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Thread Contributor: Arjay Lo'RanWhere angels fear to tread
Dungeons and Dragons-Forgotten Realms

349 Posts
23 Threads
Job: Bard
Ship Status: Single
Sexual Orientation: Straight

All Accounts Posts: 1,094
Points: 6,118.44€
(note: there will be more installments showing Arjay's little activities here. Until they're all done, he hasn't even left the Hub. Time is moving faster in his Toril than in the Hub these days)

In the little Drow outpost, those who entered against their will always regretted doing so alive. Such had been the way of things since the camp had been founded, such had been maintained in the centuries since this lookout posting had continued. There were few creature comforts afforded to the Drow posted here, and few diversions from the dangerous intrigues that came part and parcel with being Drow. The only thing that they could really unite together on was the capture of surface races. The warriors who captured them gained favor for the successful capture, the wizards got to study any of the new toys that were stripped from their captives, and the priestesses? Well, the priestesses had their attention diverted from the men of the camp for a few days per captive, and that benefited everyone equally.

The captive party was in a sorry state, and Kelthyr Imrael knew that those of his party who’d succumbed to the torture they’d been put through were the lucky ones. What, exactly, did it mean to be sacrificed to Lolth? The priestesses who tortured them claimed that it gave Lolth their soul for all eternity, but that couldn’t be true, could it? Could a simple act of murder on an altar really steal his soul from its rightful place in Arvandor? His faith told him that it wasn’t so, but he couldn’t shake that fear, that horror that he might be forever separated, even in death, from his family, from his gods, from all of the elves that had come before him. He wanted to get out of here. He needed to get out of here, and he needed to get his friends away as well, those who still lived, at least. There was no escape, though, was there. They were all tied to this altar, and the familiar faces of the high-ranking Drow surrounded them, leering at them. All that they needed was the arrival of the ranking priestess, and the sacrifice would begin.

None of this, though, kept him from noticing the strange Drow in the gold domino mask.

This one… hadn’t been at any of the other sessions of torture, hadn’t been in the party that caught them, didn’t really seem to have any place among them that he’d been able to discern. Here he was, though, always standing out of the corner of Kelthyr’s eye, though the other Drow didn’t seem to be paying him any mind. They were tightening his bonds, stripping away his clothes, preparing for this ritual with a terrifying mechanical speed that told him that they were very, very accustomed to these types of ceremonies. He felt that terror setting in until the moment when the gold-masked Drow fully entered his field of vision, the purple eyes behind the mask bearing down upon Kelthyr’s senses, piercing through is fear in an instant.

Kelthyr Imrael. Your lover’s prayers, cried to the heavens at the report of your capture, have been heard. If you wish to live for their sake, if you even wish to be spared the pain of torture, call to me. Something in that violet gaze turned furious, though Kelthyr couldn’t find it in himself to be afraid. I do not ask for your worship, I do not ask for your devotion, but I will ask for your prayer, once and only once. I am Starwind, consort of the goddess of Love, god of heartbreak and comfort. I will deliver you and yours to your loved ones and pay Lolth in the blood of her faithful for those of yours that have already died. If you would live, if you would have those who have fought and bled with you live, if you would see the prayers of those you love answered… call to me, and I will answer.
* * *
He had been in the Underdark countless times, sometimes as conqueror, sometimes as a prisoner, but never as a force of divine retribution. As he watched the captives elves trussed up like animals to be slaughtered, he found his blood surging, his pulse pounding against his temple, that sense of righteous justice he had always been powerless to grant making his fingers twitch toward his swords. He knew exactly how this was going to play out, of course, and he was somewhat sorry for making the elves go through the entire song and dance of this little farce he was going to make of the ceremony, but in this instance, it wouldn’t simply do to grant a miracle in answer to the prayers that brought him here and whisk them away. No, he needed to make an example of this situation in order to draw out the forces behind them. In order to do that… well, he needed those being sacrificed, and they were playing their part beautifully.

On the altar, the priestess was raising the eight-bladed dagger over the heart of the first elf. As her zealous cries echoed through the tunnels, the three elves on the altar cried out the first coherent words they’d spoken in days. Just one word, all but gibberish to the Drow, who could only look on in mild, irritated confusion, but Starwind, the god of heartbreak and comfort, responded to the cry of his name in this instance with immediate, blinding speed, and the strike of steel through the breast of the head priestess.

