On Board

On Board

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
"

Aurei learns some of her family's history.

"

2.

On Board

 

 

Aurei sat on the large bed that dominated the rather luxurious brig of the Emperor's Airship, warm now, but restless.   She watched as Zeatt paced back and forth, seeming to grow more and more agitated, or nervous, as the evening progressed.   Perhaps it was just being cooped up in the room most of the time, or worry about her children and her flock back in Aeropolis, but this evening Zeatt seemed like a caged animal; her body trembling and jittery.

"Aunt Zeatt, you look like a thunderstorm about to strike."

The Drow lady stopped, her eyes flashing a bit of anger toward her niece, "What do you mean by that?!"

Aurei held up both hands, "I'm sorry, I just noticed you seem very nervous tonight -- more so than usual."

"Well of course I'm nervous, we're in this blasted airship in the middle of the rain, it's cold and I don't have any idea of what is going on outside in the world because of these two royal idiots playing king of the hill!"  Zeatt sighed loud in exasperation, shaking her hands at the ceiling, "Yesh have mercy on me!   I've GOT to get out of here or I'm going to go crazy!"

Aurei had not seen her like this in the week since she had met her, and did not know what to do or say.   Zeatt leaned against the wizard-locked door of the room, her forehead pressed to the wood and her eyes closed.   She was nearly panting, but after a few minutes her breathing slowed and she turned around, coming purposely over to the bed and throwing herself down on it like a frustrated teenager.

"Sorry" she said, smiling weakly to her niece as she stretched out on the bed, "I had hoped you wouldn't see me like that."

"It's alright, Aunt Zeatt, I understand -- you're under a lot of stress and the walls are closing in on you."

The Drow lady nodded, "Yes, but that is not what is causing me to act so poorly, my dear."

"You don't have to explain to me, I understand."

Zeatt laughed, a very pleasant, almost musical sound, "Oh, my child, I don't imagine you actually do understand… you may have some vague memory, but that is all."

"Huh?  What do you mean?  Memory of what?"

"My dirty little secret."  She sat up next to Aurei and held out her hands, "Do you see how my hands are shaking?"

"Yes, they sure are.   Nerves, right?"

"Oh yes, but the reason why they are so bad is because I'm going through terrible withdrawal."

"Withdrawal? From what?"

Zeatt closed her eyes a second and took several breaths as if debating telling her, then seemed to silently mouth a quick prayer and opened her eyes with a somewhat mischievous grin, "Aurei, your aunt is heavily addicted to a drug."

Aurei swallowed hard -- she had heard several times over the years how the Drow of the Underdark had cities where a multitude of drug dens could be easily -- and in these Drow cities, legally-- found.   Perhaps her aunt had become addicted to some sort of Dark Elven concoction.   She leaned over and squeezed her aunt's hand and found it rather clammy, "You don't have to tell me."

Zeatt gave a half-smile, "Oh, but I do, as it affects you too."

"How?"

"Well, your mother was as heavily addicted to the same drug before you were born as I am now.   Did your adopted human parents ever mention to you how you behaved when they first took you in?"

Aurei thought back to what Mother Bugley had told her, "Well, they said I cried and shook like I was cold or scared for the first few weeks that they had me, but they thought it might have been the after-effects of the cold water that they found me in, or perhaps the bright lights of the surface world hurting my sensitive eyes.   Are you saying that I was going through withdrawal from this drug that my mother took while she was pregnant with me?" 

Zeatt nodded sadly, "It shames me to say it, but yes, that is exactly what it was."

"So what drug is it that I was addicted to in the womb?" Aurei was not pleased with the news, and though she didn't really want to know, her curiosity forced her to ask.

 

The Matron Mother didn't respond at once, instead she nervously wrung her hands as if again debating whether to tell her or not.   Aurei was about to ask again when Zeatt took a deep breath and explained.

 

"First, you need to understand the situation in the Underdark.   It's not merely a community or a place that Dark Elves live; it is another world.   There are things that surface dwellers take for granted that are not found there.   Seasons, weather, temperature change, vast open places, fresh air, even a variety of wildlife -- all these things are not present --or at best, extremely limited-- in the Drow communities.   That, added to the horrid dominance of the priestesses of the Spider Demon creates a nightmare atmosphere of paranoia, mistrust, frustration, greed, anger and deep hopelessness.   These feelings are spread throughout the Drow community, so the Drow try different activities to escape these dark feelings."  

