The Paladins waiting for her return were not surprised at her report and they rather sadly left the tavern, telling her that they would meet with her to discuss the business of the Order the following day. Aurei was surprised at feeling sad while thinking about the torment of the grey-skinned knight. As she waited on tables that evening, she found herself praying to Yesh to comfort the young Elf.
As Aurei was praying, the young paladin was sleeping in a camp he had made about 2 miles southwest of the town. He was within bowshot of the great Faesidhe forest, but this was as close as he would dare get to it. Exhaustion took him at once into the deep trance-like state that Elves consider sleep, replaying the events of long ago with livid clarity.
It was a very familiar path his mind took him down this evening as he laid there sweating and trembling in the intense memory.
He was in what the slaves of House Ar’Grumet called "The holes" for that was essentially what they were, holes carved in the stone of the cavern floor underneath the Drow noble house. Eleazar laid there curled up in a ball much like a fox, but he was not alone, for surrounding him and embracing him was the warm pale form of his mother, her great beauty tainted and marred by the horrible life she lived as one of Grumet’s slave prostitutes. Though her mind was dazed by the drugs they had addicted her with to force her compliance with their wishes, she fought hard for clarity around her son and softly sang an Elven lullaby to him as she struggled through the night without the narcotics her masters gave her each morning. In his Elven dream, he looked up at her sad tear-stained face and she smiled down at him, her pale eyes sparkling in the dim torch light of the slave pit.
She was Sialia Fannithal, a Faesidhe noble, the sister of the King, captured on a raid while riding in a caravan traveling to the southlands. Only she had been spared, her great beauty too tempting for the Weapon Master of Grumet, who made her his pet until tiring of her after Eleazar had been conceived. That they allowed her to bear a child – especially by the second highest ranking male in the Noble House- was nothing short of a miracle, yet they had allowed it, and Eleazar had been born in the same hole he slept in this night.
Amazingly, he had been allowed to stay with his mother during the nights, after serving as one of the House’s miners of gemstones. During the day he labored with rusty tools along side Goblin, Dwarf and Halfling slaves in the damp darkness of the deep mines beneath Grumet, only to be reunited with his mother in the evenings after she had been sexually abused throughout the day by the sadistic patrons of Grumet’s "House of Pain" brothel. Countless times he found her semi-conscious, her skin laced with cuts and bruises which the weak healing potions that Dar’thellia ordered to be poured down her throat each evening were not quite enough to entirely heal.
Of course the Matron Dar’thellia, known as "The Mistress of Pain" among the Drow, did not want their prize Elven whore too physically damaged, as that would hurt her earning potential. So Sialia went through countless unspeakably savage assaults, only to have her body restored to at least a semblance of normal each evening, so the abuse could resume the following morning.
In Eleazar’s dream of remembrance, he could hear her soft song and feel her hot breath on the back of his neck as she cradled her only son.
Somehow the memory was both terrible and wonderful, but as was always the case in this reoccurring dream, it shifted to a later time, about 30 years later, when he was about 50 years old which was the equivalent of a human child 10 or 11 years old. He still stayed with his mother, who they had managed to keep looking somewhat beautiful with their magic. He was tall for his age and after working for 40 years in the mines, very strong. In his dream, he remembered eating a meal with his mother in their hole, a rare, somewhat quiet time in the slave pits. He heard some voices coming from above them, on the platform that the slave foreman and the guards used to monitor the house slaves. Looking up, he was surprised to see standing with the foreman and guards, Dar’thellia and her son Obthic the weapon master who was Eleazar’s father. They spoke in Drow in low voices, but Eleazar had heard them and understood their words. They were debating the worthiness of various male slaves in the various holes along the cavern floor. He found he was staring at the matron mother, who he had only seen twice before, both times in the distance and only for a brief moment. He felt his mother take his chin in her hand and gently, but firmly turn his head so he was looking at her rather then up at their masters.
"Don’t look at them!" She warned, "Never let them see you. Hide when you can from them, my son." Her eyes were wide in fear as if she somehow had sensed what would soon happen, but at the time, he had only felt very scared after hearing the intensity of her words.
A few moments later he was suddenly being levitated upward, out of the hole by the Matron Mother. His mother had went wild with terror as soon as he began ascending, pulling at him, crying and screaming until two of the Bugbear guards pushed her down with the blunt ends of their spears, yet still she screamed and called out to him. He could still hear her desperate voice in his dream as he had on that day.
