Chapter 2 - The Legacy of Srinshee
Despite his injuries Colatto, and Bazil, were eager to get back into
the temple to see what could be discovered. I wasn’t so sure it
was a good idea, how many more of those gigantic spiders were there within
its walls? Hundreds? Thousands? We had been lucky so far but sooner or
later someone would succumb to the spider’s venom.
Before we could act however something grabbed out attention; a scream
of mortal terror filled the air. I glanced around trying to locate its
source but, as it echoed and re-echoed from the broken rubble around us,
I was baffled. Baynar seemed to have no such problems and started to head
out into the mist-enshrouded ruins, as did Faergil once he realised that
mingled among the cries were the odd snatch of elven. The rest of us followed
The cries for help led us away from the small area we had already explored.
We pushed past twisted and blighted trees in many of which crouched spiders
of various sizes that regarded with their black, marble-like eyes. As
we travelled, the ghost-like touch of webbing hanging from the trees caressing
our faces, we caught glimpses of more of the city, an overgrown street
surface here, a toppled statue there. We saw broken staircases that lead
to nowhere and archways that stood broken and alone.
The notion that we were being lured into a trap certainly occurred to
me and I’m sure to my companions too. Brother Baldric warned about
“those stag things”. Thinking he meant winged Perytons I pointed
out that we were unlikely to meet them in an enclosed forest.
The screams drew us out into a clearing full of vines and rubble. Only
one part of the structure that had once stood there now remained. It looked
like a broad staircase that ascended some thirty feet into the air but
was much broader. After a few seconds consideration I realised that what
I took for stairs was in fact a section of seating, we had found what
was once a theatre or perhaps a public forum. The cries, that suspiciously
had not died of even though it had taken us several minutes to get there,
seemed to be coming from the far side of the seats. As we began to circle
around, picking our way through the rubble, Colatto pointed out a pair
of gargoyles he had spotted some way off. They were pulling apart the
carcass of what looked like a deer. Eager not to attract their attention
we redoubled our efforts to move quietly. As we rounded the stone seats
the cry stopped for a few moments. From the side we could see that the
steps had two storeys of what had probably been storage space underneath
them and movement from the upper storey, some ten feet above the ground
drew our attention. Looking up we saw a large creature, some nine feet
long and at least as tall as I was, with a body like a stag and the head
of a badger. It was a Leucrotta. This, Baldric told me, was the “stag
things” he had been trying to warn us about.
The Leucrotta opened its mouth to emit once again the pleas for help that
had drawn us there and in doing sot revealing not teeth but jagged, bone
ridges. As if in response to this last call two more moved into view over
the edge of seats above it.
Amber reacted quickly by calling upon the divine might of Windstrom. The
vines that grew from the split stonework of the steps suddenly became
animated; twisting and writhing like serpents. Within moments the two
newer Leucrottas had been entangled in vines leaving only the first one
free. First Primrose and Bazil and then Baldric and Amber began to scrabble
back down the rubble to more level ground while Baynar moved forward ready
to meet the inevitable attack from the remaining Leucrotta. As quickly
as I could over such uneven ground I moved up behind the knight and once
gain blessed him with a bark-skin miracle while Colatto, dagger in hand,
moved to protect Baynar’s left flank. The Leurotta had plans of
it’s own however and, leaping over our heads, it pounced on Amber.
It’s bone ridges sliced through her elven chain opening a vicious
wound in her chest. As the brute drew back it ripped and tugged, tearing
away most of the chest of Amber’s chain-mail. With the Leurotta
in our midst we could now smell its putrid body odour, it stank of decaying
Primrose, Baldric and Bazil all came to Amber’s defence. Despite
its size the creature proved too agile for Baldric’s blow and Bazil’s
dagger thrust. Bazil did, however, manage to open a wound on its flank
with his short-sword while Primrose, employing a tactic that had served
her well against the gigantic spiders, ducked under it’s body and
thrust upwards almost disembowelling it. Mortally wounded the creature
still looked like it was ready to fight on. Colatto and Baynar half ran,
half skidded down to join the battle. Colatto’s dagger thrust went
wide but Baynar had the Leucrotta’s measure and finished it off
with two swashing blows of his (or rather Colatto’s) bastard sword.
No sooner had the Leucrotta fallen when Faergil unleashed a searing lighting
bolt which, perhaps a little unnecessarily to my mind, reduced the two
trapped Leucrotta’s to chard husks.
