• Last Seen: 5 mos ago
  • Old Guild Username: RosenRot
  • Joined: 9 yrs ago
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Recent Statuses

5 mos ago
Current Made it through yet another holiday season having never watched a single Hallmark movie. 10/10, #blessed
8 mos ago
Cnt'd: I'm still traumatized by my coworker who came in on her day off and said "What else am I gonna do? Sit around eating bonbons?" And I just cannot comprehend having nothing to do ever in my life.
8 mos ago
@StarWight, everyone thinks they're alive until you ask them what they do for fun and have to watch them speedrun the five stages of grief as they realize they're an NPC.
1 yr ago
Fishing? I thought it was boar hunting season out here. ;P
1 yr ago
...Called in the cavalry but y'all still couldn't come correct.


Most Recent Posts

“I’m terribly sorry about that, Tharos. I was, obviously, on edge. I still am, if I’m being honest…” The elf-maiden apologized and explained with the intertwining, flowing syllables of the New Fae tongue. She sat at the only table, placed directly in the middle of the modest study. Shelves lined the surrounding walls, but most were empty, while the others were half-filled at best. A single oil-lamp on the tabletop cast its orange light and flickering shadows around the room.

Too lost in thought, she didn’t look at him as he moved to sit. Instead, her grim gaze stared through the worn rug at their feet while her mind raced for how to explain.

Thessi glanced quickly towards her brother’s shirt, which was already spotless again, thanks to a little magic unbinding the blood from the cloth. “Here.” She slid it across the table to her brother, then returned to nervously wringing her hands. “Easy fix.” She said, buying herself another moment to think.

Finally, she blurted out a statement as simple as it was vague: “It spoke to me.”

There was a moment of fretful hesitation before she continued. “That Which Breathes Below, it… it spoke to me.” Another momentary pause while her fingertips tapped the tabletop, giving her train of thought an opportunity to jump tracks.

“...Do you remember the stories that Grandmother used to tell us? About when she was young and small, and still… still living on the Conquered World? About how their gods lived among them?” Thessi rambled on, before stopping again to search his face, making sure he was following. “She said they ruled from mighty temples, where only their most devout acolytes could enter, because the very presence of a true god could be lethal to the uninitiated, cause others to collapse, even break bones and cause hemorrhaging…” She took a deep breath, preparing to face the feeling of recollecting what she’d felt in her own brief but poignant encounter.

“I think that’s what it is… a god.” Her voice quieted, as though something might manifest at the behest of just a word. “When it spoke to me, I felt like I was being crushed from all directions. Its voice chilled me through every vein, down through my very spine, with merely a whisper.” She drummed her fingers along the table again. “And that voice… or voices… I can’t begin to describe.” She continued, then gave a sudden, odd chuckle. “It was worse than the most pretentious poets back home, these strange languages all speaking over and between each other…”

She finally looked at Tharos for more than an instant, with mounting fear continuing to darken her expression. “Grandmother said that the gods destroyed the Old World with their grudges and their games...” She suddenly gripped his hand, a little too tight for comfort, and leaned forward intently. “What if this is the beginning of another terrible end?”

In the shadow of the cliff-face, bright crescents of steel flashed under the violet moons’-light.

Antigone held her twin daggers at the ready as she spoke.

“You are the outsider here, rhysh-alir. She said, the Sartoi slur hissing through her teeth. Hornless One, a trespasser, an outsider.

Her eyes locked on the armed and shielded figure beside the strange creature. She’d definitely seen things like it before, unlike the thing trying to speak. However, she’d never seen one move, didn’t know that they could. The long-inanimate machines were sold for top coin as decorative artifacts, ancient remnants of whatever society had lived amongst the dunes before the first Exiles had arrived.

It did not rush to attack her, but she suspected it would defend the stuttering creature if she made her move, since the thing readied no weapon of its own. Unsure of the automaton’s capabilities, Antigone opted for the diplomatic alternative.

There could be something valuable in this discovery, after all.

She stepped forward into the waning moons’ light, lowering her daggers halfway in response to the machine matching her advance.With her restless eyes darting back and forth between them, reflecting the different hues of moonlight, she kept watch on both of them. She noted the sled full of ancient technology near the bizarre pair, more or less confirming to her that the croaking one could utilize the Masari relics. If she could bring this thing into the fold, her family’s ever-growing ‘influence’ in Thermopoli could turn into something much more significant, much more secure.

