III. Catch a Scorpion by the Tail

10th of Cylus 720

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III. Catch a Scorpion by the Tail

10th Cylus 720

"There's something different 'bout you." Stoll muttered, as he stared intently at the younger mage. He held the discarded shackles in his hands, hefting them several times before flinging them to the side with a swift motion. On Stoll's arms, Woe could recognize several runic tattoos. They didn't shine or shimmer, but stood out from his flesh as if they were a layer of skin above his mortal flesh.

Woe was rubbing his wrists, where the shackles had previously chafed them. He didn't know what to make of his newly gifted freedom if that's what it was. Stoll merely fixed him in his pale gray gaze, watching the younger torturer. Wheels were turning in and out of his mind, Woe could see. He didn't need Empathy to take note of that. Yet as he watched Stoll, a change crept over his face. He saw shadows sliding over his skin, forming eldritch symbols on his head, and across his neck.

The runic markings stood out from the rest of him as if they were cut out from him. Woe could taste the ether coursing through those runes and knew this now to be a different, unfamiliar form of magic. One he hadn't encountered yet. It tasted strangely familiar, something about it reminded him of his meeting with his mother, but then perhaps that was a trick of perception. Aftereffects of being in the presence of foreign arcana.

Without a warning or telegraph, Stoll's arm moved faster than it had any right to with strength and purpose to restrain Woe. Why had he freed him then? He supposed he wouldn't find out. Over it all, the girl's whimpering voice was transposed, her helplessness and sorrow seeping into the depths of Woe's tangle.

Stoll held Woe fast, the younger torturer wasn't strong enough to resist, and certainly not fast enough. He felt cold ether marking the skin of his collarbone, and out of the corner of his eyes saw ink-blue shadows creeping over that area of skin. They formed sharp and jagged edges as they wormed their way across his neck, and winding around like some accursed tattoo.

Each etheric etching on his skin felt like a cold scalpel, yet no blood flowed, and the pain did not linger. Yet Woe could feel the familiar charge of ether, building up deep beneath his soul as it prepared for the infiltration of yet another spark. He had three now, one a groping night-stalker, the other an inquisitive collector of notes, and now, something else. Something far more active and unsubtle than either of those two sparks.

He jolted as it entered into his soul. The pain of this new Umbral entity began creeping into every fiber of his body, far more physical than the Empathy and Attunement initiations had gone. This time, there would be no gentle caresses or awakenings. It was raw power that flooded into Woe's mortalborn soul.

The spark crept along through every fiber of his being, hungrily and greedily latching onto every half-divine fiber that he was built from. It went on and on until the escalation reached a crescendo. Woe felt the pain of all the tortures he could and had inflicted, in one moment, and then all went into shadow.

When he came to, the woman was still whimpering, while Stoll stood over him, holding a fiery brand with a spider web on it. Without even waiting for Woe to get his bearings, or remember where he was, the elder torturer sneered at him, "Ya ain't a spinner, is ya?" He held the spider brand up against Woe's face, dangerously close to singing his cheek.

The weakness was still in Woe's bones, as he recoiled from the hot brand of iron. Yet he didn't crawl away, but held his ground. "I'm... No, no. Why would you think that?" Woe took the opportunity of Stoll's focus to strum a sense of credulity from his tangle, to make his lie all the more convincing.

"I ain't knowin'. Just a hunch is all."

Woe's eyes drifted from Stoll, over toward the girl. She had several more five-pointed stars branded onto her face since Woe drifted into unconsciousness. This Stoll was certainly a cruel one. Woe could respect that.

"What now?" The younger torturer ventured to ask, still feeling the vines of umbral ether clawing at every fiber of his body. His hand reached toward his collarbone, his neck. He could feel the cold ether, of a witch mark that had been left there. Several Umbral runes etched onto his skin. Symbols for which he had no idea of the purpose or utility.

"Now..." Stoll nodded to the would-be Audnev. "We learn ya to inflict true pain." So saying, Stoll reached down, and pulled Woe to his feet. The mortalborn's vision went blurry for a moment as blood rushed through his body again, after having been relatively still for so long.

Stoll waited a moment for Woe to acclimate to movement once more and then thrust him over toward the girl. "We show her true pain." Stoll commanded, "Show the Heretic the runic word for touch."

At first, Woe hadn't the slightest idea what Stoll was talking about. But then, the elder mage reached out with his ether and activated one of the runes inscribed on Woe's neck. Woe, by dint of attunement and intuition, realized this was the rune he meant for him to place on the woman.

