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Thread Contributor: Arjay Lo'RanElves don't just BAKE in trees...
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#1
“Well,” Arjay commented as they walked back toward the Moon. Or, rather, he walked back toward the Moon and his new companion walked where he walked and knew not to where. “That was certainly… unusual.” It wasn’t an exaggeration, either. He’d left without going with those out to rescue the people who’d vanished, one whom he knew and truly had an interest in seeing rescued, and all for… what, exactly? The whole thing in his mind was hazy, but for whatever reason he’d left he was oddly at peace with it.

He stood before his place of business, his new home, and studied it for a moment, silently, with its new resident next to him. Then, looking down at the moonstone that still showed one gleam within it, he nodded. “I wish that, without displacing any of the surrounding buildings, the tree’s growth would accelerate so that within five minutes time, the main floor contained three additional rooms of a similar useable size to the existing ones and two additional upper floors existed utilizing their space to create rooms of a similar size to the second floor, with a final floor above those consisting of three larger rooms using the floor plan I am currently thinking of.” He watched the glow within the moonstone flare, then vanish and nodded once.

“This, I believe, will cause some excitement to those who are currently within, don’t you?” Arjay mused as the tree holding the inn began to grow before their eyes. Indeed, in the next few moments several people came running, alarmed, from the building, much to the elf’s amusement. He caught a fleeing barmaid by the arm, smiling at the confusion on her face as she registered who was holding her near the strangely expanding ‘building’ she worked within. “We’re going to have need of new furnishings for, oh, quite a few new rooms. Be a dear and see who in town can see to the task for us and what they’ll be charging? Take this as collateral to secure their services,” he said, pressing an ornate bracelet from his winnings at the drawing into her hand. “And this? This is just for you,” he added, adding a sapphire broche, “Now go.”

The five minutes were, at least, interesting to watch, and when the tree’s visible growth halted, he looked at Lukk. “Well, if you’re going to be staying with me, shall we have a drink?”
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#2
There was nothing about this place that really seemed familiar. Lukk knew even as they walked around the frankly odd city that he was far, far away from his home. Still, he was mostly untroubled by this knowledge. Things at home were peaceful, and his parents would be able contact or find him if need be. So he followed his new... Lord? Patron P to wherever he was heading.

Arjay stopped in front of a tavern made from the hollow of a tree, and Lukk couldn't help but to smile. Mother would have liked this building very much.

The wish made by the other elf earned a quiet chuckle from the weapons master, it was well worded, really, and thoughtful. He hadn't realized the tree was currently occupied. The sudden exodus of people from within earned a chuckle. "Poor souls," but there was far more amusement than pity in his tone. He let Arjay speak with the barmaid before he spoke again, this time sounding much more thoughtful, ''Am I? I will admit that I am uncertain what my role is to be here. Lord Lo' ran. The Goddess works in strange ways, and I'd be a fool to assume I would always understand my purpose, but it is always nice when I can know." Lukk offered Arjay a smile, "But discussing the firer would indeed be more pleasant over a drink."
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#3
Would he? Here Arjay had just been sort of taking it as a matter of course. “Well, I suppose you don’t have to,” Arjay reasoned. “If you have somewhere else to stay, I won’t stop you.” He shot the other man a good-natured smile. The man had just arrived here, knew no one here, and probably didn’t have a lot in the way of funds. Of course he was going to stay with Arjay. He’d probably be a lot of use, naturally, even with just testing Arjay’s enchanted blades alone.

The inn was, now, deserted, which was pleasant for having a little private chat. He’d lose a little money, but the people would trickle back in over the next few hours, he was sure about that. He hadn’t seen the merchants run out, so he knew someone was still here, and Vic hadn’t abandoned his post at the bar, apparently. “What’s your pleasure?” Arjay asked Lukk as they took a seat at the bar. He himself had a glass set down in front of him already, Vic knowing full well what Arjay would want, and he waited until the other elf had a drink before they started to talk.

“So. I suppose the first question is what world you’re from. My world is called Toril, does yours have a name for itself?”
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#4
Lukk Wasn't entirely sure what, if anything, would be safe to assume. The easy smile the warrior gave the other elf was relaxed. "well no. I'm not even all that certain where 'here' is, but it feels like 'far away from home' is a good bet." Lukk fell into speaking eleven. since his new patron was an elf, and he wasn't terribly concerned if anyone else understood him." Lukk had a respectable amount in coin on him, but he hadn't been truly prepared to travel. Really, he supposed he was lucky that he'd had his blades on him.

