The Threat From the Deep

Blingdenstone

Significantly less pimpin' than one might expect

Note: We agreed that it would be best to post adventure logs as they are completed, rather than putting them off forever until we get the older ones finished. We can rearrange them later by deleting and re-posting them.

Rhovanion’s exceedingly long account of his arrival into the city with Lucien and Francis

We arrived at the dwarven city of Blingdenstone after days of travel. I was starting to think those guys were just as lost as we were, but then we reached this giant door and Ulfgar told us that we would be interrogated. If we turned out to be spies, we would be executed. Charming. Though really, were we supposed to expect a warm welcome in the Underdark? I wondered how the others were doing. We’d gotten separated in the labyrinthine tunnels before running into these somewhat friendly dwarves. Hopefully the rest of the group hadn’t run into anything especially big and bitey while we’d been enjoying a nice stroll. Will we see them again? Will we see the light of day again? This place is hardly a five-star resort, you know. Not that I’ve been to one. I could definitely use a spa though, and maybe something resembling a mattress. I don’t suppose they’d treat us to any of that while we’re awaiting trial.

Blingdenstone was a sight all right. Glowing with torchlight and reaching high above our heads, its multi-storied expanse making it seem far more city-like than I thought was possible underground. Does that make me a racist? Ah well, at least I’ve been able to keep myself from calling Ulfgar “Captain Stumpy”. I have the feeling that he wouldn’t hesitate to clock me in the jaw. It would be a shame to ruin such a fine jaw, really, so I’ve tried to keep my less-than-flattering comments to myself. Not that I’ve been keeping much of anything else to myself. Someone’s got to make this endless walk more entertaining.

Their king is a scary dude. Almost as tall as me, and twice as wide if not more. He’s not very friendly, though I figured he couldn’t be too lenient with potential spies. But we’re innocent, so there was nothing to worry about. Or so I thought. Turns out that we lit up like holiday trees on a magic scan, and my medallion was especially intriguing to them. Normally I can explain away these things, but the clever little buggers had some truth spell on us, and I’m not exactly good with the truth. I tried to sidestep with a half-truth, but they weren’t satisfied. I did my best to look harmless and ease the King’s suspicions, but I stumbled into a lie in the process. Crap.

I could feel Francis’s stare boring into me, knew there would be another interrogation when we got out of here. Still, I was doing a decent enough job of looking like I wasn’t scared as hell to be backed into a corner like this. Cause, well, it’s me, right? Nothing bothers me, ‘cept maybe getting stabbed. And I had a sneaking suspicion that with Lucien silently freaking out at my side, very few people in the room were going to remain stab-free. Not if someone didn’t do something to defuse the situation. I thought surely there had to be something I could say to get off the hook, but my throat closed up and I could only stare blankly back. This wasn’t happening. Couldn’t be, because I had always been able to lie myself out of a situation before. Well, most situations. Then I saw a flash of movement in front of me, felt a tug, and the familiar, reassuring weight of the medallion was gone.

I felt as though my stomach had been dropped down a mineshaft. There was pale hair sitting on my shoulder where it had been black before. I snatched it in my fist like I could possibly gather it all up and hide it in the palm of my hand. My gaze dropped to the ground, as if looking away might hide those eerie soulless eyes. But there I stood, exposed and unnatural and wrong. I heard Francis ask if it was really me, and I can’t answer for a few moments. I know what the answer is, but I don’t like it. Yes, this is me. But I refuse to accept this as the “real” me. This is not a part of who I am. Not if I sweep it under the carpet.

I heard the sound of steel and flinched sideways, only to see Lucien drawing his sickle. I saw the king start to raise his axe and – oh no you don’t – threw myself at him and tried to pin his arms. It was a stupid move, but the only one I could make quickly enough. Did I really think that I could hold down a man exponentially larger than me? No. But I hoped to keep him busy for a while. Maybe I would figure something out while getting the stuffing pounded out of me. Always a great moment for clarity, that.

Chaos. I wasn’t sure which way was up but – ow – never mind, I just found the floor. The floor and I are no longer on speaking terms. It’s going to take more than a bottle of tequila to reconcile us, you bastard. Oh, better get up. Maybe take on someone who’s not the biggest guy in the room. Run. Francis is trying to stop Lucien from attacking. Good luck with that, you’re going to need it. I knew I should go over there and try to talk Lucien into backing the fuck off but the king was right there and I definitely couldn’t stay on my feet if he clocked me in the head again. Then I took it all in, how many of them there were, how few of us. We couldn’t win this. I wasn’t even sure that we wanted to be fighting the only civilized people down here for who knows how far. Francis had made his position clear. This was my fault. Damn conscience. I had to fix this, somehow.

