As the hour drew near, Riklaun saw only one who wished the return of the noble Braldt2. Nalynn stood beside, waiting for word of others. When the appointed hour came, the two friends set out to find him. They traveled east towards Nightsedge. The tracks that Riklaun had been following led them in this direction. As they passed through Floodblest, the tracks led into the well, and also around it. Nalynn bade Riklaun to check the well.
Rik and Nalynn went down into the well and were beset upon by some bugbears and a carrion crawler. Nalynn did not see them coming and the crawler hit her as she was picking a door's lock. Two fireballs stopped the rest of them from coming any closer. Silently, they walked deeper into the caverns following the footprints. They used infravision when possible to hide their movements. Several fights later they came upon a mage who commanded them to leave or die. Before they could interrogate him, his guards attacked. He fled through a secret door. The mage had disappeared and could not be found. The trail had turned cold.
Riklaun and Nalynn set out again towards Nightsedge with several bands of orcs trying to stop them from their quest. Even though their number was two, and the orcs numbered in the dozens, some well-placed spells equaled the fight. They finally got to Nightsedge and to an inn. Riklaun told Nalynn to rest there while he checked out a dragon sighting nearby. She did not wish to be left alone in this godforsaken place and followed him. Riklaun trailed two black dragons to their lair and fought them.
The dragons proved to be very tough and had Nalynn gasping for breath as she hid behind a tree bandaging her wounds. The Dragons surrounded Riklaun and spit their foul acid onto him. Returning the favor, he threw a fireball into them catching them off guard. They went down with one shot. Then Gorgamiras flew down and chilled the air. If it were not for quick thinking, Riklaun would be dead, or even worse, stone. The gorgamiras was caught in a lightning bolt which staggered one. Disoriented, it breathed on its companion, utterly obliterating him. As it still reeled, Rik threw several magic missiles into it, slaying it. The two friends limped to the inn tired and weak. They decided to rest in the town and try to get some information from the townspeople.
Nalynn looked up from her morning repast, the Falcon close by her side. A paper
appeared out of thin air and fluttered down onto the table where she sat. She
saw the writing and her interest was immediately piqued as she saw the name of
Braldt2 inscribed upon it. "Could this, at long last, be the sign I seek"
she posited. Nalynn opened and read the letter:
It has been said in legend, that if a man were to have died without fulfilling a life's dream or had the want to transcend life and death itself, he could be delivered back to the Earth in the company of a Raven to fulfill his deathwish. Such is the case. Do not attempt to contact me further; such attempts shall doubtless prove futile. My untimely death has rent a hole in the soul of my love, and thus in my own heart. The bond of love has been broken, but shall not go unpunished. Here is my final tale:
Twas a clear night, crisp with the excitement of an Autumn eve. I was traveling in the company of my closest male kindred, Dreemknight and Riklaun. We sought not adventure this night, but peace. Our task of keeping the peace seemingly fulfilled to our best this night, we strolled along the Neverwinter River on the outskirts of the Woods. Alas, being the brave souls we were, a night of peace would not content. Dreemknight elected to journey to Nightsedge and try his luck in the gambling halls, while I ventured with Riklaun into the woods to hunt such vile creatures as can be found there. I shall not dwell on these times--they are unimportant. As we finished up a bloody night in the endless battle for good, we came to a bridge and decided to forsake our cloaks and cleanse our wounds in the brook nearby. Such frolicking came to a sudden end as a group of bridge trolls came upon us.
Unarmed except for our minds, they provided quite a challenge, or would for an inexperienced party. Our spells put them to a quick and quite surprising end. All but one were slain by a powerful fireball of my own creation. As the expected spell was brought forth from Riklaun's lips, I watched the troll freeze, held in his tracks. The beam died out slowly...as another was brought forth....aimed at my own breast! As I stood there, helpless, I thought, "Riklaun can't get enough of getting me wet....Now he must catch me undefended."
Gazing at my friend, I beheld not the expected mischievous grin, but a mask of seriousness. Striding to his belongings along shore, he sifted through until he found what he was looking for. It was small, but I gasped for all my life when I beheld what it was...the mythical Drow Dagger of Infinite Slaying. "More trolls perchance?" I wondered, "Why did he choose that weapon for such enemies, it is only useful for the True Death of those whom its evil spirits can touch fully..."
I can attest to the evil of its full touch as it was plunged into my breast. The pained look of my dear friend as he did such a bloodless deed has been worn into my memory forever. As I fell, looking deep into what life was to come next for me, I heard him mutter something about birth, destiny, and sacrifice.
