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

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True Strength

Often I look up poetry, and even quotes to express my mood or feelings during a time. I post these to my personal Facebook or just read them again and again during that time. It came to me last night to look up something upon the nature of strength within a person. There were two reasons for me to consider this that night. The first was my girlfriend was about to undergo yet another test within her life. That test would require her to find the strength within herself and to lean on the strength of those that love her. The second was that I myself find that I need to continue to be strong and endure the tests that I have been given. Those are meager to her test, but none the less I seek to find unity in passion, compromise with understanding, and trust through honesty. Until I am given those things, I persevere because what other choice do I have.

Felice Leonardo Buscaglia once said, “Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.”  While I agree with this for the most part. I know that something’s that cruel people do, can infest us with hatred and anger so deep that it can make us ourselves cruel to the offenders. I find that I cannot say that it is wrong to hate that deeply, for there are reasons in life that go beyond forgiveness. Those are the extremes and I will not dwell on them. So I will move on to what I believe to be the case for most.

Since I was in grade school, I have been a student of people. My quiet nature to most seems to make me labelled shy and I would be overall classified as an introvert, which supports that theory. But speak with me and I open up completely. Engage me and I am not the same person as you might surmise. I watched others with a depth of understanding that far exceeded my age then. Now that I am grown, I believe I am much the same, but have a great deal of wisdom from experience behind what I learn.

Most young men, or those that never grow up emotionally; and some women for that matter believe someone is strong if they have the physicality to back it up. Belief that aggression, fighting prowess, machismo, and many other silly factors make them “strong” men. That is a weakness that society has given them in the past and one that has slowly gone away; but is still there in many ways. I hope it is shed one day and that more can see the wisdom behind true strength.

True strength is in one’s character. In their integrity, morals, honor, qualities, treatment to loved ones or others, and in a flexible resolve. I see compassion as strength. I see a gentle hand as strength. I see the ability to accept others opinions, views, beliefs, with an open mind and an open heart as strength. I see the ability to flex without breaking as strength. I see the ability to support those you care about as strength. Finally, I see that doing any of these things, without an immediate benefit to yourself as true and pure strength. So are you strong or do you fail to meet these easy qualities in life?

It is my opinion that I hold many of these qualities, and those that I do not have I work towards constantly. They are things I learned from my family, and through my own retrospection over the years. I find it an important fact that much of this I learned from the strong women of my family. So what does it say that I see far more women with real strength, but many men I have known over the years lack it? I do not throw down on all men, I have meet a good amount that I would rank highly in these areas as well. My friends for the most part rank in these areas after all. I would not align myself to those that are not of the same mind. But as a whole, women surpassed our attempts to be strong by leaps and bounds. Yet many do not see it as such, and that is far more honorable to me.

I thank my Mom for showing me truth, love, and an unshakable strength of character; my Aunt Judy for compassion, love, and a spirit that lifts all within her arms; my dad (step father) for showing me how a man supports his family; to the other in my circle of family and friends who show me many qualities that I admire and honor about them; and to my girlfriend who has shown me that a person can endure the pains of this world, and not back down from living and succeeding, that a heart can see through to a person and accept them even when they can barely accept themselves, and finally that hope exists if one reaches for it.

I love each of you, and I am man enough and strong enough to say it.

Another Delay

I would like to apologize for my delay again. It seems working on a masters degree is quite time consuming.  But the semester is almost over and I will post as soon as possible. Hopefully next semester I will be a little more timely with my writing. More so, I ask for forgiveness from my love, Michelle. I had told her I would write something to her and am unable to find the perfection within the words so far, or the time to concentrate on it. I do not like breaking what I say if I can help it. She has all ready told me it is all right, but It does affect me not to be able too. Thankyou for your patience again. TJ

Acceptance

What does it mean to accept something? What boundaries or limits are there to this concept? How many people are so set in their ways that they cannot look beyond their beliefs, their virtues, and their limitations to open themselves up to new ways or ideas? I questioned this concept lately, but perhaps not in the ways you might imagine. One might imagine I am speaking about accepting others belief systems; maybe religion, culture, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. One might expect that I am speaking about accepting a person for who or what they are; and not for a stereotype that has been set upon them by society. While these types of acceptance are quite important in life, those are not the ways in which I mean this today.

