Description and History
Morwen’cartel is an ephemeral beauty, even
for an already gorgeous race. Her face is perfectly oval and her
eyes are twin pools of blue radiance. Her lips are perfectly
formed and her cheekbones are soft, yet angular. Her delicate
white eyebrows are in stark contrast to the deep ebony of her skin
and her eyelashes are like a sprinkling of snow adorning her lids.
Her hair is long and smooth, as spun silk. She keeps it braided
and pulled into a coil at the base of her neck. When loose, it
falls about her like a soft shimmering cloak of purest white. Her
long neckline flows into a shapely torso. She is well-proportioned
with ample breasts and smooth rounded buttocks. Her legs are long
and slender, with well-cut muscles and her arms show similar
musculature. Her movement is graceful and elegant and her voice is
soft and smooth as velvet.
Her beauty is unmarred, but it hides a will
of steel. Morwen has learned what true beauty and love are through
a century and a half of suffering and hatred. She is outcast from
her people because she chooses to be, and they would kill her on
sight if she returned. She bears them no animosity, but her anger
for Auraushnee, or Lolth, knows no bounds. She accepts the fact
that surface dwellers fear and hate her because of the color of
her skin. She strives to show them she is different through her
actions as words often fall on deaf ears.
Morwen loves to dance and sing under the full
moon and never misses a sunrise. She takes joy in the smallest
things, a drop of dew or a simple smile. She surrounds herself
with beauty, not only beauty of the eye, but also beauty of the
Morwen wears beautiful clothing, though not
elaborate. Her prized possession is her elven chain, but she keeps
it hidden beneath her clothing. Most elves frown on the gift and
consider her a thief when they initially discover her possession
of such a treasured elven artifact. When traveling, she typically
wears either a simple soft gown over her armor or a red silk
jacket, soft shirt, black pantaloons and black boots with silken
hose, also over her armor.
She carries a delicately carved rosewood
staff. It depicts simple real life scenes of times of joy and
happiness. There is a carved whistle in the head of the staff and
when the wind blows through it soft haunting melodies play; in
battle this can be quite disturbing. Her holy symbol is a
miniature rose crafted of rare black gold with a ruby tinted
center. She wears a simple gold band etched with stylized hearts
on the ring finger of her right hand.
Morwen began life in House Da’Na’Draiken in
the depths of the Underdark and the city of Menzoberranzan. She
was the eighth daughter and a true disappointment to her
Morwen was much left to her own devices when
not being ordered around by one of her older sisters. She watched
and learned much through her formative years and worse … she
questioned. Why did the males have to defer to the females? Why
did they have to hate the surface world and the burning fire in
the sky? Why were faeries her enemy? Why would a goddess be so
cruel to her children and demand blood penance?
She made the mistake of asking her mother
some of her questions one day - the day her soul died. Her mother
beat her half to death with her snake-headed whip, and still there
were no answers for the young drowling, only more questions.
Morwen looked into her mother’s eyes with her own tear filled orbs
and found the answer, there was only hatred in the heart of her
family. She never questioned again and suffered in agonizing
Morwen watched the steady plod of slaves
through her family’s estate. The whippings and beatings were
endless. So were the demands of her sisters and even her brothers.
The females were petty and openly cruel, the males less so but
even worse because they were subtle in their vengeance.
Then Morwen met her first surface elf. He was
captured in a surface raid and taken for sacrifice. Morwen was
given “night” duty of guarding the prisoner. She was timid at
first, having never seen one of the hated faeries. She would stand
outside his cell and just look at him for hours. She memorized
every fold of skin and lock of hair. There was nothing different
about this creature and he probably deserved his fate, or so she
thought until she met his eyes. His beautiful deep green depths
spoke of alien, unfamiliar places and enticing emotions. He caught
her staring and smiled. Unbidden, a rush of joy came to her and
she smiled back but caught herself almost immediately.
The elf’s day of sacrifice was three turns of
Narbondel from the day of his capture. The second night Morwen sat
outside the elf’s cell and watched his every move again. He looked
at her with his beautiful eyes and smiled again. She creased her
brow in confusion. “Why do you do that?” she asks. He smiled again
and croaked out, “Because in all this darkness you are like a
light; a beacon for my soul. Your beauty and innocence do not
belong in the darkness but under the skies of my home.” Morwen
frowned at his answer and questions again swirled through her
“You are to die. Do you know why?” she asked.
“Because I am free,” he answered.
“Free? But you are bound and imprisoned. How
are you free?” she asked.
“I am free because I have known love. Tasted
the wind and felt the sun on my face. I have known kindness and
caring and I have imparted wisdom in my children so they too can
make their own choices. Things you probably do not know because of
the lies imparted by Lolth. Do you make your own decisions or are
you imprisoned by hatred and cruelty?”
His answer caused her to frown even deeper.
