*Wolf’s POV*

He hadn’t said much to me today, but it was not the first time he’d been angry with me, and I kept my mouth shut as we walked.  I knew I had pissed him off when I left camp without waking him to go goblin hunting, but he would forgive me in a day or so and until then I would wait quietly.  I was about twenty now, and in the ten years he’s been my master, I’ve defied him more often than not; he should be used to it by now. 

We came to a small lake in the middle of a deep dark wood.  I wore a long cloak of deep green that was tied at my waist to shield me from the chill, and the hood of the cloak framed my face.  It contained my wild long sun kissed golden hair, and shielded my sensitive brown and green eyes from the moon lit glare that reflected off the water.  I carried a wand of dark wood and silver in my belt, although I rarely used it anymore, and a small black bag over my shoulder that held all of my possessions. 

My master, Marchus Wicksthorn, was an older gentleman who wore a hooded cloak of black, and a small bag strapped to his back as well.  He carried a long staff in his right hand, which braced a large jagged stone of red ruby in the gnarled and twisted branches.  He had a long white beard and longer hair, and pale blue eyes, like a Zioan stream. He rarely smiled at me, and his face wore his worry and age. 

Marchus led me out into the middle of the lake.  I stood chilled to my waist in the cool black water, but made no sounds.  I knew not where we were, nor what we were doing, but I followed the instructions of my master who acted as if nothing were amiss.  Suddenly, something grabbed me by my feet and started to pull me under. “MASTER!”  I managed to yell before my head disappeared beneath the surface.  

I was pulled into a cold wet tunnel that burrowed far beneath the lake, and the next thing I knew, Wicksthorn was standing before me as I awoke. I must have passed out, but snapped awake and he helped me to my feet.  I put my hand on my wand to make sure it was still there, and also found that my clothes were dry, despite just being soaked only moments before.

I looked about me, and found that I was standing in an underground tunnel under the lake, and as Wicksthorn led me down the dark path, it opened up to a bridge.  I looked and saw the great, large city of Baerevhel.  It was beautifully dark, with stone constructed buildings and bridges, underground waterfalls, and black brick paved streets and paths. We entered the gates and went straight to The Neverwinter Inn.  I had read about cities far below the surface, but had never actually been to one, and I looked all around me in awe, hoping to learn something new.

“Xas? (Yes?)”  The Innkeeper asked in Solothrin.

“One House.”  Marchus replied in the same tongue, setting the coins on the table.  I looked up at him surprised as the Innkeeper gave him the key silently. We never shared a room and I knew something was up now, but I kept quiet, and we went up to the room.  It was a rather small room, but it had a window that overlooked the entire city, which was really nice.  It had a bed that didn’t look too lumpy, a small table next to it, and a chair by the window.

“Where are we Master?”  I couldn’t help but ask.

“Baerevhel.”  He said shortly, continuing to be perturbed with me.  “Wolf?”

“Yes master?”  I replied.

“Can I trust you to stay out of mischief for the next two days?”  He asked as he made up my bed. Fretting over nothing meant he was nervous, and that worried me.

“Yes master, I promise.”  I said quickly, “But where are you going?” I couldn’t help it. He was being so secretive and not like himself at all.

“I must speak with King Darksword...alone.”  He told me, giving me a look that meant I should stop asking questions.  He gave me a small bag of money and the key and we left the Inn together, “I will be back in two days to get you.  Remember your proper Solothrin, and do not bother anyone.  I suggest you go to the book house and study.  Do not forget to eat, or sleep, I know how you can be.”  He said as he patted me briefly on the head.  Solothrin was the language of the Ilythrin people, and I had studied it for years from one of the leading Masters that had moved to the surface.

“Yes Master.”  I said to him as I watched him stamp off. He had never left me alone like this. 

We went our separate ways and I quietly went in search of the book house.  I walked down the dimly lit streets that were virtually empty.  They were lined with different shops that would probably be quite lovely, but it was late and they were all closed.  There were many bridges and paths that snaked all around the city, and it was easy to get lost. 

I found an open tavern and hoping to get a hot meal I stepped inside, pulling my hood up to cover her face.  I took a seat at an empty table in the back, and a serving girl came over to me.  “What’s your pleasure?”  She asked in the rough Solothrin language.

“Just a hot meal please.” I replied in perfect dialect, but as I handed the dark skinned woman my coins,  she was startled at my pale skin. I knew I was in trouble instantly. 

“We don’t serve your kind.”  The woman said roughly.

