Vita est ludus
The thin line between fantasy and reality...













The City of the Spider Queen - Prologue - Mansfield

2993. (Noon) In the rooms of the Society of the Moon

Tebryn and Veracity are admiring the spell books of Tairdo the Conjurer that Elvira had brought back from Galeb Fargen.

"A nice collection," says Veracity, "although most of these spells are prohibited to me. I just don't get Conjurations..." She yawns and stretches. "So, brother, didn't you say you wanted to call the whole Society together to discuss something? What's keeping Elvira and Yol?"

Cyrril knocks at the door. "Boss, Yol is here. You said you were expecting her, so..." He steps aside and Yol enters, followed by her familiar, Nightlife.

Yol spies the raven sitting on Tebryn's shoulder. "Ah, that's new. What's its name?"

"This is Drusilla," says Tebryn. "Drusilla, meet Yol and Nightlife." The raven stares disdainfully at the cat. "Sqwark," she says, and turns her back on the newcomers.

"Friendly, I see," says Yol. She looks around the room. "Hmm. I see that Elvira isn't here, yet."

Tebryn frowns. "I saw her this morning. Her right eye had a tic and her right hand seemed to be twitching. When, I asked her if she was all right, she just stared at me before hastening away, muttering something about 'Lord Vecna'. Most disturbing. Veracity defeated Vecna. What's up with Elvira?"

Yol smiles thinly. "Oh, it sounds like she is diseased. Very serious, probably. In fact, I know a disease with just those symptoms. Elvira probably doesn't have long..."

Tebryn sighs. "Cursed, is more like it. Well, we'll go find her after we talk. I have news that concerns her, but I'll share it with you, first." He composes his thoughts. "As I am sure you know, both Elvira and I have been interested in finding rare tomes of rumored arcana. She seeks the Cryptichronos, I, Slerotin's Manifesto." Tebryn smiles. "The latter was originally from Oerth - the home plane of your nemesis, Vecna. What say - shall we go there to seek it out?" As Veracity starts to protest, he raises his hand. "Stay, sister - I was joking. That book is no longer there. By strange coincidence, both Slerotin's Manifesto and the Cryptichronos were last in the possession of the same Wizard, who dwelt in the Castle Maerimydra on the plane Toril."

Veracity looks up sharply. "Toril! How peculiar!"

Tebryn looks at her quizzically. "How so, sister? You have heard of this alternate prime?"

Veracity gathers her thoughts and speaks. "I recently completed research on a unique spell of my own invention. I call it 'Veracity's Whip of Pain'." She peers impishly at her companions and smirks. "Anybody care for a demonstration? Volunteers?" All demur and she continues. "Anyway, as soon as I completed this spell, I started having... visions... during my trance periods."

Yol interrupts. "First Elvira, and now you - mental disorders, eh? You are undoubtedly diseased. Must be very contagious! You probably don't have long, either." She smiles.

Veracity stares at her. "I think not. May I proceed? My visions... I saw a winter landscape with a tall, pale, blond woman standing in snow, holding a many-tailed whip. She'd stretch out her hand towards me and gesture, beckoning me to come to her. Always this same vision. I don't know; something in her bearing - and size - and simply her Presence led me to think 'Goddess' and I did some research in the Religion section of our library in Sigil. Good for Elvira, for having us include that section! In any case, I found what I sought: everything about that woman correlates with the aspects of Loviatar, the Goddess of Pain and Suffering, from the Faerûnian Pantheon. Faerûn seems to be a continent on...Toril."

Yol speaks up. "I can add to this coincidence. I was sorting the notes on poisons that I had brought with me when I left the Underdark, and I found a scrap of a recipe for a very interesting toxin. Incomplete, unfortunately. The scrap was, supposedly, from a copy of The Nathlum, a tome on the subject, originally from...Faerûn. There is apparently a large population of drow there, and traffic between our Primes is not completely unknown, although I have no idea how you'd get there. I've never heard of anyone who's been there."

Tebryn smiles and shakes his head. "It's almost enough to lead one to believe in Fate. We have a convergence of goals - on Toril. I imagine we can get there. Perhaps there is a Portal in Sigil? Certainly, a bit more research would be in order. If Toril is like Dargas, I can just imagine the reception if The Society of the Moon showed up on the surface openly making inquiries about some Castle. We should recruit some more companions. Perhaps we can leave the 'morally certain' priests at home, this time, and draw upon our other companions. No need for Tigerblade or Vandis..."

Veracity smiles. "Hazen and Kress and Igor are all reliable. They're back in Sigil."

"Yes. We must bring some of these mobile damage absorbing units," interjects Yol. "I wouldn't leave home without them. And even Hazen has his uses."

Veracity looks down at the table and then up again and shyly continues. "And I have a...a...a new friend there, that I'd like to invite too. Brianna Sollandry. Continuing the coincidence, she's actually from Toril. She is very talented and is full of little tidbits of knowledge. She may even know where this Castle is." Tebryn smiles. "Sounds like a plan. Let's go find Elvira and get her un-cursed, or whatever it is she needs. This is her expedition too!"

2993. (Evening) At the Temple of Lei Kung

Tebryn stares at Elvira. "What do you mean you don't remember what you've been doing?"

Elvira glares at him. "Well, let's just say I don't want to talk about the details. I was not myself." She stares at her right hand. "I was doing the will of Vecna, not Lei Kung. I may have to Atone..."

Tebryn leans forward. "Elvira, we are your friends. What can we do to help?"

Elvira sighs and sits back, shaking her head ruefully. "I don't think you can. I have to think this over. I am shaken to the core." She frowns. "I can't come with you on this trip. At least, not now. I'll join you when I can - if I can. Where did you say you were going?"

"Toril." Tebryn ponders. "Well, I think I know how you can join us. Let me check it out. In the mean time - nothing we can do for you?" Elvira shakes her head. "So be it, then. Pray to your god. Do what you need to. Good luck!"

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Copyright © 2004 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com> Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
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