The Four Winds
Ikidrom slightly off
It was near midnight and the group was all aboard the Whispering Wind, which had been totally unaffected by the strange magical surge and hadn’t even known about it till it was already over. The gnomes, instead of rushing to investigate, just sniffed professionally at the unpredictability of magic and that more humans should put faith in the reliability of science. Then they went to ask Arylins permission to use their tree shredder of doom.
But at midnight, Damian snuck off the ship and recast his flying spell, flying far off to the west, past the graveyard and a good four miles away from Suzial. He left Woody behind since the weasel didn’t like Ikidrom. Besides the weasel was still acting intoxicated. He found a good spot that looked dry and firm and concentrated.
It took longer then normal. And the dots that normally showed up solid blue took on a almost greenish tint to them. The pentagram didn’t seem perfectly formed like it always had been. Damian was worried that maybe Ikidrom was taking longer, and the magic wasn’t as holding as it had been. Maybe Ikidrom could use tonight and break free!
Damian honestly didn’t know if that would be good or bad for him. Probably good considering all the help Ikidrom had provided but he couldn’t be completely sure. For a creature that absolutely couldn’t lie, Damian still didn’t trust him all the way.
Eventually the smoke filled and formed into a solid figure and Ikidrom stood in the center of a off-center pentagram. The unnatural cold that emanated from him felt the same as normal and somehow that comforted Damian.
“Ah the prodigal son. It is so good to see you again.” Ikidrom began, with his typical sarcastic comments and smirky smile.
As usual the only thing in the dark cloak that Damian could see was his pasty white chin and thin lips. Face still totally concealed with no hint if he was human, elf, half-elven, or something altogether different.
“I came to countermand an order.” Damian began. There was something a little different about Ikidrom, something that had never been there. Only talking with the devilish creature for so long did Damian notice it and only because he always watched him close. But Ikidrom was slurring his speech just ever so slightly.
“You know better then that. A deal is a deal after all.” Ikidrom said, his smile never leaving his lips.
“I never paid you anything for this. It was a favor I asked for and I have changed my mind.” Damian said.
“Are you having a conscious attack? It must be the elven wench Talindra and her little brat. Or are you scared of Arylin and that weapon of hers?” Ikidrom had mocked him at first, but mentioned Arylins weapon seemed to be more serious. “What does it do anyway? Kenowors soul never made it back to Cania.”
Damian had never heard Cania mentioned before and decided to tuck that name away for later. Did Ikidrom slip when he said it? No, he never said anything he didn’t mean, he must want Damian to know the name Cania. But then again his speech was ever slightly off.
“Yes it has to do with Talindra. I dont want her dead. And my reasons are my own.” Damian thought about adding that he wasn’t scared of Arylins sword but didn’t say anything. First because if he were honest, Damian had to admit he was a bit nervous of the blade. If he did have to die, he didn’t want it to be by that particular sword. And second because he didn’t want to tell Ikidrom all his secrets.
“I dont care about what you want! I asked you a question and demand an answer!” Ikidrom said shouting and stepping closer, nearing the edge of the off-shape holding spell.
Damian was a little stunned. Ikidrom rarely lost his temper. It had happened before, but a god had been involved back then. Also he wasn’t sure if the strange shaped circle would hold Ikidrom, it wasn’t perfectly shaped and the color was slightly off. He didn’t know if Ikidrom could leave it or not, but would rather not find out. But the biggest surprise was that there was finally something Ikidrom didn’t know. He didn’t know what Arylins sword did either.
Realizing that Ikidrom was waiting for an answer, and not wanting him to take another step and push the boundary of his cage, Damian quickly answered. “I honestly dont know. And I truly believe that neither of the Starflower sisters do either. They have been trying to find anyone that could answer that question. She even asked that deva Trias.”
Ikidrom winced at the name of the angel and put on hand on his head like it gave him a headache. This was the least in control that Damian had ever seen him. If he didn’t know better, he would say Ikidrom was slightly sick. Maybe it had something to do with the magic hiccup earlier.
“You wanted Talindra dead. She will be dead. You cannot be wishy washy with your commands if you hope to succeed in your task. You must make a decision and stick with it.” Ikidrom said finally, though a little subdued.
Damian thought of arguing, but held his tongue. He had worked with Ikidrom enough to know that the devil would soon offer a bargain. He would want something more then one pesky elven woman dead. The trick was not letting on that he knew Ikidroms game.
Damian shrugged and nodded his head as if he accepted the devils decision.
“Unless.” Ikidrom mused outloud.
Damian manage not to smile. He was getting the trick of these deals.
“Maybe we could make another bargain, you and I.” Ikidrom said.
“What? One of my powers back or something?” Damian asked.
“No no. All bargains are final, you know that.” Ikidrom admonished. “That sword is dangerous Damian. It killed a major devil on the Prime Material without sending its soul back to Hell. That shouldn’t happen. There are very very few weapons that could accomplish that task, even gods cant do it without extra aid.”
Damian nodded. He was starting to suspect that there was more to Arylins sword then just some weird novelty. He had ignored it up to now, as he ignored most melee fighting. But perhaps he should pay more attention to this anomaly.
“Tell me everything you know about the sword.” Ikidrom commanded.
Damian thought about refusing, just to prove that he was still his own person and not a puppet for Ikidrom to command as he saw fit. But this wasn’t a battle worth fighting so he told Ikidrom everything he knew about the weapon. This was the first time that Ikidrom had ever wanted Damian to explain anything. Up till now he had always just known.
