Conversations with a Bodak

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Re: Conversations with a Bodak

Unread post by Tsidkenu » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:42 pm

Two pairs of footsteps made their way into the prison. One pair were familiar, the clip-clop of heel and toe a rather distinctive noise on the obsidian tiles. The other pair were heavier, masculine, determined.The larger of the two cells showed signs of recent use. Dried blood covered the floor and smears in them indicated something had been alive in there at some point. That cell was empty. The other cell, however, was home to a shiny plate of Tormtar armour dangling on the darkened, hairless skin of a horribly warped creature. The moment they entered, it's horrid shrieks, cursing and blasphemies began to fill the whole dungeon.

"Yield!" she cried out firmly, holding forth her Holy Symbol which had been around her neck and rebuked the undead monster. The man with her then stepped forward to inspect the beast which had quietened immediately after her rebuke, her mastery of negative energy coming firmly to the fore.

"Father Night, allow me to introduce you to Sir Anthem Arnemeiger, Paladin of Torm."

"How did he come to be your guest?"

"A long and slow process of corruption, culminating in a single night when he finally succumbed to the true doctrine of our Dark Mistress. To quote his own words, Father, 'You murdered my love for you.'"

"I shall hear all of how you recieved such a prize."

"As I travelled through Tethyr, I stole the identity of a Helmite Pryat. I used her guise to make friends of the paladin once I had arrived in Baldur's Gate and lead him on a blind quest of hatred and vengeance against the drow and orcs," she explained. "He was disgraced, and the Pryat was 'exposed' as a priestess of the Black Hand."

A tiny albeit sardonic smile formed once more on the male's ghostly face as he looked up the bodak. Its resentment for life was clear and evident, but he was bent wholly to the will of the Sharran Priestess.

"They had one final meeting at the foothills of the Sunset mountains, where he was given a glimpse into the future of not just his world, but everyones'. He succumbed to the vision, and it claimed every part of his being." She looked over at her creation. "Nothing is left for them. Just this empty husk. His friends still search for answers to this day. Their cause is hopeless." She paused and looked away from the demented monster. "The irony? I never wanted him. I wanted his squire. The Ilmateri. He turned out far better than I could have asked of the Goddess. Her will was in the whole thing."

He stepped closer, staring at the creature. "What happened to the Ilmatari?"

"After his master disappeared? He fled the region as far as I know."

"Perhaps succumbing as well."

"I am being patient, and waiting for the final blow to strike all he knew and loved. There are two that care the most. A Sunite named Nathan Goldenmane. And an ex-Zhentarim defector named Wren Di-Corvi."

"It's elegant, that this one here loved a mask you wore. What better way to show those fools that love is a lie, than demonstrate it can only grow with falsehood. Sir Arnemeiger's fall must have been total."

"I invited him to destroy me. I welcomed his vengeance. He seethed with it. It dripped like sweet ichor from his tongue as he spoke the words. Of course, his sword swung at but my shadow double. And by the time he realised what had happened, it was too late. He made his choice. He let vengeance fuel his hatred of me. His love was eviscerated and shown to be just the visceral visage all love is. Pathetic."

"And here he stands free of it. It is almost a gift for him."

"I do as you taught me Father. I've only ever done as you taught me."

"You have done it well," he said while looking at Anthem. That smile grew, small, but it's there. It does reach his eyes. He is pleased, very pleased. "Perfection."

She went silent and looked away from the undead. She eyed Father Night blankly, the blankness indicative she was eager to receive instruction from him pertaining the reason of his visit. She knew better than to show emotion at a time such as this. He studied Anthem for a long time, a darkly proud expression.

"A Dark Justicar on a mission from Calimport has gone missing. They answer no sending and they have not contacted you, or you would have told me."

Her eyebrows rose marginally at the mention of the title. She wondered what mission such a ranking cleric might have been on against the enemies of the church. He uttered a few more precise words for her ears only.

"Yes Father," she replied obediently by rote.

"May I borrow your cell's resources?" The tone was eerie, because it was not phrased as a request.

