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Promenade of the Dark Maiden

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The Promenade of the Dark Maiden was the most sacred temple to Eilistraee. It lay beneath Waterdeep, northeast of Skullport in Undermountain.[6]

GeographyEdit

Located near Skullport, on the third level of Undermountain deep beneath Waterdeep, the Promenade was the main headquarters for the faithful of Eilistraee with many portals to other parts of the world but also access to tunnels into the Underdark for redemption missions.[7]

The temple was composed by four major caverns. One cavern contained many buildings which were used as living quarters for the faithful. Another cavern, named the Cavern of Song, served as an open amphitheater used for the songs and celebration dedicated to Eilistraee. The third cavern consisted of the living quarters of the priestesses and the fourth cavern was mostly occupied by the temple guards' storehouses, armories, and living quarters. A large side cavern connected the Cavern of Song with Eilistraee's Mound, where a great statue of the Dark Maiden stood, sculpted out of a mound of rock (even if the statue was actually modeled on Qilué's appearance). Next to the main temple was the Hall of Healing (once a temple of Moander that had been destroyed by Tyr-worshipers) which was used as a place to shelter and tend the temple's wounded and all those who were rescued by the Dark Ladies (including adventures lost in the Undermountain). Near the Hall of Healing (north of it) was a small cavern, the destination of a one-way teleport from the sixth level of the Undermountain, often delivering wounded adventurers to the temple. Priestesses of the Promenade healed and welcomed any who came to the Hall, and were known to offer their friendship to (non ill-intentioned) individuals of the races who were more frequently than not met with prejudice and hostility.

HistoryEdit

When Qilué was but a child, Eilistraee (in the form of a 9-foot-tall, stunningly beautiful drow maiden) appeared to her, asking her to lead her friends to aid nearby drow in need, and gifting all the drow children holy singing swords (precious blades that sang when unsheathed, capable of protecting the wielder against fear, despair and magical-induced fascination/domination effects) to assist and protect them in their efforts. Later, a greater mission was awaiting them, as the Dark Maiden manifested again, asking to destroy the Pit of Ghaunadaur, a mile-deep shaft conncetd to the third level of Halaster's Undermountain, from where the god of abominations could have assaulted the surface world. Surrounded by a glowing aura, symbol of Eilistraee’'s favor, Qilué led her friends from their drow settlement of Buiyrandyn in this quest. With the protection of the Dark Maiden, they fought their way to the Pit, where Qilué faced an avatar of Ghaunadaur. Eilistraee’ and Mystra used the Chosen's body as a conduit for their power, and silvery fire burned away at the evil god, until it fled for its life, much reduced in strength. The remaining servants of the god fled with their master, and the divine fire melted and sealed the tunnels and entrances used for the escape. Then Qilué collapsed, and her playmates heard the voice of Eilistraee warning that Ghaunadaur had only been driven away, but not permanently defeated, and that he would one day try to retrun. The voice said:

You must make a stand here close to the surface world, and you must be ever vigilant against the return of Ghaunadar. For a mighty city of humans shall rise above this place, and if you are to make peace with humankind and your elven kin of the surface world, this place is best suited for you.
  — Eilistraee, to Qilué Veladorn and her friends[8]


The Pit itself was filled with rubble and the caverns around its opening collapsed (it was located in the area north of Skull-port and west of Eilistraee's Promenade. The only remaining access to it was a descending staircase with Eilistraee's Mound.at its top). In the subsequent years, obeying the order of the Dark Dancer, Qilue and the rest of the Chosen of Eilistrae (the title that the drow gave themselves) started to regularly patrol the region, checking for signs of Ghaunadan activity (which often led other inhabitants of the area to mockingly refer those patrols as promenades, even though the Chosen proudly used the term as a name for the temple that they would have later built).[8]

In the years following their victory, the Dark Ladies (clergy of Eilistraee) continued fighting an ever increasing number of battles (especially with the minions of Ghaunadaur). After years of conflict, fearing further losses among their people, the Chosen decided to build a temple complex that could be used as a fortification against the attacks and where they could have celebrated their goddess and receive her guidance.

