*Below is another bit of fiction about Suriel, my elf invoker, from Erik Scott de Bie's 4e Forgotten Realms campaign. We have just completed the second installment of the tomb of horros and Suriel has discovered that she is more than she every imagined*
Rocks fell from the ceiling of the crypt, smashing the few remnants of the necromantic ritual structure that had itself just fallen to pieces, crashing down to the wet stone floor. The black necrotic sludge that dripped from every surface of this place splashed drops of decay onto the hand of the drow woman laying there, but was barely visible against the ebony hue of her skin. She stared at her hand even as the sludge withered it. A man nearby yelled something, but she could only gaze in astonishment.
Her skin and hair had changed. She had become a drow.
“What are you doing? Get into the circle! This lich hole is coming down. Come on!”
The man was insistent, frantic, but her mind swam in a maelstrom of emotions and memories…not all of which were her own. The memories flashed as visions, drowning her in their flood. She saw herself in a hall of polished stone, wielding the crescent blade against a creature made of green ooze. She was in Xara’s camp being tortured. She trod a moonlit forest as if it were her home. She lay in bed with Varzynthiir, their hands entwined while they slept. She called down a raging spell of silver fire against a wave of foes. A horrific parody of a drow with spider mandibles protruding from her stomach brought a sword to bear on her and felt it slice through her neck.
The violence of the final vision snapped her from her reverie. The tomb was about to collapse on her and a group of people stood nearby in the bounds of a teleportation circle, reaching for her and calling her name.
Was that her name? It didn’t seem right. It was unfamiliar. It didn’t taste right on her tongue.
If that was not her name, then what was?
“Suriel, pick your scrawny ass up and move!”
Now she recognized the half elf with the worried face who just hauled her up from the floor and half dragged, half carried her into the magic ring. His name was Brandis. He was her half brother. They traveled together with their friends, the Spellswords, and he was calling her Suriel. As her exasperated sibling dropped her to the ground and yelled at the dragonborn with the black magic staff, she surveyed the room and more memories rose to the surface of the deluge in her mind.
“Ulik. Get us out of here. Punch it!”
Yes, she remembered now. This chamber had been the focus of a great necromantic ritual created by the demilich Larloch that had been channeling souls into the portal they now stood in, but the necrotic engine powering that ritual now lay in ruins around them, its purpose disrupted. She had created a moonbridge that deflected the souls away from the ritual portal into her own portal she had created through sheer force of divine will into Arvandor, the astral realm of the Seldarine.
“Just a second! I have to change these runes so we end up back in the mortal world.”
Why had she done that? Why a moonbridge? This was the second time she had created one, but never once did she learn such a spell in all her studies of divine and arcane magic. It was the same as when she called down silver fire on Xara during their final showdown. She had never learned that powerful spell, reserved for only the Chosen of Mystra. It had come to her as if by instinct.
“Just do it!”
She looked down at the crescent blade in her hand. She clutched it loosely with the pale white fingers of the elf Suriel once again, but she knew those fingers for what they were and it opened a well of fear and sadness that threatened to swallow her.
They were merely a shell for what truly lay inside.
The world went dark as the teleportation magic took effect just as the chamber came crashing down.
When her vision returned, she saw her own reflection in a gilded mirror. She had seen it before in Waterdeep at Lady Ilira’s gown shop. She was wearing her old robes, the voluminous set she had departed the feywild with. It felt heavy and cumbersome now that she had worn the lighter gowns her restored beauty allowed. At her feet Lady Ilira herself knelt before her, sewing pins in her mouth, and a pair of shears in her hand that she wielded to cut strips of fabric from the hem of the heavy robes.
“Lady Ilira! Why are we in your shop in Waterdeep? Where are my companions?”
“Come now, you’re brighter than that I should think.” Suriel twisted around to see the voice that had come, not from Ilira, but from behind her. It was Kyriani, former Blackstaff, and she was quite right. They were not in the shop at all. They were not even in Waterdeep. They were in the temple to the Seldarine in Mithrendain.
Not just any room of the temple either, but the inner sanctum. She had only been in this room nestled at the top of a tower, built around the trunk of an ancient tree, once. The sanctum was built amongst the uppermost branches, which forked delicately through the air. Above, they had been woven together into a latticed dome of ancient wood and leaves along with a spell to keep out the rain and other elements. Every branch had been inlaid with silver and they glowed with the eldritch light of the words of power they contained.
In niches around the circular room were beautifully wrought marble statues of the greater Seldarine. There was Sehanine Moonbow, Lady of Dreams, with a crescent moon upon her brow. Next to her was Labelas Enoreth, clutching an ancient tome in one hand and an hourglass in the other, as well as Hanali Celanil with her golden heart cradled in upturned palms. They were all here on the outskirts of the room, save for one. In the center, resting on a natural altar created by the branching of the thick central trunk of the tree, was a brilliant blue jewel in the shape of an eight pointed star, the symbol of Correlon. The light of the moon and stars streaming through the branch made dome struck the jewel and seemed to be amplified by it, sending brilliant pale blue light streaking about the room as it thrummed with the sound of barely contained power.
Even more shocking than where she now stood was who was in the room with her. In addition to Kyrani and Lady Ilira was Lady Saharel, the ghost-lich of Spellgard, Lady Lorien Dawnbringer, priestess of Sune, and her old enemy Xara. They stood in a crescent around her with inscrutable expressions. Kyrani, just like she had in a recent dream, held the crescent blade and leaned on it like a staff.
