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Sweat stung Grentham's eyes as he hoed the hard dry earth of his field, turning the rich soil of the Amnish countryside over for the new crop to be planted. The sun was high over head and spring was a fading memory as witnessed by the browned weeds and grasses. He paused at his labours, pushed his sweat stained hat up and leant against his hoe to rest for a moment as he wiped the sweat from his eyes with the back of his rough calloused hand. He sighed to himself that the task at hand was backbreaking work. A dry slow breeze blew, rustling the leaves in the nearby trees while a few clouds dotted the otherwise clear blue sky.
As he gathered himself to set to work once more, a glint off in the distance caught his attention causing a momentary feeling of disquiet within him. He squinted against the glare raising a hand to shade his eye as his gaze tried to penetrate the shimmering haze of the midday sun. The flash of metal now shone through the haze as now he could make out two distinct figures slowly moving his way through the countryside.
Grentham, a simple peasant but wise to the world, began to grow a little uneasy. Who were these people he wondered? Like most peasants, he was wary of strangers and now that the two people had come a bit nearer, he could quite clearly see that the gleam of metal was due to the armour being worn by one of them. It sparkled & shone brightly, sending forth the suns reflection in a myriad of dazzling rays & beams.
He looked over the two figures as they crossed the stone wall that enclosed his field. The armoured one was big man, not one Grentham would want to meet on a dark night whilst the other figure was slighter, defiantly smaller and was wearing a long green hooded robe. Grentham was a little uncertain but could wager that it was probably be a woman under that hood. He briefly considered fleeing from these two as often men in armour often meant raiders, bandits or worse. Yet these two seemed not to be charging like most bandits would nor had they weapons drawn. So there was no point in running now, he sent up a silent prayer to Chauntea that no harm would come from this encounter.
As they grew closer they appeared to be in a whispered conversation which he couldn’t hear. Grentham thought for some reason it seemed like almost like a sort of argument like the ones he and his wife often engaged in. It was not a full blown blazing row, more of a contest of wills or as he put it when describing such "conversations" with his wife, “an intense affectionate discussion”. He waited and watched until the pair seemed to come to some resolution as quieted down while they resumed their approach to the waiting and slightly bemused farmer.
“Hail unto you good farmer. What fine day it is, eh?” waved the plate armour clad man with a wide friendly smile as he strode up towards the stationary peasant.
Greantham found himself looking up into the suntanned handsome face of a tall, broad shouldered man who was wearing a sweat stained battered straw hat, platemail armour and had a functional full helm belted to his waist. From under the brim of the hat, a pair of intense sea green eyes gazed back calmly at the farmer and for a moment he felt that they were able to read his soul. Instead of feeling nervous, Grentham felt reassured and somehow knew that this man meant him no harm. It appeared that the warrior hadn’t shaved for a few days from the look of stubble that was on his face. Grentham looked over the shinny yet travel stained plate armour, observing that the warrior appeared to be well equipped for battle with a long sword sheathed in an ornated scabbard as well as a throwing axe were strapped to his belt. A long bow and shield were slung over the warrior's shoulder and he carried a large and full looking travel pack. The warrior raised his hand in greetings.
“I am Talwyn, a simple paladin of the True god and this is my wife, Jhaelystra. We seek water, food & a place to rest and can pay you for your troubles. We seek no special favours, just a modicum of privacy and a night in your hayshed will be amply sufficient.” He reached into a small leather pouch that hung from his belt and removed a few large gold coins and held them out to the farmer.
Grentham couldn’t believe his luck. This paladin was offering him the equivalent of half a years harvest in gold just to stay in his hayshed!?! Incredible but he wasn't about to argue with the man who was offering him a small fortune in gold. He studied the pair before him but his attention drawn to the shining coins on offer. The woman had said nothing yet remained close to his side, keeping her features hidden under her robes. Odd behaviour he though to himself but mentally shrugged as it was not his business to wonder why the lady choose to hide under a robe in the midday sun. Grentham peered curiously at the lady, trying to discern her face which was hidden in the shadow of the cowl of her hooded robe but couldn't make out any details as the hood's folds obsctruted a clear view. Odd that she hides her face he thought to himself. Maybe she is hideously scarred? He dismissed the thought and returned his attention to the paladin.
“Hail t’ye then Sir Talwyn ‘n yer good lady Jhaelystra,” he said respectfully & politely as he quickly took the gold. “I be Grentham, farmer of these lands ‘n ye be welcome t’ spend night in me hayshed. Ye be lucky ta find me here in tha fields as normally I’d be at tha market in t’ village.”
“Please, just call me Talwyn good farmer Grentham. I am not an ordained knight of any order, just a simple humble servant of Torm,” replied Talwyn with a faint smile. He looked about the field which Grentham had been working on. “Tell me farmer Grentham, why do you hoe at these fields? Do you not have a plough and oxen to pull it?”
“Aye I do but they be sick with some pox. Talona must have cursed ‘em and now they be dying but I still have ta get me crop in else I can’t pays me tithes ‘n taxes ‘n me family will starve when tha snows come,” he said dejectedly.
“Disease eh? Well...I might be able to aid you with that,” Talwyn said. There was a slight hiss of displeasure from his wife.
“First you pay him too much and now you are going to heal his dam rothe as well,” she hissed at Talwyn in exasperation. Grentham heard what she said and thought her accent most was unusual for the area. Foreigners he thought but kept his expression neutral.
“Come now my love, money is easily found and we have more than enough and I am bound by the debts of the duty to help all good folk even if it means healing a sick ox with the grace of Torms’ touch. And you should remember your own training as well and who you serve,” he replied gently to her. She hurrumphed quietly and folded her arms. Turning back to the famer, “Farmer Grentham, lead us back to you home and let me see what I can do for your livestock.”
“Just follow me them good lady and sir, we be no more than a mile from me homestead ‘n barns.” Grentham was still amazed by the turn of events and quickly lead them across his unploughed fields back to the homestead. On their arrival his wife, Marial, came out to meet them. At first she seemed alarmed at the site of her husband coming back in the company of a warrior in armour and a hooded figure yet the smile on her husbands face quickly removed her fear. She looked over the strangers that her husband had brought back to their home. The warrior was a very handsome fellow indeed and had an easy friendly way as she watched as he and Grentham chatted together easily like long lost friends. The other one, hidden by the hooded robes walked alongside them the chatting pair was silent. There was something about that figure that made Marial a tad uneasy and guests were an unwelcome burden they could do without she thought uncharitably.
