All information on the current country can be found here:
PLAYERS INVOLVED: @Beaver @SherniKaur
SETTING: A slave camp on the southernmost coast of the Darklands in Millirand. It is located on the smallest island that is, roughly, west of Kadrath.
WEATHER: Currently, a fog has swept over the tiny slave-camp, and a storm is brewing in the distance.
TIME: Stayin' current! The time of day is late afternoon the date is Alu, 43rd day of Kelvar, 20373, and the season is Summer!
CHARACTERS INVOLVED: Sherni for me!
Sherni had never thought that she would ever get used to the crack of the whip-- she had never even thought that she would even have to hear the damned sound.
But there she was, laboring away at another chunk of salt with her gods-awful pickaxe that she detested so strongly, flinching every time that the spiked strip of leather befell some poor slave's back.
Sherni herself was no stranger to the agony of the whip; as dreadful as she thought it was, she, like every newly-arrived slave, had found herself stripped bare from the waist up and threatened to be whipped until her back was nothing more than a slab of meat. There was one escape, though, her captor had told her. A cruel- and ruddy-skinned human with a rotund belly and seemingly in his late thirties, Esther Annigmal had stared at her body, unabashedly leering at her as he cracked the torture device that would make her life a living hell. Until the day she died, Sherni would not forget the unrelenting shudder that his stare sent down her spine; nor would she forgive or forget the ultimatum he had given her: either her back would receive lashes upon lashes until she collapsed from pain, or she would choose another slave from the camp to take her place.
Sherni had decided, and said as much, that he could go to whatever hell the Dark God created for evildoers, for it would be a horrible day indeed when she would give in to the cruelty that the overseers promised to impose on her.
So she took the brutal flogging, holding up until agony dragged her into unconsciousness and long afterward, if what her fellow slaves whispered was true. After her little display of defiance, Esther or some other overseer seemed to always find an excuse to somehow put her up on that block in front of all of the other slaves, shoving her further towards the comforting embrace of Death. She was always given the same choice: choose another slave to replace her or have her back marred by yet another overseer's hand.
And she always spat out the same answer: "Go to hell, you sick bastard."
A glimmer of a smile dancing on her lips at the thought, Sherni drove her pickaxe into the salt once again. She licked her chapped lips, her dry tongue dragging along the rough edges of her skin. Daring a glance upwards, Sherni looked surveyed her surroundings. The slaves were unusually loud, clamoring around towards the sole exit of the camp.
If they were smart, those that tried to escape went somewhere besides the front gate. Archers lined the large walls that surrounded the camp, and the front gate shot charmed spikes that wrapped around the body of the runaway. Without the proper paperwork, whoever tried to leave was already dead.
Whoever came in, though, was watched much less by the overseers and the archers. Sherni had mused that they probably enjoyed having new subjects to torment.
But to the slaves, it was a new person to watch, to add to their numbers. She had heard the whispers of an uprising. If they only had enough people--
Clamoring voices snapped Sherni out of her thoughts. "There's only one?" rasped one. "What makes this guy so special?"
That was odd. New arrivals usually came in batches of fifty to seventy. Twenty slaves at a time were unheard of, but one was legendary.
Her curiosity getting the better of her, Sherni pushed to the front of the crowd to see just what made this newcomer so special-- or so dangerous.
'When your dead, we're still gunna' be with ya. . . .' A gutteral voice said fading out
'Ooh you're gunna get the whip again. It's gunna come again, it's gunna co-ome!' A young girl's voice sang.
'Slithrak's not forgotten the atrocities commited against him. Draw nearer to the blood of the old, draw nearer to the flame of Bul'baka cast out the three, cast out those whom do not breathe the air of pestilence. Servant, do not despise the five's rule, dirty your hands and your heart will follow. Corruption is your fate, turn not from the whims of your masters. Serve Slithrak and you shall attain your ultimate goal. The halls of Lithmor call to you, mar the flesh of your blood and be spared eternity in these halls.' In the darkness the voice of a fanatic's ravings echoed.
'And when yer' dead you'll be with us too' The guttural voice yelled.
Darkness spread across the landscape, decayed ruins illuminated only by the soft glow of molten lava in flowing pools cut into the marble as a figure padded up a set of marble stairs, slowly.
'Hello shell' a distant voice said cackling.
The figure walked onward, naked and bleeding. The figure's features were indescribable. He padded onward and in the shadows figures darted from column to column. They grew closer, testing the dark figure. The figure was in a courtyard now, a huge entrance lined with columns sat in front of him to a colossal crumbling building. The figure padded toward the building. An eerie humming could be heard underneath screams in the distance, screams humanoid and animal. The occasional demonic screech could also be heard. The air smelled of rot and the putrid odor of fresh corpses overpowering the stench of petrified corpses. Upon entering the building a torch was lit, with a strange deep blue fire.
Sitting beside the fire was a small grayish bony creature, bent forward letting out quiet ravenous sounds as it busied itself on the creature in front of him. The figure watched this display as he walked past, only feet away. The creature in front of the small demonic being was brown and spattered in blood, large, larger than the figure entering this place. It was a horse, skeletal and malnourished with its stomach ripped wide open. The horse lifted its head and followed the bipedal figure with its head as he walked near, staring.
The bone thin horse was missing an eye, the skin connecting the eye laid on the socket like a tendril. The grayish figure now bent its body backward, pieces of intestine littering its face as it stared with black beady eyes, its body contorted, arms double jointed and laying behind it now. It opened its lip less mouth half of the skin over the mouth was sewn on, it spoke through the hole in its stretched skin.
