Disclaimer: I own Nothing!! This is R.A. Salvatore's universe, I just couldn't come up with a better one. The characters are mine though… but still.
On with the Story!
Escaping Fate Chapter 1:
The dark corridors of House Xorlarrin echoed as Darra allowed her footsteps to be heard. To allow others to perceive her where-abouts was very much against Drow nature, but at this moment in time Darra didn't much care for Drow nature. She needn't fear anything within this stalactite palace anyway; her sisters all knew that she couldn't be taken down with any weapon. She felt the comforting weight of her long sword strapped to her back; it was a beautiful and strange piece of weaponry. The merchant she had bought it from claimed that it was a weapon forged in the World Above; she was inclined to believe him as the blade was obviously of no race she had ever come across before. The sheer grace of it fascinated her; even though the blade was perfectly straight, and even flexed slightly when wielded properly, it was the most powerful of the weapons at her disposal.
She came out of her woolgathering immediately when she sensed a slight change of air pressure; there was someone trying to muffle the sound of their breathing. She turned around, falling into battle stance and drawing her sword all in one fluid movement. The heat left the face of the page as he stared down at the blade poised at his carotid.
"Why have you sought me out? Speak quickly." She said with deadly calm.
"Your Honored Mother, Matron Xen'arla requests your presence in her audience chamber at once." To the boys credit his voice hardly shook as he made sure not to make eye contact with Darra.
"Be gone before I decide I don't like you." Venom dripped from Darra's tone as she re-sheathed her sword. She hadn't even finished this action before the page retreated back down the corridor at top speed. Satisfied she had sufficiently terrified the wretched page; Darra turned down the corridor and made quick work of the intervening distance between her current location and her Mother's audience chamber.
The Xorlarrin audience chamber was an impressive one; octagonal in shape, with a web-motif mosaic inlaid in the black marble floors. The center of the web was, of course, The Matron Mother's throne. The throne itself was a sculpture, appearing to be a giant spider that cradled the one sitting in it; the spider's fangs poised above Matron Xen'arla's regal head. Matron Xen'arla sat comfortably on her throne of twisted metal and precious stones, while the spider's jeweled eyes bored into Darra as she approached in silence. Standing at Matron Xen'arla's left and right hand, respectively, were her two older sisters: Tre'valan, and Belar'frin. Both looked on Darra with loathing, malice, and more than a small amount of jealousy. Matron Xen'arla wore a calculating smirk on her lips as she watched Darra stop at the appropriate distance from her throne and bend into a respectful bow.
"You summoned me, Honored Matron Mother." Darra pitched her voice carefully to carry through the whole audience chamber before resuming her normal posture.
"I did. I have summoned you to speak of your future." Matron Xen'arla's tone denoted that this would be a one-sided conversation; as it always was. The Matron Mother paused for a moment to let the connotations of that short phrase sink in before continuing. "The weapons master tells me that you have, without a shadow of a doubt, surpassed him. It seems to me that since your studies are finished there is no reason for you to be kept from Arach-Tinilith any longer." A feral grin spread across the evil Matron's face. "You will be entering the Academy in four weeks; you will have no need of material possessions, except perhaps your sword. You will become a powerful priestess, and you will bring Honor and Glory to House Xorlarrin." There was almost a cackle in her voice that grated on Darra's sanity. Only though extensive meditative training had Darra learned to keep her immediate thoughts buried from Matron Xen'arla's Lolth-given sight, and ability that had saved her life on many occasions. She nodded, feigning anticipation.
"Yes, Honored Matron Mother. I shall not disappoint you." Darra gave the answer she knew her mother wanted to hear. "I have one question, Matron Mother." Everything told her it would be futile, but she had to ask, when Xen'arla nodded for her to continue: "May I participate in one last scouting expedition?" She schooled her expression to that of a feral, hunting cat asking to be let out for a hunt. As Matron Xen'arla looked at Darra her expression turned from puzzled to that of kindred understanding. Darra's carefully wrought emotional control had paid off; Xen'arla thought Darra wished to go hunting before her ten years of sequestered priestess training.