For a moment there was concern that the fight may have attracted the attention
of the gargoyles but if anything it had done the opposite as they were
nowhere to be seen. Amber was eager to search around in the ruined storage
area to see what could be found and, with Brother Baldric, Colatto and
the hobbits staying outside to keep watch the rest of us headed in. The
ground floor of the storage area was clearly the Leucrotta’s den
and if we thought the beast had stank it was nothing compared to the overpowering,
eye watering smell of their lair. In fact the smell was so vial that Amber
and Faergil started retching and gagging. Faergil backed out but Amber
moved doggedly in. She seemed most interested in what appeared to be the
hand of an elf sticking out of a pile of refuse and went for a closer
look. Baynar and myself went up the stone steps that lead to the upper
storey. Other then the small section from which the Leucrotta had jumped
the floor had fallen away. I took the opportunity of my elevated position
to peer into the forest. It seemed unnaturally still, like all the forest
we had seen, but for a second I caught a fleeting glimpse of a vague shape
about a hundred feet away. It was humanoid but far too massive to be a
man or even an ogre, most likely it was one of the giants Bazil had seen
Heading down and out we joined up with the others. Amber was showing Faergil
what she had found beside the stripped skeleton of an elf, a broken, golden
harp and a dagger. The dagger was clearly of elven design with fine symbols
etched on its slight curve and highly polished blade.
Now that the source of the screams had been discovered the question arose
again as to what to do and where to search for answers and our missing
equipment. I decide it was time to point out the unpleasant truth, that
it could take all day to search the spider-infested temple alone and a
lifetime to pick through all the ruins that lay concealed in the trees.
This was time we didn’t have if we were to stop The Eight. If we
didn’t find anything significant quickly we should give serious
thought to leaving the ruins and looking for help. Baldric informed us
that, with a little help from Colatto, he had been giving the matter of
our lost equipment some thought and knew of a miracle that might be able
to divine it.
We began to make our way back to the temple, as we went Amber moved closer
to me and shared suspicions that had been troubling her for the last few
hours. Were had the Drow victim of the yellow-musk creeper come from?
With the forest apparently devoid of animal life where were the spiders
and gargoyles getting their food from? Where were all the Fiends that
were supposed to haunt the ruins of Myth Drannor? All very good questions
but, as I didn’t have any answers for her, I pushed them to the
back of my mind.
Once we were back outside the front entrance of the temple Baldric produced
a small lump of loadstone and began to invoke Tymora. The invocation was
a long one, taking some ten minutes, and all the time I glanced around
feeling that we were exposed and vulnerable. The prayer finished he used
divine power to search the temple for Twin-Death; his magical flail. When
he found nothing he quickly ran first to where he had appeared the night
before (easily locatable thanks to the two dead spiders) and then where
Amber and Baynar had appeared. Again he was unable to detect any trace
This negative response didn’t seem to deter my companions from wanting
to check the temple and, without waiting for us, Amber wandered over to
the hole in the side (through which we had left a little under an hour
before) and looked within. Stepping across the threshold she strained
her eyes into the obscuring shrouds of webbing and spotted several, bulky
shapes moving towards her. A huge spider, one of the biggest we had seen
so far, closed on Amber with unexpected speed. By now we had caught up
with her and Baynar yanked Amber back just in time. A second latter Colatto
unleashed an arrow from his bow. The result was as unexpected as it was
spectacular, the arrow seemed to be grasped by an unseen force and pulled
up into the air to disappear amongst the clouds. By now Baynar had drawn
his sword and he and Baldric set about the spider, killing it with a rain
of blows. This had the unexpected dividend of blocking the hole and though
we could see more spiders behind the body of the first they couldn’t
get out. Without pause or word Amber walked off, heading around to the
front of the temple. Once more with the rest of The Company, a few of
us calling to her to slow down, followed in her wake. Colatto also took
the opportunity to fire a few more experimental shots from his bow with
exactly the same result.
Amber reached the main entrance just as two more huge spiders scuttled
out with more behind them. Without pausing Amber launched herself into
one with her short-sword and newly acquired dagger. In the blink of an
eye the spider lay dead from a pair of deep stabbing wounds. The dagger
had slipped through the spider’s shell with particular ease, cleaving
chitin and flesh alike.
Colatto, despite being in considerable pain from the injuries he had received
from his brush with the maelstrom, engaged the second spider but his dagger
blade was turned aside by it’s armour. Primrose had more success
as she opened a green, oozing wound in its thorax and Faergil finished
it off a second later with a burst of magical darts. Amber closed on the
nearest of the four spiders that had followed the initial pair out of
the temple, delivering a pair of vicious wounds with dagger and short-sword.
