You have been arrested!
Thanks Mr. Popup! I had no idea, what with the dressed in rags. The chains on my wrists were a clue, as were the door made of bars. Just what in the hell did I do while logged off to get arrested? “OI! WHAT IN THE HELL’S GOIN’ ON?!” I yelled, and almost immediately a drakeling showed up at the cell doors.
“Quit yer yelling.” He snarled.
“Just what did I do while asleep that caused y’all to arrest me? If I ate something, I’ll gladly pay for it.”
“Enough. I’m supposed to take you to the actin’ captain for questionin’ as soon as ya woke up. Stand away from the door and turn around.” I did what he said, and felt something click to a metal collar I hadn’t noticed around my neck. The door clanged open, and he gave me more directions. “Back out slowly. We’re going down the hall, and it’ll be the last door on the right.”
I headed down the hallway as directed, not that there was a lot to see. The stone walls all seemed to be made of one solid block, with the occasional torch to give light for those who didn’t have a version of darkvision. The door opened on its own when we arrived, and there was a slightly frazzled looking drakeling organizing piles of papers behind the desk. Paperwork, the bane of those who get stuff done in every world.
“Sit.” The captain said tersely, pointing to the lone chair in the middle of the room. As soon as I sat down, the guard behind me clapped a golden bracer on my forearm. It was fairly plain, save for the massive clear stone on the side of it. I could tell that it wasn’t a diamond, but that was about it.
“Just enchanted glass.” The captain spoke, seeing me eye the gem.
“Enchanted to do, what exactly?” This was getting weird. Really weird.
“It reacts to how much you tell the truth. Flat out lie, and it glows red. Bend the truth, purposely omit things, or use vague language and it’ll glow yellow. Truth gets you the green.”
“Heh, there’s a big weakness to yer enchantment then.” I said, remembering all the stories of truth spells in the past games I had played. “What if I tell it what I believe to be truth, but I just so happen to be wrong?”
“That’s why we don’t rely solely on the stone, but thank you for pointing that out nonetheless. Now, before we get sidetracked any further, I am acting guard captain Shrik. You are the adventurer known as Grimlet, yes?”
“Yep.” I said to a green glow. “But why are you the acting captain, and what happened to the regular captAAAAGH!” I gargled the last of that as a small shock was delivered to my neck.
“Grimlet. You seem to be under the impression that you get to ask questions. That was a little reminder that you don’t. What are you in the city for?”
“Building a tomb for the bones of a dwarf to rest in.” I answered immediately, getting a completely green glow. The captain furrowed his brow at this, and I wondered just what in the hell was going on.
“What do you know of the plans of the three humans that accompanied you?”
“They are supposed to be my bodyguards, nothing more.”
“How do you know them?”
“They’re in the same guild as me, Breaking Dawn.” Just what in the hells had those idiots done? Bodyguards my ass, Goliath had to be up to something. I hope it was just a little wandering in a restricted area.
“You had nothing to do with the innkeeper’s death?”
“Death? What? No. Nononononono. I did nothing and had no idea of any plans to kill anyone, I swear!” Counting my lucky stars, the gem glowed green.
“You are very lucky then, master dwarf.” The captain nodded to someone behind me, and I felt the release of the collar around my neck. “We will remove the shackles momentarily, but I have some words of warning for you. And you as well, Master Faraldo.” Turning in panic, I saw the dwarf master alchemist sitting where I couldn’t see him when I walked in, sadly looking at the floor. “Your guildmembers, people who you had vouched for, were seen killing the innkeeper Alnoss in cold blood. Despite his grief, Captain Khaliss recognized that he was in no position to investigate the murder of his mate. He put me in charge, and on the recommendation of a fellow drakeling, you were given this chance. I see now that Angus was right at least about you, Master Faraldo, but you being innocent in this makes me very glad I took his advice. Now, I find you innocent on the count of murder. However, your party has broken trust with the drakelings. As such, I am banishing you from entering our city. You will be teleported to the alchemists guild, with all of your possessions. Take them away, gently.”
I stood up, and walked side by side with Master Faraldo down the hallway. As we were marched through the city, nearly every person gave us a wide berth and glared daggers at us. “I’m sorry about all this Master Faraldo.”
“Tis not yer fault, lad. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that I was put into a precarious positon by me own guildmates. How can I possibly hold something like that against ya?” We walked the rest of the way in silence, though I was fuming as I sent a message off to Goliath demanding an explanation.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
After I had gotten the notification from Lolth, I wandered the city for a bit. Finding an empty corner, I threw up a simple, one-room building with stone manipulation. There were a few windows for ventilation, and the simple door was on a swivel and simply molded back into the wall to hold it shut. Aside from that, I didn’t have the energy or drive to make anything else. I entered my new hovel and logged out, unable to even think of going back to the inn.
