Sisterhood Ch. 01byEtaski©
Author's Notes: This story is erotic fantasy written by Etaski. I reserve the right to be listed as the author of this story, wherever it is posted. If found posted anywhere except Literotica.com with this note attached, this story is posted without my permission. © Etaski 2010
Please be warned, this is not a fluffy elf story, but it is meant to be fun in a way. While the graphic sex doesn't start immediately, I promise it will get there. FYI only, a Drow, aka Dark Elf, is a dark-skinned, white-haired elf that lives far below ground in the Underdark, a place described more in "Forgotten Realms." The society is Matriarchal, and as one of the "evil' fantasy races, they are not known for their niceness.
When I think about it now, only They could have deterred me from killing the Matron of House Thalluen and my last remaining older sister, Kaltra. I wonder if my mother had known that at the time? It was very likely; very few power shifts are truly unintentional among the Drow. We could experience unexpected results, but there was always an original, planned intent involved among the Matrons.
I was barely eighty years old, and already I had managed to trick the firstborn daughter, Juarinia, to stumble to her death. I'd gotten away with it, I believed, because I hadn't made any allies who could betray me. Instead, I had discovered she had a rather severe aversion, something she'd tried for nearly two centuries to keep secret, with good reason. It had killed her in the end. Better now than when she was Matron, though; she risked the rest of the House with such a weakness.
My mother, my Matron...she knew me well enough; she had spoken with me more than her other children, drawn in narcissistic fascination to her closest mirror image. I was Thalluensareci—the third born daughter of our House—and probably the one most capable of succeeding her, bold enough to make a difference in the status and power of Thalluen. She knew that. But she dared not yet proclaim me Thalluendara, "The Kiss of Thalluen," the Favored One in spite of the birth order, for that would count the span of my life in less days than I had fingers while I was still so young and unpracticed among the intrigue of the Nobles. Juarinia would have seen to that, and Kaltra would have helped her.
I still remember waking up to Kaltra nervously holding my wrists, pressing them down into the mattress as I lay in my reverie, and seeing my two sisters above me. Juarinia liked to practice on me. She was to be a Priestess of Lolth, she fully expected that. Whatever new talent she felt she discovered, whatever new ritual she wanted to "play" at, as if she could pretend to feel the power of Lolth so early, I was her chosen altar. Most of it was wishful toying and mild torture without the power to bring much to bear, except for one successful potion that I still think she must have had a wizard make for her. She couldn't have done so well on her own.
It was a compulsion potion that silenced me from being able to speak about Juarinia's secret visits. My body suffered almost nothing permanent, nothing visible anyway, and after my sister died the effect finally released my tongue, if I should ever choose to speak of it. So far, I had not. A Drow's innate creative potential for laying invisible marks is legendary even among our own kind.
That was probably why I'd gone into weapons training; not magic, not religion. I didn't want to be near her until I could defend myself and repay her...preferably with permanent marks. I wanted her to die.
And so she did, without my blade ever touching her.
Kaltra was devastated in a way I hadn't anticipated; she had been broken by Juarinia before I was born, became her first "follower." It was no wonder that her hastily orchestrated ambush failed so miserably. Kaltra couldn't honestly expect that she would succeed our Matron of the house; I figured Mother would live on until I had a chance to take her place. I watched for a chance, but within a week everything changed.
I would have done it, you know; killed both her and Kaltra and finally have a challenge that fed my soul in the ruling of House Thalluen. I was furious when my Matron sent me away after the attempt on my life, away to live at the courts to act as her representative. I was furious that Kaltra was allowed to live! Unlike me, she'd actually been caught!
Weak, both of them. I'd thought I knew my mother, thought she was smarter than this: to just send me away on a messenger's errand, to listen to sniping and backbiting at the courts? It was a waste and an insult!
Despite my attitude going in, though, I soon found that I liked uncovering secrets in addition to increasing my martial skills. It was, after all, a secret which had undone Juarinia. A secret could be just as deadly, just as crippling, as a sword or an arrow... The satisfaction and power of holding a secret worth keeping until just the right moment...it was like killing Juarinia all over again. Each time.
