A quick note from Addis: To celebrate my birthday today, I am celebrating for all of our readers by releasing this short novel. It’s seven parts total with different stories for each chapter. They do start out short, then get longer and longer. Hopefully, you guys like these!
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
*Setting is of the drow from Menzoberranzan 1, and they are commonly known as dark elves.
*I’m too lazy to write about the social system of the drow to make up the word count. Anyway, I think most people know it. In short, the core is that they are a society ruled by the priestesses of the goddess Rose. (Only Menzoberranzan, other Zhuoer cities have different beliefs…) Male status is very low, even their body shape and height are relatively slender and petite.
Josta, riding an underground lizard, walked down Menzoberranzan’s most cluttered slum street. There were lower races such as orcs, half elves and goblins, as well as some mixed race and disabled drow. The cannibal slavers, waving their whip, were driving away the goods in their hands.
When Josta, who was riding a lizard and wearing a spider silk cloak, approached, the slaver immediately stepped aside with great respect. The consequences of offending the drow aristocrats were terrible, and the slum dwellers knew that.
Josta ordered the lizard to stop in front of a bunch of slaves. He waved to the ogre, and the tall creature leaned forward in a flattering way.
“What is that?” Josta used the common underground language to point at someone among the slaves.
“It’s a half human.” When the drow opened his mouth, the slaver recognized that this was a man. They couldn’t tell drow men and women apart by their faces and hair, but this nobleman wrapped himself up tightly. However, after recognizing the man, the slave dealer was relieved. He didn’t want to meet a priestess or such at all. If he didn’t answer well, he would lose his life.
Josta looked at the “half human” and frowned. The man’s skin was darker than humans’, and some of his features looked strange. “Bring him closer,” the drow ordered. “And, open his mouth.”
The half man slave was pushed close to the lizard, and the slave dealer pried opened his mouth to show Josta. This creature had larger tiger teeth and more teeth than humans. His hair was withered and yellow. Although his facial features were ordinary, his black eyes were very big and bright.
“How much is it?” Josta asked.
The ogre was overjoyed and boldly opened with a slightly higher price. Unexpectedly, the drow accepted it casually.
The slave was tied to the big lizard, and the leather rope was attached to the bridle. He stumbled along with Josta, occasionally peeping at the drow.
Josta often bought strange things. He came from a low-level family. He was the wizard of the family and the son of the matriarch. Although as a male, he would live under the control of his sisters forever, he has been used to such a life and even learned some good ways to relieve boredom.
In addition to the necessary magic articles and books, he also liked gemstones, antiques circulating from the surface, small things that weren’t useful but interesting, and artistic carvings made by drow craftsmen… And strange slaves.
In fact, he didn’t buy strange slaves before. Today, for the first time, he found that he would buy such things.
Some drow nobles would buy half drow or half elves. The former refers to the drow mixed with other lower lineages, while the latter refers to other races mixed with surface elves. In a word, even if they were slaves, they couldn’t tolerate races that were too inferior, and the dog headed man or goblin slave couldn’t enter the owner’s private residence.
And the half human, that is, the thing mixed with human blood, was the last bottom line that the drow aristocrats could tolerate.
Josta took the slave into the outer hall of his private chamber and asked him, “Do you understand the common underground language?”
“Your honor, I understand.” Josta’s slave knelt on the ground, bowed his head, and answered very respectfully.
“Do you know why I bought you?” The drow then recited an incantation, removing the leather rope that had been on the slave’s hands. “In fact, a large part of the reason is that I’m particularly curious about one thing – what are you?”
The slave looked puzzled, and Josta patiently explained further, “What race are you? I don’t see racial blood traits in you. You should have human lineage, and maybe the surface goblin…”
The slave, apparently, had been to this city for a long time, and perhaps even had been to other drow cities, and he knew quite well how to speak respectfully, “Dear Lord, I should answer you as it is, but I am afraid it will cause you to be angry.”
“I’m not a priestess. If you want to say something blasphemous, I’ll let it go and pretend I didn’t hear it.” Josta replied. In fact, he didn’t care.
“I… well, my father was the child of an orc and moon elf. He met my mother on the way out of an adventure. She was a…” The slave glanced at Josta. “Was the child of a man and a drow…”
Josta, surprised, motioned to the slave to continue.
“Later, when my mother was pregnant with me in her stomach, she was caught by the drow… I mean, captured by drow’s surface troopers. This is what she told me. The reason why she wasn’t killed was because she was very strange looking, and the drow were curious. She was sold to a slaver by the hunting party. “
Josta nodded, reached out and lifted the slave’s chin, “You’re actually a little more strange. It’s true that your eyes have some elvish features. Can you see well now? “
Josta’s room was always lit by a faint cold flame, which the mages often did for the convenience of reading and writing. The drow soldiers simply relied on dark vision and seldom lit their lamps.
“I can see, my Lord, in fact… If you put out the light, I can see clearly.” Replied the slave.
So Josta really put out the flame, trying to see how clear the hybrid’s dark vision could be. He did some tests, and then found that the slave’s dark vision was somewhere between the orc’s monochromatic dark vision and the drow’s thermal vision.
Josta named the new slave Gur, a common name for drow civilian men, a rare name for alien slaves. The work that Gur was responsible for was quite simple – at least easier than being bought or left in the hands of slavers by the drow, who had domesticated the Roth beasts. He was responsible for cleaning the boots without magic for the owner, and shadowing the owner when he went out to buy strange things.
Gur was able to fight, which Josta discovered later, so he gave the slave a curved blade. At that time, the slave was shocked, and the drow mage explained, “It’s not that I trust you, but you can’t hurt me at all.”
Another reason is that, at least, Gur was much more beautiful than the tauren slaves, and it was more pleasing to the eye to bring around. But Josta didn’t tell him that.
As well as serving the family, Josta also taught in tyre bridge. He had taught many mage apprentices himself, and some of them died at his hands. But his brothers and sisters still think that he wasn’t cruel enough, because those who died because of the attempt to harm him, were only killed instead. The eldest daughter of the family (and Josta’s adoptive mother), Corinthia, once said, “You’re too cowardly. The right way is not to give them a chance to think about it.”
