When I read the Lady Penitent series, I really enjoyed the interplay between Kâras and Cavatina. I've got a fic centered around the two that I'll start posting soon, but this was a little piece I did to practice writing in Kâras' voice.
Disclaimer: Kâras and the Forgotten Realms belong to Wizards of the Coast. I don't own anything—especially not money!—so there's no point suing me. I'm not making any money off this.
The cover of this story was created by the skilled and talented CG-Warrior. If you think it's pretty (and why wouldn't you?) you should check out her deviantart page.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
- W. H. Auden, "Funeral Blues"
Kâras did not feel his god die. Later, he wondered if that was a failure on his part, if, had he been a better cleric, he would have known the moment Vhaeraun died, or he moment Eilistraee donned her brother's mask as a trophy of her kill. Later, he decided it didn't matter, since Vhaeraun was dead anyway. He was practical that way.
He did not feel the death, or the terrible emptiness in his soul where his lord has been—only half-filled by his new patroness—until the next night. The surface races claim the night is darkest before dawn, but the Nightshadows know better and worshiped their dark-loving god at midnight. Then, as was his custom, Kâras locked himself in his room and, surrounded by shadow and silence, prayed.
To worship openly was a luxury he could afford, but did not desire. After the fall of Maerimydra, and his flight from that broken city, Kâras found his way to the Night Above and one of the small Vhaeraunite enclaves hidden in the forests there. The Nightshadows wore their masks openly, but secrecy was both a habit and a creed for them, and, except for a few special rituals, they did not come together to praise their lord.
And so it was that Kâras was alone when he cleared his thoughts to receive his god's will, and found an unexpected and unwelcome mind touch his own. A sound filled his head like a hundred voices, male and female, singing in perfect harmony, even as a great joy that was not his own filled his heart. He understood then that, somehow, another god had intercepted his communion, and he prayed aloud for Vhaeraun to protect him.
The other did not disappear. Kâras opened his eyes and found his skin glowing faintly with the light of his protective spell gone horribly wrong, as though he stood under a moonbeam that touched only him. Then the beautiful, terrible, unwanted voice spoke, and told him what had become of his god.
He tried to deny it, as though by pure force of will he could undo what had been and done and make this unbelievable truth a lie. He shouted and screamed, breaking the sacred silence, and when that did not change anything he begged and, finally, wept. And still the deity that answered remained, not his own, but his enemy's. In the end he tore off his mask and threw it away from him, and knelt in the center of the room, shaking with a shock he was too numb to feel.
After a while he became aware of sounds coming from elsewhere in the compound around him: angry sounds from those discovering what he had already discovered, and broken sounds from those accepting what he had already accepted. The sounds reminded him of the danger he was in, for there was a choice to be made, and those whose differently than he—whatever his choice might be—would soon be his enemy.
And his choice? It was a bitter one, and he did not make it lightly or easily, but in the end he stood, feeling a thousand years old instead of a mere century and a half, picked up his mask, and tied it over his face. He was practical that way.
He reached the nearest Eilistraean shrine a little before dawn, carrying only his most precious possessions; Maerimydra had taught him how to leave everything behind. The moon had set and the night was as dark as it ever was on the surface. If the priestesses had been dancing that night, they had long since stopped, and Kâras easily avoided the sentries as he made his way through the encampment. Outside the central grove he stopped, knowing it was warded with a spell that would sound an alarm should any enemy try to cross it. The Nightshadows had long know about the spell, though they had never managed to find a way past it. They knew all about this shrine, though the priestesses did not even know the location of the Nightshadow's enclave. He stepped into the grove, and the alarm did not sound.
With a heavy heart he walked into the clearing at the center of the grove, where the priestesses danced when the moon was high. Two females, armed and armored, stood in the clearing, speaking softly. They did not see him at first, and Kâras curled his lip in disdain behind his mask, knowing he could have killed one, perhaps both, by now. They were blind and stupid, and he wanted to remain their enemy, not join them. But he wanted his god—or whatever remained of him within this new Masked Lady—more.
So when they finally spotted him, and one shouted an alarm while the other nocked an arrow to her shortbow, he forced himself to cross his arms over his chest in the drow symbol of surrender. He would not bow to them, though. He would never bow to a female again.
"Don't shoot!" he said. "I am one of you."