The Church of Eilistraee was the primary religious organization of the followers of the goddess Eilistraee, the Dark Maiden.

The worshipers of Eilistraee were mostly drow who hoped to escape the danger and darkness of the Underdark and Lolth's evil, taking back their place in the surface world and living at peace with all other races. However, in line with her ideals, Eilistraee would welcome and accept beings of all races who desired to see all people living in harmony, without pointless discrimination or wars, and worked towards that goal.[2]

The main work of the church of Eilistraee was reaching drow trapped in Lolth's web, aiding them, and providing them with a new life and future on the surface. The followers of the Dark Maiden also strove to offer kindness, help, and protection to those in need and they nurtured beauty and arts, spreading joy whenever and wherever possible and showing that the drow could create, rather than merely destroy.[2]


Eilistraee's TeachingsEdit

On helping others

Eilistraeens were bidden to aid and protect all folks in need, of any race, whether weak or strong, kind or rude, and to promote harmony and acceptance among all races. They were to lend their help to all those who fought for good whenever there were ways to do so. Except when fighting evil, they were to be always kind, even to those who showed rudeness, and to aid others in acts of kindness.[2]

They were to treat strangers as friends. Hungry travelers were to be fed and the homeless given shelter, under their own roof if needed. When traveling and while adventuring, they were to feed, help, and protect all those in need they met along the way as a prayer and offering to the goddess. They were also to patrol the lands around them, especially in cold winters, so that all those who were lost, hurt, or suffering the cold could be given appropriate treatment and shelter.[2]

On promoting joy, arts, and beauty

Eilistraeens were advised to bring happiness and merriment everywhere they went, lifting people's hearts with kindness, gaiety, songs, jests, and revelry. They were to nurture and create beauty, promote and practice music and dance, learn new songs and dances, and learn how to play, craft, and repair musical instruments. They were to pass this learning on whenever possible, and use it to bring joy to friends and strangers alike. It was said that feasts should always be joyful events and that food should be eaten with the accompaniment of music, save for sad occasions. The faithful were also told to practice swordwork, learning new techniques with the blade.[2]

On drow
A rightful place awaits you in the Realms Above, in the Land of the Great Light. Come in peace, and live beneath the sun again, where trees and flowers grow.
— The message of Eilistraee to all decent drow.[2]

The faithful were meant to encourage drow to return to the surface world whenever and wherever there were ways to do so. They were to promote peace between them and other races, thus helping the drow forge their own place in the world and become part of its rightful, non-evil inhabitants. They were also to aid all drow who were in danger or in need of help. If they were in combat, the fighting had to be ended as soon as possible, with as little bloodshed as possible. All drow met, when not working evil on others, were to be given the message of Eilistraee.[2]

On food

Food could be a source of joy; the faithful were advised to learn how to best cook it and to gather new recipes and spices whenever they could. They were to feed themselves by their own gardening and hunting skills, and assist hunters when possible. If food was aplenty, part of it was set aside and given to all those in need (especially outcasts and individuals of other races); thus, Eilistraeens were advised to carry some food for this purpose. Any remaining food was given to priestesses of the Dark Maiden, as they would give it away in turn and none would go hungry.[2]

On conflict

Eilistraeens were commanded to repay violence with swift violence, thus quickly removing dangers and threats, so that the fewest might be hurt. The bodies of evil enemies were to be burned as an offering to the goddess, unless they were edible and non-sentient and hungry people were near. When faithful, friends, and allies fell in battle, priestesses of the Dark Maiden were to comfort and sooth those who were mourning the loss, and provide a funeral song and burial.[2]

On possessions

Wealth was to be used to buy food, swords, armor, and musical instruments and to assist the work of the goddess. When helping others, their price should be no more than a single tool or favor, or a good sword or armor, that could be used to serve the goddess' will.[2]

On slavery

Eilistraee and her church detested slavery and actively fought it whenever possible.[2][1] Followers of the Dark Maiden were forbidden to take slaves. Prisoners of war (mostly Lolth-worshiping drow or untrustworthy individuals who had acquired too much knowledge and were held for some time so such knowledge couldn't be used against the followers of Eilistraee) were usually made to work for food and shelter, but they weren't owned and couldn't be commanded by anyone (only supervisors assigned by the decision-makers among Eilistraeeans could give them orders, in selected cases).[3]


Redeeming the drowEdit

The main duty of the priestesses of Eilistraee was to encourage drow to return to the surface world, reaching to them whether they were fugitives, raiders, or inhabitants of the Underdark. They showed them that a different kind of life, far from Lolth, was possible, and assisted them in making this choice by giving them aid, food, acceptance, and safe places to live.[2] Clerics of the Dark Maiden were required to free at least one drow from Lolth's web per moon.[2]

Eilistraeeans carried out missions underground, looking for drow who were in need of their help and could be brought to the surface (mostly slaves, commoners, fallen and hunted nobles, or drow who were generally unsatisfied with the life that Lolth imposed on them), bringing them the Message of Eilistraee.[4][5] Many carried tiny swords to give to drow in the Underdark, which served as keys for safe passage to temples or as identification tokens.[6] The followers of Eilistraee could rely on a network of portals to ease their expeditions.[7] One of these portals was found in the city of Menzoberranzan.[5]

Some followers of Eilistraee, like the Silverhair Knights[8] or priestesses like Jhelnae Horlbar,[9] infiltrated and lived in Lolthite drow settlements, hiding from the clergy of the Spider Queen or posing as her followers, in order to carry out the above-mentioned missions. These followers and converts, who had to hide their faith in order to let it spread and to survive under the thumb of Lolth, were known as Secret Moondancers.[10]

Promoting drow tradeEdit

Eilistraeeans actively promoted drow trade on the surface whenever they could, especially in the area of the Promenade of the Dark Maiden, as it was important for the integration of the drow in surface societies. They offered guides, rented out warehouses, and sponsored merchants. The followers of the Dark Maiden encouraged and helped drow to travel to the surface, where Eilistraee could more intensely call to them, and where Lolth's and Ghaunadaur's influences were weaker.[11]

Integrating with other racesEdit

As the Dark Maiden's teachings required, her clerics actively worked to promote harmony between drow and other races, so that their people could be accepted and live in peace in their rightful place on the surface. This included lending their swords to fight against evil, helping others, and providing food and healed to assist people of any race in need, both to gain their acceptance (by dispelling fears and prejudices about Eilistraee's goal) and because it was just the right thing to do. Offering their artistic works could also help establish or solidify friendships with other races.[2][12]