In the 1355 DR, the Year of the Harp, the construction started in an isolated area of the Sargauth Enclave, which was once cut from Skullport when the outpost of Netheril fell centuries ago. After some contrasts with the inhabitants of Skullport, the Chosen of Eilistraee and the various factions of the Port of Shadow managed to agree to an uneasy truce.

Although the construction continued, the temple was largely completed and habitable by the end of the 1357 DR. Afterwards, the Chosen of Eilistraee kept patrolling the surrounding tunnels of Halaster's Halls, but with the added security of a safe refuge.[9][10]

In 1361 DR, the followers of Eilistraee assaulted the Dragon's Hoard merchant company'’s headquarters, because of their involvement in the slave trade of drow children. The Dark Ladies raided a slave ship in Skullport, resulting in the death of the deep dragon Pharx and the destruction of the consortium.[11] That same year, Qilue attempted to help Liriel Baenre travel to Rashemen and in the process, Liriel (who was an unwilling priestess of Lolth at the time) inadvertently drew the Spider Queen's attention Promenade, destroying the wards that Qilué and the other priestesses had been preparing for years.[12]

In 1368 DR, the Promenade came under attack by Ghaunadaur cultists who led a full-scale assault on the temple that lasted for several months, before the assailants were driven off.[13]

In the 1370s DR, the Promenade was attacked by a new cult of Ghaunadaur. Nightshadows, former followers of Vhaeraun and later followers of the "Masked Lady" (following the death of Vhaeraun at Eilistraee's hand, and her taking on his portfolio), were sent to infiltrate various drow houses who worshiped Ghaunadaur, but this allowed the cultists to locate some portals leading to the temple. Quickly taking advantage of this, the followers of the Elder Eye proceeded to attack, hoping to release the trapped avatar of their god. However, the glyph of insanity that Qilué had placed on the prison made many cultists go insane. Despite this, the assailants were supported by an army of slimes, and decimated a large portion of the population of the Promenade. In the fierce battle, almost all the Protectors of the Song and Darksong Knights were killed, along with many of the priestesses, followers, and lay worshipers who lived there or were visiting.[7]

The battle also caused the seals on Ghaunadaur's prison to break and his avatar to escape. It was soon after tricked into attaching itself to a fleeing Nightshadow, who sacrificed himself for the Masked Lady by going through a portal that led to "a plane of endless mazes", dying in the process but trapping the still-attached avatar there.[7]

After the event known as the Sundering (event), in the 1480s DR, Eilistraee managed to return to life, and manifested to her followers through her avatar, leading to a resurgence of her worshippers' activities.[14][15] After Eilistraee's return and her appearance near Waterdeep, many of her followers traveled to the city. While some were trying to found a new temple within Waterdeep itself,[16] the Promenade was also stealthily reclaimed.[17]


Inhabitants and OrganizationEdit

Many races lived among the community of faithful. They consisted of the Chosen of Eilistraee (both full priestesses, called Dark Ladies, and Maids, who were acolytes who had not yet been accepted into the faith or attained full priesthood), escaped slaves, rescued drow (or individuals in general), or adventurers and workers (like the halfling Meryl Vyrmoth, the cook of the temple).

They were led by High Priestess Qilué Veladorn, youngest of the Seven Sisters and Chosen of Mystra. She led the priestesses while also giving out missions when something needed her attention. Second to her was The Promenade's Battlemistress, Rylla. She led both the fierce warrior/priestesses of the Darksong Knights (who had training in demon-hunting), and the Protectors of the Song. The latter were the temple guards, often armed with one of the twenty magical singing swords, whose first duty was to guard the Promenade and patrol the Pit of Ghaunadaur to prevent the return of the slime god. Their commander was Elkantar Iluim, consort of Qilué, while Iljrene Ahruyn was their sub-commander, the Hand of the Protectors. Their ranks included dark elves, humans, dwarves, and halflings. In 1361 DR, before the assault on the Dragons Hoard, they numbered 24 drow (9 females), 9 dwarves, 27 humans(12 females), and 4 halflings.[18][19]

