Heroes of the Dark

Waterdeep
Ascendance

In a pitched battle, the party found themselves outside a destroyed Tantras, and in need of transport to Waterdeep.  They set out on foot, unable to locate beasts of burden in a city trying to unbury itself from the rubble left in the wake of the destruction of Bane and Torm, the gods of Strife and Truth.

The ringing of the bell of Aylen Attricus by virtually unknown heroes saved the bulk of the city, but the lower quarters added a thousand years after the bell was placed to protect the city were decimated.

Drow are unlikely on the surface, and even less likely heroes, but their quick thinking nevertheless saved many lives, and gave several of the guard something to think about.

In a world where magic has gone insane, the more stable powers of these Drow are recognized, and they are allowed on their way without challenge, much to the chagrin of the Purple Dragons of Cormyr, who are still following them, along with mercenaries who witnessed their escape from the Dales weeks before.

Finding their way to an abandoned glade along a river, the party stumbles across an old stone statue, maintained by a lone priest of Azuth in service to his power.  The priest's magic, unlike so many others in the Realms, has not failed in the wake of the Godswar, and the party quickly learns it is because divine power has been secreted away deep within the stone under the clearing.  The statue is just a means of access.

The Drow manage, unknown to the priest, to absorb this power, and since its previous owner is not aware of the theft, they carry divine essence with them toward Waterdeep, confusing the god Myrkul and causing him to divert his plans in their direction.

Scores of undead suddenly attack, and the future looks grim indeed.

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Tantras
Questionable Surroundings

The party has celebrated the recovery of their power and the safety of their people.  Menzoberranzan is far from healed, but it has a strong future, provided the powers protecting it continue to do so.

Gods seeking the Tablets of Fate meanwhile have reached out to the leaders of Sel'rue after they participated in the attacks against Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul, and witnessed the death of the goddess Mystra.

In a world where the gods have realized they too can die, there is a more pressing desire to recover the Tablets at any cost.  Even now, three adventurers from the Dales ride a rickety raft along the River Ashaba, fleeing pursuit by men loyal to Mourngrym Amcathra.

Surely seeing them in the company of a few well-intending drow won't damage his perceptions.

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Orcs at the Gate!
Dark City Reborn

The Godswar has raged on for two years.

Menzoberranzan has been the focus of a series of complex battles as the party has returned from the northlands with yet another powerful artifact weapon for their battle, and they begin to understand their fight is with the gods themselves.

Sel'rue initially fled Menzoberranzan to Chaulssin, taking with them the majority of the Manys and the bulk of the crops of rothe and mushrooms, leaving Menzoberranzan to an uncertain future.  An immense arena took shape in the Shatters, what remained of the Manys after the near-collapse of the city caverns, and a bell regularly tolls the announcement of winners (and losers) of many a tournament.

The return of a triumphant party is darkened somewhat by what they have seen with their own eyes—a world gone mad.  Witnessing the deaths of gods has affected the party more than they could have known, and even as they return to home, they find it changed—but not as much as themselves.

Even as Chaulssin and Eryndlyn recover and rebuild, so must Menzoberranzan, host to its own gods, return from its ashes and create a new society as its gods continue to battle over the missing Tablets of Fate and their own followers.

Expelled and for the first time in the godswar running for her immortal life, Lolth is in an unaccustomed position.  She must gather new power, but she has a target.  Word travels that Lolth has injured Ellistrae and prepares to sacrifice her to the Pits of Ghaunadar beneath Waterdeep.

But before they are able to get there, word travels of an even more fantastical battle between the forces of darkness and light in the magical city of Tantras.

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Blood in the Marketplace

Menzoberranzan was a murdered husk.

The surviving denizens, without food or future, were an easy mark for the Queen of Spiders.  Lolth took an avatar of the leading priestess of the Temple of the Many, and with her newfound mortal limitations she found herself cursing the gods of the World Above for their petty squabbles, even as she saw fit to continue her own.

Death became commonplace daily, as the city succumbed to her fury, locked in an avatar and unable to return to her City of Webs and Intrigues.

Even as Chaulssin and Eryndlyn sought to undo all her damage, they found themselves falling short as the twin cities of the fallen gods entered a city filled with starving masses, men locked away in towers of disused and fallen houses as the women slowly turned inward on themselves in self-hatred.

The last stop was the Pit of Non-Believers in the center of the city, a great chasm into which was thrown the bodies of all sacrifices taken to honor Lolth, and if there had been a means the city would have been righted and level once again for the bones heaped upon it.  The bodies were mostly the children of the city, and a lie told to bolster her control of the city.

She said Sel'rue had killed the children….

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Time Passes
Journals of Godhood

Luafien, that is the name of the last child I will bring into this world being wholly drow. I was drow. I was completely mortal, I was normal, I was a girl, and more than that I was one of the youngest matrons in the history of my home.  

