Darksong- Warning, mature content.

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Aylstra Illianniis
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:56 am

Sighing in resignation, he turned around and made his way back to the worm burrow, crawling back through to continue on the trail once more. Some time later, he came to a crossroad of tunnels that wound off into the dark. One, he knew, led through a sea-cave that was really nothing more that a rocky ledge road beside a deep underground tidal pool; it was marked on his map as a dangerous route north toward the deeper tunnels leading to Terrillis, mainly because of the occasional attacks by the malicious fish-people known as sahuagin that sometimes occurred there.

Though most of his family's trade with the city was done by ship, some items were simply too valuable or fragile to risk transport at sea. Flasks of alchemist's fire or potions, in particular, were too dangerous to carry on the treacherous crossing between Tyrant's Isle and Storm Island. Sudden squalls often blew up during the trip, and a broken bottle of the highly flammable alchemist's fire could quickly burn a ship down to the water. Even if the weather was fair, hidden rocks and coral reefs could sink an unwary ship, thus losing valuable cargo.

The other road ran for three weeks' travel before it passed beneath a swamp on its way to the surface near the lair of a pair of black dragons. Lothir had heard that the wyrms occasionally lent their power to House E'Terrin'dar in exchange for gold, gems, or magical items. In fact, the pair made up one of the island's many formidable defenses, along with the reefs, high cliffs, and other natural barriers. He knew that there were other wyrms living on the island as well. A trio of greens lived in the central forest region, and there was a red who laired in the island's huge volcano. A large blue had even taken up residence amid the vast dunes and atolls of the northern beaches.

He took the third road, the one that led deeper into the maze of caverns, tunnels, and warrens of the Underdark. It was several hours later when he finally stopped to relieve himself and get his bearings in a small cavern that held a narrow but deep river running through it, along with a grove of tall, pale yellow mushrooms that glowed softly, illuminating the many strange formations on the walls and ceiling. The cavern appeared to be a natural oasis in the endless labyrinth of the wilds, a haven of sorts in the dark and often unpredictable realms below the earth.

The entire cavern was filled with a heavy mist, and warmed by natural vents into a nearby steam pocket. Tired from his long trek, and already perspiring from the hot, steamy air, he set down his pack by the water's edge, tested it carefully to determine whether it was safe to drink, and if it was too hot to bathe in. Lothir smiled happily to himself when he found it both safe and invitingly warm. He decided that he would take advantage of the chance to rest and remove the dirt and sweat from his journey, so he tugged off his boots, belt, and clothes, eager for a dip into the warm river. He slipped into the water, and found it came up almost to his chest even at the edge. He began to wash off the dust of his trip, only vaguely noticing the small shapes just barely visible in the deeper water.
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
http://mickeys-tavern.com/index.php?showforum=188

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Aylstra Illianniis
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:21 am

It was only when he ducked his head under the water and came up with a small splash that he felt the first bump, and realized that something was wrong. Then came another, and several more. The first bites had been almost painless, and he almost passed it off as fishy curiosity, until he felt a rather savage attack on his left buttock. Suddenly alarmed, he let out a panicked yelp and quickly scrambled back for the river's edge, even as the attacks became more vicious and numerous. In seconds, the water had begun to churn from the frenzy of voracious predators seeking his flesh.

Only the closeness of the bank saved him from being completely devoured. By the time he was able to haul himself out of the water, his entire lower half was covered with coin-sized bites that had left deep holes in his legs and torso, each perfectly sliced out as if by razor-sharp blades. One of the bites had nearly made a eunuch of him, and had left his shaft hanging half off. He scrambled frantically away from the water's edge, dripping puddles of red-stained water, and even found to his horror that one of the finned culprits was still clinging to his right thigh. It fell off as he slid to his knees on the blood-slicked stone floor, flopping helplessly, its toothy jaws gulping.

Lothir was only dimly aware of the fish flopping about beside him; he was in far too much pain to care, blood gushing from his half-severed member and more than three dozen other places. Already half in shock, he curled up in agony, one hand holding his nethers in a vain attempt to stop the bleeding, as he whimpered and shook, tiny lights dancing in his vision. He groped in his pack with the other hand, desperately searching for the potion bottle.

He finally found it, and uncorked it with trembling hands, pain and blood-loss nearly blinding him. He felt dizzy, and vaguely heard the splashing of the fish in the river below, still caught up in the feeding frenzy. Without any other prey, they had begun to turn on each other, and now the water billowed crimson as it flowed through the cavern, not only from the rivulets streaming over the bank, but from those unlucky ones who were torn apart by their fellows.

He downed the entire bottle in one swift gulp, even as the lights behind his eyes grew and spread to encompass everything. A few seconds later, he teetered on his knees, his eyes rolling back as the pain and shock finally overcame him. The healing drought began to do its work, but he was already to far gone to notice. He slumped onto his side, still clutching the empty bottle in one limp hand, and passed out.
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
http://mickeys-tavern.com/index.php?showforum=188

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Aylstra Illianniis
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:25 am

He woke to the sound of water rushing nearby, sweat trickling down his neck and chest, and the feel of hard stone beneath his bare skin. Blue eyes opened slowly to find himself staring at the cavern floor, naked as a new babe, with his face lying in a puddle of half-dried blood. The drowling sat up, brows furrowed in confusion as his still-foggy mind tried to make sense of the unfamiliar surroundings.

His hand bumped the empty potion bottle, sending it rolling into the now very still corpse of the stranded fish. The sight of bottle and finned fiend jogged his memory; he looked down at himself, fearful of what he might find- or, rather, what he might not find. Yet all was as it should be, save perhaps for the fact that he was a crimson-covered mess. Though it had taken every last drop, the potion had done its work well, healing his wounds completely. Lothir breathed a sigh of relief, and wrinkled his small, sharp nose in disgust. Prudence dictated that he clean off the sticky gore from his body, lest the scent should attract every large predator for miles- yet he did not dare try to bathe in the river again.

He looked around, wondering how he could wash himself without getting into the river. A few feet further downstream, he spotted a small ledge just below the water, with a wide, shallow depression that appeared safe. It was high enough on the riverbank that the bloodthirsty creatures could not reach it, for the water there was only two inches deep. He picked up the bottle, and dug through his pack for the small cloth he kept for wiping his face and hands before returning home from his clandestine explorations. At last, cloth and bottle in hand, he cautiously stepped onto the underwater ledge, keeping a wary eyes open for any more of his scaled attackers.

He dipped the cloth and bottle into the water, then began using the former to scrub away the blood from his skin, while he used the other to pour more over himself to remove the sticky mats of scarlet from his short, snowy locks. It took several bottles-full, but eventually he managed to get it all out. Several times he was forced to stop and kick away one of the ravenous fish that flopped up onto the ledge seeking the drow's submerged toes; after the fifth one, he changed his tactics, and began spearing them on the end of one of his sabers which had been discarded nearby.

By the time he was finished, he had caught over twenty of the little demons. he grinned savagely each time he skewered one, enjoying taking his revenge on the finned terrors. Only when he had retrieved his clothes and was fully dressed did he finally sit down to begin the somewhat messy task of skinning and boning them. He had noticed a number of poisonous centipedes rooting through the cracks in the stone and earth at the bases of the giant fungi earlier, and thought that tricking his quarry into eating poisoned fish might help him to defeat it.