“I do not understand,” but the swirling clouds in her mind were
beginning to part. The elf did not answer he just smiled again.
The third night, and the night before he was
slated for sacrifice, Morwen again sat outside his cell. He met
her with another smile, but this one was a sad smile. “Why do you
look at me like that?” asked Morwen.
“Because this is our last night together and
I fear I have not followed my goddesses wish,” he said slowly.
“Then you deserve your fate,” stated Morwen.
Then she asks trepidatiously, “What was your goddesses wish?”
His smile is again wan and sad. “She gave me
a vision of a lovely rose, blooming in the darkness. It was being
choked and was dying from inattention. She told me to find this
rose and bring it to rebirth. I have failed.”
Morwen watched him with her clear blue eyes
and asked, “What is a rose?”
He looked startled, “A rose is a flower.”
Morwen shook her head, “What is a flower?”
He looked even more startled, “A flower is a
beautiful growing plant. Do you not have flowers?”
Morwen shook her head. “No flowers, but we do
have fungus. We cultivate many types. Are these flowers?”
He shakes his head, “No. Fungus and flowers
are different. Flowers need the sun and fresh air and rain to
grow. Roses come in many colors and varieties. All are beautiful,
and most have thorns.”
Morwen smiles then, “I know what thorns are!”
He smiles at her again, “The rose is the part
of the thorn plant that entices creatures to come closer so it can
spread itself through the world. They smell lovely; delicate and
dangerous at the same time. You can cultivate them without
pricking yourself if you are an experienced gardener. Even if you
prick yourself, the flower is worth the time you spend on it.”
“But you bleed?” she says not really
understanding but feeling very odd.
“What is a few drops of blood if you can
breathe life into a thing of beauty?” he asked.
Morwen sat quietly just watching him for the
rest of the night, trying to imagine what flowers looked like. In
the morning the priestesses gathered and came to the elf’s cell.
As they were walking toward them Morwen asked hurriedly, “What is
your name?” The elf replied, “Call me anything you will.”
Morwen’s eldest sister shoved her from in
front of the cell and ordered two slaves to grab the elf and wash
him. Morwen frowned but did not let her sister see. There was
anger boiling in her blue eyes at the elf’s treatment and the
callous disregard her sister gave him. He was washed, dressed and
anointed before being led from his cell to the temple. He looked
back at Morwen once and smiled. “Mother! I have not failed,” rang
through her mind in his soft voice as he was led away. Morwen was
conspicuously absent at his sacrifice and received a severe
beating by three of her older sisters and mother.
Life was one dull day of torment followed by
the next until the day Morwen was led to the Teir’Breche, the
schools for drow children. The day of her indoctrination was pure
torture for the young drow. She was led to the steps of the temple
and abandoned. When the priestess tutors came to collect the
students their clothes were torn from their bodies and they were
set upon by millions of tiny spiders. Several of the females died
on the steps of Arach’Tinilith that day as they alternately
flinched or killed some of the tiny arachnids. Morwen, did not –
but a part of her soul balked and hid from the confusing world she
was about to enter.
Her early years at the temple school were
interminable as she learned about the Will of Lolth. The slightest
of offenses were held against her and beatings with the
snake-headed whips were frequent. Her matron grew more and more
disappointed in her youngest daughter with each passing day.
Morwen quickly grasped the true measure of the female’s power in
her society – fear. Fear was how they maintained control and they
thrived on it. Fear was the basis of Lolth’s teachings; fear of
failure, fear of insult, fear of all things different. Morwen
despised Lolth and her priestesses second.
After her fifth decade in the temple and her
first century of life, Morwen was assigned a position on patrols.
Her first patrol was a surface raid and three elder priestesses
went with the group of trainees. Morwen, being the priestess
trainee was actually assigned direct oversight of one group of
raiders and was required to travel with them in the hated world
above while the elder priestesses cast spells from the safety of a
dark cave. Morwen made the mistake of mentioning this observation
and was thrashed for her insolence and forced to sit at the
entrance as guard while the moon rose and the others prepared for
Her first sight of the moon was terrifying
and exhilarating at the same time. She was transfixed in terror
but suddenly she smiled. She remembered the eyes of the elf so
many years ago and their final conversation. “…Flowers need the
sun and fresh air and rain to grow. …” Was this silvery thing what
they called the sun? Her eyes darted in the darkness looking for
the thing called flowers.
Her concentration was broken as the first
warriors came forward. The leader indicated she was to come with
them. She abandoned her contemplation of the moon and moved out
with the party. They traveled though a forest of odd looking
plants with hard skins and paused on the outskirts of a small
village. After a count of ten thousand they moved in blades and
bows drawn. They were hunting for slaves, but would kill all who
resisted strongly. The humans did not know what hit them as the
storm of ebony vengeance swept through their tiny forest home.
