“Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.”
CONTINUED FROM … DUNGEONS DEEP AND CAVERNS OLD
Neverwinter was regarded by many, including the erudite travel writer Volo, as the most cosmopolitan and the most civilized city in all of Faerûn, quite a reputation, considering the breadth and variety of the continent. The city was a member in good standing of the Lords’ Alliance and Lord Nasher Alagondar ensured that the city was well defended before his death, both physically and magically, against attacks or infiltration from Luskan, Neverwinter’s warlike rival. Maps of the city, which had a maze of meandering streets, were not distributed, as part of an effort to thwart Luskan spies.
The city of Neverwinter was so named because, even though the town is situated in the cold north of Faerûn, the Neverwinter River that flows through it was heated by fire elementals living under the nearby Mount Hotenow in the Neverwinter Wood. The heat given off from the river creates a permanent warm climate in the immediate area; without the elementals, the river, and later the city’s water supply, would freeze over.
Although Lord Nasher died during the Spellplague, he gave rise to a royal line that is believed to have ruled until Mount Hotenow erupted, destroying the majority of the city. Thayans and their Ashmadai allies attacked the city in the wake of the eruption, hoping to cause enough deaths to fuel a Dread Ring but their plans were foiled with the help of adventurers and agents of Netheril. Due to the help given by the netherese, the shadovar attempted a power grab in the city but were driven out when Herzgo Alegni was defeated in combat by Artemis Entreri and Dahlia Sin’felle, which inspired a revolt against Herzgo’s netherese ‘Shadow Guard’.
Two decades after the city’s destruction however, Dagult Neverember, Open Lord of Waterdeep, seeing an opportunity to add to his financial empire, would hire artisans and carpenters to help rebuild the city and mercenaries to protect it from monsters; he would eventually create the title of Lord Protector of Neverwinter, held by Neverember himself. However, it is questioned whether Dagult is the rightful ruler, as many factions vie for Neverwinter and the citizens are divided in loyalties.
Neverember’s stabilizing presence, as well as his policies of few taxes and tariffs to promote trade, has dran merchants and residents back to the city despite the horrors that have rocked Neverwinter in the past few years. Among these merchants were some of the more popular in the Northern Region including the Cormyrean Elden Vargas and the Calimshan Lady Sala Nidris. The addition of just these two powerful merchants doubled the amount of ships in Neverwinter’s harbors.
Despite Neverember’s successes, much of the city remains untamed and wild. The Lord’s Alliance patrols the outer ruins of the Old City, protecting the residents of the reforming New City. Evil lurks in the cracks and crannies of Neverwinter. A contingent of Thayans is the most obvious threat to the city, but rumors speak of Xorlarrin Drow filtering in from the Underdark, werebeasts in the sewers, wraiths lurking in the ruins, and Ashmadai cultists infiltrating the hierarchy of the newly forming government.
Within this chaos, Matron Mother Quenthel ordered Helm’s Hold to be infiltrated and seized from within. The old monastery was an easy target. The cathedral of Helm’s Hold outside of Neverwinter had been used by the Lord Protector to care for victims of the Spellplague, under the care of a holy woman known as “The Prophet.” However, she revealed herself to be a succubus named Rohini, and the cathedral was quickly overrun by forces of Evil. Few from the city wish to enter the monastery because of the nature of the diseased victims within. Lord Neverember is not even aware that the cathedral has been taken by the enemy, and in the grasp of the mad green dragon, Chartilifax.
And now, the city of Neverwinter was under siege by factions loyal to Tiamat. That was the news delivered to Matron Mother Quethel within her chambers in grand Menzoberranzan. She found this troubling, of course, seeing that things had gone so well in Neverwinter’s undercity Gauntlgrym soon to be called Q’Xorlarrin. The great and ancient forge was blazing again, and weapons of fine edge and powerful enchantment were beginning to flow back into the City of Spiders. Things were going very well until this point. And now the Nemesis of the Gods was making a vie for power with Lolth in Neverwinter.
She sighed and stood, trying to push these thoughts from her mind. She would have faith that this was another devious thread within Lady Lolth’s vast web of schemes. The Spider Queen had increased her power within the last few years, filling the power vaccum left by the death of Mystra at the onset of the Spellplague. Lolth was now the Mistress of Magic in Faerûn, controlling all the powers of magic with her Demonweave. The Matron Mother made her way to the House Baenre House Chapel. She noticed on the way that many of the lesser priestesses were already within their prayer trances. She passed by without a word, her magnificent black robes laced with flowing spiderwebs swirled around her lithe, supple body. The thin robes gave her a look of etherealness as she moved along the dark corridors.
She moved regally down the central isle of the House Chapel, noticing that her sister Sos’Umptu was already naked and prostrated before the grand altar of Lady Lolth. She walked up close enough to hear her sister’s chanting, and allowed the her thin robes to slide from her body revealing her nearly perfect voluptuous form. She stood there for a moment, gazing at the beautifully erotic figure of Lolth on the altar. She closed her eyes, and slowly moved to a kneeling position. After a moment or two, she sensually layed down on the cold tiles of the chapel.
After several hours spent in prayer, Sos’Umptu and Quenthel both lifted themselves to a kneeling position and looked at each other. Sos’Umptu was already shaking her head, and Quenthel smiled at her sister. Her fingers started to spell out intricate words using the Drow sign language. None dared to speak within the shadow of Lolth’s altars.
