(A/N: This story is set in a 'Grey World' that the DM Created for the game. He basicly said that if we could come up with a background story for the character we got bonus EXP. Well, I think my character's - Rallain LightBringer - story got a little long, but *Shrugs* Hey I enjoyed writing it. And I even have ideas on how to contunue it on untill she becomes an actuall Paladin. hehe Anyways, Enjoy - PhantomChajo)
(A/N2nd: "^word^" is in Drow (Or undercommon take your choice) and "~words~" are in Goblin)
Deep below the surface world, a realm known only as the Underdark exist. A realm completely opposite from the surface .Instead of light and goodness, one would find darkness and evil. Evil so dark that it could not survive in the light. But as one would find the occasional vile evilness on the surface, so one would also find that rare purely good being in the Underdark.
This story starts, not in the present but sometime in the past. A Time when War and strife were just beginning for some, but for others it was just a continuation of times from even farther back in history.
Somewhere in the Underdark, a city existed. It was just one f several that existed in the eternal darkness. This city belonged to the Drow though, those evil ebony skinned elves f the Underdark. This unnamed city was ruled by various ranking houses. The house that ruled was also ruled by a rather vicious and evil (Even to the Drow) Matron Mother.
During this time a small gathering of disgruntled drow started to meet and speak of how they came to where they were at. They looked back on history and searched out for any kernel of truth in the tangle of lies that was spun then force fed to the children born. Over time this small group gained strength in numbers until they could no longer hide. When that happened those members of the faction gathered all that could be carried easily and packed up what few belongings any wished to take then slipped out in the deep of the Underdark night. The leader of this faction was Xoranth, the Elder son of an upper ranking house and Matron Mother.
When it was discovered the next day that he and many others had left without word, the ruling Council of Matron mothers gathered to argue over what to do. It took several days before all was agreed upon. A Hunting party would go after the renegades and bring them and bring any survivors back to be sacrificed. The leader of the hunting party was Zena, Xoranth's sister.
Over the next several weeks, the hunters and the renegades played a deadly game of cat and mouse. The hunters were very close several times, but the renegades always managed to slip though the traps and scouts. That is, until the Renegades came to the edge of a huge rift that would take days to cross. So they decided to make a stand where they were. If they survived then they would continue on. If not, then there was no need to worry about it.
When the Hunters caught up to them there was a moment of uneasy truce as the two leaders, Brother and Sister talked over a short distance. Neither could agree to the other's words and within moments of that a battle ensued. For the longest of times, neither side was winning. Deadlocked they once again took up sides. Eyeing each other over the short distance between them, ignoring for the moment the bodies of the dead and dying that littered the stone floor.
It came down, in the end, to Brother versus Sister, Warrior verses a High Priestess. Both had been taught by the same Weapon Master, both knew the attack and counter patterns of the deadly dance. Seconds passed into minutes. Neither gaining the upper hand for more then a brief moment. Then at the same time, both stuck out with their weapons. He caught her in a raking blow to the face that took her eye, she caught him in an upper cut that sliced across his throat taking his voice. She fell before he did, but he was not standing for long after that.
The Hunters seeing their High Priestess fall at the hands of the betrayer panicked, turned and fled into the dark of the tunnels. The Renegades gave chase for only a few hundred paces before then gathered back around their fallen leader. All gave thanks when it was learned that he would live. Once again they gathered what they could and moved on. Those of their group that were dead were left, those that were dying were given a choice. Attempt to continue on or be given a swift and merciful death.
In that time Xoranth took as his wife and partner his long time lover. They were blessed with many children, who in turn also had many children each. One of whom looked exactly like Xoranth in his youth and was even named for him.
In that same time, the Sister returned to the city to be punished. The scar was magically made permanent and she was forced to use the eye of another. That eye having to be replaced within a decade. She had several children herself by various mates. None of the male children were allowed to live beyond birth. She taught all her daughters to hate males passionately. That a males only use was in battle or in bed. At the death of the Matron Mother (by her dagger), she ascended to the throne and became the ruling Matron Mother of the house.
Over time both bloodlines prospered in their own ways. His in happiness and peace, hers in power and war. His children became merchants, clerics and warriors. Her daughters became high priestess to the dark gods like her. Centuries had passed since the sundering of the two, but like a circle the two bloodlines would once again come back around to meet each other.
