Sandwich Stoutaxe aka Sandy is a female drow who was found by a dwarf named Gilgan Stoutaxe in the tunnels deep below the Stoutaxe clanhold. Sandwich is so named because her adoptive father discovered the basket containing her, assumed it was filled with sandwiches, and gambled for it. Upon getting the basket home, Gilgal was disappointed to learn that, rather than containing a delicious snack, the basket contained a drow infant. He ended up adopting her at the urging of his sister Vera. In his frustration, he named the child Sandwich.
Sandy had a difficult upbringing. After all, she was an elf living among dwarves. Early in her life, she had a problem with doors, specifically that they were designed for people half her height. Still, she adapted and grew to womanhood. Naturally, puberty was hard, but even more so for an elf raised to like dwarf men. Try as she might, she just never could get any of the dwarf men to pay attention to her.
Finally, after watching her Chieftain get cut down by a drow cleric and an assassin squad, she took them all on and killed three, including the cleric of Lolth, before almost succumbing to their poison. Fortunately, she was rescued by Dorn Rogan, a human Paladin of Lathander. After recovering, she swore herself to Moradin as a paladin, becoming the first elf in history to swear themselves to a dwarven deity.
Sandwich seems to have narrowly avoided Drizzt syndrome, the emo disease that seems to afflict all good aligned drow, as she does not consider herself a drow at all but a member of the Stoutaxe clan. Sandy is the total opposite of what a drow woman is supposed to be; rather than being a cold, controlling, and manipulative sexpot, Sandy is cheerful, open, considerate, and wants to save herself for the man she loves. Sandy speaks in an impenetrable but cheery Scottish accent which sounds utterly bizarre coming from an elven throat.
Today sucked goat-balls. Finished clearing out another tunnel full of those elves what think they're gophers. One of them had a basket. Me and the boys drew lots for it, and I won. The damn basket had a baby in it. Stupid elves don't know that baskets are for sandwiches. Now I'm stuck with this girl, I think. Might be a boy, but nobody really knows what the elf 'men' have in their breeches. Whatever. Took the thing home. Named it Sandwich."
It's been a while. Been busy taking care of Sandwich. She's finally stopped hanging off my beard and trying to stab me in my sleep, bless her heart. Can't help the way she sounds when she talks, though. Her dwarvish sounds like one of those nancy-human harps. How those freaks stand that softy music I'll never know. Made her a plate helmet today. I was getting tired of buying her sissy bandages for her head whenever she ran into a doorpost. I think she likes it. Maybe I'll make her a full set..."
Diary entry 432. Day 4 after the second moon of the 31th year of the 9th era. Sandwich has taken to the helmet I gave her. Complains about the dents. Or I think she is. Wouldn't know. She is probably trying to speak proper dwarven. Not doing so well though. I fix the helmet once a week. Last night I heard a banging noise. She was on the kitchen floor using a candlestick as a hammer and the stone floor tiling as an anvil. Fixing the dent in the helmet. Gave her a good yelling for waking me up. Never been so proud.
Went shopping with Sandwich today. First time I've taken the little thing out in this big a crowd, but she needs to get use to it. Sandy has more energy than I did in my prime, I swear she has to know EVERYTHING about everything she sees. This wasn't an issue until I took her to the market. She alternated between questioning faster then meh poor ears could keep up with and just looking at things.
At one point I was getting into an argument with some rich Elf Lord Wannabe. Say what you want about those effeminate elven nobles, at least they have some sense of pride, unlike this blowhard. He was trying to chew me out for 'harboring a potential Drow spy.' HA! I'd bet my forging arm this bastard never worked a day in his life. It was like someone took everything I hate about elves and made...this asshole.
During the fight, Sandy managed to wander off. I fount her later in the hands of a couple of much less rich and much more reasonable elves. However, apparently they had accepted the small amount of coins I had given her for an emergency and gave her...I'm not kidding, a hair dye job.
I was about to chew her out for it when I noticed something odd. Her hair was now a rust-red color, just like mine.
"Now the stupid elf will know you're my dad!" She said happily. I'm going to melt her pointy ears with the lecture she's going to get when we go home, but I have to admit...I kinda like this kid."
Today sucked goat balls. I was late for militia practice again, and Warden Helga made me run the track four times. I asked her why I had to do that when the other militia only have to do it twice for the same offense and she replied "ta stretch out yer taffy legs, ya pointy eared daisy muncher!" Then she she made me run again, "fer sassin' me."
Dammit, why can't she see I'm just as much a Stoutaxe as anyone here. Sure I'm over a foot taller than everyone else, have black skin, and a voice that sounds like one of those nancy harps from the surface but Father Mogrim at the Temple of Moradin tells me it's what's inside you that counts.