Baynar cut another in two with one downward stroke of his sword before
wounding a third. A forth spider was closing in on Colatto who, despite
his brave stance, looked like a stiff breeze would flatten him. Calling
out to the Oak Father I centred a miracle of light in the cluster of its
eyes, blinding it. I had hoped that its blindness would demoralise the
spider and cause it to flee but it still tried, in vain, to bite Colatto.
Bazil added two more wounds to the spider that Primrose was fighting.
Angered it turned on Bazil but once again he proved too agile and slipped
away. Both Baynar and Amber were not so luckily and received bites from
Baldric joined with Bazil and Primrose, delivering a pounding blow with
his mace. I heard Amber calling for us to fall back, personally I agreed
but Bazil and Colatto were eager to take the fight to the temple. First
Baynar, then Amber and then Primrose finished off the spiders they were
fighting. Seeing that Colatto was having trouble penetrating the last
spider’s defences Amber quickly moved to support him, slaying the
spider with one powerful thrust of her dagger.
I eyed the temple gates, expecting to see more spiders spill out at any
second but for the moment at least the danger had passed. I turned my
attention to Amber and Baynar, despite the winter’s chill both were
starting to sweat from the venom in their veins. I had expended too much
of my Divine Favour that day to be able to purge them of the poison but
I could slow it down. Using up one of my few remaining sprigs of mistletoe
I prayed over Baynar, beseeching Silvanus to stop the venom; the Lionar
would be all right for the next twelve hours. I offered to do the same
for Amber. She refused, explaining that I should save Silvanus’s
gifts for the weaker members of our group. Despite her words I wasn’t
convinced; since our return to the temple Amber’s reckless behaviour
had been an ominous sign that her patience was running thin. From a glance
I got from Baldric I could tell he sensed this too.
During this time Bazil, Colatto and Faergil had decided that they had
had enough of fighting the spiders one at a time and it was time for drastic
action. With the rest of us following, some more reluctantly then others,
Faergil mounted the steps and strode purposefully into the temple. I could
feel the ominous weight of that vast chamber, masked by shadow and webs
and given a ghastly half-light by the pale sun on one side and the Abysmal
maelstrom on the other, bearing down on me. Every deep shadow, every twitching
web seemed to threaten a new onslaught of spiders. The sense of evil that
we had all felt the first time we had tried to reach the maelstrom has
increased noticeably. Faergil was unbowed though. He seemed taller then
I remembered and in the dim light his glowing eye socket cast a faint
aura of golden light around his head. Within moments of our arrival a
veritable army of spiders, ranging in size from ones as large as my hand
to more of the monstrous ones we had just fought, were closing in on us.
Amongst them were spiders I had never seen before. They were the biggest
yet and seemed to have an almost human look to their heads and front-most
legs. They augmented their normal movement by making short teleportation
“hops”, identifying them as Phase-Spiders.
Faergil warned us to back away. Bazil, Baldric, Primrose and myself needed
no second warning and we retreated down the steps but Amber and Baynar
moved to flank the elf. Colatto hesitated for a moment but then, perhaps
prompted by his injuries, reluctantly backed away too. A fraction of a
second later Faergil unleashed a fireball into the midst of the on rushing
spiders. Instantly the interior of the temple was transformed into a blazing
inferno as the fireball ignited the webbing. There was the stomach turning
sound of spiders screaming. From the steps we saw, before thick black
smoke obscured our view, spiders exploding as the heat boiled their soft
insides and others, unaware that they were dead, thrashing around. If
Faergil ever felt any remorse at fireball-ing a temple to the elven gods
he never showed it.
Not everything inside was dead. With Amber and Baynar screening his retreat
Faergil fled the temple. A badly injured spider lunged for Amber; she
dodged in the nick of time and finished it off with her short-sword. Baynar
deftly drove back an attacking spider then, quickly changing from defence
to offence, ran it through. If we thought that we would be safe outside
the temple we were mistaken. A phase-spider appeared in front of us and
lunged for Colatto. He ducked under its attack and sunk his dagger home,
wounding but not killing it.
Amber despatched another with her dagger and the warriors, flaming debris
raining down upon them, ran from the temple with four spiders in close
pursuit. Baynar turned on the steps to engage one, deflecting its charge.
