Author: Sullori PM
The drow come again to Mithril Hall, but this time, they're not after Drizzt...Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Drizzt D. & Alias - Words: 24,377 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 3 - Published: 03-29-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2866293
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
As Inidil Mlezziir sprinted through the lush forest, scimitars in hand, a few yards ahead a lumbering orc continuously glanced over its shoulder. Drizzt Do'Urden waited eagerly at the ready. He had set up his trap for more than one orc, but Vhaidra had obviously finished off the others. Drizzt tensed as the orc crashed through the underbrush-and promptly fell over. Drizzt's trap had worked to perfection, but, instead of rushing out to finish the job, the dark elf stayed concealed and let Guenhwyvar have her fun.
Inidil sprinted through the same area the orc had just minutes before. However, she jumped gracefully into the air, and over the taunt rope strung across the two slender trees on either side of her. Drizzt lit off the tall birch he had been crouched in and greeted Inidil as they watched Guen play with her kill. Spinning her scimitars into their sheaths, Inidil calmly stated, "Guen surely does love killing orcs."
Drizzt, smiling, crossed the clearing to stand beside his feline friend. Patting her flank, he replied, "Almost as much as she does drow." As if in answer, Guen roared and playfully bared her teeth at Drizzt. Laughing, Inidil kneeled in front of the panther and tousled her muzzle in affection. Panting in exhaustion, Guenhwyvar's eyes strayed to her master.
"Awfully tired you seem. I had thought you would enjoy hunting down more enemies," Drizzt said nonchalantly. Guen, never too weary for that, reared up onto her hind legs and placed her paws atop Drizzt's shoulders, nearly knocking the poor drow down, and nuzzled his pouch. Drizzt smirked and reached into it, removing a small onyx figurine of a stalking panther. "Rest easy, my friend," he whispered and dismissed the panther to her home on the Astral Plane.
As the mist dissipated, along with it Guen, Drizzt and Inidil made their way back to Mithril Hall in high spirits. It would take them several days to reach the dwarven stronghold, but Drizzt knew of a small outcropping where they could rest for the night. They headed to it at a steady pace.
Drizzt laughed in joy as his home came to sight. Seven long years he had been gone, and was eager to see again his friends. To kick up the pace, Drizzt turned to Inidil and smirked, "I know these mountains as well as the dwarves who have lived on them for hundreds of years, yet you yourself are skilled at scaling cliff sides. Let us see who is the better."
"Why stop there?" Inidil retorted. "Guenhwyvar could surely outdistance us on the trail, but on a mountainside?"
Drizzt chuckled to himself, knowing the panther could outdistance them on any terrain, and pulled out the figurine. He whispered Guenhwyvar's name and as soon as the mist began to swirl, Drizzt and Inidil were gone. As they leaped breathlessly among the rocks and boulders of Kelvin's Cairn, they heard a roar of irritation sound from far down the mountain. Thinking they had caught the panther by surprised, and thus gained an advantage, both drow slowed. They were approaching Bruenor's Climb when a black streak broke past them and disappeared just as quickly as it had come. As they sprinted over a cluster of particularly large stones, Guen stretched across a large, flat boulder and yawned loudly. Drizzt smiled as he looked upon the sight. It almost looked as if Guenhwyvar had been waiting for them! Inidil patted Guen's shoulder and sat down nest to her to catch her breath. It was then that she felt a cold blade pressed against her vulnerable throat.
"What are ye about?" asked the sword-wielder.
Inidil, not knowing the Common Tongue could not answer and flinched when the question was asked again.
"I said, what are ye-"
"She is with me."
Cattie-brie, recognizing the melodic voice, glanced over her shoulder to the drow standing calmly beside Guenhwyvar. Inidil, taking advantage of her captor's distraction, spun deftly to the left and snapped her scimitars out of their sheaths. Cattie-brie, sensing her prisoner's escape, glared at Drizzt, who merely shrugged in return, and approached Inidil slowly, Khazid'hea drawn.
Coming up behind the angry, and most likely scared, young woman, Drizzt stayed her hand. Glancing at Inidil, standing at the ready, he calmly said, "Please put away your weapons. I know this woman and, though sharp are the words on her tongue; she will bring you no harm," he glanced at the drawn scimitars, "unless you give her meaning to."
Inidil glared openly at the girl, then snapped her unerring gaze upon Drizzt. "She held a sword to my throat," she exclaimed. "What else should I have done?" Cattie-brie, knowing none of the Drow Tongue, could only guess at what was being said and nodded in confirmation when the female drow spun her blades into their sheaths.
The two whispered for a moment, and then turned to face her. Drizzt smiled warmly and then began, in the Common Tongue, "Greetings Cattie-brie. The roads have been long, but worth it to see you again! On my travels, I came to reside in the region where I first glanced upon the Surface. It was there that I first saw Inidil Mlezziir, a drow newly come to the Surface. Like you, I had my doubts, but as I continued to watch her interaction with the environment around her, I knew there to be no raiding party concealed within the nearby caves. Therefore, I approached her. She is now the second Ilythirri to make her home upon the Surface." Drizzt beamed openly and waited for Cattie-brie to respond.
Cattie-brie instead gazed at this strange drow. He still doubted that any drow could be like Drizzt-that is until she locked eyes with her. "Purple eyes!" she thought silently. "This drow has purple eyes!" Drizzt, noticing her surprise, smiled, "That was the first thing I noticed when we met face to face. She does not know the Common Tongue and therefore could not answer your question." He laughed as Cattie-brie blushed. "Fear not, for she will learn! But enough-tell me, what has Cattie-brie been up to that has so honed her stealth skills?"
Cattie-brie's eyes danced as she recounted her many scouts with Wulfgar. She promised that, as soon as was possible, she would join Drizzt in one of their own.
As the trio, and Guenhwyvar, made their way down the halls of Mithril Hall, they ran into Regis, their Halfling friend, who promptly embraced Drizzt's leg until there was no feeling. Drizzt had been gone for a long while, and all were glad to see him return. Every dwarf they passed greeted the drow warmly. Regis pointed them in the right direction, telling them that Bruenor was in the main hall in conference with a group of councilors. As they neared hall, they heard muffled arguing through the richly adorned, silver plated doors. Upon opening the doors, they found Bruenor surrounded by a ring of ruffled dwarfs in flowing blue robes. Roaring in anger, the king shoved his way out of the tangle to stand before Drizzt.
"Glad to see you back, elf," he said with a smile. "Great timing, too. Been a little too much activity in the tunnels that we can't explain lately." A dark cloud passed over his face, and his voice lowered to barely a whisper, "We suspect that it is them drow; the kills are exacted with precision and the cuts are fine."
As one, all turned to look upon Inidil. All except Drizzt, whose face was quickly turning white as death.
"Please, tell me, I beg. Are you in any way related to this?"
Inidil looked Drizzt deftly in the eyes. She saw that his eyes no longer smiled and sighed, dropping her gaze to the ground. "I was part of a raiding party, but, as I witnessed the merciless slaughter of those helpless to defend themselves because of my kin, I cast aside my heritage and came to the Surface, the only other world I knew of. I lead no raiding party; I am no scout. I came only for a peaceful home to live out the rest of my days. I came only for that."
Drizzt's eyes gleamed; he knew sincerity when he heard it. "For renouncing your own race, you seem to enjoy speaking their language well enough."
Inidil's eyes burned with angry flames as her eyes locked with Drizzt's, but she realized his joke as he smirked and placed his hands upon her slender shoulders. "But what of the others?" she asked. "They will not believe me."
Drizzt frowned, thinking the same thing. His friends would believe him-he knew that without a doubt-but they would still treat Inidil with suspicion and uncertainty until she proved herself to them. "I will talk to them, do not worry. For now, however, we must teach you the Common Tongue. You must be able to defend your case against the others and tell of your travels!"
Cattie-brie sat starring at the blank wall of her bedchamber, thinking of the situation that the gods saw fit to present her with. She trusted Drizzt's claim that Inidil had nothing to do with the drow raiding party, yet the young woman could not dismiss the irony of the drow showing themselves immediately after she arrived. Not able to sort through the mess, she snatched up her sword, Khazid'hea, and stormed out into the hall.
"It would be entirely wise to confront this Ilythirri," Khazid'hea interjected. "I suggest you leave the situation where it is and let someone else handle it."
Cattie-brie paused and giggled, amazed at her foolishness. She knew that her sword, an inanimate object, was right, and was obviously smarter than her. Leaning against the wall, she contemplated on what to do next. She wished to speak with Drizzt, but was anxious at the thought of confronting him. Then, with a small gasp of discovery, she turned to walk the other way at a brisk pace. Khazid'hea bombarded her with endless questions, but she ignored, intently focused on her task. She had to find someone.
A she turned a sharp corner with her head bowed, thinking on what to say, she almost ran into the very person she was trying to locate. Wulfgar prevented the collision by stopping at the last moment and peered at Cattie-brie intently, as if confused by her actions. Cattie-brie seized his arm without explanation and began leading him to-well, she did not know where.
Then suddenly, she came to be in the sparring chamber. She smiled, thinking that her instincts had guided her in the right direction, and unsheathed her sword. She turned to Wulfgar and smirked, "Ready?"
She attacked without further warning.
Wulfgar, whose warhammer was already in his hands, had little time to prepare and was quickly forced back on his heels at the fury of Cattie-brie's strikes. Although sorely pressed and trying vainly to parry the vicious woman's attacks, Wulfgar was intently aware of his surroundings and slowly led Cattie-brie towards a large barrel in the corner of the room.
The steady rhythm of parries, thrusts, and slashes grew into Cattie-brie taking the advantage. Seeing her opponent off balance and being forced back, she loosened up and provided him with various, subtle openings to keep everything spiced up. He struck at some, ignored others, but still continued to back up to the corner of the room. This confused the young woman, for she was not pressing him as she had before, and he should have at least been pushing her slightly. If he were to back up to the corner of the wall, he would be, well, cornered, and easy prey to Cattie-brie's slashing sword. Either way, she followed him, letting him back into the corner next to the barrel. It was then she noticed that this was the water barrel. After sparring, it was pleasant to be able to splash cool water on your sweaty brow. Nevertheless, she continued parrying and thrusting at small openings, only to have them batted away at the last moment by Aegis-fang.
Wulfgar stole a risky glance over his shoulder to make sure he was in the right position. Cattie-brie saw an opening at his hip and immediately sliced at it, scoring a minor wound as Wulfgar shoved it aside. Seeing the young woman off balance with the chancy attack, Wulfgar took his chance and shot his hand, which was submerged in the water barrel, out at Cattie-brie, splashing her with cold water.
Cattie-brie, desperately trying to regain her balance, was surprised when she glimpsed water shooting towards her face, and gasped when it struck. The water pooled down to the floor, and the young woman, already off balance, slipped out form under her feet and crashed to the floor. It wasn't long after that that she felt a slight pressure against her belt buckle as Wulfgar rested Aegis-fang against her abdomen.
Glancing up at the smug barbarian, she glared playfully at him and said, "You cheated!"
Wulfgar merely laughed and offered her his hand, lifting her to her feet; he bent down and retrieved her fallen sword. When he turned back to give it to her, she had already reached the water barrel and was splashing her face with water. With her back turned, she said lightly, "Nice match," and went back to stand before him, thanking him for recovering Khazid'hea.
While the young woman sheathed her blade, Wulfgar asked slyly, "Why was it that you brought me here?"
Cattie-brie sighed and looked up at the barbarian. She had, of course, asked him to come here so she could speak with him about Drizzt. But now, after being able to vent her anger out on the thrill of the fight, she dreaded conversing with him. She normally spoke with Drizzt when she was feeling stressed, depressed, or even cheerful and she didn't know where to start. "Well, it's about Inidil," she mused. Pouting, she added, "It seems like she is taking control of Drizzt."
Wulfgar chuckled and slowly shook his head, "Ah, I see…jealousy…"
"No!" Cattie-brie said sharply, and then blushed as Wulfgar laughed aloud. "It's just…I don't know…"she mumbled. She brushed her dripping wet hair irritably from her face and sighed.
"The only thing I can tell you," Wulfgar observed, "is that you should speak with him; tell him how you feel. You know as well as I that he will understand."
"Which is exactly what I don't want to do," the angry young woman snapped.
"Which is exactly why you should," Wulfgar replied calmly.
Cattie-brie sighed again. She shouldn't have expected anything more than what she received for asking Wulfgar for advice. Nonetheless, she knew that he was right, but she dreaded she also dreaded any confrontation with her friend, Drizzt. That was the main reason that she had declined the invitations to join him and Inidil on the numerous scouts that the two had already gone on. Glancing at Wulfgar's expression, she broke down; "Alright!" she fumed. "I'll speak with him tonight atop Bruenor's Climb, for the gods know he will be there, as he is every night." She glared at the beaming barbarian, "Happy?"
Wulfgar's eyes danced as he lifted the young woman into the air and spun her about, "More than you know!" he roared.
Drizzt sat atop Bruenor's Climb in deep thought. The thought of the drow coming once more on his behalf broke the poor drow apart. His friends had already endured it once before to almost disastrous ends. Could they do it again?
When will they stop to look for me? When will Lolth cease to hunger for my heart? He thought. When will that wretched demon spider leave me and those I love in peace?
Inidil had noticed Drizzt's strange behavior since the announcement of suspected drow activity. He almost seemed in a state of depression, but she thought the drow too dignified and spirited for that. She also angrily noted that no one else seemed to notice or care that the drow was not himself. She knew she was not imagining things, because Guenhwyvar noticed it also. Inidil was worried about him, and planned to express her concerns tonight.
Drizzt was in his customary spot-atop a large, even boulder overlooking the tundra below. Inidil took a deep breath and went to sit with him. Drizzt looked up as Inidil's shadow fell over him and gave her a small smile, "What can I do for you my friend?" he asked.
Inidil sat next to him and replied, "I just wished for your company. You have seemed distant lately; I reckoned that you would also."
"Thank you…" Drizzt replied dolefully. He seemed to be in another place as he gazed at the stars. Inidil sighed-this was not the Drizzt she knew.
"Pray tell," she whispered. "Pray tell-what burden has placed itself upon Drizzt Do'Urden's shoulders?"
