The Drow King's Tears
In the Eastern Shaar, just along the eastern edge of the Riftwood sat the city of New De'var. An unusual city, filled with elves, humans, halflings, gnomes and a handful of dwarves. However, what made this city so unusual was that living alongside these beings were outcasts from various groups of monsters. Orcs, trolls, kobolds, lizardmen, rakshasa that patrolled the streets as the majority of the city guard, and above all, drow that left the Underdark and the influence of the Spider Queen's laws. Though tensions were high between the good races, and the outcast monsters living side by side in the city, the fact that an uprising had not yet occurred in the few decades that passed since its founding would be viewed as a miracle by some. The truth behind this miracle though, was due to the king's laws being quite fair to all, and that one person from each race living in the city would let the ruler know of any issues and allow him to mediate between the advisors if a problem arose. All but the drow had an appointed representative, and that was only because the king, Turil Rydrion, was himself a drow, and decreed that having 2 drow acting as representatives would cause strife among the others. This, coupled with the city's favorite sport, The Rumble, helped relieve tension between the races a bit, and fact that no one was willing to face a Rakshasa member of the city guard. Especially when one considered just how tough a Rakshasa could be in a battle on its own, much less a pack of them that had been trained to fight.
King Turil himself was an eerily calm drow, with long white hair usually kept out of his silver eyes by his crown or a headband when he was not wearing his royal clothes while personally helping with a problem in his city. However, he was rarely seen without the black cape that made him so recognizable to his people. The cape was deemed a city treasure, being quite old despite not even looking even the tiniest bit worn out by age. He himself though, was a protector of his city and its people. If trouble arose, he would fight to protect who he ruled over, and would always seem to have a strategy prepared for any problem.
Unfortunately, New De'var was grim and quiet this day. Only three years before, the city was attacked by a small group of vampires. Though they were destroyed thanks to the efforts of various clerics, paladins, druids and mages armed with the most powerful spells they had learned, the city did not come out unscathed. Lives had been lost, among them the king's wife, an amphibious aquatic elf from the Sea of Fallen Stars named Anelia, and the knight captain's own son. After the mass funeral for those that died- preparations being made before hand to keep the dead from rising for those killed by the vampire's bite- Turil held a contest to select an artist to oversee the construction of a memorial to remember those lost. Though an elf was expected to be chosen, Turil had shocked everyone by selecting a design made as a last minute submission by a goblin.
The city's population had all gathered in front of the gate to the city's newest district, the workers that were involved having been sworn to secrecy about what stood behind them. Sitting on a raised platform beside the gate were the representatives of the various races in the city and their immediate families. The goblin that was chosen to oversee construction of his design sat close to the center, the little brown goblin obviously nervous and proud about the memorial. To the goblin's right was Ramirez, the one-eyed Rakshasa warrior who was Knight-Captain, closest to the king, and the one who devised the Rumble. The Rakshasa was also sitting next to the king, the seat on the other side of the drow being occupied by a young boy, a white haired drow with finned ears and small, fin-like growths on his arms and legs. This boy was the king's son Aurin, and while he was only six years old, the people could only imagine how Anelia's death had affected him: the young prince becoming quite withdrawn within the past three years.
Turil then stood, wearing a white silk shirt, his iconic black cape, red leggings and a sword at his side- in case someone tried to attack during such an important moment- and after he walked forward, cleared his throat to speak.
"Citizens of New De'var, it has been three long, sad years since the vampires attacked us, and while our city still stands, we all suffered losses in one way or another. Some may have lost a business, others, a child, and still others who like myself, lost someone they loved." he began, his voice remaining calm until that point, taking a moment to crack as he continued, "While the dead are at rest, they will never be forgotten. With the help of the best stone and metal workers, builders, painters, and one surprisingly talented goblin who made a design that would give this city a great gift to honor the fallen. So, before we open the gates, I now let the one responsible for this gift, speak for himself."
