Legend Of Vandrae

Vandrae was one of nine drow women competing to become the queen of her jungle village. Drow do not abide the sunlight, and their village lay in the dark recesses of huge ferns, strapping vines, towering trees, and the tumbled stone pillars of a dead civilization.

“One of you…” the venerable queen announced on her sick bed to her most promising daughters. Each daughter had been born by a different consort. “One of you shall defeat every last giant, and she shall be made queen.”

At this, Vandrae and her half-sisters left the men and children in the village’s safety and sought out a nearby tribe of nasty and quarrelsome giants living like animals in huts.

Vandrae knew three things: stealth and magic were needed, the giants would be lost without their leader, and humiliation was a more powerful weapon than death.

“Charge!” the drow women shouted when the giants came foraging. Most of the sisters fought side-by-side but lacked coordinated tactics. Some had more blades eyed to each others’ backs than at the giants. As the giants stomped in, some of her sisters were trampled. Other sisters tripped a giant or two. Soon everyone was skirmishing all over the jungle as more giants joined the fray.

Vandrae focused on the leader giant, the “king.” She led him on a chase into a ravine and then from a ledge fired darts coated with sleep poison. Three darts took him down. The earth and trees with their heavy fruit shook as he fell with a satisfying thud.

Vandrae considered what spell she might used to slay him.

The pelt-cloaked shaman of the giants came at Vandrae, prepared with a spell of his own. She stood frozen with cool stillness, patiently watching to determine the nature of his spell. She wondered. Maybe he assumed she stood frozen in fear? If so, what a fool. As his spell became real, she countered his magic with a flick of her wrist and then tossed her dagger into his eye before he could regain his composure.

The shaman ran off screaming. She smiled. His eyes were the source of his magic.

Vandrae was alone in the jungle with the giant king’s body. Far off, her sisters whopped in triumph as they darted back to the village, though they had accomplished little against the giants, like generations of drow before them.

“I shall not kill you,” she explained to the sleeping giant king. “Go home to your tribe and let them see my mark.” She took the giant king’s prized sword and cap, and then gelded him.

As she retreated, four warrior giants happened to enter the clearing. She observed from the shadows as they looked over their king, first with concern, then wonder, and finally great belly laughs as their “king” awakened in groggy pain.

“I will come back for all of you,” she whispered.

Back at her village, her trophy garnered applause and envy. She took three fine consorts that night, but let only one among them, Malzicon, stay warm in her bed.

“Why don’t you spew vanities at me like the others?” she asked him with curiosity the next morning.

“Why insult you?” he replied with the faintest smile.

“You shall make a fine consort,” she told him. “Now come back tonight, and return with a story to amuse me.”

That he did, and while Vandrae was slightly disgusted at herself for picking a consort so quickly, she liked his company.

Later that month, Vandrae was crowned when the old queen gave up her last breath and died.

“But the prophecy, to defeat every giant, remains unfulfilled,” she told Malzicon. “I must hunt.”

In the darkness of the next new moon, she headed to the giants’ village. In a clearing before it, she happened upon four giants sleeping soundly. They were the four she had spied earlier. One by one, Vandrae went to them, stuck them with her poison to assure they slept, and then pilfered their prize possessions. Finally, she gelded each one of them.

“You laughed at your once-mighty king,” she explained to their unconscious forms. “Now who’s laughing!”

She entered the giant village and by magic began a fire. Soon the tribe was up. They were panicked and grabbing whatever they could to escape when their warriors failed to arrive.

Crows cawed, as if presiding over the giants’ ill fortune. Vandrae returned to the clearing just in time to witness the warrior giants awaken. She taunted them with their own severed parts as they groaned and flailed at her.

“You are penned animals,” she chided, with a wink to one.

After a while, she grew tired of bobbing around them and bounded off, quickly losing them amid a trail of thick darkness that wafted up behind her

Should she keep the trophies? she wondered. No, they were worth nothing to her. After she returned and showed the tribe the proof, she tossed the trophies to the animals to eat.

No drow in those parts saw a giant again for generations.

After Vandrae defeated the giants, the tribe celebrated her prowess and committed to her as queen. She was bored with them but said nothing, and retreated into her cabin with her consort Malzicon, who welcomed her quietly, opening his arms to her. To her surprise, she found herself relaxed with him, and realized she no longer even needed to claim she loved him. They were simpatico. Nor did he say, “I love you,” for such duty was no longer needed.

“I could be happy,” she found herself thinking one day as she practiced writing a law with the tribe’s blood pen.

A year later, on the anniversary of the giants’ defeat, she prepared a large celebratory fruit. She sliced into its soft flesh many times and shared it privately with Malzicon in a large porcelain bowl that an ancient queen had found in the nearby stone ruins. It was used only for special occasions. What Vandrae did not tell Malzicon was that beforehand she had drunk an antidote for poison now on the fruit. She smiled to him as they ate together with relish and shared a joke in relaxation.

He began choking and frothing at the mouth.

“Why have you done this?” he exclaimed in utter disbelief. So very rare is a drow flower of love.

“Because,” she said coolly. “It is one thing to look upon the face of pure love, as we have. It is a rarer trophy to see the look upon a true love betrayed. It is every drowess’s dream, the sugar sprinkled into the blood of victory.”

As he died, she tidied the cabin, considering whether to leave the village and find her fortune amid ruins to the north. Or she would take another consort who could give her a child.

Little did Vandrae know, someone had been watching her. The Goddess of Love would not abide this betrayal. Though Vandrae paid this goddess no heed, or even knew she existed, the goddess had been observing the rare flower born between Vandrae and Malzicon. The goddess was so horrified that she descended into Vandrae’s cabin.

“Who are you?” Vandrae demanded. She sensed the beautiful and strong woman in her home was no ordinary competition.

“I am appalled that you have discarded my gift so callously,” the goddess replied.

“It is the drow way,” Vandrae explained as a matter of fact, understanding that the woman meant Malzicon.

“And this is my way,” the goddess said with sadness. “For what you have done, Vandrae, you shall live alone, your soul sliced to ribbons for eternity.”

A white dove emerged from the goddess’s white robe. It looked about and cooed.

The dove flew to Vandrae and pecked her eyes out. She could not help but scream. From the bleeding sockets her dark naked soul leaked into the air, where the dove bit it to shreds.

The goddess, with a heavy heart and grim beauty, gathered Vandrae’s moaning remains and tossed them into an unknown place of eternal nothing.

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