A small merchant caravan made it's way to the designated meeting place. It was not the only one to be making it's way there either. Once a year a group of merchants would meet on the out skits of a large village and set up camp for a week. They would pass along news, gossip, trade buy or sale items and goods.
"Still eager young one?" asked the merchant.
"Yes" replied the young caravan guard.
"This is no longer your first year nephew," the merchant said with a laugh, the wagon's reigns held loosely in his hands.
"True uncle, but I hope Shela will be there this year again," he said with a grin.
"Ahh young love," the Merchant said with a dramatic flair.
"Just because you are married Drakon and have children does not mean everyone us as wise and as experienced as you are." Commented a second caravan guard as he rode up to join the conversation.
"So speaks the man with no wife but a girl in every town and village I pass through. Tell me, how many children do you have now?" Drakon asked with a sly grin.
The second guard grunted. He didn't have much to say on that. Just looked anywhere but at the merchant.
Drakon laughed. "No words? No witty replies? Be blessed Makail, we are not as fortunate to have as many children. I an blessed with three only. The youngest no more then 10 years old."
"Maybe, but you are also long lived, what being a drow elf and all that." Makail pointed out.
"true, true. Your words are blessed by the light of Pelor's light. May it be eternal," Drakon said as he reached up to touch the holy symbol of Pelor, along with several others, he wore about his neck.
"Tell me Xoranth, do you plan on courting Shela?" Drakon asked his nephew.
"I hope so," Xoranth answered, "though I still think her father is not pleased with the idea. Her mother though is all for it from what I could tell from the last meeting we had."
"She likes the idea because it means she has a chance to get goods cheaper then anyone else if her daughter is married to someone that is related to a merchant." Makail added in.
"She doesn't know merchants very well does she?" Drakon asked with a smile.
"Must not." Makail replied with a knowing grin.
The rest of the trip was spent in friendly chatter. Once they reached the village then headed to the camping grounds so that they could set up the tents and stalls.
The first few days was always slow as merchants arrived and settled in for the two week long faire. Once all the merchants that were coming had arrived, things started to pick up. First things on the list was a general meeting to bring up any important news, debates or arguments between merchants and village folk. The second was to make sure all general rules were laid down for the event as well as any money conversion rates taken care of. Only after that did the event go into full swing. People coming from far and wide to take advantage of so many merchants in the same area.
It was also a way for merchants to seek husbands or wives for their children. To arrange either future marriages or to meet the perspective young folk that wished to become merchants or merchant caravan guards that had a chance to become future relatives. The young folk would also spend this time getting to know everyone and also finding out what the fashions were like in other areas of the world. Over all it was one big grand event.
The first day of the event, Xoranth made sure he was dressed his best as well as having the first item on the list of courting gifts. He then bid farewell to his uncle as he made his way to the village to speak with Shela's father.
Shela was half-elven. Her mother was human and her father an elf. That is why her father had such a hard time accepting that his only child had fallen in love with a Drow. But it was becoming harder and harder to deny her happiness. Every time Xoranth had managed to stop by he had made some type of excuse not to be there. This time though, Shela's mother Lunara had managed to contrive a reason for her not to be there, there for forcing Ashavon to deal with things. Needless to say, he was facing the most difficult decision ever in his long life.
"Sir," Xoranth said in way of polite greeting to the elder elf. "I know you do not like the idea, but I wish to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage."
Ashavon blinked in startlement as he nearly choked on his tea, "YOU WHAT??!?" he shouted when he was able to speak again.
"I wish your blessings in seeking Shela's hand in marriage. I love her and wish to marry her," Xoranth said calmly though inside he was more nervous then a green recruit facing his first real battle.
Ashavon thought it though and every time he tried to find someway of denying it, his consciousness would point out all the flaws in that reasoning till he had none left. Finally after minutes he grudgingly said yes. "But if I ever find out or even hear that you have hurt or upset her I will personally hunt you down!" he growled out.
"Thank you sir, Pelor be my witness, I will never intentionally do anything to make her unhappy." Xoranth practically shown with an inner glow, he was so happy. He would have continued on with his thanks but her father stopped him.
"Get out of here." Ashavon growled once more.
"Yes Sir, Thank you sir, Light bless your way sir!" and with that he was gone, searching for Shela.
When he managed to track her down she was with a group of girls from the Village. He grinned to himself as he followed them for several minutes. When the time was right he snuck up on her and wrapped his arms about her, spinning Shela around before setting her back on the ground. She whirled and slapped playfully at him.
