CHAPTER 2 - EARLY YEARS

Life as a nineteen-year-old human boy living in T'lindhet wasn't ALL bad.

I'd been taken when I was very young, and the fact that I didn't remember much of my former life up in the sun-kissed world above actually helped quite a bit.

Don't get me wrong. Living in this city as a non-drow was like living in a nightmare.
But unlike many of the other forced labourers working alongside me, this was the only life I'd known.

This life I led, or rather, this life I was being forced to lead yielded rather few privileges.

Even so, as the years went by, it became blatantly obvious that my heritage shielded me from suffering the same gruesome fates as some of my "less fortunate" comrades; the goblins, the orcs, the kobolds and the other mindless creatures our Masters usually employed.

Our dark overlords loathed us for what we were; inferior, lowly beings fit only for death and servitude.

But the truth of the matter remains; their entire society could not function without us.
The dark elven Masters depended on us for everything from agriculture, to sewage, and even in some cases, craftsmanship.

During my dealings with the various Master's I'd had over the years, it also became obvious that most drow did not harbor wanton hatred for my people. Oh don't get me wrong, they absolutely disliked me.
I just wasn't treated as bad as many of the others.

I was almost always awarded some sort of special treatment that somewhat set me apart from the other slaves and servants.

Sometimes it would come in the form of extra food or extra baths. Other times I'd be granted extra sleep.

I never had any off days. Ever.

But having lived this life since I was old enough to walk on my legs, I probably wouldn't know what to do with myself if I was given free time.

Besides the rather vague memories of what my biological parents looked like, I'd seen only two humans by the time I reached adolescence.

One of them had been a trader or a merchant from the surface.
The other had been a mage, at least, that's what I gathered from the way he was dressed.

I still remember the day I saw that man.

His facial features were of no interest to me. Rather, it was his attire and the prestige and authority it commanded that fascinated me so.

Long flowing robes of deep blue and silver. Rings on each other his fingers and magical trinkets hanging from his neck, ears and forehead.

Brought up to think of myself as being the lowliest of the low, I'd never realised my people could achieve some semblance of power through the use of magic and other fine arts.

That was, as they say, a real eye opener.

My life wasn't all bad though.

Master Belaern had been more patient with me than most.

Teaching me the spoken language of the drow and educating me in the rudimentary basics of the written language, I was raised up by a rather kindhearted -by drow standards- Master.

When he died, I was devastated.

The relationship I had with him wasn't like that of a father and son, at least not the way I understood it. He was like a mentor to me, and although his beatings and lessons left many a mark on my young mind and body, he never failed to reward me by teaching me new things.

Then he died and I was taken away and sold.
Things were very different after that.

The second Master I had was a rothé farmer.

I didn't even know his name and had virtually no contact with him.

The superior I reported to during the six month farming assignment was a one-eyed hobgoblin by the name of Tathrak...or something like that.

Anyways, the job was tedious and unrewarding to say the least.
We were fed on scraps and given roughly six hours to sleep per day. Sometimes less than that.

I was so very glad when my loan contract came to an end.

I had no idea how or when the transaction had occured, but one day I woke up and was escorted out of the lower tiers of the city.

I was thirteen at that time, and spent the next three years serving as a kitchen aid and house servant at one of the many schools of wizardry the city had to offer.

This was not the life of luxury, but I was fed much better than I'd been at the rothé farm and the bedding accomodations were somewhat more comfortable as well.

Sacks of dried hay instead of stone floors.

There was also more light here than in most places.
It made things quite a bit easier for me in the long run.

My sixteen hour shifts usually involved cleaning and helping the half-orcish cooks over in the kitchen.

There were quite a few mages and student mages at the tower where I was stationed.

The apprentices were exceedingly nasty with us, but as hard as this was to believe, the older mages were generally quite a bit more lenient.

Not with all the slave, of course. The various goblinoid creatures I worked with still got the short end of the stick, so to speak.

Some of the mages were unecessarily cruel in their experiments. And more than once, I'd see a fellow slave worker being turned into a living, breathing abomination or splayed open as a study subject.

Like I said, I was luckier than most.

Some of the drow Masters were okay with me.
One in particular, who went by the name of Master Seldszar, was especially kind.

To this day, it still remains a mystery as far as what he hoped to gain from it, but every now and then when I'd clean out his personal quarters, he'd give me some sweet tasting fruits from the surface and other sugary treats.

I could tell my expressions of gratitude were very foreign to him, yet he never gave me the impression he didn't enjoy them.

In any case, my time at the arcane tower ended when I became too brazen and confident with my station.

I'd spent months sneaking books and papers into the slave barracks and reading texts when the other occupants were asleep.

Some of the stuff I read, I couldn't make heads of tails off.
But one book in particular spoke of the surface and featured some highly detailed pictures of the world above, complete with maps and information about it's people.

I was mesmerized by what I saw.

Being favoured by the drow Masters didn't only come with advantages though.

Instead of making me more popular with the slaves, I became an outcast among the work force, and was eventually ratted out by a particularly annoying Xvart who kept pestering me.

When he appeared in the barracks with two drow Masters behind him, I knew I'd overstepped my bounds.

The stupid runt probably expected me to be flogged, molestested, beaten and killed, but no such thing ended up happening.

The books and manuscripts I'd borrowed were confiscated, and less than two days later, I was sold off as a waiter to an all-male tavern in the city's market district.

Suffice to say, the luxurious inn was no place for a sixteen-year-old boy to find employment.

Let me explain.