Flowers of the Desert

by Danyka Eugenides (aka deFafnyr)

((**Note: This story connects to Sahib of Calla In particular to this story is the section titled “Darkness and Light”

Also Note: The character is repeatedly referred to as "The Rose," because though she is a real player character in game, I was keeping her name anonymous. The purpose of this alt and this character is so I’d have one to play to completely immerse in, with no OOC, no exceptions. Please don’t be offended, but any OOC will be ignored or she will look at you as though you have warts suddenly growing on your face the way I also handle lewt speak. Calily accepts ooc tells and such, it's the necessary beast that is needed when assisting in leading a guild and helping that leader. "The Rose" however, is my immersion alt. Please take no offense, but I just really need that one character to play that stays completely in character without all the chatter.))

Flowers of the Desert Edit

Scrolls lined the shelves of the modest room her Ummi did most her business in. The end of each scroll was inscribed with an alchemy symbol, labeling each with what information could be found upon them. Tinctures for wounds, infusions for fevers, salves for blistering ulcerations, they were all lined upon the shelves with an organized precision that spoke of great care administered by the healer who owned them. The Bint turned, examining the room with new eyes. It was her room now. This was her house. She was all that was left after her Umm’s long wasting sickness. The healer could not heal herself, and her bint had not the skills.

In that sickness, in those fevers, the Umm spoke of things the girl had not heard of before. She knew her Ummi’s healing aptitude was discovered when she was young serving in the Temple of Derketo. She knew she’d suddenly left the temple but had not known why, until the fevers took Umm and she spoke of things that laid hidden all those years.

Umm and her sister had been very young slaves, merely toddlers, twin girls that had been stolen from a small village on the southern border of Aquilonian. Before reaching Shem on their journey south with the caravan of slaves, there was an attack on the caravan. Perhaps it was meant to be a rescue of the captured slaves. Umm never knew. In the confusion of the battle the young girls split, Umm’s sister running one way and she the other. They were so young, only two or three years old, but Umm somehow remembered it well and accurately retold the story in her feverish delirium. The last time Umm had seen her sister she was being caught up and rescued by a priest of Mitra. Umm was not so lucky. She was recaptured. Her journey continued on to Stygia. She was sold to a Temple in Khemi and there she was freed, raised and trained in the ways of the Goddess as well as how to heal. Her Ummi’s skills were bordering magical in nature and it was short time before the local people traded their stares at the healer’s pale skin and light hair for gazes of respect.

There was one gaze that was an exception, the bint of the healer learned as Umm rattled on in her fevers. One gaze had looked upon her darkly, hungrily. There was more than lust in that man’s eyes. Umm was not naïve with her training from the Temple. But this was something odd, sinister. Umm told her bint of her kidnapping, and of the brutality of the man, he was the man that had sired the girl who now tended to her Ummi’s fevers. Umm told her of how the man had vowed to keep her, torture her for the rest of her life, hidden away in his cellar. Umm had then escaped, colored her hair in plant dyes, kept yellow tinctures dropped into her eyes to color her blue irises to a yellowish green, and the corneas stained a jaundiced yellow. Her flight took her into the desert away from Khemi and then as far as Luxor where she could go no farther as her pregnancy slowed her down. In Luxor she made a new home, using her skills as a healer to make her way. She never took on a mate, raising her bint alone, teaching her the skills of herbs and plants.

Traveling merchants always brought news, and Umm had discovered that a young priest of Set had been accused of kidnapping and killing the healer of the Derketo Temple, though her body had never been found. The priest had run north.

Umm’s fevers grew better for a short time, but then again she fell deep into her sickness, and in them telling the last of her story. Umm had heard from more traveling merchants many years later that the man had sought forgiveness by the gods, had entered into the service of the Temple of Mitra, becoming a priest. Umm did not believe such evil could be forgiven so easily and she continued to stain her hair dark with the dyes until she was old enough for the pale hair to look naturally grayed. Every morning till her death, she insisted on putting the yellow tincture into her eyes to hide their color.

There was little money for canopic jars, so Umm was mummified like most of the common folk, whole and without treasures. The last rite the bint performed before giving her Umm over to be mummified was to lay drops of the yellow tincture into her eyes, and kiss them closed.

The bint looked around the room again. She did not possess the magical healing skills of her mother. Umm for some reason had not felt compelled to stain her child’s hair and eyes and so the bint had grown up in a village with childhood peers that teased her mercilessly as children will do to those that look different. The bickering and name calling grew to wrestling and sparing as the children grew. The wrestling grew to blade waving, and by the time the girl had become a young woman, she could defend herself from most any, and so most everyone in the village now gave her room when she passed.

She exhaled a deep breath and went to a dark corner. Wedged between a scroll and the wall was a book. She reached for it. It was made of mostly regularly sized parchment, bound together with cured, pale lion leather. On the cover had been burned the outlined likeness of a rose. She sat with the book, reaching for Ummi’s eye tincture. Carefully she painted within the outline of the rose on the book’s cover with the tincture, and then examined her work, blowing on the leather as it absorbed the tincture. She smiled. The yellow of the rose matched the pale yellow of her hair. She opened the book. The leaves of parchment were all blank, and now on the first page of that blank parchment, she began to write…

In fluid Stygian scroll, the young woman pens into her book,

My name loosely means “Rose of the Desert” It has been pronounced several ways, but most of my peers skip it all together and sneer when they call me “shauk” or “thorn”. I did not grow up without friends, there were those that sympathized and were not disturbed by my differences. Again, there were others that merely tolerated my existence because their parents respected my Ummi who was the town’s healer.

My ummi, Eisa, she is gone now, her soul passed to Set. I wonder, after hearing her feverish story how much was true and how much were mere ravings in her illness. Still, I wonder, could my Ummi’s twin still be out there? Alive? Ummi said her twin’s name was Elsa and I have decided to put my little house in the safekeeping of my friend Jazmina, who has her own healing abilities to practice. She can make use of Ummi’s herbal stocks while she builds up her own practice caring for the town’s people. There is little to keep me here in Luxor. I will take with me enough supplies to continue my practice of potions and salves to make my way towards Khemi, much like my Ummi did in reverse when she left Khemi to hide in Luxor.

I wonder if my sire is still alive. I wonder if his Mitra ever absolved him. What would I do should I meet him face to face?

The Rose took with her a concentration of the plant dye her mother had used most of her life, a pot of the mixture severely dehydrated and thick. She would only need a bit of the tar-like concentrate in water to make a stain to darken her pale yellow hair when needed. She also took with her the eye tincture that would stain her corneas a jaundiced yellow and her irises from bluish to yellowy green. She would not need it between villages.

Her travel was slow and uneventful, days passing to weeks as she passed north on the small river that connected to the Styx, then months as she passed west on the Styx to Khemi. She collected rare plants and bottled good potions that made even better money in Khemi than what she could earn in poor villages and had little trouble raising funds to travel to Aquilonia. Trouble rarely found her and when it did, it stopped fairly quickly when those trouble-makers took a better look at the two long swords slung on the young woman’s hips. She was not vicious looking, quite the contrary, but simple folk had no reason to really bother a passing woman who only seeks travel and who takes the time to help village folk in her passing.

