The Remembered Realms
A Drow walking in the light of The Loyal Fury
“Feel it pulsing through you! Control it and great things are yours to take! No one can stand against the arcane! Who are they that would stand against the power nature has given you? Insects!” shouted the voice.
As the voice commanded, I let the power surge, let the power rocket out of me in streams of brilliant, frightening light. The feeling of release from loosing that energy was the greatest relief I had ever felt. Overwhelming pleasure came over me in waves, sharp yet fluid. The legs of what would have once been considered a spider twitched violently. It’s purple-red blood covering a large section of the wall it had been crawling on. The pattern was beautiful, though I know not if I only considered it beautiful because it had been made by my hand. As I gazed upon it my body fell to the ground in a heap, exhausted. As great as the use of my power felt, it took a great deal out of me, perhaps too much.
“This will change with time, I promise. With time, we can grow and eventually you can wield this power with such ease that you will look back on this time and laugh. Child, I am within you, and for that we can never be opposed,” said the voice, calming and serene, the gentle whisper of a parent. Though the voice had just started talking with me recently, it tells me it has been here since I was born. He tells me that he never wanted to frighten me, that he waited until he was sure I was ready for what he had to say.
I still remember the first time that we talked to one another. I was a failure. My teachers at school had told me as much and recommended to my parents that I be killed so that they might be permitted to birth another male child. I wanted to show my weakness, to cry, right then and there, but then he spoke. He told me that what was being said was the furthest from the truth that it could possibly be and that he would show me. Without warning, unseen force shot my teacher hard into the wall behind her. As she clutched her bleeding head she shouted violently for us to get out.
My parents brought me home smiling that day, for no child had ever shown a talent for the art in my family, not since the death of Mystra by any rate. Now, years after the plague, a new magic user from my family could bring our House back to good standing. They praised the way I dealt with my teacher and encouraged me to learn on my own if there was not a person smart enough at the schools to show me how to harness my power.
From then on, I stopped attending school and instead I wandered and tried to talk to the voice. Each day he would give me a new exercise to practice, honing my body and mind for what he has just shown me today: The power of the arcane. He tells me now he has trained fighters, druids, paladins, and even clerics, but that he prefers to train those who have a natural talent for the art, those who have a wellspring of the arcane within them.
“You are the first who has shared my natural talents. Even sorcerers who I trained never held skill with my elements, though they could learn it. Just as I am the dark, so too are you. Even if you were without me, you would be a force to be reckoned with given enough training and time,” said the voice, pleased.
For once I spoke to him aloud, as opposed to just thinking at him. “You mean I could do all of this without you?”
“In a sense…yes. You hold within you a natural talent for arcane magic. You have a constantly replenishing supply of power overflowing in you. Without me it will still exist, though it would take you a great amount of time to learn how to use it without me, it could be done,” said the voice, almost hesitantly.
“But why would you tell me this? You lose all power of persuasion you have by telling me I could still harness this power without you. What do you stand to gain?”
“I gain nothing by telling you, just as you gain nothing by learning alone. I am no more an influence over you than you are over me. That does not mean our relationship cannot be mutually beneficial, it simply means that neither of us is ever in control. Do you understand?”
“Yes and no. How can you exist within me and not influence me?”
“I never said I cannot influence you, only that we can only impact one another as much as each allows. We are unique individuals, each with their own mind, each with their own soul. Two separate entities entirely.”
“Yet we exist together?”
“Very much so. Our lives are inextricably connected. If you die, I die. If you know something, I know something. Understood?”
“I likely never will…”
Though I am still bound to the ground by the exhaustion of my powers, I know soon enough I will be a greater power than this city can contain. With only two weeks of training my mind and body I was able to annihilate a spider, a creature of great power and honor. The significance of this first kill struck me only now and panic begins to enter my thoughts. To kill a spider was a great crime, one that would not be tolerated. This kill would be between myself and Lloth.
“Do you think Lloth will tolerate an attack against her?”
“What? I never intended to attack the goddess!”
“But by killing one of her spiders you have! You have already broken one of her commandments. And what has come of it? Has she struck you down immediately? No, here you stand.”
“This does not make my crime right!”
“No, but it does show to you that Lloth is not the most significant of the gods or goddesses. All you have been taught may not be entirely truth. She is a god, just as any other, make no mistake of this, but it is unlikely for her to punish one of her followers every time they make a single trespass against her. You may even find that she isn’t the god whose strictures you trust most. Know that you have a choice of who to serve, and it is a choice not to be taken lightly.”
“What you speak is blasphemy! If the Spider Goddess finds out what you have said…”
“But she will not. Do not forget that you are the only one who hears me. Perhaps it is best to get you out of the habit of addressing me verbally. Simply think instead, as you did before this day,” said the voice, stern and unyielding.
And he was silent. He had left me alone in my anger and frustration. He had taken my life and turned it upon its head and left me alone in it. For almost an hour I sat there, looking at the blood stain and the spiders limbs, unable to figure out what to do. There was only one option open to someone who has defied Lloth: Death. There had to be another way, there had to always be another option.
“Very good…think hard…there is always another way…” said the voice, coaxing me, a voice in the night.
And so I ran, though I knew not where my legs would carry me, I knew they would take me away. It seemed like an eternity before I saw any sort of civilization and it’s presence was not even a comfort to me. Civilization could mean condemnation, it could be persecution for my crimes, it could mean…
I awoke in a strange room, a bed not my own, and a succulent smell coming from the kitchen. I’m not sure how I should be reacting to this, and the silence in my head was disconcerting. The door at the far end of the room started to creak open and a female figure wearing a white mask walked through the door with a large steaming bowl.
