Deep within the dark, were elves meet
Dancing, prancing, they dance deep
Rejoicing in dark delights
Away from the sun's lights
Here the minions of Lolth lay their blades
Waiting to strike at the day, upon the glades
The Dark Lady with all her beauty
And desire, can bring hope to the
Dark Elves dire.
With a tear from the Dark Lady's fire
Will the children of Lolth feel the sun's rays
The great market known as the bazzare, a place in the drow city of Menzoberanzan, was quite crowded this day, as merchants both dark elf, and other types of peddlers plied their wares. People walked about the twisting streets of the large drow city underneath the cool light of Narbondel. Its light fairy fire cascading about the stony caverns of the underdark.
Aridane Na-doeran, shifted beneath his dark piwafwi; the dark elven cloak, that could shade any dark elf in shadows. Aridane walked down the main street by merchants hawking their wares. The voices of races of all types could be heard. A rare surface human not afraid of the reputation of the drow, sold robes of the finest Calishite silk to a drow noble who gazed at the fabric with wonder, never seeing the like.
Aridane looked with disgust, ever since the Time of the Gods, more and more non-drow seemed to be coming into his beloved city. The look of a surface dweller often made him sick. He continued to walk, moving through a throng of people, as if they were a underdark dust. As he journeyed he could make out the middle of the square where several carts, and stands were stationed. At one cart he could see several, humanoids with orange, yellow skin moving about, hoisting jars of fine levee porcelain, and liquids. If anything made Aridane's stomach twitch more than surface folk, it was goblins. He hated goblins due to look of the disgusting beasts. Often enough goblins were slaves in drow society, and thought of mostly as cannon fodder, to be bred between the constant battling within the great drow houses of Menzoeberanzan.
Another passer by bumped into the young drow, and Aridane's hands flew to his blades beneath his cloak. Just as the blades started to slip out of their sheaths, he remembered the mission he was on. It would have been all right to slice the person down right there on the street, it happened every day. But Aridane was above that. He believed in stealth, as did the rest of his guild. Bregan De'arthe, the great assassin guild of Menzo-baranzan, was well known by all, yet it would not be wise to send out a open call to announce one of their members was about. There were many dark elves indeed that held grudges against the assassins guild, and its founder, the assassin Jaraxle.
Aridane just shook his blue starlight hair and called out "Wael !" fool in drow tongue.
Unlike the other drow elves that shopped and sold their goods, Aridane displayed a mane of blue hair that was unlike the white, that most drow were born with. He was larger than most coming close to six feet in height, even with his cloak on; the outline of his body told of his physical strength, joined with blue eyes, that glowed a deep reddish yellow when he looked into the infrared spectrum. Often to other drow he was a fearsome sight to behold because of his natural gifts.
As he walked by another vender, Aridane's eyes narrowed, as a woman, dark in skin complexion like his, strode toward him. She wore a black dress, with silver trim lining the cuts of the outfit, her mane of white hair ran straight down, past her hips, long legs appeared from within the dress. At her chest, the blouse was cut in a V-shape, showing just enough of her cleavage. At her side was a wicked whip that slithered by its own accord.
Aridane quickly grasped his blades, holding them under his cloak. He then kneeled as she walked by him.
The drow women's eyes flashed from deep red as she gazed at Aridane to bright orange. He noted her pleasure, as her eyes shifted.
The drow priestess smile beamed, it was not a smile of friendship, or goodwill - it was a smile of lust. She motioned over to the kneeling elf and grabbed him by the chin hoisting him up; like a mouse to a cat.
" I see you are large and strong, unlike most males." She drooled, the smile grew greater.
Aridane said nothing, letting his silence speak for him.
" And silent as well, just my lucky day to find such a toy as you." Her hand began to feel the out line of his shoulders. Aridane almost pulled back.
When he was young Jaraxle had often told him to beware the priestesses of Lolth. Much like a black widow spider, a priestess of Lolth had a sting that often proved dangerous to many a young male drow.
Respectfully, Aridane stepped back, and returned a warm smile albeit fake.
"Perhaps this evening mistress, at your home, when Narbondel falls."
The priestess face beamed with eager anticipation.
" So be it drowling, come to the house of Vandee when Narbondel falls, speak the name of Bridalen and if you should disappoint me, you will know Lolth's wraith. " She said holding a many headed snake whip. " Before I go as well what is your name drowling.", she asked.
"My name is Darcel of House Tormtor." Aridane replied remembering a minor noble he had killed in battle. The priestess laughed as she recognized the house's name. She then gave Aridane a wicked smile and continued to walked off.
Letting out a sigh of relief Aridane, continued down the paved road of the bazzare.
It would take almost the rest, of the day before he found what he sought. Already Narbondel's light was shifting toward evening time, and not a safe time to be in the streets. Yet all he had to do was find the one shop that Jaraxle had told him to seek out. As he walked down the large expanse of the bazarre, he found the merchant stand he had been seeking.
The stand was nothing but a mere hut. it was made of shaply wood, with a large opening in the front. it stood about seven feet high, and two men length long. Draped above the opening was a ripped tattered covering, that must have been used to hide items with in. Upon the front was a small wooden plank that held different items, of both sur-face and dark elven material.