 

"Among the poorest Drow, drugs are very, very popular to escape for a while, or to artificially stimulate them to achieve more.   Drug addiction is almost the norm among the lower 'common' classes of Drow.   Each city has hundreds of drug dens -- places where addicts go to get their highs and participate in whatever activity that drug will allow them to do.  Human drugs, strong alcohol, Hallucinogens, drugs to put someone in a stupor or to run on and on for days, pain-reducing drugs and drugs that cause artificial emotions.   Some are eaten, swallowed, or drank, but the majority are smoked in water-pipes or in human tobacco-type of pipes; even cigars or cigarettes.   Have you heard of them?"

Aurei frowned, “I know what a cigar is; we sometimes have tobacco merchants from the far south.  They smoke these nasty brown tubes of tobacco leaf that stink up any room.   We banned them from doing this in the Muddy Boot as it made everyone sick, even the pipe smokers.   I’m not sure what a cigarette is… a small cigar?”

Zeatt nodded, “In the southlands, the owners of tobacco plantations will take pipe tobacco or shred leaves of tobacco, roll it in paper and smoke it.   They are not as intense in smell or potency.   More refined, I guess.   In the Underdark, there is very little good air, and the deeper Drow cities are from the surface, the staler the air.   As a result, most Drow cities are very vile smelling places, Aurei, with hundreds or thousands of bodies in stale air, and no breezes to take the body odor, dirt, grime and the ever present smell of mold and dampness.   Many races cannot live long in the Underdark, due to the bad air.   Not so for the Drow, or the goblinoid races, as well as the Dwarves.   Our people, Aurei, have a horrible sense of smell after spending centuries in that environment.   They are also very resistant to inhaled contaminants such as smoke.   If you had seen the smoky, hazy gloom of the smaller Drow cities, you’d understand.   Those who can’t handle this environment die quickly, which is why there are so few surface Elven slaves among the Drow.”

“But the Drow, though they are used to the closed environment, actually like strong smoke to hide the background underground smells.   As a result, human pipe-weed due to its abundant availability is a popular drug in the Underdark.   The Hookah and long stemmed clay pipes were popular for many years in the Underdark, but the water pipe was too bulky to carry and the Matron Mothers of the various cities thought that the long stemmed pipes looked too common and reminded them too much of human mages and dwarves.   In some of the poorer drug dens, human slaves introduced the cigar form and as it provided a stronger dose of tobacco, it became popular among the poorer classes.   But it too seemed too common to the noble Drow women and so after they learned from their slaves of the human noble women in the south who smoked cigarettes, they selected this as their method of indulgence."   


"They are nicknamed ‘wands’ as the women of the noble houses try to out-do the other houses in the style and craftsmanship of these cigarettes.  Most Drow cities have several businesses that do nothing but craft these cigarettes from the noble women, as well as cigars and pipe weed for the ‘common people’.   Most of them used by the noble Drow women resemble a skinny white wand about 7 inches in length.  They indulge in these frequently and due to their addiction to tobacco, there are many clerics that do nothing other then healing noble women addicted to these ‘wands’, who suffer lung ailments.   As a result, most Drow cities are a very unhealthy place to breathe.”

Aurei shook her head, “How disgusting.   So you are addicted to these cigarettes, or ‘wands’?”

“Well, not exactly.   I’ll explain.   For many centuries, our house, Ar'Rilla, was not a noble family but a very wealthy merchant family in the Underdark.   They dealt in weapons and armor, but were always looking for other areas to gain money and power.   Since we were armor merchants, we also of course had great desire to find veins of rocks of various metals, especially Mithril and Adamantium.   So, we sent many scouts all across the Underdark to look for places to mine these extremely valuable metals.   When I was a small girl in this family, one day some of our mining scouts reported back to my mother -- remember that the Drow are a matriarchal society-- and told her about something strange they had found."

