Thanks to Drowhunter for pointing out the typo in the first line.
The drow raiders, headed by Kiowa Sinafey, prowled out of the tunnel that led from the underground drow city, Er'Rackual, to the surface world. The dark elves were on a hunt for surface elf blood; their despised enemies.
Surface elves were viewed by the drow as animals good only for enslavement, sport, or for sacrifice to please the drow goddess, Loth. The reason for this undying hatred was a million years old, chiefly sparked by fateful events when the surface elves had driven the drow into the bowels of the earth for the crime of following the spider queen down a path of evil and wrongdoing. Now the drow were content to live in their dark homes and come up to the surface only rarely to appease their hunger for pale elf blood.
Among this particular raiding party was 25 year-old Druzil Sinafey, the 7th son of his House, just fresh from the Drow Academies. This was his first raid and Druzil, who was not entirely at home with the vicious ways of his kin, was not sure what to expect.
Druzil was not paying proper attention to Kiowa, his elder brother. He should have been but, as Druzil had never been to the surface before, he was admiring the tall, leafy trees and the soft carpet of grass under his feet. It was so unlike the rocks and pits and gloom of his underground homeland. It was night on the surface world but the sensitive, darkvision eyes of the drow could not stand any bright light.
Kiowa suddenly grabbed his arm. "Hey, you! Pay attention!" he snarled, and his red eyes flashed angrily, "What nerve! This is an honor for you, and never forget it! If you think I enjoy bringing along inexperienced drow fools at the drop of a stalagmite, you can bloody think again!"
"Yes, sir," Druzil said. Brotherly respect meant nothing to Kiowa.
The drow were quietly heading for a grove where wood elves sometimes held nighttime feasts with fires and song and plenty of food. By magical ways of divining, the location had become known to the drow High Priestesses' and directions given to Kiowa for the means of merciless slaughter of all merrymaking elves to satisfy Loth's need for surface elf blood.
Now the drow carefully surrounded the grove in question, hiding behind the trees. Their blades were drawn and the elves had not the slightest idea of their approaching doom. At Kiowa's signal, the drow swept down on the innocent men, women, and children like a black wave. Even the light from their fire would not save them now. Nineteen drow when there should have been twenty. Someone was missing . . . . .
Druzil, for his part, had not obeyed his brother's orders. It made his breast ache to think of the peaceful, surface night spoiled and he did not want to participate. Who would ever know? The confused, dying screams of the tall, pale surface elves sliced through the night, making Druzil wince. He did not want to look out form his tree and see the bloodied mutilated bodies of the wood elves.
Unfortunately, Kiowa's evil eye noticed that his lowbred, wicked scum of a younger brother was not among the drow, doing his fair share of the cruel massacre. With an annoyed growl, he went to find him. Of all the indecency he normally had to suffer, he had to go through this humiliation of bringing along black rats on his professional raids as well!
"What do you think you are doing, hiding over here?" Kiowa yelled angrily at Druzil, "I suppose you are scared? Well, there is nothing to be afraid of so get going! They cannot hurt you as seeing as they are practically weaponless and miserable fighters."
Druzil looked helplessly at his brother. Why was he lost in this whirlwind of utter confusion? To kill innocent people was not in him. He had managed to hide it form his kin this long but now they would find out and they would kill him. The drow detested the weak. His look of utter hopelessness made Kiowa furious. He grabbed Druzil by the arm and dragged him into the ring of death and confusion. "I am here to ensure that you do your part. And I am damn well not going to fail. D'you know what will happen to me if I do? D'you see that kid wretch escaping over there? Yes? Well. Go and kill him and make it fast. I have my eye on you and you only have so long or I stab you through the back!"
Druzil knew that Kiowa meant it. What was he to do? Surely, surely he could escape having to kill this innocent, wild-eyed child and his mother. But how? There was nothing he could do. . . . . And he had a wild idea that might work. But he would only be able to save one of them. It would have to be the child. He could not stand the thought of having to kill him. Besides, the body would not be big enough.
Kiowa turned away momentarily from watching to murder a fleeing female. Just as Druzil was about to stab the boy's mother through, a stray crossbow bolt did the job for him. It flew off one of his fellow companion's crossbows, missed its intended target, and hit the boy's mother the boy by the arm, Druzil shoved him under the body of his mother, making sure to make the corpse look bloody. That was done, and no one would ever have to know.
"Humph, not as spoiled as I thought," Kiowa snorted, "but you missed all the fun all the same. The raid is over and everyone is dead, as usual."
