Disclaimer: Drow elves, the Underdark, hook horrors, Lolth and anything else you recognize belong to Wizards; scenes and descriptions belong to the wonderful imagination of R. A. Salvatore. Riddit is mine, but I'm not really sure I want him. The X-files, Dana Scully and Fox Mulder belong to the writers and creators of the series and Fox TV (and I would take Mulder, if he were offered!).

A/N: At the time of this writing I've just finished the Dark Elf Trilogy by R. A. Salvatore. I haven't read anything else in the Forgotten Realms series, so if I've gotten anything wrong, please let me know. If you must flame, please make it constructive. Also, my son, the one who got me interested in this aspect of FR, said there were so many fics out there making Drow 'nice guys' and just like Drizzt, that I thought I'd make mine a different kind of Drow fiction.

Riddit looked out of his hiding place, shielding his eyes from the glare of the artificial illumination used by the humans of this strange plane of existence. The young Drow had been separated from his group as they returned from a surface raid and had wandered through many passages and caves before exiting the dark underworld into this odd place. The raid had been a disaster; their cleric, who had been injured in a battle with some denizens of the Underdark, had sustained a head injury. They'd gone on anyway, at the stupid Elderboy's insistence. The cleric, now confused and muddled, had misjudged the timing, bringing the entire patrol through the split in the stone into the cave in the middle of the huge, fiery orb's passage through the sky. The Elderboy had compounded the error by being too eager! When he'd heard the songs of the surface dwellers practically at the entrance of the cave, he'd ordered them to charge, right into the light! The warriors had been blinded and in pain, an easy target for the evil Men and surface Elves who seemed to have been expecting them. Most of the party had been decimated, including the stupid, Lolth-damned cleric and the arrogant Elderboy! His house now had a new Elderboy, Riddit had thought maliciously. Riddit had been at the rear of the charge from the cave, which had probably saved his life. There had been several Drow bodies between him and their evil attackers as he retreated.

Riddit had scrambled through the winding passage, not remembering having come this far. He could hear the pursuit behind, but still saw no sign of the portal through the stone to the relative safety of the Underdark. As his eyes adjusted again to the dark, he finally picked up on the infrared signature of the portal. The variation of the heat in the cool stone showed easily where Riddit could slip through. He spared barely a second to glance around for any comrades, but he was now alone. Too bad for them, he mused grimly. Drow life was about survival, and if the fools hadn't been able to make it, it was their bad luck. Awkwardly sheathing his sword, he'd thrown himself into the snug passage, wondering briefly how he would find his way home.

Riddit was of a minor family, and a commoner at that. He wasn't in a position to be privy to, let alone be able to understand the highly detailed directions to reach this passage to the surface world. He was a common soldier who had had the bad fortune to be nearby when the Elderboy of the family had come looking for volunteers for a surface raid. Little time or monies had been expended on Riddit's training beyond the basic weapons training each house provided to its army. He understood battle, but didn't excel at it. He also understood that he was just so much orc- fodder to the nobles of the family. Riddit's chosen weapon, the sword, felt cumbersome to his hand at best. At worst, such as when he was confronting an opponent of superior skill, his sword was heavy and unresponsive. Thus, when he'd found himself alone after the disastrous failed raid, he had worried about traversing the Underdark alone. A patrol of Drow warriors inspired fear in almost any creature of the Underdark, but a single warrior, badly accoutered and uncomfortable with his weapon would be an easy mark. Riddit needn't have worried.

He'd known almost instantly that he'd entered the wrong passage. Turning swiftly, he was just in time to see the portal snapping shut in front of him. Knowing the futility of his actions, he had rushed the wall anyway. He pounded against the cool, unyielding stone until his knuckles were bloodied and his hands numb. Cradling them against his chest, he pulled back to kick instead. Two or three kicks and the agonizing pain slicing up his leg convinced him finally to leave off such a pointless attack. It would not help him, and the sound of his anger and frustration would only draw unwelcome attention. Placing his back to the wall and sliding into a crouching position, Riddit had finally done the one thing he was passably good at; he thought. He wasn't good in battle, and didn't have the gift of thinking swiftly while under attack, but given time and quiet, he could usually form a passable plan of action

A huge, lumbering monster of a vehicle roared past Riddit's hiding place, bringing his thoughts back to the present. Or whenever this plane of existence was. He'd wandered the huge cavern system for an unknown length of time before entering a chamber that actually had a passage to the surface. He'd avoided that passage until all the food in his pack had been consumed, still looking for a way that would take him down toward his home city. This new stone chamber had been vast, almost as large as the descriptions he'd heard of Menzoberranzan, but was riddled with pockets, tunnels and smaller caves. None of these had led anywhere save the one to the surface. Finally, hunger and thirst drove the Drow to forage above.

