Eilistraee was the chaotic good drow goddess of song, dance, swordwork, hunting, moonlight, goodness, and beauty, within the drow pantheon known as the Dark Seldarine. She was the patroness and protector of the few dark elves who longed to return to the surface and live there, at peace with other races, and to abandon the endless conflicts and intrigues that dominated the lives of most drow. She was often referred to as the The Dark Maiden, the Lady of the Dance, or Lady Silverhair, and sometimes The Dark Dancer, among other titles Briefly, she was known as The Masked Lady, while her faith subsumed that of the Masked Lord Vhaeraun, her divine brother. Her name was pronounced variously as "EEL-iss-TRAY-yee", "eel-ISS-tray-ee", "eel-iss-tray-yee", or "eil-iss-tray-yee". Eilistraee pronounced her own name "AISLE-iss-try-ee", while Elminster Aumar, Qilué Veladorn, and the rest of the Seven Sisters pronounced it "Isle-ISS-tree", even when addressing the goddess face to face.
She was the daughter of Araushnee (later Lolth) and Corellon Larethian, a free-spirited and kind-hearted goddess, with a fiery streak in her personality. When, during her youth, a host of evil deities assaulted Arvandor (her home), Araushnee's treachery almost made her slay her own father. Even though she was cleared from any guilt, Eilistraee chose to share her mother's exile, because she knew that the drow would need her light in the times to come. After the descent of the drow, Eilistraee tried to be a mother goddess to her people and bring them the hope of a new life. She fought to lead them back to the lands of light, helping them to flourish and prosper in harmony with other races, free from Lolth's tyranny and the conflicts that dominated their lives. Hers was an uphill battle, however, as her power was little and she was opposed by all the gods of the Dark Seldarine. But, despite having to overcome many hardships and setbacks, Eilistraee never gave up fighting for her people. In the 1370s DR, her conflict with her mother over the souls of the drow race ultimately led to Eilistraee's defeat and disappearance. It lasted for about a century, until the Second Sundering (circa 1480s DR), when Eilistraee returned to life and to her followers.
DescriptionEditAs an avatar, Eilistraee appeared as a drow female of extraordinary beauty. She was 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall, with long, strong, graceful limbs and a glossy, obsidian-dark skin. Her face was like that of her mother, Lolth, with delicately sculpted features and shape, save for her large eyes and ankle-length hair, which were of a glowing silvery hue. She usually appeared unclad, cloaked only by her hair and silvery radiances that were ever-moving about her body. Her appearance inspired utter awe and astonishment (as expected from a goddess), as well as deeper emotions: those who contemplated her could feel as if they had found the answer to all that their soul longed for, but upon her leaving, they would experience a feeling of deep loss, or even desolation, though only for a brief time (as Sharlario Moonflower and his son, Cornaith, felt when the Dark Dancer manifested to them, warning them of the dangers of Ilythiir).
PersonalityEditEilistraee was a generally melancholy goddess (in great part because of the suffering of her people, the drow), but she still tried her best to spread joy, create and nurture beauty, show kindness, and make life flourish. She was a lover of peace and beauty, music and dance, and was happiest when seeing artists—especially bards, dancers, and musicians—composing and performing, craftsmen at their work, people doing acts of kindness, and lovers in tender moments. She herself enjoyed helping people in need in various practical ways.
As a young goddess, Eilistraee was a free spirit, with a moody and wild side and an unpredictable temper. Even as she matured, these traits never really left her: she had a fiery streak and was prone to wild action, especially in protection of her faithful when they were harmed. The evil that was inflicted upon—and perpetuated by—most drow caused a burning anger within her, one that could cause her to lash out. She was comforted that some worked their way free of the Spider Queen's web.
Though focused on the drow, Eilistraee accepted folk of all races who danced along her path, who delighted in life and in the free-form expression of life in all its forms. She fought so that all races could live peacefully together, helping and accepting each other despite their differences, and strongly believed in the possibility of redemption for those who had fallen to evil, especially the drow.[speculation]
According to Rowaan Vrinn, Eilistraee didn't test her followers, as the challenges of life were enough of a test themselves. She valued the intent behind their actions more than the actual success.
- See also: Eilistraee's teachings
Eilistraee took the role of a nurturing and protecting mother-goddess for the whole drow race. She chose to share their exile so that she could be with them when they needed her the most, to provide a light in the darkness and a shining beacon of hope to her children in the difficult times that—as she had foreseen—would come upon them. Eilistraee worked to redeem the fallen dark elves to lead them out of the Underdark and back to the surface world, into the great forests they'd left long before.
Eilistraee taught and showed to the drow kindness and love, the joy and freedom of life that were taken away from them, calling them to her and singing to their hearts. The goddess helped the dark elves to strengthen, grow, and flourish in a hostile surface world, protecting her faithful and aiding them in hunting, swordcraft, and other practical matters of their everyday lives.
However, her efforts were opposed by the power of Lolth and the other evil drow gods, and what she could do was very limited. Eilistraee preferred not to act openly and only rarely directly intervened in her people's lives. She believed that individual drow had to find their own paths to redemption, and that her forcefully interfering would prevent them from making their own choices. Nevertheless, she was not unwilling to retaliate when her followers were threatened, and often aided her people when they were in need. She was known to watch over them and help and assist any creature that she favored (even if not her worshiper) in small, immediately useful ways. For example, the sound of her hunting horn could be heard when her faithful were in danger—or when people needing help were nearby—heartening them and scaring away dangerous creatures. Her silvery radiance or silvery moths guided drow who were lost in the darkness to a safe place or lightened childbirths that occurred in the dark. Hers was the force that brought a stag within the reach of hungry drow. Eilistraee also manifested in the moments when her "children" needed her visible blessing and support or comfort. She usually did so through her own light, or--in a few cases (like it happened for Liriel Baenre)--as a protecting, shadowy, tall female dark elf that danced with the drow.