Once, the slave saw Josta talking to Corinthia. Josta and her sister were standing in the cobweb carved corridor, and Gur kneeled in the corner, waiting for his master’s command. The female drow has set up an anti discovery spell in this area, so that these conversations were known only to them. They used higher drow language, not the common underground language. The half blood slave wasn’t far away, but Josta said that the slave didn’t understand.
“One of your students is a prince of the Giza family. You should pay attention to him.” The priestess was tall and very beautiful. Her silver hair was curly and was decorated with finely broken magic gems, which draped on her fit and toned body.
“Yes, sister,” Josta lowered his head in front of her. “He’s impressive. In fact, he has shown some intention of becoming an ally. I think it’s also a hint from his family. “
Corinthia sneered, “Oh, I get it. Actually, he’s throwing himself at you, right? Cherna saw that you were courting the family and punished you for it, though she had found another reason.”
Josta sighed awkwardly, “Sister, these causes and consequences can’t be concealed from you.”
“There’s no need to hide it from me. In fact, I think you should get along well with that student. We need the support of that family. ” Corinthia slapped Josta on the shoulder in a very friendly gesture. Very few of the drow’s adult brothers and sisters would do this to each other. “Turn around and take off your clothes,” she said.
In fact, slave Gur could understand the higher drow language. His mother was a half-drow.
Hearing this, he thought the priestess was going to whip Josta. He thought uneasily that the conversation had just been smooth… When he cast his eyes carefully, he found that it was not the case.
Josta took off his magic cloak and shirt, then turned and kneeled on one knee. His back was crisscrossed with black and red stripes, and in some places the blood had just solidified. The priestess put her hand close to her mouth and mouthed a chant. She healed most of the wounds and then stopped the treatment.
“Cherna is a fool who only knows how to be angry but has no brain… Well, you can find your own potion for the rest.” Priestesses never waste too much magic on men, unless it was necessary.
Josta got dressed and respectfully thanked his sister. The priestess turned and left with satisfaction.
Gur, kneeling at the corner, waited for a moment before he went to help his master. He was also holding Josta when he came here, because Corinthia knew that Josta had been whipped by another sister, so it was no surprise to see him being held by a slave.
“I’m much better. I don’t need your help.” Josta waved. Gur followed him looking like he wanted to say something.
Josta didn’t say much on the way. Back in his private room with the protective spell, he asked, “You seem to be thinking about something. Tell me about it? “
Gur knelt in front of his master, “If you had a healing potion, why didn’t you use it earlier?”
Previously, he was in his usual corner and was startled to see Josta staggering back. At that time, Josta was whipped by another sister. After taking off his shirt, Josta’s back skin, which was delicate and smooth like black satin, was covered with ferocious scars. It was a shock to Gur’s eyes..
Josta froze for a moment, then laughed again, “You really understand the higher drow language.”
Gur lowered his head and didn’t know how to answer. Josta went on, “It doesn’t matter. In fact, I had already guessed. But remember, I’m the only one who knows that you know high drow. In front of others, you don’t understand. “
Gur nodded, and he understood it was better for him.
“And about the potion…” Josta said, “Cherna is a priestess. And I’m just a male mage in a family. When she gives out punishment, inferior like us can’t treat themselves without authorization, even with potions. This would be considered a lack of reflection. And Corinthia is also a priestess, and she is the eldest daughter of the family. If she treated me, Cherna wouldn’t be able to say anything…”
“The priestess… She’s very kind to you,” he said.
Josta laughs and laughs for a long time, as if he had heard some very humorous joke. Then he looked at the puzzled slave, “Well, you’re also right… Because you haven’t seen the “happy” ways I used to get along with her, of course you think so. Now, I’m one of her strengths and her weapon, and she will certainly take good care of her weapons. “
There was a word in the slave’s heart around, unspoken. What Gur thought at that time was: So can I be your weapon?
Gur never saw the surface. Although his mother had described it a little bit during her lifetime. His only impression of the earth’s surface was that it was very bright and there was a lot of light.
And Josta’s study was also very bright. Dark vision could clearly distinguish the appearance of objects and creatures, but couldn’t read words, so the drow casters often lit fires. Gur often curled up in the corner of the room, watching his master sitting at his desk copying scrolls. He recalled that a tauren slave once said in a casual chat that the mage Josta was a prince who was not much valued in the family. He had three sisters and a younger brother, all of whom were much more cruel and violent than he was. Josta was naturally good at obeying orders and lacked his own opinions.
But that wasn’t the case. When heI first saw Josta in the slum street, the drow was clearly in high spirits. He spoke in a relaxed and pleasant manner, and had no expression of the oppressed.
Maybe it was a very lucky thing to stay with Josta. Gur knew that his life was beyond the imagination of other slaves. Josta wasn’t moody and seemed to trust his private slaves.
Sometimes Gur felt that Josta was like this study, brighter than any other.
Others didn’t like the light. From time to time, Gull was asked to stand by the door while Josta studied spells or did something else without speaking all day. That time, as he sat on an old cushion (given to him by his master, an act so gentle it was sickening among the drow), he heard a knock at the door. He took the position in front of the door and looked at Josta, who waved to him and told him to step back behind a moving bookcase.
When he did as told, Josta read a word and opened the door. The young soldier in his close fitting drow scales came in and asked Josta to put out the cold flame as soon as he came in, saying they made his eyes sting.
Gur had met him before. He was Josta’s younger brother, Yegir, the youngest child in the family. Yegir is full of complaints, from the dwarf encountered by the patrol team to the assassination in the fighting pagoda, and some terms that were unknown whether they were a person’s name or a place name… It seemed that in Josta’s room, he could speak more confidently without having to cower to take into account the gaze of the priestesses.
Josta came up, put his hand on the drow’s neck and kissed his complaining mouth.