'Shell!' The voice seemed to come from inside the figure's head as the creature hissed, it bent its upper body underneath its hind legs, the sound of bones cracking could be heard. The being's legs and arms stayed in the same position, contorted, it grabbed the horse with its teeth and crawled away backward in an insect like scurry, into the darkness with the horse in tow.
The figure continued walking as the room seemed to take shape in the darkness. A carpet from the entrance lead inward with columns lining either side. It was a throne room, on the other side a single globe of lightning sat in front of a large throne. A large demonic twisted creature sat in the throne with a mask of gold. The figure approached the demon. Rustling could be heard all throughout the throne room in the shadows. A continual chorus of whispers permeated the halls along with the sound of bones snapping and footsteps. As the figure approached the throne he passed a column, a green colored ghoul climbed the column hastily, screeching on its way up. A chorus of screeching could be heard among the tops of the columns. Onward the figure padded in his nakedness.
'Your bones will be my armor, your heart mine toy, your claws...' The figure stepped into the glow of the sphere and his hands raised now bound in chains. Sharp claws adorned the tips of his fingers 'Shall be my weapon. Shell.'
"Get the fuck up!" A heavy leather boot kicked The Shell in the temple. The world of pure darkness was replaced by one of dark overcast, cluttered skies greeted him as his vision shifted. He was being dragged through a dirt path with buildings surrounding him. His wrists and ankles were bound by heavy cast iron chains. Two large coarsely furred creatures dragged him behind their backs from his wrist chains. Armored heavily their clubs brandished in their dominant hands. The Shell's face skimmed the dirt path beneath him. Other than a pair of stained and torn braies nothing covered the man's nakedness. On his back countless whip marks coated his skin both fresh and scarred. These markings coated his abdomen and chest as well along with various other cut marks. Areas where his skin had been flayed were also visible on his chest and shoulders.
The Shell was humanoid, but clearly not human as a pair of jet black wolf ears slumped atop his long curly jet black hair. A black wolf's tail could also be seen along with deformed ankles, resembling a canine's and finally oddly shaped feet dragged behind. His captors stopped at a large metal cage as one opened the door and the other pulled The Shell to its feet. His captor grabbed him by his throat and began to beat him about the head and shoulders with an oak billy club. The beating lasted only a few hits before the other captor wrenched him free and threw him into the cage, kicking a hooved foot into The Shell, forcing all of his body inside of the cage. The cage was attached to a horse drawn cart. The vehicle began to roll onward. The sun peeked through the captive's hair, as he lightly gripped the bars of the cage. He looked out at one of his captors walking alongside the cart, inspecting its features. The being was a huge bipedal creature with brown fur, rippling with muscle. a bovine head sat affixed to his shoulders. Brown breeches around his legs. In his daze The Shell thought it was armor he saw earlier upon closer inspection it became clear these creatures had arms and sections of their chest made of metal.
The Shell stared at these appendages until the horned creature turned its huge head toward the captive. He continued to stare, without pause the creature slammed its oaken billy club into the captive's hands, pinning it between the bars.
"Quit fucking staring slave! We got a long trip across the wastes and I ain't spending the trip looking at your piss eyes!" The creature snarled, huffing air from his bovine nostrils. The Shell withdraw, grabbing the hand that was smashed in his other. He could feel blood pooling from his split knuckles. It was a familiar feeling, his gaze shifted to the rider on the front of the cart, his back to the slave. This creature wore a leather jerkin, other than the sleeveless jerkin the only other features visible from its back was straight long platinum hair. The humid summer day only intensified as the path seemed to take a rocky change. The landscape lay in the distance like the ocean's horizon, a seemingly endless expanse of sun scorched planes. The captive looked behind him at another guard on horseback, a creature, long and slender, seemingly elf sat atop a charger, without a bruise on her. She stared at the man as he looked upon her features.
'Kill the wench! She'll do it first. Look at the eyes.'
'If you want to live you'll stick a claw in her throat come feeding time and walk off.'
'Linath please save me from the darkness, I've been stuck in this realm for years hidden among these corpses. You are my only hope...' The voice trailed off
The figure cringed and held his head. There was a high pitched ringing in his ears that seemed to bore through the cavities of his brain. He adopted a pained expression and fell back. Suddenly his head was filled with contorted faces surrounding him, horns and fire took on the landscape outside of the cage. The plane they traveled was now a plane filled with molten lava illuminated by the fires of burning bodies. He looked back at the horse and it was gone, his captors was gone a skinless horse drew the carriage he sat in and the figures around him were gone. Now he looked at the rider, she turned and it was the woman on the horse behind him, except blood dripped from her teeth, her steel blue eyes glowed as she stuck up a hand. Suddenly the high pitched ringing returned and The Shell writhed in pain, whining like that of a wolf.
Suddenly screams could be heard, the landscape melted away and the wolf hybrid jolted up in a pale sweat, knocking his head on the bars as he did. One of the guards looked over at him and chortled, snorting in pleasure. He looked around, the landscape had grown more desolate than before. He must have been asleep several hours midday grew upon them. He snapped his head back to the woman on the charger behind him. Her eyes were affixed to his cage, unmoving. 'She'll kill you' A voice whispered in the confines of his psyche. "Shut up." He spoke. His voice raspy and cold. It took the texture of water running and freezing to ice as his words grew deeper at the end of the statement. There was a hint to an accent at the bottom of his throat but it was impossible to say what.