On a lighter note, Poppa promised to help me finish the leg plates for my armor. Love, Sandy.
Great news! Poppa tells me that there's a clanmeet coming up and Bazghan Bronzebeard will be there! He's a distant cousin from a cross-clan marriage. I met him at great Clanmeet with the Bronzebeards years ago and I've had such a crush on him. I hear he's even been adventuring on the surface and killed a dragon!
Moradin's beard, I have not time I've got to get ready. I told Aunty Vera and she promised to help me finish that dress I have been working on all winter. I know I should have finished it sooner, but Poppa's kept me so busy at the smithy.
Oh what to do with my hair? I suppose being born an elf has some advantages. I used to try to dye my hair red, but it just grew so fast that my white roots showed no matter what I did. Still, it's nice to have the longest braids of any woman in the clan. Should I go with one braid? Two? Three braids braided together? Well, gotta go. I really have to get to market and pick up some gilded hair ornaments. Nothing fancy, little clips for the end, I want to accent my hair not overwhelm it. Gotta go. Love, Sandy.
Tonight's the big night! I finished that dress and not a moment too soon. I think it looks very fetching. A nice off gray, with a matching knitted wool coat. Aunty Vera said I should use silver ornaments instead of gold because my hair is such a bright white. After trying it on, I have to say it was a great choice. I polished it off with a silver-studded leather belt once and a half the width of my palm. I think I look every bit the proper Dwarven lady.
Except too tall and black skinned.
Oh well, some things you just have to adapt to. Wish me luck. Love, Sandy.
Tonight was the worst night of my life. I hate Bazghan Bronzebeard, I hate him!
Everything started out so well. Poppa finally saw me in my new dress. He said "would ya look at that. Ya finally look like a proper lady and not a scrawny waif!" He gave me one of his characteristic slaps on the back, when I was younger they would have sent me sprawling across the room. Now I'm older it just knocked the wind out of me and made me stagger.
We got to the clan meet right on time, the ritual greetings to the Chieftain and the speeches seemed to take forever. It took a while before I spotted him. There he was, Bazghan the Dragonslayer sitting three tables down from us.
It took me forever to finally screw up the courage to go talk to him. He must have caught me staring seven times. Poor Aunty Vera finally had to elbow me in the ribs to get me to go for it.
Well, I asked him to dance he accepted. We must have spent an hour dancing and talking. I was as giddy as a little girl.
Then he introduced me to his fiance. A halfling, a bloody halfling. I managed to keep my composure long enough to excuse myself. I spent the rest of the evening staring at the bottom of my ale mug.
When we got home, I just couldn't take it any more. I started sobbing right in the middle of the common room. It was so wrong of me, it's not how a dwarf maiden is supposed to act but I'm not a dwarf maiden. I'm a weak, bloody, stupid elf. Bless Aunty Vera. She took me to her quarters and asked me what happened. I told her and must have spent forever crying in into her lap while she stroked my hair. Stupid elf hair, I should dye it red again. Love, Sandy
I'm still not sure what I want to do. I want to serve Clan Stoutaxe to the best of my abilities, but choosing how is becoming a problem. I have to say, I've surprised myself in the militia and I'm not the only one. I really seem to have earned Warden Helga's respect. She says I have potential and that I should become a Warden. She even said she would start training me to be a Hammerer.
It sounds good, but I don't know. I think Aunty Vera wants me to marry. Ever since that clanmeet decades ago she has trotted a seemingly endless parade of eligible Dwarf and Human men in front of me. I humor them, dance with them and laugh at their jokes but I have yet to start courtship with any one of them. She only tried elves once, that didn't go so well but I'm sure you already know all about that, eh Diary?
I guess that's just the elven part of me that I will never fully be able to erase. I asked one of the Elven traders about it last summer and she called it "melancholy" and said it could last for a long time. Well damn it, I'm a Stoutaxe and I'm not about to let my emotions rule me.
I think I'll accept Helga's offer. Love, Sandy.
Damn me. Damn my weakness! I met my biological kin for the first time yesterday and those bastards killed my Chieftain right in front of me and I couldn't stop them!
It was my day, I had finally finished my full plate armor and I was standing at attention with the other Militia who were ready to be inducted into the ranks and become full fledged Wardens. We entered the Chieftain's hall as he was entertaining a delegation from another clan.
Then, it happened.
One moment, the 6 figures before the Chieftain were dwarves in royal regalia. The next, they were lithe tall humanoids with luminous white hair and black skin. They looked like me!
5 wore leather armor and wielded scimitars; obviously men. The sixth was a tall, lithe woman dressed more like a whore than a priestess and wielding some kind of scepter or mace in the shape of a black widow. Instantly, they fell on the Chieftain and his guards.
