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Sunday, 21st September, 2003, 08:47 AM #1
[FR] Seven Swords of Myth Drannor...[Updated 2-4...A Mother's Lullaby]
This story hour will chronicle the adventures of a group of heroes known as The Seven Swords of Myth Drannor, so named for seven magical swords they found in the ruins of Myth Drannor.
Celtavian Magerius, Half-elf (Sun) male (Mnk 2/Wiz 5/Cleric of Mystra 2)
A mysterious silver-haired half-elf from Silverymoon with a talent for magic and a strong sense of justice, he was a pupil of Elminster for a short time before taking up with a hermit that lived on the outskirts of Shadowdale who taught him there is more to surviving the dangers of adventuring than knowing how to cast powerful spells.
Holly Windstrider, Human (Turami) female (Rang 2/Clr of Shaundakul 6/ Windwalker 4)
A very young dark-skinned young woman originally from Turmish, but raised in Cormyr, with an adventurous spirit and a growing faith in Shaundakul, a god of travel. Holly is a Cormyrean war veteran who fought against the hordes of goblins and orcs during the dragon war. She serves Shaundakul by helping those she meets on the road. She seeks the great temple of Shaundakul in Myth Drannor.
Kayla Marivaldi, Human (Turami) Female, (Ftr 1/Sorc 9/Eldritch Knight 2)
A young, beautiful, charismatic dark-skinned woman from Turmish, she is the daughter of a magistrate from Alaghôn and a woman from a merchant family. Kayla traveled to the Dalelands with an adventuring group known as The Company of the Catlash with the intent of accompanying them to Myth Drannor. During the trip from Turmish to the Dalelands, she found that she could not get along with one of the members, Kaldura a female dwarf warrior. When they reached Shadowdale, Kayla parted ways with the adventuring group. She met Holly, an old childhood friend from Alaghôn, during the Shieldmeet celebration and decided to travel with her to Myth Drannor.
Morn Softwind, Human (Chondathan) Male, (Rng 2/Rog 8/Ftr 2)
A handsome tawny-haired human man from the Dalelands who worships Shaundakul, Morn joined up with the group after they rescued him from certain death at the hands of Vhaeraunian brigands. His real parents are dead and he was raised by a Ranger of Shaundakul who rescued him as he was about to be sacrificed to a devil. He faithfully serves Shaundakul and currently seeks to join his adopted father at Shaundakul’s Throne in Myth Drannor.
Phallon Spidermoon, Dark Elf female (Wiz 4/Ftr 4/Clr of Eilistraee 1/Bladesinger 1)
A beautiful silver-haired dark elf woman from the Temple of Eilistraee in the Velarswood, she is learning the ancient elven art of bladesinging and possesses the voice of an angel. Her father is a prominent bladesinger and her mother a powerful and respected priestess of Eilistraee. Her twin sister is Thourne Spidermoon.
Note: Due to the changes to the Bladesinger in the The Complete Warrior, the player the wanted to change her base spellcasting class to Wizard. I allowed the change even though we were well into the campaign.
Thourne Spidermoon, Dark Elf female (Rang 2/Ftr 2/Clr of Eilistraee 5/Sword Dancer 1)
A beautiful silver-haired dark elf woman from the Temple of Eilistraee in the Velarswood, she is a faithful member of Eilistraee’s clergy and aspires to master both blade and dance. She is abnormally pure of heart even when compared to other good dark elf followers of Eilistraee. Her father is a prominent bladesinger and her mother a powerful and respected priestess of Eilistraee. Her twin sister is Phallon.
Uthar’zen Del’Armgo, Dark Elf Male (Monk 5/Ftr 5)
An extremely tall, strong and handsome dark elf male from the fabled city of Menzoberranzan, he is the son of Uthegental, former first boy and weaponmaster of House Del’Armgo (now deceased), and a female commoner of great beauty. Uthar’zen was in-line to be the next weaponmaster and first boy of House Del’armgo prior to his presumed death on a drow surface raid. He left the city with a raiding party led by a mage of some power who wished to explore the abandoned Elven Court in the Cormanthor forest. They were ambushed by Eilistraeean’s and killed nearly to a man. He was one of the few survivors and was taken prisoner.
Uthar’zen had always harbored the desire to leave Menzoberranzan and escape the yoke of female rule. This seemed like an excellent opportunity, so he feigned interest in conversion to the goddess known as Eilistraee. After living amongst the Eilistraeean’s for a few years, he fell in love with two young drow women of exceptional beauty, Phallon and Thourne Spidermoon, and though he does not choose to follow the Dark Maiden fully yet, his deep love of the twin sisters has kept him loyal to the followers of the Dark Maiden’s faith. He has been well-treated by Eilistraee’s clergy, and feels obligated to return the favor. Now he wanders the Cormanthor with the twin sisters combating evil and awaiting the day when Mez'barris finds out that he still lives.
Vaevictus, Half-Dragon (Silver) [Human] Male, (Pal 7 of Torm/Div Cha 3 of Torm)
A large very prominently draconic half-dragon with silver scaly skin and silvery serpent eyes, he was born to a human priestess of Torm and a Silver Dragon who served as a defender of Myth Drannor before its fall. Vaevictus is loyal to his friends and allies. He serves Torm absolutely and does not quail in the face of evil. His only desire is to see Myth Drannor rise again from ruin so that he can follow in his father’s footsteps defending the great and ancient city.
Braydin Bramblefoot, Halfling (Lightfoot), (Rang 2/Rog 4)
A handsome, muscular Halfling man who dresses like a swashbuckler and talks like one too, he is the son of a Halfling retired adventurer turned farmer and his wife. Braydin is a true adventurer, who adventures for the sake of adventure. He is brave and curious and always ready to take chances to see an adventure through. Braydin met Holly and Kayla at the Shieldmeet celebration in Battledale and decided to join the two young lasses on their journey to Myth Drannor.
Note: Killed by Vhaeraun worshiping drow priest during raid on secret outpost.
Last edited by Celtavian; Wednesday, 4th February, 2004 at 01:45 PM.
Sunday, 21st September, 2003, 09:07 AM #2
Session 1: Serendipitous Meetings...
Session 1: Serendipitous Meetings…
Eleasis 7, 1372, Year of Wild Magic…
The beauty of the Cormanthor Forest in the summer is unrivaled. Green leaves and flowery vines rest upon thousand year old trees like beautifully woven clothes making the forest seem alike to a kingdom of majestic tree kings and queens born in a time of forgotten magnificence. These kings and queens of the forest stand tall and unbent silently remembering legendary times when they called the elves their kin.
This beauty is but a veneer for the Cormanthor is filled with shadows, shadows that hide many perils for those who would enter the ancient elven forest in search of adventure. For though one may find the way to the ruins of Myth Drannor, once the greatest city of magic ever to exist in the realms save for the flying cities of Netheril , one could just as easily find the way to the lair of a hungry green dragon; such is the mystery, majesty, and malice to be found within.
Even with so many perils, many still linger. Some who have called the Cormanthor home for years longer than elven memory such as fey folk and dragons unchanged and unwilling to change. Others are newly arrived usurpers seeking to turn the Cormanthor into a realm of darkness. For within the ancient forest a war is being fought, a war without end as the old inhabitants battle the new for the soul of the forest.
Two pairs of pale blue eyes watched the hill giant pace back and forth as it searched the surroundings for intruders. Fortunately, this hill giant, being not very keen as was usual for its kind, did not see the two dark elven women to whom the pale blue eyes belonged hidden amongst the trees that surrounded the encampment of camouflaged tents it was guarding.
Beyond the giant, several cloaked dark elves moved back and forth amongst the tents. They were stowing gear and preparing to break camp. Near the center of the camp stood the obvious leaders of this shadowy lot, a dark elven man dressed in the robes of a mage and an armored dark elven woman bearing the religious trappings of a Lolthite.
“This giant will do as it is told, will it not?” said the Lolthite.
“Yes. It will do as ‘I’ tell it” the dark elven mage replied.
“How long till the human patrol is in position for our ambush?” said the Lolthite.
“Not long, I have scried upon them. They are skirting the wood as we speak. I would estimate their arrival in two hours at the latest. We will be in position and well-prepared by then” replied the dark elven mage.
“Good. I look forward to killing these humans. We will teach them with great pain and suffering the difference between the elves they know and the elves they will learn to fear. These lesser races think we have forgotten them, that they have driven us below. Now they will know that Lolth’s eyes have once again turned towards the sunlit realms. Soon they will toil under the dominion of the drow as they have in the past” the Lolthite spoke with venom.
The dark elven mage turned his head away and smirked while replying in the most respectful voice he could muster, “More slaves to serve and sacrifices to abate our dear Spider Queen.”
“Lolth’s favor will be great if we succeed” the Lolthite snapped while looking evilly at the dark elf mage, “and her punishment will be equally as great if we fail. Be sure that we do not fail.”
That finished the conversation. The dark elven mage gave orders to the cloaked dark elves and the hill giant. The hill giant set off first moving noisily through the forest. Shortly thereafter, the campsite was non-existent. The cloaked dark elves and their leaders set off through the wood following well behind the noisy giant. They moved quickly and quietly unseen by any save the two dark elven women who had remained hidden in the nearby trees protected from keen elven eyes by elven cloaks.
The two dark elven women marked the movements of the troop, and then moved quietly and warily through the wood to their own campsite. Uthar’zen, an extraordinarily tall and muscular dark elf male with short-cropped white hair and pale silver eyes, stood waiting anxiously for their return. His well-manicured hand resting upon the hilt of his finely made rapier. The two women suddenly appeared as if they had walked out of the trees, such was the magic of their elven cloaks. He tensed ready for battle.
“Worry not my love. It is I and my sister” Phallon said as she pulled back the hood of her cloak and stood on her tiptoes giving Uthar’zen a kiss on the cheek. He put his arms around her and lifted her from the ground kissing her full on the lips.
“They move to ambush a patrol of humans from the Dalelands. I have walked in this part of the forest. We are near Mistledale, so most likely they ambush the Riders” said Thourne as she too pulled back the hood of her cloak.
The two dark elven women were identical twins. Both lovely beyond words, they represented the quintessential vision of dark elven beauty having long silvery hair and lithe, athletic, and muscular figures well-developed in all the right places. Their angular elven faces possessed a beauty commonly seen amongst the fey, most alike to dryads and nymphs who are considered the fairest of the fey. Their pale blue eyes, a most striking oddity amongst the dark elves, enhanced their already considerable beauty.
The only discernible difference in appearance between them was their hair. Thourne’s long, wavy hair was worn in a loosely tethered pony tail with small leafy twigs and flowers adorning it, while Phallon’s hair was made up of many tight micro braids which she let hang loosely over her body. Both had not cut their hair in years so that it now descended a little past their knees in length.
“How many did you count?” Uthar’zen inquired. He set Phallon down and caressed her hair. He couldn’t resist kissing her again on the forehead.
“At least ten soldiers and two others, there are probably more that we did not see” the twins stated in unison.
Uthar’zen grinned. The twin’s propensity to speak concurrently always amused him. “What are we to do, my twin queens?”
“Wait. We cannot defeat them all. There is a cleric of Lolth amongst them…” said Thourne.
“…and a mage who has a giant as a servant” said Phallon who spoke exactly as her sister finished so it seemed as though they spoke with one voice.
“Then we are overmatched?” said Uthar’zen.
“Yes, and I don’t believe Tavitha will arrive with aid in time, so the three of us will need to act” the twins said in unison.
“What then is our plan?” said Uthar’zen.
“We will watch from the wood awaiting the commencement of the ambush…” said Thourne.
“…then we will attack from the rear hopefully drawing off some of the brigands…” said Phallon.
“…the Riders are known to be competent warriors…” said Thourne.
“…hopefully with our assistance…” said Phallon.
“…they will be able to defeat the ambush” the twins said in unison.
Uthar’zen nodded. “That seems a most reasonable plan. Let us see it through.”
The twins nodded. “Let’s move”
Thourne tracked the cloaked dark elves, her sister and Uthar’zen followed, all moving as quietly as stalking animals. The trail led them to the edge of the forest that bordered Mistledale. They hid amongst the trees within sight of the open grassland that lay just beyond the forest’s edge.
“I see no one. They are hidden well, probably using piwafwi” Uthar’zen said after unsuccessfully searching for any sign of the hidden dark elves.
“It will be difficult to detect them until they attack. Keep sharp and await their movements. They will show themselves soon enough” the twins responded.
“What about the mage” Uthar’zen asked.
“I have called for aid in dealing with the mage. Hopefully it will come” said Thourne.
“What aid? Did we not agree that Tavitha would not arrive in time?” said Phallon, as both she and Uthar’zen looked at Thourne with surprised curiosity.
“Not Tavitha or other Eilistraeean’s…You will see soon enough…I hope” Thourne replied.
* * * *
“Holly, where are we?” Kaela said in a bewildered tone.
Holly looked up through the canopy of trees. She couldn’t get a good look at the sun, so she wasn’t sure what direction they were going in. She pulled the map out of her magic haversack and studied it for a few moments. “We should be getting close to Myth Drannor. We’ve already been traveling for nearly a tenday. I don’t understand why we haven’t found even a trace of the ruins. Maybe I am reading the map wrong.”
“Or maybe that shyster Feldon sold you a false map” quipped Braydin, “Let me take a look at the map, see if I can figure out where we are.”
