Jarek - Male Drow - Fighter

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Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:16 am

Jarek - Male Drow - Fighter

Postby Gorirah Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:49 pm

Height: 5' 2"
Weight: 112#

Dressed in a full suit of reinforced leather, hooded, masked and wearing thick goggles, not a trace of Jarek's skin is left exposed. His slim and short stature would suggest an Elven heritage and if one were familiar with the Eastern Underdark, then they may place his accent to somewhere around the Earthroot. His voice is somewhat weak and does not carry well, his breath gives out a soft wheezing and may suggest some health issues beneath the mask.

His armor is distinctively and finely made, fitted to his person. Small sections of supple leather form flexible joints between more rigid leather plates, encasing him in an almost airtight manner. The sections central to the chest and abdomen are made of cured beholder hide, the rest of the hard leather coming from umberhulks. Tailored into its structure, between or under the plates, and over the softer joints, are a network of strongly cured tubes. Small valves of polished bone pierce neatly through the leather plates and into this array of ducts, giving access to regulate their flow. Small wisps of a warm white vapour occasionaly seep from the structure of the suit, the odd hiss of gas or gurgling liquid, barely audible to the casual ear.
The armor has a fitted backpack with a variety of compartments and attached hoppers, all these connected to the tubing. They spread out across his back, many thin vessels sinking into the sides of his armor, thicker tubes of umberhulk antenna arch across the backs of his shoulders and run down his arms. The heaviest tubes of beholder eye-stalks rise up over both shoulders, clinging to his neck and connecting into the cheeks and jaw of his face mask.
Three broad sleeve tubes on his left arm run to the inside of his wrist. A manifold of six thinner ones spring from the inside of his right forearm, ending at valves on a thick cuff around that wrist. His hood, facemask and goggles are all integrated as one. The mask is blank with no mouth or nasal feature, instead, dark recesses in the cheek sections bear tricuspid valves that periodically yawn for air. Inside the rims of the inch-thick goggles are the dark, segmented lenses taken from an umberhulk, the entire suit being organic, not a trace of metal or mineral.

The only weapons he carries are heavy slings, one of which hangs from attachments on his right cuff. Its pocket is designed for two bullets and tailored firmly to keep them on close trajectories. He bears a shield on his left arm which is made of a smooth beetle carapace with a laquered finish to it and an inside surface that is lined with small horn flasks and a selection of surgical blades.

The dark red of his armour is mottled into browns by the stains of alchemic work, small burns and subtly strange odours peppering his presence. If he were ever seen without his armour, Jarek's body would be found smothered by the scars of such chemical burns. These though, are clearly not the result of accidents.
It is a skin filled with intricate symbols, long serifs flowing into knots and symmetric patterns. From the back of his head and neck, across his back, chest and limbs, right down to the palms of his hands and soles of his feet. Some symbols are readily legible, marking him as property of an engineering guild called 'The Halls of the Hollow Warrior', others are unique wizard marks and presumably those of his masters. Some have little meaning outside the cultural sphere of Undrek'Thoz, but most of it makes no sense whatsoever as text, being either decorative or in some peculiar code. His skin itself is dark and slightly translucent with an oddly waxy texture to it and highly prone to drying out.

Were one to be familiar with the the city segments of Undrek'Thoz, then it maybe known that this old, secretive guild had existed. Maybe even that all therein was supposedly destroyed when a Vhaeraunite cult tore into the guild in an attempt to steal the long envied secrets of their crafts. From this fall, Jarek would be a survivor, unaccounted for by the Vhaeraunite claims of complete destruction, maybe just one of a scattered few.

If studied, his armour may reveal that parts of it reclaim and cycle fluids and gasses, small bladders filling and compressing from his movements, alchemical oils expanding or contracting with heat, passively sustaining itself for short periods but far from self-sufficient. It is partly environmental, helping to filter and sustain, partly weaponised in supply of sling ammunition and enchanting oils.

Race: Drow
Age: 110

Jarek was born in one of the poorer districts of Mezrylornyl, a segment of the great Undrek'Thoz. His family were of limited means and along with his male siblings, he was indentured to pay for his eldest sister to be gain a place at the temple of Lolth.
His term was bought by The Halls of the Hollow Warrior, a guild in the Jenn'Yxir segment and concerned with engineering artifice. As was common with such arrangements, the debt would become indefinite. The more he lived and worked there, the more his overall debt grew and he knew there were very limited prospects for ever being a truly free citizen. The techniques at the guild were old and well guarded, and though its origins are now lost amid a millenia of racial propaganda, there are none within the guild who would question an Ilythiiri inception.

