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Story of verra and the / before the return

Dear community,

as useal before starting with a new MMO a like to write a story of my planned character (shortens time nd give more immersion). So I've read about the AoC lore what is available right now (confirmed always from Jeff and Steve).
I just have one important question:
The story for all (races/players) will begin with the return to Verra (or coming up from the underground). Not everybody can go on the first day (as players will not join all at the beginning, but for years).
But after all I read this Return-Event is "just started". So maybe running for some month or maximal a few years.
And the Returnerrs hit the world Verra after thousands of years - so even ruins of houses and town should be decated and gone.
On the other hand is spoken about recent wars between elves and man (just stopped for 80 years...) and about long lasting cities (i.e. Ameras) or kingdoms for thousands of years.
It sounds not like that is the history of Sanctus, but from Verra - but how this is fitting to the just recent return into a "blank" world??

Thanks in advance for any tips,
greetings from Germany,
C U on Verra
└╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐ ... Reputation and Name – history is written by the winners … └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐

Comments

  • daveywaveydaveywavey Member
    edited October 2021
    Shameless link to my fan-fiction story!
    https://forums.ashesofcreation.com/discussion/49700/the-return

    Haven't done any more of it in a while, actually. Should probably open the lappy again...
    This link may help you: https://ashesofcreation.wiki/
  • maouwmaouw Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Hey,

    where did you find the 80 years number?
    I wish I were deep and tragic
  • └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐ ... Reputation and Name – history is written by the winners … └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐
  • maouwmaouw Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited October 2021
    Ah!
    So the wiki isn't clear, but that quote comes from a Pathfinder session that they were playing together (as do the names of those "capital cities").

    Much of the worldbuilding for Ashes takes inspirations from the games that Steven DMs, so in this instance "eighty years" was referring to the timeperiod specific to that campaign.

    Makes sense?
    I wonder if there's a way to make that more obvious on the wiki...
    I wish I were deep and tragic
  • CivillianCivillian Member
    edited October 2021
    Well, thanks for the answer! ...
    But ... That means it isn't counting for AoC? City names, kingdoms, houses ... all are NOT existing on Verra before the return (of course not in the underrealm, there can be existing a lot, due to Tulnar civ ...)?
    └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐ ... Reputation and Name – history is written by the winners … └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐
  • maouwmaouw Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited October 2021
    Civillian wrote: »
    Well, thanks for the answer! ...
    But ... That means it isn't counting for AoC? City names, kingdoms, houses ... all are NOT existing on Verra before the return (of course not in the underrealm, there can be existing a lot, due to Tulnar civ ...)?

    Yeah, the idea is we start with an almost clean slate and build the world from the ground up.
    Those quotes provide history of the world from before our return to Verra. We may find remnants of those places, but we'll be building our own brand new cities on their ruins.

    I don't think the underrealm plans have been revealed yet.
    I wish I were deep and tragic
  • maouw wrote: »
    I don't think the underrealm plans have been revealed yet.

