The Full story in one long thread as it will be (except some editing and renders) When it goes E-Book. Enjoy.
And in the beginning we have the prologue…
“... You Jaderail Enos Sunder are now deemed traitor to we Drow. From this night, the night we free you into the upper realm, your name shall only be enemy. If you return to the Underdark you shall be destroyed. The path we traveled these 30 days to bring you above shall be watched and guarded. In another 30 days we will send forth a raiding party of great might, if you are found in their night of destruction you shall be destroyed. May the ever changing seasons and sudden weather drive you to madness. May the ungodly sun blind you, may its heat burn your skin to the bone. This has been decreed by the Goddess Herself, may she always watch over us, and all the great houses have denounced you. On this night you are as the dead.”
There was a chill wind blowing here on this night, open to the sky as I now was. The sound of parchment crinkling was as subtle as the wind while the Priest rolled the official proclamation back up, a low evil chuckle coming from deep in his throat. “Well, that’s done. Now the soothsayers can truly say that we did our duties.”, he says into the darkness. The Sound of cold steel being drawn echos from within the cave.
Cold laughter chases me down the mountain.
The Priest’s magic is weak, I had studied him on our long trek from my homeland, his two guards are young, and more than able to put a end to my days. So I run, I run like all of the nine hell’s are on my heels. The Priest soon fell behind, his age telling, but I barely gained any head on those blood thirsty guards of his. How I made it off the mountain and into the forest below only the elder Gods know.
I ran until I could not run any longer. I ran down a cold mountain stream, hoping to hide my trail from my pursers. I used the deep moon shadows under the trees to hide myself. Nothing I did seemed to help. Every time I stopped to catch my breath, these two were not far behind. Every time I paused in my flight they gained just that much more on me. I was weakened from weeks of poor rations, they are younger and well feed. I was making rash decisions on the run, they were simply being methodical and relentless. My lead had faded to nothing, only the shadows were left as a defense to me now. Soon I would be spotted, that was clear to me if not yet to them. Soon death would visit this night, and the odds were not in my favor. I do not fear death, but I do not welcome it either.
Slow deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Become stillness, one with the tree, I am not here only the tree exists. Pick a foe. The one to the right. Yes, closer, closer, become as the deep dark places, still as death until just the right moment.
React! Flow into rock across the water, and boulder takes breath. Stop thinking flow as trained too do, now into bat swoops the night…
... and the sword fills my hand. Flow into Mantacore Sting, and the heart stops. Keep moving, the other surely heard the grunt of air and the body thump into the ground. Free the blade, use the tree as a shield, keep it between myself and him until I’m ready. Deep slow breaths. Assume a challenge stance, the Scorpion ready to strike. No choice this time, now I will have to fight for my life.
Now comes the end. Either I survive this night or he does. One way or the other it is a ending. They planned my end up on the mountainside, to leave my body open to the elements and whatever beasts that walk this world outside the under realms. They planned not only to remove me from the Underdark but to set my soul free far from the passages and caverns my inner self would find comforting. Now I face that end.
I hold my pose as he spots me. I reach for the inner peace my masters taught me all warriors feel, thought must become instinct. Action and reaction must flow, thinking will slow my sword hand. The sword will guide my hand more than my hand will guide the sword. Tonight skill is all that will tell. Were my masters better than those of the clergy? Will the last son of house Sunderian stand or fall? All this flashes through my mind as he bellows a challenge of his own and charges. I hold my pose, I seek my emptiness. I seek to become only the sword.
With a clash of steel on steel I meet his first blow. The strength of it shocks my arm and drives me back. I hold my calm, that inner thing that lets me react without thought. He rages at me. Demands that a traitor such as I should accept my fate. I use the time to gather my strength as the feeling returns to my punished arm.
He feints several times, I avoid and block all his blows. I stay silent, he rages on. My strength is at its limits and he can tell. He gloats about how my death will raise him in the eyes of the Dark Queen. I watch his every move, I watch for those subtle tell tells that will allow me to avoid his next attack.