The caravan pushed onward until eventually the wastes gave way to coastal forests. The procession made an abrupt turn into the woods, following a side path heading west. The caravan continued on until the wagon penetrated the entrance to a compound, a large gate with odd looking markings greeted the Xeriin as he looked around. "Great, another mine." He scanned the compound noting the countless salt covered captives, clamoring at his arrival. There were a few slaves the minotaurs bashed in with their billy clubs, they didn't really seem to be in the way it seemed to be out of sheer enjoyment. The guards here looked different than his captors. His captors seemed to come straight from the bowels of hell, these demons seemed to be less dangerous looking. He stood up now as the procession came to a halt. The woman on the horse dismounted as one of the minotaurs unlocked the cage, grabbing his head in one huge hand and thrusting him out of the cage, toppling over head first. His hocked foot caught the corner of the cage and he sprawled out into the feet of the crowd. Then the platinum blonde elf like creature took her whip out and grabbed either end, shoving it around The Shell's neck and wrenching him onto his feet by the throat. His tail went between his legs as the elf, dressed completely in white placed a hand on his head and began whispering something even he couldn't understand. Suddenly there was a chorus of screams in The Shell's head.
The Shell gasped in pain as the whip grew tighter around his neck and his mind seemed to melt, being washed in white hot pain. "What are you doing to me elf?" The Shell managed between gasps of air. "Halgian, demon. You've--" As the Halgian spoke there was a black discharge that could only be described as black electricity that thrust the Halgian back and the wolf man to his knees. The minotaurs were frozen until they saw the woman grab her hand and wince. One took this opportunity to grab the captive by his leg irons, dragging him, face in the dirt toward his new captors. Chunks of sediment littered the path. He was soon thrust onto a table meant for public torture, his irons were undone and he was able to move his arms and legs freely. "I didn't walk the entire length of the howling wastes so that bitch could kill you. That's the closest thing to mercy you'll see slave." One of the minotaurs grumbled as he let his grip off of the captive.
Suddenly the man steering his carriage was beside him at one end of the table, at the other it seemed the overseer to this mine was inspecting him. The platinum blonde elf spoke loud enough, so the slaves in front could hear it too. "This Xeriin calls himself Metios I sent word earlier he would be useful in this mine. We can't trust him in the castle. At first our master thought it would be a jolly idea to bring a slave that worked the halls of Dunrouk of Kurai into the gold mine under the castle. It worked well and good until the duke's son took a liking to him, suddenly guests started going missing. The little lord was found sawing the head off of a visiting duchess. Now we could have just murdered the beast, but one thing could not be denied. With his arrival the production rate of gold had improved threefold. They really broke this one down in Kurai." Metios pushed his body up from the table, staring at the new overseer, his yellow glowing eyes piercing into the overseer's. Suddenly a huge hand forced Metios' upper body back on the table, his eyes remained affixed, not even letting out so much as a grunt. "Well see how well he does, I thank you for thinking of us here." The overseer said lazily, filling out some sort of document. "Okay brand him, give him the suppression potion and get an axe in his hands." The overseer said pointedly, before a seal was stamped into the parchment in his hand.
Suddenly a hot burning sensation shot through his lower back other than a small cheek twitch Metios hardly reacted. The minotaur branding him grunted in displeasure. "That's the other thing about thisin'. He don't seem to notice pain." This gave the overseer pause and he walked over to Metios. "I am Esther Annigmal, I oversee this operation and so we understand each other perfectly clear-" Esther slammed Metios' face into the table by the back of his head. "-you obey me, and under me you will feel pain, apparently the Duke's men don't know how to inflict it." Suddenly the harsh CRACK of a whip was heard throughout the yard. The first blow stung, opening up a recently closed wound, blood spraying from the whip onto the overseer and Metios' back, there was a pause. Metios did not move, three slow hits came down, the overseer using all of his force, Metios' head bucked slightly at the impact, blood was washing down his back now. "This can all stop." Esther muttered, as another impact slashed between his shoulder blades. "If you pick another slave in your stead." Metios turned his head toward the crowd, eyes unflinching and dead looking, he scanned the crowd, getting his first glimpse at his new pack. His eyes stopped on a woman, slender with turquoise eyes and black hair. His eyes held hers for a while before another lash came down. "Yer just wastin' yer time Annigmal the slavers at the castle used to sit there for hours whipping him, just for practice. Just look at his back." And indeed there was not a spot on Metios' back that was not either flayed or covered in a long scar.
During the gaze he held upon this slave woman suddenly he winced, writhing from side to side, howling in agony. "He is not completely without pain." He heard the Halgian speak from behind him. Suddenly he was on the ground howling in agony, before the minotaurs grabbed him by either arm and held him up facing the Halgian. His teeth grit together and his face sat contorted in pain. "This one is more than Xeriin, we think he is a demon in Xeriin form. His dark energies are undeniable, so I have agreed to accompany Metios to keep him in check." Esther was startled upon the display and watched Metios writhe, feet going limp from underneath him. "Throw him with the others." Metios was dragged into the company of the general population and thrown to the ground, a pick thrown next to him as he lay on the ground, shaking, convulsing and then vomiting. He breathed, grabbed his head and then a pickaxe and made an attempt to stand.
Sherni couldn't believe that this was the person who caused fear to flash in the head overseer's eyes.
Metios-- his name was Metios. His eyes were devoid of any fight and the wolfish ears that rested atop his head drooped as if keeping them upright was a burden. The only emotion he showed were howls of pain, and that was even after the overseer had whipped him. Repeatedly.
