The Long Road to Ruin Ch. 13byLady_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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The Wizard's Tower
Shiloh sighed heavily as she left 15 Summer Lane behind. She knew she had been manipulated by Lenton and Warent. The thought of Caron with Trissa irritated her to no end. That conniving little bitch had it coming to her and one way or other Shiloh vowed to deliver. She didn't care what the consequences were. Shiloh would teach her a lesson she'd never forget. She smiled to herself and formed a plan in her head. It had to work.
With that dilemma resolved, she crept into the shadows and made her way through the market and down the middle thoroughfare leading into the South Betancuria. She made her way to the dark alleyway guarded by Rick Cars and hugged the building. She shimmied along it, knowing if he caught her a second time that she had no money on her whatsoever the consequences might bode ill for her. She didn't relish a confrontation with him this night. She had noticed the amount of patrols had doubled. She wasn't sure if the Dhorn were expecting trouble, but she knew she did not want to find out.
Shiloh held her breath and pulled her cloak tighter around herself. She took a few more steps on her very tiptoes and noticed a middle aged man staggering towards the alleyway. She watched in horror as Rick and his gang descended upon the drunken sot. She knew this was her chance to sneak by as they viciously fleeced the man of whatever he may possess of value. She noted he put up a token struggle and called out to the guards, but no help was forthcoming. Shiloh sped up and dashed through the alleyway on feet that barely touched the pavement. She slowed down as she reached the bridge and heard a shout from one of the gang members who had at last spotted her.
Shiloh kept moving. She crossed the bridge over to the Isle of Men and hid in the shadow of an overhang attached to one of the large mansions that sat upon the island. She watched as the thug followed her across the bridge, stopping to scan area for her. She crouched against the wall and crawled into the shade of a tree. She stood and stepped behind the tree. Peaking around it, she watched as he walked past her and circled around the rather large house.
She let out a sigh and crept from tree to tree until she reached the end of the backside of the house. She peered around, noting the wizard's tower a few hundred feet from where she stood. Cautiously she viewed the area. Rick Cars and his thugs had finished robbing the man who'd mistakenly wandered amongst their midst. They had shoved him toward the river and laughed as he stumbled into the water. She gritted her teeth and vowed to put an end to their reign of terror. They would rue the day they brought harm to the citizens of her father's city.
She held her breath again as the thug who had chased her walked back towards her. He called out to his compatriots across the river and ran to join back up with them. She could hear him cussing about how the "sneak" he had chased had gotten away and watched as Rick divided the ill-gotten coins they'd just stolen. She listened carefully as one of the thugs boasted about going to see his favorite new whore again.
She shook her head and scanned the area again. She noted four different members of the Dhorn Patrol that had walked past her at varying intervals. Quietly she left her hiding place and crept over to the tower, sneaking past the front door. She circled the tower, looking for an alternate means of entry and spotted an open window on the second floor. A-ha, that's why Cata told me to purchase a rope! She crouched down in the shadows and waited as the patrols made their circuit before pulling out the grappling hook she'd purchased along with the rope and securely tied the rope to it. She waited for another circuit and threw the grappling hook up to the window. It caught on an inner lip of the windowsill. She tugged on it to see if it would hold and grimaced as wood splintered, causing it to fall back towards her. She cursed silently and gave it a second shot, this time aiming for bottom corner. She figured that would be more secure. When it caught where she wanted it to, she gave it a hard tug and breathed a sigh of relief as it held.
Next came the task of climbing the rope as quickly as possible before the patrols returned to this side of the island. Bracing her feet upon the tower, she began to pull herself up as quickly as she could. She shivered as she looked down and noted the sound of approaching boots. Quickly she scrambled up the rope and shimmied her way through the window. She landed on the floor below the window in a heap, letting out a squeak as she hit her bottom. She stood up and peaked out, pulling in her rope. She left it below the window and crept along the corridor. She searched it carefully, figuring this tower would be heavily trapped. She made it a few feet before she noted something strange in an archway. She cautiously felt around, taking note of the carefully arranged trip wires. She pulled out her knife and cut through the wires then jumped over the area. She let out a sigh of relief as she realized she had not set the trap off.