It dawns on me, his tactic is to wear me down. To give me just enough time to believe I can stand against him as he slowly but surely overcomes me. His blows are not even at full power any longer. They are simply to force my strength lower as I defend myself. I must find a way to turn the tides soon. I block yet another attack, I can see no weakness in his style. I see no opening…
He is skilled, he handles his weapon well, that I must admit, but disciplined he is not. Only a fool would try to push is foe into a rage with his words. I try to ignore his raging mouth full of venom and spite as we circle each other looking for a weakness in each others defenses. Try as I might I soon fail, I am not a traitor to my people. I am not a failure to my house, and I will not lay down and die. He pushes me too far. Rage floods me. I seem to drop into some black place, only he and I exist. In this darkness I find that perfect nothing the masters spoke of so often, our blades begin a dance of death as not seen here before on this night.
The black void seems to guide my sword arm, I am no longer thinking in forms and counter forms. I strike out as my will guides me, his blows are soon all defensive. He is no longer the aggressor with the upper hand, facing a defeated foe. I slice my way into his defenses, I send his blade into positions that leave him open for longer periods. He is no longer raging at me…
There! Now It comes. That one opening I had maneuvered him into. I strike out with all my rage, my rage adding strength to the blow. The air is perfumed with the smell of warm blood…
He seems stunned for but a moment, then collapses at my feet. The rage fades from me, with this goes that void of nothing. All around me I notice for the first time this night the sounds of the night. The low singing of some night insects or maybe other creatures of this upper world. I feel for the first time in my life totally alone. I sink to my knees, all my energy spent. Alone here in a new world, but alive. I do not know how long I stayed down on my knees, it seemed to last forever to me in my despair.
The singing of what must be some sun heralding bird brought me to myself. I drag his body over to lay beside his companions. My people named me traitor, they call me enemy. And now I find myself reduced not only in their eyes but in my own as I am reduced to robbing from the dead to better my chances of survival in this upper land. This new world I will now be forced to make my way in.
I vow to myself that those who have brought me to this level of existence will pay by my hand one day. They had better live up to there vow to destroy me because I will never stop trying to go back and destroy them.
And that my friends was the end of the Prologue.
Here would have been the place the story took a pause for the next chapter to be posted in one Full run just as the Prologue has now been done. This would then allow you to post your comments all at one time until I posted the next full chapter. At this time I'm still working on the First chapter, which I just now noticed I titled the Second Chapter by accident :red: that has now been corrected.
I hope that you enjoy reading the full thing at one time as it was intended up to this point.
And Now to get on with it... I have Reserved several posts to finish chapter one with as I wish to get all my past work posted at once. The new renders are still WIP's but I should be posting live by the end of this weekend. So until then, the rest so far...
The Exile: Chapter One
They walk the Night.
“Any mans heart can be turned to stone. It takes a strong soul to shield the heart from this world.” - Gledon the Scribe 1024 Pre Dragon War
I’m not a animal though my people treated me as one. I spent the greater part of the day digging a grave for the dead. It ruined one of the boot knives I took from the smaller of my kinsmen, even this soft loamy soil was hard on its edge. I draped their bodies the best I could with the cloak from the younger priest to never be, a death shroud if you will. I respect the dead enough to not wish them to sleep eternal with raw earth upon their faces. I still burn with shame from being reduced to robbing from the dead. Their days are done, they have much less need of these few things they had than I do in the days yet ahead of me. But the shame I will carry until my last day.
Those young priest did not carry much, I’m sure they were expecting pay on their return to our homeland, and only brought what they thought they might need on our long journey. A sword each between them and only one good dagger. Two boot knives, one of which I sacrificed to inter them, one small pack of hard rations, the small ones always seem to have food on them, and just twelve coppers. Drowish coppers at that, I’m not even sure they will honor those here in the surface realms. And the clothing I now wear, I left them as much of there’s as I could, I see no reason to take it all from them, I’ll use my prisoners grab for bedding and blankets. I have already slept in it for thirty days, at least it will provide me with a bit of warmth at night, more so now than before.
