I would like to offer my thanks to a little level 18th drow priestess of lloth, named Itasha. One for the fun hours of RP and the fun we both have shared in developing our characters. And two, for the assistance in Co-authoring this story with me based upon our fun rp adventures.
Thank you, Itasha.
WEAVING THE WEB
Nilan gazed around the darkened cavern ever wary of his surroundings in the cruel blackness that was Menzoberranzan. He was careful to keep his true identity hidden, painfully aware that the Hand of Vhaeraun would fetch a high price to any of the warring Houses that so desired Lloths favor. Nilan’s hand closed around the hilt of the sentient blade he had secreted in a black pouch at his waist. The blade pulsed eerily against the black flesh of his hand, and a voice whispered in his mind. ‘Shadow’ was hungry….the assassin knew that much. The blade of his god desired to drink the blood of its enemies, llothite blood. “Soon,” the assassin whispered softly.
The Vhaeraun assassin moved sinuously through the winding streets stopping only to give deference to a priestess that passed by him. The proud male did his best to appear to know his place in this matriarchal society he had left centuries ago. Lowering his gaze and stepping aside, Nilan let the priestess pass, though he caught himself daring a glare at her imposing form as she stalked passed him. “Soon,” was all he whispered as he released his grip on ‘Shadow’s’ hilt. The blade seemed to groan angrily and then fell silent.
Nilan moved through the streets as quickly as he could, he knew he could not be late for his new ‘mistress’, the noble priestess, Lady Itasha. She had ‘acquired’ him, or so she believed about twenty moons ago. It was a ploy the assassin hoped he could use to his benefit. His Temple had sent him into the webs of Lloth’s greatest city to attain information and such information, Nilan knew, would not be privy to a houseless male. Lady Itasha could offer him a way inside. She was a priestess of a noble house. A young priestess of the Spider Queen she was, but a priestess none the less. Her House held a respectable position in the city and from what little she spoke of it to him, the assassin knew that she believed her House had Lloth’s favor. He had become ‘her property’ for the moment, and for the moment the Vhaeraun assassin decided to play it out.
Nilan quickened the pace, hoping to arrive at the tavern before her. His last meeting with his ‘mistress’ did not go well. She had somehow sensed he had been to the surface. In truth he had returned to Vhaeraun’s temple to make his report, but Dlavizz the High Priest was preoccupied with other important matters. Nilan had tried to talk his way out of it, but the young priestess had sensed his deception. It earned him several painful lashes as punishment for his ‘insolence’. He forced himself to endure it, as was befitting a male of his ‘station’ as ‘her property’. But what struck the assassin as odd was that after the beating, Lady Itasha healed him. Perhaps she didn’t desire to mark her males, Nilan had thought. The assassin shook the thought from his mind as he approached the quiet tavern in the city’s bazaar district.
Nilan entered and found Lady Itasha already seated at a quiet table near the back of the room. Grimacing, he approached bowing slightly in respect. “Forgive, my lateness, Lady Itasha,” was all he said, keeping his eyes downcast. He could feel her gaze upon him and stood unflinching until she spoke.
“Bring me wine, and food,” she demanded. Nilan nodded respectfully and went to order from the bar. After several minutes he returned with a goblet of wine and a steaming plate of mushrooms and gravy. Setting the wine and plate before her, Nilan started to sit down across from her but caught himself as well as a glaring look from the priestess.
“Permission to sit, my Lady?”, Nilan inquired, daring to look her in the eye as he spoke.
“You may stand,” she said as she continued to eat and drink. Nilan stood unmoving, his arms crossed in front of him. The sentient blade pulsed eerily in his secreted pouch, but the assassin dare not seem to take notice of it. After what seemed like an hour, the priestess pushed her plate aside and downed the rest of her wine.
“Remove this mess,” she ordered glaring at him before a smile seemed to curl across her full red lips. Nilan nodded slightly and removed the dirty plates and empty goblet taking them to the bar. Upon his return, the Lady kicked a free chair out. “Sit,” she ordered. Nilan took the seat across from his ‘mistress’.
The two conversed for some time. Nilan nodded briefly at her statement and then spoke of an incident planting the seed he had hoped for regarding a drow noble and a secret meeting with the bartender at the inn. He had elaborated on what he had seen and then dared to suggest that perhaps, with her permission of course, that he could attempt to learn more, even make contact. The conversation suddenly stopped as a stinging backhand tore into his right cheek. The assassin groaned audibly his eyes closing briefly from the sharp pain.
“You dare presume to tell me how things should be done,” she glared coldly. “You had best learn your place, insolence will not be tolerated.” Her hand flashed suddenly grabbing his long braided hair pulling him forcefully toward her, pinning him against the table. Nilan winced and boldly looked into her eyes before a second slap tore his gaze from her. “The last male to presume such, I gave to the Spider Queen,” she whispered coldly. “I would do the same for you, and you had best remember that.” She let the threat linger before releasing him. Groaning slightly, Nilan merely nodded his understanding.
