Chapter 2 9

Tizer and Sheilandri watched in abject horror as Dae Draug burst into a ball of flame. They shielded themselves behind the upturned table they had used to block the falling debris. When all was finished, there was no trace of Dae. Nalynn was still unconscious, battling with something unknown to her companions.

The two Elves propped Nalynn up against the wall with their packs and left their cover to examine the room. The stalactite that had fallen from the ceiling almost completely blocked the entrance to the cavern. Tizer looked down each of the corridors that branched off from the room they were standing in. As he was surverying the area, Sheil heard the quiet flutter of wings coming from the other side of the rock pile. She waved Tizer over and they approached the great mound of stones.

Cautiously, they peered through the crack that was left at the top of the entry-way. Tizer jumped back, shocked to see his mellonea standing on the other side of the rocks. "Vedui' Rik! How did you ever find us??" Tizer exclaimed.

"'Twas the work of this wonderful black bird. He led us to the tree and we figured it out from there." Riklaun responded.

"We must remove these rocks so the three of you can come through. Let me take care of it. Stand clear," Sheil added with a wink.

Riklaun, Starrbolt, and Modar walked several yards up the stairs and around a corner. After hearing the word from Starrbolt, Sheil made a few quick gestures with her hands and a powerful gust of wind burst through the pile of rocks. When the dust cleared, the doorway was once again clear and the floor was strewn with shards of stone. The three Elves up the passage entered the large cavern to find the walls blackened around the edge of one hallway.

"Something powerful caused the charring of that wall... Did you witness it, Tizer?" Modar inquired.

"Yes. I did have the displeasure... This eve an Elf of great integrity and bravery was lost. Dae Draug sacrificed his own life to save us from the Drow horde." Tizer replied sadly. As the five Elves were speaking, a groggy Nalynn approached them slowly.

Riklaun, who was the first to see her exclaimed, "Etriel Nalynn! How glad I am to see you!"

"Vedui' Riklaun..... and Modar and Brisid. Ohhh.... my head hurts terribly." Nalynn mumbled.

"Well, now that we are all awake and somewhat aware, what shall we do?" Tizer asked.

"Brisid, where is he?!" Nalynn asked, suddenly wide awake. Riklaun grimly handed the note he had found to Nalynn. As she read it, her eyes widened and she urgently said, "We must find him! He is in great danger!"

Sheilandri was not sure, but she thought she saw a strange flickering in Nalynn's eyes. However, she remained silent so as not to cause trouble. The group of Elves could not see very far down any of the corridors branching off from the main cavern. However, there were a variety of sounds coming from each direction.

"We must decide where to go before another party of Drow discover our presence." Tizer whispered.

"We'll take the left corridor" Riklaun decided. Nodding his accord, Tizer led them on. "Brisid must be found. I know he's here somewhere -- he is sure to have left us a sign."

The band of elves made their way down the dank, dark corridors. The sounds they heard alternately grew louder and then ebbed -- tortured, desperate sounds they were. Sheilandri shuddered, not wishing to know what evil was being perpetrated to cause such anguished cries. She cast a wary glance at Nalynn who followed along with the troop. "What was that strange flicker I saw?" she wondered to herself.

For her own part, Nalynn walked along in silence, the memories of Ebonstarr's pleasures and torments still strong in her mind. She sensed a presence, but was unable to detect its location. "Yessss, fair lady" a voice whispered in her ear, "I have many such pleasures and pains to share with thee." It was a repulsive voice and some inner sense recoiled at its sound.

As Riklaun and Tizer forged ahead, a foreboding overtook them. "Danger is near Tizer, we must be prepared," Riklaun warned. "The witch is most treacherous." Nalynn followed behind them with Sheilandri bringing up the rear, a growing dread gnawed at her stomach. They reached another fork in the underground maze; the elves paused to get their bearings. Silently, Riklaun pointed to the right. He took a step forward. A snap echoed through the corridor as a tripwire broke, and the wall to their left disintegrated revealing a horde of Fire Elementals and Ogre Mages.

They drew their weapons and prepared to fight. A fiery glow erupted in Nalynn's eyes. She whirled and drew her sword, holding it against Sheilandri's breast. "One step closer and the she-elf dies!" she snarled.

"Ebonstarr! Vile witch!" Riklaun hissed as he and Tizer closed ranks. The Elementals surrounded them as they quickly cast their globes.

"Go ahead, puny elves, your globes will not save you here. These caverns have sapped your energy and strength! Fight if you must, but lose you will."

"Riklaun, don't fight her." Nalynn said, struggling to free herself of the other who possessed her mind and body. "Silence, feeble elf!" the witch sneered as she reasserted her claim of the elf's body. "Now, shall we all go ahead into my chambers below?"

Facing overwhelming odds, Riklaun nodded to the other elves to sheath thier swords. Solemnly they walked, Nalynn cautiously poking her sword into Shiel's side. They decided it was better to visit Ebonstarr before anymore elves died.

Continue to Chapter 30