Surfacing Ch. 35byEtaski©
Author's Notes: This story is erotic fantasy written by Etaski. I reserve the right to be listed as the author of this story, wherever it is posted. If found posted anywhere except Literotica.com with this note attached, this story is posted without my permission. (c) Etaski 2016.
The Drow-Shattering Kaboom. Part 3 of 3. As promised, one of the major events I've been planning and working toward for 3 years! ^_^ Take your time; this chapter is nearly the equivalent of two of my regular chapters! It is the longest chapter to date.
Surfacing Chapter 35
Sadly, the bath and the sex had to wait—there was a time limit, I was told—and the large half-blood cradling me was correct that I should first wait, patiently, for the details to return. I knew I was among allies; I knew I was healing. I knew I was tired. But the young fighter was right; I couldn't remember my name.
In the meantime, several others including him took control and directed those things immediate and practical—collecting items not to be left behind, checking for overall mobility in everybody, and preparing to leave the spider's den. I knew some additional healing was going on; everyone was exhausted, but we all had to get to our feet sooner rather than later.
I got up after pulling my pants and boots back on. There was nothing to be done for my armor at the moment; even a mend spell might not be worth it. Half my chest was exposed and the leatherwork simply needed to be replaced. I noticed my tits were tender and warm; unsurprising if one was pregnant. And I knew I was; he had finally kicked, letting me know he was alive.
In the wake of that bone-melting relief, I remembered my baby's name: Ionne. Except it wasn't really his name, just what we called him. What followed was the knowledge that a pale, blonde Elf, green-eyed had coined the nickname for us, and it wasn't my language, it was hers.
Rushing in on her heels was a whole slew of Sunlit memories involving a grey, dwarven-built Tower in the mountains, of new greenery and the return of fruit, animals, all manner of things to eat... My stomach grumbled but as I'd eaten something, it didn't manage to overwhelm the memory.
*Tamuril. Tamuril! Holy fuck, she is far away. And yet...*
My eyes landed on the tough warrior, Jaunda. She was the most muscular female here, her hair short and her face strong. Intimidating. Jaunda had fought Tamuril, except it wasn't a fair fight and the Pale Elf had lost a lot more than her dignity...
I staggered as I remembered Tamuril telling me about her long walk from those mountains to find Willven in a much hotter place, to tell him what happened to his son because of her failed venture into the Underdark. Because of losing that fight with Jaunda. And Willven...he had to accept the loss of his own son, yet he found some small bit of hope in mine. In Ionne.
The Human's voice came into my head. *Perhaps, if you will it, I will have the chance to meet him.*
I had been on the Surface recently to learn this, to hear this, and I had come back down here despite the danger of the other psions down here. Why? Where I stood, it seemed clear something had happened to make me confident Willven and Tamuril might meet Ionne.
*Someone saw something...a vision? Visions could become real...*
"Are you alright?" the youngest warrior asked softly, taking my good arm to hold me steady. I looked at her.
She had a very cute face, bright copper eyes, and her white hair was growing out past her shoulders. She could even braid it at last, though she hadn't until recently, I knew. Something happened to shorten it abruptly, another fight. By the length, I figured almost a year had passed since.
The large half-blood paused and waited for my answer—which was an affirmative nod once I pulled myself out of my own distraction. He grunted softly to the youngest fighter and smiled at me.
"It is coming back. Be patient."
She—Jael! Her name suddenly blazed into my mind. Jael smiled and squeezed my arm encouragingly before she returned to her work.
I looked over to the young males I'd seen kissing. Young, but they were both older than me. One was captivating, even dressed in an undecorated spy's black outfit. It didn't suit him. He had longer hair, well-trimmed but also growing out again after being cut to his nape. He had a knife scar on his back I couldn't see; it was just a detail that came to me as I thought about someone cutting his hair. No one could track him. At least not physically.
The other male was nearly the same size, a bit taller, and wore blood-stained but ornate wizard's robes. They did not look standard, as if he held a special status. His hair was cut very short, and it was deliberate. The mage may have been the younger between them but he was easily the more haggard. He had suffered a lot in his short time.