Liriel Baenre, Fyodor, and the deep dragon Zz'Pzora fought with the Protectors of the Song against the Dragon's Hoard in 1361 DR.[20]

One of the highest honors bestowed on a warrior of the Promenade was to be granted use of one of the twenty sacred singing swords. These swords were magically powerful weapons, with magical durability and sharp edges which, along with the humming, providing a defense against psychic attacks or spells. The "singing" of the sword would cut through and clear the mind of the attacker. They would also often hum when danger was near. With their semi-sentience they could be mentally ordered to be quiet.[7]

Notable inhabitantsEdit

Daily DoingsEdit

Daily activities in the temple mostly consisted of food-growing, temple building/repairing chores, patrolling the caverns of the temple and its surroundings (looking for potential threats and injured or lost people), practicing diplomacy and aiding and healing any individual in need that they met (mostly injured adventurers of all races— who ventured in the Undermountain). Those grateful folks often became Qilué's agents to spread her influence in the Underdark and on the surface both. Like other Eilistraeens, the Chosen of Eilistraee worked to further the Lady's aims toward the peaceful coexistence of drow with other races of the Realms, but they were unusual in that they kept their temple beneath the surface, allowing themselves only brief missions and pilgrimages "to the moon"” (the moonlit surface lands). They altered the spot where the temple stood to fit their needs (also unusual for clergy of Eilistraee, who tended to live in harmony with their surroundings, leaving few traces of their passage), because their duty was also to follow Eilistraee's instruction about preventing the return of Ghaunadaur, what they called the "great mission".[23][24]. Through the portals leading from and to the Promenade, the Chosen also led missions in other drow settlements, looking for those who needed their help or might have wanted to (or could be brought to) join Eilistraee's faith, or worked to encourage trade and drow travel between the surface and the deep realms.[7]

The work of the followers of Eilistraee took precedence over rituals, but their daily life generally observed a routine. Their cycle (day) began with an informal gathering of all the people residing the temple, for bathing and chatter (save for those who were on guarding duty). Qilué or any of the Dark Ladies present would then conjure Eilistraee's moonfire and begin to sing the Charge, a collective prayer that saw all priestesses involved. The Charge was often heard in Skullport as "a rising and falling murmur echoing eerily from afar". With the Charge, all the inhabitants of the temple were invited to join the Council, a free-speaking meeting led by the priestess who started the prayer. All the participants were expected to speak with honesty and openness, and their word had equal standing. The Council would then conclude, the faithful would ask Eilistraee for her guidance, and the daily work activities would begin.

About four hours later (barring particular situation), another gathering would be held in the Cavern of Song: the Grand Chorus, one of the greatest rituals of worship to Eilistraee, "an ever-changing song of celebration led by a senior priestess who guided the song with an overriding theme or melody". The Chorus could bring into being beams of moonlight, whose intensity grew with the emotion of the singers. If such radiance met with real moonlight, Eilistraee's power made it so that all beings and items that the priestesses were touching or carrying could, at will, be transported along a path of moonlight to any place where the moon was shining. In that way, they could move from the location of the Chorus to any place on the surface lit by the moon, and it was through this spell that the priestesses traveled to the surface for their missions.

After the chorus, the temple dwellers had a brief pause, a moment in which priestesses would practice or teach dance and song, until the “Call to Eilistraee was heard: a haunting melody, sung by one of the senior Dark Ladies, drawing all the faithful back to the Cavern of Song. A second Charge and another Council would be held, and Chosen would then disperse into small groups (known as “tables”) to eat their evening meal and informally enjoy each other's company. The meal was followed by a personal work or leisure period, lasting until the end of the cycle.

