Spoiler: Author's Note Been a long time since I've been here. Year, has it been? More? I don't know. All I know is that I needed a place to dump the datafiles from my Exalted tabletop game (because I write way too much lore) so I can clear up my Roll20 journal. So hey, I figured, this is a place with people who might enjoy this stuff, so here's some stuff. I've messed with these a bit to make them more suitable for this kinda site, but otherwise they're just short, in-character pieces of memory from people my players have horribly murdered convinced to abandon their ways, regardless of method. Don't know how often I'll post stuff, but hey, that's how I am. Anyways, enjoy, I guess. There once was a maiden… Who declared that her blade was a tool of justice… File 1 - Lacking Importance, Even To Those Skewered Upon My Blades I can save them! With this sword - my father’s sword, I can kill them! My feet pounded on the dirt as I charged the bandits, a war cry on my lips as I sped forwards, my resolve hardened to an edge that the blade in my hands unfortunately lacked. But I ask not much from this sword - only the deaths of a score of men, turning towards me as they turn from the shocked expressions of those of my friends and family they have gathered in the square. My mother gasps, and moves to stand, but my aunt hastily prevents her from drawing attention away from me. Four paces remain, and I put one last burst of speed, raising the aging blade at the first of the men I must kill. I yell with all my might as I bring the blade down, ignoring the cocky smirk on the bandit’s face, the glint of steel, the roil of pain in my gut, the strength fading from my body as I hit the dirt, the clatter of my blade bouncing away. I have to kill him. I have to kill them. I have to save them. I have to be the hero. Why is everything so cold, all of a sudden? It’s Resplendent Fire (1), it should be the warmest day of the year. And… why are they laughing? I’ll show them, once I get up. Why is my mother crying, my aunt holding her tight as the crowd looks on in horror? I smile, slightly. Come on, mom, it’ll be alright. I’ll rescue you, don’t worry! A boot to the gut brings me to my senses, and suddenly the pain hits me, all at once, the numbness of shock giving way to a wave of blistering hotness running across my left side and into my stomach, and I cannot help but scream, eyes tearing up as my mind struggles to comprehend what it is just happened to me. But eventually, realization dawns upon me - I’m dying. I’ve been killed. I… I lost. I thought… Why couldn’t I be the hero? Why don’t I have the strength to kill them!? Why am I so weak!? The bandits laugh among themselves, and another gives me a savage kick to the face, knocking teeth loose and shattering my nose, prompting another bought of belly-shaking joy out of them. Dammit - I can’t let them win! I can’t! And what will you give up to stop them? Anything, I answer heartily, not caring who this new voice is. I just don’t want to let them live! I want to be the hero that rescues them! I want to be the one who kills all who stands in the way of his happiness! Will you damn all life for this power? Will you lay your soul upon the tip of your blade? Will you accept any demands to get the strength you seek? Will you cast your name, your family, your very soul into the Abyss (2) for a chance to kill these men!? Yes! Yes! Yes! I will! I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you ask of me - if it means I can kill these assholes, standing up there like they’re the strongest, they’re immune to the justice of my blade - I’ll do whatever you say! Swear an oath! By the Underworld (3), by the Deathlords (4), by the Neverborn(5)! That in exchange for this power, you will kill all in Creation(6) who stand in our way! I swear it! Then take this power, and use it to kill them all! Whereas the axe wound in my gut was like burning lumber shoved into my stomach, the pain that engulfed me was on an entirely different level - like drowning in the coldest depths of the Dreaming Sea(7), an icy vice upon my body, my mind, my very soul. My voice burned raw as I screamed my lungs out, my body twitching and spasming and seizing under the relentless agony. And then it stopped. All of it. Silence crept over, and then I felt it. Power overwhelming, spilling out of my every pore in a corrosive aura, indistinct shapes flickering in and out of the pillar of black surrounding me. I felt something wet dribble down my forehead, and I stood. The villagers looked on in shock, the bandits in horror, the one who thought he killed me involuntarily stepping back. Something begins to bubble up from within my stomach - something different from the raw power of death coursing through my veins. Something good. Something joyful. Something hilarious, and I cannot help but begin to laugh. Those who once treated me with contempt now stand in fear and awe! This is power! How can I not help but to laugh at the change in their attitudes!? And how can I not help but reward those who amuse me so? With a thought, a blade of black pyreflame(8) springs to my hand. And I know just how... ------------------ 4 years later… ------------------- This feeling… I’m dying…. My blood oozes out from the wounds all across my body, staining the water around me a deep crimson. My flesh is torn ragged, my robe having done little to protect me from the shards of obsidian that had rent me apart. How could this have happened? I was… the hero of the story. I cut down all who stood against my master, my allies, and myself. Hundreds skewered upon my blade - yet here I am, two paces away from Lethe, feeling little better than any common corpse. Those five… I don’t understand how they could have managed this. I fought my hardest, my blades swung true, but they slaughtered me as if I were nothing. How could I have fallen so low? Did I lose my edge? No, those at the temple proved no challenge, I couldn’t have gotten weaker. But my master said that no mortal, no god(9), no Exalt(10) could stand against the might of an Abyssal(11)… Was he wrong? Was I wrong for believing him? Did I grow arrogant in my superiority? My thoughts slow to a crawl - the blood loss must be hitting me, and the water is so cold… as cold as death. I… I suppose I did not avoid death, only avoided it for these last four years. Yes, I regained the arrogance that led me to die my first time, when I first drew my master’s attention. The path of swordsmanship I was taught, that of inevitability, finally drew me back to where I belong. But, if my path of swordsmanship has left me here, then I suppose it could not be fought. I suppose I was merely placed here to empower them, to grant them an opponent to fight. My killers… hah, it is a shame then. If they were able to kill me, my allies don’t stand a chance. Our fates were subordinate to them to begin with. I suppose there is no reason to cling on to life so desperately, then. I have served the purpose I have been asked to. “He's still alive!” a voice calls out, but my vision is blurry, my strength to look gone. “Come on, let's get him out of here!” Something pulls me up, but a wave of nausea passes over me, and my vision fades to black. Footnotes: (1) - 8th month of the year, equivalent to the middle of summer on Earth (2) - The place where things go that do not exist. Resides at the bottom of the the Underworld. (3) - A dark mirror to Creation, created when some of the Primordials died and became the Neverborn. (4) - Powerful ghosts who rule over the Underworld, granted power by the Neverborn in exchange for carrying out their will. (5) - The eternally dying remnants of those Primordials killed in the Primordial War, driven mad by agony. Seek to destroy Creation so that they may finally die. (6) - The world, except flat, huge, and magic. (7) - A sea in the southeast of Creation, separates the South from the Scavenger Lands and the East. (8) - One of the five elements of the Underworld, mirrors the element of Fire. (9) - More akin to shinto gods than Abrahamic gods. Tend to be assholes or bureaucrats. (10) - Human empowered by an Exaltation. Come in many flavors, depending on who made that Exaltation. Know kung fu. (11) - Exalt empowered by the Neverborn. All about death and dying.