By Mark Martinez
The following work is part of the character Yasraena T'Sarran, submitted by Mark Martinez to the Hall of Heroes. This is the story of this character and is included here as a log seperate to the character gaming stats due to the size of the document. The material presented here remains the property and copyright of Mark Martinez and is used here with permission.
Story of Yasraena T’Sarran
Yasraena, of the noble house of T’Sarran,
was born and raised in the large city of Ithilaughryn, which is located in the
Hell furnaces mountain range on the world of Oerth. She was brought into this
world as the second daughter of Akordia and Durdyn, nobles who ruled the fourth
house of the city.
During her childhood she led a very comfortable, if very empty and cruel existence, learning about how females had all the authority and the males had none, and how it was customary (and encouraged) to torment and ridicule them, both mentally and physically whenever possible. Now, Yasraena was not a cruel person. On the contrary, she was given to random acts of kindness, compassion and mercy, much to the chagrin of her entire family. (well, except her brothers. They didn’t really understand their good fortune with their strange sister. They were just thankful for it) She was always punished and chastised for such acts when caught. “Being a part of a noble family, a ruling house, meant that you conduct yourself in a certain manner! You represent the family! etc, etc.” But that never once prevented her from stopping the beating of one slave, or sneaking some food to another, or defending her brothers when they would take the blame for something. She did have fun teasing them from time to time, making them wait on her hand and foot and sometimes making a complete mess on purpose just so they would have to clean it up, but she soon learned the true nature of her people. When she was fourteen, in a special ceremony, she saw her new baby brothers murdered in sacrifice to Lolth by their own mother’s hand. When she asked why her mother berated her saying “Because they weren’t perfect! They were too deficient to be nobles… to be T’Sarran’s!! They displease the goddess!” She was horrified by what she saw and heard, but was at a loss as to what to truly make of it. She did know that her people, her own family, were not the type of beings she wanted to be with.
Being of a high ranking noble house, and a female noble at that, she learned of the many privileges afforded her, which she took every advantage of from a very early age. From her earliest childhood she showed an uncanny aptitude for wizardly magic. She was the first of her family to be able to cast all of the Drow innate powers by age ten. Against her mother’s better judgment, she was allowed to be taught the basic theories of spell casting from the house mages. From this small beginning, she was eventually able to manipulate the essence to her will, customizing spells to her own tastes and inventing totally new spells as well. She put this knowledge to great use with her offensive spells, getting greater area of effect, damage and unique shapes.
In her teenage years, she proved to be amazingly physically adept as well, showing great potential as a swordsman(woman). Again, against her mother’s better judgment, she was allowed to train with the house weapon master, the great Zacknafien. Even he was amazed at how quickly this young female learned from him. In time, she became quite proficient in the single and dual weapon fighting styles, favoring broadsword and dagger. She also learned how to throw daggers with great skill. She also learned (grudgingly at first) the techniques of the Drow’s signature weapon: the hand crossbow. She felt it too unfair. She learned the usefulness of it later in life, though. She eventually became a specialist with this weapon.
Being a female, and a noble one at that, she was eventually expected to give up on these foolish male interests and join the ranks of the clerics of Lolth. She went along because she really had no choice in the matter, and learned the ways of worship at the great temple to Lolth. She proved not to be very adept with the clerical studies failing at just about every test put to her. Even though she exhibited great skill in her fighting and spell abilities, she was not excused from attending her clerical studies. (much to her disappointment) So, she allowed ample time for her clerical knowledge, but actually more time to her fighting and her magic. She kept her studies up for a dozen years, actually fooling the matron mothers at times by using her magic instead of her clerical magic.
As the years went by, Yasraena found herself acting the part of a typical young female noble. On her 50th birthday, she had learned about an ancient Drow ritual called “The Blooding” from her brother. This ritual it turned out, was the “coming of age” ritual for all young Drow, common and noble alike. This is when all Drow of age (75 years old) go to the surface world for a night of utter slaughter. To kill a surface elf this night is a sign from Lolth of a long and healthy life. After hearing of this, it was then that she decided she would leave Ithilaughryn and life with her own people for good. But only when she felt she would be ready. So for the next 25 years, she studied and practiced, honing her skills and knowledge for that fateful night.
It was during these years of preparation that she learned of something that would change the way she looked at life. One day, during a trip down to the temples’ archives for a book that the head priestess wanted, she came across a book about another Drow goddess. Only this goddess was a goddess of good and truth and beauty, the total opposite of Lolth. Her name was Ellistraee and she was everything Lolth was not. Kind, just and beautiful. There was only one lone paragraph about this “affront to all that is sacred to Lolth” in the book she found so she decided to ask some innocent questions about her. But, whenever she inquired or asked questions about this goddess, she was told with an angry voice all the horrible things that this evil following has done and continues to do. And much to Yasraena’s sadness, there was not one book on Ellistraee in the entire archives. She looked for a good ten years before finally giving up. She did eventually find a small book on Ellistraee from a traveling salesman who came into the city with a small caravan. It cost only 5 gp, but to her, it was priceless. Over the remainder of the 25 years, Yasraena had to worship her in complete secrecy for fear of being killed in Lolth’s name.
During these years she learned as much from going on patrols with the family guard and exploring on her own as she learned from her teachers at school. It was a very trying 25 years, but she saw it through to the very end. When the night of the ‘Blooding’ finally came, Yasraena went out with the others to participate in the barbaric ritual, but she never returned. (Unbeknownst to her, her family secretly celebrated her apparent death, reveling in the fact that she wouldn’t be around any more to embarrass the family name, and they didn’t have to lift a finger) All she took with her from her home was her backpack with her bag of holding, which held her spell books, components, 1 month of food and two wineskins; weapons and armor, ‘Piawafwi’, House insignia and her book on Ellistraee.
Outside and New Friends
Over the next several years, she
trained herself to get accustomed to the surface world, with all its unique
hazards. She started to follow Ellistraee openly and started to follow her beliefs
and tenets, after a fashion. She learned how to heal people, use herbs and to
cure the poisons she used to use. She would (try to) help anybody she met that
seemed to need help and would sometimes put herself in danger to do so. She
also learned how to use her dancing and singing abilities to celebrate Ellistraee
by singing her ‘Evensong’. A very powerful thing, sung at sunset
that summizes the day’s events in a very personal way. When she would
camp out side of towns, sometimes the people would wonder where the hauntingly
beautiful melodies were coming from at dusk. She had many adventures during
these years, and encountered many allies, but no true friends were met. Mostly
just hatred and fear because of her heritage. But these experiences just strengthened
her convictions and her belief in Ellistraee.