I still planned to go back and take my place in our House, planned to return soon... but the games and intrigue of the courts kept me occupied and allowed fifteen whole years to pass by without my concerning much over what my mother and sister were doing. I was using my mind and my talents; my subtlety and charm were constantly refined with the practice. The skills I was learning would always work to my advantage, I knew. Only the most intelligent, insightful, and anticipatory Drow survived Lolth's Games long enough to gain any power, and more, to hold that power for longer than a fortnight.
It occurred to me later that it might've been this that my Matron had sent me away to learn. True, perhaps I could have taken her House from her at a tender eighty years old...but I wouldn't have held it for long.
As the realization that I was not yet experienced enough for my ambitions settled in and warred with my impatience to move sooner rather than later—leaving me in a brief window of indecision—one of the Red Sisters approached me during a celebratory dinner and gathering in the Palace of the Valsharess.
I was standing on one of the balconies alone, overlooking the Underdark City. It wasn't much of a view, truth be told. There was noise and movement that I could feel in my bones and along my nerves, distant and almost immaterial until it might come close enough to be a threat in the dark. There were clusters of lights here and there; bright points in a massive cavern where I couldn't see the ceiling. Fire torches or magical light blinked within the city because sometimes the other senses weren't enough, and light in small doses could reveal mysteries of color and shade. Color like my eyes.
Until Juarinia had held a candle close to her youngest sister's face—my face— until she actually sat on my chest and let the candle drip onto my skin, as I wept from the pain of the brightness and the burn of the hot wax, no one had known my eyes were "blue." She had told me then; she held up a mirror. My eyes weren't red or copper, as was the norm; they were blue.
The Matron heard of it in a roundabout way—certainly not about the circumstances—and commented that the "sky" of the Surface was that color, too, at least according to those who returned from forays to the world above. I tried to imagine it and failed. The invisible ceiling above us held no natural light, no "sun," no "stars." As vast as it might be, it's a dark city, so one may not be sure exactly how far it extends, even from standing and gazing out on a balcony at the Palace.
As I stood on that balcony now, I could see the Web Garden directly below me. I could see the glittering designs which actually managed to absorb and reflect the icy blue florescence of the cave lichen growing in patches among the dressed stone benches and sculptures. Spiders specially bred for the Valsharess had made those designs, their tiny minds just magical enough to understand they couldn't make the same web twice. One could almost get lost studying those intricate designs.
I jumped at hearing the Sister clear her throat; I hadn't even known she was there, or how long she'd been there. I would bet she was pleased about that. The Red Sister was both beautiful and terrifying in her dress uniform, though I'd never admit that. She looked to be perhaps twenty or thirty years less than three centuries, her snow white hair was tied back tight and close to her head, her well-sculpted face severe and her red eyes unyielding. The ornate designs on her leather armor were every bit as captivating as the Web Garden below us, and I knew that in true light it would be blood red leather. She had all the tools of her profession: her gloves, protective yet supple, her belt of mysterious pouches, her crossbow pistol, her dagger of choice... her whip.
I felt my stomach clutch protectively against my recent meal; I suddenly wondered if I'd just eaten something I shouldn't have. I usually only saw a few Red Sisters at a time, though I knew there were many more, unseen. As the Valsharess's elite assassins and Palace guardians, this Sisterhood was among the most skilled and the most feared for what they did. Perhaps only the High Priestesses and the Valsharess herself inspired more fear.
And this Red Sister had called me by name.
I answered, "Yes, Red Sister? What may I do for you?"
"You may come with me."
I quickly played over the evening dinner party in my head. I combed over the last few days at court. Had I somehow insulted the Valsharess indirectly? Had I insulted someone close to her without realizing it? I stepped lightly at court, and even the couple times when I actually stepped in something and couldn't talk my way out of it, I usually chose to take the "young and ignorant" punishment over trying to convince someone it wasn't how they thought it was. Because it usually was. But give them their satisfaction then and there, and the grudge was back in my courtyard, on my timetable.
