Private Tales The Old Ways

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Xylthe

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"N-no," Xylthe stammered. The Reavers terrified her. She wasn't sure if it was the way their faces were hidden or the fact they could melt from the shadows themselves. Every time she was around them she felt her skin go ice cold. She made sure to keep a good distance from him as he unlocked the library. When had Velkyn started locking the library? Was it to keep her from her only sanctuary?

"Thank you," she murmured then ducked past the Reaver quickly and into the room.
 
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Velkyn

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The Reaver didn't seem to move.

For the longest time it was almost as though he were about to say something else, about to stop her, but as Xylthe stepped into the room all she would hear was the sound of a closing door. The Library fell shut after she entered it.

For the first time in who knew how long the Avendrow would find herself alone.

No one else was within the vast archive.

It seemed that no one watched her, no one saw her. Yet the shadows still lurked. They cast from some of the shelves, over the books, against the floor. A looming quiet sort of eeriness hanging to the only sanctuary she had next.

A feeling that remained even as she chose her gifts.
 
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Xylthe

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Xylthe breathed out a quiet sigh of relief when the door swung shut behind her. Exhausted as she had been earlier she knew she would have fallen into her cot and struggled to sleep soundly wondering when she would next be called. When the next perceived failure would come and she would be locked in that box. Or worse, he would ask.

Here though in the shadows of the book cases Xylthe felt calm. Tension eased out of her shoulders each step she took and her fingers trailed thoughtfully over the book spines. Which ones? There were hundreds of books in these walls. She didn't even know what half of them contained and who knew when he would let her in here again if it was now under lock and key.

It took her hours but eventually Xylthe emerged with three volumes each in different shades of bound leather and of varying sizes. With her treasures hugged to her chest she made her way back to her dorm.
 
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Velkyn

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No one stopped Xylthe as she stepped out of the library. No one tried to take the books from her or offered any mocking commentary. As she made her way back to her rooms she would pass a few of the Reavers.

Some glanced over the tomes within her hands. Some took a closer look at the Avendrow herself, but none tried to stop her.

They all knew Velkyn had allowed this. Though none had been told so. The Reavers were special, powerful in their own sort of ways. Servants, but different than any ordinary guard. A fact perhaps which the people of Raath would soon find out.

Xylthe however, was left alone.

It was not until dawn of the next day that a knock thundered on her door. This time not the soft touch of her own servant, but something with far more purpose.
 
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Xylthe

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Instead of sleeping which would have been the smart decision, Xylthe had been unable to resist cracking open one of the books that were now hers and reading. She wasn't sure how long she had stayed up but her body certainly told her she hadn't got enough sleep. Not for the activities and stress it had been under these last few days. She groaned quietly as she pushed herself up and her head swam.

"I need sleep," she murmured to herself and rubbed at her eyes as the knocking sounded again. With more effort than she would have liked Xylthe rolled from the barely disturbed bed to the door and opened it with a yawn.

"Yes?"
 
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Velkyn

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It was one of the Reavers that stood in front of the door.

That oddly menacing black mask almost seeming familiar now. He stared down at Xylthe, as if he were expecting her to read his mind. It was only after three dull beats of the heart that the man spoke. "You have a dinner to see to."

The voice was the first feminine one that Xylthe had heard from one of the Reavers.

"Your...orothe-" It was an ancient Drow word meaning slave. "Has proven insufficient."

No accusation clung to the tone, oddly enough. "It is best you attend to these matters."
 
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Xylthe

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Xylthe winced at the archaic word and her hand tightened on the door knob.

"There's ho--" she begun to point out that she had plenty of time before the dinner needed her attention and a few extra hours of sleep would have been more helpful to everyone. But instead she bit her tongue and merely nodded. "I understand," she squeezed her way out of her room careful not to touch the Reaver on the way then set off down the corridor.

She hoped the homeless men and women she'd hired had at least got some rest.

