It came to her in a dream, as these things so often did – the goddess found it easier to commune with a subconscious mind, for her voice was so vast and incomprehensible that those shackled by the mortal coil had little hope of fathoming her in their perpetual fallibleness. There were no words – words could be misinterpreted, twisted, and the goddess was nothing if not plain when it came to articulating her desires. Her servant's uninterrupted slumber simply became the tablet upon which the goddess etched her will, taking the form of dreams so vivid that the servant would later proclaim the events had occurred before her waking eyes.
The first thing the servant witnessed was a great city suspended over a seemingly endless expanse of harsh, unforgiving desert, and though its every detail should have been perfectly exposed by the glaring rays of sunlight beating down upon it the city was instead shrouded in a thick, somehow tangible cloud of deep darkness. Very few aspects of the scope of its indisputably noble architecture were bared to her curious eyes, but she studied it with a manic obsession that the goddess was most pleased to witness. The structure was impressive, certainly, but it was just that – the designated location for all that the goddess had in store. She was largely unfamiliar with many aspects of the Surface World, but this was a place that she knew well enough through reputation alone. This was Thultanthar, the stronghold of the Empire of Shade, the last of the once-great floating cities that had once housed the all-powerful archwizards of the Netherese Imperium.
The image vanished and for a moment there was only a comforting and somehow familiar blackness, and then the goddess was imparting more of her wisdom. The servant spied upon a great audience hall, all smooth black marble shrouded in silvery mist and unfathomably high ceilings and walls cloaked in perpetual shadow. There was a great monarch seated in a bejeweled onyx throne at the top of a raised platform, his features obscured by the protective veil of shadows that clung to the shades at all times, and kneeling at the bottommost stair of the dias was another shade. Though physically he was not as imposing or impressive as the great king to which he displayed his obeisance it was upon him that the goddess bent her attention, and so the servant did also: there were two prominent features that suggested perhaps he was not the pure-blooded Netherese that he pretended to be, and it was those two traits that alerted the servant to who he really was.
The first was the fact that his ears were longer and came to a point, alluding to some elven heritage. The second was the eyes he set upon that great king – eyes of a cunning, perceptive amber. Eyes that she, and every single one of her kind, knew all too well.
It was easy for the servant to impart her outrage at the amber-eyed shade's presence to her goddess, and for a moment the deity even reveled in that rage before bidding her to be silent. There was no mistaking that shade – once a renegade drow, one of the most hated of the dark elves for all the chaos and havoc he had wrecked against their beloved Spider Queen. He was Lim Tal'eyve, a fugitive in the City of Menzoberranzan and now the pawn of the Tanthul family in their fanatical bid to utterly eradicate the Spider Queen in the name of Shar. He was a traitor, an abomination, and she knew in that instant that if her beloved goddess had come to order her to hunt him down she would accept gladly.
But the goddess was not yet finished professing her will to her all-too-obedient follower.
The king and his advisor faded from view, to be replaced almost immediately by a series of even briefer, less coherent visions that the goddess's servant didn't immediately understand. At first she grasped at them frantically, desperate to serve to the best of her ability but fallible as mortals often are, but her goddess was determined that this be the only time they commune on the subject and showed to her a patience and attention to detail that she was far from known for. After a time the servant had all but committed these visions to memory, allowing her deity to paint the prophetic images onto the blank canvas that was her subconscious mind, and gradually she came to understand.
In an impossibly dark room a sovereign slept soundly, oblivious to his own surroundings, and though he was well-guarded there slipped unwelcome into his midst a cloaked and hooded figure who moved with the stealth of a ghost. For a moment he became one with the shadows, almost as though he was meant to exist within them, and then with the flash of a backlit blade he had slit the throat of the slumbering monarch.
Upon a sweeping balcony overlooking a great pavilion of fine villas a shade with protuberant silver eyes, clearly not of the Tanthul family but favored of the High Prince judging by his dress, was locked in fierce battle with a masked stranger who appeared at first glance to be little more than a commoner. They moved gracefully around one another though they brandished no weapons; the battle was waged within their minds, the most powerful forces they commanded at their disposal, and at last the shade collapsed lifelessly to the ground as his mind was senselessly and hopelessly crushed.
Within the near-lightless audience chamber of the great monarch a Prince of Shade clad in the garb of a master assassin stood at the rim of a basin in which a series of magically conjured images played, talking almost companionably to his sovereign, and the moment he trained his gaze upon the enchanted looking glass the monarch smirked in utter victory and stabbed the prince in the back with a serrated short sword. A gout of blood exploded from the prince's lips as he cried out in rage and betrayal and the visage of the great sovereign melted away, revealing in his place a male drow with a jagged scar over his right eye.
In a wide hall in full view of well-dressed civilians a dark-haired spellcaster with luminous violet eyes took up a mighty staff against a female drow sorceress, hatred in their eyes and oblivious to the screams of the innocent bystanders. The violet-eyed wizard, in her obvious exhaustion, attempted to launch a spell that failed to cast, and with a triumphant cry her dark elf adversary brought to life a pack of ravenous hell hounds that engulfed her and tore her to shreds.
Beneath a great banner bearing the Tanthul family crest, at the end of an aisle littered with brilliant purple flowers, a half-elf in a magnificent violet ball gown stood helplessly in the hands of a drow with piercing fuchsia eyes. The familiar backlit blade rested upon the wintry skin of the half-elf's exposed throat, and to the horror of the gathered congregation of shades and Shadovar the assassin ruthlessly plunged his blade into her chest.
And then the servant saw herself, the picture of her goddess's great and terrible retribution, as she plunged her treasured ceremonial dagger into the heaving chest of Lim Tal'eyve and dug out the shadow orb that sustained his wretched existence.
That was the moment when Quartana Baenre, second daughter of Matron Mother Quenthel Baenre of Menzoberranzan, startled out of her deep late night Reverie with the divine words of her beloved goddess Lolth reverberating throughout her mind.
Let it now be war upon them all.