“So Grentham, you bring guests home instead of working the fields hmm? Anything to get out of work with you ain’t it?” she said in a nagging tone.
“Hush your scolding Marial! The noble Talwyn here has given us gold for a night rest in the hayshed and food and drink. He is a paladin of Torm and may be able to heal the oxen from the pox,” chided Grentham with a hopeful look at Talwyn. If the mans boast was true, Grentham’s cares would be over, until the next crisis arose.
“May the blessings of the True god be upon this house and you good woman Marial. All we require is water in which to wash the dust from the road away, some simple food and a nights rest. If I can help you and you husband with your livestock, I’ll be more than glad to,’ said Talwyn. He looked Marial over for a long moment, his flashing sea green eyes staring deep into hers. She felt as though he was looking at her soul for some reason but dismissed it instantly with a shiver. Talwyn frowned momentarily as he looked at Marial.
With a barely audible sigh, he broke the piercing gaze and smiled but not quite warmly as before. He turned to Grentham, “All we require is some privacy. My wife Jhaelystra does not want to be disturbed for any reason while she is resting. Now good farmer, please show me to your livestock and I'll see what I can do for those sick animals of yours eh?” He followed Grentham off in the direction of the barn, leaving the two women standing there in an awkward silence. Marial finally broke the uncomfortable quiet with a sharp intake of breath as she spoke up.
“Well ye best follow me then milady,” said Marial with a sigh of resignation and a hint of resentment. Jhaelystra nodded slightly and followed the stout woman towards the hayshed. Once there, Marial pulled open the double doors with a grunt and gestured for Jhaelystra to enter. “I’ll be back with a tin bath and some water fer ye soon milady. Dinner will be at sundown and won’t be what ye be used to but that’s all we have, take it or leave it,” she said carelessly. Jhaelystra said nothing again but stood for a moment looking into the hayshed for a long moment before entering it with a degree of reluctance.
“Filthy rivvil flea infested hovel!” cursed Jhaelystra under her breath in her native tongue as she stood alone in the hayshed after closing the hay shed doors. She waited, listening carefully to make sure the farmers wife had gone before pulling back her hood. Shaking out her long silvery blonde hair which was damp with sweat, she wrinkled her nose in displeasure as she could smell herself and the accumulated grime of many days on the road sleeping rough. Concentrating for a moment, she began chanting softly drawing on her inner power. Her violet eyes were glowing brightly in the gloom as the various insects and vermin fled the immediate vicinity. The glow faded as she finished her cantrip.
With a satisfied nod she undid the straps that held a small pack that was under her robe and placed it on the straw covered ground. Humming softly, she began to open the pack and remove a number of things that normally would have overfilled the bag. She laid out a large bedroll and a blanket on the low stacked hay bales. Satisfied that that would be comfortable to sleep on as compared to the ground, Jhaelystra rummaged about in the bag of holding, withdrawing a long black silken dress with a small smile. Holding it up, Jhaelystra admired the exquisite dress enjoying the smooth supple silky feel of the material in her hands. She laid it down carefully on the bedding. Turning back, she then took out two small cloth towels and some tiny bottles of soap, oils & perfumes followed and were placed carefully on the blankets that made up the bedding. Uncorking one of the bottles, she inhaled deeply the aroma of jasmine with a contended sigh.
An approaching clatter, the sound of a tin bath being dragged along the ground, broke her from her reverie. Jhaelystra quickly pulled her cowl back over her head and stood facing the doors. Marial opened the door and dragged the bath and a large empty wooden milk churn.
“Yer bath is here Lady Jhaelystra. I’ll be back with hot water in a few moments. There be a hand pump around t’ back of t’ shed,” said Marial peevishly as she dumped the tin bath and empty churn in front of Jhaelystra. She peered over Jhaelystra’s shoulder at the things that had been taken out of the bag of holding. Marial’s eyes widened covetously at the sight of the silken dress and the fine crystal bottles made her intake her breath a little.
She briefly returned her look to the hooded figure of Jhaelystra, almost as though she wanted to ask her something yet her eyes were drawn back to the beautiful dress and fine perfume bottles that lay on the blanket.
Quite the lady muck high-pants indeed with all her fancy perfumes Marial thought jealously. But that dress, oh to have such a dress! That would make her the envy of all the women in the village.
“That will be all. You can leave me now,” Jhaelystra said quietly, dismissing Marial as she picked up the empty churn in a gloved hand and waited for the silly woman to leave her alone. Marial was startled out of her envious thoughts, sniffed haughtily and turned abruptly on her heel and marched out of the shed to fetch the cauldron of hot water from her laundry. Jhaelystra carefully followed her out after a moment, watching as Marial stomped off towards the laundry, then moving quickly went behind the shed to get extra water for the bath.
She found the wrought iron hand pump around the back of the shed amongst a cluster of lush weeds. Muttering darkly, she placed the empty churn under the pumps nozzle and with a grunt, she started work the pumps handle. The handle gave a rusty shriek of protest as it hadn’t been oiled for quite sometime and was very stiff. Swearing and cursing all lazy farmers to everlasting torment, Jhaelystra struggled to get the pump going. My oh so noble husband should be doing this she thought darkly as her arms began to ache from the effort. Soon though, the churn was full of clean water. She furtively glanced about making sure no one was in sight. With a quiet intonating chant Jhaelystra called on the power of her goddess to give her the strength to lift the full churn. Once the blessing was completed, she felt a surge of power rush into her body. She lifted the full water churn without to much difficulty and quickly hurried back to the shed before Marial returned. Carefully pouring the water into the tin bath, Jhaelystra began to smile to herself. At last, a real bath! Not some quick wash in a pond or a splash in a cold stream with Talwyn, not that she didn’t like their swims together but there was nothing like relaxing in a long hot bath.
Marial huffed and puffed as she struggled over to the shed with the full cauldron of boiling hot water for her snotty lady guest. Marial had always resented those who had better things than her and this mysterious hoity-toity cow that lurked under a hooded robe all the time seemed to annoy Marial more than usual. Grentham always was telling her that they had a good life but what would he know? Marial had been married to him for 10 years now and had watched herself go from a pretty young girl of eighteen summers to a now worn and stolid woman approaching middle age. Harvests had been mixed and the riches she had thought that would have come from marrying a wealthy farmer like Grentham hadn’t materialised as she had dreamed they would. She’d thought she would have servants and never have to work hard but the first few years of average to bad harvests soon exhausted Grentham’s supply of money. Matters were not helped either with Marial’s proliferate and capricious spending their precious cash on trivial things like petty shiny baubles and trinkets the peddlers would sell at the village market. Things were made worse with three miscarriages and only one sad sickly daughter to show for it who she secretly despised for her weakness. All these set backs only further served to darken her spirit. Grentham doted on their daughter. Their little girl spent most of her time with Grentham’s mother back in the village much to Marial’s relief. She never liked the idea of children but knew that they were part and parcel of a marriage. Her daughter’s weakness repulsed her and she would make any excuse not to see her.