When he had cleaned his catch, he took the last one- the one that had been stranded- and examined it closely. It was no bigger than his hand, flat and oval-shaped, with tiny silvery scales and small spines on the fin down its back. It might almost be pretty if not for the over-sized jaws with their row of razor-sharp teeth. They fit together likethe blades of a serrated pair of scissors. He opened and closed the mouth several times, in morbid fascination of the tiny killer's efficiency.

Curious, he touched them, and promptly pulled back his finger when he felt the sharp pricks of the thing's teeth. The young drow called up a pale mage light, and set it down into the crystal-clear water; he skewered the dead pyrimo- for such it was- on his sword, then dipped it out into the river. He was amazed and horrified to see the rest of them devour it in seconds. A few even tried in vain to attack his small glowing globe. When it was nothing but a few bones, he shook it off the blade, where it fell down to join hundreds of other bones at the bottom of the riverbed, where it ran slowest and deepest.

Most where an unidentifiable jumble, but he thought he recognized a few of them. He saw a bony hand and foot, which were distinctly elven in size and shape, along with a skull and a few gleaming pieces of metal which were all that remained of a long-dead drow's clothing and gear. Another tumble of clean-picked bones was the tail, feet, and skull of a riding lizard, the buckles and plates of its armor and tack still lying amid the pebbles of the river. He saw several grinning skulls of goblins, kobolds, and even a few deurgar. Lothir guessed that most of them had come to the water to drink or swim, and suffered the same gruesome fate which had almost been his.

The lizard and its rider had no doubt waded in to drink; with a flash of inspiration, he hooked the end of his saber onto the leg bones of the lizard, and used them to rake through the debris for anything useful. He managed to dredge up two daggers, a crossbow with a broken string, and a quiver of bolts, as well as a flask of alchemist's fire and two small bottles. One of them was a healing draught; the other contained a few doses of the infamous sleeping poison that drow were known for using. There was even a small bag of coins and gems.
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
http://mickeys-tavern.com/index.php?showforum=188

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Aylstra Illianniis
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:30 am

With a triumphant grin, he pulled up his prizes, and set to work using some spare cord from his bag to restring the crossbow. He was not especially skilled in its use, but felt that any advantage he could gain might tip the odds in his favor. Afterwards, he dug through the stones and dirt beneath the giant glowing mushrooms for a few centipedes, killing them by carefully cutting off the heads with his silver dagger. He placed them in one of the packets for spell components in his pouch, heads and all.

When all was as ready as could be, the boy tucked the daggers in his boots, wrapped all but one of the pieces of raw fish in a bit of leather he kept for mending his boots and trousers, and then tucked the wrapped fish in with his rations. He slung the crossbow and quiver across his back along with his pack before filling the empty bottle with water. The last piece of fish he kept out, and ate as he continued on his way through the cavern along the river's edge. Though he usually preferred his food cooked, it was not unusual for dark elves to eat their meals raw, especially when traveling. Fire of any kind was difficult to come by in the Underdark, and often attracted attention from wandering monsters. So he savored the suculent morsel happily, in spite of the grim prospect ahead, and the narrow brush with death he had so recently experienced.

Several hours had passed before Lothir found himself in familiar territory. By then he was tired and hungry again. He found a relatively small chamber with a single huge stalactite tapering down from the ceiling like a giant fang to hang just inches above the floor, with water running down its length to drip in a small pool below, and settled down to rest. He knew the cavern as a landmark, called Venom Fang Rock for its resemblance to a dripping serpent's tooth.

He knew that the cavern meant he was getting close to the chamber with the huge chasm, which the map had called Dead Men's Gap. As far as he knew, no one had ever explored the bottom, for it was nearly thirty feet across, and several hundred feet deep. The only way to cross was the narrow stone bridge, which was barely wide enough for a single lizard-drawn wagon to pass over.

The dark elven lad pulled off his pack and the new weapon, unrolled his simple blanket, then ate a few small strips of jerky and one of his boiled eggs. Then he settled down to sleep between the cavern wall and a large drapery formation. His swords he kept on, for though this region was still relatively safe, he was now truly beyond the boundary of his family's territory, and had been for hours. At last fatigue and the strain of his ordeal at the river overcame him, and the young drow slept.


He did not know how long he slept, but he woke with the vague sense of much time having passed. In truth, he had been away from home for only a little more than two days, much of it spent backtracking from his crystal cave or unconscious after his encounter with the hungry pyrimo. He broke his simple camp quickly, relieving himself behind a large stone in one corner of the chamber; then he ate the last of his eggs while he walked the last few miles to the rift cavern.

When he was only a few hundred paces from his destination, he paused to secure his gear so that it would not give away his presence by clinking, and knocked a freshly drugged bolt on the crossbow, drew his blades, and activated his invisibility ring. He began to creep silently along the edge of the tunnel, sticking close to the wall. He slipped into the vast chamber, careful not to crunch any stones underfoot. He was afraid at first that the wyrm was not there; the cavern appeared empty at first glance.

Then he heard a soft sound, like the bellows the smiths used at the forge in the tower for the mages and craftsmen at home. It came from the farthest corner of the cavern, from a small raised spot on the floor behind a trio of huge spires that looked like teeth in a huge mouth- two below and one above- that spiraled strangely, twisted and pale. He let out his breath, suddenly aware that he had been holding it, as he saw the great beast- sleeping, of all things- on the smooth stone like a Matron on her couch. The walls behind it were rippled from floor to ceiling like long waves across them, and dozens of tiny stone spikes hung from the ceiling all around.

He almost shouted in triumph at the sight, but stopped himself, clamping the back of one had over his mouth. This was perfect. He could sneak up and slay it before it had a chance to attack him. He concentrated for a moment, eyes closed, and levitated up to the ceiling, inching his way along pulling himself by hand until he was directly over its back.

The drow looked down on his sleeping foe, and shifted his grip on the sabers to point down at the dragon’s long neck. One quick stab with the blades from above, and it would be over before it began. He could kill his enemy from ambush, while it was unaware. It was the drow way, after all. Tretchery and cold-blooded murder were the stock and trade of his People.

Yet he paused; something held him back, made him stare down at his obliviously sleeping prey, with a cold, hollow feeling in his gut. His palms were sweating in anticipation. He felt an itch on his right one, and was reminded of his oath. And in that instant, he knew.

He could not slaughter the wyrm while it slept. Such a merciless act might be Morganna’s way, or his mother’s- or even his father’s, he had to concede, though did not truly know- but it was not his. It could not be his, if he wished to remain true to his promise to the kind and gentle goddess with the soft, sweet voice. And if he did, what would Ravyn think of him then? Would she look at him with that same sorrowful, hurt face, the one she always had when she looked at Morganna? There was no honor in that.

So he let the blades hang in hands gone limp, and sighed softly. He reached up and broke off one of the small spikes from the ceiling, dropping it onto the floor just in front of the dragon’s huge, majestic head. There was a snort, and it opened its large emerald eyes, lifting its head slightly to look around. The head alone was longer than he was tall- over four and a half feet- and had long slender horns on the sides that formed a sort of frill. Two longer ones swept back in a graceful arc from the top, just in front of the long, high crest that ran all the way down its back and tail.
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
http://mickeys-tavern.com/index.php?showforum=188

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Aylstra Illianniis
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:37 am

The young silver started to lower its head; Lothir snapped off another spike and tossed it onto the dragon's back. Sliver wings fluttered as its serpentine neck craned about, seeking the source of the disturbance. Even curled catlike as it was, he could see that it was easily thirty feet long- bigger than it had appeared in the cage- with a wing-span more than twenty-six feet. The young wyrm sniffed about; it eyed the ceiling warily, as though it knew something was amiss in the cavern. For one brief, heart-stopping moment, he was afraid that it had seen him, even though he knew that was impossible without darkvision, and there were phosphorescent rocks in the vast chamber which made using such sight impossible.