Amber continued down the steps, attacking the phase-spider in the back
and opening two weeping wounds. A second later one of the perusing spiders
caught up with her and she had to throw herself to one side to avoid its
fangs. I moved to Amber’s defence but a poorly swung club bounced
off of its shell. A thirds giant spider tried to close on Faergil but
he out manoeuvred it long enough for Primrose to reach the spider, wounding
and driving it back. Free for the moment Faergil unleashed a volley of
magical darts finishing off Baynar’s spider. No sooner had he done
this than the phase-spider, that had been till then trapped between Colatto
and Amber, disappeared. It reappearing behind Faergil. The spider lunged
forwards, it’s mouth spread sickeningly wide to reveal row upon
row of needle-like fangs. Faergil threw himself to the ground to avoid
the bite and before the phase-spider could recover for a second attack
Baynar’s sword, flashing like a steel lightning bolt, cut it’s
head from its body.
Carefully Bazil mounted the steps and glanced into the temple, the insides
were obscured by thick black smoke but he could feel the heat of flames.
Concerned that the smoke, which was billowing from every hole in the temple’s
walls and roof, would draw attention we fell back to the feast hall to
wait for the fires to burn themselves out.
The feast hall, with its golden table, was fast becoming a familiar sight
but if we had started to think of it as a place of safety we were in for
a rude awakening. No sooner had the last of us crossed the threshold then
we were plunged into an impenetrable darkness. Instinct told me that,
after a few near misses that night before, the drider had finally found
us. Quickly I began to intone a prayer to Silvanus. Before I could finish
I felt a disturbance around me as silken threads began to form out of
the very air. Luckily I was able to jump blindly to safety. Even more
luckily I was able to do so without disrupting the miracle I was casting
and a moment later it was finished, dispelling the darkness. The web I
had escaped filled a quarter of the feast hall’s floor space. Amber,
Bazil and Baynar, like myself, had escaped being ensnared in it but Colatto,
Baldric and Primrose were trapped in its thin but resilient stands. At
first glance it looked like Faergil was trapped too but I noticed that
him walk calmly through it as if it offered no more a hindrance then a
morning mist. Looking upwards I caught sight of the drider. While the
drider was male (from the waist up) I don’t think it was the same
one I saw the night before (and come to think of it, in the face of Colatto’s
discovery, why was that one carrying a bow?). He was standing, his eight
legs splayed for support, within the hole in the roof and glared down
at us with a malicious leer. Resigning himself to the fact he was trapped
in the web Brother Baldric preyed to Tymora and placed a blessing upon
Baynar to aid in the fight but how was the Lionar supposed to fight someone
perched forty feet above his head? Faergil had no such problems and, calling
upon The Art, unleashed a bolt of lightning up at the drider. The intensity
of the bolt caused me to look away but when my eyes cleared the target
of his attack was still there and apparently unharmed.
With desperate heaves Baldric and Primrose were trying to pull themselves
free of the web. Amber was facing the same problem as Baynar and hurled
useless insults up at our foe in an attempt to lure him within range of
he swords. Gambling that the being was still Drow enough to have a dark
elf’s hatred of sunlight I began to invoke the power of Silvanus
once again. Before I could finish Faergil had unleashed a volley of magical
darts upward into the drider, this time causing injury. Our enemy retaliated
quickly with a spell of his own, sending a forked bolt of lightning tearing
down towards Faergil and those, including myself, near him. Faergil, Baynar,
Bazil and myself were quick enough to avoid the brunt of the blast, though
I still received a powerful shock that stopped me finishing my prayer
of light. Amber, perhaps slowed by the venom in her veins, took the full
force of the strike and was blown off of her feet. In desperation Baynar
grabbed a fist sized lump of fallen masonry from the ground and threw
upwards only to have it snatched away, as Colatto’s arrows had been,
before it could reach it’s target.
I was determined to take the fight to our enemy and, seeking shelter under
the table, began to change shape. I had briefly considered becoming an
ape and climbing up the crumbling wall to fight but decided instead to
take the form of a hawk. By now Baynar, looking for another way up, had
left the feast hall and was running around it’s parameter. Amber
had given up her taunting and was pulling Primrose from the webbing. Underneath
the table I missed an unusual sight as the drider, identifying Faergil
as the only real threat, unleashed a volley of magical missiles of it’s
own. Each glowing dart struck the mage squarely but, like the web before
them, had no effect. Faergil retaliated with what I believe was the last
spell he had committed to memory, a fireball. The roof of the feast hall
exploded into flames. The drider was killed instantly and, plunging from
the roof, landed on the table. The legs on one side of the table collapsed
instantly but luckily the remainder lasted long enough for me to flutter
out and avoid being crushed. Burning roofing materials were already falling
from the roof by the time I had changed back. Between us we were able
to free our trapped companions and we left the feast hall.
