The Fate of Respen Tuin (Part 1)
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The night was cold and calm when the Silver Company had beaten Halandar Proudfoot, an overzealous halfing wizard hell-bent on inventing one—please gods, just one!—spell for which he would be remembered. If the history of the Realms had proved anything, it was that when a man’s greed overshadowed his intellect, it would always be necessary for him to die.

The members of the Silver Company, on their way to Citadel Adbar with twenty of Harbromm’s finest, enjoyed a bowl of dwarven sugar-pea soup. It wasn’t much to look at, but it was hot and the sweet aftertaste was enough to make it appeal even to the humans. Ivellios Thornblade, blessed with an elven palette, found the gruel to be a disgusting paste and it put him in a particularly dour mood. Even so, the members of the Silver Company celebrated another victory and were in high spirits.

All of them, except one.

Outside the barn where the others laughed and sang, Respen Tuin sat on an old hickory stump, his dwarven draught going untouched. It had been less than a tenday since Respen had killed his brother Bruherd, a fratricide too-long coming. He should have been elated, but he was instead filled with grief.

For the first time in his nomadic life on the surface, Respen felt lost. With Bruherd dead and Deadsnows soon to be but a memory, he was caught up in a stream from which he could not escape, with no idea where he would finally wash ashore. If Eilistraee wasn’t going to offer a sign, Respen thought, perhaps he’d go in search of one himself.

And so he left.

Respen headed north alone, first to the fork road and then toward the entrance to the Underdark, a perilous cavern he knew all too well. Respen’s horse, Octavius, named for a long-dead Netherese emperor, was the fleetest creature in the Silver Company, and carried him hastily overland toward Citadel Adbar, reaching a small outpost in just three days. Respen knew the others would be several days behind, but had no patience for them.

Respen approached a large stone archway at the mouth of a small cave. It was engraved with the runic script of the dwarves and each character seemed to glow faintly in the moonlight. Two shield dwarves stood on guard, so Respen carefully considered how to approach as a gnomish merchant caravan with lizard-drawn carts emerged from within. They no doubt had brought supplies to Citadel Adbar, and were returning to… wherever it was that gnomes came from. Respen didn't care about gnomes, but he was extremely curious about the treasures their wagons invariably carried.

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Suddenly and without warning, a giant sky-blue snake tinged with white struck out at the caravan, devouring two or three of the gnomes with his giant maw in a matter of seconds. Each of the great lizards was thrown into frenzy and scattered, but the snake sprouted a dozen legs and moved with purpose to stop most of them, smashing the carts and devouring the beasts. One of the dwarf guards fled in fear, but the other lobbed his spear at the great centipede (known as a behir) and drew his axe, but the fell beast bit down on the dwarf and consumed him whole.

Respen was initially frozen with fear, watching as the behir devoured most of the remaining gnomes, his face lighting up with a perverse glee as he tasted their flesh. Respen’s senses returned when his horse fled, drawing the creature’s attention. Respen simply dropped to the ground and rolled himself deep into the snow, and there he remained for several minutes until the creature had gone, never even noticing him.

When the drow emerged from his hiding place, he moved quickly to the carnage by the stone gate. He pulled a large tarp from one of the broken wagons and began to pile weapons and valuables upon it. For each gnome whose body remained at least partially intact, Respen removed his rings and periapts and potions and whatever else he could fine, gathering them all up and tying off the tarp into a massive bag.

Respen began to dig a hole in the snow with his hands to hide his treasure while he searched for horse, but something approached quickly from behind and cast a faint humanoid shadow on the snow in front of him. Respen quickly drew a blade and turned to face his would-be attacker, but was struck in the head and lost consciousness…

To be continued in… part 2!

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