Disclaimer; I am not the creator of the concecpt behind the city of Menzoberranzen, or of the underdark and it's races. I am mearly a simple fanfic writer who chooses to borrow the ideas and make no profit from them, now or ever. Most of the characters in this story however are my own.
To Kill or To Comfort?
Raneth Fret'tar was not sure why he was out alone that night. He knew he should not have been, knew of the dangers that lurked in the city, especially at night, while most people were inside their homes, and the streets were, for the most part quiet. Raneth was quite uncertain what had driven him out to wander the soundless street, near his house, that of all nights. He was honestly quite annoyued at his inablity to sleep, and wonered why the sudden bout of insomnia. He looked around, his eyes viewing the area in the infered spectrum, and could see only the featureless cool of nothingness as he walked. Raneth strolled at a slow pace, confidant that there was no one around. Nevertheless, his hand remined on the handle of his finaly crafted sword as he rounded a corner. He knew not where he was going, or what he would do when he reached that place, except for simply turn around and go back the way he had come. He was getting father from the safety of house Frat'tars walls, but Raneth was a highly ranked fighter. He was head of the houses patrol group, and had served for years as leader of the house gaurd. He knew that with his weapon in easy reach, it was likely he would not run into any trouble he could not face alone. There were, of course, all of the many deadly monsters in the tunnels and passages beoynd the city proper, but he did not intend to go that far. He knew that if he did indeed encounter any trouble in his travels that night, it would likely be from one of his own kind. He determined that he would just have to watch his back as he walked.
Nightime in the enternally dark city of Menzoberranzan was a time of danger. Raneth however, had lived several centuries in the city, and had come to understand that danger could lurk at any time of day there. It was rarely boring in the city. Of that he was sure. One day a house would fall form grace and another would rise a step up in power. One day an assanation would happen, and some other time, a rumor would fly around the city, of a plan to carry out one conspeiricy or another. Yes, Raneth had to admit to himself as he walked, Menzoberranzan was a truely exciting place to live.
He had been a member of house Frat'tar all his life, altough he had not been born of the nobalily of the house. Raneth's mother had been a commoner, hired to work in the house's kitchen. When her son, young Raneth, had shown an increadible talent with the weapons that all drow children trained with, the house's matron mother had arranged his addmission into the accademy for fighters, and later placed him on the house gaurd. He had never been allowed to forget though that he was a simple commoner. Throughout his years at the accadamy, and on into his life with gaurd, and patrol, his greatest rival in all he had done had been Kelerin Frat'tar, the matron mother's own son. The arragent boy, who was the only one year younger then he, had never ceased to rub Raneth's face in the fact that he was the son of a kitchen worker. It was Kelerin himself, who one day killed Raneth's mother, while the two were still young boy in the accademy. He had hoped to knock his commorer rival down a few steps. It had worked as he had wished. His mother's death had only succedded in making him into a better fighter, to battle with his inner rage.
Raneth rounded another corner, and his hand tightened on the hilt of his sword as he heard a slow movement brushing against a wall nearby. The ears of a human would likely never have caught the sound at all, but Raneht was a drow, and a well trained one at that. He knew how to detect the smallest of movevments, in the most hidden of places. His well trianed ears could pick up any sound that might occur within his hearing range, and he also had the ablilty, like all of his kin, to see in darkness, and sense changes in heat patterns. He saw nothing yet, but he heard the sound again... and forward he ran. He wished to know what had made that sound. If anyone was about in that crevice ahead, it was better a fighter deal with it then, than some female meet the danger unexpectadly...
He charged ahead into the narrow gap in the wall. His sword was now fully drawn and held out before him, blade leading as he went. His eyes, still seeing in infered, soon saw a source of heat up ahead, and his ears picked up the sopund of a dull, agonized groan. He soon realized that what he had thought to be some horrid creature that had somehow got past the city boaders, was actually nothing more than someone hiding in the crevice; someone who was likely injured. Raneth hurried on, fallowing the sound of more groaning and slight movements of a person. He saw soon that the narrow passage opened wider as it rounded a bend, and soon became a small chamber with rough stone wall, and an uneven floor.
The young priestess lay in the corner of this little room, her body appearing in the infered spectum to be a firey red warm object. The heat of the blood all over her was creating this intence look of heat to Raneth's eyes. He switched his eyes back into normal vision, and found that he could see well enough in that little room to use his sight without sensing heat. He rushed over and fell to his knees beside the badly injured young female, putting his waepon back in it's sheath as he went. He looked over the female and soon he reconized her.