During this personal time, the Chosen also made their most important, intimate prayer: the solitary Flamesong. Such a prayer was performed when the priestess felt moved to do so. They danced around a flame or a candle, singing freely for their goddess and dancing following the rhythm of the music as it came, until the flame was existinguished. Interrupting a Flamesong was considered the height of rudeness, even if strangers would often be forgiven, due to not being aware of that. Priestesses usually tried to find an alcove or passage where they could be alone to make a Flamesong. While they did, "the Promenade was filled with the eerily beautiful echoes of half a dozen or more of these solos at once, drifting down the passages".[25]

RelationsEdit

The Chosen of Eilistraee visited Skullport infrequently. But they had some influence there. They helped many slaves and some adventures to escape the trouble with some of the powerful groups of the port, which gained them the nickname of "slave shelterers". That brought them the animosity of Gildar Blackthrone and the slave merchant Ahmaergo. They had also trouble with the drow hunters of Malakuth Tabuirr and the jailers of Zstulkk Ssarmn. But there are also allies. The half-drow Ithlyn serves as go-between and surface contact. The Chosen visit from time to time the Fatted Bookworm for supplies and Kaitlynn of the Sisters Three Waxworks for votive candles.[9]

Beside the various slavers, the Chosen also had dangerous enemies and their nemesis in the worshippers of Ghaunadaur. The worshippers of Moander were also hostile (probably due to their god's temple being used as a healing hall by the Dark Ladies).

Since it was often under attack, the Promenade hired adventurers from Skullport to defend the temple and for a variety of missions, usually paying in gems. Those who befriended the Dark Ladies of the temple were not well regarded in Skullport, where people hated the “so called slave shelterers”. However, with the promised rewards of the priestesses, many adventurers accepted the tasks anyway. Despite the enmity of the drow followers of Lolth and Vhaeraun, many drow traders who come to Skullport didn't act against their kin of the Promenade, because the priestesses promoted their trade by sponsoring merchants, providing them with secure warehouse space and with drow guides.[25]

AppearancesEdit

NovelsEdit

The Lady Penitent trilogy
  1. Sacrifice of the Widow
  2. Storm of the Dead
  3. Ascendancy of the Last
Starlight & Shadows trilogy

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Eric L. Boyd, Ed Greenwood, Christopher Lindsay, Sean K. Reynolds (June 2007). Expedition to Undermountain. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7869-4157-5.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Eric L. Boyd, Ed Greenwood, Christopher Lindsay, Sean K. Reynolds (June 2007). Expedition to Undermountain. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 36. ISBN 978-0-7869-4157-5.
  3. Joseph C. Wolf (1999). Skullport. (TSR, Inc), p. 17. ISBN 0-7869-1348-7.
  4. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 292. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  5. Ed Greenwood (1995). The Seven Sisters. (TSR, Inc), p. 61. ISBN 0-7869-0118-7.
  6. Joseph C. Wolf (1999). Skullport. (TSR, Inc), p. 16. ISBN 0-7869-1348-7.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Lady Penitent trilogy
  8. 8.0 8.1 Ed Greenwood (1995). The Seven Sisters. (TSR, Inc), p. 58. ISBN 0-7869-0118-7.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Joseph C. Wolf (1999). Skullport. (TSR, Inc), p. 17. ISBN 0-7869-1348-7.
  10. Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
  11. Elaine Cunningham (July 2003). Daughter of the Drow (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786929290.
  12. Elaine Cunningham (April 2003). Windwalker (Hardcover). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 102. ISBN 0-7869-2968-5.
  13. Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
  14. Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 23, 108. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  15. Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-04-17). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
  16. Ed Greenwood (June 7, 2016). Death Masks. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-6593-2
  17. Ed Greenwood (2016-11-09). Ed Greenwood on Twitter. Retrieved on 2016-11-09.
  18. Elaine Cunningham (July 2003). Daughter of the Drow (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 319. ISBN 978-0786929290.
  19. Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
  20. Elaine Cunningham (July 2003). Daughter of the Drow (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786929290.
  21. Elaine Cunningham (July 2003). Daughter of the Drow (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 320. ISBN 978-0786929290.
  22. Elaine Cunningham (July 2003). Daughter of the Drow (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 321. ISBN 978-0786929290.
  23. Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
  24. Dragon Magazine, issue 176.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Ed Greenwood (1995). The Seven Sisters. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-0118-7.

Further readingEdit

2. Edition:

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