Their body language near a powerful, elder female was interesting—wary and yearning at the same time—as was hers. She was dressed in the highest ranking uniform, and one of red leather; she had the most influence of anyone here, the most magic of any except the half-blood. Yet still she looked as dazed as I imagined for myself. Her hair was longer, normally upswept into an elegant bun, but right now it was bedraggled from physical struggle. She looked just as haggard as the young mage.
She was also the protector for the two young males as she kept her body between them and the body of the hybrid spider. A Drider with very large tits. A fresh corpse. The elder female frowned and contemplated it.
"How do we move her?" she asked.
"Do we need her, Elder?" another asked, a younger, common female dressed like Jael and me but something about her screamed "mage" as well. Maybe it was the way her hands subtly floated, as if constantly caressing and monitoring the air around her. "Could we burn her instead?"
Something strange happened then: they all lifted their chins slightly. It was as if the large male, Jael, the Elder female, and that younger female mage—plus another elder female, plain in face and dressed all in black—heard a voice that I didn't, all at the same time.
"Elder Rausery's right," said the large male. "Those Driders in the tunnels need to be moved anyway, and we should not destroy her until we are sure of our next step."
"She's dead, though," Jael said. "And Gavin's not here to make her walk."
Gavin. And...yes, the dead could walk.
I glanced at my still-healing arm, and the bone-thing attached to it. The Tower... dead walking.
Deathwalker. Yes. The Grey Maiden...
I swallowed as more memories surged to fill my head then. The tall, gaunt Deathwalker in barely new grey robes, giving the marrowcaster to me; that and the special bolts I'd used to end up right where I was. I saw the eyeless, beautiful mask of his Mistress, calling scarabs to feed a pair of spiders and another to eat one precious jewel. It bordered on pain and panic, swirling like liquid filling a goblet as more came back to me.
I held perfectly still lest I fall down. *Fuck...!*
"Wait!" one of the young males exclaimed.
It was the Royal Wizard with the short hair. I opened my eyes just as he hurried over to a third young male, definitely of common blood with a forgettable face, dressed all in black. Unlike the captivating beauty, I fully believed this one to be an effective spy.
"Here, I'll take them." The young wizard held out his hands for two spider corpses, lying on their backs with all eight legs curled in familiar arachnid death posture.
My chest hurt as I started at them.
"W-wait, what you are you doing?" I asked him, the first words I'd spoken with everyone milling around me.
The mage looked at me guiltily. "They are...could still be...a spell component if we need them."
"For what, exactly?" rumbled the large hybrid, and it wasn't a request.
The young wizard showed a clear stubborn streak in the way he tightened his mouth and looked directly at the half-blood. The eye contact struck me as very bold. "To control the Driders, if necessary."
The Elder female nodded in agreement, speaking out, "He is right. I will take responsibility for them, if you prefer, Morix. I made them."
Morix? Why did that not seem complete? The Elder claimed to have made them. I relaxed and let it come.
Yes... Yes, she did. Not just an Elder, but my Elder, and she made them to protect me, and to fight for herself, through me...
I was a warrior intended to fight for quite a few others, not just her.
The half-blood exhaled thoughtfully. "If you would, Elder D'Shea. Please."
The young wizard looked as though he couldn't decide whether to be insulted that he wasn't trusted with them or relieved that he didn't have to continue holding them. Either way, he turned them over to his...
Goddess, the way she looked at him.
His mother. My Elder.
*Yes! D'Shea. And Shyntre! Goddess, thank you, he is back!*
Morix grunted in approval and continued his sweep. My attention turned to him next. I had thought on him the least at first, sure of my safety as he held me, but he was the oddest one here. One of many names, I recalled, with gold eyes and a black face. No white hair on him, despite the shared blood. It was black like the rest of him, and he had the longest hair of all of us, bound up careful and deliberate so he could fight. Like me, he fought for many others.
I knew him first as Mourn, what my race called him. He preferred M—
Yes. If there was enough time to say it. If there wasn't the time, anything would do. He would answer. The big male shifted as needed, in form and in name. The wings hadn't always been there, but the slithering tail had...
To'vah. There were Dragons down here, too.
Finally the gorgeous, slender male near D'Shea and Shyntre glanced at the Elder as if to have permission to leave her side. When she signed she did not care as long as he stayed away from the Drider, he nodded and stepped carefully toward me. I stared, and he watched me with concern and unrepentant tenderness. His face did have something in common with Tamuril's, I thought. It was hard to pinpoint what, exactly.
