butterfly_sunrider: (Default)
“Seledra. You are Tel'Quessir, and you are my A’Sum. Nothing else matters.” It was winter, 1262. I had begun to notice that I was different from the other elven children. My mother sat at her writing desk poring over menus by wandlight, trying to decide what meal she would try to pass off as her own cooking this night.

“But O’Si, the others call me a mongrel. When we play Sun versus Moon, both sides push me away, say I’m not one of them.”

My mother’s violet eyes flickered cold for a moment before she returned to her menus. “Seledra, you are better than those common chaff moon elves and those snot-nosed sun elves...”

“But O’Si...isn’t O’Su a moon elf?”

Mother’s mouth spread into a chilly smile. I shuddered. “Why yes. He is. And perhaps it is something that your father should remember more often about his people. If a hundred, a thousand of them were to die, it would be of little concern to anyone but themselves. Like vermin they are. Common. And unremarkable.”

My face fell. No matter how much I hoped for the contrary, I knew I was my father’s daughter and not the product of my mother’s forbidden passions with someone who had warm blood in their veins. What must she think of me then? “But O’Si, doesn’t that make me...”

“No! Your father may be common, but you are MINE. MINE, MINE, MINE!!!” With a great flourish of my mother’s arm, the menus flew to the floor. Mother was standing now, breathing heavily, teeth gritted and tugging her hair for a few moments until finally, after seemingly having regained her composure, she began to use Prestidigitation to move the scattered menus back onto her desk. My mother was not, after all, one for manual labor if she could possibly help it.

I thought the danger had passed. “So...if O’Su is common and unremarkable, and I, as your daughter, am not, then what are you?”

“I don’t wish to talk about it, Seledra. It doesn’t matter anyway.” She sounded resigned, perhaps a little sad or wistful. But if I had listened just a little closer...

My curiosity got the better of me. “What are we, O’Si? I want to know!” But I was young. I didn’t know any better. The look on my mother’s face made me run towards the stairs that led to my bedroom. But I was unable to outrun my mother’s rage, or her Ray of Frost spell.


~


“Aren’t you going to visit your Mother today?” Ralenthra was gazing at the calendar I had hanging up on my kitchen wall. I was sitting at the dining room table examining the various takeaway menus in my possession, stopping every once in a while to scour my Druid handbook for information about curses and how they can be reversed for Aelthas. “It’s her birthday,” she continued. “Isn’t that what you...er...people who know where their mothers are do?”

“I sent her a gift.” I said nonchalantly.

I didn’t have to look up to know that Ralenthra raised an eyebrow at me.

“It’s a nice gift.” I countered to her silence. “I can’t visit her. I’m busy. I’m sure she understands.”

Ralenthra hoisted herself up on to the counter, plucked an apple from the fruit bowl beside her and took a generous bite. “You have the day off.”

I slowly looked up from my papers. “I’m planning our meals for the week, trying to find a way to reverse Mother’s curse on Aelthas, and I have to practice the dance for your upcoming ritual. Also? I just don’t...want to deal with her madness today.”

Ralenthra crunched her apple thoughtfully. “Understood,” she said, after swallowing. But something caught her eye. “Is that...is that Drizzt Do’Urden’s memoirs I see hidden under the Seven Little Fortunes menu?”

I grimaced in embarrassment but confessed, all the same. “It’s the first volume, yes.”

“And?”

“He’s a bit of an odd sort. He talks about events he could not have possibly witnessed and of course, everyone else being evil but him makes any information that came from anyone else instantly unreliable. He’s narcissistic, vain, whiny, self-absorbed-”

“Wait, shouldn’t you like him then?” Ralenthra grinned.

I rolled my eyes and continued.“Shut up. He’s a got a creepy idea that his sisters all want to sleep with him...”

Ralenthra took another bite of her apple. “Typical.”

I made a face. “Really?”

“Really.”

“Ew. Anyway, I want to like him. Because he’s good and all, you know, fighting the good fight. But...he makes it rather difficult. In fact, he’s kind of insufferable.”

“And yet?”

I cover my face in my hands. “And yet I can’t put it down for long.”

Ralenthra finished her apple. She hopped down off the counter, opened the window that was over our sink and tossed it outside that window into the compost bin below. “Let’s see it then.”

~


I excitedly rolled out the large parchment detailing my grand plans for breaking into the Hall of Records. Aelthas and Duglan, my constant companions, took a gander.

“You’re going to do WHAT to WHO?” Aelthas stared at me, eyes wide.

My beau had obviously gotten to the part where I seduce a priest of Deneir (or as many as I have to) in order to get access to the ‘Forbidden’ Spellbook section at the Vault of the Sages. Why have the books around at all if they’re not going to be read? “Oh, that. Don’t worry about me. I’m still a virgin, after all.”

“You are??!” both the boys exclaimed.

I thought of Thralia, and blushed. “Well, technically, yes.” I answered, and then I clarified, “Anyway, I’m not using anything south of my waist for this job. I don’t have to.”

“You sound pretty confident.” intoned Duglan with a wink and a smile. “Want to give us a demonstration?”

“Shut up, Duglan.” Aelthas said with a scowl. He turned to me, and brushed a stray lock of hair behind my ear. “Seledra, why? Why are you doing this?”

