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Literature
Iolaous and Lynear
Iolaous shielded his red eyes from the brightening dawn. The sun still stung his eyes even after a century of living on the surface. He passed through the market place and picked up a basket of fruit. Lynear loved fruit so he thought it would be a suitable gift for her. As he entered his lover's small home he found her still in bed. She lay on her side hugging her covers.
"Really still in bed? I'm surprised." He said as he opened her bedroom curtains.
He set the fruit basket down on a small table and bit into an apple. He smiled at Lynear who stare up at him. He then noticed her green eyes were red and puffy and her dark golden hair was wet on one side and stuck to her rosy cheek.
"Lynear whats wrong my dear, what could possibly bring tears to your pretty eyes?" He sat down next to her and placed his hand on her shoulder.
Fresh tears streamed down her cheeks as she looked away from Iolaous. " I just got back from the clerics".
"Clerics? Are you sick?", he couldn't understand why being
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Literature
Tainted Blood
Vyfil wandered the streets of Lusken. Several citizens of the city gave him leery looks; some even noticed that he was only half drow. He heard them curse "Half breed" under their breath. It didn't matter; he had come to Luskan for a reason.
 His father had been a drow captain from Waterdeep. He had won the trust of many by his good deeds. Vyfil and his sister were living a peaceful life when their father was killed two years ago. He was felled by a pirate named Mavok in an effort to save his friends. Over the years Vyfil became consumed with anger and hate. His father had warned him of Lolth's influence over the Drow and he could feel the goddess's presents keenly has he staked Luskan's streets, hell bent on revenge.
 He entered an abandoned building missing most of its windows. He saw three beggars within the building and approached a man sitting near a low burning fire. He knelt beside the man who smelled like he hadn't bathed in years. The man looked up at him surprised.
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Part 1

It all began many years ago with my father, Thatcher Paramont. My memories of my father were of a giving man. He always did his best to give my two brothers and me a good life and indeed my upbringing was quite happy. However, my father was a troubled man. The burden of his past weighed heavily on his soul. His stern face was weathered with signs of early aging and his raven black hair was peppered with grays. As a young girl I never knew of his past. It was a safe-guarded secret, much like I was to rest of the world.
I remember once when I was a child playing with my brother Ivan. We were playing a game of chase and running through the keep laughing loudly. Suddenly my father appeared from out of nowhere with anger burning in his eyes. He hoisted me up and shut me into a closet faster than I’d ever seen him move!
“Do as I say girl and make not a sound”, he said. I was surprised and scared of angering him any further so I barely breathed. Then I overheard him talking to someone I didn’t recognize. A stranger. Father always told me to be cautious of strangers. When the stranger left he took me from the safety of the closet and sat down beside me. “Vladriel, you must be careful. The outside world is not safe. Strangers must not know about you for they will not understand”, my father said. When I asked if it was because of my wings he nodded. I asked why I had wings and he said, “It is because your mother is a devil”. That next morning my father woke me early and handed me two small blades. The following years were spent playing with my brothers and learning proper swordsmanship.
One spring morning I was out doing chores with my brothers. Father was in town gathering supplies for my 15th birthday. While the boys were proclaiming which girl from town was the most beautiful, I heard yelling some distance away. I quietly backed away and sneaked into the forest. Once I had gotten closer I opened my wings and flew onto a low hanging branch to see my father confronted by two men. They were arguing with him.
“We can’t leave without you. It’s not like you made yourself easy to be contacted. No one just leaves the Zhentarim, Black Mask, you and I both know that’s not how it works!”, a man said to father. He had a slight build with rather unassuming features. His eyes were little more than slits as he leered at father. The other man remained in silence but his large form spoke for itself. I could see the suspicious man beginning to reach for his weapon. A sudden surge of anger flooding me as I dropped from my hiding place pulling forth my saber and dagger. I threaten the man with the pointy end and my face felt hot with my anger. A feral snarl rumbled from my lips. The stranger step back in surprise and fear.
“A winged demon”, he said nearly tripping over himself. I remained in place.
“The rumors are right”, he said in a hallowed voice and saw him wave his hand in a warding gesture.
From beside me I could hear father sighing. I remember the regretful look on his face.