Once out of Stygian lands she quit staining her hair and eyes, the dyes fading from her hair quickly but more slowly from her eyes. She theorized as she wrote in her little book that this was likely because the plant dyes only stained the outer shafts of her hair and slid more easily from her hair than the concentrated tincture that was absorbed by her more fluid eyeball. It would not wash out of her eyes but would need to absorb over time.

She traveled without much ambition through Aquilonia, slowly, helping people with her herbs and potions as she passed, nothing really driving her onward but the curiosity of possible family ahead.

This slow travel, taking life easy as it comes, afforded more trust in those she spoke to. Local folk were more willing to talk to people who stayed a while to set their broken bones and purge their boils than those that came riding on fast heels and demanding answers to odd questions. The young woman didn’t really ask odd questions, it was just that the questions she asked often had odd answers, uncomfortable answers. All these answers held strange pieces that led her to a Temple of Mitra between Tarantia and a large vineyard held by a family calling themselves DeFafnyr.

She was not a follower of Mitra, and knew very little about them, so it was with some nervousness that she approached the Temple early one sunny morning that was already turning warm. She wore her hair down and loose, not her usual high ponytail or braid. With the sun shining through her hair, the pale yellow cast more white than the pale gold that it really was. The stain in her eyes had nearly absorbed and had returned to their natural blue shade. Quietly, she stepped into the Temple’s garden, looking for one of the many Sisters she was told she would find here.

An old Sister, bent over a bed of lilies turned and jumped at suddenly seeing the girl. At first she was merely startled. But when she saw who she thought she saw, she began screaming, blood curdling screaming. Sisters came running, voices calling to each other as a dozen women came running to the garden, halting in a circle around her and the screaming woman.

The Rose stood with her hands up in a gesture of peace, showing her hands up and away from her blades, thinking that was what was frightening the poor screaming woman. She stammered to them, “I…I mean no harm…I did not mean to startle…”

The sisters looked to the Rose, mouths gaped, some dropping objects that had been held in their hands. The garden went silent and still as the screaming faded away and they all stood staring.

The Rose shifted her eyes, turning her head slowly to look at them. She wondered if these Mitrans expected her to grow a second head or a tail the way they all stared at her. She stammered again, but could find nothing to say.

Finally one stepped forward, one who carried an air of authority. “What is your name, child,” she asked.

The Rose gave her true name then continued, “I am the daughter of Eisa who was the twin sister of Elsa, and I come seeking my family.”

One of the women squeaked. The old woman who had started the screaming now numbly sat hard on the stone garden bench behind her.

“Elsa…That is a name we have not heard for many, many years. Come child,” the Sister of authority spoke, gently taking The Rose’s arm. “We will speak in my office.”

It was there that The Rose had heard the tale of the little white haired girl, Elsa that had come to them long ago. This girl had grown to be a young girl, barely a teen when the priest of Mitra had come to join their order, a Stygian man that had repented his following of Set and sought forgiveness for his past. He had been known to be nothing but the kindest of priests, quiet but troubled. There was hushed talk over the next year or so of his interest in the young girl Elsa, but no one dared think anything would become of it, until the night he was found raping young Elsa upon the temple’s altar.

The Rose closed her eyes tight, rolling them back in her head as she bit back anger. This had to be the same priest, the one that had been obsessed with her own mother, had raped her and sired her from it. This had to be the same priest that ran north from the persecution of the Temple of Derketo after the disappearance of Eisa, her mother. And here he had come, either accidentally or driven by demons, he had found Eisa’s sister, Elsa, become obsessed with Elsa as he had her twin, Eisa. He’d surrendered to that obsession and raped Elsa as he had Eisa, then escaped to the bell tower where he jumped to his death and landed on the very spot The Rose had just been standing on in the garden.

The Rose asked the Sister, what had become of Elsa, was she still here, alive? The Sister shook her head sadly. “It would appear there is a curse upon your family. Your mother’s twin, Elsa lived only long enough to give birth to a child, a girl, who looks remarkably like you, and the both of you look to be mirrors of your twinned mothers.” The Sister tilted her head and squinted her eyes, “Though in this different light, your skin appears darker, tanner, and your hair is gold where Elsa and Ophelia’s hair was white. That is, or was, your cousin’s name, Ophelia.”

“What happened to Ophelia?” The Rose asked.

“She was adopted to a family; there is a vineyard not far from here, the Defafnyr plantation,” the Sister answered. “She grew up, a happy child, engaged to marry a nobleman’s son. The nobleman was murdered and her wedding was postponed. There were suspicions that the son, her betrothed was involved. Then Ophelia’s adopted father was slain, murdered, believed also to be at the hands of her fiancé. The night after her father’s funeral, Ophelia disappeared. It is rumored, and mostly believed that she drowned herself in the river that irrigates the family’s vineyard. There was a scrap of clothing found…”

“I can’t believe I came all this way…and they’re all gone…” The Rose whispered to herself.

“Gone perhaps…and perhaps….not.” The Sister nodded her head once. “We hear whispers here in this Temple. We hear confessions that cannot be repeated. Things are not always as they appear…and a scrap of clothing does not a drowning make...”

“You know something, please, you must tell me,” the Rose pleaded with the Sister.

She shook her head slowly, “I cannot repeat confessions given, but I can tell you where to start your search.”

The Sister and the Rose spoke some moments more. The Rose carefully made mental note of every word the Sister spoke and then carefully recorded it down into her little book later. She made her plans. In two days time, she would be taking a boat bound for Tortage.

The Rose sets her glass of wine down on the table at the Serpent's Head and pulls her little journal from her pack. She also pulls out a very small bottle of ink made by herself and a very small quill made from a feather of a colorful bird she had killed while hunting on White Sands. She rubs the feather under her nose, feeling the softness of the strands and remembers how good it had tasted over an open fire...until that pict disturbed her meal. She checks the nib and dips the quill into the ink bottle and begins to write...

A tyrant is dead, a sorceress fled, and the people rebuild their town that is burned but not broken. The spirit of Tortage is high and people talk freely as though their mouths had been bound from telling secrets for too long and the stories flow as does the ale. I discovered that my cousin did come through this way, though they do not call her Ophelia but Calily. As with the sisters of the Mitra Temple, quite often the people of Tortage mistook me for her and so I am sure that the Calily they speak of is indeed my cousin Ophelia.

And now I find myself in an odd circle. The trail of my cousin has led me back to Stygia, to Khemi, where I finally met my cousin, the Lily of the desert, face to face. I had stained my eyes upon arriving back in Stygia but did not bother with my hair as I had seen so many locals here in Khemi on my last visit here with the white pale hair that there didn’t seem any need to color my own locks. In fact, I am likely going to discontinue staining my eyes now as well. Calily’s eyes are the bluest of blue and she walks about with no trouble. I think perhaps my ummi’s fears are no reason to be my own, and this is a city, not the small village outside of Luxor where people would give me trouble for looking odd by their standards.

