Melisante, Bride of Fire!

The following story is a fan-fiction character background for a game that I will soon be playing.  The game will be played in the Forgotten Realms setting; a Dungeons and Dragons game and a product of Wizards of the Coast.  There are usually two ways I write backgrounds. The first is in this form below, illustrating out how my characters life has gone. It is a way for my to understand the things that move them. The second form, is one I have used on this blog in the past. I use the character as a storyteller to relay a small part of their life to you. Again that also allows me to step into the head of that character. But both help me in different ways and on occasion I will do both.

I had the idea for this character and her background for a while, but have only just tonight put it to paper.  It came surprisingly fast for me, though I did have motivation. So this story is dedicated to Sarah, my unyielding task mistress and one of my girlfriends. *grins and winks* Hope you enjoy.

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Born: 1350 DR Tear of the Morningstar

Melisante Fatin el Zubaida is the second daughter born to Sayyid Hamil el Zubaida and Ziya Nur el Zubaidak.  Sayyid Hamil el Zubaida resides as one of the Sultan within the country of Calimshan, and heads of one of the oldest noble families of the country.  The families’ holdings control much of the spice and rare herb trade inside Calimshan and control a fleet of trading vessels that export those goods and others to the outside world.  The families main base of power is centered primarily out of the great city of Calimport, and in that city of intrigue and danger, is where Melisante grew up.  One could assume that the life of a noble is easy, and perhaps it is so when compared to the street trash or slaves.  But the nobility have dangers in their lives as well.  Those dangers are as life threatening, if not more so, then the ones that the low born endure.

When Melisante was born she was “touched by the flame.”  This was a gift that had not been seen within the family for a few generations.  She had unnaturally red hair, red eyes (just the iris, not the whites), and a birth mark that appeared to be flames upon her forearm.  Well aware that their bloodline had been mixed with the Firelord in their earliest days, the Sultan called for the priests of Kossuth to verify his daughter’s signs.

The priests quickly confirmed that the baby was blessed by Kossuth and would grow-up to be something not quite normal.  With that they offered the family a tutor, to appear when the child became five years of age.  That person would help guide Melisante to the path she needed to follow.  They explained that children blessed by the Gods directly had predestined futures, and that she should be allowed to pursue the path she wanted.  Kossuth would guide her steps and the family should obey those whims.

With those loose restraints, Melisante became quite wild.  At the age of five she received her first tutor from the Temple of Kossuth and quickly ran through four others until one was able to rain her wild spirit in.  Kalistin the Red Crone was an elderly priestess of Kossuth that had no patience for children.  She had a firm hand and was allowed the freedom to use it.  Melisante fought in those new restraints, but eventually succumb to the Crone and started to learn at last.

Though as the girl grew up, it was apparent that she was becoming vain and believed she was superior to those around her.  Melisante also showed some ability with divine magic and even at a young age was starting to grasp some orisons.  But she was beginning to be unreasonable in all things and perhaps a bit delusional.  At the age of eleven Melisante believing that the fire was at her control, stuck her hand into a religious pyre and kept it there through the pain; until she nearly lost it.  That lesson shook her world and the grasp of her abilities.

The Red Crone noticed each of these flaws.  In the wake of the Melisante’s stupid attempt, she believed it would be best to remove the child from the family and country.  A priest of Kossuth and more importantly a student in training to be a priest must be live a life without.  Until she acquired a middling rank within the church she would never be allowed to own possessions of her own.  Aside from what she was given, she would own nothing personal.  She also would have to obey all her betters within the religion.  Calimshan would not be a place inductive for her to learn such lessons.  The power of her family, and position within the countries politics would never allow her to fully become accepting of her duties and the obligations that came with them.

Melisante’s hand was forced to heal naturally, to teach her a lesson.  When she was fully healed, the Red Crone brought her on a pilgrimage.  The two of them went to their faith’s greatest temple, the Flaming Brazier within Thay, based out of the city of Bezantur.  Thay had many of Calimshan ideals; strong magic, slavery, harsh leaders, and political undercurrents.  But it was far more intense and had a much more dangerous Kossuth upbringing.  Students and priests would live or die by their choices.  The Red Crone believed Thay to be a perfect proving ground for the child and that the hardships she would endure there should make her that much stronger; if she lived.

Those years were quite dark.  One does not survive to the higher echelons within the religion of Kossuth if they are meek, weak, or kind hearted.  All acolytes fight for places within their superiors eyes, and often there is blackmail or freak accidents when insults fly or jockeying for position gets blocked.  The faith believes in burning away the weak, some students and teachers take that to heart.

