As her body fell limp, she felt nothing anymore.
Raevid held her for a long few seconds more. His elite stood silent on the first floor, watching their master in his weakest and strongest moment. His voice was choked. He couldn't even so much as give a single order. The sound of soft weeping came from his side and all Raevid could offer to console the little prodigy was a single caress of his head, black fingers across white hair.
Raevid shifted Giselle's body. It fell without control. The arm across her back passed over the gaping hole in her flesh. The gown would forever be stained with blood. There was no reason for Simic to clean it this time. She would stand before Lloth as the warrior she was, even if Giselle never saw it in herself. His forearm grew tacky with her blood as it cooled and thickened. There came the resounding 'plink, plink' noise of her blood as it lazily dripped from her body, hitting each of the stairs on the spiral staircase.
His elite stepped back as Raevid walked steadily toward the back entrance. They parted, like a dark sea, and followed behind. Not a word spoken. Raevid carried Giselle in front, followed at his side by a tearful child, choking on his sorrow. The drowesses fell side by side behind Raevid. Phyxdriira muttered prayers for their deceased sister. T'risstyrr was silent as a spirit. The following elite, covered in enemy blood followed behind, each step soundless.
The temple garden opened wide before them. Deeper into the city square the time pillar began relighting, sending a ghostly glow over their quiet procession. It grew, person by person. Wakening drow, stumbling back to some semblance of health now that their bodies had a chance to rest, followed with curiosity. Those that Giselle healed before, those that stood behind and waited to see the fate of Leiah Latok, filed in from dark corners, alleyways of the city. And the Drothen, taller and thinner, sickly white, meshed along with the others in this death parade.
A great well, a resting place for only the greatest of sacrifices, rest at the back of the garden. Long unused, the many spiders of the underdark, large and small, had reclaimed it. These creatures were the only ones worthy to feast upon the bodies of such grand and noble sacrifices, so they were left undisturbed. And their webs created a thick, white drapery, placed in naturally beautiful ways, across the well, from the painstakingly carved stone arch above it to the lip and opening below.
The procession stopped following as Raevid approached. The only one that chose to brave it a few steps closer was Banth, who stopped as well, allowing his master to finish the funeral march alone. Standing in front of the well, Raevid paused. Giselle's lifeless body was cold in his arms, still pliable, something that wouldn't last long. But her physical form would not last long anyway, judging by the way the largest of the spiders, easily larger than Giselle herself, crawled down the webbing, waiting for its free meal.
Raevid pressed his lips against her cold brow, golden hair disrupting the touch of flesh on membrane. But it was a part of her, and Raevid had not the emotions to be annoyed. His eyes followed upward to the spider above, watching the way it crawled and hesitated.
"Lloth. Your sacrifice is made. The prophesy has come to be. You are a great and powerful goddess, and we, your faithful, thank you for our second chance. May we be forever successful as we face each challenge the future holds. With this sacrifice, we celebrate a new order of drow civilization."
Raevid shifted Giselle in his arms. Her head fell forward, her chin resting on her chest, as his hands came up underneath her arms. His lean, tall form stretched, giving up the offering, and the large spider above him accepted it, hinged legs hooking her arms, pulling her up and into the spider webbing. Raevid turned away as the fangs were bared, his whole form flinching as the spider buried its venom into her once beautiful form. Then it began turning Giselle's corpse, rolling her in that long thread of white silk that it made from its backside.
Raevid turned and walked down the stairway. It was too much. He had followed her prophesy. He would find the Great Drow Savior. And he would make the largest sacrifice. He would give up the one soul that fit his. He would have to give her to Lloth. Love, life, future, sacrificed for his people. When he agreed to it, he had thought it would be easy. He would trade his own happiness, his future, for that of his race. He just didn't realize how hard it would be until faced with it.
His eyes scanned the people before him. This was a moment when a grand speech might be perfect. And a moment that Raevid had celebrated in his head time and time again. He thought he would be prepared to welcome the new civilization, the rise of the drow from mere hunter and murderer to something grander, something that celebrated Lloth with respect and understanding far more so than fear.
However, there were no words. There was nothing but silence as he stood and looked over a mix of Drow and Drothen. Sworn enemies. Stood now side by side with no words to make this moment better. To mark it with more than silence and the soft weeping of the little boy standing not far in front of Raevid. The master of the rogue elite found no joy here. Despite saving his kin, this would remain a dark day for Raevid.
One might judge the same for Banth. The prodigy was unable even to tear his eyes away from the sight behind Raevid. Where as the adult drow could not raise their eyes, and Raevid turned his back, Banth watched. His little mouth holding a continual frown, his bottom lip quivering while streaks of tears slipped from those light purple eyes. They stained his face, leaving trails that Giselle, if alive, would bend to kiss away from his features.
So no one was surprised when he screamed. The prodigy's body jumped, his bloodshot eyes falling wide. Raevid saw his little muscles tense, reading his intentions before his body moved to make them into action. So when Banth ran for the spider and the holy webbing behind Raevid, the master swooped down upon him, gripping the boy by his sides just as he dove for the well.
"No! Banth! The sacrifice is made. Let us lose no more blood this-" But Banth was pointing, screaming absolute gibberish at the spider, which had begun to back away from the tidy white package, the silken shroud, that surrounded that which was once Giselle.
He didn't want to look. But the knee-jerk reaction took hold and Raevid's eyes fluttered to the package where the love of his life, the vessel of his future, lie. And he couldn't help the shocked scream that escaped his mouth either. Those grey-violet eyes fell open in near terror.
A black arm, shapely and muscled, even soft, flailed from the wrapping. Fingers gripped several of the strands before coming back to her tight shroud, clawing it to shreds. Torn and thrown away, the body inside gasped as fresh air rushed the face inside. A familiar face, now with darkened skin and purple eyes that stood on the verge of blue in color. But familiar!
