The Long Road to Ruin Ch. 14byLady_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 Mysterious Note
Shiloh descended the stairs from Master Nathan's offices. She hardly spared a glance at Warent as she passed by him because she knew their secret was just that... a secret. She could not allow anyone else to learn of it. She made her way into the hallway and stopped dead in her tracks as she caught sight of Caron. She smiled brightly at him and made her way over to him. He flashed his devil may care grin at her and winked before turning back to the last large crate. As much as she would have liked to stop and talk with him, she knew this moment was not the right time. The knowledge that he had been with Trissa after he had been with her did not sit well with her, but she knew she could not confront them. She knew the best thing to do was walk away.
And so she did. She left the Bear Pit and headed for South Betancuria. She needed to complete that job for Vico. She could no longer allow a scum like Rick Cars to continue to rob the citizens as he had been doing. Not after what she had witnessed. She knew she had to do it. She sucked in a deep breath and wondered if it would be as easy as sneaking into his little hideout and slashing his throat. Her hands began to tremble. She did not if she could do it. The only thing she'd ever slit the throat of was that worg she'd fought against during her lesson with Master Hatori. She had to do it. She had to make the streets safer for the people.
She started to walk into the alley that he and his gang occupied at night and found it empty. The remains of a fire smoldered nearby. She took in a deep breath. She was shaking even harder now. She couldn't go through with this. She couldn't.
Shiloh turned on her heel and headed back the way she came and crossed the bridge over onto the Isle of Men. She quickly ran past the mansions until she made it to the other bridge that would lead to the docks. Nervously she continued on, breathing heavily. By the time she had made it to the dockhouses, her heart had ceased its frantic pounding. She had a job to do. She knew she had to steel her composure and just do it. She had to do it. She had to show Vico she could do it.
She strolled in circles for a while, keeping an eye out for Rhys, but he seemed to be absent from the docks. Her eyes caught sight of Ashur, but he was busy loading a ship. Now was not the time to disturb him.
And then she caught the sound of her name on the wind. A small boy with a dirty face and woeful eyes called her name a second time and flagged her down, handing her a note. Her suspicions peaked when the boy couldn't describe the man who had given him the note to deliver to her, yet she accepted it. She handed the boy a gold coin and went on her way, stopping only to read the note. It asked her to alone come to the Old Wharf at midnight and was signed 'A Friend.'
Hmmmm...she thought as she knew not many people outside of 'The Family' knew she was still alive. Rhys and Ashur knew, but surely this wasn't from them. She knew Rhys would have let her know in person.
Shiloh tucked the note away and headed back to the dark alley where she had previously encountered Rick Cars, wandering whether she should tell Master Nathan about it or not. Perhaps he could send someone with her as back-up. Shiloh shook her head. No, I won't tell him. I'll do this on my own. I'll prove there is more to me than being the pretty little princess.
Shiloh knew they must be in there nearby house, sleeping the day away. The gang of cutthroats only came out at night, robbing whichever unfortunate citizen who wandered into their midst of all their money. Rick Cars called it a protection fee and the Dhorn let him get away with it because of he had bribed a few of them to look the other way.
But not anymore. Not after Shiloh was through with them. She intended to sneak into their hideout and kill each one of them. That should please Vico. She had resolved herself to do it. She had to.
Creeping through the darkness of the alley, she paused at a door. The building had a deserted decrepit feeling about it. She hid in the shadow over an overhang, carefully glancing back and forth. She noticed a single member of the Dhorn Patrol just up the street. He seemed bored and inattentive. She knew this was her chance. She pulled her thick black cloak around her fully and whipped out her lock picks. Inserting a skeletal key, she reached for a pick and began to work both of them in synch to open the lock. She listened carefully for the tumblers inside to give and smiled when she heard that tell-tale click.
Shiloh cracked it open wide enough for her to slip inside then quickly closed it again. The room she stepped into was pitch dark. She fumbled about her haversack and pulled out a torch and a tindertwig. Striking the tindertwig against the wall hard enough to ignite it, she lit the torch and viewed the room around her. It was a small dilapidated house. She scanned the room, noting a rat's nest beneath a broken staircase. Beady red glowing eyes glared at her. She took a few more steps into the room, looking around curiously. This couldn't be Rick Cars little house that Vico had told her about. There was too much dust on the floor and upon the pieces of furniture that could only be fit for firewood.