Then something happened which caused him to reconsider the entire hunt. It spoke. At least, he thought it did. The sounds that came from its throat surely were words, though not in any language he knew. Sibilant sylables combined with harsher ones and growling tones in what he could only assume was the great beast's own tongue. The dragon's voice was distinctly male, and surprisingly light and pleasant, a warm baritone which was hardly as deep as he might expect from such a large creature.

<<Come out, whatever you are. I know there is someone here. I can smell you.>> Lothir did not understand the words, but he could grasp the meaning from the dragon's tone. He knew a challenge when he heard one.

The silver rose, and began to pace the cavern warily, though never straying far from the spot where it had lain. The drow slowly slipped the crossbow from his back, took aim, and fired.

He missed. The dragon heard the twang of the string's release, and its head snapped up to turn toward the sound. The bolt, which had been aimed at its eye, passed harmlessly under its snout and hit a spire beyond before it clattered to the cavern floor. Unfortunately for the drow, not only was his shot ruined, but the botched attack left him visible. Suddenly vulnerable, he blanched as it looked straight up at him, glaring balefully with reptilian green eyes, and roared its anger at seeing a dark elf hanging in mid-air above it.

He saw the swift, deep inhalation; his eyes went wide, realizing the wyrm was about to loose its most devastating attack. In one breath, it would turn him into a drowcicle, and he was high above the ground with nowhere to go.

Nowhere but down, that was. He let his levitation drop just a heart-beat before the blast of ice and freezing air would have hit him, and fell, tumbling gracelessly to the cavern floor with a thud. He wasted no time on dealing with the pain that blossomed in his right arm- sprained or broken, he didn't know which and could not take the time to check- for the wyrm was already barreling toward him with the promise of death in its gaze. Undaunted, the drowling snapped his blades up to defend against the swipe of huge talons that threatened to gut him. This was what he had come for- a battle to the death against a powerful foe.

The impact jarred his arm, causing him to cry out, and nearly tore the sabers from his grip. Fortunately, he had learned from his sparring practice with Nalvir how to roll with a blow to lessen its power. Those lessons were proving to be his salvation now. He tumbled aside, only to see the huge gleaming head snap at him. He ducked under it, and it was so close he could feel its cool breath on the back of his neck. This close, he noted absently that the dragon smelled like the rain he had seen on his first night on the surface. He slashed up at its jaw, the swords biting deep, but doing little real damage other than to cause the wyrm to bite into its own tongue.

It let out a roar of outrage that echoed through the cavern and beyond. The little drow winced at the sound; if it had not been angry before, it surely was now. He dodged another swipe of massive claws, leaping back to try to gain enough distance to cast a spell. Not that doing so would do him any good- none of the half-dozen or so spells he knew could hurt the beast.

<<That was your third mistake, dark elf,>> the dragon snarled, though he was fairly certain the tiny drow male could not understand him. <<The first was coming here at all. The second was thinking a simple arrow would slay me! You will pay for what your kind have done to me!>>

He lunged at the small drow again, tail lashing angrily. The elf was little more than a child, but he was quick. Foolish, perhaps, but swift of blade and foot, for all of that. Only his youth and size prevented him from being more of a threat. The young silver admired the little dark elf's courage in facing him alone, if not his wisdom. He did not know what had possessed the drow to attack him- or why the child had bothered to wake him first, when drow were known for treachery and slaying helpless foes- but the intent was clear.

Sivestrik rather suspected the reason for the attack had something to do with why he had been captured in the first place. One of the others who had been present when he was taken and his draca slain- a tall male with a whip and eyes like those of the dark-elven boy he now faced- had spoken in fluent auld elvish, sneeringly informing him that he was intended as prey for a hunt. He could only assume the drow had meant this youth. He had seen this same boy only a few days ago, while he had still been muzzled and caged, apparently protesting the older male's choice of prey.

Yet that did not seem to deter him now. The youth fought with fierce, grim determination, as if he had nothing to lose. The two moved in a deadly contest of speed and agility, each seeking some weakness in the other. The wyrm grew frustrated, growling, and reared back to take another deep breath, as the drow nimbly dodged yet another snap of his fangs.

Lothir had hoped the silver would refrain from using his deadly breath again. He heard the sharp intake of air that signaled another frigid blast, and glanced around for shelter, suddenly wishing he had chosen a shield after all instead of the second blade. He found none. He had moved too far into the open, with only the yawning chasm's deep emptiness behind him.

With nowhere else to go, he did the only sensible think he could think of. He leaped into the rift, trusting in his levitation power to save him. The freezing breath passed harmlessly overhead, for the most part. He felt a cold prickle at his back and his ears, and floated to a stop some twenty feet down. He brushed his hand over the back of his head, and heard a tiny clinking sound as frozen shards of what had been his hair broke off and fell glittering down into the abyss. He grimaced, angry for the first time during the fight. Like all elves, he took pride in his appearance- especially his soft, feathery locks. The dragon's attack had just made this personal.

"That was my HAIR, you overgrown lizard!" he shouted, glaring up at the silvery head that even now poked over the side. He was about to knock another bolt when his foe did something incredible. Its claws dug into the stone of the gorge's wall, and, flapping its wings slowly for balance, it began to climb down after him!

"But-" he sputtered, unbelieving. "It can climb?!" He simply gaped for a moment at the odd sight of the dragon clinging head down on the side of the rift, the crossbow's string only half drawn.

At last, realizing that no place was truly safe, the boy shot back up to the ceiling. He quickly hand-walked his way back toward the other side of the cavern, across the chasm, hoping to put some distance between them. The lull in the battle as the wyrm climbed back up and paced along the rift toward the stone bridge gave him time to knock his bolt and fire. The quarrel tore a small hole in the dragon's left wing, but barely pierced its thick, scaly hide. The wyrm let out another echoing roar that jarred several small spikes loose from the ceiling.

In disgust, the drow tossed aside the obviously useless crossbow. He saw the wyrm reach the bridge, and realized that he had pinned himself on the side of the cavern with no cover save the upper ledge exit. Worse, he had nearly exhausted his power to levitate. Frantic, he wracked his brain for some means of victory. What would a dragon fear?
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
http://mickeys-tavern.com/index.php?showforum=188

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Aylstra Illianniis
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:41 am

The answer came in a flash of inspiration. Sliver dragons, like their evil white cousins, were creatures immune to cold and ice, but were highly vulnerable to fire. He had no fire, save for the small flask of alchemist's fire, but he could trick the wyrm into thinking that he did.

He closed his eyes for a moment, and sheathed his blades in fairie-fire. Yet this was not his usual silvey-blue light; he had made it a bright orange-red, to resemble real flames. Thus armed, he rushed toward the dragon on the bridge with a savage yell, hoping to unnerve it. For good measure, he willed a sphere of pure darkness into being at the other end of the bridge, behind the approaching wyrm.

