Table of Contents:
Chapter I: Mind Blade
Chapter II: Imoen
Chapter III: In Evening's Light
Chapter IV: When the Wind Blows
Chapter V: Into the Mists
Chapter VI: Balancing Act
Chapter VII: A Lever and a Place to Stand
Chapter VIII: Last Moves/First Moves
Chapter IX: Come Devils, Come Darkness
Chapter X: Baptism of Shadow
Chapter XI: Undertow
Chapter XII: High Tide
Chapter XIII: Point of No Return
Chapter XIV: What the Dawn Brings
Chapter XV: In the Land of the Blind
Chapter XVI: The Storm Breaks Loose
Chapter XVII: Beneath a Sea of Stars
Chapter XVIII: Lions and Tigers and Bards
Chapter XIX: Fault Lines
Chapter XX: Veil of Shadows
Chapter XXI: Crush Depth
Chapter XXII: Notes of a Dirge Foretold
Chapter XXIII: In the Footsteps of Valkyries
Chapter XXIV: Once More Unto the Breach
Chapter XXV: A Question of Blood
Chapter XXVI: In the Pale Moonlight
Chapter XXVII: Learning Curve
Chapter XXVIII: Baldur's Gate
Chapter XXIX: A Fire in the Night
Chapter XXX: Sleight of Face
Chapter XXXI: The Mask Slips
Chapter XXXII: Full Circle
Chapter XXXIII: From the Lightning and the Tempest
Chapter XXXIV: The Precipice
Chapter XXXV: Storm Front
Chapter XXXVI: Pandora Unchained
Chapter XXXVII: You Take The High Road
Chapter XXXVIII: Domino Theory
Chapter XXXIX: The Pale Horse
Chapter XL: Eversor
Chapter 1: Mind Blade
Twelve years before Gorion's death
The visitors were unusual. Most who visited Candlekeep were met by the Captain of the Watch, or perhaps by the Chanter or even Tethtoril. But this was the first time she had ever seen Ulraunt himself meet anyone at the gate. There were two of them. One was a tall man, with lightly tanned skin, and traveling clothes rather more elaborate than she had ever seen. Behind him was a boy, though a few years older than her. The boy shared the man?s blond hair coloration, and wore elaborate finery. Behind them was a carriage and horse team. They looked like they had been on a long journey, but had imperious bearings, rather than the somewhat overwhelmed awe with which other scholars and sages had regarded their first sight of Candlekeep.
?Ah, Lord Roenall. It is a pleasure to see you!? Ulraunt called out.
?Indeed.? The man replied. ?Do you have the books we require??
?Yes, please follow me.?
?Oh, and I brought my son, Isea, with me.?
?Very good, sir.?
Ulraunt motioned them towards the central keep. The boy sniffed the air with disdain, and followed his father inside. Waiting until they were inside for a few minutes, the girl followed them in.
Had anyone seen her, they would have seen a girl, seemingly ordinary enough from a distance. She was taller than most eight-year-olds, with dusky skin and a wild mess of flaming red hair that violently resisted any attempt to tame it. However, her eyes marked her as not entirely human. They belonged on a cat, seeing through the darkness as thought it were daylight, and her pupils were a pure, utter black. Combined with the rest of her appearance, Alexandria of Candlekeep was a tiefling, demonic blood flowing through her veins. Ulraunt had always instructed her to keep out of sight of important visitors, which she tended to be happy enough to do. She preferred exploring Candlekeep?s many hidden nooks and crannies, but this time, her curiosity was piqued by the visitors.
Ulraunt was speaking with the man.
-?A reader was sent to retrieve the books you require, Lord Roenall. He should be back shortly.?
?He had better. The information of those tomes is of utmost importance, and I will not let a bumbling monk cause me an undue delay.?
?Be patient, Lord Roenall. The libraries are vast, and retrieving each book takes time.?
?That does not concern me, Ulraunt. I require those books. As we agreed, you will be well paid for their purchase.?
?You do realize this is irregular enough as it is. Those tomes you requested? the Athkatlan authorities will not look kindly on you if they discover them.?
?I am the authority in Athkatla, and I will have those books.?
?Yes, of course, Lord Roenall??
