Now, Zol the seventeenth of Therendor, year 969:
The Swiftblade marched the halls of The Twelve in Korth. He notes the Sigils of House Ghallanda, here on the fifth floor, their snarling hound on shield, cornered by grape bunches. Not his mark, of course, but one he could have been born with. He climbs another flight of stairs, his little legs taking the human-sized steps as quickly as he can.
The Swiftblade is unmarked, not claimed in the bloodlines of either Ghallanda or Jorasco. Born in Sharn, the halfling earned his name a few years back, in competition with some of the elves of House Phiarlan, in a knife throwing competition. It seemed like he could draw and throw two daggers for every one of theirs. Lord Aelar d’Phiarlan, the ringmaster of the Hydra Circus, took great amusement in seeing the halfling’s daggers fly. Aelar took him under his wing, naming him Swiftblade and teaching him circus tricks.
But the Swiftblade was not of House Phiarlan, could not bear the Mark of Shadow any more than he could bear the mark of the House that summoned him. The Swiftblade’s quiet little steps took him to a chamber on the ninth floor. The Basilisk gazed down on him from shield above the chamber’s door. Inside, two people sat at a table, facing the Swiftblade as he entered. He crossed his arms, his right hand fingering the dagger strapped to his left forearm.
“We asked you here in peace Swiftblade. There is no need to threaten us.” said the man. The brooch on his shoulder was that of a panther, with four tentacles jutting from its shoulder blades. The Displacer Beast of House Thuranni.
“Come, sit and taste our wine, eat our food, listen to our tale.” said the other, a handsome woman in her fifties, with only a hint of grey hair at her temples. She bore a Basilisk Shield on her shoulder, as befitting a marked member of House Medani.
“Aye. I’ll eat, I’ll drink, I’ll listen, but I won’t say that I’ll agree.” he said, pulling up to the table.
“As you know, Queen Dannel’s babe has just died. Jarot, she named him, after her grandfather, the last true King of Ghalifar.” said the woman.
“Sudden it was. A bit mysterious as well.” adds the Elf. His long black hair hides his age. Perhaps his face is ageless as well, you can never tell with those who worship the dead.
“Cyre is mourning with their Queen. There is some turmoil along the borders. Recently, there was a raid into Eston, to House Cannith’s enclave therein.” she said, glancing over at the elf.
“We had nothing to do with it, that’s to be sure. But we hear things, here in the Tower. Those Cannith heirs have never been able to keep secrets for too long. Especially not from those with our talents.” she added, the pattern on her neck glowing briefly. Her dragonmark was completely visible with the open dress she wore, the stylized eye at the left of her throat, shedding it’s tear across her left breast.
“As I had nothing to do with the child’s death. Of that I’m sure m’Lady Aurelia.” says the Swiftblade, refilling his wine glass already, eying her dragonmark with more than a passing interest.
“Of course. We do, however, know that you have certain talents. Ones that interest us in ways that our Houses cannot.” says Crius D’Thuranni. “I know of your connection to the many shadows, and I know your treachery to them. I do not trust you halfling, but I trust you to get this job done.”
“And what is that you want found?” he asks.
“My daughter.” says Aurelia. I haven’t seen her in years. I fear she may blame me for her father’s death. Or blame Crius here, as she knew I had taken him into my bed. But it wasn’t her father who died, just a loyal member of the House that pretended to be my husband and a father."
“Dead fathers, dead babes. Are you suggesting something better suited for the Thuranni?”
“No. I don’t want her dead. Just found and brought back to me. It’s time she learned who her father really is. And those who she blames for her other father’s death took no part in it. But they were a good misdirection for so many years.”
“This child better be worth the pay I demand.”
“Five Astral Diamonds now, five when I see her face again.”
Ten times what the Swiftblade would normally ask, he thought. “Acceptable. Tell me, how old is this girl now.”
“She’s no girl. She’s a woman grown. Twenty four or so.” She hands him a scroll, with a portrait drawn on it and a description as best Aurelia knows. “Find my Aemilia, halfling. She deserves to know what I’ve hidden from her for so long.”
The Swiftblade left the Tower of the Twelve, wondering where to start. I could call Nataeus, he’s been looking for someone in Cyre for a while now. Maybe he’s heard of a young Medani heiress wandering about. The Mark of Detection wasn’t one that lent itself to hiding. She’ll show her face, I’m sure.