Amaryllis is a woman of guiles and wit, but not wholly set in any range of the moral scale. Born a slave in Athart, after a series of events to escape her status as a slave, she was found by the Skarr Kol who subsequently trained her in the arts of Becoming. And though she grew to be a proficient agent for the faction, she was filled with raw ambition. This ambition led her to the footsteps of other magical disciplines, seeking the true path of apotheosis. Her unfortunate meeting with the Immortal Faldrun, however, caused an irreparable rift in her psyche. After the harrowing encounter, Amaryllis was found she was pregnant with child, and despite the trauma, her reliance on logic and ambition led her to keep the pregnancy. After nine months, a son was born, and Amaryllis, after traveling back to the burning sands of Nashaki, gave up the infant boy to the Skarr Kol order, and subsequently vanished.
Amaryllis was exceptionally tall, standing at an even 5'10". Due to decades of extensive training under the Skarr Kol, her body was toned and shaped in subtle musculature, yet her "womanly" curves were anything but lacking. Amaryllis' hair was always kept relatively long when she returned to her natural shape; her hair thick and cascading down her back in ebony waves. While some men would have found her beautiful, there was a predatory look to her sharp and angular features that begged an air of mystery and inexplicable danger.
Personality: Amaryllis was an enigmatic woman. She was wholly dedicated to her work and the Skarr Kol, but at the same time was capable of remorseless killing should the situation require it. While she tolerated many vices and even engaged in several, herself, she despised slavery and the systems in place that allowed it to happen. Her life was led in the pursuit of knowledge, power and the mysteries of the arcane.
A Predatory Appeal
The clouds remained overcast that night. In hindsight, Amaryllis should have seen it as an omen, but as a woman raised under the shadow’s dim, she’d grown accustomed to the embrace of darkness, and the protection it offered. The emerald sea, glistening under the scattered light of the twin moons lapped against the hull of the ship. Five other men were on board, aside for herself and the captain, Rojan, whom she’d known for nearly a decade; a man she’d dared call a friend.
For seasons she’d traveled beyond the burning lands of Nashaki, in search of what she couldn’t rightly guess. Ambition, power, knowledge, secrets, things that she could harness for a means to an end. An end of war, slavery, ineptitude. Perhaps her lives led in the faces and bodies of others had affected her judgment; but in the end, the sorcerer could hardly distinguish herself from the people she often embodied. And so she wandered, until she came upon Rojan, who asked of her a favor she had no real reason to refuse. A smuggling mission from Scalvoris to the gates of Ne’Haer, or so she was told. What was most important in the moment, of course, as the ship rocked lazily on the waves, was the heavy tankard of ale in her hands.
“Careful with that, Lily, wouldn’t want you so drunk you’re falling over the railing.” Rojan’s smirk was carried on the wind as he settled himself beside her. Though her lungs were saturated with the salty scent of the sea, she knew he was likely smothered in his favorite brand of cologne. Woodsy. But though she felt at ease in the presence of Rojan, there was still an unnerving feeling in the back of her mind.
For now, she set those thoughts aside. Amaryllis chuckled at his words and raised the tankard to her lips, taking another sip. “I thought we were headed to Ne’haer. Is there a reason for the detour?”
“Supplies,” the captain rolled his shoulder. “The journey’ll be rough, it’s best to plan ahead in case the proverbial ‘shit’ hits the fan, eh?”
“Mm, right,” she stared down at the rolling waves, inhaling deeply. “Listen, Rojan, I--”
Shouts and yells tore through the ship, and whatever words she’d meant to speak died on her tongue. A young woman, half starved and sparsely dressed, scrambled onto the decks, followed by two of the deckhands who hauled her from the wooden floor she’d fallen on. Her protests were met with the men’s fists, until Rojan raised a hand, his face steeled in response to Amaryllis’ more than shocked look of disdain.
“Get her below decks. Now,” He barked at the men.
“Is she a slave?” She demanded, her words cutting through the roar of the ocean like a knife. “What in the god’s hell is happening here, Rojan?”
“I’ll explain later, Amaryllis--”
“You told me we were smuggling narcotics,” the sorcerer interjected with a scathing look of her own. The Becomer scoffed incredulously and shoved the men holding the whimpering woman aside, taking her by the arm in a grip that would have left a bruise. “Are you a slave?” She demanded.
The woman nodded meekly. Amaryllis felt something in her gut that she had not felt in a long time; a fury that boiled in her blood like the white hot magma of a forge. This was something that cut deep. As a former slave who rose from the ashes of cruel masters, aiding in such a fashion was like a puncture wound to her hollow heart.
“Are there more of you?” Another nod and a morbid smile danced on her lips. “Show me.”
“Amaryllis, wait--” Rojan called.
