“What do you think that is cousin?” Faevel asked. Taeghen squinted against the setting sun as he looked at the strange object he and Faevel had come upon. His hunting party had strayed farther into the interior of the High Forest than was their wont. A slab of moss-covered stone jutted up at a forty-five degree angle in a clearing the 2 scouts had stumbled upon. The feeling of antiquity rolled off the stone, but Taeghen also felt a sense of unease and disquiet emanating from it.
“Perhaps we should wait for the rest of the brothers,” Taeghen cautioned as Faevel approached the queer monolith.
“Look, it has Elvish runes upon it, but the writing is gibberish.” Faevel began to intone the words.
“Idiot,” muttered Taeghen striding forward. Faevel’s impetuous nature had gotten him and Taeghen into more trouble as children than the latter could remember. Best to stop this foolishness now before it got out of hand.
Taeghen was already too late. As the incantation faded into the growing twilight, a green star suddenly blazed in the heavens overhead. “What in the name of Corellon’s bow . . .?” his cousin began, but his oath was interrupted by a shaft of sickly vermillion that streaked down and encased the hapless elf. Taeghen stood, stunned. Faevel let out an unearthly scream that would haunt Teaghen in his dreams for the remainder of his life.
“Help me!” Faevel croaked as he fell to his knees. “It burns, but it’s so cold!”
Before Taeghen’s eyes, his cousin’s form shifted and wavered and a pitch black humanoid figure seemed to merge with Faevel’s writhing form. Suddenly, the green shaft disappeared and the star dimmed, but it was still a malevolent force, lurking on the edge of perception. “Are you ok?” Taeghen asked as he moved towards his stricken cousin.
“Oh, I’m just fine,” said Faevel, but it was a voice that belonged to no being of the natural world. Iron grating over stone was the closest thing Taeghen could think of to describe it. He cautiously backed away. His cousin turned, and Taeghen noticed Faevel’s eyes glowing a brilliant, nacreous green. A chuckle rumbled forth from Faevel’s chest becoming a full-fledged laugh.
“Come now, cousin, have you never seen Star Spawn born before. You should feel privileged—not many live to see such a wondrous event. I am afraid I will have to kill you now.”
Taeghen let loose a tortured howl as he prepared his bow. “Melora, guide my aim,” he prayed. He had to slay this beast that had the form of his cousin. His arrow flew at his cousin, who was scuttling quickly forward with a hungry look in his emerald eyes. The arrow took the creature right in the left eye.
“No!” it screamed. “My moment of birth is undone! Treacherous elf! You may have sent me back to the Far Realm, but with my dying breath, I curse you as a fratricide, a crime unforgivable even among the Gods. Pray that we don’t meet again!”
Taeghen stood a little way into the clearing as his cousin’s body dissolved into a cloud of noxious green gas that was swept away by a breeze that had sprung up. The breeze smelled of the grave. He fell to his knees, weeping over his fallen cousin. The sounds of the rest of his party were rapidly approaching. Taeghen wondered how to explain what had happened here, but he also feared that a larger party might unless more fell magic from the damned monolith. He scrambled up to warn his Elven kin, but noticed that a strange mist had rolled in and that the world was growing hazy . . ..
He was shaken from his reverie by Nene. “We are ready for our trip to the crypts. You going to look at that apple or eat it?”
He gathered his equipment and put the apple in his pack. It was a symbol of hope, a symbol that perhaps there was a way out of this accursed world of the damned. In the meantime, he must move forward and survive until he found his way out.