not_sinister: (necromancer)
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In the time between Eliathanis' death and Naitachal's return to the Bar, to find his friend there, the Dark Elven Bard went through many adventures, honing his skills as a bard and a necromancer both.

This snippet post is a quote from the second book in the series of four that Naitachal stars in.
It should give you a fairly good idea of what the Nitathil are like.

Similar to the drow, these Dark Elves may have different mannerisms and completely different views on music, ornamentation and many of the other pleasures of life... but they have an amazingly similar view of the surface world.. as something to raid and crush for their pleasure.

In The Realm Of Darkness

The cavern was dark and chill, far below the world's surface as it was, lit here and there with the dim, smokeless, sorcerous blue flames that were all the light the Dark Elves, the Nithathili, needed. No ornaments marred the smoothness of the stone walls, no noise marred the heavy quiet. Servants moved with silent, careful grace through the dimness like so many black-robed shadows. These were men and women of the lowest castes, coldly beautiful as their betters but expendable, subject to regal whim or sacrifice. They glanced warily at the regal figure slumped on the obsidian throne as they passed him, sensing the dark waves of his thoughts, not daring to disturb him, not daring to do anything at all that might rouse his interest in them.

Another had no such fears. Tanarchal strode boldly forward, black cloak swirling dramatically about him. He stopped at the proper Distance of Respect, which was technically just out of reach of thrown weapon or spell, and granted the enthroned figure the Ninefold Dignities bow, not quite showing respect, not quite showing contempt. "Greetings, my Lord Haralachan."

Haralachan, lord of the Nightblood Clan, was tall, ageless and elegant in a hard-edged, chill, predatory way, as all his kin. His skin was dark as his silky robes, his hair a startling mass of silver; his sharply slanted blue eyes, fully adapted to the darkness, glinted with reddish light. He did not stir at Tanarchal's greeting; to have straightened would have shown too much respect to this arrogant creature.

This ambitious creature, Haralachan thought. Walk warily, Tanarchal.

Tanarchal showed no such inclination. "My lord, I was wondering when you were planning to hold a new hunt."

"When it pleases me," Haralachan murmured.

"Ah, of course. But I—and I speak for many of the clan in this—I was wondering when one specific hunt would be held. A hunt for the traitor, for Naitachal."

Haralachan betrayed nothing of his inner start. 'That will come."

"But when, my lord? You are far too wise and cunning to let the traitor escape vengeance. Your kinsman," Tanarchal added delicately, "though he is."

Now Haralachan did straighten on his obsidian throne, casting chill waves of menace at the nobleman, seeing him flinch ever so slightly. "Vengeance will be taken," the Dark Elf lord said flatly. "Do you doubt me?'

"I? Not I, my lord." But the glint in the slanted eyes said otherwise, and Haralachan added coolly, "Do you not? Do you not, indeed?"

"My lord?"

Haralachan rose, drawing Power about him in a swirl of Darkness. "Do you challenge me, Tanarchal? Do you dare?"

He felt the other give way before the display of greater Power. "No, my lord," Tanarchal murmured, and it wasn't quite a snarl. "Of course not."

"Wise." Haralachan settled back in his throne. "Be assured that treason shall be punished. All treason, Tanarchal."

Tanarchal's bow of submission was perfect and precise. "Of course, my lord. I never did doubt it." But as he left, the nobleman added one final sally: "And may the day of vengeance come soon."

Haralachan slumped, losing himself in brooding once more, only vaguely aware of the wary servants. No, they were nothing, hardly worth a thought. Even Tanarchal was barely of importance; he could always meet with a quiet accident should the need arise, or be tricked into outright treason. It was the true traitor who held Haralachan's attention once more, the traitor Naitachal, he who had been of such a high caste that treason—particularly of such a disgusting, formerly unthinkable form—had seemed impossible. After all, had any Nithathil ever considered, even for the slightest moment of softness, turning from the Darkness that was his proper heritage?

There was worse than the existence of a traitor, Haralachan thought bitterly. As Tanarchal had so graciously reminded him, as many a Nithathili nobleman had been reminding him all along—as if he'd ever thought to forget—Naitachal was his clansman, his kinsman. To be kin to such a one was to come perilously close to weakness. While Tanarchal had, of course, not dared risk a challenge, knowing Haralachan to be so much the more Powerful, he'd issued a very clear warning: even the mightiest of lords could be overthrown were that treacherous kinsman not punished.

Always assuming, of course, that the traitor could actually be located and captured. In all the days since the betrayal of his people, not one trace of Naitachal had been found.

Haralachan straightened with a hiss. Enough of this useless brooding! "You."

His hand stabbed out at one servant. The chosen one froze in such wide-eyed, total terror that for a cruelly delicious moment the Dark Elf lord toyed with the thought of saving this one for the hunt.

No. Not yet.
First let the creature serve a more current use as messenger. "Bring Rualath to me."

No Nithathil trusted another; such a weakness as trust was the essence of stupidity. But of course as clan lord he had his consort: Rualath, chosen as much for her sorceries as for her caste—almost as high as his own—and her potential fertility, so important in a predominantly infertile race. Rualath specialized in strange, experimental magics. Sometimes they failed in most bizarre ways, but just as often those magics resulted in new, deliciously twisted forms of Power: Power which of course she shared with her lord in exchange for the political pride of place he deigned give her.

The servant cringed even further. "B-but, lord, your lady consort is in the midst of her sorceries...."

Aaah, yes, this one would make fine hunting prey. "I have given a command," Haralachan said with deceptive mildness. "Obey it."