He'd entered a long, cylindrical tunnel with smooth sides and foul smelling water running along the floor. The ceiling was high, measuring well above Riddit's head. He imagined that even a hook horror could traverse this passage with little trouble. Smaller tunnels emptied more of the vile liquid into this larger passage from high in the ceiling and Riddit had understood that this was the waste system of the surface world. He was walking through a sewer!

It had been more than one full cycle of the smaller orb in the sky since Riddit had first braved the surface, and he was now tired of living off a diet of foul, stinking water and sewer rats. He was a Drow! A warrior of one of the families of Ust Natha! A minor member of the house, true. His house was only the twentieth house of the thirty in the city and his matron a fat, lazy, unambitious creature. But he was a Drow all the same. And even the humblest, meanest male Drow was better, more important that the most important human. He should not be cowering in a filthy sewer, but out there, in the city that spread before him, pillaging, plundering and raping for the greater glory of Lolth, the Spider Queen!

The problem was that this city was unlike anything he'd ever seen or heard of before. Light was everywhere, even after the horrible fire orb had descended and left the open space overhead empty save a few flickering twinkles or the pale, smaller orb in the sky. The juncture of every vehicle path had lights on each corner. Some were variable of red, green and yellow, but most were tall and bright. The houses huddled along these paths also boasted of lights. Light by the doorway, light over the strange vehicle storage house, and, in some cases, lights along the stone paths up to the door. Even the vehicles, hulking monstrosities that Riddit had taken for some surface monster at first, had lights.

That was bad enough for the Dark Elf, whose eyes still smarted and watered at the rising of the orb, even when dark, moisture filled clouds covered its brilliance. Worse was the overwhelming NUMBER of humans! Even in the distance that he could walk within the space of an hour there were more humans than there were Drow in all of Ust Natha! They were everywhere! And they never seemed to sleep. They were traveling in their vehicles, or walking with their canine companions, or, in the case of the youth, they traveled in packs, like the animals they were, and preyed on their fellow humans.

Riddit shook his head at the strangeness of these humans. Their vast numbers would have made them formidable enemies but they were weak and untrained. These humans didn't even carry any weapons, except the packs of youths, who seemed bent on exterminating one another with hand knives and strange, loud devices that struck from afar. Riddit had witnessed several of these attacks before he understood that the device was some sort of hand held weapon that shot a projectile, and not a work of magic. These humans also wore no armor to speak of. Their clothing for the most part was light, not very durable. And most of the humans he'd observed didn't even take proper precautions against the simplest of attacks. They wandered about, going through their normal activities as though they weren't under constant menace. Riddit couldn't even imagine what that must be like. Although only a minor member of his house, he had, even as a child, been conditioned to be always on guard, to never trust anyone else, especially not another Drow. These humans weren't even child-like in their serenity and complacency; they were infantile. And they deserved to be pillaged and raped! Even the lowliest, worst trained Drow (and Riddit was uncomfortably aware that he might number in that category) was immeasurably more skilled and deadly than the best-trained human!

Riddit rolled his head on his shoulders, trying to relieve the muscle strain caused from these weeks of being displaced and homeless. He was tired of it and wanted nothing more than to wade into the community above him and lay waste to every creature he could get his hands on! Well, he amended, ALMOST every creature. He'd not been in the sewers more than a day or two when he saw her!

She was tall for a woman, even by human standards. Her skin was like the smooth ebony perfection of polished onyx. She had straight, even teeth in a well-shaped generous mouth and her eyes were a deep brown, almost black. The difference in her heritage was easily discernable in the high, rounded cheeks, the soft curve of the ears and face, and the full, curved body. Her hair, as well, proclaimed her human background. Where Riddit and all other Drow had straight white hair, this human's hair was short, tightly curled and glistening with color. The first time Riddit had seen the human woman, he'd felt something he'd not felt for any of the females of his own house: desire. This woman was no Drow. No snake-headed force whip would flay him if he dared touch her. She could not steal the life from his body with a single killing spell. In fact, in the hierarchy of the human world, men were the equals of, and in some cases the superior of women!