Xylthe didn't care if the Reaver followed her or not and she set a brisk pace down the corridors until she reached the kitchen. The majority of those she had hired the night before were stood there before a very broken man who looked close to tears.

"It's ok George, I can take it from here. Go lie down."
 
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Velkyn

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The Reaver did in fact follow, and yet the way she moved it would have been more accurate to describe that she flowed.

She didn't seem to step, her boots made no noise, instead she was behind Xylthe as though any pace she made would have ended in the same result. When the two of them reached the greater hall the Reaver set herself aside the door.

A few of the street folk that Xylthe had claimed glanced wearily at the armor Drow, but none said anything.

That small lesson had already been imparted enough.

George seemed to shake slightly as Xylthe approached, flinching as though she would deal him a blow. When her kind words were uttered, he nodded his head...slowly beginning to shamble away. As he reached the doorway with the Reaver, the masked Drow peered down at him.

Somehow, even in the silence, it was clear she was sneering at him.

Without a word the broken husk of a man skittered out of the room.
 
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Xylthe

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"Don't mind George," she soothed to the others who watched him go with trepidation. Perhaps leaving them with him had been the wrong idea. She was so used to the man she had known before. A man who would have let her sleep and been able to handle this dinner with his eyes closed. What he'd become now was... it was all her fault. She blinked away the tears.

"As you all know..." Xylthe launched into her instructions for the day and soon the kitchen and the manor in general was abuzz with activity. Those who identified themselves as able to cook were set to work and Xylthe appointed one gentleman as being in charge who claimed to have been a cook for a minor lord before he had died. He seemed to come alive in his work and Xylthe happily left him to run the kitchen once she was sure he was what he said he was. The rest were set on turning the manor into a splendid home. The tables were brought in, silver polished, napkins ironed.

She found herself able to sit just after midday outside on her own for a moment. The new chef - Alfondo - had even sent her out with a cup of tea and some cookies he had made already. She sighed and settled down to rest her feet.
 
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Velkyn

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Almost as soon as Xylthe sat herself down Velkyn came wandering in.

He moved like a predator stalking empty fields, eyes glancing around the room, peering at those around him. The Drow Lord did not step into anyone's way, did scream or admonish any of the servants. He simply watched and observed their progress.

The Lord of the House Lingered, and then slowly wandered over towards Xylthe.

A sweep of the hand showed that she would remain sitting. "I see the new servants have found their place."

He mused.

"Very good, Xylthe." Perhaps he had been right in giving her a reward.
 
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Xylthe

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Xylthe spilt half her tea over herself when Velkyn appeared in her haste to try and rise. When he motioned for her to keep sitting she paused, frozen half way to standing as if unsure if this was some kind of test, before awkwardly lowering herself back down to her seat and subtly examining the burn on her hand.

"Thank you, Sir," she said softly and raised her hand to her mouth to gently suck on the throbbing ache. Her soft amber eyes, rimmed with the lines of tiredness and grief, followed his back to the hubbub of the kitchen. "I was going to do a service report after I..." she glanced at the tea. She should have done it first.

"Please accept my apologies, Master."
 
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Velkyn

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Velkyn waved at her dismissively.

Not every failure needed a heavy hand. Not every missed opportunity required the lash. Too much punishment could be almost as damaging as too little. A slave had to know their place, know that they failed, as long as that was present they did not always need the torture that came with it.

Not always. "Consider it only a failure if the night goes wrong."

The Drow told her.

"Everything will be ready?" The Drow Lord ask, turning his eye towards her.

Guests would be arriving soon enough, and the manor needed to be set. They had to make a perfect appearance if the fools were to take his bait. He knew the Councilors would look at things carefully, more so than they would ordinarily.
 
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Xylthe

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There were a thousand ways the night could go wrong and only half of them would be anything she could control. Less than half.

"Yes, Master," she murmured then cautiously took a sip of her tea. He'd told her to keep sitting but she was unsure if that meant she was allowed to drink of tea. If she didn't it would go cold and she was not sure how soon she would get a chance to have another break.

