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THE GENESIS OF THE DROW

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For d20 drow with very different myths, check out my book, Drow of Porphyra!

In the beginning, there were the gods. The Seldarine1 were kindred spirits and they kept close to one another, as other gods did not. The king of the Seldarine was Corellon Larethian, and their queen was Araushnee. They were held as one in esteem and the Seldarine shared in their power.

Araushnee was the patron diety of fate and through her mind flowed the fickle currents of destiny. In her boredom of the other gods, she began to spend more time following the flow of possibilities. In an instant, she had a vision. In that vision she saw a race of beings upon Toril. She saw their delicately shaped limbs and ears, unlike any that were to be found in the beasts of earliest creation. In their eyes she saw intelligence like unto the gods, and yet they followed the scents of their prey like the beasts they slaughtered. They slid through the darkness with god-given grace and were more beautiful than any other race of the land. They were made of a mixture of clay, divine blood, and a spark of divine will. They called out to her in praise, in a language she had heard before as if in a dream. The name they revered with passionate emotion belonged to her, but was not Araushnee. As they raised their voices to her she felt a surge of power, the first surge of energy she had ever felt from the land so far from her realm.

Araushnee grew excited by her find and very much wanted the beings to be made. She prepared what she would say very carefully, and then entered the presence of Corellon. She told him about her vision, artfully leaving out details, but filling the gaps with other things she noticed. She told him about how they looked, how they sounded, and about their intelligence. She told him that through them, great things could be made on Toril. The Seldarine could guide them and teach them. Her enthusiasm was so great that Corellon was given pause. He told his wife that he would consider her request carefully, and that he would visit Toril.

In agony she waited for his answer. She knew she had tempted him. She did not want to expend the energy to create them on her own, and if Corellon agreed, the beings would be welcomed by all of the Seldarine.

Araushnee received a summons to walk upon Toril. There she was met by the sight of all of the Seldarine, congregated at the edge of a forest. Out of the trees strode Corellon, and behind him she saw things moving. They had long ears, limbs and fingers. They were lightly colored of flesh and eye. They proceeded owlishly into the light and looked upon their gods. Corellon introduced them as his creations, the children of his inspiration. He said that he had given them speed, mercy, love and light. Only so much had he given them, so that they would respect the abilities of the animals around them. He made them to flower and fade, but to live long. They were received with joy and awe by all save Araushnee. That moment was the first in which she knew anger, indignation, and jealousy. Yet she could speak no word against Corellon, and what proof had she that such beings were originally of her design?

She turned a smile upon them but did not touch them, for fear of destroying them in her hands.

Araushnee went away from the other gods. The children of Corellon were wrong. They were weak, and the beings she had seen radiated strength. They were light-skinned, and the beings she had seen were dark. Corellon had corrupted her design and stolen all of the glory for himself. It was beyond unacceptable. It was maddening.

She stalked the children of Corellon on Toril, watching how the Seldarine fawned over them. She watched Corellon teach them the ways of the woods. She followed as she thought of a fitting revenge, and she learned the weaknesses of her prey.

From the depths of the earth she gathered the darkest clay and stone shot through with gems. These she melded with her own blood and placed within her womb, and the number of figures thus made has traditionally been eight. She carried them as a secret within her, and they felt her anger and hate as she watched the children of Corellon. They were infused with her essence from within and without and were delivered in the bowels of Toril. Araushnee groomed her children and took them to the surface only in secrecy. It was not until all of the Seldarine were gathered together that she led her creations among them.

She said that she had made brothers and sisters for the creations of Corellon, as she was shown to do in a vision. She made no mention of Corellon's betrayal. Araushnee showed her children for all of their fine attributes and Corellon deemed that they looked a good deal like her. He welcomed them with warm words and proclaimed that Araushnee would watch over their trials on Toril. The Seldarine welcomed the dark children, and the children of Corellon milled about them.

Araushnee's children did not tarry with the children of Corellon. They ventured out on their own to test their skills and sharpen their minds, as their mother commanded. It was then that they discovered their mother's hidden gift: though they could bleed, they were immortal.

As the dark elves schemed on Toril, so their mother made plans in the realm of the Seldarine. She met clandestinely with the gods of the monstrous races. She swayed them with bloody words that promised them victorious battle. She enticed them with images of the soft Seldarine goddesses yielding beneath them and the children of Corellon becoming their slaves. She told them when and where to show themselves. She devised a way to weaken Corellon and make him vulnerable, but she would not divulge the details to her allies.

