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Halisstra Melarn was a drow priestess of House Melarn in Ched Nasad.[10] At her "death," she was turned into a demonic servant of Lolth known as the Lady Penitent.[11]

DescriptionEdit

DrowEdit

Halisstra was tall for a drow, nearly 5'6". She was slender. She wore black steel armor[12] and wielded a mace and shield.[13] She had a snubbed nose.[14]

Halisstra was scholarly. She had originally intended to study lore to find forgotten spells or secrets to aid her against her enemies, but she found that she enjoyed learning for its own sake.[8] When she was a priestess of Lolth, she sought the favor of Lolth for her house and for her city.[15]

DemonEdit

Lolth's magic transformed Halisstra into a twisted mockery of her former svelte drow form. Her body changed to reflect hate. She appeared to be a hybrid of demon and drow known as the Lady Penitent. She stood twice as tall as a typical drow. She was still slightly feminine, with eight spider legs protruding from her chest. Her hair was a matted tangle that looked like old spider silk. Under each of her eyes was a hairy bulge, from which a fang-tipped jaw curved, the points meeting above the mouth.[16]

With all of these physical changes, the most affluent was not visible. Lolth also injected Halisstra with a venom that caused constant agony, without killing her. The only reprieve she received was when she followed the will of Lolth.[1]

HistoryEdit

War of the Spider QueenEdit

In 1372 DR, Halisstra was the First Daughter of House Melarn, one of the ruling houses of Ched Nasad. However, a plot by House Zauvirr enacted with the help of the duergar mercenary band Clan Xornbane led to the destruction of her house and, indeed, the destruction of the city of Ched Nasad. Halisstra was able to escape through a portal with a group of drow from Menzoberranzan led by Quenthel Baenre who were investigating the Silence of Lolth.[2]

Soon after, Halisstra lost faith in Lolth. There were many factors involved in this, including doubts caused by the Silence of Lolth the destruction of her city, and her capture by the forces of Lord Dessaer of Elventree. During her captivity, she was introduced to the Eilistraeean priestess (formerly a priestess of Lolth) Seyll Auzkovyn. Seyll displayed confidence and assurance in her faith, as well as (misplaced) trust in Halisstra herself. On an excursion to witness religious rites, Halisstra slew Seyll and her companion, Xarra, and charmed their other companion, Feliane in order to escape. However, Halisstra continued to think of Seyll's confidence in her goddess even up until death, especially after witnessing the inaction of Lolth against Vhaeraun in the Demonweb Pits. Seyll's influence on her was a great part of her later conversion to the worship of Eilistraee.[3]

Halisstra briefly continued on with Quenthel's expedition, but she decided to defect and leave for the surface. Ryld, who had become her lover, joined her. They were attacked by a troll and saved by Eilistraeeans, but in order to save Ryld, she had to claim to want to convert to the worship of Eilistraee. As she said it, however, she realized it was true and passed a test of faith (killing a phase spider) in order to join the ranks of the dancing priestesses. As a new priestess of Eilistraee, one of Halisstra's first assignments was to recover the Crescent Blade, which had in fact been borne by one of her ancestors (Mathira Melarn) and lost in the Cold Field. She retrieved the blade from the maw of a purple worm with the help of Ryld and the healing aid of Uluyara and Feliane, priestesses of Eilistraee.[17]

Uluyara assigned Halisstra to find Quenthel Baenre once more in order to find and slay Lolth. Uluyara and Feliane accompanied her to the Astral Plane, where they met the departed souls of Seyll, who protected Halisstra from the return of Lolth, and Ryld, who proclaimed his love for her but nevertheless chose an afterlife with Lolth. They continued on to the Demonweb Pits, with the cry of Yor'thae (Chosen of Lolth) echoing in Halisstra's head. She once again had a crisis of faith after she watched her fellow priestesses get slain when they were betrayed by Danifae Yauntyrr; Halisstra had expected Danifae to aid her and was angry at Eilistraee for not warning her. During this battle, the Crescent Blade was broken.[18]

Halisstra, as one of the three candidates for Yor'thae, accompanied Quenthel Baenre and Danifae Yauntyrr into the tabernacle of Lolth to sit in the very presence of the Spider Queen. When told that only one member of the trio would leave the tabernacle alive, Halisstra assumed she was going to be obliterated. However, Danifae became the Yor'thae and face of Lolth and retaliated for all the suffering she had endured as Halisstra's battle captive. As punishment for her apostasy, Halisstra was rewarded with eternal service as Lolth's Lady Penitent, a tormented demon charged with killing heretics in the name of Lolth.[19]

Extinction2

Halisstra, as Lolth's priestess.