A little battle-fatigued we wandered away from the feast hall. Amber
went no more then twenty paces when she sat down heavily and began to
sob. My heart felt for her and I felt the urge to comfort her but given
our past history decided it probably would have only made things worse.
Primrose had no such inhibitions and embraced her, asking Amber what the
matter was. Amber replied that she was frustrated at feeling directionless,
helpless. She was used to knowing what to do, how to act but felt everything
she had done since our arrival in Myth Drannor had, at best, achieved
nothing. Bazil had rescued one of the suits of elven chain from the feast
hall to replace the set she had lost but Amber was to melancholy to except
it. The mood of despondency was clearly contagious; as Primrose looked
at the rest of us to ask what we should do next I could see tears in the
corner of her eyes. I reiterated what I had said earlier, we could not
count on finding what we needed here, and we should leave Myth Drannor
to find help. When I was challenged on where we should go I suggested
going west to Shadowdale (or to be more accurate I suggested going south
but someone soon corrected my geography).
Colatto had ideas of his own and, as Amber had done only ten minutes previously,
headed back to the temple as the rest of us talked. Bazil had also headed
that way intending to milk some of the dead spiders for their venom. Covering
his mouth with a damp cloth Colatto stepped into the still smoking chamber.
No sooner had his foot crossed the threshold than the maelstrom flared
and a number of large spiders appeared.
Amber passing out had distracted the bulk of us from Colatto’s departure;
the venom in her system had finally overwhelmed her. Acting quickly Baldric
invoked the power of Tymora and healed her, returning Amber to consciousness.
We had no time for rejoicing however as, from the temple, we heard Colatto
calling out a warning.
At the sight of the spiders Colatto had shouted his warning and then ran
back to where he had seen Bazil. Bazil, however, had heard Colatto’s
warning and was already well on his way to rejoining the rest of us. A
second or so later Colatto came running into view, pursued by two of the
spiders. The spiders, while still unusually large (about the size of a
dog) were smaller then the majority we had fought but we recognised the
breed, their venom was fast acting and always fatal. Primrose moved forwards
a little to intercept the spiders but I had a plan. The distance between
them and us was great enough for to give me time to invoke a fairly long
prayer to Silvanus. As I finished the weeds that had grown through the
broken streets began to change, becoming sharp barbs. The spiders skidded
to a halt, hemmed in by the living caltrops and unable to reach us without
inflicting serious injury on themselves. Despite the heavy atmosphere
that hung over us I couldn’t help but feel a little pleased with
myself, I had finally stopped a spider attack without killing any of them.
Back together we had to decide what to do next. A very bitter argument
followed. Despite our being repulsed again and again Colatto still wanted
to search the temple. Amber had had enough and was going to leave whatever
the rest of us did. Seizing on the idea of going to Shadowdale she was
off and the rest of us could do what we liked. Primrose rounded on her
and accused Amber of abandoning her friends, again. Eventually we reached
a discussion, though hardly a harmonious one; we would leave Myth Drannor
and head west.
Turning our backs on the temple we picked our way through the rubble,
cobwebs and trees. After a while we reached a narrow cutting along which
ran a foul looking stream. Beyond this we began to come across fewer and
fewer ruins until, about half an hour after crossing the stream we finally
reached what looked like the city boundary. Oddly the grass was thick
with arrows and crossbow bolts, lying in a loss line stretching as far
from left to right as the mist let me see. Initially I thought that this
had been the sight of a great archery battle, perhaps a valiant band of
elven archers had tried to repel some invading horde during the fall of
Myth Drannor. Colatto brought me back from my flight of fancy by turning
and firing an arrow back the way we had come. The arrow flew a few feet
then turned up and over in the air to land behind Colatto amongst the
other arrows. Faergil, using his ability to see magical forces, managed
to find six enchanted arrows amongst the masses, which he gave to Colatto
(the only one of us to have a bow). The most powerful of the arrows was
a cruel looking black dart with a serrated edge and sigals in a spidery
red ink inscribed on it.
Though we were out of the city we were still within the large patch of
blackened, twisted trees. The trees were clearly ailing but not, thank
Silvanus, to the same degree as those in The Dark Watch. The forest was
silent apart from the sounds of our passage. By dusk we had finally left
the blighted trees behind, breaking out to stand amongst the health eaves
of a mighty forest. With my feet on clean soil I felt my spirits lift.
