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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.[7]

Geography

The temple was composed of four major caverns. One cavern contained multiple buildings that were used as living quarters for the faithful. Another cavern named the Cavern of Song served as an open amphitheater used for songs and celebrations dedicated to Eilistraee. The third cavern consisted of living quarters for the priestesses. The fourth cavern was mostly occupied by the temple guards, storehouses, and armories. A large side cavern connected the Cavern of Song with Eilistraee's Mound. Within stood a large statue portraying the Dark Maiden (but actually modeled on Qilué Veladorn's appearance) and sculpted from a mound of rock. Next to the main temple was the Hall of Healing (a former temple of Moander that had been destroyed by worshipers of Tyr). This section was used as a place to shelter and tend to the temple's wounded and all those who were rescued by the Dark Ladies (including adventurers lost in the Undermountain). North of the Hall of Healing was a small cavern that was the destination of a one-way portal connecting to the sixth level of the Undermountain used to deliver 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 races who were more frequently than not met with prejudice and hostility.[8]

Organization

Those of the Promenade of the Dark Maiden were led by High Priestess Qilué Veladorn, youngest of the Seven Sisters, a Chosen of Mystra and also a Chosen of Eilistraee. 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 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.

In the 1360s DR, their commander was Elkantar Iluim, consort of Qilué; Iljrene Ahruyn was their sub-commander, the Hand of the Protectors. They numbered 24 drow (9 females), 9 dwarves, 27 humans (12 females), and 4 halflings,[8][9] but many others would join them in the following years, increasing the population to several hundreds.[2]

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 semi-sentient, powerful magical weapons, with augmented durability, and sharp edges. The blades constantly sang when unsheathed (but could be silenced by the wielder), providing a defense against mind-affecting attacks or spells, and warning of impending danger.[10]

Activities

Daily Activities

Daily activities in the temple mostly consisted of food-growing, temple building or 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".[8][11] 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.[10][12]

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 in 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.[12]

The Grand Chorus

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.[12]

The Call to Eilistraee

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.[12]

The Flamesong

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 extinguished. 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".[12]

Freeing Slaves

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.[3]

Besides the various slavers, the Chosen also had dangerous enemies and their nemesis in the worshipers of Ghaunadaur. The worshipers 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.[12]

History

Early History

When the founder of the Promenade was 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 awaited them, as the Dark Maiden manifested again, asking to destroy the Pit of Ghaunadaur, a mile-deep shaft connected 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, a symbol of Eilistraee's favor, Qilué led her companions from the 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 a silvery fire burned away at the evil god, until he fled for his 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, not permanently defeated, and that he would one day try to return. 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."[13]

Foundation

The Pit itself was filled with rubble and the caverns around its openings had collapsed (The Pit was located in an area north of Skullport 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 Eilistraee (the title that the crow had given themselves) started to regularly patrol the region, checking for signs of Ghaunadarran 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 later built).[13]

Although the construction continued, the temple was largely completed and habitable by the end of 1357 DR. After the temple had been finished, the Chosen of Eilistraee had kept patrolling the surrounding tunnels of Halaster's Halls, but with the added security of a safe refuge.[3][14]

1360s DR

In the same year, 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.[15] The 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 to the Promenade. Lolth destroyed the wards that Qilué and the other priestesses had been preparing for years.[16]

In 1368 DR, the Promenade came under attack by cultists of Ghaunadaur who led a full-scale assault on the temple that lasted for several months, before the assailants were driven off.[14]

1370s DR

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. 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 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 and of the followers who lived there or were visiting.[10]

The battle also caused the seals on Ghaunadaur's prison to break and his avatar to escape, even though it would be soon tricked into attaching itself to a fleeing[Nightshadow. He sacrificed himself, going through a portal that led to "a plane of endless mazes" and dying in the process, to trap the avatar there.[10]

Reclamation

Trelasarra Zuind, informal leader of the Promenade as of the 1490s DR.

After the event known as the Second Sundering, in the 1480s DR, Eilistraee managed to return to life, and manifested to her followers through her avatar, leading to a resurgence of her worshipers' activities.[17][18] After returning, Eilistraee personally appeared under the walls of Waterdeep, leading many of her followers to travel to the city. Some of them found the support of Remallia Haventree and started creating a forest-temple, named The Dancing Haven, within Waterdeep itself.[19] While originally meant to be created in the Field Ward of Waterdeep, due to the chaotic developments of that area, the Dancing Haven was temporarily moved to the North Ward. The Eilistraeens planted and grew a small grove of trees within an abandoned, roofless building, and then used it as a temple and base of operations.[5]

From there, the moondancers led a series of expeditions to cleanse, rebuild and resupply the Promenade. In the 1490s DR, a dozen priestesses, four novices, and nine lay guardians populated the temple; Trelasarra Zuind was their (informal) leader.[5][20] Few knew of the restored Promenade (aside from followers of Eilistraee), but rumors regarding it restoration spread in Skullport.[5][21]

Notable Inhabitants

Appendix

Appearances

Magazines
Dragon magazine 176: "If You Need Help, Ask the Drow!"
Novels
Daughter of the DrowWindwalkerSacrifice of the WidowStorm of the DeadAscendancy of the Last
Boardgames
Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Eric L. Boyd, Ed Greenwood, Christopher Lindsay, Sean K. Reynolds (June 2007). Expedition to Undermountain. Edited by Bill Slavicsek. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7869-4157-5.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Eric L. Boyd, Ed Greenwood, Christopher Lindsay, Sean K. Reynolds (June 2007). Expedition to Undermountain. Edited by Bill Slavicsek. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 36. ISBN 978-0-7869-4157-5.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 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. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Ed Greenwood (2020-03-03). Ed Greenwood on Twitter. Retrieved on 2020-03-03.
  6. Ed Greenwood (1995). The Seven Sisters. (TSR, Inc), p. 61. ISBN 0-7869-0118-7.
  7. Joseph C. Wolf (1999). Skullport. (TSR, Inc), p. 16. ISBN 0-7869-1348-7.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 12–16. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
  9. Elaine Cunningham (July 2003). Daughter of the Drow (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 319. ISBN 978-0786929290.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  11. Ed Greenwood (December 1991). “If You Need Help - Ask the Drow!”. Dragon #176 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 16–24.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Ed Greenwood (1995). The Seven Sisters. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-0118-7.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Ed Greenwood (1995). The Seven Sisters. (TSR, Inc), p. 58. ISBN 0-7869-0118-7.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
  15. Elaine Cunningham (July 2003). Daughter of the Drow (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786929290.
  16. Elaine Cunningham (April 2003). Windwalker (Hardcover). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 102. ISBN 0-7869-2968-5.
  17. Steve Kenson, et al. (November 2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 23, 108. ISBN 978-0-7869-6580-9.
  18. Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-04-17). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
  19. Ed Greenwood (2016-06-07). Death Masks. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-6593-2.
  20. Personalities from the Forgotten Realms Magic Set. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2021-07-20.
  21. Ed Greenwood (2016-11-09). Ed Greenwood on Twitter. Retrieved on 2016-11-09.
  22. Elaine Cunningham (July 2003). Daughter of the Drow (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 320. ISBN 978-0786929290.
  23. Elaine Cunningham (July 2003). Daughter of the Drow (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 321. ISBN 978-0786929290.
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