“I need to sow the seeds of chaos. After you cast the spells to bend the wards around the university and open up all those portals, most of the mages will be too busy trying to shut them down to detect what’s going on at Everdusk Hall.” It made perfect sense to me at the time...

Aelthas held me, not ungently, but with some urgency, about my shoulders. “But that’s the thing with chaos. It’s unpredictable. You could get burned. And then all of us will suffer. Is it worth it?”

I sighed. “Aelthas, what are you?”

He raised an eyebrow, as if he wasn’t sure where I was going with this. But he humored me. “I’m a human. But my mother is a half-elf.”

“What kind of elf?”

He shook his head in irritation. “Why does it matter?”

I answered calmly. “Answer the question. Surely you must know.”

Aelthas sighed and rolled his eyes even as he concentrated. “My mother was raised by her human mother. My elven grandfather died young. Some sort of accident. He was...a moon elf. From Evereska.”

“See? You know what you are. And I bet you could tell me where your human ancestors hail from as well.”

“Seledra, I don’t see-”

“I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM, Aelthas! Don’t you know how unsettling that is? And don’t you think that if I had any other options at my disposal, that I’d use them? Whatever my mother is hiding from me, she’s hiding it very, very well. And father is no help at all.”

Aelthas gulped and stared at me a while. Duglan had already retired to a nearby chaise and draped a book over his face to escape the awkwardness. My beau sighed and kissed me on the forehead. “Very well, sweet heart. It’s your choice. Just...don’t get caught, all right?”

“Don’t worry. If I get caught, I won’t say who helped me. I love you, Aelthas. And I will never betray you.”


~


Late into the night, I could still hear Ralenthra howling with laughter as she read Drizzt Do’Urden’s memoirs. I peered over my covers at the next two books from the drow’s autobiographical series as they sat, waiting for my perusal, on my nightstand. There was to be even more to follow, I had heard. I scowled.

I turned my back on the tomes to stretch. Ralenthra had really put me through a workout today. After the dance practice, she still had energy to burn, and decided that she also wanted to draft me into becoming her sparring practice partner. I must have broken three wooden swords today because I wasn’t fast enough to hit her. I comforted myself with the fact that when I do hit, I hit hard. And no, I don’t mean her.

Wielding the sword today made me think more on my goals of embarking on an adventuring side-career. My hands would tingle with anticipation every time I went to the mailbox, as I hoped that each day will be the day a summons comes from Captain Tagen, or whoever Tagen is working for, telling us to pack our bags and head out somewhere kind of dangerous.

It didn’t come today, but hopefully something will come soon. I just know that something good is going to happen...

~


I dreamed...

I saw a short, red-haired human girl fitted into finery worthy of a lady-in-waiting; watching the Glittersmokes buzz about the girl was Thralia, who looked like she was giving detailed instructions, either to the gnomish seamstresses or to the human girl...

I saw Ralenthra, poring over what looked to be this very diary. Looking over her shoulder was Tordrin, who was pointing out something of note to my friend. Ralenthra’s eyes widened...

I saw a drow male reclining on my mother’s bed. He seemed to be arguing with a striking-looking female sun elf who was attempting to use my mother’s scrying mirror. A soft grey cat hopped on the bed beside the drow and swatted him in the face. The sun elf laughed. The drow fell off the bed unsuccessfully trying to swat back at the cat. The sun elf laughed even harder...

I saw Kronk, flanked by Selune and a half-elf Heartwarder as he carried a human girl child on his shoulders. The snow was falling softly. Cardinals and Blue Jays circled about the girl as she laughed. Kronk and the Heartwarder seemed to be looking for something, and they finally stopped at Joon’s Curry Stand in the Market District. Everyone ate heartily.

I saw Silverymoon Palace. A bolt of lightning struck nearby.

I saw Magnos and Jonah, with Scamp wrapped around his master’s shoulders like an old woman’s fur collar, outside the Map House. They were discussing something rather animatedly, with Jonah’s expression going from dubious to more dubious to annoyed to resigned...


~


I awoke with a start. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the vignettes I bore witness to were connected somehow. And I wondered why I wasn’t there.
butterfly_sunrider: (Seledra4)
Down, down down.

I saw a giant eagle flying west, it's cries filling the air...Tordrin and Ralenthra reaching across a table...a lunar eclipse...Ralenthra in prison with a festering wound...a great fountain exploding in color...fire coming from the sky, setting buildings aflame...a faerie queen, running through the streets of Silverymoon despite having wings...a blast of snowy air rustling the mistletoe hanging from the ceiling of the Dancing Goat...


I awoke, bleary-eyed, to the sound of a soft wind ruffling the drapes, the smell of spices in the air and the sensation of being ensconced in silk sheets.

"Mmm, where am I?" I mumbled.

It took me awhile to figure out where I was, that is, until I felt the familiar sensation of Methrammar's long leg brushing against my naked thigh. Even then, the answer to the question I awoke with was in bed with Methrammar. He must have realized that I wasn't merely talking in my sleep, because he kissed my neck softly.

"Good morning, darling." he whispered. "Would you like some dim sum and tea? I know you are very fond of it."

I rolled over to face him and gave him a little kiss. "Oh, you're sweet. You got me takeaway from Seven Little Wonders?"

Methrammar smiled. "No, I was thinking we could get room service."