In this moment in time, and for the past two and a half months I have been in a relationship with two women. Our relationship started well before this as a friendship, and grew to be a relationship in all but name for many months before we made it official. The first of these women is my girlfriend, Michelle, and the second is her girlfriend, Sarah. These two have been together forever and are an unbreakable couple. Childhood friends, from the first days that such things could happen; and lovers in their teens. Their relationship as weathered storms and the years, keeping them best friends and committed partners in life.

They have a version of an open relationship, and that is where I come into it. They both like men to varying degrees, but Michelle is the one that dates men in long term relationships, and brings them into their relationship. Women are also brought into the relationship, but more so as flings from what I understand. So this is the life they live, and their version of normality. That is a life much different than the one I have believed in, and something that I have accepted in them. Though I have questioned how my acceptance has been so firm on this concept of a relationship.

Here is where the foundation of my understanding in relationship comes from. My biological father left my mother, my sister, and I in Arizona; after moving us out there from New England, far away from my mother’s support system. I was maybe three or four at the time, and he said goodbye in the early hours of the morning to my sister and I; my mother was sleeping at the time, and sick with cancer. She was his second wife, and he had at least five others after her (common law, and legal wives). I would say that he cheated on each of his wives, and I can say that with upmost assurance on that with knowledge of his character in those years and what he admitted to now that he has moved past that type of life.

After he left us, I am told I hated men, and I can see signs of that in the memories I still have. When I started school, the other boys would try to chase the girls around the playground and I would impose myself between them, stopping it. Women were not mistreated on my watch, and I had always been a bigger child than most. So I grew to have a respect for them that perhaps is lost in today’s society, and that was reinforced by the strong women of family around me in those years. I also grew to respect the committed relationship; I have never cheated on a single woman in my life, because of those virtues and the knowledge of the pain inflicted by my biological father adulterous actions. I also have had women cheat on me and have felt a sting deep inside that I could never transfer upon another soul. Until now I have seen committed relationships as a thing between two people alone, though I have been in casual relationships that had a touch of openness in the past. Though only in relationships that were more fun, then something either of us believed to be serious or lasting did these things happen. It also seems that I attract far more bisexual woman then completely straight ones, and that began well before it was so fashionable to be a bisexual.

So knowing this about me, how could I be so accepting of a relationship of this type? Is this not a dream for most men? To date one amazing woman, have sex with two women, and perhaps others on occasion; and be the only man in their lives. I believe and know that most men would see that is a big bonus to any relationship. But I cannot think of another human as some bonus, and I truly care about this relationship and its possibilities. My acceptance came through long ago, while we were just friends but I had hoped and felt more brewing between us. I knew that they were a solid core to a relationship, one tested through time. That they were essentially one person in two bodies; that is how close they are and how vital to each other’s equilibrium. Joining them would mean that I was the odd one out and that I would have to compliment them, bring something to the relationship that they might not have, be flexible to both and there for them both equally.

My connection to Michelle is one found only in dreams; at least that is how I see it. I have found depths within my heart for her that I would not had believed there in the past. But I will save that for another post, and another day. Knowing my connection to be what it was for Michelle, I have sought to bring me and Sarah closer. I see many things in her that I like; her loyalty, conviction, compassion, intelligence, artistic abilities, and that there is a little geek in her as well. I truly and honestly hope to one day feel the same about her as I do Michelle and for her to feel similar feelings for me.

We once had a good rapport and she seemed to be opening up to me; flirting, being playful, answering questions about herself, talking about deep things, and eventually naming me a prince for my easy charm I assume. She had even gone as far to say that I would eventually make a good husband for Michelle, and my response was for her as well maybe. But today I find that we have turbulent waters, and she sees me more as an enemy for reasons unknown to me or Michelle. I hope to bridge this gap, because I truly care about Michelle and about Sarah as well. She is a vital part of Michelle life, to this relationship, and I have never questioned that, or thought to work against it. I believe that when I am done with my graduate degree, and able to join them; that I can win her back to my side. But until then, I continue to work at a distance and hope that things will come together again. I seek to have a door opened to me, I seek her happiness, and I seek her acceptance; for I have Michelle’s, but still hope for hers.