She noticed a door that lead up to the next level and made her way over to it quietly. It had some pitting and scarring on it. Shiloh suspected a trap and searched around until she found a small tube imbedded in the doorframe. She studied it, figuring it was either poison or acid. Meticulously she disabled it and went about unlocking the door. Once she had it open, she crept up to the third level. She hoped she would find the wizard's bedroom up here. She encountered another trap on the floor at the top of the stairway. It covered a large area. She noted a greenish vial partially hidden and cut a wire leading to it. She followed the wire to another vial and cut the wire on it. She cautiously moved through the area, creeping along the wall. She noted a black dog with red eyes that glowed like the fires of the hells. She wasn't sure what manner of otherworldly creature it was, but it couldn't be natural. She also took note of some sort of automaton that patrolled a certain circuit around the room. She avoided it as she made her way through a parlor area to the first of two doors.
The first was locked with a simple lock that she was able to open very quickly. She cracked it open and slipped inside, finding herself in a sort of study. An alchemist's apparatus lined the wall beside a desk and a strange cylindrical device filled with murky water. She avoided it as she poked under the desk, looking for anything interesting. She lifted a strange vial from the apparatus and pocketed it. Then she picked the lock on the strongbox and pulled out a few rings and a small pouch containing a nicely cut gemstone. She slipped it inside her haversack and moved to the shelves. She examined the books upon it. Most where tomes concerning magical theory, which did not interest her in the least. She remembered a crotchety old man tried to school her in magic when she was younger, but even then she had no interest in it. She remembered well when he told her father that his daughter had no aptitude for the arcane arts and he would no longer waste his time trying to teach her.
Moving from the shelves, she made a sweep of the room before exiting it as quietly as she had entered and moved to the next door. It had a weird aura on it. She couldn't quite place it, but as she found the trap on it, she received a shock that sent her flying across the hallway. She landed in a heap and bit her lip to keep from crying out. Shiloh shook herself thoroughly and carefully rose to her feet. She patted herself down and returned to the door. Though it took several long minutes of trial and error, she managed to disable the shocking trap on the door.
She searched the door and came across a lock she had never seen before. She instantly knew her lock picks would be of no use to her and that only with a key would she get into that room. She figured this had to be the wizard's bedroom.
Leaving the room, she crept along the wall and made her way back to the stairs. Heading back down she checked the door in the hallway of the second floor corridor and found it locked, but easily pickable. It took little effort to get the door open. She cracked it open and slipped into a good sized library. She quietly crept into it, stopping only to disable yet another acid trap she had detected as she carefully searched the floor. She knew she would have to be on high alert. Once she had bypassed the trap she skulked past a few airy looking guardians to another door, which she found to be locked as well. Shiloh sighed and deftly picked its lock. She slipped into the small study and noted a large lever. She manipulated it and heard a mechanical clicking coming from a lower level as well as the sounds of a heavy door sliding open.
She hasted to leave the room on silent feet that carried her down the hallway and down the stairs to the lower level. She crossed through the shelves of books until she found one that had swung outward to reveal a now opened door. She quietly searched around the room, looking for any sort of key. There wasn't one to be found here. Perhaps she should continue her search elsewhere. She headed through the open door and made her way down to a door. Hmmm, she wondered where this one led to, perhaps a basement.
She dispatched the lock and the trap upon the door fairly quickly, noting how keen her senses where becoming. She felt a pride about herself and did a small dance of glee as she pushed the door open and descended a few more stairs to a corridor that led to an iron gate. She reached in and flipped the latch open on it and stepped into a large room with a fairly large summoning circle in it. She made her ways over to it and studied the symbols carefully. Though she could not interpret their meaning, she knew she'd seen similar symbols on the floor of the court wizards summoning room.