Aridane smiled as he gazed at the bobbles. He could see fine gems that were fashioned by dwarven hands. He was amazed at the craftsmanship. Beside the gems he saw a finely crafted longsword. The blade itself was fashioned out of the finest steel he had ever seen. The hilt was exquisite as well, being shaped in the form of a sur-face elf, draped in long flowing robes. Two rubies flashed in the waning fairy light, from the hilt.
"Do you like." A voice came from with in the merchant shack.
Aridane lifted his head from the blade, and looked for the voice.
" You will not find its make any where in the underdark, it is one of a kind." The voice said, as slim body walked from the back and could be seen in the light. Aridane had already made out the form of the figure, and knew it was a woman.
Indeed it was a woman. She was a slender drow a little over five feet four inches in height. Like other drow females, she wore her hair long and down. It re-minded Aridane of a flowing cavern water fall. The drowess eyes also flashed with a deep intensity; shifting to a orange color as her eyes began to adjust to the infrared spectrum.
She walked over to the table and smiled her small hands gesturing over her goods.
"Do you like what you see drowling." Her hands flashed in the drow secrete hand code. It was followed by a slight smile, as her fingers tapped the table.
" Yes, the blade is beautiful, like you." Aridane flashed back, his finger intricately responding.
The women spoke up and adjusted the leather jerkin that hugged her torso and slim waist. A small sound of metal links also went off , as she moved in her elven chain-mail.
" So what will it be my friend, buying or personal business. If its personal it will cost you more than you have." She laughed, shaking her wild mane of hair.
Aridane simple grinned. "I have personal buisness with the owner, and if that is you, perhaps you could give me the sword for free." He said as he reached for the blade. Usually such actions would brought a quick death, but Aridane wasn't worried. The women's hands shot to her back and a slender black blade, long from hilt to point was know pointed towards Aridane's chest.
The male dark elf, let out a large laugh, and simple pushed the blade away.
"As fast as ever, huh Tiadel?"
The elf women known as Tiadel sheathed her blade, and moved about the stand. She walked over to the Aridane and kissed him lightly on the lips.
" You were all ways a trouble maker, Aridane. It seems nothing has changed."
Aridane smiled broadened, but dark clouds began to rise in his mind and his thoughts flew to what Jaraxle had commanded him to do. He slowly pushed Tiadel back and his grin widened.
"Go ahead and take the blade, I thought it would look good on you anyway." She replied taking the fine blade, and its fine brown scabbard with it. Aridane took the sword and slung it behind him.
Tiadel looked at the young drow, and grasped his hands.
" There is so much to tell you, and so little time. I won't be staying long in Menzoberranzan, only today and this evening. Then I 'll be heading to Ched Nasad to open a larger booth. Maybe we could talk tonight at our favorite meeting place, past Dornigarten, in our cave.
Aridane shook his head. "I would not miss this chance, you have much to tell me about you adventures in the outside world, and what goes on in other places."
"Then so be it , meet me at Zilvra cavern when Narbondel wanes." She said again kissing him lightly.
Aridane returned her kiss. Yet doubt was deep in his heart. What Jaraxle said could not be true. How could Tiadel be a traitor to the drow. He had known Tiadel since his days as a young rouge on the streets, learning the skills needed to be a part of Bregan D'aerthe. She was nothing but a young female elf, a young rich merchants daughter. Yet when he had met her, she was like no other female drow he had ever met. Most of the women he known would scold him and treat him horribly. Tiadel never did those things. If anything she made him feel good, something he was not used to.
He could not bring himself to believe Jaraxle. But why would his mentor lie to him? Aridane knew in his mind a trusting elf, usually meant a dead one.
The inner argument was a moot point. He had been given an order to kill her and that was what he would do. What made this female elf so different than the other drow he had killed.
Tiadel, gazed at him. Aridane seemed to shiver at the sight , her eyes bore through his soul like a hot poker through steel.
"I shall be there." He said lowly and wrapped his piwawfi about his body .
The Rest of the Day went quickly in Menzoboerranzan. Narbondel's fire shedding less light than before, as what passed for day in the underdark waned.
Aridane felt the coolness of darkness descend, and his eyes quickly shifted into the infrared vision of the drow. He made sure he had all the things he would need for his mission. About his belts were two fey daggers laced with poison. At his right side, hung the long sword that Tiadel had given him, and joining the blade was a short sword of dark elven make. The Assassin quickly walked through the streets of Menzoberranzan, toward the icy lake which was known as Dornigarten. Minutes passed and he could see the still waters of the large lake before him. Across the great body of water he could make out a large island which was used to breed Rothe, underdark herd animals used as a food supply.
Scanning about Aridane sprinted to the edge of the lake as if to plummet into the still waters, he then called upon his innate abilities which all drow held with in their be-ing. Instantly he began to rise, and a faint blue luminances appeared about his body. He floated high above the cavern, clearing more than a hundred feet . The Assassin looked up and could see, stalagmites of all types both large and small loom above him, like the fangs of some great, dark beast.