"Felyn'rae," he said in disbelief, his voice quiet. He looked about the room in confussion, trying to figure out what had happened to her, and how she had gotten in there in the first place. He could not figure it out, he would need to calm himself and think it over. Did she get hurt in this room? He doubted that, there was nothign there that hinted toward that. Had she crawled in there already hurt? That seemed somewhat more likely... He did not understand this at all.
Felyn'rae Frat'tar was the seventh of Matron Ginxyra's ten children. She was always so graceful and beatiful, and filled with some inner power that could not be explained by most males, including Raneth. He had seen her only a handful of times in all his life and could count the times he had spoken with her on one hand. The two, while they were of the same house, had very limited dealings with each other. Raneth, being a commoner allowed to use the nobal family's name, but having no real power among the ranks of the house's nobal males, had no cause to interact with the priestesses. He really doubted, in fact, that Felyn'rae, or all six of her sisters, even knew who he was. He could recall now in his mind, the strongest image of Felyn'rae that had stuck in his head for many years.
He stood in the back of the house chapel with many others of the house. All of them had been called there by the matron mother herself to offer their mass prayers to Lolth. He had known only that the house needed to regain some favor of the goddess that she believed they had lost somehow. He had stood near the back of the room as the preistesses, each of them one of the motron's daughters, and of course Matron Ginxyra as well did their work of leading the ritual. He found himself watching the one in the center of the front platform. Felyn'rae was the third youngest of the group, but she carried herself with the confidance and authority of someone so much older. She was leaning forward over the flames form the fire that burned before her, her arms reaching up as she called her wishes for the presance of Lolth into the air above her. Her white hair hung in waves and blew loosely from the wind made by the heat of the flames. Her voice became loader and more urgent, and her pitch became high and yet still mantained it's power. Her delicate robe, embrodered with the images of intricate spider's webs, flowed over her body, and reached down to the floor. He had truely wished that night that this lovely and dangerous female would notice him one day.
Raneth looked at Felyn'rae now. How differant she looked from that night, and from the other few times he had seen her. The once powerful preistess of Lolth was laying on the stone floor, her eyes tightly closed, trying to forgot the world. Her wonderfully made robe was torn in many places, and hung limply around her body, barely covering her clothing, which was torn even worse. She was covered in blood from almost head to foot, her once white hair was soaked in it by now, as were her white pants. She turned her head slightly to look at him as he knelt beside her, and she gasped in sudden pain from the movement, and her eyes cloaded over for a moment. Raneth reached into his boot and started to withdraw a well hidden, and well sharpened dagger. He pulled it out and glanced once over it's well crafted design, and intricate carvings, covering it's handle. The weapon had been a gift from the matron mother, many longs years before, when she had first placesd him on the house gaurd. She had promised him then that he would go far. He had been born with killing proficantcy, she had said. No one would ever dare to cross him if they wished to live. She had been right, he thought to himself in the moment, staring down his blade. He was truely an efficant killer when the need arose. He had not let her down once in his life. He had never failed to kill someone who neded for any reason to die, the wounded priestess was one of those people.
He raised the blade toward her neck. He knew that one stike to the right place, and she would never know what had happened before she died instantly. Very clean, he thought, very quick. His knees shook with guilt as he took aim, and he could not understand why. Why did he feel bad for killing this one? She was only another person who might once have stood in the way of his ambitions. besides, and this had been his main consideration in the first place; she was so badly hurt. How could she be saved? It it not better to kill her now quickly than to let her suffer? he asked himself.
He founjd himself suddenly well prepared to do the job... and then she looked right at him.
Her eyes flew open suddenly, and she was staring into his eyes, a look of confussion on her blooodied face. She seemed to beg him with her eyes not to kill her. Somehow at moment, he just could not do it. Not knowing why, he put the dagger back into his boot.
Raneth pulled off his cloak from around his shoulders, and folded it quickly. Then he lay it on the ground, and lifted her head onto it. Felyn'rae moaned and lifted her arms fuetily, trying to fight him off for a moment as he carefully moved her. She was obviously very confussed, and unsure who he was. He was saddened to think that she reconzed him only as a potential enemy. He realized then that the young female had been attacked by someone, and must have escaped, on the brink of death, by making her way into that little hidden room. Of course, she's afraid, he also told himself. Her first look at him had been a look at his blade.
"Who, are..." she began to say, her voice a weak whisper. "I know you... but where..."
"It's alright," Raneth answered gently, trying to calm the frieghtened priestess. "I am a member of your house. I am a commoner from the patrol group. My name is Raneth Frat'tar." He took a closer look at her and tried to figure out her injuries. She moaned in pain, and aprearant misery, and her eyes fallowed his movements in fright as he shifted his weight on his knees and sat lower beside her.