"I'll take water for now. Unless you have good wine! Good meaning of elven make, of course. They always had plenty at home, but this was not home. Toril. Lukk had heard of it; his father hailed from his own world, but his mother, well, she had not. "You know the Seldarine, then?" He brightened, "I do not come from ToriI, but we certainly know of it. My mother hails from that world." He offered Arjay a small bow, "The kingdom of my birth is called Rhodane. We live in the middle place between the plane of shadow and the material."
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#5
Arjay scoffed goodnaturedly at Lukk. “Do I have good wine. Really? Do you think I’d stay in this place without even a good drink to be had?” It was true that his private stock was getting a little low, but in a month it would be restocked along with the latest shipment that he had arranged from Toril, so there was no reason to horde the good bottles. “You said that this calling has rescued you from something, so that seems like good enough reason to celebrate, doesn’t it?” He peered toward the kitchen, then whispered, magically sending the message to the barmaid he could see through the window into the other room.

So Lukk wasn’t from Toril, but his home was a matter of planewalking from his own world, not traversing another universe. That was almost like having someone from home, then, and if his mother hailed from there… “Yes, I know the Seldarine rather well,” he said, smiling faintly, “And if your mother hailed from my world, I assume you do as well? Tell me, where did she hail from in my world? What was her family?” Even if they weren’t snobs about it, trying to keep an elf from finding a common point of contact was nearly impossible, and this one was half from his world. It was more of a commonality than Arjay had seen ever since he came to this world, he couldn’t quite resist. “As for this place… I take it you’ve heard of Sigil? It’s something like that, but on an even more vast scale. There are doors here not just to other planes, but entirely different universes, most of them quite different from our own. It’s… well, really, it’s a remarkable place. I found my way here, and now I help keep the entrance back into Toril safe. We can’t catch everything coming in, after all, nor do I think we really should, but we make sure that nothing truly dangerous makes its way through.”
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#6
In Lukk's defense, Arjay and a strangleholds lady elf he'd noticed in the shop they'd been un had been the only other elves Lukk had seen since his arrival here, and he wasn't certain if there even well any others. Still, the elf was far from dull; Arjay's words told him something. "You have a way\ home?" Lukk didn't seem overly excited, but more relieved to know that there was a way home.

He almost hated to think how angry his sister would be to track down the drow who'd been holding him and not find him, only to toil fruitlessly,\ attempting to find him. Though to be honest, the idea of her fury against the drow earned a quiet, private smile. "Oh, yes. Any victory against the drow should be celebrated." Lukk smiled when Arjay acknowledged his mother's pantheon, "Oh yes, we know of it. Mother is a follower of Corellon Larethian, though she pays homage to all of the Seldarine, of course." He shifted, settling in his seat, "She was born in a forest nation called Comanthyr, I believe? I know we would have relatives in an elven house there, but I am not certain how closely related we would be."

Arjay might catch a rush of emotion as he added, "Do you know of the house EveSpring? That is the surname of my mother, which I chose to lake for political reasons." He chuckled, "Or rather, to avoid politics; my father's family is embroiled in such things too often for my tastes."

Guarding the portal to Toril was a noble goal; one Lukk would be happy to help with. "This place sounds incredible. I should like to explore it. And of course assist in its protection."
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#7
He supposed that it was a sign of how long he’d been in the Hub that he had started taking the way home for granted. “Oh, yes, I do have a way home,” Arjay confirmed. “There’s a stable portal that leads to Toril, although I’ve found that plane shifting away from here will take you back as well, or to any other world that you know how to locate. If you’ve business back home, we can easily arrange it.”

At the mention of the Drow, Arjay almost reflexively turned his head and spat, but this was his bar, and he tried to keep it clean. “I sincerely hope that your disappearance causes someone to be sacrificed,” Arjay said, his voice going uncharacteristically cold as only the subject of the Drow could make it. “We could probably make our way back there just to bring people to help us lay ruin to whatever city you were held in. It’ll take some doing, but it could be done.” It wasn’t Arjay’s normal sort of endeavor, but the Drow held a special, dark place in his heart.