    Although, I can't imagine that they've managed to do much with the place.
    This link may help you: https://ashesofcreation.wiki/
  • However, I start putting here my version of a special being of Verra. Because it's mostly in a view of one indiviual being, the thoughts and knowledge are based on this background and don't need to be right and has to be the commeon background of Verra.
    The original story is in German, based on / covered from a book of Laird Oliver.
    I've used DeepL Translator (uncorrect) for the translation to English (need the time for more wirting...) ;)
    └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐ ... Reputation and Name – history is written by the winners … └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐
  • CivillianCivillian Member
    edited October 2021
    My Paradise; In the Forest of Eranthia
    3 notches after full stand, sometime 3 changes after the ascent
    Once again, for what felt like an eternity, I sat on one of the old, worn wooden chairs in the bright taproom. Another glance showed the reflection of the sun's rays on the brightly polished tables, albeit 'decorated' by beer stains over a long period of time. Sparkling dust particles danced like silent fireworks. The silence and emptiness ate into my mood, as well as into the tabletop in front of me, which was decomposed in many places by grooves and nicks from time and clientele.
    I won't be able to afford new ones, especially if it continues like this.
    The sun's rays became more yellowish. The afternoon passed again without anyone coming into the parlor. And my thoughts turned again around again the same topic:
    How the heck did I get the idea to build a retreat here in this wasteland far away from everything? This can't be good!
    Sometimes, however, hikers found their way here, more because of curiosity than because of the very limited food and drink. Perhaps also because of my nice entrance sign, that I found now however rather stupid and already blame for the misery made: "Quickly in - long out - pub. Here-in young strong men with good intentions are most welcome!" Or in their local language: "Come Inn - slow out. In my Inn-er young strong men are most welcome!"
    Once again, I should shut everything down and go on a trip.
    The last trips had ensured that I didn't have to worry about making a living for a while. At the moment I didn't have a real problem yet, I could calmly allow myself a few more days of rest. I felt that I had earned this for thousands of lives.
    I would actually have to dust the cups behind the counter ...
    With my inevitably following look to the shelf the surface condition of the crew there resembled unfortunately rather a company in the fog than a guard in the sunshine.
    Well, there shouldn't be so much dust on it...
    Above all, the soldiers in the fog were surrounded by a large flock of crows.
    What...?
    Fruit flies.
    A whole flock danced around the bowl with the grapes harvested yesterday. They really needed to be processed. I was not yet clear whether I should rather make wine or raisins from it this time. Both were popular with the (unfortunately too rare) guests. My salt vinegar raisins were even the best seller and provided incidentally for even more wine and beer turnover - unfortunately, I myself was the biggest consumer.
    Suddenly the crowd of floating dots was gone. The light lances from the windows died out and gray clouds gathered in the sky. The last afternoons of this late summer had been oppressive and windless. The air took on a heaviness and the skin felt constantly damp. And it wasn't just the worn leather that was to blame this time either. The days I had but actually considered whether I could not leave out a few of the parts under my good Schankkleidung. But no, everyone has so his principles. The leather protection, as well as the twin daggers at the kidneys, they gave me a certain hold - almost like good brothers or sisters.
    Exactly, daggers. I could use them sensibly in the kitchen for once, instead of just ramming them into living things. But they're really a bit too long for that....
    Besides, I felt it would dishonor heaven and hell - especially that they would resent me.
    Slowly, I stood up, stretched extensively, and took a few steps behind the counter. Next to the bowl of grapes that served as a landing spot for the flies of all Verra, there was still the bucket of potatoes from this morning. This year my land had given me good gifts - or was there actually some blessing once in a while? I took a fresh cloth from the tray, drove away the flies and covered the grapes.
    Then I took the bucket, a knife, a large board and stoneware. I poured some water from the house well (thanks to lack of guests, there was still plenty since the morning) and was about to start peeling. But now it had become quite dark, although still hours to night. The sky had contracted even more densely. In the cloud mush light and dark gray wool formed almost tangible swirls. Now an unhealthy yellow joined in and the air, which had been stagnant at first, began to move more and more.
    I was worried about the animals. The chickens were already in the coop and Tinder was safe here with me in the house, though of course not in the guest room. I had already stopped him from doing that for some time, otherwise he would again scare away the mostly unexpected guests. From the distance I heard now already quietly and muffled the angry sky voice.Looking at the mountain of potatoes, I first felt a far different urgent need. Fortunately, a thunderstorm would not be a problem here. My house offered a nice feature for me and the guests: the privy was integrated into a corner of the house. Access was via a short hallway of perforated walls that kept out anything material or airy that might creep out of the hole(s), - except the winter cold. One could get there dry and clean in any weather from the private, as well as the public rooms.
    I lit the lighted candle on the hearth fire and made a tour of the taproom, partially closing shutters and lighting a few wall candles that could still shine outside. I didn't really hope for customers anymore, but I didn't want to give up completely for today.
    Then I shrugged and started my walk to that particular hole - trying to convince myself that I didn't want to put off peeling.
    A blustery wind accompanied me, clearly felt through the hidden holes of the special hallway. The first heavy drops slapped against the rickety shutters and brittle roof shingles.
    Minutes later, I returned to the inn and began to struggle with the potatoes while the sky wept profusely and angrily over my heavy lot. The pile of peels nevertheless grew steadily larger and the bucket emptier.
    What do I do here actually? Have I completely forgotten my story?
    Probably hardly. But earlier this seemed to me here the paradise. A place in the sun, under the open sky, just as my real life had begun. Here without family, but normal. No literally dark time in endless, oppressive caves with ... creatures that were becoming more and more distant from the Torren externally and, unfortunately, mostly internally. I simply wished for a place in the light, with few but interesting semi-normal friends and strangers whose stories I could listen to, to be distracted from my own. Company without obligations.
    Halfway through the potatoes, I first dropped the knife and stepped over to the stove fire to stoke it and hang water in a large tin pot there.
    Suddenly I heard a noise outside the door, indistinct from stormy wind, drumming of drops and creaking of old wooden beams.
    I jumped up in surprise and promptly hit my head on the low-hanging candle holder. While still rubbing my head, I took a few quick steps and now tried to look professionally bored again. The sounds sounded like rhythmic clacking of wooden bowls on stone.
    A horse? Now?
    Then there was a squeak of the stable door.
    Hectically, I dropped the half-finished potato. Friend, foe, robber or guest?
    I could probably rule out the first two possibilities because of the lack of notice and the weather. Besides, it sounded like only one horse, so probably only one person. If someone had come alone to harvest where not sown, then this someone should be afraid of me rather than I of him. I briefly washed my hands in the bowl, rubbed them on the dryer sheet, and unconsciously reached for the steel in my back.
    The door opened, then flew open and a cloaked figure entered the room. In the drop shadow, in front of the back rain wall, a dark, wet shiny hooded cloak became visible almost out of nowhere.
    I cleared my throat and uttered a pained, cheerful: "Welcome to my guest room! Motionless, the stranger (or strangers?) stood still in the doorway. Then, without an answer, the high, black boots stepped a little to the side and the door was closed almost silently with a smooth movement.
    My eyebrow twitched upward briefly.
    Who was that? Man, woman? And then, what race? Probably Aela or Pyrian. Dünzenkell and Kaivek are out of the question here because of size and build. Or a Tulnar, similar to me - maybe I even know him?
    The hood moved a little to the left and right, then the cloak dripped toward a nearby table. The fine boots left a distinct trail of mud. This looked like work.
    The stranger, continuing to be completely wordless, pulled back a chair and sat down so that he had me in view.
    I bent down behind the counter, took a clean, almost white cloth over my arm and the kindling. Then I stepped to the table and hurried to light the candles on the candelabra above, "What is your desire? Who are you?"
    The shadow under the hood twitched in my direction. Then the stranger's hand reached up and flipped back the fabric. Voicelessly came a garbled word: "Wa..ta. ..."
    "Uh...", I couldn't help a short sound and needed a moment for a proper answer. The stranger's face was almost completely bandaged. The mouth area showed brown spots.
    "Is there anything I can do to help?" I brought out. Instead of an answer, the stranger just made the gesture of drinking.
    I stumbled and unconsciously scratched my head. Then I stepped behind the counter, I grabbed a pitcher and the carafe with still half-fresh water and put both on the table in front of him. Two hands with thin black gloves appeared, filling the pitcher with elegant movements.
    Then the figure looked at me as best it could, "Bide ... nit ... stö-en."
    Again the words came voiceless and slurred. - "Of course! Do you need anything else? Food?" The figure nodded significantly. "Coming right up..." I left the table and now more agilely prepared a soft stew.
    Some time later, I placed a large, steaming bowl in front of the guest. A grateful nod followed. The pitcher was already empty and I fetched more. Again came a wordless but approving gesture. This time, however, I was not so easily frightened away. Stubbornly, I just stood there, getting the attention of my chair occupant. This was hardly the best way to get guests to return, but still... . Because of the bandage, I could hardly read anything from the facial expressions. Again I tried, "If I can't help you in any other way, at least tell me your name - maybe for a camp?" The answer came immediately this time, "Mmmm-hmmm." On the one hand, this made me aware of the error in the question, and on the other, it made for a less than intelligent expression on my face. It was the first time I'd heard that now, and I didn't yet know how I was about to hate it. "So a room?", I tried again.
    I was stared at motionlessly and wordlessly for many moments. Then came a few clearly struggled, still soundless words, "Er-t ... Bi-r ... bide n.r." The figure grabbed a cloth from his clothes and cleaned his mouth. I was about to get a pitcher of beer when the next words still followed, "Ab.. n.r Bi-r ... if I-r -count ... Eu-r G-s-i-te!" - My eyebrows twitched upward, "You want me to tell you about me so you'll drink my beer?" My face must have spoken volumes, because instead of a new answer, a bare silver piece appeared in my gloved hand. The gesture clearly increased my willingness to cooperate.
    Scratching my head once more, I began, "So, after the great mystical portal in the ..." I was abruptly interrupted by my counterpart shaking his head unwillingly, "Dafü' ni-t hi-r!!! ... V-n Anf-n', with B-ginn!!!"
    Actually, the silver piece was far too small. I felt little desire to do the wanderer this very favor, no matter how much beer. But before I could halfway politely formulate my reply to that, a well-filled pouch now landed on the table, with a clink of coins, "V-n Anf-n'. Un' laan', bide!"
    I sighed. Long, too.
    I stretched until it cracked significantly and said, "Very well. Half a candlemark of my words against a big jug. A full one against a cup of good wine - and besides, you'll stay the night. The notch will cost you a piece of silver each - I can't be had that cheap!" If a horse trade, then a real one!
    My guest pondered, then slowly began nodding several times, "E-te, re-te Wo-te. Wa-ness. E-te Wo-te for e-tes Si-ber!"
    So, unfortunately, probably no fairy tale lesson from Verra possible. Too bad. That didn't make it any easier. And apparently he or she, yes could tell a lie to some degree.
    With another sigh, I stepped behind the counter and poured myself a cup of wine - a little advertising couldn't hurt. Besides, it would help me get through the whole thing. I went back to the stranger's table and, taking a deep breath, sat down on a chair opposite.
    I remained silent for quite a while, thinking about where to start. What I could expect of him - and especially of myself.
    Then I began hesitantly, "You must know, it's been a long time since I first thought about that one day that decided everything else for me. It was ... I felt close to the end, there in the Cave of Shadows on the Forbidden Plains. After the battle with the Great Defeat. As my senses faded, I remembered that one day. I never wanted to bring it up again. At the seemingly endless time I hardly did that either, however, you are not the first here to hear it, at least in small parts..."
    └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐ ... Reputation and Name – history is written by the winners … └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐
  • CivillianCivillian Member
    edited October 2021
    City of Velune: Aera, area of the foreground
    2 notches after Hellstieg, 4 days to change, 7 weeks before the fall