It was about this time in her life when she met a group of adventurers, which included Li, a human male High Warrior Monk; Razor, a human male Rogue and Durnick, a human male Warrior Priest of St. Cuthbert. Little did she realize the extraordinary relationships she would have with these three people. “It was a meeting of fate” she would later say when asked. It was around dusk on the road to Greyhawk, when Yasraena was looking for a place to camp. She had heard what sounded like a small scuffle coming from the brush and decided to investigate the commotion. It turned out to be a small orcish raiding party. The orcs had apparently ambushed the three just as they were sitting down to dinner, and had taken them completely by surprise. When Yasraena got to the camp, she saw the orcs had the party bound, blindfolded and two of them gagged. The third was having his bare feet burned with a torch while being asked about “…the rest of you human maggots who’re hunting us and our kin..”. There were about a dozen, give or take a few, around the camp with the majority of them in a big gathering by the tents. Yasraena did the only thing she seemed appropriate… attack with extreme prejudice. She first cast haste and combat spells on herself, then cast a faerie fire on the 3 by the hostages. When the orcs were distracted by the effects of the first spell, she cast an enhanced fireball spell into the midst of the group of orcs, killing or incapacitating them all. She then jumped out and cut the three with the party to ribbons. Being completely surprised, the orcs didn’t know what hit them. Of the dozen plus she first saw, only 3 were missing after the battle, all the rest were dead. Needless to say, when the party was released, and they saw who, or more precisely, what their benefactor was, they were awestruck. Because of Yasraena’s brave and unselfish actions, so unlike a Drow elf, Durnick convinced the party to befriend her. It was from this beginning that her first true friends were found.
After several years of adventures that saw party members come and go, the core of four were Durnick, Li, Razor and Yasraena. Some of the more memorable adventures the four had together were: finding a cache of 1200 mithril pieces in a ruined castle in a swamp and being chased by the very old green dragon who lived there; rescuing a young prince of Greyhawk, along with an entire royal family line of dwarves (King, son, and grandson) of Nolan’s Keep from the band of slavers known as ‘The Crimson Hand’, then being the first Drow elf ever invited to Nolan’s Keep as a guest of the Royal family, scouting and surveying some of the westernmost regions of the continent of Oerth with a group of adventurers which included a ½ ogre, a barbarian and a ‘trained’ ½ timber, ½ winter wolf; stalking and slaying the above very old green dragon which was terrorizing the local countryside (taking a fang and talon out of which her matching broad sword and dagger are made) and finding her Ring of the Archmage and Bag of Holding as well as A LOT of coinage; going to the demiplane of Ravenloft to steal back a spell book from Baron von Strahd himself, where Yasraena had to fight one on one with the vampire and eventually killed him with the help of her friends. (they never did find his treasure, though) She also had journeyed to the lower outer planes, the Abyss specifically. She met a mage named Karrick when she arrived back at Greyhawk after her adventure with the slavers. The person who she had left her spell books with, thought she was dead and so sold them to him, and was willing to sell them back for what he had paid for them. During their exchange, the mage offered to more exchanges for some info about the Underdark and Drow life. She would tell him of her days in Ithilaughryn, and he would give her access to his impressive magical knowledge. Well, they had eventually struck up a friendship. Being the mage that he was, Karrick was doing some summoning one day and got a little careless in summoning a type V demon (a very larger and angry Marrilith) by losing control of it, which the demon took as an opportunity to take the foolish mortal back to the Abyss for some fun. If Bea, his apprentice, wasn’t there when this happened, Yasraena would have had no way of knowing what had transpired. She knew from all that he had taught her of these creatures, that if she didn’t go, Karrick would suffer horribly at the hands of the evil denizens in an eternity of physical and mental torture. The experience left her drained for several days afterward, for she and Karrick barely escaped with their lives. They both also bore the enmity of the afore mentioned marrilith, named Jerrullian, who they had almost killed in their escape. It vowed revenge on the two who had done this to it “If it takes all eternity to do so!!!” She has yet to see the demon again, but there is a long while to the end of eternity, so it is yet to be seen whether its threats will be carried out.
At one point, she and her companions were hired by the city govt. of Greyhawk to find out who or what was behind the monopolizing of trade routes, brutal bandit raids and activity with large pirate ships (heavily armed) on the open waters of the Nyr Dyv. She and the group were to do reconnaissance on the movements and locations of the pirates, bandits, and/or agents of who/whatever was behind all this. Their first mission to infiltrate a keep turned into a disaster with Li getting captured and the rest of the party barely getting out with their lives. Yasraena felt compelled to go back and try to rescue Li. The rest of the group went, although grudgingly at first for they felt that Li was as good as dead already. They got the best plans and intelligence money and treachery could buy, then they went in after Li. The group pulled their strategy off flawlessly, but there was just too many of the enemy. The adventure ends with Durnick dying in the initial combat. Razor gets killed later for trying to escape, but Yasraena and a charmed Li are forced to fight each other to the death. Li was a master at his profession, but Yasraena had area affect magic strong enough to stun him long enough to get a blade in. The last thing Li said as he died in her arms was “ I forgive you, my friend. Not …your… fault…”. She was then dragged off, to be ‘prepared for the master’ as one slave had said. Basically allowed to wash and clean herself and given luxurious and sexy clothes to wear. When she was brought before ‘the master’, she almost didn’t believe it was who it was. Iuz himself stood before her. He said to her “you will be my personal slave drow bitch! You will do as I bid and beg for more! Hahahahaha! Take her to my chambers and make sure she’s taken care of! Now!” Yasraena was taken to Iuz’s personal chambers and was thrown on the bed so hard she hit hear head on the headboard and was knocked unconscious. She vaguely remembers lying on a large bed and seeing rocks and torches before she blacks out. She remembers no more until…………
To Hell and Back (again)
She wakes up to find she’s
lying on the bottom of a bunk bed in complete adventuring gear, her weapons
are leaning against the bunk, and she believes she’s on a boat as the
room is rocking a little and she hears splashing water. She gets up and puts
on her weapons and proceeds to go up the stairs in front of her. When she gets
to the top, she sees she is indeed on a boat, and she is not alone. At least
a dozen Githyanki are on board with her and several normal looking adventurers.