Working at the guild from a very young age, he spent many years processing ores, curing hides and working with alchemical materials. This took a toll on his health and affected his development as he grew to adulthood. While the some of his health issues could ultimately be cured, that which had affected the nature of his growing anatomy would be beyond restorative effects. It was not like he suffered to the degree of slaves, but his lungs and skin were both permanently affected by his time there.
Jarek's armour allows his skin and lungs to be kept in [much] more humid air. If exposed to dry, his skin will become sore and his breathing more laboured, both conditions becoming more and more exaggerated [and potentially fatal] as the exposure continues.
[Such odd conditions were not uncommon] among those in his line of work, and the expense of the armour they wore was only added to his indenturing debt. He was a slave in effect, just given most of the privileges required of being male Drow.

After thirty years, Jarek moved away from material processing and became involved increasingly with the guild crafts. Finally assigned to assist a small department consisting of an eccentric researcher, and anatomical engineer and a recently graduated alchemist. Their official remit was in the maintenance of organic golems and environmental aids, making their slave labour more cost effective, but the researcher was one of personal means and they would spend much time on his own projects.
It was not that Jarek was a trainee, nor could he ever afford to be, but he absorbed techniques readily and grew to be an accepted part of the department. To the researcher, he was regarded as a useful servant, a guard and guinea pig. Where something was regarded as probably safe, and had not been tested on Drow physiology, Jarek would be the experimental subject.
Not only did the researcher have the chemical branding put on Jarek's skin, he also had the department alchemist burn much else across him. His motives for this were never understood by the others in the department, nor were the designs themselves. Whatever was branded upon Jarek was understood by the researcher alone. It was odd however that the branding became far more often in the weeks before the guild was destroyed and that Jarek was then sent away during that final week.
His instruction had been to collect an alchemical consignment, a two day trip out of the city and toward a mine outside the Brundag segment. The caravan had been attacked on route, but to Jarek's surprise he was not killed, nor were two of the other travellers. He never did know the other two, nor see them again, but he was released the day later. Placed on a long trade caravan that was headed for Skullport, he was ordered to speak to none on the way and remain in the area of Skullport until correctly contacted there.

Regarding Jarek's nature and faith, he was brought up to fear and respect Lolth, but Seveltarm was the patron of his guild. He was to fight when told, to take instruction without question, to accept his position and remain completely loyal to his researcher. After sixty years of conditioning intoxicants he was driven only by learning, research and obedience to his masters. As such, he was quite lawful in outlook and focused on practicality with no concern for morals.
In his time at Skullport and without the conditioning intoxicants, his subservient nature cracked, and then fell away when a new presence arose within him. He became increasingly indifferent to the social structures, increasingly taken by research and acquired a lot of sentiments in line with his old master.
His religious stance had been quite passive. Paying lip-service to the duties of one who is faithful, but only out of fear rather than devotion. He still bears symbols of Seveltarm within his armour and branded upon his skin. As to any true calling of faith, he had kept such sentiments firmly held back, but after revelations in the Skullport region he became inwardly devout and only reserved on account of the Skulls.

Last edited by Gorirah on Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:16 am

Re: Jarek - Male Drow - Fighter

Postby Gorirah Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:23 pm

The narrow streets of eastern Jenn'Yxir towered with the centuries of heavy stone architecture, crowded a dozen floors high and woven together by a web of walkways. The high cave roof, barely visible through the gaps that remained, was lit by a moss of a sickly pear hue. This half of the city segment had become ever more industrialised to the needs of Undrek'Thoz and few would walk unprotected upon its lower roads. From vents and in gutters, a low mist would creep, flowing, condensing into small pools. Heavy vapours from chimneys crawled down walls, slimes with eyestalks oozing within, mosses and fungi ever puffing out spores like little analogues of the manufactories all around.
It was an ecology unto itself, from the alchemical waste, the effluent and detritus, and all that evolved therein. Even within his enchanted and airtight leathers, and despite having walked the same route each day, Jarek could not be complacent with his movements here. Cracks and potholes lay hidden, but at least they were static. His caution was more due to the way new organisms could suddenly flourish and pose the unexpected dangers.

