Riddles in the Dark: Delorwyn Lle'quellas

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Kilaana
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Riddles in the Dark: Delorwyn Lle'quellas

Postby Kilaana » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:15 am

Prologue

He awoke with a start, becoming slowly aware of the smell of burning wood and a murmur of guttural voices. Something felt hard yet soft under him - a crumpled bedroll spread out on a bench. The ceiling formed a shadowy arc overhead, and it seemed to move; swaying and creaking gently in a slight wind. A scent of roasting meat reminded him in sickening waves of his gnawing hunger, and igniting a thundering pain in his head.

His belongings lay in a heap just across from him. It would take less than a moment to reach them and be on his way - wherever he was - but then he fell back suddenly just as he put out an arm, cursing the weakness that suffused his body, making him feel like a sapling at the foot of a mighty oak.

When he crawled into the low doorway a few minutes later, clutching his longbow and pack, the blindingly orange glow of a campfire and smell of unwashed bodies nearly made him throw up.

Faces turned towards him. They stopped their eating and talking momentarily to register the movement, then as they saw who it was, interest shifted back to the more pressing comforts of food and company. One of them, a rotund fellow in a brown jerkin, beckoned at him.

"Finally up, are you? Didn't think you'd make it, to be honest, the way we found you on the road." He waved his bottle to the left, directing Delorwyn's attention to the tents and what looked like a large wooden gate beyond. " 'Fraid you're gonna have to clear off before the night's over; we got business to do, and the way you're looking, friend, you're better off in an inn."
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Re: Riddles in the Dark: Delorwyn Lle'quellas

Postby Kilaana » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:15 am

Rebirth

1355 DR - 1st Eleint

Reverie had come to him after what seemed like an endless hour; in watery shades of dark and light, with visions of a mist-laden river and shapeless forms moving restlessly against a landscape devoid of any recognisable beauty. The dream was somehow familiar, with a vague sense of déjà vu. Somewhere in the middle of the night he came to awareness again for the third time, before slipping back into the clutches of reverie, sprawled ungainly on the bed as a drunkard might.

Morning found Delorwyn on his feet as soon as the sky shed its midnight cloak, wearing the colors of dawn. The water from the nightstand was cool against his skin, washing away the last traces of cobwebs from his mind and bringing the present into sharp focus. The elf that gazed back at him in the mirror looked the same as it had always been, that was some small reassurance, and his muscles were beginning their slow road to recovery. Stark naked, he stood for a while flexing his long, elegant fingers, watching the movements of his arms and the turn of his head, his eyes going over every inch of his body until the confidence to step outside of the inn room returned. He made his way downstairs quietly and entered the largely empty hall.

The day came and went, but the passage of time seemed to barely register in his mind as he sat in a corner with a cup of red wine. Expensive, foul-tasting, waste of coin. He reprimanded himself bitterly for the impulse.

When the wine ran dry, he decided at last it was time to go. Pushing himself away from the table, he headed for the door and stepped out into a humid evening. His attention was caught momentarily by the streaks of pink, orange and purplish-blue of a sunset sky, his thoughts snatched by footsteps approaching.

"Hello there," the man said, squinting at him. The words sounded thick with an accent of the north-coast regions to Delorwyn's ears. The man looked like one of the locals, with faint dusky tones to the otherwise fair skin typical of those along the Sword Coast; short-cropped hair and a clipped beard. There was a look about him that Delorwyn had seen on others. A casual sort of camaderie that military personnel often carried. If anything, it was a common trait he enjoyed observing among humans, a front they liked to have in order to get along with the general population. "Don't think I've seen you around here."

"Nor I, you," Delorwyn replied softly. "I came with the caravan."

The man gave a sort of grunt. "Road north's not safe, if you are headed there. Anyway, many pass through here. You won't be the first or the last."