Quickly he shifted and contorted his body almost spider like, and began to feel along the ceilings of the great cave. He searched for the hole he would need to travel to the secrete cave deep with in the rock known as the mantle. It took the young drow several moments to find the nook he searched for. Aridane gazed about the passage ways, and wondered if the way had shrunk since he was last here almost thirty years ago.
It had been that long, he mused quickly moving about the dark as if born to them. He remembered the last time he ran down these corridors. It was the last time he had seen Tiadel, before she had gone off to be a recon scout for house Baenre during the war with the Mithril Hall Dwarves. He had not fought during that conflict, Jaraxle having other special duties for him. After the whole disastrous affair, word had come that Tiadel had fought well . Even more surprising she had fought well above on the surface, against man and dwarf . Aridane remembered the funny light in her eyes when last they talked. It was the day they had come to Zilvra Cavern, right before the war with the Mithril Hall dwarves. They both had professed the way of ssinssrigg, the drow word for love.
Aridane wondered, perhaps it was the short time on the surface that had affected her. Could Jaraxle be right ? But how could she betray the drow? And why was Jaraxle concerned. The only explanation Aridane could afford as he sifted through the dark corridor, was the fact Jaraxle had been hired, and who better to kill a traitor to the drow, than a person who knew the offender. Aridane's began to sweat , as he rounded the bend into another corridor.
As he turned, he could hear soft squishy sounds above him. Quickly the trained assassin spun about and hid against a large stalactite thrusting from the ground. Gazing up he could see that the sounds were coming from a green skinned creature making its way across the ceiling. It was a giant lizard longer than two drow but together. Its skin was slimy, and sported small scales all about the wet flesh. Giant hind-leg sprouted from its back, and seemed to be stuck onto the rock. The lizards paws acting like suction grips.
Upon the back of the lizard, was a rider upside down. The rider was a drow wear-ing fine dark-elven chain links about his chest. In one hand he held the reins of the beast , and in his other hand he held, an odd spear. Aridane knew of this spear, it was called a Death Lance , which could discharge burst of electricity, enough to stun.
The weapon could also be used to kill as well.
Aridane gripped his long sword and hoped he would not have shed the blood of the guard. He wanted this to go smooth and easy. The long head of the creature lopped around and sniffed the air, it then plodded away, with its rider on back. Aridane quickly moved down the corridor. It would not have been nice to find out that one of Jaraxle's men had been caught by a mere sentry. Aridane grinned at the thought.
Zilvra Cavern, was a large open area. It was so large it was possible to fit two of the great houses of Menzoberranzan, with in its walls. The Cavern also held a small waterfall that cascaded from many cracks in the structure. The water would then flow down holes into the waiting lake below. Stalagtites of all kind jutted from above, as well as a few Stalagmites.
Aridane walked into the meeting place, heavy of heart. Jaraxle had been specific, he had to kill, Tiadel. He had killed many other drow, on Bregan De'aerth's orders, and then he held no sympathy. Why then did he feel something know. After all she was nothing but a merchants daughter. What could happen to him underneath the cloak of Bregan De'aeth, and Jaraxle, he wondered entering the large structure. Even as he en-tered the cavern he could hear faint sounds of flute playing coming from the distance.
There sat Tiadel near the outer reach of the pool created by the waterfall. In her small hand she held, a golden flute, made out of a kind of material he had never seen before. The flute was long, with several holes, where fingers danced, and carved into it were pictures of elven women leaping about a roaring fire. He quickened his step, as she continued to play.
Tiadel gazed at the young drow elf, and wondered if she had made the right choice. She had known Aridane since they were both young, running about the streets of the Bazarre. Still it had been several years since they had last met. She wondered, if the ways of Lolth had claimed another of her people and friends. Friends, she almost halted her playing. What were friends in the underdark, she mused. Dark lady if I ever needed you now give me strength, she preyed inwardly as the tune continued.
Aridane had heard many drow melodies before, This music was different , gone were the dark tones used in dark elf music, left out were the unique signature sounds of the drow. Now the melodies were replaced by tunes that chirped, and high musical sound different than those marked to the drow of the underdark . This music spoke volumes, it spoke of the the elves of above.
Jaraxle's words rang true.
She had committed the most heinous crime a dark elf could commit, she had turned from the ways of her people to the ways of the surface world; the ways of the surface elves.
Aridane showed no recognition of what was going on in his head. He simply walked over towards her and sat at her side. Now the flute had stopped and her voice took flight. Even with all the emotion and thoughts churning within Aridane listened. He listened well.
When both elves, of dark and light danced above
the world , joy and happiness and took wings of a dove .
Here the Seledrine heard our cares, and saw us fair
Eilistraee danced about the flames of love with dare
Only to have her children torn and tarred .
Lolth came , striding high , dark elf soldiers riding by
Elilistraee's sadness, a growing frown
Eilistraee's tears of the dark maiden down ...
Aridane put his hand on her leg, and moved closer to her. His gaze came about the great waterfall which cascaded down from above. The trickling wa-ter emptied into the caverns below.
Aridane slowly turned, and stared at the woman he had known so long. She sat on a pillar of stone. Oynx gems glistening like her dark skin, Tiadel slowly brought down her flute and held the taller elf chin.