Holly glared at Braydin. The Halfling was getting on her last nerve.
Braydin just smiled big and held out his small hand. “C’mon, let me see the map. I can’t see it from down here. Anyhow, maybe if I lead, you won’t walk so fast and leave me behind. I can’t keep up with your long legs and fast pace. These short Halfling legs can only go so fast for the love of the gods.”
Holly chuckled, “Long legs? Maybe to you, but my legs are considered short and stout by human standards. My sister Jahlyl has long legs, if you see her, then you’ll know what long legs are.”
“Long legs or no, you walk too fast. Now let me see the map.”
Holly reluctantly handed the map to Braydin. “You know these lands better than I, so take a look. Maybe you can figure out where we are.”
Braydin had been slowing them down all day. Holly hadn’t been too keen on taking a Halfling along in the first place, and now she had a good reason why she wouldn’t take a Halfling on her next trip: they walk too slow!
Otherwise, he hadn’t been so bad. He was quite a good scout and had sharp eyes and ears for trouble. Already they had avoided a confrontation with a bear and got the jump on a group of brigands due to Braydin’s scouting. She was mainly worried about his well-being. To Holly, Halflings looked like children. “It wouldn’t do to allow harm to come to a child” she had said to Kaela “I’ve seen enough dying to last me a lifetime.” Kaela had assured her that Halflings made the best scouts and that it would be an insult to treat a Halfling like a child. So she had relented to allow Braydin to come along, which so far had been good advice.
“Well, Braydin, can you do any better than Holly?” Kaela asked. “I’m sick of walking and my feet hurt.” She sat on the ground.
“Well, if I were to venture a guess, I’d say we’re somewhere near Mistledale. The forest seems familiar, but without having a good look around, I can’t be sure. Anyhow, we’re nowhere near Myth Drannor. I’ve never been to Myth Drannor, but I’ve been here before.”
Holly stood behind Braydin and looked over him at the map, “Are you sure? Maybe you just don’t remember.”
“I remember just fine. This isn’t new territory, just the same old wood bordering the Dalelands, probably near Mistledale.” Braydin studied the map some more. “If we keep following this map, we’ll probably end up back in Battledale or maybe make it all the way to Harrowdale. It’s a fake, and following this map won’t get us to Myth Drannor. That shyster Feldon probably sold you a map of his trip around the Dalelands.”
Holly took the map back. She ran her hand through her short, windswept black hair as she looked it over trying to find something she had missed. She refused to believe she had been conned. “We’ll try veering a little to our east. That should bring us out of the wood and allow us to get our bearings.” She thought to herself ‘I hope I didn’t pay the last of my gold for a fake map.’
Holly had bought the map from a human mage named Feldon during the Shieldmeet in Essembra. It had taken her over a week to find someone willing to sell a map to Myth Drannor. Most folk both adventurer and commoner alike didn’t want to send such a young girl to her presumed death. But the human mage she bought it from didn’t seem to mind. At the time she thought it was a lucky break, but now she was wondering if Feldon wasn’t thinking the same thing because he had found such a gullible fool to pawn his map off on for a hefty price.
Holly could feel Kaela’s eyes on her. Kaela had been certain the map was false, but Holly had insisted on buying it anyhow. She didn’t like being wrong, especially in the eyes of a friend who didn’t know the first thing about woodcraft.
Braydin sighed, “Fine, I’ll follow you to the ends of the earth if that’s where this map leads. No use trying to get you to believe me.”
Kaela studied Holly for a moment, “Braydin is from these lands. Don’t you think we should heed him on the matter of the map? We can find someone else to show us the way to Myth Drannor.”
“Are you two coming?” Holly said tersely. “Just give it a few more days at the least, and if we don’t find our way, we’ll head to a town and start again. I have faith that Shaundakul will provide the way, whether it is this map or some other way. We just have to keep on going.”
Kaela said resignedly, “So be it, let’s go on.”
They set out through the forest again.
* * * *
A group of seven well-armed, lightly armored horsemen rode in a loose formation along a part of the Cormanthor forest that bordered Mistledale. With them rode one heavily armored knight wearing a strange helmet in the shape of a dragon’s head. They traveled at a slow gallop surveying the forest for any sign of trouble.
“Keep alert. The drow are like shadows under the eaves of the forest. Be wary of any movement, even if you think your eyes are foolin’ with ya” commanded Beorn Oldbear, a large man with ruddy skin and flaming red hair who had heard of and been in many ambushes during his thirty plus years as a Rider of Mistledale.
The drow were the worst ambushers he had ever faced often using magic to mask their presence striking only when assured of a swift and merciless victory. He rode at the head of the group of horsemen hoping that his experience would allow him to spot an ambush before too many of his men died.
“Sergeant, ahead, something near the trees, ahead and to our right, look” a Rider to Beorn’s right exclaimed.
Beorn looked in the direction the Rider had indicated. There was indeed a large figure near a copse of trees that lay a short distance from the forest border. The figure stepped into the open.
“A GIANT! Spread out in a flanking pattern, three to the left and two to the right. Use your bows at a distance while I close. Vaevictus, Lar, follow me in” Beorn commanded while drawing his longsword from it’s sheathe and urging his horse forward.
Vaevictus, the heavily armored knight, and Lar, a fair-haired young rider bearing the holy symbol of Torm about his neck, urged their steeds forward.
“It seems we are being called to duty Vaevictus. We go to battle brother” said Lar.
“Good, I tire of waiting for the shadows to strike. Let us fight an evil we can see” replied Vaevictus in a deep, growling voice unlike any human voice ever heard.
The riders hailed the hill giant with arrows while Beorn, Vaevictus and Lar advanced. The arrows mostly glanced off the thick hides that covered it.
The hill giant fished inside a large sack that hung on its worn leather belt. It pulled out a rock the size of a man’s head and threw it like a child might throw a skiprock onto the surface of a pond. The rock flew through the air and slammed into a rider nearly knocking him from his horse.
‘THWACK’!!! The rider groaned as he felt several of his ribs fracture.
Beorn pushed his steed faster, he knew the riders were no match for a rock throwing giant. He charged the hill giant shouting a battlecry while striking fiercely at it. Vaevictus maneuvered his steed to Beorn’s left and swung his Greatsword at the hill giant.
A terrible battle ensued. The hill giant pulled forth a greatclub that it had tucked in its worn leather belt and swung it with force enough to crush the skull of a common soldier. Beorn took the lion’s share of the blows, and was sorely wounded. He and Vaevictus had yet to strike a serious blow against the hill giant.
“Lar, I need Torm’s aid. Get over here now, priest” he shouted.
Lar had turned his horse aside to help the rider who had been struck by the giant’s rocks. Lar remounted his steed and rode to Beorn’s rear. He chanted a prayer while touching his hand upon the old sergeant, the power of Torm flowed through him providing invigoration and healing.
“Torm is with you Beorn. Fight till your duty is done in victory or death” said Lar.
The fight raged on. Again, the hill giant wounded Beorn forcing him to retreat from battle.
“Fight on Vaevictus; you are the only one who can withstand its fury” uttered Beorn as he eased his horse back from the battle. But the hill giant wasn’t going to let Beorn go so easily. Vaevictus used what strength he had left to draw its attention from the old sergeant.
“Come giant, to the death” shouted Vaevictus as he lifted the visor of his helmet revealing an elongated draconic mouth and nose covered in silver scales from which he unleashed a cone of misty white cold that froze the blood of the hill giant. It howled in pain and turned towards Vaevictus with a look of rage upon its ugly face.
The hill giant charged. Its huge greatclub held above its head in both hands.
Vaevictus and his steed stood firm as he called upon the power of Torm smiting down the evil hill giant with one powerful blow from his greatsword. The giant’s entrails spilled forth and it fell backward making a loud thud. Its blood wet the ground where it lay dead.
Cheers went up from the Riders and Beorn. Lar rode to his brother’s side to congratulate him on a well-fought victory.
“Well done brother. You have proven yourself the strong arm of Torm as our father said you would.” Lar had a look of great pride upon his face.
Beorn and the other Riders rode towards Vaevictus. They drew closer together as they approached and stopped a short distance behind Lar.
“That was the mightiest blow I’ve ever seen in all my years as a Rider, well done lad, well done” Beorn said with muted awe.
“Torm has given me strength to use for the good of Mistledale. I served only as an instrument of Torm’s will. I thank you for your compliment Sgt. Oldbear and I encourage you to give similar praise to Torm in your prayers” Vaevictus replied humbly. “Lar, my body is hurt, but my spirit is still strong enough to do my duties. Call upon Torm to heal me, so that we may return to them.”
Lar healed his brother of his injuries using what was left of the Power Torm had given him for the day. “It is done.”
Vaevictus patted his brother on the shoulder. “We have served Torm well today.”
Lar smiled at Vaevictus. His boyish face still beaming with pride. “You are too kind brother. It is your powerful swordarm that has won the day. I am just glad that I was here to witness the beginning of your great deeds.”
Vaevictus replied encouragingly, “Our great deeds brother, our great deeds, all for the glory of Torm.”
“For the glory of Torm” Lar replied as he set his hand upon Vaevictus’s opposite shoulder.
Both hoped that this was the beginning of a life of honorable and glorious service to Torm.
To be continued...
Last edited by Celtavian; Thursday, 6th November, 2003 at 09:49 PM.
Sunday, 21st September, 2003, 12:38 PM #3
Session 1:Serendipitous Meetings continued...
Phallon, Thourne and Uthar’zen heard the fighting and shouting. They could barely see the mounted armored forms moving about just beyond the forest’s edge. After a short while, the sounds of fighting subsided and cheers of triumph could be heard.
As the cheers began, all three noticed the dark elven mage amongst the trees a good one hundred feet from their hiding place. A few moments passed as the dark elven mage canted some spells and disappeared.
“Be ready, something is happening” the twins said as each notched an arrow and took aim at the area they thought the cloaked dark elves were hidden in.
Uthar’zen nodded grimly. He did not enjoy killing his brethren, but he also did not enjoy the reputation such unprovoked attacks brought upon the dark elven people.
The Riders continued to cheer for Vaevictus. A few of them nearer to the forest’s edge failed to notice their horse’s uneasiness.
Suddenly most of the Riders, Beorn, Lar, Vaevictus and their mounts were enveloped in a white aura of intense cold. All save for Beorn, Vaevictus and a few of the Riders who had been lucky enough to be outside the area died instantly.
Vaevictus stood unharmed, though his mount was frozen dead. With some effort, he pulled his hand from Lar’s icy shoulder and dismounted from his dead steed. He looked about and saw floating in the air a short distance away a dark elf man in robes with an evil look upon his face.
“Cur, cowardly mage, my wrath will be the equal of your magic for I will have retribution for this act of murder” he shouted as a manifestation of rage crossed his draconic face. He roared and rushed towards the mage not knowing how he would assail this flying enemy.
The remaining Riders looked about stunned by the sudden magical onslaught. Before they could regain their wits, a hail of small bolts struck them and their mounts. It did not seem like such a small bolt could kill a man, but the riders begin to fall from their horses nonetheless.
“Vaevictus…poison…be wary…” one of the remaining riders shouted weakly.
Vaevictus watched the wood around him come alive as cloaked dark elves brandishing shortswords rushed towards him and the fallen Riders. They cruelly slew those who had succumbed to their poisoned bolts.
“Do not worry, you will join your friends soon enough dragon knight” the dark elven mage said mockingly. He floated in the air a comfortable distance away from Vaevictus.
“So be it, but I will bring with me as many of you accursed drow as Torm gives me the strength to slay” Vaevictus said with steel in his voice.
It did not take the cloaked dark elves long to murder the helpless Riders and Beorn who had not crawled before he was pierced by drow shortswords. Vaevictus did not let such treachery go unpunished. He set upon cloaked dark elves with a fury that none could withstand. Many of them fell to his greatsword. The dark elven mage pelted Vaevictus with magical missiles that did little to stop his furious onslaught.
Holly held up her hand and halted the group. She listened intently as did Braydin and Kaela. Ahead they could here shouting and the sound of steel upon steel.
“There is battle ahead. Follow me, we must see if we are needed” Holly said as she set off towards the source of the sounds at a quick pace.
“Wait a minute. We don’t even know who is fighting…Holly, wait…Holly…” Braydin whispered loudly.
“C’mon Braydin, we can’t let her die alone either” Kaela said as she followed Holly.
Braydin sighed. “Brandobaris, if there was ever a time I needed aid, this is it.” He trailed the women moving as fast as his short legs would carry him.
Phallon, Thourne and Uthar’zen watched the cloaked dark elves rush out of the forest. They loosed arrows at them that thunked into intervening trees causing a few of the cloaked dark elves to halt.
The Lolthite had remained in the forest. She was flanked by two of the cloaked dark elves. She spun around to see who had fired the arrows.
“Eilistraeean’s…” she spat “You five…” She randomly pointed at five of the cloaked dark elves “kill the Eilistraeean’s. Make sure they don’t interfere with our plans.”
The cloaked dark elves nodded and made their way towards the attackers.
Phallon and Thourne sheathed their bows and drew their blades. Uthar’zen had already set out through the wood. He met the cloaked dark elves head on running one through with his rapier. It was not long before Phallon and Thourne joined Uthar’zen, together they easily cut their way through the enemy.
“Impertinent male” the Lolthite screamed as she canted a prayer calling upon the power of the Spider Queen while holding a small straight piece of iron pulled from her hair.