Eilistraee sang her call to all dark elves—from the highest matron mother to the lowest male slave—sending them dreams or visions, showing them a different, better life (especially when they were close to the surface). Lolth was powerless to stop these visions, as too much interference from two goddesses could easily bring a mortal's mind to insanity. The drow definitely came to know about and "felt" the Dark Dancer at some point in their lives, but many of them either would not understand said dreams or emotions or chose to ignore, disbelieve, or reject them. Even then, while not many refused Lolth to cleave to Eilistraee, many secretly yearned for the goddess and all that she wished for them. In fact, it was not unusual for them—if they thought they could get away with it, without the knowledge of a priestess of Lolth—to choose to spare the life of a worshiper of Eilistraee, decline to tell other drow what they'd seen of their activities, or linger to watch one of their dances rather than breaking it up.
Her most common sign was a silvery radiance (sometimes accompanied by a snatch of song or a few echoing notes of a harp). Eilistraee used this light to assist her people: she was known to use it as a beacon guiding those lost in the woods, to shine a light on something dropped in the dark, and to illuminate a dark place where women gave birth. She also used it to bless a worshiper in various ways. Swords enveloped by the silvery light could not be broken or damaged and struck with maximum force. Living creatures would always react first in battle, could better evade or withstand blows, could strike more accurately, and could wound even creatures that needed magic to be harmed.
Sometimes, Eilistraee would use her radiance to bless the faithful or even non-faithful who decided to honor her with a solitary dance, turning the creature's hair into a mane of silvery, dancing flames. This could last as long as a month, or even be permanent. She would also very often[note 4] manifest when one of her priests led a new convert to her faith in prayer, which was itself an offering to Eilistraee.
On rare occasions, she could decide to grant a male follower or a follower with no priestly powers who nevertheless did her work with the temporary ability to manifest her moonfire. This could be to show her blessing or support, or simply to provide some light. However, the lucky bearer had no control over the moonfire's duration, intensity, or location—such things were solely up to the goddess.
Sometimes, she conjured the sound of a high and distant hunting horn—a far-off horn was her sign. This could be used to rally or hearten her followers, or to scare off bandits or orc raiders, who would believe reinforcements were coming for those harassed. When there were no enemies about, worshipers took the sound of the horn to mean there was someone close by they needed to aid.
Sometimes she would appear in person, to show her favor, give a blessing, or hearten her followers. Worshipers lucky enough to see her usually only glimpsed her from afar, balanced atop a distant hillock or battlement, with her silver hair flowing behind her. At times, she could also appear during celebrations dedicated to her, leaping inside the flames of bonfires, or manifest herself by night, cloaked and cowled and with her radiance dimmed, to travelers in the woodlands, usually to test their kindness. However and whenever she appeared, her song was heard. It was a tune of eerie beauty, moving many to tears.
Eilistraee demonstrated her favor and happiness through the discovery of particular minerals or gems (like mithral, moonbars, moonstones, and silver) or with a sudden inspiration to write a beautiful song or poem, or to craft a magnificent sword for those who had the ability.
However, the Dark Dancer could also let her displeasure be known, and did so by making a cold breeze rise, by making the disfavored ones feel a chill in their hands or feet, through a sudden lack of inspiration or talent in any form of art, or through the failure to catch anything while hunting.
Along with all the standard powers and godly senses of a deity of her rank, the Dark Dancer could instantly become aware of threats posed to good-aligned drow, to her followers, or to drow thinking of rejecting the faith of the deities of the Dark Seldarine, but only if their number was equal to or greater than five hundred.
Eilistraee had the ability to dance and sing to elicit emotions in her allies and foes, or to inspire courage and enhance her allies' skills: such was the beauty and power of her art that even creatures normally immune to such effects couldn't resist.
Among her great godly skills, Eilistraee was an excellent weaponsmith, and could freely create almost any magical item pertaining to beauty, hunting, moonlight, song, or swordplay. She was also an expert in matters of magic, nature, and faith, and a supreme hunter. As the goddess of dance and song, she was a brilliant dancer, singer and acrobat. Eilistraee specialized in swords of all forms, but was an absolute mistress of the bastard sword. She fought combining the grace and agility of her dance with the lethality of her fencing skills.
Eilistraee's AvatarEditEilistraee's avatar appeared as the goddess herself, described above.
She could use any kind of spell from any school or sphere of magic, but preferred those from the animal, plant, healing, creation, and charm/enchantment spheres. She had continuous true seeing, enabling her to see all things as they truly were, whether invisible, disguise, blurred, or hidden. She could instantly, at will, unleash nine silvery magic missiles (more potent against evil) or turn spells back against their casters; could levitate at will; and quickly regenerate wounds or even lost limbs. Also at will, she could conjure a silvery light, dancing lights, or moonfire and make the sounds of flutes, harps, or horns. Her music had the power to repel evil beings and undead, briefly stun a creature, and unlock things as a knock spell.