“Val, you should have stayed away”, he said in a hollow voice. In a blur of motion, he threw two daggers, burying them deep in the two men’s chests. The big one dropped to the ground, dead on impact. The other man lay clutching his chest in horror, gargling on blood. Father paid no heed as he freed his weapons. He reached to the dying man’s hip fetching a coin purse, not a hidden weapon. I frowned and looked up at father, nervous and hesitant. A normal girl would have cried or ran in fear after seeing such a scene but I am not fully human. I’ve never been without pity or remorse however those emotions have always been cool and toned down. I was shocked to see my father kill but he had trained me since my youth in martial arts and what to expect in combat. He also taught when it’s wise to avoid a fighter but I had let my anger get the best of me. I stood quiet and solemn, waiting for father to speak.
“Grab his legs”, he said and gestured at the smaller man whom had finally gone silent. Thank the gods. I did as he said and we began dragging the men into the woods that surrounded our keep. I began to get winded as we neared our home.
“Leave him here for now”, father said while dropping the big man’s legs. We walked back to the keep and found my brothers Brent and Ivan grooming Meryl our Clydesdale.
“There you are. I was wondering where you two were”, Brent said. Father shrugged and began to saddle Meryl.
“I was checking our supplies and we’re low on fish. I need you two to head to the cabin tonight and fill our stock”, father said. They nodded and I could see them looking at each other with mischievous intent. Normally I’d have given them a snarky retort or rolled my eyes but I was feeling dour.
“Why are you being a sourpuss, Val? Is your devil blood making you a pouty pants again?”, Ivan teased trying to pull on my tail.
“That’s just how girls are”, Brent said. Normally fishing at the cabin was my only chance to retreat from the keep. Father was getting them away from home so I decided to play along. I flashed them a dirty look and flapped my wings and flew to my bedroom balcony.
Later I heard father in the pigeon coop and heard him release one from the window. He sent out pigeons from time to time. I kept a distance from him for the remainder of the day until the quiet and solitude became unbearable. Night had fallen hours ago and the dark was heavy in the keep. I found father sitting in his upholstered wingback chair in front of a dying fire. The room was thick from pipe smoke.
“Father”, I said in a small voice from the doorway. He shook himself from his reverie and turned his head toward me. He actually seemed relieved to see me.
“Val, come in. Please sit down,” he was quiet for a moment. “We should talk”, he said with a nod. I sensed that father was going to tell me something significant. He paced the room. I’d never seen my father appear so nervous and anxious.
“Why did that man call you ‘black mask’?, I asked which broke the silence. He eyed me and nodding again to himself. He sighed and sat next to me.
“Before you were born I was not a very good man. This very keep was bought in secret with blood money. Money I earned by working for the Zhentarim, a criminal network. For many years I did their bidding. The Zhentarim have many enemies and allies, devils being one of them. I found myself accompanying a local lord of our order to a meeting with one such devil. She wasn’t your run of the mill sort but a high ranking lordess and somehow I had caught her eye. You don’t turn down such a powerful creature and despite her being a devil she was quite beautiful. She was your mother, Glasya”, father fell silent again for a few moments.
“Short after I was sent on a mission. A man had betrayed our order and I was sent to dispose of him. I entered his home and buried my sword in his belly. I heard the sound of a pan falling to the floor and looked up to see a young woman stand in the hall in surprise. I hadn’t expected her to be there but she had seen me so I ran towards her shoving my blade into her neck. She cried out and tried to pull the blade out with her hands. As she lay dying in my arms she wept and I was sickened with myself. I’d never taken such an innocent life before. I told her right before she past that I was sorry. That is when I heard crying from another room and my heart sank further. There was Brent and Ivan barely older than babes. I decided to take the boys with me. Of course I couldn’t take a dead traitor's sons back with me. They’d be put to the sword nor could I abandon them to some misbegotten fate. All I could think of was their mother’s weeping face. So I ran away to Godwyn Silverspear”, he said and puffed on his pipe.
“Godwyn’s family had owned an inn called the Halfway Inn for several generations. He wasn’t connected with the Zhentarim but I had used his... ‘expertise’ for several years. He’s still the only man to this day I’ve ever trusted and call friend. Godwyn was able to find this keep abandoned and forged papers legitimizing my inheritance of the property.”, he said and took a long pull of his pipe again.