"Yes, you may. Be sure that you bring a trophy worthy of these halls, dearest daughter."
Two weeks later
Despite the soul-deep weariness that threatened to bring her progress to a grinding halt, Darra was too close now to give in. She had made it farther than most runaway Drow, most never made it passed the patrols. The odds against her notwithstanding; Darra had made it out to, and had so far survived the wilds of the Underdark. Now all that remained between her and freedom was a day or so of winding tunnels; according to the map she had managed to get her hands on. She stopped for a moment and looked back down the natural corridor and thought of her birthplace, Menzoberranzan. It was a dark city, one of the most powerful Drow cities ever to exist, and in full favor with their evil Goddess of Chaos; Lolth. She cringed at the thought of that terrible deity; the demon Goddess that had taken the only father she had ever known as a sacrifice. She felt a terrible rage begin to rise in her, but was quickly suppressed; rage took too much energy. She knew deep down that she would never see the great stalactite cave again, nor would she again see the works of art that were the palaces of Narbondellan; but she didn't feel sadness or regret, only relief.
As Darra once again trudged toward the tunnel that led to her freedom, and exile, she truly began to feel the magnitude of what she had accomplished. She had once been the third, and most favored, daughter of the seventh house of Menzoberranzan. Darra had been due to enter Arach-Tinilith, the academy for the Priestesses of Lolth. Her mother had been hell-bent on turning her into one of the most powerful High-priestesses in House Xorlarrin. Darra was absolutely sure that Matron Xen'arla had been grooming her as second-in-command. But Darra would have none of it, she refused to become a disciple of Lolth, the evil and vindictive goddess that ruled over the Drow race would not have this dark elf if Darra had anything to say about it.
Darra had never really worshipped Lolth, something about the atmosphere seemed wrong on a very basic level to her. To make sure she wasn't marked a heretic Darra had to participate in the temple, had to say the prayers and sing the hymns, because punishment for heresy was always death by sacrifice. Darra had never felt the divine touch of the Goddess of Chaos, and never wanted to. She blessed the intense mental training she had gone through as part of Drow weapons training; it was the only reason she hadn't been found out.
Like many of the noble Drow females in Menzoberranzan Darra had been taught from a young age to fight. But unlike other Drow females Darra had shown a natural talent for the hypnotic Drow sword-play, a prodigy some called her. So much so in fact that Matron Xen'arla held her out of the Priestess Academy so that she could finish her weapons training. Her Honorable Mother bought her the best weapons-master gold could buy. By the time she was twenty five the Weapons Master had pronounced her a master and she was able to defeat any opponent with almost any weapon found in the Underdark. Somehow Darra had convinced her mother to allow her to join a patrol of the surrounding tunnels, their job being to destroy any dangerous creatures that happened to set up shop. And so when her mother told her what was to be her fate Darra hatched an escape plan.
She stopped and listened for a moment, searching for the slightest sign that her trail had been found. When the only sound her ears registered was the slow dripping of some faraway source of water she deemed it safe to sit and rest for a moment. She dropped her pack, and leaned her tired body against the cavern wall, sliding down into a sitting position; the sweat on her back rapidly cooling. The last time she had found water was nearly two days ago and there was barely enough left to ease her parched throat.
Darra pulled her piwafwi, her magical cloak, tightly around her, the shimmering fabric holding in her warmth. As she pondered her next move she began to unconsciously worry her house insignia pendant between her ebony fingers. The magical pendant allowed her to levitate at will, and gave her safe passage to any part of her palatial mansion. It also marked her as a runaway from House Xorlarrin, the seventh ruling house. She was briefly tempted to rip the wretched thing off, throw it down some unknown tunnel; break all ties to her former house and rank. But the voice of reason sounded in her tired mind, she would need all the help she could get in the World Above. She sincerely hoped that the rumors were true about Drow magic now being viable on the surface.