 

"They had been examining old minor passages in an uncharted area many days journey from the city where we lived.   They told her that they had discovered a huge cavern that appeared to be solid Adamantium.   But what excited them wasn't even this incredible find, but what else was in the cavern.   They told her that when they went into this big room they were surprised to see a huge white pillar coming up through the floor of the cavern from somewhere below, through the solid Adamantium, then completely spanning the distance to the ceiling of the cavern,  where again it disappeared into the ceiling.   The pillar they saw was huge -- they had no way to measure it, but they claimed that it was close in size to the outer wall of the great city we lived in, and that wall was a half mile in diameter.   When they went closer, they were surprised to see that the pillar was made of wood. They soon were even more surprised to learn that it was not a pillar at all, but a great tree with white bark growing up out of the depths of the earth."

Aurei gasped in revelation, "You mean the great Faesidhe Tree?!"

Zeatt nodded, "Yes, but it took us a while to figure this out.   Anyway, this tree stood like a pillar in the very middle of this huge cavern, and around it was a huge pile of pieces of white bark that resembled the curly pieces of wood shavings in a carpenter's shop.   It seems that the great tree no longer grows in size, but every year sheds the outer layer of bark, and it would fall off and accumulate like paper-thin wood shavings.   They greatly resembled paper too, smooth and thin, the bark would come off in little pieces that would curl up somewhat like cinnamon strips.  They gave off a very pleasant aroma, somewhat like coffee."

"After a few minutes of examining the pieces of bark, our explorers sat down in the cavern and made camp for the night.   This group was made up of five of our merchant guards -- three females and two males, and our mining expert, who was a male.  I'll explain why their gender is important, in a minute.   When they set up camp, one of the guards decided to use some of the wood shavings as fuel for the campfire, as they expected that the hole in the ceiling of the cavern where the great tree disappeared through, would take the smoke out."

 

"The wood burned very easily, but apparently the hole in the ceiling was very tightly fit with the tree's width, for the cavern quickly filled up with smoke and they had a difficult time putting the fire out.   But what happened as they all breathed in that smoke was very interesting.   The males in the group coughed and felt slightly nauseous and they all developed slight headaches.   But the females in the group were affected totally different by the smoke of the burning bark.   They found themselves actually breathing in the smoke deeply and all reported a euphoric feeling as if they had just spent a long restful period of sleep.   They said the heavy smoke didn't burn their lungs at all and that they actually really enjoyed the scent of it and the cool tingle that filled their lungs as they breathed it in."

 

"This naturally made them curious, so once the smoke had dissipated, the next morning they decided to try an experiment.   They built a smaller controlled fire and they gathered around it breathing in the smoke.   As before, the males all were irritated and slightly sickened by the smoke from the burning bark, but the females were stimulated by the smoke.   They knew this was something unusual, so they gathered up several backpacks full of the bark and hurried back to our merchant house's compound."

"I remember when they reported to my mother, for I and your mother were being taught by mother in the main meeting room when the scouts brought the report.   My mother was a true daughter of the Underdark, and was not above dabbling with various drugs when she fancied it.   It sounds horrible to say now, but you must understand that she was actually considered rather prudish in her attitude as she only periodically engaged in light drug use, whereas most Drow nobles were regular users.   She was a frequent smoker of the Wands, too.   So she naturally wanted to experience the effects of this drug."

"We had a slave in our household --his name was Marlis-- and when he saw my mother and the scouts trying to figure out how to burn the bark so as to sample it, without filling the common room with smoke, he bravely spoke up -- something that slaves were not supposed to do."

"He suggested that mother make a 'cigarette' out of the bark.   He had noticed that the bark resembled the paper used for the noble women's cigarettes and he suggested that mother try it that way -- by shredding the bark and then wrapping the pieces in a larger piece of bark, to make a ‘wand’."

"My mother thought that sounded like a good idea, so she had Marlis produce one just as he had suggested.  Mother used a flame cantrip to light one end of the cigarette and she sampled the strange bark."

