Rori Sanyala was quite snug wrapped in three of the heavy quilts that Pectros had supplied her with, several days before. Due to the Silence spell that covered the cell, she wasn't able to hear anything, but after many weeks of the same routine, she knew by the faint light coming from underneath the door that it had to be very early.
Her injuries had long since healed - her skinned knees and the nasty wound where the angry Drow girl had slashed her legs were gone without leaving even scars on her perfect skin. Even her shoulder was as good as new, not only due to long days of inactivity, but also due to several healing potions that Pectros had secretly given to her.
Of course she had never spoken to the man, who she now looked at as her protector, for she had never left the cell. But thanks to her attractiveness, she was slowly wrapping the guard around her little finger. It wasn't hard at all, but then seducing men had never been difficult for her. He was old - probably 30 years old, she'd guess- and apparently was lonely, for the man checked on her multiple times each day. They couldn't hold a conversation, but still they communicated. He'd brought her all of her meals the first few days of her imprisonment and at first she had defiantly thrown the trays of food at him, even hitting him square in the face once. Instead of the response she'd anticipated, he'd just cleaned up the messes and left her alone for several hours. But he'd always return with more food.
After several days, hunger forced her to give up her defiance and eat, and this seemed to greatly please him. This just annoyed her to wits' end, but he seemed extremely determined to befriend her. She stayed aloof for a week, until slowly a plan crept into her mind. He was obviously extremely attracted to her, and if she took it slow and carefully, she just knew she could win his complete trust and then gain her freedom. Of course with winter firmly entrenched in the northlands, she wouldn't want to be on the run in the brutal cold, so she would just move very, very slowly, until warmer weather arrived.
It worked out to her advantage, for she could move much slower and carefully to master the lovesick guard. She began to enjoy the art of subtle looks and faked shy smiles. All done in complete silence, but that only enhanced the mysteriousness of it and made him more spellbound by her. The poor idiot had no idea that she was just baiting him to get free.
She was greatly surprised that she had not been brought before the Drow girl again for some sort of judgment, but from clues she picked up from Pectros and the other guards, apparently the dark elf was gone somewhere and they awaited her return to decide what to do with her. With any luck, that would not take place until the summer months and by then she would be long gone.
She couldn't decide whether she should kill Pectros after he freed her or let him live and allow the Drow to pour her wrath out on him for letting her escape. He was pitifully kind and gentle, but as the Grave Masters had drilled into her head; kindness equals weakness. Still, she wasn't sure; he had been good to her.
A week ago he had brought a chess board into her cell and she had actually enjoyed playing chess with the man. The two of them were evenly matched when playing, and this thankfully gave her mind something to do other than just scheming how she would use the fool to free her.
Rori stretched underneath the warm quilts and sighed, wondering how soon breakfast would arrive and what subtle glance or smile she should use today. She suspected that eventually she would have to use sex to 'seal the deal' with the man, but that would not be for several weeks. That wouldn't even be that bad, for though he was old, he was a muscular and handsome man and she had no doubt he'd be as gentle as a lover as he was as her caretaker.
Her tranquil thoughts were suddenly disturbed by the sudden burst of sound in the cell. For a moment she laid there stunned, for she had not heard anything due to the spell for weeks. But before she could even sit up, the door to the cell flung open and - instead of Pectros carrying her breakfast- there stood the huge form of the Half Ogre that she had tried to blast with her Sonic Staff.
He was not smiling and crossed the breadth of the room in two steps, ripping the quilts away from her. Behind him came a tall Orc male that she'd never seen before, and both of them wore chainmail and carried weapons.
She drew in breath to cry out but the Ogre held a sword point against her neck.
"Do not utter a sound, witch, or I will make certain it is the last sound you make, understand?" He growled, and she nodded, wide-eyed at the possibility of being raped by the brute.
"Are you dressed?" He asked, and she nodded.
"Good, then get up, your time has come."
"T-t-time?" She dared to speak.
"Judgment Day." He replied with a big toothy grin.
Rori knew she was in big trouble.
"Please, can't you tell me at least where you are taking me?" Rori asked as the Ogre and Orc led her blindfolded and with her hands bound behind her back, up and down stairs and around corners until she was totally confused what direction she was going.
"Shut up, witch, we're about there."
"You are going to face judgment from the Matron Mother."
"You mean the Drow girl?"
"Silence, you'll see soon enough."
Rori's mind was spinning as she tried to think of some new plan, but before one formed in her head; she was pushed into a grand hall (she knew this from the echoing of their feet as they walked in the place). Suddenly the Ogre stopped her and his hand pushed her down until she was on her knees. Then the Orc yanked the blindfold from her face.