A complete, shocked silence fell over the temple as the lithe, beautiful elf in the gold mask drew the sword sharply out of her back, sending the late priestess’s body sprawling on the ground in front of the altar. “Breakers of hope!” he thundered, standing before them with his bloodstained sword bared, limned in a brilliant violet fire that lit the temple, “Shatterers of families, of lives, of love! For the pains against their families, your priestess lies dead! For those pains that took the lives of their companions?” He swept his hand aside, his gold lined cloak flaring behind him as he drew his other sword, spots of light flaring into being around the altar where three Eladrin warriors, those celestial fey who called Brightwater home, appeared at his mental summons. “For those pains, you will all suffer in kind.”

The Eladrin drew their blades of golden steel, driving back any Drow who attempted to approach the altar. The real danger, though, lay with their master, that fledgeling god who was unleashing his wrath in the name of those who prayed to him against an evil that he had hated long before he’d been elevated from the ranks of the purely mortal. He lashed out with his blades against all of those who approached them, and struck down monster and Drow alike, but even more terrifying to the Drow was the magic that suddenly assaulted them. Confident in their resistance to magic, the Drow had rarely been assaulted by spells so potent that they had no hope of resisting them, and no ability to overcome them. One priestess suddenly fell back, a spear of doubt lodged so firmly into her psyche that she couldn’t bring herself to attack this apparition of vengeance. A highly decorated soldier fell to his knees, eyes wide and glowing purple, gasping out a list of all of his transgressions, beginning with the most grievous and continuing down, until the heartfire-lit sword separated his head from his neck while he was describing how he’d dissected a living faerie while it hung pinned and squirming to an interrogation table.

The slaughter could only be described as that: slaughter. Some fell to his blades, some fell to the spells that he cast, some simply fell trampled beneath the maddened boots of their foes. The eladrin, now unopposed, had untied the elves held captive on the altar, and as one they disappeared with them, spiriting them away back to the surface while their master continued wreaking havoc upon the crude temple that served as the center of this settlement. As the rank and file soldiers fell victim to a magical chaos, striking out indiscriminately against each other, Arjay decided to offer that final, cutting insult to Lolth. The priestess who had been struck by his magical guilt still stood back, shaken by the spell, obviously unsure of what to do, what was proper. For the poor girl, up was down, down was up, and right was wrong, and given her apparent youth, she may still be in the process of being indoctrinated to the evil of the Drow. This would end one of two ways, and he didn’t know which would enrage the Spider Queen more.

Arjay grabbed her by the silken tunic she wore and hauled her bodily toward the altar, doing nothing to guard her from the full glory of his divine nature. It was nothing that would not be overshadowed by a greater god than he, which at this point was nearly all of them, but it was still, to a mortal, a breathtaking experience. “You have one chance, Maya du Chezzek,” he said, his voice low, his breath even despite the raging battle he’d fought. His voice was like silk against her ear, the voice of a man that you naturally wanted to listen to, who you wanted to agree with you, who had the ability to make you believe anything, to believe in anything. She shuddered in his grasp, but did nothing to struggle away from him, though her body trembled in fear against the altar. “You have helped break lives, break hearts, destroy beauty, create abominations. You have aided a great evil, but you have one chance to renounce it. Renounce it now, of your own will, and I will take you as my own, show you a new way. It will be a harder way, but it will be a good way, a way that will take you out of the darkness and into the light.”

The magic he wove now could, he knew, only take hold if it was truly her will. The enchantment upon her might have given her reason to doubt, but the decision was her own. It was, he knew, the most complicated, difficult decision of her life, and one that he hoped she would make. If she didn’t… well, his sword was ready. “Call to me, Maya. Call to me, or call to your Spider Queen, but call to one of us right now. Be born into the light, or fall into the darkness. Lolth will reward your devotion, I’m sure.” He couldn’t, after all, lie to her. To call her based on a lie would make a lie of anything she did, and he wanted to bring her away from lies.

