Private Tales The Old Ways

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Velkyn

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Raath - Al'Ken Estate

Blood and death were nothing new in the city of Raath.

War. Crime. Executions.

Raath had tasted blood from almost every form imaginable. That was what it meant to be a city of Drow, or Dark Elves, or at least to have once been. Over the centuries things had changed. Since the fall this place was nearly unrecognizable. What had once been a place dominated and utterly controlled by the Dark Elves was not a mixture of colors and species.

Ogres, Duergar, Deep Gnomes, and even dozens of surface dwellers now held a hand in the leadership of Raath. Some might have thought it an improvement, a justice, given the cities place as a bridge to the overworld.

Velkyn Deth was not of such opinion.

It was all well and good to have the surface dwellers as slaves, perhaps even serfs, but having their hand in the leading Council? Such a state was utterly unacceptable. Particularly to someone like him. The El'Eth stood above the other races of the Underworld, not even to mention the creatures who chose to live within the life.

Such had already been the sate of affairs when he'd embarked on his journey, it was why he had set out from his home and come here. At least part of the reason. It was also why he stood within the study of the Al'ken Estate. His features stern as he pushed aside of papers written in the common tongue. Disgust flickered over his lips, a sneer.

A scream echoed out through the halls beyond as his Reavers made their way through the building. He had given them a simple order; No one was to escape. No one was to know.

There would be less explaining to do that way.
 
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Xylthe

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Xylthe stifled a yawn and rubbed some sleep from her eyes. It was late. Or was it early now? Time seemed a far away concept in the Library. The Scholars kept their own schedule that made no sense to the rest of the estate, and the Serfs assigned to their care had an even more complicated one. She often found herself up most of the night and into the early hours tidying up after midnight readings. Whenever she turned back to the desks there was another stack of books or papers left to be put away. Sometimes she wondered if it was a twisted sense of torture but she did not think any of the Scholars here capable of such a thing.

Half the time they seemed surprised to see anyone else in the library. Even other Scholars.

"You should head to bed, Xylthe," she jumped at the voice and turned to see the Master and over all man in charge of these halls. She dipped into a low curtsy, head bowed, but he was barely paying her any attention. She suspected she could stick her tongue out at him and he would none the wiser.

She valued life too much to test it though.

"I am nearly finished with my duties, Master Llwyen," which was roughly translated as I can't go to bed until you do. Serf, however, was one of the few languages Master Llwyen couldn't speak. He gave her a great frown over his book and then around the room. Slowly the cogs turned and he seemed to understand her meaning for he cleared his throat and shut the heavy tome.

"I should take my own advise," he chuckled. "Don't stay too late, Xylthe," he handed her the tome to put away and she curtseyed again.

"Yes Master Llywen," he collected his notes and begun to make for the door.

"Goodnight Xyl--" his words died as a blade slide across his throat.
 
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Velkyn

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The blade slid over the man's throat without single breath of hesitation. It cut through flesh as easily as it would have buttered, spraying blood onto the ground as hands unwrapped from his body and sent it to the floor like a ragdoll.

A quiet thud erupted as the Reaver stepped into the room.

He was a drow, that much was clear by what little Ashen skin was still showing. Yet he wore an armor of near black metal, his face covered by a mask. There was a knife in one hand and a strangely glimmering sword in the other.

For a moment he seemed to loom there, his head cocking as he caught sight of Xylthe standing across the room from him. Strangely enough the Reaver seemed to hesitate, as though he wasn't quite sure what to do.

That strange sword slipped into a scabbard upon his back.

Then suddenly he rushed forward and moved to grab the serf.
 
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Xylthe

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"Run, Xylthe!"

"But Priestess--"

"Listen to me, child," the older woman crouched in front of her and cupped her cheeks where tears spilled down them. "Your life, it is about to change. I won't be able to protect you anymore. So for the last time, listen to me and run."


And run she did.