She begins to talk to a female half elf and finds out the rest of the people
are also displaced and have no idea what’s going on. The Githyanki seem
to be the boats crew on closer observation and didn’t seem to pose a threat,
although the silver sword each wore was a good reminder of what they were.
The cleric of the party eventually found out where we were. None of us expected the answer.
“We are traveling on the river Styx”, she said.
How in the nine hells did she get here?!?
At that moment, the boat stopped and a loud horn blew. Everyone went up on deck and saw that they had docked at an amazing looking city. One that put Ithilaughryn to shame in many ways and means, she later found out. The city was called Sigil, and it resided somewhere on the (un?)known planes of existence. It was called “The City Of Doors”. Doors to “any and/or every plane there is” some say. We found out how true the statement was.
We were brought here by a being called the Caretaker, who looked after things within the city. It’s there that we all formally introduced ourselves. In addition to myself, there was Elias, a Mul (half dwarf/half human) gladiator from a world called Athas; Gildene, a half elf magic user who worshiped Mystra; a female half elf warrior monk called Althea from my home world, Greyhawk; and a human male priest of Ra, called Gemmon.
We found out from the Caretaker that there are many door s to many planes of existence.
Each one of these doors is enabled by a gem of power.
Asmodeus, an arch devil, was stealing the gems of power to use them to form gates to anywhere he wished. If he seized the remainder of the gems, he could reign havoc and chaos throughout the planes.
With what was at stake, Yasraena couldn’t say no. If just in repayment for taking her out of Iuz’s clutches. She just hoped that everyone was of the same feeling as she was.
We were transported to the ‘doorstep’ of Hell. We had to go through several tests that were set up, not the least of which was Yasraena playing a game of chess against Death himself (with the fate of the party as the stakes), trudging through a virtual river of blood and fighting an undead looking thing that could cast spells, just to get to the doorway to the 1st layer of Hell.
Everyone walked through as normal, but when I go through, I don’t remember anything until…
The Ruins of HellGate Keep
I wake up lying down to the smell of burned flesh and garbage and to several shadowy beings approaching me. I immediately (if a little groggily) stand and back up, draw my sword and begin an area stun spell when I hear “Wait! We don’t mean to hurt you!! Don’t!!” so I stop the spell and wait with weapon up as I adjust to the light.
I see before me several people standing and one burnt halfling lying on the ground next to my smoking (but unharmed) spell book. I frowned and shook my head. “You rolls your dice and you takes your chances” my old friend, Razor, was wont to say at times like these.
The lead, a tall skinny human male, says “By the looks of you, you’d better come with us if you don’t want to die” as his big partner, a very large barbarian, grabs the halfling. I think for about two seconds, I hear sounds of pursuit and grab my book and pack, and follow these newfound benefactors. We eventually found our way to a safe place and decided to stay for the night. There, the rest of the group introduced themselves. There was Qwest, a human barbarian, Fleabus, a dwarven fighter/cleric, Malachi, a half-elven thief, Nalfost, a half-elven mage/priest of an unknown, but devious and mysterious god, and Wilfbrim, a priest/mage of Azuth, the god of Magic in this realm. I introduced myself, thanked them for getting me out of a sticky situation and told them what I think had happened. I relate my story about Hell and how I remember nothing until waking up in the alley.
“I think I was brought here by someone or something, arrived unconscious and was found by this halfling, who apparently thought that fortune had smiled upon him. He was rifling through my belongings and paid the price. His foolishness cost him his life, which is really too bad. Halflings are usually smarter.”
“Or at least more competent” said Nalfost with a smile.
They all seemed to agree, so we searched the crispy little hobbit to find out who he might be. All we found was a few gold and silver coins, a set of tools, his weapons and an ivory scroll case with the sealed ends in the shape of a unicorn. When we opened it, we found an unusual letter to “come to Silverymoon and help stamp out the evil in Hellgate Keep.”
By the goddess, where was I?
Through later conversation with everyone, I found out I was in the world of Toril on a continent called Faerun. Presently in a city called Luskan on the western shores called the Sword Coast. I thought I had heard of this world. Not unlike my home world, only with minor differences. Well, any place is better than where I was before. After a quick check of everything, I found out everything I owned was there in my bag of holding. THAT was unexpected, and good.
“Anyone else interested in taking this back to Silverymoon?” I asked.
We all decided that it would be a good thing if we undertook this quest.
After an uneventful journey to (I later found out) the fabled city of harmony, we met the ruler of the city, Alustriel, an old mage called Elminster, and another mage called Khelben “The Blackstaff” Arunsun. They questioned and evaluated each of us and told us of the quest. “Destroy all evil left in the ruins of Hellgate Keep, and if that isn’t possible, use this…a small silver sphere, that when the command word is spoken will engulf the entire keep ruins area in an impenetrable sphere of energy.”
2. HellGate Keep
On our arrival at the keep, we encountered several Treants, who refused to let us trample the grass around the ruins. So we persuaded them to carry us to one of the keep’s ruined towers. We came across many evil things within that keep. A trap that turned all of Malachi’s items into snakes; an evil cloaker monster that almost killed Wilfbrim; an area where we heard voices, but they couldn’t be understood; a room that had several shadows guarding it, which Nalfost took control over without hesitation; (Something that made me take pause concerning my new found friends’ skills) and several cambion fiends. But the worst was the Balor demon we found in the bottom most level. He had a Beholder guard, too. Malachi literally roped and rode the hellish thing while Wilfbrim cast spells at it. As insane as Malachi’s actions were, he was actually able to take out several of the things eyestalks in the process. I teleported right into the face of the Balor and proceeded to slice him to ribbons as Nalfost was creeping towards us ready to stick him with his dagger. The Balor had some type of spell that could switch his life force with another being. He used this on Malachi, switched his life force into Malachi’s body and Malachi’s into his. The only reason I knew something was wrong was that as soon as Malachi was switched into the Balor’s body, the scepter the fiend was wielding started to burn him like it was holy, or the thing now holding it was good. I thought this strange, that this weapon he was wielding seconds before should start to pain him. Malachi was doing nothing, so I took an impulsive action. I prayed to Ellistraee that I was doing the right thing and decided to attack Malachi, killing the demon’s life force. We looted the treasure hold and what was around the floor of the chamber, took Malachi’s body, and teleported back to Silverymoon. We had defeated the evil!