    A mere small, unspectacular door waited at the end of my desperate walk. I pulled the fibrous hood in front of my face and tried to block out the morning chill of the desert from outside the city. As a child of Aera, I should be used to it, but the eternal lack of fuel - too expensive for us, along with everything else - always fueled anew the hatred for the surroundings and my life.
    I looked over the high, ornate houses here and could see in the distance, only through the slight rise of the terrain, the neighborhood from which I came. Less the sight, but rather the smell testified even here to its existence. But the many travelers would not see much of it or get it in their noses. If they wanted a guided tour, they were more likely to be brought here - but not, of course, to this very alley ... . I sighed softly. Again.
    Standing around here brooding any longer would get us nowhere.
    I found myself at the end of the alley in front of a house, more like a villa or already a palace, which towered over the other properties with several stories. The adobe bricks were all freshly plastered and painted. My gaze fell on the brightly polished marble slabs and the golden knocker in the shape of a skull and crossbones octopus in front of the rear door. Even the noble appearance could not dispel the feeling that this octopus would soon devour me.
    Something wasn't right. The neighborhood here was pretty much the opposite of what I knew - but here the haze of rot and decay literally flowed under the crack of the door. The smell might have fit my area - just absolutely not here.
    As if a chicken had been slaughtered behind the door weeks ago and forgotten ... What am I doing here? ... It's not going to be a good ... ...
    But what else is left for me? The only option - Or she dies!
    I vigorously pressed the knocker several times.
    Only a few moments later, a young woman, perhaps as old as me, opened the door. Behind the smiling facade, her sadness literally screamed at me.
    Her clothes consisted of a bright yellow, transparent top that merged into a red, slit skirt. Parts of the skirt extended to her feet, while the slit ran all the way up the top. The skin showed elaborate paintings that clearly wrapped around her handsome bust. Around her neck she wore the typical collar, but in this case in golden color.
    Just a slave - what else? But something more ... respect it could have been, with this offer ...
    "You are already expected. Do not hesitate any longer." The slave spoke tonelessly and emotionless and disappeared with a short turn in the shadows. As she moved inside, the rays of the morning sun touched her free back one last time. I swallowed several times, trying to dislodge a non-existent stone in my throat and struggling to breathe. Wide, poorly healed scars crisscrossed my shoulders and pelvis. This back had known countless whips extensively over the years. Skin that was more like the field behind our house than the marble in front of this door.
    What kind of person could do that to a girl?
    She said, without turning around and as if she had heard my thoughts, "He likes the screams...". With that, she stepped into the darkness like a shadow that had never existed.
    I shook off all thoughts and concerns with moderate success and followed her into the house. Directly behind me the door slammed shut as if invisible guards had been watching me all along. A little further back in the hallway, small torches at a far distance inadequately illuminated the long corridor. Nothing existed between the torches. There I walked on some soft, springy ground, almost like in a bog. Uncertainly I walked on and on, sometimes over invisible, half-soft obstacles.
    Do not think! For Tara!
    I tapped one foot into a sort of snare and had to brace myself on one side. There was a sound and feeling as if I had caught in squishy clay, and cold fear and damp disgust ran down my spine.
    I'm just dreaming all this, I'll wake up in a minute ....
    But then Tara is no more ...
    If only I didn't have the stories in my head about him, why did I even ask?
    Regardless, I followed the corridor more with my hands than with my eyes, which led me around numerous corners and other obstacles on the floor. My only companion was the nausea-inducing smell of decay. Everything in me wanted to flee from this place. Instead, however, I went forward with sweat-soaked hands step by step, past some closed doors, only indistinctly recognizable in the darkness. All the while I had this strange feeling of being watched.
    Suddenly, the slave girl became briefly visible again in front of me, opening one half of a double-winged door that bore a multitude of grotesque frescoes on its gilded surface. Briefly, damp steaming air as from an animal pen and the noise of a large number of people hit me. Then the gate slammed shut again. Suddenly it was night again and I was trapped with my nightmares.
    The last chance to escape - now or never!
    But before I could decide otherwise, the door opened again, the slave grabbed me unceremoniously by the arm and pulled me inside.
    A large, oval hall awaited me, brightly lit compared to the hallway. Rows of columns on the sides were shaped like fangs and the red runner on a curved floor resembled a tongue. All together, it gave the feeling of being in the mouth of a giant beast. To match, moisture dripped from the ... fleshy walls and in the background, at the end of the hall, a curved, circular passage led downward into another darkness.
    At the edge between the columns were other servants who, compared to the general din, sang quite soft, dissonant, melancholy tunes. In other corners, almost naked people were being whipped or acquainted with ghastly-looking, sharp-metal implements.
    The wailing chant, smell of sweat and despair, whistling straps and the accompanying screams blended into an orgiastic symphony of suffering. With eyes widened in terror, I gazed into the hall as if transfixed, while my throat went dry and I could not utter a sound.
    * * *
    My throat just felt almost as dry and toneless as it did then.
    No, not really.
    I took the last sip from the second cup and stretched extensively. Then I stood up while a very disapproving look was on me, "Da' wa' ni-t Ker-' - meh' laan' must!"
    I raised my eyebrows and shrugged, "True! - But do you see anyone else here? I need to fix your camp, feed the animals still, and get some ideas about what to do with your face. Here you see only a common -though locally rare- Tulnar tavernmaid. But that's not me ... but no matter what you say of me and see, I was a healer -no, I am THE healer and always will be." I turned and brought him another beer and then left the guest room. Then I went to the only single guest room and freshened up my room and camp. It was not easy for me to leave my strange guest alone all the time.
    Finally I returned. The stranger had apparently hardly moved, time seemed frozen - except for a shiny piece of metal on the table. A new one, I had already safely stored the old one. Acid rose up my throat, I didn't want to chew through it all again in the truest sense, relive it or rather ... die through it.
    But now, as then, silver shone enticingly - and deal was deal. Still, there was no harm in trying: "Should I go ahead now, or ...?" That's as far as I got, because another, "Mmmm-hmmm." along with an impatient gesture, interrupted me.
    With a surrendered sigh, I sat down again, "Now then, where was I? Ah yes, my memories of the day, my ... host ..."
    * * *
    Although unmissable, I directed my gaze only last to the lord of the palace. He was half stretched out on a kind of raised throne couch in the center of the room. In front was a pool with more women swimming in the water, no something dark red.
    "You're late." His voice boomed deep into the room. I averted my gaze as quickly as I could. "It's rude not to notice your counterpart - look at me!"
    I can't do this ...
    His eyes seemed to be penetrating me, literally dissecting me, "Why are you looking at the slaves, not at me? - Do you find them ... more arousing?"
    Now he left me no chance to look away. Asakku was very tall compared to a Vaelun, but even taller were the two huge, sinuous horns that were the only adornment on the upper half of his body besides a stylized crown. Next to them he wore two mighty wings. They were leathery and translucent, as if he were a gigantic bat.
    Under his leg clothing of decorated metal, bones and skins, there were no feet to be seen, but some kind of claws. I could not and would not fathom whether he might once have been a normal member of the city. Now in any case no more, that could be simply no disguise ...
    Perhaps the worst thing, however, was the face, which remained normal. The features showed no human emotions, they just radiated heat and cold at the same time - as well as an image of arrogance and contempt.
    A real demon ... indeed!
    I had not believed it - wanted to believe it - despite all the rumors.
    What was the beast capable of? Without wanting to, I asked, "Are you really the Great Demon - or a god ...?" I could not produce another word and had to swallow.
    Briefly, the corners of my mouth twitched up a bit in my face, which had seemed petrified until then: "Well, I'm probably not a god ..., but the demon thing might be true by now ...". He straightened up and stepped to a bloody beaten man hanging powerless on a stake. A cold smile stole onto his face, "Is he supposed to be yours?"
    I could only shake my head in horror and disgust. He shrugged and pointed further down the hall, "Or maybe that woman there instead?". Anger and disgust gave me new strength, "Over my dead body!", I brought forth.
    He turned back to me and raised an eyebrow significantly, "Well - and if that were the only other option?"
    I had to swallow in horror and slowly began to shake my head back and forth. That's when he lowered his head, showed me his long pointed teeth with an animalistic snarl, and spoke, "So let's get down to the business you announced. Brave. Very brave. Or crazy."
    I had heard that Asakku possessed extraordinary powers, sorcery or witchcraft. He could manage things that normally weren't possible - and shouldn't be possible. One could wish for power and wealth from him, or security, or a long life. Many had done so.
    But all the nice things were not for free, of course. No, of course, nothing was here. The price was own body parts, the soul or even the life, of himself or family members. In any case, Asakku took the price of the supplicants - or even more. But whether he would provide the desired service or any service at all in return was very questionable. However, there were actually also some few who did not escape from this hell without missing arm or dead daughter and for some reason also received their wish, as they told. - And through them they drove me and many others into this damned trap again and again.
    Asakku possessed everything he wanted to possess. And if he didn't, he could easily get it with his own forces or servants. He had absolutely no need for these trades. The only interesting thing for him about it was the distraction it offered. The game of a cat with a mouse. Mice that voluntarily ran to the cat and tried again and again to escape with old and new tricks - and yet were mostly eaten after a few playful strikes.
    Asakku had waited a short time, so that I had time for these senseless thoughts. Now he approached me directly and ordered me: "So!? Your wish? Your bid?"
    There was the problem: I had nothing that was valuable or that I wanted or could give him. But the show was as important here as anything else.
    He liked the pleading, begging, shrieking and crying ... Unfortunately, the chances of achieving anything with it were also, to say the least, quite manageable. Maybe, if the stars were right, the desert froze over and the prince would donate a copper coin to the poor, then I would ... .
    "I can't offer you anything special ...", I managed to say, croaking, just barely.
    His head jerked forward, "What?" his eyes lit up angrily, "You
    dare without a proper offer ...?" But unexpectedly, he then had himself back in control and turned away, "You're lucky. You get to disappear!"
    "No."
    I could see his body twitch and straighten even more. A hiss escaped him and without properly turning back to me he said, "So what do you want?" The tone was lurking. I had the image of a desert viper in my mind's eye, waiting under the sand for a small insect until it was close enough.
    Quietly I asked, "Help Tara, my sister!"
    Then he stepped close again. I stiffened like a pillar of salt. He let my hair slide through his fingers, first touched my neck with an implied, slightly smug smile, and then stroked down the back of my neck to between my legs: "So I'll save your sister. ... And you...?"
    "My life..." I hear myself say almost silently.
    "Life then," he said boredly, pulling my chin up, "...just life."
    "... I give it for you ...", I could still say. Everything was so abstract, so unreal. I felt rather nothing but fear.
    "You're missing the point here, girl!" he thundered at me. "It's not about any silly gifts at all! I want to be entertained! Do something for me: scream, pray, dance ...! I want you to cry, I want to see the despair in your eyes, I want fear to run cold down your spine, I want the hairs on your arms to stand up and break in my wind - And then all your hope to break, like all the other fools, when you have to watch me rip your guts out and devour them anyway! I want distraction!"
    "That's exactly what you're getting right now, sir, isn't it?"
    "Nice try ... but it's actually true ... a little."
    Contrary to expectations, I wasn't dead yet, not even a little bit. He was still playing. Was there perhaps still hope? But all the other "fools" had also had this hope ...
    Nevertheless, I could still go on: He who gives up has already lost. I was not here for that. What else could I offer him?
    Suddenly his face was very close: "Scared?" He licked his lips.
    I could only nod weakly. "Not enough. If I grant your wish, it won't cost your life, that would be too easy. - No, you will have to entertain me! Long, very long. Longer than you can imagine. And in that time I will do indescribable things to you. I will suck your soul very slowly. I will link you with the ground here particle by particle and dance on it. And all this you will feel and see for eternity ..." I looked disturbed at the strange ground under me, began to understand. This time he really smiled: "Now you finally understand, girl! Your body I will fry with honey and your eyes in jelly ..."
    He had won. I began to shiver coldly, "No further, please ..."
    "Do you want to go now?"
    "No!"
    Again he showed his teeth, "Have you ever lain with a man?" he asked sweetly.
    "No! Why? This is my ..."
    "Virgins have a special essence, it can be worked with ..." He licked his lips again with a long, pointed tongue, "Your courage is greater than most warriors. My advice and this time without any price: run home girl and live! And praise your good fortune!"
    "No!", I had long since decided not to give in, no matter what else he might say.
    "And if I were to take your sister here afterwards - like that one?" He pointed deprecatingly at the screaming, bloody bundles between the columns.
    "If you help Tara, then you can work out all your desires on me, but she will be spared!"
    "Really all of them?" he asked hesitantly, seeming to consider.
    I cleared my throat, "Well, maybe ... just kill me before you eat me and disfigure my face ... and body ..."
    He pressed his lips together. Then he stretched his shoulders, "All right. Now what about your sister?"
    She came under the prince's horsemen. Many bones are shattered. She already has death in her body and the fever is burning her slowly, but faster and faster."
    "Then go to a temple and let the healers there take off the bad leg or arm."
    "But there are too few healers. The few have time only for important people - or a larger donation to the temple is expected ..."
    "And you can't afford that. - How did the accident happen?"
    "I was too curious, stumbled and fell in front of the horses during the parade - several animals shied away. They kicked out, but didn't hit me, but ..." A hot tear ran from my eye and my vision blurred.
    He nodded briefly, "So the deal would be: your sister will live. That's all I'll promise!"
    I sobbed, "Just promise to take my face too ... for Tara." Now even through my watery vision I could see his astonishment. He took my head in his hands and asked sharply, "Why do you think you shouldn't be recognized anymore?"
    "Because ..." I couldn't continue. Took another deep breath: "... Because I don't want my family to recognize me when they ... are soon invited to the banquet ... ." I sobbed out once more.
    He pulled up one corner of his mouth a little, "Let's see what we can do about that - What's your name, by the way?"
    "Lilith of Kāoŗmiś."
    Whereupon, with his face now stony again, he took my right hand and spoke in an unnaturally clear, echoing voice: "The deal is closed, funny Lilith!" I felt a chill. Quietly he added: "Let's see what I feel like today!"
    └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐ ... Reputation and Name – history is written by the winners … └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐
  • maouwmaouw Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Oh dear Lilith.
    :(
    I wish I were deep and tragic
  • CivillianCivillian Member
    edited October 2021
    Temple of Hope, lowest level
    Generations after the Great Defeat

