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Introduction..................................................................................................................

ii
Experimental Subject....................................................................................................1
An Offer of Help.........................................................................................................11
Recruitment.................................................................................................................15
Renal Bloodscalps Offer...........................................................................................24
Guildmaster.................................................................................................................36
deArnise Hold............................................................................................................41
Castle Lord..................................................................................................................50
Grave Robbing............................................................................................................56
Guild Matters..............................................................................................................61
Crooked Path to Trademeet........................................................................................68
Shadow Druids............................................................................................................84
Founder Dispute..........................................................................................................90
Trouble for Jan............................................................................................................98
Cernds Homecoming...............................................................................................110
Planar Problems........................................................................................................117
Unseeing Eye............................................................................................................128
A Pact is Made..........................................................................................................144
Residence for the Magically Deviant.......................................................................160
Soulless.....................................................................................................................173
Departure from Brynnlaw.........................................................................................181
Sahuagin...................................................................................................................187
The Underdark..........................................................................................................197
Ust Natha..................................................................................................................206
Phaere.......................................................................................................................213
Assassination............................................................................................................223
City of the Illithids....................................................................................................230
Betrayals...................................................................................................................235
Forests of Tethir........................................................................................................241
Chance Meetings......................................................................................................246
Return to Athkatla.....................................................................................................252
Destruction of Bodhi.................................................................................................255
Viconias Decision....................................................................................................258
Suldanessellar...........................................................................................................262
Penultimate Confrontation........................................................................................267
Heritage of Bhaal......................................................................................................271
Ashes of Victory.......................................................................................................278
Portions copyright 2000 by BioWare Corp. All rights reserved.
Trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Introduction
In my opinion, the biggest improvements in Baldurs Gate II: Shadows of Amn are
the well developed personalities of the characters who can join your party, and the better
developed main plot and generally interesting and involved side quests.
I thought it would be worthwhile to recreate the games story in written form, in the
games own words. All of the dialog in the following is taken almost unchanged directly
from the game itself, as well as some of the other material. In order to create a full story, I
did have to invent a lead character, as well as pick a particular path through the game.
I am assuming you have already played the game itself, but you might want to read
this to experience the story again, or to hear from characters you chose not to include in
your party.
In order to adequately cover all the characters in the game, I have actually created
two stories, despite the unavoidable overlap this causes. This story focuses more on the
evil characters who can join your party. Another document focuses more on the good
characters. Even with this decision, the game is so broad that not everything could be
covered. In particular, I omitted possible romances with Jaheira and Aerie if you play a
male protagonist, as well as most of the stronghold quests.
This story features the following characters, in order of appearance: Tamarth, the
(invented) multi-class elven party leader, Yoshimo, Jan Jakobar Jansen, Viconia DeVir,
Korgan Bloodaxe, Edwin Odesseiron, Cernd and HaerDalis. There are cameo
appearances by Imoen, Jaheira, Minsc, Nalia, Valygar and Keldorn.
Thanks to the lead designers at Bioware, James Ohlen and Kevin Martens, and
everyone else responsible for the dialog and story. I also found the Infinity Explorer by
Dmitry Jemerov of some help, available from:
http://infexp.sourceforge.net
I ask that this document be distributed without cost, and unchanged.

Rhys Hess (rhyshess@hotmail.com)


March, 2001

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Experimental Subject
Tamarth stared down at his bloody hands. He vaguely remembered, when the pain
became too much, losing control of his anger, battering the bars of his cage in a futile
attempt to reach his tormentor. In between the pain, he could recall his torturer talking to
him, telling him that as a child of Bhaal he had much untapped power.
He was sure his torturer had just been standing in front of him, but rather than a new
round of pain, he had suddenly left. At least, Tamarth hoped that was what had happened,
since otherwise he was losing his grip on reality.
Wake up, you! Wake up! Come on, we have to get out of here! he heard from a
figure standing in front of him. For a moment, he thought he really was insane. Then he
realized the figure was a young woman, not his torturer.
Whowho are you? he croaked from a dry mouth.
Who am I!? He messed with your head too, huh? Im Imoen. We lived in the same
place for years. I guess I cant blame you for forgetting. All I remember is us getting
jumped near Baldurs Gate. It was quickI dont think I want to remember it all. Hes
beendoing thingsto us. Tamarth, we have to get out of here!
Can I trust you? I dont remember a thing, said Tamarth. That wasnt entirely true.
He could remember defeating his half-brother, Sarevok. He had been captured while
camping with others. Imoen had been there; he could recall now they had grown up
together in Candlekeep. There had been others encamped with him
It must be because hes been messing with our heads, said Imoen. I dont
remember much, but I know itit hurt. Tamarth, I just have to get out of here.
I heard you. A headache is no excuse for poor planning though.
It isnt like a normal pain. Tamarth, its on the inside, like my bones made a little
dagger and it wont go away. Dont look at me like that, it just hurts, all right? Must have
been the noise. There was a fightassassins came after our captor, I think. Theres
people dead all over and the fighting is still going on. I could hear it. Are you going to get
moving or do I leave without you?
Fine, Im moving, but I dont take kindly to your orders, he said, familiar anger
lashing out at anyone who tried to control him.
Im not going to step on your tail. Youve been the responsible one forever, and I
dont plan on making changes here. We should look in that room to the west first, west
and just a bit north. I think I saw some weapons in there. Its a room off the corner of this
one. I dont think its our gear. They probably sold our best stuff, but anything is better
than nothing. Now lets go!
Tamarth exited the cage Imoen had opened, and staggered over towards two other
cages with figures in them. With a sinking feeling, he recognized the nearest figure. It
was Jaheira, the Harper spy. She and her husband, Khalid, had caught up to him just
before he was kidnapped. Khalid was probably around here somewhere as well, ready to
offer his useless advice in his usual unbearably cheerful manner.

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Quickly, we must get out of here before whoever did this returns, said Jaheira. I
swear, traveling with you is never dull.
You cant make demands of me, he said, anxious to establish his position. What
authority do you think you have?
By what authority? This is hardly the time to have a leadership debate, especially
one that I have never questioned. Not to any serious degree, at leastPerhaps this place
has made you defensive, and I wouldnt blame you in the least, but your suspicions are
better directed at strangers, not friends. I will detail our relationship if you wish, but it
shall be nothing you do not already know. Jaheira is what I am called, as you should well
know. We have traveled together for some time, and the places we have gone number too
many to name. At the behest of your slain foster father, my husband Khalid and I have
kept an interest in you, though you have proven to be your own person in all things. We
remain in your company as friends more than guardians, and our exploits together have
left the land for the better. We have earned many enemies, but we have dispatched them
all. Whoever has trapped us now is certainly powerful to have done this so easily. Once
we know, we will deal with them in due course, but for the time being it is more
important we retrieve our friends and companions and leave this place.
Tamarth was thankful to his foster-father Gorion for raising him, but he was sure it
had been in pursuit of some Harper plan to make use of him. Gorions death had been
conveniently followed by the appearance of two more Harpers, Jaheira and Khalid.
Despite her words he knew he had never trusted them. However, at the moment he
needed all the allies he could find to escape this place.
I agree, but your cage seems to be sealed magically, Tamarth said.
I dont know. If you are of sufficient strength, it is possible the cage may be broken.
If not, you may have to search for whatever key it might need. Do try to hurry, I wish to
be out of here before the owner returns. The ease of our capture suggests it may be
beyond our power to resist. It would be best to face the culprit another day on our own
terms, so go and be quick. We must free ourselves soon.
Tamarth moved a few steps to the other cage. He recognized the figure within, the
berserker-ranger Minsc. He was sure Minsc had not been at his encampment. Although
he remembered Minsc as a good fighter, it was always necessary to carefully explain
everything twice to him. At least Minscs companion Dynaheir might be here as well;
Tamarth remembered her as a capable user of magic.
AHHHH!! Minsc will be free!! Minsc greeted Tamarth, not sharing Tamarths
misgivings. These bonds will not hold my wrath! Butts will be liberally kicked in good
measure!!
If youve anything of value to say do it now, and without such wailing,
complained Tamarth.
You speak as a trapped animal, words that I know well. I hold you no grudge, for
we have traveled long together, whether you choose to recall or not. I will continue my
adventures with you andandthose that do evil will pay dearly for their actions! So
swears Minsc! On Dynaheirs grave, so swear I!

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Dynaheir? Was she trapped here as well?


Trapped?! Her spirither spirit is trapped in a cage created by my failure. I was to
guard her, but shesheTheythey killed her as I watched, you see? I know not who
they were, butbut I will redeem myself!
Minsc, that is horrible! said Imoen. I am so sorry for you.
I wont cry for the dead! I wont! Ok, maybe a little, but I will staunch the flow of
tears with righteous fury! Lullaby and goodnight, evil! Minsc will make you pay! Will
you help me? We must join together once more, and our fury will be such that bards will
run their quills dry! Yes, ink will be scarce where eer we go!
Your very being here shows you are weak. I will leave you where you are, said
Tamarth, not at all sure Minscs presence would be an advantage to his escape, since
Dynaheir was dead.
Youyou turn your back on those in need? You are abandoning me in my hour of
shame? Youyou are no better than those that killed Dynaheir! You are filththat I
called friend! Do not make me add your ass to the kicking list! I would do so reluctantly,
but I will do it! Choose your path now!
You are quite clearly insane. You shall stay right here, said Tamarth firmly.
I will make sure you do not live long enough to abandon more friends! I willI
willI will do all of this as soon as I get these bars open! RRAAAARRGH!!! The bars!
They bend and twist with my berserker strength! Minsc and Boo are free! Now you
willnowOoooh, you are a smart one. I understand now! You said what you did just
to get me mad! Mad enough to break free! You are as smart as Boo sometimes! Now we
can resume our adventures together! There are friends to avenge and villains to smack
about the face and neck! Right Boo?
Now that Minsc was free Tamarth figured he might as well use him. Join with me,
but you must serve me better than you did Dynaheir.
My honor and competence is in question?! Oh, I assure you that nothing shall keep
me from exacting my righteous wrath on those responsible for this! If anything I shall be
even more single-minded in my focus! Minsc is Minsc and it shall always be so. Come
Boo, we are among friends again!
Tamarth recalled something else he disliked about Minsc, his animal companion,
who he insisted everyone treat as though it wasnt a dumb rodent. Are you talking to a
hamster? What kind of a warrior are you?
I am the best kind of warrior! I am large and I carry natures favor with me where
eer I go! Boo is my animal companion, and while some smaller rangers might
compensate for their size by travelling with bears or wolves, I prefer the subtleties
provided by a miniature giant space hamster! Yes, subtle!
I dont know about that, Minsc, said Imoen, but he sure is a cute little fuzzy
wuzzy. Arent you, Boo?
Boo is the best purchase I ever made, and despite my head wound I could tell that
his previous owner was good and honest. Boo is an asset to us all!

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Then let us be off, and woe be to those that dare to stand in our way, Tamarth said
resignedly, making the best of the situation.
In the nearby room Imoen had mentioned they found a golem, a magical construct.
Although it had not been ordered to hinder them, it also recognized they were not its
master and refused any useful answers to their questions. In the room they found
equipment to arm themselves, and the key to Jaheiras cage.
Well that is a relief, and about time too, said Jaheira after they opened her cage.
We should be going immediately. Not only might our host come back, I simply must
see the sun again in none too short a time. This dank place stifles me.
Tamarth noticed that despite her earlier promise, Jaheira had immediately tried to
direct their course. You are welcome so long as you remember I am leader. We do as I
will.
This place has hardened your manner. I do not remember you being so quick with a
cold remark. Lead on as you wish, but do tread carefully, will you?
They left the room of cages, passing the bodies of black-hooded thieves in the
corridor; distant explosions indicated others of the thieves must still be fighting the
master of this place.
The corridor opened up into a room with natural crystal formations. As they crossed
the room, a djinni appeared before them, addressing Tamarth.
Tamarth, welcome! You have escaped somewhat later than I had hoped. I am
Aataqah. You have my welcome to my little piece of this place! I do so try to keep it
more appealing than the rest.
I have escaped. I now wonder what part you had in my capture, said Tamarth,
realizing this creature must be in league with their captor.
Worry not, Tamarth, I did so enjoy your blundering about Baldurs Gate. I did not
wish to see you captured.
I care little for your musings. Answer my questions or feel my wrath, said
Tamarth, angry at the creatures answer.
Ha! You threaten me? I had not foreseen thisexcellent!
What do you mean by foreseen? What are you babbling about?
The future, the past, the present. All of these things and nothing. Tell me Tamarth,
are you prepared to answer a question?
To what end? Why do you need to ask me a question?
The paths before Tamarth branch a thousand times. It is strangely difficult for me to
see what comes. All I wish is a single answer. Tip the scales this once to me and I shall
tip them to you in return. Shall you answer me or shall you strike out on your own?
I will answer none of your questions. Tamarth prepared his weapon, ready to
attack the djinni if it attempted to recapture them.

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As self-reliant as always, Tamarth. I did not really expect you to sate my curiosity.
Farewell. The djinni disappeared.
Following a corridor leading from one exit from the crystal room, they found another
golem in a room off of the corridor. Tamarths interest was aroused when the golem
mentioned its purpose was to open the sewage chambers, clean them, and feed the
guardian. He was disappointed to find that it required an activation stone he did not have.
Another room off the corridor held glass cylinders lining its walls. Each cylinder
held a humanoid creature, more results of the experiments of the master of this place.
II know this room, said Imoen, her face paling. Ive been in herewe both
have. HeThere are things in these tanks. They used to be peopleWhat kind of
monster is this guy? Captures us easy as pie, kills whoever he wantsthat could have
been us in those glass things.
Im sure well find him soon enough, said Tamarth. I want to know what he
wants with me.
I want to know what he did to me, too. My head still hurts really bad. He saidsaid
something about potentialabout you too. Tamarth, I dont care if he could make us
three ogres strong, I have to get out of this place. It bothers me. Makes me think I see
things.
Tamarth noted their captor apparently had some insight into his condition as a Child
of Bhaal. He had mentioned a means of allowing him to tap that power. Tamarth was in
no position to question him at the moment, but he would keep it in mind for the future.
Continuing on, in another room was a solitary cylinder, containing another
experimental subject. This one was more lively, asking questions of them as they entered.
Tamarth suppressed an urge to waste time smashing the cylinder, to silence the annoying
voice.
A quick search revealed an odd stone. Tamarth thought back to the golem they had
encountered which had asked for an activation stone. Ignoring the cylinder, he left the
room. Tamarth returned to the golem. The stone did, in fact, allow the golem to initiate its
function. It opened several previously closed doors leading into a lowered, circular
chamber. Inside the chamber was an otyugh, which the party easily defeated.
They moved on, finding a well appointed sitting room, filled with devious traps. Off
one side of the room was a magical portal which they couldnt operate. Off the other side
was a woods.
When they entered the indoor woods three dryads stepped forth to meet them. While
Jaheira wasted her time conversing with them, Tamarth continued forward. On the far
side of the trees a doorway opened into a beautifully appointed bedroom.
Imoen stopped at the entry. Whatwhat is this place. Its beautiful. Oh, there is
simply no way that this space belongs to the same person that owns those horrible glass
containers.
Perhaps it is simply a side of him we have not seen, said Tamarth.

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No, it cant be. Not the person I know. Thisthis bed, that tableI know of them.
He wouldhe would speak of them whilewhile heIts for a lost love, kept in perfect
condition. Sheshe despises him. This is his monument to her. He spoke of all of this,
butbut his voice was coldNo emotion at all, not even remembered. He spoke of these
things even while he cuthe cutand the spells that wove through my braincold, ugly
things!
It still hurtshis sick fingers are still in my head, doing whatever it was he started.
I see bloodand deathbehind my eyesThis room: if he could care for anything he
would care for this room. Above the lives of all of us. It makes me sick. I feelI feel
so much hate. I would burn this place, but it is nothing. Even as it means so much, it is
nothing. Lets do what we must and get out of this place, it is making me sick.
This room was also heavily trapped. When they searched it, Tamarth found a key,
which if he was not mistaken would operate the magical portal they had found earlier.
When he returned through the woods he found that Jaheiras questioning of the dryads
hadnt been entirely fruitless. Tamarth now knew the name of his captor. Irenicus.
They passed through the magical portal, appearing in a small room, boxes piled
along the walls. Suddenly, a man dressed in leather stepped out from behind one pile of
boxes. His features were shaped unlike anyone Tamarth had ever met.
So there is sanity in all of this madness, said the man. If you are not in league
with the evil that dwells in this unholy place, Yoshimo begs your assistance.
We serve no evil mages, no sir! said Minsc. But Boo looks upon you with
suspicion, little man. How is it you come to be here? Never have I seen Boos whiskers
quiver so!
I am not sure how I came to be herelike you, I suspect. I have been trying to find
my way out, but I was wounded in my attempt to do so.
Tell me, how did you come to be trapped here? asked Tamarth.
It is actually quite uhembarrassing. My profession does not leave itself open to
those who are not wary yet, somehow I was caught unaware. I came to Athkatla years
ago from Kara-Tur to seek my fortune. At some point, I went to bed in my room at the
Copper Coronet and I awoke in a strange room with a very sore head. I do not know how
long I was there before awaking.
Do you think that we are in Athkatla?
I am unsure. I may have been drugged when I was brought here. I may have been
unconsciouseither way, I do not know how long. If it was the former, this place could
be anywhere. If it was the latter, then I dont imagine that I could have traveled very far
without noticing.
Then you too know the hardship of being set into a maze like a helpless hamster!
said Minsc, changing his opinion. We are comrades in peril! Boo asks what you propose
we do next, little man.
I do not know a way to escape this place. Perhaps we could search for this exit
together.

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How do I know that you arent some sort of fiend here to lure me into a trap?
asked Tamarth, even though he doubted that was the case. This Yoshimo was not like any
of the servants of Irenicus they had met. He also did not seem to belong to the black
hooded attackers.
I am no fiend! I am Yoshimo! You know, Yoshimo?
THE Yoshimo? Feared by all? answered Tamarth, chuckling to himself. Of course
he hadnt heard of him, but such a little man with such a large ego could be useful to him.
I would be pleased to have you join me.
I shall be happy to lend my blade to your cause. There are two things that I have
discovered about this place that may help us escape. In the next chamber beyond the one
in which we stand, four portals lie. Each of these portals releases a little, cackling fiend
which tries to kill me. These little beasties keep coming in through the portals. Perhaps if
the portals are destroyed, one could defeat the beasts that have already come through.
Shortly beyond that chamber there is a hallway that contains several wands mounted in
pedestals. They blast all that walk before them. I have noticed that each wand is locked
into the pedestal and could be removed if one had the proper key. I know not where these
keys are. Let us begin!
In the next room they did have to destroy portals which were admitting mephits into
this plane. At the far end of the room was a table, on which lay the horribly slashed
corpse of a man.
Drawn by a common morbid curiosity, the party approached the body on the table.
Suddenly, Jaheira let out a scream.
KhaKhalid? Khalid! Nothisthis is an illusiona dreama bad dream
Where are the mirrorsthe switches to pull toto show where he is hiddenKhalid
Damndamn youDamn you! I will have the heart of who has done this! I will tear
their blackened heart from theirI willIno.
Tamarth looked down at the body, but he could muster no strong emotion. He only
felt a vague relief that at least this hadnt happened to him. It looked as though Khalid
would no longer be giving anyone his sappy advice. He muttered, half to himself, Looks
like the fool finally got himself killed.
Shut up! No more words! yelled Jaheira. Words are nothing!
I knew him not, but I mourn for your loss, said Yoshimo.
Stranger! Nobody! said Jaheira. I will not hear your words! Leave me!
A brave man has fallen here, but that is no cause to hurl insults at the living, said
Minsc. Here, Boo shall comfort you. He held forth his hand, Boo in his palm twitching
his whiskers.
Imbecile! Affront to nature! yelled Jaheira, pushing his hand away. What do you
and your rodent know! What can you know!! No words! No more words!! Save your
speeches, save your proverbs!! The only voice I wish to hear isis dead!! No more!!
NoNoSilSilvanus guide the lightto the source. Take this man to what he justly
deserves. Bynatures will, what was given is returned, what was turmoil is nowis

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now peace. Khalid of my heart, let my lovemy love guide the wayWewe must
hurry before we are noticed. We must get out of thisthis graveand seek the light
above. We live in a time of miracles, and nature allows the rebirth of many that have
passed beyond the veil, but there is a time whenwhen it is better to let go.
Tamarth could not believe Jaheira would not try to resurrect the body. Surely the
body could be carried forth, brought to a temple? He thought perhaps this experience had
made her as unhinged as Minsc. He spoke to her in a puzzled voice, Whatever you say,
though I still think you are just giving up.
Your opinion is of a fool that thinks magic and spells are the ultimate forces that
shape our lives! You will learn that somesome things are unalterable! Nature is a cycle
of birth anddeath. Interrupting that cycle isntnatural! Ah, theres no time for this! I
will mourn, but we must still rescue ourselves!
What nonsense is this, Tamarth thought. Aloud, he said, If you would not help your
husband, how are you to be trusted to help another?
I will not suffer this! You will learn the limits and understand, but I will not bear
this idiocy now! Find your own path; I will not travel with you! Perhaps we will meet
again, but I shall not look forward to it!
Jaheira walked away from them, back the way they had come. Tamarth let her go.
Irenicus, his captor, was obviously still occupied with the black-hooded thieves. From
what he had seen of the remaining opposition, Tamarth didnt feel he needed Jaheira to
escape, and he was just as glad to avoid involvement with her and her Harper associates.
Imoen and Minsc were obviously upset by what had just happened, but they chose to
keep silent, and followed him when he left the room.
The next room was a long hall, containing several enemies, as well as the traps
Yoshimo had warned them of. After finishing in the hall, Tamarth heard voices coming
from a chamber off of it. Stepping inside, he saw a woman confronting three of the black
hooded thieves. He stopped at the entry as the woman spoke.
Ah, excellent. I see I am to be provided fresh blood, for once. Let me have a taste.
Come.
Where is your master, fiend? answered one of the assassins facing her. We seek
Irenicus. Give us the upstart and you shall survive!
Already am I dead, thief. Join me in darkness
Enough! Kill this creature and raze the guild. Irenicus shall learn of what it is to
betray the Shadow Thieves!
Tamarth watched as the woman killed her three opponents with her bare hands. Her
form then shifted, becoming a mist which floated up out of sight. Tamarth noted that the
vampire, for that was what the woman must be, appeared to be allied with Irenicus
against the invading thieves.
In another room off of the hall they found an old man imprisoned behind a glass
wall. As they entered the old man called out to them.

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Ah! Surely you cannot be my captors, come to torment an old man within his glass
prison! You look like none others I have seen, here.
Who are you, old man? asked Tamarth suspiciously. How did you come to be
imprisoned, here, in such a manner?
My name is Frennedan, and I have been held in this glass bottle for some time now.
Why, I do not know, but I fear it is to be magically experimented on. Please help me!
I am not certain I trust you, Frennedan. Perhaps someone has put you in your cage
for a good reason.
Aaaah! You will not help an old, feeble man? The old mans form wavered, then
regained definition as a small boy.
Perhaps you will aid a helpless little boy, then? asked the seeming child. Would
you, kind Lord? I am ever so cold and lonely.
Tamarth recognized he faced a doppelganger. This changed things. Tamarth hated
doppelgangers, since his half-brother Sarevok had employed them in his plan against
Baldurs Gate. He searched the area outside the doppelgangers cage, coming up with a
key to its prison. He opened the cages door.
Thanks for freeing me! said the boy, bouncing out of the cage. I am not being
troublesome, am I? I mean no harm.
Whatever you are, I have decided to end your existence just in case! said Tamarth.
What? Impudent lout! Now I will kill you all, foolish ones! The boy transformed
to his true form, a doppelganger. But Tamarth was ready, and cut the creature down.
They followed a hallway away from the main hall. The hallway became an elevated
platform over water below. Ahead of them, one of the thieves attacking Irenicus
laboratory stepped out, blocking their way.
Aha! he yelled. I knew there had to be reinforcements down here. Couldnt be
that powerful by himself, I said! Ill just put an end to this here and now. Well see the
end of Irenicus and your little guild war before this day is through.
I dont know who you are, snarled Tamarth, but unless you want to die youll get
out of my way.
Youll not escape without a battle here. Your master dies above and you shall join
him!
Several more thieves stepped from the shadows. A deadly, close quarters battle was
fought for several minutes, but Tamarth and Minsc, aided by Imoen and Yoshimo,
managed to get the upper hand and defeat their foes.
Past the encounter the party followed a tunnel, littered with the bodies of Shadow
Thieves, which sloped upward into the welcome glare of daylight. Such was their relief
that they barely noticed the debris at their feet, the remnants of a battle fought only
moments before. Surveying the carnage, the group heard a scream of rage, and a massive
explosion collapsed the passage behind them. The sounds of combat greeted them as they
struggled to their feet. The fight, it seemed, was still going strong.

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A figure who had to be Irenicus faced several Shadow Thieves. He spoke, You dare
to attack me here?! Do you even know whom you face?! You will suffer! You will all
suffer! He unleashed a storm of magic which slew all his opponents who were not quick
enough to flee.
Tamarth crouched among the rubble, considering his options. This Irenicus appeared
to be powerful, too powerful to face right now. He looked around, trying to formulate a
viable plan to escape.
Imoen, despite her fear, rose and faced Irenicus. The tall figure she confronted,
dressed as if trying to hide from the world in his ill-fitting robes, regarded her.
So godchild, you have escaped. You are more resourceful than I had thought.
Youre not going to torture us any longer, replied Imoen.
Torture? Silly girl, you just dont understand what Im doing, do you?
I dont care what youre doing! Let us go!
I wont let you leave, not when Im so close to unlocking your power.
We dont want anything from you! Imoen used what magical knowledge she
possessed, flinging magical energy against the figure before her. Irenicus ignored
Imoens attacks, as though she were throwing soap bubbles.
Enough, I will no longer listen to the babbling of ignorant children.
Suddenly, five cowled figures appeared about Irenicus. One of the newly arrived
figures spoke.
This is an unsanctioned use of magical energy! All involved will be held! This
disturbance is over!
Irenicus was obviously not impressed. Must I be interrupted at every turn! Enough
of this!
Irenicus and the cowled mages traded magical spells. Again, Irenicus appeared
unharmed. The mages he faced were not so lucky; several fell, new comrades appearing
to take their place.
This mages power is immense, said one of the mages we must overcome him
quickly.
Enough, said Irenicus impatiently, I havent the time for this.
You will cease your spellcasting and come with us, said another cowled mage,
although he and his fellows appeared unable to force their will upon the figure in front of
them.
Your pathetic magics are useless. Let this end. However, Irenicus, too was
stymied, at least for the moment. Faced by so many opponents, it was hard for him to
concentrate on one mage to take him out. Even when he did so, another would appear in
his place.
Even if we fall, said a cowled mage bravely, our numbers are many. You will be
overwhelmed.

10
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Irenicus suddenly stopped casting offensive spells. You bore me mageling. You
may take me in, but you WILL take the girl as well!
No! cried Imoen. I have done nothing wrong.
A cowled wizard addressed her for the first time. You have been involved in illegal
use of magic. You will come with us!
Im not going with him! Im not! Imoen turned to Tamarth. Help me! Please!
Tamarth was annoyed that Imoen had drawn attention to himself. He rather liked
Imoen, but he saw no advantage to involving himself in the confrontation with these new
cowled intruders. His thoughts were interrupted when Irenicus, Imoen and the living
cowled mages disappeared in a burst of magical energy.
No, this cannot be! cried Minsc. The murderer of Dynaheir flees from righteous
butt-kicking vengeance! And he takes Imoen with him, too! Something must be done,
Tamarth! We must find this evil wizard! All that is goodness cries out for this! Even little
Boo, although he cannot cry out quite so loudly.
While I do not have quite the enthusiasm of your large friend, Tamarth, said
Yoshimo, I do agree that we must move quickly to protect ourselves. We do not know
anything about this wizard, nor whom he was fighting and whynor what your
involvement in all this is. You need to find allies, Tamarth.

An Offer of Help
Tamarth looked around. He was standing inside an oval stadium. Rather than
spectators, the stepped sides of the stadium contained shops. The flat, central floor of the
stadium was given over to more shops and stalls, as well as several gaily colored tents.
The battle with Irenicus had collapsed one section of the stadium, allowing him to
look out and realize he was inside a large city. Several less timid inhabitants of the city
now crowded around Tamarth and the others, wondering what had happened.
By questioning several of them Tamarth learned he was in Athkatla, capital of Amn,
a land south of Baldurs Gate. This section was known as Waukeens Promenade. The
figures who had disappeared with Irenicus and Imoen were part of the Cowled Mages,
the enforcers of Amns strict rules regarding the use of magic.
Tamarth decided to seek rest before investigating more of the city. He moved away
from the area of destruction, seeking an inn. As they walked Yoshimo struck up a
conversation with Tamarth.
Tell me, how did you get into adventuring? It is a dangerous business, as you well
know. Any one of us could die without even a moments notice.
Tamarth glanced at Yoshimo, wondering at his inquisitiveness. He replied shortly,
This is not something that I wish to discuss.
As you wish, said Yoshimo. I was merely curious.
Tamarth found an inn, the Den of the Seven Vales. Inside, he impatiently pushed
past a dandy who tried to talk to him, going up to the owner.

11
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Oh, lovely, commented the female owner. Yet another member of the male
species come t drink himself into a stupor, no doubt, and vomit upon me perfectly clean
floors. Hmph. What be it, exactly, that ye want?
Im not a male, protested Tamarth. Im an elf!
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I heard it all before. Just because yer an elf, ye thinks all that
prancin around in the forest an singings makes ye a better man? Well, I think yere dirt.
An not in the good sense. So does ye have an inclination to actually buy something or
was ye thinkin, instead, of taking yer male attitude elsewhere?
Angered, Tamarth followed her advice, and took rooms at the Mithrest inn next door.
Once in his own room, he examined a scroll he had found while escaping from the
laboratory of Irenicus. At the time he had found it he had stuffed it in his pack, too busy
to look closely at it. He had the time now, though. Looking the scroll over, he realized it
was a spell to summon a mages familiar. The spell was actually quite simple; he
resolved to try it.
He cast the spell from the scroll. A small humanoid, winged creature appeared in
front of him. He recognized it as a mephit. What he had read of mephits was not
laudatory of either their intelligence or their habits.
Are you alright, familiar? All is well? he asked it.
Hmmmn, let me see, said the mephit, scratching its head. Im kinda hungry. How
about a puppy sandwich? A steak? A chicken sacrifice? Cmon, throw me a bone, here,
sheesh!
Tamarth reflected that his sources had been right regarding mephits. From what he
had read, familiars were bound to follow their mages instructions, and could not actively
work against their interests, although they could try to persuade their master to a course
of action.
Tamarth told the mephit to remain in the room, and lay down to sleep, confident he
would instantly awake if anything touched him. The next morning, the mephit was still
there, and his belongings were untouched. That confirmed the familiar was indeed limited
in its actions.
Come here, then, he said to it. Get in my pack.
It rolled its eyes. Oh, sure. Stick me in your smelly pack. Ever thought of sticking
some mint in there? Baaah It reluctantly crawled in.
Tamarth set off to explore more of the city of Athkatla, trailed by Yoshimo and
Minsc. As he walked, the citizens he passed became poorer, the buildings more
dilapidated.
Coo! Youd be the one I be looking for, if I not be mistaken, called out a man
leaning against a building. Tamarth be yer name, aye?
Yes, I am he, confirmed Tamarth, since the speaker obviously already knew who
he was. What do you want?

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Tis not what I want, but what I can be doing for ye. You might be wanting
information about a young lass arrested by the wizards on your arrival here, aye?
Id rather know who you are, first, before I deal with you.
Well, bless me for bein an idiot if I havent gone and forgotten me manners. My
name be Gaelan Bayle. Ye neednt stretch your brain thinkin, I be sure its a name ye
havent heard.
Ive heard of him, Tamarth, said Yoshimo, at least a little. He is a man with many
connections amongst the underworld in this city. A man of his word, too, as far as that is
worth.
You be a different matter, said Gaelan. You be renown enough that someone
might be willin to find this Imoen for ye, or maybe this wizard who held ye. Either way,
they both went to the same place.
How do you know all of this? asked Tamarth.
Coo! I knows very little meself, me Lord. I can, however, link ye up with a group
that knows. Or can be findin out. But this be not the best place to hold such a dialogue. I
be having a place that would suit far better. It be just a short walk from here. Why dont I
take you there right now? Unless you have some reason for not wanting to come along?
Yes, show me to your home.
Coo! Come with me then.
They followed Gaelan to a house in this slum district. Inside, Gaelan spoke to them
again.
I see that ye were able to keep up with me alright, eh? I was afraid Id lost ye there,
heh
I find where I need to be just fine, said Tamarth. Have you something to say to
me or not?
Aye, Ill be doing that quick as ye blink. I tell ye straight that I know a powerful
group that can be helping ye. They can be findin the wizard and the young woman both,
they can. But they can be doing far better than the tellin, my friend. They can also affect
the rescue of your lass, or the capture of the mage, to boot.
Just what is this organization, anyway?
This I cannot tell ye. Rest ye fine that they be willin to helpand havin enough
power to challenge the Cowled Wizards. That all ye be needin to know.
How much is this help going to cost me? asked Tamarth, knowing no one was
going to help him without recompense.
It may seem to be costly, but think of the danger in crossin the Cowled Wizards. A
fair price, if ye think about it. It be 20,000 gold pieces for their help.
20,000 gold pieces! Thats an outrageous sum!!
Outrageous, is it? Tis a lot, but ye ask me friends to go against the wishes of th
Cowled Wizards. I told ye it not be a thing to be done lightly.

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Is there no way to lower the cost?


None. It be 20,000 gp or me friends canna be helping ye.
I do not have that muchhow am I supposed to raise such an amount?
I am sure ye have spent as much in the past and will again. Surely there be work in
the city for ye. Or perhaps some of yer expensive goods to sell?
Its too much to ask when I dont even know who will be getting it.
You might think so, but the offer I make is good whether you act on it now or not.
You will come to see the reasonable nature of it, I am sure.
He may be right, Tamarth, added Yoshimo. It would take someone of power to
find good information on the Cowled Wizardsthis may be your only opportunity to
find Imoen.
Spend not a coin now, then, said Gaelan. Seek your fortune about the town, but
remember that here is where your help is. Strangers are not always to be feared.
Very well, Ill be back with the money, said Tamarth, privately resolving to try to
find cheaper help elsewhere.
Aye, Ill wait for it. Brus ll be waiting for ye outside. Hes me nephew, an hell
show you to the Copper Coronet. Yell find work easily enough there, ye will. There was
a girl in the Copper Coronet by the name of Nalia. She might have some work for a
fighting man like yourself. Fare ye well, thenan give me greetings to Lehtinan if ye
happens by im, heh
Outside, a small boy came up to Tamarth. Hoy! he said. Youd be the one Is
watchin for, aye? Uncle Gaelan told me to give you a bit o help to find some work.
Listen up, eh! Yer a mage or somethin, right? Wellme boys tell me theres this feller
named Madeen in the Government Districthes workin fer the Cowled Wizards and
offering some job. I could takes ye to the edge of the slums if ye wants to check it out.
Certainly, replied Tamarth to the boy, who must be Gaelans nephew Brus. Ill
look for this Madeen in the Government District.
Okay, thenmake sure to stay close, cause I dont have time to wait for ya.
They followed the boy past a few street intersections, where he stopped. He pointed
straight down the street ahead of him, saying, Here ye be. Im sure ye can find the rest
of yer way from here, aye? Off ye go.
***
Elsewhere, Irenicus and Imoen were led before a leader of the Cowled Wizards.
Magical wards were carefully maintained by their guards, to prevent any use of magic by
the captives. Imoen walked slowly, her shoulders slumped. Irenicus walk was bold, as if
surrounded by an honor guard, not jailers. One of the guards spoke.
These are the prisoners from the disturbance at Waukeens Promenade.
What is known? asked the Cowled Wizards leader.
Naught but their names. The mage is Jon Irenicus. The girl is Imoen.

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

I didnt do anything, protested Imoen, he did it all, I had


Silence, child, Irenicus interrupted. Allow the fool to make his judgement.
The leader glared at the guards. Why was this man not gagged? Did he not slay four
of you?
We dared not approach, said one guard.
Regardless, in the end he came willingly, temporized a second.
What should be done with them sir? asked a third.
They are deviants. Let them rot in Spellhold, was the unhesitating reply. A
momentary swirl of magical energy and the prisoners and their guards were gone.

Recruitment
Tamarth walked into a large square. The buildings about the square were well-built;
carefully manicured trees and shrubs filled the square itself. He assumed he must be in
the Government District.
A gnome standing under one of the trees called out to him, Are you interested in
purchasing a bit o merchandise, my friend?
Why not? he replied. What merchandise do you carry, good gnome?
Well, youve got the look of an adventurer about you. Ive been one myself, betwixt
stints as a turnip salesman that is. Occasionally the markets get down and the formerly
self-respecting purveyors of fine veggies are forced to prostitute their abilities in the form
of adventuring.
Tamarth decided he liked the gnome, answering, Yes, of course. Mobile vegetable
peddling versus heroism, the eternal question.
You understand implicitly. That reminds me of the time that dear Cousin Josephine
fell in with that gully dwarf. Miserable bloke, really. Bad teeth, rancid smell, truly a joke
o the gods. We used to torment Josey, that was my pet name for her, about her teensy-
weensy nose and the way that it hooked in to her
What is your point?
My point, o-so-friendly one, is that Ive items to sell you that are especially created,
by yours truly, to aid one on the dangerous path to heroism. Theyre known as Jan
Jansens (thats me) Flasher Master Bruiser Mate. Now pay attention, you take one o
these babies and chuck it at average Joe Orc, close your eyes real tight and WHOOSH!,
hes running around in circles clutching at his eyeballs and screaming and yelling like
Uncle Sven after three days on a turnip beer bender
Hold gnome, in the name of the Amnian Revenue and Taxation Board, stated a
man who had walked up to the group. He was trailed by a guard carrying a halberd.
Argh, not again, complained Jan. That bottom-feeding, turnip-hating, scum-
sucking brigand! Nothing better to do than stop an honest business man from selling high
quality illegal Flashers for a reasonable price. Here he comes, cover for me.

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Jan Jansen, gnomish citizen of Amn, said the man formally, you have been
charged with tax evasion and the illegal sale of illegal items in an illegal manner.
Trax, old friend, Jan said ingratiatingly. You do me a great wrong! I would never
break the law. As my pappy always said
Enough! yelled Trax. Youll not sidetrack me with your cursed tales again. Im
smarter than you think! Traxs guard couldnt hold back a snicker at this statement.
Shutup, you! Latrine duty beckons, said Trax to the guard, who abruptly stood to
attention. Thats better.
Trax addressed Jan. Weve been onto you for days, Jansen. Weve caught you in the
very act of selling your dangerous and illegal contraptions.
What cruel fate! Falsely accused by an old friend!
Im not your friend, Jansen.
Youre not anyones friend, muttered the guard, unfortunately for him loudly
enough that Trax could hear.
Oh, thats it! Do you enjoy guarding used chamber pots?
Sorry, sir, said the guard meekly.
I swear this job will land me in an asylum. For the first time, Trax addressed
Tamarth. And who might you be? Youre certainly no regular customer of this felon.
None of your business, Trax, replied Tamarth shortly. He was in no mood to bandy
words with a petty bureaucrat who had an inflated opinion of himself.
Listen, now peasant, said Trax, you will cooperate. I represent the law.
You heard me. Ill answer none of your questions.
Do you wish to be executed for not cooperating?
Tamarth looked at Trax in disbelief, wondering if he would be so ready with his
threats with a length of steel in his guts. Aloud, he said Do you truly believe that you
have the strength to kill me?
You may either answer me peacefully or I shall summon those who will kill you
instead. What say you?
Do your worst! taunted Tamarth angrily.
You have brought this doom upon yourselves, lawbreakers. Tamarth was surprised
to find that a group of soldiers and mages had been waiting nearby, who attacked at
Traxs word.
I will not tolerate actions such as this! complained Minsc. We should strive to be
just and fair. Despite his words, he was forced by Tamarths action to join the battle
against the Amnish soldiers.
Tamarth immediately led Yoshimo and Minsc from the square, followed by the
guards. The guards running after them became strung out, and he took advantage of that
to stop and face the first guard. Killing him, he ran a little farther, repeating his ploy to

16
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

fell a second guard. When the remaining guards reached the scene of combat he was able
to kill them as well, with his companions help.
The mages with the soldiers had remained back in the square. His anger raging,
Tamarth did not try to avoid them, but led the others back to face them. With some
difficulty the mages were overcome. Minsc died here, already badly wounded fighting
the guards, brought down by the spells of the mages. Tamarth was relieved at Minscs
death. Minsc would have been an obstacle to Tamarths plans, and it would have been
necessary to remove him from the party anyway.
On the other hand, Tamarth was going to have to come up with coin to bribe city
officials to forget about this incident. Fortunately, selling the late guards equipment
should provide most of what would be needed.
Jan was still in the square. When Tamarth approached him, he said, There goes a
truly evil man. Uncle Scratchy seems like a saint in comparison. Regardless, it seems that
Im once again out of the black market. At least until I scrounge up a fortune to set up my
business and have Traxs superiors well bribed. Do you be needing a hand in your
party?
What skills can you offer my party? asked Tamarth.
A fast mouth, a handy shot with a crossbow and all the illegal machinery that I can
invent.
Tamarth was impressed with Jan, especially since he suspected the gnome was also
an illusionist. I would like to have you join my party.
Let us depart then, my new companion. Ive an itch to pepper a few hobgoblins
with crossbow bolts.
You should probably know that Ive business with a powerful wizard named
Irenicus. Tamarth wondered if Jan could possibly have heard of him.
Ive had dangerous dealings with a wizard or two, myself. In fact, Golodon the
Unmanned had the most dangerous breath this side of Rashemen. A casual conversation
between him and Rozar the Unwilling almost started the Guild War of 42, you know. All
those spells he cast, thinking he was cursed, and all he really needed was a good dentist.
Of course, you show me a dentist whose willing to yank a rotten tooth out of the mouth
of a cranky wizard and Ill show you a pig with wings. Big ones. They have them in the
Moonshaes, you know. But enough about me.
Okay, lets go, said Tamarth. He noticed a crowd on the far side of the square.
They were evidently too engrossed in what they were viewing to have paid attention to
the excitement where he was standing.
Curious, he walked over towards the crowd. Pushing his way through them to their
front, he came upon a woman tied to a stake, brands ready for a fire piled about her feet.
Surprisingly, he recognized the woman.
Shar! My deliverance is in your hands! she cried, then paused, in her turn
recognizing Tamarth. WaitI recognize you! Tamarth! It is I! Viconia DeVir! You

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

must remember! My life depends on it! Please, Tamarth, I beg of you! Save me from
these madmen!!
Look ye all upon this foul drow that we have bound before ye! yelled a man,
inciting the crowd. A creature of evil and darkness, my brethren! A creature of foulness
and deceit, bent only on our destruction! This creature has foolishly come amongst us,
my brethren, thinking that we would be lax in our senses! Tell me what should be done
with it!
Various individuals answered from the crowd, Burn it! Burn her!! Burn the
drow!!
A young man from the crowd stepped forward to address the others. Aye, burn the
elf! Her dark and fiendish kin rose up from their underground homes and killed my father
and my brother! They are all evil, I tell you! All of them!
Then the drow shall burn! yelled the fanatic triumphantly. Gather round, my
brethren, and witness the will of Beshaba triumph over foul evil!
You rivvin are mad! yelled Viconia from the stake. I have done nothing to any of
you! I seek only to make my way without molestation! Why have you done this?!
Why?!
Done nothing?! was yelled from the crowd. You are a drow elf, are you not?!
That is as good a reason as any!
Ye shall be silent, evil one! admonished the fanatic. The power of the Maid of
Misrule will be demonstrated here today!
The crowd, aroused, demanded that the burning start immediately.
No! Nau!! Oloth plynn djal!! Viconia cried in her native tongue.
Spout your evil speech if ye must, drow, said the fanatic, but prepare yourself for
your journey into the next world! Beg for forgiveness, beg for salvation! And hope that
the cleansing fire will save ye!!
Please, I beg of you! Free me! Viconia directly addressed Tamarth again. I have
done nothing to deserve this treatment! Please!!
Tamarth had traveled with Viconia for a while near Baldurs Gate. He remembered
her favorably as an extremely competent cleric. However, there had been some friction
when he suggested they sleep together. It was perhaps that which had caused him to
delay, letting Viconia wonder whether he would save her, or stand by and watch her burn.
He now stepped forward, cutting her free.
Praise the goddess! said Viconia. My thanks for your timely intervention!
What are ye doing?! asked the fanatic in disbelief. Why have ye interfered with
the judgement of Beshaba?! Her will must be shown to the people!
Allies of the foul creature! Allies of the drow!! yelled another man, by his dress a
companion of the fanatic.

18
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

This can never be allowed!! The drow dies!! said a third. The fanatic and his two
companions produced weapons, attacked.
The crowd scattered, while Tamarth and his companions killed the three fanatics.
I owe you my life, abbil, said Viconia afterwards. You have saved me once again.
I did nothing to provoke their attack, I tell you! I was passing through the city when the
man guessed my identity under my hood. I was surprised and he called out to others,
revealing me. I suppose they assumed I was here to spy on themfools! They are so
quick to fear, these rivvin! But, comewe must be on our way soon if we are to avoid
drawing another crowd. I distrust these barbaric people too much to hang about. It would
be both a privilege and an honor to join you, Tamarth. What say you to my proposal?
Certainly. I trust youll be a worthy addition to our cause, replied Tamarth
promptly, his mind crowded with lustful images.
Khaless ussa, intrepid one, a spirited campaign and the pitiless slaughter of our foes
await! Shar tlu malla!
Viconia looked about the square, and its hurrying human population, commenting to
no one in particular, The stink of the collected rivvinhow I despise them all.
Tamarth walked towards the most imposing building fronting on the square, which
he assumed would contain government offices. As he neared the front door a man
stopped him.
Greetings. You are known to me, he said. Or your deeds are known to those I
serve. I think I should introduce myself. I am Madeen. I represent one of the masters of
the Athkatla order of the Cowled Wizards. He seeks to employ you in a matter of some
urgency.
Tamarth was not pleased to encounter someone else who knew so much about him.
The Cowled Wizards? he replied. They are the ones that arrested Imoen. I would be
very interested in speaking to them about that.
I do not know anything about that. I represent one of the wizards, as I said, a Master
Tolgerias. Perhaps you could speak to him of this Imoen?
Very well. How do I go about meeting this Tolgerias fellow?
He will be most pleased. Master Tolgerias can be found in the government building
behind meyou may go within. Do not tarry overlong, my friend.
Tamarth entered the building, quickly locating Tolgerias.
Ah, yes, I see Madeen has proven to be his faithful self, as usual, said Tolgerias
when he approached him. How do you do, my Lord, considering the city is so harsh on
strangers, eh? Perhaps Madeen has let slip a little of what this is about? No? Hmm. Well,
yes, I do have something I would like you very much to do, if youd care to hear it.
First I would like to know where Imoen is, stated Tamarth.
Imoen? Ahthe girl arrested along with the wizard. I do not have such
inconsequential information on me, so put aside such demands.

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

I had hoped differently, but a chance is better than nothing. Tamarth had not really
expected to get any useful information from a Cowled Wizard. Tell me more about the
reward and I may be more inclined.
The rewardadventurers have much use for items the Cowled Wizards hold. It is
sad that magic is so despised in Athkatla, for it has many uses. We will offer you an item
of substantial magical power as well as a good deal of gold coin. But, again, I must have
your word on the matter before I continue.
If that is how it must be, then I agree. You have my word, said Tamarth. He had no
objection to giving up something of so little value.
Excellent. Your agreement means that the Cowled Wizards shall hold you to your
word. This matter must be handled with discretion and expediency. There is something
that has been plaguing us for more than a week, now, and has become quite alarming.
You know of the prevailing attitude against magic here in Amn, yes? Well, amongst
some it is even worse than thata burning, palpable hatred. One particular man here in
Athkatla has murdered two of our number in cold blood. He is currently in hiding, and we
need you to track the fellow down. We have been unable to do so, much to our
frustration. Cowled Wizards cannot be assaulted without repercussions or it will lead
toserious problems.
Who is this murderer, then, and how am I supposed to track him down when you
failed?
He is Valygar Corthala, last son of a wealthy family and a true brute. Ask around
and you may discover if he is hiding within the city or someplace else. He has a home in
the Docks district, or he may have fled to the Umar Hills. His friends and servants will
not speak to us, but they may to you.
And just what am I supposed to do with this Valygar fellow once I find him?
We do not ask that you commit any murder. We wish Valygar be delivered to us,
that is all. He will likely resist, so if you must kill him so be it. But if you do kill him, I
simply must have his body. Valygar must be delivered to us whether he is dead or alive,
you understand, yes?
Tamarth cared little whether the details of the case were accurate, as long as he
obtained the promised reward. Very well, then. I shall do my best to procure this
murderer for you.
You gave your word, so I expect nothing less.
As they were leaving, a bureaucrat addressed Viconia. Tamarth noticed that although
Viconia had raised the hood of her cloak over her head, she made little other effort to
hide her face. It was almost as if, made confidant by her companions, she was daring
anyone to make some comment.
Wait, said the civil servant, thats a dark elf, isnt it? A dark elf tax was brought
into being by the Council of 1107all dark elves must pay a daily fee to remain in the
city.

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

I paid my dues when rivven attempted to burn me at the stake, elgcaress,


answered Viconia coldly. Ask me again to pay for the privilege of visiting your city
and you will forfeit your tongue.
Well, ernever mind, then, he replied, hastily backing down.
Tamarth decided to return to the slums. The inn Gaelan Bayle had mentioned, the
Copper Coronet, might supply more recruits for his party. He also thought he could sell
the equipment he had gotten from the Amnish guards there without raising unfortunate
questions.
Inside the inn, he approached a dwarf. Heavily armored, his scarred face reflected
the kind of experience Tamarth was looking for.
Drink Hail! Wassail for all! said the dwarf. I be curious, friends. Im scouring for
a band of desperate men to aid me in a gallant task. Ye look like ye keep undertakers in a
brisk trade. Ave ye courage and time fer a tale?
Well listen to your tale, replied Tamarth noncommittally.
Belly up, comrades, and let Korgan flail the bladder for a spell. A fortnight past, me
fellows and I were in the midst of obtaining an ancient text fer our patron when a
skirmish visited our midst. Vile words, alas, became a lake of bloodshed. So it goes the
sacred grimoire neer made it to our benefactors hand. And now he awaits its arrival with
a zeal reserved for a grog-blossom in an alekeg. The scuttlebutt is the pay is handsome
and worthy of note--sacks of loot and odd magics. The volume sits not far from ere and
the bibliomaniac he paces the floor in the meantime.
Who is this book collector? Why his interest in this particular timeworn manual?
Pimlico collects books just fer the pleasure of collecting. Arcane, bizarre, peculiar;
it matters not. Upon hearin of a curious map, chart or book es travelled countless
leagues to obtain it, fearful of entrusting his commission to anyone else. This were his
first outside hire. As fer the book itself, it nay matters to me what lays twixt its skins. Ill
not risk knowing Ive bled for Elminsters memoirs or a Drizzt loblolly recipe. Tis called
the Book of Kaza.
Where is the book then, Korgan?
In some hobnails tomb over in the lower crypts of the Grave District. Its nay
abandoned but rumors and half-truths only scare the young and infirm. Keeps the curious
away, me guess.
Is there something we should know about this tomb?
Well. itll take far more than a few shambling bags of skin and stitches to deter
Korgan Bloodaxe from a kings ransom! A foolhardy jaunt into a hive of undead? How
could ye resist?
Well join you in plundering this crypt of its riches, agreed Tamarth, liking what
he had heard.
Drink Hail! Then let us posthaste to the crypt and riches beyond ken!

21
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Is anyone willing to hear my plea? Anyone? Tamarth heard from behind him.
Turning, he saw a young woman standing in the middle of the common room. She
nervously rubbed her hands on her sides as she called out to the room.
You all know me, Ive helped some of you! Is this the thanks I get? Ive helped lots
of your kind!
The woman noticed Tamarths interest, pointing at him. You! Are you for hire? As
a mercenary, I mean? You look capable and hearty, like youve had formal training.
Yes, yes, I can probably help you, but I require ample reward for my efforts.
You dont even know what I ask but you wish to know the payment? I will reward
you, but we must hurry. I cannot guarantee it if my land is looted. Will you help?
I will help, but I will need to know exactly what is going on. Who are we fighting
and why?
There is no time! I only hope that the attackers have not made it inside. If they
haveif they have breached the inner courtyard they will be hard to rout. I will tell you
what secrets I can. Perhaps you will be able to sneak in and attack from a more
vulnerable spot. I hope Father is all right. Hewould not leave. Should I travel with you?
Ive spent a few weeks slumming, and I am quite capable of opening the odd lock. I had
to pick three just to get out of the main keep. Aunty doesnt like me leaving at night, but
how else can I donate to the poor and not be noticed? They have pride too, andI really
shouldnt be seen with them.
Tamarth saw no need for such an obvious neophyte. The task she mentioned,
however, was another matter. It might be an opportunity to obtain some loot to replace
what Irenicus had stolen. I dont think I need an extra hand right now. I will meet you
there if you point the way.
Very well, said the woman, but if you reconsider, Ive always wanted to travel.
Do you help other people often? I really like helping the less fortunate. I am told they
work so hard.
Oh, this be a fine one, chuckled Korgan to Tamarth. A sprout with nay sense in
her bloody head. Help others, is it? Help me, lass, by keeping yer mouth shut, an Ill be
pleased enough.
I will meet you at my land, she said, ignoring Korgan. We had best gather south
of the keep, so we are not spotted. Please be quick. She told them her name was Nalia
deArnise, and described how to get to her familys castle.
Tamarth walked about the common room, looking for any other likely recruits. As he
passed a table at which three men were seated one called out.
Oy! Look at th dolly boy, all sacked up like an adventurer. Are ye supposed to be
tough or something, aye?
Watch your tongue, churl, or youll lose it quickly enough, said Tamarth shortly,
not really interested in fighting.

22
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Oy! Oy! That sounds like a bleedin challenge, it does. Ive no fear of ye, dolly boy.
How about it, then, aye? Ye want to fight?
No, Ill not accept your challenge. Ive had enough of this, Tamarth replied,
fighting a rising anger. He didnt want to waste time on the fool.
Ye are! Ye are! I bleedin coward amongst us! Ha ha! Very well then, coward, be
on yer way. Come back when yere ready to face a real man! Ha ha!
Aye, come back when ye can face a real man, fancy boy! Ha! said one of the other
men at the table.
You knows it, Amalas! You knows it! added the third.
Tamarth glared at Amalas. He decided he could spare the time. You seem eager to
engage in a fight. Very well, then. I challenge you to one, cur.
A fight, eh? YOU want to challenge ME? Ha ha ha! said Amalas.
Imagine at! said one of Amalass companions. Looks like he wants t challenge
the mighty Amalas!
Oh, you is askin fer it, now, you is! Ha ha! put in his other companion.
So be it! said Amalas, then turned to a man standing nearby. Hey, SURLY!!
What?! What is it?! asked Surly.
All right then, friend. Lets step into the ring, shall we? said Amalas.
Amalas and Tamarth stepped into a small fighting ring located right in the common
room. As he had expected, Tamarth easily killed his opponent.
Ye killed Amalas, you bastard! said one of Amalass ruffian companions after the
fight.
You killed Amalas! What am I gonna tell my mom? added the other.
As the party moved to sit at a table, to share a few drinks in celebration of Korgans
joining them, a man laid his arm on Viconias arm.
Hmmmn. I always love a dark, brooding woman, said the man. I sense that you
have a sensuous nature, my elven beauty
You do not know the half of it, male, said Viconia.
Indeed? Perhaps we couldfind someplace more private and discuss the things we
have in common?
You do not interest me, male. And I doubt that you could withstand the force of
drow passion.
Id be willing to die if that is what it took to partake of your swarthy lust, my
dear
Hmmsuddenly I am tempted. But no. Go away, male.
They sat down and ordered ales. When Korgan was asked about his past, they
learned little more than he was known as Korgan Bloodaxe. Persisting in their

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

questioning, he growled that unless they wanted to end up like the members of his last
scum-sucking, traitorous party, theyd best keep their over-curious noses to themselves.
Seeing as the dwarf was only slightly short of a necklace of ears in proving his enjoyment
of slaughter, they decided to obey his request. Except Viconia.
From the little Korgan had said it was obvious he had spent time far underground,
and was familiar with the drow. Viconia asked, Korgan, Im interested in whether your
clan has ever had interaction with House DeVir? It seems to me, if memory serves, that
our sphere of influence was quite close to your Bloodaxe clans stronghold near Talthalra
Wernnt Szithla Haroloth.
Nay speak that vile tongue to me, blackskin, said Korgan. If it moves Ive killed
it, but if it be drow, Ive tortured it fer days, first. As fer that house of yers, I burned it
and relieved meself on the embers and dead. And the necklace of darkelf ears fetched me
a kings ransom in Waterdeep.
Tamarth was surprised at Viconias question, since he had been trying to start a
conversation with her while walking from the Government district. She had been silent or
responded with only one or two words to his sallies. He had been frustrated, hoping for
more gratitude after her rescue.
The group fell into silence around the table; after a few more ales they sought their
beds for the night.
That night Tamarth was troubled by a dream. He dreamt of Imoen, Irenicus and
Candlekeep, where he had grown up. In the morning, the only thing he clearly
remembered was the mention of the potential within himself. It echoed the words Irenicus
has spoken when he had been imprisoned, his untapped potential as a child of Bhaal.

Renal Bloodscalps Offer


The next day Tamarth decided to explore more of Athkatla, picking a direction and
walking. Somewhat later he reached the top of a small hill. A few blocks ahead the street
he was on ended at docks.
Ahhh, Yoshimo said, clearing his throat to get Tamarths attention, perhaps this is
a good time to tell you of something, Tamarth, seeing as you are leading us into the
Docks and everything. This is Shadow Thief territorywhich I have had a couple of run-
ins with over the past few months. They dont tend to appreciate independent operators
like myself. So the last time they caught me operating in the city, I was told either to
report to the head of the guild in the Docks, Renal Bloodscalp, or suffer the
consequences. Seems that Renal needs an outsider to deal with a problem, and was
willing to trade my punishment by the guild for a service. Failure to go to himmight be
a bit messy. Now, Im pretty safe with you, Id think, but its up to you. If we go and see
Renal, we might be able to talk him into a reward, and itll avoid complications later on.
What do you think, Tamarth? I dont want to cause any problems, here. I just wanted to
bring this up, both to warn you and perhaps mention a possible opportunity for us both.
Very well. Perhaps we should go and talk to this Renal, said Tamarth. It couldnt
hurt to meet one of the powers of the city, and it just might turn out to be profitable.

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Whenever its convenient, said Yoshimo, the guild headquarters is here in the
Docks and shouldnt be difficult to find. I just hope they let us in withoutproblems.
They followed a narrow path down the hill, actually walking on the roofs of
tenements below in some stretches. As they were passing a halfling he suddenly called
out to Viconia.
There once was an elf of the Dark,
whose bite was far worse than her bark.
Left without a home,
on the surface shell roam,
in the sun she might just make her mark.
I do not bark, you gibbering fool, Viconia angrily responded. What do you
know of me? The halfling answered with only an insane laugh. Tamarth thought for a
moment Viconia would slay him, but she turned away.
The path they followed ended at the water. Yoshimo told them they needed to follow
the street they were now on for a little while, paralleling the docks. Then a short climb
back up the hill would bring them to the Thieves Guild.
A guard stationed outside the guild recognized Tamarth, saying Ay, now. You
there! You a friend of Gaelans? Me boss says yere welcome to enter, if ye likes.
They entered. Several thieves were in the room they stood in. Tamarth asked one of
them about the guild.
This place? Well, the guards let you in, so you must belong here, said the man.
This is the guildhall for the Shadow Thieves. Let me bid you welcome, friend.
The thieves all wore black cloaks, the same as those worn by the attackers of
Irenicus hideout. Obviously the Shadow Thieves were interested in helping him, through
Gaelan Bayle. Tamarth wondered what they really wanted for their help.
Aloud, Tamarth asked, Who are you?
Heh. If you have to ask, you sure havent been here long. I be Sidge, one of the
good fellows here in the Shadow Thieves.
The Shadow Thieves? You admit to being a thief? asked Tamarth curiously.
Bite yer tongue, Im no thief! Im an assassin of the highest order. Youd be well-
advised to guard your tongue here amongst the Shadow Thieves.
Ill talk as I wish, said Tamarth angrily. And to whom I wish.
Then one of your wishes must be to die, too, because if you keep up that tone, here,
itll be granted soon enough. Sidge, however, did not follow up on this threat, letting
them pass.
At Yoshimos urging, they continued upstairs, passing a dozen more thieves. They
came upon a man Yoshimo pointed out as Renal Bloodscalp. There was little outward
indication of his power; only the attention the thieves around him paid to his words
indicated his importance.

25
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

My, my, said Renal. If it isnt the freelancer, Yoshimo, come to see me at last. I
had nearly thought that the streets had opened up and swallowed you whole, dear lad.
I am so pleased that you gave any thought at all to my well-being, sire, said
Yoshimo a little nervously. It is always good to be remembered by ones peers.
Well now, that would imply that you were one of my peers, as opposed to a rag-tag
independent infringing on our territory. You are just too much, Yoshi.
Yoshimo, if you please, sire. Where I come from, such a pet name is only used
bywell, let us say that you and I have not become so familiar just yet, hm?
Point taken. Have you finally come to pay your debt for your recent activities, or
are we to simply trade barbs until I am forced to do something hideous?
I have come as you have commanded, sire. You have a task for me?
I thought I did, but it appears you have done something better. Your traveling
companion is of interest and you have brought him before me. My thanks.
Youwill not endanger him, sire? It would be a poor treatment of my honor if my
companion was brought to danger because of my debt.
No, no. Nothing like that, I assure you. Now let me speak to your companion for a
moment.
Renal regarded Tamarth. Youll have to excuse me if I stare, as youre not quite
what I was expecting. From all I have been told, I was expecting someonelarger.
What exactly have you been told of me? asked Tamarth wearily, tired of meeting
people who seemed to know all about him.
Oh, Ive been told many tales of your exploits. Some bits of your activities here in
Athkatla as well as further north. You must understand, naturally, that an organization
like mine thrives on information above all else. He who is ignorant quickly becomes a
target, and all that.
Who exactly are you? You are the leader of the Shadow Thieves, I presume?
My name is Renal, as Im sure youve been told. Renal Bloodscalpa little
nickname Ive earned over time. Rather grisly, but it keeps the fearful in line. As an
aside, I am not the leader of the Shadow Thieves as you perhaps mean, but I lead
enough that it makes no difference to you. But this is irrelevant.
What is it you wish of me, then?
Right to the point, eh? Refreshing. I am sick of underlings who shift from foot to
foot. I find a bit of directness to be a nice change. To be short, Gaelan recommended you,
and I trust his word. I am in need of mercenaries to perform a particular task, and you are
just the one to do it.
Why would you need me? Why not get one of your thieves to do it?
A fair question. Any of my available assassins or thieves are quite capable, and on a
normal day I would not consider it necessary to look beyond my guild. In this one

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

instance, however, my men are limited. I need someone of skill who is not one of the
Shadow Thievessomeone more or less unknown to us. Someone, I trust, like yourself.
I see. And what would I be paid for performing such a service for you?
Ah yes, we all arrive at this point eventually. Whats in it for you? Well, since this
is a rather delicate mission, I have a rather unusual offer for you. I have been looking for
someone of your particular talents and abilities. You have a reputation, and I wish to see
if it holds true. If it does, and MaeVar proves to be guiltyand of that I have little
doubtthen you will have proven yourself to me fully. At that point I would offer you
the position which poor MaeVar would be forced to vacate. How about it, Tamarth?
Interested in running your own guildhouse?
I would like to know more details about this task before I agree to anything.
Tamarth was suspicious of the offer. The job Renal outlined was plausible, but why offer
a guild to a stranger?
Yes, the details. How shall I put this? One of my guildhouses to the south is run by
a rather ambitious fellow named MaeVar. Good thief, but I never liked him. Now I know
why. Ive had some hints that he is getting too big for himself. Thinking of taking my
place, I suspect, but Ive had no real evidence to say that this is so. Now, youre likely
thinking: why not just eliminate him? Yes, yes, I suppose I could. But without proof of
betrayal, this would anger the other guildmasters and then Id have a war on my hands
and, well, just let it lie that I dont want that.
Heh hehespecially not with that extra guild out there on the streets, eh,
Bloodscalp? said Jan. Tamarth wondered what Jan was talking about. Come to think of
it, thats quite the moniker you got yourself, there. How did it come about? Severe
dandruff problems? If thats the case, Ma Jansen has the most wonderful turnip salve that
will clear that right up, quick as you please. You might want to think about itpeople
might be tempted to give you a nicer nickname if you had a pleasant head of hair.
So, where was I? said Renal, ignoring Jan. Oh, yes. Your part in this. I would like
you to go to MaeVar and join his guild. I will give you papers saying you were being
transferred by the Shadow Master. You will spy on MaeVar from the inside and find me
the evidence that I need. Once he is damned with proof, you can take care of this
nuisance and eliminate MaeVar. One less headache for a busy man such as myself to be
concerned with. Youll need to reassure MaeVar, naturally. He wont know who you
are, but I am confident that you are more than capable of this. What say you? Interested?
Very well, Ill do as you ask, said Tamarth. He might be falling in with a scheme
of the Shadow Thieves, but there would be opportunity to twist it to benefit himself.
Excellent. I knew this would work out for the best. You remind me a bit of myself
when I first arrived here. In case you are wondering, Yoshimo, this will ease your
freelance activity debts. So long as you help Tamarth, they will be overlookedfor
now.
You are too good to me, sire, said Yoshimo.
The first part that needs to be taken care of, naturally, is finding the evidence on
MaeVar. Here are the papers you need to present to MaeVars men to gain access. Im

27
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

sure I dont have to tell you to be careful, do I? No, I didnt think so. Just head to the
storefront in the central Docks area and speak to the storekeeper, Gorch. Show the papers
to him and hell let you in the guildhouse proper. Work for MaeVar as long as it takes to
collect your evidence, and bring whatever you can find to me. Ill be waiting to receive it
most eagerly.
As they left, Yoshimo commented, This is an excellent opportunity, Tamarthfor
us all. Remember, though, that you must act as a loyal guild member at all times or our
cover will be destroyed.
They left the guild, walking back down towards the water. After a few blocks they
entered the shop which acted as a front for MaeVars guild.
Ahado come in, come in, greeted the man behind the counter. Take a look
around, if you wish. I am Gorch, the humble proprietor of this modest establishment.
I am here to see MaeVar, said Tamarth.
Ahwhy did you not simply say so earlier? You have something written for me,
yes, hm? Tamarth handed over his papers. Hmum-hmmnyes. Everything appears
to be in order. You can see MaeVarthrough the door in the back. So nice to meet you,
my good friend.
Taking the papers back, Tamarth passed through a door behind the shopkeeper. A
thief standing in the room beyond said, Ach, what is it? Is there a fire? Whats the
trouble?
Who are you? asked Tamarth.
Me? Names Gorvin. I dont suppose you have a bottle o rotgut stored away in
there, somewhere, do you? Ahhh, I suppose not. Who are you, anyway?
Im Tamarth. I was transferred here.
Transferred, eh? Well, that was bloody quick, Lin not even bein cold or nothin.
Ah, well, good t meet ya, Tamarth.
Could you tell me where MaeVar is?
Well, hes gone down to the cellar, he has. Workin on poor old Lin, he is. Mighty
shame, that. Hmm. Gotta be a bottle round here somewheres.
Thanks, Ill be on my way.
Well, I didnt miss ya before you talked to me, did I? Or did I? Terrible thing, losin
your memory. My medicines gotta be hereI just had it, Im sure
Tamarth went downstairs. Opening a concealed door in the cellar, he entered a short
passage flanked by two cells. At the end, the passage opened up into a small chamber,
fitted with the tools of a torturer. Several men were in the chamber. One turned from
where he had been working, applying some of the tools in the room to a man laid out on a
table before him.
Hello then, I certainly hope youve got a reason to be bothering me, said the man
who must be MaeVar, because Im quite busy, as you can see. Ah, poor Lin passed out.
Ive a few minutes to spare then. Who are you and why shouldnt I kill you?

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No need for that; Im here as reinforcement, said Tamarth. Renal Bloodscalp sent
me.
And I am sure you have letters of authorization or that sort of thing. Irrelevant. How
about we throw you on the rack and make sure you are who you say you are? Or perhaps
not. Scared you did I? Fear will keep you honest. You dont want to end up like Lin here,
with me having to test your honesty. Difficult to do with certainty.
Better that he die an honest man than live as a liar and endanger us all, replied
Tamarth, trying to keep the contempt out of his voice at MaeVars transparent attempt to
scare him.
Such thoughts are akin to mine, but I will hold you no closer knowing you are as
cold as I. Instead, a simple quest to test your worth and pad our coffers. Ill make the
chore something amusing so you dont dislike me from the start. How about a little petty
larceny amidst the stuffed robes over at the Talos temple? I requirethe amulet worn by
the Weathermistress. Yes, it looked lovely on her, and Ive a beautiful sheltie-spaniel
cross that it will adorn just as well. You need not kill her to get it. She likely removes it in
the night. As pleasing as it is, even it would leave a welt the size of a melon if slept upon.
Now get moving! Ive told you the mark, you do the rest. Pick it from her in her sleep if
you must, but do not bother me again without the goods!
You want to steal into the temple of Talos, do you? said Jan. Ouch, now thats no
light task. I once knew a comrade who tried to lift a thing or two from under the nose of
the Talassansand I speak of him in the past tense naturally, as the Talassans are
overfond of lightning and my friend mistook his Boots of Grounding for his steel-toe
boots that evening with predictable results. Still, it sounds like a lark.
Jan paused for a moment, eyeing Tamarths feet. He glanced back up at his face,
asking, You wouldnt happen to be resistant to electricity, would you?
As they left Tamarth noticed only one prisoner in the cells. He paused, curious why
he was there.
Mercy sir! Mercy if you please! cried the prisoner to him.
Quiet, you! yelled MaeVar from the room beyond. Tamarth, leave my prisoner
alone. It is not your affair.
But Master MaeVar. It has been a decade the prisoner started to protest.
Silence Kamuzu! Do you wish to visit the table again?
No, II shall remain quiet, Master.
Tamarth went back upstairs. A new thief was there, who asked, I dont recognize
you. What do you want?
Who are you? asked Tamarth.
Im Zyntris. And lets just get this straight, now, so theres no mistaking it later,
alright? Im the senior cutpurse. Menot nobody else. Try to slide in on me and Ill stick
ya. Got it?

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Are you trying to threaten me? Tamarth smiled, putting his hand on the hilt of his
sword.
Erno, no. Of course not. Just tryin to inform ya of the ranks, is all.
Satisfied at the answer, Tamarth went up some stairs to the floor above. He had
entered a room that evidently was devoted to training new thieves. A female thief in the
room spoke to him.
Why, hello there. Mmm, if it isnt a new face. How very thrilling.
Who are you?
Well, the real question here is what is your name, darling? I could tell you that my
name is Anishai, but that would prevent me from hearing the delectable tones of your
name, first.
My name is Tamarthpleased to meet you.
Tamarthhow utterly delicious. I shall recite it over and over to myself in-between
each of our meetings. Which, I do hope, will not be too far between, hm?
I must be going, now. Tamarth was disappointed that his exchange with Anishai
had not provoked some jealous comment from Viconia.
Already? How sad, said Anishai.
There was another floor to the guild above this one, but Tamarth decided he had seen
enough. There was nearly half a day until it would be late enough at night to attempt the
theft. He told the others to meet him in the Copper Coronet near midnight.
At the appointed time Tamarth, Yoshimo, Jan, Viconia and Korgan left the Copper
Coronet, headed towards the Temple District where Yoshimo said the Temple of Talos
was located.
Friend Korgan, you are truly a paragon of dwarven ill-humor, said Yoshimo as
they walked. Can you find no joy in being alive? The smell of the morning dew and the
feel of the free air?
Aye, replied Korgan, I find pleasure in the feel of an inquisitive thiefs neck-bone
breakin between me hands.
They could write a book about you. Irritable Dwarven Responses, theyd call it. It
would be a best-seller amongst the smelly-old-drunk market. What say you?
Mayhaps ye should, only Pleasures of the Dwarven Bed-Chamber is a more
pleasing and accurate subject.
Ho! Is it, now? How about The Unbathed Adventurer: Travels with Korgan?
Worry not, thief. Theres naught wrong with yer idea that a sharp blow to yer idiot
skull wouldnt fix. Here is yer title and argue with me gauntlet if ye dare: Tall-Folk
Scourge: Yoshimo Beware! Now shut yer mouth and get to writing.
The theft itself proved absurdly simple. Tamarth sneaked into the quarters of the
weathermistress, and took the amulet from a chest by her bed.

30
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

As they walked back towards the docks, screams and yells came from ahead.
Curious, Tamarth continued forward. He could barely make out in the street ahead a
figure standing over several bodies. The figure moved towards them, becoming visible as
a pale skinned woman.
No, you are not to see this yet, said the woman. You have not chosen your side.
When the time comes, obey. Obey, or you will join the thieves in death. Such is the will
of the mistress.
What are you talking about? asked Tamarth. Why were you fighting these
people?
Such things are not for you to knowyet. When the time comes you will know
much, and if the Mistress bids it, you may also live.
The woman walked off, none of them attempting to stop her. Tamarth moved to
where the bodies lay on the ground. Off of one body he pulled a folded sheet. He read:
Proclamation of warning to all guild members:
The Shadow Council itself decrees that all chapters should be on their guard against
the upstart assassins guild usurping our membership. The lure of coin is naught but
bait, and it is suspected that the end of those that have defected has been most
bloody. No guild can rival the Shadow Thieves, so any that claim as such must have
darker motives. You have been warned of the cost of treachery.
Tamarth realized he had witnessed part of the guild war Jan had mentioned earlier.
From the condition of the bodies, the woman must have killed them with her bare hands;
she was obviously a vampire. He wondered how he could use this information.
When they returned to the guild MaeVar was still up, and in the basement.
Evidently, the torture chamber also served as his office.
Well, youre back at last, greeted MaeVar. Ill cancel the order to kill you then.
You have a few skills we might find useful after all. Now, lets have a look at that
amulet. Tamarth obediently handed it over.
Its a mystery how they walk with a dinner plate around their necks. Ill file it with
the other garbage sent to Calimshan. They like jewelry big, I hear. Now, lets put you to
some real work. I havent the time to piddle around with you, so my right hand man will
keep you busy until you can work for me personally. His name is Edwin. Bloody good
spellcaster, but he likes his luxuries. Usually happens to adventurers that hate the road.
Hes on the third floor above us. Get going.
Leaving MaeVar, they climbed to the top floor of the guild. There a mage dressed in
red greeted them.
Greetings. I am Edwin Odesseiron. You simians may refer to me merely as Sir, if
you prefer a lesssyllable intensive workout.
Edwin! Dont you recognize me? Its Tamarth, said Tamarth excitedly. He had
worked for a time with Edwin near Baldurs Gate, and remembered him as a competent
spellcaster.

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

The past hardly matters. The company you currently keep now limits your use. No
matter, I shall make this transaction as quick and bloodless as possible. Hear me. It seems
my prowess as a mage has captured the eye of the Cowled Wizards. Im certain they are
envious, though their actions are not fitting tribute. They have dispatched an agent to
investigate my activities, something I dont appreciate. This insult must be punished by
killing the Cowled agent. Rayic Gethras is his name. His house is a gray three-story
behind a fence along the westward wall of the Docks District. If he is home, his door will
be open. When you find Rayic Gethras, kill him. Question him beforehand if you like.
Any insight into the Cowled Wizards is useful. A little torture would soften him.
Murder? Torture? We have no desire to commit such acts, said Tamarth, hoping to
provoke a reaction that might tell him why a man as proud as Edwin was working for
thieves.
Odd. Given your lineage I would have thought you capable of anything. Edwin
muttered under his breath, (Damned, I wish they would just do as I say.)
Lineage? What do you know of my heritage, Edwin? What are you privy to? asked
Tamarth suspiciously.
Edwin muttered, (By the shabby look of him it was a pairing of barnyard
proportions.) To Tamarth, he said, I meant nothing, I assure you. I merely ask that you
reconsider.
Tamarth flushed angrily. He now remembered something else about Edwin. Not only
did he hold everyone else in low esteem, he had the annoying habit of murmuring his
inner thoughts so loudly that everyone around him could hear him. Despite his faults,
Edwin could be a valuable addition to his party. Controlling his anger, he replied, Weve
little else on the go, so yes we will undertake your mission.
Good. Dont linger about then, get going! (Ugh, motivating these sloths is like
pulling teeth.)
They left the guild. The house of the Cowled Wizard was nearby. At they went to
enter, Yoshimo said, Are you not concerned about arousing the ire of the Cowled
Wizards for such a deed, Tamarth? Let us hope the blame falls on the Shadow Thieves
and not upon our own heads, eh?
Inside, they had to bypass several traps and fight a couple of unliving servants before
they reached the Cowled Wizard himself. Despite his power, he proved no match for the
group arrayed against him, and was defeated. They returned to the guild, and Edwin.
(My lackeys return, and none too soon,) muttered Edwin. Has the Cowled fool
been disposed of?
Yes. Hes pushing up daisies as we speak, Edwin.
Well done. An inconvenience that needed to be dealt with. Ive another mission for
you then, one that does not necessarily involve any bloodshed at all. This task is the
simple retrieval of some crucial documents, and you must be as discreet as possible. (As
if these club-footed fools will manage.)
What are these documents? Why so secretive?

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

The contents of the document are not your concern. Ask no questions you do not
need to know answers to.
Fair enough. Ill be on my way then.
You will find the documents on a merchant named Marcus. He may be found at the
Seas Bounty. Retrieve the document in any manner that you wish. I would suggest using
guile (but such subtle means are beyond these monkeys, I am sure.)
The Seas Bounty was a small inn in the Docks District. Inside, Jan easily picked the
pocket of the merchant Marcus for Edwins documents. Since it was late, Tamarth
decided to spend the night in the inn. Besides, he rather suspected that once Edwin went
to bed he would be a late riser.
The next morning, even after they dawdled over breakfast, they still had to wait for
Edwin to make himself ready before they presented themselves.
Do you have the documents I asked for? asked Edwin when he finally let them
come before him. This matter is more important than your average simple
correspondence.
Yes, the documents have been secured, said Tamarth.
Marvelous work, marvelous work. Youve obviously exceeded your lowborn
heritage and surged to the vanguard of goonery! Now, Ive conferred with MaeVar, and
there is a final task for you, a last test of loyalty. Go and he will give you your final
assignment.
They returned to the basement. Tamarth reflected that if nothing else, at least all this
climbing up and down stairs should leave them fit.
Edwin has been telling me you are, at the very least, competent, said MaeVar.
Fairly good at the sneaksmans trade, but a little ham-fisted when you fight. Exactly
what Im looking for. Ive a special task for you. You do this for me and youll be set
within the guild for whatever you need. Dont think it will be easy though. There is a
MaeVar theatrically held a finger to his lips, SHHHHHH!! There is a TRAITOR
amongst us! Yes, one who has abused the trust we have given him! He must be dealt with
in a permanent fashion. Embarl is his name, and you are to kill him with prejudice. Hes
at the Seas Bounty northwest of the guildhouse. Bring me his dagger to show you have
done the deed.
What will be my reward? Petty thievery is one thing, but this is murder.
Your reward? It should be an honor just to be asked. However, since the task is
dangerous, I will have something waiting for you when you return.
That will more than suffice. Consider the fool dead!
Good! Thats the spirit I like to see! Show him what it means to be a Shadow Thief,
and Ill have your reward here for you when you get back. Off with you!
They left the guild, headed for the nearby Seas Bounty. As they walked, Viconia
commented, One might wonder what such a gathering would consider a traitor. The

33
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

rivvil will likely be either a devil or a saint. Either way, let us track the cur down quickly,
if this is what we must do.
In the Seas Bounty they found Embarl. The fool had tried to hide barely a few dozen
steps from MaeVars guild. At least Embarl had the sense to realize why they were
there.
Youyoure here to kill me, arent you?! Please! Tell MaeVar it was all a
misunderstanding!
What misunderstanding? What are you talking about? asked Tamarth. It was
possible Embarl had information useful to himself.
I didnt mean toI overheard MaeVar talking to some of the other guildmembers
about killing Renal Bloodscalp! I cried out in shock and MaeVar heard me! Im as good
as dead, I know it! Please dont kill me, thoughIve been faithful to the Shadow
Thieves! I never wanted to get mixed up in this!
Do you have any proof of what youre saying?
No. I only know what I overheard MaeVar saying. The fact that he knows I heard
him means MaeVar will hunt me until he I am dead! Tamarth realized it might not be
necessary to kill Embarl.
You will have to come with me, then, to Renal himself, said Tamarth. You need
to tell him your story.
No, I cannot! protested Embarl. If I say anything to Renal, MaeVar will hunt me
down! Worse, Renal may think I am the assassin! I must flee the city! Please, let me go!
If Embarl would not testify he was useless to Tamarth.
Well, thats too bad, then. Time for you to die, said Tamarth cruelly.
II am still a Shadow Thief! yelled Embarl, flourishing a knife. Youll not take
me so easily!
In fact, they readily killed Embarl. That should satisfy any watchers MaeVar might
have sent after them to see they did the job.
As they left the inn, a patron said to Jan, Well, if it dont be me gnome friend, Jan.
How be th family, if ye dont mind me askin?
They are all fine, friend, said Jan Unless, of course, you count my cousin
Friedrich, in which case I might be tempted to say mostly fine, instead. My Aunt
Minnie finally had her baby, cutest little thing. About time, too. We were about to offer it
a scholarship it had been in there so long. And Uncle Witherjar is still pretty much crazy,
naturally.
Ach, I see yeve given up the sale of turnips, gnome. A sad thing, I always cared for
yer turnipsfresh as anythin, ey were.
Its always a sad thing to disappoint a good customer. Auntie Kylie can still sell you
some fine Jansen turnips, though, never fearmuch as I hate passing on a customer to
someone else. Oooo, this adventuring had better be worth it!

