Chapter 4: The Last Stand

Dinin and his sister Vierna ran round the corner towards the last outpost of drow loyal to the spider queen. They ran knowing what was behind them, thinking their last moments may well be upon them. There was a small group of drow who had escaped the massacre at Menzoberranzan. Vierna and Dinin were two of them, they had escaped along side some of Bregan D'aearthe, they were along side them with a plot that would have to wait until they had their city back.

Dinin looked at his sister lagging behind, "Hurry up!" he snapped. Not concerned for her but not wanting to lose any more of the fighting force.

"Hold your…tongue male" she panted as they ran through the gloom of the Underdark.

If Dinin had time to sign he would have done, but they needed to get back to defend themselves properly from the oncoming hunters. They rounded another corner and there it was a large cavern with a tower in the middle surrounded by a defendable wall. There was a large gate and as soon as the guards on top of it notice the two drow running for the compound they began to open the sturdy gate.

They ran through as quick as they could and almost collapsed as they entered through the compound's gates. Several figures approached them as they got their breath back.

Dinin's piwafwi was torn along the bottom and could barely cover him any more. His hair was greasy and matted together. A small scar now ran under his right eye and his clothing was so dirty with the blood of slain foes that they could practically stand up on it's own.

Vierna's clothing did not fair any better, however her hair as always was immaculate. She tried wherever possible to be better than her brother. She stood up straight not bent over her haunches like her brother trying to gasp for air. Knowing who was approaching the pair of them.

Triel Baenre, in her robes that declared her the mistress of Arach-Tinilith, and her brother Gromph, who had built this compound, with help of the other wizards, as a base in hopes of reclaiming their city.

"How did your mission go?" Triel asked getting straight to the point. Since her mother's death in the storming of the first house by the invaders, she had taken command, which did not sit well with many of the drow. She wasn't exactly the leading sort in time of a crisis; most of her decisions seemed to be erratic and panicked.

"The invaders have all of the city mistress." Dinin said through his burning lungs. "The slaves are against us, they have been tricked to fight us by these cultists."

"Not exactly a trick is it? Turning ungrateful slaves against oppressive masters?" Gromph asked intelligently. He knew they were in dire straits, and didn't paint a better picture than he needed to. As far as Gromph was concerned their lives as they knew it had ended, they could not hope to take the city back.

"Keep your mouth in check dear brother, your pessimism would not sit well with the spider queen!" Triel said keeping him silent.

Gromph merely exchanged an angry glance with Dinin.

"It is a hopeless effort Mistress Triel, we cannot hope to take the city back with few numbers. Perhaps we should try to link with any survivors of Ched Nassad." Vierna reported.

"Bah! Ched Nassad fell many weeks before our city, they will be none left." Triel asked.

"What about the duergar cities?" Vierna suggested,

"No! No doubt you've attracted some attention, I assume that's why you were running?"

Dinin stood up straight and looked at his sister worriedly.

"What is it?" Gromph asked

"A company of humans were behind us, we lost them but they seemed to know where we were going." Dinin explained.

Triel snapped, "Idiots! How am I supposed to lead a resistance when these two get followed by humans"

Gromph wasn't sure is she was directing the question at him, or it was a rhetorical question.

Dinin made no attempt to plead for understanding, "Get to the wall and hope they kill you before I find a fitting punishment for you" she spat.

Dinin glanced at Gromph then moved towards the stairs that led to wall.

"You make sure the watch is on standby" she said to Vierna. Vierna saluted to her, a rare thing to do amongst the drow, as they very rarely allied long enough to form any sort of army.

Triel span around and headed to the tower with her brother Gromph.

Vierna walked off towards one of the large tents where the guards were station, slept and ate.

She and her brother had been with a section of Bregan D'aearthe when Menzoberranzan was attacked. They had joined the mercenary troop as there was nothing left for the two siblings. She had often dreamed of getting her revenge on the treacherous brother Drizzt. Now everything would have to wait, they would have to get their city back.