This could lead to the formation of positive relationships between Eilistraeean communities and elven or human settlements. An example was the alliance between the followers of the Dark Maiden of Cormanthor and the elves of Myth Drannor in −331 DR, born of the aid that the moondancers provided in freeing the Twisted Tower of Ashaba from the Lolthite drow of Maerimydra at the culmination of a larger conflict.[13][14] As a further example, Seyll Auzkovyn and the followers of Eilistraee active near the elven and human community of Elventree also gained the acceptance and friendship of the town, and Seyll herself was an advisor to Lord Dessaer.[15]

The church also acted through envoys, diplomats and emissaries living near (or sometimes within) other races' settlements.[16] They usually approached individuals who would more likely accept a drow presence in their settlement and worked to gain their alliance by explaining their cause and offering something beneficial in exchange for sponsorship (it could be their art, magic, exotic goods, or help). They then used this sponsorship as a basis to integrate within the community. There were a few examples of this approach:

  • Karsel'lyn Lylyl-Lytherraias, former agent of Queen Amlaruil Moonflower and ambassador of the Eilistraeeans on the elven island of Evermeet, who tried to gain her people a place in the land that was supposed to be a safe haven for all elven peoples.[17]
  • During the 1370s DR, in Raven's Bluff, Rebekkah Darklyte and her priestesses managed to interest a powerful noble family, the Yarvandars, and exchanged access to rare drow goods (gained through control of an Underdark trading route) for their favor. The followers of Eilistraee were provided with resources to build a shrine—The Dark Dancer—within the city, and a shelter within the Yarvandar mansion, from which to observe and learn about humans. Once the shrine was complete, the followers of the Dark Maiden began to provide food, clothing, and healing to the poor of Raven's Bluff. The shrine had a controversial and troubled story, but after many setbacks, the drow managed to retain a presence in the city.[18][19][20][21][12]
  • In the 1490s DR, the followers of Eilistraee managed to gain the sponsorship of the Harper Remallia Haventree in Waterdeep, and her support in building a garden-temple to Eilistraee in the Field Ward of the city.[22]

Aiding othersEdit

The faithful also routinely grew, gathered, and hunted food; prepared cures; and readied all that was needed to aid drow returning to the surface and to shelter travelers, adventurers, and individual who didn't represent a threat. They also gathered resources, weapons, and armors (preferably magical) to use for their cause. They often patrolled around their communities (especially during cold winters) to find hurt, lost, or hungry travelers (including fugitive drow or even wounded drow raiders) and spot (and possibly neutralize) potential threats for the community and other settlements in the area.[2]

Nurturing arts and spreading joyEdit

Besides their work towards their main goal, the faithful were known to nurture beauty, music, and arts, and to spread kindness, joy, and hope whenever they saw ways to do so (and it was appropriate). They also had to be skilled at playing at least one of the Dark Maiden's favored instrument, the horn, flute, or harp; to be adequate singers; to be fit, graceful dancers; and to teach their art to others. They constantly gathered songs and musical knowledge, and acquired training in the use of the sword when they could.[2]

Fighting slaveryEdit

The church of Eilistraee, especially near the Promenade of the Dark Maiden, was known for their efforts against slavers of all kinds, actively fighting organizations dedicated to the practice (such as the Dragon's Hoard) and offering shelter to slaves.[2][1]


Clerics were allowed to go adventuring, as long as they kept following Eilistraee's teachings, while aiding, feeding and defending the needy on the way.[2]



Worshipers of Eilistraee could be of any race, but were mostly drow. Non-drow followers of the goddess were mostly humans, elves, and especially half-elves.[2]

Likewise, clerics of Eilistraee could also be of any race, but before the 1300s DR, they had to be female,[2] because it was believed only a female could truly feel Eilistraee's divine dance.[23] During the 1300s, the church started to open up to male priests: this was Eilistraee's choice and by 1373 DR all her clerics were aware of it (as the goddess was close to her clergy). Some female worshipers initially disliked this change, and male priests could be met with distrust by some priestesses, who feared they could be merely hungry for power. These priestesses would be wary of males, act coldly toward them, and watch their actions, at least until acceptance on a personal level was achieved by working alongside them.[3] Nonetheless, no priestess would reject males who wished to join the clergy, or act against them, refuse to aid and accept them, or renounce Eilistraee's vision.[23] On the whole, all clergy of the Dark Maiden welcomed the fellowship of more and more followers of the goddess, no matter their gender.[3]

However, before the Second Sundering, males had to dance the so-called Changedance at least once in order to become priests, by spending time shapechanged into females (including in everyday life, not only in rituals) to gain insight into the other gender. Generally, this wasn't perceived negatively, as many priests felt the need to spend more and more time as females to feel and cleave more fully to the nature of the Dark Maiden. The willingness to remain shapechanged for long periods of time was seen and appreciated as a mark of dedication by the female clergy. These priests were few, and usually secretive.[23] After Eilistraee's return during the Second Sundering,[24][25] males could become priests without needing to undergo the changedance.[26]


Most Eilistraeen-dominated communities formed around a temple or shrine to the goddess, and thus they were usually led by priestesses. However, any member could express concerns and ideas about any matters, and priestesses listened to them before making their decision.[3][23] The clergy of Eilistraee was different from most other religious organizations in that there wasn't any hierarchy or chain of command, as everyone stood on the same ground. However, most followers recognized Qilué Veladorn of the Seven Sisters as their guide and voice of the goddess.[27]

Unlike in Lolthite societies, males were valued, and treated with fairness and equality.[28] Outside of the clergy, male and female worshipers usually had the same duties and roles, as guardians, warriors, experts, artisans and artists, and in gathering food and other general work. Males were primarily involved in decision-making through their expertise in given fields, but they were rarely priests and therefore rarely leaders. Even among male clergy, few became leaders.[3][23] Male followers of the Dark Maiden participated in all rituals and dances (like the Circle of Song and the Run), save for those reserved for the clergy and were generally longer and more passionate. Male clerics could join in too if they'd danced the Changedance beforehand, as explained above. After the Second Sundering, the Changedance was no longer required for males to join rituals reserved for the clergy.[3][23][26] One exception during the Silence of Lolth was one of the covens in Velarswood, led by the priestess Uluyara, where males weren't allowed to participate in communal dances. In fact, the participating priestesses could physically assault males who dared to watch the ritual in progress.[29]


