Menzoberranzan is not a nice place to visit. Hells, it isn't even a nice place to live, unless you happen to be drow. And even then, you have to be of noble birth and female to truly reap the benefits of the jewel of Lolth's eye. This is the story of one such female dark elf. Only she had the disadvantage that the other females did not. She lacked one crucial element that would have made her life so much simpler. So much more...drow. Dierna N'a'baernan was the fourth born sister and sixth child of her House. Matron N'a'baernan considered herself in high favor when her fourth daughter was born. The more priestesses the better. She had plans to move up the chain of noble houses very soon, (by drow elf standards, very soon could have been within a century) and she knew that her daughters would be a true blessing in her plotting. Being Matron of the twelfth house of Menzoberranzan (at the time, before, know) was far enough away from the bottom, and close enough to the council to make one have sights set on high reached glory. Nat'lalia, Dierna's second oldest sister, had recently graduated from Arach-Tinilth, and Matron N'a'baernan decided that she would be the best choice to train Dierna and prepare her for the Academy. There were many things a young drow must learn before being sent to learn how to pray to Lolth and cast the spells she sends. Nat'lalia found out rather quickly, that Dierna was different. She began teaching her simple prayers, but Dierna cried when she spoke the words. When she would protest the prayers, Nat'lalia would beat her with her recently aquired snake headed whip. The vipers attached to the handle would bite and inject various venoms into the young drow. When Dierna was silenced from the pain and volume of toxins in her body, Nat'lalia would heal her wounds, and purge her system of poison. The next day, they would begin again. Now, Nat'lalia only taught Dierna prayers. It was not the elder sister's teaching methods that were to blame for the younger's inability to preform magic, she simply could not. Or would not. Either way, it seemed that she would be a disgrace to the family, and Nat'lalia was planning to come up with a way to rid them all of such an affront. Before she could think of such a thing, however, Dierna began her marital fighting lessons. The weapons master of the house, and Dierna's oldest brother, Tri'algan taught these particular sessions. Tri'algan was a very good fighter, he had earned the title of weapons master properly. He killed the previous one in combat, which happened to be his father. He was curious as to who Dierna's father was, because on her first day, she learned everything he taught her. She loved the weapons. All of them. She favored the long swords, however, and it seemed the heavier the blade she picked up, the happier and better she fought. Tri'algan and Nat'lalia discussed her troubles with the girl, and his lack therof. She told him that the suspected father (between gossip spoken around the other sisters) of Dierna was the head weapons master of Melee-Magthere. It began to make more sense as they watched the child. Nat'lalia continued to punish Dierna daily for her inability to pray to Lolth and cast magic. How could she send her to Arach-Tinilith like this? It was simple, she could not. She went to Matron N'a'baernan to tell her what she was dealing with. After a long discussion, the Matron decided that Dierna would attend the fighter's academy, to gain what knowledge she could. There had to be some way to use her... Being a female of a noble house, Dierna was escorted home daily, instead of sleeping with the other trainees. Her youngest sister S'rinth would greet her with a wicked smile as she walked down the halls. Every day, her sisters snatched her up, and carried her to the house's menagarie. The large enclosure was filled with various species of Underdark spiders. All larger than Dierna was tall, and every last one poisonous. As she screamed, her sisters threw her in. As she screamed, they commanded the spiders to attack the youngest daughter of House N'a'baernan. And just before she would die from the possible gallons of venom in her blood, the hateful and truly wicked sisters of Dierna would call the spiders off, and bring their shameful sister back to normal health. The ordeal was still taxing on her, and she found herself struggling daily with her fight training. But she was determined evermore, and her sisters did not think it could be possible, but their daily torture helped her more than hindered. She fought harder and harder every day. The weapons of choice were laid out to her before her first Grand Melee. She found the largest and heaviest sword she could, and had to kick another student in the groin to get it. It was drow made, and enchanted, but she did not care. It was huge, and heavy. She could truly do some damage now. The contest began, and she ran. She ran as hard as she could, while the others hid in the darkness. Her instructors stood above the arena on catwalks, watching for battles. The loser of a battle was bathed in a blue light, and told to leave the arena. Dierna knew that she would not hear her opponent coming, but she hoped that they would hear her, and try to ambush her. Her tactic worked, because when they jumped out to attempt to catch her by surprise, she would swing her heavier weapon with as much ease as they would wield a dagger, and put them down. She did not use lethal force in her battles during this training exercise. But she was aware, that she could have killed every last one of these males. She won that first Grand Melee, and every one after that. Her last year at Melee-Magthere was her favorite. This was when she went out on patrols into the wilds of the Underdark. It was here she learned the most. Her lessons back in the academy were not what she would have called informative. The lore master spoke well, and enraptured the other students with his stories of the hateful sun and the evil faerie folk who were her cousins. She did not understand why, but none of this felt right to her. She did not speak her concerns aloud. It would be unwise to say she did not understand, or did not believe what was being taught. Noble female or not, it would have been heresy to contradict the teachings of the Lolth following. She still did not understand about Lolth, the Spider Queen. How could a deity teach hatred and spite? How could a superior being allow her to be treated like she was every day? Possibly she was the one who was wrong. But it did not feel so to her. She only knew that she was not like these creatures. She would take what she could from them, and then figure out a way to escape. The patrols would be her way of learning all she could. It was during her last year, when a student of Sorcere accompanied the patrols, a very intelligent drow named Gr'zym. Gr'zym belonged to House Mizzrym, who were known for their skill in arcane illusions.