Admittedly, his feats in the gold mine were impressive, but that could have just been a coincidence. Or the demon that he was possessed by. Along with the rest of the slaves, Sherni had heard the claim made by the overseers: Metios was a Xeriin and demon-possessed. It was quite the rarity if she recalled correctly. He could have just been a shell that carried a demon, Sherni mused. Any trace of whom he was born might have been eradicated by the corruption of the devilish creature
But despite all of that, he could also very well be the one that got her out of that wretched slave camp; he could be the one that saved them all. He had not chosen anyone to take his place, so that had to mean that a shred of humanity remained in him. Sherni refused to think otherwise.
There was one problem, though. Not one of the slaves moved to help him. It was as if his very presence repulsed them; they clamored away when he was tossed into their numbers, not daring to even touch him. Fear shone in every single one of their eyes. One even fell to his knees and began praying.
Sherni pinched the bridge of her nose, sighing at the weakness of the slaves. "Cowards, every one of you," she muttered. "With all of your talk of an uprising, you still fear them." Sending a wary glance at the overseers, she walked over to Metios, shoving past the other slaves. She gingerly hefted one of his arms over her shoulders, careful of the injuries that seemed to mar every inch of his body-- and that flecked hers.
Upon seeing the damage that had been wrought upon Metios' body, Sherni realized that the slave camp that she had been sent to had been one of the tamer ones and that she should be thankful for the one that she had been sent to.
Every inch of Metios' body was covered with brutal scars. Some had been torn open by the whipping that he had received when he had arrived, and the others by a previous one. His slavers, it seemed, hadn't limited themselves to his back. His chest and abdomen were flecked with scars as well.
Loosing a breath from her lips, Sherni silently thanked whatever gods were listening that she was put into this camp and not in the one Metios had been subjected to. Guilt punched into her gut soon after; what sort of person was she to think that? Sherni shook her head. Later; she would let the guilt wash over her later.
"Let's get you patched up," she murmured. "My name is Sherni, by the way. What's yours?"
She had discovered that others were more comfortable when approached by those that knew virtually nothing about them; somehow, it put them at ease.
As she waited for his response, Sherni half-carried, half-dragged Metios towards Sylba's hut. A cool breeze caressed her unbound hair; she had taken it out of the strip of leather that she used to tie it up when she saw the sun sinking towards the horizon. Twilight was taking over the camp, so the slavers were nudging the slaves towards their huts.
"Sherni? Is that you?" Sylba's melodious voice rang through the walls of the hut as Sherni pushed open the wooden door.
Although the slave camp was designed to torture the slaves, the overseers wanted them to be able to function in their work.
So when Hope had shown up and displayed almost miraculous healing skills, they put her in charge of every single injured slave in the camp. She rose through the ranks and was no longer a slave by the time of her seventeenth birthday.
But because the population was so vast-- and the so many injuries were spread throughout-- Hope was overworked and underpaid. Dark circles lay under her eyes like bruises, causing her practically glowing yellow eyes to be more pronounced, and every night she fell asleep before her body even hit the bed. Yet she decided to stay-- for the slaves... and for Metios.
Metios... the only scrap of family Hope had left. Only in her dreams did she dare imagine the day that he would be reunited with her, for it would be too much to bear if he died.
Hope had conned and charmed her way into this slave-camp for the sole reason that it gathered the most slaves in all of the operations that the head of the slave-camps in the Darklands commissioned. When she had finally gotten herself there, Hope had chosen the name "Sylba" for herself and made herself relevant to the overseers; by the end of the first month at Camp Aurek, Hope had every overseer wrapped around her fingers.
They had even given her a spare hut. While the other slaves slept outside in the cold dark, she had a warm hut to sleep in. Hope had felt a no small amount of guilt over that, but as long as it guaranteed her brother's and her reunion, she would live with it.
When she heard familiar near-silent footsteps, she shook her head to clear her thoughts, calling out, "Sherni? Is that you?"
Hope turned around to face her most frequent patient with a, somewhat plastered, smile on her lips but froze at the sight in front of her.
She vaguely heard Sherni's chuckled reply, lost in staring into yellow eyes-- her yellow eyes. "Metios?" she whimpered. Her eyes raked over his body, instantly finding the injuries that were "Metios!" Cursing under her breath, Hope, helped Sherni bring her lost-- or was he found now?-- brother towards her own cot.
Metios grabbed the pickaxe that was thrown next to him in his offhand as sat on his knees, breathing heavily. The crowd around him had cleared out the second he was thrown in their direction. One man began to pray. Metios' face was still contorted in a grimace of pain at that time. A ringing in his ears resonating from one to the other, slowly lessening with each passing second. His grimace turned to a soft snarl as he stared at the man praying to L'zayn.
'There's another soul to the list. L'zayn's mercy won't help this one in hell, his essence has been marked.' A basso voice proceeded the numbing ringing.
'Are there no gods left in this darkness?' A small and distant whimpering voice cried before an echoed scream was heard.
Suddenly a woman was upon Metios he was stiff as she helped him to his feet, somewhat shying away from her touch. The other slaves watched in astonishment, more than them Metios was himself surprised. They whispered, doing a bad job at hiding their glances and words. Metios' ears picked up semblances of conversation whispered among the slaves. Demon was a primary word on their waggling tongues. 'They think me a demon?' He breathed out in a breathy chuckle, resembling a silent cough as he was raised to his feet. He inspected the woman, catching a glimpse of her eyes darting to his wounds. "Let's get you patched up." the woman said after scanning his features. She had distinctive scent, which Metios' nose picked up on rather quickly. Underneath the scent of sweat blood and salt he took in her true smell, occasionally letting out a deep sniff.