Cormanthyr…? That was surprisingly nondescript, but he realized yet another possibility here: His mother may not have been from the modern Toril. Anything was possible when you were planewalking. “I’m afraid that Cormanthyr is largely in ruins. We’ve begun to reclaim the capital, but the empire fell centuries ago and our People retreated from it. The Drow have infested the forest for the most part, obviously we’re working to do something about that now. All the same… without knowing where and when in Cormanthyr she lived, it’s difficult for me to really say anything at all about her family aside from the fact that the name doesn’t immediately bring anything to my mind.”
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#8
Lukk had travelled the planes in the past; not often, but living in a pocket where more than one plane met meant that he’d gotten comfortable with crossing the borders from one to the other a long time ago. “Oh that's very good,” Lukk said, “It is possible that with the right spell I could shift planes to get home.” it was nice to think that he could return home at least to let his family know he was okay. Vivian might be angry with the draw for kidnapping him in the first place, and while the idea of many dow dying certainly didn't trouble Lukk, he worried about his sister becoming overwhelmed in one of their cities. “Thank you, Arjay. It would be nice to be able to at least check in with my mother. She will worry.”

Still going home wasn't something that had to be done right away. They had time before his family would realize that he wasn't where he should be to begin with. when his new friend mentioned sacrifice, Lukk winced. So long as it wasn't one of the few other slaves, he wouldn't really mind. “I'm not really one to start wars usually, but in this case I don't believe I would have any problem at all with it.” The drow would always have a special kind of hatred from Lukk. especially after what he had just been through.

The Cormanthyr that Lukk knew of, the kingdom of his mother's childhood, no longer existed, but he did not know that. Luke only knew the stories that his mother had told him. hearing the other elf say that the kingdom was in ruins was distressing, he knew his mother would be saddened to hear it. Hearing that the drow had invaded the forest where she had once lived would only make the blow of knowing that her son had been taken by them all the worse. No elf wanted to think their family in danger of the drow. “She lived in the capital city I think, were I ever to make it to my home, I could ask.”
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#9
“The right spell, the right combination… The long and short is that yes, we’ll get you home. If you were a captive of the Drow… well, we’d probably best not wait too long before doing so. I remember when they were rather more active than normal, the panic it could cause when someone you knew vanished…” He sighed, shaking his head. Of course, when it had been him captured… “One thing at a time. We’ll get matters settled here, then see to traveling the planes.” And, naturally, he was a bit curious about a plane that existed on the border of the Plane of Shadow.

And, of course, the details of Lukk’s mother settled it. “Then yes, your mother is a bit removed from my own time. In my time, the capital had fallen some six centuries past to an army of demons. It is, quite honestly, one of the more tragic tales of our history. We’ve recently retaken the city, begun to rebuild, but it’s a long process, and there was so much lost…” He sighed, shaking his head. “If you’re curious, I do have several volumes on the matter, and some more recent accounts to corroborate or correct the classic telling of the fall. I have hopes that the city will be restored to glory, the efforts have been nothing short of inspirational, but I wasn’t meant to be a part of that story, I’m afraid.”
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#10
Spells and combinations of spells… That sounded far more like his sister and their mother than anything Lukk could do. What it came down to for him was whether or not he trusted Arjay to know and cast the correct spells to send him back home, to let his family know where he was, that he’d been called away on a mission, one obviously blessed by the gods, and that he was whole and hale. And that his sister didn’t need to burn the whole of the Underdark to find him, not that he’d mind at all if she did precisely that… “It was a raid,” his tone gave away his disgust for being taken on a simple raid, “We were protecting a visiting dignitary, a human man and a good one,” he held his head high, “Elf friend,” he expected that Arjay would know the meaning behind that simple phrase, that this had been a noble command, not just some merchant of human ruler, “They must have heard of his visit and came for him. We succeeded, at least, in keeping him safe.” His own fall meant less to the elf than the success of his mission; keeping his charge alive had been his task, not keeping himself out of the hands of the drow, much as he regretted that turn of events. “I should like to know how his visit went. He was a friend.”

