Ilia preferred natural water to that she could create. Magic was fascinating and overwhelming, but frankly it was not as good as the way of swords. She liked magic, but... she was not very good at it, although her mother spent a lot of time teaching her despite all the commitments she had at the Tower of Arcane in Luskan. Training in fencing with her father or grandfather was much more stimulating, even though she always ended up face-down in the dust with a sore nose; her grandfather seemed to enjoy hitting her there.
But then, once she finished both her trainings, she slipped away through the hidden passages that Uncle Regis had shown her; although she grew significantly larger than the halfling since at least ten years, she could still sneak quietly into the small tunnels that led out of Gauntlgrym. She always returned to the same place: a isolated calm stream wide and deep enough to allow her to take a relaxing dip.
The cold didn't bother her.. She had her little appointment with the pond in the late afternoon or at sunset, and she proceeded to washed away frustrations, dirt and blood. And maybe even a little bit of pressure, since being the daughter of Catti-Brie Battlehammer and Drizzt Do'Urden, or the niece of Bruenor Battlehammer and Zaknafein Do'Urden was unnerving at times.
She would have been well recognizable even in the middle of a battle: she had partial elf's features, as one would have expected from a half-drow, but she resembled her father most, from the shape of her nose to her violet eyes; the most surprising thing was the hair that, between the fiery red of the mother and the milky white of the father had become a dull red, almost dark blond. She had the dark skin of the drow but was taller and more muscular than the average (she had surpassed her father in height at fifteen).
She wasn't very anonymous-looking. But Ilia was a proud and independent woman and like all the adolescent wanted her space: she hoped one day to become a great swordsman like her father or a mighty sorceress like her mother and take her place in the legend, but considering the results she wasn't ready yet.
-Oh, I'm sorry- said a female voice, making her jump with a cry of surprise.
Ilia turned red but, in less than ten seconds, the embarrassment gave away to genuine astonishment recognizing the unexpected visitor: Yvonnel Baenre. She probably one the most powerful sorceress in all Faerun and the most formidable of all the heroes that hung around Gauntlgrym.
She had not seen her around for at least ten years: she had said that she would dedicate herself to explore the communities of the Sea of the Stars. For cultural purposes. Judging by her look, she had been through a lot.
-I didn't mean to bother you, I thought it was free- continued the drow, smiling brightly.
Ilia could not help but notice that Yvonnel, whatever the situation, never lost her immortal beauty: even covered by the dust of the journey, and with the sweat that shone on her ebony skin, she looked astonishing and elegant.
She kept the hair gathered in a strange knot behind the head, and the rest of the body was covered only by a filthy armor of furs and skins, which, however, could not help but make her look slender.
-Ehm ... Ilia? - she called her.
-Yes?- she replied.
-Is everything all right?
-Of course, no problem.
-Ah, okay. So ... is it a problem if I join you?
-Oh please- the girl replied,, sinking back to her shoulders in the quiet current.
She certainly wouldn't have denied Yvonnel now that she had arrived here. Ilia brooded on when the drow's robes slipped gracefully along her solid legs ,and the girl had to struggle not to remain with her mouth gaping.
Yvonnel was the most beautiful creature she had ever seen in all those years: more than her mother, more than the dwarf queens, more than the Moonwood's elves, even more than that succubus who had tried to devour her grandfather a few years ago. And that without beautifying her body with magic or luxurious cosmetics. Or maybe it was magic? One of the first spells that Ilia had learned was how to recognize the reality behind the magic, but maybe she was not powerful enough or Yvonnel was well protected, because she could detect no enchantment on her: what was in front of her was the image of the true drow as it came into the world (or almost).
-Is there anything you want to tell me?- asked Yvonnel, probably noticing the intense look she was giving her.
-You're beautiful- admitted Ilia unable to take her eyes off her.
-Oh, thank you - answered Yvonnel, entering the water with slow steps - Many people say so.
-I'm not surprised.
-I've heard that too. Very often.
The drow advanced until she was almost submerged to the hip before starting to wash away the dust from her body. Ilia kept her eyes fixated on her with almost a maniacal insistence: the training with the weapons had taught her a lot regarding the study of the body, and Yvonnel concealed nothing from her gaze. Despite having spent more than ten years exploring the surface of Faerun, and probably going beyond the known continent to discover new lands, the drow was still endowed with immortal grace.
The journey had not hardened her, just as the years had slipped over her: she performed slow and precise gestures, scrubbing the same spot several times with the care of a mother. Looking at her eyes, Ilia could easily understand that the drow didn't even consider the layer of dust as attached to her body: it was as if nothing imperfect and unclean could stay attached to her.