Upon our return, we were treated like heroes and given the run of the city. Alustriel, because of my beliefs, told me of a secret group of people called the Harpers. They were a group of people dedicated to fighting and ridding The Realms of evil, any and every way they could. She was a member, as were the mages Elminster and Khelben and many others as well. After what my friends and I had accomplished, she thought I would be a good addition to the membership. After thinking it over and deciding that here is where I’d like to stay, I accepted. These Harpers sounded like a good and noble group, and where else could I find an Elven queen that is able to put such faith in a Drow? All because we had conquered the evil in Hellgate Keep! Or so we thought…….
Hellgate Keep II – The Return
The Sword of Ages
During the next week, we found out that one of the swords we had brought back was the legendary artifact called The Sword of Ages. How it wound up in Hellgate Keep, the goddess only knows. When Alustriel had told us of its unique powers, especially the power to locate certain gates throughout Toril, we had surmised that the balor was going to use it to mount an invasion of his kind into Toril through Evermeet. When Alustriel entrusted the return of the sword to the Queen of Evermeet to me personally, I could hardly say no.
During the next several days, myself and the rest of the party availed ourselves of the comforts and advantages of being celebrities. Myself, I had a notion to learn some new spells, so I brought myself to the magic school to peruse their spell books. While I was there, I met a young human girl of about 25 years whose name was Karina. It turned out she was a mage of no small power (11th lvl) who taught at the school. It seems we had a mutual love for all things magical and a craving to learn about them. After talking for a few hours, and finding out I was THAT Drow, she offered to show me around the city in exchange for some stories on Drow life and their ways of magic. We had become fast friends during the next several days, as she took me to the best material and component shops, and I telling her of my early years in Ithilaughryn. I learned some very useful spells that week from her, as she did from me, including learning the spells for creating my Focal Stones.
The last night of the week I sleep very restlessly as I have a very vivid nightmare. I am on a beautiful white sand beach. The sun is shining, the breeze blowing, the gulls crying overhead and the waves crashing. I walk along this beach for a few miles and see many elves sunning, swimming, and generally enjoying life only as elves can. I am reveling in the beauty and serenity of the place when I hear a tearing or ripping sound. I look in the direction that the sound is coming from and see a portal rip/tear into being. It doesn’t feel natural. It feels downright wrong, like the force that’s creating it is forcefully raping its way through to this place. As the sound grows louder and the portal is forming, I get the ominous feeling that something terrible is about to happen as I feel the hairs on the back of my neck start to hackle. I am scared to the point I can’t move as I look on in horror and see an Imp come through the portal. He walks a few paces and stops to laugh. Then a full blown Glabrezu demon comes through, then another, and another and another. This continues on until the entire beach is swarming with demons of every shape and size. Then, a Balor, the biggest and most evil of them shouts, “DEATH!!! DEATH TO ALL WHO OPPOSE US!!!!! Then they start tearing down the beach, slaughtering any one or thing that gets in their way. As this happens, the sun turns red and the water turns into blood. When one of them notices me, and starts coming towards me, I wake up in a cold sweat with a scream on the tip of my tongue. After I realize where I am and that it was only a dream, I shakily walk to the balcony to get some air. It’s just after dawn and the sights and sounds of the city coming to life calm me. As I look out across the city expanse, I catch a glimpse of the Lady Alustriel as she is standing on her own balcony. She is a beautiful and inspiring sight, with her long golden hair and white gown flowing in the morning breeze. This sight sets me to thinking about my past and how I came to be in this particular place and time. Funny how life can be at times. Who’d have thought that me, a Drow, would be welcome in such a place as this Silverymoon. And not only welcome, but honored. And to become a member of this group called the Harpers. The Lady must have seen something in me that not many people could. I begin to think that I may have just found a home here among the tall towers and beautiful people. My reverie is broken as the sound of pounding on my door comes to my ears.
The Realization and The Banquet
“We gotta go back, we gotta
go back!” was all that he said as he ran into the room.
“What in the nine hells are you talking about, Malachi, “we have to go back”?!?!”
Malachi then proceeded to remind me about the voices we had heard in the keep. Did we REALLY get rid of the evil? ALL the evil, as we had promised? We never did set off Alustriel’s orb. What about the voices? Who else was in on the corruption with the Balor? We had to go back and find out. But should we tell Alustriel? Hadn’t we better just leave and take care of this ourselves? As we were discussing this, another knock came at the door. It was a messenger from the royal palace with an invitation for me. He was delivering one to each of our party, so he might as well give Malachi his too. The invites were for a large banquet being held in OUR honor, this very night, for ridding the evil in the ruins of Hellgate Keep!
Great. Just great. How could we go to this celebration, without confirming our fears first? We decided that we had better discuss this with the rest of the party, so I got dressed and we rounded up the rest of our friends. When we had talked about this new revelation, we all decided that, yes, we indeed had to go back to the ruins and find out for sure if there was anything or anyone, left. But we must tell Alustriel before we go. That was not going to be easy for me. She had put her faith in our party, and more specifically, had put her faith in me, a Drow, to do what was right. For someone like me, who was used to NEVER being trusted, I felt I had let her down. I had proved that you should never trust a Drow. I had betrayed her trust.
Before the banquet this evening, I had one thing to do. I had to make sure the Sword of Ages was going to be safe until our return, because I was surely NOT going to take it into the ruins of the keep again. I thought of my newfound friend in Karina and immediately went to find her at the school. When I informed her of our realization, she was more than willing to take the sword into her keeping, even though it probably meant putting herself in mortal danger to do so. When I asked her why she would be willing to put herself in such danger, she said, “It is my duty to do so. I’m surprised you would ask, for are we not of the same kind?” as she drew forth a small silver pendant in the shape of a harp. With that, I asked her to keep the sword, and to tell no one of it, until it was certain that we were not going to return. If we didn’t return within 7 days, she was to take the sword to Alustriel, and she could then decide what to do with it. I took for granted that no one else, besides our party and Karina, knew of this little exchange. But as the old saying goes…”The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Or, as it happened in our case, of Drow.