By the age of fifteen, Melisante had been poisoned, beaten, burned, stabbed, raped, and had been forced to endure many other degradation.  But she had survived and had become stronger for it.  Many whom had committed acts against her, even priests, had not lived long after.  Because of this many began to fear her and believe that she was touched by their God.  Such were the rumors that spread, with the help of Melisandre and the few close friends she had made.

That year was also the first year she was deemed suitable to go out representing the temple.  Her first mission was to provide healing support for the invasion of Aglarond.  Melisante joined hundreds of others to work for the armies of Thay.  The faithful worked always in groups and were a vital part in the support services.  Melisante began to practice daily with her weapons, and watched many of the soldiers who did the same thing.  She found a thrill in using them more and started to see the real reasons in why she needed to know how to wield larger weapons.  Melisante soon found some teachers among the troops; most would claim it was their duty to disabuse her of the priests “wrong” fighting styles; so they all said.  But she enjoyed their attentions and took what she could use from the lessons, which improved her combat immensely.

Melisante worked in and out of Thay for years.  She continuously proved herself and always returning from deadly missions made her stand out.  Those people blocking the path of power she walked seemed to falter or die.  After ten years of struggling to advance as a priest, she finally achieved a middling rank among the temples acolytes.  With this new status, she was finally given the freedom all the lowest priests desired.  Now she would be able to acquire her own wealth, power, and all of the things she desired in life.  A life of poverty and complete acceptance to all her superior actions was over.

Not too long after achieving her new rank, Melisante and the Red Crone returned to Calimport.  Her father and family soon swept her back into society, praising her return and her fast advancement among the faith.  Melisante began to teach a few classes at the local temple and quickly embraced her new place within society.  She was even courted, by the low and the powerful alike.  A life of wealth and power was at her fingertips if she only was to take it.

But soon she began to grow uneasy and untested.  During that time, she began to have vivid dreams and daytime visions.  Melisante saw a land of cold, with blizzards leaving travel nearly impossible and a cold that seemed to crack the very trees that lived there.  It was a land without much and in desperate need of fire.  But she knew that in a land such as this one, fire was life; especially within winter.  She began to gather information about the churches reach within the lands of the north and found that it had nearly no temples in the far north; like the land of the silver marches.  The land was rugged; overridden with orcs, giants, and dragons; there was little high society and political rankings.  But the more she read about this backwater place, the stronger her dreams were and the more numerous.  The people and places became so real to her.

Melisante studied up on the people, the places, and the languages common within those areas.  She plotted out the route she would take to get there; most likely leading her through the well-known city of Waterdeep, where her family had some businesses as well.  But it would be easy for her to get to Waterdeep, and then she would have to find a way to travel northward.  With this new adventure driving her and the knowledge that she was being led by Kossuth’s fiery hand, Melisante began to grow at easy again and started to feel determined more than anything.  After months of plans and studying, she finally departed her home.  The trade ship Flaming Sands, one of the ships from her family’s northern fleet took her north to her new life.

 

Melisandre3

 

Written by TJ Winter

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The Incredible! Jhango Khalas

I Jhango have never been one to stand still when others are acting. When you consider what to do before doing it, you most aptly will turn up dead. And who wants that? Why is Jhango so special when compared to these other people around himself? It is true that his breeding had much to play in who he is today, but it is also the case that he is a trained killer; reformed of course! Jhango does not kill for sport or pleasure, he try only to kill when he is angry. This is good! We all think so Jhango is sure!

So Jhango’s story must be told in quick fashion, we all know that he is just stopping by for a drink and nothing more. –chuckles– The town guard are most likely going to blame Jhango for the fires in the Wardens Corner. Why is this? Well it is simple, he is who he is, and because of that people will fear Jhango! It is fine, Jhango does not worry about such things. So he drinks and tell you his story!

Twenty-five years ago, Jhango was born in Tyraturos, Thay; the city of spices! Yes, the place with all the evil wizards! It is true! Jhango’s mama and papa were both esteemed members of the noble cast within Thay; but they were normal. That is to say that they were not casters, so within Thay they were still under the Red Wizards authority. But here comes their pride and joy! Jhango was born and so loved; he was also gifted with the magic of the world!

Now… this is where the story gets interesting! The wizards identified Jhango’s talent early on, and stripped him of his beloved parents to become more! It is true, Jhango was taken away; do not despair for his parents gained much power for having a son join the order. Some say that they road his coat tails into higher societies then they had once known, even as nobles.

You must now understand that to become a Red Wizard one must train under other within the order until they are ready. There is also much trails and subterfuge; it is true, this mean that Jhango had to fight for his life among the other apprentices! Yes! Little children fighting for power and placement among their betters! Such things today that tears at Jhango’s soul, and makes him a better man; NO! a good man for the rest of his days!

