Disclaimer: I own nothing of this story, it all belongs to Bioware, Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast.

This short story has been on my harddisk for several years now. Originally it was meant to be part of a HotU fanfic / story collection. As it is finished the remaining chapters will follow soon.

Many thanks to quickthorn for all her advice and help.

Menzoberranzan, in the year of 4951 (1034 DR)

Follow me.

So she saw those pictures again and this time, Ereltree Hlaghym heard a voice inside her head, too.

A tall ebony-skinned woman, slender at the brink of fragility like any drow, was dancing to an unheard tune, her ankle-long silver hair following each of her moves. The dancer was of almost unearthly beauty, as were her surroundings. From the black ceiling tiny lamps sparkled, a softly glowing orb bathed the exotic landscape in its silver light.

Not knowing what the image of the amazingly beautiful dark elf meant, the young drow noble was sure of one fact, though: that it was not Lolth, the Spider Queen.

Life never had been easy for the drow maiden and it had gotten worse during her first year at Arach-Tinilith, the academy for noble drow woman who wanted to become Priestess of Lolth, the merciless dark elven Goddess. The High Priestess had become suspicious already, after Ereltree had used one of her own potions to heal another young drow girl instead of letting her die. Mercy was not the way of the drow, there wasn't even a word for this ouwaela*. To make it worse, the youngest Hlaghym daughter once had doubted the superiority of the female gender, had dared to ask why all males had to be servants. It almost had cost her everything.

Power, ambition, hierarchy. Ereltree never had liked the idea, but if she wanted to survive or even achieve a high rank in the society, she had to accept that they meant everything. She was a noble female after all, not a lesser jaluk* or even a rivvil*. She would have to live with it, as those were their ways, the way of the drow how the Spider Queen wanted them to be.

Follow me.

With her friendly smile, the naked drow seemed to invite Ereltree to join the dance.

Who is she? What is this place? I have never seen a landscape like this.

The young drow woman was more than a bit curious. No cave in the whole of Har'Oloth* looked like this. Menzoberranzan, illuminated by flickering fairy fires of different colors aplenty had its own unique beauty - albeit a cold, lethal beauty - but the silver sphere and the diminutive light dots of that strange faraway scene shone so bright it hurt Ereltree's eyes. Their beauty touched her heart in a way she never had known before.

I am the Dark Maiden, the Lady of the Dance, the Dancer in the Moonlight, the one who brings you what you have been longing for all of your life. Come, follow me and join the dance.

The young woman raised her head from the water bowl, confused. Had she heard a voice in her head - or was it only a false memory? Were those pictures visions or was she showing the first signs of mental sickness, like the others always said? Ereltree would finish her first year at the academy tomorrow. Risen in dark elven society, the young drow woman knew nothing but what she had been taught. Hearing voices and seeing pictures no one else noticed couldn't be a good sign. Or was Lolth testing her, did she have to prove that she was worthy? She made her decision: she would ignore the foolish dreams, fight them back, whatever they meant.

"Leave me alone! You are not real," the young woman hissed, "go away and never come back!"

During the next years Ereltree worked harder than ever, praying to Lolth more often and intensely than anyone else. She would become a priestess, and no one would stop her.

ouwaela - foolishness
jaluk - male
rivvil - surface dweller
Har'Oloth - the Underdark
Erel (name prefix) - eye, moon, spy
tree (name suffix) - exile, loner, outcast, pariah
Hla (house name prefix) - Seers of
ghym (house name suffix) - the Forgotten Ways