Chapter 7

"Gods! Everybody goes away on adventures and the guild hall goes to the nine hells!" Vailant stood, arms crossed, looking at the dirty plates on the main hall table. Armful by precarious armful, the Elf moved the plates to the washbasin. Sweat dripped off his forehead as he furiously scrubbed the dried food from the plates. He was so enraptured with the task that he did not notice a dark face peering at him through a window.

Aerrellun stared through the window cautiously. The lone Elf, so caught up in his work, would make an easy target. Nothing, however, would be gained by taking such a hostage. Not yet. Aerrellun began to move away when he noticed a female Elf walk into the room. When she saw Vailant hard at work, she quietly snuck up behind him.

"Guess who!" she said, her hands held over the other Elf's eyes.

"Umm... a dracolich?"

"No, silly Vailant! How could you ever mistake my beautiful voice for that of a dracolich?"

"Do you really want me to answer that question, Coriadae?" Vailant asked, an evil grin on his face.

"Hmm, you'd better not. So why are you washing the dishes, toror?"

"It seems everybody has gone on adventures of all sorts. Randow and Dina went to Red Larch for one of Tizer's missions. Riklaun and Tizer are... somewhere. Brisid went with Taelsin to Neverwinter. Strongbow, Nalynn and Lyrianda are... east somewhere." Aerrellun carefully memorized the many names he heard.

"And poor Vail is left all by his lonesome?" purred Cori.

"Exactly!" Vailant said eagerly.

"Well, don't you worry! Cori will take care of you." The woman held Vail's head in her hands and batted her eyelashes at him.

"How will you take care of me?" Vailant asked innocently. A few seconds later thoughts crashed together in the young Elf's mind, and his smile dropped. "Umm... On second thought, I think I can take care of myself."

The female dropped her hands to her side and whined in mock frustration, "Damn, no one flirts with me anymore now that I'm married! Oh well, I'm going to the hall. Maybe I can flirt with someone there.

"Namaarie, Vailant. You don't know what you just missed," she teased, leeringly looking at the embarrased Elf.

Aerrellun heard someone approaching through the trees. Silently, the rogue left the guild hall through the way he had come. He had gained enough information for the day. Now it was time to plan.

The two Elves walked along casually. Their work had just begun, but due to the precise nature of it, it was already moving by itself. Laedrynn watched the two Elves carefully, and noted where they were going. Laedrynn leapt off one tree and landed on another, well out of earshot of the two impostors. He kept his distance from them.

"All we need to do now, Master K'ellz is to contact her." Strongbow said.

"Perhaps she will contact us, Master Rimellyn." Tizer said. "We will find her and tell her the good news. The pair walked along and stopped at a thicket. Strongbow pushed through and pressed a spot on the rock face. The thicket seemed to widen and open up to reveal a passage.

"After you, Master K'ellz." He said.

The impostor named Tizer smiled and stepped into the opening. He stopped and his ears perked up. "Wait!"

A drider leapt out and hit the Elf full in the chest. Pinning the impostor to the ground, the drider lifted its sword for a final killing blow. "At lasssst I have theee, Tizzzzer," it said. Tizer could not move and was struggling underneath the drider.

Strongbow pulled out a dagger and slid up behind the drider. He was about to take his shot when the drider whipped its head around and glared at the Elf. The white hair was unkempt and the eyes glowed a deep eerie red. "Dosssss doesss not know you, but if you are in league with Tizzzer, you will die assss well."

The drider leapt off of Tizer and toward Strongbow. Tizer rolled away and stood in a fighting stance. Strongbow sidestepped and flashed his dagger. "Hold! We are not who you think we are, Mistress Ebon." Rimellyn said.

Ebonstarr leapt at Strongbow, sword flashing in a wild arc. Rimellyn easily parried the bow and moved to the side. "Dossss doesssss not care who you are, you will die." She said, baring her white fangs. She quickly moved her hands in an arc. Flame spread out from them and Rimellyn leapt back.

