MICHAEL: If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.

Mario Puzo (1920-1999) American novelist, screenwriter
The Godfather (screenplay with Francis Coppola) (1972)


I know that Dinin lost an arm and several legs in his fight with Bruenor, but since R.A.S. never officially declared him dead in the book, I decided to stretch the world of possibilities to a breaking point and just assumed that he was somehow healed and brought back to Menzoberranzan with the remains of the Bregan D'aerthe group after Vierna had died.


Summary: At the beginning of the time of Lolth's silence the drider Dinin stumbles upon a priest of Vhaeraun. The two strike a deal and set out to wreak havoc on the surface.


C

Prologue

The rebirth

C

The cave lay in near silence, its stony tranquillity only disturbed by a faint sound of leaves brushed by the impatient winds of spring and an occasional chirping of birds, which intruded from the brightly lit lands on the outside of this quiet, nearly lightless world of greys and blacks. Even the slender figure in the dark cloak made no noise as it picked its hasty way along the sharp edges of the rough cave wall, always clinging to the darker shadows, throwing nervous glances backwards. But that silence was soon to be broken when two others appeared not far behind, followed closely by an ungainly, awkward shape that resembled a huge spider, which had somehow sprouted the bloated and deformed upper body of a Drow.

"El og'elend!"

The shrill voice cut through the air, effectively stopping the fleeing one, although nothing followed. No sudden burst of lightning hit him, no unseen force threw him down, and it was just the voice. This seemed to surprise both sides in equal measure, but the lone figure recovered a bit faster, taking the chance to jump behind the next available cover before shouting with a distinctly male voice: "Come and get me then you spider kissing bitches!"

Immediately afterwards he began to prepare one of the few spells he had left, praying all the while that another miracle would happen to keep him alive long enough to get away once again. He had escaped them before, had even managed to reduce their numbers more and more, until only the two priestesses and that abominable drider remained. But their unceasing, fanatical chase had tired him out and worn away most of his defences to a dangerously low level.

This time, on the brink of escape to the wide open lands of the night above there would be no running. This time a final decision was unavoidable.

"Vhaeraun preserve me", he mumbled and released his last bolt of lightning. Only to nearly have his mouth drop open in surprise when a muffled groans indicated that he had actually hit and maybe even done damage to one of the priestesses. It seemed their own defences were crumbling as well. Maybe it was finally time to pit Vhaeraun's powers against those of Lolth in a last deciding battle.

He decided to risk a look and cautiously raised his head a tiny bit above the cover of rough, damp smelling stone. What he saw was encouraging, but exceptionally strange as well. Obviously one of the priestesses was lying on the cold cave floor, struggling with the effects of the lightning, which was odd in itself, because he had already seen her take more than that with nothing more than an enraged snarl. The other though was circling the drider who had raised his own weapons as if about to attack her.

Deciding that the newest turn of events should be used to the best of his advantage he quickly took his already strung bow and aimed one of the last arrows at the twitching woman on the ground, congratulating himself when it struck true and embedded itself cleanly in her neck, effectively stilling her forever. The long ranged weapon was slightly unusual for someone from the Underdark, but he had taken it along in preparation for things to come and it had even saved his life once or twice already during the long and exhausting flight.

A flight which was going to end here it seemed. The reality of a drider battling a priestess of Lolth was a baffling spectacle and one he had never expected to see at that. For a creature that was normally under the full control of Lolth's servants it should have been impossible to do so, but his own eyes were clearly telling him differently. Accepting this weird stroke of luck he decided with a shrug of slender shoulders to simply sit back and enjoy the show. Whoever got out of that fight would be tired, probably wounded and thus considerably weakened. Not that he would be very sorry to see them both die in the end. But fighting one enemy instead of three was still a considerable improvement.

As he watched them trade ringing blows he noticed another oddity. Instead of finishing her untrustworthy servant with a well placed spell, the priestess limited herself to a purely physical fight, forgoing one of her greatest advantages. Something was wrong there, before he could figure out what it was though she stumbled and lost her balance for a second providing the opening the drider needed to open a deep cut on her hip. From there it was only a matter of minutes. Minutes he used wisely to prepare another spell, which would freeze the ghastly creature should it decide to attack him next.

The attack never came. Instead, after spitting on the mutilated body of the last priestess, the thing dropped its axe and looked straight at him, features splattered with blood, but with strangely calm and shining eyes that made him hesitate for a moment. This was not the expression of a mad creature controlled and oppressed by the Spider Queen, but of someone who had made a decision and was resigned to his fate.

Finish it. Signed the drider silently. I don't want to live like this.

He raised a slender white brow.

"Begging for death so you can be nearer to your beloved spider queen?" He asked caustically. "I don't think she'll be very happy after what you just did."

"Lolth is silent." Said the drider with dark satisfaction. "She is gone. Abandoning her precious followers to be ripped apart by their enemies."

"Silent?" The fugitive echoed dumbfounded, still halting his spell. The idea of the ever present Lolth simply not being there was quite hard to digest for someone who had grown up in Menzoberranzan, a city where this particular deity was worshipped with nearly unparalleled devotion.

"Gone?" He asked confused. "What do you mean "gone"?"

"If I tell you this, will you give me the clean death I desire?" The other seemed irritated with his sudden inquisitive questioning.

"Probably."

A disgusted sigh followed.

"She is gone. As to where or why, I don't know, but I cannot feel her disgusting presence anymore and neither could her servants." A bloody hand gestured to the remains of the two dead women. "That is all I know." He continued after the fugitive still made no move to kill him. In fact said fugitive was thinking furiously. If Lolth was really gone, then what did that mean for her followers? The powers she normally granted would quite possibly be inaccessible now. The ever watchful presence was not there, leaving them without supervision and guidance, while Vhaeraun was still present as he felt deeply in his heart this very moment. Would it not please him if...

"You know..." he started to say slowly even while the thought was forming in his head. "Maybe there is a much better way to deal with this."

"Which would be?" Came the doubting question.

"Well, since I'm a priest of considerable power myself, let us say I was to ask my Lord for help on your behalf, suggesting that he give me the power to take from Lolth what is hers and turn you back into a true Drow..." he let this tempting idea trail out suggestively and added pleasantly. "If you decline, I can of course still heed your initial wish and kill you."

"You...you could really do that?"

The desperate hope in these words was almost enough to move a more sentimental being to tears, but since these two were Drow it merely betrayed a certain amount of vulnerability and produced an arrogant smile on the face of the fugitive priest.

"Why yes of course I could. I must warn you though. The process might not be very pleasant."

"I don't care!"

die - el

traitor - og'elend