A small sound broke into her thoughts. It was just a pebble skittering across the stone floor, somewhere back the way she had come. A Drow wouldn't be so clumsy as to accidentally kick a pebble and reveal their position, but she wasn't taking any chances. Her adrenaline began pumping anew, giving her limbs new strength. She was on her feet and again running silently down the tunnel before the pebble's echoes completely faded.
The Xorlarrin Captain stood at attention, waiting for the High Priestess to give him permission to speak. The Xorlarrin priestess in question, Darra's oldest sister Tre'valan, was stunning even by Drow standards. She had eyes that were three shades of red, set in a face that was angular with out being too severe. Her body was the envy of most Drow females, and she always dressed to show it off. Tre'valan sat cross-legged in her tent, meditating on her Holy symbol, collecting spiritual power for the chase ahead. She was the Priestess in command of this band of trackers and warriors, and she would see to it that her sister never saw the World Above.
"You may speak." Tre'valan said without even turning to look at the soldier.
"We have picked up the fugitive's trail again, High Priestess. When shall we move out?"
"Immediately; I want us packed and moving five minutes ago, Captain." She didn't have to threaten overtly with words or weapons her tone said it all; follow my orders or be left as food for the denizens of the Underdark.
"Right away, High-Priestess." The soldier saluted and went to go organize the troops.
Darra didn't come out of her near-frenzied flight until she noticed that the tunnel had started a distinct upgrade. 'I must be close' she thought to herself with relief and no small amount of trepidation. She trudged up the tunnel, only the thought that each step was bringing her closer to freedom kept her from collapsing. She nearly panicked when she came to an end to the tunnel. She managed to swallow the fear and anxiety creeping into her chest, and followed the tunnel backward, searching for anything that could be a fissure leading to the surface world. Suddenly her hands ran across the edge of a small tunnel. Her infra-vision revealed that it was just big enough for her to fit through when crawling on her stomach; she would have to push her pack and sword through ahead of her. The air coming in through the fissure smelled of strange things she couldn't name, but so wanted to see.
Darra immediately placed her pack in the mouth of the fissure and began pushing it ahead of herself. There was a feeling of anticipation building in her stomach and spreading through her body; as she crawled like a worm the jagged edges of the fissure caught and tore her clothing and hair. 'This must have formed during an earthquake.' She thought to herself as she made her slow way through the fracture. Darra almost cried out in relief when she finally felt the pack exit the fissure, her arms, shoulders, and head following shortly behind. Darra had to writhe and squirm to get the rest of her to fit through the mouth of the fissure, but she was shortly free and standing in a cavern where she could feel a distinct breeze. It was a strange thing; she had never felt a true breeze before.
The excitement was so much that she nearly forgot to pick up her pack and sword; a situation that was quickly remedied. Once she had herself situated Darra boldly began walking toward the entrance of the cave, her exhaustion only a mild hindrance compared to her need to see what lay outside the cave. Her impatience to see the World Above compounded with each step, the tempo of her movement increasing with every moment. Finally the cave exit came into view, and beyond all Darra saw was an expanse of deep blue-indigo. Darra sprinted that last ten yards or so to the mouth of the cave, when she looked out and down the sight below her stopped Darra dead in her tracks. Directly below her was a steep slope of rocks and random patches of some kind of small green plant (it somewhat resembled a blade). And beyond the slope there was a large expanse of the small green blades that ended something like fifty yards away. The green blades went into a line of strange pillar-like structures (she assumed they were some kind of plant as they appeared to spring from the soil) that stretched to the right and left for as far as her eyes could see. From what she had heard of the World Above, she was pretty sure they were called trees, and the area they were in was called a forest. Darra could not wait to walk under these strange giants, and learn their secrets. She quickly and carefully made her way down from the mouth of the cave, and came to rest right in the strange green plants, her pack placed next to her. They were soft; not like blades at all, and felt wonderful on her bare palms.
