Seven Houses: In the House of the Sun

Candlekeep, 1368

In the chill before dawn Sarevok followed the meandering garden path with a purposefully unhurried stride. While very few scholars were awake at this hour his cover had to be rigorously maintained. In the guise of the monk Koveras, Sarevok was a reserved man given to contemplative silences and quiet pursuits. As such he took the time to admire an enterprising spider that had already caught his prey and was busy wrapping it in a silky cocoon. The web itself glistened with dewdrops, lending the kill an otherworldly beauty.

His time at Candlekeep was almost at an end and though he had learnt a great deal about the Time of Troubles and Alaundo's prophecies, many of the puzzle pieces still eluded him. The library was by no means the perfect research haven as the mage Gorion had set himself up as an unasked for and an unwelcome collaborator: an intelligent busybody with a reputation for shrewdness. Sarevok was loathe to study in his presence lest his interests reveal too much.

Slowing his steps as he neared the library doors he spared a glance to the artfully arranged flower beds by the ponds. He had seen Gorion's child lovingly tend to them together with the innkeeper's daughter - pathetic creatures idling their lives away with such meaningless pastimes. Stepping inside the quiet halls Sarevok started climbing to his usual haunt. In the tiny universe that was Candlekeep's library he could almost forget his heritage, becoming a free - if insignificant - man. Settling his satchel and scrolls in his favored alcove he lit a brass candlestick, selected a half-dozen tomes and started reading, pausing only occasionally to mark an interesting fact or assumption he would later cross-reference.

Today though his thoughts were not on his research but on Gorion's daughter. The tiny gnome was a puzzle, by turns stubborn and assertive, placating and idealistic. It seemed gnomish madness bred true. Yet sane or insane, Glittergold's young priestess appeared to have many a scholar dancing to her tune, helping with studies and chores. The elders however had little time and patience for charming smiles and watched her with wary eyes and disapproving demeanors. Sarevok ruefully thought that there were few chances of foisting her on some unsuspecting gnomish adventurer cloistered as they all were behind Candlekeep's walls.

After a few hours of studying the ramblings of long dead sages Sarevok set aside his books for the customary breakfast in the great hall. Stepping on the second floor he saw Gorion pass a heavy tome to a decrepit looking monk and then take his leave. Feeling that he couldn't bear another of the older man's cryptic remarks or penetrating glances, Sarevok was caught by an inexplicable impulse to flee.

Later he would reason that it was the inability to cause the mage harm which prompted his retreat but in that very instant a thunderous looking Sarevok opened the closest door and jumped inside, breathed a sigh of relief before taking stock of the room and realising that he had shut himself in the second floor broom closet.

The impenetrable darkness, the stale, slightly musty air, the moldy broomsticks and rows of empty shelves between which a man of his stature barely fit seemed only to emphasize the dually hopeless and ridiculous nature of the situation. As he was furiously searching for a solution which would spare him further embarrassment the door was thrown wide open and then promptly slammed shut. He reached for the handle just as a childlike voice whispered 'Avook thaviim' and the outside lock snapped in place.

A stream of foul curses slipped past Sarevok's clenched teeth, most of them directed at the trembling figure in the vicinity of his navel. Zaharra's heart had leapt to her throat: her sanctuary was home to a growling demon the very presence of which made her heart race.

'Blessed Glittergold, in your might and wisdom, spare your faithful priestess!' she said in a trembling voice while raising her hand in a gesture to ward off evil. In doing so her fingers encountered the soft woolen cloth of a scholar's robes. Her shy explorations were abruptly stopped by a calloused hand and a deep voice whispering

'Careful little priestess, few demons are stopped by such childish prayers. Your God is probably laughing at your feeble attempts as we speak.'

Incensed at his casual dismissal Zaharra took a step forward, brushing against the unknown figure while trying to peer upwards into the darkness.

'And what manner of demon, pray tell, wears a scholar's old robes?' she quipped, taking hold of the hand trapping her wrist. Where they had touched, Sarevok felt his skin prickle. On a whim he lifted the little woman on a box and molded his body to hers. Seconds passed in silence unbroken but for their shallow breaths. Sensing her small tremors and rapid heartbeat, his muscles began to strain as if his body was trying to drag the woman closer. Awakened by the tension his divine essence was stirring as well, coursing through him like warm honey, enflaming both bloodlust and desire.

Zaharra was terrified. When they had touched her heart had squeezed almost painfully, as if a part of her was calling out; for the briefest of moments she could have sworn 'something' had answered the call. That certainty magnified her fear tenfold until she could hardly draw enough air, gasping to fill her lungs.

Tracing her features with his hand, Sarevok leaned forward to whisperin her ear 'Free me, little woman. I heard you say the charm to lock us in. Undo it and I will let you go.'

'I can't' Zaharra shamefully admitted 'Imoen always unlocks me after Gorion is gone. He knows I am no mage and would never checked a locked closet. I've never had reason to unlock myself sooner.'

At hearing this Sarevok felt his temper begin to slip; whether it was on his behalf or the girl's he could not have said.

'Fool! You would leave yourself so easily at the mercy of another?! What sort of dimwitted...'

His diatribe was interrupted by the sound of the lock shifting in place and a cheerful voice saying 'He's off with Droopynose. Gotta go!'

Sparing not even a glance to the angry man inside, Zaharra sped off to the inn. The next morning Sarevok had left Candlekeep.

AN1: I hope you've enjoyed this. I have no beta so please be gentle. :)

AN2: I first thought this up as an alternative to SixofSpades's version of Sarevok's diary, an alternative which doesn't make the 17 Intelligence Sarevok sound like a man with little understanding of strategy or subtlety. :)

AN3: 'Avook thaviim' isn't an actual locking spell rather something I made up on the spot and thought it sounded suitably arcane. Zaharra of Candlekeep is a gnomish Cleric/Thief but for plot purposes she can't yet unlock a spell-locked door.