Dealthagar/i deserve this

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"I Deserve This."

"I deserve this. No punishment will ever equal my crime." The thoughts fluttered through Sularis' mind as he faded in and out of conciousness. "Nothing will ever wash the stain of my sin from my soul."

Sularis howled in pain as small mechanical arms jabbed a dozen needles into him, some all the way to the bone. There was a rumble and the rubber tubes connected to the needles filled with a yellow goo, injecting him with the viscous fluid. He may have been suspended in a tank of the cool green aqua vitae, but the injected vitriol made him feel as if he were on fire.

His mind retreating from the agony, his mind raced to his last refuge, the last day before the pain began, the last day of his mortality.

"I deserve this."

--- --- ---

As the youngest of the party, it was his job to find food and shelter, while the eldre knight tracked the were-beast, and the middle man kept overwatch. Thus was the way of the Knights of Branithar, and why they tracked the beasts in threes.

They had been tracking the beast for almost a month. The elders of the village of Oaken Valley had sent a summons after two attacks on thier flocks had killed three men and a score of sheep. One of the boys had been bitten, and the knights had been forced to kill him when the change was upon him.

The shifter was wiley, using his human form to blend in and throw off the trail, but Morgus was second to none as a tracker, and the beast-man had been forced to hide in a swamp. The moon would be full tonight, and he would not be able to hide himself.

The gypsy woman and her child were odd, chosing to live deep in no-man's land. Sularis assumed they were refugees from the constant border wars to the north. Even so, the woman had a clean place for them to sleep, warm food, fresh water and was adept at gathering herbs, allowing them to restock.

A shock of pain, like a bolt of lightning down his spine tore Sularis from his reverie. Dealthagar had added the dissolution fluid made of aqua fortis, natron and triturated arcane gems to the aqua vitae. He watched in horror as the vitriol and the dissolution fluid ate through his flesh, liquifying it as the two compounds did all they could to mix together. It was as if the two solutions had a rudimentary intellegence to them.

The small golden arms wen to work again, sawing his leg bones away, drilling holes in his spine and shoulders, and attacking with golden wire, bolts and hasps new sets of bones. He lost consciousness again as the hungry solution tore his face and eyes away.

"I deserve this."

--- --- ---

Sularis' silver headed spear ran the beast through as the three knights forced the creature out into the open. Fighting in the trees limited how useful the knights weapons were, and how freely they could swing. In the open, the beast had no cover, no defensable position and no way to go. The shifters claws had taken the left half of Morgus' face; mingled blood and vitreous humour from his burst eye caked in his mustache and beard. He would live, and the loss of the eye would act as a badge of honor in the order. Raeleigh would not survive the next day, but he would see the fight through. The beast had disemboweled him, and Sularis was amazed to see the man still able to fight.

Their confidence for fighting in the open proved to be false. In the open, the beast was just as formidable, if not moreso. The metal plate had kept the beast's fangs from infecting Morgus with a bite, but the strength of his jaws had still deformed the armguard, shattering the elder knight's forearm. Raeleigh's bleeding, if possible, had worsened, and the knight barely had the strength to lift his axe as the fight wore on. Sularis' youth allowed him to keep free from the shifter's deadly claws and maw, and the burns from the spear strikes kept the beast from fleeing, but if he lost his brothers, he did not believe he had the ability to take the beast down on his own.

The beast was ancient, and knew it's own strengths and weaknesses well enough to play to both. A meaty backhand sent Sularis sprawling, and as the creature tensed to pounce, the young knight knew his fate was sealed.

Suddenly, the ground erupted as dozens of warriors burst from the boggy soil. At first, Sularis wandered if they were bounty hunters, lying in wait for the beast. As they tore at the beast, he realized, they wore the armor and uniforms of solders and wars long past. Those that had flesh were mummified by the peat of the swamp or were half eaten by the worms and insects of thier boggy graves.

