CHAPTER 1 - A STRANGE ENCOUNTER

Some five thousand meters beneath Faerûn's renowned Gnollwatch Mountains, a war was being waged in the Underdark city of T'lindhet.

This was no ordinary conflict though, and for the first time in centuries, noble houses had temporarily put their differences aside and had come together in the hopes of surviving the city-wide crisis that threatened to destroy them.

With Lolth's silence continuing to cause unrest in the drow populace and the city's iron-fisted reign over the surface-dwelling people of Dambrath being cut short, an organised slave revolt was probably unavoidable.
But this wasn't a small scale revolt.
Quite the opposite, in fact.

Thousands of derro, orcs, goblins, kobolds, umber hulks, half-ogres and other lesser creatures had banded together under the dictatorship of a self-appointed duergar chieftain and his army of rebels.

With an entire section of the cavern-city being overrun by the rebellious slaves and their bloodthirsty minions, these were uncertain times for the heavily outnumbered drow...especially now that the Spider Queen had seemingly abandoned her minions and left even the most fervent of priestesses in the dark and without powers.

After weeks of cashing in defeat after defeat, the city's ruling council finally organised a campaign to crush the slave revolt, sending the remnants of their heavily-brainwashed cannon fodder as shock troops before marching in on the slave-ghetto itself.

A fierce battle ensued, but the better-trained and better-equipped drow forces quickly crushed the slave rebellion, forcing the savage beasts to execute their own leader and publically display his severed head as a sign of surrender. As hopeful as they may have been about the end of hostilities, the slave population that had overrun the lower tiers of the city were slaughetered and shown no mercy.

The few that were recaptured were publically tortured and put on display in the center of the city plaza, probably to disuade any further rebellion from the remaining slave populace, who's numbers were at an all time low.

The Weapons Master of T'lindhet's fifth ruling house, Tsabrak Rhomduil, was among those that returned victorious from the military campaign to retake the lower tiers of the city.

In the hours that followed the massacre, the abnormally tall Weapons Master and his battlehardened troops were put in charge of sweeping through the market district and acting as a military presence in a part of the city that had been caught between the revolting slave's and the noble house armies.

Armed with a spear and seated on his riding lizard, the mighty drow warlord took little joy in impaling the kobolds, orcs and the other lesser creatures that were scampering about to get out of his way. These louts simply weren't worth his time and skill.

With the slave revolt's defeat, commoners and foot soldiers were filtering out of their homes, hungry to exact revenge on any non-drow their could get their hands on. It didn't matter if the creature in question was loyal to it's drow overseers or not. Every free-roaming slave was a viable target.

To the skilled Weapons Master however, this was hardly an excersise worthy of time.

Patrolling the streets was a lowly job for a noble of his status, and Tsabrak would've much rather been enjoying a scented bath in his private quarters or training with his students in the house gymnasium.

A large number of shops and stalls had been ransacked and pillaged during the battle, but most drow nobles didn't care about the lower merchant classes and the plight they now found themselves in.
Not until it affected the flow of fine wares and exotic goods to their houses, that is.

Just as he was about to call it a day and signal for his troops to head back to house Rhomduil's main gates, Tsabrak spotted something uncanny in the distance.

Spurring his lizard forward towards the alchemist shop that had been one of his regular go-to stores over the past century, the six-foot-tall battle veteran disembarked from his mount and slowly made his way towards the corpse of the old merchant he'd developed a passing familiarity with.

The man was dead, stabbed to death by a orcish blade and left to bleed out on the street in front of his shop.
The old drow's potion store had been ransacked and emptied of healing salves, likely by the same slave forces who'd looted nearly every other shop in the area.

Tsabrak felt no pity for the man.
He deserved no sympathy for being too weak to defend himself against beings of lesser intellect.

The fate of the old merchant wasn't of interested to him though.

Rather, it was the small human boy that wept and clung to the dead man's body that perplexed the approaching Weapons Master.

He'd seen the boy before.
During his last three visits to the merchant's shop, the child had been there, acting as the old drow's assistant.

While humans were something of a rarity in the city of T'lindhet, Tsabrak never paid the lad much attention, until now.

Even with three centuries of knowledge and experience under his belt, the Weapons Master of house Rhomduil didn't know much about these creatures.

He knew they were short lived, he knew they outnumbered every other race in Faerûn and built massive cities up on the surface.
But aside from that, he, like most drow, didn't know much about these strange surface dwellers and their bizarre customs.

The boy was young, possibly ten or eleven by human years.
Unlike the few Dambrathian humans he'd seen over the course of his life, this child's skin was pale.
Even more notable was the boy's golden hair and striking blue eyes.

Tsabrak approached the merchant's lifeless corpse, but instead of fleeing or recoiling in fear, the child simply looked up at him with tear-filled eyes and pressed a blood-soaked cloth over it's master's forehead.
The boy either didn't realise the old drow was dead, or simply didn't want to believe it.

Impressed by the child's devotion to his Master, Tsabrak saw no reason to end the boy's life...especially considering how the city's remaining slave population would become critical in replenishing the unskilled labour taskforce.

"Please...help him." the child whimpered, speaking in drow and looking up at the approaching soldier with large, hopeful blue eyes.

It was common knowledge among the drow that humans made the most devoted and loyal slaves, but to actually witness the level of devotion and emotional attachment this creature had to it's owner, was quite simply stunning.

"Your Master is dead, child." Tsabrak finally spoke, forcing to boy to look down at his mentor's corpse and accept what he no doubt already knew.

After letting the sobbing boy recite some sort of foreign prayer over the lifeless corpse of his Master's body, the armoured Weapons Master picked the lad up and saddled him onto his riding lizard before exiting the street and rejoining his lieutenants as they patrolled the route leading up to the city's upper tier.

The human boy was auctioned off at the open slave market and Tsabrak ended up getting a hefty sum from the slaver who bought him.

All in all, a fairly good day for the Weapons Master of house Rhomduil.

Little did Commander Tsabrak know his path would once again come to cross that of the young human boy he'd just sold off.