He gently floated up parallel to the overseer's platform and when he first saw Matron Dar’thellia he found himself hypnotized by her, to the extent that his mother’s voice seemed to fade in the background. Dar’thellia surprised him with her youthfulness – she seemed no older than his mother, though the Matron was biologically his grandmother. She wore the extremely revealing leather and metal combinations that neither were clothes nor armor, though they seemed at the same time to be a bit of both. She smiled at him, an absolutely beautiful smile from an absolutely beautiful face. Her red eyes regarded him with a lazy sparkle and he could not help but smile back at her, even knowing who she was. She said a magic word and beckoned to him and the levitation spell she had cast brought him over nearer to her until he levitated directly in front of her.
"My aren’t you a handsome child." She cooed to him and he felt himself blushing.
"You are large for your age and strong, but still innocent enough, I think." She reached out and gently stroked his hair, "So soft… for a slave. What has your mother named you?"
"Eleazar" he had answered, still entranced by the radiant Drow matron.
"An odd name – human, I’d guess. But no matter." She turned to Obthic, "Yours?"
He nodded, somewhat awkwardly, but she had returned to looking at Eleazar, "He has your eyes."
"Well, Eleazar" she said pleasantly to him, "You are going to be our greatest gladiator, can you believe that? Yes indeed, by tomorrow you will be the fiercest warrior seen in any gladiatorial game. We will make you legendary. Remember this when you see what we are preparing to do for you." She made a motion with her hand and he began slowly descending back to his mother. He could hear her nearly howling in anguish, but all he could do is look up at the Drow Matron, who was serenely watching him float downward.
"Take him tomorrow morning." he had heard the matron tell Obthic, "We’ll use his mother as the catalyst."
"But she makes us a lot of gold." He had protested.
"What she will make her son will be far more valuable to us." She had replied and turned to walk out of the slave cavern.
In his dream, he heard his mother, sobbing hysterically as she tightly clutched him close to her, rocking back and forth throughout the night. He had asked her what was going to happen, but she had been too overcome with emotion to respond.
The next morning, as the Overseer had his guards roust the slaves for their various duties, he left them alone. The footsteps of the slaves marching off to another days’ work still echoed down the hall when a group of Drow guards stepped onto the Overseer platform. They carried hand crossbows and without any word or a moment of pause, all four fired at Eleazar and his mother. The bolts hit them both in the upper legs and they dropped to their knees as a very strong Drow sleeping poison began coursing through their veins. His last sight before he slipped unconscious was of his mother desperately trying to pull free of her ankle shackles.
Eleazar’s dark dream now shifted to several hours later, when the drug wore off and he awoke. This was when the worst part of the nightmare began. He was chained in the middle of a large circle carved into the stone floor of a room. It was apparently some sort of arcane study, for the walls were lined with books and several tables were loaded down with open texts, unrolled scrolls and a horrid assortment of spell components, filling the air of the room with the vile stench of death. The circle he was chained in the midst of was made up of texts and symbols carved into the stone of the floor. He did not know what they read, but he suspected their purpose and began to pull at the chains, wildly looking around the room.
Outside of the circle, before a tall, thin podium with a huge black book resting upon it, stood Matron Dar’thellia dressed in a very scant metal breastplate that resembled a huge spider resting in the center of her chest, with the spider’s legs stretching out and just barely covering parts of her breasts. She held a bloody dagger in her hand and was chanting something as her other hand waved and gestured in the casting of a spell. Next to her stood Obthic and on the other side of the Matron was two of Obthic's sisters, who were dressed as their mother was and joining her in her chant. Obthic wore a hooded black robe and stood quietly, staring down at Eleazar as the Matron mother chanted.
Seeing him stir, Obthic turned and motioned to others who stood outside of the room. A moment later three guards pulled a heavily drugged Sialia into the room. She swayed and staggered, her blue eyes glassy and distant. They pulled her to a small post between the edge of the magic circle and where the Matron and her children stood. A moment later the guards had chained her against the post, her nude form spread-eagled around it as if she was frozen in the middle of a backward somersault. Eleazar began crying, realizing what was about to happen.
From her podium, Dar’thellia smiled almost lovingly at him as he began to sob.
"You do love your mother, don’t you?" She said with fake compassion, "She has always been there to protect you, to soothe you, hasn’t she? If she were to die, what would you do?"
"Noooooooo!" he screamed out and the beautiful and cold face of Dar’thellia laughed at his scream.