All of that died with the hundreds that died when tower Freth bounced off the roof of Menzoberranzan. This city was the only home I'd ever known, and it pained me to leave it behind. Wounds cut deep that day, as not only was my city lost to me but a companion as well. In a fit of pique I demanded that the Dark Maiden fix the damage done to Drizzt, and in an instant he was gone, as was all we had done to repair his once damaged mind. I had given him, them all the power to choose only to have it stripped away by petulant goddesses. Were I to voice that comparison though, I doubt Eilistraee would have meant her apology, or brought him back.  The Dark Selderine have proved to be little better than the houses of Menzoberranzan, but for their lofty ideals. 

They call me bold, but perhaps it is only that they forget what it is like to be subjugated to the whim of a mad goddess. Perhaps they never knew, they were never human, but born gods. I can only hope that those I help elevate to our growing pantheon do better. I hope I do better. Our people deserve more. 

My city, my home has welcomed me back with brutality and gore far beyond what I believed them capable of. I thought, when I was younger that        could be reasoned with. I thought… perhaps she was just misunderstood by the men we made just above slaves for her whims. I thought that we could do right for our people and serve her. I was wrong. 

She left my city in ruins, feeding our dying men and woman their own families for lack of meat. All of those killed have been returned to them, there is a benefit to the lack of a god of death. Vaerhun, Ellistraee and I spent nine days clearing away what she did in my name, to spite me. Spiders, on all of them. She'd lost control of them so everything she did, she claimed with a spider hoping it would take them back. They lost faith in her, because of her own actions. A warning, I'd even given her once. 

House Baenre still stands, though justice needs come for Trielle. After all she did to them, the city will ask for her head, I will need show them another way, or her murder will send us back to where we were two years ago. 

My heart breaks for what she did to the city I gave my mortality for. Their needs now come before mine, or I die. My followers must love me better, or I fade away, in a very tangible sense. Though, part of me reads the words that I've lived and I wonder if I've just gone mad. Perhaps I am still in tower Freth, behind the door my mother locked thirteen years ago, and all of this has just player out in my head. That would be the most rational explanation for what I've come to. After the past few years, I might almost wish it, if it weren't for the joy that I've seen. 

Heroes, legends eat at my table, sleep in our beds. Right now, I find myself in a room, in house Do'Urden. A sentence that I would never thought be possible thirteen years ago. The sounds of a girl child echo in these halls, in a way that most would have thought impossible but here it stands, truth. 

Houses have been raised, or restored. Obledra, Mizzrym, Do'Urden, Fey, and Braegan D'Arthe. Each led by a drow that values their people over themselves. Two, with men at their lead. I can only hope that Menzoberranzan will bend its mind to understand that it's working in Chul Siin. 

Would that this were all that was on my mind. 

Between the rebuilding of both cities, I have children without homes. Valen has taken them to Xorrlorlin with Ravel, and the two of them have settled somewhat in the past few weeks. I am sure that Ravel is pleased to see his sister again with her husband, as I understand it. I also have a city that relies on my physical presence to power their magic, thus is the life of a god at this point. 

Gromph Baenre has confirmed that I can imbue objects in the city centers to power them, which will allow me the ability to leave and give my followers they ability to keep going when I am not with them. It has been a gift to be able to leave without the lights going out in my wake. Two miles is not near as far as I'd like it to be sometimes. 

Juchin though was the most surprising of it. Apart from being the Demi God of War with the help of Vaerhun, he called me to the surface to aid some elves and humans that prayed to him in saving Mystra. Apparently her vessel, a vapid girl named Midnight, for all the gods, I wish that I was kidding but that is what she actually calls herself…needed help in tracking her. We found her and even freed her from Death and Murder, but that didn't stop her from rushing the stairs and being killed by Helm. He seemed saddened that he had to do it, but he did it still. 

We woke hours later in the Dales, Shadowdale I think, but honestly, I haven't the foggiest. It was bright, and they were rude. The girl, Midnight, had difficulty coming to grips with what had happened, but were I her, I would have trouble too. I had trouble of my own and did not stay to watch the trial that happened later over the death of someone they called Elminister. Drizzt mentioned the name once, and said he was a great man. I don't know much more beyond that. 

At home though, I was greeted by my usual three man inquisition, plus one older daughter who was up with Lua when the lights went out. Sahven has taken most of this in better stride than I might have at her age, but her father is fairly stable so that must have something to do with it. Regardless, it was their idea that I go through with Gromph's plan to imbue the cities, as it would stop panic in my wake if I chose to continue leaving without telling anyone. 

I swear, sometimes I fall back on old thoughts and think to scold them for being out of place, but if you had witnessed those men, full of bravado and the freedom to speak your minds, you would understand why I stay my tongue. They are entitled worries, just as I am… and I can't help but hope that these shouting matches are happening all over the city, as the men and woman of Menzoberranzan start to find even ground. 

I only hope the peace we've found here will last. 

Tomorrow, there is certain to be more changes, and I've a vested interest in sending more than one of these gods home so that I can try and give these people a relatively normal life, even if it means that those days for me are long done. 