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

The traitor is dead, I trust? said MaeVar when they returned. Yes, you have his
dagger. Despite your useless appearance you have done well. Now go. I have matters to
attend to that are above you.
Above me? But I have done your bidding to the letter, said Tamarth. Am I not
favored?
Yes, yes, yes. Truth be known, Im not listening to you. Embarl was a thorn to be
removed and now I can move on to other things. Now the way is clear to me. You have
been a useful tool, and you may be one again. Dont think you are more than that; I will
have a thousand thieves, all doing my bidding just as you are. Go now, tool, and leave the
thinkers to their thinking. Talk to Edwin, he might have something for you to do.
Tamarth was not surprised at MaeVars reaction; he did wonder how, with such an
attitude, MaeVar had reached his present position without a knife in the back.
Well, you have surpassed the exceedingly low expectations I had of you, Edwin
greeted them. You now have the trust of MaeVar securely in hand, and have proven
your competence to me once more (though just barely). Now that Im assured of your
loyalty to the cause of the moment, it seems an appropriate juncture to dispense with false
pretenses. Your pretense of naivete and wilderness manners is clever, but a Red Wizard
sees more than mere appearance. You have a secret, Tamarth. I know why you are here,
mashing your lips on MaeVars boots, and its nothing to do with stipends or wages or
other guild business.
I admit I have come to spy on MaeVar, said Tamarth, pleased that Edwin was
proving as canny as he remembered. What exactly do you want of me?
As it happens, I know where we can find damning evidence of MaeVars betrayal
of Renal Bloodscalp. That is your purpose here, isnt it? (Yes, I thought so.) MaeVar has
been courting the Night Knives in order to bolster his own strategic position and betray
Renal. Masterfully planned, but I have seen through it. The Knives are a cutthroat guild
of footpads, brigands and highwaymen based in the congested cesspool of Westgate.
Obviously they wish to expand. MaeVar is fully aware of the penalty if the Shadow
Thieves learn of his plan. It would be disastrous, both for his ambitions and his continued
breathing. Youll find the proof you require in MaeVars quarters. I conveniently have a
key that opens his strongbox. I plan to be on the winning side in this affair.
Now heres the kind of loyalty that most families can only dream about, said Jan
brightly. I should plan the tell-all book, nowthe Right Hand that MaeVar Never
Wanted. Ah, yes, thieves everywhere will be beaming with pride!
Would you require my peerless skill and finesse to break into MaeVars suite?
asked Edwin. As you know well, my magical skills are supreme.
Certainly, agreed Tamarth, Edwins plans neatly fitting into his own. We could
use your help gaining entrance to his room.
A wise decision, lout. We should go to MaeVars room promptly. Its on the floor
below this one. I have the key that will let us into his strongbox.
Using Edwins key, they obtained the evidence. They then headed for the Shadow
Thieves main guildhall.

35
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Guildmaster
Aha! It is Tamarth, greeted Renal Bloodscalp, our good friend returned to us!
Excuse me while I rub my hands in anticipation. I trust you have the evidence I am
looking for?
I spoke to a thief named Embarl who overheard MaeVar planning to assassinate
you, started Tamarth.
Hmmn, interrupted Renal. But you have nothing in writing? No confession? No
orders given to his men? Im afraid that this tale does me little good. Even if you got this
Embarl alive, hes of no use as evidence. If rumor were proof, half of my guildmasters
could be plotting my assassination on any given day. What I need is confirmation,
something in writing with fingerprints all but covering it. No, this isnt enough.
Somewhat annoyed at Renals interruption, Tamarth tried again. Yes, I have the
evidence you need in these writings. It seems that MaeVar has been making overtures to
the Night Knives. Tamarth handed over the documents he was carrying.
Is that so? Hmmn. Now, that is unexpected. Fortunately, its more than enough to
damn MaeVar completely. I thank you, Tamarth, for providing this. Only the last part of
our deal remains to be carried out. Go and eliminate MaeVar then, with my full
authority. Do that and this business shall be finished, finally.
Very well. Ill go and eliminate the scum for you and return.
Thats a good sport!
Renal described a back entry into MaeVars guild, leading from the cellar to a
concealed door in the seawall. Tamarth decided to wait until full darkness before making
the attempt.
As they walked to the Seas Bounty to wait until then, a small girl pointed at Edwin,
yelling at the top of her lungs.
MY MOTHER SAYS THAT SORCERERS SHOULD BE CHOPPED UP INTO ITTY-BITTY PIECES AND FED TO
THE DOGS!!

Oh, do shut up, girl!! said Edwin. (Miserable, pissant child!)


As they waited in the Seas Bounty Yoshimo started a conversation with Jan.
Excuse me, good gnome. Ive a question that Ive been meaning to ask for some
time. These flash-bombs of yours
Yoshimo! Please! Jan Jansens Flasher Master Bruiser Mates, corrected Jan.
They have a name!
Of course. These Bruiser Mates that you constructmight I learn how to use
them?
I wont lie to you, Yoshimo. There is an excellent chance that youll lose both of
your arms. Perhaps even your face.
If one is not willing to take risks then one is not much of an adventurer.

36
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Well said! As Auntie Kylie used to say, Yeah, its risky. But theyve got gelatinous
cubes! I suppose it wouldnt hurt to have you try your hand at a few. Here, give the dial
a twist and throw it.
Mmmperhaps I shall wait to perform such a feat, said Yoshimo, nonplussed at
being asked to throw it inside an inn. Thisbomblooks most unstable. I am surprised
they do not explode in your pack, good gnome
Bite yer tongue! This is my best and most potent recipe, Ill have you know. Aunt
Kadie, herself, helped me mix this batch up, and Ill not have you disparaging her good
name.
I meant no disparagement, Janbut I think Ill leave the bombing to you, for now.
Once night had fallen they headed for the exterior entry to MaeVars back door. As
they walked, Korgan looked up at the night sky, commenting, Darkness. Good fer
stalking an having yer way with a lass. Heh
Reaching the seawall, they entered a passage. The other end of the passage led to the
cellar. Fortunately, MaeVar and his closest associates were there.
MaeVar instantly realized what was up. Come for me, have you? I know, Ive still
those loyal to me and they have warned me. Well not lay down for you! Do as you
must!
MaeVar and his henchman were soon bodies on the floor. Yoshimo had used every
opportunity to circle about as they fought, looking for chances to backstab their foes.
Edwin had noticed, and commented on it.
Yoshimo, every man has his follies and mistakes. In your case, that is the most
interesting and trustworthy attribute you possess. (You are shiftier than me, and I dont
trust myself)
Edwin, replied Yoshimo, youve a manner that makes each of us feel beautiful
and appreciated.
Somewhere in you, something terrible gathers and grows. ( Can I spot kindred, or
can I spot kindred?)
Thats only love, warmth and candor for you and your red-robed ilk, Edwin.
As you make your pilgrimage, Yoshimo, there will be ruin and cruel intention. Of
this I am certain.
Well, all pilgrimages must start somewhere, no? I look forward to the ruinwill be
a delightful change from your company, Red Wizard.
The man MaeVar had been torturing when Tamarth first met him was long dead, but
the prisoner was still in his cell. Tamarth found the cell unlocked; apparently MaeVar
had so terrorized the man that he had been afraid to ever try to leave.
My Lord! You have done it! The tyrant is dead! the prisoner happily cried. For
once a death in this hell is welcome! Please, will you release me? I have been imprisoned
for 10 years!
10 years? What did you do to deserve that? asked Tamarth, curious.

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Nothing sir! I did nothing. That savage MaeVar merely perceived that I had cast a
look of contempt at him. He had his men capture me. I was tortured here for 10 years, my
pleas of innocence laughed at. The monster said that I was to be an example. MaeVar
was not to be shown disrespect. For a perceived slight was I imprisoned but now my
tormentor is dead.
Of course. You are free to go, said Tamarth, bemused that such a simple act could
earn him so much gratitude.
Long have I waited and suffered. I am forever in your debt, good friend. I must
leave now for I can no longer stand the stench of this place. The prisoner mentioned his
name was Kamuzu, before hesitantly climbing the stairs after them as they left.
The party returned to Renal.
The tale of your deed has already reached my ear, as such things tend to, he said.
Well done, I say! Your reward is well-earned. You may find the reward I am about to
offer to be as much a blessing as a curse. I know that I have felt as such on occasion.
Listen to what I am about to say. I require someone to take the position left vacant by
MaeVar. It must be someone I can trust, so they cannot be too mired in the politics of the
region. You might be a good choice for the job. You handled MaeVar and his rhetoric,
and you seem to understand the benefits of supporting the larger guild. What do you say?
Care to have your name placed above a young guild of shadow thieves?
Without question. I will do my best to turn it into a prosperous guild, replied
Tamarth. Why ever it was offered, it was too good an opportunity to let pass.
Excellent, I look forward to seeing what you can do. Return to MaeVars vacant
office. I will have it seeded it with a few promising young thieves.
A fair choice, my friend, said Yoshimo, clapping him on the back. The
Bloodscalp is a demanding master, but theres few routes to riches that are as quick as the
running of a guild. Hopefully, I will be of help.
Do not think me totally benevolent, added Renal. I still intend to get some profit
out of you. There will be a quota you must meet. If you fail, you will lose the guild. I will
appoint a lieutenant of skill to aid you. Jariel will serve as a fine right hand. He will be
waiting for you, and I will speak to you through him.
I will make the Shadow Thieves proud, replied Tamarth obsequiously.
See that you do, but do not tailor your actions only to please your superiors. I have
plenty of yes-men already. Good luck.
I was wondering, asked Tamarth, is there anything you can tell me about this
wizard, Irenicus? Or about the Cowled Wizards who hold Imoen?
Heh, you are a tricky one. Didnt Gaelan already tell you that the Shadow Thieves
would be perfectly willing to help you out at the correct price? I cannot confirm anything
else about the deal, except to confirm that yeswe can look into the locations of both
Irenicus and your friend Imoen. Prying such information from the Cowled Wizards will
be difficult, hence the cost. That is all I will say. Raise your money for Gaelan. You will
not be disappointed.

38
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Tamarth immediately left to take up his new duties. An unfamiliar thief guarded the
entry to MaeVars old guild.
Get going. I aint letting any common gutterskunks in here, declaimed the guard.
This place aint for you.
Renal told me to come here as the new guildmaster. Is there a problem? Tamarth
smiled as the guard paled.
Begging your pardon, sir, I meant nothing. I am simply told to guard the doors.
Please, pay me no mind and enter as you wish.
You are just doing your job. Keep up the good work.
Aw, I tries me best, sir. I tries me best.
Inside MaeVars old guild, no, Tamarth decided, henceforth it would be Tamarths
guild, a new shopkeeper was present.
Hello and well met, he greeted them. It is good to see new souls sympathetic to
the Shadow Thieves. Im Rattell, and Ill be fencing anything you need exchanged.
Thanks, Rattell, lets see what you have currently, said Tamarth, taking a quick
look at his stock before passing beyond into the main guild. Inside was the lieutenant
Jariel who Renal had appointed.
Welcome to the guild, said Jariel. I havent heard much about you, but if Renal
says you are alright, Ill take his word on it.
Yes, well, I am looking forward to helping this guild branch prosper.
Im sure you will. Wed all like a shot at being part of a successful chapter. Many
are anxious to prove themselves in MaeVars absence. Now then, would you like the
basics of the guild, or should we just get to business?
Tell me the basics. How do I run this place?
Well, you have a stable of several thieves here, which I will introduce to you. Each
has a specialty, and each has more thieves under them. You will direct their patterns of
thievery. If successful, they will bring in money to the guild. If not, they may be captured
by the city guards. Your directions will result in higher or lower risk to your thieves, but
sometimes simple bad luck intervenes. If captured, you can bribe a thief out of prison.
You can continue with all your thieves in prison, but you will get no profit. No use
getting mad at meif I die, the guild fails. I have Renals ear, you see. Tamarth thought
it likely Jariel was working more for Renal than himself. Jariel continued speaking.
You must make a certain amount of gold to meet the quota set by Renal. If you miss
a quota, you will be removed as guild leader and this branch will be closed. You can pay
the extra money out of your pocket if you like, but itll get expensive. Youll get profits
from the guild, but be careful you dont take too much. Now, would you like to discuss
the patterns your thieves will assume this week? They are operating at a low level of risk
right now, just covering the quota.
Tamarth asked Jariel to summarize the leaders who headed the groups into which the
guilds thieves were divided.

39
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

The first of your thieves is Hanz. He specializes in house breaking and safe
cracking. Nobles are a favorite target of his.
The next rogue is Goshan, an assassin. He is not limited to merely killing, but also
uses strategic threats andencouragement to pay for protection.
The next of your guild thieves is Kretor. He has a stable of pickpockets below him,
and he makes sure that the purses of pedestrians are none too safe.
The next rogue in your employ is Morsa, and she has a gift for bringing contraband
goods into the city. Jariel added she sometimes dealt in slaves, as well.
You have one more rogue. Varias preferred activity is providing protection, and
keeping embarrassing facts about powerful people safefor a fee.
Tamarth instructed that the different groups should concentrate on moderately risky
activities that promised a good profit. Finished helping Tamarth determine the guilds
activities, Jariel asked another thief standing next to him to introduce himself.
Ahh, the new guild leader, said Jariels comrade. I trust you will find the facilities
to your liking.
Im sure I will, replied Tamarth. Who are you and why are you in my guild?
A fair question. I am Lathan, and I will be your eyes and ears when there is a matter
that requires your personal attention. You are new, so there is little on the agenda just yet.
I will try to inform you when something comes up.
A woman walked into the room at that moment. She interrupted Lathan, saying, I
think you will find that something has indeed come up.
And just who are you? asked Lathan. Answer quick or Ill have you thrown out
for disturbing the guildmaster.
My name is Ama, and I am Shadowmaster of eastern Esmeltaran. Here is my signet,
I think youll find it authentic. Now stand aside!
What? said Lathan in surprise. He briefly looked at the ring she proffered. Ah
yes, mlady Ama. I meant no offense. Ah, Tamarth, I would suggest you obey proper
protocol and present your dagger before your better.
Now, now, no need for such displays. I am here to ask a favor, after all, said Ama,
smiling at Tamarth.
What is it you would ask of me? asked Tamarth warily.
Nothing terribly inconveniencing. I would like you to participate in a little
rendezvous, and help in the removal of a pest. There is a government official causing us
no end of trouble with his tariffs and spot checks on caravans. This fool thinks he can
stifle the thieving trade of an entire city. He has been trying to muscle into a relationship
with the Shadow Thieves, and while we could pay, it is better that we send a message to
any of his cohorts. I have come here with a promise of granting his wishes, but I only
want to lure him away from his palisade defenses. This is where you come in.
Speak what you need. I am listening.

40
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

He wishes to be introduced to a contact here in the city, and that contact will be
you. The meeting is already set up, and when he arrives, we will take him by surprise.
You are known somewhat in this place, if not as a guildmaster. He will believe you are a
legitimate contact. He seems willing to believe anything, so long as it is theatrical.
Should I not have heard of this through Renal? He is my superior, said Tamarth.
He wondered a little that this woman didnt seem to be known to anyone here.
You will come to learn that you have many superiors in the Shadow Thieves.
Disobey any of them at your peril. You would not want to be thought a traitorlike
MaeVar.
Alright, I will help as best I can. When is the meeting to take place?
It will be any evening that is best for you. I will await you in Waukeens Promenade
after dark, and then dispense a runner to get Sir Greshal. The suddenness will seem
dramatic to him. Do not disappoint in this matter. It is of the utmost importance.
You must be so proud, sir, added Lathan subserviently. Already you have been
singled out for service to the greater guild. I suggest you do not be late. Since Lathan
seemed to think it such an honor, Tamarth instructed him to contact Ama when Tamarth
decided he was ready for the meeting.
After Ama left the former prisoner Kamazu came up the steps from the basement.
Ironically, Kamazu had found that after ten years imprisonment he no longer had friends
or a place in the city. He felt much more comfortable at the guild. Tamarth had agreed to
give him a few coppers a day in return for cleaning the guildhouse.
Tamarth! he yelled. It is I, Kamuzu, whom you freed from MaeVars prison. I
must speak with you.
What is it old man?
That woman that was just here, I wouldnt trust her if I were you!
Why is that?
I know her. I have seen her in the prison with MaeVar. I think that they were
lovers. She may be trying to kill you.
This is news indeed! I thank you, Kamuzu. I shall be careful. Tamarth would still
have his meeting with Ama, but he didnt think he would be the one dying.
It is the least that I could do. You have saved my life! Be careful, Tamarth. She is
not to be trusted! Farewell!

deArnise Hold
Tamarth decided it was time to travel to the deArnise hold. He began to walk across
the city, heading for the main east gate. He figured he would need to enter the Bridge
District to cross the river which divided the city from east to west. This would get him to
the north side of the city, when he could head east towards the gate.

41
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Jan, Ive heard that your are an inventor of sorts, Yoshimo suddenly said. Where
do your interests lie in the field?
Im open to all creative muses. Jans stare was unfocused, as if he was
concentrating on something visible in his minds eye. Lately Ive been working on a
turnip peeler. A magical device, of course, designed to peel 100 turnips per minute. Im
really quite close to a breakthrough. Naturally, however, it does cost well over 100 gold
pieces per day to run. But think of the uses!
Why, turnip peeling, for one.
Exactly! Youve got a knack for logical thinking, Yoshi. You could go far in the
service of Gond.
As they entered the bridge district an Amnish soldier stopped them. He identified
himself as lieutenant Aegisfield, then politely continued, Greetings, citizens. I trust
youll be keeping your weapons at your sides. I should hate to have to run you by the
garrison if anything should happen.
What are you implying? I dont take kindly to intimidation, Tamarth snarled,
wondering if he would have to kill the lieutenant. He assumed he was talking about the
incident in the Government district.
Keep your temper or Ill run you in. Im not taking any chances with anyone,
theres been too much death around here as it is. Im warning everyone, so as to get the
word out that there are guards on the streets. Weve had aa string of killings, and I
dont want any more happening.
What, a couple of fools die in a bar fight or something? Knowing the lieutenants
real concern, Tamarth was barely interested, since it didnt concern him.
That is no less a crime than anywhere else, but no, the deaths are even more
pointless than that. Murder, but not like any Ive seen before. Theres a disgustingly sick
person out there and I simply dont have the manpower to protect everyone. Hes been
killing paupers, sometimes in the alley where they sleep.
Tamarth couldnt understand why the Lieutenant was so upset. Sounds like a fine
start on reclaiming the streets from the beggars.
Such a remark I would expect from the killer himself. No, I doubt even you would
stoop to the crimes of thisthis creature. He flays themalive. There has been blood all
over the area. Little Faraji, a local urchin, found the latest victim. I hate to think of a child
seeing that. Enough of this. I must go about my rounds. If you find any information about
the murders, be sure to let me know. Dont go looking for trouble though. I have enough
problems with walkers and beggars. Old Rampah was damn near killed, and a street
woman in the area, Rose, was plain lucky. Dont be like them.
Oh, yes, sneered Edwin, weve braved monsters, Flaming Fist, Sarevoks assorted
minions, only to fall to a sneak-thief with an over-fondness for flesh. Excellent
deduction.
You neednt worry on our part, lieutenant, Yoshimo reassured him. From what
Ive seen, Tamarth and his allies can protect themselves from just about anything.

42
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Tamarth was intrigued by the description of the crimes. The skins of the victims had
been removed? He decided to investigate further if he had the chance.
They continued walking. A short distance ahead three commoners were watching as
the guard hauled off several dead Shadow Thieves. Tamarth stopped to listen to their
conversation.
I tell you its only going to get worse! And you cant tell who they are by looking at
them. This one here was in my tavern just last night.
Hush up, you. He was a man like any other. Just because he was in with that
Shadow Thief crowd doesnt mean you should refuse to serve him.
Got his own trouble anyway, without you helping. Have to refuse half the city if
you bar Shadow Thieves. Probably end up dead, too.
They dont scare me. Look at this bunch. Dead as they can get, and their black little
hoods didnt help them one bit.
What killed them was a lot more than you could handle. Looklook at the marks
on them.
If this is a guild war like they say, its just going to get worse.
Yeah, yeah, you said that already. Maybemaybe I should close up shop for a few
tenday. I could use a break.
You close up when someone spills salt or forgets to knock on wood, you old
worrywart. Business as usual for me.
Well see. Guild wars just mean trouble. Lots of trouble.
Tamarth had started to continue on when Jan let out a cry. Jan hurried over to
confront another gnome, Tamarth close behind him, wondering what was up.
Well, if it isnt Jan Jansen, said the other gnome. I see youre not selling turnips
anymore.
Tamarth stared at the gnome who had spoken. He was dressed in fancy, colorful
clothes, reminding Tamarth of a stuffed plaything. Jan whispered that this was Bertrand
the Companion, loading the last word with contempt.
Selling turnips is a time-honored profession for my family, said Jan. Far better
than the shame you bring to us gnomes, Bertrand.
Hah! said Bertrand disdainfully. I can unequivocally say that I am the wealthiest
and best-loved gnome in the entire city!
The lasses love you only for your nose, Bertrand. Tis a shame to the rest of usoh,
to be lumped in the same class as a gnomish gigolo! The indignity of it all! Jan walked
off, shaking his head.
Tamarth stopped to examine the wares offered at several stalls along the street. At
one, the merchant commented on the guild war.
Only thieves could have a war in plain sight without leaving a trail of bodies, eh?
But if you know about the war, you probably know about whos involved. You got the

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Shadow Thieves on one hand and a new, upstart guild on the other. The upstarts have one
advantagenobody knows anything about them. You cant even approach them. They
approach you, their recruiters appearing out of nowhere. I hear the upstarts have
powerful, dark magic, too. And it makes sense, too. What else could make the Shadow
Thieves pause for more than a second. Simple thief rivals would be squashed flat. Not to
discount the Shadow Thieves, though. Theyve got power enough in Athkatla to take on
anyoneeven the Cowled Wizards. Ill just wait this out.
As they were leaving the Bridge District a commoner yelled out, Look, now! A
murderer here in the District and a dark elf walkin about plain as day!
You humans are so quick to place blame it makes me ill to my stomach, Viconia
shot back, not that Tamarth didnt think the drow capable of flaying their victims.
They almost reached the eastern edge of the city before Tamarth thought to question
a passerby on the location of the eastern gate. He then realized the gate was south of the
river which divided Athkatla into northern and southern halves, and he would have to
backtrack through the Bridge District to reach it. Tamarth could just imagine what Edwin
must be thinking, but fortunately, for once, Edwin did not mutter anything aloud.
As they neared the eastern gate, a man came up to them. He explained the mayor of
Trademeet was interested in hiring mercenaries. Trademeet was being attacked by wild
animals, for no known reason.
Ah, the smell of adventure is nigh! Jan commented to Tamarth. Or is that the ale
spilled on the floor? You know, come to think of it, theres not too much difference
between the two. One usually follows the other, if you take my meaning. Unless you
happen to be Uncle Prebar, who took a milk bath both before and after an adventure.
Ahhhh, poor Uncle Prebar. If it werent for those baths, he might still be with us.
Why? Whats wrong with milk baths? asked Tamarth, amused at Jans story.
Well, nothingunless you happen to be attempting to sneak through a dungeon
filled with hobgoblins and you have a few dozen cats noisily following the smell of sour
milk and meowing all the time. Tsk. Well, at least the smell prevented them from eating
him. The hobgoblins, I mean, not the cats.
Hmph. Well, the pay best be bloody well worth it, Korgan added testily, if Im to
be wandering through the wilderness, hacking away at bears and squirrels and other such
beasties.
Before setting out for the deArnise castle Tamarth decided to spend the night in an
inn located next to the gate, the Crooked Crane. Tamarth settled on rooms with the
innkeep, returning to the party sitting at a table in the common room.
So Viconia, I suppose you must be a drow, eh? said Jan. Tamarth sat down, saying
nothing, waiting to see what the mix of Jans humor and Viconias temper would bring.
Speak not to your betters, surface slave, answered Viconia shortly.
My brother, Elgar Buttercup, had skin the shade of charcoal, too. Well, technically
it WAS charcoal. He died in a nasty fire, you see.

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You do love the sound of your own voice, dont you gnome? said Viconia in
disgust.
My own voice? Heartless wench! said Jan, looking stricken for the first time since
Tamarth had met him. Do you not know? I am deaf. I have never heard the sound of my
own voice. I read lips Jan paused, a sob escaping him, repeating in a low voice, only
lips
Deaf? Truly? Viconia replied, some of the scorn leaving her voice. In the
Underdark the deaf are killed or used in pain threshold experiments.
I heard that! said Jan, contradicting his earlier statement. But Tamarth reflected on
several cases where Jan had not responded to sounds coming from behind him. Tamarth
decided he must really be deaf, but incredibly clever at hiding it.
In fact, it reminds me of the time I was eaten by an avatar of Lolth, began Jan,
obviously not done needling Viconia. I was stuck inside her stomach with a miserable
drow called Biffle Chump for days. Of course, I was forced to eat him. A matter of
survival, you understand. Nothing personal. He tasted a bit like chicken.
Tamarth, how is it that you travel with such a wee buffoon? asked Viconia.
Tamarth stared at her in surprise. Since he had rescued her she had said virtually
nothing to him, practically ignoring his existence. Tamarths lips quirked in a smile. He
couldnt resist the opportunity presented, as he replied to her question.
Truthfully, it all goes back to the time that Jans cousin, Plooty Paladin-piper, got
caught in a nasty flesh golem eating contest
Aye, Plooty had a way of attracting golems, said Jan, immediately following
Tamarths lead. Brilliant, really. You start with a saucer of milk - golems are suckers for
milk
I refuse to listen to this, said Viconia haughtily, getting up from the table.
Those of the party who werent interested in getting drunk also soon left the table for
their rooms.
Tamarth had a dream that night. Irenicus, of all people, offered him power. Tamarth
agreed, but the dream-Irenicus only promised a chance at it in the future.
The next morning when they left Athkatla the sun was shining, with few clouds in
the sky. They had gone only a short distance before they were all sweating.
Korgan came up to walk abreast of Tamarth. He turned to Tamarth, but said loudly
enough the others could hear, O bold warriors allthe sundial be turnin on me
appointed task, and I prevail upon ye all to hasten it. The tomb is calling and I may be
forced to heed her beckon alone and enjoy the wages without me stalwarts by me side.
We hear your protest, Korgan. Dont worry, said Tamarth placatingly, although he
had no intention of letting Korgan set the pace.
Then let us posthaste! said Korgan, adding Not to be a mite, Tamarth, but we
agreed to find the ranger pup for the bloody wizard, aye? Lets get a move on and do that,
before I loses me patience.

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Tamarth talked with Korgan for a while of the deArnise castle: skulls to crack,
treasure to steal. Korgan seemed satisfied; Tamarth just hoped their destination actually
produced what he had promised.
Korgan selected a new victim, saying to Viconia, Well there be the rarest of sights.
Whats that, hargluk? asked Viconia.
One of yer bakerlegged ilk out under the sun. Rumor has it ye melt, cook like lamb
on the spit orll fall apart, all limbs askew.
Your tone, like your manners, is absent of charm, Korgan, Her disdainful tone was
somewhat ruined by the tracks of sweat upon her brow. Our kinship as Those Below
should be celebrated, not ridiculed. Though equals we are not.
The Underdark I left a lifetime ago. Ye blackskins are all the same; good fer three
thingsowning, hunting and killing.
The party did not reach the deArnise lands that day, being forced to camp out in a
copse of trees. They spent most of the next morning trying to find the family castle,
having almost no woodcraft between them. As they searched, Edwin commented to
himself, I find the great outdoors chaotic and dirty. It needs a shaping will to slap the
beasts into proper order.
About midday they found the castle. Nalia and a few surviving guards they located in
a hastily fortified position south of the castle.
There you are! said Nalia at their arrival. I have been waiting positively AGES
for you. I did a little scouting around and the outer walls have been breached. That means
they are inside, and well have a tough time getting them out.
Enough stalling, said Tamarth, I need to know who we are fighting and I need to
know now!
Yes, II should have told you previously, but others refused to help when they
found out. We arebeset by trolls. A vast number of them. Worse yet, there are some
kind of snake creatures with them. I had never seen the like of them before, but Ive been
sheltered most of my life. The main assault began just a few nights ago. I think they were
driven from the north by the elves, or perhaps the new settlements south of Tethyr. They
are nasty, right? I know trolls can only be permanently killed by fire or acid, but those
snake things look even meaner. Why would they come here? Whatever the reason, they
are here. I am sorry, but I dont know numbers or tactics; I only know that we must get
rid of themwe must rescue my family, that is all.
We dont know how many they have, how smart they are, or even if there is anyone
left alive to rescue.
I know, I know. Wait! The servants wouldnt have posed much threat to the trolls.
Some of them may be alive inside, and they would know numbers and strengths.
Perhapsoh, whats his nameDaleson! He worked in the stables. They may have left
him to tend the animals for food. He would know! He might be inside.
Is there a safe way inside? I dont want to have to knock on the front door.

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You dont have to go through the frontlines. Approach north of the palisade. There
is a secret door that allows entry along the base of the keep wall. II use it to
occasionally sneak out while my parents arent looking. They dont much like me
interacting with the local peasants, but I can do so much for them. You can go on your
own, but I am still willing to join. I know the keep well, and I can take to a shadow as
quick as nobles to wine. I studied a bit of magery too! Ive practiced! Im going to be
someone that gives to the poor and takes from the rich, I am. Weve got lots to spare
and its fun, too.
Not a chance in all the hells, said Tamarth, turning her down again. I am more
than capable of doing this without you.
Well fine! Ill just sit here and twiddle my toes while you go and get yourself killed.
Tell Daleson that I sent you or he wont trust you. Not sure I do either.
Tamarth also had a word with Captain Arat, the head of the deArnise guard.
Hmph. So you be the vagabonds Mistress Nalia has brought to aid us, said Arat.
HehhhI suppose we cannot be choosy now. I hope the young lass knows you better
than I.
If Im here to help, then youd best keep your snide comments to yourself, replied
Tamarth, fingering the hilt of his sword.
Aye. True enough. You have my apology, sir. But Ill trust you plenty more if you
actually do decide to aid us.
Can you tell me what, exactly, happened here?
Has Mistress Nalia not told you? We were beset by trolls and yuan-ti two tendays
agohad tunneling beasts with them, so we were attacked from above and below. Twas
little that could be done, truly enough. We fought room to room, barricading ourselves in
when need be. To the last man we fought, practically. Once Lord deArnise disappeared,
it was hopeless. I tried to find him, but there was naught to be done. Leading what few
soldiers remained out was battle enough. The trolls and those yuan-ti have shut the keep
up tight. Im hoping they will merely demand ransom for our Lordbut my hope has
been quickly dwindling. If you can do as Mistress Nalia asks and rid the castle of the
vermin, wed be mighty grateful. As would Lord deArniseif he still lives, within.
Well, Ill be on my way.
If you enter the castle, there is one way that my men and I can assist you. If you
lower the drawbridge from inside, we can draw out the enemy and engage themThe
deeper you get within the keep, the more trolls and yuan-ti youll find. Open the bridge
and we will engage them. It may be your only chance. That will give you the time to
search for Lord deArnise and Lady Delcia. I suggest you get to the courtyard and open
the drawbridge as soon as possible. Its an offer, anywayI dislike the idea of sitting out
here while someone else goes within and takes all the risks. But you are free to do as you
wish. Just be sure youve acid or fire at your disposal. Trolls will not fall to anything else.
May the gods go with you.
They entered through the secret passage Nalia had described, to find themselves in a
storage room on the ground floor of the castle. They passed through several more

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storerooms, killing a troll in the process. Opening the door to another room, they came
upon a human servant.
What? And who be you then? said the human. Come round the back way did ye?
I suppose ye must have. Nothin but trolls and snakes the front way. What are ye doin
here then?
Fear not, I have come to rescue you, said Tamarth reassuringly.
You? Rescue me? I aint nobody, even the trolls know that, so they left me to tend
the animals cuz I aint no threat. Did Miss Nalia send you?
Tamarth assumed this must be Daleson. Aloud he said, She doesnt want any more
people to die, and she hired me to make sure of it.
If you are here at her request then you might at least mean well, though we shall see
if you actually accomplish anything. Miss Nalia is a caring noble, but she is still a noble
by any measure. No offense meant, but are you here to really help or are you here to say
how much someone should help? Miss Nalia is a bit more talk than action sometimes.
What do you mean by that? asked Tamarth, interested in what this peasant had to
say. She sure seems to care about what happens to you, he added, in a condescending
tone.
She may help occasionally, but were still servants and shes still the noble. Shes
foolin herself with her charity, but she tries at least. She means wella little too well.
Thinks shes gotta help all of us peasants. She sneaks out now and then and skulks
around our taverns and such, as if it makes her understand us.
How many trolls did you think were still here?
Maybe thirty. There was a big troll that seemed to be in charge. Ive kept out of
sight, but I also heard him bossing something called a yuan-ti. I dont know how many
of those there are.
And how many of your fellows did you think were still alive?
I dont know. I seen a few make a break for it, but they were killed as they ran.
Maybe a few are hidden here or there. I know Lord Arnise is still alive, at least he was
this morning. He was trying to get the parts for his flail. He keeps it in pieces, and would
never say why he left it like that. Wasnt my place to ask, really. Probably took him down
to the dungeon. Lord Arnise had his dungeon boarded up, but I think them trolls sniffed it
out. Dont know why they didnt just kill everyone.
As the party moved to leave, Daleson said, If you do see Miss Nalia, let her tag
along. She knows this place better than anyone, or at least thinks she does. Ones as good
as the other sometimes, and its better than going blind.
As quickly as possible Tamarth led the others towards the front of the keep. They
exited the keep into the castles courtyard, killing an otyugh left there by the trolls to deal
with their garbage. They lowered the drawbridge so Captain Arat and his remaining
guards could enter. More trolls and some yuan-ti entered the courtyard as they did this, a
large combat ensuing. Their opponents were defeated; several guards lost their lives as
well.

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Edwin had sustained a few minor cuts and scrapes, his red robe was badly torn also.
He disgustedly surveyed the results of the combat in the courtyard, commenting. Could
we not have hired some poor fools to do this for us? This is no place for a man of my
stature.
They finished clearing the trolls from the ground floor of the keep, then moved to the
floor above, destroying more trolls and yuan-ti. Almost the last room on that floor had
been barricaded.
When they forced the door open they found a guard and an elderly woman. Hold!
How did you get in here?! Who are you?! the shocked guard cried out.
I am TamarthI have been hired by Nalia to clear out this keep of its invaders.
Thank the gods! Youyou cannot believe how relieved I am to see you, then. Not
only have I been barricaded in here, fighting against trolls. The guard added in a
whisper, But you cannot BELIEVE the audacity of this woman! The Lady Delcia is the
Lords sisterand she is aa trial, to say the least! I have been tempted to strangle her
myself more than a dozen times!
The guard cleared his throat, and loudly said, I suggest you speak to the Lady
Delcia, further. She will decide what to do, I suppose. He looked behind him, then
turned back, whispering, and it will be the first break Ive had from her in days.
The Lady Delcia Caan came to the door. Oh, tis like a nightmare! Yet more
hooligans tracking their filth through the halls! I told your commander youll get no more
from me than condemnation. Marching into a home like this
Tamarth was nonplussed at this reception, and tried to emphasize his authority by
stating, You are the lady of the house? I have come on behalf of your daughter.
I fear your attempt at eloquence masks a simple mind. No doubt you refer to Nalia,
my niece. She might seek your companythat is my constant fear. I should not like to
see her die of some virulent contagion after coddling peasantry like yourselves. Not that
she listens to me, as your presence here illustrates. Oh well, those that beg cannot afford
to be choosy. At least, that is the phrase as I have heard it. Shall we get to the business of
a rescue? I assume that is what you are here for. Please do be quick about it, I am
catching an alarming sniffle and could do with a warm fire. If I catch my death Ill have
the hide of the peasant in charge of the heat.
Quite so! The little rotters should know their place well, replied Tamarth cheerily,
not caring if she noticed his sarcasm. Dock their wages if they live.
Well, nicely voiced for someone of dubious breeding. Perhapsno, one must
remember ones station. I will find Nalia. At least she stayed out of theughcombat.
And if you would, Lord Arnise is still at the mercy of the beasts below. He is Nalias
father, and I believe they are trying to get him to reveal something about a cache of gold.
I doubt he will say a word. Hes as soft as Nalia at times, but he does not lower himself to
dealing with his lessors. Do rescue him, will you? It is your duty, I believe.
As the guard and the Lady Caan walked away Viconia said, I think a month of
tortures amongst the spiders of Lolth would remove her sense of superiority. The
elgcaress should know when she meets her betters, blood or no blood.

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They found a stair leading downwards from the floor they were on to the castles
dungeon. There they fought more trolls. Four umber hulks were killed as well, which the
trolls had originally used to tunnel into the castle from below. They cautiously entered a
dimly lit chamber; from the little Tamarth could see, it appeared to be a family tomb.
They heard sniffing coming from the darkness before them, then a voice loudly called
out.
I smell youI doyou gradunk no be hiding on TorGal!
One of the yuan-ti had mentioned the chiefs name was TorGal before they killed it.
Tamarth yelled forth words he thought appropriate to the occasion, Stand forth and be
judged, creature! Your reign of terror ends here! What he really needed, Tamarth
reflected, was a bard to catalogue his deeds.
I rain cross many places, TorGal yelled back, what think you gradunk leave here
dry? I TorGal, and I trgank lead Rocksmash pack! We serve stronger, so who traag you to
say no?!
You serve stronger? Who is that? Who directs your actions? Speak! I demand it!
You threaten, but we fight anyway! I tell nothing of Stronger! Should have taken
Strongers gold like all other small-head guards! Now you die!
TorGal the troll and his two hulking troll guards proved difficult to defeat, but the
party managed to do so without losing any of their own number.
Good fight! Were in an age of murder, child, said Korgan to Tamarth after the
combat. Killing is our business, and business be good. Ahhh, theres nothing like battle
to make your blood run hot! War be my salvation and the measure of this man and all
men, verily.
Agreed! The sword makes the man and is the only true measure of his worth and
mettle, said Tamarth, who had made a policy of agreeing with the unpredictable dwarf
whenever possible.
Perhaps yer head taint empty, but mostly hollow with some good sense vapors
foggin yer goggles!
At the far side of the tomb they found the body of an old man. Nalias father had not
survived the invasion.

Castle Lord
Youyou have done it? said Nalia when they returned to her. They are all dead?
What ofwhat of my father? Is he well?
Dead. Sorry about your luck, said Tamarth. Truly, he was a little sorry. He had
nothing against Nalia, and would have saved her father if he could. He was in a good
mood, the haul of treasure from the castle having been quite impressive.
Deadhe is Nalia choked back a sob. Im sorry, I must take a moment to
collect myself. You have been most kind. Please, let me pay you what I can and then

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and thenOh noah, I dont suppose I could convince you to remain here for a while? I
really needno, no, it is my own problem. Ill deal with it as best I can.
Theres no harm in asking, whatever it is.
Its a very awkward situation, and Im not quite sure if Im ready to deal with it. I
dont have much choice though, now that Father is gone. I am betrothed, you see. Yes,
some powerful associates of my Father roped me into that tired custom. I am to wed a
brat of a man named Isaea Roenal. I think Father regretted it, but that is the way wealthy
families gain status in business. He seemed quite willing to stall the inevitable, but now
he is gone
Yes, yes, very sad. What is required of me? said Tamarth impatiently, regretting
his feeling of sympathy for her earlier.
The Roenals, mainly Isaea, have been pressuring. They knew I was the only heir,
and traditionally titles fall to a male. I fear Isaea will take control and abuse our wealth. I
have worked to forge a relationship with those beneath me, but it will not continue with
the Roenals in power. They are snobbish, snooty, and oh so arrogant.
Poor Nalia, coddled in wealth. Yes, that would be horrible. What is it you want?!
I need a way to get out of the betrothal, and I need to do it soon. They respect the
old traditions, and I think I know a way to use one to our mutual advantage.
You wish a marriage of convenience then? Seems logical to me, replied Tamarth,
liking the possibilities presented.
Oh, no, no, no, nothing quite so distasteful started Nalia, then reconsidering, she
continued, erscandalous as that. That would be laughable. No one would believe that
for a second. No, what I really wish is to take advantage of an old tradition, where a
fighting soul would become the lord of a manor once the current lord had passed on. You
are versed in combat; you would be an impressive obstacle to Isaea. I ask that you
assume title to the keep. You will be a figurehead, and I will be a ward of sorts. It is my
right as heir to choose who shall lead. I do not know if I could stand before the Roenals,
but you, with yourerhtalents, would prove a daunting figure.
To be Lord Tamarth. I like the sound of that.
As well you should, and it is a natural progression. It is not uncommon for a
fighting soul to take possession of a keep when the lord isis dead. Please, this will
ensure that the Roenals do not take control of my home. They are oppressive nobles and
will not direct this place in a way that will honor my father.
It will be an honor to guide this place through its troubles. I shall strive to see it
flourish, said Tamarth formally, finishing with a bow. He didnt bother to add that he
had no intention of being a figurehead.
Wonderful! Now they cant force me out. You are master of this place, within
reason. I remain the sole heir, and can take away what has been given. Shall we go? No
need to wait around, though you are welcome to organize the place as you see fit. The
servants will return this place to order. Again, I thank you.

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The party spent several days at the castle. Repairs were started, replacements were
found for the servants who had died, and a start was made at recruiting a new garrison.
The afternoon of the second day Tamarth met with the chief servant of the castle.
Greetings to youyour grace. IahI understand from Mistress Nalia that you are to
be the new proprietor of the keep and the surrounding farmlands, yes?
Yes, thats right.
Very well then, I am the major domo of the castle, or at least, I served as such under
Lord deArnise. I am certainly willing to serve you in the same capacity.
I can vouch for him, Tamarth, put in Nalia. Hes served my family for a long
time, and welland theres nobody else, really, who can do his job around here,
anyway.
As the Lady says, I suppose. I run day-to-day operations in the keep, handling
servants and any minor problems that occur with the farmers or others on your land. I
also ensure that taxes are collected and kept in the coffers here. If you wish to change
taxes from how they were under Lord deArnise, just tell me. A large amount of the coin
will go into rebuilding the keeps depleted force of men-at-arms, and into maintaining the
keep and its staff. But I estimate you will still gather, say, five hundred gold pieces per
week. If you wish to access that, you have but to come to me. As for the major decisions,
well, I suggest you return at least every couple of weeks. If there is anything critical, a
runner will find you, if they can. The servants will be cleaning up, and I am sure funeral
arrangements have yet to be made for Lord deArnise.
How big is this land, anyway?
Well, I am sure you have seen the keep itself. You will also lord over a large area of
surrounding land. There are no settlements, per se, but there is rich farmland. Lord
deArnise always got on well with his people, as did most of his forebears. It is peaceful
hereusually. You should have little problems, I would think.
Sothe keep is all mine, then?
Yes, my Lord, all yours, as Mistress Nalia stated. A few servants remain, and some
new ones have been hired. You are free to explore, as you will.
So you did manage to stumble your way into victory, Lady Delcia Cann, who was
also present, said sourly,. Expect no reward beyond what youve undoubtedly stolen
from my home. The sooner youre away from here, the better.
Tamarth ordered the major domo to levy a special tax in honor of the lands
liberators. Tamarth then walked about the keep, meeting his servants. Each greeted him.
A lack of formality which he supposed he should blame on the late Lord Arnise caused
each servant to add his or her opinion to the greeting.
Greetings, my Lord. I am Metigo, your butler. I understand there has been some
unrest amongst the populace of the area. A shame, really.
I be Olma, you cook. I be hired after trolls be taking over, but I think maybe Olma
should go. People be angry here at you.

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I am one of your maids, Chanelle, my Lord. II cant believe all the terrible things
theyre saying about you. After you freed us all from the trollsit just isnt fair!
A good day t you, mLord, said Talire, another maid. I must say, I do not like the
words that the folk, here, speak of you. It reminds me too much of my last Lord, who was
a cruel man.
Finally, Tamarth met the new captain of his guard.
A shame Captain Arat retired, my Lord. He felt he had failed Lord deArnise,
somehowI am Cernick, and I have taken his place as the Captain of the guard. There is
resentment among the people, my Lord. Perhaps you should follow Lord deArnises
benevolent example - the people will not stand a tyrant.
Tamarth found his servants acceptable, although he could have done without the
accusations that he was some kind of monster. When he returned to the major domo he
was surprised to find there was someone waiting to see him.
Greetings, your grace. I actually have a rather angry merchant by the name of
Tolmas Bendelia that has been demanding to see you. It may have something to do with
his caravan being waylaid by bandits passing through the region, but he refuses to speak
to anyone but your Lordship. He is an influential merchant in this area; I believe he owns
the deed to more than one local farmhold. Will you grant this man an audience, my
Lord?
Certainly. Show him in, said Tamarth, relishing the opportunity to play the lord.
Excellent, my Lord. I shall send for him immediately.
You! You there! stormed the merchant when he entered. Are you the one who has
replaced Lord deArnise in this land?! I demand immediate restitution for thisthis
outrage!
I suggest you calm yourself, mister Bendelia, said the major domo, and perhaps
start by explaining to Lord Tamarth exactly what sort of outrage you are referring to.
Pfaw! As if you did not know! I am well aware that this land was overrun by those
filthsome trollsbut that business is now over with and done! Bandits have invaded the
passes in the southern reaches of your land! Bandits! I have had my caravans traveling
through this area for the past ten years and I have never heard of bandits here! Youre
responsible for the safety of this areathese fiends burned my caravan and took all my
goods! I demand restitution, and a guarantee that these bandits will be eliminated as soon
as possible! If you do notif you ignore me, I swear that not only shall I not travel
through these lands again, but that I shall foreclose on every farmhold I hold a debt for! I
swear I shall!!
Hmmas I said, said the major domo to Tamarth, he cannot be easily ignored.
Many will be upset if their farms are foreclosed, and the bandits will have to be dealt with
sooner or later. We do not have the strength yet to face them; our patrols simply have too
few men. Obviously the bandits have noticed. We would need mercenaries, my Lord. I
know a few reliable mercenary companies we could acquire for 500 gold. That would
handle this problem. Mmwe could go as low as 250, but that would take longer.

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Enough of this chatter! I demand an answer! yelled the merchant. Will I have my
restitution or not?!
Your risks are your own, merchant, snarled Tamarth. If you did not have your
merchandise underwritten, then you are a fool.
A fool, am I? We shall see how your farmers feel about that when I foreclose on
their properties to recover my losses!
How about I have you executed? Then you will do nothing of the sort, replied
Tamarth. He smiled as the merchant paled, realizing Tamarth had both the power and the
will to carry out his threat.
Mymy partners will do it if I am executed, regardless, blustered the merchant,
then in a strained voice he continued, ButI have no wish to offend you, my Lord. This
is a matter of business only, s-surely you understand?
I do. You shall not be executed, thenbut you will still receive nothing from me.
I see. Very well, then. And what do you intend to do about the bandits?
Tamarth had no desire to see bandits plundering his land. At the least, they could
have come to him and offered him a bribe to remain unmolested. To the merchant, he
said, I intend to spend five hundred gold to hire mercenaries. They will be driven from
my land quickly.
Good enough, then, said the merchant. Perhaps I shall return through this area
and continue supplying the locals with goods. So long as you keep to your promises, my
Lord.
With that business taken care of Tamarth was ready to return to Athkatla. As the
party was gathering its equipment, Viconia said, Dark alleyways whisper rumors of the
prowess of the Thayvian men, Edwin. Would this kind of vulgar tongue-wagging be
claptrap or truth?
This Thayvian male is as red-blooded as his cloak, Viconia, Edwin replied,
bowing. And has left many a concubine gasping under his erotic onslaught.
Tamarth, in front of who this exchange had taken place, had reddened in anger. He
didnt believe for a moment that Viconia had any interest in Edwin. He thought it was her
way of getting back at him for his innuendoes that they should share the same bedroll.
The party left the castle, headed back for Athkatla. As they marched Jan told one
story after another; the members of the party listened or not, as they chose. Mostly not.
During a brief interval of quiet, Edwin said, Jan, your stories are rife with
discrepancies, half-truths and bafflegab. A woeful weaver of yarns you are for one so
self-professed with the talents to do so.
Is there an epic begging for verse rattling about in your head Edwin? asked Jan.
Nothing that could compete heartily with your cock-eyed narrative gems.
That night they stayed at a small inn in a village near the city. The next day Tamarth
led them to the Government District.

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A beggar came up to Tamarth as they entered the district. My apologies for the
intrusion, sir, but might I prevail upon you for a single gold piece? Times are poor for me
an my kin these months, and I have been reduced to a mere beggar!
Begone with you! said Tamarth impatiently. I have had enough of this infernal
begging throughout this city!
II apologize most profusely, my Lord. I meant no offense! I am simply in dire
straits. Ishall leave you be.
Hold! You there! yelled a nearby Amnish soldier. What have I told you about
begging in the Government District?!
Iam sorry, sir, replied the beggar meekly, truly I am. But all the people with
spare coin are hereand
Irrelevant! the soldier cut him off. This is a decent part of town and Ill not have
filth like you littering about! I warned you the last time that this was your last chance!
Tell me, sir! This man WAS begging from you, correct?
I can answer that, guardsman, said Viconia before Tamarth could speak. The
rivvil approached us to ask directions and nothing else. But I have a question. There was
a helpless woman mobbed and nearly burnt at the stake near here not long ago. Where
were you then? Tirelessly hunting beggars, I suppose?
The guard quailed before Viconias dark visage. I, erhadnt heard of that. But
as for the beggar, wellI suppose theres no reason for you, a drow, to protect him. Go
on your way, old man, and dont, er, let me catch you at it again.
Th-thank you! said the beggar, shaking Viconias hand. Thank you, youve saved
me! My deepest appreciation!
Shiver me timbers! Jan said as the beggar vanished into the crowded square. Did
Viconia just do something nice? Quick, someone get me soapI need to wash my
drawers!
Tamarth was just as surprised, asking, What was that, Viconia? An act of charity?
Do not concern yourself, said Viconia. If I dislike the law in this city, it is
because I know how some can be disregarded by it completely. The pathetic rivvil can rot
in the Abyss, for all I care.
So you say, drow, commented Edwin. I suggest you drink more of the poison that
makes up your black heart and forget such nonsense in the future.
Mmmm-hmmm, added Jan, Very convincing, Vicky. Next thing you know, shell
be administering to the sick and setting up a program for disenchanted prostitutes. Oh,
dear, well moan, whatever happened to our wicked little Vicky? ehhhor maybe
not.
As Tamarth completed his original reason for coming to this district, buying a
license from the Cowled Wizards for permission to practice magic, he reflected on what
Viconia had uncharacteristically done. Individuals were seldom as simple as one would
like to believe.

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Grave Robbing
The next day the party entered the Graveyard District. Edwin stopped, looking
around at the graves. He was lost in thought for a moment, then spoke.
I remember something of this placethere are soothsayers and conjurers that
whisper in hushed tones about an artifact lost to antiquity(but not so lost to a
perceptive mage.) Ive heard rumors, and done a little reading on the subjectMany
have muttered the name in frustrationthe Nether Scroll. If IIf we found it we would
be formidable indeed. The lower tombs, perhaps?
They searched the mausoleums, quickly finding one with steps leading downwards.
Tamarth cautiously led the way underground, followed by Yoshimo, Korgan, Viconia,
Edwin, and Jan.
When they reached the bottom and started moving down a narrow passageway
Yoshimo said, Be doubly careful. Im sure all manner of stupid mousetraps await our
toes in the dark.
His words proved prophetic. Tamarth disarmed several traps before they entered the
lower tombs proper. Upon entering they were attacked by a swarm of undead. For once,
everyone appreciated Viconias presence, as she kept most of the attackers at bay while
the party dealt with the undead a few at a time. Her ability to cure the party of the
deleterious effects of their attacks was also beneficial.
They entered a hidden passage off of the large room where they had just fought the
combat. As they walked down it Korgan said, This is the way, I just knows it. A
southern tomb within the opened cavern. Bloody old, it be.
The passage ahead forked. Tamarth, still in the lead, chose the left passage at
random. They came to a tomb; a lich occupied the room.
Haaaaaaitit cannot be! said the lich. Havethe cowled onescome for me?
Have I beenfound outafter so long?
I am no Cowled Wizard, if that is what you are concerned about, Tamarth assured
the lich.
Youyou are not of the Cowled Ones? That isthat is good. Theyfound me
outmy pupils and Ipracticing the artswithout their permission. Wewe fledso
long agoII escaped to this placefled with my pupilsbefore the Cowled Ones
could take meprisoner. Wewe took what books we could. It wasit was so long
ago. Howlong now? II cannot remember. Are youhunting for the Cowled Ones?
Have youcome todestroy me?
Ill destroy you if I dont get what I want, lich, said Tamarth, sure the lichs tomb
must hold potent treasure.
Lich? Lich? Isis this what I am? Nonowas I dying? I wasdying so long
agoI used themagic to save myself. Just asas I have used itto save my pupils
Howhow long have my pupilsand Ibeen below? Do thewizards stillhunt me?
Is thename ofNevaziah still spoken in the world above?
No, I dont think they remember you any longer.

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II have been forgotten? The name ofNevaziahKeeper of Wisdomhas been


lost to the sands of time? Itit is as if I have beenin a dream. Mymy dutyis long
gone. II am dead, am I not? Andand all my pupilsas well. Ohhow long has it
been? Hidinghidingin fearfor centuries! Thank youfor opening my eyes. The
Keepers never cameto collect the wisdommy pupils and Ihave saved. Theythey
are long dead. Andso, toomust the wisdom be destroyed. Tell me, thenwhy have
you come? Whatwhat is it thatyou have come to this place for?
I wish th Book of Kaza, ye undead horror, said Korgan, emphasizing his words by
pointing his axe at Nevaziah. Where have ye secreted it?
The Book ofKaza? Yesyes, I rememberthis wisdom. One ofmy pupils
has it, nearby. Isis he dead? Iremember an accidentwith fire. Iremember
wrapping him in manybandagesand I used power toto restore him. II believe
soGogo to my pupilin the chamber nearby. Hehe has your Book of Kaza.
Taketake the wisdom from this placeand the restthe rest shall be destroyed
Edwin pushed forward, moving close to the lich.
Haaaaare youare you one of my pupils? Come tospeak to meafter so
long? NonoI see that youare not.
Enough of this banal prattle! cried Edwin. I wish the Nether Scroll, you senile
lich! If you cannot profit from its power, then I shall! Give it to me at once!
TheNether Scroll? II have thismost sacred scrollhere with me. It ismost
dangerous wisdom. Others must beprotected from itlest they be destroyed. II have
used its powersparinglybutperhaps not sparingly enough. Whatwhat makes you
thinkwizardthat you are strong enough for it? Itit must be destroyedwith the
other knowledge
No! NO!! cried Edwin frantically. I will not allow you to destroy such an
invaluable artifact! You are a fool, lich! And I will have the scroll if I must destroy you,
first!!
It isit is you whoare the foolwizard! II am the Keeper of Wisdomand I
sayyou shall not have it!!
Edwin was already preparing a spell as the lich was speaking, and cast it, bathing the
lich in flames. The others in the party were forced to attack it as well. The lichs abilities
had decayed along with its body; it was quickly overwhelmed. Even before the lich had
fallen Edwin was scrabbling among the detritus in the tomb. With a cry he held aloft a
scroll.
This is it. This must be it. This has to be it! The just and unjust alike will all fear the
overwhelming power of Edwin Odesseiron and his Nether scroll!
Will you be using the scroll to help us? asked Tamarth. Actually, he was happy to
let Edwin risk the mastery of unknown magic. Tamarth felt he could always take the
results from Edwin if necessary. Even if what Edwin found caused him to plot against the
others, Tamarth was sure he could figure out what was going on long before Edwin
struck. Edwins contemptuous dismissal of others made him quite safe in this regard,

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unlike Korgan who might decide from one moment to the next that Tamarth needed to
die.
Edwin absently replied to Tamarth, already studying his new find. (Yesyes this
will be a great help.) Of course, I shall put it to the best use of the group. Mark my words.
(Yes, mark them well.) But youll not see the scrollits mine! Touch the scroll, pull
back a stump.(Head, limb, legyour choice.)
They went back to the fork in the passage, choosing the other path. They came to
another tomb, the coffin opened and bare, smashed jugs and chests about the walls.
This tomb looks to be looted! cried Korgan in rage. The rank, stinking bastards
beat us here! Those scoundrelsll dine on me sup of cold steel afore Im through with
em!
The tomb was not entirely empty, as the mummy which must have once occupied the
coffin stumbled forward from the shadows towards them, slurred words emerging from
its desiccated lips.
Sssssstinking meatcursssssed with life. There are lawssss even here, rulessss.
Final resssst musssst be maintaineddefilerssss will dieit is the way of all flesssshhhh.
Kazasss tome isss gone! Nevaziahsss ssssstudent ssshall be thy doom. Join me in
death
Those grog-blossomed prickmedaintys ave crossed me one time too many!
yelled Korgan, working himself into a berserkers fury. Weve some walking undead to
dispatch, now, and then some live dead to find and bury!
Korgan led the charge against the mummy, chopping at it again and again, until the
pieces stopped twitching upon the floor.
Thrice over their graves Ill be dancing, I swear! he said. Stolen from under me! I
do the work of ferreting out where the blasted book will be, and those crackgnats take it
away! We must away! This tomb looks not a day defiled! If we get back to Pimlicos
before these fools do, mayhap I can catch them and retake what should be mine! Shagbag
needs a killin!
They hurried to Pimlicos estate in the Temple District. When they reached it, the
door was ajar, a bloodstain upon the lintel.
Damn, youve all taken too long! cried Korgan in frustration. Ransacked she is,
looted she was. Ye cant tell from barking in the street, but indoors is spiced rum,
dilligrout and Pimlicos noon-meats. Be wary of intrudersthere may be a few of the
lowlifes lingerin about inside, stinkin up the place.
Inside they found only four dead bodies, including Pimlico.
By the looks of it, said Korgan, me former comrades have painted Pimlicos
finery with his innards. Wed be wise to pay a visit to the Copper Coronet, as Ive a
strong suspicion that the motley crewd aint even out of town just yet. Theyll be living
the good life bout now. In fact, Ill wager me clans name that the predictable sods are
on the roof o the Copper Coronet as we speak. Best we hurry to catch their thieving red
hands!

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Korgans guess proved accurate. They followed narrow steps up above the Copper
Coronet in the slums. There, Korgan confronted his former companions.
I see little has changed yer candor, Shagbag, said Korgan. Still a lant-gulping
dirtchute.
Speak of the undersized broadarse and what should waddle in? replied Shagbag. I
was just remarkin ta Crazyface and Scrooloose that shame it all no dwarf tossin til next
moonsday. Shame it is.
Ye know, theres nothin that ails ye that I cant fix with me fists, Shagbag.
Yer likes frighten me not, midget. Bugger off. Ive some highlife to live with me
and the boys!
Ill nay allow that. I dont like being a bastard but ye leave me nay choice.
Allow? Perhaps yer new gang of bowelhives would like t know that rockrunt here
took it upon himself, whiles we were out and about, ta up and dirtnap three of the crew.
No reason. None. Seems he were slighted or some other, and up and kills Stitch,
Hogbelly and Cutter. Allow? Rich coming outta you, runt.
Bespawl all that! Nonsense! Steel was drawn with cold intent, Shagbag, and yere
well aware of the trespass!
This time, speck, yere knee-deep in it.
Pray if yeve a god, cur.
Their opponents were quickly killed. It would seem, Tamarth thought, that Korgan
had now succeeded in killing all of his former party members. He hoped it wasnt an
omen for the future.
Thats one fine mess that I done cleaned up, Korgan happily noted. They did the
killin, but I ends up with the gold, the book, and the satisfaction o kickin their tails. A
good day. Ye can go ahead an search Shagbags corpsethe blasted fool. Th bleedin
book might still be worth something if its intact.
Tamarth searched Shagbags corpse, finding the sought after tome. He held it up, so
all could see.
Aye, this be a grand enough lot, said Korgan, waving a hand still gripping his axe
to include everyone, mayhap I wont be needin to kill ye all anytime soon. He
chuckled, his grinning face above his blood-stained axe a gruesome sight.
Tamarth decided it was time for a little celebration. He led the others into the Copper
Coronet. He talked Lehtinan, the owner, into allowing them entry into the more private
portions of his establishment. Besides the expected whoring, there were gladiatorial
combats in a special indoor arena.
Hah! I would enjoy partaking, as he puts it, said Korgan after Lehtinan described
these sights. I have heard of th pleasures to be found herebut ye seem nay the type
for it, Tamarth, being yellow and such. As was usual, Tamarth ignored the dwarfs
gibes.

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My cousin Urnist, commented Jan, not surprisingly reminded of a story, bad


speller, by the way, always been the curse of that particular branch of the familyonce
owned a tavern that opened up into a pancake factory in the back. Best pancakes this side
of the vales, too, and you wouldnt know it if you drank there. Mind you, after the
Pancake Famine things were never quite the same at the factory again. Ill have to tell
you about it, sometime.
The party visited the arena. The slave gladiator who was the main attraction refused
to fight, and ended up being slaughtered by a troll. What did they expect, thought
Tamarth, using slaves? He was surprised Lehtinan had any customers at all with such
poor entertainment. After that Tamarth sought out the mistress of the inns whores.
Greetings, my Lord, she greeted him. I am Madame Nin, and I am here to ensure
you are pleasantly accompanied. Are you interested in companionship, my Lord?
Well, that depends, said Tamarth. How much does this companionship cost me?
A modest fee only, my Lord. 50 gold pieces acquires a room for the evening, as
well as a companion. Shall I call out one of the escorts for you?
Certainly, youve piqued my interest, replied Tamarth. He thought the price high,
but he could afford it.
Excellent. This is Cominda, and she will accompany you to your room, my Lord.
You may speak with her further, there, as you wish.
I see the desires of the flesh have their way even with you, Tamarth, said Viconia.
This is good to see. I was beginning to think your libido as barren as that of a northern
monks.
Tamarth had deliberately made this arrangement in front of Viconia, hoping to
irritate her. He was surprised at her reaction, although who knew, maybe it was normal
for a drow. He also wondered about the fact that, as far as he knew, she had made no
attempt to satisfy her physical needs since she had joined him.
Tamarth made sure the other party members wants had been met. He then spent the
night with the supplied whore, although his thoughts were of white hair and black skin.
The next day they gathered in the inns common room. Edwins eyes were
bloodshot, having spent the night looking at his prized scroll. While they were eating
breakfast he suddenly yelled out.
Ahh HA! I understand it! Sorry to bother your petty concerns, but I have translated
some of the Nether Scroll! (Hmmancient magic at my fingertips, and more yet to
decipher. It has been a good day.) What are you staring at? Ive had my say; back to your
little quest, or whatever!
As they left the Copper Coronet a female gnome proffered some turnips, trying to
sell them to Tamarth. He ignored her. Her face brightened when she saw Tamarths
companion.
Well if it isnt my dear cousin Jan!
Cousin Kylie! How goes the turnip business?

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Better than some days, Jan. Your good friend here didnt see the romance of the
turnips, however, and didnt buy one.
Well, I shall have to remedy that and sample one of these succulent morsels!
Thats better. Which reminds me, cousin, that you simply dont visit home enough.
I know. I agonize over that fact constantly.
Dont you patronize me, Jan Jakobar Jansen! What kind of gnome doesnt visit his
home once in a while!
You know, Kylie, Ill have to go right now and think about that.
Hmph!
Thanks for the turnip, cousin. Turmish, wasnt it? Fresh as a Calimshite
bellydancer! Off we go, Tamarth!

Guild Matters
Tamarth had decided it was time to deal with Ama, MaeVars lover. He led the
others towards the Dock District. As they walked, Edwin asked, Im curious, how did it
feel to watch the light fade in your brothers eyes as the killing stroke found purchase? I
speak of your battle with Sarevok, back in Baldurs Gate.
Tamarth was in a good mood, readily answering. It was wonderful. I felt enriched
for slaying my own flesh and blood.
If you happened upon another of your bloodline, what would transpire then?
No hesitation: I would kill them where they stood.
That attitude is candid and refreshing. If Sarevok is any indication, your siblings are
a powerful lot indeed.
A short while later a passing commoner remarked A dwarf? We dont see too many
dwarves, here. Most of them are out in the hills, mining, although a few do come to town
to smith and all. But not many.
Ye says that as if dwarven folk do nothing but, growled Korgan. Mayhap Ill
carve out yer intestines and prove different to ye.
Tamarth stopped at the thieves guildhouse he now ran, instructing those inside to
contact Ama and arrange a meeting for that night in Waukeens promenade. As the party
left the guildhouse Edwin pleaded that he felt ill, and asked to leave. Tamarth knew he
actually wished to study his scroll. Really, he had no need of the others at the moment.
He told them to meet him in Waukeens Promenade at nightfall, and until then do
whatever they wished.
Tamarth himself wanted to examine the ground where the nights meeting with Ama
would be held. He walked away, towards Waukeens Promenade. Perversely, Viconia
chose to accompany him.
They exchanged no words as Tamarth quartered the Promenade. As he was walking
around outside one of the gates of the promenade a man called out.

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You! The worst of that vile elven race! The touch of evil is upon you, I swear it!
I have done nothing to you, slurrpuk, Viconia said. Begone before you make me
angry.
Never! The elven race should be seared from the face of Faerun, but youyou
Drowwith your evil, blighted, cancerous hearts!
Oh, now you are simply making me blush, male! But take your petty hatred
elsewhere.
EVERYONE! SEE THE FACE OF TRUE EVIL HERE BEFORE US!! A DROW ELF!!
Enough, human! Viconia hissed in vexation.
I SHALL CLEANSE THIS DEVIL FROM OUR MIDST!!
He drew a dagger, and attacked. Viconia, rather than backing away, drew her mace,
cracking it against the side of his head. He collapsed; it was obvious to Tamarth that he
was dead.
An Amnish guard came over to investigate. Rather than attempt to argue or explain,
Tamarth slipped behind him, stabbing him in the back. He cut the fallen guard again,
making sure the guard, too, was dead.
Tamarth cursed under his breath. If the authorities figured out who was responsible
for this incident it would mean another round of bribes. If Viconia had to kill someone,
couldnt she at least not do it in front of a guardsman?
There had been only a few other witnesses, who had now scattered. Tamarth decided
it was time he and Viconia left the area as well. A few blocks away she suddenly asked
him a question.
Sowhat draws you to this part of Faerun? Amn? Athkatla? I seem to recall you
mentioning something about a mission or some bother.
It was a fair question, if perhaps a week late. Maybe the ice goddess was beginning
to melt. I need to know who captured me, for what purpose and what they have in mind
for Imoen.
How are you going to hunt down these culprits who ambushed you? Vermin rarely
leave scent or footstep.
The Cowled Wizards arrested the man responsible for my imprisonment and will
know where to find him.
The cowled ones are not to be taken lightly. Its whispered how their power is
boundless, and their allegiances are only with the powerful.
They exchanged a few more inconsequential words before reaching the slums.
Viconia agreed that it might be better if her dark face was not seen on the streets for a
while, so she entered the Copper Coronet. Tamarth continued to walk about the city until
night fell.
The party gathered at the appointed time. Ama was waiting for them.

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You are here, Ama said when they arrived. Good. I saw you approach and have
given the signal. Wait here and Sir Greshal will arrive shortly. Er, he is probably going to
be nervous so I would suggest keeping any weapons out of sight. A backpack will do.
Best to appear harmless.
Just wait a little longer, she said after a short interval. Im sure hell be here soon.
Hell want us in full view and unarmed.
The false Sir Greshal showed up almost immediately after, saying, We are ready,
Ama.
Now, everything is in place! she said. Strike at Tamarth! In MaeVars name, he
strikes at you from beyond the grave through us! Vengeance will be served upon his
killers! You have fallen for the trap, taken the bait. Now you are vulnerable, and my
assassins are in place! Let the Night Knives take you!
In fact, it was Ama and her allies the Night Knives who had fallen into Tamarths
trap. Prepared, the party allowed almost none of their opponents to escape. Ama herself
fell to Tamarths blade.
Tamarth and the others returned to his guild at the docks. The door guard greeted
him, Hey there, Tamarth, I heard about your dust-up in the promenade. Nice work. I
knew something was up.
Inside, Tamarth talked to Lathan.
II had you followed, said Lathan, and Im awfully sorry about the mess with
that Ama person. My informant tells me her cohorts wore the insignia of the Night
Knives. She must have fashioned her fake signet, or perhaps I just didnt look closely
enough. I am very sorry, and I am glad to see you well.
Just you make damn sure you dont set me up for such again! Tamarth railed. He
noticed the admission that he had been followed. It was as he had suspected, his top
lieutenants were little more than spies for Renal Bloodscalp. He wondered again at the
real reason he had been given the guild. Lathan spoke up again, changing the subject to
an incident in the guild.
I assure you that I shall be ever vigilant with guild concerns. I shall bring them to
your attention as soon as I have them. Kretor has a problem that he has been keeping
from you. He has been filling in his quota with his own gold because someone in his
ranks of pickpockets is skimming off the top. Kretor claims that the thieves know which
one it is, though they will not say. He has asked me to deal with this since you are new
and he does not quite trust you yet. These matters are your responsibility though.
Right you are. I will take an active hand in my guild, said Tamarth, pretending he
had chosen to ignore Lathans spying.
I will explain what is happening. Kretor has four thieves under him. They are a
young group with little experience and not much respect. They feign innocence, but they
know who is stealing. The first is Darronal Gwin II, a spoiled child of a noble family. I
think he works for Kretor out of boredom, or perhaps hes slumming. He doesnt really
need the money, but he is pretty obstinate. The second is a boy named Thrand. Dont
know much about him, except that he came from the south. Presumably his parents were

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Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

slaves and he has little to his name. He might be stealing to buy his parents out of slavery.
The third is a lass named Shadel. Had a rough home life, as near as I can figure. Joined
up with Kretor because she had nowhere else to go. She could be skimming to pay for
passage out of Athkatla, but I dont know. The last is a pompous little twit named, get
this, Blood Nightmaster. Hes a thief under Kretor because he thinks hes the best little
rogue in the world. He could be stealing from us because he thinks its daring.
A motley lot, commented Tamarth. Each could be the one.
It could be any of them, yes. I particularly dont like that Blood idiot, but that is
my personal bias. You have several options open to you at this point. Here is what I
propose. You can kill them all, which may be extreme. Or kill one, to serve as an
example. Or you can dock all their pay. This may make the one steal more, but it will
make the others more likely to turn them in.
Dock their pay, all of them. I wont have Kretor pay the cost for their treachery.
That will certainly spur some unrest in their little clique. They all require gold for
their own reasons. I will have the matter taken care of within half a tenday.
A direct representative from Renal was also waiting for him.
Hail, Tamarth! It is time! Renal awaits your tribute!
Yes, yes, I have been expecting you. No need to get excited.
This is not excited. I am merely eager to receive your guild quota. Renal awaits it.
He wishes to see if you are a profitable guild master. If not, someone else will be
appointed. Now then, if you would be so kind as to give me the gold that you owe. It is a
small amount, surely. You look a prosperous guild. This time is a mere 500 gold.
Certainly you can pay this without too much stress. Your thieves are young, but they are
skilled.
I will pay. It is my duty and I do so gladly. At least, Tamarth thought, the guild
was making enough money that he could divert some for his own use.
A pleasure doing business with you. Renal will be most pleased with your
performance. I wish you well.
Tamarth decided to leave Yoshimo as his representative in the guild. He required
someone he could rely on, who wasnt a member of the Shadow Thieves. With the
presence of Tamarth himself and Jan, Yoshimo wasnt actually needed in the party.
As they were leaving the guild a tipsy sailor accosted them.
You there, gnome! You gnomes sell thingsmight you have a selection of wares I
could look at?
Hmmn. Ignoring the blatant stereotyping you apply to my poor people, sailor,
suddenly I have a real itch to sell you a turnip or two. Sadly, ever since the bugbear
incident, I havent had a turnip to my name.
A short distance away Tamarth could hear hushed voices. Whispering to the others
to follow him, he moved towards the voices.
You know this is the only choice. Be sensible, said a female voice.

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You do paint a rather pretty picture, replied a male voice, but I heard some nasty
stuff about what happens to those that join.
Rumors and hearsay, said the female. I am here before you as the proverbial
horses mouth. You may take what I say at my word, or you will end like all the others
will.
See, there you go threatening. Though I suppose my own guild has threatened no
less. I just dont know.
You know. You just havent said it out loud yet.
Tamarth crept closer. He could make out a woman and two men, standing next to the
seawall.
Perhaps, but I started the male voice. Then, Wait, someone is listening to us!
Get out of here before they see us! Go! Well take care of these spies.
The two males attacked, and were killed. Looking at the bodies, it was obvious they
had been Shadow Thieves. The woman had fled, although it was not clear how. Tamarth
assumed she must be a vampire.
Tamarth decided to spend the night at the nearby Seas Bounty. As they entered, a
Serving Wench called out, Oh! Sweetie! You came back! I havent seen you in ages!
Erahh, Edwin stammered, you must have me mistaken for someone else,
wench, I
Mistaken? Ohhh, you cant fool me, silly! Id recognize that cute little beard of
yours anywhere, Eddie!
Ahthe name is Edwin, I assure you, and
Dont be silly, Eddie! She giggled, and waved to Edwins companions. Oh, are
you here with friends? Everyone says what a brute you are, but I know your softer,
sweeter side and Ill tell anyone who says different!
ENOUGH! Begone, wench, BEGONE! roared Edwin. I spent one night in your
chambers and that is ALLspeak of it again and I shall burn the flesh from your bones!!
Gaaaah!!
Well. If thats the way you want to play it, then FINE.
Tsk. You sure are a charmer with the ladies, there, Eddie my boy, said Jan. Have
them throwing themselves at your feet, eh? Wonders of wonders!
Edwin grimaced at Jan, muttering, (One more word, one more word and I shall kill
them ALL! Oh, yes, I think Im in just the right mood for it! Onemoreword)
Jan did not reply, so the others were spared seeing if Edwin would have made good
on his threat. The next morning Tamarth decided to return to the deArnise castle to
check on the rebuilding.
As they exited the city Edwin said Ive been spying you from afar, Viconia, and
your frankness, bearing and grace have beguiled me quite profoundly.

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Im certain there is a condition to your appraisal, Edwin, she replied. A Thayvian


only has one person in their world: themselves.
Hush, dear, nonsense. The reputation of my kindred is from untrustworthy sources.
Like the dark elves, a victim of cruel machinations and falsehoods.
Perhaps, wizard. Perhaps. Unlike yourself, however, I am an outcast from my
people.
Your brethrens loss is our gainand a beautiful gain at that.
Flattery will serve you no purpose, male. I will tell *you* when you may speak to
me thus.
At the castle only one minor matter required Tamarths attention. Tamarth met with
the major domo and captain Cernick to resolve it. Cernick showed up with one of his
guards, disarmed, at his side.
Greetings, my Lord, said Captain Cernick. I am not sure if you have been aware,
but we have been experiencing a number of thefts in the keep over the past couple of
weeks. Small things. A goblet, some silverware, a few coins from the servants quarters.
All of these things have value, although none of them were major thefts. StillI
investigated. Lastin, here, is one of the new guards. I caught him red-handed, attempting
to take a necklace that belonged to the late Lady deArnise. Lastin has confessed his
crime. I am unsure how to punish him, my Lord, so I have brought this before you.
He is your subject, my Lord, said the major domo, so yours is the right to decide
punishment, but you are alsobeing watched carefully by those who oppose your rule,
however.
To Tamarth, the matter was straight forward. Theft from him had to be discouraged.
I think the matter of justice is clear. I cannot allow thefts in the keep. Execute him
immediately.
As you wish, my Lord, said the major domo. Justice will be done. You heard him,
Captain?
I did. It shall be done immediately, said Cernick, and it shall serve as a fine
warning to all those who might try similarly.
II only meant the guard attempted to protest.
Silence! Cernick overrode him. The Lord has spoken. Follow me, and retain some
dignity in your death at least, Lastin.
Tamarth was glad the matter had been resolved so quickly; his evening meal could
occur as scheduled. After the meal Tamarth walked the battlements of the castle,
considering his situation. He was rather fond of Imoen, and supposed he should try and
free her from Irenicus at some point. His only really happy memories were of his
childhood, and Imoen, although he blamed his foster father Gorion for keeping his Bhaal
heritage from him.
Since Sarevok had forced the fact of his heritage upon Tamarth he had found little
happiness. To survive, Tamarth had used the anger of his godly father as a weapon,

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striking at any who opposed him. Tamarth had defeated Sarevok; surely Irenicus would
fall as readily.
Tamarth, lost in his thoughts, was surprised when Viconia joined him. She stood
with him a short while, staring out from the castle as dusk fell, the shadow cast by the
castle engulfing more of the countryside with each moment.
Its a strange time along this Sword Coast, she said, turning to look at Tamarth.
The brink of war was averted, but the countryside remains hazardous to the citizenry.
War? What are you talking about, Viconia?
The war your half-brother nearly started. What do you think I was speaking of?
Why bring it up? I killed Sarevok. His plans for war died with him.
Perhaps his war died. That does not mean other conflicts wont arise. Perhaps I
ramble on; if you wish Ill stop bothering you.
No, no. Tell me, what have you been up to since all the trouble with Sarevok
happened?
I have been a lost soul. When your race is used as a bogeyman it is an uphill battle
to even find a bag of dirt on a stable floor for the night. Children throwing apples,
merchants loosing the hounds, hunters with their arrowsand for what? Tales around a
dinner table, a few guffaws at a watering hole? It has been trying past endurance,
Tamarth. She sighed, looking back out over the lands surrounding the castle.
Well, how have you survived since we parted ways?
Viconia continued looking outward; Tamarth thought she tensed slightly as she
replied, I made the attempt to purchase land on the outskirts of Beregost. I dropped your
good name whenever necessary to remain on steady footing locally. I remained hooded at
all times, and it was only a matter of time and materials before I would own my own
homestead, away from prying eyes. I was not looking to be a farmer, of course. I just
wanted a place of my own. Where I could find peace. My neighbor was Roran
Midfallow, a stout, sunburned farmer. We spoke often, and I allowed the male to bring
me supplies that I needed but could not acquire.
Go on, Viconia. Please.
Over time, we formed an awkward friendship. He did not ask why I wore my hood,
and I slowly began to trust him. He wondered, thoughthat was obvious. The time to
reveal myself as Drow came one late afternoon. A warm day; the sun was dappling along
the south quarter of his farmland, and I pulled down my hood. Then he smiled a warm
inviting smile. He mentioned that his oldest son, Jiscanan, was busy making a feast to
burst the first button, and that I was invited. We walked to his farmhouse, where his other
son, a surly oaf named Funnard, was sickling quackgrass in the front yard. When I
reached his farmhouse, I learned his true intentions. Somebody hit me in the back of my
skull, and the ground rushed up to meet me. I had grown weak in my trust. They chortled
as I lost consciousness, saying how easy it had been and congratulating each other on a
finea fine catch.
What happened next, Viconia?

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I woke up to searing pain. While unconscious, they had abused and tortured me
then tried to bury their sins. I could see nothing except for the lid of a coffin. They had
buried me alivea mistake not to kill me outright. The fools knew the name Drow, but
were ignorant of my true spirit. Pain is the handmaiden of my people; their tortures were
amateurish in comparison. I split the coffin lid and let the earth in. I clawed to the
surface, and pain did not slow meI would not let weakness deter me from vengeance.
What did you do then?
I took my revenge, Tamarth. I watched their house, listening to them celebrate their
victory in the midst of drunkenness. I watched and I waited. Jiscanan, the younger son,
left to use the outhouse. I jammed a stake in the door, trapping him inside. Then I set the
building aflame. Roran came running, yelling to Funnard. As he stood helpless before the
flames I wrapped a garrote around his neckI whispered to him of his mistake, and
mine; he had underestimated a drow, and I had trusted foolishly. I tightened the wire until
he breathed no more. By this time the elder son, Funnard, returned with a bucket from the
well to find his fathers corpse and his brother a smoldering ember. He dropped to his
knees in shock, which afforded me a height advantage as I caved his head with a miners
mallet.
I amglad that you had your revenge. Tamarth admired such spirit, such
resistance to adversity.
I am drow. And I let myself be lulled, foolishly. The vengeance was bitter, Tamarth,
because my own stupidity had made it necessary.
Without another word, Viconia walked away, entering the keep. Tamarth stood
where he was a while longer, experiencing an emotion he hadnt felt in a while. Sorrow.

