A/N- So its a pretty damn long chapter but it is VITAL to the future of "Origins"
Zaknafein overlooked the Underdark world of Menzoberranzan with a light and calm stare. He often found peace overlooking the land and watching the flickering flames of faerie fire linger in windows, the only light that showed anywhere. The rest was seen in the infrared eyes of the Drow
His gaze drew to his house, or the house he had lived in for the past eight years, rather. He thought of his mock mother who showed him more kindness than he had ever seen in a drow woman, though she clearly still held the ideals and demands of one. He mused over the battles he remembered, from the time he had arrived to the present. He remembered all of the wounds he had gained, rubbing one scar on his arm almost lovingly. He thought of the parries he had been taught, and the time he had tried to correct the folly seen in one defensive move, failing in the attempt.
His thoughts were drawn to Illiam, the now thirteen year old girl whom he had watched over, watched grow. She was as his sister, and she was raised to be like her mother, a moral and loving girl who enjoyed adventure and always spoke her mind. Never did she leave what she thought unsaid, no matter how offensive or shocking.
"Zak!" a voice called. He turned only his head to glance over his shoulder, and then turned completely to see Illiam climbing the cliff to join him at the edge. He put his hand down, helping her up the rest of the way, almost lifting her from her feet because she weighed close to nothing compared to what he usually lifted to gain in strength. "Papa needs you." She huffed, hands on her knees. Her white hair spilled over her shoulder like a waterfall and Zak put his hand on her back, helping her to stand straight.
"I will be there in a moment." He informed her. "It wasn't truly necessary for you to climb all this way. You could have just as easily levitated up her as I do." She waved him off.
"Not nearly as fun, Zaky." She told him. He sighed at the nick name she had so lovingly given when she was only two years younger. "The beauty from up here really skews your view of what kind of a place it really is." She said lightly. Zaknafein nodded.
"Especially all of the schools." He pointed out. Illiam's gaze went to Melee-Magthere. She wrinkled her nose and shook her head, staring at the place. "Soon to be my new home." If it could even live up to such a title, he thought quietly, not bringing the fact to discussion. Illiam didn't respond to it. They stood in silence for a minute.
"You won't be the same." She whispered to him. He sighed, not wanting to agree, but nodding all the same. She wrapped her hand in his and leaned her head on his arm. He looked to the girl and thought of the sad truth of the words. But only ever was it a sad truth in the sense that he would have to leave the family and not be raised in their way of life, not when thinking of how he would be corrupted for he barly knew of the corruption. Zak did not know well as she that he would become more different than he could comprehend. He did not know as well as she, though under the same Master, the pain his kin, her kin even, brought to each other and the races that lived around. This hurt her deeply, having grown to love Zak as so much more than she had loved anyone.
Though he still could not comprehend completely the evil of the drow, having a kind heart already blessed to him by the elvish blood that ran quietly and secretively through his veins, he felt saddened that he would go onto Melee-Magthere, the place that would soon be his home
Zak found himself always finding he defined the places he had been as one or the other. Home was as Drin's household was. Warm and welcoming, even when he knew he was in for a scolding. Hell was the complete opposite. Hell was defined as a place where he would be made a servant, whipped with the heads of snakes to show him his wrong rather than communicating his wrong with words.
"Yeah." he finally stated in reply to her sad statement. "Onto Melee-Magthere."
"You will forget." she sighed, almost inaudible. Zak looked down to her, as if the words had hurt him. In fact, they had in a sense. Something pulled at his soul, ailing him deeply. Her words were so vague but meant so much. "you will forget". The words lingered in his head.
Yes. He would forget, that fact was as true and as brutal as the city he so keenly imagined to be less than it was. Though he knew no kindness lie in the city, he figured if one family could be so pure could not all the others possess such an ability. Illiam knew better. He would forget the ways of such kindness, become the monster that all drow males are expected to be. He would forget the feeling of equality and grovel for his life, if not once, many times. He would soon be a slave to the Matron of House Do'Urden, whomever she showed to be, a Fighter, and a trainer,
A servant of Lolth.
He shuddered inwardly at the thought of the Spider Queen.
"You should not leave." Illiam said insightfully. Zaknafein smiled and almost laughed aloud at the statement. She shoved him, taking her hand from his. "You think I kid!"
"I think you do." He chuckled to her, turning to look into her eyes. She wrinkled her nose and turned from him, her hands interlocked and under her chin. She looked as if wild ideas were running through her mind.
"The worst that could overcome you would be disfavor of Lolth-"
"Which I do not fear. It is your life, the lives of your mother and father, I fear for." she scoffed.
"Do you believe my father could not protect us? I believe that you and he would make a fine guard for our family against those who oppose such." Zak laughed aloud and put his hand on her head.
"You forget the strength of the House Daermon N'a'shezbernon,"
"They do not deserve such formalities, Zaknafein." Illiam chuckled aloud at the statement of their ancient name. He looked to her with disapproval of her interruption and she sighed and waved her hand, bidding him continue.
