Closed Thread A Game of Bones

Sulissurn

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The first time they beat her for trusting they’d done it in such a manner as to leave her face whole, but nearly impossible for her to get up and walk. The bruising on her arms made it difficult for her to hold onto the scraps of food given to them daily, her swollen legs made it impossible to run when the older packs of males came. The males were always the worst, because they were already bitter and broken and jaded by their mothers, their sisters; all the other females above them.

This, too, was the way of the drow.

Some daughters had it easy, but her moth— her Matron— did not believe easy made for strong children. One of three girls, Suliss’urn would have to prove to her mother she was worth saving. The first time she had failed to protect herself in the bevy of set-aside-brothers and boys of failed matings let to live like animals--her mother had come to only stare at her and curl her lip.

That is the price you pay for weakness. Prove to me you are worthy of my effort, my investments, of my blood, or lay here and die like the rest of the dogs,” were the encouraging words her mother had given. Her Matron had then looked at the rest of the children, the boys too afraid to look up from the dirt covered floor their brows were pressed against, her sisters too proud to admit they were afraid so they looked elsewhere--at anything--anything except their mother. Her eyes were flat as stone. They held no affection for any of them. The Matron and her guards, as well as her chained and sweet-smelling mate swept themselves out of the rooms after with the look of those who had just stepped in shit. The moment the door was shut and locked they scattered exactly like wild dogs into packs.

Always, the older boys stuck together. Some of them fawned without pride over the older girls, some of the younger boys tried to watch out for one another...But no one would touch Suliss'urn, her shame was still in the livid bruises on her legs as well as arms. At least the swelling had gone down and she could stand upright most of the time.

But because she had been beaten, she missed out on many of the food scraps. Her hunger was already making her head swim. She had to eat and eat soon— or she would die here. She would die here as a child and never prove to her Matron she was worth anything.

The lesson of survival at any cost was a hard one to learn. But Suliss'urn was beginning to study it well.
 

Sulissurn

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“You'll have to do something,” her sister said quietly. The words were nothing more than air. Skikudis was the oldest, the largest and the plainest. But she had survived thus far from brute strength and craftiness alone. She stood over Suliss’, back-to-the sleeping forms of small drow children; limbs still clinging to baby-fatted-youth, or stomachs roundly distended from lack of food. Skikudis made it look like she was tormenting Suliss’ by kicking at her and prodding (as you never knew who might be pretending sleep.) Mostly a ruse, the majority of the kicks missed or landed softly.

“Why? I do naut want to.” Skikudis watched her sister’s eyes fill with tears even as her jaw worked stubbornly.

“I do naut care,” the older sister hissed. “And neither does anyone else. Do you want--” Skikudis pointed over her shoulder, “--one of them to kill you first?”

Suliss’urn’s round face, not yet old enough to brag the angles and sharp cheek bones of her elven heritage screwed up in a bid to keep the tears from falling. She failed. Skikudis watched them with an idle entrancement and thought, I wonder when the last time I let myself cry was? then shook her head.

No.”
“Then you must. You are going to have to things that you will hate at first, to survive. Eventually, you will naut hate it at all. Or you will naut care about it and when that time comes, it won’t matter. When it comes down to it, sister mine, it’s either you or them. Do everything in your power to make it you.”

The younger drow did her best to digest this. So young, Skikudis observed. I was young like this once but it feels like it has been centuries. Suliss’urns expression changed from the brow-furrowing of thought to the tilting of her head, to eye her sister with mounting suspicion.

“Why are you helping me?” Suliss’ asked. Skikudis felt a little hope for her sister flutter within her stomach as the youngest displayed distrust. Finally!

“Because you will owe me,” honestly replied. “And you will be indebted to me. I will use you against our other siblings to ensure my rise through the ranks. When I rise through the ranks,” Skikudis pushed Suliss’ boney little chest. “—You rise through the ranks, with me. Eh?”

Suliss’ spine hit the smooth glittering wall of stone. For a moment, Skikudis thought her younger sister’s features had sharpened—like some sort of little black hound on the scent of prey—but the impression was gone as Suliss’ made her features go lax to hide her thoughts. Good, good...she can learn. Suliss’ did not reply, but mutely stared at her older sister.

“Think about it,” Skikudis said, then turned her back on Suliss’ and left the girl on her own.
 

Sulissurn

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The first body had been one of the younger males. He had broken off from the pack he ran with to go piss in one of the deeper caverns. When they’d found his body the skin on his face had been gnawed then peeled completely off. The fleshiest parts of his body bore the gnashing of little teeth, there were marks on his hands that said he had been alive for a good long while as he was being eaten. Only the empty sockets of his eyes stared up and outward in the glowing caves of the Underdark as if some forever testament to the horror of his last few moments of life.

The other children had gathered around him to gaze at the body with the dull-eyed curiosity. A few toed at the body, some of the younger ones hid behind the older but none of them seemed shocked. They were neither strangers to death nor impressed with the way it had happened. They were children of drow. They had already done worse and seen worse.
 

Sulissurn

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It wasn’t until they found the eighth body mangled as the rest that they started to worry. The younger boys accused the older boys of tricking them and luring them away to eat them. The older boys accused the younger boys, saying that perhaps the younger ganged up on each other. The females, already suspicious of one another now broke temporary alliances believed it was a ploy by one of them to weaken their power and often sent their young males to fight one another in their name.

Now there were more dead children.
 

Sulissurn

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It was the noise that woke Xulljra first. It stood out amidst the other sounds because it wasn’t natural. She had gone to relieve herself and had forgotten to check the symbols carved into the rock and lost her way. She had fallen asleep by placid glowing pools, their trickling as well as the flishps of eyeless fish had eased her off to sleep.

But now, there was a noise that did not belong. Surreptitiously she eased her eyes open only the smallest of slits, just enough that she could see shapes through the white of her lashes. She saw the spine of a small girl, hunkered over something. Shoulder blades were sharp and moving as her hands did something. There was something familiar about the girl too. She--

“Suliss’?” Pushing herself up from the ground, she reached up to rub her eyes finally and take a better look. “Well, I do naut know how you found me, but you will lead me back to the others. At once. I--”

The smaller drow whipped her head around, a feathering of white hair stained dark in places landed along shoulders. Xulljra’s demands strangled themselves in her throat. In the girls mouth was an ear. A distinctly pointed ear turning grey slowly in death. At Suliss’urns crouched feet was one of the younger boys, half of his face already eaten.

It was the first time Xulljra felt fear.
 

Sulissurn

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Xulljra was the first to serve Suliss’. Without her eyes anyway, it would have been impossible to survive any further, she would have starved or been murdered by the other children. Despite the fact that it was Suliss’urn who had taken her eyes, Xulljra had known immediately that had she not offered to serve the smaller female, she would have been killed. Survival at any cost.

The other boys, the youngest, brought Suliss’urn the greatest portions of their food to eat, simply to ensure that she would not longer eat them.

Suliss'urn grew stronger. Starved limbs turned into toned limbs. Her legs grew longer and her cruelty grew larger. Suliss'urn remembered her sisters words; her Matron’s words.

The day Skikudis was bade by her Matron to fetch Suliss’urn, her sister had found her seated on a make-shift chair made of femur and bone. She was taller, leaner, and the sharpness in Suliss’urns face set Skikudis back.

It was the first time (but would not be the last time,)wondered if it would have been better for Suliss'urn if Skikudis had not simply killed her instead of helped her.
 
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