Xylthe barely knew what her feet were doing. She dropped the book and spun, dashing away into the stacks of books that crowded into the Library. It was a labyrinth in its own right really. Twisting this way and that in a pattern that only made sense to the people who lived among it. She ran fast, skidding round corners and attempting to lose the man behind her.
 
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Velkyn

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As Xylthe sprinted into the stack of books the Reaver seemed to stop.

For a brief moment he glanced back towards the door, then took half a step to slam it shut. The blade on his back slipped free of it's scabbard and then stabbed through the wood, firmly locking the door in place without a seconds hesitation.

Then he turned, and suddenly evaporated into a shadow.

The floor seemed to flicker and move with light bending and willing away from the form dancing through the air and rushing through the stacks of books. It seemed to shift and flicker through the room, moving through gaps in the shelves.

With a sudden burst the shadow launched itself directly in front of the girl, exploding outward and taking on the form of the Reaver once more. His hand reached up like a viper, snatching towards the girls hair.
 
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Xylthe

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Xylthe all but collided with the Drow in front of his, his appearance so sudden she hadn't the time to stop. She hit the solid wall of his chest as his hand snapped up and gripped a good chunk of her hair. The whole thing startled a scream out of her followed by a yelp of pain. Before he could draw the blade up to her throat, like she had just seen him do to the kind man who hadn't beaten her since the day she had arrived, she begged.

"P-please, I'm just... Just a serf,"
her hands scrambled with his wrist, trying to pry him from her hair. As she did so the manacles she wore about her wrists caught the lamplight and glinted as if to confirm her words. Tears begun to gather in the corners of her eyes where the tension from his grip was beginning to tug strands of hair free.
 
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Velkyn

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She would be able to see the glint of eyes just beneath the mask, a slight shade of yellow that reflected her own. His head cocked to the side once more, as if studying her, contemplating.

There was no answer to her cries, no words that were offered.

The grip in her hair did not ease one bit, instead his fingers tightened as she tried to tug at his arm. The dagger in his hand flickered up to her throat, pressing tightly against the color of her skin but somehow not yet drawing blood.

"Walk."

His voice was distorted, broken, as if brought through some distant tunnel.

The Reaver pushed Xylthe forward, pulling the dagger away from her throat and shoving her back towards the entrance of the library. There the blade in the door would be pulled free, and quickly she would be lead through the now bloodied halls towards the study.
 
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Xylthe

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When the dagger flickered to the small hollow of her throat she wondered if this would finally be it. Surely the Goddess would not spare her twice from an encounter such as this. It was her time. Her eyes closed and a calm, almost serene look passed over her face as she prepared herself for death. But it didn't come.

Walk.

She gave a soft gasp when he released her hair only to shove her back towards the door. Xylthe stumbled and put a hand against a shelf to steady herself, before turning and dutifully walking back the way they had come. She waited, shaking, as he removed the blade from the door and then stumbled again when he nudged her on down the hall.

Xylthe tried not to look at the bodies and blood sprayed up the wall. Serfs, courtiers, scholars - it didn't seem as though the attackers had had any preconceived notions of prejudice of who should live and who should die. When they came to the doors of the studies and her ears picked up the sound of voices beyond though she stopped walking, fear freezing her feet to the ground.
 
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Velkyn

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"Is it finished?" Velkyn's voice was a pillar of strength, echoing out beyond the door. He didn't much care who overheard him at this point. The Estate was all but clear, and those still alive were loyal to him.

At least, that was what he thought.

"Only Ryld has not yet returned."

As if on queue, the Reaver behind Xylthe grabbed her shoulder. His fingers dug into her skin with not an ounce of kindness of softness, and then pushed her through the doorway. At her back she would feel the press of that dagger again, a clear show of what would happen should she try to take even a single step back.

When she stepped through the doorway she would see a similarly dressed man as had been at her back, and then behind the desk that had once belonged to her master was Velkyn.

