butterfly_sunrider: (Seledra4)
When we could just move no longer, we made camp. After we all gobbled down a carelessly heated but surprisingly tasty noodle soup that Magnos threw together, I left Dorn in charge and took Ralenthra aside to talk.

"You've been quiet today." I said as we sat side by side at the river's edge.

Ralenthra sighed. "I haven't really felt much like talking, or at least doing it in mixed company."

"And you're still hurting because of Tordrin, right?" I added, cautiously.

Her head jerked sharply away from me. "I don't want to talk about him."

I continued, unabated. "He loves you, Ralenthra. I know it. Here." I struck my chest with my fist. "I'm sure he had his reasons..."

She stared at me, her eyes glistening in the moonlight. "How dare you defend him after what he did to me?"

"You really have to stop assuming that everyone is out to get you. It's not healthy." I said, matter-of-factly.

She was angry now, so much so that her voice was shaking. "It's kept me alive."

"The avoidance of death is not living."

"Save your platitudes for the faithful," she said bitterly.

"Just because you don't believe, it doesn't make it any less true. Rale, it's okay if you still need to talk about it, or even just cry."

Ralenthra shook her head. "I don't need to talk about it, I don't want to talk about it, and I don't care about Tordrin anymore so stop trying to play matchmaker with us."

I sighed. What I did next would either earn me a kidney punch or would help to release some of the pent-up emotions that Ralenthra was experiencing. Maybe both. Cautiously, I reached out to her and poked her in the shoulder. At first, she looked at me like I was crazy, but then she poked me back. I poked her again and she poked me again. We went back and forth at this until she finally started to laugh a little. Then I saw her shoulders start to shake. She turned to me, and a single tear was rolling down her cheeks. It was a start. "It hurts, 'Ledra. It hurts so much."

I wrapped my arms around her. "I know, Rale. I know."

Ralenthra found a comfortable perch in a nearby oak tree while I set up next to the river. I helped the men set up their tent and then took a discreet bath in the deliciously cool water. Finally, I changed into pajamas, wrapped myself in my blanket, sat down on my bedroll and started to go into trance.

And then, it began to rain. It wasn't exactly a soft and gentle summer shower either.

"Oh, damn it!" I quickly rolled up my blanket and bedroll before gathering the rest of my belongings and scurried over to Ralenthra's tree. Despite my emphatic pleas, she refused to come down and seek refuge in the tent.

"You're overdramatizing. I'm fine," she shouted over the storm, "And you've been spoiled by city life."

I only grunted in response. As I marched away towards the men's tent, she called out, "For every time he gropes you, you owe me ten gold pieces!"

~


"Just help me with this, will you? I've got to peel myself out of these wet clothes and I'm not doing it in front of you."

Magnos sighed laboriously as he helped me put up the sheet that would divide the tent in two. Kronk was a heavy sleeper, and sometimes I could barely hear Magnos over the snoring. "I just don't think this wall is necessary."

The sheet being properly attached, I started to undress. "You two have plenty of room on that side. And could I get some light in here? I'd like to be able to see what I'm doing."

"What do you want me to light up?" Magnos asked.

"The tent." I replied.

"The whole thing? I don't think you mean to say what you're saying."

I growled impatiently, "Then tell me what you need me to tell you."

"Look, just give me an object to cast light on and I'll give it back to you. It should be sufficient to light up the whole tent for, oh, about an hour."

I thought for a moment, then lifted the necklace Methrammar gave me over my head and thrust it through to the other side of the sheet.

I heard some clinking noises. Magnos mumbled a bit and soon the tent was filled with a gentle luminosity, adequate for reading. After a few moments filled with more clinking noises, he handed my necklace back to me. I found a secure place to hang my necklace and took the opportunity to get out of the uncomfortably damp pajamas I was wearing. Magnos cleared his throat and said, "It's a little too snug on this side for my comfort."

"Boo Hoo," I replied, as I dumped out my pack in order to search for another pair of pajamas. Just after I pulled them on, Kronk let loose a huge fart. Magnos groaned, gathered his belongings with surprising speed, and barged into my side of the tent. "What do you think you're doing?" I hissed.

"Escaping from certain death." He looked around for a spot to make himself comfortable and continued, "My, but you're the messy sort aren't you?"

"You're not going to be any safer over here, you know. Especially since you let some of the polluted air in. Now my side is contaminated." I had started to hold my nose and the last sentence came out pinched and nasally. Even Selune whined a little and covered her snout with her paws.

Magnos cozied up to me. "Well, if I'm going to die, let it be in the arms of a beautiful woman. Hold me, Seledra!"

Magnos' own pungent odor knocked me backwards and I quickly covered my face with my pillow. "You're not going anywhere near me smelling like that. Get back over to the other side. You smell as bad as Kronk!"

Magnos pointed outside. "Do you want me to jump in the river and run back?"

"You're dirty and smelly and streaked with sweat." I combed through my scattered belongings and found one of my soap stones. After sniffing it and finding the scent sufficiently not-girly-smelling, I handed it to him. "Strip. Go outside and scrub yourself down. Don't come back until you're squeaky clean."

Magnos sighed and rolled his eyes. "Turn around."

"What? You got an eyeful of me this morning!"

Magnos shook his head and twirled his finger. "This show's not for free. Turn around."

"Hmph." I turned around, but grabbed my hand-mirror and pretended to try to put my hair up with one hand while gazing rather appreciatively at Magnos' reflection. He took off everything but his breeches and walked outside.

~


I was busy reading my copy of A Banquet of Flesh when Magnos burst in unceremoniously. He was dripping wet, holding his breeches in front of him, and his teeth were chattering. My heart, and everything south of it, melted. A little. I got up and wrapped my blanket around him in an effort to dry him off.

Holding one finger out, I dragged it down the center of his chest, making a squeaking noise. Suddenly, Magnos took my hand, drew my finger into his mouth and sucked. I moaned and bit my lip. He wrapped his trembling arms around me and said, "Seledra, I need your warmth. I want you, Seledra."

"Seledra? "

"Seledra?!"


"Hey, Princess!"

I was shocked out of my stupor to see Magnos bobbing up and down on the balls of his feet impatiently. "Are you going to just stand there or are you going to let me dry off and change with a little privacy?"

I sat down with a pout as he pushed past the sheet to where Kronk was sleeping. I picked up my book again, opened to a random page and stared in shock.

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.”

"Again? That's impossible!" I sputtered.

"What's impossible?" Magnos popped his head in on my side of the sheet.

I juggled the book in my hands in a failed attempt to conceal it, but this only stirred up his curiosity. Soon, the rest of him, with nothing but his breeches on, was by my side. Oh, Sune. Why do you hate me so?

Magnos plucked the book out of my hands. "A Banquet of Flesh, eh? Reading about cannibals?" Then he looked closer at the cover. "Oh. Ohhhhhhhhh. You insatiable little minx, it's one of those Heartwarder-enchanted books, isn't it? A fascinating bit of magic these things are. Pulling from your memories to dramatize the best sex of your life in book form. Amazing." He clucked his tongue at me and handed the book back. "Read it."

"No."

"Are you embarrassed?"

"Yes, and it's none of your business."

"C'mon, we're both adults here." He lowered his voice to a sultry whisper. "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours."

I sighed, but deep down, my curiosity gnawed at me. "Oh, all right. But you have to promise not to laugh."

Blushing furiously and my voice reduced to a husky whisper, I read the passage to him. He stared at me a while, blinked, and then grinned devilishly. "It isn't Methy, is it?"

I shook my head. "No."

"Ha, I knew it. Too smooth to be that Mama's boy."

I rolled my eyes. "So glad you approve." I said. "Now it's your turn." I handed the book back to him.

Magnos took the book in his hands and flipped through the pages. "Huh." He scratched his head. "That's weird."

"Are you holding out on me, Magnos?"

"No, it's just that...the pages are blank."

I guffawed.

"I'll thank you not to laugh, it's a sensitive subject," he sniffed.

"You want to tell me about it?" I said, laying a hand gently on his arm.

Magnos shook his arm away. "No."

I looked down, a little embarrassed at my behavior. I mean, he hardly knew me. There was no reason I should have assumed any trust from him. "I see. Well, we should probably go to sleep anyway. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow."

"Yeah. Here's your blanket back, by the way. Thanks," he said with a little smile.

It was damp and completely unsuitable for keeping me warm. "It's wet," I said.

"No worries," he said, "we can share."

And so it was, after I put my personal items back into my backpack, that Magnos and I laid our bedrolls side-by-side, laid down next to each other, and shared his blanket. Just before I drifted off to sleep, he spoke.

"There was a girl I was with recently, but she must have drugged me because I have no memory of her. That's why the book doesn't work. Or, why it does, but it's blank. Because my memory of her is a blank. But she must have been really something, Seledra. She must have been something."
butterfly_sunrider: (Seledra4)
We were able to stock up on more food at Rauvinwatch Keep. While we were there, I slipped my boots off and soaked my sore feet in the cool water of the Rauvin river. It felt so good that I drifted off to sleep with Selune draped across my lap. Luckily it was Ralenthra who came to wake me, as Magnos was still stocking up on food with the 10 gold pieces I'd given him. She stood over me, hands on her hips, shaking her head."You've created a monster. The soldiers are going to go without supper tonight."

"Poppycock, " I replied, squinting in the early afternoon sun, "He's to buy only as much as he's willing to carry."

Ralenthra pulled me to a seated position and helped me get my boots back on. "Hopefully he won't con Kronk into carrying the brunt of it behind your back, then."

