Thia’s skin began to crawl as soon as they entered the room. The heavy, sweet smell that came from the dozens of beeswax candles couldn’t overpower the stench of death emanating from the lich. “Not yet,” Jinnaari whispered. “Let Helix try and talk to him first.”
“He’s an abomination,” she spat out the words.
“Yes, but information’s what we need right now.”
She inhaled deeply, forcing her mind to calm down. She didn’t want to admit it, but the paladin was right. On this matter, anyway.
“Who are you?” the foul creature behind the desk stared at them. “How did you get in here?”
“You must be Ezzat,” Helix stepped forward, his voice neutral. “Pleased to meet another practitioner!” He held out a paw.
The lich looked at it, but otherwise didn’t move. “Did Halaster send you?”
“Oh, no. We’re here for other reasons.”
“And what, exactly, are those? You bring a paladin of Bahamut into my home. And a cleric who wears the symbol of Kelemvor.” His dead eyes narrowed. “Though I sense her loyalties are divided. Are you certain she is who she says she is?”
“Quite,” Helix responded. “While it’s true that another tried to press Thia into Her service, the attempt wasn’t a successful one. I can certainly show you my journal entries, if you like. She is loyal to Kelemvor.”
Thia started. Helix kept a journal? She clenched her jaw. Just how many secrets did these people keep from her?
The smile that crossed Ezzat’s face chilled the blood in her veins. “I’m certain that she is what you believe her to be, in your eyes. Even down here in the Undermountain, word has spread. We know who she is, who the paladin is, and what Lolth has done. Even if they do not.” He grew serious again. “Enough, though. You came here for a purpose. If it was to try and kill me, you would’ve done so by now.”
“My friend here,” Helix gestured toward Jinnaari, “was framed for murder in an attempt to destabilize relations between a barony and the Crown. We were told a lich was behind it.”
“Not me, my friend. Halaster has had communication with the Shadowdusk family. If a takeover of some kind was to happen, they’d benefit. I only wish to remove Halaster from the world.” He rose, “Are you one of Halaster’s apprentices, come to spy on me?”
“I assure you, I call no one master.” Helix said.
“Get ready,” Jinnaari whispered to her. “The negotiations are concluding.”