Uthar’zen felt the hold of magic upon him as he was compelled to cease moving. He stood helpless before the single cloaked dark elf that he had not killed.
Out of the corner of her eye Phallon noticed Uthar’zen’s predicament. She moved with the speed and grace of the elven dancer that she was yanking Uthar’zen’s cloak as hard as she could causing his stiff body to fall backwards onto the ground while at the same time deflecting the killing blow that would have claimed his life.
“You’ll not have his head today servant of Lolth” she said as she made short work of the cloaked dark elf.
The Lolthite drew her longsword. “I see that I will have to kill you and your wretched sister myself, Phallon.”
“How do you know my name Lolthite? I have never met you…and killing my sister and I is no easy task, others have tried and failed” Phallon retorted.
“Your name and that of your sister Thourne is known to me as are all those whom you know and love traitorous wench. You and your whole traitorous family will pay for their defection.”
Phallon and the Lolthite met in battle, blade to blade. Thourne was still engaged with one of the cloaked drow and Uthar’zen lay upon the ground held by magic.
Vaevictus was beset on all sides as two of the more skilled warriors amongst the cloaked dark elves flanked him. He heard shouts coming from the wood. Two women with dark skin, not dark enough to be drow he determined quickly, and a Halfling ran towards him.
One of the women, the shorter of the two, fired arrows at the dark elven mage while the other unleashed a barrage of magical missiles. The Halfling stood with the women with a small rapier ready in hand. The arrows and magical missiles did nothing. The dark elven mage laughed at them.
“Dragon knight, are these fools with you? Now you will watch them die as well” he jeered while unleashing a blast of cold upon the newcomers alike to the one that had killed the Riders.
The woman with the bow was enveloped in the blast. The Halfling reacted so quickly that he completely avoided it. The woman who had launched the magical missiles had run ahead of the others which had saved her from the icy blast. She drew her scimitar and attacked one of the cloaked dark elves battling Vaevictus.
Vaevictus did not need aid but did not refuse it either. He and the woman who had launched the magic missiles fought against the remaining cloaked dark elves together.
Vaevictus looked at the women, “Who are you and why do you aid me?”
“I am Kaela. I aid you because my foolish friend cannot help but come to the aid of anyone and everyone who seems to need it. She claims her god commands her to do so, though she needs little provocation to follow such a creed” said Kaela.
“Have you any means to slay a mage Kaela?” asked Vaevictus.
“Usually I can hold my own in matters of magic, but this mage is too powerful and is resistant to my Art” replied Kaela.
“Then you had best flee while you have the chance. I have no means to slay this mage either. I would not have you die here with me” Vaevictus said.
“Normally, I might consider it, but…” she looked in the direction of Holly who was shivering from the cold blast while continuing to launch arrows at the dark elven mage. Braydin stood near her with bow in hand also launching arrow after arrow.
The dark elven mage ignored the arrows and directed his attention towards Vaevictus while canting. “Dragon knight, why do you fight against me? It is these newcomers that slew your friends. I tried to stop them, but I could not. You can see they are strong enough to withstand my Art” cooed the dark elf mage.
“What? Why would they wish us dead?” replied Vaevictus no longer feeling any anger towards the dark elven mage. He felt suddenly amicable towards the dark elven mage.
“Why did they not aid you sooner then? It is because you have been tricked into fighting against me, even though it is they who seek your death.”
“No, I don’t think so. It is you who have been deceived by these treacherous drow. Aid me against them so you can be redeemed.”
‘He does not obey’ the dark elven mage thought to himself. ‘I will try another.’ He canted once again his eyes upon Braydin.
Braydin lowered his bow, “Wait Holly…stop attacking him. What are we doing? This guy is our friend.”
“Braydin, no he isn’t. He is a murderer. Look at all these dead people” said Holly. “Snap out of it.”
“Yes, Braydin...I am your friend. I have no wish to harm you. Why do you trouble me? I have done nothing to you. Please tell your friends to stop attacking me” said the dark elven mage in a kindly voice.
“Holly, put your bow down. We don’t need to…” Braydin quicker than a blink whipped out an arrow from his quiver and launched it at the dark elven mage. It barely missed.
“Dammit” exclaimed Braydin “You idiot mage, Halflings, especially Bramblefoot’s, don’t take well to charming and the like. Your damn lucky because you missed dying by a hair you black hearted drow.”
The dark elven mage’s face creased with irritation. “You’ll die for that Halfling” he swore.
“Is that what you use magic for dark elf, death and domination? Have you learned so little in your long life but to use magic in this evil and petty manner?” a stern voice drew the attention of all present.
There stood a fair man with silver hair and vibrant blue eyes carrying a wooden quarterstaff; fearless he seemed and more than capable of dealing with the threat at hand.
The dark elf mage was unsure of the danger this blue-eyed stranger posed. New enemies were coming from the forest like so many hidden secrets meant to bring about his demise.
“We’ll meet again” the dark elf mage said as he turned and fled into the forest.
It didn’t take him long to locate the Lolthite who was winning her battle against Phallon. He spied the bodies of the dead cloaked dark elves who had accompanied them, not one of them was standing, not even Drov who was a warrior of no mean skill. He was quite surprised to see the Lolthite battling against another dark elf woman with two other dark elves, a man and a woman, moving in to flank her.
“We must go. There are too many to defeat and a mage of unknown power has joined them. Quickly take my hand” the dark elf mage flew above the Lolthite extending his hand to her.
“So be it. We will meet again Phallon. You know I am the better warrior and when next we meet I will bleed you like a beast” the Lolthite grinned wickedly at Phallon as she grasped the hand of the dark elf mage.
Phallon and Uthar’zen swung at the Lolthite and dark elf mage, but struck air as they disappeared suddenly.
Phallon was worn down. The Lolthite had not lied; she had been overmatched and knew better than to speak idle threats.
* * * *
The last of the cloaked dark elves lay dead. Vaevictus followed the Halfling, the blue-eyed mage and Kaela into the forest. Holly searched for survivors amongst the dead humans. She found none.
Vaevictus, the Halfling, the blue-eyed mage and Kaela came upon two dark elf females and a dark elf male. About them several of the cloaked dark elves lay dead with no sign of what or who slew them. Vaevictus levied his blade, “Surrender or die, drow curs.”
The three dark elves raised their blades. One of the dark elf females stepped forward and spoke in common, “I am Thourne. This is my sister Phallon and our friend Uthar’zen. We mean you no harm. We have aided you this day in what way we could and have slain our own kind in doing so. Please, lower your blade so we may speak as allies and not enemies.”
Vaevictus studied the woman for a few moments. Her words seemed true and he lowered his blade, “I will parley with you drow, though your kind are known for their treachery. Your clothes and manner seem different than these others, and that weighs in your favor. What say you Kaela?”
“I do not know them, but they seem truthful. I would not put them to the sword until you knew better their natures” Kaela responded while flashing a flirtatious smile at Uthar’zen, which he returned.
“I do not know you other two. Speak your names and state your position” Vaevictus eyed the Halfling and the blue-eyed mage.
“I’m with Kaela. The name’s Braydin Bramblefoot and I don’t kill folk who I’m not sure are worth killing. I say we talk to them first” replied Braydin “By the way, what’s your name?”
“Vaevictus is my name”, he looked directly at the blue-eyed mage, “And what say you?”
“My name is Celtavian. I know well these women and their friend. They are no enemies of yours or any other good hearted folk. They follow Eilistraee, a name few may know, but known or unknown those who follow the Dark Maiden fight against the wicked and the cruel”, Celtavian spoke calmly, “It is good to see you Thourne, you as well Phallon and Uthar’zen. I arrived as soon as I could, but unfortunately not soon enough.”
Thourne smiled, “I am pleased to see you as well Celtavian. Late or no, I am glad you received my summons or it may have been a worse day.”
Phallon looked at her sister and shook her head. “I should have known who you called” she chided playfully making her sister blush, “Good to see you as well Celtavian, though on a less than cheerful occasion I’m sorry to say.”
Uthar’zen nodded at Celtavian.
“Enough idle talk, what do you know of these other drow who lay here dead?” intervened Vaevictus.
“Nothing at the moment, but they knew our names” replied Phallon.
“How came these drow to know your names if you are not in league?”
“I cannot say with certainty, but I would venture to guess that they serve those of our family who still reside in the Underdark. Not all our family serve Eilistraee” said Phallon.
“Then you can help me find the drow mage who escaped and any others who escaped with him?” inquired Vaevictus.
“Yes, perhaps” said the twins.
“Then let us bury the dead and begin the search.” Vaevictus walked out of the forest. He came upon Holly. She was busy laying the bodies in a straight line next to each other, so they could all be properly prepared for burial.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I am Holly Windstrider, servant of Shaundakul, the Helping Hand. This is a dark day that so many lay dead beyond my ability to aid. Do they have families? If they do, we must be sure to take word to their families.”
“Some have families, and one is my brother. Lar was his name. His father will be both sad and joyful to learn of his son’s death. Let us cover them with their cloaks so that they will not be easy prey for the carrion birds. I must send word to the Rider’s and the Church of Tyr about what happened this day.”
After Holly and Vaevictus laid the dead next to each other and covered them with their cloaks, he smiled at the young woman, “I thank you for your aid this day Holly Windstrider. It is most appreciated.”
“It is my duty to help those in need. Shaundakul requires it. I only wish the wind had carried to me sooner the sound of this battle so I could have arrived before all these lives were lost. May the wind bear their souls to the heavens where they may receive the blessing of their gods” Holly’s eyes were tear-filled, though she did not weep.
Vaevictus said a short prayer to Torm for Lar and the others. He looked upon his fallen brother as he knelt next to the body, “I will avenge you Lar. You, Beorn and the others, I will avenge you all. I swear by Torm and Tyr that I will have vengeance upon the accursed drow that slew you and all dark-hearted drow who trouble the Dalelands.”
Phallon and Thourne watched Vaevictus walk away. Uthar’zen was investigating the bodies of the cloaked dark elves. Each dark elf’s cloak clasp was also a house insignia bearing a symbol known to him. He used a dagger to cut an insignia from a cloak. He showed it to Phallon and Thourne who studied it.
The house insignia was an eight-legged spider with its legs wrapped around the moon as though it were engulfing it. The symbol of a prominent house in the city of Sschindylryn notorious to both Phallon and Thourne, they spoke to Uthar'zen in elvish, “This is the insignia of House Spidermoon, at least those that worship Lolth. So, our family is at work in the Cormanthor.”
“So it would seem” replied Uthar’zen.
“It was only a matter of time sister” said Phallon.
“Aye, what a pity! We will have to look into this matter soon, but at the moment we have other matters to attend to” said Thourne.
Kaela listened to the drow . She was fluent in elvish and understood much of what the dark elves said, “So, do you need a hand with anything?”
“We are going to burn the dead to honour Eilistraee after we have removed what valuables they carried. If you wish to aid us, you may” replied Phallon.
“I’ll gladly give a hand with that” replied Braydin.
“I will assist the Halfling” said Uthar’zen.
Phallon cleaned her blade and smiled at her sister as though some secret existed between the two. Thourne blushed again. “Go and speak with him, sister” said Phallon in Undercommon.
Thourne strode to Celtavian and embraced him as she spoke in elvish, “It is so good to see you my friend. I did not know if you were close enough to reach us in time. I only hoped that you were.”
Celtavian embraced Thourne, “I was not overly distant. I travel much these days and know well the path you normally take to see me. Yet, I am glad that you called to me or I would have rested along the way and might not have been close enough to provide any kind of aid.”
“We have much to talk about” replied Thourne, “I will attend to the dead and then we will all sit and talk. Maybe then we can learn more about the events that occurred here today.”
“I will assist you in what way I can” Celtavian replied.
Uthar’zen and Braydin looted the dead removing what valuables they carried and putting them in a pile for later division. Phallon and Thourne gathered the dead dark elves into a mound outside of the forest. They found what loose wood they could and set the mound aflame.
The smell of burnt flesh carried into the air. The two dark elf women danced with their hair twirling about them as they pirouetted gracefully around the flaming mound with swords in hand singing in elvish to Eilistraee:
“Woe to the wicked, woe to the cruel;
Woe to those who darkness doth rule;
The Dark Maiden’s blade has set upon thee;
Death is the judgment by her holy decree.
Foe of the wicked, Foe of the cruel;
Foe of those who darkness doth rule;
The Dark Maiden’s blade rose against thee;
Swift death has come by her holy decree.”
Kaela stood next to Uthar’zen, “Is this a religious ritual? I have never seen such a ritual before, not even followers of Tempus dance about the dead.”
“Nor do any other gods or goddesses that I know of save for Eilistraee. Who can say why a goddess imposes such rituals upon her followers? She is a goddess of dance and song as well as a goddess versed in the ways of battle, maybe that is why she finds such a ritual beautiful” Uthar’zen replied, “You have a fair smile Kaela. It is not often that I have the pleasure of speaking so freely with a human woman.”
“And you have a very nice body, Uthar’zen. You are much, much more handsome than I would have expected given all the vile stories spoken about dark elves. I expected you to look like fiends rather than just dark-skinned elves.”
Uthar’zen raised an eyebrow and glanced at her without turning his head, “What have you heard about dark elves, Kaela?”