Arriving at the doors she called out loudly, “Yer bath waters’ here yer ladyship. Me hands are full so you’ll have ta open tha doors.” She heard something mumbling and cursing, something about hopeless rivvil which she didn’t understand but understood the insult anyway. Then the shed doors swung inwards letting Marial stagger in with the cauldron. Heading over to the bath, she dumped the hot water into the tin bath, splashing Jhaelystra’s bedding in the process. None of the water hit the dress though.
Jhaelystra clenched her fists in silent anger for a moment as she watched this woman act so blatantly oafish. It was clear to her the woman was of low birth and longed to rise above her situation. She’d seen the way Marial had gazed at her dress and knew that the woman wanted it. She watched silently as Marial stared back at her challengingly for a moment before the farmers wife realised she couldn’t see the other woman’s eyes. Not getting any satisfaction from her glare, Marial flounced out of the barn with a harrumph and left without another word.
Jhaelystra breathed in deeply, then exhaled all the anger and rage she felt. She could kill that foolish woman with a few words or a deft strike but that would be no joy from the act. It had been a long hard life changing journey leaving behind her past, rejecting the violent and murderous ways that her people embraced. Her calm restored, she intoned a silent prayer to Eilistraee, her goddess, to be more patient, kinder and understanding with people. She had renounced Lloth a few years ago and fled the Underdark when she realised that there was a better way to live life but years of learned behaviour and ingrained habits were quite hard to erase.
It was the call of the Dark Dancer as well as the compassion, trust, friendship and finally love from Talwyn that had enabled her to break away from that lethal vindictive nature and learn a different and more tolerant way to live.
Pausing for a moment, she reflected on how her life had changed on that fateful day she’d first met Talwyn. Fleeing from the Drow hunters that were seeking her death. She’d been looking behind her at her tormenter as she fled, not watching out for what was in her path. She ran right into Talwyn and his travelling companions quite literally. Her face bashed into Talwyn's armoured chest and as she fell back onto her behind in shock, her nose began to sting and bleed as tears of pain formed in her eyes dazed eyes.
Talwyn had seen her first as a woman in distress and naively, in her initial opinion, defended her against those who sought her death. He and his companions wrecked a bloody slaughter on the Drow hunting party that were after her. Those hunters never really stood a chance she mused with some small delight as she recalled the rather one sided battle. Talwyn became a blur of action, moving with a speed and grace that would not normally be attributed to a man of his heroic stature wearing plate-mail armour. He wielded his long sword better than any blade master she’d seen, using strikes and manoeuvres unknown to her and the drow he faced. His swiftness with the blade was deadly. His companions too were themselves lethally awesome. The Tormish priest Chadin, the elven archer Saeval, the dwarven warrior Durgan, the invoker Harq and Baseal the scout, together with Talwyn, managed to dispatch twenty two of Eryndlyn’s best fighters in a few short minutes.
When the battle was over, it was then she had her first good look into her rescuers eyes as he offered his hand to her to help her to her feet. Hesitantly she reached out to take his hand. Grasping it, she was lifted gently to her feet and she found herself gazing into those beautiful calm sea green eyes. In them she saw the resolve and strength there that even he was not always aware of.
She felt something stir in her heart that she’d thought had been destroyed many years ago. It was the feeling of hope.
Her reminiscence brought a happy smile to her face. She began to pour in some of the fragrant oils into the bath and inhaled deeply as the scents rose from the hot water. Shedding her travel worn robe, tunic and silken undergarments, she scooped out some water with her hands and a small flannel. Splashing herself quickly, she washed herself thoroughly before stepping into the bath and lay back relaxing. The feeling of laying relaxed in the hot water, the washing away of the sweat and grime, lifted her spirits and she quietly began to hum a soft sweet melody. It was one that she’d heard Talwyn sing to her when he began to court her.
That man was so full of surprises often many of them quite endearing. That he could sing and play a lute was something that she’d not expected a mere warrior to do. And when he sang for her she would feel like she was the only one there in the place even if it was a crowded inn full of roistering drunks. He was no true bard but by the goddess, his voice would soothe her and melt her heart out of any icy rage she’d be feeling and in her biased opinion, she believed him a better singer that a lot of the bards she'd seen before.
At first she’d been overwhelmed by her feelings for him, often running away or lashing out to hurt him but he endured her tantrums and bursts of temper with good grace. She often thought he was like a rock that withstands the sea’s fury: immutable.
On one particular day, after a very passionate afternoon of lovemaking while they were staying at a small Inn, he’d got up and left her alone in their room without a word of explaination. She’d felt confused and hurt, feeling he had withdrawn from her after using her for his own selfish pleasure. Tears began to sting her eyes and she cursed herself for allowing this male to have this hold over her, this power, as she sat brooding. When he returned she was almost ready to explode in one of her rages. She stopped herself before she let fly as she saw he’d brought his lute back with him and looked at him suspiciously. He sat calmy at the foot of the bed and began to play a song that washed away all the doubts and fears that held her heart in chains all her life. Sitting there listening to him, tears of happiness began wetting her eys as his gentle words soothed her soul, filling her heart with a love she never thought possible, especially for a human male. From that moment on, any lingering misgivings, anxiety or concerns had melted away like mist in bright light of the sun.
Softly she began to sing the song he’d made just for her as she slipped into the bath and let the reverie of that perfect moment wash over her.In a warm and cosy space, the glitter from your face is falling all around me.
And when I’m broken and disgraced, I long for your embrace, as the winter winds confound me.
Together, together, our light will shine so bright when we’re together, whatever,
we’ll take our place to stand and face and I,
Won’t worry about what could have been,
‘cause what could have been survives,
in what we have today.
In the temple of your warmth, I take shelter from the storm, of all my pain and sadness,
At the alter of your smile, I find sanctuary awhile, from the whirling madness.
Together, together, our light will shine so bright when we’re together, whatever,
We’ll take our place to stand and face and I,
won’t worry about what could have been,
‘cause what could have been survives,
in what we have today.
Now each day I recreate, this blessed and holy state, of loving you.
Let the sun break on the skies, dry the tears from both our eyes,
so we can see our love anew.