“You can’t be here. This room has a forbiddance spell on it. We could not have just teleported here and...well also most of you are dead!” Suriel tried to turn around, but Ilira held her firmly by the robes she wore even as she continued to cut away pieces of it.
“Not your most piercing observation, but true nonetheless.” Kyrani smirked and shifted her weight. “You brought us here, though we are not truly here. You thought of this place just as the spell of the teleportation circle was activated. We are in the place between worlds where time and space have no meaning. The space that portals traverse to connect the planes of existence. We are here, but we are everywhere, though soon we will be gone.”
Lady Dawnbringer reached out and gently took the crescent blade from the half drow at her side. “We are here because we felt your despair. Tell us what saddens you and why this beautiful sanctuary is the source of that sadness.”
The sound of Ilira’s shears continued to snip and hack away at Suriel’s old robes, making them shorter and lighter.
“I...” Suriel’s voice cracked as tears welled up and the sadness threatened to swallow her again. “I realized that I am not myself. I am just a shell, a pawn that will soon be discarded.”
Lady Saharel grasped the crescent blade in ghostly hands as it was passed to her from Lady Dawnbringer. “Leave riddles and vague speech to prophecy elf child. Speak plainly and say what it is you think.”
Suriel scrubbed tears from her cheeks, ashamed to let these powerful women see her be weak. “It was in this room that I was blessed by the presence of Corellon. He came to me at the end of a ritual of supplication and he planted a seed of his power inside of me. I thought he had made me his hand, his representative in the mortal realm. Now I see that I was just the vessel for the seed of his daughter Eilistraee. Her memories and her power are flooding my mind and I will be washed away by the force of her divine presence. Every time I draw deeply on the divine realm, I take on her appearance and soon I will become her.”
Lady Saharel smiled knowingly. “You use the word 'seed' more perfectly than you know young one, but your fear is unfounded. Does a seed not take into itself the essence of the earth in which it is planted? As it grows into a tree, does its shape not change, though it remains a tree? As it grows tall, strong, and beautiful, does it not still root itself in the very ground where it was grown?”
“But, if part of me comes from someone else, I will no longer be me.”
“You are afraid! You reek of fear. Pathetic.” Xara had angrily snatched the crescent blade from the lich’s hands and shook the blade at Suriel. At the same time Lady Ilira’s shears removed a sleeve of Suriel’s garments, which fell to the floor.
“Be silent Xara!” Suriel’s anger flared and she pointed her now naked arm accusingly at her enemy. “You know nothing of me. I gave myself willingly to Corellon, body and soul. If this is to be his use of me, it is an honor to bring back one of the Seldarine to this world.” Her breath heaved and tears flowed fresh down her face. “But I cannot ignore this sadness within me. If the gods wish to use me for their purposes, I give my body gladly, but my heart is no longer entirely my own to give. I now know the love of the heart for the first time in my life. If I am gone, or become something else, what will happen to the one I love? I don’t want that love to break and his soul to turn back to darkness in despair. He is too important to me for that fate.” She sobbed and the tears flowed like rain from her eyes.
Kyrani raised her hand and snapped her fingers. The crescent blade spun out of Xara’s hands and back into the wizard’s. Kyrani struck the sword against the stone like a staff, making a sharp clanging noise. Suriel’s sobs died away at the sound and she looked at Kyrani through wet eyes. “You will still be you, but you will also be her...though are you so sure that it is Eilistraee you become? In my very tower you cast a spell of silver fire. That spell is known only to Mystra and her Chosen. Eilistraee could never cast such a spell. Perhaps who you have been is not so different from who you will become. Perhaps you have always been this other person.”
“Are you saying that it is not Eilistraee’s soul inside me, but instead that of the woman I’ve seen in my visions? The priestess Qilue?”
Kyrani passed the sword to Lady Saharel. “I have seen the moment when Qilue was slain by Lolth’s twisted servant the Lady Penitent. The goddess Eilistraee dwelled inside her at that moment. When Qilue was slain, so was Eilistraee. The two are now entwined in death. Perhaps it was Qilue’s mortal soul, destined for the afterlife of Arvandor, that prevented Eilistraee’s essence from disappearing into the void, which is the fate of any dead god. Who can say except perhaps Corellon himself?”
“Then I am becoming two women and a goddess!" Suriel clutched her head. "Surely I will go mad, if I am not already."
Xara practically stomped over to the lich and held out her hand expectantly. Lady Saharel gently laid the crescent blade in the drow’s palm. “I was not vanquished by some weak willed, mewling roth. You vanquished me because you are strong, clever, and resilient.” She held up the crescent blade so that the light of the blue star on the altar was reflected in its edge. “This change will make you even stronger.” Xara knelt and turned the crescent blade around, offering the hilt to uriel. “You will gain their memories, their powers, and you, YOU will add them to your own being to become something new. Like this sword, you will take pieces of old power into yourself and be reforged.”
Lady Ilira cut the fabric from Suriel’s shoulder and the last of the robe fell to the ground leaving her naked. She looked down and again her skin was black and she saw wisps of white hair cascading over her shoulder and reaching almost to the floor. She moved forward, haltingly...tentatively, like a woman first learning the steps to a new dance. With tears still glistening in her eyes she took the blade from her dead enemy's willing grasp and held it high above her head.
A crescent moon shone through the branches of the tree and the blade glowed radiant white.
Then all was darkness again as the teleportation spell was completed.