The clergy of Eilistraee were known collectively as the Dark Ladies, although that could change depending on the community. Acolytes and aspirants to the clergy who wished to join a temple, or who had not yet attained full priesthood, were known as Maids. Many priestesses chose individual, specific titles that reflected their personality during an Evensong (or Flamesong in the Promenade, see below), like Moon Dancer, Moon Singer, Dark Huntress, Argent Maid, Living Sword, Unsheathed Blade, Sword Smith, Bright Edge of Darkness, and Ghost of the Moonstruck Night.[2]


Sword DancersEdit

Specialized clerics of the Dark Maiden were known as Sword Dancers. They were excellent dancers and spellsingers, known to use an agile and acrobatic fencing style resembling a dance. The sword dancers led missions to find, assist, and protect any drow looking to return to the surface (or that could be made to return) and embrace a different life. They were skilled diplomats, especially active near the settlements of elves and other races, working to establish peace and cooperation between drow and surface dwellers.[2][27]

Silverhair KnightsEdit

The Silverhair Knights were an order of clerics of Eilistraee completely dedicated to the redemption and subsequent protection of drow followers of Lolth, Vhaeraun, and other deities of the Dark Seldarine. They fully embraced the teaching of Eilistraee about showing mercy and compassion, and fought these dark elves only using non-lethal means, hoping to make them understand the error of their ways and choose a different life. Like the Sword Dancers, they often embarked on missions within Lolthite settlements, aiming to find and rescue drow who were in danger or seeking an alternative.[8]

Darksong KnightsEdit

The Darksong Knights were an elite order of Eilistraeeans, mostly active in the South, beneath the lands of ancient Ilythiir. Each member of this order was a battle-priest who chose to devote their life not only to furthering the Dark Maiden's goals, but also to the destruction of yochlol and other demons and minions of Lolth, for they were the cause of the corruption and fall of the drow people.[2]

Protectors of the SongEdit

The Protectors of the Song were the temple guards of the Promenade of the Dark Maiden, the main center of worship of Eilistraee on Faerûn. Their main duty was to protect the temple and patrol the area around the Pit of Ghaunadaur, to prevent the return of the slime god.[2]


Priestesses of Eilistraee usually prayed for their spells at the rising of the moon.[27]

Her worship was not bound by hard rules; it was free-form expression through dance and song, and all that was needed to celebrate her was a moonlit glade (or some kind of light, if in places that couldn't be reached by moonlight). The faithful disrobed and started dancing, seeking their goddess's blessing.[3]

The most important rituals are described below.

Circle of SongEdit

Besides free-form dancing and singing, the main form of ritual worship was a hunt for food followed by a feast and a Circle of Song, in which the worshipers sat in a circle and danced by turns, leading a song. If possible, the ritual had to be celebrated in a wooded area and on moonlit nights.[2]

Evensong and FlamesongEdit

The Evensong was an intimate ritual that all followers of Eilistraee performed at the end of their day. It was a wordless message to their goddess (usually involving a personal dance and song) in which they let out all the emotions, experiences, and reflections that they had gathered during the day, so that Eilistraee could listen to them. For the priestesses of the Promenade of the Dark Maiden, this ritual took the particular form of the Flamesong, the most important personal prayer for the Dark Ladies and Maids, in which they danced around a flame or a candle. They would sing freely for their goddess and dance following the rhythm of the music as it came, until the flame was extinguished. 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.[2][1]

The High HuntEdit

The High Hunt was a nighttime ritual led by clerics of Eilistraee, in which the faithful hunted a dangerous monster that was a threat to local people as an offering to the goddess. Tradition allowed the use of any kind of bladed weapon and armor, but the priestesses were required to wear as little as possible. It was usually held once per season and ended with a circle dance for the goddess if the quarry was slain (and a feast if the quarry was edible).[2] A Hunt could also be called by a senior priest when Eilistraee warned her followers of powerful monsters or foes approaching the area (through visions, dreams, or the sound of her hunting horn). In this case, the Hunt was held to neutralize the threat, rather than for ceremonial value.[3] (However, hearing the Dark Maiden's hunting horn could also simply mean that someone nearby was in need of help.[2])

The Last DanceEdit

Clerics who did not die in battle were blessed by Eilistraee with the ritual of the Last Dance. In old age, Eilistraee's priests would hear the goddess sing to them by night, calling them to her. When the song felt right, they simply started to dance unclad under the moonlit sky. According to observers, the goddess came and sang to her follower, and as the aged priest danced, she gradually gained the strength and energy of youth, looking younger and younger. Her hair glowed with the same radiance as the Dark Maiden's, and she slowly faded away as the dance went on. In the end, only a silvery radiance could be seen and two voices, the goddess and her priest, could be heard, raised together in a melancholy, tender song.[2]

The RunEdit

The Run was a ritual that followers of Eilistraee undertook at least once per year. Those who took part used particular boiled leaves and berries to make their hair silvery[2] (an act that usually led to sarcastic remarks from drow of other faiths that this color indicated their foolishness or mental illness—even though drow who did not worship Eilistraee could also have silver hair[30]) and those who were not drow used natural colors to paint their bodies black. They then went on a journey through the surface world, relying on their music, kindness, and skills with the sword to not be hunted and killed for being drow. The goal was for followers of the Dark Maiden to go where they were strangers, reaching communities of elves and other races to bring them food, joy, and help of various kinds, not to preach their faith, but simply out of the good of their heart and to show (together with their day-to-day activities) that the drow could be rightful non-evil inhabitants of Faerûn. The faithful were also encouraged to use this time to learn and/or pass on new songs, music, recipes, and sword techniques.[2] The Run usually lasted a month or a month and a half, but it could go on for as long as a season or even a year, depending on the situation.[3]

The Sword DanceEdit

The Sword Dance was a ritual held when a new sword was forged or acquired by a worshiper of Eilistraee, in order to ask her blessing on the blade. It was performed by planting the weapon in the ground (the point turned down), and then dancing, drawing a drop of blood from each limb by momentarily moving against the blade. If the ritual was successful, the sword would gleam with silvery light, and for three months it wouldn't rust and would be able to harm creatures that could only be wounded by magic.[2]