I tried to go to sleep, but it was impossible. I spent nearly an hour sobbing, thinking of Alnoss. No matter what happened, I could always count on her to be happy when she saw me. Even when she pretended to be angry, there was always a hint of mischief about it. Once my tears dried, I tossed and turned for another few hours. Every time I got comfortable, I would see her face with those daggers poking out from her chest. Eventually I gave up, and wandered my digital apartment for a while. I settled for a bowl of cold cereal, and decided to get back in the game. I was really in no condition to be talking with a goddess, but what the hell. I needed a good distraction.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Lolth, take me to your city.” I spoke clearly, and a bluish portal appeared in front of me. Stepping through, I found myself in a large city lit by multiple colors of fae fires. Facing me were two gigantic statues of spiders, and between them a gate into a complex with three large buildings. Two male drow were guarding the gate, and as I walked closer, they barred the way with their halberds.
“No entrance for filthy slaves.” One sneered, and I snapped. With a glare, four spears of rock speared the drow. Each one received a spear per shoulder, and the stone lifted them and curled back into the wall, forming a seamless hoop that held their screaming bodies.
“[Binding shadow chains].” I spoke, and dark chains wrapped around the one who called me a slave. With but a thought, blades formed on the chains, severing several important tendons and ligaments. “Reflect on this moment for the rest of your hopefully long life as a cripple.” I snarled. “Perhaps you will learn to recognize those that are your betters. I’ll even give you a clue: when you see someone arrive in the city of Lolth through a portal, they are your better.”
As I neared the gate, I activated [Mystic vision]. Stopping a few feet away, I pointedly stared at the two invisible drow who were in an attack pose, rear arms parallel to their shoulders. “I’m already in a bad mood, are you really going to delay me further? Besides, should you harm me you will cause Lolth to be forsworn. That seems to be a rather, poor, idea.” At the mention of their diety, the two drow dropped their invisibility and gave the slightest incline of their heads.
“Pardon sir, but we were not informed of your arrival. The screaming of the guards caused us to assume the worst.”
“Your ignorance is not an excuse, though as you didn’t deign to demean me you won’t suffer the same fate as those fools. I am here on invitation from Lolth, perhaps I should be speaking to her priestess?”
“Indeed. If you will follow us, we shall guide you.” Turning, they led the way to a building absolutely covered in spider motifs and webs. They only opened one side of the massive double doors, but that was fine with me. Instead of heading down the aisle in what was obviously a church, we turned to the side and entered a hallway. Around the corner, we entered a rather lavish reception room. “Please make yourself comfortable, the priestess is no doubt on her way.” Just like that, I was left alone. I flopped onto the couch, and pointedly ignored the selection of mushrooms and wines on the table.
Ten minutes later, and a scantily clad priestess entered the room without knocking. “Why have you come to the temple of Lolth, drakeling?”
“Mind your tone, Lolth herself invited me to meet with her priestess. Something about thanking me for sending her some new toys.” At my words, her eyes flared almost imperceptibly.
“Bold, to name our lady in her temple here. That she hasn’t struck you down leads me to believe you.” Suddenly, her body went rigid and her eyes widened in horror. A half second later and she was actually bowing slightly to me. Her head never dropped below her shoulders, but she was a drow and I wasn’t. Unless I managed to enslave her somehow, anything beyond what she was doing now was never going to happen. “Apologies, Angus. Lolth has asked to meet with you personally, if you would come with me.” Turning, she checked over her shoulder to see if I was following before walking off.
We returned to the main chamber, walking down the aisle to a most peculiar altar. It was shaped like a spider on its back, with legs poised to clamp down on the offering. “Please, take a drink of this and lay on the altar.” She asked, handing me a silver goblet with a greenish liquid.
“Poison?” I asked.
“Diluted from certain spider venoms. It will put you in communion with Lolth, so take a sip and lay on the table.”
“I’m afraid it w-.”
“Just do it, drakeling.” She interrupted, flustered. Shrugging my shoulders, I downed the entire glass and felt my body react swiftly to neutralize it. As her eyes widened in horror, I let out a rather large belch that had a tinge of green to it, and smelled atrocious.
“Sorry about that.” I said, waving away the smell. “As I was saying, I have poison immunity. Nothing short of one with divine origins will work.”
Smirking, she looked me up and down for a second. “My, aren’t you full of surprises? I would be interested in how a drakeling becomes immune to poison, but for now we can’t keep my Lady waiting any longer. Take your spot on the table, and we shall do this the old way.”
As I followed her directions, the spider legs moved to clamp down on my body. What I though was a stalactite above me unfolded to reveal a gigantic spider, and it slowly climbed down and gently nicked my arm with one fang. A drop of liquid fire spread rapidly through my body, and I arched my back with the agony of it, fighting against the restraining arachnid legs before my body gave out.
I blinked my eyes open a few times, finding myself in a throne room. Lazing in the throne was a drow that put the first priestess to shame with her looks. Of course she would, that must be Lolth herself. I felt a flash of rage as I saw one of the players that had killed Alnoss trapped in a web above a purple flame, and before I knew it I was stalking forward with my weapon in my hand.