She was in some sort of throne room, probably in the same Keep where she had been a prisoner. In front of her was a raised dais with a large ornate chair in the middle of it, serving as a throne. The windows of the room had been closed by their shutters and the room was very dark and cold. Surrounding her on each side were the members of the group that she had encountered in Thurgood, but they were all standing still, glancing up at the dais. Rori let her gaze rise to the throne. To one side stood the Drow girl that had attacked her, wearing a suit of chainmail and holding the same two swords that she'd used that day. She stood glaring at her with the glowing orange-red eyes betraying her distaste with her. But she was not the only Drow in the room. For on the throne sat another Drow woman, this one wearing a shining, slivery black suit of exotic plate armor. From beneath the Drow helm, her own red eyes seemed to smolder like red-hot coals as she sat there aloofly looking down at her. Rori had never seen a Drow matron before, but knew at once that this Drow lady was whom the Ogre had meant. Rori didn't understand what was going on. It had been a party of Paladins and their followers that they had fought at Thurgood, but this Drow had not been present and certainly did not look like she was one of their number.
The Drow lady turned and nodded to the Drow girl at her side, who came forward and pushed Rori's head into a submissive posture.
"Kneel, rivvin, before Matron D'Ar'Rilla, your Mistress and judge!"
Rori recognized the word 'Rivvin' which meant 'human' in the Drow tongue. She began to feel very, very scared.
"Matron Mother, this rivvin led a group of undead and mages into the town of Thurgood and killed those that lived there as well as destroying much in the village. It was by my hand, Matron Mother that she was captured, and I bring her to you for judgment."
The Drow Matron leaned forward on her throne, "Well, rivvin, is what my niece has spoken of the truth? Did you lead a party of Necromancers and their filth into territory that is under the authority of House Ar'Rilla? Speak!!!"
"Yes! I-I-I was j-just following orders, ma'am! I am only a s-servant!"
"Do not dare to pass the blame for your deed from your head!" The Drow Matron hissed coldly.
"N-n-no, I-I-I didn't know-"
"YOU KNOW NOW, DO YOU NOT, RIVVIN?!!!" The lady screamed, her voice echoing powerfully through the hall. Rori fell prostrate, "I'm only a servant!!!"
"WHOM DO YOU SERVE?!!!"
"The Grave Masters! They are the Black Master's servants! I-I-I am their minion!"
"You are a worthless dog that has killed those under the rule of my house!"
"I am sorry, great Matron!"
"SORRY!!! YOU ARE SORRY!!! WESTMARK IS INVADED BY THE DOGS OF THE NECROMANCER'S GUILD, AND YOU ARE SORRY?!!!"
Rori began to weep as the Matron's powerful voice rang through the hall.
"What is your name, rivvin?"
"R-R-Rori Sanyala, ma'am. I am a Sorceress."
"Sorceress? Ha! You are a mere pawn, one forgotten and abandoned by your 'Grave Masters'. You are no sorceress, rivvin! Can you chant the five fire runes of Lucandus? Do you know the word of summoning the Great Destroyer? You are nothing! Nothing!"
"I-I-I'm n-nothing! Spare me!"
"I didn't k-know! W-we didn't know Westmark was under your protection! It is part of Northmarch and I saw Paladins!"
The Matron laughed coldly, "Rivvin, if you were truly a Sorceress, you would certainly know that not all that you see or all you hear is always what is real. How would my people control a human land? Did you really think my niece was a Paladin?"
"I-I-I'm s-sorry! I was deceived!"
The Matron only snorted in disgust and turned to her niece who stood coldly beside her.
"What shall we do with this dog? Perhaps she should die and her body be sent back to the Necromancer's Guild. They would certainly use her again as one of their zombies. Tell me, rivvin, would you like to serve your 'Grave Masters' as a mindless zombie?"
"N-n-no!" Rori wept in sheer terror of the thought.
The Drow girl scratched her chin, "Well, Rori, the Matron Mother has no guarantee of your compliance if we forgive your transgression against us. You certainly can't be set free to return to your masters. We know what they are planning to do - they seek to dominate the Emperor and as soon as the Empire is conquered, the subject kingdoms will next fall. Is this not so?"
Rori just nodded, lost in her tears.
"-And you are just a pawn in the Black Master's scheme, one used and abandoned. If your loyalty to Ar'Rilla could be insured, we could put you to use. Your lot would be far better than with the Guild. We need humans as our… agents… here. We are not seeking slaves, only increased commerce. But how could we guarantee your compliance?"
The Drow lady leaned back in her throne, "There is a Geis of Servanthood that could be cast upon her that would ensure her compliance. But she must be willing to enter into the Geis before it can be cast."
Rori looked up, seeing a glimmer of hope, "A Geis?"