At Delorwyn's questioning glance, the man thumbed towards the door of the inn he had just exited from. "Come on then. Name's Bram. We'll talk more inside."
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Re: Riddles in the Dark: Delorwyn Lle'quellas

Postby Kilaana » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:16 am

1355 DR - 4th Eleint

The coin had been much needed, for most of what remained in his pouches had either been filched - presumably when he had been found by the caravan troupe - or spent on food, cheap wine and an inn room. Tonight had proved that despite more than a century of sharp-shooting, whatever existence he had previously fell from was intent on punishing him for his labours, until he had succumbed to its demands for rest. As the group of four escorted kin-cousin Celduil out of the ruins, his longbow felt like a deadweight in his hands. By the time they reached the gate at Barrow Fields* he was already dragging his feet, and when they had located the temple the halfling Davis was talking about, he felt sorely inclined to speak with the human priest himself.

Instead, he agreed to join the others at the White Stag Inn, where they would meet in the morning and continue as planned, into the dry white waste that covered this cursed part of the land. His reasons for being there were his own, though he suspected no less selfish or truly noble than that of his journey-companions. The White Stag was no better than the Way Inn; a squat, hulking mass of stone and painted brick with windows that glared over the street like a monstrous beast lurking near unfortunate prey who dared come near it. It seemed to him that every human building seemed to mimic a similar design, only varying in width and height, with no forethought as to elegance in construction, or consideration of how such dwellings would serve the environment. As long as it was convenient, he decided, for them to get to Point A and Point B, they would build where they wished it, with the same carelessness they often lived their brief lives out.

The sheets here were slightly cleaner, but even that did not bring a smile to Delorwyn's lips as he sank himself into the welcoming depths of reverie.


*Footnote: Barrow Fields, the White Stag Inn and the Way Inn are properties of the Way Inn persistent world. Creative liberty has been taken to bridge the gap years between that (of which existence is much later than TER's) and the current setting's year.
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Re: Riddles in the Dark: Delorwyn Lle'quellas

Postby Kilaana » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:18 am

1292 DR - Evereska


Autumn had come early this year. Several feet below in the valley, lights from faerie-fire glimmered in a myriad of colors on the terraced hills. The air pulsed with anticipation of the Harvest Celebration, and this year would be no less spectacular.

"You are quiet, arael vas," Avylyar murmured beside him, stroking his chest where the golden robes lay loosely open. "Have I displeased you?"

His eyes fixed on the darkening horizon beyond the wide balcony, it was some moments before he replied. "No, of course not." He turned to gaze down at the golden-haired elf curled up at his side, captivated yet again by her smooth, bronzed-skin beauty. "I am glad to be here," He assured her with a warm smile.

Avylyar pulled away with a girlish pout; he watched as she slid off the reclining couch in one fluid movement, tossing her long hair as she stretched, cat-like, offering a full view of her naked back. Though she was nearly two centuries older, Avylyar was still breathtaking. He continued watching as her nimble fingers plucked a few grapes from a crystal bowl on the pedestal nearby, a thin wine cup in the other hand; Avylyar crossed the marbled expanse of the high chamber and stopped at the wide, rounded balcony, her head upturned to the twilight sky.

"You will catch a cold," he called lightly, leaning back against the couch. He loved her when she was like this; Avylyar knew how to tease - more importantly, she knew how to put a smile on his face.

She didn't reply.

"I'm spent, Avylyar. You know that. I have crossed mountains and seas just to be with you again," he leaned over to pour himself some wine.

She kept her back to him. When she spoke, the playfulness in her voice had cooled. "Perhaps you will remember then the compromises I have made to have you here."

Pride made him close his eyes and plead guilty to himself. When he could no longer bear the silence, he got up and set the wine down, picked up the discarded coverlet on the couch and moved to join her, scooping her up in an embrace behind with the soft blanket. That wrought a laugh from her - rich, deep and exuberant - and they kissed passionately until both withdrew to catch their breath.

"You are my heart, Delorwyn," she whispered against his lips. "And you always have been, since you were but a young leaf blown in the wind, never to see your Father and Mother again. Then you became arael'sha and arael'vae, and I gave you all that I had to protect you from the wildstorms of fate."

He embraced her again and kissed her ear. "Yes...yes, you did."

She stroked her fingers on his cheek, a caress that held his attention to her. "I gave you life when your mother could not."

He welcomed the sensation, allowed it to descend into that whirlpool of pleasant oblivion. "You were faithful in your duty, Osi'Nys."

