When supper was over the guests, Lord and Lady Markelhay, and their niece Marianna, repaired to the lounge. The patriach stood before the gathering and addressed them with an air of gravity.
“When you are sufficiently rested, I would propose an assignment, if you are willing. I would have you venture to Thunderspire Mountain, where lairs the Bloodreaver Clan, a group of hobgoblin slavers and mercenaries who have made their foul presence known to the good folk of these parts. They have taken many of my people as slaves, to sell them in the markets of the undercity. It is possible that your brother is among those they have seized.” He ended the statement looking at Cass, who had stationed herself near one of the windows that looked out on the hill above the town of Fallcrest. Cass looked up from the view and stared the Lord right in the eye.
“If this is true then I for one will undertake this assignment,” she spoke steadily.
“I would of course reward you financially for your labours,” said the Lord, looking around at the others.
Elwanen stirred in his armchair, “Would you require proof of our having completed the task, heads on spikes along the roadside, that sort of thing?”
“It’s better than him bringing them back in a bag,” added Aran, cheerfully.
“Lord Paraig did mention something about that in his letter.” answered the Lord warily. “Let me be clear that I require [i]no proof whatsoever[/i] that the slavers are dead, simply that the slaves themselves have been freed. I would also be delighted if you would accept amongst your worthy company the assistance of my niece.”
Marianna looked up from her wine glass. “My uncle has been trying to get me out of the house for so long now, he rather thinks it apt that should embark upon an ‘adventure’. If you will have me I should be glad to honour his wishes, and give him the peace he so deserves.” Mariana spoke without irony but with a reserve that suggested she may not entirely concur with her uncle.
“I have picked up a few tricks here and there,” began Marianna, “and don’t worry, I will dress suitably for the task ahead.”
“Tell me about this place, Thunderspire Mountain,” ventured Cass.
“Home to the Mages of Saruun, Thunderspire Mountain is named for the storms that beset its peak,” said the Lord. “It sits over an ancient minotaur city, Saruun Khel, but it is in the Seven Pillared Hall that those who live above and below meet, and trade…”