"Don’t worry, it’s not yet time. Soon. But not yet. Do you feel something near you, child? Something dark and evil? Something that rages, perhaps? It is very close, within that circle with you. Can you feel it?"
Eleazar remembered his skin crawling as she whispered the words to him. He felt an iciness seem to hover over him, watching, waiting. Eleazar cried out to his mother.
"Oh she can’t respond, child" Dar’thellia cooed to him, "she can hear you though, and feel your helplessness and your terror. But she can’t do anything to help you… or herself."
The matron nodded to her son, who walked forward, shedding his robe as he did and pulling a multiple headed whip forth as the robe fell. Eleazar closed his eyes, but heard what the Drow did to his mother. Yet that was just the beginning, for the guards took turns next and after they finished, Dar’thellia’s daughters strode forward cradling terrible torture devices while laughing at his anguish. The ordeal seemed to go on and on. His mother was drugged for much of it, but toward the end the Drow drugs wore off and she began to scream out in agony, which only inspired her torturers to new heights.
The icy cold presence in the magic circle seemed to slowly be surrounding him, suffocating him, but at the same time swelling his rage. He could hear himself growling like an animal, pulling with all his might at the chains as he could almost hear the iciness calling to him.
"Rage!" it said in a voice in his head, "Rage! Let me fill you! We will have revenge!"
Yet he had shaken the voice away, time and time again, always focusing on the battered form of his mother.
After what seemed like an eternity, the daughters of the Matron finished their sadistic abuse and returned to stand behind their brother and mother.
"She’s suffered a lot, child." Dar’thellia addressed him in a voice that was gentle, "Think of what you have seen and heard. Think of the pain she has went through, and through it all you could not help her. But the worst is yet to come. Watch child, as I kill your mother."
He froze in horror as the Matron, a motherly smile on her face, casually walked around the podium , carrying the long dagger as she went. Her eyes remained on him as she went up to the bleeding Elf woman and ran the flat side of the dagger against her cheek.
"Nothing you can do, child, to help her, but just watch her die."
The matron laughed and he saw her as if in slow motion the Drow pull his mother’s head back, exposing her neck.
"RAGE!!! I CAN BREAK YOUR CHAINS, WE CAN KILL THEM ALL!!! LET ME FILL YOU AND WE WILL RAGE!!!" the voice screamed from the icy darkness. Eleazar held his breath, frozen in despair.
The blade was drawn across her neck with a slow, deep slash, the blood spurted and still Dar’thellia cut, sawing off her head as his mother’s blood covered her.
"RAGE!!" the voice screamed, and, filled with deep icy darkness, he heard himself address it.
It roared into him, beating his soul down into a tiny corner, so that he was like a leaf before a hurricane. He felt the supernatural power fill his small form and in that instant, his roar filled the room. The chain snapped off his neck as if it were made of air. Then he leaped, the being that possessed him sending him into a jump that propelled him high into the air. But it wasn’t ‘him’ anymore it was ‘THEM’. An invisible wall caught THEM in mid-flight, sending THEM to the floor at the edge of the magic circle, its enchantment sealing THEM within. Feet away, Dar’thellia laughed blissfully, now holding the severed head of Sialia.
"Stupid child, it can’t leave the barrier! I told you that you would be our greatest gladiator. I have filled you with a demon of rage and soon you will be set free in the arena to try to appease him. But don’t worry, I will be in the stands watching you. As well as your mother." She waved the severed head at him and that which filled him roared like a giant lion. She came forward, confident in the power of the circle of protection to keep THEM away from her. Inches away, she held up the head, still laughing. But the laugh was short lived, for Dar’thellia Ar’Grumet, while she had etched the protective runes correctly in the stone, had also forgotten about the shackle that now hung from Eleazar’s hand. He heard THEM roar as THEY swung the heavy chain, which wrapped around the surprised Matron’s legs. With a massive yank she was jerked off her feet, landing hard on the stone floor and her legs crossing over the protective circle, which broke the enchantment. Before she could do anything, the demon of rage had sent Eleazar on top of her. With demonic strength THEIR first blow shattered her jaw and nose. By the time her guards reached THEM, THEY had gouged out her eyes and crushed her windpipe.