He was growing worried for her. He was well aware that a typical drow priestess was very proud and that she usually would not degrade herself, by looking weak before a simple male. She would typically not let on that she was in a state of weakness, and risk the male taking the upper hand... yet this female was in a very obvious amount of pain, and she was frightened beoynd reason. She turned slightly to one side, and pulled her legs in toward her, as if seeking a more comfortable position. From the scream she let out when he gently tried to move her back to laying flat, he knew thatthis one was in trouble. She would never have let on that she was hurt so bad, if she wasn't unable to avoid it. Raneth gently began to brush her bloodied hair from her eyes with the back of one hand, and he gasped in shock at the amount of blood pouring from a deep gash on her head.
"It'll be alright," he told her quietly, trying not to reveal his worry, and risk sending her into greater panic. "I'll take care of you. Just lay still and try not to move, okey. Please tell me what happened."
"I... don't...I think... it..." the priestess began to mutter in confussion
"Matron Ginxyra," Felyn'rae muttered suddenly, now looking right at the fighter urgently.
"Are you trying to tell me to find your mother and ask her to come to you?" Raneth guessed when the female fell silent, without saying anything more. He was making the best guess he could make as to what the young lady wanted him to do. He thought it logical that a female would want to talk to another female about her situation.
"No," Felyn'rae gasped in horror. "Please... please don't tell her to come here. She... she... The matron mother tried to..."
"What did she try to do?" Raneth asked with more patiance then he was normally able to display. He saw that blood was continuing to cover the front of her low hanging top slowly and he began to carfully undo the top button to look at the cause. He tried to make her explain as he did so.
"She tried to kill me," the priestess said, and Raneth let out an audible gasp. He was shocked to hear that the matron mother would wish her daughter dead. It was common knowledge in the house, that Felyn'rae was her favorate daughter. Now that he had learned of the incident, Raneth could easily picture what must have happened. He knew that Matron Ginxyra was one who loved to torment people before they died. She loved to cause them extreme pain and suffering and make them wish for a time that they could die, before she finally did kill them. He also knew that her game was to make them grateful for their deaths, when she did choose to take pity on them and finally end their lives after she was done playing her games with her pain inflicting touture toys.
Raneth had no more time to think about that awful deed that the matron mother had done though, for something caught his attention. Looking more closely at Felyn'rae's shoulder, he discovered the cause of her painfull moaning. A small but deadly dart from a hand crossbow was deeply embedded in the front of the right shoulder, near her chest. He frowned in horror at the prospect. He was aware that if it had been covered with drow sleeping potion, she would have been knocked out long before then. He was certain that is was therefore instead coated with a substance far more sinister. It was a substance created to distroy the body form the inside outward. He had heard much about it from the clerics of the house, who spent time telling him of it, and the matron's other horrible creations, when they used to remind him that he was only the son of a commoner, and that she would likely kill him horribly the first chance she got. He shook away the past memories, and tried to think about what to do.
Felyn'rae cried out in pain when Raneth felt her chest, near the crossbow arrow. He was sure that the area had already begun it's agonizing deterrieration. He reached for the small impalled object itself, and she let out a shiek of rage and pain. Her other arm flew up, and she tried to smack him across the face. He grabbed her flying hand in the air and lowered it to her side, knowing that she had acted only out of instict. He knew that it must have hurt so bad when he touched it that she had been only trying to protect herself.
"Please," he said, trying to calm her a little, "I don't mean to hurt you. I'm just trying to help. I think that I can get that out and stop any father damage."
"It hurts so much," Felyn'rae moaned. "Please don't... everything hurts so badly. I just wish to sleep..." She began to clench her fists together in fear as she began to slip past the point of reason.
"It's alright," Raneth said quietly. "It's okey to be afraid sometimes. I need you to listen to me though, alright. I'm going to..." Her hand flew out again and she held onto the sleave of his shirt. Raneth, felt himself begin to panic again, as emotions he had never felt before came forward in his mind. He had never before seen a female, or anyone for that matter, in a state that the young priestess was in now. He had always known the females of his society to dominate the males through fear of punishment. He knew that his people were killers and would kill at the drop of a hat. Drow, including himself were generaly ruthless and proud, and would stop and nothing to come out on top. The female now though was looking to him, like she needed him. She needed him to comfort her and tell her it would be okey. She needed him to calm her fears, and he didn't know how to do that. All Raneth, like other drow males, knew how to do was bend to the will of a female to protect his right to survice in the society dominated by women. This female though, had been broken down so much in the attack against her, that she had become what she truely was... a hurt, frightened, weak young lady, who had spent her whole life being told of the glory and power of her goddess, and had never truely felt love or comfort.