Crooked Path to Trademeet


When they returned to Athkatla the next day Tamarth decided to try and solve the
murders in the Bridge District, since he was still curious over their reason, why anyone
would skin their victims. He would question everyone he could find who regularly
worked or lived there, especially those lieutenant Aegisfield of the city guard had
mentioned.
Tamarth had questioned several people, learning little, when a noble walking by
them stopped, saying, Eh? You therethe gnome amongst you. You look very familiar.
Any relation to a Count Turnipsome that I once negotiated with, perhaps?
Good-looking fellow, charming and intelligent, said Jan. Also very industrious
and the apple of his mothers eye. Why do you ask?
Well, II still havent heard back from him about that expedition I commissioned.
It had been quite some time, after all.
Well, exploring is such a dangerous profession. Perhaps his ship was sunk in a great
storm on the way to Maztica. Ah, yes, I can see him valiantly manning the wheel, peering
into the depths of the maelstrom, while the rest of the crew leaps from the vessel in terror.
Tch. What a waste of good gold such a tragedy would be, besides taking from us such a
respected gnome. Me, I get seasick.

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Tamarth talked to several more people before he found some useful information. A
prostitute who worked the district had noticed an odd smell at the time of one of the
murders. Tamarth determined it had been the smell of tannin, which only the local
tannery, owned by a Rejiek Hidesman, would have call to use.
Tamarth also talked to a beggar, who had taken a section of animal hide from the
scene of recent flaying murder before the guards arrived. Tamarth asked around, and was
given the opinion it must be elephant hide. He wasnt exactly sure what an elephant was,
but this seemed to be more evidence pointing to the tanner.
When Tamarth, Korgan, Jan, Viconia and Edwin entered the tannery, the owner,
Rejiek, told them he was closed due to lack of stock.
Tamarth got right to the point, asking, Where were you when the last murder victim
was found?
The guards have already canvassed the neighborhood, so if you want anything, go
talk to them. I dont know who or what you are, so Im not talking to you.
You had better, said Tamarth. Elephant hide and tannin were found where people
died.
I see, said Rejiek. You have gathered thisevidence? I suppose others will know
of this as well then? Then it will not stop with your leaving. Its funny, isnt it? A simple
piece of leather, and a whiff of tannin. If my leather had not been torn I would not have
worn the new armor. No tear would have meant no smell.
Tamarth wasnt sure what to make of this ready admission. He asked, Soyou are
admitting to being a killer? Why did you do this?
I might as well try and explain the sun to the moon. You cant understand. My work
must go on. There is only one place left for my craft to go, and you cannot stand in the
way. Rejiek leaped for nearby steps leading downward.
Tamarth and the others ran after him. The floor below was a charnel house. Bodies
and pieces of bodies littered the room. Rejiek had already run down another flight of
steps on the opposite side of the room.
Tamarths trained eye noted something odd about the floor in front of them, and he
stopped the others while he examined it. He determined it was a trap, stepping on a
floorboard would set it off. It took a few moments to wedge the floorboard so it could not
go off. Tamarth, with Jans help, disarmed several more traps in the room.
The steps on the far side of the room led down to a dock, a small boat moored
opposite where they had descended. Rejiek was not visible, but a mage called out, No,
you will have no victory here! Rejiek must work on!
Who are you? Tamarth called back. Why have you aligned yourself with this
common murderer?
There is nothing common here. The work will continue. You will not be allowed to
stop what we wish to build! Vellin Dahn does command your death!

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Vellin Dahn, however, fled to the small boat which was just leaving the dock.
Several undead and assassins were still present, however. By the time the party had
defeated them Rejiek and Vellin were gone.
Tamarth led the others in searching the tannery. He found armor made from flayed
human skin. Although not completed, it proved Rejiek was more than a simple madman.
Tamarth carefully wrapped the armor in some common leather that was also present, and
stored the bundle in his pack. In a cabinet he found a letter referencing a contact of
Rejieks who agreed to meet him in the Umar Hills.
Tamarth told lieutenant Aegisfield of the city guard of his discovery, carefully not
mentioning the human leather or letter he had found. Tamarth had no objection to the
lieutenant crediting him with selflessly solving a horrible series of crimes.
It was getting late, so Tamarth looked for an inn. He entered Delosars Inn. When
Tamarth went to talk to the inns proprietor, the man pointed at Jan, saying, You! Out of
my inn, you no good, vile little thief!
You cant be speaking to me, said Jan. I havent been called that in ages
Of course I mean you, you fiendish little troll! Ill have your head if ye comes in
here any further!
So you are talking to me. Well, isnt that nice? I always told my cousins that Calbor
was the most thoughtful innkeep in Athkatla, and Im glad to see it wasnt just poor
memory talking.
Out! OUT!!
Youre getting a mite red in the face, Calbor. What seems to be the problem?
Thatyour goods do NOT work!! You stole my money, you did!
Come, now, Calbor. Youre talking about the turnip lotion, correct?
Yes!
Hm. Thats strange. Aunt Patty swears by that stuff. You didnt put it on your head,
did you?
Uh
Well, there you go. You see where blowing up gets you? I had a cousin Jalico who
put some turnip lotion on his head, once. His wife still wont speak to him. Ill talk to
Kylie, Calbor, and see about getting you some new lotion. And instructions. Tsk tsk. Poor
man. Fair enough?
Eralrightfair enoughon yer way, then
Under the circumstances, Tamarth thought it best to stay the night somewhere else.
As they were leaving Korgan bumped into a table, spilling a drink.
Hey! Watch where youre walking, dwarf! yelled the man at the table. All that
metal clanking around on you just knocked over my ale!
Well, excuse me, then, Korgan replied. Perhaps I should be guttin ye with me
axe an then yell worry less about yer precious ale, aye?

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Getting no reply, Korgan followed the others outside.


They entered another inn nearby, the Five Flagons. Tamarth was intrigued to learn
that a play was about to begin in the inns basement. He led the others downstairs.
A fair eve to ye, sir, a receptionist said as they entered the small theater. The
troupe of players is just beginning its next performance, if ye wish to partake. We ask that
you donate 5 gold for a ticket, but it is not required. Would ye like to purchase a ticket,
then, sir?
What sort of play is this?
It is a most dramatic play put on by the fine members of the Sigil troupe. Tis better
to see than to be describedwould ye like the ticket, then, mayhap?
Certainlyhere is your 5 gold.
Most gracious of ye, sir. Ye may enter the theatre, as ye wishjust show your
ticket to yon ushers, please.
The play had already started as they sat down.
Kirinaldo: Your lover has abandoned thee, sweet Lunisia. You have only one option
leftturnest thou to me and let us be wed at last!
Lunisia: No, Kirinaldo, I cannot! Oh, RodrigoRodrigo! My fair love, where hast
thou gone?!
Rodrigo stumbled onto the stage, looking around as though unsure he was in the
right play.
Rodrigo: Uhhere I am! Here I am, myuhsweetums
Lunisia: Eryes, Rodrigo! Rodrigo, it is thee at long last! But where have
Rodrigo: Ive beenuhacross the sea, my fairummy fair one. Yes, across
the sea and, uh
Hey! Thats not the actor that they had last time! said a nobleman in front of
Tamarth.
Lunisia: (ahem) and perhaps on the new lands, my lord?
Rodrigo: Yes, thats it! On the new lands. Yesum
Wheres the actor that was here last time?! Pfaugh!! said the noblemans
companion.
Another member of the audience said loudly, This is terrible! Awful!!
Kirinaldo loudly cleared his throat.
Kirinaldo: Butis it Rodrigo? No! No!! How can this be?!
Rodrigo: Well you should be soumconfused?
It is confused, right? he tried to whisper to the actress playing Lunisia, but
everyone in the theater could hear him.

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It is baffled! Baffled!! she replied.


Rodrigo: Baffled! Yes, well you should look so baffled, my lordumKirinaldo!
Twas you whowhowho
Terrible! Get him off the stage!! a woman yelled from the audience.
Rodrigo: whoumwhich thater
Arranged for me to be shipped across the sea! the actress playing Lunisia stage
whispered so loudly that everyone except poor Rodrigo heard her.
Rodrigo: Eh? Whats that?
Kirinaldo sighed.
Kirinaldo: Yes, you are correct, Rodrigo! Twas I that arranged for thy trip across
the great ocean! Twasertruly fiendish of me! Buthow did thy ever come to return
so quickly?
Rodrigo: UmI forgetIm just the understudy
A chorus of catcalls came from the audience.
Lliiras bane! I refuse to watch this!
I agree! Boo! Boo!!
Boo!! BOO!! Thats awful! Terrible!
Rodrigo: oh dear
Rodrigo, Lunisia and Kirinaldo hastily vacated the stage. Another woman came on
stage to address the audience.
II am sorry, good folk of the audience. As you can see, things are not right with
our troupe due to circumstances beyond our control.
Well, I were thinking that something stank like the Styx, said Korgan, and it be
fine to see me senses were not deceived. Har! Good thing I did not pay to see this, aye?
I beg of you, good people, said the woman, come back another day when we have
restored matterswe shall prove to you then that the Sigil troupe is worthy of your
attention and coin, and, and we shall do so for free, of course. And one finalodd
request, good folk. If youor anotherknows of those who are skilled in the arts of
sword and adventuredo send them to speak to me. It is a matter of utmost urgency. Tell
them to come and speak to I, Raelis Shai. Until then, I apologize again and bid you a fair
evening
As the other members of the audience quickly moved towards the exit Tamarth led
the party towards the stage. Climbing onto the stage, he moved towards the back of the
theater, curious what the announcer had wanted with adventurers.
Ah, hello? greeted Raelis Shai. I am afraid if you are looking for a refund for
tonights performance, I can only tell you to come back when our troupe is not in such
disarray.
Actually, Im here regarding your call for adventurers, said Tamarth.

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Is this true, child? Fate smiles on us, then, for I can see in your bearing that you are
a man of no mean experience. I thank you for coming to our aid.
Who are you people? I dont quiterecognize what race you belong to, if youll
pardon my asking.
I understand what you ask, child. We are people from distant lands and all of us are
of mixed heritage. Please, my good manwill you aid us?
I would need to know what the problem is, exactly.
You must hear our story, then. One of our actors, HaerDalis, has been kidnapped
by a wizard native to this cityhe has made no effort to negotiate with us. The wizards
greed may have called to him at the sight of HaerDalis beloved gemsomething our
sparrow would not gladly surrender. So this wizard has stolen both away and there is
nothing we can do. I would ask that you return our sparrow and his gem to us both, by
whatever means possible.
What reward might I receive for this task?
We are but a destitute troupe of players, child, and can afford little. Mekrath may
have treasure of his ownwrest it from his grasp if you wish to do so. But coin is eer on
the tongueI can offer you 300 gold for our sparrows return. Bring back the gem and I
can more than double that. Is that sufficient?
I would like to know who this wizard is and where I can find him, first.
His name is Mekrath, I believeI know that his lair can be accessed through the
citys sewers, though where exactly it lies is a mystery.
Very well, I shall do as you ask, Raelis.
Fly, thenfetch our brother away from his captor however you might, and return to
us soon. My prayers go with you, my good man.
As Tamarth left he passed Biff the understudy, who had finally been given his
chance to star as Rodrigo. Having flubbed his opportunity, he sat crying. Seeing the
party, he plaintively cried I really, really tried
After climbing the stairs to the ground floor of the inn they prepared to go to their
rooms for the night. A man sitting at one of the tables addressed Jan, Ach, I see yeve
given up the sale of turnips, gnome. A sad thing, I always cared for yer turnipsfresh as
anythin, ey were.
Its always a sad thing to disappoint a good customer, said Jan. Auntie Kylie can
still sell you some fine Jansen turnips, though, never fearmuch as I hate passing on a
customer to someone else. Oooo, this adventuring had better be worth it!
As Tamarth was about to go to his own room Viconia asked to talk to him for a
moment.
I wish toapologize, she said, for attempting to unburden myself upon you
before. I was foolish to be so weak in Beregost, and worse yet to speak to you about it.
Talking is no weakness, Viconia, replied Tamarth. You went through a horrid
experience.

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I have had nothing but ill encounters with surfacers since I fled Beregost. Their
constant spite burns within my soul. I spit upon them! Oloth plynn nina! My entire
existence has been thus since I fled the Underdark. Surfacers hate the Drow without
relent, and I erred in thinking otherwise even for a moment.
Not everyone hates the Drow so completely, Viconia. I dont think youre so
terrible.
You would think me terrible enough, abbil, if you knew enough about me. I am
drowmake no mistake about that.
The next morning Yoshimo stopped by the inn to report to Tamarth on the state of
his thieves guild. Tamarths idea to dock the pay of all the thieves under Kretor for the
theft of one of them had worked. The other thieves, apparently resenting having to pay
for the gain of one of their fellows, had murdered the one who had been holding back.
Yoshimo didnt think Tamarth would have any more problems with theft.
Edwin was the last to join them at breakfast. His eyes were bloodshot but
triumphant. He waved the Nether Scroll he had been translating in a grand gesture as he
sat down.
Another revelation in myerour Nether Scroll, said Edwin. A spell of
transformation, both basic and sophisticated. It is not unlike the transformation of mage
to lichbut it must be moremuch moreIve prepared for this moment all my life,
and lifetimes before! Be prepared to cower and flee! Nothing will stand in my way after
this!
Obviously, Edwin had been waiting for an audience before actually trying the spell.
Very curious, Tamarth encouraged him, Go ahead, Edwin. A powerful mage is difficult
to find, and of terrific benefit to all.
Wise advice, and I shall not totally forget you when you are as a bug before me.
Now, to power!
Edwin chanted the phrases he had painfully studied. As he completed the spell a
startling transformation overtook him. His beard disappeared. The bones of his face
seemed to shift into a subtly different configuration. Two greatly enlarged breasts
strained the fabric of his robe.
This is bad. This is blasphemy! said Edwin in a voice half an octave higher in
register. An outrage against nature and order! I must redouble my efforts to cancel the
hideous and deforming nature of this Nether scourge! Edwin tried a magical dispelling
upon himself, to no effect.
What! Nothing! he said. This is shameful and revolting! What are you pie-eyed
vagrants gawking at? Staring at me with a plebian vandals charm! This is beyond
treachery!
Tamarth chuckled at Edwins misfortune. In mock sympathy, he said, Looks like
youre in some trouble. And by the way, nice rack.
What?! How dare you, scoundrel! said Edwin. Gawking at my mantle! (Hey, they
arent that bad come to think of itwait a moment. What happened to myoh no. No.

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NO!) Woman or not, my spellthrowing is unparalleled and will bring the wrath of
cleansing hellfire upon you should the mood move me!
Tell me, Edwina, said Yoshimo, would you like me to let out the seams on your
robe? Im quite handy with a needle. You do, after all, have morebulkin the upper
chest area.
Silence, you fool! Chauvinist pig! (What am I saying?) I mean to say - Idiot!
It was only an offer, mlady. There is no cause for anger.
Tamarth told Yoshimo to return to the thieves guild, while Tamarth would travel
with the others to the town of Trademeet. Since he expected to be gone a while he
decided he would first walk about the northern sections of the city to see if anything was
going on.
Nothing of interest was happening in the Government District, but a crowd had
gathered to hear a speaker in the Temple District. A self-proclaimed prophet named Gaal
was preaching about the Unseeing Eye, a new god. Despite the arguments put forward by
a priest of Lathander, Gaal convinced about half the crowd to go off with him and have
their eyes put out as proof of their faith to this new deity.
As the crowd dispersed, a man who identified himself as High Watcher Oisig of
Helm asked to speak to Tamarth. He said, This must not come to pass. The everseeing
eye of Helm must be made aware of what they intend. I would hire you as mercenaries in
the service of Helm. I would prefer a man of faith, but you will be adequate. Follow me
to the temple of Helm. I will discuss what is required of you there.
Curious, Tamarth followed him to the nearby Temple of Helm. Inside, Oisig spoke
again.
First, I must say that I know your reputation. It is now irrelevant. You will be
judged according to how you serve. The task I ask will be treacherous but you seem
capable. Serve well and you will be rewarded. Display any treachery and it will be seen.
Now to the task. You heard that fool in the street? If what he says is true, it threatens to
upset a delicate balance. A new power would only disrupt the way of things. If he is
lying, then whatever cult he is proposing can only serve to hurt those it bilks into
following him.
What signs point to this? asked Tamarth.
Nothing points to the emergence of a new deity. It would be impossible to hide such
an event from the Great Guard that is Helm. What does remain unseen is the fate of those
that have chosen to follow. We have lost some of our younger faithful, and they must be
accounted for.
Tamarth firmly believed that everyone, if they had the guts and power he did, would
bypass the mores of society and take whatever they wanted. He was therefore not
surprised some of Helms followers had switched allegiance. Obviously the priest needed
his help, and Tamarth didnt bother to hide his true thoughts in his next statement.
Poor Helm cant compete on his own? I find that amusing.

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Helm offers unwavering stability; true faith has no instant reward. Helm very rarely
appears in physical form. Walking with mortals is not the way of the gods.
But telling mortals what to do is. Yeah, I know the drill. All right, what do you
need?
He of the Unsleeping Eyes must know of this cult. The blindness they promote is
abhorrent to Helm. We ask you to investigate and identify what is happening. The
Vigilant One informs that the cult is underground and close, but we cannot see past the
sewers. You must infiltrate, as friend or conqueror. You must suffer the filth of the
sewers to find the filth of the cult. They are not hiding amidst the pipes, so there must be
a passage leading further away.
And what is the payment for this task?
There will be reward. Do not tax your welcome by demanding it now. You will be
given your due when the time is right.
Very well, though I will be most displeased if it turns out you are lying.
May the Great Guard give light to all wrongs against you. You may seek healing
and tools to aid you here as you need. Ask an acolyte and you will receive. Our resources
are thin at the moment, but an ally of Helm and servant of Torm is awaiting you in the
sewers now. Seek Keldorn to serve with you. Faith guide you both.
Must we run errands for this temple of fools, Tamarth? whispered Viconia. If the
rivvin of this city wish to worship an abomination and put out their eyes, what difference
could it make to us?
Tamarth thought there might be some profit in the priests mission, and decided to
follow up on it when he had the chance. For now, he needed to leave the city and head for
Trademeet.
They were nearly at the city gate when a traveler stepped in front of them.
Hold up, wayfarers, said the man. Ive a few queries for this lowly group of
middling pilgrims.
What is it that you wish to know? asked Tamarth.
We are interested in the whereabouts of Edwin, a long-winded bag of gas.
Homeland magics indicate this area to be a likely place for the vulture to roost.
Tamarth noticed Edwin was keeping Tamarth between himself and the traveler,
although Tamarth thought his female form already an incredibly good disguise. Why
exactly are you seeking Edwin? he asked.
Edwin is a self-serving nerveless worm. Hes gone rogue. He tithes nothing and has
vilified the masters of the order and sullied their good names. As it happens, his prowess
as a spellcaster consists of parlor tricks and balls under coconut shells. Did I mention the
fantastic reward as well?
I havent seen Edwin but Ill be watching for him. Tamarth still felt he needed
Edwins magical support in his group. The knowledge he was an outcast made it unlikely
he would be striking out on his own.

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There is a kings ransom for the kind soul who would be so obliging as to turn the
impotent imposter over to the proper judicial authority.
If I should happen across this Edwin Ill be sure to seek you out and let you know
where he is. The traveler pushed past the group on his quest.
Tamarth had decided to continue on until they reached the deArnise castle, where
they could spend the night. As they walked Jan told one of his innumerable stories.
You see, about 15 years ago I was employed by a mage of no small caliber.
Golodon the Unmanned was his name. Good teeth. Nice smell. Vicious streak a mile
wide. He couldnt have children, of course. Nasty cone of cold accident, you see.
Regardless, his tower wasnt far from Athkatla and I managed to gain employment with
the old elf for a while.
Mondays were particularly amusing. Golodon would start the day off by
summoning an imp. Hed usually spend 3 or 4 hours making it run around the room
barking like a dog. But, as it was with Golodon, he soon tired of the sport. He had a
beautiful mastiff named Buffy. Her diet consisted almost entirely of imps. Imp doesnt
taste half-bad when its fried with a bit of garlic and butter. Goes well with turnips, too.
So anyway, Golodons ex-wife lived no more that 200 paces from the mages
tower. My primary job was poisoning her food, though occasionally Id have to clean up
Buffys excrement. She had managed to build quite the resistance to mandrake.
Golodons ex-wife, that is, not the dog. It was truly a magical time in my life. I havent
been as happy poisoning someone since then. I was also, of course, poisoning Golodon
on his ex-wifes behalf. She did pay handsomely.
Word has it that Golodon has finally kicked the bucket, if you get my drift. Died of
malaria complicated by a fireball down his throat. Apparently, Golodons old nemesis
returned. Dradu or Dradeen or some such name. The old bastard would occasionally
mention this enemy when he was particularly drunk. The two of them had stolen some
valuable artifacts from the Gibbering Twelve.
Golodon blackjacked poor Dradunce and split with the magic. He later realized that
he should have killed Dreedle and, cold-hearted fool that he was, sent assassins to finish
the job. Drafeel disappeared, though his body was never found. It worried Golodon to no
end. I cant find it in my heart to feel sorry for him. He did fire me after all.
Viconia fell into step beside Tamarth as they continued to walk. I have been
watching you for a time as we travel. You have a pleasing look about you, I think. The
sort of musculature that does make a woman swoon with desire.
Truly? You find me desirable, do you? asked Tamarth, liking the direction this
conversation was headed.
Perhaps. And what do you think of Viconia, hmm? Does her ebony glow spur
lustful thoughts? Does her sharp beauty give you singular twinges of desire?
I think you are the most exotic creature I have ever laid my eyes upon.
That is good to know. Not that I would deign to lie with a dog such as you, lowly
male. Now turn your eyesmy skin crawls from your attentions.

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Tamarth flushed in anger. He was clever enough to realize, however, that more was
going on than simply Viconia trying to make him appear the fool. With an effort, he
forced himself not to respond. He knew Viconia well enough that she would not accept
any help with whatever internal problem she was wrestling with, especially not from a
lowly male.
When Tamarth arrived at the deArnise castle he was told a wandering cleric,
Bolumir of Tempus, was waiting to see him. After he was informed the cleric wanted him
to offer him a place at the keep he sent him on his way without seeing him. He didnt feel
he needed any freeloaders in the castle.
That night he dreamed of Irenicus again. Irenicus taunted him, told him he was so
much less than he could be, called on him to follow and receive the gift of power inherent
in his blood.
Tamarth awoke, shaking his head. That wasnt right. Irenicus would give him
nothing; anything Irenicus knew would only be stripped from him by force.
The next day he was already several hours travel towards Trademeet when a
messenger caught up to him. He was urgently needed back at the castle. When he
returned, he found Lord Roenal impatiently waiting for him in the courtyard.
Alright, lets make this quick, peasant, said Lord Roenal. Nalia deArnise was
betrothed to a Roenal by her father. Whether or not that wedding is going to happen, this
land is ours by right. Nalia is too young to decide for herself to just give the land away.
And the very idea is preposterous at the least! SoIm going to be a gentleman and give
you the choice to decide your fate for yourself. Give up this castle. You will never rule it
in the long run, at any rateyou have no noble blood. Give it up now and all will be
forgiven. What do you say, peasant?
Tamarth didnt care for threats, especially from self-important twits. His reply was
succinct. Forget it. Now get off my land.
Hmph. I see you are as stubborn and stupid as any other peasant. Very well. The
next time I return it shall be with my army at my back. Lord Roenal and his followers
left.
The major domo hurried into the courtyard, out of breath. Your grace! You return!
II had thought it would come to this. I have already taken the liberty of speaking to
Captain Cernick, my LordCaptain Cernick said he would do all he could to build your
forces, but there is little else that can be done. Lord Roenal may be bluffing, but I am
not sure. At any rate, Captain Cernick has sent scouts to the borders of your land. We will
know immediately if Lord Roenal movesI will send word if it comes to that.
Tamarth again set out for Trademeet. His mephit familiar complained from its home
in his pack, I would like to say that you run around too much. Here, there, back again
sheesh! Dont you ever stop a while, set up shop? Gimme a break, boss!
When he reached the town he found it under attack by wild beasts. Since the beasts
also began attacking Tamarth and the others he was forced to help the town militia defeat
them.

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Hold! Trademeet is not a safe area for visitors, at the moment! the captain of the
local militia addressed them after the battle. Unless you have business, strangers, I
suggest you return whence you came!
I do have business, said Tamarth. I have been told about these animal attacks and
have been asked to help.
Help would be a welcome relief at this point, although I am unsure what you can do
to assist us. We fight against a revolt of nature, herself, in this place. But if you are
serious, go ahead and enter the town. Seek out the home of the High Merchant, Lord
Logan Coprith. He can tell you more than I. But beware, strangers. The townsfolk are
suspicious of outsiders. They blame druids for their miseries, and see strangers as druid
servants and spies. I, myself, am reserving judgement on that pointbut I will take any
help that we can get. I welcome you to Trademeet, for what its worth.
Tamarth led the others to the building holding the mayors office. Once inside the
building he first talked to Guildmistress Busya, who complained a group of Dao Djinn
had effectively strangled all trade in the town.
Tamarth entered the mayors office. The man seated behind the desk looked as
though he would be more at home leading a band of mercenaries than governing a town.
He wore a chain shirt, as well as a sword. Seeing Tamarth and the others enter, he stood
up, his hand dropping to the hilt of his sword, before speaking.
I greet you with weapons ready, for I distrust your manner. We are wary of
strangers, especially ones equipped as you. I am Lord Logan Coprith, High Merchant.
And I am Lord Indifferent, replied Tamarth, reacting badly as always to authority.
I dont show reverence when insulted at a glance.
Very well, though any insults to follow will now be based on your insolent manner.
Will you continue your posturing, or do you intend to try and help?
Enough of these games, replied Tamarth, with difficulty controlling his anger.
After all, this was the man he hoped would employ him. Tell what you need done and I
shall see if I can assist.
Trademeet has been here for generations, but now we are harassed from the
strangest of sources. It has been a very difficult time for the local merchants. The very
land is against us. Animals attack, and even the foliage strangles. It began subtle, but now
we suspect a dark mind behind it. Until recently we did not know where to place blame,
but now the people have found a target. The last group attacked saw several figures
directing the chaos. Druids, belonging to a group that has long been peaceful. The people
apparently captured one. Had I not locked him up they would have quartered him in the
street.
So am I to help question this druid, or would you have me hunt his fellows?
Something like that, though it is more complicated. He is not guilty, of this I am
sure. He says he has been sent to investigate his fellow druids. Many of our citizens have
already made up their minds on the matter however, and he remains behind bars if only to
avoid a public burning. What I would have you do is escort him to his task, or see to it

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yourselves, whichever you prefer. I would seem to be collaborating if my men or I were


to help him, and alone he may not make it out of town. Will you help?
I need to gather a large amount of coin to rescue a friend being held by the Cowled
Wizardsso I would like a reward.
We are a merchant town. If the attacks are stopped it will be a return to business
and profits. Many of the merchants would be grateful if such were to happen.
That will suffice for now. I will speak with this druid.
Fair enough. You may pass and speak with him. He may also leave under promise
of your care. Good luck.
The town cells were located in the basement of the building. With the key he had
been given he went downstairs and freed the druid Lord Coprith had mentioned.
Hello and well to you, said the druid. I am Cernd, though my identity is surely no
secret after the fuss I have caused here. You look pleasant enough; are you friends of that
charming Lord Coprith? Ive made very few friends among the merchants.
What if the merchants did send me? Whats in it for me to save you?
You bluster as the coming storm, but you do not show the same signs and cannot
fool me. Mercenary you may be, but the merchants have not sent you. Their only concern
is my death, but I have nothing to offer for crimes I have not committed. There may be
tracks from the scene, but they do not lead to me.
Acceptable so far, thought Tamarth. He decided to test Cernd further, If I kill you
the merchants might reward me anyway. Can you offer better?
I have my services as a druid to offer. No doubt the people here will add their
gratitude to the reward, though none of them know it yet. Please, you must see through
the briar and realize that reaching the other side will benefit everyone, even if not with
cold coins at the front.
Perhaps if there was possibility of loot, said Tamarth, pleased with Cernds
answers, tell me what you believe is going on.
I am not quite sure, but I have suspicions. I will try to tell you what I know of this. I
am Cernd, as I said, sent from the north to investigate why the druid order of this region
has severed its ties with the traditional hierarchy. It is not unheard of, but the attacks have
me worried. It can only lead to greater evils; these people will eventually strike out as an
animal cornered. I know many druids in this region and they would not support such
actions without due cause. I suspect that there has been a change in leadership here. It is
the duty of any druid to find this new leader and ascertain if this is for the best of nature.
The attacks on the merchants only serve to alarm me. I might succeed alone, but I would
much rather have the backing of a group, one that will also benefit from my service. Are
you up for the task?
The benefit of a druid in investigating this problem was obvious to Tamarth, but he
couldnt bring himself to admit that to Cernd. Only if there is benefit for me. Join and
lead the way, but I wont risk my neck.

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Nor should I expect you to. Druids alone should handle these squabbles, but I am
thankful for what help you can give.
As they were leaving the mayors office a noble requested a private word with
Tamarth.
So you are the mercenary that Logan has hired to save us? said the man after they
stepped to the side. Are you capable of defeating the druids?
Who in the Hells are you to be questioning me? asked Tamarth, not liking the
mans question.
Mind your tongue, youngster, when you speak to your betters. Im Lord Khellon
Menold, future High Merchant of this town!
Another puffed up noble. Tamarth had had quite enough of this type in Baldurs
Gate, so he coolly said, Really? Is Logan aware that you desire his position?
I shall soon be High Merchant. All of those with power in this town back me.
Logans days are numbered. What is it that Logan has asked you to do?
He has asked me to talk to the druid Cernd and discover why the druids and the
animals are attacking the town, answered Tamarth straight-forwardly, hoping this would
encourage Khellon to get to his point.
Any drooling idiot can see why they attack! They want our land. They are mad with
lust for it and the evil spirit of the Grove has made them so! Tell me, do you truly wish
to end our troubles or has Logan and his asinine approach to the situation infected you as
well?
Certainly I am interested in a permanent solution.
Im glad to hear it. The fact of the matter is, Logans lily-footing ways will fail. I
wonder of the fool even wants to stop the mad druids! Allow me to present a bit of
background to you. It will help you understand the trials ahead and what you must do.
Im listening, said Tamarth impatiently.
This is not the first problem weve had with these freaks, these tree-huggers. Far
from it. Last year, my company was to open a caravan route through the forest. It was to
be a grand road, paved and straight. In short, it wouldve been the finest caravan route on
the Sword Coast!
It sounds very ambitious. What happened?
My crew and I began construction but as soon as the first tree fell, a druid came
running out of the bushes, screaming like a banshee! He was going on about the Spirit of
the Grove, the sacredness of nature and some other nonsense. We gave him a knock on
the head just to shut him up. Khellons voice had been rising as he recounted his story.
If he intruded on the grove, I see why the druids would object, interjected Cernd
from where he was standing. Was there no other direction his road could take? Did he
even bother to speak to the man?
Within moments, more druids burst in casting spells at my men! continued
Khellon, practically shouting. They trussed me up with vines and roots! Kept us tied up

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all afternoon, lecturing about nature and other garbage. The insult was too much! When
they did let us go we killed a bunch of them before they ran off. The druid Verthan came
to Trademeet and blamed ME for instigation and murder!
The churl! Tamarth said, wondering if the fool would ever get to the point.
Logan sided with them and forbade my company from entering the Grove on
penalty of death. I lost 20,000 gold pieces!!
How does this relate to the present situation?
The druids grow more aggressive with each passing day, he said in a calmer voice.
If they have their way, the entire population will be slaughtered, even their tool Logan.
Logan would try to make peace with the devils. I intend to end their evil. You are
obviously no stranger to battle. I would wish to hire you to make my plan a reality.
What is your plan and how do I fit within it?
There is an evil spirit in the Grove that desires nothing less than the destruction of
this town and all within it. Logan, that fool, ignores this! We must decide whether we are
the masters of nature or slaves to it. I, for one, do not intend to be a slave. There is only
one way to handle a situation such as this.
That way is?
We must kill the druids before they can kill us. We must destroy their source of
power so that this can never happen again. We must exorcise the Grove of its evil spirit.
The Grove derives its evil magic from a holy font within the druids lair. You, my
friend, shall destroy the source and weaken the druids. Mopping up will be simple when
the font is gone.
The plan has merit, said Tamarth, stringing him along. Do you have a plan for
destroying this holy font?
I have obtained a bottle of sulphurous poison. Find the font and pour the poison into
it. The druids will be weakened and easily disposed of. Will you do it?
Why dont you simply do it yourself? asked Tamarth.
Are you deaf? The honorable High Merchant has threatened to kill me if I
approach the Grove. In any case, you are more suited to this sort of work than one of my
high breeding.
Who are these concerned citizens that you claim to represent?
Noblemen, supporters, lackeys, well-wisherswhat do you care? Do you want the
job or not?
Give me the poison and the druids will trouble you no more. What was that about a
reward?
Ah, yes. A reward. You shall be well paid in gold. If you do the job well I am also
prepared to offer an enchanted shield.
I demand higher pay for the job, said Tamarth flatly.
I shall offer 200 gold pieces up front. Will you take the job?

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It was bad enough that Khellon had insulted him, and his loud theatrics had ensured
he could expect no help from Cernd if he did accept his proposal. The promised reward
was not worth the risk. Especially since Tamarth did not trust the merchant to deliver
once the job was done.
That isnt enough. Find someone else to slaughter the druids.
Hmph. I misjudged you, coward. Run along then and play by Logans lilly-livered
rules. When I come to power you shall no longer be welcome in Trademeet.
As Tamarth was leaving the town he passed a large tent erected next to the road. A
man dressed in red was just exiting the tent, and gave Tamarth a hearty greeting.
Tamarths clipped reply was all it took for the man to launch into a story.
Great! So, anyway, there I was traveling through the Troll Hills, right? I come
across this large cavern, warm steam coming out of it and the forbidding smell of
brimstone and suchA dragon, I think to myself. And being Wilfred the Red the great
adventurer, I walk in and challenge the dread beast! Thirty feet high he was, with a
wingspan easily three times that! Red as blood and eviler than a cockatrice in May! I slew
the beast, naturally, after a valiant struggle. A few minor scorch-marks were all I suffered
for felling the beast, and its hoard was mine! More gold than you could possibly imagine!
Too bad I was by myself at the time. I could only gather as much gold as I could carry.
Still, it was enough to make me plenty wealthy. Plus, it was a good deed, which is my
forte.
Tamarth had at first been inclined to ignore the man, but his clothes did seem new,
so there might be a little truth in his tale. He said, Well, perhaps you wouldnt mind if I
relieved you of most of your wealth, thenever been robbed? Thatd be a good tale to
tell your friends
Wh-what?! Youyou cant do that! said Wilfred in shock.
Why not? If you killed a dragon, surely you can handle me, replied Tamarth,
drawing his sword and casually aiming towards the center of his red chest.
No, no violence! Please! IIm no great warrior! Wilfred replied, his suddenly
pasty face forming an interesting contrast to his garb. There! I admit it! Please dont hurt
me!
He looked at Tamarths companions, as if appealing for help. He stared into
Korgans eyes, shuddered, and started babbling, IIIll tell you what really
happened! I wastraveling through the Troll Hills with my caravan and I, uh, got
separated from them when I responded to a, uh, call of natureI was lost and when I
thought I heard them close by, I ran to catch up. I, er, stumbled and fell into a cave of
sorts. There was a dragon, therea small oneand he was, uh, sleeping. So Ihelped
myself to some of its gold. And I, er, got out as quickly as I could.
Please dont tell anyone! he pleaded. IIve got a reputation to uphold! Ill do
anything! Tamarths sword point was still practically touching him, so he quickly undid
a pouch from his belt. Oh, oh! Heretake this! Justjust dont tell anyone! Ooooh, Im
so embarrassed!

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Shadow Druids
As Tamarth, Viconia, Jan, Korgan, Edwin and Cernd walked, they passed a few
abandoned farms, the dirt road dwindling once they passed the last one to a game trail.
Cernd commented, Ahh, I am never quite so happy as when I am in the wildest parts of
nature. To live as the animals do is a very liberating thing.
A short time later a druid stepped into their path ahead of them. He called out, I
give you fair warning, interlopers, that this area is under the protection of the druids of
Tethir, and if you do not leave you will face natures wrath!
And by what authority do you make this threat? replied Cernd. This is not the
way of right-thinking servants of nature. Explain yourself.
Cernd! was the surprised answer, Youyou have been away some time. Much
has changed.
So I see, though I am confused. The Grand Druid has not heard good things about
what has happened here. Attacks, threats, brutality.
It is the new way, Cernd. We have a new leader to follow, and she has moved us in
this direction.
She? What of Gragus? Was he not the Great Druid of this wood?
Yes, Cernd, but Gragus has beenreplaced. Faldorn is the new leaders name, and
none have dared challenge her as yet.
So instead you follow as ants and do her foul deeds? Have you not the courage to
face her?
She is a Shadow Druid, and veryviolent. She alsobonded with the grove. She is
invulnerable outside of challenges, and those must be one on one battles.
Such a ritual is unheard of and quite costly to the grove. I shall discuss this matter
with her in a language that she will understand. Get out of my sight.
Many will not talk, Cernd. I do not enjoy this new role we take, but others do. Walk
carefully. The druid ahead disappeared back into the bushes by the path.
The sky had gradually darkened with clouds as they had been walking. Rainmaker,
said Korgan, looking up, use yer mumbo-jumbo and make sure it dont rain when were
traveling in the outdoors! It makes me armor rust, me clothes damp and me feet slosh
about in me favorite boots.
Im afraid I cannot, Korgan, said Cernd. It is not within my sphere of influence,
nor is it my place to do so.
Bah! Tree-hugging dirteater! If yer god lived on Faerun Id break his windows!
Good fer nothin! Go pluck mistletoe and frolic naked in glades!
Trying to make me repentant for the ways of the storm will prove no more fruitful
than whistling down the wind. A selective sun may also choose to prolong your damp,
but who am I to say.

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They had to fight numerous trolls, along with scattered groups of druids. It was
possible some of the druids might have wished to surrender, but between the frenzied
assaults of Korgan and the fireballs of Edwin they never got the chance. Despite Edwin
showing again how useful he could be, Tamarth still found it hard to think of him in his
new form by any name but that given him by Yoshimo, Edwina.
Cernd said nothing to the slaughter of his fellows, perhaps recognizing the necessity
of purging the shadow druidic influence, but he did chide Edwin for damaging the forest
they had entered.
Viconia did not care for this last comment, saying, Treehugger, Ive a question for
you: If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody care?
Youve a nerve, Viconia, said Cernd. Anger and pain is your home, and a woeful,
cold place it must be. My brothers celebrate life, renewal, seasons, the parliament of trees
and the splendor of natures bounty. Shar and her ilk revere entropy, revenge and
darkness. Viconia, you and I will never see eye-to-eye and that covenant should be
respected and maintained. And to answer your question, yeswe do care.
Your kindred are a scourge, defending birds, trees, brooksthe dirt. It illustrates
your inability to relate to anything with two legs and a language.
They came to a partly ruined house and tower. The tower was empty, but when they
entered the house they met an old woman inside. She greeted them as they entered.
Ahhh! If it is not a lovely elf come to see an old woman in the woods, eh? Perhaps
you have come, like so many others, to partake of my potions, yes?
Errr, one moment, Tamarth, interrupted Jan. Maybe its just me, but I see
illusions all over the place, here. Especially on the old woman, there. Any idea how an
old woman would have a tiger head, by chance?
What?! You do not have the stench of the djinn on you! she cried in anger. How
do you know this?! Bah! You are fools! We will devour you!!
The woman shifted to her true form, that of a tiger-headed rakshasa. Two other
rakshasa appeared from where they had been hiding in the room. They proved immune to
the partys spells, but not their weapons. After they were dead, Tamarth searched the
house, finding a little treasure. He wondered why they were there.
Past the house they disposed of another group of shadow druids, then came to an
entry leading back under a hill. A few mostly fallen stone pillars stood before the
entrance; Tamarth did not need Cernd to tell him they had come to the center of druidic
power in the region.
Inside, the cave walls had been roughly worked. Just inside the entrance they passed
a small challenge pit. A short distance past the pit they came upon the shadow druid
Faldorn, surrounded by other druids.
Well, what have we here? asked Faldorn. Some fool come to stop the righteous
force of nature? Laughable. Say what you must and then we shall purge the earth of your
filth.

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Tamarth stated, Cernd would know what has changed here, and why you rule as
you do.
Cernd is no concern. I am a Druid of Shadow and the hierarchy is in shambles. If he
thinks he can change this then he is wrong! I am stronger than ever with the aid of this
grove. No harm can come to me here. Such bonding is frowned upon as it drains from the
earth, but the mother feeds me that I might fight for her!
The rituals of ascension still rule here, said Tamarth as he had been coached.
Cernd will challenge you for leadership.
I will speak for myself! said Cernd, pushing forward. Faldorn, you perpetrate
gross crimes here! You are unfit! I challenge you, and by the rites laid down ages ago you
cannot refuse!
What makes you think I would wish to refuse? she said scornfully. I took this
grove by force and I shall keep it in the same manner. Did you think I would retreat? Oh
no, Cernd, this is your end. Prepare!
By the rules governing such fights, Tamarth and the others were forbidden to
interfere. Tamarth didnt mind; if Cernd fell, Tamarth would only have lost the first
round against Faldorn. As it happened, Cernd cannily used his magic to defeat Faldorn
despite her greater strength.
The scourge has been purged, said Cernd when Faldorn lay dead. The deed is
done, for even now the land sighs relief. This has been a great service to nature and she
shall not forget. Now will come rebuilding. Faldorns invulnerability came with great
cost, and the land bonded with her will suffer immeasurably. Verthan will serve as
challenge master until the healing is done. His reverence for the land will not allow him
to be corrupted if temporarily granted control. When the scars are healed he can step
aside. A new Great Druid will need to be chosen at some time. More turmoil ahead, but
for now we can rest.
What of you, Tamarth? asked Cernd. You are likely off to travel? Would you
mind my company? My duty here is done and I do love to see the land. Shall we join?
Tamarth thought Cernd had done well in the combat, and he could be of future use.
A fine pairing, I think. Come, there is much to see.
A new season comes and growth is renewed. I am grateful for your indulgence.
I stand as Challenge Master, said Master Verthan, and all that seek ascension in
the druidic order can come to me. And for you, I must formalize our thanks. Go now and
worry no more about these woods and the druids who protect them.
They paused for a short rest outside the cave, in a small field. As they sat, Cernd
remarked to Edwin, Are the flowers not beautiful this time of year? Perhaps a little late
in the blooming, but still
What!? What are you getting at!? demanded Edwin. I know you are talking about
me, so speak it plain!
Perhaps your new form has made you more sensitive, though not in a way I call
improvement. I meant nothing. It is my wont to talk of nature and her gifts.

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Very well then. I will let your comment pass and


I mean, if I say how the great cycle fells the mighty oak, yielding to the furrows and
valleys of a more subtle landscape, is it my fault if you take offense?
I see, I see. I shall let the slight pass and
And if I say that the great stag casts aside its wondrous mantle as the long winter
approaches, should it be my concern if you draw any comparisons to your
Yes, yes, yes, now will you please cease your prattle!
Poor, Edwin. When nature casts aside an appendage, she is confident it will return
in the proper season. My heart weeps for your insecurities. Weep, weep.
Finally certain he was being mocked, Edwin sat and muttered to himself, (I wonder
what his nature would say about the cleansing power of fire. I wonder.)
They began the long walk back to town. As they neared Trademeet the trees thinned.
Jan craned his neck, looking into the sky. He commented, You know, Id like the
daytime a lot better if it didnt mean a griffon has a clear sighting from five miles
away
They returned to the High Merchant Logan Coprith, who gave them only a small
reward. Korgan cursed at having had to wander outdoors for such little gain. Tamarth felt
little better.
We are in your debt for whatever you did, said Coprith placatingly. I thank you,
and Trademeet thanks you. I wish it were within my power to offer you a reward more
suitable than this, but Trademeet has another problem we have not been able to solve,
exactly. You see, Trademeet was once favored by the goddess of trade, Waukeen. We
were a place of fairness, where one would not fear for his life or possessions. And it was
so, I assure you. Waukeen herself has disappeared; we have no patron goddess and things
have, ah, deteriorated. Thieves have comeand worse.
A group of Dao genies from Calimshan arrived while we were enmeshed in the
druid business. They and their gold were welcome enough at firstBut in only weeks
they have taken all business and put a stop to it. They are hunting a rakshasa named
Ihtafeer, and insist that she is present in the town. The genies will allow no trade to occur
until Ihtafeer is found and her head given to them. Whywhy they have chosen this
particular tactic, I am unsure. Without proper trade, however, the merchants are
penniless. Soon, the food resources will dry up, as well, so something must be doneand
done soon. I didnt think that you could deal with the druids so easily; perhapsperhaps
you might be able to look into this for us, as well?
Tamarth grudgingly agreed to fulfill this additional task. At least he already knew
where the bodies of the rakshasa lay. Tamarth also spoke to Guildmistress Busya before
leaving the mayors offices.
Ah! It is the hero who has saved us from the druids, said the guildmistress. I give
you my thanksour town is in less trouble now than it was, and perhaps proper trade
will soon be restored. There is yet one problem that plagues us, however, and Lord
Coprith has informed me that you have agreed to help us with it. Nothing would relieve

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me more. The Dao stay in their tents just outside of the town entranceI ask that you go
there and convince them to leave. Either find their rakshasa oror destroy them, I
suppose, as dastardly as that might sound. In return, I offer you a reward of gold, as well
as an item of some power that the guild has in its stores. No doubt the djinn also have
plenty of wealth of their own, as well. We dont desire trouble with such powerful beings,
but we cannot last without supplies any longer. Their demands are unfair. Pleasedo
what you can, I beg of you.
As they exited the building Viconia suddenly said to Tamarth, I have been thinking,
a little. I have been thinking of the time I have spent with rivvilthe humansand I
have found nothing redeeming or worthwhile in them.
You shouldnt judge all humans by the actions of a few, Viconia, stated Tamarth,
trying for a reasonable tone.
No? Shall I not judge them by the farmer in Beregost, or by the fanatics who would
have burned me alive, or by the countless peasants who have hunted me? Name me one
surface dweller who has treated me with ANY civility!
Wellwhat about me, for instance?
You?! You gather fools like moths to a flame, and wander without any knowledge
of real experience! What do you know, moronic jaluk?! Now leave me be!
Tamarth found it hard to swallow another stinging insult from Viconia. He admitted
to himself that he felt a certain affection for her, despite her manner, and wished to hear
softer words from her lips regarding himself.
They found the tents used by the djinn without trouble, and entered the largest. Two
djinn were inside. One of the djinni, dressed in fine silks and gems, spoke to them.
Greetings to you, wayfarer! I am Khan Zahraa of Calimshan, a Dao djinn, at your
service!
A Dao djinn? What is that? asked Tamarth.
The clans of djinn are beyond the ken of most mortals, this I understand. It is a
complicated thing, wayfarer. Suffice it to say that I am a djinn of the family Dao, yes?
What would Calimshite genies being doing here in Trademeet?
Yes, this does beg a question, mortal, does it not? The Dao would not normally
choose to make such a place our home, even temporarily, indeed. Suffice it to say that we
have come on a service, hunting a criminal of some repute from Calimshana rakshasa
by the name of Ihtafeer. Rakshasa, if you have never encountered them, are devious
shapeshifters and thieves. We have followed this particular prey for quite some months
now, and she has eluded us at every turn. We have grown tired of this chase. We know
that Ihtafeer lies hiding in this area in mortal form, and so the Dao have taken over the
trade of this town. We Dao buy all that comes here, you see, and charge prices too high
for the mortals to affordand we will not relinquish it until the mortals find this rakshasa
for us. Eventually, they shall run out of their food and such and they will become
desperate enough to do it. Or not. Regardless, the hunt is less taxing and far more
amusing this way, dont you agree?

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Sounds like youre having fun.


Indeed we are! The Dao grew tired of chasing this little rakshasaone does not
always have to do things the difficult way, after all.
What would you say if I found this rakshasa for you?
I would say, mortal, that I wish the head of this rakshasa returned to meand once
that was done, despite the amusements we have found here, the Dao would return to
Calimshan.
Tamarth left the tent, where he suddenly stopped, cursing himself. There was a
simpler solution that didnt involve tramping half the night through the woods to obtain a
head. He re-entered the tent.
Mmmyou return to the Dao, mortal, said Khan Zahraa, and yet I do not sense
the head of the rakshasa Ihtafeer in your possession. Have you perhaps changed your
mind?
Yes, I have, agreed Tamarth. Ive decided to destroy you, instead!
Most excellent! Dao djinn, we have sport attending us today!
Zahraa was no longer present at the end of the short combat which followed to
question, but there was no doubt that Korgan had enjoyed the battle.
Sohave the djinn been dealt with? asked Guildmistress Busya when they
returned. Have you been successful?
I have destroyed all of the djinnthey will bother you no further.
Ah, so it is done. I would have hoped it could have been done peacefullythere is
no telling whether more of their kind will come, nowbut what is important is that their
monopoly has been ended. You have the sincere thanks of Trademeets merchants and, I
am sure, all of its citizens. Here is the reward that I promised you. You should go and
find Lord Logan, I think, and tell him of your deed. No doubt he will be overjoyed to
hear of ityou have earned a heros welcome here in Trademeet, my Lord. I, myself,
have much to do at the moment. The caravans must be contacted and brought in
immediately to give us the supplies we need. Thank you once again.
They entered the high merchants office. Ah, you have returned! Have you dealt
with the genies, yet, Tamarth? he greeted them.
Yes. It was difficult, but I have destroyed all of the Dao genies.
Excellent news! What a wonder you areyou have come into our town and
delivered us from what I had thought to be insurmountable problems! I trust the
Guildmistress showered you with rewardsand if not, she should! I, for one, think it is
high time to give you the heros welcome you deserve!
The Logan quickly organized a meeting of the leading merchants to honor the party.
When they had gathered he addressed them.
Citizens of Trademeet! We are gathered here today to honor the heroes of our small
town, led by the Lord Tamarth. They have not only stopped the assault of nature upon us
by removing the evil druid that had taken over our local grove, but have also spared us

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from the recent domination of the genies! You are once again free to walk the streets of
Trademeet, and new caravans have already been hired to bring supplies to our local
merchants. It is good to know that even though we do not have our beloved Waukeen
looking out for us, we still have people like this who we can turn to in a time of need!
From this day forth, I declare that these companions be known as the Heroes of
Trademeet! Their likenesses shall be displayed on the fountain forever more!
The small crowd clapped, individual members also yelling out their thanks.
You will always be welcome here. Obviously, you are deserving of your glowing
reputation as a true hero. May the gods smile on your journeys.
Tamarth grinned when the mayor referred to him as a true hero.

Founder Dispute
As the meeting broke up a well dressed woman came over to Tamarth. Greetings to
you. I am Lady Lilith Lurraxol, the head of the noble family that founded this town long,
long ago. I am pleased to make your acquaintance. It is pleasing to know that there are
heroes of real mettle here in Trademeet, ones with both courage and ability. As it so
happens, I have need of such people. Pleaseif you are interested in the reward for
performing such a task, do come and speak to me at my mansion. I look forward to
seeing you there.
She left. Almost immediately afterwards a well dressed man came up to Tamarth.
Hmph. I see that that vicious harpy has already pounced upon you. Ignore whatever she
saysshe is a conniving witch and a liar. I am Lord Skarmaen Alibakkar, and it is my
family that founded Trademeetnot hers. So I greet you in the name of the towns
premiere family. No doubt Lady Lilith has asked you to perform a service for herI
happen to need the same service done, so I ask that you come to see me in my home so
that we may discuss it further. If you are foolish and work for the Lurraxols, however,
you will not be welcome in my home. Think carefully on this.
He left as well, whereupon the high merchant walked over to Tamarth. He sighed in
disgust, saying, I am sorry they chose to involve you in their schemes. The Lurraxols
and the Alibakkars are old and powerful families here, and they have been feuding for
generations. Be careful in your dealings with them, that is all I can say. I have here a
reward that the town merchants have gathered for you. Dont forget to go and see the
statues that have been conjured in your image. Theyre in the center of town at the
fountain.
Tamarth walked from the mayors house to the fountain. He stopped, staring at the
statues of himself and the others which had appeared about the periphery of the water. He
cynically assumed they could be as easily removed as they had been made to appear the
next time the town needed help from outsiders.
I have actedpoorly towards you, said Viconia by his side. II wish to
apologize.
The sting of her earlier words had not dissipated, causing Tamarth to reply, You?
Apologize? The great and haughty Viconia?

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Certainly, make fun if you wish, but youdid not deserve my insults. You are the
only surfacer who has treated me fairly, and not demanded something in return. You
you are not too bad to travel with. For a lowly male, that is.
Had to add that last bit, eh? I accept your apology, Viconia.
Yes. Let uscontinue on our way, then, Tamarth.
Tamarth saw he could earn some profit from the offers of Lady Lilith and Lord
Skarmaen, but first he decided to pay the merchants of the town a visit, to see if any
goods were offered for sale now that the djinn were gone.
He was disappointed, little as yet present in the stalls he passed. Bored, Tamarth
stopped to watch two philosophers arguing. One called for bending with every obstacle
life offered, while the other said it was better to struggle. Naturally, they did not convince
one another to change their minds. Tamarth thought the second philosopher got the better
of the argument, however, since when he had his servant attack the first philosopher his
strategy of accommodation did not prevent his death.
Viconia seemed to agree with his thoughts, saying, Indeed. To survive is all that
matters in the end. What good are such ideals if they do not serve you or make you
stronger?
Tamarth noticed a woman ahead scanning the shoppers. She looked Tamarths way,
then hurried forward towards him. Slightly flushed and out of breath, she began speaking.
Please! My Lord! May Imay I speak to you? My name is Jenia, and I come to
you on behalf of my son, Tiris. Hehe is very frightened, my Lord. Too frightened to
even leave our home! Please! Youyou are such a hero of this town, I beg of you to
come and speak to him! To see what has frightened him so and perhaps help him!
I do not have time to help him right nowperhaps later, answered Tamarth
impatiently.
Oh, I did not mean to impose on you, my Lord, truly I did not! It is just thatI do
not know who else to turn to. He will not speak to the militia, the poor boyPlease come
as soon as you are able to! I so despair seeing him like this!
It appeared that being the towns heroes had its problems. Tamarth didnt relish
being asked to locate every lost cat. In this case, he decided, he might as well find out a
little more about the problem. It was barely possible it would prove of interest. He asked
several people for directions to Jenias house, which they were eager to give to the local
heroes. When he entered the house Jenia and her husband greeted him.
Oh, thank you for coming, my Lord, thank you! said Jenia. Please speak to
Tirisfind out what is wrong with him! Maybe you can help!
Our boy is in trouble, my Lord, said her husband. Anything you could do to help
him would be appreciated, truly.
Tamarth sat down to talk to Tiris.
Oh! Y-you areare one of the heroes that everyone is talking about, arent you?
he said. Youstopped the druids and the genies. M-maybemaybe you could help

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meItits all so terrible, I hardly know where to begin. He paused, gathering his
thoughts, before continuing.
Mymy love, Raissa, and Iwe were coming home two days ago, not far from
here. It was lateand I heard a strange noise come out of the shadows. I thought perhaps
it was another attack by the animals, but a large man leapt out of the darkness at me and
knocked me out. II remember nothing until I woke upWhen I did, I saw a man tying
Raissa to a chair. He was the one who had leapt at me. II stirred, as my head ached,
and I was not immediately aware that someone else was in the roomI suppose the other
must have heard me, because he approached. II saw him, my Lord, I turned and I saw
him! He was aa man, or a creature that looked like a manbut he had no skin! All I
saw was hishis muscles and sinew! He hissed, a dreadful sound, and tried to grab me.
Tamarths interest in what Tiris had to say suddenly increased with these last words. It
was not at all what he had been expecting.
I was frightened and I leapt back, Tiris continued his tale, barely out of his reach.
The man by Raissa yelled at him to grab me, and the skinless creature shouted back at
him, angryand I fled as quickly as I could. I heard someone running behind me, but I
didnt dare look! I heard it shout behind me, onceit said that it would get me, that it
would find me. Andand when I stopped running, eventually, I didnt hear it any more. I
came here to hide, my Lord.
I am frightened to go outwhat manner of creature could this be? What kind of
magic would create a horror such as this?! I dont know who to turn to. The militiathey
can do nothing against such a creature, I am sure. Andand I feel so ashamedI left my
Raissa behind, left her to die! Please, my Lordwill you help me? Will you find my
Raissa and bring her back to me?
I will try, but I need more information, said Tamarth, deciding he would
investigate this mystery at once.
Th-thank you, my Lord, I am very gratefulif you could do whatever you canAs
for more information, well, let me think. Thethe skinless creature did say the name of
the man with the knife. He shouted it when the man told the creature to grab mehe
called the man Rejiek.
Rejiek? Are you sure? asked Tamarth. So the tanner from Athkatla had fled here,
and was associated with a skinless creature. Tamarth wished he had paid more attention
to local rumors; he wondered if there had been any flayed bodies found recently.
Yes, sir. Very sure. Why? Dodo you know that name?
Yes, but you neednt concern yourself. Do you remember where you were
brought?
Eryes, yes I do! The creature brought me to the woods near the Southwest Gate.
Go there, I beg you, and find out what has become of her! Perhapsperhaps this man
and his creature yet remain there!
Tamarth led the others to the southwest gate to the town, and beyond. A short
distance ahead a man called out to them.
Hold! I would know what manner of creature you be, before I lower my guard!

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I could ask you the same question, said Tamarth.


Ha! Fairly said! You have not attacked me, a lone victim, so it is unlikely you are
the creature I seek, anyway. Its base evil cunning would not be so bold. That said, it is
quite fair to say you do not know who I am and may attack me regardlessespecially if
you are at all aware of the capabilities of my prey. I am Darsidian Moor, and I hunt a
creature known as the Skin Dancer, a man-like beast without true flesh of its own. Now,
will you reveal your name?
No, I will not. Speak your peace and I shall decide if I let you live. It seemed very
convenient to Tamarth that this Darsidian Moor should appear at just this time.
I have spoken all I need to. If you have no information on the Skin Dancer, then I
will follow what leads I have found here, and combat the creature on my own.
You will go nowhere! I do not trust your motives! Tamarth instantly replied.
As you wish. I have not asked for your trust, only your help, as I recognize you as
the recently-anointed heroes of this town. If you are the skilled adventurers that everyone
speaks of, I could certainly use your help. The Skin Dancer is a powerful foe. I have
found several clues. I suspect the creatures lair is just north of the East Gate, in a walled
off section of town with an orange pavilion. I intend to travel ahead and scout out the
area. Meet me there as soon as possibleI could certainly use your aid.
Darsidian took off at a rapid walk, almost a run, as though afraid to be followed too
closely. Tamarth told the others to follow at a normal pace, while he chased Darsidian
alone.
He ran after the man, keeping to shadows and doorways as he tried not to let him
pass from sight. Darsidian traveled to where he said he would be, but from Tamarths
vantage he seemed to meet at least one other figure; there was no combat or other conflict
that Tamarth could see.
When the others caught up with him he walked forward with them as though just
arriving. Darsidian was standing with a young woman, who Tamarth assumed was
Raissa. On the ground lay a man.
Tamarth! You have come! said Darsidian Moor excitedly. The creature was about
to kill the maiden, here, and I was forced to intervene. His human accomplice is only
unconscious, however!
II knocked him out! said Raissa. H-hehe was going to kill me!
Quickly, Tamarth! Darsidian urged him, I have been badly hurt, and I do not
know if this human accomplice will rise soon or notkill him now while we have the
chance!
Yes! Kill him, please!! echoed Raissa.
Tamarth narrowly examined Darsidian. It was true flesh blood stained his garments,
but he gave no other indication of any injury. Tamarth knelt down by the man lying on
the ground. He recognized the face of Rejiek from his encounter in Athkatla; where the
skinless creature that Tiris had described could be was not apparent.

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uhhhwh-what? Tiris? Is thatis that you? said Rejiek groggily, in a high


pitched voice. Tamarth looked up at Darsidian and Raissa, trying to figure out how they
were tricking him.
What are you doing, Tamarth?! Kill him now! screamed Darsidian.
Enough, Darsidian! said Raissa in a suddenly deeper voice. The hero will not slay
her now! I knew your plan was doomed to failure! I should never have gone along with
it!
Hsss! Rejiek, you fool! answered Darsidian. This was your only chance to fake
your death and escape once and for all!
I have no patience for it! answered Raissa, who Tamarth realized must be Rejiek
somehow wearing Raissas skin. Let us kill them and take their skinsand we can
announce my death anyway! Come, it ends here!!
Tamarth and the others slew Rejiek and Darsidian. The other Rejiek, the one who
had been lying on the ground, slowly got up at the end of the combat.
The creature shed the Rejiek skin, then as Tamarth looked on, fascinated, it moved
over and donned the Raissa skin from one of the corpses.
Itit is good to be back in, in my own skin! said the creature, obviously the
missing Raissa. Ahhhh, I c-cannot believe I am doing this! She sobbed, holding her
hands out pleadingly to Tamarth, Y-youyou killed those monsters? It was so
horrible! They turned me into one of them. Peeled my skin from m-my bones andand
now Ive put it back!
What do you mean turned you into one of them? said Tamarth, although he was
beginning to suspect.
They turned me into one of them. He took my skin like it was some kind of coat,
and put it on. He told me that now I was a Skin Dancer, too. II can feel the dark magic
coursing through me, changing me. He laughed at me, said I had been given a gift, if only
for a short timeHe told me it was an honor when a Skin Dancer assumed a new form.
He said he needed to change his identity, but that he didnt want heroes chasing after him.
He meant you, didnt he? He knew you were here. He meant to use both me andand
Tiris, but Tiris got away, so their plan had to change. Thank the Gods you found out, but
II cannot go anywhere like this! I can feel that magic, that evil, growing inside of me!
Please, my Lordhelp me!
Sorry, Ive done all I came here to do. I can do no more, said Tamarth. In the end,
there had been no one to help him with his Bhaal taint. It was up to Raissa to deal with
this.
Oh, No! II cannot stay like this! she cried. Theseurgesthey overwhelm
me! If you cannot help me, thenthen I must flee!! She ran off, Tamarth assumed to
hide in the woods.
Although it was past dusk, Tamarth decided there was still time to talk to one of the
local merchants who wished to engage his services. At random, he decided to talk to Lord
Skarmaen.

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Hello once again, Tamarth! greeted Lord Skarmaen Alibakkar when he entered his
mansion. It is pleasing to see that you did not respond to the call of that harlot, Lady
Lilith. The woman is too deluded to see the truth, as I said. A commoner that has risen
above her station. Our two houses have been feuding for generations. The Lurraxols seem
to be possessed of the notion that their family founded this townwhat an absurd
thought! Why they would even presume to suppose such a thing, I have no idea. It is sad,
however, that the Alibakkars have never had the evidence to prove our claim to them
though it galls me that we would need it.
All that has recently changed. An old tome belonging to my family states that there
is proof, that proof can be found right here in Trademeet. In the graveyard is a tomb that
has been long abandonedbut which also houses the founder of the town. My ancestor.
With him lies a large circlet called the Mantle of Waukeen. Possessing that circlet would
be all the proof I need, so I wish to acquire it. I would do so myself, but there happens to
be a good reason the tomb is abandoned. It ishaunted, so they say. The exact nature of
its danger I do not knowbut you are a hero who surely could face its perils and return
safely with the mantle, yes? In return, I shall pay you a thousand gold.
I think a larger reward is required, here, replied Tamarth, having appraised the
furnishings of his house in his mind as he entered.
Hmph. I am sure there is treasure to be found in the tomb, if you look for it. And if
you are thinking of going to the Lurraxol witch, I doubt she can pay more. Noa
thousand gold is all I offer.
No, I dont think so.
Hmph. If you change your mind, I shall be here to speak to you. But if you go to
that Lurraxol bitch with this information, you will not be welcome back!
Tamarth decided to see how much Lady Lilith was in fact offering. He walked to her
mansion.
Ah! It is the hero of Trademeet, come to see me at last, greeted Lady Lilith
Lurraxol just as effusively. I trust that all is well? That pig, Skarmaen, did not speak too
harshly about me, I trust? No matter. He is a stubborn, deluded fool. Our families have
been at odds for generations, you see. The Alibakkars refuse to acknowledge the fact that
we are the only true noble family in Trademeet, having founded it. Why they would think
themselves higher than they are is beyond my ken. What is unfortunate, however, is that
my family has never had actual, physical proof of the truth of our claim. That has
changed, however. A tome has recently been uncoveredan old tome belonging to my
familythat states there is proof right here in Trademeet under our noses. In the
graveyard tomb, here in town, lies the crypt of the foundermy ancestor. With him lies
the Mantle of Waukeen. A pretty name for an old gold circlet. That circlet, however,
would prove my claim once and for all and shut those Alibakkars up. I would get it
myself, but the tomb is haunted, you see. You are a hero who might enter that tomb and
retrieve the circlet for me, if you are willing. In return, I will pay you 1000 gold. What do
you say, my Lord?
Tamarth had the odd thought that perhaps they were in collusion. In any case, he
judged the price adequate, saying, Alright, then. Ill retrieve this mantle for you.

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Excellent! Here is the key to the tombthe fact that we possess it yet more proof of
our legitimacy. Use it to enter and obtain the mantle, and then return to me when you are
done.
As they neared the tomb the High Merchant Logan Coprith was waiting to speak to
them.
A moment of your time, Tamarth. I understand that you havetaken a commission
from a noble family to enter the tomb and retrieve something from it. I have no objection.
The tomb has been a sore point for far too long, and if anyone can do something about
that, I am sure you are the one. But I am concerned about what you may retrieve. The
mantleit belongs to an ancestor of two families, although each is sure to claim it as
theirs alone. This can end only in bloodshed. I cannot offer the gold that the nobles have,
but in the name of peace I ask that you bring the mantle to me once it is found. I will not
force you to, howeverperhaps things are not as bad as I fear. But I shall leave your
actions to your conscience.
Tamarth entered the tomb in the local graveyard. Inside were a few undead, but for a
group that had faced the horrors in the underground tombs of Athkatla hardly a challenge.
He also found the mantle; that had been his worry, that the mantle would have been
looted long ago. He returned to Lady Liliths mansion. Inside, he was surprised to see
that Lord Skarmaen and several of his henchman were meeting with her.
Tamarth! It is good to see you once again! said Lady Lilith. Do youhave
aaaah. I see that you do possess the mantle. For such an old object, it has retained much
of its beauty, yes? This is a glorious day! Finally that pig-headed Skarmaen will see that
the Lurraxols are the true noble family of Trademeetand the Alibakkars nothing but
well-dressed peasants!
Do not be so sure, witch! protested Lord Skarmaen. That mantle rightfully
belongs to my family! You have stolen it from us!
Stolen it?! she answered incredulously. It was with the body of the founder of
Trademeetmy ancestor! The circlet belongs to me!
The founder is MY ancestor, not yours!
Dont be ridiculous! The founder was part of MY family!
Bah! You have no claim to the mantle! You are deluded, woman! You shall never
have the mantle to yourself!
No, it is you who are wrong! stormed Lady Lilith. YOU shall never have it! The
Lurraxols are the only true nobles, here! TamarthI command you to give it to me
NOW!
No, Tamarthit is MINE! corrected Lord Skarmaen. Give it to ME!!
You wont get it, Skarmaen! Ill take it from the heros dead hands before I let you
have it!
Not if I get it first, witch!!

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To Tamarths surprise, both merchants ordered their guards to attack him. After the
battle, in which both merchants were killed, Tamarth stood considering what he should
sell from the mansion to get his reward.
Dramatically, High Merchant Logan Coprith burst into the room, shouting, Hold in
the name of order! I demand that you desist at once!! He paused, looking at the bodies.
AhI see that this has already ended. (sigh) It is much as I thought it would be, truly. I
tried to warn you, Tamarth, but you did not listen to me. And now both of our most noble
families are dead simply because they could not accept the fact they descended from the
same family. How very unfortunate. I am sorry you got mixed up in this matter. You
could have prevented the carnage, but I do not blame you for it. I shallsend men to
clean this up. Good day.
Tamarth wondered if Lord Logan had planned this all along. When he made his
token offer to accept the mantle he must have known Tamarth wouldnt go along with his
plan without a better reward. It might be convenient for Lord Logan that the two leading
families of Trademeet had just been extinguished.
He left the mansion, abandoning any plans to sell items from it. It would
undoubtedly tarnish his heroic reputation, which he might find it convenient to have at
some point.
As they walked to the inn to rest for the night Jan said, Well, mageling, how goes
the battle against all that is right and good in this world?
(It would surely go better without annoying gnomes asking questions) muttered
Edwin before replying, Question not my designs, else you, too, will become an
unwilling part of them.
I sometimes believe that it is my destiny to become a part of some incompetent
mages fizzled schemes. Golodon the Unmanned being a case in point. You, too, I
suppose.
I am to be continually plagued by fools? Conversation with you does not rate highly
on my list of things to accomplish. Run along, now. (Yes, that will do.)
Truth be told, I feel a bit sorry for you. It must be frustrating to see your entire lifes
goals amount to absolutely nothing.
What do you know of my goals, gnome?
If you say so. Let me know when its time to bow. I might not notice it.
The next morning, the mother of Tiris sought Tamarth out in the common room of
the inn. She was obviously distraught, nervously smoothing her tunic with her hands
again and again.
It is very strange, my Lord, she said, very odd, indeed. Raissa, she came here to
speak to Tiris. Andand she was so odd, acting so unlike her normal self. Tiris noticed
it, too, but he was too happy to see her Her voice broke in a sob, and it was a few
moments before she could continue.
She wanted to go for a walkand they left. And they havent been back, since.
Heh-he isnt coming back is he? Oh, something terrible has happened! Somethings

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gone wrong, I just know it! Th-thank you for all youve doneor tried to do, my Lord.
II am sure you did all you could.
Tamarth realized Raissas skin dancing ability must have held true, and she had
recruited Tiris to join her. He briefly fantasized about having such an ability for himself;
any associated curse would be minor for someone who already had the blood of the god
of murder flowing in his veins. If Raissa had any sense she was already far gone from
Trademeet. In any case, Tamarth needed to be on his way. He led the party from the inn,
ignoring Tiris mother, who was quietly sobbing.

Trouble for Jan


Tamarth had done a little research while still in Athkatla, and learned that Valygar
Corthala owned a house in the Umar Hills, near the village of Imnesvale.
Tamarth traveled first to Imnesvale, where he made contact with the agent who had
been mentioned in the letter he had taken from the tannery in Athkatla. He found the
agent outside the only inn in the village. After exchanging the required signs, the agent,
Fael, was willing to talk to him.
As I said in the letter, I am sorry for these simple games. Merely a ruse to throw off
the foolish guards of Athkatla. I trust you have the armor almost complete?
Yes, yes I do. It is not quite done yet though, said Tamarth, removing the leather
armor made from human skin from his pack.
Of course. I will add the final touches, said Fael, but I do need the most important
ingredient first. Your workmanship is unparalleled, but it needssomething special. The
skins were exquisite, but now there must be blood. You know what I need. Bring me the
blood of a dragon. A silver dragon.
Tamarth gave him the armor, although he didnt expect to ever see it finished. Unless
he happened across a very young silver dragon, he doubted he would ever obtain the
necessary final ingredient.
While Tamarth was in Imnesvale he killed a local band of ogres, gnolls and orcs that
were threatening the area for the mayor. The mayor didnt seem convinced that this band
had been responsible for all the villages troubles, but he paid over the promised fee,
which was all that concerned Tamarth.
He also learned the location of Valygars lodge. When he came near the building a
group of rangers tried to warn them away, and were killed. Heartened by this evidence
that Valygar was still in residence he and the others broke into the lodge.
Ho there! More Cowled ones or their servants, no doubt, greeted Valygar to their
forced entry. By the gods, I swear youll not live to take me to that damnable sphere!
So this is where the cowardly hidden ranger be, eh? said Korgan. Yere correct,
boythe wizards hired us to track ye down for some manner of retribution. The
difference means little to us.
Valygar followed up on his words, forcing them to kill him. They prepared his body
for travel and left the Umar Hills.

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On the way back to Athkatla they stopped at the deArnise castle. It was a cloudless
day, the sun brightly shining on the party as they arrived, about noon. As they stepped
into the clearing about the castle Viconia nervously looked upwards. There is no roof to
this world. I feel as if I shall fall into this sky of yours, sometimes.
As usual, the major domo had an item which required his attention. I am unsure if
you have met Chanelle, he said to Tamarth, she has been a maid here most of her life.
She was an orphan, and the deArnise family took her in as a servant when she was
young. As Lord of the keep, you are technically her guardian. Ordinarily that would not
be a problem, but there are two men who desire her hand in marriage. It isup to you,
my Lord, to give her away and decide which of the men has your blessing for the
marriage. Shall I bring them in to see you, my Lord? If you refuse, thenno one shall be
permitted to marry Chanelle. And I am sure that is not what she wants.
Certainly. Bring them all in, said Tamarth.
A short time later he returned with Chanelle and her two suitors.
This, of course, is Chanelle, said the major domo, one of the maids in the keep,
your grace.
H-hello said Chanelle shyly.
Perhaps you could explain to the Lord exactly in your own words what the problem
is, the major domo prompted her.
Ohalright. UmmJessup, here, has been courting me for some time. Hesa
ranger from the local forests. AndMalvolio is a landowner from over in the Roenal
lands. Malvolio, too, has been courting mealthough I cant say that Im all that
interested
I am a man of affluence, my Lord! immediately protested Malvolio. I can care
very well for Chanelles needs, and she will have nothing to worry about for her future!
The same cannot be said for thisthis lout, Jessup! He is a drunk and a fool! On top of
that, he is a penniless pauper! No doubt he wishes to marry Chanelle only to gain access
to your coin!
What?! How dare you say that! rebutted Jessup. I love Chanelle! Ive loved her
far longer than you! And she doesnt even want you, you slobbering pig!
But I have no need of a dowry from the Lord, here, said Malvolio. In fact, I am
willing to offer him five hundred gold pieces as a gift to show how much I am willing to
take care of our Chanelle.
IIm not marrying her only because of the dowry! replied Jessup. Butbut it
would he started to admit in a lower voice.
It was promised by Lord deArnise to me, my Lord, interrupted Chanelle. II
dont expect you to keep his promisebut I was hoping you would. It would make a
world of difference to Jessup and I!
Hmm. That was his promise, I believeand by tradition it is the correct one,
agreed the major domo. It is up to you, my Lord, whether or not you wish to give a
dowry.

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Theres no need! said Malvolio. He pointed at Jessup accusingly, saying, And,


besides, she would be miserable with that drunkard!
I am not a drunkard, Malvolio! Stop saying that!
Wellyou DO drink quite a lot, Jessup unwisely offered Chanelle.
Chanelle! No, dont say that! What about the Jessup said.
Enough! barked the major domo. Lord Tamarth will decide the issue.
Tamarth considered Malvolio a fool to have come, after the way his lord Roenal had
threatened Tamarth. As for Jessup, Tamarth didnt doubt he would spend any dowry on
drink, as well as making Chanelles unhappy.
I rather think both of them to be entirely unsuitable. You may marry neither of
them, Chanelle.
No! N-no! cried Chanelle is anguish. Why are you doing this to me?! Oooh
What?! Youre just going to deny her the chance to get married?! protested Jessup.
What kind of monster are you?!
Hmph. Obviously you arent a very good ruler, commented Malvolio. Even a
blind man would have seen that I was the best chance she ever had.
Tamarth told himself he had decided based on Chanelles future happiness, it being
only a happy coincidence that his decision also saved himself a dowry and a servant.
Chanelle seemed to him an intelligent girl, and he thought in time she would realize how
lucky she was.
At dusk, he again stood on the castle battlements watching the sun go down, half
hoping Viconia would join him. To his surprise, she did. They both watched the reddened
skyline for a while before she spoke.
Soit must take a very driven man to lead his life always on the road.
I had little choice in the beginning, Viconia.
Perhaps so, but you dealt with Sarevok long ago, didnt you? What impelled you to
continue your travels; no doubt the citizens of Baldurs Gate welcomed you.
Im not ready to settleI still have questions that must be answered. He didnt add
that his welcome became somewhat frayed as people realized he had the same heritage as
Sarevok.
YesYou have a gods restless blood; a wondrous heritage. Chaos fills your life
from one moment to the next, stirred by your potency.
Yes, Ive grown rather fond of it. Few men have my advantages. Truly, his
heritage had brought him power and fame, although little peace or enjoyment.
That is what I like to hear. Such words display your virility and stir my passions. I
suddenly have fond images of a half-gods strong hand stroking my dark skin
If you like, I could make that fantasy of yours come true

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Hah! A lowly jaluk? Touching me? she all but spat. You are but a slurppin wael
and I recoil from your male weakness. Watch how you address your betters in the
future.
Viconia walked away, ignoring his attempted reply. Frustrated, Tamarth soon after
left the walls as well.
When Tamarth returned to Athkatla, he traveled first to the Government District, to
arrange for the transferal of Valygars body to the Cowled Wizard Tolgerias.
Tamarth planned to spend the night at the Copper Coronet, since it was getting late.
As they walked a small boy suddenly came over and ran alongside them, fascinated by
the strangers. He hesitantly reached his hand out to Viconia, almost touching her.
Gosh. I wish my skin was as dark and as beautiful as yours. I could hide
anywhere!
Do you mean to tell me you do not know a drow when you see one? she replied in
surprise. Hah! Think of me, then, as a nymph that has taken a tumble down a dirty
chimney and you shall be happier by far.
As they neared the inn they passed the planar sphere, nestled among the tenements
around it as though it had always been there. A man standing in the street yelled out,
You! Hey you! The Gnome!
Well, in some places that wouldnt narrow things down, much, said Jan. I take it,
however, that you are bellowing at me, good sir.
Yes, you! See this mighty fine sphere, here? You can have it for your very own for
a mere 500 gold pieces! What do you say?
Id say you remind me of my cousin Rintin. Grew the largest turnip one summer,
larger than a house, almost. Welllarger than his house, at any rate. He sold the whole
turnip to six different people. One of them a wizard, if I remember, who thought the
turnip would make a wonderful component for a lich spell. All six of them arrived one
day and poor Rintin couldnt even pull it out of the ground. Went purple from
exhaustionwhich actually disguised him rather well in front of the turnip. They saw
him anyway. Divided poor Rintin up into six portions, they did. Sad story. Unless youre
the turnip.
ErummmYou! You over there! No, not the gnomeyou!
As they neared the Copper Coronet a man ran into the street they were on from a side
alley. He looked around wildly, then seeing Tamarth and the others he yelled out to them.
Help! Youve got to help! Please!
What? What is the matter? asked Tamarth cautiously. His question was implicitly
answered when a woman and two men silently emerged from the alley behind the man.
The fugitive looked around, seeing them almost upon him.
Oh no. Theyre here! Theyve caught me!
Pretty pretty cattle, you cannot run, hissed the female. Ahh, you have found some
helpers to aid in your chase. I wonder if your saviors will prove as useful as you hope.

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Ahh, I know of this one. Tamarth, I believe. You are spared our wrath because of choices
to come. Leave this place, and leave this creature to us. You are allied to neither of us
yet.
Tamarth looked at the first man, who he now realized to be a Shadow Thief. He was
already doomed, since the three vampires could kill him before anyone could intervene.
Tamarth saw no advantage to getting involved.
Then he is yours. I have no stake in your conflict.
The three vampires leaped at the Shadow Thief, bringing him down. Moments later,
the three arose and hurried back into the alley, carrying a body. The Shadow Thieves
were not doing at all well in their guild war.
The next morning a gnome was waiting to talk to Jan. The gnome gladly yelled out
Hey turnip boy! when Jan appeared.
Who darBeeloo? answered Jan.
Who else, dear cousin? I see that youve gathered some formidable friends since
Ive last seen you.
Well theyre not gnomes but theyre not a total loss either. Some of them can get
through an entire battle without my needing to baby-sit them. Quite remarkable for the
non-gnomish. Wheres your elephant?
Back in the circus. Judge didnt think elephants had the right to choose in a custody
battle. Poor Jeffery. Nailed me with a theft charge, too. Just got out of prison.
Legally?
No. They should hire a better locksmith. Listen, Jan, you havent come by the house
for a long time. Weve been looking for you.
Have you? Is something wrong?
Its Lissa. Shes staying with us now.
Did he hurt her?
You should talk to her yourself. I promised to give you the message but I have to
go. Been dodging bounty hunters for days. Farewell, cousin. See you soon.
Farewell, Beeloo. Jan turned to Tamarth. It looks like something serious is afoot.
Ill have to be heading back to my home in the Slums District.
Is it something I could help with? asked Tamarth. He had grown fond of the
gnome and his unlikely stories, and was willing to help him out if it would keep him in
the party.
You are welcome to come with me. I know not what the story will be so Im not
sure if youll actually need to do something.
Perhaps you should tell us who Lissa is and why youre worried about her.
It is not an easy tale for me to tell. This girl, Lissa, that my cousin mentioned is an
old friend of mine. More than a friend I should say. She grew up poor, like me. It was a

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hard life but there was happiness to be found. I loved Lissa like Ive never loved another.
She was the most beautiful girl in Athkatla. I was not the only one to think so, however;
she had several suitors when she came of marrying age. I worried little about it. I was her
closest friend and she claimed to love me.
There are many gnomish families in Athkatla. Life is very different for gnomes so
used to woods and caves of the country. Many of the families struggle with poverty in
exchange for the safety of the city walls and Amnish law. Some families do very well. He
came from one such family. Vaelag is the gnome who runs all business in the gnomish
areas of Athkatla.
By business I assume you mean criminal activities.
Yes. He is a thief who pretends to be an honest merchant. Rumor has it that he
reports directly to the Shadow Thieves. Regardless, he was not a pleasant person. He was
a bully and a cruel man. He enjoyed exercising power. He was also suave, sophisticated,
and very, very rich. I had asked Lissa to marry me and she had agreed. We were to be
married at the midsummers festival the following year. That was before shed met
Vaelag. Like most men, he took a liking to her immediately. He swept her off her feet.
He showered her with gifts and city cultural events.
At the time, my bitterness had me believe that he cast some sort of spell on her. In
retrospect, knowing what I do about magic, she chose him of her own volition. She was
pregnant shortly afterwards and they were married. I would have given her that world,
had I been able. I dont really believe it matters anymore. I just want her to be happy.
Vaelag is a petty and cruel man but she loved him more than she loved me. Theres
nothing else to tell. If youre ready, Id like to get to my home in Athkatla now.
We shall get there as soon as possible.
Jans home was quite close to the Copper Coronet, so the walk would be short. The
party stopped in front of the house while Jan had a few words with Tamarth.
Cernd took the opportunity to talk to a commoner standing nearby.
I dont like livin in the slums, said the commoner. Tis dangerous here for me
wife an me an anyone else, t boot.
You are always welcome to rejoin the peace and harmony of nature, friend, Cernd
replied. It is how we were meant to live, and there is no lack of food or prosperity.
Tell me about your ecstatic religion, shaman, asked Edwin sarcastically. Why do
you harvest mistletoe and bear witness to mother earths bounty?
Cernd returned a serious answer, despite Edwina being the questioner. Perhaps he
hoped to impress the commoner still standing nearby. It began as a craving for
connection, Edwin. The Earth and her cousins, the Sky and The Water, all spoke in
tongues of ancient mystery and lore. It was my calling to unravel the worlds within a
single seed or read the chronicle of a season in the veins of a leaf. She called, and I
answered.
When they entered the house Jan called out, Wee ones, Im home! His
announcement started a small whirlwind of activity.