Six centuries of demons inhabiting Cormanthyr. Mother would be despondent, he knew. “Perhaps it’s best if I know as little as possible before my visit. My mother can be inquisitive, and I would not tell her an untruth, but this news will upset her.” He frowned, “She loves our home, but she misses the land of her birth, I know, you could hear it in her voice when she would tell us stories of her birth home.” It was good to know your history so that you would not repeat it, but Lukk had little interest in reading tome after tome about a land he had never known knowing that the knowledge would bring unease to his mother. Unease, and likely anger. Which his family would have to soothe. “Perhaps not. Perhaps the story of this place,” he motioned around them, not just to the tavern, but the city outside, “Will feature you prominently.”
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#11
“Yes, that does seem to be their favorite way,” Arjay said darkly, murmuring a few dire curses in Elven under his breath. “At the very least, you kept your honor intact through the ordeal,” Arjay offered. It was something that at this point, honestly, he didn’t put all that much stock in, of course. His honor had been dragged through the mud so many times, generally simply by political rivals with no real truth behind their justifications for publicly shaming him, that he had finally just embraced his shame and embraced life as a spy and a self-imposed outcast, taking more stock in more tangible measures of right and wrong. When it came to the Drow, though… one needed all of the victories that one could gather, and if an honorable defeat is all he could manage, that was what one clung to. “We’ll get you your answers soon. Perhaps not soon enough, but as soon as we can manage.”

“Well, depending on what point she left our world, there were glorious centuries where that city was the shining jewel of civilization. Artistry, magic, strength at arms, it quite had it all.” Of course, it had also harbored its share of bigotry and insular mistakes, but this wasn’t the time to dwell on such things. “The fall is lamented to this day… but as I’ve said, after the centuries of recovering and rebuilding our strength, we’d decided that enough was enough, and that it was time to take back what had been stolen from us.”

The idea that he would feature prominently into the story of the Hub, though, made Arjay pause. “So this place’s story is to be a comedy, then?” he mused, chuckling slightly.
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#12
Snorting quietly, Lukk reached for his drink. Drow. There were those few who were perhaps goodly; his mother had slated there were small pockets of drew who worshipped a Goddess called Eillistree who were not evil as most drow were, but Lukk felt it unwise to wait to find out if a drow were such a follower. Best to assume they weren't and sort it later, regardless of what mother said of it. "My honor, "he said, nodding," I suppose that is something." His tone more than his words spoke that his honor being intact was not enough. Still, Lukk nodded to Arjay, "There are so many hours in a day regardless of how many more or less we would like." It was what it was, and nothing could change that.

Speaking of his mother's home. her city, was bittersweet.. "The way she speaks of it. it was a marvel that should have lasted through time." Nothing was forever, though. "she speaks with reverence, and with love; of beauty and progress. It would be natural to grieve such a loss. And to seek the return to such magnificence."

A comedy? Lukk shrugged. "Who is to say? Perhaps it will be an adventure.”
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#13
The way that Lukk spoke of Myth Drannor (or Cormanthor, depending on when his mother had been from), his mother must have missed it terribly or have been terribly young when she’d left. People often heard the wonderful things about the old cities… but bards knew the details people liked to overlook, and Harpers, well… Harpers did their best to not forget anything, lest it happen again (although usually, it did). “It was a city that persisted thousands of years,” he said, and he couldn’t help the wistful tone that touched his voice. “There was art, architecture, magic… wonders that were in their day unmatched, possibly even unmatched still. It held the best of our people… and, of course, it also held the worst.” He peered for a moment into his glass, then decided that yes, he would go on. “By the reckoning of my time, it was over a thousand years ago that the greatest mages of the city erected a mythal over the city to protect it, then opened the city to the other races. It was supposed to allow the mixing of the best of our qualities with the best of the qualities of the other races. Humans, dwarves, gnomes, halflings… all of them came in, all of them began to contribute to the city, and for centuries it was… mostly good. Unfortunately, there was also the mix of all of our weaknesses in the city, and our arrogance, our superiority… it contributed to a large part of our downfall.”

Picking up the bottle, Arjay refilled his glass, remembering the many bitter fights he’d had over related topics during his time in the city. “In all honesty… it might be that such a blending of the races is impossible, at least under the rule of our People. I do hope to see that proven wrong, though.”
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#14
His mother missed her city greatly, but she was happy in her Garden, too. She told her children stories of where she came from, leaving out the very worst, but still making sure they knew one important lesson: "Nowhere is perfect." Lukk smiled as he spoke the words, "But some places strive for perfection harder than others." The elves of his homeland had learned to coexist, but that didn't mean arrogance and superiority didn't exist there, either. "Over a thousand years," Lukk said quietly, his head tipping to the side, "I suppose I've never really stopped to work out just how old Mother is... But that's not all that surprising." He grinned impishly, "And she can be very sentimental sometimes." The words were spoken with love, that of a man for his mother. "She would be saddened to know the city fell as it did."