When she wished to appear clothed, Eilistraee's avatar could manifest wearing deep brown leather boots that allowed her to move in total silence and without leaving any trace, if she wished (combining the powers of boots of elvenkind, boots of varied tracks, and boots of the north). She could also wear a dappled green cloak that shifted its color according to the surrounding environment (combining a cloak of elvenkind and a ring of chameleon power, rendering the goddess' avatar invisible in natural areas.
HistoryEditEilistraee was born the daughter of Corellon Larethian, head of the elven gods, and Araushnee the Weaver (who later took the name of Lolth), a minor elven goddess. She was the sister of Vhaeraun.
The commonly accepted version of the story or myth of how Eilistraee came to her role in the Dark Seldarine ran as follows.
Around -30,000 DR, ambitious and traitorous, envious of the authority that her consort Corellon had over the elven people, Araushnee (with the cooperation of her son, Vhaeraun) gathered a host of deities who were opposed to the Seldarine, tricking them into assaulting Arvandor in an attempt to overthrow Corellon. The Weaver also tried to seduce Fenmarel Mestarine, elven god of outcasts and rebels, to join her in the imminent rebellion. As her adulterous lover, he was initially tempted by her advances, but he ultimately declined the offer.
The only deity of Arvandor who took steps to stop Araushnee's plan before it could unfold was Sehanine Moonbow. Through her connection to moonlight, she had in fact witnessed the Weaver crafting a scabbard meant for Corellon, imbued with cursed magic devised to bring defeat in battle to its owner. The item had been crafted by Araushnee before a meeting between Corellon and Gruumsh that was supposedly meant to establish the terms of a truce, but that in truth she had orchestrated with the orc god with the purpose of slaying her lover. This attempt was however a failure, and the sheath was lost in the battle, only to be later retrieved by Sehanine. The Lady of Dreams—-aware of Araushnee's betrayal, but knowing how important her love was to Corellon—tried to dissuade her from such madness, but the Weaver reacted violently, defeating and imprisoning the moon goddess with the aid of Vhaeraun. With the only meaningful obstacle out of their way, Araushnee and Vhaeraun proceeded with their plan, working to lead Eilistraee to find the cursed item. They exploited the Dark Maiden's adoration for her father, knowing that she would have been more than eager to search for the sheath, and overjoyed to return such a prized possession to him, making her the perfect scapegoat.
When the attack began, Eilistraee (whose skills in archery, scouting, and hunting were widely known among the Seldarine) was the first to spot the threat, allowing her father and the other elven deities to prepare a defense. The Dark Maiden took part in the battle, enthusiastic and proud to be able to fight by her father's side in defense of their home. In the heat of the battle that ensued, when Ghaunadaur made its entrance, Corellon painfully realized that the threat had to have come from within the Seldarine itself, as a being like Ghaunadaur could only enter Arvandor if a true evil already lurked within the plane. His sorrow grew even more intense when he realized that his lover, Araushnee, was behind it, as she stood observing the battle in triumph. Seeing the distraction and shock of the elven lord, an ogre god took advantage of the situation and charged towards his position: he almost managed to end his life, but Eilistraee acted swiftly to defend her father, loosing an arrow at the charging ogre-god. The young goddess didn't know, however, that the scabbard that Araushnee had crafted for Corellon's sword was imbued with a curse which magically drew the shaft of the arrow, changing its path to instead pierce his chest. Seeing the scene from the skies, Aerdrie Faenya, unaware of the deception, struck the still-shocked Eilistraee down, incapacitating her. Despite Corellon being almost fatally wounded, the battle was ultimately won by the forces of the Seldarine and, as soon as the last invader was driven from Arvandor, the elven deities—still unbelieving that the Dark Maiden could act against her father—gathered around the unconscious elven lord, trying to aid him and save his life.
It was then that Araushnee, faking grief, put in motion the second part of her plan (as she had intended for the invaders to be defeated). Pretending to do her best to save her lover, she tried to use a concoction of poisonous herbs, prepared by Eilistraee for the arrows of the mortal dark elves, to finish Corellon, passing it for a healing elixir made up of water from Elysium and healing herbs. She hoped that if her treachery was uncovered, she could still blame Eilistraee, as the potion had been her work. This plan didn't go well: Sehanine Moonbow had in fact managed to free herself, and intervened in time to save Corellon (together with Aerdrie Faenya and Hanali Celanil, in the form of the triune goddess Angharradh) and free Eilistraee from guilt.
After the elven lord regained consciousness and the truth was made clear, he had to take the painful decision to banish all the dark elven deities for their roles in the war against the Seldarine. Eilistraee was cleared from any wrongdoing, considered only an unwitting participant, but regardless she insisted upon this punishment from her reluctant father. She foresaw that the dark elves would need a beacon of good within their reach and her help and support in the times to come.
After very nearly slaying her own father with a misplaced arrow, Eilistraee swore never to use ranged weaponry again, lest her missile go astray. Thereafter, the sword was the only weapon for her.
After her exile, the Dark Maiden wandered Toril, the same world that the elves had chosen as their home. For centuries, she fought Vhaeraun's corruption of the Ilythiiri, thwarting his efforts to gain influence over all the dark elves of the south. Eilistraee had in fact foreseen that the influence of Vhaeraun (and of her mother, whom she knew would later come to Toril), would have led the Tel'Quessir to war against each other, and she worked to prevent that.
