Lael'essthrae Xund'lara Torviir
“Tighter!” Barked our Lady.
We had set up camp for the night after our battle with the Black Hand Drow we had encountered earlier by a farmstead. Lady Lael had taken a minor indury and now it was Donnathan’s job to patch her up.
But the human within him must of confused his sensibilities, his hands unsure of how to touch and his eyes unsure where to fall as he fumbled with the bandage at the Drow female before him naked from the waist up.
His incompetence was starting to rub our Lady the wrong way as she sat on a bed of pelts before the campfire.
Donnathan is a strange one, You would think living among a commune of Eilistraee worshipers where being naked is common he would have adjusted by now.
But since the day he came to us, slung over Lady Lael’s Giant Lizard unconscious and chained he always seemed off. We never questioned where he came from and he never seemed to wish to return.
All are welcome in the Dark Maidens arms. Though some would not have it that way, it is not her way.
As soon as Lady Lael announced she was leaving for a pilgrimage of good will out into the world (Although I always sensed she was searching for more the growing dissatisfaction in her life grew stronger each full moon) he was eager to lay his services to her. Whether it is because he wished to return to once he came or feel indebted to her I cannot say.
I myself was not sat too far away, trying to teach the Lady’s Squire, Nymgath, the fine art of Dragon Chess. As much as she aspired to be like our Lady she lacked all necessary graces, such as losing graciously.
“And with my Paladin your King has no where else to go Nymgath. Checkmate.” With a hiss she pushed over her king, pushing over board with her negligence.”
I tut and sigh, picking up the pieces from the floor, it is not my place to chastise her.
No, my place is to be guidance to our Lady, while she is not the pious of crusader, I try my best to keep our ladies teaching and reject the years of damage Lolth did to our kind. It is easier for an old man like myself to do so. Years of quiet meditation and temperance I know the young struggle with their lusts and impulsiveness.
Only one as aged as myself can truly appreciate how much we the Ilythiiri have enslaved ourselves with our wicked ways and how Eilistraee is truly the path to our redemption.
Nymgath is the raw essence of it, Lady Lael more tempered but still the instinct pumps the blood through her veins. She is quick to anger and even quicker to fall into melancholy.
By now Donnathan had binded Our Lady’s wound and she had settled back into her bedroll. He offered her a wooden bowl and she pushed it away.
“Please m’lady, sleep will make you heal quicker.” He said with one of his sniffs offering it back to her mouth.
Once again in her stubborn way she pushed it back. “ Don’t be a halfwit, we are too close to the mountains and we have encountered a Drow raiding party. We need all eyes on tonight’s watch.”
By now I have stood up, each one of my joints creaking as I did so so and came over to where our Lady was to rest for tonight.
Taking the bowl from Donnathan I dismissed him with a flick of my wrist.
The boy scampered and I settled beside her, cup in hand and an unimpressed look on my face.
She looked sidelong at me, her unnatural and unsettling blue eyes still filled with the smouldering determination she carried with her most days.
“Don’t chastise me old man.” She warned her voice low and raspy.
“As if I would dare.” I responded calmly offering the bowl once more. “Sometimes, you must trust in others to take care of you, as Eilistraee teaches, to distrust in your kind is one of the six lies the spider queen uses to keep us trapped…”
Her expression softened as she heeded me, she sat up and took the bowl with contempt.
“Only on the condition that you no longer lecture me.” She knocked back the milky liquid. Back, hardly wincing at its smell and assumed bitter taste.
“As my Lady wishes.” I replied dutifully pressing my fist to my heart and bowing my head.
I watched her for a moment as she rested back and stared at the starry sky through the hole in the canopy.
“I wonder…” She began. “If i’ll find the destiny I am searching for.”
Her eyes had quickly lost their fire and they looked glassy, our Lady was no longer looking at the stars but beyond them. Each time her lids of her eyes closed they stayed closed for a fraction longer.
We had spent our time on the road, traveling either by night or through the thick woodland to compensate for our frailty in the sunlight. This had been the first time in months we had rested at night.
I placed my hand tenderly on her head. “Shh, child. Rest now.” On command her eyes gave up their fight to stay open and a rare smile spread across her mouth.
Returning back to Nymgath I surveyed our small camp, Donnathan was tending to the fire and dinner.
“It seems you will not learn sword and shield tonight.” My assumption was correct as the young drow women before more folded her arms and seemed to pout harder than she was previously.
“Perhaps before we begin our watch we should continue learning of House Torvirr and education on the matter.”
With a tut and a sigh, she crossed her legs and sat diligently in front of me, despite a look that she wanted to do anything else but.
“Let us begin.” I said before clearing my throat. “How old is House Torviir?” I questioned Nymgath.
“We can trace our line back to the fourth Crown War.”
“Good.” I remarked. “And our Sigil?”
“A sword a Moon disguised by flame, those who do not know would just think flame was our Sigil.”
I nodded in agreement “And why is that?”
“Because Torviir hides in plain site.” I was disappointed by how hollow her words were, as if she did not truly know the meaning of what she said, I pushed her further.