Together, together, our light will shine so bright when we’re together,
whatever, We’ll take our place to stand and face and I,
Won’t worry about what could have been,
‘cause what could have been survives,
in what we have today.
Talwyn stood quietly outside at the door listening to his beloved sing quietly. He’d been able to remove the pox from the oxen much to Grentham’s delight. The animals were weak but would recover soon with good feed and some rest. He’d returned after helping lift a load of heavy grain sacks for Grentham. As he approached the hay shed, he could his wife’s melodius voice lifted in quiet song. He smiled to himself and bowed his head briefly in a moment of quiet prayer.
“Loyal Fury, I thank you for giving me this day and the strength to help the good farmer Grentham. Most of all, my lord, I thank you for allowing me these precious moments with my love Jhaelystra. Your light and example have helped guide her away from the despair she once knew and on to the better path. Your strength has helped me to overcome the taint I carry within and to become a better man in which to serve your glory.
Your will be done lord”
He could feel his god’s small flash of joy at the end of the prayer which was dedicated to him by his loving faithful servant and shared the happiness that Talwyn felt for his wife.
Jhaelystra had finished singing as he knocked quietly on the door calling out to her,
“Its just me my love, I’m coming in.” He quickly opened the door to see his beautiful drow wife reclined in a large tin bath. The shed had the heady and intoxicating smell of flowers and exotic oils. Jhaelystra languidly smiled up at him from the bath.
“Ahh husband of mine, love of my life, I feel so much better,” she sighed with a serene smile of contentment. “Come and give me a kiss my vallabha mrannd'ssinss,” she said with a sultry look in her eyes.
He walked over to her and leant over to kiss her but she quickly shot out her arm to block him.
“Gods you STINK m'ranndii!” she wrinkled her nose in disgust. “Did you roll about in rothe dung or something? Go outside and wash off you wretched rivvel before I allow you back into my presence. Look, over there is an empty milk churn. Take it and go find the pump that is behind this shed and wash that stench off before you come back in here!” she decreed imperiously waving him away from her and opening another bottle of scented oil which she waved in his general direction to ward off any lingering foul odours. Laughing at her antics and theatrics, he nodded as he could smell himself. I’m really quite ripe he thought as he wrinkled his nose.
“Sorry sweetness but healing animals means you have to stand in the pen with them,” he replied with a smile as he headed out to the door with the empty milk churn.
“Stand in the pen? Wallow in it more like you suingmc nesst! Wash that armour of yours as well, it reeks of your odour,” she commanded as he closed the shed doors. He shook his head with a rueful chuckle as he made his way around to the back of the hay shed. He knew that Drow females had a keenly powerful sense of smell and Jhaelystra could be waspish even when she was in a good mood. He found the rusty old pump and soon had it going despite its metal groans of protest. Once the churn was full, he emptied the contents over his head not even bothering to remove his plate armour. The water was coldly invigorating and he gave a small gasp of delight as it flushed away the heat and sweat from him. Tearing off some grass, he wiped off the dirt and muck from his leg greaves and boots then set about filling the churn again. It only took a couple of minutes to refill the churn after which he began unbuckling his armour. Greaves and shoulder plates were placed on the ground, followed by the breast plate and gambeson came off leaving him stripped to the waist.
Across the homestead courtyard, Marial watched furtively from with the recess of the laundry as Talwyn washed himself and cleaned his armour. Her breath caught in her throat as her eyes travelled over his well muscled body. His skin was pale from being under armour for so long but she could see that he’d tan well if he didn’t wear that plate all the time. She studied him closely, he was over six foot that was for sure and by the size of him, would no doubt weighed well over 200 pounds. A far better man than her old husband she thought idly. Musing to herself she pictured what it’d be like to have a man like Talwyn but then shook her head for having such foolish notions. He was already married to a much lither woman than herself. Even if she hid under a robe, Marial could see that Lady Jhaelystra was of slight stature and size, probably no more than five foot and a half at best. Tiny compared to her husband indeed. She watched as he poured another churn of water over himself then refilled it again. Afterwards, he ran his hands through his short wet sandy blonde hair to give it a quick clean. Whistling a merry tune, he gathered up his things and headed back around to the front of the shed and from her view. She sighed again as she turned about to get back to her chores with a melancholy resignation that life was unfair and that she should have married a man like the one she’d just ogled and not be a drudge of a farmers wife.
Balancing his gear on top of the milk churn, Talwyn reopened the shed doors and ducked inside quickly. Jhaelystra looked up at him and sniffed loudly.
“Hmm…better,” she said in a falsely grudging tone. Her eyes sparkled with delight as she saw him bend down and carefully place his gear on the ground. “You may approach and kiss me now mrannd'ssinss,” she said with a coy smile playing on her lips.
“As you wish my sweet one,” he said with a grin. He knelt down next the tin bath and leant over as she arched up at meet his kiss. His arms enfolded her and he inhaled deeply the mixture of scents that she’d used in her bath. “Mmm you smell so good darling,” he said as they broke the kiss and stared into each others eyes, their faces close to each other.
“Of course I do, I am a drow princess and not some dung splattered peasant girl. Be thankful that you are being graced by my kisses male,” she said archly with a haughty air as her eyes stared into his with a mischievous glint in them.
“Oh, playing the imperious matron now are you eh? You are deigning to suffer my touch and kisses for want of nothing better on offer hmm?” he quizzed her with a cheeky grin.
“Of course my ssin'urn male. I know I lower my standards just being with you but the quar'valsharess teaches us to be kind and charitable to hopeless cases,” she said with an impish grin.
Suddenly she squawked and squirmed as he began to tickle her and nuzzle her neck. His hands probed her ribs, digging in but not so roughly. She squealed in mock outrage and thrashed and splashed him with the bathwater before dragging him down to kiss him fiercely again. Panting, she broke the kiss and smiled at him with a mixture of adoration and mild annoyance.
“Look what you made me do you brute! All out bedding is wet and my dress is splashed to,” she groaned in mock indignation as she looked over at their things.
“It’s alright sweetie, they needed a rinse anyway. I’ll wash them later and then hang them out to dry. Now hop out of the tub and let me have a quick bath,” he replied as he stood and removed the rest of his clothing.
“Get out of this bath for you? By all the gods you ask too much male. Why I should flay you alive for your impudence! Such disrespect, such blatant selfishness on your part, denying your poor wife a few moments peace so that you can drag her out on the miserable road like harlot slave,” she pouted as she berated him with a malicious glee.
