Topic: The Corruption Hidden Beneath the Surface...
Subject: flashback: the break
It has been three excruciating days since Kith first arrived in this place. Or has it been four?
Ever since the stabbing of the hateful Hagan, things have settled into a more or less "normal" routine - normal for a plane of misery, that is.
For the most part, Kithran has been kept alone in her room. She has been given the blessed freedom to move around the room as she sees fit, but there is precious little to do. From time to time, a younger acolyte might come in to bring food or empty the chamber pot, but they never say a word or even make eye contact. Only Davena communicates with Kith.
Davena is swift to punish for the slightest infraction - real or imagined, and can be particularly jealous of proximity to the door. Touching it is absolutely forbidden, and Davena has been exceedingly clear on that point.
The priestess is fond of her blister stick - and is very creative in its application - though she also uses her knife liberally. She has taught Kithran why the expression "salt in the wound" exists (thought literal application of said substance), has shown how tender the nail beds of fingers and toes can be.
And yet, Davena never grows truly angry. If Kithran disappoints her, Davena always wears a weary, pained, sorrowful expression when she punishes. She is always kind and gentle and caring after the wounds are healed, makes it a point to embrace Kithran, to stroke her hair, to whisper encouragements.
On this afternoon, a young man dressed in priestly garments lets himself inside of the room. He pushes a blondish lock out of his face and grins maliciously. "Yer friends 're dead, ya know tha, right? Ah 'eard it meself, 'ow they was eatin' by tha ghouls."
Kithran looked up from her legs sprawled before her. All things considered, caning was not such a terrible punishment, though it still amazed her how quickly she could go from never wanting to walk again, to her legs feeling perfect and pain-free. The ghost of the pains, the ghosts of the places her mind went to during the worst of it, they were what were truly beginning to get to her.
The punishments were of course horrific, and she would sooner slit her throat than have to endure that blistering once more, but any perception of movement against Davena’s will only brought her wrath--and that included moving to kill herself. If there was any grace, it was that she knew Davena needed her, and so the punishments had to end, and with the end came the indescribable relief of the healing, as well as the lovely priestess’ coddling while her mind found its way back to her.
What never went away were those ghosts. Only one thing had kept them at bay in the three or four or dozen or so days she had been in this place, and that was the hope she had for her friends and family. She had given up on the gods, and even Rrowl, but there was no doubt in her mind that the others remained.
And so, when that little worm slithered into her room to taunt her with his verbal poison, Kithran smiled sweetly back at him and stood, walking his way, “Oh? Is that so?” And she strikes out at his jaw.
Kith's swing takes the young man completely off guard. Her fist connects with a satisfying wet thud, and he flails as he falls backwards, crashing into the table en route to the floor. "Ya little BITCH," he hisses, one hand on his jaw.
For a moment, it looks as if he will lunge at the rogue, but the expression on his face suggests that something makes him think better of the idea. The corner of his mouth opposite the one struck turns up in a smirk. "That's aw right," he spits as he regains his feet and backs toward the door.
Kithran stalks him as though prowling her prey, her glare pressing the daggers she missed so dearly into his face, but she stops a safe distance from the door as he skitters through.
"I 'ave somethin' you'll love, ya will."
The priest retreats, leaving Kith alone with a smashed table. She looks back at it and shakes her head. The priestess would not be happy when she saw the mess. Her mind wanted to flee just thinking about it.
The respite doesn't last long, as he is back within ten minutes or so. He carries a long bundle wrapped in rags. Gleefully, he holds it up and Kith steps away from trying to sort out the rubble of the table to see what the worm has.
"Don't believe me, do ya?" he jeers. "I saw the spellbook o' tha little one. Soaked in blood, it was. But this - they say tha' syl bitch screamed as tha ghouls ate 'er innards. 'Parrantly, syls canna be paralyzed by tha ghoul bite. Rest 'a yer friends went quietly, they say, but tha' bitch died screamin' an' cursin'."
Kithran takes another threatening step toward him, her hands clenching again, “Shut the fuck up. If your dick monsters killed a screaming bitch, they did not kill Aranwen.” She reaches behind her to grip the back of one of the chairs and grins, “Keep talking though, you sniveling little shit. I will already be punished for your inability to take a hit, I might as well double-up while we’re here.”
Smirking, the young priest slips the rags away.
The blade is chipped and covered in dried gore. The handle has a fair amount of dried blood on it - ghouls don't bleed, so that came from a living being. But Kithran would know that ornate work, the filigree on the blade, the intricate carvings anywhere. This is no common sword. This is a work of deadly art. This is a Bladesinger's blade, the sort that can never touch the ground, can never be abandoned or dishonored.