Women and children were shot with sleep darts and the men were
slain outright. The attack was chaos and Morwen became separated
from the group as they retreated with their plunder.
She wandered in what she thought was the
right direction for the safety of the hill - but only headed
deeper and deeper into the unknown land through the plants with
hard skins. Finally she stopped, exhausted in her search, and
nestled between the roots of one of the larger plants and covered
herself with her cloak.
When she woke it was much brighter and her
eyes pained her. She could not see much beyond her and huddled in
her cloak between the roots in fear. She tried to probe the area
around her with her impaired vision, but saw only vivid greens and
browns. This world of light was filled with colors and living
things. As she sat between the roots she saw birds and bugs and
even a rabbit. She did not know what most of these things were,
but they were not dying under the light of this world. Suddenly
she wanted to explore and know more about this place.
Carefully she stood up, afraid to draw
attention to herself. Then step by step she moved away from the
plant and deeper into the unknown forest. She smiled many times
through the day, but each time it faded quickly as thoughts of the
priestesses’ anger and their whips clouded her mind. Soon she
became thirsty and hungry and realized her rations and pack were
back in the cave. She did not know what could be eaten in this
strange land so she settled down to watch the creatures of the
forest. Soon she noticed a ring-tailed masked creature popping red
berries from a plant into its mouth. Slowly she crawled forward
and tried the same thing. The berries were plump and sweet. She
gobbled as many as she could find and licked all the juices from
her fingers. Smiling again she followed the ring-tailed beast and
it led her to a stream where it began to wash.
Morwen waited for it to finish and went to
the stream to clean herself and drink deep. This was one familiar
thing … water. Sighing as she cleaned the blood, berry juice and
dirt from herself she began to get curious again and looked around
her. The light still hurt her eyes but it wasn’t as bright and she
could see a little better. She saw a thin trail leading from the
stream into the forest.
Morwen creased her brows in concentration and
set off up the trail. It meandered through deadfalls, thickets and
glens; finally it led to a small cottage nestled at the edge of a
large clearing. The cottage was surrounded by colorful plants
ending in beautiful blossoms of varied colors and many scents.
These had to be flowers. Slowly, step by step Morwen drew closer.
At the very edge of the clearing she reached her hand forward to
pluck one of the blooms, a beautiful red flower; when she heard a
“I hear you there. Come out where I can see
you,” Morwen froze. First she did not know what the voice was
saying and second, if she did not move, she might not be seen. The
voice came again, “Did you hear me? I know you are there.” She
heard someone coming. Morwen looked around for somewhere to hide,
but the only place was across the clearing away from the cottage,
so she ran. Or tried to run, the plants had somehow laced
themselves around her boots and held her fast to the ground.
Adrenaline pumped into Morwen’s body and she pulled and yanked but
Then she saw a golden-haired elven woman
crossing through the flowers. They seemed to make a path for her
as she walked. She paused just out of Morwen’s reach. Morwen
crouched low like a pinned predator, her hand reached for the club
at her belt, then the woman smiled. Her smile was like the moon
she had seen the night before, full and mysterious. Morwen ceased
her struggles and smiled back.
“I’ve been waiting for you. You are a few
decades late, but time has no meaning when redemption is at hand,”
spoke the woman in fluent drow. Too stunned to speak, Morwen just
stared. The plants receded and Morwen was able to move but
remained rooted to the spot. “Let us get you inside - into the
shade so your eyes can recover from your first light of the sun.”
The elven woman turned around and walked toward the cottage.
Curious, Morwen followed.
Morwen followed the elven woman into the
cottage. The darkness within soothed the drow’s eyes and gave her
a sense of security. The elf moved through the cottage smoothly
and looked back only when Morwen paused just inside the door.
“Surely you aren’t afraid of one lone elf are you?” she asked.
“I do not fear you. But I do not know why you
were expecting me,” states Morwen.
"Come in and be seated. Many decades ago my
son left on a quest. He dreamt of a dark rose blooming in the
darkness. He never returned. Then here you come, a beautiful dark
elf, and you are out in the sunshine in the middle of my forest
home. You were reaching for a rose when you froze and for a moment
it all seemed right.” The elven woman smiles gently.
Morwen sits in shock, “I knew your son. He
was taken by my family and sacrificed.”
“Ah, then I claim your life as mine,” said
Morwen stood up, panic in her eyes as she
reached for her club. The elven woman was already moving and
Morwen lost track of her, though she was looking at the precise
spot the woman had stood but a moment before. Morwen crouched,
looking about warily. Then she felt a gentle touch on her
shoulders and something was around her neck. Morwen reached up to
keep from being garroted and found a pendant. A rose crafted of
black gold with the petals just opening and the hint of a ruby
The elven woman came back around the front of
Morwen. “Now you are mine.”