"Sneaky Drow!" She said with a laugh.
"That I am," he replied as he pulled her close.
"So?" she asked.
"So?" he echoed back.
"So! What did Papa have to say?" She asked, holding her breath.
"Well he said "
Everyone around was listening in. They knew of the love the two shared and was just as curious as to what had been said.
"Yes." He grinned.
"Yes? He really said Yes!?" Shela could not believe it at first, then it sank in. "YES!!" She let out a delighted and giddy laugh as she practically leapt forward, hugging him.
He once again wrapped his arms about her waist and swung her about. When he put her down, he cupped her cheeks with his hands and placed a multitude of kisses across her cheeks, nose and forehead. Then he stepped back and knelt down as he pulled out a gold band from his pouch. "Shela Mystmoon, will you accept this token of my love and do me the honor of accepting it? I ask, under Pelor's Light, that you become my wife." He asked as solemnly as possible.
She thought about it for a moment, more to watch him squirm and wait then anything else, then she smiled so brightly that one would have thought Pelor himself was there. "Yes."
It soon was known though out the entire village and merchant gathering that Shela and Xoranth would be wed. All the women gathered together to plan out everything. From the hand fasting ceremony to the bridal party to the wedding and nuptial retreat afterwards. Shela and her mother, Lunara were already going from cloth merchant to cloth merchant looking for the right material for her bridal gown. In that same time Ashavon was meeting with Xoranth and his uncle Drakon to discuss other matters.
The next few days were a blur of activity. But there was a darkness watching the gathering. Watching and waiting for the right moment to strike. That darkness was in the form of a rather large Drow raiding party. Somehow a Drow City found out about the merchant gathering and had started planning a raid on it some years back. It was a way to get goods from the surface without spending any gold or gems for the items as well as gaining some means of power, prestige and wealth over others. The Raiding party had set up ambushes along the trails and roads that the merchants would use to leave as well as using it as a way to cut off the village from outsiders. When someone would leave they would wait till they were out of range of both the village as well as the gathering and strike, killing the persons and stripping them of everything. The bodies they would haul back with them to their camp and use the flesh to feed the pack beast. All they had to do was wait for the right time to strike the main gathering and the village.
It was the last night of the gathering, a time when all were celebrating happy events that occurred over the two weeks. Most of the villagers were also celebrating right along with the merchants. So no one expected, let alone was prepared for the attack. It was like a cloud of rolling darkness. Before anyone could react the torches, candles, lanterns and any other source of light was extinguished. Most died in that first minute of the attack. Those that survived the initial onslaught only lasted a few minutes longer. The Raiders though were under strict orders to bring back at least one of the two drow seen with the merchants, alive.
When the attack happened, Xoranth was with Shela. The pair were just leaving one of the parties that had been thrown in their honor. He had only a dagger with him at the time, and she was un-armed. A dozen drow raiders appeared around the two, blades flashed crimson from the blood of their victims. Before he could react, half were on him pummeling his with the hilts. Reeling, dazed and staggering he watched in horror and helplessness as his beloved was ripped away from him and butchered viciously.
With a scream he somehow threw his attackers off, gaining a blade in the process and started attacking. A battle cry to Pelor on his lips as a burst of bright light surrounded him. The drow drew back in stunned pain and were cut down. He had killed over two dozen raiders before a High priestess stepped in and used her unholy powers to render him unconscious.
Elsewhere, Drakon had been cut down along with the rest of the few defenders when the village had been attacked. Like the merchant gathering, they too had been completely wiped out to the last being. But unlike Xoranth, it was the blade of one of the villager that cut him down. From behind. That villager was none other then Ashavon, who moments later was slaughtered like the rest.
When dawn's light touched the scene it was a gruesome sight. Bodies everywhere, stripped of everything. Nothing was left but the empty husks of the houses. Everything had latterly been stripped and taken. None of the raiders bodies had even been left behind. The raid had been considered a success, even with the loss of a couple of dozen drow warriors. After all, if they could not survive a simple raid, then they did not need to live. The pack beast were loaded down with everything taken. Almost to the point of being overloaded. It would be a long journey back to the city.
Along the way back, the High Priestess took their pleasure torturing and abusing Xoranth, as well as taking their personal pleasures. Each time they camped they would heal him up then start all over again. Though they did this, they could not strip him of his necklace. The one with Pelor's symbol on it which glowed softly the entire time. One Priestess attempted it early on and as a result she lost her arm up to the elbow. No one could touch it without something happening to them. Even a High Priestess suffered from major burns to her hand.