“Hush woman and get your skinny ass out of the tub now before I’m forced to tickle you into submission,” he bellowed with a sardonic grin.
Jhaelystra stood up slowly, stretching her athletic body whilst coyly pouting at Talwyn. She ran her hands sensually down her glistening wet coal grey body. She knew how her naked form enflamed him. Moving her hands slowly over her firm full breasts, she smiled seductively at him before running them down over her flat stomache before finally covering her smooth vagina. "Skinny am I hmm?" she asked softly as she turned away from him and bent down to pick up her small towel, exposing her perfect butt to him. "I thought you liked my ass, as you so crassly put it? In fact it was only just the other night that you were struggling to keep your hands off it as we sat under the shady tree next to that stream. You know, where we camped if I recall rightly?" She arched her fine eyebrows questioningly at him, her face a picture of coquetishness, sultry promise and allure. Teasing him was a huge thrill for her as she ran her tongue lightly over her lips. It made things so much more fun. He could be so serious at times and she couldn’t abide it when his sunny disposition was not there but he was mostly in a good mood and she knew how to distract him.
He gave a toneless whistle, admiring her flawless beauty as she lithely stepped from the bath into the clean gown he held out for her. She kissed him briefly then gently pushed him in the direction of the bath. He got in gingerly as it was the water was still quite hot and made small yelps as he sank slowly in.
“Ahhh…that’s better,” he said.
“The way you carry on getting into hot water, I can scarcely credit that you routinely suffer grievous wounds in battle without a sound and yet carry on like a whimpering baby when it comes to a tepid bath!” She rolled her eyes with a smile. “It’s totally obvious that males are utterly inferior as you are living proof!” she said smugly as she sat down on the bedding and began to brush out her long damp hair. Talwyn poked out his tongue while making a rude gesture back at her.
“Huh! I’ve married a charlatan. I’m saddled with an obscene oaf who knows nothing of courtly behaviour or manners and makes schoolboy rude gestures at ladies of quality. It’s a small wonder that Torm bothers to keep you in his service, you overgrown lout. He must be scrapping the bottom of the privy to keep you on. Sad really how desperate some human gods are,” she sniffed primly as she continued brushing her hair. She could see he was enjoying their banter by the size of that grin.
She would swear sometimes though that he was just a naughty boy in a mans body by the way he played up like one. Shaking her head she smiled to herself because that was one of his most endearing qualities. She’d met other paladins and found them, on the whole, a stuffy bunch fools that were too wrapped up with their bloated sense of self importance. Her husband though was a cut above the rest. He actually did embody his vows but with a sense of joy which was more important that following the code to the letter.
Talwyn quickly washed himself and stood up as Jhaelystra came over with his towel from his pack. He dried himself while she fussed over him, straightening his hair with her fingers then stood back to look him over critically. Standing there naked, he placed his fists on his hips and puffed out his chest and stuck out his jaw while assuming an expression of heroic resolve, staring off into the distance. She tried not to laugh but quickly dissolved into gales of giggles at his silly posing.
“Mock me do you wench? I have you know that people would erect statues in my honour! My deeds are many and great, my renown travels the realms,” he said loftily while she giggled helplessly at him.
“Enough of this mockery strumpet! Honour must be satisfied! Have at thee! Ha!” He grabbed her in his arms as she shrieked with laughter. He whirled her around in the air before cradling her in his arms. Her hands snaked around his neck as she dragged him down to kiss. He carried her over to their bedding and laid her down gently. She sighed with gentle smile and caressed his cheek tenderly.
“Come love, lay with me, love me like you do” she whispered in his ear as she nibbled on his earlobe as she pulled him down to her, her long strong legs wrapping around her waist drawing him into her.
Marial had heard the couple’s laughter and felt a rising sense of jealously. What a cheek those people had! Carrying on so shamelessly in her hayshed like a pair of besotted teenagers. She muttered with growing indignation. How dare they? It was sinful, grossly obscene. This man called himself a holy warrior of Torm now did he indeed? No paladin that she knew of behaved like that. He must be a con man, a liar that must be exposed she thought. Why, she should tell the village priest, old Father Nathel of Helm. He wouldn’t stand for this sort of nonsense, this level of low morality and indecentcy. She was determined to confront the pair first, to remonstrate with them and to say in no uncertain terms that this sort of tomfoolery would not be tolerated on her farm.
She marched over to the hay shed ready to give them a piece of her mind when she suddenly heard the unmistakable sounds of lovemaking. She heard a woman’s throaty moans of delight and the rythmic sound of flesh hitting flesh as she slowed down her approach. A rush of conflicting emotions swept over her. It’d been ages since she and husband had made love like that. Her steps faltered as she got close to the shed she began to grow curious. A sense of voyeurism over rode her feelings of outraged morality. She crept forward quietly. Sidling up against the wall of the shed, she peeked through a crack in the boards. Her eyes grew round as saucers as she saw the woman's coal grey skin and silvery blonde hair as she rocked passionately back and forth astride Talwyn who gripped her hips firmly and thrusted vigourously into her. Marial's mind reeled as a sense of terror washed over her.
Her hand flew up to her mouth as stifled her gasp of fear. Drow! Her legs grew wobbly with dread as she watched Talwyn and this drow woman making love. Dear gods save us she prayed to herself as she tore herself away from the wall and staggered away from the hay shed. Her mind was a whirl with confusion. A paladin with a drow woman! How can that be? It was not possible, not natural. As she got further away from the shad she gathered her wits quickly. Talwyn must be enspelled, charmed, held against his will by this foul drow bitch. Yes that was it. That could be the only explanation.
She paused for a long moment before moving again. A plan began to form in her mind, a scheme in which she could get out of this wretched role of being a drudge of a farmers wife. She smiled coldly to herself as she approached the homestead.
Marial opened the door to the homestead slowly as she thought about the course of action she was about to embark on. Her cold smile creased her lips as she began to see the opportunity that having a drow on the farm could bring. She would have it all, it would be perfect. She laughed to herself and felt a little giddy as she went into the kitchen and looked for the carving knife.
The back door rattled as Grentham lent against it as he kick off his boots before coming inside. Having Talwyn heal the oxen was a real blessing and by Chauntea, that man was strong as an ox as well. He shifted over 3 dozen bags of grain into the wagon to sell at the village market with not a word of complaint. All in all it looked to be a great day now. No more backbreaking work in the field, he’d have the oxen ready soon and would enlist the help of his neighbours in order to plough and sow the fields. He opened the door and walked into the kitchen to find Marial turning about to face him with a smile. He rarely saw her smile these days and thought that perhaps she and the paladins’ lady may have talked and Marial had received some small boon from the encounter. He went over to the basin by the wall to wash his hands. Dipping them into the water, he splashed it into his face and started to wash. He heard Marial walk up behind him as he reached for the soap.
