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Fantasy Terrorchild: Awakening

K0mori

Servant Supreme
Somewhere far below, a million damned spirits swirl and howl in anticipation of your arrival.

You killed a man. How could it have happened!? You - a whelp, nothing but a peasant farmgirl - you murdered a merchant of the Sea of Cassia in broad daylight! And now, you dare to rest your head and shut your eyes, as if you could close out the world and keep to your imagination. But you won't be safe, not even in your own mind, where visions of a violent vortex of darkness and evil tugs at your soul, even as you clutch your fragile body and breathe ragged breaths.

Try as you might, you can't bring yourself to pray. The Gods have never felt more distant than they do now... But you never really felt their grace in your sixteen years, did you? All those days you called on them, hopelessly seeking some reprieve from the cruelty of life, the cruelty of fate and its fickle whims. The cruelty of others. But while murder may be the most decried act in all of scripture, there is one sin which is greater, in fact:

Poverty.

The poor are beyond saving, and always have been. They are less than dirt in the eyes of the nobles, less than vermin to the merchant class, and less than the lowest and most depraved heretics in the eyes of the church, because they have nothing to offer beyond the most meagre of tribute. You had nothing to offer: all your life, you and your brothers and sisters worked with calloused hands in your father's field, or in your mother's shadow, always working, cleaning, cooking, and caring for others without so much as a scrap of luxury for yourselves. And yet, what of the sum total of this labor? A few baskets of produce to offload for a pittance at the market square, only to be taxed and tithed away before it could ever return to your homestead as "profit." Seasons change, children grow into wiry and world-weary adolescents, and your family grows poorer, grows sick, and eventually...

No loving Gods could beckon you to paradise, only to pull back the veil and reveal a place full of the well-fed and contemptuous: the very same pious, vainglorious gluttons who allowed you to suffer and starve in the name of God and Country. What is the conclusion, then? They say it's for the safety of the Empire. They say it's for the salvation of your soul. But what of your body and your better years!? For most of your life, you've cried, late at night, questioning why such suffering was an inseparable fact of existence. You gave all you could, and yet it wasn't enough in the eyes of all who offered such phantasms as security and deliverance. And for that reason, they would ignore your shivering in the winter cold, and the scraping of your spoon against an empty pot in search of soup.

You feel the anger rising within. The anger that caused his death.

It's always been there, lurking somewhere deep in your heart, licking its ghoulish lips in hungry anticipation for the moment you would finally break. It was the very same darkness which called your sister away, four years ago. You watched her, late one night, creeping out of the farmhouse and stealing away into thin air. Her eyes, wild and young and scared, nonetheless burned for something. Freedom? Vengeance? Perhaps your own eyes resemble hers, now that you've become what all who knew your sister feared that you'd be.

You are a witch.

---

Choose your race:

1. Human - You are a human named Azel. If nothing else, your membership in the majority race of the Empire of Zuklanar guarantees that this realm, and others nearby, will be tailored to your needs, if only you could afford it. Other beings will view you with indifference, and you will have no trouble blending in as long as you don't make a habit of slaying any man who looks at you cross. Humans are known for their affinity for combat and skill with tools, although a select few become great magicians of light.

2. Elf - You are an elf named Aenwyn. Many years ago, your ancestors ventured across the Sea of Cassia, during the golden age of elves and their homeland of Sonnamille, in search of rich and fertile lands. Instead, they became subjects of the Zuklan march, and had everything that distinguished them ground away under the boot of poverty. Nonetheless, you are heartier than most humans and will probably live longer than them, which leads to some resentment. Elves are also said to be natural mages, although many are equally skilled with the bow or the blade.

3. Drow - You are a drow named Akryth. Your heritage traces back to the coasts of Aelesh, where colonists from Sonnamille experienced a shocking transformation, centuries ago. Many blame the divergence in the ancestral religion for the sudden appearance of dark-skinned, silvery-haired elves with yellowish eyes. Elves are especially weary of their dark cousins, although humans often characterize them as dark, moody, and possibly dangerous as well. It is often asserted that there are more witches and warlocks among the drow than any other race, but there is no reason why they cannot be skilled in more common crafts, and in fact, most are.

4. Tabaxi - You are a tabaxi named Agranne. Your lineage traces far south, to the jungles of Chasamein. While the catfolk of that distant state have experienced their own golden age as of late, having stolen away nearly half of the elves' ancestral lands, the glory and prosperity could not reach you all the way in cold and barren Zuklanar. Your sinewy body has allowed you to work faster and more deftly than a human would, not that it's brought you any closer to escaping poverty. It's rare to hear of tabaxi witches, but given that two have been born to your family, perhaps they're more common than the humans believe. Either way, most will expect nothing of you aside from physical talents- aside from the elves, who view you as a bloodthirsty marauder.

5. Goblin - You are a goblin named Aga. It isn't quite clear how or why your ancestors left the swamps of Athea and Sonnamille and marched north overland through Turadal, and eventually west into the wastes of Zuklanar, but it was a terrible decision. At least the elves, and even the drow, recognize the great martial aptitude of the goblin race, and its occasional penchant for engineering brilliance, but the humans are largely ignorant, and judge you by your lowly appearance alone, deriding you as a "beast." Perhaps they should be afraid, as goblins aren't strangers to dark magic, either.
 