When Sharlario and Cornaith Moonflower traveled towards Ilythiir as representatives of the elves, to establish diplomatic ties with the dark elves there, Eilistraee personally appeared to both of them. The Dark Dancer came to seek friends in the two elves, and to warn them of the danger represented by Vhaeraun and his followers, and of the strife and conflict that they (and even darker deities) would have brought to the People. Both elves offered to become her followers, to support the goddess in her struggle, but—although honored—Eilistraee kindly refused, as she only wanted the elves to be aware, and as she feared that soon her own people would become exiles like she was.
Eilistraee eventually managed to gain some followers in Ilythiir, but her strength wasn't enough for her to prevail. On the contrary, the conflict between the two siblings allowed Ghaunadaur and Lolth (whose attention turned to Toril only later, when the moon elf Kethryllia Amarillis intruded into the Demonweb Pits, reminding the Spider Queen of a way to regain more of her divinity by having the surface elves worship her again) to fill in the void and command great authority over the dark elves, posing an even greater threat than Vhaeraun did.
The following centuries inflicted blow after blow to Eilistraee and her followers. During the Crown Wars (−12,000 DR to −9000 DR), she could only mitigate the growing control Lolth, Vhaeraun, and Ghaunadaur had over the dark elves. In −10,500 DR, the Dark Disaster—a magical cataclysm unleashed by the elves of Aryvandaar—caused the death of many of her people in Miyeritar, severely weakening the goddess' power. Meanwhile, Lolth and Ghaunadaur gained great influence among the dark elves, culminating in -10,000 DR, when the Seldarine and the elves gathered at the Elven Court cursed and exiled all dark elves (including Eilistraee's followers), turning them into drow. This harsh punishment was motivated by the corruption that Lolth and the balor Wendonai were spreading among the noble houses of Ilythiir, and by the worship of Lolth that had begun to spread among the Ilythiiri. Ultimately, Eilistraee could not rival Lolth's power, and the Spider Queen became the major deity of the dark elves. After this event, Lolth's and Ghaunadaur's persecution of worshipers of rival deities further marginalized the influence of the Lady of the Dance for millennia.
Eilistraee found an unlikely protégé in her nephew-god, Selvetarm. He was the son of Vhaeraun and Zandilar the Dancer (who would later become one with Bast, forming Sharess), but had spurned both his parents and walked alone for centuries, neither good nor evil. Finally, he was befriended by his aunt Eilistraee, and grew close to her. Selvetarm came to admire her goodness and appreciate her teachings, and the goddess hoped that, by teaching him her ways and redeeming him, he could become an exemplar that would aid her in healing the rift between the dark elves and the Seldarine. However, said hope and friendship ended in the late 3rd century after Dalereckoning, when Lolth tricked Selvetarm into slaying Zanassu (a demon lord whom Lolth considered her rival, as he claimed to have power over spiders), by promising him that doing so would gain him the appreciation of the Dark Maiden. But Selvetarm was overwhelmed by the demonic essence and he fell wholly to evil, ending up as Lolth's champion. Spiteful Lolth did this to prevent her daughter gaining an ally among the Dark Seldarine.
Despite all these setbacks, Eilistraee kept fighting to bring her hope to the drow and lead them back to their rightful place in the light. It was only in the centuries after Dalereckoning that her faith regained a degree of prominence in Faerûn.
The Time of TroublesEdit
In 1358 DR, when all the deities of the various pantheons were forced to walk Toril in their mortal avatar forms by Ao's decree (an event known as the Time of Troubles, or the "Avatar Crisis"), Eilistraee too was affected. She appeared to mortals at least once during the Time of Troubles. The Lady of Dance manifested in the High Forest, in the location that became known as Darkmaiden's Leap, a site of pilgrimage sacred to her. The goddess appeared there to rescue a group of drow refugees and lead them to the safety of the temple of the Promenade.
During the 1360s DR, Eilistraee took to heart the young drow Liriel Baenre and her travels on the surface. While Lolth constantly tried to claim Liriel as her own chosen, Eilistraee kept subtly singing her call to the girl, guiding her and letting her channel her magic on multiple occasions, in order to help her find her own path. For example, the emotion of Eilistraee's dance, and that of her moon magic, helped Liriel to envision and create her personal rune to carve in Yggdrasil—the goal of her quest, that would have allowed her to preserve her drow magic (and therefore, to her, identity) on the surface, and which also granted all drow the same ability (although that effect was not something that Liriel had intended to happen). Eilistraee's Moonsong, the ability to hear the song of people and places lit by the moon, guided Liriel to free the elven souls that had been trapped in a magical tapestry by the illithid Vestress of the Kraken Society, and made her feel a connection to the followers of the goddess. Similarly, the Dark Maiden helped the young drow bring back her lover Fyodor from the brink of death, and Thorn—Eilistraee's own champion—assisted her in her travel to Rashemen. All in all, Eilistraee spoke to Liriel's emotional side, providing her a sense of sisterhood, and reminding her of the beauty and joy that could be found in life.