This was the one who caught his eye when he was being whipped. Interesting she was the one to come to him. "My name is Sherni, by the way. What's yours?" Her voice seemed helpful and he threw another quiet glance over toward her face. "Metios. Sherni. . ." He repeated to himself. His voice was raspy, growing deep near the edges of each word. Suddenly a silence came to his mind. Usually there was constant clamor coming from his mindscape, right now it was silent and his ears perked up, flinching slightly as they did so. His ears scanned in every direction. He looked back at the woman carrying him, his stiffness went from him and his tail slowly flicked from one side to the other, brushing up against this human. She was taller than Metios by a couple of inches her ink black hair sat among her shoulders he saw one of her marks, still somewhat fresh. He ran a finger over the mark on her back. "They are wrong about this one. Metios does feel sting from leather. Metios does not always stay awake..." His voice was a growl.
His back felt as if someone had pressed a torch against it, another feeling he was not unused to, his eyes did not show it however they remained dead looking. He broke his gaze from the human, a claw lightly scraped from her wound back around her shoulder until he heard a voice come from a small hut in front of him. It stopped him in his tracks and his eyes widened, suddenly his nose picked up a familiar scent. "Sherni? Is that you?" Suddenly his mind was alive.
'Blood of the shell!'
'You've been sent to this place for a purpose destined from the blood mother of Delgraden. You know what to do shell.'
'The halls of Lithmore call for you, the blood of your blood will set you free. Save your anger for the soulplane and your power shall grow tenfold upon the walls of Slithrak's design.'
The voices all came at once screeches and laughter resonated in his head, slowly consciousness began to fade, until he closed his eyes in an attempt to calm them, they did not cease, Metios did however remain conscious. He attempted to take a sideways step but his leg buckled and the pickaxe he was dragging stopped him from falling. He stood, tail tucked around his leg she stepped out of the tent he knew it was her. His eyes caught hers a reflection of his. Her eyes glowed with a brilliance and he felt as if he was staring into his own image reflected in a lake.
They blurted each other's names in unison. He was still frozen. She repeated his name as she broke her gaze, eyes skimming over his ill treated wounds. She approached him and he held back an overpowering urge to dig his jaws into her throat as she began to carry him into the tent with help of Sherni. A stiffness returned to him and his movements were slow and withdrawn. His mind was still clamoring with wails and fanatic rambling. This time his face showed a visible tormented pain. Images flashed across his eyes of his time in the slave camps of Dunrouk. The twisted creatures real in his eyes the stench of death overpowered by the smell of sulfur. He was silent, sitting on the bed, eyes downcast. He allowed Hope and Sherni to speak, say whatever was on their minds and was silent through most of it including whatever was aimed at him. He looked up and stared at Hope in the eyes.
"Hope... This one never though he would see you again. Metios gave up after we were separated. After our home was set ablaze and they sent you to that. . . place." He stopped for a long moment, clenching his jaws together as another torrent of screams erupted in his mind. He continued. "Sister, they demand your blood and these claws." He said raising his hands, inspecting the tough claws tipping each of his fingers. "These claws are theirs. I am just a vessel for Slithrak, servant to Lithmor. A lesser general in the bowels of hell. Your brother is just a shell now. You should not spend tonight behind these walls." Metios' voice rasped, this was the most he had spoken in a long time. His demeanor fluctuated wildly, some words becoming deeper other words he uttered seemed to suddenly adopt a furious tone of voice, the closer he got to the end of the statement the more somber and controlled his voice seemed to get. He rose, walking toward the entrance, he stopped looking back, yellow eyes shining through the darkness, teeth bared as he spoke. "It is not safe behind these walls after dark, death and darkness is Metios' best weapon, and nobody will ever see him." He shot a glance at Sherni the voices quieted as he stood in the doorway.
Memories that Hope had desperately wanted to bury flashed through her head. Being sent to Madame Clarisse's brothel was both a gift- and a curse.
Being forced to serve in there made Hope begin to realize that what she lacked in physical strength could be made up with mental prowess- and late-night exercises. In the months that she spent there, enduring the torture of the "services" she had to provide, Hope began to observe little things. Lustful looks between those forbidden from each other here; glances of hatred between alleged soul-mates there.
Hope had learned to be cunning, had learned to become the predator instead of the prey that people thought she was.
They regretted their mistakes soon enough.
So when Metios told her that he would kill her if she didn't let him go, she squared her shoulders, strutted over to her brother like she owned the place, which she did, and snarled right back at the demons in his mind that she knew were snarling for her blood.
Her tone low and menacing, Hope drew out the words, "You will put yourself right back on that cot, brother, or The Ten save me, I will knock you out and tie you there myself."
Sylva's true name was Hope.
The behavior she had just witnessed from Silva was a far cry from the sweet, shy girl that Sherni had gotten to know-- or she had thought she had gotten to know.
Sherni hid her shock from the two, though she knew that it wouldn't matter anyway; Metios and Sylva both appeared ready to get into an all-out brawl.
So Sherni watched.
And waited for the right time to intervene.
