Lost Chapter #17

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                      *    THE ADVENTURERS    *
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                      *     Lost Tales...     *
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*    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      *
*  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  *
*  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      *
*  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  *
*  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    *
*  way, shape, or form.                                             *
*    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    *
*  right 1991-8 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons   *
*  or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.  *
*  Copying and/or distribution of these tales is permissible only   *
*  under the sole condition that no part of them will be used or    *
*  sold for profit.  In that case, I hope you enjoy them...         *
*                                                                   *
*                                  Thomas Miller                    *
*                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   *
*  Lyra         5th level female drow elf mage               (LE/N) *
*  Date:        11/03/570 by the C.Y. (Common Year) reckoning       *
*  Time:        inapplicable                                        *
*  Place:       the Underdark                                       *
*  Climate:     cool                                                *
*  "In a world of madmen, one must go about armed."                 *
*                        - from _What If?_ #13, by Marvel Comics    *

                         XVII.  Passage

  The drow huddled in the cavern, their makeshift camp for the last
few days, as their leader discussed her upcoming plans.

Zara:  -and within a few weeks, we'll reach the surface world.
male drow warrior:  What of the sunlight there?  It will surely
  burn our flesh and sear our-
Zara:  (shakes her head)  We will fashion a lair for ourselves,
  something sturdy and remote - and sun-proof.  Also remember that
  we can venture about at night, unseen and unexposed to the cursed
  rays of the orb in the sky.
Telefe:  And once we get there, you're sure this plan of yours will
Zara:  Never doubt me.  The gold and gems are there for the taking,
  as my magic has foretold.  We just need someone to mine them.
male drow warrior:  But who will do the mining?
Zara:  _You_ will, if I say you will!  (she frowns)  Or if you
  continue to question my plans.
male drow warrior:  (bows his head sheepishly)
Zara:  Fear not, my followers - we will subjugate the puny humans
  of the world above, once we arrive.

  The drow contingent - about a dozen, mostly male warriors, though
there were a few females - had been journeying upward for months
now.  They hadn't exactly fled the dark elven city of their birth,
as occasional drow were known to do.  Rather, Zara was the key to
their group and its travels.  A power-hungry, up-and-coming mage in
the city, she had learned through spies that she was falling from
grace within her family.  After exhausting all attempts to regain
her rightful position and the respect due her, Zara had opted to
leave the city and seek her fortune elsewhere.  A small band of
dark elves who either followed her or found this idea interesting
had accompanied her when she left.
  Besides Zara and her second-in-command, the priestess Telefe,
the group included a handful of male drow warriors, a sole female
warrior who also doubled as the cook, and a young female wizard
named Lyra.  This last one's thoughts were elsewhere, even though
she outwardly continued to appear to pay attention to Zara and the

  Lyra was having second thoughts about this entire undertaking.
She'd left the city with Zara and the others because she wasn't
happy there.  It wasn't that she totally disagreed with the under-
lying principles upon which drow society was based.  In fact, they
made a lot of sense to her; the weak deserved to be crushed under
the heels of the strong, and if one was strong simply by virtue of
race, so be it.  It was the constant backstabbing, plotting, and
deceit that Lyra had grown tired of.  She had no desire to remain
in a place where success made one a target, where even family and
friends could suddenly turn on you with murder in their eyes.  It
was an unfortunate by-product of the dark elven society, and she
had sought to escape it.
  However, things weren't much better with Zara.  The woman was a
cruel and harsh leader, and Lyra had little doubt that Zara planned
to re-create the old power structure once they got wherever they
were going.  The only difference was that there'd be nobody to
challenge Zara's commands and rulership.  Lyra figured that she
intended to build herself a mine, based around the veins of gold
and gems she kept talking about.  Most likely, this mine would be
manned by human and humanoid slaves, which Zara would obtain once
she got established in the world above.
  Yes, life outside the drow city was better than life within,
but not by much.  Lyra didn't really want to continue upward, but
turning back wasn't really an option either.  If she left Zara's
group to return to the drow city, she faced three dangers:  Zara
and her warped sense of loyalty and revenge, the unknowns of the
Underdark, and the drow of the city behind them, who were sure to
be angry with the deserters.
  Lyra knew that she had to do _something_, but she just wasn't
sure what yet.  She'd considered just running once they got to the
world above, but that world was a complete unknown, and worse,
she would be weak during the day.  No, that would never do.  Lyra
could only wait, and hope that some viable solution to her problem
became clear.