I blinked.

Methrammar gestured towards the window. "Why don't you look outside?"

I drew the sheets up around me, walked to the window and looked out below. Before my eyes were scores and scores of wooden buildings with paper windows and doors, thousands of people in clothes of every color of the rainbow bustling through the streets and haggling in a language I didn't understand. In the distance was a gigantic palace that looked vaguely familiar to me, but only so much as an object you've only previously seen in books looks familiar when you see it represented in real space before you.

I whispered reverently. "Shou Lung. The Imperial City." Methrammar laid his hands gently on my shoulders and I turned to look at him. "How did you..."

Methrammar looked rather sheepish. "Well, the palace in Silverymoon has a portal and I'd set the location for Shou Lung for when you concluded your...business."

I turned my back to him again to gaze outside. "I don't remember any of this."

Methrammar chuckled. "Well, you were pretty deep in your cups when I came to pick you up from the Dancing Goat. You were dancing on the table with your wizard companion and some woman from Baldur's Gate." He slipped a menu into my hands. And I remembered...

After Magnos and I had finished dancing, Erdri flagged us down and asked if she could join us at our table since Tordrin was going back on stage. Drinks and conversation flowed. Kronk eventually took a room upstairs for the night. After playing a few hands of Three Dragon Ante, Erdri had the brilliant idea of playing Truth or Dare. Some time during the game, I took Dare, which is how I ended up dancing on the table. The music was so hypnotic that I didn't want to stop and soon Erdri decided that I looked like I was having way too much fun to be dancing all by myself. Seeing two reasonably attractive elven women dancing together may have been the impetus for Magnos to hop up, although I may have beckoned to him in some way. Like with my fingers and tongue. I don't remember for sure.

Huh.

I looked down at the menu in my hands. "How hungry are you?" I asked, rhetorically. I knew I was starving and started checking items off: char siu bao, har gau, steamed chicken feet and mango pudding with green tea.

While we waited for our food, I bathed, and Methrammar set out my next surprise for me when I stepped out; an apple green, mandarin-style gown with the most intricate embroidery I've ever seen. I attempted to give him a crash course in how to use chopsticks, but he had little patience for the native dining accoutrements.

The food arrived and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had to cajole Methrammar into eating his share as he was a little squeamish about the chicken feet. I poked at him playfully with my chopsticks. "Come, Methrammar. Just because it hasn't been boiled in a pot until it's mushy and gray and tasteless doesn't mean it's not suitable for consumption!" Begrudgingly, he ate.

As we made our way downstairs so we could explore the Imperial City together, I casually asked, "So when are we going back?"

Methrammar slipped my arm around his and said, "I was thinking we could spend two weeks here in the city and-"

I stopped. Something was bothering me. I tried desperately to recall the details of my vision. After some time where I must have seemed catatonic, I spoke. "No, I have to go back. Tomorrow."

"What? But I made plans for us!"

I shrugged. "You should have consulted me first."

Methrammar smacked himself in the forehead. "By the Nine Hells, woman! If I consulted you about everything we'd never get to do anything!"

"Look, I'm sorry that I have a life-"

"Is this about Ralenthra?"

"What?"

"Is this. About. Ralenthra. Again?"

I stood there like a stone, staring up at him. Finally I relented. "Yes. She's in trouble."

"How do you know that?"

I started walking again. "I just know."

"How is that even possible?"

Why does this even matter? Exasperated, I blurted out, "I don't know, Methrammar. Maybe I bedded a diviner once and his power of prophecy rubbed off on me."

"That's a bit crude, don't you think?"

I shrugged. "I have a complicated relationship with magic." It was now his turn to stare blankly at me. Frustrated, I threw up my hands and said, "I had a vision, Methrammar!"

Methrammar crossed his arms in front of his chest. "You had a vision."

I nodded. "Yes."

"And this vision told you that Ralenthra is in danger."

"Yes. Somewhat." Er...

Methrammar sighed laboriously and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'll make you a deal, Seledra."

"Speak then."

"Give me one more day. I'll have you back by the morning of the 8th, Silverymoon time. I'm sure she won't get herself killed in the meantime."

I pondered his offer for a minute or two. "Alright, agreed."

And with that, we stepped outside our inn and into the greater city beyond.
butterfly_sunrider: (Seledra3)
Last night I dreamed.

A beautiful, golden-haired half-elf gave birth to a full elven baby boy in Evermeet, surrounded by sun elf relatives, and died soon after, but not before she named him Khiiral.

A temple to Chauntea in a faraway land was burnt to the ground; the only escapee a 14 year old girl who fled west, first on foot, then by boat and finally on horseback, for thousands of miles. After 5 years of crossing many lands alone, she came to a place where yet again she saw others who looked more like herself and understood her speech. The land told her she had not circumnavigated Toril, so she stayed, married a woodcutter and had a son.

Aelthas Vihuel, in his customary blue and green robes, crossed a field and approached a hooded female figure in green.

“Seledra?”

The woman turned and pulled back her hood.

“Who…who are you?” he stuttered.

A familiar voice spoke. “Do you not see the resemblance? The only things Seledra shares with her father are his name, his eyes and his unfortunate lack in stature. The rest belongs to me.”