Morwen’s eyes closed to mere slits, “I am my
own person. No one owns me!”
“Precisely, Morwen,” laughed the elven woman.
“How do you know my name?” asked Morwen
“I know everything there is to know about
you. You hate your position in life. Now you have a chance to
change it. You are curious, drawn to beauty and have a penchant
for love. And you hate the fiend you called a goddess for the last
century. You are curious and you love to dance and sing. I think I
know you very well,” said the elven woman.
Morwen simply stared. The elven woman came
closer and put her arm around Morwen’s shoulders and drew her down
to a seat. “I am the answer to the prayers your heart has made
Morwen. You are free. Rest now Morwen’cartel. Rest and be at
peace.” The elven woman began rocking back and forth the motion
lulled Morwen to sleep.
Over the next twenty years Morwen stayed with
the elf and learned about the world she now lived in. She learned
of the different races and how they lived. She learned languages
and skills needed to live on the surface world. She learned how
different plants could be used to aid in the curing of different
ailments and she learned to take joy in the small things of life.
Morwen also learned the call of her spirit was being answered by
Hanali Celanil. All she needed to do was listen and respond.
On the first full moon of her twenty-first
year with the elven woman, something changed. There were several
visitors to the clearing. Morwen was terrified at approaching
them, but slowly came forward. They were a small group of elves
and half-elves. They came to dance in the clearing.
Morwen waited for them to notice her, which
did not take long as a moonbeam shone down on her. Morwen was
temporarily blinded and when she could see again the elves were
surrounding her. “What are you doing here, drow?” demanded the
leader, a male moon elf. He held a staff in his hands and watched
Morwen answered in flawless elvish, “I live
here with the lady. What are you doing here?”
The elf’s eyes narrowed and he stepped closer
to her, “No one lives here. This is a holy place to Lady
Goldheart, you defile it with your presence, dark one.”
“No, we live in the cottage in the roses over
there,” Morwen turned to point at the cottage and it was gone. She
started shaking, “But I swear it was there. I’ve lived here for
twenty years. She taught me … I swear it.” Morwen’s voice broke.
The elf was staring at the pendant around
Morwen’s neck when she faced him again. “Stand still,” he ordered
and spoke a few lilting phrases. His eyes widened and he shook his
head. “You speak the truth. You truly do not know what this place
is do you?”
Morwen’s lips trembled and she shook her
head. “I found it many years ago when I was lost.”
“What does that pendant mean to you?” asked
“It is a symbol of my belief and the beauty
in the world. She told me it was representative of the answer to
my prayers. It meant Hanali Celanil was watching me and was
pleased.” Morwen shudders and silvery tears began running down her
cheeks, “She’s gone. I don’t want to be alone again.”
The elf stepped closer and looked down at
her. He cupped her chin in his hand and brought her eyes to his,
“You aren’t alone. You will never be alone so long as you wear
this pendant.” He dipped his head and kissed her softly on the
lips and stepped back. The others gasped at the elf’s actions and
tried to pull him away but he waved them off.
“We will take this flower back to Tinali and
let her decide her fate. For now we will celebrate life and joy in
the moonlight, and she will join us.” The elves began their
celebration with reserve at the presence of the drow. But soon
they joined hands and danced and sang until the sun kissed the
sky. In the morning they left to return to the Evereskan hills and
the Fountainheart of Shimmering Gold.
The elves advised Morwen to keep the hood of
her baladrana pulled forward to avoid stares from the people they
passed. It was several days journey from the forest to the hills.
Before Morwen was led into the hills they stopped and blindfolded
her. The elf who first addressed her, Altarian, took her hand and
led her through the paths leading to Bellcrest and then to the
High Temple of Hanali Celanil – the Fountainheart of Shimmering
Once inside the Fountainheart, Morwen was
taken to a small bare chamber and told to sit while Altarian
brought Tinali to her. For some reason Morwen was very nervous and
knew she would not escape intact. When the door opened again it
was to let in a stunningly beautiful moon elf. The elven woman was
dressed in elegant gold and cream colored robes and her smile
shone in her face. “I had to see if what Altar spoke was true. I
had a dream of you Morwen’cartel. Lady Goldheart said she was
sending you to us. I have spoken to Altarian and he has agreed to
teach you. Be welcome in your time here. But, I must warn you –
your tasks are enormous and you will need steel to overcome the
prejudice most will feel at your presence. Old hatreds do not die
easily when drow continually foray, steal slaves, murder and
maim.” The elven woman steps forward and embraces Morwen before
leaving the room. Shortly, Altarian returns.
“You are my charge for your time in the
temple. We will begin your lessons after your have rested and
refreshed yourself.” Then he led her to a room, “This room will be
yours for your stay in the temple. If you need anything please ask
until you learn your way around. I do not suggest you wander
freely as of yet. No one knows we have a drow in the temple and I
would not like to see you harmed.” Altarian kisses her hand and
leaves the room.