Dierna became attracted to Gr'zym because of the fact that he was not a fighter. He was intelligent and talented in his craft. And being from Sorcere, he tended to go against the natural way of things. As much as he could get away with, at least. To the fighters, he was flippant, and condescending.
To Dierna, he was pleasant, and sometimes helpful. At the time, she was still beautiful. She wore her hair in long, thin braids all over her head. She had tied adamantine beads to the ends of each braid, and had learned how to use them as a quite efficient weapon in battle. A quick whip of her head could distract or even injure her opponent. She kept her body covered, for her torso was covered in bites and other various scars. Only her face was yet untouched. Gr'zym liked her because she was not as overly dominant towards him like the other females. She was by no means subservient, but she did not command him to do anything. She asked. The two would continuously pair up during patrol runs, and speak silently to each other in the hand code of the drow. Their relationship became more and more unlike that of fighting partners, and more akin to lovers. As she was the most capable of the fighters she was sent out to scout ahead in the patrol tunnels. Gr'zym would follow her and keep her protected with defensive magic, along with adding extra enchantment on her weapon. She would gladly walk in front of the rest, grinning wildly at the chance to vent some rage. Gr'zym would catch himself staring at her while she moved in battle, dancing among her opponents. She never hesitated to rush at a group of beasts. Her fiercest battle was against a group of quaggoth, or deep bears. Five of the beasts, weilding stone clubs, and their own huge claws, stood in one of the tunnels. Dierna and Gr'zym were the only two to see the creatures so far. The rest of the patrol were at least thirty yards behind them. The huge white furred beasts smelled food, and dashed at the pair. With a resounding cackle, a noise the rest of the patrol down the hall knew as her battle cry, she rushed at the beasts. The patrol knew, that if they did not hurry, there would be no fight left for them. Dierna did not like to share. It did not matter how many foes were in her way, she considered them all her own personal challenge. The quaggoth were not phased in the slightest by the sight of this five foot tall creature headed their way. Even if she carried a blade that was as long as she was tall. Her piercing cackle made them wince, sensitive ears catching the sound much too easily for their tastes. The first one to reach her tried to swipe at her with a meaty paw, but only succeeded in missing her horribly as she ducked beneath the swing, sliding between the wide stance of the bipedal bear. His look of confusion was almost comical as he saw his own innards fall to the floor of the cave. She had sliced across his belly as she made her way past him. Skidding to her feet, she heard Gr'zym speak a command word from his safe vantage point at the curve of the tunnel. She felt herself speeding up from his hasting spell. Her remaining four targets now moved ever so much slower to her perception. Gr'zym knew that she would take her time, killing at least two more of the creatures before the patrol caught up. She liked to demonstrate often, how she was superior to them, lest they ever forget. He also knew the other reason she did such things. These patrols were her only source of joy. It pleased her a great deal to prove that she was indeed worth something. The remaining monsters found that they did not have enough room to attack her en masse. Dierna held her sword above her head, leveling the point at the pair who both carried clubs. The two took too long in deciding who would attack first, and she sprang at the one on her left. Sweeping her sword in a right/left diagonal arc, she cut the creature from shoulder to hip. The remaining of the pair did not hesitate any longer, and lunged at her, only to find that she was no longer there. She had levitated over it's head, landing behind it as it passed. She drove her sword through it's spine quickly, listening to it fall to the ground, alive but paralyzed. She immediately launched herself at the next pair, who were now ready for her. One of the quaggoth, carrying a club as big as Dierna, swung with feeling, and caught her in the air. She slid on her side, seemingly unconscious, all the way to the wall. The slobbering beast was quick to dive onto her, flipping her onto her back, hoping for a quick throat ripping finish. As she turned over, however, her fist came barreling at it's head, producing a resounding crunch that the fashionably late patrol now heard too well. The bear was only momentarily shaken by this, and continued to try to get at her exposed flesh. She then pulled her knees to her chest, and kicked with both feet into the creatures throat. His now collapsed larynx would not allow him any more air, and he fell over and waited to die. Knowing that her audience had finally arrived, she eyed up the last beast, looking for the best way to end it. It was enraged by the death of it's clan mates, and fairly well cornered. It had nothing to lose. As it rushed at her, arms flailing and club swinging, she parried the club, and with the aid of her House insignia, she levitated quickly at the quaggoth, driving her knee into it's jaw. It staggered back, blinking the spots from it's eyes. It did not see Dierna calmly step up to it, and then jump up and drive the hilt of her sword into it's temple, killing it instantly. She walked back toward the group, stopping at the still living, but paralyzed deep bear. She straddled it's back, sitting on it's shoulder blades. Leaning her sword against the massive beast, she grabbed both sides of it's head. Then, in an uncommon show of strength for one her size, she twisted the creature's head, breaking it's neck with a sickening sound. She stood up, reclaimed her sword, and walked over to Gr'zym. She patted him on the shoulder in thanks, and moved past the group down the tunnel. The patrol only stared openmouthed at the five dead quaggoth, not one of which so much as scratched the woman who had killed them.