Riddit knew he could overpower her easily and take whatever he wanted from her without consequences. And tonight, after hours of planning and watching, after several evolutions of the fire orb, he, Riddit of House Fel'laks, twentieth house of Ust Natha, would take this human woman, use her as he would, and then discard her! Or, perhaps if he were feeling generous, he would allow her to live. She would be made to feel the honor of serving a Drow! His slender frame shuddered at the thought of taking the human woman, and his urgency made his hands unsteady as he reached for his sword and armor.

He'd laid aside the items to bathe himself, almost a ritual bathing for the beginning of a mission. He sneered to himself. Ritual if one could ignore the stench of the human waste surrounding him. As he lifted the second- hand armor, he paused. She was merely a human; she did not rate the bother. The sword, as well, was ignored as Riddit instead stuffed the small dagger he'd taken from a human youth into his boot. He would easily sneak up on her and overpower her. Donning what was left of his clothing and magical cloak, Riddit moved to the iron rails set into the walls of this strange tunnel. It was almost time to go.

She was glad that it was Friday. She'd been working the hospital's evening shift for a month now, and she was looking forward to four days off before going on the night shift. There had been some trouble in the neighborhood lately. Kids missing, stores robbed, dogs and cats slaughtered apparently for no reason. And no one had seen or heard anything! This neighborhood had been a good one at one time, but now it was going to hell. Just yesterday she could swear she'd been followed from the employee entrance to her car, although she hadn't seen anyone. She'd just felt-something. Always careful (and paranoid, she admitted to herself) she made certain to look around the parking lot before going to her car, she checked the interior of the vehicle, and she always stayed in the locked car until her garage door had closed completely. She was certain this was why she had never been mugged, carjacked or suffered any of the countless other small horrors that accompanied life in the big city.

She was wondering, though, if it wasn't time to listen to her sister and brother and move back to the small town of their birth. Everyone knew everyone there, which was one reason for leaving. But strangers were easily identified, and crime was almost non-existent. On the downside was that her old high-school sweetheart had married her ex-best friend and they were now happily raising a herd of children. It didn't make her feel better that she had been the one to call off the engagement; she just hadn't been ready for the commitment and was tired of small town life. She'd wanted excitement and had come to the city for it. That didn't mean the sneaking so and so had to go off and marry her best friend! Not that she still cared. She had wanted the excitement of city life, and she'd gotten it. It wasn't exactly what she'd expected, though, with the high prices, the crime, and the anonymity. It had taken months to make any real friends, and she still had only two. But city life certainly wasn't worth her life!

Sighing at these useless reflections, she scanned the parking lot once again, still feeling that sense of being watched. She considered calling for a taxi to pick her up, but she couldn't see a soul in the nearly deserted space. There were only a few cars left, and hers was close to the door. She would just keep her eyes open. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out her keys and had the door key ready.

The trip across the few yards of paved asphalt had never seemed longer. Her crepe-soled nursing shoes barely whispered over the ground, but they might have been the crashing of drums to her nervous ears. She tried to look everywhere at once, telling herself firmly that if she were too nervous, she would drop the keys and then where would she be? She was almost there, only a foot away from her car when the dark hand reached out and wrapped itself around her mouth.

Riddit was mildly surprised. This woman showed more caution than any other human he'd ever seen. He could see her looking around, knew she'd sensed him somehow. Perhaps she would have made a decent warrior with the proper training. More quietly than a cloud passing across the sun, Riddit slid behind the woman. He could almost smell her nervousness and fear. She was afraid for her life! That was good! It was very good for a woman to fear him! He was Riddit! Drow Warrior and conqueror of this strange human world. But she didn't even know what she should fear, yet. If he'd wanted her dead, she would already be lying at his feet in a bloody heap. He would take this woman for his and she would fear him and worship him, he thought in malicious glee! She was almost to her vehicle, her hand visibly trembling as she reached for the locking mechanism. He saw in her infrared emanations that she was feeling relief. She thought the danger past. His cruel smile grew broad as he reached out for her. The danger was just beginning!