“To whom do you swear loyalty?” Antigone said with a bit of a sneer, but still lowered her weapons a fraction more. With a flick of her thumb, a ring twisted loose near the hilt of one dagger. Weapon still in-hand, the Satyr flipped the ring like a coin then flicked it in Twitch’s direction. “Whatever they’re paying you, we’ll give you double in Thermopoli,” she gave a sarcastic little bow, while her arm gestured wide towards the direction she’d come from, “the cliff-city within the steppe.” She clarified and pointed more intentionally. “Show that ring to any Satyr there and they’ll take you where you need to go.”

However the insectoid thing responded didn’t matter much to Antigone. If it accepted her offer, she’d be glad for the easier path. If it denied her… Well, as long as it stood on this world, a creature so conspicuous couldn’t hide from Nessioi’s assassin-cultists for very long.

Either way, she still had her business at the Black Spire.

A quick whistle from Antigone, and Useful lifted its head. Sand poured from the beast’s fuzzy maw as it crunched down another mouthful. The Satyr leapt nimbly back into the saddle, resting her daggers on her leather-plated thighs. “I hope to see you there, Strange One.”

“Oh! Oh… I… Oh, no.” Thessi stammered, leaning away from Bartholomew.

He, her pupil, had just managed to sneak a brief kiss onto her lips, quite unexpectedly.

A nervous smile curled Thessi’s lips before she could politely hide it behind her delicate hand. Rings on all of her thin fingers glinted in the cozy orange light of a nearby lamp.

She considered for a quick moment.

Bartholomew wasn’t necessarily unattractive, for a human, at least. Skin tanned from hours of recreation under the desert suns, fine muscles discernible even under his loose shirt, thick brown hair curling just above his dark brows and striking blue eyes.

Still… at a mere 35 years of age, he was just so… young.

Quickly, she stood and began gathering her things. The delicate chiming of jewelry accompanied her movements as the elf-maiden shoved loose sheets of parchment into a leather-bound book and placed her vibrant quill and a vial of wizards’ ink into their case. She stooped to grab a few fallen pages from the thick rug beneath her silk-slippered feet. Each turn of her head shook the fine chains and sparkling stones hanging about her long ears.

With all of her belongings finally in hand, she moved to step away from the table. Bartholomew grabbed her wrist and said, “I just want to be somebody that means something to you.” There was a flood of sincerity in his words, so much that it seemed forced. There was something equally unsettling about the way his grip on her tightened, trying to keep her tethered next to him.

That was too much, to impose on her person in such a way. She felt her temper threatening to snap.

A silent, momentary challenge passed between them as she looked from their hands to his face, before pulling hers away with a pointed jerk. His grip, no matter how strong, meant little to an elf. The following curl of her lip was nothing less than a snarl for just a moment, accompanied by the hum of mana concentrating around her. A deep breath lifted her breast as her fist clenched amidst the growing wisps of shadow beginning to orbit it.

She could do it. She could simply drop him through the floor, to wherever things went when they couldn’t escape her Void.

Behind her, a jagged gash cut the air itself. It opened and another hand appeared, one so pale that the animated web of black veins writhed visibly within. It jutted out from the Void as the tear continued to peel open with a sickening sound like flesh rending. Some unidentifiable fluid dripped from the hand and dribbled from the swirling edge of the gash itself.

Thessi finally exhaled. While she continued staring down the seated man, the Void Walker reached out and slipped her own hand into the reaching one.

“We have been good friends, Bartholomew, but I believe you should find a new tutor now.” Thessi said with a smile, bright like the edge of a cutting blade to match the cold steel of her eyes. The flabbergasted man watched her turn with his mouth still hanging slightly agape.

Led along by the hand’s gentle pull, Thessi stepped through the tear. “It was just a- …kiss.” The dejected voice carried through as she disappeared into the darkness beyond the lamp-light’s reach.

In her place, an eye, massive and lidless, appeared. It came closer and closer to the tear until it pressed against the edges, stretching them with its curved girth, threatening to come through.

