Monday 31 March 2014

Black Glass

Imagine an ocean, a deep one. Imagine the water is black and dark like North-Sea mud. Imagine things living in it, thickly-knitted limbs that churn like a mower motor left tipped up and switched on, cutting blindly in long grass. You can’t see the limbs, or the things to which the limbs attach, but you can feel their movement in the thick black sea. They regard you. They hate you. A hate so deep they tear frantically at their own flesh in substitute for reaching yours.

Imagine the sea restrained by glass. Like the walls of an aquarium built on titanic scale. You stand before the sea that rises out of sight and curves to the horizon on each side. You can hear the surface fretting up its waves in storm a distant mile above your head. The glass holds everything back. Inside it you can see brief churnings of that midnight high-pressure world, raging at your presence just beyond its reach.

Imagine that the glass is beautifully made. Etched and engraved with perfect smiling forms. Beyond it, the black water, but, when the light slants just-so across the pane, a field of translucent harmony gleams, worked there on its surface by hands and minds that leap the greatest human art. A genius casually employed that vaults with ease the best that man has ever made. Crystal signature of thoughtless superiority. So perfect are its fields and processions that when seen, even glimpsed in a trickle of lateral light, you want to live there, with those frozen people, inside the surface of that glass.

This is the Drow.

This is how much the Drow hate you.

This is how much they control that hate.

The offence of your existence cannot be easily expressed.

The Drow are not angry that you live, they are amazed. The knowledge of you stabs them in the flesh with every recollection and event. Though they know it well, the wound of your existence will not close. Each memory of you, each experience, all evidence of your continued being, is like a knife twisting in the skin.

No other species could absorb such titanic contempt and remain sane. They would be reduced to raving berserkers, living only to kill, directly, the loathed enabler of their pain.

But the Drow are old, they know much of patience and control. Nothing is done without intent.

They can speak of you. They can name you. They can even see you in the flesh without breaking down. Some can even speak to you as if you were real, as if your name was something other than the froth-flecked gargling of a beast that dreamed it had a soul. As if your language did not taste like shit on their tongue.

Everything that can be done is being done. The situation is difficult, but there is time. There is always time. They must endure, as they have for so long.

They know an hour will come when horrors fade. When nothing else thinks or speaks upon the earth or in its veins. When even the memory of any other monstrous thing has been expunged. Then. Finally. There will be only Drow.

And they will be at peace. They will live to see it. They do not die.


  1. Mog-Pharau would be very proud.

  2. Beautiful. Horrible. I love it!

  3. I've been reading OSR blogs for about two years now and have never really commented before now. This post compels me to tell you the following:

    If you never make another post, I will still say yours is my favorite blog on the web. This post has made up for every Drizzt knock-off and other lukewarm interpretation of the Drow since their creation in '77.

    Thank you very much for this post.

  4. Also, your miniatures and sculpture discussions are incredible. Right that's enough gushing. Go about your business.

  5. We ran a campaign once called the eternal night where every thousand years there was a total eclipse that lasted ten years and the underdark was no longer under... good times.

  6. This is one of the most unsettling and imagination spurring thing I've read since... well, your post on the Duergar. Well done.

  7. Really evocative, I like it a lot. It reminds me of the novel "Machvarius Point" for some reason.

  8. This is one of the most evocative and effective pieces of game-related writing I've ever read.

  9. Still an absolute gem of a blog post...

  10. Struggling to follow this; are the observers of the people in the mud the drow or are the people in the mud the drow?