The priestess’s red eyes were wide, fixed upon his, and she tried to form words, but couldn’t. It was all too much, the moment was too much, the decision was too much. Overwhelmed, she did the only thing she could to articulate the choice she made. There, pressed against the altar of Lolth, she embraced the fledgling god, and accepted the kiss that he pressed upon her lips, his magic burning through her. She cried out into his lips as the Heartfire burned through her being, lighting her heart up with each sin she was asking atonement for, but the effect, in the end, was nothing short of beautiful. To Arjay, whose power washed over her, it was like her soul had been a gem caked in mud and suddenly dipped into a rushing river to reveal the beauty beneath. She fell to her knees at his feet, tears streaming from her eyes, but incredulous laughter coming from her lips as she felt the lightness of her soul after the Atonement spell had finished redeeming her, the accumulated guilt of her life’s actions that she no longer even noticed suddenly just gone.

Somewhere above the temple, below the temple, within the temple, there was a shriek of inhuman fury.

Arjay leaned down, cupping the cheek of his new priestess, drawing her gaze up to him. “It is best for you to be elsewhere, little one. We will talk more soon.” Then, with an effort of his will, she was gone, and his attention was free to settle upon the yochlol that were rising up from the floor of the temple. The masked elf laughed as he flicked the blood from his swords, leaping up atop the altar. “I see I have your attention!” he called out. “My blades are Aria and Requiem! My song is a song of beauty and sadness, of joy and wrath, and you will know the pain of the losses you’ve dealt, Lolth! I am Arjay Lo’Ran, uplifted as the god Starwind, and you are the first that my faithful beg me strike out against!” Then, with a mocking laugh, he dove from his perch, striking out with the holy swords against the demons who rushed to swarm him.
Dungeons and Dragons-Forgotten Realms

349 Posts
23 Threads
Job: Bard
Ship Status: Single
Sexual Orientation: Straight

All Accounts Posts: 1,094
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Something was going down tonight, and every single drow in the brothel knew it.

Seated at the bar were two impeccably coiffed men, glaring at each other from opposite ends, two men who had most certainly not come in through the door, and who most certainly were not paying any heed to the rabble around them.

“I suppose you have some… aim in mind, coming here?” The one in the red velvet waistcoat mused as he peered down the bar at the gold-masked man. He reclined against the bar, tavern girls draping their arms over his shoulders, toying with his artfully bared chest, smirking knowingly at the unattended man. “It truly won’t end well, you know. After that dreadful little display you made in the lady’s temple? Why, I’m shocked that the Yath aren’t here already.”

“I’m sure that they’ll find any excuse that comes to mind to not actually come across me while not shirking their duties,” Arjay answered with a bored expression, twirling his now-empty wine glass in the direction of the serving girl behind the bar. He shot her a smile that was full of promise that he had no intention of following through on and fancied himself that he saw a blush even through that jet-black skin. “Besides,” he reasoned, “Are you saying that this little tavern isn’t a blind spot to the queen’s eye?” He shot Keptolo a sly smile as many of the crowd began trading uneasy murmurs. The masked elf held up a reassuring hand to them which turned into a quick gesture at one uppity rogue who began skulking to get behind him. “Why not sit down. We’re just having a friendly glass of wine and a chat, yes?” he said, letting the magic roll over the Drow, sending him back to his seat just as had been Suggested.

“Well played,” the god of drow hedonists mused, reaching up to caress one of the ladies draped over his shoulder as he considered Arjay. “You know, we aren’t that different, are we? Two stunningly handsome, capable, cunning men, both dependent on more powerful women for their station and making the best of it. This could be an entertaining diversion, couldn’t it?”

Arjay smiled thinly as he took another drink of the wine. It was poisoned, of course, but he suspected that was just for show. No one would expect a being of their power to be susceptible to poison. In a strange way, it was a mark of respect. “I suppose that you might have some ideas about how we could bring down Vhaeraun and put him in his place? I’ll admit, that idea’s crossed my mind a time or ten. His followers don’t particularly hold a loving place in my heart.”

“See? Two like-minded men, working toward similar aims, accomplishing what they couldn’t alone and reaping the benefits of their station when the day is done,” he said, making an idle gesture toward the upstairs where the ladies were, even now, waiting in their rooms. “Tell me that the idea hadn’t occurred to you, my good, dear Darthiir.” The drow god’s lips curled up wickedly at the murmuring that little revelation inspired among the common folk around them. Arjay’s Drow was impeccable, of course, even his accent was good, and one of the first abilities he’d learned with the power he’d gained from Sune was how to alter his form, but yes, Keptolo knew who he was, and had no qualms about outing him as an outside deity to those around them.

