A/N: So…. An update finally? Yep. I'm really sorry but there's not much I can really say. I just wanted to say that it's been so long since I've started this and I hope I've improved in writing (I've certainly changed). Also…. It's been a long time since I read the first chapters but I'm just going to continue on continuing on. Hopefully the quality improves and I'm sorry for any inconsistencies in the plot/characters.
Morgan watched Madison as they waited. Ryld and Hune had left to scout out Zammzt in the common room of the inn once they had rested for about an hour, leaving the two sisters alone. Madison hadn't spoken to her since their half-conversation in Spanish, and Morgan assumed it was because she was nervous. Morgan couldn't really tell if that was true just by looking at her little sister, however. Madison was largely apathetic about many things, and even when she wasn't, she was still frustratingly blank-looking most of the time. That was, when she wasn't obviously having some anxiety problem.
Thinking about Madison made Morgan nervous. Of course Madison was nervous. Who wouldn't be? They were about to go to a House which would become a literal death trap in addition to being filled with people who most likely wanted to murder them. Oh. And the whole city was about to become a war zone. And then a crater. The drow barely make it out of there alone; how would Morgan and her sisters possibly manage? Maybe the males would protect them, but Morgan wasn't stupid enough to believe that drow would risk their lives for humans or that getting new, cheap gear would be enough to protect them. They were all going to die.
"Madison, how are we going to get out of this?"
Madison looked at Morgan, annoyingly still expressionless. "This? Do you mean the city or this world?"
Morgan sighed in irritation. Somehow Madison made her even more anxious and depressed with only a few words. "Either," Morgan spat out in growing despair.
"I don't know. Let's stay close to Ryld. He seems our best bet."
Morgan raised her eyebrow. "Ryld? Not Hune? I thought you liked the scout better."
"That's not why. Ryld will just be easier to stay close to in battle. Hune magically skips all over the place," Madison quietly explained, quickly glancing at the closed door to make sure that the two males weren't returning and hadn't heard.
Morgan rolled her eyes when she saw Madison's faint smile when talking about Hune. Her crush had been weird when he was just a minor character in a book; Now that the situation was what it was, the infatuation was wildly inappropriate for about a million reasons.
"He's too short."
Madison smiled and faked an offended posture, drawing back slightly as if in shock. "Yeah, well, I'm not short enough to need a tall guy to compensate."
Hardly surprised by the short joke, Morgan found herself actually laughing. It was nice to have a brief distraction from their impending, horrible deaths. A very brief distraction. "Shut up, Madison. I don't always like tall guys."
Madison just gave her a disbelieving look. Even Morgan knew she was lying, but she liked the attention and focus being on her. Besides, it was interesting to examine her own preferences. Her little sister rolled her eyes.
Morgan sighed, "Let's come up with a plan. Can we just stay in the inn room so that we don't have to die horribly in that house?"
Madison shook her head. "I'm pretty sure people will break into our rooms, right? That's why Pharaun gets shot with that arrow? Or bolt? Was it poisoned? I can't remember."
"Who cares," Morgan huffed.
Madison gave her a firm look. "There are few people here that are more likely to end up helping us, and he is one of them."
"He's a snake. He won't help us any more than any of the rest of them. Besides, it won't matter when we're dead," Morgan grumbled, crumpling up into a little ball of despair on the floor.
"Hune and Ryld aren't bad, and you're only angry that Pharaun's been hanging out with Mel." Madison said, shaking Morgan's limp despair heap.
That got Morgan angry. Pharaun had been her favorite first. "He can do whatever he wants, but Melanie's an idiot for trusting him at all." Morgan made sure her tone ended the conversation and so they sat there in anger induced silence.
There were a few things Pharaun knew for certain at this moment. The first was that he was as prepared as he could be, given the circumstances. He had studied the spells he thought appropriate, and without knowing the future couldn't do better than that. Apparently, even a human who claimed to know the future couldn't help him much with that. Not that Pharaun was surprised by Melanie's lack of knowledge. He first suspected it quite some time ago and was a little proud to be the first to notice it.
The next thing he knew he had discovered from watching Melanie. Whatever trap they were about to walk into was a serious one. Melanie's demeanor was that of a caged animal awaiting a prolonged death. Perhaps it was a good sign that she despaired. Not for their larger situation, of course, but only the intelligent know when to accept that they've been beaten. Obviously, if Melanie was showing this intelligence, she still lacked the wherewithal to strategize instead of plodding ahead to death, but she was still just a human. Pharaun was impressed with her, given that parameter.
Pharaun looked up calmly from his spellbook as the door to the bedroom opened, interrupting the long, mental list of things he knew. He had heard Ryld and Valas coming down the hall for quite some time, since they brought the two other human women with them. It was hard to imagine a loud human, if these girls were considered quiet by human standards.
"Perfect timing. I've just finished preparing myself," Pharaun said, "How went your endeavours?"
Before Ryld or Valas could reply, Morgan spoke up, much to Pharaun's annoyance, "I don't know. Do they still look injured?"
