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Glorious Solar [Datafiles]

Discussion in 'Short Stories' started by BMPixy, May 23, 2017.

  1. BMPixy

    BMPixy Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2017
  2. BMPixy

    BMPixy Well-Known Member

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    More stuff. Went back and added footnotes, because I'd wager not many of you are familiar with the Exalted setting. Read it when you have time, I guess.

    Who believed that luck was on her side…


    File #2 - On The Cusp Of Death, Like A Coin On Its Side

    A meaningless death… Hah, how I longed for that, and now here I am. My arms bound behind my back, and large rock tied to my legs, and the Yellow River a few paces away.

    “Dis ‘s whitchya get fer tryen’ te fook wit’ da Omi Family,” one of the ruffians assigned to this task reminded me. I merely chuckled and smiled in response.

    “Precisely because of this that I chose to, how did you put it, ‘fook wit’ da Omi family?” I mirthfully replied, which got a snarl out of him. A rough kick to the gut served as his response, and I spasmed as the air violently left my lungs, leaving me sputtering as I tried to inhale.

    “Oi lookit ‘im!” the thug chortled to his fellows. “‘E’s tryen’ te get uh ‘eadstart awn drawning!”

    “Jian, please don’t rough him up,” one of the other mafiosos said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “We’re professionals, we don’t beat people up because they insulted us.” Sighing, he pulls a cigarette out from under his vest, one of the other men hurrying to strike a match and light it for him. After a long drag, he continues. “I’m really sorry about all of this. But hey, we have a reputation to uphold.”

    “Ah, it’s all fair, I understand,” I answer with a smile. “Can’t have people winning at your mahjong parlors - people might think you’re getting soft.”

    “If you knew this would happen, why did you do it, then?” the smoking man asked, arching an eyebrow.

    “Because I’m a gambler, of course!” His brow furrows, and I hurry to explain. “The spirit of gambling is pushing your luck as far as you can, then a little further. If you’re afraid of a meaningless death, you’ll never be able to really go all out, y’know?”

    The boss chuckles. “Well, with an attitude like that, it’s a shame you won’t be our new rep player. Almost reconsidering killing you - what’s the old phrase, too weird to live, too rare to die?”

    Yes! It’s working! Just a few more choice words… “Yeah. But, well, you gotta uphold your reputation, and I have to pay for disrespecting you guys, after all.”

    “Yep.” Shit! “Alright boys, let’s give our friend a bath!” the smoking man shouts, and I’m roughly hauled upwards by two of the thugs, and my trip to the bottom of the river begins with a splash as I feel the cold enveloping me. Well, crap, I guess those weren’t the choice words. I guess I might as well drown, then.

    Are you sure you want to do that? a voice in my head echoes out.

    Eh? What the hell? Is there something in the water? With a muffled thwump, I reach the bottom of the river, darkness enveloping me as my lungs begin to burn.

    This is no mere illusion brought on my the onset of death - this is the truth of your situation. You will die.

    Yes, I’m very well aware of that. Dragons(1) above, I’m arguing with a voice in my head. This is crazy.

    Let me ask you this: do you wish to die?

    Truth be told, I’d prefer not to. But unless you’re packing some serious power, voice, I think I am going to. And to be honest, I’m completely fine with that.

    Well then, how about a little game for your life? If you win, I’ll let you die in peace. But if I win… I’ll grant you new life - as one of my servants.

    That seems backwards, but... alright. What’s your ga - Suddenly, a barrage of images rushes through my mind. Ten thousand games, one hundred million matches. All of them similar in one thing alone.

    I lose.

    ------------------
    3 years later…
    ------------------

    I lost.

    I… I can’t believe I lost. I was going to avenge my sworn brother - but those damnable Solars (2) - and this damnable weakness in my heart! Lacking Importance… dammit, I failed your memory! I was outplayed at every turn… And I let that happen. And now I’m worse than useless.

    Gah, how am I ever going to explain this to Walker In Darkness (3) !? That I can never be used against these Solars again, because of my arrogance? That because I had died one meaningless death already, I thought that I could never lose again? And all of it… For nothing.