With a banshee roar I charged the woman as the men rushed forward she was unprotected. As it happened, I underestimated her. She heard me coming and moved with oily speed dodging the first swings of my warhammer with unnatural grace and landing several blows of her own that stung even through my armor. I finally landed a blow that left a huge welt on her side, she snarled in rage and countered with a blow that knocked my helmet off.
Things seemed to move in slow motion. Her expression changed from one of triumph and rage to one of confusion. She froze, I didn't. I brought my warhammer down on her head with all my might with a sickening crack. I felt her head pop as my arm and face were splattered with wet, gooey material.
My triumph was short lived. I turned just in time to see one of the assassins wrenching his scimitar from the Chieftain's chest. "NOOOOO!" I screamed as I charged the closest assassin. He finished decapitating a fellow Warden before turning to face me. His blows clanged harmlessly off my shield and my counter blow shattered his right shoulder, but he ignored the pain and spun driving a slender dagger through a slit in my armor on my left side. I grunted in pain, swung and missed.
I soon realized the other assassins were moving to surround me. I dropped my shield, the wound in my shoulder made it too painful to hold and it was slowing me down. The assassin with the shattered arm tried to rush me. I swept his feet out from under him and brought my hammer down on his chest with a sickening crack. As I stood, I heard a rush of air and felt sudden, sharp pain in my back. The cowards had shot me. I turned to face them, but already I could feel the strength draining from my limbs. I staggered, but gritted my teeth and swung anyway. I was a Stoutaxe and if I was to die that day, I would take as many of those bastards screaming into the hells with me as I could.
The assassins circled me like predators savoring a kill. I swung at them, but my eyelids were heavy and my arm felt like a ton of lead. The blows refused to connect. I could feel my life draining away. It was no use, I sank to my knees cursing myself. I glared into the eyes of the lead assassin as he raised his hand crossbow. I would not give him the satisfaction of seeing me grovel. "Do your worst." I snarled. He merely laughed.
Suddenly, a sharp whistle sounded and an arrow drove through his eye socked at pierced his skull. His other eye had just enough time to register an almost comical look of surprise before falling to the floor.
A bellow of holy rage filled the room as a human in gleaming full plate charged the farthest assassin. He stood well over 6 feet tall, was broad across the shoulders and had masculine features with long, blonde hair and piercing green eyes. The front of his armor was adorned with symbols of the human god Lathander. He bellowed a prayer as he drove his massive greatsword clean through the nearest assassin's body. The second assassin was charged by a bald man, also in plate wielding a Bastard sword. Not wanting to be left out, I leapt to my feet and attacked the last assassin. He parried three of my blows, but the third got through and knocked him to the floor before I delivered the finishing blow.
Finally I stood, staring at the blonde human. He stared back, not sure if I was friend or foe. I tried to walk towards him I stumbled. It was taking nearly the force of my will just to stay conscious. My gore coated warhammer finally slipped from my weakening fingers as I staggered and fell
He rushed forward, I heard his sword clatter to the floor before he caught me. I looked into his green eyes and struggled to form words, but my strength was leaving me and I could only make weak gasps and choking sounds.
"She's been poisoned! Septimus, quickly!" He called out, the cleric rushed towards me and began muttering some thing, his hand glowing but my head rolled back and the world went black.
I awoke in my quarters at home. I don't know how long I had been out. Hours? Days? Aunty Vera was right by my side. She was nearly beside herself. "Oh Sandy, lass we thought we had lost you!" This time, she was the one who lost her dwarven composure. Poppa was there to. "You did us proud, lass." He said.
I managed to find out who that man is. His name is Dorn. He's a Paladin of Lathander. He has been traveling with a Cleric of Helm named Septimus and a Halfling Ranger named Royl Swifthistle. Apparently, they had found the real dwarven delegation murdered in the tunnels and had rushed to warn the Chieftain. Now Dorn wants to meet me, but I can't imagine why.
It's been almost a week since I met Dorn Rogan, Paladin of Lathander. I could hardly imagine why a hero of the gods would want to meet little old me. Still, as I walked out into the common room with Aunty Vera supporting my arm (I was still a little weak from the poison, you see) I couldn't help but feel a little giddy. Almost like I felt the night before Bazghan Bronzebeard took my little adolescent heart in his hand and crushed it.
When he saw me, he stood and I finally got a good look at him. He was tall and masculine, with broad shoulders, a muscular yet lean frame and a chiseled jaw. His long, blonde hair was tied behind him in a ponytail.