"Sirana?" he asked softly.
That...that fit. Unlike Morix, I didn't have many names. Not ones others used, anyway. This healer did, though. He might have had just as many names as Mourn from the two hundred fifty years he'd been a slave. I even had a name for him. Uncovered treasure. Auslan.
I could never have known how appropriate that name would be when I thought of it.
"Auslan," I answered him with a nod, and he smiled. Goddess, it was beautiful, and so full of hope. I could only think the other name that came to mind.
He closed his eyes and bliss crossed his face, as if he heard me. He nodded and leaned to kiss me without waiting to be told.
I thought that was a first between us.
As his soft lips touched mine, a bright explosion of pure, crystalline white went off in my head, connecting all my fractured thoughts and memories up until that point, shedding light on the precious, colored gems which held them. Splinters and shards of which I'd been aware for a long time started to mend at last, as my place in recent events became clearer.
Kain. Kerse. ...Ullipmious.
My shards. Coming out of the shadows into the light. I opened my arms as Rennyn once had to me. The four of us embraced. Finally. A splintered mind just beginning to mend. We would draw in more of the lingering shadows with time, for now I welcomed these three back.
I was no longer the caretaker of Soul Drinker, and I would need unity, just like the Godblood, to stand against the psionic vision in the red sands. As he had.
When I opened my eyes again, D'Shea was watching me. I remembered why she looked both so powerful and so fragile at once. Her eyes...they told me she knew that she was at the start of an unknown path. Just as I had been when I confessed my Duergar rape to her.
Now both of us would be tested again, immediately. The Underdark held little regard for peace, and rest.
"Gavin's paralysis on the ones outside?" Eyin asked.
"Two hours left," Mourn answered. "Though better not to push it. Less time on those here."
I glanced around. Everyone knew what an hour was, as a measure of burning light just like the candlemarks and roughly equivalent. I could probably credit that to everyone except Mourn having been trained in some form by Elder Rausery. That probably made the shadows some of the best-educated about anything existing outside the City, even never having been to the Surface like Shyntre and the Red Sisters. Thoughts of "others" and things outside our borders didn't frighten them.
There was only enough rope between us to drag two Driders through the maze of tunnels, and Mourn would carry one on his back and come back for another, until we had them all out in the open pit. The timing would be close enough as it was, but the hybrid reminded us that he had one more ball to refresh the "dose."
It was still a short-term solution.
*I'm expanding the sentry watch," Rausery confirmed. "No sign yet but we're going off Sirana's intel.*
I smirked in self-deprecation listening to this. My "intel," such as it was, all inside my own head, during a time Vesram and I put out an amplified call to draw demonbloods back to the Draegloth chamber. Rausery wasn't even taking the possibility it could have been a fever dream, and for that, I sensed Mourn's appreciation.
If I was wrong, it only meant we had more time to prepare.
*Say the Illithids gathered their thralls and the Elder Mind sent them out shortly after the Draegloth chamber erupted,* D'Shea considered, trying to get caught up. *How long will it take for them to get here?*
*Assume the mindflayers will not sleep by the grace of the Elder Mind,* Mourn told her.
He was way ahead of us physically, having reached the pit already and pausing in this conversation to let us know he was setting down Auranka's body outside the den though not among the rest of her children in the pit.
*How are they?* Rausery asked him.
*The same. No magical response to Auranka's body that I can taste. Going back for another Drider.*
*Good. Now back to what you said about no sleep?*
*A temporary but achievable state for Illithids. Even the psions have to shut down their minds once in a while or their Elder Mind will burn them out, but I've observed one stay awake for almost a week before exhaustion showed.*
*Also what we observed,* D'Shea put in, speaking of Ullipmious's captivity.
Mourn grunted acknowledgement.
*Was it competing with you for total time awake?* Jael asked her instructor with amusement.
