|I'm Different, Just Like Everyone Else!
Author: Icy Mike Molson PM
A renegade drow finally escapes his dark life in the Underdark, to find something very odd in Waterdeep....Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 2,136 - Reviews: 33 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 1 - Published: 06-20-05 - id: 2447319
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
All I ask is that I don't need to point out that this is a satire.
Tazzyr Mae'Rahel could barely contain his elation as the spires and walls of the majestic city of Waterdeep finally came into view, set against the pristine backdrop of the sun setting into the Sea of Swords. For weeks he had traveled the surface, beginning in the desolate wastes of Anauroch, then through the Greycloak Hills, and finally into the High Forest that would be his last barrier to reaching Waterdeep. He traveled by night, both to protect his sensitive lavender eyes from the brilliant sun and to protect himself from the humans and surface elves he might have come across. He was drow, one of the hated dark elves that had been cast into the Underdark, and his ebony skin, he was certain, would be a death sentence if any should discover his true nature. He had heard of Waterdeep, the great city before him, during his travels from the Underdark, and he knew that if he would be accepted anywhere, Waterdeep would be that place.
Tazzyr hesitated a moment longer on the road, pulling his heavy cloak more tightly around him to protect himself from detection. The fields and plains around Waterdeep were full of people. Humans, of course, dominated the landscape, but there were others, as well. Halflings made their way between carts and wagons, perhaps showing their race's incorrigible talent for larceny or just to avoid the far larger humans. Elves, occasional but certainly present, gracefully made their way into and out of the towering human city, apparently having long since carved a niche for themselves inside Waterdeep's mighty walls. Although that possibility gave Tazzyr some hope for the future, it also worried him immensely. Would the faeries of the surface turn on him? Would they realize that he had forsaken the ways of his evil kind? Could they forgive him for his kin's atrocities, committed on so many nights past?
Tazzyr shuddered at that last thought. He himself was guilty of the atrocities of his people, in a way. When he had first graduated from Melee-Magthere, the daunting school of arms in his former home of Menzoberranzen, he had been sent on a surface raid with other newly graduated members of his class. His hesitation had cost him the chance to kill two of the surface elves they had raided that night, but he felt responsible for their deaths nonetheless. Matron LiNeeer, his mother and the matron of House Mae'Rahel, had been furious that her son, who had graduated at the top of his class, had not been able to claim even one kill as his own, and had punished him soundly for his mistakes. Once he had recovered from Matron LiNeeer's snake headed whip, Tazzyr had quietly left Menzoberranzen, praying that his family would not be able to track him through the lightless Underdark.
With his cloak down over his handsome face and lavender eyes, Tazzyr looked down to the twin scimitars that he wore on his hips. He was a master of those blades, a fighter without equal with his magical weapons, but he could only hope that he would not need to draw his scimitars within the walls of this city. He had managed to learn some of the surface common language, but as he slipped quietly between the wagons and through the yawing eastern gate of Waterdeep, he hoped he would not have to try to explain his reason for entering the city to an enraged populace.
The setting sun had not yet dipped low enough to cloak the wide, colorful streets of Waterdeep in shadows, but the faint sting to Tazzyr's eyes was forgotten as he gazed about him in wonder. Shops of every kind lined the bustling thoroughfares, selling anything the renegade drow could imagine and more. People of every description floated past him, thankfully not trying to peer into the shadows of his cloak to find the drow hidden beneath the fabric. Tazzyr could not help but gawk at the open, friendly city, so unlike the paranoid home he had left behind in the Underdark.
As Tazzyr looked up to the beautiful tower ion the center of the city, however, his hood suddenly slipped back from his face. The full impact of the light on his sensitive eyes was only an afterthought as he frantically pulled his hood back up over his face, praying that no one had seen his ebony skin and pointed ears. For an agonizing moment the renegade drow held his breath and glanced around him, but if anyone had glimpsed his true nature, they were too afraid to mention it.
"I need to get off the streets," Tazzyr whispered to himself. He glanced around him quickly, and his eyes settled almost instantly on a lively tavern to his left. The sign over the door was brightly painted in tones of crimson and gold on the plain wood backdrop. If he was able to read the humans' language correctly, the tavern was called the Tired Cliché. Perhaps a retired bard owned the inn. "It's as good a place as any," Tazzyr decided. Without wasting another second, the drow slipped inside the tavern's doors.
The inside of the tavern was brightly illuminated by a number of lanterns, but Tazzyr kept his eyes on the floor and the cowl of his cloak up as much to shield his identity as his eyes. He could hear one or two murmured comments as he made his way to the long bar set on the opposite side of the room, but Tazzyr ignored them the best he could as he sat down at the bar.
"What can I get you, friend?" the barkeep inquired, leaning on the counter in front of him as Tazzyr tried to hide within his cloak.
"I, uh… wine, please," the drow said quietly.
"Wine," the barkeep repeated. He had a deep, hearty voice, one that Tazzyr could easily associate with a burly, barrel chested and thickly bearded human. "We have several wines, friend. Did you have any specific vintage in mind?"
"I… no, not really," Tazzyr replied. "Which… which would you recommend?"