My hand snapped out and took the woman by the arm, “Please, I mean no harm, I am an apprentice to Master Wicksthorn whose name is well known here.  I just ask for a hot meal. I'll pay double.”

The woman glared at me, and I pulled my hood in such a way that only she could see my eyes, for it was well known throughout Zioa that Wicksthorn’s apprentice had the Goddesses’ eyes, one brown, and one green.  “Fine, but keep to yourself girl, there is a fight tonight and we wouldn’t want you to get hurt.”  she said with a sly glance that told me it would be her that I would have to watch for and not any thugs.

I sat quietly, and kept to myself, the bitter stench of Ilythrin pipe weed attacking my nose.  I observed the room; the people drinking and laughing, the smoke wafting in clouds.  In the farthest corner from me there were men setting up an area for the fights.  The contenders were anxiously waiting outside, practicing their moves and skills.  The first fight had started before my food arrived at my table, and I watched as the largest Ilythrin I had ever seen took the center of the platform.  He was massive; larger than most humans I had seen on the surface, clad only in leather pants, with a huge war hammer resting across his bare chest.  A hooded man followed a few moments later, and even though he was substantially smaller than the first brute, he wasn’t small, and the crowd in the Tavern cheered for him wildly.

His hood stayed up as he sat on the ground with his beautiful curved short swords crossed in his lap, waiting for the bout to begin.  The larger of the two was walking in circles, playing for the crowd, yelling and throwing his arms up as if he had already triumphantly defeated his smaller statured opponent.  The crowd roared and wildly screamed, while I sat in the back corner, quietly waiting for my meal so I could eat and leave.  The barmaid brought my food, tossing it roughly on the table, as she continued to watch the display.

The fight was about to begin; the large man took his position over the smaller, hoping to claim a swift victory.  A large copper bell was struck, sounding the start of the fight, and the large man brought his war hammer over his head to deal a killing blow.  As the hammer came down, the seated fighter threw himself backwards, flipping to his feet from a sit, avoiding the life taking movement.  Before anyone could see what had happened, the large man dropped to his knees, his hammer falling loudly to the ground, clutching his gaping throat wound.  A drop of blood dripped from the tip of one of the curved swords.

I had seen what he’d done. I saw the killing slice though most had not.  In his flip, he had woven his sword past the hammer and with the most skilled precision I’ve ever seen, had sliced the large brute’s throat wide open.  He sat down again, his hood fell, showing his face, with his swords crossed in his lap.  The crowd's cheer sounded like thunder overhead.  He moved his hood back.

I quickly finished my mealy bone ridden stew and dried salt bread, and collected my things to leave.  The crowd had packed into the Tavern by this point, a new challenger was coming in, and there was barely room to breathe.  I squeezed my way past the onlookers, doing my best to keep myself hidden and covered.  I felt a tug at my bag, and I turned to find that a large Ilythrin was grabbing for it.  I quickly snatched it from his grasp, and he caught me by my cloak front, flipping my hood down with his other hand, exposing me to the rest of the Tavern. I let out a small sigh as it got dead quiet for a split second. I had promised to behave.

The vicious patrons by this time were calling for more blood, and the thug raised a small knife to my face.  “What an ugly human.  I knew humans were ugly, but I didn’t know they were that hideous.”  The thug said to me.  I said nothing back, but stared at him with not a shred of fear in my eyes.  “Perhaps I should change this face around to better suit your filthy race.”  My nose twitched as I held my hands out, away from my hidden blade so I wouldn’t be tempted.

His blade dug deep into my cheek. I didn’t even wince as it sliced through the skin; I just stared at him.  I felt the sting of steel slicing through my flesh, but it suddenly stopped with a quick jolt.  My feet dropped to the floor, and the Ilythrin who had held me, knelt before me.  He grabbed my shirtfront before his last breath left him, pushing me back to the ground with his dead weight.  I realized the Ilythrin who had won the first fight was standing over me, one of his short swords embedded into the other thug’s back up to the hilt, the blade protruding through his chest.

He wiped the blood on the dead man’s clothing and offered me his hand to help me up.  I saw his face when he did, his yellow eyes piercing into me, the image flashing mask magic, to give him another face and hide his true identity had failed for a moment, at least to my eyes.  I stood in the thick crowd with his aid, and rather roughly, he pushed me through the crowd and out of the Tavern.  My feet hit the street and when I turned to thank him, he was gone.  Back into the Tavern, and back to the fights.