And there, at the edge of the clearing, in front of the ramshackle home stood the boy. No more than ten summers, but probably far less, his eyes glowed with hellish black light, and his hands wove intricate patterns in the air, red and black sigils forming as he manipulated the weave. The mother's oddness was explained. In helping the knights destroy one abomination, she sought to hide another.

--- --- ---

"I deserve this."

--- --- ---

As the beast fell, torn to bits by the undead warriors, Sularis lifted his spear, leveled it at the child and charged. "Necromancer!" Fatigue from fighting, the weight of his own armor and momentum of his run carried him, even as the mother stepped between the knight and her child. Morgus has followed, and when Sularis' spear pierced her through the spine, just below the shoulderblades, her weight as she collapsed, forced the tip down. The two knights crashed clumbsily and the spear stuck into the ground. As they rose, Sularis noticed the child was under his mother. The fish like gasps and blood from his mouth tild the knight the boy had taken the spear through the belly, and probably pierced a lung as well. He would be dead in seconds, and they would have two kills to report to the Order. A good hunt for the forces of The Light.

It was not to be.

There was an explosion of blackness, death, decay and consumption and Sularis felt himself torn free from the shackles of flesh. In an instant he was dead, but yet somehow, alive. Cowed like a slave, the essence of the dead child, now fully formed as an agent of Oblivion raged at him.

"We showed you kindness. We showed you compassion. We showed you trust. This is how "noble knights" repay debts? You have slain the only person that I have cared for, after we helped you! This is the goodness of virtue? I shall remember this lesson you have taught me. I shall remember it always! As shall you!"

In that moment, Sularis realized his life's goal was nothing but lies. Those he hunted, those he killed, had they truly done anything wrong? He had murdered women, children, innocents, out of devotion to saving them from the plague of darkness. The child and his mother had helped him, shown kindness when not needed. The boy had used his magics to save thier lives. The blood on his hands would never wash away, his sins would never be redeemed. No amount of punishment or suffering would make up for the evil he had done in the name of good. He truly was worthy of the name "Sularis the Damned".

--- --- ---

Unconsciousness faded to the realm of the living, as the pain came and went in small waves. Ochre gelatonous globs floated in the aqua vitae, forming and congealing on his bones, like barnacles on a sunken pillar. The skin that had formed was red and leathery. His fingers ended in talons. Looking through the semi-opaque fluid and glass, he could see the remains of a gargoyle vivisected on the workbench, most of the flesh gone, legs, wings and tail amputated.

Sularis had enticed the refugee to come to Umbra, with the promise of a good paying job as a laborer. As he felt his new wings and tail strain and move with newly grown muscles, Sularis began to understand the nature of the job Dealthagar had in mind. Like all of the other tools and resources at the technomancer's command, flesh was just another thing to be manipulated.

The harness released, and the tank drained quickly. Sularis struggled to his feet, still adjusting to the new additions to his frame. As the door opened, a towel was tossed to his feet.

"Get cleaned up and dressed. There are pressing matters that I need to attend to." Dealthagar pointed at the Gargish corpse. "And dispose of this."

Sularis nodded slowly. "Yes master." Sularis' eyes quickly diverted to the floor when the Technomancer's eyeless face turned back to the former knight. Dealthagar only smiled when pleased with himself, so the wide grin was disconcerting."

"Are you displeased with the handiwork?"

"No, master." Sularis picked up the towel and began wiping himself off. Once Dealthagar left, he would clean himself properly. "I look like I had been born as one of them."

Dealthagar nodded. "I incorporates some of his brain fluids as well. You should have a working knowledge of thier language, society and history from the perspective of your 'host'." Dealthagar waved his hand at the evicerated remains. "The drones have begun installing a soulforge. You will study the art. I have use of it."

"Yes master."

Dealthagar swept from the room, leaving Sularis in the darkened laboratory alone. He fell to the floor and wept. He was a tool, a resource, a slave. He existed to serve the Technomancer Primus of Sosaria, a painful penance for the sins of his life.

"I deserve this."

Original Post Date: Tue Oct 06, 2009

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