"Calimshan spiced wine," the barkeep said. Tazzyr could tell that the man was grinning without even looking up from the scarred wood of the bar. Within seconds, a glass of peach colored wine had been placed on the counter in front of him. "Very good, but not cheap. Six silvers, if you would."
"Of course," Tazzyr said, reaching down to his pouch. He had made certain to take as much money as he could steal from House Mae'Rahel; for the moment, six silver was easily affordable.
"You know, friend, you can take off your cloak," the barkeep suggested, one burly hand closing over the gold piece that Tazzyr had dropped on the counter. "I'd like to think my bar is not that cold."
Tazzyr hesitated for a long moment, considering the offer. The barkeep certainly sounded friendly enough, and it was true that Tazzyr would not be able to creep around Waterdeep hidden inside his cloak forever. Slowly, the drow lifted his hands to his hood, bracing himself as he pushed the hood back from his face. Certainly the barkeep would not be able to keep his initial fear and revulsion in check; Tazzyr was incredibly handsome, but he was also drow. Tazzyr turned his lavender eyes on the barkeep, ready for the initial reaction, but the barkeep did nothing but chuckle faintly.
"I bet that feels better, friend," the barkeep said. Tazzyr's initial impression of the human serving his had been dead on, from the barrel chest to the thick, unruly black beard that almost hid his broad grin, but all of that was simply an afterthought as he stared in shock at the smiling human. "It had to be downright warm inside that cape."
"I… you…" Tazzyr stammered out, completely unable to comprehend the barkeep's nonchalant response to his newest customer.
"Still struggling with common, eh?" the human quipped. "I assure you, it's far better than my undercommon."
"But… you… I'm a drow," Tazzyr stuttered out, amazed that he had found such a tolerant human that… knew a little bit of undercommon?
"So it would seem," the barkeep said. He extended one large hand to the astonished dark elf. "Name's Vinson."
"Tazzyr," the drow said, shaking Vinson's hand. Truth be told, he was too stunned to do anything else.
"So, what brings you to the Tired Cliché?" Vinson inquired, pouring another glass of beer for a waitress that came to the bar. Like Vinson, the young human girl seemed to simply accept the dark elf with a simple nod of her head before she disappeared back into the tavern.
"I… I fled my home in Menzoberranzen," Tazzyr began cautiously. "I… I couldn't stand to live in that city."
"Nasty place, or so I've heard," Vinson agreed. Again Tazzyr could simply stare at the human.
"You… know of my home?" the dark elf asked, his lavender eyes wide with shock. Vinson nodded.
"I get the occasional dark elf renegade," the barkeep explained with a bit of a grin. He waved a hand to the bar behind him. "I wager they make up thirty-six percent of my clientele."
Tazzyr looked back to the tables behind him, and nearly fell off his bar stool in shock. While they did not quite predominate in the common room, Vinson was absolutely right. Two dark elves, one male and one female, sat in a table close to the wall, their watchful lavender eyes on the crowd around them. Another young drow woman, exquisitely beautiful with scarlet hair that nearly matched her eyes, sat at another table with a young human dressed in plate mail, carefully sipping her wine as she studied a magical tome. Yet another dark elf, her beauty surpassing that of most of the drow women Tazzyr had known in Menzoberranzen, sat just in front of him, resting gently in the arms of a moon elf!
"How…" Tazzyr could barely manage the words.
"I don't know, exactly, but it's been a hell of a boon to business for me," Vinson said, regaining the drow's attention. Tazzyr turned back to him as he spoke. "I don't know all about it, but apparently I owe some fellow named Do'Urden for the sudden jump in business. I figure I get at least one new renegade drow a week here at the Cliché. Most times they do come from Menzoberranzen, but I get the occasional castoff from Ched Nasad or some other city. Some simply pass through, but others stay for quite some time. And I don't know how they do it, but they all seem to find their way right to me."
"They… all come here?" Tazzyr echoed.
"Yup," Vinson agreed. "I certainly don't mind, though. Considering all the magic weapons and armor and other items you have, I've yet to see a drow who couldn't pay for his room and board. Say what you want about how your kin are all evil, but they also must be very rich."
"I… yes," Tazzyr said hesitantly. He glanced back over his shoulder once more, then turned back to the innkeeper. "I… don't suppose you have a room, do you? I… I think I may be staying for a while."
"We certainly do," Vinson said happily. He chuckled slightly. "We just built another extension for occasions just like this. Been a busy week, even for the Cliché. And you're doubly lucky today. We just started the Underdark Special. Just a single gold piece for the night."
"Thank you," Tazzyr said, growing more and more comfortable with the pleasant bartender. The dark elf placed another gold coin on the counter, and Vinson happily slid a key across the bar. Tazzyr finally smiled as he looked at the key, and picked up his glass of wine. "Thank you very much, Vinson."
"Not a problem," Vinson said, wiping his hands on his apron. Tazzyr toasted slightly, then drank down the tasty beverage with a contented sigh.
As Tazzyr placed the glass back down on the counter, another slim, cloaked figure slid carefully up to the bar, identifiably female even under the heavy cape she wore. Although she was certainly careful to hide it, Tazzyr noticed a slender ebony hand appear for the briefest moment from the folds of the heavy cloak. Vinson, for his part, simply turned to his new customer after a faint, knowing smile to Tazzyr.