Author's Note: This is my first fanfic and it is launched from the wonderful game Hordes of the Underdark by Bioware. The first part of the story keeps pretty close to the game, using a lot of the dialog directly from the game itself. When the story called for it I occasionally gave someone's lines to another character. As the story progresses I branched out more and more. That being said I make no claim to Hordes of the Underdark or the amazing characters Bioware created to make the game a more well rounded and rich environment to play in. Hypatia is my character, as is Cimmera. They have unusual abilities and I find I enjoy this creative outlet. Thank you Bioware, David Gaider, and you my readers.
The Worlds Within
Still blinded by the light of the teleportation spell, Hypatia, nevertheless heard the commotion caused by her sudden appearance. Oh! That Halaster, when she got out of the Underdark, presuming that is where he'd sent her, she was going to….Well, perhaps it'd be better just to leave him alone. The Archmage certainly could cast powerful spells in a hurry.
"Protect the Seer!" Came startled cries from around her.
"The enemy has found a way in!"
Hypatia could hear the people, she assumed to be drow, running to surround her. While she tensed for battle she didn't dare move, not knowing where Nathyrra was exactly. It wouldn't do to strike down one's only ally in the Underdark after all.
As her vision cleared another voice rose above the rest, calm and melodic. "Wait. Do you not recognize one of our own? Nathyrra, you have returned to us."
Hypatia's vision finally cleared and she looked out through the visor of her helm at a beautiful drow priestess.
From just behind her Nathyrra spoke. "Mother Seer, it is good to see you once more."
"And you," spoke the Seer. "But I see you have returned with another…someone very important indeed."
A drow warrior standing on a raised dais behind the Seer, apparently satisfied that Hypatia posed no threat, stepped down and past them stating, "I must see about our troops."
Hypatia watched him as he left the large circular room through a set of massive doors intricately carved with a spider web motif. In fact looking around the room of what had to be a temple of some sort, she would have to surmise that this was a temple to Lolth, the Spider Queen. The ornate and elaborate carvings of webs and spiders were telling, as was the strikingly beautiful sculpture poised over the altar on the dais.
Turning her gaze back to the Seer, Hypatia was rather unsettled by the ease with which the drow woman was regarding her. Hypatia was quite content that her own face was hidden by her helm as she studied the woman. The Seer possessed the same ageless, dark-skinned beauty as the other drow….but unlike the others, her eyes held a hint of both advanced age and compassion. Hypatia found herself drawn into those eyes and her unease at being in an unknown and potentially hostile situation slowly left her to be replaced by a calm determination.
As if aware that Hypatia had drawn what conclusions she would, the drow before her spoke again in that melodic voice. "You are most welcome here rivvil. I am the Seer. I have awaited your arrival with great anticipation. Please come…do not be alarmed."
A jumble of questions piled up in Hypatia's mind at the Seer's words. Keeping her natural curiosity in check she managed to voice only the most pertinent of them. "You awaited my arrival? How did you know I was coming?"
Smiling enigmatically the Seer answered, "Now that, my friend, is going to take more than a little explanation. I am sure you have many questions, and I assure you that they will be answered. I am curious first, however, as to how you came to appear before us."
Once again Hypatia had reason to be grateful for her helm as her fair complexion colored at the remembered humiliation of her recent dealings with the archmage Halaster. That man could cast a spell faster than anyone she had ever seen. Before she could speak though, Nathyrra answered.
While Nathyrra explained all about freeing Halaster from the drow trap and the products of his gratitude: casting a geas on Hypatia and teleporting her to the Underdark, Hypatia took the opportunity to study the other drow…and what was this?
Amongst their number was a warrior who was most definitely not a drow, nor was he quite human. Seeing as how humans rarely sported tails and horns, she noted, her curiosity beginning to burn brightly. What an interesting person. He didn't look like he'd seen too much sun lately either, but then with that red hair he might just be naturally fair skinned. And so serious too, judging by the grim expression on his face. Then, Hypatia chastised herself, she might be a little grim too if she were in his shoes. The plight of the drow here seemed a bit more dire than Waterdeeps at the moment. This Valsharess, Nathyrra had spoken of had only sent raiding parties to the surface and they had almost brought that great city to its knees. Facing down her full might, here on her own territory would be daunting indeed.
Hypatia's eyes snapped forward as the Seer turned to her looking stricken. "I am sorry the he violated you in that way, Hypatia. That is not how I would have wished to acquire your assistance."
She must be speaking of the geas, Hypatia surmised as the Seer continued. "What's done is done and we must proceed from here."
Easy for you to say, the disgruntled thought popped into Hypatia's mind unbidden.
The Seer smiled kindly, "Though Halaster has forced you to join us, your own fate is closely tied to ours. I am sure you have many questions, but there is much we must tell you first. It is important you know something of the Valsharess, if you are to help us against her."