For years Jhango faught for his life, and learned all that he could. At the age of 19, he was ready to be inducted into the order! He was tattoo’ed and given the gifts… that all Red Wizards enjoy on the night before their induction. It is true! These gift, are gifts of the flesh, the drink, the soul, or whatever perverts the wizard. Some you know can be quite sick! No Jhango will not speak of his own, was private you understand!

So is Jhango a Red Wizard? He sees your eyes thinking this question! Do not fear, drink drink! Jhango is not a Red Wizard, well perhaps technically he is; but he was never inducted! Just so! He never said the words! Which means, it is not so! Ahh he sees you understand now, Jhango is right! So why did he never say the words? He did not want too!

Jhango was not about to be tied down, so he snuck out! Yes Jhango is quite sneaky when he wishes to be. He would sneak out all the time in his youth. Getting around the masters and other apprentices was a key reason Jhango made his way to the top! It is so Jhango’s new friends! It is so!

Jhango sees you wish to know what he does now!? He sees you do! He does! Jhango is a hero! It is so! He saves beautiful woman, children, and on the occasion ugly ones as well! He has no real preference, he just would rather save the pretty woman. Jhango can see that you understand! What man would not want to? So Jhango fights evil, banishes warlords, steals the hearts of all woman and pretty men, and is incredible at doing so!

But always remember that heroes are never given their due! Particularly from guards, other jealous men, and legal systems. Jhango knows that the best place to be after doing an incredible good act, is somewhere else! It is so! At times, yes… Jhango must say that he has to throttle guards, but think of all the good that he does; Jhango cannot be locked up! It would allow evil to triumph!!! It is so! So… Jhango remains free at all costs!

So Jhango’s friends! Remember about the hero you met! Jhango does not do appearences, remember this is not so! But he must go, or else he will have to throttle more guards. Jhango does not want this, it would sadden his big heart! Next drinks on Jhango!!! –Tosses some gold at the bartender and sweeps out of the bar with his cloak swirling behind him, and the scent of saffron in the air–

Written by TJ Winter

Eve, the Deceiver

So this is another character background for a game I will be starting soon. It should be similar to The Nightsong which I did some months ago. The game will be run in a the World of Darkness setting, put out by White Wolf Publishing. The Game Master, has designed her own world where the kindred (vampires) won in the apocalypses and shape shifters (werewolves, cats, rats, etc.) are fighting back in a resistance, with the help of some others. Mage’s have an alliance with vampires for the most part, and hold a special status in the kindred’s society. All other humans are subjugated, work for the vampires, and are herds to their blood needs.

I just wrote this today and have yet to revise it, though I generally do not revise much. Hope you enjoy.  

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The story I tell you today is one that I have lived, it is filled with truths and fiction; but understand that those lies I tell are only made up to protect me from the absence of truths. I am Kaedrim, or Kae as my master affectionately calls me. My master did once give me a surname, but I use it so little that it has no purpose in this story. In fact Kaedrim is only a mask I wear for the world that I was brought into. Those that truly know my heart and my passion call me Eve. That is the name I wish others to fear one day, the name I have chosen or perhaps was given to me by Atum, the Great Serpent; who my soul is linked too forever.

I was born in the year 1750, to two of the overseers in a prominent Setite household. But like all children raised in that house, I did not know my parents. The information was thought to add an element of emotional attachment to us humans, and such things can cause dissention. Though I have no doubt that the type of humans that can become overseers would had murdered me for a single mishap. So perhaps it was a good thing, because I have made so many mistakes over the years.

That home was all I knew for much of my youth. As a servant to the house, I was required to do anything that was asked of me. You will have to wrap your tiny little minds around that concept; my bloods was theirs for the taking, my body was theirs for the taking, and above all my service was to the house. That was a better life then most humans had, and for such high service I was allowed luxuries that many others are not given.

So it was that in my late teens, I began to rebel against my bonds. Though rebel might be too liberal a word for it. For I had no real power to rebel, maybe I should say that I tried to numb the bonds that held me. I found a way to numb my pain at the cities many night clubs and concerts, you know the places were the sheep go to forget the wolves that herd them. Alcohol became my friend, and then drugs when the alcohol was not enough. But with any great way to numb ones pain, came a weakness of mind, senses, and precision.

Above all the house that I lived in those years, expected precision from its servants. When I began to spiral down the rabbit hole, after taking so many of the red piles, I was punished. The overseers believed they could correct the problem in me and they were as creative as their blood sucking lords. But as those trips into Wonderland continued, even with the punishments I continued to grow more and more reckless. I am sure you can see where this would lead?

