The Long Road to Ruin Ch. 08byLady_Blackhawk©
Disclaimer: This fanfic is based off the Neverwinter Nights community module by the name of "A Dance with Rogues" created by Valine. I fell in love with this story and felt compelled to write something that compliments it. This story is rated Mature (NC-17) for explicit content and graphic violence. All characters except Shiloh, Bastian, Rhys, Nicca, Narev and Essex are property of Valine.
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A Jaunt Through the Sewers
Shiloh slept unusually late the next morning. She didn't want to get up out of bed and face the day, but she knew she had lessons to complete. Begrudgingly, she sat up and stretched. Noting a fresh pitcher of water on top of her armoire, she quickly bathed and dressed herself in the pretty blue dress she had made for herself and grabbed the picks and cloak Caron had supplied her with. She quickly combed out her long blond hair, pulling it back with a strip of leather. Then she pulled on her stockings and shoes and checked her appearance in one of Chella's mirrors.
Numerous thoughts filled her mind. She knew she needed to complete the stealth lesson and the pickpocket lesson. That was first and foremost on her list of things to do today. Perhaps she should head down to the docks. A smile crossed her face. She hoped she would see Rhys. How wonderful it would be to spend an hour indulging in his generous affection. She stifled a groan as she felt herself become wet with want.
Leaving her bedroom, she entered the kitchen and went to the table. A covered plate of food sat in its usual place. She sat down before it and picked up an eating utensil. It was then she remembered her daily root. She skipped back to her room to get it and consumed it before she returned to the table to devour her breakfast. Chella smiled at her and motioned to her to eat everything on the plate. This time, Shiloh did not have to be told twice. She dug into the hearty repast with much alacrity.
She put for empty plate aside to be washed and said her greetings to everyone else in the kitchen. She noticed Trissa's glare again.
"What, Trissa?" Shiloh asked, shooting a defiant scowl back at the older girl.
Trissa cornered her. "I told you to stay away from Caron! You had better stop tempting him with your shamelessness. Vico told me what you did, luring Caron into the sewers. Vico was furious with Caron and threatened to put a permanent stop to it. We all know what that means," the girl hissed.
"And how is that different from you luring Caron behind the crates?" Shiloh retorted. "Have done, stupid wench. Caron does not like you. He told me so. Why don't you coax Vico behind the crates since you seem to be attached at the hip to him and everything he says? I will do whatever I please with whomever I please and there is not a damn thing you or Vico can do about it. Got that, sugar pie?"
Trissa's face turned red with indignation, "You slut! I will do something about it. You just wait." Trissa stamped her foot and huffed away.
Shiloh let out a mocking laugh and walked out of the kitchen. She entered the hallway in time to see Caron coming down the stairs from Master Nathan's office. She leveled upon him a bright smile. He approached her quickly. "Hey there, beautiful," he quipped with his usual devil-may-care grin.
"Good morning, Caron. How are you this day?"
"Excellent, if I may say so myself. Master Nathan has given me a special task so it is imperative that I focus on it." Caron replied confidently.
"He'll tell you about it soon enough. Never fear, sweet Shiloh. He told me I could earn my own abode once the task is complete. I would love to have you over for a housewarming celebration," he waggled his eyebrows.
"I would love too. Better make it quick and oh yeah, make sure the door has a good strong lock to keep unwanted assholes out," Shiloh rolled her eyes.
Caron chuckled and touched her face with his hand. She smiled at him sweetly and leaned against his chest. "There is nothing I wouldn't do for you," he murmured before lowering his lips to capture hers. The soft kiss lasted for what seemed like an eternity. Shiloh sank into his embrace, loving the feel of his strong arms surrounding her. He groaned against her mouth and pulled back. "You don't make it easy on a guy to focus, do you?"
She flashed him a sweet, innocent look. "Me? Well, I never...." she quipped and let loose a laugh.
"That makes me the lucky one then." He rested against a crate. "What do you have planned for today?"
"I have decided to work on my stealth lesson," she replied, rolling her eyes.
"I see that you have the cloak I gave you. That will come in handy and help shield you from unfriendly eyes. You will have to walk as quietly as possible, though. The key is to not shuffle your feet. Lift them up and carefully place each foot. It helps to use the ball of your foot. That should cut down on noise and don't be in a hurry either," he advised her.
"Oh thank you, Caron," Shiloh bubbled, bouncing around him.