Pharaun had to admit he didn't fully comprehend this human. Then again, how could a wizard of his caliber truly understand this level of stupidity. Pharaun himself was sassy and disrespectful, sure, but he had the skill to back up his words. What made this human think that she could talk to Pharaun that way? Did she erroneously think herself so valuable to the party? Everytime she opened her mouth, Pharaun grew to dislike her more.
Both of Morgan's sisters gave her little, disapproving looks, but neither of them put her in her place. Oh, how human culture was different than drow. Maybe the disrespectful human was irritating, but the thing that truly irked Pharaun was Ryld's amusement. Valas was, as usual, neutral, but, once again, Ryld took humor in a subcreature mocking Pharaun. What were long-term companions and allies good for if not defending Pharaun's position? Clearly, Ryld knew this human to be a joke and that Pharaun could defend himself against the worst of threats, but some occasional show from Ryld to put Morgan in her place would be enjoyable.
"Seeing that they are healed does not tell me exactly what happened." Pharaun added a subtle hint of condescending tones to his statement. Perhaps he didn't need to demean a lesser creature's already inferior intelligence, but he was annoyed.
"We took two potions from Quentel's pack," Ryld cut in, "Another bit of good news you can tell her next we see her."
Pharaun laughed, "A small price to pay to have our two warriors back in fighting shape." Maybe if he showed Ryld support, Ryld would finally start to show some back.
Getting only slightly more serious, Pharaun continued, "I suppose we are ready to go, then?"
Valas nodded. "I took a look around the inn. Our escort appears to be alone, and I didn't find anything suspicious about him so far."
Madison uncharacteristically chuckled a little bit before saying, "Except that he's a half-shadow-dragon-thing working with Jaezred Chaulssin to destroy the city."
Pharaun smiled as if he already knew. "Except that."
Ryld didn't hide his surprise, despite most likely knowing as little as Pharaun did about the whole topic. "Should we be overly concerned?" It was likely he was asking only about their safety. Pharaun doubted quite strongly that he cared about the city in the slightest.
Madison shrugged nervously. Was she worried about giving an incorrect answer or was she trying to lie? She said, "It makes leaving the city dangerous, but from what I know everything turns out fairly well. You three are safe along with Quenthel and Jeggred."
Not extremely well if those other two make it out, is it? Pharaun shook off his thoughts with an amused smirk. "Right then. I suggest we head out as quickly as possible then."
Pharaun didn't miss the look that Valas and Ryld exchanged as he lead the group down to the common room. They were undoubtedly preparing themselves to manage the ground situation that was sure to develop. After all, it's hard to keep oneself alive in a situation like this. Three additional burdens would be almost absolutely unmanageable.
Morgan struggled to understand why they were walking directly into what they knew was a trap without supplies and for the promise of no reward. Great. They would save Quenthel and Jeggred. Perfect. Everyone wanted them along anyway.
The streets were horrible. The amount of people and outbursts from the crowd was getting ridiculous, and Morgan hated getting shoved into side streets and grabbed by Ryld to be levitated suddenly. Even if it was to avoid getting into fights or getting swept away by the mobs, she didn't like feeling helpless to the point where she couldn't even control where she was going by herself. Worse, she was smashed up against Madison since Ryld had to somehow carry both of them up the webs of streets. Punish the warrior for being the strong one.
Possibly worst of all, Melanie and Pharaun were levitating partners. Morgan didn't like the idea of letting the mage manipulate his way into their little trust trio. He couldn't be trusted, and Melanie's lack of common sense frustrated Morgan endlessly.
It was truly as if both her sisters had lost their minds. All Madison did was watch Hune go through his extradimensional doorways and walk down the street dreamily, and all Melanie did was smile at Pharaun.
Morgan's angry walking was suddenly stopped again by Ryld's arm wrapping around her waist. "Last jump," Ryld said with what might have been a hint of courtesy instead of just informing them.
"Thankfully," Morgan huffed. Maybe she sounded ungrateful to Ryld, which she wasn't, but she wasn't really all that grateful about the situation in general. At least the amount of people and creatures was decreasing as they went up and the quality of the architecture was increasing. If masses hanging from webs was high quality building. They were certainly getting richer at least.
Ryld didn't say anything in response, and Morgan was starting to grow a bit bored. Levitating was a pretty slow thing, and the streets were pretty high up. She wanted to talk, but she didn't know what to talk to Ryld about and didn't want to just talk to Madison awkwardly excluding Ryld who was very close and would definitely hear the whole thing if she tried. She looked at Madison to find that her little sister was already staring at her, radiating the same awkward energy that there seemed to be no escape from.
Morgan felt Ryld look around a little before he broke the silence himself. "Keep your heads down and do what Pharaun, Valas, and I tell you. Don't expect that you can fight now just because we bought you weapons."
Morgan nodded, "I didn't think we could." She was surprised that he said any of that at all. Sure, it was logical and made sense if things were to go smoothly, but he could also just abandon them and let them die. It was probably just duty, though.
They touched down after a few more moments of silence following the advice, and Morgan breathed a sigh of relief as Ryld released her. Madison was also quick to reestablish her personal space as they continued to walk for what seemed forever before they finally reached what Zammzt declared was House Melarn. Literally it was a giant, menacing rock blob hanging above and below the street level. Morgan hated this city.