Frankly, Arjay was surprised it had taken him this long. “Oh, it occurred to me,” Arjay confirmed. “Of course, it also occurred to me that unlike me, the moment we were apart you’d go crawling back to your mistress like a good boot-licker and let her in on your delightful plan to use me and then kill me.” He gave the other god a condescending smile as he set his wine glass down. “And these are the lessons you’d teach those who pray to you, how to be a good little self-serving toady. Don’t you think that maybe they’re a bit tired of the paranoia and ready to see what might happen if they could actually trust someone to work with them and not stab them in the back? At least Vhaeraun has enough spine to stand on his own. We’re too alike to compliment each other and too different to allow that insult to continue.”

The tension in the air was becoming a tangible presence, the two demigods glaring openly at each other now. They appeared to be completely relaxed in their seats all the while… right up until they were streaking across the room at each other, blades drawn and slashing wildly at each other.

The first pass gained neither of them anything. Arjay’s swords rang out loudly as they parried the sword and dagger that Keptolo struck at him with, and his own blows likewise found nothing but air as the Drow god spun away into the shadows. A swirl of glowing orbs spun out from Arjay’s hand, lighting the room painfully to the Drow around him and giving him just enough of a glimpse of his opponent to spin around, catching the sword across one of his, but not being able to move fast enough to prevent the dagger from sinking into his side.

The Drow around them were cheering at the entertainment, and Arjay had to admit that the two of them probably made quite a sight here. In a way, it really was too bad that Keptolo was a spineless, slimy bastard. Perhaps if he’d had a better start… but probably not, and Arjay had other problems to worry about… like the potent venom that had been on that dagger, something that even ate away at a divine essence like his.

Bolts of magic streaked across the intervening space between them, but mostly dissipated uselessly against the other god’s Drow-born magic resistance. He laughed as he strode forward, right into the spectral sword that Arjay conjured from radiant power which began attacking him on its own as Arjay straightened, favoring his injured side.

Violet flames erupted around Keptolo, highlighting his body and heart to Arjay’s eyes, preventing him from slipping away again into the shadows as the God of Heartbreak lunged in, driving his sword into Keptolo’s thigh as he twisted past him. The Drow god snarled in pain, both from the bite of the sword and the burn of the Heartfire that Arjay had erupted within him. A mortal, he knew, could be burned alive by this if he wished him to be, but a god? No, this would help the battle but wouldn’t win it. Arjay knew that much.

Keptolo hurled his dagger at Arjay who only just managed to slap it out of the air with the flat of his blade, but that second it took him gave Keptolo all the time he needed to rush in past the spiritual sword, burying his own sword in Arjay’s unguarded belly. For a moment, the two gods stared at each other over the blade, one sneering wickedly, the other wide-eyed and surprised. Then, unexpectedly, Arjay’s lips twitched up. “All right, then… you want to dance this close?” He wrenched himself away painfully from the sword, calling up his magic as he did, two spells in quick succession. “I don’t think you know the steps! Allow me to lead!”

Several things happened all at once. Arjay lashed out with his blade as he cast a spell, creating an clap of thunder that deafened the Drow within the tavern and sent Keptolo soaring back into the wall, cracking the heavy stone with the force of the impact as easily as it splintered the bar that lay at the center of the spell’s effect. Before the other god could react, Arjay let out the two spells he’d readied, vanishing from sight and calling up a swirling storm of lightning and wind that raged right where the other god had fallen, buffeting him against the ground with bone-shattering force and shocking him with lightning every time he tried to stand. The mortal Drow were now huddling near the door, watching carefully as the spell buffeted the god of the festhall, waiting to see if he would rise… then giving an audible start when the usurping god dropped down from above, slamming both of his swords through Keptolo’s chest as the spell dissipated into nothing.

For a terrible moment, there was simple silence. Arjay held the other god down as the life drained out of him, watching him die, waiting for the moment to pass. Then, pulling his swords out, he looked at the violet glow that surrounded their tips, studying it carefully before plucking it out into his hand. He held the divine essence, pondering this turn of events for a moment, and thinking about what they’d said before that fight broke out. The two gods really were disturbingly similar in some ways… but now one of them was dead, and the other held his power in his hands, a testament to their differences. Arjay would gain much from this, but what would change, he wondered?