    With a proper scratching in my throat, I finally slumped back against the backrest and yawned loudly and unabashedly.
    My goodness, I didn't realize how sh... hard these seats were. No wonder no guest comes....
    Then I cleared my throat and swallowed a few times to be able to squeeze out a few more words: "So my lord. That's enough for me today. Now off with you to the room. I'll give you half a notch to do the most important things and then look at your face. Whether you like it or not. This service is free, but the room and my worn-out voice, it will cost you a lot!"
    I looked aggressively at the bandaged counterpart, but instead of defensive words or the same attitude came an affirmative nod. Then I heard leiste the words, "De_hal' am ic' hie-a. Auc-h."
    My eyebrows slid toward the evening sky, "History and healing? - No reservations? No fear? Don't you know what I really am?"
    He - I was sure of it by now - groaned, slowly straightened and stretched until there was a slight crack. Then he expelled the held air and shrugged his shoulders rather indifferently, "Vo_ all'm e_wa'. ... Ab-a no' wah-hl'! - G'nau like Ih' ... damal'!"
    "All right. There is indeed the comparison to me already somewhat close. I almost envy you, because you still have the tension ahead of you, what I will do with you ...". I allowed myself a cold, inarticulate smile that this time I absolutely could not help myself. Then I told him to wait for a moment and replaced a few burnt candles and locked the outer door for the night. I showed him the privy and his room, which he entered gratefully and immediately dropped his things powerlessly beside the bed. I brought him another lighted lantern and left him with the reminder of my imminent return.
    I gave him more time than I had discussed and meanwhile finished my present struggle with the potatoes. Then I extinguished all the lights in the guest room and returned. He had taken off the bandage, revealing a horrible sight: his mouth was completely torn open on one side. Almost belligerently he looked at me. If he had really expected any emotion from a millennial lamassu, he must have just been quite disappointed.
    "You should sit on that chair there." I nodded briefly in that direction, but didn't wait for his reaction; instead, I already went to the window and closed the shutters. By the time I was done, he had dutifully sat down and asked, "Un' wa' nu'?"
    That was a good question. Actually, I only needed to concentrate for a moment and give him some of my power. A few more times if necessary and that went well from here. His mouth wouldn't be whole again with a flick of the wrist, and it wouldn't be smooth and shiny like a child's bottom - but the healing would speed up tremendously, the scars would remain ... bearable, and his pain would end in short order anyway.
    A direct touch would be disgusting, but it would waste less of my strength, which I still needed for the grapes tomorrow, after all. At the latest. Above all, however, it needed a little show, that had been burned into my body, so to speak. So I went to him and told him to sit still. Then I touched his wound with one hand, while I dutifully made a few sweeping gestures with the other and intoned some eerie-sounding syllables ... and then, with a slight grin, wished him a good night.
    The next morning found me much later than usual. I was briefly disoriented, wondering what could have awakened me, when I heard another knock at my door.
    Can only be my guest ... what does he want?
    I briefly considered whether I could and should open at all, but fortunately nature - or rather Asakku, had blessed me with the magical gift of a so to speak permanent makeup. Belonged everything to the full program to make me eternally ready. In the truest sense of the word. With the not exactly socially acceptable hair my visitor just had to live. I briefly considered whether I should wear anything at all, after all, he had wanted to shock me yesterday. But then Asakku would win once again and I would harm myself again. Besides, my guest seemed to know quite a bit about me - and perhaps expected exactly that.
    That would be even nicer ... If I'm going to be unhappy again, then please not with Mister Hackface ...
    I shouted, "Wait a minute!", put on a long embroidered robe and opened the door. Mr. Hackfresse looked considerably better than yesterday. He had been washed, didn't smell like a polecat now, and the wound had even healed to a large extent. He was still not in a condition in which one would like to see him in bed, but still.
    I nodded briefly with a glance at the wound and said, "Looks good. I hope you have enough silver. What do you want?"
    Instead of an immediate answer, he stepped aside with a smile and pulled out a board with breakfast arranged. Fried eggs (which he himself must have taken from the chickens), fresh bread, fried potato slices, arranged onions ... . I could hardly believe it, I was in paradise!
    How long has it been since someone did this to me? ... It must have been in the festival of unity, shortly before the end, ages ago ... .
    Tears came to my eyes, which I reluctantly wiped away. Much more coolly than I would have liked, I said: "That's nice! I'll let you off one or two pieces of silver for that." Then I slammed the door in his stunned face.
    Quietly I heard from the other side the clear words: "I wanted to thank you for the help and the story! - When do we go on? The grapes are washed and laid out to dry, the chickens are ready - and I'll give you your half-notch to do the most important things. - And to enjoy breakfast." And just as he hijacked my sentence, I felt him mimic my smile of yesterday outside the door as well.
    After the half-notch, I had no more excuses ...