It stared at him until he was sure the swirling black iris would somehow drag him down into its hollow spiral. Too afraid to move, he could only let the fear spread across his features. When Bartholomew seemed sufficiently horrified, the eye retreated and the gash stitched itself closed again with squelching, reaching threads.

In the dim, cavernous space on the other side of the portal, Thessi muttered angrily to herself while she awaited the opening of the exit. With a huff, she straightened her corset and knocked a fold from her skirts. “...’come study the arcane with me, I can’t configure this glyph properly’…” She went on in a mocking tone of Bartholomew’s voice. “Stupid, stupid-”

A rumble beneath her feet cut her sentence short.

“Oh? Do you have something to contribute?” Thessi snapped, looking upwards, to where some distant light cast the foggy silhouette of a massive heart against a towering, membranous curtain. The shadowed heart throbbed in slow, colossal rhythm, pumping that strange, thick, black blood through the web of veins and capillaries that wove their way over the surrounding tissues.

The visceral surface she stood upon fell rapidly in a sharp, exasperated exhale.

A smaller rift appeared near Thessi’s feet. Through it, she could see a richly furnished room where a gaggle of young men, both humans and elves, lounged on couches and in armchairs. None of them noticed the peephole above them.

“That stuck-up bitch thinks she’s too good for you, too, eh?” A familiar voice scoffed.

“I told you so.” Another familiar voice chimed in.

“Whatever. At least I don’t have to pretend to be her friend anymore.” A third voice, Bartholomew’s, grumbled from his brooding perch on a couch.

“Not to mention that freaky… what do they call it? Void magic? Her brother’s got it, too.”

Thessi’s jaw clenched as the exchange went on.

Eventually, the group of rejected suitors revealed their intent to merely marry into her family’s substantial wealth.

She was trying, and failing to smother her temper a second time, so focused on steadying her breathing that she didn’t notice her own hand moving reflexively.

The spy-hole snapped closed just before a dagger sank into the flesh where it had been. Thessi had pulled the blade from its hidden sheath in her corset and intended, however subconsciously, to fling it through the portal.

A groan echoed around her.

“Oh, no! I’m so sorry. I didn’t-” She poured apologies as she retrieved her knife. The black blood slithered off the blade of its own accord and Thessi slid it back into its home within her bodice.

“Thank you.” Gratitude weighed on her words, having realized that her patron had kept her from doing something very stupid. After all, sending a dagger with her esteemed family’s crest molded into the pommel through a young aristocrat’s throat was hardly befitting of a respectable elf-maiden.

Thessi watched the wound that her dagger had made as it healed in seconds. All the spilled fluid retracted itself before the puncture closed, as if Time itself wound backwards just a little bit, for just that little cluster of matter.

She gazed back up at the slowly-beating heart.

“Will you ever speak to me? Will you ever tell me what you are, or of the world you live in?” Thessi asked suddenly with poignant existential curiosity in her voice.

The distant beat of the colossal heart marked each stretching, tensing moment of silence as it passed.

Thessi abandoned her expectation of an answer, when a whisper pressed right against her ear. In the very corner of her vision, she could barely see tendrils of black curls undulating slowly, each one leaving a trace of itself lingering behind as it moved. Lips colored by the black blood flowing within brushed her skin and sent a chill like no other down her spine.

“I may speak, but I haven’t much to say.”

The voice spoke in overlapping languages. Some hissed and some purred and some rumbled like thunder. The many tongues made a chimera of words meant for many worlds, as if each word would somehow find its way into a different ear that would understand, somewhere, sometime.

Thessi felt her knees weakening, her eyes rolling, her blood pounding. The pressure of the whisperer’s presence was crushing her, though all the while she felt that she might simply explode. Black-veined arms held her steady as she began to collapse.

Then, she was falling, falling much faster and further than a simple faint to the floor.

The comforting warmth of the Void was ripped away and on the edge of consciousness, she recognized the familiar chilly bite of desert-night air.

Her fluttering eyelids managed to open just as the rift above her was closing. As awareness returned to her body, she realized that she’d been laid prone on a soft carpet. She sat up and found herself in the dim, unoccupied living space of the rented home she was sharing with her brother and their companion. The moons’ light came through the tall windows, casting a violet hue over everything.

The echo of the whisperer’s strange voice haunted her thoughts, sending another wave of fear over her.