To Jarek and his masters, these low roads were not the open sewer they would appear, they were to be farmed for alchemy and whatever organic novelties arose. A laboratory of bubbling chaos. Of course, his masters never came here, they had better things to do than trudge around the miasma, bottling caustic gloop, and wearing experimental protective armors. Jarek at least had the relative safety of armor that had been tested on the slaves first; their protection would occasionally suffer fatal flaws. His time in the mire was spent gathering, testing and directing the slaves, at least here he had some status as an indentured Illythiri.

The Halls of the Hollow Warrior had spread through deep basements of these large industrial buildings. Highly secure and not even known by most, as a guild it was maybe as old as the city itself, and as was common, its past had become clouded by the propaganda of so many generations with varied agendas, often seeking to manipulate the truth. From the concealed street doors Jarek would descend into its humid passages lined with pipes and walled by vats of engineered ooze, through heavy iron doors with air-tight seals and magical wards, and down into the vast atrium that centered the guild. The circular gallery, three hundred feet across and fifty feet high, overlooked a forest of machines, armour suits, weapon systems, tanks and cages of organics writhing or pacing mindlessly. Dark portals swirled in frames around the periphery of this great wrought iron walkway, none were marked and all threatened a mangled end inside one of the machines if the relevant runes were not being worn.

Through the respective portal was the main laboratory of Jarek's home department. Flesh golems of nightmarish and chimeran designs loomed as guards around the portal, the glowing of bug-eyes of homonculi leered down from dark dovecotes high up in the vaulted ceiling. The walls towered with six tall tiers of glass fronted bookcases and great display cases, their heavy ladders sliding on rails, reaching forty feet into the gloom above. Leathery environmental suits, the stuffed bodies of bizarre creatures, shelves of twitching organs in jars, small tanks filled with a myriad of organics from pulsing fungi and glowing worms, to chittering insects and writhing eels.
The pillars, even some desks and cauldrons were more golem than structure or furniture. With limb-like clamps and stands, gurgling alchemical tracts, ruminating, their sphincters dripping into bubbling flasks, odd eyeballs watched and tiny mouths clicked or squealed. Small creatures scurried across the floor, detritivores gobbling up any waste to fall, or the splats of others from golem footfalls.

This was one section of the department of organic engineering and had been the limit of Jarek's world for many years. Their laboratory and workshops, studies and accommodation, they were all sealed off here in the basement of an extensive tannery. It processed skins by the ton for use across all ten city segments of Undrek'Thoz, and as with other manufactories, the guild held a sizeable share in the business, consuming a significant amount of their specialist produce too.
As to the guild itself, it was still a mystery to Jarek as to who was in charge or how it was run. He had spent thirty years in menial areas of other departments, but the displays in the main gallery were the only hint to the extent of the work they really carried out. Master Hriz'ax, the owner of Jarek's debt and lead researcher of the section, often cursed and spat at the political stupidity that bore down upon him from whomever was in charge, but he always ranted in impersonal ways, all too aware that the walls literally had ears.

The old Drow was of a curious nature, he was not one for posturing or asserting his position by sadism, he was the clinical sort, entirely logical and cold in a pragmatic way, his personal power quite understated. At times Jarek would find the old Illythiri a little more disturbing though. He would find unnecessary comforts in replacement parts for his environmental armor, or be given expensive educational books, even finding the slaves being allowed to rest freely for a few cycles. Then, and just as suddenly, he would work them all the harder as if he had come to his senses and resented what he had done.
Such changes would occur more often when his daughter, Lucasta, was around. She was quite an enigma to Jarek and the gaze of her mismatched eyes prickled his skin in a peculiar way. She would regularly disappear from Jenn'Yxir, or Undrek'Thoz entirely for extended periods. Yet she remained a recognised citizen in all due respects and rights. Given the supplies that would come and go with her, and the scars that would tell of travel through wild caverns, he assumed she was trading long distance for the guild.

Of the two other researchers who worked with Jarek, there was the organic engineer, Mal'qalin, a long standing journeyman to master Hriz'ax. Then the more junior alchemist, Zilvaagh.
Mal'qalin had become the public face of the department, with master Hriz'ax having receded entirely from public life. In their long partnership they had developed an uncommon degree of trust, and they were mutually guarded about their results, seeking to keep their secrets within their section of the department. His political links with both the Blackened Fist and the first house of Drezz'Lynur had brought prestige to the guild and this allowed that insular behaviour to remain unchecked. It also gave some relief from religious scrutiny which sat well with them, at least until Zilvaagh had been assigned.
The young alchemist was a conservative one with a driven ambition, being a well connected son of a Mezrylornyl priestess, his attitudes were quite normal for one so privileged. His apprenticeship had been imposed from those above in the guild and master Hriz'ax clearly had unspoken objections. The fact remained though, that Zilvaagh was a talented alchemist and there was much the need for just that.

