Dark Elven Society
Dark Elven Society
Aitha – The Marked Ones
When a drow woman gives birth to her third son she must make a choice: sacrifice the child or spare his life and sever all ties with him. Those male children spared from death become slaves known as Aitha.
When an Aitha reaches about ten years of age he is given a mark that signifies his slave status. Prior to this, Aitha are typically “raised” by impoverished nannies in buildings of squalor near the market place. While each dark elf House marks their Aitha a bit differently, the marks are always conspicuous and on the face. They are most commonly tattoos or horrific scars over one eye. Aitha are typically sold to a drow household and given the same last name as their masters shortly after being marked. To prevent Aitha from being sold to their biological families each drow House keeps a detailed record of which family each Aitha was born to. The captain of the city guard is usually the one tasked with monitoring and protecting these records.
Being an Aitha means you are at the very bottom rung of drow society. Any drow woman and non-Aitha man can do whatever they please to an Aitha with out repercussions from the law. This includes torture, murder, and rape. To the drow a dead Aitha and a living Aitha are one in the same. The only escape from this caste is through death.
Aitha fulfill many roles in drow society ranging from child caregivers to cooks, house keepers to concubines, and even warriors. Soldiers on the front lines of any drow army are always Aitha, as well as fighters off on suicide missions or any other risky maneuver likely to result in many casualties. Aitha born with magical abilities are often sought after by members of the nobility. They are trained to harness their talents and later turn into personal guards or weapons for their masters. However, training these Aitha is a double-edged sword. If educated too much they posses the knowledge, power, and means to escape.
While many drow use Aitha for sex, Aitha are forbidden from having children with anyone. This is due to the drow believing that Aitha are cursed to father only sons and never daughters since all of them were born the doomed “third sons”. This is typically not a problem for most drow women who, provided they have the coin, have full access to a variety of birth control methods and abortion. If a child born is suspected to have an Aitha father both parents and the child are immediately killed.
The sole exception to this rule are the Aitha in House Neverlight, who under orders from their masters, are allowed to have Morcala children with Cala’di from House Blackhelm. The Neverlights consider this acceptable only because their Aitha are fathering children with lowly high elves not other drow. It wouldn’t matter if their Aitha fathered only Morcala sons because they would all be born into slavery. Their Aitha are only allowed to father children with Cala’di from House Blackhelm. If an Aitha is found to have had a child with a Cala’di from Brightwood, or a Taurel’di both parents are severely punished. Unlike in cases with free drow women, it is rare for the punishments to be to the point of death for either parent. Instead the mother would be forced to abort her child, or if the child has been born, only the child is killed.
Inyol – Female Indentured Servants
Inyol are women who sold themselves into indentured servitude to the Matron herself or other members of the nobility who had advanced the cost of some expensive favor. The vast majority, if not all, of the Inyol are impoverished women who had no other means to pay for what ever service the noble agreed to in their contract. Some of the common services provided are abortions (usually to get rid of the unwanted and unplanned child of an Aitha), life saving medical treatments for themselves or loved ones, apprenticeships, or to wipe their record of some petty crime. Their indenture, or contract, binds them to fifteen years of labor on average.
Inyol tend to be treated better or worse depending on the reasons they became one. A woman seeking an apprenticeship will have an easier time than an Inyol paying off an abortion.
If an Inyol dies before her contract is up her family is bound to pay off the rest of her debt. Typically another woman in her family takes her place as an Inyol, or if there is no other women one of the men is thrown into prison for the remainder of her indenture. If an Inyol dies and she has no surviving family members her contract is void. For those Inyol who went for the medical treatment of a family member, and that family member dies even with treatment, they still have to pay off the cost of treating them.
As contracted servants Inyol are the lowest ranked women with in drow society, barely above the status of a slave. Outside the homes of their masters they are, for the most part, free women. Inside the homes of the families they are indentured to, however, is a whole different story. It is completely with in the legal right of their masters to beat and rape them. Inyol are the only women with in drow society that can legally have this happen to them as long as the perpetrator is a member of the master’s family. Murdering an Inyol is still illegal like murdering any other free woman.