The Love-BindingEdit

The Love-Binding was the Eilistraeean version of marriage. It was held when two lovers asked a priestess of Eilistraee to celebrate their union. (The following description is for when both lovers were worshipers of the Dark Maiden above other deities. In all other cases, the ritual would change and vary.) The individuals to be wed (known as "supplicants") could be of any race and gender and the priestess couldn't refuse their request except for reasons of "unworthiness" (see below). The ritual consisted of a preparation phase and the celebration itself.[31][32][33]

During the preparation phase, the priestess met with both supplicants separately, asking them to reveal their true natures and then casting a spell over them so that Eilistraee could verify if the truth was told. Then she questioned both supplicants' love for their partner, their motives, and willingness to serve Eilistraee "in truth". Then the priestess called Eilistraee's attention onto the couple; the goddess made her attention known by making the priestess's eyes glow silver (she became "moon-eyed"). This was followed by the supplicants and priestess disrobing, embracing (not in a sexual way) and dancing together, with the priestess leading and praying for Eilistraee's blessing. The goddess answered the prayer either by recognizing any deception that the priestess couldn't, or by happily blessing the union.[31][32][33]

If blessed, the ritual itself could then begin, usually in places of worship or sacred to Eilistraee (especially where she had already manifested), but any natural place lit by the moon would serve. When moonlight touched the chosen place, the celebration of the love-binding began. The audience (which had to consist of at least two witnesses, one a true worshiper of Eilistraee and the other not) stood at the edges of the place, forming a ring around the supplicants if possible. Witnesses could wear anything, but—external conditions permitting—the priestess and supplicants had to cast off their clothes and wear an ankle-long overrobe, barefooted.[31][32][33]

The ceremony started with the priestess completely disrobing and making moonglow manifest around her, calling on Eilistraee to "watch this binding, and make it firm" and any attendants to "witness this union of love". The priestess then offered both lovers a large "loving cup" full of black, sweet wine consecrated to Eilistraee, and directed them to drink from it at the same time, facing each other. After that, the couple kissed, while the Dark Lady removed their robes, covering them also in moonglow.[31][32][33]

Finally, the priestess bid the supplicants join their hands and ask Eilistraee for her blessing "with all their hearts". They were then declared "bound before the goddess", and—with a celebratory clap—the festivities could begin. These varied from case to case, due to conditions like cold weather, need for discretion because of potential danger or enemies, and so on. However, they always involved dance and song, while food and drink could be present or not, depending on the desire of the participants.[31][32][33]

All the clergy of Eilistraee and other deities formed a circle around the place of the ceremony, facing outwards with weapons ready, to protect the lovers and celebrants during the dance. The only exception was the presiding priestess, who intoned a rhythmic, often simple, repetitive, and haunting chant to Eilistraee (which was echoed by other priestesses of the goddess and by other worshipers) and cast a spell that would keep the melody going on its own (even if it was customary for the priestesses to keen a harmony above it).[31][32][33]

The dance then started, initially led by the priestess, who took the Bound (the married lovers) into it, while the celebrants watched and she started praying to Eilistraee for her boon upon them. After that, all the participants began to dance, and the priestess embraced and danced by turns with all of them, conferring the same moonglow surrounding her body to all those touched by her. Aside from that, the celebration didn't follow specific rules. The dancing could be anything comfortable for those who joined it, with agile and young dancers gyrating and wildly leaping around the less fit ones. The celebrants could choose to disrobe for the festivities or not, sometimes the Bound consummated the marriage in the middle of the dances, and sometimes the ceremony turned into a general orgy.[31][32][33]

The celebration usually continued until the moonglow faded from the body of the priestess, or until dawn. When it came to an end, the priestess usually ended the musical spell and led everyone to the place arranged for them to spend the night in (an inn, or temple, private homes, and so on), but some preferred to leave the music echoing in the place until the spell faded (usually half a day later) and, at times (mostly during summer) the night could be spent in the same place as the celebration.[31][32][33]


Ceremonial GarbEdit

Priestesses of Eilistraee generally wore their hair long (as a tribute to the goddess), but they had no specific ceremonial garb. Instead, they were supposed to wear as little as possible during their official ceremonies.[2]

Dress and ArmorEdit

When relaxing, the priestesses preferred silver, diaphanous gowns, but for their work or when they had to fight they still used the most appropriate garb for the situation (like armor—preferably magical and of drow make—in battle, aprons for cooking, and leather garb for hunting).[2]

Holy SymbolsEdit

The holy symbols of the faith included a silver sword pendant the size of a hand, a silver bastard sword outlined against a silver moon surrounded by silvery filaments, and a nude long-haired female drow dancing with a silver sword in front of a full moon. These were often worn as a pin or hung around the neck by means of a slender silver or mithril chain.[2]


In battle, the priestesses had to wield swords when possible, and bladed weapons were preferred to other instruments when swords were not available. Longbows and silver-tipped arrows were usually used as secondary weapons.[2]


The Singing Swords

The Singing Swords were twenty magical silver bastard swords provided by Eilistraee and wielded by Qilué Veladorn and the Chosen of Eilistraee who patrolled the Pit of Ghaunadaur near Skullport. The swords sang constantly (and loudly) when unsheathed, and lost their abilities and bonuses when silenced. The blade's song made its wielder confident and immune to charm, command, confusion, fear, friends, repulsion, scare, and suggestion. An emotion spell cast on the wielder only caused rage, focused on the one who cast the emotion spell. The sword's song also cancelled the effects of a harpy's song, silenced shriekers, and could entrance weak, earthly, living creatures, although this ability could be negated by a bard's counter-song.[34]

The Crescent Blade

The Crescent Blade was a magical curved blade with a leather hilt. There was silver inlaid in the blade. On it were the Drow words "Be your heart filled with light and your cause be true; I shall not fail you."[35] It was said that Eilistraee plucked a pebble from the heavens and tossed it to earth. It grew as large as a boulder and very hot. It was made of moon-metal; if one looked at the moon, they could see a hole in the shape of a crescent. The boulder was forged into a crescent-shaped blade with enchantments, including moonlight—it could cut through armor and stone—protection against evil, and the ability to strike quickly. If the wielder was a true priestess, she could use it to sever the neck of any creature, including gods.[36]

