Shrouded in darkness, the little halfling scurried along the damp passage. Eyes darting left, then right, he stepped from the shadow he was in and ran across to the other side of the passage. Clutching a scroll case to his chest, he patted his dagger in reassurance.
"I must get this to my sister in Neverwinter," the halfling said. "Nal must know."
Picking up his pace some more, he moved down the passage. He came upon a juncture in the passage. Looking left down the second passage he saw nothing. He turned right and saw nothing as well. He crouched low and sprinted across the juncture. His foot caught on a stone and he tripped. The halfling fell headlong into a puddle and was soaked. He laid still for what seemed like ages. When he felt that no one heard, he got up and checked his belongings.
"Good. The scroll is still intact" he said.
"As are you, morsel!"
The halfling looked up in horror as a drider reared back. As he fumbled to get out his dagger, the drider dropped down on him. "Think that can hurt me?" the drider said. The Halfling stared into the face of the drider, paralyzed in fear.
"Think again..." Ebonstarr said as she drove her sword through the halfling's body. She lifted her sword, with the halfling still attached. He slid down the sword and she threw him against the wall. A sickening splat was heard down the passage. Ebonstarr wrapped her six back legs around the dead halfling and proceeded to spin a cocoon around him. She spied the scroll laying the water and picked it up.
"Nalynn...." She hissed.
Only something as momentous as Riklaun's return from the cottage could coax Brisid from his seclusion, as he fretted over recent romantic troubles. He agreed to accompany Nalynn and Riklaun on a casual jaunt through the realms. The three Elves laughed and fought the occasional skirmish as they wandered along, not paying much attention to their direction as they let Corellon guide them wherever he saw fit. So it was a surprise when they found themselves standing outside an abandoned building - the old Keep which once housed the Warriors of Peace, a guild long absent from the realms. It was a forlorn structure, suffering the ravages of time and weather.
"This is where you once lived, Nalynn, when first we met." Whispered Riklaun.
Nalynn frowned as she gazed at the ruins -- something about the place beckoned to her. A memory so long forgotten, that she couldn't quite grasp its substance. The two Elves watched as she mounted the steps and stepped through the entrance. Thieves had long ago broken through the door and plundered the fortress. Following her into the building, they watched as she inspected the place, running her hands over the fine but decaying woodwork, staring at the ruined tapestries and furniture. As if in a trance, she walked over to the stone fireplace, her fingers searching for something.
"Nalynn, you should be careful. This place is falling apart," Brisid admonished her.
Ignoring his comments, her hand came to rest on an oddly jutted stone which protruded ever so slightly out from the otherwise flush surface of the facade. She grasped the stone and pulled; the stone dislodged from the wall, revealing a dark hole. She reached in and removed a small book from its hiding place. Riklaun and Brisid walked up to inspect her treasure which had escaped the ravages of the past.
Opening the book, she saw handwriting - a delicate script, beautifully executed. "Why, it's a diary," she exclaimed. She leafed through the book, then went back to the first page. There was an inscription. "To My Beloved Braldt on our Wedding Day, from your loving wife, Nalynn" it read. She paled momentarily as she reread those words.
Quickly scanning the first few pages, she said, "This appears to be a
diary of events leading up to our marriage," she explained. "Perhaps
now I will learn the story of our time together." She brushed off a chair
and sat down. While Riklaun and Brisid continued to explore, she read on.
She read through the entries slowly, relishing the information this small book contained.
"I met you today. The most handsome, beautiful Elf ever to cross my path. Even as I sit here writing, your bluer than blue eyes haunt me. And I hear your voice, feel your presence, though we parted several hours ago." She went forward a few pages.
"I've only known you a few weeks, I feel that you are the One for me. Who would have thought that an Elf would take such interest in a mere halfling such as I? Am I worthy of your attentions? I hope so, for I feel myself falling hopelessly in love. I ache when you aren't with me. My thoughts are constantly about you - I neglect my duties here among the Warriors of Peace." A warm wind caressed her face, she started at its touch for it felt like a loving hand on her cheek.