Aelthas raised his wand, but the woman continued to speak. “I am Evindra Starwind, not that the name means anything to you, ignorant wretch that you are.” She cocked an eyebrow and smirked at the nervous young human. “Lower your wand, Aelthas. If I had wanted to kill you, you would be dead already.”

Aelthas did not move from his defensive position and the wand was summarily knocked from his hand. She sighed, annoyed, but not threatened. “No, I will not kill you. Instead, you shall suffer.” A bolt of lightning was shot from my mother’s hands, but even without his wand at his disposal, Aelthas blocked it.

“Asomatic Spellcasting, clever boy! Good to see you didn’t spend all your time at university getting drunk and deflowering maidens.” A gust of wind knocked Aelthas to the ground and my mother stood over him.

“Why are you doing this?”

She narrowed her eyes. “I do this because you have broken my daughter’s spirit. That I do not forgive."

Aelthas interrupted, crying out “Seledra would have done the same if I hadn’t first.” A crackle of electricity hit him, stunning him.

“Silence! My daughter has cried herself to sleep every night for the last week. She is inconsolable. My husband and I are sending her to the High Forest in hopes of settling her nerves. But you, you shall have no…such…respite.”

With that, a blast of silver light flew from my mother’s hands and hit Aelthas square in the face. Where a handsome young human male of twenty once lay, there was a man who looked closer to seventy in his stead. “Did you love her?” she asked.

He replied feebly, “Yes.”

My mother turned on her heel and walked away. “But not enough. Congratulations on your graduation, Aelthas.”


I sat at the vanity in my room, wearing my high-collared green silk dress from Shou, green silk slippers and my necklace from Methrammar and was pulling the last tendrils down from an elaborate hairstyle for the big occasion. I’d had plenty of time to work on my hair due to the strange dream I’d had. Was it real? If so, what did those first two women have to do with me? If my mother had confronted Aelthas, why did she never tell me? Is that reason for the “sickness” I’d heard he was stricken with before he began teaching at the Conclave? Was there a reason why this dream was filled less with symbols and more with complete events? After waking with a start, I couldn’t go back to sleep, and I became so obsessed with taming my hair that midmorning flew by without me eating even a morsel for breakfast. Today was the day I was to be presented to the City of Silverymoon as the object of Methrammar Aerasumé’s affections; it was to be announced that we were courting, which was the step before betrothal, which was the step before marriage. My father and mother had said that they might be in attendance which raised the stakes even more. Nine Hells, the whole of Silverymoon would be there. Even…

“How do I look?” Ralenthra came into the room in a lovely lavender gown. Not very stealthy, but if she went around in her usual thieves’ leathers, she’d stick out like a sore thumb (more than she already does, I guess). I noticed that she kept smoothing her dress over and over but said nothing. Maybe she was just a little nervous going out like this in a crowd.

I smiled. “Gorgeous. Do you want me to do up your hair?”

She grinned back. “Nah, I prefer to leave on time. How long have you been sitting here, an hour?” She whipped out some hairpins and started styling her hair into little round balls, one on each side of the top of her head.

I stood and took one last turn in the mirror, grimacing. “Two, actually. I just can’t leave it alone.” We fell silent, but for the growling in our respective stomachs. I turned away from the mirror and looked at Ralenthra. She was fidgeting with various compartments in her dress and mumbling off a checklist to herself. I folded my arms and raised an eyebrow at her. “So…are you going to tell me about your secret compartments?”

Glowing with pride, she showed off the deep pockets that looked like mere fabric folds on either side of her hips, a small bustle of fabric in the back that doubled as a compartment for some of her thieves’ tools and the re-attachable fabric just behind the hip pockets that made accessing the hip scabbard for her dagger that much more convenient. That thing has got to be gnome-manufactured. I nodded, impressed, “It also looks like you’re a little bit…more endowed. Is that a modification as well?”

Ralenthra smiled. “Good eye. It’s a push-up mechanism that not only works as a distraction, but storage as well.”

As she concluded with her own finishing touches, a knock came at the door. Dear Mielikki, was it midday already? I peered through a curtained window and sure enough, it was the coachman Methrammar sent to take us to the Festival. I gave Selune a hug and kiss and told her only to hunt for creatures that were throwing Silverymoon out of balance. And with that, Ralenthra and I boarded the carriage that would take us to the heart of the Festival. As we sat there in jittery silence, I felt the flask full of raspberry liqueur in my little silk purse. Damn, I should have left that at home. I worried that the temptation to drink my nerves away might be too strong.

The two of us made quite the entrance in the gleaming silver carriage drawn by six Calishite stallions and even more so as we stepped out in all our finery, aided by the footmen. I can’t say I was overly concerned about it at the time, as I was starving and there were food stalls all about. What I craved most of all was a cream horn, and the best place in all of Silverymoon to get one was from Aradia, the woman who was the current proprietress of the Heavenly Queen Bakery, a business run by humans that had been passed from mother to daughter for centuries, almost since the founding of Silverymoon itself. Luckily, Aradia had set up a food stall for the festival.