I took the liberty of breathing deeply of the first clean air since we
had ventured into the Dark Watch days before. We did not feel like camping
down right on the edge of the blighted area and, with Colatto lighting
a torch, pushed on for another half-hour or so before stopping for the
night. Amber went out to hunt for food but came back empty handed. Colatto,
using snares, had more luck and trapped a few rabbits. During this time
I set to work building a small fire. I didn’t want to offend any
treants or other children of the deep woods by cutting down trees so I
used dead wood instead, the fire smoked quite a bit to begin with but
soon we had a small fire around which we could huddle. Amber tried to
use a miracle of “Everburning Log” but found that, like Baldric
and I, she could not access the more specialist miracles. I found this
a little surprising, assuming we had moved beyond the boundaries of the
Mythal when we left the blighted trees behind. Perhaps, I thought, we
would only regain the miracles the next time we preyed. During the evening,
huddled around our small fire, we talked about what had happened in the
last forty-eight hours and what it meant for our future. I told Primrose
a few tales of past deeds of The Company of the Silver Coin (though I
think she might have heard one or two before); partially to while way
the hours till and partially to remind us all that we had achieved victory
against the odds before and without the aid of elven swords. Before going
to sleep Baldric renewed the miracle on Baynar that was keeping the poison
in his system at bay. The night was long and cold. At regular intervals
strange, disturbing noises could be heard from the way we had come, noises
it was easy to attribute to giants, gargoyles and worse, but we were unmolested.
The new dawn was pale and cold with the promise of snow. Indeed it started
snowing before we had finished our meagre breakfast but the fall was so
light that very little made it to the forest floor. As we had the previous
morning we began with prayer for the priests and study for the mages.
It was quite impressive to think how many spell and miracles we had used
between us over the last twenty-four hours. I was disconcerted to discover
that there were still miracles denied to me and that several pages of
Colatto’s spell book were blank. Once again Baldric and myself used
a lot of our Divine Favour to see to The Company’s injuries, including
Baldric finally purging the spider venom from Baynar. Though I didn’t
realise it straight away Baldric didn’t heal Amber at all; in fact
I couldn’t even remember him talking to Amber since her outburst
the previous day. It was easy to imagine that Baldric was angry, and possibly
disappointed, with her. Whatever other faults he might have Brother Baldric
was dedicated to The Company of the Silver Coin and the quests we had
found ourselves caught up in. I could not conceive of any circumstances
that would have prompted him to abandon the group and I doubt he would
have much sympathy for anyone who did.
No sooner had we broken camp when Colatto announced that he was going
to leave for Nimpeth. I hadn’t really been paying attention so I
can’t say how the subject came up but suddenly Colatto, self-controlled
but clearly angry, was telling the group how he had had enough. He felt
that we had no power over our lives, that invisible forces were pushing
as from pillar to post, from one life threatening situation to another.
Colatto’s words brought two things to my mind. One was a night in
Sembia when, on the run from The Cult of the Dragon, he had said something
very similar. The second were my own, similar, thoughts that had crossed
my mind as I tried to sleep in the feast hall two nights ago. There I
had been prepared to trust to these hidden powers, to have a bit of faith.
Colatto, I supposed, was too strong willed and independent to be satisfied
so easily. Brother Baldric tried to get him to change his mind, which
was more then he had for Amber. Eventually Colatto agreed to stay until
we reached Shadowdale where he could pick up a horse and supplies, rather
then strike out on his own in the middle of the forest.
We made slow but steady progress during the day. At one point we came
across a clear, cold river and took the opportunity to refill our water-skins.
I collected firewood as we went.
By mid evening, when we decided to make camp, the snow had stopped. As
Amber had gone off to commune with Windstrom and Colatto seemed to be
using The Art to study the black arrow Faergil had found I decided to
see if I could hunt us up some food. Little did I imagine what such a
simple decision would lead to.