In all the time she had Thought of the World Above Darra had tried to imagine what they called "sky." But her imagination had never gotten anywhere near what she witnessed now. The sky was somewhere between indigo and violet, with millions of tiny pinpricks of light that she assumed were what they called "stars." Darra's eyes were immediately drawn to the white disk in the sky; she couldn't quite remember what the merchant had called it. As she gazed upon the ivory beauty of it a strange feeling came over her; a melody that she wasn't sure she knew began to run through her mind, and she suddenly felt the need to dance. Darra found herself standing, her exhaustion melting away. She began to sway to the beat of the song in her head, and soon Darra's swaying motion evolved into a lyrical, fluid dance that seemed to capture the moonlight in each fluid movement.
For moments uncountable Darra forgot her troubles; her fear, her pain, and gave herself over to the dance. For those moments Darra's world consisted of her strange dance, and the Disk in the sky, and the light cast by it. As she danced Darra felt a warmth deep within her chest, and soon it spread through the rest of her body. She never wanted to stop this dance, never wanted the feeling to go away. But all too soon her senses registered something that made her lurch to a stop; the all too familiar smell of Drow and the Underdark.
Bayala paused momentarily in her patrol at the edge of the forest. Her patrol was almost finished, after which she could return to her sister priestesses, and rest for the night. As Bayala peered out into the grassland she saw something that almost made her sound her hunting horn; a lone female Drow standing below a cave that was known to be an entrance to the Underdark. But as she watched the Drow began to sway and then dance. There was a strange quality to her movements, as if she was hypnotized. And then before her very eyes a pale aura surrounded the Drow female, bathing her in moonlight. This was surely a sign from Eilistraee, this was no ordinary Drow female; she was to be made a priestess.
Bayala recovered from her shock quickly, as the Drow had stopped her moonlit dance; the aura disappeared as a startled doe. The Drow female turned and ran toward her forgotten pack, and retrieved her sword. It was then that Bayala noticed shadows creeping out of the cave. With a small jump of intuition Bayala realized that this Drow must be running from something. With out a moment's hesitation Bayala placed her hunting horn to her lips and played the signal for extremely dangerous enemies. When she heard the response she knew that her sister priestesses would be arriving within moments. With out giving it a second thought Bayala quickly descended from her lofty perch and hastened to aid this strange new Drow.
Darra took her fighting stance, ready to fight to the death and take as many with her as possible, if necessary. She barely registered the call of a strange horn in the distance, and then a second from even farther away; all her focus was on the small group of Xorlarrin soldiers emerging from the mouth of the cave. She did, however, nearly drop her sword when another female drow came to stand next to her, also bearing a long sword. The female was dressed so oddly that Darra surmised that she must be a fabled 'surface drow;' Exiled from the Underdark as Darra was. Then the strange Drow spoke in flawless High-Drow.
"It seems the Fates have brought you to me. It is the will of Eilistraee that you remain here, so you have my protection. I am Bayala." The strange Drow gave her a comforting smile, the first Darra had ever seen. She felt compelled to trust this strange female, and so they both fell into their battle stances as the Xorlarrin soldiers noticed them, and with cruel smirks the soldiers moved in.
As the soldiers closed in Darra and Bayala fought back to back; somehow managing to keep the warriors at bay. Bayala was currently tangling with three male Drow, one of them wielding a pair of short swords, and the other two each carrying a scimitar. Through years of hard earned skill, and a healthy dose of luck, Bayala managed to keep from being over taken, but only just. After a minute she was bleeding from several shallow cuts that she hadn't been able to deflect.
As Bayala began to worry she heard the hunting horn of a fellow priestess; they were almost here. Only a few moments passed before a Hunting Party of ten priestesses came pouring out of the forest, their swords drawn and ready to do battle. Having not expected this; the Xorlarrin soldiers were caught unawares, and the odds were now even. After that the battle was short and messy; the priestesses waded into the melee, cutting down Drow soldiers with a hymn to Eilistraee on their lips.