Dierna's joy from her patrols did not last long, once she knew she had to return home. Tri'algan had heard about all she was doing in the tunnels, down to her friendship with Gr'zym. He requested a council with his sisters, so that he might put them to action with his telling. A guard arrived and announced that they would see him. Brinayne spoke first, as she was the eldest sister, and ranking priestess. The others in the room all knew, however, that she valued her looks over all, and the middle sister Nat'lalia was more favored. She only waited for her chance. "What are you bothering us with now?" Brinayne sneered, having already heard the full report on Dierna's behavior, but wanting him to go through the trouble of telling it again. "Our sister has become quite strong. More to the point, she is the strongest fighter in her class, and is more capable than her instructors. The others in her patrol squad have not fought an invading beast in months." Tri'algan recounted. He stared at the floor, knowing that if he even dared to glance up, the youngest of the sisters present, would have him whipped and on his back before he had done anything wrong. Shizara was overzealous that way. Tri'algan just thought she needed some time alone with a male. Brinayne scoffed, bringing him out of his reverie. "Why do we care if she is superior to jaluks? She should at least do something of note."
Shizara and Nat'lalia shot murderous glares at their elder sister, considering simply killing her now for her stupidity. Tri'algan took a deep breath, trying to gather his words carefully. "She is also becoming rather close to the mage who travels with them. Gr'zym of House Mizzrym. They act like darthiir, smiling and fawning around each other. My contact said that he thought it was shameful for a female noble to act in such a manner." Nat'lalia spoke up then. "And even though he is very correct, you will kill him for stating so." "It was done the moment he stopped speaking, dear sister." he confirmed.
"Of course it was. Now, what do we think we should do, sisters? She should be home before Narbondel is dark." Brinayne asked. "We fix it so she is no longer a distraction to the mage." Shizara suggested. "Indeed, since we cannot afford to get negative attention from Mizzrym, we must punish who we can for this disgrace." Nat'lalia added. Brinayne looked at her younger sisters with a slightly confused glance. She caught herself and quickly turned to their brother. "We will take care of this. And not one word to anyone outside this room." she attempted vainly to sound dominating over her brother. Tri'algan rose to leave, but stole a glance to Nat'lalia, who smiled evilly, and he responded by signing quickly in the hand code. "Stupid elg'caress, why don't you kill her?" Nat'lalia replied back, watching the clueless Brinayne work out the meeting in her head. "In due time."

Dierna returned home to find without suprise, her sisters were waiting for her in her room. She could only sigh, knowing what was about to happen. "Just like every other time", she thought to herself. But this would be quite different than all the other times. Shizara and Nat'lalia had come up with some new tricks. And the smiles they were wearing, told Dierna that she was in for a very long night. "Sister dear, do sit down, we have so much to catch up on." Brinayne said sweetly. Dierna put her sword in it's stand, and sat on her bed. It was the only place left in the room. She hung her head, and said nothing. They had already decided the game, and she knew that she may as well let them play it. It was always so much easier that way. "Why do you frown so?" Brinayne continued, pouting as if she was saddened by Dierna's countenance. "We have come to offer congratulations. We have heard such great things about you. Like how you could single-handedly wipe out Melee-Magthere." she almost laughed, but caught herself. Dierna had to catch her own self, because the realization that Brinayne was reciting words dictated to her from one of her other sisters dawned on her. Brinayne was not smart enough to come up with dialogue like that. "We have also heard that you have made an aquaintance there in your patrols." Shizara added. "Yes, a mage from House Mizzrym, is he not?" Nat'lalia smirked as she confirmed Dierna's train of thought. "Do not concern yourself with him, useless elg'caress..." Nat'lalia spat. "We cannot afford to have Mizzrym's eyes on us right now." Dierna glanced up at each of them, seeing the sickly sweet smiles that she entered the room to, removed and replaced by the grins of demons about to play. Without any warning, Nat'lalia had her snake-headed whip out and caught Dierna across the face with it. The living snakes bit at her flesh and pumped their nerve damaging poison into her cheeks and eyes. All went dark as she was numb to what happened next. They were on her in an instant, Brinayne clubbing Dierna on the head with her mace, which held a paralyzing enchantment. Now she could not fight back at all. They knew that if she had her control, she was strong enough to beat them all to death with their own limbs. They lay her prone on her bed, removing her armor. Shizara sat above Dierna's head, holding a razor sharp blade. Dierna could hear them cackle and jeer at her as Shizara began shaving her scalp, removing each braid one by