With the disappearance of Faergil’s magical hole I had lost my spears
so I would have to rely on some wooden darts, a knife and a heavy dose
of luck to catch supper. Luck, however, did not seem to be on my side
and I was just contemplating abandoning my humanoid form and becoming
a predatory animal when I spotted what seemed to be a small swarm of red
fire-flys moving through the forest. A second look revealed the truth,
the wisps were ten pairs of red eyes; I had spotted a group of Drow! The
dark elves were moving swiftly through the forest, as fleeting as shadows
and making less noise then the falling snow had. Though they were not
running directly towards me it seemed impossible that they could have
overlooked me. Shouting out to my companions I turned with the intention
of heading for a nearby patch of thorny bushs. Before I had taken a step
I was plunged into an inky darkness. I ran on regardless. Luck must have
been on my side after all as, while I ran, I heard the distinct sound
of two crossbow bolts whistle past. The third found its mark just as I
plunged into the bush. The wound was nothing but I felt a numbing cold
pass through my body. Fighting off the effects I passed, by the grace
of Silvanus, unscathed through the thorns and out of the area of the magical
darkness. Looking back I found the field of darkness obscured my view
of the dark elves. Making my best guess I called upon Silvanus to animate
the plants in the area I thought the Drow were in an attempt to entangle
them. No sooner had I done so than I was enveloped in darkness once again.
Of my companions Amber, Baynar, Primrose and Faergil were making towards
where they though I was. Bazil was also on his way but taking a more stealthy
approach. Brother Baldric quickly called upon Tymora to bless him while
Colatto cast a spell of invisibility upon himself.
I heard a cry of pain from where I thought the Drow should be and then
Amber’s voice (too close to me to be responsible for the cry of
pain unless she had performed a miraculous feat of dagger throwing) from
off to one side asking who was hurt. I was unable to reply at the time
as I was already invoking a miracle to light to negate the darkness. I
didn’t have to however has suddenly the darkness around myself and
Amber disappeared thanks to a counter-spell cast by, I think, Colatto.
While the darkness had existed it and my miracle would simply have negated
each other but now I could use it to illuminate the forest around me as
clearly as daylight. There was one Drow lying dead in the patch of writhing
grasses and roots (Bazil later suggested that, when the dark elf had become
trapped his fellows had killed him to prevent capture) and the remaining
nine fleeing, their heads bowed and hands raised to ward off the light.
I was beginning to consider how lucky my escape was when I noticed a green
flame amongst them. I decided to follow them and began to shift shapes,
throwing aside the form of a half-dragon to take on that of an owl. I
had only just finished when an intense blue-white flash illuminated the
forest as Faergil unleashed a lightning bolt into the backs of the fleeing
Drow. When my vision cleared I saw that all but two of the dark elves
were dead. Wincing at the sight of the a blackened and chard path of trees
that linked Faergil to the dark elves I began to fly towards them, Amber,
Baynar and Primrose close behind. Already one of the dark elves was on
his feet and fleeing into the forest. The second survivor, his body held
awkwardly as if he were trying to conceal something beneath his cloak,
was picking up a bundle from one of his dead comrades. The bundle was
short, less then two feet long, and where its wrappings had come loose
an increasingly familiar green flame could be seen. Before I could reach
the dark elves Faergil and Colatto finished the pair off with a volley
each of magical darts.
I landed beside the dead elves and quickly changed back. Bazil, who had
circled all the way around in an attempt to catch the Drow off guard,
reached me just as I unwrapped the glowing bundle to reveal a short-sword
with its hilt sculpted to look like a tree and a flaming green aura playing
along the blade. It was Evaelathil, The Scouts Blade. I returned it to
No sooner had Amber and Baynar, with Primrose bringing up the rear, reach
Bazil and I when we heard Faergil calling out to us. Amber instructed
us to keep searching the dark elves while she ran back to see what had
happened. Looking under the dark elf’s cloak I found a longer bundle
that, once unwrapped, revealed Faervian, The Mage’s Blade. On the
body of another dark elf, the other one to survive the lightning bolt,
we found Dragathil, The Lovers’ Blade. Bazil liberated dozens of
crossbow bolts from the bodies as well as several of daggers and, I think,
a short-sword; all forged from the same, distinctive black steel. Baynar
collected the Drow’s black cloaks, which had survived the lightning
bolt surprisingly well.
The recovery of Blades of Demron would certainly give a much-needed boost
to The Company’s moral but where had the dark elves got them from?
As we headed back to join Amber and the others (there had been no more
shouts for assistance, a good sign) I considered discussing with Baldric
the use of necromancy to summon one of the dark elves’ spirits to
tell us how they came by the swords. Perhaps they knew where our other
missing equipment was too.
We found Amber, Faergil and Baldric (but not Colatto, he was still invisible)
standing around the edge of the patch of undergrowth I had animated. As
well as the dead dark elf there was now a second, very much alive elf.