“Slow down Angus, this here is my toy for the next, thirteen hours or so.” She said, hesitating halfway through her sentence.
“Very well, you have my apologies.” I said, sheathing my weapon with shaking hands.
“Completely understandable, but this one was more than willing to trade in his friends and guild. I do believe that part of your reward for gifting me him shall be the sharing of information.”
“About our enemies.” She said, leaning forward and giving me a fantastic view of her cleavage. I barely glanced at it, tempting as it was. By her frown, I think I disappointed her. “Yes. See, the guild Breaking Dawn has been subverted by Pelor and his church.”
“Yes. He is the God of Light. They take offense to the shadow drakelings, and would love to exterminate every last one of you. Last night, they were supposed to start, killing as many as they could. In addition, they were to steal the bones of some dwarf.”
“Again with the bones? That’s it, I don’t care if dwarves are against it or not. I’m personally going to see those bones and the runes on them destroyed!” I swore to myself. “Was the one who was building the crypt in on the plan?”
“No, just the three you slew. So, now that you know your enemies and what they wanted, what are you planning to do?”
I thought about it for a second, and saw Alnoss’ grinning face morph into one of agony as I once again relived her death. “I will use them to become stronger, and shatter the order of this world.”
“Fantastic!” She exclaimed, clapping. “I do so love it when people aim high with their revenge! So tell me, do you have plans to exact vengeance?”
“Nebulous so far. I still feel like there is an evolution beyond this one. Last time I evolved I used a divine tier material, perhaps I shall use something of this Pelor’s to evolve.” I said with an evil grin. “You wouldn’t happen to be able to tell me where anything of his is located, can you?”
“Hmm, not directly. Though what do you know of churches?”
“Very little I’m afraid.” I answered shaking my head at how the conversation had turned.
“Ah, then let me educate you a bit. The lowest connection we gods get are shrines and altars. These need only to be dedicated in some manner to us, and have some of our symbols carved into them. The next tier is small chapels, which need a ceremony performed by actual clergy. At least a high priest. Then you have churches. In order to be a full-fledged church, it needs to be sanctified by clergy as well as have a holy object in the altar somewhere. The main church is special though. Not only is the god’s presence greatest there, they also need a divine object in their altar. Should this altar be destroyed and the object stolen, well. It would be a grievous blow.”
“Interesting.” I said. “Before we go further, can you make sure your toy can’t hear us?”
“Done.” She said with a snap of her fingers, and he was transported elsewhere.
“I need to reach maximum level first, but would you be willing to entertain a joint raid on the main church of Pelor? This would also give them time to relax, thinking their ruse has gone unnoticed.”
“Perhaps, though we would need compensation comparable to a divine object.”
This would be difficult. Divine tier artifacts were obviously the highest out there, and they didn’t just grow on World Trees. Well, maybe they did. Anyway, bad puns aside, what could I offer? “As a place where their god’s power is greatest, is probably the most secure in their mind. Would this place have a vault worth raiding?”
Her smile told me everything. “Interesting postulation. Yes, I do believe they have a vault there. Are you offering it to the drow for their aid?”
“Not nearly.” I said, chuckling. “But a split, 60/40 in the drow’s favor? That I could do.”
“Hmmm, not much there for incentive if you are gaining a divine tier item.”
“Would these sweeten the pot a bit?” I asked, pulling out a matched set of sabers.
“Oh? To think, a drakeling would come across the Herald’s Blades. May I ask how you managed to acquire them?”
“The necromancer I dispatched for you and Thanatos had slain both your herald and the one for the light elves. When he raised them, he turned them into a chimera with their pets. I have both the blades and the insignia ring.” As I spoke, I turned the ring so that she could see it. “To be fair, the drow resisted the necromancer’s will, even up until I battled her. Not even the light elves may claim as much.”
“I thank you then, and will gladly accept the blades and your offer. Simply leave them on the altar when you go. We will make further plans when you return from reaching your maximum level.”
“Thank you for the information Lolth.” Nodding at her, I found myself back upon the altar with the eight eyes of the spider staring at me. Before I could do anything, it reached down and again bit me on the neck, though this time it was ice flowing through my veins.
Poison immunity boosted!
You are ever surprising to the Mistress of Spiders, and she thanks you for the information on her previous Herald. As thanks, she has boosted your immunity. Now even divine poisons will have no effect upon you.
As the spider climbed back up to his perch, I got up from the table and smirked at the gobsmacked priestess. “Be amusing to her.” Was my advice as I placed the blades on the altar and walked away. At the end of the aisle was another portal waiting to take me home.
Bio: I'm a chemist that gave writing a try, and loved the results. Everything is mostly for fun right now, though I might try and get some things published eventually. Certain traits of my daughter have made it into bits of my stories, and she sometimes keeps me company when we both have trouble sleeping.