“The common myth is that you are all dark-hearted and treacherous. That you look like devil elves and steal away good folk in the night. You are murderers and thieves whose souls are corrupted by hate, lust and greed. All that I have heard about dark elves has been horrifying. I am not one to believe such children’s stories. I would rather see for myself what manner of people the dark elves are” Kaela turned towards Uthar’zen and studied his handsome face, “I cannot imagine a people so attractive could be so evil.”
“Do not be fooled by the beauty of the dark elves” Uthar’zen turned towards her eye to eye, “Many of my kind are evil, though not all. You are a very forward woman. I like that. Perhaps we can travel together for a time and enjoy each others company.”
“I would like that very much, Uthar’zen” Kaela smiled mischievously, “Very, very much.”
After the dead were laid to rest and the valuables accounted for, the eight travelers came together. Each stood once again with their original traveling companions save for Celtavian who stood with the dark elves and Vaevictus who stood alone.
“The dark elves carried much of value. Their cloaks and boots are made for moving about silent and unseen. Their blades and hand crossbows are well-crafted. We have divided the coin equally” stated Thourne as she lay eight pouches upon the ground in front of her, “You may count the coin in each pouch to be sure we have not deceived you. Also, feel free to take what items you wish from those recovered. We only request that whatever remains you allow us to give to our fellow Eilistraaean’s. It will greatly help us in our efforts to drive evil from the forest.”
“I do not have need of coin. You said that you would aid me in finding the mage who murdered my brother and the other Riders. That is the only payment I require” Vaevictus said grimly.
“I’ll help you track down the murderer’s Vaevictus. I don’t need the coin either. I say we give it to the families of the fallen, at least give mine, Kaela’s and Braydin’s share to the families of the fallen” Holly said.
Kaela and Braydin looked at each other incredulously, though they did not protest.
“We have equally divided the gold, so all may choose to do as they wish with their share” said Thourne, “My sister and I will gladly give our gold to the families of the fallen.”
“As will I” said Celtavian.
Uthar’zen signed to Thourne in the strange language known as Drow Silent Tongue.
“Uthar’zen also agrees to give the gold to the families of the fallen” she looked directly at Vaevictus, “He wishes you to make it known that dark elves donated the gold. Not for pride, but so that not all the tales told about dark elves are of their evil deeds.”
Vaevictus nodded in agreement, “It shall be as he requests.”
“It is decided. The coin will go to the families of the fallen. Now let us speak of other business. You seek the perpetrators of this murder. My sister has an idea of their whereabouts” said Thourne as she gave her full attention to her sister.
“I have studied the coins the dark elves carried. Some are common coins minted by humans or elves, but some are ancient coins not made by any human or elf still living.” She held up two of the gold coins upon which were stamped crossed spears and a pile of scrolls. “These coins are from Myth Drannor. I have seen coins such as this before possessed by elves who have traveled to the ancient city. If they have such coins, perhaps that is where the others might be found. It is not assured, for it is just as likely they could have robbed someone who had journeyed to Myth Drannor. But it is my best guess.”
“Well done sister” said Thourne.
Vaevictus considered what was said, “So, Myth Drannor is where they may hide? That place is known to me, but only as a legend.” He thought to himself, ‘The city my father defended.’ Myth Drannor had been oft mentioned when his mother told him tales of his draconic father.
“Myth Drannor, the home of Shaundakul’s Throne my god’s greatest temple; we were already headed there. I will gladly accompany you Vaevictus” chimed in Holly.
“Holly, I would not take you into unnecessary danger. You are too young for such a dangerous journey” said Vaevictus.
“I’m already going there with or without you, might as well travel together. Anyhow, my sister is a servant of Torm. She would be angry with me if I didn’t help you.”
“You are stout-hearted. I will accept your company then, but I do not know the way to Myth Drannor” said Vaevictus.
“Nor do I” said Holly. She didn’t mention the fake map she had bought from Feldon, neither did Kaela or Braydin.
“I know the way. It is a place revered by the elves of the Cormanthor. Any elf that lives in the Cormanthor for very long learns the way to Myth Drannor, but I have never walked in the ruins. It is a place of danger and death, or so it is said amongst the elves” said Thourne.
“I do not fear danger or death. If you will take me, I will find my own way within the ruins” said Vaevictus.
“If we take you, we will travel with you. It is not the way of Eilistraaean’s to lead folk to danger’s door and then not enter ourselves” replied the twins.
“I would accompany you as well Vaevictus. A trip to Myth Drannor would be most educational” said Celtavian in a quiet voice.
“Since no ones asking” Braydin glared at Holly, “I’d be happy to come along. As Holly said, we were already on our way to Myth Drannor and if the good Lady Thourne can get us there, I’d be more than happy to follow.” He bowed graciously to Thourne.
“I’m always up for a good adventure” said Kaela happily. She was really looking forward to traveling with Uthar’zen.
“So it is decided. We will travel to Myth Drannor” said Thourne.
To be continued...
Last edited by Celtavian; Tuesday, 14th October, 2003 at 01:45 PM.
Sunday, 21st September, 2003, 02:23 PM #4
Session 1: Serendipitous Meetings concluded...
A few days passed before they were ready to travel. During that time, Vaevictus rode to the nearest farm he could find. There he paid a farmer and his sons to retrieve and store the bodies of his brother and the fallen Riders. He wrote out a message on parchment that Beorn carried for report writing and paid the farmer an additional fee to have it and the gold from the dead taken to the church of Tyr in Ashabenford. With that business complete, he rode back to the others.
He returned to find a mix of elves, mostly dark but some wood and moon, a few humans and a dwarf and centaur camped nearby. Guards watched warily as he approached.
Thourne signaled to the guards that he was no threat. She strolled to meet Vaevictus, “These are my fellow Eilistraeean’s. They came to aid us. They are sorry for their lateness. I have already told them of my intentions, and Zasa has given me permission to lead you to Myth Drannor.”
“This is good to news. I would not have you shirk your duties no matter how great my need” replied Vaevictus.
“I hope you do not mind. I gave to them what remained of the spoils; such items are needed to continue the war against our evil brethren who now try to take the forest by force.”
“I have no need of such items. If they are put to good purpose, then I am not opposed” replied Vaevictus.
“We will be leaving soon, probably on the morrow. My fellow Eilistraeean’s must attend to other matters, so it will be just the eight of us.”
“So be it. My fight is not their fight. It is enough that you will lead me” said Vaevictus.
“Thank you for your trust” she bowed respectfully and went to sit amongst the Eilistraeean’s.
Vaevictus joined Holly and Braydin who sat in a separate camp a short distance away from the Eilistraeean’s.
“Why do you two sit over here?” asked Vaevictus.
Braydin smirked, “Holly has a problem with the way the Eilistraeean’s conduct their affairs.”
“What do you mean?”
“She doesn’t like the way they dance” Braydin smiled.
Holly frowned, “It isn’t proper Braydin. You know as well as I it isn’t proper.”
“Don’t go putting words in my mouth like ‘isn’t proper’. I’m not one to go deciding what is and isn’t proper Holly” replied Braydin, “The only reason I’m sitting over here with you is because you look like a pathetic human puppy sitting by yourself.”
“I didn’t ask you to sit over here Braydin. I can take care of myself just fine. I’ m glad Vaevictus is back. I’m sure he’ll agree with me even though you and Kaela don’t” said Holly defiantly.
“Torm has forbidden us to judge the affairs of other goodly religions” stated Vaevictus flatly.
“I know. I’m not judging. I just don’t think that kind of dancing or behavior is proper for me or Kaela.”
“Where is Kaela?” inquired Vaevictus.
“Over there dancing improperly with the Eilistraeean’s” Braydin said with a grin, “She doesn’t agree with young Holly and it’s driving her crazy.”
“You don’t know her parents Braydin. They wouldn’t approve either. There going to ask me why I didn’t stop her” Holly said in an exasperated tone.
“Hmmm, how bad can this dancing be?” said Vaevictus.
“It’s really, really bad” replied Holly.
“C’mon Holly, just because they dance naked or nearly so doesn’t make it bad or improper. There elves, what do you expect?”
“The elves that I know in Cormyr don’t dance that way” replied Holly.
“These aren’t Cormyrean elves. There elves who live in the wild and wooly forest. If they want to dance and gyrate about naked, then who are you to say it’s improper. Sheesh Holly, relax a little” replied Braydin.
Holly fumed quietly and kept an eye on Kaela at the other camp.
“Holly, you cannot judge what others do based on your view of what is proper and improper. Such thoughts invite tyranny, and good folk do not tyrannize others even if they disagree.”
“I don’t want to tyrannize anyone. I just have to keep an eye on Kaela seeing that she’s like family. I just wish she wasn’t so darn hard-headed.”
“Like you” both Braydin and Vaevictus replied at the same time, and then chuckled.
Holly glared at both of them. Braydin and Vaevictus both chuckled on the inside. The young girl was spirited to say the least.
* * * * *
Kaela was enjoying the festivities. She sat with Phallon, Tavitha and Uthar’zen watching and listening to the singing and dancing of the Eilistraeean’s. The Eilistraeean’s reminded Kaela of Lliiran’s, followers of Lliira the Joybringer a goddess of joy and dance whose rituals were revels of liberated debauchery.
Kaela was a Lliiran. The religion suited her temperament. She was a woman who loved to live life to the fullest free from the constraints of polite society. Her parents had tried to tame her and make her adhere to the ways of Tyr, but she would have none of it.
“I love these dances. You must teach them to me” Kaela implored Phallon.
“I will teach you what I can. It all depends on how long we travel together. Some of the dances are very intricate and difficult to learn” replied Phallon.
“You’ll learn fine Kaela. There are many easy dances. Phallon is just an extraordinary dancer that not many elves can equal, don’t feel bad if you never dance as well as her.”, Tavitha said smiling at Phallon, “Is that not so?”
“Perhaps, but I would not give myself such praise. I dance because I love dancing. I will certainly teach Kaela what she is able to learn.”
“That is all that I ask Phallon. Tavitha, are you coming with us to Myth Drannor?” asked Kaela. She had become fast friends with Tavitha. Wood elves seemed a lot like her. Not to mention Tavitha was beautiful with long dark red hair, almond-shaped emerald green eyes and bronze skin. She wore tight fitting studded leather and had a muscular, shapely body that Kaela couldn’t believe, very much unlike any elf she had ever met.
“No, I cannot join my sisters on this venture. I must return with my fellow Eilistraeean’s. There are too few of us to spare as it is. And Zasa has given permission only for Thourne and Phallon to join you.”
Kaela looked disappointed, “What? Uthar’zen is not coming either?”
“Uthar’zen is not Eilistraeean” replied Tavitha.
“I go where Phallon goes. She is my goddess” Uthar’zen said confidently.
Phallon blushed, but could not hold back a beaming smile. “You flatter me too much Uthar’zen. I am no goddess. Someday you must submit to a god or goddess, and I hope that it is Eilistraee so we may spend our afterlife together as well as our mortal life.”
“I have many years to decide. I will not worry for now about any other woman, mortal or immortal, save for you” he replied while stroking Phallon’s hair.
She laid her head on his chest. “Sometimes you are too confident.”
Kaela was touched. What an ideal relationship Phallon and Uthar’zen had, neither minded if the other shared another’s bed, and yet they still loved each other dearly. She hoped she would one day find such a companion.
“Come Tavitha, show me a new dance” Kaela took Tavitha by the hands and drew her to her feet.
“Yes, let us leave to these two alone to explore their feelings” Tavitha replied.
Tavitha taught Kaela elven dances the kind of which she had never known before. Some were slow, graceful and perfect while others were fast, acrobatic and free. They danced all night together until the coming of the dawn.
“Celtavian, are you comfortable?” asked Thourne. She sat with the mage trying to make sure he did not feel alienated by the Eilistraeean’s.
“I am well, Thourne” replied Celtavian, his expression emotionless. He sat in the lotus position upon the grass.
“Are you hungry or thirsty?”
“Are you enjoying the song and dance?”
“Yes. It is a pleasure to watch.”
Thourne turned back to watching the dancing and singing Eilistraeean’s while wondering what she should say next. Celtavian was a very difficult person to read. He did not engage in small talk like many other folk she knew. He did not speak very often unless the topic concerned magic or some other academia. She did not even fully understand why she was so attracted him, but she was and could not easily change the feelings in her heart.
“Thourne, come and sit with me for a short time” requested Zasa.
Zasa was known as the Moon Huntress, a title bestowed upon her by her fellow high ranking Eilistraeean’s. An over three hundred year dark elven woman with long white hair and a stern gaze, she was the war leader of Eilistraee’s temple in the Velarswood. She was not to be ignored and her words carried weight with all followers of Eilistraee.
“I’ll be back” Thourne told Celtavian.
Thourne made her way over to where Zasa sat flanked on either side by priestesses.
“Sit here” Zasa said patting her hand on the grass just behind her.
Thourne sat where she was told. “Greetings Moon Huntress.”
“Greetings Dark Lady” Zasa paused for a few moments her eyes never leaving the dancers, “Do you have feelings for the man you sit with?”
Thourne did not wish to speak so openly about the subject, but could not lie to the Moon Huntress, “Yes, he is a dear friend.”
“A dear friend, no more?”
“No more that I know of Moon Huntress.”
“Do you speak of his feelings or your own?”
“I speak of his feelings Moon Huntress.”
“Then you feel more than friendship for this man? Speak clearly Dark Lady.”
