29. Why Did You Come Here?

By the time he senses the Drow approaching, Inglorion has composed himself, so they don’t find him in hysterics, rocking with mingled, silent laughter and tears.

Two female scouts emerge into the cavern: small, grim, brisk. They blaze white-hot against the cool background of water and stone.

“You’re Inglorion Fabius?” one asks. She speaks in High Elvish, with a slight accent.

“Yes.”

“We’ll have to take you into custody.”

He extends his wrists to be bound. “Excellent,” he says. “That’s why I came.”

They bind his wrists and hustle him down a series of corridors until they reach a tiny cell — really just a pocket in the rock. They leave him sitting there for an hour or so, uncomfortably hunched on a stone bench, unable to stand for fear of whacking his head against the ceiling. A female Drow of indeterminate age opens the cell door and takes him to a slightly larger room furnished with two stone benches and nothing else. She takes a seat on one, so he perches on the other. Her face is impassive, cold. He’s surprised at how well he can make out her features and expression in total darkness. 

“I’m Clytemnestra,” she says. “I’m going to ask you a few questions. What is your full name?”

“Inglorion Fabius. No family name.”

“What’s your tribal affiliation?”

“Pardon me?”

“What tribe do you belong to?”

“I don’t know how to answer that. I was raised among gray elves.”

“We’ll get to that. So you have no tribal affiliation?”

“I believe my mother is Theates.”

“Why did you come here?”

“As I say, I believe I’m affiliated with the Theates tribe through my mother, Philomela.”

“How did you find the cave entrance?”

“I had a guide, Krysztof, King of the Gypsies.”

“What is your relationship to the guide?”

“I employed him once before, 30 years ago, to smuggle my sister and myself out of Liamelia and across the North Mountains. At that time, he recalled my mother. He told me her name, and that she was from the Theates tribe.”

“Why did you come here?”

He pauses, frowns. He has no rational explanation. Suddenly it seems strange that she’s not taking any notes. “I had a vision.”

“Have you taken any religious oaths?”

“I was sworn to Corellon Larithian when I was 22.”

“Have you kept your oath?”

“I think so, yes. I’ve been both observant and devout.”

“What is your profession?”

“I’m a mercenary fighter.”

“Why did you come here?”

“I had a vision.”

“Who sent you?”

“No one. I came on my own.” She waits, seems to expect him to elaborate on his answer. “I’m illegitimate, an outcast from my city and family.”

“Where were you born?”

“In Liamelia.” Then, when she seems to be waiting for more, “I was removed to an orphanage soon after my birth.”

“Why did you come here?”

The interrogation continues along these lines for a long time. She seems to be pursuing some kind of logic, though Inglorion cannot be certain what it is. He answers honestly and factually. He can’t tell if his answers are good or bad, if she’s pleased or skeptical. Indeed, he’s not sure what her purpose is. The questions are repetitive, insistent, simple. Her demeanor is calm, even indifferent. It’s as if she’s filling out the same simple form over and over. 

Finally he says, “Why are you asking me these questions?”

“I’m gathering information.”

“To what end?”

“So that we can build a full, accurate record. Why did you come here?”

“I had a vision. What are you going to do with me?”

She pauses briefly, gives him a hard look. “Why did you come here?”

“I asked first.”

“What we do with you will depend on your purpose. Why did you come here?”

“I’m half-gray and half-Drow. I can’t live among gray elves anymore.” 

“What would prevent you from living among them?”

“I have no family name, no citizenship. I can’t attend a university or join the army or be ordained a priest or marry or own property.”

“What clan did you belong to among the gray elves?”

“I told you already. I’m illegitimate. My birth was never recognized.”

She knits her brow. “You’ll have to explain those terms.”

“My father did not acknowledge that I’d been born, that I was his son and belonged to the Shelawn family. I was placed in an orphanage, then raised as a servant. I have no memory of my mother, no family, no clan.”

“Were you banished from the city?”

“No. I was never a citizen. Banishment consists of being stripped of citizenship and the right of residence.”

“Why did you come here?”

“I’m already dead.”

“You’re already dead?” She says it flatly, as if she’s confirming the spelling of his name. 

“Yes. I’m already dead.”

“I see.” There’s a brief pause, as if she’s running through a checklist for completeness. “I will take you to Her Grace, Philomela Procne Arachne, Duchess Theates. When you are presented to the Duchess, you will address her as ‘Your Grace,’ and refer to her as Duchess Theates. At no time will you look her in the face or meet her gaze. Your eyes will be lowered at all times. This is very important. You will wait to be addressed, and answer any questions briefly, fully and factually. Fabrications and omissions are unacceptable. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say you don’t know. Do not question Her Grace. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Repeat the instructions I just gave you.”

He does.

“Correct. I will take you to Her Grace now.”

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