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The Dark Dancer

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The Dark Dancer was a shrine dedicated to the drow goddess Eilistraee, called the Dark Dancer, located in the city of Ravens Bluff in the Vast. It had a troubled and controversial history.[1]


The Dark Dancer was a converted warehouse that lay among a collection of warehouses just within the city wall of Ravens Bluff, within the Bitterstone neighborhood of the Harbor District. It stood at the corner of Morlgar's Ride and Westwall Way South.[1]

When banned from worship at their warehouse, the faithful of the Dark Dancer relocated to a field in the Seaglimpse neighborhood, also in the Harbor District. It was a popular spot for fairs and lovers' trysts, and offered a good view of the moon over the water.[2]


The Dark Dancer was a freshly rebuilt warehouse refurbished as a shrine to Eilistraee.[1]


Given security concerns at the warehouse after the first riot, there were sturdy bars and shutters over the windows, a locked door constructed of bars, and another of stout, fireproofed oak. Many believed the renovations following the riot included defensive magic to protect against fire, and according to rumor the drow were digging tunnels underground to link up with the cellars of other buildings to allow safe, unseen access.[1]


The shrine was founded by Rebekkah Darklyte, who became its acting high priestess. Her aim was to promote peace between drow and other races.[1]

They were aided by the Yarvandar noble family, who were sympathetic to the cause. Beneath one of their houses, Yartowers, there were tunnels leading to regions of the Underdark controlled by followers of Eilistraee. The family provided them with covered wagons (rented by Lord Emmelt Yarvandar) to use to carry people and materials to Yarnar Close, the family's walled mansion in Raven's Bluff. Some of these wagons were guarded by adventurers; one tried to peek inside and was struck blind for his temerity. The mansion gave the drow the chance to observe human society, from the rooftops, cellars, and sewers. The family estate of Vandarmere outside the city even gave the drow space to dance to Eilistraee in safety under the stars. In return, the drow provided the Yarvandars with various rare goods, like tasty edible mushrooms and luminescent Underdark fungi for use in alchemy, as well as salt-sweet black drow wine to sell, of which they divided the profits. The Yarvandars wisely moved these controversial goods on and sold them in Sembia, Telflamm, and Turmish, so they could not be traced back to Ravens Bluff or themselves.[3]

Thus aided, Rebekkah Darklyte and her followers rebuilt a warehouse in the Harbor District and renovated it as the shrine of The Dark Dancer. However, she did not obtain a charter from the Clerical Circle,[1] a civic body comprising representatives of the existing temples, which regulated the construction of new temples and the licensing of sanctuaries. This was not—technically—illegal, however, as adapting an existing structure was not explicitly forbidden in city statutes, and other new faiths had bypassed the laws in the same way. But it did annoy the Circle, who were working to refine the laws and contested the legality of new temples.[4] Work on the shrine and warehouse was completed in the Year of the Tankard, 1370 DR, and it was soon opened and made public.[1]

Shortly after, the shrine was attacked by an angry, drow-hating mob. Several regulars of the Ill Eagle Inn, a taproom notorious for strong prejudices against non-humans, had assembled the inn and marched toward The Dark Dancer, in protest against its opening. On the way, the mob swelled to over a hundred humans. A small race riot erupted, as the mob hurled rocks and debris at the warehouse. Dozens of officers of the City Watch moved in to quell the unrest. The building itself took little damage, but most of the food and clothing that had been gathered for the needy of Ravens Bluff was ruined and several Watchmen were injured. Rebekkah treated the wounded guards at the scene and vowed to continue her work. Despite this, many citizens remained hostile to the dark elves, and the Watch kept close watch on the warehouse to prevent further trouble.[1]

The event triggered quite a controversy within Ravens Bluff. The members of the Clerical Circle were furious that their authority had been circumvented, and banned all worship of Eilistraee at the shrine until a formal charter was issued. The representatives of the temples of Lathander and Tyr stated they would veto any authorization of a charter. Rumor was they had even started planning to order the shrine demolished. This news relieved many in the city, but a member of the Merchant Council was quoted as saying, "as long as those dancing elves pay their taxes and don't kill folk in the streets, what's to shout about?"[1] What's more, the revelation of the shrine revealed the truth of the Yarvandars' involvement and the source of their wealth. They were called "drow lovers" and folk saw drow culture in all that they did. Yarnar Close was twice attacked with the intention of driving them out of the city, and some even called for a military assault on Vandarmere, though without success.[3]

Meanwhile, the luckless Eilistraeeans of The Dark Dancer were forced to perform their rites elsewhere. They took to dancing on a field in the Seaglimpse neighborhood. It wasn't long before another mob gathered with torches one night, confronting the Eilistraeeans and intending to "burn or drown the black-eared witches". Fortunately, the Watch intervened in time to prevent a battle breaking out. Some citizens talked of banning religious activities and nonhumans from the area, and some even thought the drow should be killed on sight, and perhaps tried to do so, but officials made no restrictions on what the Eilistraeeans could do there.[2]

They found more success and acceptance in another area, with a demonstration ritual dance performed at the popular nightclub Cliff's Bard & Swill, among the other varied entertainments on offer. One patron called it "the ultimate thrill of my life".[5]




  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), pp. 32, 109. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), p. 106. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), p. 62. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
  4. Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), pp. 26, 27, 67. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
  5. Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), p. 139. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.

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