With a resolute nod, Hypatia thought to remove her helm since it was rather churlish of her to keep it on when these drow were doing so much to assist her. She found, however, that the battle she'd just been through with some of the Valsharess' minions, whom she'd defeated to free Halaster, had left her so exhausted she could barely move.
She'd used up every spell she had during the brief yet intense battle. Stunning those pesky cross bowmen and mages alike with her divine Hammer of the Gods then turning to cast the most powerful of her Heal spells just to keep her allies standing. They'd been out numbered and out maneuvered, but they had prevailed. Once free the archmage, Halaster, had teleported Nathyrra and herself without giving them so much as a chance to catch their breath, the ingrate.
Too tired to remove her helm, Hypatia settled for speaking her intentions. "I will do whatever I can to stop her evil."
Wise eyes regarded her for a moment before the Seer spoke once again. "You are weary, Hypatia. We can continue this after you have rested and refreshed yourself."
Nathyrra once again spoke up, "I can show her to a room, Seer."
With a consenting nod from the Seer, Nathyrra indicated that Hypatia should follow her. Following Nathyrra out of the main room of the Temple and down a long curving hallway, Hypatia was grateful to be ushered into a small room with two beds, a screen behind which she could change, and some tallow candles.
Removing her gauntlets and helm at last, Hypatia turned to Nathyrra and said wistfully, "I'd pay for a bath."
Nathyrra let out a chuckle, "I'll see what I can do, and while I'm at it I'll bring you some food."
With a smile of gratitude, Hypatia started to remove her armor. Once out of the bulky plate mail she rummaged around in her pack for a short tunic and a pair of worn leggings. There'd be plenty of time for finery once the threat of the Valsharess had been dealt with. Meanwhile she needed to bless a corner of this room and prepare it for her prayers.
Producing some small vials, she sprinkled some of the fragrant oils in the corner of the room nearest the bed that looked unclaimed. She moved the small bed table into the corner, then pulled out a couple of small beeswax candles of her own and set them on the table at the points of an equilateral triangle from the corner. In the corner itself she placed a small square of cloth vibrantly colored to appear as a red mist flowing upon a blue field. Upon this she placed her own holy symbol a brilliant and finely wrought circle of stars. That done she lit the candles, sprinkled some more of the oils and began to pray.
Nathyrra returned with a plate of bread and stew, but taking note of Hypatia's devotions merely set the food on the other table in the small room and left once again so that Hypatia might finish her praying in privacy.
Hypatia was aware of Nathyrra's brief visit and the smell of the food threatened her concentration. When was the last time she'd eaten? Resolutely she turned her mind back to her prayers and as the opened her mind to her deity she was filled with calm and peace. She reviewed each new person she had met in the brief time she had been in the Underdark and with each image came an accompanying emotion.
The Seer brought up a vision of a gloriously beautiful drow woman dancing in the moonlight, holding aloft a brilliant bastard sword and without a doubt, Hypatia knew that this priestess served a goddess of goodness and not the Spider Queen. A joy filled Hypatia and a love of life and freedom. No name was given to her of whom The Seer worshiped, but it was enough to know that she was sincere in her intentions.
Her mind turned to Nathyrra and she felt a sorrow so intense that it almost brought tears to her eyes. Guilt and shame followed, but they were mixed with hope and an honest desire to prove herself. Hypatia was glad, for she found that she liked the quiet drow woman.
The other drow brought no strong emotions or visions to mind when she pictured them, but the red haired warrior with the horns…She was overwhelmed with a confusing jumble of emotions she could scarcely sort out. Anger, fury, hopelessness, despair, rage, self loathing, hope, honor, strength, desperation, love, sorrow, pride. With a soft cry Hypatia opened her eyes and rubbed her temples. Obviously he was someone who would be important in the future, but how and in what way she could not tell, nor, did it seem, would she just be handed the answers.
It took her some moments to calm her rapidly beating heart after such a brief yet intense surge of emotions. Once she was calm again she decided it was high time she had something to eat. She contemplated the information she had been blessed with as she slowly ate the now cold stew. No matter how she turned it over in her mind she couldn't make anything of it, other than he was an intense personality. But then she would have guessed that just by looking at him.
Hypatia was rather relieved when Nathyrra returned and indicated that she was welcome to use the thermally heated baths of the temple if she so desired. "A good long soak in hot water would be heavenly," She sighed as she followed Nathyrra.
The following day Hypatia donned her plate mail and after twisting her lengthy crimson locks into a pair of braids and wrapping them around her head in an elaborate design she presented herself to the Seer.
She was somewhat taken aback to see that everyone else apparently had been up and about their business for some time. Certainly she hadn't slept that long, though to be honest she was no longer sure if it was morning or afternoon having lost track while navigating the Undermountain.
With a gentle smile the Seer welcomed her into their midst. "I believe it is time for our guest to learn more of the Valsharess, herself. Nathyrra, if you would be so kind…?
