Captain Hartik Froth knew the battle was lost. All of his men were down and the barbarian had folded the Halfling lord, Krik Stonefellow in two. But Hartik noticed something odd about his assailant’s actions. He needed to know before they took him out.
Back on the third floor, Carsa Stonefellow and her guard ran and Arien gave chase. The two Halflings reached the door to the stairs when the guard burst into flames. He screamed and fell to one knee. The flames vanished as quickly they appeared. The guard only had minor burn marks on his body. Carsa looked up from the guard and saw Arien flicked her wrist to brush away smoke and sparks from her hand.
“Now, ya gonna tell me ‘bout Vermelda, or do I have to whoop ya like a rented mule?”
Carsa backed away towards the door.
“She’s the one who gave us this job?” Carsa replied.
“Job? Do go on.”
“Run, my lady!” the guard shouted as he stood up. Carsa turned and dashed for the door.
Arien drew her crossbow and fired, hitting the back of the guard as he shielded Carsa and giving her enough time to run through the door and out to the stairs. He fell dead when a bolt punctured his ribs and heart.
Hartik grabbed Roman and the two wrestled.
“Why did you kill the Halfling but not my men? What is it you want?” Hatrik struggled to yell at the barbarian.
Roman’s response was a roar. It was followed by Carsa’s scream of despair when she saw her brother’s limp body. “Krik! No!!”
“This isn’t what it looks like,” Maggie replied.
“Sharg!” Hartik shouted, struggling with Roman. “Run! Go get help. Go get Craghammer!”
“Why, Dorothy?” Sharg said, his eyes watered as he backed out and follow his captain’s order.
As Arien hooked her crossbow to her belt, she felt an odd, subtle chill around her neck. The jewel embedded in her throat began to glow. Something was wrong. Someone or something else was there. She hustled towards the stairs.
Roman tossed Hartik aside. He scowled at the dwarf guard, ready to pounce on him.
“Stay close, my liege!” Hartik shouted at Carsa. “We must help your father escape.”
Carsa’s eyes widened at Hartik.
Maggie had snuck around to the dwarf’s back. She grabbed the section between his neck and shoulder and pinched her fingers. Hartik fell to the ground like a sack of bricks, unconscious.
Roman raced up the stairs towards Carsa.
“You don’t know what you’ve done,” Carsa screamed as Roman grappled her, pinning her arms to her back.
“ Nolo!” Roman shouted. “Knock this bitch out, before I snap her neck.”
The mayor slowly slumped down the stairs to his son’s dead body. He knelt and wept. “I will avenge my manor,” he said, taking hold of a nearby sword.
“Hello, my lovely,” spoke an alluring voice behind Arien.
She spun around and saw a beautiful, tall, drow woman with radiant white hair. Her dark skin was smooth and perfect and her eyes glowed red.
The strange woman approached Arien. Her movements were slow, deliberate, and alluring. She reached out an arm. Several thin wisps of purplish-colored tendrils of energy extended from her fingers and tried to wrap around Arien’s neck. The half-drow violently shook her head and the wisps dissipated.
“A spell?” Arien whispered. She was confused.
The sorceress knew she should run, but a part of her couldn’t resist this woman. She was beautiful, captivating, and mysterious. Arien needed to know more about her.
“Who….who are you?”
“An ally. A friend. A lover,” the woman smiled.
Arien placed a hand on her crossbow. “Do you work for these Halflings? Are you working for Vermelda too?”
“Neither, my lovely,” her voice was as sweet as honey. “I am not here for them but for you, pretty little child. I am here for you and I can help, if you let me?”
Arien fiddled with the strap holding the crossbow.
“Follow me and I will show you,” she grinned, showing her white teeth. Arien’s heart skipped a beat. The strange woman backed away and walked down the hall.
“I…I have…friends,” Arien could not take her eyes off of the gorgeous creature as she followed.
“You don’t need them. There is no help for them. I can only save you, my lovely little kitten.” The drow stepped into one of the rooms.
Arien’s lips curled. “I don’t think so, not without my tiger.”
She turned and ran through the doorway to the stair. She heard a vicious snarl, like that of a wild beast, behind her.
At seeing Arien alive and well, Roman grabbed her and kissed her.
“Oh, good,” Nolo said, “She’s alright. That’s a relief.” He and Maggie stood over the prone body of the mayor who Nolo had knocked unconscious.
“So what now, boss man?” Maggie asked.
Roman wiped saliva from his mouth. “We need to get out of here, fast. Maggie, you carry the mayor. I’ll carry the Halfling woman. We don’t have much time.”
“But then where to?” Nolo asked. “Do you even have a plan after…”
“We go to the Dark Corner,” Roman interrupted. “We go see our ugly friend again.”
“Honey, dear,” Arien said to get Roman’s attention. She quickly told the others of her encounter with the strange woman upstairs.
“Should we see who she is?” Arien inquired her friends.
“I don’t know about this,” Nolo spoke up. “Something doesn’t feel right about this. We should just leave.”
“Do you think she can help us?” Roman asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe she can give us more answers.”
“Or more questions,” Nolo whispered under his breath.
“Fine,” Roman decided. “Let’s see who this drow woman is and be quick about it. Lead the way, Arien.”
Excerpt from “The Heroes of Xymor: The Criminal Years Vol. 1, Chapter 26: The Stonefellow Incident,” by Archmage Hannibal Kahnhari, Head Scholar and Headmaster of Ravencraft School of Sorcery and the Dark Arts.
The next series of events are not exactly forthcoming based on the little evidence. Most of the historical accounts of this minor event are from oral tradition such as bard songs and tavern storytellers. Very little is written on any sort of documents. Due to all the various incarnations of this single event, it is difficult to determine exactly what happened to the Heroes. What can be gleaned from all the different sources is that something grand occurred. The Heroes must have encountered the Drow temptress and fought her at the top level of Stonefellow Manor. Arien-gil Bihari faced the Drow magic to magic, casting wild and powerful spells at each other, while Magdalen of Aldingham jumped from shadow to shadow slaughtering the Drow’s demons with the aid of Nolofinwe of the Tasartir Clan using his nature magic to summon great tree spirits. All accounts tell of Roman using his great strength with the combination of Nolofinwe’s magic to vanquish the Drow by lifting her and throwing her into a magic portal of her own making.
It is odd that such an apparently important event has very little documented evidence. Yet there is one single document that is nearly 500 years old. It accounts a single interview from someone who claimed to be a descendant of Nolofinwe, but gives no name. The document is practically illegible, being faded and the language archaic at best. What can be deciphered is something about the heroes falling into a trap; Magdalen succumbed to her weakness of closed spaces and fell into a near comatose state; Arien’s acid magic failed her; Nolofinwe’s great wisdom could not help them escape and Roman Khan ran around the hallways searching for a key.
Most scholars dismiss this ancient document. It is believed to be lies, perhaps written from one of the many enemies of the Heroes to discredit their achievements. Based on the fact that no name is associated with the interview, that the recorded actions seem uncharacteristic of the Heroes, and that there are no other similar stories, orally or written, the document must be false.
The four companions ran down the stairs. Arien led the way to the back of the manor where they originally entered. As they stepped out and sneaked across the courtyard, they heard the roar of a vicious beast. They turned and saw a giant bear that appeared to be very angry and very hungry. Arien tried to use her magic to distract the creature while the group hurried to the exit, but it did very little. The companions knew the fight was inevitable…