I was inside a shop when I saw her through the window that looked out onto the souk. She is…extremely pale, like a ghost of me. She is truly a white lily to my golden rose. Not only is her hair white but her skin…I am amazed she is not blistered with burns living in this country. She is also quite pregnant. Compared to some of my ummi’s patients I would say she is about 7 months along by her size and by the way she waddles when she walks like a duck. It is a good reminder for me to take my daily wild yam and I should purchase some pomegranates to be sure, especially after this last sea voyage. With the blockade lifted from Tortage, the journey back to Khemi was full of more than a few boisterous and randy sailors willing to keep me warm on cool nights. I am far from ready to slow myself down with the burden of a child. Wild yam and pomegranates. My ummi swore by them to her patients.

Our talk, my cousin and I, I cannot say was pleasant. She appears to be one of those women that refuse to believe things she chooses not to hear. She seemed as though she didn’t even believe that we are related despite how alike we look. I find her to be quite naïve, and remarkably innocent considering what I have heard of her life. I hear rumors that the people she is associated with are a dark group, whispers of slaughter and sacrifices surround them, yet the talk of servants whisper that Calily is quite oblivious to the deeds of the people around her.

I have decided to give her time to absorb this, that she has a cousin, and hope that perhaps she will accept our common blood in time. In the meantime…a merchant has asked that I bring my blades to assist him on his journey home to Cimmeria where he hopes to sell his wares collected in Stygia at a festival called the Battle of the Bards. This merchant, like most Cimerrians, appears to be quite capable of protecting himself with his own blades, but I take his excuse to join him and will join him for the journey there at least. I would like to test this rumor of Cimmerian…stamina.

The Rose sets aside her quill as a sudden lurch brings up her stomach. She quickly grabs her wine glass and swallows down the bile before it can come up. She pauses a moment, absorbing the thought that had just struck her and takes up the quill again to write...

It suddenly occurs to me that Calily and I are not only cousins through our mothers...but that we are...sisters through that foul priest that sired us.

Good times, good times. I am heartily enjoying my travels out into the world. Such differences from my small village outside of Luxur. The different smells, spices, customs. The world from border to border blends and changes in such wondrous differences. One thing remains the same. The men are stiff regardless of color or custom and I rather like that…a lot. My merchant friend did indeed prove that Cimmerians are a race of great stamina, and in this case, great girth of instrument.

She pauses in her writing to reflect on this, teasing the soft feather of her quill over a nipple as she thinks.

The Battle of the Bards was also wondrous. The stories were entrancing. Commander Bugbig is a great host and the Bards that competed were far better than any I’d ever heard. I laughed at some of the stories till my belly hurt. And the men…such wonderfully strong thighed men. One in particular, a man with a shaven head and the fortitude to bear the cold of Cimmeria bare-chested and wearing only a kilt caught my eye. I never did get his name though.

I said goodbye to my merchant friend and turned my trek back towards my homeland, this time making different inquiries as I passed. This time, I did not seek my mother’s twin or my cousin/sister. This time, I asked about a certain priest, and I am gathering some disturbing information. This information comes not readily from people’s lips, but is information that costs me much in coin and sometimes payment made by other means. It appears my sire, Ramsetep, was hiding more than predatory desires. It also appears…that his grave is empty.

I found his crypt despite the warnings of the Sisters against seeking it. It was defiled and broken, guarded with foul undead creatures. It confirmed to me two things. One, that I should stop doing this search alone…I am far too untrained and it would be unwise to continue this without hiring a mercenary or two to aid me. And two, the rumor that my father was using his public role as a priest to hide his private research into the boundaries of mortality may have some truth to them. Two places I have discovered, holes he used for research and some kind of worship of a manner I have never seen before, each place left abandoned and guarded with undead.

She pauses again, reaching for a wine decanter and refills her glass. She quenches her thirst and then regains her quill.

Upon my return to Khemi, I took time to relax in the Serpent’s Head. It was quite crowded and I had to go upstairs to find a vacant table. I decided to also book a room. A man came to sit near me and we struck up a conversation, and in good time I hired him to act as my body guard to follow another lead I had on my father. I had decided to start my investigation on him back at the beginning of the trail rather than seeking hodge podge as I had been doing which meant starting back here in Khemi. Ramsetep was born here in Khemi, served in the House of Derketo where he met my mother, Eisa. But there are hints that he spent a great deal of time traveling to Bubshur.

In Bubshur, the talk spoke of his friendship with the owners of a rather large house set into the hills there and there was talk regarding the more recent occupants, unsurprisingly, undead.

So this man I met in Serpent’s Head, Valifor, he agreed to hire on as my bodyguard into the house and was unafraid of talk of the house being haunted or having undead present within so after we agreed upon the price of his services, off we went. The place reeked foully and the floors were sticky with blood. The main floors gave no hint to anything useful but we did find a crumpled wall, and behind it a library.

This library was full of books…books are not such a common thing in Stygia. The most common form of written work is upon scrolls. Valifor continued to hack away at undead and I must admit to having admired his skill…and the fine muscles of his back…while I stuffed my pack with some of the more interesting books. I did not find precisely what I was looking for, but these books I think will be a good donation to my sister/cousin’s library and I hope she will accept them. I really should decide what I will call her, cousin or sister. I should like her to decide to at least accept the truth in our kinship.

Further into the house we discovered a great altar, and a well of waters, a stream of souls. This appeared to be a major place of worship and ritual where my father and his secret circle did some of their work, for I do believe now that he was not working alone but was part of a secret society. He did not escape persecution alone. I believe even more now that he may have escaped death. Something…speaks to me to follow, to find out the truth.

I will search this house again more thoroughly in another day or so and Valifor has agreed to help again. I…look forward to working with him again. He is well worth…his chosen form of payment.

I found a symbol on one of the books that was odd and taking it to a trader brought a great deal of excitement. I nearly had to gut him to stop him from drawing attention to us and to the book. The book itself is a tome of theory into imbuing weapons with magically enhanced gems, but what excited the trader so was that symbol. He said it was the mark of a sorcerer, a particular sorcerer said to still be alive. If only I could get past all these undead and find someone living to question…

Again the Rose sits to write in her journal...

My plan was to have a light lunch at Serpent’s Head before setting off to deliver the snake’s blood I’d promised to a crazy hermit in Khopsef but what started out as lunch turned into a near argument with my sister’s mate, the hierophant of the sect calling themselves the Eternal Coil. He did not want to believe my relationship to his consort based merely on our obvious resemblance to each other. In fact, he appeared quite concerned that I intended to insert myself into her life in order to pry her away from his control. If she is happy with that man, I shall not interfere in it. It is not for me to decide what is best for another but only for myself. If it is her choice, so be it, and I do hope I convinced Terathul of that. As for my proof, I recanted the history of our family to him, the truth of our family, not the happy story Calily was raised to believe. I think I have convinced him now but he still wishes me to undergo some manner of test by someone he calls Gideonn and I have consented as I have no doubt that I shall pass this test.

After delivering the contraband serpent’s blood to the hermit, I met back up with Valifor. Our second excursion into the house of undead in Bubshur proved more fruitful. I return with one pack full of scrolls and books for the library of my sister’s people, and two books I shall keep. One bears the mark of Mitra upon it, or rather their symbol for ‘life’. The other book is a large tome with a tooled and painted scull upon its cover. The contents in them both are written in an ancient language that I am having trouble deciphering but it is penned in blood upon parchment that is of contemporary construction. Both are bound in strange leather that I have my suspicions about. Both books are littered with magical symbols throughout their pages.