"Apparently the cigarette format kept the smoke more concentrated, for she really enjoyed the experience and reported a feeling of remarkable clear-headedness and alertness as well as a sense of well-being.   So she had Marlis construct several other cigarettes and she spent the afternoon conducting an experiment on the effects of the smoke.   She had the male scouts, several male slaves, including Marlis, my older brother, as well as my mother's current consort to try smoking these cigarettes.   Every one of the males -- both Drow and human-- grew extremely sick when they inhaled the smoke from the end of a burning cigarette made from the bark.   They would throw up for several hours and were generally helpless during that time.   However, the dispersed smoke in the air didn't seem to do more than irritate their noses and give them a minor headache."

"But the effects were different for females that tried it.   Female human slaves in our house were not at all irritated by inhaling the smoke, though the 'high' they experienced seemed much weaker.  Yet they all greatly liked inhaling the smoke.   We had a female dwarf amongst our slaves, and when she was forced to try one, she was completely neutral in her analysis -- it didn't irritate her, but she didn't seem to gain anything from it either."

"We tried a female goblin and a hobgoblin and their reactions were the same as the dwarf lady. My mother bought a female Orc slave, and then paid a large sum for a rare female surface Elf so she could learn the effects of the smoke on them.   The surface Elf woman reacted just as Drow women reacted, but more surprisingly, the female Orc reacted as the human woman had."

"What we learned over the course of several months of experimentation, is that the smoke of the burning bark, when it was inhaled directly by a Drow, Elf, human or Orc female, gave a very pleasant feeling to them.   The Elves and Drow react the strongest, followed by half-Elves and half-Drow, then humans, Orcs or half-Orcs.   The effect was one of mild stimulation and mental clarity, somewhat like the consumption of coffee, but more intense.   They also experience a mild but noticeable feeling of well-being and confidence, and over the course of frequent consumption, they begin to feel more… how can I put it…  well, more 'feminine'; more conscious of their femininity, I guess, and some believe that the drug, used for a long period of time, enhances the appearance of a user.  I think this is all wishful thinking, however."

Aurei shifted uncomfortably, for she noticed a gleam in her Aunt's eyes as she sang the drug's praises, "So you are saying it is a wonderful thing?"

Zeatt absorbed the question for a minute, blinked a few times as she considered it, then shrugged, "Well, yes and no.   In many ways, it is a wonderful drug.   We were able to learn that the Faesidhe Elves, while they don't smoke the bark, do scoop up baskets of it, and they sometimes burn bits of it in incense urns in Bridal chambers as it is said to enhance the desire of a man for a woman, increase her fertility, and aid in childbirth.  These are just rumors, though."   

"They call the bark of the tree, ‘Dart’loxinchu’ and it is referred to sometimes as “Bridal gown”, “Mother’s touch” or “Wife’s mantle”.  I can tell you that it does indeed increase the fertility of a woman; in fact that is one of the greatest effects of it.   The smoke of the bark is definitely enchanted -- it is not like pipe-weed smoke, as heavy consumption of it doesn't eat the lungs as pipe-weed does.   But though it seems like a perfect drug, there are some very serious side-effects.   The worst is that it is extremely addictive; far more so than any other drugs used by the Drow.   Much more addictive then even tobacco.   That is what I'm going through right now, and I fear it will get worse.   There are reports of heavy users of it actually dying when denied access to the drug for several months.   The passive smoke from the drug does irritate males slightly, but it also tends to slightly arouse them for the smoker, and that becomes very old, very fast.” 

“But one of the most serious effects is what it does to a user's reproductive system.   It does greatly increase her fertility, but the children they conceive will always be female.   I do mean ALWAYS.   No woman has ever conceived a male child while addicted to Dart'loxinchu. ” 

Aurei frowned, "That can't be good."

"Anywhere else, it wouldn't be, but in Drow communities, the birth of daughters is always considered a blessing from the Spider Demon.   When my mother learned how addictive the drug was, she very shrewdly figured out that our house could greatly profit from selling the drug.   So our house introduced it in several Drow cities and it spread like wildfire as the women who tried it quickly became addicted to it.   But mother kept the whereabouts of the supply secret from even younger members of her own family."

"What about the scouts who found the location?"  Aurei asked and Zeatt's expression grew very sober.