    * * *

    Cold ... it is so terribly cold ...
    Blackness surrounded me, buried me, flowed through me like an icy mountain river through solid rock. Arms and legs could no longer be felt, as if they were separate from me. I was a tiny, stiff heap of misery.
    If only I could at least feel my feet ...
    Feet? I hadn't had them for a long time, now there were only the damned horn steps down below. As if I were a besch... goat! - Asakku's probably best "gift".
    In the past I could have changed into the vaelunian form at least temporarily for the feet and everything else, but since the damned ban runes nothing worked anymore. At the thought of it I would have spat too gladly, but my throat was completely dried out. Thirst had become my middle name. Everything in me screamed for water. Just the thought of liquid ... I would die for it, ... no I would die from it. A matter of time, if it were possible.
    But even worse was the desire for something solid. Just a piece of bread, some rice. The burning hunger, the desire for edibles even gave birth to images of exquisite delicacies in my head: grapes, honey, nuts, sweet cakes ... But not the thought of them, but only the urge to get rid of the total debilitation and lassitude. My intestines, the whole body had shrunk and languished before itself, towards the now welcome afterwards.
    What was the use of living on?
    My powers and memories were almost completely gone. Erased or weakened beyond recognition by the Great Binding Rituals and Marks. I was only a nothing in the eternal nothing. A droplet of tiny emptiness in the emptiness.
    What kind of emptiness actually? As if I had been banished there, too. Just like ... how?
    Blurry images of the past, the ones I had left, flashed through my mind, lost in this dark hell. Thrown like a stone into a deep, dry well and thus removed from true being.