Sivestrik saw the flames leap up to engulf the drow's swords, and the youth charge at him, and reared back in alarm. He turned to find an area of pitch blackness spring up behind him. Surely this child did not think to force him back into some spell? Slit-pupiled eyes narrowed, and he rushed to meet the dark elf with a charge of his own.

Lothir saw the dragon rushing at him, and braced for the clash that was sure to follow. Then the wyrm did something completely unexpected. Instead of trying to bite or claw at him, it simply leaped over his head with wings outstretched, and landed on its feet behind him, more lightly than he would have expected from such a massive creature. Yet for all its size, the silver was built like a hunting cat, lean, lithe, and agile- and powerfully muscled, to boot. It whirled swiftly to face him.

He had not been prepared for such a move. Now he was caught on the bridge himself, between the dragon and the gorge. Either it was not fooled by the illusory fire, or it was simply too enraged to care. He swallowed, a sinking feeling beginning to creep into gut. He slowly retreated back toward his own sphere of darkness as it lunged at him again. His blades turned aside several swipes of claw and fang, only to be swatted aside in turn.

Now mentally exhausted from the effort of using all his abilities, the drow droppedthe useless flames from his blades. All he had left was a few simple spells, and at the moment, none of them seemed especially useful. He backed into the black globe, hoping to lure it in for one last ploy. Once inside, he he used his ring, going invisible again. He slipped out the back of the globe, even as the wyrm thrust its head into the twenty-foot sphere and exhaled once again.

Lothir dived toward a large stalagmite, anticipating another icy blast. Yet all he saw billowing from the darkness was a thin cloud of fog that smelled faintly sweet. The scent was familiar, too. Confused, he sniffed the air, wondering what it could be. The fog filled the globe, and even drifted beyond; still sniffing, he suddenly identified the scent. It was cloying, and oddly similar to the scent of the sleeping poison his own kin were so fond of.

Already his eyes had begun to flutter closed. He had unwittingly become victim to the dragon's most insidious attack, a cloud of sleep-inducing gas. Had he been anything other than an elf, the effect would have been far stronger, but elves were highly resistant to such effects. He suddenly snapped alert again; a moment later, the dragon leaped right through the globe as if it meant to squash him flat. He held his breath, and dashed out to slash at his foe from its flank, turning visible again as he did.

Sivestrik roared his outrage at he stinging hit to his side, and reached around to bite at the quick-footed drowling. He was mildly impressed by the child's cleverness and sheer tenacity. Had the youth been older and stronger, he might have been a more dangerous enemy. He wondered why the boy's kin had sent him out to slay him, yet it was not entirely surprising. if the dark elven lad was anything to judge by, it was no wonder that it had taken only a handful of drow warriors and one wizard to kill his draca and put him in chains.

<<I admire your cunning and determination, small one, but I tire of this. it ends NOW!>> he growled, losing patience. It would truly be a shame to end the life of so brave and worthy a foe- and a child, no less- but he could see no other recourse. He had known from the moment of his capture that it would come to this, yet still he regretted the necessity. Still, the boy was drow, and thus, an enemy.

He turned, buffeting the dark elf with his wings, only to receive a cut to his right foreleg. more annoyed than hurt, he ignored it and reared back with a swift reprisal with claw and fang.

Lothir heard the silver's angry shout and growl,and tensed. He somehow sensed that his time- and luck- was running out. Pain lanced anew through his arm with every block and strike, but he grimaced and fought on with gritted teeth, knowing his next mistake might well be his last. He blocked the first taloned foot, ducked under the second, and dodged the creature's gaping maw, though he was tiring fast, and each swing came wih more effort.

Unfortunately, he had forgotten the wyrm's massive tail. As he darted aside from the huge jaws, he did not see the long appendage swinging at him. It connected solidly with his middle, sending the young drow flying backward ten feet to land sprawling on his back, with his head cracking against a fragile limestone pillar. It shattered from the impact, raining down chunks of stone on him. He sputtered and heaved as he tried to catch his breath; then he looked up at the claws of defeat.

A huge, heavy talon came down onto his torso, pinning him with ease. He felt the prick of its claws in his sides, but that was nothing to the pain he knew in his heart. The battle was over, and he had lost. The young drow felt a cold, leaden feeling in his chest; a small whimper escaped his throat, and he let the sabers fall from limp hands. This was it, then. If he did not die now, his life would surely be over when he returned home.

Failure. the word rang in his mind like a scream, and he let out a soft, sorrowful sob. More followed; soone he was crying freely, trembling in fear and a deep sense of having lost something important, of being useless- worthless. He had let down his family, himself, even Ravyn. the last pain cut the deepest. He wondered if she would still care for him as a drider. He flet a shiver of revulsion at the prospect of spending the rest of his life as a horrid half-arachnid abomination. Alone, forgotten, hidden away in some deep, dark pit, despised and distained as a disgrace.
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:05 am

Sivestrik looked down at the dark elven youth, and was surprised when he began to cry. His scaled brows furrowed in confusion; he had expected pleading, or perhaps screams or even shouts of defiance, but not this sorrowful weeping. He hated killing a child- for such he obviously was- especially one who had fought bravely and with honor. He almost pitied the boy, who had clearly been sent out to his death.

The child seemed to understand this, too, for he had even dropped his swords in surrender, obviously resigned to his fate. The dark elven lad looked up at him, swallowed back his tears, and lifted his chin, closing his innocent-lookng blue eyes tightly. The young wyrm saw his enemy's bared throat, waiting almost calmly for death, and faltered, for a reason he could not quite fathom.

Lothir sensed the dragon's hesitation. He opened his eyes, wondering why it did not strike now that he was at its mercy. He hoped that his end would at least be swift and painless. One quick bite, he thought, and it could all be over. No more fear.

He looked up at the huge silver head gleaming in the soft light, angry at himself now for failing so completely. For all his plans and determination, he had done very little to actually wound his foe.

"What are you waiting for? Do it!" he shouted up, almost wishing it would end.

The dragon did not understand what the drow had said, but he somehow suspected that the boy wanted him to finish it. He snorted in surprise; did the dark elf want to die, then? He considered for a moment, then lifted the youth up in his talons. He spoke again, this time in auld elvish.

"Do you seek death, little one? If so, then you have found it. I have a score to settle with your trecherous kind!" He bellowed down, baring his fangs at the suddenly frightened drow, who blanched and cringed, holding his arms up before him in a feeble defense.
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:13 am

Lothir glanced up, surprised at the dragon's words. He had learned the speech of his elven ancestors from Ravyn, though his grasp of it was not perfect. "I- Please, just kill me," he said softly in the ancient tongue. "My life is over now, anyway."

The wyrm paused, wondering if he had heard correctly. "You are a stange one, little elf. Why do you wish to die?"

The drow lowered his gaze sadly; he thought of Ravyn again, wondering if he would ever even see her again. "I failed. I am unworthy. Better to die here than to live as a monster. If I return home now, after losing to my enemy, my mother will turn me into a- a drider. I do not want to live like that."

Sivestrik sat back on his haunches, contemplating he boy's words. He had heard of such creatures once, but had never believed the tales true. Would the child's own kin truly do something so cruel? No wonder he had chosen death, then.

"Is that why you came here? This was a test of some kind? Barbaric!" He snorted in disgust, beginning to understand now why the drowling had seemed to object to his "prey". Even he had realized the impossible task set before him.

"Forgive me," the dark elf replied quietly. "I did not wish to fight you, but I had no choice. The Blooding is tradition- it is the way of my People. I could not refuse."