Among the din Darra found her sister, a guard of soldiers around her. "Did you really think you were going to get away, dearest sister?" Tre'valan cackled at Darra as she cracked her three-headed snake whip; the same with which she had so loved to torture Darra in the past. In a fit of rage Darra swung at the heads of the snake whip as they soared straight for her face. One of the heads went soaring above the helms of the Drow soldiers. Tre'valan screamed in rage "How Dare you; Blasphemer! You won't make it back to Menzobaranzan; you would disgrace our altar as a sacrifice!" Tre'valan went into a trance and began to chant in the divine language of Lolth. Darra knew what was coming next and went into panic mode. She moved through the last of the soldiers like a reaper, taking them down in one fluid movement as she raced to end the deadly casting. Darra neither stopped nor hesitated when she reached her sister. The chant stopped just short as a sword was plunged through Tre'valan's diaphragm and out her back. Darra watched as the dark priestess fell to the ground and the light left Tre'valan's eyes, still wide in disbelief.
Darra was amazed at the ferocity with which the Priestesses had fought. She had been told that anyone who didn't worship Lolth was weak, and deserved to be killed. But these surface Drow seemed to be fearless; the few that died taking their killers with them. When the last of the Xorlarrin soldiers lay dead, one of the priestesses sheathed her sword and began to stride in Darra's general direction. From her walk Darra could tell that she was absolutely furious, and seemed ready to decapitate the one responsible for this mess. She paused when she stood before Darra; The Drow seemed to be sizing her up. She glared at Darra and then turned to Bayala, who was now standing at her side.
"You called us to protect her?! Three of us died tonight! For an Underdark Drow!" She was livid, Darra expected the irate priestess to cut her throat at any moment.
"I called you to protect her because Eilistraee gave me a sign. I caught her dancing under the moon, and before my very eyes she was bathed in a white aura." The priestess looked disbelieving for a moment, then shocked. "She is meant to be here." There was no denying the authority in Bayala's tone, and the priestesses facial features took on a semblance of contrition.
"I am sorry that your friends died. Thank you for aiding me; I did not know that such kindness was possible." Darra bowed to the priestess in absolute humility.
"If it was the will of the Goddess, then so be it. They are with Eilistraee now, and I will see them again someday." A single tear streaked down her cheek as she looked up at the full moon. She suddenly looked back to Darra. "I am Nym." She said, completely unashamed of the tears on her face.
"I am Darra Xor-…" she barley remembered in time to leave off her House name. Darra was shaken, she finally fully realized that she was no longer Darra Xorlarrin. Nym and Bayala seemed to ignore the slip, and Nym went to help gather the injured and fallen. Darra followed their example and went to the nearest pair of priestesses to help them carry their comrade, but Bayala gestured for Darra to walk next to her. As one the priestesses and Darra walked toward the forest. Once they crossed the threshold of the forest the priestess at the head of the party turned to the south onto a game trail.
"What are you running from, Darra?" Bayala did not seem the type to beat around the bush. The Drow in Darra was telling her to keep silent, not to tell these people anything, trust was for fools and if you tell her something she could use it against you. But there was another side of Darra, that she hadn't known was there before, that was telling her that she can, and should, trust Bayala. That latter won.
"My mother is the Matron of House Xorlarrin. I was supposed to enter Arach-Tinilith about a week ago. I refused to become a priestess of that Thing, so I escaped from my patrol party. I guess they were trying to bring me back as a sacrifice." Darra's face contorted with pain and anger. "What better sacrifice than your favorite daughter?" a tear slid down her cheek, and she moved quickly to hide it. Although she showed no outward sign of it, Bayala noticed the tear, and the slight hint of tears in Darra's voice. She seemed to have some maternal feelings for the poor girl. Not even out of adolescence and she is on the run; in mortal danger.
"Do not fret, you are safe as long as you are with us. Eilistraee has taken an interest in you. I believe that are no coincidences; we were supposed to meet, and you were supposed to come to the Enclave, possibly to become a priestess yourself." Bayala's warm demeanor soothed Darra's raw nerves but she was still reluctant to the idea of being a priestess for any goddess.
A/N: alrighty, there's chapter 1, thank you for reading. Please read and review; input helps the writing process. If there is lack of continuity somewhere please let me know; I try to fix that stuff as much as possible, but I am human. Chapter 2 is already in the making, and should be finished in the next few weeks, please don't fret. No flaming please.