Eilistraeean MagicEdit

The SpellsongEdit

Priestesses of Eilistraee, particularly Sword Dancers, were known for their use of the Spellsong, the ability to invoke various magical effects through song and music. A Spellsong could replicate the effects of many other spells, heal a given creature, or grant her protection from magic. If more priestesses took part in a Spellsong, its power could grow and become able to restore lost limbs or cure a wide variety of illnesses, poisons, or other negative effects.[2]

The MoonfireEdit

The most iconic Eilistraeean spell was the Dark Maiden's Moonfire, a dancing globe of light whose intensity and color could be controlled by the creator at will (ranging from a faint glow to a clear, bright—but not blinding—light). The Moonfire had the same intensity as moonlight, and it was generally used as a light source for reading, to see in the dark, as a signal for communication, or for artistic purposes. Eilistraee could also occasionally choose to gift any creature the power to temporarily manifest her Moonfire.[2][1]

The MoonsongEdit

The Moonsong was provided by Eilistraee to her followers to help them travel to lands far away. The priestesses sang a sweet melody reminiscent of the sound of the wind, summoning a soft curtain of moonlight. They then started to softly dance within it, entering in tune with Eilistraee's magic. As the priestesses did that, they could hear the songs of distant lands, joyful melodies of the place or that the people who lived there sung when lit by the moon. Once the song of the place chosen as the destination, or of its people, was heard, the priestess needed to follow it and was transported there along beams of moonlight.[37]

A particular form of the Moonsong was the Grand Chorus, celebrated by the priestesses of the Promenade. This was the greatest ritual of worship to Eilistraee, a music of celebration sung by the faithful, constantly changing around the main melody led by a senior priestess. The magic of the Chorus could create 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 any creature or item that the priestesses were touching or carrying while singing could be transported along a path of moonlight to any place where the moon was shining. It was through this spell that the priestesses traveled to the surface for their missions.[1]

Portal MagicEdit

The church of Eilistraee made efficient use of portal magic in their work. Shrines and communities were connected to the Promenade of the Dark Maiden and to each other through a network of Moonspring portals. These were pools of blessed water that transported those who bathed in them to the location of another Moonspring where the moon was shining. Thanks to the magic of the portals (and of the Moonsong), Eilistraeean communities could quickly support each other in case of need.[7]

The followers of Eilistraee also made use of traditional portals to help drow converts and refugees to quickly and safely reach the surface. Those were usually keyed to ensure that only drow without ill intentions could find and activate them, and their destination was generally well guarded. An example was the portal in Menzoberranzan (located in an abandoned warehouse near the outer wall), created by a powerful priestess of the Dark Maiden who had already joined the goddess in the Last Dance before the 1300s DR, and whose name was a secret known to few. She keyed the portal to be activated only by good drow and elves by speaking the Message of Eilistraee. It led to a location near Silverymoon, well protected by the faithful of the Dark Dancer.[5]


Rare was the individual, dark elf or not, who appreciated that Eilistraee was forging her own path, one that welcomed beings of all races who reveled in life and the free form expression of all that entailed.
  — Demihuman Deities[2]
The church of Eilistraee was little known and poorly understood by inhabitants of the surface world. Her worshipers were figures of myth in both the Underdark and the Realms above. They were the subject of superstitions and prejudice (such as the belief held by surface dwellers that they were the disguised vanguard of the Spider Goddess's plan to take over the surface, and that held by the drow who followed the Way of Lolth that they were surface elf spies posing as drow).[2] Most non-elves could not comprehend the existence a good drow deity, while surface elves were uncomfortable considering it, finding Eilistraee a threat to their doctrine that the dark elves were wholly to blame for the Crown Wars and other ancient tragedies.[38]

However, some Harpers, seeing a hope for the drow in the church of the Dark Maiden and in what it represented, chose to lend a helping hand to their cause.[2][27]

In particular regions of Faerûn, the followers of Eilistraee were known to befriend goodly lycanthropes. An example was Velarswood, where the drow of the Dark Maiden were allied with the Selûne-worshiping lycanthropes living in the region, often joining in shared rituals dedicated to both Eilistraee and Selûne.[2]

Among the enemies of the church of Eilistraee were the churches of Lolth, Vhaeraun, and Ghaunadaur. Eilistraee's allies included the Seldarine, Selûne, and Mystra.[2][27]

For a brief time, during the Masked Lady's lifespan, the churches of Eilistraee and Vhaeraun agreed to a (difficult) cooperation,[39] but it was unknown if said alliance continued after the Masked Lady was killed. Post–Second Sundering (circa 1480s DR), Eilistraee and Vhaeraun were alive once again, each holding their own power and portfolio: they agreed to maintain a truce, but their followers still skirmished often.[40][25][26][41]

Near the Promenade, the effort that followers of Eilistraee put into fighting slavery gained them the enmity of slave merchants and organizations from Skullport.[2][1][42]


The Dawn AgeEdit

After Eilistraee's self-imposed exile, in the time when most of the ancient elven empires were still rising, the Dark Maiden's faith had a presence in Ilythiir (where she fought against Vhaeraun's and Ghaunadaur's corruption of the drow).[2][43]

The First FloweringEdit

During this era, the nations founded by the sun elves and moon elves, who had arrived on Toril from Tintageer in −25,400 DR, during the Dawn Age,[44] reached their peak and the Dark Maiden eventually gained small number of faithful in the new elven kingdoms.[2]

In −18,800 DR, the green and dark elven kingdom of Miyeritar was founded by political refugees from Aryvandaar.[45] Eilistraee became a major patroness of the nation,[2] which would later grow into one of the greatest centers of magic and art in Faerun.[46][47]

Due to the expansionistic and warlike activities of the Ilythiiri dark elves,[48] the relationship between the Eilistraeeans and gold, green, and silver elven realms was rather difficult. When High Mages (circa −17,600 DR) of all non-dark elven Tel'Quessir gathered to create Evermeet (a safe haven for all elven people, where the threat of the dark elven followers of Ghaunadaur, Lolth, and Vhaeraun couldn't reach them) in a ritual known as Ever'Sakkatien, the plea of the followers of Eilistraee, who were fleeing Ilythiir and wanted to live in peace with other elves and be granted a place in said land, was thoroughly ignored.[43]