This was strange. No one talked like that to Ulraunt, let alone made him sweat. He had had Alexandria paddled just because he heard her singing a silly tune making fun of him. Her father had objected, but even he couldn?t override the Keeper of the Tomes. It wasn?t like Ulraunt liked Alexandria anyhow. ?That irritating demon-girl? was the nicest thing he had ever called her. She stuck her head out from behind the bookshelf.
?Hey!? the boy called out.
Oops, she thought, and started to run.
The boy followed her. Alex ducked and weaved between bookshelves-this place was her home, but the boy was older than her, and followed her easily. Finally, she ran out of breath, and he cornered her, an arrogant smirk on his face.
?You run pretty fast for a little girl.?
?Why were you chasing me??
?You?re one of those devil-spawn freaks, aren?t you? I wonder why the fools in this place haven?t killed you already.?
?I?m not a freak! My name?s Alexandria.?
?If I say you?re a freak, then you?re a freak!?
?No, I?m not!?
?Yes you are. Don?t you know who I am? My father?s Farthington Roenall, and he could buy this entire castle for me for my birthday.?
?Good for you, now leave me alone.?
?No, I don?t think I will, freak. I wonder what those silly knights would say if I slew a demon before my majority? I might even get knighted!?
Anger began to cloud Alexandria?s mind, and her blood began to kindle the way it always did when she got mad.
?Leave me alone!?
?What, you afraid to fight me, demon? You oughta be!?
The boy suddenly swung his fist at her, and caught her across the face. She fell to the ground, but an entirely alien sense took control of her. Raw, focused anger. As she rose, her mind seemed to rage outwards, as though trying to strike the boy down where he stood by will alone?She wasn?t even aware her arm had been in motion, swinging towards him, until a blade abruptly appeared in her hand. It was a wickedly serrated sword, and glowed blood red. It slashed across the boy?s chest as he screamed.
The adults rushed over towards the source of the scream, and found Isea Roenall on the ground, blood welling up from a wide cut across his chest. Standing over him was Alexandria, an incredibly unusual serrated red sword in her hand. Tethtoril looked more closely at the blade-where on Toril had she gotten it-and realized it wasn?t solid. It seemed to be made of some indistinct energy that glowed a deep blood red, and was shaped into a vicious blade.
?Alex, drop the sword!? he shouted.
She obeyed, snapping her hand open. But rather than fall to the ground, the sword simply fizzled out of existence once released, as though maintained by Alexandria?s will alone?
?You killed my boy!? Roenall shouted. ?I swear, your life ends here, demon!?
?Stop!? Tethtoril roared. He walked over to the two children, and applied a healing spell to the boy. The cut looked much worse than it was, and healed over quickly and completely. Then he looked over at Alexandria. She looked confused and horrified at what had happened, as well she might.
?Ulraunt, Lord Roenall, I will take care of this matter personally. Alexandria, come with me!?
Tethtoril stormed upstairs with Alexandria close behind him. Anger and indignity burned in Roenall?s eyes.
In the relative peace of Tethtoril?s office, Alexandria obediently sat down in a chair opposite him. She wondered what had happened, and what was going to happen.
?Alexandria, tell me what happened.?
?I? I was watching Ulraunt talk with mister Roenall. I was hiding behind a bookshelf. Then I stuck my head out, and the boy saw me. I ran, but he chased me down. He started insulting me and Candlekeep and talking like he was going to kill me and I was really scared. Then he hit me.?
Tethtoril looked closely at the tiefling girl. A rather spectacular black eye was beginning to form over her left eye. Isea was a few years older than Alexandria, it was no wonder?
?After he hit me, I fell to the ground, and I? I felt mad. Really mad. I?ve never felt so mad in my life. Then my head started to hurt, like it was pushing out, and suddenly there was a sword in my hand and I was swinging it at him and then there was so much blood??
Tethtoril frowned. In a way, he couldn?t blame her for what happened. He knew Alex didn?t anger easily, but she could be very violent when she did get mad. She was a tiefling. But that wasn?t what had caught his interest. There was something even more interesting?
?That sword you had-it disappeared when you dropped it.?
?I don?t know what it was-I wasn?t holding a sword or anything. It just appeared in my hand.?
He had a sneaking suspicion he knew what had happened, but would need to look a few things up in the tomes. It wasn?t a common phenomenon. No, not at all common?
?Alex, I want you to go to your room. You?re confined there until Gorion gets back from his trip in a few days. I?ll bring you food. But I want you to meet me here tomorrow after mid-day meal. There?s something I?m going to have to talk to you about.?
