Morose Prelude to a King: Part I
It was warm. It was ALWAYS warm. Living in this forest seemed to do that, even with how far north it was. Winters could get bad, but it was far from winter again, near the end of spring. Soon the rains would come, and the fogs when it didn’t rain. The land was always like that. It’s the main reason why they chose to settle there. It didn’t hurt that the place was secluded, blocked off on all sides by mountains that came to jagged peaks. Peaceful too, save for when the few Drow raids that occurred ripped through the silence of the night, but there hadn’t been one of those for weeks now.
It was an Elven land that much was shown in the wondrous architecture of the few cities erected out of white marble. However, few strangers saw any more of that and those that did were far fewer than even the few who managed to cross into the hidden dale. It would be odd to those accustomed to other elves. Songs of beauty and nature were never heard, instead, it seemed as if the land was in a constant state of war. The inhabitants never seemed to become lax in their vigil, always practicing in silence, only the occasion clang of a sword, or twang of a bow giving them away. The oddest thing however, was not the nature of their lives, but the Elves themselves. Their skin was onyx as a Drow, though hair and eyes held an auric hue. A race that split from the Drow before the Rifting War, a race bent on the destruction of their former brethren as much as they were bent on that of the surface Elves. They carried with them a new title, one fitting what they were. Black Elves in common tongue, Mor’quessir in the language of the Elves, and Renor Darthien in that of the Drow.
A sudden scream split the air, a long wailing that died for a moment before the same voice lifted again in a sound of horrendous pain. Each came from a large estate, from a woman whose belly was full of new life. Beside her stood her husband, dressed in finery and worry clear on his features. Behind him two children stood. A daughter and clearly the eldest carried her self with an almost regal air, clearly one who delved in politics. And a son, a lute on his back and pan flute at his side, clearly one of the few of their kind who practiced the art of song and dance. Two others graced the room, one a midwife, standing at the feet of she who was giving birth and the other a man of obvious nobility, standing at the side of the husband, clearly a friend of the family.
With a final cry, the baby was born a male and a blessing, the last child of the house, and one who destiny would adore. With a cry of new life the child bleated into the air, taking its first breaths. With tears of joy husband and wife embraced before the two men clasped each other as if brothers. It was a great joy for the House Xiloscient. A final child for the household, one to carry on the endless fight of the race. When all was clear, the other two children stepped up to view their newest brother. The eldest, Aranel, was 152 years of age, and ready to begin a family of her own. The youngest, Aegnor, was only 67, old for a human, but barely out of childhood by Elven standards. Each took pride in their younger brother, a gleam in their eyes as well.
The child grew rapidly, as do all children. His name would remain Dalhar d’ Xiloscient until his 50
birthday. The expression was always more of a title, dubbing him the Child of Xiloscient in the language of the Drow, which was used heavily by the Black Elves. He studied from a young age the art of killing, and became well versed in both two weapon fighting and the use of the longbow, as were all of the Mor’quessir. He showed great promise in his youth, and at the age of 50, he chose his new profession and his formal name. A ranger he selected to become, passing their tests with ease from a young age. As for his name, he chose something that flowed smoothly from the tongue, but held a commanding grace none the less: Fyedakin.
He lived well; his parents were wealthy and higher up in the social ladder. As a ranger he was respected. Though changing his chosen religion for Corellon Larethian to that of Ehlonna wasn’t wholly smiled upon; it was an expected move for the young lad to make. He showed great promise; perhaps enough to one day lead a raid to those forsaken depths. As it was, he was left to grow to full adult hood protecting the land from accursed raiders, and steering temporary travelers away. He enjoyed his work, the peace he earned allowing him months on his own or in a small group. Giving the young man time to think and commune with nature. He grew to be prosperous in his own ways, but as well all know, good things must eventually come to an end.
At the age of 120, the lad was chosen to participate in a raid against the Mori’quessir, Drow for those of the
uncivilized tongues. It was to prove a fateful mission. The start of it ran smoothly, Fyedakin leading the group in as a scout, guiding himself and the party with skills he spent half and a fifth of a decade learning. The first month proved fruitless, aside from a few encounters with lesser monsters of the Underdark. Then, just as the party was about to give up hope on delivering retribution, their luck made a turn. For better or worse can be argued to this day, but one thing is for sure: it changed the life of all who participated.