She was spun around and slammed into the car, her keys knocked from her hand and her breath knocked from her body. She looked at the being standing before her and tried to scream, but couldn't force any sound out. It was shorter than she by almost a head. Despite the long, flowing white hair, she was sure this creature was male. But not human. At least not any type of human she'd ever seen. His evil eyes were red, leering at her. His face was sharp and cruel, and despite the height difference he was frighteningly strong. She fought his hold, but it was like trying to fight off iron shackles. He laughed at her meager efforts. There was no humor in his face, however. He looked contemptuous. Releasing her arms, he placed one horridly strong, slender hand on her chest and shoved her against the car door, holding her as easily as if she were a fly on a pin. She shuddered as his eyes crawled over her, and she thought she might actually pass out when he lifted his other hand to her skirt.

Riddit savored her fear. It was rolling off of her in waves of light and dark heat patterns. He could see it and smell it. He would enjoy this! As he reached for her, he laughed again, realizing that she wasn't even fighting anymore. Her arms were merely clutched around the oversized leather pouch most women seemed to carry. Riddit touched the soft material of her garment, ready to rip it off when she began to fight again. Puny, weak thing that she was, he ignored it. Until he felt the blasting heat and overwhelming pain directly to his chest!

Riddit flew back, his chest heaving and burning, the scraps of his shirt and cloak smoldering and smoking around two small holes over his heart. What had she done? He could barely move as shocks and spasms continued to wrack his body. She was moving, grabbing the small metal pieces she'd dropped and trying to enter the vehicle! Riddit had to stop her! But his body wouldn't obey him! He couldn't stand, and he couldn't pursue! Then the nausea began. Helplessly drawing himself into a tight ball, Riddit heaved until he thought his insides would explode.

She was sobbing hysterically and could barely keep the car on the road. He'd meant to rape her, she was sure. And she couldn't have done anything about it! The creature, a devil from Hell, she was sure, had been enormously strong, and she hadn't had a chance to even try to defend herself. So much for those karate classes, she thought wildly, taking a deep breath and gripping the wheel more tightly. Thank God for the stun- gun her sister and brother had sent her last Christmas! The creature might be unnaturally strong, but it wasn't immune to a billion volts of electricity. She only wished it would have stopped the thing's heart, as well. But, no, she'd seen it trying to stand as she'd skidded out of the parking lot.

That was it! She was going home, locking the doors and not setting foot out until daylight. Then she'd call her brother, a member of the local police force, and tell him to bring the truck. The hospital could complain all they wanted about two weeks notice, but she wasn't staying another day if she could help it! Pressing the button for the automatic garage door, she pulled inside and closed it. Then she cowered inside the locked car for another twenty minutes until she finally forced herself out and into the house. Locking every door and window and even dragging the couch over to block the front door, she locked herself in her tiny bedroom and sat, wide-eyed and frightened in the corner, waiting for daylight.

Riddit couldn't believe a human female had bested him! How!? She'd hit him with some sort of spell, he thought at first, but realized that couldn't' have been. He'd seen that these humans, unlike the humans of his own plane, didn't have magic. They didn't have snake whips. They didn't have warrior training. So what had she done? Groaning against the pain, he pulled himself into a sitting position, feeling vulnerable. He didn't have armor or weapon and now he felt impossibly weak, downed by a pitiful human female! By Lolth! It wasn't to be borne!

After a moment, the Dark Elf caught his breath and hauled himself to his feet. He knew where this female lived. He knew he'd frightened her. And like all frightened animals, she would go to ground and hide in her burrow. Riddit's eyes slitted and the smile on his face would have sent a hook horror running for cover. He would return to his hiding place and recover his armor and sword, and then he would show the foolish human what happened to those who dared hurt a Drow. Especially if they were foolish enough to let the Drow live! There were several hours of dark remaining this night. He had plenty of time to take his revenge.

His red-tinged eyes glowed as he saw his target's house. He had to laugh at the pathetic homes the humans built themselves. All those low windows. Doors of wood, without a bar inside to secure it. Not even decent fences; just the small linked chain or wooden pickets that were more decorative than functional. He would be inside her home in seconds. There were no lights on, but he couldn't really blame her for that. Being a creature of light, she would naturally hide in the dark. But his Drow eyes would have no problem with the dark inside the house. If anything, it would make his task easier.