Sweat beaded down Aridane forehead. He found his fingers wrapped around the poisnioned elven daggers at his side. How can I kill her, he thought , I love her. He shook his head as if to ward away the evil thoughts. Still they came to him. It was Aridane's choice, he would have to choice between, Jaraxle and Bregan De'arthe, or the only women he cared for .
"What 's wrong ?" Her soft voice , purred. He peered at her. Then he gave her a weak smile, then sighed.
"Nothing, I was just thinking about the song." Aridane's arms went about her waist. Tiadel returned his smile, flashing one of her own. She gently brought him closer.
She could feel his tight muscles underneath his clothing, and she rested her head on his chest. She could feel the rythems of his chest rise and fall with every breath, and she knew the moment was near.
Aridane could almost taste the perfume Tiadel wore. It had the smell of wild dark berries and another fragrance he could make out . The dark elf could feel the women supple body beneath his. His soul crashed as he saw in his heart what Tiadel had become.
Now was the time to act.
Slowly his hands came from about her, and without any movments the daggers came to his hands. Tiadel knew the moment had arrived. She held Aridane close to her, and tears began to flow as she looked Aridane. Her small mouth uttered the words that would crack his heart.
"Strike true my love... I have known all along. " She said tears rolling down from her beautiful orbs. It was those very eyes that brought Aridane in.
"I have to..." Aridane pleaded with himself and her. Like a waiting viper, the dag-gers were poised to strike.
"Then let me par take in something I have never known little until now, my love. Let me enjoy your embrace one last time." She said and her mouth sought his.
Aridane's world crashed. All he had ever known was gone.
The kiss was beyond belief. All of Aridane's being had opened. He had never felt like this in his life. He had never been so free, so released. He opened his eyes for a brief moment. Aridane gazed at the visage of Tiadel. Something was different about the woman. She had a glow about her, cascading in rich blue. Her skin took a lighter tinge of darkness, and her features were more defined. Aridane pulled away.
The woman that had been Tiadel, only smiled. She wore no cloths. Her body was smooth without blemishes. Her eyes where the richest hazel, Aridane had ever seen.
"What... What's going on? What's happned to Tiadel?" Aridane asked, bringing up the daggers he still held in his hands.
She is fine , she still inhabits this body young drow, the voice said with raw emo-tion and majesty. Tiadel body moved closer. Long have I watched you , Aridane. Long have I watched over Menzoberranzan, awaiting one such as you. You know not what awaits you on the surface world , Tiadel's voice was her's no longer.
Aridane stepped back again. He didn't know what to make of this situation. He had seen possesion before. He had seen many powerful drow spellcasters bring forth de-mons, or spirits to reanimate the dead. But in everyone of those case, he had felt dread. Here he felt only a feeling of peace and trust .
"Who are you.", he asked.
I am the one, who never left the light, the one who danced upon the fields of green, while others danced below. I am daughter, and Foe to Lolth . I am Elistree! the voice was like thunder. Her every word shook the cavern.
Shock took Aridane. Could this really be one of the mosted hated beings known to the drow, he wondered.
Seeing Aridane's confusion, Elistree in the body of Tiadel, spoke.
I will answer your question young drow. The women you speak of came to me lost upon the surface world. She was alone, left by her bretheren wounded and battered . She wandered many days after the battle of Mithril hall , until she came upon those who worshipped me. It was there that she learned my ways, and was brought back into the light. All of her being was known to me . You were known to me. A young drow untainted by the corruption of the LLoth. The mercernary Jaraxle 's one minute of mercy was my luck - for you never truly grew into the ways of drow society. I saw all through her past. I saw all the good times, rare by drow standard s. I saw the love you shared. It was this reason I sent her to you. Elistree paused and bent low. In her hand water dripped forth. She gazed at the young elf. She knew she had little time, already those who followed Lolth were on there way.
Aridane, the choice is now yours t o make. I offer you a new beginning . I offer a new life, away from darkness and senseless slaughter . Would you be my champion, the first of many?
If Aridane had not been shocked before, the offer he had just heard couldn't be believed. A goddess had just offered him service. A being that could level mountians had just offererd him something he had never dreamt of. Aridane's drow suspicions arised. From what he knew about Elistree, even though she was a drow goddess who walked in the light , she was still drow. If flesh , she would have the same kind of skin, and the same kind of thinking. Being drow often meant asking for something, otherwords it meant payback of some kind.
"If I accepted what would I recieve." Aridane slowly sheathed his daggers, knowing full well his puny dagger could do nothing to a goddess.
Elistree smirked. This made Aridane flinch, since it was Tiadel's smile.
I offer you the chance to leave this dark place behind. I offer you the chance to strike out at those who would cause pain and suffering. You would know the sun like you ancesters. Is that not enough. Elistree moved closer to him. I have given my secret to you. I have sent one of my most trusted servants to you, and if you serve my cause you will find out who you truly are.
Aridane gazed at the woman-goddess, as her hand wrapped slowly about his torso. He looked at Tiadel, and saw her features return to the way they once were. The blue glow disappated, and her cloths returned, as if they had never left.