She hadn’t much time to consider the events further, though.

On edge, she whipped around at the sound of the front doors’ latch being undone. One hand came alight with magic, while the others’ fingertips danced against the hilt of her dagger.

When her brother staggered through the door, she relaxed. “Damn you, scaring me like that.” She said, as if her standing alone in the darkened home, poised to fight, wasn’t strange in and of itself.

With a clap of her slender hands, an oil-lamp flickered to life on a nearby table. Thessi sighed heavily as soon as she took one look at her twin, and the dark stain of blood down his chin and onto his shirt, his dusty, tousled hair, and- gods, was he missing a boot?

Then again, what else were brothers for, if not embarrassing her and the family…

“Well, come on, then, let’s have a look.” She said, taking his face in her hands and turning it side to side. Thessi winced at the sight of his still-crooked nose. At least something about this night was normal.

“Let’s get you cleaned up before anyone else sees you and Father sends us another letter about our ‘mutual responsibility to maintain the social standing of our proud and noble line, carried through the eons by dutiful scions such as ourselves.’ Thessi said, forcing her voice deeper into a parody of their father’s while she quoted him.

Since she could actually see what she was doing, she easily straightened his nose with a tiny zap of basic healing magic, then took his bloodied shirt and left him to wash off the rest. He could take care of replacing his boot, too. A barefoot walk to the cobbler’s might teach him a lesson.

She hesitated on the other side of the closed door to the bath. She could hear the crude, noisy pump already filling the tub. Finally, she called through the door: “Meet me in that room that barely passes for a ‘study’ when you’re done. Something strange has happened to me, and we must discuss.”

Antigone kneeled before her father, her face downturned and eyes ever-restless as always. Unable to stop herself, her eyes counted every little stone, every discernable fleck of rock and sand within her field of vision. Every detail was observed, noted, and translated. Who had walked there and where they had come from and what that might mean for the assassin-heiress.

“Find out why Black Spire suddenly needs so much more… sustenance… than usual.” Nessioi commanded with his voice like gravel grating on stone. He took a leisurely drag from the hookah beside him, where he lounged perpetually on a cushioned dias at the center of his audience chamber. “The truth of it, my dear Antigone, however you can obtain it. If Ferenczy means to make a move on the mortal civilizations, I’d like to buy our way out of that conflict before it starts.” The Old Goat continued through a cloudy exhalation of sweet-smelling smoke.

Antigone was grateful to be bent below the lingering layer of mind-warping haze, though less grateful for being sent to the wamphyri stronghold. The mere thought of the heinous symbiotes and their ancient lord sent a chill through her copper skin, but business was business, and the wamphyri were very profitable clients.

Despite her disquiet, she replied: “Of course.” Her contralto voice had a surprisingly rich tone despite her slight frame. She rose and turned in one quick, fluid motion. Her sand-toned skirts sliced soundlessly through the air, and her cloven feet left not a whisper upon the dark sandstone floor. Antigone would not be heard, unless she wanted to.

Guards straightened as she passed, each giving a respectful nod, though she was nearly two feet shorter than they, without even accounting for the lengthy horns curving backward ever so slightly over their dark-haired heads, making the spears in their hands almost seem thricely redundant.

She made her way through her father’s sprawling palace within the red rock of Thermopoli, through ornately-carved corridors, past countless intricate tapestries, crossing thick carpets rich in both colors and designs, stopping only to fill her supply pack along the way. From her own apartments, she retrieved a gold and ruby amulet adorned with the crest of the wamphyri lord, a symbol decrying her certain level of diplomatic immunity on their land. She would hang it around her neck later, but first, into her pack it went, so that no one within the city might discern her destination. Along with the amulet, she collected the other basic trappings for a brief journey into the Dune Seas: some light rations, a waterskin, and, most notably, a heavy layered-canvas tent that would be her only protection if she found herself caught in a sudden sandstorm.

Finally, she stepped out into the shadowed courtyard at the center of the city. There, a ceaselessly-tended olive tree, once merely a tiny seedling that had first sprouted on another world, the World That Was Lost, still grew with its gnarled roots dug into sandy soil that was continually nourished by its caretakers. Generations of young satyrs had honed their natural agility as they harvested the purple-gray olives amongst its sprawling branches, which reached upward past several layers of the city.