Riddit adjusted his armor, smoothing his hand over the finely wrought metal links that made barely a sound when he moved. The armor was second hand, but it was made of well-wrought steel and it had served him well enough. He had brought his sword, as well, but would probably not need it. Now that he knew to avoid the human's pouch, he would quickly subdue her and use her for his needs. Then he would kill her! Her death would be slow and agonizing; no more than she deserved for the pain and humiliation she'd caused him.

Looking both ways for the huge vehicles, Riddit crossed the roadway as far from the glare of the lighting as possible. As he pushed open the gate that led to the rear of the house, he heard the sudden snarl and barking of canines. Slamming himself against the side of the house, Riddit drew his sword and scanned the dark for their heat emanations. But he saw nothing! The barking stopped and he moved again. Again the canine barks resounded around him. Still he couldn't see any shapes that could belong to the four legged beasts. Then it dawned on him. It was an alarm of some sort to scare away common thieves! Riddit was no common thief and the silly human trick wouldn't work on him. Now smiling, he crept silently to the back of the house, ignoring the further outburst of canine alarm. The woman probably realized he'd found her, but she was trapped, now. Riddit studied the large glass door that opened into dining area. He could see that the door slid on metal tracks and that lifting it from the tracks would be an easy task. So bent was he on the task at hand and on planning what he'd do to the woman, Riddit missed the thin, almost heatless beam of light that passed across the threshold only an inch or so above floor level. Lifting the heavy glass door easily, he chuckled at the woman's ignorance. She hadn't even drawn the stiff sectioned blinds that would have made an uncomfortable amount of noise. Setting the door aside, Riddit drew his sword and slipped into the house.

Suddenly a barrage of sound battered his keen elven ears. Bells, whistles, whoops of noise assaulted him from everywhere. He crouched into a battle stance even as his hands came up to cover his ears. And the light! It was worse than anything he'd ever experienced. Bright, blinding flashes of lights struck him, sending him reeling in pain! By Lolth! He was under attack! He had to be! Swinging blindly, he struck a large glass bottle resting on a stand, shattering it and sending water cascading over himself and the floor. He tried to move away, but the smooth floor tiles were now covered with water. His foot came down on a large, jagged shard of glass and he jumped back, howling at the pain that shot up his leg. His boots, worn to almost nothing by his continued trekking through the sewers and exposure to light, slid over the slick, wet tile floor and he was thrown jarringly to his back.

As his head struck the floor with a resounding crack, he realized that this was yet another trick! Covering his eyes with an arm, he dragged himself to his feet and took up the sword again. He could feel the heat coming at him in blasts from the light sources. Shielding his eyes as best he could, he located the boxes high on the wall and, with an angry swipe of his blade, sheered the boxes from the wall. He couldn't do anything about the noise, but at least now he could use his eyes again. His head ached from the onslaught of noise and light, as well as from the crack on his head. He would make the woman pay dearly for daring to assault a Drow warrior, not once, but twice now!

Scanning the dark again, he could see her heat trail leading down a corridor. He yanked the long, deadly looking hook of glass from his foot and tucked it into his leather belt-pouch. Ignoring the continued blaring of the alarms, he followed the trail and came to a flimsy door. It was locked, but that didn't slow Riddit for long. He stepped back and gave a mighty kick just beside the knob. The pain exploded from his injured foot, but he barely felt it in his rage. The door flew open to crash against the wall, plaster and bits of wood flying. Riddit rushed into the room, sword high, his battle cry exploding from his lips.

The woman stood frozen on the far side of the room holding her hands to her chest. Her eyes were wide with fear and he could see the fear emanations rolling off of her again. It made his blood pound to see her reaction! He was about to spring on her when he noticed she was holding a small, rectangular object that she seemed to be pointing right at his heart. His sword dipped slightly as he paused. Was this what she'd used to attack him earlier? But she was a mere human. Surely now that he was on guard he could disarm her easily! Before he could move, however, she pressed something, some button, on the rectangle and Riddit steeled himself for the pain.