Considering Arjay's words, Lukk shrugged, "Our king, crowned only a few decades ago, is a half-elf. Not every noble house is very happy about it, but he is noble blood, and of the royal line. And more importantly, his is a fair and wise man. Thus far, he has been a good king." He paused a moment before continuing, "But I'm not certain you would or could count him one of our 'people'."
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#15
“I wouldn’t take my words as an indication of her age too deeply. This is a strange place that we’re in, my friend. She could very well simply be from my past, or I her future, depending on your point of view. Sentiment, though… well, that seems to be something quite dear for our people.”

A half-elf on the throne… now there was an interesting idea. “None but an elf ever had a chance to rule Myth Drannor… or any of our other lands, for that matter. When any of them tried to put themselves forward for rule, well… the fighting was rather intense. I rather fear that was the start of our downfall… or at least, the greatest outward sign of it.” There were others, of course. The Coronal’s seat was, after all, only vacant because while the city mourned his quite natural passing, his heir had been killed. Arjay’s ancestors had had their suspicions, and looking at the histories Arjay couldn’t dispute those suspicions, but neither had he found anything decisive to prove it.

“In any case, Toril is behind me for the time being, as I’ve said, so…” He gestured around them. “I suppose, take it all in. You’ll find the place fairly full of humans, along with a scattering of every sort of creature you could imagine, plus a few you can’t. If you can use magic, you’ll find most of them rather astonished by it, too, which is fairly amusing, I’ll admit.”
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#16
Chuckling, Lukk nodded to Arjay's words, "Oh, don't worry. I know full well not to ask any lady her age. Especially my mother." His mother had put more than one overly curious nobleman in his place after asking such a question., and Lukk was in no hurry to join those ranks. Still, he was curious. "Something dear, and perhaps not very uncommon."

Indeed, a half-elf sat upon the throne in Lukk's country. And what was more, his mother (a noble as well as a spiritual leader) had advocated for him, and many of the noble houses had also done so. "Well, I cannot say that there are none who would prefer an full-blooded elf in his place, or that it was easy, but... It has happened.” Shaking his head, Lukk frowned at Arjay’s words, “He is of royal blood, and frankly, he was more suited to the role than his brothers, most of whom are quite happy with the arrangement. There’s only the one that might cause trouble…” Lukk shrugged, “But you can only expect so much of a youth, especially one so… unruly.” He was trying to be kind, even if the pause between words spoke for itself.

Magic astonished people here? Lukk blinked, “I knew a few spells,” he was a noble, and a well learned one, “But it has never been my focus. Is it so uncommon here, to be able to cast a spell, that people are so startled by it?” Magic was so common in his world… Nearly everyone in his family had access to it, if only a little and to low level magic like he had.
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#17
Would having royal blood help a half-blood ascend to the throne? Somehow, Arjay doubted it would in Toril. The Queen had a granddaughter who was half human, and she was not permitted on Evermeet (which Arjay only really knew through the Harpers, not from any noble tie he had on the fair isle), so whatever his people might be able to claim to open-mindedness, they were still sure they knew better than anyone else.

“You’ll find that on most worlds that come here, magic is… uncommon, at best. On some, it’s a mere superstition. The fact that they have the concept of it makes me think that it was present at one time, but died away or was used up. You’ll see this all well enough when you go making your own explorations, but most worlds make do with technology, like the gnomes try to do, only theirs is more reliable and less explosive than that of the gnomes.” He thought back to his little call to Steve’s home, to see to the injuries of his friend and the difficulties he’d come by. “You’ll also find that they’re very… defensive of their little creations, and how they must be better than magic, even though I’ve rarely found that to be the case. No matter how much they like their toys, I’ve still had them seeking me out when they need to be healed or need to be sent back to their home worlds and their science fails them.”
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#18
Perhaps in Toril things might be one way, but Lukk knew that royal blood had been necessary in his homeland. Without it, anyone trying to take the throne would be faced with a long, bloody war. Of course, his world had no elven island, either. Apples and oranges, or something similar.

Magic being uncommon earned a frown from the elf, "A superstition? They have no mages or priests? Nothing?" How did any world thrive without such a connection? His expression spoke of concern, perhaps pity, for such worlds and the people who lived there; no one he knew would be truly happy in a place devoid of magic. Not even himself. Nodding, Lukk turned thoughtful, "I suppose that makes sense. With no real magic, they would have to become completely dependent on science and technology... Which in turn may cause the kind of fanatical devotion to those that you describe."

"I'm quite grateful that I did not have the great misfortune of being from such a world."
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