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Adjudication - Part One

Author: 
littlefishh
Old Vault Category: 
fanfiction
Old Vault ID: 
503

01. Immured / Sune’s Selection

Adjudication

*littlefishh



This is madness.



There was no way that was ten minutes. No way at all. Audrinne had repeatedly ignored the loudspeakers warnings for twenty minutes, fifteen, ten; this was her first time at a gaming convention, and my no means was she going to let the Neverwinter exhibition slip through her fingers. Sure, the trickle of people in the room had slowed, but she didn’t think they’d actually lock the doors without first checking to see that everyone had left. She rattled the handles again. They were still locked.



What happened to five-minute warnings?



Then, the lights went off. She survived the brief moment of panic with a small squeak, and shook the handles a bit louder. They didn’t give any more than the first two times. She wished she would have noticed she was completely alone before she felt the awkwardness of it settle in—that’s when she moved for the door, only to find it locked. Now, she felt stupid and embarrassed as she looked around in the dimmed light, the only source of illumination now coming from the weak, small-bulbed case lights for the metal sword replica cases.



“Well, piss, what do I do now?” Audrinne checked for fire alarms or intercoms, but there was nothing; nothing accessible, at least, and she wasn’t willing to jar any of the exhibits to go search for them. She decided to just suck it up and wait it out. She dropped her dance bag on the floor, and carefully placed the prints she’d bought in the Artists’ Alley on top, making sue they wouldn’t wrinkle.



In any case, it gave her time and space to give the entire show a thorough going-over. She had always been a fan of the original Neverwinter but was unable to get a hold of the second one or its expansion, since her pay check left must to be desired. She was still young enough to ask for it for Christmas, but since her father’s death two years ago, she didn’t really feel like her mother was in a position to grant her that, either. Perhaps she could ask for it as a high school graduation present, however unsentimental.



She marvelled at all the new gadgets and pictures from the new game and cast nostalgic eyes on the crests of Maeviir and fake books of Halaster’s demented poetry. But she came to rest for a while in front of a fingerprinted glass case displaying—according to the card—the ‘Silver Sword of Gith’.



It was a beautiful thing, half sheathed in a scabbard of blue and silver. The blade was made of some sort of mirror with little electronic canals in it that glowed softly. She squinted at it for a moment. She thought she saw a crack along the sword’s dorsal edge, but she couldn’t tell if it was for real of if her vision was obscured by the many translucent swabs of human hand oils marring the outside of the case. She leaned in for a better look.



Then she noticed the metal clip along the bottom of the case. The security pin was not in place. As much as she wanted to throw the display wide open and take up the weapon, she was ill at ease breaking and entering as such. But, after long moments of internal warfare, she unhinged the clip, and swung the top off of the exhibit.



Free of any impurities caused by the glass, she now saw the thing in it’s full-glory; it shone like a midnight star against the latest of nights and glittered between her fingers as she reached for it. It was a lovely replica because it neither looked nor felt fake. She took a few pretend flourishes with it, as if to spar with an unseen enemy. When the guilt returned, she quickly replaced it back on its holdings, but did not close the case.



Audrinne walked back over to her pile of things, and leafed through the prints another time. She had bought one of Aribeth lunging with the Sword of Neverwinter, a second of a bust of the tiefling Valen Shadowbreath—whom she would secretly confess to having a crush on—and few from fledgling sketchers that had attempted to draw her with her fencing sword. She checked to make sure that the sheathed, twangy blade was still strapped to the underside of her dance bag. She ought to have bought a prettier one in the Dealer’s Room, but she wouldn’t turn eighteen until December.



She leaned back against the wall, her hand loosely curled over the hilt of her training sword. Hopefully this whole ordeal wouldn’t last long, and maybe she could sneak into one of the adult events going on after midnight. She closed her eyes and yawned generously, drifting into a light doze, her fingers drumming softly to the beat of her slowing heart.



- - - - -



Daeghun shook his head with displeasure. “I like it not, Goddess. I like it not. You have made a rather poor decision this time.”



“So you said of Demeter Bell, the hero of Waterdeep. I’ve learned not to trust your judgment, as you have always distrusted mine.” Daeghun shot her a mean look, but the Goddess only picked at her fingers. “For a loyal vanguard, you are quite the sceptic.”



“No, Goddess. My faith is undeniable. My understand of your methods is…disputable.”



“Trust me, Daeghun. I know what I am doing.”



“You choose a human? And one not of this world? There are many humans in Faerun, and many higher-blooded creatures too—“



“I need her the way she is.”