“Yes Moon Huntress, I do. He is very special to me.”
“It is a strange and uncommon man who would not find you lovely Thourne. I have watched many men try to win your heart over the years only to be disappointed, but your heart is worth winning for your beauty alone. You are very much unlike your sister in your dealings with men and you are surprisingly shy for a dark elf woman. Perhaps if you were more forward as your sister would be, he might reveal similar feelings. It may be that he is also shy, and if two such people meet then it will seem to them that neither has strong feelings for the other. Do you understand?”
“Yes Moon Huntress. I think that he has love only for the goddess Mystra. That is the only lady of whom he speaks often. Do you think that I can compete against a goddess for his affections?”
“No, you do not have to. He is mortal and mortals may love a goddess and another at the same time and be not faithless to either. Thourne, you know this man better than I, but if I were you, I would be more forward. That is my advice to you sister.”
“Your advice is appreciated Zasa. My sister encourages the same, but as you said, I am not like her. The heart is fragile and I do not want to mishandle my own heart by giving it to one who does not want it. It will come back broken.”
“Broken hearts heal. Just as you must risk your life to know valor, you must risk your heart to know love.”
Thourne grew silent. She had much to think about.
“You may return to your friend now Thourne. I will see you off in the morning” said Zasa.
Thourne hugged Zasa. “Thank you for your advice.”
Eleasis 11, 1372 Year of Wild Magic…
Morning came. The Eilistraeean’s were preparing to leave as were the eight companions who would set out for Myth Drannor.
“Kaela, you shouldn’t have been dancing like you were last night. What would your mother think” nagged Holly in Turmic.
“My mother isn’t here and you don’t have any say in my affairs” responded Kaela curtly.
“Kaela Marivaldi, you better start acting proper or I’ll tell your parents when next we see them. I’m sure they wouldn’t be happy to hear about you dancing naked in front of elven men” Holly threatened.
“Oh be quiet and mind your own business Holly. It isn’t like you are doing what your parents want you to do either.”
“That’s different. Shaundakul called me.”
“Well Llirra told me to dance naked in front of elven men” chided Kaela.
Holly was fuming, “I’m still going to keep my eye on you Kaela. You know you are acting improperly. Jahlyl wouldn’t be happy to hear of it either.”
“Don’t you threaten me Holly Fairheart. If I told your parents where you were right now, they would probably send a contingent of Paladin’s to bring you home.” Kaela was getting tired of Holly’s pestering tongue.
“Enough already. I can't understand a word you are saying and still I know you are arguing. Get your gear ready. It’s almost time to go” Vaevictus said in an irritated tone.
Holly and Kaela quieted down.
“The two of you must be careful in Myth Drannor. It is a fell place where elves no longer dare to walk. Our people were never welcome there, but now no one is welcome save for those who can hold their place by force of arms. If the Spidermoon’s who worship Lolth are now in the Cormanthor, we will need you more than ever. Complete your quest and return quickly” Zasa warned the twins.
“We will Moon Huntress” replied the twins, “Worry not for us, Eilistraee will watch over us on this quest. It may be that some of our family works evil in the ruins of Myth Drannor, so our journey will also serve another purpose.”
“Go then, and let us dance together again soon under the moon and sky on a dark night. Fare thee well.” With that Zasa and the other Eilistraeean’s moved into the forest.
Tavitha hugged Phallon, Thourne and Uthar’zen before leaving. “Be careful and return soon. I will miss you all. Tell Kaela I hope to see her again to teach her more dances.”
“We will miss you as well Tavitha. Safe journey” replied the twins as they waved to the departing Eilistraeean’s.
Now it was just the eight companions.
“It is nearly a tenday to Myth Drannor” said Thourne, “Uthar’zen, my sister and I can travel by day or night. Which is easier for all of you?”
“Either” said Vaevictus.
“Day is easier for Kaela and me. We would need a pretty good light source for night travel and that would leave us open to ambush or worse” said Holly.
“Then we will travel by day” said Thourne. “Let us go.”
The eight companions set out for Myth Drannor.
Wednesday, 1st October, 2003, 10:48 AM #5
Session 2: On the Way to Myth Drannor...
Eleasis 14, 1372 Year of Wild Magic…
Over the past few days, the eight companions had fought leucrotta and wights. Holly and Phallon shook off the effects of the wight’s life draining attack. Braydin had mostly recovered, but he had been drained nearly to death. He didn’t feel the same after that battle and probably wouldn’t for some time. The wights had also killed Vaevictus’s horse, and now he trudged along burdened by his full plate armor.
Today the light shown through the canopy of trees and a cool breeze blew through the forest. Braydin walked in front. Even diminished he was still the best scout of them all. Holly walked with him rather than twenty feet behind him as they had done previously. She didn’t want to leave him alone if they were ambushed again.
Braydin and Holly heard a commotion up ahead. They halted the group.
To the surprise of all, a treant came rushing through the forest chased by a huge creature with a giant tooth filled maw and armor-plating. The huge creature was better known as a bulette by sages and a land shark by adventurers and commoners alike.
The tree shouted in a strange language known only to woodland folk. It was obvious to all that it needed help. The eight companions set into motion. Vaevictus spear-headed the attack upon the bullete and the others supported him. It was Kaela who mortally wounded the creature with her magic. Celtavian calmed the treant during the ensuing fight.
The treant was shivering causing the many green leaves on its upper branches to quiver creating the “shwooshing” sound heard when you shake a tree. “Boy, thanks a lot. That thing was going to eat me” the treant exclaimed, “My names Brightoak. What’s yours?” Brightoak looked curiously upon the faces of the eight companions. They all introduced themselves in a friendly manner.
“Brightoak, were any of your people harmed by that creature besides yourself?” asked the twins. The twins could tell that this was a young treant, merely a sapling. It was much shorter and smaller than a common treant and didn’t seem to have the same power over trees of its older brethren.
“Nope, just me. I don’t think it would have tried to eat me if I had been near our grove. There are a lot of bigger treants than me there, big enough to beat that dumb thing dead” Brightoak replied. “I was minding my own business walking through the forest enjoying the soil on my feet and the breeze in my leaves, up out of the earth that big, dumb, ugly creature came trying to eat me. I’m sure glad you happened to be in the forest or I’d have never made it home.”
“Brightoak, you better head home now. I’m sure your parents are worried. Be careful walking alone in the forest, its no place for young treants to be exploring” the twins said.
“I sure learned my lesson. You two sure are nice for dark elves. Most dark elves do mean things to us treants.”
“We follow Eilistraee” said the twins, “the Dark Maiden helps all those in need.”
“Glad to meet all of you. If you ever need help, my grove is about a good 10,000 strides to the west. I don’t know how many strides that would be for tiny folk, but I’m sure you can find it if you try. Just keep walking west and ask for Brightoak if you meet any treants, everyone there knows my name. I’m sure they’ll help when they hear how you saved me…as long as you don’t do any burning or harming of trees.”
“We won’t. we promise” replied the twins.
“Thank you for the offer of assistance” replied Celtavian who had stood by quietly while the twins talked with the treant.
“Goodbye everyone” Brightoak waved as he strode off into the forest.
The eight companions waved to the treant.
“Talking trees, hmph” said Vaevictus, “many strange creatures in this forest.”
“I’m so happy we could help him. I’ve never met a treant before. This journey just keeps getting better” espoused Holly joyfully.
“That was neat” agreed Kaela.
“It sure was” said Braydin, “Now I can’t wait to tell my dad and mom about this adventure. He’ll never believe that I made friends with a talking tree.”
“Well, let’s get going why we still have a few hours of daylight” said Holly.
The eight companions set on through the forest again.
Saturday, 4th October, 2003, 12:23 PM #6
On the way to Myth Drannor continued...
Eleasis 17, 1372…
A few more days passed as the eight companions journeyed through the forest. Besides being ambushed by a large group of gnoll hunters two nights ago, the travel was unexciting. The deeper they went in the forest, the less signs of civilization were visible.
Holly and Braydin walked ahead occasionally looking back to see if Thourne agreed with their direction of travel, while the rest of the companions followed thirty feet behind. All were alert for danger save for Vaevictus who was deep in thought.
“I’m so mad at Kaela, Braydin. She is acting very unlike a lady” steamed Holly.
“She’s her own woman Holly. You need to stop watching over her like a mother hen. You'll drive her off if you keep on her about her business” Braydin tried to assuage her anger.
“I wouldn’t have to look after her if she didn’t act like such an ill-mannered child.”
“Sheesh, you are worse than Vaevictus and he is an actual Tormite. Lay off Kaela. She is doing what she wants.”
“Am I the only one that was raised proper besides Vaevictus? She shouldn’t be dancing unclad period, much less in front of Uthar’zen. How improper is that to dance unclad in front a man who is also unclad? You should have seen it Braydin. Phallon, Uthar’zen and Kaela dancing around like ill-raised savages, and Thourne not much better in her barely there silver gown. It was sickening.”
Braydin rolled his eyes. ‘I wish I could have been there. I always miss the good sights’ he thought to himself. “She’s an adult Holly. Leave her alone. I’m getting tired of getting in between you two.”
“I guess everyone’s on Kaela’s side. I’m just mean little Holly the prude.”
Braydin grimaced, “All I’m saying is that you need to understand that Kaela is going to do what she wants, same as you. And it’s not yours or anyone else’s business what she does. Now let’s keep an eye out and talk about something more interesting like what we’re going to do when we reach Myth Drannor.” ‘Besides’, Braydin thought to himself, ‘I don’t want to be the one to tell you that Kaela did more than dance with Uthar’zen.’
Little did Holly know that later the same night she caught Kaela dancing, her and Uthar’zen had snuck away from the camp. Kaela had happily given herself to the dark elf man staying with him until the early morning hours. No one else, including Braydin who had been on watch, told Holly anything and she was none the wiser.
* * * *
Kaela walked with Uthar’zen and Phallon. She sighed, “What a beautiful morning.”
Phallon sang of the morn in the elven tongue. Her voice filled with joy and hope.
“Bright sun in the sapphire sky, oh sweet pain unto mine eyes;
As I gaze into the skies, free from the queen of lies;
Dark maiden, dark maiden, I seek my place under the sun;
Where the green grass grows and the deer and elk run;
I have come, I have come, out of darkness into the sun;
Accept me now Eilistraee, in dark of night and light of day;
Oh Beautiful is the morning come, that brings the sun’s first rays;
As I begin anew my life, I’ll live above for all my days.”
“That was beautiful” exclaimed Kaela. “You have the voice of a songbird.”
“Thank you Kaela. That is but one part of a longer hymn that we sing to Eilistraee thanking her for giving us a rightful place on the surface where the dark elves once lived: replied Phallon, “Someday my sister and I will teach you the entire hymn if you wish to learn it?”
“Of course I would. Dark elves are wonderful, both the women and the men” she said while smiling at Uthar’zen.
Phallon chuckled, “Yes, but do not think all dark elf men are as Uthar’zen. He is the tallest, strongest and most handsome dark elf men I have ever met. And I have met many dark elf men. He is more like a wood elf in stature with the face of a sculpted ideal of elven beauty.” She paused to gaze upon Uthar’zen, “You seem surreal my love.”
“As do you my lady. Be not immodest. For you are every bit my equal, if not my superior, as a woman” responded Uthar’zen smoothly, “And Turami women are lovely as well, though I would be surprised if you were not uncommonly beautiful amongst your own kind Kaela.”
Kaela giggled, “Does he always speak in such a manner Phallon?”
“To women yes, to men…less so” she said, “Is that not so my love?”
“It is easy to speak well of loveliness” responded Uthar’zen.
Kaela and Phallon gave each other a droll look then burst out giggling.
* * * * *
Vaevictus’s visage was grim. His thoughts burned with vengeance. His only wish was to find the murderer’s of his brother and put them to the sword. He paid little attention to the ramblings of the others. ‘Companions of necessity and little more’ he thought to himself.
His eyes fell on Holly, ‘Except for her, she is special and her sister is a Tormite. I would be shirking a duty to a fellow Tormite were I to let harm come to her. And she is good-hearted and caring… a worthy woman of good morals. Perhaps I will need to stay longer…at least for her safety.’ He silently swore an oath to protect young Holly while he traveled with her.
Celtavian and Thourne walked behind Holly and Braydin but ahead of the others. Thourne listened for a while to her sister speak with Kaela and Uthar’zen, then turned her attention to the forest while occasionally glancing at Celtavian. He walked quietly next to her seemingly lost in whatever thoughts lay behind his vibrant blue eyes.
“Celtavian, do you not find the Cormanthor beautiful this time of year?” asked Thourne.
“Yes, very much so” replied Celtavian.
Thourne waited a few moments hoping he would say more. When he didn’t, she frowned, “What are you thinking about Celtavian? I do not mean to be rude, if you do not wish to speak I will leave you be.”
He paused a few moments before answering to gather his thoughts, “I am attempting to calculate the static velocity of the mystic energy flowing through the Weave. The calculation will be necessary for my research on a spell designed to enhance the flow of mystic energy through the weave using myself as a conduit. I believe that for short periods of time I should be able to increase the Weave’s flow by turning myself into an attractor for mystical energy and widening the natural flowing strands of that make up the Weave. As the energy flows into me, I should be able to shape it to enhance my spellcasting. I have already taken some measurements, but calculating the static velocity of a phenomenon such as the weave is difficult at best. If I take enough measurements, I should be able to obtain a mean and a normal range for the static velocity of the weave. From there, I can devise my spell and test it against my data. My calculations..."