“Yegir, you have to learn to accept it. It’s normal. You’re too immature. ” Josta said.
The young drow breathed harder, then murmured, “You’re mature, but no one looks up to you.” He picked up his brother and walked to the bedroom.
Gur behind the case knew what was going to happen between them. In fact, this wasn’t the first time Yegir has visited. And Yegir wasn’t Josta’s only lover. When Gur went out with Josta, he met the “Prince of the Giza family”, a student of Josta. It was a beautiful elf so young that it was almost childlike. Josta naturally hugged the child and spoke in his ear. The child’s smile was very real and natural. The cruel smile on the faces of the drow was different in peacetime.
Among the drow, even the father and his children weren’t that close.
Listening in silence for most of the day, Gur slowly understood why he was seeing this. Because Josta was respectful and reverent in front of the priestess, humble and had no opinion in front of the high-level mages in the Academy, he was obedient to people in his family, and he was dull and indulged in many small mistakes in front of the students. It was amazing that even so, Josta never made any mistakes, didn’t offend anyone, and didn’t initiate any events. At the same time, he spared no effort in the study of magic and the protection of the family.
He had a lot of small hobbies, which made him considered weak, harmless, scattered brained, and lacking aggression, although he had good ability, he was easy to deceive and manipulate. It seems that other drow usually think of him as a very safe thing.
Gur could vaguely sense that something seemed to be happening in this drow family. He couldn’t ask more questions, and even a gentle master like Josta wouldn’t have allowed a slave to interfere with these matters.
He was worried that Josta would be hurt, but he felt that Josta had enough wisdom and means to protect himself.
He once felt that although there was a part of drow’s shadow in his own blood, he would never understand these beautiful and cruel creatures. He would even face them in hatred and fear all his life, and gradually consume the life they gave him. So now he was very confused that he didn’t understand what he felt like when he was facing Josta.
In this monotonous and dreary life, something finally happened that shocked and pained him.
On that day, Josta and several students, one of them a boy from the Giza family, went to an island in the middle of a lake to practice stone shaping spells. The lake wasn’t in Menzoberranzan, but in an open cavern behind several dark region tunnels. In fact, the lake was just a vast pool, very shallow, about to the thigh. Mage apprentices needed to practice magic in open places, but darde not go too far, so they often came here. The patrol team of the dark region tunnel was also stationed here.
“Gur, carry me over.” Josta smiled and stretched out his hands to the half breed slave next to him. At that time, Gur felt his heart beat tighten and almost forgot to answer immediately after his master spoke.
He wondered why Josta was doing this… It was clear that the drow could cross the river by magic. But he still nodded, and his arms almost trembled as he picked up Josta horizontally.
“It’s a good thing you’re here. I want to save as much magic as I can, even if it’s a normal little spell. ” Josta said, putting his arm around his neck.
When he crossed the water with his master in his arms, he only dared to look ahead, not even looking down at the rocks in the river. He was afraid of seeing Josta’s face in the afterglow, and even more afraid that Josta would hear his heartbeat. It was because of this ridiculous panic that he didn’t notice what Josta said just now.
Shortly after arriving at the lake center highland, a patrol of drow soldiers came out from a cave. At the head of the line was a female soldier. Seeing her, Josta and several students all cupped their hands and bowed.
“Instructor Vetin.” Josta stood at the front, smiling and bowing his head.
This was Josta’s sister, the youngest daughter in the family. She was different from her two sisters. Although she had also studied at Spider Academy, but she was far more talented in fighting than the divine arts, she now taught at the Fighting Martial Tower, while occasionally leading patrols.
Everyone else could see that Vetin loved Josta’s modest attitude. Even her brother Yegir couldn’t learn the respect she deserved. She asked a few questions complacently, then put her arm around Josta’s shoulder and pointed to Gur, who was kneeling by the lake. “What’s that?”
“A half blood slave, they look strange, don’t they? I use it to do magic experiments.” Josta and the others were talking in higher drow. Gur could understand, and he thought Josta was a little naughty when he spoke.
Then they went away to talk about other things. Although he could understand the language, Gur still couldn’t understand many things.
The patrolmen were resting, and the mages stood by in silence. However, Gur found that Josta made a few gestures with one hand on his side while talking to Vetin.
Gur didn’t understand the meaning of that, but obviously a few patrolmen and two mages understood it and reacted.
It was only later that Gur understood that this was a planned attack. The target was Vetin, and Josta was one of the people who led the attack.
Giza’s children and another mage were responsible for casting a spell against the female drow with Josta. Several patrol members who had already been bought suddenly started to kill other soldiers. It was supposed to be perfect, and they’ve even found a scapegoat: a mage from a lower level family. It was the general rule of Menzoberranzan.
But against a hundred spells, Vetin’s magic ability wasn’t enough, but she wasn’t as weak as others thought. In anger, one of her spells knocked Josta down, and she was killed by someone else.
Drow weren’t sympathetic to the injured, but they checked Josta’s condition. After all, he was the one who helped them. The prince of the Giza family gave the tutor some healing potions. Fortunately, Josta’s life wasn’t in danger, and he was even able to stand up. But unfortunately – Josta lost his vision.
In despair and anger, Vetin used a spell with poison. When Josta opened his eyes, he should have been out of the dark vision. His eyes lost their red luster. The mages and soldiers nearby knew that he couldn’t see.
Josta drove those people away, and in fact they did leave as planned. The prince of the Giza family was responsible for taking away the comatose scapegoat and comforted his mentor and lover symbolically before leaving.
“I’m fine. I’ll be fine soon.” Josta replied.
Only after the drow had left, did he dare to get close to it. “Master, master, you…” He approached, trying to reach out, but hesitated whether it was disrespectful.
“Light a torch.” Josta ordered.
Gur did as told. He thought, maybe Josta wanted to confirm whether it was dark vision or all vision that was lost. After lighting the torch, Gur knelt in front of his master and looked at him anxiously.
He knew that Josta was still blind. Maybe Josta didn’t even know when he lit the torch.
