blood and chocolate

chapter 1: blood is thicker than water.

The sounds of steam-whistles rang through the air as dozens of workers filed out of their stations, wrote their times on their timecards, and slowly moved down the halls of the brewery. Still on the smooth stone floor was a tall dwarf with short greying-red hair and an elegant tunic. A sword and pick hung at his belt in a custom frog, and his calm brown eyes hung low as he frowned.
Standing on the brewery floor with him - and the source of his consternation - was a tall woman with long black hair tied to a fine braid, her handsome features and pale skin well-lit by the lights of the brewery, and her elegant, jade coloured gown fluttered as she moved and spoke. The dwarven adventurer Mattock Mythril-Moulder, and the half elven baroness Selweyn, respectivley.
According to the baroness, someone had kidnapped her daughter, but no demands were made, no notes were left, and the lllocal guard didn't care enough to devote more than a day to searching for the young girl. Mattock's eyes rolled as he crossed his arms "perhaps she's eloped with a paramour?" He asked.

"My daughter would do no such thing!" Selweyn replied, her tone shocked, and hurt.

"I'm sorry dear, I just don't think this is worth our attention. We normally deal with more... apocalyptic threats, these days..." the aging dwarf finished, and gestured for the baroness to leave.

The lady puffed out her chest and began to speak as Mattock walked away, but the clinking and grinding of adamantium plate from the massive half-dragon warrior standing behind her made her reconsider. Slowly, her right hand clenched into a fist, and she turned, leaving the way she had come. From the shadows, a lone figure watched, and darted away into the darkness of the brewery.

***

Selweyn sighed as she ran a soaped cloth across her smooth skin as she lay in a large wash-tub, lost in thought and introspection when her butler, Gerard, entered her chambers. "Ma'am, there's someone here to see you. Says its urgent..." The aging man said quickly. The baroness groaned, pulled herself out of the tub, hastily drying off as she pulled her bathrobe on.
She expected a quick trip down the stairs and into the atrium, and was suprised when Gerard scurried across the hall to the study and opened the door. Standing inside was a tall, lithe girl in an elegant blue and gold silk one-piece gown. Creamy blonde hair fell down to her neck in errant, feathered cascades, and round, soft features of her face accentuated her bright, lustrous blue eyes.
Two wolfish ears atop her head twitched occasionally as she read from a book, humming a tune. The tail above her pert rump flicked occasionally as she slid the book back onto the shelf.
Her body was perfect - an example of the goddess Sune's craft. She was lady Freija Caldwynn the half-nymph handmaiden to the lady Firehair.

"How did you get in here?" Selweyn asked with a growl.

Freija giggled and smiled coyly, a smile that could turn fire-giants to mewling whimps, and she laughed, her voice like delicate rain across glass "I let myself in." She replied and cocked her thumb over her shoulder, indicating an open window.

***

Selweyn and Freija spoke at great length about the disappearance of the baroness' daughter, Elsie. With a contract signed, Freija began her investigation of the heiress' belongings and quarters.
Eventually, she found a small curio that caught her eye - a foil wrapper from DeCastillo's fine chocolates. It was a new business in Waterdeep, but already very popular among nobles. Freija herself had received a sample. She found it cloying and sweet, far too rich for her fae palate, however.
There was also an unreplied wedding invitation for the heiress, that occured two days after the disappearance of Elsie.

The next day saw Freija cross the city to speak with the new duchess. She was nattering on, gossiping as nobles were wont to do, but the handmaiden could pick out a few choice pieces of information.
The first was that Elsie had grown paranoid, and cut off all contact with her friends. The second was that she had shady dealings with cloaked men. No descriptions were ever given, and no one in the city recognized them. Third, one of the men had been accosted by a gang of orphan street youths and was beaten and robbed, but made no report. After refusing to give his identity, the guard had ejected him from the city.

Freija's next port of call was the city guard, where she spent an hour sorting through their files. There was a paper trail that led her to an abandoned church, where the guard ws shooing people away. "Carry on, handmaiden, if you know what's good for you." The guard at the entrance stated, his tone exasperated and bored.

"I'm trying to find the baroness Selweyn's daugnter. This is the only lead I have rignt now..." Freija implored.

The guard sighed and scratched his head and groaned "get in speak you piece with the coroner, and get out, hands to yourself. Last thing we need is a bigger mess" the man said and stepped aside.