Dorn introduced himself and asked how I was feeling. He complimented me on my bravery. He was worried that the poison might have some after effects so he had come to check on me. I thanked him and we began to chat. I must have seemed like a little girl smitten with a handsome Deepwarden but I didn't care. I was fascinated by him, his tales of what he had done. More than that, I wanted to know what being a Paladin really meant.
He told me he would be leaving soon. I desperately wanted him to stay, but I could do nothing. Still, a sense of certainty filled me. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
I have just come from the temple of Moradin and a long talk with Father Mogrim. He was unsure, an elf taking the oath to the dwarven god was unprecedented but I was bound and determined. I knew my path.
I start my Paladin training in the morning.
Well, today's the big day. Father Mogrim says it's time for me to leave the clanhold. A Paladin's place is not to simply stay in one spot, he must undertake a quest for the good of all. So, father Mogrim has sent me out into the world at large to do great deeds in Moradin's name. Don't get me wrong, I want to do this. Ever since Dorn Rogan, Paladin of Lathander saved my life I have known this was my true calling. I just feel a little melancholy about leaving. I have only been to the surface a few times and never gone out of sight of the clanhold.
Poor Aunty Vera is almost beside herself. I can tell Poppa doesn't want me to leave either. I wish I could stay, but this is my duty. The world at large is an anvil on which Moradin is going to reforge me. When I return, I will be a champion of the All-Father better suited to defending my home.
I have to travel light, so that means I can't take you along, Diary. You wouldn't believe some of the things I found while cleaning out my quarters. I still have the 1235 edition of "Rangers: Summer Collection." Fortunately, Poppa was still at the smithy and I manged to burn it in the hearth before anyone saw. How embarrassing.
There was a meeting in the clan hall to see me off. Everyone was there, even Bazghan Bronzebeard and his wife. I'm going to miss this place.
Well, time to turn in. I have to get an early start tomorrow.
PS. On second thought, I think I will bring you, Diary. I really don't want Aunty Vera finding all those love sonnets I wrote when I was a girl. She might get it in her head to try and marry me off again.
When Sandy pushed the door open to her father's workshop, she heard the familiar sounds of his work. She could even read his moods by the pace of his movements, the tone of hammer-blows or file rasps. He turned as she entered, eyes flicking across the heavy armor she wore--armor he had largely crafted himself, fitting each piece to his daughter in his last act of fatherly protection.
"I'll be leavin' wi' the clerics for Oakhurst soon, Poppa."
She smiled, moving to his side at the workbench. Her own helm sat there, and Grilgar was wordlessly brushing its surface with an oiled cloth, buffing the thin layer of blueing that would protect it from rust. She saw that he had added a hinged visor to the helm; a series of diagonal vents across its surface allowing excellent vision, yet covering the entire face. Finally, not looking up from his handiwork, he spoke.
"Added this for ye, daughter. Ye might find...well, yer eyes ain't likely to be used t' th' sun just yet. And..." He let out a soft harumph, broad shoulders straightening. "Ye know I never taught you t' be anything but proud o' yer face, lass. But outside th' hold...well, maybe sometimes ye may want strangers t' know ye by word an' deed before they can judge ye unfairly. Is all."
He finally glanced up, meeting those red-violet eyes he had come to find so familiar, so lovely. He could see the welling of tears, blinked away, and he harrumphed again, as always never quite able to respond to the ease with which his daughter showed emotion.
Sandy leaned down slightly, kissing the top of her father's head, his graying hair having long ago receded from its peak. A change for which he had often, loudly, blamed her.
"I love ye, Poppa. I'll make ye proud, I swear it."
A pause of a few seconds, then his quiet, rumbling voice. "I'm proud of ye already, lass. An' always will be."
Sandy held her father for some time longer, saying nothing. Then she took up her helmet, and turned toward the door, father and daughter alike hiding their tears from the other.
[Disclaimer: The following was, in fact, written by the same author to the above. It's still terrible]
Oi, what a day. So I awoke from my trance before the rest of the family had even stirred and made breakfast. I roused Aunty Vera and gave her a little peck on the forehead before leaving. I would be traveling with a caravan through the southern road. Apparently, the caravans had been having some bandit trouble lately. Smiting some foul cut purses seemed like a perfect way for a young paladin to cut her teeth.
Our caravan was led by a surly old dwarf named Belgar. Belgar left before dawn. The trip stared out alight, but soon things started going wrong. For one, the "southern road" actually runs more east to west, and this being the mountains it created a perfect channel for the sun. I was never quite comfortable with that big, glowing ball in the sky. It hurts my eyes something terrible. Two minutes after daybreak, I was squinting in the blinding light. Two hours later, I was staring at my saddle with watering eyes. Damn sun.