"If you did not desire to fight, why did you not slay me while I slept?" The silver asked curiously. This little drow was strange, indeed!

"There was no honor in that," the boy said. He had begun to question whether the dragon meant to kill him after all. "I couldn't slay a helpless creature. It would not be right." He felt angry that his family had forced him into this situation. Though death was certainly preferable to the alternative, neither did he wish to be eaten. Why should he be forced to kill a being toward whom he had no ill will, simply to prove his worth?

Sivestrik snorted again, laughing in disbelief. "Ha! Since when do dhaeraow know anything of honor?" he retorted. "It was your kin who slew my draca and imprisoned me and my two nest-mates!"

Lothir felt a twinge of resentment at being called a traitor by the wyrm, but let the insult pass. "Draca?" the youth said, unfamiliar with the word. Then he realized what it meant, and his eyes went wide. "They killed your mother? I'm sorry. I didn't know." Now he truly felt remorse for attacking the young wyrm. He knew, also, why the silver had been so angry and determined to kill him. He did not blame it for wanting vengeance.

"Never have I heard of a dark elf who felt sympathy for his enemies. If such a fate awaits you, why go back at all?" Sivetrik set the boy down on his feet; he had begun to believe the young drow had a sense of honor and decency, as incredible as that seemed.

Lothir was surprised when the dragon released him, and for one brief second considered picking his sabers up to begin the battle anew. He discarded the notion just as quickly. He had already surrendered; whatever happened now, it was out of his hands.

He mentally said a quick prayer to the Maiden, fervently wishing for a way out of his predicament. "Where would I go?" he asked, spreading out his hands. "I can't stay out here- I would not survie long."

The dragon let out a rumble of laughter. "Somehow I doubt that, little one. You fight better than many grown men who have been born to the arts of war! Woe to the beast that crosses your blades!"

The drow almost blushed at the compliment. "But how would I live? If I stayed out here, sooner or later either they would find me, or some wandering monster would, and there is little food in the deeper caverns. There is no safe place to live in the Underdark." He protested. He knew he could live on fish and mushrooms- at least for a while- but where would he find a safe haven?

"Besides," he said softly, remembering his other reason for being there. "There is someone who needs me. I made a promise to her, and I intend to keep it."

"And who is this that you have promised my head to?" the dragon asked acidly.

"My friend Ravyn," he answered.

"Ravyn? A bird?" asked Sivestrik, confused.

"Not a bird," Lothir replied, annoyed. "An elf woman. A slave in our House. I promised to free her when I am strong enough to keep her safe. She is he only one who has ever truly cared for me. I HAVE to do this- for her!" His expression turned to steely resolve, and he looked up at the dragon as if to challenge him once more.

"You still persist in this mad challenge? How will you keep your promise when you are dead?" The silver rose up, spreading his wings, and hissed angrily to intimidate the young drow. He was surprised when the boy stood his ground.

The drow looked up dejectedly and almost spat out his reply. "What choice do I have? No matter what I do, I cannot win! But I-" He paused and sank to his knees, knowing it was no use. "I have to try. She's counting on me. I can't save her if I become a monster, either. And then she would be afraid of me, too." He stared down at his weapons on the cavern floor; they lay in easy reach, as though mocking him, but he knew it was useless to continue he battle.
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:20 am

Sivestrik felt pity for the young elf, forced by his own kin to do something which was clearly beyond his abilities. Then he began to wonder- what if there was another way? He pondered for a moment. The tall male had called this a hunt, and he knew that small folk often took parts of their kills home as trophies.

"What if you could make them believe you had won? Claim that you had slain your prey, without having to fight?" He lowered his head down closer to the small elven boy, giving him a sly look.

Lothir blinked in surprise. "You mean- lie?" he asked incredulously. This was not a possibility he had considered.

The dragon let out a deep rumbling laugh. "Why not? It is one of the things your kind do best, or so I've heard."

Lothir let the jibe pass, and cocked his head in thought. He felt a glimmer of hope; would such a ruse even work? But then he remembered what his father had told him. He would have to show proof of the kill. Nothing less would suffice.

"It won't do any good," he answered softly. "I have to take back something to show them that I destroyed my enemy."

The wyrm considered for a moment, and rolled his eyes. "What did you intend to do- drag my carcass back with you? Or just my head?" he asked with a trace of sarcasm.

The drow tossed him a sour look. "Of course not. A tooth or a claw would suffice. I don't suppose you would just give me one?" he asked hopefully.

Sivestrik made a deep huffing noise, a wisp of frosty air drifting from his nostrils. "And you think I would just oblige you after you have attacked me? Why should I?"

The drowling became annoyed- the silver was just antagonizing him now, he was sure. "I'm SORRY! But what ELSE could I do?! My LIFE was at stake!" Now he almost wished he had slain the wyrm while he slept- it certainly beat arguing with him. "Besides, even if I didn't, someone else will, sooner or later. You don't think they would let you live if you killed me, do you?"

The dragon just grinned toothily at him. "They would have to FIND me first!" he said with a chuckle.

"No offense, but you ARE pretty big- and you do stick out with those shiny scales." The drow gave him a skeptical once-over.

"Ha! Who says I would even use my true shape? Do you know NOTHING of my kind?" The silver nearly shouted, causing the youth to step back nervously.

Lothir thought hard, brow furrowed, and suddenly brightened. "Oh! You can shapeshift! I almost forgot." He cocked his head and grinned. "I don't suppose you could turn into something a little smaller? My neck's getting stiff from looking up at you."

The dragon's massive shoulders shrugged, his wings flexing briefly. "Perhaps this might be more appropriate? But I warn you- one move with those blades, and I will simply change back and stomp on you, elf!"

With that, he began to shrink down, his form shifting as he did. The wings and tail shrank and disappeared; his neck and head shortened, and his torso changed shape to become slender, shorter, and upright. Even the huge talons withdrew into what were fast becoming small, slender hands and feet. At last what stood before the boy was no longer a dragon, but a fair-skinned elven youth, with short silvery gray hair, and eyes the same shade. He was dressed simply in a gray tunic and dun-colored leggings, with a pair of tan boots.
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:24 am

Lothir gaped slack-jawed at the transformed dragon; in this form, he appeared no older than the drow himself. They stared each other in the eyes for several seconds, before the young dark elf slowly knelt down to pick up his sabers, his eyes never leaving the dragon- now an elf.

The silver stepped closer menacingly, with a warning glare. The drow backed away slowly, blades in hand, holding them out before him, point down. He slid one back into its scabbard on his back, and flipped the other over to hold it hilt-first toward the shape-shanged wyrm.

"I am at your mercy," he said, bowing low, his head down. He handed the sword to the young silver, waiting to see what he would do.

"What am I supposed to do with this? I don't know how to use a sword- besides, I have my own weapons." Sivestrik asked, puzzled. He started to hand it back.

The drow boy gave him an almost condescending look, rolling his eyes. "It is a custom of my People that if an enemy gives you his weapon, it is a sign of truce. It means that he wishes peace. Would you be so rude as to refuse the gesture?" he asked.

Sivestrik considered that for a moment, and finally tucked the blade into his belt. "Seems like a good way to get killed," he said candidly. "What if the enemy just decides to use it on you?"

"That is why it is a sign of peace. It means that one wishes to end a fued without bloodshed. To put such an advantage in an enemy's hand willingly means that you trust him not to take it. It is dishonorable to break the truce." The youth answered simply.