one. She could not even cry as she heard the adamantine beads hit the floor, knowing that her hair was still tied to them. While Shizara finished her butchering of Dierna's hair, Nat'lalia began cutting her face. With a surgeon's precision, she severed the muscles and tendons that control the movement and structure of Dierna's face. When she had finished with her work, and looked upon a now sagging and sullen creature, she looked up to see that Shizara had finished her job. Dierna's scalp was shaven clean. "Now", she said to Brinayne, "we let the spiders do their work." They carried her to the menagerie, passing no guards, for they had already told them to vacate the hallways that they would be using. Not that they cared if they saw, but they thought the empty path served to give Dierna even more sense of hopelessness. They dropped her none too gently on the ground in front of the doors. After removing the rest of her clothing, they opened the doors, and threw her in. Nat'lalia mentally commanded the spiders to come after Dierna, as they had many times before. This time, Dierna was already feeling the effects of the snake's venom. Now the spiders closed in, and began biting her, over and over again. She could not even flinch in reflex. Her body was numb. "Oh my, now this is much better than the old way." Brinayne chuckled. "I don't know, I rather liked to hear her scream and cry." Shizara pouted. "Well, I can fix that." Nat'lalia promised. She whispered a prayer to Lolth, and focused on Dierna's prone form. Slowly, Dierna began to move. The paralysis was gone. Now, she began shaking violently. All the toxins in her body had caused her to go into a massive seizure. Her mouth was covered in thick froth, and she was gagging, her tongue attempting to close off her airway. She broke her fingernails off, convulsing against the ground, digging her fingers into the unforgiving stone. She could not scream, or cry, or even plead for help. She was dying. "How long are you going to wait before calling them off?" Brinayne asked. "Are you concerned?" Shizara looked at her elder sister with loathing. She and Nat'lalia were waiting for a moment when Brinayne showed the slightest weakness, other than her usual idiocy. "No, I am not, but it would not do to have her die, it would ruin the whole effect of our work. We want the Mizzrym to see her. Wasn't that the plan?" she actually seemed to make sense for once. "Yes, that is the plan." Nat'lalia called the spiders off of Dierna, who now lay very still. She would have been just as happy to see her dead. She held her hand over Dierna's heart, and began another prayer. When Dierna's life signs were back to something resembling satisfactory, they moved her back to her room. Shizara was put in charge of healing Dierna, so that she could get back to her patrols on time. Shizara healed Dierna's face, hoping to get creative with the muscles again. When she had healed what Nat'lalia had damaged, she noticed a peculiar side effect of the poison. As a result of Dierna's seizure, the left side of her face remained drooping and numb. Dierna was awake, but would not look at her sister. She stared at the wall, trying not to move at all. Shizara poked her with a dagger on her right side, watching her wince. She repeated the same thing on her left, and saw that Dierna could not feel anything on her left side. Smiling brightly, she laughed."Well, you will not be such a splendid fighter now. I would wager a guess that you are even blind in your left eye." Dierna only nodded, she could never speak to her sisters, they always punished her again when she did. "Well, I think that I will have to give you some feeling there, at least from the neck down." she laughed giddily as she spoke the needed prayer to the Spider Queen. When Dierna was well enough to return to patrol, her hair had only grown a small bit, and she looked like one of the males, with her cropped scalp. Her face was normal on one side, but the left, still hung like it was weighed down with lead. The males would not make jest to her face, but she knew when she was not looking, they were talking about her. Knowing that they were now better than she was. She waited for Gr'zym to arrive, for that would be the real test. She did not wait long, for he was there when she turned away from the fighters. He looked her over quietly, and frowned. "What has happened to you?" he signed. "My sisters found a new game." she responded, looking to the left, to hide her ruined face. Gr'zym made sure that none of the others saw his hands, and he told her, "it does not matter to me, they have not changed you." He nodded to her, and went about his usual routine of preparing for the patrol. She did not know what to do. This was not the way a drow behaved. Not the way a drow behaved, aside from her, that was. All the other males would never have said anything kind like that. She was ruined, and they would have found a way to use that against her. Drow were opportunists, and any opportunity to rid yourself of a rival, was taken. Gr'zym never once treated her differently because of the way she looked. They continued to scout ahead, and he helped her more now, because of her ailment. She would not let her handicap limit her, and she pushed harder to remain at the same level she was before her sisters had their way with her.