"Drizzt abruptly rose and began to walk towards the fire, which was now burning low. He placed more wood upon it. "It is nothing to concern yourself with," he replied tightly.
"Inidil rose and stood before him. Looking down on him with a stern scowl on her striking features, she snarled, "Nothing to concern myself with? Drizzt, everyone around you is concerned. Ever since we discovered drow activity in the tunn-" The blood in Inidil's face slowly drained away as she realized why Drizzt was disheartened. Seizing Drizzt shoulder and spinning him about, she bellowed, "Drizzt, no. You cannot blame yourself for this tragedy! I beg you!"
Drizzt looked up sharply, a scowl scarring his handsome face. "What do you know of it?" he snarled. "You have not had to deal with this as have I! You know nothing of what I feel!"
Inidil inhaled sharply, "I-I was just trying to help. I was-" she turned abruptly, trying to hide from view the tears in her eyes that threatened to fall.
But Drizzt saw the glint clearly.
The Mlezziir Household was busy that night.
Matron Kirali Mlezziir chanted with a deep passion. Ecstasy coursed through her body as she felt the tremendous power of the Spider Queen run through her veins. Her hymn increased in volume-until a high priestess walked briskly into the chamber.
"Wael!" Matron Kirali screamed in rage. "You have disrupted my prayers! For what foolish reason have you entered?"
"Please excuse my interruption, Matro-" the priestess began.
"Wael!" Kirali shrieked yet again. "Relay your worthless words of apology to Lolth if anyone!" As the high priestess began to chant softly, Kirali wrenched out her seven-headed snake whip and snapped it at the priestess's leg, knowing that it would not affect her unless Lolth wished it. Sure enough, the whip stopped inches from the drow's, as if it had struck an invisible barrier. The priestess smirked.
"Why have you disturbed my prayers, Nulliira?" the Matron Mother asked with a small sigh.
Nulliira bowed low in apology and continued where she had left off, "All preparations have been secured. We are ready." Nulliira smirked and shot a quick glance at a small door to her right. "We have only to offer our sacrifice," she sneered.
Matron Kirali cackled as the prisoner was shoved out of the small chamber, trembling in fear.
Several hours after Cattie-brie and Wulfgar had left, Inidil burst into the sparring chamber, closely followed by Drizzt. Although their first "discussion" had not gone well, Inidil was confident that it would not happen again. Turning around sharply to face him, she said coolly, "Good, you're here." Her eyes flared, "Now you cannot run from this dilemma."
Drizzt cocked his head in confusion. He had followed Inidil here to apologize for his sharp words the night before. She obviously had other plans. "I did not come here to argue," he said, a little more sharply than intended. "I came to apologize for my rude behavior on our last meeting."
Inidil rolled her eyes. "And I did not come here to hear useless apologies!" she snapped, her eyes burning with hatred.
Out came her scimitars; one studded with jacinth and rubies, the other with aquamarine and topazes. Angry fires flickered in her lavender eyes as she steadily advanced on Drizzt. Drizzt had never seen Inidil this consumed with hatred. He felt that he would be engulfed in the inferno of her livid eyes. Twinkle and Icingdeath appeared in his hands as he stepped back. "Have my sharp words hurt her so much?" he mused. Then just as quickly, his trusted scimitars whirled about in a breath-taking dance.
The two drow were one in a fluid dance of death as their blades weaved in and out of each other. Neither knew if they were to use the flats of their scimitars, or the flawless, curving edges. Inidil spun to the right and arced her scimitar over Drizzt's head. In response to the cunning maneuver, he ducked rolled to the left, and slashed out with Icingdeath at Inidil's shoulder. It went on like this for several minutes, until Drizzt drove Inidil's blades up high and out so he could get a clear shot at her abdomen to end this madness. However, blocking the attempted attack, Inidil saw a slight opening. She struck straight out at Drizzt's vulnerable throat and cried out in triumph as her blade kissed his throat.
It was then she felt that cold steel blade of Twinkle caress her own.
Glancing down at Twinkle's pommel, the fist-sized sapphire winked at her. Inidil looked up and locked with violet eyes so like her own. She did not recall dropping her blades; only the loud ring as the hit the ground. But she did recall the warm glow she felt as she threw her arms around Drizzt Do'Urden.
Catti-brie spied a campfire a few yards up the cliffside and steadily made her way to it. Leaping gracefully among the many strewn rocks and boulders, she arrived quickly and made out a dark shape poised in the light of a small fire. Approaching the site, she caught a glimpse of a shadowy shape bounding away. Guenhwyvar, she thought, then continued forward. As the light revealed her, Drizzt looked up and motioned for her to join him. Just that short glance of his face told Catti-brie all she needed to know. Written clearly in his lavender orbs was a mixture of grief, sorrow, and what looked like decadence. "Greetings! How fares my dearest friend, Drizzt?" she asked, a tone of pity evident in her voice.
Drizzt heard it clearly. "Greetings! Come, be warmed and lightened by my cheerful fire," he replied warmly, swallowing the bitter response he wished to speak. Catti-brie accepted the invitation and sat down to warm her bitterly cold hands. It was late fall now, and snow would soon begin to fall. Chill winds blew in from the high peaks of the nearby mountains in the west. Catti-brie and Drizzt both dressed in warm wool and animal furs to keep warm, and their boots were lined with the hides of reindeer. An awkward silence fell over the camp and Catti-brie reckoned she had better get straight to the point. "I must ask; just how much do you know of this drow you call your friend?" she asked briskly.
Drizzt settled a confused stare upon Catti-brie and said slowly, "Enough to where I can trust and care for her." He paused, "Why do you ask? I had thought we settled everything concerning the increased drow activity."
"I now think otherwise," she said abrasively.
Drizzt was shocked. "I had also thought that you would trust in my judgment. I know that she is not responsible!"
"How can you know?" she countered. "You have only just met her! I will not have you putting Mithril Hall and all its inhabitants in peril because of your foolishness!"
Drizzt stood and glared down upon the bold young woman. "Who here is acting in foolishness? You are mad! Just because I have found a drow like myself!"
"There can be no other drow like you, Drizzt; give it up!" Catti-brie shrieked, finality in her tone. "It will never happen!"
The silence that again settled over the camp was beyond just that. Neither could look the other in the eye. It was then that they both noticed that Inidil had entered the camp. Catti-brie's eyes went wide and she abruptly turned away, embarrassed that she had been yelling so stridently. Inidil ignored the obvious sign of displeasure and sat in between the two. "Greetings," she said briskly as she reached for her pack. Drizzt rose and grasped the drow's arm. Pulling her aside, he whispered, in the Drow Tongue, "You should not have come."
Inidil pouted. "I didn't realize she was here," she said innocently.
Drizzt chuckled and responded, "I'm sure of that. Why, with all the yelling, I can imagine how you couldn't hear." He smirked as Inidil rolled her eyes. His face grave again, he added, "Now, you must leave. I do not want you speaking with her at this moment."
Inidil scowled at Drizzt as if he were some foolish little boy. "Drizzt, all I wish to do is speak with her. I want her to know that I mean her and Mithril Hall no harm." A small frown on her lips, she added, "Please, I ask of you only this."
Drizzt sighed, but smiled, "Alright; I suppose you can communicate well enough now that you know the basics of the Common Tongue. I will be nearby in case it escalates."
Inidil cried out in elation and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. He chuckled softly as the young Ilythirri bounded away to stand before Catti-brie. Figuring that the two women would be fine, he went back to his spot on the boulder. He looked down upon the tundra at the small fires that dotted the plain, marking where Settlestone was located. Sighing once more, he blanked out all but the stars and moon in the sky.
Inidil moved to Catti-brie's side and offered her wine from her skin. Excepting gracefully, she took a small sip and handed it back, wiping her now red lips with the back of her hand. Yet another awkward silence flitted through the camp, followed by a small cough from Inidil. Finally, she turned to Catti-brie and said quietly, "Please, Catti-brie," her accent twisted the name. "Let us be-" She stopped, trying vainly to find the right words. She did not know very much of the Common Tongue.
Catti-brie, seeing her dilemma, smiled and offered, "Khal'abbil?"
Inidil laughed and agreed. Then, to finalize the 'deal' she nodded silently towards Drizzt. Catti-brie, figuring out her plan, nodded eagerly and rose without a whisper of a sound. During their short conversation, Drizzt had wandered back to his customary spot and was now, yet again, gazing at the stars and sighing every few moments. Every now and then, he would glance over his shoulder to check on his two dear friends.
The next time he would look, they would be gone.
Guenhwyvar, sprawled beside him, tensed when she sensed that the two women were gone, but rested her head back on her paws when she saw to dark figures emerge from the darkness surrounding the fire. Just when Drizzt was about to check on the two of them, he was tackled from behind by two young women very much like his own friends.
And so they were.
Laughing loudly, Catti-brie eased her way off of Drizzt and looked down at Inidil. She was beautiful when she smiled. Catti-brie offered her hand and said, "Here, let me help you."
Inidil grasped the helping hand and rose. "My thanks," she muttered, then turned to look down at Drizzt, still sprawled on the ground. "Need any help? She asked, a smile on her lips.
Grumbling, he looked up, his eyes dancing with laughter. "No, I am fine," he responded. Rising, he strode over to the fire, doused it, grabbed the two packs strewn beside the cairn and handed one to Inidil. Then, the three friends made their way back to Mithril Hall. Drizzt was to inspect the dwarf corpses that were recovered from the tunnels and try to discern what had caused their deaths. Although they already had an idea, Drizzt had requested it to make sure that they knew exactly what was going on.
Upon entering the main hall, they found Bruenor, again surrounded by a group of flustered dwarves, angrily shoving them out of his way as he went to sit down in a nearby chair. Drizzt went over to comfort his friend, placing a supportive hand on his shoulder, and secretly shooting a questioning glance when the others turned away. "What is it, my friend," he whispered.
Bruenor sighed, but straightened and replied, "They have recovered and brought back the dwarven scouting party that we sent to check the tunnels. We are pretty sure, that them drow are responsible, but I want you to check."
Drizzt nodded and motioned for the dwarf king to show him the way. Catti-brie glanced at Inidil and they both hurried after the pair, curious as to what was going on. Through many winding tunnels they went, till the area they were in was only known to Bruenor. He lead them without hesitation to a small stone chamber with a large table in the center. Closing the door behind them, Bruenor motioned for two dwarves standing by the table to remove the sheet that covered it.
Underneath were four dwarves, in relatively good condition, considering there had been no contact with them for many days. Gently moving Inidil aside, Drizzt brushed by her and went to lean on the table, looking down at the dwarves. He turned to Bruenor, "They have not been hampered with, correct?" he asked.
"Bruenor shook his head and replied, "Nothings been removed from the bodies, if that's what ye mean. Just the blood's been cleaned away."
Drizzt nodded and continued his inspection. He brushed aside every dwarf's long beard to look under their necks for any fine cuts to the throat. Finding the slashing curves on only two, he scoured the other two's bodies, searching for a telltale crossbow dart that his people usually used. He found it on one, but not the other. Curious as to how this last dwarf had met his demise, he continued searching, but found nothing. Stripping the dwarf of his mail and numerous shirts down to the bare chest, he discovered what he had been looking for. One his chest were numerous, and deep, punctures that were no more than an inch apart. Nodding his confirmation, he turned back to the dwarf king and his two friends and solemnly nodded, his gaze to the floor. He told the group that he wished to search the tunnels himself to see if he could find any clues as to why the drow were coming again. Catti-brie and Inidil immediately volunteered to accompany him. For a long while, no one made a sound, then Bruenor, as he had said many times before the drow came the last time, said, "Let the damned drow come!"
She laid upon the altar, naked, her long hair fanned outwards. She was the picture of beauty, with hair the color of glittering gold and eyes the color of the sky after rain.
Darthiir. Faerie. Surface Elf.
Above her hovered a unique tool. A curved dagger encrusted with amethyst and sapphire. The crossguard was circled with diamonds that, when thrust into an enemies' chest, would grasp the heart and crush it. The maiden gaped at its' intricate beauty; but, for all its' beauty, it would be her death.
Matron Kirali approached a brazier that was to the side and tossed a small piece of sulfur into it. The flames leapt up high and danced merrily. Four high priestesses, fanned out along the dais, threw their hands into the air and began to circle, chanting all the while. The males of the house, seeing the cue, began to direct the house in a song of praise to Lolth. When both the song and chant reached their climax, the flames of the brazier leapt up again in an even greater inferno. Through the flames, a figure could be seen, growing more detailed with each passing second. The flames died down abruptly and the newly appeared denizen stood among the coals and ashes. The yochol, a handmaiden of Lolth, began hovering a few inches above the brazier, as if it did not wish to dirty its' feet. It had no visible mouth, nose, or even ears, for that matter. Only its pupil-less eyes were able to be seen, knowledge clearly etched in the murky, white orbs. All gazed up at the handmaiden in awe. Matron Kirali wore a proud, smug expression and smirked as she said, "Greetings, handmaiden."
The handmaiden glared in anger at the insolent drow, "Why do you summon me?" it commanded in its watery tone.
"As both you and Lolth know," Kirali began, "My House is to travel to Mithril Hall to retrieve something lost to us." Crying out so all could hear, she finished, "We wish for and need Lolth's blessing if we are to succeed!" The house went up in a rowdy cheer, supporting their Matron Mother. Kirali silenced them with an upraised hand, not bothering to turn around; not daring to tear her gaze from the yochlol.
The yochlol responded telepathically, "You do remember House Baenre, do you not?" Kirali snorted; how could you not? Triel made sure you did not forget House Baenre! "They, also, lead a raid to Mithril Hall, yet failed! Do you wish your House to be condemned to such a fate?"
Not wanting her dignity to be defeated, Matron Kirali replied aloud, "All the more reason to ask for Lolth's favor. Baenre did not have it; she was doomed to fail from the beginning!" The entire house cheered in response to the bold declaration.
The yochol looked from the sacrifice, to the gathered House, then back to Kirali. "Please, continue…" it insisted.