The Crown WarsEdit

Later, the Crown Wars (−12,000 to −9000 DR) brought calamity upon the church of Eilistraee, and further damaged the relationship between dark and fair elves. The Dark Disaster (−10,500 DR), which was unleashed by the Aryvandaari during the Third Crown War, destroyed the kingdom of Miyeritar and decimated its inhabitants, leaving only the arid and lifeless land known as the High Moor in place of what once was a greatly advanced elven realm. This event alone severely weakened the Dark Maiden's followers, but when the Ilythiiri and surviving Miyeritari were transformed into the drow and banished from the surface world at the end of the Fourth Crown War (−10,000 DR, in the Descent of the Drow), Eilistraee's church nearly collapsed, with only a few ancient, sacred sites of power built before the Crown Wars surviving (in the Misty Forest, along the borders of the High Moor, and in the Shaar).[2]


The followers of Eilistraee started a slow process of rebuilding, one that would take centuries to provide results[2] and meet severe hardships because of persecution by the church of Lolth and the hostility of many of the very surface dwellers that the drow of the Dark Maiden sought peaceful relations with[citation needed] (for example, many elves refused to believe their—or even Eilistraee's—existence because of the implications to some central convictions of their history, namely that the malevolence of all drow was the cause of the Crown Wars[27]). While rebuilding continued in the years after the Crown Wars, the strength of Eilistraee and her church ebbed and flowed.[citation needed]

However, in the Year of Shadows Fleeting, −331 DR, the drow of the Twisted Tower were defeated and driven away by the combined forces of the armies of Cormanthyr and Rystal Wood and the followers of Eilistraee from Cormanthor.[13][14] The structure was left under the protection of the followers of the Dark Dancer, and within a century the Tower of the Dark Moon became Eilistraee's greatest temple in the Realms, the symbol of a new hope for the goddess and those who joined her dance. However, that only lasted a few centuries, as the tower fell once again to the Lolthite drow in 190 DR. The Dark Maiden's magic still lingered in the tower, and her moonfire surrounded the body of any follower of the goddess who mentioned her name within the tower halls.[49][50]

The Era of UpheavalEdit

During the mid–14th century DR, the followers of Eilistraee increased their efforts in helping drow escape the Underdark and form relationships with other races, particularly elves. An example was Karsel'lyn Lylyl-Lytherraias interceding in Evermeet for the drow of Eilistraaee (see Activities). Cormanthor was one area that saw particularly intense Eilistraeean activity, due to the significant presence of surface drow.[51]

Later, starting in 1355 DR, the church of Eilistraee gained renewed stability with the foundation of the Promenade of the Dark Maiden (led by Qilué Veladorn, chosen of Eilistraee and Mystra), the most important center of worship of the Dark Dancer.[2]

In the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR, Lolth went into a state of hibernation, a period called the Silence of Lolth. During this time, Lolth's absence led to major upheavals among the drow, with the destruction of some cities and many drow facing (or fleeing from) danger and threats. As a result, a considerable number of Lolth's former followers sought alternatives in the other deities of the Dark Seldarine.[52][53][51] The followers of Eilistraee sought to find and protect drow in need of help (for example, rescuing survivors of the city of Maerimydra,[54] those fallen to the hordes of Kurgoth Hellspawn, and those to the undead of Irae T'sarran),[55] gaining converts as a result.[56]

One of the new converts, Halisstra Melarn, was chosen to wield the artifact known as the Crescent Blade, which could be used to kill Lolth before her awakening (in 1373 DR). Halisstra went on a mission to the Demonweb Pits, leading two fellow priestesses of the Dark Maiden, Uluyara and Feliane. However, after being defeated by Quenthel Baenre, Halisstra ultimately decided to betray Eilistraee and convert back to the awakened Lolth. The Spider Queen punished her former heresy by turning her into the Lady Penitent, whose duty was to hunt drow who tried to turn to other faiths. The Crescent Blade was left broken, lying in the Demonweb Pits.[4][57][58]

After 1372 DR, a drow matron mother who called herself the Valsharess, using the Silence of Lolth as a distraction, managed to invade Undermountain, conquer the Underdark region around it, and use it as a base to launch an attack on the city of Waterdeep. An adventurer found themselves involved in this matter through a geas spell cast by Halaster Blackcloak himself, but also found an ally in an Eilistraeean drow assassin named Nathyrra. She led the adventurer to the base of a resistance force, a ragtag rebel army led by Eilistraee's followers. A mysterious priestess of Eilistraee known as the Seer led the small band of Eilistraeean drow in an abandoned Lolthian temple located in the Underdark port city of Lith My'athar.[59]

After the end of the Silence of Lolth, the Judicators of Selvetarm initiated a series of attacks against the shrines and temples of Eilistraee. At the same time, the church of Vhaeraun planned to cast a High Magic spell to allow their god to enter his sister's realm and assassinate her. However, that kind of magic was very taxing, and would have required the sacrifice of the souls of the casters. Because of that, the followers of the Masked Lord started to kill various priestesses of Eilistraee and collect their souls in their masks (a technique which they called "soultheft"), in order to use them as a fuel for the ritual.[7]

Eventually, Qilué Veladorn managed to learn about their plan and worked to disrupt it alongside the drow mage Q'arlynd Melarn. The latter had come in contact with the followers of Eilistraee through a portal to the surface that a priestess had opened in the ruins of Ched Nasad, and Qilué managed to gain his loyalty, converting him to the faith of Eilistraee. Q'arlynd's task—whicht he accepted to prove his loyalty to the Dark Maiden—was to take the place of one of the Vhaerunites and try to disrupt their ritual. Meanwhile, Cavatina Xarann, a Darksong Knight serving Eilistraee, was sent by Qilué on a mission to recover the Crescent Blade from the Demonweb pits. While Cavatina was in the Demonweb Pits and Q'arlynd attempted to stop the Vhaerunites, Qilué led a defense against the followers of Selvetarm who tried to besiege the Promenade of the Dark Maiden.[7]

On Nightal 20 of the Year of Risen Elfkin, 1375 DR, Cavatina killed the demigod Selvetarm (with the help of the Lady Penitent), using the Crescent Blade that she had recovered almost intact (but which was no longer the original weapon, as it had been reduced to a vessel for the balor Wendonai). On the same date, Q'arlynd failed to accomplish his mission and Vhaeraun attempted to kill Eilistraee. However, his attempt failed and Eilistraee took Vhaeraun's portfolio and the title of "Masked Lady".[7][note 1]