The party nearly stumbled across a group of traveling Drow. Only the keen senses of their scout saved the group from stumbling into what would have proved to be a very bloody situation. As it was, however, Fyedakin noticed the Drow first, and quickly informed the rest of a group. An ambush was set for the unwary foes, even though the attackers were unclear on their number. A day later the heartless beasts fell into the trap, demons who’s hair dances about like a golden shroud leaping from the very shadows they
thought safe. The band of Drow took up arms quickly, but not speedily enough, fully half of their small ranks decimated in the initial strike. A quarter of what remained were a collection of slaves, most of them being armed Drow from other parts, though two were indeed nothing more than young children.
The slaughter began, and though two of the assaulting force fell, the ambushed didn’t stand a chance. In the end, the group surrounded the two children, who clawed at a wall screaming, knowing their doom was what lay before them. Showing an uncanny sense of justice, Fyedakin took it upon himself to leap before the children, turning about into a defensive posture, growling at his companions. When it was demanded that he remove himself, he pointed out that children were no threat. Little mercy was shown however, as his former companions converged at once, a mixture of sorrow and hate in their eyes. Fyedakin was overwhelmed, quickly brought low and shackled, forced to listen to the children’s screams as they were given the same gift as the adult Drow.
With great regret the troop made their way back to the surface, dragging with them the chained form of their former scout. It was a position of dishonor that they placed him in the middle, his weapons removed from him as he was lead like a criminal to his homeland. No doubt many tears would be shed over the loss of such a promising individual.
Morose Prelude to a King: Part II
Silence. Always there was the all-encompassing silence. Even in a room such as this. The lone figure stood upon a raised dais, chained to the floor beneath him. Thirty feet away, magical lights glared at him from upon a rail. Beyond he knew where rows to seats, each one filled by all members of the city’s
populace. Even newborn babes where here to watch him be condemned. He knew they where there, but those damned lights blinded him from seeing anything beyond that rail.
A loud voice, obviously amplified through magical means, resounded throughout the chamber. Though it really needn’t have been made louder, as a whisper could have been heard clearly, it was meant to intimidate the accused, though it did little more than embolden him.
“You of the House of Xiloscient shame this entire city. You took arms against your brethren in the defense of evil incarnate. How plead you against such crimes?”
The young man glared at the crowd, as angry with them as they were with him. To be so blind was a curse they needed to lift from themselves before he’d ever bow to their will.
“I plead myself innocent against such. The arms I took up were against not simple brethren, but against madmen who sought the end of a life that was innocent of any vile taint!”
One would have expected gasps of awe at the man’s audacity. Instead, the room seemed only to thicken with that silence. It was clear that the elders were discussing amongst themselves, though their words could not be heard. Rumor had it that they had magical trinkets that allowed them to share thoughts. Once
more the first voice leapt out, though it was softer now, showing the elders knew that intimidation would fail them, perhaps though, a glimmer of kindness would garner what they needed.
“So you then admit that you bore your blades against those of your own kind. Meant to harm them to
defend such iblith. Such is treason against not just this city, but against your kind as a whole. Death is to be your sentence, you understand this, correct?”
The accused bristled at such claims, since when was defending an innocent treason? Such thoughts came before his sentence announced, and when it was he seemed to pull himself up taller, until he heard a solid wail sound from the crowd. It was heart shattering for the young man. Being a ranger he didn’t have a
love, never home often enough to think about such a course, though, the scream was clearly a woman’s. He knew who cried out with such pain. It could be no other than his very mother, her heart wrenched at such punishment. He failed to respond to the question for a long while, his shoulders slumped, realizing for what seemed to be the first time what his actions have done to his family.
They were two simple words, though they held so much weight to them. Seeming to crush both the man and the woman who carried him into the world beneath their burden. Silence filled the room again; the wailing’s of the woman having grown distance as she had been taken from the chamber. The loud voice carried forth once more.
“Take the condemned to his cell as we debate his due punishment.”
