The Last Word

Corwyn stumbled, clutching at his side. The drow bolt had struck true, and the cleric knew that he was dying. He was not afraid of death, but he feared for his companions' safety. His injuries slowed their already poor progress through the Underdark. Click was trying to carry him, chittering in his native tongue about 'holding on' but Corwyn knew it was futile. His liver had been struck, drider venom burned through his veins and those Lolth worshiping fiends were closing in. Between the wound and the venom, the priest hadn't the strength to cast Heal upon himself.

It was a small party. Click was a yurian, a crabman, and a strong, capable fighter, but his skills were better suited to aquatic ventures. It took incredible courage for a native of the sea to venture deep into the dry earth. His thick carapace shielded him from blows to an extent, but against the sharp swords of the drow he would stand little chance. Taris was a elven paladin of Hoar, god of retribution, and she was muttering angry oaths directed toward their pursuers. Julian, a half-orc rogue nursing wounds of his own, carried the sacred object they had come to retrieve. The rest of their party had had died in the daring raid.

They had come to the Underdark, into the very Fane of The Drow, to recover the stolen Orb of Oghma. The Orb contained a wealth of knowledge that could not be allowed to remain in the hands of the dark elves. Against all odds and at great cost they had recovered the artifact and escaped the city.

But the drow were closing in and Corwyn was leaving a blood trail that even the poorest tracker could follow.

He looked down at his blood-covered hands, and pulled off his glove to reveal the holy symbol tattooed on his right palm. Three curving yellow lines around a small yellow circle. The tentacles of the god and His all-seeing eye. Magnum Innominadum. The Great Not To Be Named. There was still one way he could help save his friends. The priest slumped against a boulder and removed his sacred mask. His face was gray and bloodless, it was clear he was in shock.

"Corwyn!" Click shouted. His friend rarely removed his sacred mask before others. He ate wearing a cowl and facing away from the others in the group. Removing his mask so openly was a bad sign. He needed help, fast.

"Leave me. . ." Corwyn implored, "Please. Go!"

"We can't just abandon you! How can you even ask. . .?"

"I. . . I will call Him." Corwyn smiled grimly, "I will Name The Unnameable. That should give. . . You time. . ."

All three recoiled in horror. They knew of Corwyn's service to The Tattered King, but they had never expected him to call Him. All knew of the deity's horrific reputation, (if not His Name). Despite the relatively benign nature of His priest, He was a terrible force of evil and madness. To Name The Unnameable would call His attention upon the priest and everyone around him. And only the truly mad desired to gain His attention.

"No! There is another way! There must be!" Click tried to lift his friend, who feebly pushed the crabman away. "Every second. . . Wasted. . ." His breath was labored, "I-I am already dead. But I can. . . Help you. . . One last time."

Click's eye-stalks drooped, heavy with grief. He and the human were close friends. Corwyn had never looked down upon the creature or treated him as anything less than an equal. He held up his claws, "Then I will help you with these!"

"Go! F-for gods' sake! If I c-call Him while you are still here. . ." Corwyn was frantic and determined.

Taris put a firm hand on Click's carapace. Though a tear slid down her cheek, her face was firm. "We have to go. We have to deliver the Orb. . ."

"To hell with the Orb!" Click shouted, his mandibles clacking harshly in the great cavern.

"G-go, or I-I'l call Him upon all of you as well. . ."

"We have to go. The drow will be here any moment. I hate it as much as you do, but we have no choice!" Julian hissed.

"Please." Corwyn Implored, "Go. Live."

Corwyn was still sitting upright against the boulder, ashen white, when the drow arrived. A small army, along with a few priestesses, had been sent to recover The Orb. "So, they abandoned their wounded. A clever strategy, not what I would expect of soft surface dwellers. But it won't save them." He looked so close to death that they would have to Heal him for torture. . . The ranking priestess stepped toward the wounded man, her scourge of fangs hissing and snapping. Something was wrong. The fool was smiling. He was smiling. In his hand he held a holy symbol, a Yellow Sign of gold upon an obsidian disk. Did he expect his god to save him? "I-I Name T-the Unnameable. Come forth, Lord Hastur! Hastur, have mercy upon your servant! Hastur, avenge yourself upon the Children of Lolth!" The drow began to laugh. They were stopped short by a brilliant golden glow that illuminated the cavern and a bitterly cold wind that swept from all directions at once. The drow shielded their eyes until the light began to diminish.

"I have heard and I have come." A fifteen foot tall humanoid stood before the dying priest. His gaunt form was swathed in tattered yellow cloth from head to toe. His face was covered by a pallid mask, a grotesque parody of a human face. "You have sinned against Hastur." The voice seemed to come from far away yet it echoed throughout the cavern. It was cold as ice and hard as steel and vibrated through the bones of all present.

"Lolth is the one true goddess!" The first priestess shouted, though most of the warriors were obviously frightened. The priestess swung her blade at the slender creature, and the fine mithral steel shattered like ice.

"Lolth is nothing. You have sinned against The King in Yellow." A slender hand reached up and thin fingers grasped the pallid mask, "Now you shall look upon my countenance and know that Lolth cannot save you from my wrath."