Through the tree’s canopy, Antigone could see the suns’ set streaking its first colors across the desert sky far above. Soon, the cool hours of the night would settle into the sands of the Western Dune Seas that stretched between Thermopoli and the dreaded Black Spire.

Antigone tightened the thick leather strap across her chest, securing her pack, before leaping up onto the ledge of the next floor. With the ease of much practice, her hooves found purchase on the tiny lip of railing while she calculated her next leap. A housekeeper gasped loudly at Antigone’s sudden appearance, nearly dropping the neatly folded linens she carried. Without apology, the assassin-heiress was already bounding towards the next ledge. She wouldn’t waste a minute of the night’s mercy by taking the long way through the ever-crowded subterranean city. She could suffer the heat of the day if needed, sure, but she wished to save her strength, lest she find herself caught off-guard at the Spire, and risk becoming just another source of “sustenance” for the tower’s residents.

Antigone vaulted over the final railing surrounding the city’s uppermost layer and passed through the open doors of Thermopoli, which were closed only in times of imminent threat. The passage was crowded with carts and the stout beasts that pulled them as the many petty merchants, artisans, and traders made their nightly commute to the market on the surface of the steppe. Lines of shops, stalls, and stands wound around the rim of the city in a bustling web of thriving commerce.

The small satyr melded with the diverse patrons making their various ways through the narrow aisles between the stalls that were selling everything from new pottery to street food. Antigone plucked a snack of candied fruits speared on a skewer from one of the food-stalls, but the shopkeeper denied her attempt to pay with a fearful gesture. “No charge. No, no charge, Lady Antigone. No charge.” The sweaty man repeated himself until she put her heavy purse back into her pack. He dabbed at his forehead with a dingy cloth once she had disappeared back into the crowd. Whatever debt he must owe Nessioi wasn’t her business that night.

The vast majority of the market’s patrons passed her by without notice. Towering elves stooped to peruse the multitudinous wares, some in elegant urban dresses and others in the utilitarian outfittings of desert nomads, while dwarvish crafters shouldered their way through the throngs in an eager search for their kin, with whom they would trade their differing minerals, metals, and other materials from the mine-cities that were bored into mountains near and far.

At the edge of the market, Antigone pressed her way towards a stable where beasts of burden of every description were tethered. Reptilian bogas shook their feathery manes at each other, scaled heads bobbing in communication, bodies moving to adjust the heavy leather saddles on their backs. The piercing screeches of two saber-toothed hares mingled with the sudden shouts of their keepers as an altercation ensued between the animals.

Upon sighting Antigone, a stablehand hurried away after a deep bow towards the assassin-heiress and returned swiftly with a leadrope in hand. Emerging from the stable behind the worker, came a beast that most simply called a Six-Stride, though some older elves still used the name their ancient ancestors had given it: Sleipnah’o’duhai, a multisyllabic mouthful which directly translated to some poetic phrase about a legendary beast that ‘eats the desert.’ Antigone simply called the thing Useful.

Feral herds of the six-legged beasts still roamed all of the Dune Seas indiscriminately. Their pale coats were just thick enough to protect their skin, while reflecting the searing suns’ light. At night, the creatures were practically fluorescent under the magenta moonligh. Still, they were much too skittish and too swift for the desert’s predators to catch with any regularity, and so their numbers were limited almost entirely by the availability of what little water they needed to survive.

Useful, however, was a domesticated variety bred specifically for traveling discreetly at night by Antigone’s own assassin ancestors. Its darker coat wasn’t reflective like that of its wild kin, and the decreased thermoregulation was mitigated by life in a stable. Not great for prolonged ventures into the desert, but Useful could assuredly carry Antigone to the Black Spire by sunrise.

She nodded thanks to the stablehand, who backed away with another bow. After she’d attached her pack to Useful’s saddle, she gave a quiet whistle like the distant whoop-call of a nigthbird and the creature kneeled with a wheezy little grunt. Even kneeling, the animal’s back was nearly too high for Antigone to see over. It turned to sniff her and laid its heavy head on her shoulder. Antigone huffed impatiently, but begrudgingly gave Useful a few stiff pats on its muscular neck before hopping up into the smaller fore-compartment of the large saddle.