When they reached the city, there was a large ceremony to welcome them back. Then the goods were divided amongst the houses. The Ruling First House of course getting the most as well as the best of it all. Then down the line it would go till there was nothing left. The only item not passed around was the prisoner. He was to go to the First house as a sacrifice, after they had their way with him that is. Among the information they wanted, was how to walk in the light and still keep all their powers, armor, weapons and abilities. They thought he was using some type of magical device or spell to allow him that.
After several more weeks of being used as a play thing for the females of the house as well as being tortured and healed again, his fate was sealed. He was to be the main sacrifice in the upcoming High Unholy ceremony.
When the day arrived, everything was in place. Every priestess, High priestess and Matron mother of the city was attending. No males anywhere in the House Temple. Matron Mother Zena had even been given the honor of driving the sacrificial dagger into Xoranth's heart when it was learned that they were related distantly and that he was the offspring of the hated betrayer.
Just as she was about to drive the dagger into his heart, he burst into an incandescent glow. The bonds that held him to the alter melted away as the alter itself started to sizzle and smoke. It's unholy blessings being distorted and cleaned by the pure light. The entire temple was thrown into chaos as everyone scrambled for a way out of the main chamber. As he floated above the alter, a deep male voice echoed though the room and everyone heard it.
"^The Purifying Light shall was away the foul darkness, showing the lighted path to goodness once more.^"
Then he burst into thousands of tiny motes of light that danced about the room. Wherever they landed, they would burn into it. Be it stone, cloth, leather or flesh. As for the necklace, it sank into the alter itself causing it to glow. For days afterward, the city was in chaos once more as rumors flew everywhere. In the temple, the priestess of the first house tried everything to dampen or even put out the glow from the now useless alter. Nothing worked. Spells would fizzle out, materials would burn up, even stone slabs would be melted away.
In less time then normal for a city such as this, the lesser houses turned on the fist house and destroyed it. The claim was that they betrayed the dark gods and brought in an unworthy sacrifice that offended the gods. And so it was that the houses moved up in rank and a new ruling house came to power. Though there was only a temporary reprieve from the dark dealings that went on every day in the city, everyone still knew about the glowing alter. No one was sure what to do with it. Then one day, just under eight months later, it stopped glowing and a new born child cry went unheard in the city.
"^Yes matron mother?^" asked the drow child, her eyes on the floor.
A hand flashed into view a moment before it connected with the child's face sending her sprawling to the floor. "^Look at me when I speak to you, you worthless child.^"
Rallain looked up as she was ordered to do. "^Yes matron Mother^" she said dutifully. The face she looked upon was old and wrinkled. The scar that ran down one side of the face making it uglier then normal for a drow of the matron Mother's age.
"^Now that I have your attention,^" said Matron Mother Zena in a snide, condescending voice, "^You will be given over to High Priestess Charris to continue your studies. You know where the temple is. What have you to say?^"
"^Thank you Matron Mother.^" Rallain said as she stayed where she was on the floor. She had yet to be given permission to leave.
"^Now GO!^" using a rough shove of magic to send the small child towards the chamber doors faster then need be. As soon as Rallain was gone, Zena sat back in her thrown. She had a fixed snarl on her face.
"^There is something not right about that one.^" High Priestess Charris said as she stepped from the shadows behind the throne. "^We do not even know who the father was.^"
"^It matters not. Your youngest sister begot an offspring before you. At least there is some chance the bloodline shall continue.^" Zena sneered at her eldest daughter.
Charris could not say anything for indeed she had tried on numerous occasions to get a child. All attempts had managed to fail. And every time the male in question was killed because of it. After all, it was never a High Priestess' fault that she did not succeed at something.
"^Go. I must meditate on what to do with her..^" the matron mother commanded.
"^Yes Matron Mother^" Charris said as she bowed then left the room.
Over the next several decades, Rallain was passed from teacher to teacher. Never did she excel at anything she was assigned to. Her magic skills was on average for a drow, and her divine powers was non existent. When it came to fighting, she was well able to defend herself, but she would not survive long against a greater or more skilled foe. In the end she was given over to the House Wizard to do with as he please. And he was delighted to get the girl, for while other drows were able to naturally cast certain spells, her abilities were slightly different. Instead of being able to cast only four dancing lights, she was able to cast twelve. Her fairy Fire was brighter then any he had ever seen and she was not able to cast Darkness at all. Instead she could cast light. He extracted the promise from her never to revel that little talent unless he commandeered her to do so, in exchange for letting her roam about as she pleases when he did not need her. She readily agreed and was out of the house exploring the city more often then not.