This is Aranwen's sword.
Kithran’s hand falls loosely to her side, and like the tension in her shoulders, the vitriol in her face melts away. She takes another step forward, this time though it is not to stalk her prey, but so that she can see better, so that she can prove her eyes wrong.
“No,” she says in a voice so soft it doesn't sound like her own. She takes another step and reaches out, but the acolyte gleefully steps away from her, “No, let me see. That’s . . . that’s not Aranwen’s sword. You’re lying to me,” her voice begins to raise as each glimpse of the blade, of the handle, of every part of the beautiful weapon screams Ara’s name back at her, “You and Davena are trying to mess with my mind again! I don’t believe you! Let me see the sword!” And the thief lunges at the man, grasping with all she has for the Bladesinger’s blade.
The events of the next few moments are a blur. Kithran's wild grab is of the blade itself, which slices her palm wide open. Heedless of the pain (perhaps a positive side effect of the hours spent with Davena), the rogue refuses to let go, grabs, pulls, wrestles with the young priest. The two end up in a pile upon the ground, struggling for advantage.
Naturally, the door opens, and Davena's frigid tone calls an instant halt to the scrum. "What is the meaning of this?" she demands.
Kithran pulls herself away, blade held defiantly, blood pouring from her palm. The young priest bears a couple of small cuts of his own, though the majority of the blood on him - and there is a lot of it - has come from Kithran.
"She attacked me!" he brays indignantly as he scrambles to his feet. "Twice!"
The priestess' icy blue eyes fix him. "And you came to taunt her, did you not?"
He pales, seems to shrink into himself. "Yes, Mistress."
Davena's mouth forms into a thin line. "I will deal with you momentarily, acolyte." Her gaze turns to Kith.
"You are a mess, dear one. You are bleeding, and the state of this room is shameful." She pauses for a moment, speaking very evenly. "Kithran, what exactly do you intend to do with that sword?" she asks.
Kith’s grip, slick with blood, tightens around the beautiful hilt of Aranwen’s sword, and her breathing is ragged as her gaze flits from acolyte to priestess. Finally, her black eyes settle on Davena, and the priestess can see clearly they’re no longer filled with anger, but with desperation, “Did you kill my family?”
Davena's eyes are somehow kind, even knowing the depth of pain that she can inflict. "Kithran," she speaks softly, holding her hands up in a non-threatening gesture, "your friends died fighting the dead, as you knew that they would. I told you shortly after you first woke here that they would not survive. You know this."
She shakes her head. "I did not kill them; I was here with you, helping prepare you for the great gift you are to receive. I am sorry for your pain, darling, I truly am - but this is how it had to be. You understand this."
She glances sidewise at the acolyte. "This was not the way that you were to learn of their deaths, however. There was no need to take glee in your pain, no need to make it worse than it had to be."
The priestess opens her arms. "Come to me, Kithran. Let me help you bear the pain, as I have helped you so far."
Kithran screams and falls into a crouch, her hands on either side of her head. She screams in pain and sorrow, and a pure hopelessness she had never felt before. She notices Davena take a comforting step toward her and she jumps back up, holding the sword out at her.
“You know what I meant!” she growls at the priestess, her anger returned, “You control these things, you could have stopped them! You could have done, something! Now I’m alone agai--” She chokes on the lump in her throat she was trying to suppress, and takes a step toward the woman, “Everything I had is gone because of you!” And with all of the swiftness and pain she had left, she strikes out at Davena.
Full of anguish, she swings the blade wildly at the priestess. The swing is clumsy; the sword is much longer, much heavier than the daggers that the rogue is accustomed to fighting with. However, the act takes Davena by surprise, and the swing opens a long, bloody gash along the priestess' forearm.
Eyes flashing with anger, Davena calls upon D'hurgen, commanding Kithran to "HALT". The young woman feels the god's power flow into her body, compelling her to obey... but so angry and hurt and upset is she, that Kith is able to resist the influence, and she swings again.
This time, Davena is ready, and she calmly avoids the wild strike. Again, she calls upon her dark god, commanding the rogue to stop - and this time, Kithran is unable to resist the power.
When Kith freezes under the god's compulsion, Davena chants again, this time placing a stronger enchantment upon the young woman. The blonde woman's face is pinched, her lips tight, her eyes hard.
"Dear, dear child," she speaks carefully, "you are hurting, and angry, and frustrated. I understand all of this. You believe that I do not grasp how you feel... but my own mother was killed by the church when I was but a girl. I know the feeling of aloneness that you feel. I know the rage and the pain, I truly do."