She looked around the small room. She noted a strongbox against one of the walls. Creeping over to it, she quickly picked the lock and pulled from inside a pouch of coins. She stowed it away and closed the box. She walked around the table and noted something strange about the way the carpet was placed on the floor. Hmmm, perhaps I should investigate this.
She pulled back the carpet and smiled as she found a trapdoor beneath it. Quickly she pulled on the iron ring and lifted the door. Peering down into the darkness she noted a ladder. She quickly climbed down it and held up her a torch, noting that she must be in some manner of storeroom. Boxes and crates lined the walls. Cobwebs choked the corners. Tiptoeing across the room, she saw two doors. One was blocked with crates and cobwebs. Tiny squeaks could be heard nearby. Shiloh avoided that door, figuring she wouldn't find the bandits behind it. Her eyes grew large as she caught sight of a spider as big as small pony. A small noise escaped her throat. She hated spiders. Opting the other door, she knocked down the webs blocking it and quickly dispatched the lock on it, stepping through.
On the other side of it was a sewer entrance. She gagged at the smell of human waste and unwashed bodies. Ewww...disgusting. Carefully picking her way through, she avoided getting anything unpleasant on her shoes. Shiloh frowned, reminding herself to slap Vico for this. He really deserved it for making her do his dirty work.
The sewer corridor ended in a door. Meticulously examining it, she located a cleverly disguised spike trap. Hmmm...the gang of thugs must have some talent, but not enough to trick her. She quickly disabled it and went to work on the door's lock. It proved to be easy to pick. She opened the door and gagged once more. The small room reeked of urine and feces. The thugs must use this small room as a privy. Unable to keep her stomach from rolling, she doubled over and retched violently, vomiting up all she had eaten that morning.
Shiloh moaned and leaned heavily against the ladder in the middle of the room. She shook and trembled, the smell overcoming her senses. She had to get out of there. The only way she could go us up. She deftly climbed the ladder and quietly pushed up the trap door. She hoped this was Rick Cars' lair...Sneaking into the main room, she caught sight of two of them playing a game of cards at a small table while a second two were asleep on bunk-beds against one of the walls.
Sneaking over to the miscreants at the table, she forced herself to do it and pulled out her poisoned knife, placing the cold blade to his throat. He stiffened and gasped before she sliced him from ear to ear. Then she let him fall sideways to the floor. This alerted his card playing partner, but Shiloh was on him already. He cried out before she slammed the hilt of her knife against his temple. With a flick of her wrist, she brought it around to his throat and sliced him open. He, too, joined his comrade on the floor.
Shiloh spun about and made her way over to the beds, quickly slashing their throats wide open. Four down and one to go. Rick Cars was next. She figured he was in the next room, safely behind a locked door. Shiloh let a wicked laugh escape her lips. Not safe from her...
Swiftly dispatching the lock and poison dart trap on his door, she sneaked into his bedroom. The little imp inside of her urged her on. She straddled his chest, pinning him down. He awoke with a cry of surprise.
She sliced his cheek with her razor sharp blade, eliciting a cry from him. A malicious cackle spilled forth from her lips.
"Bitch!" He growled, attempting to knock her off.
Shiloh stabbed him, methodically toying with him and used her weight to pin his arms at his side. He bucked beneath her, hissing in pain. "Fucking two bit whore!"
Shiloh swung her arm around backwards and aimed her knife for his crotch. He screamed out as the blade pierced his tender sac. Rick bucked harder, tears streaming down his face.
"Who sent you, whore?"
"Vico sends his regards, asshole!" Shiloh mocked him.
"Tell Vico to suck my...."
Shiloh interrupted him by stabbing him a second time.
He screamed again, bucking harder. But Shiloh held on, slamming her weight down onto his chest. He exhaled sharply. Then she brought the knife back around and held it above his face. Blood dripped down its length and splattered upon his cheek.
"I'm not a whore!" she growled and plunged it into his neck. She twisted the blade and yanked it out. Then finished him by slashing his throat wide open. "Die now!"