During our search through the library, Valifor was prying a large ruby from the eye of a monstrously large skull and was pricked by something, a pin prick trap with poison. I have antidotes for serpent venom and one seemed to work for him. I do hope it did and I do not find him dead tomorrow. I can hardly hire a dead man to act as my body guard.

I will continue to try to understand the language in the tomes, decipher as much as I can but I think I will need more information to use as reference, and I’ve exhausted what I could find within the Bubshur house. This gives me even more reason to seek out this sorcerer the trader spoke of yesterday. Tomorrow I seek out the next town deeper into the Khopsef to see if they can point me to this dreaded unnamed sorcerer. It is my hope that by this weekend I will have found his location and am set to have an audience with him.

Rosahra writes into her journal:

The weekend has come and gone and I am no closer to speaking with the sorcerer, Remuses, that had ties with my father, Ramsetep. I do know, however, where to find this sorcerer at least. He makes his home in a place called “Black Castle” and I have trekked to the area to take a look at the imposing fortress myself. I also have been warned, repeatedly, that there will be no dancing into the fortress selling cookies to get close enough to talk to this man. I have been advised repeatedly and quite strongly that I will need help getting past the sorcerer’s minions and creatures. So now I must battle creatures to follow my father’s trail. First I find undead on my father’s trail and now unnatural creatures. Is there something about sorcerers and those that seek magical powers that abhor following the normal course of what is “nature” and natural in this world? What is it about them that compels them to twist things so? I had grown up frustrated that I did not inherit the near magical abilities my mother had when she healed. In seeing what my father’s people do with that magic, I am now happy that I have none of it.

I happened upon Terathul recently. He has had his results of his test he had his scholar, Gideonn, perform and they have affirmed my claim to kinship to Calily. He did not seem so suspicious of me and my intentions towards his mate and so I sought her out to speak with her again. She had been told by Terathul that a test had been run and validated my claim, and she seems more accepting of the truth of our kinship and the circumstances that created it, though it saddens her that her adoptive parents were not her birth parents. I have tried to reassure her that her adoptive parents were no less loving parents to her for lack of blood ties, but were more important as they lovingly chose to raise her and take her as their own. She says that her Sahib has said much the same thing. I think it saddens her a bit that she never got to know her real mother, Elsa, and I can understand that.

Before anyone knew of my ties to Calily, that I am the sister of Terathul’s consort, I had sought out information about her people. I did not like the things I was hearing. I have been torn greatly over this. Do I join them to help my sister? Do I join a mercenary group where I could exchange my aid to them for their help in following the trail of my father? My head aches over this decision, especially now, for I fear that my sister’s condition is more serious than I had thought.

In talking to her, I have discovered she is not as far along as I had assumed by her size. By the counting of the moons, she is not due until another moon’s time. I know these things. My mother was a healer and delivered almost every baby in our small village. Calily’s belly is too large for carrying one normal child, and she does not know that the cramps that I see stealing her breath from her are the beginning of her labors. My sister is herself, nearly a child because she has the mind and innocence of one, and she has put all her trust in her Sahib to provide that she will be safe and live through this delivery, and there is at this time still no one to help her deliver what she carries within her.

Flowers That SporeEdit

For three days and three nights Calily’s back tortured her and kept her from sleeping. Contractions tightened her belly at irregular intervals with fruitless efforts, like an overstuffed balloon that had no give left to bear down. Terathul made good on his word to find a midwife, from a distant village, secured anonymously by a highly paid agent. The elderly widwife, Meskenit, was rushed with no little haste to New Calla, leaving her young midwife in training behind to tend to their village.

Meskenit checked Calily immediately upon her arrival to the Keep and was sure at first that the young girl was mistaken about her due time for the girl’s belly was hugely distended and her cervix was thinning and ripe and the mucus plug gone. It was not uncommon for young girls to be mistaken of when their pregnancies began. Then Meskenit began feeling around the outside of the girl's belly to check to see if the babe’s head was correctly down. Calily moaned in pain as Meskenit prodded and pushed.

Meskenit tsked as she stood with her hand bracing her lower back. “No wonder you labor early, child, there is more than one babe within you. They’ve run out of room.” Calily could barely hear the midwife while in the middle of another painful contraction and she turned to finally meet the father of these children that were coming. “You are her husband?” she asked.

“In a fashion, one would say,” Terathul answered. “Will it be soon?”

“No, her womb is ready but still works hard at opening the door. More importantly, let us hope that the babes within are ready. It is too soon for their birth and if their lungs are not ready they will not survive. You understand this, yes? If the children do not survive it is not my doing but that she delivers them too soon.”

“Babies?” Terathul questioned, hesitating on the plural.

“Yes, m’lord, there is another. This is why she is so large. I will require many towels, extra bedding, but first I require hot water,” said Meskenit.

“Hot water? If she is not ready...” Terathul began to reply.

“It is for my tea. I traveled long and quickly to get here,” she grinned at the man.

He did not see the humor and turned on his heel, leaving Calily and Meskenit alone. Meskenit turned a wizened eye on her patient. It was too common for a man of the lord’s years to take such a young girl, and this one was barely 17. She could have been even younger by her innocent mind. She seemed too naïve and had no clue what was going on with her body. Surely she would have the help of a mother near? Upon asking, Meskenit discovered that the girl had no female help, no mother, and only a sister she was not close to. She wondered why the Hierophant Lord had not sent for the girl’s sister, even though they were not close. Would it not comfort the girl to have female family with her during this trial of womanhood?

She shook her head, not understanding the way of nobles in this country and how they worked their minds. She was a simple midwife from a very small and obscure village and gave it no more mind.

Calily dozed when she could as did the midwife over the course of two more days and finally Meskenit announced to both her laboring patient and to the Hierophant Terathul that the babes would be born within an hour or two.

“Where is the bedding, the towels I will need,” she asked Terathul.

“She will not have the child here in the keep,” he responded without the touch of nervousness that most men have when their woman’s time is near. He looked to the midwife coolly. “We will move her to the temple.”

The temple! Are you daft? We can’t move her now…in this condition…and to a temple? She should have the child in her b…” she stopped short not finishing her argument as Terathul set a grim look upon her unsheathing a blade with the ting of metal.

“We will move her to the temple.” He repeated and spun flourishing his cloak as he stalked to the hall to call out for servants and a small litter to help move his laboring consort and her midwife.

Down the stairs of the keep, across the short path to the temple they moved but upon reaching the interior of New Calla’s temple, they did not stop. Terathul led them through the secret entrance down into the original temple ruins beneath the city, down into the depths of Old Calla.. Down they continued on the smooth stone steps lit with torches burning green with unnatural flame. Down they continued upon the wide spiraling stairs, past the throne room and further down even still until they reached a room that held a large altar at the opposite end. Against the far wall a huge monstrous statue of a horrible humanoid design loomed and curved over the altar. It appeared part man and part demon, a great head bearing a pair of spiraled horns, its face turned down and out to gaze jealously at anyone approaching the altar it hovered over and protected, its stone arms and taloned hands poised to snatch trespasser were it to come to life. Gems the size of a man’s head laid in the idol’s eyes winking in the green torch light as they approached.