"Anytime, beautiful. It's a good thing I caught you before you set out because I am sure you would not want to be caught by anyone else!"
"That's for sure. So I shall see you later, right? Oh maybe we can have dinner together?"
"I'd like that."
Shiloh smiled and quickly left Caron and The Bear Pit behind. The destination she had in mind was the docks in South Betancuria. She hastened her step, keeping a watchful eye out for Rhys or even Ashur. She spotted them at the end of a long pier working a block and pulley system to load oversized crates onto a large cargo vessel. She sighed, realizing they were too busy at the moment. It would not be wise to disturb them, though she allowed herself a few moments to watch them work. She flicked her eyes over Rhys very slowly, admiring the muscles of his bare chest. He was so gorgeous and she felt quite fortunate that she had come to know him so intimately. She knew if she needed a place to hide, or ever needed a place to go, that Rhys would be there for her. He promised to protect her.
She continued down the dock until she reached the Swordfish. She halted her steps again in order to admire Rhys a few moments longer. Her eyes drank every inch of him in. She smiled as she watched the rippling of his muscles. She could tell he was no stranger to hard manual labor.
Rhys must have felt her eyes upon him, for he turned and waved at her. She waved back and took a few more steps down the sidewalk before a hard-faced bald-headed tattooed dock worker dressed in red and blue pinched her bottom. She let out a yelp and glared at him.
"Wanna see a big pole, sweetie?" He made an obscene gesture and cupped his crotch.
"I am not that kind of girl," Shiloh retorted as she remembered Rhys' warning to stay away from the others down here at the docks.
He sneered at her. "Stupid no-good stuck-up slut. I know for a fact you ARE that kind of girl. You's been messin' with Rhys and you's acts like yer too good for me. Let me tell ye a thing or two. Rhys got his self a little wifey and a passel of brats over there in the western part of the city."
Shiloh shrugged her shoulders. "So what? Like I care? Maybe I don't like the looks of you?" She turned on her heel and dashed away, heading for the warehouse at the end of the docks. Master Nathan had told her that she would find Master Drago here. She opened the door and noticed the two workers inside stopped to stare at her. The one in the back of the room hustled over to her. He looked her up and down.
"Sluts like ye have no place here," he warned before he went back about his business.
Shiloh made a kissy face at him and approached the younger man who had stopped to stare at her. She smiled at him sweetly.
"Hey, what brings you in here, coozie?"
She flashed her most winning smile at him. "Perhaps you can help me," she purred and gave him a nice look at her cleavage.
He cleared his throat and stared for a moment. "Twould be my pleasure," he looked her up and down quite thoroughly.
"I am looking for someone," she batted her eyelashes at him and giggled girlishly.
"Aren't we all, sweetie," he replied, taking the bait she dangled before him.
"I'm looking for somebody called Drago. He's supposed to work here."
The blond haired man shook his head at her. "Never heard anything about a Drago, honey. You're obviously looking in the wrong place."
"Oh," she sighed dejectedly. Shiloh tapped her foot on the wooden floor. Why had Master Nathan sent her here and told her she'd find Drago here. She was sure she was in the right place. There were no other warehouses at this end of the docks.
"Why are you looking for him anyway?" He eyed her up and down once more.
"He's supposed to teach me something," Shiloh grinned lasciviously.
"Heh, oh I'm sure I could teach you a thing or two as well," the blond wiggled his eyebrows at her and chuckled.
She smirked at him and giggled girlishly once more. She knew he had to be playing with her. She leaned in close and whispered to him, "Master Nathan sent me."
His chuckle died in his throat, causing him to quickly clear it. "Oh, that's something different then. Drago's downstairs. Knock on the door, password's "stinkfish." Got to be extra careful these days, those damn Dhorn are making an honest smuggler's life a pain."
"Thank you," she beamed at him and walked over to the door leading downstairs. She knocked on the heavy iron door loudly.
A muffled voice called from the other side of the door. "Yeah? What ya lookin' fer?"
"Stinkfish...." Shiloh replied.
"In with ya, then!" The heavy door opened and she continued down the stairs until she came face to face with an attractive older man with light cocoa skin and a shaggy mane framing his face. She smiled at him, raking her eyes over him hungrily.
Drago responded in kind, eyeing her possessively. "What's up, girl?" he grinned.
"Don't know. Maybe you'll show me?" Shiloh pointed at his trousers.
He laughed, "Ya're my kind o' girl, already see that! Who sent ya?"