I apologize that I cannot give the full details of that night, the pure unadulterated shock that it caused me is all that is left for me, now and forever. Questions spin the weave in this nothingness, doubtless I shall never know the answer to them. My deed is done here, I leave this bloody burden in your hands. The binds of death that grip me only allow me to enter this world so far, I doubt I have the strength to deliver another message. It is up to you that this deed not go unpunished. The good elves in the Grey Company and those Warriors of Peace that I have known, or are known to my love. I yearn for eternal rest, and beg of thee to do what you must to make right what has been wronged. Nalynn my love, persevere. If I can bear to have it done, you can bear to live on until such natural means would bring us together again. If he is truly evil at heart, drow through and through, then I must not be the only one wronged by Riklaun. He has doubtless sneaked his blade into backs other than mine, and fought for them as you would for me. He was a most convincing friend, I can hardly believe....
My last wish is that all his wrongs toward myself and others be put right, regardless of cost. He was a cloaked evil before.... Quoth the Raven....nevermore..........
She read this missive of Ravenlore, puzzled by what Braldt had communicated as his apparent last words. "Riklaun??? A traitor??? Killed my beloved husband? No! It cannot be. It must not be true. The brave Riklaun, who has, for so many days and nights provided me comfort in my loneliness and led me through strange lands??? This must be a false letter. Who could write such terrible things about our dear friend?"
Furious, she crumpled the note and threw it into the fire. As the parchment began to burn, an eerie blue glow emanated from the paper, and a plume of otherworldly smoke escaped then rose into the air like a soul reaching for the heavens above. She watched in amazement and a most unsettling shiver beset her spine.
"Did you see that?" She asked the Falcon. The Falcon nodded in silent assent. A deep sense of foreboding fell over Nalynn as she pondered the message from beyond. "What trickery and treachery are afoot here?"
But she could not, nay, would not believe that Riklaun had anything to do with her husband's disappearance. It was too preposterous; it was the unthinkable. She quickly struggled to push the images from her consciousness. She returned to her breakfast, but it was now cold and tasteless as the seeds of suspicion had been sown.
Later in the day, Riklaun and Lyanna stood in the brisk winds of the Nightsedge woods. "I fear that my sister cannot be here tonight." She said. "She is too distraught to continue on." Lyanna bundled her cloak up closer to her body. She then turned from Riklaun and re-checked her disguise. Braldt would be glad she had strayed Riklaun from the truth. "Fear not Lyanna, we shall find him. Nalynn would be proud that so many people have come to her aid." Riklaun said. "Let us make haste. He cannot be far."
Riklaun and Lyanna ventured forth towards the Nightsedge caverns. As they walked towards the Underdark, they were besieged by several Manticores. Lyanna stayed back, stating that she was not too well skilled in the fighting art. A couple of fireballs took out the Manticores. Riklaun continued down the road towards the caverns. A figure stood upon the road ahead. The knight gleamed in the chill air.
"Hail, Riklaun." He said. "You may not remember me, but you led me into the Warriors of Peace encampment when I needed a place to stay. Now that they are disbanded and their leader is gone, I have joined the Seekers. I have come to join you in your quest to search for Braldt2. Since his disappearance, the guild has fallen to hard times. The members are mostly in a drunken state and the tavern is closed down. I fear none of the members are willing to find him, rather letting him die in the unknowns. I am not like that. I know a good friend when I see him. We shall find him if it takes us to the ends of Toril."
"Zarn1982, I am glad to see you." Riklaun said. "We are glad that someone could join us now. Dark times are ahead and we need a beacon of light."
"Zarn, I am Lyanna, Sister of Nalynn." Lyanna said. "She is too distraught to be here tonight."
"Well met indeed fair lady." Zarn said. "Let us continue. Time is short."
The three adventurers followed the trail towards the caverns. Zarn slipped up to Lyanna as Riklaun took point. "I have heard Riklaun may have killed Braldt2" he whispered. "Is this true? Could our friend have turned evil?"
"I do not know, But I intend to find out. That is why I am disguised." Nalynn said.
As they approached the caves, a large band of orcs came at them from all sides. Riklaun launched two fireballs, one to each side. The orcs were decimated and fleeing into the woods. Riklaun laughed. A look of shock crossed Zarn's face. Zarn started to edge back towards the tree line, hoping to get away from the elf. Riklaun spun around and faced him. Zarn tripped over a branch and fell backwards. Riklaun laughed evilly as he started to cast a spell. Nalynn's face whitened.
"So you did kill him! How could you?!" She yelled as she pulled a dagger out, in hopes to backstab him. Riklaun's concentration was broken and the spell fizzled. He turned towards Nalynn and said one word. She froze in her tracks. "Poor Nalynn, I knew all along that it was you. You wished to lull me into a false sense of security, but it was I who lulled you." He turned towards Zarn but he was no where to be found. "Cowards, all. May Lloth have mercy on your souls..."
Riklaun turned back to Nalynn and pulled out the ancient drow artifact. He plunged the Drow Dagger of Infinite Slaying into her breast. Riklaun turned and walked into the woods. Little did he know that Zarn was watching from behind a tree.
Continue to Chapter 3