He knew that he really should kill her then. He was sure that it was best just grab his weapon again, and before she even saw him do it, deliver the killing blow.
"Please," she begged, her voice shaky. "Just sit with me a while and hold onto me."
Raneth was not even sure whether he did it to obey her as the stronger gender, or if he truely wished to help her, but he nevertheless, carefully lifted her head onto his knees, wrapped his arms over her as best he could without hurting her, and let her take hold of his hands. He looked at her head again, and at other injuries over her body. It was now obvious that all the horrible wounds had been caused by her mothers wicked contraptions. He also knew that the matron mother must have somehow done something so that her daughter would be unable to heal herself. He realized then too, that the matron must have likely put her daughter into that room that they were in now. She had put her there and left her to die a slow death.
Raneth knew that something was wrong in his house. He was sure now that the nobels he served had some difficulties in the family that he could never begin to understand. Then again, he told himself, there was also something going on in Menzoberranzen. He recalled the day his mother died. He had been just a young studant then, and that awful son of the matron mother, had made a point of making it obvious that he was the one to kill her. He had bragged about it for weeks in the accadamy, filled with pride at have successfully pulled off an assanation. Raneth himself had later learned to kill as well, and to enjoy it too. He had very quickly learned to gain personal power by getting rid of whoever got in his way. He had made it to his currant potition in the house that way.
Felyn'rae groaned half concously, and one of her hands held tighter to his, as another jolt of pain overcame her. He let her keep squeezing his one hand, while he pulled the other free from her grasp. He ran his hand calmingly through her hair as she began to settle again, and her tense body began to relax. He wondered how he knew what to do. He had never tried to do anything to help a person before, but here he was. Whatever he was doing, it seemed to somehow be working. Could it be, he asked himself suddenly, that all of his drow kin had some capacity to care for others? Could it really be that they just needed a chance to let themsleves feel it?
"My shoulder really hurts," the priestess mumbled half cohearantly. Her hand, still holding Raneth's began to shake. He was sure that it was more than just fear that was causing her to tremble like that. He had to do something now. He was sure that the poision from the little crossbow arrow was beggining to kill her.
"Please don't hurt me," she begged weakly as he, using only his free hand, began to take firm hold of the little thing again that had impalled her shoulder and was spreading it's deadly poision to her body.
"Breathe in," he commanded firmly with determination, "and keep holding my hand. Don't let go, alright."
"I... I'm really," Felyn'rae moaned helplessly, "I'm really scared. Please don't... hurt me."
"It's alright," Raneth said, feeling somehow shakey himself now. "Just try to stay calm. I'm really trying not to hurt you." He had never seen a female look so helpless before, and it bothered him greatly for a reason he just could not explain.
"You need to breathe in now, okey. Take a breath and hold on to me. Breathe out slowly, and don't move." He gave her quick directions, trying not to think of his fear, or of her pain. Felyn'rae, looking as though she was tryng to gather her courage, sucked in a deep breath of air, her eyes never leaving his face.
The young female shrieked loudly in awful pain as he got a firm hold on the little arrow in her shoulder, and her hand gripped his tightly by instinct. She tried to pull away from him as he jerked it free quickly and carefully. Her scream at that moment was loud and helpless, and filled with terror. She was, within, seconds, clinging to his arm with both hands in a near death grip. She was trying hard to catch her breath but was in too great of a panic, and that made her hold on tighter.
"You are alright," Raneth said, trying to calm her again. "It's okey now. I've got this all under control."
The poor terrified female loosened her grip on the male's arm and looked as though she was about to pass out. She slowly caught her breath, and began to breathe again in slow, shallow breaths. She looked at the male with a look that could almost look to be embarrassment, as she recovered enough of her will to remain awake. She lay, with her head still on his knees, her eyes still looking at him, seeking support and comfort, as he began to inspect to small wound left from the crossbow.