Metios watched as his sister crossed the room, observing the confidence in her stride. The beauty she possessed was undeniable even so his tail stood tall behind him, the hair on his tail standing up, giving it a puffy look. He bared his yellow teeth his facial features scrunching up into twisted look of anger as his eyes narrowed and his brow lowered. His yellow eyes stared into their very own reflection. With his arms held out to his sides he clenched his fists, loosening the grip and repeating. Metios was now the visage of a primal fury his apathetic defeated look gone with the day.
Fury bubbled over in his bowls as his sister spoke, a light growl emitting from his throat, behind bared fangs. "You will put yourself right back on that cot, brother, or The Ten save me, I--" Something inside him shifted, suddenly his heart felt like it had rotated in his chest and he felt a chill go up his spine, infecting his appendages. The voices were fully awake now, the silence he had experienced when his eyes befell Sherni had ceased. They were screaming now, overpowering his thoughts.
'And the torture became flesh and infected those among us, and you have felt his wrath as a human remembers their weakness before the gods stepped in.'
'Kill her' A voice yelled
'Kill her' A voice whispered.
'Kill her" a echoed.
'The defiler speaks against the five, drink from her jugular and enjoy your most carnal of desire as her soul fades into hell."
"--and tie you there myself." Metios thrust his arm out with remarkable speed not a second before she finished speaking. He let out an animalistic snarl as he did so. His palm was planted firmly on her face, large hands outstretched, gripping down on her cranium and cheek, her nose mushed into his palm. One of her eyes was still fully visible between his fingers. He was shaking, able to to contain himself enough not to let the demons fully take over. 'Remove her eye mortal!' one voice boomed above the others. His claws dug into the skin of her cheek and forehead just enough so his tips pierced her skin.
If she pulled away his claws would likely drag across her face, leaving large wounds. His low growl had ceased as he went to take two steps closer his body was moving irregularly as he still shook. There was an air of unpredictability surrounding the beast, his face contorted. He said nothing as he looked into her visible eye.
Sherni knew that things had gone to hell as soon as Hope had uttered the name of the Gods.
Metios' eyes had shifted to the hunger of a demon-possessed. Sherni had expected him to be angry; she had expected him to attack her because she was the woman he had just met.
What she had not expected was for him to attack his own kin.
As fast as lightning, the Xeriin's hand had shot out and grabbed Hope's face. His claws dug into her skin, drawing blood. Sherni cried out and moved forward to knock it away, but before she could even reach her, Hope grabbed his arm. One by one, she pried his fingers off with her other hand."I will mention our- my and my little brother's gods- any time that I please," she simply said, but her tone implied a threat. She released his hand
Sherni instantly rushed to Hope's side, pushing herself between the two siblings. "Syl-Hope? Are you alright?" Sherni watched Metios' every move, not daring to take her eyes off him even as she talked to Hope.
"Yes. I am perfectly fine," Hope replied. As if nothing happened, Hope wiped the blood away with a careless swipe of her hand. She knew that she would have to be more careful now that Metios' demons had shown what they were afraid of.
And yet... there was a voice inside of Hope that implored her to help him. To heal him, and perhaps make the fiends that shadowed his mind see reason. "I want to help you, little brother. I will not mention the Gods if you allow me to heal you."
Hope knew how powerful words could be. The simple word "allow" would cause the demons that haunted him to think that they were in control; it would allow them to think that they were safe. Whether or not it was true wasn't the same story.
"Help them see the way," the voice begged again. A presence of Light graced her mind, shifting her features. Her eyes melted to a lighter yellow; the color of her pupils turned to the purest of whites.
"Don't kill them. Be kind... be true," it whispered.
Hope frowned, her brows furrowing. Summoning up her willpower, she tried to block out the voice of the presence, but it seemed that it didn't matter anymore.
The presence faded away into the expanse of her subconsciousness. Even if she tried, she couldn't reach it.
As Metios went to step toward his sister Sherni suddenly thrust herself between the two as Hope dug out his claws from her face. He stopped in his path. A breeze blew throughout the camp, pushing the door to Sylba's hut closed. Metios' head jerked toward the sound, where his gaze remained for several long seconds. His mind was ablaze with screaming demands of blood as he fought to regain his sanity.
His vision was blurring almost to the point he felt he was going blind, he turned his head back to the two within inches of him. His eyes fell upon Sherni; she was positioned awkwardly in between him and his sister. He could feel his lips still curled in an angry sneer and felt blood drip from his claws both where they pierced his own palm when he clenched his fists and from his sister's face. His chest heaved more slowly now as he stared into the slave's turquoise eyes.
His lip lowered to hide his fangs and his eyes softened ever so slightly, it was a long moment before he looked at his sister, over Sherni's shoulder. "If you insist." He said simply. He raised a bloody hand to Sherni, where it hovered over her cheek, dripping down his arm. "Sherni's kindness has caused much complication, human." His head was tilted downward as he glared. "And now, blood's been drawn." He touched Sherni's face with his index finger and thumb, caressing her chin and cheek with either finger. The blood left a smear as he retracting his hand. He turned abruptly and padded to the bed, hopping up, and squatting down, his tail flicked from side to side.
Sherni cocked her head to the side as Metios hopped back to the cot. She had noticed that Metios seemed... calmer when she looked him in the eye, so perhaps if she maintained eye contact while he was having an episode, he would be more subdued.
"Now what?" she hissed to Hope as soon as he squatted on the cot. "He's clearly insane."
"Not insane... lost," Hope replied, her yellow eyes far away. "We just need to get him back."
Sherni shook her head. "We can't do nothing. Did you see how he acted when you mentioned the gods?"