Sivestrik eyed him closely, wondering why he had made the peace offering. "I thought drow did not HAVE honor," he replied. "A strange custom for people who would not think twice about slaughtering helpless innocents. How often is it broken?"

"All the time," Lothir said with a shrug. "I never said it wasn't- just that it's considered unworthy. Most accept the offer, at least until they see an opportunity to turn it to their advantage. Then they turn on the one who offered it, usually when he thinks he is safe."

"I- see. Why did you tell me this, and why give me a weapon when you know I could just as easily kill you with a swipe of my claws? Seems a great deal of power to put in one's enemy's hands." He studied the young drow, noting the resemblance to the tall one from before. Clearly the other was this one's sire, or at least a close relative. He saw the same eyes, the same narrow yet aristocratic features, even the same lean frame- though the boy still had far to grow.

Yet the similarities ended there. While the tall male had had a thin slash of a mouth set in a seemingly perpetual sneer, this one looked as if his natural inclination was toward innocent smiles. His eyes were not the hard, cold blue of ice as were the other's, but softer, brighter, like a winter sky. There was an intelligent, inquisitive light there, that seemed completely at odds with the dark hate and bloodlust he had seen in all the others. <What makes this one so different?> he wondered. It was more than a matter of youth, of that he was certain.

"I- I don't want to fight." Lothir did not truly understand himself why he had done it. Perhaps he was counting on the wyrm's benevolant nature, though he knew it had every reason to hate his kind. "I thought, maybe, we could help each other?" He looked at the silver-haired elf hopefully.

"Help each other? How?" Sivestrik crossed his arms over his chest, frowning. What was this all about?

The dark elf cocked his head. "I have to take back something to show them I'm worthy, and you- well, you need to escape, right? To get away from here so no one will find you?"

"And I suppose you know how?" He gave the drow a skeptical look. "Surely you don't expect me to believe you can show me a place to hide?"

Lothir suddnly grinned, nodding emphatically. "I can do better than that- I can take you to the surface!"
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Sun Apr 18, 2010 4:37 am

"And you expect me to believe this, drow?" Sivestrik asked cynically, arms folded over his chest. He gave the dark elf a skeptical stare, his mistrust clearly evident.

"Well, yes- unless you prefer to take your chances with the next hunter that comes along." The ebon-skinned youth shot back, eyeing him coolly. Now that he felt the danger was past, he had grown somewhat cocky in his attitude, or so it seemd to the dragon.

"How do I know this is not some trick?" he said slowly, still not quite willing to believe it could be so simple.

Lothir cocked his head slightly, and shrugged. "You'll just have to trust me, I suppose." He turned away, looking up at the high ledge above, where the huge rock sat hiding the entrance to his own secret tunnels. "It's up there. You can look, if you don't believe me." He pointed to the ledge, and glanced back at the silver-haired elven lad.

"Why didn't you mention it before?" the dragon-turned-elf asked sarcastically.

The drow giggled. "You didn't ask!"

"Of course. I should have known." Sivestrik rolled his eyes, wondering why he was going along with this. It was true that he needed a way out of the dark and dangerous caverns, for he longed to stretch out his wings and fly again. Having been caged for weeks, and then released into a dismal world of darkness and low-ceilinged tunnels and chambers filled with long spires of stone to prevent even a short flight, he was growing ever more anxious to see the open sky and the warm light of the sun.

Still, he could not quite accept that there could be an easy solution to his dilemma. The ones who had imprisoned him had been kin to this boy, and he still found it difficult to believe that the drow before him was not as vile and tretcherous as they. True, the lad seemed friendly enough aside from having been sent to kill him, but he had heard more than enough tales of dark elven cruelty and malice to be wary of trusting the boy.

Lothir waited for the silver-haired youth to make up his mind; finally he sighed and started for the ledge. He came to the bottom of the small outcrop, and began to examine the wall for hand-holds. His levitation was exhausted, but he culd still climb.

Or so he thought. He had barely made it two inches before reaching up with his right arm; a sharp jolt of pain made him gasp and let go, falling back. He stepped back, holding his injured arm close to his chest, and cradled it with his other hand.While still in the midst of his battle, he had been able to ignore the pain, for the most part. Now that the excitement had passed, however, it was much worse. He winced, realizing that he would not be getting up that way.

He turned to the dragon-turned-elf with a defeated frown. "Um, there's one little problem. I think I broke my arm when I fell earlier. I can't climb up. And the only other way to get there is a half-day trek back the way I came, and it's blocked off."

"I suppose you need MY help to ascend?" Sivestrik said, rolling his eyes. He had known it would not be so easy as that. Still, if this was the worst of his problems, there was yet a shred of hope for escape.

"Well- if you don't mind?" the drow aked sheepishly. Of all the things that could have hindered his ability to show the dragon he could be trusted, why did it have to be this? He felt slightly foolish, asking for aid with something that had never before been difficult. He could always wait for his inate magic to be restored by food and rest, but he doubted the wyrm would be willing to wait a day for him to recover his powers.

"And exactly how am I to help? I cannot carry you in this shape, and that ledge seems far too small to hold my true form." The elf-lad leveled a long stare at the young drow, as if daring him to find a solution.

Lothir stared back at him, at a loss for an answer. At last he began to pace slowly in front of the cliff-face, deep in thought. Obviously his new companion could not carry him up in this form, but perhaps something else? He needed a shape that could easily ascend the wall, but was strong eough or dexteous enough to carry him, as well. Yet what?

His mind raced, dozens of creatures he had studied in his preparations for the hunt skittering across his thoughts. <Something- bigger,> he mused. He pondered on the size of the tunnel above, wondering what sort of creature might fit within.

And then it stuck him. So perfect in its simplicity. "A spider!" He shouted, whirling to face the wyrm again excitedly. "A giant spider- like the ones the patrols ride! You can turn into almost ANYTHING, right? That would work. I could hop on your back, and you could just walk right up!"
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Mon May 03, 2010 12:57 am

"A spider, huh? You WOULD choose something creepy. Why couldn't it be something nice?" The wyrm-turned-elf asked sourly.

"Have you got any better ideas?" The drow shot back, rolling his eyes. "Besides, I know these caverns better than you; a giant spider won't be as likely to be attacked by wandering predators. Your real shape won't fit in there, but if it comes to a fight, you need to be able to defend yourself."

"Your concern for my well-being is most- touching," Sivestrik replied, a trifle sarcastically. He sghed. "Just how dangerous ARE these caves?"

Lothir grinned back at him impishly, ignoring the jibe. "Let's just say you're not the only big nasty around. I've fought cave fishers, darkmantles, and even an aranea. Of course, if you're afraid..." He shrugged, and tossed the silver a condescending look.

"Why do I get the feeling I'm going to regret this?" The elven youth replied, and suddenly shifted again. His form grew and distorted, becoming that of a huge arachnid. Lothir watched in morbid fascination, and was reminded of Shelatchka. He smirked to himself. Perhaps he should introduce the dragon to her? It would serve the arrogant beast right if she decided to persue him as a mate... He stifled a snicker at the thought, wondering what sort of offspring might come from such a union. Drarachnids?

At last the elf had changed again, and was now a spider large enough for the drow to ride. It was covered in a coat of short, silvery-gray hairs, like a trantula, though he had never seen one that shade before. In spite of his innate dislike for spiders, he thought it looked pretty.