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Mommy! Jans back! yelled a small boy as he ran forward.


Jan! Didya bring me some candy? asked a small girl close behind.
Calmly, little ones, said Jan. Ive brought you each a Flasher.
I wanna use it right now! Wheres the cat? said the boy.
Its my cat, stupid! I get to flash him, replied the girl, digging him in the ribs.
Those are the twins, of course, Jan said to Tamarth. The girl is Tat, the boy is Tot.
They are my youngest cousins. Glandigs children.
I dont wish to rush your family reunion, but perhaps we should look for Lissa and
find out what this is all about.
I agree. Follow me. I must speak with my mother.
It is good to see you, Jan, said Ma Jansen, who had been a little slower reaching
the group. You dont stop to see your old mother anymore. I have to send your no-good
cousins out to find you.
Im sorry, Ma. The turnip trade is a demanding mistress.
Not so demanding as your own mother, boy. Youve been in trouble, I suppose.
Of course not, Ma. Ive been very good. Why, look at the fine bunch of people Im
travelling with!
Hmph! If you say so.
Whats going on, Ma? Beeloo made it sound quite urgent.
Lissa has been staying with us for awhile. Her daughter, too. We just thought that
you might want to know. She does seem to need your help, with her parents passed on
and all.
Is she all right? Did hedid he hurt her?
Lissas not hurt. Its the little girl. I gave them your old room. The girl is sick and
Lissa is with her. Why dont you go and talk to her. Shes been waiting for you.
Okay, Ma. Ill head upstairs immediately. Tamarth, please come with me.
Jan and Tamarth went upstairs, followed by the other party members.
Oh, Jan! Ive missed you, said Lissa when they reached the next floor. I wish Id
known you were coming today. I would have prepared a meal for you and your
companions. Im an awful mess.
You look fine, Lis. You look beautiful.
I missed you, Jan. You disappeared for a long time after the wedding, and when you
returned I hardly saw you at all. You shouldve come to visit me, Jan.
I couldnt, Lis. I mean, I didnt want to intrude on you and Vaelag. It wasnt my
place to.

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Im sorry, Jan. Ive been terrible to you. Everything has come crashing down on
me. Please forgive me, Jan.
You dont have to apologize, Lis. I would do anything to make you happy. Tell me
what happened. Whats wrong with your daughter?
Shes hurt, Jan. I dont know whats wrong with her. She just lies in bed staring at
the wall. Wont even eat. Please heal her Jan.
When did this start?
It started a few months ago, before it ended with Vaelag. He was always a cruel
father, and hard on Jaella. He beat her if she did anything he didnt like.
Ehhh, there be many things I would do gladly, commented Korgan. Harming
children be not one of them. Her man be a cur and not worthy of the spittle on me boot.
Did this happen after that bastard beat her? asked Jan.
I dont know, Jan. Can you help her?
She isnt physically harmed, Lis. It is her mind that has been injured. My magic can
do nothing for this sort of thing. Have you spoken with Uncle Gerhardt?
Yes but he told me that you could help.
Excuse me, Lis. To Tamarth he said, Could you go to the basement and speak
with my Uncle Gerhardt? Maybe find out what he knows about this illness. Hes a bit
eccentric but he knows more than he lets on. Id guess that we have 10 days before Jaella
will die.
Jan stayed with Lissa while Tamarth and the others went down to the basement of
the small house. Tamarth soon found what Jan had meant by eccentric.
Who in the blazes are ye? said Uncle Gerhardt in annoyance at their appearance.
Small noses, rancid smellhmmbe ye gibberlings?
We are the Gibberlings Three. As merry a band as you ever did see, said Tamarth,
hoping nonsense would provoke a sensible response.
Well Ive nary a sausage to feed ye. Have ye come to devour Athkatla?
Indeed! Its been quite tasty so far, started Tamarth, then decided to switch to
sense, Listen, were not here to devour everything. In fact, wed like to help a little girl
named Jaella.
Aye, shes been hurt. Poor lass, replied Gerhardt, then suddenly yelled,
WHERES THAT CURSED POTION?
Which particular potion did you need? asked Tamarth, hoping he was actually
trying to help.
Not a potion, boorish fool. A sausage. Are you hungry? Methinks Ive got some
sausages under me bed.
Im fine, really, said Tamarth, then tried again to get a sane response. Do you
have any idea what might be causing that little girls illness?

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Yeve come about the girl, eh?


Yes. Do you know anything about her illness?
Tis a hurt of the mind. Only one rich in such powers can heal her.
Where can I find such a person?
The Hidden is the one you seek. Go to Jysstev at her estate in the Government
District. She shall lead you to the Hidden. Now wheres that sausage
As they walked back upstairs Edwin commented in disgust, Obviously the gnomes
family is as insane as he is. The Hidden, is it? Sounds like some poor excuse for a
theatrical title. Let us ignore these morons!
Tamarth wasnt so sure; certainly it was the only guidance they had on how to
proceed.
I see from the look on your face that youve talked to Uncle Gerhardt, said Jan on
their return. I should have better explained the situation. Gerhardt is a well-known and
respected physician and scholar. He had risen above the poverty that plagues this family
so. As you have seen, hes no longer the same. About a decade ago, my Uncle was hired
to treat a rather unsavory fellow, a thief named Ralg. It was fairly obvious that Ralg was
a high-ranking Shadow Thief. He had power and money, two things more than rare in
Athkatla without family connections. Ralg was also daring. There are places in this city
where no sane man treads, places in the bowels of the earth that have the most powerful
drow clerics quaver with fear at the mere mention of their cursed names. Ralg set into
motion the systematic plunder of these places. He was a modern man, not given to the
superstitious fears of the plebian masses.
The story goes that Ralg was found in the old Temple of Bhaal, gibbering and mad
with fear. Uncle Gerhardt, an expert in odd conditions, was called to treat the ravaged
man. As my Uncle had learned through his studies, these afflictions can never be treated
without knowledge of their cause. Since none but Ralg had survived the trip, my Uncle
made the foolish decision to travel to these unholy places, in search of this knowledge.
He left for the graveyard and the places of the profane that are known to lie beneath it. He
was gone for months and we thought him dead. Ralg was shipped off to the asylum that
lies off of Amns coast.
Nearly a year later, Uncle Gerhardt returned a changed man. Something that he had
seen on his travels left him quite unhinged, though hardly the mindless sack of flesh that
Ralg had been. With this change came a strange ability that occasionally shows itself in
Gerhardts verbal ramblings. He has become a prophet of sorts. He predicts events, some
small and some of portent. During the Time of Troubles, his gift was particularly evident.
He seemed to know everything. Hed rage and stumble about the basement screaming of
slaughtered gods and tumultuous magic. But that is in the past. He has examined Jaella
and, especially in his present state, he knows things. He told Lissa to bring me home and
I hope that he has given you some direction as to how we can help this girl.
Well, amongst the ramblings about sausages and chickens, he did have a few things
to say, admitted Tamarth. He said that for one to heal Jaellas mind, one must know
ones own mind. He also mentioned something about seeking the Hidden.

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The Hidden, you say? Lissa mentioned this. It seems that Lady Jysstev knows
something of the man. You can find the Jysstev estate in the Government District. Will
you solve this mystery for me? I must stay with Lissa.
Yes, I will try to find the Hidden and a cure for Jaella.
Thank you friend. Go well. I shall be here when you return.
The party, less Jan, headed for the Government District. Viconia moved to place
herself by Tamarths side as they walked, so she could talk.
I have been thinking, and I think that I may have been exceedingly harsh in my
treatment of you once again.
You treat everyone else like dirt, why should I be any different? answered Tamarth
somewhat bitterly.
Understand, Tamarth, I have not been on the surface for all that long. Sometimes I
forget that things here are different from the world I once knew. I have toyed with your
feelings unfairly, placing you down with the other males I have knownand you have
not been like them. It waswrong of me.
Eating crow again, eh? I could get to like this, replied Tamarth, grinning.
You sting me, but I shall let it pass. I enjoy seeing anger in youit shows promise.
We drow make few apologies for the way we are, and I make no promises. But before I
retch out of pure disgust, let us just continue on our way. Having made her statement,
Viconia slowed her pace, dropping back, effectively ending the conversation.
Tamarth managed to talk his way into the Jysstev mansion once they reached it.
Who might you be and why are you in my estate? asked Lady Jysstev once
Tamarth convinced her butler he had to talk to her.
I only wish to ask you a question, Lady Jysstev, said Tamarth.
What is it? Make it quick, Ive a tea to arrange.
I need to find someone called the Hidden.
The Hidden?? But you are not one of the Enlightened Ones!
Who are the Enlightened Ones?
I should not have said anything. Please! You must go before I get myself into
anymore trouble.
Look, mlady. I already know of him. What harm could it be to tell me where to
find him? Tamarth added it was to help a sick girl, hoping to play on her sympathy.
There is a girl who is ill? I should not say anything.
A girl called Jaella. You can help her be healed by telling me where the Hidden can
be found.
I do not know where he is. Perhaps I can arrange a meeting. Oh he shall be so
angry! Listen, then. Below the cursed hole of avarice called the Copper Coronet, there
lies a maze of sewer shafts. Find the place if you can. The entrance lies within the tavern

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somewhere. I shall ask the Hidden to meet you there but I do not know where he will be
or if he will show up at all. This is all that I can do. Go now before you are seen here!
Tamarth and the others now had to trek back to the slums. As they entered the
Copper Coronet a patron standing by the bar made an appreciative whistle at the new
form Edwin was wearing. He said, AhhhI have not seen you here, before, lovely
creature. How do you do?
WhyIm just fine, you, started Edwin, flattered, before he caught himself.
(aargh! hold your tongue, fool!) Begone, you slithering eel!
Ah, yesthe eel, said the man, not discouraged. I slither about your loveliness
because you draw me to you. Youwith your dark lashes and your come-hither eyes
I said begone! Can you not understand the simplest of common, you lumbering
piece of filth!
Salvanas understands you. He hears your words and he feels your passion. Your fire
ignites my own, my sweetcome to me
My, but you are a flatterer! started Edwin, the spell he had subjected himself to
having affected his mind as well as his body. (Gah!) I meanstop it, get lost! A fireball
in your gullet would dampen your mood, lizard!!
Nothing could keep me away from your exotic gracethose handsthose lips
that throatthat, er, adams apple? Salvanas finished in confusion.
GAAAAAHHHH!! (Pig!) NOW YOU DIE!! Edwin cast a spell, bathing Salvanas
in fire. Such was the nature of the Copper Coronet that no one made any comment on the
sudden demise of one of its patrons, although several of the nearer bystanders stepped
back from Edwin.
Tamarth found an entry to the sewers in the back portion of the inn. After a short
search they found a man who identified himself as the Hidden.
What do you wish of me? asked the Hidden.
Before we get to that, I would like to know a bit about the Enlightened Ones. Who
are you and why all the secrecy? said Tamarth, curious who he was dealing with.
We are something of which you have no right to have knowledge. Some day I shall
find a way to deal with Gerhardts ravings. For now, what do you wish?
How do you know Gerhardt? Is he a part of the Enlightened Ones? Tamarth was
impressed. It would take someone who could read minds to know what had happened at
Jans.
No more stupid questions. You are here to have me cure this girl, Jaella.
Yes, I am.
It was not a question, fool. I do this because you have an aura of usefulness about
you. Do a task for me I shall heal the damage done to the girls mind.
What is the task? answered Tamarth, controlling his anger with difficulty. It was
unfortunate he needed this Hidden to help Jan.

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Good. I am being stalked by two creatures of evil intent. You will destroy these two
for me and you will do it well. Is that clear?
Why are they hunting you?
I said without question. Try to wrap your mind around the concept and listen. This
chase has gone on too long and I grow bored. The two have a contact in the proprietor of
a dingy flop-house in the Docks District called the Seas Bounty. He will not believe that
you have found me without the code words. Tell him that you are a seeker. He will tell
you where the two lie, waiting for word of my whereabouts. Betray me to them and I
assure you, both the girl and yourself shall die before I do. Go now, and return when they
are dead.
Another long walk to the Docks District. Inside the Seas Bounty they found two
strange humanoids. Dressed in unusual armor, with yellowish skin and nearly black
irises. Viconia whispered that they were githyanki, dangerous foes not often seen in
Faerun.
Ho, Seeker, said one githyanki. What information do you have of our prey?
Hold, brother! I sense treachery! rang out a voice, but it seemed to originate within
Tamarths mind, not to have been actually sounded at all.
You dare to betray the Githyanki, manling? said the one who had spoken before.
Taste righteous death and know that your master will be next!
The githyanki were skilled fighters, but outnumbered. The party returned to the
sewers beneath the Copper Coronet when they were defeated.
Well done. The girl is healed. Leave me now, said the Hidden when they found
him.
Wait! Who are you that you should have githyanki on your trail? asked Tamarth in
puzzlement.
Fool! Do you not yet understand? There is your answer. Puzzle through it at your
leisure. If others should come looking for me, you know nothing.
The man before them briefly transformed into a monster, a humanoid as tall as a
human male, but with writhing tentacles in place of a mouth and bulging eyes.
Tell them otherwise and I will kill you. I shall go, said the creature when it
resumed human form. The creature then disappeared.
What is this? One of the illithid? commented Viconia in puzzlement. Perhaps a
spy. Its psionic powers would help the childalthough how the mad gnome knew of its
presence I cannot imagine.
When they returned to the Jan, Lissas husband Vaelag had arrived. Lissas daughter
Jaella was fine.
Ah, Jansen! said Vaelag. Been here all the time while your cronies look for a
cure. She recovered on her own. No thanks to you.
Leave him alone, Vaelag, pleaded Lissa. He was only trying to help me.

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You listen, girl, this is between me and him. Hes been trying to steal you from me
ever since we first met.
Why dont you listen, Vaelag, said Jan angrily. Ill keep it simple so that it wont
leave you furrowing your brow in a vain attempt to understand. Get out of this house now
and I wont gut you like the pig that you are. Was that clear enough?
Youve been away too long, boy, Vaelag said coldly. You dont know whom
youre talking to. Guards! Take him outside.
Both of you stop it! Youre frightening the children, said Lissa as she stepped
between them. Vaelag, please wait outside. Ill thank these people for showing me
hospitality while you were busy.
Very well. Be quick, I cant stand the stench of these slums for much longer.
Dont fret, Jan, said Lissa. Vaelag wants me back.
Why? Did you not leave him because of his cruelty?
He has apologized. He wont be cruel to us again.
He is a beast! He is a criminal and a murderer! Why cant you see that?
You will stop this immediately! I am grateful for what you have done but you must
not overstep your bounds. He is my husband and I love him.
What if he hurts Jaella again?
He wont, Jan! Hes different now. Youre not being fair to him.
Ive only asked about the things that you told me.
That was before and we have spoken about those things. He promised to change. I
am leaving now, Jan.
Go if you must. Im sorry that I couldnt offer more help to you. I fear for her life,
her and the girl.
Youve met Vaelag now, what do you think? Jan asked Tamarth.
It did seem like he was ready to kill you for insulting him. Hes a violent sort who is
used to power and seems to enjoy wielding it.
Ill be honest with you. This issue is of great importance to me. I have contacts in
the city and if I find out that hes hurt her again, Ill hurt him. I should like your support
when the time comes.
If I am able to support you when that time comes, I will.
My thanks, in advance. Let us take to the road, Tamarth. My sword arm needs a bit
of exercise.

Cernds Homecoming
Igarol! Cernd suddenly called out to a passing man in the streets of Athkatla. I
would know your mottled hide anywhere, how are you?

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Ehh, do I know you? said Igarol. No, I dinnae think I really do. Get on.
The years have taken your memory, Igarol, though even the greatest krags are
eroded by the rivers of time. It is Cernd, and once you called me neighbor.
I did not say I did nay remember you. I said that I did not know you, and of that I
am sure. The Cernd I knew was killed years ago, and yer foul apparition took his place.
II dont know why you to say that, but I assure you it is I. Like the hare changes
coats to suit the season, I am different but the same. You must see th
I know what you are. You are a shadow of the Cernd that took a wife and called me
neighbor. You are the pale reflection of the decent man that worked the lands with me.
Now I serve the lands, is that such a change? Surely you see that my greater
duty
Still you do not see! I question not your service to the lands, but do not speak to me
of duty when you are the one who abandoned his wife!
She understood, even if you do not. She saw that my fate was to serve nature; there
was no room for the mundane activities of city living. She understood
Understood what? No, Cernd, how could you ask her to understand something that
you do not? Yes, nature called to you and you went, but no doubt you were afraid to stay.
Just because you say it was your fate does not mean you did it for noble reasons. You
were frightened of the life that lay before you and you left. Simple as that.
Well, you certainly make claim to know much of what happened between me and
Galia alone. I left on good terms, I left in good faith, and I left her well taken care of.
Cernd, you left her with child.
Whwhat? answered Cernd, his flow of words momentarily dammed by shock.
With child, Cernd, you left with your child on the way.
She neverI never heardWhen did she?
Within nine months of your leaving, I would imagine. Not quite as attuned with
nature as you thought, eh? Or did you subconsciously know and left because of it? Im
sorry, Cernd, but you left a large mess behind for other people to fix. If youve come to
clean it up you will find that you are far too late.
At least tell me how she is. She is well, isnt she?
Igarol did not answer, but looked at the dirt covered cobbles of the street.
Speak to me, Igarol! Please.
Very well, but what has happened is not easily undone. Go see for yourself, Cernd.
Go to the house you called home and see what you left behind. Youll find your way
from there, I am sure.
I thank you, Igarol, even though this news is most troubling. I must speak with
Galia and tell hertell her my thoughts.
Yes, well, go to the house. Then you will see.

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I am sorry, Cernd said to Tamarth, it appears we have run into some skeletons of
mine. I am sure this will be straightened out in time, so if we could make haste to my old
home I would appreciate it.
Going to look up the old girlfriend and renew ties? Think shell take you back?
That is not my interest. Long ago Galia and I could have had a life together but
other things called to me and those feelings are in the past. I would not wish her
inconvenience. She is a good woman, and I will do what I can. Perhaps I just wanted
different things. Come, I must find my old home.
Tamarth wasnt certain he needed Cernds talents in the party any longer. He was
also finding his long-winded soliloquies wearing. However, he thought he could spend a
little time on Cernds concerns. Therefore, the party was soon trailing after Cernd as he
sought out his old house in Waukeens Promenade.
I eard they found someone usin foul magic down here, commented a peasant as
they moved through the merchants stalls within the promenade. Arrested im, they did.
Good riddance.
Yes, indeed, said Edwin. Speak once more against those with enough intelligence
to grind you into salt and Ill instill a bit more respect in you, fool.
When they entered the house they found a man living there. From the confused
expression on Cernds face it was obvious he did not recognize the man.
Awright, I be moving, guv, said the man. No need to get yer boots out. Hey, you
aint no city guard. Push off, this here is my squat. Get your own.
I would, my friend, but this IS my home and it is YOU who intrude, said Cernd.
Well, it was my home but the winds of nature did take my sails and I had to follow
the
Leastwise you could tell the truth ifn yer gonna talk, interrupted the squatter. I
knows you aint the owner. He wouldnt show his face hereabandoned his wife, they
say.
Er, yes, well. Im sure he had his reasons, said Cernd, before launching into
another metaphor, Often it is best to obey the duties of your calling and serve the
greater
Maybe you is him. Yous talk like him. He had a load of reasons too, and I mean a
LOAD. Aint no wonder she hooked up with that bastard when ol nature boy left.
She! Where is this she? Where has the lady of the house gone?
Galia? I just knows she took her little un and went looking where she could for
help. Get lost, nature boy. No sympathy from me.
Please, good sir, I must know where she has gone.
Must? Of all the people it is you that SHOULD know, but now you gotta ask the
gutterboy? I say you a sad one. Go ask Fennecia, maybe she pity you too.
Fennecia! She was our serving girl. I was going to ask about her as well.

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I bet you were. Well, shes turned nanny now. Aint but across the street. Dont
think she be sympathetic, tho, havin to take nature boys place.
You neednt continue to chastise. I have learned my humble position and I shall
walk with due care, as a ground squirrel must scurry amidst the feet of
Yammer, yammer, yammer. Save it for someone who cares.
Some coins for you, regardless. Farewell.
Thanks, guv. Ill send it to me kids. I knows where mine are.
Well, that was unpleasant, said Cernd to Tamarth after they left his old home. I
guess I should expect more of the same to come. As the trees are buffeted and snapped in
the face of the gale, I shall be as the bamboo and flex.
Oh shut up, replied Tamarth in disgust, having already listened to quite enough of
Cernds sayings for one day.
Galia didnt like my words either, but they helped show we were not compatible. I
hope our reunion will be smoother. Come, the nanny is across the street.
Fortunately, Fennecia was in when they called at her home.
Ahh, Fennecia, you are as I remember you, said Cernd. You look unsure? It is
Cernd, your former employer. I hope you recall.
I am unsure because you are probably as I remember you as well; a scared little
man that runs out on those that need him most. I have nothing to say to you.
Fennecia? Please, I have come to speak with Galia. Is she here? Our old home is
deserted.
Shes dead, Cernd. You neednt worry about her getting in the way of your duty any
more. Shes dead.
Dead? ButIgarolFennecia, what happened. Tell me.
I said I had nothing to say to you. Get out.
Tamarth interrupted Cernd before he could compare Fennecias attitude to the flinty
rocks of the earth or some such. He suggested that if Cernd were to leave he might be
able to actually learn something. With misgivings, Cernd left to wait outside.
You should choose better company, said Fennecia. That one just aint right.
Running out on a woman like that.
I did not think him capable of such a thing, said Tamarth, hoping that acting
sympathetic would net some information.
Ill tell you what happened to the best of my knowledge, she said, which will
certainly be better than his recollection, I am sure. He left because he was afraid; afraid of
settling down and leaving his blessed nature. Galia went along with their break-up so she
wouldnt hold him back. It doesnt matter, because their deal was broken when she
found out she was pregnant. So Galia took comfort where she coulda local noble
named Deril. Fine man to look at, but cold in the eyes. Treated her baddidnt get any
better when she gave birth. Got worse, to tell th truth. Galiadied a few months ago. I

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aint saying nothing, but it didnt seem natural. No fuss madeDerils got a wallet for
the guard, if you get my drift? Galias sonCernds sonis with Deril now. No doubt
the boy will be an unthinking loutif not from the family line then from example.
And you let this all happen? I thought you were the childs nanny?
What could I do? A blood relation might have some call to take it, but with its
mother dead and its father a coward, who will stand? Me? You? If he wants to make
amends, Derils at his home, the southernmost mansion in the Government District. Too
late, though. Damage was done two years ago.
The party walked to the Government District. They stopped to ask a noblewoman the
directions to Derils estate.
Whos that you got there? Some old rustic from the rural areas? she replied in
disgust. You arent here begging for coin, are you? Its not allowed in this District.
I may be a rustic, good woman, replied Cernd, but if being civilized and city-bred
ingrains manners such as yours into a person, I am likely better off without it.
Cernd having ended any chance of getting a reply from the woman, they asked
another for directions. They learned the estate fronted on the square, on the opposite side
from where they were standing.
A nobleman standing under the shade of one of the trees on the square commented to
his companion as they passed, loudly enough that they could hear.
Ah, a dark elf here in the good districts. I thought the guards would herd you people
off to the slums, along with the halflings and dwarves. Think of the property values!
Perhaps your innards should be ground into the ashes, rivvil, replied Viconia,
stopping to face him, and we shall see how much you worry about your property
values, then.
The noble did not reply, fortunately for his health and wellbeing.
When they entered Derils mansion a golem servitor attempted to force them to
leave. Korgan responded by drawing his weapon and attacking the golem. With the help
of the others the golem was quickly destroyed. The destruction of the golem did not alert
anyone else in the house. When they opened a door and entered another room Deril was
surprised to see them.
Who disturbs? I have guests that will not tolerate interruptions! Deril said. Glut
should have known this!
I disturb! I would have words with you! said Cernd.
You? And who might you be? There is something about your eyes that I recognize.
Who are you?
I am called Cernd, and we have business to discuss.
Well, I know that name, although those that knew you call you several others. By
their description I would have not expected you to ever return.
Well, it is hereerI am here and we have matters that we must discuss!

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I think not. I am done with you and your kin. What is it you think we must speak
of? I am sure I will find your answer amusing.
My wife and her death! My child and his life!
Ah, she is long since gone. If I began ignoring her while she was still here, why
cant you release yourself after years? Best you learn to control yourself. As for the boy,
that must be why I recognize your eyes. He has never known you. What claim have you
to him? Do you even know of his name?
II
No, you do not, do you? No one has told you and you have not been here. What
claim have you?
I am the childs father and rightful guardian!
We can beat this lout, Cernd. Let us stop this chatter and simply kill the bastard!
said Tamarth impatiently.
Deril scowled. It would have been better for you to find a non-violent solution, but
now I have entertainment for my guests. Come to my side, my comrades; enjoy the
spectacle.
Several others entered the room at Derils words. Deril and his friends proved to be
mages of no small power. Tamarth was forced to use his own magical abilities to protect
himself and pierce their defenses, while Korgan alone attempted to harm them with his
weapons.
Deril eventually fell, victim to Korgans axe after his magical shielding was
penetrated by Tamarth. As he fell, one of his companions scornfully said, Well, he is
proven weak and undeserving. I give you your lives for this knowledge. Be gone, the way
is unbarred. Take the mewling whelp with you as well. Sentimental weakling.
Their opponents who were still alive disappeared from the room. They found
Cernds young son nearby.
We have him! said Cernd, picking up the child. Oh, my childI must take him to
a safe place. I will go to the Druid Grove. Perhaps you will meet me there? Once he is
established in their care I might travel again for a time. I shall seeI just realized, I was
never told his name. Iwill name him anew. His mothers middle name, for she is all I
hope he remembers. A fine name. Ahsdale.
Tamarth let Cernd leave without comment. He had no intention of seeing Cernd
again. Korgan, Viconia, Jan and Edwin, not to mention Yoshimo still at the guildhouse,
were adequate support for his plans.
The trekking back and forth across the city had worn away most of the day. As they
searched for an inn nearby a courtesan commented to Edwin, Hmmmever think about
joining the life, my dear? That dress looks simply stunning on yeReally.
That is the nicest automatically began Edwin. He stopped, choking, and said,
Gah! Begone, wench! (Although I always did think this robe fit rather well)

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A woman had approached the party while their attention was on this exchange. She
spoke in a low but penetrating voice.
Hello, friends, might I have a word away from the ears of others? I would impart a
fine bit of business your way.
Would you now? And what might this be? said Tamarth.
Well, truthfully it is not for me to say. At least, not in full measure. My mistress
would have words with you, about concerns you have no doubt developed on your own.
She has watched you for a time, though she is not the only one. Those that you are asked
to trust spy as openly or more so, and she offers a solution to your problems of privacy
among others. She is worthy of your trust. If you feel worthy of hers, come to the
Graveyard District in the near future and she will speak her offer. Make your visit after
the sky is darkened; she will not be there before then.
Such an unseemly place. Why should the meeting be so inaccessible?
Questions, questions; all will be discussed in proper course. Meet where discussed
and you will have your answers. Think on it, but the door is closing soon. Do not delay
too long. Farewell.
They continued looking for an inn. After a walking several blocks a young boy
approached them. Tamarth recognized him as Brus, Gaelans nephew.
I did nay think Id be talkin to you louts again, said Brus, but I do what my uncle
Gaelan says whenever I can. Anyways, Gaelan Bayle wants you to come see him before
you go making any rash decisions. Says he wants to sweeten the deal.
How would he know Ive a decision to make? Am I being followed? asked
Tamarth rhetorically. It was not surprising to him that the Shadow Thieves were keeping
him under observation.
Dont look at me. I just do what Im told. He said to tell you the offer is sweeter, so
here I am. Anyway, just go see Gaelan before you go see he cleared his throat,
momentarily searching for the correct term, your new contact. I only get paid if I get you
to see him, and it wont take long, you know.
They finally did find an inn for the night. After a meal, Edwina was sulking in his
room over his condition, Korgan was getting drunk at the bar and Jan was the center of a
group of patrons telling stories.
This left Tamarth and Viconia sharing a table. Viconia was unusually talkative.
Have I ever told you about how I survived when I first fled to the surface?
No, you havent.
It was difficult, if you can imagine. I knew only a few words of common, and as I
traveled I carefully avoided any contact with the surfacers. The land was strange, and
each day I huddled under the terrible open sky, sure that I would be pulled into the
vastness of it if I but closed my eyes for an instant. Lolth had abandoned me, and I was
alone in a strange world. Those rivvil who saw me hounded me with abandon, and I fled

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to the forests. There I was hunted by the darthiirsurface elvesand their honed hatred
drove me further. I was sure I would perish, never to see the Underdark again.
What happened next?
A group of goln, you call them goblins, tried to seal my fate, but a human merchant
came in his caravan, and his guards scattered them. From a distance he had thought me a
surface elf. Surprisingly, when he learned I was Drow he offered shelter. It was a
sanctuary while I learned the human tongue. He was Calimshite, I believe. They are fond
of slaves. The price for my safety was the favors I bestowederotic arts that the Drow
have honed for an eon. Does it amuse you that I had to run my dark hands along his
sweaty folds and tickle him artfully with my tongue; that he exerted himself wildly as I
passionately bit his shoulder?
I suppose you did what you had to do.
Actually, I rather enjoyed it: he was quickly my pawn, and the caravan went as I
wished. Alas, his heart gave out one nightthe guards thought it murder and chased me
away. Oh, do not look at me in such a manner. Does your manhood wilt from talk of
using drow knowledge of the erotic to survive in your world? Is it so terrible?
Not at all.
Good, I am pleased you have some senseor is it that you wish to partake of the
same pleasures? Is that what I see? She chuckled, and lightly ran her fingers down his
forearm. Perhaps another time, jaluk

Planar Problems
The next day Tamarth went to the Temple District, actually to the sewers beneath
that district. He wished to seek out the location of the bard HaerDalis. Careful searching
eventually revealed a hidden entry to a mages secret laboratory. They defeated several
creatures the mage used as guards, and found the bard as well, working in a storeroom,
although he was in thrall to a spell and useless in his present condition. They then
confronted the mage himself.
What is this? Intruders within Mekraths domain? he said, more annoyed than
angry at their forced entry. What brings you here, foolish manspeak quickly, for I do
not suffer errant fools gladly!
I am here to free HaerDalis, your captive! Give him to me now! replied Tamarth.
Give you the little thief? Now why should I do such a thing, when he has made me
such a perfect little slave, hm?
Thief? What are you talking about? Hes an actor! said Tamarth in surprise.
Although he had thought there was more to Raelis Shais story than she admitted.
Perhaps he is at that, it matters little to me. He stole into my sanctum as a thiefI
captured him and it amuses me to keep him as my slave.
Name your price, then, for his freedom.

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My price, hm? WellI do have a minor matter that needs to be taken care of.
Perform the task and I shall hand the foolish thief over to you. Agreeable?
Very well. What sort of task are you proposing?
An annoying little imp shed his magical collar a week or so ago, leaping about and
causing much havoc. I attempted to capture him, but he was too quick. He escaped and
took a rather important device I was experimenting on. A mirror. Unusable if you do not
know the proper incantations. I would like it back. The imp has likely escaped to the
sewersand your travel there would save me the time and aggravation of retrieving it. A
word of cautionthe imp may have picked up an incantation or two and may have
usedthe mirror. One can only guess what it might have summoned up.
Very wellI shall seek out this item and return.
Run along, then, and return once you have the mirror.
The party returned to the sewers. Luckily, the imp was still nearby. When they found
it, the imp and its summoned helpers were easily defeated. Really, thought Tamarth, the
task had been quite easy, if he ignored the constant complaints from Edwin about the
smell. Unfortunately, the magical mirror had been dropped and shattered in the struggle.
Tamarths plan to keep the item for himself if it proved powerful had to be abandoned.
Wellwhat is it? You have the mirror, I assume?! said the wizard Mekrath when
they returned.
Yes, I do. Here you go, said Tamarth. He was, of course, prepared if the wizard
decided to blame him for this little accident.
Ah, this is the one! said Mekrath. Tchthe moronic beast has cracked it! Pfah! It
shall take weeks to repair. I certainly hope you killed the imp for this indignity! Go and
claim your little thief, then. I left him in the north storeroom, counting rice. Warn him not
to bother me again, or I shall be much harsher. I, for one, will need to gather some
materials to fix this blasted mirror. I trust you will not be bothering me again The
wizard disappeared in a burst of magical energy.
Tamarth hated dealing with those of chaotic alignment, since it was never possible to
predict what they would do. However, Tamarth also believed in taking advantage of
opportunities. Since the wizard had left, he looted the laboratory before freeing
HaerDalis.
Mymy head clears, filled with stars and liquid fire, HaerDalis muzzily said
when they returned to the storeroom, and I see before me the new holders of my
shackles? The wizard has released me, I see, only to pass my reins to another. So Im to
be your prize, am I? A mockingbird to sing your petty praises?
Keep up the sarcasm, actor, said Tamarth, and Ill be sorely tempted to forget my
favor and return you to the wizard as faulty goods.
Haha! I like you, whoever you are. Now what is this favor you speak of and for
whom do you perform it?
Lets just say that your friend, Raelis Shai, is very convincing.

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Ha, so you know her well, thenForgive the harsher tones with which she paints
her present canvas, friend. As the old witchs tale goes, desperate times call for desperate
measuresBut enough of this repartee. If you be with Raelis, then we have work to do.
Will you let me join with you that we might each travel in good company?
A bard to sing my praises? said Tamarth, thinking this was a talent he should have
thought to include before in the party. My dear Haerdalis, how could I refuse?
The proud ones fade from the world like leaves fallen from the tree of life; the
blossoms of their eyes close and vanish like a dream of winds. So wrote Darius Noh, the
greatest dramatist of the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Dust, and you would do well not to
forget itCome now, there is a very special gem hidden in the altar of this wizards lair.
Mekrath took it from me and I must have it back.
The gem HaerDalis spoke of was guarded by several complex traps, but nothing
Tamarth and Jan couldnt handle.
The gem, we have it! cried HaerDalis in joy when Tamarth handed it to him.
Come, my birds, let us to the playhouse fly!
They traveled with the bard to the Bridge District. It was evident that as they walked
someone had told him of Edwinas peculiar condition, because he shared a poem he had
created.
I once knew a Red Mage of Thay
Who dreamed of lichdom some day.
He said he knew how to do it
But he still managed to screw it
up in the funniest way.
Edwin muttered, (Thank the gods he is not a better poet. This is one tale we would
rather not see immortalized in print!)
Outside the Five Flagons inn HaerDalis commented, Ah, the playhouse! Miss
Raelis will be pleased to see the gifts we bring.
Before he could enter a courtesan stopped the bard. Hmmmarent you one of
those actors from the Flagons? How about I give you myspecial actors discount?
We actors are always destitute enough to appreciate a good offer, my dearbut this
one time I am afraid I shall have to pass, alas.
Samuel Thunderburp, owner of the Five Flagons, was pleased to see HaerDalis.
Oho! Well, hello there, stranger. I havent seen you about for quite some time!
A fair greeting to you, as well, my diminutive friend, replied the bard. Aye, I
have been absent for a lengthy periodnot at all according to my own wishes, I assure
you.
Huh. Well, theres been several people comin by to look for you, not to mention
your actor friends were all concerned.
People have been looking for me? Aye?

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Yup, you were missed. Pretty woman just the other dayoh, yes, and a tall fellow
dropped this off for you. Told me to pass his thanks on to you.
A diamond, hm? Well, the berk must have liked it very much, indeed. Thank you,
goodman Thunderburp, you are a giant of courtesy and a gentleman, besides.
Ha! And flattery like that may just get you a free ale. On your way now, you strange
bigun, you.
In the basement the Sigil troupe was now fully represented with the return of their
missing member. Raelis Shai was overjoyed at their appearance.
And the errant actor doth return! Tamarth, I thank you, for you have brought joy to
this dark house. HaerDalis, have you the gem?
We bring it with us, Miss Raelis, said HaerDalis, that we might have all the more
reason to celebrate.
Ah, Mekraths prize! It shall be our salvation yet! Here, Tamarth: 300 gold for the
rescue of my bard and a further 700 for the gem. HaerDalis, tell them the truth of what
we are about while I prepare the summoning of the conduit.
Yes, Miss Raelis. Ahmy ravens, there be a tale between us that is long overdue:
forgive me if I led you to believe that yon gem was just a worthless bauble for the stage.
In truth it be something far more interesting: a planar jewela nexus between the Astral
Plane and the Prime Material Plane, in which we are, currently. Few of you Primes would
sense its presence but Mekrath did and so it was that I fell into his keeping. Luckily, he
had not rid himself of it before your timely rescue.
Tamarth was still trying to catch up with this sudden talk of other planes of
existence. Primes and planar jewels and -- andWhat do you speak of, Haerdalis, for
you have lost me.
Oh my, time is short and here I am to give a lecture on the nature of the
multiverseAs you are well aware, this playhouse in which we stand is property of the
Sigil theatre troupe, which is to say Miss Raelis, myself, and our company of fellow
actors. As our name denotes, we come from the city of Sigil which lies upon another
plane of the multiverse or, more appropriately, upon a hub or node where many of the
planes collideAre you with me?
Positively entranced. Do continue.
Yes, wellTravel between these planes is not the easiest thing, especially into and
out of what we call the Prime Material plane, which the Sword Coast and the whole
world of Faerun is but an infinitesimal partWell, all of this really goes back to a most
unfortunate satirical play which we produced while in Sigil.
What was so unfortunate about it?
A Comedy of Terrors, it was called and the fact that the playwright wished to
remain anonymous should have been sufficient clue. Little did we know that the sordid
tale of lust between two certain planar beings might hold a mirror to the truth. Within
hours the theatre was left in ruins and a price was placed upon our fleeing heads. Twas
only the Lady of Pain, herself, Mistress of all Sigil, who through her unplumbed whimsy

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sent us careening through a portal to emerge where we are now, in this place you know as
Amn.
I never realized acting was so dangerous.
Aye, my questioning hounds, one does not satirize Duke Rowan Darkwood, factol
of the Fated, and expect to live a life of safetyA wretched cambion hunts us as we
speak and has apparently tracked us down to the Prime Material, though he has yet to
make his move. Which brings us back to where this whole tale began, that is to the planar
stone you rescued from damned Mekraths rubble.
Of course, the planar stone and whatever it is that Raelis is summoning.
To travel from between planes, we birds of flight can pass through what are called
young conduits, whipping snake-like tubes that writhe within the Astral Plane, their heads
and tails clinging to different pieces of the multiverse. The planar stone acts like a
charmers pipe upon these conduits, bringing them to us that we might enter and pass
through. Miss Raelis is playing the stone as we speak that our company might slip
through our hunters grasp and find another stage. The play must go on, you know.
HaerDalis, everyone, gather round, said Raelis. The stone is ready to begin the
summoningAs the conduits open they will bring something with them. We will do
what we can to hold off whatever beasts come, the better to determine which route be
safest. Tamarth, your presence here would be appreciated. Will you stay with us?
Tamarth was fascinated, wondering what was about to happen. The thought of
numberless planes, totally unknown worlds to conquer, made him giddy. He would
willingly help Raelis just to get a glimpse of another reality.
We shall hold off these creatures as best as we are able. Tell me when you find the
right tunnel.
Whenever you are ready, Miss Raelis, confirmed HaerDalis.
Raelis played the portal gem, creating an opening to another plane in the archway
of a stage prop. She shifted among possibilities, rapidly opening many entries to as many
different planes. Tamarth was disappointed that little was visible through the shining
energy playing about the arch. Occasionally, a creature would pop through, which they
had to fight.
The arched portal stopped shifting. Raelis gave a cry of frustration, seemingly unable
to focus the portal on a new plane. Suddenly, figures appeared on the stage.
Good day, Raelis, said one, Will you permit me to stop this madness? Thank
you.
Who are you and what business do you have with us? answered Raelis, although
Tamarth noted she had stopped playing with the gem, her arms loose at her side in
resignation.
Oh, just an employee of an old acquaintance of yours in Sigil. Dukewhat was his
name? Darkwood? Yes, Duke Darkwood, that was it, wasnt itYou really oughtnt
have done that play, you know

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We were set up. We performed it under the assumption that it was fiction. The
playwright never told us otherwise.
Ah yes, the infamous anonymous playwright. Now who was he, anyway, we never
did learn.
Neither did wehe wore a mask and met with us in the alleyways. It doesnt
matterCome, my bards. It appears tis time to make our reckoning.
What of these others? Who are you elf? Surely Raelis did not hire you in the hope
that you would save her?
If you want these people you will have to get through me, replied Tamarth, not
happy at the prospect of his access to planar travel being snatched away.
Fool! I dont need to involve you. Already I have the souls of these ones attuned.
Let it begin!
The bounty hunters disappeared, along with the Sigil troupe.
However, the portal in the archway was still active. Tamarth thought it might lead to
where the bounty hunters had taken their captives. After all, why else had it stopped
unless they had detected Raelis meddling and forced her gem to focus on their location?
Still, this was magic about which Tamarth knew nothing. The portal might lead to a
world where he could not breath, or even to some non-place between planes, where he
might drift forever.
The portal beckoned, softly limned in a gentle glow from the energies which
supported it. Coming to a decision, Tamarth entered.
He found himself elsewhere, in a curving room with no straight line in walls or
ceiling. The other members of the party were present, along with a few loose props from
the stage; evidently his entry into the portal had triggered the transferal of anything
nearby.
They were not alone. The bounty hunters were present as well. Tamarth had found
the transition disorienting; he would need a few moments before he could act.
Listen, you little maggot! one of the bounty hunters was saying to a dwarf dressed
in rags. I want to know how you got your collar off, right nowor youll find there are
far worse things than being a slave!
N-no! No! said the slave. I dont care what you say! I w-wont be a slave any
more!
Well, if thats the way you
Trael! Hold! cried another. Others have come through the portal!
What? Others? Ahthe primes, said Trael. How foolish of you to have followed
your actor friends here. Vonith, close the portal, please.
Tamarth looked behind himself. The portal through which they had passed was no
longer visible. The party was trapped.
Do you have any idea at all where you are, primes? asked Trael.

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Ill remember to ask you when youre bleeding and at the point of my sword, fool!
Tamarth concentrated on drawing the rage inherent in his Bhaal heritage, since he would
need every advantage he possessed to escape from this trap.
Hah! Witless and full of bravado, as well. Youve experience in your bearing, of
that I have no doubtbut if you think your arrival will help your friends, you are quite
wrong. No matter. I expect youll bring a grand price from the cambion as new thralls.
Hunterstake him!
The others had shaken off the effects of the dimensional travel, and joined Tamarth
in combat against the bounty hunters. In numbers the two groups were closely matched,
but the party triumphed, aided by more experience and better magic.
II thank you, my Lord, for your timely rescue, said the dwarven slave after the
combat was over. I am afraid I did not give much thought as to what I would do after I
removed my collar. It was foolish of me, I suppose, but I would rather be dead than
remain enslaved to the cambion forever. There has to be a way out of here somewhere!
Do you know where I can find HaerDalis and his troupe? asked Tamarth. He was
anxious to get moving before more guards appeared, and it was vital that he find the bard
and the others so that their knowledge could aid his escape from this trap.
You are friends of the actors? Ahhhthen you may as well begin mourning them,
my Lord. They are in the wardens cells, awaiting transport to Duke Rowans tower, I am
told. The warden is directly north of here, through the hallwaybut I would advise
against going down that path. You will see on the floor markings that the taanari have
left with their magicportals that transport you to the other rooms of this prison. The
ones in the hallway to the north you cannot avoid, and they bring you to the barracks
where the warden keeps his personal soldiers and thralls. Tis a most dangerous path to
take. There is another way to reach the wardena safer way, perhaps, that may serve
your purpose and perhaps mine, as well. Might I tell you of it?
Very well, Im listening, said Tamarth impatiently.
The warden is powerful by himself, true, but he is also protected by the many thralls
under his control through the collars they wear. The passage to the east leads to the
chambers of the Master of Thrallsa lesser taanari who holds a device that I know
allows him to control the collars. Destroy that device and the thralls are freed. The
warden is vulnerableand I will be able to contact my newly freed friends. Some of
them are mages who will teleport us away. As well, the portals on the floors to the east
may be avoidedthey lead only to other cells, I understand, and are full of naught but
violent and dangerous creatures. II would not offer this chance, my Lord, if I did not
think you might have a chance against the warden, himself. I can think of no other way
for either of us to escape this place, truly.
Why do I not simply free your thralls and have them teleport us away? Why must I
fight the warden?
There are many old and powerful magics in this prison, my Lord. We might get
away briefly, but the prisons magic would track usand the warden would send
powerful hunters very quickly. But the prisons magic dies with the warden. It is the only
way.

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Im not about to trust the word of a desperate slave. You could be setting me up for
a trap.
Then all hope is lost. II hope you find some way out, my Lord, I truly do.
Tamarth examined the bodies of those they had killed, hoping to find a device which
would allow them to create a portal. When his search turned up nothing he was forced to
follow the plan of the slave.
His familiar, the mephit, during the break had taken the opportunity to get out of his
pack and stretch its wings. It looked around a few moments before turning to Tamarth. I
got advice. Get your tail outta here, or hadnt you figured that out? Sheesh, yer dumb.
Tamarth grabbed it by the scruff of its neck and thrust it back into his pack.
The party left the room. They followed the passage they were in for a short distance
before it opened into a larger room. Inside was a wyvern and some collared slaves.
Hmmmnvermin, I see, opined the wyvern. Come, my pretty thralls. These are
no escaped prisonersthese are invaders! We must destroy them for my master!
This was the first talking wyvern Tamarth had encountered, and he was sorry he
could not capture it to sell to a menagerie. After killing their opponents, they passed from
this chamber into an adjoining one, where they found the Master of Thralls, a demon.
You! boomed the Master of Thralls upon their entry. You are the ones who have
brought such disruption to this prison and my thralls, eh? Well, this will be the end of
that!
Another tough combat saw the defeat of the demon. With the device they took from
its body they were able to deactivate the collars of the slaves, as well as the internal
portals of the prison.
When they entered the control chamber of the warden the servants of the warden
were engaged in battle with the newly freed slaves. The warden itself, a powerful
cambion, ignored the fighting to address the newcomers.
Ahyou are the pitiful group of fools from the prime material plane, I see. Well,
you will disturb my prison no further. No one escapes this placeno one.
With the help of the freed slaves they were able to defeat the cambion and its
servants. As the fighting ended the slave they had spoken to initially staggered into the
chamber.
Youyou have defeated the Warden and freed us all. I wish I had some better way
to thank you, my Lord, but I have little doubt you will find a way home on your own.
Pleaseaccept my most heart-felt thanks. The thralls who were once imprisoned here
shall always remember you.
Another passage off the control chamber led to the cell where the Sigil troupe was
being held.
You have known us for so short a time yet you have bought our freedom with
blood, said Raelis Shai when they freed her. My child, my friend, it is a debt I can

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never repayBut we must go before the Duke marshals his forces. I will use what
powers I have remaining to open another conduit. Are you ready HaerDalis?
Miss Raelis, HaerDalis replied, I -- I cannot come with you. Not this time.
No? No more plays, HaerDalis? No more theatre?
I wish I could, Raelis, but I am just another moth come too close to your flame. To
love you is to smother that flame in my own death. I shall not do it.
Dont be a fool, HaerDalis. There was no mystery writer of our play! I wrote A
Comedy of Terrors, it was mine! I brought all of this upon us!
I know, Miss Raelis. Youll have my heart forever, but I must do as I must. Perhaps
Tamarth will let me travel with him for a time, but the Prime beckons this sparrow,
regardless.
Then go, my lovely HaerDalisremember us fondly in your musings. And you,
Tamarth, go with my thanks and take yon lovely moth with you.
Raelis Shai manipulated the dimensions, returning HaerDalis, Tamarth and the
others of the party to Faerun. The Sigil troupe departed to an unknown destination.
They found themselves back on the stage in the basement of the Five Flagons.
HaerDalis, already exiled from Sigil, now voluntarily exiled from his companions,
regarded Tamarth.
So, my raventhe Prime is a playground for us both. Shall we journey together to
marvel at its glories?
I would be pleased to have you join me, HaerDalis, said Tamarth.
Wonderful! I have heard a little of your questyou hold a power in your soul, my
raven, that would fascinate any Doomguard.
Alrightlets go, HaerDalis.
As they headed for one end of the Bridge District Viconia said, HaerDalis, I blame
you for this damnably hummable song playing again and again in my head, over and
over. You are really quite a marvelous tunesmith, not to mention a clever mimic and
talented mime. Have you any new and lewd burlesque tunes that you might regale me
with, musician?
Viconia, do you truly think that because you are bewitching in appearance and have
the throaty voice of the most expensive courtesan in King Wingdings House of Earthly
delightsand a body built for untold pleasures that I would fall for such an old ploy?
Blow a little sunshine and I will fall all over myself to gain your favor? Best think again,
dark one.
Men better than you have walked across lava to kiss a dog whos licked my hand,
actor. Youre a dreamer, bard. Im sure you can imagine lots of wonderful scenesbut
they would not exceed the truth in intensity, depravity or tenure, I assure you.
Aherpardon me for a moment whilst my head implodes.

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Tamarth was furious, sure that Viconia had staged this little scene to make him
jealous. Fortunately, HaerDalis had not learned his lines. Tamarth was especially upset
because Viconia was on target; if HaerDalis had shown any interest he would have
dropped him from the party without hesitation.
As they neared the edge of the district a woman called out, I see you there, gnome!
You and your ilk are nothing but drunken garbage, keepin me husband away all hours of
the night with yer tales! Begone!
I dont even know your husband, maam, said Jan. Or do I? Was he that short
fellow who bought the case of turnip beer from me about two weeks back? If thats the
case, then youll find him two blocks west singing Fair Evermeet in a poor baritone and
falling down constantlybut you didnt hear that from me.
Tamarth thought it was time to rest, but he preferred an inn where everyone did not
know HaerDalis. He also wished to check on his guild in the Docks District.
The guild was fine. Since Tamarth had left Yoshimo there as his representative no
problems that required his attention had come up. After checking in at the guild Tamarth
led the party to the nearby Seas Bounty Inn. In the common room was a man Tamarth
recognized, who he previously had encountered looking for Edwin. He was obviously
waiting for them.
Greetings again, friends of Edwin, said the man. The guise as a woman reeks of
shabby amateur glamers. The fix is in, Edwin. Your time here is done.
What? Ive no idea of what you are talking about, replied Edwin, muttering
(What is this fool babbling to me for?)
In your own inimitable fashion, Edwin, you are prodigiousat lying. Certainly not
at magic or spinning wholly credible yarns.
ErI am no Edwin, as you claim. I know him not. He sounds like a worthy mage
of distinction, and I am probably weaker having not made his acquaintance. My name
isCelisa of Waterdeep. Yes, daughter ofKurKurdall AlAleKurdall
Aleconnor, a wealthy mead-maker and owner of a chain of festhalls. No Edwin in our
midst Im most sorry to say. Only Celisa Aleconnor. Youd best be off to capture this
Edwin. He sounds like a formidable foe.
Not taken in by a performance worthy of Biff the understudy, the man said, Gods!
This fictional world you live in must be a glorious place, Edwin. But in our world, Im
going to reveal your true nature with this dweomer.
He cast a spell. Edwins beard reappeared, his upper chest diminished to more
manageable proportions.
Cured! Cured of my wretched condition! crowed Edwin. Degardan, I owe you my
health, wealth and well-being. I am reborn. My metamorphosis was troubling but now I
am restored. Now it is time for proper payment of the witnesses to my shame. Now its
time for you to die.
Edwin, youve always been a verbose charlatan. Your maudlin skills barely
manifest a lowly cantrip, never mind magics to shake the earth.

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Once you might have been a daunting foe, but no longer. I am more than able to
deal with the likes of you!
Tempted as Tamarth was to let Edwin face him alone, he still needed Edwin, and led
the others in his support. Degardan was killed, along with an innocent bystander. Severe
damage was done to some of the inns furnishings as well.
Hah! And he thought himself a capable spellcaster! said Edwin. Perhaps those
fools will think twice, now, before they send another of their goons to bellow hollow
threats!
So what, exactly, did you do to anger the Thayans? asked Tamarth, wondering at
the overconfidence of Degardan in taking on all of them. Perhaps this tended to explain
the lack of success of the Red Wizards more ambitious designs.
Hmph. Lets just say that not every colleague is pleased with my disposition and I
have been on anextended leave from my compatriots in Thay. Not that its any of your
business! Being saddled with the company of monkeys should be enough self-
punishment for anyone! But enough! Let us away!
The owner of the inn took the death of a patron in stride, and was not foolish enough
to demand compensation from such a heavily armed party. Tamarth made sure to leave a
sizeable sum of gold anyway, since he might need the innkeeps good will in the future.
Desiring to spend the night in a less heavily damaged inn, he returned to the Copper
Coronet in the slums. Once again, while the other members of the party were elsewhere
following their own pursuits, Tamarth and Viconia shared a table.
Tell me, asked Viconia, has there ever been anyone special to you? A thief of
your heart?
I dont know. Not so far there hasnt been, replied Tamarth.
Never a special one who awaited her heros return? The idea has value. I myself
hope to retire to a home that doesnt change by the day.
I said that there was nobody and I meant it.
No? Is it not possible then? Could she exist: a woman who makes your pulse
quicken by her closenesswho enflames you by a mere glance?
I think the answer to that question is playing itself out as we speak, said Tamarth
suggestively.
You think so? I cannot wait for the final act of this play, thenI am sure it will be
worth waiting for.
When the heart beats true, its song is a delight to hear.
Your heart is heavy with lust and burning desire, and beats proudly and strongly
but shall it be mine or is it anothers?
It is yours, certainly, Viconia. But do be gentle with it. Tamarth had found he had
mixed passions when it came to Viconia. At times, he desired nothing so much as to
roughly possess her, in a coupling which would be as much battle as anything. At other

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times, he tenderly regarded her, and had no higher ambition than to trace the line of her
jaw with his hand.
Lets continue holding your heart and testing its mettle, but with a measure of
restraint then.
I have little interest in restraint, only bold and forthright action matters in times
such as these.
There is all manner of mad and chaotic trouble that such unbridled enthusiasm
could get us into, Tamarth.
You are steering this conversation into dangerous territory, Viconiaexactly what
do you intend?
Id be curious to see you navigate truly dangerous territory with your
impulsiveness, Tamarth. It would be an enthralling journey, dont you think?
Despite her insinuations, Viconia immediately switched the topic of conversation to
an inconsequential incident that happened during the day. They spent the rest of their
conversation that night on innocuous topics.

Unseeing Eye
Tamarth, along with Viconia, Jan, HaerDalis, Korgan, and Edwin, returned to the
sewers beneath the Temple District the next day. He was interested in following up on the
Unseeing Eye cult. He was sure he would find profit in the quest somewhere.
Well, there goes a wizard with a body in tow, suddenly said Jan, gazing off down
an intersecting sewer tunnel. Those who followed his gaze saw nothing. Having provided
his own excuse, Jan launched into a story.
Not the sort of thing you see every day unless you happen to be living with a
necromancer. I did, once, when I was working for Golodon. He used to come into the
tower every second day with a body over his shoulder. I would look at him all suspicious-
like and ask him where he found it, and he would just shrug and say vaguely, oh
around. It took me a while, but eventually I decided Golodon wasnt being entirely
above-board with me on the body issue. Since then, Ive never trusted a wizard with more
arms and legs than he was born withunless hes been polymorphed, of course, but even
then its usually wisest to keep your distance.
The party continued to search the tunnels, finding little of interest until they
stumbled across a knight.
Halt and go no further laymen! said the knight. There be a grave evil here, the
source of which I have yet to find. Please, forgive the harshness of my tone, but state
your business in this place.
If there be an evil here, old man, replied Tamarth, I assure you that we are quite
well equipped for it.
And with an attitude like that, youll never reach my age at all, friendI am
Keldorn, servant of the Most Noble Order of the Radiant Heart. I have been sent here to

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root out an evil that has preyed twice on my brothers in faith. Now surely you must
understand that I cannot let you pass without an answer to my questions. What is your
business here?
Tamarth realized this was the paladin he had been told was also looking into the
Unseeing Eye. He had no intention of working with him, and didnt care for his tone in
any case.
I dont jump for paladins, so move aside. Well not disturb your precious quest.
Something has been preying on the priests and knights of my Order, friend, so I fear
I cannot let you pass. If you wish to fight, then draw what steel you wish. If not, then I
shall do my best to make your death as painless as possible. Come, let us finish this
unhappy task and be done with it.
If Keldorn wanted battle at six to one odds Tamarth wasnt about to deny it to him.
They left Keldorns body lying with the other muck clogging the sewer tunnels, and
continued their search. They eventually found a hidden way into more tunnels, which
housed the location of the cult for which they searched.
Hold, you tread on sacred ground! a man challenged them when they reached the
cults location. Only those who serve the Unseeing Eye may enter. I am Gaal, High
Priest of the One God.
I wish to know more. How does one serve your Unseeing Eye? asked Tamarth.
The One God has demanded that his disciples achieve a higher state of wisdom
you must remove that which is limiting and offensive. The unholy eyes are removed from
your head during the sacred initiation. If you survive and are proven faithful, the
Unseeing Eye accepts you into service.
And if you dont survive?
Sadly, there are those who lack the stamina to serve the One Godtheir lack of
faith betrays them. The bodies of these unfortunates are offered to the Pit of the
Faithless.
Tell me about this Unseeing Eye of yours, then. Who is he?
The Unseeing Eye has brought us enlightenment. Only by removing our eyes can
we remove the veil of lies and deceit clouding our lives. He is the most ancient and wise
of the race you might know as beholders. We servants have flocked to him gladly, and
his mighty power protects us. You would be wise to serve him as we do.
Ahan eye tyrant, commented Viconia. We have great cities of beholders in the
Underdarkthey are intelligent creatures who make formidable foes. The Drow do not
contest them unless necessary. I have heard that some few make their way to the surface
to dominate the lesser races, as this one must have. What power it could possess without
its eyes, however, I do not know.
Without his eyes, the One God is stronger, not weaker, answered Gaal. He has
made mountains tremble and easily destroyed those fools who have come seeking his
destruction. Only those who serve Him are safe always.

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Alrightso how does one become a servant.


The One God has demanded that his disciples achieve a higher state of wisdom
you must remove that which is limiting and offensive. The unholy eyes are removed from
your head during the sacred initiation. If you survive and are proven faithful, the
Unseeing Eye accepts you into service.
What if Im not interested in having my eyes removed?
Hmmmn. It is a sign of weakness to refuse the enlightenment. Would you walk
about willingly without arms, without feet? I do not think so. Still, the Unseeing Eye
could use the skills of one such as yourself. An exceptioncould, perhaps, be made in
your case. There issomething that you could do that the great one cannot, despite His
vast power. Assist in that and I will admit you into our ranks and into the Unseeing Ones
presence, yes?
Tell me what it is and Ill consider it.
These holy grounds are part of a larger, ancient structuredangerous if one
ventures into the lower levels. The Unseeing Eye knows of a valuable item in this area. If
you were to venture below you could prove your worth by retrieving this artifact for Him.
Do this and I will allow you into our ranks and the Ones divine presence.
What is this item you speak ofand where would I locate it?
The item is a rodor part of a rod, rather, that you will find atop a holy altar. I
cannot tell you more than that. You must let your faith guide you.
And how would I get to these lower levels?
I have a key I can give youthis will allow you entrance to the inner chambers
through a door a short distance back the way you came, at the sewer passages.
Very well, I shall do as you suggest.
You are worthy in my eyes, faithful one. Here is the key. Once you have the rod,
bring it to me and together we shall present it to the Unseeing Eye.
So why cant the nasty beholder go and get this rod on his own? Jan said after they
left. Ill tell you why. Its likely trapped three ways from Sunday, thats what. Good
thing youve got me along, Tamarth. Smart thinking on your part. Youll go far, you
know. Farther, maybe, than cousin Bifflechipsalthough he was flung by a catapult, so I
suppose it doesnt really count.
The key opened a nearby door in the tunnels. Once through the door, they followed a
narrow passage a short distance to a larger chamber. A man, without eyes, was standing
there as if awaiting them.
Ahbe wary, my friends! called the man loudly. Someone has come before us, I
can sense it!
More of you with no eyes! Are you followers of the Unseeing Eye, then?
No, my Lord, we are not. Or perhaps it is more correct to say that we are
worshippers no longer. What brings you to this place?

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Tamarth noticed that, unlike Gaal, the mans lack of eyes seemed to have actually
made him blind. First tell me what you mean when you say you are no longer
worshippers?
My name is Sassar. I was once the One Gods high priest. When I discovered the
true depth of his evil I escaped and met up with others who had left the cult. We tried to
stop the beholder, but we have lost the senses he gifted to us for taking our eyes. We are
truly blind, stumbling in our efforts to stop this evil!
Just how were you planning on stopping the beholder?
When I was the high priest for the Unseeing Eye, I discovered that its purpose for
coming here was to gain the powerful artifact below. It is an item of such destructive
power that the gods themselves determined it should not be used again. It was split in two
and this half was secreted here. It is protected against intrusion by powerful magic and
beasts that live in the caverns. Many of the beholders followers have perished trying to
retrieve it. I know, my Lord, that the beholder has the other half of the rod! If he were to
acquire this half, he would be capable of wreaking terrible destruction!
What have you done here if you cant stop the beholder from trying to get the rod?
asked Tamarth, interested to learn more about this magical device.
We tried to get the second half of the rod ourselves, to use its destructive power to
defeat the beholder. That is the only way to destroy the creature. The beholder has failed
to acquire the rod because the gods have cursed the item. This lets you determine the
artifacts true worthor threat. Would youwould you be willing to go below and
retrieve the artifact, my Lord?
Can this half of the rod work without the other half?
No, that is true. The beholders half must be stolen for the power to be used. I know
of a way to do this. Retrieve the first half and I shall tell you of it.
Very wellI shall return as soon as I am able.
I am most grateful, my Lord. We have tried, but our blindness limits us. This
chamber we are in is safe. And I do wish my brethren and I to remain safe, here. Oh, I
pray that my god will someday forgive my great trespass and restore my sight! Be careful
in the levels below, and remember that the gods will likely not allow one to take the
artifact for themselves for long. Remember that! Godspeed!
Tamarth was sure the Unseeing Eye was actually here in Athkatla solely to gain
this artifact. That indicated the artifact might be powerful enough Tamarth could use it
when he next confronted Irenicus.
The first guardian of their path appeared in front of a chasm which blocked their
way. The wraith-like guardian required the answers to its questions before they could
pass. Tamarth recognized the answers were similar to those he had found among
established religions, who clothed their simple truths in obscuring metaphor. Tamarth
deduced the answers demanded, allowing them to continue on their way.

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Tamarth found what should have been more guardians in front of a decayed,
forgotten temple. They appeared to be human, but all, young and old, were afflicted with
a severe wasting disease. The guardians took no interest in the appearance of strangers.
Tamarth questioned one, but got in reply only Soon to sleep and wake. No sooner
dead than born. Stay here too long and you may find yourself strapped to the wheel of
fortune too.
Away with you, shadows, responded another. We are in darkness already.
What do you mean by that? I am no shadow, responded Tamarth.
No, perhaps not, but we are in darkness. The light of the sun did shine, but it has
gone away, and we curse the night. Leave us be, you can do nothing.
Why do you choose to remain here?
It has been a long time since I have chosen to do anything. Even escaping into death
is beyond us. You can choose, so choose to go. I do not wish you here to mock us with
your freedom.
I will go where I wish. Are you going to stop me?
It is my duty to do so, but duty has failed me so now I fail it. No, I will not stop
you, but neither can you do anything to me. Leave.
What is this disease that you are afflicted with?
Some think it is the withering of our souls, others hope it is a punishment, because
that would mean someone is interested in our fates. We do our duty, and we remain ill.
That is all that matters.
Tamarth moved to question an older man, standing in front of the temple.
What is this place? Speak, or suffer my wrath!
Oooh, yes, very threatening. I suppose you are expecting the appropriate response.
All right then. Oh my, please spare us. Your descent into our city makes us oh so fearful.
Im sure it would make you feel important, but Ive simply no interest in you. I think
youll find we care about very little at all.
Then tell me who you are. Just tell me what this place is.
Ah, you wish the exposition. Typical. I should really write this down so I dont
have to keep repeating it. Not that we have had a lot of visitors. We are the guardians. We
guard the temple. This is very important because every few hundred years someone
almost wanders this way. We have forgotten what it is that we guard, we have forgotten
how many generations we have been here, and we have forgotten what it is to have a
purpose.
What is this affliction you all have? You look to be suffering from a disease.
It is the decay of our minds and souls. We grow to hate the power that sustains us,
so it rots us from the inside. There is no cure. There is no escape. There is no end.
And the temple? Who is it dedicated to?

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The temple? It has been so long since we have uttered the gods name it has been
forgotten by most. What loyalty do we owe a creature that would condemn us to this?
Then why do you stay?
We cannot leave. We cannot even die. We are born again in an endless recycling of
our souls. We learn over and over again that we are condemned to a fate we no longer
want.
If you are too weak to free yourselves I suppose I should try to.
Do what you will; there is no escape for us. We have accepted this. We teach it to
the newly young, who then teach it to the old that die and are reborn. The deal which
placed us here has been followed to the letter, and we are never to be released from
service no matter how pointless the task. You will fail. You cannot help but fail. We
know this. We expect nothing other.
You worship suffering like a martyr of Ilmater, but you lack pride or purpose.
I do not know this name you speak of, but even the name of our own god is lost, so
it is not surprising. We direct nothing but loathing to the temple now. Take what you will.
We are guardians in name only. We might as well be simple mindless skeletons.
Tamarth spoke to a diseased child, who complained, Leave me alone. You just
leave and go.
How old are you, child?
Doesnt matter. Ill be old and then young a dozen more times. Go away.
He questioned another child.
You wanna see what we made? You go into the temple and see what we made. We
cant because its ours. We forget. You can see it, but cannot fight it.
What are you talking about, child?
You will see. I cannot see, but thats because its mine. You will see. Cannot fight
it.
What can I not fight? What do you speak of?
Send our thoughts to the temple, we do. Thoughts of wounded faith. Can you fight a
wound in faith? Go away. My fun is done years ago.
When he asked the childs age, the response was, I am 9 years in this life. They say
my soul is the oldest of us. I am tired.
They entered the temple. A nine foot tall demonic figure confronted them. It cried
out, Hate is here! Here is hate! Attack with anger and feed the hate! The hate!
Tamarth gathered his own anger, determined to defeat this undefeatable creature.
He attacked, flanked by Korgan. The wounds inflicted by his sword closed as soon as
they were made. Spells cast by Edwin, Jan and HaerDalis similarly had little effect.
HateSufferingI feed on thesethey harm me notI feed! roared the creature
as they fruitlessly attacked.

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Viconia, who had listened to the child outside with more understanding, approached
it from the rear. She used healing magic on the creature; with a final cry, it vanished.
Another form appeared, a specter only barely visible, in front of the temples altar.
Tamarth had the feeling the figure, if it had fully formed, would be too bright to look
upon.
Whoooooo walks in the temple of I? said the figure. Speak of yourself, you are
almost beyond the sight of I.
Tamarth walks here, and I have disposed of your little guardian, replied Tamarth
boldly.
The beast is not of I. The beast kills the form of I repeatedly. You have slain it for
but a small time. It comes again and again. The beast is a fell deity, for it has more power
than I can muster. My legion of followers feed the creature, and I am weakened and
fading. Such power the beast has.
If this is your temple then you have no legion. Your followers do not follow you.
But they must serve; it is the letter of the agreement. They were to guard and I
would provide for their lives. This was to be for all time.
There must be an end. It has been so long they do not even recall your name.
Then it is little wonder I cannot defeat the beast. It is their loathing and pathos, and
it has become their object of worship, whether they know it or not. The time has passed. I
have naught here, and will not again. Even the great device has waned in power, and is
not so epic a danger as once I thought.
A pathetic existence for a god, indeed, said Viconia. Not forgotten enough to
finally die. Perhaps one day such a fate will await dark Lolthone can only hope.
I weep for my children, said the avatar of a forgotten god. Their hate sustains this
place, though they would intend otherwise. Had they not thought of me at all I would
have perished, and soon after so would they.
Is that the end you envision? asked Tamarth. Death to all that follow you?
Death would be welcome to them. Not the death they have now, wherein the spirit
is still bound to earth, but true death, where they would join me in the Keep of the Eternal
Sun. The letter of the bargain was that I protect the great device until the end of time. The
creator races were very specific. I will reinterpret the words, for it is surely the end of
MY time. The intent of the bargain was that the great device would not be used again. If
it is indeed the end of time, then my last act should be to destroy it. I have not the power
to do so.
Then your people will continue to suffer?
No, I will not have it. I must end this in such a fashion as to satisfy duty. You, open
your mind. Perhaps you have knowledge of use. Yes, I see in your mind the way to
release this place. You seek the great device for another, though you owe them no
allegiance and they intend to kill you.

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The cause is simple. You will take the great device, the piece that I possess, and you
shall combine it with the piece the creature already has. The assembled rod would surely
destroy the beast. You must use the item upon the beast, and then return it to me. Use it
but once, or you will perish under its power. Tell my people you carry the piece so that
you might deplete it; that you go to restore its components and dispose of it as a whole.
My people must know I intend to destroy itbut more, they must know I intend to end
their service. This simple act of bringing together the two parts of the rod will instill a
small amount of faith, for an instant. If they are in my presence, such an instant will allow
me to destroy the artifact.
What do I get out of this?
The destruction of a beast that is using you. I know not if you know its nature, but
you will stand little chance against the thing without the great device. No, you must do
this for me. It is in your best interest. Use the item once with my blessing to ward you
against harm. Return as though at my bidding and you will free my people. Do this.
Just give me the device. I promise nothing.
You need not promise anything. This device will profit you only so long as you use
it as directed. You could study it for years, but you would be as likely to get yourself
killed as not. In time, another creature such as myself will realize the danger. No, you
will gain only if you do as you should. Here is the device. Go, and speak with the
people.
A rod, the end broken off, appeared in Tamarths hand. Simultaneously, the avatar
winked out.
So we have come all this way only to find that this item is practically USELESS?!
cried Edwin in disbelief. Bah! The devices effect on the beholder had better be worth
it!
Well. Thats all very interesting, said Jan. Much more so than the last time I met a
god.
HaerDalis added, Aye, I have been fortunate to see the odd deity in my time on the
planes. At least those times that they chose to travel openly, that is. What manner of
encounter do you speak of?
It was Oghma, the god of knowledge, said Jan. Although I cant say I really met
him, I suppose, as he was drunk and fast asleep in cousin Roffers back lawn. Or perhaps
I should say ON cousin Roffers back lawnhe was a giant of an avatar, sprawled out
and snoring. I wonder how you get a god drunk?
I truly doubt that happened, Jan, Tamarth added to the conversation, not that he put
much worth in any of Jans stories.
But its true! Jan protested. Someone had drawn a moustache on him and yanked
his underwear clear up to his shoulderblades. No idea who, but all I can think is that it
must have been one hell of a party. But if you wont believe mewell, as much as it
hurts poor old Jan I suppose theres nothing I can do about it. (sniff!) Poor Jan Jansen,
hes such a liar. (boo hoo!)

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One of these days, yell be squashed like a bug for yer impudence, gnome,
commented Korgan sourly. Not even I would make such casual mockery of the gods.
Have you enjoyed your visit? laconically greeted one of the diseased ones as they
left the temple. Of course you found nothing and of course you will leave empty handed.
There isyou The figure stopped talking, noticing what Tamarth held in his hand.
You have the great device! he cried, shocked out of his ennui. What are you
doing with that? It cannot be moved! It has not been moved in a millennia!
I have taken it for myself. You cannot stop me, said Tamarth, wondering if he
could force a more violent response.
I was not going to try, said the figure, slipping back into boredom. You simple
show how weak our god truly is. It changes nothing. We will remain trapped here,
whether weve something to guard or not. Go, and be done with you.
Tamarth returned to Sassar. It seemed the artifact was going to prove worthless. He
only hoped the Unseeing Eye had enough treasure to make his efforts worthwhile.
Isis that you? Sassar greeted the sound of footsteps. Have you returned
successful?
YesI have half of the rod here with me.
Most excellent, my Lord! Most wonderful! Let me tell you, then, how the second
half of the rod can be acquired. The Unseeing Eye is in a great pit in the center of the cult
compound. You cannot enter the pit by the stairs-- the beholders minions would slay
you. But you must get into the pit. There is a niche where the beholder stores his
treasuresincluding the rod. There is a safe way to get to that niche. One of our friends
is still in the cult. You must approach him and say the phrase the eye is blind. He will
then know who you are and be able to help you. You will find him by the Pit of the
Faithlessdo hurry, my Lord! The beholder continues to mesmerize and murder the
innocent even as we speak!
I shall go immediately and locate this man you speak of.
Praise the gods! I wish you well, my Lord! Remember, do not speak to Gaal. If he
senses that you have half of the rod, the plan is doomed. Speak only to Tad!
Tamarth returned to the cult. Entry into the section of tunnels reserved to them was
easy; apparently Gaal had already told the guards to let him pass. Tamarth entered a large
chamber. The center of the roughly circular room was occupied by a pit, the height of
several men across. This left only a narrow ledge running about the edge of the pit. A
suspended platform reached by a narrow walkway was at the center of the pit, small
rooms housing members of the cult opening off the main chamber.
Tamarth glanced into the pit, but even with the sensitivity to faint light of his elven
heritage he could not see the bottom. He searched for the contact Sassar had mentioned.
Impatient, he bluntly said the key phrase the eye is blind to any cult followers he
encountered, despite the mystification this caused. After several mistries, he was
rewarded.

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YouSassar sent you? said Tad. Oh, thank the gods, I am relieved he is still
alive! I am Tadwhat do you need me to do?
He said that you would know a secret way to reach the small cave at the back of the
beholders lair. Can you help me find it?
You want to enter the beholders lair? Wellyou must go down the Pit of the
Faithless. Below is a secret pathway to the small cave in the lair. I dont know exactly
where the passage is. Be wary of the creatures who feed upon the bodies of the faithless
that are thrown down there.
You want meto go down there? That is not much of a plan, said Tamarth.
Im afraid I can do little else to help you with that, my Lord. I will pray for you to
succeed.
Tamarth could have used better advice and less prayers, but he decided to attempt the
task. He followed the narrow passage Tad had pointed out, downward. The passage
finally leveled out, and widened.
The party began to run into undead, which they destroyed. They came to some crude
suspended walkways crossing cracks in the floor. Another group of undead attacked. The
rear creature, rather than attacking, yelled out What isss thisss? What isss thisss? Living
onesss? Here? I mussst tell the mayor!!
After disposing of the undead in front of them, Tamarth led the others into a crudely
constructed building. Moments before, the creature which had yelled out had preceded
them into the building.
Inside the building were more undead, zombies and ghouls. One of the monsters
spoke, Hsss! Why do you come amongst usss? I begsss you to leave! The sssmellthe
sssmell of food makesss usss wild!
Tell me who you are and what this place is, first, replied Tamarth, curious what he
was witnessing.
II am the mayor of thisss town. Theshal isss my name. We havesss built it and we
triesss to be goodtriesss to be ssscivilized
Youtry to be civilized? Tamarth repeated in disbelief. But you feed on
corpses!
We isss fed from the holethey throwsss the meat to usss. We mussst eat! But we
triesss not to eatsss the living! I triesss to teach the ghoulsss to be good, to have town
likesss the living!
Tamarth realized they had been feeding on the corpses of failed cult initiates. So
youre the leader of this lot? Perhaps you can tell me how to get to the beholder lair
above, then.
Youwantsss to sssee the Great Feeder?
TheGreat Feeder? echoed Tamarth. If youre referring to the one who throws
you down all the dead bodies then, yes, I suppose so.

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Thethe Great Feeder isss beyond the bridge, he issswe goesss there to ssserve
him and cleansss him The creature paused, its jaws working. It began to slowly move
forward.
Thesssmellit isss too much! I cannot ssstand it any moresss!! HsssSSS!!
The undead attacked them. After destroying them the party continued onward. They
reached a section of caves composed of narrow, twisted passages. Slimy growths covered
the floors and walls, making travel difficult.
Besides priests of the cult, they encountered beholders, floating many-eyed balls.
Each eye cast a different magical ray, making them difficult opponents. The narrow ways
of their lair were well suited to levitating spheres. Fortunately, they did not meet the
Unseeing Eye itself.
In one chamber of the maze Tamarth discovered the other half of the rod. The two
parts melded into one, and the assembled rod seethed with power, feeding his crueler
emotions. Greed, hate, lust, and violence all surged within him and he now know why the
good gods had wanted the device hidden away.
Armed with the rod, Tamarth deliberately sought out the focus of the cult. He did not
travel far before, rounding a turn in a tunnel, he discovered the sightless beholder.
Despair, sighted, for death is thy familiar sounded a voice within his mind.
Tamarth triggered the rod; an unseen force projected from it, rocking the eye tyrant
before him. He cursed as he realized the beholder, although injured, had not been killed.
The artifact he held had lost power over the centuries.
Tamarth needed the help of the others in the party to destroy his opponent. He found
a spiraling tunnel that lead upwards from the lair, opening through a secret door to the
chamber he had originally entered, the upper level of the pit.
The cult members had realized their master was gone, since they were now truly
sightless. Tamarth led the others in mercilessly slaying those who did not manage to flee,
stumbling, into the sewers. Gaal, the high priest, was among those who fell.
Tamarth had gathered some loot from the Unseeing Eyes lair, as well as from the
belongings of the cult members. His primary hope, to secure a powerful artifact, had
proved unsuccessful. Tamarth thought the rod would have proved useless versus Irenicus,
even if it was still not warded with curses.
When he returned to Sassar, he said You have destroyed the creature who has
enslaved so manyand for that, I am more grateful than I can say. I sense you have the
rift devicethe rod. You have used it? I must caution you not to take it to the lands
aboveits power would consume you. Far better that you return it whence it came, for
the safety of us all, my Lord.
Determined to play the scene to the end, Tamarth returned to the temple far beneath
the surface.
You return? Why? greeted a diseased one when he reached the temple door. Why
have you come back here? You have brought back the great device?

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I have said it is the will of your lord, said Tamarth. It is depleted, and is to be
destroyed.
You lie! You must! There is no hope for us here! It has been ages since any sign or
change!
And that age is over. Is it so hard to fathom? It is simply time for the end.
This cannot be. You cannot be the herald of change. It is not possible. II must see
for myself. I must hear the word. We all must.
The diseased ones, forgotten followers of a forgotten god, followed the party into the
temple. The one who had spoken to Tamarth outside spoke again.
There is nothing here. There is never anything here but the stench of our hate.
That is all you place here. Why should you get a reward for that?
What we placed was earned! We were abandoned to our endless duty while our lord
slept! Our faith weakened and weand we abandoned him, except in curses. The name
has not been spoken outside of a curse for a generation. There has been no sign, and there
has been no point.
Then stay here for eternity while your souls rot! What god would have you?
Tamarth answered in annoyance.
The god that deserves us! We were abandoned to duty! We honored all except
except his nameI willI Amaunator! Your people call to you! I, Agru Tindul,
Sunlord of the Third House, pursuant to your Conduct of Worship contract, do hereby
give my voice to your name. We askpleasewe call to you. Pleasewe have need of
you.
The avatar appeared. I hear. You who have suffered, who still suffer. The time is at
an end. Letter of the law states that we guard until the end of time. Our time has ended.
Thenwhat is left to do? said the diseased one.
Nothing. Your task is done. You will all sit by the side of Amaunator in the Keep of
the Eternal Sun. The old enemies are gone, and duty is well enough fulfilled.
Praise be to the keeper of time, that he should let it end for the just.
This is the end of things. Rest your mind in my heart. Rest.
The avatar disappeared, the followers collapsed, finally at peace in death. Tamarth
wondered at the play HaerDalis could write, the last whimper of a dead god.
They exited the sewers, all of them ready to find rest for the night.
Oh, hellowhyHELLO, there, said a woman they passed. Its been a while
since Ive seen a well-dressed gentleman of such obvious well-breeding. You would be
hmmnThayvian, perhaps?
Are you referring to me? said Edwin. Watch who you address with over-
familiarity, commoner wench, lest I slap you to the ground and keep you there!
Viconia took the opportunity to talk to Tamarth as they walked.