She moved behind him, holding the blade loosely in the right hand. She waited till he was no longer leaning over the basin when she suddenly grabbed his forehead with the left hand while slashing his throat with a vicious swipe with the razor sharp carving knife. Blood fountained out in a crimson spray, splattering the wall in bright red droplets. Grentham gargled incoherently as he vainly sought to stem his life’s blood gushing from the ragged wound. Marial stood back from him careful not to get splashed with any blood. She was adept at slaughtering animals and dispatching Grentham was just as easy as slitting a pigs throat she thought.
Grentham’s knees buckled as he folded down onto the floor, his eyes locked onto Marial’s in confused agony. He lay on the floor, kicking weakly for another minute before he stopped. Blood pooled around him quickly.
Humming a jaunty peasant song, Marial stepped away from the growing pool of blood and took the knife with her. He quickly scuttled back to the shed to see how the lovers were doing. It appeared that they’d finished and were lying entwined in each others arms on their bedding quietly sleeping. Perfect she thought. She went around the side of the shed and came to a part where some of the boards were loose. Carefully she eased on aside, giving her just enough room to squeeze in. Hardly daring to breath, she snuck in on her hands and knees. She felt that she’d gone far enough and could feel her heart pounding as she gently hide the bloody knife in one of the hay bales. With the greatest of care, she ever so slowly backed out of the shed. The couple slumbered on peacefully as she cautiously replaced the loose board.
She moved with stealth back away from the barn before quickly spinning on her heel and racing to get to where the horses were stabled. She quickly picked up a bridle and grabbed a horse from its stall. Throwing a blanket over its back, she led it over to a trough which she used to quickly mount up. Quietly urging the horse forward, she left the farm and once she felt that she was a safe enough distance, she dug her heels into the animal’s flanks and spurred it into a gallop.
Talwyn and Jhaelystra slept deeply for a few hours before stirring. With a sleepy smile, Jhaelystra slowly stretched her arms and rolled over to look at her husband. He looked so peaceful laying there sleeping. She reached out and gently brushed the hair back from his forehead. He stirred from his doze, his eyes opening as she caressed his cheek, tracing the line of his jaw. He smiled at her and took her hand, placed it to his lips and kissed her finger tips.
“Mmm ladyfingers…very tasty,” he said as he nipped gently on her fingers with his strong white teeth.
“Hey! I’m no food scraps for you to snack off,” she said with a raised eyebrow as she withdrew her hand. She sat up, her fine long hair cascading down her coal dark shoulders. Talwyn lay back admiring her sublime beauty. She was close to perfection in female form he thought. She looked down on him with an askance smile.
“Do you wish to lay there all day and stare at my breasts then husband?”
“Absolutely!” he said with a feral grin as his hand snaked up over her belly and latched onto her breast, tweaking a nipple quickly. She flinched and squealed with mock outrage.
“Oooohhh you vith vigh fuer’yon! I’ll have your n’abyl off if you dare do that again!”
Her eyes blazed with amused outrage and her lips curled into a wry smirk as she rounded on him, launching herself on top of him. Her hands dug into his ribs and she started biting his neck and shoulders playfully as he thrashed underneath her. She tried to grab at his groin but he grabbed both of her hands very quickly and held him in his powerful grip and with a flick, he spun her over and was on top of her in an instant.
“That’s not fair! You’re too strong,” she sulkily pouted.
“Ahh but I thought you Drow respected strength,” he replied as he pinned her arms down with ease. She stopped struggling and gave him long sultry look, running her tongue over her lips suggestively.
“Yes my most nygurath m’randii. You are my senger lu’ jabbuk,” she said demurely.
Talwyn looked down at her underneath him, the feel of her skin was like silk and the contrast between his pale skin and her dusky coal dark skin always gave him pleasure.
“Powerful husband, lord & master, am I eh? That’s what nygurath m’randii & senger lu’ jabbuk mean isn’t it?” he said as he released his grip on her and sat back, letting her rise up and sit across from him. She nodded with an approving smile.
“Very good my love although your accent is most barbarous, your grasp of my language is coming along nicely. Perhaps there is hope for you yet? I may not have married a sex mad human moron after all,” she quipped with a sardonic grin. He rolled his eyes with a snort.
“Dos phu’ neitar aluin belbau ussa lil’ falduna nindel usstan rytho'le 'chev 'ranndi,” he said carefully, making sure he got the accent right this time. Her expression softened and her eyes glowed with love as she reached over to stroke his cheek with a caress as she knelt up, took his face in her hands and lowered it between her breasts, hugging him.
“Of course I am going to give you the praise you deserve beloved husband,” she whispered as she stroked his back lightly with her nails, sending shivers down his spine.
“That was perfect beloved, perfect,” she said with a hint of pride in her voice. She’d been teaching him her language now for almost a year and he’d made great progress. It was something she hadn’t asked him to do but he said he wanted to so that he could understand her better and it would bring them closer together. At first she’d been dismissive of it, thinking he’d not persist with her lessons but he was an attentive student and it wasn’t long before they could converse in basic sentences or baby talk as she irreverently said just to tease him. He lifted his head up from her chest and kissed her slowly. She soon pulled away and looked at him with a coy grin.
“Want to go again do you lover? Think you’ve got enough energy to satisfy a drow princess of a noble house hmm?” she said seductively as she looked at him with lowered eyes as she tilted her head to one side.
“Mmm…let me think about it for a moment. I suppose I could fit you in for another bout of dam good bonking my little dark maiden of desire,” he replied casually. “That is if no one better comes along.”
“Huh! No one better indeed, what a cheek you have Talwyn Aureliano! Come here and I’ll show you there’s no one better than your wife,” she said in a throaty sensual growl as she pulled him down again. “No one better indeed,” she gasped as they began to make love again.
Marial rode hard, pushing the horse to its limits. She galloped into the village crying out, “Murder! A Drow has murdered my husband! MURDER!”
She didn’t stop as people came tumbling out of their houses, she headed straight for the village chapel where Father Nathel would be. She hauled savagely and the reigns, stopping the exhausted horse and leaped off. Running up, she pounded on the chapel doors crying out her lament and for Father Nathel to come out. The villagers, came running up shouting out their questions to Marial but she ignored them all.