"They are strong; there is no denial of such. My family and theirs combined would not bid well for anyone. I will not see your head cut from your shoulders, which I fear would be your fate in the end of such. I do not know how long I would hold against my family and family to-be." She sighed as he had foiled her logic, in a sense.
"To the surface then. We will go to the surface! My father has been telling me I am about of age to travel there. Maybe we will make our lives there, with you at our side. What dark elves will come against us on the surface, we who are learned in the ways of the land walkers? There is also the orb of light to consider. We could take a boat, that's a device that can carry many across great seas of water, over to Luskan, then from there to the south." she paused, not looking to her companion. "Or even go to Silverymoon. Our family is welcome there, maybe-" she then looked to Zaknafein who was staring at her with a look of disbelief on his face. He might as well have screamed "you have got to be kidding me". The girl sighed and clapped her hands to her sides. "You're right."
"It was a well thought out scheme though, Illi." he praised with a smile. "And I would love to see a 'boat' one day, but I doubt such a scenario would be possible." she nodded and he put his hand on her shoulder, turning to go down the cliff. He turned back as he started to help Illiam down, but she stood still, overlooking the town with her hands on either arm.
"Zak." she turned to stop him in his walk only to see him waiting. Her shoulders sulked with a weak smile on her face. "If you could stay, would you?" she wondered. He smiled and had no reason to wait in responding. He knew the answer well.
"Definitely." She smiled back and took his hand, heading back to their home.
"There he is!" Drin exclaimed as Zaknafein entered with Illiam in tow. "Come, sit, we have a few things to discuss." Zaknafein, who was never fond of Drin's punishments, followed orders quickly. "In two years from now you'll be admitted to Melee-Magthere." That statement, alone, drew a well defined and purposefully loud sigh from Illiam who leaned, arms crossed, against the wall. Drin looked to her with a cocked brow, catching her attention and waving her from the room. The girls shoulders sulked and she walked out to her room. "First of all I have to congratulate you on your progress under my wing. I haven't won a battle in weeks now. You'll do well in the school and once you have graduated I demand that you come and visit so we may see how your skill has increased." Zak grinned widely, full of pride.
"That will not be a task left undone, Master." he stated. Drin chuckled and clapped his hand on the boys shoulder.
"I would hope not." he continued to smile for a minute but he looked almost pained. "Secondly… I have something to ask of you." Zak stared intently.
"Will what you wish, Master, I will not fail you." Drin had to wave that promise off, knowing that the boy might not understand. He stood and turned, back facing Zak, and traced his finger on a map of the surface realm, prodding a small hole where Moonwood had been ripped slightly.
"You have grown well under two who were raised and learned of respect and kindness. We do not value Lolth or the way of the Drow quite as much as the people that will take you under their wing. I understand fully that you will change, you will bring so many-" he couldn't finish what he was saying for he felt a great swelling in his chest. He didn't want to believe this boy would bring death to anyone, he couldn't. He turned back and stared at Zak, taking his seat again. "I understand you must quickly learn discipline and the way of the drow… but I ask when it is the elves of the surface that you hunt, you not kill them. Please, do not kill them." Zak's eyebrows now mocked his masters, furrowed, but it was a confused expression that marred his complexion.
"Will not the failure to do so bring disfavor on my family?" Zaknafein asked him. Drin sighed and hung his head and closing his eyes. A knot formed in his stomach.
"I had hoped you would not care for disfavor-"
"I do not!" Zak snapped, almost insulted but understanding of the misconception. "Disfavor of Lolth does not mar my consideration, Master. It is the promise of death following the act that follows such disfavor." The claim was true, Drin knew all too well. Unfortunately his views on the situation were far different from the boy's. He stood and shook his head, turning again from Zak.
"I feel as if I should not ask this of you because you are not yet grown enough to understand, have not been around enough Drow to understand the absolute folly of the words and the ideas that you will muster after my claim." He sighed. "But with such knowledge I have of our people I care not, knowing that you will very well come to mock the ways of life. No, I do not find pain in telling you what I will.
"You have been taught by myself, a follower of a moral way that is mocking in the way the elves, thus you hold some compassion in your soul, surely. Even so, you have been taught as you were young to curse the name of the elves, taught that they deserve the worst because they forced us into the Underdark. You are taught they are in the wrong, they are the evil when we," He pointed to his chest, his face becoming furious and voice climbing. "Are the ones in the wrong!
"They do not deserve death as much as we, Zaknafein; you must come to understand this. Why do I possess the kindness your sister lacks? Because part of me feels remorse for my actions, part of me feels angered by such an awful lack of moral regard for a person's well-being. Such is the heart of a man of elvish blood! The elves are peaceful and kind!" Zak, confused, considered the man's words, trying to put meaning into them. He could not comprehend what he meant, though.