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What was life like before you were an adventurer? Didnt it seem simpler, less
complicated?
It did, didnt it? replied Tamarth wryly, not having had any real peace since he left
Candlekeep.
It would be nice, wouldnt it Tamarth? To leave the insidious schemes and
psychopathic madmen for others to battle and prevail over?
I suppose that would be something to think about. There are many things about this
life I would like to leave behind.
That is an offer worth bearing witness to. It merits serious consideration, Tamarth.
I would think so, Viconia. I trust your wisdom more than most, said Tamarth,
although he didnt see any way to misplace his half-god inheritance, or her drowish race.
I will definitely consider its value and place in my life, Tamarth. I appreciate your
words of friendship, as wellit is not words I am familiar with.
I wouldnt mind changing the definition of our friendship.
Perhaps, Tamarth. I promise nothing, she said, again making sure to keep a certain
distance between them.
As they walked in the bridge district, a woman came out of an inn, looked towards
the party, stopped, and pointed at HaerDalis.
Oh! Oh, noI remember you! You with the fast hands and the promises! Where
have YOU been for the last month, hmm?
Oh, ahElanda, said HaerDalis. Aye. Well, you see, my sunflower, it is not
what you think, truly
What? Wait, dont tell me. Youve been held hostage by a wizard, and he wouldnt
let you out or even write a letter?!
Well, actually
Thats it! We are through! Begone from my sight, cur!
HaerDalis sighed, shaking his head. Tis the way of all things, I suppose. Fare thee
well, my little sunflower.
They continued walking. Tamarth eyed a man dressed in red they passed; to his
relief, it was not the idiot they had met in Trademeet. Noticing Tamarths scrutiny, the
man started, then hurriedly walked away.
Curious, Tamarth followed. The man disappeared through a door; Tamarth ran to
force the door before it could be shut and locked. Inside were three men, including the
one in red. The men took exception to Tamarths presence, fruitlessly, since as soon as
the rest of the party arrived they were all killed. From what the men said before the
combat began Tamarth realized they were, in fact, kidnappers.
When he went upstairs he found one of their victims, still unransomed.

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What do you vermin wish now? The guard will hear of this outrage! began the
woman at their entry. She quickly realized she did not recognize them, saying, Who
You are not my captors. Who are you? I demand to be freed!
Wait Tamarth! said Edwin. There is no reason that we cannot ransom this lady off
ourselves, yes? There is no reason we cannot profit from this!
I am a prisoner, not a victim! complained the woman. Answer me! Are you to
rescue me or are you to ransom me?!
Tamarth liked Edwins idea. The woman looked like a noble; with luck, a ransom
was already being raised. A fine idea! You shall be free, but not before I collect your
ransom!
You are no better a creature than those wretches that kidnapped me! screamed the
woman. You will rot in the highest trees of Tethir for this! Get out of my sight, I will not
look upon you!
Excellent! agreed Edwin. We will take advantage of anothers plot! What
delicious irony! (I should have a greater share of the ransom for thinking of it, in fact.)
Searching the house, Tamarth found a note indicating a meeting to exchange the
ransom had already been set for that night in the slums. He carefully tied the woman, and
left the building.
They turned a corner, and a halfling let out a shriek, saying Tis a black elf! Tis the
murderer come amongst us! Evidently the halfling had not heard the real culprit of the
skinning murders had been found.
Calm yourself, little one, said Viconia, and restore your senses to some form of
order. I am no murderer. A killer, perhaps, when I mustalthough I doubt you would
detect the difference.
They went to the Copper Coronet, to await the ransom meeting a little later. As they
were drinking a commoner walked up to the table, accosting Jan.
Well, Ill beyer the bloody gnome I bought that gizmo from! Fourteen coppers
and the blasted thing doesnt even work! Give me my money back, ye thief!
Now, now, said Jan placatingly. Did you go and oil it every morning like I told
you to?
Erno
Then what are you blaming ME for? Hair restoration is a very delicate process, you
know. Go back and try oiling it, and after another week if it still doesnt workwhy,
then youll be more than entitled to a full refund!
When darkness had fully fallen outside Tamarth left the inn, searching for his
contact. The man was not hard to find. He was nervously pacing, his rich clothing making
him a tempting target for thieves. Tamarth approached him.
Youyou are the one I am to meet? he asked. I know of no one else that would
approach me. Show me the note if you are who you appear to be.
I am your kidnapper. Give me the gold and you will have your mistress.

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Gold? That was not part of the deal, he disagreed. You shall have the ransom
agreed. Please, that is all we brought. There can be no more.
That will do. I will point the way to the lady. You will find her there. Tamarth
supposed he would have to settle for what the man had brought.
Our deal is done. May you rot for what you have done.
The man handed him a package; Tamarth described the location of the house in the
Bridge District. The man hurried off, casting suspicious glances behind him to see if he
was being followed.
Tamarth eagerly opened the package. Inside were apair of silver pantaloons.
Pantaloons? he thought. He examined the wrapping, but that was all there was.
Hah! said Viconia. It has a delicious irony that is almost worth more than the
gold, collecting this ransom. I find it encouraging to see such a backbone in you,
Tamarth.
With a growl Tamarth thrust the pantaloons into Viconias hands. Let her wear them,
if she was so pleased.
The next day Tamarth wished to head back to the deArnise hold, to see if anything
required his attention. As the party neared the city gate a crowd of beggars surrounded
them.
A foin business t ye, me Lord, said one to Tamarth. Moyt I be askin such a foin
Lord for a spare coin or two t feed a poor womans wee ones?
And just how many children do you have? asked Tamarth.
I be havin two lil wee onesno, FOUR wee onesall wi their starvin mouths
er
I see, said Tamarth chuckling. You dont know how many children you have,
exactly?
Oh, ye is fair too smart for me, me Lord. I ha nay wee ones. But me drunkard
husband will beat me blue an black if I return with nay a coin or two!
Thats not my problem. Begone, snarled Tamarth, suddenly tired of the beggar.
Oh, yer a sodden piece o ore, you is! Bleedin kobold! yelled the beggar as he
walked away.
HaerDalis stopped to talk to the beggar. Perhaps you should work a little on your
approach, my dear lady. Perhaps a bit of a limp in your step, hunch down a bit more
there, now you have it. Nothing wrong with improving your display, see?
The other beggars surrounding them gave up after this exchange, except for one, who
persisted. He said to Tamarth, Ah, wot I wouldnt give for a bit o the spirits to wash
aways me shiversAy, now, could ye spares a gold coin, me Lord?
A likely story, beggar. Find yourself a more gullible target, Tamarth replied
impatiently.
Yer a hard, cold fiend, ye are! protested the beggar.

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Be glad ye can walk, ye stinkin gullet, said Korgan, lest I take care o that
problem for ye so all who pass pity ye plenty more! Korgan pushed the beggar aside,
who stumbled and nearly fell.
When Tamarth arrived at the castle he was informed two merchants were waiting to
see him, a man and a woman.
A good day to you, my Lord Tamarth, said the man when they were introduced. I
am sure you are wondering what brings us here before you
Just tell him and get it over with! the woman said impatiently.
In my own time, in my own time, said the man. Introductions, first. My colleague
and I are moneylenders, you see, from Athkatla. We have come here to collect a debt that
is owed by the late Lord deArnise.
A debt in the amount of two thousand gold pieces, added the woman.
We do know that the late Lord is quite dead, said the man gravely, but the debt is
attached to his property. So, I believe, it falls on you to repay it, Lord Tamarth.
Preposterous! interrupted the major domo. There is no such debt! I would know
of it!
But, on the contrary, there is, disagreed the man.
In fact, we have a scrip, here, asserting such, said the man, pulling a document
from a case, and it has his seal upon it. Fully documented and legal, I assure you.
What?! Let me see that! said the major domo. He examined the document,
especially the impression left by a seal. Lord deArnises seal was lost during the troll
invasion, along with other things. These people could have gotten hold of it, and used it
to forge these documentsIt is Lord deArnises signature all right, my Lord. The wax
has been pressed with his seal. But there is no way to determine precisely when this was
done.
It is not a forgery, protested the man. We did not come here to cause any trouble,
just to collect a simple outstanding debt.
Of course, if you do decide to refuse, said the man, his voice lowering, well, we
will simply have to take exception to that. We cant let debts slide, especially debts made
by nobles. We would be out of business! Soif you refuse to honor this scrip, we will be
forced to take other measures. There are at least, oh, perhaps a dozen locals who owe us
upward of a thousand crowns.
I understand that a merchant recently made a similar threat, he finished smugly,
and we can do the samewe will call in those debts immediately if you refuse. And, of
course, we can have this doneeven if something were to, say, happen to us. So, Lord
Tamarthwhat will it be?
As far as Tamarth was concerned, all of the late Lord Arnises debts had been
nullified by his death. He certainly wasnt going to put up with a pair of tricksters,
probably incited by the Roenals.

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I will not be threatened, said Tamarth. And I believe you are crooks. Take them
away immediately and execute them!
Wh-what?! the man shouted, totally shocked by Tamarths words.
You said this wouldnt happen! complained the woman. You said he was an easy
mark!!
Youll pay for this, Tamarth! blustered the man. Your people owe us the money,
and it WILL be collected!! Tamarth ignored him, as the guards took him away.
Well, said the major domo doubtfully, now that those two are dealt with there is
the matter of their threat. If there are locals who owe them money, they will be angry if
they are forced to pay immediately. Is there anything you might wish to do about that, my
Lord?
Give them 500 gold, said Tamarth, in a generous mood. Im willing to help out
and pay half, but they will have to come up with the rest themselves.
I do not know if they have 500 gold amongst them, but you are certainly being more
than fair. I will make the arrangements immediately, my Lord.
Tamarth agreed; he was being more than fair. Rule over the castle and the
surrounding lands had proven easier than he had thought. Really, all it took was some
common sense to find solutions to the problems which arose.
The next day he returned to Athkatla. As he left, he could see his instructions had
been followed. He had ordered the bodies of the two moneylenders hung from the
battlements as a warning against any who would try and cheat him.

A Pact is Made
Tamarth had come to a decision. The Shadow Thieves had been surprisingly
generous towards him. They had offered to help him find Imoen for only a monetary
payment, and had even allowed him to run a guild in the docks. Tamarth thought it must
be because of his connection to Irenicus. They hoped to use him to defeat Irenicus and
the rival guild which was threatening their dominance in the city. Once their rivals were
gone, Tamarth saw no chance they would allow him, an outsider, an elven half-god, to
continue to run one of their guilds. They might even feel he would know too much about
them, and mark him for assassination.
Tamarth dropped by the guild in the docks, and added Yoshimo to his party again.
Yoshimo had done well as his representative in the guild, but his association with the
guild was about to end. That night, he went to the citys graveyard.
He searched among the tombs. The contact for the guild rival to the Shadow Thieves
met him in front of a mausoleum. She was alone, but she strode towards him with the
dignity of a queen, her subjects moldering in the graves beneath her feet. Tamarth didnt
need the instinctive dread he felt to tell him he faced a vampire, or worse.
You have arrived, she stated. I had worried I might have to discipline Valen for
failing to deliver her message. I greet you warmly.

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Warm you may be, but you are in a very cold place. Was this necessary? asked
Tamarth.
You may be concerned about why we must meet here. There are a number of
reasons, only a few of which you need to worry about. First, I shall introduce myself. I
am Bodhi. I have asked you here because we are unlikely to be overheard, and so you can
see the benefits of working with me.
This is the entrance to the hold that I offer you access to, she said, gesturing to the
door of the tomb behind her. Oh, I am sorry, I have moved ahead of myself. I should
outline what I intend.
Well, it is about time! said Edwin. It is almost too much, this creeping about
graveyards at night, waiting on this wenchs every word! Bah!
You areemployed of course, and do errands occasionally, she continued, talking
only to Tamarth, ignoring the others. No doubt you have questioned the intent of your
employer on occasion? If you havent, then you should. You work for the Shadow
Thieves, on the pretense they will help locate your missing companion, Imoen. Yes, they
are Shadow Thieves, and yes, they are as nefarious as you have probably heard. I would
offer an alternative. I would help you find your friend foroh15,000 gold? It is a
sizeable amount less than the Shadow Thieves have asked and, coincidentally, it is what
you have now.
Hah! An excellent deal, to save so much gold! agreed Korgan Seize the
opportunity, Tamarth, lest the fickle woman change her mind!
Perhapsperhaps this is not a bad idea, also agreed Yoshimo. We would save
much coin and achieve the same goal, it seems. Althoughit would be certain to make
enemies of the Shadow Thieves.
Enough. It is obvious you have questions, said Bodhi. Ask them and appease your
curiosity, if not your conscience.
Why would you do this? What do you stand to gain?
By offering you such a deal at this price, you mean? I stand to gain by what the
Shadow Thieves have lost. I am not about to do this out of the good of my heart.
Bodhi began to explain her offer, her soft voice at odds with the devastation she
planned. You will be unable to turn down my offer, even if I demand a fewgestures to
prove your loyalty. There is a monopoly in this town, and I intend to break it. I will ask
you to weaken the resources of the Shadow Thieves. I am not so vain as to think them
easily destroyed, but many of their members will join with me. I make no illusions about
what will be required of you. I will wish you to kill, and I will wish you to terrorize. You
must determine if you have the stomach for it. 15,000 is a lot, but I will compensate you
well for it. You will ultimately have Imoen, and a few magical trinkets too. And rest
assured, I will help you find Imoen, I will help you find Irenicus, but not just for your
reasons. I have an interest in Irenicus myself. Support me and you will revel in the
destruction of the largest criminal organization south of Waterdeep, though the big bad
thieves have been rather soft as of late.

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Bodhis plans agreed with those of Tamarth. He now knew for sure that Bodhi and
her guild were linked to Irenicus; as such, it should be within Bodhis power to gain him
access to his enemy. More, her plan, if successful, would leave the Shadow Thieves in
disarray. It would allow Tamarth latitude to do as he chose within the city. Who knew,
maybe it would even provide the opportunity for an outsider to gain control of whatever
was left of the Shadow Thieves.
Aloud, he said, *You* want me to find Irenicus? What are you talking about? Are
you in league with him?
You must bear this as one of the additional conditions. I offer much, and expect
much in return. Imoen and Irenicus will be your joint goal in time. The details are mine to
keep. If you wish more, you must join me. As I said, your duties will be morally suspect,
and you may face more enemies than you wish. Now is the time for deciding. I cannot
wait too long and I tire of talking. Choose your allegiance. The masters you serve or the
Mistress that will let you destroy them.
I do not trust you, but I will take your offer. It is too good to decline.
Such confidence is admirable. Very well, this place is now open to you. It is a safe
haven, as my friends below shall reiterate. I will take the 15000 gold now, of course. It is
secondary to my concerns, but that was the deal. Now to my tasks. I wish a campaign of
disruption, and you will begin it. There is a shipment of supplies arriving by boat. You
are toconfiscate it.
Thats a pretty mundane task. Why would you need me for something so simple?
I do not like to waste blood, though I may bid others to do it. I think you will find
your assault intensely violent. Likely they already know your treachery. You need not
look surprised. You didnt think they would let you wander about unwatched, did you? I
am not unknown to them, I am justelusive. No, I think you will find that you will be
unwelcome. Actually, you will more likely be attacked on sight.
But how am I to be of use if I am revealed as an enemy?
There will be other things for you to do in time. These little chores are only the
preliminary. I will speak of others later. I leave you. When you have done as I have
asked, you shall find me in the complex below. Simply enter through this door. Until
then, farewell and good fortune.
Is this all that we are to be used for, now? complained Edwin. Some minor
errand? Ah, yes, what a blow it shall be against the Shadow Thieves! Bah! Let us get this
over with!
***
A week earlier, in the Institution for the Magically Insane, Spellhold, two Cowled
Wizards were talking.
The girl they brought in, said one, shes a cute one, isnt she.
I do believe Ill have to practice some enchantment spells on that one, replied the
second.

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Haha! said the first. Holdwhat was that sound? A faint, muffled explosion
could be heard.
Another cowled wizard appeared, yelling out You two!! The new prisoner, hes
escaped!!
What!! When? Where is he? clamored his two fellows.
Hes in the lower, started the third mage, who then blanched in dismay. Gods,
no! He comes! Hes here!
Jon Irenicus appeared. His plans were nearing fruition, and he was ready to turn
Spellhold into his own personal magical laboratory. All he needed to do was to eliminate
its current curators.
The three Cowled Wizards vainly cast magical spells at Irenicus, seeking to bring
him done.
I cannot be caged, said Irenicus, killing the first mage.
I cannot be controlled, he said, killing a second.
Understand this as you die, ever pathetic, ever fools! he said, killing the final
mage. He then walked to Imoens cell, opening it with a gesture.
Hello, little one, said Irenicus. You and I have a great deal to do.
Wh- what are you planning? asked Imoen fearfully.
Not to worry, nothing worse than what I shall do to your friend.
***
Allies were expensive in the City of Coin, but Tamarth had invested carefully to best
serve his interests. Despite her dark nature, Bodhi had promised much and seemed eager
to accommodate. She was useful for now, so long as she aided in his search for Irenicus.
The party set out for the Dock District. They walked along the seas edge, looking
for activity. Tamarth noticed movement on one dock. As they walked out onto the dock a
female thief called out to them.
You! I know why youre here! You shall not get this shipment under my watch!
Arkanis! Help me! Bodhi was right. The Shadow Thieves already knew of Tamarths
new allegiance.
The woman, who must have been Mook, and two associates were killed. After the
battle, Tamarth examined a crate on the dock, which Mook had been guarding.
The crate was filled with sharpened wooden stakes. Each stake came with a vial of
what seemed to be mere water. Obviously the Shadow Thieves knew they were dealing
with vampires. Tamarth upended the crate, dumping its contents into the water. All
except a few stakes, which he kept just in case.
Tamarth returned to the graveyard, boldly entering Bodhis lair underground. After
all, she had said he was welcome. He met a human, or rather what he supposed to be a
vampire, in the corridor he was following after taking stone stairs from the surface.

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The vampire introduced himself as Antenos, then commented, Ooh, you are a fine
one. New meat for the larder, I assume. Oh, but perhaps you are the one the mistress
spoke of? Are you in her service as adomesticor are you muscle?
I do not have time to waste with you, lap dog, growled Tamarth. I serve with
Bodhi, not her lackeys. He saw nothing in common between himself and the vampires of
Bodhis circle, who he was sure were magically enslaved to do her bidding.
Oh, of course, of course. I did not mean to anger anyone with the mistresses ear. I
am her most humble servant, and yours as well if you will it. Do try to keep in mind
though, that should yourpositionchange, it will be I that has your comfort to grant or
rescind. I care for those that serve in a less grandiose manner than you currently do.
Can the other servants not take care of themselves? I question their worth if not.
Ahh, but with some their service is more intangible, and requires less effort from
them. Not the lot in life they might have expected, but never does one know what to
expect. Ahh, but that is what we all think at some time or another. It is funny how the
fates slip a bag over your head and take you away on occasion. Yes, funny. Good will to
you. I shall see you later.
Tamarth entered a room off the corridor, filled with the expected coffins. In the
adjoining chamber was a stone bath, filled with blood. Tamarth marveled at the amount
of blood in the bath, and the extinguished lives it represented.
Also in the chamber was a woman, human from the rosy glow to her cheeks and the
pulse visible at her neck. She moved slowly, as if in a dream. Noticing their entry, she
spoke.
Your chambers are as you wished, mistress. Master Antenos has bid me visit you as
requested, mistress. Is there anything else you require, mistress?
Her voice was dreamy as well, and her eyes did not focus on any of them. There was
a note pinned to her dress, with the words Fetch written on it. Evidently the vampires
didnt bother to learn their slaves actual names, but assigned them any name they chose.
What is your purpose here? asked Tamarth.
I will get your notes when you require them, mistress. I am at your call at all times,
mistress. Might I serve you, mistress?
Tamarth moved from this room into a large chamber, a conference table in its center.
A female vampire snarled at them as they entered. Tamarth walked towards her; she
stepped back a pace, saying, Away from me, dog, I will not have you touch me.
I go where I wish, said Tamarth. I am here at the behest of Bodhi so I am no mere
servant.
Do not presume you are of so great a value. There is always more breathers such as
you, and replacements can certainly be found! Why mistress Bodhi insists on dealing
with meat such as you I do not
She suddenly stopped, no longer concentrating on the party. Tamarth strained,
hearing her whisper, Ibut Ivery well. She looked at Tamarth again.

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That is to say, while I have myreservations, she said, I do not mean to


countermand the orders of the mistress. You arewelcome here. Nownow get out of
my sight.
Tamarth had been right. Bodhi not only controlled her vampiric minions, she had
some knowledge of what they were doing. It fed Tamarths vanity to think there were
tasks he could do which Bodhis slaves could not.
Also in the room was another entranced human, Chore. When Tamarth walked up to
him he spoke.
I will get to the floors as soon as you will it, mistress. Youre looking as lovely as
the ages, mistress. How might I make your home more pleasant, mistress?
What is this place? What is your role here?
Will you have need of my tending this eve, mistress? I should retire early otherwise,
mistress. Mister Cohn has kept me well busy, mistress.
Another, male, vampire came into the room.
Greetings, he said. I trust you have found your welcome adequate, if not exactly
warm. I am Master Cohn Talglaen. If you choose to address me, call me Master Cohn.
Tamarth had run out of patience dealing with Bodhis servants. I will call you what
I wish, if thats all right. How about Tag? Or Tag if you prefer.
Oh, this chat has taken a downward turn. Despite the wishes of the mistress I shall
not deal with you. Laune is even more standoffish, though she is young. Go walk
amongst the others of your station. They will not care what you call them, for they are
named each day for their tasks, to keep things simple. Leave. I have nothing more to say
until the mistress bids it. Feel fortunate, for we do not often even bother acknowledging
our disregard of such as you.
Finding steps leading downward, Tamarth followed them. The passage at the bottom
of the stairs led to a closed door. In front of the door was another human slave, Food.
Will you be dining in this eve, mistress? said the slave. Should I prepare for two,
mistress? Master Cohn does so enjoy when you allow him to join you, mistress.
Are you well? You seem a touch out of sorts, said Tamarth sarcastically. In fact,
this slave did seem rather pale. Tamarth wondered if his name was literal, and he would
be the meal.
I will be ready when you will it, mistress. Master Cohn is always punctual, mistress.
Will Laune see to herself as usual, mistress?
Tamarth opened the door. Bodhi was within.
I see you have returned. Ahh, I gather by your face that you have succeeded.
Excellent. I will relieve you of your bounty and give you your next assignment.
My attack will hardly cripple the guild, commented Tamarth. Why did you have
me do this?

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I did not intend for you to cripple them; that will come later. This attack will have
alarmed the guild, such that they fortify certain places. That draw of manpower will
weaken others. Overall, my position is stronger. Now I ask for more specific tasks that
will disrupt the guild further. I give you a choice: I have two tasks, each will require a
different kind of person. Choose; they cannot both be done. One isunseemly, so if you
claim to be good you should choose the second, a sickly heros task. Which do you
prefer?
Is this a challenge, I wonder? said Viconia at his side. Take the darker path,
Tamarthshow this creature you will not shrink from a deed that needs to be done.
Ahhhr, the first path sounds the better to me, agreed Korgan. I have a hankering
for blood that shant be satisfied by nilly-nallying about with morals and such.
The choice is ultimately Tamarths, said Bodhi. It is he that I have employed,
only. What do you say, Tamarth?
Tamarth was inclined to agree. To truly impress Bodhi, he needed to prove useful, to
do whatever she wanted.
I am not above a little skullduggery, he said. I will do the unseemly task.
Very well, it calls for the murder of a man. Not a truly innocent man, but hardly a
villain of epic scope. You must kill, blaming the murder on the Shadow Thieves. He is
head of a merchant house and his link to Shadow Thieves is blatant. If he was to die and
certain gear was at the scene, it would implicate the guild we oppose. Take this cloak and
dagger and go Kill Senior Armagaran Vulova. When he is dead, put the cloak and dagger
in the fountain in his house. He will die easy, though there may be guards. His small
house is in the Government District between the Jail and the Government Building. Go.
Murder is not what I was expecting, said Tamarth. To be sure, he had killed often,
but out of necessity or for some personal reason. He hesitated now, never having
deliberately murdered as an assassin.
Then send flowers and wish him well. What were you expecting? They are thieves
and assassins; we must be uncompromising. Do you wish to do the deed or not?
I will do it. I will not change my mind again, replied Tamarth. After all, it would
be only one more death.
Return here when you are done. I will be waiting.
Tamarth left immediately, since it was still not long after midnight, an excellent time
to do the deed. As the party headed for the Government district, Yoshimo spoke to
HaerDalis.
Haerdalis, Haerdalis, you think too much and smile too little! Come, my
bullywug! Come, my puss n boots! We are in Athkatla, the city of a million smiling
faces!
Aye, parrot, aye, said HaerDalis. Tis because theyre all trying to sell me
something!

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I have seen your fingers and they are as fast as your tongue! What you dont want to
buy, you can always steal!
And what you dont want to steal? I trust not your boundless glee, my parrot, for
something in it jingles with the sound of silver.
Silver? Or gold? We pluck it from every corpse we find and steal it from every
chest that we encounter! You are right, bard, I am twice rewarded: once because I am
richer in Tamarths care, and twice because I am richer here than rotting in some prison
of the damned.
Aye, you are twice rewarded but you have no more been a prisoner than I have been
a kingConsidered yourself forewarned, thief. My trust does not come easy and you
have not won it yet.
When they reached the Government District Tamarth and Yoshimo slipped into the
house Bodhi had indicated. They found Vulova asleep. Tamarth awakened him; some
part of him insisted that if the man was to die, he at least know why.
What? Who are you? cried Vulova, confused and afraid. I demand to know what
you are doing in here!
Fine, said Tamarth, saying bluntly, I am here to kill you and to blame your
murder on the Shadow Thieves.
Wh-what? Butmy guards! They will stop you!
Not likely. They havent stopped me yet. Consider your options here.
Myoptions? he echoed. Vulova paused, tears forming in his eyes. He suddenly
thrust his hands pleadingly at Tamarth, crying Please! Please dont kill me! I have a wife
and twoThree! Three children! Oh, and they are beautiful! And they love their father!
And they have shining futures! Please dont kill me! Oh please!
For a moment, Tamarth considered letting him live, telling him to leave the city at
once. But he had already foolishly told the man his mission. Besides, Bodhi might have
spies watching him, and learn of his weakness. Tamarth summoned rage, trying to burn
away his weakness.
Pathetic. No, Im sorry, but Ive no other choice.
No! Guards! To my side! Please! yelled the man. Tamarth cut him down. He and
Yoshimo slipped back out of the house before any guards arrived, Tamarth leaving the
Shadow Thief articles behind as instructed.
Tamarth joined the others, then walked further away from the house, into the main
square. Dawn was not far away, and already the square was beginning to see traffic from
clerks reporting to their duties in the main government building fronting the square.
He kept Vulovas house under observation. There was commotion about it, and city
guardsmen arrived at the house after dawn. But no one came to bother him, which
indicated to Tamarth that Bodhi must have taken care of any Shadow Thief spies who
might have been dogging his steps.

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Someone else did find them, as a noblewoman walking on the square suddenly
paused, saying, Oooh, is this the handsome actor I heard so much about with his plays in
the Bridge District? You should stage them in a more suitable venue.
Twas a fine enough venue, dear lady, answered the bard. Tis the play that is the
thingnot the gilded hall or marbled pillars. We played such places in Sigil and fared no
better, as I recall.
Tamarth took that as a signal it was time to leave. He started to walk back towards
the graveyard, but HaerDalis distinctive features elicited another comment from a
passing man.
Oher, excuse me. Pardon the question, but do you have some orcish blood in
you? Youre features areso strangeI dont think Ive seen the like, here.
Orcish blood? Nay, berk, none in this raven. Ive perhaps a few less pleasant
ancestors, none of which youd like to meet, Im sure.
Tamarth had already passed through the Bridge District when a messenger found
him.
My Lord! panted the tired messenger. It is a good thing that I have found you
once again! There has been a terrible flood on your on your land! Theres so much
devastation! The messenger paused to take a breath. The major domo asks that you
come to the keep as quickly as possible! Ive got to run back, now, and tell him Ive
found you! Please come quickly!
Tamarth cursed. He couldnt ignore the message, not now. If Bodhi led him to
Irenicus he expected to be gone a long time, perhaps weeks. If he did not travel to the
deArnise castle, everyone there would lose confidence in him; when he returned, he
would doubtless find the Roenals in full possession.
He set out for the castle, ignoring the protests of the others at the lack of sleep. He
did not even try to mollify Korgan, for once unconcerned whether the crazy dwarf would
decide he had to die over this slight.
A little after dusk he arrived at the keep. He immediately went to see the major
domo.
Your grace! You have arrived! said the major domo gratefully. It is terrible, is it
not? Did you see the destruction of the flood from the road? There are many put out from
their farmsTwas the old dikes, my Lord. Lord deArnise was planning on building
new ones to replace them, but it was always a project for the next year, it seems. And
now it has caught up to us. There are many locals who have demanded to speak with
youso many are upset! I have limited their number to but a few
The major domo let a few locals into the room. If Tamarth had known of this ahead
of time he certainly would have prevented it.
Lord Tamarth! yelled one of the local farmers. Youre here t protect folks like
uswe were assured that the dikes would be fixed, so thered be no more floods!
An this one was worse than all the others! said another. All of them! My farm
was completely sotted!

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My son was killed! came another cry. The water came so quicklyit was all we
could do to get away with our lives!
IveIve lost everything, said the first farmer. Many of us have. Wewe know
that you are not our Lord deArnise. But you are our Lordwe have paid you our taxes,
and now we need your help
Need his help?! said another. We demand his help! You want to be our Lord, then
you need to fix this problem!
Oh, theres no need to talk like thatIm sure Lord Tamarth is willing to help us, to
do whats right
Well, either the dike needs to be fixed, or all of our farmholds have to be rebuilt. Or
both. Or theres going to be a LOT of angry people!
Calm down, everyone! said the major domo. Lord Tamarth shall do as he feels is
best, and there is no altering that! Pleasejust remain calmNow, my Lord, Ive
determined the cost for damages and rebuilding the dike. You will need to choose what,
if anything, will be done right now. The damage to the land is costly. It is too bad we do
not have access to Lord deArnises coffers, because the cost to rebuild is overer
5,000 gold
The people will have to be responsible for the rebuilding of their own farmholds,
said Tamarth. I feel for them, but I can do nothing. As far as Tamarth was concerned, if
they wanted to complain to someone about their losses, they should dig up the late Lord
Arnise.
Howls of protest rose from the assembled locals.
What?! This is an outrage!!
Youyou are our Lord and you intend to do NOTHING?!
And what about the dikes? Are you going to rebuild those?
The dikes are almost as costly, said the major domo, hence the reason Lord
deArnise kept putting them off. 2,000 gold to rebuild them, my Lorda harsh expense, I
know
Tamarth considered this a different matter. The dikes were needed to protect his
farmland, and the income he enjoyed from it. It didnt matter to him whether the locals in
front of him rebuilt and worked the land, or new farmers had to be imported. Besides, he
thought, let the locals earn some money by working on the dikes.
If it will prevent future problems, then it should be done, said Tamarth. Spend the
2,000 gp and rebuild the dikes.
Very good, my LordI will see that reconstruction begins immediately on the new
dikes.
Predictably, the locals were not satisfied with his response.
Bah! What I would not give to have Lord deArnise back amongst us! At least he
was a fair man who treated us well!

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Youve done little else, here, than add to our miseries, Lord Tamarth!
Let us leave him be, then, and get back to rebuilding what we can
As for the land, the people are very angry, said the major domo after the peasants
left. An assassin was found hiding in the keep, and several mobs of farmers have been
turned from the gates. You must bemost careful.
Tamarth decided to talk to the servants in the castle, to see what they thought of his
rule. He wasnt used to the frankness with which they responded, or expecting the
sentiments he heard.
I cook for you, yes? But I think I be going soon, said Olma the Cook. All people,
here, they say you not good Lord. They say trolls were better, even. Tsk. It is shame.
It is a terrible thing, said Metigo the Butler, that you have driven the people of the
area to this state. Consider this my immediate resignation. Tamarth considered making
his familiar the butler. It was about time he got some use out of the mephit.
I am afraid to say that I shall likely be leavingsoon, said Chanelle the maid.
The people here are so angrythere may be a danger to us all.
People speak ill of you, said Talira the maid, they say you are a nasty man and a
terrible ruler. I am saddened to find myself working for another such distasteful noble.
My men are grumbling, my Lord, said Captain Cernick. They think you ill-suited
to follow Lord deArnises rule. Continue on this path and they may not follow you any
further.
The people had been coddled far too long, was Tamarths opinion. He had provided
for security, and the general infrastructure of the lands. Really, it was up to the people
themselves to provide for everything else.
He stayed the night at the castle, leaving at dawn the next day. During the long
march Yoshimo took the opportunity to talk to HaerDalis.
HaerDalis, a ronin, a rogue, said Yoshimo. Youve more freedom than most and
yet you remain as grumpy as a flea-bitten dog. Why so glum?
Dogs is it? A fitting cloak for a blood-hound. Youve got the scent now, Yoshimo
and shall bring the prey to your mysterious master.
No master have I save my own conscience. I merely wish to know why life is such
a burden to you.
Shackles as heavy as yours cannot be hidden from one who has been a slave. I tire
of this dreadful acting. Leave me be, Yoshimo.
HaerDalis had decided he didnt like Yoshimo, although Tamarth wondered where
he had invented these other fantasies about him. Yoshimo had proven one of his most
reliable lieutenants.
When they reached Athkatla Tamarth again denied the party rest. He went directly to
the graveyard.

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Well done. I trust you gave no mercy? said Bodhi when they reported. Did you
enjoy the task? Yes, Im sure you did. Now, on to more important things.
I have done much for you. When will you help me with Imoen? replied Tamarth.
Patience, I will honor our deal. Indeed, I will be glad to see you to your destination.
However, if my tasks are left undone, your trip will not be possible. You would not want
the path contested by Shadow Thieves, would you? The task at hand will ensure safe
passage for you and her. Lets get to it then. It is time to take down the leadership of the
Shadow Thieves and throw them into a more permanent disarray from which they may
not recover. You must invade their lair for one last time. You must kill Aran Linvail, the
Shadow Master. Do this for me and our arrangement will be fulfilled.
KillAran Linvail? said Yoshimo. The Shadowmaster of the entire Shadow
Thieves guild? Howare you mad, woman?
Kill the big man, eh? said Jan. Ahhh, this takes me back. Uncle Scratchy led the
assault on King Goobars tower himself, you know. Of course, Goobar wasnt really a
King. And calling a horde of angry old gnomes bitter about the pipe shortage and
muttering to themselves with torches an assault is something of a stretch, too, but you get
the idea. If it hadnt been for Goobars quick thinking, things could really have gotten
messy. Still, there were bubbles everywhere for weeksso I suppose it was messy
enough anyway.
Aran is in the basement of the Shadow Thief guildhouse, so you need a key, said
Bodhi. The lock is likely unpickable. What good is a lock in a thief guild if any thief can
pick it? Perhaps your former contact, Gaelan, could be persuaded to give you his key. I
leave the details to your discretion. Go now and return when Linvail is dead. One more
thing: Tizzak, an employee of mine, is missing, and the Thieves may have him. Find him
and he may tell you how to access Arans sanctum. Go now!
Killing the Shadowmaster, commented Yoshimo after they left the graveyard, if
we succeed, it will be a feat of no small note, Tamarth. Still, though, people have tried it
in the past and come nowhere near succeeding.
So, were off to kill the Shadowmaster, added Edwin, one of the most powerful
men in this city? It might be interesting. Just do not screw it up, Tamarth!
They went to the slums. Fortunately, Gaelan Bayle was still in his house. They found
the promised key on his body after slaying him.
They then walked to the main Shadow Thieves guild building, in the Docks District.
The guard on the door cried at their appearance, Yeve made quite th mistake, showin
yer face around here! He had no time for any other utterance before Korgans axe ended
his life.
They entered the building, using the stolen key to penetrate into its hidden areas.
Thieves attacked from the shadows, but in small numbers. Bodhis plan to divert the
resources of the Shadow Thieves to other areas must have worked.
They reached the Shadow Thieves torture chamber. The torturer was working on a
man strapped down, heating pokers.

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Youve been sent by Bodhi, havent you? cried the prisoner. Kill that cursed
torturer and free me! Booter has the keys! Ill tell you everything I know!
I cant believe the fools let you through! yelled the torturer. Ah, wellif it takes
a torturer to kill you then so be it!
The torturer grabbed a heated poker, attacking them. He was easily cut down.
Praise Mask! Thank you for freeing me, said the prisoner after his bonds were cut.
My former guild isnt as friendly as I had hoped it would be.
You must be the Tizzak that Bodhi mentioned, said Tamarth.
I am and well met! I used to be a Shadow Thief until Bodhi recruited me. My
loyalty only goes as far as the power of my employer goes. Bodhi has sent you to kill
Aran Linvail?
Yes, she has. How can I get to his inner sanctum?
Arans inner sanctum is protected by two magical doors. They can be neither picked
nor bashed. You shall have to find a button for the first and a key for the second. The
button can be found somewhere to the north, at the end of a heavily trapped hallway. As
to the key, I know not where it is but I do know that Arans most trusted advisor is a
wizard called Haz. He may have a key if he is in the compound. I am somewhat worse for
wear so I shall have to take my leave of you. Best of luck and thanks for saving me.
Tamarth had other plans. As Tizzak turned to leave, Tamarth stabbed him in the
back. Although no doubt rumors would float about of what Tamarth had done here, he
intended to leave no living witnesses outside the party.
Tamarth searched for the mage Tizzak had mentioned. As it happened, the mage
found him.
Youve walked right into our web, fool! said a thief stepping from the shadows.
Take no prisoners! We must protect Aran! More thieves appeared around them.
I wondered if you might eventually drag yourself over to me, said the mage Haz,
also having stepped into view. Im afraid your mistress Bodhi shall have to remain in
her graveyard lair. Your little invasion shall end here and her plans with it!
This battle proved more difficult, but the thieves proved no match for the ferocity of
Tamarth and Korgan, backed by the others. The key taken from the mages body allowed
them entry to a final section of the guild. They found Aran Linvail with several guards
huddled in his room.
I admit I never thought that the bitch Bodhi would have the courage to invade, said
Aran Linvail. No matter. You shall be the first to fall!
Instead it was Linvail, guildmaster of guildmasters, who fell. Tamarth returned to the
graveyard.
Ahh, you return, greeted Bodhi. I take it that yourhuntwas successful? Im
sure it was a fulfilling chase, one that I certainly wish I had seen.
You were capable of the battle and the chase. Are we through with games now?

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You have complied with my conditions, met my challenges, and have proven your
ability to me and my cause. What cause is this, you may ask? I shall tell you. The
disruption of the Shadow Thieves was the pulling of a splinter, more a happy side effect
to your evaluation for service. Certainly useful, but not the true calling of either of us.
You seek Imoen, your lost comrade, and Irenicus, the one who would give you power. I
am prepared to give you their location, and the means with which to reach them.
Get on with it then!
There is a caveat, however. When you find Irenicus he is to be mine as well. His
death is not to come until we have both been satisfied.
You mentioned some of this long ago. What do you know of this fiend?
I know much and will share it. You do not know the full picture of the man, and I
cannot blame you for your cautiousness. It is true that Irenicus was your captor, and
indeed, your stay in his care was not the most comfortable, but there were circumstance
that you are not aware of. I know, Tamarth, that you are a child of Bhaal. Bhaal, among
other things, was lord of murder. Irenicus has a fascination with death, so you were of
interest. I am the first to say that I do not endorse the experiments that were done, but you
should know there was a reason to it.
Yes, yes, enough history. What were the reasons then?
I will get to that in a moment. While you were in Jonscare he discovered the
potential you have, and resolved to aid your development. You mistook the unfortunate
effects of his experiments for torture. More might have been revealed to you but he had
aconfrontation with the Shadow Thieves. Of course you saw the outcome of that battle,
with your own Imoen spirited away. You seek her, and I seek Irenicus. Both of us could
benefit by his return, and hers. Tamarth didnt believe Irenicus had been interested in
him for anything beyond self interest, but he was still unclear what Bodhi hoped to gain.
What do you mean, both of us? What do you want out of this?
I require several things, but please, allow me to clarify. I know full well that your
efforts to retrieve Irenicus would not be gentle. Irenicus is the only remnant of family that
I have. We have survived through different means, but he is, for all intents and purposes,
my brother. That said, he has certain things that I want. I cannot access much of his
knowledge while he is incarcerated. I would have him released, and pliable to my will. I
seek his return so I might use his knowledge. His condition will be irrelevant, and what I
learn from him will benefit you as well. This is what I can offer.
What was the nature of the fight with the Shadow Thieves?
I do not concern myself with my brothers self-destructive plans. He angered them
as he angers many. Some other experiment gone wrong perhaps. It is possible they even
suspected my relationship to him. I have become quite the thorn in their sides.
You must have been close to Irenicus before. Why did you not use him then?
He is powerful, as you saw. I doubt I could have convinced him to reveal secrets
while he was at full strength. Now he is weakened by rage and combat.
Perhaps I can help you, just so long as this does not interfere with my own goals.

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It will not interfere. You will reach Irenicus and Imoen with ease, for they are both
in the same place; a horrible place designed to hold the strong willed. The Cowled
Wizards took them to the one place that mages in Athkatla truly fear, a place where
power is stripped and examined, where minds are laid open for study. The polite
bureaucrat calls it a Residence for the Magically Deviant, but mages just call it
Spellhold. It is an asylum, where people are sent to disappear.
What sort of place is this that no one knows of it?
If it were as simple as walking to the gates and demanding entrance it would have
been done a dozen times over for the sake of other inmates. Spellhold is an asylum, a
place designed to hold mages and othertalented people. Even in this magically
repressive society it would be considered cruel. The island it is located on is under its
own rule, and even the Cowled Wizards are not certain what becomes of those sent there.
It is considered a necessary evil, and like so many other evils, no one really wanted to
deal with it once it began. I have used your gold to secure passage to the isle. You will
have to contend with the asylum itself, and with the pirates that run the isle.
You will not be coming? I am certain I could use the help.
I will be going, though I do not enjoythe movement of the water. Once we are
there I will ascertain what my involvement should be.
Then I will set sail this instant. Ready the ship and I shall be on my way.
The ship awaits your arrival. A safe journey to you, Tamarth. May you find what
we both seek.
It still being night, Bodhi led them to the docks, where there was a ship waiting.
This is to be your transport, said Bodhi, and I trust you will try to get along with
the crew. That may provedifficult from time to time, but your effort would be
appreciated.
Why, Mistress Bodhi, said the captain, you speak of our relations as though they
have been unkind to you. I sincerely hope that is not the case.
Not at all, Saemon, though at times you can be a littletrying on the nerves. I
certainly meant no offense.
I would not dream of taking any such offense to you, Mistress Bodhi. You are a
delight to work with in all things.
Tamarth, this is Saemon Havarian, and he is the captain of this vessel. His word is
law aboard shipwithin reason, of course.
Again I sense a hesitation in your voice, Mistress Bodhi, such that I must seriously
consider reexamining the way in which I conduct myself.
You are as incapable of change as a mountain vista. Careful nudging over a
thousand years might create a crack, but you would simply turn to show an unblemished
side.
Distress and woe! I had best make well and sure that your cargo reaches the isle
safely, lest your opinion of me lower to positively subterranean levels.

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My opinion of you is firmly entrenched among the stars, Saemon Havarian. Now,
explain the voyage to come. What, pray tell, is the name of your ship this season?
It changes with whim and a gust of the wind. Never do I seem to affix the
nameplate with proper resin. For now, Galante will suffice. As for the journey, I trust
mlady will be spending the bulk of it below decks? I know your ever-alabaster skin finds
the sunlight and moving water to be an irritant most caustic.
That is my concern alone, Saemon, and no more will be said of it. To the details of
the voyage, if you please.
Of course, Mistress Bodhi, of course. Tamarth, being inexperienced with the sea as
you are, I suggest you pay careful heed to my words.
Bodhi? Am I to be subservient to this foppish milksop? questioned Tamarth.
Do not anger him, Tamarth. No other captains would dare the voyage.
Cowards all, I should say, Saemon immediately interjected. No stomach for the
vivid taste of adventure. A touch sour to the palate, perhaps, but ripened by the gold you
have paid. The journey shall be swift, for I have a good ship and a fine crew, veterans
both, and well seasoned. You may scarcely notice the passing of the voyage. That is not
to say there are not dangers. A sudden squall or hidden reef could prove deadly, though
we are more likely to encounter pirates of ill repute.
As opposed to the pirate of good repute which we have hired, said Bodhi.
Mistress Bodhi, you do me great harm. To suggest I would stoop to such behavior is
a grievous falsehood, the very stuff of fantasy.
Very well, though I trust that you know the pirates hunting grounds well enough to
see us safely through.
Er, of course. A stalwart captain is always prepared for any eventuality.
Then we are ready and should set sail at once. With a reminder that any loss of time
due to attacks will be exacted off the end of the captains life.
I am not sure I approve of the tone of this discourse. Best that we direct our
thoughts to the voyage ahead and set our sails. More shall be said on arrival. Hold fast,
the journey begins.
***
Inside Spellhold, Jon Irenicus came to Imoen. Awaken, child. It is time for
anothertest.
PleaseI cant take this weakly protested Imoen.
Patience, Imoen. Soon it will all end, said Irenicus. He directed that Imoen be
strapped into the device he had prepared. Around the room, former Shadow Thieves
waited in clear tubes, fearfully eyeing the mage.
Nodont do thisI dont want to die, begged one of the prisoners.
Silence, dog! snarled Irenicus. You have no purpose but to die by my hand.
Irenicus cast specialized spells, starting the apparatus he created. Around the room, the

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prisoners died in their tubes, in each case the apparatus somehow capturing their spirit as
it fled the body. Then it was Imoens turn. She cried out as something left her, slumping
motionless.
You are nearly ready for him, Imoen, said Irenicus. He will be pleased.

Residence for the Magically Deviant


Bodhi was as good as her word, and they were quickly under sail, the flamboyant
Saemon Havarian at the helm. The journey was uneventful, and if there were other ships
on the same course they must have kept a discreet distance. They made good time, and
soon there was a sizable island on the horizon. It might have been considered a pleasant
place, but a grim shadow extended the length of it. The asylum, Spellhold, loomed from a
cliff side. The ship docked in the port of Brynnlaw.
We have arrived, and in good time, I might add, said Saemon Havarian.
Congratulatory remarks for all the crew, and to our visitors for their delightful
company.
Yes, that was quite the voyage, wasnt it? said Jan. All the swaying to and fro,
and then there was that storm two days ago and the close brush with the dragon turtle,
there. The food reminded me of the time Ma Jansen went on her trip to Smurtlepuss and
Uncle Scratchy did all the cooking, too. Ahhhh, smell the air! Feel the invigoration!
We had to make the best of it, added Yoshimo. I, myself, managed to win a fair
amount of coin from your crewthey seemed to think they were the only ones who knew
how to play cards, oddly.
Bah! Well I have no intention of being pleasant! complained Korgan. Ive heaved
up enough of me guts on this trip to leave me emptier than a halflings head! Never will
ye get me aboard a ship again!
At this, Viconia commented, I, for one, found it quite pleasing to see you pale and
leaning over the side like a forlorn sailor. I would have pushed you overboard if I didnt
think Tamarth would object.
Hmph, growled Korgan. I would respond to yer comment with me axe if the mere
thought of movin didnt make me stomach roil. Begone, and count yerself lucky this
time!
Yes, Saemon Havarian, said Bodhi, she being on deck since it was dark, it was
particularly wiley of you to distract those other ships we saw in the distance. I take it that
your signals in the night were some type of warning?
Yes, well, I thought they might be pirates, said Saemon, so I merely displayed a
series of lights that mirrored their own. I wished to appear as though I was one of their
own.
A masterful job of camouflage: It seemed that they truly believed your signal meant
there would be trouble if they attacked.
Astutely determined, Mistress Bodhi, said Yoshimo. The scoundrel clearly hides
his true intent.

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He is to be admired for one thing, said Bodhi. He hides his associations well. Not
all can make claim to such.
Ah, well, one must always be prepared for such elements upon the sea, Saemon
replied heartily. Fortunately they are short of wit, though long of blade. Regardless, you
are now safely at your destination, and I shall cheerfully take my leave of you. It has been
a pleasure, Mistress Bodhi.
I shall need a guide about town. Perhaps you would accompany us for a while?
Tamarth asked Saemon.
An excellent idea, Tamarth, agreed Bodhi. In fact, was that not part of our
original deal, Saemon? Yes, I think it was.
Ofof course, Mistress Bodhi, Saemon consented reluctantly, it had merely
slipped my mind for the moment.
Luckily I reminded you. Saemon will tell you what you need to know of this place,
Tamarth. I have business of my own I must attend to. Find out how to safely breach the
asylum and rescue your comrade, Imoen. I shall await the inevitable ruckus and meet you
afterwards. Good luck, Tamarth. I look forward to our next meeting.
Bodhi left the ship.
Mistress Bodhi does have a way of making her words cut you with their very
vowels, hmm? commented Saemon, staring after her. A heart of gold, though only
because it has been ripped from her chest and gilded such.
How do you know of her? You do not seem like her usual lackeys, asked Tamarth.
In fact, he had begun to appreciate that Saemon was much more subtle than his exterior
indicated.
I met her some years ago, when I was in the unfortunate position of being held by
the constabulary of Zazesspur. She effected my release in exchange for a favor. I have
worked with her and her brother on occasion since then, though I am mostly left to my
own meanderings. I have been well paid for helping you. Enough of this for now, I must
carry out my duties and see to your entrenchment within the town. Step close, for there
are neer-do-wells at each turn. The tavern is the surest place to find what you need.
They followed Saemon to a nearby tavern.
Herein you shall find what you need, he said. I will go no further, lest I be
recognized and harm your efforts. The Vulgar Monkey Tavern should hold what you are
looking for. I shall return to my ship and leave you to whatever trials you must face. My
best advice is to be polite to all you meet here.
Is that all the help you can give? I do not know this place at all, protested Tamarth.
I have a name about this town, that is not spoken in polite company. My presence
would prove more hindrance than help. Wise thought dictates I return to my vessel, and
scan the horizon foranything that might prove troublesome. The vantage from my
hammock is the best, I think.

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Bah! Fine! Leave us! said Edwin. As if we care what your reputation might be!
Ive half a mind to turn you into a slug and show you what I do with lackeys who fail
me!
Speak with Sanik inside, said Saemon, ignoring the interruption. He has little love
for me, but there is scant about this town that does not pass his notice.
They entered the tavern, allowing Saemon to return to his ship. Sanik was inside.
Unfortunately, an assassin appeared and killed him before they could get any useful
information.
We almost had the information we needed! said Edwin in frustration after they
killed the assassin as well. The assassin could have waited ten seconds and we could
have cared less!
Tamarth carefully questioned the owner of the tavern, as well as others present in the
common room. He learned of two ways he might enter Spellhold. One possibility was the
Cowled Wizards representative in the town. The other was the pirate lord of the town,
Desharik, who had the power to commit people to the asylum. Tamarth decided to try
Desharik. He managed to gain entry to his house by bribing the guard at the door.
What is the meaning of this intrusion? Who are you? said Desharik at their
intrusion.
Tamarth is my name. He resolved to convince Desharik he was insane. For once,
he missed Minsc. If Minsc was here it would have been easy to convince Desharik to
commit them.
What is it that you think you want here? asked Desharik.
I need you to send me to Spellhold! I must be sent there!
Spellhold? Why would you want to go there? Hardly a sociable place for decent
folk
II need to be admitted. I needI need help. I need to be confined.
You wish me to have you thrown into the asylum? That is certainly an odd request,
though not in itself an indication of madness. What are you trying to accomplish? I can
indeed have people committed to Spellhold, but why would you request it?
Because I must be confined. I can feel myself losing my grip on reality.
And this makes you a threat to yourself? I know a great deal of people that do not
know their arse from a hole in the ground. They function reasonably well.
I have delusions! I dream of godhood, that my father was a deity!
Do you now? I am no student of the mind, but perhaps these are just your wishes to
become more than you are?
I feel as though I am in a fight for myself! Like I must battle my own thoughts!
Tamarth, interrupted Yoshimo, as much as I would like to act out this game, I
think I should speak and hurry this up. We must arrive at the asylum soon. Very soon.

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Very well, if you think you know what to say, said Tamarth, surprised and
chagrined by his intervention.
Desharik! Hold a moment! said Yoshimo. Certainly you would have cause to
allow me to go to the asylum. I am, after all, the famous Yoshimo. Yoshimo.
YoYoshimo, repeated Desharik. Well, that is a name that I have heard recently.
So youseek entrance to the asylum, do you?
Yes, yes I do. It is important that I speak with those inside. Tamarth is aiding me.
I see. Well then, I suppose I have no further objection to letting you go there. Of
course, just to protect myself, I will send you under the guise of madness.
However you wish. Just so long as we get there.
Im sure. You will be on your way shortly then. Give the asylum coordinator my
regards when you arrive.
Thank you, I will not forget this.
All right, whats going on here, Yoshimo? asked Tamarth.
Its an embarrassing story that I wont get in to. Suffice to say that Mister Desharik
probably thinks that he owes me from a previous debt. Nothing serious.
If that is what you wish to say, then so be it, said Desharik. You are ready to go, I
assume?
Tamarth didnt believe Yoshimos story, but he was going where he wanted to be, so
made no protest for the moment. Yes, take us now.
Then you are on your way, and may the gods have mercy on you when you arrive. I
wouldnt wish the place on anyone. Well, anyone I like.
Desharik left the room. Tamarth didnt know what signal he passed, but shortly the
room about them spun, the walls slowly vanishing as a gray mist formed. When the mist
cleared, they were in Spellhold. The party was in two adjacent, locked cells. It was up to
the masters of Spellhold to make the next move.
Viconia was in the same cell as Tamarth. As they waited, they talked.
Hmmm, murmured Viconia, I am wondering this: do you ever entertain the
notion of marriage?
Of course I have. Who doesnt? said Tamarth, although he had last thought of it
before he knew he was a child of Bhaal, which seemed like another life.
I dont mean necessarily merely settling down. I mean a union witnessed by
sacrament and ritual, such as is custom amongst your kind. To commit to one person in
all manner? It seems a bizarre internment to me, tantamount to slavery.
Thats not necessarily true, Viconia. Marriage can be a splendid union. Tamarth
himself had never met a woman he would care to spend more than few passing moments
with, that is, until he had met Viconia.

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From what I have seen, surface custom is not so different from ours. Of course,
Drow culture allows for husbands to be disposed of and replaced.
I take it that you dislike our form of marriage, then?
Perhaps. I havent devoted much thought to it, though Ive noticed that the role of
male and female are reversed here on the surface.
Any man who gains your affection is one who would do well to watch his back,
noted Tamarth. Actually, he found Viconias unwillingness to be submissive in any way
one of her most attractive qualities. Usually.
Well put, Tamarth. I am not so insipid as not to realize that things are different here
on the surface, however.
They were interrupted by the rattle of a key in their door. The door opened, to reveal
a dwarvish attendant. The dwarf spoke to everyone in the room.
Proceed to the recreation area. Enjoy your time out; you go back under key when
night comes.
What is this place? asked Tamarth, wondering if there were different sections for
different types of inmates.
What is this place? Strange question coming from you, replied their warder,
misunderstanding. It was my understanding that you wanted to be confined here. But I
suppose you ARE out of your mind, so I will explain. This is Spellhold, I am Lonk, you
are an inmate, and this is recreation time. Frolic, if you please. You will find this time is
the most relaxing of the day. Examinations may follow, and you will want to be well-
rested.
Who are all of these people here? asked Tamarth.
Mages mostly, driven insane by the energy they tried to unleash, or the energy they
were made to unleash once here. Result is the same. Of course, some were a little crazy to
begin with. I think you have to be crazy to be a wizard. Too much energy in the head.
And your job here?
My job? Taking care of crazies like you. Making sure you dont go and hurt
yourselves with your deviant powers. And cookies, I make cookies.
Do you know of an inmate named Imoen?
Imoen? I think so. Hard to say. There is a girl here that used to answer to that. Dont
think she remembers it anymore. Shes down the hall. Be careful though; she almost
killed two other inmates the other day. Shes got a vicious streak that is downright scary.
Do you know of an inmate by the name of Irenicus?
Irenicus? How do you know that name? Hmm, no matter. Youll be seeing him
soon enough. He sees everybody.
How does someone get out of here?
The quick way? Dying. Actually, so far thats been the only way. Unless you have
friends high up in government. Otherwise, get used to the place.

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Thank you. I guess Ill join the others.


You go do that, and try to relax. The warden will be by soon enough. Then cookies.
Oh, please try to stay away from Wanev. Hes very excitable. Still sore about losing his
position here. I tell him he shouldnt dwell on it, but hes quite inconsolable.
The party exited the two cells, joining together in the hall. Also present was a young
woman, who Tamarth later learned was called Aphril Foreshadow.
What? What do you want? Aphril said, although she didnt seem to be addressing
any of them. I see you! I see you all!
What? What do you see? asked Tamarth.
Everythingeveryone! Across the planes! All the time! My eyes do not close when
closed! And they are next to you, and me, and everyone! Always! More and more
creatures from everywhere and everytime! Never alone, even when alone. You just
cannot see!
It is a weakness on her part, commented Edwin. A superior mind could handle
such a gift.
Ha! A pity we do not have one here! replied Viconia scornfully.
Edwin sighed, muttering. (Its aggravation like this that will eventually cause me to
fireball the entire party as they sleep. Yes indeed, everyone peaceful and quiet and then
FOOM!)
That would bring nothing but ruin! I can see things, cried Aphril, things beyond
the veil. Its all the same to my eyes. Do you wish to see! I can show you for a moment!
Touch nothing! Make not a sound! See what lies between!
For an instant, the party could see three shadowy demons about them, moving
through the walls and themselves. Intriqued, Tamarth tarried to listen to more of Aprhils
babbling.
I seea walking corpsehe speaksto a pillar of skulls? See, it is madness!
I seea city of changing streets under the Lady of Pain. My eyespluck out my
eyes.
I see kingdoms in the mind that seem so real. Are they are real to those living there?
I dont know.
I seea placecoming soonwhere there isnever winterwhere people have
controlover their own stories.
Neverwinter? Tamarth thought that was a city, or perhaps a country. Maybe he
would visit it some day.
Tamarth choose one direction down the corridor. A door opened into a small room;
two men were inside. When Tamarth entered, one of the men addressed him, who he later
learned was the bard Naljier Skal.
Hellohave you come to play? I like to imagine stories of far away. Farther than
you can seeor should.

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Do they treat you well here? asked Tamarth.


They take my pretties. and the exams hurt. Questions about the far awayI dont
want to go back far away.
How do you come to be here?
How do we come to be anywhere? I asked that once. Looked all the way beyond the
starspretty stars. Shouldnt look so farit looks backbut now I dont care. I collect
my pretties. Shiny thingspretty
Hes speakin o gems and such, I just know it, said Korgan, his avarice aroused.
A pity ye cant pry into the head o the madman.
I used to have my pretties. Some are hiddenwhere only I can see. Want to see?
Many many prettiespiled high beyond the sky. Naljier sighed, and reached out to drop
something in Tamarths hand. To his surprise, it was a diamond.
Tamarth tried to ask the other man in the room a question.
What?! What do you want?! he said. Stand up straight! I want that report by
dawn! I want this hall cleaned! Dont you stare at me! Hehehehe, its alright. Tired of
working here wanted a holiday was thinking of retiring probably going to die! Time to
move on under downdown down.
Did you just say that you used to work here? Why are you with the inmates? asked
Tamarth, wondering if this was the Wanev Lonk had mentioned.
Shut up! No questions! Make an appointment! The Coordinator speaks to no one!
No onespeaks the coordinator
Surrounded himself with weakness and he finally succumbed to it, noted Viconia
dismissively. Trust in a male to make such a mistake.
Memos! I must direct the asylum from here! suddenly said Wanev. Take a memo!
Yes, that ought to clear everything up.
He rapidly wrote on two slips of paper, then handed them to Tamarth. Tamarth
looked at the notes, but the words on it made no sense. They didnt appear to be in any
language, just groupings of random letters.
Tamarth and the others left the room. The corridor ended in a small room, chairs and
a couch arranged to allow for socializing. One figure was in the room, an aged elf.
You! Do I know you? cried the figure. No, I dont know anyone! Back! Bad dog!
Play dead! No more tests! No more questions! No more! Back! Bad dog! Youve the rank
smell of Golodon the Unmanned. Bastard!
I know of this man, but from where? said Jan. I cannot recall. His voice was
puzzled, and his lips pursed, as if trying to lay hands on some memory just out of reach.
I shouldnt wish to alarm anyone, said HaerDalis, but I just wanted to point out
that Jan has failed to produce a story. Can the apocalypse be far?
Good, said Korgan. End the world or shut him up. Whichever is quicker.

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Jan just hrmphed at these comments. Tamarth later learned this inmate was named
Dradeel, which made Tamarth wonder if there wasnt more truth in Jans stories than he
had credited.
One has lots of time for reflection while waiting for the, started the elf, then
without pause his voice rose to a shout, ENDLESS WAVES OF BAD DOGGIE WEREWOLF MONSTERS
THAT CHEW YOUR TOES WHILE YOU SLEEP!!

Personally, he continued in a normal voice, I spend the time reconstituting


culinary delights from my childhood. Would you like a recipe? Something from my
mother.
He handed Tamarth a recipe. It was for a sweet called Monkey Balls. The recipe
also listed a poem to go with the serving, credited to an Ergo the organ-grinder. With a
smile, Tamarth recited the poem.
These sweet and gracious monkey balls,
Served on plates and sold from stalls,
Bring madness to these hallowed halls
Of urban academe.
Huzzaks for chocolate monkey balls!
Well eat them til the ceiling falls,
Til Time, herself, tears down these walls
Of urban academe.
So buy yourself a monkey ball,
Savour it and then stand tall,
A bulwark gainst the deafning call
Of urban academe.
Tamarth was rewarded by several winces from HaerDalis as he recited. Since they
had reached one end of the corridor, they retraced their steps. In another cell past the two
they had arrived in they found a young girl. Tamarth later found she was named Dili.
Hello. You are new, said Dili. Those your faces? Funny. Maybe change them.
What do you mean by change them? asked Tamarth. Whats wrong with my
face?
Nothing. Dont you change your face? Thats ok, Ill take it and change it for you.
Dont worry, you can keep it too. Who are you today?
Tamarth is my name.
Ok, Ill be Tamarth tomorrow. Ive seen you, so now I can take your face. Dont
worry, you can keep it too. I like taking puppys face, but it scares him. Hes not here
though.
Dili tapped her chin with her finger. This face is boring. Now Im The child
screwed up her face in concentration.
Ooooh, now Ima bear! A brown bear stood in front of them.

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Tamarth backed out of the cell, continuing down the corridor. Two cells further
down he found Imoen.
Whowhos that? Keep back. Keep back! cried Imoen when Tamarth entered her
cell.
Imoen, its Tamarth. Im here to rescue you. Do you remember? Tamarth said
levelly, hoping she would recognize him and calm her fears.
Who is Imoen? I dont know that name, said Imoen. I dont know that name!!
Shes not here!! Get away from me!! IllIll kill you!! Ill rip your eyes from your
filthy faces!!! Do not tempt my wrath!! Do notIshes not here. I do not know that
name. Imoen menaced him with her hands, apparently ready to try and remove his eyes
with her nails.
Well, that was interesting, said Tamarth, retreating from the cell. Somehow I
envisioned our reunion as moreheroic.
I seeyesI see, Imoen said dreamily, sitting down on her bunk, forgetting her
visitor. Shes not hereSomeone else will come
Two tears suddenly ran down Imoens face. She started speaking again, in a low,
saddened voice. I willsee death comeso empty inside. I feelI feel weak.
Tamarth questioned Lonk again, but other than the names of the inmates he learned
nothing of interest. He returned to his cell, to await developments. While he waited he
examined the notes he had been given by Wanev. There was a peculiar regularity about
the groupings of letters that bothered him. He fiddled with different theories, until he
suddenly realized what he had been missing. If one assumed the notes were in cipher,
each letter replaced by a different letter, then it should be possibleYes, he was able to
make out some words. Rapidly, he converted each grouping of letters into a word. He had
the notes deciphered. He read them, then cursed. The first note read:
My pantaloons are full of weasels. Inform the Queen so that she might shoo them
away. Here we go round the mulberry bush. Go monkey GO!
The second note read:
You think I am crazy, but they want you to think that. I know secrets. Keep the
pantaloons. Always keep the pantaloons.
As Tamarth stared at the notes, Irenicus suddenly walked through the door of his
cell. A voice from his pack, his familiar, said You want my advice? Id say youre
screwed, boss. But thats just my opinion. You can go ahead and do whatever you want.
Irenicus spoke. I see you have made yourself at home. I didnt think you would feel
out of place here. Dont look so surprised. You must have expected to find me near your
Imoen.
You are foolish to approach me so brazenly! cried Tamarth. No wonder you are
in this asylum!

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Oh, Im not incarcerated. No, I am the new coordinator, and you are in my care
once again. It is fortunate you arrived when you did. I am eager to resume my
experiments, and was growing tired of waiting.
What are you talking about? Is this another Cowled Wizard trick? replied Tamarth,
suddenly dreading the turn the conversation had taken.
The Cowled Wizards no longer run the asylum. With Bodhis aid I was able to take
control quite quickly. She is a fine sibling, if a touch predatory.
Youll pay for what youve done, Irenicus! I owe you a great debt of pain! cried
Tamarth, surging to his feet.
You are intent on revenge or justice or whatever, but I dont really care. You cant
do anything I dont wish you to. Yoshimo, I trust everything is as I instructed?
What is he talking about, Yoshimo? said Tamarth, rounding on the thief.
TThings are not as they seem, Tamarth, Yoshimo said, his eyes looking at the
floor, and for that, I apologize. I can offer no explanation that you would find
sufficient.
You have done as you must, Yoshimo, said Irenicus. I have seen to it. Now, is
everything as I asked?
Y-yes, Master Irenicus, just as you wanted it, obediently replied Yoshimo.
Traitor! You know this evil creature?! stormed Tamarth.
No traitor, Tamarth, said Irenicus. He has proven exceptionally loyal through all
of this. Loyal to me.
I apologize, Tamarth, repeated Yoshimo. There are circumstances that you are
not aware of.
I know well the proper punishment for those called traitor to their kind, said
Viconia. You will have as much mercy as I have been shown, Yoshimo. Olot dos,
walking corpse.
Even a paladin slick as the morn would think ye no better than a worm, Yoshimo!
yelled Korgan, drawing his axe. I vote we gut this fool thief!
Rest assured, a Red Wizard lets no debt go unpaid, added Edwin, and you,
Yoshimo, have just earned more pain than you thought possible.
Contrary to popular perception, commented Jan, the recipe for Jansen Family
Fertilizer, which aerates while killing the East Tethyr turnip-eating Digbeetle, was not
given freely to the public, rather smuggled out for profit by a third-cousin we USED to
have. Traitors in the family are the worst kind.
Interesting, drawled HaerDalis. An uncertain path opens as the party fractures
beneath us. Destruction that was inevitable, though the source is most surprising. Alone
among the party, he was not angry, but fascinated by the disaster they were facing.
I cannot give a reason that will satisfy, said Yoshimo weakly. Your wrath will
come, regardless.

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I will survive this, despite what you think you had to do, growled Tamarth.
You may be disappointed, but I am well pleased, said Irenicus. My servants have
proven to be artists with herbs, as well with deception. Your meals aboard ship were
prepared exactly to my specifications.
I will fight you! You will pay for this!
You will find you are powerless. I have taken precautions that you will not be
damaged. Your rage is for naught. There is no battle; no heroics. Only sleep.
Irenicus cast a spell. As Tamarth felt sleep claim him he had time to think he had
been outmaneuvered, he had done exactly as his opponent desired.
Tamarth awoke. He was confined in a clear tube. The room about him was some sort
of magical laboratory. More tubes lined the walls, each containing a figure. Obviously
this was where some of the missing Shadow Thieves had ended up. Irenicus faced him.
Tamarth was not surprised to see Bodhi also in the room. She had played him well. The
traitor Yoshimo was also present.
It would seem that my visitor has awakened, said Irenicus. It is as I predicted. It
all has been. I fear I have had an advantage over you. I have planned your coming from
the start. It could be no other way. Had you known of Yoshimo, things might have been
different, but a spell component slipped into a soup will still get anyone in the end.
I have yet to make a judgement on that subject, said Tamarth. Im sure all your
words are lies.
It was his suggestion, really. A fine way to retrieve you unharmed. Of course, your
safety is no longer a concern at this point.
Yoshimo protested, I did not spend so much time in Tamarths company just to
have him killed. That could have been done a dozen times over.
And why didnt you! stormed Tamarth. You will regret not slitting my throat
when you had the chance!
Dont make this harder than it already is, Tamarth, said Yoshimo. I cant help
you. There are circumstances that you are not aware of.
The excuse of a betrayer. The cowards way out.
Yes, yes it is the cowards way out. What of it! What choice do I have when the
alternative is death, no matter where I go or what I do! My service was promised long
before I was called on to do this! I did not know what would come! I did not know what a
filthy creature Irenicus truly was. I did not!
Quiet yourself Yoshimo, and quit babbling about death, said Irenicus. You are
quite safe now, and my plans for Tamarth go beyond simple murder. You will see soon
enough. But dont worryyou wont have to think about any of this or that. Your life
ends today.
What are you doing, Irenicus! What is all of this? demanded Tamarth.
That is not for you to know. Suffice to say that I regret what must occur. I know the
rage you will feel once I am done. I seek the death of others for similar reasons. Dont

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worry, Imoen has already suffered what she must for my cause. She even survived, and
this bodes well for you. You are stronger, more focused, and you are *aware*.
Aware? Aware of what?
Aware of what you are, child of Bhaal. You are aware and she is not. That makes
you more able to focus. You didnt know?
Are you suggesting that she is a child of Bhaal as well? asked Tamarth in disbelief.
That is just not possible.
You must have suspected. Perhaps she felt no symptoms, but the taint was there.
She is a similar age, and was apparently secluded as a child, just as you were. This
Gorion of yours should have told you about yourselves early on. You might have learned
not to fear what you are. Imoen is indeed a child of Bhaal. I suspect her innocent charm
and humor suppressed the darkness. She showed no symptom because there was no place
for shadow in her spirit. I had to show her some very dark shadows indeed. It is
unfortunate that it had to be done, but it was necessary to get what I needed. Now I must
focus on you.
I am strong, strong enough to stop you! blustered Tamarth, having been left with
nothing but empty threats.
No Tamarth, you are not. It is much more likely that you are about to die.
Unfortunate, but unavoidable. Do you see the Shadow Thieves in the other chambers?
They are the fruits of Bodhis guild war, and their deaths shall force the divine soul from
you. Dont be afraid, Tamarth. I suspect this will be mercifully quick.
Tamarth panicked. This time, there was no escape. This might be the end, the end of
everything. He looked around the room, anxious for a hope, for anything. His eyes
fastened on his late companion. Yoshimo! Its not too late! Help me! he begged.
It is too late, Tamarth, said Irenicus. He cant help you. Ive ensured it, and you
will soon be beyond it all anyway.
At a gesture from Irenicus the Shadow Thieves began to die, one by one. As the last
thief died, Tamarth felt something moving within himself, something parting, something
that was never meant to be separated from his body except in death. Tamarth lost
consciousness.
***
Tamarth stood facing Imoen, in Candlekeep, his former home. He knew he must be
dreaming, because this Candlekeep had gaps in it, gaps in which nothing but blackness
was visible.
Donot fight, said Imoen, to fightis to losecome to mefind me
I do not trust you! This is another trick! Tamarth yelled at her, confused,
wondering what Irenicus was up to.
Little timeyou cannot fight aloneto fight is to losefind mewithinfind me
within

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Imoen vanished. Tamarth considered what Irenicus had said about Imoen. Perhaps, if
she was now also an aware child of Bhaal, she was somehow trying to help him.
Tamarth stumbled forward, towards the main keep of Candlekeep. A demon blocked
his way. It spoke.
This path is to the corethe depths of your soul. Only through sacrifice can you
achieve such insight. Do you give of yourself that you will know yourself? Do you let go
of what you are, that you might see from a distance? Choose what you will sacrifice to
know yourself, to walk within. Give of your skill, your health, your mind, your wits, or
your youth.
With a cry of rage Tamarth attacked the demon. His blows passed though its body,
without effect. When he tried to move forward, the demon blocked his progress, its form
suddenly solid enough to stop him. He had no choice but to give in.
I give of my wits and the wisdom I have learned, said Tamarth, offering what he
valued the least.
Then you shall come to know yourself through your mistakes, when you
undoubtedly falter with foolishness. A fool can learn much that a scholar does not see.
You shall know more of yourself through what you have lost. A gesture of your intent
within. Pass as you should, and do not fear what comes.
The demon disappeared, allowing Tamarth to enter the keep. The shelves of books in
the large room he was in was much as he remembered it, but the main stair in the center
of the room twisted like a corkscrew as he looked up it. He continued towards the back of
the room, where he found Imoen.
II can see you there, said Imoen. Waitand we can win
What are you doing here? Last I saw you were incapacitated.
Shhhhbefore the shadows return to meI have seen what is to comeOne alone
cannot fightTogether we must battleyour instinctAlone you would fallwhether
you win or losebut here, in my sightwe can defeat itLead the creature herelead
it to me, and we shall fight it together. Togetherhe does not expect us togetherbut he
has shown me howGo, and lead the beast hereit is your only chanceand my
last
Not sure what Imoen wanted, still he obediently left the keep. He wandered the
grounds until he encountered a familiar figure. Sarevok. But somehow he knew Sarevok
represented the essence of the dead god Bhaal.
Fall to your knees! You can do no other! yelled Bhaal-Sarevok. I am within you!
I am your essence!
What do you want here? asked Tamarth.
What do I want? Your life, your soul, your body! I am the instinct that will fuel the
father! I am the blood!
You wish to battle within me? Catch me if you can! Tamarth took off at a run back
towards the keep.

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You cannot run from yourself; you cannot defeat yourself! Bhaal-Sarevok
followed him, still yelling. I am the blood! I am the instinct!
Tamarth, trailed by his pursuer, entered the keep, returning to Imoen. She cried out at
his appearance, Now! It is in my sight! I will add my will to yourshe has shown me
how to make it vulnerable!
Tamarth fought Bhaal-Sarevok, stabbing it again and again with his blade. The
creature he fought cried out in frustration, I am your instinct, yet you deny me! Fight me
within your own mind! I should devour you! How do you stand!
Tamarth continued to fight, striking several more times. The building he was in
suddenly seemed to shudder, matched by a tremor inside himself. He felt as if he was
being ripped apart. When he looked up, Bhaal-Sarevok was gone, but his voice still
echoed.
I senseyour soulit has taken form to guide from within! You are strange among
your kin! But itit is weak and will not help again! You are empty inside! There is
nothing withinbut the instinct!
Tamarth felt the pain again, as if he was being ripped apart. He looked to Imoen,
who cried, Something is wrongInonot again! Not again! AraughHHHHH!!!

Soulless
Well! You are a strong one indeed! said Irenicus. You resist beyond all reason! A
pity you are dead on the inside.
Tamarth realized he was still in the laboratory of Irenicus. He muzzily remembered
Imoens aid in defeatingsomething. Yoshimos treachery was for naught. I have
defeated your little beastie.
I dont know what you faced while mired within the spell, but here in the world of
the living my plans have gone just as I wished. I have drained you, drained you of the
very thing that made you special. It is the worst of curses, and I should know.
Tamarth shook his head, becoming more aware of his surroundings. He felt weak,
and still slightly dazed. But his anger burned hotter than ever, buoying him up. I will
have revenge for what you and Yoshimo have done!
I have no doubt you would, but you are no longer a living threat. I have taken your
very divinity, and drained you of your soul. The curse that was wrought against Bodhi
and I has now ceased and yours has begun. You will wither, you will wane, and you will
die. Bodhi! Remove this nothingand Imoen as well. We are restored at their expense
and need them no longer. Our revenge to come is now all the sweeter.
As you would have it, my brother, said Bodhi.
Of course. See to it as quickly as possible. I will tell our friends in the dark of our
coming. We will plan our assault from here. I bid you farewell, child of Bhaal. We shall
not meet again.

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Tamarth could barely resist when Bodhi told two of her vampiric servitors to remove
him from the tube. She led the servitors through several hallways, and down a level. She
stepped out onto a ledge, overlooking an open area below. She motioned to her followers,
who dragged Tamarth forward. At her command, the servitors threw him from the ledge
to the floor below.
When Tamarth arose, he noted the other members of the party were present, Viconia,
Jan, Korgan, HaerDalis and Edwin, as was Imoen. Everyone had their equipment; even
his was in a pile on the floor. As he wondered about this Bodhi addressed them from
above.
And so your life does come to an end. A pity. You have proven resilient beyond all
expectation. It isappealing to me.
Tamarth snarled as he replied, Spare me your words and do as you have been
ordered. Like a good girl.
Irenicus does indeed wish you dead, but I am not his lapdog and you are now
subject to *my* will. Your taunts will foster no resentment towards my brother, but I also
need not obey him just yet. Your abilities have piqued my interest, and since you are to
die, I would have you do it in an entertaining fashion. Irenicus can be so dour when he
wishes. He is set upon revenge for his banishment, and can think of nothing else. A
failing of his mind remaining flesh, I suspect. Undeath has given me focus, and an
interest in the abilities of powerful creatures. An interest in you. I will make your death
glorious, as well as entertaining.
Do your worst, Bodhi. I do not fear you.
You should. You must run my gauntlet to prolong your life. You must do so
knowing you have but the slimmest chance to make a difference. Do you see this passage
before you? It is the darkest part of the asylum and its history: a test of clarity for its
prisoners, by a director that delighted in dissecting the mind. Now he is under my
influence, and this place is mine to control. It is a masterpiece of madness, one that you
will come to know intimately. It has been some time since I have given chase to a worthy
foe. Enter the maze of this place and seek an exit. I give you time to run, after which I
will come to feed. But you are not running solely for my benefit. I give you reason as
well, to make the hunt more desperate. You may yet foil Irenicus, though the chance is
small. His plans will take time, just about as long as my hunt. Run my gauntlet and your
life endsor is freed. The hunt begins. Bodhi disappeared from the ledge above him.
Imoen came over to Tamarth. Are you all right? I was so scaredyou came all this
way to get me and we were almostIm sorry Tamarth, I was just so worried
Never mind that. Are you hurt? What did he do to you? asked Tamarth.
II dont know, really. Same thing he did to you, I guesssince werethe same?
Tamarth, he showed me what you are andwhat I am. And then he took it away. I dont
know who I am now, Tamarth. You may not feel it yet, but the spell for me made me feel
hollow. He took something vitalhe says it was my divine soul? I find out Im a child of
a god and now Im empty and dying. You are too

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I am strong, and I will not waste away, Tamarth said. I survived the fight in the
dream, didnt I?
The dream? Tamarth, I had no dream during my ritual. Just blackness, and my will
draining away. Has this affected you different than me? You have been dealing with the
Bhaal essence longerperhaps you are more focusedOr perhaps it is more focused
upon you.
What do you mean? We are the same now that you are aware. Arent we?
I dont know. You have described something very different than I experienced.
Whatever the case, we are faced with a similar fate for our mortal selves. I have been
getting weaker, Tamarth, and it has only been a few days since they performed the ritual
on me. If we dont reverse what was doneif we dont restore our soulswe will
probably both die.
Tamarth was surprised by Imoens admission. He had assumed her discovery that
she was another child of Bhaal would have strengthened her, but it appeared she was the
same weak individual he had always known. Imoen was his last link to his childhood, and
he intended to protect her. It would be too dangerous for her to travel with him.
I agree, but there is a problem. I am sorry, Imoen, but I have no room for you.
What? II know it has been some time since we traveled together, but am I
abandoned so easily? After all of this?
I tire of this whining! complained Edwin. If it makes this all the faster I will leave
myself and you can take the child! I will fare better than her, surely.
II might be able to sneak out alonepossiblyII dont know, finished Imoen
in a low voice.
I am sorry, said Tamarth. Please, be careful. I hope well meet again. He was
sure she would be safer on her own. Hadnt Irenicus already said he had no more interest
in her?
II will try to make it back toAthkatla, wasnt it? said Imoen. Theres an inn
therethe Copper Coronet? Ill try to make it there. I hope we will meet again, Tamarth.
I guess were sort ofsiblings
Tamarth started to put on his equipment. His familiar, still in his backpack,
commented, Well heck, I guess you just do what youre told, eh? Now, if youd listened
to me right off the bat, boss, you never wouldve gotten into this mess
Feeling sudden anger at the mephit, Tamarth pulled it from the pack, slapping it in
the head. The small creature reeled from the blow. HeeEEYY! Cripes! What wuz that
for?! I did everything you told me to, boss! Sheesh! Some people
Another slap sent it to the floor, frantically covering its head. Gaaah! Okay! Youre
the boss-man! YOU boss, ME just little follower! I get it!
Tamarth shook his head. He didnt know what was wrong with him. He was
normally able to make his anger serve him, not allow it to control him. He thrust the
mephit back into the pack. More important matters waited.