Of course, it was at this point that the bandits decided to attack. Murphy's law and all that. Our first sign of the attack was the sound of rocks tumbling down the mountain. I might be half-blind in sunlight, but that doesn't mean my other sense aren't sharp as a nail. I suppose there are more advantages to being born an elf than just the hair.
Next thing we knew, the caravan was being swarmed by Goblins, urging them forward was a big, hairy giant with two heads. An Ettin from the looks of it, and my target. I charged through the goblins, scattering them like so many pins as I leapt from my horse and readied my warhammer.
The beast swung at me, wielding an uprooted tree like a club, but I managed to leap out of the way. I suppose there are other advantages to being born an elf. Channeling the holy power of Moradin into myself, I brought my hammer down on the beast's foot with a satisfying crack of bone. As the beast reeled and I prepared to deliver the killing blow, however I felt myself being pulled aside.
A big, blonde, oafish-looking fellow in plate armor leapt in front of me. "Fear not, fair maiden this beast shall not harm you." He said, his back was to me, so he missed me staring daggers at him.
He also missed the Ettin's arm coming down next to him him and knocking him off balance. "I'm doing just fine, thank you very much!" I shouted with more than a little annoyance in my voice. "No, fair maiden. Stay behind me, I will not let this beast lay a finger on you." He said, holding his arms out to block my charge. In the process of shouting at each other, we missed the Ettin bringing the tree up to swing at us again. As the tree began its descent that would surely squash both this oaf and myself, two arrows buried themselves in the Ettin's chest. As the beast fell, the man turned to the shooter, a goblin wearing a tabard, and said. "Sniff, don't you dare screw me up like that again."
"Sorry, sir." The goblin replied, turning its eyes downward and sighing in resignation.
That was how I met Smite Brannigan.
We FINALLY reached Oakhurst. I still don't know why that caravan driver decided to take the detour through troll country. It felt like we were on the road for weeks, and that insufferable Oaf of a knight droning on in my ear the whole time. I feel tired, wet (from the snow, you degenerate pervert) and a little dirty from spending so much time within earshot of that blaggart.
I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by the Oakhurst villager's reaction when I removed my helmet. I attracted something of a crowd after a while. It seemed that word of the dwarven drow had spread south along the trade route and the locals wanted to see if the stories were true. I shouldn't let this lull me into a false sense of security. My dark skinned race are known and despised in every corner of Faerun, father that my own legend could have possibly spread.
I managed to get his goblin squire, sniff, alone once and asked him how such an unusually intelligent goblin ended up travelling with such an unusually thick knight. The loudmouth Sir Brannigan claims he rescued Sniff from a tribe of giants who were about to eat him. The truth is, he won sniff in a bet on a pit fight. The poor dear, stuck traveling with that insufferable lout masquerading as a proper knight.
Thankfully, we are parting company at Oakhurst. They are heading north into the mountains to hunt frost giants. I offered to take Sniff with me, but he feels honor bound to Sir Brannigan. If Sir Brannigan had any shred of honor in him, he'd turn Sniff loose.
As for me, I will go southeast, into the deep forest. There are stories that the woods are cursed and that evil things lurk within. To be honest, I'm more worried about running into surface elves. My encounters with the elven traders at home were not pleasant, and then I had Poppa and the whole clan to back me up. I hope I don't run into any wood elves.
Or giant spiders. Moradin's beard, I hate those eight legged bastards.
Sandwich, you've really done it now.
I am currently writing this from a guarded cell high in a tree. Higher up than I have ever felt comfortable without walls of stone surrounding me. Do you remember what I said last time we talked, diary? About the one thing I did not want to encounter in these woods? Guess who I ran into not half an hour after walking in. Bloody wood elves, a whole bleeding clan of them.
So I reached the High Forest, following the rumors of monsters and ancient, cursed ruins that lay within, the perfect place for a Paladin to spread the light of the gods. I had never seen trees before. Well, not for real anyway. When I saw the sketches the merchants brought I was sure they were exaggerating. The tree canopy was a welcome relief from the constant, bright sun that had dogged me all the way from the hold. I was just starting to get comfortable in this place when I heard something moving in the canopy above. Suddenly, I was reminded of how alien an environment I had just blundered in to.
I scarcely had time to feel just how lost and alone I really was here when an arrow struck the ground not three feet from me. I heard the rustle of something slithering down a branch behind me and the stretching noise as a new arrow was drawn in the bow. "Don't turn around." The voice was firm, angry even. It didn't seem quite elven, it had the lyrical quality to it, but it seemed all together rougher more human. "You are either bold, or stupid to traipse into our woods so brazenly, cursed one."
I realized then that I had removed that I had removed my helmet when I entered the High Forest, my dark visage was now plain for all to see. "You are making a mistake. My name is.." He cut me off. "I don't care what you call yourself, to me you are but a filthy murdering drow who should be thankful she is still breathing right now."