Matron Kirali nodded to Nulliira, who signaled for the males to lead the house in yet another song, this one a song of giving. The many voices rose together in unison and harmony. Kirali and the four high priestesses joined together in a deep and powerful mantra. Matron Kirali grasped the tool hovering above the Darthiir as both hymn and chant rose to a crescendo. The flames of the brazier, although they had gone out long ago, abruptly rose again in an even greater inferno. Matron Kirali plunged the wicked dagger into the faerie's chest. The maiden spasmed in pain as the tool grasped her heart. Kirali yanked the dagger out and held the still-beating heart above the flames.
The maiden died watching her heart burn to ashes.
Inidil looked up from her pack to see Drizzt and Catti-brie waiting at her doorway. She had been packing early for their trip to the deep tunnels of Mithril Hall and planned to turn in early. But now, seeing Drizzt in the doorway with his pack slung over his shoulder and his scimitars buckled onto his slender hips, she now thought otherwise. "I had thought we were to be leaving tomorrow morning," she questioned. "Is there a problem?"
Drizzt looked to Catti-brie, who returned his gaze, and they both laughed. "No," Catti-brie chuckled. "There is no trouble, but Bruenor is in such a bluster we decided to leave a little earlier than planned."
Smiling, Inidil grabbed her belt, from which hung her scimitars, off her bed. Buckling them to her hips, she asked, "Where exactly are we going? I don't remember being told where in the tunnels this area was." Inidil knew Mithril Hall was large, but they were going out to the surrounding tunnels. Out there, even one with such prowess as Drizzt could easily get lost.
Grimly, Drizzt replied, "Where a group of dwarves were once killed before is where we will start. We will work our way from there. Besides, we will have Guen by our side."
While making their way out of her chamber, Inidil noticed a magnificent bow slung across Catti-brie's shoulder. "That bow," she faltered. "That bow is beautiful! I have never seen such workmanship!"
Catti-brie glanced over her shoulder at the bow as if she hardly knew it was there. "Oh," she agreed, "you mean this?" Removing it from her shoulder, she held it out to Inidil. "Taulmaril the Heartseeker; wielded by Anariel of the Elves; crafted by the dwarves of Mithril Hall long ago."
Inidil ran her hand over the smooth wood of the long bow and over the cushioning padding of the handhold. "It is beautiful," she whispered. Handing it back, the trio continued on their way to the East Gate. On their way, they ran into Wulfgar. He had a pack thrown over his broad shoulders and Aegis-fang settled comfortably in his hands. "There you are!" he called as a greeting when he spied them coming around the bend. "I am coming with you!" He puffed out his chest proudly.
Drizzt immediately turned to Catti-brie in concern. The last time they had ventured out into the tunnels of Mithril Hall, they had come across a group of dark elves. During the battle, one of the high priestesses, consequently Drizzt's own sister, Vierna, had summoned a yochol. The monster had attacked Wulfgar and had then threatened Catti-brie. His love for her strong, he had sacrificed himself so she might live by bringing the ceiling down upon his own head and that of the yochol's. All had thought the young barbarian lost when they had recovered only Aegis-fang. In reality, though, Wulfgar had been captured by Lolth, then given to Errtu, a vicious demon balor, and held imprisoned until Drizzt and Catti-brie saved him. Catti-brie paled and stuttered as she tried to speak. Inidil also glanced at the young woman in concern and, as Drizzt pulled Wulfgar aside, she asked if she was alright.
"I am fine," Catti-brie replied. "There are merely several memories held still in the deep tunnels of Mithril Hall that I do not care to recall." Seeing Inidil's questioning stare, she sighed and said dolefully, "Wulfgar was almost lost to me when the drow last came. I don't care to repeat the emptiness that we all felt at the time." As the two women turned back, Wulfgar was turning away. Catti-brie let out a sigh of relief.
"I told him that it would be best if he did not come," Drizzt stated softly. Catti-brie swallowed hard and nodded. The trio continued there trek down to the East Gate.
Kisairi walked along the streets and avenues of Menzoberranzan silently, her piwafwi trailing behind her. The purple and red stitchings marked her as one of the few hundred drow nobles in the city. Also important, the four-headed snake whip resting on her hip claimed her as a high priestess. Beside it were belted a long sword and a kukri; while she was required to learn and practice magic in her studies, she was more handled with weapons. Many goblins and kobolds shoved each other just to get out of her path as she continued to walk along, hardly paying any notice to the lowly creatures this section of the city inhabited. She glanced at Narbondel, the drow's only time clock, and saw she had only two hours to finish what she had planned and return to her house in time for the family gathering her mother had called. As she spied Tier Breche, she quickened her pace.
Coming upon her destination, she leaned against a nearby wall and awaited her companion, who she had told to meet here at the appointed time. It was not even a few minutes before she spied him, coming forward while continuously looking over his shoulder as if looking for someone that may be watching him. She smiled and recited a common drow proverb, "Nindyn vel'uss kyorl nind ratha thalra elghinn dal lil alust."
The male drow chuckled, strode forward, and bowed briskly. His amber eyes faded to a glowing red as he adjusted to infravision to be able to see in the bright glare surrounding the Academy. His lustrous white hair was long, thick, and flowing; tied backing a ponytail that hung to the middle of his back. He was tall for a drow, measuring about six foot five, but so was Kisairi, and she found that she did not have to look straight up like most to be able to see his handsome features. And indeed, he was handsome, even more so when he smiled, which he did now. The sword and long knife looked comfortable belted on his slender hips. The two considered themselves friends, if drow could become friends. However, no one could know this, for their Houses were rivals, constantly at war.
He smiled, his white teeth gleaming, as he straightened. Pointedly placing his gaze on Kisairi's hands, which were, even now, resting on the hilts of her blades, he said knowingly, "You seem to be in a hurry. Is there somewhere you would rather be?"
Kisairi winced, yet laughed joyously. "I am needed and expected back at my House in two hours. No offense was intended Tos'un Vrammyr, Weapon Master of House Vrammyr," she replied smartly, winking and bowing low. Tos'un merely smirked and led her towards the plain, pyramid-shaped, building. Inside were many rooms, including classrooms and sparring rooms for students. Even now, many young drow were in them, studying war strategies and parrying maneuvers. Rushing past them, Tos'un and Kisairi came to a large sparring chamber with several weapon racks and walls loaded with weapons of all types. Tos'un pivoted as he reached the center of the room and faced Kisairi.
"Seeing as how you must be at your House in so short a time, I suppose we should finish this quickly." Tos'un shifted his footing and drew his weapons. "Come, Kisa! Come to me and feel the cold kiss of my blades!"
Kisairi smiled at the nickname her friend had given her and unsheathed her blades, steadily circling. Suddenly, Tos'un shot forward, sword outstretched- then abruptly stopped, his face inches from hers. In the span of a few seconds, Kisa rolled to the right, slashing out at the back of Tos'un's leg with her kukri. Tos'un back-flipped over the kukri and arced his sword over Kisa's vulnerable head while in midair. She, in turn, parried the cunning maneuver and spun to face him, as he had landed behind her as she slid forward. She parried his dagger, which was searching for an opening, and thrust her sword at Tos'un's abdomen. On and on they drilled, the minutes added together to form an hour. Both the drow breathed deeply and heavily, their chests heaving in and out. Sweat gleamed on the ebony skin of their brows. Finally, Tos'un blocked a wicked attempt to cut his sword arm, spun to the left, and slashed at an opening at Kisa's hip. At the touch of the razor sharp edge biting into her belt, she cried, 'Touch!', sheathed her sword, and, flipping it high in the air to catch it again by the hilt, presented Tos'un with her kukri. The male sheathed his own blades, accepted the kukri, and bowed low. When he straightened, Kisairi had already crossed the chamber and was at the moment splashing cool water on her ebony face. Silently coming up behind her, he returned the kukri to her and drank deeply from the barrel. He wiped the droplets of water that were still clinging to his face with the back of his hand and said, "You did very well today. We still have about an hour before you must begin to make your way back to your House." In truth, Kisa had almost and hour and a half, but Tos'un was right; it would be better to leave and get there a half hour early than to arrive on time. To drow, being on time was like being late, but modestly. Still, she turned to face him, nodded, but then made her way to a door in the corner. In Menzoberranzan, drow custom called for the greatest weapon master of them all to reside in Melee-Magthere and teach and supervise over all students and Masters. Since the last Weapon Master, Zak'nafein, was sacrificed by his Matron Mother to Lolth, no one had gone into the room, for it was locked, and no magical force or ultimate strength could open the door. However, Kisairi placed her hand upon the doorknob, turned it, and pushed her full weight upon it, which was not much. Tos'un, who personally thought it hopeless, nevertheless helped Kisa by also pushing on the door. For several moments they both struggled with the door, grunting with the effort, neither gaining leeway, until, finally, the door swung ajar. Both drow looked to each other in amazement. Kisairi smiled wide and made her way into the room.
There was a shabby bed in the far corner and the hilt of a dagger, the black sapphire in the pommel giving it away, could be seen poking through the mattress. On the nightstand to the side of the bed, lay a book with a red leather cover and runes, but not magical, running down the spine. The table in the center of the room was of rich cherry wood and gleamed still with the expensive finish. It had two chairs and the setting of two plates. In the corner opposite the bed was a weapon rack, equipped with a spear, one scimitar, two swords, two daggers, and two kukris. The light from the main chamber reflected off an object at the foot of the bed, giving off a silvery light. Kisa headed towards it.
Tos'un came up behind Kisairi and glanced about the small bedchamber. It seemed uninteresting, but he knew it contained much history and many mysteries about the famed Zak'nafein Do'Urden and the many before him. He saw Kisa head towards the bed and quickly followed her. Kisa crouched as she came upon the gleaming object and came to see that it was two swords, one with aquamarines dripping down the hilt, the other with blood red rubies, hooked onto an ornate leather belt with an adamantine buckle. Kisairi moved to pick up the swords, but Tos'un stayed her hand. "No, let me. They may be enspelled." He slowly picked up the swords by the belt and held them up for Kisairi to see. She did a quick evaluation of the two blades, and then nodded to the male. He made to draw one of the blades, but Kisa grabbed his wrist. Glancing up, Tos'un smiled and said, "I am merely a male, correct?" Laughing as Kisa tried to compose herself, he placed his hand upon the hilt of one of the swords.
"And, you are?" sounded a voice behind them.
Both Kisairi and Tos'un turned quickly to find a strange drow male standing behind them, pointing. Pointing was considered particularly rude to dark elves, and many a female may have killed the insolent male where he stood, but Kisa ignored the obviously purposeful slip up and studied the male. He reminded her of Tos'un, could have even been his brother. His long hair was tied back and his teeth were made for smiling, which he did at the moment and his eyes were a strange pale ale color. He was extremely handsome and was slightly taller than Kisairi, yet shorter than Tos'un, though most were. Tos'un immediately stepped in front of Kisairi protectively, proudly puffing out his chest. Kisairi rolled her eyes as he resiliently said, "I am Tos'un Vrammyr, Weapon Master of Hous-"
The eccentric male waved his hand and walked briskly by Tos'un, "Yes, yes, I have heard that kind of revel gloating before. It would be safe to assume that you are not the only one in this hellhole that proclaims his strength so boldly. The question is…" the male turned back to look up at Tos'un. Although he was shorter, Tos'un seemed to shrink before his unrelenting gaze. "Do you have the strength to be able to so daringly declare such?" Seeing that Tos'un was not going to respond, the male smirked and turned to Kisairi. "Well, and who is this?" he inquired. Kisairi held her head a little higher and did not respond. Instead of ignoring her defiant manner, the male grasped her hand in his and lifted it to his lips. He looked her straight in the eye as he planted his soft lips on it, a small smile unevident with his mouth against her hand. After an extended period of time, Kisa jerked her hand back and scoffed at the bold male. He merely smiled and stepped back.
"Who are you?" she asked only.
He smiled wider and said, "That is unimportant. What of you? Your arrogant friend here did not get around to your title."
Kisairi sneered and replied, "As for my name, I am called Kisairi. My title will remain a mystery to you, however. Now, tell me how and why you came to be here," she demanded.
Again, the male waved his hand in the air to cut her off, shaking his head all the while. "Again, that is trivial. I have come to speak with you both, that is all you need to know." His face clouded over and his expression became grave. "I offer you one word of advice: Do not follow the path that your family has set before your feet. You can turn around and go back the way you came, or you may even make your own path to follow. What your family plans will lead to many disastrous ends; do not follow the path they make, for it is their own, not yours. You have your own, but it is up to you to pave it. I have a suggestion," he added with a smile. "You know that there is a drow that, long ago, made his own path? Let us say, that that path lead him out of the city; out of the hellish place!" With that, the male turned on his heel and left the room, and, ultimately, the Plane.
For a long moment, neither Kisa nor Tos'un spoke. Then Tos'un looked down at the sword that he still held in his hand, shrugged, and motioned for Kisairi to hand him the one she also possessed. He looked the blade up and down, taking in every detail. While he examined it, Kisairi questioned him repeatedly. "What do you suppose he meant when he said 'What your family plans will lead to many disastrous ends'?" Pacing about the chamber, she didn't even bother to hear his reply. "Maybe he means that we will not succeed in taking back my-"
Tos'un turned on her sharply then, and shoved the sword back into her hands. He sheathed the other and moved to put the old one in a nearby weapon rack. "I do not know," he whispered, his tone on the edge of unrestrained anger.
Kisairi sheathed her new blade and peered at him, confused by his annoyance. "And what, may I ask, is up your ass?
Tos'un's eyes widened. "I-I," he faltered, then took a deep breath, choosing to ignore the comment.
Kisairi snickered and added sarcastically, "Have you considered what the bol said?"
Tos'un chuckled and shook his head. "Exactly; it's ridiculous-absurd! Leave Menzoberranzan? Leave our people? Why, who would do such a thing, lest they be mad?
Kisairi muttered something under her breath. Tos'un, unable to hear, cocked his head. "I said, we could!" she screeched. "There is nothing for me here, as there is nothing for you!"
Laughing, Tos'un replied, "Let me correct that: I have nothing to live for. You could grow to be a high priestess, a Master, a Matron Mother! I am the only one in this room that should even be thinking about leaving; and I'm not!"
