Xen'drix Shadows Ch. 01byFeral_Intelligence©
Disclaimer: The world of Eberron is property of Wizards of the Coast. Only the original characters belong to me.
Stirges could be best described as fist sized mosquitoes with batwings. The little bloodsuckers were swarming all over the place. This presented quite a problem for Xev'levis. She wanted to keep her blood, and preferably the blood of her client, in their bodies and not the belly of the little would-be-vampires. So far her long knives were doing an excellent job of keeping the stirges at bay.
Xev'levis looked over at the outlander that she had agreed to guide through the jungle. He was quite different from her. He was a light skinned human and she was a dark skinned drow. He was doing good job of keeping himself alive so far. His rapier was impaling the stirges as they tried to attach themselves to him. Then she spotted one that he had not notice land on his back.
With a quick motion of her arm, one of her long knives went soaring through the air. The stirge was pierced though the side by the knife and fell off of the outlander's back. That got his attention.
"Hey, next time just give me a warning Xev," he shouted as he swatted another from the air. Xev frowned as she continued to cut the winged beasts from the sky. Why must these outlanders insist on rudely shortening her name?
The loss of one of her long knives was a hindrance, but she had no intention of letting it slow her down. The outlander could defend himself with one weapon, then so could she. Her hand moved in a blur. With each slash another stirge fell lifeless to the ground. Her body was in constant motion as she danced though the swarm.
The rapier blade appeared over her shoulder, a stirge impaled upon it. The outlander had just stabbed one that was about to land on her shoulder without her knowing it. Her blood boiled at the though, but she would not give him the satisfaction of acknowledgement as he said, "I guess that makes us even."
After another minuet, they finally managed to drive off the nuisance bloodsuckers. It seemed that they had managed to get by without injury. Still, it was not unknown for someone to be bit by a stirge without realizing it. It was best that they make sure that they were uninjured or else risk infection from the jungle humidity.
"Come over here outlander," Xev ordered as she picked up her dropped long knife from the ground.
The outlander strolled over as he cleaned his own blade. "Would you stop calling me 'outlander' and just call me Tavin? After two weeks of travelling though this Host forsaken jungle together, I think we should be on a first name bases."
"Maybe when you learn to pronounce my name right out-lan-der," she said pronouncing each syllable. She began checking him for any superficial injuries. After as many encounters as they had faced with the monstrous inhabitants of the jungle, Tavin already knew what she was doing and why she was doing it.
What he did not know, though he did suspect, was that she used this time to visually explore his body. She took in everything that made him so different from a drow. He was larger than her, though fairly average my human standards. He had light blond hair that had been cut short. To Xev, the most interesting quality was hair on his face that the males of her species could not grow. Tavin usually shaved his, but it had been two days since he had had a chance to do so and now he sported a scruffy shadow.
She found his clothing to be normal for an outlander, but still peculiar by her own standards. He wore a rust collared jerkin and pair of brown britches. His only protection was vest of hardened leather. It all seemed like it would be too much to wear in the jungle, both hot and easily catching on the foliage. A menagerie of pouches lined his belt. A leather strap ran from his right shoulder to his left hip to form his sword belt for his rapier.
Tavin also took the time to inspect Xev, though he was distinctly enjoying just looking her over. Although he had a scholar's interest in her, he also had a young adventurer's interest in her. She was short, only coming to his chin, and her body was lean and toned.
He looked her up and down taking in her intriguing form. She had flowing white hair that stood in contrast to her jet black skin. She had elaborate white lines tattooed over her skin. He understood that these were very important to her people and that most of them signified what clan she belonged too and her accomplishments as a warrior.
He found her "clothing" no less interesting (from a scholarly perspective of course). All of her outfit was armor made out of white scorpion chitin. The formfitting breastplate covered, yet accentuated her chest, which he noted was relatively ample for a drow. It stopped right below her breasts and left most of her tight stomach revealed. An armored loincloth hid her most private area, but left her lithe legs free. Bracers on her forearms and shin guards complete the ensemble. The armor protected most of her vital areas while leaving her a full range of motion, and good deal of her smooth skin revealed. At her shapely hips were her two long knives and her three-pronged boomerang.
