The War Within Malag-aste returned to his keep after spending the night chasing shards of the skull of Mondain. Tired and weary he sat down on the “couch” in his parlor. It was a large grouping of pillows and chests with some Elven crafted benches that Ra’Vendall the local craftsman had made. Malag would not have had such extravagant furnishings had it not been for Severn’s insistence. He welcomed the comfort of the couch now as he leaned back dropping his boots to the stone floor. How long had it been since he came to this land, he wondered. Decades, at the very least. He looked about his “home” almost frowning. He was becoming more “human” each year. Barely a sign existed in this parlor of his former life, of his heritage as a Drow. Where was the Prince? Was he dead now? A wave of anger flashed over him as he considered the death of his former ways. There was twinge of pain in his side reminding him of the folly of those thoughts. Never again would the Prince be anything more than a black skinned human. Somewhere in his mind the thought disgusted him. Buried deep with the secrets of his homeland was the Drow Prince who longed to be free, the Prince who hungered for blood and vengeance. Sleep came at a price these days. More and more often he felt the need to sleep in his hidden chambers away from the magic of the land, and away from those who would challenge him in his dreams. But the day had been long and the battles hard and sleep now came to him outside the chamber. And thus the dreams returned. The dreams of his homeland, of his mission, of Drow life, violence, blood, and the lust for Vengeance overcame him. How long had it been since he had revisited this nightmare? Dar, was the first to bring it to him, news of The Rylna. Rylna Barrirret, the Drow form of nightmare, she was the pawn of Lloth, the Devil of the Drow. And it was Dar who spoke her name. That was four years now past? Yet still she would hunt him, for The Rylna never knew time only her Mistress’s desire. He knew she was sent to bring home Lloth’s lost pet at any cost. Xunroos must be protected. The townspeople of Newcastle did not understand the significance of that discussion. They knew only that a Demon now resided in Newcastle and they were none too pleased. First the drow came and was eventually granted the title of “officer”… and now the Demon lives on the southern edge of town. It was too much for many of the residents, they moved to quieter shores. Ones free of Drow and Demon. Malag understood that terror, for his homeland all feared the demon spawn, Xunroos. Though they knew him for what he was, the people of this land had yet to experience such a thing. Malag shivered as the memories were laid out to him once more. How many cities had he and Xunroos destroyed together, ten, twenty perhaps? He saw the faces of the dead once more in his mind, the zombies created by Xunroos and commanded by his own hand, the hand that controlled the beast, the demon. L' Mortath d'lil Naut-elghinyrr, they called him on his homeland, this demon, The Maker of the Undead. The name was most fitting. Vel'drav l' Tangi zhah elghinyrr, lu' l' drathir lamin phish. Vel'drav venorik treemmai, sila dalharenen krik'vlicss. T'yin wun l' suust d'lil isto, xun ji mzil kku ninta tangin. L' kyorlnesstren dal l' wa'q, kyorl l' Errdegahr lu' ukt chath. Whol areion l' olath jal ph' plynnet, ulu l' Mortath d'lil Naut-elghinyrr. Gaer wund ukt rahi, ninta dro ol 'udtila vrine'winith. Ji ser dosst sol pholor l' drathir, lu' ortelanth dos xun naut ragar dosst haruk. Vel'drav l' Tangi zhah elghinyrr, lu' l' drathir lamin phish. “When the day is dead, and the moon shines red. When silent fears, bring children’s tears. Then in the still of the night, do so many end their plight. The watchmen from the spire, spot the Demon and his fire. For through the dark all are led, to the Maker of the Undead. There within his grip, their life it does slip. So keep your eye on the moon, and pray you don’t find your doom. When the day is dead, and the moon shines red.” The song played out in his mind once again. He stirred in his nightmare only briefly. How many years was it since he heard it… since he last sang that song? At least two decades or more to be certain, he told himself as the song repeated over and over in his mind, as the visions of blood, violence and gore grew more intense. He could feel the heat of his blood coursing though his veins now, the Prince inside him hidden for so long enjoyed such things. He could almost taste the blood. He felt his breathing become more labored as the intensity of the visions increased. Pain shot