It was on one of these days that something drew her to the ruins of a house. She could not explain it, but somehow she managed to slip by every single city patrol and enter the ruins. She felt as if she was being guided to the old temple therein. When she looked about the place some small glimmer caught her eye. She carefully made her way over to the cracked alter and looked it over. Resting on top of the stone was a gold necklace with a small medallion on it. She looked about and cautiously reached a hand out. She felt nothing at first, then a sudden warmth radiated about it before a sudden flash of light blinded her. When she awoke, she was back in her room in the House having no memory of how she made it back. No one ever noticed that the former alter had crumbled into dust.
Several weeks passed with none the wiser as to what happened. Days went back to normal for her, until she was called before the matron Mother. When she arrived she noted that she was not the only one called. The House Weapons Master as well as the House Wizard and his current apprentice was present.
"^There is going to be a raid on the surface. Wizard, your apprentice shall be going, as well as Rallain.^" The Matron Mother said without pre-emblem. Her word was law in the house. She then dismissed them.
Once Rallain was out side the chamber she turned to look at the House Wizard, Arithon. "^Why am I going? I'm not of use to anyone going.^"
"^Never question the orders of the Matron mother, Rallain. It's the fastest path to death, or worse.^" Arithon replied as the pair made their way back to the wizard's rooms.
Inside the Chamber Charris was speaking with her mother, Zena. "^All is set. The payment was accepted. She will have a nasty accident while on the surface.^"
"^Good. This discussion never happened.^" Zena said as she turned and left the chambers.
Charris bowed and left also.
The trip to the surface for the raid was uneventful by Drow standards. Rallain stayed mostly alongside Arithon's apprentice. Sometimes she would walk ahead, sometimes behind. Though the only advantage she had was being female. No one dared touch her without fear of re-precisions from her house or the Priestess that was accompanying the party. For no matter how low ranking a female was, she always outranked a male. Though there was a few exceptions.
Once they reached the back section to a cave that led to the surface, they set up camp. The Sun was still up and they had a few hours in which to rest and prepare for the upcoming raid. They had planed it so the event took place on the dark of the moon. The only lights would come from the stars.
Unbeknownst to the raiding party a cleric at the local temple had had dreams of something happening on the dark of the moon and the entire town had prepared. The first time anything had happened like that the elders ignored the cleric's warnings and disaster struck. This time they were willing to listen.
And at the same time a ten day journey away by fast horse, a Paladin lay dreaming in his bed. He dreamed of being surrounded by total and complete darkness. Then a tiny, barely perceivable glimmer of light appeared in the middle of it all. As he watched, out of no where an evil presence appeared and that tiny glimmer was snuffed out. When he woke it was suddenly and he could not help but shiver. After several moments of just sitting there, he got up and started to pack. He had been graced with coming across a Paladin to be once before and had recognized the same feel from the dream. Somewhere out there, a potential paladin had appeared and the forces of evil were on the move to destroy him or her before they could become a threat. He knew he had to find that person before it happened.
Once packed for the journey, he left his room at the temple and stopped by one of the cleric's room. Knocking, he waited till the person on the other side opened the door. "What's wrong Erik?" She asked noting the look on his face as well as the fact he was in his armor and carrying a pack.
"Something's happening somewhere out there. A new paladin has coming into being and the vile darkness is on the move to destroy him or her. I must go so that I can prevent that from happening."
She let out a soft gasp, "Do you need someone to go with you?" she asked in concern. They had been long time adventuring partners before she settled down at this temple.
He thought about it a moment then shook his head. "I should be able to take care of it on my own. But I do ask that you pray for the new one and ask for Pelor's preotection for her"
"How do you know it's a her?" She asked.
He shook his head. "I just do I must be off"
"Good luck and May Pelor go with you." She said.
"Thank you." He replied, leaning over and giving her a gentle kiss on the cheek.
If neither of them had other callings before meeting, they might have settled down and have married. But as it was, both knew that Pelor was in their hearts and was the first love. Both knew that marriage would never truly work out. So they settled for being long time friends and lovers.