Jarek could see the three of them working in the main laboratory ahead of the portal annex, but he turned toward an alcove to descend the stairs within. A squat golem gurgled there, its head a huge maw like that of a carnivorous plant, eyestalks extruded from the shoulders of its manifold, tenticular arms, peering at Jarek as he moved casually past. The steps spiraled round for twenty feet, through a pair of heavy bronze doors and onto a long passage lined with cells.
He stopped at the first of them, the largest and that which bore his name. The slaves were quiet in the others nearby and through the heavy doors at the end, the dungeons held experimental golems and the larger of the captive creatures.

His room was humid, a thin veil of steam hung in the air, wisping through small vents and laden with the earthy scent of burnt mushroom fibre. Releasing a series of small valves in his suit, the pressured water vapour hissed from within, spitting and then seeping as he began the slow process of removing his suit. Numerous fastenings and multiple layers of it, carefully withdrawing the cannulae that pierced his veins from valved tubes in the suit, then nasal and waste catheters, the ear cups, and finally the pressure sealed face mask and its attached lens complex. The freedom from it left him light-headed and he slumped into his chair, his scarred ebony skin glistening with a waxy sheen. His red and bloodshot eyes closed, his breathing laboured as it adjusted to having to work more for itself, it was good exercise for his under-developed lungs, or so said master Hriz'ax.

The master had not always been right though. The chemical scarring of his skin had not helped his condition, at least not in the long term. The moistened leather of his chair warmed slowly against his body and his skin, slightly translucent in the pear coloured light, eventually eased into it. His bed here was more of a bath, a foot deep with aerated water, the only space in which he felt more comfortable than within his conditioning suit.
It had been a failure of one such suit, though it was a much older model from sixty years before, and a flaw had persisted in the jointed underarm for quite a long time. When the condition became visible it had already been way too late, it had then been found throughout all his surface tissues. "An alchemical perversion!", master Hriz'ax had exclaimed and set about laboratising Jarek for months after that. "It's akin the scum on Aboleth thralls!" He had remarked as if it would somehow reassure. The excitement was typical for a novel find, but Jarek did not share it this time.
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Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:16 am

Re: Jarek - Male Drow - Fighter

Postby Gorirah Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:51 pm

In a civic sense, both the slum quarter of Mezrylornyl and the industrial east of Jenn'Yxir were antiquated places. They stood like islands with their distinct and centralized portals in what had been the traditional way before the renaissance, or possibly the madness, of the city architects.
The true heart of Undrek'Thoz bore a fluid disregard for any sense of direction and dimension, it was thus a staggering place for one as sheltered as Jarek. These capital buildings, their vaulted stone architecture rising in endless spires, were strewn throughout the ten segments, each of which had been city in its own right and separated by leagues from the others. Now, the streets were spanned by arching, seamless portals and only the faintest shimmer betrayed their presence ahead. In any direction one could be looking through many such spatial disjoints, one could pass through dozens without even knowing, but for subtle lurches that could leave a visitor motion sick.
One could walk in what seemed to be a straight line for ever, coming back to the same point multiple times and still seeing new sights ahead. The manifold intersections could lead off in so many directions as to mock real notions of space. Esheresque they would call it, named after one of the lead architects of the meta-city, a visionary, arcanist and adherent of the hallucinogenic Bluecap mushroom.

To make matters even more dizzying, it was a busy day on the capital streets of Undrek'Thoz, and Jarek was feeling motion sick after just a short ride. The road to the great arena of Drezz’Lynur was bustling with a veritable circus of creatures. Ilythiiri with quasits and mephits in tow, with chained Quaggoth or various trollkind, Duergar astride huge fighting lizards and ogres bearing Illithids in lazy sedan chairs. Colourful merchant stalls had come from the depths and from exotic locations elsewhere, Beholders, Stone Giant, even Efreet. Nearby, battle scarred Orcs stood in squads at bars, above them on balconies the Succubi vaunted their looks, and below, the yellow eyes of goblins peered from every street sewer grate.
But despite all this it was the train of carts from the Halls of the Hollow Warrior that was stealing attention. In great wheeled cages were the monstrous golems for the height of this year's games. From eight to twenty eight feet tall, oiled muscle and sinew for show. Slavering jaws or scythe-like claws, tentacles, tendrils, horns or spines, flesh oozing slime or suppurating sores, some polycephalus or exhaling clouds of black flies. Of animal or plant, all promethean art, animated and intoxicated into a primal rage.