Araushnee, through her allies, armed her dark children. They had multiplied while she made her plans, though they numbered less than the children of Corellon. They had befriended the spiders of their dark homes and wore silk in their clothes and hair. Araushnee examined the spiders and came to know them. She let them crawl about on her and she fed them on her blood. It is said that the aranea and other spiderfolk came about during this time, though none know for certain. Araushnee made an army of spiders and sent them to her allies, to be brought forth when the time was right.

Out of sweetness, Araushnee struck against the Seldarine. She betrayed Corellon and let loose the monstrous gods against him. She unleashed her spiders to bind and slow the Seldarine, as well as to frighten them, for she had taken the spiders from Toril and warped them beyond reckoning. On Toril, the dark elves struck out at the children of Corellon, only to find the weak ones to be strong. The dark elves rent the homes of Corellon's get asunder and burned their great works to the ground. The children of Corellon held their ground, however, and the stalemate was unbearable to both sides.

The allies of Araushnee fell upon each other as they fell upon the Seldarine, and so they were beaten. Araushnee's spiders were consumed by flame or chased down. It took the combined strength of the Seldarine to cast Araushnee down, but in their rage, they did so. Corellon saw the destruction rent on Toril and was bitter that Araushnee had instigated so much against him. Yet he could not kill her, or bear to order the Seldarine to try.

Instead, Corellon condemned Araushnee to take her spiders and her children and flee. He cast her out and away from the Seldarine. From her children on Toril he removed the gift of immortality, so that they might know the gravity of their actions. He decreed that the name Araushnee would to be unheard and unspoken by any in is realm. His son by Araushnee, Vhaeraun, had conspired with his mother and so was condemned to flee with her. But his daughter Eilistreaee, Corellon wanted to hold to himself, for he saw the depth of her innocence. Yet she begged him to condemn her as well, so that she might offer a hidden light in her mother's darkness. She did not hate the created children of her mother - indeed, she pitied them, for they had no hope of defending themselves against their mother. Corellon took heart at her strength and cast her out, but only because she begged him.

In the Underdark to which they fled, the dark elves called to their goddess. By their sharpness alone did they keep clear of the threats of the deep. They were not accustomed to darkness so complete and they called to her for sight. They had developed their own tongue and Araushnee heard their calls in the midst of her delirium.

She went among them in the dark, and she asked them: "What is it that you have called me? What name did you cry?"

The dark elves shuddered in the moist abyss.

"We have named you away from the others, for ourselves," spoke one. "We are your children."

"The name," she demanded.

"Lolth, oh high one," spoke the same troubled voice.

And there was laughter then, laughter that echoed through the Underdark and to the surface to chill all who heard it.

"Yes," she laughed, "yes! And what do you call yourselves?"

"We say that we are yours, Mother, your children," answered another elf.

Terrible sounds issued in the dark, and Lolth fell upon the speaker. She tore at his flesh and tasted his blood and somehow his death soothed her.

"I am impatient," she said. "Have you devised a name? I hear no females! Have you nothing to say?"

"We are the drow, mighty Mother," came a woman's voice. "We who worship you most in secret have named ourselves so."

The mad mother screamed as the sounds replayed in her mind. She had indeed forseen them. Had her fight been doomed, then? She tore away from them and left them to the darkness, seeking answers in the streams of fate. But the ultimate answer eluded her, and her rage swept her, out of control, through the courseways of possibility. Weakened by battle with the Seldarine, Lolth could not escape. She reached out for anything upon which to still herself but could find no purchase. The streams converged into one another, forming a glistening web. She tore at the strands and raced over it in the fashion of her spider friends, taking on their shape. She sought to find and kill the weaver, to destroy fate altogether. She tore at the web until it disintegrated, and she fell into the depths.

It was not until much later that she emerged from her own madness. She went back to the drow and assured them that she had not fallen. She hailed their blood and showed them how to pierce the thick shadows with their gaze. She called upon the spiders of the deep to bring her children food, and in webbing, their storehouse was made full. She forbade the name of Araushnee to be spoken; she would be called nothing except for Lolth, Queen of Spiders, Mother of Darkness and Champion of Misery. She gave knowledge to the drow and dared them to survive in their new land. In surviving, they would be rewarded by her favor. In dying, they would be at the mercy of her unending displeasure.

So it was that the drow came to be, and the destiny of Lolth unfolded.

 

1 The Seldarine refers to the pantheon of the elven gods of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. Return to the top of the page.

 
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