Tiadel grinned. Aridane, simply gazed at the drow woman. Her hands wrapped around the young man, and she drew him in tightly. The kiss was passionate, just as it had been before.
This time Aridane returned it, full of heat and longing. If this was the price he would have to pay to be Elistree services, then he would do it. If he had to gain the love of this woman he would leave the underdark forever. No longer would he have to kill, or be the one who was killed next.
He would experience a world he had never known, with Tiadel at his side. His mind made up, he would not kill Tiadel, he would love her for the rest of his days.
Aridane, and Tiadel kissed for many moments, embracing each other. Aridane had never known such passion. Even as they kissed, he felt somehting was wrong. Something was odd. An image flashed in his head. How did Jaraxle know about Tiadel? And why not send someone else to kill her. Things didn't make sense. As Aridane was about to pull back to gather some air, he felt Tiadel jerk. Breaking the em-brace, he gazed at Tiadel pain stricken eyes. Wet, dark liquid came forth from her back and washed over Aridane's hands. He watched on astonished.
" Tiadel!" The elf yelled. Both slumped to the floor. He could see a fine dagger sticking out of her back. It was black, and on the blade were sigils of blue power.
Aridane knew these sigils. They were of Bregan De'arthe, the symbols matched the ones sheathed at his belt. Aridane looked at the women he loved and brushed back a lock of white hair. Tiadel mouth opened, and soft words trickled from her mouth.
"Don't let me die... Not when we're ... So close...To being together."
"You won't die... don't worry everthing will be all right." Aridane slowly pulled the dagger out. Tiadel shook and let out a long wail. He held her tightly, and looked about the cavern. Where had the dagger come from? He wondered, as his eyes shifted into infrared mode. Still there was nothing. No heat patterns, nothing. He could here breathing from the entrance of the cave. Slowly his sight fell upon a red image, that entered the cave. It was at least as large as two drow. It made plodding noises as it entered rearing up upon the ceiling. The young mercenary, could also make out a rider.
Damn! Aridane swore as he saw the dark elf rider he had seen before he had entered the cavern. Also behind him were two more heat signatures. These were drow, of that Aridane had no doubt. He marked the way they walked.
Both figures, moved gracefully, striding on the tip of their toes, not on balls of their feet.. The one on the right moved like one on water, easily juggling three daggers in his hand. The one on the left matched his mates' stride easily, both of his hands clasping the folds of his cape. Aridane noted the lizard rider high above him, holding on to the leathal death-lance.
Tiadel gazed up at Aridane, and smiled weakly. "Three against one...Not fair odds."
"Shh... don't speak, rest ." His hand fell to her face.
"I am dying anyway at least let me die fighting." She said moving up. Aridane looked on in shock. She had been cut down with a dagger , yet she still had enough energy to stand.
"It is the dark lady's power. Some still flows through me." She said weakly, blood drippng from her mouth. Aridane simply glanced at her and grabbed her hand.
The two elves that had enteredthe cavern, shuffled closer to the rock which Aridane and Tiadel had sat earlier. With grace, the one on the right brought up his hand and flashed in drow hand talk.
"Thank you Aridane for bringing us to the prize. Jaraxle knew you would do the job." The drow fingers flashed. He doffed his hood, and Aridane's mouth almost dropped. The man's face was covered entirely with a mask of worked mithirl. The color was a light yellow-white . The man's arms were compltely barren exept for armbands made of the same material.
Aridane sneered, at the drow, and flashed back.
" You used me."
"Of course. Do you think Jaraxle would leave this assignment to you. Oh you did.... didn't you. You thought you were his favorite. You forgot about me and my brother Platinum." The Mithril masked dark elf replied. His voice was disguised by a strange metallic ring to it as he spoke. The drow on the right doffed his hood as well, and like the other, he had a mask.
This mask was not made of Mithril but of solid Platinum.
Aridane begn to sweat. Before him were Bregan De'arthe's best assassins, beside him and Jaraxle himself. Platinum and Mithril they were called, known after the metals that made up their masks. These two drow, were the best Bregan De'arthe had to offer. Aridane hand slowly went to his side, where his longsword was. He then looked toward Mithril.
"So you come to kill both of us."
"No. Just the woman. You are to go before Jaraxle for punishment!" The metallic voice rang out again sending a shiver down the young drow spine. "But if you put up a fight and die in the process, that will save us the time in not having to return your dead body. "
"You think its going to be that easy." Aridane drew the longsword Tiadel had given him and his short sword. The elven enchantment came to life, in a glare of purple, blue fire.
" Well it looks like the boy has teeth, lets find out if those teeth are sharp." Mithril looked toward his brother. Platinum only shook his head.
Aridane turned toward Tiadel. She could barely stand, almost falling to her knees.
"Can you hold on for one more fight?" he asked her.
"For you... yes." She replied softly.
"You take the lizard rider, I'll take the brothers. They're the strongest." he whip-sered moving up.
Mithril jumped down from the rock, and slowly withdrew two fine daggers from his mithril armbands.
"I thought this was going to be easy. I should have known I would have to do this the hard way. Come brother." Mithril strode over to Aridane.