Rising suddenly from her seat, Lady Itasha gathered her belongings about her. Nilan rose as well, standing as respectfully as he could make himself appear. She glared at him. “I go on patrol now, see that you do not get into any trouble. We shall speak more on this matter soon.” With that she exited from the tavern.
Nilan glared as she left, his hand fingering the hilt of ‘Shadow’. “Now you shall feast” he whispered softly to the blade as he stalked into the open roadways connecting the bazaar to the rest of the city. Tonight the blade would feed. An offering to Vhaeraun would be made.
Hours passed and the assassin found himself outside of a large compound. He whispered a prayer to Vhaeraun for protection as he prepared himself. “Lord Vhaeraun, let your shadows surround me, keep me free from sight as only you can. In your name and glory, I give to you this night the blood of our enemies.” With that the Hand of Vhaeraun called upon the shadows and disappeared from sight.
Nilan found his way through the maze that was the inner sanctum of House Shobalar. He had managed to slip by the wards within the compound as easily as a shadow would have. He felt the power of his God flow through his veins, and heard the chanting of a drow priestess coming from a temple a few paces ahead of him. Slowly and silently he crept toward the room, daring to peer inside. A noble priestess was in prayer to her foul goddess, her snake-headed whip seemed to writhe melodiously at her side.
Nilan scanned the room, she was alone, or at least he detected no other movement coming from the dark sanctum. Silently he crept closer stopping suddenly as a spider seemed to take notice of him. Nilan froze, his right hand clutching ‘Shadow’s’ hilt as his left closed around a wicked stiletto. The spider did not move but stood in his direct path, a few paces from his kill. Nilan grimaced and took a step forward, squashing the insect beneath his black leather boot.
The sentient blade, vibrated in his hand, as shadows seemed to engulf it. So engrossed in her prayer, the third daughter of House Shobalar sensed nothing until the tip of the stiletto pierced through her chest. The blade buried to the hilt in her back, she tried to scream as Nilan turned her around to face him. “Look into the eye of your killer, spider bitch! See the blade of the true God that will taste your blood” was all he said before dragging ‘Shadow’ across her throat silencing her screams to all but a pitiful gurgle. The blade flashed instantly, eagerly drinking what was left of her life’s blood.
Nilan knelt before the body of the dead priestess, her blood pooling the ground around him. Whispering a prayer to Vhaeraun, the assassin closed his eyes and plunged Shadow into her chest. “Vhaeraun, I make this offering in your name and for your glory. With each Llothite slain, may it bring you closer to your rightful seat atop the Drow Pantheon.” With that the drow cut the heart from her body and raised it in offering toward the Night Above.
Shadows suddenly swirled around both him and the corpse. Nilan felt a presence enter not only the room, but also touch his soul. He closed his eyes and embraced it. Faster and faster the shadows swirled, darkening the corpse until it was no more. And then as quickly as the shadows arrived they began to dissipate. Nilan opened his eyes. The corpse, the blood, the heart were all gone, taken as offering by his God. All the remained of the priestess’s demise was her foul snake whip that lay motionless on the floor.
Nilan rose to his feet, eyeing the whip. It would not do to leave any evidence of the dead priestess, not now anyway. Not while he had other missions to accomplish in Lloth’s city. Cautiously he approached it, it didn’t move. He prodded with his boot. Still nothing. Before exiting the sanctum, Nilan hid his sentient blade once again, and made sure he had gathered any belongs of his. Taking a step toward the foul whip, Nilan grasped its thick handle lifting it from the floor.
The three heads reared up suddenly, and Nilan realized his error in touching the whip. Two of the heads bit into his wrist but the fangs seemed to catch on the assassin’s magical bracer. Poison oozed over the metal but did not pierce his skin. The third however, struck high, passing beyond the drow’s bracer and biting into the flesh of his forearm. Nilan gasped in pain, his right hand instinctive grasping the head as he tried to tear it free, but to no avail. The more he pulled at it the tighter the fangs bit into his arm. Poison coated the fangs and seeped into his bloodstream causing his muscles to cramp up painfully.
The assassin staggered, clenching his teeth tightly, he fought the urge to cry out, fought the urge to scream, instead he whispered a word that allowed him to vanish from sight. As quickly as he could, Nilan made is way out of the compound. His breathing was becoming more irregular but he was able to make it to the entrance to the Shobalar compound undetected.
Silently, he staggered into the dark winding caverns of the city, the poison coursing painfully though his body as he made his way toward the inn. As he rounded the corner, he came face to face with a familiar priestess returning from her patrol.
Gritting his teeth against the pain, and forcing his face into an expression to conceal his agony, Nilan attempted to stand tall, hoping his cloak would conceal the whip that had buried itself into his arm. Lady Itasha looked tired, her outer raiment bearing tear marks and spattered with the ichor of some beast of the Underdark, her hair escaping its braid. Her short, lush form fairly drooped with exhaustion as she stared at her ‘servant’ with suspicion, eyes green under the light of the faerie fire. Her sharp gaze noticed movement under the edge of Nilan’s cloak. Too quickly for the agonized assassin to react, she snatched the edge of the cloak and flipped it back over his shoulder, leaving his arm and the attached whip free to her gaze.