The males who patrolled with Dierna now wished that she had never been tortured by her sisters. They found it amusing at first. She no longer had her looks, and they could tell that she now had a weak side. After Gr'zym spoke to her however, she became more and more confident. She made a quick example out of the closest male to say a negative remark about her, just to prove her continued competence. He was at least six inches taller than her, and was anything but frail. To make further proof to the patrol in audience that she was not as unable as they thought, she used her left arm to lift him from the ground. Using his belt, she jerked hard toward his chest, applying pressure to his groin and genitals, putting him under her control. He could not have resisted her if he wanted to. The only thing on his mind was the unimaginable pain she was applying to his manhood. After one or two arm curls with the now whimpering and helpless male, she extended her arm fully, and shook him like a rag doll. The rest of the patrol groaned loudly, wincing as the pitiful sounding drow flailed about at the end of her arm. Uncharacteristic for drow, they all felt a sudden sympathy for him. They all knew that given proper provocation and means, she would do the very same thing to them. "Care to speak your words again? I do not believe that I heard you correctly." she spat at him, giving him another shake. "I...I..." he breathed heavily, trying to gain his composure enough to answer, too afraid to lie to her and risk further wrath. "I said...that at least now...we had another competent male on the patrol..." as he finished his last word, his eyes rolled back in his head, and he passed out. She dropped him to the ground and turned to look at the others. "Could there possibly be anyone else who would like to make jest about Dierna?" she growled. "For if any one of you incompetent jaluks think that you have any advantage over me, even now, I will be glad to show you the error of your thoughts." She gave the male on the floor a kick in his ribs for emphasis. They all shook their heads, eyes wide in actual fear at the thought that this new Dierna was worse than the one they had grown to despise before. This was not Dierna the proud, this one was Dierna the wrathful. Before her punishment, she had nothing to prove. They all were aware of her abilities. But now, it was much worse. Now she had to make certain to them daily that she was more than able to hold herself as she always had. She had to show that what they had seen of her before, was far from her best. When she saw that she had made her point quite clear, she picked their patrol leader and instructor up from the ground, and stirred him awake. He made a weak gasping sound and then turned to the rest of the group. "W..well are we all ready to move out?" he asked. It was never spoken of out loud, but the message was obvious to them all. Leave this elg'caress alone. No one ridiculed the patrol leader for her treatment. Being their instructor, he could have fought and killed them all. Gr'zym stood back and tried to keep himself from laughing at these fools. He had warned them about her, but of course they would not listen. What does a mage know about the melee fighters, anyway? "I may not know about fighters, idiots...but I know Dierna." he chuckled quietly finally to himself, shaking his head and moving along beside her. "That was rather good." he signed to her in the hand code. "It only takes one." she replied, staying on his left side so that she could see his hands. So much was different. She had so many things that she had to relearn how to do. "I believe my point was made." "Oh, I am certain. There is no doubt that they are all changed men now." He winked at her, and they went further down the tunnels, just like they had always done. "I have to ask you something." he signed again, when they were far enough away from the group. "When we finish with this patrol, I want you to come with me, instead of returning to your House." She blinked at him, and asked, "Why?" "I want you to see my House, and I would like to spend time with you, outside of the patrol tunnels." he replied, smiling warmly. "They will be angry if I do not return home soon after our return." she returned, looking slightly nervous at his line of thought. "Dierna, are you truly afraid of them? Or is it that you do not want to spend time with me?" he asked. " is not the problem..." she sighed, then smiled. "I will go with you." He gave her hand a squeeze, and they continued on down the tunnel, both thinking of what would be the first time they have ever been together without ten others within a few yards of them. What could possibly happen? They would just have to wait and see.