It was packed, but the wait would be worth it, or so I thought. My stomach gnawed on itself as I pulled Ralenthra into line with me. She glanced up at the sign above the stall. “What is that supposed to be?” she asked. Could it be she’d never had this before? With an almost evangelical fervor even the Helmites would balk at, I smiled wide, and Ralenthra took a little step back. “A cream horn! It’s a Silverymoon specialty, especially at Midsummer. A pastry filled with sweetened, whipped cream!” Soon I was first in line. I looked back at her and she shook her head, so I only bought one for myself. She lowered her parasol slightly, looked at the sign again, and said, “Huh. Couldn’t they get a better artist?”

As I pulled the recently purchased treasure to my face, I said to Ralenthra, “You’ve simply got to try one of these. They are divine.” Ralenthra shook her head firmly. “I’m really not interested in making a spectacle of myself.” I raised an eyebrow at her, completely stumped until Ralenthra started making obscene gestures with her hands. I giggled and then lustfully took a greedy bite from my cream horn, licking my lips clean from the excess cream that had spilled out of the flaky pastry. Suddenly, I felt like I was being watched and looked up. To my horror, it was HIM.

Oh, Hells, no!

Ralenthra must have seen my frozen expression. “What is it?” My face remaining frozen except for the attempt I made to point using only my eyebrows, I managed to squeak out, “Look. Over. There.” She looked, and an expression of recognition passed across her features. She snapped her fingers. “Oh, Jonah. I bought my eye drops from him. Nice guy, you’d like him. He doesn’t test on animals, just…his…friends. Seledra? Hello!” I had turned away as quickly as I could, with Ralenthra having to run a little to keep up until I was satisfied that we had ducked out his line of sight. “It’s him. The boy. It’s him.” I kept repeating to her, as I felt my skin beginning to flush like I was a Lathanderite cleric at tonight’s bonfire. What had I been thinking? Silverymoon is a big city, but did I really think I was never going to run into him again? Ralenthra still seemed confused. “Jonah? Really?”

I shook my head, and it was at that point that I uttered the name that I had not dared to speak or write anywhere since that night at the Dancing Goat, not to Isioleth, not even to Ralenthra. I said, “His name is Magnos.” Ralenthra turned around scanned the crowd again. “Which one is he?” she asked. I groaned, “The one with the dark hair and dark eyes and wearing the ostentatious red and purple robes. You can’t miss him.” Then I put my head in my hands. Ralenthra chuckled. “Boy? The way you’re acting, I was expecting something more criminal. That, my dear, is a man. Well, sort of. I mean…he’s probably no less mature than you. Us. You know, the whole aging…slow…thing. Yes.” Still in a state of shock, I remained silent, but started walking again while she followed. Ralenthra continued, changing her tack, “You’re so like Tordrin in that way. You like men from Kara-Tur, Hells, anything from Kara-Tur, like he likes drow. Huh. So he’s the one that helped you practically demolish that room! We had to pay through the nose for that, remember?” She guffawed. I’m glad she thought it was funny.

Ralenthra and I kept moving through the crowd with her teasing me all the way. “Did you ever find your underwear?” I shook my head and she continued, “How about that bodice? Did you get that back from the shop yet?” I told her about my entanglement with the Glittersmoke girls. “I’m surprised the thing was salvageable. How would you explain it to your boss if it …" Her eyes grew wide for a moment and she froze. Looking ahead, I saw Tordrin and as I turned to her, she turned to me and grinned. I rolled my eyes. "Oh go on you silly goose, I'll be fine. See you later!” And with that, she ran off to join him, though something told me that she may have gone somewhat reluctantly. I decided at that point to start looking for something to calm me down for my engagement with Methrammar.

Hundreds of distractions awaited me. It seemed there was a busking bard for every fifth stall. On my left was the stall representing Kamala's Fine Herbs and Hookah Shop. Kamala is a halfling woman hailing from Calimport. She opened her shop in Northbank about five years ago and sells the best halfling weed in the city. Students from the Conclave and young artistic types crowd her place in the evenings and smoke halfling weed from the hookahs she imported from Calimport. She also sells mushrooms that were previously limited to use by druids and shamans in vision quests, which is a bit less ethical, but if people want to expand their spiritual horizons, I'm not averse to looking the other way when I see her selling some. Of course, both the halfling weed and special mushrooms make said seekers hungry, and Kamala's slightly unhinged but culinarily talented brother Sammy obliges them by keeping late hours at his Calishite restaurant, The Djinn’s Delight (the same one my mother and I went to on the 28th of Flamerule). He ran the stall next to Kamala's today and unnervingly asked every customer with a Neverwinter accent if they knew a halfling named Tomi Undergallows. On my right, carnies competed with each other for the silvers of passerby, but with all these sights, sounds and smells, I still couldn’t get Magnos out of my mind.

Up ahead, there was the stall for Rand's Rare Books. Jaq Rand, the proprietor, has a wide variety of books and scrolls, including the erotica that Ralenthra and I devour. Discreetly, I picked up Memoirs of a Heartwarder. Those saucy Sunites!

As the glasses of wine increased, so our inhibitions decreased. He took my hand and led me to the dance floor, where I danced with him as I hadn’t danced with anyone in far too long. The band played ecstatically and we matched our movements to them for song after song, until finally, breathless, he locked his brown eyes on my green ones, tangled his hand in my auburn hair and drew me to him, drinking deeply from my lips. As he sucked on my bottom lip, I managed to growl, “You. Me. Upstairs. Now.”