He plunged his hand into that essence, coming out with a wriggling mass of black ooze that writhed nauseatingly in his hand, drawing revolted murmurs from even the Drow still looking on. He crushed it in his hand in a flare of white light that drew even more pained exclamations from the dark elves, then let the ashes of that dark power fall from his hands, dissipating into nothing. What remained now glowed a chaotic gold that flowed into his hand, sinking into his body, opening up new powers, new connections, new possibilities to him. In a flash of insight he gained from this new power, he peered down at the angry, reddening wound in his side and waved his hand over it, neutralizing the poison for now at least. He’d have to find some way to treat it, but for now it would be dormant enough.

“Why are you all just standing there?” he asked, calling to the Drow by the door over the ringing in their ears. With one simple spell, the bar repaired itself, and Arjay draped himself over the chair that had been vacated by its former god. “To the victor go the spoils, and someone is going to get their patron a drink now.”
Dungeons and Dragons-Forgotten Realms

349 Posts
23 Threads
Job: Bard
Ship Status: Single
Sexual Orientation: Straight

All Accounts Posts: 1,094
Points: 6,118.44€
The days were growing long, but Arjay couldn’t complain of that. His time in the Underdark had been productive, even if it was lasting much longer than he had intended. He’d managed to gain the following of a few clerics (doubling the number of his clergy, as sad as that was when he looked at the other faiths), which was no small feat in and of itself. His power had grown with the death of Keptolo, and every night he was feeling out the Drow who now fell under his purview, searching their dreams for those whose hearts held the possibility of a righteous passion, sowing thoughts carefully among the many intrigues of the Underdark. The faithful of Keptolo knew something was wrong, and he had already made his displeasure with the priests he’d inherited known, disempowering all but one of them. Most of them would fall to Vhaeraun, he knew, but some would manage to grasp the path that wasn’t evil. That was all a fledgeling power like him could ask for.

Still, for all his gains, this hadn’t been perfect. For one thing, he was doing his all to stay under the radar as much as possible when he wasn’t ready to make a stand. This was the seat of Lolth’s power, and while he had managed her handmaidens easily enough, she wouldn’t send such lowly servants next time. Teleporting was out of the question, because he wouldn’t put it past the Spider Queen to have some sort of magical trap to pluck the unwary from their intended destination, and her power dwarfed his. That meant that his only means of escape was to make his way, the slow way, to the surface and safety, an effort that wasn’t particularly helped by the still-open wound in his side.

He was, of course, managing to slow the infernal venom into uselessness. It wasn’t actively eating away at him, it wasn’t killing him, but it was keeping his wound from closing. Every step, by now, was agony, and he knew that there were miles he’d have to run before he made his way to the surface. The more time he spent resting, the greater the chance that he’d be noticed by any of the many spies that Lolth probably had looking for him. They could be anywhere. He could turn any corner and find himself…

…In a disturbingly empty street. Just like the one he’d just walked into.

The scuttling he heard above him sent him diving to the side, crying out in pain with every single movement of his body. His swords were drawn, his magic was ready, and he was still completely unprepared for the sword and mace wielding spider with the drow face that slammed down next to him. He parried one sword thrust, one sweep of the mace, then took a jagged, pointed spider leg through the shoulder. Crying out in pain, Arjay stabbed forward, his sword piercing the shell of the great spider in return before both of them pulled backward off of their respective impalements.

Selvetarm. The spider that waits, the champion of Lolth. Yes, she’d definitely not sent a lowly servant this time, had she? Arjay cast a spell of regeneration on himself, knowing that this wasn’t going to be a quick fight, and suspecting that wouldn’t be the last blow that was landed upon him. Seconds later, he found himself proven right as the great spider crashed down from above directly behind him, slamming the heavy mace down at him. Pain flared in Arjay’s arm as bone crunched under the heavy mace. One more spell was cast as he parried the next sword thrust, and the elf glided into the air, darting out of reach of the spider’s weapons.

The leering spider sneered up at him, batting at him lazily with his weapons as Arjay danced in the air out of reach, trying to give his arm time to heal. Selvetarm was a deadly foe, a fearsome warrior, and Arjay suspected he might finally be well and truly out of his depth here. On the other hand… he’d bested stronger warriors than himself before, and he would do it again. There was nothing for it but to try.