Gr'zym led Dierna through House Mizzrym. She walked with a great deal of trepidation, fearing the scrutiny of his family. She was not a priestess, nor was she even attractive. At least those were things that she expected them to care about. Gr'zym was the elder boy of the House, and he told her that he was able to do what he wanted, provided that he did not disgrace the House publicly, and all orders given to him were followed without deviation or failure. No one they passed seemed to care that she was even there. They arrived at his room and he spoke with one of the servants quietly about bringing them some food and drink to the room. He opened the door for her, and she went inside, looking at the richly decorated quarters. It was a great deal larger than hers, full of cabinets and bookshelves. All of the other furniture was currently being used for the same purposes as said shelves, which was the job of keeping grimoires and spell components somewhere. He went to a very plush chair, and cleared it off for her to sit. Gr'zym then moved to a corner, busying himself with something there. "Your room is so much better than mine. I do not even have half the space that you have." she mused, wanting to flip through one of the books on the table next to her seat. She hesitated in doing so, not certain that if she even disturbed the pages, a spell might go off. "It is not much really, I feel like I live in a library." he replied, smiling warmly at her. "You can look at whatever catches your eye. You have not been trained to enact the spells contained in the books." "Are you reading my mind?" she asked bemusedly, knowing that the idea must have been plain on her face. "And what if I am?" He crossed his arms and leaned against his desk. He was wearing a suggestive smirk that made her feel strangely warm. "Well, you might see something there that I do not care for you to see." she chided him, flipping through the pages, not really looking at them, but keeping her head down, avoiding his gaze. "Then I hate to tell you, that I know what you are thinking." He walked over to kneel in front of her, so that she was looking into his eyes. "At least, I have a very good idea that you are considering the very same thing that I am." She felt her breathing quicken and her pulse beat heavier in her chest. She was chewing on her lip nervously and finally worked up a response. "What of the servants who are bringing us food?" "I told them not to bring anything for at least two hours." He stood up, holding his hand out to her. She took it, and stood in front of him. "Two hours?" she swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry. "Well, I can always make them wait longer, if you wish." He smiled at her and winked. "Gr'zym, I do not know what it is that I am supposed to do." she hung her head as she spoke, embarrassed at her inexperience. Besides that, she knew what he wanted, she wanted the same thing. She loved this man dearly, and hand not been able to think of anything else involving him in a long time. What was he going to say when he saw her uncovered? She was riddled with scars and wounds from her sister's attention. She shivered when he moved to embrace her, whispering into her ear. "You are not 'supposed' to do anything. I am not forcing you here. I am not even asking you to do anything that you do not want to do. She found her words difficult to utter, but at last she replied, "I want to be here, with you, and I want you to make love to me." She finally looked up at him, her eyes overflowing with tears. She saw that he was not smiling bemusedly at the thought of taking her into his bed. Instead, he had a very serious and warm smile, as he leaned forward to kiss her, deeply and passionately. She whimpered slightly, suddenly losing control of her legs. He caught her and held her tightly to his chest. Gr'zym reached around her neck slowly, beginning to untie her breastplate. A moment before, she could not even think of allowing him to see her in the nude. Now, however, she wanted nothing else. Somehow Dierna found the strength to assist him in removing the rest of her armor and clothing. When her last garment had dropped to the floor, they both stopped. She watched his face as he looked over her, taking in her body slowly. He had not even seen so much as her forearm before today. She had kept all hidden from view until now. He did not speak at all, he just kept looking her over. "I know..." she finally said, trying to cover herself with her hands. The attempt was moot, for the scars covered every inch of her body. "I am hideous." She bent down and began picking up her clothes. When she stood again, she saw that he had removed his piwafwi and robes. She gasped at the sight of his body. Dierna had forgotten that males were frequently beaten for misdeeds, even minor ones. No matter what their title and station. He had almost as many tracks and scars as she did. "You are not hideous, you are beautiful." He pulled her arms apart, releasing the garments back to the floor. Kissing her again, he lifted her from the ground, and carried her over to the bed. Gr'zym laid her down and stood to look at her once more. "I have dreamt of having you here like this." he said as he finally lay on the bed beside her. "Show me your dream." she said simply, turning over towards him, and kissing him again.

"Where is she?" Nat'lalia bellowed. Her wayward sister had not been seen near the House since her arrival back in the city proper. "I sent orders that she be brought here as soon as she was spotted." "Yes, Illharess, but we have not seen her." the page spoke, his face pressed against the floor. He was not certain that even his current level of obeisance would be enough. "Get up." She startled him, but not so much that he did not obey. "Find my brother, and between the two of you, track Dierna down." she turned away from the male with a growl, and stomped off down the hall. She found her sisters waiting for her in the audience chamber. Their mother was meeting with her own conspirators on another matter, leaving them free to discuss Dierna. "Where is she?" Brinayne asked. "He did not know. She has not been seen anywhere near our compound since her patrol returned yesterday." Nat'lalia could not hide her scowl. "This ruins our plan." "Indeed, if she is not here, then the