Biting into the apple, Jinnaari walked toward the blacksmith. Henry had asked for five days to alter the armor to accommodate his new wings. He’d given him seven.
Steam rose from the forge as he neared. They were busy today. For a moment, Jinnaari contemplated spending some more time practicing his flying skills. No, he thought, I’m as good as I can be without the armor. Time to find out how to compensate for the weight.
“Evening, friend,” he called out as he ducked under the low hanging awning.
“Your Highness,” Henry bowed slightly. Jinnaari’s tail twitched. He didn’t like people here using his new title. “I didn’t expect you today. Is the armor not fitting well?” He picked up a rag and wiped his hands with it.
“What are you talking about? I’m here to pick it up now. I haven’t seen it yet.”
Henry looked at him, concern on his face. “I finished it two days ago, as promised. One of the new recruits came, said he was to bring the armor to you. Drakkus’ orders. Perhaps it’s being blessed?”
“I’m sure it’s a simple misunderstanding. I’ll go find the Commander and get this straight.” Curiosity ran through his mind as he left the smithy. Why would Drakkus pick up his armor and not tell him?
“Prince Jinnaari!” A young boy ran toward him. “The Commander says you’re to meet him. I was sent to show you the way.”
“Is there a problem?”
“No, not that I know of. But he said you had to come with me right now.” The boy darted ahead then turned back around, waving his arm. “He’s this way.”
Something wasn’t right. “Let’s go back to my quarters first. I need my sword.”
The boy’s eyes widened. “No, you can’t. You have to come. Now. That’s what the Commander said.”
First, no armor. Now, no weapon. It wasn’t ideal, but the boy was insistent. Sighing, Jinnaari tousled the boy’s hair. “Fine. We’ll do it your way. Lead me to the Commander.”
The boy led him through a few familiar tunnels, then veered down a seldom used passage. “Where are we going?”
“It’s not far. I promise.” The boy reached for a torch burning in a wall sconce. “The staircase is this way.”
They rounded another turn and came to a dead end. “Lad, there’s nothing here.”
“Are you certain, Althir?” Bahamut’s voice sounded from behind him.
Jinnaari spun around and lowered his head, “My Lord.”
Turning, there was now a sturdy wooden door, bound with iron, in the wall. Torches flanked it, flickering with an unnatural green light.
“The dark one you’ve been training with escaped. He’s in there. Find him, destroy him before he can get to the portal in the center. Do this, and you will be allowed to return to your companions.”
“I need my armor and sword.”
“Everything you need is in that labyrinth. More, even. It’s up to you to find it all.”
“That’s the test, then? Kill one Drow, find my gear?”
“The dark one isn’t the only inhabitant within those halls. And they guard the treasures within well. If you can get past them all and find the portal, you’ll complete the training I require of you.”
Jinnaari looked back over his shoulder. “I will do this.”
“For Thia’s sake, I hope you do. You will get no help from me or Kelemvor once you enter. If you don’t succeed, death will not be swift or merciful. The denizens make examples of failure.”
Squaring his shoulders, he took a deep breath. Reaching out, he tugged at the large iron ring and swung the door open. He grabbed at one of the torches and crossed the threshold.