    Maybe I should take that recommendation. Go rogue, find my own path in this world. They could have very easily killed me once I provided the antidote…

    A sympathetic pain gnaws at my soul as I consider that. Seems the big bosses don’t like this line of thought. And if I don’t listen to them… A memory of Haunting Note completely losing it to Resonance (4) flashes to mind, but I shove it away. No, I’ll think on this some more before I do anything rash, I affirm to myself, leaning on a railing overlooking the city beneath me. I’m sure boss can help me work through these thoughts.

    I’m sure of it.

    Footnotes:
    (1) - Referring to the Four Elemental Dragons, the highest form of reincarnation in the Immaculate Faith.
    (2) - Exalted empowered by the Unconquered Sun, greatest of the gods.
    (3) - Walker in Darkness, one of the Deathlords. Most committed among them to destroying Creation.
    (4) - Resonance, a curse that haunts Abyssal Exalted. Whenever they act against the Neverborn’s wishes, chiefly by affirming life instead of destroying it, it accumulates until it eventually spills out by causing them to act in line with their worst impulses and desires.
     
  3. BMPixy

    BMPixy Well-Known Member

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    Technically these are the first ones I wrote, but I went back and wrote stuff for the prior two antags. Enjoy.

    Who treasured those she loved above all…

    File #3 - The Rerren Family

    File #3.1 - Rerren Fuu - Love At First

    Nothing had worked. Petition after petition, prayers both orthodox and blasphemous - no response. Why? Why aren't they helping? Aren't the gods supposed to be subservient to us? And yet they won't even help me save a single life...

    I turn to the materials gathered before me, the room lit only by dull candles - prayer strips that would have me killed by the Immaculates (1) hang from the walls, the ink shimmering in the light. The sound of revelry echoes in from the plaza below, the shouts and song driving away the fell spirits roaming on Calibration (2). I wish they would be quiet for a moment - I need those spirits’ attention.

    But it is no matter. The time has come - the great bell tower rings. Dong. Dong. Hurriedly, I begin my petition.

    "Oh great and powerful dead, answer my call," I begin. Dong. Dong. "The gods of the living do not answer my calls, so I shall forsake them." Dong. Dong. "Death comes to us all in due time, but I humbly ask only one thing!" Dong. Dong. "That you relax your clutches on one dear to me - Rerren Anne." Dong. Dong. "In payment, I offer you this." Dong. Dong.

    I reach up to my face, thumbs poised over my eyes, doing my best to keep them open, even as a pang of hesitance chills my heart. Dong. But I press in anyways, and the world goes dark.

    We shall consider your request.

    -------------------------

    File #3.2 - Rerren Len - In Sickness and In

    "Hey, Anne," I weakly say as I enter her room. She doesn't respond, her eyes unfocused as she stares up upon the ceiling. I pay no mind, smiling slightly, trudging over to her bed, the great bucket of water I carry impeding my movement.

    "Doing better today?" I ask, pulling away the covers on her bed, revealing her body. A small part of me is disgusted by the sight before me, but I shove that aside. I must tend to her. Carefully, I begin peeling away the blackened bandages covering her limbs - the lesions have reopened. I take that as that answer to my question. I soak a sponge in water, infusing it with my essence as I begin to rub it over her right arm.

    "I'm sure you'll get better soon," I lie - to her, or myself? Her chakras (3) are not reopening, her body splits open further every day, she is... I put the thought from my mind. "Your big brother Len will take care of that." Slowly, as the water washes over her wounds, the lesions begin to close, new skin growing over the old. Water will feed the wood chakram, this should ease her pain at least.

    Once the arm before me is done, I pull fresh bandages off of my belt, and begin to wrap the arm once more - whatever this plague is, it will undo my work, and I should try to keep her from catching another infection. I tie the wrappings off with a knot, and move to her leg. Again, great gaps in her skin gently ooze blood, the only thing keeping her from dying of loss being her weak heartbeat and my work. I wash and close the wounds once more, and rewrap the leg.

    "Don't worry Anne," I say, smiling even as tears of sadness at her state begin to form in my eyes. "I will take care of you. I will not let you die."

    -------------------------

    File #3.3 - Rerren Kaz - Not For Honor, But

    Armor clanks as I step forward, spear in one hand, shield in another. I hate to do this, but... I push open the door, to see them sitting there, supping upon their breakfast. Their attention briefly turns to me as I step into the room, but they do not speak yet.

    Despite the armor encasing me, I lower myself before them - respectfully, but not humiliating. They notice this. Finally, my father speaks.