The mask had several small purple music notes adorning it along the right side, in a repeating pattern that wrapped around the eye slit on that side. The pattern seemed to go into the eye slit and disappear into the darkness of her eyes. Her hair was long and white, draping over her shoulders and onto her pitch black coat. The coat seamed unnaturally heavy for the cloth it seemed to be made of, but she wore it with a grace and ease that seemed to eliminate that view of the coat. Her legs were covered by a tight black fabric as well which seemed as sturdy and firm as the coat. Her hands were covered by a pair of deep purple gloves, leaving almost no skin showing on her body. The only skin showing was on her neck, which shared the same dark black hue as my own skin, though this skin shared the pattern painted on her mask. Musical notes in white twined around her neck twice before extending up to where the mask met her face, lining up the patterns as well.
“Oh goodness, you’re awake! When we saw you collapsed out there we weren’t sure what had happened. You come from House Thrane, or so the chained coin in your pocket indicated. What caused you to leave that place, child?” her voice said, soothing and motherly, but a youthfulness of her voice betrayed her age to be much younger than a parent should be.
I was hesitant to answer but I figured I had nothing to lose. “I…I…did a very bad thing…” I couldn’t bring myself to say the words, to admit that I had killed a spider.
“We have all done bad things before, that does not mean we run from them! House Thrane is over a days walk from here, did you run the entire way? Here, eat this and regain your strength, I have more to ask of you,” said the woman, concern tingeing every word she spoke.
I took the bowl of steaming liquid from her and spooned some into my mouth. The taste was divine, an elixir of life to a dying man and I consumed the entire bowl of soup with such speed that it astonished her.
“I take it you haven’t eaten in a while,” she said laughing. For a moment, I thought I saw her dark eyes light up with joy. “Very well, I will get you some more, but be aware that this means you are obligated to talk to me.”
I only nodded as she said this, eager for more of her food. In all my days I had never had a meal so good. The next few bowls went down just as quickly as the first, and I was finally satisfied. I looked over to her, sitting patiently, and wondered what she could possibly learn from me.
“It’s not every day you see a child collapsed on the outskirts of your settlement, you know, especially not one with such strong innate arcane energy. Tell me, please, why did you run? I know you said before that you had done something bad, but tell me what it was,” said the woman, calm.
“I…killed a spider.” The words didn’t exit my mouth easily but they had some out. Someone would have discovered eventually anyway, I told myself.
“We all have at least once. It is a passage into our camp. You must forsake Lloth and all she stands for, picking up a rightful cause instead,” said the woman in a very matter of fact tone.
“But…but…doesn’t this anger the goddess? She will have all of our bodies bond in her web for this! When she…”
“Shut your mouth child, for you know not of what you speak. We are protected by The Loyal Fury and he will do the same for you. You need not fear the spider queen’s wrath, for she holds no more sway in our lives than any other god or goddess. I feel that it was fate which brought you here today child and I will do my part to make sure that you remain safe,” spoke the woman with a stern and comforting tone.
Over the next weeks, she oversaw my training, making sure I was working to improve my talents, while inside my dark passenger instructed me on what to do. His voice was harsh compared to hers, but he had right to be angry, as I almost killed him when I collapsed of exhaustion. Though I was still a boy, he was ancient, filled with knowledge I could only hope to comprehend some day.
Soon enough, I was brought into the organization, given the rights of a full member. Given a mask, an identity.
“We stand here this day, to bring in a new member to our fold. He will, from this day, fully forsake his past, forgetting what he once thought to be transgressions and adopting the tenants of The Loyal Fury. In his new light will this man be bathed, and from him great acts will be done which will purify the world for the better. Step forward, young man,” boomed the voice of a man whose mask was adorned with a single black tear under his right eye. His real name to me was unknown, but so too was mine to him. I knew him only as Dagger.
Many stories circulated the camp of how his name came to be, but I preferred the story of his fight to freedom. He had been captured by a group of Drow loyal to Lloth and was being taken back to her for sacrifice. When the men rested to camp, one set a knife down after dinner and Dagger claimed it as his own, dispatching all four men with his hands and feet still bound in silken rope. It seemed too fantastic to be true, but his demeanor was proof enough that the feat was possible for him.
“From this day, you will be known as Wraith Maz’rae. There can be no light without the darkness, and your darkness will aid the light in this way. Bring judgment where it need be brought, and never flinch in the execution of your duties. Stand now and be recognized!” his voice boomed as I rose to my feet. The group of twenty there, all twenty of the members of our organization gave way to applause, all smiling behind their masks, though no one could be sure of this.
The years would pass, and the organization would grow. It became law that we must partner with another member of the organization, valuing their life as our own. Working in tandem to bring glory to Torm, finding work both on the surface and in the Underdark. My partner’s name was Garrett and the two of us seemed to compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses well. We now spend our time in Waterdeep, using the bustle of the city to garner a good deal of business.
Our most recent call has come in from a tiny town called by it’s residents Loudwater. Though neither of us know for sure what we will be encountering, we know that the light of Torm protects us, and that there still exists evil to be eliminated. We walk both in the purifying light and the bleak darkness, but our path leads to the same place. May the light of The Loyal Fury shine bright.