The Dark Lady is not pleased with the events in Neverwinter, signed Quenthel.
Sos’Umptu signed back, a look on confusion on her face. I do not understand the fury involved in her ire over a simple surface city.
The Matron Mother smiled again at her sister, resisting the urge to lash out and slap her face for questioning the Spider Queen’s schemes. You will gather half of the priestess of House Baenre, and take with you a party of House Guard. Quenthel’s fingers flashed signs quickly. You will go to Helm’s Hold outside Neverwinter to enact a summoning. The Handmaidens will instruct us as to Mistress Lolth’s desires.
Sos’Umptu knew better than to deny the orders of the Matron Mother, even if she was her younger sister. She stood slowly, and bowed sensuously to the altar. She turned, picking up her own spidery gown as she walked away from the chapel. Quenthel watched her sister go, and then turned to face the altar again. She lowered herself again in a slow, luscious pace to lay prone once again before her goddess.
Hours later, the party of Drow were in the middle of the summoning ritual when the first shockwave struck Helm’s Hold. The House Guard peered around, ready to protect the priestesses from danger while they carried out their ritual. Their concentration could not be broken or their lives would be in peril. The Sergeant nodded to the others, and they spread out within the chamber defensively.
The priestesses continued to writhe and chant. All of them were gathered in a circle, two deep, on their knees. Each was naked, and moved seductively to summon the magic needed for the summoning. Their movements and chants continued for several minutes. And finally, a mass of seemed to be a blob of half-melted dirty yellow wax materialized within the circle of twisting, squirming naked Drow bodies.
The Yochlol spoke with a muddy, bubbling voice. None of the priestesses seemed to notice, but Sos’Umptu stopped her writhing long enough to peer hopefully up at the Handmaiden of Lolth as it declared the Spider Queen’s will.
“You seek to please the Spider Queen, but you are not strong enough.” It’s frightening maw flapped and tentacles waved about as it spoke. “The Spider Queen has renewed her relationship with the Seladrine Corellon Larethian. Indeed, she is now Araushnee once more, and together they have deceived the Elven Nations.”
“Praise be to the Queen of the Demonweb Pits!’ said Sos’Umptu, her voice cracking slightly. She tried to ignore her natural instinct to flee from the presence of the demon. She tried to assume a posture of deference and supplication to the Handmaiden, arching her back and lifting her head as she had been trained so long ago by her mentors. Yet, her eyes flashed with fear.
The Drow House guards were moving in the background, ignored by both the priestesses and the demon. They had received word from a sentry that Helm’s Hold was taking on much damage from the dragons assaulting Neverwinter. Apparently this damage was weakening the structure of the old cathedral. Several of the slave pits had been damaged and slaves were pouring out of their prisons. Although the Illithids were dealing with most of the slaves in quick order, some of the more frightening and valuable slaves from the lower depths had managed to escape without resistance. And apparently the mad dragon Chartilifax was on a rampage. The dragon reportedly was suffering from one of its psychological breaks again, and had murdered several of the Ashmadai monks assigned to the lower dungeons.
The Handmaiden shrieked, and lashed out at two of the House Guards. It pulled them toward the circle of nude females, pushing them aside as it shoved the helpless male Drow into its dripping maw. After devouring them, the demon addressed the Sergeant angrily. “Go below,” it shouted in a gravely voice. “Kill them all. Offer all of the slaves to the Spider Queen. Their blood and souls shall be a sacrifice!” The remaining Drow soldiers obeyed without question, running to the wooden stairs that would taken them to the dungeons.
The Handmaiden gazed back at Sos’Umptu and then lingered on the many priestesses kneeling around it. Slowly, the mass shifted. Acting as a portal to the Abyss, the yochlol allowed being after being to pass through it. Through the thinning yellow demon flesh they came one by one, covered in slime and ooze like a newly born babe. The creatures were clearly some kind of monster from the Demonweb Pits. But each of them wore the form of a muscular redheaded Drow, naked and glorious in appearance. And it was then that the high priestess realized that these creature were not male or female, but instead hermaphrodite.
Sos’Umptu wondered if it was neophilia that led her gaze lustfully on these beings from the Demonweb. They seemed to make her suddenly ache with an unbridled sexual desire. She gazed around to see that the other priestesses were reacting in the same way, moaning and purring with concupiscence.
After the last redhaired creature exited the gateway, the Yochlol reformed. Once again a mass of bubbling, dirty yellow waxy flesh, the thing spoke again. “We will empower you. The Queen demands it. Our seed will be planted and with all haste you will birth the dreadful warriors who will be used by the Spider Queen to strengthen your Houses.”
The Yochlol’s flesh began to change, and it approached Sos’Umptu. Waxy flesh turned into flawless Drow skin. Tentacles shrak and formed into arms and legs. The demon transformed into the guise of a hermaphrodite. As the thing approached, she held her breath. It’s hand reached down to her, gently stroking her cheek and chin. Sos’Umptu was visibly shaking now, as were the other priestesses. She gazed around to see each demonic creature select its own partner. And then the polymorphed Yochlol seized her roughly, and dragged her upward to embarce her in a powerful, passionate kiss.
And with that, the ritual orgy began within the once sacred halls of Helm’s Hold.
… TO BE CONTIUNUED …