"Surface elves hold no folly in their way of life," Drin continued. "Unless you mark strength and morals as such. So why must they die? Why must they be sacrificed in the name of cursed Lolth, Sacrificed for the joy and fun of the Drow, Sacrificed so we can go on, continuing a pitiful existence in health and high praises of the Spider Queen?" There was a pause and Zak opened his mouth to answer when his master didn't continue. "It was rhetorical, Zaknafein." He sighed, before the boy could start. Drin rubbed his eyes with one hand and sighed, dropping his hand to his side and straightening out his thoughts. He started in a slow pace gaining, also, his composure from is sudden outburst of anger that had sent the youth reeling for answers. He seemed as if he was trying to make sense of the words that flew from his mouth, but he knew all too well that they were true and without flaw.
To Zak, though, there was flaw. Lives, Surface Elf of Drow, were precious. Why would his family raid in the name of just killing? He had been taught that the Drow were evil, but never with full explanation, always being told he would find out why sooner than late. Was his master trying to say that he should die in the name of the Elves, the ones he did not know, let alone care for.
"I am not saying that you will be faced with such a task, Zak, but you have to understand you have to believe, that the land walkers are not of evil, are never in comparison to the Drow." He sighed once more and roughed up his hair, scratching his scalp. "Just know that there may be a time in your life where sacrifice is the more noble path. Just know that there is no time in your life that your life would be better sacrificed for another Drow, Including yourself. If you see death in the future of another, turn away and make the world a better place. If you see your death coming, do not give up but do not make effort either. There is no place that a Drow is accepted for anything more than a murderous monster. On the surface we are seen as such, and acceptance of your peers is a sign you are successful in your murderous life." Zaknafein looked down in deep thought about the confusing, and very threatening, lesson.
"So why even follow, or attempt to follow, society if I am to die anyways, in the name of some elf I know not?" Zak inquired matter-of-factly. Drin only shook his head.
"Time will reveal you your answers, as I often tell you. Your path will not be formed solely from the words I aimlessly give you, trying to inspire your path. One day they will have great meaning. For now go to the academy in two years, train as a Drow warrior, and serve house Do'Urden. Your houses will join and both will rise far with Zaknafein Do'Urden leading its children." Zak flinched at the name, the name he would bear once joining their ranks. Drin put his hand on Zak's shoulder. "Just be glad to know that the follow of the Drow way will bring you success, and greater satisfaction, in knowing you are serving the House, bringing about the deaths of your fellow Drow, ridding the world of such evil." At that Zaknafein's stare turned to shock. He leapt to his feet and wrenched his shoulder from his master's hand.
"Killing my own?" he yelled incredulously. The man stared up at him, then closed his eyes and sighed a hopeless sigh. The boy would not understand, not now at least. "You, kin to elves and trying to protect them with your words, telling me to sacrifice my life for them, will tell me I am to kill my own? I am not of elvish blood, but must protect them, but I am of Drow blood and must kill? I am a Drow, Drin, of pure blood of a Dark elf! I would faster kill an elf than-" He was stopped short as Drin took him by the throat before he could finish his words. He had seen Zaknafein, in rage of the moment, start for his sword on his belt. The young Drow now hung a foot off the ground by his neck against the wall, nearly losing consciousness at the collision.
"So none of my words have registered?" Drin spat loudly. "The Drow, bringing death and condemnation on the peacefully races around them as well as on each other, are to live freely without fear of death, healthy and full lives? You speak as if it is news to hear a Drow kills another. It is the cruel and evil society, Zaknafein Helviate!" He gave the boy one quick jab into the wall and let go roughly. "Drow are not so noble as to let their own live when they wish to climb in society. Your people do kill each other, and you will as well, as order of your Matron, whoever she may be." Drin sighed flustered, holding his head. "I am trying to give you peace!" Zaknafein rubbed his neck and coughed a bit, straining to swallow. His confusion and frustration was not leaving and it was starting to make his head hurt.
"Boy… Killing your own is a terrible feat. Its even harder, though, when you do not see justice in the act. You must see that there is justice. This is why I ask you not to kill the elves, because there is no justice in such. Greater justice, if you so choose to murder the innocent, could be found in your death."
Things started to come together in Zak's mind, though not completely. Drin sighed
"I do not expect to get through to you… Today at least" He informed the Secondboy, walking to leave the room, but pausing in his walk. he put his hand on Zaknafein's shoulder. "I'll discuss what else I wanted to later. Right now rest on the thought. " Drin turned to walk out, only to see Illiam staring out from the hall. She, who was on the floor, looking at her hands in her lap, met her fathers gaze and shot to her feet as he passed her. She looked to Zak, taking a momentary glance at her father, and took to his side.
"He's right, you know. Even I wouldn't sacrifice my life for you, Zak." The words stung him only slightly. He knew she meant well with her words, for she had been raised against the Drow way. He could only shake his head and pass her by, heading to the room that neighbored her own.