Finally, I stood up. After taking a deep breath to center myself I said, "Kronk doesn't like Magnos enough to let himself be conned by him."

As I wobbled on my legs like a newborn filly, Ralenthra clapped me on the shoulder. "Speaking of Kronk, we should make sure he hasn't gotten himself into trouble, eh?"

Kronk had purchased some barbequed venison and was carrying a plate of it and a large tankard over to the riverside. He found a bench carved from a felled oak tree, sat, and had started to eat when I stopped, and grabbed Ralenthra's arm while mentally telling Selune to sit by Kronk.

Selune obediently approached Kronk with a wagging tail.

Kronk turned, saw my wolf approach him, and smiled. "Hello, Wolf. Want deermeat?"

Selune licked her chops and barked.

"Sit, Wolf!"

Selune sat, and Kronk rewarded her with a slice of venison.

The half-orc continued to give Selune simple commands and reward her for following them until he had given her half his venison. "That's all, Wolf. Kronk eat lunch now."

Selune rolled over on to her back and got a belly rub while Kronk finished eating and drinking. Ralenthra smiled and said to me, "I think Kronk is doing just fine on his own. Let's make sure Magnos hasn't gotten himself arrested yet."

And with that, the two of us went looking for our mage. My legs felt like jelly, but we had to keep going for at least four more hours.

~


Ralenthra and I passed the time during the early afternoon doldrums with lessons in drow sign language. It was becoming more and more apparent how useful this skill would be to share, especially now that we had so much talking behind others' backs to their faces to do. We figured that the safest bet was to conduct our conversation in elvish. For example:

"Eir vol. Sai shaendrol, sor air 'sael ci sestal'," explained Ralenthra (All right. To begin, this is "flank the human").

I nodded and repeated her gestures. She smiled. "Byrn sor air 'lair air shor thosi'" (Now this is "Kill it with fire").

Again, I mimicked her movements. She nodded enthusiastically. I asked "Shar eidyr, 'rial cos ail si vor'?" (How about, "punch him in the ribs?")

Ralenthra started to gesture and then shook her head. "Ei pyrn shyr baelaes ber vel mystaeli ail si vor. Mar tardi. Ai ker mysti tylyzelor kaer jhyr ail salarol" (A drow would never just punch someone in the ribs. Stab maybe. I guess some colloquialisms get lost in translation).

Magnos snickered to himself. He was probably thinking of something dirty, that pervert.

~


We took a brief respite about an hour later as Selune was acquiring herself a meal of freshly killed rabbit. Magnos sidled up to me and whispered, "Not that I didn't appreciate the lunar display this morning, and not that I don't like seeing that big lug doing all the heavy lifting, but it really isn't necessary."

I turned and raised an eyebrow at him, incredulous. "Can it be, Magnos, that you are volunteering for something? Someone get me some smelling salts! I might faint."

He smirked. "Your sarcasm is but the least of your charms, your holiness. But I'm still willing to sacrifice one of my spells for the greater good."

"And which spell have you decided to sacrifice?" I asked.

"Why, Tenser's Floating Disc, of course! It's one of the most useful of all my spells. Every time my friend Jonah has a little too much elven wine at the Goat, we use it to carry him back to the dormitories."

I smirked. "Has anyone ever had to use it to taxi you around?"

He puffed out his chest, "Oh no. I can hold my liquor."

I snorted.

Magnos smiled. "Oh, you doubt my talents? Maybe I should take you to the Goat sometime and show you how skilled I am."

I gulped and was afraid that I was starting to blush, so I turned and pretended to look off into the horizon for Selune. In truth, she had communicated to me that she was on her way back, but was currently being distracted by a squirrel.

When I turned back around, he was still smiling. "Have you ever been to the Dancing Goat? There's a great variety of beverages to get drunk on, cheap, if otherwise unappealing chow, and the music! They always have great live music."

I nodded. "I hear the inn is a ripoff, though."

Magnos grimaced, "Tell me about it."

Selune came loping back into view and I called an end to our rest stop. Ralenthra beckoned me to her and as we walked along, she whispered, "Did he just ask you out on a date?"

I whispered back, "I didn't agree to anything." After pausing for a moment, I added, "Of course, we could all go together when this is done. That way, nothing will go wrong!"

Ralenthra shook her head. "The last time all four of us were in the same place in Silverymoon, the city was attacked by trolls."

I sighed, "Oh, don't be so negative."

She looked sideways at me, suspiciously.

I whispered emphatically. "It's not a date."
butterfly_sunrider: (Seledra4)
I awoke to Selune's cold nose nuzzling my hand. It was still dark, but we have to be at the Moorgate at the crack of dawn. Gingerly, I pulled myself out of my warm, soft, comfortable bed and sauntered over to Ralenthra's room. She was already awake and dressed.

"Did you remember the talcum powder first?" I asked.

"Damn it." said Ralenthra.

A short time later, we both stood in front of the full-length mirror in her room, powdering ourselves down.

"Do you think I look ashy?" asked Ralenthra.

"I'm more concerned about how hot you're going to be. One, it's summer. Two, you're wearing all black. Three, you are black. Four, you're wearing a catsuit under your five studded leather armor." I listed the problems off on the fingers of one hand.

"I'll be fine. Drow are cold-blooded creatures, after all." she said with a sardonic chuckle.

"Well, our route follows the Rauvin river. Don't be too proud to take a dip in the water to cool off."

"I'll be fine."

I sighed, then pulled on my leather corset and battle skirt. Buyer's remorse was starting to set in.

"I'm not sure about this whole 'going drow' thing," I said as I began to weave my hair into two long braids.

Ralenthra was also braiding her hair. "Well you were the one who was so concerned about being too hot."

I looped the two braids into a halo style and tugged at the skirt fretfully. "It barely covers my bottom. What if I have to jump? I'll expose myself!"

"It's nothing Magnos hasn't already seen before," she replied. As my face flushed, she quickly added, "I kid, I kid! Besides, he'll probably be too busy staring at his own reflection in the river to notice. You'll be fine. Really."

~


We gathered at the Moorgate at dawn, some of us more rested than others. Dorn was silent and stone-faced as I handed out supplies, Kronk receiving his sundries with a surprised smile and Magnos accepting his with bemusement. Selune took an alert stance as she was getting a read on our little party. She seemed to recognize Kronk and licked his hand. Magnos and his snowy owl Hedwig she acknowledged with a friendly bark of approval. However, she kept growling at Dorn until I gave her specific instructions not to. She whined in protest but obeyed. I took a deep breath, surveyed our fellowship, and smiled.

"I got us a tent." I proclaimed, proudly.

"A tent?" said Magnos, as he dug into his bag of jerky. "How generous and thoughtful of you. I hope you don't mind sleeping outside, Kronk. The ladies and I...need our space."

Ralenthra spoke up. "Actually, the tent is for you males. I am quite comfortable sleeping outside and for druids, sleeping outside is practically standard."

As Magnos turned to stare at me whilst in mid-chew, I cleared my throat and nodded enthusiastically. He was incredulous. Pointing at Kronk, he said, "You mean I have to share a tent with that guy? He smells like a meat locker and it will only get worse in close quarters!" Then he popped more jerky into his mouth.

Kronk growled. "Kronk right here you know."

"Enough fighting, all right?" I shouted. I took the folded up tent from the guard that accompanied us from my house. "Someone give me a boost." Kronk offered his arms to me, but I shook my head.

"Actually, Kronk, I was thinking you could carry the tent. It's quite light, if a little cumbersome."

Kronk pouted. "Kronk not pack mule."

I smiled and patted his arm. "But Kronk, you're so big and strong, it will be like nothing at all! Ralenthra can't carry it as it would almost drag on the ground. I'm not much taller than she is." Here I whispered to him conspiratorially, "And you know the scrawny magic person is too weak to carry even a light tent like this."

Kronk, adequately mollified, chuckled and offered his back. I looked at Magnos, who was emptying the remainder of his bag of jerky into his mouth. "How about that boost, then?" I asked.

Magnos crouched.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

His mouth slightly full, he explained, "Get on my shoulders. I'll give you a boost that way."

I thought about my lack of knickers and shuddered. "I am not wrapping my legs around your head."

"Such a pervert! Here then." Magnos cast Tenser's Floating Disc. "Ride my disc."

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Ralenthra smack her forehead. "Excuse me?" I asked.

Magnos swallowed and enunciated his words more clearly. "Ride. My. Disc. Here, I can see you're intimidated by its size. I'll help you up."

I found myself getting hoisted up by the waist and seated on the floating silver disc. I skittered to my feet and the tentpack was handed to me. It took a few moments to make sense of the various
buckles and ties and the situation was not made any easier with Magnos standing almost directly underneath me.

As I was putting on the finishing touches, Magnos chuckled."Looks like a full moon."

I sighed, exasperated. "She shouldn't be visible at this time of day."

"I can only state what I see with my own eyes. From here, she is round and full and so close I could take a bite out of her."

I wheeled around to see Magnos and his lasciviously grinning face. Before I could draw my sword and strike him with it, Ralenthra elbowed Magnos in the ribs, not hard enough to bruise anything but perhaps his ego, with a "That's enough sky-gazing for you, Rel Astra. We've got a job to do."

Kronk turned to me. "You want Kronk to flatten magic person for you?"

I thought of my bet with Ralenthra. Apparently she had heard the offer too, and it set her eyes gleaming. I replied, "No, Kronk. That won't be necessary. He's good for something. Probably."

And we set out west, following the river. Just after passing through the gate, Magnos paused and sniffed the air. "Does anyone else smell brimstone?"