Celtavian continued on pedantically about mind-bogglingly difficult magical theory that only a savant could understand.
“Oh” Thourne blushed embarrassed. She was only vaguely aware of what it was he was talking about. She was a cleric and the Power she wielded flowed from the goddess Eilistraee, and required little more than faith to achieve. The Art, on the other hand, was a mystery to her though she, as well as most living beings who wielded magic of any kind, did know of the existence of the Weave.
“Once I finish my research, I will share it with you Thourne” he took Thourne’s hand in his.
Thourne smiled and held his hand, “I would like that very much.”
They walked along together hand in hand. Thourne was walking on air.
A sudden zephyr whipped up around Holly. The wind gently pulled her west and a deep windy voice within it said “Come”.
“Braydin…everyone…follow me” Holly shouted as she let the wind take her.
Last edited by Celtavian; Wednesday, 29th October, 2003 at 02:10 PM.
Monday, 13th October, 2003, 11:30 AM #7
On the way to Myth Drannor continued...
Holly ran after the whirring zephyr as it flowed through the forest causing leaves to stir and branches to sway slowing her pace only after becoming aware of the ominous sounds of battle. She carefully looked through the needle covered branches of a spruce tree and spied a human man fighting four drow.
‘I must help’ was her first thought. She drew her greatsword and burst out from the trees. Something lay in the branches of a large yew to her right. “Drow archers” she shouted hoping to warn the human man as well as her companions not far behind. After casting a spiritual weapon on the nearest drow archer, she rushed into battle.
Thourne and Phallon came running into the clearing bows in hand. “Eilistraee…Eilistraee” they called while loosing arrows at the drow archers. Uthar’zen drew his rapier and rushed at one of the drow archers that had dropped from the yew tree. A few cuts later and the drow archer lay dead. Both Kaela and Celtavian stayed hidden a short distance from the battle watching for a moment when their magic might be needed.
By the time Vaevictus and Braydin arrived, the drow warriors and archers were slain. Several humans lay dead amongst the fallen drow.
The human man looked gravely about, “Thanks.”
Holly laid her sword on the ground. She checked the humans for any sign of life. None lived. To her chagrin most of the dead humans bore symbols of Shaundakul. ‘Once again too late, forgive me Shaundakul’ she thought to herself while holding back tears. “Are you badly hurt?” she said to the human man.
“No, just winded. I am Morn. Well met” he said through panted breaths.
“Well met” replied Holly, “what were you doing out here Morn? Are you a servant of Shaundakul as well?”
“Yes, I serve the Helping Hand” Morn said as he started to breathe easier, “We were on our way to Shaundakul’s Throne in Myth Drannor when we were ambushed by these drow. Most fell to their poisoned darts. Those who fell had their throats slit and bodies looted. I could barely hold my own. If you hadn’t come, I’d probably be dead.”
“Shaundakul called me here” Holly stood and took her sword up, “I am Holly Windstrider, priest of Shaundakul. These are the companions I travel with. You should travel with us now that you are alone. I feel bad enough that I could not save the lives of your companions.”
Morn looked at the drow and the half-dragon, “You travel with strange folk, Holly. I will travel with you for I can see that you are a good woman, but first I must avenge my friends. There were more drow than these that lay dead. The ones that fled after murdering my friends must be deal with. If you and your companions would aid me in this matter, you would earn my trust for life.”
“Gladly” replied Holly. Guilt gnawed at her like a dog gnaws a bone. Killing the drow who had done this foul deed might lay to rest the feeling that she had failed Shaundakul.
Vaevictus held his hand out to Morn, “Well met Morn. I am Vaevictus, servant of Torm the True. I will happily help you take vengeance on such evil drow.”
Morn and Vaevictus grasped forearms. The tawny haired woodsman was surprised at the strength of the half-dragon, “Your grip is strong.”
“As is my word” replied Vaevictus.
The twins and Uthar’zen looked over the dead drow. They found a silver disc etched with a black mask and glowing green eyes. The symbol of Vhaeraun. This was the work of his followers. Many drow who did not worship Lolth, worshipped her son Vhaeraun. Vhaeraun was little better than his mother save that he did not deny power to males. These days, few drow that turned from Lolth came to worship Eilistraee, for her brother Vhaeraun fit better their image of what a drow god should be like, evil, deceptive and power hungry.
“Vhaeraun” said the twins. “Mother and son do evil deep in the forest as well as near its edge.”
Uthar’zen nodded grimly. “These drow have done us an injustice. Their killing is upon our head and all drow that would choose a life other than one in service to evil. I am glad they are dead. Fools and villains, how much more must I suffer for the petty evil my brethren?", he said while toying with one of the silver dics bearing Vhaeruan's symbol, "Let us help this human take vengeance and reckon with our kin as the humans would a villain of their own race.”
“Yes, we will help. But judge not too harshly these ill-raised children. Eilistraee does not hate her brother or her brother’s servants. She knows his heart was darkened by the treachery of their mother. Now he works evil he did not spawn. So remember that justice can be done with merciful conversion as well as ruthless slaying” said Thourne sadly.
“Ill-raised or no, they must be dealt the harsh justice deserved for such acts” he said disgustedly. He felt no pity for the dead drow. They earned their death and by their acts sentenced death to other drow whether it was deserved or not. He could not even walk amongst the humans and elves freely because of the acts of his kin. It sickened and angered him to be so judged.
Phallon sang to each drow quietly an elven song of passing. Tears filled her pale blue eyes and each note rang with sorrow. She felt pity for those dark elves lost to the ways of evil, for she knew they suffered in life and death from the manipulations of the Spider Queen. Lolth was the malevolent being that tended the evil within dark elf hearts like a farmer tends crops. And each evil deed done by the drow was but one more harvest to feed the Spider Queen’s insatiable appetite for sorrow and pain.
“I will aid you human in your quest for vengeance. My blade and skill are with you” Uthar'zen assured Morn.
Morn studied the man for a few moments unsure of whether to trust a drow to take vengeance upon his own people, “Your help is welcome if the others will vouch for you.”
Uthar’zen cringed at the idea that his word was not enough, but understood the man’s apprehension, “So be it. Let them vouchsafe my character” he replied with disdain flicking the silver disc off the forehead of a dead drow.
The twins noted the look of quiet rage upon his face. They knew Uthar’zen would be out for blood. “We will help also” replied the twins before Morn could respond to Uthar'zen.
“But any drow that requests mercy must be spared or our blades will be turned against you” warned Thourne. She did not look at Uthar’zen, but he knew the words were meant for him as well as the others.
“Eilistraee commands it” added Phallon showing support for her sister. As much as she loved Uthar’zen, she would not side against Thourne or Eilistraee.
“If the others agree to such a request, then so shall I” said Morn.
Braydin chimed in, “You’re the stranger here. As far as I’m concerned, you don’t have much of a choice but to take our help on the terms we offer it. I’m not turning my back on the drow, nor do I plan to ignore the good Lady Thourne’s request. I don’t think anyone else is going to either. Right? ”
Everyone save for Uthar’zen agreed. The last thing on his mind was mercy.
“Fairly spoken, Halfling. I’ll accept what help is given. If the woman requests mercy for the drow, then I will give them mercy though they have shown my kin none. Now let us get on their trail before night comes” said Morn.
Last edited by Celtavian; Tuesday, 14th October, 2003 at 01:59 PM.
Saturday, 25th October, 2003, 11:52 AM #8
On the way to Myth Drannor continued...
With the number of skilled woodsman present, it did not take long to pick up on the trail. Braydin and Holly led them in a northwesterly direction. Impressions in the dirt and disturbed flora clearly marked the way. The drow had not taken the time to hide their trail.
“Probably didn’t expect there to be any survivors or help this deep in the forest” Holly voiced the obvious.
Less than an hour on the trail of the drow the eight companions and Morn came upon a hill of rock well-camouflaged by trees and moss. The soft boot prints continued on around the west side of the hill.
“Probably a cave or something on the other side of that rock” said Holly, “Everyone hide amongst the trees. I’m going to look for a cave.”
“I’ll go with” said Braydin.
“As will I” said Morn. He was eager to get the sons of bitches that murdered his friends.
The three of them used the hill of rock as cover and quietly moved around the west side following the boot prints. As they came around the hill it curved back east. There they were barely able to make out a cave entrance well-shrouded by the hanging branches of several oak trees.
“I don’t see any guards” whispered Holly.
“I’m going in for a closer look. Keep an eye out” Braydin whispered back.
“Be careful” said Holly.
Braydin pulled the hood of his piwafwi snugly over his head and made his way to the closest oak which stood no more than twenty feet from the cave entrance. He crouched low making himself as small as possible and peered around the trunk. The bark on the trunk felt rough against his cheek. He saw nothing out of the ordinary.
The Halfling lowered himself gently to the ground and slowly belly crawled even closer to the entrance. The earth beneath him felt cool and moist. He grinned back at Holly and Morn. ‘Holly worries too much’ he thought to himself after seeing the concerned look on her face. Then he proceeded to crawl right to the very mouth of the entrance examining it for several minutes. Disappointed that he didn’t find any traps or danger, he made his way back to the other two.
“Nothing” said Braydin, “Not a damn thing.”
“Ok. Let’s get the others” said Holly, “And Braydin, you get that close again and I’ll tie you to a leash.”
The eight companions and Morn gathered a ways off to discuss strategy. Unbeknownst to them they had been spotted by the raven familiar of the resident Vhaeraun worshipping drow wizard. The bird did not dally after spotting the party. It flew with haste to warn its master of the intruders.
“No visible drow or traps. I didn’t even hear any activity near the entrance” Braydin said.
“I say we just rush in and attack” said Vaevictus, “they are probably hiding like cowards.”
“As much as you may believe to the contrary, drow are not cowards. If they are hiding, it is in preparation to repel us and not avoid us” said Uthar’zen coldly.
“If your people were brave, they would declare open war and fight an honorable battle” said Vaevictus.
The eyes of the drow and half-dragon met. Neither feared the other.
“Enough of this” said Thourne, “we need not fight amongst ourselves because of the deeds of others. Uthar’zen is right Vaevictus. The drow may be treacherous, but they are no cowards. They are either prepared for us or they are very deep in the cave. Either way, we need to enter somehow.”
“I’ll spear-head the attack. If they are waiting in ambush, I have a surprise for them” Vaevictus said confidently.
“Sounds good to me” said Holly.
“Me to” said Kaela, “Let Vaevictus go first. He’s the strongest.”
Thourne looked at her sister. Phallon signed agreement. “Vaevictus will lead. We will follow and fight our way in. I’m sure they are ready for us, but I can’t think of a better way to enter given that we do not have the Art to conceal our passage.”
“On to it then” said Vaevictus as he drew forth his greatsword.
The eight companions and Morn made their way in force to the cave entrance. Vaevictus stormed into the cave followed by Braydin, Morn and Uthar’zen in the second rank, Holly and Thourne in the third rank, and the Kaela and Phallon in the fourth rank. Celtavian stayed outside the cave.
Thourne’s first fear was realized: the drow were prepared for them. There waiting were a line of drow archers. A storm of arrows filled the tunnel glancing off Vaevictus’s heavy plate armor and tough half-dragon hide. He did not hesitate as he moved forward and breathed.
Whoosh. A cone of silvery cold washed over the drow. When the cloud cleared, frozen drow bodies covered the floor before them. The still standing drow cast down their bows and drew shortswords.
Vaevictus laughed aloud, “What now drow? We are upon you. Prepare for justice!”
A small fiery bead shedding a minute amount of light sped out from the darkness. Vaevictus watched it fly overhead knowing full well what it meant. “Incoming” he shouted as he braced for the explosion. A thunderous roar followed by searing orange pain filled the tunnel. Only Braydin, Morn and Uthar’zen managed to avoid the fireball.
“I’m hurt” cried Kaela, “I need healing.” Her robes were smoking and her hair was burnt a few lengths shorter than before.
“I’m coming” called Holly.
Vaevictus thrust forward, “TO BATTLE!!!” The half-dragon cut a swath through the lesser drow warriors. Braydin, Uthar’zen and Morn followed with the twins singing, “Eilistraee, Eilistraee” while bringing up the rear.
Braydin winced in pain as from the shadows stepped a drow male wielding a rapier with a now bloody point. “Welcome” said the drow.
Halfling and drow fenced rapier to rapier while bandying witty vituperations. Their blades met and parted like two dancers practicing a choreographed routine.
Behind the remaining drow warriors stood two drow males, one in the robes of a wizard and the other in Chainmail wielding a shortsword. The drow in Chainmail shouted commands in a strange tongue to the drow warriors, then said a prayer directed at Vaevictus. It had no effect on the half-dragon.
Two large spidery creatures with the torso and head of a drow, a male and a female, crawled from the darkness.
“Driders…leave them to me” said Uthar’zen as he tumbled past the intervening drow warriors and engaged the male drider who was surrounded by shifting mirror images moving in and out of each other confusing and confounding his blade. He slowly whittled the images down one by one until only the drider remained. It quickly erected a new set of mirror images.
Celtavian entered the cave and made his way down the tunnel with his trusty wand of magic missiles in hand. He came upon the battle and calmly watched waiting for a moment when his Art might be most effective.