    "Why do you come before us, like this?" he says, his beady black eyes narrowing upon me.

    "Because I must," I reply, pausing to form my words. "I must implore you to reconsider your decision." The room hesitates at my brazenness - the father had decided, why is the son not following? A chill settles over the room, but the mindless heat filling my mind guards me. I must keep it cool for now, it is not the time.

    "I will not. A dark spirit has descended - only death may free her soul for the next life."

    "She's your daughter!" I roar, leaping to my feet, clenching my fists upon my direlance. "You would throw her away because of - because of a priest's words!?" Keep it cool, Kaz. Don’t give in to your rage. Let the fire build.

    "Don't raise your voice against your father!" my mother shouts, not even sparing a glance to the weapon in my hands. "Know you nothing of piety?"

    "And know you nothing of loyalty?" I yell back, heat building upon my skull, begging to be let loose. "Our sister, your daughter, was dying, and now she is alive! We should be celebrating - not plotting her execution!"

    My father shouts back, standing from his seat and hammering his fist upon the table. "That is not your sister anymore, Kaz! And she is no longer my daughter! Don't you dare-"

    "Then I am no longer your son," I interrupt, hefting my spear. Then, I let the roaring fire pour out of my skull.

    -------------------------

    File #3.4 - Rerren Anne - The Final, Haunting Note of Creation’s Death Dirge

    My eyes look to right, seeing my brother tending to me. But I don't feel his touch upon my body - this must... this must be another hallucination. He mouths something, but a wave of pain rolls over me, and my mind goes fuzzy. Ah... I... I need to rest... I'm just so tired...

    Do you wish to die?

    Do I? Death would end the pain, but... I could not wish to see them in despair. No, no, I suppose I do not wish to die.

    And what would you do to be free of death?

    Anything, I answer. But... who am I talking to? Hah, I suppose one delusion begets another.

    Then, I offer you this. If you damn Creation, damn all those who live there, all in the name of vengeance for the Neverborn... you shall be healed, and more.

    The... Neverborn? A wave of pain rolls over my body, followed by a cold numbness, scattering my train of thought to the winds. My... my time is coming soon, I can sense that. Then, for the family I wish to see happy, even if it means the deaths of all else...

    I barely get my lips to whisper, my voice hardly works, but slowly, slowly, I say those words. And then power floods through my veins.

    -------------------------
    Four years later…
    -------------------------

    File #3.5 - Aftermath

    “Note…” I whisper to my sister as we depart the temple, the cool breeze of air showing that it’s become late, the warmth of the sun on my skin fading.

    “I… I know what you’re going to say, Fuu,” she replies, her voice distant, cool. She probably doesn’t want to have this conversation - not now, likely not ever. But we must. “That I made the right decision… that they would have wanted me to surrender if it meant I might live.”

    A lump forms in my throat as I desperately wish to assuage her feelings. I can feel her give a dissatisfied sigh - I can only imagine the dour expression on her face. I grit my teeth, and try to overpower the hesitation building in my chest, opening my mouth to speak, but she interrupts.

    “I know the reason you kept following me. More than just the bond of a clutch of dragons (4), more than just familial piety,” she says, the sound of her footsteps falling silent as she stops walking. “You knew that my existence damns Creation, after all. Anyone would be excused in turning against their kin, if that were the price.”

    “Anne - “ I begin, but once again she interrupts me.

    “Don’t call me that!” she yells, causing me to wince slightly. “Rerren Anne died. I’m The Final, Haunting Note of Creation’s Death Dirge. Yet still, here you are, following a woman who led your brothers to their death, and wears your dead sister’s skin and pretends to be her!”

    I know she cannot possibly mean those things. Those are only platitudes to appease the Neverborn, who want their servants to cast aside their past lives in service of death. But still, the words still sting my heart.

    “So?” I reply, keeping my tone even. “We didn’t make our oaths to Anne. We made them to Note. We swore that we would follow you until the last of the world slipped into the Abyss, even if it meant our lives. And Kaz and Len… they died protecting you, the greatest death we could dream of.”

    “But that death was in the name of villainy!” my sister answers, her voice growing raw after a long day of emotional hardship. “I can’t remember how many we’ve killed in the name of the Neverborn, the name of the Deathlords - in… in my name!”