Dorn raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

~


I had shopped for a five day journey. Why had Magnos gone through all his food before midday? Why? Also before midday, I was starting to realize the wisdom of "breaking in" a pair of boots before you go walking long distances in them. But I wasn't the only one suffering it seems.

"Are we there yet?" groaned Magnos one hour into our journey.

"No." said Ralenthra.

"This is a travesty of justice, I tell you. The trip alone is going to kill me," Magnos intoned bitterly. Hedwig hooted sympathetically. "Thanks, girl. It's nice to know someone cares."

I sighed laboriously as I hobbled along, "You're not the only one with aching feet, you know. But some of us know how to suffer with some dignity."

"Oh yes! You're very dignified, Moonmaiden. I'd cast Tenser's Floating Disc for you, but I had to use that up so you could give us all a show. Not that it's not appreciated, but I'm afraid that you owe me 7 silver." Magnos piped up matter-of-factly.

"I don't owe you anything, Magnos." I groaned and rubbed the heel of my hand into my forehead as I recalled this morning's blunder.

Dorn spoke for quite possibly the first time since we met him. "Will you two just shut yer traps?"

I felt a little chastened being scolded by a stranger, especially one who had been assigned to keep an eye on us. Kronk laughed a little and pumped his fist in the air. Ralenthra sighed in relief. Magnos, as usual, couldn't care less about making a good impression on our creepy little warden.

"Mercury doesn't grow on trees you know. Do you have any idea what a risk to my well-being I am taking by carrying it on my person? It could make me go mad!" Magnos exclaimed with a grand flourish.

"Pity," said Ralenthra, flatly. "You are truly a great hero. We should all bow in your presence."

"Exactly," said Magnos, seemingly oblivious to her sarcasm.

Ralenthra made an obscene gesture at Magnos in drow sign and walked quickly ahead. I strained to join her despite my aching feet.

I could hear the sullenness in Magnos' voice as he loudly added, "And damn it, I'm hungry. Kronk, can you spare any of that jerky?"
butterfly_sunrider: (Default)
I woke up in the middle of the night. It was just as well that Methrammar had gone back to his own quarters because I had work to do. I ritually bathed, dressed in my druid's robes and, after descending to the forest floor, chose a tree whose dryad I would serve for the next day. Usually this day-long ritual consists of small tasks done for the dryad (or treant, where applicable) and most dryads I have served during my years have been pretty low maintenance. Of course, I'd never tried to combine a Song of Trees ritual with a wedding before.

From what I'd been able to gather (Sylvan gets a little rusty when you only use it once a month), this dryad was once a wild elf druid named Ebudae. She was mortally wounded fighting the corrupt Blue Bear Tribe of Uthgardt barbarians and, after the ritual that ended her life as an elf was performed, she was buried under the oak tree she is now bonded to about half a century ago. I asked her if she had known Ariel in life and she replied that she had once been a part of Ariel's circle when she was a druid. I explained the day's festivities and her eyes lit up.

"Ariel's firstborn daughter. I remember her when she was just a baby. May I come to the wedding? It's been so long."

I'd never heard of a dryad attending a wedding before. I replied "Since I'm performing the ceremony..." My eyes grew wide as I wondered if I had possibly overextended myself for this day. "I don't see why it should be a problem."

The dryad smiled. It was like she'd read my mind. "Do not worry, sister druid. My needs are few. A handful of berries here, a glass of mead there."

For the first few hours, things ran pretty smoothly. Ebudae and I chatted and I made her breakfast. Then, at the crack of dawn, the Harpers got up, bickering over who got to bathe in the nearby stream first. The twins came down next, as did Riol, the half-orc orphan that Ariel adopted when I first came out to train with her (I remember feeding and bathing him and now he's all grown up). They started setting up what was left to set up on the grounds and I went to help them as my dryad seemed content just lounging in a patch of sunlight, her feet dipped in the stream.

The guests began to make their way down. First were Ralenthra and Linu, who were chatting amiably, followed by a pretty but haughty looking bard who introduced herself to me as Sharwyn ("just Sharwyn"), who otherwise spoke to no one and a nicely cleaned-up half-orc who introduced himself to me as Daelan Red Tiger. We made small talk about the state of the Red Tiger clan until Methrammar came down. Finally Ariel and Celeborn made their way down and I understood why I had not seem him at lunch the previous day. In the short while since I had seen him last, he had become quite frail and perhaps was even making preparations for the passing west. Neighbors began filing in from the other villas and guests began taking their seats. I made one last check-in with Ebudae before taking my place at the altar.

For those of you not in the know, druid weddings are a bit...long. The ceremony alone lasts about three hours. The site has to blessed, the couple has to blessed, the bread and salt they share in the first "movement" has to be blessed and there are interludes to be sung by soloists at the right intervals. And that's just to start. But even so it is still a lot less high maintenance than the day-long pomp of a Lathanderite ceremony or your typical weeklong gnome wedding!

First up, I sang, blessing the place, blessing the guests, invoking the Treefather, the Earthmother and the Forest Queen. Then the couple approached the altar, so I got to bless them as well. They did the traditional chants for the first movement (Aarin was well rehearsed for someone who wasn't a druid), shared the bread and salt and that was followed by Sharwyn's solo.

During her solo, I had a brief chance to scan the audience and it was then that I realized that something was wrong. We were missing two of our soloists, Taeghen and Thralia. In the brief time we'd had together, Ralenthra had managed to teach me rudimentary drow sign. I managed to catch Ralenthra's eye and started signing to her, but it seemed that either I still need more work or I was too nervous to sign anything properly. She signed back "What?" and finally, as I realized time was of the essence, mouthed the words "where's Thralia" to her. I saw her turn to Tordrin and the two of them excused themselves, heading to the Harper's camp after Tordrin stopped and briefly whispered to Jaden, who nodded. When Taeghen's turn to sing came, he was still nowhere to be found. Instead, Jaden rose from his seat, walked to the altar and sang the solo instead.

Next came the pricking of the fingers of the bride and groom and the sharing of blood. Take it easy, it was just a few drops. Sharwyn looked a bit pale and I wondered at that moment exactly how useful she was in combat. After that part was done, Ariadne sang her solo, wisely taking it a little more slowly than usual, as Tordrin's solo was coming up next and he had yet to return. Finally, I saw them approaching, but without Taeghen and Thralia. As they drew closer, I saw the shadow that had descended upon both their faces, though it was clear they hadn't had a spat...their body language was even more intimate than I had seen after Methrammar and I had left lunch yesterday. I made a mental note to ask her about that. After Ralenthra took her seat and Tordin approached the altar for his solo, I saw her mouth the words "not coming" to me. Larue's Horn!

In my mind, I beckoned Selune to bring Ebudae to me and the dryad was beside me before Tordrin's solo was over. I asked her if she knew the particular solo that I needed covered and luckily she did. She agreed to fill in for Thralia and finally I could relax a little before the next movement began.

The bride and the groom each produced a lock of hair to be burnt together on the altar. More chants. Falco approached the altar and sang his solo, which was followed by Ebudae's solo. Everyone was so charmed by a dryad performing at the wedding that I don't think they minded that the program wasn't followed exactly as printed.

Finally, the last movement commenced: the handfasting. Methrammar was actually a part of this one, binding the four cords the groom brought to the grooms arm on one end. Aarin's cords came from Methrammar, Lord Nasher (before the falling out obviously), the Neverwinter church of Tyr (who donated the cord from material that Aribeth once owned) and Isendur. I attached the cords belonging to the bride to Pandora's arm. These were given to her by Ariel, Isioleth, Linu and myself. Chants from myself, repeated by the bride and groom went on as I wove the cords together until they were quite well bound. Finally, Ariel and Celeborn approached with Ariel's archdruid staff, which was laid on the ground at the feet of the almost-married-now couple. Pandora and Aarin hopped over the staff and that...was finally that.

***

It was midday. I had 12 more hours of service to go before Ralenthra and I could finally leave. Well, Ralenthra could leave if she wanted to, but I was stuck until my day-long service was up. Thank goodness everyone always want to talk to the bride and groom and not the officiant after most weddings, because I was spent. After checking in with Ebudae and promising her that I would get her some cake and mead as soon as it was being served, I approached Ralenthra and Tordrin. Tordrin excused himself.

Ralenthra whispered low. "What is the Eldreth Veluuthra?" At her utterance of the words my blood ran cold. I replied, "They are not words spoken of in good company."

Ralenthra continued. "Thralia and Taeghen were arguing. He said he wouldn't let her be a part of this...blasphemy against The People. Apparently it's not just humans he doesn't like. He gave her a lecture about the Talaviirs and...Tordrin and me. That's when Tordrin said Eldreth Veluuthra and spat on the ground. What is it?"

Just as I was about to answer her question, we heard a loud shout coming from the Harper's camp. Ralenthra and I ran to see what was going on and it appeared that Tordrin had just knocked Taeghen to the ground with his fist. He stood over Taeghen's prone form with a look of utter disdain. "You will not bring this evil to this place. You will not bring harm to May, my agents or Jaden..."

Taeghen laughed as he spat his blood on the ground. "Jaden needs no help from me to destroy himself. His fate is already sealed."

Thralia stepped forward, rapier in hand and she pointed it at Taeghen's throat. Though her eyes filled with tears, her voice was firm and strong. "We two are blood and that is why I spare your life today. But after you leave this place...you are no longer kin to me."

Taeghen seemed genuinely alarmed by this. "Thralia, please."