For now, there are gods among them, and crystal spiders looking over them, and for the first time, no one needs fear them, because they are mine. 

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Visions in the Dark
The Journals of Aun'rae Sel'rue

Would that I could put feelings to words. 

My heart knows what my mind has come to understand. I was never meant to birth a vessel for Lolth, but I was meant to be it… entirely. She meant that I give her my soul, mind and body, never to return from her occupation. The rage this fills me with overpowers a lifetime of training and brainwashing. 

This knowledge and the power that sits above my heart brings me the power to change, to choose. I have chosen. No more the mindless servant of a goddess that would use me and destroy me to take what I have. The Gods had other plans. 

My whip died with the last of my faith, and with it the barriers that prevented me from knowing her plans for me. I have blasphemed in her city, though somehow I get the feeling that she has little to say of it. My only options now are to leave and ascend, or stay and hide behind the love of the manys that I've fostered, and build a following in her own city. The one thing that gives me pause is Valan. We are twins, and family beyond that. I could leave and save them, or stay and risk them. Is my vanity, my anger or my sense of justice more important than the fate of my house and those that I care for? 

My only true option is to deal directly with Valan and plead to her desire for power. I am uniquely able to provide her with more power than Lolth would have ever shared, and she is my twin, why shouldn't we share in this together. If I can be the goddess of families and travel, why can she not be the one of trade and law? After all, those are what she knows best, they always were.

It is about time that our fates weren't controlled by a grasping liar that only wants for herself. She allows Banre to rape our families and condemn them to death with no fear of repercussion, and that is the first thing I plan to change. They will know fear of a god, and they will fear the justice that will be rained on them. 

None of this pays any homage to the fear that is building in my chest. They steer me, use me and risk my house, and what if it is for nothing? What if I am just another pawn in the gods war that wages around us? Does it matter anymore? Is there anything I can do to change it? Can I protect Drizzt, Dyan'ette, Zin'Teth, Elginn? I am housing a known traitor with intent to give him back a house, that I cannot yet provide him with… If he would even accept me in this. Apparently the implications of sleeping with a demi-god (if that is what I can call myself at this point) are worse than just bedding a drow matron.

If I'm being honest with myself, I can almost understand the concern. I wouldn't be surprised if most of my sources of comfort feel the same. I don't even know that I would blame them… the other option would be to give my power to someone else though, and try to make peace with my goddess, or find another that would accept me… and I cannot bring myself to bend knee to another. Not after all that has been done. 

I should prepare to leave, on the chance that I will not be allowed to remain, and perhaps say my goodbyes ahead of this… leaving others who would follow me the means to find me. Perhaps she was right, Illvarad may be the best place to start. It could be the beginning of a city on its own. 

I will know nothing until Valan and I speak. Until then I must hope for the best and plan for the worst.

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Don Juan Triumphant?
Return to Menzoberranzan

The party has returned to Menzoberranzan.

Survival is not its own reward, however, as the party is attacked almost immediately by abyssal spiders seeking the same weapons, and the whetstone that corrupts them to the drow goddess Lolth.

The party has weathered challenges to their faith and returned a known traitor under their protection.  Now they turn their sites toward House Baenre, as the Manys charged by Gromph begin to revolt, and the city enters a period of unrest that will be known as the Small Rebellion.

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Visitors to Hell

The dwarven mining party leads their unlikely drow allies to the lowest level of the Undercity mines.  There, they point out a single passageway they say leads to a dwarven burial ground, where they will not go.

However they believe the sword the drow seek will be found there, and since it is not a dwarven blade they have neither love nor intentions toward it.

Hours later, the party is standing before a magical entrance that whisks them away, not to a dwarven mount, but to an Underdark turned upside down that challenges their beliefs to the core.

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Undercity
Best Kept Secrets

The party arrives in Mirabar to find a dwarven contingent of soldiers led by a human woman in wait for them.  They sign a pact with the city to enter as prospective clients.

That's when one of the dwarves notices a curious hammer hanging from the side of the halfling mixed in with the drow and challenges her.  They learn she carries the personal emblem of Bruennor Battlehammer, which is enough for the dwarves, but not their human leader.

The dwarves promptly turn their back on the human and return to Mirabar, leaving her to nervously complete her business with the drow. Tensions fade as their entry to the city leads them to a series of stops and eventually the inn.

One of the dwaves challenges that if the halfling carries a musical instrument and Bruennor's hammer, she should be capable of telling its story.  She does.  For three days.  The majority of the city's two thousand dwarves turn out as their duties allow, granting the party a unique popularity with which they are genuinely unaccustomed.

It resolves with the arrival of a new human servitor representing the city, who agrees to grant the drow access to Undercity to continue their search for the next blade.

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Road to Mirabar, Part II

On the road to Mirabar the party is confronted by a curious lone traveler bearing a ring of teleportation, which he uses to warn the local army that a party of drow is approaching. 

The army arrives in Longsaddle to find the town undamaged and swearing their praises to these drow, who became their unwitting saviors routing another abyssal spider attack.

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