A number of factors can extend a woman’s time as an Inyol. The most common one is because she ran away. For each day she is missing, another week is added to her indenture. It’s not uncommon for an Inyol to be further punished with a public whipping once found and returned to her owners. Another factor is becoming pregnant in the midst of her indenture. Usually more time is added on regardless if she chooses to continue or terminate the pregnancy. The only way an Inyol can get pregnant and not extend her contract is if she scrounges up the money to pay for an abortion. If she keeps the child, he or she remains with the Inyol until they are five years of age, then handed over to the Inyol’s family. If the Inyol has no other family, or her contract is up before the child reaches that age, the child remains with her for the duration of her indenture.
The Patron & The Circle of Consorts
Each drow Matron has a small number of about four or five men whom she has children with, although they are not the only people the Matron has sex with. These men are known as the Circle of Consorts. Although high and wood elf Matrons often have multiple romantic partners as well, the Circle of Consorts is a term exclusively used by the drow. To ensure the parenthood of her children, each year the Matron chooses one of the consorts with whom she desires to have a child with.
The Matron also chooses one of these consorts to be her Patron. Being crowned Patron is the highest ranked position a male can achieve in drow society. While he can never rule a drow House were the Matron to die, he is still highly respected by drow commoners. The Matron can revoke her Patron’s status at any time. Since the Patron is usually her favorite lover this is an uncommon practice and happens only if he committed a grave offense against the Matron or the Patron died.
There is a species of spider known as Shadow-Venom spiders. They are common in the Underdark and are about the size of a gold piece. The Shadow-Venom has a bite well-known for being very painful but never lethal, even if a person is bitten many times. A single bite is roughly equivalent to being stung by a bullet ant. The drow’s preferred method of execution is to enchant these spiders, giving them a deadly bite.
The unfortunate prisoner is locked inside a pit full of the enchanted spiders. Death is usually slow and excruciatingly painful. After the passage of three full days the pit is re-opened. The prisoner’s body is carefully fished out of the pit and disposed of, usually thrown off a nearby cliff side.
Long ago a drow woman was executed for fatally poisoning her Matron. When guards retrieved the prisoner’s body from the spider pit they noticed the lower half of her body was cocooned in thick spider silk. Thinking nothing of it, the guards threw the body off the nearest cliff as normal. But a week later the supposedly dead prisoner climbed back up the cliff and returned to her House as the first drider. She spoke of dying in the pit, and later waking up alone and transformed at the bottom of the cliff. Both impressed and frightened by her tale, her House forgave her of her crime instead of re-executing her. This legend echoes the stories of the driders who would come after her.
Driders are creatures both revered and feared in drow society. The dark elves believe that because the drider proved themselves powerful enough to survive an execution, they are pardoned of all previous crimes. A murderer walks away with a clean slate. An Inyol’s indenture is no more. Even an Aitha is now a free man. To prevent Aitha from breaking into the spider pit in a desperate attempt to become driders these pits are magically locked up and heavily guarded.
An outsider might assume that by becoming a drider an Aitha escaped his caste through means other than death. However, a drow’s body enters a state indistinguishable from death while transforming into a drider. The rate of transformation varies slightly. Some complete the transformation with in the first three days, while others take a week or more. On occasion a dead prisoner with no outward signs of transformation returns to their House a month later. Prisoners who have not yet completed transformation in the first three days but show signs of transformation are returned to their prison cells until their transformation is complete.
It is rare for a drow to become a drider. Only about one in fifty executions result in the creation of one. It is unknown if other races can become driders as well due to the drow using spider pits exclusively to execute their own kind. The exact reasons why some drow become driders and others don’t is also unknown, but it is believed that the creation of driders has something to do with the magic used to enchant the spiders.
Cala’di – Enslaved High Elves
In the aftermath of a nasty battle amidst the second war between House Blackhelm and House Neverlight, the Neverlights captured six hundred and fifty soldiers from Blackhelm, Brightwood, and Twinbrook. Two thirds of the captured were high elf warriors who all became a new caste of slaves with in Neverlight, referred to as the Cala’di, literally meaning “high elf slaves”.