"I know that you've been working to escape this place for a long time and that you think that Metios is the key to that," Hope snapped. "Give me some time to help him and we will get out of here--together."
Shocked into silence by Hope's new persona, Sherni nodded. After a few beats of silence, she finally said, "Heal him. Then we're getting out of here."
Hope dipped her head, swallowing. "Thank you."
Sherni only shrugged and walked towards the flaps of the tent. "I will be outside if you need me."
With that, she walked out of the tent.
As soon as she was out, she crumpled to her knees and began to sob. But her misery was short-lived; the rancid stench of a slaver greeted her.
Sherni whipped her head up, leaping to her feet. She backed away toward the tent, but the centaur grabbed her arm.
“What do you think you’re doing, slave? You’re not supposed to be out at this time,” he smirked, knowing that he had a new toy to play with.
Sherni shuddered, repulsed by his malodorous breath and his closeness. “I was just going inside…” She tugged at the hand that was holding her, freeing herself from his grip and stumbling backwards.
“I don’t think that will be necessary.” A hand gripped Sherni’s shoulder from behind and covered her mouth to prevent her from screaming. The centaur smirked, tapping the club he held against his hand. His green eyes leered at her. “Why don’t we have some fun, you and me?”
Sherni didn’t have time to try to defend herself before the centaur slammed his club into her head.
Hope turned around and walked over to her younger brother, hiding the hurt that was clearly written on her face. She didn't mean to cause a rift to fall between her and Sherni, but somehow... it happened.
But she had a job to do; she couldn't let her personal feelings for Sherni interfere.
Placing her palms on his chest, she pushed Metios towards the cot, silently commanding him to lay down. The cot was two feet tall, eight feet long, and ten feet wide, in case a centaur were to become injured. Brown woven leather lay in between the wooden posts that held up the cot, but Hope wasn’t deceived by how small it was; she had learned time and time again that the weave was strong enough to hold the heaviest of the camp.
She turned her attention back to her brother and smiled with saccharine kindness, wiggling the fingers that lay on his bare chest.
"I'm going to heal you now," she said sweetly, coaxing him towards sleep with her magic. "Don't worry; you'll be completely fine."
She was lying; of course, Metios would be completely fine.
But the demon that haunted his mind? It was a completely different story.
The Xeriin alllowed himself to be laid down onto the large cot with his sister's non verbal guidance. He did not however favor the idea, only acquiesing to allow this whole interchange to be over and done with. Metios desired solitude, silence from the voices that permiated his mind. As he was laid down on the bed he began, suddenly to feel a distinctive fatigue, creep from his sister's fingers into his body. Exhaustion began to overcome him as he soon became privy to his sister's guise.
He attempted with all of his might to rise from the cot, eyes darting from one side of the room to the other. Wild were his actions like that of a confused animal as he weakly thrashed a limp arm. As his strength left him he could feel his eyes shutting and his body and legs begin to sink deeply into the cot.
"Wh--at are you..."
As he laid his head back, mouth agape, he could feel himself drift unto unconsciousness. It was here in this plane of consciousness, teetering between sleep and the waking world that a hand thrust up toward his sister's forehead. It held her there as Metios began to snore, a dark mist emitted from his hand likely blinding his fellow Xeriin as it lingered around his hand. A pulsing electricty could be felt leaving his body, pulling Hope's own host into the machinations of Metios' mind as his consciousness faded slowly into his mindscape. Metios suddenly came to cold and naked, skin bare against a chilling rock floor.
He could feel warmth trickle from his abdomen, his eyes opened slowly to be greeted by the sight of a grey ghoul busying itself at his stomach. It's back contorted and its limbs overly long and double jointed, it was ripping at his stomach trying to reveal the entrails that lay hidden behind his milky flesh. Metios let out a pathetic howl as a white hot pain engulfed him. The creature's head sprung up catching Metios' eyes in its own black beedy eyes. Its mouth was sewn shut, but was bleeding where a huge chunk of its own face had been ripped away, black, pointed teeth exposed. The entire space around them was pitch black, Metios' eyes only adjusted due to his canine ability.
The creature let out a demonic rumbling growl as Metios hands groped desperately the black space next to him. Blood seeped from the chunk missing in the creature's mouth and cheek as it suddenly pushed itself up from his own body, its double joints outstretched on all fours. Its growl continued as it crawled in a mechanical and unnatural manner toward Metios' face. "Shellll..." The creature's hissing voice interupted Metios' thoughts as it continued to growl in the mindscape. As it approached, slowly, limbs twitching from one position to another Metios found his hand grasping a rock, he held tightly and flung the rock into the creature's temple.
With the force of Metios' strike, his body flipped sideways, having been on his back, now flung to his left side. The demonic creature was thrust to the sidelong, frantically writhing with the blow, its limbs giving out from the trauma inflicted upon its head as it bucked. A high pitched squeal emitted as it fell onto its chest, lifted itself, lost the strength in its left arm, buckled, then pushed itself into the darkness with its hind legs contorted inward. It's legs were soon the only thing pushing itself onward as it began to spin in a circle on the floor. It was dying a traumatic death, squeeling all the way. Metios broke his vision from the creature now realizing where he was as his eyes finally adjusted to the darkness surrounding him.
He was in some sort of dungeon, humanoid creatures bound to the wall, entrails hanging, flesh rended. His eye stopped on a humanoid chained to the wall, conscious. Unaware that it was Hope's lightbeast, he grabbed his stomach, the pain still washing over him. He held his stomach, containing its contents as he weakly pulled himself to a sitting position, the pain only intensified as his body attempted to use his stomach muscles to sit. He stood slowly, crying silently from the pain, exhaling in quick a quick and broken up succession.
