What if Night (aka Nyx) had chosen to follow Darkmoon instead of Daliah?
By Nyx, the Weaver's Shadow
Mardobas Gamgee stepped lightly down the avenue. His years of training under the master thief of Hovelton provided him with a sure and silent gait that moved him quickly past the many temples and empty foundations. Then, sooner than he had expected, he found it - a smoldering ruin. Mardobas paused at the entrance of the destroyed site and looked in through the cracked archway. A huge crater filled the middle of the temple, with charred and shattered marble surrounding it. Cataclysmic fury had rained down upon this place, blasting through the ceiling and destroying everything. He shivered slightly, the thought coming unbidden to his mind that just by standing there he might be tempting the same fate as met whoever once roamed there, but roamed the world no more.
This had to be the right place, he was sure of it... unless, of course, this was yet another one of the master's famous pranks. Most students learned very quickly how to spot the signs of those practical jokes, soon enough to duck, anyway. Whether it was stealing the gold from new students as they were being taught to steal or setting up 'meetings' with the town guard, the master certainly made life interesting. He claimed it was to keep everyone on their toes. "A comfortable thief is a dead thief, even if he doesn't know it yet," he'd say. But this was different. In all the time he had studied with the master, the old thief had never before told him to be careful.
As he let his eyes adjust to the pale moonlight that fell through the hole above, Mardobas scanned the room. He'd been given no instructions, only the location and the time to be there. That suggested a meeting rather than an acquisition trip. He checked the sky - nearly midnight - and looked about once again, but the place was deserted and devoid of anything of value. Nothing to do then but wait. Quiet as always, the young halfling slipped over behind the remains of the massive stone doors and made himself comfortable. He would be able to see anyone entering the temple, and they wouldn't see him. Excellent.
An hour passed, then two, but Mardobas was patient. A thief couldn't afford to be otherwise. Midnight had long since come and gone, and yet Mardobas waited. The third hour finally came to a close.
Perhaps the master was wrong, he thought. Maybe this isn't the right place, or something has happened to the one I was to meet... Or this is a test to see just how long I'll sit here. If that's what he wants to find out, fine. I'll sit here all night. No reason not to, I'll just -
*Who sent you, boy?* The voice came from directly behind him.
Mardobas leapt from his hiding spot and spun, dagger drawn. There was no one there. He waved his arms around a bit and took a tentative step
forward, but found nothing.
Again the voice spoke, the barest whisper in his mind: *Why are you here?*
"Why?" "Why?" "Why?" came the faint echoes from the shadows.
The thief flattened himself against one wall. He could probably make the doorway, and once in the avenues he could outrun and outmaneuver
nearly anyone. Yes, that was it. He tensed, ready to flee.
*I could make you tell me.*
Mardobas swallowed hard.
*But I will not. Secrets are best tasted without force...*
"Who... who are you?" the young halfling finally croaked out.
The lightest of breezes brushed against his skin and he shivered.
*So that is how you learn of the world, how you find its secrets? Youcjust... ask?* The voice carried the hint of a sneer. *You are a thief,
boy. Use your mind!*
*Tell Me who I am.*
*Or you will die. I do not accept trespassing lightly.*
"You, um, you're an immortal - a god..." Mardobas' eyes frantically searched the room for something, anything, to aid him. "And this, this is
your temple, yes?"
*Are you dead?*
"No?" he squeaked.
*Then so far you are correct. Continue.*
"Okay... you weren't the original god here, 'cause if you were you would have been destroyed. But if you wanted your temple to look better, you
could have had it built better." Mardobas spoke faster and faster as the logic flowed into him. His nervousness shifted to the side and his mind
took over. "So you _want_ you temple to look like this, like there is nothing here. You're hiding! You don't want people to know about you!"
*Very good, boy.*
*Now who am I?*
"You're a god no one knows about." Mardobas blinked. "No, you couldn't be him. He doesn't... exist. Er."
The still air seemed to hold its breath, listening.
Mardobas' voice dropped to a very tiny whisper: "You're... Night?"
Darkness all across the ruined temple shifted slightly at the name and a cloaked form melted out of the shadows. Mardobas could not see into the
inky blackness under the hood of the figure, but he wasn't sure he wanted to be able to, either.
*Very good, indeed.*
Mardobas smiled weakly.
*Hoen, come forward.* The shadows shifted once again, this time revealing Mardobas' master. *You have chosen well, Hoen. Ask of him what
you must.* The figure turned and walked silently over to the crater. He left no footprints.
The master thief faced Mardobas and put a fatherly hand on his shoulder.
There was a faint smile on his face.
"You must listen to me very carefully, lad. I will ask you three questions, and you need answer them truthfully."
Mardobas nodded slowly, his gaze flickering to from the cloaked figures back to the halfling's face.
"You are called to join those who serve the Master of Shadows," he said, falling into cant. "Will you follow Him and to do His bidding as He sees
The young thief's eyes opened wide. "Yes - yes, of course!"
"You are called to join those who serve the Unnamed. Will you bind His voice within your mind and soul, never to reveal it?"
"You are called to join those who serve the Lord of Secrets. Will you seek to learn all that is kept hidden in the world, to know it and to use
it to greater His glory?"
The master thief shook his head. "I am no longer your master, Mardo. He is your master now." He looked over his shoulder at the figure. "Go
Mardobas hesitantly sheathed his dagger and left old thief. Stepping up to the cloaked figure he canted quietly: "My Lord?" The figure turned.
Somewhere deep within the hood twin blood red stars flashed - pain stabbed through the young halfling's chest, searing his heart. He collapsed with
a cry caught in his throat. The sharpness of the agony quickly ebbed, leaving only a dull ache behind. Mardobas slowly uncurled.
"My... my Lord?" he asked, his breath still shaken.
*My mark is upon you now. Upon your heart and your soul. It can never be seen, but I will know it is there, as will you. You are Mine.*
The young thief slowly pulled himself to his feet. "Yes, my Lord," he said, his voice stronger.
*You have much yet to learn, but it will wait. Morning approaches.*
The halfling bowed. "I shall learn all that is shown to me, Lord, and all that is not."
*Yes. You will.*
"Thank you, Lord," Mardobas said, then half-stumbled back to his old master. Together they walked from the temple, checking and double-checking to make sure they did so without being spotted. As they passed through the arch of the doorway, Mardobas looked back. The cloaked figure was gone.
"Should we dust our tracks?" he asked in a canted whisper. The old thief just grinned and slipped off down the hallway. Mardobas looked back
once again. Already the footprints that had been left behind were beginning to fade. Ever so slowly, mote by mote, the dust was creeping into place. The young thief felt a similar grin spread across his face as he turned from the room and headed down the hallway. Yes, there was much yet to learn.
And he would love every minute of it.
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