though his side and woke him from the nightmare dream. Startled he groaned and looked about the room for the unseen cause of his pain. He clutched his side feeling the familiar wet sticky warmth of his own blood. Frowning he looked at the wound, now open and weeping blood. This was no wound from his battle the previous day with the followers of Styx, no this wound was the one that kept him, held him to the path of Redemption and Virtue. The Prince snarled at it. Partially for his anger at having gotten it and his failure in his mission, and partially the man in him who had come to find peace in this realm for having enjoyed the thoughts of his former “glory”. His mind was torn between the life of the drow and the life of his exile. Here he no longer had to face the constant danger of his everyday existence, no checks for a knife wielded at his back, no more the fear of the whip. How long was it since he felt its bite? Not long enough. Malag stripped his armor off and laid it carefully on the end of the couch. Limping slightly as he often did he climbed the stairway to the second floor, and proceeded through the dinning hall to the ladder on the eastern side of the Keep. Climbing the ladder was a lot harder than usual this day. The pain in his side made raising his left arm far more difficult. Slowly pushing himself over the lip of the roof of the Keep he dropped to the rooftop garden below, sliding as silently as a cat stalking prey he slipped over to the bench near the statue of his Goddess Mystra. It had been far too long since he had come to her in prayer he thought to himself as he knelt before the statue. But today the prayers went unanswered. Today like so many days before the statue stood fixed and unchanged. Had she abandoned him, he wondered. Had he failed his new Goddess? He stared at the figure careful still to avoid looking upon its face, even in statue form he could still not bear to look upon the face of a female. His blood grew warm with his anger and he winced from the pain in his side, once again realizing his anguish, of the battle between the drow and the man. Why, why must he play out this game each day, each passing year, why did he obey this Goddess? Again his mind questioned his decision made that day, that fateful day when he had lost all hope. It was the day that he failed Lloth. It was the day that Xunroos was set free from the Talisman of Lloth, and free from its binds. The day that Leon of the Yew Militia dropped the hunter to the ground with a mighty swing of his sword, splitting the Prince nearly in half and spilling his blood into the grounds. It was that day he first met the Goddess, and that day that she first offered him a new life. Why did he take it? He asked himself over and over again. Was this life worth living? His thoughts turned to Severn, his love. She made it worth living. He smiled slightly as he thought of her. The smile soon turned to a frown as his mind asked once more, what of children? If he and Severn were to conceive a child, would it be born Drow? Would it hunger for blood? Would it long to kill? Would it be evil? He shook his head trying to banish the thoughts that once again played in his mind. He heard the words of his Goddess again, “I wish to prove that the race of Drow is not worthless, and vile.” Searing pain coursed though his very core as he spat blood and sank to the floor. Worthless and vile am I? He tensed with anger before sinking into the dark unconsciousness again, to be plagued by the visions once more. He awoke some hours later the pain in his side now twice what it was when he first climbed to the rooftop garden. He sighed, looking at the ever growing wound. Why, why was he so filled with hatred these days? What was the cause of the visions and this continued distaste? Was it The Rylna? Was she the cause or was he failing once again? He pulled himself up to the bench and clutched his side. No, it had to be The Rylna. She was the cause. His thoughts were good most times so long as he did not allow the dreams and nightmares to remind him of his life as the Prince, as long as he kept the Prince, the Hunter under his control, he was fine. He was a man now, a man of Virtue he reminded himself. He was the Knight of Lore, a Knight of Virtue. He would remain so, he told himself affirming his conviction to the Goddess. Drawing a deep breath he gazed down at the wound once more smiling as he watched it mend somewhat and become the angry pink scar it usually was. How long must he play this game with himself he wondered. How long could he keep the Hunter and the Prince under control? Only time will tell.