In 1770 when I was nineteen I was given as feed to the snakes. You see not all Setite follow the old traditions or see themselves as akin to serpents. But many still do and keep snakes around as pets or as guards. Those same vampires also enjoy using snakes as punishments. Because of this the city is filled with them, and I often find it amazing that the many rats can survive. The house had a large ceremonial chamber within its recesses, with a rather large pit filled with snakes of different varieties. While the chamber was used very little by the lords of the house, the overseers still had to feed those snakes.

I will not bore you with the details of the last deeds committed before I became snake food, but you could say it was one of the wildest nights I had ever had and today I look upon it with utter disgust. So to cut this short, I was thrown into that pit and they left me there, perhaps it was even my true parents that did it for it was a male and a female about the age they should had been. They spoke no words, showed no pity, it was like taking out the trash after all. And today I find no fault with that categorization.

Can you guess what happened? She was bitten or strangled to death, then eaten right? Though those of you with some logic would first say, none of that could had happened, since you are speaking to us. And you would be correct, do you feel special now? Now that you are all smug, let me say that you are also wrong. I was bitten several dozen times, and snaked curled around me that felt like vices. I felt my insides burning, pressure building, my senses distorting, and my mind slowly leaving me.

Have you ever had your ears pop? Well perhaps not, since most of you have never left the NYC, or climbed a mountain, or even been to the top of a skyscraper. When you climb in elevation, there is a point, maybe even a few points that the pressure will build in your head and your ears will pop releasing that pressure. That is what happened to me, not just to my ears, but to my entire body. For lack of a better explanation, I popped.

My senses, mind, ears, eyes, insides, even my very skin felt that sensation. I felt the venom that had been burning through my body suffuse with it, I heard the snakes whispering their apologies in fear, the coils release and the bodies made way for me. And above it all I felt a presence as old as the world, if not older, one that made me sick up in fear, and one that made me feel as if I was ant ready to be stepped on. That feeling has never left me, he is a part of me and has always been it seems.

Those snakes helped me out of the pit and lead me away into the sewers. I was a wreck still and running from what seemed to me at the time as someone just beyond my sight, right behind me and all around me. I could not place a word to that type of fear. Those sewers had more than enough fear for me, and in that weakened state the world turned around me. I was in pitch black, but still I could feel a change to the world I had known. Even through that creature hunting me, things smelled, tasted, and felt different. I felt alive for the first time in a high that I could not explain or reason. Do you believe that one can be alive and afraid at the same time? If you do not, I pity you again.

I will spare you the details, but let us say that my present master soon found me. I had freshly awakened, and the release of power that had happened upon that transition was enough for my presence to be felt by someone close. I am told that this is unique and my circumstances have dropped many questions at the point when I arrived to this new life.

That power shaped me in his own image, it was my avatar Atum, the creator God remembered in Egyptian culture. He rose as a snake from the primordial waters to create the Gods and the universe. He who will rise again with the destruction of the world, or perhaps that was to destroy the world? My master has told me that he is also been called many other things, in many other places. To the Germanic people or years ago, though you might better remember them as the Vikings, he was called Jormungandr, the World Serpent. He again in this history predicted the end of all things, and was big enough to encircle many worlds. Then to the Hindu culture of ancient India he was called Shesha, a primordial being of creation, and avatar of the supreme creator. It was said that Shesha could hold all of the planets of the universe within his coils. That he had the power to both destroy and create with even the slightest movement of that snake’s body. Oh well my master taught me others, I think some dragon in China, and serpents all over European and Asian cultures, even a serpent at the beginning of those Adam and Eve histories, but I lost interest and was actually thinking about other things for the rest of the teaching.

So to put it simple, I am a freak! Serpent eyes, teeth, tongue, and yes my skin too is scaled, thought you might not notice unless you are close to me. I have been given other gifts, some of which you can see in what I have told you, and others you do not need to know. None of my appearance is similar to what I was before, and perhaps that is a blessing as well. My features have changed, and my hair is now black, not the red that it was before.

Life does run us in parallels does it not? I once served Setites that saw red hair has a prominent marking in a person. While I have no red hair, I have snake features that many Setites look favorably upon me for; and might I say some vampire like features as well. I once served Setites that worshiped the ancient Egyptian religion that saw themselves decedent from Set himself. I now serve as master who has taught me magic in many of the ancient Egyptian ways, and I am now linked with the God that created the Egyptian Gods like Set. I was given to snakes, and was born into one.