Tiadel could see the battle was about to be joined. The female elf hoisted herself up with all the might she had left, and carefully fingered the rapier at her side. The poison was working well, and would soon be heading toward her heart. She smiled wickedly as she saw the plodding lizard rider moving high above her head. Ther rider was moving towards Aridane's exposed side.
Calling upon her innate abilities, the dark elf began to rise as she called upon her spell of levitation. Like a bird from above the surface, she had seen often, she rose and took flight. The rider hadn't seen her yet. All the better for her. For the first time in many years she would be true to her drow heritage, and fight with the ruthlessness of her people.
Aridane, ducked as the long mithril dagger tore at the air above.
The dagger was of a fine make.
He could tell that this weapon was not crafted by drow hands, but dwarven. It was possibly taken during the war with the Mithril Hall dwarves. The Assassin reared back, as Platinum veered in from his right side.
Platinum weilded a lethal barbed two-handed bastard sword that could cleave Aridane in two. The young dark elf was a split second faster, as he brought about his own long sowrd and foiled Platinum's death blow.
In came Mithril as his brother worked his bastard sword. Aridane saw the drow elf come in and sent his shortsword, to block the dagger. Steel rang with steel. Aridane had never faced fighters of this kind, and was pushed back into a defensive posture. There was no way to counter their attacks, even with the flurry of sword strikes. How could he win?
Aridane shifted his feet and brought his long sword in a arcing slice. Platinum fell back, as the blade cut through his chain-mail. Mithril was in taking his brothers spot. He worked the daggers right then left, then reversed. Clang, Clang, Clang, Aridane blocked them all, long sword singing. Aridane brought pressure on Mithril. In went the short-sword,stab, thrust, then swipe. Mithril smiled, and smacked each strike away with ease. He then came up close, he swung with a open hand, then spun to the floor, sweeping his leg out. Aridane guessed the manuveur perfectly, jumping into the air and calling upon in innate ability of levitation.
Aridane was too preoccuied to see the drow lizard rider behind him, death lance out and ready to strike.
Tiadel did. The drow warrioress, soared in. With one out stretched hand she called forth another of her drow born abilities, and cast darkness upon the rider. Before the rider could respond, he was engulfed in inky blackness. Tiadel levitated into the dark globe, and slashed out. Her rapier struck something. It felt like flesh. There was a great moaning sound. Instantly something shot passed her, missing her by inches. Tia-del pinwheeled out of the globe of darkness, into the open. Her body was then cov-ered with a purple light, as she was illuminated with fairy fire. Damn, she cursed, as some blood came forth from her mouth. At least she had protected Aridane's back side.
Before her, she could see the lizard rider floating toward her. He was holding his right side under his ribs. The drow was dying. Blood flowed like Zilvra's waterfalls. The drow cursed and a sneer came to his features. She read what was on his mind from the controtions on his face. If the drow was going to die he would take her with him.
Easy enough she was dying anyway.
A mace of wicked make came to the drow's hand, and gleamed with light created from it. Tiadel felt her body rack with pain. Not now damn it, she clenched her teeth, and saw the dark elf move near. She played possum, stilling herself, ready to strike .
The drow raised his mace high above his head, and began the killing blow. Tiadel reacted swiftly. With all the strength she could muster, she plunged the rapier home. Steel tore through flesh and intestine. The drow gazed at his second wound. He could not believe what had happened, before he could figure it out, he was all ready dead.
Spent Tiadel flicked the body off her sword, which floated in the air. When the enchantment dissapated, it would then float down. She lowered her self by the mouth of the large pool. The poison was working slow. The assassins did their job well coating their daggers with deep arachnid poison. Deep arachnids were spiders of the underdark that even drow feared. One bite, and the venom instantly killed. In Tiadel's case a small portion of her goddesss had remained. It was that small portion that helped her survive this long. The dark elf knew that her time of living was almost at hand, and she only hoped that Aridane would survive.
Aridane was tiring out. His arms were going numb from parrying and blocking. In the air it was worse, for know he fought both Mithril and Platinum in a ballet of steal and death. Aridane was sandwhiched between the two drow assassins. Mithril was to the front and Platinum was to the back side. Aridane was a good fighter, a better asassin, but here he had found his match, or had he.
Aridane cancled out his levitation spell, and plummeted down to the dirt below. He rolled and came to his feet, both weapons out. That trick had given him a small respite. gazing at the two drow, the answer had come to him. Both fought together well, alone they were both good. But alone they could be taken. Their weakness relied on their dependence as a team. If he could kill one the other would fall.
Floating in the air Mithril cackled, his laugh sounding errie and metallic.
"Well done, whelp. I have never seen any one so skilled in blade battle in a long time. In time you might even have your name in honor of the most famous blade masters of Menzoberranzan. To bad you won't get the chance. " He tore off the mask from his face. Platinum followed. Both masks hit the floor with a resounding clang.
Aridane, could feel the bile rising from his stomach, as he gazed at the visage of the twins. From both elves one eye could be seen smack in the middle of their faces. both had dark skin like a drow but their flesh seemed sickened. A white sheen could be seen along their flesh along with cracks and sores. Where hair should have been, only small whiskers sprouted
" How do you like the way we look, drow. Now don't tell me you never seen a half-drow before. " Mithril's mouth opened and small sharp fangs could be seen.