  After Zara's briefing, the drow each returned to their section
of the cavern.  The group had been camped here for several days,
resting and recuperating after an encounter with some umber hulks.
The battle had been a difficult one, resulting in the deaths of
three of the drow; it was safe to say that without Zara's magic,
the fatalities would have been greater.  Anyhow, they were nearly
done resting, their injuries healed enough to allow them to get
back on track within a day or two.
  This cavern was a far cry from the high, comfortable standard
of living that most of them had enjoyed in their home city.  It
was, however, a necessary part of the long, difficult journey to
the surface world.  Lyra's bedroll and equipment were nestled in
a niche off to one side, away from anyone else.  She didn't trust
any of her fellow dark elves, and she didn't want to have to deal
with them.  Certain of them, however, took this behavior as a
sign of vulnerability...

male drow warrior:  (walks over)  There you are, woman.
Lyra:  What of it?
male drow warrior:  Have you changed your mind yet?
Lyra:  No.  I already told you, no.
male drow warrior:  But this is madness!  Surely you need a mate,
  one to share the warmth of your bed and sire your children - and
  I am the strongest of this bunch.
Lyra:  I said no, and I mean no.  (she glares angrily)  I have had
  quite enough of your...efforts.  Cease and desist, or else I'll
  give you a display of deadly magic that will make even Zara look
male drow warrior:  (cowed, he backs up, looks around, then leaves
Lyra:  (shakes her head)

  In truth, she wouldn't have minded some male company, but not
from the choices available in this group.  She wanted - needed -
someone who didn't know her already, someone whose ulterior motives
she didn't have to worry about.  Lyra may have been an intelligent
and skilled practitioner of magic, but she was also a beautiful
young woman, and she had the same needs and desires as anyone else.
Unlike anyone else, however, she hadn't been able to give her heart
and hand to some like-minded young man.  Drow society simply didn't
work that way; relationships were often little more than secret,
rushed trysts in hidden places, with one or both partners looking
over their shoulder for fear of assassination.  The more lasting
unions in dark elf society were at best uneasy alliances in which
major problems were ignored, to avoid the perception of weakness.
  This was just another of Lyra's private anguishes, and it was
an uneasy head that laid down on her pillow and went to sleep.

  The following day, the band was on the move again.  Zara guided
them using maps that she'd obtained through unknown means; for all
Lyra knew, the maps weren't even accurate.  However, no one dared
to question Zara; it was easier (and less dangerous) to simply
follow her.
  The question was, _where_ were they going?  Oh, yes, they were
moving upward, away from the Underdark and toward the sun-lit
surface world.  However, given the twisting and often-narrow
passages they moved through, it often seemed that they weren't
going to end up anywhere but a dead-end.  Somehow, though, they
never did; Zara's map had more merit than that, and onward the
group went.
  They could now detect signs of higher altitude:  the earth was
a little cooler, the air was different, and they felt a bit weaker.
This, Lyra knew, was an effect of being away from the weird and
magical radiations that their bodies were used to in the Underdark.
Up until recently, she'd never known that there _was_ anything
else besides the Underdark.  Now, though, she knew that all that
word really meant was a series of deep spaces within the world's
crust - spaces that drow, illithids, and countless other dark
denizens had roamed, expanded, connected, and fought over since
their first days.  Now, however, they were on the verge of a whole
new world, one whose laws and ways were vastly different from
anything they were used to.  To tell the truth, Lyra wasn't sure
she was looking forward to entering this new world.

  Three days after they resumed their journey, the day came - and
it was a day that Lyra would never forget in all her years.  The
map led them into a new passage, one lit with a strange glow that
hurt their eyes and made their skin tingle.  Pulling their cloaks
tightly about themselves, the dark elves pressed on, apprehension
vying with wonder as they neared the source of the weird light...
a crack that opened into a searing golden cavern - no, it wasn't
a cavern at all, but rather a boundless dome of bright, open
  It was fantastic.  It was amazing.  And it was painful.  The
light that shone throughout this new world also burned their eyes
and skin, so intensely that they had to back up and take shelter
in the recesses of the underground passage.  Though they were too
preoccupied to notice it, not one of the dark elves had even come
close to stepping directly into the sun's rays - but still, they
were forced to recoil.

male drow warrior:  (rubbing his eyes)  Aaaa...
Zara:  Quit sniveling, you.  We will simply wait until nightfall
  to foray out into this place.
Lyra:  What is nightfall?
Zara:  (regards Lyra piteously)  Such a young, naive child you are.
  Nightfall is that time when the light that just blinded you goes
  away...and the humans sleep...a ripe time to implement our plans.

next:      Songa's sordid past
ftp:       ftp.myths.com in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.nol.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
www:       http://www.myths.com/pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     I hope this one gives you at least a little insight into
  Lyra, before her initial appearance in episode #062.

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