She spit upon him, pulling herself to her feet. Her work here was done and she could report back to Vico. Hopefully he'd give her a reward. She seriously doubted it, but it would be nice. She also knew she had a bone to pick with the asshole. She'd had enough of the way he treated her and she was not about to stand for it any longer. Vico didn't own her yet was doing his level best to prove otherwise. She'd show him. It was none of his business what she did.
Before Shiloh left the small house via the front door, she gathered up all the loot in the small dwelling. She added daggers, light crossbows, crossbow bolts, another short sword and a few scrolls to her haversack. Closing the door behind her, she made her way to Drago's Warehouse and sold him the things she recovered from Rick Cars. It was only then she headed to the hideout in the sewers and walked over to Vico. With a low growl, she slapped him across the face soundly. Not even flinching, he cocked an eyebrow and laughed at her. Trembling with indignation, she hit him a second time. He captured her hands and shook her soundly.
"What's your problem, birdie?"
"Fuck you, Vico," she shot back. "If you don't stay the hell out of my life, I'll make you regret it, asshole."
Vico erupted in laughter, ignoring her threat. "Dream on, birdie." Then he let her go, turning away from her.
She pulled her bloody knife and brandished it in his face. "See this...this could easily be your blood instead of Rick Cars'. Even you have to sleep sometimes."
Again he disregarded her threat. "So Rick Cars is dead, huh? Good job, birdie. I didn't think you had it in you."
"I've already had you, birdie. It wasn't all that good."
Shiloh flushed bright red with anger. Sheathing her knife, she stepped up to him and grasped his tunic in her hands. Hissing at him, she brought her knee up and slammed it into his groin. Vico grunted harshly from the pain, doubling over momentarily. He choked out a rough curse and fought to gain his composure. "FUCKING BITCH!"
He grabbed her violently and dragged her to chair, throwing her over his knee and yanking up her skirt. "It's time someone taught the fucking two bit whore of a princess some manners!"
Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and watched in utter shock as Vico brought a hand down on her bottom, delivering a stinging slap. Shiloh screamed out. He ignored her and continued, cruelly and callously spanking her.
Alfons and Mando rushed to her aid, pulling her from Vico's grasp. Fat tears rolled down her red cheeks. Mando cradled her in his arms, softly soothing her.
"WHAT IN THE NAME OF THE HELLS IS GOING ON?!?!" Alfons demanded, glaring down at Vico.
"The fucking bitch attacked me!" Vico yelled back.
Alfons blinked in disbelief. "Shiloh attacked you?"
"She came in here looking for a fight! She hit me first!" Vico yelled back. "I warned her and she didn't listen. If she's going to behave like a stupid little girl, then by the hells...I'll treat her like one. End of story."
Alfons sighed. "Nathan needs to see you, Vico. I'll take things from here."
Vico nodded and left the hideout, throwing a look of intimidation back at Shiloh. She knew it wasn't over between them, not by a long shot.
He motioned for Mando to take her into his office. "Show's over!" Alfons growled, and followed behind. He watched Mando sit Shiloh down. She winced pitifully. "Do you want to tell me what the fuck is going on?"
Shiloh let out a small whimper and shook her head. "Vico raped me the night of the Dhorn attack on the castle. Sure he saved my life, but that hardly absolves him over his other crimes. This isn't the first time he has ever turned me over his knee and beat me and I'm not sure it'll be the last. I don't know why he hates me so much."
Alfons stared down at her in shock. "I'm sorry. I was not aware that he had raped you."
Shiloh nodded. "Not many do. Master Nathan wanted to keep it a secret. Anyway, Vico has done his best to make my life miserable ever since. He gave me a job to do, which I did. He has been trying to run my life. I will not have it. So I confronted him about it and as you see, it got out of hand. I did hit him first. He has no right to treat me the way he does. He insulted me, so I kneed him in the balls. He didn't like that, so he spanked me."
Mando chose that moment to speak up. "Sounds like foreplay," he chuckled, attempting to inject some levity into the situation.
Shiloh frowned at him. "I don't want to fuck Vico. I'd rather stick a knife in his belly."
Alfons shook his head. "No, Shiloh. If you attack Vico, he will fight back and will hurt you worse than this. He is much stronger and bigger than you are and he won't care that you are a woman. He will kill you without an iota of regret. I'll talk to Nathan and I think it is best for you to stay out of Vico's way for a while."