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Tamarth gathered the others together. As he did, Edwin commented, Bard, my


considered and correct opinion of actors is this: you are irresponsible, irrational, and
incapable of adult emotion without first reducing it to some banal personal, material, or
sexual credo. I can only make it my faintest hope that this definition doesnt include you,
as well.
As an actor, replied HaerDalis, it is mandatory to be able to express and convey
emotion, not be emotional. As for your inastute observation, a critic is a legless man who
teaches running to the fleet of foot.
At least I dont find it necessary to have others write my life for me or have its
mundane plot plagiarized from common sources.
No, but you do seem to require my validation by spouting a random insult where
none was deserved. Dwell on that while we fade.
Tamarth left the chamber, glad to know that the party seemed to be functioning
normally. As he started to walk down a corridor outside, his step faltered, his vision spun,
and he felt something was very wrong. For an instant he was conscious of nothing but the
rushing of his blood. The feeling passed, but far too slowly for his liking.
You look weak, said Viconia. Do not tell me you are withering already. I thought
you stronger than that.
StrangeI just kind of felt like I wasnt in complete control for a moment there,
commented Tamarth.
I see. Strange that Imoen seemed to have weathered the ritual better than you. Well,
I should like some warning if the condition continues. We need strong leadership through
the trials ahead, and if you are not up to it
Tamarth felt a flash of anger, and shook off her hand where it was supporting him.
He then glanced at her, wondering if it had been her intent to anger him, but her face gave
away nothing.
Tamarth and the others followed through the riddles that made up this maze,
gradually moving forward. Some time later, the party was walking along a corridor when
Bodhi and several vampiric companions ran into view ahead.
Here, mousey mousey, said Bodhi, the hunt draws to a close here and now.
I expected you to come, growled Tamarth. Youd be a fool to let me reach
Irenicus. Tamarth felt no fear, only a rage which had been growing with every step
through this labyrinth.
I know Im early, but I just couldnt bear to see you leave. You were amusing, but
the game is over. One last time, let our paths cross in blood!
Anger overwhelmed Tamarth, and he felt his control slipping as the evil beckoned to
him. He became the Slayera nine foot tall armored beast of destruction, great razored
claws and taloned feet.

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What is this?! said Bodhi in surprise. A creature of pure death and darkest
shadow! Child of Bhaal, what have you become?! Away! Irenicus must know of this! We
will observe from a distance!
Bodhi and her cohort fled. Tamarths blood slowly cooled, and mind and body were
reunited under his control. His will had faltered, and the essence of Bhaal was there to
take advantage. The void where his soul once was overflowed with murderous fury, the
mark of a deity that no longer existed. It was mindless and horrible to behold. The taint of
Bhaal had affected him differently than Imoen, reacting with his strength of will. He
would eventually lose himself unless his stolen soul was restored. A fate, as was said,
worse than death, and one that had not gone unnoticed by his comrades.
Vithir! Such power I have not seen! said Viconia. Tamarth, what manner of
creatureA Bhaal aspecta remnant of his avatar. That must be it. Tamarth, you
became a creature of pure murder.
Tamarth agreed with Viconia. But he needed to be able to control this new ability.
Tamarth had long experience living on the volcano. He used the heritage of his father to
further his own ends, always in danger of losing control and facing an eruption that
would allow his heritage to direct him.
Tamarth and the others settled down to rest, which they all badly needed. Tamarth
awoke suddenly, a pounding in his ears. A shock of pain passed through his body, and he
felt his mind slipping away, forced aside by the darkness within.
You look distastefully weak, ssinssrigg, commented Viconia, like you have seen
your own ghost. Are you well?
Be on your guard, Viconia, said Tamarth. I am not sure of myself.
Your lips move as a jesters, with no sound for me to hear. Do you mock me,
Tamarth? Tamarth, do you hear meno!
Tamarth lost control, again becoming the slayer avatar of Bhaal. When he recovered,
again in his own form, Viconia was by his side. She had taken several deep slashes; he
could only assume she had prevented him from attacking anyone else. Tamarth realized it
was time to move on. HaerDalis had an observation he offered to Viconia as they
gathered their gear preparatory to continuing.
I watch you, blackbird. I watch you and tis as if you are a dancer pinned between
two panes of glass called Bliss and Rage.
If I am a dancer, then I dance for Shar. Take your leering eyes and turn them
elsewhere, planesman.
And as for being pinned between those panes of glass?
I have loyalties that bind me, yesDo not make bravery your downfall, male.
Return to your world above: these depths are not for you. Izil phor, ji harl.
They had to pass through more tests designed by dead directors, answer more
riddles. But finally they won through. They climbed stairs to leave the maze. Tamarth
recognized the level they were on as that which housed Irenicus laboratory. What
Tamarth didnt expect was to find Saemon Havarian waiting for them.

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There you are, said Saemon. I see that you have weathered the storms of this
place with reasonable pluck and health. It does me good to see you alive.
I face treachery at every turn! Tell me why I shouldnt kill you!
Such hostility, and I wager it is well earned. It is, however, misdirected. I do not
wish to be your enemy here. Irenicus pushes ever forward, though I cannot see how I will
profit. The blade he gave me is hardly compensation. Better that this place were free for
the looting. I offer advice to foster a trust, and you may determine the value as you wish.
It is simple enough for the moment, and will save you in the long run.
Speak then, and I will listen.
Irenicus is a power, indeed. I have seen no chips in his armor of spells. You would
need an army to face him, and I suggest that there is one to be had. The inmates of this
place are a resource to be tapped. Release them and their anger and frustrations will strike
at Irenicus. That is my suggestion, and I leave the workings of it to you. Upstairs your
army awaits. Use it, or you will perish. Saemon vanished, evidently only having
projected his image to talk to them.
We have no need of support from mad wizards! said Edwin. We have enough
magiclet us attack Irenicus now!
I am loathe to listen too closely to the words of the human, said Viconia, but his
advice may be wise. Let us at least see if these mad wizards can be releasedand
harnessed.
Tamarth trusted the wisdom of Viconia more than that of Edwin. He realized he
could use whatever help he could get. He found more stairs, climbing them. At the top, he
realized he was on the level housing the inmates. Hurrying down the corridor towards
him was Lonk the Sane.
What? What are you doing here? cried Lonk. You should be in your cells with the
rest of the wackos! Lonk the sane takes care of you, but you had better show respect!
Everyone gets locked down tonight. Too many people getting agitated. Always happens
when the boss experiments. Makes them angry, I guess.
Open the cells, Lonk! Im releasing everyone! cried Tamarth.
Now just you wait a moment! Do you know what would happen if you released
these people all at once? Youre one of them, what would you do? Individually they can
be bullied around, but all together? They get too excited to control!
Thats just what Im hoping for. Release them all now!
Youre looking to be difficult, arent you? I can accommodate that. I dont watch
over this place because Im helpless.
Lonk attacked them, which was a mistake. From his body Tamarth took his key,
using it to free the inmates.
Now that we have released these lunatics we had best hurry to direct them, said
Viconia. Their madness may engulf us otherwise.
The inmates were gathered in the social room.

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Tonight I am someone free? said Dili. What face should I wear for this?
You will wear what face Tiax orders! Today he rules all! Tamarth recognized the
diminutive gnome, who he had not seen earlier. He had last encountered Tiax in Baldurs
Gate; if anything his megalomania had grown worse in the interim.
Silence yourself, diminutive one! cried Dradeel. Do you not hear the howling!
Around on all sides they are!
You will regret the day you crossed the will of Tiax! My conquest of all is not
something to be mocked!
Is that the rule of all you survey, or beyond? asked Aphril. What of those that
walk inside, and around, and through? That stand where you stand now?
None stand where Tiax stands, lest he walk atop them!
As I see you do now, and beneath others. Do you not see? See them inside and
behind and beyond!
N-noyou speak too much of what can be seen, protested Naljier Skal. I wish to
see only my pretties againI wont look too far, I promise
Bah! Tiax is surrounded by fools and madmen! Who is to blame for this outrage?
Whom shall Tiax smite!
Why, there is only one man that stands between you and your rule. Irenicus,
pointed out Tamarth.
Irenicus? asked Dili nervously. II took his face once. His punishment was
To look at him is to see too farI cannot look to him said Naljier Skal,
cowering.
He is cold through all the planes, declared Aphril, none walk where he does,
though they see him not.
I would prefer to face the dogs of fire themselves! yelled Dradeel. This Irenicus is
surely a tool of the Gibbering Twelve!
Heheheeeehe did this, Wanev suddenly added. He did this! I willWe must
find him! He is the cause! He is the one that brings the tests! I will not rest until his head
is mine and mine and mine alone!
Yes, yes, now would you crazies please just get downstairs! yelled Tamarth in
frustration.
Down to the dogs! Bad dogs! said Dradeel. Before any of the party had a chance to
prepare themselves, one of the freed inmates cast a spell. They were all transported
directly to Irenicus presence in the laboratory below.
What is this? said the surprised Irenicus. You have released all of my test
subjects? How wonderfully mad of you. I didnt expect this in the least, so dangerously
risky it is.
I am glad I amuse you, replied Tamarth. Now I will end your plans and your
life!

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As over-eager as ever, but your boasting is wasted on me. You are no threat, not
even with your army of madness. Your fate has been sealed with the curse I transferred to
you. I have the souls from both you and Imoen, and they have healed Bodhi and myself.
You will die in our place, or worse. Bodhi tells me you have exhibited atransformation.
With your will slowly fading perhaps the essence of Bhaal will rise to take you. That
would be a sight, I am sure.
Wanev cried, Ill take back what is mine now! Ill take it back! You perverted this
place and Ill take it back!
You tortured those here long before I arrived. I merely had more purpose to do it.
Bah, I speak with madmen when I should be at my revenge! Die! All of you! I have
restored myself and will work my revenge without your interference!
The former inmates concentrated their magical abilities on Irenicus. He was so busy
fending off their attacks he had little opportunity to use offensive magic of his own. The
combined magical onslaught slowly wore down Irenicus defenses, aided by the more
physical attacks of Tamarth and his party.
Irenicus finally called out in frustration, Damn you all, why do I fight over this
place when my plans may be laid anywhere! I must start anew! Have your victory here
then, but know that you are dying on the inside even now! Many will join you before I
am done! My home will feel my wrath! Here! Fight amongst the mindless assassins I
would sacrifice! I shall find others to serve my needs! This place is yours! I hope it is
your tomb!
Irenicus disappeared. Whether due to a backlash from the many potent spells cast in
such a confined place, a final spell of Irenicus, or a defense left by the builders of
Spellhold, all of the inmates were killed. Fortunately, no one in the party was affected.
As they looked to their hurts, the door to the room opened. Yoshimo strode in,
followed by a group of assassins.
There you are, I see, said Yoshimo. Why do you continue? You are dead inside
already. Irenicus has seen to it. I am left to finish your physical shell.
Yoshimo, how could you do this? We had traveled so long together, asked
Tamarth plaintively. Yoshimo had been one of the few members of the party Tamarth felt
he could rely upon, and his treachery cut deeply.
I cant fight it, Tamarth, I cant. I was in his service first, and all those that follow
him must undergo a Geas. I was willing at the timebut nowDo youdo you know
what happens when you try to defy a Geas? It hurtsit hurts and then you die. His spells
are powerful, Tamarth, so powerful.
You brought it on yourself. I dont think I can help you, said Tamarth grimly.
Yes, yes you can. I have but two options. A slow and painful death for failing to kill
you, or a swift one in battle, and may my heart find purchase with Ilmater for these sins.
No redemptions or second chances, let us get this over with! I stride into the hell that
Irenicus promised! Ilmater take my heart, I have no choice!

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The party fought off the assassins. Tamarth himself killed Yoshimo. At the end of
the battle Tamarth led the party from the room, desiring to rest, but not in the blood
soaked laboratory.
Viconia lingered behind. She knelt by the corpse of Yoshimo, using a knife to open
his chest, then removed his heart, placing it into a sealed container. She carefully cleaned
her hands, using Yoshimos garments and a little water. She stood, and left the room.
As they rested Tamarth dreamed. Imoen came to him, to speak of power, and
murder. Tamarth eagerly followed her instructions as she taught him to use the power
within. He ignored her comment that this was to prepare him to lose himself in that
power.
When Tamarth awoke, he was sure he could force the change to the slayer, and
control his actions while in that form.

Departure from Brynnlaw


Saemon Havarian had not forgotten them, as they found when they tried to leave the
asylum. Saemon, or his image, blocked them. Saemon spoke.
Gone and off like the shadow flees the morn. You arent going to let him fall away
so easy, are you?
Why would you encourage me so? You were in his service! protested Tamarth.
That I was, but only for the favors of Mistress Bodhi. Powerful people cast off
powerful things, and a blade of novelty to them is a fine sight to such as I. But she has no
doubt fled with her brother and master, leaving me to deal with the mess they have
abandoned. There is no profit in this for the likes of me. Besides, I know a little of his
plans through a peek or two at his journal. Its little enough, but I figure were all in
trouble if he isnt stopped.
What plans does Irenicus have? He has proven tightlipped so far.
No doubt he feels a villain is always undone in the exposition. I cannot say I blame
him. I have many a dead friend that boasted when silence would have served. From what
I saw of his journal and from overhearing chats with Bodhi, I know his destination to be
an elven city in the Forest of TethirSuldanessellar. What he plans on doing there,
exactly, I dont know, but he seems to expect to become more powerful than anything
than the gods even, and that cant be good. So I will offer my service to you, in the hopes
that we can benefit one another. Im sure you can understand the motives of self-
preservation.
What could you possibly offer me?
Of course I would not impose this upon you without a proper offering of peace. Let
me first inform you of the ways you may escape this place. Irenicus left by a magic
portalit could be trapped, and it may even lead into the Underdark. Not a safe place to
go. He sealed the doors, but I think I can get us to the surface. I suggest we go back to my
ship. I know where hes *headed*we may even cut him off.
That seems convenient. What is the catch?

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There are no secret conditions on my help. I merely seek your friendship, or at least
your pardon. I require allies if I am to survive.
I have no eagerness to return to my home realm, Tamarth, said Viconia. I am
unwelcome there. I say let us take the ship the pirate offers rather than brave its depths so
lightly.
So, will you try the portal or accompany me to the surface? Perhaps I will throw in
the blade I was paid, to show you my good intent.
Very well. Lead the way out and we shall take your ship.
A sensible choice. Allow me to use my magics to penetrate Irenicus wards, and
then teleport us to surface and sun.
Saemon gestured, and they found themselves outside the asylum. Saemon said,
Good to see your person well and sound. As you can see, the way is clear and we are
free. Now to the business at hand. Go about the town and get what supplies you need. We
shall meet at the tavern and make our plans for the voyage when you are ready.
As they headed back to town Viconia asked, I have been thinking about the divinity
that flows through your veinsDoes it fire your ambitions, Tamarth? Is there a lust
within you superceding mere passion, a desire to lord over others as a conqueror and
superior?
Yes, I intend to have power for myself, replied Tamarth.
You wish to have power, do you? II thinkI think it is disgusting that a lowly
male would desire to rise so far past his place. You are nothing like Shar or Lolth!
Being in a port, Tamarth thought of a sea-faring analogy to explain Viconia to
himself. She sailed into the winds of her inner demons, now tacking towards him,
encouraging him, now away, giving him the cold shoulder, but always making progress
towards her ultimate goal. Tamarth just hoped that goal included him.
Saemon Havarian was awaiting them in the tavern. I am glad to see you, though our
meeting is colored by the unfortunate events I must relate. I had hoped them settled, but I
am denied. I have no ship with which to offer passage. It has been scuttled in an act of the
purest malice. Such villainy I am subjected too!
I know a serpents tongue when I hear it. Viconia glared at the pirate. Even as
you offered us passage away from this island, you knew your ships fate. Why? What do
you need from us, male?
It does my spirit harm that you think I would try and cheat you of your rescue.
Perhaps I did not have my ship on hand, but my intentions were well and true. My sole
purpose is to find you transport, and by the luck of the draw, it is best done by procuring
me a new ship. We should hurry, lest enemies return.
And what would this plan of yours entail? asked Tamarth.
Well, the obvious course would be to exact a revenge of sorts to procure another
ship, and it just so happens that I have the perfect mark in mind. The Pirate Lord, who so

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maliciously disabled my vessel, has a perfectly serviceable ship of his own. If we could
make off with it, we would be set for sure.
Tell me more.
His ship is moored at the docks. Under cover of night we could take it most easy.
We simply have to make sure the sea gate is opened for the bay to be clear. If you could
get the horn that signals the gateman we could blow it at night and be gone before anyone
is the wiser.
That is your plan? What of guards? We will be seen for sure.
Nary an eye will turn towards us. Ships leave at all hours, especially the Pirate
Lords. His nefarious business often goes through the night. I will not be idle in this task
either. I will see to clearing the docks of those that would report us. Come now, what say
you to this?
It sounds possible. I will help as best I can. Give me the details of the task.
The matter is simple, though stealth will be required. The horn is ornate and
beautiful, and the Pirate Lord lets his lady, Cayia, keep it safe. Had I the luxury of time I
might try to woo her for it, as she is of suspect morality. So I have heard, at least. During
the day the horn is in the care of the well-guarded Pirate Lord, but at night it hangs in
Cayias room. Retrieve the horn from her abode under cover of darkness and come to me
aboard the ship by the docks.
Wont her pirate lover be there at night?
Possibly. You may wish to step lightly once inside her home. A risk, yes, but not as
risky as the dark of the portal beneath Spellhold.
All right, Ill do it. You get that ship ready though.
Yes, for your good, I shall add it to your incentive for a quick and stealthy action.
We shall be away with all haste, and you shall take this blade from me for services
rendered. Go now, and do what must be done.
Since it was already night, Tamarth left to steal the horn immediately. Once outside,
some of his companions expressed their doubts.
Wed best have a care, my raven, said HaerDalis. Yon pirate needs us to secure
his ship for now, but what assurances have we once we are on the open sea? Weve no
patrons threat, this time, to keep us safe.
Oh, sure, added Jan, were his best friends now that were going to go and steal
him a brand new ship and everything. And once we gotten it for him, you think hell still
be so nice? Reminds me of my cousin Bureaugarde. The most selfish gnome youve ever
seen, he wouldnt give you a spare turnip for anything. Well, okay there was that one
time he gave a turnip to Uncle Scratchy, but Uncle Scratchy had him held over a vat of
boiling ---
Viconia interrupted, Enough, you little buffoon. There is no need to club us over the
head with your point, we get it well enough.

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Well, fine. I just wanted to point out that Bureaugarde was eaten by a griffon that
was terrorizing the hillside and he gave the beast fatal indigestion. So sometimes even the
most selfish of us can still give.
Tamarth entered Cayias quarters, having jimmied the lock. She was not sleeping
alone. He smiled to himself when he realized her bedmate was not the pirate lord,
Desharik. Tamarth secured the conch horn, but a creaky floorboard undid him as he was
leaving. Cayia awoke, screaming when she saw the figure in her room.
Tamarth fled the house, joining the others outside. He hurried to Saemons newly
acquired ship. Once on board, Saemon heartily greeted him.
There you are, my friend. Have you secured the sea gate horn? I am eager to flee
this wretched isle.
Yes, I have acquired the horn. Here it is.
Very good indeed. I have convinced the men on board that they should accompany
me and they will ready the ship for launch. We will be underway long beforeWhat I
mean to say, is that the Pirate Lord will not arrive in time to stop us. That is who I meant,
in no uncertain terms. Hurry, we must away!
The crew hurriedly started to make preparations to sail. Before they could cast off
the lines holding them firmly to the dock Desharik appeared on the seafront, with Cayia
and a number of his men.
Simon Havarian! Desharik yelled, forcing his way on board using the unguarded
gangplank.
Oh hell. Saemon looked around for a place to hide. Ill be below deck securing
theahsomething.
Youll stand where you are, Havarian! Youve gone too far this time!
If I have wronged you in some fashion I am dreadfully sorry. I was not aware of
any offense
Your pretty words are wasted on me, cur, I have seen your like a dozen times over,
and buried them all! I am Lord of this isle, and yet you have undermined my authority at
every turn! Trading falsehoods, cuckoldry, and now my ship suffers your touch!
Kill the scoundrel, Desharik! demanded Cayia. His mouth will spew nothing but
lies!
Desharik turned on her. Your mouth is no better! How else would he have got the
gate horn if not by taking your company again!
B-butDesharik, dear, you know my feelings for you
Madam, you are a ravening ditch-pig. Desharik cut her down with his scimitar.
Desharik turned back to Saemon, grinning. You have brought me to the brink of
madness, Saemon Havarian, and now I will repay you!
Sir, replied Saemon gravely, you must believe that I am totally sincere when I say
Tamarth! GET HIM!

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Your lackeys will not save you! yelled Desharik, motioning his followers to attack.
Tamarth had watched this confrontation bemusedly, marveling at the audacity of
Saemon Havarian. Deshariks last words galvanized him into action. The pirate lord and
his men were swiftly cut down by the party, but more pirates were sure to arrive shortly.
Cast off! We set sail immediately! Saemon yelled to the crew. He walked over to
Tamarth, pulling something from a pouch at his side. As for you, Tamarth, I know you
are not one of my henchmen and I should not order you about so. As much as I do not
want to give it up, I have possessed this blade too long. It is yours, to cement our
friendship. Payment for a battle well-fought, and for many more to come!
Tamarth examined what Saemon held forth. It was part of the blade of a sword,
broken off close to where the hilt would have been attached. He could detect a magical
dweomer from it, but a broken blade would be of little use. If you wish, though I would
prefer gold.
Nonsense! It is a fine blade and you are more than deserving. I will take no other
answer than yes. Now let us cast off and go! We are free!
As the ship left the harbor, Viconia said to Tamarth, Please disregard the things I
said to you earlier. They were ill-conceived. Youyou are not drow and not worthy of
such insults.
Very well. Apology accepted.
Thank you, Tamarth. I shall attempt to be more guarded with my thoughts in the
future.
The seas were calm, but the voyage was tense, and Saemon spent much of his time
below decks. He acted as though he expected some great tragedy, and that by avoiding
Tamarth he could escape its influence. The course he had set was true though, and
Tamarth thought they would make the mainland in a few days. On the fourth morn, a ship
was spotted to the east, and a visibly shaken Saemon ordered a change of course. The
winds were against him however, and the other vessel made steady and remarkable
progress towards them. Saemon grew increasingly nervous, and rightfully so; the ship
looked odd, and Tamarth swore it might not even have been resting upon the water.
Inevitably it pulled alongside and revealed a crew like no other. Saemon ordered
everyone to have weapons at the ready
All right men, prepare yourselves to be boarded. All weapons ready. Saemon took
Tamarth by the arm, drawing him closer. Dont worry Tamarth, Im sure this wont be
any trouble at all.
Ready yourselves! he called to the crew. I know not who these ruffian pirates are!
Deshariks men, perhaps? Tamarth found his profession of ignorance unbelievable.
Saemon had paled in fear even before the owners of the strange floating vessel boarded
his ship. They had a yellow cast to their skin, their eyes were like flakes of jet, and they
wore strange angular garments and armor.
One of the strange invaders pushed forward to where Saemon stood. The Githyanki
demand! You have the relic of holies!

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Pardon? I am sorry, replied Saemon slowly, but I do not know what you are
talking about. Speak clearly that I might understand.
Understand! We see all that you do! Say mon HaVaran, you have trespassed and
taken what is not yours!
Please, the name is spoken with more of a flourish, and a good deal less spittle.
Your name will be spoken with blades for tongues! You took the relic of holies! We
will follow as we must!
Now who would be foolish enough to steal from the Githyankierif that is what
you are. I plead innocence, and demand you search me that I might prove it! Search all
aboard if you wish!
That is the intent! Inside and out!
Just a minute, here! I protest! yelled Tamarth. Saemon had obviously done
something to anger these Githyanki, and he didnt want to be drawn into it.
Now, Tamarth, youll have to trust me on this matter. I will provide for all those
concerned, Saemon whispered. He turned to the githyanki, boldly gesturing to include
the entire ship. Search away, Captain! Youll not find any such object on me. Although I
dont know about these ruffians on deck! I dont like the look of them. Give them a
thorough look!
Saemon! protested Tamarth, suddenly realizing the real reason Saemon had given
him the blade.
Just providing for those concernedme. My apologies, Tamarth.
The Githyanki shouted to his fellows. The Blade belonging to the Githyanki is
aboard! Detection does not lie! All will perish for this insult!
But you can search and take the true thieves! Take the whole crew if you must!
cried Saemon.
Examples must be set! None must tempt such a crime again! Destroy them all!
Saemon sadly shook his head. This just isnt a good tenday.
The party was forced to fight the githyanki, alongside Saemon and his crew. Saemon
gave a good account of himself against the githyanki captain, while Tamarth and the
others cut down many of the boarders.
Suddenly the ship shook. Deep groans could be heard from below, and the deck
suddenly tilted to one side.
Prepare to abandon ship! cried a sailor. She takes on water!
Humanoid creatures, finned and scaled, all but naked except for equipment belts,
began to climb over the railing from the sea.
A sailor cried out in terror. Sahuagin board us! This ship is doomed! Ready
yourselves for the water

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Saemon looked around, taking in developments. That would be my cue to leave.


Farewell, Tamarth! Good luck! Saemon disappeared in a burst of magical energy.
Sahuagin? I did not anticipate this. Back to the ship! ordered the githyanki captain.
The entire vessel quickly lilted to one side as cargo below deck violently shifted.
There was no chance to make for a lifeboat, and the party was thrown overboard; left
gasping for air in an undertow they could not escape. Pressure built as they were pulled
deep, and Tamarth wondered if his last sight would be the disappearing Saemon
Havarian, fleeing through some magical means, saving his own skin, as always.

Sahuagin
Sahuagin surrounded them as the party struggled in the water. Those not already
doomed to sink like a lead weight due to their armor were grabbed by sahuagin and
forced downwards. But rather than slowly asphyxiating, they could suddenly make out a
lighted city below them, covered by a crystal dome. They were forced to enter the dome,
which contained breathable air. Swiftly, their captors hurried them before two sahuagin.
The creatures spoke, in their own unintelligible language.
Tarisslysa, ssuri. Ssivilis y russyla!
Vass, ssuri! Vass! Illuryssallya mer temas vur pasynar ssaraii!
Shure
I know of these creatures from the Underdark, commented Viconia. Sahuagin.
Shark-men. My home city did not have much contact with them, however, so I do not
know their language.
Es ssuri net rylliaren. Asook, Feerlattiys.
Vass maenyarlu, sya ssuri muss rylliaren!
Asook, asook cried one of the sahuagin, casting a spell.
The other sahuagin looked anxiously at the one who had cast the spell. So can it
understand me now, High Priestess? It must be able to understand! The King awaits!
I heard you the first time, Feerlattiys. And, yes, I have called on Sekolah to grant
these beings the ability to understand our tongue.
Isis it dangerous to us? Shall we be forced to collar it?
The surface beings are varied in their ways, Feerlattiys, but they are quite
intelligent. You can, I am sure, speak to the creatures directly.
Edwin, impatient, and more than a little fearful (what use a firemage underwater?),
spoke. Then you can start by addressing us now, tadpole-thing. How did we get here? (If
it can speak at all. Such creatures are known more for the taste of their legs)
The High Priestess bowed. My apologies. Captain Feerlattiys performs well as
protector of our Shark-Fathers Temple, but has little experience with your kind. I am
sure this must come as a shock to you, after your recent harrowing experience. You must
brace yourselves, soft ones, for your journey gets no easier.

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Feerlattiys nervously addressed her again. High Priestess, we must take the surface
beings before the King! He commands it!
In good time, Feerlattiys. Allow them to gain their bearings and discover why we
have brought them here. Otherwise, they may resort to hostilities.
Nono, that must not be allowed
Indeed. Sekolah has spoken of these ones to us, so let us treat them not as prisoners
for the banquet table. Let us instead make them welcome. I shall introduce myself to you.
I am Senityili, Royal High Priestess of Sekolah. And you are in the City-of-Caverns, one
of our most ancient places. You are fortunate, surface dwellers. In the normal course of
things, creatures captured from the sun lands would be dinner for our plate. This once,
however, is different. Sekolah has told of your coming in an ancient prophecy, and I have
scryed that you are whom the Shark-Father speaks of.
Jan stared at Tamarth in mock wonder. Wow. Does this happen to you often,
Tamarth? I get the feeling that you could fall off a mountain, tumble down a hill and
through a hole into a pit and then land smack in a nest of fire giants and they would
suddenly hail you as the Second Coming of Grahz. I should take you sometime to the
wilds of Chultit could be quite profitable, you never know.
The High Priestess spoke to them. The most exalted King Ixilthetocal calls for the
presence of the prophesized ones, now, but there is time for you to ask questions if you
have the desire.
What manner of creature are you? asked Tamarth.
Your kind has many names for us, I believe. We are called the Sea Devils and the
Anguiliians, although I believe the merman word is most prevalent: Sahuagin. We are the
raiders of the shores and hunters without equal, surface man. We please the Shark-Father
with our ruthlessness and our cunning. As I said, you are lucky to liveand it galls us
that the prophecy calls on surface dwellers to aid us.
Where is this City-of-Caverns? Where am I, exactly?
You are in a great cavern of air, far beneath the surface of the sea. This is where we
have made our city and where we have ruled for countless generations. There is no
escape, surface dweller. The only exits from the City-of-Caverns lie up through the
depths in which you cannot liveor down into the Underdark.
What is this prophecy you speak of?
Ah, yes, the prophecy. Sekolah visited the City-of-Caverns long agoall raised
their arms in rejoicement as the Great Sharks song filled our hearts. Sekolah told of a
time when the City-of-Caverns would be no more. He also told of signs that would
precede the arrival of surface dwellers in the depths. Sekolah said these surface dwellers
would be all that stood between the City-of-Caverns and destruction, and we would do
well to watch for them. WeSahuagin, as you call ushave watched and waited from
our temples here in the City. The signs have come, surface man, and now you are here.
You have comeand the City-of-Caverns does, indeed, stand on the brink of destruction.
You will save us, as Sekolah has promised.

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Captain Feerlattiys respectfully bowed towards the High Priestess. Most sacred
Senityili, the most exalted one will wait no longer! We must bring the surface beings to
him quickly, lest we be punished!
The most honored Ixilthetocal will not punish us, good Feerlattiys. Butwe must
hurry, lest Tlyysixxous convince the King of her views in my absence. So, surface man.
You have heard me tell of the prophecy and your role in it. Will you see the King of the
Sahuagin to hear more? Or will you struggle?
I will go voluntarily, for now.
Good. Captain Feerlattiys, we shall now proceed to the royal chambers. Lead us.
At once, most sacred one! I shall also bring the equipment collected from the
sunken ship. If they pass the test, they may have any of the things that Ive found.
They were led to the throne room of the king. The High Priestess prostrated herself
before the throne, then rose. We are here, most honorable Ixilthetocal, at your
command.
The king actually tittered in amusement, pointing at the party. Andand these are
the strange creatures from the surface? He broke off for another laugh. These are the
ones youclaimthe mighty Sekolah has promised us?
They are, most honorable one. The leader amongst them, here, is what I believe
they refer to as a elf.
It seems mostmost strange! The king waved his arm at Jan. They have no
scales! Look how small and puny their teeth are!
Well, thats not very nice, said Jan. You dont see us going on and on about the
rather funky smell in this place, do you? Or the way your eyes seem to be bugged out,
like someone just kicked you in the stomach? NooOOoo, I would never be so rude.
A sahuagin at the kings side suddenly spoke. You must kill it, most exalted one!
They should not have remained alive! You must kill them, sacrifice them to the Shark-
Father!
So you keep telling me, Baron Thelokassyil. Shall we turn away a gift of Sekolah,
do you think, then?
Another sahuagin answered, by its accoutrements another priestess. The surface
creatures are not sent by Sekolah, most exalted Ixilthetocal. They are not the ones spoken
of in the Shark-Fathers prophecy. They are nothing more than spurious beasts that have
fallen into our lap. We should sacrifice them and feast upon their meat!
Oh? The king appeared bored, relaxing back into his throne.
The High Priestess was agitated. No! Most honorable Ixilthetocal, the signs were
clearly seen! All has come to pass as Sekolah had foretold!
Not ALL the signs have come, Senityili, replied the other priestess.
I do not see what I wish to see, Tlyysixxous. I see only what Sekolah has shown
me, and these ARE the saviors of the City-of-Caverns!

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So tittered the king. We have a disagreement, do we? The high priestess and
consort of my Baron Thelokassyil contests the belief of my own high priestess, does
she?
I do, most honorable one, replied the priestess Tlyysixxous.
She does. The baron fingered a ceremonial trident grounded by his chair, as if
considering which member of the party to use it on first. It is as we have been trying to
tell you, Ixilthetocalthese creatures are no more worthy than a meat crab, meant for
consumption and nothing more!
No, Ixilthetocal! Do not listen to them! pleaded the High Priestess. They are sent
by Sekolah, I swear! To refuse them is to pledge the City-of-Caverns to its destruction!
Oh, I shall be the judge of that, good Senityili. Oh, yes, I most surely shall! The
king laughed again, then suddenly focused on Tamarth. What do yoooouuu think, elf?
Yes, you. Do you think you are more worthy than a sea crab, hmmm? Do you think you
are who the prophecy speaks of?
I could be. I will help you if I can. Tamarth was ready to move whichever way
benefited himself.
Well, now, that sounds promising, said the king. I wasnt aware we needed such
help, but you never know when a tasty elf might come in handy! I dont suppose either of
the most favored priestesses will change their minds? Relinquish their position in this
arbitration, perhaps? The king laughed at the concept.
Both priestess replied that they would not.
Ah, I didnt think so. So be it! We shall decide this with a challenge, we will!
Althoughnot a challenge between our dear priestesses. That would solve nothing! We
wish to see if these surface beasts are truly the ones the Shark-Father has spoken of, yes?
So I shall offer them the chance to prove their power! Well, elf? Will you take this
challenge? Will you fight a creature of my choosing, a slave from the surfaceand see if
you survive?
And if I refuse? asked Tamarth cautiously.
Then you are not the ones the prophecy tells of. That would make you intruders,
and intruders die. Oh, yes, they certainly do!
But my colleagues and I are in need of healing and restsome of us were wounded
during the battle on the ship, protested Tamarth, trying to gain some time.
Sekolah demands perseverance, strength and self-reliance! But not stupiditythe
priestesses shall heal you before you fight, surface elf. But rest you shall not get. We
dislike sorcerous powers here, elf, and you shall have no time to study them. Healing
should be more than sufficient. So, then! Do you agree, my tasty elfordo you
refuse?
I agree.
Excellent! Excellent! Sport for us all! Take them away, and let us see what they do
against our freakish surface slave!

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They were led to an arena, where they were matched against a two-headed ettin. The
ettin raised a club as big as Edwin, bellowing, I no want fight! I want home! I smash
fish! I smash YOU!! RRRGG!
No real challenge for such experienced individuals, the ettin was easily defeated.
Congratulations, my wondrous little elf! crowed the king after the contest. You
are, indeed, a mighty specimenand the one sent to us by Sekolah, I might add.
The baron tried to protest. No! Most exalted Ixilthetocal, you cannot be serious!
Oh, stop complaining, Baron. So your High Priestess lost the challenge, thats too
bad. Theres no need to go on whining about it. Time to take her away for sacrifice! Try
not to get caught in Sekolahs teeth, Tlyysixxous. Im sure he wouldnt appreciate it.
II see. Of course, most exalted Ixilthetocal. The priestess Tlyysixxous was led
away, presumably to be sacrificed to the Shark-Father.
Ah. Now that that little dispute is over with, perhaps we can get down to real
business, eh? Are you bitter, Thelokassyil?
N-no, most exalted one. Asas long as the prophesized ones deal with the rebels,
they will have served the purpose Sekolah intended
The rebels! Thats right! And here I was on my coral throne, forgetting all about
those rebels. That is an excellent task to set these surface dwellers on!
Ifif I may speak, interrupted the High Priestess hesitantly, most honorable one,
as to the Shark-Fathers intentions?
Eh? Are you still here, Senityili? Didnt I just have you sacrificed?
That was Tlyysixxous, honorable Ixilthetocal.
Oh. How disappointing. Well, I suppose you can speak, then.
I urge you not to listen to the Baron. He would have you destroy the rebels, when
there is a far greater need for them in the City-of-Caverns. Our numbers dwindle,
honorable Ixilthetocal. You haveexiled many. The hatcheries are barren, and there are
too few femalesIn short, our bloodline grows thin. We need these rebels to join us, to
add their blood to ours so that the City-of-Caverns may grow strong again!
I see what you say, Senityili. Oh, yes I do. We should have the rebel and his army
join usin principle. The drow and the illithids take more each year. Ive no wish to
retreat to the depthsBut, no. Id rather have the rebels heart.
Butbut, honorable Ixilthetocal --!
Excellent decision, our King! The baron glared triumphantly at his rival.
I thought you would like that, my Baron, said the king, but I am not doing it for
you. The rebel will invade with his army of exiles if he isnt stopped, you know. So it
comes down to you, surface elf! I am sure you have no wish to help a race such as us. But
youve no objection to killing a fewHunt down the rebel leader for me, my elfbring
me his heart and I shall reward you with great riches!

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Jan whistled. Ive heard this tune before. Its right up there on the oldies-but-
goodies list along with Fail and I Kill You. Or, maybe in this case, its that variant sung
by the infamous ogre bard Chumba-khan, Fail and I Eat You. Of course, we could
always just leave
Your kind does not object to sorcery? We have collected much that is magical
during our raids. You are welcome to it ALL, if you bring me his heart. Sowhat do you
say to that, my surface elf, chosen of Sekolah?
Who is this rebel and where would I find him?
Oh, this particular one is a former rival for my position that I sent away years ago.
What was his name, again, my Baron?
Prince Villynaty, exalted one.
Right. Villynaty. You can find the rebels outside the city. He should be no match
for one as powerful as you, my little elf.
I cant fight this rebel if Im a prisoner.
Prisoner? The king laughed. You are the chosen of Sekolah, my little surface elf!
You have been sent to us by the prophecy! After were done here, you can wander off on
your wayrest, rearm yourselveswhatever it is that you surface people enjoy doing, I
suppose. Soon youll leave the city and kill this rebel Prince, saving the City-of-Caverns
as the prophecy foretells! And I shall reward you with great riches! Until that time, you
will have the free run of the City-of-Caverns. Go where you wish, my good elf.
B-butbut, most honored one! The baron looked at the party with disgust. You
wish to let them loose in the city?!
They are doing us a great service, my Baron. I want everyone to treat them like
likelike pale, small-toothed, skinny fellow Sahuagin. Yes. Like that.
Very well, said Tamarth. I will try to find this rebel you speak of and return his
heart to you.
Good. The less rebels running about, the better. You shall save the city and be
rewardedeverybody will be happy! Except for Villynaty. And then youll be free to go
off to the Underdark, if thats where youre headed. Unless youd care to try the oceans
again, my little elf! But off you go, chosen ones. I desire meat, now, and the King always
dines in private.
Before you leave the city, surface beings, said the High Priestess as they started to
leave, come to the temple and speak to me again. I can tell you things that will make
your job mucheasier.
Yes, our Priestess shall tell you how to gain access to the rebel camp. The rebels are
locked away with magic, you know. Go now and destroy them. The king lolled on his
throne, chuckling at some hidden joke, as the party left his presence.
Tamarth led the others to the temple of the Shark-Father, curious to hear what the
High Priestess had to say. As he reached the temple, the High Priestess was preparing to
sacrifice the former priestess Tlyysixxous.

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An offering for you, Sekolah! The High Priestess held a ceremonial dagger in one
hand. Open your mighty jaws and take this, your former servant, as sustenance for you!
We are mighty, Shark-Father! We strike without fear and without remorse! Take this gift
as a measure of our power!!
NOOOoooo!! screamed her victim, immediately before the knife plunged home.
The High Priestess, done her ritual duties, was ready to talk to them. Ah. It is good
you have come to see me before you left. The king has made it clear I should instruct you
as to how you may enter the Princes base. The Princes Base lies at the far end of the
city, beyond a chamber with two great doors. Long ago Sekolah appeared there and slew
a thousand infidels. He decreed no heretic should again enter the city and sealed the
doors. He placed his tooth upon the doors so that we could open them. Later, the drow
came. With powerful magicks they stormed the city, led by a mage of great strength. He
took Sekolahs Tooth from our lax guardians with the intent of blocking pursuit. The
mage built an edifice in the south west section of the city. He was killed, but his complex
remains. Sekolahs Tooth is guarded somewhere withinWe have little need for itthe
ocean is the means of our travel. But you need it. Seek out the drows construct, foil his
guardians and obtain the key.
I shall enter the Drow section and obtain the key.
Excellent. This brings me to the next point. You must do something for me. Our
King is mad. Surely your audience with him showed you this. He is the result ofpoor
breeding. Like his father he has executed or exiled far too many of our kind. Our numbers
are too few, our blood too thin. We must regain what we have lost. Prince Villynaty, the
exiles leader outside the city, is our only hope. With the Prince on the throne, we would
be strong againto fight the illithid and the drow. I have been in contact with the rebels
and now is the time to strike! What do you say, elf? Surely you hold no love for our mad
King. Help us to survive, lest we be swept away by the denizens of the Underdark!
The Kings offered me a reward to kill this rebelwhat are you offering me?
I can offer you nothing, myself. And I know that the exiles have little in the way of
gold or magic that you might see as a suitable reward. Still, I ask that you speak to the
Prince. Perhapsperhaps he has some reward in mind. II beg of you, elf! Do not let
our mad King destroy my people!
What makes you think I wont tell the King of your scheme?
You are not of our raceyou owe him no allegiance. You have seen Ixilthetocals
state of mindhe may decide to kill you in the end anyway. But if you do take this to the
KingI cannot stop you, elf. It will doom both myself and perhaps the City-of-Caverns,
as well, but I cannot stop you.
What do you need me to do, exactly?
I only ask that you talk with Prince Villynaty, that is all. Listen to what he has to
offer, and decide then what you shall do. I will give you an orb the rebels will
recognizethey will bring you to Villynaty. That is, of course, if you agree to talk
instead of kill.

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Very wellI agree to talk to this Prince. Tamarth saw no reason not to talk to this
prince, and then decided what to do. Besides, he didnt trust the king.
Good. Here is the orb. Keep it in your possession when you leave the City-of-
Caverns. You will be approached by an exile to be brought to the Prince. I pray that you
and the Prince can come to an agreementfor the sake of all of my people. Go, then, and
may Sekolah guard you from harm.
Jan told a story as they set forth.
I was recently reminded of my ex brother-in-law, Burt Wunderkind, fabulous
griffin-baiter. Its something of a cottage industry amongst Amnish gnomes. Quite
simple, Ive heard. You merely tame a couple of wyverns and WHOOSH, tear through
the sky to fling insults at the hapless griffins. Everyone I know has a pet wyvern. Taming
wyverns is childs play, literally. As children, wed tame wyverns. Its easy since they
have such an affinity for turtles. Back in the old days it used to rain turtles on even days
and frogs on odd days. Until the drought hit. There were ornery wyverns everywhere.
After a rich diet of turtle mash, you couldnt expect them to merely accept bacon without
eating a few human nobles, now, could you? Of course, by then, Burt was such a
successful griffin baiter that the authorities just couldnt find it in their hearts to make us
leash the wyverns. The loss of the noble class is truly a small price to pay to maintain the
continuity of such a fine sport.
Korgan laughed at the images Jan had conjured with his tale. Marvelous tale,
gnome. Well told, well told. Only blight on ye is that trimmed beard and that loathsome
pointy pickle hanging off yer face.
Tamarth found it frustrating to reach the rebel prince. First he had to obtain the
magical tooth that would allow him to open the city doors. This involved an encounter
with two annoying imps, and parsing logic with a Spectator beholder before it agreed to
give him the contents of the chest it guarded.
Then he had to face small bands of rebels as he tried to leave the city. Only after he
passed the great doors marking the limit of the city did he find a rebel who didnt
immediately attack. The orb he carried granted him an audience with the rebel prince.
The prince, Villynaty, was fascinated to receive him. Ahhhso it seems the surface
creatures we have heard so much about have finally come to see us. Are these the ones
that your mother spoke of, Sallinithyl?
The prince, of course, had his own priestess, who replied. They are, most honored
Villynaty. The most sacred Senityili was most specific in her description.
Hah! I do not think the description had to be all that specific. As if they would be
anyone else, ugly as they are. Their flesh, it is so pale and scale-lessBut your hideous
appearance means little. As does this nonsense about Sekolah sending you, as Sallinithyl
and her mother seem to believe so strongly in. What matters is that mad Ixilthetocal has
sent you surface beings to collect my heart. He is so certain of your success that now is
the perfect time to strike!

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We have a heart, surface elf, said the priestess, a heart that you can return with to
Ixilthetocal and claim as Villynatys. The guard of the City-of-Caverns will be down, and
we will be able to strike.
Do not attack any guards, added the prince. This will tip off Ixilthetocal to your
treachery. Wait for our attack, then launch your own assault on the King and his Baron. I
will come as soon as I can. Once Ixilthetocal and Thelokassyil are dead, I shall take the
throne of the City-of-Caverns. The madman shall be dead!
And the City-of-Caverns shall be saved with the return of its exiled blood, said the
priestess.
Yes, yes. Whatever. The prince impatiently waved his hand. The throne is what is
important, here. So, surface creature. Assuming that you are capable of intelligent
thought, do you agree to this plan? Or shall we be forced to engage in simple slaughter?
Bah. Yer King has offered us a gilded ransom and then some, complained Korgan.
We care not fer yer cause, boyo. If we takes it up for ye, will ye offer us better than yer
King?
The prince was furious with the dwarf. Bah! You get to live, you hideous, finless
thingis that not enough for you?!
Most honorable Villynaty, interceded the priestess, we are trying to gain the
cooperation of these creatures. We NEED their help. Do notdo not agitate them, I beg
of you!
Sekolah grants power to those who take itnot those who rely on the assistance of
weaker beings! How can you believe that Sekolah has sent them? The prince sighed.
But an attack is impossible without them. Very wellI suppose some reward is called
for. But I have nothing to give until the throne is taken.
How do I know youll keep your word, then, after it is done? asked Tamarth,
although he was more inclined to trust the prince than the mad king.
I havent given you my word, creature. You shall be rewarded as I see fit, no better.
Do not seek to be presumptuous.
I agree to your plan, then. I shall take your fake heart to the King.
Maybe you are intelligent enoughfor a surface species. Take this heart and bring
it to Ixilthetocal. I shall set up my forces and prepare for the attack.
This is the only way to save our people, elf, said the priestess. I pray that you are,
indeed, the one promised by Sekolahand that we shall all meet with success.
Tamarth returned to the king.
Oho! It is my surface elf, come to me once again! And does it havewhy, yes, I
think I smell the ichor of a rebel! You have the heart with you!! Yes yes yes YES! I knew
this was coming, yes I did. The king grabbed the heart from Tamarth, crushing it in one
hand. My men reported your return, and I asked Sekolah if it was done and he told me
that it was! So I sacrificed a few hatchlings and a guard to the Shark-Fatherand I had
the rest of the guards prepare for the festivalthere will be a feast tonight! Not that we

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were planning on feasting on you, my favorite little elf. No, no. You werent planning on
eating my elf, were you, Baron?
Errno. No, I wasnt planning on it, most honorable Ixilthetocal.
Liar. I heard you talking, earlier. So go be a good Baron and get the reward for my
little elf, here. It has certainly deserved one, oh yes!
A sahuagin rushed in. Most exalted one!! Alarm! Alarm! The rebelsthe Prince
they have crept into the City-of-Caverns and they are attacking!!
What?! Youyou have betrayed me, my elf?! This cannot be!!
I told you that the surface beasts could not be trusted! yelled the baron.
Oh, shut UP, Thelokassyil! Just kill them! Kill them!! I WANT ALL OF THEIR
HEADS ON MY PLATE!!
The party attacked the court. Soon after they killed the last of them, Prince Villynaty
showed up, having crushed all other resistance.
Ahhh, yesss! So I am now the King of the City-of-Caverns! The prince sat on the
throne, ignoring the bodies littering the floor. The mad tyrant is dead, and we are well
rid of him! May Sekolah gnaw upon his bones for an eternity! You have done our people
a great service, elf!
Although the high priestess had died during the fighting, the princes priestess was
still alive. She spoke, Greater perhaps than you even know. With Ixilthetocal dead, the
exiles can now return to the City-of-Caverns. Where once our people grew weak, now
they can become strong again.
Edwin grumbled, remarking to Tamarth, Ah, that is our goal, you know: to allow
the tadpoles to resume their dominant role in the world. (Idiot! Sekolah should have
gifted them with a brain!)
Their blood will return to mix with the old, the priestess continued, and only
together can we protect our city from the advances of the illithid and the drow.
Ixilthetocal was too mad to see what he was doing.
And now the City-of-Caverns is saved. The prince looked smugly upon the party.
The prophecy is completedeven if not quite the way that pale eel thought it would be,
eh? We owe you a debt, elf. We are unfamiliar with your kind, but you are welcome
amongst us. And you did more than was asked, bearing the brunt of the battle. For that, I
give you the first spoils of war. Take this treasury key from Ixilthetocals corpseuse it
to enter the citys treasury and take what you will. I am feeling generous todayto enter
the Underdark, you need this magic rope from the kings corpse. Use it to go down the pit
behind my former throne.
Tamarth considered the battered prince and his few guards. It would be much
simpler to take whatever he wanted. He led the others in attacking the princes court,
killing them all. Afterwards, he reflected that perhaps he had been part of a prophecy. If
so, the god of the sahuagin had not looked favorably upon the weak remnant of the once
powerful breed which used to control the city. Using a magic rope taken from the
treasury, they climbed down a deep hole, ending up far underground.

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The Underdark
Jon Irenicus and Bodhi stood with several female drow inside a room far
underground. One of the drow commented, Things go well on the surface. The temple of
their false god has been defiled.
I am pleased, said Irenicus. My revenge will soon come.
We did not act for your benefit, Irenicus, the drow corrected sharply, though you
did offer someinteresting opportunities.
Yes, Matron Mother, excuse my careless words, said Irenicus.
Our first prisoners arrive, Matron Mother, said one of the other drow as several
surface elven prisoners were brought forward.
These two rank high among the surface scum, Matron, said one of the guards.
What is to be their fate?
Their presence sickens me. Kill them, said the Matron Mother.
Perhaps it would be better to interrogate them first, suggested Irenicus.
One of the elves, drawn out of his apathy by the realization that not only was the
speaker not another drow, but known to him, protested, Joneleth, what are you doing
with these monsters! You are one of
Irenicus cut him off permanently, casting magic that killed both prisoners instantly.
An odd way to question, Irenicus, said the Matron Mother, unperturbed by what
she had just witnessed. Did you not like his tone?
Ireconsidered, Matron. Your command was the wiser, said Irenicus.
***
The great depths of the Underdark stretched before the party, and as they adjusted to
the dim light, the reality of where they were began to sink in. It was a realm of countless
legends, where evil lurked behind each shadow, and though they had traveled far in
pursuit of Irenicus, never had they felt so isolated.
HaerDalis looked around at the dimly cavern to which they had descended from the
sahuagin city far above, an ecstatic expression on his face. Below ground: Beneath the
earth our fates await usand, just think, we shant need go far to lie in our graves!
The party moved forward from the point they had descended into the Underdark,
their way lit by a faint phosphorescence coming from growths on the ceiling far above.
Viconia turned to Tamarth. Tell medid Gorion tell you many tales of the
Underdark? Did he, perchance, mention some of the races that lived below?
He told a few tales, but not many. Tamarth reflected he was lucky to have an
expert along. Tell me of these races, if you wish to.
Hmm, I am sure you have heard of the revolting illithids. I understand on the
surface they are referred to as mind flayers. An apt name for devourers of the mind.
They are strange specimens, with an empire as mighty as the drow. We forged treaties,

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but a single thought can bring their collapse when dealing with the psionics. Negotiations
with them are fraught with peril, as they would prefer you as a square meal rather than as
an ambassador of good will. The thing that strikes you on first meeting is the eyes. Blank,
rheumy, white and unblinking. And the four tentacles that dangle and twitch over a
lampreys mouth. Their skulls are striated like the contour of a mans brain, but it pulses
like a sheeps bladder. The illithid mind is a stranger landscape still. Their main goal is
dominance of othersand they believe that life with the elder brain is the highest form of
being. That, and the delight they seem to get from cracking open your skull like a hens
egg and drinking everything swimming inside your head.
What else can you tell me?
The kuo-toa are a race of fish-men that form the other third of the Underdark
civilized domains. Cold, horrid creatures driven into the underground seas long ago. They
are usually on good terms with drow, but they hate us, as they loathe most everything.
They despise sunlight, and the surface dwellers that drove them from it. The kuo-toa will
trade, but negotiations are fraught with danger. No one kuo-toan settlement is the same as
the nextthey are unstable and prone to profound suspicion. Ive seen them swim across
Lake Trezntwerneth, cresting and leaping. They appeared to enjoy themselves. The
speed was amazing, easily a corsairs carrack at full sail. The first sign of kuo-toa is the
reek of dead fish. Head away from the water they need to survive. Risking a fight is to
flirt with the Cold Maiden.
Wow. You could write a bestiary, I think.
Feh. These things are known to all drow, easily. I am sure there is equally much you
could tell me about surface creatures.
They came to a side passage, from which could be heard the faint sounds of
movement. Entering the passage led them to three duergar, merchants judging by the
stalls and piled equipment.
Cor der noror rrin doth samman? asked one of the duergar.
Viconia took the lead, answering in her native language. Lil waela lueth waela ragar
brorna lueth wund nind, kyorlin elghinn! Sarn! Usstan uil Viconia!
Ofof course, Malla Viconia. The duergar bowed. I am at your service in all
matters.
Wait, wait! interrupted one of the other duergar. Carlig, she bears no house
insignia that I know. Look at her companions! She is outcast!
You dare?! hissed Viconia.
The duergar Carlig bowed again. Mordin dares nothing, I assure you, though it is
simply good policy to understand who you are dealing with. You must excuse my
fellows, but it is not often that those not directly associated with a house pass this way.
Yes, very seldom. They do not live long, added the third duergar.
Well, unfortunate things can happen in the depths, replied Carlig, trying to soften
his colleagues words, but we do not partake in such events. I am Carlig, a trader of
sorts.

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I dont care. I just want to find the two bastards I came for and leave, said Tamarth
impatiently.
No cause for that kind of statement, said Carlig. Youll end up dead sooner than
later if you keep it up.
Those other two were like that too, though I think they would survive most any
attack. Mordin stared at Tamarth, as if challenging him to question the accuracy of his
statement. You know, the neck-biter and the mage.
Oh yes, those two. Bad news, I would wager, agreed Carlig. Ive seen them near
the Drow city. Must be up to dirty dealings; those ol morogh dark elves dont usually let
strangers live.
Those are the two Im looking for! Bodhi and Irenicus! Tamarth was pleased, for
despite the unexpected trip through the Sahuagin city he had ended up not far from his
foes. Ill have to go after them!
Carlig shook his head sorrowfully. Well then, Ill wish you luck, though you wont
be able to simply walk into the Drow city.
The pessimistic third duergar added his opinion. That place will come down on
your head harder than a llargh tunnel unshored.
Thats their choice to make, Finderlig, reproved Carlig. No need to worry them
more. Ask about before you go assaulting that place. Might be a better way.
Finderlig barked a Ha! as his opinion on the party successfully entering the drow
city.
Well, in any case, said Carlig, Ive wares to sell if you are interested. Always
looking for fresh faces to trade with. No matter the color of shadow in you.
After doing a little trading with the merchant Tamarth questioned the other two
duergar.
Been pretty busy these last few days, commented Finderlig. You come through;
those other two; bad sign, it is.
Yes, for everyone but me, replied Tamarth tartly.
Yes, I imagine that is what the other two were thinking as well. Good luck to you.
Korgan growled, Aint gonna need luck when we find those two. If you see them
again, you tell them that.
Finderlig muttered to himself, Outsiders always cause trouble.
Viconia took offense at his statement. There will be no such trouble. I will be a
guide.
No offense, but trouble may find you, Malla Drow.
Mordin had somewhat more to say. I would be careful in this place, if I were you.
Many dangers around many corners. You will be lucky to live. I, myself, have seen death
here recently. Even the powerful cannot escape it.

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What are you talking about? Who has died? asked Tamarth.
No real secrets for those that travel here frequently. A trespasser that got his due
from someone he crossed. Well, I suppose it did not end in death, but it was a mighty
battle regardless. I do not know who the aggressor was, but I know who lost.
Well? State who it was!
A mage of power, I am sure, though not powerful enough in the end. A pity too. He
seemed intent on unearthing an artifact of old or somesuch.
Oooh, mages are the best for hidden treasures. Jan eyed the ground at his feet, as if
expecting to find something right there. Back home, you couldnt toss a turnip without
unearthing some old wizards stash of goodies. Occasionally the wiz would still be in it,
too.
To risk so much for exploration he must have been seeking something very valuable
indeed, commented Edwin, obviously already calculating how much power he could get
out of it.
Then I call rights to it, said Korgan, and no backtalk from you, mage. I know
your sort gets all grabby about such things. Not so much offense intended to you,
Tamarth. Edwin can bite me, though.
Mordins expression became sorrowful. And his reward for his effort? Worse than
death, even though he seemed willing to share. Imprisoned, magically confined in the
cavern north of here. Pity.
Your story is unfinished. Tell me the details. Tamarth was interested by the tale.
You would have to ask him that yourself. I know only what I have said. My
apologies.
Intriqued by the account of the imprisoned mage, Tamarth bought a scroll from the
merchants to counteract the spell holding the mage. When the spell was cast, its powerful
magics freed the imprisoned spellcaster from the depths of the earth.
The formerly bound mage rapidly realized what had happened, and that the group
standing near him were his benefactors. Ahh, thank you for releasing me. I was sure my
destiny was to end imprisoned here forever. I have never been more glad to be wrong. I
am indebted to you. Perhaps we might be of use to each other. I had great plans before I
was so rudely interrupted.
Who were you battling here? asked Tamarth.
I am unsure of that myself, though I imagine that I simply insulted a local resident
with my ignorance of custom. The value of my goal may have blinded me. Regardless, I
must continue what I have begun, and would do so with your helpif you are willing.
I will consider it.
Hear me out, and I am sure I will entice you. The prize is wealthy, but the finding is
tricky. This spot is thin, and careful spells may breach the walls between dimensions.
On the other side one might find some valuable magic, if one knows where to look. If

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you could aid me a bit I would be forever grateful. There will be items enough for us
both.
What is required of me?
I cannot lie; there will be combat. I thought I was prepared for such but my failure
has obviously proved me wrong. With your aid things should go smootherthough your
first duties would be less dangerous by far. A few errands
I am no stranger to mundane tasks. Tamarth had decided to aid him, to see what
magic he might be able to find.
I apologize if I have suggested anything that would demean you, but the greatest
plans have simple flaws. I can stay here and begin preparatory spells, but I cannot cast the
actual dimension-breaching spells without the procedures outlined in my book of rituals.
I imagine it was taken after I was imprisoned. There were svirfneblin observing my
conflict: perhaps they took it. I cannot blame them. I am sure I appeared quite
permanently lost.
Could you not do this yourself? It sounds simple enough.
My recent experience has made me nervous about traveling around here on my
own, for obvious reasons. I will be here whether you agree to help or not. I believe there
is a svirfneblin village to the north. They may have taken my gear there. If you go, tell
them they may keep everything but the book. Thank you if you can do anything. I will be
at the earth elemental portal softening the area with minor spells.
Tamarth walked in the indicated direction, searching for the svirfneblin.
Haerry, I have an idea for a play, Jan suddenly offered.
HaerDalis frowned at the gnome. Please, Jan, my name is HaerDalis.
You see, Haerry, Angus the Giant Beaver is ousted from house and home by the
Bullywug bullies to embark on an epic quest that takes him to the next pond.
Yes, epic. Go on.
No, no, no, this is only the beginning. Along the way, he encounters Gurgen the
Hormonal Moose and a friendship quickly develops between the two, seeing them
through times of great trial and tribulation, though the friendship also caused a great deal
of trial and tribulation, as you can well imagine.
What, if I may ask, is a moose?
Too late, Im already onto great trials and tribulations-- Think of it, Haerry, such
broad and vital themes. Anyhow, the moose catches a curious and ultimately fatal disease
and Angus, as a final testament to their friendship, enshrines him within a wooden tomb
in the middle of the lake, before throwing himself in the lake to drown.
Jan, beavers cant drown. They spend half of their life underwater.
Theres no point in arguing, Haerry. Its a true tale and if you have any doubt, you
can ask my great-aunt Apo Pettiwick, who never married. It all happened in her back
yard when she ran the farmers market that sold turnips up in Thundertree, just upstream
of Neverwinter.

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Pray I never go there, Jan. Pray I never go there.


They stopped for a short rest. Viconia made sure to sit next to Tamarth, so she could
speak to him. I have been told a little about this Bhaal of yours, but I am unfamiliar
with him. Among the drow, we are taught nothing of other gods, and little enough about
our own gods beyond Lolth.
Well, I wouldnt call Bhaal mine, exactly.
I understand what you mean by this. Many of those who dwell upon the surface
seem to live without giving much thought about the gods. It is very different in the
Underdark; Lolth involves herself everywhere. Like a glutton, she reserves all worship
for herself and outlaws the other Drow gods.
You speak often of the Underdarkdo you miss it at all?
It is difficult to describe. The Underdark is a place of great evil and danger, but it
also of beauty and wonder. Would you like me to tell you of it?
Certainly.
Deep drow is inelegant when discussing beauty, but has seventy words for cruel.
Few of my sisters prized the sights of our dark world, but I ache for them each night. The
undersea of Laratrak, for example, defies words. To sail across takes two days luent to
linoineast to westthree days trezen to wernethnorth to south. Massive stalactites
overhead shimmer from the bloodless pallor of lichenand as you sail, a bleak dead
world flows beneath, the playground of blind fish and fallen deities. I remember also the
crystal spires of Ustlat, a pinnacle of architecture. Living crystal pruned and gardened
with gems and a master jewelers care, it spoke of defiance. But these images pale before
memories of the Spider Queen, and the worship I began so young. Beauty is difficult to
find in the blood that I let flow in her name.
I thought you enjoyed killing when you worshipped Lolth.
Do not be a waela fool. I enjoyed it well enough; I killed for sport and necessity,
but I took no pleasure in sacrifice solely to satiate her endless desire. And I was but a
child when I began. I was taken from my mother, brought to the temple, and attended to
by the priestesses who adorned me with the black robes. They took me to the orlenggin
the sacrificial altarwhere a surfacer screamed in agony, and for the pleasure of Lolth I
was given a spider dagger to end his life. This human was but a kulgobuss to me, but it
felt wrong. He was bare and chainedhelpless. His tears ran freely as he begged for
mercy in his unfamiliar tongue. But the matron mothers were there to judge; obedience
was required, hesitation was death. It must be done and in a manner that would please
Lolth: cold, clean and final. He screamed as the blade entered, and spit blood when I
punctured his lungs. To the delight of the matron mothers I pulled his heart out still
beating.
Although Viconias control was almost perfect, Tamarth noted she did not meet his
gaze while describing these things. I can see why such ugliness might color your
memories of the Underdark.
I sacrificed many, drow and surfacer both. The ichor flowed freely to fill Lolths
insatiable rageThe caverns are red in my mind, their beauty a bloodied and callous

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joke. It is the drow way. But that isbehind me, now. Let us continue our travels,
Tamarth.
They continued onward after resting. They came to a chasm, crossed by a suspended
rope and wood bridge. Three deep gnomes guarded the way. They talked their way past
the guards, entering the svirfneblin village, actually more of a mining camp. Inside, they
talked to the leader, Goldander Blackenrock.
He greeted them alone, no attendants serving him. In fact, there were few gnomes in
the village. Ahh, travelers to our fair city. That would be rare enough, but you are
surfacers by the look of you. Surprising that you travel with the darkness of a Drow. I
mean no disrespect, but it is surprising.
Viconia shot back a sharp response. I find it more surprising that you svirfneblin
gnomes risk my anger by constantly pointing me out.
No offense intended, but your kind does not often come for social visits, no. Come,
I would have words with you, if you are willing to hear.
Tamarth was immediately suspicious. Another group of backtunnel weaklings need
my help. What a surprise.
Spare your tone. We are not weak. There is no shame in knowing when you are
outmatched. Too much svirfneblin blood has been shed over this already. I will give you
details of the task first, and you may decide if you wish to accept. I tap rock that you
will.
How quaint, said Viconia. Get on with it.
As you can see, our granitehome village is quite empty. I have sent the majority to
deeper climes far from here. It was no longer safe, and it is our own fault. We tunneled
too deep recently, and unearthed a monstrosity. A strange cavern that yielded death, a
monster we have not seen outside of dreaming. The task I ask of you is simple to explain,
but difficult in deed. I ask that the beast be killed, and the tunnel be closed.
Tamarth shrugged in vexation. You little munchkins are supposed to be diggers,
why not bury it yourselves?
The tunnel will readily collapse, of that we are sure. What is unsure is whether that
would kill the beast now that it is awakened.
Ahh, nodded HaerDalis. I have encountered beasts that were awakened before.
This is no natural animal, is it?
As I said, it is a beast out of dreams, or nightmares, if you prefer. It is not of the
rock. I do not know what to call it.
Yeah yeah, kill and bury it, said Tamarth. Easy enough to say, but what will be
my reward.
I am listening, but keep in mind that we are not the richest of granitehomes. We are
under constant pressure with the Drow being so close.
I dont care about that. You will pay me, and you will tell me about two surfacers I
seek.

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Surfacers other than you? Ahh, I know of them, but you will have a hard time
finding. They passed within the city of the Drow, Ust Natha. Now before you ask, I may
know a way into the Drow city. Well, I know a being that might help you. She could see
you safely inside, but after that you would surely be dead. No offense, Malla Drow, but I
see you do not wear the symbols of any House that I know. You would fare no better in
there, especially with your current companions.
Korgan pointed to Viconia, looking towards Tamarth. What good is this indigo she-
beast if she is as much a target down here as the rest of us?
Edwin commented, Oh, I dont know. She has a certaincharm.
Korgan chuckled. Ey there, Vico. Edwins sweet on ye.
Viconia scowled at them both. Indignity after indignity. Get on with your safe
alternative, Goldander.
If such is the risk you would take, I will gladly point you in her direction. The great
staircase goes to her lair. It is the blackest of all the tunnels, but there is glorious light on
the other side. She is called Adalon by choice, though My Lady will suffice just as well.
Show respect and you will have it in return.
If she is so powerful why dont you get her to help you? Why use me?
She is receptive to help, of course, but she more respects those that help themselves.
She is a creature that keeps very particular company, perhaps more so than others of her
kind. Im sure she will see to your concerns if you approach politely, but I fear I must
restrict your access until the needs of my village are met.
Of course, agreed Viconia. Selfish in your generosity. Admirable.
The passage to her lair is guarded against intruders by a force of her design. It is the
blackest of dark, preventing even the Drow entry. When the beast in the cavern is
dispatched I will give you a light gem to banish the darkness of the tunnel. I carry it
with me always, but I will gladly give it to you for this service.
I will help, but you will pay more than that. Now, where must I go?
I am glad of your decision. The passage is to the Northeast, guarded by one of my
best breachgnomes. He will let you pass now. Take this Stoneshape scroll. It is linked
magically to the stone of the cavern. When the beast is dead, use this to bring the cavern
down upon it. I shall make it a forbidden area forever after. Thank you, Tamarth, you do
not know the good you have done here.
Tamarth had allowed himself to be talked into the task, although he didnt know if
this mysterious Adalon would be of any more help than the gnomes. At least, he
consoled himself, the creature should be no problem for his party to defeat.
When they reached the correct chamber, they found the creature they faced was in
fact a powerful demon. Tamarth was pleased; this was the test he had been looking for.
He forced the transformation to the slayer aspect of Bhaal. Although the others helped, he
was able to control the slayer, inflicting great wounds on the demon and ultimately
destroying it. Tamarth was gratified at the increase in his personal power.

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The party returned to the deep gnome leader, for their reward. By talking to other
gnomes in the city Tamarth was also able to retrieve the book of rituals for the mage
Vithal.
When they returned to the formerly imprisoned mage, Tamarth gave him what he
wanted. I have found your book of rituals. Here, have it back.
Thank you. This will prove a profitable venture yet, I assure you. Now, to the
dangerous bit. There will be three gates I must enter. There will be a guardian in each,
and it will not be pleased to see us. I will lure each one through in turn. Be ready with
your defenses.
A guardian? What kind of guardian? Whose treasure is this that you seek?
I do not know the nature of the guardians, nor who placed them there. I imagine the
place was a safehold of a mage from ancient times, but I cannot be sure.. Curiosity has
driven me crazy to find out what is there. I regret placing you in harms way, but I cannot
fight the creature while maintaining the spell. I will pay you well with a share of what I
find, I assure you.
Then perform your rituals. I am ready!
Very well. Let the walls between dimensions yield to me! Let the ether be made
solid, that a mortal man may pass!
At the first gate, they defeated an earth guardian. At combats end, Vithal said, Well
done! Now the way is clear for the first gate. We are close to our goal. Wish me luck.
He disappeared into the gate. A short while later he reappeared.
Well, that was unpleasant. I cannot survive on the other side very long, which is
appropriate, I suppose. I have acquired some of the trove, but more awaits. Come to the
fire gate.
Vithal traveled through two more gates, of fire and air. When he returned from the
air gate he was pleased.
I return! Ahh, it is good to have the Prime Material under my feet. There is beauty
on the other side, but it is not my home. And you, my friend, my helpful stranger, I am
true to my word. You shall receive your due, just as I have promised. There, I trust you
will be satisfied with this potent item. I have only taken a brief look at it, but I am sure it
is worth the pains we took. A small portion of the whole amount, but worthy of your
service.
Tamarth examined the crudely formed rod he had been given. Thats it? Some
simple rod? After the risk I took?
I believe that I took the majority of the risk in this instance. I was the one that
traversed the planes, you know. Still, if you are so insistent I suppose that I could up your
reward a bit more, though I reserve the right to take the majority for myself. There, a
couple of the spell scrolls that were there. That must suffice, as I will give no more.
Tamarth disagreed. I think I deserve it all. Hand it over or I will be forced to take it
from you.

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I expected as much from a stranger in the Underdark. Very well, let us raise our
weapons and spells and settle our feud. I regret it has come to this.
He proved to be weakened by his trips through the gates, and so quickly defeated.
Tamarth decided it was time to rest and regain their magical energies. Later he would
seek out this Adalon, since he had no good plan for entering the drow city.
My red-cloaked sparrow-hawk, HaerDalis said to Edwin upon awakening. I
could barely catch my sleep last night with all your arcane muttering.
Edwin mumbled, (Ah, already we have the fool convinced that you are muttering!)
Aye, I could write a play and you would be my entire cast and extras

Ust Natha
With the gem given them by the svirfneblin the party was able to find Adalon.
Adalon, the dragon. Adalon, the silver, foe of all evil. Adalon, the colossal, whose
wingspan stretched farther than the six of them laid head to toe.
Welcome, welcome to my lair, boomed the great dragon when they had entered its
lair. I have watched your progress with great interest.
Your interest does not concern me, blustered Tamarth, seeking to hide his sudden
fear. I have come seeking information.
I know full well what you have come for. Do not presume that you may simply ask
and receive what you need. I am not as tolerant as others of my kind. I am Adalon, the
guardian, and I have done my duty as well as I have been able for many a century. I was
not the first, but I know the history. My charge is the elven ruins above, an ancient temple
that marks the gateway to the Underdark. There are others elsewhere, but this was the
first.
What do I care about an ancient ruin?
The temple marks where the elves of dark hearts first descended, truly separating
from Elven kind and becoming Drow. The Drow keep the outpost of Ust Natha here as a
symbol, one that is fought over regularly, though I have governed the hostilities and seen
peace for decades at a time. But there has been a crime here recently, and I can no longer
honor my commitment. I will ask your assistance, and in return I will aid you.
And if I do not need your aid?
Silence! II will tell you when you may speak. This is a VERY important matter,
and I will not be interrupted.
Even Korgan was nervous, snapping, Tamarth, dont get the beast angered! I dont
put much stock in our chances
The Drow respected the borders of this place for centuries, only venturing out for
sport and small skirmishes. That was the balance. The two you seek, this Bodhi and Jon
Irenicus, I believe they have made a deal with the Drow for their own safe passage and
offered a way to tip the scales against their Elven enemy.

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And they just strolled on by? questioned Edwin. Pardon me, madam, but you are
no svirfneblin begging for help. Did you not sense theirdespotic nature?
You may ask why I do not extend my influence. I cannot. Irenicus bargained with
my most prized possession. He violated my lair and stole from me. They have taken my
eggs.
Hah! Caught you napping, did they? said Tamarth. A brilliant way to take the
tooth out of your bite.
I have been informed that to move from my lair is to cause the destruction of my
eggs. It is the final straw in a long list of atrocities I have been witness to.
Clever indeed, agreed Korgan. They managed to take the one thing that could
hold yer wrath at bay. Brilliant.
HaerDalis was more understanding. To stave off your wrath they have provoked it
beyond imagining. These are impressive risks they are willing to take.
You must retrieve them for me. Do this, and I will reveal a safe escape route to
leave the Underdark, one that emerges close to where Irenicus plots his next move. In
addition to placing you near your target, I will also make a gift of an item from my hoard.
It will be powerful, and worthy of your service.
I wonder what it is that you think I can do? You ask me to face an entire Drow
city.
I realize the danger of the request, but I do not ask you to simply assault the place.
No, there is a much more subtle way to succeed. You will take the identity of a group of
Drow I dispatched recently, a party from another city destined for Ust Natha. I will
transform you, and you will be able to pass among the Drow with ease. They will not see
through the fiction I create. When you arrive at the gate, tell them you are from the city of
Ched Nasad, and that you seek sanctuary within Ust Natha.
Tamarth thought the plan showed great promise. With Viconia to advise him he
should be able to slip into the city with ease.
Improvise. They are in the turmoil of war at the moment and will overlook much.
They will not turn away extra hands. You might also consult the Drow you travel with.
Im sure she will be a fountain of knowledge. She has an interest in not being discovered,
I understand. Viconia, is it not? You are a rogue and as much reviled by the Drow as any
surface dweller. Still, if you seek redemption and betray me I will end your life.
You need not threaten me, said Viconia, the only one there who felt no fear of the
dragon. Perhaps it was because she was the only one who truly knew what awaited them
in the city. Just see to the transformation.
You will not be discovered by any other means than your own mistakes, so be
careful not to make them.
The dragon cast a spell. Six drow now stood before her, alike enough to be brothers
and sister.

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It is done. You now resemble the denizens of the Drow city, complete with a house
insignia that will not draw undue attention. I suggest you act like Drow when speaking to
anyone you meet. You will also have knowledge of the language of the Drow, and your
speech will be heard as though you have spoken their dark tongue all your life. The
illusion will last as long as it needs to. Trying to leave the city through their main gate to
the surface will dispel the magic. You will be on your own against impossible odds. I am
sorry, but I must protect my interests. The only safe escape is through my influence once
my eggs are recovered. You are from the city of Ched Nasad! Your Drow name isis the
commonly used Veldrin! Do as I ask!
A male drow challenged them when they reached Ched Nasad. Who is there! You
are Drow, but there are no scheduled patrols this day! Identify yourselves!
Stand strong, Tamarth, whispered Viconia. The Drow cower before no one, least
of all their own. I will speak to this worm of a male. She shouted, You there! We are
from the city of Ched Nasad, and you will let us pass. We require rest and the services of
your temples!
You are welcome within, travelers from Ched Nasad. I regret my tone but all must
be examined before entry to Ust Natha. There would normally be an extensive
questioning of you, but we were expecting your group from Ched Nasad. Your late
arrival has delayed the plans of Solaufein. Enter quickly, and be sure that you seek
Solaufeins counsel. He of the Male Fighters Society will instruct you on your conduct
within Ust Natha. Be aware that your welcome is conditional, and that if you fail to meet
with him or fail him in any other way, you will be hunted for sport by all that care to join
in. The Male Fighters Society is in the North end of the city, past the Female Fighters
Society and just before the Spider pit.
The streets of the city were winding paths and platforms supported above the floor
of the cavern out of sight below. Just inside the gates of Ust Natha was a circular
platform, merchants lining the perimeter.
As the party walked onto this platform a male drow was berating a duergar slave. He
finished by drawing his weapon, killing the slave. Shortly afterwards, a female drow
approached, the owner of the slave. Distraught over the loss of her property, she in turn
slew the male. Tamarth appreciated the lesson.
Tamarth wandered over to look at another platform adjacent to the one they were on.
Drow surrounded an imprisoned Djinni, amusing themselves by casting spells at it.
Viconia, who stood by his side, suddenly spoke, Have I ever told you how it is that I
came to flee from the Underdark?
No, you actually havent, he answered, wondering if memories of that experience
had been awoken by her presence here.
I had worshipped the Spider Queen for an age and a half, longer than you have been
alive, but there came a time when my faith in Lolth was no more. I lapsed when a child
a babywas to die: it would not have made Lolth stronger or more influential or made
her a greater deity. I lost my will that day. One of the lesser priestesses noticed my
hesitation and she took the babes life, herself, eager to usurp my place in Lolths favor.
You are not responsible for everything the drow do, Viconia.

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Sacrifices are not the only things that die, Tamarth. There are nightmares from time
to time. And they come from my dark places. My House had fallen into disfavor with the
Dark Queen as a result of my actions, and the word spread throughout the city. My
mother scrambled to make sacrifices of wealth and servants to appease Lolth, but the
goddess would have none of it. As is custom among the drow, the weak become the prey
of the faithful. A lesser House jumped at the opportunity and began a war with ours.
Lolth was pleased at the Houses aggressionand ours had to fight twice as hard to
survive and regain Lolths favor. My mother wished me to recant, to prostate myself
before the Spider Queen and beg forgiveness. She was desperate that I do so, in fact. But
I refused. I was disgusted with my Queen, so I cursed my mother and endangered my
House. In my naivete I thought that I would survive after my actions.
Butyou obviously did survive. What happened next?
Ino. The memory of the events fills my heart with bile, Tamarth. I cannot
continue. Another time, perhaps.
Tamarth sought out Solaufein. The male drow was not pleased to see them. Ah.
You are the newcomers that have been sent my way, I see. As if I do not have enough to
accomplish in a day without suffering for the welfare of the weak. There is no refuge to
be had in Ust Natha, fools. We pay for our existence here with blood and you shall do the
same. My name is Solaufein, and for now you shall do as I say to prove your worth to the
Matron Mothers. Failure is death. And just because there is a female with you, do not
think to challenge me. You are foreignersno better than slaves until the Matron
Mothers say otherwise. Pfeh! I suppose I should get your shepherding underway. Have
you a name, vagrant? Or shall I simply refer to you as the male?
The name is Veldrin, and I demand the respect I am due! cried Tamarth,
remembering Viconias instructions not to show weakness.
Hah! You shall get none from me, regardless of your achievements in Ched Nasad!
But your spirit may serve you well in Ust Natha, if you know when to show it. No matter.
One of the Matron Mothers has taken an interest in your arrival and wishes to avail
herself of your skills. She has sent a Handmaiden to speak with you at the entrance
platform to the city. I shall be there, no doubt, to herd you on your mission like a nursing
mother. I will go to seek her out now. If you are intelligent, you will go to the entrance
platform quickly. The Handmaidens are notoriously impatient.
Viconia spoke to Tamarth after Solaufein left. I advise caution in this place. We are
fortunate not to be taken hostage as foreigners and sold as slaves. If they mean for us to
prove our place, we must serve the Matrons utterly. Any misstep, no matter how slight,
will draw the attention of the Spider Queens watchers. And no doubt they are already
curious of uswe do not need their scrutiny, yes? Remember: absolute obedience to
those of greater rank, especially the Handmaidens of Lolth and the Matron Mothers. To
those of equal or lesser rank: no mercy. Otherwise, take advantage of whatever favor is
thrown your way. For ones such as us, it is the only way to achieve what you are not born
to. No mercy. It is our way.
Tamarth led the others to the platform just inside the city gates. Solaufein was
waiting for them. A female drow was with him. Viconia whispered that the female was a

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Handmaiden of Lolth, and that Tamarth should address his comments to Solaufein unless
the handmaiden directly spoke to him.
Tamarth greeted Solaufein, who replied, You have come. Good. Your time in Ust
Natha will be far less unpleasant if you continue to perform as you are commanded in a
timely fashion. As I said, a Matron Mother has designated a task for us. Imrae, favored of
Lolth, this is the traveler from Ched Nasad who might be of great use.
Your story has been verified so far, Veldrin of Ched Nasad, said Imrae, and that
is why you have not been sold as a lowly slave or made an amusement in the tavernbut
you still have no place, here! You are fortunate, indeed, that many of our finest warriors
are busy withpreparations. Elsewhere. Fortunate enough that a Matron Mother has
decided to make use of you. Cling to that sole hope, worms, and do not fail the Matron
Motherfor if you do, the horrors of your punishment shall be far more terrible than had
we beset you at the gate! Explain what has occurred, Solaufein. And be quick about it,
male, for the Spider Queen demands my attention.
At once, Handmaiden. If I were to speak of the devourers, Veldrinyou would
know what of I speak, yes?
You mean the illithid? Yes, I know what they are. Tamarth was thankful for the
descriptions Viconia had given him of the intelligent races in the Underdark.
Yes, I believe that is the name they call themselvesvery intelligent of you. The
psions have long been one of our fiercest enemies. A Matron Mothers eldest daughter
ran afoul of devourers while scouting. Her fool companions fled or were slaughtered, and
she was taken captive. They know a prize when they have one, the devourers. They will
bring the daughter to their city, and should they reach it she shall be lost forever. With
thepreparationsof the armies, we are the only ones who can intercept these
devourers. We must go to their cavern entrance and wait for them. Handmaiden Imrae
has given me a blessed item of Lolth that will pull the devourers from their astral travel
thereand it is there we must pounce. The Matron Mother has no desire to see her eldest
daughter become a snack for the devourers, so we must not fail! Do you understand,
Veldrin?
I am to meet you at the entrance to the illithid caverns and ambush some illithid
who have a Matron Mothers daughter captive.
Exactly. The illithid tunnels are in the southeast portion of the main Underdark
cavern. I will be scouting and you will find me there when you arrive. We do not expect
the illithids for some time, yet, so you have the opportunity to rest and resupply yourself,
if that is what you wish to do. You must meet me at the entrance to the illithid tunnels
within the next twelve hours, no more. Do not be late.
Indeed, said Imrae. There are many exquisite horrors that may be found for you
in the Demonweb Pits, should you fail. And if you decide to run, the driders will
eventually track you down. As for you, Solaufeinthe Matron Mother expects even
better from you. Report to the temple before you leave the city.
A look of dismay briefly flitted over his features. Asas you wish, Handmaiden.