He was taller than even the Reavers, taller than most Drow. He wore a long coat, made of a leather that was blacker than any creature on the surface world could provide. The rest of his clothes were similarly dark, though with slashes of red.

Velkyn's eyebrows rose as he saw the girl. "Who is this?"

The Drow asked, not even bothering to add; and why is she still alive?

That question he already knew from looking at her.
 
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Xylthe

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Xylthe was afraid of the man at her back and the dagger digging through the thin wool of her drab grey dress that all the serfs wore. But within seconds of being in the same room as the man behind the desk, she was more afraid of him. She had had cruel masters in the past. Masters with ambition. Masters with something to prove. She saw all of that in his gaze and some. It had taken 500 years of service to find a Master who hadn't had any of those things and she'd only had fifty years with him.

Now it was back to the same.

She swallowed, unsure if his question was directed at her or the man digging into her shoulder so she merely looked at her feet and tried to make herself as small as possible.
 
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Velkyn

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The Reaver looked over Xylthe's head, glancing over her towards the two other men in the room. For a moment there was just silence, and then he explained.

"She's an Avendrow. I found her in the library."

Few of his kin did not have superstitions about Xylthe's kind. Even his Reavers were only men at the end of the day, and most of them believed more in the Old Gods than most back home. He frowned for a brief moment, shaking his head. "Yes I can see that."

He glanced for a brief moment to the other Reaver, then motioned to Ryld.

"Search the rest of the house, make sure no one else is lurking around." For a moment the other man lingered, and then the dagger drew away from Xylthe's back. The Reaver nodded his head and then turned on his heel to leave.

Velkyn frowned, then regarded the girl.

"Who are you?" He asked. "What did you do here?"
 
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Xylthe

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Xylthe winced when her captor stated her race. The Avendrow were incredibly rare in the Underdark having seceded from the main civilisation thousands upon thousands of years ago. But the red skin too? She let more of her matted white hair fall over her face and hid her hands up her sleeves. She was almost sad when the dagger disappeared. At least her uniqueness was valuable to the man who had spared her life. It might not be so with their leader. She fought the urge to watch her chance at life vanish.

Who are you?

A direct question but she didn't dare raise her eyes. Instead she sunk to her knees and put her hands out in front of her, then bent to rest her head against her hands with her nose touching the floor.

"Xylthe is my name, if it pleases you Master," best to be told not to prostrate rather than be punished for not doing so. "I... I worked in the Library, Sir. I wrote notes for the Scholars, catalogued the books. Whatever was needed of me."
 
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Velkyn

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A smile touched Velkyn's lips, his gaze flickering towards the remaining Reaver for a brief moment before he drew his eyes back to Xylthe.

The Old ways were dead in many places, Raath was one of them. What were now serfs had once been slaves out and out. The distinction was slight for many, but not for someone like Velkyn. He knew how far they had fallen, had seen it himself. Not through his own eyes, but the old memories.

Those most had forgotten.

As Xylthe fell to her knees he couldn't help but feel some of those memories rise in the back of his mind. Times he had not been alive for, but had studied perhaps more than any other. It was pleasing in a way, a spark of how things should be.

"I see." He did not tell her to rise.

"Your master." The only reason Velkyn had chosen this house was because it had seemed weak, ripe for the taking. In truth he knew little else. He had few sources in Raath, fewer still in the inner circles here. A mistake he needed to correct. "What were his interests?"

The Drow asked as he slowly made his way around the desk.
 
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Xylthe

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Xylthe could only see his boots from her position and let out a small breath of relief when they turned and moved away from her. Of course it was no indication she would leave the room alive but...

"The Surface, Master," she said softly, though made sure her voice was loud and clear enough to be heard from his desk without the sense she was shouting. "Master Llywen is - was - in charge of trade with the surface for Raath," the Underdark was sufficient enough on its own but there were things that simply... couldn't come to be without the light of the sun. Images flickered across her mind of the fresh memories of bloodshed. Of seeing the man who had shown her the most kindness with his throat split in a blood smile. She swallowed the bile rising in her throat.