    I had already been called by many names, Mistress of Wounds, Wound Master, The Lady After. And there were dozens more, too, mostly far less friendly.
    Either way, they were wrong. I was not just The Lady After. When it was somehow possible, I was always there, too.
    I fought in many battles, they gave me a rush, a distraction from misery. Afterwards, I always had to atone for the frenzy and make amends to friend and foe alike - and curse myself. The mist of blood turned me on, the tangy smell, the torn souls, the essence released....
    And also there, enjoying the battles together with me, was for a long time the leader of the free peoples, Areimanios.
    Joy and hope had returned to my life with him. He was like the warm sun in the day and the bright moon in the dark night - A memory of the time on the surface. A light in the darkness, the fire in winter and the water in the desert of perdition. Unlike me, he could see the good in people and the future, he could rejoice and laugh heartily. He gave us all a purpose to live. He liked to party in great company, shared his possessions and goods with the poor and ... and ....
    He had really managed to give me courage and hope again, to make me happy, after ... ages. Years, decades, centuries had come and gone like grains of sand on the stairs of houses.
    The memory hurt even now. After all this time. Even here, where pain ruled and I should think of nothing else.
    I met him when he was looking for healing for his wounded - and had no problem asking even an obvious lamassu, just like many other outcasts.
    From the first light I could not get away from him. But we were really seen together, when he asked me carefully a little later to accompany him at the festival of the Wechsellauf. For that I should put on a real dress. However, he allowed me to have my leather armor worked into the new composition by the best available seamstress (with which I almost drove her crazy) - what a man!
    And he was the first one I could really love again and who also kept his power, although that was actually impossible after Asakku's work. Asakku had taken away my humanity, the naturalness in the sense of belonging to the normal world, step by step. He had kicked me and my soul into the ground. He had turned me into a lamassu. He had done all that he had told me to do and more - only he had not eaten me. However, he might as well have eaten me and spit me out, for after the centuries of his refinements and processing, I had become much more like him than my former self. The horns, the wings, the fangs, the feet.
    I was becoming more and more disgusted with myself. And the outside was not as bad as the inside: Into my mind he planted the desire for sorrow and unhappiness of men and women. Hoped for love, destroyed hope.
    A miniature form of himself.
    But just as he twisted body and mind through his essence, just as I became firmly connected to that essence. And just as it was his wish that I should destroy everything that was dear to me, I tried for years, decades, centuries to pay him back: In which I learned to direct this essence exactly in the other direction.
    Areimanios was the first to accept me as I was.
    Before that, I had shared the camp with many men - also women.
    Peasants, warriors, princes, kings. They all cried out first briefly with joy, then for a long time with despair, sorrow and suffering. I heard their screaming, I let them scream, I screamed myself. It delighted me. Each one increased my strength and remained empty. - And yet my own emptiness remained. And the hunger grew from time to time instead of disappearing. The more strength I gained, the more the nothingness attracted me, it was in me.
    I despaired of it forever, just as Asakku had wanted. For just like all the flesh beneath me, within me, I suffered every cold parting and abandoned hope to fill the void within.
    My soul was gone, but at the same time burning brightly.
    I could remember no one, neither names nor faces nor lives. They were mostly only concerned with the last night before the battle, the fear of being forgotten. The fear of the end I would never know.
    And then suddenly Ari was in front of my eyes again, how he toasted me at the feast and then pulled me to his camp - and broke the curse.
    └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐ ... Reputation and Name – history is written by the winners … └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐
  • Festivals of unity, last fortress of free peoples.
    Later ... 4 notches after full stand

    I leaned back, full but exhausted. After all the words and food, the day had progressed quite a bit and I would have well and truly closed my eyes once again now ...
    Damn, I have not yet ...
    I nodded briefly to my counterpart, murmured once again a fleeting "Thank you" and rushed off to open doors and windows in the house and with the animals and to feed them. Wordlessly, his eyes followed me while I was still doing this in the parlor. He briefly pointed once in front of him in the direction of the table. There now lay a whole stack of silver coins. I took advantage of this to make a quick detour back during my run and let the stack disappear almost magically into my pockets. While I was already moving away again, I heard: "Tell me, do you actually believe all these words? Now this past does belong to the realm of fairy tales - or do you only wish good entertainment - and care?"
    For a while I heard nothing. Then the words followed me outside: "The entertainment is everything, isn't it? - I don't believe you ...".
    I took care of the care of the animals and also caught up with tinder. Then the stranger also followed. It was amazing that Tinder liked him immediately. I had never experienced that before. In addition, I couldn't get his words out of my mind and there were still no new guests in sight - and it was soon full again.
    Clearly miffed, I said, "I have to go back inside and take care of the food...". He followed me back into the house almost silently, like a shadow in a bright sun. Then he said with an indistinct emphasis, "You need your hands for that, but not your head and your voice, surely?"
    I stepped behind the counter. Some friendly, well-paid Dünzenkell had installed a basin with a drain there during construction, and as a special feature next to it, a small domestic well. The water was good to drink and had a tart earthy taste. Only pulling up the small bucket was a bit of a hassle and took its time. I was busy with that, but asking went by the way: "So you still have - neat - silver left?"
    And already came the familiar: "Mmmm-hmmm."

