Rebels, all of them. Traitors. Chitine and drow alike. Fools. Lolth was not merely angered, she was totally enraged, entire noble houses were turning to other gods, Vhaeraun, Ghaunadaur, Selvetarm. Selvetarm. That name enraged her further, her champion, her grandson, stolen away, freed from her web. Freed to walk in the light, to bring drow into the light. A light she could never again know. And Eilistraee, that treacherous little slut, had stolen away thousands of drow, turning them back into dark elves, by her own death. In one of Lolth's greatest moments of victory, the death of her hated daughter, she had been tricked into defeat.

Ilmater, that weeping, masochistic human god had taken her portfolio, her place, and he was almost as pernicious a foe as she had been. The gods she had played against each other for so long had now allied against her.

At least Eilistraee was dead, her sacred Promenade destroyed by a wrathful Ghaunadaur, from whom she'd stolen the site eons ago. Even so, the bad blood between Ghaunadaur and the other members of The Dark Seldarine had apparently been set aside, for the moment, to be turned upon her.

Other gods of other pantheons had entered the fray, Bane held a particular attraction to many male drow. It was almost amusing that some drow were turning to gods of their sworn enemies, and some were even attempting to placate the Seldarine of the surface elves. Fools. As if those pompous idiots would ever accept a drow. They deserved the fate they would inevitably bring upon themselves.

But if Ilsensine decided to add his tentacles to the fray, Lolth knew she would be doomed.

"The Arach-Tinilith is on fire!" The panting priestess' voice was filled with horror and rage, "The followers of The Masked God have attacked! Matron, you must send arms!"

It was the latest in a string of acts that were tearing Menzoberranzan apart. Slave revolts, noble Houses falling away openly to other faiths, the city was in chaos. And Matron Mother Quenthel Baenre seemed singularly unconcerned with the situation. Quenthel looked oddly at the woman, "The Melee Magthere is there, is it not?" "It is a school for unblooded boys! Many of them have already joined the enemy! How could the rest defeat the Nightmasks?" Quenthel considered for a moment, "You're right, but the followers of Vhaeraun will be less likely to harm males." She paused, then smiled, a smile like the twitching of a corpse, "No, evacuate Melee Magthere. I will not send our future warriors to their deaths."

"But The Arach-Tinilith!"

"It can be rebuilt. Lolth favors the strong, this is doubtless her way of weeding out the weak among us." She rose, "Have faith, my sister. All will be revealed soon enough."

Lolth did not notice, immediately, the destruction of her school, she had so many problems to deal with.

Keptolo was no threat, at least. He was like a parasite, and she was his host. He knew that if anything should happen to her, he couldn't survive on his own. He was weak and cowardly, dependent upon his mistress for protection. It was in his best interests that she survive. But, like any resourceful parasite, he was adaptive, he could attempt to ingratiate himself to one of her enemies in case she fell, or to cause her fall. Vhaeraun knew enough not to trust him, and Keptolo knew enough not to trust Vhaeraun, but Ilmater was likely unfamiliar with such a minor, little known deity He could play upon emotion, even try to evoke sympathy in that kind-hearted fool. . .

She paused for a moment to listen to the shrieks of the damned souls who made up the strands of her web. The eternal agony of those twisted strands of spirits gave her some comfort and joy. When she had brought the drow back into her web, many more strands would be added, punishment for their betrayal. She smiled, imagining ways in which to inflict suffering upon the unfaithful. They would know pain to make the deepest pits of The Abyss look like paradise itself.

Then a newly arrived soul in Demonweb Pits made her blood run cold. How was this possible? How could she not have seen. . . ? No!

A large rat, a visible brain pulsing with an odd green light nestled within its skull, sat boldly upon the bed of the Matron Mother's chamber, as if to show that Ilsensine was watching the little play with interest. Quenthel Baenre ignored it, and watched from the terrace of her palace as the fires burned across Menzoberranzan. The Arach-Tinilith had been destroyed by the Vhaeraunites. Sos'Umptu, her clerical, fanatical sister, was in near hysterics. Quenthel would not even speak with her, and refused to send troops to quell the growing riots. There wasn't much time left, the drow were evil, but they were not stupid. It was only a matter of time before they realized the truth. That which dwelled within the Matron Mother's body knew discovery was inevitable, but, in the meantime, it would do as much damage as it could to The City of The Spider Queen and her clergy, for the glory of Ghaunadaur.

To be continued. . .


Arach-Tinilith is the school for priestesses of Lolth in Menzoberranzan. Quenthel is head of the school, as well as the effective temporal ruler of the city itself.

Melee Magthere is the school where drow boys are trained to become killers.