Jarek rode on the second great cart, sat behind his master and their guild driver. The huge gates to the gladiatorial entrance were open to them and the noise of the crowd above was already in full swing. This was his third trip to the games and a rare reward for outstanding work. Again he would be expected to handle the golems and clean up in the wake of their toxic waste. His only view of the sport was from the gutter of the arena, but even from there it was truely a spectacle to be remembered.
As expected, and within the day, twenty of the most complicated and monstrous golems he had ever worked on were reduced to mangled parts and organic sludge. They had rampaged through waves of slave fighters, torn apart demons and some of the more accomplished gladiators, then they were finally overwhelmed during the chaotic mass fights that concluded the schedule.

Both Master Hriz'ax and Mal'qalin had been absent from their complimentary seats for most of the day and Jarek had barely seen them after arrival. Then, as Jarek had been loading the golem remains into the carts, Mal'qalin had appeared and informed Jarek that he should attend an urgent collection rather than return to the Guild with them. He was to go to the Brundag west gate and from there out to the old iron mine that also sourced a strangely dense metal ore which produced its own heat and a some kind of invisible poison. Jarek had no idea why they would want this collected, but he did not ask and was soon left behind by the carts of his masters.

Navigating through the streets of Undrek'Thoz alone could be a nightmare to any but a local, and it was just that to Jarek. To make it worse, creatures had escaped from the arena after their holding cells had been sabotaged by parties unknown. Vulture headed demons flew out amid screams, snatching and dropping spectators from height. A Nightwalker loped and herded by fear, driving small crowds into the path of frothing rabid Osquips. Packs of wights and maggoty ghasts snatched at the entrails of those overcome.
The Blackened Fist responded with numbers, and as ever they made for a display of their power. Sprays of automatic crossbow fire, then gouts of eldritch energies lit up the streets in purple hues. Torrents of firebrands and electrical arcs from zealous wizards high up in their in watchtowers. The streets reeked of ozone and burnt flesh, and through the smoke and disarray, their black clad monks swarmed in to subdue what was left.

That chaos in the late bells of the cycle, then the confusion and sickness of finding his way to the Brundag gate, had been more than enough for Jarek who was so used to his quiet and predictable routines. He fell into reverie in the cave outside those gates, where the caravans gathered and prepared for travel outbound.
Last edited by Gorirah on Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:16 am

Re: Jarek - Male Drow - Fighter

Postby Gorirah Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:08 am

The trade caravans leaving on the west trail Undrek'Thoz had a long journey ahead of them. The giant Osquips harnessed to them were entirely docile, unlike the fighting kind that had escaped in the city. The carts ran on leather clad wheels to reduce their noise and with jointed axles to soften the ride, but still it was far from silent or comfortable as the road became more wild and uneven.
An savage looking Drow shaman sat opposite Jarek, curved bones piercing his nose, cheeks, ears and throat, his skin smothered in tattooed runes and his old hide armour smelling very rural. It was odd to see one such as that, they were very seldom seen anywhere around the cities, and for one to be travelling on a trade caravan was every bit as odd. A silence hung between all on that cart and lasted until their second cycle of travel when Jarek asked how much further it was to the mine he sought.

The shaman had become interested in mention of the mine, going on to say that very few would work there now, if any at all. He explained that the miners had broken through into one end of a remote chasm, and that it was a place he knew. When at camp following the travel for that cycle, he had approached Jarek and the three others who had ridden in the same cart, speaking quietly of omens before telling them a short tale.
It was of a creature he called the Blue Man of Earthroot, that lived in a cavern from a passage in base of that chasm. It was no man, just humanoid, bipedal and winged with gnarled skin of midnight blue hue, like a thick bark with sharp ridges and spines. Just five feet tall with featureless eyes of grimy dark yellow, a slight black mist clung to its form and its tongue was a long curl of that same substance. Its cavern was filled with a sea of skulls, each steamed white and with an inch wide hole piercing the crown; the countless minds it had consumed besides the brain tissue. Every detail of those lives, every secret and skill they had learned now belonged to it. The creature was thus venerated as an oracle and from many around, it was given the tribute of yet more lives.