*It was,* Mourn answered seriously. *I was hunting it, keeping it isolated and going in circles while my squad tried to keep up. I wasn't sleeping, either.*
*Like now. Not drowsy, are you?*
A very brief pause. *Not yet, Jael.*
*Wait,* D'Shea asked. *How long have you been without sleep, Morix?*
*Hm. You might not believe me, Elder.*
*Try us, half-blood.*
He counted. *Ten weeks now.*
*And you've never rested?* Rausery asked.
*Rested, yes. Slept, no.*
*What happens when you do sleep?*
*He's out for several days, at least,* I answered. *Someone who knows him told me it could be a week or a month at a time.*
*Can't be more specific than that?* Rausery asked wryly.
Mourn rumbled even through the connection. *It is not regular sleep, Elder, I am sorry. It is the one area in my life where my discipline means nothing. Once I have gone into reverie, I sleep until I wake up.*
*Like sire, like son, eh? So you also can't tell when you need sleep?*
*I feel it coming when time is short, though calm rest can delay the inevitable.*
*Unknown. I slept more when I was younger. The periods awake have been lengthening over the decades. The only time I have no choice but to sleep is when my magical endurance has been depleted to nothing.*
Rausery hummed thoughtfully. *And when you're out, you're out for who knows how long? And there's a real chance here this fight for the City will deplete you.*
He didn't bother to reassure us on anything; it was what it was. *Correct, Elder.*
*Sirana dragged him awake once,* Jael volunteered, although she didn't add her part in it. *She was in danger from Soul Drinker and she woke him up.*
*It was not a good thing for me,* he answered dryly. *I could feel it. I sometimes wonder if Deshi was captured and Kreshel escaped due to my not being in top form from lack of sleep.*
I winced, just seeing him approach us in the tunnel, on his way to grab another Drider. *I'm sorry about that, Mourn.*
He walked up to me, looking down, and leaned to kiss me. Not everyone here knew what conversation was going on, so it did seem to come out of nowhere. Most of the others smiled at least a little; Shyntre remained wary.
*That was not me casting blame on you,* Mourn said as he held my eyes, *nor do I know for certain. Just my doubts. It would have been much worse if Soul Drinker and Innathi had won the battle of wills then. You did what you must and even I preferred that outcome to the other. The ritual at the sacred pool and healing sex after helped a great deal to revive me.*
*Okay, I want to hear more about that later,* Rausery chortled.
*Me, too,* D'Shea seconded, except she was studying us like a suspicious scholar. Kind of like Gavin, actually.
Mourn smiled and subtly patted Jael's ass before he left to go back down the tunnel for another Drider. The conversation via the pearls continued.
"The Illithids will not sleep," he began again, "and neither will their own army. These thralls will walk indefinitely even if it wears down the body faster. The only reason to rest a thrall is to allow the body to heal so it is preserved for years. Those they bring now are expendable and are not planned to be kept for years, so they will not be allowed to rest. Food and water will be just enough to maintain them, a fraction of what we use. Thralls can carry any Illithids who feel physically tired.*
We took a few seconds to absorb all that.
*Meaning they can move twice as fast as we could,* Rausery stated. *A small team traveling light has made it to that nest in seven cycles if they push hard. Our army would take at least ten. So the fastest they could reach here would be five cycles.*
*Assume four,* Mourn replied as we moved Drider bodies. *And the first is half finished.*
*Yes. How far out are your scouts?*
*Only half a cycle. We can push out to a cycle and still get messages back fast enough, but it relies on a chain unbroken. If one link's taken out by something in the Underdark, mindflayer-related or not, we may not hear anything from that direction, but I'm putting back-ups in place.*
*Good. So it is understood we may not see warning for two cycles.*
*Two to three cycles, and we still need to keep these Driders under control, Rausery,* D'Shea said earnestly. *You wanted us not to kill them. Did you have anything in mind when you suggested this?*
*Well, when I gave the order to Eyin, I was going to ask Phaelous. He told me he studied the Driders a lot. But—*
That was still very tender.
*I can't read what he knew like a scroll added to a collection in my head, Rausery! That's not what happened!*
I sympathized and let her feel it. I knew she wasn't at all certain what even had happened. None of us were. We'd just done something only practiced by the Nolor until today.
*I gotcha, Varessa, I figured,* Rausery said without argument. *But Eyin reported Sirana controlling one like an Illithid controlling a thrall, during your entrance into the throne room, am I right?*