Maybe her brother was the cause of Lolth deserting them in their hour of need. It made sense in her head.
Although logically was not correct, there were plenty of drow who deserted their dark ways, many of them worshipping the bastard daughter of Lolth. It was a not common thing for a drow to desert their ways but it did happen. It happen among commoners more than nobles.

She entered the watch's tent and began shouting her orders.

X

The exchange did not go unnoticed. Two of the guards on the wall were interested by the heated conversation.

"Intriguing no? Since the females have lost their powers we still obey orders, but the seeds are there for revolt. Do you think we need the females more than we care to admit? If not why haven't we got rid of them sooner?" Pharun Mizzym asked, the closet thing he had to a friend.

"Indeed but what do you think the reason for Lolth's departure is? It's obviously something to do with the invasion of Menzoberranzan, but does that mean she's dead? Gone? Or just not caring for us any more?" Ryld Agrith replied

"Any of those means that we now have the advantage my friend, we have mages of such calibre as myself and fighters of yours. Now the females have no spells or are not as strong fighters as your good self." Pharun added thoughtfully.

"True." Ryld replied resting himself on the wall.

"However, we are in such a state that I feel a take over would prove fruitless and completely pointless. I know my master Gromph would like to be in control, I would personally take him over Triel as our leader. I may like to have his head asunder his body but, we need leadership and I just couldn't take all that pressure at this time" Pharun said thinking aloud.

Ryld merely grunted in response. He knew what they had to do.

They heard footsteps and the door cranked open and Dinin's weary face appeared at through it as he tiredly entered the two companions company.

"Dinin! How pleasant to see you unscathed" Pharun said, his pleasant tone was bordering on sarcasm.

"What news Dinin?" Ryld asked.

"Not good, the city is teeming with the traitors and invaders. All the noble houses have been taken." He replied. "Vierna and myself were followed from the city a regiment of humans were behind us. We lost them, but I would care to think we have an hour at most before a skirmish is upon us." Then he let out a long sigh.

He sat down cross legged on the floor of the turret and took his long sword out of it's scabbard and began cleaning it from dried blood with some oils and a cloth. Pharun and Ryld gazed at the tired soldier. They slowly looked at each other and then they both nodded they knew what needed to be done. They were getting away. Nothing would save them other than themselves, and the females would lead them to a valiant, but stupid, last stand.

Ryld reached into his pack and pulled out a length of rope and a grappling hook, he began to attach the two. Since the invasion had begun, their powers of levitation were steadily disappearing it barely worked if ever. They would have to do it the old fashioned way.

Dinin looked up as the two were preparing to escape. Something he himself had toyed with doing.

"What are you doing?" he asked the pair.
They both looked up, "We're getting away from here, I don't know about you but I've no intention of dying because of female stupidity." Pharun mused

Dinin stood up and slid his sword back into his scabbard.

"Can I come?" he asked,

"Three stands more of a chance than two in the Underdark. Besides if we said no you would alert everyone" Pharun replied. Ryld had already started his decent to the floor below. Dinin grinned in response.

Pharun and Dinin soon followed and as soon as they had landed they headed towards one of the exits from the large cavern. They slipped away into the gloom of one of the tunnels. Within moments Ryld took out a map from his pack and began to get their bearings.

"We must carry on for a few miles, then according to this map we'll find a passage up. That should be enough's travel for today." Ryld announced.

"Where are we going?" Dinin asked.

"To the surface" Pharun replied.

X

Vierna and the other drow in the compound were still awaiting the oncoming attack an hour later. Unaware that her brother had fled his post along side two other males. She was stood in the main area in front of the tower gazing around at the defences erected by Gromph and the other mages. It was impressive for a male to say the least, she smirked as she saw Triel shout at a couple of males on the wall. It was a square compound with four small turrets at each corner, one of which was now empty. The large tower in the centre reached the top of the large cavern. Inside Gromph's mages were working tirelessly trying to summon demons that would be useful for the inevitable battle.

She stood looking around and it was then she realised she could hear something in the background. Like a dull thump every so often, it was getting closer. After around five minutes of standing on by herself she realised what it was. They were the drums of war. The invaders were marching upon them.