A surge of healing pulsed through the elf as he dropped back down, soothing all of his hurts except for that venomed wound in his side. He and the spider clashed weapons, but he wasn’t going to just leave it to his prowess with a blade. A quick gesture with his off hand as he thrust created a peal of thunder, driving the drow-headed spider back. Arjay pressed this advantage, attacking the joints of the spider’s closest leg, drawing out an enraged snarl and a wild swing of the mace that the elf easily dodged back from. They clashed again, this time the sword biting into Arjay’s thigh as Arjay slammed the points of his swords into a seam in the spider’s carapace, both of them crying out in pain and fury as they separated to clash yet again.

The elf cast yet one more spell, and had just enough time and warning to dive to the side as a Blade Barrier sprung up around the spider. He found himself beating a hasty retreat as Seveltarm scurried after him, the mace slamming down onto the stones of the street in a fury as he pursued his prey. The battle fury was taking Lolth’s champion, making him even more dangerous, and Arjay knew that in moments, he’d run out of street and be crushed beneath the mace as it and the blade barrier spread him across the cavern walls. Gritting his teeth, Arjay struck at the source of that strength, casting out his power in a calming wave that left the charging spider suddenly at peace, blinking in confusion as he snapped back from the battle fury. Arjay rushed forward in that second of confusion, accepting a painful slice of the blade barrier against his back as he pressed his hand to Seveltarm’s carapace, finishing the spell he’d begun chanting the moment he’d begun moving. The air seemed to ripple as the Spider that Waits tried to resist the spell, but in his confused state found himself unequal to the task of maintaining his hold on this dimension, vanishing through the fabric of space with a scream of ever-increasing rage.

“Enjoy the Hells, you great lumbering idiot,” Arjay panted as he sheathed his swords, trying to focus on healing himself, knowing that he had to get out of this city soon. If he didn’t, he was going to gain even more attention from-

“Well, now, my priestesses… look what we have here. He doesn’t look all that impressive up close, now, does he?” -From Lolth. Maybe it was just his throbbing wounds speaking, but Arjay was beginning to think that this excursion might have been a bad idea after all.

He leaned against the wall he was standing next to, his eyes raising up, sliding over a sensual female form, clad only in gauzy spider webs that did nothing to stop him from the natural ideas that came to his mind… at least until he noticed that the webs weren’t exactly unoccupied. Finally, after some brief southern detours, his eyes met hers. He had to admit that Lolth was lovely. The vain, cruel god wouldn’t appear in any other way, he suspected. Her body was almost flawless, and had he not been accustomed to the sight of the goddess of beauty, who was perfect in every way, he might have been impressed. As it stood, all he could notice were her eyes, devoid of any hint of compassion, warmth, anything redeeming at all, anything that he might have sought out in a woman. They held each other’s gaze for a moment, the cruel, malicious gaze of Lolth and the wary, cunning gaze of Arjay, before he finally decided that someone was going to have to speak.

“Somehow I thought you’d be taller.”

The snake-whip bit into his back, wielded by a priestess behind him, and in that brief moment he understood these were Lolth’s chosen, invested with a measure of her power, else they’d not be able to harm him like this. That… definitely complicated matters. He began to count how many there were from the sudden rain of snake-whips on him, and he managed to get to three before the pain overwhelmed him.

Panting and blinded by agony, Arjay slowly pushed himself up off the stone street, trying to remember how he’d gotten there. “Silly little minstrel. I remember your screams that my daughters dedicated to me when they held you captive on my altar. They were as sweet as any song that your silly mistress might enjoy from your lips.” A heeled boot slammed down on his shoulder, and Arjay almost believed that it had pierced straight through his body to the ground. “We’ll get to hear those sounds again, won’t we, my children?” A hand grabbed Arjay’s hair, yanking his head up to meet her eyes, just inches from his own. “Oh, we’re going to have such an amusing time, little minstrel. After all… I’ve suddenly found myself without anyone to attend my needs.” She kissed him roughly, and his head spun… not from the experience, but from the pain of his arched back and the numbing venom that lingered on her skin. Spiders began crawling up his hands, sinking magic fangs into his flesh, raising burning welts on his skin with each step they took.

This was a fight he couldn’t win. This was a fight he might not even be able to survive, so he began looking at what he could do something about. Her priestesses… well, Lolth would be a difficult fight, but were it not for her? He could take her priestesses, he knew that. And, with the power he’d gained after absorbing Keptolo’s essence, he now had a new set of abilities to draw from, didn’t he? He reached for the most powerful of these abilities and found it, unleashing it upon the world… and time around him simply halted.