We surrendered, or, well, I surrendered for us, and we were dragged back into line before the king. I stared straight ahead. There was nothing I could do, nothing that wouldn’t get me killed even faster. If I got lucky, maybe they would throw me in prison. I couldn’t think about the alternative. I couldn’t look at Lucien either. He was still struggling, the sound grating in the back of my head. Stop. Just stop. I opened my mouth and closed it again. What was I going to say? I felt so blank. I barely flinched at all when I heard the king smack Lucien. He didn’t deserve to be treated like that, even if he was asking for it a little. He just didn’t understand. Not that I deserved any of this either. It wasn’t like I chose to be this way. And Francis, well, he was just confused and a little hurt to be left out of the loop.

A few questions later, and we were put in a cell. Francis took the opportunity to grill me and insist that it would be better for everyone if we didn’t keep secrets. Right. Because I was totally going to mention that I’m half something evil while we were chilling around the campfire. Like Saskia wouldn’t have filleted me in an instant and Brynhilde wouldn’t have held me down while she did it. I’m used to it. Well, I haven’t died before, but you get the idea. It’s not exactly the kind of revelation that is met with calm. How Francis could shrug it off like it was nothing, I had no idea. Maybe he’s keeping his real thoughts to himself because we outnumber him. Maybe he’s afraid of what Lucien would do. Maybe he’s studied so much that it’s all just data to him, that this is just information and does not have consequences.

Stop. Stop thinking about it. I sounded almost angry when I told Francis that most people will and have judged me more for what I am than who I am. But I couldn’t be angry, because it’s me and I don’t get bothered by things. Not even people trivializing issues they know nothing about. Except that Francis does know something about this word the dwarves keep calling me. I feel like this should make me feel better, to know what I am. I’m not just some nameless demonic half-breed now, I’m half Drow and there’s a city full of them in the Underdark. Great. Let’s go party with my evil rapist father, shall we? No thanks.

Shit, I’m being childish. Maybe it does help to have words for things. But what if it’s a thing I’d rather just cover up and forget? It’s not a part of me, not if I don’t let it be. I’m not evil, I’m not a spy, and I’m not ready to die in this awful place. I want out. Sure, maybe half of me ought to feel at home here, but it doesn’t work that way. My eyes don’t hurt much down here, since the lights aren’t so bright, but it still feels wrong. I’m pretty sure something’s wrong with one of my eyes too. I can distinguish light and dark, but nothing else. I’ll have to get it checked out sometime. Maybe it was one of those blows to the head? I’ve noticed it getting worse over the past couple days. Will I be completely blind in that eye? Is it reversible? Am I rubbing at it too much? Will I ever get used to having such a large gap in my vision? You know, a person less laid-back than I might start spooking every time someone appears out of nowhere, but I’m getting used to it. I’ve noticed that I’ve started to stand with Lucien in my blind spot. Not that I’d rather not look at him, but I know him. He’s got my back. Better to face anything unexpected with my good eye.

The king came to interrogate us further. My voice sounds far away, weak, defensive. Shit. Shitshitshit. I’m losing my cool, aren’t I? I backed up and shut my mouth. The king was suggesting a test, but I couldn’t focus. There was all this white noise in my head. I kind of liked it that way, it was better than taking a walk down memory lane. It took all of my focus just to try and get a grasp of what was being discussed. Sure. Go ahead. Do anything. I’ll do whatever you want. Francis must’ve made some good decisions, because we were moved from our small cell to roomier quarters and told we could roam the city at will before our test. I couldn’t go out looking like this though, and Lucien wasn’t about to leave without me. Francis stayed behind too, though probably because he didn’t want to go out alone in this strange place. A pity, because he could have spent that time studying something other than me. I kept pulling my hair back so I wouldn’t have to look at it, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched. Not being able to hide was uncomfortable, to say the least.