He was sure that he had dealt with he worst of it now, and he had only now to try and deal with the other bleeding injuries the female had suffered. He was filled with sudden hatred for Matron Ginxyra as he took one last, closer look at the tiny arrow he had thown to the floor. He could now see that it, and likely a bunch more like it, had been designed in a way that they would cause and extreme amount of pain to a person hit by one, and would cause ever an even greater amount of pain to pull out again. He saw that she had been badly beaten with a whip, and that that acounted for a good deal of the blood that was all over her. Her mother had not just used her whip to punish this time, she had used it with the intent to kill. Raneth shuddered inwardly at the though of dying that way. He had seen Matron Ginxyra in action with her evil whip on many occations. He had been on the recieving end of it more times than he could count
Felyn'rae was also suffering the wounds of some other nasty things that her mother had used against her. Raneth wished that he had supplies with him to be of more help to her. He wanted to leave her for a bit and go and find some, but she still held onto him in fright. He told her that he wanted to go and find the things to make her feel better, and her half closed eyes flew open wide at the thought of being alone.
"Please don't leave me right now," she pleaded. "There is nothing you can do in any case." She closed her eyes again and began to fall quiet. He knew in his heart that she was right. He was sure that he could not save her. The beating had been to bad. The wounds were too deep, and the bleeding was hardly slowing. He doubted highly that anything could change that. He carefully pulled her torn up robe off of her, and began to use it to clean some of the blood as best he could. He felt that she at least needed that much. He placed her head back down onto the folded cloak
She lay very still on the ground, her hands now resting at her sides. Her eyes were shut and and she looked relatively calm now. The female made almost no movement, and she gave no resistance as Raneth used the fabric to clean her up. He worked as well as he could, but true to his earlier belief, the blood was not stopping. Her arms were both covered with the bloodied wounds of the deadly whip, and the injury to her chest was bleeding steadlily and greatly. Felyn'rae's head was bleeding even worse now it seemed somehow, and bright red blood was flowing into her eyes. Raneth wiped that away gently, and held a piece of the torn cloak over the gash, trying to keep more off her face. She lay without moving, even when he pressed harder, trying in vain to stop the flow of blood. She did make a small weak attempt to pull her arm away though, when he tried to clean up the badly stinging cuts that her mother's whip had caused on both her arms, back and part of her chest. She freed herself from his light grasp once, but he right away took held of the same arm again, and lifted it once more to keep going.
"Please don't panic," he told her slowly, as she began to groan softly in pain once again. "Try to just lay quietly. It's going to be alright." Her eyes opened again to look at him, and she saw his face turn up in a comforting smile.
"I'm sorry I'm not very strong," she whispered softly to him, as she tried not to pull away again. "I know that I'm supposed to be... I just can't be anymore."
"No one can ever be something they were not meant to be," Raneth told her. Her let her arm go. "You holding up alright?" he asked.
"Yes," Felyn'rae relpied. "Oh...and thank you, Raneth the commoner. Thank you for trying so hard to let me know it's okey. I am, as you must have noticed, not the bravest of females."
"That's alright," Raneth assured her. "You're doing just fine. I think you are stronger than you think you are." Felyn'rae managed a weak smile, and closed her eyes again.
"Thank you," she said once more. She reached up, her eyes still closed, a few moments later, her hand searching for his. He took iit and held it tightly for a few moments, and for a while they stayed that way. He no longer moved to try to deal with the blood. It seemed to be futile anyway. He just sat, one hand holding hers, and the other brushing her long, wet hair behind one of her ears. He again debated with himself, whether to end her life, and her suffering right then. Her eyes were closed and she was becoming very unaware of her suroundings. How easy it would be now to do it. One part of him wanted to, for no other reason than to help her die quickly. Another part wished to simply sit and to comfort her until her end came naturally. He could not choose. He realized that when he felt her make a slight movement, turning her head a little, and trying to whisper something too quiet for him to hear.
Falyn'rae opened her eyes suddenly and looked up at Raneth with the kind of sleepy eyed stare that instantly made him think of a child waking from a long, restful sleep. The awareness seemed to return to her quickly, and she soon looked like she had reached some thought.
"Please," she said, her voice sounding stronger than he would have thought it could be. "Help me sit upright."
"Do you really think you can sit up?" Raneth asked. "Why do you need to? It's alright now, just stay where you are, and try to cam yourself down again. I'll stay here with you."
"I want to send my final prayers to Loth," Felyn'rae told her, with determination. "I don't want to do that as I am now. Please..."
Raneth did try to help her sit up then. She soon leaned against him though, her head against his chest and her body half sitting and, half laying across the stone ground. It was the best effort she could make. She had not the strangth to sit up straighter. The pain was also greatly worsened by being off the ground
"Lolth will just have to accept that we did our best," Raneth said to her, trying to assure her that she had done well.
Felyn'rae tilted her head back and tried to prey, she really did. But within a mere moment she was dead in Raneth Fret'tar's arms.