He shook his head, deciding that he had dallied long enough, and picked up his fallen weapons and pack, and climbed onto the creature, sitting just above the gap between the middle two pairs of legs. He was reminded again of the aranea, and his brief journey on her back. Then the huge arachnid- he found it hard to believe the dragon could transform so easily between shapes- began to climb the steep face of the outcrop, toward the boulder which hid the entrance to the small tunnel exit.

Once inside, Lothir settled back to enjoy the ride, though he wondered what he would do once they reached the surface valley. He was certain it would be safe for the wyrm, since no one else even knew of its existance, but would the dragon be welcome there? It was a sacred place, after all, and he was not entirely sure the dancing goddess would want a dragon living so close to her holy site.

After some time had passed, they came to a small cavern filled with large rocks and strange formations shaped like large melted candles. He tapped his "mount" to get his attention, and told him that he needed to stop for a moment to relieve himself. The silver stopped, and lowered his body so the drow could hop down. He was just about to step behind one of the large, smooth stone formations, when it suddenly moved.

He leapt backward, surprised by the unexpected movement, his left hand going to his remaining sword. The silver still had the other one, which was just as well, since he doubted he could hold it now anyway. His arm throbbd, a sure sign that it was broken. The rock shifted again, and suddenly extended four long, whip-like tentacles. A huge maw opened up, with an eye just above it. He gaped, horrified, as he reailized what he faced.

"R- Roper!" he shouted, backing away further, even as the rock-like creature lashed out with one of the long appendages. He dodged it, but tripped, falling on his injured arm with a yelp of pain. The dragon-spider skittered away from another of the long tentacles, letting out a chittering sound that he could only assume was some sort of curse. Lothir was inclined to agree, especially since his sword would do little good against a creature whose body was nearly as hard as stone. His companion shot a thick mass of webs at the roper, which caught two of the flailing tentacles and pinned them, but it still had two free, and those now whipped out at the drow.

He ducked under one, but the second snaked low, snaring hs left leg and yanking it hard. He was pulled off his feet, and began to slide toward the monstrous creature as it pulled him toward the gaping maw. He yelled, and tried hacking at the appendage. It released him, but not before the second had lassoed his throat. It yanked him around to drag him by the neck, choking him as he tried to hack at it, too.

The other tentacle now grabbed his arm, pulling it so that he could not use his sword on the roper's only vulnerable parts. Then his companion pounced, landing between the roper and its intended meal. The shapeshifted wyrm bit down with its mandibles, severing the tentacle holding the drow's neck. The monster let out a sound that resembled nails screeching on metal, and released the boy to lash out at the greater threat.

By now, it had managed to free its other two tentacles, and those now whipped out to catch the spider by its middle, tugging it closer, in spite of the arachnid's strength, for the cavern floor was slick from ages of water dipping over the stones. The third tentacle tried to grab the drow again, but he was ready, and dodged it. Yet he knew they could not fight it much longer, for it was slowly dragging the tansformed wyrm closer, and he could not help his companion if he was forced to keep dodging the roper's "arms".
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Mon May 03, 2010 12:59 am

He sprinted toward his captured companion, hoping to cut him free, but was tripped up by the other tentacle again. The drow heard a clink from the pack still slung over his shoulder, and remembered the bottles inside- specifically the small flask of alchemist's fire. If it broke....

His gaze suddenly whipped back toward the roper's open mouth, an idea forming. "Alright," he muttered, "if you're THAT hungry, I'll give you something to chew on..." He stopped fighting, and instead reached back to fish around in the travel bag until his hand closed on the one he wanted. The huge beast reeled him closer, along with the transformed dragon, thinking the prey had given up.

At last, the ebon-skinned youth whistled at the monster to get its attention. "Hey, ugly! You're so hungry- eat THIS!" He shouted, and flung the flask directly at the creature's gaping jaws. The roper snapped at it instinctively. It was the worst thing it could have done. The bottle shattered as its sharp, jagged rock-like teeth crunched into it, and the liquid inside burst into flames on contact with the air. The roper roared in pain, and promptly let go of its intended prey.

Lothir leaped back as the tentacle that had held him began flailing wildly, the beast in agony from the fire that had ignited inside its maw. The roper had let go of his companion as well, and now simply flailed about in a panic. He grinned wickedly, knowing that nothing short of a complete lack of air would extinguish the flames- and that was not likely to happen, since the roper continued to screech out its pain. He watched in fascination as it wobbled back and forth, in a futile effort to escape the fire within its own insides. He could smell some odd sort of odor, like burning sulfur and lime, and wrinkled his nose.

He turned back to the dragon-turned-spider, and dusted himself off. "I don't think it'll be much of a threat anymore. Let's go."

He saw the spider begin to rear back, as if to pounce on him, and he stepped back into a defensive stance, his single saber held ready. But the young wyrm merely began to shift again, shrinking back down into his elven form once more. At last, the silver-haired youth spoke.

"You saved me- why? You could have left me to die. That thing would have killed me, and you'd have your trophy. Why would you help me?" He jerked his head at the roper, which was even now slowing its movement, as it was cooked from the inside by the alchemic flames.

The drow looked at him, not quite sure of the answer himself. "I- don't know. I suppose maybe I just felt bad about what happened to you. It just seemed like the right thing to do, that's all." He shrugged, not having any better answer than that.

"Thank you. Maybe you're not so bad, after all. For a drow." Sivestrik tossed the dark-elven boy a condescending smirk, and held out the other sword to him. "Here. This is yours."

He was surprised when the drow shook his head and pushed it back at him. "No, I gave it to you. Keep it. Maybe you can learn to use it. That way you can save your OWN hide next time." He returned the silver's smirk, and they simply stared at each other for a long moment. Then both began to giggle, as they realized that they had just shared a joke. A new respect seemed to have passed between them, one born of danger and comradery shared.

When he was finally able to stop laughing, the young drow held out his hand, and smiled. "Does this mean we're friends?"

"Friends?" Sivestrik asked, regarding the offered hand carefully. It seemed almost impossible, and yet... He nodded slowly, and clasped it at last. "Yes. Friends. I think I would like that. My name is Sivestrik, of Clan Argentrius." He smiled, looking at his new companion expectantly.

"Lothir E'Terrin'dar. But just call me Lothir." The dark elf grinned back, and he put his sword back in its sheath on his back. "Come on. The way out is this way." He led Sivestrik toward the other side of the cavern, striding confidently on.

"Wait- aren't you forgetting something?" Sivestrik asked. The drow paused, turning to him with a puzzled look. "The reason we stopped here?" He continued, one brow rising meaningfully.

He stifled a laugh when the dark elf suddenly remembered his earlier business, and gave him a sheepish grin before hastily ducking behind a large rock to take care of it. A few minutes later he came back out, looking slightly embarrassed. At last, the pair continued on, the drow leading the way with a soft whistle and a merry smile, striding boldly into the dark passage that led to the Lands Above.
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
http://mickeys-tavern.com/index.php?showforum=188

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Aylstra Illianniis
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Sat May 15, 2010 6:52 am

A little more than an hour later, the pair came to the narrow, low burrow that led to the den where the surface hole was. Their progress was slow, hindered by the young drow's injured limb. He had made a crude sling for it, and the pain had finally lessened to a dull ache, yet still he knew it would eventually require healing, or at least a more secure binding. When they reached the den, he halted, crouching low with his saber in his good hand. He frowned, and whispered for Sivestrik to stop.

