All things have a beginning and for the beginnings of Edon we must search amongst different Histories, now long lost and never recorded. The Drow are long-lived and honourable. Proud and haughty, with a society structured in family Houses, each ruled by a dominant female with her Jabress daughters, Jaluk males and Rothe slaves.
This was ever an uneasy society where Houses may co-exist for convenience, but always be scheming to become the First House of the Drow – or retain that position if it were already held. New Houses formed and existing Houses declined and fell in an ongoing cycle. It was all done in the greater consuming passion of the Drow to dominate the world totally – all of it, to kill all surfacers that had banished them below! The Drow named their underground world the Underdark and built three cities – the capital Chaulssin; Loknar and Underdark Centra.
Behind them they left their kindred Surface Elves, Humans, and the many other races that flocked in to green pastures, good hunting, and so built their own cities and economies. Time had them as a race who considered the Drow no more than vermin. The Surfacers naturally want to hold their territory and totally crush the underground race that threatened them.
This was the world into which we must look back and seek the single instant in time, and the following events, that led directly to the eventual foundation of Edon. The instant that led to your present world may be pinpointed exactly – it was the birth of Asse Ilhar Le’Tent. She was destined to rise from the obscurity of just another infant to forge what would become the greatest House the Drow have ever known, do battle with godlings that threatened the entire Drow world, and thus forge an entirely new world of the Edon you now know..
This then is the story of Asse, which is also the story of Edon, from her birth, over many chapters, to her eventual elevation to demi-goddess.
To start the tale we will look through the eyes and thoughts of Asse herself as she struggled to understand her existence and then began rising through the world she came to understand more than any other ever has.
The birth of Asse Ilhar Le’tent
Asse Ilhar (Eagle Mother) was an orphan. She had no recollection of her parents, or of any life whatsoever before Underdark Central. It was a big cold place and she was lost. She did know however that the huge lumbering half orc standing over her was called Vrug and that he would gladly give his life to protect her.
Underdark Central was huge. Its caverns were not high but they were extensive. Passageways extended in every direction that she could see. Drow and rothes (slaves) bustled too and fro everywhere. Goblins picked up rubbish, half Orcs shuffled the latest captives around in the slave pits, and the Guards stood ever vigilant. They were too far underground for any breeze to flow, so the air was still and muggy.
A row of official looking dignities stood before her and there were several rows of seats behind them. A meeting place she thought. Walking forwards she approached the closest. Elrowade welcomed her and informed her of the dangers around. Asse didn’t know what to do or where to go.
After wandering around for a while, meeting some of the locals and visiting a few shops, she was suddenly descended upon by a very tall and lanky Drow.
“Lloth be praised,” he said in astonishment, “Dos (you) are a new Drow aren’t dos (you)?”
“Xas (yes),” she replied nervously wondering why he stated the obvious.
“Ustann (I) am Nodralus. Dos (you) must meet Yathtallar immediately. Come,” he replied dashing off.
The word Yathtallar sent a cold chill down her spine. They were the clerics of Lloth, of the highest order. None outranked them in the Underdark, save the Matriarch herself. Poised with her mouth open wanting to ask something but unable to decide where to start, she saw him in the distance turn and motion to her to follow him once again. Deciding there was plenty of time for questions later she looked at Vrug, shrugged and leapt into a sprint, her long elvan legs following the stranger.
As they ran down tunnels this way and that, up inclines and around corners Nodralus instructed Asse in what she was and was not allowed to do. Following the conversation required concentration so she soon knew that she was totally lost and finding her way back to Underdark Central unaccompanied would now be all but impossible. All these things she must remember; do not speak unless spoken too, always refer to the Jabress as Jabress, ask permission to rest, ask permission to reflect, do not attempt to engage anything in combat unless instructed to do so, keep up at all costs or face the consequences…death.
Suddenly, through a cave, they exited into a dark valley. The light here was peculiar. It was night time, but there was still something odd and unnatural about this place. An ancient altar was ominous in its presence and she wondered if the two elements were connected. So overwhelmed at being outside, Asse was taken aback to realise that she was standing in a stream getting her feet wet and being yelled at.
“HAVE DOS (you) BEEN BRIEFED?” said a very over-bearing woman glaring at her.
“Xas (yes) Jabress,” she replied hoping she WAS the Jabress. There was a small group of assembled Drow all staring at her. They were all armoured to the hilt, intimidating and looking like they needed only a minor excuse to destroy her there and then.
“Bwael (good),” said the Jabress nodding at Nodralus, “and what is dosst (your) profession?” She had asked with such a commanding tone that Asse was terrified of giving a wrong answer. The Yathtallar, Jabress Tetra Nulefnein, first daughter of the First House of the Underdark, House Nulefnein stood waiting for an answer.