This change heavily impacted the followers of the Dark Maiden and the Masked Lord. Some former Vhaeraunites chose to follow Eilistraee, and the followers of the Dark Maiden uneasily worked alongside them in their efforts against Lolth.[7][60]

When Cavatina returned from the Demonweb, Qilué Veladorn took possession of the Wendonai-possessed Crescent Blade.[61] Qilué recognized an evil presence in the weapon and planned to banish it, but the demon successfully convinced her to not act, for it would have destroyed the blade. Wendonai also let himself seemingly be killed by Cavatina,[62] which put the balor above suspicion of other followers of Eilistraee, but not for long.[63] He would remain at Qilué's side for the next few years, with visible effects on her behavior,[64] although the High Priestess of Eilistraee also started to hatch a plan to actually kill the balor by taking him into herself and using her Silver Fire to destroy him.[65]

In the Year of the Haunting, 1377 DR, Kiaransalee initiated hostilities against the followers of Eilistraee. Furthermore, the church of the Revenancer tried to call an army of undead from Death Heart, a city on the Negative Energy Plane, by feeding the faerzress with negative energy. As a byproduct, this increased the drow's urge to go back to the Underdark. Qilué Veladorn and the followers of the Masked Lady, alongside the College of Divination of Sshamath, retaliated with an assault against the Acropolis of Thanatos, in the drow city of V'elddrinnsshar, the main center of worship of Kiaransalee. The war concluded with the defeat of the followers of the Vengeful Banshee and of the demigoddess herself: in fact, a High Magic ritual performed by Q'arlynd Melarn deleted the demigoddess' name from the minds of every Torillian being, including Kiaransalee herself, leading to her apparent disappearance[66] (even though necromancers kept remembering her name and invoking her).[67]

Following those events, by Eilistraee's will,[68] Qilué began helping Q'arlynd prepare a High Magic spell meant to sever the link between the faerzress and the drow who didn't worship Lolth, to make it easier to lead them away from the Underdark and to the surface.[69] Qilué was supposed to be the main caster of the ritual, but she eventually realized that she couldn't take part in the casting, because of the risk posed by Wendonai's influence.[70]

In 1379 DR, cultists of Ghaunadaur (aided by traitors among the former Vhaeraunites)[71] attacked the Promenade in an attempt to destroy the prison that prevented their god from entering Toril.[72] The battle 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. After the battle, the temple fell and its inhabitants suffered heavy losses.[65]

Later in 1379 DR, accompanied by her sister Laeral Silverhand, Qilué traveled to the royal court of ancient Ilythiir, where Wendonai was first summoned, in order to put in motion her plan to destroy the demon. Fearing that Qilué would lose her life in the ritual, Laeral froze her in time and went to seek help, but, in the meantime, the drow priestess was found by the Lady Penitent, who took hold of the Crescent Blade. Eilistraee inhabited the body of her chosen to try to free Halisstra from Lolth's influence, but Wendonai tricked her into killing Qilué (and, supposedly, the Masked Lady too) before that could happen, making her believe that the chosen and her goddess were actually Lolth. Halisstra was then killed by Leliana Vrinn.[65][note 2]

Meanwhile, the High Magic spell that Q'arlynd Melarn had been preparing with the High Priestess was cast with the intervention of Eilistraee (although the goddess would withdraw her presence early during the ritual).[69] Despite being meant to sever the link between the faerzress and the drow, the spell also transformed hundreds among the followers of Eilistraee (who, being a lesser power, had at least a few thousand worshipers)[73] and those drow who were not tainted by Wendonai's blood, back to their original dark elven form.[74] Among the faithful of Eilistraee, the souls of the newly transformed dark elves were allowed by Corellon Larethian to enter Arvandor (even though Eilistraee's realm, which continued existing,[65] already was in Arvandor, and so were the souls of her followers within it).[75]

The Second SunderingEdit

During the 1480s DR, during the Second Sundering, Eilistraee and Vhaeraun returned to life. The goddess retook the title of Dark Maiden, as she and her brother were separate entities, holding their own old portfolios once again.[25][76] Both siblings manifested to their followers through their avatars, letting their return be known and many worshipers enthusiastically spread the word, leading to a resurgence of the activities of both cults.[77][78][79]

Eilistraee was seen dancing and speaking to mortals in many places, especially along the Sword Coast. For example, the citizens of Waterdeep witnessed her dancing in the moonlight near the walls of the city, up the road to Amphail. This led many moondancers to the City of Splendors, with the goal of creating a shrine to their goddess within its walls. Remallia Haventree, the Harper representative in the city, offered her support to the followers of Eilistraee. The events also caused some taverns to hold drow-themed shows, with performers painting their skins obsidian and wearing silvery wigs.[22] At the same time, the Promenade of the Dark Maiden was also stealthily reclaimed.[80]

Post–Second Sundering, despite Q'arlynd's spell, the Dark Dancer and her followers were still drow.[25][76]

After their return, Eilistraee and Vhaeraun reached a reciprocal understanding and a truce, although conflicts between their followers began anew.[26][41]

During 1485/1486 DR, a group of Sword Dancers of Eilistraee, led by the charismatic and kind-hearted high priestess Saradreza Oussmtor, decided to help an unlikely coalition—agents of the Harpers, Zhentarim, Emerald Enclave, Lords' Alliance, and Order of the Gauntlet; the drow of Szith Morcane, led by archmage Solom Ned'razak; the warriors following Elanil Elassidil of the Hillsfar rebellion; the Red Plumes led by First Lord Vuhm Yestral; the myconids of Sporedome; and the illithids of Ryxyg—to oppose Graz'zt's growing influence in Maerimydra. The demon lord had in fact rallied the fire giants, led by his daughter Hledh Hellspawn, and turned Maerimydra into a base from where he could spread his demonic influence and gain control over the Prime Material plane (through a restored Undying Temple, which he planned to use to gain free access to the whole prime, surface included). His threat had already taken a heavy toll on the drow of Szith Morcane and in the area of Elventree and Hillsfar, leading unlikely allies to band together to face demons and giants.[81] The followers of the Dark Dancer saw this as a good opportunity to lend their help and spread Eilistraee's message among drow who were tired of Lolth's tyranny or seeking freedom from the fire giants. The alliance eventually succeeded, and Saradreza and the other Sword Dancers gained a place in Maerimydra alongside the drow of Szith Morcane. They joined the rebuilding effort, hoping to reunite the drow of the Moonsea area and establish good relations with the other inhabitants of the region.[82]

