Part 3: Forgetting

Strange things are occuring this night.

It was a vast understatement.

The thought belonged to one warrior among many that stood one a battlefield strewn with the corpses of giant spiders. The spiders had charged out of the Spiderhaunt woods. Seemingly every adult arachnid in the cursed place had suddenly acquired the urge to stampede into the Elven Woods by whatever path was the most expedient. They had not tarried to fight except when deliberately intercepted, merely passed through in a hideous swarm of the gigantic creatures.

The monsters had barely noticed when they were slaughtered by the score by the ever-ready Dalesman that stood between them and their goal. Now the Dalesman glanced about and wondered what force could so drive the survival centered creatures on that blind march to their deaths.

The priestesses and warriors of Eilistraee frowned and considered it. It had been a desparate charge indeed. And the followers of Vhaerun had seemed quite of late.

Lolth lowered her arms and struggled to regain the power she had just used before any more residents of the abyss saw her current weakness and stepped in to finish what her son and his allies had started. The Queen of the Demonweb banished all signs of weakness

and fatigue as she settled back on her feet to regard results of her battle.

She had won, barely, though she had failed to destroy any of the other gods that had so directly threatened her. It mattered not, even with the losses in the ranks of her believers she would recover long before they would, and then she could handle them easily.

All that she had to do was maintain the bluff that she could protect herself well enough for the demon hordes to delay their attack on her too long.

Demons were stupid things in her estimation, and, after seeing her battle Selvatarm and Malar, those two of her enemies that attacked directly, in what seemed such an easy matter, it would be easy to deceive them long enough. She looked for to the chance to destroy them later when they attacked too late, and smiled darkly and expectantly at the hordes gathered around her on her level of the Abyss. They stepped back, seeming to recognize the eager desire she had for their attack, and Lolth laughed loudly and insanely.

"Excellent performance," an amused and cold voice said. Lolth turned about languidly, as if annoyed, and snarled upon finding what seemed to be a gaunt, dark-haired man with a hawkish nose applauding her.

"What are you doing here?" Lolth demanded dryly, hiding the terror that suddenly pierced to her cold heart.

"Securing my interests," the man said, smiling as he stood up. "What else? You gods are so set in your ways, and think in such straight lines. It's amazing you've lasted as long as you have as predictable as you are."

"You think I didn't know of your involvement?" Lolth asked. "These five could hardly organize something so massive without my knowing. And they were fighting each other as much as they were me."

"Hence your survival," the man said, smirking. "I set them upon you, but individually. It was so simple to instigate these crusades, and as for Malar...aren't you the hunting trophy that would make his name?"

"Leave before I make you suffer, Cyric," she growled arrogantly. "This is my home you cannot face me here and hope to win."

"Maybe not normally," Cyric smiled, and he lashed outward at the goddess with an outstretched hand.

Instantly Lolth's form doubled over and screamed in pain for what seemed an eternity. It was a scream that was echoed a million times over out of the throat of even the most minor of her priestesses.

Cyric released his spell and the demon goddess shrank down to the slimy ground of the Abyss, panting for breath. The dark god strode over and lifted her up by the hair, eliciting a growled expression of fury from the goddess and a weak dark lightning that pinged off of Cyric's chest and died uselessly.

"You are spent Lolth, well and truly spent," Cyric said. "Now you have two choices. I can use you as I wish and then toss you to these demons to do with what they'd like, then offer my services to your worshippers when they discover you dead. They'll need someone strong to protect them from the Underdark after the reputation you've helped them make for themselves. You've trained them well for this sort of thing, they will accept the stronger power when forced, that is the way of the drow after all." He smiled at that, implying that the drow were just as predictable as the gods. "The second choice is for you to become my queen, certainly that is more productive for us both. It saves me a lot effort and you stay alive."

"You'll use my people as fodder against Bane," Lolth snapped. "I did not spend ages creating them to see them tossed aside as trash."

"At least not before you acquired a worshipper base among other beings that is," Cyric smirked. "Fear not for that, as my queen, all my worshippers shall pay homage to you as well, and you would have no need of the Drow. In time, when I find my book, I shall show you the true glory of what I am giving you, and you will then understand totally." Lolth forcibly repressed a shiver at that, she knew the book he spoke of, the book that had almost bound M ask's loyalty to the dark god, and Mask had had greater power than she did.

"And why give me this choice?" Lolth asked, buying time for a gambit.

"You have always worked closely with Bane in the past," Cyric said honestly, smiling still holding her up by the hair. "Though always on your terms. Imagine when Bane sees you serving me in all that I require." His eyes raked over her leeringly. Lolth knew it was an act, Cyric cared nothing for such things. It disgusted her all the more to think that he would believe such low methods could intimidate her. "What do you care so long as you live and have the chance to pull me down later? I'll even punish your peers and Malar for this assault if you wish."

"You are far too predictable, mortal-born," Lolth laughed. Cyric growled, the humor vanishing from his face.

"You gods could all do with more time as a mortal," he muttered gravely. "I suppose this means you refuse."

"I shall see you dead at my feet, God of Intrigue," she snapped, and expended the last of her energy on a desparate gambit. Cyric roared as he felt her extending her consciousness outward, trying to leave the shell that she had been shrunk down to in the exhaustive battle.

"Then DIE!!!" Cyric roared striking his hand into the goddess's flesh to grab at her essence and try to destroy it. He caught hold of her true self and squeezed tightly as she tore out of his grasp.

The Dalelands night was lit as bright as day as what seemed to be a meteor slammed into the land of Mistledale. Still reeling from the strange, suicidal charge of the spiders during the daylight, the warriors of the Dales were quick to respond with a contingent of warriors heavily reinforced by magicians and clerics.

What they found when they arrived was a vast charred, crater. The fire had apparently burned too hot too quickly to spread, but that left the great hole in the fields and that would have to be accounted for in trade. Then they found her.

Nude, burned and battered, obviously she had been standing at the edge of the explosion and tossed backwards through the fields. The men regarded the Drow female with open distaste and distrust.

"Here now," one of the officers snapped. "She might be one of the Dark Maiden's folk."

"And if she's one of Vhaerun's?" another asked. "Or worse, Lolth's?" There was some irritated mumbling.

"Get her clothes and bind her," someone finally said. "We'll learn her nature when she awakens."

It was when they were turning her over that they saw the red hour-glass blazoned across her back, more vibrant than any tattoo had a right to be.

"There, see for yourself!" somebody shouted again looking at that incriminating mark. "Sure she's a follower of the Spider Queen."

"Then restrain her and we can question her about this day's proceedings," the officer snapped irritatingly. "In any case she is worth more to us alive than dead."

She awoke slowly and blinked around, gazing about her with a distinct lack of recognition. Her hands her bound and her mouth was gagged, she noted angrily. She stood up groggily and almost fell back down in dizziness. She stumbled to the door of her cell and pounded furiously at the doors.

She was answered quickly by strange seeming men speaking some sort of gibberish nonsense. They certainly weren't what she was expecting. They left and returned with more men that seemed more important. They undid her gag which allowed her to unleash all the anger she had been feeling.

They turned to one of their number, who looked back confused and uncertain.

"You worms don't even speak a proper tongue and you presume to bind me?" she snapped angrily. Of course, they could not understand her. They spoke a new form of gibberish at her that seemed closer to an actual language but not quite.

One of them finally cast a spell and the elf woman felt the imperative to tell the truth fall over her even as the man cast another spell.

"You don't speak the drow language?" the man asked, obviously through the help of his spell.

"What is a Drow?" she asked angrily. "Untie me!"