Two guardsmen moved up on either side, unlocking the restraints that held the chains to the floor. With steady movements they led the man off, wordless and formal. Fyedakin went without giving any trouble, though his head hung low. He hadn’t wished to cause his family pain through his actions. Long dark thoughts of what hell he’d be spun into upon his death for such filled his head as he was lead to a holding cell.
For a cell, it was lovely. White marble in all, with an ash bed and goose down pillow. The walls rose and converged together in a dome like shape, with a three-foot ring in the center left hollow to allow sunlight to stream in. By all other standards the room was lovely, fit for a well paying noble. The condemned was unchained while in the room, moving about freely between an ash writing desk and the bed. A pitcher of cool water was left for him, as well as a plate of fresh fruits. Even those doomed to an early end according to law were offered kindness in their last moments.
The man remained therein for two days and one more. He’d growl every now and then, amazed at how he could be so impatient to come to his own end. By the time his door was next opened, he was surprised to see not an elder, but his own father standing there, a woe filled look in his eyes. Quickly the young man rose to his feet, moving to embrace his procreator. Such actions were brushed off though, as a stern look was given his way. The wizened Elf gave to his son a pair of blades, scimitars as he had carried in his raid, and spoke not a word.
Silently the youth was lead to the edge of the city, and there he was handed a satchel, no words exchanged. Oddly enough, the city seemed deserted, no one else about to mark the event, even though the sun still drifted high over head. With a confused look, the youth looked to his elder, not understanding what was happening until the older man turned his back upon him and walked off. He was being banished, and to make his banishment worse, he was being disowned as well. The items he held were the parting gifts of the dead, given ceremoniously at funerals to honor the parting of a loved one.
With tears burning hot in his eyes and sliding cold down his cheeks, the youngster turns on his only home and marches off. The need for self-preservation was strong, and he knowledge of what would happen if he returned burned hot in his head. He was given a second chance at life, though it would be a life of solitude. Forsaken and alone, he trudged out into the world, forced by fate to leave the dale he called home.
Morose Prelude to a King: Part III
The mountains were cold; winter was fast approaching. The landscape was bleak at best, nothing but one series of exposed rock after another. It was just warm enough to keep the light snowfall from blanketing the ground in white. Each tiny flake melted the moment it touched the ground, making the way slippery and hazardous. Night would see that wetness turn to ice, and bring the threat of rockslides in the morning as the ice melted again. Greenery was sparse, though not as sparse as signs of large enough animals to provide a man with a meal. Yes, bleak summed it up nicely.
He’d been traveling for two weeks now, and still his home forest was in sight. That travel alone had taken five days, most of which was spent creating arrows and hunting enough to fill his pack. For the next two days it took to clear the forest, he hunted only as much as it took to keep him going, the meager ranger skills he had learned claiming his actions. Once clear of the forest he reached a sea of flowing grass, craggy rocks jutting through the landscape as he neared the mountains. Here he could find such beasts as rabbits and deer to fill his need for food. And there were still tubers and roots to be hand.
Not like these damned mountains. He could eat the roots of what little grew there, though it left a stinging bitter taste in his mouth for hours afterwards. He’d found the tracks of a mountain goat once, only to watch
the trail end up the slopes of an incline so steep, that he knew to attempt it would be to thrust his fate into the hands of death himself. Small birds appeared every now and then, but his skill wasn’t great enough to
catch any, and such a waste of arrows would only come to haunt him later.
So he trudged on through the bleak landscape, clinging to the tatters of clothes that hung against his form, and rationing out what little food he’d managed to fit into his pack. For five days he’d been doing so, and
now the pack was running near empty. Two weeks, and already staring death in the face. He’d expected it
to come and haunt him, though not so soon after leaving. He prayed each night that Ehlonna, his goddess, for either a quick end at the claws of one of her animals, or a saving grace in the form of food from one of them. He never doubted that she heard his prayers, though he doubted he’d receive an answer to them.
He was hungry, oh so hungry, and the cold stung him to the bone. A light blanket of snow draped the ground, even in the mid-day sun. His pack ran empty three days prior, and the thin cloth that hung from him wasn’t enough to keep him warm at night. He was fast approaching the end. That night he dragged
himself into a small cave too tired from exhaustion to even light a fire. Sleep embraced him mercifully quick, and his dreams lingered on the beauty he’d been forced to leave behind.