"Then I will speak now as your kin, and you must trust that I speak only with you in my heart," she whispered.

"Must we now...?" Avylyar was intoxicating when she wanted to be. She pulled away again with that girlish laugh, though it sounded a little strained. He let her go, unable to resist her joy; he smiled too. Instead, she crossed the large chamber to the double-doors leading to the rest of the tower, her bare feet making hardly a sound on the cool marble floor. Avylyar yanked the door open, and a startled guardsman scrambled for attention.

"Send it in," she said in curt, arrogant tones. The blanket fell past her shoulders, exposing much more than the guardsman would have needed to see. The latter, despite decades of instilled discipline, muttered a reply and hurried off.

Delorwyn tied the robe around his waist and stood watching. The moment had shifted, and he knew, from years spent around Avylyar, that when she got like this, it was better to listen and wait than to question her. A footman knocked and entered at Avylyar's answer. "Your Grace," he bowed deeply, and presented a slim gold tube no larger than an eating knife.

"Leave us now," she commanded. The footman bowed and shut the double-doors behind him. She crossed the chamber back to Delorwyn and placed the receptacle in his hand, looking at him expectantly.

"What is this?" he asked heavily. Even before the question was out of his mouth, he knew, but as always, he felt compelled to hear it from Avylyar's lips. The object fitted in the palm of his hand, its weight felt keenly.

She adjusted the coverlet around herself, but it did little more than to make her seem so much more desirable. "Last winter, a group was spotted at the border of Hullack Forest, bearing supplies from Arabel. Among these are what our scouts have reported to be precious cargo - it is our hope that by the time you reach them, some of it will still be alive."

Delorwyn frowned, all intentions of another night with Avylyar fading rapidly. "Am I to go alone?" He realized a second later the slight petulance in his tone, but it was too late to retract that now.

She slid up to him, winding her soft arms around his neck for an embrace. "You shall have Corellon's starlight with you, arael'vae, and you only need to speak what you wish, and you will have the numbers you need, as Osi'Nys has always provided for you."


*Every elven tongue has its own dialect but these terms are universally applied to their intended meaning (via Candlekeep):

Arael’Sha – 'Heart Friend'
Arael’Vae – 'Heart Son'
Osi’Nys – ‘Aunt’ (Sister of Mother)
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Re: Riddles in the Dark: Delorwyn Lle'quellas

Postby Kilaana » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:18 am

1292 DR - Hullack Forest


Night had fallen fast over the woods. By dusk, the squadron of three archers and two footmen led by Delorwyn Le'Quellas had reached the other side of the ridge where the encampment stood in the valley below, half a mile from a deep, still lake. In this part of Cormyr, old oak and maple formed the densest parts of this primeval forest; each vying in stiff competition for sunlight, with many giving way to the strongest victor - the lichen and the moss - their dying, leafless branches covered in trailing curtains of carpet green. Flowers did not grow often here except for bluebell patches in the spring, and even then, they disappeared quickly under the ground earlier than their cousins would in other parts of the land. Humans seldom ventured too deep into the Hullack except for the brave or the foolish, for Cormyrian folktales of odd creatures, ghostly visages, orc and goblinfolk abounded on every tongue.

The message from Avylyar had contained a scout's brief description of the defenses together with an outline of the camp; an abandoned human settlement on the edge of where the deep forest began next to a forgotten road, once belonging to a titled family. The manor had long since been cleared of its valuables, though nature had taken over the site, most of the manor's grandeur could still be glimpsed in the remnants of intricate glasswork still clinging from the upper-storey windows. Aside from the few tents propped up near the main entrance and the large supply wagon near an old iron gate, little else remained by way of fortification. A patrol of two had been set up to change every hour. The scout's remark had estimated at least a band of twenty men, mercenary types who wore no visible mark of allegiance. As for their cargo, none had been sighted since the days after their arrival. A border had been drawn around the camp on the parchment, indicating a distinct possibility of traps set around the perimeter.