Instead, he was assaulted by noise and light again, from directly behind. Whirling as the house Weapons Master had taught him, he brought his steel sword around in a tight arc and droved it hard and deep into the small box he'd barely noticed before. Glass shattered and sparks flew! Riddit only had a second to be confused, though, because as he wrapped a hand around the blade guards, the solid steel blade guards, to withdraw the weapon he felt pain and burning as he'd never felt before in his life! The box seemed to hiss and sizzle, and Riddit thought he was sizzling as well. His hands gripped spasmodically at the sword hilt and his face was drawn into a death's head grin of pain. He was transfixed by the voltage passing from the box through his sword and into his wet, armor-clad body. He couldn't even move his eyes, but he noted vaguely at his periphery that the woman was now standing beside him, screaming and shrieking while she hefted a long, slender club in a smooth, practiced manner. She swung, but Riddit could do nothing to stop her. He could only watch as she brought the club down across the blade of his sword, snapping it at the hilt. The jolting pain stopped, but he felt as if he were burning from the inside out! The woman hefted the weapon again and swung at him this time. He didn't even feel the blow when it struck across his arms and took him hard in the chest. He couldn't feel anything except the burning in his entire flesh!

She hadn't known what to expect. She'd been watching TV, trying to calm down, when the outside alarms had gone off. She knew she should call 911, but she had shut off the TV, backed into the wall and just frozen, the remote still in her hand. Then the inside alarms had sounded and she almost passed out. He'd smashed into her room a moment later, a darker shadow against the inky blackness inside her house. His shape had been barely discernable, but she was vividly reminded of some television show she'd seen a few years ago that had scared her shitless. It had scared her so badly, in fact, that her mind fixated on it right now, dragging the memory back from the depths she'd consigned it to.

It had been about some creatures that inhabited the forests of Vermont or Virginia or somewhere on the east coast. They could see in the dark and their eyes glowed redly. She suddenly remembered the episode! It was from the X-files and Agent Scully had one of the demons hiding behind the bed in her hotel room. Fortunately, Mulder had arrived and they'd left for the airport before the demon could get Scully. And now there was a demon in her own bedroom and no handsome federal agent to rescue her. Her hands clenched in fear and she accidentally turned the TV back on. What happened next shocked her out of her fear.

The devil spun and spitefully destroyed her brand new television! At that moment, she came unhinged. Reaching for her softball bat, she charged the evil thing, realizing only at the last moment that the thing was being electrocuted. That stopped her for only a second.

"You son of a bitch!" she screamed frantically. "I just bought that TV! Do you KNOW how much those things cost!?"

Yelling and screaming, she swung first at the blade still impaled in her poor set, then at the devil himself. As he flew back to land in a smoking heap, she continued to shriek.

"Hospital softball MVP," she shouted, hefting the bat once more and poking a thumb to her chest. "They didn't give me that for sitting on my ASS, you know!"

The devil twitched and jittered and she finally realized that she was standing over the creature, yelling hysterically. She looked down at him, panting and close to panic-stricken sobs. A devil! That was what this creature had to be! She watched as the smoke rose from his sodden clothing in curling tendrils, wondering if she should have just let him fry. He had to be a devil. His sharp, pointed ears and face, the inhuman strength, the foul stench that clung to him like the stink from the bowels of the earth all marked him as a devil from Hell! And the devil was twitching and smoldering on her bedroom carpet! What should she do now?

Shaking uncontrollably and keeping her bat in one hand, she cautiously stepped around him and fumbled in her chest of drawers. Dragging out every set of stockings she could lay hands to, she turned back to the creature and prodded him with the bat. He groaned, but didn't move. Cautiously, she made a loop in one stocking leg and slipped it over his feet. He twitched, but didn't react otherwise. Prodding and pushing him onto his stomach, she pulled his feet up until his heels were touching the backs of his thighs. She then grabbed one hand and yanked a loop of stocking around it, then the other. She jumped away, shivering and gasping. She was shaking like a leaf, but she had to finish the job. She secured his hands with more stockings, then, growing more confident as she continued, she tied his legs together at the knees and tied a dozen more knots around his wrists.