He removed the mask.

The drow fell as one, gibbering, screaming in horror. Several began clawing at their eyes, but it was too late. Far too late.

Everything possessing the ability to interpret sound within ten miles of that cavern heard the screams, and shuddered.

Hastur impassively watched the drow convulse and die in agony. They had sinned against Him. He replaced His mask and turned toward His priest, lifting the dying man in His arms. "It is not yet time to join me in Carcosa."

The group hurried on as the horrific screams echoed throughout the Underdark, not daring to look back. Several hours later, as they reached the Portal that had granted them entry they found a figure waiting for them. He smiled weakly as his friends rushed to him, "It worked. The drow are gone."

Corwyn was pale and shaken, but quite clearly alive. His wound had vanished.

Click rushed to his friend and held him tightly against his carapace for a moment. "You're alive!"

"Yes, my lord had mercy on me." A glowing yellow sphere appeared in his right hand, and he set it beside the Portal. "But he had none upon the drow. We have to go, now!"

Two minutes after the adventurers passed through the Portal, the sphere exploded, destroying one of the most important drow links to Waterdeep.

After returning the Orb of Oghma to the god's grateful worshipers and receiving much Healing and rest, the group gathered to mourn their fallen comrades and celebrate their own survival. Despite the heavy loss of life, it had been a great victory against the drow.

Corwyn, masked and dressed in the flowing yellow robes of his faith and station, stood on the shore just outside Waterdeep, looking out over the sea. No one had the courage, (and few the desire), to ask him what had happened in that cavern miles below the surface.

"I thought for sure that we had seen the last of you." Click said.

Corwyn turned to his friend, "So had I. But it was the only way I could think of to protect you."

"And we are incredibly grateful."

"So am I my friend, so am I."

A cool breeze swept along the shoreline. All was peaceful, for now.

The End.

Notes:

I wanted an excuse to use a Crabman in a story, they're neglected creatures. Yurian is just another name for the Crabmen.

In D&D Hastur usually comes if a non-believer says his name, viewing it as an act of blasphemy. But if his faithful beg for his aid, he may come.

The Yellow Sign is surprisingly difficult to describe. If you're not familiar with it, you can run an image search. I gave it a symbolism of my own, tentacles surrounding Hastur's eye, but I have no idea what it is actually meant to represent.

Hastur is listed as Chaotic Evil in the supplement Deities and Demigods. Calling Hastur is probably a game ending move for those who, (unlike me), actually role-play D&D. Still, it seems like a good way to deal with one's enemies in a hopeless situation, as long as you don't mind calling his wrath upon your own head as well. I use the more conventional King in Yellow avatar as opposed to the 600' tentacled lizard creature depicted in Deities and Demigods.

Why is a paladin of Hoar traveling with a priest of Hastur? Corwyn is not evil and they both seek to thwart an evil plot of the drow.

Corwyn

Race - Human

Sex - Male

Eyes - Gray

Hair - Brown

Height - 5'7"

Weight - 126 Lbs

Class - Cleric of The Order of The Yellow Sign

Alignment - Lawful Neutral

Patron Deity - Hastur

Though he worships an evil deity, Corwyn is not evil or bound to perform evil acts. He will work for the greater good, but will never act against his master. He usually wears a mask that conceals all but his eyes, a yellow robe and gloves, though that obviously would have made him an easier target in The Underdark. Few outside of The Order or his closest friends have seen his face.

Click

Race - Crabman/Yurian

Sex - Male

Eyes - Black

Height 8'3"

Weight 650 Lbs

Class - Fighter

Alignment - Chaotic Good

Patron Deity - Eadro, Lord of The Sunlit Shadows

Click has left his tribe and simple life behind to become an adventurer. He helps wherever he's needed and is loyal to a fault. The fact that all four of his upper limbs end in sharp claws makes interaction with 'soft' beings difficult, but he manages. His real name is made up of clicks and hisses, and very few people can pronounce it.

Hastur

H'aaztre

He Who Is Not To Be Named

Kaiwan

Magnum Innominadum

The King in Tatters

The King in Yellow

Lord of The Air

The Shepherd's God

The Tattered King

The Unspeakable

Xaster

Race - Unique (Great Old One)

Gender - Male

Alignment - Chaotic Evil

Class - Greater Deity

Holy Symbol - The Yellow Sign

Portfolio - Air, Art, Chaos, Cold, Evil, Fear, Insanity, Secret Knowledge, Shepherds, Space, Stars, Travel, The Void Between the Stars and The Color Yellow.

Realm - His Palace in The City of Carcosa, which hovers above The Lake of Hali on an unnamed planet.

The half-brother and mortal enemy of Great Cthulhu, he sometimes aids humanity against him (Cthulhu). He is a great patron of the arts, particularly theater and music, though his servants' works are typically damaging to the sanity of all involved. The wind, the cold and the void are typically linked with Hastur, (he has been called an Air Elemental by some), and his true nature is a deeply guarded secret. The King in Yellow, (here), resembles a giant mummy swathed in yellow cloth and wearing a hideous mask. No part of his flesh is visible.