Druzil glanced around the grove. All the elves lay dead in saturated pools of blood. The drow were wiping blood from their weapons and looking thoroughly happy. He inwardly shuddered.
Druzil managed a sick smile, "What a shame. But I suppose my brothers and Cazius will be pleased to hear of it all the same."
"Keep on dreaming, baby boy! Fall back! Full retreat to the tunnel! On the double! And look sharp, you lot!" Kiowa barked.
The drow snapped to attention, swarming back to Kiowa, stabbing a few bodies on the way. They left behind them a smoldering fire and a bloodstained site of brutal murder. The dark elves returned to their tunnel and began the journey homewards to Er'Rackual with the good news: Surface Raid Successful!
Er'Rackual was a great, sprawling city that lay deep in the twilight of the earth. Spiderweb decorations and motifs adorned the pedestals and statues of Loth, the Spider Queen. 16 royal Houses dominated the city, always warring among each other for higher standing and more power from Loth. Huge iron gates led into each complex, where the entire makeup of slaves, soldiers, warriors, craftsmen, mages, and priestesses lived, ruled by the Matron of the royal house.
Kiowa and his party entered the gates of the 5th House; House Sinafey. His sister, High Priestess Riza greeted them coldly. "You are late young idiot! Matron mother grows impatient and furious. I expect you are slacking off, Kiowa! Get moving!"
Among all drow in general, males were considered the inferior gender. Kiowa thought this was extremely unfair as it prevented him from saying what he thought to his mean sister, especially since she was younger then him! What injustice!
In the center of the House Sinafey complex lay the great stone house of the Sinafey nobles. In the center of this was the long, cold, dark throne hall, where Matron Govenel, Kiowa's unpleasant, brutal mother, sat on her dark throne.
Matron Govenel's throne was stone shaped into the form of a giant spider and on its back sat the woman herself, clothed in black clothes embroidered with the House Sinafey emblem. She had glaring amber eyes, shriveled, claw like hands, and white hair, characteristic of all drow. Her favorite weapon was a nine-headed snake whip that she wore on her belt, dripping with poison.
"Where have you been?" she snarled.
Kiowa hid his contempt quickly before it could be detected. He looked at Matron Govenel. "Appeasing the thirst of Loth, Matron Govenel."
"You are late! Do you know what I am going to do with the worthless likes of you?"
Kiowa had a sudden, horrible thought. He took a step back form his angry mother. He was in for it now!
"Take him away, Riza! Administer punishment for his being late! My time is valuable!" Matron Govenel then fixed her eye on her youngest son, "And you? What did you do?"
"I did my duty to Loth and to you, Matron Mother," Druzil answered respectfully.
"Hmmm . . . we will soon find out! Get out!" Matron Govenel dismissed Druzil, obviously not pleased with him.
Druzil bowed to his foul tempered mother and backed his way out of the Throne Hall. Outside the iron doors he met his six elder brothers with the exception of Kiowa. There were the twins, Nalfein and Nalfey, Dead'Ra, Afagi, and Sou'Tern. All five had been summoned to a family meeting.
"Got kicked out, eh?" Nalfein said, "Serves you right, spindle! Cazius is not going."
"Thanks", Druzil muttered and went to see the House Sinafey Weapons Master; his father.
Cazius has obviously been expecting him. He looked grimly at Druzil with his arms folded over his chest. Dressed in black, scowling darkly, he was not a comforting sight. "Well?"
Amongst his father and his brothers, Druzil sometimes found comfort, for none of them liked their homeland. All of them carefully hid their kinder hearts for their hearts would have gotten them all sacrificed to Loth to clear traitors from the ranks.
"It was wretched," Druzil said flatly, "I hate raids. I do not like killing innocent people. Mother is grouchier then ever. I suppose she is bound to be. Being pregnant and all, huh?"
Cazius shrugged. "What is there to be said? Another one of mine, I expect. You better hope it is a girl or I am going to the altars! Govenel says she is tired of sons."
"We can always run away."
Cazius frowned. "Really, Druzil, have you no intelligence? We have been over this many times. There is nowhere for us to go. The surface is out. We would die from exposure to the sun. and even if we did not, the surface dwellers would kill us. They hate us for our crimes. Roaming the Underdark is also out. We would be hunted down and killed by enemies. We have to stay here."
"Did you kill anyone?"
"What else could I do? Is it safe to talk here?"