That evening came and we were picked up in a carriage to be brought to the royal palace. The banquet was more than anyone could have imagined. The food was immaculate and the most delicious I have ever tasted. The entertainment, myriad and was from as far off as Maztica (Malachi was rather enjoying the lap dance he received), thousands of miles to the south. The guests ranged from the common to the most influential of the surrounding area and beyond. I found out that evening just how important Alustriel and Silverymoon were to the Northlands. During the evening, we were presented with gifts to show the appreciation of the gathered for our efforts in the eradication of the evil in the ruins. It was especially hard for me to sit there and accept these gifts, fearing that our task was not finished. I received two doses of a very rare herb and a magical stone that allowed me to see in complete darkness as we see in daytime.
When the time came to finally say goodnight, we discreetly went to Alustriel and told her of our fears. The look she gave us, and me in particular, was one of utter disappointment and almost fear. She said to leave at first light and to finish what we had started. As we turned to leave, she called me back to her.
“The consequences of the incompletion of your quest could be disastrous, Yasraena. Not only to Silverymoon, but also to the greater part of the lands about it. I hope I have not erred in putting my faith in you to wear the symbol of those who Harp. Too often have your kind betrayed the trust that was given them.”
It was like a knife to my heart. But she was completely in her right to say it.
“You have not erred in your trust of me my lady, nor have I betrayed it.” I replied. “We have merely been overly confident in our abilities. I hope the consequences of which you speak do not come about, and I will try with every fiber of my being, to prevent them from doing so. You have given me the honor of wearing the symbol of the Harpers, and with my coming actions, I hope to finally earn the right to wear it. If only in your eyes, at least. “And with that, I turned and left to follow my friends to our rooms. We left early the next morning to return to the ruins of the keep. As we left the city, we had a feeling that it would be the last time any of us would ever see it.
We remembered that we could only
teleport to outside the area of the keep because of the magic dead zones surrounding
it. From there it took us about a days march to reach the ruins. During our
journey we encountered a faerie creature called a Satyr, who said his name was
‘The Bumpus’, and insisted that he entertain us with his flute playing
and magical accompaniment. All he wanted in return for this was anything we
could give him. “Even just a cup of ale would suffice,” he said.
He seemed harmless enough to our eyes, so we agreed to sit and watch and to
reward him at the end. He proceeded to play his flute and dance around while
he conjured an illusion of faeries that flitted and flew about, to and fro to
his music. The faeries began to act in a not so faerie-like manner, when during
a very quiet part of his song, they started sneaking around and giggling, then
stabbing each other in the back! This progressed into a full-scale bloodbath
when the song rose to its frenzied conclusion with the faeries just slicing
and dicing each other to ribbons. I thought for sure the keeps influence was
at work here, but as it turned out, I was way off track. When Bumpus was done
with his song and dance, he asked us to “please pay me now.” Wilfbrim
and I started to get our flasks of wine and ale out and pour him a cupful, when
to our surprise, Fleabus and Malachi did just that! As they were just gushing
about how great the performance was, clapping and whistling, etc, they took
out their money and started to give it to him. Not just a few coins either,
but every last scrap of wealth they had! There must have been a charm magic
entwined into the music. Luckily, I was practically immune to such tricks, Wilfbrim
and Nalfost must have seen through it, but those two obviously fell for it.
We didn’t notice this until we started to hand the wine over to the little
thief. I stopped and stared in utter disbelief, looked over at Wilfbrim with
a smile on my face, and then burst out laughing. I finally contained myself
when they had given him about half of their coinage.
“What are you doing? You’re giving him all your money you fools!”
“And he deserves it!” they said. “The most amazing thing I’ve ever seen! A natural talent! Better than any I’ve seen” etc, etc.
I reluctantly stopped them from giving him any more of their hard earned gold, and told The Bumpus, if he knew what was good for him, “he’d better leave now before they regain their senses. You have no idea what a dwarf will do to somebody who has just stolen half his gold! Although, good trick! Here’s the wine I promised!” With that, he drank the wine and sped away. When the two finally regained their senses again, and was told what happened, Fleabus was just livid. If you’ve ever seen an angry dwarf… well… it’s not pretty. Malachi on the other hand, was almost admiring the little dung for his ingenuity. “Now why didn’t I ever think of that?” he kept saying to himself afterward. Moral of the story – If you’re ever walking in an unfamiliar forest, don’t stop to listen to the music of a flute-playing Satyr.
Hellgate Keep (again)
When we arrived at the keep, we decided
that we should go quietly and cautiously, as we had done previously. One of
the first things we discovered was a crypt that contained an undead king by
the name of Gildamere. We were in the beginnings of a battle with this creature,
when Wilfbrim tried to speak to it. It told us of the group of demons that had
taken over the ruins and their plans to use the Sword of Ages to mount an invasion
of their kind into the Realms. He told us that the demon we killed was the leader
of the group, but there were more. At least 4 more that he knew of. One in particular,
a Succubus by the name of Sarya, was now in command, and had brought him and
his personal guard back to life, through her infernal demonic powers, to protect
the entrance to their lair.
“But her powers over me are not as strong as she thinks! I have only been brought back and am not under her command. I will not knowingly help a creature of such evil and chaos. But alas! I cannot raise a hand to harm her or her kin, either. If I could only release myself and my servants from this spell, I’d show her the price for disturbing the king’s rest! But wait! You could help me! You could free me by killing the vile fiend! Please! I would give anything to be at peace again! Please! Take my sword and avenge me and my servants’ desecration! Kill Sarya, and have my eternal gratitude!” He then offered us his sword. Since I was the only one who could use a long sword, I took it with the oath that I would do my best to rid the world of Sarya and her kin. He thanked us, then he and his servants lowered themselves back into their tombs. We left them in peace.
Our next discovery was one of shock and total dismay, before we found out the true form of it. In the next room was Tiamat herself. Or so we thought at first. It turned out to be a pure Mithril statue of the dragon god, which had Illusion and fear enchantments on it. What a great guardian! No one would dare enter a room that occupied such a beast. Needless to say, we took the statue for later use.