"Well, first off, I'm looking for Master Drago. Is that you?" Shiloh smiled at him.
He chuckled at her, "Nay so sure 'bout th' Master, but I'm Drago, yeah. First time I see ya, I think. What ya need?"
"Master Nathan sent me," she grinned.
"So ya're one o' Nath's new girls, huh? Ya got stuff fer sale?"
She looked at him with a puzzled expression on her face. "Err... stuff?"
"Ne'ermind then. What do ya want?"
"Master Nathan told me to look you up for a lesson I have to learn. About stealth, and sneaking and hiding, he said."
"Hrr, do I look like a teacher or what?"
Shiloh smirked impishly. "Honestly, you look like a villain to me." She looked him up and down once more thoroughly and heard the imp inside her add, "One I'd like to get to know much, much better." Shiloh found him to be extremely attractive and pleasing to the eye, but she knew all too well what Master Nathan's warning to her was.
"Har har har! Well said!" He nodded and motioned around the warehouse. "We run a wee biz o' importin' and exportin' goods down 'ere, if ya get me drift. So if ya stumble 'pon stuff ya wanna sell, but don' wanna go t' th' pansy merch'nts in th' city, ya come down 'ere. Got it?"
"I shall keep it in mind," she inclined her head.
Drago laughed out loud. "Har, you talk like a mushy nobly girl. Wonder where Nath got ya pick'd up!"
She made a kissy face at him. "If you have to know, I'm a princess indeed!"
He laughed again, "Hrrr, great to gets ta know ya, princess!"
"Can we please get back to the matters at hand now?" She asked, tapping her foot impatiently.
"Sure. Hrm 'right. Ya gots experience with sneakin' an' hidin' yet?"
She nodded at him, "Some, yes." She thought about the night she tried to sneak through that alley that Rick Cars had proclaimed as his and how he had caught her. She made a face as she recalled how he'd stolen her money.
"Righto. Gonna run a little test with ya then," he told her. "The cellar 'ere gots an entrance to part o' the sewers. We're usin' them for business mainly. Problem is, it's full o' nasty stuff. T'make a good smuggler outta ya, y'er goin t' practice crossin' the sewers. Ya go in 'ere, an' if ya manage t'reach an exit alive, y've passed."
"Nasty stuff...?" Visions of rats and other vile creatures like Vico danced in her head. She groaned dejectedly.
"Har, you'll see soon 'nuff. Try t' sneak yer way through. Stay well clear o' things an' be quiet like a mouse! If stuff sees ya, run back 'ere as fast as yer little feet carry ya. Things won' follow ya up 'ere. An you won' make it through alive if y'er seen. Got it?"
"Yep, I think so," she nodded her head.
"Oh, an' y'can rest up 'ere anytime ya need to. I'm also gonna give y'a healing draught just in case. Don' be wastin' it though."
She nodded her thanks to him and followed behind him, admiring the view of his firm ass. She silently groaned to herself. Such a banquet of men to choose from and she was not suppose to touch. Well, she'd see about that!
"'K, follow me," he opened the cellar door for her.
Shiloh smiled at him, "Thank you, Drago." Her eyes lingered upon his strong features a moment too long.
"Ya bet'r keep yer mind on yer lesson, girlie, and not on what y'er thinkin' 'bout," he advised.
She pouted, thrusting her lower lip out prettily. "I am sorry, but you see before Master Nathan took me in, I lived a fairly sheltered life. And now that I have the freedom to explore everything I find that I can not stop myself."
"I gots me children that will be yer age in a few years. Ya're too young t'be lookin' at me that way," Drago told her, letting her down easily.
Shiloh lowered her eyes and studied her feet. "I am sorry, Master Drago. I shall get on with my test before I make a bigger fool of myself."
He nodded. "Good luck t' ya, girlie."
Shiloh pulled the dark cloak around her and took a deep breath. Focus on the task at hand and do not think of anything else, she cautioned herself. She descended into the sewers from the cellar door in Drago's warehouse. She tried to move as quietly as possible, remembering what Caron had told her. She pulled her cloak around herself and took a deep breath.