Today I feel life and death at my very fingertips, which is a high you cannot imagine. I have a privileged life as a Mage, in a powerful Chantry, with an equally powerful and respected Master. I am marked by the serpent, which also gives me a mystique by some kindred. I could have it all if I worked hard enough, strived to be better; and in fact I do believe in those things. I do want the power, the knowledge, the feeling that I could shake the world. Too feel what Atum feels, to match his power. It is intoxicating sometimes to think about…

With all that, you could ask me now why do I work with you rebels? Why do I risk it all to help you all achieve a better world? Even when mine is as good as any human can imagine. Perhaps I cannot let go of the past, or maybe Atum drives me to rebel against the corruption of this world? Well, since you are dying, and even without that the words I say would slip your mind within seconds of me saying them; I will tell you the truth my friends. (excited whisper) I do it for the chaos, I feel some primal urge from Atum to destroy, I really do not know if my purpose is to help the kindred fall, to save the world and the people in it, or if it is to break the world in the end!

(smiles and pushes the hair away from the dead mans face) Do not regret your deaths tonight, they did serve a good purpose in the end. I am sure our compatriots will look favorably on me for this victory. When Anubis brings you before Osiris in the underworld, remember to tell him I sent my blessing along with you, remember to tell them that you were sent by Eve, the deceiver, the incarnation of Atum their creator. I am sure they will treat you kindly.

(Eve stands and casually brushes away the blood from her clothing. The falls to the ground as if it were simple dirt. Careful not to step in anymore blood or the gasoline covering the bodies around her, she walks away humming to herself.)

snakewoman

Written by TJ Winter

The Nightsong

 “Most people are afraid of the dark.  You can see it in the way they move at night; always searching for movement, always looking over their shoulders, and jumping at every noise.  It is like they see figures in every shadow and hobgoblins under every bush or box.  Others would scold them for their ignorance, but those same people do it to.  What do I say to those people?  That is, what would I say to those people if I cared?  That they should beware of the night and they should run from the shadows.  For I know above most men, what lurks in those debts; and it scares me too. “ 

Bastious Nightsong

I will make my tale short, for I am a musician and not a storyteller.  I will try to spin this story as well as I can, without too much obfuscation.  My name is Bastious Nightsong; but I have been called many things, some not quite names and others mostly masks.  But of those names, I was Derrek Fistoss, Asial Fifner, Len Tarrock, and finally my birthright; Kesurt of House Duskwood.  I am noble born and breed, the 5th child of Edis and Patreece Duskwood.  Ahead of me in the birth order, was my oldest brother Boron, whom loved books and scholarly ideals.  The twins Landon and Derdin were next in line; and both pursuing a life that would keep a sword in their hands as much as possible.  My big sister Elistre, with her high ideals and stern demeanor was closest in ages to me, not but two years older and many more in spirit.  She was my closet kin, and rival after a fashion.

My sister and I inherited our families’ talent for magic, though as I say this I scold myself.  Let me explain…  My grandparents, rest their souls were great masters of the arts of magic.  Their four children became masters of the arts as well; my father Edis was the oldest of those siblings.  Yet, of his children and too his dismay, only we two had shown that inherent ability.  My sister, had that inheritance, but while she had a bright mind and quick wit, she worked ten times harder for every scrap learned, then I.  And she cared with a deep passion for it as well.  While in respect, I had the talent!  But not a hint the passion was in me, at least not for magic.  When the spark came to me, magic wise, I pulled off tasks that she herself had worked months on, in only days or hours.   And while they tried to mold me, I was too carefree.  But isn’t that only natural?  I was a child of only six at the time.

While as bright and clever as my sister, I enjoyed my youth and found my passion within music.  Being of a wealthy house within the high nobility made bards and other musicians easy at hand.  My mother loved to sponsor such people, and she bore a gift for music as well.  I marveled in those things and found a talent for that growing in me as well.  My young soul was wealthy!  I had a family full of love, privilege, and power.  I had a talent for magic and music; and for getting into trouble I must say.  Being the youngest did have its privileges and I abused such thing.  For many years after I became an adult, looking back at those days would bring tears to my eyes.  Those were the days of my youth, and a month after my ninth birthdays I became an adult.

You ask how I could be an adult at only nine.  That was very easy, for when we are young, we live in the moment and think nothing of the future.  But on the day we begin to think about the future and our own safety, we become an adult.  From that moment on, our childhood is shattered to the wind and can never be brought back.  Our eyes become opened, and our minds scream for its loss; and all is changed forever.