Tavin had to admit that traveling with this alluring beauty was both a blessing a curse. On the one hand she was a far more appealing to look at, though not much more pleasant to converse with, than a guide he could have hired from House Tharask. On the other the arousal that he felt in her presence was quite the inconvenience considering that he was in the middle of a jungle and in no position to "relieve" himself. As he got to know her better, which was no easy task, he found that arousal growing even strong. Not just was she an exotic beauty that had perked his interest, her dangerous and wild personality was also attractive as well.
Once they had both satisfied that they had no injuries, and had indulged in admiring the other's form, they started back on their journey. It was only a half-hour hike through the humid jungle before they reached their destination. Both of them were tired, sweaty, and ready for a rest. Xev showed her weariness far less than the human she was guiding, but it was still there. She would have been quiet content to sit down and rest, but the sight before them seemed to reenergize Tavin.
Before them were the remains of one of the ancient structures of the giants. The age of millennias past showed on the huge temple. The stone blocks were cracked and covered with vines. Some of the ancient walls and pillars had collapsed or were knocked down. Still, the Temple of Kaminash stood and many of the inscriptions could still be clearly seen.
Tavin smiled widely as he rushed forward to inspect the ruins. He glanced over the inscriptions, his mind already trying to decipher them. All of his research had pointed to the ruins of Kamisnash as the resting place of the relic he sought. Hopefully there would be a few other "items of historic value" as well that he might recover. He might be a scholar and Morgrave University might be an institution of higher learning, but both expected what they learned to turn a profit.
They set up campsite next to the ruins. After all of the necessities were taken care of Tavin immediately started his work. He flitted about the ruins translating inscriptions and recording them in his note book. Xev sat on a stone from one of the crumbled walls and watched him. She had been hired to get him to and back from the ruins, not to help him with his work once he was there (not that he seemed to be in particular need with just reading runes). Still, she did not have much else to do. She watch his peculiar actions as he moved about the temple, occasionally following him as he explored rooms other then the massive foyer.
When Tavin asked about why she was following him around, she simply responded that she was protecting her investment. If she did not escort him safely back to Stormreach, she would not receive the other half of her pay. That was the truth, but not all of it. She was loath to admit even to herself that she also enjoyed his company. Over the long journey to the ruins they had gotten to know each other reasonably well.
She found him to be far more interesting than most of the outlanders that she had escorted. He had studied her people and proved to be far less ignorant than most that ventured into the Xen'drix jungles. He had proven that he was a capable warrior, and nothing could earn her respect quicker than that. All of this had added together to make him the first traveling companion that she actually enjoyed the company of. Even if the idiot could not get her name right.
After three days, Tavin finally found what he was looking for. Together, they descended into an underground passage that had been partially collapsed. The tunnel was too small for the giant to fit into. Instead, it would have been used by their elf slaves. They made there way through the winding corridors till they came to hole in the floor above. They climbed up through the hole and surveyed the room.
It was probably the least damaged room in the entire ruin. Aside from a few small holes in the walls and ceiling and the hole in the floor they came through, the room was in good condition. Along the walls were murals of giants dancing in color clothing. Each wore a head dress with a precious gem in the center. Red, yellow, and blue tiles spiraled from the walls to the center of the room. A circle of green tiles ran through the other colors in the middle of the room. At the center of the room where the colorful tiles met was an obsidian pedestal that was taller than a human. Golden runes were inlayed on the pedestal. Sitting on top of the top of the pedestal was Tavin's reason for coming here: The Kazhara, the Fist of Heaven. The Kashara was a ruby the size of Tavin's head with streams of adamantine spider-webbed around it.
Tavin turned to Xev with a smile. "It looks like I have found what I was looking for and a bit more. I need to take the Kazhara back for research, but those gems are just a bonus. Help me get them and I'll split them with you."