“What is our purpose?”
She paused for a moment her eyes widening, She didn’t know, but would never admit to it. I answered for her. “Born from Darkness to be the light within.”
I settled myself more comfortably on the wooden log I had chosen for my perch for the night and prepared to give a long history lesson.
“After the end of the Fourth Crown War, We the Iilitheri were banished from Corellon Larethian’s Grace, a ritual was set upon the Ilitheri which corrupted all Dark Elves. Even Corellon’s daughter Eilistraee. And so driven underground to the mercy of fallen Araushnee. Eilistraee, despite being cleared of all charges to kill her father, followed her people into the depths, knowing they would need her most against her mother’s wickedness. Torrviir was one of those cused houses, that followed Eilistraee into the depths, to help Drow who wish to escape the Spiders web and be free as we are supposed to be. To one day lead the way when we claim back our birthright.”
It seemed I had Nymgath’s attention she sat quietly absorbing all I had to share, As I did with our Lady when she was the same age. A smile crossed my lips as I remembered the feisty young female, with fierce blue eyes and a skill for the sword. A Magical Mute, but the skill to be a fantastic fighter and Darksong Knight if she so choose.
Nymgath seemed to catch me looking back at where our Lady slept and took the opportunity to steer an old man’s nostalgia for her own gain.
“Tell me again, the story of why her eyes are blue.” She half whispered so Donnathan did not hear, I must have told Nymgath the tale several times over.
“It is not a story, It is true, I witnessed it.”
A look of disbelief crossed her face and she folded her arms. She was baiting me, knowing I would take it.
“I know the rumors, that her Sire is some elf, or that the Torvirr line is not as pure as we claim. I witnessed the Coupling of Lady Ivara and Spiraonar as is customary for first daughters to do when they choose a mate, as our Matron did before her and every Matron back. Our Lady’s Sire is the same as her sisters.”
I said with a nod, Nymgath was quite lucky, she was not the first born daughter of her line and was only loosely related, 4th cousin twice removed. She did not have to grow up with the responsibility first daughters did.
“That’s not the the tale Old man, tell it right!” Nymgath demanded a little louder, the Donnathans head pricked up from his work, before he realised it did not concern him.
“Very well… “ I said, rubbing my chin. Sometimes I fancied what I may look like if i could grow a white beard.
“The night she was born, the moon was full, we had sent a trail of scouts to the surface several times, to ensure our time keeping was correct. This was a very Good Omen. However at this point Lady Ivara had already laboured 4 days to bring her child into the world, she was growing weaker by the hour. Spiraonar, originally had been banished from the birthing chamber in the house, in Menzoberranzan as is customary.. But at the second day and Lady’s Iara’s screams had shaken the walls non stop, he came, threatened and even spoke to Matron Vicdiira with such entitlement, one would expect him to be slaughtered for the disrespect. Or so I am told.”
Nymgaths eyesbrow were high on her face in disbeleif. I nodded.
“There was a reason Spiraonar, sired all of Lady Iara’s children, it was not only just because he was dab hand with magic.” I would not utter more than that,out of respect for them, but it was obvious to all who saw them. That despite it all, they have found comfort within each other.
“It was the 3rd day they sent for me, they asked me to come and scribe, all of Lady Iara’s wishes for her child, we did not expect her to live. Yet another good Omen, for a child to take the life of it’s mother so young, but there was still concern for it was not truly our way. I came and listened to her words, recorded the names she wished for her daughter, the path she would lead, who would be her guardians would be etc.
Lady Iara’s voice was so horse, between cries of pain, exhaustion and delirium. But she laboured on and then on the fourth day when the moon was fall, we welcomed the next generation of matrons. But there were no wailing cries.”
I remembered watching Spiraonar clasping Lady Iara’s hands to his chest, as his other arm braced her back as he held her up. ‘Why isn’t she crying?’ I hear Lady Iara explain, in a voice barely a whisper.’Shh,s he’s fine’ Spiranar consoled, ‘it’s a girl?’ ‘of course.’ I did not share the tender moment I was not supposed to witness with Nymgath, but I remember being awashed with sadness and heartache to see a pair so bonded.
“Yes, I know that bit! Get to the good bit!” Nymgath exasped snapping this old fool from his memories.
I smiled wearily, my eyes burning from the fires brightness. I rub them gently.
“The child, was pale, thin and silent and not breathing. Matron Vicdiira was in the corner with the other elders of our house, your mother too. As they all floundered to cox the child to life using all manner of magic and massage.
Yet no cries came, what felt like hours but were surely minutes and despite the risk a mournful song broke out among them, Lady Ivara soon followed with a chilling and soul crushing cry. Spiraonar, did his best to cradle her and muffle her wails.”
I paused then, to observe Nymgath, she was sitting perfectly still completely infatuation, her eyes widened as I paused and she gestured to move me on. I obliged.
“I do not know how long she had been there, or when she came. But I was the first to see her standing there.”
“Who?” Nymgath exclaimed completely enthralled, she knew the answer but this was clearly her favourite part.