    That Solar’s words at the temple must have shattered her mind with the realizations. Her family dead, her pride destroyed, death surrounding her. I suppose I should be glad that her original nature is returning, but…

    “Then, how about it? We turn away from that path and forge a new one, like they asked of us,” I offer, extending a hand towards where I can sense her.

    After a long moment of silence, she takes it, her hand feeling small and delicate in mine, but filled with resolve.

    “Yeah. Let’s do this.”

    Footnotes:
    (1) - The Immaculate Order, the most popular religion in the world. Preaches that the Dragonbloods are the masters of the world.
    (2) - Calibration, the five days at the end of the year that belong to no month or season, where the gods in heaven prepare themselves for the new year. The borders between the worlds are weakest on these days.
    (3) - Chakras are specific clusters on the human body, corresponding to the five elements. They ensure health by properly managing a person’s Essence.
    (4) - A term for a sworn brotherhood of Dragonblood, here referring to Rerren Fuu, Ren, and Kaz.
     
  4. BMPixy

    BMPixy Well-Known Member

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    You might notice this one has no second section. Good reason for that - my players haven’t actually met this antagonist yet, so I don’t know how his story will end. To make up for this, I’ve decided to release an additional two datafiles, hot off the presses, to make up for this. The latter, “Dust to Dust”, will also be incomplete, as it details an antagonist, but I intend on making it longer to compensate. The first, “A Maiden’s Battle Never Ends”, would normally be incomplete, but since she’s one of the player’s allies, I decided to write her post-arc stuff now, and keep it vague and ominous. Fits with her themes, I guess. Anyways, enjoy.

    There once was a maiden…
    Who declared that her blade was a tool of justice…
    Who believed that luck was on her side…
    Who treasured those she loved above all…

    Who, in the end, died.

    -Shishi Tiě, Shogunate Year 31 (Realm Year -665)

    File #4 - Reach Out To The - A Superfluous Actor In A Grander Scheme

    "Your sacrifice will need to be great, to gain the power you seek."

    "True, but I've come this far already." My hands grip upon the incomplete staff in my hand, my eyes running over it, cautiously examining it for flaws. "To turn back would be a waste, after what I've seen."

    My mentor sighs, rubbing his nose. "This part is always the hardest. You've learned the Twenty Truths (1), and your talisman is almost complete. But the next part..."

    "You've explained it to me many times, sensei," I answer. "To complete my initiation, I must kill a part of myself, let it slip into the Abyss."

    He takes a long sip of wine, gazing out upon the balcony. "And... do you know what it is you wish to offer up?"

    I feel my conviction falter for a moment. I know my answer, but to speak it would be to give it certainty. Can I really give that up...?

    "Yes," I answer, steeling myself. "The Truths have granted me some measure of enlightenment - men are meant to suffer and then die. That is the way the gods made the world. But... that cannot continue. It must not continue." I pause for a moment, to collect my thoughts and figure out how to word the desire in my heart.

    "And thus, what you will offer up...?" my master asks, cocking an eyebrow.

    "I will offer up that part of me that says not to help those in need. I will kill my ignorance of others' suffering. That is my sacrifice."

    For the first time today, my master smiles - a wide, toothy thing, displaying infinite pleasure. "In that case, let's finish that walking stick of yours."

    ------------------
    9 years later…
    ------------------

    “Execute him!” “String him up!” “Kill the necromancer (2)!” These are the words hurled at me as I’m hurried up the platform with a rough shove by the town guard behind me - either for show or out of sadism, I don’t care. I nearly stumble, but I will not be defeated by these stairs. No, the only suffering I shall endure today is the rope that is shoved around my neck. I can immediately tell this won’t be a clean execution - the noose is misplaced. I’ll choke to death, rather than a clean snap of the neck. I’m sure the crowd will love that.

    I look out over the crowd, baying and hollering at me as I take my place beneath the gallows. A motley lot of villagers, their Rivertongue (3) thick and accented, their ignorance as plain to see as their clothes. If only I had a little more time… I could have shown these people so much! But…

    An Immaculate priest - a mortal, nothing here worth sending a Dragonblood (4) to - steps forward, a large scroll in his hands as he clears his throat, calling the crowd’s attention.

    “Here ye, here ye!” he begins, and the crowd quiets to listen. “We gather here today to prepare this criminal for reincarnation, so that in his next life he may atone for his crimes in this one. For the crimes of communing with fell spirits, worshipping dangerous spirits without Immaculate guidance, raising the dead, and the possession of deathly goods, we declare that this man’s life is too polluted for him to continue it.” (5) Turning to me, the priest asks, “Do you have any last words?”