"They are and always have been at your disposal, Father."

"I will look to the Nightsinger in seclusion. Once this is done, I will have leads to investigate. Your cell will assist with these."

"We have eyes and ears in several places about the Sword Coast. They will be found, Father."

He murmured a few more words for her ears only. A dip of her head in acknowledgement. "I shall prepare the cell for a Nightfall ceremony. Then the search shall commence.Do you have any other immediate needs, Father?"

"I will take my communion now," he remarked while turning to look at the Priestess of Shadow, judging her expression. She was her usual unemotive self. Always to the point, and only telling what needed to be told. "I will observe the ceremony. Sir Anthem is proof you can lead it yourself, even with me here."

She bowed low in deference of the great honour thus bestowed, lifted her hand and released her control of Sir Anthem. "Do you want the others to know you have arrived, Father?"

"Yes. I will speak with them if they desire it." The sardonic grin returned. "If you permit them that."

"They will desire it, Father. The Dark surrounds you like a nimbus. It will be irresistable. I want them to crave. Their loss will be their fuel. Searching, never receiving. Because secrets are earned, not given."

"Then it will be so."
Formerly the player of

Mae yr Machshikhah - Pryat of Helm [Bio] [Retired]
Schezalle - The Black Claws Baeqeshel [Bio] [Retired]
Araphella - Whispers of Oblivion [Bio] [Retired]
Aeili Azenci - Baelnorn of Mystra [Bio] [Deceased]

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Re: Conversations with a Bodak

Unread post by Tsidkenu » Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:30 pm

"Then you merely need to jump from your tower and see if the gods are kind enough to take pity on you."

The words echoed through her mind again and again. She had never been taught to question her own faith. It was what it was, or so she thought. But the similarities were to obtuse to ignore outright. Similar circumstance had wrought entirely opposite results. Amora had been enslaved, freed and found herself embracing the world in which she lived. Araphella enslavement and subsequent freedom resulted in her utter rejection of it. She drew her knees up towards her chest and wrapped her arms around them, clinging to herself and rocking back and forth in anticipation of the unknown. Her eyes were closed in distant memories, doing as she had done whilst waiting in her prison cell for her next 'appointment.' Memories she so desperately wanted erased from her mind.

"I could have been more. I could have been... different. But was it ever meant to be? Was I ever meant to be anything other than I am?" she asked him, knowing full well he would never answer. "Do you know what she said to me? She said, 'You've never known friendship, or companionship, and sat lonely.' But that isn't quite true, is it Anthem? There was always you. You were the one that could have made a difference. You could have been the one to show me what real love is, that unbroken camaraderie you thought you had. But in the shadow of the Sunset Mountains, you chose vengeance over mercy. You chose hatred over love. You chose bitterness over kindness. You proved to me then and there that your love was only ever a lie, that your love for me could not see past the holy fervour of your worthless excuse for a deity, that you would rather side with the enemy of all, death, than give an opportunity for life and renewal."

She paused and looked up at him. Her upper lip stiffened as her face contorted in pure, unadulterated hatred. It was the essence of her being, the core of her belief, the zenith of her expression of self.

"I hate your world still. Yes, I live a lie and I hate everything in it. But your world is the worst of all. What kind of world leaves a crippled woman to walk unprotected to a town 150 miles away, only to be rapaciously devoured by wild dogs? Where's the honour in a death like that? What's the purpose of it? What kind of world is it that is overrun by extraplanar invaders, scattering common folk far and wide and stripping them of everything they thought they had? What kind of world curses a man to live only looking forward to his own death? What kind of world abandons their own child, their own flesh and blood to become a byproduct of my Father's machinations? I am tired of it."

"Show kindness," she turned away from the bodak in his iron cage, "is what she asked for. To undo what was done without due cause. But kindness is a concept I have never known my entire life. How am I supposed to find what I've never looked for, Anthem?"