"Of course, Seer." Nathyrra bowed her head gracefully before stepping forward to speak. "The drow have ever been ruled by the Matron Mothers who head the great houses. The Valsharess was once one of those: ruthless and powerful in her art. But no more so than any other Matron Mother. But then Lolth, the Queen of Spiders and goddess of the drow disappeared…and drow society was thrown into utter chaos. The Valsharess seized upon this opportunity."
Nathyrra and the Seer went on to explain exactly how this Valsharess had managed to unite the drow and many of the other races of the Underdark. With Lolth missing, the priestesses of her temples had been powerless before this Matron Mother and as they had been subdued so had others. The tale was as remarkable in its scope as it was disturbing in depicting the Valsharess' utter ruthlessness.
With a puzzled frown Hypatia asked the obvious question. "You have warriors, Seer." She waived a hand to indicate the red haired warrior as well as several of the other drow standing in attendance. "What is it that you expect we can do?"
Nodding slowly the Seer seemed to hesitate, yet with determination answered, "Yes, that is a good question. What can we do? There is only one thing that I can do. I must put my faith in the goddess…and that means putting our faith in you. Our fate lies in your hands."
Hypatia's eyebrows shot up in obvious surprise, but before she could open her mouth the red haired warrior stepped forward, alarm evident on his face. "Are you sure Seer? What do we really know about this…this woman? She could be the death of us all!"
Hypatia turned to look at him, her emerald green eyes meeting his crystal blue ones. He was intelligent and not shy about speaking up, she thought. She wouldn't be too ready to trust a stranger if she were him either.
"Our lives are irrelevant, good Valen." The Seer spoke gently. "The Valsharess must be stopped at all costs, and Hypatia is the key to stopping her."
"You know I don't believe in your ways Seer." Valen countered, "I won't throw away my life by blindly following anyone, and I don't think anyone here should either."
He values life, and not just his own, Hypatia thought with approval. He is not afraid, but neither is he going to sell his life cheaply, nor allow others to do so.
Hypatia's thoughts were interrupted as the Seer spoke once again. "You have saved us more times than I can count, Valen. But the army of the Valsharess will soon march against us, and even your great skill in battle will not be enough to save us."
Scowling in dissatisfaction Valen conceded, "I'm willing to defer to your judgment for now, Seer. But what makes you think this human stranger can stop the army of the Valsharess?"
Turning to face her the Seer stated, "Hypatia, I know you are a cleric of great power. But you are so much more than this. You alone can save us from the Valsharess."
With wide eyes Hypatia thought, well this is certainly no time for anything but determination and confidence; in myself, my abilities, and most importantly my goddess. "I don't understand…what is it you expect me to do? I know nothing of the Underdark and little more than rumor about the drow."
With a graceful gesture indicating all around her the Seer answered, "All the drow here in Lith My'athar will stand against the Valsharess, she is the enemy common to us all. But even our unified strength will not be able to defeat her massive army. Our only hope is for you to find some way to strengthen our forces, or to weaken the Valsharess and her allies."
Stepping forward, Nathyrra offered, "I can give you information on the Valsharess' allies and where to find them. Perhaps we might consider striking at her through her friends, or turning them to our side."
The warrior, Valen, added, "I can also help you, Hypatia. I know much about the legends of the Underdark. I have heard rumors of powerful artifacts and allies we might be able to acquire."
Turning to face Valen with one eyebrow raised Hypatia said, "I thought you didn't trust me."
He met her eyes unflinchingly. "I haven't set aside my suspicions yet. But if you are truly the savior the Seer thinks you are, than I'm willing to give you a chance to prove it."
It was only by force of will that Hypatia kept her lips from turning up in an approving smile. He was honest, cautious and fair. How interesting, she thought only half aware that the Seer was again speaking.
"I won't fail you Seer." She stated as the priestess was finished and clearly expecting some kind of response.
With a nod Hypatia began to prepare for what was expected of her. She started by walking in a slow circle around the room, taking the measure of the people the Seer kept close by.
Stopping in front of one stern looking warrior she waited expectantly until, unsure of what she was expecting from him, he spoke. "It is an honor to serve the Seer."
Hypatia moved on, thoughtfully continuing her circuit of the room. She bypassed the next drow and stopped yet again in front of a somewhat younger looking one, as if she could tell their age by looking, Hypatia snorted softly to herself. He seemed ready to be the object of her scrutiny, and drawing himself up proudly said, "We will protect the Seer at all costs."
There were only two left, another dark elf fighter and the warrior Valen. Both were watching her as she approached. She deliberately chose the drow fighter and he glared at her, making no attempt to disguise his disapproval of her actions. "The Seer says your destiny is to defeat the Valsharess. Go and fulfill your destiny."
Hypatia smiled, the Seer, it appeared, chose her allies well. With a graceful bow she turned and left through the massive doors, leaving the relative safety of the temple for her first foray into the world of the drow.