The Everyday Flounderings of a “Misplaced” Drow Male

The Dream

The weather of the Underdark was fairly nondescript by surfacer standards. While the humans would gawp at the sky and point to watery drips, hard splats and shuddering yellow strikes of wrath against the distance, Nalzaezar’s acclimation to weather had been… subtler.

The way dew built against rock and swelled in his nostrils when summer was on the way. The bittersweet scent of decay as fall began to render the more sensitive (as well as exported) foliage dormant. The sharp, choking cold that clawed to the bone in the winter, and the curious in-between of the spring and the summer. While the changes certainly shaped his society, surfacers revolved the entirety of their lives around these innocuous phenomenons.

Whereas the Drow bent nature over Her knee, it was nature who had the surfacers at her mercy. How quaint.
Nature had not been the only thing the ladies of the depths had brought to heel…

He still remembered the thick summer day he’d been sent off to the Academy, for it was a day that typically defined the rest of every drow’s life. It was the day that it was decided who – or more importantly, what – a woman or man was. What she or he could amount to. How long they might expect to live.

He had hoped – no, prayed! that he might find himself at Lolth’s mercy. Perhaps a life as a dutiful mage; a conduit to the city’s basic maintenance. Neither threatening to the average person’s standing, nor likely to become obsolete. Maybe an occasional stud for some merchants who preferred to travel, and would forget him with minimal ire as soon as their night was spent.

The priestess slapped him in the back with her whip, and Nalzaezar barely flinched. She stood half a head taller than him, at an average height for a woman.

“This one’s too tall,” she remarked blandly, circling to the front of him. She grabbed him by the chin, yanking it up as though she were checking a steed’s shoulders. “Bulky, too.” She studied his face impassively, the cloying incense of the temple thick in the air about her.

They would look at his test results next, he was certain. See that he had a keen mind, feel the magic that all but ached to burst forth from his body. Then he would be set; after the academy, he would be put to some mundane magical work befitting of a male with his abilities-…

“Mediocre facial features,” the evaluating priestess sighed, running her fingers through his long, fine hair. “But I guess I could use a tall daughter.”

“Martial Academy?” a priestess-in-training sneered, a hand on her hip as she watched. Nalzaezar’s eyes widened, and the corners of the evaluating priestess’ mouth quirked in a sinister smile.
“Where else?” she grinned.

The Martial Academy: where spare males went to die.

It was decided: he would never see the Mage Academy alive.

He still saw the grinning priestess’ damned bed sheets whenever he got a whiff of blood posies.

Nalzaezar ran a hand over his bare scalp and traced where eyebrows used to be. He was tucked away in the unrented suite beneath the Narrowhaven Academy, journal in his lap. The surfacers had strange castes, of which he was still amongst the lowest. But, if he kept concealed, in the dark, and did not speak too frequently, he was usually able to pass through without much hassle.

His studies had already cost him so much. The last thing he needed was to attract attention.

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