Every summer we went into the country to live away from smell and heat of the city.  It was only when things began to cool that we would move back and joins the pleasantry of court once again.  But that was typical of many families with our means.  But on the summer of my ninth year, I woke one night to loud noises.  Looking back, and remembering from the eyes and ears of a child.  Those noses came from every direction, and the walls of the house shook; I sure I imaged monsters around every corner, breathing fire and lightning, and eating bad children like me.  At least, that is how I saw it then.  Though now I look at it more rationally; quite simply my families’ estate was being attacked by a large force that had the aid of destructive magic.  That would account for my monsters, and did from what I had learned in later years.

At some point that night my sister Elistre rushed into my room, fully dressed for travel; with a pack at hand.  Elistre was always well together, 11 years then and more than 30 in spirit.  She helped me dress and rushed me into our families lower wine cellars; a place I had played hunter and prey on more than one occasion.  Yet she opened a door I did not know about and lead me into darkness.  I can only remember now, that the darkness was ever so peaceful from the chaos that engulfed the house upstairs and I found comfort in it.  That was the first time I realized, that even in the darkest depths of shadows one could find beauty and protection.  We must have spent an hour in that tunnel.  Do not get me wrong, it was scary and I was terrified; but I do not think it was because of the darkness, it was in not knowing where we were headed and what we were leaving behind.

Sometime later, we left the tunnel and found ourselves within a thick forest.  The moonlight on that night shined through the trees casting an eerie glow upon the land; but only in patches every here and there.  I remember how cold my sister was that night, and our brisk conversation.

“Where aw we going sissy,” I asked.

“Safety,” she answered while walking with a staunch determination.  She held my hand like an iron vice, and it pained me.  Elistre glanced briefly at me, without breaking stride and said, “Grandmother told me where to go, just before she was killed.”

“Mammy was k… ki… killed!” I screamed, too shocked to think of our situation and the peril we might had been in.

That is when I found myself on the ground, dizzy, with a pain on my head.  My sister had struck me down, and was then glaring down at me.  No love touched her features, and not only a little hate.  Then she spoke to me softly, and with a terrible tinge to her voice; “You shut your fat mouth, our whole family is dead or dying… we might have people after us right now.  So you shut your mouth or I’ll leave you for them!  You will not talk, cry, or do anything other than nod your understanding to me!”

That was it, I did understand her in some way, and I was afraid.  I walked silently at her side through the woods and we stopped a few times to rest or hide I believe.  Though I was in a daze and remember very little I am embarrassed to say.  I do not know if it was a couple days or even a week later when we finally reached the city; perhaps it was even hours.  I can remember expecting to see our compound around every corner, but it never came.  Elistre told me our new names were Lisu and Len Tarrock if anyone asked.  She of course told me that she would speak for us, and I was to keep silent.  But she did continue to drum those names into me while we walked, and I believe that training might had even started on those days in the woods.  Again, I remember little.

Once in the city we stopped at many compounds, I remember that they were places I had been when I was younger.  They were friends of our family, and I believe Lisu hoped to find protection with those that had called themselves friends to House Duskwood.  But word of our families fall had preceded us, and those… noble people seemed to want nothing to do with the pair of us.  So the children of House Duskwood were now shunned, ignored, and in some cases chased away by those noble peoples.  Whether out of fear or hate, I have never found out.  But my families’ enemy must have had an iron reach.

We visited a dozen houses that night, and soon after Lisu believed we were being followed.  It took me even longer to hear the noises behind us; both footfalls and metal rubbing against itself.  Dangerous sounds, especially at night, when you are young, unarmed, and scared out of your wits.  We ran, with all the vigor of youth; and those footfalls pursued us for many streets.  But before I knew what was happening, I was dragged into the darkness by strong arms.  Those arms held me hostage and covered my mouth until I was completely immobile.  Not seconds later, I heard those sounds from our hunters drawing nearer, and then they passed wearing all the livery of the royal guards; there was at least a full dozen of them.  Darkness had protected me again, and I lost consciousness to its sweet embrace.

Two years later found me and my sister fully intergraded into one of the city’s largest thief guilds.  We had taken on new names again, I was now Asial and Lisu was now Sara; we had remained siblings with the last name Fifner; since we looked so much alike.  I believe we had grown closer in those years, but I am not sure if it was out of a sense of mutual protection, the fact that we were all that was left of our family, or that I had changed so much.  I had hardened and shred the skin of my youth, I let go of my innocent, my ignorance, and my arrogance.  In all respects, I was just like Sara then.