“That’s also when your mother came to my doors. You were tiny and swaddled in a blanket. Fresh from your mother’s womb. Hell is no place for such an innocent child. Though it pains me she’s better off with you, that’s what your mother said. She was tender and caring of you. Something you’d think was unbecoming of a devil. Harbor no ill will towards your mother. She did what was best for you and leaving you must have been hard”, father paced the room.
“Life was hard before but raising three young children alone was a new challenge! Bachelor to a full time father nearly overnight, but worth it. I’d do anything for you and your brothers. This is my amends for the lives I’ve taken”, he said. This had been the most I think I had ever seen my father speak at once! I didn’t have any time to digest this new information because we heard outside the sound of an approaching horse. Father peered out from the side of the window.
“Godwyn is early’’, he said and began heading downstairs.
“Godwyn? Here?”, I said in confusion and followed behind him.
“Aye, I messaged him earlier. Said it was urgent”.
Father went outside to greet our guest and I stayed behind in the doorway. Normally I was forbidden from being seen by strangers. The two greeted each other in a familiar long time no see sort of way. They clasp hands that turned into a shoulder hug. They spoke for a moment in a hushed tone and I was unable to hear what was being said. Finally, father raised his hand towards me.
“Come girl, meet our guests”, he said to me. I shyly made my way over. Godwyn walked besides a large mule and a young man close to my age sat astride the beast. Godwyn was a burly man with wild mostly white hair and a long thin beard of the same color.
“Aye Thatcher this is yer girl huh?”, he looked at me and smiled showing a row of yellowing teeth. “A bit flat chested ain’t she?”, he said over his shoulder at my father. From on top the mule I saw the young man look from my wings to my chest. I flushed and crossed my arms.
“This is my youngest lad Lucian. Figured I bring him since he’s close to yer girl’s age. Anyway let me stable this old gal and we’ll get started on business aye? Come Winifred”, Godwyn said and headed to the stable.
I looked up at father with a raised eyebrow, “He’s really your best friend?”, I asked. He shrugged.
“Aye, slim pickings I suppose. Val, why don’t you get started on a meal”, father asked. I rubbed my tired eyes and nodded.
Over the next hour we ate and they discussed how they would dispose the bodies of the Zhent men. Father worried that they had discovered his whereabouts. Godwyn said he’d already sent a message inquiring on any word from his contacts within the Zhentarim but he hadn’t heard news yet.
“Those two buffoons likely were asking around town for someone fitting your description and got lucky. Those two should have reported back before confronting you and by then I’d have caught wind”, Godwyn bellowed.
“Aye don’t worry too much. I’ll find ye another safe house soon enough”, he said and grew quiet. Apparently we were going to be moving. The thought made me excited and homesick at the same time.
As I slept father and Godwyn disposed of the dead men. The following morning, I decided to keep company with Lucian. He was somewhat cute with his curly brown hair and hazel eyes. He was learning a trade as an informant and forger like his father. He was also an aspiring bard. I didn’t tell him that he was rather terrible as he tried to impress me with his lyre. He banged away at the strings and flipped his bangs out of his eyes with a whirl of his head.
“It was nice meeting you Lucian. Hopefully you are the first of many friends”, I said when we parted ways. He looked a little disappointed.
“Aye Lady Vladriel, may we meet again soon. Farewell”, Lucian said. His mannerisms didn’t seem to fit his boyish looks and shaggy curly hair. Godwyn paced back towards the keep with his mule Winifred.
“Well I’ll be off then. Keep your eye out for the birds. I’ll keep you up to date”, Godwyn said as the two departed. I couldn’t shake the feeling of unrest within me. Father likely felt the same. Both of us anxiously waited for Brent and Ivan’s return. We packed our belongings and loaded them onto a carriage. The day was hot but a cool wind blew from the north taking the edge off the summer heat. It tossed some of my dark hair into my face and as I brushed it aside I saw a pigeon flying down from above. Father saw it too and we both watched it come into view. My eyes followed it as it came toward the keep, a small note attached to its tiny leg. That’s when I noticed smoke bellowing up in the distance. Exactly in the direction of our cabin.