"The gods don't show pity. Your gods don't care for the affairs of mortals while they're too busy trying to consolidate their own powers and kill those they disagree with. They only defy and delay the inevitable. Only Shar ever had the answers; I reaffirm my embrace of her abandonment of this entire perverse and corrupted system of things. I would be a fool to turn away from her now. No, no, there is no going back from this. Not now. Not ever."

"Kindness would be letting them know what I did with you. Burying you where I killed you. Letting them find you at long last. Offering a token of solace to your temple with the scattering of your prayer beads upon their cold and lifeless floors. But it is a kindness I will not extend to them. I will taunt them until I breathe my last. For I know what awaits me... what awaits us: an ending in which we will never be separated. And that is greater than all the love the world could ever offer me."
Formerly the player of

Mae yr Machshikhah - Pryat of Helm [Bio] [Retired]
Schezalle - The Black Claws Baeqeshel [Bio] [Retired]
Araphella - Whispers of Oblivion [Bio] [Retired]
Aeili Azenci - Baelnorn of Mystra [Bio] [Deceased]

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Joined: Tue May 27, 2014 12:04 am
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Re: Conversations with a Bodak

Unread post by Tsidkenu » Mon Nov 26, 2018 9:18 pm

"I have decided; Helm & Cloak Room Twenty Two within the hour."

She flipped the hourglass at that very moment as the reply came in. It was judgement day, and there was nothing more significant than what was just about to transpire. She had her plans, her contingencies set and ready. Fingertips rapped atop the hourglass as its sand whittled away to more than half. She already knew something was afoot. She had expected it. She wanted to lead them on in their vain hope for answers, answers she was never actually going to give them.

"So... instincts or memory? Zella?"

A form appeared from the shadows of the room. Incredibly talented in the dark, this one was, but it was not for the dark. That so much disappointed as invigorated the priestess of shadow as she craned her head to the right.

"A little late this time, don't you think? What took you so long?"

"Just letting a few people know where I was heading to be sure I had someone know where to look for my body if your decision is unfavorable to me," came the straightforward reply. It wasn't even a game any more. "And they of course had all sorts of lovely words of safety to say to me."

"Take your gloves off," Zella remarked idly, flicking one of her hands towards the other.

It was done, the gloves thereafter being tucked into their owner's belt.
"Odd request"

"Roll up your sleeves. And remove those vambraces." Zella had no need whatsoever to explain her demands. That was not the Sharran way. She simply expected obedience.

The head with winced eyes as they painstakingly complied, taking them off to follow the command and placed them into the cushioned sofa next to where Zella sat. She pushed herself to her feet.

"This is the moment. Are you ready?" She offered her hands, still gloved in black velvet.

The other took a deep breath, nodding in a measure of uncertain trepidation. A left arm was offered forth, upon it the mark and memory of previous vile deeds done in the darkness. But it was not what had been requested. The manner in which Zella stood implied she wanted both hands, one in each. The right was shortly after offered and taken. Zella lifted both up to shoulder height and pulled her closer so as to whisper into her ear the words of a brooding spell.

"And by the powers of darkness incarnate, in the name of Shar, forever let your curse..." The delay was deliberate. The divine command to complete the magic stalled at the tip of her tongue. Of course, she already knew what was coming. But her subject did not. And that was the best part.

" twice as worse as it was."

The other quickly pulled back, but the spell, quickened in and of itself, had already taken effect. Not only did the scar upon the left arm remain, the right now pulsed with a nascent divine glow as the shadows between the weave sealed the magic and strengthened the curse's power beyond what should have otherwise been. It took the form of a magical tattoo, a blackened scorpion, claws and tail at the ready, a disembowelled feline ripped apart in its claws, a precisely aimed attack at the heart and mind of its new owner. Wide eyes stared in shock and horror.

"Damn it! No! No no no nonono!" began the shrieks of panic upon deafened ears and a blackened and emotionless heart.

"Time's up," she spoke, uttering her victim's name to seal the deal. "Shar will aways be with you," Zella turned and struke the hourglass with a sudden backhand, sending it flying into the distant wall with resulting smash.

The other readied weapons to attack, tone becoming all the more desperate and demanding. "Remove it!"