They stepped below decks, where a commotion had caused a mess in the brig, but the woman maneuvered her way hastily, and the sorcerer followed. Through a stack of empty barrels was a doorway, leading into a smaller brig whose door was left ajar, and inside was a crowd of bodies linked together with chains and ropes.
Slaves. Amaryllis stood at the door, gazing at the gaunt faces who looked back at her with eyes as lifeless and sombre as a doll’s. Though her body felt the tremble of emotion, her outward expression remained placid, save for her hands squeezed tightly into fists. Behind her, heavy footsteps of multiple men approached.
“Why are these slaves here, Rojan?” She turned to look at him. Her voice was low, almost predatory.
“I think you know by now why they’re here,” the captain answered with a heavy sigh. “I had hoped to have made this a quick and easy arrangement. A ‘need to know’ basis, if you will.”
“I don’t deal with slavers, you know that.”
“And you won’t. It’ll be between me and them, you’re just here for--”
“You made me a part of your fucking games, Rojan. You’re better than this. You never dipped into this… this depravity before now.” The heavy emotion was laid behind sharp words as man and woman stared each other down.
“Sometimes, we have to broker deals to keep us afloat, Amaryllis,” he said slowly. The sorcerer stared at him until a streak of morbid laughter left her lips.
“You can’t be serious. You’re no slaver. Take the ship to shore, I’m setting these wretches free.”
“I can’t let you do that, Lily.”
The captain’s tone forced a look from the sorceror. Her jaw was clenched tight.
“Turn the ship around, Rojan,” she said again.
He shook his head, his hand fingering the blade at his hilt, the two deckhands beside him already armed. “I’m not going to let your silly dramatism ruin my future. The slaves stay, and you--”
The dagger flew across the space between them in the span of seconds, and sunk into the captain’s throat. It had felt like a call to arms; an instinctual urge that arose in her limbs and culminated into an abrupt and explosive reaction that left her watching her long-time friend and one time lover… dying as he choked on his own blood.
And in that moment, she hadn’t regretted it.
The deckhands spurred into action at the site of their captain’s fall, weapons brandished with loud yells that sent the slaves in a panic, though chained as they were, they had no where to go. Amaryllis withdrew her sword from its scabbard and engaged the men with a combination of physical and magical prowess. And though they ultimately fell to her blades and magic, they left deep gashes that left her breathless. And yet more men came, and they too, she fought off, until the heavy exhaustion began to weigh her steps down until she fell to one knee, clutching the gaping wound at her side.
But before one of the crew’s men could bury the axe into her shoulder, his body seized and ignited from within like the spark of an ember. With a blood curdling scream his flesh was turned to ash, leaving a pile of disintegrated bone in his wake. A man stepped beyond the cindered ashes, muscular and tall, and sporting nothing but loose fitting pants and a handful of jewelry. But what caught Amaryllis’ eye was the stranger’s startling red hair and the radiating heat that seemed to distort the air around him.
There was no way he had been on the ship… A stowaway? And yet there was something about him that whispered of a dread she’d never felt before.
“Who are you?” She whispered almost inaudibly.
“I think you know who I am, Amaryllis.” His smile was predatory, his approach, slow and methodical.
Perhaps she’d known all along. There was a current of recognition as she gazed upon him, like a switch that painted his presence in a bigger light. There was a sharp intake of air as Amaryllis stumbled to her feet as a chorus of screams echoed in the slaves’ brig. No.
“They were helpless,” her voiced tightened as she watched the last, charred hand fall to the floor.
“They are weak; fodder,” the man returned, circling the lone sorcerer like a tiger would its prey. “Do you feel it, Amaryllis? That darkness that stirs?”
“Stop this,” She snapped, raising her sword aloft. “What do you want?”
In the span of a breath, he moved from one step to the next, his body so close she could feel the saturated heat radiate from his body. There was a dark smile on his lips that mirrored the glint in his eyes. “Did you enjoy killing him?” His question hung on his tongue. “I felt the thrill in your blood. Death sustains you like the food your wretched kind are forced to consume. Your dark passenger speaks and you refuse to listen.”
“I won’t--” her voice was tight, and she tried to step away, only to have her face grasped by the man’s broad hands.
“You think you’re a good person; feeling righteous for these pathetic creatures, seeking answers to age old questions. You were born with a darkness, Amaryllis, a darkness you cannot avoid.” His hands wandered, from her face down to her neck, and further. “You felt it as a child, and you felt it here,” he pressed a hand to her chest, “With the death of the wretch you’d called a friend. You cannot escape your destiny, mortal. Only embrace it. Your potential can be used for… far better causes…”
“I am no pawn.” She wanted to say more, to say anything more, but all she could muster were sharp inhales and a heavy scream as the man laid a hand over her wound and cauterized it shut with a power she had no hope of understanding.
“No,” he agreed. “But you will carry one.”
The last thing she would remember of that night was the agonizing torment of her shattered dignity, and the lingering smell of searing flesh.