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Tamarth decided to take advantage of the opportunity to rest. He sought out an inn.
As he entered, Viconia said, I am ready to continue my tale, if you are willing to hear
it.
Certainly, ViconiaId be interested to hear it, he replied, taking a table in the
noisy common room for both of them.
Let me seeI had told you of my mother, correct? She was desperate to restore
Lolths goodwill to the House DeVir, and I was proving uncooperative. My mother did
the only thing she thought she could do, of course. She commanded that I be offered as a
sacrifice to appease the Spider Queen. I was surrounded by male soldiers who attempted
to cart me off to the temple. I hated my mother, but I knew that she did the right thing. I
knew that my Queen would indeed be pleased at one of her daughters being offered to
her. I fought grandly, killing many of the malesbut it was futile. I was overwhelmed,
dragged to the temple, and splayed across the altar in preparation for the priestesses to
take my life. I was frightenedterrified, in fact. I would have died, in fact, were it not
forif it were not for my brother. My poor, foolish brother. Valas
Tamarth was surprised to see her shed a solitary tear. When she did not speak for
several moments, he prompted her, Yourbrother saved you? I take it you were close?
Yes. Yes, he saved me. II am sorry, Tamarth, I do not wish to continue
discussing Valas. Excuse me.
Tamarth sensed Viconia desperately needed to tell him this story, but it was so
painful for her she could only speak in short stretches before she literally could not go on.
With Viconia silent by his side, Tamarth looked about the common room. Most of the
tables were occupied by males; from what he could overhear, they were exchanging
boasting stories, of little interest to him. Off to the side stood a male drow, in front of a
door leading into a metal cage, what looked like a fighting arena. Intriqued, Tamarth
walked over to look into the arena.
Noting his interest, the drow spoke to him. Greetings, male. I am Szordrin, the
manager of the fighting pitentertainment for us all and a chance to gain Lolths favor.
You seem a hardy type. There are several dread beasts that have been captured and await
your death-blow, if you dare. You are a Nasadran, yes? Recently arrived? I have heard of
you. There are many, here, who would desire to see if you fight as well as they say. Of
course, if you are pale and cowardly, you need not make the attempt. The Spider Queen,
however, respects only those who are strong.
What, exactly, is involved in this pit fight?
It is a simple matter, male. I open the door for a short time. You enter before I close
it. Once inside, I have the beast pushed in to fight you. If you win, you come out and
collect 250 gp as a rewardand the satisfaction of a glorious battle. You losethe slave
feasts on your remains. Very simple.
What sort of beasts would I be fighting?
We capture our foes in skirmishes in the dark tunnels, male. Shark-fiends,
devourers, eye tyrantsit depends on who survives longest, really.

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Interested in the challenge, Tamarth fought a monster supplied by the pit master. He
easily won. His bloodlust aroused, he fought several more creatures, ending by facing a
beholder. The eye tyrant was actually the easiest opponent, thanks to a magical cloak he
had picked up in the sahuagin city which reflected the magical rays from the beholders
eyes back at itself.
But the time he finished, all the patrons were gathered around the cage, excitedly
betting on the action and cheering him or his opponent, depending on how their money
rode. Tamarth hadnt considered the danger of drawing so much attention to himself, but
he consoled himself that tales of his prowess might attract the notice of the powerful in
the city.
Viconia had watched as he fought; he thought to detect a trace of approval in her
eyes as he emerged from the last bout, cut and sweating. He decided it was time to seek
his room. Viconia followed him upstairs.
Upstairs, besides rooms, was another cage. This cage, however, was not for fighting,
but to hold prisoners on display. Three male drow were in the cage. Two female drow
stood outside, taunting them.
Fools! cried one of the females, You should have fallen with your House!
The other female added her voice. Now the Mother Lolth has sentenced you to
eternal torment in the Demonweb Pits! It is no less than you deserve!!
No! Have mercy!! begged one of the males.
Free us! Let us out of here!! added another male.
Free you?! one female repeated in disbelief. You attempt to sneak into Ust Natha
and pass yourselves off as drow of a true House?! You deserve worse than this!!
No! We are loyal to the Spider Queen!! We are her faithful servants!!
You are weak and your House was weak, so she cares not. Your House has been
wiped from historys eye, and soon so shall you be.
Bastard!! Our House was strong! protested a male. We were favored by Lolth, we
were!! We *should* have been triumphant!
Yes! Loyal, we were! The male started chanting. House DeVir! House DeVir!
House DeVir is nothing. The female swept her arm above her head. Ashes on the
wind. As you, too, shall be. You should have died with your own matron, in your own
city. Nowwell, we shall see, and I shall find it most amusing.
Insolent bastards! screamed a male. This could just as easily be you, fools!
Darkness take you both!!
No, darkness take *you*! Ha ha haahahaha The two females turned away.
Viconia DeVir, Tamarth at her side, said nothing during this exchange. When
Tamarth entered his room, Viconia followed him.
She sat on his bed, then asked, Tell me somethingdid you have much of a
family?

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Why? What brings this on? he answered.


I cannot understand the relationshipsthe closeness that the families of the surface
retain with each other. In the Underdark, things are very different.
What was your family like, then?
My family was much the same as any other drow family, which is to say it is
nothing like you know a family to be. Children are raised by the priestesses or the
matrons of the Housethere is no affection or loyalty. All exist to serve Lolth. Even as
one grows older, one is little more than chattel to the House and the greater glory of
Lolth. I had fourteen sisters and each one was more of a danger and a rival then the next.
Most of them perished youngmany by my own hand. Fathers do not exist as you know
it. The males service the matron of the house when she wishes to conceiveor when she
desires pleasure. Indeed, drow males are educated in all forms of erotic pleasure. They
exist to please women, and live or die at their whim. There are normally nobrothers,
although some males are favored more than others. Most simply exist to serve Queen and
House, but this isnot always the case.
You mentioned your brother, beforehe was a special case?
My brother, Valas, was an exception to the standard drow male. He was my
childhood friendand perhaps my only friend, after all is said. As a boy he would set
cantrips about the royal hall, giggling hysterically when a hapless handmaiden would
stumble on a colossal sulfur-stink glamour. As an adult, he was a useful wizardand
amused my mother enough that she did not sell him into slavery. Hewatched over me
and protected me, and I ensured that the worst of the abuses that befell males did not
strike him. In the endhe saved my life. Heprevented my sacrifice and killed our
mother, giving me the opportunity to flee.
What happened to him, then?
Heno longer exists. Tamarth Viconia got up from the bed. I am cold and
tired and no longer in the mood to speak. Excuse me.

Phaere
The next day they left the city, to meet with Solaufein for their assigned mission.
Good, you are here, said Solaufein when they arrived. I was beginning to wonder
how long I would have to remain waiting amongst these forsaken rocks before you
showed up. But your timing could not be better. I sense that the illithids will come within
range, soon, and I may safely pull them out of the astral plane. Have you a question
before the battle, Veldrin? Make it quick.
Is there anything I should know about fighting the illithids?
Not much. Strike quickly before their mind powers can leave you helpless for them
to devour your brain at their leisure. Protect yourself, if you can. But enough talk. I sense
the illithids approach. Wait and I shall bring them out of the astral plane when they come
close.

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Solaufein poked at the magical item he had brought. Suddenly, figures appeared
around them. Umber hulks, a female drow, and what could only be the illithids, wriggling
tentacles where a mouth should be. Surprise on their side, Solaufein and the party
defeated their opponents.
The female drow addressed them after the combat. It is about time that my captors
were finally defeated. Hmph. I was beginning to think that they would reach their illithid
city, after all.
Greetings, Phaere, daughter of Ardulace, Solaufein formally spoke. I trust you are
uninjured?
Who is that? Solaufein? SoMatron Mother sent you, did she? How that must gall
you, risking your life to save mine.
I did as I was commanded.
Yes, you didas any male should. You have done well enough, I suppose, you and
yourassistance. Hmmmnwho is this male with you?
That one? That is
I am sure he can speak for himself, male. Am I correct? You have a tongue, yes?
Who might you be?
I am Veldrin of Ched Nasad, replied Tamarth.
Indeed? A foreigner? How very odd. We shall have to speak more, you and I, once
we are back in Ust Natha. I shall head back to the city on my own and inform the Matron
Mother of yoursuccessful service, Solaufein. You have proven useful. You should be
grateful.
Solaufeins face twisted in anger. You are going to return on your own? No! What
if you encounter danger once again?! I shall not be responsible for
I appreciate your touching concern, but I can handle myself, Solaufein. And it is
my command, so you have no choice. Farewell.
Phaere stalked off. Solaufein was furious. Blasted, arrogant wench! May the Spider
Queen bite at her black heart! I shall follow her, to ensure her over-confidence does not
endanger us all. Return to the city on your own, Veldrin. I shall meet you at the citys
entrance.
After treating their injuries, the party returned to the city. Solaufein and the
Handmaiden Imrae were awaiting them inside the citys gate.
You have returned, finally. Good, said Solaufein. Bad enough that I had to worry
over Phaeres safe return, I was not about to start concerning myself over yours.
Imrae was more pleased. Yes. The daughter of the Matron Mother is safely
returned. You have done an excellent service. I am told the Matron Mother is pleased.
Phaere has also sent a command to you which must not be ignored. You are to meet her
in the tavern here in the city. She wishes to speak with you, although I cannot wonder
why. She asks for you, too, Solaufein. You are all to rest and relax in the tavern as a
rewardfor your service.

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But, Handmaiden, I have no wish to began Solaufein.


Imrae cut him off. Do you wish to earn punishment a second time, male? You shall
do as she says. She shall see all of you at the tavern within a days time, no more. That is
all.
Imrae walked off. Tamarth left as well, wondering if he had some time to explore the
city before meeting Phaere. A duergar slave approached, bowing. Most powerful of
Drow, forgive my insolence in speaking before being told to do so, but I must beg your
attention a moment.
Begone, worm, he replied. I do not have time for your nonsense.
The business my master proposes is not nonsense. His interests are of paramount
importance, and I would beg of you that you not refuse what you have not yet heard. I
beg that you come close to the tank, that he might make contact with your mind.
Tank? What manner of creature is your master? asked Tamarth, spying a nearby
cylindrical tank mounted overhead. He thought to see something bulky move in its
depths.
The tank is a hindrance that my master would rather do without, but it is more
comfortable than the coldness of the stonework in the city. Come close to him, and he
will speak to your mind. It is the way of his kind. Please do not tarry, he will announce an
alarm to the city if you keep him waiting.
Tamarth approached the tank. He heard a voice speaking to him, but realized the
voice was not coming to him from outside. Somehow, the words were being directly
placed into his mind.
Hear mehear my thoughts in your mindI am ambassadorbut I have a service
I demand of youone that you will perform discreetly and with haste.
Why would I stoop to working for you, fish? asked Tamarth.
You will stoopif I so commandSURFACER! I can see it in your thoughts
clearly! Do you wish this secret announced? To the mind of every Drow within the city?
No, I did not think that you would. You will do as I ask, and you will walk away free. I
care not why you are here. The concerns of your kind are worthless. You will do the task
I set before you, or your identity will appear in the mind of every Drow within this city.
Are my thoughts clear? Good. I ask of youI command a deed of violence. I call for a
death, that I might learn more of this place. It is simple, brutal, and more suited to you
than my petty servant here. Qiluea priestessI would learn of her faith and the power
it grants. Her mind is the prize, and I would have you bring it!
Tamarth was shocked that the creature could so easily reach into his mind and see
what was there. He temporized, There is no way for me to drag a Drow Priestess to you.
Everyone will see!
I do not require her as a whole. As I said, it is her mind that I require. Kill her. Slay
her in her home and temple. Retrieve her brain, and bring it to me. That is the task. That
is the command I give. You will obey, or I reveal you, and you die. That is your choice.

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Tamarth saw he had no choice. You dont leave much room to maneuver, do you.
Very well, I will do as you say.
Qilue makes her home behind the second door from the bottom in the Female
Fighters Society. Attack quickly and none will sense the deed. Return swiftly, I
demand.
Tamarth located the priestess Qilue. Fortunately, there was only one servant with
her. He directed the party to kill the priestess and her servant, then removed her brain.
When he returned to the tank the creature inside again spoke to his mind.
Hear my willYou return. Let me see your thoughtsLet me see what you have
accomplishedThoughts enter my mindI see their ways more clearlyI see the
faithyesthis will be most useful
Well, now that youre happy, how about a reward?
Rewardyour secret kept is your rewardask no more of me or you are revealed
to all. Speak to no one of me, or you are revealed!
Tamarth was forced to be satisfied with this.
The party returned to the inn. When Tamarth entered, Phaere and Solaufein were
already present. Tamarth and the others joined them at their table.
Phaere put down her drink. Ah! So Veldrin arrives at last to greet the female that he
rescued so valiantly from the clutches of the filthy devourers!
Solaufein grimaced. Ah. I must have been invisible and uninvolved during that
encounter, I see.
I was speaking to Veldrin, Solaufein. When I speak to you, it shall be to command
you to lick my boot. Keep your bitterness silent or lose your tongue. Now, ignore your
emasculated commanders outburst, Veldrin, and consider this a time for reward and
enjoyment. Mother Ardulace was pleased by your performance. Solaufeins abilities are
known to her, but she was delighted to learn you are such a powerful fighter. Ust Natha
could use such as you, Veldrin. Amongst the drow, only the strong surviveYou could
have slaves at your beck and call, rewards at your fingertipsthe favor of Lolth. How
does this sound?
Whats the catch? asked Tamarth.
The catch is that you have to earn that favor, Veldrin. Favor and comforts are not
given out lightlythey must be purchased with blood and sacrifice.
Why dont you go ahead and carve out his heart now, Phaere? commented
Solaufein cynically. You will get to that part eventually, wont you?
Silence! Not all drow forget that sometimes a reward is worth spending a part of
yourselfor everything. It is a lesson you would do well to re-learn. Seeing as you are so
capable, Veldrin, you and Solaufein have been given another task to complete for the
greater glory of Lolth. You will meet me on the city platform, away from curious ears.
But not right awayrest and amuse yourselves for a time. I shall be here awhile. After I

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leave take no longer than a few days before you meet with me on the platform. This is as
the Matron Mother commands, and so shall it be.
Solaufein got up and left, having endured enough of Phaeres company. Tamarth
watched him leave, then turned back to Phaere. Whats the deal with you and
Solaufein?
Have you asked him this question? The answer you get may be entirely different.
Let me just say that Solaufein is too weak to be worthy of my respect. The Matron
Mother would sacrifice him to the temple for his boldness, but he has allied himself with
a powerful House. So the arrogant male walks free. But fortunes change, Veldrin.
Fortunes always change.
What can you tell me about the Matron Mother and your House?
House Despana exists in more places than merely Ust Natha, Veldrin. Here, Mother
Ardulace rules over our House and is our most favored of Lolth. I have many younger
sisters scheming for my position. The more capable, both older and younger, I have
poisoned or murdered as necessary. I am the strongest and eldest of Ardulaces
daughters, now. And when she is weak and I kill her, I will become the Mother Matron of
my House.
Excellent! You are very strong! praised Tamarth, pleased he had been noticed by
so powerful a drow.
Soon, fortune shall move House Despana above all others in Ust Natha, and I shall
be Matron Mother of Lolths most favoredstay close to my path.
Why? What is happening soon?
You shall see, Veldrin. If you are intelligent, that is.
Do you know anything about dragons?
Dragons? Perhaps. Why do you ask?
I just wanted to be sure we did not encounter anyI hear tales of a silver dragon in
the caverns that preys upon the drow.
Ah. You need not worry about such tales any longer, Veldrin. Such a creature no
longer poses a threat to us.
Why? Are you sure?
Curiosity is a poor trait to exist in a servant, Veldrin. Staunch your questions for
now, for all shall be revealed to you that you wish in good time.
Phaere took a sip from her drink, and looked off into space. Yes, enjoy the time you
have to yourself. You are fortunate, Veldrin, that my gaze has fallen upon you. With you
by my side, things will be made much easier. And, if you are an obedient and intelligent
maleand an imaginative lover, should I desireyou may engineer to make things even
easier for yourself. She, too, took her leave of them.
The party stayed where they were, ordering another round. Viconia, relaxing slightly
with the drinks and the departure of Phaere, began to talk to Tamarth in a low voice.

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Mybrotheris what finally made me break my faith fully from the Spider Queen. His
actions, I meansaving me from sacrifice.
I thought you lost your faith when you refused to sacrifice the baby.
I had begun to question Lolths appetite for power and absolute devotion with the
child, but I did not cast her out of my heart fully until Valas saved my life.
Why would your brothers saving you do that?
Valas used his magic to free meand when my mother became enraged and tried
to stop him from ruining the House, he killed her. It was the ultimate act of defiance for a
drow male, and Lolth did what she does to all males who defy her. She transformed him
into a drider, a half-drow half-spider creature of pure malice and base instinct. Valas was
wiped away, replaced by thismonstrous thing. I cursed Lolths name for what she had
done to him. I renounced the Dark Queen with every fiber of my beingand she was not
pleased. She abandoned me, left me completely without power. I had no brother, no
power and House DeVir was, as far as I knew, falling. I was forced to flee the Underdark,
making my way quickly to the surface before the other drow could stop me, cursing and
crying the entire way.
If Lolth was able to do that to your brother, Im surprised she didnt do worse to
you.
Yesso am I. Butthat does not mean she will never do so. Viconia sighed,
gesturing towards the taverns exit. Come, Tamarththe road beckons.
They left the tavern. Phaere and Solaufein were awaiting them at the promised
location.
When Tamarth went up to Solaufein, he snorted, Dont talk to me. Phaere dragged
us here, and she has told me nothing. You are unfortunate enough to have her favorpry
her plans from her.
Ah, you have finally come, said Phaere. Good. Your timing is excellent, as I had
just arrived here recently, myself. I trust you are ready to leave presently.
What, exactly, are we to be ready for, Phaere? asked Solaufein. Why have you
brought us out here? Is this some fool ambition of yours?
None of my ambitions are foolish, Solaufein. And we are here to perform a service
for the good of the city and the Matron Mother.
I wasnt aware Mother Ardulace did anything for the good of the city.
Silence! You will obey, male! An eye tyranta beholderis in the city, smuggling
adamantine. The Matrons have decided we are to kill it.
What is this?! Did you say we?
I did. I am to join you in this duty. The eye tyrant has come on his Spelljammer
ship, near here. Solaufein and I will go and scout it out, alone. VeldrinI trust you can
find your own way to the ship. It is off one of the platforms in the southeast of Ust Natha.
Do not take too long to catch up. Come, Solaufein. We can catch up on old times.

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Phaere and Solaufein disappeared, teleporting away. The party followed more
slowly, not having a magical means of transportation available. They caught up with the
pair on an isolated platform. No one else was around, although a floating ship was
moored to the platform. The ship reminded Tamarth of the one used by the githyanki to
attack Saemons vessel.
Veldrin! Finally! cried Phaere in relief. We have been watching the crew leave
the ship for their rest, and I suspect the eye tyrant is soon to follow! We must be ready!
Make sure none of your attacks harm either myself or Phaere, cautioned Solaufein.
Such accidents happen far too oftenand you are not trusted, here. Tamarth
wondered if the warning wasnt more for Phaere than himself.
Hmph. Indeedalthough I can -- started Phaere, then she broke off. Wait! Wait,
be still! It comes, I sense it! Be ready!!
A beholder exited the ship. They attacked it; again, Tamarths magical cloak proved
of use. The beholder was killed without serious injury to its attackers.
A most brilliant victory! crowed Solaufein after the battle. The Spider Queen
smiles on us today! We have spat in the great eye of the eye tyrants and live to tell the
tale!
Indeed. Well done, said Phaere to the party. Do not disturb the carcass, however.
There will be several acolytes coming to deal with it.
Solaufein was suspicious. Deal with it? What do you speak of, Phaere? Why would
acolytes wish to do anything with the corpse of an eye tyrant?
Ask me no questions, Solaufein. We shall return to report to the Matron Mothers.
VeldrinI will see you again in the tavern in three days.
What is going on, here, Phaere? This is too suspicious.
Do as you are commanded, male, and live. Veldrin, journey about the city at your
willbut remember our meeting. Do not be late!
Korgan, too, had been pleased by the battle. He commented to Edwin, Ye know,
Bag of Tricks, ye and I are nay so different. Ye fetch awe with eye of newt and tongue of
salamander. I with battleaxe and bloodlust.
A rather bold conjecture dont you think, Korgan? Edwin replied.
Nay, not so bold. The rest of these backpeddlers avent a clue. Ye and I, we know
the longlimbs capacity fer the horrible and severe, eh friend? We know.
Youre an odd little fellow, Korgan. Im not quite sure what to make of you and
your chagrins.
They spent the three days wandering about the city, taking what amusement they
could from what they saw. They witnessed the ceremonial feeding of captives to spiders
of Lolth, and a few times saw floating ships moving about the city, but at the end of the
three days they were all bored. Except Viconia, who had become more and more nervous.
On the third day, as they prepared to sleep at the inn, Viconia asked Tamarth into her
room. She indicated the bed. If you wouldif you would please sit with me for a

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moment before retiring, I would be thankful. I find myself uncharacteristically overcome


with anxiety and I am noteagerto be alone for the evening.
Certainly. Tamarth sat down beside her. Viconia, youre shaking! What is the
matter?
I have beenthinking of Lolth. She is cruel, not known for forgiveness, and always
takes revengecollecting the lapsed and fallen. I know she will come for me.
What makes you think that? Why would she be so interested in you personally?
She will answer any summons simply to make a vainglorious entrance and impress
the gathered. I have seen her power, what she does to those who fall from grace. It is
because I have seen, because I have felt the lash of tentacle rods, that she willwill leave
me to think I am safe or free and then she will come for me. II dream of Valas,
sometimes, and I try to speak to him in my dreams. But he is only a monster, now, and I
scream when his horrid spider legs caress meI thinkwhat can Lolth do to me if she
has done this to Valas? What worse torments await me when she finally decides to
come?! Tamarth, I am frightened to my very core! Do not leave me alone! Stay with me
this night. II need to feel your flesh next to mine, to embrace your strength
Tamarth took her in his arms. All rightI will stay with you, if that is what you
wish.
I do. Come to my arms out of view of prying eyesplace your hand against my
darkly trembling heart and I will show you the boundaries of passion as only I can
Tamarth awoke the next morning refreshed, relaxed as he had not been since arriving
in Amn. Viconia was already awake, sitting up in the bed. Tamarth smiled lazily, taking
in the sight of her bare upper body. Viconia scowled back.
Well. I see that you are finally awake. I hope that your pathetic exertions of last
night brought at least one of us some measure of pleasure.
Tamarth swallowed the angry reply that came to mind, instead saying, I was only
trying to comfort you, ViconiaI didnt promise anything amazing.
It was not. I have seen limp and blind fish with more virility than you. I would have
preferred the crude pawings of a goblin than suffered your rough hands!
I dont understand you. Last night youre practically begging for me to hold you,
now you act like I forced myself upon you!
Do not deny your salivating male desires, fool. I found the thought of your touch
pleasing, but now I know betteryou are nothing more than a boy in mans clothing!
I dont believe you, Viconia. You opened up to meand now you snap shut again.
Why?
Do not attempt to render judgement on my mind, imbecile! Justleave me be! Let
me scour the stain of your touch from meand be done with it!
Tamarth thought he might be coming to understand her after all. Everytime she
showed what she considered weakness, she withdrew. It wasnt only lust they had
experienced in the night; they had both found something more than either had probably

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ever expected to find in anyone. Tamarth wondered if Viconia was afraid of what she had
found. He knew he was.
They met with Phaere and Solaufein. Phaere was glad to see Tamarth. It is good
that you have come, Veldrin. Up until now I have only had the company of Solaufein,
and his pathetic melancholy has nearly drained my patience. So I shall be brief and send
you on your way. You would like that, Solaufein, yes?
Just spit it out, if you must, replied Solaufein.
Very well. The Matron Mothers have decided the deep gnomes, the svirfneblin,
have not shown enough fear of the drow as of late. So it is time to teach them a lesson.
Mother Ardulace has volunteered you for this particular service.
Youyou want me to kill svirfneblin?! Gnomes?! Such a minor task, and I am to
waste my time on it?! I have better things to do, woman!!
You have better things to do than to serve the Queen of the Demonweb Pits?
Mother Lolth, herself?
Bah! As if the Spider Queen would care what we do with the deep gnomes! Send
Veldrin, if youre so interested! Im sure he can do it without me, I assure you!
No. You will go with Veldrin. Argue again and it shall be your tongue, Solaufein.
Approach the svirfneblin village in the great caverns and await a patrol. Slaughter them
and bring back proof of the deed. Return here in a few days.
Jan suddenly spoke, forgetting his assumed role. Butwhat harm have the deep
gnomes done? They are harmless, really, just miners and other types of simple folk.
Perhaps a bit dour, and I never heard of one of them ever liking a turnip, but not too bad
overall. Is all this really necessary?
An odd sentiment, for a drow, said Phaere with displeasure. What would you
propose? Mercy? How would that look to our true enemies? You shall do as I say without
a further word.
If this is what the Matron Mother decrees, then I have little choice, said Solaufein
resignedly. I will go, now. Veldrin, catch up quicklyI expect you there without delay.
They met up again with Solaufein outside the city, near the svirfneblin mining camp.
Solaufein groused at their arrival, saying, Finally, there you are. We shall wait here for
the patrol to come to us. One will come soon, I expect, and then we can get this over
with.
Good! I cant waitthis should be easy, replied Tamarth, answering as he
imagined a normal male drow would.
Hmph. You are actually looking forward to this? The deep gnomes are weak, this is
too simple a task. It is almost beneath me to even be here.
Even to Tamarth it was obvious Solaufein was not like other drow. Tamarth decided
to tweak him further. Any chance to prove Drow superiority should be relished. You are
weak to suggest otherwise.

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This proves nothing more than the bloodthirstiness of the Matron Mothers, fool,
although I am sure that will please the Spider Queen well enough on its own. (sigh) It
should not be long. Prepare yourself and do nothing idiotic.
They waited in the darkness a little while, until a deep gnome patrol happened by.
The fighting was quickly finished, all of the gnomes lay dead but one, who they allowed
to escape to tell his masters what had happened.
Solaufein had been put in a worse mood by the combat. It is done. Pfeh. I am
returning to the city, now. Find the leaders helmet, Veldrin. Return quickly to the tavern
with it and I shall meet you there.
Tamarth searched the bodies, taking the trophy helmet Solaufein hadnt been willing
to wait for. When he returned to Phaere, Solaufein was at her side. He approached
Phaere, holding forth the helmet.
Ahhhyou return, said Phaere, and with a svirfneblin helmet, no less. Good. I
am sure the gnomes are scrambling as we speak to provide a tribute to the Matron
Mothers.
Hmph, commented Solaufein. Ah, yes, I am sure the gnomes were suitably
impressed by our display of viciousness. No doubt they had no inkling we were capable
of such a feat.
What is this? Are you losing your stomach for blood, Solaufein? The Spider Queen
would be displeased to hear such, I would think.
I save my wrath for the drows true enemies. Lolth knows this, as does the Matron
Mother of my own House.
It is not for you to decide, male! I shall have your bloody heart ripped from your
chest on the altar if you continue to speak!
I call your bluff, arrogant one. Act and you risk war between your House and mine.
How would Mother Ardulace see that, I wonder?
It is almost worth it to silence your impudent tongue! If a Handmaiden were to see
you speak to me such, she would flay you open without a second thought!
You should be so lucky, Despana bitch.
Bah! I will listen to no more! Veldrin! Meet me within my private quarters in the
Female Fighter Society tower. Within one hour, Veldrindo *not* be late.
Why? Why your private quarters? asked Tamarth.
Because I wish privacy, worm! Fail to attend me and I shall have you dragged there
screaming by hooks!!
Phaere left, quickly followed by Solaufein. Phaeres last words indicated to Tamarth
how she really felt about him. He vowed to see her dead before he left the city.

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Assassination
Phaere was still upset when they entered her quarters. You are lucky that my mood
is improved, male. I was pondering having you tortured for my amusement, but the whim
has passed. You neednt look so nervous, fool. If I desired you for intimate matters,
youd be naked and sweating already. No, I need you for something else. You are aware
of my relationship with Solaufein, yes? You do not need to stare at me blankly. Our
animosity is open and obvious. His insolence is beyond all endurance. I cannot tolerate it
further without risking my position in Lolths hierarchy. But I also cannot take action that
would be traced back to myself or my House without risking war. So you shall take
action for me. You will kill Solaufein.
What would be my reward for this task? asked Tamarth.
Your reward is continued existence and my continued favor. You will do this
because I command itor you shall suffer unspeakable torments. We are drow, and the
drow show no mercy. My opportunity is nearly upon me, and I will not be distracted by a
gnat at my back. Solaufein has been given time off from his regular dutiesyou will find
him in his quarters in the Male Fighters Society, sulking as is his wont. He will not be
expecting youbut nor will he suspect your true intentions, I imagine. He will greet you,
and then you will kill him. Those of my House would be the first questioned for his
deathbut you, without allies of any House, can get away with his murder. Once you are
done, take hishmmmtake his piwawfi cloak and bring it back to me here. It shall
make an excellent trophy. That is all. Do you understand what I ask of you, Veldrin?
Telling anyone will bring death down upon yourself. I shall keep your secret if you keep
mine.
I understandand I look forward to killing that arrogant bastard. Truthfully,
Tamarth was fed up with the gloomy Solaufein.
It is good to see a drow male with a commendable lust for power. Continue this
attitude, Veldrin, and things in Ust Natha will prove favorable for you. Go, then. You
have three days to hunt down the fool and return with his cloak. Do not fail me, Veldrin.
Before we leap upon our target, my raven, said HaerDalis after they left, at least
consider the possibility that perhaps their are other choices. Perhaps we should play a
game of intrigue, as well, and see what Solaufein has to say, yes?
Tamarth was anxious, seeing a chance to gain access to the highest level of a drow
house, and ignored the words of HaerDalis.
Solaufein was surprised when they entered his quarters. Veldrin?! What are you
doing here? The Matron Mothers have not given me another task so soon, have they? I
was given leave to rest!
No, Solaufein. I was sent here to kill youtime to die, fool, answered Tamarth
coldly.
Soshe acts at last, eh? It had to end like this, one way or another. Well, you will
not find me an easy target, sniveling whelp!!
Solaufein took the stroke that ended his life with a slight smile on his face, as though
glad to finally be done with his life. Tamarth grabbed his cloak, ready to return to Phaere.

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Jan sadly commented, Being around this group too long is sort of like having the
Calimshite itch, isnt it? Except for the uncomfortable burning sensation. And the rash.
But still.
Phaere was awaiting his return. Ah, I see you carrying his piwawfi, my darling
Veldrin. HeSolaufein is dead, yes? Yesof course, hehe is dead. Heregive it to
me. Phaere took the cloak, staring at it for a few moments, reliving some memory. She
quoted a line to herself, All love is foolish.
She looked up, hardening her expression. You have done well, Veldrinyou have
earned a place of honor in this House by serving me well. This shall not stop, naturally.
FirstI will speak to you alone, Veldrin.
Phaere drew Tamarth into her bed chamber. I find you useful, Veldrin. You are a
strong and powerful maleworthy of my bed. You shall remain here for a time and
please meCome.
Im all for that! Tamarth said with faked enthusiasm.
Excellent. I shall show you, my dark Veldrin, why an evening with Phaere is worth
more than an eternity with all other women. ComeI am anxious to begin
Tamarth spent a nerve-wracking night, trying to physically satisfy Phaere while not
breaking his role of a submissive male, and not letting his contempt for her show. He
would as soon have bedded one of Lolths spiders.
Even after Phaere fell asleep he long lay awake, nervously considering his stay was
sure to come to a climax soon, one way or another. It seemed like he had just finally
fallen asleep when Phaere woke him, saying, Ah. Finally you awaken. Comerise, lazy
one. I was almost ready to call in the slaves and have you beaten. There is much for you
to do. It is time to introduce you to the Matron Mother of House Despana, Veldrin.
Mother Ardulace is anxious to see the male who has done so much for Ust Natha. You
will go to the temple and meet myself and Mother Ardulace there. Do not delay,
VeldrinMother Ardulace wishes to speak with you immediately.
Phaere, already dressed, left the room. He quickly dressed as well, but he still felt
terrible. When he left her chamber the rest of the party was waiting for him. They were
obviously well-rested, no doubt having spent the night in a comfortable bed at the inn.
Viconias words to him didnt make him feel any better.
It seems that you cannot resist the spell that drow female cast, Tamarth. I find it
quite amusing, actually. Did she force you into the act, or did you go willingly? No
matter. Hopefully we have the opportunity to kill the wench. Were I not in hiding, I
would challenge her openly and remove her headbut we cannot have everything.
The party reported to the temple. Phaere was quick to introduce him to the matron
mother.
Ah! Here you are! Matronthis is the male that I spoke to you of, Veldrin.
I can see him well enough, fool girl, said Matron Mother Ardulace, head of House
Despana. You think I am blind? EhhhI see nothing special about him. What fascinates
you so?

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Matron, he is an excellent fighterand he is the one that rid House Despana of


itsotherproblem.
*This* is that one? Illithids, eye tyrants, gnomesand the mighty Solaufein! Are
you sure? To me he looks scrawny, and there issomethingodd
I am positive, matron, that he could prove of great use to you.
Ehhhperhaps. Let him prove it, then, if he is to become so favored in the eyes of
Despana. You, boy! You thereVeldrin, is it? Pay attention. The eye tyrant you killed
coming from their so-called city. It was not the right type. I told the girl, here, which type
I required and that was not the one.
But, matron, I
Silence, girl! Ill not swallow your lies! Speak again and Ill send you into the pits
of Lolthwould you like to deal with the drider again so soon, girl? Now, Veldrinyou
have proven yourself as competent. This is good. House Despana needs competence, a
rare commodity when one is surrounded by fools. House Despana is about to embark on
the path to greatness, Veldrin. You can tie yourself tightly to us. Mother Lolth approves
of the successful. But I require something rather rare to begin this path. You might
acquire it for me. So I shall give you the task and see if you can earn Despanas favor. I
need the blood of one of the neighbor races, Veldrin. The noble races only, and blood
from one of their most powerful members. A dangerous task. Your first option is to
acquire the blood of an Elder Orb, most powerful of the eye tyrants. Its blood or its eye. I
bade the fool girl do this, but she failed.
The Spelljammer tyrant was supposed to be an elder, matron! I swear that is what
the spies had reported! They must have exaggerated!
SILENCE!! You should have checked on it yourself, girl! Do you rely solely on this
male to be your strength and your wits?!
No, matron, I do not.
Enough! Should you go after the Elder Orb, you will no doubt find one in their
tunnels in the southeastern portion of the main caverns. Your other option is to gather
blood from the Elder Brain of the Illithid. The Elder Brain is guarded in the Illithid city,
through the southeast caverns. Go, then, Veldrin. Bring me the blood of one of these
creatures. House Despana awaits your returnbut do not tarry. This is my command.
Very well, I will do my best, agreed Tamarth
Of course you will. Go, now, and begin your task.
After the left the temple, in the street outside, a male drow approached them. Hold,
friends, he said. I have heard of your prowess, as of lateperhaps you will have
interest in a business proposal of mine.
Who are you? asked Tamarth.
I am Visaj, a merchant of some note within this cityalthough you will not have
heard of me, no doubt, since you are newcomers. No matter. I notice you are well
equipped with magic, among other things, so I have assumed you may be interested in

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purchasing an item I currently have in my possession. See this golden rope I have here?
Tis a relic of no small power, yours for the buyingif this is of any interest to you, of
course.
That depends. What does this rope do?
Well now, what this gilded rope can do and what it can be used for are separate
things. A bit of explanation is necessary in order for you to understand. First, to add
credibility to its value, you must know that the rope belonged to the infamous Jarlaxle,
until I stole it, that is. You do know of whom I speak, yes?
Viconia answered. I know of this drow. An infamous mercenary, leader of the
Bregan Daerthea powerful rogue known throughout the Underdark.
Correct, and he always has much magic in his possession, and this rope was once
his. Sad for him that he didnt have it during his stay in Ust Natha, to be sure.
Sad? Why is it? asked Tamarth.
As the story went, Jarlaxle came on a mission for House Jaellat, helping in a war
against House Gillish. Twas done in an orgy of blood to please even Lolth. In the
sacrifices that followed, though, the Matron of Jaellat refused to pay Jarlaxle, saying that
the service rendered to the Spider Queen should be payment enough. According to the
tales, Jarlaxle simply bowed and left even as the gathered House mocked him and spread
the story of his foolishness.
What does this have to do with the rope?
Jarlaxle enacted a plan of revengehe planned on acquiring the wardstone that
would allow him entrance into House Jaellat so he could return their favor. But the
wardstone was held by the ancient founder of Ust Natha, Deirex, a powerful lich residing
in the mage tower. The rope was to protect Jarlaxle from Deirexs magic. I, ah, swapped
the real rope with a fake, however. Jarlaxles men were imprisoned by the lich and the
rogue was laughed out of the city for the failure. This is the real rope, howeverwith it,
you would be immune to Deirexs power and could loot the mage tower as you pleased!
Consider the possibilities!
How do I know you arent just trying to sell me some other fake rope?
The dweomer is obvious; see how it glows! And to be honest, if the rogue ever
attempts to regain it, Id rather not have it on me.
So you think Jarlaxle might come looking for it?
One can never be sure. If he does, you seem more capable of dealing with him than
I. Use it quickly and dispose of it and he may never know.
Interesting. How much are you asking for it?
Not much at all. A mere thousand gold and its yours, my Lord.
Tamarth was interested in the challenge being presented him. If the rope proved a
fake he could spare the gold. Thats a fair price. Here you go.

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Excellent, that is a relief. You should be able to enter the mage tower and be safe,
said Visaj, point towards the tower, though I wouldnt attack Deirex if you can avoid it.
Good luck, friend.
When they entered the tower the lich was waiting for them. Undead, it might have
been standing in the same spot for decades. Deirax spoke without movement of its
withered lips or bony jaw, Ah! More fleshlings to disturb me?! What isahyou have
the twisted cord in your possession, eh? Well it shall do you no good, fool!
Before anyone in the party could react, the lich cast a spell. The room they were in
seemed to twist about them. Tamarth had a moment to consider whether this was the last
sight he would ever see, when his surroundings firmed in a new configuration. The party
was in a room. A male drow stood before them.
Ah! It worked, he said, pleased. I wasnt sure it wouldthese things have a way
of never working out exactly as you plan. Thinking on the fly is an occupational hazard.
Hmmmyou must be Jarlaxle, then, surmised Viconia. How rare to meet one so
infamous.
The one and the same. Charmed, Im sure, pretty lady.
Jarlaxle? Then Visaj lied! exclaimed Tamarth. The rope didnt work!
Lied? Now that is rather harsh language. VisajVisaj, are you about?
Visaj strode forward, having been standing in the shadows. I am here, commander,
at your service.
Yes, I see that. Allow me to introduce my lieutenant, Visaj. Visaj, I am sure you are
already familiar with Veldrin, yes? Tell medid you lie to him?
I did not, commander.
I didnt think so. Visaj said the rope would protect you from Deirexs imprisonment
spell, and it did. You are here, not in some miniscule hellish sub-plane. This is a pocket
plane, headquarters of the Bregan Daerthe, my mercenary band. I hoped the rope would
bring you here, and I see that it has. Welcome, Veldrin.
Tamarth was not pleased at the trick played on him. You had better tell me what
you want, and quickly, or things are going to get very bloody.
I wanted to see if you would actually attempt to face the lich. Call it a test of your
courage, if you will. With most of my men imprisoned by the lich, Ive hardly anyone left
to do what I require doneand I cant go asking just anybody, now, can I?
I refuse to be manipulated! Ill do nothing for yousend me back or youll regret
being born, I swear!
Now, now. This isnt how its done. You listen to my offer and *then* you
gesticulate helplessly. That is, before you agree to do as I ask. After all, do *you* know
how to use the rope and leave this sub-plane? But lets not get unpleasantall I wish is a
friendly chat. Then you may decide.
Fine. Be quick about it, then.

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Well, you were about to deal with the lich, anyway, before he cast you into the
planes. I simply need you to acquire something that he has in his possession.
The wardstone for the House of Jaellat?
No, no. Even I know when to give up on a plan. My men come first. The lich has
numerous gems that contain the souls of my men, and I want them back. Whether you kill
the lich or not is up to you. Killing him would allow you to loot the tower, I suppose, but
however you get those gems is of no concern to me. Once you gather up the gems, I will
use the rope to pull you back into the headquarters, here. Easy enough, yes? You are
ready to go, then?
You are quite presumptuous, fool! shouted Tamarth, enraged. I would prefer to
kill you than do any task for you!!
Oh, right. Were at the gesticulating helplessly part, arent we? Visaj, I thought I
told you to remind me when we arrived at this point.
Visaj nodded. My apologies, commander. An oversight on my part.
Youre forgiven. As for you, dear friends, I think you will *want* to do this. You
wouldnt want your true identity revealed, would you. Tamarth? Ahhhh, theres no
need for such a glare, Tamarth. I am confident you will acquire the gems, and such action
will be unnecessary. And if you kill Deirex you have access to his tower. You could even
take the Jaellat wardstone and pillage House Jaellat, if you wish. Its all good. I just
want to make sure that you find those gems in a timely manner. Hmmmhow long
would you say would be fair, Visaj? An hour?
Perhaps a day, commander. We are in no rush.
Right. Tamarth wont need it, but just to be sure. You have one day, Tamarth, to get
my gems. Make sure you hold onto the ropeyoull need it. See you then. And, oh
give my warmest regards to the lich.
With a word, Jarlaxle transported them back to the city of Ust Natha. Seeing no
choice for the moment, Tamarth decided he would go along with Jarlaxles plan.
The lich Deirax was shocked to see them reenter its tower. What?! You return?!
Impossible!! Since you cannot be imprisoned properly, it seems I shall have to deal with
you fleshlings once and for all. So be it!
Not having to fear its imprisonment spell, they surrounded the lich and destroyed it.
They then searched the tower. In a cabinet, they found a small box containing numerous
sparkling gems, like nothing Tamarth had seen before. As he stood admiring them, the
room around him shifted. He, and the others in the party, were back in the presence of
Jarlaxle.
And here you are, once again, with gems in hand! crowed Jarlaxle. Really,
Tamarth, you have lived up to my expectations and then some! Ill take those gems,
thank you. Ahhh, precious, arent they? To think the Jaellat have squirreled away such
beauty for a millennia. What do you figure theyll get on the market, Visaj?
A considerable amount, commander. There are more than a few nobles who would
pay dearly for the opportunity to vex the Jaellat, regardless of their worth.

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True enough. I wish I could be there to see the Matron Mothers face when she
finds out we got our payment, anyway.
Eh? What is this? commented HaerDalis. Did yon blackbird not say, earlier, that
the souls of his comrades were trapped in those baubles?
Would I risk my men against the lich? I just wanted the payment I was due, as well
as collecting the price of the Matron Mothers insult to the Bregan Daerthe. I have not
only collected the soul gems of the Matron who founded the Jaellat, but you killed their
ally Deirex, a member of their own House. I think matters between the Bregan Daerthe
and House Jaellat are pretty much even, now, wouldnt you agree, Tamarth?
Tamarth didnt agree. Even if his anger hadnt been aroused by Jarlaxles treatment,
Jarlaxle had every reason to muddle his trail by revealing the party for who they were.
Ill kill you for trying to manipulate me.
Such a temper, Tamarth. It doesnt suit you. Here I am allowing you to keep your
little secret and youre blustering on with threats. Not good at all. You do remember that
my men are not imprisonedwe are able to protect ourselves from the likes of you. Do
you truly wish to pursue this foolishness?
Im going to kill you, drow, and nothings going to stop me!
A shame. Your funeral.
Tamarth signaled the others. They attacked Jarlaxle and Visaj. Jarlaxle had
underestimated the prowess of the party, and died before he could trigger any powerful
spells or call for aid. As soon as he died the spell keeping the party in his pocket
dimension dissolved, returning them to the lichs tower.
Korgan had been especially glad to get back at the trickster, joyously hewing Jarlaxle
with his axe. He commented, Ye know, though ye all be gutless, clumsy and nay too
bright, this party is a sight better than me former crew of delvers and neer-do-wells.
What happened to your former companions, Korgan? asked Tamarth, curious.
A proud crew we were. We neer blinked when adventure called. Purses
overflowed, bellies was full, but the wheels left the wagon, the house of cards collapsed.
We were spelunking some old Duergar shafts down south, a badly- built construct of ill
attention and nay craft I may add, when we happen upon a hive of ooze. Dispatched with
ease, but mild strife later, Stitchs armor began to dissolve. Smoked like a chimney, and
he squealed like a yardpig! E wouldnt stop wailing. And I had to stop him flailing about
while he struggled with his melting armor, so I hit him. And killed him. Accident, really,
but he rankled me nerves. Then Hogbelly had his legs crushed when a hill giant fell on
im, so he had to go. And Cutter went and got infected with plague so I up and broke his
neck, to save him the agony. See, the plague had weakened him severely and he wasnt
worth the trouble, anymore.
They had it coming, Korgan, agreed Tamarth. Its a relief to see a man of action
aware of that. Tamarth made it a point to stay on the crazy dwarfs good side, assuming
he had such a thing. If Korgan challenged him for party leadership, he could only count
on Viconia and probably Jan to help him. And Korgans idea of a challenge would
probably be an unexpected axe blow to the base of the neck.

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Pleased that ye think so, dog-flogger. I had t act on a couple occasionsout o


necessity, like when we happened upon a hive of giants. Twenty or so infested the hills
up at Saradush. Families o them ravaged farms with no mercy. We heard it from a
pointy-ear in the Forest of Mir, so fate called. A great melee ensued. Ol Widowmaker
sent six-over to the hells that day, but Hogbelly, bless his deformed visage, got under a
toppling mountain o man. Was not unlike kindling cracklin, and he whined fer his legs
all nightMe legs are gone! Ah, me precious legs! I chopped some peg-legs, but hed
not have it.
Please continue, Korgan. This is quite a tale.
So I held im whilst two swings from Widowmaker put him cold. Our Bag of
Tricks, Scrooloose, closed the wounds. But then he wouldnt stop groaning. I got tired of
it, an that night put me knife in his belly. He stopped moaning after that. But my work
werent done yet. I had to make it look like trolls or gnolls grabbed him unawares, to
throw suspicion off o me. Strange thing, the whole time I swear his eyes followed me,
though he was long dead by then. Hmph.
Sounds like fun was had by all. Of course, others might treat you the same way.
If I be in position to do nothing, then I deserves what comes. Truly, Id be happy if I
be put out o whining misery. Dont worry, Id do the same fer you
It was time to seek the illithid city. They left Ust Natha, entering the caves outside
the city.
Viconia suddenly turned to Tamarth, saying, I have been thinking about how you
have refused to take up your destiny as the son of BhaalYou have no impetus to carve
an empire, and you are certainly no Lord of Murder. I have decided you are weak and
cowardly, not fit for the godsblood flowing within you.
What brings this on? asked Tamarth, sourly wishing she would hurry up and finish
her withdrawal phase.
You nauseate me, Tamarthis that not reason enough? I look upon you and I see
something that I would rather squish under my boot!
Again you snap shut on me. Is it so hard to deal with someone as a confidante and
equal, Viconia?
Arrgh! How irritating you are when you presume so! Get away from my sight!
Away!

City of the Illithids


The entry to the illithid city was unguarded. Suspicious, Tamarth led the others
through the doorway, alert for any trap. Suddenly, three mind-flayers appeared around
the party.
A chittering noise emanated from the writhing tentacles of the illithid. A sharp pain
penetrated Tamarths mind. Images of pain and cruelty, fighting pits and slavery filled his
skull. Then he lost consciousness

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He awoke upon a hard stone floor. What tortures the mind flayers had in store for
him was unknown, but a sense of dread fell over him nevertheless. The other members of
the party were present in the cell as well. They did not have long to wait before the door
to their cell opened.
An Ogre stood there. Ahh, you wakey wakey now, I sees? Goods! Now it time to
fight!
What is this place? asked Tamarth.
Questions, questions, always da new fighters got the same questions. You listen
then, and I tell you what you need to know. First thing, I not the one that capture. You
trespass on the home of the flayers, and you got caught. Now you pay for your stay.
Understand? Next thing, you better fight well in the arena, because if you dont fight
well, you die. If you dont fight at all, you die. Maybe you live long enough to get servant
position. Better than fighting. Oh, last rule, never attack the flayers. You are in their
home. They kill you with their thoughts.
So I must fight for the amusement of the flayers? Do you mean Mind Flayers?
I mean the masters that control the fights. You do as I say and they dont kill you.
You will face many opponents before you are servant like me. You will live if you fight
well. I warn though: do not anger spectators. They extra strong in this place because of
big brain. First battle begins now!
The ogre led them to a small arena. A tall wall about the fighting pit was broken only
by the door through which they had entered, and another opposite. Tamarth could only
imagine illithids watching them from the shadows above.
Three umber hulks were released into the arena; after they had killed them, the ogre
led them back to their cell, commenting, Well! You fight well! For now you live! I come
tell you when next battle begins.
When they reentered their cells, they found the door to an adjoining cell was
unlocked. Opening the door, Tamarth was surprised to see several githyanki.
I see we are not alone in this place, said one. It is the worse of fates, for we are
entrapped by the feared and despicable illithids. And to think we would suffer the same
fate as you; you who should have died in our ambush upon the sea. We are all destined
for the same fate, as playthings in the arena. A foul way to end a beings life, I think.
So you will fight here? We will probably have to fight each other then.
Perhaps we shall, and one of us will have to die. It is not a threat we are unfamiliar
with. We came to this realm with the thought of battle, to reclaim a silver sword. But our
ship was capsized and now we are in custody of the most hated of enemies, the illithid
mind flayers. This is an abomination I will not allow. We harbor a special hatred for the
illithid, and we will see them dead before we are done. Or we die ourselves.
Tamarth was amused. The attackers of Saemons ship had ended up here. He
wondered if they suspected who might be hiding beneath their drow forms.
Well, what a happy bunch of fellows, commented HaerDalis. Im resigned to
fate myself, but they *really* bring me down.

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Viconia frowned at the githyanki. The capture alone is enough to place the desire
for their deaths in my soul. You need more than that?
I can speak no more, said the githyanki captain. My charges must meditate for the
coming battle. It will take great strength of mind to escape this place. Great strength.
Tamarth closed the door between the two cells. They waited a short while, then
heard the outer door of the adjacent cell being opened. The githyanki captain called out,
They come, and we are drawn to the fight. Weapons ready, my charges, for we are about
to be taken into the sight of the most hated illithids.
When the githyanki returned from the arena, their captain opened the door between
the cells, seeking the party out. You there, we have fought in our battle and I believe we
are scheduled to face each other when next the jailer comes. We could each boast about
who will live, but I believe a far better plan is before us. It is a slim chance, but it is the
only one that is available.
I am listening, replied Tamarth.
As your jailer has told you, the illithids are strong here in their house. They have
power here to slay as they wish, and escape is impossible. But we of the Githyanki have
power of our own, and I believe we may be able to disrupt the illithids and allow another
to make an escape. When we are called to battle, we of the Githyanki will meditate within
the ring, pushing back the minds of the illithids. You may then open the arena doors that
we may all escape. You must find a way out of the Illithid city. We will distract the
Illithids until you succeed in forcing your way from this twisted city. Once our
meditations are done there will be no more instant death in the arena, but through the
door is the only path that is possible.
Then that is what I will do. We will work together.
Then ready yourself, for the time of battle is at hand. The jailer will come for us
both soon.
It wasnt long before the ogre came to loose them from their cage. Now you fight
again. Keep up good work. I cheer for you guys, I think. Those Githyanki is awful sour in
the face. You fight them Githyanki this time. Hope you didnt talk too much with them.
That makes the killing harder, I know.
The party entered the arena. The githyanki were already there, along with a group of
kuo-toans. The githyanki captain said, We begin the meditation. Slay these kuo-toans
and find our escape from this place. We will deal with the hated Illithid.
After killing the kuo-toans, they found the door to the arena unlocked. The
githyankis mind trick had worked. They passed through the door. Tamarth did not
hesitate when he saw the ogre servant, leading the others in cutting him down.
They searched several chambers, seeking a means of escape, and killing several
illithid along the way. In one room they found human slaves stretched unconscious on
tables, somehow powering mysterious machinery through the use of their minds. They
managed to puzzle out how to break the link between the slaves and the equipment
around them, allowing them to awaken.

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Youyou have freed us, stranger, said one of the slaves in wonder. Thank
Ilmater! You cannot imagine what a horror it was, nightmare after nightmare without the
ability to awaken! Thank you, dear man, thank you! Mymy name is Camaris
Highcastle ofof Myratma. If only there were some way to properly repay you!
For starters, tell me how you ended up here.
I am unsure. We were part of an expedition to find adventure in the Underdark.
Hah! This washardly what we were expecting, you can be certain. We set out from
Myratma and had been in the Underdark for a week, maybe more. I heard a noise, and
then everything went gray and blurry. The mind flayers must have surprised us. Next
thing I remember, we were hooked to these machines. It was strangeyou could see
everything andbe awarebut not quite. They somehow used our minds to power those
machines over there. It makes necklacescirclets ratherwhich the mind flayers use to
control their slaves. If you were captured, too, II can only imagine the next batch of
circlets would have been meant for you. Good thing you escaped when you did.
Do you think these circlets would work on the illithids? Do you know how to work
the machine?
II suppose they might. Theres no reason they wouldnt. As for the machine, its
fairly simple, but I dont think its fully charged. You could only make a few. I suppose I
must ask you, strangerdo you plan on escaping? Have you a means of leaving this
city?
Not yet, but I intend to escape here, yes.
Well, if you find a way out or stop the mind flayers somehow, we can leave the city
on our own. There is a cache of equipment I know of if we locate our old path. I can lead
my people to the surface again, but you would have to find us a way out. No offense
friend, but I dont think we could face those mind flayers ourselves. We will wait here
until we can leave. We will pray for you, friendI only hope that our ordeal is finally
over.
Tamarth used the machine to manufacture several of the mind control circlets. He
found them useful several times when he encountered a door which could only be opened
by force of mind. He would use a circlet to control a mind flayer, and force it to open
such a door.
They searched several more rooms. Although the mental powers of the individual
illithids they faced were impressive, the githyanki must have disrupted the mental web
filling the city, since no overwhelming psychic blows assailed them.
They entered a room, to find the githyanki awaiting them. Their captain bowed to
them, then said, You have done well, and the githyanki are now free of the illithid web
of minds. Our own power is free once more, and we may leave this place on wings of
will.
And here would come the change in plans, am I right? said HaerDalis.
Wondrously chaotic plan if it is. I expected no less.

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You will remain here, I fear, said the captain, for we cannot carry you and still
remain free ourselves. In future we will return and kill all the filth that their tentacles
have touched.
Tamarth cursed their cowardice. Then go, but when next we meet we will be at each
others throats.
That is acceptable. We wait to see if you can muster the strength to free yourself
from this place. If you can conquer this place, if you can kill the elder brain, all the doors
shall swing wide and you may walk free. If not, we will return at a later time with a
greater force. This den of filth will be wiped from existence. I hope you succeed, and the
elder brain falls beneath your feet, but I hope the arm that wields our silver sword is lost
to you.
Obviously the githyanki had figured out that Tamarth still held the fragment of a
silver sword Saemon Havarian had given him, even though it was useless by itself. Out
of options, Tamarth led the others in a search for the master brain.
After fighting many individual illithids, they found what they wanted behind the
door to yet another chamber. The reek of chemicals and fermented brain overwhelmed
them as they stepped into sight of the famed elder brain of the Illithid. An instant later the
brain lashed out at them with a psionic whip
Tamarths step faltered as the psychic assault struck him, but he tried to ignore his
sudden splitting headache, lunging forward. The others had been incapacitated by the
attack, all but Viconia, who joined him, shouting a battlecry to Shar.
The brain was physically unprotected. They easily killed the master illithid brain.
They felt a psychic backlash, a sharp pain that jabbed into their minds like a knife.
Tamarths vision went white, then slowly returned to normal.
At his side, Viconia said, Nightsinger is mistress of darkness and loss. I was born of
darkness and I have lost much: my faith, my homeShar has returned much. I am
grateful to Her.
Mindful of his duty, he gathered some of the ichor freely leaking from the ruined
brain in a vial, for the Matron Mother Ardulace. As they were leaving the illithid city,
they encountered the former slaves they had freed.
One slave, the same one that had spoken to them before, approached. Thank you,
friend, I think we can find our way to the surface now. I owe you more than I can ever
repay. I will pray for your success and safety. Come, my friendslet us leave this hellish
place once and for all
It amused Tamarth to think that here was one group of humans, if they survived to
reach the surface, who would have nothing but good things to say about the drow.
They left the city of the illithids behind, traveling though the caverns back towards
Ust Natha. Edwin changed his pace to match that of Korgan, walking by his side. So tell
me, Korgan, what think you of conflict and adversity? It seems this party is long on
squawk and short on character.

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The harder the conflict, the more glorious be yer triumph, I reckon, spellchucker.
What ye obtain too cheaply, ye esteem too lightly.
How true, how true. As a gallant warrior-born, I correctly assumed you to be a
student of warfare as well as a master of battle.
Aye. The best battler is he who can smile in troubles deep, gather his strength from
distress and grow brave in reflection.
Dwarf, you speak the truth. A warrior without peer, like you, must be an offense to
nature. The strongest in the most perilstrange how Fate weaves her tapestry.
Survival of the fittest be the term, and that be the puzzle of the Life. The Life of
adventurers. Now shut yer yap.
Tamarth paused when in sight of the gates of the drow city, wondering how long it
would be before he would encounter Irenicus again.
Do not stand so close to me, said Viconia, stepping away. It is bad enough that I
have to smell your stench on the occasional breezemust I also bask in your rancid
aura?
Im not even near you, Viconia, snapped Tamarth. What twisted game is this?
Inever mind, Tamarth. Leave me be.

Betrayals
Once back in the city, they found Matron Mother Ardulace in the Lolth temple, with
Phaere.
Ardulace was pleased when Tamarth handed her the vial of blood from the master
brain. Ahhhthe Spider Queen smiles upon us. Our gamble does not go unwasted,
daughter. Your champion has brought us the blood that we need!!
Praise Lolth! exclaimed Phaere. The ritual may finally be begun! Despana will
rule Ust Natha without question as the pre-eminent House!
Indeed. But we must be cautious, daughter, ever cautious. The ritual may be
disturbed before it is completed. The silver one may get desperate.
You are going to seal the city, matron?
Yes. We cannot be disturbed from the outside. I shall go, now, and begin the proper
preparations. This shall be a glorious day, indeed! Veldrin. You have done House
Despana the greatest of services. You will be a male without equalriches and slaves
shall be yours. I shall see to it as soon as the ritual has been completed. Now is the time
for you to rest, strong onethere is nothing more for you to prove to me.
Well, I am not done with him just yet. Veldrincome to my personal apartments. I
expect you to meet me there within the hourthis is not a request.
When Tamarth and the others joined her in her quarters, Phaere immediately began
talking, as if anxious to lay all before them.

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Veldrin? Good. I have a plana plan that will place me as the head of House
Despana even as we take our place as the rightful ruling House of Ust Natha. My plan
includes you, Veldrinwithout your timely arrival here none of this would have been
possible. Do as I say and your rewards will be unimaginable. Refuse andwell, why
would you refuse? You have everything to gain, Veldrin. Everything. In order for this
plan to be successful, however, you must betray the Matron Mother. Are you willing to
do this? Think carefully on your answer.
I have no qualms about betraying the Matron Mother, said Tamarth, not bothering
to add he also had no qualms about betraying her.
Good. Then you may aid me in my plan and be rewarded accordingly once I am the
new Matron Mother. You heard matron speak of the ritual? Matron will summon a
demon of terrible power, Veldrinone to aid the drow in our attack upon the surface
elves.
Edwin smiled in understanding. Ah, a denizen of the lower planes to unleash upon
the elves. The use of the eggs begins to make sense. Why Irenicus would involve himself
remains a mystery.
The blood is a component in this ritual, used to draw the demons attention and
bring him before us. But, most gloriously, House Despana has acquired the eggs of a
silver dragon. The one guarding the route to the surface that we drow descended from so
long ago. Holding these eggs hostage keeps the silver dragon from interfering. Even
better, Matron plans to use them as an offering to the demon to enlist its aid. Indeed, what
demon could refuse? House Despana will have opened the way for the war and
summoned its most powerful warrior. We shall become pre-eminent. But there is no rule
that states Ardulace must still be Matron Mother of such a powerful House. Go to the
treasury, Veldrinsteal the dragons eggs and replace them with the convincing fakes
that I have had made. You will then bring the real eggs to me. Matron will offer the fake
eggs to the demon and be killed. Then I shall offer him the real eggs. The ritual will be
completed and I shall be Matron Mother. Herehere is the key to the treasury room and
the fake eggs. Take them. Return with the real eggs before the ritual is ready to begin. I
give you one warningthe guards will try and stop you in the treasury, if they see you.
Kill them only if you must. Use stealth, Veldrinnow go.
Tamarth followed Phaeres plan, up to a point. He broke into the treasury, stealing
the dragon eggs and replacing them with fakes. However, after that he located the matron
mother.
Ardulace was busy, impatient at the interruption. I am preparing for the ritual that
will bring the Despana into unquestioned supremacyso your interruption had better be
important, male. Is it?
Yes, it is, replied Tamarth. Phaere is planning on betraying you during the
ceremony.
That ismost interesting, male. It is not the first time a daughter attempted to
replace me. I have always succeeded in killing the traitors. But I have had no hint of
betrayal from Phaere, and I would not throw away a daughter high in Lolths favor
without proof. Do you *have* proof, male?

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She had me steal the dragon eggstheseand intended to replace them with
fakes.
Let me see those! Ardulace took the dragon eggs. YesI begin to see her plan.
And if you were able to acquire these, she obviously gave you her keythe only copy
other than my own. You shall be rewarded well for your loyalty, male. And my foolish
daughter shall be punished for her treachery. Guards! Come to me!!
Bold, Tamarth, approved Viconia. Phaere was a fool to think you would not curry
favor with the Matron Mother. This will bring us much closer to our goal, I think, with
her trust.
Guardsbring my eldest daughter to me, called Ardulace. Do not allow her to
command you otherwise. She has betrayed House Despana.
A short while later Phaere was brought before them.
Phaere protested at her treatment, saying, What?! What is the meaning of this,
matron?! Why am I to be dragged before you?!
I see through your innocent words, daughter. You are a fool. You have betrayed
House Despana.
No! No, why do you say this?!
Why? Look on who stands with me, daughterand I think you shall know why.
Who? Veldrin? No! No, matron! It is *his* plot to overthrow you, his plot alone!
I swear by Lolths name that he is attempting to frame me!!
You *dare* to call the Spider Queens name?! You are pathetic, Phaere. Pathetic
and weak. I should have killed you long agoI shall rectify that, now. Mother Lolth! I
call on you to strike down this impertinent daughter of yours! She is no longer worthy of
you!! Strike her down!!
Phaere in her fear called out to Tamarth.
NO! NO!! VELDRIN, ATTACK HER!! KILL HER!! I COMMAND YOU!! AHHHHH!!
She gave a cry of vexation when Tamarth made no move, pointing at him and
screaming.
BURN IN THE ABYSS, THEN!! ROT FOREVER, I WILL ---
Phaeres words were cut short, a bolt of flame from above killing her instantly.
There. It is done, said Ardulace. If she had been stronger and more worthy of the
Spider Queen, she would have succeeded. You have done well yet again, Veldrin. You
continue to prove yourself worthy of the Houses favor. Very wellyou will attend the
ritual as it is performed. You will stand in a place of honor and ensure that there are no
furtherinterruptionsthat will stop the ritual from reaching completion. Wait here. A
guard will be dispatched to bring you to the ritual when it is ready to begin. It shall not be
long, favored one. Ardulace left the room.
An imp fluttered down from above, from where it had been hiding. Ahhh, here am
I, here am I. Wondering you who I am must you be, yes? Servant loyal to the silver one,

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forever! The silver one serve you, or her bidding do you, matters it does not. Watching
you, have I been . Most interesting, watching you has been. Time for action--
With a single slice of his sword Tamarth cut the impish spy in half. He would
determine what the silver dragon would learn, no other. He got the others to agree that he
would decide when they would make their move during the upcoming ritual. After a short
wait a guard came to collect them.
They entered the chamber where the ritual would be performed. It was sealed,
leaving them alone with the Matron Mother Ardulace.
Very well. All preparations have been made, she said, it is time for the ritual to
begin. In moments the drow will stand supreme with House Despana first among them.
Ensure nothing disturbs my casting. When the demon appears, do not interfere. Mistakes
from any of you will earn you a quick death and eternal torment. NowI shall begin.
Ardulace began the ritual. Tamarth could tell the others were becoming anxious,
waiting for him to act, but he said nothing. Ardulace sprinkled the ichor that he had
brought over a brazier, and still he did not act. Their hackles rose, as they felt a presence
in the room. Presently, the presence made itself known, appearing as a ten foot tall,
winged demon. The creature spoke.
** I HAVE COMEYOU HAVE WRESTED ME FROM MY PLANE, DARKLINGHAVE GOOD REASON, OR
I SHALL TAKE MY PRICE IN DARKLING BLOOD**
I have good reason, lord of the nether pits! cried Ardulace. I beseech you to aid
the drow cause in the war against our hated surface cousins, to carve their pale flesh!
** AND WHAT MANNER OF TITHE WOULD YOU OFFER ME FOR SUCH A DEED, DARKLING? WHAT
MANNER OF PAYMENT WARRANTS MY AID? **
I offer you *these*, lord of fiendseggs of a silver dragon, a self-righteous creature
of light. Yours to do with as you please, in return for your aid. Ardulace handed the eggs
to the demon.
** AAAAHHHH, THIS IS A MOST EXCELLENT TITHE, DARKLING. **
Then take them! Take them and destroy our elven enemies!
** ARE YOU AWARE, DARKLING, THAT ALLIES OF YOUR ELVEN FOES ARE PRESENT HERE? PERHAPS
YOU ARE NOT. GAZE, THEN, UPON THEIR NATURAL FORMS. **

With a gesture, the demon dispelled the illusion upon the party. They were revealed
in their true forms. Tamarth scowled; he hadnt counted on this, but otherwise all was
going by his plan.
WHAT?! shrieked Ardulace. Veldrin isis a surface elf? No! NO!! An outrage!!
Destroy the surfacers, Lord of Darkness!! Kill them all!!
** IT SHALL BE A PLEASURE. **
Tamarth relished the coming battle. He had wished to test his new power against a
suitable opponent. He transformed himself into the slayer, leaping at the demon. The two
of them tore at one another with great claws. Soon, both were covered in their mingled

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blood. The tide of murderous hate in Tamarth rose higher and higher, allowing him to
ignore his wounds.
Suddenly, he felt his control slipping completely. At the brink of losing his mind to
the slayer form permanently, he pulled back. To save himself, he was forced to transform
back to a pathetically weak elf, covered with multiple wounds. The demon lord
contemptuously batted him aside. Fortunately, the others had disposed of Ardulace by
this time. They were able to destroy the weakened form of the demon lord.
Tamarth pulled his familiar from his pack, anxious if it had been hurt. When he
asked it, the mephit looked at him suspiciously, its sulfur eyes squinting. Hmph. Since
when are you so interested in me, boss? Up til now its all been you you you. But since
you asked, I wanna register a complaint. Wheres all *my* magical stuff? I want a big
swordand a bag of holdingand some wands, yeah, wands Obviously it had
suffered no damage to its mouth. Tamarth let it crawl back into the pack.
Viconia healed his wounds, without comment. None of the other party members said
anything either. Tamarth gathered the silver dragon eggs from the blasted form of the
demon lord. In their natural forms, the party had to fight to leave the city, but since most
of the troops were absent fighting the surface elves they were able to battle to the gates
without problem.
Outside the city, Tamarth decided they should return to the silver dragon, to
complete their bargain and get her help to return to the surface. The shells of the dragon
eggs had become stained where the demon touched them, but Tamarth hoped the contents
were untouched. As he was thinking on this, Viconia pulled him aside to talk privately.
She stared challengingly into his eyes. I have a confession to make to you. Give me
your ears for a moment and listen, if you possess the sense.
Im listening, I suppose.
You wish to know of me? You wish to learn what I am like? I shall tell you the
truth of it, then. I have lied to you, Tamarth, lies upon lies. My tale of the farmer in
Beregost? A lie. I laid with him many times, seducing him to get the things I needed. It
was his wife and townsfolk that drove me out. Like a succubus I have whored my way to
Amn, taking what favors I could gather through sweat and passion. I earned passage with
tongue and moans, Tamarth, with more males than you can count. And you are nothing
compared to them. Any of them. So, then. What do you think of that, Tamarth? What do
you think of me now?
I think you are lying, replied Tamarth brusquely. Why are you trying to push me
away?
I am telling you that I have had rivvil by the dozens, that I allowed their saliva to
cover me, allowed them to use me for their pleasures!! And I enjoyed it!! I am a creature
of dark lusts, you fool! Why are you not disgusted by this?! Turn away from me, spit on
me and curse my name, I command you!!
I am not those other men. He knew she had done many things most surfacers
would condemn her for, but then so had he. He found himself on the verge of a closeness
with her that attracted him greatly, and he would not give it up simply because she was

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afraid of it. I have seen the true you that lies within, and this is not it. You do not need to
do this!
Bastard! Stubborn bastard!! Jal khaless zhah waela! Why must I trust you?! WHY?!
In trust lies death!! Leave me alone! I will not be dominated! Stay away!!
They rested a while to recover their magical energy, then moved on, to the cave of
Adalon. When they entered the cave, the great dragon let forth a mighty roar, powerful
enough that small rocks dislodged from the ceiling, raining on the party below. Adalon
bellowed forth her pain.
You return! You show amazing gall to come here! Have you the fortitude to stand
before me when my eggs have been destroyed?! I sensed their deaths! You will be the
first to feel my wrath! All that partook in this crime will fall, but your failure makes you
the first!
Tamarth cursed. At least he had been cautious, he and the party had prepared spells
and a battle strategy, not expecting to use it. Tamarth transformed to the slayer, the others
casting spells or attacking with weapons. They were extremely lucky; they killed the
dragon without loss to the party. Rage had so blinded Adalon that she had concentrated
her attacks on Tamarth, ignoring the other party members to her loss.
In the cave they found a scroll which promised to break the ward on the door
guarding the drow tunnel to the surface. They rested in the cave, since no other creature
would be foolish enough to enter the lair of a silver dragon. Tamarth carefully gathered
some of the dragons blood in a vial when they were ready to move on.
They left the cave, heading towards the tunnel entry which Tamarth knew was
nearby. They had not gone far when they encountered the githyanki from the illithid city.
Their captain cried out in surprise.
You live! The illithids let you go? Astounding, unless you are in league with them. I
warn you, if you serve them you will share their fate.
No, actually, said Tamarth, I DESTROYED THE WHOLE DAMNED BUNCH
WITHOUT YOU!!
I sense hostility. I would advise that you redirect your anger. It is admirable that
you survived, but that does not imply you would survive against us. We shall have to test
your worth, though your death is the only result we seek. It is a pity that you freed
yourself. I had hoped you would fall, and the stolen silver sword you carry would be
dropped in the illithid city. We would return with great force and exact terrible justice.
Why is this blade so important?
The blade is a Silver Sword, a weapon entrusted to the greatest of our leaders by our
queen herself. It cannot be given or sold. To do so means death. Your words may dance
as they will, but we know Saemon Havarian had it and we know it was given to you. It
will be returned!
After his experiences, Tamarth would never do anything to help the githyanki. It is
mine now. Nothing you can say will make me give it back.

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You insult that which is most precious to us! It is a degrading crime of words!
Enough! We shall kill you and determine if your corpse carries the blade!
Instead, it was the githyanki who died. The party continued onwards. They killed the
drow guards at the gate, then opened it using the scroll, passing through the opening to
climb the tunnel leading to the surface.

Forests of Tethir
As they neared the surface the party encountered the tail end of a drow war party.
They attacked the drow, killing them. Beyond they caught up with the head of the war
party, already engaged with surface elves in the basement of a temple. They followed
through the breach in the sub-surface wall of the temple, attacking the drow, aiding the
surface elves.
When they had defeated the drow, one of the surface elves said, You there! You are
not of our enemys dark design! Get to the surface and report to Elhan immediately.
They found a stair leading upwards, exiting to grass, and trees. Several surface elves
rushed at them, one yelling, I speak the common tongue that you might hear and be
warned! All that breach the surface will be fought back! Wait, youyou are no drow!
The elves stopped in confusion when they realized they did not face drow. Tamarth
quickly stood in front of Viconia, seeking to shield her from view. His movement was
useless, as he realized when the elven warrior resumed speaking.
But you travel with one among you! Are you collaborators? Have you betrayed us
all to the darkness below? It would not be the first time we have found traitors among our
own kind. Explain how you come here, elven brother, but choose your words well.
I am no collaborator, but I do not judge allies on their skin alone, replied Tamarth.
A brave statement in time of battle. Your sentiments are true enough, but I will
NOT trust you when you walk with the enemy. My commander shall decide your worth.
You will be taken to him. Do not resist, I will not waste time when the deeds of Irenicus
grow more foul each day.
I will be watching my back through this. You will regret if this is a trap.
Your fate will be decided shortly. You will remain under guard until Elhan sees
you. Make no move; you will be watched closely.
A short while later General Sovalidaas, commander of the elven unit which was
guarding them, came to inspect them. Welcome. Yeswelcome. Ill have you know I
do not trust you. I have no reason to trust you. I do not feel that I *have* to trust you. No
doubt the same applies from your perspective.
I dont care about this. Tamarth, finally free of the Underdark, was anxious to
learn what had happened to his enemies. I am searching for Jon Irenicus and his sister
Bodhi.
I see. You mention some very interesting names, names you could not know unless
you were enemies of our enemiesor their friends. I am undecided. Elhan will see to

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you. He will make sure you are comfortable, and that you reveal what you must of
yourself. He is experienced andand he has knowledge of the enemy. Mind that you
obey him. Regardless of your intent, if you attack ANY of my elves here, I will have you
killed on the spot. We are legion, rest assured.
Tamarth tried to ignore his anger and frustration. It was likely the surface elves had
some knowledge of his enemies. After a long wait the elf Elhan appeared with several
companions.
Well, I thank you for coming, said Elhan.
Its not like I had a choice, replied Tamarth.
I agree. You still dont. Realizing that will make things easier. I shall keep this
brief, as I have little time to waste on you. A few questions are all I need, regardless.
You will get no answers from me if I am to be your prisoner.
I would advise you to answer truthfully and completely. No answer is an answer in
itself, placing you firmly in league with our enemies. I will ask some things of you, and
you will speak what you know. My sages will detect any falsehood. They are very good
at that sort of thing. They will pay close attention to your next statement, especially since
you are already damned for having a Drow traveling with you. Now then, something
simple and direct to begin with. You emerged from the home of the Drow. Were you
fleeing or are you in league with them?
Oh sure, I have Viconia dont I? Tamarth wondered if anyone here could think
past their automatic reaction to Viconias presence. That means I *must* be a servant of
the Drow.
False, stated the first sage.
False, agreed the second. This person is no ally of the Drow.
A lie, and had I believed it your death would be certain. Elhan frowned, pulling at
his lip, as though unsure their death still wasnt the best option. You are fortunate my
sages can see through such games. So you are not an ally of the Drow. That is fortunate,
though it does not tell me of your current goals. Let us continue. A name, then, that you
may know something of. Irenicus. Do you know of him?
My business with Irenicus is my own concern, said Tamarth, resenting the
questioning.
Strong Truth, said the first sage.
Very much so, added the second. The association is clear.
So you admit to knowledge of a fiend and criminal. I will have to push this further.
Perhaps you are a window to his plans. Shall we try to determine how much you know,
how far your association goes? Are you in league with Irenicus?
Tamarth was growing weary of the questions. No, I seek his greasy black heart on a
pike, and I grow tired of you delaying it!
Absolute truth, agreed the first sage.

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No doubt at all, on both answers, said the second.


Well, that is somewhat reassuring. Your bloodlust certainly illustrates your true
feelings about him. This has put me more at ease. Whatever manner of creature you are,
we are on the same side in this instance at least.
Oh, I am *so* glad you are happy. Can I go now?
You are certainly less of a threat than I first imagined, but do not think you are
welcome as of yet. This area is still at risk, and I will not take chances. Especially since
there is still the matter of the Drow you bring with you. I will return to her later, rest
assured. For now, I will apprise you of the situation, and you will realize why travel in
this area is to be restricted. You might have received a warmer welcome, but Irenicus has
triggered the strongest of emotions where eer he has tread. He has stepped beyond all
bounds of decency, and our very city is under the weight of his thumb. Suldanessellar is
simply gone. It has only been concealed, but we cannot penetrate the magics that have
hidden it. We are forced to remain here, pestered by Drow while supplies falter.
Drow that were incited by Irenicus and the bargains he made in the Underdark,
stated Tamarth, glad that he had at last gotten some information about his quarry.
Truth, said one sage, the other quickly adding, Yes, he knows much of this.
It would seem your travels have given you quite a bit of insight into the plans
Irenicus has made. I wonder if you might be of service to us.
I might be. If you think you can trust me.
You obviously bear no love for Irenicus, making you the enemy of our enemy.
Classically speaking, this might make you our friend. And even if you are not, you cannot
reach Irenicus without helping us. He is untouchable, save for one possibility. Within the
temple was an artifact of great power: the Rhynn Lanthorn. It is an ancient lantern, etched
with the oldest of runes. The Lanthorn is attuned to the Elven nation, and no magic can
bar its return to elven lands. We could simply walk to Suldanessellar if we had possession
of it. Someone stole the relic when the temple fell to the Drow. Obviously it was a
servant of Irenicus capitalizing on the chaos of the battle. We have not been able to
determine where the thief went, despite the best efforts of our sages. It makes me think
that the Lanthorn is no longer in elven territory.
It must have been Bodhi. Only she would have been trusted with such a thing.
Truth, said a sage.
Stop that, already! yelled Tamarth. At his glare, the second sage swallowed what
he was about to say.
Bodhihmm, you may know more than we about this situation after all. I propose
we exchange our services.
I propose you volunteer as much information as you have taken from me!
I cannot say more than I have. Perhaps if I had access to the city I would have
insight, but as it stands, I am in the same situation you are. The attack came without
warning, born in the mind of a human we did not know. This was not in the realm of

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possibility, and it remains as such. He has dealt with Drow, defiled our temple, and
violated our city. His name is to be spit and spoken of as rarely as possible. He is all that
elves are not! If you know how to find the treacherous servant of this fiend, I suggest that
you do it. You seek Irenicus, we seek Irenicus; to help us is to help yourself. Find the
Lanthorn. Seek outside elven lands in whatever location you think an important servant
of Irenicus would be. Only then will we reach this man.
And what can you do for me to aid in this?
We cannot march on human territory. As great as our problems are, they would
only get worse if we appeared to be sending agents into the cities of Amn.
Without your help our task will be easier said than done, said Jan, and I know
how easy it is to say things.
You have traveled extensively; return to the groups you have already encountered
and ask their aid. I am sure you will find some among them to help you. They need not
know the nature of the emergency, only that a great evil must be routed. The less who
know of the shame brought by Irenicus, the better.
Tamarth had no idea what Elhan was talking about. Shame? What shame has he
caused you?
It is not your concern. His deeds will be apparent when we reach him. Until then,
you should begin your task. They need not know the nature of the emergency, only that a
great evil must be routed. The less who know of the shame brought by Irenicus, the
better.
Can you help with special supplies? Holy Water and stakes come to mind.
I have such things. The water is exceptionally potent and will prove effective
against those that wronged the temple. The wrath of elven gods is in each vial. It sounds
as though you know the nature of the creature you must face. Your service is now doubly
appreciated.
And I will appreciate being out from under your bootheel.
We have talked long. I will make sure the guards know you are free to come and go.
Unfortunately, I must bring up a final point of contention. I said I would return to the
Drow, and now is the time. I will not allow her to accompany you.
Viconia proudly stepped to the front of the party, looking Elhan in the eye. I was
wondering when you would give voice to the looks you have been giving me all eve.
Poor Elhan, hating me so.
You are an unhealthy risk. I will not allow it.
I cannot do this without the group I am familiar with, insisted Tamarth. She must
go with me.
Very well, there is one way that I will allow her to partake in our plans. She must
first swear loyalty to you and your cause, Tamarth.
And if you believe that, youll believe anything, said Korgan, laughing.