The drow’s eyes were red in dark vision, but light colors in normal light, ranging from gray blue to blue. In his study, he saw the original color of Josta’s eyes, which was cobalt blue, like some kind of mineral, a little like the color described by her mother when she talked about the sky when she was a child.
But now Josta’s eyes had turned gray.
“Did you light the torch?” Josta asked. Gur was waving his hand in front of his eyes. He couldn’t see it, but he could feel it, so he raised his hand and pushed the arm away from him.
Dark vision and normal vision were lost at the same time. It was a fatal blow to the drow. This cruel race never took care of the disabled. It was too kind of them not to execute the injured directly. Usually the defective drow didn’t live long. They died in all kinds of accidents without any help.
“Take me back first.” Josta stood there, holding out his hand to Gur.
Gur couldn’t recover from his shock for a long time. He hugged his master, waded across the lake, and walked into the tunnel where the lizard mount was hidden. On the way back, Gur led the lizard, and Josta put on a hood with silver hair hanging over his cheek, blocking his eyes.
Gur was worried about some dangerous situation on the road. He didn’t know if he could protect Josta. But he was also a little excited, because he was surprised to find that his previous thoughts weren’t illusions; Josta really trusted him.
Back in the family house, Josta put a hand on Gur’s forearm and let him lead him in. There was no one else on the way, and Josta was obviously relieved when he returned to his study.
Gur thought he was very calm, but he obviously wasn’t. Josta was very anxious now, and he ordered Gur to take him around looking for things, one by one, to test spells on himself that he could still use.
After struggling for some time, Josta asked Gur to help him see where the fire was on the distant Nabondel time pillar. When he came back into the room, he saw Josta sitting on the ground, surrounded by a pile of magic objects and scrolls, staring straight into the dark, expressionless.
Gur, avoiding the things on the ground, leaned over and knelt down in front of Josta, answering his questions first, and then looking at him quietly.
Josta gently reached out his hand to Gurs shoulder and said, “Do you know what this means?”
Gur knew, but didn’t want to answer, “You’re going to get better. Your sister still needs you…”
“If I’m no longer useful, she won’t need me anymore,” Josta propped himself up on his shoulders and stood up. “I may die soon, from whatever. But as long as I’m still alive, I’m going to continue to do what I’m supposed to do. “
What should you do? Gur asked silently in his heart.
“Gur, I trust you, because I have to trust you,” Josta said. “If you are still loyal to me, I can die later; if you are willing to hurt me, I will die earlier. That’s the difference. “
“I am faithful to you, master. Always. ” Gur answered.
From that day on, Josta allowed Gur into his bedroom. Because he was blind, he needed someone to take care of everything, but he didn’t want to leave it to the other drow.
After Vetin’s death, the scapegoat was also symbolically and publicly dealt with, and the matter ended perfectly, and Corinthia had one less threat.
It was only later that Gur understood the reason for all this: the matriarch of the family was dying and had fallen out of favor with the goddess. In fact, she wasn’t old at all, but her life was like a candle in the wind. The eldest daughter, Corinthia, also had a daughter and a son. The second daughter, Cherna, had no children, while the third daughter, Vetin, had a son. All three of them were likely to become the new matriarch, and once the new matriarch was determined, the rest of the sisters would either obey her, or die or leave the family, and their children would no longer be regarded as aristocrats.
Corinthia had to slowly get rid of her sisters and reduce the last-minute competition.
That day, Josta leaned back on the couch, drinking a potion that had been dispensed with the assistance of Gur, and told him these things in a casual tone. He could see that he was on the side of Corinthia, so he boldly asked him to prove it.
“Yes, I sort of assisted her I guess. There are many reasons. It’s hard to explain briefly, and you may not understand it. ” Josta put down the glass and moved into a more comfortable position.
News of Josta’s loss of vision couldn’t be completely kept secret. Before long, at least his sister and brother knew. At least they were too lazy to stretch out their hands to break a certain balance or do unnecessary things.
Corinthia’s demands on Josta didn’t diminish. She only cared whether he could continue to help, not whether he would die of some accident. The reason for Josta’s blindness was a well-known but unspeakable secret, so even in the face of a great opportunity, Cherna didn’t take the initiative to get rid of Josta, which might have attracted her sister’s attention.
Gur helped Josta to all kinds of places, led him to the lizard mount, and even helped him comb his hair. Once, when Gur chuckled, Josta heard it and asked him what he was laughing at.
“I hope you don’t get angry, Master.”
“Tell me, I’m not so easy to angry.”
“I think of the story my mother told me,” he said as he helped Josta back to his study and led him to sit down. “She told me about the surface of the earth, where there is a canine species…”
“Oh, I know that thing. In fact, there are similar species in the dark region. ” Josta said.
“On the surface, there are also humans or elves… I mean surface goblins, blind for some reason… Of course, you will be better. “
“Don’t comfort me. As for the surface…” Josta quipped, “Where the big fireball roasts and judges every day, it’s natural that people will lose their sight. “
Gur was born here, never been to the surface, and he didn’t know if Josta was right. “There are blind people there who use dogs to guide them,” he continued, “and those dogs are trained and, unlike pets, they are called guide dogs. Just now I just thought of this. I felt like a guide…”
At this point, he took it back. He used to say that the master’s eyes would recover sooner or later, but now speaking of this… It’s like saying he’s going to be blind all the time.
“Very good, very interesting.” Josta reached out and seemed to want something. Gur held his hand, Josta frowned and said, “Head.” Only then did Gur put his head down.
Josta touched his withered and curly hair, and his movements were incredibly gentle, “It seems that the creatures on the surface are also very smart. They know that sometimes they can’t trust their own kind, they prefer to believe in other creatures.”
Gur always felt that there was something wrong with the master’s understanding, but he couldn’t tell. “Have you ever been to the surface? Master…” He asked, not realizing how casual he was in his speech now.
“Mages aren’t allowed to go to the surface. Soldiers will have the opportunity to participate in surface hunting, kill those goblins as sacrifice.”