Morwen blushed at the touch of his lips on
her skin and smiled back at him, “I will rest here.”
When Altarian left, Morwen looked around her
chamber. It was small, but comfortable. The bed was soft and
beautifully carved. The small writing desk was of a similar wood
and high quality. There was also a carved chest at the foot of the
bed. Morwen placed her belongings within and danced around the
room there was a full length mirror on one wall and she caught
sight of herself in its silvery surface and stopped dead in her
She tiptoed up to the mirror and reached one
hand out tentatively toward the surface. She had never seen
herself in a mirror under the light of day. She pursed her lips
and creased her brow and so did the image. She stopped and it did
to. She squealed in delight at this new toy and danced in circles
in front of it. Finally she stopped before she fell down from
dizziness. She watched her reflection until a soft knock came on
the door and she walked to the side of the door and opened it.
Altarian stood outside and he had a tray of
food and a large sack with him. She opened the door fully and let
him in. The first thing she did was to ask him what the device was
that showed herself. She pointed at the mirror. He laughed. “That
is a mirror. It shows your reflection.”
“No, mirrors are dark and you can’t see
anything in them,” answered Morwen.
“Dear Morwen, you are so innocent of some
things. A mirror shows a reflection. The mirrors you knew
reflected very little because your home was dark. If you brought
one of them here it would show the same image as you see here,”
replied Altarian with a smile on his lips.
“But, I’m beautiful. The mirror never showed
me like this before. Do you think I am pretty?” she turned to look
him in the eyes and caught him appraising her body.
Altarian looked away, “You are very pretty
A hint of rose tinted her cheeks and she
looked down at the floor. “No one has said I am pretty before.
Altarian set down the tray and the bundle
then cupped her chin in his hand and raised her eyes to his. “Do
not be ashamed for it Morwen. I live in the temple of Hanali, I
see beauty every day. You are exotic, perfect and I am hoping to
see more of you as I teach you the path of the Archer of Love.” He
leans in and kisses her lips lightly again.
Morwen breathes in deeply, “Why do you kiss
me? You do not know me.”
Altarian smiles, “I am sorry, it is just when
I see you this close …. I will stop.”
“No. You don’t have to … I like it. In my
home men would never touch me unless told they had to touch me.
Unless of course it was during one of the ceremonies at the
temple.” Morwen’s face crashes as she speaks of the ceremonies and
without knowing, she slips into a dark memory and speaks in drow,
“They were awful. The graduation ceremonies were attended by
students from all the colleges and the priestess who was first in
her class would summon a demon and copulate with it and around
them the rest of us would …” Her fists clench and she winces at
the memory. So lost to the darkness was she that she did not feel
Altarian shaking her. Finally she felt a stinging pain on her face
and she looked up.
She was lying on the floor and Altarian stood
above her his hand raised. His eyes were frightened and he
immediately knelt next to her. “You were talking, panicking, I
could not understand you.” He gathered her close and held her
against his chest. “I’m sorry I did not mean to hit you but you
wouldn’t wake up. I’m so sorry.” He rocked her back and forth
until she pushed away. She looked up at his face and saw he was
Outside they both heard scrambling feet and
the door burst open. Tinali Seleniva stood in the doorway and
several other priests were outside, many holding weapons. The
harsh words on her lips died as she saw the couple on the floor.
Turning she ordered the others to leave. Some were reluctant, but
all obeyed. Tinali stepped inside and shut the door behind her.
Her strong, calm voice penetrated the gloom in the room,
“Altarian, leave us.”
“Mistress, please, it was my fault, I hit her
and …” Altarian argued.
“Now Altarian,” came the reply.
Knowing better than to disobey Tinali when
she got that tone in her voice he stood, bowed to them both and
Tinali stood over Morwen and she felt very
small, very alone and very scared at that moment.
“Explain to me what happened Morwen,” said
Morwen drew her knees to her chest and
wrapped her arms around them. “We were talking. I asked him if I
was pretty and he said yes. Then he kissed me and I asked why. He
said he was sorry and he wouldn’t do it anymore. I said No, that I
liked it. Then I remembered some things from before … at the
temple back home. They weren’t very nice memories and I felt drawn
into them. I couldn’t escape. I was lost to darkness and Altarian
had to help me, so he hit me to wake me up. It was terrible, I
felt her again and I never want to feel her again. Never!” Morwen
was surprised by the wetness on her cheeks, and she looked up at
The priestess stood over her unmoving. When
she looked down and Morwen’s stricken face her eyes dropped to the
pendant around the young drow’s neck. Sighing Tinali sat on the
floor next to Morwen and held open her arms. Morwen froze for a
moment then wiggled toward the High Priestess and rested her head
on her shoulder. They sat that way for a long time and Morwen
cried softly. The priestess just held her without speaking. When
the crises passed Tinali held Morwen at arms length, “Come with
me. I want to take you somewhere we can speak without being
Not really understanding the meaning behind
the priestess’ words Morwen just stood up and followed her. When
they opened the door Altarian almost fell in since he was standing
with his ear pressed against the portal. Tinali laughed, “You too.