She left it alone and searched the room, noting two cells. One held several more of the dogs she'd seen upstairs, but these seemed to be sleeping. The other held the remains of a human male. She picked the lock on the gate and crept inside. The foul smell of death assailed her. She quickly searched him and his cell, finding a small pouch hidden beneath a pile of straw that was supposed to serve as a sleeping pallet. She pocketed the pouch and whispered a soft apology and observed a moment of silence for the poor man.
Leaving the cell, she made her way to the only other door in the summoning room. After disabling two different traps and picking a fairly difficult lock, she squeezed her way into the dark study beyond the room. She noted the bookcases full of hand written books, a large mirror, a small cot and a chest of drawers. Hmmm, perhaps the wizard does experiments down here, Shiloh surmised to herself. She searched the chest of drawers until she found an oddly shaped key. A-ha!
She made her way back up to the bedroom on nearly silent feet and slipped the key in the lock. She let out a sigh of relief as she heard the telltale click. It was the correct key. She slipped inside the bedroom, noting how nicely furnished it was. She quickly searched her way around, looking for anything of value that she could pocket and added a few more vials, gems, coins and rings to her haversack. Then she made her way over to his desk and swapped the clocks out like Cata had told her to do. She picked up the wizard's clock and put in it her backpack.
Now it was time to get out of there. She hastily left the room, stopping to relock it. She ditched the key in a nearby plant and slipped past the upper floor's guardians and made her way back to the window. Quickly she placed the grappling hook in a secure place and watched for the patrol. She tossed the rope out the window, shimmying down it as quickly as she could manage. Then as her feet hit the ground, she slipped back into the shadows, leaving her rope behind. She knew she did not have the time to try to recover it and hoped she hadn't been spotted at all. Quickly she hid behind barrel and removed her cloak, stuffing it into her haversack. Then she left the Isle of Men behind via another bridge that brought her nearby the Ranger Guild and The Thousand Steps Inn. Heading towards the docks, she crossed the longer bridge that spanned the river and made her way past The Wildcat, the dockhouses, and the Swordfish tavern to Drago's Warehouse.
She entered the warehouse and knocked on the door to Drago's cellar. She hoped he would be here this night. She listened and knocked harder this time.
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.
She smiled at Drago as she approached him. "I am glad you were here tonight. I got chased by some stupid thug who was trying to rob me. I seriously do not think he's on Master Nathan's payroll," she grumbled. "Thanks for letting me in, though."
"Anytime, girlie," Drago smiled as he went about searching through a large crate.
Shiloh sat down on the floor and dug through her pack. She pulled out the items she'd stolen from the wizard's tower and examined them. As she slid one of the golden rings on, she immediately got a feeling of greater resiliency. She felt somewhat tougher. She liked that feeling. Plus it was a pretty ring.
"Say, girlie, what ya got there?" Drago came over to her and knelt near her.
"Stuff! Alfons sent me on a real mission instead of a stupid lesson. I had to break into that wizard's tower over on the Isle of Men and swap out a clock. Don't ask me why I had to swap a clock because I'm not sure of the reasoning behind it. It had to be an important one, though. These items are a few of the things I stole because most of them were shiny and pretty. I like this ring I have on."
"May I see it?" he asked as he took hold of her hand. He studied it thoroughly.
"I'd bet any amount of money that ring has some kind of armoring protection on it. You should hang on to that." Drago sorted through her other loot and pointed out a few other magical items. "I'd be happy to take them off your hands if you would be interested in selling them."
"Alright. How about everything but this ring? The gems are pretty, but I really don't need them. I can't use scrolls and I'm not sure what the vials contain."
Drago popped the vials open and sniffed each one. "I think one is a vial of poison, one is a vial of antitoxin and the others are of a curative nature. You should keep those, too. The rest....hmmm, I'll offer you 500 gold pieces."
"500?" Shiloh beamed. "That's a lot of gold, Drago. It's a deal."
Shiloh did a happy dance around the room and planted a kiss on Drago's cheek after he handed the heavy pouch of coins.
"Now be careful with that and don't get mugged," he advised as he watched her place the pouch along with the clock and her cloak in the haversack. "Where ya headed to now, girlie?"