    I smile. Giving me my last words will help preventing my hun (6) from persisting after death - at least they’re being courteous about this. Nodding as best I can with the rope around my neck, I open my mouth to speak.

    “All I shall say is this. I apologize for the trouble I have caused all of you. I did all of this with the best of intentions, and as such, I sincerely hope you can put all of this behind us once this affair is complete. That is it.” I close my eyes and smile wider, hopefully giving off some sense of enlightened bliss. My sensei never told me what happened to necromancers after they died, now that I think about it. Well, I suppose I shall find out soon enough.

    The priest gestures to the hangman, and a lever is pulled. As I fall, an offer is made to me for a shot at living.

    I graciously accept.

    ------------------
    6 years later…
    ------------------

    [To be continued]

    Footnotes:
    (1) - The Twenty Truths, the fundamental principles a necromancer must learn. Five groups of four truths, corresponding to the Underworld Elements - Ash, Bone, Pyreflame, Blood, and Void.
    (2) - The Underworld counterpart to sorcery, typically works with the dead and dying. As with sorcery, some spells offer comfort in one’s final moments, and others hasten it all the more.
    (3) - The primary language of the Scavenger Lands, created when Old Realm was splintered into the Directional Languages to help stabilize the Essence of Creation. Here, it sounds like a bastard mix of the Romance languages.
    (4) - Exalt empowered by one of the five Elemental Dragons. Unlike all other Exalts, their Exaltations are hereditary - a Dragonblood’s kids can also become Dragonbloods, depending on the strength of their bloodline. However, they are also among the weakest of the Exalts.
    (5) - The Immaculates don’t like a lot of things. Spirits are to be worshipped according to the schedule, goods from outside of Creation don’t belong to mortals, and other stuff like that.
    (6) - The upper half of a human soul, the seat of their intelligence, personality, and other such things. When a person dies tragically, sometimes their hun does not reincarnate, but lingers as a ghost.
     
  5. BMPixy

    BMPixy Well-Known Member

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    “History will come to judge us. All we can do is survive at any cost.”
    -Amano Kazumi, Gunbuster

    File #5 - A Maiden’s Battle Never Ends - Fire Has Wrought Steel

    There once was a maiden… So many of the Sidereal (1) sutras began like that, it kinda pissed off Fire. Where were the aesops about a cute young boy? The Sidereal shook her head, now was not the time for those kinds of thoughts. Focus, focus, there’s a task to perform. A gnaw at her gut was a reminder from her conscience that what she was resolved to do would define her for the rest of her days, but she shook it away, pushing through her mental resistance at the same time she pushed through the door before her.

    “Jin?” she asked into the bedroom, not seeing the one she was looking for at first glance. “Are you… Are you alright?” Best play the part - he would expect her to be worried and scared for his life after the news spread from the Calibration feast a few hours ago.

    “Fire!” the voice of her lover called out, dashing out from the study and embracing the redheaded woman in his virile body. “Oh thank goodness you’re safe - the feast…”

    Just as quickly, Fire embraced him back, nuzzling into his chest and closing her eyes. “I was planning on going, but when I heard you weren’t going… I’m just glad you’re here.”

    Painfully, the Solar removed himself from the Chosen of Battles (2), grasping her by the shoulders. “Do you know what’s going on? All I heard on I AM (3) was that the Calibration feast was attacked by a host of Dragonblood,” Jin said, locking eyes with Fire Has Wrought Steel.

    “I don’t know the specifics, but I’ve heard that Lin Setsua… No, it’s probably just a rumor…” A seed to fuel Jin’s suspicions was carefully dropped, and a little bit of magic helped worm its way into Jin Lui Eikou’s mind - though considering the rumors were from her, it was likely superfluous. Still, there would be no chances.

    “That bastard, no, he’s definitely trying something. Dammit, and the Deliberative (4) was finally starting to be stable again…” Jin cursed, stepping away from the Sidereal and turning his back. “I need to do something about him…”

    “Are you sure you should act so hastily, Jin?” Fire stepped beside her Zenith (5) lover, placing a hand on his arm and looking up at him, concerned. “If this is indeed a power play - might it not be better to come down on him with the full force of the Deliberative?” A little more magic, nothing enough to flare her anima (6), just to guide his decision making process.

