Chapter Two

Knickknacks

Pharaun staggered about the room unsteadily, trying to build up the muscles in his legs. Aliisza lounged on the stark wooden table as if it were a divan, watching him as a protective mother cat regards a precariously-balanced kitten.

"So this Memhast, you said he was a mage of some sort, right?" questioned Pharaun, blinking furiously to slow the world's spinning. It was like enduring a hangover while being pitched about on a particularly unruly riding lizard.

"A necromancer," said Aliisza, fluttering her wings distastefully. "You know the type: Skulls, zombies, and all those icky things. He seemed the right man for the job, though. I thought it might be worthwhile not to kill him and see how else he could be of use, but…I was bored, and he wouldn't stop staring at me." She smiled maliciously. "Not that I don't mind people looking, but his intentions seemed about to go beyond that…and he was icky, like I said."

"I've killed for less," said Pharaun. "…And been killed for less." He stumbled, and threw his hands out for support. Aliisza was there in an instant, but he had already broken his fall by grabbing onto a nearby desk. "I thank you for your alertness, dearest," he said, attempting a smile, but it hurt his face. "However, I will be fine on my own."

"Whatever you say," pouted Aliisza fickly. "I'm going to look at the sparkles while you make a fool out of yourself." With that, she strode across the room and out the stone doorway, slamming the solid wooden door behind her.

Pharaun stared after her. Sparkles? But he was soon distracted. When he had broken his fall, his hand had fallen on a small circular object that he was eager to inspect. It turned out to be a ring. He tried to recite a spell that would reveal its function, if any, but nothing happened. He doubted that it was an ordinary ring; he could practically smell the magic radiating off it. But his spell had failed. The only thing he could think of was that his voice was not yet back to normal, or he had not yet achieved the correct mindset so soon after his recovery. Note to self, he thought. Never be resurrected unless absolutely necessary.

His mage instincts screamed at him not to do what he did, but he was feeling somewhat reckless. He slipped the ring to his finger and willed whatever enchantment locked therein to activate, not knowing if would be a simple lulling charm or a potent self-destruct device…

He floated into the air.

He let out a sigh, not realizing he had been holding his breath. It was a Ring of Flying, much like the one Quenthel had dispelled right before she had left him for spider food.

Relieved, he deactivated the enchantment, but left the ring on his finger. Useful things, magic flying rings were.

For the next twenty minutes he slowly made his way around the room collecting spell components and a few potions he recognized. Stuffing them into a handy many-compartmented bag he had discovered under the body of the unfortunate necromancer, he was soon humming merrily, attempting once or twice to whistle before being forced to accept that his newly-reconstructed lips would allow him to do no such thing.

He nearly danced a jig when he came across a small box filled with about half a dozen wands. He eagerly placed them in his new bag for later inspection (he was not so brash as to wave about strange wands!)

He groaned when he found the necromancer's wardrobe, however. The man had extremely little taste in fashion. Everything was uniform black; he didn't have anything against black, but he did enjoy a little variety. Also, the cuts of the cloth were several years behind the latest vogue.

Sighing with distaste, Pharaun put on the new clothes. They were too big, but at least they weren't bloodstained. After hitching up the hem of his robes with a couple of safety pins so he wouldn't constantly trip over them, he decided that he had stripped the dwelling of all its wizardly usefulness.

His spirits soaring with new confidence, he left to join Aliisza.

He found her just outside the door, giggling in a very undemonlike way. Before her was a small globe of light, constantly shifting colors. This, however, was only a means to an end. They stood in the middle of a large cavern, about a tenth of the size of Menzoberranzan. Nearly every square inch of the walls were studded with every shade of quartz and similar crystals. The alu-fiend laughed girlishly as her magelight caused the breathtaking walls to shimmer and…well…sparkle.

"Isn't it gorgeous!" she said elatedly.

"Very much so," Pharaun responded blandly. It amused him to think of the dichotomy that this creature beside him so fascinated by glittering crystals could slaughter villages without so much as a twinge of conscience.

"So what are you going to do now, Mr. Back-From-The-Dead?" asked the half demon innocently after a few more minutes of light manipulation.

"Oh…" said Pharaun, feigning deep thoughtfulness, "I figured I'd call upon some old friends. Do you know where I might find dearest Quenthel?"

Aliisza shrieked with delight and clapped her hands. "Oh sweetie," she said huskily, "you are bad."