She noted the remnants of a torch and picked it up before crossing a rickety wooden bridge. She stifled a cry as she looked down through a crack in the planking and spotted a pair of glowing yellow eyes. Something was in the water below her. She quickened her step until she had made it off the bridge and onto a stone platform. The area before her opened up into a large room full of sewage pipes and drains. She recoiled at the stench and held her breath. Her ears picked up the sound of various squeaks, hisses, and growls. It was when she focused intently on one darkened corner that she noticed beady glowing red eyes and furry bodies of varying size feeding on what looked like something that might have been human at one point in its life. Panic gripped her and she had to force herself not to run back up the stairs to the safety of Drago's warehouse. Shiloh sucked in a deep breath. She wouldn't go that way. That way near the rats could spell danger for her and she wanted none of that. Glancing around, she spied an iron gate to her right. She would go that way.
She crept over to it, taking note of a few bats flying around above her. She stifled a squeak of her own and hastened to the gate. She tried it and found it to be locked. She exhaled an exasperated puff of air. No one said she'd have to deal with locked doors down here. So much for her stealth test. Pulling out the lock picks Caron had given her, she did as he had instructed and attempted to pick the lock. It took several long minutes, but with some trial and error she managed to get the door unlocked. She cracked it open and slipped through the narrow opening before closing it as quietly as she could. She breathed a soft sigh of relief. Nervously glancing around the short hallway she had stepped into, she noted a wooden door in front of her and another to right that lead down. Bending down to a crouch, she noted boot prints that had disturbed a light layer of dust and dirt on the stairs. Someone had been down this way recently. Perhaps that was the way she should go. And so she descended further into the depths of the sewers.
A gasp escaped her lips as she noted she had come out near the underground section of the river. She crept onward, selecting a passage that led her to an underground dock. She viewed it curiously. It had to be a sidearm of the river that flowed through Betancuria. Her brow furrowed as it dawned on her that Drago used this place to get smuggled goods into and out of the city. Normally I would report this to the authorities, but those very same authorities would probably kill me... Here I am sneaking through smelly sewers, jumping at every word a smuggler tells me. Funny how life changes, Shiloh mused to herself, then a darker, more startling thought crossed her mind and she whispered it aloud, "Will I be a criminal too? Do I have a choice at all...?"
She noticed a wagon loaded with crates. Were these ready to be shipped out of the city? Something told her to get out of there and leave well enough alone. She didn't want to have cause to make Drago or anyone else in Master Nathan's organization mad at her. She hastily left the dock behind and selected another passageway, and opened another iron gate. She skulked her way down a long corridor which opened up into a room full of spiderwebs. She bit her lips as she caught sight of the two biggest spiders she'd ever seen in life. Shiloh hated spiders and these were as big as couches. She shivered as she tiptoed passed them and into an exiting hall. At the end of it, she had to knock down a bunch of thick sticky webs that blocked her way. She yelped with sheer surprise as she felt something slither over her foot and dashed to a door, narrowly slipping by the largest rat she had ever seen in her life. Another door stood before her and she passed through it. This one brought her out to another wooden bridge suspended above murky green-grey waters. She coughed at the overwhelming smell and gulped in a breath of air in hopes of quelling the wave of nausea in her stomach. Hurrying forward, she noticed she could hear two distinct but hushed voices to the north of her talking. Hmm, perhaps it would be a good idea to find out who it was. Something told her that not only Master Nathan's people used the sewers for their illicit activities. She silently crossed the bridge and made her way to a door. She turned the handle and found it locked. After quickly dispatching the lock, she slipped through the door and crept her way over to a spot in which she could hear them better. Shiloh crouched behind a sewer pipe and studied the scene before her intently. One of the men was a Dhorn soldier clad in their distinctive red and black armor. He wore a helm over his face and carried a wicked looking halberd in his hand. The other man seemed to be shrouded in shadows, though. She noted leather armor beneath the black cloak that he wore. She couldn't make out any facial features on either of them. Though she hadn't heard the beginning of their conversation, she listened to them closely, carefully memorizing their words.
"And what makes you think we would tolerate this?" The man clad in Dhorn armor asked.
"Think about it. What better way to control crime than control the organization that runs it?" The leather clad man replied.
The Dhorn shook his fist, "My solution would be to exterminate all criminals."
"Heh, you know that won't work. Most criminals are like cockroaches, hard to find and even harder to kill."
"You think so? How about I start with you?" The Dhorn threatened, toying with his large weapon. The leather clad man made a rude gesture at the Dhorn, who ignored it. "But I may have a proposition for you. That organization you dream of replacing has caused us some real trouble lately. Our chief investigator in the matter was found floating down the river, his throat cut open."