“Then Lord Yegir has been on the surface?” He asked.
Josta frowned at her brother’s name. He realized that he might have been too talkative.
Instead of answering, Josta said in a low voice, “Speaking of him. He’s on Cherna’s side. If you find him when you go out, try to avoid him.”
“Yes, Master… But why? ” Gur was a little surprised. He thought the brothers were in the same camp.
“Cherna has hinted that if she becomes a matriarch, she will help him become the martial arts chief in the family. So he’s still a noble. And the other two sisters – only one now – have children of their own, and in the future she will put her son above Yegir.”
Gur felt the hand on his head pulled back. He wanted to ask, “Why don’t you stand here?” but he resisted. Not only was he worried that Josta would lose patience, but also because he saw Josta’s expression… Eyes closed, helpless and exhausted expression.
A moment later, the brother whom they had just been talking about, knocked on the door. Because of listening to Josta talk about those things, when he saw Yegir walk into the room, Gur kneeled behind the bookshelf.
“You really can’t see?” Yegir strode over and looked condescendingly at Josta, who was sitting in a recliner.
“Are you here to laugh at me or to comfort me?” Josta smiles bitterly.
Yegir bent over and squeezed Josta’s chin, forcing him to raise his head and tell him to open his eyes. Josta opened his eyes, which were gray, and didn’t change the direction of his gaze even though Yegir’s face was really close.
“Is this what you get for following her?” Yegir said, “Got a last gift from Vetin?”
“She didn’t give me anything. She’s dead.” Josta said, pretending to be confused.
“At first I couldn’t believe it, my brother. I always thought you would stand by me, but I didn’t expect you to be so stupid! You helped…” The drow warrior refrained from mentioning the name of Corinthia. He felt guilty, even though the conversation in this room couldn’t be heard, “Are you still on her side now?”
Gur behind the bookcase was worried. He had seen Yagir many times. Although the two brothers occasionally had some conflicts, he could see that Yagir was very polite and gentle to Josta, because he was afraid of Josta’s status as a mage. Even Gur thought that Yegir liked Josta… Otherwise, how could he come here to complain and make love?
But now the atmosphere was different. Yegir looked angry and impatient, while Josta was blind and completely weak.
Then he heard Josta reply, “Sooner or later, I’ll die of my sister’s dissatisfaction, or at the hands of one of my students. Does it matter whose side I’m on? Or if you like, you can deal with me now. I can’t resist anyway.”
Instead of pulling out his sword, Yegir took off his saber and threw it aside.
“It’s not my job to kill you, and I’m afraid to offend that woman,” He lifted Josta’s collar and threw him on the floor. “I’m here to rest. As always. “
He took off Josta’s clothes and brutally assaulted him. In the past, his respect for Josta was based on his ability and status. Once this foundation threatened to collapse, respect would become nonsense.
Gur was behind the bookshelf, clenching his teeth. He found that he couldn’t bear it. He had heard and seen… But he just felt that this time was different.
He almost felt the urge to pull out the curved blade behind him and just rush out and attack the drow warrior. Reason told him that it was difficult to succeed, but he felt that he was losing control and couldn’t be restrained.
Just then he saw Josta’s hand move in his direction.
Josta taught him some very basic droman, a sign language for silent communication. Josta is now telling him: don’t move.
Now Gur could read the silent language, but he couldn’t use it himself. The drow’s fingers were thin and flexible, and could make hundreds of different gestures with only one hand, which Gur couldn’t.
Josta would sign “don’t move” for a long time. Gur understood that it was because Josta couldn’t see. He didn’t know if the gesture was seen.
For a while, Gur wished he was a pure blood drow, so that he would be strong because of his cruel training as a child, so that he might be able to draw his weapon and rush out to kill Yegir.
But he also knew it was impossible. If he really was a drow, he might have died in the conspiracy and chaos. Even if he knew Josta, you wouldn’t have wanted to stay with him.
When Yegir left, he ignored the slave behind the bookcase. To the drow aristocrats, these inferior races were as stupid as the Roth beasts.
Gur went over and knelt beside Josta, at a loss. Josta looked quite calm. His blind gray eyes looked at the dark ceiling and reached out to confirm the position of the slave next to him.
Gur guided his arm around his neck, picked up Josta and walked to the bedroom. He didn’t dare to stare at Josta. The traces left by Yegir earlier were very clear. They didn’t seem to belong to pleasure, but to roughness and domination. At this time, Gur hated his dark vision, and he couldn’t stand Josta being treated like this.
After Josta fell asleep, Gur sat by the bed and touched the mage’s fingers with his forehead. He remembered what Josta had said, “I may die soon, in whatever way.”
In Menzoberranzan, a crippled drow wouldn’t have been far away from death, not to mention Josta was a mage, and blindness was terrible for him.
A strange thought suddenly came into his mind, which startled him. He thought of his mother, who was half human and half drow, who knew the ground and the earth’s surface. When she was a slave, the weakest and closest to death, she still depicted the surface world to Gur every day.
She didn’t praise it, even though she didn’t think the surface was safer than the dark region. But she once said with a smile that the only reason she appreciated that place was that it made her meet his father.
This was the proudest thing of Gur, who had been a slave since he was born: his parents gave birth to him because of their love.
With Josta these days, he learned more about the drow aristocrats, and he knew that even two beautiful drow elves could hardly do it. Just because of this, he always yearned for that place.
After a while, Josta wakes up. He looked better, still very calm. Gur was uneasy about this kind of calm. It wasn’t calm and collected, but a kind of lifelessness after accepting the death penalty.
“Take me to the bath.” Josta reached out to him.
He never did before Josta was blind, and in fact not after. Gur had always helped Josta get hot water ready and then wait outside the bath. But today, Josta had been hanging around his neck, not letting go.
“I’m tired and uncomfortable.” Josta said.
Gur carefully put his master into the bath and took a cotton towel to help him clean up. To be honest, Josta wasn’t very handsome by drow’s standards. He wasn’t as strong as his brother Yegir, nor as handsome as the prince of the Giza family. He was as plain as he had been for a long time. Perhaps it was this insipidity that had protected him so far.
