Chapter 2 6


As Tizer, Sheilandri and Dae Draug were surveying the underground caverns, Tizer heard muffled shouts coming from far up the stairway.

"We have been discovered!" Dae whispered worriedly.

Glancing down the passageway where he had heard voices, Tizer looked around for some cover. However, with the exception of the lone table, the cavern was empty. Sheilandri ran to the openings of several passages and looked down them only to see hallways disappearing into blackness where her infravision reached its limit. Maer Cath flew to the ceiling of the cave and examined the stalactites. He then dove down onto Sheil's shoulder to tell her something.

"Mellonea, Maer has an idea!" Sheilandri excitedly told the two Elves. "Tizer, can you shoot an acid arrow at that large stalactite over the main entrance? It worked quite efficiently on that Roc outside the Rankled Boar Inn. If we can block the entrance, there may be time to escape down one of the passages."

"That is an excellent idea! We should upend the table to protect us from the stone shards that will surely fly in all directions." Dae added.

The three Elves positioned the table against the edge of one wall directly to the right of the main entrance. They all took cover behind the piece of furniture, which was made out of hickory and very strong.

Then they all sat with baited breath as the steps and the shouts got ever louder from the main stairwell. As they got closer, Tizer noticed that one was a female and one was male. At first, he considered that the female was Ebonstarr, but the voice was stuttering inanely, so he reconsidered.

"Do either of you hear the flapping of wings farther up the stairs?" Dae inquired.

"No, I'm afraid I don't..." Tizer replied, puzzled.

"I don't hear anything either." Sheilandri said, "Klack could not have fit into such a small passageway."

"No, but something smaller could have...." Dae pondered.

The footsteps came ever closer and Tizer started to prepare his spell. He took a pinch of powdered sulphur from his component pouch on his belt and sprinkled it over the head of one of his arrows. He then made several arcane

gestures with his hands and spoke with words, "naara'pelini'". His arrow was aglow with a green light and he put it to his bow string. As the voices became louder, he fired his arrow at the giant stalactite hanging from the ceiling and hit it at the base. After a minute or so, the three Elves saw pebbles dropping to the ground, but the large stone only moved slightly.

"It is not enough..." Sheilandri murmured.

She quickly waved her hands and spoke the words, "templa pelini'". A bolt of magical force flew from her hands to the hanging stone and it exploded in a burst of energy upon impact. As the sound of the footsteps increased in volume, the stalactite swung silently to and fro three times. Just as it released from the ceiling, the three Elves watched with horror as Nalynn and Brisid stepped into its path.


*****

"So, puppet, how does it feel to be helpless?" Ebonstarr's voice spoke to Brisid's trapped mind.

"Get out of my head, witch!" thought Brisid back in retort.

"Now, now, that's not the way to speak to your controller. I can do many things to you. Many painful things..." the drow's voice trailed off as Brisid, or rather, his body arrived at a strange tree. He saw his hand raise and push a hidden switch and a door in the tree opened revealing a steep stairway disappearing into the darkness.

Looking back he saw the befuddled Nalynn gazing around. His hand grabbed her arm and shoved her inside the tree. He followed after her, switching to his limited surface-elf infravision. He watched as Nalynn, muttering gibberish, almost walked into a wall still with her normal vision. He felt himself steer her down the cave.

As the door behind him finally shut, he heard a quiet flapping of wings. Ebonstarr hadn't noticed, and he wasn't about let her find out by dwelling on it. Instead, he concentrated on the path and saw a larger cavern up ahead. Nalynn kept mumbling, oblivious to her situation. A slight sizzle echoed throughout the cave. Someone was in that cavern. Ebonstarr didn't seem to have noticed it either--she hadn't spoken to him in quite awhile. Brisid hoped she was preoccupied. As he approached the opening, a large stalactite near the portal swung many times and broke from the ceiling. Ebonstarr's mind snapped back into him with surprise, but the surprise made her lose control of his body. Brisid quickly shoved Nalynn through the opening and jumped back to avoid the falling spike. He just hoped whomever was in the room was better than he under Ebonstarr's spell.

Ebonstarr swore in terms Brisid remembered from defeated opponents.

"Brisid," the witch said after she had calmed down, "I had planned on sedating you with a couple of darts, but your interference has changed my mind."

Brisid unwillingly turned to face a wall. He couldn't stop his hands from raising to a spell-casting position. He couldn't prevent the words of a spell from coming from memory, voiced through his mouth. And he couldn't scream as his lightning bolt deflected off the cave wall into and through his body. The only favor Ebonstarr granted him was losing consciousness.


*****

Higher up in the stairway, a magical door opened spilling a dim light into the passageway. Three dark figures appeared. They moved stealthily in the blackness, not out of necessity but of habit. They glared at the unconscious surface elf with hatred and would have slit his throat had not their orders been precise. Two hoisted the elf on their shoulders and departed. The remaining drow dropped a note onto the ground, and as he walked back through the door, it closed, plunging the cave back into darkness.

Continue to Chapter 27