idea to deliver her heart to Mother is now postponed. She will graduate from Melee-Magthere after her next patrol run." Shizara added. "Wait..." Nat'lalia smiled wickedly, for she knew no other way. "Let her hide. I am certain she is with the Mizzrym. Let her have her pleasure. It will be all the sweeter for the idea that has put itself upon me." "What is it?" Brinayne continued in her most vacuous voice. "Do not trouble yourself just yet, dear sister. Allow me to prepare everything, and then I will tell you of the entire plan." Nat'lalia cooed at her, causing Shizara to stifle a laugh. Brinayne only nodded, assuming that it was better to not know of a plan if it might fail. When Shizara and Nat'lalia were alone, Brinayne having gone off to be with one of her mindless and overlarge males, Nat'lalia elaborated on her brainstorm. "It will happen thusly, Dierna cannot ignore a summons from Mother, not if the other Matrons know of it. All will insure she is sent on her way. We will make sure it arrives to her by page, at the closing of her graduation ceremony. He will escort her back here." "What if she refuses to follow him?" Shizara asked. "She will not. Mother will write the summons in her own hand, using the luminous ink that the mages use for their grimoires. She will obey, oh indeed..." she laughed, "and when she comes to see Mother, we will spring the trap." Nat'lalia finished, smiling smugly. She could see her plans falling into place already. "What do you require of me? I know you are not going to put anything important on the idiot." Shizara snorted. "Nau..." Nat'lalia made a similar sound, "she will remain out of the loop for as long as we can stand it. You, my good sister, will aquire the bait for this trap. She needs something that will distract her, once she enters that room...a gift..." "Ah, yes, for her graduation. I know! I shall commission a sword to be made for the fighter trash. One of those damned huge things she drools over." Shizara smiled at her idea. "Xas, that is what...nau..." Nat'lalia paused, "Nau, do not waste drow metal and craft on her. Go and have one of those dwarf slaves make one. Tell the wretch to make the largest damn sword he's ever made. Longer than she is tall, and as heavy as the Abyss. That will keep her attention long enough for us to do what we need to do." She smiled at Shizara, her smart sister. Together they were almost too clever. "Are you returning to Arach-Tinilith?" Shizara asked her. "Xas, I have more ungrateful idiots to mold. By the Goddess were we ever so blind and arrogant about our ignorance?" she answered. "Probably, but we will never admit it." the younger priestess replied. They both walked down the hall laughing.

Dierna awoke from her reverie and sat up with a start. "Where am I?" she wondered. "Oh, yes...Mizzrym." She looked around the room for Gr'zym, but did not see him. "Maybe he went for food." she hoped, at least. She really did not want to be alone in this place. She began to explore the room, flipping through books and scrolls, laughing at the markings and her complete inability to read them. It felt like she was not allowed. Like it was denied to her from something higher. She had forgotten that she was still unclothed when the door opened. "Oh my..."Gr'zym chuckled. "A naked woman attempting to steal my belongings. Wherever might she hide her prizes?" "Stop teasing...I had forgotten where I was. Where did you go?" she asked, hoping he did not notice her embarrassment. "I assumed you would be hungry, so I went to fetch the breakfast." A cart floated into the room behind him, and he shut the door. The cart settled on the floor and he led her to a chair. "Was I correct?" "Xas, actually." She grinned, knowing he was showing off with the enchanted cart. "Good" He went through a long and graceful flourish and laid a linen cloth across her lap. On this he placed a tray of food. "How does it look?" "Better than any meal I have ever had." she sighed. She did not wait for him to sit, or even to turn and find a chair. She began eating ravenously, as if she had not seen food in months. "Do not injure yourself. " He was having a difficult time keeping his laughter at bay. He began eating his meal, not trying to keep up with her. She looked at him, and blinked. "I am doing something wrong?" She honestly had no idea what was amusing. "You look as if you are starved." he shrugged. "It doesn't bother me." "There is a correct way to eat?" she placed her utensils down beside her plate, not wanting to continue doing something improperly. "They have allowed me to look foolish." And her self-pity had reared it's head once again. "They truly do everything they can to ensure that you feel like garbage, don't they..." he stopped eating, and placed his fork on the table. She barely nodded to his question, and stared at her cooling meal. "Fine then, I will show you. You are noble, and should be able to carry yourself as such." "You are going to teach me how to eat?" she looked suprised. "Nau, you know how to eat. I am going to show you how to do everything up until that point." he explained. The rest of the day was dedicated to teaching Dierna how to behave like any other noble. Gr'zym explained that it would help when she interacted with other nobles, and the would be less inclined to look down on her. She didn't think it would make a difference, but she liked him to teach her things. "Let me ask you something. Do you know the surface tongue? They call it "common" there. I think it would do you well to learn another language." he mused. "Nau, I barely know how to speak Undercommon." again, feeling ashamed of her ignorance. Why could she not stop her embarrassment? Gr'zym did not judge her on her failings. "Fine, after we are done with etiquette and protocol, you will learn a new language." he nodded, the matter settled. "How many do you know?" she asked. "Eight. I have learned to speak six others, beside the usual drow and Undercommon. I do not count the hand code in this." he paused a moment, to think. "I speak common, orc, goblin, gnoll, the latter three are very similar to each other. I also speak abyssal and the language of the surface elves." "You can speak like those we hate?" she said, with minimal conviction. "Yes, but do you truly hate them?" he wondered. "I have never seen one." she