We looked at each other in surprise. Father darted into the keep and came back with his blades and tossed one to me. We raced through the forest. I did my best to keep up but father was faster and he moved through the trees like a flying arrow. He reached the cabin and stood at the edge of the forest. As I approached I could see the fire ravaged building. By the time we had gotten there most of the walls had collapsed. In the center of the small cabin lay Brent’s and Ivan’s scorched forms. One of them had his arms around the other. I couldn’t tell one from the other for they were too badly burned. The scene was unbearable and my legs felt weak. I saw my father’s fists clench.
“We should have stayed friends”, came a cocky sounding voice from the side of the woods. I turned and saw several forms exit the forest across from us.
“Greyborn... you murdered my boys”, Father glowered.
“I liberated you. The great Black Mask turned into a homemaker. Pathetic. But I’m willing to forgive you, so be a good dog and return to me”, the cocky man who spoke was father’s age but his combed back ebony hair had far less grey.
Rage rose inside me and I let out a scream and rose into the air. I snarled again and whipped my blade right at the man’s face. It landed in the head of a man adjacent to him. “Glasya’s? Of course she is!”, Greyborn laughed and reached into his cloak then fired a small bolt at me from a hand crossbow. The bolt grazed my arm and I immediately felt strange as my body grew heavy and sluggish. I gasped in surprise as I began a downward glide. My feet landed heavily on the ground and I swayed. My father looked at me with worry as he drew his saber and short sword. He rushed forward diving under a sword then swinging his short sword at a wide angle into an enemy's chest while striking forward with his saber impaling another man right under his jaw. He twisted around and brought both swords in front of him and slashed another foe in the abdomen as he moved. He dove again as a greatsword bit into the earth where he was just standing. Father spun his short sword at an upward angle slashing open his adversary's throat. Blood sprayed the ground as the larger man clutched at his wound and fell to his knees. From the corner of my eye I saw Greyborn raise his crossbow. I went to call a warning but no sound came out. The poison had taken a hold of me and I fell to my side and watched in horror as a bolt streaked through the air and found my father’s back. He gasped and faltered long enough for club to wrack him in the head. Greyborn’s remaining men were on him in a flash beating and kicking him to the ground. He curled, covering his head with his hands. Greyborn walked past him to where I lay and picked up my head. I would have spat if I could but the best I could manage was a hateful glare.
“Do you know how much gold one of Glasya’s enemies would pay to get their hands on her daughter? No? Well you’re about to make me a wealthy man”, was the last thing I heard before the poison clouded my thoughts.
Vyfil wandered the streets of Lusken. Several citizens of the city gave him leery looks, some even noticed that he was only half drow. He heard them curse "Half breed" under their breath. It didn't matter, he had come to Luskan for a reason.
  His father had been a drow captain from Waterdeep. He had won the trust of many by his good deeds. Vyfil and his sister were living a peaceful life when their father was killed two years ago. He was felled by a pirate named Mavok in an effort to save his friends. Over the years Vyfil became consumed with anger and hate. His father had warned him of Lolth's influence over the Drow and he could feels the goddess's presents keenly has he staked Luskan's streets, hell bent on revenge.
  He entered an abandoned building missing most of it's windows. He saw three beggars within the building and approached a man sitting near a low burning fire. He knelt beside the man who smelled like he hadn't bathed in years. The man looked up at him surprised. "Oh not so wise for such a young man to be traveling these parts alone ya know".
  Vyfil crinkled his eye brows and decided to ignore the comment. He presented several gold pieces to the beggar and asked, " Where can I find Captain Mavok?".
  The beggar was silent for a few seconds before whispering, "Gully Street and the Broken Oak tavern" and then slowly accepted the coins.
  Gully street wasn't to far of a walk away but it began to rain so he pulled his cloak tight around him. Shortly after departing the abandoned building he arrived at the Broken Oak on Gully Street and in a dark alley, he waited.
  An hour passed until Mavok and his two minions exited the tavern. A large burn scar covered half his face, a souvenir left behind by his father. Vyfil hugged the shadows and gripped his dagger tightly as he staked his target.