Gur felt his hands shaking. He knew exactly what he felt when he looked at his master’s body in hot water. He tried to keep his hands away from his master’s skin, but he had to feel the lines of those limbs as he wiped them.
Josta held out a hand, and Gur put his head in cooperation. The master touched his hair with a smile, then suddenly pulled him in while supporting his body out of the water.
Gur was stiffly kissed by his master. The blind Josta couldn’t find the position of his mouth. At first, it was Gur’s chin that he kissed. He followed his skin until he pried open his trembling lips.
“You dare not answer me?” When he stopped, Josta said, “It doesn’t matter. I allow it. “
Gur reached for his wet body and stroked his silky silver hair. Because of his mixed lineage, Gur was taller than any other elves. In the past, he always knelt down beside his master or stood beside the lizard’s mount. He didn’t even dare to stare at his master when he carried him over the shallow water. Like most drow men, he was thin and small, and it was the first time that Gur had felt this directly.
It was also his first kiss, but he knew exactly what to do. He closed his eyes and imagined the blindness Josta was experiencing. Now they were in the same darkness and seemed to be able to see each other.
One day Josta would die. Gur never dared to forget this terrible possibility.
He tried his best to protect his master and act as his master’s eye. He didn’t know where they were headed. Now Josta didn’t need to go to the academy any more, but he couldn’t get rid of his family. Gur knew that this wasn’t the way.
Even if he lost his sight, Josta was able to perform some very skilled spells and use familiar magic items. On that day, Josta seemed to be talking to someone through magic. Gur could understand the language, but he couldn’t understand the meaning. He guessed it was in code.
There was a knock on the door, and Gur thought it was Yagir again… Yegir may really like Josta, at least his body. These days, Josta was almost ignored in the family. The two priestesses were busy with conspiracies that no one else knew. Only Yegir visited him repeatedly.
Gur knew he hated Yegir, but not at first. This deep hatred began after Josta became blind.
It wasn’t Yegir who came in this time. It was Corinthia. As if she didn’t know Josta couldn’t see, she didn’t want to take care of the fact that he was blind.
“Josta, the time has come. Can you still live up to your promise? ” She asked.
Gur was kneeling in his usual corner, unable to understand what she was referring to.
Josta sighed and stood up on the table, looking a little dazed. He turned his body in the direction of his sister’s speech and bowed deeply, “I can do it.”
“Cherna will make her move soon.” Said the priestess.
“I’m ready for everything you need, and now I can send a message to them,” Josta fumbled on the table, picking up a black plume. “The people you need will be here soon, Mistress Corinthia.”
The slave behind the bookshelf was surprised. He didn’t understand why Josta suddenly called her that. And Corinthia laughed with satisfaction. She was now wearing soft armor that outlined the curve of her body and a magic cloak for countless protection. She also wore many powerful ornaments on her neck and hands. The snake head whip on her waist was restless, as if it was longing for blood.
“Very well, Josta. Your brother will be left to you. One of you will die anyway.” Grentia turned away, and a group of priestesses and women soldiers followed her outside.
Gur came out from behind the bookshelf. “Master… You just said…” He saw Josta casting a signal to the plume.
When he finished, Josta reached out and asked for Gur’s help as he calmly replied, “The matriarch is dead. That’s what she meant when she said, “It’s time.”
Gur never saw the matriarch. Even though he thought it would be better if he hadn’t seen her, the word “victimization” immediately appeared in his mind when he thought of the death of the woman. Gur couldn’t understand what “losing the favor of the goddess” really meant, and no one but the priestesses could explain it accurately. But what was certain was that in this family, the two daughters were more favored by Rose than the matriarch. The decline of the matriarch might not have been due to disease.
At the thought, Gur shivered. To be weak meant to die… Even a matriarch couldn’t escape this fate, and how could the blind Josta survive.
“Gur, take me away and head for the shallow lake,” Josta ordered. “Yegir will catch up. According to my intelligence, Cherna ordered him to take charge of killing me once the matriarch died.”
“Are you going to deal with him?” Gur led Josta outside to find the lizard mount that had been readied.
“Yes. I have my own plan.” Josta replied.
Josta said a few soothing charms to the lizard, and then made Gur ride on it and hug him, which was much more convenient than one riding the lizard and leading the way. “Look out for the shadows, and I’ll listen for movement.” Josta said.
They left under the shadow of the rocks and walked along the remote road. On the sloping stone wall not far from the family city, Gur saw an army without signs gathering around. Josta told him that they were mercenaries and didn’t belong to any family power, but the Giza family often dealt with them.
It didn’t take Josta to say more, but Gur had a rough idea of what was going to happen. When the matriach had died, Corinthia contacted mercenaries outside to attack her family, creating the appearance of family war and dispersing Cherna’s fighting power. The family’s fighting slaves and army would fight with mercenaries, and in the chaos, Corinthia would try to kill Cherna. After that, the mercenaries would naturally retreat, which would be regarded as a foreign attack with an unknown murderer. During the attack the family’s second daughter dies and Corinthia, who survived, would bring her children and become the new matriarch.
Gur couldn’t understand. What he couldn’t understand wasn’t the drow women’s desire for power, but why Josta willingly put so much effort into such a thing.
Josta was right. It didn’t take long for someone to track them down.
Before they reached the shallow lake, they were overtaken by several soldiers. Yagir had three male soldiers with him, and obviously he thought they were enough to deal with a blind mage and a slave, and Cherna wouldn’t send him more.
“I really don’t want to kill you, Josta. It’s only in front of you that I can speak well,” Yegir said with a double barrelled rifle and four soldiers surrounding Josta and Gur. “It’s really tiring to please those sisters, you know. Where should I relax without you? “
Josta smiled. “Yeah. It’s only in front of me that you feel strong and that someone can see you.”
“No, no, I don’t need you to see,” Yagir said in a vicious tone. “I just want you to obey.”
