Tira stopped at a booth that advertised jewelry. “Pardon me,” she told Tyrrae, “but I wanted to get something new for tonight. This booth just opened, or I would have stopped earlier.” She looked the stock. “You do know you will be questioned about your people, don’t you, Tyrrae?”
“Of course,” she replied. “That does not mean I have to reveal anything critical, or what we would consider critical. I won’t endanger them. I’d be killed on my return if I did so.”
“We would never kill one of our kind,” Tira said. She held a piece up to her face in the small mirror provided, to see how it looked with her coloring.
“How do you punish then? You cannot claim to be such a utopia that no one goes against your society?”
“No, I can’t claim that either. We are very social creatures, and we are very nature oriented. To harm us, remove one or the other. And the worst punishment is to be exiled completely. Most of us could not bear to live in one of the human cities.”
“You would not enjoy seeing my city either. Almost everything is stone.”
“I’ll take this one,” Tira told the shopkeeper. She tucked the gem into her pocket, and they continued on their way. “I like to be surrounded by living things and the warm light of the sun. I don’t think I’d like your city at all.”
“Here we are then!” Tira let Tyrrae to a seat reserved for her by the Loremaster. The two seats were surrounded by many elves of all ages gathered to listen. A few had something quiet to do with their hands such as spinning or carving, and one young man had gotten out ink and paper and apparently was choosing to make notes.
Tyrrae bowed to the crowd and then to the Loremaster before sitting down. He smiled his approval. “Every,” he said, “this is Tyrrae N’Tyl, Second of House D’Ner in the line of Tartulos. As this is the first time I have ever encountered one of the dark ones, I will be asking a few questions afterwards, and you will all get the opportunity to question me. But let me tell you the story as it was told to me by my grandfather and by his grandfather to him. No interruptions please.” He closed his eyes, and simply began to talk.
When the world was younger, the elves lived as one people throughout this continent. They were all beautiful people, living in harmony with the needs of the world and each other, and finding time to spread beauty by creating art in everything and everything as an art. We were ruled over by our King and Queen, and they were just and wise and fair. More elves lived in the central city than the surrounding land, but there were enough outside to trade food for other needful things and luxuries like books and fabrics. So the elves prospered for many generations. While this is a wonderful thing, it makes for terrible stories. So we must introduce a terrible thing, because this is what happened.
The Queen’s years sat lightly upon her, but she knew her own mortality. She knew her king deserved heirs and it would be her joy and her duty to present them, but as the years passed, she was unable to conceive his child. There are many spells that will interfere with conception that are commonly known, so the Queen made sure that she had used counterspells for as many as she could think of. She also consulted with the best physicians she could find. Alas, all to no avail. She despaired.
Despair opened the window to the Queen’s heart to allow the Evil in. For there were indeed several brothers of the king and cousins of the king and nephews of the king who might have easily borne the title after him, and deciding who in particular would have gone fairly and easily among the successors. It would not have caused a rift of fighting like it does among the humans or worse among the orcs.
But the Queen felt she had been given one great duty to accomplish with her life, and she had failed. So what was she to do? She could no longer pray to Ariel and Galathiel, for she had beseeched the Twin Gods many times with no answer. She researched further magics, but her skill was not as great as some, for all she was our Queen. In her desolation, she went for long walks by herself, even putting off any tender reproaches by her mate our King. Surely had their relationship been less strained by the burden of Rule, he may have been able yet to solace her and turn her from the path she now walked.
The weather suited her mood. It was moondark and on the edge of raining and very cold. Our Queen stumbled into some stone ruins she had not seen before. The Lore does not speak of life before elves, but surely there must be something. She found an opening and entered, as it began to rain outside. She made a light in the palm of her hand and it lit the way for her. She could hear scurrying sounds outside her circle of light, but did not know fear. Occasionally she would see small reflections, as if the eyes of an animal in the distance were reflecting her light back at her. This only reassured her. If animals were living here, they would not harm her.
The passage wound this way and that, but never a moment did she think of getting lost, for she saw no branching paths- just the one she was on. And there was only scurrying in front of her, never behind, so she did not feel chased. It was only when the passage way led into a large chamber did more lights spring to life around her, and she realized the chamber was filled with spiders, and in the center of the room was the biggest spider of them all.
Yet, she felt no fear.
“My Queen,” the spider spoke, “welcome to my parlor.”
With all the elven grace of royalty, she replied, “Hello.”
“My companions and I would offer you a deal, My Queen. We know of your troubled heart, and would offer solace to you.”
“My troubles? They are but few and unimportant.”
“They weigh on your soul and tear at the heart of your kingdom. Someone fetch Her Majesty a chair. We need to talk for a while, and I would rather she was more comfortable.”
The smaller spiders scurried about the chamber pulling bits of debris together and spinning them into a webbing that could hold her weight. It wasn’t until she was actually seated that she realized there were bones in the silk, and they did not look like animal bones.
“My children are very proficient, are they not? They can make almost anything with their silk. Do you like my children?”
“I have never had problems with spiders. Their webs in the morning dew are very beautiful. I have never killed one, and no spider has ever bitten me.” She remained calm.
“Of course. I have watched over you. Your greatest trouble is your inability to have children. I have many children. I can help you have children.”
“We shall make a deal, my Queen. You shall let me have one little thing, and I will give you the ability to have many children.”
Such was her desperation, she did not even ask what that one thing was. “I will do it,” she said.
The giant spider was on her instantly. It bit her left hand. The pain was so intense that she blacked out and knew no more.
When she came to herself, she was back in the palace gardens. She did not remember exactly what happened, and thought it just a bad dream. Her husband had found her. “My darling,” he exclaimed, and he rushed her to their suite calling physicians forward to aide in whatever was wrong. The physicians did find a strange black mark on her left hand, but that was all. However, it was likely that the Queen was indeed pregnant at last.
The Queen was very happy. She readied the nursery. The only thing that worried her was the blackness of her hand seemed to be increasing in size. And when the time came upon her, she was attended by many of her usual handmaidens.
Only instead of one perfect elven child to be heir to the throne, she produced dozens of little black half elven, half spider monsters. These rushed about the room biting all present. Some of them died immediately. Some of them had their skin change to black completely. Their shrieks attracted the notice of others in the palace, including the king himself. They ran to the rooms as well, only also to be bitten and marked with the blackness or killed.
We do not know if the king was killed that day or not. We did not keep the names of those who finally began casting levin bolts at the spiders and that wing of the palace. Eventually, however, there was so much magic flying about the palace that the entire wing fell into the earth. Survivors of the nobility elected to continue to build over the site to ensure that the Queen and her children never escaped. Others of the elves chose to lose contact with the elven city, fleeing to found villages elsewhere in the wilderness. The elves were scattered throughout the land, when once they were numerous and united.
And what did the Queen give for her children? It was indeed a very simple tiny thing that few think much about. It was only her name. No single elf can remember her name.