Woe stretched his hand out, his spindly fingers tracing the ether around his hands. The shadowy energy began extending from those thin digits, to begin to move against the woman. A great amount of concentration was required in order to trace the runes he wished to leave upon her flesh. But trace it he did with Stoll's guidance. The rune of touch, along her arm, leaving it more susceptible to sensation, as the name would have one believe.

"I cannae etch such a rune on anyone. Only the Umbral runes respect my command to afflict others. S'why I needed you here."

Woe frowned as he worked the etheric manipulations upon the woman's flesh. As he did this, he attuned to her frequency. The spark within him demanded to know more about the one he was going to torture. At the same time, Woe delved into her tangle, searching the surface of her embroidered patterns of emotion. She was scared, too much for anything much to be discerned. Just a mass of dark shadowy gold and hues of green besides. So he withdrew the groping empathy magics and concentrated solely on that rune of touch.

"You planned to capture me? Did... did Fargis put you up to this?" Woe's thoughts turned to his 'servant', the one that his mother had foisted upon him.

Stoll said nothing but continued to guide Woe's etheric manipulations so that the younger mage would know how a rune was drawn. Woe felt the influence of his new mentor's ether guiding his shadowy inscriptions on the woman until the rune was fully imprinted on her upper arm.

"Ne'ermind who or wha' or tha'." Stoll muttered, "Now, uncoiling and peel the skin..."

Woe looked back at Stoll, and then to the woman. He fetched a scalpel off the wall and went to work.

A break of torture ensued, by the end of which they were left with a very dead and very brutalized would-be cultist. Woe was exhausted, emotionally, and in terms of ether. The rune of touch he'd left had been overflowing with his own ether and siphoned with every ministration of pain he inflicted on the woman.

He looked at her flayed and destroyed form, and sighed. "It's done. And now?"

"Now... yer work has just begun. There's a little mouse about, sneaking by my operation. We need to silence her." So saying, Stoll handed Woe his bullwhip back. Woe took it gingerly in his hands and shrugged.

"Who is it?" Woe asked with some trepidation. He wasn't an assassin. Any more than he was a kidnapper. Yet curiosity demanded that he ask before acting.

"Some wench named Sywena. She's been tracking us, bein' a nuisance. Gotta take care of that."

Woe sighed again. Of course, it'd be somebody he knew. There'd be no living with Sywena after this.

Nodding his head in acquiescence, although he had not made up his mind yet whether to go along with this madness, Woe went over to his folded clothes by the iron shelf in the corner of the chamber and began dressing once more. The cool velvet and dark fabrics made him feel a mite more secure once they were covering the new witch mark around his neck.

"So." He began, quirking a brow at Stoll, "When do we begin?"

Stoll's mouth twisted, in a misshapen smile as Woe reached out subtly through his tangle. There, he saw on the mage's embroidery, a noose, an axe, and a bear. Whatever the latter meant, was beyond Woe's reckoning. He only followed the elder mage, his new mentor./align]
Last edited by Woe on Mon May 25, 2020 7:26 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1556
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Re: III. Catch a Scorpion by the Tail


[*]Hone: Rune of Touch: Can make a victim more sensitive to pain.
[*]Hone: Initiation: Painful process, during which runic tattoos are applied to your body, one after another, leaving a witchmark.
[*]Hone: Resistance: Can protect the Hone mage from his own runes' potency.
[*]Torture: Using magic to enhance torture.
[*]Torture: Flaying sensitive skin.
[*]Torture: Use of burning brands.

Loot: A new Hone spark. Enjoy!
Wealth: -
Injuries: Woe is low on ether and will need some trials of rest to recover.
Renown: +5. Someone heard the screams!
Magic XP: Yes, for Hone.
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 10
- - -
Comments: I see that this is the sequel of the thread that I reviewed a couple of days ago. I was wondering what would happen after Stoll took Woe’s shackles off. I hadn’t expected that though!

Woe’s observation of Stoll and his magic and the subsequent initiation and Woe’s using his new magic for the first time were well-written and detailled. In the “Notes” you mentioned nastiness and dark magic, among other things. The thread was a little dark, but I loved that!

You write about such things quite well!

I look forward to the next thread. There will be a thread about Sywena, won't there?

Anyway, enjoy your rewards!
word count: 216





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