Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Star was awake early. Or at least she thought it was early. It was easy to lose all sense of time when there was no sun. Ghaunt was busy making breakfast and Star whispered that she was going to check on Tori. Since Ardara had appointed her to care for her 'sacrifice', no one stopped her or even paid the least bit of attention to her, thinking she was a halfling and therefore beneath any pure Drows notice.

She went down the corridor that led to the kitchens and pointed to one of the scruffy children that waited there for orders, errands and whatever else they might be needed for. A small girl jumps up and heads into the kitchen, knowing that Star was taking care of Ardaras prisoner. She returns with a bowl of something that smells and resembles oatmeal, but Star isnt sure. She smiles her thanks to the little one and moves down the hall towards the great room and the passageway to the cells.

No one bothers her and she tries to look around as much as she can with her head lowered. Passing a darkened room she thinks she may have seen Keon. His dark face familiar under the hood of his robe. Star keeps walking, knowing she could not risk speaking to him.

Entering the great room she sees Ardara and struggles to control the expression on her face. She desperately wanted to toss the bowl and its contents into her face. Instead she waited until she was called and approaches Ardara slowly.

“So its Ghaunts little halfling come to preform her duties. Go ahead, I'll stop the Bal-Char. I dont imagine it will hurt her to eat one last time...” Ardara heads down the hall, Star close behind, wondering at Ardaras words.

With a strange contorted wave of Ardaras slim hands the dripping Bal-Char slows to a drip and then stops. Star steps into the cell and glancing over her shoulder sees the Priestess leave, speaking with someone in a gray robe.

Star kneels next to Tori, her heart going out to her brothers chosen. Her skin was even paler today, one of her eyes bruised and swollen shut. Her heart ached with the words of comfort she wanted to say but didnt dare, a guard was standing near the hallway. Instead she took one of Toris hands to get her attention. Tori focused her good eye on Star, and stared, not quite believing that Star was really there, right in front of her, looking for all the world like a Drow servant.

“Is it really you? You look so....foreign...and yet still beautiful. I know they keep drugging me...or trying to...maybe my mind is playing tricks on me...” Tori pauses, listening to her brothers voice.

It is Star. She is playing mute so she can get close to you...

Before Star can give Tori the food a guard steps in and hauls her roughly to her feet. “Enough! The Priest wants to get her ready for the sacrifice..” He pushes Star aside as several guards enter. It takes at least four to subdue Tori who is screaming and swearing in Gaelic as well as landing a few well placed kicks. When they finally have her on her feet a chain is wrapped between the ankle and wrist cuffs, effectively keeping her still.

One of the guards, the larger one that will now be sporting a black eye grabs Tori by the neck, cutting off her oxygen. “I wont miss you, thats for sure. I hope Lolth picks your bones clean...” His gaze lands on Toris viper necklace and as he lets go of her neck he pulls it off and tosses it on the floor. “You wont be needing any fancy jewelry where you are going..” Tori tucks her hand into the metal cuff, keeping her bracelet out of sight. If she were going to die she wanted some part of Tannr with her.

Star stands slowly as Tori is half dragged from the cell. She follows and then turns to look at the necklace on the floor, just inside of the entrance to the cell. She hadnt seen Ardara watching from the shadows in the hall.

The Bal-Char is barely begins to drip and Star starts to count the drips, trying to figure how fast she has to move to grab the necklace. She sits on the floor and slips off her cloak, the pale crescent moons standing out in sharp relief against the dark grey of her dyed skin.

Fast as lightening Star makes a grab for the necklace. She doesnt see Ardara, who with a wave, makes the acid drip a little faster. The Bal-Char splashes on the bowl Star left on the floor and the mist that rises as the bowl is dissolved contains small droplets of the acid that hit Stars upper arms. She moans and curls her body forward, the pain intense even from such a minute amount of the acid. With tears streaming down her face she opens her hand. She has the necklace. She gets to her feet and steadies herself. Then she runs all the way to the stables to tell Tannr and Ghaunt.

She never sees Ardara who smiles to herself. Just who and what are you? There'll be time to find out after this ceremony. I think there is more to Ghaunts halfling than meets the eye....

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