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II. Defense and Debauchery

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#1 Guest_Oryx_*

Posted 12 November 2002 - 05:37 PM

II. Defense and Debauchery

Queen Ellisime sat in her bedchamber, looking out a window over Suldanesellar as she arranged various magical trinkets on her dresser. As she opened one of the drawers to put one away, she spied the corner of a painting in the bottom of the drawer and drew it out. It was one made very long ago, painted so well she almost seemed to be looking at an actual scene. Except that she was in it. With young Joneleth Irenicus. She looked at their faces. His was just as she remembered once, before… His face was both the overjoyed look of boyish innocent and the inquisitive, brooding look of an intelligent young man. What had happened? Her mind wandered...

"Ellie!" her mother called from downstairs. "Jon is here to call on you!"

"Just tell him to teleport up, mother!" young Ellisime called down.

"Dear, you know he considers that impolite."

"Fine, just tell him to come in," she sighed. And to hurry up.
As Joneleth came bounding up the stairs happily, she heard him whistling a strange but cheerful tune. He always did that. A musical prodigy as well as an unparalleled student of the arcane, he was able to make up melodies up as he went along without even really thinking about it.

"Jon! I love your music!" she exclaimed, hopping up to greet him. "You should be a bard!"

"That'd be fun," he mused as he effortlessly conjured for her a bouquet of roses with a flick of his wrist. Then his eyebrows furrowed and he suddenly wore a defensive face. "Do you think I couldn't make it as a wizard?"

"No, no, love, that's not what I meant at all, I just..."

"I'm getting better all the time, you know!" he protested. "The better I get, the harder they are on me, I know they should be, but that's not your job!"

"Oh sweetie, you're the fastest learning mage anyone's ever known! I just meant I love your music so much..."

"Bah, music! A trifle! It's nothing compared to the power of the arcane!"

"And so we're learning to use that power, my sweet. We learn how to weave it carefully and delicately. Like music, it must me made with balance and harmony, lest it grow too loud and dissonant. Like the Tree of Life. Its magic is powerful and mysterious and all around us, but it is not all-consuming, it is a mere background accompaniment to our daily lives."

He started to nod at her wisdom but then scowled at her nagging. "I was thinking about the Tree, and, I have a theory...I don't think the elders are playing the right tune...they're not using the Tree's full abilities."

"Oh, I'm sure we'll learn more of such things, and I'm sure, my dear Jonny, that someday you and I will be its keepers and perhaps we will discover new secrets. But we've had enough arcane study for one day," she took his hands and smiled. "We can ask at schooling tomorrow. Surely such things are not why you're here this evening?" She batted her delicate elven eyelashes at him.

"No, I have a theory...I different way to use the Tree....the city elders are holding it back...just like they're holding me back! They're weak and they can't control its full power, but I can! There's a book, one they won't let anyone see, I know I could confirm my theory with what's in there....or maybe I can deduce it myself...I must return to study now, Ellisime, I...I have to think on this, on the Tree. I have to figure out how to unleash its potential!"

"No, Jon, you mustn’t speak like that," she clutched him. "We're not ready for something like that. But.." she tossed her hair back glamourously and leaned into him, "there are other things we're ready for."

"I...I'm sorry...I must go ponder, I have to solve this, I know I can unlock the answer....I can unlock its full power!"

"No!" she shrieked but he had already opened a dimension door and left.

...Queen Ellisime was jerked back to the present as she sensed a messenger downstairs. She left for her foyer to meet him.

"Drizzt!" she exclaimed as the ranger, walking past the nodding door guards, threw back his hood to reveal his drow features. "I am happy to see you, old friend....but I fear and sense your presence bodes ill news."

"I am afraid your are most perceptive, my lady," be bowed courteously. "I have just returned from an espionage mission in Zhentarim Lord Sarevok's dominion in the Underdark. I bring the worst possible news, though news we have all feared and suspected would come - that he plans to attack Suldanesellar in full force. As you know, his adamantium-alloy weapons can only last three days in the surface world, but Zhentarim-occupied Ust Natha is near an Underdark entrance but a day from here. I have spoken in the past with General Valygar Corthala upon exactly this contingency, and you have assurances that he will march an army to you as soon as he knows this news. My fellow ranger Kivan is already on the way to Athkatla to alert him."

"As always, I am most grateful for the Amnish alliance he and Chancellor Nalia Corthala have kept true with us," Ellisime began, "but it will not be necessary for so many brave humans and elves to die in our city's defense. I shall activate the mythal."

The stoic Drizzt arched his eyebrows the mention of this ancient elven magic, one of the most powerful in the Realms, which could shield an entire city from invading hordes. "Though it has not yet become a public rumor," he whispered, "I was under the impression that the elves no longer had the power to construct one."

Ellisime nodded, but gravely. "I will confide in you, Drizzt Do'Urden, that our ability to use the Weave have indeed diminished over the past decades, since the death of Mystra during the Troubles, but we just barely can do it. There is Xan, the great elven enchanter, who now resides here in Suldanesellar, and I shall call for the avariel archmage Aerie, who will be in either Athkatla or Faenya-Dail. Together, we can activate it."

Drizzt nodded, "And the Zhentarim could not merely lay siege around the city because their weapons would soon disintegrate. It would work."