It took almost ten full minutes for Damian to say everything he knew, heard, and suspected about the sword. It might have taken less but Ikidrom interrupted a few times, a little obnoxiously it seemed. By the end Ikidrom was quiet and thinking.
“You will have a chance to call of the hit on Talindra Starflower. But you must sign a contract in blood. You must find out what that sword is and how it works. And if it specifically targets evil outsiders then you must find a way to destroy it or hide it forever. You will have thirty days to accomplish this task. Talindra Starflower and that whiney brat will bath in their own entrails on the morning of the thirty-first day if you fail.” Ikidrom said.
Damian again hid his surprise. Ikidrom had always forced Damian to agree to a contract before telling him what his terms would be. He had apparently forgotten this time. He also hadn’t really thought this all the way through. If Damian didn’t accept the terms then Talindra would die. If he did accept the terms and fail, then Talindra would die anyway, really leaving Damian no worse off then he was before.
Something happened to Ikidrom, something to ‘put him off his game’ so to say. He was always an asshole to deal with, but he had always been in control. The changes would be too subtle for almost anyone else to notice, but they were glaringly obvious to Damian.
Normally Ikidrom would never talk about anything else until the contract issue was dealt with, but Damian took a chance.
“Do you know anything about the crazy magic effects that happened earlier at the parade today? Was that you? Was it one of my companions?” Damian asked.
As he hoped, Ikidrom answered “I dont know what happened. I have never felt anything like it before. I do not know where it came from or what caused it. But I will find out.” he looked closer at Damian and that sarcastic smirk came back “But enough stalling, will you accept the bargain or not?”
It was as straightforward answer as Damian had ever gotten from the fiend, he decided not to press his luck. Though that still left the question of what happened and why, Ikidrom seemed to be in the same boat as the rest of Cormyr.
Damian thought about it. He really didnt have much choice if he wanted Talindra to live. Which is why Ikidrom put it to him like this. And agreeing ment that Ikidrom would learn about the secrets of the sword basically for free. Still he knew he would agree, he just didnt know if a month was long enough. They needed to do a couple of things immediatly, the parade had slowed them down a bit.
“Before I agree.” Damian started “I will do as you ask and find out anything there is to learn on the sword. But a month is not enough time. Everyone we have ever talked to, has known nothing. And we have talked to many knowledgeable creatures and scholars.”
Ikidrom kept his normal mocking smile firmly in place. He almost seemed to chuckle a little. “Poor boy. What use are those powers of yours if you cannot handle such a simple request? You ordered her death in the first place, and now you are trying to break out of your own word. Very bad form.” he said chidingly.
Damian didnt let him goad him. Damian knew that Ikidrom would either accept the offer or not, but Damian wouldnt lose his composure.
“Since you are mortal, and frightenly weak at that, then I will extend it to forty five days.” His smile twisted and took on a cruel aspect. “But be warned. On the morning of the forty sixth day, if that information is not given to me. Then I will take great pleasure in knowing how horrible the wench and her brat were torn apart and eaten alive.”
Damian didnt flinch, even though it was a horrible fate. Simply said “I accept the bargain.” Then he signed the contract Ikidrom held out for him in his own blood. He was actually happy that Ikidrom was slightly off, usually the fiend didnt budge from a posistion once he had decided. However Ikidrom seemed to slowly be returning to his normal self.
“As you wish. Remember that this doesn’t excuse you from your current obligation. You already received your power and must close the portal in the Orvaskyte Ruins forever. You need to either trick Arylin into helping you open it or force her to do it, if your not going to just sacrifice the three elves and dwarves.” Ikidrom said.
“Shouldn’t be hard, the whole group wants to explore the place already anyway.” Damian said calmly.
“Dont forget to pick up Fireblood. You will need it later.” Ikidrom said, that mysterious streak of his finally reasserting itself.
In fact his speech stopped slurring and the pentagram turned from dark green back to fully blue. As Damian looked the pentagram itself straightened itself to a perfect circle with a perfectly shaped upside-down star.
“You keep mentioning this task of mine. But have yet to tell me what it is.” Damian said a little exasperated.
“With time Damian. All things with time.” Ikidrom said, mocking smile firmly in place. And with that he faded into smoke and the blue lights that made up the points of the pentagram slowly faded into nothingness.
Damian stood there for a few more minutes in the darkness. Thinking. Alot of things ran through his mind, especially as he flew back to the Whispering Wind. When he returned he saw that Gren had returned. They were the only two awake on the deck and she looked right at him.
At first Damian thought she was out robbing the houses she had smashed earlier when she was a giant. But looking at her sad face, he realized that she had been searching for the missing halfling. When she slowly shook her head sadly, Damian knew that her search had not been successful.
He was even more surprised to see actual tears in her eyes. It seemed the strange goblin creature actually cared for Sunny.
Damian left her to her thoughts and returned to his quarters. Inside he saw that Woody had finally fully recovered and was back to his usual rodent self.
He lay on his bunk, absently petting his familiar on his chest, staring at the wooden deck above. Polk and Bane snored loudly nearby but Damian ignored them. He noticed how Ikidrom hadn’t said a word in anger that Kenowor had been killed, only the nature of the Baatezu’s death. He hadn’t mentioned when Ichiro had died either.
Damian drifted off to sleep, with dreams of devils and battle running through his mind. Shifty deals and blood contracts. And of standing on a road, no idea who he was, a genie at his side……….