Cazius glanced up at the ceiling. "I am fairly certain."
"I did not kill anyone. I let my victim go."
"Foolish idiot!" Cazius cried in rage, "You will bring Loth's disfavor upon us! Govenel will kill you!"
This was not the response that Druzil had expected. "What? But you said I should not kill where I do not have to—besides, she does not even know!"
"She will know! Did I not tell you to make no mistakes?"
"Yes, but killing a child? And I had the opportunity—"
Cazius shook his head. "Druzil, I am sorry that you have not had the chance to fully develop your intelligence!"
"What does that mean?"
Cazius turned toward the door. It opened and two female guards walked in. "It means she knows and you are going to the altars whether you like it or not."
Druzil protested, "But you said—"Blackness fell upon him.
Druzil came to in a dark and grimy cell with a splitting headache. He wondered why he was not dead yet. It was not like his mother to delay her sacrifices. Why was he still alive? Had it been a bad dream?
At this moment Dead'Ra appeared in the hall outside his cell. "I came to say goodbye."
"That was very considerate of you," Druzil said sarcastically, "Very kind."
Dead'Ra glared at him. "I will remember that!"
"Why am I still alive?"
"Good question. Mother, Loth curse her soul, is in labor luckily for you, and she cannot attend your death ceremony. So you get a few more hours of life. She will be up and about any minute now."
"Oh." Druzil felt sad thinking about a sibling he would never get to meet. He wondered if his mother would make his death painful. It was very likely that she would.
"Personally, I think what you did was extremely careless of you, Druzil. I would think you would know better. But I suppose Cazius was right when he said you were intellectually immature."
Druzil glared at his brother, "So Cazius said that, did he? What a nerve! If I was not going to die, I would tell him what I thought with a sharp blade!"
Dead'Ra smirked at him. "And you would get beat sore."
"I would not! Speaking of blades, can I have a dagger to end it here and now?"
"No. What is that?"
Afagi had come to deliver news. "The baby is a boy and she has named him Rizzen. Mother is feeling quite ready to proceed with the ceremony and would you please go to her at once. Cazius will escort up the prisoner. Ah, Druzil, as a small favor, I have arranged for Riza to let you have a last peek at the baby so at least you can go to hell knowing all your siblings. Just a small matter of blackmail to get her to let you see the baby."
Snickering, Dead'Ra and Afagi ran up the hallway without a backward glance at Druzil, deep in his well of misery.
Cazius dragged him out of it five minutes later. He unlocked the cell door with a pained expression and escorted Druzil up the hallway. "Believe me, this brings me no pleasure and you brought this upon yourself. This way. Afagi was good enough to carry out a little appointment with Riza. Here we are."
In the small, cold room staring down at the sweet, black skinned, purple-eyed Rizzen, Druzil felt more helpless then ever. How he wanted to stay alive and watch Rizzen grow up. But already Riza was growing impatient and coming to throw him out of the room. Druzil turned away from the cradle.
Druzil gave a gasp as Cazius suddenly turned and stabbed Riza through the back. He thrust a pair of scimitars into Druzil's hands, "Quickly, there is barely any time! You must get out of here! The sentries are all dead. Hurry! Take the 3rd gate!"
"But," Druzil hesitated, "They will kill you!"
"I am willing to make that sacrifice, Druzil. You want the surface world? I give it to you. I love you too much to let them kill you. Go!"
"But," Druzil hesitated again. this time he was looking at the baby in the cradle.
"You must be mad!" Cazius objected.
But Druzil had picked up the baby. "Then I am as mad as you are. I want to take Rizzen with me and I am going to. I must! Goodbye, father. Thank you."
"You are welcome, as they say on the surface. Quick, run! I will take care of any guards who follow you."
Druzil gave his father one last embrace, tucked the scimitars into his belt, jumped over the fallen body of his sister and fled. Just as Cazius had promised, all the sentries that could have stopped him were dead and he had a clean and easy path out of House Sinafey by the 3rd gate. Pulling up his cloak and concealing the baby in its folds, Druzil walked as fast as he could through the streets of Er'Rackual. Hopefully, no one would find him before he could get away.
Luck was with him and Druzil escaped into the tunnels leading away from Er'Rackual. Now he only had to make it to the surface alive with Rizzen for that was the only place he would be safe from the revenge of his kin. And hopefully, Matron Govenel would not send his brothers to find him either!
Druzil walked as fast as he could, staying in he shadows. Did he hear footsteps behind him or was that his imagination?