Slumped on his obsidian throne, he watched with half-lidded, predatory eyes as the terrified servant scurried to obey.

The room was small and dank, further below the surface even than the audience cavern; the thin drafts of air that stole their way within smelled strongly of ancient rock and older sorceries. There were no furnishings save for heavy, unornamented chests full of sorcerous scrolls and artifacts, sealed tightly against damp and possible spies. The only light was cast by three dull red flames from candles of black wax set in a carefully spaced triangle on the bare stone floor.

Tall and coldly lovely, Rualath stood precisely in the center of the triangle, her dark skin and robes a darker mass in the dimness, her long, straight fall of silver hair tinged as red as her eyes by the candle flames; she smiled thinly in satisfaction. Before her, a book lay open to a page marked in convoluted sorcerous equations in her own handwriting, and a little ground squirrel squealed in terror in her hand as she stroked it absently.

Yes, and yes... the spell had all the ingredients it needed, or so her experiments had revealed so far, all the ingredients save one, and the small creature she held would provide that.
Rualath took a deep, steadying breath, cold blue eyes shutting for a moment as she focused her Power, then began her chant. The twisting, ugly syllables whispered and echoed through the chamber as the magic grew... grew. Without slowing her chant, she drew a knife of black obsidian, caught the squirrel in a firmer grip and—

"My lady! My lady Rualath!"

Her concentration shattered. The channelled magic spilled away and was lost. The squirrel twisted in her hand, sinking sharp little fangs into her thumb, and Rualath snarled in frustration, hurling the animal aside so hard it broke against a wall. She whirled on the servant, who sank to his knees in abject surrender.

"What? Speak, fool, or you take that beast's place now! What do you want?"

Head bent to the stone floor, not daring to so much as look up at her fury, the servant stammered out, "Th-the Lord Haralachan bids you c-come to him."

Rualath glanced about her sorcery room impatiently. That he should call her now, when he knew she was in the midst of her experiments, and call her as if she was some erring subject! And yet, and yet... was this, she wondered warily, a trap? Rualath never considered that he might have tired of her; there had never been anything like the soft stupidity of love (she thought the word with distaste) between them. No, no, just as Haralachan needed her sorceries, so much greater in their way than his own, so he had his uses. Power, Rualath thought, and for once didn't mean sorcerous strength.

Ah well. Haralachan's summons was inconvenient at best and a marginal insult at worst, but she would answer his summons for the sake of that power. With a glance at the shuddering servant to fix his face in her mind for future use (how much stronger the life force of even such an inferior Nithathil than a mere animal), Rualath swept from the chamber, which neatly locked and sealed itself away as she left. The corridors of the Nightblood Clan realm were as blank of any wasteful ornamentation as the audience cavern, barely lighted since any who belonged here knew every trap and every safe way. Any who did not—such fools never regretted their mistakes for long.

Rualath entered the audience cavern with every sorcerous sense alert.

There sat Haralachan on his black throne. Her own throne, ever so slightly smaller, stood empty beside it. As Rualath entered, feeling his wary sorcery sweeping over her, hunting for spells, weapons—even as she, equally wary, was doing the same to him—he gestured to her to sit. So. He had no intention of replacing her. If he had, another would have already held that seat. Rualath sank with conscious grace to die smooth, cold hardness of the obsidian, smoothing her skirts about her slender form. "What troubles you, my lord?"

"Thoughts of a traitor."

"Ah?"

"One particular traitor." Haralachan paused deliberately, then continued, "One who is-—was—of our clan, our caste."

"So... Naitachal."

"Naitachal."

Rualath smiled without humor. The nobles have been after you again, my lord, have they? "A waste, that. He had shown signs of being one of the mightiest Necromancers our clan had ever known."

Haralachan glared at her, eyes like blue ice. "More than a waste! Do you not realize what his loss means to us? With all that Power at his call, he willfully betrayed us, his blood-kin, his people! He deprived us of that Power and the chance to use it against the humans and those soft, light-loving White Elves."

"Yes. There is that, of course." Rualath winced delicately in distaste. "Why did he do it?" she wondered softly. "What appeal could the weak, garish light possibly hold for him? And this... music." She used the human word, since the Dark Elves had no word for something that was unknown to them; they alone of all the elven folk had no music. "How could he take pleasure, and to such an unseemly extent, in—in mere sound?'

"You wander from the track." Haralachan's voice was chill. "He betrayed us. He stole Power from us. He turned from his clan and honor to the soft, foolish forces of light—and by all the Ways of Darkness, we must see that he pays for his treason."

"Oh, indeed. But how?" Rualath paused, considering. "Naitachal is skilled enough in magic to have kept us from tracking his aura all this while, and by now it has become hopelessly entangled with that of the humans with whom he consorts."

"That," Haralachan said coldly, "is your concern. Your sorceries are stronger than his." He glanced her way, elegant silver brow raised. "They are, are they not?"

Rualath met that suddenly speculative glance with a firm, chilly stare. "Of course they are. What would you have me do?"

"Snare him, bring him to us, I care not how. Only do it."

Oh, so easily said, my dear lord, Rualath told him silently. As if you didn't know I have already tried, and failed, to catch the traitor. Yes, my lord, snap your fingers and watch the trained animal run through its paces. If I did not need you, my lord...

But she did, for now. The nobles would follow Haralachan till they found some weakness in him. And neither they nor she had found that weakness yet, so: "I accept the challenge, my lord," Rualath said, carefully putting into her voice not the servant's humility but the hunter's eagerness. "I shall bring Naitachal before you."

Oh, yes. I shall. Somehow.
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