Another flick of her hands and familiar chains of darkness spread forth to bind her would-be assailant.

"You want worse? Done," Zella commented in cold, malicious emotionlessness. A swipe of her hands and the chant of a complex and powerful Word of Blindness was all she needed. "The darkness forever cloak your eyes; may you never again see the sun's light!"

"Need you now!" came another desperate cry, but it was not heard. There was no answer. There was no deliverer. Exactly as she had intended. The magic was in full effect as pupils dilated beyond normality and blood seeped through every external orifice, wracking the form with debilitating pain and blindness.

Shadows tugged around Araphella's form, a test to see if they others had come for her. They had. Her passage into the Shadow Realm was blocked, but she already knew her secondary escape route. The conjured shadows now congealing to her form, her body was hidden from mortal vision and she moved past her collapsed victim. Why she was not left another flayed victim of her crusade against the light was her secret. Door opened. There was no-one outside. She duplicated her form and left it in the room as bait and made her way carefully downstairs. Two were waiting there, but they did not see her or perceive her exit. She passed by the western wall of the palace towards the Wide, veering down a side alley and plunging down into the dark depths of the sewers. The wade through waste deep excrement was exhausting as much as humiliating, but if it was the price to pay for freedom then she would pay it. She wove expertly through the maze of tunnels with practiced ease until at last she arrived at her destination.

The basement of the Blushing Mermaid was the last place anyone would see her in the city of Baldur's Gate, the final offer of kindness by the singular, magically-enhanced eyes and genuine voice of love all but spurned as she vanished into the verge of the Shadow Realm. There were many more pieces of the puzzle still missing, but Araphella had intended it to be so. Sir Anthem was hers forever now. Hers forever in the seething miasma that hated all life, all light, and all good. He remained her singular testimony that love is and always will be a lie; hatred is the only thing that endures.
Formerly the player of

Mae yr Machshikhah - Pryat of Helm [Bio] [Retired]
Schezalle - The Black Claws Baeqeshel [Bio] [Retired]
Araphella - Whispers of Oblivion [Bio] [Retired]
Aeili Azenci - Baelnorn of Mystra [Bio] [Deceased]

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Posts: 3853
Joined: Tue May 27, 2014 12:04 am
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Re: Conversations with a Bodak

Unread post by Tsidkenu » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:26 pm

DM Golem wrote:The ancient temple was dangerous, to be sure, but care and expertise allowed entry; as did the fact that what was left of its divine defences recognised Shar's own.

The rededication, and scrying for the Artefact were conducted by masked Sharrans each of whom knew little of the other, united only by Father Night. It met with success, and the artefact was found, scryed... resting as it was over the captive body of the missing agent.

That was not all that was scried. A beautiful, woman was holding the thing in a long-nailed hand, gazing into its depths. Her devilish nature was clear, from the horns on her brow and the wings coming out of her back; her aspect promised pleasures and temptations unimaginable. A brachina, no dobut.

Whatever magics were on her allowed her to detect the scrying and before it ended, and the links were broken, she could be heard saying something with mirth.

"Is one of you the one he is so proud of?"

Father Night's strike team is already setting off by this time. The Artefact resists magical transport by those not of the faith and so by the time they arrive, whoever was carrying it is long gone with their captive. A force of devils, however, must be overcome; and they meet vengeance for their theft.

A victory for Shar's minions, but what did the Brachina mean?

Shadows billowed into the temple complex, revealing a petite feminine form. Araphella held the artefact in her hand, successfully having retrieved it from the grasp of its unlawful captors. The artefact itself was a simple thing: a disc of polished black obsidian. And yet, the power the ancient held could be felt even without knowing the proper incantations in its use. Her black stiletto heels clipped across the blackened, ancient Netherese slate, undoubtedly alerting Father Night that the mission had been accomplished. She waited patiently, pausing at the jambs of the sanctuary doorway, knowing better than to disrupt Father Night's meditations.