"No! You will not show your face at Moongleam Tower. You will not be granted passage into the city of Silverymoon. Every elven settlement between Evereska and Evermeet will know of your name and your deeds, and if I see you again, it will have been better for you had you never been born at all."

"You trust those blood traitors more than your own flesh. Foolish woman. Of course, what should I expect from a sun elf who gets rejected by a..." he snickered, "half-orc."

"Enough. Take your possessions and leave this place. We will have wards placed to prevent your return." She turned her back on Taeghen.

He reached his hand out to hers. "But, Thralia..."

She squared her shoulders and did not turn. "Goodbye, Taeghen."

And with that, Thralia strode past us and over to the stage. Luckily, Ralenthra and I were the only witnesses to this exchange as everyone else was quite immersed in the whole wedding business. As Tordrin approached us, I excused myself and saw to Ebudae's cake and mead. Finally, I sat down by myself with my own serving. Methrammar was assisting Meree and Jaden in setting the wards against Taeghen's return.

I thought to myself, Thralia is having a very, very bad tenday.

***

It took a little less time to tear down the ceremony area to make way for the reception. This time, we had Meree and Jaden helping out by levitating items and moving them, as they didn't quite have the brute strength of someone like Riol. As soon as I finished my cake and mead and started to add my help to the workers, he picked me up off the ground in a big bear hug. It had only been about half a year since I'd seen him last, but after being considered quite short for a half orc, he had shot up about half a foot in height.

"Leddie!" he roared with laughter. "You've shrunk!"

I smiled up at him after he put me down. "How are you doing, kiddo?"

"I've never been better! Isn't this great? I'm so glad I didn't miss the wedding. I got er...a little distracted during my patrol."

"Again?"

"Yeah, but it wasn't my fault this time, it was the wood nymphs!"

"What is it with all these irresistible half-orc males?"

He grinned. "That's a secret. Who's the other one?"

"Oh, May and I met him back in Everlund. Apparently when he's done with the er...ladies of the evening, most of the time they don't even charge him. And, uh..." I whispered low. "A sun elf friend of mine tried to get him to go to bed with her."

Ah, youth. With it comes indiscretion. Riol pointed at Thralia, who was being comforted by Ariadne and Miri. "You mean her?" he shouted incredulously. I jumped up and grabbed his arm. For a moment, I simply swung from it like I would from a large tree branch before he realized his mistake and lowered his arm. "Sorry, Leddie." We set about our work and continued our conversation.

"She's a bit sensitive about it, and what with her cousin turning out to be a psycho, losing one of her oldest friends and getting rejected all in the last few days, well, I wouldn't mention it."

"You can trust me, Leddie." And with that he proceeded to launch into all the local gossip as we worked.

***

Sun & Moon were soon setting up their instruments as I sat watching them with glazed eyes and the sun began to set. Ebudae spent much of the time chatting with Ariel and Ralenthra found herself in a conversation with Aarin before she made her way to take a seat beside me with her own cake and mead.

"So..." I turned to her and smirked, "You and Tordrin, huh?"

"Whatever do you mean?"

"Well, you two have been practically inseparable all day. And for another thing, there's that pendant of yours. That's moon elf work." I grinned. "Did he get that for you?"

She turned to me with wide, blinking eyes. "What, this old thing? You know how I like sparkly stuff. I just happened to pick it up during my many travels."

"Not in any of my family's rooms, right?" I raised an eyebrow at her.

Ralenthra rolled her eyes. "Of course not, silly." Her eyes turned serious for a moment. "I earned this."

I cocked my head. "Earned it? Like with a day job or something?"

I'm sure she thought I was acting clueless, but I was so exhausted that my brain wasn't quite working properly. I guess she decided to humor me, since she explained. "Back in Cormanthor, this was my reward for winning a little contest in a particularly ingenious way. My winning the contest led to my being trained as a rogue."

"As good a way to earn something as any." I chuckled. "Well, at the rate you're going, it may not be too long before Tordrin gives you another sparkly thing."

Ralenthra blushed a little and quickly changed the subject. "So...you and Methrammar, eh?"

I shrugged. "I guess. I mean, maybe. Who knows? We're both busy professionals and he doesn't exactly reside in Silverymoon proper. We'll see how it goes."

Ralenthra cocked her head. "Your enthusiasm is truly astonishing. What's the matter, Mister Goody-Goody didn't melt your butter?"

I sighed. "I've had better. But...I mean, that's not everything, right? He's a very accomplished gentleman from a good family. There are a lot of women who would give their eyeteeth to be in my position. I should be grateful."

Ralenthra laughed sympathetically and clapped me on the shoulder. "Whatever you decide, just try not to discuss me too much. I just had to extricate myself from another tangle with Aarin. It would be nice to go at least one more day and not have to get interrogated. Again."

"You can count on me." I gave her a hug and felt a strong hand on my shoulder. Apparently, another hand had landed on Ralenthra's shoulder as she looked behind her too. While Methrammar nuzzled my ear, Tordrin whispered to Ralenthra and she smiled. "See you on the dance floor!" she said as she walked off hand-in-hand with Tordrin. Methrammar and I soon followed, arm-in-arm. Tordrin apparently had received a reprieve for at least the first three songs Sun & Moon would play. As I saw them whirl together, I smiled. Good for them.

Though I dutifully checked in on Ebudae regularly, she didn't seem to need much from me and I was able to spend most of the evening on the dance floor in Methrammar's arms. I found him to be a very good dancer, but very formal. As the evening progressed, I watched Sharwyn drunkenly make passes at Aarin to the point where Linu had to escort her to her room. When Linu returned to tell us that Sharwyn was now out quite cold, Isioleth guffawed. Daelan retired soon after, after a dance with Ebudae.

There were group dances, there were more breaks for Tordrin spent with Ralenthra and a beautiful waxing moon illuminating the night. If it weren't for the exhaustion, I would say that midnight came too soon. Ebudae bade me a fond farewell before retreating back to her tree. Methrammar tenderly kissed me goodbye as Ralenthra, Selune and I were packed into my carriage. As we rode away and I began to drift off I only regretted that I never got to ask Pandora why she had not told anyone else in her family about Unebrion.
butterfly_sunrider: (Default)
As the rose-colored sunbeams began to reach the bottom of the forest floor, so was our journey to Amalith coming to an end. Isioleth rapped on the carriage door to wake us.

"Come on out," she called in her husky voice. Then she took a false distinguished tone. "The, uh, bride wishes to see you." Ralenthra was wary, I could tell, but silently, she stepped out of her side of the carriage. I did too, and took it in, the place I lived in for the happiest eighteen years of my life. The village of Amalith was almost entirely up in the great trees of the High Forest, with beautiful elven villas built into and around the trees in perfect harmony connected by sturdy rope-and-wood bridges and to the ground by an elaborate pulley system. On the ground, some space had been cleared for the upcoming reception and colored lanterns on strings were hung all about from tree to tree. Amalith is an almost totally self-sufficient commune, made up of a few families (all elven of some variety), subsisting on sustainable hunting and foraging for food. Many work as craftspeople or sell wares in nearby Olostin's Hold. It is thoroughly grounded in a love of nature, as a druid circle led by my Aunt Ariel is based here.

"It hasn't changed a bit." I said happily. Isioleth slapped me on my back. "Yeah, I know. I can't wait to get back to Hilltop, as boring as that one-mule town is."

Isendur caught up to us. "Now, Isioleth. I'm sure that Drogan will keep us plenty busy with our studies. And Hilltop is nice country, with nice people."

Isioleth scoffed. "You just say that because you like that Haniah girl who works for the mayor. At least you have Dorna to compete with! Xanos and that dumb paladin Mischa, we don't really have much in common."

"At least Xanos makes you laugh...and you're right, Mischa is pretty stupid."

We stepped onto the platform that would take us to the Lorien villa. Isendur grasped the rope and turned to Ralenthra. "I hope you don't mind heights, Miss Aerynrae." Just then, we heard a whistle. "Hold up," called out Tordrin, "is there room for one more?" I looked at Ralenthra, who was a little flushed, though I'm not sure if it was Tordrin drawing near to her (to conserve space, I'm sure) or the heights we were starting to experience.

As we reached the top, Ralenthra turned to Isendur and smiled politely. "Could you show me to my room? I need to...sort my things." Isendur shrugged and led her away, with Tordrin watching her as she went. After she was out of sight, Tordrin said, "Miss Isioleth, why don't you walk Seledra to her room. I think I know how this gadget works and I'll bring up some of the others before your brother gets back." She grinned at him "Oh, okay!" and looked at me like "who the hell is this guy" before shrugging. "So", she continued conspiratorially, "how's life in the Big City? Are you having lots of good sex?"

I turned to her with a raised eyebrow. "Issey, aren't you still a virgin?"

"Well, yeah, so? It doesn't mean I don't know what sex is. " And then she made obscene gestures with her hands that made us both collapse into giggles. "Don't hold out on me. I wanna hear all the details."

"All right, but when it happens for you, you'd better ante up."

"Takasi! That's not going to happen for a while yet."

"And why not? If I recall, you had to beat the local elven boys off with sticks when I left."

"Yeah, elven boys are boring. I don't care too much for humans either. They just don't do much for me."

"Dwarves?"

"Um, I don't think so."

"Gnomes?"

"Please, we're about to eat lunch, here."

"Halflings?"

"What do you think I am, some kind of pervert?"

"Well what then? Tief-"

"Don't change the subject, Leddie. I can tell there's something going on with you. First off, there's a strapping half-elf talking to Aarin in our kitchen who has brought you up more than once," she winked, "and secondly...secondly with you there is always a human. At least there is when you keep trying to change the subject."

