|Imperium, Unknown location|
|From: Shortly after being Captured||To: 23, Maloch 1589|
|Sareth’s Journal||Beldin’s Journal||Mesinplas’s Journal||Graham’s Journal||Mai-Khai’s Journal||Cherry’s Journal||Ill-Dal’s Journal|
She was sleeping, that much she was sure of, but her surroundings were so real that it was hard to keep that in mind. The grand hall she was in was ostentatious. All the statues were gilded and the chandeliers were what she could tell were blood rubies and star diamonds. The table itself was sable-wood with a chilling carved inlay highlighted with a ruby/garnet dust mix in order to give the appearance that the table was bleeding. Despight the light in the room, shadows and darkness lurked in the area. Its center piece was a gristly collage of a dragon’s head with other heads impaled on the teeth and horns.
A dread worked through her when she saw this, but she felt compelled to look closer. Sure enough it was the exact piece that she herself had put together years ago, in another nightmare. The second she made this realization prompted Corax’s persistent head to start some incomprehensible chattering.
She turned, trying to avoid the reflexive instinct to wretch.
“Welcome home, my jewel.” The calm ringing of the teenor voice stirred memories she had dealt with not but five years ago. This cant be was she dead, no this was not death, could not be death, it was to contrived.
Continuing the turn with a sudden backhand, she slapped the entity that had decided to take the one face she had wanted to see smile at her again. Instead of a smile a menacing grin adorned the beloved face, beliing the truth.
“You are not to show yourself to me in that guise. In fact,while you are in my mind things will be as I want them and you will not wear any face that I hold close to my heart.” As she talked, the surroundings wavered and shifted around them slowly fading to a more modest dining setting.
As she finished the entity’s form shifted to that of an Adonis.
“You win this first round, but really, I would like to talk.” He gestured and the chair next to her slid out. He took one at the head of the table.
Eyeing him warily, she sat.
“What would you have to say to me? I am just a slave for you.”
“I am curious is all. You seem to already possess a connection of sorts. There is some debate as to whether or not it should be severed.” The voice was as smooth as Honey-Velvet Pudding and almost as rich.
“I wouldn’t suggest trying, unless your intention is murder. Even the magistrates back home haven’t figured out how to do it. They’ve been working on it for about five years now.”
He smiled at her. It would have been charming, if not for the razor sharp points all the teeth terminated with.
“Oh it already was, nasty fit of convulsions there sweetie. Luckily it shouldn’t have any long lasting effects. Once the priests determined that it would be detrimental they terminated all efforts. Unfortunately, you will be feeling ill effects for quite some time.”
That explained why she felt so dizzy and nauseous.
“I see. So you are to keep me half blind and numb then for my captivity. Seems to me that is too much effort for one who is less than a speck of dust to be brushed away. You seem to have more than enough charges that should need more guidance.” She sipped lightly on a glass of water that had been sitting in front of her.
He Steepled his fingers and leaned forward, looking for all the world a child at a bards tail.
“Maybe if you told me the story of how it came about? It would help if we could determine what you are bonded to. Wouldn’t do for a fledgling in the light to come with an attached demon, would it?”
Sareth raised an eyebrow and nearly snarked the sip she had just taken. A demon, that might be a spot bit more interesting than Beldin. Then she laughed, surprising the creature.
“It takes one to know one right?” she caught the quick flash of anger in its eyes.
“No matter. My only issue with it, is that you will use this information to help sever it. So I will have to decline for the moment, once I know that I can trust you…and only you the information, then we’ll talk further on the subject.”
She rose gesturing for him to do the same. She escorted him to the door.
“Please do not let yourself in like that again.” She closed the door on his heels as he exitted. She barred it quickly and proceeded to lock it in any way she had handy. It would be under her terms next time.
She went from there to check the door that separated her and Beldin. It was barred in locks not of her making. The fact it was closed at all was a new development. She smiled to herself, there was one secret that they hadn’t discovered about the door. That one crack that couldn’t ever quite be sealed. It was small, Just large enough for a single sheet of parchment to slide through. She would have to spend time later writing messages to him. For now, knowing that the spot was not gone was the biggest relief to her.
She finally came too. It was hard to tell how long she had been out, but she assumed that it had been quite some time. Even so, the edges of her vision were still blurry; and she couldn’t understand a word of what was being said. She sat up and groaned with a hand to her spinning head.
“I told you she was stirring.“
“She must have been communing with her heathen gods.” The second mocked.
“Do you think we should allow her to rest a little more?” The first smirked.
“Not a chance, and for suggesting it you can escort her to the class.” Number two scowled at the first.
“As you say.” came the bland reply. The first turned toward Sareth and changed to fluent Nuelm.
“Come, class awaits.” She aided Sareth to her feet and touched her just enough to help the ailing elf keep her balance. Sareth was led down a pristine white hall to a classroom. There were no chairs and it was packed to the point where no one could move. She fought a wave of nausea as she was unceremoniously shoved into the room. The door was slammed and barred behind her.
“Welcome, this shall be your initial lesson in your new life as a member of the greatest nation in the world.” A voice boomed from above and in front of her.
