"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, a central tenet of Eilistraee's faith
With the Sundering and the return of the Dark Maiden, the Sword Dancers of Ardeep received an unmistakable message: the time had come to return and reclaim the Promenade. The years since its fall had not been kind, however, and the Moonspring network of portals was long-since devastated and disrupted. Moreover, the night they arrived in Waterdeep, as they came upon the city gates, they saw an unmistakable blessing: the Dark Maiden herself, dancing along the cliffs, above the level of the walls so that many Waterdhavians saw her, and dancing above a portion of the Field Ward.
Since then, the new temple without a temple, the Promenade-in-Exile, has taken upon itself a two-fold goal: to reclaim the Promenade, yes, but also to found a temple and dancing place above ground, within the city itself. Rather than a hidden dell tucked away in the forest, they will raise a hill within the city's walls, to show that the time for drow to take their place in the Lands of Light (even if that light is only the moonlight for some).
In pursuit of this goal, they have set up what community they can, finding homes and work for the drow of their temple within the city, and endeavoring to achieve their goals to the best of their ability. Yes, they have found allies in this – the noble elf lady Remallia Haventree, a known Harper, chief among them – but the opposition is terrible and vicious as well. Homes vandalized, and those who travel alone often attacked. But the Lady Leliana Vrinn knows that there is hard work ahead of them all, and it is work she is anxious to see underway.
Today, they meet in the Shrines of Nature during the nights of the full moon to celebrate, a favor arranged for them by Lady Remallia Haventree. They gather in one anothers' homes as they are able, or in private rented rooms of an inn or festhall sometimes. It isn't ideal, but it serves for the moment.
Rites & Celebrations
- The Flamesong: Daily Rite. A personal ritual celebrated at the end of the day, the Flamesong is the Promenade's version of the Eilistraean Evensong rite, where the worshippers finds solitude and sings to the Dark Maiden, often while treading or dancing a round about a lit candle. These rites are means of the faithful expressing their emotions and experiences directly to their goddess, and are often very cathartic after stressful or painful days.
- The Sword Dance: Any Night. Performed when a new sword is forged or acquired, the worshipper calls down Eilistraee's blessing on the sword against rusting or breaking. The sword is planted in the earth outside at night, and the faithful dances around the blade, leaning in to run each of their limbs against the edge of the new blade, lightly drawing blood. If performed correctly, the blade is not only protected from sundering or rust, but it also counts as silvered for the purpose of harming creatures; this blessing lasts for a certain amount of time. This can only be performed once per blade, no more than once a night, and the blessing is sustained only as long as the one who invoked it wields the weapon.
- Circle of Song: Any non-new Moon. A favorite sacred game in which worshippers sit in a circle, ideally in a wooded area by night and under the moonlight. The Lady of the Dance starts with a song, which everyone knows. As they feel moved, however, others take up leadership of the song and then slowly shift it into a different song, blending and merging tempos and rhythms so that the flow is natural. Faithful who feel so moved during the rite may rise to dance, particularly as the songs express what they are feeling. This rite can go on for hours, with folk fading in and out of the song as they are moved, until everyone ends hoarse and exhausted, but full of joy.
- Moonwright's Blessing: Full Moon. A simple blessing performed upon the materials that the faithful intend to use to create something. These materials must be holy to Eilistraee's faith: silver, moonstone, moonbar, and mithral, in specific. The materials become lucky and easy to work, and hold magic more readily. This is performed with a ceremony cast at the 2nd level during the full moon. The items in question are considered to be worth 25% more than their normal value for the purpose of crafting items, both magic and mundane, although their value cannot contribute to more than half of what is needed to create the item.
- The High Hunt: Once per Season. Once a season, the faithful of the Promenade venture into Ardeep Forest (usually by means of the Grand Chorus) in order to undertake a hunt. If they know of a dangerous monster, it becomes their quarry; otherwise, they undertake the hunting of a food animal. Successful capture of their quarry results the frenzy of the hunt transmuting into revelry (and a feast, if the quarry is edible). Sometimes during a High Hunt, Eilistraee sends the haunting sound of her hunting horn: the faithful know that this is her message that innocents are in danger nearby, and the High Hunt's purpose shifts to the rescue and protection of those folk, in Eilistraee's name.