What is Real?

In an age when the vast wealth of the internet can be put in a pocket; how do we know, what we know? Definitions change and evolve, cultures meld together, and people reach out from all over to grasp those once beyond reach. The world is closer than ever before, and yet trust is a rare thing still. It is hard to believe in what is found online. Many people start of trusting everything, and soon find out that the internet holds more pitfalls then real life at times; or so they think. So how can we trust in what we find, what we hear, or what we begin to feel for those online?

Lately and for years I have considered those same questions. I believe it should be only natural to mistrust those things discovered online. Because you cannot see them or feel them. It should also be natural to resist giving out too much information. But when dealing with people those instincts have to be altered. Though I believe those alterations should be made slowly. Because you never know who will scam you, or if the person you are speaking to is not what they appear to be.

Many of us make connections online, meeting friends and lovers. Some of these connections can be lasting, while others will be volatile. But is any of that different than those we meet in real life? I do not believe so. Can someone hide themselves online? Yes they can. Can someone hide themselves in person? Yes they can. Now what is the difference? I supposed for those men that pretend to be women, or women that pretend to be men; there can be a difference. Age can also be hidden, and looks as well. But those are the only true things that cannot be completely hidden in person. So I ask again, what is the difference?

I have meet in person dozens of people from the internet. Women I have dated (for one night or many), men to befriend, role playing groups, books clubs, pen pals, and world travelers. It at some point becomes quiet natural to stop thinking of people as just data, and see them as real individuals. There is a sort of trust that has to develop over time, you start to compare things the person says over different conversations. If an inconsistency develops, then that person loses the trust you put in them. If no such cracks appear in their stories, then they are rewarded with more. But that essentially is the same as a relationship in person. Many have gone weeks or months dating a person in the flesh to later find out that those people were not who they thought they were; and even some in the extreme had hid themselves for years upon years. So why would we see a person who we only know online as something so foreign to us?

A question was posed to me, somewhat recently; but not for the first time. How can you have feelings for someone you have not meet?

You see I have a girlfriend whom I have yet to meet. We have known each other in a loose sense for over a decade, during that time we have had casual conversation, even some flirting. We meet on a text based game, and have never grown beyond that game, or even continued conversation past the day we talked… in the past. At least not that I know about. But somewhere around a year and a half ago, we began to talk. The conversation just flowed, and things just clicked together. A friendship was born or matured, and I believe we both eagerly sought out the other to talk with. But as time lengthened in our friendship, we began to grow closer, and to open to each other. So to make this story short eventually we took to step to say that we were together; as a couple, committed to one another. I still have graduate school to finish, and she still lives thousands of miles away; but we plan to meet more than a few times before I finish grad school and I plan to look for an internship close to her during the summer to see what this relationship can truly become. I have hope (wakta).

So how can I have feelings for someone I have yet to meet? That is a simple question to answer, and I would answer it the same way if she was someone I only knew in person and not online. Quite simple, because we have shared with each other. Shared our likes and dislikes, shared out lives and pasts, shared our demons, shared our secrets, shared our hopes and dreams; simply we have opened to each other, first slowly and then more profoundly. Now is not that how I would grow to feel something for another person or do you believe that I need to touch her to feel something for her? I would argue most vividly against that type of rationale.

To trust, is to leave oneself vulnerable. Without it we are alone in the world. I have been there and I hated it. With it we open ourselves to the possibility of pain and regret. I have been there too, and I hated it. So which path is the easier one, and which is the hard? I think in this, the first denies you a real life and the possibility of future happiness. While the second if broken can be worse, but that pain will heal with time and the chances we take in giving out trust are worth the risk. Such as close relationships with friends, family, and lovers. Those things bring real happiness into our lives, and make our years’ worth living. So treat all people the same, or you might lose the chance to fill your life in a small way, or perhaps in a huge way.

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