Nick and Veracity rode back to the country estate. Upon arrival, Nick went into his house and Veracity retired to her cottage. She was puttering around in her herb garden when Nick came storming out of his house, followed by his wench, Sarabet. "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded. "She says that she belongs to you now." Veracity smirked. "Go prepare my bed," she commands the servant. "I need to relax." Sarabet hastens to obey her mistress. Nick glowers at her. "I owe you," he comments, "but don't do this again." He stomps off. Veracity makes a moue at him and flounces into her cottage, closing the door behind her.
Veracity lived in comfort on Nick's estate for the next five years. Nick continued to adventure, and she listened with interest to his exploits, learning something of subtlety from his example. Since she'd been living in the country, under the sun, she slowly adapted to the conditions and overcame the problems that members of her race usually had while affected by bright light. Additionally, she spent much time practicing with her whip, learning how to control it expertly.
One day, Nick approached his sibling. "Sister," he says, "I am tired of living a day's journey out of Mansfield. There is too much happening in the city, and I find it difficult to get the magical supplies I need, when I need them, out here. I am moving back to Mansfield." "Really?" responds Veracity. "Can I stay here?" Nick waves his hand impatiently. "No need," he replies. "I am building a tower and you can come with me. I'm getting you unbanished." Veracity looks at him intently and nods. "Thank you, brother," she replies.
Six months later, Nick came again to Veracity. "It is completed," he declared. "Pack your belongings. I move to Mansfield two days hence." "And me?" asked Veracity. "I can come too?" "Certainly," replied Nick. "I gave this estate to the City of Mansfield as a bribe to get you unbanished. They also insist that you behave in town henceforth. You can behave?" Veracity stared at him and slowly nodded. "Thank you, Nick. I owe you now. Yes, I will control myself in public, at least. Thank you."
Nick and Veracity moved into Nick's tower: a fine stone edifice, six stories tall. Nick had the top two floors all to himself. Veracity shared the fourth floor with Cyrill, Nick's cohort. The third floor was given over to the new rooms of the Society of the Moon: Nick had provided each active member with lab space, and the society as whole with a comfortable library and reading room. The second floor had guest rooms for visitors and a dining hall, while the first room housed the kitchen, servants' quarters, and reception room. The whole tower was placed on a good ten acres of land, surrounded by a high stone wall.
A day or two after moving into the tower, Veracity was standing at the front door, looking admiringly at the land outside, planning her herb garden, when, who should come up but Vandis and his father, Alkis. Cyrril fetched Nick who disappeared into a private room with his two visitors. Ten minutes later, the two humans emerged with a drow male. Veracity stared in astonishment: this was the first male drow she'd seen since she was an adolescent. Although this one was unknown, somehow, he seemed strangely familiar.
"Hello, Veracity," said the drow. "It's me, Nick." Veracity stared. "How did this happen?" she asked. "Side effect of a wish," said the drow. Veracity smiled. "You wished to be a drow?" she asked. "How sweet!" The drow waved his hand irritably, just as Nick would have. "No. It just happened to work out this way. I have chosen a new drow name. You can call me: Tebryn Filifar." Veracity laughed. "Tebryn is a fine male drow name. But, why choose a surname? I knew drow of House Filifar. Seems to me, it'll just cause unnecessary questions, if you meet a member of that House in the future." Tebryn scowled at her. "I like it." Veracity smirked. "I'm sure it sounds very fine to you. But still, it seems affected. Congratulations, Nick. Tebryn. Nick." She laughed, and flounced upstairs, flipping her hair, as Tebryn glared at her, shaking his head.
For almost five years after that, Veracity and Tebryn continued living in the tower. Veracity tended her herbs, practiced with her whip, and read the library of arcane lore Tebryn had amassed. She also found herself strangely attracted to the male drow she was living with: the first she'd seen in more than twenty-five years. After all, he wasn't really her brother: at best, as a human, her step-brother. And now well
One day, Tebryn came into her room and looked down at her, frowning. "Yes, Nick?" asked Veracity. "Tebryn," replied Tebryn. "Sister, it's time for you to get off your lazy rear and go out and adventure again." "Oh, Nick," said Veracity. "I can't do that. I can't wear armor, as a mage, but as a fighter, when I approach a monster with my sword " " you get creamed," finished Tebryn. "I've heard all that. Here." He threw a parcel down on the table, which jingled as it landed. Veracity opened the bundle and pulled out a suit of elven chain. "Nick, this is beautiful," she commented, running her hands over the fine mithral links. "Yes," says Tebryn. "And you, as an elf, can wear it and still cast spells. Enough whining!" Veracity gazed at the armor and then looked back at her step-brother. "Yes, Nick. I'll adventure again."
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