- The Run: Once per Year. A sacred pilgrimage, the Run involves a journey into the world, reaching out to the communities of non-drow – particularly elves – in order to bring food, music, dance, kindness, and whatever help they might lend. These acts of good are demonstrative in nature, intended to show others the central tenet of Eilistraee's faith, although proselytization is forbidden during the Run (though sincere questions of the faithful may be answered). They often use these moments to learn the songs and recipes of those they are welcomed among. A Run usually lasts a month, although some have been known to last an entire season. Some of the Promenade's faithful joke that the entire move to Waterdeep is one great Run, and there is some truth to that jest.
- The Love-Binding: Marriage Rite. The marriage rite of Eilistraee is very involved, and taken very seriously by her clergy. Ritual nudity and dance are involved (as is the case with so many of their rites), and the marriage itself is performed with a member of the clergy, those to be wed, and at least two witnesses.
- The Last Dance: Funerary Rite. The Eilistraean rite of passing is simple, and consists of a soothing song meant to express grief and loss, but ends with a hymn meant to restore hope as well. The faithful of the Dark Maiden practice burial for their own.
- The Grand Chorus: As Needed. A high, sweet, wordless song of celebration, the Grand Chorus is raised by the clergy, supported by the laity, under the moonlight. The moonlight intensifies, and all involved are surrounded by moonfire. In the moonlight, participants can hear a thousand different songs, each one for a distant locale touched by the moon's light. If the Lady takes up one of those songs, the clergy and then the laity follow suit, and the entire gathering dissolves into moonlight and song, reappearing at the place that corresponds to the song sung. Places sacred to Eilistraee are heard most clearly during the Grand Chorus, but the faithful are careful to use this method of travel sparingly and only for sacred purposes. The Promenade most often uses this to travel to the Dancing Dell in Ardeep Forest, the holy site sacred to Eilistraee, as part of the High Hunt and the Run.
Temple Titles & Perks
- Moonfire: Rank 1. Eilistraee's faithful have access to the cantrip moonfire. Those who are able to cast cantrips of any sort may add the spell to the spell list for their class. Drow may replace their innate dancing lights ability with this cantrip, as well.
- Wardings: Rank 2. The temple's upper echelons are given magical protections by Dalnyon Ki'ntriel. These wardings are placed in the home of the individual, mostly in the form of arcane locks and glyphs of warding where appropriate and necessary.
- Lady of the Dance: Rank 2 (Renown 5+) The Lady of the Dance serves the temple as a joy-bringer and instigator of revelry. Her task is dire and under-appreciated: for the drow who seek the Lands of Light, much of life is hard and grim. It is her responsibility to see that they remember the joy in living, and to celebrate their victories and assuage the pain of their defeats through song, dance, and revelry. After a season of service as Lady of the Dance, this priestess gains the Performer Skill Feat for free.
- Councilor of the Song: Rank 2 (Renown 7+). The Councilors work under and advise the Lady of the Promenade, acting as senior priests and general leadership. The tasks needed to make the temple function are their responsibility. All Councilors are supported by the temple at a Modest Lifestyle.
- Guardian of the Moonspring: Rank 2 (Renown 7+). Only senior clergy are ever appointed this title, and those clergy must recuse themselves from the Council of Song. The Guardian of the Moonspring oversees the health and integrity of the Moonstone in the Promenade, and of the entire portal network that it is the anchor for. Unfortunately, without access to either Moonstone or network, this title remains fallow and unassigned.
- Lady of the Promenade: Rank 3. The Lady of the Promenade is the leader and high priestess of the temple, even in exile. Through there are a series of mysterious blessings and abilities given to the Lady, they do not currently manifest. The elder clergy believe this will change once they have established a new temple, although it may take something as drastic as a total reclamation of the Promenade itself. Aside from this, the Lady of the Promenade is given a small bevy of magical items as regalia, and are supported by the temple at Comfortable Lifestyle.