“Cleric,” mumbled Asse, swallowing hard.
“Ahh,” replied Jabress Tetra. For a split second Asse thought the raw evil in her eyes softened momentarily, but in a blink it was gone, her fear returned, and the thought vanished.
“Tonight udos (we) hunt an Ancient Red,” announced the Yathtallar. The surrounding Drow look well pleased at the announcement, nodding and smiling. Quick introductions were done while Tetra cast protective spells upon them to assist them in the forthcoming battle.
Streea, the House Weapon Mistress oozed solid muscle from beneath the most exquisite plate armour. Her voice was gruff and harsh and sent shivers of fear down Asse’s spine. Selaclya was a beautiful jabress, in sharp contrast to Streea. She wore heavy armour and spoke slowly with great purpose. Elyawein too wore armour, chain though, her eyes quietly watched and remembered everything. Then there was Callistro, from House Pindanon, second House of the Underdark, carrying a fine bow and then of course Nodralus, wearing very little at all and carrying nothing.
The spells were done and they headed off. Vrug had been ordered to stay behind. North they ran out of The Valley of Darkness, then east. Through a gap in the trees the hunts commencement was announced with a high pitched war cry. It all happened so fast Asse hardly knew what was going on. Battle was raging, she could hear it in all its glory, but they were so far ahead so quickly, that she could not see it. Cautiously she followed the sounds and the trail of dead bodies.
At the far end of the Valley of Blight, after it was cleared, they gathered while Tetra prepared them again. Asse was told where to stand and ordered not to leave the spot. She obeyed. From where she crouched she heard Nodralus sent in to draw the dragon out. Soon after the ground began to shake and cheers echoed as the enormous dragon chased its tormentors. Battle cries filled the air and the roaring and breathing of fire was given in reply. Chaos broke loose, and Asse saw Selaclya in the distance. The Hunting Party had been split. An order was called to fall back.
Asse ran as fast as she could towards the Jabress and ran straight into the dragon as she turned the corner. Frightened and terrified beyond belief at the enormity of the beast, she panicked and fled loosing all sense of direction. Unable to scream or call for help she stood quivering next to a bush. A cold shiver ran down her spine. She looked up to see in front of her a skeleton. The mindless expression of death on its face silenced her mind as it raised its axe. It hit her once and she crumpled to the ground like a piece of discarded paper. Darkness overtook her.
The battle in the Valley of Blight continued. It was Nodralus who found Asse’s body, quite by accident. He called to the Yathtallar that the young one had been slain. Immediately in the darkness the Yathtallar voice came to Asse in her head “do not fear, udos (we) will kill this beast and then save dos (you). All will be well, just rest and wait.”
Eventually the dragon was overcome and the Jabress took possession of its heart and prized scales. Congratulations were given to Streea for her bravery once again in holding the dragon at bay from the front, while the rest of them attacked it from behind and the sides. It was Streea who had delivered the deathblow too, a great honour indeed. The Drow rejoiced.
Asse blinked several times. The fog in her head was clearing. The ground on which she lay was cold and hard. Stone she thought. As her vision returned she could see Nodralus, a confused and cross looking Vrug, and a smirking Jabress Tetra.
They helped her to her feet. Asse recognised that she was now standing at the sacred alter in the Valley of Darkness. Questions raced through her head; how did she get here? How was she resurrected? WHY was she resurrected?
“Talk to the Priestess,” said Nodralus, “The process is not complete yet. She will make dos (you) whole again.”
Asse turned and moved towards the unfamiliar jabress standing at the alter. A brief conversation was had, after which she turned back to the group assembled before her.
“All done?” enquired the Yathtallar Tetra.
“Nau (no) ustaan (I) am afraid naut (not). She required a donation and ustaan (I) have nau (no) currency,” replied Asse with great embarrassment.
“Give her cash Nodralus,” barked Tetra, frowning at the jaluk Nodralus.
“Xas (yes) Jabress,” he replied instantly diving into his pockets. “Here, take this,” he said, as he passed Asse a pouch.
“Bel’la dos abbil (Thank you friend),” said Asse nodding her head once in recognition of the gift.
Asse was amazed at the weight of the pouch, and as she turned back to the priestess opening it to remove some coin, her jaw dropped. No wonder it weighed so much, she had never seen so much money. There must have been thousands and thousands of gold coins in the pouch. Stopping momentarily to close her mouth and pay the priestess, she closed the pouch.
The priestess weaved a spell. Asses instantly felt her body fill with an inner warmth and glow. She did indeed feel much better now.