The guild took us in and taught us their trade.  And while it seemed that there were large bounties on our heads, Lacindra, the master of the guild took pride in the fact that she owned us and hide us under their noses.  You heard me right, she owned us and we put our tallies towards a debt that she long ago told us would be the cost for our salvation.  Sara’s star rose in the guild, her sharp intellect and calculated actions allowed her to run her own crew, and all knew of her temper.  That temper was when her magic flared to life and broke like a river breaking free from a dam.  At least that was the rumors at the time, I suspect it was not always that bad, but kids will express things and bolster them to a greater degree.  It was those displays that soon found her sold off to a wizard whom happened to view one of those moods.  From what I know, Lacindra made a good deal and she soon found herself with other business deals with that very same wizard was well.   After that, my sister and I saw little of each other, but she would come to visit on occasion.  And I found out that she was free and no longer property; and how I envied that freedom.

My path was quite different in respect, I started out a teaser; which meant I would distract others while the crews I was assigned too pulled off their tasks.  In those first two years, I grew a lot and eventually was larger than most of the boys in my age group.  Those were dark days for my soul; I had lost my talent, it hid itself deep within my memories and behind some wall that blocked it all away.  Anytime I heard music I would shy away from it, and the only thing that seemed to bring me any passion were my fists.  I slowly grew to have a short temper, and I got into many fights.  To my embarrassment, I also had a cruel streak.  When my sister left me, I felt alone, and abandoned by the last person whom I expected; by the last person that knew truly who I was.  I passed through many crews in those years, not many enjoyed the mean boy I had become.

When I was 13, Mistress Lacindra gave me to a weapons master named Karn.  I believe she hoped to focus my temper and my fighting spirit, and perhaps to beat the meanness out of me.  It worked, and I was reined in; in the most violent manner of a strict teacher.  I spent three years living in Karn’s school and training with other students that he was given.  I learned the art of fighting, and tactics from his hand and other teachers at the school.  But eventually Lacindra wanted me back.  You see, I was an investment and she had been my benefactor in those years of training.  I now owed her more than I had before.  I would also like to point out, that I trained alongside many of the youth born from noble families and merchants alike.  Those people and other wealthy families who did not have their own trainers went to Karn for his experience and reputation from battles past.  I have always thought Lacindra had a gift for irony, hidden in plain sight I shined for all to see.  For Karn regularly held sparring events for the families to view their children’s progress and I won many such tourneys.

Oh yes, I was brought back into the folds of the guild.  But now, I was taller, lean muscled, and appeared much different than I had once been known to be.  She herself gave me my new name before I returned; I was then called Derrek Fistk.  I was now in control and focused; and within a few months I came to lead a crew of heavy hander’s.  We would bully and push vendors for protection; and we would handle other business as well for the guild.  Coming into my own was a new experience, and I reveled in that!  The gap between my skills and others around me was self evident; maybe it was worse that I knew it.  But I do not believe I was arrogant or underestimating of anyone.  I just knew myself well, but perhaps that was only an illusion.  For I was still a shade of what I could become.

But this chapter in my life was soon over, in the most dramatic way!  I guess I just gave part of my story away; a big change came to me when I was 19.  Lacindra assigned three crews to protect her daughter Elendra, on a trip between cities.  My crew was placed under the command of one of the guilds most experienced leaders, a man by the name of Gerin.  I had sparred almost daily with Gerin, and he had my full respect.  Elendra was Lacindra pride and joy; she had been training in the next city for some years.  It would be our job to escort her home.  The trip was quite fun actually, we had gone early to enjoy a bizarre that entered that city every fall.  That was Gerin’s idea, and the crews loved him for it.  He was ever beloved for his generosity.

As an escort mission, all was quiet and we made it back to our city without issue.  We were making it through the streets of our city, back to Lacindra’s estate when we were attacked by a rival guild.  The battle was too quick; they did have the numbers and surprise on their side.  They also had magic at their command.  All others were killed, but for Elendra and myself.  I would have been too, but I believe I appeared to be dead and maybe should have by most accounts.  Elendra though, was beaten and raped, and left amidst the other bodies of her escort.  She was a message, and the greatest insult they could had made to Lacindra.

Lacindra blamed me, and I was used as another message, not only to our guild, but to all other guilds.  I was beaten even further, and I was tortured; then I was burned alive at the end, in the middle of a city park.  That was a night of fire and blood; when guilds warred, guards ran, and the cities populous coward behind their walls preying to any power that would listen…  hail the night of blood, and the week of shadows; where the kin ruled the city.  That was my deathday! My deathright!

