There was a time in my life that I was not a free, killing thing, or an instrument of a dark divinity's will. I had been trapped by one who thought himself clever to capture me as I murdered one of my many hunters. He found me burying my knife into the skull of one of my Shadow Elf kin. I was distracted by the last scream as it rang loudly in my ears, filling me with the strange elation I always felt when slaughtering those my mother sent to bring me to death. I did not hear him until he was upon me and as skillful as I had become at murdering, none of that mattered when faced with one who could call sleeping magic without much more than a thought and a touch. Even as the magic swam over my frame, I fought, swung blindly and growled my outrage like a savage thing. The darkness drank me and silence replaced the lust for death.
When I had awoken, I had discovered the air was different. The scent of leaves had been gone and the air was much drier. My hands touched the floor and found cold dirt and the sounds of distant agony echoing off walls. When I lifted my hands, the sharp clank of shackles told me that I had been taken prisoner. I knew this could not be my mother, the Queen's doing, for it had been so, she would have likely all ready taken my head, for the very thing my existence meant.
When I rose to stand and appraised my surroundings, I only found stark, painful light streaming from between the bars and all else had been dark. I am sensitive to light, for being kin to a people who dwelled in underground cities for well over a thousand years and it was enough to blind me for a moment, to the one that had I unwittingly shared this cell with. I heard him first and the sound was enough for me to find him without seeing him clearly. I turned and reached for the voice, only to be denied the joy of crushing his throat by the taut pull of the chains that now held me.
His voice mocked me, knowing that I could not fulfill my fond wish of that moment. When my eyes finally adjusted to the light, I knew then the one who captured me was a Shar`Vaire. Tall, reedy thin and graceful, they are one of two tribes that descended from the original Asyndi who fell from grace of the Old Gods, eons ago when the world was young. And, like any fallen celestial, they had no wings, but did not require them; most suffered enough hubris to hold them aloft in the heavens of their own minds. I committed the smiling face to memory; one day I would see that same smile on his severed head.
He told me his name was Theocrat Hivrion Kasayr and that I was now his dueling slave. He continued to explain to me that I would kill the champions of those who challenged him and those he challenged, or he would torture me until my body could take no more. I nearly welcomed him to contest my willingness to endure pain, but I did not want him to believe me unbreakable. It would mean I was useless and my life would be ended, before I could kill either him, or Arisyeema. I lowered my head and murmured my compliance. I knew he smiled, though my eyes were lowered, because I could hear it in his pompous voice. He could never know I was the snake coiling around his neck, rather than the trodden ox made to pull his bloodied plough.
It was then he clicked a collar around my neck and explained that it would merely take him speaking a word of arcane meaning to trigger this collar that was now around my neck to inject poison into my veins that would kill me within seconds. I smiled as the collar clicked and he spoke his warning; it was his knife to my throat that made me crave for his death in a way I usually reserved for my whore mother.
Daily, I was wakened before dawn and given meals that tasted foul and water that had been pissed in to drink. I was expected to eat and drink these things or suffer beatings. Some days, I chose the beatings over meals, so I could increase my endurance for pain. I knew that if I were to face those similar to I...meaning those who killed without compunction, that I would need to relish pain. It was not a far place in my mind from where I was now; every time I fought and killed those who sought me in the name of the Queen, I suffered injuries and took wounds with a strange, empty glee.
Sometimes, I would fight the champions of those who insulted my master, other times, I would be pitted against those my master thought I could kill so he could profit. but always, there was blood and bodies piled high in the name of Theocrat Hivrion Kasayr. This pleased him and in his pleasure, he rewarded his killing monster that was I, with better food, a room in the basement of his estate and with a sword. He had told me this sword was made of a metal called Infernium, that cut metal as easily as the meat and bone of a body and left wounds only magic or prayer could heal. It was with this sword I understood my freedom was close at hand.
The master was growing comfortable with his pet monster and assumed that control was his. This was a fatal error on his part; I am Nilharys and any servitude I accept is for my own sake. I cannot be broken, not then and not now, least of all by a pompous fool who gives a murderer a weapon and does not expect his own death to come of it.