The king, finishing his short speech then stepped back, giving the frightened goblin an encouraging look before he sat down. Gulping, the goblin smoothed out the clothes that were made for the occasion- a simple tunic and pants with a pair of boots- and spoke.
"H-Hello." The goblin said, and did his best to keep calm despite the looks of disapproval he gained from part of the crowd, the members that cheared him on being a few goblinoids that clapped and hooted as he walked forward, "M-Me am Nimbli, and all Nimbli need say is…" the goblin paused and grabbed his ears before he continued.
"…is that Nimbli and others who help all work very hard on… mem-or-ee-all and… uh… all Nimbli hopes is that city likes!" the goblin then headed back to his seat and tripped. The crowd laughed as the goblin landed on his face, but seeing Turil himself help littleNimbli back up quieted them down, mostly. A dew drow sneered at the king for helping up a lowly goblin, but as a nearby guard overheard them and after the rakshasa got their attention, gave them a good hint for them to be quiet by placing a clawed hand on the kukri hanging by his side.
Needless to say, the hecklers quickly silenced themselves.
"People of New De'var," Turil then said once the crowd was quiet again, "I now present to you our newest addition of our city. Welcome, to Nimbli Park!" He then signaled the guards standing at either side of the gate to open them, and soon the memorial was revealed.
On the other side was a large park, newly planted rosebushes lined the walls around the place, and cobble stone pathways were lined by various small plants on either side. Towards the western wall was an area set aside for children to play: the section having mock ups of more beastly monsters for children to pretend to fight, swings hanging down from a stone arch, carved with the images of kind faced clerics to watch over the children as they played. There was also a metal, stone, and wooden structure that had steps, a rope bridge, a net that could be climbed to get into a small tower, as well as a few knotted ropes tied between a bar and a few metal stakes set into the ground. It almost looked like a fortress that was in the process of being sieged, and if anyone needed a quick "escape" from the enemy, a slick, polished stone chute that started at the top of the tower, coiled around it, and ended at a patch of grass at the bottom would work. Thankfully, so concerned parents watching their children play wouldn't have to stand around all the time, there were a series of benches carved with images of different birds and beasts surrounding the small area, and scattered around the park as a whole.
A five minute walk north of the playground, was a fountain that had a bronze statue of a fairy that was posed to look like it was using a little magic to entertain seven bronze children- two humans, one half-orc, an elf, 3 goblins and a lizard child- sitting around it. These seven sculptures were of the seven children reported dead during the attack, the fairy added to help ward off any feelings of grief for the children's families.
Littered throughout the park were plaque covered columns Nimbli had called "story rocks". Each metal plaque that adorned the columns held a story about each of the individuals that died, ranging from embarrassing tales of plans going wrong, to heartwarming moments in the lives of those the dead left behind, and a few accounts that were defining for the person in question whether they were battles or even just standing up to a tormentor. The stories were given by friends and families of the deceased, and as Turil, his son, and Ramirez walked by the columns, the older two of the trio spotted the tales they were asked to be preserved.
Ramirez's tale for his late son was about the younger Rakshasa's first fight in the rumble. Pinaka, as that was what the son was called, had faced off against a man that was half green dragon. The young warrior was at a disadvantage thanks to a broken arm, but by using some dirt to blind the half dragon, and then using a few pellets that created a strong smelling smoke to confuse his opponent's senses, Pinaka had won by using a sneak attack in the smoke could and kicking his opponent in the back repeatedly. As the rumble's rules forbade magic but no other methods of trickery, Pinaka's win was legal, and Ramirez was proud of his son's quick thinking and victory. The one-eyed rakshasa smiled as he read the plaque, while the tears welling up in his good eye showed how much he missed his son.
"The goblin did pretty good." The tiger headed knight captain said to himself, and turned his head to see the king holding up his son to read how Turil had fallen for Anelia, something the Rakshasa had witnessed himself.
