I have sensation of time passing, although I have no way of knowing how long. Perhaps it is only a few moments, or a few days. Or perhaps it is longer. It is difficult to decide. And difficult to care.
It is mostly cool here. Or is it warm? Sensations are nebulous and difficult to grasp, slipping away like tendrils of smoke. But I am comfortable. At least, I think so.
A feeling of falling for a moment or an eternity. A sudden jolt that is soft and comforting in an excruciatingly painful way. The amorphous boundaries of the universe shatter into millions of tiny scarlet boulders of emerald liquid…
Cold air rushes into my lungs as they struggle to recall their function. Several strange spasms seem to clear the problem, uncovering the smell of damp stone, fungus, and decay.
The hardness of a stone floor feels vaguely familiar, like an old memory niggling at the edges of my mind. I accept an urge to push down with my lower limbs, lifting my vantage point up to a more comfortable level.
A weight pulls on my left arm, dragging it down. I remember the shield given to me by Sister Gloriana before I left the temple. Was it always this heavy?
My hand reflexively reaches for the silver amulet about my neck, and I feel calmed by the now-familiar contours of the Goddess’ icon. Warmth and strength flow from within, reawakening the teachings of the elders, learned in my youth.
I become aware of a small pale object near my head, circling quickly. Several attempts allow me to finally grasp the tiny pink spindle and I gaze at it for a moment before remembering a purpose and allowing the device to resume its orbit.
A small sound nearby draws my attention, prompting a look beyond the small space around me. Several slim, dark-skinned creatures stand nearby, watching me with what I recognize as expectation. Clad in a diverse array of clothing and equipment, they do little but watch and wait. A memory tickles the edges of my awareness. Elves. No, that is not right. Dark elves. Drow. Creatures of darkness and evil. Opposed to the Goddess and her servants.
I glance about quickly, looking for way out, but the drow stand between me and the only apparent entrance. Although they have no weapons in hand, they appear armed and clearly capable. There is no hope of escape. I murmur a silent prayer to the Dawnflower, spread my arms to show that I have no weapons, and address the dark elf standing closest to me.
“It appears that I am at your mercy. I humbly submit to your will and pray to the Goddess for your redemption and return to grace.”
One of the drow draws his sword. It glows with a light that is nearly blinding in the dim chamber. He raises the sword and I lower my head, waiting for the death blow.
But the drow does not strike. “Don’t be alarmed,” he says. “We are not quite as we seem.”
I look up, and as my eyes adapt to the light I can see the image of Our Lady engraved upon the sword.
“You see,” he says, “we’re on the same side. My name’s Logen. What’s yours?”
The other drow seem undisturbed by the light of the sword, and none appear surprised by Logen’s words or mercy. Confusion wrestles with relief as my still foggy mind is slow to grasp the meaning of the dark elf’s strangely accented words. I again utter a silent prayer to the wisdom and mercy of the Dawnflower as my heartbeat gradually settles to a dull pounding. I grasp the slim, calloused hand of the drow warrior, fighting to keep from pumping too eagerly in my relief.
“Corvin McGovern. I’m very pleased to meet you, brother Logen. I’ve never been so happy to see the Light of the Goddess as I was just now. It can only be by her wisdom and providence that I’ve been found by a group of Her servants amidst the eternal night of the Underdark.”
Logen withdraws his hand from my grip, looking somewhat abashed. “I wouldn’t go that far,” he says. “That one’s for Aroden.” He gestures toward the most heavily-armoured of his companions. “As for the others, well, I couldn’t really say.”
“But never mind that,” Logen continues. “We’re the only friends you’re likely to find around here, and it looks like the Goddess sent you to us just as we’re getting ready to leave. Although I can’t promise you’ll like the place we’re going any better.”