I stuck my tongue out at her.

"Now I know there's a human. Fess up."

I groaned. "He's just a boy, Issey. He's eighteen or nineteen - "

"Cradle robber."

"Hmph. Any human with our species would be cradle robbing. Unless it's Elminster."

"Ew. Oh, that was uncalled for!"

"He's about six feet tall, has black hair, black eyes...he's a magic user..."

"I knew it, I knew it! You were always a sucker for magic users. Well, does tall, dark and handsome have a name?"

"I don't remember."

"One night stand, huh? Wicked! Pan'll be in in a little bit. I'll go get her."

"Wait!" I reached into my pack and pulled out a box. "This is for you."

With a wide grin, Isioleth wasted no time opening the box. Inside were a pair of crystal-studded hair sticks that I'd bought for her in Everlund.

"For when you do find that boy, Issey."

After hugging me, she scampered off to find Pan. I flopped down on my bed. The interrogations would continue until morale improves. I can't wait.
butterfly_sunrider: (Default)
With Isioleth and Isendur leading the way and the Harpers trailing slightly behind we made our way through the High Forest to Amalith. I am so embarassed. And upset. I thought this little road trip would be fun and until we reached the ass hole of the Silver Marches everything was fine. If only the wedding were held in Everlund, all of this would not have happened.

I looked over at Ralenthra, her silvery hair glowing in the moonlight that streamed through the window of the carriage as she tranced. She saved my life and those...people, those humans especially, were so cruel to her. The wood elf I could almost understand as they are not exactly known for being too bright, but damn it all, why do people have to be this way?

I can at least count on Isendur and Isioleth to be good, as they'd already met her and didn't seem suspicious or bothered. Ariel didn't seem upset when I told her. I guess that leaves the bride and groom, oh, and Methrammar.

Ooh, Methrammar. I hadn't had a chance to think about him in a while. What a fine, fine specimen of a man he is. What a gentleman. I wonder how he dances and if he will dance with me at the wedding. And then I remembered the last person I'd danced with. The boy.

The charming, clever, handsome and good-natured boy with magic crackling and dancing on the surface of his skin. Who wouldn't remember me even if I walked up to him and flashed him.

This is all too much, too much thinking. I opened my pack and took out a small bottle of raspberry ale, downing it as quickly as I could. A wonderful numbness washed over me.

It is so much better when one doesn't have to feel anymore.
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: (Default)
The sun had yet to crack the sky, but I awoke from my trance with a start. Something in the air. Something ill, something out of balance. Something that did not belong and I could literally smell it...

Ralenthra was already dressed and perched on the foot of my bed.

"I was wondering when it would wake you too."

"I guess my danger sense is a little less finely tuned than yours."

"Not everyone has the luxury of living day to day without wondering when they will find someone's knife in their back. Come, let's wake Thralia."

I heard a rustle just outside the window.

"Something tells me she's already awake."

I got dressed quickly and opened the door only to be startled by what at first looked to be a drow female staring back at us, fist raised as if to knock.

She gasped and shook her head. "You startled me. Seledra and (she looked past me and nodded her head in acknowledgment at Ralenthra) Mayurra, I presume?" she said without a trace of irony.

We nodded. She continued. "I am Miri Talaviir. I work for, er...with, I should say, Thralia. I'm in her band. Sun & Moon? Surely you're heard of it." She spoke quickly, her words running over each other, everything so fast, fast, fast. She started to head downstairs. "Thralia is outside. That's where you need to be if you're going to help."

I approached the top of the top of the stairs, noting that I had never seen this girl before. Ralenthra seemed suspicious too. "You're in Sun & Moon? How come we didn't see you in Everlund?"

She turned around. "The full band only plays larger cities, like Neverwinter, Waterdeep and Silverymoon. I take it you've never met Cosmo or Taeghen either."

The name Cosmo I didn't recognize, but Taeghen sounded familiar...

"Um. Could we hurry it up? They could be here at any second!"

"Who?" I asked.

"What your senses tell you; a horde of orcs from the north."

By the Nine Hells.

We ran the rest of the way outside, where Thralia and Tordin were suited up. The rising sun caught the hilt of Thralia's rapier and made it glint. Selune ran up and greeted us, bumping my hand with her snout, but seemed to understand the seriousness of the situation. I saw Rilla, whom I guessed was turned back by treants who warned her of the coming horde. Falco, the gold dwarf percussionist for Sun and Moon sharpened his axes as he stood next to a short, dusky-looking elf male that was busily polishing his hand crossbow. Miri whispered, pointing to the dusky male elf, "That's my twin brother, Venye." As if she anticipated it, she volunteered, "Yes, we're half drow, half moon elf." Ralenthra rolled her eyes, but Miri didn't seem to notice. "It doesn't happen that much. We grew up in Skullport. It's an...interesting place." Venye turned to look at us, revealing a jagged scar across his left cheek. He smiled.

A gnome male (must be Cosmo) bustled about his Gondsman, filling a front compartment with bullets. He was in turn being fussed over by his wife, Meree, Sun & Moon's business manager, a pretty gnomish female in fancy black robes whose tiny hands emitted sparks that clearly irritated him, as he admonished her not to “short out” the much larger metallic man he called Kang. And there was Taeghen, who I'd only seen once or twice before, walking up to Thralia and gently putting his arm around the small of her back. Together, they whispered a prayer to Corellon. Flying familiars took their places perched upon the inn roof near Ariadne, an air genasi, who had floated to the top of the stable and, as she still hovered, was keeping a lookout. Jaden, a darkly handsome young half elf gazed upwards at her, absentmindedly smoothing his grey and violet robes. He was a magic user; that much was certain, but something about him made me…slightly nauseous, like the sickly-sweet scent of flowers dying in the too-hot sun. I chalked it up to nerves.

Needless to say, I was worried. What were a bunch of performers going to do against an orc horde, even a small one? Then, suddenly, from the east, there was a stirring in the nearby woods. Could it be? We all drew our weapons. Selune whined.

Two moon elves crested the rise on strong, sleek chestnut steeds. "Cousins!" I shouted, rushing over to hug them. They hopped off their horses and embraced me as I ran into their waiting arms. My cousins Isioleth and Isendur were twins; Isendur was born less than an hour before Isioleth, but he still treated her like a baby sister. She was the youngest of the Lorien family, but I think that the babying actually made her more apt to prove how strong she was. It made her headstrong, reckless and almost scarily capable. In short, she was my closest cousin. Isendur found himself the only boy in the family when his older brother Unebrion was exiled and since then, he had been trying to fill in more and more as the man of the house for his ailing father. However, they were both being given a chance to break free of these prescribed roles as students of the adventurer's school run by Drogan Droganson in Hilltop, which they had leave from while Pan's wedding festivities were going on.

Isendur said, "I hope you don't mind us getting here a little early. We thought you could use a couple extra hands when that horde arrives."

Isioleth looked at the position of the sun and then at the grim expressions all around. "Did we miss breakfast already?"

I asked how they got here so fast. Isendur replied, "We didn't. Word just travels fast in the forest."

The twins tied up their horses in the stable. Isioleth straddled a tree trunk to the left of the stable and shimmied, then tucked herself into the Y-split of the tree trunk, before tying up her long black hair with two arrows. Isendur followed her but, instead of staying in the tree, he detached a whip from his belt, swung it so it wrapped around a higher tree branch, and kicked himself off the tree, swinging over to the stable roof and landing lightly and deftly next to Ariadne. He bowed to her and said, “I hope I am not crowding you, milady.” Ariadne smiled shyly and shuffled her feet while I heard an audible grunt coming from Jaden’s direction.

After having turned face-forward again, Ariadne caught a glimpse of the horizon and whistled to bring everyone to attention. "Orcs in range!" she shouted, "Fifty heads!"

Oh. Dear. Mielikki.

Thwping! went Isioleth's bow.

"Well, so much for negotiations." I muttered, shouldering my cumbersome wooden shield and drawing my longsword.

"Those are Urgurth's men, Seledra. They don't negotiate and they don't take prisoners. They must want something. It's not like them to raid a small town in broad daylight."

As Isioleth spoke, the others got into position and I was beckoned to the front by Miri. Tordrin whistled and we heard a loud, sustained crashing noise coming from the woods. It was Qilue, his brown bear companion, who must have had to make her bed in a nearby cave. She took her place in the front line between Thralia and Taeghen. Selune followed me, though I tried to tell her that I didn't want her to get hurt. Arrows and bolts whizzed past us towards the orcs, who then began to charge. In the front, it was Miri, Falco, Taeghen, Selune, Thralia, the construct Kang (who had started spitting bullets from the mouth sculpted onto his “face” at the charging horde) and I. To each side, and slightly behind, were Meree and Jaden. In various perches on high were Ralenthra, Ariadne, Tordrin and my cousins. Rilla and Venye took sniping positions from the nearby cover of the forest. As the horde drew closer, Cosmo, who maintained his position just behind Kang, flipped a switch on the automaton, which then began to swing its axe and longsword-equipped arms at the orcs, who had never seen anything like it before in their lives.

I tried not to think about the fact that I had never killed anyone before as I swung my longsword and blocked. Here and there I used an entanglement spell or the like, but for the most part, I left the spell casting and healing to the others, who were clearly more experienced than I.

Dusky and swift, Miri performed an intricate dance with her bastard sword that seemed to dazzle the orcs even as she deftly cut them down, gracefully sidestepping their blades and maces. Next to her, Falco swung his dwarven waraxes this way and that in syncopation, playing the clanging armor and helmets of the falling orcs like he would his own set of drums, perfectly accompanying Thralia as she sang and thrust her rapier into foe after foe, keeping in time.