"The food is on track, the dining room has been laid, all the silverware polished," she gave a soft sigh as the warmth of the tea hit her. "And the new butlers are all familiar with what needs to be done."
 
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Velkyn

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Velkyn listened carefully to every niche and explanation, tipping his head in a nod.

It was a small wonder that she had found staff for this evening. Especially given the rumors that swirled around this house. He was not fool enough to discount those entirely, specifically given what he had done in this place.

Such things always filtered out into the streets.

Not the details, never the details, but close enough that one had to be weary. "Good."

He said with a nod.

"Ensure this night goes well, Xylthe." Velkyn said, turning his eyes towards her. "And perhaps your reward will be more than books."
 
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Xylthe

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Xylthe tried to think what exactly he might deem a reward more than books.

"Thank you, Master," she murmured though there was a horrible feeling in her gut about the idea of more rewards. He would never want her to be too comfortable after all. Maybe he would just let her sleep a full night.

Taking another few sips of her tea - all that seemed safe with the predator standing over her - she stood and bobbed a curtsey.

"If you will excuse me Sir, I best change. The guests will be arriving shortly. I have sent two of your Footmen up to your chambers to help you dress also."
 
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Velkyn

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Velkyn raised an eyebrow. "Very well."

There was a pause, as though he were considering saying something else, and then he simply stalked away.

Even leaving there was an edge of death to the Drow Lord. It was an almost unexplained feeling that hung in the air, as though razors had been pressed to the edges of throats in the room. Breathing was hard, thinking was difficult.

He was dangerous, and it took but a look to understand that.

The Drow was not just talk. He was not something to be ignored or walked away from. There was a sense to him that most would simply avoid by their very nature.

A few hours passed.

'Dusk' set within the city, and the first of the guests began to arrive. Thunderous knocks echoing out and demanding to be answered. A servant waiting at the door, those in noble dress standing behind them.
 
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Xylthe

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Xylthe needed to be in a hundred places at once tonight but her first assignment was here, just out of sight of the door. She'd put the two best looking of the servants on duty here. One a tall, silver-haired elder man with a quiet dignity and grace next to a second, younger handsome drow with dimples when he smiled. One of her old masters had always said first impressions were meant to be made at the door.

She nodded when the door was knocked and the younger drow opened the door in a graceful sweep.

"Good evening, your Lordship," the elder drow said with a perfect bow. "Please, let me escort you to the..."

Xylthe faded into a tiny corridor confident the pair would do well. She hurried down to the dining room.

"Master, the first guest is coming."
 
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Velkyn

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This time Velkyn was dressed in a garb that he supposed many within this city would not recognize. It was a suit of tailored Melketh Spider silk. So dark that it seemed almost painful to look at. Such things would fetch an impossible price in Raath.

Melketh Spiders were fierce creatures, near impossible for even the best warriors to kill.

The trick was of course not to kill them, but to bind them. Using the ancient magics to twist their minds until they were little more than thrall. A skill Velkyn had always excelled at. "Wonderful."

The Drow said as he stepped forward.

"Which one of them is it, then?" He asked before the guest arrived.
 
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Xylthe

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"Lady Yithrel and her husband," she murmured softly and then stepped away from him. A few moments later and the new butler opened the doors.

"Announcing the Lady and Lord Yithrel," he spoke clear and properly, as though he had grown up in a house much like this and not been living in a slum until a day ago. Once he had properly introduced the pair he then closed the doors and returned to his door. Xylthe let out a quiet sigh of relief and then silently disappeared down another corridor to check on the food.

"Lord Velkyn, we were quite surprised by your invitation but delighted. Did your cousin take his staff with him? I must say I don't recognise any of these aside from little Xy of course."

A moment later a side door opened and two maids carrying elegant crystal flutes of bubbling wine came out.
 
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Velkyn

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The words, or rather, the meaning behind them were not lost on Velkyn what so ever.