"What is it?" the young dragon asked, noting the look of caution on the youth's face. He could see nothing but the large animal den, which appeared abandoned, and a small shaft of light streaming in from above, amid the roots of a tree.

"There's somthing wrong. That light- it's brighter than it should be. There might be a fire above," the drow replied softly, "or maybe something even worse."

Sivestrik's brow furrowed in confusion; it looked like a simple shaft of ordinary sunlight to his eyes. "You're hurt. Maybe I should go first? If there IS something up there, I can change to my true shape and deal with it." Surely the dark elf was not afraid of a little light? He found the other's caution most strange.

"Very well, but be careful. That hole is a tight fit." Lothir replied, and moved aside to let the silver-haired boy by. He watched him shimmy up through the hole, and waited in tense silence.

A moment later, he saw the transformed wyrm duck his head back down the hole. "There's nothing here," he said, holding a hand out to pull the drow up. The dark elf half-climbed, half-dangled his way up through the opening, until he was able to slither his way out onto the bed of moss at the base of the tree. It was much warmer than he remembered, and the light far brighter- too bright, in fact. Even here, beneath the tree, his eyes stung from it.

"Gahh! Why is it so bright?! What is that?!" he asked, his hand going up to shield his sensitive orbs from the painful radience. The shaft of light came from high above, from a break in the canopy of the forest. He heard strange twittering and chirping noises, unlike any he had heard before. And there was a warm current of air wafting by, as well, that he had never felt before.

Sivestrik looked back at him, puzzled. "It's just sunlight- nothing to be worried about. It's always like that. I thought you said you'd been here before?" Hewas curious now. The drow acted as if he had never seen the sun before!

"THAT'S sunlight?!" Lothir asked, incredulous. Now he understood why it hurt so much. He squinted through the gaps in his fingers, trying to get used to the intense light. He looked around cautiously, and noticed that they were actually in a darker area beneath the trees.

Not far away, there were brighter patches here and there, where the sun came through the trees. He had never seen the forest in daylight before, for all his forays had been at night, after all his obligations were done for the day. His own home marked time only by the ringing of the temple gong, and only for purposes of scheduling meals and rituals. Though he knew about the huge ball of fire that lit the daytime sky, he had never thought he would see it firsthand.

"I- I've only been up here when it was dark. Is it really daytime now? It hurts. And what are all those sounds? They were never here before." He asked, still trying to see as he blinked in the harsh light.

"At night? I suppose that explains it. Those are birds chirping. No wonder you didn't know what it was, if you've never been here in daylight before. How did you even find this place?" Sivestrik went back to examining the surrounding forest, filling his lungs with fresh air after the stale, stuffy passages below. He had never been so glad to see the sun, and to hear the familiar sounds of life.

"I spend a lot of time exploring the tunnels after all my lessons are over," the drow replied, wishing he had a cloak to cover his head and shade his eyes. He watched as the elven lad took several long strides, stretching out his arms; and then suddenly he heard a strange crackling sound as the darthiir began to shift again, growing larger, his had and neck elongating, clothes dissolving or perhaps becoming a part of him, and wings and a long sinewy tail sprouting. In seconds, he had reverted back into the silver wyrm, and took a deep breath, flexing his huge wings as if to test them.

"Ah, that is SO much better," said the dragon, shaking his long neck, the sunlight glinting off of his gleaming metallic scales. A stray flash of brilliance caught the drow's eyes, and he hissed in discomfort.

"Watch it! That hurt!" he growled, mildly annoyed.

"Oh, so sorry, that was unintended. I think I'd like to stretch my wings a bit. You wouldn't happen to know if there's a good place to take off, would you?" Sivesrik asked, glancing back at the youth.

Lothir was too busy trying to keep from running into trees, having been effectively light-blinded by the flash. He simply pointed in the general direction of the path- at least he thought he was, it was hard to tell when he could not see- and nodded.
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
http://mickeys-tavern.com/index.php?showforum=188

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Aylstra Illianniis
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Posts: 1933
Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 12:51 am
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Post by Aylstra Illianniis » Fri May 28, 2010 5:11 pm

It took several minutes for his vision to return to normal; by then, the wyrm had already padded a goodly distance down the trail through the forest, and he was forced to run to catch up. The youg drow found the trees strangely full of sounds- a soft rattling from the leaves as a light breeze rustled them, the almost constant twittering high above as small winged creatures flitted about, and the distant sound of water trickling and small buzzing noises. Never before had he seen or heard so much life all around him. In the dark spaces deep below the earth, silence was often the difference between life and death.

Soon they came to the large clearing, and there he had to halt. Where the canopy had been bright but somewhat tolerable, the wide open expanse was so brightly lit that his eyes were dazzled once again, and the lack of cover made him feel exposed and vulnerable in a way he never had on his earlier visits. Perhaps it was the lack of any comforting shadows, or the heat that seemed to bear down over everything, completely obscuring any chance of spotting unknown dangers. He held his slender saber out before him, moving cautiously, until he reached the edge of the shadows of the forest.

All around, there were flowers, and though the light made his eyes sting and water, the sheer wonder of so many colors and shapes took his breath away. Then he saw that some of the colorful shapes moved- even lifted up and fluttered about haphazardly- and a smile crept over his face, as he realized that he was perhaps seeing something that few if any of his people ever had.

"What are those?" he asked he dragon, pointing at a large fluttering thing that looked like it was made entirely of two shimmering bits of bright blue coth attatched together with a small stick. It landed on a lage red blossom in the shade nearby, and he crept closer, intent on examining this strange new wonder.

"Hmm? Oh, the butterflies. They drink from the flowers. Harmless, of course." The dragon gave a shrug of his massive shoulders, his huge wings flexing and causing a few stray leaves to drift on the breeze they made.

The young drow moved closer still, and watched it in fascination as it unrolled some sort of long thin strand, and waved about two fragile stalks above what he took to be its head. The long part dlipped down inside the flower, and he held out a finger to touch it gently on the back of one delicate wing. He frowned in puzzlement as a shimering blue dust came off on his finger, and when he looked again, the wing seemed duller there. Then it suddenly rose up, and flitted off to another flower out in the sunlit clearing.

"I thought you wanted to fly?" He asked, finally realizing that Sivestrik had not left.

"I need to get used to having room to move again. I've been cramped for so long that my wings are a bit stiff." The dragon replied, stretching each one out slowly. He swept them out to gently fan over the ground, stirring up tiny swirls of dust and leaves, then strode quickly over to the drow. He stopped just beside him, and Lothir let out a squawk of surprise as the young wyrm swiftly picked him up in his jaws.

He froze for a moment, fearing that the silver meant to eat him after all, but the wyrm only twisted his head back to set him down on his back just above his shoulders, at the joint of his long neck. He tried to speak, but all that came out was a tiny, nervous squeak, as he found himself astride the creature's huge shoulders, clinging precariously at the base of his neck. Sivestrik seemed to be grinning at him as he cocked his head down to watch him, then made a low, rumbling laugh.

"I'd hold on if I were you," he warned, and turned in a tight circle to begin a fast run across the large clearing, spreading his wings out wide, pumping them in powerful beats downward as he ran, until he leaped up and was suddenly aloft.
By the Dark Maiden''s grace do we meet. May she guide and protect us.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

A link to my tales, including my Marvel hero!:
http://mickeys-tavern.com/index.php?showforum=188

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