"Master Llywen also had an interest in dwarven technology, how it could be implemented in the Underdark, and wrote several papers on the freedom of slaves, Sir."
 
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Velkyn

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The surface?

Velkyn couldn't help the disgust that flickered over his face. It was why he had come to Raath, but he'd never much liked the thought of dealing with the overworld. There was something wrong about it. The Old Empire had always denied the surface.

Now even he had to settle to dealing with it. There was a bitterness in that, one he couldn't quite get off his tongue. "Interesting."

His tone of voice made it seemed as though it were anything but.

The very notion of 'freedom' for slaves ran counter to everything Velkyn believed in. A fact that this city would very soon come to find out. Yet something she had said piqued his interest.

"This...dwarven technology." He mused. "What was it?"

For the first time he approached her. The tip of his boot nestled underneath her chin, and slowly he raised her face so that he could study her. Not bothering to look Xylthe in the eye.
 
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Xylthe

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Xylthe had considered leaving the last thing off the list but it had been one of the biggest things that had occupied her last Masters time. Any cursory look at his notes from this man and he would have seen it and might have taken out the omission on her. Better to give the facts and carefully keep all opinion from her tone. A tact that seemed to pay off when he didn't throw something at her or come for her throat.

Her relief was short lived however, for the next thing she knew the boots were back and under her chin, forcing her face up to look at him. He'd been towering when she had been standing but now she felt like a mouse. She swallowed and tried to gather her frightened thoughts.

"T-transport mainly. A type of ship that could work over land - w-without horses," if the dwarves were to be believed. "And creatures they called Golems, Sir. Built t-to take over the work of slaves."
 
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Velkyn

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Velkyn listened carefully. A ship that could move overland without horses? That was a novel concept. Especially down in the Underdark. Mounts, whether horses or otherwise, had a habit of attracting all sorts of predators. Keeping them alive was difficult.

That was half the reason that he'd been unable to contact many of the other cities. They were simply too far, and the tunnels too dark now. The danger simply outstripped the resources that he was willing to spend, but with something like that?

"Very interesting." He mused.

Though that other thing was utterly absurd.

Why would anyone need to replace slaves? They were plentiful as a resource, and such research would likely just take too much time and energy. A fools gambit.

His gaze lingered on Xylthe for a moment. His men might have believed the rumors of old, the marks of the Avendrow, but Velkyn knew better. Those memories helped in that more than anything, that and the whispers of the Old Gods.

"You know your masters works well?" He asked.
 
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Xylthe

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Which was the right answer?

Yes might keep her alive if he wanted to navigate the libraries and find out more. It might also get her killed if he was concerned she might fall into another Masters lap and tell them every little secret. No, however, was just as dangerous. She hesitated, her fingers curling to slice into the flesh of her palms, before slowly nodding. Or nodding as best as she could with a boot under her chin. She quickly cast her eyes back down.

"Yes Sir. I... was the one writing down the notes during his meetings, or when he had findings to record with how the Golems operated. The Master had three in the library to study, given as gifts. I-I was the only Serf who could write."
 
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Velkyn

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The Drow considered for a brief moment, letting things mull over in his head.

There was a danger in being too over indulgent, especially with new slaves. That was why he had them all slaughtered. His intent had been to buy new ones at the market, but...he doubted any would have the same expertise she did. "Very well."

Finally Velkyn drew his boot away, stepping back over towards the desk.

He rifled through some of the papers on the desk, and then glanced back towards the supplicated woman.

"You will continue his work." Velkyn said simply, perhaps there was another use for these...golems. "And perhaps translate some of this filth into a proper tongue."

Velkyn said, looking at the documents in disgust.
 