Kisairi scowled, and then, seeing Tos'un's amused smile, turned on her heel and left him to his laughter.
"Three quick taps, pause, then four more," the dwarf had said. Drizzt remembered it clearly, as if they were still standing before the East Gate, hearing it thud close behind them. As if Catti-brie had just knocked an arrow on Taulmaril, Inidil had drawn her scimitars, and he himself had summoned Guenhwyvar. But that was many days ago. Shaking the thought from his head, he regarded Inidil's response.
Guenhwyvar has seen something? She asked with her fingers.
Yes, Guen had seen something, Drizzt thought Turning to regard Catti-brie, he smiled and winked, trying to lighten up the mood. Seeing no success at the frown on her face, he turned back to regard Inidil. Yes, she has, he replied.
Catti-brie, although unhappy at the prospect of more drow coming, watched in awe at the way that the two drow's fingers danced as they planned their apparent upcoming encounter. Yet, with what exactly, they did not yet know, though they all had an idea.
Once we come upon the mouth of the chamber, I'll send Guen to roll out along the right wall, Drizzt fingers flashed. After she enters, Catti-brie will send off a volley with Heartseeker. You and I will enter then and finish off anything left.
Agreed, Inidil replied. But what of Guen after her entrance? her fingers asked.
Drizzt smirked and responded, She'll find a way in.
With that, Guenhwyvar silently approached the mouth of the chamber. She looked back to her master, waiting for the signal. When Catti-brie had knocked her bow and Inidil had drawn her blades, Drizzt nodded. Guen melted into the shadows as if she were darkness itself, padding silently into the chamber. She had reached the center of the chamber when she was something move out of the corner of her eye. Guen broke into a silent sprint and leaped into the air, her powerful, muscled legs propelling her across the length of the room. A flash of silver flew just inches past her head and then inches past their target. Catti-brie knocked another arrow as Drizzt and Inidil rushed in, scimitars drawn and at the ready. As Drizzt approached the lone figure, however, he noted that whatever it was, it was too short to be a drow.
Huddled against the wall, was a dwarf, his axe held high over his head as he attempted to get a swing in at the panther before he was taken down. Guen easily dodged the wild blow and Drizzt caught the axe in a X parry. Upon seeing the drow, the dwarf cried out in rage and brought his axe back in another attempt, this timed aimed at Drizzt. At that moment, Catti-brie joined them, and, upon seeing Bruenor's daughter, stayed his hand and began speaking so fast, that all words that poured from his mouth were lost on Drizzt's and Catti-brie's ears. Drizzt raised his hand in a gesture of silence and interrupted. "Good dwarf," he began, bowing low. "Please, slow your speech so as we might be of some assistance.
And, although the dwarf had strived to speak in a measured way, all of what he said still made no sense to the trio. "There were a dozen o' them! All black as the cat!" he exclaimed, gesturing towards Guenhwyvar. "Me and me party tried to scare 'em off, but they beat us back. Killed all 'o me kin. Only me they left alive. 'Let the thing run back in terror to the others!' they said. 'Let them tremble in the walls of their city in the fear of our coming!"
Piecing together the string of words, Drizzt was able to come to some understanding of what happened to the dwarven party. "I am guessing that you and your party met some resistance from the drow, who perhaps ambushed you in the deep tunnels?"
"Damn right they did! Ambush? Bah!" the stocky dwarf fumed. "The cowards slew us while we slept! Only me and four other realized what was happenin'!" he roared.
"Where did you last see them?" Inidil asked, jumping in on the conversation. "And how many do you imagine there are? She finished excitedly.
The dwarf pointed towards a small opening at the back of the chamber. "Down there, 'bout a good half a day's jog form here" Guen needed no other signal. She began trotting obediently towards the opening the dwarf had come through. Catti-brie quickly followed. The dwarf shook his head in amazement and continued. "As to how many there are, I'd reckon 'bout six," he finished.
Drizzt nodded, "Thank you, good dwarf. You have aided us in our search greatly. See your way back to Mithril Hall in safety," Drizzt assured him, while backing up slowly towards the opening.
"Good luck in your hunt, you crazy elf! The dwarf replied, hurrying him off.
Drizzt smirked, bowed, and them pivoted on a sprint, eager to catch up with Inidil and the others. The trio jogged down the dark tunnels at a steady pace, eager to meet up with the mysterious drow.
Matron Kirali's hand clutched the arms of her throne tightly, her knuckles white with the effort. The air in the chamber literally crackled with tension, for all knew that the Matron Mother was furious. Kirali had asked for the family to meet that evening at exactly two hours after the peak of Narbondel. The entire House, or at least the nobles, had arrived about a half hour early, and, honestly, Matron Kirali did not expect them to come that early. Nevertheless, she had been kept waiting for her insolent daughter for almost thirty minutes, and she was not happy. Yes, she was not exactly late, but neither was she on time.
Nulliira stood to Kirali's left, Ilivarra at the right. As all agreed, Ilivarra was by far the most beautiful-second to Kisairi. Her ebony skin was smooth about her face for all her two centuries of life. Her sparkling blue eyes, which usually shone with youth, were now dulled and glazy. She had been in a right state ever since…
Although all the House were followers of Lolth, none loved spiders more than Talice, not even Kirali. At all times, Talice wore a black sapphire ring, banded in dark silver. Whenever it pleased her to do so, she could call upon the extremely poisonous spider that dwelled within-a jilorbb.
Kneeling on the cold, damp floor in front of Matron Kirali were three males; two in the prime of there age, one still a child in the eyes of the drow. One of the males, tall and muscular with shoulder length hair, rose to full height and bent down to rub at his bruised knees. Talice and Nulliira glared at the impudent male, while Kirali looked slightly bored and unsurprised and Ilivarra tried to hold back her laughter. The male merely smiled, shrugged, and said, "Kneeling on hard stone all day makes your knees hurt, why don't you try it?"
In response to the bold declaration, Talice revealed her snake-whip which rested comfortably on her hip. The four heads immediately rose and stared at the male, hissing and weaving in and out of one another. Every few moment, one would strike forward, but the male remained perfectly calm, knowing the priestess could do nothing. As if Kirali had read his thoughts, which she probably had, he thought, the Matron waved a hand at Talice in an apparent halt of the coming beating and stepped down off of the dais. Talice whimpered in disappointment and stepped back.
Kirali continued to come forward until she came to a stop in front of the disobedient male. With a scowl on her striking features, she glared up at him. "Ryld, do you really want what you know is to come if you don't kneel?"
Ryld smirked and slowly began his descent back to the floor. Apparently, he was not quick enough, for at that moment, Kirali backed her command with a magical enchantment. "Harl'il'cik!" she screeched. Ryld's knees slammed home on the stone floor, yet he only grimaced to any pain he might have felt.
The other male, still kneeling next to him, chuckled in amusement. Ryld, the foolish weapon master, called upon times such as this, when Kirali was already mad enough to kill, to become extremely obnoxious, always to the same end. The older wizard knew better, and also knew his place.
Nulliira, seeing the male shaking his head and laughing, glared. "If you find it so amusing, Pharaun, would you care to join him? Jivvin?" she asked.
Pharaun smirked, glad to finally express his anger at being called here when he had much to get done. "My dear sister, you cannot be serious that you truly wish to be here?" the wizard replied.
Pharaun held back his laughter as his sister's face flushed in anger. I know her too well he thought.
Silent the entire time, the youngest male bowed his head an stared at the floor, as he had been instructed to do since he was old enough to walk. Talice strode forward to stand over him, placing her hand upon his head an muttering, "Doer ulu ussa". The black sapphire on her ring glowed and a inky black spider with jade green markings scuttled across the male's stark white hair, down his neck towards his back. He felt stiff beneath Talice's hand and she began to stroke his hair. "Relax, my dear brother," she cooed. "It will not hurt you unless I tell it to." She cackled in delight as the male began to tremble. Pharaun sighed, sympathizing for his poor brother. He had once been in that position.
Again the wizard sighed. "Talice, leave poor Tsabrak alone," he interjected. "He has done nothing wrong. Unlike others here," he finished, looking pointedly towards Ryld, who smiled pleasantly.
Talice, however, merely tossed her head back and laughed, her long hair cascading down her back. Her head snapped forward and she smirked. "Precisely," she purred.
"Enough!" Matron Kirali screamed, finally tired of her children's antics. Talice frowned and returned to the dais; to her place at her mother's side. All the room was silent, and it was many minutes before anyone made a sound, and even then it was merely the guard at the door, come to announce Kisairi's arrival. "I present Kisairi Mlezziir, priestess of Lolth," he proclaimed, stepping to the side to allow room for her to come in.
As the young female strode into the chamber, Tsabrak inhaled sharply, always amazed by his sister's beauty. Her long, shapely legs carried her lithely across the chamber, her hips swaying femininely from side to side. Her robes, black and a shade of deep purple with red stitching, shimmered in the faint light. Her thick, flowing, white hair was lengthy, reaching almost to her waist, and was braided in an intricate, yet elusive pattern. Her eyes, an unusual, yet known amber hue, gleamed in anticipation and anxiousness.
Ryld was extremely proud of his strong sister. He had trained her in the way of the sword and she had progressed quickly. Kisa was now as good, maybe even better than the weapon master. It was then that he noticed the new sword belted on Kisairi's hip. It did not look drow made and he anticipated about learning more about the exotic weapon-and where it had come from.
And how Kisairi had come across it.
Pharaun also took pride in the girl. At an extremely young age, Kisairi had had a gift for magic. She had found magic easy as she had weaponry, and the deadly combination left her as one of the most powerful priestesses in Menzoberranzan. She was expected to become a Master at Arach-Tinilith; maybe even the first female to teach at Sorcere.
Kisairi stopped about five feet from Matron Kirali and stood silently, waiting for the woman to bombard her with insults and threats, which she thought useless. However, Kirali had different plans. She knew the amusement Kisairi took from her anger, and she was not about to give her that satisfaction. Waving her hand at a plush-velvet, wine red chair beside Ilivarra's, she snapped, slightly irritated that her impertinent daughter had not bothered to ask for her forgiveness for being late, "Have a seat, Kisairi".
Talice's jaw dropped and she opened her mouth to argue, but quickly recovered as Kisairi brushed past her to sit to the far left of Kirali, in no way trying to even pretend to be interested in what was being said.
Matron Kirali cleared her throat, "As you know, we are to find the…thing…we have lost only as a House, but House Vrammyr has requested that they accompany us to the Surface. I plan to except."
Kisairi, suddenly interested, grinned in delight. Finally, the Houses would stop their pathetic quarrel. Tos'un, she knew, would be pleased. However, as Kirali smirked evilly, Kisairi frowned.
"This will be a perfect opportunity," she continued. "A perfect chance to deceive them when they least expect it!"
Talice cackled in delight and responded, "We'll kill the priestesses and maybe have a little fun with the males! Jivvin-quui'elghin!"
Matron Kirali looked to her daughter in satisfaction. She would not be surprised if Talice either killed her elder sisters for the throne or branched off from the family and started her own. If she did create a new House, she would prove to be either a valuable ally or a tough rival to Nulliira.
Kisairi, meanwhile, was silently brooding over what to do with this new threat to her and Tos'un's friendship. Although at this moment she was still angry with him over what had happened at Melee-Magthere, she still cared for her friend.
Thankfully, Ilivarra asked to be excused so she might check on her students at Arach-Tinilith, and the family was dismissed. Kisairi hurriedly made her way out of the chamber and back to Melee-Magthere, gripping the hilt of her new sword tightly and ignoring the shouts of Ryld and Pharaun.
Tos'un stared blankly at Kisairi, his mouth set in a grim line. Kisa's eyes glittered with tears as she told him the news.
"How ironic it is that our Houses are so alike, yet are rivals?" he replied. "My House plans the same strategy against yours. We have the same plot in mind," he mused.
"How can you take this so lightly!" Kisa questioned irritably.
"Easily," he replied. "It is daily life in Menzoberranzan. It should not be unexpected; especially when our Houses are rivals!"
Kisairi began to pace the room. "Yes, you speak the truth, but the question is, what are we to do about it?"
Tos'un grasped the frantic girl's shoulder and swung her about to face him. They locked eyes and his smile warmed Kisairi's heart. "Please, calm down," he whispered. "We can get much more accomplished when you are relaxed. Besides," he added. " I hate to see you like this."
Kisairi looked into his warm amber eyes and immediately felt relieved. At least she had one person in which she could find comfort. Suddenly, she flung her arms about him and rested her head upon his shoulder. Tos'un tensed, but then relaxed, his strong arms enveloping her in a tight embrace. A golden warmth spread throughout her body. She looked up, suddenly realizing what she had done, and tried to back away, but Tos'un's hand, splayed across her back, prevented her from escaping. He looked down at her, words on his lips that he could not speak, smiling as he realized that he did not have to keep his secret any longer. His gaze made Kisairi shiver, and it was then that she realized that his face was inches from hers.
His lips were soft; his kiss tender. Kisairi felt as if she were on air, floating high above the clouds. Tos'un broke away and stroked her cheek. Kisa pulled closer and tucked her head under his chin, sighing in contentment. "How are we supposed to stop this? We are only two; two against almost three thousand, five priestesses, and two Matron Mothers!" she cried. Sighing, she whispered, "Yet we must face this."
Tos'un pondered for a moment, resting his chin on top of Kisairi's head. There really seemed to be no way out of it. They would have to play along and hope everything turned out well. "Do you have any ideas?" he asked lightly.
Kisairi's eyes lit up with joy at discovery. "You disagreed with this before, but you may find it a brilliant idea now," she insisted. "Do you remember when we found our swords? Do you recall that strange drow? He told us to break off from the raid!"
Tos'un blinked. What she said could work. They could live on the Surface; but to what end? They would be shunned, even hunted and slaughtered by the surface-dwellers. They would lose everything-magic, piwafwi, levitation, even their weapons would lose their enchantments. What kind of life was that? How would they survive? Nevertheless, he saw no other way. It was then he remembered something else the drow had said.
"What about Drizzt?" he inquired.
However, Kisairi had another idea. "No, my sister! She left for the Surface weeks ago! We may be able to find her!" Kisairi cried, bursting with excitement.
