“There is a deep sadness that lingers about this place. Do you feel it, cousin?” “...Without question. The echoes of aeons passed fade, but are not ever forgotten.“
Arnnivae opened her eyes and turned to regard the quessir beside her. Black hair, the color of a raven’s wing. Bright blue eyes with a ring of gold within them. Meticulously attired, a sheathed blade at his side, the curve of the hilt suggesting a rapier. A warrior from his stance, alert and eager.
Before them loomed the entrance to what many within the village believed to be abandoned ruins. Many hopeful adventurers had entered, often seeking lost treasures or desiring to test their mettle against the floating mechanical creatures that roamed the stone hallways within or the shambling, disfigured undead that rose from their slumber night after night. Not all had re-emerged from the ruins to taste once more the cool breeze that swept down from the mountains. They did not remember the name of the quessir lord that had once been exalted and honored by the People here. It was for this fading memory that she had come, the first of many stories she would have to learn, the first of many tasks in the path she had chosen.
Like the land, the quessir before her bore visible scars of battles long past, each one a story untold, a story to be collected.
“It is time you learn the necessary requirements to destroy such things.”
Arnnivae had kept the unholy relic carefully contained from the sight of the sun and the stars, wrapped in a white cloth blessed by the Heavenly who had suggested that she travel to Cormyr, and sealed in a box that had been written with the runes to protect against great evil. She knew better than to touch such things, to give any opportunity for the taint that radiated from it.
The quessir beside her watched the careful transfer of the Spider Queens’ relic and the preparation for its destruction. He was a striking figure in heavy armor the blue of the open sky, the first and the only quessir she had felt compelled to address amongst all the others gathered in the village that day. An arkerynsuoress of the Protector, the Lady of Dreams had guided her to.
In the distance, thunder rumbled, and the dark-hared quessir by the natural stone pillars hesitated, his bright green eyes turning towards her companion for guidance. It seemed as if someone else uttered the words, even though the voice floating softly through the sacred grove was hers.
“He will lend you his strength, regardless of the weapon used, if your heart is pure.”
“I prayed, and was honored, to my... surprise.” “Why should you be surprised? You were born of the blood of Corellon mixed with the tears of Sehanine.”
She watched his expression as he explained. He honored the Seldarine, too, but the Forest Queen had saved his life. He owed her. Those were his words, and she could not help but feel sudden pangs of sorrow. His devotion was born out of obligation, not pure love. Even though she could feel reverence and awe as he described the creature that had captured his heart, she could not help but mourn that should he fall, she could never guide him, as she could other quessir, to the gates of Arvanaith. What time they had was the only time they would be spared.
“The sickness is... barely being kept at bay.” “It's preventing him from being able to reverie, which brings him a lot of discomfort from the lack of communion with the rest of us...”
They both were unable to hide their horror at the thought of one of their kin so suddenly cut off and isolated from the People. To be present in body yet so absent in spirit from all others… Arnnivae shuddered, involuntarily. A tenday, perhaps two, perhaps three, falling from the lips from the etriel before them. Even one day was too much for Arnnivae.
The moon would not be at her fullest in form or power for another two tendays, but before that time, perhaps she could gather a few things to help ease the way for him. Three things she would need. Things from the place that harmed him, things from the places that he loved, and things from the places that he yet wished to go.
They betray our ways. They deserve nothing but the sword.
She could still feel his gaze on her, following every movement as she moved through her devotions, from the subtle press of her hand to caress the streaming beams of moonlight that illuminated the clearing to the arch of her back as she offered her arms to the night sky. But the words of the other dark-haired quessir lingered, a whispering echo that frayed the serenity she sought. The things he had told her had been both troubling and perplexing, actions and behaviors she would have never conceived of, much less considered. And here, they were acted upon.
She sank into the grass, exhausted, the answers to her questions still elusive. There were no visions tonight, just a pair of bright eyes looking out from the edge of the woods.