Lady Penitent TrilogyEdit

Halisstra was sent back to Faerûn and began to hunt priests of Vhaeraun.[20] When she was found by priestesses of Eilistraee, she convinced them that the Crescent Blade still existed in the Demonweb Pits.[21] The Darksong Knight Cavatina Xarann followed her into the Abyss, and found the blade still in the consecrated but collapsing temple of Eilistraee.[22] Cavatina Xarann used the blade and the assistance of the Lady Penitent to kill the demigod Selvetarm.[23]

Years later Lolth gave her to the balor Wendonai. He sent her back to Faerûn, to search for Cavatina Xarann and take her to the demon.[24] Halisstra succeeded, and the balor discarded the Lady Penitent once she delivered the priestess.[25] Looking for a way to kill herself and escape Lolth, she entered the Negative Material plane. [26] Unfortunately, this was also not enough to kill her. Eventually, Halisstra came to the Acropolis of Kiaransalee in the Underdark, where her actions were unknown. [27] Some time after that she was summoned to an ancient temple in the ruins of Ilythiir. She was freed by T'lar Mizz'rynturl and the Lady Penitent believed herself to be a new god. [28] T'lar Mizz'rynturl started the Cult of the Lady Penitent and planned to gather influence in the drow city Sshamath. [29]

Meanwhile, Cavatina Xarann resisted the demon Wendonai and killed his body in the Abyss. But he wasn't dead yet, as his soul was still in the Crescent Blade. [30]When Cavatina learned of this and where the blade was[31], she tried to talk with Qilué but the priestess trapped her because she had her own plans. [32]She wanted to lure the demon into her body and drive him out with silver fire. With the final death of Wendonai she hoped to free all drow of the mark of Wendonai.[33]

Qilué teleported to the only place where she thought the demon could be bound: the royal court of ancient Ilythiir where coronal Geirildin Sethomiir summoned Wendonai for the first time. Her sister Laeral Silverhand helped her but she did not want to kill Qilué so she magically stopped time for the corrupted Qilué and went to search for someone who knew about how to kill demons.[34] When she was away the Lady Penitent found the frozen priestess and took her to an ancient temple nearby. [35]

There she got hold of the Crescent Blade and tried to kill Qilué with it but Eilistraee took possession of Qilué's body and became mortal. [36] Eilistraee wanted to talk sense into the Lady Penitent and free her from the clutches of Lolth. But Wendonai acted swiftly and tricked her into believing that it was Lolth disguised as Eilistraee. Furiously the Lady Penitent killed the goddess, and therefore she had done what Lolth and Wendonai had planned all along for her[37] (even though Lolth's success would later be undone, with the Dark Maiden's return during the Sundering).[38][39][40] Leliana Vrinn, another priestess of Eilistraee, took revenge and finally ended the sad existence of Halisstra.[41]

AbilitiesEdit

DrowEdit

Halisstra followed the little-known tradition of House Melarn to learn the art of bae'qeshel to become "dark minstrels." This was essentially a version of the bardic arts.[42] She was able to charm people with her songs.[43] Because of her bae'qeshel training, Halisstra was able to use arcane magical devices.[44]

She could keep a globe of darkness going for three hours.[45]

DemonEdit

Halisstra's Lady Penitent form was much more powerful than her former one, and she could regenerate wounds nearly instantaneously. Her strength increased exponentially, and she seemed to enjoy all of the resistances of the demon races.[46]

She still had control of her bae'qeshel abilities, even though the litanies were now mangled owing to her disfigured mouth.[47] Whether or not her clerical magic remained was unknown, though as Lolth's champion, some sort of power was to be assumed.

PossessionsEdit

As a drow, Halisstra had wands of invisibility and healing.[48] Halisstra had a lyre made of dragon bone and mithral string with a leather case, which she used it to strengthen her bae'qeshel songs.[43] She also had a ring of detect poison.[49]

When Halisstra was abducted by Eilistraeeans shortly after the fall of Ched Nasad, she lost many of her possessions, including a thundering mace she had received from her mother some 100 years before. However, she stripped the dead Seyll Auzkovyn of her equipment, including her mail and an enchanted sword.[50] The mail had the symbol of Eilistraee on its breast.[51] The sword had holes in the hilt which could be played like a flute.[52]

Halisstra obtained the Crescent Blade in the Cold Field with the help of Ryld Argith and wielded it until it was broken in her fight with Danifae Yauntyrr in the Demonweb Pits.[53][54]

Halisstra abandoned her house medallion in the Cold Field after Mathira blackened it.[55] In the Demonweb Pits, Halisstra picked up a dead spider and used it as a holy symbol of Lolth.[56]

