The Mural on the Wall
A Hundred Fold
A thin line of mineral water trickled down from a hidden reservoir above, providing the wall with a light sheen. For what seemed the hundredth time, the Liberated shook his head, trying to clear his sharp Elven senses of the fetid, cavern musk. Thousands of years of evolution allowed his nose to detect the subtle flowers and pines of the Feywild over hundreds of yards, but those were smells of life weaned in the vibrant throes of sunlight. Struggling for the most basic necessities, fauna down here, in the rank dark, choked out a meager existence, and its thick, vile scent irritated his sensibilities.
No comforting greens of carpeted grass or lush canopies welcomed his presence. Only drab browns and grays of mold or the occasional revolting purple of monolithic fungi decorated the under roads. That anything could not only survive but thrive in this wet, claustrophobic existence surprised him beyond end. He found everything that moved, grew, or crawled beneath the earth ugly and as offensive as a worm. Nothing more than parasites to be crushed against his heel.
Only for That Which Erodes would The Liberated venture beneath the earth and away from the sun’s embrace. Below brought memories most foul. Memories of serpents and chains. Torment. Long ago a fellow slave had talked of Ilmater. Of release and peace. Mayflies. What do humans know of suffering? In dark hours he’d mimed the prayers but never did he soften his soul with words. The hobbled god of humans ruled naught but a small, pathetic hill. A god of pity. What good could come from such a being when his Elven heart had known naught but rage?
The Liberated twisted his spear in the soft, low light emanating from phosphorescent shrooms. Known as Celaer Thyr (Hundred Fold), the spear had been crafted in old times for those who refused to fall back before the endless hordes of Grummush. It remained in the hands of guerillas who vowed to saturate every inch of lost forest with orc blood. Years later when the tides changed, the returning elves were shocked how feral his ancestors had become and labeled them the Jhyl Masi (Long Stares). Yet, now it was his long fingers that gripped Celaer Thyr… And once more had it tasted vengeance.
That Which Erodes understood as well as he. Steel is forged in fire. Trial. Hardship. It had crafted his people; made them strong. Stronger than the elves who fled to isles of magic and clung to decadent civilization. While few Jhyl Masi remained to pass on their stories, The Liberated had survived a similar ordeal and could to testify as to the results. Yaun-ti had served as his crucible, and in him, burned away all impurities. That Which Erodes would see mankind walk their own proving ground. The Liberated held no love for round ears; couldn’t care less. But the yuan-ti lay smashed, maddened and clawing at their own twisted faces. In return, The Liberated would see Thelek’s plan come to pass a hundred fold.