Wrapped in darkness I woke falling with no body, my mind was beaten, and I could feel the fires still burning like a phantom clinging to my essence.  I believe some time passed in that darkness; maybe it was weeks, months, years, or just a few seconds.  A whisper of a voice called my given name.  That voice was like a whiplash to my consciousness, and suddenly I remember being fully alert.  It then spoke again, and that whisper tore at my soul and shredded my mind; the voice was pure power.  This voice said many things, it offered to let me live again, and break the walls that I had put up so many years ago.  I grasped at that chance and even begged for it.  I wanted to live, pure and simple.  But that voice asked if I was willing to pay the price; a larger price.  I would have given up anything and everything for it, I had nothing and I knew it.  So I agreed to pay whatever I could.  And so I was remade, through darkness, shadows, and a fire that would burn your very soul to ash.

I woke, though it could had been years later for all I knew.  My body felt warm, and as I looked at it, I found it was not what I had remembered it being like.  I looked and felt… foreign in many ways.  Though I could not really point out how exactly.  But before I could adjust, a voice as smooth as silk spoke to the side of me.  It said to me, “I have been told of your choice…” I could then see who was speaking, it was the shadowy figure of a man, and he walked between pillars that were just at the edge of my vision.  “I am now your master, to train you and prepare you to leave this…” as the figure passed behind the next pillar, it was now a woman and she continued on without stopping.  “Sanctuary, we are in the veil of shadows between…”  As she passed the next pillar, still circling me, she stepped out as a child of about eight years of age.  “Worlds and nobody can breech this place…” the child began to walk towards me, wearing what appeared to be a black robe that seemed to move on its own, or perhaps the shadows played tricks on my eyes.  “For this is a holy temple, to him the Raven, to him the Shadow that Searched for Wronged Souls, and in this divine place, you will learn your talents again, for some have been taken from you, and others have been given back.  If you learn quickly, you might enjoy your time here, if you do not… you will see brutality…” the child came into view and stole my breath.  It was a young girl, that had no eyes, and yet her gaze was unmistakable, and her smiled would chill a fire.  “But when you leave here, maybe years from this time, you will thank me for each act that I put upon you.”  The girl stopped in front of me, “and then you will be free to live in your world once again.  To stalk the nights, and hide in the shadows embrace; for they have always been there to protect you Kesurt.  You are shadow blessed; my name is Zeo and let us begins.”

After spending years in that place, I stepped out of the shadows and entered the world once again.  I took the name Bastious Nightsong as my own, and I was a new man; body, mind, spirit, heart, and soul.  I had my talent back, both music and magic; and I had a new talent.  That new talent had taken me years to learn.  It allows me harness, the very shadows of this world.  For they are a gift from another realm, and a sign that shows that realms dominance over our own.  So I sought out a new life… and that is the start of my tale.

shadowcast

Written by TJ Winter

Life Forge

Light from forgotten skies,

burning bright upon the eyes.

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Blue ribbon above,

wraps the world below.

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Life shine from the rock,

grown like weeds.

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Sanity is lost,

freedom the dream.

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Darkness a shadow,

light its lover.

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Blindness a gift,

eyes deceive.

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Forged of hope,

Life weary.

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Reach to the sky,

heart & soul,

Entwine.

Lost Works

In my youth I wrote much more then I have for some time. Eventually through my high school years I began to save those works. I had notebooks filled with poems and stories that I had kept around me. Upon leaving college in West Virginia the boxes that held those treasures were lost. I do not know if they were taken by my roommate by mistake, or forgotten in the storage bin that I rented; but the simple fact was they were done forever. That tragedy affected me more then I can say and when compiled with other things, it drove me away from writing for a time. That story will be told in another post soon I am sure.

Not too long ago, I found some of the things I had written in high school and I wanted to post one of those today.  Though I must explain first that I have always had a dark side when it came to my creative works. The majority of my role playing characters are considered dark, bordering on evil, they plot behind the parties backs for their own ends, enjoy sneaking and hiding, and are usually in all sorts of shady dealings. I personally enjoy the color black, skulls, vampires and werewolves (not these stupid romantic lover vampires or werewolves), the paranormal, hard music, and many other themes that are considered “dark”. But I should point out that I have never been a goth, I do not have a tragic childhood, and I am not morbid person. In many ways I can be quite the opposite of some of those things. So I can not tell you why many of these things interest me or why my mind walks those paths;  it just always has.

So here is poem that I found from high school. If you can guess what it is about, please comment.

CHAOS

Darkness filled and crossed the land

leaving but an empty hand

Taking those who sing and pray

leaving all that whine away

Making it an empty place

where the dead are laid to waste

Pets are dying, people crying

fires, fires, burn away

No more eating, no more drinking

suffering, suffering, go away

Food is found, in the ground

now the dead are unbound

Shadows shaking, bats are waking

people, people, stay away

Men are dining, women crying

little children are not whining

Light has come, from the sun

darkness, darkness, stay away

No more walking, no more talking

peace has come to stay.