The other two heads of the whip were striking continuously at the bracer covered portion of his arm. Cursing him as several kinds of fools, her eyes widened in shock, as she pondered the implications of her servant’s appearance. Quickly she reached up and flipped down the edge of the cloak, glared at the assassin, turned and stalked away leaving him to stagger in her wake.
After what seemed like hours to the ill drow, the priestess marched up to the gates of the city, declaring to the guards, “We go to gather some of the rarer mushrooms. We will not roam far.” The priestess at the gate nodded at Lady Itasha, and she entered the Dark Dominion. Nilan followed silently behind her, a headache throbbing and lurching stomach. Shooting pains ran up his arm as the snake head burrowed deeper into his arm. At the moan he could no longer bite back, the priestess stopped and turned to face him. “Explain, quickly,” Lady Itasha’s husky voice warned, her menacing glare sending a chill down the assassin’s spine, “The poison is strong and will kill you soon if I do not intervene.”
Fighting the urge to draw ‘Shadow’ and attempt to carve the snake head out of his arm, Nilan gasped, “A priestess milady, attacked me,” his mind struggling to think through the haze of pain threatening to send him into the abyss of unconsciousness. An icy feeling flowed through Nilan’s body, clearing his mind momentarily.
“Finish, this will not last long,” the husky voice again commanded. Nilan could see the heat of fever rising from his arm.
“She… approached me,” knowing the jealousy of his ‘mistress’, he used that to inflame her into believing him, “I told her I was your servant but she cared not for my words. She attacked me to “punish me” she said.” A small flame of hope flared as he saw the priestess’s eyes flash. Darkness began to creep up around the edges of his vision once more, and his knees lost their strength dropping him to the cavern floor.
“What house?” came the question, “What house would have a priestess who would so foolishly attempt to claim what belongs to me?”
“Shobalar,” groaned the assassin, his strength nearing its end. As though standing at the end of a long tunnel, he heard a string of curses leave the lips of the priestess, before a white hot pain erupted in his arm, drawing a reluctant yell from his lips. He heard quiet chanting, and that same icy feeling as before course through his body. The poison’s effects receding, Nilan felt a throb in his arm where the whip had been removed. He opened his eyes to find his ‘mistress’ kneeling on the floor chanting a soft prayer while holding a small dagger with spider etchings aloft. The dagger was drenched in his own blood, the instrument she had used to remove the whip from his flesh. Nilan then noticed the whip sitting lifeless on the ground next to her, its handle wrapped in a piece of cloth.
The sound of prayer ceased, the priestess staring at him. “What would a priestess of House Shobalar want with you?”
Again Lady Itasha’s eyes flashed. “You told her you belonged to me?”
“She gave me no time Mistress. When I refused, she attacked me. I put my arm up to stop the blow and the whip latched on. The next thing I remember, she was at my feet dead.”
The priestess glared, then stared at the whip on the cavern floor. “What did you do with the body?”
“I was able to dispose of it. There is no evidence linking this attack to House Srune’Lett my lady.”
“Except for this,” Lady Itasha studied the whip on the floor. “I wonder…” Gingerly, the priestess flipped the edge of the cloth back, baring the handle of the whip. “My own was destroyed on my patrol.” Whispering a quiet prayer, the priestess reached out a hand and closed it around the handle of the whip which came to life, its heads writhing angrily, hissing at the female who crooned softly to them. They settled, and the whip accepted her hand as its new wielder who raised a fiercely triumphant look at Nilan. “The Spider Queen shows her favor.”
She rose gracefully to her feet, waiting expectantly for Nilan to do the same. With a groan, the assassin made it to his feet only to fall again as three snake heads lashed out at him angrily, accompanied by a fierce, cruel, laugh. Nilan fought the urge to grab ‘Shadow’ and drive it deep into the priestess’s heart for a second feeding. Pain coursed through his body as the three snake heads struck and released, returning to complacent writhing at the end of the handle held in his mistress’s hand.
As he knelt on hands and knees panting with the pain, Lady Itasha’s husky voice whispered into his ear. “You are fortunate this time male. Lloth’s approval is apparent at the death of this one. She has been speaking words of sacrilege, questioning Lloth’s laws, and the Spider Queen is pleased with her death. It has been shown to me by the whip’s acceptance of my hand though I am no family of hers. However, should you ever raise a hand to another priestess without orders, I will give you to Matron Srune’Lett. What she chooses to do with you would be between her and the Spider Queen.” A hand touched the bare skin of his neck at the base of his braid, and a warm feeling flowed through him giving him some strength. “A sign of her approval,” the whisper sent a chill down the assassins back.
The priestess straightened, watched impassively as Nilan once more gained his feet, before leading the way back into the city.
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