War of the Spider QueenEdit
In the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR, the goddess Lolth went into a state of hibernation, a period called the Silence of Lolth, with Selvetarm protecting her, as part of a plan to increase her power and separate her divine realm, the Demonweb Pits, from the Abyss. For about one year, she stopped granting spells to her followers and became effectively inactive. During this time, Lolth's absence led a considerable number of her followers to seek alternatives in the other deities of the Dark Seldarine and this resulted in Eilistraee gaining followers and influence. She chose one of her new converts, Halisstra Melarn, to wield the artifact known as the Crescent Blade, which could be used to kill Lolth before her awakening (in 1373 DR). Halisstra went on a mission to the Demonweb Pits, leading two fellow priestesses of the Dark Maiden, Uluyara and Feliane. However, after being defeated at the hand of Quenthel Baenre, Halisstra ultimately decided to betray Eilistraee and convert back to the awakened Lolth. The Spider Queen punished her former heresy by turning her into the Lady Penitent, whose duty was to hunt drow who tried to turn to other faiths. The Crescent Blade was left broken, lying in the Demonweb Pits.
Even after Lolth emerged from her Silence, the deities of the Dark Seldarine continued battling for supremacy over the drow or, in Eilistraee's case, to free them from Lolth's renewed grasp.
Eilistraee and Lolth finally elected to play a divine game of sava, with the stakes being the very fate of the drow, actions reflected in the real world, and loss meaning death for one of the goddesses. After the end of the Silence of Lolth, working on the Spider Queen's side, Selvetarm ordered his Judicators to initiate a series of attacks against the shrines and temples of Eilistraee. At the same time, Vhaeraun was plotting against his sister and working to devise a method to slay her. As a result, his worshipers planned to cast a High Magic spell to allow Vhaeraun to enter his sister's realm and assassinate her. However, that kind of magic was very taxing, and would have required the sacrifice of the souls of the casters. Because of that, the followers of the Masked Lord started to kill various priestesses of Eilistraee and collect their souls in their masks (a technique which they called "soultheft"), in order to use them as a fuel for the ritual.
Eventually, Qilué Veladorn, leader of the church of Eilistraee, managed to learn about their plan and started working to disrupt it, alongside the drow mage Q'arlynd Melarn (who had turned to the faith of Eilistraee). Q'arlynd's task was to take the place of one of the Vhaerunites and try to disrupt their ritual. Meanwhile, Eilistraee sought to recover the lost Crescent Blade; to that purpose, Cavatina Xarann, a Darksong Knight serving the Dark Dancer, went on a mission into the Demonweb Pits, where the sword was seen last.
With the Dark Maiden and her followers struggling against multiple fronts, Selvetarm made another move, trying to strike at the heart of his aunt's forces, as his followers attacked the Promenade of the Dark Maiden. However, his attempts ultimately failed: on Nightal 20 of the Year of Risen Elfkin, 1375 DR, the defenders of the Promenade (led by Qilué) bested the assailants, while Cavatina killed the demigod himself in the Demonweb Pits (with the help of the Lady Penitent), using the Crescent Blade, which she had recovered almost intact.
On the same date, Q'arlynd failed to accomplish his mission and Vhaeraun managed to enter his sister Eilistraee's realm and attempted to assassinate her. Despite that, the Dark Maiden did not receive her brother unprepared, as she had been warned by her priestesses about his intentions. No mortal actually witnessed the battle that ensued, so what happened remained largely unknown. However, Eilistraee emerged from the battle alive, suggesting that Vhaeraun had failed and perished at the hand of his sister. Chaos and despair spread among the followers of the Masked Lord, but some thought that their god was still alive, and that the twins had a plan and agreed to merge and work together against their mother for a time. Others were convinced that Vhaeraun had succeeded and was disguised as Eilistraee. Either way, it was certain that after the event, Eilistraee was changed: she held both her brother's and her own portfolios, she gained the title of "Masked Lady", and caused her followers and Vhaeraun's to cooperate, albeit uneasily.[note 5]
In the Year of the Haunting, 1377 DR, Kiaransalee and her cultists initiated hostilities against the Masked Lady and her followers. Eilistraee answered to that through a High Magic ritual performed by Q'arlynd Melarn, which erased the demigoddess' name from the minds of every Torillian being, including Kiaransalee herself, leading to her disappearance.
Between 1377 DR and 1379 DR, Ghaunadaur joined the conflict between Lolth and Eilistraee, focusing his attention on the latter (who, through her chosen, had previously banished The Elder Eye's avatar from Toril). As a result, his cultists attacked the Promenade in an attempt to destroy the prison—guarded by the followers of Eilistraee—that prevented their god from creeping into Toril. The attempt failed, but the inhabitants of the temple suffered heavy losses.
In Flamerule of the Year of the Lost Keep, 1379 DR, the Masked Lady, while inhabiting the body of Qilué Veladorn, was killed by Halisstra Melarn using the Crescent Blade. Qilué planned to kill the balor Wendonai (whom Lolth had originally used to corrupt the drow into following her), whose essence was held inside the Crescent Blade, by taking it into her and destroying it with Mystra's silver fire. If successful, she would have freed the drow from the demon's influence, and, with that goal in mind, Qilué and her sister Laeral Silverhand traveled to the only place where such a task could be accomplished: the royal court of anicent Ilythiir, where Wendonai was summoned for the first time. Fearing that Qilué would lose her life in the ritual, Laeral froze her in time and went to seek help, but in the meantime the drow priestess was found by the Lady Penitent, who took hold of the Crescent Blade. Eilistraee inhabited the body of her chosen to try to free Halisstra's from Lolth's influence, but Wendonai tricked her into killing Qilué before that could happen, making her believe that the chosen and her goddess were actually Lolth.[note 6]
Meanwhile, another High Magic ritual performed by Q'arlynd Melarn transformed hundreds among those drow who were not tainted by Wendonai's blood or who followed Eilistraee back into their original dark elven form, and Corellon Larethian thus permitted the souls of Eilistraee's faithful and the newly transformed dark elves to enter Arvandor. The ritual was meant to affect all of the Dark Dancer's faithful, but of Eilistraee's few thousands of followers (which she had as a lesser power), only the above-mentioned number were changed by the spell.[note 7]
Eilistraee managed to return to life during the event known as the Second Sundering, in Flamerule, 1489 DR. The goddess took the title of Dark Maiden once again, as she and her brother were separated entities, but the two siblings also reached a reciprocal understanding, and the enmity between them was no more. Both deities personally let their return be known, manifesting through their avatars to their followers, who enthusiastically spread the word. Eilistraee was seen dancing and speaking to mortals in many places, especially along the Sword Coast. For example, the citizens of Waterdeep witnessed the Dark Dancer, as she danced in the moonlight, near the walls of the city, up the road to Amphail. This led many moondancers to the City of Splendors, with the goal of creating a shrine to their goddess within its walls.