Another whistle-whoop and Useful stood again. Antigone settled into her seat and tapped the heels of her hooves against the beast’s shoulders. Useful eagerly alighted into a brisk trot, picking its own path through the thinning crowd at the edge of the market. Once they reached the open sand, Antigone wheeled the beast towards the west after a quick glance at the stars above. Another tap from her heels, and Useful accelerated into a smooth gallop.

Trusting Useful to maintain their course through whatever sense the Six-Strides possessed to guide them across the desert to seasonal oases which sustained them, Antigone soon climbed back into the larger of the saddle’s compartments. She laid back on the cushion there and the sounds of Useful’s three pairs of flat feet slapping rhythmically against the sand lulled Antigone to sleep. She knew that the beast would spot any approaching threat long before she could, waking her with-

That wheezing grunt snapped Antigone out of slumber. Something was amiss, making Useful uneasy. The satyr assassin sat up and scanned the horizon for movement. Finding nothing, she glanced again at the sky. The moons had already passed each other, meaning her journey was just over halfway complete. Halfway between points of civilization was not a great place to be isolated and ambushed. Still, there were no ominous shadows of a building sandstorm across the sky either, so what had spooked Useful?

Antigone looked around again and finally spotted an odd glow just beyond the edge of the cliff-face that marked the border of the Gray-Skins’ land, where anyone found after dark without appropriate business with the wamphyri’s lord was fair game for his… progeny. Antigone slowed Useful to a quiet walk as they approached the light, which flickered like a campfire though the glow it cast was quite blue, even under the violet night sky.

As Useful approached the edge, Antigone could see the shadow of a gully in the sand, leading to a fresh cut in the scarlet sandstone where something quite large had recently smashed through the cliff-face. Chunks of the bright stone looked especially red against the sand under the light of the Morrigans’ Moon as it sank towards the Southern horizon.

Antigone bid her mount to kneel again and left Useful’s noisy bulk out of sight as she approached the cliff-face. She dropped to the sand and peaked over the edge to spot the source of the blue light. It was, in fact, surprisingly enough, a small fire perhaps ten meters below her.

She squinted, struggling to make out the shape of the figure near the fire, only to fail at suppressing a reflexive jerk backwards once she began to discern the details.

What in the fuck…

Antigone had seen many, many strange things in her travels, but nothing like what she had just seen reaching out to tend the fire.

Whatever it was, it wasn’t a one of the Runner’s Rangers maintaining the truce-boundary from the ravenous young wamphyri, and it wasn’t one of Ferenczy’s fledglings, camped near the border in hopes of catching some lost traveler unaware, and that meant it wasn’t her problem. She had her orders.

She soundlessly pushed herself back from the ledge and returned to Useful, leading the creature a little ways down the cliff’s edge until she was sure nothing could see that far in the desert-dark, if it hadn’t already seen her peak over the ledge. The cliff had just enough slope to it that anything nimble enough could pick its path down with surmountable difficulty.

Antigone continued to lead while behind her, Useful had slightly more trouble finding its footing and sent a few loose bits of sandstone tumbling down the incline. The sound of the rocks was muffled by the sand, but something on the desert floor began to wail and flash a bright red light.

Antigone immediately looked back towards the fire, and saw it blocked by the shadow of a standing figure, while she and Useful froze in shock from the deafening sound and blinding light, so clearly illuminated by the strobe of an automated sentinel staked into nearby sand.

"I crawl right to the mouth of the wolf, tryna feel my way.
I am the sudden loss of control, just a moment away."

Recycled nightmares, or perhaps merely memories, stretched and distorted as the cerebral scenarios played across a dormant mind. Some things were more vivid than others.

She hugged her mother for the last time…

…the smell of death…

She came to the new, terrible world…

…the smell of death…

She realized that the back-up battery was no longer working…

…the smell of death…

Once-rapid movements of closed eyes had long, long since stilled. She no longer had eyes to move. The desiccated lids pulled away from each other, revealing slivers of the hollows within. All of her softer tissues had withered, clinging to the long bones that had slowly slumped downward, freed from those tendons and ligaments that had held them in order.

How long had she been dead in this damned box? No way to tell, though it felt nearly as long as she’d spent alive… awake… free…

Nothing got in, nothing got out.

That had been the point, hadn’t it?