Back at the village, the raid was starting. The Drow slipped unseen between the shadows of the houses. Expecting to take the villagers by surprise, they were in turn surprised when out of nowhere, bright lights appeared, blinding and stunning most of them. The battle was engaged before the raiding drow had a chance. Arrows came out of the windows from the top houses and the roofs, taking down several of the drow before they could bring their weapons to bare. In that time they managed though to gather their wits and start retreating. Anyone in their path was cut down.
The assassin that was to kill Rallain took advantage of the chaos and stuck from behind, just as the big burly blacksmith stepped out of a doorway and swung his hammer at her. He caught both at the same time, sending them flying backwards from the impact. Because the assassin was behind when it happened, he was the one that landed on the bottom, on top of a pile of farming tools. The tines of the pitchfork spearing him though the heart and lungs, killing him. Rallain had landed on top of him, the bloody tines piercing though her armor and into her shoulders. Between that and the original blow from the hammer, she blacked out.
When she came to it was some minutes later. She could hear the sounds of battle start to fade as the villagers gave chase. Hissing in pain she managed to get up off the corpse, one arm wrapping about her chest as she tried to take a deep breath. She just knew she had some broken ribs from that hit. Shaking her head she winced at the sharp spike of pain that lanced though it. She must have hit it when she landed was all she thought as she gathered her wits and picked up her sword.
Rallain attempted to sneak out of the village but she was too disorientated at the moment. So instead of going towards the edges, she ended up going towards the center. Along the way she managed to hide from anyone she spotted by keeping to the dark shadows. When she saw that she had went the wrong direction she cursed softly and turned to go the other direction. Luck was not with her as she was spotted. She cursed again and made a run towards the edge, pain stabbing though her chest and shoulders. Before she got more then a hundred paces though her escape route was cut off. So she turned down the nearest alleyway. Again and again her route was blocked or cut off till she found herself at a dead end. Turning she found a mob of villagers, mostly human gathered. She bared her teeth in a growl and raised her blade in challenge.
The challenge was meet with laughter as several people moved forward, each was wielding a staff or spear. Something they could use to attack at a distance so that her deadly blade would not reach them. To them it became a game of how long the Drow could survive, to her it was a desperate attempt to survive.
For nearly twenty minutes she managed to fend off blows, till they got tired of it and attacked in mass. It took less then a minute for her to fall. Many were all for killing her and be done with it, but the village leader decided it would be more fun to torture the drow before killing it.
When Rallain came too again, she found herself stripped of everything, only the ragged pieces of an undershift covered her. Her wrists chained apart to two post and high enough up that she could not kneel without straining her shoulders. Someone had taken the time to even shear off her long hair, leaving behind patchy short stands. She could tell that the glowing disk of light the surface dwellers called the sun was nearing it's raise in the east. Her light sensitive eyes stinging already.
She could not help but cringe back the moment the sun came over the horizon. Though she did managed to bite back the pained cry as she shut her eyes and turned her head away. She would not let this bunch of uncivilized surface dwellers see how much pain she was in. She was Drow, and they were beneath her.
She was unaware of the temple Cleric watching her from the temple doorway. The cleric was not in favor of this method of torture, a clean death was one thing, but this was something else completely. She shook her head and returned to the inner sanctuary of the temple so that she could pray for forgiveness. For everyone.
The Paladin was still on the move when dawn arrived. He had covered a great deal of distance already in the hours before dawn. He felt his god's presence with him as he traveled. The land raced along under the hooves of his white steed, Xander. From dawn until dusk he traveled, only taking enough time to catch some rest, eat and take care of his mount before going on. It took him five days to reach the village where he sensed the presence of the paladin to be. It was dusk when he had arrived. The village seemed unexpectedly jubilant and festive.
He could sense, faint and weakly the presence of the paladin to be. When he made his way to the temple. Nodding greetings to those villagers he passed. When he came into the village square, he saw a person suspended between two chains and frowned. Before jumping to conclusions, he would speak with the cleric of the temple first. Along the way he received many offers of hospitality, but turned them down in favor of staying at the temple if possible, the Inn if not.
As he dismounted the Cleric of the temple came out to greet him. "Blessings to you good sir," she said. "How can we help you this eve?"
"Greetings, and Pelor's blessings to you also. I've come on search and I was lead here. Perhaps I can ask for a room for the night? It has been a long hard journey to reach here in time," he said as he patted his mount's shoulder in thanks.
"By all means, I shall prepare a room right away. There is a small stable around the back of the temple that you can settle your companion in while I do so," she said.