She turned and ran to find Triel, she found her in her tent talking to her siblings. Round a map, obviously planning some sort of counter attack.

"Mistress Triel" she gasped barging into the tent.

"What is it Vierna?" she asked annoyed that she had been distracted from her work.

"They're coming. We hear their drums." She replied her chest heaving in more air.

"Damn the Goddess deserts us today." She replied slamming a fist down on the map. "Come we shall show them the might of the drow." She beckoned her siblings to follow her. They left and Gromph headed for his tower no doubt to get his wizards ready for the coming fight.

Vierna followed Triel to the wall so they could see the enemy approach. Triel and her fellows reached the wall well before any troops could be seen. However they could see the torches and the bright glow of eyes coming from the corridors of the approaching ranks of the opposing army.

Then after a while of waiting and staring at the gloom with flickering lights a host of red eyes stepped out into the light. It was a full company of drow, all in bright red clothes and ebony armour. All with matching swords, no shields, and dirks. Triel could hardly believe her eyes, how many traitors there were towards the spider queen. No wonder she had left the faithful.

The drow company then began to fan out providing a guard a column of humans came marching through with their torches. Triel glanced at her sisters and Vierna; even Vierna could see the hopelessness in her eyes. It was almost as if they should give up already.

Gromph stormed into the central tower and yelled an alert to his mages.

"All of you outside now, to the walls, to the walls in the name of the Goddess Lolth." He cried as the large doors swung open.

All the young mages and novices dropped books or any other equipment they were carrying and rushed to grab their gear. Then Gromph stood in the middle of the rush as his colleagues raced around him. After a while there was a silence descending in the round structure, Gromph held a time as he looked around what a wonder his magic had created and how soon it could be gone. He glanced across to the door way and he ran towards it to head for the roof. He hit the spiral staircase at a full sprint running up the stairs.

The war machine of the invaders was filling the cavern in front of the sisters and Vierna. It would be a hopeless fight nothing the drow could do would save them now, except changing sides.

Triel looked all around the camp and could see the soldiers shifting uneasily on the wall of the camp.

She turned to address them all, "Fear not sons and daughters of Lolth, today we shall show the invader the true might of the drow. Death to the traitors and death to the invaders." Her cries echoed around the camp.

There was a cry, in erupted into a war cry from all of the drow, it was ferocious. Some of the invaders in front of the compound visibly shifted uncomfortably.

Gromph overlooked the impressive rally of the troops, he smiled almost proud of his sisters encouragement of the troops, he didn't know his sister had it in her.

He noticed towards the back of the groups of invaders several figures robed in crimson were making there way to the middle of the ranks.

Gromph then sent to work he drew mystical runes on the floor and sent creating the spells of protection, he sent as many as he knew and then tried in the recesses in his mind for older spells that he would normally deem useless. However now they might save his life.

He looked up from his work to notice the enemy had finished forming up it's ranks and the robbed figures now stood in lines with between the front and back ranks of the army amassed in front of the compound. There were thirteen in total all completely covered he could not see their faces.

He then looked at the back of the army and saw his own foe. A robbed wizard in the midst of casting a spell. Gromph worked quickly casting his own offensive spell, and as he finished so did the wizard below.

Gromph thrust out his hands and purple tinged lighting spread forth crackling out from him. Converging into one central line aimed for the invading mage.

The wizard below let his own spell fly out and a red disgusting beam spewed forth and connecting with Gromph's own. The two beams pushing each other, one seeming to gain then advantage then the next would.

Gromph cried out as he tried to force his spell more, to no avail. The spells eventually were too much for both users and then they dissipated with large explosion. No one was harmed in the blast as it exploded between the two sides.

Gromph then desperately reached for another spell in his mind. The most powerful projectile he could think of. His hands moved in sequence and he chanted the lines of the spell, then with all the strength he could muster he let fly the spell. It let from his outstretched arm, it was a black beam that seemed to suck all everything from around its beam. The light, heat, darkness, and cold everything seemed vulnerable to it. Then it seemed to hit a glass wall in front of the opposing army. It bounced back on it's self.