Father Night stood in the central sanctum, his head bowed, his hands clasped before him. A lean, tall figure, he is perfectly still and serene. Devoid of motion, devoid of intention, outwardly, as he meditated in the perpetual gloom of the Temple. Perhaps he was aware of her presence; perhaps he was not. Either way, it was many moments before he turned, his dark eyes opening, expectation of report in them.

"We have it, Father."

"Expected, of course." The man steps forward, holding his hand out. The perceptive might see something glint in his eye.

Araphella held forth the black disc but halted just short of actually giving it to him. "A question, Father, if I may dare presume upon your patience."

A slight tightening around the edges of his lips. "You already have. Go on."

"How many others are there?" she asked simply. The question was somewhat vague, but she knew what she meant and was already internalising her terse elaboration.

Father Night's dark eyebrow raises, as if confused. "It is the only one."

"I'm not talking about the disc." She flipped the disc over in her hand, examining it again before daring to eye him directly.

"Explain," said Father Night, "and make it good. You are taking liberties." His affable veneer faded.

"The children of your machinations, Father."

Father Night clasped his hands behind his back and paced back towards the darkness of the shrine. "I am a Father to my children, you included. A Father in Night. As you have been a Mother here. The rebirth a holy thing." He looked back at Araphella. "But did you think you were the only one I had tutored?"

"I would never be so presumptuous, Father. You gave me everything I have," she began to reply, pausing dramatically as she fixed her eyes upon his. "And you also took away everything, didn't you? You took away my innocence. You took away my purity. You took away every illusion I could have ever had of self, good, love. Was it worth it?"

Father Night meets her gaze, eyes cold. "All the little lies are only gifts that help one see a greater truth. Once I wrestled with that thought, that the embrace of Night was a form of compassion, and that is a temptation."

"Was it worth it?" she repeated.

"You have become a true priestess of far. The gift I gave you, you have given to many others. The paladin you destroyed answers your question."

She held the disc out fully to him. "There was a moment, Father, that I was tempted. To turn. To embrace something other than I am. But I realised in that moment the rawest essence of the truth. As much as I want to kill you for what you took away from me, it doesn't matter. It never did."

He took the disc, watching Arapehlla closely. For a moment it seems heavy in his hand.

"My work here is complete, Father. A testament to the Lady herself, in that she will continue it in my absence. I await your orders for my next task."

His thumb moved on the disk. He allowed himself a tiny smile, and the thumb moved, as if it seemed heavy; the smile faded as whatever weakness of his own is dispelled in the moment, his expression returning to cold. "Our Truth is the greatest gift, and we are more charitable than a thousand Ilmateri for every soul we show the Night. Yet that is not why we do it, no more than a river chooses to flow to the sea or a man without water dies of thirst in the desert. Everything leads to her, it just is so." With that, his affable demeanour returned.

"It is just so," she repeated.

"For your orders, this artefact cannot be lost again, especially to creatures such as had it. I will bear it myself to where it needs to be. You have proven your prowess will come with me, and if I fall, take up the burden in my place. Or die to defend it. Such as is needed."

"As you command, Father Night. And the Paladin?"

Father Night paused. "You could leave him as a gift to your children. But if not, I can find a use for him."

She bowed low, her mantle of hair flowing forwards over her shoulders as she turned to collect her belongings from the priestess' quarters and ready herself for the journey south. She was too clever to make mention of the words of the brachina, words that brewed incessantly in the back of her mind, and a trump card to be played at a later time when is was most necessary. For now, she would obey. Or seem to. Only Shar knew whatever darkness brewed in her bitter heart, waiting for it's ripening and revelation to the world.

To be continued...
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((This will be my last post in this journal until (or if!) I decide to take Araphella out of retirement at some point in the future. Again, thanks to everyone for making this narrative along with me, esp. DM Golem for this last RP post!))
Formerly the player of

Mae yr Machshikhah - Pryat of Helm [Bio] [Retired]
Schezalle - The Black Claws Baeqeshel [Bio] [Retired]
Araphella - Whispers of Oblivion [Bio] [Retired]
Aeili Azenci - Baelnorn of Mystra [Bio] [Deceased]

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