"Many thanks. Once we are both settled, perhaps you can tell me of the goings on here of late."
"Oh indeed, indeed. I was just about to have supper when you arrived. We can speak over supper about it. It's best not to be spoken of in the open I'm afraid."
"That bad?" he asked raising an eyebrow.
She shook her head and shrugged ever so slightly.
"Aahh" he nodded and turned, leading his mount to the small stable.
When he entered the temple he nodded to the cleric as she pointed towards one of the side doors. "The door on your right, second down is yours."
"Thank you." He said as he headed that direction, his armored footsteps resounding in the small temple. Once in his room he took the time to remove the armor and freshen up, changing into a clean set of cloths. By the time he was finished and had returned to the main room, supper was laid out on one of the small side tables. After they sat, thanks was said for the food and the ate quietly. It was only after the meal had been finished was other things spoken of.
"Tell me of the local events if you could. I am curious as to who or what that one is that is hanging from the post in the square." Erik said.
The cleric stood up to put away the dishes and food. "Five days ago, a Drow raiding party attacked the village."
"And yet the village is still here?" Erik asked in astonishment. It was well know that when drow attacked, there were no survivors. "How many were killed?"
"Yes, I have been given dreams of what is to come from time to time so we were prepared for the attack. We only lost about a dozen villagers. They were unfortunately in the path of the retreating drow. It is hard to believe, but the one you saw on your way in is the only living drow to have been taken. Though she put up quiet a fight and had been injured prior to her capture," she said, then let out a sigh. "If she had been cleanly killed, I would not have said a word or even complained, but the headman had decided to have a bit of sport with her. Thank all the gods they did not attempt to rape her. That would have had all the women of the village up in arms!"
"They torture her? How? And by the gods why?" Erik asked. What seemed like a simple quest to find a new paladin has turned out to be much more.
"They staked her out after stripping her of everything. I believe the notion is, that it should be death by sunlight. As for why they believe it should be revenge for the Drow turning their backs on Pelor" She said shaking her head sadly. "I have done all that I could do for her short of delivering the killing stroke. I can only wait till one of the temple officials decide to come to see what to do about it. But I am afraid that by then, the damage will have been done. These villagers are for the most part good, law abiding people. I do not wish to see them descend into being what they hate."
"I see Perhaps I was sent here to help." He thought about it a moment and decided to tell her about why he was here truly. "Five days ago, I dreamt of a vile darkness crushing the light of a potential paladin. The urgent need to travel struck me and I followed it here. Could I have been too late to save that one?" he glanced at the woman.
She shook her head. "I cannot say. I am not blessed with your ability to sense other paladins, be it of Pelor's or another god's chosen. But none of those that were killed every struck me as being well good material." She held up her hand to forestall any comments. "I do not mean that they were not good, for they were. I mean they did not seem to fit into the path that one must follow."
He nodded in understanding. "Perhaps after a night of sleep, I can shed some light on this mystery." He watched at the cleric gathered a small bowl of water and several rags. "Can I give you a hand in cleaning the supper plates?"
"Oh, this is for the drow. I cannot condone such cruelty so I check on her every night before retiring to sleep and every morning after waking. I expect to find her dead, but somehow she still lives, though weakly. I have seen the children throw stones and refuse at her when they believe no adults are looking." The Cleric said as she made sure all was there.
"A pity. Would you mind if I accompany you?"
"Not at all." The cleric smiled in thanks.
It was close to the midnight hour when the pair made their way to where Rallain was chained. When the two arrived, Erik had a feeling that this was the person to whom he was searching for. But that was nearly impossible. Never in the history of the Temple of Pelor had there ever been a Drow Paladin! Yes there had been worshipers that were drow some decades back, but never a paladin amongst them. He could not help but wince at the state she was in, especial when she flinched from the cleric's touch as if she expected to be hit. What had these people done? To show such cruelty to another living being was not justifiable in his mind.
"May I?" he asked the cleric gesturing to the rags and bowl of water.
She nodded and held out the rag, she would hold the bowl for him. "I always start on her face, that way she can have something to drink as well." She said softly.
He nodded in reply as he took the rag and put it in the bowl, once it was soaked he wrung most of the water out and gently reached his hand out. He wince again as she flinched away from his touch. He took her chin and gently forced her head up. Her skin was hot to the touch. Her lips were cracked and bleeding while her eyes were glued shut due to the tears that had been shed and dried up. With care he dabbed the wet rag against her lips, making sure he squeezed it so that several drops landed on them. He repeated it several times before she got the idea and willingly parted her lips to lick at the moisture.