    * * *

    I had never seen the area in the huge cave dome in front of the entrance to our cave festival so full. The ends of the dark plain in front of it, many hundreds of paces wide, were only indistinctly visible through the tents, animals and wagons of the refugees, together with their bustle. The wide plain was broken only by the many huge rock pillars and the shadows born by them from the huge blanket fire bowls hanging next to them, as well as the central cave river that ran across the plain. Dozens of tents of refugees stood in several rows in front of the lateral passage to the secured area beyond.
    What were tents for, anyway? Surely the Tulnar only know about sandstorms or even sky water from stories? Damn, if one had grown up under the open sky, then one comes on strange thoughts.
    Only a narrow strip had been left free so that at least carts for food could still pass. We had had to restrict access through the bottleneck to the rear cave system and the unit's fortress, which was partially built into the rock on the other side of the passage. We simply could not secure rations because the fortress was already completely overcrowded. In addition, it was not entirely certain that the rear area did not have other hidden access points and that we would also have to reckon with an attack from below. I passed between many despairing faces, questioning or crying, soiled mines of children who just reached my waist, jaded warriors, grieving widows and orphans. Faces often given life only by the dancing glow of torches and blanket fires.
    It was supposed to be "day" - but what difference does it make down here? I hate the eternal darkness! I need a clear view of the sky again! At the beginning the escape from Asakku, the hell above and the exchange with the caves had been heavenly, but after centuries?
    A dark shadow jumped at me between the tents and immediately heaven and hell materialized at my back. But before I could even reach for them, the shadow had already collapsed and stopped stock-still in front of me. I wiped the sweat from my forehead. The long wait in tension was more deadly than anything else. Slowly, I exhaled noisily again.
    A small boy held a wooden sword raised in his hand looked at me from wide eyes. First stiff with shock, then with a grin as I gave him a fought smile. The mother was just behind him, pulling him away. His hair and strong and curved fingernails showed some animal form in the line of his family. Probably a half-Šĕdu or less. It did not matter. His smile wouldn't do him any good with the attackers either. He would certainly burn well ...
    The other Tulnar had all been born here. They had never known the open sky. They had never felt the weight of the rock over them as oppressive as I did. They had been happy - until the followers of the "Great Hope" came. After three defeats at short intervals, each time followed by retreats, our remaining troops were now all here. The people had lost their long trust in their previously highly praised leader Areimanios. Even in this camp, I had heard rumors about him that made me hiss each time. The so-called Order of Hope was fighting us poor bastards on all fronts and by all means.
    Nice play on words, may even be true sometimes. If only there had not been the union of these fanatics! We are all Tulnar - and probably in each of them there is a little bit of Lamassu and Šĕdu blood.
    But as it was always: The history was written by the winners and thus the name of Areimanios was denigrated and dragged in the dirt with actually completely unbelievable lies. Now animal-people or whatever families sought their last protection here with us. I let the twin daggers dip into the void again and continued my hopeless patrol, fully aware that all these people were certain of torture and death. Perhaps only imprisonment, but then they would wish for death.
    My future ...
    I wiped away the dull thoughts and tried to focus my gaze on the entrance where families were occasionally let through to the inside. I very much hoped that this would keep them safe. After all, we had worked the rocks behind the fortress at a narrow passage deeper into the nether realm in such a way that a guard permanently posted for the purpose could bring the ceiling down with a few blows. This would kill everyone in the perimeter and also doom the fortress. But they wouldn't get the rest of us inside for now. But the escape progressed much too slowly, as food and other supplies also had to be brought into the cave again and again. As we heard, many refugees had also been slaughtered on their way to us by self-appointed units of the order. I didn't think we could hold out for long, but Ari kept contradicting me. It was better.
    I went to the passageway to get inside and earned unruly abuse for it. My appearance would have given me enough space and fearful respect a few centuries ago, now I just looked like a rather common and young tulnar with horns to most here, just like quite a few others.
    "Hey you! Wait, like the rest of us!"
    "Get in line, you bitch!"
    "Orderly, over here!"
    Normally this kind of thing left me cold, but the last Anlichter had tugged too much on my nerves. I spread my short wings once and flapped them vigorously. Wind and astonishment drove the malcontents and more stupid words back a bit. There were a number of Tulnar, with similar, also short wings, but no one could move them properly anymore.
    Not that the little bit of twitching with them would do anything - except for some respect ...
    "At least let me and the children go first!"
    "I've already lost my husband, there must at least be room for ..."
    "I have a group of orphans here ..."
    The guards were not impressed and kept exactly the order. The captain on duty nodded at me strained at this. As far as I knew, Mainyu was his name. I whispered in his direction, "Reached the number today already?" He made a face as if he had swallowed vinegar and shrugged resignedly, "The last Anlichter together not even a thousand, we first need more material and breaks for the draft animals ..."
    Too little, there would have to be many more.
    "Areimanios has given me the power of attorney: Forget about the supplies, just let the people through. We'll have to take care of the supplies later - otherwise we won't need the rice either!"
    He nodded once briefly and clicked his heels together, "Thank you on behalf of everyone ... but there will soon be chaos once it becomes known that too little space ... food ...". He looked helplessly and embarrassed to the ground, "Anyway, not everyone will be able to get in until the fortress ..."
    "The fortress will hold! - Do you need more support here?"
    "Of course ... of course ... as you say ..."
    He had to shove a manlike man back into line, who was hurling some sort of savage insults.
    "We'll manage, preserver! Unfortunately, clubs, daggers, and axes, along with desperation in close quarters, do not guarantee good neighborliness ..." The forced confidence and hopeless hope in me gave me a sharp stab in the side, "My deepest thanks, Mainyu, without your efforts and your people ...".
    "Everyone has to do their part so that we all ... so that as many of us as possible get through this. It's not their fault." He made a wave to the line of people waiting, "If I was in that line there, I would also ..."
    "We'll make it!" Hopefully I sounded convincing enough. He pursed his lips, "You know I've been voting for the expansion here for some time ..."
    "Areimanios didn't have enough people for that, we were constantly in battles, had to protect all those people."
    "Now if we don't lose more than we saved before ...". He shook his head, dropped his shoulders and said sadly, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be disrespectful ..."
    Suddenly, a crowd of hands started further back among the waiting people. He ran off with a brief further apology. From a distance, I could see him push a beefy man in front of him, say some angry words, and send him further back for punishment. At least the brief action caused things to quieten down considerably in the queue again. That's when I stepped inside.

    Quietly, I closed the door behind me.
    Finally silence! A place of security, escape from the madness. Still.
    I was in the private study of Areimanios, who was bending over a battle plan. While doing so, I briefly gave a report on the situation at the entrance.
    Apparently distracted and somehow resigned, he just muttered, "Mmmm-hmmm." He wouldn't show himself like that to anyone but me. But I had never seen him so ... vulnerable. When I left our room this morning, he hadn't been like this.
    "Did something specific happen? Was there a message?" I asked hesitantly.
    "I still have to think about it, work out the plans here ..."
    "You won't be much use to us if you're so finished ..." I firmly grabbed his hand and pulled him with me. At that, I lowered my head, gave him a pouty look, and slowly unbuckled my armor.
    "Lilith, no ..." It didn't sound convincing. I pushed him toward the bed.

    Later, the alarm horns woke us. Still, he seemed relaxed now. He thanked me, gave me a quick kiss, then jumped angrily from the camp. Suddenly the sound of horns was joined by marching drums. All this was reflected back a hundred times from the cave walls, so that an army of wind and percussion instruments could be heard. I stood up as well and dressed with an annoyed snort. Then we both stepped outside the door onto a large balcony of the fortress.
    Normally one could not see far down here, as the narrower caverns kept going around corners. On the other hand, one could hear much farther than on the surface. Our vantage point, however, had a good view of the huge cave dome level in front. Since the wide area was dark, but completely illuminated, one could even see the other entrances from here in the distance. There, one could now see a great lindworm of approaching warriors and chariots. The torches were reflected in their armor. Areimanios had thus abandoned our entire territory in front of it. No one who counted himself among us would be alive there now. He withdrew the last of his forces to the fortress. Defying my frightened look, he said grimly, "Here we will finally put a stop to them!"
    └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐ ... Reputation and Name – history is written by the winners … └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐
  • Together one last time

    Temple of Hope, lowest level
    Further generations after the Great Defeat

    By now we had already reached the middle between full stand and dark fall. My throat scratched and I moaned softly. I had not told so much in a short time for a long time - never? - told.
    "Phew! Silver is nice, but now I need a longer break first ..."
    Promptly new pieces of silver jingled on the table in front of me. Significantly more than had been agreed upon. Talking had pretty much worn me out, but otherwise I was still in good shape. So I fixed the remains of the wound and sent him a shot of pure essence. It could be a little more. His eyebrows shot up and his hand to his face. I smiled in satisfaction.
    He cleared his throat, "Thank you, Lil... I mean, my most sincere and obliging thanks Ms. Landlady!". He smiled too, just nowhere near as self-satisfied as I was. Somewhere I had seen this before ...
    "I will leave first thing in the morning, I guess I can stay the night, but then it is better to be far away."
    At my questioning look, he tapped the now almost healed wound, "It's not going to happen by itself!"
    "What ...?"
    He immediately interrupted me with a shake of his head and a, "Shhhh, shhh, shhh! - I pay and you tell, not the other way around" And with that he put on his disarming smile again, stepped unasked behind the counter and brought up water, "So, now I'll make the food -without paying- and you save your voice and get some rest. Go outside if you wish and trust me. You can leave your dog here. After that we will eat and lastly tonight I would like to hear from your mouth the rest of the fall of the Unity Fortress..."
    Had I already said something about the downfall? The man was too well informed ...
    I didn't know why, but I trusted him, "Deal!"
    Maybe I just needed some free time at last. Or maybe I didn't care about anything, or maybe the memories were once again getting to me after the telling. In any case, with a grateful nod, I left without further words, enjoying several notches of the glorious afternoon sun that glistened long between the trees.
    How many centuries did I have to wait for this?
    But all too soon Darkfall arrived and I had given my word. So I ran back and could smell a warm meal already outside the door. It felt so good not to have made it myself. Back in the house, however, I had to say the following to my temporary host: "I'll eat and I'll tell you more, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about the festivities. Now I would like to tell you first of all about afterwards. About the almost endless period of time in which I was allowed to regret the outcome of the story about the feast. Night after night. For day never came again.
    Tomorrow you may wake me early, then comes your part."