As Ramirez recalled, it was a couple of months after he and the king had personally taken down a slave caravan that decided to try and pass through Riftwood. Anelia was among the captives at the time, and after the rescue, decided to take up residence in a small pond in Turil's palace garden. The king however, was unamused by this. The two had been arguing ever since they met and both seemed they were unable to stand each other. Anelia viewed the king as a creepy, unempathetic drow trying to pose as an elf and imitate the morals of a certain ranger in the Northern part of the Sword Coast. Turil on the other hand, believed Anelia to be a rash woman that was full of herself and jumped to conclusions constantly. On that day however, the two were arguing over Anelia moving elsewhere. She was being stubborn while he was trying to convince her to find a new body of water to live in so his guests would stop assuming he was keeping her prisoner, even going as far as offering to take her back to the Sea of Fallen Stars himself, just so he could get her out of his hair and get some peace of mind. When the king then commented on how she stayed in his home when she couldn't stand him, what Anelia did next was a surprise to both Ramirez –who had by that point started a few bets with the other guards on how long it would take for the two elves to admit they liked each other, and who would make the first move- and Turil.
"For someone claiming to be a brilliant strategist, you can be pretty dense!" she had told the king, before slapping Turil's face twice and then kissing him right on the lips before jumping into the pond and diving under the water. It was the first and only time, as long as Ramirez had known Turil, that the drow had been caught off guard. The drow didn't say a word after the kiss, and also learned two things after the shock wore off. The first thing was that a slap from a webbed hand hurt. The second, and more important thing was the king realized he actually liked Anelia. In the two years that followed that incident, Turil and Anelia fell in love, married, and once Aurin was born, became a family. It was a shame though, that their time together was cut so short by the vampires.
Coming out of his memories, the one eyed rakshasa followed the king to the center of the park, and the memorial that acted as the centerpiece to the area. It was a stone block that was carved with relief sculptures of those who fell against the vampires. However, the relief showed them fighting against the vampires, the charge led by a long haired aquatic elf wearing armor that didn't expose her body in a way that would have painted targets on her torso. The woman wielded a halberd that looked like it would have been effective both above and below the water, and she used the sharp point of that weapon to skewer a trio of unlucky undead. Nearest to her was a young looking rakshasa, wearing splint mail and wielding a bastard sword. The face of the tiger headed warrior roaring as he beheaded his opponent. On the four sides of the cube that the people walked around, a total of one hundred and three individuals were battling the undead, each warrior defending New De'var recreated in surprising detail. A pedestal stood on each side of the relief, all saying the same message:
"Let this monument to those lost show that no matter what races may live in this city, no matter what differences we may have against each other, when our city is in danger, all races shall unite to fight for her, for our home. These people fought to protect our city and while they died, they are still heroes to us all. These people will never be forgotten, and the fact our city still stands shows they did not die in vain.
-King Turil Rydrion, founder and ruler of New De'var"
Later that day, after everyone had left the park and returned home, Turil stood in his chambers at the palace, thinking of the day's events. The people loved the park, and seeing the work that had gone into each and every detail upon completion moved the drow's heart. He kept his sadness over the loss of his wife back as long as he could; it didn't feel right to him for the city to see the king breakdown into tears. But now that he was alone, his mind went back to the time he spent with his late wife, his body starting to tremble as he looked out the window. Turning away, he closed the curtains as his thoughts turned to the day that she died. They were both in the infirmary within the castle, both recovering from an attack. The king himself having his arm broken and weakened from blood loss, while his dear Anelia was resting from being drained as well during the attack. Her breathing that morning was shallow, and he prayed she would survive.
In the end though, when his niece checked her pulse and quickly dropped the queen's wrist, a look of horror on her face, he knew his wife had passed. The king hit his fist against the wall, tears falling from his eyes as he remembered the rage he felt toward the vampires who caused her death, and how he wasn't able to save her. He ordered his niece, Legode, her husband Myzriel the drow sorcerer, and whatever clerics, paladins, mages, and warriors that could be spared to exterminate all of them. While they were successful, the king still felt heartbroken that he could not lead the charge during the daytime attack on the undead, and that his wife could not be by his side.