If there was a slight or a grudge here, though, I wasn't seeing any obvious mistakes on my part. Perhaps the insult had been invented.
I could do nothing but accompany the Red Sister to wherever we were going. At one point, as we were entering a part of the Palace with which I was unfamiliar, the Valsharess's assassin Called the Darkness around her, and I felt her take my arm in a grip like elvish steel. I'll admit my heart jumped into my throat; she had effectively blindfolded me. I could see nothing, and I knew this also meant she could literally walk to where she was going with her eyes closed.
I started counting steps and turns in my head. I couldn't help it; it was automatic. Calling the Darkness—when almost any Noble could do it—wasn't an insurmountable advantage. If I can't see then neither can you. Just open your other senses; they're often just as good.
"Stop that," the Red Sister hissed and struck me on the back of my head with what was probably the hilt of her dagger. When I stumbled, she hauled me around several times in a circle until I was dizzy then forcibly pushed me back until I fell. She took my bare ankle and started dragging me. Already my revealing dinner costume and intricate hair were mussed beyond repair, although I don't think I cared about that as much as some of my other acquaintances would have.
I was completely disoriented after the shuffling and skidding and struggling on the polished stone. "Let me up!" I blurted, getting sore and frustrated. "I would rather walk, and you've done your job, Sister! I have no idea where I am!"
She dropped her knee right into my stomach, and my breath was hurled to a forceful stop. "You have no idea what my job is, little one. Do not make the mistake of assuming I'm just a fetch."
Her voice was only a hiss, but in the absolute darkness it seemed louder, penetrating, and I shuddered.
"I apologize, Sister," I gasped immediately when I had reclaimed enough air to do so. I could be prideful and I could be stubborn, but never to the point as to only make things worse for myself by insulting someone who had the obvious advantage and far greater skills. "May I please walk again? Red Sister...it would be easier on both of us."
She hauled me up by one arm and I was wobbly enough to need her strict guiding arm as we continued walking forward (backward?) in Darkness. For the moment, my other senses were rattled and useless to me. At least I became aware of the door in front of my nose in time to not hit it. It smelled of stone and tasted of magic, hardly made a noise as it moved to the side; I supposed that we disappeared into the very walls. Then I felt the floor drop beneath my slim, slippered foot and I started counting stairs downward.
I wanted so badly to ask where I was being taken, and why. I started to wonder if I should have attempted to run from the balcony, if I'd lost my only chance of doing so. Of course...where would I go? Secrets were as difficult to keep in the Valsharess's Palace as they were in the city as a whole, and fugitives were among the best known secrets. There was nowhere to go, and sooner or later you were always caught.
The urge to flee took some deep breathing on my part to get under control. I'd done nothing to justify feeling so scared; if I showed it, it would be a presumption of guilt. I could hear one of my court elders' voices, low and husky and threatening, "So...what are you afraid the Valsharess will find out, little Noble? Everyone has at least one thing. Tell me yours."
Nothing. Nothing at all. If ever there was a daughter that followed the way of her mothers and grandmothers, it was me. For what it was worth, I was loyal, and only turned on the weak to make my House strong. I knew it could be much stronger so the weak had to die, like clipping off the rotting limbs of a fungal tree before the whole structure collapsed in a mist of nauseous spores.
After eighty-three steps, the floor leveled and I sensed the tight walls retreat, the air become less close. My right arm hurt where the Red Sister still gripped it; she led me to come mysterious point on the floor, and we stopped.
I stayed; I waited quite patiently for all that I was trying not to lose my meal in a fit of heaves. I closed my eyes; it made no difference if I could see or not, but at least it helped with the slight vertigo. I listened; I realized I could hear breathing. Not just the breath of the Red Sister who'd collected me, but that of several more. Maybe four. I slowly realized that a reddish hue had materialized behind my closed eyelids; I knew that the Darkness must have receded and beyond there was true light. I hesitated.
"Open your eyes, Sirana."
I did and I immediately flinched and felt tears well up and start to drip down my cheeks; the stinging light came from candles, several score of them in a large, circular room empty of furnishings. Funny thing about tears; no adult Drow ever assumed or admitted they were anything but a physiological response to irritation. They were never from an emotion, a feeling, and if they were, you immediately became prey. It was only a matter of time.