Xev gave him a smirk. "That sounds fair. I will start collecting them while you get you treasure, outlander."
Tavin watched as Xev nimbly scaled the wall. She climbed up it with all of the confidence that a scorpion has in its ability to walk on any surface. He watched as some of her tone rear was exposed and could feel a slight throb in his pants. It had not been an easy journey to keep things under control with such a luscious companion.
Tavin finally decided to get back to work once Xev started to pry one of the gems free with her long knife. He walked up to the pillar and pulled a potion out of levitation out of his satchel. The pillar's surface was to smooth to climb so he reached into his satchel and produced a potion of levitation. He downed the potion then willed himself to rise up through the air. Once he was level with the Kazhara he inspected it for traps. Once he was certain that there were no traps, mundane or magical, he lifted it up. It felt good to finally have it in his grasp after a year and a half of research and exploration. He slipped it inside of his satchel, the extradimensional space easily accommodating it.
He levitated back down and started to walk over to the wall that Xev was working her way around with the intent of helping her pilfer the gems. Unfortunately as he stepped over the green tiles that ringed around the center of the room a great rumbling started. "Well, that was an interesting place for them to hide a trap," he thought to himself.
"What did you do outlander?!" Xev hollered at him from down the wall.
"I was just walking," he said in his own defense. As soon as he uttered the words out of his mouth, four massive cables of steel uncoiled from the top of the ceiling and snaked towards him and Xev. The animated cables were as big around as Tavin's thigh, and he had no doubt that they would crush him it he gave them the chance. As one of the cables came at him, Tavin jumped into the air and reactivated the levitation potion. The coil swept under him with enough power that it would have crushed his legs. He kicked off of the part of the cable that was hanging from the ceiling and went floating back wards just as a second cable swept in to smash him.
Xev saw the two cables that were coming at her and dropped off of the wall. She rolled as she landed and was on her feet before the chunks of the wall they had been knocked loose could hit the floor. She darted between the cables as they tried to smash her. She dashed towards the only exit, the hole in the floor they had entered through. She yelled at Tavin, "We need to get out of here now."
"Agreed," Tavin called to her as he deactivated the potion and fell to the floor. To of the animated cables clashed together with a deafening metallic clang as he hit the floor. He was far less graceful in returning to his feet than Xev, but was on his way in the span of a heartbeat.
They both ran in zigzags across the floor, jumping out of the way of the cables. As they reached the hole that would be their salvation, Xev made her frustration clear. "I blame you for this outlander," she accused before jumping down the hole.
"How was I supposed to know that removing the Kazhara from the circle would set off a trap?" Tavin asked as he followed her through the hole. He used the potion one last time to avoid landing in a heap on top of Xev. "There was no mention of it in any of the research I did," he pointed out.
The two of them argued back and forth as they made their way back through the tunnel and to their camp sight. By the time they had gotten back, the conversation had turned from accusations of who was at fault to laughing about how it had spiced up what had been a couple of dull days. They reminisced about the other adventures they had had on their way to the temple. They chatted about the pair of displacerbeasts that had tried to ambush them as they exited a marsh, not knowing that Xev was not someone to be snuck up on. They recalled the ooze that had only been defeated when Tavin had discovered that it was vulnerable to fire.
Tavin new that Xev would never admit it, but he could tell that she had grown to like his presence enough that she would miss him once they returned to Stormreach. Winning her respect had not been easy, but was well worth it. He had met few people in his journeys as fascinating as her. Certainly he had found none that were as attractive.
As he put his satchel with is bedding, he decided on his course of action. He new the drow culture and how the rituals were done. He knew what was expected of him. He knew that he would have to risk everything including his life, but that was what being an adventurer was all about.
In his most casual voice he told Xev his intentions as she built the fire for the approaching dusk, "I desire that we should lay together tonight."