A short and chaotic fight ensued that left only the drow in Chainmail and the two Driders standing. Kaela had expended most of her Art slaying the drow wizard and had no more to unleash.
The drow in Chainmail called out. The female drider came chanting prayers to Lolth to reinvigorate her beleaguered leader.
Braydin and Morn had slain the rapier-wielding drow. Morn had taken the worst of that fight and could provide little help against the remaining enemies.
Holly called upon Shaundakul healing Vaevictus of his wounds.
The twins were busy tending to their own injuries.
Uthar’zen battled the male drider.
Vaevictus was fighting the female drider and the drow in Chainmail at the same time.
Braydin attacked the drow in Chainmail. He shuffled back and forth trying to flank with Vaevictus.
The drow in chainmail signed to the male drider.
It moved past Uthar’zen confident its mirror images would protect it and flanked the Halfling. Braydin felt the sting of a shortsword at his back. He spun around to defend himself.
The drow in Chainmail took advantage of the opening and jammed his razor-sharp shortsword in the Halflings neck.
Braydin dropped his rapier and grabbed his neck in a feeble attempt to staunch the flow of blood, then fell to the ground twitching.
“BRAYDIN!! NOOOOO!” Holly cut down the drow in Chainmail with one blow, and then mercilessly butchered the fallen drow like a piece of meat.
Vaevictus finished off the female drider.
The twins called upon Eilistraee to heal Braydin. It was of no avail, the Halfling was dead.
The male drider cast a spell and disappeared before Uthar’zen’s eyes. “It is escaping, stop it” yelled Uthar’zen.
Covered in blood Holly cast down her sword and cradled Braydin’s head. She wept. The Halfling was her best friend out of all her companions and now he was dead.
The twins wept also saddened by the loss of such a bright life.
Even Vaevictus and Morn were stunned by the mournful revelation.
Celtavian watched the magical aura of the creature as it moved towards the cave entrance.
Uthar’zen chased it swinging at the air.
The blue-eyed mage’s quiet voice pierced the heavy sorrow that had come over the now seven companions and Morn, “Thourne, you wield the faerie fire, correct?”
Thourne looked at the mage through tear-filled eyes and nodded numbly.
“I need you to use it quickly. Cast it at the stone wall that blocks the tunnel from this cave” said Celtavian.
“There is no stone wall…”
Celtavian cast a minor image shaping the illusion into a stone wall that completely blocked the tunnel. The drider halted. “Now Thourne…cast the faerie fire about ten feet from the wall” Celtavian said calmly.
Thourne ran to the tunnel. She extended her hand and a burst of pallid violet light danced about the illusionary wall. The faint violet luminescent outline of the Drider appeared.
Uthar’zen, Vaevictus and Morn sped down the tunnel and slew it.
Uthar'zen spit on the corpse of the drider, "All our dead now, just as they deserve. No mercy requested, no mercy given." He sheathed his blade and returned to the others. Vaevictus and Morn followed.
“I haven’t the Power to call his spirit back” said Holly as tears streamed down her cheeks, “We’re going to have to bury him here, we can’t take his body back to Shadowdale. We’re too deep in the forest.”
“The Cormanthor is a good place to bury a fallen friend. Many worthy folk lie beneath the soil of the Cormanthor, or so the tales say” said Phallon.
The twins and Holly cleaned and healed Braydin’s body. They took what gear might be useful to another and left with him his rapier and armor. Vaevictus dug a small grave. Braydin was wrapped in his cloak and laid within it. They marked his resting place with a large rock and Holly scratched into the stone the following epitaph:
Here lies Braydin Bramblefoot
A true friend and brave warrior
May he rest in peace
Died Eleasis 17, 1372 Year of Wild Magic
Holly prayed, “Shaundakul, as you watch over the roads this day, I pray that you guide Braydin’s spirit to his rightful place of rest amongst his people and kin. He was a good friend and a brave warrior.”
The others paid their respects in the manner appropriate to their beliefs. Braydin was buried. One more adventurer lost to the hidden dangers of the Cormanthor.
The seven companions and Morn spent a few uneventful days at the brigand camp. They thoroughly looted the place. The procured the following: two bags of holding the drow brigands used for transporting stolen booty, a decanter of endless water, a pair of boots of striding and springing bearing the symbol of Shaundakul (Holly took these), and a new suit of magical everbright full plate armor for Vaevictus along with a good amount of gold, jewelry and gems.
The only other item of note was the shortsword wielded by the drow in chainmail. When Morn had picked it up, its edge had turned dull and common. But in Uthar’zen’s hands the blade was magically sharp. They later found a journal containing an entry about the sword by a fellow named Alak:
Uktar 4, 1341…
That miserable Halfling slave stole my sword and cut me with it. A curse upon all Halflings and small folk.
This is the fourth time my blade has been taken by another and used against me. It will not happen again. Only my hand or the hand of another honorable drow male will wield my blade ever again. This I swear.
Thoroughly rested after three days, the once again eight companions (including Morn) set out on the final leg of the journey to Myth Drannor.
Last edited by Celtavian; Saturday, 1st November, 2003 at 05:47 PM.
Thursday, 30th October, 2003, 12:06 PM #9
[i][b]Session 3: The City of Song…[/b][/i]
Eleasis 21, 1372…
“Holly, I’m really sorry” said Morn.
“I know” said Holly without looking back. She continued walking through the forest paying the ranger no mind.
“Truly, I am very sorry. Magic overtook my mind. I didn’t know what I was doing” he apologized again.
“I know. Just let it lie.” said Holly.
The day before the eight companions had battled some strange plant-like creatures that used magic to muddle the minds of their foes. “Green Warders” Phallon had named them. Guardians left behind by the elves to defend their ancient home in the Cormanthor. Usually subtle in their defense of the forest, these green warders were violent and murderous. They attacked the eight companions in a state of madness lashing at whomever they could with their thorny branch-like arms.
Morn had been one of the few affected by their mind-muddling magic. Confused, he had struck Holly and wandered off nowhere in particular. The young girl was surprised and a bit miffed, but she didn’t hold it against the ranger. He was far more concerned about the incident than her.
Over the months since Shaundakul had first begun granting Holly’s prayers, having not met any other worshippers of Shaundakul, she had developed little self-regard for her place in the church. The idea that she was now revered by layman followers of The Helping Hand was beyond her. If she had been a more astute student of human character, she might have taken a bit more time to assure the ranger that he hadn’t committed a sin by striking a priest of his faith. But youth often overshadows wisdom, and Holly, though wise, was young, stubborn and surprisingly self-deprecating causing her to all but ignore his concerns.
It didn’t help that Holly and Morn were as different as night and day. Morn had been raised on the road under the open sky by a free spirited man who taught Morn the value of living a full life. Holly had been raised by a family of Tyrran’s and Tormite’s who taught her courage, duty and right moral thinking from their point of view, a point of view not shared by most other Shaundakulan’s. And with Braydin gone, Morn was Holly’s scouting partner. He was equally as good a scout as Braydin, but certainly had a hard time understanding the young woman. Occasionally they would speak of their faith, but more often than not they were at odds over the way a proper Shaundakulan should live. Over the course of many conversations, it became painfully clear to Morn that Holly had a little too much of her Tyrran father in her.
The rest of the companions followed a short distance behind Holly and Morn.
Vaevictus eyes vellicated constantly. In his mind, he carried on a diatribe against the drow wizard that murdered his brother with him as judge, jury and executioner. Always he pictured the wizard groveling, impotent before the power of Torm, as he read from a scroll detailing the crimes the cowardly wizard must answer for. He mentally added Braydin’s murder to the list. The dream always ended with his final pronouncment, "You are sentenced to death."
Phallon, Kaela and Uthar’zen chatted gaily about the beauty of the forest and other topics of no particular importance.
Celtavian and Thourne walked in the rear. Both quietly lost in contemplation.
It had been four days since Braydin’s death, and the second day of travel after leaving the drow camp. The mood of the companions was forlorn, yet fortitudinous. This journey had cost them one life, and that made it seem all the more important that they complete it irregardless of the danger.
Hours passed. The light grew bright and the forest grew less. They emerged and before them stood the fabled City of Song.
Quiet. Haunting. Beautiful. These were but a few of the words that filled the minds of the eight companions as they looked in awe upon the ruins of the ancient city that even now in its desolation was pulchritudinous. Artfully crafted buildings of stone and wood seemed to grow from the earth as though they were as much a part of the forest as the trees. Walkways wrapped in vines sprouting yellow, white and red flowers crisscrossed the city’s skyline. Great shadowtops taller than the tallest edifice stood as a testament to elves skill at blending the natural and the artificial while diminishing neither. The rays of the sun danced across roofs of buildings inlaid with gold and silver. The natural flora nourished by the sun covered the city slowly reclaiming it as though decreed to do so by the gods. Birds chirped and sang filling the air with a melodious noise that provided some solace within the abandoned and decaying city. It was like gazing upon a painting of failing splendor.
Not far from where they stood was a ruined tower, perhaps a watchtower or wizard’s domicile, covered in ivy that had wormed through the building causing great cracks in the stone. From the top of the tower flew several ugly gargoyle-like creatures with draconic heads, featherless pinions and barb-tipped, whip-like tails. Four were green, two were blue, and one was red. Flapping and flitting they came like a swarm of bats.
Holly shaded her eyes, “What by the gods are those?”
“Heralds come to welcome us to the city. There is no end to the malevolence of this place” said Vaevictus, “Prepare for battle.”
“Wait…how do we know they are not friendly” asked Phallon.
“We’ll find out soon enough, but they certainly don’t look friendly” said Morn.
“You’re right” said the twins.
Arrows loosed by the twins and Morn did nothing to deter or halt the seven creatures. They swept in like birds of prey running to the attack as soon as their taloned-feet touched the ground.
“Come to play today” said a green.
“Torment and tearing…” said another green.
“…rending and scaring…” said a blue.
“…feasting and roasting…” said another blue.
“...we’ll soon be a’boasting and you’ll be a’toasting” finished the red.
They cackled while tearing at flesh and bone with cruel claws and hungry mouths. Whip. Whip. Whip. Their long tails struck like snakes. And like the bite of a strange snake, their tails held a hidden danger. Each tail strike from a green felt like a day without rest. Each tail strike from a blue felt like a touch of lightning. Each tail strike from the red felt like a hot poker.
The eight companions fought with all their courage and strength. Calling upon gods and Art to defeat the fury of the fiends and send them back to the hells from which they came. For these were infernal abishai not of this world, petty torturers and servants of a greater evil from the Nine Hells, brought to Myth Drannor through the foolish machinations of evil Banites long ago destroyed by the folly of thinking they could control the fiends of Hell.
The red alone remained its scaly hide rent in several places by Vaevictus’s mighty greatsword. Drops of its infernal blood spotted the ground as it took to the air, “I’ll be back fleshlings. A battle you have won, but a war you have just begun.”
A throaty laugh pierced the air. An arrow struck the red abishai in the chest. It plummeted to the ground crumpled dead. “You don’t escape today devil. Greetings and well-met adventurers” said a man sitting astride a great white manta ray flapping its wings rapidly.
* * * * *
“Wow…did you see what I did Celtavian?” said Kaela with more than a bit of exuberance in her voice, “I’m more powerful than I thought.”
“Yes…I saw it…very clearly” said Celtavian. And he had. The Weave flexed, twitched and stretched, then changed completely after Kaela cast a lightning bolt at the blue devil that had chased her from one end of the grassy glebe to the other. “Very strange…very, very strange” he rubbed his smooth chin pondering the cause of this aberration.
Kaela picked up what was once a fearsome blue devil. Little droplets of water ran into creases in her palm. “I’m going to put it in my mouth.”
“I don’t think you should” warned Celtavian.
“I’ll be just like a monster that eats what it kills. And I’ll boast of it to inspire fear in my enemies and awe from my peers” Kaela giggled and popped the small cube of ice into her mouth.
Celtavian shook his head, “You are a strange woman.”
Kaela grinned, “Why do so many people say that?”
“The Weave here is unstable. Unexpected changes to our Art are a very real possibility. I can only surmise that the cause is the Mythal”. The blue-eyed mage took in the surroundings. To the others this place seemed made of wood and stone and grass and earth, but to him it was made of magic. Flowing strands of the Weave as clear and visible to him as the sun in the cloudless sky was to the others pulsed and fluctuated with intense power. The Weave in this area was beyond even his ability to immediately comprehend.
Never had he looked upon a Mythal. Very few Mythal’s still existed and being of half-elven stock he was not allowed to travel to Evereska or Evermeet where such powerful elven magic still exists. It was beautiful. “So much magic” he muttered in awe, “So beautiful…like a tapestry woven by a thousand year old master weaver of unsurpassed skill.”
“Yes…the city is beautiful” Kaela looked about her, “even empty as it is. Let’s join the others. I want a ride on that pretty white flying creature.”
Celtavian continued to stare at the wondrous shaping of the Weave about him. ‘This will take years to understand’ he thought to himself, ‘I am a child again.’ He smiled.
* * * * *
Emrock’s snow ray glided gently to the ground. The aging adventurer slid his left leg over the creature’s saddle dismounting on the right, and then sauntered over to the eight companions.
