Gristle stretched out in the sun, though his eyes watered, the warmth of the sun and the flow of the gentle wind made it seem as if he were in some sort of heaven. They had made it. They were free, he and Rizzen, they had made their way. Thanks to Uru and Ilix'Ith, they were no longer slaves, they were among his people, not the drow. Rizzen was not drow, at least, not to Gristle, he was something else. He looked like a drow, but he had the heart of a fierce angel, a strong, powerful being, fierce in battle, true in friendship, honest in heart. Like Uru... He wondered where Uru was, how he was doing... But Uru was strong, he packed a lot of power in that tiny body, and Gristle was certain that he was going to be fine.
Uru Drowbiter sat alone as the moon rose above, this strange place, this strange world. The people of this land, he knew, from Ilix'Ith's descriptions, were generally fairly intolerant, especially with regard to spiders. Arachnophobic. Calimport, the land's equivalent to Waterdeep, was even more dangerous for him, but The Spider Swamps, he liked the sound of that. His guides would not enter the swamp, servants of Qooql or not, they had aided him this far on Ilix'Ith's insistence.
Lolth cursed bitterly, she had lost her most powerful arm, in more ways than one. The Selvetargtlin were the enforcers of her faith. The Matron Mothers and priestesses held great spiritual power, yes, but the true physical might lay with the berserk followers of Selvetarm. They were the best, the most skilled warriors, the most powerful males,(as much as she hated to ascribe power to any male), the backbone of the drow hordes. And now they were allied with her accursed, misbegotten daughter! And the personal threat, too, was great. True, she could summon the hordes of the Abyss to fight in her behalf, but her Champion, her unrelenting, terrifying guardian, now actively served her enemies. Already the Selvetargtlin were stirring up unrest among the drow, and the chitine were being seduced away by Selvetarm himself... She was open, vulnerable to attack by any of her execrable enemies, and if Eilistraee and Selvetarm turned their united blades toward her, she might not be able to ward them off. The Spider Queen had made many, many enemies, and no allies. Even Keptolo, if he were certain of her weakness and assured of his own safety, would strike like the treacherous worm he was. She could only trust herself and those beings she had forcibly twisted into unthinking devotion, her Yochlol, her Handmaidens. Should a truly powerful deity, such as Ghaunadaur or Ilsensine attack, she would be utterly helpless. Lolth trembled in the darkness. She had become weak, and the weak were fit only to be torn apart and devoured...
Rizzen had realized fairly quickly that the 'day' was not the time for activity. Even the trolls, surface dwellers, sensibly slept safely in their dark warrens rather than brave that torturous light. Gristle, however, was so grateful to see the sun again that he went out of his way to bask in it's searing light, at least, for a while. Rizzen was sure the novelty would wear off fairly quickly. The warren he had taken had not been used for some time, and it was quickly and easily cleaned of the accumulated detritus. He lived separately for the simple fact that trolls had utterly different views on hygiene than drow, namely, they had none at all. There was also the fact that his physical weakness would be a possible threat, should any troll decide to become 'playful'.
He and Gristle lived in a small, unused portion of the warrens, clean and pleasant, to his standards. He was careful, however, to practice his spells away from the troll warrens, preferring not to alienate his new friends by filling their homes with ravenous slimes. Spells came quickly to him, Ghaunadaur seemed to whisper in his dreams, aiding him in his path to priesthood. Slimes and oozes filled the swamps, and he could call them at will, granting him a high status in the eyes of the trolls, and displaying the raw power of Ghaunadaur. Perhaps this was The Elder Elemental's purpose for him, to serve, not in the Underdark, but upon the surface, teaching others the way...
The identities of the two figures who emerged from the Spider Swamp were obvious. Eilistraee, glowing in the moonlight, and Selvetarm, his face unmarred by rage, his eyes no longer reflecting madness. Uru was almost becoming jaded to the appearances of the gods, or their avatars, but the inclusion of Selvetarm certainly captured his attention. He fell to his knees, his eyes to the earth as the pair approached.
"At last, we can finally meet. Rise, Uru Drowbiter." the voice was soft as silk, untainted by the hoarse, jagged manner he had heard before, "Or, rather, meet properly."
Uru stood up, and the chitine realized his smallness before the two deities.