And it worked.

Whatever eons wheeled through the firmament far above could thrust no trace deep enough into the earth to reach her.


Nothing at all.

Nothing, until that faint, quivering, feeble halo pulsed into perception. Fluttering life force, miniscule web of mana wrapped around vital organs, fragile like a butterfly, fragile like…

…A human?

Oh, that was so much worse…

How many would it take? What if it was just the one?

A moment’s pause for a deep breath, as if she still needed one, as if there was any air left in the damned box, as if her lungs weren’t mixed into the same homogenized pool around her ankles as was all of the rest of her.

“Blessings and curses both lie in the beholder’s eye.”

Or some such sentiment passed on by that bitter bitch who’d raised her. She had been too stubborn to die, too.

That’s how she’d ended up here, after all.

…fragile like a butterfly, body and mind, ready to crack like spun glass at the slightest tap…


She watched the pulsating emanation flare for a moment.


Another swell in the mortal’s mana.


A tremble, then a flicker, and the web turned a more familiar shade.


Whether days or hours passed, either way, other halos joined the first and the more there were, the faster they approached.

So close. So very, very…

One orb descended rapidly, then extinguished altogether a moment later.

Poor bastard must have fallen…

Whatever happened to the-

A new shape appeared. Two in fact, though one was thoroughly eclipsed by the brighter, stronger force. No pulse, no life to be found in either of them, only a steady emanation from both. Different from her own and yet still…


As that pair approached, the miners busied themselves with lowering each other into the vault. She watched their little lives huddle around her, felt the vibrations of their tools as her sheer will alone, that whispering compulsion, gnawing on their minds, forced them to swing again and again with all their might until-

At last what she could only assume was the mortals’ master, or masters, finally arrived.

Quicker than her sluggish, rousing consciousness could process, someone pried the lid from her horrible little prison. Putrid fluid spilled out immediately, releasing all the stenches of rot. She heard, for the first time in- the wretched gods only knew -how long, several pairs of feet skid backwards on the sand-dusted floor.

Sand? All the way down here? Impossible! Even under this wretched world...

Huddled bones remained within the tiny chamber. Frail, dead hands wrapped around some… something… glowing just enough to cast a sickly green fog over a slice of the room. The miners spoke quickly and fearfully to each other in their simple language, already-pale faces turned nearly white beneath the verdant mask.

One of them bolted for the rope and crude harness attached, clear across the vault.

The green glow brightened, and the miner’s legs buckled. Sand swirled slowly around the chamber, sticking in the rancid puddle just before the casket. The miner tried to crawl towards his escape, but instead began to slide towards the growing light. One by one, his bones began to snap as he neared the little chamber, starting with his feet. When the next bone snapped, the previous one contorted, twisting his legs around like so much bleeding candy being shaped, until white fragments pierced his skin.

The mortal’s agonized wails couldn’t cover the sound of his pelvis splintering beneath some crushing, unseen force. The harrowing seconds finally brought him within reach of an incredibly long arm. The skeletal limb whipped out like a viper’s strike and snatched the human’s mangled ankle. Remnants of skin cracked and fell away from her with the movement, while little threads of that same green light wrapped and flowed around the bones beneath.

With one hand removed, the source of the green glow was revealed to be not in her hands, but jammed deep into her exposed sternum. Little webs of healed bone wove around the junction between the strange stone and its vessel. The stone had been there for quite some time before she had died.

The other miners found themselves frozen in terror, except for the quivering of their legs, as if every muscle tensed in anctipication of their flight-response restored. Forced to watch by their own fear, they saw their fellow man hollowed out until his remaining bones collapsed and were ground to dust by the power of the stone, or the corpse. Every speck of the miner was swept up in some fel wind and twisted around the skeleton in the box.

The empty hand opened as the arm retracted to grip one edge of the sarcophagus while the other hand reached out for the opposite side. The sounds of clanking bone and crackling skin accompanied the jilting movements of the thing as she pulled herself up and out of her prison. The remnants of long garments hung from the figure, swaying with her as she stood, while the magic threads pulled each of her displaced bones home and began to knit them back together with… whatever was left of the miner.

The sarcophagus, which had seemed unnecessarily large just moments before, was apparently barely tall enough to contain her extended frame. She loomed over all others present by at least a full meter, though, presently, she didn’t seem to notice any of them.