We slept to pass the time, and when we awoke next it was nearly time for whatever the king had in store for us. The others didn’t seem to know what was planned for us either, so I guess I hadn’t missed much when I spaced out. Waking up and remembering where we were was a little nauseating. I’m not used to being that nervous, but with no idea what’s ahead I couldn’t really prepare myself. I felt like I ought to say something to ease the tension a little, but my big mouth hadn’t exactly been serving me well so far in this place. My mind seemed to be running a mile a minute one moment, and sluggish the next. Which was usually right about when I was supposed to be doing something.

We were led out through the city and beyond, so far that the warmth of the fires was distant and we had only cold stone before us. I didn’t feel the cold much and tried not to think of why. There was a wide stone corridor ahead of us, with massive statues of dwarves at intervals along the length of it. The king and his guards halted, and he instructed us to go on alone. I didn’t mind one bit. Well, except for the fact that this was some gauntlet full of tests that we had to pass and it probably wasn’t going to be easy. As exceedingly talented as we were, there were only three of us. And we felt very small walking past those statues. I straightened my shoulders a little and made short work of getting far from the king. I happened to stumble across a pressure plate that activated some sort of electrical spell. What a way to wake up in the morning! If you could really call this morning.

I kept looking for traps, but my eyes aren’t really what they used to be. As in one instead of two. Lucien rushed past a plate that made two of the massive ancestor statues creak to life. Balls. After a moment of panic I noticed that the rough-hewn side passageway narrowed significantly. Unfortunately not enough to make running away a viable solution, but we could bottleneck them and take one at a time. I told the others this and bolted through. Lucien didn’t seem to want to listen; he just wanted to destroy everything. His sound burst seemed especially effective though, causing cracks to appear in the stone of one of the ancestors. Francis managed to stop one of the stone giants in its tracks by dispelling the magic that animated it. Then he made it through the passageway, and I yelled at Lucien to haul his ass over. Maybe he forgot the plan, but I got the impression that he thought he could take a lot more than he really could. Two ancestors? No. Those things hit hard.

It was an unusual and harrowing battle. I jumped back and forth between trying to wedge the cracks open with my spear from a safe distance and running around giving healing potions to Lucien and Francis. Luckily I had a decent stock for the purpose of looking out for number 1, so I was able to get the ones who were taking all the heat back on their feet. By the time the other ancestor regained the ability to move, we’d had time to do some pretty serious damage to the first. It crumbled into rubble. Heartened by our success, the second stone ancestor did not take long to fall. Then we followed the passageway until I found another pressure plate in the floor and managed to disable it so who-knows-what wouldn’t come to kick our asses.

Behind a locked door was an impressive pile of gold and enchanted items. Mighty tempting, I must admit. I was sure that we hadn’t been the first to come down here, so to think that people would’ve just left that stuff there was a little unusual. Suspicious. So as much as we could’ve used some extra swag, we left it alone. Then there was another locked door at the other end of the room, which led to a shrine littered with symbols of the dwarven god Moradin. There was a raised platform on which hovered a spirit, and when we climbed up it began to speak to us. We were illuminated from some unseen source, and then told that we had passed the test of greed as well as those of strength and wit. Can I have that in writing? Then the spirit swelled up and was replaced by what seemed to be Moradin himself. It was intimidating as hell, the way he looked through us, scrutinizing our moral fiber or whatever he was up to. Whatever it was, Francis must have been a hell of a lot easier to clear than Lucien and I. We’re a little anomalous when it comes to being good guys. But then afterwards there was this wash of something and everything felt a lot better. A smile reasserted itself over my previously blank expression.

We walked back to the gauntlet’s entrance, tired and beaten up but feeling pretty good about ourselves. The high priestess confirmed that we had passed the tests, and we were led back to the city and to our quarters. We were to await our audience with the king, which would no doubt be friendlier now that their god had given us the thumbs-up. Some rest sounded like a mighty fine plan to me. I was too worn out to worry about much. I would ask for my medallion back, I would put away this unnatural, unsettling ensemble and Francis would keep his trap shut and everything would go back to normal. Everything would be all right.

I smirked at Lucien and gave him a nudge with my arm. “Hey, d’you think I stand a chance of scoring with that priestess?” I asked, more for the sake of making noise than out of interest. I brushed some blonde hair out of my peripheral vision casually and tried to pretend that things were all right already. Whether it was more for him or for me, I couldn’t tell. But even this small shred of normalcy was nice, a hundred times better than the silence and the wondering. I gestured enthusiastically with my hands as I launched into a rather comical analysis of what a priestess may or may not find appealing in a dashing scoundrel like me.

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