It took time to adjust my eyes and be able to take in the details around me. The walls were dressed stone and draped with the Crest of Lolth, the standard of the Valsharess, and that of the Red Sisters. The black floor had been polished to such a shine as to be able to see your reflection in this light, as if you were staring down at yourself in an underground pond, as if you were standing on the surface of black water.
There were a total five Sisters in front of me; they stood five good paces in front with the one who'd brought me standing on the outside right of the other four. All except one were no less than a century older than me, and the uniform steel of their expressions practically bled their experience in using the weapons at their hips. The youngest one was perhaps one hundred fifty, about Kaltra's age. She was the only one from whom I could glean any emotion in her face. It was sympathy.
That couldn't be a good sign.
"Your dining gown is unsuitable, Noble. Please remove it."
I blinked in the candlelight, wondering if my ears were as likely to trick me in the light as my eyes were. The one who had given me the order, the eldest one in the middle, hissed and strode forward. I took an involuntary step back when she drew her dagger.
"Stop!" she barked and I obeyed. She pointed downward and I followed her gaze. There was a subtle inlay of garnet-colored stone that formed a diamond about a pace and a half wide, and I was standing right in the middle of it.
"Step outside that diamond before I tell you and your blood will be thrown by the cup back into your own face until it's all you see and smell and taste as you drain out."
I centered myself in the diamond and looked warily at the decorated dagger she held as if it were part of her own body. I had the thought to ask a question, another version of "why have I been brought here?" but now was bad timing for it. I glanced up at Lolth's Crest, at the hourglass design on the back of a large black spider. The answer was likely here, for there were two reasons for that Crest. First: to feel Her bite and die. Second: to feel Her bite and live. This eldest Red Sister likely knew which one for which I was here, but she wouldn't tell me. Even I knew that was against the rules of the Game.
"You heard me, didn't you, Sirana? Or would you like me to assist?" The dagger glittered in the firelight as she made a slow slashing gesture.
My hands rose simultaneously and pulled the elegant silver straps off my otherwise bare shoulders. My pale gown was thin and flowing, technically covering me from bust to toe, though it took only a squint to begin to see the details of skin and curve beneath. It wasn't an unusual dress by any means, actually something of a classic for any formal affair. Once it was off my shoulders, it took very little to let it drop completely to pool around my feet. Without being asked, I also stepped on the heels of my slippers to slide my feet out of them.
The eldest Red Sister nodded approvingly and gestured her hand smartly to the side. I kicked the gown and slippers out of the diamond. She circled around me, studying my nudity critically. I knew I looked charming as my mother had at my age, I knew I had my share of jealous rivals, and I had never had a functional male Drow unable to respond to my beauty.
But I wasn't at all sure that was what she was studying.
"No hidden weapon?" she asked, possibly surprised.
I hesitated again but reached up and pulled a long, thin needle from within the white braids of my complicated hairstyle. She held her hand out for it and I gave it to her cautiously, trying very hard not to risk pricking her with it. She actually smiled, and I could see the creases at the corners of her eyes. Despite the warm color of candlelight, I could also tell there were some blond streaks in her hair. She was older than I thought. She sniffed the needle.
"Gauric's ointment," she chuckled, passing the weapon to another Sister who dropped it in a basket along with my clothes. "Enough to send anyone to worshiping their private throne for the better part of the night." She returned a hard stare to me. "Is that all?"
"Yes...uh..." I realized I wasn't completely sure what to call her. Her armor was just different enough from the others to make me doubt simply calling her a Red Sister. "Yes, it is."
"Take down your hair. Undo every braid."
That was almost as meticulous and tedious as when the servants had styled and put up my hair earlier before the dinner. I came very close to yanking on certain snarls in intense frustration and anxiety but only had to glance at the Sisters watching me to refocus and tug gently on the strand that would do the most good. Their poise and self-control was inspiring in a way, and they were observing my every facial tick and eye blink.