    * * *

    Asakku had not given me any names. If he wanted, then he simply called me slave or sometimes also "my mat". The order had better ideas. For his followers there was always only black and white. And a woman with horns, wings, goat's feet, weapons and the ability to quickly turn wounded opponents back against them definitely did not belong in their white category.
    So I became one of the most wanted demonesses for them, which they dubbed "The Witch Of The Night, Night Wind, The Temptress or The Deceiver". Of course, I was still just one of many they were looking for and wanted to exterminate. All pure or half Lamassu, Šĕdu or otherwise. We were simply demons to them and thus all the evil there could be. Against the natural order. Adversely natural. Monsters. Without any differentiation.
    And with that, they began their holy persecution against each of us, cleansing the caves of the vermin they thought we were. And left only ashes on black rock and burnt, dark halls.
    At some point, they had gotten to me. Decades ago? Centuries? And they had sacrificed a great deal of effort and energy to torture me as comprehensively as possible. In the Temple of Hope, I was doomed from the beginning to spend the rest of my existence on the lowest level, in what was probably the smallest and darkest cell. There I was forced into a rigid, kneeling position in which I had to constantly gaze at their stupid symbol. Of course, only when there was some dim light on rare occasions, for example during the interrogations, which were even more frequent in the beginning.
    I was the dropped stone in deep well, the old bone buried in the ground, the unloved memory that was slowly fading away. Unthinkably long I saw no more spark of light as the eternities ate at me, my mind, my body. A terrible fate for someone who had known and appreciated the sun and free skies above the endless sea of sand. I could die, but by your timing, that would never happen.
    Is that why you ... hate us so much? Do you also want to live that long, to have to agonize? Why? And how long do I have to suffer this? Centuries more? Millennia? I can't go on!
    Any Aela or Tulnar would have gone mad even in his short life, but my transformed soul was incapable of this salvation. Lamassu lived and suffered almost infinitely. And incomprehensibly, I myself still did not want to die, without really admitting it to myself. Did I still believe in any hope?
    A coal-iron clamp held my hip hard against the wall, too low to stand, too high to squat. Ankles and wrists were additionally secured with chains, each so short that I could never stretch my legs properly. The hand chains, on the other hand, were forged to the rock wall, so that I constantly had to keep my arms stretched out wide on both sides. Before the ban runes, a transformation into my originally more petite Vaelune form might have helped, but as it was, I was doomed in this position for all eternity. After the first few hours in this position, I had been shrieking my throat out for weeks at a stretch, which nobody cared about - or more likely, this is what those who heard it wished. But when they had enough of my singing, they gave me a special kind of bronze gag: a kind of small bowl in front of the mouth, fixed with metal bands around the head and neck. This part held a round structure in my mouth via a screw that could be spread by turning it.
    Of course, on the first day they had already turned it so wide open that I felt my teeth coming out of my nose. This made any vocalization that was additionally provoked by it impossible, but the attempts alone felt like extra fire on the roof of my mouth once again. To top it off, the neck straps of this contraption barely allowed my head to turn, so I was bound to be purged, by constantly looking at their stupid symbol....
    And although this caused even more pain every single time, instead of alleviating it, I moved from time to time. Then sometimes a gurgle escaped me, bringing more explosions of color and fire in my head. Once again a bracket squeaked, a chain rattled slightly. And once again, powerless, I managed to fidget once briefly with the useless wings, as far as the rough, cold wall at my back and the spiked chain would allow, senselessly wrapped even around this relic of Asakku.
    I choked ... again. Hoped that my eyes would finally find tears again. Then one of the glances into the infinite darkness before me. Again the same thoughts about the end, about eternity. An ever turning wheel of endless torture. Repetition upon repetition of hopes and fears, clanking of chains, pain, imprecations, squeals, despair ...
    There was absolutely nothing I could do about my situation. And yet I had already thought about it a hundred times, a thousand times .... And did it again and again. Normally, even with my abilities, this situation would not have been so bad. Chains and support were one thing, power over essence another. But I really couldn't do anything, not even heal myself or take away my pain, because as a feared demon, I had been burned with the Great Banishing Rituals all over my body, binding runes that kept me powerless more than anything else.
    I should hate them all. My hatred alone should burn them all to ashes. Brothers, sisters, hope, despair. No matter. All formerly Aela, now so-called Tulnar. That I had at some time once with-gotten. A mixture of everything. And they imagined they could judge me. As if they were something better, purer ...
    I should hate them all! All Tulnar, all one.
    And the truth was: I hated them all.
    In my imagination I had had glorious images in my mind: how I had flayed the skin of the members of the Brotherhood, or even better, of the Sisterhood, the Run'wirkers, alive, which they then had to chew while still fully conscious. The rest was flambéed, cut into smallest pieces and the crushed bites were thrown to the mice - and even the mice I had turned through the meat grinder. Or I had carefully and artfully removed their organs piece by piece under life support and eaten them with relish myself before their eyes ...
    Of course, I would have dissected the simple Tulnar relatively quickly.
    But these fantasies did not last long. The only blood and pain down here came from me and stayed for me.
    I was soon far too weak for such creative thoughts. Most importantly, time -lots of time- makes you see things, even in total darkness, much more clearly: No one here was to blame, it had all come about through the fall and through being down here too desperate, too lost. Still, I would have been enormously grateful if these madmen had not taken such advantage of me.
    But my hatred had gone to runes, metal and darkness.
    And when will the rest follow?
    └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐ ... Reputation and Name – history is written by the winners … └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐
  • The novel killed the thread for me. I hope it enhances the RP aspect of the game for someone.
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  • Sorry, I didn't want to disturb too much. Just wished that more people are interested in the story of Verra and the return. Still have the hope, that when I write more, sometimes a GM will give some informations ;)
    └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐ ... Reputation and Name – history is written by the winners … └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐
  • Well, if my story is just disturbing, I'll stop here.
    Anyhow, I've still plenty of words in my pipeline and won't stop writing for myself of course. So, if I will find here a (somehow) positive comment and if there is someone who wish a continue, please give me a post.
    └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐ ... Reputation and Name – history is written by the winners … └╟_¦ | ¦¯╢┐
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