Thia lowered herself to the floor, her back to the cavern wall. Her friends busied themselves with looting the corpses and cleaning their weapons of blood. All she wanted to do was take time to regain her breath.
Rummaging in her pack, she pulled out some dried beef and began to eat. A few remaining strands of the web Ishacte had cast on her lingered on her boot. It didn’t matter. Her sister was dead. Well, that one anyway. None of her friends were seriously hurt in this attack, either.
Damn it, she thought. Why can’t they just leave me alone?
“So, Thia,” Jinnaari said as he sat next to her, “how are things with you?”
She shrugged. “Okay, I guess. Want some?” she held out a piece of jerky.
He took it from her, saying, “That one,” he pointed at Ishacte’s corpse, “looked a lot like you. Were you related?”
“We had the same mother.” Her voice sounded wooden in her own ears.
“So, a sister.”
She sighed, “I guess so. Her idea of sisterhood was different than mine. I don’t think calling a sibling names, or trying to ensnare them, is how you treat family.”
“Family means different things to different people.” He fell silent.
“I like Pan’s idea better than the Drow version. Too much death and deception. If I come out of this, it’d be nice to meet family that doesn’t care who my mother was.”
“What is this, ‘if’, stuff? We’re going to keep you safe, and take down Lolth. There’s no ‘if’ in that. It’s going to happen.”
She smiled a little, his confidence bolstering her hopes. “I’m not running off, if that’s what you’re thinking.” She took a deep breath, “I did think of that, briefly. Just taking off, surrendering. I thought it might keep all of you safer. The oracle at the stone library told me that was a bad idea.”
She heard him shift, but didn’t look at him. Instead, she kept her focus on a spot across the cavern. “I got scared, started thinking that everything going on was my fault. I don’t want the death of one or more of you on my hands. Lolth is a Goddess. If we don’t take her down, She will slaughter all of you. And I’ll be in no position to fight back at that point. I was thinking, maybe if I surrendered, you guys would be okay and I could find a way to resist Her.”
“Are you still thinking that way?”
She shook her head, “No. The oracle said that my surrender sealed your doom. The exact words were: ‘If you surrender, they will die. By your own hand will their fate be sealed.’ Then I found out that Pan and I are cousins. It sounds corny, but he’s reminded me I have a human side. It was getting lost. Ishacte was a constant reminder of the Drow part of me. I saw in her what I would become if Lolth has Her way.”
The rest of their friends were done, ready to move on. Whatever loot they’d found had been stashed. Thia brushed the last strands of webbing off the cap she wore and reset the disguise spell. It wasn’t much, but it helped.
Jinnaari rose first, holding out a hand to help her up. “Family isn’t only about blood,” he told her. “I know you don’t trust easily, Thia. But none of us are going to hand you over without a fight.”