4. Tabaxi - You are a tabaxi named Agranne. Your lineage traces far south, to the jungles of Chasamein. While the catfolk of that distant state have experienced their own golden age as of late, having stolen away nearly half of the elves' ancestral lands, the glory and prosperity could not reach you all the way in cold and barren Zuklanar. Your sinewy body has allowed you to work faster and more deftly than a human would, not that it's brought you any closer to escaping poverty. It's rare to hear of tabaxi witches, but given that two have been born to your family, perhaps they're more common than the humans believe. Either way, most will expect nothing of you aside from physical talents- aside from the elves, who view you as a bloodthirsty marauder.

The memory of your sister, the fellow witch - Rigatte - lingers in your mind's eye as vividly as the face of your victim. It seems so absurd, to use that term in relationship to yourself. Only yesterday, the sole creatures which could call themselves your victims would be the mice you trapped and killed back at your homestead. To know that you ended a life, and that you did it so easily, sends shivers down your spine.

Rigatte... There simply isn't enough time to dwell on her death again, after you have mourned her so much as of late, and you lack the emotional energy to relitigate the mistakes you made which led to her death. You knew she had traveled home from whatever far-off place she had been living just to see you, and to plead with you to go away with her. She seemed so... empty. There's no better word for it. She wasn't starving, but was rather seeking something so vital that her body was withering in a different way - a spiritual way.

You knew then, as well as you know now, that dark magic eats away at living things and turns them into something dangerous. To awaken to its presence is like a curse, and yet there's no ward, no precaution you or your family can take to prevent it. From then on, you are separate from the norm, as dark magic doesn't behave like its lighted counterpart. Anyone can learn light magic; all it takes is study. Dark magic just arrives one day, like a raven roosting on a barren bough of some long-dead tree - an omen. And it almost always picks young women... Nobody knows why.

Rigatte was burned at the stake, and it was halfway your fault. But like you just reminded yourself, you don't have time to dwell on it again. You have a whole new world of problems, and it's all the fault of that grotesque man who called himself a merchant.

You sense that same anger boiling at the pit of your stomach, that anger that brought out that inner power, as you remember the way he slapped you. He pushed past you in the market, he knocked the basket out of your hands and spilled your family's produce, and he had the nerve to scoff at you, to tell you that no one would pay for food you picked up off the ground, as if it all didn't come from the ground already! And when you called him an asshole, and said he had no right-

*CRACK*

His bejeweled hand struck you so hard it nearly knocked you off your feet! Your anger... it boiled over! You reached for him, and felt something reach out through you...!

1. Bottle it up - you haven't revisited the fact yet, but you're currently riding in a wagon under pile of burlap sacks. Your saviors are also your abductors, and you worry that if you let this memory get the better of you, and allow your emotions run unchecked again, your fragile escape plan might collapse in a hurry.

2. Let it out - once you used your magic to kill that bastard, you basically signed your own death warrant. And while you appreciate the "favor" you've received from your mysterious rescuers, you're under no obligation to go along with whatever scheme they have in store for you.
 
1. Bottle it up - you haven't revisited the fact yet, but you're currently riding in a wagon under pile of burlap sacks. Your saviors are also your abductors, and you worry that if you let this memory get the better of you, and allow your emotions run unchecked again, your fragile escape plan might collapse in a hurry.

No... You won't give yourself away to your impulses again. An icy feeling in your veins reminds you of the poison you were given after you ran from the scene, away from the terror and commotion you caused in the market square. You probably wouldn't get very far if you decided to run or to fight at this point, and so your only real option is probably just to keep still and silent until your captor tells you to speak.

Your captor, of course, is another witch. As soon as you fled from that square, the guards were beset by a murder of crows, aggressively pecking at their faces and hands. Whether the one who sent them was specifically watching you, or just happened to be present when you made yourself known, is a mystery for the moment, but either way, you escaped into a nearby thicket and laid low, your black fur helping to hide you while your buried your face in your hands and caught your breath. It was only a matter of time before the riders or their dogs would catch you or your scent, but thankfully, your benefactor located your first, and provided you a vial of some bitter potion that put you into a deep sleep.

When you awoke, you were here, riding along a bumpy, but flat road out of town and into the country. You aren't sure which direction you're traveling, but the air is cold and you don't sense any sunshine warming you, so it must be night.

1. Look up - see if you can peek out from beneath your cover to get a glimpse of the wagon's driver.

2. Sit up - by this point, you are far enough away from town that no one will be looking for you. You can simply ask the driver what's happening.
 
2. Sit up - by this point, you are far enough away from town that no one will be looking for you. You can simply ask the driver what's happening.

With a deep breath, you gently pull the sacks aside and sit up. Your body feels a bit gelatinous because of the potion you drank, but otherwise, you're healthy.

The driver looks down at you sternly. "It's about time you woke up," she says. "You've been out for six hours. I was starting to think your heart might have given out."

There isn't an ounce of humor in her voice; whatever this woman gave you back in town could have killed you.

"I think I'm okay," you reply, doing your best to appear strong enough to fight if you needed to. Your voice was still a bit ragged, though, as you began to ask the most important questions. "Who are you?"

The driver takes her eyes off you and gazes down the length of the road ahead. "...I'm just watching you for the night. We won't meet again," she replies.

"Where are you taking me?" You ask.

The driver replies more quickly, apparently finding this question easier to answer than the first one: "Turadal," she answers. "There's a village called Yan's Find where some of our sisters live; you'll be cared for, there."

1. Trust - "What will happen when I get there?"

2. Doubt - "What do you mean by 'our sisters?' ...Do they even know I'm coming?"

3. Accuse - "I'm not going to be a part of anything you're involved with if you can't even tell me your name."

4. Deceive - "I feel sick. What was in that potion you gave me?"
 

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