"That is terrible to relate, but in true Underdark fashion, mother had all the scouts executed except for one young female, who served as the guide back and forth to the cavern.   Mother made sure all the workers were females who were addicted to the drug and she guarded it religiously.   My mother was very ruthless in her business dealings when she needed to be, but was amazingly kind -- for a Drow-- to her family.   Of course all her daughters were given the freedom to use the drug, and we all did, as we wanted to please her, and since she was regularly smoking the Dart'loxinchu, we wanted to as well.   I began using it as a little girl of 35.   Your mother was 38 when she began smoking it.   We all grew addicted to it immediately, but aside from the side-effects I told you about, there were no health consequences that we noticed."

"Mother wouldn't let the supply of the Dart'loxinchu come even remotely close to the heavy demand, as that drove the price extremely high.  When asked by the Priestesses of the great noble houses for an increased supply, she'd tell them that the drug was difficult to get and then had to be 'magically processed' by Ar'Rilla's magicians to gain potency."

"You wouldn't believe, Aurei, the massive attempt to gain access to our secret.   Spies, blackmail, and bribery -- you name it and it was attempted by the Noble Houses, hoping to gain a supply of the drug for their heavily addicted noble women.   But mother would only sell small amounts to them as if it was very rare and extremely costly to find.   As the Dart'loxinchu has an enchantment about it, the nobles were not able to determine just what it was or where it came from, by their wizardry.   In fact, the bark is extremely resistant to magic.   When my three sisters and I -- as well as mother-- became so addicted that we were quickly using up our supplies, she paid a huge amount to have five duplicating cases made."

"What is a duplicating case?"  Aurei asked, suspecting from the name that she may have guessed.

"They are magic cases that, during the enchantment of the case when the magic is first placed upon it, you place within the case something you want duplicated and after the spell is completed, whenever one of those specific items is left in the box, it will double in number every hour until it is full.  But only the item placed inside it during the enchantment process will be able to be duplicated."

"Mother decided that since we were heavily addicted to smoking the Dart'loxinchu in cigarette form, she'd have duplicating cases made for each of us that we could carry in our cloak pockets, to have a never-ending supply of Dart'loxinchu.   The problem was, the Dart'loxinchu, even processed into ‘wand’ type cigarettes, was extremely magic resistant, and they just about gave up on making the cases.   They tried the enchantment four times and it wouldn't take, but then it did on the fifth time.   It was the same story for each case that was made.   She spent a HUGE sum of money to have them done.   After this, as long as we left one of the Dart'loxinchu cigarettes in the case, it would double in number each hour until it was full, then it would stop."

"Did other Drow try making their own magic cases so they'd have an endless supply as well?"  Aurei asked.

"I heard that some did, but they all gave up after the second or third try, thinking it was too resistant to magic.    Of course we never told them the secret of having to cast the enchantment five times before it would work, as this would have quickly killed our lucrative business."

"So your family made a fortune getting Drow women addicted to the drug and then charging them an arm and a leg for it?"

Zeatt nodded, shamed at how cruel Aurei's summary sounded to her, "Yes, sadly that is exactly what we did.   It worked too.   The amount we'd release each week was very small, so small that only the very wealthiest Noblewomen could afford to buy Dart'loxinchu in cigarette format, which was the most potent type.   The majority of noble women would buy small amounts and then smoke it in human pipes, but it wouldn't be nearly enough to fuel their cravings; just enough to keep them from going through withdrawal."

"Did only the noble women use it?" 

"At first they did, but then the lower classes slowly found out about it.   They couldn't afford but very small amounts, and so they'd mix human pipeweed or other drugs with it and smoke it in either pipes or in a hookah.  But Dart'loxinchu loses most of its effects when mixed with other things, though the addiction to it remains.   It made our house very, very wealthy and that was why my mother was added to the Ruling Council of Matrons of our city."

"That seems like a horrible way to gain wealth."

Zeatt nodded, "It was, really, though I didn't know it at the time.   It caused some bad things to occur.  For example, so many wealthy pregnant Drow women were addicted to Dart'loxinchu that fewer and fewer males were being born each year, causing an imbalance of the sexes.   It was banned by several smaller Drow cities' ruling councils, but was still consumed anyway."   