It was then they heard voices; male voices. Tos'un's brother, Kyri'in, Ryld, and Pharaun entered the chamber, talking and laughing loudly. When they noticed the two, they froze. Ryld, obviously drunk, awkwardly drew his sword and waved it at them in a foolish attempt to point. "What are you all doin' here?" he asked, his speech slurred with alcohol.
Pharaun laughed and pushed Ryld to the floor, taking the sword from his hands. "Sit," he said laughing, "before you hurt yourself."
Kyri'in strode toward Kisairi and placed his hands on her hips. He leaned in close and whispered, "Good evening, lovely one." His breath warmed her cheek. "And what, may I ask, are you doing here all alone?"
Kisairi scoffed at his obvious attraction and pulled away. Nodding her head towards Tos'un, she replied coolly, "I did not think I was alone."
Kyri'in waved a hand at Tos'un, as if he was nothing of import. "That is not adequate company for one such as yourself. Kisa, would you like to join me in our own rendezvous?" he asked, holding out his hand.
Kisairi frowned sternly. "Kyri'in, do not call me Kisa. Also, I think I am most comfortable where I am, thank you." She turned on her heel and bent to fix her boot, not wanting to make eye contact with Kyri'in, for, to her surprise, she felt as if she wished to go with him.
Kyri'in came up behind her and crouched so he might speak to her face to face. Smiling, he replied, "And do not call me Kyri'in." Stroking her cheek, he whispered, "I insist that you call me Kyri." Pausing, he added, "Especially when we are alone."
Kisairi looked up sharply, surprised etched on her face. Frowning, she straightened and brushed past Kyri'in and approached Tos'un, Pharaun, and Ryld, who remained on the floor. Pharaun beamed and began to speak with his sister, making sure Ryld did not move. "Why are you here?" Kisa asked, in truth curious as to why they had come. But Pharaun shrugged, not really having a reason. Kyri'in scowled and hurried to catch up with Kisairi. He grabbed her shoulder from behind and forced her into a small room adjacent from the pitch which housed weapon pads for practice. Kisairi opened her mouth to protest, but the look on Kyri'in's face kept her silent. Instead of his usual cocky expression, he looked nervous, almost as if he did not wish to be facing Kisairi. He was ringing his hands and sweat was clearly visible, glistening on his brow.
Kisairi cocked her head and her face screwed up into a questioning expression. Kyri'in sighed and placed his hands on the girl's shoulders. "Would you…like to come to my House for an evening dinner? Nothing special…I just wish to get to know you a little better."
Kisairi, surprised by his polite invitation when he was usually a rash and sexual man, gaped at him, unable to respond. Kyri'in, unfortunately, took this as a refusal and left the small room. Kisairi quickly followed, and saw that Kyri'in had already joined the others. She hurried to keep up and stepped in front of him, blocking his path. Kyri'in looked down at her in surprise, then beamed as he realized what she meant by it all. He enveloped her in a firm squeeze and the others glanced at the two, especially Tos'un. Kyri'in, noticing the stares, whispered in Kisairi's ear. "Meet me in front of House Vrammyr. I will greet you there. Also, do not mind the guards…I will keep them off."
He backed away and motioned for Ryld and Pharaun to follow. Ryld, still slightly lumbering about, and Kyri'in, laughing, picked him up and assisted him. They left the room, and Pharaun, still there, hesitated to follow. He strode forward to stand before Kisairi and smirked. "Caution my sister! Yet I do not doubt that he would enjoy your company more in his bed than in a grave," he added with a small smile. However, the jealous tone evident in his voice was not lost on Kisairi and she knew that the smile was a cover up. Nevertheless, she offered a courteous reply in response and bid him farewell graciously.
Tos'un turned to Kisairi immediately after Pharaun left for an explanation. Kisairi, however, had already begun to cross the chamber. Tos'un hurried to keep up and, Kisairi seeing his quizzical appearance, laughed and said, "I agreed to meet him this evening for an enjoyable dinner. However, I will then leave him to come to you."
Tos'un's eyes bulged and he stammered, "C-come to me?"
Kisa's eyes glittered with laughter. "Yes, but not for the reason both you and him think!"
Tos'un chuckled and wrapped his arm around her slender waist, glad his feelings were finally out in the open.
Drizzt, Inidil, and Cattie-brie, along with Guenhwyvar, made their way to the throne room. The trio had returned to Mithril Hall after tracking any source of the drow party the dwarf had come across. They had returned unsuccessful however. They proceed to tell Bruenor of their failure, but could not find the stubborn dwarf king. Every person they came across could not discern where he was. So the group searched through the many tunnels and hallways of the city, when they came across Wulfgar, standing in the doorway of an unadorned, plain room, but for a bed and a small oak table and chairs. Inside was a young girl of maybe sixteen years. Drizzt approached the barbarian and the two talked for a few minutes. Drizzt turned back to the group and said, "It seems that this girl has been looking for, well, me. When she learned I was not here, but in the tunnels, she tried to follow us. Bruenor feared for her safety and forced her to stay above and wait for me to return. Apparently the information she carries is of great import, but she will pass it on to no one but me." Cattie-brie peered into the room for a look at the strange girl. She was tall, maybe five foot seven, and was slender about the waist. Her hair was long, down to the middle of her back, about the same length as Drizzt's, and as white as Vhaidra's, with black tips. Her face was smooth and supple, without a crease or fold upon it. Her hands were slim, but strong, giving her the appearance of a wizard, though Wulfgar said that she handled the bow with practiced ease. When she spied Drizzt, she scrambled to her feet and dashed towards the door. Wulfgar shoved Drizzt out of the way and blocked the girl from reaching him. The girl stopped, gazing up at the great man with tears gathering in her sparkling blue eyes. Her tiny fists slammed into his stomach as she sobbed openly. She finally tired, however, and slumped against Wulfgar's chest. Wulfgar gathered the young woman in his arms and stepped into the room. He placed her on the bed and covered her with a thick blanket. He joined the group out in the hall and sighed heavily, "I must admit, I've grown attached to the girl. She has a wild spirit, but really is good-natured. Unfortunately, she seems to have a mysterious and severe illness that the clerics have yet to cure her of." He looked Drizzt in the eye, "As you can see, she wishes mightily to see you."
Drizzt nodded and slipped into the room. He pulled the chair to the side of the bed and sat, waiting for the girl to awaken. He grasped her small hand in his and stroked it softly. Her breathing was slow and heavy and her breath rattled in her lungs, as if she were slightly sickening and struggling for air. Cattie-brie rolled her eyes and stalked to her room down the hall. Inidil glanced at Wulfgar in an unspoken question. He shrugged and hurried to catch up to Cattie-brie, knowing the girl was safe in Drizzt's hands. Inidil strolled into the room and stood beside Drizzt, placing her hand upon his shoulder in support, for she could see the hurt in his eyes; the sympathy for the lost spirit of the girl. They both watched the girl for any sign of her rousing, and their silent observation was rewarded when the girl's visage cast down in a scowl as she placed her arm under her and tried to push herself up. Drizzt placed a gentle hand upon her shoulder and eased her back down to the comfort of her bed. Her eyes burst open and as she looked upon Drizzt, her strength returned and she flung her arms about him and wept. Drizzt tensed and uneasily patted the girl's back. The girl at length let go of the drow and looked at Inidil in open disapproval. She looked to Drizzt and said, "Could you please excuse your companion? I wish to speak with you privately."
Her voice was like tiny silver bells ringing in unison. It gave those who heard it a feeling of peace and contentment. At first, Drizzt thought that the girl was an elf, her voice was so melodic, but when he noticed that her ears were not pointed, but very slightly, he dismissed that notion, thinking she might be a half-elf, and asked the young girl her name.
"Ussta kaas zhah Serri," she said in unaccented and perfected drow.
Drizzt and Inidil gasped audibly in unison at the flawless interpretation of their own language. It then occurred to Drizzt that the girl could be using a magical charm to speak in their language, but discharged that idea immediately. She was too young to be using such magic. The girl laughed as she looked upon the expressions on their faces. Drizzt glared, not liking the fact that this girl held important information and was laughing in his face. Also that she seemed too cunning and devious for her own good; and her age. He grabbed her wrists and looked her in the eyes, letting her see that he was not playing her games. She gulped and nodded in agreement at his unspoken challenge. Drizzt released her and asked, "You speak Common, that I know; also drow. You are also too smart for your own good-and age. Who are you? What are you?"
Again the girl laughed in his face. "Foolish male!" she spat. "I am older than I look! I also know more than you, and I think you wish to know exactly what it is I do know!"
As soon as Drizzt heard the girl utter the first sentence, he froze; his eyes flaring as his memories came hurtling back. Before the girl had finished her sentence, he had drawn his scimitars, one resting comfortably on her vulnerable throat. "You will tell me everything you know, who you really are, and what you really are before I slit your throat," He declared, his voice calm, but threatening to explode at any moment. "Why are you here? Why do you seek me?"
The girl scowled up at him and cleared her throat, "As for who I am, I have said. The name I am called is Serri. As for what I am, you should know," she sneered.
Drizzt had no idea what she was saying. He sheathed his scimitars and looked her over again for any clues. Her skin was smooth about her face and no sign of age was evident, other than her saying. She was slim and tall, almost as tall as him. Her hair was as long, maybe longer, than his and just as white, the black tips gleaming brilliantly in the candle light. It was then he realized that her skin was dark, darker than most humans, even those who lived and worked in the sun, but not as dark as his own. It looked about as dark as if a drow and a human's skin were to…
Drizzt backed up slowly, putting some distance between him and the half-breed. Inidil's brow furrowed in confusion, but she followed Drizzt until they were beside the door. Drizzt snatched Inidil's hand and swung her about and out into the hall. He then called for Wulfgar and drew his scimitars once again. Wulfgar and Cattie-brie sprinted down the hall and into the room, taking their places at Drizzt's side. Cattie-brie knocked an arrow on Taulmaril and Wulfgar took Aegis-fang from his back. Serri snickered and whispered, "Need your faithful friends by your side? Very well, I will allow it. Now, on to answering your last question. I am here, seeking you, to tell you of the grave danger you, and all those around you, are in. On my way to Waterdeep, my party and I were ambushed by an Ilythirri raiding party. The drow in the party were all of the same House. This is not right. As both you and I know, Surface raiding parties consist of the best drow fighters and clerics, not the members of a single House. I do not know which House it is, however, only what their crest looked like. Shall I draw it for you?" She asked. Drizzt did not respond, for he had one question ringing in his mind.
Why would a drow care to warn them of a raiding party?
Kisairi threw her piwafwi over her shoulders and buckled her sword-which she had decided to name Veresi Isto- and kukri to her hip. As she slipped on her boots, she did not hear the soft pad of footsteps outside of her door, nor the quiet whisper of air rushing by, as if disturbed. It was too late when she sensed a presence; her sixth sense telling her that she was not alone.
But it was only Ilivarra.
She looked stunning in a pure white, strapless, curve-hugging dress of knee length. Her hair was pulled back in a braided bun, stray strands trailing down her face and onyx beads studding the ends of each. A simple, yet elegant torque hung from her slender neck; A spider with a body made of black sapphire. A thin silver chain hung on her wrist accompanied by a silver banded ring studded with diamonds and diamond stud earrings.
Held in her hand two pieces of thin parchment; she clutched it tightly, as if she were nervous. "Greetings sister. May I ask where you are going?" she inquired.
Kisairi smiled. Her sister and her were very close. Ilivarra was extremely protective of her younger sister, a strange trait in Menzoberranzan. "You seem intrigued. Do you wish to accompany me?" Kisa smirked, "You also seem very dressed up; where, may I ask, are you going?"
Ilivarra held her head high and smoothed her dress. In a haughty voice, she replied, "I must look my best, and so must you, if we are to be visiting House Vrammyr."
Kisa's jaw dropped, but she quickly composed herself. How could she possibly know? "Ah, you may look gorgeous, but I, at least, will live to see the morn, for all I look unpresentable. And who, may I ask, said you were going?"
Ilivarra's blue eyes sparkled. Blue was a rare and extremely beautiful eye color to the drow. Many envied Ilivarra just for that. She came to stand before Kisairi and dangled the gold chain that she had held in her hand in front of her face. Hanging from the thin chain was an amulet of purest gold shaped into the liking of a phoenix carrying a bouquet of irises. The eyes of the bird were blood red rubies so dark, they looked almost black and runes were engraved onto the back of the pendent that Kisairi could not recognize. Ilivarra smiled and her deft hand clasped it about her neck. "I know what you plan to do. If you are to live on the Surface, you will need recourse to your magic and weapons. It is not like the Windwalker, but it has its own abilities. It will allow you to perform only ten spells a day and your weapons will retain half of their previous strength, as will all of your other magically enhanced items." She stripped herself of the white dress and the jewelry, holding it out to Kisa. "You will need to look your best."
Kisairi began to ask what she was to do with her armor, weapons, and pack when Ilivarra produced a black velvet pouch with a silver drawstring. She took Kisairi's belt, on which hung her sword and kukri, along with various throwing daggers, and moved to place it in the pouch. Kisairi looked on in amazement as the nearer her weapons came to the pouch, the smaller they became, until finally, they were small enough to fit in the pouch with room to spare. One by one, Ilivarra took Kisairi's things and placed them into the small pouch. She then stood nonchalantly in front of her sister and waited for her to respond.
Kisairi stared at her in disbelief. To give over such power to her sister! It was unheard of! Nevertheless, she took the dress and quickly dressed, clasping the jewelry to her wrist and ears, tucking the spider pendent in the pouch. "Go quickly," Ilivarra whispered. "Mother will send Ryld and Pharaun as soon as she realizes that you have gone. You have little time. Go straight to House Vrammyr, retrieve Tos'un, and Kyri'in if you wish, and go straight to the Surface." She kissed her sister atop the head. "Pharaun will miss you," she added. Kisairi nodded.
"Thank you for all that you have done sister. I-"
"This in no time for idle chatting!" she hissed in response. "Take your things and leave this place!"
Kisairi nodded and gathered together her things. Clasping her sister's arm in a silent goodbye, she turned and left the place that she had called her home for the last forty-two years.
