet him as he fell over. He lay there in silence for a moment, until thedoor to the cage opened up. He saw the Halfling run up to him and kneel besidehim, inspecting to see if he was ok.
“Leave him alone,” a deeper voice said. It took Deriaz amoment to realize it was Ragyr—the split was a success. “He’s fine. Just leavehim. We’ll bring him back to the guild hall he frequents in a moment.”
The Halfling stood up, and the top half of his bodydisappeared out of Deriaz’s periphery vision. “Glad to see you’re alrightthen.”
The Halfling took a step back as two black feet came intoDeriaz’s view. “Glad to see you know who you side with. You check him beforeme? So much for loyaltly.”
“Ragyr, look, I. . . I need to show you something.”
“Show me something? Are you having attention problems?”
The Halfling reached into his pocket, and pulled outsomething. “Look at this. I went snooping while you were at the Phoenix, and—“The sound of paper being snatched away came to Deriaz’s ears.
“Hm. . . I haven’t thought much on this. . . This could beuseful.”
“Yup. Also, look at this.” Another piece of paper, Deriazfigured, was pulled out. “This one’s not as recent, but the bounty is still outthere.” The Halfling laughed. “Thought you’d like the see that.”
“Ooooh. . . Oooh, yes, this could prove useful as well. . .I guess I owe you something, don’t I?”
The Halfling laughed again. “Yup. That you do. What was ityou said. . . Something equal to ‘the full measure of my devotion?’”
Ragyr laughed this time. “Yes, yes, of course. Right now,though, we need to get out of here. It would be to our advantage if we didn’trun into any more guards, as well. I have an idea. . .” The Halfling agreed,and Deriaz’s vision faded as he felt Ragyr pick him up.
A few days later. . .
Deriaz sighed as he tried to relax in the guild hall. Eversince the incident in the Vault, he felt like someone had ripped a piece of himout. His head throbbed; a sensation he had never felt before. One he wished hewould never have again. Sure, emotions were a great thing, but not this one.
He closed his eyes to help relax more, but it wasshort-lived. The doors to the Fellowship guild hall swung open, and a tall mancarrying a strange. . . Package? in his left hand was silhouetted against thesun. Deriaz stood up and saluted, and made his way towards the man in greeting.
He stopped dead when two red eyes came to life in thedoorway.
“Glad to see you’re happy with this,” Ragyr growled. Hestomped into the hall. The package in his hand filled with color as well, asDeriaz realized it was the limp corpse of the Halfling. Ragyr followed Deriaz’sgaze to it, and shrugged. “I gave him the full measure of his devotion. It’s ashame he didn’t know what the term meant.” Ragyr laughed, and threw the corpseat Deriaz’s feet. “Enjoy the sight.”
The Halfling’s robes were torn in many places, with deep cutsbeneath. Dried blood surrounded them, but was the most visible around his faceand neck. It was no mystery why; the Halfling’s neck was cut wide open. Hishands were caked in dried blood as well.
“Bled him out,” Ragyr laughed. “But forget him for a bit. Weneed to talk,” his eyes narrowed, “now.”
Deriaz pried his eyes was from the corpse. “S-Sure, what?”
“Any specific reason you two gave me a horrible body, runt?”
Deriaz looked at him in confusion. “W-What? That’s the one youpointed out! Not us! We only followed directions!”
Ragyr pushed Deriaz back. “Well, thanks to you, you put mein what has got to be the weakest body I’ve ever seen. I’m thankful you twowere smart enough to pick out one that still was capable of magic. Thoughthat’s not much, considering the side effects.”
Ragyr nodded. “The ghulra, for one.” He pointed at hisforehead. It was the exact same as Deriaz’s. “He was right about that. So muchfor individual for every Warforged.”
“So? What’s so bad about that?”
“That’s actually the only good point. I can commit a crime,and you can be blamed for it.” Ragyr grinned. “It’s my one free slip-up: you.”
Deriaz laughed nervously. “You don’t seriously believe that,do you? Look at us! I’m blue, with orange eyes. You’re black, with red eyes.They can obviously tell us apart.”
“So, you haven’t experimented at all?”
Deriaz shook his head. “Experimented with what?”
Ragyr sighed. “The Halfling was right. Before I killed him,he told me that we were designed never to be split—“
“You mean he. . .?”
Raygr nodded. “Yeah, designed. You heard me right. He’s ourcreator. If it helps you deal with your unknown past any better, turns outyou’re an illegally made Warforged. I already knew that, so I’m fine with it.Let’s see how you deal with it.
But anyway, that’s not the point. You haven’t experimentedwith the color at all?” As if to demonstrate a point, Ragyr’s metal turned intothe exact shade of blue Deriaz was, and his eyes turned to the same orange aswell. “It’s kind of handy. . . For me, if I do say so myself. I can run aroundas you.” He laughed. “But that’s not all!”
Deriaz was stunned. He didn’t know what to say. Same ghulra?Fine. Illegally made? Ok, that’s a bit of a shock. But able to look likeDeriaz? It was bad enough Ragyr had gotten him into trouble at House Deneith.Now he could do it whenever he wanted?
“Oh, no, there’s more.” He grinned. “Remember how we used totalk?”
Deriaz nodded slowly. “Mentally, right?”
“Right,” Ragyr’s voice echoed in Deriaz’s head. Hetook a step back in shock. “What’s wrong, runt? You can’t tell me you’re thatsurprised, now, can you?”
“Two separated beings, correct. But the damned Halflingdidn’t tell us that our minds would still be linked! And that we would knowwhere the other is at all times!”
“Well, maybe if we would have given him the chance toexplain—“
Ragyr burst back into an audible voice. “It’s too late forthat now!” He closed his eyes, trying to calm himself. After a moment, helooked at Deriaz again.