The insult stung a bit, but I had endured such cruel taunts throughout my childhood. They had lost their sting long ago.
My captor continued. "I am taking you to the Elder. He will know what to do with you."
So I was led into the wood elves' camp. My hands upraised for fear of getting an arrow through my heart if I so much as flinched. As we arrived, we passed by a burbling stream where a pretty, blonde elf was gathering water. The poor thing actually gave a little scream when she saw me and dropped the clay water jug she carried where it shattered into a thousand pieces.
I heard my captor barking some orders at her in elvish. Before I knew it, my hands were bound and I was standing before the elder. I finally got a good look at my captor, he seemed like an elf but he was fuller some how, more muscular, broader in the shoulders. His most striking feature was something that I had never seen on an elf before. A beard, well more of a little tuft of hair on his chin but still I had never seen an elf with facial hair before. His long, chestnut brown hair and piercing green eyes made for a rather handsome and less effeminate, example of the elven species. Of course, the look of absolute contempt and disgust he regarded me with kind of ruined the view.
The elder pulled my head out of the clouds when he started questioning me in some bizarre language I had never heard before. It sounded like someone trying to speak elven with a cold. He finally asked me in common, "who are you?"
"I am Sandwich Stoutaxe of the Stoutaxe clan. I may have been born a drow, but the heart that beats in my chest is that of a Stoutaxe."
"You're either insane, or the most incompetent infiltrator I have ever met. I say we kill her and be done with it."
The elder turned to to face the bearded ranger. "Enough, Kanihel. We shall hear what she has to say, then make our judgment."
So began a very long and very boring interrogation, that I just don't feel the urge to recount for you, Diary. At least they let me keep you when they locked me up in here. The elder doesn't want to kill me, but nor can he fully trust me and if the legends about my people are even half true, I can't say I blame him.
[Disclaimer: These stories were written by a different author and represent a divergence from the official storyline. They are probably not canon and, in fact smell of Gary Stu (Jim)]
Sitting alone in a wood cell for an entire day. That's certainly the kind of heroic adventures a paladin of Moradin would have right? Oh who was she kidding? Between meeting the ever insipid Smite Brannigan and getting hog tied by a group of elves, she was about as far from being an exemplar to her clan as possible.
She wasn't sure what time it was. But the shadows had positioned themselves just right so she could see clear as day without the light stinging her sensitive red orbs. She thought she saw movement outside her cell door.
"Thank you for coming," came the deep yet distinctly light voice. She recognized it as the elder.
"Yea, yea," said the second voice "just lemme get the tools. Say you got a drow?"
Sandy's eyes suddenly widened. Oh Moradin. She had heard stories from her father before. Elves very rarely executed criminals. But considering their dark cousins reputation the thought of them making an exception didn't seem too far fetched. She remembered the interrogation and the way they had all looked at her. Something told her they weren't going to be the most understanding lot.
Sandy braced herself against the wall as her door opened. Maybe she could try some of her inherit drow abilities?... then again. Had she ever used those abilities? As far as she was aware she could make an orb of darkness and maybe some magic fire but the thought of actually conjuring it never really occurred to her growing up. Even if she figured out what kind of personal conjuring it took, she somewhat doubted she could come up with it on the fly.
The elder walked in. She was inspecting an elf guard carrying a weapon of some kind but instead she saw... a human. He was a short, gauntly figure with a beer belly and spindly little arms. Though the sheer mass of his coat seemed to hide some of this, the width of them in proportion to the sleeve revealed that the man looked far too physically weak to be a fighter. Across his face he wore a pair of goggles, one a blood red lens while the other was a stark sapphire blue. The human also had facial hair. Though his was even less profound than the elder's. Covering his chin, upper lip and sideburns with only the tiniest amount of stubble. Moving up to his head of messy black/dark brown hair.
"This is her," the elder said as he pointed to Sandy.
"Hmmmm...." the human hummed as he reached for a belt at his waist and began to reach for some random items. Sandy braced herself again. Had they hired a wizard to kill her? Why go through the trouble.
"I'm not an enemy!" Sandy shouted.
"Hold your tongue!" the elder shouted back "we'll determine that soon enough."
"Ya know you could've just killed her," the human commented "why hire me?"
"Our dark kin are tricky and cruel... but she claims to be of a dwarven clan. And a paladin no less!" the elder explained.
"So she's either insane, apart of the most convoluted and insane drow deception yet, or she's telling the truth?" the man asked "ya know I did hear a saying once. 'So stupid. It has to be real'!"
Sandy stood up. She could only take being demeaned for so long.
