A Human talks to a Dark Elf
Transcript from the conversations with Enik the dark elf. Note that these conversations took place in the Elven tongue, rather than the language in which they are printed. They have been carefully translated by linguists to give this translation. We find the Dark Elf’s dialect to be very colorful and expressive. In many ways it is unlike the Elvin we hear more frequently.
Jakopul: Hello again Enik, we’d like to talk to you about why you chose to come here from deep below. I know it wasn’t an easy journey, and it seems to have worn on you. Let me also apologize for the chains. Once we’ve established a few things, I’ll make sure to have them removed.
Enik: Even as you say, human, I sit before you in chains. I came here because males in my society have no worth. We are, at best, second-class citizens in our own lands. More of us, however, are openly claimed as slaves. I chose to leave that society, thinking that I might make it all the way to Mourning and see if I could strike out some kind of life among my surface great-cousins.
Jokopul: You are aware, Enik, that the usual reaction among your surface cousins is to strike down the Drow in the streets without killing her—or in your case, him, and take his form to the dungeons of the academy for a questioning more uncomfortable than this, right?
Enik: I have been of two minds about that. On the one hand, that has been repeated to me several times. On the other, I hear these same Academy elves discussed as open-minded and fair individuals. I was unable to square this, and so I figured the worst I could do was to be honest and test it.
Jokopul: You’ll forgive me, I hope, if I don’t find that totally convincing.
Enik: The truth is often boring and simple compared to the lies that are spun to obscure it.
Jokopul: So it is. Now, can you tell us a bit about the society you ran away from again?
Enik: There isn’t that much to tell. I was a minor monastic in Lotus, the great city in the infinitely curved mushroom. I grew tired of the fact that my entire life and existence were just meaningless filler in anticipation to an afterlife either filled with torment and pain for being born male or torment and pain for having failed to complete a task of pointless vanity.
Jokopul: And what task was that?
Enik: Why, to catalogue the catacombs of the ancient lotus. Parts of it were only accessible with a little magical help—being totally full of dank, unmoving water, usually—but the lotus is said to fold in on itself a great-gross-of-great-grosses (1000000 12 or 2985984 10 ) times. To catalogue and mark the infinite rooms of the lotus is pointless, for most of them are too small to fit even a couple of individuals in, but the medium ones are really big—like the cavern of your city big—and the large ones make all of your civilization seem to fit in a bulb.†
Jokopul: That’s pretty big. Your order exists for the sole purpose of cataloguing rooms so?
Enik: Yep. Monks of the perpetual tabulation.
Jokopul: And you were bored by the task?
Enik: Every day. So much so that risking my neck five times over to escape, and twenty-times over to find a path upward seemed like so much a better idea at the time. Getting captured by humans hasn’t been that bad yet, so I’m still on the right side of that one, I think.
Jokopul: Alright. But who actually does things in the society you left, clearly not your sort.
Enik: No, the drow laborers, the stronger and wilier females are the base workers. The priestesses, every one of them female, make the decisions, except when the chief Matron, who is supposedly visited regularly by the goddess with no name herself for guidance, decides to intervene.
Jokopul: How often does that happen?
Enik: How should I know. If you want to know how many rooms the Lotus has, I can give you a guestimate. If you want to know secrets of the inner echelons of a society I have renounced… well, I’m not really able to cooperate with that.
Jokopul: You seem pretty argumentative for your situation. Care to explain?
Enik: I don’t really think about it, I’m just a fairly defiant individual. Perhaps if you removed these manacles, I’d be a little less prickly when you ask a dumb question.
Jokopul: I will consider it. First this, though:
What languages do you read? We’re supposed to have you sign a transcript when we’ve got it in good shape.
Enik: I’m not really following you. How is a transcript being made?
Jokopul: It’s not, yet. But the room has a charm on it to remember words spoken for a certain amount of time, then spit them onto parchment.
Enik: What strange magic. Surface Elf?
Jokopul: Probably. Something the Mourning Academy donated.
Enik: I think I’m about done speaking in this room.
Jokopul: Um. Okay, I’ll see what else we can do.
†To this day, none among the near-surface races has been able to confirm whether Enik was misunderstood or making a joke here. The implications of this statement remain staggering.