Shiloh nodded. "Trust me, I will!" She stood up from her chair and rubbed her bottom, taking a deep breath. She quickly left the hideout and headed for the northern part of town. She had a few places to visit and also needed to rest somewhat before meeting with the author of the mysterious note.
At midnight, Shiloh left The Bear Pit and headed into South Betancuria and the Old Wharf. She tried to stay to the shadows where possible, avoiding any of the Dhorn Patrol as she crept along as silent as a mouse. It took very little time to make it to her destination, though her mind was full of niggling doubts about what she was doing here by herself. She cursed herself for not going to Master Nathan. She cursed herself for coming here alone and vulnerable. Only the Gods knew what may greet her when she got there.
At the end of the Old Wharf was dimly burning streetlamp which bathed the small area surrounding with a muted candescence. As she moved towards the light, she could see someone standing at the wharf's edge. As she reached him, he gave her a rather expectant look. Shiloh eyed him warily. He seemed to be in his middle years with short dark hair. She didn't recognize him, but noted he wore the blue and yellow plate mail that was the standard gear of her father's elite soldiers, the Kingsguard's.
His expectant look changed into a smile and he bowed before her. "Lady Shiloh." He greeted, "I trust you received my note."
Still eyeing him warily, she studied him head to toe, looking for any small clue. "Lady Shiloh? I think you're mistaking me for someone else."
He smiled and chuckled softly, "I understand why you are being careful, M'lady. I suppose we both have all reason to do so. You see, I served in the King's Guard. I've seen you a few times at the castle. My name is Justan. Justan Fyne."
Her brow furrowed skeptically. "I don't think I know you, good sir. I wasn't allowed to consort with my father's soldiers. It's something all good princesses never do. Besides, the Dhorn killed everyone in the castle."
Justan flashed a sad look. "You don't remember me, Princess?"
"I'm sorry, good sir, but I don't remember."
He frowned and shook his head. "Princess, I know your life must be miserable since the Dhorn have taken over the city. The only reason I am alive is because I faked being dead. I smeared blood on myself, but now I'm tired of hiding. If you would but listen to me, I know of a way to escape this misery. I can get us out of the city. I've spoken to a boat captain who is willing to grant us passage to Illeria. We could be free! You could then proclaim who you are and stay with Illeria's nobility, in exile. You could even marry a prince. Then you could become a queen as it befits your station."
Shiloh eyed him skeptically. "But?"
He continued on. "But passage won't be free, Princess. The captain risks much by smuggling two people out of the city that the Dhorn would kill if they knew we were alive. He is asking for 10,000 gold coins."
"10,000? That is an extraordinarily large amount of money!"
"But your valiant Justan has a solution that will not only earn us passage, but also provide us with enough money left over for Illeria."
Shiloh's skepticism grew and she clutched her short sword. "How so?" She didn't like where this meeting was headed.
"There has been talk in the harbor taverns. It would seem that the Dhorn are very interested in finding a group of local thieves' and smugglers. They are offering an extremely large amount of money for pointing them in the right direction."
"I don't see how this concerns me."
"I've been watching you, Princess Shiloh, ever since I spotted you in the streets. You've been acting very strangely, visiting various places, doing things a princess normally would not. I think you've come in contact with these criminals. I've seen you around the Bear Pit Restaurant. Is that where they are located? I really can't blame you, Princess. We do what we must to survive and I can only imagine how desperate you must have been. Please, M'lady, all you have to do is give me their names and we can be off to Illeria. Or, if you don't trust me, come with me and tell the names yourself. Then we could leave this nightmare of a city behind for good. What say you, Princess?"
Shiloh shot him an offended look, unable to believe what he had asked of her. Yes, this city had become a nightmare, but she had faith that things would get better. She snarled at him, hissing low in her throat. "NO! I WILL NOT BETRAY THEM!"
Justan grabbed for her arms, pleading with her. "Princess Shiloh, will you not even think about it? You could have a normal life again! There would be no more hiding for you. Tell me, m'lady, what's the fate of a few low class thieves compared to your future...as future as a Queen?"