Flushed, I slammed the leather bound volume shut. I must be losing my mind or something. At random, I selected another book with the delicious-sounding title of A Banquet of Flesh. I remembered that Ralenthra had recently picked this book up for us and that it was waiting for my perusal on my nightstand at home. My hope that it wasn’t about cannibals encouraged by the cover image of a handsome young man biting lasciviously into a peach.

Our clothes lay strewn carelessly across the room and were soon joined by the vase of flowers and complimentary bowl of fruit from the table as I replaced them. “Now,” I moaned. But as if distracted, he instead bent down and picked up the daisies from the floor, quickly weaving them into a crown and placing it on my head. “Look in the mirror,” he said. Turning my head to the left, I sat up and drew my knees to my chest while he wrapped his arms around my shoulders and sweetly kissed my cheek. I smiled at our reflection and he whispered softly in my ear, “You look like a Faerie Queen.”

My eyes blurred suddenly, and I gently put the book back in its place. I rubbed my eyes frantically, and groping almost blindly, I grabbed The Wail of the Banshee.

After slamming me against the door, he buried his face in my neck and my legs went around him instinctively. Then he moaned softly, but clearly enough, a name that was not mine. I froze. “Excuse me?” Slowly, he lifted his head and met my hardened gaze with a bashful grin. “Oops.” I untangled myself from his embrace and gently pushed him in the chest. “Who is Susan?” He raised his eyebrows sharply. “Susan? Who is Susan?” He was repeating my words back at me, using a typical male stalling technique. “Yeah. Not my name. Who in the Nine Hells is Susan?” He scratched his head, and if he were less drunk, he probably could have come up with a better explanation. “Ah, does it matter? You’re here and I’m here. Would you rather I was with Susan calling her by your name?” I slapped him and walked past him to start picking up my clothes, but he grabbed me by the wrist. “Let go of me,” I growled, and slapped him again. He smiled and dropped my hand. “Fine,” he said. “Fine,” I said. “Good,” he said. “Good,” I said. “Bint,” he said. “Bastard,” I said. And I went to slap him yet again, but his time he caught me. The heat between us was undeniable. He continued to smile. “You like it rough, do you?” I drew closer to him and whispered huskily, “Shut up and kiss me.” Soon the table had been knocked over, and we were on the floor.

Furious, I threw the book back on the shelf. Jaq called out and ran towards me. “Hey, are you going to pay for that?” My eyes bloodshot, I screamed. “No!” He backed off. “All right then. No need to get snippy.” I sighed and headed to the section where the translations of the newest martial arts serials written by Mao Jiao Long that have also been catching my eye were. I flipped through the first volume, The Way of Jun Fan and was so piqued that I bought it and the second volume, The Nine Golden Swords of Telflamm. Breathing a sigh of relief, I was free.

Soon I heard the familiar strains of Sun & Moon wafting through the air. I followed the sounds to the edge of their stage and listened with rapt attention to Tordrin as he sang:

My young love said to me, my mother won’t mind
And my father won’t slight you for your lack of kind,
And she stepped away from me and this she did say,
It will not be long love ´til our wedding day.

She stepped away from me and she moved through the fair,
And fondly I watched her move here and move there,
Then she went her way homeward with one star awake,
As the swans in the evening move over the lake.

The people were saying no two were e´er wed,
But one has a sorrow that never was said,
And I smiled as she passed me with her goods and her gear,
And that was the last that I saw of my dear.

I dreamt it last night that my true love came in,
So softly she entered her feet made no din,
She came close beside me and this she did say,
It will not be long love ´til our wedding day.


It was mid-afternoon, and after some more absent-minded browsing of the stalls, a meal of steamed pork buns at the 7 Little Wonders Inn's stall, and just a little sampling of the local brews at the dwarven-run Ale Gardens, I found Methrammar easily, as tall as he is. He took me in his arms and kissed me so deeply and tenderly that I was almost woozy from it. He smiled broadly and pressed his forehead to mine. “I apologize, my darling. I know that was slightly against social convention, but oh, what you do to me.” He lifted my chin with his finger, smiled warmly and continued, “You are devastatingly beautiful today, my love. I pity the other men who gaze upon you and know that they can never have you. Come, let’s present you.”

This was it, my crowning moment of glory, the most important day of my life thus far. Time seemed to slow down as we moved through the crowd and I passed by my parents, offering a little smile. My father looked slightly less stern and maybe a little proud, or was it prideful? My mother smiled a smile that didn’t reach her eyes. Her thoughts seemed elsewhere, and when I tried to follow them, I felt as if I were falling into a deep whirlpool. Methrammar gently tugged on my arm, as I had forgotten myself.

And with a flourish of horns and drums, as Methrammar and I were about to take the stage, a sight I was quite unprepared for confronted us. First, I almost fell over when, with a snap, all my pleasure centers fired at once. Normally, I would see that as good, but at the time, it could only mean one thing: the wards were down. Then, I had to remind myself that I had not sampled Kamala's hallucinogenic wares because my eyes and ears told me that a horde of trolls were off in the distance, about a mile away and getting closer. Methrammar quickly ran off to join the Knights in Silver in repelling the monsters but not before telling me to get somewhere safe. I turned and saw my parents; my father standing ramrod straight, holding my restless mother’s arm like an anchor. I ran to them, but was repelled by some sort of force field that my father must have cast. “Why aren’t you helping?” My father responded curtly, “My days of getting involved in the affairs of others are over.” He turned to my mother with a stern look. “And so are hers.”