While most Cala’di have a higher monetary value than the average Aitha due to their fewer numbers, they are treated a bit worse than the Aitha are. This is because the drow hold their own people at a higher social rank than the Cala’di and any other group of non-drow slaves. Cala’di in House Neverlight born with the blindness are treated in a similar manner to an Aitha born with magical abilities, unlike the drow boys who are spared from slavery if born blind. They remain enslaved and are typically purchased by a noble family who trains them from childhood to become a personal guard for one of the nobles.
Like the Aitha, it is common for the Neverlights to use and abuse their Cala’di for sex. The Neverlights often force two or more Cala’di, a Cala’di and a Taurel’di, or an Aitha and a Cala’di to have sex with each other, usually while their master watches. Many times the drow do this to breed particular slaves they believe will produce profitable offspring. Most of the time the drow don’t care too much if Cala’di have sex or bear children either with each other or the Taurel’di. Officially, the Cala’di are forbidden to have sex with Aitha if they don’t have their master’s say so. In reality, the Neverlights mostly don’t pay attention to what the Aitha and Cala’di do with each other sexually either. Their masters only start to get involved if an Aitha impregnates a female Cala’di with out a prior order to from their master, especially if that Cala’di was from Brightwood and not from Blackhelm.
The Cala’di were a slave caste unique to the Neverlights until House Thornfang began adopting the term after ransacking and enslaving thousands of elves from House Starglass during the Sacred War. It is currently unclear what exactly the Thornfangs plan to do with all of them, including whether or not their Cala’di would allowed to reproduce with anybody other than other Cala’di.
Morcala is a derogatory term that refers to all elves with a mixture of Blackhelm and Aitha ancestry. With this in mind the descendants of the freed Aitha from the Aitha rebellion—including Blackhelm’s Matron bloodline—are all considered Morcala as well. Those who’s drow father or ancestor was not an Aitha, or who’s high elf mother or ancestor was not from Blackhelm would not be referred to as Morcala.
Every Morcala in House Neverlight is both born into slavery and can never be a free individual with in that House. The Morcala are treated about the same as their Cala’di mothers, if not a slight bit worse. If an Aitha is considered lowly filth with in drow society than a Morcala is even farther below that level of worthlessness. Morcala born with the blindness would be treated in the same manner as their Cala’di counterparts. Although the Morcala have easily identifiable physical differences that indicate they are not full blooded drow, they are marked in a similar manner as the Aitha as a way to differentiate them from non-Morcala half drow.
The majority of Neverlight’s Aitha aren’t really disgusted by existence of Morcala. Usually it is only the Aitha owned by nobility—particularly sorcerer Aitha who are guardians to their masters—who dislike the Morcala and do not wish to have any Morcala children if they can help it. Aitha and free drow alike outside of Neverlight are horrified and baffled that the Neverlights have allowed their Aitha to father Morcala. To the drow outside Neverlight the Morcala are abominations that should not even exist. House Neverlight once held that same stance regarding the Morcala, but that has changed since their acquirement of the Cala’di. The Neverlights say they are only perpetuating what House Blackhelm had initially begun.
Morcala is a term primarily known only with in elven society, although some non-elven people are aware of the term. It is unwise for any surface dweller to refer to a member of House Blackhelm as a Morcala.
Non-Morcala Half Drow
There are other half drow in the world who are not Morcala. Most of these half drow live in Neverlight, with a small number scattered through out the other drow Houses. Some of these half drow live their lives as free people, while others have been slaves since birth.
The free or slave status of a non-Morcala half drow is primarily determined by the status of their mother. Half drow children born to drow women are always born free, even if that child’s father was a Cala’di or Taurel’di. If the half drow’s mother is a Cala’di or Taurel’di that child is born into slavery unless the child’s drow father intervenes. A free drow man has the power to free his child from slavery if he so chooses. He has only one opportunity to do so, and once he has chosen whether or not to free the child he cannot go back on that choice.
Taurel’di – Enslaved Wood Elves
A couple hundred soldiers from House Twinbrook were among the six hundred and fifty captured during the second war between House Blackhelm and House Neverlight. Those wood elves became a second new slave caste found solely in Neverlight: the Taurel’di.
Taurel’di born with the blindness of House Neverlight are treated in the same way as the Cala’di. They are typically sold to nobility and trained to become personal guards.
Like the Cala’di and the Aitha, the Taurel’di are often forced into sexual relations with their masters or other slaves.