  Slowly he crept up on the pirate and smiled as he noticed Mavok's exposed vitals. He tightened his grip on his dagger and gritted his teeth as he raised his dagger.
  As he lunged forward his father's face flashed in his mind. In that moment he felt filthy and his heart ached at the thought of betraying everything his father had stood for. His dagger fell to the ground, startling the pirates he was pursuing.  Time slowed and his ears perked to the sounds of the city around him. He heard the Mavok's lackeys walking toward him. He pulled back the hood of his cloak and locked eyes with the pirate captain.
"I could have had you", he said harshly. He looked down at the dagger on the ground. Mavok's gaze followed his to the dagger. Mavok looked back at Vyfil with an anger expression.
"Take care of this brat boys", Mavok said as he turned to walk away.
  Vyfil threw his fist into one of the lackey's face, knocking his head into the other man's head. They crumbled to the ground. Mavok turned and saw his men unconscious at the half drow's feet, a look of surprise written clearly on his face.
"I came to Luskan wanting revenge. Lolth be damned!, I will not dishonor my father. I will be back to bring you to justice if your sins don't devour you first", he promised. He turned and walked away, ignoring the string ofcurses Mavok yelled at his back.
  In the morning, Vyfil bought passage on a ship heading to Waterdeep. After a seven day journey he arrived in Waterdeep's harbor. It felt good to be back home. He felt different, like a heavy weight had been lifted off his back. When he got to his house and found his sister Yin waiting for him. She came running toward him. He greeted her with a smile and open his arms to hug her but instead she greet him with a heavy smack across his cheek.
"Vyfil! Do you have any idea how worried we've been? When mother found your note that you were going after Mavok in Luskan, she was sickened with grief. That's a suicide mission!", she yelled. Tears streamed down her face. "But here you are and I'm proud of you for your choice to not murder him", she said and hugged him tightly.
"Yin, how do you know that?", he asked looking down into her lilac eyes .
"I was so worried so I consulted Edni's aid. She cast a ritual to gather information from mystic sages". She paused for a moment. "Vyfil you have been claimed by Torm. Are you going to serve that god?" she asked.
He sighed loudly, Yin never ceased to surprise him. "Yep'', was all he said to her. They stared at each other for awhile, Vyfil couldn't stop the grin growing on his face.
"Okay but first please take a bath. Holy Nine Hells do you stink! You smell like a Gnome's laboratory!", Yin said while pushing him towards their front door. He sighed again and admitted that he needed a bath. He greeted his mother and head to the bath house.
After his much needed bath he headed over to Odin the blacksmith, his father's long time dwarf friend. He was at work pounding at what looked to be a shield. His nose was red from being over the hot forge. He eyed the half drow as he entered the room.
"Ye see yer mom and sis yet boy?", Odin asked still working on the shield.
"I have", he paused for a moment before adding  "I have a favor to ask of you".
"Yeah what could that be?", Odin asked, setting down his hammer.
"I've decided I want to be a knight. So please teach me how to use one of those," he said pointing at the shield.
Odin scratched his bearded chin for awhile. He walked over to his weapon rack and picked up a short sword. "Ye'll be needing one o' these too. Ye can start training with me and me boy starting in the morning ''.
He went to hand the sword to him but Vyfil declined it and picked up a bastard sword instead. "I was thinking more on the lines of one of these", smiling down at the dwarf.
"Hahaha, I like the way ye think boy", Odin laughed loudly.
  Ten days later Odin gave Vyfil his own shield. It carried the symbol of his father's ship, the symbol of a dawn and a single lightning bolt across the sky. He was in awe when he first lay eyes on it. He felt in his heart that he had made the right choice. He gripped the shield tight in his hand and felt his faith in Torm and his resolve strengthen tenfold.Two years later he stood in front of Neverwinter Academy with his sister and Odin's son. Yin looked up at him and said," Well here we are at last. Are you nervous?".                          
                                                                                                                   Vyfil's story continues...............

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buddylove1972 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
would love a line art of your skeleton pinup to airbrush on a shirt any possible way you can make this happen for me thanks.
just the line art so i can tranfer it to a shirt i think it would make a killer shirt.great art keep it up.
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