The next room we entered turned out to be a small cavern. There were stalactites and mites galore throughout it. As we were exploring it, an undead beholder rose up from behind a corner to attack us, but was not successful. As soon as Malachi saw the hellish thing, he yelled a warning to the rest of the party and I cast a Chromatic Orb spell. Ellistraee must have been with me that day, because the monsters magic resistance failed it, and my spell turned it to stone. It looked very much like the one we had slain the previous time here, as this one seemed to have the same eyestalks missing that Malachi had destroyed. After regaining ourselves, we proceeded to the farthest corner of the cavern to find a large, unlocked wooden door. When we opened it, we were presented with the leader of the evil group, Sarya. She was standing behind a shimmering wall of magical force, but could still be seen through it. On either side of her were two vile looking creatures. Both of which I had seen before in my previous adventures. The first looked like a disgusting cross between a spider and a Drow elf. A Drider. The second was man sized, with a purple head and tentacles in the middle of its slimy face. A mind flayer, or Ithillid. She was holding a familiar looking sword in one hand and the hair of a female captive, who was on her knees in front of her, with her head down so we could not see her face. The captive looked very pregnant.
“So! You have finally come! You have been expected. You have now finally seen that your efforts to protect THIS have been in vain!” And she thrust the sword forward, revealing it for what it was. The Sword Of Ages!
“Your attempt to hide this from me is only outmatched in foolishness by the choice of person whom you entrusted it too! She could not prevent it from coming into my possession any more than you.” She then adds with a wicked chuckle, “Although, her efforts have been more ‘rewarding’ than yours will be. Isn’t that right you little bitch?” With that she pulls the hair of the captive back to reveal it is none other than my friend, Karina! Her face is a rictus of pain and anguish as whatever is in her stomach starts to writhe and move. “She will be one of the carriers of a new generation of rulers in this pathetic plane. Even now, the child is growing inside her, and will soon join the ranks of the true rulers of Faerun! HAHAHAHAHA!”
I immediately try to teleport behind the wall to try and help Karina, Nalfost tries to cast a Lightning Bolt and Wilfbrim tries a Missile Volley, but the spells all fizzle out. She laughs again, “ HAHAHAHA!! You see! Your puny magics have no effect against the power of my kind!” She then turns to the Ithillid and says, “Take this monstrosity and report back to the matron mother that all is going according to plan. We will inform her of the completion in the next few days.” With that, the Ithillid and Drider vanish as they teleport out.
She then turns back to us and says, “You fools! Our victory will be complete in only a few more hours, and there is NOTHING that you can do to stop us! MWUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” And with that she vanishes as she teleports away. We then hear her insane cackling back down toward the cavern and turn and run that way. When we reach the barracks, we find a red, shimmering, upright circle that looks like a magical gate of some sort; but it is wavering, fading in and out, like its power is waning. I immediately run towards and through it before it has dissipated with the hope that my companions follow me.
The Battle of Everwood
When I step through to the place
the gate leads to, I find myself on green grass at the foot of a large hill.
I then see my companions step through, and after the last comes through the
gate, it fades away. We decide to climb the hill and see what we can see from
the top. When we get there, we see what Sarya was talking about. On the valley
floor below us is the river that eventually runs through Silverymoon. Next to
it are 3 large wagons with a huge cask on each. There is a small bridge that
spans it as well. To the left of the wagons there is a large stone arch, easily
30-40 feet tall, with dozens of arcane symbols on it. In front of the arch are
two large stone pillars with the same symbols. There is also a group of ruins
directly to the right of them with various structures in varying degrees of
decay. One of these structures, in the middle of the ruins, is an open temple-like
building that seems to be fairly intact. In the back of this building are what
appears to be the remains of an altar. In front of this altar stands Sarya and
she seems to be animatedly talking to it. To her right, and kneeling is Karina.
There are dozens of armed skeletons everywhere.
Once our group has taken in the scene and evaluated the situation, we hastily discuss our battle plans. Unfortunately, we all seem to have a different approach to taking these monsters out. We rally back and forth ideas for about 10 minutes when Nalfost says, “I’ve had enough talk. It’s time for action”, and begins to cast a spell. I take notice of this and realize he is beginning to cast a summons spell that will call forth a being from the lower planes; I believe to be a devil.
“What in the nine hells do you think you’re doing?!?” I yell at him as I shove him to the ground to disrupt his spell.
“Trying to win this battle you stupid bitch!” he yells back as he gets up.
“By summoning a devil?!?! Are you mad?!?” I yell back. “I’ll have none of that! You summon something like that and you’re no better than those we fight!”
“I would’ve had complete control over it! No one tells me what I can and can’t do, Yasraena. Just watch out. You never know what ‘accidents’ might happen to those who think they’re better than others.”
“Nalfost, if you summon that thing and it gets away from you, it could cost us what we’ve come to protect, not to mention our own lives. I WILL NOT allow that to happen. Summon it, and your life is forfeit!” as I put my hands on my weapon hilts.
“Fine! If you want to play ‘holier than thou’ while the damn demons get away with what they’re planning, that’s your affair. I’ll not stand by and be ordered around like some novice spellcaster!” That seemed to be it for Nalfost. He then cast a fly spell and left. “We’re better off without him”, I say. “He’s no better than those fiends down there.” Fleabus comes over and says, “I hope you know what you’re doing Yasraena.”
The rest of us then decided we would try to take them out one by one, with each of us trying for a specific target. Wilfbrim and Fleabus were going for the wagons and the barrels. Malachi and myself were going to try to rescue Karina and create a diversion in the process. Things couldn’t have looked more hopeless for us.
Malachi and I had gotten just about even with the temple when we saw Sarya lunge forward and cut open Karina from the waist up. After that all hell breaks loose. We end up fighting with Sarya, and her cambion and full brothers: Xhal, a cambion mage of some sort, possibly a necromancer; Tolg, a full demon; and “The Chancellor”, a full Balor, even greater than the first one we encountered. I ended up killing Tolg, with Malachi lending a hand in the form of tossing his tools at the demon in the hopes it would foil his Stoneskin spell, Wilfbrim and Fleabus were busy with the wagons and unbeknownst to me, Nalfost had returned and was doing his part to hinder our foes. During the melee, Sarya activated the arch, she and the Balor went through, but not before destroying one of the pillars. This in effect caused the gate to start acting the same way it did at the keep. I shouted to the rest of the party, “NOW!!! Through the gate, before it’s destroyed!!!” and ran directly at the gate and then through it, very much like I had done at the keep. I was followed by all five of my companions, just as the gate closed. We had made it… just.
But WHERE we had just made it to, was somewhere none of us had anticipated.