“Asse,” said Tetra quietly, moving across to stand next to her. Asse looked up and smiled.
“Eons ago,” said the Jabress, “when the Drow first split from their elvan brethren, they came to this place, this very spot and they made it their home. This was their first home. This was their first temple to Lloth,” she gestured around her, “and this their first sacred altar to her. It was from this location that they penetrated into the mountainside to create the Underdark. It was from here that our cities were born. It is not lost on ustaan (me) the significance of (dos) being resurrected here -” Tetra paused and took a deep breath, appearing to be deep in thought.
“One day,” she continued, “a large darthiir (surface elf) hunting party, led by a great magician called Kelahar, arrived here to destroy and massacre as many Drow as he could find. The Drow retreated south,” she said pointing in that direction, “through the forest. A massive battle was fought on an open field south of the river and hundreds were slain on both sides. Fortunately for us Kelahar was among them. He still walks there, now as a ghost of course, and he still fights there too. Approaching from this side of the battlefield, often times the battle can still be seen, as the land, which had absorbed so much blood, re-enacts the memory. It is a fascinating spectacle, and one, which ustaan (I) thinks, is fitting to show dos (you). Come, udos (we) will take dos (you), as there is much for dos (you) to learn.”
Months had passed. Asse had trained long and hard, but tonight she was particularly nervous as she and Vrug made their way to the teleport in Underdark Central. Whilst she had attended and participated in many Hunting Parties with the Jabress Tetra over the last few months, she had never before met Tetra‘s mother. The Matriarch of House Nulefnein, Nande Nulefnein, was the most powerful jabress living and was leading the Hunting Party she was about to join. Despite all the training she had gratefully received she felt ill prepared for the honour and anxious to not show it.
She stepped into the portal.
All thoughts of The Matriarch vanished as she found herself in a completely unfamiliar place. It was cold and uninviting. The small group of four did not acknowledge her arrival and Asse did not speak. They seemed to be at the enclosed end of a long corridor.
“We wait for one more,” announced an older woman whom Asse presumed to be Nande. Barely seconds later a handsome jaluk with a devilish smile materialised next to her. “Ah, it is bwael (good) to see dos Masoj – well met old abbil (friend),” said the Matriarch with sincere affection.
“It is bwael (good) to be back again,” replied Masoj with a kind of evil giggly lilt to his voice. “It has been too long,” he continued with a graceful bow, his black cloak elegantly swishing.
Tetra, Streea and Nodralus greeted the newcomer with the same intensity.
“Ah, they have discovered us – time to hunt,” said The Matriarch suddenly, and she ran off ahead bellowing a blood curdling battle cry.
Asse, who was determined to keep up, and who was much better at doing that these days, was about to dash after her when Nodralus stopped her.
“Are dos protected from death magic?” he asked urgently.
“Death magic?” Asse asked in astonishment. “Nau (no), ustaan (I) am naut (not),” she continued concerned, worried that this inadvertent failing may cause her loss of participation in the hunt.
Nodralus instantly dropped his backpack at his feet as the fighting commenced further up the corridor. Rummaging through it he pulled out a plain black belt. He handed it to Asse instructing her to put it on immediately and then he looked at Vrug. He frowned and thrust his hand back into the bag again, mumbling his apologies for not having a second, but anyway pulling out an identical belt. He grinned and handed it to Vrug.
The three of them ran up the corridor just in time for Asse to see a huge Salaadi drop to the ground. The floor was covered with them. Blood, ooze and body parts littered the floor. Asse’s mind boggled at the strength and danger associated with encountering such huge quantities of enormous deadly beasts and was truly afraid. She went straight for the loot, as she had been instructed to do so many times before, but found to her surprise that Masoj’s hand beat her to it by a single heartbeat.
Slightly annoyed she turned her attention back to the group. They were moving on slowly around a corner to their right and Asse followed behind. Masoj pushed past her giggling and Asse decided that who ever this new jaluk was she disliked him already.
More salaadi materialised and the battle raged on. Nande was summoning a spell as Asse drew her sword. No sooner was it free of its scabbard that the spell was released and a thundering pattern materialised in mid air and expanded in a deep throb. All the salaadi surrounding them, a dozen easily, slumped to the ground dead. Asse stood in silent awe. Masoj seized the opportunity to collect the loot again, and Asse frowned at him unnoticed.
“Tetra dear,” said Nande; “Dos may clear out the side corridor the old fashioned way if dos wish.”