My purpose as Hivrion's killing pet was not yet complete. His daughter, Livisya enjoyed the look of my body and would come to my chamber in the basement to pleasure herself upon me, as if I were some toy she could amuse her passions upon. It was to my liking as well and offered me an opportunity. I complied to her lustful wishes, on the condition she would teach me her people's language and bring me books of it to read. She was unusually honest for a Shar`Vaire and kept her promise, spending months teaching me their language and bringing me books of their culture, their lore and their magic.
Magic. In the time I spent roving the wild, I had never considered it nor did I desire it. The clean air and the warmth of a victim's blood washed upon my face as I split them open was all I craved. As I watched this noble Shar`Vaire, his noble life and read of their history, I understood then that I would need more than the sword I now had, to accomplish what I desired. I would need to learn magic to defeat the Whore Queen that spat me from her putrid womb. She was a well-guarded queen and knew arcane craft herself, I had been told by more than one in my youth, by those who sheltered me.
Now, within this Theocrat's estate I had access to all the knowledge I required, so long as I pleasured his pretty little daughter. This continued for five years, under the highly raised nose of my master, who did not seem to notice that his precious, adored daughter was feeding his killing pet monster things she ought not. Books of rituals and rites were of the greatest interest to me; to call upon those who exist beyond this dimension, to glean knowledge upon those I seek, or to set them upon those I wish to perish had an appeal I could not ignore. I was but one, in a world where allies were fleeting and enemies blossomed like black flowers with eager, sharp thorns.
The end of these servitude came on a night that had been like any other. I had murdered a champion of a great Theocrat and the blood of that champion was still upon me. I had not taken much relish in the killing, for he had been a vastly inferior opponent. I do not learn much or grow strong by killing those who have little skill. Yet, while the champion had been weak, this great Theocrat had not been and this loss was a great boon to my master's house. I had sought my bath, when I was stopped by Hivrion and his three bodyguards.
Here, in the basement of his own house, he smiled and spoke of how I have earned my freedom, for this greet deed. The smell of wine was thick upon him and I knew he spoke a drunkard's promise, but it did not matter. Even a drunk Theocrat's command is a binding one and one of his bodyguards hesitantly removed collar from around my neck. It was strange not having it there, after enduring it for five years, but it was not a sensation I dwelled upon, since the time for murder was once again at hand.
To their credit, the bodyguard realized, having watched me in the arena, what I was capable of doing and that I enjoyed it. They knew the smile that I wore when I ended lives and it was the smile I wore for them now. But they were bodyguards, not people who understood how to kill with swift brutality. One of them managed to draw their sword even as I drew the sword my master had given me. I knew, that even drunk, my master was a powerful mage and to allow him to even gain enough composure to think would be my end, so it was he that tasted the metal of his gift to me first, with a swift cleaving of his head from his shoulders.
The bodyguard who had drawn his sword to protect the now decapitated Hivrion was also braver than his stunned comrades, who were only now fumbling with their weapons. He engaged me and parried aside two of my strikes, before his sword was cleft in two by the Infernium weapon I had been given. Likewise his torso had been split open with the momentum of my swing, sending the familiar warmth of blood spraying onto my face with welcome satisfaction. Strangely, neither of the two that remained called out for help upon witnessing this; perhaps it was Shar`Vaire arrogance again that prevented them from doing the only rational choice they had to them, which was cry out before death came.
The other two died much as the first had, leaving the corridor near my chambers left in a ruin of slumped over bodies and spilt forth viscera. From this collection of gore, I claimed my master's head and carried with me, along with the very many books Livisya had given me to read, to the servant's exit to the estate, where I had left unnoticed, while others were occupied with wine, celebration and lascivious behavior. I had placed Hivrion's head here, with a letter to Livisya, explaining my actions. She, wisely never sought my blood in vengeance, so I can only assume she understood that I am Nilharys and I cannot be caged without consequences.
by T.A. Saunders ©2012