You may as well come since you will be spending a good deal of
time with her.” Altarian blushed a deep red at being caught.
The high priestess led the pair through the
halls and deep into the temple. They emerged in a small clearing
in the midst of a maze of rose covered boxwoods. A statue of
Hanali stood in the center of the garden atop a low pedestal. The
statue was carved from white stone one hand over her heart and one
hand touching an ear.
Altarian looked a bit awed at where Tinali
led them and sat at the feet of the statue. “Sit Morwen I need to
talk to you and ask some painful questions of you.” Morwen sat as
she was asked. Altarian reached for one of her hands and Morwen
smiled when he took it.
“Morwen, you said you were in the temple.
Were you ordained as a priestess of Lolth?” Tinali looked at the
drow with piercing eyes.
Morwen nodded, “I spent fifty years in the
temple. I was ordained in the priesthood the year I was allowed to
join the patrols. Then I got lost and found the cottage and the
golden haired elven woman who claimed my life.”
Tinali seemed a little taken aback by
Morwen’s blunt answer. “I see.” Tinali removed a ring from her
right ring finger and passed it to Morwen. It is a simple gold
band adorned with etched stylized hearts. “Wear this. It is
blessed and it will also shield your mind from intrusions. I do
not want another episode like today.”
Morwen took the ring and put it on, “What
“Apparently your dark memory was more than a
memory. The temple had an intruder, we tracked it to just outside
your room. After sending the beast back to the Abyss we opened the
door and found you two on the floor. Lolth is a jealous goddess
Morwen’cartel. She will not deign to lose a gifted priestess
easily. You will be hunted for the rest of your life by those
loyal to her. The gift I gave you will help you to avoid the worst
of some of those combats, until you are ready to face them.”
Morwen looked at the ring and up at Tinali in
disbelief, “I am sorry. I never wanted to involve anyone else in
my personal battles.” Altarian squeezed her hand and held it
Tinali smiled, “Morwen, you are here because
it is Hanali’s will. Do not doubt, even if your race dictates that
we should hate you. Your belief dictates that we protect you as
one of our own. I am afraid the secrecy of your presence has been
compromised. This is why I brought you here. Stay here the rest of
the night. I will come for you in the morning. I must move quickly
to diffuse the situation.” Tinali smiled and took her leave.
Morwen looked at Altarian, “Are you going
Altarian stared into her eyes and cupped her
chin again. “I will stay with you forever if you will let me.”
Morwen smiled, “Thank-you Altarian.” She
hugged the elven priest and sat close to him. Altarian put his arm
around Morwen and told her of Hanali’s church as they sat at the
base of her statue.
The following morning Tinali found the pair
sleeping next to each other. She stepped forward to wake Morwen,
the drow’s eyes opened and she was on her feet in an instant. The
wary look was replaced by relief at seeing who it was. The high
priestess smiled and waved Morwen over to her.
“Morwen, I do not know how long I can keep
you here in the temple. The hatreds are strong against your race
and there are many here who have fought against your people and do
not believe evil in the race can be so easily overcome. You will
have to prove yourself to people like this every day for the rest
of your life, but I have a feeling you already know that. I want
to tell you a story. A story I feel you will understand, but I do
not know why.” Morwen sat next to the priestess as she told her
Morwen listened carefully and stored away the
information. Altarian chose that moment to wake up and came over,
his expression questioning. Tinali looked at the young priest,
“Take her to the library and let her browse through the tomes. I
have some work to finish.” Tinali turned and led them through the
maze and back into the temple proper.
Altarian took Morwen by the hand and led her
through the sprawling temple complex to the library. Morwen gasped
when she saw the multitude of shelves. “Go on, enjoy your time
here. I will go get us something to eat and meet you in the arbor
Morwen stepped into the room and walked the
length of the library stopping from shelf to shelf just reading
titles and pulling out tomes and scrolls. In one corner of the
library she found a shelf that really interested her and she went
over each of the volumes carefully storing away their location for
future use when she saw the corner of a tattered book sticking out
beneath the shelf. Thinking it odd she got on her hands and knees
and worked the book out. It was a small thing barely
two-handwidths long and well used.
Turning to the first page she read the words
in elvish, "an exercise in vanity....” Frowning she took the book
back to one of the reading tables and started flipping through the
pages reading. Altarian came into the library looking for Morwen
when she didn’t come out for brunch. He sighed when he saw her and
went back outside. Morwen devoured the journal and then slipped it
into her pouch and left the library. She was surprised when she
got outside and saw how much the sun had moved. She looked over to
the arbor and saw Altarian. She blushed and hurried over to him.