"Think of me or my kind what you will. But I still have my pride and my faith!" she shouted at both of them with conviction. The human and the elder both looked at each other, shrugged and the man pulled out what looked to be a strange metal box with a tiny piece of wood sticking out of it.
He pointed it at her. Sandy stood her ground, expecting there to be a flash of lightning or possibly a fireball launched in her direction. But instead there was a simple buzzing noise and she saw a blue light start to glow from the metal box.
"Alright," the human said as he adjusted his goggles "what's your name, where you from, and why're you here?"
Sandy breathed a sigh of relief. He was merely sent her to try and discern if she was telling the truth.
"My name is Sandwich Stoutaxe of the Stoutaxe Clan. I'm a paladin of Moradin and I have come to this forest to purge it of evil," Sandy stated with pride.
The human observed the box as the arcane lights flashed a few more times.
"... she's being honest," he said, sounding like he could hardly believe his own words.
"You can't be serious!" the elder breathed "her name is SANDWICH? She's apart of a DWARF CLAN and a paladin or Moradin!?"
"Hey. The powers that be don't lie," the human said as he looked at his device with admiration. Sandy found an odd familiarity in the way he held it aloft. It reminded her of poppa when he held up an axe of his own forging and observed it like that. Maybe this human wasn't so bad after all.
"When was the last time you got that thing properly attuned?" the elder asked "remember that her kind are well known for their deception."
The human took off his goggles and she saw a pair of shallow blue eyes move from her to the elder and give him a demeaning stare.
"Hey bud. I'm the artificer here. This thing's seen me through so many lies that I can't even come up with a proper joke about it," he said. Sandy smiled to herself. It wasn't that what he said was funny, but it was good to see someone who wasn't treating her existence as being a matter of deathly seriousness.
"But if you REALLY wanna trance soundly tonight," the human reached into his pocket and pulled out another metal box. This one smaller. He rested it on the floor of the chamber and began inscribing an arcane circle around it.
Sandy had never seen magic like this before. She couldn't tell if it was the arcane markings of a wizard or the gentle prayers of a cleric. This magic seemed much more... raw. Much more practical. Like the kind a dwarf actually might use. The look of concentration on the human's face even reminded Sandy of her father when he was smithing away at his anvil.
The thought of the hammer striking down on the anvil brought back some... awkward memories. Sandy positioned her legs strangely and watched as a holy light emanated from the metal box. The human proceeded to hold it up to his ear.
"Hello? May I speak with Moradin? Maybe an avatar?" he said as he paused for a second, "no?... how about one of his messengers then?... an angel? Alright. I'll hold."
Sandy wasn't quite sure what was going on. But if it sounded like what she thought it sounded like then she felt a great wave of relief wash over her as she knew the perfect alibi was coming.
"Yea? Does Moradin have a Paladin named Sandwich? Happens to be a drow?" the human paused for another couple seconds before nodding "thank you, oh supreme being. I will take your message to heart", another flash of holy light and he turned his attention back to Sandy and the Elder, "she checks out."
The Elder just stared at Sandy. His eyes weren't sure how to take her. A combination of confusion, disgust and rage filled them. Sandy just returned with an enraged and prudent stare of her own.
"Do you believe me now? I even have the word of my god with me!" Sandy stated. The elder turned his attention away, whether he was ashamed to speak to her or afraid wasn't known.
"You can't expect me to believe all of this!" he shouted at the human.
"Hey man. You can kill her if you like. But then again. Moradin might not be too keen on seeing one of his paladins killed by Elves. Drow or not. Wonder how her family would respond if they found out. That's an entire clan of dwarves. Stoutaxe was it? They're pretty strong in number I believe," the human said as he looked at the elder. Apparently enjoying watching him squirm as much as Sandy was.
"I can't just let her go," he stated after a moment of gritting her teeth, "many of the elves of this village have fought her kind. Some have lost mothers, daughters, entire villages to her kind."
"I thought you elves had your 'superior natural culture that vastly outlives we humans brutal lifestyle' thing going," the human said. Sandy was liking this human more and more.
"Drow are different. They're a reminder of a mistake... a reminder of a failure. We lose some of our rationality when dealing with them. If I just let her go, there could be a revolt. There's no telling what would happen," he explained.
The human finally nodded and turned to Sandy.
"OK Sandwich. Guess you're gonna have to leave this place in chains," he explained.
"Excuse me?" she asked.
"Just until the heat cools down. Hate to break it to ya but this guy's right. These guys do lose any sensibility when drow are involved. Worse if you fight them you're just proving them right," he proceeded to pull out a set of steel manacles that glowed with a shimmering arcane light.
"... OK," Sandy sighed as she let her wrists fall into them, "but I don't have to like it."