Daeghun was incredulous. “Our saviour is to be an extra planar human. Oh, Goddess…” He closed his eyes and almost whimpered. “She has no knowledge of this world, no magic or skill with a sword—“



The Goddess’ eyes flashed menacingly as she rolled them back in her head, looking away from the world at hand and into the scope of the universe. Sune smiled. “Oh, she has magic and swordsmanship, and so much more. You will see. I will take care of her.”



- - - - -



The Weeping Willow was not an old establishment, though it certainly looked it. It had borne the muddy winds blowing out from the Mere and sustained the hard rains of the wet seasons past, but the paint was peeling away in flecks of brown and white. Nowadays, entire palm-sized chunks would simply fall off of the place. The barkeep and owner discharged the two maintenance men, since repainting it every so often proved to be expensive and futile, preferring instead to let the building gain a homely aged appearance.



It had a wide, fenced-in front lawn that was spacious enough to have a tavern brawl yet small enough to keep out the wolves and lizardfolk that normally dwelt within the Mere. That was where Khelgar had found her, face down on the walking stones leading up to the creaky stairs.



She was a strange thing, this drunkard girl. Her hair was the usually blonde of evokers from the Many-Starred Cloak Enclave, complete with fresh toned skin and the emblem of Sune printed on her wrists. Though for an adventurer, she came poorly equipped; she wore no armor, and carried only a pink bag and plain, thin sword with her. The bag zipped shut and read ‘you’re a star!’ on the side in lower case white letters. It was glittery and attractive, but not something that should be carried around in a swamp. She wasn’t even slightly dirty as most were who ventured through the Mere…she just looked like she had been laying face down in a tavern’s yard for an hour or two.



Khelgar Ironfist had hauled her inside, and the barkeep took her upstairs to one of the rooms that drunken customers used after particularly rough nights. When he asked the dwarf what had happened, Khelgar tried to explain this story to the barkeep, but, seeing as he had just bloodied up two other patrons, it was not going well.



“So she was just lyin’ there?”



“Yeh! Jus’ lyin’ like a dead turtle. Was like that when I foun’ her.”



“And you fought these two other men and just let her sleep?”



“Well, there were makin’ me angry, callin’ me a weaklin’ n no Ironfist’ll stand ter be called a weaklin’, yeh know—“



“Right, right, but why didn’t you call me out or somethin’?”



“Oh, bollocks, I wasn’ thinkin’ a that when I was as angry as I was. Blast, I was ready ter give ‘em a good thumpin’ and by the gods I did!”



“You sure you didn’t just knock her out too?”



“For cryin’ out loud, man, I’d not be tellin’ yeh my sin n expect yeh to forgive me for it if I did ever lay hands on a woman!”



The barkeep shrugged in agreement, and knelt down to open her bag. The dwarf clapped a meaty hand on his shoulder. “Now that’s personal. I’d not be doin’ that, ‘specially to a woman. Leave her be n we can ask about her when she wakes.”



She was stirring on the sheets, rubbing her eyes as she squinted into the lights. Khelgar expected her to rub her temples as he usually did when he woke up hung over. But instead, she just sat straight up and looked down at the floorboards, dizzy. She exhaled sharply and mumbled, “I’m up, I’m up. I didn’t mean to fall asleep, but I was locked in. Don’t be upset, I can explain…”



“It’s not that urgent, milady,” the barkeep said politely, jumping to his feet and away from the bag. “Are you alright?”



“Yeah, a little cramped from sleeping on the floor, but I’m okay.” She was rubbing her eyes vigorously and blinking around a lot. She was very cute.



“Is that what you were doin’? I’d sworn you looked plumb drunk n passed out in this fella’s courtyard.”



She laughed to herself. “Hell, no. I’m seventeen. Under age.” She looked up at the barkeep expectantly, regaining her manners. “I hope I haven’t caused any trouble. I think this was all a huge misunderstanding.”



Her smiled. “No, no, not at all. Like Khelgar said, you just looked… ah…a little more than inebriated.”



Her eyes fell to the dwarf, and stayed there, swelling like raindrops. He glared at her. “Yeh, I’m a bit short, what of it? I just creamed three men at once, n I’m sure you’d be no problem, honey.”



The barkeep kicked him lightly, and the girl’s jar dropped. Khelgar’s glare became more intense. “Alrigh’, that’s just plain rude. Imna leave before she starts sayin anythin’.”



“That’s not what I meant, sir! I have never in my entire life seen a being like you, please excuse my rudeness,” she mumbled quickly, extending a hand in his direction. He slowed and turned back around with a malicious frown. She coughed, and asked, “Where am I, exactly?”



