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













The City of the Spider Queen - Prologue - Sigil

2993. (Morning) At Veracity's house in Sigil

The three drow step through the Portal and appear in the courtyard of Veracity's house on Sigil. Yol looks around and then up - and sees the Arch of Sigil overhead. She shakes her head in wonder. "Strange..."

The butler approaches the group. "Ah, Mistress Veracity. Welcome home."

Veracity smiles. "Thank you. Who is here?"

"Master Vandis and Mistress Elvira are in Mansfield. The other Masters are all home, although I believe that Kress stepped out after breakfast. Master Hazen has not so far been seen as lunch has not yet been served."

"Very good. Please show Tebryn and Yol to guest rooms and thence to the common room. And...wait." She scribbles a note. "Have this sent to Brianna, please. Immediately."

The butler bows. "Yes, Mistress."

Tebryn and Yol are sitting in the common room. Yol is gazing out the window onto the courtyard. "She's rich. After all those years of sponging off of you in Mansfield, it looks like she's made it big here."

Tebryn laughs. "Hah. She shares this house with six others of our companions. I think they're all considered local heroes or something. Not too bad a life, although it must be awkward being a housemate with Vandis. At least, it's not Tigerblade."

Yol agrees. "Yes. From what I hear, Vandis only turns pale, but Tigerblade loses his temper at the slightest provocation. Completely untrustworthy."

Veracity and Igor come in, followed by Veracity's handmaiden, Annetina. "Comfortable? Good! I've arranged things - an extra-special gourmet dinner tonight, and Brianna's coming over and maybe Hazen will be up by then." Veracity smirks and shakes her head. "You haven't been here before, have you, Yol? Want a tour? Oh! Igor - you haven't met Yol, yet, have you? With Tebryn and Elvira and myself, well - we are the Society of the Moon, of which you've heard. Yol - Igor. Igor - Yol."

Yol and Igor greet each other and Tebryn and Igor catch up with each other's recent exploits, not having adventured together in many years.

On the Grand Tour, Yol is impressed. "Nice tapestries! And that well is a great idea. I don't know how many small villages I've visited where the well became poisoned or a plague sprang up that was later traced to it..." She becomes lost in thought, as if fondly reminiscing about something.

Kress comes home and Hazen eventually gets up.

As dinner is announced, Brianna arrives, carrying a small satchel and her lute. All share a sumptuous dinner and pleasant conversation. After dinner, Brianna pulls out her lute and sings a selection of songs for her own pleasure and that of her companions, to the acclaim of all.

Brianna is a beautiful woman, but is exotic in ways that many find disturbing. She is thin, with a long face, deep purple eyes, and long curly black hair extending down her back. Her fingers are unusually long and dextrous. Disturbingly, her canine teeth are abnormally long and sharp - dainty fangs, almost. One does not immediately notice this, as she's learned to conceal this feature when she talks and smiles, but an observant person might catch a glimpse when she sings or laughs. However, her voice is so melodious that the listener gets over the shock quickly. She is clearly not human, but only an experienced planar traveler (or a resident of Sigil ... or of Toril) would be able to place a name on her race.

The party retires to a private room in Igor's suite.

"So what's this about? You said you have an adventure in mind?" says Igor.

"Yes," says Tebryn. He looks around the room. "Looks like a capable party here, although I wish Elvira were here too."

Igor raises his eyebrows at Brianna. "Bringing our own entertainment along, eh? That's new."

Brianna smiles at him. "Not used to traveling with a bard, are you? You may be surprised at my talents."

Tebryn waves his hand impatiently. "None of us have done that before. No problem. Anyway - The Society of the Moon seeks knowledge and adventure - and riches. Riches beyond your wildest imagination, Hazen."

"Sounds good to me - although my imagination is pretty wild, Tebryn!" says Hazen.

Tebryn smiles. "Yes...well. We seek some special tomes - and my divinations have traced them to Toril. Veracity says you are actually from that plane, Brianna. True?"

Brianna nods pensively. "I haven't been there in over five years. As long as you're not going to Mulhorand, I'd be happy to come along. Toril is big. Any more details on where these books are?"

"Yes." Tebryn sits back and gazes at the ceiling as he makes a peak of his fingers. "They were last seen in the hands of a wizard who lived in some keep or other called the Castle Maerimydra. Know anything of it?"

Brianna ponders. "How peculiar. Actually, I do - although very few surface dwellers would. Maerimydra was once the largest drow settlement in northern Faerûn. It's in the Underdark. Not in Mulhorand, at least." She smiles, relieved.

Tebryn is astonished. "A drow settlement! Well - that actually makes a lot of sense." He looks at the various non-drow in the room. "If we're going into the Underdark, perhaps the humans would like to be polymorphed? Into drow, perhaps? Make it easier to explain our party; unless you wanted to pretend to just be our slaves..."

Igor protests. "Why not just say 'These are our friends and if you don't like it, just get over it'?"

Hazen pipes up. "What, you mean, like, just tell the truth? That never works!"

Tebryn says, "Well, that is the in-your-face method. Elvira might do that. But, I was hoping we could be more subtle."

Kress suggests "I don't want to be polymorphed. We can always do it later, if we need to, right?"

Tebryn agrees. "Fine. We'll play it by ear - but lets avoid trouble, if we can. How do we get to Toril, anyway?"

Brianna speaks. "I can help you there. Five years ago, I discovered a portal - and ended up here on Sigil. I was on my way from Sembia to Cormyr and had reached the base of the Thunder Peaks. We can go back through that portal. We'll still need to find our way to the Underdark near Maerimydra."

Tebryn smiles. "Perhaps divinations and teleportation will help once we get there. Very well. Are we agreed? Shall we set out through Brianna's portal tomorrow morning?"

"Sure!" says Hazen. "Bright and early! Like noon!"

"Hah!" says Veracity. Hazen and Kress leave to go to their suite and Yol and Tebryn head downstairs to their rooms. As Veracity and Brianna head towards Veracity's room, Veracity stops a servant. "Master Hazen needs to get up for breakfast at 8 o'clock sharp, tomorrow morning. Make sure that happens." The servant dubiously agrees to try.

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