After her return, despite Q'arlynd's ritual, the Dark Dancer was still a drow goddess and most of her followers drow.
Eilistraee's allies were the elven gods of the Seldarine, as well as Mystra, Selûne, Lurue, Haela Brightaxe, Callarduran Smoothhands, and the other good deities of the Underdark races. While the Dark Maiden and the Seldarine were allies, their relationship was a difficult one, because of the division between drow and elves and because of the perception that many elves had of their "dark kin". This was especially true for Shevarash, with whom Eilistraee barely managed to keep an uneasy truce. Among the elven powers, Eilistraee was only close to Erevan Ilesere. Eilistraee was surprisingly close to the human goddess of magic Mystra, through Qilue Veladorn, seventh of the Seven Sisters, who served both goddesses as Chosen of Mystra and as Chosen of Eilistraee.
Her enemies were the drow gods of the Dark Seldarine—namely Kiaransalee, Ghaunadaur, her nephew Selvetarm, her brother Vhaeraun (only until 1489 DR), and especially her own mother Lolth. She also counted as foes the other evil deities of the Underdark: Deep Duerra and Laduguer, Blibdoolpoolp, the Blood Queen, Diinkarazan and Diirinka, the Great Mother, Gzemnid, Ilsensine, Ilxendren, Laogzed, and Maanzecorian before his death. She also counted as an enemy Malar, a rival and evil god of the hunt in the surface world. However, Selvetarm wasn't always among the Dark Dancer's enemies—once, he admired his aunt and she inspired to turn toward goodness, before Lolth tricked him into a terrible fall. The Dark Maiden was infuriated by the evil and corruption of both Lolth and Ghaunadaur, and she was saddened by her brother's cruelty and selfishness.
Post 1489 DR, after the time spent as the Masked Lady, and after their return during the Second Sundering, Eilistraee and Vhaeraun deeply knew and understood each other. As a consequence, they were closer, and became more open to each other's ways and goals. They reached a truce and even friendship, although some of their followers still remained foes.
Eilistraee was served by the following creatures, whom she also sent as her agents: aasimar, aasimon (particularly lights), asuras, cath shee, einheriar, eladrins, mercury dragons, elven cats, feystags, frosts, hollyphants, incarnates of faith and hope, lythari, mist dragons, moon dogs, moon horses, pixies, radiance quasielementals, revered ones, silver dogs, silver dragons, sprites, sunflies, tieflings, and silver-striped tabby cats or normal-looking animals with solid silver-colored eyes. Silver moths could also be used as a message from the goddess.
Eilistraee's holy symbol was formerly a longsword, standing vertically with point upward, outlined against a full moon, which was surrounded by a nimbus of filaments representing her hair, all in silver. However, a more elaborate variant that entered common usage from 1372 DR depicted a nude female drow with long hair, bearing a silver sword and dancing before the full moon. This symbol was still in use in the 1480s DR, after Eilistraee's return with the Second Sundering.
- Main article: Church of Eilistraee
The worshipers of Eilistraee mostly consisted of those drow who hoped to escape the danger and darkness of the Underdark and Lolth's evil, taking back their place in the surface world. However, in line with her ideals, Eilistraee would welcome beings of all races: elves, humans, and especially half-elves were among the followers of the goddess. They shared the desire of seeing all races living in harmony, without pointless discrimination or wars, and worked towards that goal (and those among them who were drow also fought to build their own place on the Realms above).
The faithful of Eilistraee, however, were little known and poorly understood by inhabitants of both the Realms Above and the Underdark. Her worshippers were figures of myth and superstition and were targets of prejudice and wild mistruths. Some surface dwellers believed they were the disguised vanguard of the Spider Goddess's plan to take over the surface, while those drow who followed Lolth or other evil deities suspected them of being surface elf spies and saboteurs posing as drow as a prelude to invasion. Most non-elves could not comprehend the existence of a good drow deity, while surface elves were uncomfortable considering it, finding Eilistraee a threat to their doctrine that the dark elves were wholly to blame for the Crown Wars and other ancient tragedies.
Eilistraee was most commonly worshiped in Cormanthor among the drow there and in the Dalelands among the half-elves, and also in Waterdeep and Skullport. She also had followers (mostly humans, elves, and half-elves) living in Silverymoon and its surroundings. All her worshipers were typically of a good nature.