“Exactly? You are in the Weeping Willow, an honorable tavern just eight miles outside of Crossroad Keep and six from Old Owl Well.”



“Forty-four from Neverwinter and one hunnerd and eighty six from Waterdeep,” the dwarf said, warming slightly under her stare. “What part of the country you from? You look like yeh came straight outta Blacklake.”



“Blacklake?”



“District of Neverwinter?”



“Neverwinter?” She sounded incredulous. “Waterdeep…”



“You’re from Waterdeep?”



“No, I’m from Corsica, but I moved to San Francisco when I was thirteen. I was born in Meria, on Cap Corse, Italy—“



“Corsica, eh? Is that in Faerun?”



Wonder crossed her face now. “Oh, my stars. I’m in Faerun. Oh, goodness…Faerun. Ha! That’s a long way from Corsica.” She put her head back in her hands.



“You alrigh’, madam?”



“Yeah,” she said groggily. “I’m not sure if I should be overjoyed or absolutely terrified. Long, long way from Corsica…”



“You gotta name?”



She looked back at him and grinned sheepishly. “Audrinne.”



“Audrinne, eh? Well, come on downstairs n I’ll buy yeh a drink. Bring your things. We can discuss repayment for your rudeness, hmm?”



He and the barkeep were already starting out the door, so she gathered her things. Khelgar’s axe was clinking lightly against the linked mail and it’s back straps, and his greaves were making loud metallic noises as he plodded down the stairs. She threaded her thin sword through one of her belt loops, and felt significantly more in place with the rest of the tavern folk.



Most paid her no mind and continued drinking or flirting with the few courtesans present. They were drunk enough to see them as attractive; Audrinne found them repulsive, mere piles of flesh and make-up. Khelgar nudges her playfully. “That one there—her names Tessa. She into bondage.”



“Ugh. Why are you telling me this? That’s more than I ever wanted to know.”



The dwarf laughed heartily, and shoved a flagon of foaming ale her direction. The barkeep swept his three coins off the bar front, and leaned forward so as to hear their conversation. Khelgar chugged half a pint and eyed Audrinne suspiciously. “What’s yer trade?”



She was a bit preoccupied looking at the busty women dancing on the tables, but his question brought her to attention. “Trade? Well, I’m not really into anything just yet. I had a few months of school left so…”



“You go to school at the Academy, huh? You must know Neverwinter really well, right?”



“I don’t go to the Academy, per se. I guess I went vicariously. But I do know Neverwinter really well.”



“Did you study abroad, maybe?” the barkeep ventured. Audrinne caught the vibe that they weren’t understanding her, and, based off of Khelgar’s face, thought she had hit her head on her apparent fall in the courtyard. She took a deep breath and tried to formulate a parallelism that would make sense but still be truthful.



“I’m from Italy, which is very, very far away from Faerun. I don’t think you can sail there, and I’m having a hard time figuring out how I got here. But, while I was in Italy, I studied all about the Plague of Neverwinter and a little about the Undermountain thing in Waterdeep.”



The barkeep’s face lit up. “Ah, yes! The great Demeter Bell, hero of Neverwinter and Waterdeep…my daughter is a huge fan. Ever read the epic poem by that kobold—“



“Deekin? Yes.” She almost blurted out that she had vicariously traveled with him too, but she managed to button it behind her lips. She imagined that she’d be doing a lot of that if she wanted to get through this without everyone thinking she was an absolute lunatic.



Khelgar returned to the question at hand. “So what’re yeh trained in? How d’yeh get aroun’?”



A heat washed over Demeter as she remembered her training sword strapped under her bag. She could fence with the best of them; perhaps she did have a chance in this world. With this new security came an awful gut-clenching feeling that she had a purpose here, like she had been selected.



“Y’alrigh’?”



“Yes, yes,” she said, moving for her sword. She unclipped it and slid the plastic sheath off, laying it on the counter with a careful awkwardness. “I fence,” she said simply.



“A duelis’!” Khelgar exclaimed. “Oh, n I’d though’ yeh were a sorcerer from the hair n skin n mark a’ Sune.”



“Mark of who?”



“Sune,” the dwarf said, motioning towards the lip of her shirt. She pulled it down some, and she saw it; a smooth fiery red tattoo planted on her left breast, just beneath her clavicle. It was of a beautiful woman with flailing red locks and burning grey eyes. “Goddess a’ love n passion n all that. You must be a vestal a’ Sune, since she has a lot of pretty little things runnin’ aroun’ all branded like that.”



Audrinne had no explanation for it, so she simply nodded and covered it back up. Khelgar paid the barkeep for another pint. “I’m on my way to Neverwinter to see th’ monasteries. Wanna be a monk. Maybe we could go together, if you’ve got business there?”