“Oh xas (yes) that would be bwael (good). Bel’la dos (thankyou) Mother,” said Tetra with enormous enthusiasm. With that she disappeared around the corridor and battle sounds could be heard. No one offered assistance to her and none was asked for. It was clear however that the Jabress Tetra struggled somewhat solo, but was keen to prove herself worthy of the favour granted. Returning triumphant, Masoj dashed past her towards the bodies. The Matriarch congratulated her daughter and Asse cursed silently under her breath at the jaluk.
The party then proceeded onwards. Nande wove another spell in the air that dropped yet another huge group of salaadi, and then another. Asse was astounded by the Matriarch’s power, prowess and charisma. Simultaneously she worked on a deep hatred for the black-cloaked Masoj who continued to take all the booty. Once he even snatched it from her hand as she stood up. Her patience was barely in check.
She was ordered to stay well back for the final battle. At the end of the corridor to their right were the treasure chests they sought. To get to them however, they must first kill two balors. The huge abominations with their fiery wings stood 20 feet tall and Streea made them look like straw the way she ploughed through them both.
With the floor once again covered in blood and guts, Asse split a salaadi carcass open. Very little of its internal organs seemed edible. She pried its mouth open & sliced out its tongue triumphantly. Admiring the raw meat in her hand she took a mouthful. Unbeknownst to her, Nande watched and smiled.
The ear piercing blast of a sonic trap knocked Asse and Vrug off their feet. Streea was gathering the loot from the chests. As they stood up, Streea approached another one and a huge ball of fire exploded in her face. Streea took little damage. Asse was worse off as a result, receiving minor burns despite being a considerable distance away. She backed away as the content of the last chests were retrieved.
With Streea announcing she was done, the Hunting Party quickly and quietly returned to their starting location. Asse finished off the tongue as they went.
“May ustaan (I) reflect Jabress,” Asse asked.
“Xas (Yes),” replied Nande. This was the first acknowledgement of her presence she has received from The Matriarch.
“Bel’la dos (Thankyou),” said Asse formally, as she went over to the corner to think about all she had learnt this evening and to ask Lloth for a long, torturous, painful death for Masoj.
The group murmured quietly. When Asse returned she was surprised to find a very large number of magical items and treasure laid out on the floor. She presumed the party to be divvying it up. She wondered what her share would be if any, for she had not the opportunity to attempt to kill a single monster. There was enough there to outfit an entire party.
Streea walked over to her with her backpack in her hand.
“Dos be 10 seasons old now? ”She enquired loudly.
“Xas (yes),” replied Asse with pride.
“It is traditional to receive a gift at 10,” continued Streea. “The Jabress Nande has asked ustaan (me) to present to dos a suit of my old armour, so here dos are,” and with that Streea dropped the pack which made a solid thunk when it hit the floor.
Asse blinked. Opening up the bag she recognised it as the magnificent armour that Streea had been wearing on their first meeting that she had so admired.
“Bel’la dos Streea,” said Asse, barely containing her excitement.
The other party members made their way towards the portal out. Streea left first, as always to ensure the safety at the other end for the Jabress.
“Oh,” said Nande casually in an afterthought. “All this stuff here,” she said gesturing at the items on the floor “is leftovers none of us want. Have Vrug collect whatever dos want quickly and hurry along…” With that Nande stepped into the portal and vanished.
Masoj stepped into the portal and Asse revised her opinion of him.
Nodralus added “… and make sure you take those gems – you’ll need them to get back.”
Asse looked confused.
“The Chaos Lair!” said Nodralus as if the statement explained everything. Asses expression did not change. “Back to our plane,” continued Nodralus patiently “ You need to have those gems on you to leave this place – the Chaos Lair is on an alternative plane to our own.”
Asse nodded comprehension. I am on an alternative plane and I didn’t know it she thought. She nodded at Vrug who hastily started to collect everything. Presents at 10, she pondered. That was one of the best ideas she had ever heard of. How she loved it here. Now she was going to be rich too. She and Vrug were so laden up with fantastic stuff that both of them could walk only with difficulty.
When they rejoined the rest of the party Nande continued to speak to Asse as if she had not stopped. “And whatever you do, don’t sell any that stuff. The last thing we want to do is make the merchants rich – you must give it away. There are too many kivvil (surfaces) to slay. Promise me that Asse.”
Asse nodded. Perhaps not rich so soon she though to herself, cursing silently. If I can’t sell it then, she mused, then I will have to give it away as the matriarch instructed. So she set about a plan to start meeting new people and equipping them. That night she did not sleep well. She pondered about forming her own small Hunting Party on the side, in conjunction to her training with House Nulefnein, and wondered what possible opportunities that might open up for her, and how much more treasure there was to be had and maybe how much more power for herself.