While Turil continued thinking about his late wife, the drow king's knees buckled as he knelt on the floor of his chambers, his hands pulling his cape around him like a blanket as he whispered to himself. "Anelia…. My Anelia… I wish I could have been able to save you, for the sake of my heart, and our son."
The king thought about the preparations that had to be taken to prevent those killed by having their blood drained, how their mouths were stuffed with garlic, stakes run through their hearts, and the lids of their coffins fitted with a blade that would keep the heads separate from the bodies once closed. He thought about how tempted he was to leave her body intact before she was laid to rest, but the horror of another vampire attack from within the city caused him to go against his broken heart.
The king didn't realize someone had entered his chambers until he felt a heavy, and furry hand on his shoulder. Looking up, he saw the one-eyed knight captain and his friend squatting next to him, a look of understanding in his good eye. The rakshasa remained silent out of the crying king, who turned his head and blinked in surprise that his friend had managed to sneak into his room.
"Ra-Ramirez." Turil began, sniffing a bit. But, the knight captain cut him off before he said anything else.
"You know Turil, you kind of sob pretty loud." Ramirez said, before pointing at his ears. "You're lucky my boys know to respect your privacy since spying on you is enough for me to teach a poor idiot trying to cause trouble a lesson." Chuckling a little, the rakshasa noticed the king was unamused and sighed.
"Leave me be Ramirez, that's an order." Turil said, but seeing the knight captain stay where he was caused him to frown. "Defying the king?"
"Right now I see a sad man in mourning and in need of someone to talk to." Ramirez said, smirking a little, "The King seems to need a bit of rebellion right now."
"You realize I'll have to punish you for this later, don't you?" Turil then said, before turning away from the knight captain.
"Oh, I know but I think it will be worth it." Ramirez replied before the grin on his face faded as he put a hand on the king's shoulder again. "I miss her too. Anelia was certainly a good woman in life, even if you couldn't stand each other at first. Besides, I lost my son, remember? Sure, he was impaled by a spear, but I am proud he died fighting."
"Why did death take my wife? Why couldn't she have survived? Why couldn't I have taken her place?" Turil then asked. "I… I loved her so much." The king of New De'var then broke down crying again, just as a small voice reached his ears.
"Papa?" it said, and looking up, the king saw his young son standing in the doorway.
"Au-Aurin…" was all the king said, surprised to see his son when the drow felt his weakest. "What are you doing there? Shouldn't you be in bed?"
The prince didn't answer immediately. "Papa, why are you crying?" he asked instead, causing his father to stand up and walk over to his son, picking the finned boy up and holding him close.
"I'm crying because I miss your mother." He told his son, moving a hand so Ramirez could see the drow signal the knight-captain to leave.
"I miss mama too, papa." Aurin said, hugging his father back. "But, I want to be strong like you, and not cry."
Turil heard his son sniff after he spoke, and thought about how quiet the boy had become after Anelia's death. He barely let anyone talk to him at first, eventually opening up to Turil half a year later. In the three years that passed the only ones aurin would even talk to were him, Ramirez, his bodyguard lieutenant Inago Montoya, his cousin Legode and her three children.
The king then sat down on his bed as Ramirez left the room, closing the door as he did so, and rocked his son as Aurin cried.
"Shh… Shh… It is alright Aurin," he whispered to his son, "I promise, I'll be here for you whenever you need me. Anelia, your mother, may be gone… But I believe as long as we keep her alive in our thoughts, she'll be watching over us." As he spoke, Turil's voice cracked again, and he held his son as tightly as he could without crushing him.
"Is mama watching over us right now papa?" Aurin then asked, shifting to look up at his father.
"I'm sure she is." Turil said quietly, a small smile on his face. The king held his son for a while, both eventually falling asleep. It had been a long day.