Calily was let down off the litter they carried her in, pausing to pant and tremble through a contraction that gripped her and buckled her knees. Pulling her to her feet, the midwife and Terathul half guided, half pulled the young girl down the long aisle dividing the middle of the temple into two halves, leading to the altar. The servants that had carried the litter scurried to drop the supplies they carried to the altar then ran back to wait nervously at the litter down the aisle.

Reaching the first step to the altar’s raised platform, Calily stepped up one, then two steps, then stopped as another contraction pushed hard, her cry echoing deep within the cavernous temple. As the contraction met its peak, a gush of water burst forth, soaking Calily’s thighs and splashing upon the altars stone. Voices of the servants at the litter exploded in fear as the eyes of the idol alit bright as the consort’s water bathed the altar base. Knocking the litter over, they ran only to be met by enslaved guards at the base of the stairs that cut the frightened litter bearers voices quiet with the slitting of their throats.

Quietly their bodies were dragged away by dark four-legged creatures, growling and slavering to claim the kills for their meals. The guards returned to their posts.

Meskenit’s eyes were old and could not see down the length of the aisle to the commotion, but her instincts raised the hairs on her neck and silently she started praying to Derketo that all would be well as her fears began to rise.

Terathul helped Calily up onto the altar, giving her a look of sweet love and reassurance, kissing her softly. She looked hopeful and trusting with large blue eyes and laid upon the altar as her love told her she must. She did not see the change in his face when he turned, an instant switch to grim coldness, eyes dilated and burning black at Meskenit, “Bring the spawn forth now, and see that they live. Your life depends upon it, old woman,” he seethed at her.

Meskenit checked the girl again with two fingers up inside the channel of the womb, “Yes…the first child’s head is coming,” she declared, pulling out her hand and trying to hide the shock of finding not only Calily’s red blood, but something thick and green, gel-like. Meskenit began to tremble as Calily began to moan.

“Push, child, push with all your life, bring your child to air for its first breath!” Meskenit demanded, praying inside that the babe would actually take a breath at all.

Calily bore down, pushing, straining, but tired after too many days of little sleep and long slow labor, she fell back exhausted.

Terathul took Calily’s hand and squeezed it painfully, “You must push, Calily. You will push. It is the will of Callatep that these children see life!” He hissed his command at her.

Calily obeyed her Master and pushed with renewed effort, her pale face near purple with the effort; and with the tearing of her folds, a baby’s head appeared, its face scrunched up and covered in a milky substance with a green tinge. Meskenit, fearing for her life, did not wait for the next contraction. She reached fingers in and rolled the small baby’s shoulders and coaxed it out before the next contraction came to finish the birth. By that time Meskenit was already wiping the child’s face of the strange substance with the towel Terathul had slapped into her hand. She swept the babies mouth and pinched the child’s heel hard, afraid it would not breathe on its own otherwise if it were not forced to scream, and scream it did. As the babe’s first cry screeched across the cavern, the unseen beasts eating at the bodies of the servants paused in their feast to raise their muzzles to howl with the child. The guards at the entrance near the steps moved forward in curiosity and froze at the sound of grinding stone as the idol over the altar moved its great mouth slowly into a demonic grin.

Calily looked between her legs, “The baby, is it okay? It cries,” and before her she looked upon a beautiful baby boy, exactly what she wanted to see.

What Meskenit looked upon was grossly different. A small but healthy formed newborn looked up at her, with eyes glowing with his father’s blackness, a coal of red pricked in the center, and within the child’s screaming mouth were sharp pointed teeth. Meskenit cut and bound the cord.

Calily lay back upon the altar exhausted. Meskenit wrapped the baby and passed it to the father who looked proudly upon his son, dropping its wrappings to hold it high in the air naked over the altar as he shouted, “Callatep, see the first of our fruit, your promised blessing. The first of your new disciples is born!” The baby screamed again, not a cry but an unholy scream that was matched by a roar emitting from the idol as flame passed the idols lips, it’s gemmed eyes glowing hot.

Calily curled again with another contraction and Terathul re-wrapped the baby who looked upon his father with red rimmed eyes as he was placed it into an infant basket that had been used to carry forth the towels and supplies.

The second child was born much like the first, a daughter, born hissing with a red pointed and split tongue. When given to her father, she flicked her tongue at him saucily and they shared a knowing smile as thoughts passed between father and unnatural child. Already she practiced at manipulating her father around her tiny finger, the infant’s mind dismissing her mother as an unimportant servant of her royal birth.

Meskenit’s silent prayers had become chanting as she felt around the outside of Calily’s belly. Surely this young girl could not survive more, and yet it was unmistakable. Meskenit felt a third child still within the laboring Calily. At Terathul’s demands, Calily continued, unwilling or unable to deny her Master. She continued to draw strength and labored on until she succeeded in birthing a final, third child, another daughter, alive but with its cord wound tightly around its throat.

This child did not howl, did not hiss. It looked up silently upon its surroundings, breathing without terror. Its only strangeness appeared to be the bite marks it had upon it, as though its siblings had caught it unaware, and Meskenit looked down upon the serene child with pity, wondering if it was the brother that bit it so, and the sister that had tightened the cord around its neck. The little infant girl looked quietly upon the midwife, emitting a feeling of sadness for what it knew would become of the midwife.

The placentas were delivered and Terathul saved them to be feasted upon in ritual later. The midwife’s usefulness was over. Terathul pulled the midwife aside as he left Calily cooing softly at what she believed to be her three angels. With a quick stroke of his blade, the midwife hit the ground. He whistled once and the creatures loped from the shadows to drag the bloodied old woman away.

The next morning, Calily laid weak but content back into her own bed in the Keep, the entire episode nearly a hazy dream to her, and tucked in safely beside her slept her three angels. Terathul sat on the edge of the bed, his ever present smirk upon his face. He looked to his demon spawn. An understanding already grew between himself and two of them…but the third? He narrowed his eyes suspiciously at the third. He would have to watch this one closely.


Rosahra returns to her journal,

I received word that Calily had her children. Yes, children. She had triplets. I was ecstatic that she sent for me to come visit her and see her new brood for it is a sign that she is more willing to accept our kinship now that her lord has given his approval. Later the same day, I spent some time with her lord, Terathul, in the Serpent’s Head. He insists that the oddity of the infants is something of a family trait. Perhaps it is…his ancestry has a long history with their patron demon-god. But one babe is born with sharp pointy teeth and the other is born with a split forked tongue? Only one of the three babies seems perfectly normal. Furthermore, there is a countenance of their being too wise inside their little helpless bodies, as though their tiny little fists are being wielded by fully grown souls biding their time. What I find odder still is that Calily does not seem to see anything out of place with her children or with the people surrounding her.

Myself, I do not follow the gods. A famous saying, “One who ignores the gods is blind, but one who trusts the gods is a fool.” I am not a fool, and I do not trust the gods or their zealous followers. Nor am I blind enough to dismiss the power behind such people.