Xev was in the middle of bending over her sleeping roll when he said it. Her hold body stiffened in shock. She had never thought he would have the audacity to say such a thing. He was asking her to mate with him!
Her first though after the initial shock was to kill him where he stood. "How dare he, an outlander, suggest such a thing," she though to herself. This was from so much time looking down on outlanders. She had killed more than a few for far less offending comments.
However, as she stood and turned to face him, her thoughts changed. As the initial indignation of an outlander suggesting that they should mate, she realized he might actually make a worthy mate. He had proven himself to be strong, cunning, and a skilled warrior, all of the things to be desired in a mate. He had also become close enough to her that she could certainly feel safe with him to open up such a vulnerability.
As she looked at him, she could see that he was tense as he waited for her answer, but there was no fear in his eyes. He knew what he risked with his statement and was standing his grown. She would give him the chance, though if he failed she would kill him, the other half of her pay be damned.
She fixed her eyes on him and started to slowly stalk around him. "Do you think you are powerfull enough to lay with me?"
Tavin slowly let out the breath he did not realize he was holding. She was giving him his opportunity. "I do," he said as he crouched down. The initial proposition was the hardest part to work up the nerve for with the drow mating ritual, but he knew that it was only the beginning.
"Then prove it," she spat at him. Her features took on a feral quality as she snarled at him in challenge. She drew one of her long knives and rushed at him.
Tavin's eyes widened as she rushed forward. He found himself praying to the Host that she was worth the trouble he was going through. As she prepared to make a downward stab, he raised his arm to block her at the forearm. His other hand shot up and grabbed her wrist. With a twist he sent the weapon clattering to the ground. He realized that was much too easy. If she had really meant it, he had little doubt he would be dead. She was giving him an opportunity, but he knew that if he was lax she would kill him.
He twisted her arm around and spun her so that he could press her face and belly up against the wall of the ruin. He reached down and started to take away her other weapons. Leaving her armed was just asking to be impaled. She fought and struggled as he dropped the last of her weapons to the ground. She growled curses at him in drow.
Xev could feel her heart racing. He had passed the first test, now it was time for the next. She kicked off of the wall and sent them both reeling backwards. She regained her footing as he let go of her to regain his own. She whirled around and backhanded him. The blow did not knock him over, but it did leave him dazed. She moved into press the attack.
"Grrrr," Tavin growled in frustration. This was proving to be more dangerous than he had initially thought would be the case, but he had to admit that he felt quite alive. He took hard blow to the side, but managed to grab Xev's hands again. She was strong for her small size, but he was still a good deal bigger than her. He made good use of his superior size and slammed her back into a tree. He would need at least one hand to work with so he pinned her wrists together above the tree with his left hand. He held her wrists with all his might, knowing he may loose an eye if she got them free.
Xev struggled as hard as she could, but her hands were stuck fast. He was in to close for her to kick him. His hand was working on the straps of her breastplate and it would soon fall free. She decided something less expected was in order. She wrapped her legs around his midsection and squeezed tight with her strong, tone thighs. She could hear him grunt as she started squeezing the air out of him. She cursed at him vehemently drow then hissed in common, "I'll crush you bastard outlander."
Tavin was hard pressed to argue. He was pretty certain that his ribs were on the verge of cracking, though in the back of his mind he could not help but to wonder what else those thigh muscles could do. Needing relief, he used his hips to slam her back against the tree. He was amazed to hear what sounded like a moan issue from her. He needed her distracted while he finished unstrapping the breastplate. He decided that the best way to do that would be to shut her mouth. He pressed his lips to hers in a ferocious kiss.
She was caught off guard for a second, then returned it with a blinding furry. The kiss had become a contest of wills. She attacked his mouth with her lips and teeth. She bit his lip till the faintest taste of blood could be detected. Tavin knew that if she wanted she could have ripped his lip off, so this must be a good sign. Their tongues met and began to wrestle for dominance. Something between a growl and a purr sounded up from Xev's throat as she fought against him with the will of a wildcat. She could feel her tongue over powering his.