I’m at a disadvantage here in the sunlight, our eyes are not made for the light of day, we Drow have been in the Underdark far to long. The sun was high above before I finished my task, even here in the shadows of the deep forest beneath a large oak the light was too much for me to see clearly. I try to rest beneath the tree until the sun sets, I may have even dozed from time to time, if I did it was briefly for the day seemed to last much longer than I expected. Nothing came to molest me or try to make a meal of me in all those hours so I did relax some as the day came to its end. But I could not set here, they would be back to hunt me. In a month if not sooner, of that I was sure. And I would need food more than a small ration and it soon as well. I decided to follow the stream on down its course. People need water and prefer to live near it. It was also the only idea I could think of, where does one go when they have no idea where they are or where they are headed?
I followed the stream for the full night, it was joined my others from time to time forcing me to cross them often. The stream grew into a creek or maybe a small river by the time the sun had started to lighten the sky again. Shallow but to wide to leap across. I was looking for a soft place under another large tree to shade the day when I saw the fence. It as a mostly broken down wood pole thing, but someone had built it there in that opening next to the brook. And I think I smell smoke, so I follow the fence and my nose. The sun rises but I do not care, I must know if I might find shelter, even a broken down shack would ease my mind. Before long the forest opened up and I saw the farmstead for the very first time.
Humans. I freeze, then move back into the woods again. I was not expecting humans this close to a exit from the Underdark. Following the fence back the way I had came, I try to stay well hidden as I seek the cover of the deep woods again. I move along the edges of the forest and look for a safe place to watch this farm. My sight is bad in this full light but I can see the shape of the man moving around his land. I’m deep in shadow now and I rest myself against a weathered stump of some long dead tree. Before long I think I have counted at least two others off around the farm doing whatever chores they are set upon.
I start awake to the touch of cold steel to my neck. “Make a move for a weapon and I’ll slice your neck.” the shadowy shape before me says. I did not understand the language this was spoken in but the meaning seemed clear from the tone. The words seemed a odd mixture of low elvish some dwarven with another added in, all spoken in a odd accent. I must have dozed to have allowed this man to get this close to me. The last two days had pushed me to exhaustion. I slowly raise my hands and try pure elvish. “I meant no harm, can you understand me? Please sir I can’t understand you,” I say. In a very good elvish he replies with the blade still to my neck, “Yes I can, now look to your right before you decide this old man is no match for you. That young lad with the arrow pointed your way is my son. I can assure you he will kill you long before you harm me if you try.” I simply nod. From the left the largest person I had ever seen steps into my view, this giant gathers my swords and then relieves me of my other weapons as well.
I find myself marched back out of the woods and directed to the large house. The older man settles behind a large table that looks to be used as his office. I’m seated next to the door but the brute is right there welding a wicked knife so I stay seated. The boy stands next to the older one out of my reach, even if I was stupid enough to take a chance. I knew better than to try anything. The man speaks loudly in that odd language again and I soon see a elderly woman enter the main room carrying a laden tray. Food is placed before me and then she scurries off to the rear of the house again.
“I’m Thaddus Corban. And this is my freestand you happen to be on,” he says to me in his wonderful elvish. “And before the sun finishes setting you and I are going to have a very good talk,” Master Corban says. And thus began my first night in the realms of man.
