The Leaky Dinghy is far roomier inside than its outward appearance. It’s a rather shabby place, but at least it’s clean. The day Wuldin escorted me through its doors there were only a few patrons inside. A Brother Callaway, a dark-skinned fair-haired fellow, glanced up from the book he was reading when we walked in. He grunted at my dwarf companion and said, “The Sot’s in the back.”
“We’re not here for that”, responded Wuldin with an embarrassed grimace.
Noticing that I was with the stout dwarf he hurriedly uttered, “Oh, my mistake.” The man wore the garb of what I’d later learn was the Order of the Silver Flame.
Wuldin spotted the man he’d brought me to meet seated at a heavy wooden table. He bade me to follow him and I obliged. A hearty sea tune was being played by someone on a string instrument. Oddly, I didn’t see the musician.
The man we came to stand before was no man at all, but an elf. He was wearing a light green tunic and brown leggings and he appeared inebriated. A great goblet of wine sat on the table before him.
“I’d begun to think you’d changed your mind, dwarf”, the elf hissed without removing his gaze from the table.
“I, ah, wasn’t able to find anyone interested in assisting me. Until this lass came along, that is.”
The elf, the first I’d ever laid eyes on, looked up at me and smiled. He was devilishly handsome with fine narrow features and a crooked mouth. Blonde bangs fell to either side of almond-shaped grayish-blue eyes. I inadvertently sucked in my breath under his gaze. He was that charismatic.
“Oh, I see. Have you explained to this brave woman what services I’m in need of?”
Wuldin replied, “I have not. I thought it better for her to hear it from you herself, sir.”
The elf raised the goblet to his lips and drank. He settled back against the high-backed wooden bench he lounged on and bade us to sit across from him. We did.
“House Phiarlan, of whom myself and my family are employed, desires very much an artifact that a fellow named Osgood is in possession of. This Osgood is planning on loading the trinket onto a barge this very night and sending it away. We need someone to acquire it for us before he does.”
The elf paused and asked, “There are only two of you? Is there someone else you’re going to bring along?”
“No, sir. I wasn’t able to find anyone else willing.”
“That won’t do. The artifact is in this Osgood fellow’s basement and he’s sure to have it guarded.”
The comely elf took a long pull on his wine and asked, “Do you mind if I send someone along with you? She has some experience in matters such as these and she’s adept with a blade.”
“Aye, I’ve no problem with it”, said the dwarf. He looked at me. I just shrugged.
“Right. When darkness falls and the moon is up, you’ll meet her at the entrance to Osgood’s basement. He pulled a scrap of parchment from his tunic and scrawled us a crude map. The basement wasn’t far from the Leaky Dinghy.
The elf continued. “Retrieve the artifact and then bring it straight here to me. Understand?”
We both nodded.
“When you return to me, I will reward you for your service to House Phiarlan. If you fail, the artifact will be loaded onto Osgood’s transport and be lost to us forever. Please do not fail.” He smiled wanly and returned his eyes to the table and his drink. “Vannick will no doubt be pleased to see you. You’ve over an hour til sundown. ‘Til we meet again.”
And with that we were dismissed. We stood and Wuldin led me to the rear of the tavern. When his friend Vannick the Sot, a dwarf as well, saw him approaching he let out a heartfelt yell and shouted at the barkeep to bring mead and ale over.
At nightfall we were ready. Neither of us had drank much. We were too excited. Wuldin said his goodbyes to the now-drunk Vannick and we left the tavern and walked out into a starry night.
We traveled down the stairs to the now quiet docks and followed the elf’s map to a door at the base of a giant ramp that led up to the city above us. It appeared to be either a very large home or a warehouse. We saw no one near the doorway so we approached.
From out of the shadows stepped a lithe figure in black leather armor. Her skin was translucent and fair and her long hair shone purplish in the starlight. In a hushed whisper we heard her say, “I, Mirrix Ilagofor, was sent by Shir Clowenks d’Phiarlan to guide you. Are you ready to steal an artifact?”
She was a tall drow elf. Wuldin’s eyes were as wide as mine as we looked at each other and wondered what quandary we’d gotten ourselves into.