Hazeraze Jan 7th, 2019 (edited) 86 Never
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- Them, them, them.
- It is never “us”, not anymore. The foul, empty and cursed blood that courses through your veins runs like a river cutting a divide between the two of you, once so entwined. They still exploit you, they still down your potions and revel in the power you give them, blind to the cold glint of your eyes in the shadows they cast, and numb to the jagged edge of your fangs at their necks. In your lab, under blood-red moonlight filtered through stained glass, you brood. It’s meticulously kept, each and every paper stacked and sorted, every ingredient carefully labeled and organized by a man with too much time. A menagerie of glass, metal and magic fills the room, all manner of common alchemical tools and many more rare ones.
- In the center of the room, a grand little tower of a device drenched in runes suspends a gorgeously cast bottle, into which a distinctly vacant gray sludge filters, drop by drop. The power of that mixture is immense; you can feel it pulling against you even from your position nestled safely amid the shadows in the room, a void with a fathomless hunger akin to the Ichor itself. You haven’t the faintest clue what manner of monster you have born, not an inkling as to the meaning of the runes scrawled at all sides of the machine to which it is appended.
- Someone knocks at your door.
- Slowly enough that they knock again, and again, you pull yourself from the empty daze you’d been in, and stagger to your door. It’s so gaudy, a dark, rare wood lined in golden filigree. Every part of the castle has to be like this. You’d initially loved it, so regal and indulgent, but you’ve come to hate that shiny gold in which your reflection never shows.
- You open the door. When you do, no one is there. Only a package, left by a courier either too repulsed or too scared to speak to you, who you can still hear sprinting away down the corridors. You heft that bag of dirty gold off the floor, recalling a time when you would celebrate among the members of your kingdom, when every courier looked upon you with a reverence often reserved for gods and champions. You slam the door shut, loud enough that the rest of the kingdom can surely hear, and drag it with you back to your vault.
- The only reason you even remember the gestures required to open it is because of these drop-offs. You pry the heavy, rusting door open and cast the bag into it, among many more. In the doorway of that dark repository, you grimace at mounds of gold just rotting away, no use to you anymore. The things the people could do if you just threw this gold into the streets, and the nobles and guards you would have to slaughter to get away with it.
- Stepping into the window, you view the city much the same way. Cascading hills of vibrantly-draped buildings, a layer of faux-opulence and ten thousand pretenders to wealth, practically prostrate before the truly rich at all times. The wealthy were so celebrated here, so beloved for the innate power and charisma that surely earned them their hereditary positions atop hoards of unmoving gold. Still, there is something so undeniably charming about the city itself, the flow of warmth like blood through veins as candle-wielding civilians and torch-bearing guards wind through circuitous and slender paths under the night sky. Something vital and alive. The citizens are happy enough, for now.
- Your gaze lifts to the sky. In an earlier life, the night was a burden to you, its innately calm aura conflicting harshly with your boundless energy. Now, by circumstance, you have become acquainted and eternally intertwined with it; those you have come to resent slumber soundly while you move about your domain, the solitude comforting. The gently scintillating void and the watchful eye of Vask bring you a deep comfort, rather than being a wet blanket weighing down on your good time.
- Lost in the stars, trying to read them for messages as you are wont to do, you are only brought back by a familiar feeling at your back. You grow pale, paler than usual, and cold, colder than usual, as its domineering presence makes itself obvious to you. Right at the strike of midnight, as every time it visits.
- You turn.
- There, it stands. ATHAROA is the only name it has that you can speak. It hangs from a cloud of distortion like a vacant husk on strings, limp silhouettes of legs transitioning into a malnourished body and long, willowy arms. Its featureless skull blossoms into utter confusion, consuming every surface in the room. Each instant they change, giving you no time to make any real sense of the eye-searing and incomprehensible images. You can almost make out patterns, symbols, but you have come to the conclusion that that is merely your mind desperately grasping for some kind of understanding of that which cannot be understood. Accompanying it all is a horrible, mechanical buzz, that rattles your ears and renders you nearly deaf.
- ATHAROA regards you with disinterest, its attention clearly on the centerpiece of your room, all else drowned out by its eldritch presence. It raises one of its hands, drawing its long, clawed fingers across the cold glass, feeling the resonating emptiness of its contents. It roughly pulls the bottle out of the machine, reaching out to intercept one of the droplets with its hand, watching the sludge seep through its fingers.
- “WHEN WILL IT BE COMPLETE?” it asks. It has no voice, it makes no sound; instead, in an instant, you merely know that it has asked you a question, with a little spark of pain in your skull as if you could feel it drilling that knowledge in directly.
- “How am I supposed to know?” you retort, sneering. “I do not even know what hellish concoction that is, and you expect me to know when it will be complete?”
- “IT WILL BE COMPLETE WHEN IT IS TIME,” it merely says, disregarding your answer entirely. “DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR TASK?”
- “I… remember the plan, yes. I don’t know that I agree with it, however.”
- “IT IS GOOD THAT YOU REMEMBER,” it responds, once again dismissing your concerns. It sets the bottle back into the machine. “WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW SOMETHING, CYRIL? I KNOW MANY THINGS. I WILL TELL YOU THIS. ROYAL BLOOD IS AMONG THE SWEETEST THERE IS.” It turns its gaze on you for a moment, and you can feel more than just it looking at you, but a thousand more eyes behind its empty face. You don’t manage a response for its comment, a crippling hunger summoned from deep within you that overwhelms you for a moment at the mere mention of royal blood.
- By the time you can speak again, it is gone. The room is almost blinding in how dark it is without that thing in it, a shrine of colorful and opulent shadows all arranged around the sinister rhythm of that substance dripping into that bottle. In short order, your memory of ATHAROA’s form unravels, your mind unable to hold onto it for long, only little fragments of its hollow body and thin limbs, and the very clear message it has left you with.
- You turn, looking back over the city.
- With the tendrils of that… thing’s influence in you, with that hunger torn from deep within you and now at the forefront of your mind, that vitality and liveliness you see in the land below… despite yourself, all you can imagine is rightly draining every last drop of it, finally slaking that hunger inside of you until this city is the dry husk it deserves to be.
- You run your tongue over your fangs, sharper now than they ever have been.
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