?Good girl. Now go.?
She didn?t get much sleep that night. She wondered what that sword had been. One moment, her hand had been empty. The next, there was a sword in it. None of her father?s tales ever mentioned someone able to make a sword from thin air. Oh, there were swashbuckling thieves who could draw one in a moment?s notice, or wizards who could conjure a weapon from thin air, but she had done something entirely different. She hadn?t had a sword at her waist, and she hadn?t cast a spell. All she could remember was how her mind seemed to have focused purely on pushing outward? and then a sword had appeared in her hand. For a long time, she lay awake in bed, wondering what she had done.
She went to Tethtoril?s office again at the appointed time. A thick tome lay on his desk-the golden letters on the front read The Edge of the Soul.
?It is good to see you again, Alex. As you may have surmised, I was researching just what you did yesterday. And I believe I have found the answer.?
?You created a mind blade.?
?What?s a mind blade??
?Nothing less than a physical manifestation of your will. You were so angry, so focused and bent on directing your energies, that your living mind created a sword-shaped extension of itself, formed of purely mental energies.?
?I thought the sword into existence??
?Could I do it again??
?Almost certainly. But I have to caution you: a mind blade is a dangerous tool. It can cut as easily as a sword of iron. More easily, actually, not being bounded by the limits of iron and forging. And I think we should try it again.?
?You? want me to get angry again??
?No. I want you to concentrate, to focus as hard as you can. Try to push your mind outwards again. I want you to try to create your mind blade again, but without being angry. Just concentrate.?
Alexandria frowned, but she closed her eyes and began to focus herself. She slowly tried to focus all of her thoughts, all of her feelings, into a point. A single hard point of thought in her mind. Then she began to push that point outwards, imagining it like a rock in a sheet, pushing outwards and dragging a narrow length of material along with it. Concentrating harder, she ignored Tethtoril?s inquisitive gaze, and her own nervousness, focusing purely on pushing that point of her mind outward?
Suddenly, the pressure in her mind was released, and in her hand was a glowing blue blade. Unlike the last one, this sword was a simple, straight blade, made of light blue energy. She picked it up, and realized that it weighed nothing at all, didn?t even appear to be solid, but felt strong as steel in her hands.
?Well done!? Tethtoril said. ?You were concentrating on that thing for a good ten minutes, but you did it!?
The tiefling girl looked back at the old wizard.
?Ten minutes? But what?s the point of it if it takes so long??
?Your mind?s like any other muscle, Alex. Exercise it and practice it, and it?ll come faster and easier. But I warn you again: that sword is as dangerous as any steel blade.?
?Can anyone else do this??
?Yes, but it is an extremely rare gift, to be able to use your mind to affect reality. I?d be surprised if there were more than two or three other psionic individuals on the entire Sword Coast. But there have been many, across the Realms, who had the same type of gift you do. Some spent their entire lives refining their skill with the mind blade, training their minds to make the blade even more powerful, and do virtually anything they could imagine. These people are called Soulknives.?
?Can I become one??
?Becoming a Soulknife is not something that can be taught, Alex. It is a deeply individual process, manifesting your blade and altering it. I?ll lend you this tome, which contains a wealth of information on mind blades and Soulknives in general, but neither I nor Gorion can personally instruct you in using your blade. Your mind blade is a reflection of your own mind, Alex. When you attacked Isea Roenall, it was red and serrated because your mind was deeply angry and out for blood. Now, you are calm and at peace, so it is a plain blue sword. I offer you my blessing if you wish to pursue this rare gift of yours, however, and will arrange for Jondalar to teach you general combat skills, if you wish.?
?Very well. I?ll inform Gorion what has taken place when he gets back. For now, go back to your room.?
?Thank you, uncle Tethtoril!? Alex said happily, giving the old wizard a hug.
But despite the warmth of the moment, Tethtoril was chilled. Bhaalspawn. Tiefling. Soulknife. Daughter of the Lord of Murder. Demon-blooded human. Warrior wielding nothing less than the physical extension of her will. Gorion?s Harper friends are going to have a collective stroke. Between the power of her blood and the power of her mind, it is all too easy to imagine she?s the one the prophecy speaks of?
Alexandria began skipping down the halls back towards her room.
That little girl is the most dangerous being I?ve ever encountered...
Edited by Tempest, 06 June 2008 - 07:41 AM.