“As Imperium Citizens you will be expected to learn the value of good hard work, not subjugated by arcane magic. Every day tasks will become as they where ment to be. You will lay yor self every night with a sense of completion that comes not from knowing you have cheated the world with arcane power, but with your own hands. You will awaken every morning knowing that your tasks will be completed by you and your hands. You will live from the bounty of your and your fellows work, natural plants and animals not tainted by magical summoning. You will learn a language devoid of tainted magic words and ideas. Curtisy will be taught to you, for when we all are working without magic we are all equal. You will initialy work besides those like yourselves, but with time you will work among first the initiates and hopfulls into the prator order and eventualy with the other citizens of the imperium. Doining well here will lead to a Praetor choosing to mentor you further. On the sixth day of every week you will attend services, learning how your heathen gods have imprisoned you over the centuries. You will learn of the light that is the Radiance, the blessings of the greater knowledge that his light brings. And the truth that belies the intentions of these so called gods. Think not yourselves as prisoners but as liberated, liberated from opressive ideas that utilize arcane magic, liberated from the spying that your own goverments did, liberated from the tyranical rule of those whom have sold more of their soules to the shadow beings. May the Radiance see fit to accept you after penance.” With that there was a rustle of robes and the room was pitched into darkened silence. More than one person cried out in terror. It wasn’t long before the room lighted again and Sareth saw who would become her second most loathed person on the plane. The Grand Shepherd Serge Molcavich.
“You are prisoners of war. You will remain here until such a time as you are necessary to our effort. In that time you shall become true children of the Light, no matter how misbegotten you are.” Her eyes lit on Sareth as she said this last boring into the elf causing an involuntary shudder to course through her. The young mage next to her caught this and placed a concerned hand on her arm. She patted it to say thanks and to indicate that she was alright.
Evidently the interaction was noticed by the Grand Shepard, She smiled.
“Some of you will resist our efforts to show you the truth of the light. You will be dealt with accordingly. But first things first, you must learn the language of the Children of the Light. From here on out you are forbidden to speak in your native tongue. In light of this you will be assigned someone to teach you the proper language.” She gave an unseen signal and the room was again pitched into darkness.
The hand on her arm tightened. Apparently this young one was afraid of the dark. She covered his hand in comfort, then leaned to whisper in his ear.
“Be at ease, it is all a part of the show. I am Sareth.”
She caught his quick intake of breath.
She nodded her head, realizing after she did so that this human would not see the gesture.
” “Thank you for your concern. Sorry we didn’t meet under better circumstances.” She pulled back from the short range necessary for the covert talk. She did not pull far enough away to retract her comforting though.
The group was left there for an indeterminate amount of time. That is until the bells rang. They had all heard the bells calling various religions to their varying ceremonies across Nuelm, but these were different. Instead of sounding like an invitation, it was more like a demanding summons. It was at this time that the light came back into the room.
With it came the most imposing looking priest Sareth had ever seen. She couldn’t make out much but his face. It was apparent that he didn’t spend too much time outdoors during the day, his olive skin was as pale as it could get without being sickly. Narrow eyebrows arched over slitted, intense green eyes. A hawk like nose perched over a mouth so small one would swear that lemons were a main staple of his diet. The voice that emanated from that mouth was quiet and authoritive, somehow finding its way all through the room. All else was covered by robes and accessories, including his hair.
As he scanned the room he noted that a few had managed to find enough room to go to their knees in proper supplication. But a majority still stood, he sighed. It was always such with the newly cropped ones.
“Your heathen ways betray you all. Please kneel so that we may begin devotions.” Sareth did as asked, gently pulling Dominic next to her. Somehow the rest of the room found their way to the floor in the cramped space. One or two swear words were discernable as fingers were stepped on or otherwise unintentionally accosted.
The priest could be seen shaking his head in exasperation, then he began. Sareth could not understand the words. He was obviously speaking Imperium, but she could tell that he was repeating himself. Some of the others joined in. Ahh apparently they were expected to mindlessly drone something that the majority of them had no clue as to its words. Sareth pretended to drone along.
It went on like this for several days. They were fed a thin gruel and left to sleep in kneeling position from one devotion to the next. She heard some of the others muttering the rites even once they official time was over, as if they thought that having them memorized would aid in getting them out of this dark cell any faster.
When the day finally came to let them go, the light was blinding. Each person was blinded so badly that nearly all of the prisoners yelled with pain. While they were busy shading their eyes, each felt someone take their free hand to be led out into the light. Sareth was jerked to her feet without warning. Her knees protesting being taken from the position they had grown accustomed to. She was ushered to a small room with another in residence.
A gnome was perched on a tall stool in front of a slate board. He had a bald pate; his nose had the look of having been broken one too many times; he was dressed in clothing typical of other slaves here. Judging by the condition of this cloathing he held a higher rank among them. His face gave the impression of great irritation, his voice heralded the emotion to give no doubts.
“Light Help me, another one!” He rolled his eyes and switched to Nuelm.
“This is where you will eat and sleep until I deem that you have a sufficient command of the language of light. You are not allowed to use this infernal tongue in any way to communicate with any one. If it appears that you are struggling with a concept I will address you in this tongue in a fashion that you need not speak. A nod will suffice. Let us begin.”
The days drug on; pauses came in the form of devotions, catnaps, and the occasional tasteless meal of gruel. Other than the catnaps she and her tutor were at it day and night. It was after several tongue lashings for slipping and asking a question, that she finally was able to get what she wanted to say parsed out.
“Is there anything I can do here to make the days more tolerable?” she yawned. She was rewarded with a smile.
“In short order you will be given an assignment to one task or another. It is also a part of my duty to determine your qualifications.” He gestured for her to lay on the pallet in the corner.
“In the mean time get some rest. I’ll have more ready for you after next devotions.” He climbed off his stool and left through his hidden door in the back. Sareth was already asleep by the time his feet had hit the floor.