Just beside Qilue, Taeghen, his gold hair and skin glowing in the rising sun, confidently and proudly called for blessing from Father Corellon as he slaughtered the children of his mortal enemy and healed what little damage they inflicted on his companions, letting a few past him into the secondary line of defense to be bludgeoned by the skipping stones from Rilla’s warsling or ripped apart by arrows and spells alike. Meanwhile, cerulean-skinned Ariadne hovered like a ghost just above the heads of those few orcs that were let past the front line, her tousled silvery hair flying wildly behind her. Stopping only to leap with a dancer’s grace from helmet to helmet, she viciously kicked her foes to the ground and thrust her greatsword through them.

The petite but formidable Meree hurled lightning from her hands that caused creatures three times her size to twitch violently and collapse, dead, and even without the spark of life, Kang was a formidable opponent as he fought side by side with his creator, being able to switch instantaneously from melee attacks to ranged attacks and back to melee with the simple flip of a switch from the Lantanese Cosmo.

Jaden nearly drove me to distraction with the blackness that swirled about his arms like a charmed snake, only to extend them into great, long inky black claws. It was an awesome, yet terrible sight to see that blackness bandy about the hapless orcs who found themselves in Jaden’s clutches like a mouse being toyed with by his feline predator.

My cousins had taken to shooting arrows two and three at a time, sometimes hitting one foe in multiple places, sometimes hitting several foes, doing just enough damage for someone else to cut them down with little to no resistance; Isendur quiet but deadly as the grave, Isioleth brash and taunting like a drunken dwarf. With poison powerful enough to scent the air coating the arrows flying from Venye’s bow, I started to get dizzy. Ralenthra proved to be as coolly efficient in combat as she was at picking pockets as I felt her bolts whiz past me hitting mark after mark...and then it happened.

One of the orcs knocked me down and ran right over me. The same momentum that he used to nearly flatten me took him past Thralia and towards Isioleth, who had taken to hanging upside down from her bent knees and shooting her bow that way. The orc drew his axe and pulled his arm back, but he was cut down from both sides as Isendur’s arrow hit him squarely in the back of the neck and pierced upwards through his skull and Isioleth’s arrow hit him in the groin, lodging itself deep into his belly. Flipping down from her perch, Isioleth then drew her longsword and cut off his head.

Another one trampled me and Ralenthra hit him with a bolt to the shoulder. Enraged, he ripped it out and stormed towards her, kicking me in the head as he ran. Selune grabbed hold of his leg with her teeth and was dragged behind until Tordrin leapt in front of him and with less than five feet between them, shot the orc in the face with an arrow. Ralenthra smiled warmly as if she couldn’t help herself and Tordrin smiled back, almost shyly. I was rather shaken up from the trampling and kick to the skull, so Ralenthra and Tordrin dragged me from the front and propped me up in the stable. Selune joined me and Ariadne floated down to see to any wounds I had, but I assured her I was more embarrassed than hurt. I asked Ariadne how many there were left.

"We've taken down half of the infantry, but Urgurth and his personal guard still stand," she replied softly. Her voice was soft like desert sand and her eyes glittered like a pasha's favorite diamond. As she dressed my wounds, I blurted out, "You are as kind as you are beautiful. I can see why Jaden is so in love with you." My eyes widened as I realized what I had said but she smiled dismissively, saying, "That’s quite a blow to the head you took out there. Rest now, dear." I shrugged; puzzled both by her complete nonreaction and the surety of my conviction in something I could know nothing about. At the same time I was so sure that what I had just said was true. I opened my mouth to apologize, but I could see she was distracted by something. I looked in the direction in which she was staring but saw nothing, as I blacked out...
butterfly_sunrider: (Default)
All this secretiveness can be exhausting for me sometimes, which is just one of the reasons I could never be a Harper. Don't get me wrong, I admire them and believe in their work, but sometimes it's enough of a challenge to remember all the codes I've learned for my dealings with Ralenthra in the short time that I've known her.

She was sitting on her bed (she always takes the bed on the right side of the room) swinging her legs up and down and holding the silver silk gown I'd bought her up to her chest.

"Rolly, that was supposed to be a surprise!"

She looked up at me with a wide grin.

"If it makes you feel any better, I was surprised when I opened it."

"Well, it's not the only one..."

"Ooh, really? I hadn't gotten to that one, thanks!"

Quick as lightning, Ralenthra found the lavender gown and held them both up.

"Where are these from?"

"The shopkeeper said they were from Shou."

"In Kara-Tur? Wow!" Her usually jaded demeanor faded and her eyes shone in wonder for a moment.

"Well...thank you. It must have cost you a fortune."

"It was a fair price. So...were you...successful in your endeavors?"

"I'm here, aren't I?"

"Good point."

"And you?"

"I met a very nice gentleman..."

"Did you get him drunk and then drug him after you had mad, passionate -"

"Listen, it was only the one time -"

"Hey, you don't have to defend yourself to me. I'm the thief. At least you didn't rob him after -"

"Of course I didn't. You...you didn't."

I narrowed my eyes at her and she looked away.

"You did, didn't you?"

"Hey, he wasn't going to miss it anyway. He probably thought he'd spent all his money on you."

"It was put on my tab, Ralenthra."

She squirmed a little.

"Oh, all right. I'll find a way to pay him back. I swear."

"Ok, look. I don't care what you do in your free time, but please don't take advantage of my bad judgment calls with others again."

Ralenthra looked remorseful for a moment and nodded.

"Anyway, as I was saying, I met a very nice gentleman. And, no, we didn't drink and we didn't go to bed."

"How disappointing."

"Give me a couple weeks after we get back to Silverymoon. Soon, I'll have him wrapped around my little finger. Well, wrapped around some part of me anyway."

A little while later, Thralia came up to visit and the three of us chatted and played Three Dragon Ante, drinking sparkling plum wine imported from Wa (from Thralia's personal stash). Eventually we dined in our room with Tordrin joining us and sneaking Selune inside.

So it was a rather quiet evening. We have a big day tomorrow.
butterfly_sunrider: (Default)
I finally left Everlund as the gates opened at the crack of dawn, just after I had bought a horse to replace the one taken by Ralenthra for her own journey. Since I had gotten little rest the night before, I chose to trance on the journey to Olostin's Hold, drawing the thick cranberry-colored velvet curtains of the couch to a close so as to lessen the glare of the rising sun.

I awoke from my trance to find that we were arriving at Olostin's Hold. From the position of the sun, I could see that it was midday. I hoped that Ralenthra was alright. I had missed her. We would have lots to catch up on, I was sure. I knew that I had a lot to tell her.

Since the horses would need a day's rest, I checked them and Selune in at the stable for the local inn, the Bucking Mare. Cute.

Oddly enough, the one thing I didn't expect was that I would see Thralia and her team here before me. She wasn't supposed to be here until tomorrow morning. I hoped nothing was wrong.

I walked inside and saw Thralia sitting in a corner booth by herself and when I say I saw her, I also mean to make it clear that it was not immediately apparent that it was her, even to me. She didn't want to be recognized. I pretended not to take special notice of her and waited for her tell. In the meantime, I made small talk with the innkeeper and confirmed that I had a reserved room, which was apparently arranged for me by the woman in the corner booth. My coachman, whose name I have learned is Samael, walked through the door with my luggages. I told him to leave them upstairs outside my room.

Thralia lifted a single, graceful finger in the air and spoke in a thick, halting accent.

"Bartender, give me a whiskey. Ginger ale on the side...and don't be stingy, baby." It was her tell, at least it was for me. From what I understand, she has a different one for everyone, but I know not to ask about her business too much. I slid into the booth across from her. She had either dyed her hair a deeper shade of red or it was a very good wig. She slid her rose tinted glasses down her slightly wider than usual nose slightly revealing newly grey eyes.

The bartender took our orders and left us.

"I wasn't sure it was you, at first." I started the conversation in Sylvan just to be sure.

"Then I'm getting better."

"What are you doing here?"

"I'm on my way to your cousin's wedding." Something was wrong. Her lilting voice was weighed down by something heavy inside.

"You're early."

"I...took care of business early," she stammered. "Look, don't worry about me. Your package arrived before you did. Your room was the only room not taken this evening, so I had it delivered there."

"Well, can I eat first?"

"I don't see why not."

The food and drinks were laid before me. I started eating.

"What do you know about Methrammar Aerasume?"

Her eyebrows arched sharply.

"Don't mess it up, Seledra."

"What?"

"You think I don't know you were making kissy-face with Alustriel's son last night?"

"Sune's tits, can't I have any secrets?"

"No. Listen to me. Methrammar is a...fine man..."

"You haven't..."

"No."

"Thank the Seldarine."

"Methrammar is every woman's dream come true. He's handsome, chivalrous and brilliant. He just so happens to come from the best family in all of Luruar, maybe in the whole North. And he likes you. Really likes you. Tordrin tells me as much."

"Wait, Tordrin knows?"

"There is very little that his operative misses when he's following people." Huh. So Tordrin has an operative. I wonder if they share.

I had finished my lunch, which Thralia generously paid for. I decided to throw down the gauntlet. "What's wrong?"

"I fired my bodyguard."

"You fired him?"

"He quit. It gets worse."

"You didn't - "

"I did. He...wasn't interested."

I sat back in shock. As long as I'd known her, I'd never known of anyone who refused an invitation from Thralia Ma'freyja.