Finally finished, she backed to the bed and scrambled over it. Snapping on the lamp, she snatched the phone from its cradle and started dialing 911, but stopped. She took a deep breath and dialed the telephone number on the back of her brother's police cruiser. After a nearly incoherent conversation, she replaced the phone and backed into the corner again. She kept her bat ready as she waited for the cavalry to arrive.

Riddit thought his head would explode! Not only were all the fires of the Nine Hells burning under his skin and in his vitals, but light was burning right through his eyelids, searing into his brain. What was wrong with him? What had happened to him? Had an entire band of rival Drow overcome him? Had the matron mother flayed him with one of her enchanted whips? He forced one eye open a crack and saw the unfamiliar weave of a deep-pile carpet. Carpet? Where was he?

Then it all came back! The human woman! No woman, she, but a sorceress! That was the only explanation for a mere human besting him! Unless she were a demon. Riddit shook with the sudden thought. What if he hadn't entered a passage to a different plane, but had actually entered one of the Nine Hells!? Each of the Nine Hells had its own torturous setting, and he had to have entered Chaos! How else could the human woman, so Drow-like in her coloring and her actions, have caused him such pain?

Riddit knew he had to escape. He had to get out of this accursed place and back to the Underdark, where he at least understood the dangers! But when he tried to push to his feet, he found his arms and legs bound behind him. He was trussed up like a beast for slaughter!

Panic set in and Riddit fought his bonds violently. The bonds seemed to give with his movements, but then tightened again. He rolled painfully onto his side only to confront the demoness spewing her frightful babble at him and threatening him with her club. Pain shot through his body as he tried to back away, but it was no use.

"Loose me, you foul, hellish creature," he hissed at her, knowing it was futile.

The demoness drew back at his words, shrieked again and lifted her club for the killing blow. She froze when a sharp wailing could be heard. She dropped the club and charged past him. Riddit knew that sound! It hailed the only thing like an army these humans had! Male warriors in dark blue uniforms and armed with the same devices that the youths carried. And armed with other weapons, as well! The demoness had summoned her armies and Riddit would be dragged into one of the hulking metal vehicles, never to be seen again! To be offered as sacrifice to the humans' foul gods! He had to escape! Concentrating hard, he cast the only bit of magic he could: a sphere of darkness. That would hopefully hide him until he was free. Then, ignoring the pain, he pulled his legs forward, feeling the bands on his thighs stretch and give, the hasty knots parting. His arms were pulled back and down, painfully stretching his shoulder. Riddit could hear activity near the front of the house. He only had seconds! With one final yank, he had his legs in front of him, his wrists still firmly bound to his ankles. It was awkward and painful, but now the Drow could feel what he was doing. He quickly pulled the dagger from his boot and turned the blade against the cords. They parted easily and Riddit jumped to his feet. He was disoriented and his entire body ached and burned, but he moved a few steps back and found himself behind the sphere, with the room's only window at his back.

Riddit could hear the humans (or demons, or whatever they were) approaching fast. Seeing no other alternative, he pulled his cloak over his head and dove out of the window. Staggering to his feet and thanking Lolth for his armor and cloak, he stumbled to the nearest metal disk in the paved roadway and hauled the cover from the sewer. Sliding back into the noisome, dank darkness, Riddit swore, prayed to Lolth, that if she would only guide him back to the Underdark, he would seal the passage to this hellish place and never, ever forget his place again! He was only a male, a commoner! He would never think disparagingly of his Matron or his house again!

Fleeing through the stench and decay of the city's waste, Riddit disappeared from all human knowledge.

"What the hell is it?" Her brother was staring, gaping at the huge black hole that had suddenly appeared in her bedroom.

"How should I know?" She was still jittery, and having a bunch of dumbfounded cops gawking at her and the mess in her bedroom wasn't reassuring her.

"Okay, miss, can ya tell me again what happened here?"

Despite the broken sword, the tattered cloth, the blood leading from the kitchen to her bedroom, and the fact that they'd all heard someone crash through her window, the detective was looking at her as though she were insane. She glanced at the black sphere again and then back at the detective, wondering whether she was crazy or he was blind. He wouldn't believe anything she said, in spite of the evidence, and she dreaded trying to explain the attack at the hospital and here yet again. Her brother and his slack-jawed friends weren't helping. With a sigh, she sat heavily on the floor and buried her face in her hands. Where was Fox Mulder when you needed him?