Shrines and TemplesEdit

Temples of the Dark Maiden were typically established in the mouths of caverns or in woodlands, places that allowed her followers to reach the surface world and act there. Temples in the Underdark—even shrines close to the surface—were unusual and the Promenade of the Dark Maiden was unique in being a large center of worship, and the main one, built underground; in the caverns of Undermountain, it was built to prevent the return of one of Ghaunadaur's avatars to Toril. When not dictated by necessity, places of worship were chosen in a similar fashion to those dedicated to the Seldarine: followers of Eilistraee used natural places that needed little modification where they could live in harmony with their surroundings, leaving few traces of their passage.[83] Temples typically included a glade where they could dance and the moon was fully visible, a dark place removed from the light of day, a thick tree canopy, a freshwater stream, a forge to craft swords and armor, an access tunnel to the Underdark, and a vein of iron or some other metal suitable for the craft. However, all of that was not necessary, as a shrine of the Dark Maiden only required a moonlit glade and a song capable of leading one into a dance.[2]

Eilistraeen communities usually formed around temples and shrines,[3][23] and many were connected through a network of Moonspring portals.[7]

Known Shrines to EilistraeeEdit

  • The Promenade of the Dark Maiden: The main center of worship of Eilistraee after 1355 DR, located near Skullport.[2] It had portals to other parts of Faerûn, and access to tunnels into the Underdark for redemption missions.[84] The Promenade was led by High Priestess Qilué Veladorn.[2]
  • The Chondalwood shrine[49]
  • The Dancing Dell, Ardeep Forest: The Dancing Dell was a valley surrounding the Ladystone, a sacred stone touched by Eilistraee. The Dark Maiden herself manifested in the dell, more than once, to dance with her priestesses. Her worship in the dell was led by her chosen, Qiluè Veladorn.[85][86][87]
  • The Dancing Stone, Elventree: A shrine to Eilistraee whose community was led by Seyll Auzkovyn. The followers of the goddess there were welcomed in nearby Elventree.[88]
  • The Dark Dancer, Ravens Bluff: A shrine to the Dark Maiden whose community was led by Rebekkah Darklyte.[18]
  • Darkmaiden's Leap, the High Forest: A small clearing in the northern High Forest that became sacred to Eilistraee after 1358 DR. The magic of the goddess lingered in the area (especially on a large flat-topped stone bearing a single footprint the size of a drow female's foot), blessing all those who danced there and keeping portals to her realm in Arvandor and to a cave near the Promenade.[89]
  • The Forest of Lethyr shrine: The shrine was a natural pillar of black rock about ten feet tall, carved with crescent moon-shaped holes that created the sound of several flutes playing when the wind blew. The hilt of a sword protruded from the top of the rock. Hidden behind a nearby waterfall was a cave that housed the shrine's followers.[49][90]
  • The Forest of Shadows shrine[49]
  • The Forest of Tethir shrine[91] Shrine
  • The Grey Forest shrine[49]
  • Lake Sember shrine[49]
  • The Misty Forest shrine: In a section of the forest littered with broken chunks of stone was an ancient structure that consisted of a dozen sharp sword-shaped columns of black obsidian set point-first into a circular platform of white stone; the column-sword's hilts flattened to support a weathered circular roof of white stone with a round moon-shaped hole at its center.[49][7]
  • The Mouth of Song, the Moonwood: A shrine to Eilistraee located in a cave beneath a treeless hill in the Moonwood.[49]
  • The Shadowtop Glade, Velarswood: A shrine located in a gully surrounded by shadowtop trees, in northern Velarswood.[49] The Eilistraeeans that dwelt in the shrine were creating a surface home there and had good relations with local humans, whom they aided when ill.[92][93].
  • The Tower of the Dark Moon, Shadowdale: For five centuries (−331 DR to 190 DR) the Twisted Tower was the greatest temple to Eilistraee in Faerûn, until the Lolthite drow of Cormathor conquered the place.[49][50]
  • The Yuirwood shrine[49]
  • The Wildwinds Coven, the High Forest: A score of followers of Eilistraee in the High Forest, their camp was near the Dessarin, north of the Lost Peaks and less than a night's travel to Everlund.[94] It was formerly led by Ysolde Veladorn,[49] then by Dolor after Ysolde's death in 1361 DR.[95]

Notable MembersEdit



Video games
Board Games
  • Lords of WaterdeepScoundrels of Skullport expansion: One of the quest cards available to the players is called "Protect converts to Eilistraee", saying "The Dark Lady smiles on those who see the deeper beauty within."


  1. The Grand History of the Realms explicitly says that Vhaeraun's assassination attempt failed and Eilistraee killed him. However, in one of his answers, Ed Greenwood suggests that Eilistraee actually spared her brother's life. The Dark Maiden defeated Vhaeraun with the indirect help of her ally Mystra, as the Weave frustrated the Masked Lord's magic while enhancing Eilistraee's. The goddess temporarily took her brother's portfolio, and trapped his sentience in the Weave, where it was enfolded in a dream by Mystra. The Lady of Mysteries did that to ensure that the two drow siblings would survive the cataclysm that she knew was coming—the Spellplague—in which she would be "killed" to renew the Weave, and magic would go wild.
  2. Ed Greenwood suggests that Eilistraee actually managed to survive Halisstra's attempt to kill her, albeit much weakened. When Qilué Veladorn was killed, since the Masked Lady was inhabiting her body, a great part of her power was dragged into the Weave with the Chosen's soul (the souls of Mystra's chosen often become "Voices in the Weave" after their death, as explained in the novel Spellstorm, and their memories and experiences are shared by Mystra). After that, for about a century, Eilistraee could only manifest herself as a floating black mask surrounded by moonlight, capable of silently communicating with mortals, but not of answering prayers or granting spells (except by direct touch). After Mystra and the Weave were completely restored in 1487 DR, the goddess of magic could finally give Eilistraee her own lost power, and do the same with Vhaeraun, after having awakened him from his dream.


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