The shaman warned of the cannibal cult that appeased this creature, and of the miners who appeased the cult, saying it would not be safe to visit without a sacrifice of intelligent flesh. Jarek never had gotten the hang of reading the subtle signs of intent in others, and when the shaman then rose up in making incantation, he was too late to respond to the spell or the rush of screaming cultists which flooded into the caravan's camp.
Through a cycle of clouded senses, Jarek and the other three were aware of only glimpses of time. One merchant and three teamsters were paid and departed with their wagons, the other merchants, guards and travellers were then bound and carried away. Through a hazy narcotic smoke, he could hear the Shaman's voice directed at him and then at other three nearby. He felt there were things taking shape in that smoke, outlines of beings which drifted teasingly between strange forms, his head throbbed and he wanted to take reverie, but still saw them there despite closed eyelids. The caves would not be still, they lurched as if afloat on a stirring sea. The sounds of creaking funguswood, then of voices he did not know, finally he awoke on the back of a strange cart.

Jarek recognised none of it, the wagons, the guard, nor any of the passengers or goods. It would be near thirty cycles to Skullport and from the fragments of what he recalled the Shaman saying, he knew that his masters had paid for his passage, yet he had no idea of why. Regardless, the journey would be an opportunity to see much and the three wizards who headed the guard gave a degree of reassurance against the dangerous route.

They travelled the northern coast of the Glimmersea, by ferries or along stretches of the shore path, and even the vast caverns of the Earthroot did not come close to the enormity of that space. In places the water could spill from a mile above, carving out terraced lakes whose tiers rose in a chaotic maze of giant steps, waterfalls and moss slickened climbs. The expanse did not even feel enclosed, it was more of a sky with clouds of vapor adrift on the winds, and where they cleared were the starry lights of luminous plants so high that their forms could not be discerned. The black sheen of the water thus glimmered indeed, its waves so smooth and, lazily, they ebbed hypnotically.
The water drew on Jarek's will, luring him to take to its cool relief, but he remained fixed and silent as the cycles passed. The Merchants and guards busied all around, loading and unloading at each ferry stop, dealing by trade, toll or otherwise with frequent Sahuagin camps. They were the weaker of the kind, working the shores for their barons in the more spacious depths, but they were always to be appeased if the route were to be kept open as was.
From the western shores, the rivers of the Northdark finally gave access to more commonly travelled trade routes. Through Sshamath, where the caravans changed and then to the river tunnels again, to the Sargauth and Skullport itself.
Last edited by Gorirah on Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:16 am

Re: Jarek - Male Drow - Fighter

Postby Gorirah Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:46 pm

The streets of Skullport had their similarities to those of Mezrylornyl. The old buildings layered high with numerous walkways crossing every alley and street space, the crowding and the dim glow of leaf, vine or fungus growing from every break in the architecture. Aside from that it had felt wholly alien to Jarek, having lived such a contained life for over a century. It had felt as if the leash of servitude was still upon his collar, metaphorical though it had been in Jenn'Yxir, and like he would only need walk through a nearby door to find himself back in his old laboratory.

The feeling had taken quite some time to subside, even with the more driven pace of life in Skullport. The diversity of the city's inhabitants and their strange attitudes, the volume of foreign trade and transitory folk, the absence of religious weight in the air too, it was all a strangely liberating experience, even if he did still wait upon the instruction of his old master. The expectation that word would come from him was something he had not questioned as thirty cycles passed, then thirty more after Lucasta had arrived, yet still no word from her absent father. His indenturement would be defaulted in inheritance to her, if the situation didn't change in seventy more. Not that it was necessarily a bad thing.

It had been a similarly long time since Jarek last had the comfort of his bath. Twice he had secretively been to the shores of Skullport docks and found a quiet spot to swim freely a while, but its polluted waters he had found so far had been of limited relief. It had been a score of cycles too since he ran out of master Hriz'ax's skin balm, the first time in sixty years, and oddly the lack of it had made no difference to his skin whatsoever.
Restless, somewhat irritable at times and with his eyes ever more open to the world, cracks had started to appear in his pliant attitude. The host of new perspectives from all the folk around; they pulled and twisted feelings that had been somehow absent since he was a child, yet now those sentiments had grown into a rooted resentment of past ways. The research work was a part of him, a true calling, but all that had stifled it, the bureaucracy, the political and religious baggage, the plain acceptance of it had been fast eroding.