- Protectors of the Song: Rank 2+. Those who have proven themselves capable fighters and devotees of the Dark Maiden may be chosen as a Protector of the Song. One of the temple's eight singing swords may be given into their charge, to wield in Eilistraee's name and at the behest of the temple. This charge isn't merely a security position: the wielders of the singing swords are the vanguard of Eilistraee's devoted, giving everything they have to the protection of the faithful and remaining upstanding representatives of the goddess's ideals to the rest of the faithful. For those who are granted one of the intelligent singing swords, they are expected to be good and stalwart companions to those intelligences as well.
- Hand of the Protectors: Rank 2 (Renown 5+). Subcommanders of the Protectors, the Hands are expected to lead the Temple's defense and to help train the Protectors of the Song. They are also expected to study the lore of the Promenade, and know the history and personalities of its singing swords. Hands are maintained by the temple at a Modest Lifestyle.
- Right Hand of the Lady: Rank 2 (Renown 7+). The leader of the Protectors is responsible for the protection of the Temple, its clergy, and its laity, a tremendous task indeed. It demands of a Protector their whole attention and time. The Right Hand is supported by the temple at a Comfortable Lifestyle.
Lady of the Promenade • Rank 3
Among the few drow of the Promenade who were there at its founding, Leliana's devotion to Eilistraee has not wavered. She has lived to see miracles: the return of her goddess, the renewal of her magic, and the voice of her singing sword in her mind once more. She, too, is renewed and fiery, with a devotion to see the Dark Dancer's goals accomplished and more.
|Darkflame Sanolu Fezeera|
Councilor of Song • Rank 2
One of the two elder priestesses who aid the Lady, Sanolu is a somber, stoic woman, an incredible judge of character who is ever-watchful: the legacy of a life in Menzoberranzan as an acolyte to Lloth. When the last of that life's horrors proved to be too much, she fled into the Underdark, seeking a likely death...but found instead a light and a wordless song and a priestess of Eilistraee dancing her devotion and joy. The moment was utterly transformative for Sanolu, and she has been with the Promenade ever since. Sanolu mourns the deaths of Quilué and many others, and some of the Promenade's faithful whisper that she seems too much like the matron mothers they tried to leave behind, but no one can doubt Sanolu's devotion to both Eilistraee and the Promenade. She wields Argentsong, Quilué's own singing sword. They say that the intelligent blade and Sanolu find remedy for missing Quilué with one another.
Lady of the Dance • Rank 2
Merry and joyful, Ilutryl is the Lady of the Dance for the Promenade, ensuring that there is music available at all times, and calling for dance when it is most needed, able to overrule even the Lady in that singular request. Though new in her role, Ilutryl has shown a subtle intuition, able to reckon when everything needs to come to a halt to allow the faithful to recapture Eilistraee's promise of joy, as embodied in the dance. The young bard spends a great deal of time ministering to the faithful, and helping the newly-arrived drow get settled into Waterdeep.
Newmade Priestess • Rank 2
A young woman who witnessed the Dark Maiden's Dance over the Field Ward, Tyria has become a devotee of Eilistraee. She was the first non-drow in the Promenade to do so in Waterdeep, and has only been elevated to full priestess. Though she does not wield clerical magics, Tyria is a good hand with the blade, and takes her devotion very seriously. With her elevation, she has started dying her hair silvery-white.
Right Hand of the Lady • Rank 2
A senior Darksong Knight and a paladin of the Oath of Ancients, Prilaroth is still becoming accustomed to life in Waterdeep. She is far more comfortable in the vast green expanses of the forests, and though she would never question the wisdom to set up the in this filthy, overcrowded, stinking city, she admits that she has a hard time seeing how such could possibly be of benefit to Eilistraee. Nonetheless, hers is not to refuse, but to serve, and so she does, quite capably.
Hand of the Protectors • Rank 2
Prilaroth's second-in-command, Dalnyon is an abjuration specialist wizard. Having escaped from a far Southern drow city and emerged among the Eilistraean worshippers in the Wealdath of Tethyr, he eventually left them in search of further honing of his magical art. In the thirty years since, he has sharped that art to an impressive degree, and was among the Ardeep Dancers when they elected to pass into Waterdeep. Dalnyon works to keep the group protected magically, working wards on their gatherings, and protecting the homes of the Lady and senior priestesses.