These followers of Callatep are building a power base and somehow my sister is near the core of it. Oddly enough, I do not sense that she is in any danger by it. Somehow she is like the secret joke, the one that doesn’t understand that she is the punch line, and yet she is revered as important and thus protected by them. Were Calily being misused, I would seek to free her from them; however, what I sense instead is that she is a pretty bird in a gilded cage, and that she needs that cage for without it she would not survive in the wildness of the world. One minute she is a young sweet girl blinking wide innocent eyes, large and blue like saucers at me, and then next she is giggling like a madwoman as she tells me of how many times she pin-cushioned a bandit with her daggers that happened upon them in Khospsef.

Is my sister mad? All things considering…perhaps she is. At the very least there is a cog missing from the wheel of her mind. Is Terathul coldly using something within my sister for more than repopulating his family’s bloodline? I suspect so. Is she being used for some purpose by their demon god, Callatep? Without a doubt.

Terathul is an oddity as well. He can be an ambitiously cold and cruel man; that much seethes about him like the smoke of the pipe he so often puffs away at. But like wisps of smoke, I believe that Calily’s essence has seeped under that man’s door and into his unsuspecting heart. Is Terathul evil? That is as likely as there is sand in the desert. But whether he knows it or not, he has fallen in love with the girl he captured and forced to his side. Terathul has unintentionally become enslaved to Calily’s heart as much as she has to his. For whatever purpose has brought them together, there is love between them whether Terathul acknowledges it or not.

I am not a crusader to judge where the line of good and evil lays. Even the Vanir believe they are the good folk against the Cimmerian, the Nemedians believe they are the good folk against the Aquilonians. I do not care where these “Coil of Callatep” draw their lines or who their allies or enemies may be. My sister is among them and I am seriously considering joining them regardless of their reputation, because right or wrong, she is my sister and I’ll not have anyone strike against the gilded cage that she has made her home in. Would I worship Callatep while living among their city? I will not trust any god. Would I raise my swords to protect New Calla and Calily? She is my sister so, yes, most definitely, I would.

Calily pens into her journal with a fanciful script full of curlicues and flourishes…

The children grow quickly already. The wet-nurse, Panya, complains bitterly about my son, Hemlock, and his teeth but Gideonn has promised me he would succeed in convincing her to do her work with less complaining when she feeds my son. How Gideonn manages to sway people is a wonder and I’ve no doubt it’s his sharp mind that makes him so winning at persuasion. He is a marvelous scholar and I’m so very glad he’s heading our university department.

Ivy got a hold of the one of the nanny’s eyebrows with her little fist and refused to let go. It was very sweet seeing my young daughter already asserting herself and the Nanny, Ati is her name, seemed quite good natured about the scar she has now over her eye where the eyebrow hairs came out with bits of skin. Looks rather like a bleeding rash and at first I thought she was going to start complaining like Panya, but then I looked over my shoulder to greet Gideonn and Terathul as they entered the room and when I turned back to her I found I was mistaken and she really seemed more like all was forgiven between her and my tiny vixen daughter.

I really could not do this, raising three babies without the help of the wet-nurse and the nanny. It truly does take three women to care for them. Ivy seems much more interested in everything going on around her than ever looking at me when I spend time with her. She is so curious of her world that she dismisses me, I think, as soon as I’ve attended to whatever need she’s had. I expect she will be very cerebral and good at handling people the way Gideonn is. Perhaps she will follow him in the University when she grows up!

Hemlock seems more intent on chewing and grabbing things and squishing whatever his tiny fists can get within finger’s reach. Typical little man, he is, wanting to squash and destroy. I can imagine all kinds of broken furniture and overturned oil lamps when he gets older, batting his toys around and knocking things over with his wooden practice sword as he grows from baby to young boy.

Iris is the youngest of the triplets, born five minutes after Ivy, and she is quite a puzzle. She is calm, quiet, as though weighing things very heavily in her tiny mind, much like my sister, Rosahra. Sometimes when I feed her and look down on her, I see her peering up at me with such a look of sadness in her eyes, as though she knows something I can’t comprehend though I know this must be my imagination. My babies are just babies, like anyone else’s babies, and yet I am blessed with three that are so different and unique from each other.

Rosahra, Rose we call her, came to visit me and we’ve grown closer. I am happy for this, to have another female family member near. Rose has agreed to join us, and though she does not sing praises of Callatep as she should, she is respectful in her silence when we do. I am still recovering from the shock of what she told me on the first day that we met, about my true parentage but she continues to assure me as does Sahib, that the mother and father that adopted me were the mother and father of my heart as they chose to love and raise me. Rose had told me then that though my birth mother was dead and my sire had jumped to his death from a bell tower that she suspected that did not completely end his life. I am not sure what she meant by that but I know that she continues to investigate it though Terathul seems angry with her that she had even made mention of it to me in the first place. Rose will not speak of it further now and I suspect this is Terathul’s doing, but if that is my Love’s wish that they keep her investigation between them without involving me, than I must believe it is for the best as Tera would only want what is best for me.

With Rose’s investigation of...well...whatever is it…I think she obtains a great deal of information in other subjects much like the way I think my adopted father traded in more than wine with the passing of our kegs down roads to taverns and private houses webbed out across Hyboria. Like Khaiti once said…something about roads of information being more valuable than what commerce trading may pass over those roads. She is much like a spider, my sister Rosahra, in the network of information she is attempting to weave and I think it is a likely thing that she will place the center of her web in the House of Vanguard under the Eternal Coil’s banner.

Rosahra pens in sharp stygian scrawl,

I do not like distractions. I am used to being disciplined, my plans and designs, my purpose on a track with pieces falling into place as I expect them to. And yet every time I see that one man my thoughts drain out my ear like wax and my tongue goes numb. Numb perhaps because when my brain goes to jelly I want nothing more than to run that tongue down that man’s chest after ripping off his shirt. I do not even know his name, who he is, and further more, I doubt very much a man like that is without some woman somewhere that would happily behead me for biting her man’s nipple, but gods, do I want to bite his nipple.

Most men, it is a thigh. I like men’s thighs. It is the first thing I look at in a man. Strong thighs means he will not tire out doing what I want him to do most. But this man…he always wears pants, tight against his thighs, teasing me because I cannot see his flesh. What flesh I can see is his chest, also teasingly covered in a shirt open to his waist and hiding his nipples that need me biting them.

I see this man everywhere I go. Who…is…he? It is driving me insane!

She stabs the quill to her journal as she punctuates and underlines her last line, going fully through three sheets of the bound papyrus.

Rosahra writes in sharp Stygian scrawl:

If Menukamutf is correct, then this man that disturbs me has a name that he knows and he is with people called the Invisible Fist. Unfortunately, if this IS the man that Menukamutf knows, then the object of my obsession does not have three fat wives and a dozen dirty children.

She shakes her golden head in annoyance with herself.

