The air above Wilawen was swirling like a tornado,
bearing curled flakes of charred flesh and the singed fragments
of what had once been the rooms rich furnishings, downwards
into the glowing portal through which the demon had escaped.
She struggled to free herself from Pharauns grasp. We
must get out of here, she cried, shouting over the roar
of the wind. Let go of me!
The drow released her.
Wilawen tried to rise, but the hot air tore at her head, crisping
her hair and scorching her face.
Come on! she shouted. Keep low!
On her belly, in the unnatural layer of stillness beneath the
chaos, she crawled to the door and, wrapping her hand in her leather
skirts, she reached up through the rushing heat, and tried to
turn the handle.
The door was locked. Of course! But the drow was behind
her. Open it! she bellowed.
Again, he obeyed, withdrawing a key from inside his tattered
robes, reaching uphis hand blistering as it entered the
whirlwindunlocking the door and turning the handle.
The door remained closed.
Push! cried Wilawen, throwing her weight against
it, the wind is sucking it in and holding it shut! Push!
Once again, the drow followed her orders, shoving the door until
it suddenly gave, and the pair scrambled throughWilawen
just managing to drag herself clear before it slammed shut again.
Give me the key! She turned the lock. That will
give it more support, but I am not sure it will hold for long;
the wood is being pulled apart
When will the wind die down?
It will not. Not by itself.
Wilawen frowned. You can stop
it? With your magic? Why do you not
A finger of air suddenly lifted her skirts, drawing her gaze to
a stream of dust, sparkling in the bluish light, that was flowing
beneath the door.
The wind is growing, she cried.
Come, said the female drow, beckoning. Quick!
She pointed to the ground beside her feet, for emphasis.
Calmly, Master Dínendal rose and joined her in the corridor
outside his small cell.
Another guest has asked for you, she said, in heavily
accented Westron, the surface elf with the magic hands
she called you. She is waiting for you in the steam room. Comethis
She had brought a lantern for his benefit, and she raised it
high, and led him along the passageway, prattling as she went,
I have five hundred saved, and a free afternoon next week,
so I may just decide to hire you and see for myself what all the
fuss is about
Dínendal followed her in silence, letting her chatter
wash over him, unheard. Rumil, he knew, was in the cell next to
his ownhe had been permitted to examine the injured elf
twice since they arrivedbut as to where the others might
He strained every one of his senses, searching for the
slightest sign of them.
I said this way, said the drow sharply, grasping
his arm and guiding him round a cornerand Dínendal
found himself face-to-face with Orophin, chained hand and foot,
being led in the opposite direction by a burly female brandishing
a snake whip.
In the dim light of the lanterns, the two elves exchanged a silent
greeting, and Dínendal managed to mouth, Do not
give up hope, before Orophins gaoler dragged him
We die, said Dínendal to the talkative girl.
If we are forced to couple against our will, like beasts,
Lucky, then, that you are so good with your hands,
said the drow.
Come away from the door! cried Wilawen, crouching
behind a chair.
Pharaun immediately dropped down beside her, obeying her without
question, like a child.
The woman frowned. What had happened to the confident Mage who
had used her as bait to lure a demon? Why was he being so compliant,
With a sudden flash of insight, she squared her shoulders and,
speaking in a firm voice, said, Take me back to the slave
The drow smiled, though his handsome face immediately crumpled
in pain. Clever, he said, delicately probing his blistered
skin with the tips of his fingers, but you are aiming too
Then take me outside, said Wilawen.
Still too far. The drow held up a scorched hand.
Now, try to be quiet. He closed his eyes and, moving
his fingers in a series of subtleand, Wilawen thought, rather
beautifulgestures, he said a few words in his own tongue.
In the dim lightmost of it streaming from beneath the shuddering
doorthe woman watched as the blisters on his hands and face
burst and drained, and the skin knitted itself together, the blemishes
quickly fading until the damage was completely healed.
Pharaun opened his eyes. You should close that mouth,
Wilawen held out her hands. Heal me.
Without the slightest hesitation, the drow repeated his conjuring
and Wilawen felt the pain seep away, to be replaced by a maddening
itching as her skin repaired itself. She scratched her
Stop that, said Pharaun, knocking her hand away.
You will spoil my work.
Wilawen clasped her hands behind her back and, looking into his
fiery eyes, said, There. Nowtake me out into the
With a sigh, Pharaun rose, and helped her to her feet.
Wilawen smiledbut her triumph was short-lived. There were,
she noticed now, two doors in the far corner of the opulently
furnished room, and she had no idea which was the right one. She
glanced at Pharaun.
How far could she trust the power she now seemed to have over
No, said Valandil. I am betrothed, soon
to be married. He sat down on his bunk and folded his arms
across his chest.