"You took me to Triboar today. It was an arduous journey, my love. Do I dare say it? 'My Love'? You don't even know the depth of my feelings yet; I keep them hidden for I know not if you feel the same way. But here I sit, in my room at the Inn here in Triboar. You are in the room across the hall. How I long to knock on your door. To share your company and perhaps even your bed." She flushed as a memory deep in her heart swelled.
"After our rest in Triboar, you took me deep into the Neverwinter Woods. Again, the journey was perilous. In a beautiful glen, you knelt down and asked for my hand in marriage! My heart sings with a joy I've never known! You love me! And the ring you gave me as a token of our betrothal, it's so beautiful! The most precious gift I've ever owned. My love, (yes, I can say it openly now) you have made me so happy and proud."
She closed her eyes as the memories burst forth in waves of deep emotion. The tears were coming now, as the pain and happiness intermingled in her mind. She looked up as Riklaun and Brisid entered the room.
"Riklaun!" she cried "I remember it all now! Braldt, the wedding, my transformation. It's all as clear as if it happened yesterday! And that witch Ebonstarr!" As she mentioned the drow's name, Nalynn's voice became darker. "She murdered my husband! She must be made to pay for her treachery and evil. She and all the minions of Lloth!"
Nalynn trembled with excitement as she read excerpts of her diary to the two Elves. When she finished she held up the fragile book. "This is a record of my previous life, mellonea. Now I understand everything."
"That is great, Nalynn!" said Brisid.
"Aye, I was worried you would never regain your memories, but now my fears are dispelled." He squeezed Nalynn in a tight hug. As they broke the embrace, a sparkle coming from the hole in the wall caught Nalynn's eye. She reached into the opening and gingerly pulled out a gold necklace. A large black gem hung on the chain, sparkling in the light.
"Quite a stone there, Nalynn," Brisid remarked.
"An onyx. Perhaps Braldt gave this to me." She hugged the jewel to her chest for a second and then looped the chain over her neck. "How do I look?" She asked, gesturing to the necklace.
"Beautiful!" commented Riklaun. Nalynn smiled and peered into the hole, searching for more treasures. As she reached into the opening, the Elves heard the walls groaning. Dust and pebbles fell from the ceiling. Larger stones began falling to the floor. A heavy ceiling timber snapped, narrowly missing Nalynn on its descent to the ground.
"The building's collapsing! We must leave now!" Riklaun shouted, pushing Nalynn ahead of him out of the room. The Elves sprinted down the hallway and exited the building just before the upper floors fell into the ground floor. The high stone walls crumbled, disappearing into the growing dust cloud. The Elves watched at a safe distance as the once-proud structure crashed down into the basements. After many minutes of tumbling stones, the dust cloud thinned, allowing the rubble to be seen.
Nalynn closed her eyes and gripped her diary tightly to her breast, thankful
the building had survived long enough for the book's recovery. The three Elves
walked away from the ruined building into the woods.
For a brief second, the shadow envisioned a stone building crumbling. Dust
filled the air obscuring the image as the vision ended. A growl of frustration
silenced the forest animals. Crumpled foliage flexed upwards as a crushing
weight left them. Before the stems had fully risen, though, the leaves withered
brown, dropping away to death.
Strongbow sat in his study, the redwood walls softly glowing from the sunlight streaming through the windows of the cozy room. The smell of the rosy wood always eased his mind making it an ideal place to study and read, or just relax and think. The ancient tome in front of him held his attention however, as he pored over page after page of the knowledge contained within, coming ever closer to understanding what it was he sought there. He looked up for a moment, gazing out the window at the cloudless azure sky, it was a beautiful day indeed. Reaching out, he picked up the glass of Elven wine sitting on the desk, and taking a sip, smiled at the contentment the room always brought him. He set the glass down, and started to return to his studies when the room began to darken. The light continued to fade rapidly, and a feeling of great unease swept over him like none he had felt before.
Strongbow could barely see as he stood to go to the window--something was
terribly wrong! No clouds, however thick, could cause such an absence of light!
But as he reached the window, the darkness began to thin, the light returned,
and the feeling of gloom left him as quickly as it had come. All was as it had
been just moments before. Still there was not a cloud in the sky.
Continue to Chapter 1