Soft Trader at the Dark Delights festhall
Mhaeril is not the first of Eilistraee's faithful to be offered work in the soft trade of Waterdeep, but she is the first of the Promenade-in-Exile to accept the offer. Though many of her fellows are uncomfortable around the notion of her work (mostly because they have not yet shed drow cultural connotations of slavery from sex work), she exults in it, finding a strange freedom in the ability to use her sensual nature not to dominate but to simply nurture, and to gain coin for it. She is one of the largest contributors of said coin to the Promenade, and for all the discomfort some may feel, all in the Promenade honor her for her generosity.
One of the strangest of the Promenade's laity Hournor wants nothing more than to become a farmer. He hires himself out as a farm-hand in the Undercliff farms, though he has a difficult time finding work sometimes. Still, his eyes are almost entirely accustomed to the bright sun of midday, though he wears a shady hat to help with those. He is also happy to do work by night for those farmers who are hesitant to be seen employing him, working in field or orchard through the evening, and done by the time the sun rises, just in time to collect his coin at the back door. Hournor is sweet-tempered, though somewhat meek (a result of the kind of abuse someone with his personality usually suffers in drow society).
Charming and quick with his hands, Narr reveres both the Dark Maiden and the Masked Lord. With stunning good looks and a very urbane, Waterdhavian appearance, Narr's appearance at various gambling halls in the city has won him a welcome in all of them. He's something of a celebrity, an exotic curiosity with a smooth patter and winning way whether he's winning or losing.
Though she always returns to Waterdeep, Inshee spends most of her time in the wilds around the city, exploring the depths of the forests and the mountain heights. Inshee and her giant hound Slobber frequently return from such expeditions with magic or treasure for the Promenade. She doesn't have a home proper in Waterdeep, though members of the Promenade frequently take turns offering her a spot by their hearth. She is reserved and a very capable fighter. She also has several friends among the Watch.
Dark Maiden Hall
Manycuts neighborhood • South Ward
A small boarding house built around a courtyard in the South Ward, this structure is made up of a variety of old and somewhat beaten-up residences that offer cold comfort to the clergy and faithful of the Promenade-in-Exile. Worse still, the locals in the neighborhood clearly resent the sudden appearance of a "den of filthy dark elves" in their midst, to the extent that the Eilistraens have had to board up all of their outward-facing windows to protect them from being broken and things thrown through them.
At any given point in the day, there is a small gathering of locals across the street, watching the courtyard gate to the Hall. Angry muttering is the typical reaction to any of the drow showing themselves, and at night the crowd who is watching is of a rougher variety, and inclined to do more than just mutter angrily.
The boarding house is actually quite run-down and badly in need of repair.
- Many of the courtyard's cobbles are long gone, and those that do remain are cracked and crumbling. The rest of the courtyard is a welter of mud and patchy, weed grasses, with a few bits here and there where the faithful have tried to plant something wholesome.
- In the middle of the courtyard is a single full patch of a green: a small hill that the residents have raised. A commissioned statue of a woman dancing with a sword sits at the top of that small hill. The whole is surrounded by a small stone "wall" two feet in height which the residents use to sit upon, sometimes to socialize (generally seated facing outward), other times to contemplate their goddess (usually facing the statue when they do this).
- The dwellings themselves are in quite bad repair.
- Wood has dried and cracked, gone unpainted and untreated for years and years.
- Many of the rooms have holes in the floor. On the lower level, this is mostly handled by putting wood over the weak spots and covering the whole with throw rugs, but some of the upper level rooms are uninhabitable because of it. (The owners of the establishment still make the temple pay for the rental of those rooms, if they want to continue to reserve the building for their use alone.)
- Many of the walls have holes, allowing vermin in.
- Windows are badly framed, causing the place to be very hot in summer, and bone-chillingly cold in winter.
- The building has no sewer connections, forcing residents to use chamber pots and then empty them out the back gate into the flow-aways there.
- The building has no water pump; like many of the neighbors, the drow of the temple have to go into the small alley courtyard out back to use the public water pump there. Unfortunately, they receive stares and unspoken threats every time they do so.