Poison bolts had hit THEM, but he had not felt a thing, for that which was possessing him was running the show now. THEY lunged at the first two guards, taking them both down with his body. Both got in sword swipes that should have killed him but the demon ignored them, grabbing both the males by their throats and tossing them violently backwards, knocking Dar’thellia’s two daughters down who were rushing to their aid. Obthic pulled out a sword as THEY ran over the fallen bodies to attack the weapon master. His enchanted sword swung several times but THEY dodged skillfully and the Drow male was in sheer terror so did not aim carefully.
Suddenly the demon shot out Eleazar’s leg, knocking Obthic from his feet. He swiped masterfully as he went down, but THEY were airborne, leaping massively to land on the Drow’s head. He screamed as THEY wrapped his arms around Obthic’s head and violently jerked right and left, snapping his neck. Without a pause, the demon moved him back to the two daughters, who frantically tried to get to their feet. THEY scooped up Obthic’s sword and knocked the whip from the hand of one of the daughters that she had tried for protection. Savagely THEY stabbed her in the chest again and again four or five times until the final blow stuck so hard that the sword blade actually snapped in half. The other daughter flailed at THEM with her wicked snake whip, but though the heads tore big chunks out of his flesh, the poison did not even slow THEM. The demon wrapped the chain Eleazar had been bound with around her neck twice and THEY pulled it tight as if it were a piece of twine. Her eyes bulged for a few moments before the chain snapped her neck and then she slumped to the floor.
But THEY picked up both of the dead guards’ short swords and running at full speed, slammed into the locked door, splintering the wood as THEY made THEIR escape.
Then it was a quick rush out of the House compound, killing two more guards as the fiend freed THEM. With another massive leap, THEY cleared the 25 foot high compound wall and landed with a crash on the street. Minutes later THEY were running out the front gate of the city with half a dozen crossbow bolts and two javelins sticking out of Eleazar’s body. None dared give pursuit and the demon seemed to know where it was going, running as fast as Eleazar’s body would carry it down the maze-like corridors that were the roads between the Drow cities. It kept THEM running for 10 days, never stopping or resting nor eating. In spite of all this, his demonic possessor healed his many wounds so that by the time THEY reached the fiend’s destination, his body was whole.
The massive dark elf city of Hor’olorbb had walls 50 feet high and was well-manned, but it did not stop THEM from leaping to the top of the parapet and then down the other side before the surprised guards could react. The streets had been empty, for it was a high feast day of The Queen of Spiders and everyone was in the central arena for the ceremony. It was toward that arena that the demon took them. Minutes later, as the whole city erupted into chaos at the sight of THEM, THEY were racing across the sand floor of the stadium, toward the High Altar of the Spider Queen and the great Gate of Visitation – as they called the dimension portal they used to get messages from the spider demon or, occasionally, to send sacrifices through.
A gladiatorial contest was underway in the arena and THEY raced by several stunned gladiators who were surrounded by six hungry trolls. One troll leaped in from of THEM as they passed and Eleazar felt THEM lift the creature off its feet and toss it into the stands as if it were a ragdoll. Javelins, bolts and arrows came sailing at THEM from the stadium guards, but still THEY ran on. One javelin found his upper leg and when it contacted with it there was a flash of lightning and a jolt of electricity that knocked THEM down for a moment. But the demon pulled the javelin from his leg and flung it into the crowd, impaling a spectator.
Guards were pouring onto the floor of the arena to subdue THEM. The demon made THEM charge right at them. Several large chain nets were thrown over THEM, but THEY tore the chains like paper and threw them off. A wizard blasted THEM with a cone of ice, but it just slowed THEM down for a few moments. One large Ogre swung a spiked club that knocked THEM sideways from the impact, a spike buried into Eleazar’s forehead. But he felt nothing and THEY yanked it free, then clubbed the Ogre to death with it, along with a handful of Hobgoblin guards that foolishly tried to bring THEM down with pole arms. A priestess of the Spider Queen hurriedly cast a spell, but was unable to finish before THEY had scooped her up and thrown her into the Gate of Visitation, her form flashing out of existence as it crossed over the portal.
It was then that Eleazar had realized the demon’s intentions – he was planning on using the gate, which was always aimed at the home world of the demon queen of the Drow, to leave this world and return to the Abyss. He had tried then to regain control of his body, to cast out the demon of rage that had taken over his body, but he was too small and had no affect.
Helpless and hopeless, Eleazar had cried out in his mind to the surface God Yesh in sheer desperation, just as the demon of rage threw THEM over the portal barrier. There came the sensation of something being torn from him then a feeling of falling, falling, falling until with a surprisingly gentle *thud* he felt himself collapse onto the ground.