Disabling the traps were a simple matter of dispelling a series of sonic wards designed to alert those inside the compound and not to intruders. Thaltas, his second-in-command, made sure of that. Like clockwork, the squad of seven stormed the gate, taking down the patrol and three others in the guardhouse as they fell to swift arrows and invisible swords that silenced their fall. It was by surprise still, when more arrows found others gathered around a table in the main hall, their supper nearly finished. Frantic shouts echoed through the building as the remaining men who were slow to realize scrambled to draw defenses even as the elven squad swept over them like a small cloud of wasps, arrows flying and mithral blades cutting.

"There is something below," said Illistan, his second archer, as he came running back through a long corridor that led past the back kitchens. "A cellar, or some sort of holding, but the way is dark. I did not venture too far yet."

Delorwyn nodded. "Take watch upstairs with two others. Thaltas has control of the ground floor. I shall not be long."

Illistan had been right. Delorwyn counted a hundred and one steps as he descended the stairwell, which meant that this was no cellar but something designed to keep hidden, or under lock and key. Why or what, that question was for another time. The corridor was lit by a single torch, its oil-soaked head on the verge of burning out. Delorwyn kept his back to the wall as he crept towards the door at the far end, his boots barely making a whisper against the dust-ridden rubble on the ground. Once his eyes had adjusted to the dark, it was as Illistan said - a heavy wooden door with a grated window at the top. Through it, his eyes could pick out the glow of firelight and moving shadows. A cell formed half of the chamber; through that door, he glimpsed a familiar figure lying amidst a handful of humans, bound at the wrists and ankles, gagged and unmoving in the darkened corners. Among those, Filanae, his sister, still dressed in the robes of her day but lacking the jewels that usually adorned her hair. She was thinner than he remembered her last, with bruises along her bare arms and her clothing ripped to rags. The rancid hay-strewn ground around her appeared much darker than the rest in the cell. Then his eyes caught the rivulets of blood winding down the slender legs whose bare feet he remembered running along the river on a warm summer's day.

The humans had been talking.

"...-drowned whore makes more noise than that."

"You're a sick bastard, Gelt."

"Fuck me then. Ten silvers if you can make 'er scream."

"Do better than that. I'll make her holler. Third time's the charm, Gelt. That'll teach the little bitch to bite me."

The larger of the two shadows lumbered over to the cell. The door cranked open, and Filanae was dragged out like a rag-doll by the leg. She attempted to kick weakly, and was rewarded with a sharp slap to the face. The human had barely got his trousers down when the door to the chamber exploded in a blinding burst of cold-flame as Delorwyn triggered the trap with a well-placed strike. The first arrow hit home - it cracked the skull cleanly, the little yellow fletch sticking out between beady human eyes, killing instantly. The second arrow lodged itself in the palm of Gelt's right hand as he reached for the scabbard lying on the table. Then Gelt found himself sitting back in his chair, staring helplessly into a pair of cold blue eyes as he struggled between the agonizing pain in his hand and the vice-like grip on his throat.

"If you wish to walk from here, speak the name of the one you serve," Delorwyn whispered.

The man Gelt made a sound, shivering and licking bared, foul-smelling teeth. "Fuck you." His sharp, weasley face went red with the effort to breathe. He drew another strangled breath.

Delorwyn removed his hand from Gelt's neck, and the man promptly screamed as the elf's blade sliced a path clean between his legs, separating clothed manhood from body. A pool of blood formed steadily beneath the dripping, open wound.

"Very well," said Delorwyn in barely a whisper. "I can do without a name. But are you sorry for what you have done to this Tel'Quessir?" He gestured to the prisoners.

"S-s-sorr-sorry....!" Gelt babbled, too shocked to weep, he trembled and stared at the wet lump on the floor, the pain in his hand temporarily forgotten. "S-sorry...! Sorrysorrysorryyy.....s-s-ssorr.....s-sorry...."

Delorwyn nodded, his eyes an unfathomable shade of blue. "Yes, you are sorry." He reached out and grasped Gelt's hair in his hand, tilting his head back so the man was forced to look at him again. "But this day, your pleas to the gods fall on deaf ears," he murmured.

The blade cut clean as it always did.

He left the head to rot along with the rest of it.
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht


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