Under the Great Wheel cosmology, Eilistraee had her home in Svartalfheim, the drow domain of Nidavellir, the third layer of the plane of Ysgard. Svartalfheim was an underground realm of tunnels heated by hot springs, characterized by precious or semiprecious minerals and subterranean forests that only needed heat to live.
Under the World Tree cosmology, Eilistraee had her home in Arvandor, a plane of natural beauty, with the elven gods of the Seldarine. Within its borders, the night was perpetual, with the moon ever-shining in the deep blue sky. Faith was more potent here than in the rest of Arvandor, and all followers of the other drow gods of the Dark Seldarine suffered minor impediments. Her realm here was small, however, as she split her divine energy between it and another small domain within the Demonweb Pits, home of the other drow gods of the Dark Seldarine. This place was almost abandoned, however.
Eilistraee was first created for the original home campaign run by Ed Greenwood himself, appearing by manifestation, dream vision, and in person. At the behest of editor Newton Ewell, who wanted a deity for good drow in the game, Greenwood used the opportunity to make the Dark Dancer official and added Eilistraee to The Drow of the Underdark (1991) and thus to the official Forgotten Realms.
Greenwood designed Eilistraee as a nurturing mother goddess, even a fertility goddess. The popular dancing-naked-under-moonlight aspect of the goddess and her faith was inspired by British traditions of fairies, and was intended to show her as non-warlike and non-violent, rather than capricious. She could be a protectress of her people and a terrific sword dancer, but she was intended to be a bard, not a huntress herself, only encouraging these skills in her followers, in order to help them survive on the surface. Neither was she a moon goddess, only one found under the moon as drow stole onto the surface at night. Nevertheless, by association, the official Eilistraee acquired such skills and powers herself under later writers and development. Ed Greenwood denies a connection to Artemis/Diana of Greek and Roman mythology, though the later development appears to have made the official Eilistraee a little more similar.
- ↑ The Drow of the Underdark sourcebook lists Weather as a major sphere (see p. 23), whereas Demihuman Deities lists it as minor (see p. 17). Also, the Plant sphere is granted in the DotU, but was changed to the Wards sphere in DD.
- ↑ Post–Second Sundering, after her return (circa 1480s DR), Eilistraee is presumed to no longer have the title "Masked Lady", because she and Vhaeraun were separate again.
- ↑ As said here, in answer to this question, only the following lines of text in the last reference are to be considered canon: "After Flamerule 1489, Vhaeraun and Eilistraee are separate deities with the same powers and portfolios they had before 1375, but a new understanding, respect, and even friendship for each other. Some of their followers still war with each other, but the two deities do not. Thus far, Eilistraee’s teachings after the Sundering are the same as before the Sundering"
- ↑ About 68% of the time.
- ↑ The Grand History of the Realms explicitly says that Vhaeraun's assassination attempt failed and Eilistraee killed him, though his continued existence suggests otherwise. In one of his answers, Ed Greenwood suggests that Eilistraee actually spared her brother's life. The Dark Maiden defeated Vhaeraun with the indirect help of her ally Mystra, as the Weave frustrated the Masked Lord's magic while enhancing Eilistraee's. The goddess temporarily took her brother's portfolio, and trapped his sentience in the Weave, where it was enfolded in a dream by Mystra. The Lady of Mysteries did that to ensure that the two drow siblings would survive the cataclysm that she knew was coming—the Spellplague—in which she would be "killed" to renew the Weave, and magic would go wild.
- ↑ In the same answer mentioned in the previous note, Ed Greenwood hints that Eilistraee actually managed to survive Halisstra's attempt to kill her, albeit much weakened. When Qilué Veladorn was killed, since the Masked Lady was inhabiting her body, a great part of her power was dragged into the Weave with the Chosen's soul (the souls of Mystra's chosen often become "Voices in the Weave" after their death, as explained in the novel Spellstorm, and their memories and experiences are shared by Mystra). After that, for about a century, Eilistraee could only manfest herself only as a floating black mask surrounded by moonlight, capable of silently communicating with mortals, but not of answering prayers or granting spells (except by direct touch). After Mystra and the Weave were completely restored in 1487 DR, the goddess of magic could finally give Eilistraee her own lost power, and do the same with Vhaeraun, after having awakened him from his dream.
- ↑ Considering Eilistraee's ideals of acceptance; that—in over 10,000 years—Eilistraee never once acted or suggested the idea of such a change; and that her main goal was always to help the drow rediscover the kind of life that they had lost, and to establish the drow as rightful, non-evil citizens of the surface world, it could be that the goddess herself was opposed to the forceful transformation of her people. This would be further supported by her gentle and never direct approach with her followers, and could explain why the spell—which she assisted—only affected a minority of her people.[speculation]
- Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
- The Drow of the Underdark
- Demihuman Deities
- The Seven Sisters
- On Hallowed Ground
- Warriors of Heaven
- Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition
- Player's Guide to Faerûn
- Faiths and Pantheons
- Dragon #176: "If You Need Help – Ask the Drow"
- Dragon #172: "Seeing the Sights in Skullport"
- Dragon #227: "Report from Undermountain"
- Dragon #251:
- Stand-alone novels:
- Starlight & Shadows trilogy:
- War of the Spider Queen series:
- The Lady Penitent trilogy:
- Video games
- Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal: Eilistraee is mentioned by one of her followers in the drow city of Ust Natha, Solaufein.
- Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark: Eilistraee is mentioned and described by the converted drow assassin Nathyrra and by the Seer, a priestess of the Dark Maiden leading a group of rebels in the drow city of Lith My'athar. In the second chapter of the game, the player character is asked to aid the followers of Eilistraee of Lith My'athar against the Valsharess and her army.
- Neverwinter Nights 2: Eilistraee is one of the deities that can be chosen during character creation.
- Board Games
- Lords of Waterdeep – Scoundrels of Skullport expansion: One of the quest cards available to the players is called "Protect converts to Eilistraee", saying "The Dark Lady smiles on those who see the deeper beauty within."
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 237, 240–241. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 Ed Greenwood (July 1991). The Drow of the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), pp. 20–25. ISBN 1-56076-132-6.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Colin McComb (1996). On Hallowed Ground. (TSR, Inc), pp. 99, 173. ISBN 0-7869-0430-5.
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 4.35 4.36 4.37 4.38 4.39 4.40 4.41 4.42 4.43 4.44 4.45 4.46 4.47 4.48 4.49 4.50 4.51 4.52 4.53 4.54 Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 13–16. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Ed Greenwood (August 1999). Silverfall. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1365-7.
- ↑ Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 21. ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Lisa Smedman (September 2007). Storm of the Dead. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4701-0.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 158–159. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 23, 108. ISBN 978-0786965809.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Ed Greenwood (2016-06-07). Death Masks. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-6593-2.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-04-17). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-11-14). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11 14.12 14.13 14.14 14.15 14.16 14.17 14.18 14.19 14.20 14.21 14.22 14.23 14.24 14.25 Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 23–25. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
- ↑ Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 85, 86, 87, 89. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- ↑ Sean K. Reynolds (2002). Deity Do's and Don'ts. A Faiths and Pantheons Web Enhancement. Wizards of the Coast. p. 11. Retrieved on 2014-09-22.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-11-14). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ 18.00 18.01 18.02 18.03 18.04 18.05 18.06 18.07 18.08 18.09 18.10 18.11 18.12 Elaine Cunningham (1999). Evermeet: Island of Elves. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1354-1.
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2006-04-13). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2006). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 21.6 21.7 21.8 Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 22.2 Elaine Cunningham (May 1998). Tangled Webs. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-0698-7.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2006-11-05). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2006). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 135. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 97. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 28–29. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 37. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- ↑ 30.0 30.1 Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 34. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 264. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds (Nov. 2005). Champions of Valor. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 133–135. ISBN 0-7869-3697-5.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (1999). Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), p. 65. ISBN 0-7869-1509-9.
- ↑ Elaine Cunningham (July 2003). Daughter of the Drow (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786929290.
- ↑ Elaine Cunningham (April 2004). Windwalker (Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3184-1.
- ↑ Elaine Cunningham (April 2004). Windwalker (Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 338. ISBN 0-7869-3184-1.
- ↑ Elaine Cunningham (May 1998). Tangled Webs. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 252–253. ISBN 0-7869-0698-7.
- ↑ Elaine Cunningham (April 2004). Windwalker (Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 190–191. ISBN 0-7869-3184-1.
- ↑ Elaine Cunningham (April 2004). Windwalker (Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 302, 303. ISBN 0-7869-3184-1.
- ↑ Elaine Cunningham (April 2004). Windwalker (Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 309, 310. ISBN 0-7869-3184-1.
- ↑ Elaine Cunningham (May 1998). Tangled Webs. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 345–346. ISBN 0-7869-0698-7.
- ↑ Elaine Cunningham (April 2004). Windwalker (Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 172–173. ISBN 0-7869-3184-1.
- ↑ Elaine Cunningham (2017-07-16). Questions for Elaine Cunningham [II}. Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ Lisa Smedman (February 2005). Extinction. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3596-0.
- ↑ Philip Athans (August 2005). Annihilation. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3752-1.
- ↑ Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 5–6. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-04-16). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ 49.0 49.1 Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-11-11). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (June 2015). Spellstorm. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786965717.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), Running the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 64. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
- ↑ Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 22, 25. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- ↑ 53.0 53.1 Jeff Grubb, David Noonan, and Bruce R. Cordell (September 2001). Manual of the Planes. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1850-8.
- ↑ Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 143. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- ↑ Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (2014-08-09). The Ed Verse. Retrieved on 2015-08-09.
|Deities of the Era of Upheaval|
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|Greater Deities of Faerûn|
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|Intermediate Deities of Faerûn|
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|Deities of the Age of Humanity|
|Ao the Overgod|
|Major Deities of Faerûn|
|Angharradh | Bane | Bhaal | Chauntea | Corellon Larethian | Garl Glittergold | Gruumsh | Horus-Re | Lathander | Moradin | Myrkul | Mystra | Oghma | Shar | Silvanus | Sune | Talos | Tempus | Tyr | Yondalla|
|Other Deities of Faerûn|
|Auppenser | Abbathor | Arvoreen | Auril | Baervan Wildwanderer | Berronar Truesilver | Beshaba | Callarduran Smoothhands | Clangeddin Silverbeard | Cyrrollalee | Deep Duerra | Deep Sashelas | Dumathoin | Erevan Ilesere | Flandal Steelskin | Gond | Hanali Celanil | Helm | Ilmater | Isis | Labelas Enoreth | Laduguer | Lolth | Mask | Mielikki | Nephthys | Osiris | Rillifane Rallathil | Sehanine Moonbow | Segojan Earthcaller | Selûne | Set | Sharindlar | Sheela Peryroyl | Solonor Thelandira | Thoth | Tymora | Umberlee | Urdlen | Vergadain|