I ran for cover and started to wish that I hadn’t left my sword, or my wolf, for that matter, at home. Something positively itched at my fingers, and rather than being scared, I was actually a bit excited, if a bit worried about Ralenthra. I couldn’t just crouch there and wait for rescue, so I looked around for a weapon. I saw a bucket of water not two feet away from me and looked down in defeat. “This is hopeless,” I moaned. Then I looked again. I ripped the skirt of my dress off at the middle of my thigh and tore it into three long strips. I dunked those strips of silk into the bucket of water and proceeded to braid them together, all the while stealing glances at the troll’s hunting party as they drew nearer and nearer. Finally, I tied knots at both ends so the silk braid wouldn’t fall apart, slung my purse across my torso, climbed up on top of a stand and waited. When a huge troll broke away from the thick of the battle, I leapt on top of him and wrapped the silk cord around his neck and twisted it tightly. He grabbed at his throat, but couldn’t get his big hands underneath the braid. Just then, another troll grabbed me around my waist and held me up in the air, roaring. The first troll didn’t like that and threw a punch at the troll holding me, sending me flying. I hit the ground with a thud and started to feel a little triumphant when a third troll came by and hoisted me into a cage along with a couple of total strangers. I looked around and saw that there were, in fact, dozens of these cages about the festival grounds. There is usually only one use for a troll cage: storage for future troll meals.

After a while, the wards went back up, the sounds of battle dissipated, and I saw Methrammar returning to the area with an expression of triumph mixed with confusion. For a moment, I thought he had seen me. I freely admit that at that moment I was in no condition to be presented to the people of Silverymoon; dress torn, skin flushed, hair I had worked so hard to tame disheveled. I may have even broken a nail. My last moments in the cage were spent fruitlessly scanning the crowd for Ralenthra and in prayers to Lady Mielikki for her safety. It was at that moment that my cage was opened by a Silverymoon High Guardsman, who started patting me down.

“Excuse me, just what do you think you’re doing?” I put my hands on my hips and raised an eyebrow at the young officer.

The guardsman tipped his helm to me. “This is just a routine search, Miss. To make sure you’re unharmed.”

“Well, officer, I am employed by the city as a druid. I can assure you that I am totally uninjured.”

The officer looked me up and down. “You look like you must have put up quite the fight back there. Are you sure you didn’t hit your head?”

It was possible. I had a small mirror in my purse, so I slung it back around and opened it up. Seeing a small silvery glint, I snatched out its source. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my mirror. It was, however, a damn Lauthaul token, a big no-no for low-level city employees like me, to say the least. I’m not sure what grew wider upon seeing it, my eyes or the Guardsman’s smile.

I was arrested before I could catch Methrammar’s eye.

As long as there were people watching, the Guardsman handled me gently, but when we got to the prisoner’s wagon, I was shoved unceremoniously inside, where I landed right in someone else’s lap. Someone familiar. It was when he touched my face that I knew who he was, that unmistakable spark. Soon I was looking straight into the eyes of Magnos. He winked, grinned and said, “Haven’t we met before?”
butterfly_sunrider: (Default)
Up, up, up the stairs in the tree...She touched the pond again...I saw Ariadne running though a huge gilded glass temple...numerous people tried to stop her...she couldn't fly...she ran with her long red and white robes trailing behind her...she was screaming something...I couldn't hear...running towards a gate...

"I don't want you to heal both!" a male voice barked. "Do what you can for the moon elf. Shayla, help me tie this one up, then you can guard her until the fight's over out there."

"Why don't we just kill her now?" a female voice, I'm assuming Shayla, asked.

Excuse me?

"I would, but the constable wouldn't like that much. Even for her kind, he insists on giving fair trials. He'll want to question her before he does anything," the male replied.

I opened my eyes to the tiniest slits and much to my distress, I saw a male wood elf yank Ralenthra roughly to her feet, and heard her cry out. Selune, who was lying in my lap, stirred, realizing I was now awake.

The one that must be Shayla tied her arms behind her back. Then she took a piece of cloth and gagged her. The male shoved her back to the floor, and Shayla stood scowling over her with a crossbow. I decided to test my ability to move. Ow. My head hurt so badly that I couldn't hold back a moan.

"I couldn't heal her fully, but I think I helped," said another female. "She almost came to, just now, but she seems to have taken quite a blow to the head and went back out again."

"Stay with her would you, Betha?" the wood elf said as he bent to tie Ralenthra's feet. They certainly weren't taking any chances. "You don't have any healing spells left, anyway, so you may as well stay out of what's going on out there. You be a good little prisoner, inky, if you want to have a chance to make your case to the constable. Shayla here is a little trigger happy sometimes, and she hates drow almost as much as I do."

Bastard.

He then turned and went out to join the battle outside.

My best friend was in horrible pain, bound and gagged like a prisoner right next to me and I was unable to do so much as turn my head without it hurting. Selune was my only chance, as she was uninjured. I stroked the scruff of her neck and sent her pictures in my mind: our surroundings, Tordrin...bring him here...somehow...help...fast.