    “Yeah, yeah, you’re right. Can’t be too hasty. Lin would probably spin it as me making a move on him in the chaos.” The great Southern man sighed, his hulking frame sinking in despair. “But we still have to do something about this. We should gather the troops - he might come here next to take me out.”

    “Wait - “ Fire interjected, her pale white hand gripping tighter on her lover’s great brown one. “Please - don’t go rushing off so soon. I… I just want to stay with you a little longer,” she whispered, looking down dejectedly. “I know this is selfish of me, but…”

    The great Solar chuckled, a brief shot of levity to lighten the mood. “Yeah, yeah, I understand, Fire.” Using his other hand to pull Fire’s chin up, he leaned down to give her a quick kiss, which Fire leapt into, deepening it.

    Not yet… The Sidereal whispered in her mind. Please, just let me ignore my duty for a moment longer… But now was too perfect an opportunity. A tear welling in her eye, she drew one of her flamepieces (7) from Elsewhere (8) - Hard Work, she noted - and pressed it to Jin’s chest. Before he could react, she squeezed the trigger, enveloping her lover in a gout of fire, the last of Fire’s passions given form. For his part, Jin took this well, staggering back as the flames caught hold of his form, horror, shock, and then acceptance crossing his expression one after another.

    “So… it wasn’t Lin,” the Zenith said, his back pressing against the great window where the two once studied the stars and each other with gusto. “Why?” he asked.

    “My job demanded it...” Fire whispered, wrapping her arms around her chest as she tried to come to terms with what she just did.

    “Hah…” he chortled. “Did we really go that far? I… I’m sorry you had to do this, then,” the man said, one last smile crossing his face as tears began to drip down Fire’s in earnest. With a mighty crash, Jin Lui Eikou fell, burning flame enveloping his body as the Chosen of the Sun perished.

    And as he did, something inside of Fire died as well.

    ----------------------
    1500 years later…
    ----------------------

    There once was a maiden… the red-haired woman wrote. The first line was always the easiest - just like the first step to enlightenment. That was why it was always a maiden. It provides structure, a point of familiarity, before departing to tell the tale.

    But for the life of her, the Sidereal could never think of a second line to follow the first. That was the great struggle - to figure out what the next step was, where do you go from there. The second line was where the story began, and to write that, you had to know where it ended. But life isn’t that simple - nobody knows when their end will come, not even Saturn (9) as she dines in the Violet Bier of Sorrows (10).

    The Chosen of Battles shook her head. Now was not the time for those thoughts. Fire Has Wrought Steel - no, she was Ruby Minnow to these people, shook her head. Focus, focus, there’s a task to perform.

    Footnotes:
    (1) - Exalted chosen by the Five Maidens. Masters of Fate, stewards of Creation, and beleaguered bureaucrats of Heaven. The smallest group of Celestial Exalted, numbering roughly a hundred in size.
    (2) - One of the five castes of Sidereal Exalted, chosen by Mars, Maiden of Battles. Tend to work heavenly jobs related to fighting.
    (3) - First Age communication network, lost to time. Roughly analogous to the Internet, but more magical, and maybe sentient.
    (4) - The Solar Deliberative, the ruling body of Creation during the First Age. Tended to be troubled by personal vendettas among the Exalted.
    (5) - One of the five Solar castes. Tend to be leaders, prophets, and other such men of the people.
    (6) - Anima is a measure of how much power an Exalt is drawing from her environment. When it reaches a certain amount, it manifests first as a glowing caste mark, then a glowing aura surrounding the individual, then a massive pillar displaying some imagery iconic to the Exalt in question.
    (7) - Guns that shoot pure fire, because gunpowder doesn’t exist and instead we have firedust, which can’t create enough pressure at useful quantities to shoot bullets.
    (8) - Anywhere that isn’t here, or anywhere really. Don’t think about it too hard, it’s where JRPG characters carry their stuff.
    (9) - Saturn, Maiden of Endings. The last of the Five Maidens, watches to ensure that all threads on the Loom of Fate are cut when they must be.
    (10) - Home of the Department of Endings in Heaven, where all sorts of conclusions are planned and woven into the Loom of Fate for realization in Creation. Owned by Saturn.