"No! Do not attack us, Mistress Ebonstarr, We are from Clan A'rkaltin We heard of your plight and have come to help." Rimellyn said. Ebonstarr held back a bit. Thinking of this news. "That's right. Master K'ellz and I have already started bringing you back into favor with Lloth. Even now, the Elves of Neverwinter are being regarded as the enemy."

K'ellz looked to Ebonstarr. "These are just disguises that we have used. Come, look at what we have done already." Ebonstarr headed over to K'ellz. K'ellz pulled out a small globe. He ran his hand over it and the globe started glowing.

"If thissss isssss ssssome kind of trick, Dossss will kill you anyway." Ebonstarr looked into the globe and saw the ensuing battle. She watched the scene unfold in front of her.

"Dosssss did thisss?" Ebonstarr asked.

"For your glory, Mistress Ebon." K'ellz said. "We are here to return you to favor of Lloth. Our Matron has deemed it worthy to seek you out. We live to serve you, Mistress Ebonstarr." Ebonstarr looked at the two Elves standing before her. She smiled a big evil grin, her plan of destroying Nalynn and Riklaun would now come to light.

Laedrynn watched as the drow talked. When had heard enough, he returned to where he left the others. Laedrynn filled them in on the situation.

"A drider witch they called 'Mistress Ebon?'" Randow said, "Could it possibly be Ebonstarr? We need to get this news to Riklaun and fast." Randow looked over to Dina. "Can you travel?"

"Aye, but not too fast," Dinalqua said.

"Fortunately, lle need not travel by foot. Amin retrieved the horses from stables," the Wild Elf said and clicked his tongue. Four saddled horses trotted into the Elves' clearing.

"Great, Laedrynn!" Randow praised. Camris watched the Elves gather their packs together and looked to the south.

"The clouds are getting thicker over Red Larch." Camris explained. "That shadow attack is not the worst of things to come I fear." He hefted his bag and laid it over his horse shoulder.

"Aye, mellonea, amin fear this." Laedrynn said. They set out on the trail that would take them to Longsaddle, and help.

As dense clouds moved closer to the town, darkness settled in over Triboar. Riklaun walked along the trail towards the Drunken Druid inn. A day had passed since their parting with Rayella and Lightning; travel had been slow following the light trail they hoped Jem Val'Istar had left. Lightning cracked overhead, lighting up the underside of the clouds. It splayed over the dark ridges and bumps of the clouds like a spider web.

"We better hurry Edan, before we get soaked." The two Elves hurried along and finally got to the inn. The sky was darkening even further; if it continued at this rate, it would seem like midnight instead of early afternoon. As they arrived at the inn they noticed that the town was silent. The inn was no different. There was not a soul around. Several tables were overturned, and there was blood on the floor.

Edan drew his sword and moved into a defensive stance. "What has happened here?" Edan asked, his eyes darting around the room. Riklaun knelt down to take a look at the blood.

"This blood is fresh. At the most, only an hour old. There seems to have been a scuffle here, possibly death. " Rik started to stand, but stopped and picked up a strangely shaped piece of wood.

"Camris," he read an ingraving on the object, one end of which had been splintered. Grunting in wonder, the Elf returned the wooden handle, stood and walked around a table to one of the back rooms.

There was a stench coming from the last room. Riklaun pulled out Turang his magical scimitar. He edged up towards the doorway. There was a loud crash of thunder and the building lit up brightly. Riklaun stood by the doorway and checked for sounds. He heard none and reached for the doorknob.

"Rik!" Edan yelled faintly, "Come out here." Riklaun turned from the doorway and went back out to the foyer. Edan was peering out one of the windows. "I saw movement outside in the street. Something is out there." Riklaun went up to a window and peeked out. He did not see anything with his normal vision so he let his eyes adjust to the infrared spectrum.

"I do not see anything," Rik said. At that moment, lightning decided to strike just north of the edge of town. The street lit up and Riklaun saw a figure moving in the street, just before he went blind. "Aaauugghh." Riklaun staggered back a bit covering his eyes.

