Chapter 1: In The Beginning

Matron Malice Do'Urden, Matron Mother of Daermon N'a'shezbaernon, Seventh House of Menzoberranzan, awoke with a start, gasping in lungfuls of air. Sitting up, she glanced around the room. For some reason she found herself in the Weapons Hall of the Do'Urden compound, instead of her Throne Room or her private chambers, and surrounded by a strange and eclectic mix of beings. Her brother and unwilling lover, Zaknafein, lay on a couch opposite her, clearly recovering from life-threatening wounds, a state in which Malice was quite used to seeing drow elves, but rather less used to seeing Zaknafein. Her eldest son and middle daughter stood some ways away quietly conferring, while a human child slept at the foot of the couch on which she herself lay. And in the corner, her youngest son Drizzt, the pride of House Do'Urden, as much as a male could be the pride of a drow Noble House, sat in quiet meditation next to the thirdboy of House Baenre, the First House of the city, and indisputably the most powerful.

Malice sighed. She was getting too old for this. Then she smirked. Who was she trying to fool? This was what Malice Do'Urden lived for - chaos, power, and a side of cold-blooded murder. "Vierna!" she barked. "What in the Nine Hells is going on here? Did we win? Or should I be expecting my fiery death any moment now?" Her daughter fixed her with a level gaze.

"Do'Urden is the Seventh House," she spoke, causing a wide, cruel smile to bloom on Malice's face, "but Matron Malice was almost replaced by Matron Briza. You have the Baenre to thank that such an event did not come to pass. And even now Briza is probably gathering support, hoping your life will end tonight either naturally, or unnaturally." The smile slipped from Malice's face with Vierna's words. It was no surprise, of course, that Briza would want to take Malice's place, and Malice had been foolish to over-exert herself as she did. But now, there was a coup to stop, before it could begin. Malice swung her legs from the couch to the hard stone floor, and with a snap of her fingers the Matron's robes restored themselves to freshness, clinging in all the right places to her lithe body. She looked around at her small band of supporters.

"Let's go."

In the end, retaking control of House Do'Urden was rather simple. Matron Malice was well in Lloth's favour as the architect of a near-unprecedented rise from Tenth House to Seventh House within four decades. Briza, on the other hand, had just failed a clumsy assassination attempt, and despite her fervour for the Spider Queen, was rather lower in Lloth's favour. Had the entirety of House Do'Urden backed Briza, perhaps she could still have taken control, but without even the full support of the nobles of the house, Briza's cause failed the moment that Malice woke up.

As a consequence of this, Briza found herself kneeling before Malice in the Throne Room, waiting for judgement.

"I will overlook your actions this time," the Matron Mother spoke, "but it would behoove you not to make such a lapse in judgement again. House Do'Urden will need all its strength in this time of troubles, but if you are not contributing to our strength, then you are expendable." This final phrase was hissed, as Malice reached out and lifted Briza into the air by her chin. "Now get out!" the matron roared, tossing her effortlessly towards the door, and Briza scuttled away, like one of her precious spiders. Matron Malice turned her dark gaze on Dinin and Maya.

"Briza will not be leaving the chapel for some time now, except by my command. Her punishment is perhaps too light, but as with her, so with you. Dinin! You will return to your teaching role at Melee-Magthere. You will not return to the house without my order. You will be on your own, but you are expected to serve House Do'Urden faithfully. Do not disappoint me, or I will give you to Nalfein to do as he sees fit." The braggadocious secondboy visibly flinched at this threat, and bowed deeply before turning and fleeing, following his sister's lead.

"And now you, Maya," Matron Malice crooned. This alone was enough to send the matron's youngest daughter to her knees, prostrating herself on the floor. "I am disappointed in you, daughter," Malice continued, in a sickly sweet tone, "I thought I had raised you with more intelligence than to pick the losing side, and to be so obvious about it. Briza and Dinin are strong, but the true strength of this house lies in our craftiness, not our strength. Do not disappoint me again," she commanded, "or it will be the last thing you do. Now, you are assigned to heal Zaknafein for as long as it takes, and then you can take charge of the teaching of Drizzt's little iblith toy. If you can complete this task to satisfaction, you may resume your training to become a high priestess." Maya's face paled to an ashen grey. The double insult of tending to a lowly male, and then also of teaching a non-drow was almost enough to make Maya prefer the offer of death. But Maya was truly her mother's child, and all things would pass, while ambition would remain the same.

It was a strange duo that traversed Menzoberranzan's stone streets in the early morning heat of Narbondel. A pair of dark-skinned, white-haired elves, the eyes of one red, and of the other violet, clad in masterworked armour and piwafwis, each with two blades hanging from their hips. From the Do'Urden compound in the West Wall to the spiderweb fence of the House Baenre compound on the plateau of Qu'ellarz'orl they walked together in silence. By the time that they completed their journey, Narbondel had risen almost to its zenith, shining brightly above the city as the two thirdboys arrived at their destination. A nod was exchanged, and the red-eyed drow stepped inside the spiderweb fence, as the violet-eyed drow turned his back, and strode back into the city.

Author's Note: Thanks for reading. This is the first chapter (really more of a prologue) for the sequel to Thirdboy. If you haven't read that, you probably should do so first. I own nothing recognizable from published works.