The gates of House Vrammyr were not as beautiful as House Ki'zath the fourteenth, nor as extravagant as House Baenre, the first. It held its own type of beauty, unlike any others. It almost had a gentle touch, as those of their distant cousins.
Kisairi glanced at the guards standing stiff at their posts and smothered a laugh. Kyri'in must not desire her company all too much. It was then she spotted him walking towards her, a velvet gown of silvered grey trimmed with black lace and a girdle dripping with pearls gripped in his hand. He smirked as he saw her in her sister's dress, standing tall with her head held high. "I see you have made yourself even more stunning, if that is at all possible. All silver and white, I see." His eyes scanned her and it was then that he spied the phoenix pendent. "With a touch of gold I see."
Not wanting Kyri'in to suspect, she stuttered, "A pendent of no great value. Merely a cherished token given to me by a dear friend."
Kyri'in arched stark white brows, "Tos'un perhaps?" He laughed as she flushed. He came forward to touch her neck, his fingers brushing against her smooth cheek ever so softly. Kyri'in held out his hand, "Please, come with me."
She accepted his offer graciously and with ease, following him through the gates of his House. He gave her a small tour of his suite and then led her up a spiraling, cast iron staircase that led to his bedchamber. When they arrived, he offered her red wine and pastries. The rich pigment of the drink made her lips appear full and red. When they had made themselves comfortable on the divan in front of the fire that burned merrily, Kyri'in cleared his throat nervously, held up the dress from earlier, and said intently, "Would you care to try this on?"
Kisairi looked him in the eye to see if he was doing this for a laugh, but, seeing the seriousness vivid in his brilliant green orbs, she smirked, but agreed. She left the room to change and when she came back, the wine had been refilled. He gaped at the striking young girl and smiled peacefully at the gentle rustle of velvet on the soft carpeting, announcing her return. A girdle of pearls and silver spilled down the front of her grey velvet skirts to clash and chime against the hem as she moved about. She had wrapped herself about the shoulders in a wine-purple mantle of sheer silk. Her warm golden eyes watched him watching her. Her hair, white and lustrous, flowed over her shoulders like a mantle, held back from her face by two simple silver clasps. Her allure was every bit as powerful as when Kyri'in had first laid eyes upon her, when she had first entwined him in her spell.
The room was made of shadows. The draperied bed was a cavern full of promises. Kyri'in could almost hear the whispered endearments, the sighs of lovers pleased. The wash of light from a single candle touched Kisairi's hair with gold. At her throat shone the phoenix torque with it's twinkling rubies. Kyri'in leaned against the door so that the carved wood pressed against his spine. He watched her, saying nothing. He could not, for the moment. He was taken too much by surprise. Somehow, he had not expected to be this overcome by desire. Slowly, Kisairi moved away from the opposite oaken door and went to the table. There was a flagon of wine and two gleaming goblets. The stems were wrought silver, flowing up around the bottom of each bowl in the shape of a raven's wing. In the decanter, the wine was red as blood. Kisairi filled the goblets, then offered one to Kyri'in. He pressed himself off the door and approached. He saw the long fingers of her slender hand gripping the silver goblet tightly, her long nails clinking against it, sounding a clear chime.
Kisairi placed the cup down gently upon the table, the thud of the wood softened to a whisper. He approached her then, and unfastened her girdle, letting it fall to the floor in a spill of silver and pearls. He placed his hands upon her hips and pressed himself against her, kissing her neck softly. Kisairi teased him with her tongue as he made to untie the lacings of her gown. Behind his head, she lifted her hand and curled it into a fist, drawing it back. However, before it reached the temple of Kyri'in's head, he reached behind him and stopped the coming blow. Backing away, he smirked and whispered forlornly, "Do not struggle so-you will not get away."
It was at that moment that Kisairi began to feel strange. Her body went numb and she could not feel her feet upon the ground. She tumbled into a heap and landed underneath Kyri'in's unrelenting stare. She gazed up at him in helplessness. "The wine…" she managed to gasp.
He smirked, albeit unhappily. "Yes," he responded. "I knew I would not get you that easily; I took no chances. So, I drugged the wine so you would not leave me for Tos'un." He chuckled at her disbelieving stare. "Yes, I know what is between you, but now I will have you for one night." He stroked her face and sighed, as if displeased with himself. "I had wished it would not come to this, love. You have forced it upon yourself. Please believe me when I say that I truly love you."
But before she could respond, it all went dark.
The rich oaken door slammed open and hit the wall behind it with a thud. Kisairi had awakened groggily only a few moments earlier. It had occurred to her that she could not escape Kyri'in's tight embrace, for all she struggled against the sheets. The drug from the wine still coursed through her veins, though feeling was slowly coming back to her body and she could move her fingers, toes, and head slightly. Kyri'in, though he had drunk none of the drugged wine, looked as if he had. More likely he was hung over. Kisairi slowly opened her eyes to see who it was that had come into the room, bathing the chamber in light that made her head pound.
Tos'un's face was ashen, and his hands trembled as he released the handle of the door. Kisairi, afraid to speak that she might rouse Kyri'in, could only plead with her eyes, trying to tell him that she had not wanted this. Tos'un nodded and crept up to the side of the bed. He pulled back the sheets and punched Kyri'in in the temple, untangling Kisairi from his arms and pulling her away from him. He took the purple mantle form the night before off of the nearby chair and wrapped her in it. Kisairi stumbled awkwardly into the chair and pointed to the black velvet pouch across the room. Tos'un retrieved it and, picking her up gently, took her from the room, closing the door softly behind him. Thankfully, they ran into no one on their way, and Tos'un closed the door to his bedchamber without a whisper of a sound. He sighed and leaned his forehead against the solid door. Without turning, he asked, "What did he do to you?"
Kisairi shuddered, not wanting to recall what had happened. "You saw," she muttered under her breath.
Tos'un swore and turned to face her, anger etched in his eyes. "No!" he bellowed. "I saw only that which was there when I opened the door!"
A tear trickled down her cheek and Kisa broke down into sobs. "Tos'un, please. Do not make me relive that night. Oh gods, just hold me!"
He did so, holding her gently, cradling her like a child. He whispered soft nothings in her ear to calm her. She trembled softly, tears streaming down her cheeks, yet she kept herself dignified and did not whine, nor moan. Tos'un lifted her chin and kissed her lightly on the cheek. She recoiled, then, with shock and recognition filling her eyes, gasped and sobbed, no longer caring whether she looked nor felt stately or not. "He has ruined everything!" she cried. "Whenever someone touches me, his face flashes in my mind." She clung to him for a few moments, then straightened. "No, I will not allow it." She rose then, letting the silk mantle slip to the floor. Reaching out to him, she purred, "I wanted this. It was what I planned all along."
Tos'un hesitated, knowing that she was hurt. He knew that she would awaken from her nightmare and regret what was going to happen.
Kisairi witnessed the turmoil that flashed through his eyes and went to him. Whispering in his ear, she said, "I want this."
Her breath warmed his cheek and Tos'un could not refuse.
As he awakened, Tos'un turned over in his bed to wrap his arms around Kisa, but found, to his surprise, that she was not beside him. He sat up bolt straight and discovered that she was still in the room, dashing back and forth across the room, gathering her things and placing them in her pack. As she turned to pick up a small spellbook, she saw that he was up and said, "Good, you're up," throwing an empty pack at him; One, he realized, that she had taken from his cupboard. He looked back up at her as she added, "Quick, pack up the essentials and anything else you might need. We must leave, and swiftly."
Tos'un quickly dressed in his black leather armor, as he had noticed that Kisairi had hers on. He then went about gathering together his own things, including a change of clothes, various daggers, and rations. When they had finished, Kisairi told him to give her his pack, which she then placed into the black velvet pouch, along with her own. Tos'un then asked if she wanted his sword, or whether they were to keep their weapons with them.
Kisa glared at him in exasperation. "Unless you expect to casually stroll out!"
Tos'un, himself frustrated by the continued hints, cried, "What is stopping us from doing just that?"
"A thick swarm of soldiers and guards looking for me, not to mention my brothers," she added thoughtfully.
Without further argument, Tos'un donned his sword and helped Kisairi gather the rest of her things. When they were ready, she told Tos'un her plan.
Kisairi moved her hands in the gestures of a spell. Her deep concentration caused Tos'un to gape in awe. As she finished the spell, she cupped the energy in her hands and glanced at him. "Are you ready? I am about to release the spell and once I am completely changed, you will need to take my things and make your way to the Har'oloth. I will meet you outside of the city in an hour. Remember, when you are out there, keep your sword drawn."
Tos'un's brow furrowed in confusion as he gave her a look of pure amusement, "And how do you suppose to find me in the wild Underdark?" he asked a he pocketed the velvet pouch.
She looked at him as if he was deaf and dumb. She opened her mouth as if to say something, but instead began to laugh hysterically. She finally regained her composure enough to say, "Why, with magic of course!"
Tos'un chuckled in delight. He loved having the sarcastic drow by his side and was glad that he didn't have to travel to a new world alone. Anyone would have been good enough for him but Kisa was one dark elf that he most enjoyed to spend time with. He nodded and told her to proceed with the spell casting.
Kisa released the pent up energy. Tos'un watched as the globe descended upon her head, then splashed as if it were a orb of water. Kisa's body became a void of nothingness as she began to alter herself. She began to take shape and a few seconds later, she was a kobold. She took a small glance at Tos'un and made her way out of the chamber. Tos'un waited a couple of minutes and then walked out of the room. He strode down the halls of his house and, before exiting, made his way to his brother's bedchamber. He found him still knocked out cold on his bed. He placed his things on the floor next to the door and then began to shake Kyri'in awake. When he finally came to, his eyes were glazed and he stumbled even though he was only trying to stand. Tos'un slapped him and he finally seemed to have knocked some sense into him. Kyri'in sat down on his bed and pulled his fingers through his hair. "What do you want?" he asked sullenly.
Tos'un's hands curled into fists, "What do you think by all this?" he asked through clenched teeth. "What kind of monster are you to force a woman? Oh, but it doesn't matter; because you know she will never tell anyone. She is too proud. But just to let you know, you have broken her. She is an empty shell of what she used to be. You bastard!" he roared.
Kyri'in eyes glazed over and he gaped at Tos'un forlornly, "Please tell me that she does not hate m- Kyri'in never finished. Tos'un's pent up anger lashed out and his fist slammed into Kyri'in's jaw with enough force that Tos'un felt the bone crushed under the pressure. As he fell to the ground at his feet, Tos'un kicked him; hard, "I'm sure she would have enjoyed that as much as I."
Tos'un walked out of the room.
The streets of Narbondel were full of activity, which was standard in the evening. Therefore, it was all the more easier for Kisairi to sneak away into the Underdark unnoticed. The drow-in-kobold-form shot quick glances all about it and began to walk off the main street and into the shadows of the alleyway. It would be easier for her to exit the city if she was not on the main street, for it lead to the main exit, which was guarded heavily. Sneaking through a small exit would be much easier, and if the guards gave her trouble, well there were only two, right? That thought, she worked her way through the maze of alleyway until she came to the exit. As she thought there were only two guards and they didn't seem too interested in guarding. They squatted in the dirt and were rolling dice. Money was exchanged, along with groans and the peal of triumphant laughter. Kisairi drew her piwafwi closer about her and steadily slipped by. She was almost in the clear when there was a sound of amazement by one of the guards. The other laughed and began to wave his hand in the other's face. He groaned and handed over a pouch full of coins. The drow took the money and pulled back the cowl of his cloak. Standing before Kisa were her brothers, Ryld and Pharaun.
"Greetings, sister," Ryld swept into a low bow. "Why do you persist in changing into a kobold? It does not suit you. However, I will forgive you for that, for you have just won me a purse of riches!"
Kisairi began the spell that would change her back, all the while glaring at her brothers. How did they know she would escape from the city? Or that the kobold she appeared to be was her? Or even that this was the exit she chose? As she regained her normal form, she placed her hands on her hips and openly displayed her displeasure," Why are you following me? And how did you know I would come here? I told no one other than Tos'un."
Pharaun cleared his throat," We knew you were going to have to leave at some point. I thought you were going to leave through the main exit, but Ryld here said he thought you had more sense than that, that you would choose this one. We bet on it, and it looks like I lose."
Kisairi rolled her eyes and took from her person a slender oak wand of fine quality and pointed it with deadly precision at the two smirking drow. "Thank you for the summary. Now, step aside. I have come too far to have you two imbeciles block the path I wish to take."
Pharaun did not answer; merely nodded his head in a silent understanding. "Ryld, we need to take her back to the House. Matron Kirali will punish us if we take any longer than necessary. Besides, I think she hinted to Talice about a new torture toy…" Ryld needed no other prodding. Kisa's eyes grew wide in an unspoken understanding that she knew what was being said. Yet before she could get away, Ryld seized her arm and pulled her close, holding her ensnared in his strength. She looked to her other brother with pleading eyes, but to no avail. Ryld began to drag her away. Kisa thrashed in his grasp but could not break away from his muscular grip. Suddenly she looked to her brother, Pharaun, for her last chance.
Her voice held so much passion it even caused Ryld to loosen his grip enough to let her break free, and then didn't even try to snatch her up again. Pharaun's eyes lit up at hearing her say what he had yearned for all those years. "Xas," was all he managed to gasp.
"Please, let me go. It is all I ask of you. You may have anything you want in return." Her eyes met his for a few fleeting seconds," Anything," she repeated. "Ussta orn xxizz"
Pharaun's breathing came in short gasps as he considered the possibilities. "Xan naut gotfrer ussta gultan," he replied.
Kisairi nodded, "Ussta ja'hai," she said. Then, "Bel'la dos" With a smirk, Kisa spun her piwafwi about her and disappeared in the dark shadows of the Har'oloth.