"I am glad you came here. My people have need of a champion."
"Where else would I go," Uru chocked out a response, "But to dwell with my own kind?"
The awkwardness of talking to a god he had worshiped for most of his life was almost overwhelming.
"You may speak freely," Selvetarm said, "I'm glad to friendly voices once again."
"May... What... What will you do now? You are no longer The Champion of Lolth, what will become of you?"
Selvetarm smiled, a brilliant flash of white, "You always did care about me, even when I couldn't care about you. I have been given dominion over surface spiders, and any who escape Lolth's web. And those of other races who choose to serve me... Perhaps, even, a few chitine..."
"We will do all I can to help them." Eilistraee assured them, "And any others. The Selvetargtlin have already been informed, and most are overjoyed. Your friend Jessc D'Selvetarm among them."
"I have not renounced the sword," Selvetarm indicated Uru's pack, which held Thalck'velve, "But it is needed to protect, to protect spider-kind." Uru turned to fetch the sword, "No!" Selvetarm said, then lowered his voice, "I no longer wish to carry those weapons I wielded in service to Lolth." With the mention of her name Uru noted a tinge of hatred in that silky voice, "Do with it as you will. It is not important. You, and others, warriors, must teach spider-kind how to fight, how to protect themselves, but only for defense, not for aggression... These people have suffered. For centuries they have prayed for and awaited the return of Zanassu. I... " His eyes reflected sorrow, "I ignored their pleas, their needs. No longer. Zanassu is dead, but I can help them. I will help them. I owe them that."
"What of Zanassu?"
"A name, only a name."
Qooql had initially been skeptical of the news of Maanzecorian's return, but he quickly realized it to be true. Ilix'Ith's holy symbol still shone crimson, and he almost seemed to glow with power. He felt somewhat threatened, but the fact that his 'brother' was to go evangelize among his fellow illithids and not Qooql's own flock had eased that fear, somewhat. Ilix'Ith had found the Underdark in something of a state of chaos, not the usual chaos that permeated life in the dark realms, but something new. There appeared to be a massive defection of drow against Lolth. The Selvetargtlin were turning upon their handlers, and an army of fearless berserkers was enough to stymie even Lolth's considerable power. Other deities were joining the fray, Vhaeraun, Ghaunadaur, Kiaransalee, Eilistraee, Diirinka, Gzemnid, even Ilsensine: Squabbling like vultures over a kill. If Uru were here, he thought wistfully, He'd be laughing his head off...
Deep in the Spider Swamp, in a land called Calimshan, a lone figure walked the twisted, overgrown ruins of an ancient city, wherein lay the temple of Zanassu, The Apostolaeum of The Spider Who Waits. It lay in the center of the city, were work had been done, care taken to restore some semblance of it's former glory. A great stone spider crowned the dome of the temple, with elegant stone webs extending from the main building, linking four massive minarets on the four corners of the structure. Werespiders, Aranea, disguised as humans or elves stared out at the diminutive newcomer in their domain. Other, more obvious spider-kind lurked in the shadows, watching this bold visitor. He was one of them, spiderkin. Of a kind unseen in this place, but spiderkin all the same. Uru Drowbiter looked around at the curious creatures that had begun to come out from hiding, and smiled. These were his people, and he was home. He walked unhindered into the Apostolaeum, and into the now welcoming arms of Selvetarm.
The word spread like wildfire throughout the city, and everywhere there was celebration. The temple was no longer empty.
The Spider no longer Waited.
Zanassu had finally returned to deliver his people.
A happy ending, my favorite kind!
Thank you to everyone who has read and supported my story! I couldn't have done it without you! Especially you, LadyOfShadow!
The city of the Spider Who Waits is named Ajhuutal, referred to as Lost Ajhuutal.
I have also found several other names for Selvetarm, Prince of The Aranea, Lord of The Venomire, and Thane of Lolth.
Of course, losing Selvetarm would not be such a terrible blow to Lolth in canon, as he's dead and she's still going strong. Lolth is an incredibly powerful demoness who can take care of herself quite well against most enemies. Her problem here is that the Selvetargtlin have turned against her church and allied themselves with Eilistraee, and now every power in the Underdark smells blood. It's Armageddon in The Demonweb Pits, and The Great Harlot is gonna burn...