This is a short story, set in the same world as our Tides of Power D&D campaign, El’dran’gliel, following a character our party hasn’t met yet, but may in future. It doesn’t necessarily explain everything that’s happening, and it’s not supposed to. It’s also the first short story I’ve written in years, so hopefully I’ll improve in future stories. Enjoy!
Xyrrieth gave their brother a big hug, slapped him on the back, and jumped from the deck of the Shadow Dancer on to the shore, looking around in the afternoon sun. “Best tavern in town these days?” They addressed one of the sailors working at the docks, holding out a gold coin. “The Odd Crystal, be your best bet sir.” Xyrrieth nods to the sailor as he takes the coin, before moving on, into the heart of the city, looking for the tavern.
The Odd Crystal was a two-storied building a street or two away from the central square. It was nice. Clean. Xyrrieth sauntered in to the building, and went up to the bar. “A flagon of your best, and a pointer as to the best place to catch up on the local rumours, at your earliest convenience, friend.” The elf slid several gold onto the bar and waited. The gold was rapidly replaced by a drink, and a point towards a noisy table almost by the door. “My thanks, friend.”
They took their drink and walked over to the indicated table, grabbing a chair as they went, spinning it, and sitting with the back of the chair in front of them. They swig from the drink and slam it on the table. “Good afternoon, friends. I hope you don’t mind me joining you for a drink.” They take a sip, and looked around at the table. One of them, a red-faced, slightly beery elf, leaned forward, incredulous. “Who in the Hells are you to just invite yourself to our table with no introduction, and why shouldn’t we send you back out the door right now?”
Xyrrieth grinned. “Well, you make a fair point. My name is Xyrrieth Moongrove, I’m in town for a few days, wanted to catch up on all the local news, heard you were the ones to talk to. As for sending me out the door, well, you’re welcome to try.” They grinned, and waited.
A few hours and several drinks later, Xyrrieth had the information they wanted, and more besides. They wished their newfound friends a pleasant evening, and headed out into the evening, looking for their target.
The house they sought was comfortably small, with a light on in a room near the front. Xyrrieth waited. As the sky got darker, there was movement inside the house. The occupant moved around, then up, then the lights went dark. Xyrrieth continued to wait, just in case.
Eventually, they decided it was time to approach. They moved silently, looking for a way in. Curtains covered every window, none of them open. The elf scowled, looked up and around, and suddenly appeared on a nearby roof, before vanishing again.
Now inside, they looked through the house, seeking out the proof they needed. They found it in a journal, not even hidden, as they had expected. It started simply enough, but over the last 5 weeks, the text descended into a scrawl of runes that Xyrrieth had come to recognise, though they had yet to properly learn the language.
Xyrrieth sighed, and looked up towards the bedroom. Their brother was much better at getting information from people.
Xyrrieth left the way he had come in, and looked to the north-west. They were a few days ahead, but this was not an insurmountable lead. Xyrrieth moved fast.
There were 4 of them. A couple of them reminded Xyrrieth of their sisters in how they moved and carried themselves. One seemed to be some sort of mage. One had a religious symbol around his neck, looked to be of Adriasteia. None of them seemed likely to present a challenge.
Xyrrieth waited until they were setting up camp for the night, and found a place out of the firelight, where they seemingly melted into the darkness and vanished.
“What is your intention at the temple of the moon?”
The group scrambled to their feet, grabbing at weapons, the thief-type already on their feet with blades in hand. The priest called out.
“Who’s there? Show yourself!”
“What is your intention at the temple of the moon? I will not ask a second time.”
The wizard answered, sounding nervous.
“We’re just exploring, heard there was a ruin, thought there might be something interesting there.”
“It is not a ruin, but I cannot permit you to enter the heart and damage what is kept there.”
“Wait, so there’s definitely something valuable there then?”
The shady-looking character spoke up now, before being waved aside by the one person who had not yet spoken.
“Hold on, hold on. Who in the hells are you. We’ll not be given instructions by some phantom in the dark. Show yourself, or begone.”
“If you continue with intent to enter the temple, I will be forced to stop you.”
Xyrrieth moved silently away, climbing effortlessly into one of the trees, and settled down to wait. The conversation within the group was split. The mage and the thief seemed to be very interested in whatever valuables might be contained within, though the mage seemed apprehensive. The armoured lady and the priest seemed much more cautious, wanting to know how they had been found. It seemed they did not overly trust their original employer.
After minutes of discussion and argument, the group around the fire decided to continue on, albeit with extreme caution. Xyrrieth sighed. Their friends would have done the same back in the day, but it made what was to follow inevitable. They checked their equipment, and settled in to rest.
Morning came, the sunlight filtering through the canopy of the trees, the party waking and preparing to travel onwards. They looked around carefully, looking for anyone observing them. None of them thought to look up, but even if they had, they wouldn’t have seen anything. As they started heading onwards into the jungle, the elf watching them quietly drew their blade.
It began from above, Xyrrieth descending behind the mage, drawing a line with the blade straight down her back, before taking another swipe across the shoulders. The mage let out a soft yelp, and crumpled to the floor.
“I warned you to turn back.”
The thief spun round and immediately launched a blade towards Xyrrieth’s neck, but it whistled past. The soldier swung twice, clipping the elf slightly on the second pass. The elf smirked. “Very good, but it’s not about any single hit, it’s about who gets the last hit.” A shimmer of force covered the soldier, as the priest muttered something behind them.
Xyrrieth assessed the force, shrugged, and attacked twice more, leaving significant slashes across the armour, before twisting and launching two punches towards a softer part of the armour, under the arm. They landed one, but the soldier twisted out of the way at the last moment for the second.
A crossbow bolt flew towards them, the thief having apparently abandoned daggers. Almost faster than sight, Xyrrieth’s hand moved, and the bolt was flying towards the priest instead. It impacted and he froze in place, as the soldier slashed several more times, landing a couple of hits.
The sword returned to the elf’s side, and with one swift force, their fist cracked against the side of the soldier’s helmet. Before his body even hit the floor, they were next to the thief. Three more jabs went into the thief, and she crumpled to the floor.
Xyrrieth walked over to the priest, and gently pulls the arrow free. They smell it before tossing it aside. Poisoned, evidently.
“Your friends will be fine. A little sore when they recover, but otherwise fine. Killing you all would be… regrettable.”
“Who in the heavens are you?”
“You can call me Moongrove. I am duty-bound to protect the anchors of these temples. And though I would not wish to cut short the career of a promising group of adventurers such as I once was, my duty comes first. Therefore, I suggest you pick a different temple to ransack.”
“What about our employer, we’re meant to go back to them empty-handed?”
“Your employer is dead. Move on. Somewhere else. Next time, we will not have this conversation.”
Xyrrieth turned and walked away.