Betrothed? Not any more. The female drow stepped
inside his cell.
I will not betray my beloved, said Valandil.
The drow shrugged her shoulders. Who said anything about
betrayal? Just come and pleasure the Matron Mother.
No! Valandil rose to his feet. I will not lie
The drow raised her snake whip. Come, she said, coldly;
the snakes writhed with excitement.
No, said Valandil.
Then we must persuade you, she saidspeaking
of her snakesand she cracked the whip beside Valandils
ear, letting its venomous heads brush his cheek. Next time,
she hissed, they will use their fangsand you will
die. She raised the whip again. Now do as I say!
Valandil shook his head
The drow lashed her whip
And Valandilhis elven speed enhanced by desperationcaught
the writhing heads in both hands and, silently offering up a prayer
of remorse for the destruction of six enslaved beings, he snapped
The drowmentally bonded with her demonic weaponshrieked
in agony, lashing out with her free hand, knocking the elf to
the ground and kicking him, frenziedly. Animal! she
cried. Cursed of Lloth!
Valandil, dazed by her blows, curled up in a ball.
Coward! she screamed, kicking him again and again.
Piece of surface shit!
And she kicked and stamped, and might have killed him, if one
of her colleagues, drawn by the commotion, had not dragged her
from the cell.
Pharaun walked straight to one of the doors and grasped the keythen
jerked his hand back. There was something outsidesomething
with a deep, angry growl.
Open the door, Wilawen commanded.
This time there was a split-seconds hesitation before the
drow obeyed, but then he turned the key, pulled the door openand
was immediately knocked to the ground by a sleek, black shadow
that shot through the gap and skidded to a halt before Wilawen,
nuzzling her outstretched hand.
Patting Guenhwyvar, Wilawen smiled, through the doorway, at the
cats familiar companion. Pharaun, she said,
ask Drizzt what he is doing here.
Still sprawling on the floor, the Mage muttered something in
his own language then translated the other drows reply.
He is rescuing you, apparently. And you might help
Ignoring him, Wilawen glanced back towards the study doorit
was standing up to the whirlwind, but there was no telling for
how longshe would have to be quick. Ask him to come
insideand to shut the door, she said. Then ask
him if he knows where Valwhere my friends are.
He says that he followed the surface elves, said
Pharaun, struggling to his feet, to The Silken Racka
choice establishment, he added, brushing himself down, where
But his explanation was cut short by the sharp report of the
study door splitting, its two halves sucked inwards by the magical
Take us somewhere safe, cried Wilawen, quickly!
The special chamber
Smiling wickedly, Orophins naked guest brandished
the key to his shackles.
The elf held out his hands.
The female drow had hired a special chamber for her amorous adventurea
sculpted grotto featuring a canopied bed surrounded by a shallow
pool of gently lapping water, set amidst a garden of softly glowing
fungus; she was clearly a woman of some substance, and she was
bent on teasing himreaching between his outstretched arms,
she trailed the cold metal down his bare chest and slid it under
the waistband of his leggings, smiling triumphantly.
Orophin gritted his teeth, telling himself (again) that the only
way to survive this ordeal was to play along with her, andas
she continued to enjoy herself, slowly divesting him of his remaining
clothinghe tried to occupy his mind by analysing everything
he had learned so far.
The building is carved from living rock, he thought, and
appears to be windowless, its only weak points being the main
doorwhich Orophin had never seen but had deduced must
existand the rear entrance, through which we enteredwas
it only a day ago?
The drow wrapped her arms around his waist and slid herself
down his body. Orophin spread his legs and, clasping his shackled
hands together, braced himself.
With a little luck, I could retrace the route from my cell
back to the rear entrance
The drows hot mouth took him by surprise.
No! I must stop this. Now.
Holding his chains back in one hand, he placed the other hand
on the top of her head and, gently but firmly, pushed her away.
Allow me, mistress, he said. He had no idea whether
she could understand himbut when he lifted her onto the
bed, she seemed happy enough.
Where was I, he wondered. Yes
Retracing the route.
He ran his hands over the drows curvaceous hips, brought
them together, and slipped them between her shapely thighs, gently
spreading her legs. He leaned in.
His cell was one of eight and, since briefly seeing Dínendal,
he was reasonably certain that three of the others were occupied
by his companions. That means that up to four potential allies
are imprisoned in the rest, he thought. Surely, they will
want to escape with us?
The drow cried out in appreciation.
All that remains is to find eight weaponsand some way
of opening the doors.
Whilst Pharaun lockedand magically sealedthe door
to the devastated apartment, Drizzt returned the big cat to its
own dimension. Then the three unlikely allies hurried away into
the darkness, Drizzt carrying Wilawen over his shoulder.