The human nodded as he lead her down the corridor outside.
"AND I'LL BE WANTING MY STUFF BACK!" Sandy shouted over her shoulder at the elder. He just watched her, not with anger or disgust now but with... intrigue. Like he was observing a sight he doubted he'd ever see again.
When Sandy was taken out into the elf village she saw all manner of elf glaring at her as a dwarf would at a traitor to his clan. The archers sitting up in the tree tops grasped their bows just a bit tighter as they walked by. And mothers seemed to coddle their young ones just a bit tighter.
"Sandwich," the human said as they got closer to the outskirts of the village.
"Excuse me?" Sandy asked.
"Just a weird name is all. Sandwich? Does that mean something different in drow?... errr... dwarven?" the man asked. Sandy smiled at him.
"Me poppy named me that. Found me in a picnic basket... apparently he wanted a sandwich inside. Got more than he bargained for," she explained.
"HAH! Just like a dwarf to think with his stomach," he chuckled, "my name's Jim."
"Jim?" she asked.
"Yea. Real name's James Issac Messiah. But people call me Jim cause... well... it's my first, middle and last name's fist letters combined. Also an abbreviation for my first name!" he said.
Jim and Sandy walked outside the village and Sandy happened upon the most amazing mount she had ever seen. It appeared to have the basic structure of a horse. But rather than flesh and bone, this was a construct of steel and metal. Held together by enchantments she could only imagine. Its red eyes were both lifeless and fascinating all at once.
"Wooow..." she gasped.
"Bet you never saw one of these huh?" Jim said as he climbed onto the mount and motioned for her to get on.
"What kind of wizard are you?" Sandy asked.
"Not Wizard. Artificer. We're a bit different," he explained.
Sandy managed to position herself on the back of the metal horse, right behind Jim. She held on as the mechanical mount took right off and started to trot down the forest path.
"So where're we heading?" Sandy asked.
"A way home! Or at least I am..." Jim responded.
It was two hours later and Sandy had already taken off the shackles (thanks to Jim's help), donned her armor once more and received her battle axe again. It felt good to be in her armor again. Felt natural to feel the weight baring down on her shoulders.
Jim was currently standing in front of a circle that he was drawing carefully in the dirt.
"Ya know," Jim said "a paladin of Moradin might be useful back where I'm from. Sure you wouldn't like to come along?"
"Thank you," Sandy replied as she tightened her breastplate some more "but I mustn't. I promised to slay the evils lurking in this forest."
"Hmmm," Jim hummed "well guess I should tell you then."
"Tell me what?" Sandy asked.
"The reason the elder hired me to come interrogate you, the reason those elves were all on guard was because they were afraid you might've been a sign."
"A sign?" Sandy asked. Growing more confused with what he was saying.
"Every couple hundred years there's an elf born in this here forest. He ain't like normal elves. He's evil. And not just regular drow kinda evil. I'm talking literal child of Asmodeus himself kinda bad. Normally they can find the 'problem child' early in life and... nip it in the bud," Sandy winced as Jim said this. The idea of elves killing infants was giving her a lower opinion of the wood dwelling cousins more and more. Even if he was evil.
"But recently, the time's come and no child was born with certain factors that indicate this. Sometimes horns, sometimes blood red split pupil eyes. Sometimes just a dark, uneasy aura around them. They thought the curse passed this century when apparently there was a murder here not too long ago," Jim explained and Sandy's head nodded. So there WAS evil in this forest!
"Naturally they're a bit paranoid. One of their kind may be harboring powers from the abyss and a soul as black to boot. You showing up might've given them the impression this black sheep might've gone to the Underdark for assistance," Jim seemed to finish up his arcane circle then.
"They thought I was in league with a murderer?" she asked.
"That's what he was worried about. Also probably the reason they didn't shoot on sight. Probably wanted to try and get as much out of you as possible in case you knew something about him," Jim said as he moved away and clapped his hands, "all I know is, this forest definitely has plenty of evil for you to smite."
Just like that. A portal opened up in front of Jim and he proceeded to walk toward it. The mechanical horse following, "you sure you'll be fine?" Jim asked over his shoulder.
"I have Moradin's light and hammer with me. I will be fine," she stated.
"Heh, alright," Jim proceeded to move through the portal an in an instant both him and the mechanical horse were gone. Sandy smiled to herself and nodded. It was good to know that not everyone outside her clan was bad.
As she turned around, her face went straight through a spiderweb, "AIIEEYYY! GET IT OFF! GET IT OFF!" Sandy screeched as she ran about in a panic. She hated spiders.
Unknown to her, the sun was setting and soon it would be night. A good time for drow... but an even worse time for paladins.