There was an unsaid question beneath the question asked. A small smile touched the Drow's lips, his fingers easing at his side as he looked at the man. These games of politics did grow so tiring after a while. People never tired of digging. "My cousin went through so much change leaving this city."

Velkyn explained.

"We thought it best his servants tend to him back home." The words were of course, entirely a lie. "And, if I am honest with you..."

He trailed off, as though he were about to say something shameful. "I prefer to train my own servants. I am quite...selective."

The other two Drow's faces flickered for a moment.

Neither of them were fools. They had heard of his family, knew what he was capable of. What they should have been doing all the while.
 
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Xylthe

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Xylthe sighed and ran a hand down her face where she watched from a gap in the door. Yes, not everything would be her fault if it went wrong but it most certainly would get blamed on her.

"Send out the horderves," she said over her shoulder and two drow in elegant suits swept past her and out to tempt their guests with tiny bite-sized morsels of food.

Lady Yithrel seemed relieved when it appeared along with the sparkling wine and helped herself to both as did her husband.

"Well at least you have little Xylthe. You know, if you ever found her to not be to your... taste I would happily take her off your hands," she said sweetly. The door behind them opened and in came more guests announced by the footmen.

"Announcing Lady Kaleopso and Lord Sekhet."
 
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Velkyn

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Velkyn smiled. "Oh, I don't know."

He mused for a brief moment.

"I've come to quite like that one." Though that was a stretch for even him. There were few people in this world he actually liked, fewer still that had any sort of interest to him. Most were simple pawns, things to be expended and used. "She knows the old ways."

The words hung in the air, and it was obvious that Lady Yithrel was about to comment on them. Her lips parted, but before she could the announcer once again called out and heralded the coming of yet another guest. "If you'll excuse me, I have more guests to greet. I am sure we'll speak more later."

His head bowed shortly, and then he headed towards the entrance.

"Lord Sekhet." Velkyn said in greeting. "I am so glad you could make it this evening."

The Drow said, seeming to ignore the human man who had wandered in with him.
 
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Xylthe

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The dwarven Lord looked up at Velkyn with a twisted little smile.

"I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I was quite curious to see with my own eyes if the rumours about this place were true," far less subtle than the earlier two guests the dwarven lord looked at each passing server with piggy eyes. Calculating. Remembering. He snatched a glass from a passing silver platter and wet his lips with it.

"I wanted to extend my own invitation too. I am hosting a summer ball a month hence. You should come, perhaps you can learn how we intend to run things here."
 
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Velkyn

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A ball?

In the name of Lleth herself he could only imagine what sort of drill entertainment would be provided there. The wavering, boring malaise of this place was already grinding at his nerves. He could only imagine what a party might have been like hosted by these filthy creatures.

Bile flickered over his tongue. "I would be most honored to accept."

Somehow he managed to keep a straight face as he spoke. Though he was not entirely sure how. The very thought of attending such a drill event made him want to cut out his own heart and simply end things. But there was so much yet to do.

A city to conquer.

"Although I was hoping the expedition to my kinsmen would be underway by then." He remarked. "Perhaps we will have to do our level best to convince the others that I am not needed as a guide personally."

As had been suggested in council. "I would hate to miss such an…esteemed event after all."
 
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Xylthe

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"Nonsense, nonsense, I'm sure a fellow such as yourself will have completed the mission by then. Especially with Lord Icarus helping you. He was so very eager after the meeting to ensure you were not left alone," the dwarf laughed hard enough to make his beard and stomach shake.

"Oh! Lady Yithrel, how lovely to see you - excuse me Lord Velkyn," he patted the Drow on the elbow then bustled round him to go and speak to the other Drow.

More guests had arrived whilst Velkyn and Sekhet had been talking and the reception room was beginning to feel pleasantly full. It seemed that everyone that had been invited had showed. Apart from...

"Lord Icarus, and her eminence, Lady Lúthien."
 
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