"To see Alfons and give him that clock as proof that I completed his mission," she beamed a smile at him.
"How 'bout I accompany ya part way?" Drago offered, motioning to the cellar door.
She cocked an eyebrow at him. "Sure, be my quest."
He offered her an arm and led her down into the sewers, taking her down to his underground port where a small ship sat waiting for him. "Girlie, I heard talk from some of th' sailors concernin' ya. Ya do realize if Nath catches wind of such talk, there'll be th' hells ta pay. Heed my words, girlie. No good'll come of it."
Shiloh nodded at him. "Just for the record, I'm not a whore. I've never taken money for sex. There has only been one and I can count him as a friend. I can trust him."
"But others have taken note of ya being down 'ere. Ya're a beauty that stands out amongst the girlie's down 'ere. I'm warnin' ya. And one more thing, if 'e ain't one of us, ya shouldn't trust 'im. Listen t' me, girlie. It be for y' own good."
Shiloh nodded and wondered how much Drago knew of Rhys or even Ashur. Perhaps she should talk to Rhys about it. "Fine, Drago. I'll be a good little girlie and stay away from the docks. Perhaps I'll just return to the Bear Pit and never leave the kitchen ever again," she retorted.
"I be serious, girlie," he warned her.
She shot him an angered look. "Why is everyone hell bent on telling me what to do? Vico beats me as he pleases. I'm not allowed to have any fun because it's too dangerous for me. I pray to the Gods that someday I'll be able to live my life as I see fit and then I'll fuck whoever I want whenever I want without being told I can't do that or that I'm off-limits to every man."
He sneered at her, shaking his head. "Nath would be wise to slap a chastity belt on you as well as a leash."
Her face reddened. "I have no need for a chastity belt because I'm not a virgin, no thanks to Vico who raped me. I appreciate your advice, Master Drago, but it's a little too late."
Shiloh stormed off and hurried to the hideout, avoiding the hordes of rats she encountered along the way. She noted Vico was not in his usual spot as she entered the hideout and made her way into Alfons's office.
She smiled at him as she approached him, noticing that he was by himself and Cata wasn't anywhere to be seen. Perhaps she and Vico were out on that recovery mission he had spoken of. "I'm back, Alfons!" She beamed and reached for her haversack on her back.
He flashed a look at her that made her wonder if he was ever in a good mood. "Grr, what?!"
She was momentarily taken aback by his gruffness. "I've managed to sneak into the wizard's tower and placed the clock Cata gave me on the desk in the bedroom!"
He scoffed at her. "Don't take me for a fool, girl!"
Shiloh stammered for a moment. She didn't understand what his problem was, but he was slowly starting to annoy her. "What? Err, no, I really did. I mean, place the clock there. Not take you for a fool."
He raised an eyebrow at her. "You're serious?"
Shiloh nodded at him.
"You swear you placed it there? And you got into the tower all alone?"
"Yes, it's really there. I promise I'm not lying," she smiled at him.
Alfons studied her for a few moments.
"I told you I could do this," she said as she opened her haversack.
He eyed her speculatively. "You got the clock that was on the wizard's desk as proof?"
"Yes, I have it right here." She pulled it from her sack, handing the clock to Alfons.
He eyed it and her. "You told the truth." He seemed to be really surprised. "You deserve a big reward for this, Shiloh. Hold on. Here, this is yours." He produces a really ornate short sword from a sheath and handed it to her with a smile on his face.
Shiloh nodded her thanks at him, examining the sword.
"I never believed you'd even get into the tower. It seems I underestimated you. I'll tell Nathan. He'll be really happy to hear, I bet!"
She beamed a smile at him. "It was very tough. Some of the traps in there were pretty hard to find and disable, but I learned so much. I can definitely tell I'm getting more adept at it and I thank you for giving me this opportunity, Alfons."
"I am glad you succeeded, Shiloh. I had my doubts, but knowing that clock is there is the best news I've heard in days. Say, you look a little tired. There are some beds in the other room that are there for members use. Perhaps you should get some rest."