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Xylthe

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The flood of relief disorientated her when it combined with the lack of sleep she'd already been suffering from. So much so that she didn't put her head back down on the flagstones but instead watched as he moved round the desk to rifle through the papers. If her memory was working they were reports about the latest goods arriving from the surface in the morning.

Is this real?

Just an hour ago Master Llywen had sat where he now stood. And now...

"Yes Sir," she whispered, the pure shock finally beginning to take a hold.
 
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Velkyn

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Velkyn was not entirely sure if this was a decision he had come to regret. He had taken back his city without mercy. Ruthlessness had been the best method, sent a message to those who would choose not to bend to him.

Yet this would have it's own advantages, he supposed.

Raath was a different sort of animal than his home had been. Blind brutality would not work here. He had but twelve Reavers, for the time being. While he was loathe to admit it even their skill would not be enough to quell this entire city. "Good."

He said, turning another of the pages absently.

"Show me these..." Velkyn frowned. "Golems."

Is that what she had called them?
 

Xylthe

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It took a few seconds for his words to translate into the order that they were. She blinked once, glanced up, blinked again then stood only to curtsey.

"As Sir wishes," her words sounded hollow even in her own years and her tongue felt like lead in her mouth. She at least had enough of her mind still to wait for him to set down the pages and begin to walk towards her before she turned back towards the door. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end at the feeling of him at her back but the kept her pace steady, measured. Even when she slipped in the blood once or twice.

The walk back to the library felt like it was a mile long. Master Llywen's body still lay outside the door and she froze, hands trembling as she stared at his unseeing eyes. If he hadn't been looking at her saying goodbye would he have stood a better chance? Her whole body was shaking as she crouched to get the key from around his neck slick with blood.

"T-the key to his vault," she explained before pushing open the door to the library.
 
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Velkyn

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Velkyn stared at the girl in silence the entire way to the library.

The Reaver that had been standing in the study followed along as well, though stayed behind the Drow Lord quietly. Neither of them seemed the least bit bothered by the blood and gore that surrounded this place, either used to it or simply not perturbed.

When they reached the study and the Avendrow bent down Velkyn only watched. His lips thinned for a brief moment, and the Reaver stepped forward. Then she quickly offered her explanation. Velkyn raised a hand, waving the Reaver away.

His glance then flickered at the doorway, the blade mark in the wood where the other man had locked the door in place.

So she put up a fight. The Drow Lord concluded silently as they stepped into the library.

Then as they walked among the shelves he spoke again. "How long have you been here?"
 
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Xylthe

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His question made her stumble from the surprise of it and she smeared her old Masters blood in her hair when she pushed back a matted lock that had fallen free back behind her ear.

"Fifty years, Sir," a blink of their long lives. Not enough time. Though if she had been here from the start and now found herself in this situation she might not have survived. If she would survive. Yes, I will. As long as I am useful, she told herself sternly. Their footsteps echoed on the marble flooring. It was a small mercy that she and the Master had been the only ones in here when the attack had happened. In here she could try to put the horrors of the corridor out of her mind. Corridors that bought up painful memories--

-- The Temples hall was a river of blood. A strong, armoured hand wound about her bicep the only thing keeping her from slipping --

"I have been blessed to serve many Great Families for the past 500 years."
 
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Velkyn

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Velkyn nodded.

Fifty years was not an insubstantial amount of time, though for a species like theirs it might was only a short while. Five decades could pass in a blink, or an age, depending on the situation one found themselves in.

He did not wonder if her time here had been short or long. Not born here then.

The Drow Lord thought to himself, though that information was of no surprise. Avendrow were rare in general, to find one in Raath was surprising. That was why Ryld likely hadn’t just slit her throat. An omen in a place like this, and knowing the man he very likely thought it a good one. Something Velkyn supposed he should be glad for.

HIs head shook, dismissing the thought.

”Continue.” He said with a gesture towards the library. Still eager to see these odd contraptions.
 
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