The trio of travelers started down the narrow stairs, which were black stone steps that had been carved
directly into the steep wall of the pit. Lethagas took the lead, followed by Gilthanas and then Sir Gavin. After
two dozen steps, the route led to a small platform, like a balcony overlooking the obscure depths of the pit.
More stairs led down from there, and they passed a succession of such platforms, dropping deeper and
deeper into the cylindrical cavity. They couldn't see the bottom, but they began to make out outcrops of rock
"There she is—Alla!" cried Leth, abruptly racing down a dozen stairs to come to another platform. Here no
further steps led down deeper into the pit, but as he arrived at his companion's side Gilthanas, too, saw the elf
Alla was sprawled upon the top of an obelisk of rock thirty or forty feet below. She lay spread-eagled, on her
back. Her eyes were closed, but she did not have any visible wounds.
"By all the gods—if's she's hurt I'll kill every cultist in this hole!" Lethagas cried.
"Too late, I'm afraid ... we already did the job for you."
The three companions whirled to confront a tall Dark Knight standing on one of the platforms just above
them. The man was dressed in black armor, even to the grotesque mask that fully concealed his face. Other
Knights, the armor less elaborate in decoration but just as complete in coverage, flanked their leader and
glared impassively down at the two elves and the Solamnic Knight.
Lethagas choked out a strangled curse but Gilthanas spoke loudly, before the younger elf could do
"Whom did you kill?" he asked.
"Three of them, the cultists of Raekel's Pit. They were little more than children, really. They lived like
savages in that valley up above. Still, the wench among them was a handsome thing—too bad she fought so
hard that we had to kill her." "You butchers! What have you done to Alla?" cried Leth.
"Why, nothing at all." The Knight raised his voice, shouting down into the pit. "Isn't that right, my dear?"
"Of course." Alla's voice was as firm, as strong as ever.
When Gilthanas looked back, he saw that the elf maid had risen to stand easily atop her obelisk of rock.
She waved mockingly to the speechless trio as one of the Knights threw down a rope. She scampered up the
line like an acrobat, some distance away from the platform where Leth, Gilthanas, and Sir Gavin watched in
"She's mad ... under some dark spell!" gasped the young elf, finally, before calling out to her. "Alla—beware
She only laughed, and let go of the rope as several Knights assisted her to stand next to their captain. "Oh,
Lethagas," she chided. "You're such a child. Still, it was fun to toy with you for awhile." Touching the captain on
his broad shoulder, she struck a coy pose beside the burly human. "But it's here, with the Dark Knights, that the
future lies—mine, Qualinesti's, and all Krynn's. I have made my choice, and my master is called Khellendros
now. You should have made yours, as well... though it will be up to Fate to see where it carries you."
With a groan the young elf covered his eyes and dropped to his knees.
"Why?" Gilthanas demanded. "Why did you do it?"
"Why, she did it to bring you to us, of course," said the Knight commander. "She was an important part of a
scheme that has been in place for many years. Perhaps you will be interested to know that she is the stalker
who accompanied the assassins you encountered earlier in your journeys."
"Why do you wantme?" asked the prince.
"It's not us," said the Knight, "But someone who will pay a good price for you. Still, our own Order will rest
more comfortably in Qualinesti, knowing that you are safely out of the way."
"Vile treachery!" shouted Sir Gavin. "You shall not have us!"
Before Gilthanas could stop him, the elder Knight drew his sword and charged up the stairs. Two much
younger warriors clad in black armor, each with a great blade raised, met him. Sir Gavin hacked at the first one,
knocking him off the stairs. With a hysterical scream, the Dark Knight toppled into the depths of Raekel's Pit.
But the other Knight was ready. His blade cleaved down, cutting deeply into the elder warrior's shoulder. Sir
Gavin fell face first, slipping back down the stairs, leaving a trail of fresh blood.
"We can fight them!" Lethagas hissed, rising and stepping to Gilthanas's side. "Take them down—or die
The prince sighed. He gestured to the array of Knights glaring down at them, easily two score blocking their
route out of the pit. And how many more were lurking in the valley without?
"We have been captured." Gilthanas glared at Alla. "Betrayed, true, but only captured. Now is not the time
Leth grimaced in reluctance, but made no move to advance.
"I surrender to you," declared Gilthanas, drawing the sword of Purstal and holding it, hilt first, before him.
"Though if the dungeons of Silvanesti couldn't hold me, I doubt that yours will do any better."
Alla laughed, while the Dark Knight took Gilthanas's sword with a good-natured shrug. "It's only for a short
time," he said. "And then the blue dragon will decide what to do with you."
"As to Silvara," teased the elf maid, as a rope was secured around Gilthanas's wrists. "It seems that she will
just have to wait."