Tos'un tapped his foot anxiously. He did not yet know if Kisairi had made it out of the city unharmed. To take his mind off of his worries, he unsheathed his sword and began a few practice swings and maneuvers. After thirty minutes his visage was already glistening with sweat. His muscles cramped at ninety minutes and he was forced to stop. He dropped to the ground slowly to ease the aching. Kisairi watched as all this transpired and was amazed by his skill with the sword. She had seen it before, yes, but on the receiving end. She never had the chance to observe him practicing and she was in awe. Before she could step out into the open, Tos'un sensed another's presence and drew his sword, cursing under his breath. Kisa's laughter reverberated against the rock walls of the Har'oloth and made it sound like thousands of tiny bells resounding throughout the Underdark. Tos'un smirked and embraced the young elf, delighted that the girl was unscathed. "Vel'klar inbal dos tlus?" I have waited for over two hours!" he inquired.
"Xuat tlu waela! It was only an hour and one quarter!" she argued. "Besides, I ran into some… resistance, I suppose. It is nothing to trouble yourself with though." Kisa strolled over to her pack and rummaged through her things. She reemerged holding a small spellbook and a map. As she leafed through the pages, Tos'un came up behind her and placed his slender hands on her hips. Kisa smiled and continued to look in her book but tilted her neck to one side. Tos'un fixed small kisses upon one side and murmured into her neck. Kisa shut the book and asked him what he said.
"I asked what it was that delayed you for so long. It must have been something immensely important to keep you from me." Tos'un laughed merrily and spun her about, enfolding her in his arms. "By the gods, I am so thankful that you are here with me!" He roared.
"Shu! I would have rather stayed in Menzoberranzan than come out here with you! It was not my choice! Although I am pleased I have you to come with me into this new world," she added quickly, seeing his expression of sorrow. "As for what delayed me, my brothers deemed it necessary to ask me if this was the path I wished to take. As if Pharaun did not know…"
Tos'un tensed in rage. He recalled the evening the other day when Pharaun made himself a rival to Tos'un by proclaiming that he loved Kisairi. Tos'un never cared for Pharaun and he knew it was foolish of him to be angry at him because he was jealous. Besides, he knew Kisairi loved him and he need not worry about them becoming lovers, right? "What did you say to them?" he asked.
Kisa felt uneasy. She did not know if she could confide in him just yet. She was taught not to trust anyone and it was not in her nature to. But Tos'un had saved her from the cruelty of Kyri'in and agreed to accompany her to the Lands Above. "Ryld and Pharaun wished to take me back to my House, but I struck a bargain with Pharaun and was able to escape. Nothing too much, just a promise. I still cannot believe that he thought I would uphold it! An Ilythirri's life is made up of treachery and deceit."
Tos'un eyes glazed over and his face became hard and impassive. Kisa narrowed her eyes and tilted her head in an unspoken question. Tos'un's voice sounded blank and emotionless when he said, "What did you promise him? Do not lie to me Kisairi. I will know."
Kisa was petrified in fear. This was not the Tos'un she knew. She took a deep breath and whispered," I…accepted his offer. Ussta ja'hai-na"
Tos'un's face paled. He visibly trembled, and pushed her away from him. He walked away to a dark corner and did not move, save for the sagging of his shoulders. Kisairi, not understanding, treaded softly up behind him and whispered," Why is this a problem. You know I love you and would not do this if I didn't have to. Usstan ssinssrigg dos," She said, placing her arms around him and resting her head on his back. "Vel'bol belaern." As she spoke, she felt Tos'un relax and drew him over to their things. She forced him to sit down and then laid his head in her lap. She stroked his hair as she pondered over what to do next, for she had made a vow to Pharaun and she intended to uphold it, if only to prove to herself different from her kin. But, that would have to wait, for her main priority was to get to the Surface, and that was also something she intended to do, and Pharaun couldn't follow her all the way to there. Could he?
Pharaun and Ryld made their way back to House Mlezziir unsuccessfully, for they had failed their Matron Mother, and if that did not mean death, then it meant torture at Talice's hands. Which was worse? Who could tell, save those who had experienced both? Ryld spun a dagger in between his fingers to keep his mind off the thought and glanced at Pharaun, who was gazing at, apparently, nothing. He stopped walking suddenly and watched, mesmerized, as Pharaun, whose reflexes were as sudden as a cats, obliviously keep walking. Something was wrong, and he thought it had something to do with the confrontation with Kisairi. As he rushed to keep up, he ran the conversation over in his mind, trying to find some clue as to what this "offer" was. Kisairi had seemed to be dreading anything to do with her brother, but why was this? It all seemed to start a couple of nights ago when he, Kyri'in, and Pharaun met up with Kisa and Tos'un at Melee-Magthere. Ryld could hardly remember what he said let alone what the others had talked about. The whole night was such a blur…by Lolth, if only he hadn't been drinking! Coming up beside Pharaun, still without an answer to his thoughts, he asked, "What is with this…'offer'?"
Pharaun spun about and slammed Ryld, who was easily a whole three hands higher than him, into the wall with ease. His features were brought into a scowl and he brought his face ever closer. Inches away from his visage, he clenched his teeth as he said, "That, my dear dalninuk, is not something you should be asking, if you value your life." Pharaun released his hold on the drow and continued to walk towards their House. Ryld pulled himself together and hurried to keep up. As he reached his brother's side, he slung his arm around him and said, "Asanque, vel'bol belaern."
Pharaun grunted in return and the pair made their way to their lot in life.
Matron Kirali sneered and began to laugh softly. The servants looked at her unsteadily, for none ever knew if her laugh was a good thing or not. Some said that the last time she laughed, dozens of servants ended up missing. Those in the room dared not leave, for, although they were afraid to end up being part of Matron Kirali's collection of toys, they would rather take their chances against a rumor than what they knew would happen if they excused themselves. The Matron Mother called for her children to be summoned and moments later, Nulliira, Talice, Ilivarra, and Tsabrak entered the chamber. Tsabrak immediately crouched on the floor to offer homage to his superior, then stood and stepped to the side. Kirali answered with a backhand swipe across his head, sending him sprawling to the floor. His eyes stayed on the floor and he arranged himself. Kirali narrowed her eyes and said quietly, "I did not tell you to rise." Tsabrak resumed kneeling and Kirali smoothed back her fluid white hair and looked down upon her high priestesses. "You must find your brothers, Ryld and Pharaun, and bring them back here to me at once. Talice, you will stay here and help me prepare. Ilivarra, you find Pharaun, Nulliira, you locate Ryld. I expect you both to be back here by Narbondel's Black Death. Tsabrak, go with Ilivarra; you may be of some use, given that you are of no aid here. I will try to summon the two thick ones, but I doubt they will come, I have a feeling that they expect what will happen if they return…"
Matron Kirali chuckled in amusement and ushered the others out of the room as she watched Ryld and Pharaun stop and glance around as if in nervousness in her scrying bowl.
Pharaun abruptly seized Ryld's forearm and pulled him into a nearby alleyway. When Ryld opened his mouth to comment, Pharaun placed his free hand over his mouth and pulled him deeper into the shadows. When Ryld finally broke free of his grasp, he knew better than to say anything and waited for Pharaun to disclose his thoughts. "Someone is scrying us, and they are…amused. Only a clerical priestess or Matron Mother could cast a spell akin to that, and I doubt our sisters would be interested in watching us…"
"So that leaves Kirali" Ryld observed.
Pharaun's brow furrowed in annoyance, "You will address her as Matron Kirali. You will show her respect." Before he could help himself, a smile sneaked through his stern visage and he burst into laughter. Ryld chuckled and asked his brother what he planned to do.
"Well, we obviously can't go back to the House. We could fake our deaths and join another House and risk being recognized by others. Or…" Pharaun abruptly ceased speaking.
"We could…leave. Go to Ched Nazad, the Har'oloth, or…the Surface." Ryld finished.
"Precisely," Pharaun concluded. Ryld smiled and grabbed the hilt of his sword, eager to decide what to do next. The drow was not famous for his patience when it came to determining how to handle something. He was keen on settling the matter.
"So, what are we waiting for? Kisairi and Tos'un are already a good half day walk ahead of us! Do you have your things, or do we have to raid our House before leaving? I have mine; all I need are my sword and my skill to survive in the untamed Har'oloth! You must carry your foolish spell components," he scoffed.
Pharaun beamed and shook his head in a silent rejection. He also was anxious to get going, for he wished to catch up to Kisa before opening his eyes to a new world.
Kisairi and Tos'un continued on their trek to the Surface. However, they both glanced about nervously for any sign of enemies. The Underdark was a dangerous and hostile place and those that are not constantly on the alert are often dispatched with ease.
For the first mistake you make while in the Har'oloth is your last.
Kisa kept her spellbook and the map of the Underdark in her hands at all times. The spellbook was opened to a page filled with offensive spells so she would be prepared if and when they came across and enemy. Tos'un gripped the hilts of his sword and dagger tightly, at the ready to draw them at any time. Any scurry of motion, be it made by a blind cave rat or even an insect, sent Kisa and Tos'un into a flurry of motion. Anything that came across the pair would be slashed apart by Tos'un's thirsty blades and then obliterated by Kisairi's fireball spell. Their steps were silent and they were invisible beneath their piwafwis. They had walked for almost a whole day and finally Kisa called for a rest. They found a secluded cave and tossed their things to the ground, glad to finally rest their weary feet. Tos'un took a swig of pomegranate wine and passed the skin to Kisairi. Kisa accepted and then took out four journey cakes and passed two to Tos'un. They ate in silence and once she finished, Kisa rolled over to catch some sleep before they moved on. Tos'un gazed at her as she slept, her face cleared of the worries on her shoulders. It occurred to Tos'un how much she had lost to be herself. She was exiled from her home on the threat of death. She would loose all of her innate drow magic that made her who she was. It amazed Tos'un that she would give all that up; everything she lived for. Tos'un placed her piwafwi closer about her person and then lay down alongside her, placing his arm around her slender waist.
A pair of golden eyes looked upon the pair in smug delight. They would be this ones prey, and nothing would stand in its way. It silently stalked them, closing in slowly. Unfortunately for the beast, one of the drow glanced about in sudden realization that it was being watched. The male slowly reached for his sword. As soon as his hand closed upon the hilt, he seemed to visibly relax.
The beast closed in, unseen to the male. For the thing was a Displacer Beast, an ignorant mockery to the graceful being of a panther, for it resembled one, but for its extra pair of legs and the thin tentacles that protruded from its shoulders. The thing could bend the air around it to conceal it from prying eyes. Those who did battle with the beast had to rely most on their hearing and their instincts. The male stood, and then reached down to shake his companion from her slumber. The female quickly composed herself and reached for a small book beside her, quickly leafing through the pages to find an offensive spell to ready herself for the fight that she knew was to come, judging by the stance that Tos'un was in. She swiftly rose and took her customary place behind the male.
Out of nowhere, Tos'un felt a slash across his leg. His sword-Thuulstrea-sliced through empty air, however. Tos'un glanced about in confusion, not understanding how he could be hurt, yet not harm the thing in return. Nothing could be that fast! Kisairi, however, understood completely and stepped in front of Tos'un and shoved him behind her. Her hands outstretched and her eyes closed, Kisa mumbled a frost cone spell and, instead of throwing it outwards, kept it restrained, listening and watching for any sigh of their attacker. Suddenly she spied a small pool of water and immediately placed herself five feet behind it, staring intently at it all the while. So they stood, Tos'un gripping the hilt of his sword in case of another attack, Kisairi staring at the puddle of water, for five tantalizing minutes, when, without warning, the small puddle rippled. Kisa acted with disciplined efficiency and released the pent up frost spell directly at the puddle. But instead of freezing the water, it hit an invisible object, making it visible to both the drow. Less than three feet away stood a displacer beast, one of the most feared beings of the Har'oloth, third to the basilisk and the illithid. And no wonder they could not see it! It could some how force the air around it to form a veil to cover it from view. As quickly as it appeared, it vanished. Kisa immediately flung her hands around her and Tos'un, water splashing from her fingertips to form a ring around them. "Keep your eyes on the water. As soon as you see a disturbance, use your sword to injure it," Kisairi instructed to Tos'un in the hand code of the drow. She then turned and gazed at the water as if she were studying a spellbook. Every few minutes either Tos'un slashed out with his dagger, or Kisairi released a spell. Slowly, over the course of the tormenting but exciting battle, the displacer came less often to the drow and finally stopped altogether. As the two drow observed the spectacle, the Displacer slowly became visible. The beast was lying on its side, breathing labouredly, its chest rattling with the effort of drawing each breath. Its coat was scorched with tiny flames lining its body, although Kisa had sent only frost and acid spells its way. Tos'un bent down to end the misery of the poor creature with the flash of his dagger, and then glanced about for the next enemy he knew was near. Kisairi prepared herself with new offensive attacks and stepped behind the eager male. Out of the shadows came two cloaked figures, one holding two slender swords, the other with hands concealed, obviously casting some sort of spell. Kisa immediately focused on the wizard as Tos'un engaged with the swordsman. As the wizards hands flung outwards, Kisairi murmured a spell quickly and the acid arrow that hurtled her way dissolved into nothingness. Swiftly following up her defensive charm, Kisa countered with a bolt of lightning, missing by inches. Growling in rage, she drew her sword and waded in. The wizard unsheathed a short sword and parried Kisa's overheard chop with ease.
Tos'un knew that his opponent was skilled indeed. He stayed on the defensive to judge his opponents ability and realized that they were evenly matched. Deciding to take a few tries at his adversary, Tos'un drove his foes swords upwards and out, trying to get a clear opening at his chest and throat. The drow, however, would not allow it and kept his blades close together, but not able to keep them low. Tos'un saw his advantage and kept driving them up. His challenger tried a feint, but Tos'un saw through it and was able to get his swords through his defensives. It was then he saw through his folly and tried to retract his blades, but was caught. His opponent crossed his arms and pushed Tos'un to the ground. Tos'un, extremely vulnerable, tried to get his sword up to defend, but slumped to the ground as he felt the cold steel of his enemies' blade caress his throat.