She was a moon-elf and was in conversation with Baldric. Faergil had seen
her running through the forest, apparently in pursuit of the Drow, but
her course had taken her through the patch of entangling grass. I had
just returned the two enchanted swords to Amber and Colatto (I was plenty
practised at handing things to people I couldn’t see after spending
the last few Rides with an invisible Bazil) when the elf told Baldric
her name; she was Josiah Maerdrym.
The name certainly got my attention; to meet a descendent of Arriane Maerdrym
could not be mere chance. When I told her we had recently met her noble
ancestor in Chondal Wood (as well as taking the opportunity to tell her
that I couldn’t revoke the miracle but it would end in a minute
or two) she looked at me like I was mad. Her looks of incredulity only
increased as we tried to tell her that we had just come from the ruins
of Myth Drannor where we had lost the Blades of Demron. Josiah rather
icily informed us that she had been part of a group on their way from
Myth Drannor. They had been carrying the three Blades of Demron when Drow
had attacked them and stolen the swords. I am embarrassed to admit to
being bemused, she clearly thought it was seven hundred years ago and
that the ruins of Myth Drannor, only a day and a half’s travel behind
us, were still a living city. The truth was quicker to dawn with Amber
and Baldric. It was us not her that had the dates wrong, The Legacy of
Srinshee had moved us not only in space but seven centuries back in time!
We were now in 712 Dale Reckoning, just before the fall of Myth Drannor!
The ruins that we had left behind were in fact “Elven Court”;
the original seat of elven power until it had been destroyed by the Drow.
As I wrestled with this brain twisting revelation Josiah admitted why
she was so anxious to get out of the bindings (beyond the obverse reason
of cause), in her pursuit of the Drow she had left her sister badly injured
at the ambush site. No sooner had she heard this then Amber was off, using
her tracking skills to locate Josiah’s trail and follow it back.
Before Amber had got too far the miracle of entanglement ended. Josiah
pulled herself stiffly to her feet, for the first time I noticed how badly
injured she was. I helped her to her feet and with a shock realised that
I had met her before, not as a living, breathing elf but as one of the
Baelnorns of The Vale of Lost Voices. I supported her as she led us back
to the sight of battle, quickly catching up with Amber as we went.
I can’t really recall much of our rushed passage through the dark
forest; my mind was still trying to make sense of what we had just learnt.
A gateway to the past! Now that was worthy of being called the Srinshee’s
greatest feat of magic. No wonder someone, probably the Srinshee herself,
had gone to so much trouble to cast a veil over its nature, the potential
for misuse was immeasurable. And now, thanks to our unwitting help, eight
Drow Arch-Mages were loose in the past. What could they hope to achieve?
Did they plan to bring some lost artefact or person forward to the present
to help in their war? Or could time be changed and they intend to use
their knowledge of future events to reshape history to their mistress’s
liking? I would have to be vigilant; it was not only those with evil hearts
who might try to “improve” history. Some of my companions,
out of the best motives, might be tempted too.
It took us about five minutes, I think, to reach the scene of battle.
The forest for tens of yards in all directions was blasted and blackened,
testament to it having been a clash of The Art as well as steel. There
must have been close to one hundred bodies. Thirty of them were Drow.
Of the rest most were surface elves but there were humans, halfling and
dwarves among the dead too. Almost white with worry Josiah led us to a
young (by their standards) elven woman who lay face down in the earth.
Her life-blood was clearly ebbing away so I quickly I employed the last
of the healing force granted by Silvanus to keep her alive. A low moan
told me she was returning to consciousness so Baldric and I turned her
over. As her eyes fluttered open I don’t know which of us was more
amazed; the elf at seeing a half-dragon leaning over her or myself at
the face that stared put at me. It was years, no centuries, younger but
it was unmistakably the face of the woman we had seen torn apart by the
fiend Xrakvr in Rucien-xan. It was Arriane Maerdrym...
I used the following references:
Cormanthor - Information on Elven Court
Eliminster Ecologies - Information on the Cormanthor
Fall of Myth Drannor - Information on the Fall and the Blades of Demron
So there you have it. After all this time the power of the legacy
is finally revealed - a time portal.
Just to recap (you have been paying attention right?) Arriane Maerdrym
is the elf woman who took the swords of Demron after the falling of Myth
Drannor, to Rucien Xan, where she would wait for the Slaver King to come
to her... Check Book 1 chapter 8 and Book 3 chapter 7 for more information.
Josiah was on of the Baelnorns the PCs met in Book 1 chapter 2. Bet
that seems a long time 'ago' now.
Return to Journey...