 

"All the nobles were frantically trying to find out where the stuff came from and how to get access to it.   We never revealed the location, but some of the nobles figured out it came from the great Faesidhe tree, maybe from the old legends of the forerunners of the Faesidhe Elves -- the Inion Sidhe.   I'm not sure, but it led to a desire by the Matrons to gain access to the Faesidhe Tree.   Not only for the white fruit, but they hoped for the pieces of bark.   So mother came up with a scheme to get the millennial fruit for her, and her daughters, as well as severely weaken our enemies in other noble houses.  Mother had secretly been in contact with a younger brother of one of the nobles of the Faesidhe who wished to gain power in his community as well as to be allowed to eat a piece of the white fruit of his people’s great tree."

 

"They worked out a scheme -- he knew of a secret passage from the Underdark to the Clearing of the Ages, through a nearby trash pit that opened far below the earth into a large cavern.   The Faesidhe used it to dump their trash and it had stairs cut into the tunnel rock.   He would unlock the metal hatch at the top of the pit and we'd sneak in, eat five of the seven pieces of white fruit on that tree the night before the Faesidhe's ceremony.   He'd eat one of the others and then 'discover' our secret raid just as we supposedly escaped by carriage, though of course we would in actuality have slipped back through the trash chute.   He'd be credited as the hero for foiling the raid, and they'd think that 6 pieces of their precious white fruit had been stolen by the Drow, so his consumption of it would be concealed and he would be safe."

 

"Mother had stirred up the Drow council to try to invade the Faesidhe forest and reach the Clearing of the Ages with a long campaign of war from the south.   Then she told the Faesidhe informant about this plan so he could claim amongst his people that he had learned of a Drow army's planned invasion.   The Faesidhe would send most of their army to the south to counter the attack with surprise.   The Faesidhe army would thus be away from the Clearing of the Ages, the other Noble Houses of our race would be ambushed and perhaps annihilated by the Faesidhe, and this would put an end to most of our enemies. The Faesidhe traitor would secretly gain immortality by eating one of the pieces of fruit, plus he'd be a hero for 'foiling' our raid.”

“We'd gain immortality from our consumption of the fruit, which our mother hoped would be passed to a second generation, if we were pregnant when we ate the fruit, and three of the four of her daughters were pregnant by the time our raid occurred."

"Of course the Drow matrons of the other houses thought we had secret paths through the forest to the Great tree, but we had planned our family’s raid for the night before the great Drow invasion so we'd not be present when the Faesidhe ambushed our people.  It seemed like a rather complicated but workable plan, but we had no sooner eaten of the white fruit before our Faesidhe informant decided (after eating a piece of the white fruit, of course) to gain more status among his people by betraying us while we were still around the tree, instead of after we had went through the trash chute."

"We tried to escape via the pit, but he'd closed the metal hatch covering it, and had wizard locked it or something, so instead we tried to fight our way over to the Elven carriages.   That is where your mother -- who was very near her time of giving birth anyway-- was hit by an Elven arrow, and my sister Tholmi and I dragged her aboard an Elven carriage and escaped.   Her injury sent her into labor and she died giving birth to you.   Tholmi also died from arrow wounds as she tried to steer the carriage out of the Clearing of the Ages.    I've told you much of the rest of the story."

Aurei nodded, "So you kept the duplicating case your mother gave to you when you came to the surface?"

"Yes, I still have it, and thank Yesh for that, for there is no other way I could get a supply of Dart'loxinchu on the surface.   I still consume it, though I forgot to take the duplicating case with me before I was arrested by the Emperor's guards, so I fear it is back in Aeropolis."

Aurei looked greatly concerned, "You said that some women die from withdrawal from this drug?"

"Yes, but hopefully Yesh won't take me this way.   I am optimistic, as you survived as an infant and your mother was more heavily addicted than I was at the time."

Aurei thought of something, "Aunt Zeatt, what about your daughter, Sophia?   Wasn't she born addicted to Dart'loxinchu?"

Zeatt smiled somewhat sadly, "Oh goodness yes she was addicted!   She still is, probably worse then I am."

"But how does she get her supply?"