He didn’t waste time, he just began casting his spells, as many as he could manage before the spell expired. He managed three before he found the spell slipping away, and he braced himself for the chaos that would ensue. Immediately, a sudden raging storm spread over the city, pelting down burning acid and lightning upon the priestesses. Oh, he and Lolth might not be harmed by the elements, but her followers? They had no such luck. Compounding that, the Holy Word he’d uttered rang out into effect, deafening them, blinding at least one of them. As the third spell poured healing through him, he threw himself to the side, rolling painfully to his feet. He drew his blade just as Lolth began making sense of this turn of events, stabbed her once in the breast, the sword flaring with Heartfire as it sank into her flesh, then he was past her, hobbling away as quickly as he was able. She cried out in fury and pain as the Heartfire of his blade began to course into her, burrowing deeper into her being, but he knew better than to stay and see just how deeply that power could get. He’d come face to face against the one being he hadn’t wanted to even glimpse in person, and discretion was the better part of survival at the moment. Teleporting had been, he knew, a risk he hadn’t been willing to take, but now remaining here was an even more obvious risk. With a final little bow to the women stuck within the raging storm, he vanished into nothingness as hail began pelting down from the conjured clouds above them.
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A long day had passed, and the God of Heartbreak found himself in a small, but comfortable camp, populated by a small band of outcasts who worshiped Eilistraee, the only good goddess that the Drow had previously had to turn to and one of his new allies. The elves in the camp were respectful of him, a bit over-awed, to tell the truth, but distant. It was not every day that you shared your camp with a god, even a young one, and they didn’t know what to make of this man who had saved them from the patrols that had pursued them through the tunnels.

This suited him fine, because Arjay found his mind quite distant from them, distant from these caverns, distant from this world he was slowly making his way through. Reaching into his pack, he withdrew a quill and a bottle of black ink mixed with the dust of powdered rubies, so that it shimmered red when held up to the light. A small lap desk was conjured, and the elf put quill to parchment, unstoppering the feelings that had been brimming so close to the surface for him these past days.

My Goddess, my liege, my love,
Queen of my heart, spirit of my most fevered desires,

It’s been two weeks since I departed to see to my duties on Toril. I wish that I could say that I curse these duties and the time they take me away from you, but we both know that they lie too close to my heart, else I would not be worthy to serve you as such. All I can curse is the weakness that makes me unable to forego this duty, the fears that cause me to proceed so carefully back to you that none might follow me, though I know you will call me a fool for cursing what you love so well about me. I cannot help it, if there is anything within me that causes me to keep myself from you, in this moment I can see it as nothing but a fault.

It has not been precisely a wasted trip, of course. Subverting that fop Keptolo was a necessary thing, even if I wasn’t looking to try to make myself more worthy of you. I’ll not lie, it was exhilarating. Confronting someone who was everything I could have been if I were the moral antithesis of myself, doing battle with him and laying him low in the name of love and all that is good, I felt more righteous than in any battle I’ve ever known in my life. Laughing in the face of those who would corrupt and betray, only to redeem the souls they’ve enslaved is perhaps the most glorious tribute of my service that I could make to you.

Nevertheless, it was not until I walked into this realm that I knew what it was to be in a place devoid of love, devoid of joy, so far separated from you. I feel like a flame that’s flickering in these depths, choked by its own smoke, praying for the slightest breeze to feed it. Never, in my existence, have I come across so many that don’t even comprehend the concept of love, who are frightened by the prospect of tenderness. Some are receptive, of course, but it is slow kindling to a weak fire. I warmed myself with righteousness at first, but now, I simply feel cold, alone. Five nights ago, I called up an illusion of you and our precious daughter, and I could do naught but stare at it for an entire day, weeping for the sheer emptiness I feel right now.

It is a humbling thought. There were many times in my life that I’ve believed I’ve been hungry for love. I’ll not recount all of those heartbreaks, which were nothing but the end of the periods of joy that you chose to place before me here and there as I grew and prepared to become the man I am now. I despaired for it at times, but now, here in the darkest pits of the world, I realize that I’ve never known the absence of love. In all of my life, in all of my darkest times, there has always been you, there was always your presence just next to me, watching me, perhaps testing me but always there. Perhaps I’ve known before, on some level, but now I feel it, the way that you only ever can feel love once it’s no longer beside you.