"Prattling berk!" he spat the words out, simmering with anger and rudely turning his back on a conversation with one he would have once considered his better. They could have been words out of the mouth of master Hriz'ax and they felt strangely warm. He felt he understood his old master so much better somehow, his cynical, opinionated and pedantic way, as if it had long been hidden within and had only just broken free. His mind throbbed with new awareness and unbottled resentment. Had anger not been consuming his attention, this new awareness would have alarmed him and he may have sensed the other mind that was there within his own.
Thoughts bubbled up uncontrollably of people he felt he should know, he felt driving urges for things he was sure he had forgotten. His stomach lurched under an increasing sensation of detachment, then confusion began to leech energy from what had been anger. His limbs felt fatigued, or maybe he was just losing control of them? Increasingly lightheaded and sick, he lurched along the road toward the docks, not knowing why he needed to retreat to the river water.

Caught amid rocks of a wide stream, he came to consciousness again. The stream flowed slowly through a broad and unfamiliar cavern, the water only a few feet deep and icy cold. Soft lights of indigo hues came from small patches of luminous moss, they clung tight to the bases of frozen stalagmites, their glow casting a sheen on the crystal clear ice. The cave dripped from all around, offering pure notes that stood out from the white noise of distant rapids.
His body ached and the taste of dried blood was thick inside his mouth, his leather armour was waterlogged and badly torn, loose tubes trailed downstream to long stains of alchemical spills. The water moving over his exposed and bloody skin felt odd, like it lacked weight and felt more like a stream of cold air. As he tried to move, testing his limbs for breaks, he found the bed of the stream to be ice and so slick that no grip could be gained. Unnervingly he could feel the touch of what seemed to be worms in the water, hundreds of them wriggling in through holes in his armour, then trailing over his flesh and making off with all the warmth he shed.
Clutching at some such worms, he watched as they flowed between his palm and fingers, their watery bodies splitting and merging, defying any attempt to be held. Tiny elementals of some kind he had never seen before, the stream was alive with them. He rolled and slid toward the nearer bank, finally dragging himself out of the flow.

The cavern appeared to be natural and its air was completely still. It didn't bear the slightest scent, and though cold, it yet held an good measure of vapour. His mind felt equally still. He could recall a presence having been with him and there was still an imprint from its form in his thoughts, but whatever it was had gone now, or maybe lay dormantly. As the watery worms fell away and drained back into the stream, his skin began to feel at one with the chill, moist air, and his concerns slowly melted into mere curiosity.
Having peeled the remains of his armor away, he walked carefully across the rock, the moss and the ice, around the small pools that covered the floor. It was further downstream, where large white fungi had grown, that he found a small camp. A shrine was there; of glistening smooth limestone that bore a silken flow of water, clinging to its every contour and flowing into an oval pool. Edged by runed sections calcite crystal and mortared by ice, it was clearly made by hand, and there beside it a corpse lay shrivelled and dry, preserved by the pristine air of the cave.

It was clearly Ilythiiri, but with no signs of decay there was no indication of how long it had lain there. The camp was well established, a soft bed of porous fabric, crates of supplies, a few barrels and vats, low workbenches bearing heavily bound books, and tools and materials for eerily familiar work. Then, in a pile of belongings beside the bed, a suit of leathers so similar to his own that a shiver ran up his spine.
That shiver spread into a tingling realisation that there was more he did not know about his masters. Time slipped by him as he stood in contemplation, slowly examining each tool, each bottle and vial, the cured skins on racks and the heavy bound books in covered crates. Absorbed in all this, he had found a book under a table, but then had noticed the legs of creatures facing his way. He reared up in shock, overturning the table and coming face to face with three very odd Ilythiiri.

Their dark, waxy skin beaded with clear water immediately gripped his attention. Their hairless heads, their lack of external ears, their eyes of pure crimson, subtle flaps of skin rising up the sides of their necks, their hands and feet oddly broadened and with partial webbing between the digits. Silently, they regarded Jarek, and silently Jarek regarded them.

"You will serve, in his stead." The center figure finally spoke slowly, his hand gesturing toward the corpse. The words came softly and Jarek was unsure whether they had been borne on the air or simply in his mind.
"Mal'qalin is with us. He rests." The left figure then spoke, his voice as starnge as the first.
"Take that book with you." The figure on the right spoke in unison with the one on the left.

They fell into silence again, watching Jarek as he picked up the book and stepped back from the clutter spilled from the table.
"Who are you?" Jarek finally enquired, looking at each of the three in turn.

"You will come to know" One spoke, and they turned together, walking back into the deep pool nearby.