The Matron leaned forward and explained. "It is a magical contract, rivvin, between two parties. If you keep your side of the contract by obeying the rules of the Geis, you will receive the blessings outlined in the Geis. But if you fail to follow them, you will pay the penalty, which is almost always set up as instant magical death."
The Drow girl turned to her aunt, "Matron Mother, could we not put this girl under the Geis to serve our ends here and protect the people of Westmark? We would then allow her freedom to live here without restraint, except that she would not be allowed to leave the boundaries of the Duchy, or in any word or deed do anything that would cause harm or danger to fall upon any of the residents of this Duchy under penalty of immediate death upon violation of the deed."
The Drow lady nodded, considering it, "That might be acceptable, and it would solve the problem of what to do with her. But she would have to agree to the terms of the Geis."
Rori jumped to her feet, "Yes! I will agree to it! Anything to avoid death and reanimation!"
The Drow lady narrowed her brows, "You would FREELY agree to our terms of the Geis, which my niece mentioned? You realize this Geis can not be broken by magic, but only by my own word? It will stay in effect for the span of your life."
"Yes, I understand… please… I don't want to die!"
The Matron turned to her niece, "Well, well, her self-preservation just may have saved her life. Do you want to take her under this Geis?"
The Drow girl nodded, "I would rather have a servant than a zombie."
"Very well, then a Geis of Servanthood shall be cast. Rori the Sorceress, if you willingly enter into this Geis, come forward and kneel before me and I shall place you under this Geis."
The Sorceress slowly stood and after only a moment's pause, she humbly climbed the dais and knelt at the Matron's feet.
The Drow lady stood up and began chanting for a few minutes, then placed her hand on the girl's head, "Rori Sanyala, I bind you under the Geis of Servanthood in the following terms. You shall not leave the boundaries of the Duchy of Westmark except under the expressed verbal command of the recognized Duchess of this Duchy. You shall not in word or deed in any way betray the confidence of the Duchess of Westmark. You shall not in any word or deed say or plan any harm or aid in any plan of harm against any resident of the Duchy of Westmark. You shall in all you say and do, provide for the well-being of those of the Duchy of Westmark. You shall not in act, deed or word of mouth do anything that would hurt or harm any of the residents of the Duchy of Westmark unless you are ordered verbally to do so by the recognized Duchess of Westmark or those under her direct verbal direction. You will obey all the laws and rules, all the elected officials and those appointed as authorities by these officials. You will report any information you learn that might cause any harm to any of the people of Westmark, to the authorities in this duchy. In return for the faithful obedience of the terms of this Geis, you shall be allowed to freely live within the boundaries of this duchy without constraint. Failure to comply with the terms of this Geis will result in immediate death.
This Geis cannot be dissolved except by my word, given freely. The Geis begins… now."
A greenish glow came from the Matron's hands and went over Rori, covering her body for an instant then dissolving. The girl looked up at the Drow Matron, who glanced down at her for an instant and then suddenly burst into laughter, which was echoed by all in the Hall except Rori, who knelt there confused over the reason for their mirth.
The young Drow woman glanced past Rori to the Orc who had assisted the Half-Ogre in escorting her, "Captain Vinth, thank you for assisting us today."
The Orc bowed to the Drow and then the girl smiled at her aunt, "What did you say - 'five fire runes of Lucandus' and what was that about the Great Destroyer? You made that up, didn't you?"
The Drow lady, now seeming to possess a totally different personality, shook her head, "Not exactly - the fire runes are protection runes from magical fire and the Great Destroyer was the term Yesh used to call the effect of evil in a person's life. It had the desired effect, though."
"It scared me." The half-Drow knight that Rori remembered seeing from Thurgood commented from where he stood with the others around the dais.
"Very effective, Reverend Mother." A dwarf that stood beside the half-Drow agreed.
Rori knew she'd somehow been tricked, but was not at all certain what was true, so she just maintained her kneeling posture, afraid to speak. Pectros was standing with the others and his mirth seemed somewhat forced, as if he was ashamed at their trick. Her eyes caught his and he came forward to her, while addressing the Drow lady on the throne.
"Matron Zeatt, perhaps we should let the Sorceress here in on what is going on; she seems rather confused."
"I'm sure she is, but now that she is fully subdued by our Geis we can tell her. Aurei, this is your duchy and she is now your servant, so you should have the honors."
The Drow girl sat down on the step and bent over close to Rori.