In the catacombs, Freija discovered why; the walls, floor and even the ceiling were covered with slick, glistening purplish fluid and viscera. The fae nearly retched when she stepped on a finger, tinted a dark blue. "What happened here!?" She asked.

The inspector looked up from his work and sighed, looking around. The smell of cloying blueberry filled the air, and he groaned "no idea. Someone reported screaming, a bunch of street youths running, and then the sound of a drum breaking." The man said.

Freija examined what she could stomach and eventualy found something - a foil wrapper for DeCastillo's fine chocolates...

***

The outside of the building was massive, and nondescript. There was no way in but from a dockside loading gate that wasn't even part of the main complex proper.
The walls were too high to climb, and the grounds were patrolled by mercenaries. DeCastillo was naturally paranoid, and seldom got involved with the common rabble. Her product was for nobles and nobles alone.
Freija slowly approached one of the guard, an aging man with a plumed, conical helmet, and smiled warmly. Before she could speak the man pointed his spear at her "you're trespassing. Scram before I skewer you." He growled.
Stepping back Freija raised her hands and tried to explain herself, only to have the man take a swipe at her "Get! You cur!" He shouted.

Sighing, the fae girl left. She'd return tonight, and case the joint properly. Maybe stick a knife in her new friends squishy bits for the trouble he gave her. On her way back to Selweyn's manor, she stopped, her ears twitching slightly. Someone was shouting... the wolfish fae sprinted down the road, drawing her sword.

"Get off of me!"

Came a young boy's voice, througn the wall of a dilapidated warehouse. Freija kicked the door and raised her sword, only to find herself faced with a sight right out of a nightmare.
The boy was pinned to the dirty, straw covered, floor. A city guard held him firmly with one hand and was trying to bite into the boy's flesh, cutting him with the knife in his free hand.
Freija wasted no time, tackling the guard and driving the swept hilt of her blade into the man's gut with a terrible crack, knocking him out. Sighing, Freija recoiled as she caugnt a whiff of something positively divine on the air. And turned to look at the wounded boy as he bled, wiping the straw and dirt from himself.
Barely able to stop her salivating, Freija shook her head and helped the boy to his feet "are you ok?" She asked, already preparing to cast a remove curse and remove affliction spell.

The boy nodded and murmured his thanks as Freija healed him. Thankfully, he was willing to provide information. The lad was a member of a gang of orphaned street youths, who had stolen a crate of DeCastillo chocolates and intended to resell them.
When someone had doubted the authenticity, the lad had taken a piece.
He quickly found his gang turned on him, most trying to murder and devour him, others simply skipping the murdering part altogether. He had run from his gang, but could find no respite from ravenous mobs.

Freija thanked the lad and gave him enough coin to leave the city. As she strode down the streets a courier ran up to her, huffing loudly before handing her a letter - the baroness Selweyn had demanded her pesence at a gala. She wanted a status update.

***

Freija's skirts fluttered as she strode confidently down the road, lady Selweyn trying, and failing, to keep pace with the lovely fae. Supposedly Lady Lucia DeCastillo was supposed to be present, advertising her wares.
The handmaiden cared little for that, and her report, she wanted to speak to DeCastillo. Inside the gala, nobles scurried about, gossiping and hen-pecking, but most went dead quiet as Freija slowly sauntered past.
She had a reputation, after all. The entire company did. She didn't let it bother her as she took a spot near the refreshments, carefully examining the trays of fine chocolates.

"Like what you see, handmaiden?" An oddly accented voice asked from behind. Freija turned to face the source, and found herself stepping back an inch to give the tall, heavy-set lady some breathing room. She was massive, in both girth and stature, compared to every othe lady present.
Long black hair cascaded down coffee-coloured skin and framed dark brown eyes. Two guards followed the woman, one very familiar, the other an apparent captain.
"Forgive my manners; I am lady Lucia DeCastillo." She said and bowed slightly, taking Freija's hand and kissing it.

The nymph sighed and smiled weakly as she put on her best 'I'm tolerating this entire series of events' face, and made small talk. Eventually Lucia looked to Freija with a warm smile "perhaps I could give you a tour of my facilities." She stated.

Freija giggled and nodded, as she agreed...
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really enjoyed this smiley
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giantjay 2 months
A nice little vignette. Your writing style is very nice, would love to see what you would do with an expanded (no pun intended) story.
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Bluevery 2 months
Heh. Right.
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too fast not enough plot