Raevid almost passed out. If not for his grip on the prodigy, whose squirming somehow anchored his hold on reality. Even so, fainting seemed like a wonderful option right about now.
He received no answer, which perhaps made Raevid more nervous than had she remained dead. This might be a blessing. But it could as easily be a punishment, Lloth using the sacrificed to bring a new matron, perhaps cruel and cold, out to rule Leiah Latok. Perhaps there was nothing that remained of his Giselle.
The silken shroud was torn apart, displaying a nearly naked form. Her clothing, between the blood, the stab wound and the spider bite, displayed across her lower abdomen, was in as terrible a condition as the spider's sack. The drowess before them, rebirthed from Giselle's corpse, was both beautiful and frightening. A thin waist opened to wide, rolling hips, something one might expect on a human. She looked much like she retained Giselle's skeletal structure, but lost some of the weight that Giselle carried.
The form slid on her stomach down from the webbing, the large spider no longer anywhere to be seen. Naked feet found the ground, stumbling as she stepped back and tried to regain balance that her body perhaps needed to relearn. She crossed those arms over her chest, her breasts pressing plump, much larger than was normal, against her forearms.
Raevid could not move, still gripping Banth, though this time holding to the back of the prodigy's shirt. Banth, too, seemed at a loss for words, his mouth open, unwilling to approach that which might not be his queen any longer. The drowess gasped as she struggled to stand, then shook the clinging webs from her hands. Her ankles crossed and another stumble before she fell into a position that Banth recognized before Raevid did.
The prodigy ripped himself from Raevid's hold. He was at the drowess' side in the next second, assisting her in standing up from her wide spread stance. His voice spoke in whispers, but even Raevid couldn't hear that which made the drowess' ears twitch with the sound of his little voice.
"I don't understand what's going on," came a voice so familiar that every hair on the back of Raevid's neck stood on end. Banths little hand reached for hers, catching a wrist, pulling it in front of her face. Long, graceful fingers stretched and spread wide as she looked down at black skin. Her mouth granted her a gasp and she reached for Banth, the idea of her body having changed, but that she still held control over it, coming together in her moment of shock. She caressed his cheek, with Banth offering her the first smile she'd seen in a long while, before she reached for her own body.
Those same hands fell over her abdomen, digging into the damaged clothing to find a flat stomach. And it was, perhaps, in this second, that Raevid realized what had happened. Now it was his turn to stumble forward, pulling Giselle's weight into his arms. She rest there with the ease of familiarity as the girl began to sob. She, too, perhaps realized what happened. Or may haps she was still in shock.
Twitch marched into the throne room, standing before the womyn who sat proudly on the gem encrusted seat. In his usual silence, he fell to one knee, bowing with the straight back and deep pause that came with such a gesture of respect. His actions- coerced what he knew was a giggle. The Queen Matron hid her face behind one hand, shaking her head slightly.
"You know better, Twitch. Greet me as a friend."
~Yes, I know. But you are my matron. I will show you the respect you deserve, Great Drow Savior.~
"With no fear, right?" Twitch raised his eyes to the womyn who, with the help of the Leiah Latok survivors, twenty-five elite drow and a handful of remaining drowesses, was rebuilding Leiah Latok from ruins. And he smiled.
Months had passed, it was bustling with life again, trade, merchants, visiting drow. Matron Giselle sat at the First House, a house no longer rogue, while Phyxdriira and T'risstyrr build up the second and third houses, building their own lives with the stability that Phyx once knew and T'riss no longer remembered. Sometimes Giselle's ideas worked, sometimes she didn't know enough about the underdark to make such a call. But she was never alone and always had someone to advise her as the city grew back to the strength and size it once boasted. Even now, she was not alone, a proud, but short, soldier standing watch over her throne and the treasure that rested there.
The drothen had chosen to move back into the surrounding tunnels. Though, by Giselle's decree, they were no longer enemies, the relationship between drow and drothen was still strained. No longer hunted, no longer killed on sight, this didn't mean the drow granted them any more space, safety or food than before. But that, in Giselle's decree, the drothen could now afford to settle in their own cities, many of which began building around Leiah Latok. Raevid saw it as a slap in the face. But Giselle claimed it was protection, should the city ever be bothered again by the powerful minds of the Ithilid race.
Twitch and Giselle spoke briefly of the plans. Layouts for Leiah Latok, the fate of Antra, whom Twitch took a hands off approach to aiding, but still a personal interest into seeing raised up as a true Llothian Priestess. Twitch reported all that need be reported and bowed once again as Raevid appeared around the other side of throne. His hand curled under Queen Giselle's aiding her to her feet.
Greyish purple eyes slid down her form, the revealing gown and the way her curves pushed the boundaries of that silken cloth. He brought her knuckles to his mouth, leaving a gentle kiss there while welcoming her form closer to his own, placing his free hand behind her back. Only after he'd greeted his queen did he nod toward Twitch. The Patron of the First House wore fine silks, the warrior look still there, though he'd stepped away from the rogue style in part to show his commitment to his new city and wife.
"Supper is prepared. Twitch, join us for a meal?" The voiceless drow stood in response, his fingers spelling out a simple question, which brought a grin to Raevid's once joyless face. "Remember those jarred meats the humans eat?" Banth began gagging. Even Twitch couldn't help but grin at that. "I'm joking. But we do have a few surface foods. My queen?"
Giselle didn't answer at first, simply tilting her head back until Raevid brought his mouth to her own. The hand that held her own dropped her fingers to curl up over and around her throat, savoring the touch, the taste, the heat of his living blessing. So much so that his fingers actually shook as they caressed the skin below her now pointed ear. The kiss ended with both grinning softly.