Once the cleric and he finished the task, they returned to the temple. An idea was forming in his mind, but he needed to pray for guidance before he took action that could be seen as drastic in some eyes.
That night he once again, dreamed of the darkness and the glowing ember. This time he stepped in and prevented the vile blackness from extinguishing it. He watched as it continued to flicker dimly until he picked it up. Cupping it in his hands he softly blew across it, fanning the flames to brightness. The moment he did, the glow brightened noticeable. Letting go and stepping back he watched as it hovered there, continuing to grow brighter and brighter till the white light eclipsed the darkness. He awoke with a beam of early morning sunlight in his face. He knew what he had to do and gave thanks to Pelor for guiding him. As soon as he was up he dressed in his best garments as well as his armor. He then gathered his things and went in search of the cleric.
"I know what must be done," he said before she could greet him.
"The heavens be praised! Tell me what I can do to help and I will get on it," she said with a glad smile.
"Could you saddle Xander for me and pack me a weeks worth of traveling rations? I plan on taking the Drow with me when I return to my home Temple. SHE is the one I was searching for," he said.
"Her? Do you mean she is the Paladin??" the cleric gasped. Never had she heard of such.
He nodded. "I did not believe it myself until I received another dream. As much as I hate to deceive the villagers, it may be for the best if she is to have a chance."
The cleric agreed and went to start packing the food. Erik went to the temple alter and knelt in prayer until she returned to let him know everything was ready. "Here. Take this blanket also. If she is sunburned as badly as I think she is, she will be highly susceptible to cool air or weather."
"Thank you." He said taking it.
"No, thank you. All I ask is letters informing me of her progress once you make it back. It will do me good to know that I had a hand in something of this nature." She replied with a smile.
"That I can easily do." With that the pair made their way out to the square. He nodded at her when she reached the alarm bell and started to ring it. Within moments the square started to fill with the villagers.
"Hear me people of this village. I was sent here to retrieve this drow so that Pelor may have his justice." He said loudly. Murmurs broke out from that announcement. "I am taking her back with me today." With that he drew his sword and with two hits, shattered the chains that held her up. He hid the wince well when she hit the ground hard as he turned his back. Accepting the reigns from the cleric he swung up into the saddle as she took the blanket and covered the drow with it.
There were many demeaning comments about what was going on. The least of which was that he did not want to touch the evil creature so that was why the blanket was used. He nodded to the cleric as he accepted the blanket covered drow. With false disregard of her injuries and such, he saluted the crowd gathered then urged his mount out of the village at a fast pace.
Only after he was well away from the place did he slow down. Turning her over so that he could cradle her against his chest as he rode, he pulled the blanket back away from her face and shook his head before covering her face once more. When he reached a spot to camp, then he would tend to her injuries and such with greater care.
When Rallain awoke clearly for the fist time since the raid on the village, she discovered that things were indeed just as bad as she feared. She was wrapped in a rough material, her hands bound still, being carried and was blindfolded. She started to struggle against her captor uttering curses in drow. She hear whatever was carrying her utter something, but she new not the language nor did she currently want to know it.
"^Let Go of me or so help me I will kill you, you ogre's offal!^" she growled in a rough voice.
"Well, it seems she has awoken," Erik commented to his mount, Xander. The horse just snorted and kept on walking as if nothing was going on. He tried several different languages before she stopped struggling and tilted her head slightly.
"~What say you?~" she replied in goblin.
"~Name I ask.~" he said again.
"~Why? So kill can? Think not I! Go of me Let! Or by hands Die mine!~" She growled.
"~Think not little one. With me you go.~" he told her.
"~Little? Little! Not I Little!~" she said offended that he thought her to be a child. She hated being treated like a child.
"~Then name tell me? Called~ Erik ~am I.~"
She was silent, giving a good impression of sulking.
He laughed softly at her reaction and they continued on their way. Over the course of the trip he managed to gain her trust as well as her name. He had to explain to her several times before she accepted that she was blindfolded to prevent further damage to her eyes because of the light. He had the feeling she hated being unable to do anything for herself and that she was hiding how much pain she was in.
By the end of nearly two weeks journey, they had reached the city of his home
temple. From there, it would be an interesting learning experience for everyone.
Most of all for Rallain LightBringer.