I was unprepared for her leaping off of my lap and over the wall above my head, too fast for either Betha or Shayla to stop her. It actually took a minute or two for them to recover from it.

"Do you think that wolf was a spy?" Shayla finally asked Betha. Betha shook her head and gesticulated towards my unicorn head amulet. "The moon elf is a Mielikki follower. The wolf probably belongs to her. What I don't understand is why she would leave her when she is ailing."

"Because she was going to get help."

The women turned and saw Tordrin in the doorway, his left hand lighly fingering the handle of his longsword. With his right hand, he flicked at the silver harp pin on his chest, "Tordrin Windweaver, Harper Agent at your service - what do we have here?" He looked over at us casually.

Shayla puffed out her chest. "I, um, we" she corrected herself after a sidelong glance from Betha, "discovered this dirty drow trying to kill this wounded moon elf. As you can see, she won't be hurting anyone now." She looked quite proud of herself.

"Since things are under control in here, I'm going to have to ask you to go aid the rest of your townsfolk in the battle outside. We need all the able-bodied warriors we can get, what with the orc army's western reinforcements that just came in. Meanwhile, I can see to the druid's wounds and take the drow into the custody of the Harpers."

Shayla looked skeptical. She shifted her weight from side to side. "Tharivol told me to stay." Tordrin was having nothing of this. He grabbed her by the shoulders. "We have no time to discuss this, soldier! Get out there and fight! I'm sure Tharivol will be proud of your battle prowess. And you, " he looked to Betha, "You can get in the Inn's kitchen and start making up some poultices for the wounded, unless you have some healing spell scrolls at your disposal."

The women marched off to their respective destinations and I dropped my little charade. As soon as they were both out of the stable, Tordrin dropped his pack and weapons to the ground and rushed to Ralenthra's side, taking the bloodstained gag out of her mouth. Selune loped back inside and re-situated herself on my lap. It may have been my double vision at the time, but I swear I saw his hands trembling as he began to free Ralenthra from her bonds and he whispered words I couldn't make out. He then laid her flat on his cloak that he had spread on the ground. Ralenthra appeared at this point to be slipping in and out of consciousness due to the pain. She opened her eyes and tried to smile at Tordrin, but it came out like a wincing grimace instead and she finally passed out cold. Tordrin gently kissed her eyelids and then practically dove into his pack, digging out poultices, bandages and potions. He didn't even look up at me as he complimented me on my original thinking and tossed me a healing potion, which I swiftly guzzled.

"Was there really a reinforcement?" I asked him.

He finally looked up, after having quite swiftly cleaned, packed and wrapped Ralenthra's wounds and took a deep breath. "Yes. Seventy-two heads." He started to tend to my injuries. As if he anticipated my next question, he said, "But some things are more important. Besides, I'm sure Tharivol and company may have to change their minds about drow after fighting side by side with the Talaviirs. All the same, I'm staying with you two in case the militia comes back."

Ralenthra was beginning to heal and she started to murmur in her unconscious state. A pleasant breeze coursed through the stable even as the battle wound down outside. And I finally stopped seeing double.
butterfly_sunrider: (Seledra)
I dreamed a dream...a vision, really.

A beautiful woman with a warm smile and riding a unicorn appeared to me in the forest and led me to a crystal clear pool. She touched the pool with a slender finger and bade me to look into the water.

I saw...

My cousin Pandora, looking somewhat older, stumbling through unfamiliar brush and picking up a shiny brooch only to suddenly disappear.

A small human girl standing in the middle of a barren field. She raises her arms and crops spring from the ground. She walks and flowers grow where she steps.

Ralenthra, as she gets devoured by a giant red dragon.

A huge full moon behind the silhouetted figures of a large armored figure and a slight, petite figure.

That same full moon lowering into a huge desert until it disappears under the ground.

My cousin Isioleth facing down an archdevil in a magnificent city and joined by a male dwarf, a female drow, a paladin's ghost, a...tiefling and a...kobold in finery??!

A male elf wielding a great and terrible sword. He had a mark on the inside of his arm that looked like the one on my hip.

Rats...swarming around my feet.

Looking in a mirror and, instead of seeing myself, seeing a male drow coolly smiling back at me.

My dead cousin Unebrion sitting on a throne with a blue-skinned woman on his left and a heavily armored half-orc on his right. The woman turns to him and mouths the words "Lord of Harrowdale".

The boy, only he is a statue.

An unusual-looking drow woman drawing a gleaming bastard sword and a drow male by her side brandishing a double-bladed sword and facing down an army of driders.

A young male half-elf with black hair, almond-shaped green eyes, creamy skin and an oddly familiar smirk stopping a red-headed female tiefling from bashing a door in and instead unlocking it with a wave of his hand. The door opens and they are bathed in a golden light.

The woman with the warm smile touched the water again and the visions disappeared. She led me to a hollow tree and told me to go down the stairs inside. If I ever needed to see her again, I just had to go up the stairs in the tree. She kissed my forehead and said "All will be well and all will be well and all will be well."

I went down the stairs. Down, down, down and the vision ended.

It is dark and Ralenthra has not yet returned.

I shuddered. It is a great boon to receive a vision from one's Goddess. But it also means great responsibility. That, or I've gotta lay off the elven wine.

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Butterfly Sunrider

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