Father Nathel heard the wailing and pounding at his chapel door and pulled on his cassock quickly. Grabbing his staff, he hurried to the door, opening it with a concerned frown on his weathered face.
“Oh Father Nathel, terrible things have happened. My Grentham has been murdered by a foul drow bitch. She’s bewitched a paladin of Torm as well to be her slave!” screamed Marial hysterically. She had worked herself up into a frenzy of recrimination. Her wild ride had also down its job in making her appears as though she’d barely escaped death.
‘By Helm! Foul deeds and demons are afoot in our peaceful lands,” thundered Nathel with indignant fury upon hearing Marials sobbing tale of woe. He saw the village bailiff Duncan come ruining up with his two men at arms close behind him.
“Duncan my lad, to arms! We have righteous and bloody work ahead of us my boy! You and your stout men will be needed to help me dispatch this menace to our peaceful community,” he exulted.
“Rightyho yer worship. Me ‘n tha lads be ready ta set off inna jiffy, ain’t that right lads,” responded Duncan enthusiastically. His two men nodded with eager anticipation. This was at last something real and exciting. Normally they would be riding the shire boundaries making sure that no bandits or monsters had crossed the lands. Duncan was well versed in trail craft and had retired from adventuring a few years back to settle down here with his family. He turned to his men.
“Alright Wilf, Charlie, you lads got get tha horses. Open tha armoury in me house and bring out the special chest I told ya about. If its drow we be facing, we d’nae wanna take any chances. They be nasty buggers ‘n spell flingers ta boot! We gotta strike hard ‘n fast ‘n show nae mercy as tha drow’d cut yer throat inna flash ‘n smile while she were doin’ it,” he said with a grim look on his hardened face.
“I must go to my sanctum and pray to Helm for the blessings required to protect you and your men Duncan and also to help remove the bewitching from the paladin. I will beseech Helm to lend his divine fire as I call it down to smite the wretched Drow who has murdered our dear brother Grentham. Now then Marial, Sister Krissa of Ilmater was visiting the Leeming Family this day and will be back in a short while to comfort you in this time of great sorrow you are facing. In the mean time, my verger Baldock will ensure you are cared for here in the chapel,” added Nathel indicating to Baldock to take Marial inside and see to her needs.
A sizable crowd had gathered by now as word of mouth had spread like wildfire through the sleepy village of Grentham’s death and the Drow on his farm. They were becoming an angry mob but heeded the words of their priest without questions. Holding up his hands and calling for calm, he spoke in a loud and resonant voice to his flock,
"Brethren, you have heard the shocking news that poor sister Marial has told us of the terrible fate that has befallen Grentham. I ask the able bodied men of the village gather up their weapons and meet with Duncan and his men on the edge of the village in one hour. There we will set forth and deliver Helms justice to the foul Drow interloper!”
They crowd roared with approval at Father Nathel's commands. They quickly scattered, rushing back to their homes to dig out old weapons and bits of armour. Wives and mothers nagged their husbands and sons to be careful but made sure that they were as ready as they could be.
Father Nathel returned to his sanctum, knelt down and prayed to Helm with all his heart for the blessings he needed.
An hour went by before he arose from his prayers. Fortified with Helms power, he felt years younger. At last he would do justice once more in Helms name. He loved being the priest to this village as it was peaceful and law abiding however he yearned for his younger days when he took the fight to evil things that threatened life like this. Now his blood was up and he had a righteous cause to champion in Helms name once more. Glorious he thought has he struggled into his armour.
“Not so tight Baldock!” he complained as his verger helped him strap on his breastplate.
“I can’t help it sir. The straps must have shrunk,” replied Baldock diplomatically as Nathel groaned against the constrictions of the breastplate was placing on his ample frame.
“It can’t be helped then, just do the best you can,” wheezed Nathel as he stumbled out of the Chapel resplendent in his platemail, his mace and shield once more by his side. He muttered that he would have to stop eating Mrs Figgis’ delicious meat pies if he was to hope to do this on a regular basis. Oh the sacrifices he’d have to make in order to protect his flock.
He waddled awkwardly over to where the militia and Duncan and his henchmen had gathered. He smiled fondly at them all and held aloft the symbol of Helm for all to see. The assembled men gave a rousing cheer as they saw their priest armed for battle, presenting the Holy symbol they adored. A draft horse was brought forward and mounting steps were placed along side it as Father Nathel had to be helped into the saddle. Duncan was clad in shining scale mail and his henchmen were encased in splint. The villagers were mostly unarmoured although some had leather armour and the occasional one had a shirt of mail. They had a bewildering array of weapons at hand, from hunting spears and bows, to glaives and scythes and a few had war axes and swords. All up there were 40 gathered, including Duncan and his men. A good number thought Nathel. He took the reigns of his steed and nudged it forward with a gentle kick of his heels.
“Follow me my brethren, Helms Justice will be done!” intoned Father Nathel with holy fervour shining in his eyes. A cheer went up from the crowd and the set out for Grentham’s farm. The march would take the best part of the afternoon to reach their destination, at least a few hours.
Jhaelystra stirred from her slumber. She felt Talwyn’s arm was flung across her chest as he laid face down, snoring lightly. She smirked to herself as he always insisted he didn’t snore but she knew better. Carefully she slid out from under his right arm and wriggled out of their bedding. Standing up, shr ran her hands through her hair, untangling the knots and kinks that’d had formed after their second session of lovemaking.
She stood there naked as she fussed over her hair. A snuffling sound snapped her attention to her waking husband. He rolled over blinking sleepily as he woke up.
“By Torms blood woman, I swear you’ll wear me out on of these days,” he yawned as he rubbed his eyes.
“Are you saying you’re unfit to be my husband? If this is the case then you will have to train harder, do more strength building exercises and increase your stamina male.” She turned about and faced him, her hands on her hips and gave him a challenging stare with a hint of a smile gracing her sensual lips. “I won’t be saddled with an inferior specimen of manhood, by the goddess no. I want the father of my children to be of prime stock, the best physical subject that there is,” she declared as she cast an amused glance at the woozy looking man as he struggled to sit up. Talwyn rolled his eyes and ignored her jibes and teasing. There were times when she really could be irritating with her constant prattle that came from her Drow culture about superiority. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he sighed deeply, exhaling before gathering up the blanket that’d had been covering them.
“Jhaelystra, what do you think I am? Some sort of best prize rutting bull whose only purpose is to breed and look impressive?” He gave her a frank look. He could see she was still in one of her mercurial moods, determined to play and be fey.