I was truly hoping the this man that distracts me DID have three fat wives and a dozen dirty children because then I could just make a face and walk away and that would be the end of my… my inability to get his vision from my mind. Menukamutf, he calls himself “Min,” wanted to take me to meet him, to introduce us. I do not wish to seek this man out. To the contrary, I want to stop thinking of him, dreaming of him. If only I could stop wanting to rip the man’s clothing off and coat him in scented oil and…and…watch him turn around slowly, his finely muscled ass, his thick strong, corded thighs, that long burgundy hair to twist my hands into. His….him…in my mouth…

If I do ever meet this man, perhaps I will get lucky and he will say something so utterly stupid that it will wash away any of this hunger that plagues me so I can go back to happily satiating myself with more common fare. I also hear that this man has several pretty women, one of which is a cat with very sharp claws. Truly I do not wish to annoy another woman who believes she has claim on the man…at least that is my brains wish. My body on the other hand could care less if he were married to the pharaoh’s daughter, my mouth would still want to taste him.

Perhaps I should seek the sisters at Derketo’s Embrace. I think there is some sickness going on here that I do not understand.

Rosahra returns the next day to her journal,

Well I met him. His name is Jafnahar. He is as utterly beautiful up close as he is at a distance. He seemed, however, completely consumed in his attention for a woman I believe is named Neina who sat at our table drinking entirely too much as though she is trying to drown something deep within her. I pity her for her lack of strength, and it would seem that the beautiful Jaf is the kind of man that is attracted to women with weaknesses. The other woman that Min referred to last night as the “Jaf’s cat with sharp claws” is a woman named Pastil and her weakness appears to be that she is psychotic.

Min persisted in trying to goad me into moving onto Jafnahar to no avail. Jaf’s attentions were elsewhere with the drunken Niena and I see no need to chase a man when so many others are available. Besides, beautiful as the man is, I doubt I have the kind of weakness that he seems to like in a woman to stiffen his snake…and a weak snake is a waste of my time. Still…I think I would heartily enjoy wasting my time with his snake…

Min and I are becoming fast friends I think, despite his reputation as a man-wh0re, a reputation I believe to be true, but as I will never bed the man, and considering how sweet he was in the attempts to play match-maker for me, I cannot help but like him like the brother my mother never gave me. In fact, my sibling feelings towards Min often give me the compulsion to pinch him or to tie his sandals together under the table when he is not looking.

The Black Castle awaits me still, but in the meantime, I have some investigation to do at the Pyramid that I hope will be fruitful.

Rosahra chews on her quill as she pens...

So much has traveled through my mind in the last several days that I could fill this journal and not be finished, so in an attempt to at least keep my thoughts organized, I will simply list the highlights.

1. The sorcerer of Black Castle, Remuses, still evades me, and though I have thoroughly investigated the great pyramid in Khopsef, I have yet to convince the demon who puppeteers the Oracle of Derketo to see my way. I will convince him, I am sure, with the help of those within the Coil soon enough. In the meantime I found an interesting book on herbs in the pyramid that I was able to barter for a good price, and I found a scroll that leads me on the trail of my father to a place called Inner Sanctum.

2. Menukamuft, my dear friend and spiritual brother, Min, put me in contact with a past colleague of his, a man named Lacedaemon (pronounced Laka-daimon), or Lace as he is nicknamed. This friend proved to be a very powerful guide through the Sanctum. It was a very, very profitable endeavor, and it was successful in disproving that my father’s apparent immortality has anything to do with the Princess’ method of continued living as hers is an immortality fed on blood. In fact, the sanctum itself drowns in it and I believe it is fueled completely in blood. My father’s trail is not paved in blood but in undead that do not bleed so at the very least I was able to tick this off my list of things to prove or disprove in regards to my father.

3. It is very important that I DO discover the magic that my father, Ramsetep is using, for what good will it do me to find him and kill him if he’s going to just rise again. I must understand his methods so I can break them first…then kill him.

4. Regarding Lace…what a delicious man. We celebrated my financial boons from the Sanctum in ways that left me with very little sleep at the Armsman and when he put me aboard my boat back to Khemi, I was left needing to sleep the entire passage back and was sound asleep when the boat docked in Khemi’s harbor. And while he is delicious and thoroughly skillful, still, I worry that his heart may have been too smitten with our encounter. He comes from being widowed and misses the constant companion of a woman, I think, and I think he misses his wife very much. I could never be that constant companion, especially in light of what is on the horizon. Lace, you see, was born and raised to protect his country, a country that if my sister is right, is going to wage war on my country in the near future and that would put Lace and I on opposite sides of the war. He is honor bound and his heart is bound to the soul of Aquilonia, and while my heart belongs to no one, I am firmly Stygian through and through despite the color of skin my mother bestowed upon me.

5. My skin is vexing in more ways than I can count since leaving my small village south of Luxur for the big cities. Quite often that is merely a social dysfunction. The northern visitors to our port city of Khemi see me in my usual state of undress and despite that my fellow Stygian sisters are also half naked, they assume that my nakedness is because I am ‘doing business’ rather than the truth of being comfortable in the heat and unashamed of my body as we Stygians are all unashamed of our bodies and quite comfortable with our skin. They assume I am Aquilonuian by my skin and try to paint their northern values upon me. One such man with his disgusting northern attitudes…well let us just make that the next item…

6. The next item…A man calling himself Rhomel was in the Serpent’s Head. I have seen him before, scowling and bemoaning the horrors of my country. Well he should leave, and quickly. If a Stygian were in the middle of Conarch Village bitching about the smell of their filthy furs I’d expect no less than a stabbing for such rudeness and why the man thinks he can come to OUR country and be rude to US is beyond me. He called our land godforsaken and full of harlots, including me, I think as one of them and he used the word as a slanderous one, as though a woman being a wh0re is a bad thing. I could not contain my dislike of this man and told him right before everyone at our table that our “wh0res” are professionally trained women while his country only has goats and sheep to tend to their men’s needs.

7. Of my own country men and women…if the war does begin…I’m afraid that I will have to worry about my own people because of the color of my skin. If Conan sends his troops to Stygia as it sounds they may be preparing to do by what my sister heard in the royal court that day, then I will have to flee to the desert as I fully expect the Priesthood of Set to round up everyone without dark skin and at the very least imprison them for fear they will be traitorous if not spies and murderers sent in advance to the mass of troops. They will not hear my vows of loyalty to my beloved Stygia any more than they’d believe the lies of the disloyal. I have no way to prove myself and only have my skin to give a false impression.

8. And now upon returning home to Khemi…I found that I owed Neina an apology, and apologize I did do. That time she was drinking so heavily and I assumed weakness of her, well, the next two times I saw her she was quite sober…and I sat and had a drink with her and found that I like her quite a lot. She is very much in love with the beautiful Jafnahar. Now that I know that I like her, I shall be unable to ignore her existence should I find myself with opportunity to enjoy Jaf’s body had any such opportunity had arisen. Min asked if that destroys the fantasy, and of course I told him no. I will continue to entertain wonderful thoughts of handing Jafnahar shackles to bind me and begging him to r@pe me to rapturous unconsciousness. But Thoughts and Deeds are two different things, and until either I find that Jaf and Neina are no longer lovers, or unless I am rendered unable to resist due to chemical means, I will take no action towards the man. Sadly. He is still the most beautiful man in all of Stygia.