RelationshipsEdit

Danifae YauntyrrEdit

Danifae Yauntyrr was a drow battle-captive from Eryndlyn who served as Halisstra's servant in Ched Nasad and for a time afterward. She was also, at least from Halisstra's perspective, a valued companion.[57] They had often gone slumming together in Ched Nasad.[58] However, Danifae hated Halisstra but needed her because of the Binding that connected them: if Halisstra died, so did Danifae.[59] Halisstra was unaware of Danifae's feelings and believed they shared a kinship right up until Danifae backstabbed her and killed her friends in the Demonweb Pits. That betrayal turned her away from Eilistraee -- she was angry the goddess had not warned her -- propelled her back to the worship of Lolth.[60][61]

Ryld ArgithEdit

Halisstra and Ryld Argith became lovers during their travels. Their relationship developed into friendship and even love and trust, in which they would sacrifice themselves for the other.[62] Halisstra wanted to make a life with him on the surface among the Eilistraeeans.[63] She greatly missed Ryld after his death.[64]

AppearancesEdit

War of the Spider Queen:

Lady Penitent trilogy:

  1. Sacrifice of the Widow
  2. Storm of the Dead
  3. Ascendancy of the Last

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 360–361. ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Thomas M. Reid (December 2003). Insurrection. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3033-0.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0786932023.
  4. Philip Athans (August 2005). Annihilation. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3752-1.
  5. Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 24. ISBN 0786932023.
  6. Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 237. ISBN 0786932023.
  7. Philip Athans (August 2005). Annihilation. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3752-1.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 21–23. ISBN 0786932023.
  9. Richard Baker (October 2003). “Rogues Gallery: The Heroes of the War of the Spider Queen, Part 2”. Dragon #312 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 89.
  10. Thomas M. Reid (December 2003). Insurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 153. ISBN 0-7869-3033-0.
  11. Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 3–361. ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
  12. Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 2. ISBN 0786932023.
  13. Thomas M. Reid (December 2003). Insurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 204. ISBN 0-7869-3033-0.
  14. Lisa Smedman (February 2005). Extinction. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 0-7869-3596-0.
  15. Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 156. ISBN 0786932023.
  16. Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 153. ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  17. Lisa Smedman (February 2005). Extinction. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3596-0.
  18. Philip Athans (August 2005). Annihilation. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3752-1.
  19. Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
  20. Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 82–84. ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  21. Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 161. ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  22. Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 232–242. ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  23. Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 283–286. ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  24. Lisa Smedman (September 2007). Storm of the Dead. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 84–86. ISBN 978-0-7869-4701-0.
  25. Lisa Smedman (September 2007). Storm of the Dead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 203. ISBN 978-0-7869-4701-0.
  26. Lisa Smedman (September 2007). Storm of the Dead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 226. ISBN 978-0-7869-4701-0.
  27. Lisa Smedman (September 2007). Storm of the Dead. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 270–273. ISBN 978-0-7869-4701-0.
  28. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 15–18. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  29. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 72. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  30. Lisa Smedman (September 2007). Storm of the Dead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 227. ISBN 978-0-7869-4701-0.
  31. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 54. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  32. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 110–116. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  33. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 145. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  34. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 210–217. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  35. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 238. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  36. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 278. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  37. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 289–293. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  38. Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 23, 108. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  39. Ed Greenwood (June 7, 2016). Death Masks. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-6593-2
  40. Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-04-17). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
  41. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 299. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  42. Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 34, 45. ISBN 0786932023.
  43. 43.0 43.1 Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 103. ISBN 0786932023.
  44. Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 33. ISBN 0786932023.
  45. Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 196. ISBN 0786932023.
  46. Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 83–84. ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  47. Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 229. ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  48. Thomas M. Reid (December 2003). Insurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 294. ISBN 0-7869-3033-0.
  49. Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 114. ISBN 0786932023.
  50. Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 321. ISBN 0786932023.
  51. Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 141. ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
  52. Lisa Smedman (February 2005). Extinction. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 10–11. ISBN 0-7869-3596-0.
  53. Lisa Smedman (February 2005). Extinction. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 334–335. ISBN 0-7869-3596-0.
  54. Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 344. ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
  55. Lisa Smedman (February 2005). Extinction. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 310. ISBN 0-7869-3596-0.
  56. Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 330. ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
  57. Thomas M. Reid (December 2003). Insurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 267. ISBN 0-7869-3033-0.
  58. Thomas M. Reid (December 2003). Insurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 174. ISBN 0-7869-3033-0.
  59. Thomas M. Reid (December 2003). Insurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 157–158. ISBN 0-7869-3033-0.
  60. Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 197. ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
  61. Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 253–254. ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
  62. Lisa Smedman (February 2005). Extinction. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 58. ISBN 0-7869-3596-0.
  63. Lisa Smedman (February 2005). Extinction. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 14. ISBN 0-7869-3596-0.
  64. Philip Athans (August 2005). Annihilation. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3752-1.

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