She should not have been surprised by this, but after a large amount of time spent with Uncle Wulfgar and grandfather Bruenor Ilia had begun to believe that elegance was not for her family, despite her mother's commitment to make her presentable at every possible opportunity.
-The beauty of a warrior is not the appearance but rather the shape. Appearances can be deceiving, a well-aimed blow no- her grandfather Zak used to say when he was training her; a phrase her father found very funny for some reason. For her nothing was indeed as beautiful as a duel between masters. Once she asked her grandfather and father to duel for her: she had spent the next three days and three nights thinking back to that duel with excitement and admiration. But that wasn't even remotely comparable to the beauty of Yvonnel. She almost looked like a goddess. Maybe she was a goddess. Had she become Lloth herself ...?
A shiver ran down her spine at the thought. Her father had seen Lloth face to face and had come out alive by a miracle. If she was with her now...
-Is there anything you want to ask me?
Yvonnel's voice wasn't supernatural, but the girl jumped anyway. Even if the drow seemed completely absorbed in cleaning her body, she noticed everything that happened around her. And after all why wasn't she asking her anything? She had been traveling around Faerun for ten years and perhaps beyond, alone. She was probably the most powerful drow of the Faerun, and they were alone in the privacy of a bath, without even their clothes as a barrier. How could she have nothing to ask?
-Eh ... Er ... Did you ... did you travel a lot? - she asked after having thought about it for a while.
-Oh yes. I believe I went until the end of the world and back.
Ilia had the impression of hearing a note of veiled sarcasm, but in the end that was the legendary Yvonnel Baenre, and theoretically she was only thirty years old. By Drow standards, he wasn't even a teenager.
-And ... will you stay long?
-It depends- she replied, giving her a condescending smile before approaching her. Yvonnel went to sit right next to her, her head resting on the bank just out of the water.. She seemed thin and fragile next to Ilia, but like all clerics she was never to be underestimated.
-I left to discover a world that was hidden from me, and I went on until I found something wort knowing. Now ... well who knows.
-Have you traveled to the ends of the world?
-I traveled until I had land under my feet. I haven't gone beyond the say, for now.
-And ... - Ilia thought carefully her next words. She wanted to ask so many things, but which one first?
-You want to follow me in another adventure, don't you?- asked Yvonnel, leaving the half-drow to stare at her for an indefinite amount of time.
-I can be very subtle, even with your parents little one.
-I-I don't think I'm ready to go on a journey as an adventurer- she admitted, blushing and turning her head to hide it.
-How come? I thought that young people desidered nothing more than an opportunity to escape from the nest. You are almost of age now, you have the right to make a life of your own- insisted Yvonnel, paddling in the water with her feet. She was trying to tease her by showing off her incredible legs.
-But I don't know how to handle it. I don't...- she met the gaze of the dark elf, uncertain whether to admit her weakness. However taking indecision was a duty of life, and hiding behind excuses certainly didn't help.
-I can't excel in magic or sword either, I'm not ready to face anything.
-This is what others say- replied Yvonnel, inspecting her body. Ilia was sure the drow could see beyond what appeared. In some ways the interest of the cleric towards her was making her heartbeat a thousand times more frequent.
-D-d-do you see something in me that others do not see? - she asked, trying not to hide the joy in her own voice.
-I definitely see something in you, girl- the drow replied with a smile -But it's up to you to show me what.
As much as Ilia felt revved up about the news, she could not avoid the disappointment. She wasn't expecting such and enigmatic answer from the drow.
-Something tells me that you lack conviction- considered Yvonnel.
-Well, I wouldn't know- she replied, trying to recover.
-In that case girl, there are two things I can do for you- continued the cleric -First ...
A moment later a small wave of water hit the face of the young half-drow, catching her off guard and leaving her gasping in confusion as she tried to expel the water from her nose.
-... I can wash that ugly face of yours. Second - and Yvonnel rose to her full height -I can ask your mother to allow me to be your taught in the ways of magic, both arcane and divine.
Ilia firmly clutched Yvonnel's hands between her own and held them to her chest.
-Will you really do it? - she asked, with pleading eyes.
-Sure, my dear. I know it sounds strange, but I like you. I really think it will be worth conceding some favors for you- the drow answered, kneeling in front of her and freeing her hands from the grip.
-I-I... I don't know how to thank you- Ilia stammered.
-Oh, you will find a way girl, don't worry about it- said Yvonnel, passing a finger on her chest -And now I think it is time to go back, especially in case they decide to throw me a welcome banquet, like the last time I was here.
A\N: This story just a prelude, a one-shot test. If you like the idea and want me to write a full story let me know the usual ways. Alla prossima. Ciao.