9. Who the hell is Ravayn..Raven…however she spells his name. Not only has Min told me this man seeks me out, but when I was sitting with Neina, Lokahn approached me to tell me that this Ravahn person is looking for me. I wonder if it is to bed me or kill me.

10. I have sent a message to a Priest of Mitra named Curhathl. While I follow the trail of my father from the beginning of his life here in Stygia, I also have made inquiries into his more recent past in Aquilonia and while there is likely little hope that this Curhathl of whom I’ve never met has any information on a false Priest of Mitra calling himself Ramsetep, I cannot ignore any possible leads and so I have requested to speak to him if he would be accepting to do so.

If I had a god, I would be swearing to it right now. I spend the last two days getting called names by northerners when I have been walking around with a top on, clothed in order to make them feel more comfortable. And today I get called names by a Stygian woman?!?! Because she could see my nipples through my top?!?! What…the…fek. Fine, if I cannot make anyone happy, trying to be sociable and accepting that there are many cultures that visit this port town, then just fekking fine. This is MY country. I am Stygian, yellow hair and blue-green eyed, but I AM Stygian. I am going to dress Stygian when in Stygia and the top goes. They don’t want to look at my nipples. They can get the fek out of my gods damned country.

Rose stabs her journal with her quill.

After her last journal entry, Rose went out, did a bit of business, and returned to the Serpent’s Inn. Before retiring for the night in her rented room there, she took a table to have a meal and relax as is her habit. She’d gone to her room first, cast off her armor and pulled on her scant skirt, her blades re-belted to her hips, but this time, she left the shirt off.

Now Rose is a polite girl. When she is in Aquilonia, does she rudely curse the patrons in their bar for their poor ale, for their barbarian king, for their horseshit in the streets? When she is in Cimmerian, does she stand in the middle of their pub and call them all unwashed, smelly barbarians with their stinking furs and does she call their women sheep for all the unclean hair they keep to their bodies, most of them stinking of their own feces clinging to that pubic hair? No, Rosahra does not, because Rose is a polite girl, a civilized girl, with manners and respect.

When foreigners come to Stygia, she kept herself clothed even though nudity is the custom in Stygia. People can be clothed or unclothed in whatever manner they are comfortable in. They need not be ashamed. They have removed their body hair, they are clean and washed. The Priests of Set wash themselves meticulously several times a day. But still, Khemi is a town of Port, people of many customs walk around that city so in Khemi, Rose had kept her clothing on to be respectful to those that were not used to their ways.

No more. Rose had quite enough of the rudeness of other people. Tonight, she left the thin top she normally wore in the heat of the city and went down into the Serpent’s tavern room wearing no more than her little skirt and her blades on her hips.

There were many at her table, a full ten in all. There were even two men that were not Stygian, polite men, respectful men. Rose had gotten pulled just a little bit a way to speak privately to someone, and as she stood there leaning against a column, hands crossed over her chest and relaxed, in walked the dumbest little foreigner. The dumbest, perky, tiny little blonde woman walked up to that table and called them all a den of filthy whores.

People were now going out of their way to be assholess, to come to our country, to our tavern simply to be rude and call us names. Rose broke. She walked right up to her face, got in her face, and told her if she didn’t like this country to “get the fek out, bitch,” and she said it again, and again, in the woman's face demanding that the bitch get out.

Well that started something, but at this point Rose just didn’t care anymore about being nice to people whose only excuse for existing is to be jerks to other people. In the blink of an eye, those ten people from Rose’s table stood up. They all surrounded that stupid, rude little woman. How smart is it for a little woman to walk into a bar, alone, and throw insults at people that are sitting around with swords on their hips and liquor in their bloodstream? Such an utter fool.

Rose and her friends had this woman surrounded and Rose was never more proud to be a clean, unashamed Stygian, surrounded by friends and even two foreigners with her that protected their right to have a night relaxing in peace without some fool being an idiot. Even when the pack of them surrounded this vile, rude and utterly stupid woman, she continued to spout off.

In the end, the girl was running from the inn, scared little rabbit, and Rose and her friends turned all ignoring her as they took up their drinks and returned to enjoying their fellowship and Rakao’s fine dancing.

The foreigners, they are not only rude, they are stupidly rude. And Rose, was one woman that was not going to take it anymore.

((this actually happened in game, as does 90% of what everything Rose writes about in her journal. Really people, how stupid is it to walk in alone into a bar and insult armed, people who are drinking and not expect to get your ass handed to you? Is that smart roleplay? People are suddenly making it their roleplay to smack-talk each other in the dumbest ways. And my character is done with it. When people are rude to her, she’s either going to get rude back or put them quickly on ignore for being absolute, rude idiots. Smack talk on common ground or on your own ground is fine, but walking in alone into a bar in a foreign country that is not your own, full of armed strangers that are drunk enough to not care if they stick a sword in you are not people that anyone smart would be calling a “filthy den of whores))

Burning BooksEdit

Rosahra sits in her room in her tower at New Calla. The swamp air unseasonably chill late this evening has led her to start a small fire in the pit seldom used to heat the room. She begins to write, stops, and begins to write again. She twitches her back feeling the pain of her wound on her back. She smirks, distracted at a thought, of the girl Neina who she’s become so fond of now having separated from the beautiful Jafnahar and yet now that is done, Rose has no desire to seek him or stare at him with longing. Jafnahar is still the most beautiful Stygian she has ever seen, but the longing has died as another fire begins to burn, an unnatural blaze from an unexpected twist thrown in her path. Bright blue eyes blaze in the dark of her mind, blue eyes flashing to glowing yellow. She is wooed by his challenges. She is seduced by his calling. Gods, the man makes her think, makes her face death, makes her feel life.

She twitches again as a scar healing on her back begins to itch, and she remembers other pains and smiles softly, her eyes glazing at the thoughts. Things have happened she cannot bring herself to write in a journal that could be stolen from her, secrets read and revealed. Terrible things, and wonderful things that she can’t dare speak of, let alone write where it could be taken and used against her.

The lull in the storm has broken and the world has canted. She has been torn, scratched, bitten, drown in quicksand, and the most devastating of all wounds, she has surrendered to love. Surrender. Such a hard thing for her to do. Her will is too strong to be broken. But yes, she has surrendered, and she can’t quite comprehend how it happened. No, that’s a lie, she corrects herself. She knows why…because he’s the only man strong enough…fierce enough to tame what’s seething inside her. And because of him…a darkness seeps into her being that greatly pleases her sister’s demon-god.

Rosahra begins to hum, thumping the dry quill against the journal before her. Her humming becomes a soft song and she rises and carries the journal to the fire pit. Still singing, she looks about her room, hears the chitter of her beloved spiders crawling about efficiently at their work. She looks to the fire pit a long moment, and then drops her journal into the flames before turning to go out for the night.

Her singing can be heard by the servants in pieces as she descends the stairs of her tower…

Itsy bitsy spider upo…a wo...n sn..t…

…came the mo.. raising havoc all abou…

Here comes the sun and the spi..r’s not the same

And the it.. ..tsy spider ante’s ..p a big..r game…


The Wiccana Wiki awards this story the Weekly Feature Award!
--MaeHaftahurcha 00:46, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

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