We stepped through into a place
that just felt wrong. Everything about the place was just wrong. Not natural,
like something out of a dream. That’s what the Abyss feels like. At least,
this particular layer of the Abyss felt like that. The sight we see stretches
before us like a mini-wasteland. We are on what appears to be a gigantic piece
of rock floating in a void, like an island. The ‘sky’ and everything
surrounding us was made up of this nothingness. Not blackness or darkness…
nothingness. The ground is a gray stone of some sort, very cracked in places
with streams of roiling blood running through it. There are bones of every sort
floating in them as they flow past. There are two, 30’ square pits directly
to the right and left of us with metal spikes jutting upwards out of them. The
spikes have heads on them. There is a large, pentacle shaped stone step with
a skull looking upwards. The skull is made of some type of metal. Completely
surrounding us is a 10’ wall that appears to meld into the floor. There
is a great distance between us and the end of this “rock” Within
this distance there are six carved stone pillars jutting from the surface, all
pointing inwards to form a wide arch. They almost look like rib bones. These
“ribs” are about 70 feet high. At the very end of this rock, from
where we’re standing, we see two huge pillars of some sort. They look
like they’re made of various parts of various beings; mouths, eyes, feet,
arms, legs, etc. They look as if they’re writhing in agony. From each
of these pillars tops emerges an arc of lightning. Wreathed in the middle of
this arc, was the Sword of Ages. When we finally think to look behind us, we
see an exact copy of the arch from Everwood, with its magic swirl of red just
disappearing. When it’s completely gone, all we see behind it is the nothingness
that surrounds our little island.
“Where the hell ARE we?” I hear Malachi say.
“Not quite, but you’re close.” I reply. “We are on the Abyss my friends. Can’t you feel it? Just the wrongness… the evil of the place?”
“Aye. I felt it the second I stepped through the infernal arch.” says Fleabus.
After we adjusted to our surroundings, we decided to go forward, toward the pillars… and the sword. Myself, Nalfost, and Wilfbrim all cast fly spells on ourselves and Fleabus. Malachi decided he would stay on foot. We all headed up the step to the wall that was in front of us, and when we reached the top we see what we couldn’t from below. The top of the wall was a rim of a large square area, about 500’x500’. Within this area are various pools, all of which form a circular shape. It reminded me of an arena or coliseum. There are eight large pools on the outside and 4 small pools on the inside of this ‘circle’. They are placed so that there is at least a 10’-15’ area between them. As we draw closer to the edge of the rim, we see that they too are filled with roiling blood. The air is thick with the smell of it. Directly in the middle of these pools is a small, perfect pentagram. What we see beyond this ‘arena’ are the six stone pillars, and where the middle pillars were, there were large holes with white fumes coming out of them. Beyond these was a huge pentagram shaped stone base that had 3 large circular pools on it, all with the same white fumes coming out. On the direct front of this base were the pillars of flesh and the sword.
After we had taken all of this in, we had started to move once again when we hear a very familiar laugh. When we look forward to see Sarya, hovering above the opposite side of the arena.
“So! You have actually dared to follow me! Arrogant fools! You will learn the cost of crossing my master!” and with that we see a large throne made of the bones of every race imaginable appear directly in front of the flesh pillars. Sitting in that throne is “The Chancellor”. He looks directly at us and motions with his hand to Sarya, “You have done well Sarya, to bring these to me.”
He then points his finger at us and says, “You are the ones who have tried to disrupt my beautiful plans from the beginning. It was you who killed my servant in the keep and took the sword, and it was you who disrupted me at Everwood. But all your efforts were for naught! Even now, I am using the sword to complete my gate, and when it’s finished, all the Realms will be mine to use as I will! MWUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! What a pity you won’t be around to see it.“ With that he snaps his fingers and two Succubi appear, one right after the other in the pentagram in the middle of the arena.
What followed was one of the longest and most harrowing fights of all our lives. Fleabus and Nalfost fight the Succubi, Malachi tries to keep Sarya busy and eventually gets a near fatal shot on her, causing her to go hide to regenerate. I keep trying to get in The Chancellor’s face, but he keeps teleporting away every time I get close. Wilfbrim is fighting a summoned creature, a crab or lobster of some sort, which he eventually beats. This drives the Balor nuts and he teleports directly behind Wilfbrim and grabs him by surprise. He then takes flight and begins hovering over one of the spiked pits ready to drop him at any second. Here, Malachi dons his magical mask and takes the appearance of Sarya. He then goes to Khazule and says, “He’s mine. I want him for some fun before I kill him myself.” Khazule then hands Wilfbrim over to Malachi. As The Balor grabbed Wilfbrim, I realized I couldn’t do anything without the chance of hurting Wilfbrim, so in frustration I cast an augmented Firestorm spell at the left flesh pillar, in hopes to destroy it and grab the sword. Nalfost sees me and does the same to the right pillar. After a minute or two, my firestorm spell has inflicted major damage to the pillar. The Chancellor, when he sees this happening, screams in utter hatred and teleports, with Sarya right by his side, directly in front of me and draws this ungodly huge flaming sword, with his eyes telling me his sole purpose is slicing me to bits. Finally! My chance to take revenge on these evil things for all they have done! As we get ready to fight, the lightning arc that was holding the sword begins to fizzle out and the left pillar begins to collapse from the fire damage. As this happens The Chancellor screams “NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and explodes in giant ball of fire, light and energy. I reflect as I’m caught in the conflagration “I may die, but at least those two are dead, and Faerun is saved.”
I remember waking up and seeing Malachi bending over me.
“I thought you were dead, Yasraena.”
“I sure feel like it. What happened? The last I remember was the demon exploding…… The Sword! Where’s the Sword?!?! ”
“It’s fine. Right over there. Yeah, He blew up all right. I can’t believe there was anything left of you, let alone you surviving it. I guess your goddess, what’s her name, Ellistraee, was looking out for you.”
As I got up, I saw what the outcome of the explosion had been. There was a circle of destruction in a 300’ in radius. EVERYTHING in that area was either utterly destroyed or damaged in some way. There was no sign of the Balor or of Sarya. Almost everyone in the party took damage from it. I was lucky enough to have myself and equipment survive, with only a little damage. Praise the goddess! Thank you Ellistraee for your protection!