Master Corban and I did not finish our conversation before the night had fell. It was well into the dark hours before he decided we were done. It was more of a interrogation than a conversation in the beginning. Him firing question after question at me as fast as I could answer the first one. Where did I come from so suddenly? Why was I alone? How could he believe anything I said when I was so obviously not prepared for a long stay in these lands? All questions I myself might have asked if in his position. It took me hours to explain my sorry state of affairs to his liking, and even then I could tell he did not really believe me. I had to agree to show him and his men the grave of those I had killed to prove my words to him. Then he accused me of wishing to lead them all into an ambush. I pointed out that he was in control and I was quite sure if anyone was going to be in danger it was I. He had to admit I had a point, and then agreed to me showing them the place as soon as we had daylight again. He then surprised me. To test my words and honor I was told I would not be watched during the night. I would not be given my weapons but I would be free to leave if I choose to do so. If I was still here at sunrise he would count that as a sign I might be speaking the truth. I tried to explain that he and his people were in grave danger because my people would be coming to hunt for me very soon. He told me to hold my tongue until he decided he could trust me or not, then we would discuss things further if I proved true.
At that I was turned over to Dunber, the huge one, who would show me a place I could bed down for the night, if I stayed. He lead me out past what I later learned was the bunkhouse to a open hay barn. Using the lantern he carried with us he lit one kept in the barn for me to use that night. I was more than happy to bed down in a large pile of hay once he had made his way back toward the great house. I was not about to leave, I had spoken only the truth to Master Corban and I has defenseless without my swords, besides I had not slept as much as I had thought because I needed sleep very much it seemed. It did not escape my notice that the barn I was now in held many items that could serve as weapons if someone wished. That told me that somebody would miss a nights sleep to be sure I did not try anything later in the night. Master Corban was much craftier than I had first given him credit for, I was sure this was another test of my honor and not a simple mistake on his part. He did not strike me as one to make many simple mistakes such as turning a possible enemy lose without planning ahead. I trimmed the lanterns wick to a low glow, settled into my soft bed of hay and promptly fell fast asleep.
I had not been awake very long the following morning before Dunber returned. He seemed only a little surprised to find me still were he had left me just hours before. I showed that I had not armed myself in any way, both hands empty of any weapon of any kind. He just gestured for me to follow him once more.
The priest had feared his return to Menzoberranzan, he had filled the intent of his assigned quest but had failed at the implied goal. In hopes of gaining some favor with the Matrons of Arach-Tinilith he had used his powers arcane to travel back to his homeland ahead of his troop of guards. Let them slog slowly down those tunnels to return, he had to report the news of the prisoners escape as soon as possible. It might be his only hope for survival. As a magus assigned to the church of her most Holy Lolth he prayed the living Goddess and her High Matron would allow him to live for his failure, but those that failed them could expect a horrible end if not eternal torment. He now feared for his very life, his goal of rising to a master of the house Sorcere was the only reason he had fought so hard to do a task the Goddess herself had demanded get done. It now seemed he had sought his own doom.
It turned his blood to stone in his veins when he found himself whisked before the great one Herself as soon as the low Matron he presented himself to learned the news he was so loath to present. If they did not have soothsayers he might have tried to lie his way out of this. But he knew that would only have delayed his fate if not gotten him killed out right. He refused to raise his eyes, his head stayed bowed, his knee firmly planted as the great one raged her wrath! Her very presence filled him with fear and awe, her screams seemed to carry the power to stop his heart from beating, he thought he could feel her anger swirl around his self and the chamber like waves in a agitated wash tub.
“Lowly male!! You failed me in the one thing I needed done! Why did I agree to a male being in charge of this in the first place? I should send you to the lower realms, turn you over to a master that will treat you as you deserve. I take care of all my children but you can not be of them! My children do not fail at tasks I put before them! All the males of house Sundarian must die! The house war I instigated served to destroy the elder son and that gave me reason to exile the other but he was never meant to truly have freedom!”, Lolth Raged! Her great spider legs clittered and chattered as she roamed madly about the chamber. With a sudden glare the Goddess turns to the lowly creature before her and says, “I set this NEW task upon you! You shall gather and lead a raiding party. YOU shall take them above, and YOU will bring me the head of Jaderail Enous Sunder or I will have yours in its place!”
End of Reserved Places for chapter one. Am I not such a tease? :cheese:
This is the place it will break until Chapter two goes live. Feel free to post to this thread now if you wish too. Like calling me bad names and stuff for teasing you... ;-)