“Mooooo!” She made cow noises at him, mocking him and giggling. Shaking his head, he bunched the blanket into a ball and threw it at her. Dodging easily, it flew past her head and landed in the straw bales near the far wall.
“Yes, a useless bull with no sense of aim either,” she crowed in delight cackling away to herself. Her eyes gleamed with mischievous glee. She went to fetch the blanket. Bending down to pick it up, she suddenly smelt the faint metallic sickly sweet smell of blood. She sniffed again, then sneezed loudly due to the dust and straw but she rubbed her nose, she could now definitely smell blood. She glanced about for a moment, her eyes narrowing as she looked around at the hay bales in front of her.
“What are you doing you ushdui j'nesst?”
“Shh m'ranndii, I smell blood here,” she said in a low voice. She rummaged around the hay bales before suddenly feeling the handle of the knife that Marial had stashed there earlier. She withdrew the now sticky straw and blood encrusted carving knife with a frown on her beautiful face.
“Talwyn my love, something is wrong, very wrong,” she said pensively as she came over to where he was standing. He saw the grisly item she held in her hands and frowned deeply as he examined the murder weapon. He was about to speak when she interrupted him.
“M'ranndii, haven’t you noticed that the farm is unusually quiet?” She looked up and glanced about, noting the level of light outside.
“You’re right darling. It’s now late in the afternoon and yet the area is quiet. Surely we’d have heard something by now?” He had a concerned look on his face as he began to dress quickly. Pulling on a shirt and trousers, he quickly strapped his belt on and donned his mail shirt. “We must investigate this Jhae. Something is not right at all on Grentham’s farm.”
She nodded in agreement and quickly set about getting dressed. Talwyn fastened his laces on his boots as she slipped into her suit of gleaming elvan chain which she’d hurriedly retrieved from her bag of holding. Not bothering to put on her boots, she grabbed her small mace and joined her man by the shed doors. He quietly slid the door open, peering cautiously outside. Seeing nothing but a lone chicken making its way across the dusty farm yard, he stepped out of the hay shed, Jhaelystra close behind.
They stood still for a few moments, their eyes searching about the farm looking for potential signs of danger. Seeing nothing they carefully began to make their way over to the homestead. The noticed that the front door was open, loosely moving on its hinges in the late afternoon breeze.
“Hello? Grentham? Marial? Is anyone home?” Talwyn called out into the house loudly. Silence was the reply. He turned and looked gravely at his wife. “I’ll go first my love, watch my back for me,” he said quietly as he slid his long sword out from its scabbard. She nodded and quietly intoned a small blessing on them both from Eilistraee.
“Quar'valsharess, sslig'ne ussta m'ranndii lu'Usstan dal jivviim,” she chanted quietly as Talwyn slowly made his way up the steps and through the front door. She felt Eilistraee’s blessing gently wash over them as he entered the darkened & still house. Letting his eyes grow accustom to the gloom, he looked about carefully before advancing inside. He heard the low buzzing of many flies as he made his way through the main room and began to smell something bad. Stepping cautiously forward, he muttered a word and his long sword began to glow faintly blue, casting an eerie glow about the deathly quiet house. Heading to where the smell emanated from, he turned a corner and found himself in the kitchen. The hum of blowflies was much louder here as they droned about in lazy circles.
Holding his left hand over his mouth and nose, he stepped around the kitchen table.
There lay Grentham covered in blowflies and in a pool of congealed blood. His body had curled into a rigid posture and his face was a twisted mask of horror, his dead glazed eyes staring hollowly up at the ceiling.
“By the Loyal Fury…” muttered Talwyn as he looked over Grenthams body. Jhaelystra had followed him in and peeked around his shoulder to see the grisly scene. She hissed slowly, her eyes narrowing in anger at the murder of the kind man who’d brought them into his home.
“How did this happen and where is that dumpy nasty wife of his?” she muttered as she waved a fly away that flew into her face.
Talwyn shook his head negatively and shrugged his shoulders as he carefully looked on the floor near where the blood had pooled. He knelt down, peering intently on the floor and at the body.
“He was ambushed from behind, a single slash to the throat. The killer backed off quickly and left him to die. Almost no blood was on the killer however I can see a small mark must have gotten on the killers shoe as it leads out to the back door,” he said as he followed the faint smudged blood trail outside where it ended in the dirt. Jhaelystra followed him outside. Her head came up sharply and her ears twitched slightly.
“Mrannd'ssinss, Usstan shlu'ta nym'uer folbol,” she said warily as she scanned the horizon in the fast fading light.
Talwyn paused and carefully looked outside the farmhouse. He trusted his wife’s senses more than his own and if she thought she heard something, she probably had. He indicated to her in sign language that they should move with caution. She responded by gaving him a look she normally reserved when imbeciles and foolish children but it changed and flashed into a dazzling tender smile briefly. Of course she would be careful, what a silly male her husband is she thought but he is so endearing at times.
The sun had almost dipped below the horizon and the shadows had lengthened considerably. Twilight was fading fast and soon it’d be dark. Glancing out a grubby window, she thought she caught a hint of movement over by the weed covered fence that bordered the fields across from the house. Talwyn looked to where she indicated and peered intently outside. He shook his head and gestured for them to leave the farm house.
He opened the front door slowly, waited for a silent count of ten before moving outside with caution. Jhaelystra was right behind him, tightly gripping her small mace in her left hand. A growing sense of unease like the feeling of being watched suddenly welled up within her. After almost 80 years living in the Underdark and surviving numerous attempts on her life, this had honed her sense of precognition to threats. Her survival instinct took over and before she even knew what she was doing, she’d pushed Talwyn down to the ground and flung out a globe of darkness in front of them while diving to her left. She felt the rush of air of objects moving at incredible speeds and heard the sharp crack of crossbow bolts striking the doorframe just behind where they’d been standing moments before.
They both heard an erruption of a roar of voices raised in battle cries and raucous shouts. Talwyn quickly rolled to the left, sprung to his feet as Jhaelystra began chanting. The globe of darkness had obscured the view in front of them but off to the right, he could see figures running towards them waving weapons. Jhaelystra turned and flung out her right hand and shouted, “Cress!” Strands of web flew from her outstretched hand and quickly covered the right side of the porch and spread out onto the ground surrounding the house. The leading figures charged into the sticky webbing and became ensnared it is adhesive embrace.
“Time to go my love,” said Talwyn as he took her hand. Running down the left side of the house, they sprinted away from the charging assailants. Vaulting the railing of the porch, they hit the ground and continued to run for the hayshed where their gear was.