The darkness filled the air in front of him, Dhumbre’s vision holding the void in front of him, odd sounds echoing around him. He lay injured, blood slowly oozing from wounds all over his body, propped against the cold smooth stone in some passage way. Popping to alert, a scuffling noise causing him to alertly reach for his weapon, he tried to pierce the veil of darkness and was unable to see anything. A soft hand touched his arm, not alarming but smoothing, a hand he knew well and belonging to one of few he trusted. “It’s alright, It is only me” Ophelia’s voice, lilting and melodic, softly whispered in his ear.
Ophelia slid into a position next to him, and though he could not see, he knew she was injured as bad or even worse than he. Yet, her movements were still smooth and sleek, that of a huntress, the essence of silence purveyed in her form. His huge dark skinned hand reached up to find her face, his rough calloused fingers cupping her chin delicately, trying to stare where he believed her eyes to be. Although Dhumbre was practically blind, Ophelia’s innate Drow abilities allowed her to stare into his searching eyes, grateful for his presence, and cherishing his strong hand against her face. “Please, you are too injured to go scouting again, we must rest, and regain our strength.” His voice, gruff, but full of care and love.
“I cannot stay here while Imani is in the hands of those filth.” Ophelia sighed, “And, I am the only one between the two of us who can see and still search.”
Chuckling, Dhumbre smiled, his large usually stern dark face was instead slightly mirthful. “You have always been good at reminding me of my downfalls.” He said, his face once again shifting into a more serious stature. “and you know as much as anybody, that I will die if I have to trying to find Imani. She is our God-Empress, and more importantly to me, she is my niece. But, neither of us will do her any good if we cannot fight or attempt to rescue her when we find her.”
Ophelia, stared at the wild barbarian human, admiring his resolve. He was from the jungles of the eastern Odyre Dynasty, his people were from the tribal Gyhalli, whom had only accepted rule from the dynasty over 100 years prior. When the last God-Empress had died, the spirit of Odyre had been freed, and eventually found Imani, and for the first time a Gyhalli human had been crowned God-Empress. As her uncle, and the best and strongest warrior of his people, he had become the first of her Handmaidens, and had travelled with Imani to the seat of power in Odyressa. Ophelia, having been the only full blooded Drow to go through the secret assassin’s training of the Dusk Blades and being of the prominent Waeglorzza clan, was soon sought out to be the Handmaiden from the Odyressa nation. It was in the throne room during the secret bonding ceremony that she had first met Dhumbre, her racial bias and family based snobbery caused her to look down on the wild human. But, as they worked together a mutual respect started to grow, which had later ignited into something else. Now, she loved this human. She had been married before, almost 17 years prior. Her husband then was, as her family had saw it, the proper choice. He was a Drow sorcerer of great renown and from an equally prestigious family. He was also hot headed and foolhardy, one who had cared more for adventure and fame, and not for the trappings of society. He had met a gruesome end while adventuring in some far off province, but only after she had fallen pregnant with his daughter. Ophelia had gotten the best out of that marriage of convenience and prestige, having given birth to Solendiira, but found quickly that her daughter shared more in common with her foolhardy and recently dead father, and none of the dedication and common sense of her mother. But now, Ophelia, was again in love, with a human. She used to scoff and whisper in the corners when her brother Odistlo was seen with a human woman, and had been outright disgusted when her brother’s union had created an abomination half-breed. She sided with the eldest brother Rannaran and the rest of the family, and Odistlo’s daughter had been shipped off to be a slave to the Dust Blades, and Odistlo had been relocated to a minor role in the family, little more than a servant.
Now, her chin being held firmly by this big and wild human, she realized her past mistakes. She realized the love she had denied her own brother. She saw past the mixed race of Tyna, and saw the warrior that that child had become. Having served this human Empress, and having served next to Dhumbre, she had realized that her mind had been truly blinded by false social rules. The façade hade truly been broken, when her oldest brother, Rannaran, had betrayed his empire, and had sought the dissolution of everything she love, out of a misguided need to gain power for their family name.
At that moment, in the dark recesses of an ancient temple, hidden behind a secret wall she had found, she sat with the man she truly loved. Both were injured, having taken many wounds chasing the vile betrayers as they kidnapped the God-Empress. They had managed to reach the portal mirror right in time, only to be showered by flames and shards of glass as some magic destroyed the mirror. Faced against over a dozen more assaulters, they fought side by side, until they finally downed the last one, to find themselves bleeding and wounded in an unknown temple and in an unknown land. Worse, they could hear more soldiers and other unknowable things in the halls all around them. So, Ophelia had found a secret door, that had led to this small, but well-hidden room. Both Handmaidens sat silently, Ophelia staring in the still searching eyes of Dhumbre, she reached and placed her delicate ebony hand on his check before leaning forward to kiss him. “Let us rest and catch our breath.” She said, delicately, “and then we will find your niece, our Empress, and exact revenge upon those who took her.”