"Yes, but the wily Sarevok would still scheme to bring down the mythal from within. There are two statuettes, Drizzt, which must be used together to raise or dispel the Mythal. After the raising, one shall be guarded here, but the other will be taken far away. I have spoken with Nalia on this contingency before, and she has agreed to keep one statuette guarded far away under High Protector Ajantis Ilvastarr of Baldur's Gate at the Ducal Palace there. I shall telepathically communicate with Nalia and Aerie forthwith, and once Aerie is here and we activate the mythal, I will then entrust you, Drizzt, with the important mission of seeing one statuette to Baldur's Gate, to be given only to Ajantis himself at the Ducal Palace."

"Yes, my lady," Drizzt nodded. "I shall be at your call until then."

In the next room, one of Ellisime’s servant maidens smirked wryly.


Onyx, Anomen and Valygar sat around a table in the Copper Coronet, drinking up and chatting about old times. Though the three of them were all Generals of Amn, as well as a High Protector, High Watcher, and Chief Inspector respectively, they still preferred some lowbrow revelry every now again, away from stuffy mansions and scheming nobles. Anomen had never really been comfortable with a dive like the Coronet, although it had improved over the years, but Onyx and Valygar were having quite a time.

"Lighten up, my Order man," Onyx guffawed boozily, smacking Sir Delryn on the shoulder as he carelessly made a toss at a dartboard. “You managed to put together a Helmite missionary expedition to Maztica, we recruited some adventurous young Order members for it, and we even signed on Captain Yoshimo’s ship and his crew of sea rangers!”

Valygar laughed as Onyx’s dart missed the board by miles, although his own next throw was no better. "Hey URP Onyx, too bad they won't let us use throwing axes or a longbow in here!" he chuckled.

Onyx laughed and made another throw. "How do my sister and your wife do it? These darts are too tiny!"

"What about your wife, Onyx, sling bullets aren't any bigger! Har har!' Valygar laughed and pretended to twirl his dart around like a sling before throwing it.

"C'mon guys, this isn't fubby, gimme a water," Anomen moaned and slouched over the table.

"Lighten up man," Onyx laughed, "you and I are going to MAZ-TIC-A!!! Setting off tomorrow! Beaches and sunshine to enjoy, and evildoers to kill! Aren't you coming, Val?"

"Onyx I, URP, well I told you about Sarevok's new plot to invade Suldanesellar, I really need to stay here and help out Queen Ellisime. Alliance and all."

"Oh yeah," Onyx frowned, "Man, those elves can never defend themselves. Why are we always saving their tree-hugging hides? I love to protect the innocent and all, hey, it’s why I became a paladin, but for their own sake I wish they’d show more steel now and then.”

"Don't forbet the myth-ERP...myth-ERP....mythal!" Anomen hiccupped.

"Yeah, Val!" Onyx perked up. "Ellisime and my hot honey of a wife are going to get that mythal up! Nothing to worry about! But those stone-age Mazticans are going to need protection!"

"That's why you two are going, my knightly friends," Valygar said. "You two and Minsc go kick evil butt in that hemisphere, take some of our sea rangers with you, I and our wives will hold down things back in this one."

"Uh-oh, speaking of which," Onyx pointed as a dimension door opened and Nalia stepped through.

"It's getting late, Val," Nalia smiled and beckoned to Valygar with an index finger.

"It’s my own hot honey! Gotta go!" Valygar waved and took one last swig as Nalia suppressed a grin and motioned to him more impatiently.

"Hey, I hear ya, mine is a mage too!" Onyx laughed as Nalia scowled at him playfully and helped Valygar through the dimension door.

Onyx grabbed a water from a passing waitress and sat down, pushing the glass under Anomen's goateed chin. "Drink up!" he smiled and patted him on the back.

"Thankb" Anomen nodded and guzzled it. "You know Obyx, we're Order knighb, we really shouldn't be in a place in thib."

"Aw, c'mon Sir Del," Onyx sighed. Anomen's comment underscored one of their many running arguments, some of which divided the entire Order from time to time. "One should live among the people they protect." He gestured to the tavern around them. "This is the sort of thing we're fighting for. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of - hello, m'lady, could you pass me an ale please? - happiness. - in your debt, m’lady."

"Well sure, but we habe to set an example too. So they use the freedom to aspire to be like us, chivalrous and noble, not base and vile."

"Agreed also," Onyx nodded, getting up briefly to slam against a wall and throw through a window another patron who had just grabbed the waitress rudely. "And what better way to set an example that grace them with our presence here, that they might look up from their mugs at what they might be?" he gestured theatrically as he sat down again.

"Ah, you're right again" Anomen sighed. The waitress rubbed her hand over Onyx's chest and he carefully pulled it off and politely kissed the hand, flashing her Aerie's handkerchief tied around his arm. "...except we'd be a little better example if we BUUUUURP hadn't drunk as much," Anomen added.

"Agreed again, my friend," Onyx nodded as the waitress started tousling Anomen's curly hair. "Well, I think I'll leave you alone with your drink, or, uh, whatever else the waitress serves you," Onyx smirked and walked over to find Harnek, the bartender whom had run the Coronet since Onyx had put a stop to its slave-trade-fronting many years ago. "Don’t sleep in through – we leave for Maztica bright and early tomorrow morning at the docks! See you shipside!"

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