The man was an aged adventure who had eaten one too many fine meals judging from his pot belly. He was dressed in dirty loose fitting brown breeches, a white shirt, and a worn black travel cloak that hung about his shoulders. Rings adorned each hand and two sheathed scimitars hung at his waist. He wore only a dented steel helmet and steel gauntlets for protection. His appearance did little to inspire confidence in his abilities as a warrior.
Vaevictus was not impressed, “Well met…Your help came a bit late.”
“Better than not at all” said Emrock cockily.
The half-dragon growled.
“Calm down, calm down, a man has to be careful who he helps and when he helps” said Emrock, “…at least a man who wants to survive Myth Drannor.”
“So this is Myth Drannor” exclaimed Holly. She smiled happily at Vaevictus, the first time she had smiled since Braydin’s death, “We made it!! We really made it!!”
The companions cheered heedless of peril and all save Celtavian, who was too enamored of the Mythal’s intricate magic, engaged in a group hug.
“I wouldn’t pat myself on the back just yet” said Emrock, “Getting here is relatively easy, it is surviving that is hard.”
“What can you tell of us this place?” said Morn, “You sound as if it you know it well.”
“What can I tell you of this place?” said Emrock, “That you were foolish to come. This is no place for whelp adventurers. In Myth Drannor, death lurks around every corner. Fell creatures that would sup on your body and soul regularly patrol the skies. Dragons, demons, devils, and other unnamable horrors reside in what were once the homes of elven lords and ladies who perished long ago. The best advice I can give you is to go home. You’ve seen Myth Drannor, now head home as quick as you can.”
“We’re not leaving. Shaundakul called me here and the others have business in this place as well” said Holly.
“Another foolish…errh…I mean devout…follower of Shaundakul” said Emrock.
Holly eyes hardened, “Shaundakul’s greatest temple lies here in these ruins. I would see it no matter the peril.”
Emrock could see she was as stubborn as a mule. “At the very least I’ll tell you where the temple is. Let us sup together this night and I’ll share what I know of Myth Drannor. Give you a fighting chance at least.”
Last edited by Celtavian; Saturday, 1st November, 2003 at 06:04 PM.
Wednesday, 5th November, 2003, 05:55 AM #10
City of Song...
Emrock sat down on a piece of moss-covered rock that formed the foundation of the building he had led the eight companions to for refuge. The wooden roof of the building was rotted and marked with holes which the waning light of the sun shone through. Other than one large char marked fracture in the northern stone wall, the rest of building’s walls were in good repair.
The aged adventurer put his hands on his thighs and looked the eight companions over. “So, have you all come to worship at the Temple of Shaundakul?” he asked casually.
“Not I…I came for the adventure” said Kaela, “Your steed is beautiful. What manner of creature is it?”
“Vleem?…” he chuckled, “Vleem is a mantari from the Mountains in the North. He is a good steed and an even better friend. We’ll see if he likes you once I decide if I like you. Now what of you others?”
“Vleem…I like that name” said Kaela. She paid Emrock’s surliness no mind as she admired the great white mantari. She had never seen such a creature before. It had small horn like structures protruding from above its wide set eyes and a pair of flipper-like extensions, probably used to scoop food, surrounding its ample mouth. A saddle from which hung many bags attached to leather straps rested upon its wide blanket-like body. Great wings spanning the length of four or five greatswords seemed to give it the shape of a knight’s shield. It lay sprawled on the grass just outside the building.
“Why do you care why we are here, Emrock? Concerned that we might cut into your profiteering?” said Vaevictus. He didn’t much like the paunchy man, “If you must know, I am hunting a murderer. A drow wizard of some skill. Have you come upon any such characters during your forays into the ruins?”
“Yes, I have” said Emrock, “There have been a group of drow wandering about. I’ve steered clear of them. Watched them destroy a Phaerimm more than a tenday ago. That takes some power, more than I…and probably you…are capable of dealing with.”
“We will see” said Vaevictus. He sat down on another chunk of rock and set to cleaning his greatsword
The twin’s interest was piqued at the mention of powerful drow. “What did this group of drow look like?” they asked.
Emrock eyed them suspiciously, “Not much different than either of you. Drow are drow, they all look the same to me.”
Uthar’zen glowered at the man, “Speak kindly to the ladies, or I will take offense.”
“Well, aren’t we a surly lot. I have a good mind to…” Emrock was cut off by Thourne.
“Uthar’zen, please, repay rudeness with kindness as the Dark Maiden would wish” said Thourne emphatically, “Emrock, all drow are not alike. We are kind-hearted Eilistraaean’s, not the more commonly known evil and treacherous drow of Lolth. It may be that the drow you witnessed serve Eilistraee. If you could tell me of their appearance, I might be able to determine either way.”
“My sister speaks for me as well” said Phallon.
“If you live long enough, you’ll see everything. Goodly drow, I can barely believe it. You were either born with a silk tongue or you speak the truth” said Emrock.
“They speak the truth and their hearts bear not the taint of evil or I would know it” said Vaevictus, “Speak as freely with them as you would a trusted friend.”
The twins bowed their heads to Vaevictus as a show of thanks for his support.
“Seems you have earned the trust of a Tormite, though I doubt that will carry much weight in civilized lands…now let me tell you what I saw… there were at least fifteen or twenty drow, most common warriors to my eyes. A few wore wizard’s robes, but the most interesting of the lot were two women riding strange steeds. One sat astride a dragon as black as a moonless night and the other sat astride a great spider larger than a horse. The one who sat on the dragon wore black steel armor emblazoned with spider images. The other wore black clinging clothes of a manner I am not familiar with, and she carried a scepter with a spider grasping a moon colored gem on top. Her power was frightening. She obliterated a Phaerimm as a man might crush a bug beneath his boot.”
The twins looked at each other with concern, “They must be Lolthites. This is disturbing news. I know little of the Phaerimm, but servants of Lolth are often very powerful. Do you know where they are now?” They did not voice that they were possibly related to the drow in question.
“No. I did not follow them nor stay within sight. I want no part of such powerful drow. I am an adventurer, not a fool” said Emrock.
“Thank you for the news, dire as it is” said the twins. They begin to chatter away with each other in the drow elven dialect which few present fully understood.
“You came to Myth Drannor well-equipped I hope?” said Emrock like a merchant finished with the small talk probing for a possible customer.
“Not really” said Holly, “we came spur of moment and fairly unaware of the dangers. I just want to make it to Shaundakul’s Throne, and then we should be safe.”
‘A bite’ Emrock thought to himself.
“Yea”, said Morn who had sat by quietly listening to the conversation, “at Shaundakul’s Throne we will find aid, but we are not there yet and the way is dangerous if what Emrock says is true. Why do you ask if we are well-equipped Emrock? Have you extra supplies you can spare?”
‘A catch’, Emrock smiled inside. “For a price” he said slyly, “I am a merchant, not a saint.”
“Now we see your true purpose” said Vaevictus as though he had been expecting as much the entire time, “You will probably sell us supplies for thrice their worth.”
“Twice their worth…a fair price considering the situation” said Emrock.
“What do you have to sell?” said Morn.
“Magical potions and scrolls…” said Emrock, “the mad folk who traverse these ruins are often in need of curatives and other such magic easily stored in potions and scrolls. Even the folk at Shaundakul’s Throne purchase my wares. Myth Drannor is a dangerous place. Death is easier to come by than gold, so my business is quite lucrative.”
“So be it” said Vaevictus, “We are in need. Let us haggle.”
The haggling process didn’t take long and it was mostly one-sided. It consisted of one of the eight companions asking “How much?” to which Emrock would name a price and they would pay it, no questions asked. They bought nine curative potions in small vials with cork stoppers effortlessly removed with the flick of a thumb and fourteen scrolls written on vellum held fast by common string tied in an easily undone knot. Celtavian looked upon each to ensure their potency and authenticity. The purchase cost them most of the gold they had between them as well as most of gold taken in spoils from the Vhaeraunian drow. Emrock assured them that the gold was wisely spent and the curatives would serve them well given the number of battles they would have to fight to reach the safety of Shaundakul’s Throne. He even told them where to find Shaundakul’s Throne for free.
“It lays on the Northern side of the city a bit east of here. It is a large well-fortified stone building surrounded by great walls. The only ways I know of to gain entrance are to fly over the walls…which I do not recommend given the strange guardians that watch over the temple...or through a pair of great doors on the western side of the walls. The followers of Shaundakul keep a vigilant watch upon these doors from the towers that flank them as do the guardians.”
“They will allow us entrance if we can get to the temple” said Morn, “What are these guardians you speak of?”
“Great flying cones with tentacles many times the length of a man’s arm. They do not speak any language that I know and they move with speed to defend the temple from attack be it from air or land. Nothing that calls these ruins home has yet breached that temple, which leads me to believe the guardians are very powerful” said Emrock.
“We are true servants of Shaundakul. They will allow us passage into Shaundakul’s Throne” said Holly confidently.
“For your sake, let it be so… Now, since our business is done and I’ve made a tidy profit, you are all invited to sup with me. I have wine, meat, bread and cheese, but please, start no fires, we need no company from the ruins” said Emrock.
The eight companions supped with Emrock that night. The meal was of mixed quality. The bread was old, the meat was cured, and the cheese a bit dry. The Sembian wine was the best part, and helped wash the meal down and lighten their spirits.
The sun set and darkness came over the ruins. Emrock pulled forth two magic torches bearing a continual flame. They provided enough light to see by and the companions continued talking strategy and purpose well into the night.
Kaela flirted with Emrock for much of that time. She was impressed by the man’s braggadocio and experience as he told tale after tale of the dangers he had faced and overcome. He had been everywhere from the wild, untamed lands of the North to the metropolis of Waterdeep and faced all manner of enemies from orc war bands to arrogant magi. The man seemed like the kind of person Kaela wanted to be, adventurous, worldly and lucky. After all, she didn’t adventure for a divine purpose or foolhardy heroics, but for the sheer thrill.
“I want a ride on Vleem” Kaela pouted.
“I’ll give you a ride” Emrock said salaciously. The wine had gone to more than his head.
“She’s not that kind of girl” piped Holly, the only person besides Vaevictus who did not partake of the wine, “you shouldn’t be making such improper advances.”
Kaela glared at Holly. “You don’t speak for me” she said in Turmic, “Be quiet.”
“I shouldn’t have to, and if you acted like a proper lady, I wouldn’t have to” retorted Holly in Turmic.
“I don’t have to listen to you Holly Fairheart” she finished in Turmic, grabbed Emrock by the hand and stood, “Take me on a ride.”
Holly fumed quietly. Her and Kaela locked eyes for a moment, and then Kaela and Emrock exited the building.
No one tried to comfort or council Holly. They knew the effort would be pointless. They let her sit by herself fuming hoping insight would come to the young, stubborn girl.
Kaela and Emrock soared over Myth Drannor on Vleem. The night sky was clear and filled with bright stars. Kaela held onto Emrock’s waist while the merchant effortlessly guided Vleem using neither reins nor knees.
Myth Drannor was as beautiful at night as it was during the day. A soft blue-white radiance covered the city like a blanket of moonlight and light of an unknown kind could be seen prancing about the spires, turrets and pinnacles of the grandest homes.
“The city is beautiful at night” said Kaela with more than a hint of awe in her voice.
“Yes…night is the best time for a flight over the city” said Emrock, “See that place over there?” He pointed towards a building all aglow with the blue-white light that covered the city. It was a vast building, the grandest in sight, with many towers topped with wondrous spires that reached into the sky. “That is Castle Cormanthor where the rulers of this city once resided. Now it is home to devils. Stay clear of that place.”
“I certainly will” said Kaela, “Have you been everywhere in the city?”
“I don’t stay on the ground too often…this place is too dangerous to walk casually about even for myself. Because of the danger, I haven’t seen as much of the city as I would like save for from the sky” said Emrock.
“No matter, this seems the best way to see the city” said Kaela. She clung tighter to Emrock.
Emrock and Kaela flew around the city for an hour or more before alighting on the ground near the building where the others were resting. Emrock grabbed a few blankets. They stayed together that night enjoying each others company until the coming of the dawn.
Eleasis 22, 1372...
The next day Emrock and the eight companions prepared to part ways. The aged adventurer was moving on to civilized lands and the eight companions were bound for Shaundakul’s Throne.
“Stay amongst the buildings and don’t walk out in the open. There are many watchful eyes that would look upon you as prey” said Emrock.
“We will heed your advice” said Vaevictus, “Thank you for the warning.”
Emrock pulled Kaela off to the side, “Here…take these.” He handed Kaela three corked potion vials.
“A gift…I love gifts. What are they?” said Kaela happily.
“Two curative potions and an invisibility potion, just in case you need to disappear,” said Emrock, “Now you take care of yourself. And if the gods see fit, we will meet again sometime preferably in a city where I can show you a proper good time.”
“Oh Emrock, you are too sweet”, Kaela kissed him full on the lips. Once again her physical charms had made a man, even one as experienced and jaded as Emrock, fall for her.
Emrock mounted Vleem, “Farewell and may Tymora favor you.”
Kaela waved, “Farewell Emrock…Farewell Vleem.”
“Veep” said Vleem wishing them all farewell in its own strange language.
The others bid Emrock farewell. He and Vleem took to the air.
The eight companions watched Emrock and Vleem disappear into the sky over the forest, and then turned towards the city.
“Here we go” said Holly, “Are we ready?”
Ready or not, they set out into the labyrinthine city.
Last edited by Celtavian; Monday, 10th November, 2003 at 11:45 AM.
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