"Oh" was all Gromph had to get out as his owe magic was his demise. It smashed through his own protective spells and smashed into the top of the tower. The tower's tip was blasted and huge chunks of stone were flown free. One particular large chunk smashed down on the compound wall. Crushing the soldiers posted there.

With the wall now compromised the invading force let out a cheer the rocked the cavern.

Then the charge was initiated traitor drow, duergar humans and the other races in their army charged toward the compound. The battle was on.

X

Dinin, Pharun and Ryld were walking along and hadn't yet seen another creature yet alone a hostile enemy, when a explosion seemed to ripple along the tunnel. The walls shuck and bits of loose stone fell. They all instinctively crouched, Dinin and Ryld went for their swords and Pharun held one of his channelling items ready for an offensive spell.

Then they heard the sounds of cheers echoing up the tunnel.

Ryld stood up slowly and looked at his compatriots, "The fight has begun, and we must run!"

The others nodded in agreement and set of leaping and bounding through the rough ground of the Underdark hoping to flee to the surface.

X

Veirna held where the wall had crumbled, she fought side to side with commoners. Her small mace was making short work of the humans she had thus come in contact with.

They had fought admirably to hold back the unyielding foe.

A young male human charged her. She ducked under his sword swing and brought her knee up in his groin. He collapsed down onto his knees abandoning his shield and voiding his life as she brought down her mace on his head.

The female next to her grunted as a small crossbow bolt slammed into her shoulder. Veirna reached into a pouch and pulled out some silver dust and threw it in front of her at the few unlucky humans standing there. They all cried out as the dust worked into their eyes and seemed to be gluing their eyes shut.

She then turned to the injured female next to her and pulled the bolt out of her shoulder. The woman cried out in pain.

"We must hold these heathens back!" she said to the commoner, "For the spiderqueen" she yelled, a cheer erupted from around the drow holding the hole.

As though their cheer had heralded the end, a horn echoed around the cavern and the human company they were fighting retreated back on themselves.

The defending drow let out a roar of success, which slowly petered out when they saw what was behind the humans.

Thirteen crimson robbed figures, with long swords, which were slightly curved on their belts. Veirna looked at her comrades and at the figures not knowing what would happen. Then as a group the figures de-robbed quickly revealing their bodies.

Everyone around her gasped, spark hunters.

Their body was like living plate armour, dark with irregular spikes all over them. They didn't seem to have a discernable gender, at the joints in their natural armour their seemed to be living magma underneath. There heads were humanoid, their spiked hair was like living fire and their eyes were just burning flames in sockets, their teeth were sharp behind their malevolent smiles.

As if a second horn was blown they charged together at the group. They leapt high over the rumbled and slammed down in front of the defenders. The combat was upon them.

Veirna dodged the first swipe from the spark hunter, then the second barely. She managed to block the third swipe and got in an attack of her own. The mace crunched onto the hunter's shoulder. It stopped and laughed at her pitiful attempt then lunged forward grabbing her round the throat and lifting her up. It only stood a few inches taller than herself but it was unnaturally strong. She tried to kick up but couldn't muster the strength. It threw her aside into the wall.

Her head slammed into wall and she hit the floor shortly after. Her vision suddenly seemed blurred and surrounded by blackness. She managed to crawl onto he backside, she raised her palm up to feel her head and felt the warm dampness of blood. She looked at it oozing in her hand. She looked up from her hand and saw a spark hunter above her.

It let out a malicious chuckle and its sword plunged forward into her stomach. She let out a little whimper as it withdrew the blade and moved away to continue the fight.

She held onto her torso as the blood seeped out. She cried out, as she lay on the compound floor dying. For some reason she yearned to have her old protector, Zaknafein, to turn up and save her. The male drow had been so kind to her in her younger years, she blamed him for her occasional weakness towards he little brother Drizzt.

Her vision was blackening and death's clutches moved around her. Then with one small whimper she exhaled her last breath.

The compound fell shortly after.