Even more humbling is the realization that for centuries, you watched over me, loved me, and yet I was an unworthy wretch who dared to doubt that I would know love. I doubted what stood right beside me, all around me, within me, I doubted [u]you[/u]. I now know what true shame feels like, because none of my failures in life compare to this fact, that for years, decades, [u]centuries[/u] I wronged you, denied you. I take my current loneliness as a just penance for this, as I will any time that I’m forced to be away from you by the duties I take on.

It has been two weeks that I have been here in Toril, and I am forced to wonder how long it has been for you since my departure. Half of my heart shamefully hopes that it has been long enough that you might miss me a little. The rest prays that you’re not left with enough time to feel any loss for my absence, and that I might not miss so much of Mel’inde’s precious time. Every night is another weight upon my heart, but the knowledge that you wait for me at the end of this journey, that I might see your smile, hear your voice, smile over our daughter, gives me the strength to take one more step, then another.

I will not keep you waiting much longer, my love, this I promise.

With all of my love and being,


He looked over the letter in the pale light of the fire, watching the red shimmer of the ink as it dried, then paused as he made to roll it up. Reaching into his pack, he withdrew a slender ivory rod, no larger than his finger, delicately carved into a thornless rose and enchanted to be, among other things, unbreakable. He gave it a little shake and watched as it glowed, green in the stem and gold in the flower, giving off a faint bell-like ringing sound as glowing ‘petals’ of light shook off of it. Smiling faintly, he dipped his quill once more into the ink and added a postscript.

(The wand is for Mel’inde. I promise you that it’s harmless, and while she might still be too small to be amused by it, making it was one small way that I could feel close to the both of you while I persist in this dark place)

Rolling the tiny wand up in the parchment, he placed his seal upon it, then caused all of it to disappear up in a flare of Heartfire, sending it straight off to his Lady. Standing, wincing and running a hand over his injured side, he re-packed his belongings and made his way out of the camp, continuing his long trek toward the surface world once more.


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Sune had been angry at her beloved one. Choosing the quest for power over the needs of his daughter and Goddess. The first few days she had tolerated it, sent him a kiss each time he prayed to her- but the fury of a woman scorned was nothing to be taken lightly, and when Mel'Inde was continuing to grow so quickly- well Sune was a mother scorned as well. Even the- more and more intermingled- essence of Hanali Celanil is so pissed off that he was ignoring her that she wasn't even interested in magical sexting that she sometimes played with.

Of course, for Mel'Inde, it hadn't been nearly so long since she had last seen Arjay- being too young to affect any form of omnipresence. For the best. Sune may have rained fire on Arjay if he had upset their daughter like that.

It was the letter and present that melted her heart from it's stance on her anger. It was such a sweet and thoughtful thing- and that he was so aware of his distance from her... It pulled at her heart, and she felt bad for ignoring his prayers- not that she had been able to reply, but that she didn't accept his words. He had been out of reach for so long- even now it took a lot of effort to locate his heart where it beat in the underdark. But he had progressed towards the surface, and the Drow Goddess of the moon was a sometimes friend, enough so that with her aid, Sune found the heat of her beloved's heart.

She took a deep breath, closed her eyes- and then opened them somewhere else. She didn't have long, not here in this place, so far from the heart of her power- In truth she did not have even enough strength to manifest properly. It was why, standing here as she hurried across the camp- that she held someone else's muscles in motion. This young woman would receive a quick blessing for the borrowing of her form, but it was all Sune could do to keep her mind in place.

She laid her hand on his shoulder, taking in a deep shuddering breath to force more of herself through, the white hair of this young woman turned a permanent and brilliant copper- Something Sune knew the mind she held would not disapprove of. Not with the Run instructing them to make their hair shine- now it would do so in perpetuum, save that it would no longer be white beneath the light. The other dark hand reached out to turn his cheek towards her.

She pulled even harder on her power, enough to make her hair fully red for just a brief moment as she leaned forward and presses her lips to his. That was all she could manage, a breath later, the hair faded to copper, and the young woman woke up across the camp, once again as nervous as she was around this strange Godling. It wasn't much, but the woman was healthier than she was before and she would notice that, and her newly coloured locks as she quickly walked back away through the group.

Sune sucked in a deep breath, her eyes fluttering as she fell into her bed, her followers swarming around her and laying a cool cloth on her forehead and bringing Mel'Inde to her side.


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