The Sword Returns
After we have healed a little, and
looted what we could off the bodies of the demons, (which was, surprisingly,
a lot) we decide to try and leave this place. I take the sword into my possession
and we head towards the arch. As we near the arch, the sword begins to glow
and the arch begins it’s swirling again, only this time, the color is
blue, not red. We all step into the arch and instead of instantly stepping through
to somewhere; we step into a ‘river’ of flowing energy. We see ‘currents’
of energy flowing before us, as we’re swept into the currents with me
and the sword leading the way. During this journey, the sword shows me a ‘curtain’
of many colors and tells me in my mind that if I wish, I can go home.
“Home?” I ask.
“To Greyhawk, if you desire.” It answers. “Just go through the orange curtain and you will be home.”
I think about it for a second and told it no. “I have nothing to go home to. All my friends there are dead. There’s really nothing for me there. Besides, I have a quest to fulfill, and I’m now a member of The Harpers. Faerun is my home now.”
After about 10 minutes of riding these currents, we are carried to another curtain that the sword tells us is the portal to the place we wish to go. As we go through the portal we step onto a beautiful white sand beach with trees and crashing waves on the shore. After we get oriented, I get an overwhelming sense of deja vu. Then I suddenly recognize the beach we are on as the one from my dream back in Silverymoon. This must be Evermeet! As I am revealing this to the rest of the party, Nalfost says that he must leave, and immediately. He seems very nervous; even anxious. I don’t think that he should leave, but, to each his own. He teleports away and that is the last any of us have seen of him.
Malachi suggests that I use his magical cloak to hide my features, and I reluctantly agree. I use it to look like a normal female high elf. And just in time it seems as right after I don the mask, a large group of elves, all armed to the teeth, burst onto the beach and demands who we are and what our business is here on the sacred isle.
“We have come to return this to the queen.” I say, holding up the Sword of Ages.
They all gasp in amazement and tell us to relinquish our weapons to them. Since they outnumbered us almost 4 to one, we had no choice but to comply. They then took us to the capital city and to an audience with the Queen and her court. She was surprised to see our party, and even more surprised when she saw what we had in our possession.
“This is a historic occasion my friends.” She said. “It has been a long time since humans or dwarves set foot on this isle.”
“We are honored to be here, your highness.” I said. “We have come from a quest that the Lady Alustriel of Silverymoon herself set us upon. To return this sword to your hands” as I draw the sword, kneel, and present the Sword of Ages to her. “And if all is true of its powers, may it never leave them again.” She is visibly touched by this act from us, almost coming to tears.
Regaining her composure, she says “I thank each of you for your efforts in this. Not only has the Sword of Ages returned to us, but by the hands of humans and dwarves as well as elves. May this be the beginning of renewed friendships between us and your noble races“.
I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to show her my true self, and be damned with the consequences! “I mean no disrespect, but I hope your highness means what she says and these are not just words to be forgotten when we have departed this isle” I said.
“I do speak the truth my good elf. Although we have had our differences with humans and dwarves in the past, what you have done has shown me them in a different light. I welcome you and your companions here with honor and gratitude. You will always be welcome here.” She replied with all sincerity.
“I am happy to hear you say that, your highness. More happy than you could possibly imagine, because……” I say as I remove the mask, drop my hands down, palms upward, and reveal my true heritage.
The entire room gasps (including my friends) and erupts into a frenzy of movement as they immediately draw their weapons, begin spellcasting and start to advance on me with a look of sheer hatred in their eyes as my friends start to yell “No Don’t!! She’s friendly!” I remain still.
The queen cries “Stop where you are!! She is not to be harmed!”
“But your highness! She’s a Drow!……”
“She is not to be harmed I say!! Stop now!! ” The guards reluctantly back off, but do not drop their weapons. She then looks directly at me and says, “Please explain yourself, Drow. Your presence here is a surprise, but your actions and demeanor are even more so. You are not like your people.”
“I am Yasraena T’Sarran of Silverymoon and the Harpers.” I say as I reveal my silver harp pin, “and I have been given the task of returning the Sword of Ages to you from the high Lady of Silverymoon herself. Please forgive my deception, your highness. I had no wish to deceive you or your people. However, being what I am, I had no wish to be killed on sight either. I hope you will forgive me for this, and that your words of a few seconds ago still apply to me now that you know what I truly am and what I serve.”
“The words still apply to you and your friends. It is true that I am grateful to you for returning that which has been lost for so long. But, I’m afraid that if I let a Drow run loose on my isle, however good of heart she may be, I may have to deal with a problem even I could not solve. Please Yasraena, while you are here, continue to wear the mask that you have. MY people are not as forgiving as I am when it comes to your kin.”
I reluctantly agree to this. What could I do? Refuse? I guess a Drow on Evermeet is just not acceptable yet. Maybe some day.
Our stay in Evermeet was restful, if uneventful, up ‘till the big ceremony. It was then that the queen introduced us to the city as the ones who returned the Sword of Ages. The party was even bigger than the one Alustriel threw for us. Fleabus and Wilfbrim were the celebrities of the day as there hadn’t been a human or dwarf on the isle in as long as most could remember. At the end of the party, The Queen herself placed the sword back into the hands of Correlon Larethian’s statue in the court of the queen, then performed a magical ritual on us and bestowed upon each of us the blessing of Correlon. (One level of experience)
When the time came for us to go, the queen came to us and said, “I am overwhelmed with gratitude and relief for your selfless actions. Because of you, Evermeet and Faerun are safe once again. I apologize again to you Yasraena, for your unfortunate, but necessary disguise while you stayed here. May the next time you visit us be as who you truly are. A servant of good and justice in the name of the Harpers. Farewell!” With that she then teleported us back to right outside Silverymoon’s main gate.
When we appeared outside the Hunter’s Gate, it was shut, as we expected. As we approach the gate, the window opens and we’re confronted by the guard, who won’t let us pass at first.
“The city doesn’t want any more strangers.” He says as closes the shutter.
“We’re not strangers to this city, we are returned form a quest that the Lady her self gave us. We wish to speak with her immediately. I am Wilfbrim, with my friends, Malachi, Yasraena and Fleabus. We are well known here.” Wilfbrim says through the gate.
We hear from behind the gate, ”Fleabus? Yasraena? Wilfbrim? Not them who went to…” the gate opens…
HellGate Keep III – The Aftermath
To Be Continued
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