“I’m sorry, I was reading.”
“I know, I saw. But I did not want to disturb
you. Sit, eat,” he smiled up at her and she sat and ate as he told
her more about Hanali.
The following days were pleasant for Morwen;
she spent time with Altarian and even a few of the younger
priests. She learned about Hanali’s priesthood and the Seldarine.
The stories were so much different from her teachings back in
Menzoberranzan. She also learned why the priests call her
Morwen’cartel and began getting accustomed to the addition to her
name. It was the third week of her stay in the temple when her
life changed again.
That morning she was torn from her sleep as
three elves burst into her room and dragged her out into the
courtyard. Tinali was furious when she arrived, “Lenathil you have
no right to do this. The council gave me three months.”
One of the bladesingers, an elf missing an
eye, steps forward and thrusts a parchment at Tinali. “The council
Morwen’s thoughts were running - she knew
this elf, his name … the story, the journal. Everything suddenly
clicked in her mind. Time seemed to slow down for Morwen. She saw
the younger priests running into the courtyard, Altarian with
them. She heard them defending her. She saw the unwavering
expression on the older Bladesinger’s face and the confusion on
some of the others. She knew what she had to do.
Morwen shook off the hands of the two
bladesinger’s who were holding her down and stood up. She stepped
forward to look Lenathil in the eye. “Lenathil Enterasti, I will
abide by your and the council’s wishes and leave this place. But
not before you hear me. I cannot give you back Anoran or make
recompense for all the ill done the day you lost your hand and
eye. But I can tell you the prophecy made so long ago is coming
true. And a warrior as honorable as yourself should not let hate
rule his life – lest you become one with your enemy.” Morwen
turned from the bladesinger and walked from the temple an escort
of blade-wielding warriors at her back.
It was night by the time the warriors stopped
pressing Morwen forward and returned to Evereska. Morwen sighed
deeply and looked at the hills around her. She did not know where
she was or where she could go. Tears filled her eyes and ran down
her cheeks as she realized everything she lost that day.
The following morning dawned bright and clear
but Morwen hid from the sun in the shallow cave she took shelter
in the night before. She knew the hatred was natural but she never
expected it to hurt so much. She cried quietly through the morning
and fell asleep before highsun. When she woke that evening there
was a cheery fire, she was covered with a blanket and the smell of
a rich rabbit stew filled the air. She sat up and looked around.
Two packs were along the wall and a beautifully carved staff.
Whoever brought the items was not present.
Morwen looked in the stew pot and could tell
the stew still needed to simmer before it could be eaten. She
waited for the owner of the packs to arrive. After a little while
she heard some clattering outside and saw a figure stacking
firewood. When the figure was through it came into the light and
she saw Altarian.
“Altarian!” she cried in surprise and relief.
She ran to him and threw her arms around him and kissed his lips.
The priest smiled down at her and held her
close, “I could hardly let you go. I’m not done training you yet.
And you said I could stay with you forever, remember?”
Love for this stalwart elf and his flying in
the face of traditional hatreds ran through Morwen and shone from
her eyes. “I was so afraid and here you are and everything is
better.” She held him tight for several minutes.
That evening Morwen and Altarian lay together
beneath the moon. They spent hours touching and caressing and
finally joining with one another. When it was all over they lay in
each others arms and said nothing, each feeling the heartbeat of
the other. Morwen finally broke the silence, “I have never been
happier than I am right now. I have known joy, peace and beauty.
But you have shown me love Altar.” She tilted her head up, kissed
his lips softly and fell asleep on his chest.
The next few years the couple adventured
together, always searching for communities that needed help, or
performing for festivals. Their travels led them to many areas of
the Realms and eventually to Waterdeep. It was outside this city
the couple met a young elven woman heading for the city. She was
carrying a babe in her arms and riding hard. She stopped to water
her mount when Morwen and Altar found her.
She held them off with a moonblade; it took
several minutes of explanation from Altar to keep her from killing
Morwen. Finally she accepted Morwen, after her blade told her the
dark elf had no ill intent in her soul. She explained she was
running from assassins and needed to reach a boat leaving the City
of Splendors for the Isle of Evermeet. The couple agreed to help
her reach her destination.
The attack, when it came, was fierce and
brutal. And the most shocking was the discovery that the attackers
were elven. They fought with more seething hatred then Morwen had
seen in her own people. Time and again they came at the young elf
and her child and time and again the trio pushed them back. Then a
tall gold clad elf atop a white stallion trotted into view. He
pointed at Altarian and spoke a single arcane word. Altar paled
and collapsed to his knees. Morwen was stricken at the fall of her
lover and rushed to check on him. He was dying; he looked up at
her and smiled one last smile. He handed her his staff and gasped
out, “Save the princess.”