"She used to share my duplicating box, but as she grew more addicted, between the two of us, we'd overtax the box and almost run out.    Lately she has found another supply, and she swears it is not through some Underdark connection.   She's a sorceress though and won't tell me where she gets it, but I know she gets it somewhere because she doesn't use mine anymore and she takes the drug almost all the time."

"Has it affected her?"

"Well, other than being heavily addicted to it, no, not at all.   She's a tall, beautiful girl that honestly looks slightly older than you do, though you are the eldest.   She's perfectly healthy and very active.   Yet she will never be able to break free from smoking that drug all the time and if she ever marries, she will never present to her husband a son.   It's a high price to pay."

"Do the Drow still use the drug in the Underdark?"  Aurei asked, very glad the drug was non-existent here.

"I'm told it is worse than ever -- the Faesidhe destroyed most of the Drow army and that greatly shook up the leadership of the cities that participated in the invasion.  Ar'Rilla still exists, in some form, by some other name I imagine, as minor family members probably took control.   I hear that they still control the Dart'loxinchu supply."

Aurei sighed, "I wish there was some way I could set you free from that drug."

Zeatt patted her niece on the back of her hand, "I appreciate that, my dear, but aside from this whole adventure, I've never suffered in the least from my addiction.   Well, I have had to hide it from my fellow Bishops and it is very difficult to go through ceremonies and meetings without it."

"So none of them know?"

Zeatt laughed hardily, "I am quite sure ALL of them know about it by now!   But we have to keep up appearances.   St. Kinnis knows and believe it or not he even allows me to smoke Dart'loxinchu -- if I need to, and I usually do-- when I meet with him privately in his office about something.   Of course he has his pipe and tobacco, so I guess it is not too different.   But my Drow parishioners don't know of my addiction.   I don't want to set a bad example to them."  

Aurei squeezed her aunt's hand, "I don't think you are a bad example, it really wasn't your fault to begin with.   The question is; can you survive without it?"

Zeatt took a nervous breath and sighed, "I'm sure it is possible if Yesh desires it.   So don't worry about me, I trust in God."

"Have you sought Yesh's strength in ending your addiction?"

"I've prayed many times for it to be taken from me."

"But have you ever -- before this time, of course-- tried to go without it for an extended period, trusting in Yesh to pull you through?"

Zeatt didn't reply but lowered her gaze from her niece to stare at her hands still trembling from the withdrawal symptoms, all of which revealed her weakness, "No… I haven't really tried, I've merely prayed for it to divinely be taken away from me.   I guess I'm either too scared to try, knowing the consequences, or too weak to have the kind of faith in my God to see me through these trials.   Or, Yesh help me, perhaps I have indulged in Dart'loxinchu for so long that I don't really want to quit.   That scares me the most."

 

Suddenly there was a knock on their door, causing both women to jump in surprise.  At the same time, there came the chanting of a dispel magic spell cast on the wizard locked door, the jangle of a key in the mundane lock, and a guard peeked his head into the room.

"Yes?"  Zeatt asked him, both annoyed at the interruption and relieved to be out of the hot seat for a while. 

"His Excellency requires both of you to dine with him this evening.   Prepare yourselves and be ready in a quarter hour.   I will return promptly to escort you to him."

Without waiting for their reply, he spun on his heels, followed by the wizard who had dispelled the wizard lock.   A third guard closed the door and locked it.

"Well," Zeatt stood up on somewhat trembling legs, "I guess we had better get ready for dinner."

 

 



© 2014 Eddie Davis


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Reviews

Where's the like button? I'm not much one for common trends, but I can think of no better way to say how fabulous this story is than by pushing a like button.

Posted 10 Years Ago


Erin Winter

10 Years Ago

Not that kind. If I had half of your talent and a finished book I'd already be at a publisher.
Eddie Davis

10 Years Ago

Thanks, but from what I read of your prologue, you are quite talented.
Erin Winter

10 Years Ago

Thank you. One can only try.

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Added on October 28, 2013
Last Updated on May 29, 2014
Tags: Drow, prisoner, magic, fantasy, adventure

The Chronicles of Aurei Book 2: The Knights of Northmarch


Author

Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

Writing
One One

A Chapter by Eddie Davis


Two Two

A Chapter by Eddie Davis