“At first I didn’t know, but there she was, dressed in a cloak of stars, her face hidden in shadow, long ebony limbs protruding from cloak as she approached. She was nine feet tall, in my terror a drew a dagger. A sultry chuckle, as equally long arm reached out to touch it, it degraded into a pool of silver.” I remember thinking at the time, I had lost my good dagger. I was mournful for it.
“The stranger brushed past me and I fell to my knees sobbing has her hand graced my shoulder, sobbing overwhelmed with the feeling the touch had left. It was then I knew who it was within the birthing chamber with us.”
“Eilistraee!” Nymgath squealed with delight.
“The very same, she approached the elder women and outstretched her arms, her voice was so musical and the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
She asked for the child, Matron Vicdiira who was cradling the child cowered before her handed the tiny bundle over. Disrobing she cradled the child to her chest and approach both lady Iara and her mate.”
“‘She lives.’ was all I heard, as I was still overcome with emotion But it was as she kissed the silent child on her head and the cry of life filled her lungs, Spiranor told me later that the babe eyes changed forever from a dark red to a strong azure, matching the women who held her.”
I rolled my shoulder to stop their aching and to moisten my mouth as I spoke.
“‘She will do many great things, in my name.’ Eilistraee cooed as she passed the crying babe to her mother who was desperate to hold her.”
I shifted on my temporary wooden seat and felt my old bones creak under the strain of sitting still too long.
“Go and rest now Nymgath, You have stolen enough of this old man’s time. I will take first watch.”
With her sulking manner, she settled down in her own bed roll, neglecting another night to practise her reverie. They say it is harder for the Ilithire to achieved due to our cursed status, but the young always falter in the discipline it takes to push one’s mind to that higher state of bliss, rest and retribution. I looked up at the moon, finding it at the midheaven point.
I settled by the fire, kneeling, sword in hand, feeling tired myself as I felt my mind start to wonder, as that is what happens when you are old. The past becoming the place you frequent more than the present.
My mind thought back to how things had changed so much in the day. Watching the Little Lady, grow to adulthood, studioius in only the topic that she cared for, love of the hunt and dance. Comfortable upon the back of a giant lizard and skilled with the sword. Fiercely independent and determined. Yet she had one failing, that all were puzzled by, her sire an able and skilled wizard her line, enriched with the same magical blood and yet at three and half centuries she cannot cast even the most simplest of spells.
My mind flicked back to nights spent in the archives with Spiraonar looking for reasons, solutions, actions to take to awaken the power within her blood. By then Lady Iara was bless with another daughter, the second born, Triel’baste. Who in her young years, showed much magical promised and depth. All attention turned from the first born, all apart from Matron Vindiira.
I am certain, although Lady Lael has never uttered a single word to give truth to my thoughts, that it was this rejection that lead to her wanderlust, her unease with her family and the rejection of her noble duties.
But as I briefly touched on her Matron Grand mother had other plans for her, she was beautiful, skilled and the perfect subject to further the houses advancement in Menzoberranzan. It was as Lael was reaching her adulthood that it was announced that the young Lady will perform the blooding. For house, glory and Lolth…
I couldn’t begin to fathom her reasons, there were many possibilities, but it was not my place to question such a bold move.
Disgusted by the announcement of her mother and the refusal for her firstborn daughter to perform such a barbaric ritual to honour the Tyrant Poisoner The lady Iara did something, that I think we all regret now.
Under the cover of Narbondel’s Black Death, she took, myself, her daughters, her mate and half the houses wealth, servants, and riding lizards and we fled to the surface.
Guided only by her own divination and the song she heard in head.
We eventually found our way to the surface and the place we now call home, a small patch of land in the high forest near a cavern in the shining mountain. Our secret conclave and temple now boasts 50 members, Drow, Elven and the like, we hold peace with our local neighbours, we do not trouble them and in the like they leave us be.
It;’s a place, of quiet reflection and beauty and i find myself missing it if only being parted from the land for a half year…
Sudden a snap of a twig raises my awareness of my surroundings. The moon is no longer where I had last seen it. Did I slip into a reverie with all my musings? I grip the hilt of the sword on my lap and stand, peering into the darkness.
And there they stood, eight of them, pearly white teeth grinning menacingly from their ebony faces.
I’d realised my folly too late.
I stripped off the robe, I wore revealing an aging body. What age had stolen of its youthfulness it had not stolen my strength, as i rose my blade each of the many silvery scars glistened in the moonlight, markings of the many battles I had fought, won and lived.
The flew at me and I was ready to meet them, until I felt a sharp pain in my back, I had forgotten to check my flank. My sword arm let loose its weapon and i felt sapped of strength, I knew the poison of my people well.
As I collapsed on the floor, I heard the cries of Nymgath and Donnathan, nothing from our drugged Lady. My world was fading fast as the sleep took me, I did not have the youth or constitution to fight it.
Goddess forgive me for being the old fool I am, may my lady find pity for me and forgive the hell I have now doomed her too. Eilistraee protect her…