The Swordlands

How Exciting!‏

Sitting in a room, with the only light coming from Sigurd’s spell, it has hard to see across the circle of chairs and tables. Falling silent, the group simply waited to see what would happen next.

There was the faintest whisper of movement on the far side of the room, and each member of the group suddenly became aware that a Drow woman was now sat across from them, at the edge of their light. She gave the tiniest acknowledgement of their presence, but apart from she was a study in indifference.

Continuing in silence, other Drow entered the room from the many entrances, taking their seats around the circle. Aengus attempted to strike up conversation with a younger woman sat near to him, but in response she merely arched an eyebrow and remarked “Aren’t you the spawn of Gastris?”

Not knowing how to answer this question, Aengus once more fell silent. Across the circle, one of the other hookahs was drawn upon, faintly illuminating the face of an elderly Drow woman as she sipped on a pipe. Looking back across the room, Thunder was surprised to see that he was now joined at his table by another armoured Drow. This one seemed older, his armour finer and more ornamental. Thunder could see that his face looked particularly cruel, even amongst the standards of Drow.

On the other side of the circle, nearer to Aengus and Karl, another older Drow woman was sat. Her face bore that same tightness they had seen amongst the acolytes and the Alchemist – marks that she had been Fleshwarped. Iben had to turn away from her to avoid shuddering at it, and as he did so he heard a faint squeaking noise, as if something metal was being wheeled in.

Looking around the circle in the near darkness it appeared that many figures had entered and taken seats, or reclined across chaise-longes’. Once all of these Drow had arrived and taken their places, all in the most eerie silence, a final figure entered.

Once all were in their places, waiting in the most eerie silence, a final figure entered through the door. Taller than the others, he moved with a sinuous grace. Although he wore several weapons upon his person, including a matched pair of crossbows of extremely high quality, and his armour had a fine baroque artifice to it, all of the companions noted that his hands ended in long talons. These looked to be far more dangerous weapons, as did his filed and pointed teeth that were exposed by his wide mouth.

“My friends!” he announced in a clear and pleasant voice that all the more jarring compared to the mouth that uttered it. “I am so pleased that you have all arrived, I thank the Stars Below. When word reached me that you were on your way, I must confess I was worried. Our city is not always, how can I say, accommodating to visitors and I am glad that you have made it to this meeting. Please, eat, drink.”

A number of Drow stepped forwards out of the shadows with trays, bottles and glasses, giving out food and drink to all assembled. Unlike the other Drow, who calmly took the offered items, none of the companions requested anything. Instead, Aengus introduced them – Sigurd of Concordance; Karl of the Instrumentality; the Herald, Iben of Kindraed; The Promise of Distant Thunder, Last of the Legion That Waits; and himself, Aengus. When he spoke his own name there was a small reaction amongst the assembled Drow.

Next to Thunder, the old warrior simply turned slightly and said “How exciting.” His voice was flat and without emotion.

From the far side of the circle came a voice, petulantly saying “But isn’t that a bit of an Eladrin name? We must get you a real name as soon as possible.”

Speaking again, the tall Drow said “And I must introduce us in turn. I am your Uncle, Aengus, and my name is Enteritus. Gathered here are your Great-Uncle, Encephylitus, commander of our Drow forces and swordsman beyond equal in this city; your Grandmother, Rubella; in the chair is your Great-Grandmother, the ever youthful and beautiful Ebola; next to her are your cousins, Distonia and Malaria; and finally your niece Roseola.”

Some of the other Drow shared Aengus’ lighter skin, marking them, like him, as half-Drow, half-Eladrin. Apparently Aengus was not as unique as he had thought. Following this thought, he asked the circle, seeking information. “I had no idea that interbreeding was so often done amongst Drow and Eladrin,” he said. “But I see no full Eladrin amongst you – where are they?”

“Foolish boy,” responded Great-Grandmother Ebola. “All Eladrin all slaves down here, you must know that.”

“It is no crime to mate with your Eladrin slaves,” continued Enteritis, “Why, we are a most liberal and accepting society, I think you will find.”

“Enteritus,” asked Roseola, sprawled in a chair to Aengus’ left. “Why exactly are we here?”

“You are all here,” announced Enteritus, spreading his hands wide and pointing at each member of the gathering in turn, “Because I have some wonderful news!” The twisted form of the fleshwarped Drow grow almost animated in excitement. “Why only this morning I discovered that I had been poisoned.”

“How exciting,” said the Drow General, sitting next to Thunder again, this time with a note of genuine enthusiasm in his cold voice.



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