The barkeep smiled and reached beneath the bar top for something. He produced a swaddled wrap of torn linens. “Maybe you could run an errand for me, if you two are going to Neverwinter.” He lightly tapped the package on the counter. “My brother runs another tavern in the Docks District—the Sunken Flagon—and I’ve been meaning to get these to him for a while now.”



She wrestled the knots out of the fabric and gasped at what lay within. Two slivers of a mirrored silver rested on the tangle of cloth, shining brilliantly in the gloom of the bar. She had seen them before, in the museum, though they had been part of that Sword…



That feeling of selection overcame her again, and she turned a bit pale. She wadded them up in the material again and smiled. “Sure, we’ll take them,” she said with a sickly grin. “But could you maybe take that as payment for the drinks? I didn’t even drink mine and I’m out of money…”



“I was payin’ anyways,” the dwarf said, following it with a burp. “But yeh, just for that, n we can be on our way.”



“Sure, no problem.”



She hitched her bag onto her shoulder, and Khelgar downed the remainder of his ale. He held the door open to her and she walked through, taking in a whiff of the salt-soaked marsh air. The barkeep followed them out, cleaning Khelgar’s mug with a dirty rag. “Yep. That’s the Mere we know and love. Be careful, both of you. Don’t get her lost, Khelgar.”



“Yeh, yeh, sure.”



Audrinne summoned her courage, and put her shoe to the trail, smiling to herself. This certainly was the best museum she’d ever visited.



- - - - -



The barkeep waited until the pair were out of sight before calling out to no one, “Goddess, I require you.”



A loud crack echoed down around him, and a voice hummed, “Oh, Daeghun, you know I do not bend to the will of mortals; rather, they to mine, as you have so excellently done.”



A beautiful fire-haired maiden stood before him, the pale daylight shimmering across her diaphanous gown. It was as if Audrinne’s tattoo had jumped out of her skin. Sune was a strange Goddess to so actively dabble in the mortal affairs of Faerun, but that was what made her famous: her whimsical, capricious nature to constantly work out the kinks in her divine power. Nevertheless, Daeghun only obeyed her because he trusted her expanded viewpoint over his moral compass; otherwise, he would have shut himself away in the Mere.



“I have done as you have asked, Goddess,” he said bitterly. “Now explain this to me, as you have promised.”



“Patience is a virtue, Daeghun,” she said with a wicked smile.



“One you do not prize out of curiosity,” he said crossly. She stuck her tongue out at him.



“You really must trust me more, Daeghun,” the Goddess said. “But, as promised, I shall explain. She told you she was from Corsica?”



“Yes, Corsica, Italy. Where is Italy?”



“On another world, not of Toril. Ao granted me access to this world out of fondness alone.” She clutched her heart. “A prayer to you, Lord Ao.”



Daeghun did the same, and Sune continued on. “I took her from a world that has knowledge of ours, but does not actually think it exists. It is a rather sad world, consisting wholly of humans. They fight constantly. She is doing better in this world than I had envisioned, but I imagine the nostalgia shall set in momentarily.”



“And you could not find a single soul in Toril that would accomplish this task like the Corsican?”



“No. You will see why. In the mean time, the King of Shadows is amassing an army, one more powerful than any that exist or could exist, assuming the city-states would align themselves properly. A Silver Sword is among you, Daeghun, and she is one of them.”



Daeghun was stunned. “How? I had the shards from the Shattering…if she is truly extraplanar, how could she…?”



“I took one long ago, and saved it, hoping that the sword could never be reassembled without all of it’s parts, but I have learned that it can be partially assembled, and that is all that the King of Shadows will need to use this against you.” Her eyes darkened for her solemnity. “I hid the shard on this human world, but now I must call it forth; she is the shard. It his buried within her breast.”



“How?”



“I placed it there; her fate is sealed. She is your only hope, and she will be a great one, rise or fall.”



“You are not even sure if you selected a true hero?!”



“I selected a hero, Daeghun. Even one from this world would still potentially fail. I greatly reduced those odds by pulling her from Italy.” The Goddess glared at him. “You must stand behind her, Daeghun. She has nothing in this world except for me and you.”



“And if I do not?”



“I shall speak to Chauntea and you sha’nt see a thing grow in the Mere for a thousand years.”



Daeghun grimaced. “Alright. I trust you, Sune. But do not make me regret it.”



“I sha’nt, dear Daeghun. I sha’nt.”





Adjudication -- Part I © littlefishh

Migrate Wizard: 
First Release: 
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