It was supposed to have been a diplomatic mission, a little trip to secure diplomatic alliances with the Knights of the Undying Sun and, in the meantime, do a little relaxing, basking in the sun of…wherever she was going. While Isabella adored the dark elves, their underground world did nothing for her complexion. In fact, her skin was beginning to take on the frosty color of the moon. This would simply not stand. So, she loaded 72 trunks with her vacationing clothes, including extra skimpy bikinis, and headed a caravan to one of the paladin’s castles.
But, upon her arrival, when she was greeted by delectable little paladin getting swallowed whole by a three-headed dragon, she knew she was in over her head. Isabella delved in secrets, sashaying among the upper crust and giving smoldering looks to whomever needed to be charmed. She crept; she flitted; she disguised; she bluffed; she seduced; she radiated charm. She did not dragon slay.
And yet, somehow, she survived. In addition to surviving a hell hole, she could now add “survived not one, but two, dragon attacks and slayed her would-be killers”. It was certainly not something she would make a habit of.
Oh, but there was a treasure at the end. One dragon, the shadowy Sheza-kah (aka: Chaka “I Feel for You” Khan) had inexplicably carved all her secrets, her careful master-minded plots, into the side of her cave wall. Isabella adored checklists. But, leaving a copy of her plots and secrets carved into the side of a wall in 1’ tall letters took checklists to the extreme. Even though publicly displaying the world-shattering machinations of the Prince of Shadows was probably not the best idea, Isabella did admire the boldness and daring of the dragon. Here was a being with a purpose and a queen-sized ego. Too bad she didn’t want to chat, negotiate or parlay; surely, some sort of understanding could have been reached. And that’s what Isabella missed about the elves—they talked things through. They plotted and smiled at each other with daggers behind their teeth. It wasn’t all about swinging swords and blowing each other up. With the elves, if someone needed to be dispatched there was always a dagger in the back, a poisoned cup, or a poisonous spider slipped surreptitiously under the blankets of a bed. But everyone in Zobeck wanted to fight. From the fascinating Fae-dwellers who were now prowling around the Zobeckian sewers—not exactly the high point of Zobeck, but to each their own—to a plotting dragon, everyone was ready to leap to their swords. Where was the civility?
Zobeck was getting as bad as the dwarves.She would certainly not be missing that as she took her leave of that city that once was her home. But she would miss her companions.
Rafferty had taken a small doll shop and turned it into the center of a rapidly expanding criminal empire, and Isabella reinforced their bond by promising shipments of dark elf poisons, extracted from the spores of fungi of the Under Dark.
Since their last adventure, HK’s musicianship had excelled, reaching mastership. Whenever Isabella was on the verge of a mental breakdown or collapse, he would pipe up with a resplendent song or a robotic word of encouragement. If he could write music as well as he could play, he would have jobs galore in the elf kingdoms as the aristocracy would clamor for ballads.
The half-angelic Sveta, herself a Knight of the Undying Sun, also remained a source of inspiration. Whenever Isabella was feeling down, which was often during this particular caper in which the ravishing spymaster was out of her element, Sveta was there with a prayer or a swat on the back, as if to say “that-a girl” in her warrior-esque way.
Their last night together was bittersweet. Rejoining her companions—her friends—at Ophelia-ups Dinner Theatre, they drank to their success, all the while Isabella wiping away her tears with her perfumed handkerchief as she bid them farewell and promised to keep in touch.