The thin red line Nalynn noticed slowly became a small rill of blood, trickling from Brisid's neck. Horrified, she quickly removed her jacket, and pressed the soft cloth firmly over the wound as she scanned the room for a more suitable pressure dressing. Nothing! Nothing within arm's reach. She called for Lywnis & Endril "Come quickly! I need assistance with BriSid's wound - the foul witch has tried to mortally wound him! I dare not leave his side--come now!"
Fearful of the globed elves, Endril, brave little Endril, tentatively peeked inside the door. He saw Nalynn bent over BriSid, a blue, but rapidly turning red cloth under her hands pressed against BriSid's neck. "Papa! Come quickly! Nalynn is trying to kill BriSid! We must help! Ebonstarr has taken possession of the lady too!"
Alarmed, Lywnis rushed past his son, prepared to take whatever steps necessary to save his friend and Guildsman. Sword drawn, he stopped just short of the bed, pausing to assess the situation. "Lywnis! Stop! Endril misunderstands! Ebonstarr has slashed BriSid's neck, and thought she could hide the wound until his life force was drained from him. I have stanched the blood flow temporarily, but I need your help!"
Lywnis sheathed his sword, turning briefly to his son "Endril, she is not possessed, but we must do what we can to help her before BriSid is lost to us. Keep an eye on Ilustriel and Riklaun while I help Nalynn. Watch for signs that the globe is dissipating." Endril nodded grimly and took up his post by the door.
"Milady," Lywnis said, "What wouldst thou have me do?"
"OK, first, my jacket is filled with blood. Get me a towel from the linen drawer over there, that I may replace this makeshift dressing." Lywnis moved quickly. Nalynn deftly replaced the bloodsoaked jacket with the towel, made of finest Elfin linen. "Next, reach into my cloak and bring me the sewing bag concealed in the front left pocket."
Lywnis searched frantically, "Blast, Nalynn! How many pockets do you have in this thing anyway!" He finally located the bag and brought it over to her.
"Now, open it and pull out the jar containing the magenta colored powder...'tis a mix of arrowroot and hens' bane. Mix a small amount of the powder with water to make a paste." Lywnis, so clumsy with cooking matters, moved swiftly nevertheless. When the paste was prepared he approached the bedside.
"Now, quickly and gently, spread the paste over the wound as I remove this dressing. We will work from one end of the wound to the other." Puzzled, Lywnis began following her instructions. "What will this do, Nalynn?"
"Tis a temporary solution Lywnis, but it will briefly seal this wound while I prepare my needle and thread." The two elves worked in tandem, until the wound was completely sealed.
Nalynn grabbed her sewing bag and rummaged quickly through it. "Ah, here it is!" she cried in triumph as she removed a gleaming platinum needle from its fine leather sheath. Lywnis gazed in wonder and alarm as she also removed a small Electric Spider from her pocket. "Fear not, Lywnis, it is under my spell!" She uttered mysterious sounds, not Elfish, but not the language of the Seekers either. In fact, it sounded strangely musical--a song without words. The spider began to dance, and as it did so, it spun a magical strand of thread, which Nalynn quickly gathered up. She tucked the spider back into her pocket and threaded the platinum needle. Continuing her song, she gently stitched BriSid's neck wound. As the thread pierced his skin, the makeshift paste dissolved, leaving neat tiny stitches in its place.
Finishing her work, she placed a light bandage over the wound. "I can do no more now, Lywnis. We can only pray that we were not too late." Lywnis nodded solemnly, admiring her calmness under duress and the meticulous stitchery.
"Nalynn, I have heard tales of your skills as a seamstress. But I am honored today to have witnessed you at your craft firsthand." She blushed at the unexpected compliment just as they heard Endril shriek.
"Papa! The globe is disappearing!"
Starrbolt stood with his sword unsheathed a few feet from the magical globe that separated realities. He heard Nalynn's call for help and told Lywnis he would stay and watch for the globe to expire. A minute later little Endril came out, mustered up his most courageous face and stood beside Starrbolt.
"What did Ebonstarr do to Brisid?" he asked.
"The mean lady cut his neck," the elfling responded, moving his fingers across his throat for emphasis.
"I hope he's..." Starrbolt began as a figure straggled out of the woods. "Modar! What happened?"
"It's a long story. I'll tell it to you over dinner. You haven't eaten yet, have you? I smell poached boar. That's how I found this place. My nose and my stomach led me," Modar said. His friend chuckled.
"Thinking of your stomach after..."
"The globe's disappearing!" Endril yelled.
Starrbolt turned to the elfling. "Endril, go back inside the house. Modar, you fit for battle?"
Modar nodded, "I guess I can wait for dinner a few minutes. What are we fighting?"
"I don't know," Starrbolt said as he and Modar raised their swords, ready to welcome any unpleasant surprises awaiting inside the globe.
"You know, when your actions took me out of Lloth's favor," Ebonstarr/Ilustriel said conversationally, "I had made many mistakes. Since then I've learned many things, such as: 'Volence is not always the key to success.' This time the mistakes will be yours."
"So you think, Ebon. Once your spell ends we will get you out of Ilustriel and stop your vile schemes," Riklaun spat.
"Ahh. 'Talk of the devil.' as some humans say?" the drow remarked as she noticed her spell beganing to fade. "Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but other duties call. Aluve', Riklaun."
Ilustriel went limp in Riklaun's arms. Her hair fell away from her neck and Riklaun noticed a small scar running below her ear.
"I'm going outside to help Starrbolt. Maybe you'd better stay here with Brisid, Nalynn," Lywnis suggested when he heard Endril's yell. Before Nalynn could respond, the elf was already out the door. Sighing, she took Brisid's hand in hers and squeezed. The hand squeezed back and Nalynn almost jumped out of her chair. "Brisid! You're awake! How do you feel?"
Brisid opened his eyes slowly. "I feel... fine," he responded slowly, as if he had never heard the question before.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes! Didn't I just say I was?" Brisid yelled back, then, regaining his composure, apologized calmly. "We must go," he stated, unsteadily standing up despite Nalynn's protests.
"What!?! Where? You were sitting, bleeding in that bed five minutes ago and you want to leave?"
Brisid paused for a second, thinking. He finally said, "Trust me. Pl...Please, Nalynn." He stumbled on the words as if they were foreign to him.
"Okay," Nalynn agreed reluctantly. They walked out of the room, and Endril saw them coming out.
"Uncle Brisid, you're okay!" Endril yelled and slowly collapsed into slumber on the floor. Nalynn looked to him and then to Brisid who had his arms raised from spellcasting.
"What did you do...?" Nalynn trailed off as realization struck her like an arrow. "You're not Brisid! You're Ebonstarr!"
She started to run away when Brisid murmured, "Amin vasa lle sinta." Nalynn stopped as her mind went blank. Brisid grabbed the feebleminded elf and pulled her out the back door and into the darkening woods beyond.
Continue to Chapter 24