Aridane clenched his weapons. All he wanted to do was destroy those horrid parodies of his people .
To Aridane, it was if Mithril and Platinum represented all the evil in drow life, and society. The evil had taken a new and disgusting twist.
Aridane sneered. He would destroy these two manifestations of evil , at all cost.
Mithril and Platnuim floated down, their blades ready. Aridane smiled, he would enjoy this, for one last time he would sucumb to his heritage and be a drow, one last time.
Aridane ran, and brought his long, and short-swords high and up. The two half drow asssasins, rushed in. The struggle was on.
Aridane worked his long-sword, on Mithril, while he kept Platinum at bay with his short. Mithril one eye opened wide. This type of offense he wasn't ready for. his brother also was being kept at bay. Aridane had used the different weapons for diferent uses. The long-sword kept him out of the way, while the short -sword deflected the larger bastard-sword. Plus the short-sword was faster.
" No! Back my brother, ba-" His words would never reach his brother, as Platinum ran in. In a two move combination, Aridane spun blocking Mithril stab and sending the one eyed man the opposite direction. He then blocked the bastard-sword, with the same move, sending the thick blade down. With the speed of a coiled viper, Aridane's long-sword plunged deep into the Platinum one eye. The orb was blasted outward, and a sprey of blood erupted. Aridane grinned as he sliced vertically. The short sword ripped through the Elven chain mail like butter. Platinum fell to his knees like a giant being clubed by a dwarf. His life blood spilling away.
Mithril screamed, his brother lay dead before him. The only person he had perhaps loved was know gone. The assassin ran shrieking at Aridane, and swung. Aridane was completeing his circular motion coming straight about and deflecting the sword blow. He then cast darkness on the drow Assassin. The black inky substance fell onto Mithril. The drow screeched. Mithril world had turned dark before him. Moving his hands he was about to cast fairy fire, when he felt something about his throat.
"I wouldn't if I were you. " Aridane choked the drow. Mithril squealed like a goblin. " You wanted to know who was better ... huh ... you where willing to kill me and the woman I love. So be it I shall show you who is better ." Aridane seethed. Mithril tried to brake the hold, but it was futile. Aridane' grip was like that of a hook horror, strong and lethal.
"Now know why every one fears me in the underdark." He whispered, and with one mighty blow, he plunged his poisioned dagger into Mithril's one good eye. And then with another slice, he cut the mutated half drow another smile, along his throat. A faint line traced about Mithril's neck. Aridane kicked the dead assassin for all the troubles.
The battle ended, Aridane eyes fell upon Tiadel. She lay near the small pool of water, unmoving. Aridane rushed to her. He gently gathered her up in his hands, and cupped her cold face in his hands. Her skin was becoming cold, his inferred sight showing him that her life was gone. Her skin was cold to the touch, and once red lips where taking on a bluish taint. Tears began to fall from his eyes as he held her tightly.
" Why?" Aridane whispered, and his finger traced her fine features.
" It was the will of Lolth." A voice said from within a shadow.
Still holding onto Tiadel, Aridane spun around. His long-sword sang out. The figure stepped out of the darkness and strode over to the large elf. The figure was smaller than Aridane by two inches. Like Mithril and Platinum the shape walked gracefully and with out sound.
" Who are you?" Aridane seethed. The Figure simply doffed his hood. The Elf's face was dark, and stern. A dark patch covered his right eye. His head was shaven clean, and two rings jutted from his ears. The dark elfs garb was garish. His long cloak colored in the deepest , blood red. He wore a puffed out white shirt, covered by chain-mail of the most intricate drow design. All about his waist were long cylinder type wands, and pouches.
Aridane gasped in horror, as the elf walked toward him.
Jaraxle Leader of Bregan De'arthe, assassin extrodinare simply grinned at the young drow. Every step the assassin took, no sound came forth. Not even the wands or pouches made noise. The rings and dozens of gold chains about his body, where silent as well.
Aridane knew how deadly his master was. Jaraxle was deadly, more deadly than any living drow in the underdark. The silence that pervaded from him only added to his mysterious reputation.
Jaraxle stood a hands breadth away, and smoothed his long, white mustach. Aridane clutched Tiadel closer to his body."Why?" Aridane repeated. Jaraxle just shook his head.
"I was hired to by a certain priestess. A priestess of house Vandee. It was Lolth who wanted your friend dead, not I. I just did what I was hired to do, as you should have done."
Aridane was stunned, he had ran into a priestess of that very house hours earlier.
"No... that can't be." Aridane denied to obvious.
"Yes that women, you met earlier was coming from a meeting with me." Jaraxle explained moving closer. Aridane took a step back.
"How could you do this to me. To me! you used me." He raged.
"Yes I did. The one you loved threatened the drow way of existance, she threatened my existence. I would kill any one who disturbed that balance. Using you was nothing. Even though I trained you, and taught you the best I could, I knew you were not like the others. Your spirit was different, even as you grew you showed your hatred for our dark ways. Eventually you wold have to be killed, if not by me than by a priestess, or by one of Lolth's crazed minions." Jaraxle sighed.