admitted. "But we are told we must hate them." "That is not enough for you, and I know it." he almost scolded her for repeating the drivel that the loremasters vomited at them. It was beneath her to waste her breath on such things. "How do you feel about them?" maybe getting his feelings would help her. "They hate us, to be sure. But I know the history, the real history, and I know that they have a great number of reasons for their feelings. Tell me. You are different from the rest of the "typical" drow. How do you feel about drow? Not any one in particular, but the race and society as a whole." He felt he knew the answer that would come forth from her, and his reasoning seemed sound when he saw her looking away from him, and shaking. "I hate drow." she whispered. "They are hateful loathsome creatures, who want nothing but to destroy all else in their own hope for power." He only nodded. "I have offended you. I do not hate you...of course..." she added, thinking his silence was a unspoken pain. "Nau, darling, I know you do not mean me. I have to admit that I am happier here in my room, alone, than fighting and squabbling for position and rank. I think though...that you actually do not belong here. I get by easily, but you do not. I think that you should take the knowledge that I give you, and leave this place." He smiled at her, hoping he had helped her. "Leave? To go where? And alone? I do not think that I can make it alone." she stared at him wide eyed. "Dierna, I cannot leave here, they would track me down and sacrifice me to Lolth for betrayal, or worse, turn me into one of those horrid driders. I must stay here. I will love you no matter where you are, or how long we are apart." he confessed. She thought this over, quietly, for what seemed like hours. Finally, she said quietly. "I will leave...after I finish the academy. I want to have every moment allowed with you, and I want to beat those lazy males once more, for good." "Good girl. I will help you in whatever way I can, to aid your egress." he bowed to her, and kissed her hand. Then he kissed her fully, whisking her away to the bed. "You are not going to make my leaving easy, are you?" she laughed. "Nau, darling Dierna...not one bit."

The final patrol went without incident. Dierna and Gr'zym did not speak to each other often, and then it was only when in relation to something happening on the patrol route. They had decided that this tactic was the best before leaving his home. "We are closer now, and they would see you or me as weak. Besides, my family obviously has a spy on the squad. The less they have to report, the better." Dierna reasoned. "I agree with the last part. The first part is easily disproved." he chuckled, remembering her methods of making others see her point of view. "Even still, I do not want anything to happen to you because of me. If I do leave this place…" "When, love, when you leave this place." he interjected. "Fair enough, when, I do not wish to worry that the usual drow treachery does not befall you." she finished. "Dierna, you honestly would not survive much longer in this city." he added with another laugh. "The way you talk is pure heresy. I am not complaining, mind you, because I do love you for that speech. But it only cements the fact that we should behave in the exact opposite manner when in public." "Indeed." she said simply, deciding already how she would insure that others had the impression that she hated Gr'zym. They went along with the patrol, both refusing to look at each other. They behaved as drow would. He began casting magic on her that would wear off at strange times, or have the opposite effect on her than he promised. She would push past him in narrow tunnels, hitting him hard enough to put him on the floor. "Watch out, elg'carress." he snapped at her from his new position on the ground. "Shut your mouth, jaluk, before I break your jaw. You should learn how to walk properly, being clumsy in the tunnels is not as safe as being clumsy in the bedroom." she cackled wildly as she stormed off down the tunnel. "Damn, she learns a bit too well." he thought. He laughed inwardly at her words, giving the appearance of loathing and embarrassment. The patrol looked at him with bemused grins, all fully buying that the two lovers were now apart, because of Gr'zym's supposed failure to please her. As they returned to Menzoberranzan again, the patrol went straight to Melee-Magthere. All were to remove anything they still kept in their rooms at the Academy, and ready it for the move back to their homes. Dierna had nothing there, so she went to the overlarge training room where the maze had been built for the Grand Melee. There, she laid her sword upon the ground, and knelt before it. Narbondel had half a cycle before the Melee began. And she planned on meditating and practicing until then. She must be focused.

The new spy on the patrol reported to Tri'algan, because the sisters not wand to deal with an underling. "Report." Tri'algan hissed. He was tired of Nat'lalia's constant nagging. He would have been better off having a mage change his face and going on the patrols himself. "She and the Mizzrym are no longer speaking. It seems he was too soft for her. She did not follow him upon returning to the city. She went to the hall of the Grand Melee, and is there still. Sitting and training." the spy spoke the report all in one breath. The look that Tri'algan carried was not a pleasant one, and he dared not risk pushing him. "She is planning." Tri'algan had taught her about being prepared. She took the lesson more seriously than he possibly ever could. He then looked at the spy, smiling. "You know she is going to win, yes?" "Is it possible for her to lose the Melee?" he sighed. "Nau," Tri'algan replied. "She is going to do something truly outrageous for her last contest. She will make sure that her name is whispered among the males for years to come." "Oh, it will. With a great amount of poison behind it." the spy muttered. "True, and speaking of poison…" Tri'algan drove his poisoned dagger into the male's throat, turning it, and then cutting down the center of his sternum, before pushing with all of his strength into the spies' chest. He cleaned the body of all House insignia, and other distinguishing marks, and went on his way to give a report of his own.