Edan rushed over to him. "Are you okay, mellonamin?" Riklaun shook his head and uncovered his eyes. He looked at Edan and his eyes still held an eerie red glow. He shook his head a gain to clear his mind. "Ed' i'ear ar' elenea, Tanya karna harwa!"

Riklaun's vision was still impaired, but was slowly returning to normal. "I... saw... something...," Rik said. His vision had not yet completely cleared. Edan moved to the door.

"I'm going to check it out." He opened the door and stepped into the street.

"No!" Rik yelled after Edan. He shook his head again and stood. Grabbing his scimitar, he headed out the door. Riklaun saw Edan out in the town square. He was looking around for something. Riklaun sprinted up to him. "We need to get inside. It's dangerous out here. This storm is like no other I've seen."

Edan, ignoring Riklaun's warning, spied some tracks. "Look! Bipedal tracks. And something bigger, with eight legs!"

'What did you say?" Rik asked. He knelt down to inspect the tracks. "Drider tracks.." He looked up in the direction that the tracks were going. A flash of lightning illuminated the area and he saw the clear outline of a drider down the empty road.

Riklaun stood and chanted defensive spells. Edan saw the drider and started in its direction. "I'll get it." He broke into a run towards the beast.

Riklaun saw Edan run towards the beast. "No!" He chased Edan down the street. The drider backed up and disappeared into the shadow of a building.

"There! There are the Elves!" Came a cry from behind them. "They're trying to escape!" At that moment a human burst out in front of them and took a swing with a mace. Edan saw the mace come but did not have time to duck. He rolled with the hit as the mace collided with his cheek. He spun and landed on the ground.

"They are the ones who killed poor Sander!" Rik heard. He spun around and saw several other humans come out behind them. He twirled and blocked a blow that would have crushed his skull. He kicked the man in front of him hard. Hard enough to knock the human back and drop the mace.

"We did nothing!" Rik yelled. Riklaun saw that Edan was slowly getting up. He began another chant, one that would take them away from the growing mob. "Irma Haeann..." A rock bounced off Rik's head disrupting the spell.

"Don't let them use their foul magic!" The mob pressed in. They were armed with clubs, table legs, swords--anything that could be used as a weapon. Riklaun and Edan stood back to back. They looked at one another and nodded.

Riklaun leapt to one side and hollered out, "Braggolach tel'llach!" He dropped it directly upon them. The globe both Elves had put up saved them from the scorching flames. The crowd was disrupted and many fell back, clutching burns. "Do not continue! We did not kill this Sander you speak of. You will leave us no choice."

The crowd waited, just out of reach of another suicide fireball. Riklaun felt something tug at his consciousness. He felt his magic wane. He turned to Edan. "Something is happening, my globe just came down." Edan acknowledged this grim fact with a nod. "Mine too. There must be a mage among them."

"Get them! They have no magic!" One of the humans in the back yelled. The crowd surged in on the Elves. Several humans came up to Riklaun, swinging maces. With his Megil'tura, Swordmaster skills, he easily parried the sloppy swings. But he realized too late that the first human who had approached was skilled. A club fell heavily on the back of his head. Riklaun dropped to one knee and felt wetness on the back of his head. He looked over towards Edan and noticed the Elf was laying on the ground in a growing pool of blood.

"Kill him!" Came a cry and a swing of a mace. Rik's sword was smashed from his hand.

"Take his pointed ears off!" Riklaun put up an arm and felt bone give way as another mace collided with it.

"Crush his skull!" Riklaun winced as he felt ribs break.

"Kill the Grey Company!" Riklaun did not feel the next blow, as pain already wracked his body.

"No, make him an example! An example that no Elf is wanted around here!" Another mace hit Riklaun, but he was already unconscious. So he did not see the two humans who had started the mob walk away from the crowd and slide into the darkness.

Continue to Chapter 8