It was three full cycles before Jarek found his way back to the river, and then upstream to Skullport. It had been time in which to reflect on what he had happened, what he had seen, and on the content of the book he'd taken. The book was mostly on alchemical subjects, but laced through it were terms of the primordials and sections of their old religious rites that drifted into divine incantations.
It became quite apparent that what had happened to him, that which had affected his health so markedly, had not been an accident after all. Absorbed in reading when he camped at the end of that cycle, Jarek had found chill fluid exuding from his touch, and yet more would come as he examined and willed it to come. It was perfectly clear, had no taste, and flicking it from his fingers, it spattered and froze into shards of ice upon hitting the rock.
There was again a feeling of a presence with him, though not as it had been before. This time it was not inside him, or trying to control, more presence flowing around him and not one at odds with his will.
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:16 am

Re: Jarek - Male Drow - Fighter

Postby Gorirah Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:31 pm

Hriz'ax knew he had died. It was still the staggering experience that it had been the first time, and each time it had taken longer to emerge from than the last. This was now his eighth and his ego was so weary from it all that it could not reach out to know the new host body. It could not even feel any but his most scarred of memories.
It was a nightmare, a private Hell, deprived of all outward senses and no memory but for his dying hours and knowing he had been here before. There was no space, only sickening time, and no feeling but for the pressure that crushed his will. Overwhelmed, terrified and completely alone, he balled himself embryonically and quivered those months away.

In times of quiet contemplation, Jarek was aware of an eerie apprehension within. He quested toward the feeling, probing for cause, but this nucleus of fear gave nothing away. It stemmed from something he was sure he had forgotten, something for which he had an inexplicable need. It merely prickled at first, interrupting his thoughts. Then it weighed upon his reverie, and as ever more cycles passed, it drew out dark memories and long lost dreams.
He had dug deep beneath the vaulted catacombs that bore the towering architectural splendour of his race. There he had seen the web of lies upon which it was all built, the silken strands that carried the weight of what were now aeonic stones. Between these threads was nothing but void, and the laughter of a maddening hue. He had walked upon the surface lands and seen the terrible sun. He had damned himself with heresy, seen the falsity of his own hate, he had fallen to the most insidious poison of all.

Yet these things could not have been; by all fair reasoning they were a life apart from what he had known. His mind reeled, he could feel the plurality within him and he could not deny it. It had supposedly been the magic and medication of master Hriz'ax that had banished the personae of Vr'ezech and Hacthzin from his mind sixty years ago. Jarek had always suspected those two brothers of his had just been killed and that he had been sane all along, but now the awareness of the plurality was casting a new shadow.
If it were true that his mind had been split, had master Hriz'ax been a part of him all along? Was Lucasta his daughter and child of that poison, or just another shard of a shattered mind? What of Mal'qalin and the strange Ilythiiri? The more he considered it, the more the implications twisted to paradoxical forms. Maybe this was a new madness, the price of seeing the webs in the void?

Sat upon his usual stone bench in the lower trade quarter of Skullport, Jarek snapped out of his reverie. He had woken to uncomfortable pressures within his suit and, still shaken by his contemplation, he shot suspicious glances around the street. He opened his waste valves and white vapours spewed from his leathers, hissing as he stretched back against the low wall that backed the bench. Tensing his body, he took up some discipline, forcing back that capsule of terrible realisation into the shadows of his mind. Then finally, he stood stiffly and moved toward the halls of the craft guild.

In the laboratory, and despite his efforts, the cauldron of his mind would not be still. A smell reminiscent of the Shaman's encrusted dreadlocks seeped from the alembic before him, the strange tongue he had used was there in bubbling, babbling fluids. It was a chant and its flow was without end, at first it was the cadence that compelled him to follow, but then he felt its meaning float free of the words themselves.
The caverns which had been shaped by the echoes of her pain, and then had rung with her cackling insane; they were taken to silence by the tide, and it could not be denied, that without her raiment of a thousand time her size, she was but a spider in an ocean without end. Yet her pain remained and suffering being pearls of the sea, she was due all regard as the mother among those pearls.

The flasks on the bench were cold and dry and there was little other trace of how much time had passed. He had drifted, submerged in thought once again, and had ruined a batch of fine essences. The words of the primordial incantation lay plainly upon the page of the book he did not recall opening, their meaning now clear despite being foreign before. The laboratory was silent but for the sleeping guard and the drips of a leaky cistern; a little of the captured Sargauth that would not be contained.

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