"Well...at least you won't be seeing him again, right?"

"There is that, I suppose. I've had enough of these little hick towns."

She tapped her front teeth with her fingernail. That was my cue to head out. "I'll introduce you to Isendur when we saddle up tomorrow."

And I headed upstairs, saw that my packages must have been brought inside since they were no longer outside the door and knocked the midday knock.
butterfly_sunrider: (Seledra3)
All right, so I stayed a little later than dusk.

Ok, so I stayed a lot later, since I'm still here. I only mean to stay just long enough to dine with Methrammar back at the Friendly Dwarf, so I wouldn't have to worry about the cranky Keeper of the Bridges trying to fine me for using the gate during non-peak hours. Unfortunately, we were up so late talking and strolling through town (nothing more) that it was well past gate's close when I begged off and decided to retire upstairs (alone). It was lucky for me that he had to travel to Olostin's Hold on a later day, because I had no idea what I would tell him about Ralenthra, or even if I should tell him about her. I guess we will just cross that bridge when we come to it.

Believe it or not, we did not have elven wine; otherwise I would not gone upstairs alone, I assure you. We just shared a light dinner and conversation that came so easily once the how do you dos were done with.

When we finally reached a comfortable lull in the conversation and I could eat the tasty pheasant before me, he said, "You know, you're the first woman who didn't ask me about my mother inside of a minute of my introducing myself."

I put my fork down. "A man like yourself has plenty of accomplishments of his own to talk about without having to delve into family history. I would not be so bold as to start asking about your mother so soon before we are...better acquainted."

He smiled, "You would not be so bold..ha ha! Seledra, you may think you fool me with your wide eyes and blushes, but I see a fire within you that you cannot hide...I...feel like I know you and maybe I don't, but one thing I don't think you suffer from is a lack of boldness."

"You seem to have me pegged, Methrammar. I fear I will soon bore you."

"I could have the long life of Elminster and I still don't think I could live long enough for you to bore me."

Wow.

I didn't know how to follow that up, so I decided to tone things down a bit.

"Then it is good that we shall be spending more time together, first with the wedding and later back at Silverymoon. I'm sure we will see lots of each other."

We smiled and finished our food. The dynamic was strange and different, but good. I've noticed that elven men take...such...a...long...time to get to know a girl and by that time, the girl in question has probably already bedded a human just to pass the time. Half-elven men, certainly Methrammar, if he is any example, are quite a bit more intense, not so much so that we would end up in bed on the first night, but we could, given a few weeks' time. Humans want to marry the girl right away or bed them quickly, and then brag to all their friends that they nailed an elf.

After we left the Friendly Dwarf, he walked with me in the moonlight, ambling through the quiet streets hand in hand. Because she had been cooped up for most of the day Selune joined us. When I called to her, she pushed through the stable door and hopped all around, so excited to see me and who is this guy and did you bring me some food and where's Ralenthra and let's go let's go I'm bored and want to look around!

I laid my leftovers on the ground for Selune to enthusiastically devour and when I stood up, Methrammar's hand slid behind my back and gently drew me closer. The waxing moon was reflected in his eyes that looked like the sea after a storm. And. He. Kissed. Me. Then he apologized.

"I'm so sorry. I don't want to scare you away or anything."

I shook my head. "It's alright. It was a lo- a really nice kiss." I stammered.

At that point, we were interrupted by Selune, who was thoroughly bored with the proceedings and tugged gently at my sleeve and whined, as if to tell me she wanted to keep walking. We obliged her, since she had behaved herself so well all day. Finally, my instincts told me to bring the night out to an end, so as to leave him wanting more. I yawned.

"I'm so sorry. I'm just...so tired. I will see you at the wedding then?"

"I wouldn't miss it for all the tea in Shou."

He walked me back inside the inn and arranged for Selune to be able to sleep in my room, but stayed at the foot of the stairs himself. He whispered, "Good night, Seledra."

I made my way to the top of the stairs and turned, whispering, "Good night, Methrammar! See you again soon!"

I closed the door, sat on the big fluffy bed that faced the window and relaxed. Selune stretched herself across my lap and I gave her some long overdue pets and scritches. We spoke silently for awhile. I told her about Thralia and Kronk and Methrammar and she told me about the assorted Harper Agents that played fetch with her when their shifts were over. She'd met Kronk as well. He came back to the Friendly Dwarf last night with blood on his hands but he had been so gentle to her that she licked his hands clean. Half-orc blood, but not his. She also spoke to a strange but funny little creature who called himself a pseudodragon named Beau. Oh, and there was a dragon going around incognito but his intentions were not hostile, unless you consider eating a lot of Shepherd's pie hostile. Look outside.

I did. And I saw a white dragon flying away from Everlund, apparently undetected. He headed towards the Nether Mountains and soon out of sight.

After Selune fell asleep and before I started my trance, I whispered a prayer to Mielikki to protect Ralenthra on the road and when she arrives at Olostin's Hold before I get there.
butterfly_sunrider: (Seledra2)
Like clockwork, I rose at the stroke of eight (hey, it was hard getting back into trance with a vision like that), walked over to my desk and re-read the letter Ralenthra/Dhavra left for me.

My dear friend,
I cannot thank you enough for the aid you've given me these past few weeks. Without you, I don't think I'd ever come so far in my search. But I must go on alone, now. I fear that traveling with you further will put you and your family in danger from those who seek me. Even now, there is another drow in the city who works for my House; she may be here to bring me back to that horrid city. After her, there will be more.
Please, do not come after me. You have taught me so much about the woods that I'm sure I can make the rest of the trip by myself. I have only to follow the road south and stay out of the High Forest; I cannot get lost. When I have found my father, I will write to you. May your Goddess go with you, always.
Dhavra


Okay.

Think. Think. Think. Of something sad, of something that broke your heart. There. There we go...and...now!

With a sob, I burst through the door and ran down the stairs into the main hall of the Friendly Dwarf Inn. Darla, the kindly innkeeper's wife, hadn't noticed my tears at first and told me that my breakfast would be delivered to my room very soon.

"Oh my dear, sweet girl. What is the matter?"

"It's...Dhavra...(sob)...she's gooooooooooooooooooooone!!!"

Darla looked at my letter, hugged me close and wiped away my tears.

"There, there, my dear. It's a brave and noble thing she's done. She is truly a testament to her...kind. It's for the best, dear."

"I suppose you're right."

"Did she happen to say where she was headed?"

"Noanar's Hold, why?" I widened my eyes and batted my eyelashes innocently.

Darla turned noticeably pale. She must know they practically hunt drow there for sport.

"Just curious, dove." She bit her lip, and as she turned away shook her head and said, "I'll send Amie up with your breakfast, my dear."

I took the handkerchief she then handed to me and dabbed at my eyes as I walked back up the stairs. With my back turned she couldn't see that I was fighting a smirk.

I took my food in my room, got dressed and packed my things before visiting Thralia. I had a favor to ask her. But first, I had to get past the half-orc.

"Hello Kronk."

"Hello..."

"Seledra."

"Right."

"Well, of course I'm right, it's my name isn't it?"

I swear I saw the corner of his mouth twitch.

"You want something? You not here talk with Kronk."

"As charmed as I am by your presence, no. Is Thralia in?"

He nodded.

"Is she decent?"

"Thralia very kind to Kronk..."

"Is she alone and clothed?"

By Tyr's right buttock, I'd made the half-orc blush!

"Thralia alone, but...Kronk not know if..."

I grinned.

"Why don't you check? And then tell her I'm waiting to see her."

Kronk went inside. I heard something heavy drop to the ground and I heard Thralia giggle. I struggled to remain sober. Quickly, Kronk stepped back outside, grabbed me and ushered me in before hastily shutting the door behind me. Thralia and I looked at each other and collapsed to the ground. I muffled my laughter into my cape, while she covered her face with a pillow.

As long as I've known her, Thralia had always tranced in the nude and I saw that she hadn't changed a bit. I'm sure Kronk had seen plenty of naked women before, but not women like Thralia.

I whispered in elven, "Sorry, I have to get serious now."

Thralia put on her poker face. "Of course."

"I suppose you know she's gone."

She batted her eyelids at me. "Why would you think that?"

"Because I know you have at least five people staked out in and around this building, not to mention the people stationed all around Everlund who report to those people who then report to you. And I know you know what she can do. And I know your mouth is watering."

She lounged on her bed like a cat. "And I know that you know. But did you know that I knew that you knew that I know?"

"Indeed I did."

"I daresay you missed your calling in life."

"That I doubt. I may be able to sense trouble, but I sure have a hard time avoiding it."

"I'll say. When did you find her?"

"Greengrass, just outside Silverymoon."

She grinned.

"And already you're going to have angry drow after you. That is quite an accomplishment."

"Not now, Thralia. I need a favor."

"I know."

"But did you know that I knew?"

"Of course. What do you need?"

"Well, if my suspicions are correct, they will be coming. We need a head start. I know the drow cannot be stopped, exactly..."

Thralia scoffed indignantly.

"...but if you could delay them, perhaps get them to going in the wrong direction...I need them to head towards Noanar's Hold."

"Consider it done."

"You're the best."

"I know."

I raised my eyebrow.

"I have to go about my business today, but know that I owe you a favor."

She took my hand.

"Friends don't owe. They do because they wish to. But I may need your help someday and I am glad that you offer it."

Thralia got dressed and we more loudly spoke in a mix of common and elven about the noble aims of Dhavra and her brave, suicidal journey towards Noanar's Hold. As I broke into fresh tears (Thralia had told me the one dirty joke she knew in druidic), she saw me to the door. She whispered into my ear, "See you at the wedding," and more naturally told me to keep my chin up.