She shakes her head. "You ask why I 'did nothing' to save your friends. You act as if there was some other possible outcome. You forget the situation, darling. YOU ARE THE CHOSEN ONE. You, and you alone, will bear the Devourer's anchor. Everything else - even my own life - is secondary to this. Unless your friends had chosen to leave this place and never return, I could not intercede in their fate."
Her tone softens a bit. "I was... fond of your Bladesinger. Aranwen was a remarkable woman; her fate brings me sorrow. But think of her, think of your friends. They died good deaths, fighting for what they believed. What more can anyone hope for? Save perhaps the young priest, do you honestly think that any of your friends would pick any other end to their lives? I met them. I broke bread with them. None of them would choose death in a sickbed after years of enfeeblement and age! They would wish you to celebrate their lives, not mourn their deaths!"
The voice is tinged with sorrow. "I have tried to be patient with you, dear one. I have tried to open your eyes to the wonder that is this gift. I have tried to help you, to hold you up, to comfort you. Your spirit is so very admirable; your strength is commendable, truly."
There is iron in that melodious voice now. "But if you will not learn, if you continue to refuse the gift... my Lord's will is not changed. The anchor will still be brought forth. I had hoped to save you the pain, to save your mind, your self. If you insist on having your entire self shattered so that naught but your shell remains to carry that seed... so be it."
So be it, Kithran thought as emotion wracked her immobile body, she had wanted to be given the gift of oblivion from this task the priestess wanted of her from the beginning. With the others gone, without little Midge, sweet Cedric, steady Gib; without Ch’dau and Aranwen out in the world waiting for her . . . she would rather forget the world existed. All it offered her now was the promise of unimaginable pain and torture. She didn’t want to think about it anymore. She didn’t want to be alone again. She didn’t want anymore ghosts haunting her. She wanted to be gone from herself forever. So be it.
Davena’s eyes cut to the skulking acolyte. "Strip her," she commands. The young man complies quickly, fearfully - unlike Hagan, his eyes and fingers do not linger; he rushes through the task and immediately retreats.
"Now, darling," Davena speaks, her voice heavy with sorrow, as she stands before Kithran's naked form, "I must truly punish you." The priestess reaches into her robes and produces the gray device she has used before. "I am so sorry,"she speaks before pressing the cold stone into Kithran's jaw.
The pain from before, of the burning needles being torn through her flesh, is somehow dramatically intensified. The skin on Kithran's face blisters, bursts open as Davena slowly traces the device down.
The briefest moment's respite is felt as the device is lifted away, only to be touched back to her collarbone. Traced slowly down, over the breast, onto the ribs, then the belly, laying skin and flesh wide open as it goes. Somewhere to the side, the acolyte retches at the sight of the rogue being split open like an overcooked sausage.
The wand is withdrawn, then driven into an open wound. It melts the very flesh as the priestess slowly rotates it, sinking it deeper and deeper into Kithran's abdomen while the paralyzed rogue screams and screams inside of her mind.
Her mind tries to escape, Ch’dau in a cage in Adedre’s manor, it searches every corner, Aranwen’s song ringing in her ears as she falls out of a window, every growing crack, it searches for a way out. It’s screaming at her, Ch’dau launching her into the air as they practice battle moves in the forest, crying, wailing, pleading for her to let it go, waking up from a nap in Ara’s lap, her golden eyes laughing at the embarrassed half-Syl. She wants to let it go, she almost has, Ch’dau and Ara fighting by her side, protecting her.
The pain goes away somewhat as Davena chants over the wounds, causing them to heal... only to come back as she begins the torture anew. One leg is slowly opened from her heel to her buttocks and up to her back, then the other. In between rounds of torture, Davena strokes Kithran's hair, coos softly about pain, and death, and how it cannot come for Kith yet no matter how much she might wish for it. How the only path for happiness is through obedience and acceptance. The rogue is somehow kept awake, conscious, feeling every awful touch, feeling pain that lay beyond even the wildest nightmares rooted in her recent experiences.
At some point, the paralysis goes away, and Kithran falls to the ground, the last shreds of her sanity reaching out to Davena through her sobs of pain, “Priestess,” she forces the air out with each ragged, unbearable breath, “kill me! Stab me! End this!” She looks shakily down at her mutilated body and screams, “Please!”
Yet the priestess does not grant the requests, instead blistering and melting away every inch of flesh on Kithran's body, even damaging inside of it, only to heal the wounds before starting anew in a different location.
And it goes on and on and on and on.
Posted on 2019-12-05 at 11:35:21.