At the command of Yegir, the soldiers began to attack. Josta now had no vision, only hearing, and they could always avoid the magic rays of Josta’s high miss rate.
Gur had to jump off the lizard and pull out a curved blade to meet the first approaching warrior. Josta initially used a spell to stop the enemy from approaching, but was still contained by Yegir and two other fighters because of his blindness. The lizard’s throat was cut open and he fell convulsively, and Josta was pulled off his back.
He was knocked down on the ground, and a sword was about to pierce his chest, but he was blocked by an invisible armor that couldn’t be pierced no matter what.
It was a spell Josta cast on him while on the road, allowing his body to face attacks like a solid stone for a certain period of time. But now he had no time to take care of himself. Josta was caught by Yegir and stepped on his feet with the long knives of two other soldiers.
“Don’t kill that slave, Chaffin,” Yegir said to the soldier who was about to stab again. “Tie him.”
The soldier nodded and handcuffed the struggling Gur to a stalagmite. Gur’s physique seemed to be stronger than the drow warriors, but these slender killers were even more powerful than him.
“Josta, you’re blind. Do you know how funny the slave was?” Yegir lifted Josta’s chin with the tip of his boot. “I noticed the times I went to see you. He looked at me with a murderous look in his eyes, but he was afraid to speak. Ha, this is so interesting.” He motioned to the soldiers to pull Josta up and looked at a shocked Gur at the stalagmite. Josta was silent, his gray eyes still looking straight ahead.
Yegir’s hand wandered lustfully over his brother’s body and continued, “Maybe you didn’t notice, Josta. Your slave must have wanted to fuck you too. So those few times, the more I noticed his gaze, the more I would torture you. You rarely screamed, then I had to make you faint in pain. Looking at the eyes of the half blood slave… It was the best entertainment.”
The drow soldiers made a gesture to their companions. They gathered around Josta and pointed Josta’s face towards Gur. They stroked the blind mage roughly and obscenely, slapped him a few times, and pushed him back to the ground.
Gur was unable to break free. He kept yelling, and didn’t even know what he was shouting. Tears blurred his vision. He knew that he couldn’t save his master. He wanted to close his eyes, but had to uncontrollably keep them open to watch.
However, he suddenly felt something was wrong. He saw a sudden expression on Josta’s cold face – Josta gave a gentle smile.
Gur’s heart stopped beating. He saw red.
Now Josta’s eyes were red in the dark cavern without cold flame lighting.
At that moment, Gur didn’t know whether he felt the heat or the cold. Josta’s side suddenly burst out a dazzling fire, which instantly engulfed the soldiers. Gur heard the screams coming from the flames, and they were still burned by a horrible fire when they rolled down.
In the light, Josta’s eyes turned cobalt blue with orange shadows. He cast two spells in succession, and two soldiers were killed before they could put out the fire. The other soldier and Yegir were both less injured, and as they quickly responded to shock and pain and stood up, a beam of lightning flashed through their chest.
As the flame died out and the light faded, Josta stood in front of Yegir, who was still alive, with bright red eyes.
His brother tried to grab the weapon in fear and tried to stand up, but failed. Instead of using a spell, Josta drew out a dagger shaped like a beast’s tooth and skillfully stabbed it into Yegir’s lower abdomen.
“Surprised? Yes, I can see,” Josta pulled out his dagger and looked at his struggling brother. “Do you want to know how I recovered? Before you’re dead, I can tell you – there’s no need to recover. I’ve been able to see the whole time. “
Yegir died painfully and slowly. Josta deliberately stabbed him in a place where he would die an agonizing death.
“Stand up, Chaffin.” Josta said to the soldier who had fallen to the ground and had been hit by a bolt of lightning. The soldier stood up in accordance with his words with a look of palpitation.
Gur saw this scene and completely lost his words, the two drow seemed to have forgotten him.
“Don’t look like you’re coming back from the dead. You couldn’t have died. The soft armor I gave you can absorb several magic attacks.” Josta said.
Chaffin bowed to thank him, but he couldn’t help asking, “But Lord Josta, aren’t you afraid that I’ll turn on you while wearing it? “
“Oh? I hope you won’t. It can only absorb the damage of shaping energy magic. If I use instant magic or something, you can only die in front of me.” Josta smiles gracefully.
“It should be about time, my Lord. Shall we go back?” So Chaffin decided not to mention that terrible question again.
Josta nodded, “According to the schedule, the mercenaries should begin to retreat. By this time, Corinthia should be dead. Let’s go back, and if she’s not dead, we can also help Cherna.”
“What?” Still strapped to the stalagmite, Gur listened to these words – these higher drow languages, and he was completely confused.
Josta didn’t answer. He sat on the other lizard Chaffin had prepared and went into the dark tunnel. His eyes were never blind, and gray was just a little trick of magic with potions, which he used every day – with the help of Gur – that covered up the traces of casting.
The war in the family city had gradually subsided, and the mercenaries retreated quietly. Cherna, once the second daughter, sat in the gem chair deep in the hall. On the terrace, Corinthia’s body fell over, having died a gruesome death, and her serpent-headed whip sliced to pieces.
Josta and the soldiers entered and knelt down in front of Cherna.
“Mistress cherna.” Josta’s voice and look were as soft and submissive as ever.
“And Yegir? He hasn’t come back yet? ” Cherna stroked her own snake whip with joy on her face. She could see that she didn’t care where Yegir was.
“He’s dead, Mistress,” Josta replied. “Please forgive me for killing him with Chaffin.”
“Oh? Why? “
“He thought you could help him become a new martial arts chief, so he wanted to use the current chaos to assassinate Chaffin…” Josta glanced at his sister in feigned fear. “Excuse me for taking the liberty of speculating about you, Mistress. I thought… I thought between him and Chaffin, you would choose to let Chaffin live. Moreover, in fact, Chaffin’s fighting ability is better than that of Yegir. Even if I didn’t help, Yegir would’ve died.”