Then she beckoned Kronk inside.
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.
butterfly_sunrider: (Seledra2)
Morning came and went. With all the bustle of entering Everlund I didn't get much of chance to talk to Ralenthra about yesterday's shopping trip. Indeed, she seemed to be over her melancholy and now her eyes gleamed as she took in the city's sights. Traffic was insane as services all over the city were just getting out and the pious clogged the streets and thoroughfares. I had business at the Evergreen Hall, but I didn't want to keep Ralenthra waiting when she probably had better things to do.

"Why are you stopping?"

"I have druid business at the Hall. Thought you might want to...er...case the town."

"Trying to get rid of me, eh?"

"That's not it at all. I didn't want you to be bored with the...er, druid stuff."

"Gods, you are gullible. I was kidding,"

I blushed and looked at the ground. "Yeah, I get that a lot."

Ralenthra's smirk melted into what appeared to be a look of concern.

"Hey, I know I give you a hard time. Try not to take it too personally. For a treehugger, you're not bad. I'll pick you up at the stroke of five so we can get dinner."

And with that, she rode off. I met with the druids of Evergreen. This was partially a diplomatic excursion, as my cousin Pandora was headed here to be installed as Archdruid after her honeymoon was over. We discussed Silverymoon and what I should do about the huge increase of chipmunks in Old Town. They in turn, asked my advice about the cat colonies in the Bell Market. We also spoke of Pandora's exploits and realized there was more bitterness between her and Lord Nasher of Neverwinter than I had previously suspected.

This went on for seven hours, as we do not conduct business over food.

Ralenthra was back on time and together we decided on The Friendly Dwarf, a popular and boisterous inn often patronized by Harpers and Moonstars - hence the boisterousness. Ralenthra and I chatted about our days, both avoiding whatwe might felt the other would see as "boring" details. We were just finishing dinner when a familiar face wafted into the room. While everyone else was busy catching their breath, I got up and strode over - until I was knocked on my behind by the biggest half-orc I'd ever seen. Damn, he was fast!

"Hey!"

"Hey yourself, druid. No rushing the bard-lady."

"I know this troublemaker, Kronk. It's okay. Help her up, willya?"

Kronk held out his huge paw and pulled me to my feet. For a big guy, he could be surprisingly gentle.

"You have a bodyguard now?"

Her name is Thralia Ma'freyja. About 20 years my senior, she was like a big sister to me in those years before I went to train in Amalith. We went to the Lady's College together (I was very young to be attending - 120 was the average age of most first-year elves) and after I got expelled, she went on to be a bard ( a famous one at that) and now, by the look of the small silver pin on her lapel, an agent for the Harpers. For those of you not in the know, she's a sun elf and heads a band of bards called Sun and Moon.

"Just for the tour. After that's over, he'll accompany me back to Silverymoon. I've got a regular gig at the Dancing Goat lined up!"

"The Dancing Goat...that's...just..gr-fabulous."

"Oh, you have to come see me. You promise you will? Please?"

Damn.

"Sure, I go there all the time! Hey, can I introduce a friend of mine?"

I grabbed Ralenthra by the arm and pulled her over, forgetting myself. The half-orc sprung and soon he was holding Ralenthra about three feet off the ground, his hands around her waist with the same ease as around a man's neck.

"Veil not fool me, drow."

"Unhand me you brute!"

I stifled a giggle.

"She's not one of those drow. Lia, could you -"

"Drop her, Kronk."

"But - "

"She's a good drow, like Drizzt. Only probably not as whiny. Remember Drizzt?"

"Yeah"

Ralenthra was dropped like a rag doll to the ground. Luckily, her cat-like reflexes ensured that she would land on her feet. I thought I saw something flash in Thralia's eyes for a split-second, but it was probably nothing.

"Kronk, you can make an appointment with one of the ladies if you like. I should be safe with Seledra for a while."

Kronk wandered off towards the back room. I hoped The Friendly Dwarf was not a reference to the ladies in the backroom and turned to Ralenthra.

"Dhavra, this is Thralia Ma'freyja. You may not have heard of her, Dhavra. She's a famous bard."

"Charmed. No, unfortunately it has not been long since I escaped the Underdark and I have not heard of you, Mistress Ma'freyja." Ralenthra curtsied deeply. I couldn't look at her for fear of laughter.

"Yes, I detect an accent. Menzoberranzan? And...you have green eyes."

"My father...was a moon elf. I'm looking for him."

"I hope you find him, dear."

"Thank you. Seledra, if I may, I'd like to adjourn to our room upstairs. The sun - it's taken a lot out of me."

I knew not to expect her when I got up there.

"Have a good rest, then. We have a big day tomorrow."

She knew we might not be staying at the same place two nights in a row.

"It was, Mistress Ma'freyja, a pleasure."

"The pleasure was all mine, Miss Dhavra."

Ralenthra went upstairs. Thralia and I ordered some elven wine and Thralia insisted on treating me. When she reached for her coinpurse, she found it was gone.

"Where did you find her?"

"Uh..."

"She's amazing. No one has been able to pick my pocket without my noticing in years. No, don't tell me. It's probably best that I don't know."

"Right."

"Here." She shoved a small scroll into my hand. "I want you to give that to her. It has my contact information on it." She whispered, "I don't want the Moonstars to get her first." Her volume returned to normal. "Luckily, I keep two coinpurses on me. I don't think Kronk did."

I reached for my coinpurse. "Here, let me - "

"Don't worry, I can take care of Kronk. Besides, the ladies here rarely charge him as it is."

"That guy?"

"Looks can be decieving."

"And you would know this because...?"

"No, no, no. I don't mix business with pleasure."

"Um. Ew. And yes you do."

"Well, not this time."

"Good."
butterfly_sunrider: (Seledra2)
Evening falls.

At Ralenthra's insistence, we left Silverymoon early in the evening. She seemed so surprised that I was able to play along with her con but she didn't know me before I became a druid.It took more than one expellable offense to expell a Silverymoon Nailo. It took three. My parents gave a lot of money to the University in their efforts to turn me into their picutre of the perfect elven girl and I failed them miserably, on purpose. True, I was not planning for my last indiscretion to be the one that would finally get me expelled; I had, in fact, planned to go out in a much more grand fashion.

My first offense was the re-opening of the portals between the dormitories during curfew hours. This sounds like a smaller offense than it really was. I suppose a small part of me thought I was playing Sune but most of me just thought the ensuing chaos was fun. As part of the deal, I kept my partner's identity a secret; only a gifted mage could have broken the spell wards on the portals and kept them open, confounding even the staff. Of course, only a gifted seductress with a flawless memory could have gotten the necessary "nonexistent" spells right out from under the noses of the supposedly celibate priests of Deneir at the Vault of the Sages without being able to write them down. I was put on probabtion.

My second offense was the theft of a map I had sweet-talked out of Esklindrar the Sage, the man who runs the Map House. It was a complete map of the entire university and could be used to track any object or person with a command and the touch of a wand. I hadn't really stolen it. I had borrowed it, had my partner make a faulty counterfeit copy of it and returned the counterfeit to Esklindrar instead. This time, it seems, I was put on "double secret probation".

My third offense was to be the theft of the genealogical record of my father's family, held in Everdusk Hall, which would have required the assistance of nine more classmates. I was convinced that secrets were being kept from me by my parents, but unfortunately my greatest plan never came to fruition.

My partner, the gifted young human mage betrayed me by convincing me that we should "consummate" our bond of petty crime and elaborate pranks - in front of a mirror. Too bad all the mirrors in the entire University had been enchanted as scrying mirrors and I wound up putting on a free show for everyone - students and faculty alike. Aelthas Vihuel got away scot free, by testifying against me in front of the school board. I hear he's an instructor now...and he hasn't aged well, the old bastard.

Change comes slowly for an elf, but I like to think that I have changed these eighteen years. I try to do good by others without being too preachy. I try to trust people, even though many have betrayed my trust. Finally, I try not to cause trouble just to get a rise out of others. Unfortunately, it seems that trouble follows me now instead of the other way around.

Speaking of which, I may have been too hard on Ralenthra. Even if she was taking advantage of those peoples' kindness, doesn't she deserve some kindness? We've all made mistakes - I'm a living example of that. She's been through more than I could probably imagine. If she were really a bad person, she could have stabbed me in my bed numerous times or robbed me blind. Maybe it's because I'm more useful to her alive and loyal but maybe she just needs a friend. She may have thought she could hide it from me, but even after we were a few miles away from Old City, she was quiet and I think I saw her dab her eyes a few times. Of course, if I ask her, she'll probably just tell me that she's reacting to the eyedrops. Bah. I'll apologize in the morning, as it looks like she's deep in trance.

It's not going to be the most restful of nights. It's hard to enter trance in a bumpy coach, but not impossible. Tomorrow morning we will be in Everlund, the closest "big city" to Amalith. After that, it's a day trip to the village of Olostin's Hold. We'll spend the night there and leave the following morning for Amalith, getting there on the following morning. We'll probably spend three whole days in Everlund then. Plenty of time to get to Amalith and meet up with family and friends. I just hope Ralenthra doesn't get too bored or feel left out. She'd probably like the Loriens, if she gave them a chance.

I gazed at my new green dress from Mistress Nalari, made with more care than the other green dress spun by Mother on an all-night weaving marathon. Decisions, decisions. Decisions that can wait till tomorrow.

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Butterfly Sunrider

March 2016

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