He began to limp toward the creature whom was bound by chains to the wall. He stepped over a shallow trench cut into the stone wall where blood flowed into a pool. He moved to the wall, where he practically fell onto the beast's naked stomach, laying his head on her belly. "You shouldn't have tried to save Metios, Hope." Metios said not realizing this creature was not his sister in its mindscape's form and truly her own host. He looked up with a true pain in his eyes, more than he'd expressed in reality. "Now your soul's gunna' die here."
Metios' body let go of Hope's head in the slave camp, black mist disappearing, he was fast asleep as a soft doglike whine emitted almost silently from his lips in a steady unrelenting manner. Hope's lightbeast was now a guest in Metios' mindscape.
It was cold here.
Hope’s healing magic was still closing the whip marks on Metios’s back, but she had entered her brother’s mindscape. Her eyes still shut, Hope clutched her arms to ward off the cold. She inhaled deeply and focused on her reiatsu; white-gold light flared from her hands, spreading across her shoulders, her neck, her chest, and lower, warming her like a furnace. Once her magic did its job, it faded back into her skin.
Opening her eyes, the Xeriin studied herself and her surroundings. Gray was everywhere; it was spread across the ground like a child had sprayed the dull color all over, it was painted in the sky--
And it was all over the gray ghoul that was gnawing at Metios’s abdomen.
Hope slapped her hands over her mouth to prevent herself from crying out. Metios seemed to have no such inhibition; he let out a howl of agony.
“Shell,” the ghoul intoned in a rasping voice.
Letting out another pained whimper, Metios flung the ghoul dozens of feet away from him. Turning around, he limped into the gray complex that Hope could have sworn wasn’t there seconds ago. She sprinted after her brother, calling his name. It seemed that he didn’t hear her because of the pain because he continued further into the dungeon. Every sob that shook his shoulders was a blow to Hope’s gut, but she couldn’t risk frightening him away. When he knelt against some poor beast that was chained to the wall, she hurried over to Metios and knelt right next to him. Her tail flicking back and forth with anxiety, Hope reached out for her brother's injuries, her hands already glowing with white-gold reiatsu. “Shhh,” she murmured soothingly. “You’ll be fine, Metios… you’ll be just fine…” In case that wasn’t enough to calm him down, Hope began to sing to him the melody of his favorite childhood song; her bewitching voice rang throughout the dungeon, and the moans of the pained soon were replaced by the gentle breaths of the soothed.
She had healed every single beast that was still alive… with her voice.
Hope didn’t seem to notice what she had done, though; she was too focused on Metios; leaning her head against his shoulder, she continued to heal the wounds in his abdomen. Don’t leave me, Metios, she silently begged. I can't lose you again.
Blinking rapidly at the bright lights in her eyes, she sat up, wincing at the throb of pain at the back of her head. She gingerly probed the wound behind her black hair, flinching at the sharp pain that answered; it was definitely going to leave a nasty bruise.
“Our sleeping beauty wakes,” a familiar voice announced.
“Esther,” Sherni snarled, lunging for the minotaur. Her arm snapped out, hitting him in the nose. Satisfied with the loud crunch and the howl of pain that followed it, Sherni barely felt him backhand her in response.
“If you want to keep that hand,” Esther growled, “then you’d better start showing some respect, girl.”
“My name,” Sherni growled right back, “is Sherni.”
“Where’s the fun in calling you that?” he grinned, letting out a sharp whistle. Two of his lieutenants--one black and one white--emerged from the outside of the tent.
Sherni saw that as her chance to escape and lunged for the door, the pain throbbing in her head and cheek forgotten as adrenaline rushed through her veins. The two other minotaurs had anticipated her move, though, and they each caught her arms. “Let me go!” she yelled, kicking the black minotaur in the leg. He barked with pain and his grip loosened a bit--but that was enough for Sherni to rip her arm out of his grasp and elbow him in the neck. As he doubled over, trying to suck in air, Sherni kneed the white one between his legs.
“Enough!” Esther bellowed, grabbing Sherni by the hair; her vision momentarily went dark from the pain emitting from the wound at the back of her skull. “Tie her down.”
The two minotaurs obeyed, though Sherni smugly noted that the dark one walked with a slight limp from where he had kicked her, and the light one occasionally grimaced.
Esther dusted himself off. “Now, as I was saying… my lieutenants have discovered that some of the slaves here are planning a rebellion. Is that true?”
Sherni was silent, but her mind was racing with thoughts. Who had told him about their plans?
“That’s what I thought.” He nodded to the dark minotaur. “You and Raht here her going to get to know each other.”
Raht's grin was animalistic as he unclipped something from his belt--a bone-white knife, serrated at the edged and with a gold hilt. There were drops of what seemed to be blood staining the blade. Fear ran up and down Sherni’s spine and she swallowed.
“Don’t stop until she breaks, but do remember to keep her alive,” Esther practically purred.
Raht dipped his head. “Of course.”
“I’ll leave you to it, then.” With one last smirk at Sherni, Esther walked out of the tent; the light minotaur followed him.
Refusing to show her fear to Raht, Sherni calmly turned her turquoise eyes to him and spat at his feet. “Do your worst.”
Unfazed, the dark minotaur bared his teeth. “You'll beg for death after this.”
Then he brought the knife down upon her skin.
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