Something inside Morwen broke as his eyes
lost the light of life. She grabbed his staff and turned to meet
the elf who dared to take her love from her. He was riding down
his blade flashing in the sun and struck at the elven woman. She
fell to the ground and covered her child. Morwen screamed in rage
and ran at him as he was dismounting to claim the child. She hit
him from behind. The blow shook the staff, almost jolting it from
He turned to face the drow, and fell back.
Something in Morwen’s eyes scared him and he raised his sword to
defend himself. The battle was long and bloody, but Morwen kept
coming, exhaustion had long since lost all meaning for her. The
elf knew he could not defeat the drow so spoke another phrase and
disappeared. Morwen dropped to her knees and yelled at the heavens
until she was hoarse.
Finally she stood again and went to the elven
woman and checked for a pulse, she was still alive. Morwen made a
makeshift litter for the woman and her child and set them inside.
Then she carried her love to the horses and laid him across the
saddle. Then she put all the packs on the back of the princess’
horse and finished the trek to Waterdeep.
She was stopped at the gate and refused
entry. She became belligerent and demanded to see the High Priest
of Corellon. The priest was sent for as he would have been for the
dead and wounded as it was. Morwen was shackled, gagged and held
in a cell until the priest could be brought to her.
It was the following morning before anyone
returned to her cell. She was immediately unbound and ungagged.
She saw an older elf bearing the symbol of Corellon and a human
woman with silver hair. The woman came forward and without saying
anything and touched Morwen and the priest, teleporting them to
the temple of Corellon. Morwen saw a bier on which was Altar. She
cried until there were no more tears and collapsed at his side.
The human woman picked her up and carried her to a bed in one of
the acolyte’s cells.
When Morwen woke she saw the woman looking
down at her a thoughtful expression on her face. The woman was
holding the ring from her right finger and Morwen’s eyes narrowed.
As if seeing her for the first time she smiled at Morwen and put
the ring back on her finger. “I had to remove it Morwen, I needed
to learn who you were and why you are here. I am truly sorry for
your loss. Altarian was a great elf and we are all the poorer for
Tears sprang to Morwen’s eyes and she begged,
“Bring him back – please. I need him.” Morwen sniffled and the
tears started flowing again.
The woman shook her head gently and placed a
hand on Morwen’s head. “No Morwen. The priests will not. Altarian
is in a better place. He walks with his goddess at the side of her
pool. To take him from splendor to come back to you is selfish.
You will always have him in memories and in your heart. The spell
used to take his life from him is a permanent spell. Even if the
priests were to choose to bring him back, it would fail and they
may hurt themselves by trying.”
Morwen choked and realized the woman was
right. Not trusting herself to speak she simply nodded and looked
up at the woman. Morwen was caught by surprise at the empathy on
the human woman’s face. “I share your pain young one. I have
buried many whom I loved over the years.”
“It may help to know; Princess Amnestria and
her babe were saved and are on their way to Evermeet. You have the
gratitude of the elves of that island. I have been given a gift
for you. It will never compare to the one which was taken from
you, but it is a noble prize.” She reached to the floor and picked
up a small bundle. Morwen opened the package and gasped at what
was within. She withdrew a full set of elven chain.
“It is also magicked. You will find it a
great asset on your travels. The priests also have sent Altarian’s
belongings to you. High Priestess Tinali requests that you be
allowed to keep them. She sends her greetings and her love. I will
leave you alone with your thoughts.” The woman stood and left the
Morwen stood up and put on the armor. It fit
snugly and was so light she put her clothes back on over the top.
A princely gift indeed but any elf that saw her with it would be
determined to remove it rather than see it on a drow and she knew
it. Taking a ragged breath she moved to the packs and brought them
to the bed. She also saw Altarian’s staff leaning against the
wall. She went through the packs, her eyes tearing up several
times. By the time she was finished there was a lump in her throat
so large she could barely breathe. Kneeling next to the bed she
prayed to Hanali to keep Altarian safe and happy. In her mind she
heard Altarian’s voice, “You wear the pendant and when you wear
the pendant you are never alone.”
“Good-bye melamin; but I must continue this
journey now. It will be harder without you by my side. But I will
never forget, never,” she whispered softly at the memories.
Morwen spent several weeks recovering in the
temple. She never ate with anyone and spent her time in meditation
and contemplation. Finally she approached the priest to tell him
she was needed in the world again. He smiled and loaded her with
supplies and set her feet on a path out of Waterdeep. The human
woman, Laeral, came to the temple again to teleport Morwen out of
the city without hassle. She sent Morwen to the country of Cormyr.
It is here Morwen is currently and has been wandering for close to
two decades; ever on the lookout for people she can aid and
festivals to join. She has actually grown into her name now and is
gaining some fame as the Dark Rose.