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Viconia flipped an obscene gesture at Elhan, although it was unclear if he was


familiar with its meaning. Bah, such a statement is unnecessary. I am loyal. But if it will
help your doubts, I do so swear my loyalty to this cause.
And she must agree to a Geas, continued Elhan firmly. That is the only way.
Viconia folded her arms. Your distrust is such that you require magical bonds to
ensure I commit no treachery? I wonder if the drow are the only elves with darkened
hearts.
Such talk does not endear me to you. Do you agree or do you not?
Very well, agreed Viconia. Have your spells cast and secure my will to the task. I
imagine spitting on you for the indignity will be restricted as well? A pity.
Elhan had one of his sages cast a spell on Viconia. She did not attempt to resist,
allowing the magic to affect her. To Tamarth, it seemed as though there had been some
mistake. She stood at the focus of attention, as if she were in charge, the others here for
her judgement.
Elhan, oblivious, was satisfied. With the casting of this spell all my doubt is
removed. Viconia, you are bound to the task and I fear no treachery. Let death be the
threat if I am wrong. Tamarth, I wish you well in your goals. All Suldanessellar depends
upon your success.
Tamarth led the others away. As he moved, he muttered to himself, wondering what
he should do next. A voice answered, from his pack. His familiar said, Isnt it obvious?
You get to that elven city. All that pillaging, theres gotta be treasure ripe for the taking.
Sheesh. Tamarth smiled. Put that way, it was obvious.
Tamarth traveled a few hours in the Forest of Tethir before making camp. Viconia
sought him out as he was spreading his bedroll for the night.
She lightly laid her hand on his arm, her touch enough to make his heart pump faster.
I cast my white flag before you. I can struggle no more. You haveyou have defeated
me.
What are you talking about? Defeated you? asked Tamarth, wondering if this was
the prelude to another insult.
Yes, defeated me. I do not know what it is about you, Tamarth, but I opened up to
youI let you inside with honesty and candor. I am not used to such. Trust is death. I
have been betrayed again and again, and yet I began to trust in you. II could not allow
it to happen. I was confused, I tried to drive you away. ThosethingsI said when we
last spoke? Lies. I told you the truth of things the first time. You saw through my
deception, and would not be driven away. I owe youso much. You are safe harbor in a
storm of terrifying power. I begin to feel that I need youand this enthralls me and
enrages me all at onceIf you will have me, I shall not push you away againstay with
me tonight, Tamarth, let us be together in earnest. Let me savor the unfamiliar fear that
goes with this trust.
Alright, Viconia. I will stay with you. Tamarth put his arms around her, drawing
her into a long kiss.

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Come to me, then, my mrann dssinss, she whispered in his ear. You have
defeated menow taste your victory
The two of them awoke the next day while it was still dark. They silently prepared,
washing with a little water, and dressing. Tamarth accidentally jostled Viconia as they
were gathering their sleeping rolls, which caused her to smile. She nodded in his
direction.
A good morning to you. Or, at least, as close to morning as we come with these
strange hours that we keep. I trust your exertions wereworthwhile?
I enjoyed pleasing you as much as I enjoyed myself. I hope I stack up well enough
against these drow males of yours.
Hah! Drow males learn the arts, but most are timid, passive things. You have a
charming enthusiasm that surpasses even the ones who enjoy their role, I thinkII am
lucky, Tamarth, to have found you on the surface. To think that I would need to come so
far, to such an alien place, to find someone that I couldtrust. You are not so terrible,
Tamarthfor a male.
And you are not so terriblefor a drow.
Ha! I am a horrible excuse for a drow. If my sisters saw me melting before a male
they would flay my skin bare, but with you it does not seem such a bad thing.

Chance Meetings
The party traveled through the Forest of Tethir. As he walked, HaerDalis stared at
the trunks of the trees reaching upwards towards the sky. Tis passing strange, what you
Primes call these forests. But it has a serene beauty of a sort, as well.
Tamarth spotted a cabin near their path. Curious, since he had seen no buildings of
any sort since leaving the area of the elven temple, he changed course to investigate.
When he neared the cabin a figure who had been sitting on the shadowed porch got up,
waving to him.
Hail good friend Tamarth! I am most pleased to see you here, you of all people!
Your timing could not be better, as I am in most dire need!
Tamarth recognized the figure. It was Coran, last encountered near Baldurs Gate.
Tamarth wasnt at all sure he was happy to see him again. Good friend? Coran, when I
last talked to you, I thought I told you to stay out of my business.
I did not intentionally seek you, my friend. I saw you here and I am desperate for
help, despite whatever past, uh, differences we may have hadBut what is important is
that I was traveling my forests of Tethyr with my beloved Safanaif you remember
herand now she is kidnapped! It is dreadful! Two days ago we were beset by giant
wolveswolfweres, I fear. They tried to take us both, but I was able to escape. Safana,
however, was not so fortunate. I tracked them to an encampment near here, but even a
great warrior such as myself cannot beat them alone. I hoped *someone* to come
alongand here you are! We must save her and strike a blow against the foul were-
beasts, Tamarth! Together we shall be unstoppable! What do you say, my Lord?

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Tamarth had better memories of Safana. She had been on a quest to locate a treasure,
which had ended in their mutual profit. Very well, I will help you. Where is this
encampment?
Excellent! The wolfweres are east of here. I will go there and wait for you, my
Lord. Do not take long, I do not know their plans for my beloved!
Although no ones woodcraft in the party was very good, after blundering around for
a while they did stumble upon a group of wolfweres. A human woman was with them,
who Tamarth recognized as Safana. Coran was not present.
You! screamed one of the wolfweres. You intrude on my domain, elf!
Safana quickly spoke up. No, no! This is the one I told you about, Lanfear! This is
Tamarth! Kill him and the wizard will reward you and your pack with riches beyond your
dreams!
This? This is the creature you spoke of? Lanfear said with disdain. Bah! You said
that Coran would accompany him! You said Coran would bring him to me!
Coran, late, chose this moment to appear, typical from what Tamarth remembered.
What? My darling Safanawhat have you done?
Dont be a fool, Coran, said Safana. Why do you think I insisted we come down
here? It was to find Tamarth! Do you have any idea of the bounty that is on his head?!
Safana, no! I wont let you do this!
Just get out of the way, moron! Lanfearkill Tamarth, as per our agreement!
I do not follow your orders, human witch! Lanfear said. I care nothing for this
bounty! All I wished for was that Coran would come to me at last!
Safana was angry at her plans miscarriage. No! Kill him now! I demand it!
Lanfear snarled, You demand nothing from me!! I curse you with oblivion,
human!! The wolfwere cast a spell. Within moments Safanas skin wrinkled, her organs
desiccated, and she fell dead.
No! Safana, my love!! cried the shocked Coran.
Do not wail for the human, my Coran, said Lanfear in a more soothing voice, she
betrayed you and never loved you. Not as I do.
Coran was now confused as well as shocked. Youyou *love* me? How is it that
aa beast *loves* me?
You do not recognize me, my love? Nonot in this form. We have lain together
once before, you and I, my loveand I have sought you out ever since. You avoided
capture by my houndsbut I caught your woman, and her wicked plan served my needs
far more than hers! Come to me, my Coranlet us be together at long last!
Coran violently shook his head. I will not! I would never take part in such foulness,
creature! Safana was my beloved!! Tamarth, destroy this murderess and all of her vile
pack!
Very well, Coran, said Lanfear, if I cannot have you, then *no one* shall!!

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In the ensuing combat Lanfear, the other wolfweres and Coran were all killed. A
waste of time, the same feeling Tamarth had had the last time he met Coran. At least he
neednt worry about meeting him again.
Evening was near, and Tamarth was thinking of stopping, when a githyanki suddenly
appeared next to him. Tamarth scowled; he didnt care if half-a-dozen more appeared, he
wasnt giving up the silver sword fragment to them.
Aha! It is the wielder, the thief and the defiler! chortled the githyanki in glee. All
in one beingstrange. I thought there would be three. You there! Have you no twin
brothers?
What do you want, Githyanki? asked Tamarth.
A question with a question! I see his mind is far deeper than I expected. Layers and
layers of duplicity and deceit. I must be subtle with this one. Perhaps I should start again
before he gets suspicious. Hm. Yes, I think this would be best.
The githyanki cleared his throat, looked away, then back towards Tamarth, miming
surprise. You there, elf man! My freedom from limbo has a price: I must track down the
thief of one of our most holy of holies.
You dont mean the Silver Sword Blade, do you?
Ack! You know what its called?! I trained three years as a wild mage before they
let me in on that one. My mentor tended to grunttraining was a bitch. So now. Ive
been very patient because you ARE a lesser being. Im trying not to overwhelm you with
my psionics just by accident. See how nice I am? So hand over the Silver Sword Blade
and well all be happy. Well, maybe you wont be happy, but you wont be DEAD and
thats got to be better, right? So are you going to hand over the sacred blade or not?
No, I will not. It is mine, now.
I did say I was a wild mage, right? If I end up having to cast a spell here, I wont be
held responsible for it. So hand over the blade, or do I start casting?
Do your worst.
YeeeshI wouldnt say that. My worst can be pretty bad
Several more githyanki appeared, interspersed among the party. Tamarth and the
others had a few bad moments before the last githyanki fell. Tamarth was pleased to find
a hilt with a few inches of snapped off sword blade on their leader. The break perfectly
matched the fragmentary blade he already had. If he found a smith who could reforge the
sword he would know what kind of weapon the githyanki venerated.
Tamarth decided to continue traveling for a while, despite the partys injuries from
the last battle. He wanted to put some distance between himself and where the githyanki
had appeared. The party walked past sunset, without light, relying on Tamarth and
Viconia to guide them in the near darkness. Suddenly, voices could be heard from near at
hand.
I tell you, Bruenor, we have been on this path previously. Are you sure you know
where you left it? I have no desire to keep traveling about in circles.

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Blast it, boy, I may be old but me memory has not left me head just yet! And we
would not even have to look for it had Wulfgar not knocked it out of me hand!
I did no such thing, dwarf.
Tamarth, who had halted the others, could now make out several figures walking
towards them. The one voice seemed familiar, although he could not place it.
But ye did, me boy! Ye were not looking where ye were flying about in the battle,
and I were too distracted by the trolls to run after it. And then I forgot that ye even did it,
after.
A womans voice added to the male voices. Well, of course we be trying to help ye
find it, but all Drizzt was wondering was ---
He be wondering whether I have a wit left in me head, girl! And I tell ye well find
me hammer soon enough, Ill not leave it fer goblins to steal. Hmph.
Ummbe that as it may, Bruenor, Drizztweve got company. Maybe they found
your pretty little hammer, Bruenor.
The other group was close enough to make out, five figures also moving through the
forest.
What is this, my raven? said HaerDalis. Another group of adventurers, hardened
with experience and on their way to another fete, no doubt? Are we going to fight, do you
think?
Hmph. Adventurers, eh? Korgan leaned close to Tamarth. I likes the look of some
of their equipment, Tamarth. Lets kill them.
The dwarf in the group in front of them ignored the interruption, saying One more
comment on me hammer, Rumblebelly, and yell be the first it squishes when I gets it
back!
Peace, my friends, said another facing them, a cloak covering light armor, there is
no need for us to fight over this. Ho there, travelers! I am Drizzt DoUrden, most recently
of Ten Towns. Are you friend or foe?
Tamarth recognized him now. He had encountered Drizzt, alone, near Baldurs Gate.
The meeting had been profitable, for him. He only learned later how powerful Drizzt
was, and how lucky he had been. Ive no reason to fight with you just yet, drow.
Ill keep that in mind, replied Drizzt. Tell me, have you seen a, aha pink war
hammer in the vicinity during your travels?
Blast ye, Drizzt, me hammer be not PINK!! said the dwarf.
Well, you have to admit, Bruenor, said the halfling, since Cirine cast that
enchantment on it, it *has* been glowing a little on the pinkish side
It be RED! RED, I tell ye!! Call it pink again, halfling, and yell have yerself a one-
way ticket to the Abyss!!
Ive been there. It was nothing special, added the man.

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Drizzt smile at his companions, then turned back to Tamarth. Red, then. Might you
have seen something like it, stranger?
No, I havent, answered Tamarth shortly. From the little he knew of Drizzt, he and
his companions were powerful, let alone how drained were the members of the party.
Tamarth wished to be on his way on quickly as possible.
Moradins breath! exclaimed the dwarf Bruenor. It must be about here
somewhere!!
Drizzt tried to mollify him. Well look for it a while longer then, Bruenor, have no
fear. We are not expected back in Ten Towns for a fortnight, yet. Tell me, though,
strangerhave we met before? I feel as though your face is familiar, but I cannot attach a
time or place to it. Should I know you?
Tamarth thought surely he had already recognized him. He answered with the truth,
refusing to play the rangers game. Actually, the last time we met I attacked you, near
Baldurs Gate.
That was you?! You ambushed me and stole my equipment, as I recall! It took a
long time to track down my swords. I have a question, then, if that was truly you. Why
did you attack me, elf? Are you truly a simple bandit, greedy and nothing more? If that is
the case, I shall be disappointed.
Viconia, sensing a fight, whispered, It shall feel good to test my strength against
this oneI have heard of his prowess. Come, let us achieve glory this day!
Tamarth wanted to avoid any fighting. He found himself uncharacteristically trying
to make excuses for himself. That was a long time ago, and Ive changed since then.
Perhaps my assault on you was in error.
Perhaps. I believe people can change, said Drizzt, perhaps you have. I have made
mistakes in my life, but always have I attempted to make up for them.
The man with Drizzt was more hostile. Aye, Drizzt DoUrden is an honorable
warrior and has done many great things. He is also our friend. You quarrel with him, you
quarrel with us.
Not all things are so absolute, said the halfling, good man. In my days, Ive seen
enough strangeness to make a halflings fur fall right off his feet!
Wulfgar and Regis are friends, said Drizzt, and they mean well. But they are right
in that I fight for what is right and good. Can you claim the same, elf?
No, not really. Tamarth was now sure the ranger was playing with him. He could
not but want revenge after what Tamarth had done. I have no intention of making such a
claim about myself.
Of course not, since there is great evil in your heart, man. I have seen enough to
recognize it in othersand I see it in you. But I am not here to exact vengeance. I do,
however, think that you need to be taught a lessonthe exact nature of which, however,
puzzles me.

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The halfling was quick to make a suggestion. Make him get down on his knees,
Drizztmake him apologize! Make him say hes sorry!
Hafair enough, Regis, agreed Drizzt. Perhaps you are right. If this evil man can
swallow his pride enough to apologize on his knees, then I shall be satisfied.
On his knees? said HaerDalis in wonder. That would be a pretty sight to see,
should it ever come to pass. I doubt Ive ever seen my raven swallow crow.
The dwarf Bruenor laughed aloud at the idea. I likes it, I does! You there, elfI
suggest ye gets down on yer knees quickly and spill yer apology to our friend, Drizzt.
Come, nowI wont give ye long to do it.
Tamarth looked around, at his and Drizzts companions. He remembered the man he
had murdered in the Government District, his pathetic pleas before he had cut him down.
He couldnt bring himself to beg for mercy, not in front of the others, not even if it meant
his death. I apologize to the drow, and I mean itbut I will not abase myself before
anyone.
Drizzt stared at Tamarth for a moment. It is enough for me. Bruenor, my friend, you
may back away from the man. So, our dealings are done then. Continue your travels, elf,
and I shall return to the Ten Towns. If I hear any more of you, however, we shall meet
again. Come, then, my friends. Let us be off.
Tamarth felt ashamed. He liked to believe that anyone who had the power he had
would act as he did, thinking mainly of themselves. Surely Drizzt, a drow, had more
reason than most to act that way, but he hadnt. Tamarth suddenly wished he could spend
some more time in the drows company. Maybe he could entice him into fighting the evil
Bodhi? Hold on, Drizzt. I have a proposal for you, if you are the hero you say you are.
There is no proposal you might have, elf, that I would be interested in hearing. If
you were more trustworthy, perhapsbut not today.
Tamarth had to be satisfied with that. He forced the party to continue walking, even
though the full darkness of night made their travel slow. Tamarth was glad when Viconia
started talking, taking his mind off his brooding.
Do your people have any kind of rite of passage into adulthood? I am curious.
Nothing formal, usuallythe normal rite is an act with which you and I are recently
familiar with. But it does vary with some cultures.
Hmm. The drow have a more formal ritual, though it does vary place to place. The
Blooding must be performed by both sexes upon reaching the age of maturity. The
young must hunt down and kill an intelligent Surfacer, preferably of the adventurers
cloth. My house insisted on the head of a holy warrior, so I brought my matron mother
the head of one Khilgind Sigandulba, a priest of some cult and man-about-the-frontier.
He thought me a beggar seeking guidance. He was surprised when he learned I was drow,
but not as much as when I used his own holy mace to cave his forehead.
And this made you an adult?
It gained me respect in a society ruled by cruelty and ambition. I had lain with a
male long beforemany times, in fact. That is no measure of a drow. And the act pleased

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Lolth. Pleasing the Spider Queen was our ethos and our mantragirding ourselves to
conquer the other races.
You still dont believe in all that, do you?
The drow wish to rule, as do duergar, kuo-toaeven illithids, but our feet are clay.
We distrust each other almost more than other races, and that is our weakness.
Tamarth finally stopped, letting the others set up camp. That night he dreamed of the
man he had assassinated back in Athkatla for Bodhi. He also dreamed of an elven
woman, who came to him, asking for help against Irenicus. He awoke, taking comfort
from the sleeping form of Viconia beside him, falling back asleep.

Return to Athkatla
Tamarth needed to return to Athkatla, to face Bodhi, but another matter needed
attention first. He journeyed to the village of Imnesvale, in the Umar Hills. In the small
inn there he made contact with Fael, who he had learned of from the tanner and the
skinning murders.
Well then, I trust you have the blood and the unfinished armor? said Fael. You do
fine work, but it requires my special touch to finish it off.
Besides the unfinished human-flesh armor, he now also had the blood of a silver
dragon. It was quite a fight, but I prevailed. Here is both the blood and the armor.
I shall take these ingredients and produce the finest and darkest of armors. You will
serve well within its embrace. Return in four days and you shall have it.
Tamarth and the others spent the four days resting in the village. A pall hung over
the village; people had been disappearing, and there was talk of the inhabitants of the
whole village uprooting themselves and moving elsewhere, to escape some nameless evil.
Tamarth realized that when he had killed a group of ogres and other creatures the last
time he was through here for the mayor he hadnt solved their problems. However, when
the mayor again sought him out, seeking to hire him again, he turned him down. He had
more important matters to consider.
Fael finally returned, with several helpers. I have completed the task, and your
armor is done. Beautiful it is. Here, examine it in your own hands. Nice, is it not? I draw
your attention to the stitching, the stitching that you did not do. You are not my tanner
contact. He is dead. I have some associates that wish to speak with you. Well, not so
much speak. More like kill.
Fael had brought several wizards, but they were the ones who died. Fael himself
managed to escape during the fighting. Tamarth didnt care, pleased with the armor. He
would need to be careful who saw him use it, but use it he would. The villagers after this
combat were glad to see the party leave, perhaps wondering if they were as evil as the
creeping darkness they feared at night.
They started back for Athkatla. As they walked HaerDalis commented, Hmmn
the sky, tis a brilliant azure shade. Pity you Primes have only the one sun.

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Are you aware that, despite our intimacies, said Viconia as they traveled, I know
little of you other than the usual graces? Youve mysteries in youand secrets. That face
holds tales in its creases. What about the time before the Life? Before the endless travel,
days in the dark and death at your heels? Who was your closest ally, then?
I didnt really have any close friends, just a lot of acquaintances.
You must be close to Imoen, since you rush to rescue her from an uncertain fate,
but perhaps it is already too late to elude what has been ordained for her.
Perhaps it is, I suppose we shall see.
Indeed. I have no doubt, however, that you will make the attempt.
Viconia changed to another topic. Have you given any thought to what you will do
once this whole business is over with?
Im not sureI was hoping on being somewhere with you, however.
You flatter me, Tamarth. I hope those are not just empty words you are spilling
purely for my benefit, however. I have thought on the future myself. With a little
ambition, I see us carving an empire, ruling a small kingdom, and living in the hedonistic
luxury we are meant to!
That doesnt sound like such a bad idea.
Feh, it is little more than idle fantasy, really. It is good to see that you have a little
desire howeverperhaps that is something I can work on, hm?
They were nearly at the gates of the city when a messenger caught up with them.
My Lord! Thethe worst has happened! The major domo has sent me to find youand
I have! He says that Captain Cernick has sighted the Roenal forces mobilizing! They
theyre coming, my Lord, theyre coming! Theyre going to wage war on us! Youve got
to come to the keep as quickly as you can! The major domo says you must hurry! Hurry!
The deArnise lands and castle. Tamarth had forgotten about them in the rush of
events. It was too good a prize to give up. Tamarth hurried the others to the castle,
slipping through the ring of invaders who were just forming a cordon about the castle.
The major domo was glad to see him. Your grace! You return! Thank goodness that
you have arrived here when you did! The forces of Lord Roenal are almost upon us! II
did not truly believe that Lord Roenal would actually attack. Captain Cernick spotted
their forces and has moved to engageor at least to slow themOur forces are fewer,
and they are all newly recruitedwe cannot hope to win! Oh, they will be on us in no
timeLord Roenal will take this keep by force! Ive only received word from the front
line about two hours agoCaptain Cernick says that the battle
Cernick rushed into the room. Lord Tamarth! Lord Roenal and some of his forces
have pushed through the lines! They are attacking the gate! Youve got to come quickly!
If their forces arent stopped, soon, they will overtake the walls and all will be lost! You
must fight Lord Roenal! If he is killed, his army will dissolve around him! But you must
do it before the walls fall! Come, my Lord! To the gate!!

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Tamarth and the others rushed to the gate. Tamarth ordered the drawbridge lowered,
wishing to engage and defeat his enemy as quickly as possible. He charged through the
gate as the drawbridge was just settling into position, followed by the party members and
elements of the castle guard.
Aha! There you are, my pathetic little peasant! cried an armored figure who must
be Lord Roenal. Prepare to lose your precious keep, fool!
A few well placed fireballs from Edwin disposed of most of the common foot
soldiers facing them. Tamarth and Korgan killed Lord Roenal. Demoralized by his death
and the magic they faced, the remaining forces broke. Tamarth harried them to the
borders of the deArnise lands, killing as many as possible. He wished to teach a lesson to
discourage any others who thought to take advantage of his irregular rule.
The major domo was waiting for him in the courtyard of the keep when he returned,
along with the castle servants and Nalia deArnise. We all wish to express our
gratitudeand let you know that we would desire nothing more than for you to remain
our ruling Lord for as long as you desire to. Mistress Nalia informed us that all she
wishes is to remain in this keepbut that without your aid, she would have nothing to
rule, at any rate. We hail you, Lord Tamarthwe hail you and bow before your presence.
We accept you as our sovereign now and forever more
Tamarth immediately started on the trip to Athkatla, despite the exertions the party
had undergone in the recent fighting. He had only gone a short distance before he realized
he and the others were too tired to make much progress, and called a halt.
We are to stop and rest now, are we? asked Viconia, coming up to him. I suppose
that is good and well, as I am exhausted nearly to the point of dropping. Come, then, my
mrann dssinss, and let us get our coupling over with quickly.
If you are too tired, Viconia, there is certainly no need for us to lay together.
I may be tired, but I look forward to showing the arts I learned as a drow. I hold a
degree ofaffectionfor you, Tamarth. How else am I supposed to show this?
You do not need to lay with me to show your affection, Viconia. Nothing is
expected of you.
Hmm. An odd thing to say. If I had no male to service me in the Underdark I slept
alone. I amunfamiliar with this. How else would you showaffection?
Herelet us hold each other tonight, only, and I will show you.
Asas you wish, Tamarth. I feel uncomfortable with this arrangement, but I
suppose thatthat some rest is not uncalled-for.
The next morning, still tightly entwined, they awoke together. Viconia said, Is it
is it time to awaken already? I must admit, Tamarth, that I slept more deeply that I have
in some time. I have not felt safer ina long timethan I did in your arms. A unique
experience.
From the answering pressure of Viconias arms about himself last night, Tamarth
had already guessed she had found comfort, although being Viconia, there had been no

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sobs or tears. I hold you in too high regard to think of you as here only to service my
pleasure, Viconia. You are far more than that.
II have nothingnothing to answer that with, Tamarth. Thank you for your
consideration. But if you think I will become teary and weak you are foolish indeed.
Come! Lets move before we are beset by something more sinister than squirrels and
rats.
When they reached the city, Tamarth led the others to the Copper Coronet. He had
much planning to do before facing Bodhi in her lair beneath the citys graveyard. Viconia
took the opportunity to slip out. She sought a shrine of Ilmater in the slums.
When she entered, she approached one of the clerics. I have a strange request
brother. I have the heart of a man that died in shame.
Interesting, though not unheard of. We often try to guide those that have already
fallen. Some live well and then fall unexpectedly. Tell me of this man.
Yoshimo, a traitor. I do not know if he lied or not, but he did beg Ilmater to take his
heart as he fell. He feared the hell he was promised.
I see. Events took him further than he expected, and he suffered as he struggled
between duty and conscience. I have seen such torment in souls before. Very well, we
shall take his heart unto the breast of Ilmater. The Crying God will determine what
torment is deserved or not. If there is suffering undeserved, this Yoshimo will see relief
in his eternal rest.
Viconia gave him the heart she had carefully preserved, then hurried back to the inn.
No one there had given any special notice to her absence.
By the time Tamarth was finished with his planning it was dark. That was just as
well with him, since he didnt care if he faced Bodhi above ground or in her lair. As they
were leaving the Copper Coronet, a peasant, just entering, stopped HaerDalis. Ay,
nowyou thereye almost looks like an elf t me, but there is something strange about
you. Are ye from far away, perhaps?
Aye, berk, said the bard. I am from far and farther away than a simple man like
you could likely imagine. If my countenance disturbs you, forgive memy kind are rarer
than red diamonds, here.

Destruction of Bodhi
As Tamarth entered the graveyard a voice, Bodhis voice, called out to him from a
hidden spot among the mausoleums ahead.
You are becoming an impressive pest, one that I am finding difficult to ignore!
Honestly, Tamarth, I simply do not know what to do with you. I grow tired of seeing you
in my shadow.
Tamarth replied, I was not the one that fled our last encounter, Bodhi. Sorry if I
scared you.

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Hardly. It was simply more important that I report of your condition to Irenicus. He
has decided that it is of no importance, interesting though it is. Regardless, I have not the
time to stand here discussing what you will or will not do. I have more important duties
to take care of. You follow in the hopes of retrieving something dear to you. I say that the
longer you keep this up, the more you will lose. Consider the brutish Viconia here. How
difficult is it to lose someone when you have only just discovered such feelings?
I have no fear of losing Tamarth to the likes of you, said Viconia.
But does he fear your loss? Lets find out. Follow me further Tamarth, and you will
lose more than you can fathom. Starting now!
Several vampires attacked the party from the shadows. The party defeated them, but
somehow Viconia had disappeared in the fighting. Tamarth was enraged. He hurried for
the nearest entry to the underground, forgetting his carefully laid plans. The remaining
members of the party, Jan, Korgan, HaerDalis, and Edwin, followed him.
My mistress bids you welcome, Tamarth, greeted a female vampire when he
entered the lair. Tamarth quickly led the others in destroying her, and cleansing the upper
level of the lair of opponents.
Although Tamarth had forgotten the plan, Jan hadnt. In one room of the upper level
they found a stone coffer filled with seemingly fresh human blood. Jan poured one of
Elhans vials of Holy Water into the pool, and the result was immediate. The pool
churned violently for a few moments and then calmed, cleansed of evil.
Tamarth led the others down a flight of steps to a deeper level. A vampire greeted
them, Thy audacity is impressive, Tamarth. It does thee little good for my mistress has
ordained a baptism of blood and pain for thee. Tamarth and the others barely paused,
cutting him down, before continuing on.
Bodhi was in a room ahead, standing behind a pool of blood in the center of the
room. Several more pools lined the walls, along with vampiric servitors and skeletal
guards.
Bodhi hissed as Tamarth entered the room, holding up her arm to prevent her
servants from attacking. And so it shall end here. Welcome. You have been very
resourceful in finding me, although I did not go out of my way to hide. I do not see
Imoen with you. Has she withered to nothing just as I was destined to, or are you hiding
her away from me? It doesnt really matter. Im sure your reasons for coming are all very
important to you. Do spare me the boredom of hearing them.
There is no escape for you now, vampire! Ill have your black heart on a pike!
I have no intention of escaping. You have come to your final battle with me,
Tamarth, and I intend to enjoy it. I intend Bodhi stopped, suddenly asking, more to
herself than anyone, How did you come to return here? You should have thought I was
in Suldanessellar She turned her gaze back on him. They told you of the theft, didnt
they! You help those treacherous elves?! They deserve all they receive, and more! They
will not even approach us while we destroy them, such is their arrogance! Let them shiver
in fear that they will die between me and Irenicus! They would not even acknowledge us
as their own, and now we will bury them all.

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What do you mean, as their own? asked Tamarth. Elves rarely allow outsiders of
any kind in their cities.
Fool! They would have you think we are some foreign intruders, attacking their city
for no reason! Their shame is that Irenicus and I are very familiar indeed! No *elf* would
dare turn against the others, no *elf* would endanger the very fabric of their society, no
*elf* would do as Irenicus and I have done! Who was it that plead their case? Elhan? He
stood by while they echoed our crimes in their punishments! I should almost let you live
so that he could have the shame of an outsider questioning him about this whole matter!
Almost! Butno, I have already prepared much for this meeting, Tamarth. I did warn
you that you would suffer great loss if you continued your push towards me. I did not
lie.
I would have hunted you for your theft of Viconia alone. She is very important to
me.
Bodhi made a motion behind her. A figure walked through a door into the room.
Here she is, though I doubt your fumbling could have inspired the loyalty I have taken
with a bite and a gaze. Perhaps Fetch will be her new name. Yes, I like that.
Very well, mistress. Very well, Viconia said fawningly.
Yes, very docile now. Except when I wish her to be otherwise. She is not fully
turned just yet, of course, but she will still obey when I send her against you now! So let
us end this, with your life crushed by the hand of your vampiric love. You wont even be
reunited in death. They are mine, as long as I live!
With a scream of rage, Tamarth transformed into the slayer. He leaped across the
pool of blood separating him from his prey. The others engaged Bodhis servants. Jan
scuttled about the combat, avoiding blows, adding holy water from the elven temple to
every blood pool in the room.
Tamarth, ignoring all else, ripped at Bodhi with his great claws. She fought back,
gradually weakening as Jan did his work. The damage to her material form finally
became too much for even her unnatural vitality to sustain. She cried, No! NO! Its
mine! This life is mine! before transforming to mist, seeking her coffin.
Viconia stood quietly, ignoring the battle around her. Tamarths attack had been so
sudden that Bodhi had had no chance to give her orders. To Tamarth, still in the slayer
form, what must be done was obvious. Viconia would never have chosen this existence.
With one blow of his claw he ripped out her throat, murdering his lover. He changed back
to elven form, dropping to his knees, cradling her body. His tears mingled with her blood
as the others finished the last of Bodhis servants.
With a snarl Tamarth looked up. He withdrew a stake from his garments, then
entered a small chamber off the one they were in. He walked to the coffin there, driving
the stake into the form inside. Bodhi crumbled before him, her body no more than an
empty shell as the stolen soul within was freed. Curiously, only a shriveled organ which
must have been her heart remained. There was the faint glimpse of an apparition of some
sort, and thennothing. With her death, a panel opened inside her coffin. The Lanthorn
was within.

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Tamarth laid out Viconias body, preparing it for removal from Bodhis lair.
Tamarth would find some better place to bury her corpse. The others ransacked the area
for treasure. Tamarth did not care to oversee the collection, for once not worrying if
something was taken that should have belonged to him.

Viconias Decision
Tamarth finished wrapping Viconias body. It was now ready to be carried forth. As
he stood there, Jan pressed several books into his hands, which had been found in the lair.
Slightly curious, Tamarth examined them. The first was titled Conjur Ota Servanta. He
paged through the book.
The text was written in a very old dialect of southern common that he was not
familiar with, though it did not appear to be a particularly ancient tome. It seemed to be a
section of the personal journal of a noble named Tomass Sangui, and dealt with the
acquiring and control of his most devoted servants. It was difficult to ascertain much
more, though from the frequency of certain words he was reasonably sure that Tomass
was creating vampire minions, if not some other creature that fed on blood. His
knowledge on the subject seemed quite intimate indeed, and he detailed the long process
of completely turning a victim. Tamarth became excited as he read. Apparently, if the
process was interrupted it could be reversed, but the author did not say how.
The second tome was titled Dea Vampir Becomos.
The book had been drenched in blood, ruining most of the pages within. The original
ink, faded to begin with, was now thoroughly illegible. A more recent script handwritten
in the margins had left an impression revealing a few words here and there, just enough
to decipher the nature of the tome. This text apparently dealt with the process that one
would go through to become a vampire, though the little he could see gave no indication
why someone would want to do such a thing.
Dissatisfied, Tamarth turned to the third book, The Vapiricus Omnibus:
Unabridged.
This tome was quite ancient, and he did not recognize the tongue in which it was
written. Fortunately, Bodhi had scrawled a translation of selected passages in the
margins, as well as further questions she apparently wished to ask on the subject. In a
section translated as Ending the Plague of Teeth Tamarth read:

Stuat tuo Gotha: The resolution:


With the witch at the fore, long previous to her treachery, we did stride the hills of
Umar seeking comfort in our hour of need. The time had come for the living to
mourn no more, and the blades that were fettered by sentiment were cut free, and it
was decided that we would speak for our lives with the sinews of our sword arms.
The honored dead that did take flight in the darkness of shadow would no more
receive sorrow from those of us that had lost their friends and relatives to the plague
of teeth.

Mornat depas Golvana Fathorn: Battles when came the dead:

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There came we, the army of light, armed with faith and conviction, and we did
march unto the tombs of the restless dead during hours of day. With wooden edge we
struck down master and slave, though many paid for each thrust with their lives. In
the fallen there was the danger of a scourge anew, and many of the newly infected
seemed doomed to walk again with dire purpose.

Aegato Davon: The plea:


No more cried we! No more would we lose to the plague. These new fallen could
not be abandoned. We had fought for our lives and theirs, and they would not be
taken. To the Temple we went, to the god of Sun and Light. Amaunator would save
them. Amaunator, whose touch turns shadows to fire. In the arms of the Sun god
were the infected placed, and the hearts of their dark masters were laid there with
them. Blood did burn, and the dead returned, but not as undead or unliving, but alive
and freed from taint. Many did walk the light side home, when last the plague did
fall.
Tamarth took note of some questions Bodhi had scrawled to herself:
Relevance of archaic worship of Amaunator?
Origin of vampiric plague?
Any link to a modern cure to be worried of?
Historical document or historical fiction?
Tamarth recalled the villagers of Imnesvale had mentioned an abandoned temple to a
sun god located in the Umar Hills. He grabbed Bodhis black heart, hoisted Viconias
body, and left the lair. Over the next day he hounded the others, force marching from the
city to the Umar Hills. It took another day of searching to find the ruins of the temple he
sought.
The temple itself was overrun with shadows, an odd fate for a former temple to the
sun god Amaunator. Tamarth led the others underground, fighting through the thronging
shadows. He finally found what he was looking for, a statue of the sun god, his cupped
hands large enough to hold a body.
That was precisely what Tamarth placed there, Viconias body, along with Bodhis
heart. He had helped the avatar of the sun god; he hoped Amaunator still had power
enough to help in return.
Viconia stirred, then slowly levered herself upright. Tamarth helped her to her feet,
swiftly explaining what he had done. She stared at him, perhaps still not believing he had
done so much for her. You haveyou have saved me, freed my spirit from a most foul
contamination. I am in your debt.
As well you should be, but I will not hold that over you. I only wish that you return
to me.
I welcome the invitation. No doubt you have missed my discipline. Thank you,
Tamarth. II missed your company. Well, shall we go then?
Yes, Viconia. Welcome back.

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I do not often express such feelings, but I must say thatI would not wish to be
parted from you again.
Tamarth took her hand, the hollowness which he had felt since Irenicus stole his soul
almost forgotten. He thought of the camaraderie he had sensed among Drizzt and his
companions, and imagined what it would be like to have such within his own group.
As they were leaving the temple Viconia suddenly stopped, looking around. I
haveI have an odd feeling. I do notthinkI have ever felt its like before
What kind of feeling? asked Tamarth, fearing some aftereffect from Bodhis bite.
I am not sure. As drow, we grow to have a natural tendency to feel rockand to
feel magicand this has similarities of both within it. It is almost as if a dark whisper is
traveling over Faerun, searching, seeking outsomething. Ifear it is looking for me.
Are you sure? What makes you think that?
Itit has the stink of Lolth. She is spinning her web, Tamarthshe is looking for
me.
Why now?
Why?! Itnothere it goes. The feelinghas vanished. But that does not mean it
will not return. II am suddenly quite cold, inside
Do not worry, ViconiaI am here to protect you.
A somewhat comforting thought, Tamarth. I am sure, somehow, that it will take
more than brave words on your part if my fears prove to be true.
They had traveled only a short distance, barely having left the Umar Hills, when
Viconia stopped again. Thatfeeling! It is back again, but stronger this time! I can feel
the ripples of the dweomerblack whispers from the depths of the Abyss!! She has
found me! SHE HAS FOUND ME!! Itits inside my head! ITS INSIDE MY HEAD!!
NOOO!! EEEYYYAAAAAIIIIIEEE!!
Viconia collapsed to the ground. A female drow, accompanied by a demon, appeared
beside her. The female looked at the figure on the ground in satisfaction. There is the
strayed one! Gather her, rotheand kill the others!!
Tamarth and the others attacked the drow and her companion, destroying them both.
Viconia was unharmed, aside from a splitting headache. Oooohthat sort of psychic
rape by a hound from the depths of the abyss is the sort that I simply will not tolerate! My
head feels as if it is barely connected to my body
What was that thing?! asked Tamarth.
That was a handmaiden of Lolth, and a yochlol. Gated assassins. To think that she
would go to such efforts to gather me up, it is almost beyond belief. Why would she
come after me now, after all this time? Why now? Has she grown bored with my
escapades, or is there some other reason? Andwhat will she do to take me, next? The
Spider Queen is not so easily dissuaded. Tamarth, I despise this terror that threatens to
swallow me!
What do you intend to do?

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Do? II do not know. I must think, Tamarthplease, leave me be for but a


while
Tamarth left Viconia alone as they continued to walk, although he often looked her
way. She was deep in thought as they traveled, barely paying attention to anything around
her. One time when she did look around, she noticed Tamarths gaze. Back away from
me, you pathetic fool! Do not cast your eyes upon me! I told you to let me be, iblith!! Are
you so insipid and moronic that you cannot understand such simple instruction?!
I said nothing to you, Viconia! What brings this on?!
Youyou are an affront to meI wish this had never come to be!
Why do you turn your head? Those are tears in your eyes! Why are you saying
these things to me?! Why?!
IIjustleave me be, Tamarth!
That night, as they set up camp, Viconia came to Tamarth, having come to a
decision. Wewe must talk. She did not look at him, but stared into the fire. Thisis
not workingbetween us. It will never work, and I think you know this. There can be
only one outcome. It can only end poorly.
Why do you say this? he asked, shocked.
Sooner or later I will fail you, or you will fail me, or Lolth will capture me, or I will
cause your death. I am drow and you are notthere is no happy ending here. We must
poison our hearts, my ssinssriggwe must do what is necessary and cleave us apart
before it is too late. And I cannot stay.
I wont allow that, Viconia! He couldnt believe what she was saying. There can
be a future for us if we both try!
But why?! Why would you wish to have me stay when you know this is doomed!
Doomed as my own black heart is doomed! Do not do this to yourself, Tamarth!
I want you to stay because I love you, Viconia. He spread his arms in an
extravagant gesture. Because if you leave, I will die without you.
Viconia in her turn was shocked, staring at him. She looked down at her feet. I love
you, too, Tamarthin my fashion.
But that is not enough, is it?
II regret I am not a creature who can feel things as you do. The capacityis just
not within. I almost wish it was, but darkness and loss are my callingsShar knows only
too well.
Is there no way for you to stay with me, even if we are not together?
There is no way, Tamarth. You know that.
The arguments of love having failed, Tamarth clutched at a straw to keep her with
him. But I need you here in the party, even if we are not togetherI cannot succeed
without your strength.

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II suppose I am being selfish. You are on a quest of great importance to you, and
my leaving would be more than an inconvenience, perhaps. Very well, Tamarth. It shall
bedifficult to stay by your side, but I will. But there is nothing further between usand
we part once your task is complete. This is the way it must be, if I am to help you. Iam
sorry, Tamarth. In my own way, I dolove you. Let us go now and put this behind us.
Tamarth tried several times in the next several days to get Viconia to talk about her
decision, but she ignored him. She gave no indication that he meant anything to her; her
control was perfect.

Suldanessellar
Before returning to Elhan and the surface elves, Tamarth entered Athkatla, to gather
supplies. He was pleased to run into Imoen, at the Copper Coronet. She had found a
sewer outlet in Spellhold, leading into the sea. The ward on its entry had not been
maintained, and she was able to slip past it. The time taken to find this exit meant she
returned to Spellhold after Tamarth had already left Brynnlaw with Saemon Havarian. A
smuggler in Brynnlaw had secured a place for her on an outgoing vessel, albeit to a port
other than Athkatla. It had taken time, but Imoen had returned to the city.
Imoen explained that she had felt her soul return to her, awakening aboard ship.
Finishing her story, she brightly said, So, you ready to go? Id prefer to travel with you,
if I could.
Tamarth brusquely turned her down. She was safe now, and he wasnt about to risk
her again. Imoen sadly watched him walk away; she missed their childhood friendship,
which had ended the day Gorion died.
The party traveled to the Forest of Tethir. Near where they had last met him, they
found Elhan, who greeted them. You return. All has been relatively quiet here. I believe
the Drow were mostly satisfied with the destruction of our temple. They have made no
further serious advancement. Yet. He paused. You have the Lanthorn! It is in the hands
of the murderous vampire Bodhi no longer! I feel the tide of this crisis is certainly
changing.
How do you know that? asked Tamarth, suspicious. I mentioned her name, but
never said she was a vampire.
Perhaps not, but you did ask for Holy Water and stakes. One needs only put two
and two together to make the correct assumption.
Ridiculous. Why bother with this dance? I know you are hiding something. Bodhi
was clear on this.
Anything said by her or the Exile Irenicus must be treated as suspect! You would do
well not to repeat their tales to those that do not need to know them!
So, Irenicus is now the Exile. Thats not a name for a stranger. Perhaps I should
ask around.
No! This isThis is not for you to know. Even though you are an elf, you are an
outsider. This should not be known to you, or anyone. It is a shame we had buried. I cant

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tell you, Tamarth, it is not my place to do so. The Exiles, this Irenicus and Bodhi, are
criminals. Their crime was great, their punishment greater.
So a great evil befell you with these outsiders, so what?
You do not understand, and I am not prepared to make you. If you wish to know
more, youll have to talk to one of those involved. Demin the high priestess, she will tell
you. We will have to breach the city to find her. Fortunately my sages have instructed me
in the use of the Lanthorn. We must go, but most of my elves must remain to hold the
Drow. We must not be struggling on two fronts when we face what is in the city. Follow,
Tamarth, we must let the Lanthorn lead us to Suldanessellar. I can only hope that the
Exile will have left us a city to find.
Elhan quickly gathered a force of guards and mages. The combined power of the
mages teleported everyone, including the party, into a dense portion of the forest. Fallen
trees and undergrowth formed an impenetrable wall in front of them.
Elhan, carrying the Lanthorn, exclaimed, It is here, I can feel it. The Lanthorn is
almost buzzing, there can be no mistake. Stand back, and I shall make the way clear! He
unshuttered the Lanthorn. Where its rays shone, a stone lined path became visible,
leading forward.
Elhan smiled. Ahh, sweet Suldanessellar. I have been away too long. I must
determine what Irenicus has done within the city. Ill wager that it has been long since
you have indulged your elven nature. Welcome home. Follow me within, and we shall
determine the extent of the damage. I shall meet you on the other side of this passage. Do
not tarry. Keep that drow of yours under guard. None of her kind has seen the beauty of
an elven city since their fall. I would blindfold her if I could. Others would put her eyes
out.
Guided by the light of the Rhynn Lanthorn, they passed effortlessly through what
had seemed an impenetrable wall of trees. The city that greeted them as they emerged
was at once inspiring, but also profoundly troubling, for amidst the majestic architecture
were dozens of bodies, elves that have fallen while defending their home. Suldanessellar
was in the grip of Irenicus and his minions, and it would not be relinquished without a
fight.
They emerged onto a platform, attached on several sides to trees which supported it
above the ground. Suldanessellar was a city of platforms, the buildings entwined with the
trees of the forest.
It is as I feared, said Elhan. The madman Irenicus has unleashed his anger upon
the city. And worse yet, I now recognize the magic he has employed. Corruption magics,
illusions from a race of spirits, the Rakshasa. Such creatures are very predatory. It would
appear that there is no depth to which Irenicus will not sink. Suldanessellar is under
siege. With this number of beasts under his command, Irenicus will be very hard to
unseat.
Direct assault, I say! cried Tamarth, now that he was here anxious to meet his
enemy. Let his lackeys come! Ill take them all down!

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We must proceed with caution. Not everyone in the city can withstand an onslaught
like this. Their safety must take priority. You must seek out Ellesime. She will know
what to do. She has a link to the divine not unlike your own, though through a much more
benevolent spirit. Failing that, find the high priestess Demin. If anyone had warning of
Irenicus and made preparations, it would be one of those two. Go, Tamarth, I will
garrison this area with my elite War Guards. We will shepherd people to safety as you
secure the inner city.
Elhan sent his warriors into the city. Tamarth headed directly for the palace, fighting
along the way the golems and rakshasa Irenicus had left behind. When he found the
palace sealed, he went in search of the priestess Demin. He found her in a house, guarded
by several rakshasa.
Th-thank you for your assistance, strangers, said Demin after the battle. Forgive
me, also, if I reward your effort with questions. How do you come to be here? Our city is
not usually found by outsiders, doubly so with the Exile employing his magics to hide us.
It is beyond fortuitous if you stumbled here unknowing.
Again you call Irenicus the Exile, said Tamarth. Why? Elhan would not say,
and I must know.
Elhan is like many of us, and would prefer this incident solved without involving
others. Forgive him his hesitation, he only wishes for the best outcome. I begin to feel it
is a mistake to keep this amongst us exclusively. The consequences have been far
reaching and have proven especially difficult to dispel.
Elhan was particularly vexing, demanding help while also refusing information.
I am not so concerned with the shame of our people over Irenicus and Bodhi. What
good is our silence if the city is crushed because we would not seek help? As an elf,
perhaps you will come to understand our hesitation in speaking of this. Hopefully it is a
folly that will not be repeated again. The Exiles were not always as you know them now.
They once had names that I would have been proud to speak, and were as worthy as any
other of praise.
So you say, but I have found both of them worthy of only hatred and loathing.
Certainly you are entitled to your misgivings. You would not be here if you were
not driven by powerful emotions, and the Exile is good at provoking a reaction.
Hes provoked one from me, all right, said Korgan. Ill deliver it nice and
personal on the edge of a blade.
He has garnered the strongest of reactions from we, his own people, for he wronged
us greater than any other. He is a criminal that knows no bounds. Yes, he was elven as we
are, but no longer. Queen Ellesime cast him out, for he had proven he was not elven at
heart.
And Bodhi? Was she involved in this too?
She and He were well known in the elven court of Suldanessellar. He, at least, was
a great asset to our kind and kin. He was the greatest of our mages, as skilled as any of

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elven blood could be without divine assistance. He even had the favor of the Queen. It
was not enough.
Korgan nodded. Ahh, then this is the closest Ive come to understanding the fool. A
cause I can respect.
Of the two, the sister was the insatiable one. She was not as regarded, but she held
great influence over her brother, and pulled him into her madness. Together they sought
more than was possible; they wished the power of the gods, and they were not concerned
about the consequences. He of the Exiles performed a dark ritual, and committed a grave
offense against the greatest symbol of our longevity: the Tree of Life. He sought to merge
his essence with the divine tree, draining it and stealing its energy. He failed, but there
was a price to pay for the rest of us. He disrupted the elven connection to land and nature.
There was a great shock that ran through Suldanessellar, and many of our weaker citizens
lay near death. That he would endanger so many for he and his sisters selfish goals was
one thing, but to threaten the very nature of what makes us who we are was
unfathomable.
Yes, yes, I smell your outrage. Get on with your story.
It fell to Ellesime to judge the crime, and she was harsh. Having forsaken
everything elven, they would be outcast so they might learn how precious our ways are.
Well, ye did not kill him, said Korgan, that much is certain. What waste of time
did you impose?
Of spiritually high regard, Ellesime petitioned the gods and a divine curse was
placed upon the Exiles. All their connection to the elven spirit was severed. Ellesime
thought it a punishment worse than death. A life no longer than a humans, and their
elven spirits banished from the paradise all elvenkind are entitled to. The sister exposed
herself to vampirism to try and counteract the divine curse, but gods are not routed so
easily. The brother did not risk the same. A better man would have learned to appreciate
what he had lost, perhaps learning humility and seek to make amends. He did not prove
to be a better man.
You cut Irenicus and Bodhi loose and instead of reforming they plotted revenge.
Typical.
We had hoped this would turn out better. The Exile has found a way to restore
himself, has made pacts with our most despised enemies, and has resumed his original
plot.
I will still kill him for my own reasons. Irenicus has earned his death, just like
Bodhi.
I have no way to accurately measure the cost of our decisions on you. Reparations
will be made, if there is anyone left here to make them. II am still in shock that this
happened. So much of Suldanessellars defenses were away, battling the Drow and their
incursion at the temple. We were left weak. One group of exiles helping another, both so
full of their petty hatred and jealousy that they would stop at nothing to strike at our
hearts. The Exile brought to the city magical constructs and demons, and aa black

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dragon, which landed to the northwest. I have been trying to fight, but there are too
many.
I am to find Ellesime. After that, Irenicus is mine to deal with.
The Exile has seeded the streets with his minions, and taken Ellesime into the
palace. I have made an attempt to enter, but it is sealed tight. Whether you search for the
Queen or seek the Exile for reasons of your own, you will have to get into the palace and
also deal with the monsters in the streets. And I believe there is a way to do both at the
same time, though it will not be easy. No, we have seen to it that it will not be easy.
Bah! said Edwin. Weve no time to run around your city, concerning ourselves
with your moronic people! Let them save themselves! We are here for the wizard!
I obviously do not have the strength, myself, to complete the task. I think perhaps
you do. If I tell you what is to be done, will you do it?
If there is no other way, then fine. Tell me what needs to be done.
Demin explained what had to be done to rouse the avatar of Rillifane at the temple. It
involved defeating the black dragon Irenicus had rode into the city, among other tasks,
but Tamarth accomplished it. When Tamarth summoned forth the avatar in the temple, it
spoke to them all.
** THE AVATAR OF THE GREAT OAK STANDS BEFORE YOU, MORTALS. WHAT TRANSPIRES HERE
THAT REQUIRES THE ATTENTION OF THE LEAFLORD? **
The sorcerer, Jon Irenicus, has -- Tamarth started.
** AHTHE EXILE HAS RETURNED. HE WHO ONCE WAS OF THE ELVES BUT IS NO LONGER
SURVIVES YET.
ONCE AGAIN HE COMMITS HIS SACRILEGE AGAINST THE TREE OF LIFE. **
** THE EXILE PROTECTS HIMSELF WITH POWER THAT CORRUPTS NATURE. I CANNOT TOUCH HIM. HE
HOLDS SHE WHO IS OF MY BLOOD IMPRISONED WITHIN CORRUPTION. HE USES HER LINK TO THE TREE OF
LIFE TO DRAIN ITS POWER. **

Why? Whats he going to --


** THE EXILE SEEKS TO JOIN THE SELDARINE. THE EXILE SEEKS TO BECOME A GOD, AS HE SOUGHT
ONCE BEFORE.**
So he seeks to actually join the Seldarine, mused Viconia, to become an elven
god in fact. The man is insanely ambitious, striving towards the impossible.
** THE SELDARINE WOULD NEVER PERMIT IT. THE TREE OF LIFE MUST NOT PERISH,
FIRST OF THE
OR OUR CHILDREN WILL SUFFER. THE SPIRITS OF THIS WOOD WILL BE CALLED TO DEFEAT THE EVIL THAT
THE EXILE HAS BROUGHT INTO OUR MIDST. **

** RISE, SPIRITSIT IS I, RILLIFANE RALLATHIL OF THE SELDARINE WHO CALLS YOU. DEFEND
OUR CHILDREN THIS DAY. **
The wind in the room briefly rose to a howl. Human-sized wispy spirits seemed to
appear on the wind, letting the wind take them from the temple. Then the air stilled.
** AND YOU, MORTAL**

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As the Avatar of Rillifanes gaze settled on him, Tamarth felt uncomfortable. He was
of partial elven heritage, but the elves he had met in the past had rejected him when they
learned of his divine father. He detected no judgement here, however. In fact, he
suddenly realized he felt refreshed, as if had spent a full day resting. He was well
prepared to face Irenicus.
** YOU SEEK TO DEFEAT THE EXILE. FREE SHE WHO IS OF MY BLOOD FROM HIS CORRUPTION, AND
SHE WILL SEVER THE LINK HE USES. **

But Irenicus has sealed --


** THE EXILE BLOCKS YOUR WAY, SEALING THE GATES TO THE GREAT PALACE. I SHALL UNSEAL
THEMIT IS DONE. I CAN DO NO MORE. **

The way opened, he passed into the palace. From there, he would have to enter the
most sacred part of the city, the tree of life.

Penultimate Confrontation
Tamarth felt a tingling as he approached the stairs leading to the tree of life; a
familiar touch which he instinctively recognized as his own soul. Irenicus was near, in the
next room. He paused, knowing that he might not survive the battle to come. He had little
choice, however; without his soul, his fate was a grim and certain one. He turned and
regarded those who remained in the party. Their own desires had driven them to follow
him this far. Of them all, Jan was the only one he felt he could trust at all.
Jan, ever the irreverent jester; he wondered if he was serious this timeif he had
considered fully what might come of the next battle.
I need you to be serious and committed here, Jan. Can you do that?
Youve done me a few good turns here and there, Tamarth. And besidesleaving
now would be like turning your back on a three-copper-a-barrel turnip deal. It just isnt
done. I would become a Jansen of infamy and ill-repute, never again allowed to involve
myself in turnip merchandise anywhere. Tsk. Even Golodon the Unmanned would
consider himself superior to me, and Ive seen the mans underwear.
Edwin, who once promised a year of service but wasnt the sort to keep his word, yet
the Red Wizard remained, keeping his own counsel and motivations secret.
Are you prepared for this fight, Edwin? I need to know that youre ready.
And where do you suppose I should be going? You have a nose that seems to sniff
out the path of power, and I will wrest what portion of it I wish until I am sated. (And
then, perhaps, we see what becomes of *you*!)
HaerDalis, the tiefling bard who had been a unique companion, always enigmatic
and obsessed with entropy. Why he continued to follow Tamarth didnt really know.
HaerDalisyou dont need to accompany me any further, if you dont wish to.
This isnt your fight.

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Ahh, but I have little choice in the way of it now, my cautious raven. Your life is an
act of such vivid interest to me, I cannot help but remain at your side to see how the last
act unfolds before me. My blades stand ready to fall, if entropy dictates it is so.
Korgan, the vicious and self-interested dwarf, but a seasoned adventurer who also
happened to be one of the most effective fighters Tamarth had encountered.
Are you ready for this fight, Korgan? I need to know if youre going to stick
around.
Ach, dont be givin me any o that! Me axe be as sharp as she gets, and its itching
fer a wizardly bloodletting! If I dies, I takes me chances, but Ill have none o yer
coddling!
Viconia, the brooding dark elf cleric of Shar. She had stayed though her relationship
with Tamarth could not work, despite moments when it seemed otherwise. Her dark eyes
regarded him oddly as he haltingly spoke, ViconiaI ---
There is no point in saying what you are going to say, Tamarth. Viconias eyes
were fixated on him, as though she was determined to remember this moment for all
time. It changes nothing. You are the only one I have encountered since I fled my
homeland who has both taken my measure and given me quarter. You have saved my life
more than once, we have fought together and bled togetherand more. Whether loyalty
is a trait you would ascribe to me does not matter. I would offer my last breath in your
defense. You areunique amongst men, and I salute you. Now let us finish this business
you have at hand. The future will deal with usas it may.
Without a further word, Tamarth turned grimly back to the stairs before him. His
soul awaited.
He emerged from the stairs on the limb of a huge tree. He could barely make out the
central shaft of the tree through a curtain of leaves the size of shields. The entire party,
finger tip to finger tip, could not engirdle that trunk.
A wavering form of an elven woman appeared before them. Wait! Who comes?
Youyou are the Child of Bhaal, arent you? The one that JonelethJonboasted of
stealing power from? He claimed to have slain you!
Tamarth recognized the voice, from a dream of his. He very nearly did. And I
intend to return the favor!
I am Ellesime, Queen of Suldanessellar. Joneleth has me at the center of the tree,
trapped in a cage of corruptive magics. This is as far as I have been able to send my
image. Joneleth, the one you know as Irenicus, heis drawing power from the Tree of
Life into himself. There areparasites attached to the Tree, draining it for him
Parasites? What manner of creatures are these?
I do not know what manner of parasites these things arebut they are formed from
corruption itself, I fear! They feed Joneleth the power and maintain my cage! Whether
you are here to save my people or simply kill he who has tormented you, I care not. One
thing must be done; the parasites on the Tree of Life must die! Do that and I can sever

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Jons connection to the Tree. Then, and only then, may he be killed! Ibelieve he has
protected the parasites somehowI do not know. Hurry!
Tamarth found his first parasite. A bag-like body, larger than he was, from which
four tentacles penetrated the bark of the tree, draining it to feed Irenicus. When he went
to attack it, two elementals appeared, its defenders. The party defeated the elementals,
then destroyed the parasite.
They destroyed another, when Ellesimes voice rang out, magically projected to
them. Yes! Excellent! There is only one more that needs to be destroyed! Already I can
see this cage beginning to fade! Once you kill the last parasite, I will begin to sever his
connection. You will need to come to the center of the Tree where Irenicus and I are
quickly! The energy he has stolen from the Tree will be torn from him. I know not what
effects this will havebut Jon will be disoriented, so you must kill him quickly! Finish it
quickly! I feel the Tree of Life dying! Jon is drawing too close to his goal!
Once they disposed of the final parasite, they found themselves transported to the
center of the tree. Irenicus was there. The queen, Ellesime, was as well. The magical cage
that had confined her was gone, Irenicus no longer able to sustain it with the destruction
of the parasites.
WhatwhoWHO DARES! roared Irenicus.
You had to know I wouldnt let you get away, answered Tamarth.
Youyou live *yet*?! You have less than a fraction of your soul and yet somehow
you *continue* to oppose me? The powerthe power of the Tree is gone from me. You
have been successful in your little scheme, insect, but now this ends! I will take great
pleasure in eradicating such a nuisance as you. And then I shallre-establish my link,
join with the Tree once againI shall find a way, I shall *have* the power
No, Joneleth. You shall not, said Ellesime.
Who? Ellesime?
Yes, it is I, your Queen. Twice, now, you have attempted this sacrilege and nearly
destroyed us all. You will not do this again, Joneleth.
Do not call me that! I lost all right to that name when the Seldarine stripped me of
everything that was elven, as you well know!!
And what shall I call you instead? Irenicus? Shattered One? Yesit was a
terrible punishment. But you violated everything we hold dear. You nearly destroyed us
all! And for what? Power? Is that all that you exist for now, Jon?
It is all I have now, Ellesime. There is nothing else beyond my revenge. Revenge
for what you did to me, what the Seldarine did to me!
And your revenge has poisoned your heart. The Tree touched you once, long ago.
Do you remember nothing of it? Is there nothing in your heart that remembers love? Is
there nothing within you that remembers *our* love? What we once shared before this
obsession doomed you?

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II do not remember your love, Ellesime. I have tried to. I have tried to recreate it,
to spark it anew in my memory. But it is gonea hollow, dead thing. For years, I clung
to the memory of it. Then the memory of the memory. And then nothing. The Seldarine
took that from me, too. I look upon you and I feel nothing. I remember nothing but you
turning your back on me, along with all the others. Once my thirst for power was
everything. And now I hunger only for revenge. AndIWILLHAVE IT!!
Then I pity you. Would that you had used your stolen mortal years to *earn* your
return to this sacred place. I could have loved you anew, as I loved the man you once
were. But I see nothing of him here. You are Irenicus. And all that awaits you now is
death.
We shall see, my former love. We shall see.
Ellesime disappeared, to rally the defenders of her city. Irenicus now had time for
Tamarth. So she goes to rouse Elhan and the others while I am still weak. So be it, I
shall crush them all, if need be. I retain your power, yet, Tamarth. Your soul still courses
through me. Come and make your attempt to reclaim it, if you like. I have power enough
to deal with you!
Tamarth let slip his anger, transforming into the slayer. Korgan was at his side,
hewing with his axe. Edwin and Jan attempted to breach Irenicus magical defenses,
while Viconia cursed in her dark tongue, seeking to protect them all from the attacks of
Irenicus.
HaerDalis, forsaking his magic, attacked Irenicus directly as well, twin swords
flashing. He cried, Ahhh, mayhap this will be the end! For the Doomguard, I strike a
blow! Ah! At lastoblivion
HaerDalis was not to get his wish. Irenicus, confused and weakened by the breaking
of his link to the elven tree of life, was no longer a match for the six of them. His magical
defenses stripped away, he fell to a blow from Tamarths clawed hand.
Irenicus tried to support himself on one arm, whispering in disbelief, I*you* k-
killed meT-this is notthisis not He crumpled, his words dying on his lips, and a
strange quiet enveloped the scene. Tamarth began to wonder if he had finally won, if it
was all truly over.
Viconia spat on the corpse. The mage was a fool to believe himself so powerful.
Now he is dead, as fools usually become. Butwhat of you, Tamarth? Have you
recovered what you lost?
If this was victory, there was a question burning in the back of Tamarths mind:
What about what he had stolen. What of his soul? Tamarth felt a small tug inside himself,
a pull that seemed to come from the apparition that rose from Irenicus. It was gentle at
first, but quickly became urgent. Within seconds he couldnt breathe, drawn inexorably to
where Irenicus fell. He was still connected to his stolen soul, but it was no longer among
the living. Released in death, his stolen soul did not return to him. It was falling away
from the mortal world, and he was being dragged along with it.

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Heritage of Bhaal
The pain subsided, and Tamarth opened his eyes to horror beyond imagining. It was
an assault on his senses, a collection of nightmare sensations. This, surely, was Hell. He
slowly realized that he was not alone, that others were apparently so wounded in the
battle with Irenicus that their souls were dragged to a similar fate. He doubted they would
be pleased with their present circumstance, when Tamarth didnt even know why he was
here himself.
Korgan stared about. HmmmI felt a draggin on me foot, almost, when I died
and now here we be. Fair enough. It be far better than anything I were expectin fer an
afterlife.
Whoa! said Jan. This place looks just likeit reminds me ofthis is just like that
time Ihm. I dont think anything like this has ever happened to me before he trailed
off in confusion.
This ismost unusual, allowed Viconia. Death overwhelmed me in combat, and
the darkness came over my senses. I felt a pulling, and followed itand here we are.
What place is this, I wonder?
HaerDalis seemed pleased. Ahhh, back in the planes, I see. And the hard way, too,
it seems. Adventuring with you does seem to have its odd turns, my raven.
Eh? The Nine Hells, is it? said Edwin. Hmph. I felt your infernal power tugging
at me, but I was coming here anyway. There might be profit, yet, by remaining at your
sidewell see.
Tamarth pulled his mephit familiar out of his pack, since he figured it must know
something about where he was. He asked its advice, at which it looked at him
incredulously, wondering if he was serious or if this was a prelude to a slap. You want
*me* to give *you* advice, boss? Thats a first.
It looked about and gave a quick shiver. Yeah, I got advice right, boss. Stick your
head between your legs an kiss your butt good-bye.
Not pleased with the advice, Tamarth attempted to slap the impish creature, but it
darted away at the last second. Nyah! Thhhppppfffttt! You couldnt hit the broad side of
a barn! You suck! It dashed further away before a reprisal could come. Tamarth put his
pack on the ground; the imp would crawl into it when it got over its snit. He looked
around, putting the incident out of his mind.
They stood next to a great door. Five eyes surrounded the hellish door, as if part of
the very stone itself. The eyes followed them as they moved, and a palpable aura of evil
emanated from them. They guarded the door and if they wished to pass through, they
must find some way of bypassing their guard.
The wall the door was in was straight. A semi-circular wall, broken by five openings,
curved around to meet it. Picking an opening, Tamarth entered. A passage led
downwards, ending in a small chamber. A familiar figure awaited him.
So we meet again, said Sarevok. How fitting that our reunion should be in this
place of retribution.

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Sarevok?! cried Tamarth in disbelief.


It is I. Or an echo, perhaps. My essence joined that of our dead father after you
murdered me, after allbut in the end, all the Children of Bhaal end up here. I have one
of the Tears of Bhaal you will need. I will not hand it over to you, however. You do not
deserve it.
What are you talking about in pieces? repeated Tamarth, still in shock.
I speak of your soul, fool. You are just a part, not fully dead, so your essence has
not joined our dead father. This is his realm, so your blood holds sway here.
Holds sway? What are you speaking of?
Your soul is tainted by the touch of our father, fool, and it is that part which rules
over this realm. But you share your soul with another, dont you? The mage, he stole
most of your soul, but not all. You are tethered like a helpless calf, dragged into hell after
him. Neither of you is truly alive, or truly dead.
Irenicus? Do you know where he is? Perhaps this wraith-Sarevok could provide
some answers.
Bah! Have you heard nothing? You have *power* here. Already you search, and
already the mage obstructs you. The Tears of Bhaal are your only choice. A tear fell for
every murdered soul, every torment paid by our father, and he kept each one. They can
show the path to your wizardif you gather them all, that is. I have one of the Tears of
Bhaal you will need. I will not hand it over to you, however. You do not deserve it.
Deserve it? What do you mean by that?
I mean you are a pathetic worm, a sniveling little cretin. I relished spitting Gorion
on my blade, and were there true justice our positions would be reversed now!
Tamarth felt anger. I warn you, Sarevokhand over the Tear or your existence here
will be a short one!
Ahhhh, yes. Stoke that infernal wrath of yours. I can feel the anger within you,
boiling like a pit of sulfur in the crevices of your heart. You feel it, do you not? The taint
that surrounds your soul like a serpent, squeezing it, spreading its venom. That taint, that
wrath, exists in all the Children of Bhaalbut few know how to use it. You have become
the Slayer, have you not? The avatar of our dead father. The blackest expression of
murderI see it behind your eyes. Summon your wrath for meif you can.
Why?! What do you get out of this?!
You are the one who brought me here. Your power over this place has summoned
forth my essence once again. And why do you think you have done that? I can teach you
how to use your wrath. You can control the taint, direct it, summon it at will! You can
become the Slayer at will and become the weapon of murder that you were meant to be!
So think of me! Think of how I destroyed your precious Gorion! How I plundered the
lives of your Candlekeep! Summon your rage, stir the depths of your black heart!
Summon wrath! Summon wrath and *become* it! Because if you cannot, then you are
not worth your destiny! It should have been I! It should have been I! Sarevok raised his
sword over his head, shouting out his challenge.

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ATTACK ME, WORM, IF YOU DARE!!


In a flash of insight Tamarth realized he and Sarevok werent that different. They
had both sought the power inherent in their divine heritage. The only difference was
Sarevok had failed, a fate Tamarth didnt intend to be his lot. He summoned his anger,
roaring his answer to Sarevoks challenge.
YES!! DIE!! DIE FOREVER!!
YES! YOU ARE WORTHY ENOUGH TO BATTLE AGAIN!! THE CHILD OF BHAAL INCARNATE!!
Tamarth became the slayer, attacking Sarevok. Sarevok fought well, but this shadow
no longer held the power of a god, and was destroyed. Tamarth took the tear of Bhaal
from the corpse.
Tamarth returned to the original chamber, and entered another of the five passages. It
led down to a pool of molten lava, a narrow walkway of solid stone dividing the pool,
stretching ahead a short distance until sight of it was lost in the cloud of steam in the air.
A demon stood on the walkway. Tamarth was slightly reassured when the demon chose
to speak to him.
One of the Tearssss doessss lie near thisss very place. It isss in the possession of
another, one with sssso much power. Sssso difficult to defeat, it isss. But all thingss, even
the powerful, can be overcome, yess? You have defeated many whossse claims of power
were hollow. You tore them from their thronesss
What does that have to do with the Tear?
Ahhh, alwaysss you have used the right toolsss to defeat your foesss, yesss? And I
am givingsss to you, now, the right tool to defeat thisss one. Here it issgaze upon the
sssword that is named Blackrazor. Mosst powerful, it iss. And it iss the tool you needss
to defeat the one who holdss the Tear. It isss for you to decide, Child of Bhaal, how to
usssse the tool you have. I leavesss you to your choice, then, young Lord of thisss
place The demon disappeared.
Tamarth took the sword, advancing along the path. It ended at a rock wall, a djinni
hovering there.
I see the ruler of this small plane has come to me, said the djinni. Perhaps my
eternal torment shall be relieved at long last! I can only hope.
Are you the one who guards the Tear of Bhaal?
I am, to my everlasting lament. It is my punishment that I hold the Tear of Bhaal, to
remain evermore until certainconditions are met. Only then may I be free.
What conditions are those?
Icannot tell you directly, my Lord. It is a condition of my punishment that I can
only tell you of its nature in a riddle. Listen carefully:
Ye who hold the razors blade
forged of darkest iron
quenched by blood and fear,

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know that ye hold the key


to the one who guards
Bhaals sacred murdered tear.
Solet me get this straight. The sword Blackrazor is the key to getting the Tear of
Bhaal from you?
I cannot answer that, my Lord.
So if I were to give you Blackrazor, would you give me the Tear? And that would
release you from your punishment?
It would, my Lord.
But Blackrazor also allows me to kill you, is that right? That would release you,
too.
You do not need the sword, itself, to do that. The fact that you were given
Blackrazor is enough, even if you possess it no longer. But, yesthat, too, would be a
release.
Then I suppose it time for you to die!
I welcome such a releaseshould you prove able.
Tamarth destroyed the djinni with the sword he had been given, considering it only
fitting. Afterwards, he picked up the tear which was all that remained of the creature.
He followed another path which led from the semi-circular room. A demon, for all
he could tell the same one, was waiting for him, standing in front of two doors.
Know you, Child, hissed the demon, that there is a Tear of Bhaal in this place
before usyet there are two paths that lead to it. Two doors, two paths, yet both lead to
your goal, yes? You have made many choices on the journey that was your life. Many
paths have you taken, and always they have had an effect on those around youeven
when that was not your intention. Such is the fate of those born with Destinythe
consequences of the actions they take ripple about them throughout all that is reality.
Perhaps the fate of others concerns you little. Perhaps it consumes your soul. That, too, is
a choicean action takena ripple set into the pond of reality.
What does all this have to do with the Tear, then?
The path that you take to the Tear will affect another this day. Another who is
innocent of the action you take, and yet affected by it just the same. One of those who
travels with you, who orbits your destiny and yet is innocent of your taintwill do
nicely. Remember, Child of Bhaala choice must be made, and you must live with the
consequences of that choice. Go to my left and sacrifice for the innocent. Go to my right
and save yourself.
Jan suddenly vanished from beside Tamarth. The demon continued, The
consequence of your choice is thusyour companion is destroyed, as a result of your
actions if not your intent. Such is the path of Destiny, forged by those with the will to
know they are pre-eminent. The Tear of Bhaal is yours, child. The demon, in its turn,
disappeared as well.

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Tamarth considered his choices. He rather liked Jan, and didnt want anything to
happen to him. But this was his own personal hell, and it was up to him to get everyone
out. He couldnt afford any diminishment to his abilities. Tamarth entered the door which
had been to the demons right.
He passed though two more doors, ending in a small chamber. Jan, frozen in
position, was there, as was the demon. With a blow of its fist the demon thrust its hand
through Jans chest, instantly killing him, before vanishing. Tamarth told himself things
had worked out well, since Viconia was able to raise him from the dead. However,
Tamarth couldnt meet Jans gaze when he was once more among the living.
Tamarth and the others left the chamber, backtracking to the semi-circular room,
then entered another opening. Unsurprisingly, their path soon led them to another waiting
demon.
A Tear of Bhaal lies very close to here, Child of Bhaaljust beyond either of these
two rooms before you. You have encountered many times in your existence where you
have been forced to swallow your fear, no? You have fought off terror that would
overwhelm a lesser being and shown courage, instead. Pass through either of these rooms
and your vaunted courage shall be challenged, Child of Bhaal. I have something I will
offer, however, which will make it so much easier for you, Child. You know, like so
many with power, that items of magic can do much that the ordinary man cannotsuch
as this cloak, for instance. Stitched together from the flayed skins of lovely nymphs.
Wear it and be soothed by its powerful magicpanic will never overcome you again.
With this cloak you could easily gather the Tear of Bhaal and worry not of your courage.
I bow to the power of your divine soul, Child, and offer this cloak up to youif you wish
it.
Tamarth scowled at the demon. I do not need a cloak to give me courage. Take your
so-called gift and begone.
Then you choose to rely on your own power and bravery. It shall be as you wish,
Child of Bhaal. The demon vanished.
Tamarth rushed ahead, the others trailing. Just beyond where the demon had stood
were two beholders, along with some lesser gauths. Tamarth attacked the nearest
beholder, rays from its eyes reflecting back at it from his magical cloak. Korgan was
hewing with his axe at his side, while the others aided the battle from a distance. The first
beholder died, then soon afterwards the second. Reflected rays had already dealt with the
gauths. In a chest beyond was a tear.
Tamarth returned whence he had come, entering the final opening. Again, a demon
greeted him.
Ah. So the Child of Bhaal comes to me, finally, for the last of the Tears of Bhaal.
You have come very near to locating your quarry, o young Lord of Murder. Yes, indeed
you have.
I suppose youre going to tell me Irenicus has been waiting behind that strange
doorway this entire time?

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Of course not. He moves quickly, yet you close on him quickly. These tests that you
place on yourself are clever, o young Lord of Murder. Your power is strong.
What do you mean?
How do you find your soul, Child of Bhaal? Do you find it on a stroll? No, you
must know yourself, the depths of your passion and the heights of your depravity. You
come to know what you are capable of, and that shall open the way to your soul. It is
yourself, your essence, that you seekwhether you know it or not. And because this is
what you seek, your power fights against the mage and brings you closer to your goal.
Soon you shall open the eyes with the Tears of Bhaal.
And what then? The door will be open and Irenicus will be there?
The way to your soul shall be revealed, but you only perceive it as a door. A pity
that mortal minds can encompass more power than their faculties can comprehend. I hope
you have been careful, Child of Bhaal. The Nine Hells are a place of retributionthe
Tears sting as easily as they soothe.
Why are you speaking so cryptically? What does that mean?
I obscure the truth because it is my nature to do so, o Lord of Murder. But I bow to
your mastery, here, and answer your questions nevertheless.
It is a good thing you have come to me, Child of Bhaal. Only you hold the power to
vanquish the terrible creature that holds one of your dead fathers Tears here. I have
heard of your prowess, Childmost impressive, for a mortal life. Creatures of great
power thrown aside as if they were nothing! Beings any other mortal would quake before
you have fought against valiantly! You are a wonder of destruction, Child of Bhaal! Go,
then, and defeat the creature that lies in the cavern! Crush it beneath your heel and claim
another victory!
Very well, I shall defeat whatever lies within!
Excellent! Go forth, strong onego into the cavern and strike a blow for your
destiny! Take the Tear whether the creature likes it or not!
Tamarth sensed this battle would be the hardest of the five encounters. He told the
others to prepare, especially looking to the casting of magical protections. When they
were ready the party moved ahead. The passage they were in opened up, the ceiling
receding, the walls moving away from each other. A short distance ahead was a dragon.
Without hesitation, Tamarth led the charge against the beast. The battle was difficult, but
the beast was weaker than had been the silver Adalon, while the party had gained
experience in the interim. After the battle, Tamarth took a single tear from the corpse.
Tamarth and the others rested in the semi-circular room. Refreshed, Tamarth touched
the tears of Bhaal to the five eyes surrounding the door. As each tear touched an eye, the
eye closed, and the tear disappeared. As the last eye closed, the door before them opened,
an invisible force streaming forth from the door driving the party backwards. Irenicus,
flanked by four demons, appeared in the room.
So, we are to battle one last time, said Irenicus. No more hiding for either of us. I
will enjoy destroying you, Tamarth. To die in this place is to cease to exist!

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That would be more than you deserve, replied Tamarth. It was your scheme that
brought us here.
I shall not take responsibility for this. No, not this. Though I have found that things
are not at their worst. There is value to take from being here, and I have you to thank. As
horrific as this place is, it merely mirrors the soul we now share. Shrink from it if you
will, but I have grown to appreciate what it can offer! Now defend yourself! One of us is
not truly dead, and may be restored if the other is left here to rot! I will be free with what
I have taken!
I will restore myself whether dead or alive. You shall not have what belongs to
me!
Your soul was never truly yours, Bhaal child! You should let me put it to better
use!
Yer a fine one fer words, wizard, said Korgan, brandishing his axe, but for all yer
pretty magicks, weve killed ye once and well be pleased to do so again!
HaerDalis added joyfully, Ahhh, this is a fine battle that shall ring throughout the
planes! Live or die, this has been a wondrous adventure! Now we face off with
Oblivion!
Viconia, her eyes flashing, said, The darkness has already taken you, foolish one,
yet you refuse to close your eyes! Let us help you onwards to your final rest! Lil alurl!
For Shar!
Power is on our side, sorcerer! said Edwin. You cannot hope to defeat us in this
final reckoning! Your end is near at hand, wail if you must!
Hmph. Some villains just refuse to die. Jan shook his head in mock sadness. Kill
them once, kill them twiceits like some bad play. Well, heres hoping for a decent
ending
Irenicus transformed to the slayer form of Bhaal, leading the attack. Tamarth
matched him, also transforming, attacking Irenicus and leaving the demons to the others.
Tamarth thought Irenicus acted the fool, here at the end. Having exhausted his own
magical resources, he had now attempted to harness those of the divine soul he had
stolen. But Tamarth had lived with that soul for years, and had wrested some measure of
control over its power.
Irenicus the slayer only thought to tear and rend, with almost a bestial intelligence, as
had happened when Tamarth first transformed. Tamarth, in control, was easily able to
predict the attacks of his opponent, then dodge aside and use his own claws to gouge his
overextended foe.
Again and again Tamarth struck Irenicus, receiving almost no blows in return.
Finally, the slayer form of Irenicus was so weakened that it slipped to one knee,
momentarily stunned. Tamarth delivered two quick blows of his claws. Irenicus
shuddered, then suddenly transformed back, becoming the former elf. Irenicus cried out,
Curse you, Tamarth! I shall not be defeated by you!

277
Shadows of Amn: The Evil Side

Tamarth hit Irenicus in the side with a claw, sending him flying through the air, to
fall full length on the ground. A white mist began to materialize above Irenicus, in the
form of the slayer. Tamarth felt the pull of it, the essence of his soul, freed from the
failing mage. Irenicus tried to prop himself up on one elbow, weakly crying, What is
happeningmy magic With a growl, Tamarth launched himself at his soul. He
contacted the mist, felt a rush of power, while Irenicus cried out, No! NO!

Ashes of Victory
Viconia slipped into the room that held Tamarths body. The surface elven clerics
had claimed that his spirit could not be found to reunite with his flesh. Viconia, however,
had more confidence in his half-divine essence; Tamarth would live again, of that she
was sure. She considered it better this way. Better that she take her leave now.
She brushed her lips against his cold ones, and whispered, Aluve ussta mzilst
ssinurn ultrinfarewell, my most handsome conqueror. Until we meet again. She left,
not looking back.
A few days later Tamarth lay in bed, considering his future. The other members of
the party were alive, although Viconia had left the city before he awoke. The queen,
Ellesime, had been in to see him, thanking him for saving the city, and explaining her
plans for a celebration honoring the party. She had also asked how well he was feeling.
Typical. Undoubtedly his murderous father made the elves feel uneasy, and they wished
him gone as quickly as possible now that he had done his job. It had also been a mistake
thinking of any of the members of the party as other than tools to further his ambition.
Tamarth thought of a phrase Viconia had used, Trust is for the foolishand the dead.
He would continue on his quest for power, so that he need not rely on anyone,
plumbing his divine inheritance, even at the risk of going too far and becoming a witless
tool of his father. He would harden his heart, not letting any soft emotions weaken him.
***
Robed, hooded, figures sat around a circular table, an all but forgotten symbol
embossed in metal on the tables top.
Gorions ward has become too powerful, said one. We should have acted long
before now.
There is no reason to be concerned, another disagreed. The fate of this fool has
been sealed.
But can we be so sure? whispered a third.
A new voice decisively spoke, ending the discussion.
This spawn of Bhaal is doomed. There is no escape.

278

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