"Rori, we used a little trick to get our way, though, amazingly, we did not lie to you, only assisted you into fooling yourself. You see, this Drow Matron seated on my ducal throne is actually Reverend Mother Zeatt D'Ar'Rilla, formally of the Underdark, but now the Bishop of Yesh of the Drow of Aeropolis. One of her titles is Matron Mother, and as she is the only survivor of the Drow House, she is by default the Matron Mother. But aside from me and her two children, there are no others in her house left of which we know. I am Aurei Bugley, though my birth mother was Zeatt's sister. As I am the duchess of Westmark, and an Ar'Rilla on my mother's side by birth, this land is in a sense, land controlled by the Ar'Rilla House. I knew you wouldn't believe me to be a Drow Matron, but since you had not met her, I was sure she might convince you of her role." Aurei nodded at her aunt.
"My dear sister's Plate Armor helped, I must add, and though I am glad you now possess it Aurei, I must say that wearing Tholmi's armor stirs up deep sadness when I think of her."
Aurei gave a sympathetic smile to her aunt then turned back to Rori.
"So you weren't going to kill me?" She asked the Drow girl.
"Well, probably, since you were responsible for Brolen's death and at least in part with the deaths of the people of Thurgood. I planned to question you and then hold a trial that would most certainly have resulted in me sentencing you to death. But it was Matron Zeatt and Queen Eioldth who persuaded me to try this first. Consider yourself very, very lucky, Rori, for this is absolutely the only possible way you could continue to live in my duchy, and not be a prisoner. Until you redeem yourself in my eyes, I will consider you a murderess that, Yesh willing, can be cleansed of the evil that has covered her soul. As you are a Sorceress, I sincerely hope you realize the consequences of not obeying the terms of the Geis. You know you will die if you do not do exactly what Matron Zeatt outlined in her casting of the spell. I would prefer to have you work in this community to pay in some small way for the lives you helped end. But the decision is up to you, really - you can obey and have a life here, or disobey and immediately die."
Rori for the first time in a long, long time, felt deep shame and only looked down at the stone floor, "I understand, m'lady."
"Good. Now I want to introduce a few people to you before I outline your duties." Aurei nodded to the Half-Ogre and the Orc and they went across the room to a door behind the dais and opened it. A moment later they led three people up to the Drow duchess.
Aurei stood and pointed to the first two - the man had the definite bearing of a King, and by his fiery red beard and sharp blue eyes, Rori was certain she was standing before the King of Northmarch, King Haroldris. Next to him stood a very tall and beautiful Elf lady with eyes even more blue than the King and with long golden blonde hair.
"Rori, this is King Haroldris and Queen Eioldth, rulers of Northmarch. I am their liege woman and I now give you the command that you will likewise hold their Majesties as your Lord and Lady. Any command that they give you shall be followed without question. Do you understand?"
"Yes, m'lady. Your highnesses, I am your servant."
The royal couple nodded and then stepped back to reveal the third person that Aurei wanted her to meet. He was a young boy, about 8 years old and though blue-eyed and fair-haired, he was certainly not the child of the King and Queen. He stood there somewhat shyly, but stared at her with a look of quiet pain.
"Rori, this is Luke, the only son of Brolen, the man whom you killed. Luke's mother was a midwife and she was in Thurgood - unknown to us or even Brolen- on the day your Guild attacked the town. She was delivering a baby and some of your Guild's zombies and ghouls killed her, along with all the others in Thurgood. So you are personally responsible for making this child into an orphan."
Rori looked at the child with horror, the shame she felt now seemed to be drowning her. With a loud sob, she suddenly found herself wailing hysterically, an out-of-control flood of emotions that she had not experienced since long before she had ran away from home on her 12th birthday to join the Necromancer's Guild. Images of her sad-eyed parents filled her mind, as well as images of her brothers and sister that she hadn't seen - hadn't even thought of- in several years, and then these images were replaced by the face of the little boy she had made to be an orphan. Rori trembled violently and curled into a tight ball as she screamed out in agony.
"My fault! My fault!" She howled, over and over, rocking back and forth in her hysteria as the grief overwhelmed her.
Instinctively, both Aurei and Eioldth moved forward to offer comfort, but Zeatt had come down off the throne and gently stopped both of them with a sad smile.
"Let her expel the poison." She said to the two Elven women and they stood by blinking back tears as the Sorceress rediscovered her humanity.
Somewhere in the terrible nightmare of guilt and shame, Rori felt someone grab her hand and another hand around her shoulder. Probably one of the Elven ladies feeling the instinctual motherly compassion to even a worthless killer like me, she thought to herself. She glanced up through the river of tears streaming from her eyes and was dumbfound to find the orphan boy standing over her, comforting her.
"My fault! It's my fault!" She cried to him as if warning him of the danger.
"I know." Luke said softly, "But I forgive you."
In the Great Hall of the Ducal Keep, not a person witnessing the scene refrained from weeping.
Zeatt lifted her arms to the heavens, tears filling her blood red eyes as she smiled, "Praise Yesh for the grace and mercy shown through this child."