"What better way than to kill two birds with one stone. Your friend here would have tried to change our society, this could not be allowed. For you see ...we drow survive on chaos and mayhem, it makes us strong and powerful. You have never learned that lesson. Your heart always allowed you to think and feel. That is something we drow can ill afford ."
Aridane only gazed at his mentor. Why was he talking to him, other drow would be dead by now.
"Then why haven't you killed me?" Aridane wondered. Jarxale turned away.
"I could have. I saw the battle between you and the Daggers, and I was impressed. I wonder If I could destroy you, but I wouldn't even try, I respect you and that is the only reason you live." Jaraxle had begun to walk away. He turned slowly and outstretched his hand. Inside his glove was a scroll.
"This is for you. Inside you will find a map. It will lead you toward a gate created long ago. This gate will lead you to the surface world. Go!"
Aridane stood stunned, as Jaraxle tossed the scroll to the elf. The canister clanked upon the dusty floor. Jaraxle pulled on his hood and sifted into the darkness, his mission done.
Aridane toed the canister, making sure it was safe. No harmful gas or explosions came forth. Settling Tiadel's body to the floor he clutched the canister, and opened the stopper. Out slid an old parchment, with the direction toward the gate, Jaraxle had spoken of. It was only a day away. Aridane untied his cloak and covered Tiadell's body. He then started on his way, out of Zilvra's cavern, and the past he once knew.
Jaraxle smiled, as he gazed at the young drow walk of toward the gate. The drow assassin flashed in hand signals to the other dark elf soldiers hidden by magical means, to follow Aridane. A female drow, dressed in fine dark elven chain-mail, sidled over to the invisible assassin.
"You have done well Jaraxle. He will lead us to the traitors, and we will destroy all those, upon the surface world that would try to change our ways." Bridalen Vandee smiled. Jaraxle hadn't returned her smile.
Bridalen Vandee hated Jaraxle with a passion, and Jaraxle knew this. On more than one ocassion, Jaraxle's Bregan De'arthe had interfered with her plans to destroy her own mother. It had only been Triel Baenre interference that had saved Bridalen's life. For Jaraxle this was just a little pay back; this time Triel would not help Bridalen.
" Beware Bridalen, my student is the best I have ever trained. He will not be easy to destroy, as you will find out, his skill is on- par with Zaknafein, and his son Drizzt.
Bridalen seethed with anger. " Do not mention those traitors again Jaraxle, or by Lolth, I will have your heart."
"My part is done, it is up to you now." Jaraxle walked away, a smile on his face.
Jaraxle's plan was going well, not only had he given his only son the gift of freedom, in the course of it all a potential rival might be done away with. Jaraxle loved the chaos, he loved the fact he manipulated it so well.
He knew that even Bridalen could not match Aridane' s might in battle. Jaraxle laughter eched of the walls of the underdark. It was now only a matter of time .
It had taken a day to reach the gate. Jaraxle's directions had been right. Aridane still holding onto Tiadel's body, gazed at the the rocky wall that shimmered in front of him. Gently his hand went out, as if to make sure that gate was there. There was no rock, only blue white energy that leapt forth from the mystic portal. Aridane wondered if this was a trick by Jaraxkle. A trick of some kind, anykind to send him to his death, by fiend or by a monster's claw. Once he entered he would be destroyed. He had seen it many times, mages creating a gate and being torn to shred as they entered, the shimmering voids they had believed to be of no harm.
Aridane only choice was to trust his old mentor. There was no going back. He had killed a soldier, and he had been in league with women who worshiped a goddess, that was not Lolth. The penalty for that was death.
Aridane took a deep breath, and entered the blue white field of radiating magic. In a flash of pulsing blue light, he stepped forth from the gate. Instantly he was asorbed by and intense yellow light that almost blinded him. Falling to his knees he tried to shield his eyes. He felt the cool rocks behind him, and finally his hands felt a hole. Aridane made for it, hoisting up Tiadel's body. He had to shield his eyes from the yellow light.
Once inside the cave, Aridane slumped to the ground, fear, and tiredness working at his body. Sleep finally took his cares away.
The night sky above was something Aridane was still amazed at. All about the heaven tiny motes of light shined in the sky. The drow could hear the sound of the crackling bonfire ascending to the sky. Tiadel's body burned in the flames. The funeral brier burning in her honor.
"I will miss you my love." Aridane sighed, tears rolling from his eyes.
I never would have thought I would see a drow cry again, a voice said from above. Aridane looked up toward the sky, and the night above changed, into a women created out of brilliant stars.
I have not forsaken her, Tiadel dwells with me in eternal life. I will not forsake you. You must only have faith and believe, and I shall always be with you.
"I shall." Aridane softly walking away from the funeral brier.
Then head west to the city of Waterdeep there you will find the answers you seek. Remember I will always be with you. The voice replied, and the stars burned brighter. Aridane smiled and for the first time he didn't feel alone in this strange new world.
Aridane Na-deoran Nightbreeze, began his journey and wondered hat new things he would learn in his new home above the world, the world of Faerun, the world of the Dark Lady, his home.