Tendons stretched down her fingers while she watched with her empty sockets, testing the new movement at her apparent leisure. Her head tilted slightly as she turned each of her hands in kind. Ligaments began to fill in the hollows of her jaws and throat, though the empty blackness where her eyes had once been remained unchanged.

In these idle moments, the mortals found their footing again and darted towards the harness. They nearly tripped each other, perhaps purposefully, in their mad scramble to escape.

Ne’hekara’s head jerked, like a hound sighting its quarry. She snatched up the closest heartbeat easily in her long reach. The second miner lifted with ease in her grasp, despite his kicking limbs and clawing hands. At least she drained every last fiber of vigor from him straight away. No need to cripple what she’d already caught. The wiry man went limp, just before his remaining soft tissues rapidly dissolved as she tossed the corpse away, sending his loose bones clattering across the vault’s alloy-tiled floor. With the particularly horrific scent of masticated bone, every remaining piece of the miner slithered in dusty veins to join with Ne’hekara’s legs as the tendrils trailed upwards, turning into red and yellow vines of connective tissues.

Another human clung to the rope, inching his way up with his own hands and feet; there was no one left at the top to pull him.

The other mortals’ fingernails began to peel away, one by bloody one, as they clawed at the seamless walls in futile desperation. Their quickened hummingbird-hearts looked like tiny strobing lights to Ne’hekara’s internal vision.

An echo of subtle, sinister laughter bounced about the chamber, a fitting accompaniment to the dry smirk curling Ne’hekara’s skeletal features.

In quick, due time her graciously provided feast was finished while the other two entities remained placid.

When she had finished, her form had mostly filled the remnants of her discolored garments, the cloth stained with all the muddled hues of decomposition, in stark contrast to the pale flesh beneath. Visible, too, through all the holes in the tattered cloth, was a network of lines that seemed embedded in her skin. Metallic glints flickered in the light of an untended flame from a shattered lantern, destroyed minutes before in the death struggles. The lines twisted and twirled in ornate patterns that covered her body, from her bony feet to the empty sockets of her eyes.

An audible throb radiated out from the green stone, sending ripples of verdant light along the metallic lines in a flurry of crackling sparks. The sparks illuminated the ornaments along her sleek black braids, all beginning just below her narrow shoulders, twisted and plated in intricate patterns that wove their way down to the floor and rested in neat piles at the discolored hem of what had once been her billowing robes and fine gown, all rotted to shreds and dingy with decay. Her hair had clearly continued to grow after she was entombed, with loose strands falling over a golden circlet on her brow.

Finally, Ne’hekara seemed to remember the others as she glimpsed them again through her slightly thickened fingers. With a few long strides, she approached them.

Eyes had finally filled her empty sockets and she blinked repeatedly as she leaned down towards the larger of the pair. With each blink, the reflected light over her eyes changed hue until she straightened suddenly to tower over him once again.

Her head tilted further with each syllable she spoke, like some unsettling owl. “Fe-renc-zy?” The ligaments in her throat moved visibly with her words, though the rasp of her voice cleared slowly. “The last time I saw you, Drefen had you chained to a wall in Cur’Chu’Al’s dungeon, feeding you to that paras-” Ne’hekara paused and curled a finger over her thin lip. “Oh, I see. His experiments were eventually successful, then.”

She brought her face close to Ferenczy again, so quickly this time that the breeze her movements made carried her scent, that of moldering books in a damp and disused library, though thankfully rid of the stench of rot.

“And what a fine little lab rat you did turn out to be, after all. How many centuries have you survived, then? Perhaps millenia?” Ne’hekara inquired, her head tilting again with the same ravenous curiosity. She glanced briefly over her shoulder at the containment pod.

“Perhaps I have been out of the great game for longer than I thought.” She whispered to herself.


Physical Description

Empty eye-sockets emitting the sickly-green glow of burning souls
Black hair, elaborately braided and ornamented
Scar-sigils carved into her skin like seams in clothing

Personal History

"How terrible it is, to live forever..."

What wicked will binds Ne'Hekara to her flesh, whether it be her own or that of something yet more powerful and horrifying, is anyone's guess. Either way, Her Work must be completed, and she's lost so much time already.

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