Immersed in the sweetness of victory, the new matriarch was very pleased with Josta’s answer. She waved to the drow warrior named Chaffin, who stood up and walked over, half kneeling at her feet and kissing her fingers.
“I don’t blame you. You did a good job. Chaffin will be the future martial arts chief, and will also become my family’s father-in-law. Josta, the follow-up contact with the Giza family remains in your hand.” She ordered.
Josta saluted and respectfully exited the hall. He went back to his study and used magic items to get in touch with his students and allies.
Less than a few hours ago, he was standing at this desk, pretending to be blind and talking to Corinthia. He sat down with a sneer, reminiscent of the time before her death, and sighed deeply.
He had never been one of Corinthia’s people. After his allies helped the mercenaries provided by him to invade the family, they joined hands with Cherna’s men to kill Corinthia.
Josta thought of the slave, who had said to him stupidly, “This Priestess is very kind to you,” which made Josta shake his head with emotion.
No matter which sister one chose, the future would be the same for Josta. He would no longer be an aristocrat, but would still be a mage in his family. He would return to the academy to teach and continue to retain his submissive and soft appearance… It made no difference who one chose.
But he hated his adoptive mother, and even if it wasn’t for supporting Cherna, he had planned to kill her sooner or later. He also hated Yegir, and he couldn’t tolerate the fact that this arrogant guy could really become a family martial arts chief.
However, Josta suddenly felt a little understanding when he thought of Yegir. They all needed a corner where they could relax their nerves so that they didn’t get into trouble even if they acted stupid or crazy.
For Yegir, maybe that corner was him, but for him… Josta changed his soiled clothes, tied his long hair back, and walked out of the study.
Bound to the side of the stalagmite with his hands handcuffed, Gur was curled up with his eyes closed because of fatigue and fear. He heard a voice coming from the depths of the tunnel and couldn’t help thinking of what Josta had taught him… about all kinds of terrifying monsters prowling in the caves of the dark region.
“What’s your name?”
A familiar voice sounded not far away, and Gur looked up and saw Josta jump off a larger lizard mount.
Gur was stunned and didn’t understand what his master meant. He watched as Josta approached, a little happy that… Josta didn’t just leave him here.
Josta squatted down to help him untie his restraints and continued, “I asked you, what’s your name?”
“My… name is Gur,” The slave answered.
“I asked for your old name,” Josta said. “Gur was my name for you. Before that, what were you called? “
“…Saenlei.” The slave answered. That was the name his mother had given him, and it has been many years since anyone had called him by it.
He stood in front of his master. Because of the height difference, he looked down at his master drow, while the drow looked at him with a smile. At the moment when he said his name, he suddenly felt that he was free, not a slave, not a commodity of the slum streets, as if he had a closer relationship with the drow in front of him.
Josta nodded, “The word meaning “sunshine” in some common language on the surface. I don’t know what your half-drow mother thought when giving you such a terrible name.”
His tone was playful, but Gur – or Saenlei – was eager to refute this remark. He wanted to say that maybe it wasn’t a terrible word for his mother, and the sky she described was like Josta’s blue eyes…
But in dark, dark places, Josta’s eyes were red. Gur tried to reach out and hold Josta’s wrist, but he didn’t dare. Josta observed his changing expression, leaned over with a chuckle, pulled his neck down and pressed his lips to his.
Gur had never imagined that a drow’s kiss would be so soft and intoxicating. Last time, the touch almost made him dizzy. When he tried to hug Josta again, he was pushed away.
“You are free, slave. Go away.” Josta said.
Gur was stunned and didn’t understand what he meant.
Josta pointed to the passage behind a gully, “I was lucky to have you when I pretended to be blind. Now that you’re free, leave.”
“No… I swore, I would always be true to you.” He subconsciously reached out to grab Josta’s arms, but he heard a crackling sound. His hands were stabbed by an invisible object, and his hands felt a sharp pain.
Gur shuddered as he looked at his master and tentatively asked, “Did something go wrong with your family?” You… don’t need to drive me away, I will always follow you… Shall we leave together? Let’s go through those tunnels to…”
“I said, you are free, you can go anywhere you want,” His master waved impatiently. “Do you think it’s better to die than to be free?”
Gur stood still. He watched Josta turn back to the lizard’s back and give him a command to turn around.
“If you have to come back and be killed, I can’t help it. This is the greatest kindness I can ever repashshowowy you. The road behind you leads to the tunnel in the dark region, and maybe you’ll have a chance to get to the damn surface. “
Josta paused and finally said, “I’m satisfied with you, but I don’t need you anymore.”
“Josta…” For the first time, he called the drow’s name, and he was not his master, “You’re a drow… You enjoy that.”
His former master disappeared in the deep tunnel and didn’t look back.
With the curved blade that Josta had given him, he picked up some of the weapons from the drow who had died earlier, and took off their armor and cloak.
He looked at the tunnel that led deeper into the dark region. The entrance was like the door of the underworld, opening its mouth as if to swallow anyone who was close to it. He walked towards it as if to the abyss of death.
He didn’t understand why Josta asked for his real name, or why Josta had to untie the shackles and say goodbye to him if he was to be abandoned or killed.
Gur had the blood of orcs, the blood of surface elves, human blood, and drow’s blood. These things gave him a strong body, light movements, eyes with dark vision, and a name meaning sunshine, but they didn’t make him more inclined to the surface or the drow world.
He knew that behind him was death, and the front was almost equal to death. He thought that even if he died alone in the silent and dangerous dark region, he wouldn’t feel afraid. Because he had nothing to love, he didn’t lose Josta.
Because he never had him.
- Menzoberranzan, the “City of Spiders”, is a fictional city-state in the world of the Forgotten Realms, a Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting. The city is located in the Upper Northdark, about two miles below the Surbrin Vale, between the Moonwood and the Frost Hills. Approximately 20,000 drow live in the city, with 1,000 of them considered nobles of the 60-70 noble houses. Slaves included bugbears, goblins, ogres, ogrillons, orcs, minotaurs, quaggoths, trolls, and kobolds.