Kisairi was in a similar situation as she tested her whirling blades against her foe. She immediately knew that she was outmatched and, once seeing that her companion was down and, dropped her blades to the ground and crossed her arms over her chest in a gesture of peace. Her adversary gathered her sword, dagger, and spellbook in his arms, for he was too solidly built to be a female, and piled them, too far away for Kisa to reach them, on the ground. Tos'un was similarly handled, his things placed next to Kisairi's. It was while watching them moving about that Kisa knew without a doubt that their enemies were drow. They moved too fluidly to be anything but. She glared openly at the two males, amazed that they would treat a female so. She defiantly stood and strode over to sit beside Tos'un, looking the males in where she thought their eyes were in a silent warning; daring them to say something. They did not, and let her sit wherever she wanted, but being careful that she did not go near her things. They huddled together, whispering silently, "Probably deciding what to do with us," Kisa decided. She glanced at Tos'un, trying to find some way to tell him that she didn't know how to get them out of this one. It was then that the two male drow, who had yet to reveal themselves, came forth and sat across from the captives. One of them asked Kisa what she was doing out in the Underdark in the silent drow hand code. Kisa tried to repress a chuckle when she realized that these males were afraid to let her hear their voices. She must know them then, she mused, and well for them to be uneasy about her recognizing them. She did not respond and one of the males looked to the other and laughed, then took Kisairi's hand in his and began to stroke it gently. At first Kisa thought it a sign that he was going to force her, but then realized that it was a movement to comfort her. She jerked her hand away and looked at him in amazement. Then, smiling in victory, her hand flashed outwards and grasped the hood of his traveling cloak. She wrenched it back and looked into the smiling face of her brother.
Kisairi gaped openly at Pharaun his smirking face inches away from hers. A scowl then covered her features as she slapped Pharaun across the face. The wizard took the abuse without flinching; he even continued to smile! Kisairi glanced at the drow who sat in front of Tos'un and wasn't surprised to find Ryld observing the unfolding scene in amusement. She snarled in rage and snapped her attention back at Pharaun. "Why are you following me!" she screeched, finishing her question with another backhand swipe at Pharaun. Again, he took it with a grin and did not respond. Kisairi screamed in anger and brought her hand back in another smack, however Ryld caught her wrist and restrained her as Pharaun gathered himself and rose to face her visage, scrunched up in fury. His hand touched her cheek. She made move to bite it, but Pharaun caught her chin in his hand and forced her to look him straight in the eye, "So beautiful…" he sighed.
Kisairi spat at his feet and snatched herself from his grip. "Dalnink, remember our deal."
Pharaun beamed as if she had said exactly what he wanted her to say. As it was, she had, "I do," he chuckled. "And if do recall correctly, you have yet to fulfill your end of the bargain!"
Kisairi smiled sweetly at her brother as she drove her knee into his groin.
Pain exploded in between his legs and he grasped his injured area as his knees slammed into the stone floor. Kisairi struggled free of Ryld's grip and swung her foot about in a full circle and sneered as she felt the impact of her brother's head beneath her heel. As he bent to hold his head in his hands, she drove two fingers into the hollow of his neck and skull. Knocked unconscious, Ryld fell heavily to the ground. Kisa dashed over to her things. She buckled her sword belt to her hips and tossed Tos'un his sword and pack. After swinging her pack over her shoulder and gathering her spellbooks and maps into her arms, she instructed Tos'un to flee and meet her in an hour or two at Drygully Tunnel, a well used passage to the Surface.
As Tos'un faded from view, Kisa breathed a sigh of relief and tossed her belongings to the floor. Kneeling beside Pharaun, she stroked his hair away from his face, which was glistening with sweat from the pain. She whispered to him, telling him to put the pain behind him and collect himself. When he finally managed to sit up, he placed his hand on Kisa's cheek and stroked it lovingly. Kisairi pulled away gently, trying not to cause him any pain, physical or emotional. Then, remembering why she was even staying, she slowly leaned forward. Pharaun's eyes began shining when he realized what was transpiring and he eagerly inched closer. Kisa stopped when she recalled what she had said to Tos'un when he had learned about her deal with Pharaun and then began to back away from him. She shook these feelings away, reminding herself that she was drow, and placed herself into Pharaun's waiting arms. Pharaun fleetingly remembered that Ryld was there, but then he forgot as he contemplated what to do next. He had wanted this for so long, but he never expected it to come, which was why he made the deal with Kisa, and even then he didn't. That was why he had followed her to the Hyrr; to the Surface. Kisairi decided for him as she unbuckled his sword belt and yanked his piwafwi from his throat. Within minutes, Pharaun had only his breeches on; Kisa only a thin blouse and leggings. Planting small kisses on his chest and neck, Kisairi shrugged her shirt off and started pulling on Pharaun's boots. It was at this time that Ryld awoke. As he looked upon the two, completely oblivious to his watchful eyes, he wished he could join them in their carefree love, but knew that no drow female would ever satisfy him, so he merely looked on and pondered his own love life, which he had yet to discover.
It was Drizzt's turn to laugh in the girl's face. When he finally calmed, he said, with a small smile on his face, "For all I know, you were part of this raiding party! What makes you so sure that I should believe you?" He asked scornfully.
Serri snarled and slammed her small hand on the oak table. Her arresting features screwed up into a scowl and she bared her gleaming white teeth ever so slightly. She then calmed and leaned back in her chair unruffled, waiting for Drizzt to say anything more. When he did not, she shook her head and chuckled under her breath, "I am guessing that you do not wish the name of the House that will be yours and all of Mithril Hall's end! Very well, I shall take my leave, but do not say I did not warn you; did not warn you all!" She stood and began to stride out of the room, but, with a signal to Wulfgar, Drizzt blocked her only escape. "Now, my young Ilythirri, you shall tell us all you know, or…" Drizzt rose and kicked into a run in a single fluid movement. His dagger snapped out of his concealed sheath and, again, a blade rested upon Serri's throat. Drizzt reckoned that Serri had gotten his point and sheathed his dagger. Pushing a scrap of parchment across the table, along with a piece of charcoal, he whispered, "You said you have seen the House Crest. Draw it for us," he demanded.
Serri looked doubtfully at the scrap of paper, then up at Drizzt's frown and opened her mouth to argue. Thinking it irrelevant, she picked up the charcoal and began to sketch. As they waited, Drizzt pulled Inidil aside, "I fear that, although I know I should not trust her, that I believe her," he sighed. "And she seems sincere about the raiding party. Why else would she come all the way to Mithril Hall to tell us?" he asked.
"I'll tell you exactly why," Inidil fumed. "She wishes to get on our good side; to come to be great friends so she can learn all of our covert plans. I doubt she is even drawing a real Crest right now," she remarked.
At that precise moment, Serri announced that she was done. Drizzt, at first, refused to look, fearing above all else that the Crest would be that of his own House; that his family was searching for him again. But he dismissed that thought as he remembered that he had destroyed the last member of his House and family long ago in the War of the Ilythirri. As he heard a slight cry, his fears evaporated and he turned to look down at the illustration. He saw absolutely no resemblance to his own and he immediately relaxed.
However, he looked at Inidil's face and knew.
Tos'un had, again, ended up waiting for his wearisome companion. While he waited, he again practiced a couple sword maneuvers. He also looked at the two maps that Kisairi had shoved into his hands before sending him off. One was an extremely detailed map of the Har'oloth. Many common passageways, tunnels, and caverns were marked, such as Drygully Tunnel. Others, such as Sniags Cavern, were unknown to the male. The other map was a map of the Surface. Tos'un took more time to study this, considering that this was soon to be the land that he called his home. However, he also examined it because of his fascination with the worlds beyond those of the Underdark. This alien world knew of no stone ceilings that the drow and many others had become acquainted and used to. The main issue for him, though, was the great ball of fire that the Surface-dwellers called the Sun, and the lesser light that came to them in the night that they called the Moon. The high priestesses had also mentioned several small lights that dotted the sky surrounding this so called Moon. They were called stars. Thousands and thousands of these stars spread throughout the vastness of the endless ceiling like the twinkling tears of the gods. Tos'un sighed and rolled up the map. Placing it into his pack, he slipped out his wineskin and sipped aimlessly. Kisa had been gone for a lengthy amount of time. It worried him and he wished to go back the way he had come to search for her, but he dare not leave the area lest she come back. So, he sat contently, but preoccupied, sipping pomegranate wine and dreaming of the Lands Above.
Kisairi shifted her pack more comfortably upon her shoulders and continued her hike up the steep passageway of this tunnel. She had left Pharaun and Ryld far behind by using a gate spell after knocking the two of them unconscious for the second time in a day. She carried on until she came upon an immense grotto. Through the middle ran a small stream with sparse vegetation along the side. There was a smaller ledge along the eastern edge of the cavern with a considerably sized cave against the rear. Kisairi considered staying here for the night-she had already undergone the spellcasting for the gate and walked at least five miles-but decided to carry on so she might meet up with Tos'un. Shouldering her pack once more, she glanced back only once before exiting the sanctuary.
Drizzt looked incredulously upon Inidil while she slowly backed away from the girl and the Crest. As she reached the door, she sent one glance at Drizzt, then flung about and sprinted down the hall before anyone could stop her. Drizzt looked upon the girl suspiciously, then nodded to Wulfgar as he made his way out of the chamber. Walking briskly down the halls, trying to catch up with the swift drow, he did not see Cattie-brie slink after him. As Drizzt turned a sharp corner, he almost ran into Inidil who was up against the wall, slowly sliding down. Crouching to eye her on her own level, he placed his hand on her knee and said nothing. He knew that just his presence was support enough, and that when or if she wanted to talk, she would. They sat for an unknown amount of time, taking encouragement from one another. All the while, Cattie-brie looked onward, touched, but also slightly jealous. Drizzt had not been alone with her since Inidil had arrived. She missed his company and wished he was by her side more often. Instead of voicing her concerns, she sighed and sauntered back to the small, unadorned chamber holding the pretty young girl who was more than she appeared.
When Kyri'in was finally able to open his swollen eye, the first thing he saw were his own gruesome features. His jaw was swollen so much that he could not open his mouth, even slightly, for the unbearable agony. Three of his molars had fallen out and he had had a hard time spitting them out without cringing. Nevertheless, he quickly donned his armor and buckled his rapier to his hips. Without pausing, he packed swiftly and shoved open his door with his foot. He stalked down the many halls of his House and at long last stood outside the door that opened into the anteroom. Behind this door he knew would be Matron Chalithra, with his sisters Qilue and Phyrra right beside her. He gathered his dignity and burst into the chamber.
As he had suspected, his mother and sisters were gathered around, chatting idly. Following his entrance, however, the conversation came to an abrupt halt. Three pairs of blazing red eyes glared upon the insolent male, noticing his rapier, armor, and most notably, his bruises. Kyri'in dipped into a short bow and cleared his throat, "I plan to leave this day," he said, and that only.
All three pairs of eyes widened simultaneously.
With that, Kyri'in turned on his heel and walked out of the chamber, determined to make up the lost time, and ground, on his targets.
As the door closed behind Kyri'in, Qilue rose, hand on the snake whip resting on her hip, and started to go after the impudent male. Matron Chalithra, however, lifted a hand to stop her and said, "Oh, let him go, he is of no use to us here." She chuckled softly and shook her head, "Perhaps he may even be killed, freeing us from him forever!"
Phyrra rose and began to pace the chamber. She was quite short for a drow, only standing at about 5'2, but she made up for it with her particularly evil nature. "What I am most curious about is, not the fact that he is leaving; with Tos'un mysteriously gone, I figured that he would follow soon. No, not that, but the fact that his face was bruised and swollen beyond recognition. Why, when he first came into the chamber, I thought him one of the guards! Who did that to him? Surely not any of us, correct?" When Chalithra and Qilue nodded their agreement, Phyrra continued, "Who then? Also, not that I am complaining, but why are our males all of a sudden leaving? And…" The mysterious tone of voice gripped Matron Chalithra and Qilue in fascination, "It is rumored that another one of House Mlezziir's high priestesses is missing; rumors that she has fled to the Surface!" Matron Chalithra nodded while Qilue gasped, just then receiving the startling news. "Tos'un left, never to return, the same night that Kisairi of House Mlezziir escaped. Do you not think it odd? I suspect that they are in league together, that they planned this when they were surrounded by the soldiers of that girl's House," she concluded.
Matron Chalithra nodded her accent, "I suspected as much, but where does Kyri'in fit into all of this?" This sent the three females into a deep contemplation. For several moments that sat in thought, when suddenly Qilue sat up sharply.
"Kyri'in is jealous."
Matron Chalithra's face screwed into a scowl as she considered what her daughter had said, "Explain," she said after several minutes.
"If Tos'un was willing to follow Kisairi all the way to the Surface, then their relationship must have been more than just acquaintances". She cast a glance at the door that Kyri'in had left through, "Kyri'in, it seems, must have gotten jealous. We all know that Kisairi had to have been in this House the night that she left, otherwise how would Tos'un have known when the precise moment to leave? Now, what did the pair do when they stayed the night in Tos'un's room? I believe that Kyri'in was jealous and confronted Tos'un." Qilue chuckled in amusement, "I guess we know who won!"
Matron Chalithra laughed quietly and nodded in confirmation, "Yes, I imagine that that is what happened, and Kyri'in now is going after them to redeem himself."
Phyrra laughed, "Good luck!"
After an extensive period of time, Inidil ran her fingers through her hair and turned to Drizzt. The sorrow and anguish in her eyes filled Drizzt with grief and anger. Yet he pushed those emotions aside as her mouth opened.
"The Crest the girl drew was of House Mlezziir, my own," she whispered.
Tos'un and Kisairi met up and moved on, determined to get to the Lands Above before nightfall. As they took a short rest, a slight shuffle sounded and the pair turned to find Ryld and Pharaun entering the chamber. The groups exchanged hesitant greetings and Tos'un and Kisairi, after a short discussion, agreed to let the two travel with them to their destination. Tos'un noticed that Kisairi and Pharaun could hardly meet one another's eyes and Pharaun seemed to be staying uncomfortably close to Kisa's side, but these thoughts were cast aside. The group was rewarded for their long expedition when a small amount of light shone from around a curved bend up ahead. The foursome quickened their pace until they came to the chamber. A small opening, just big enough for a drow to crawl through, was nestled in the back of the cave. Through it shone a pale, silvery light that was slightly uncomfortable to the sensitive eyes of the four drow. Undeterred were they, however, and one by one they crept through the gap. Kisairi was the first to get through.
As she lifted her shining amber eyes to the clear night sky, she knew all that she had given up to get this far was worth it and more.