Mature IV. The Most Dangerous of Cages

10th of Cylus 720

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IV. The Most Dangerous of Cages


10th of Cylus 720

...Continued from here

Woe followed Stoll into an adjoining chamber, leaving the corpse of the would-be Audnev behind them. Once out of that more spacious chamber, the chill settled back into Woe's bones. He felt it on every inch of his being, and was only exacerbated by the chilly ether of the new arcana coursing through his body. He still felt its icy grip around his neck and collarbone, where it'd left its mark in jagged shadowy marks that seemed to hover just a sliver of space above his skin.

Stoll didn't wait long before approaching a stone slab, on which was placed several tomes of various sizes and shapes. Stoll picked up one, a leatherbound journal, and turned around to thrust it into Woe's chest. The torturer blanked for a moment. When Stoll's eyes went wide with expectation, he reached up to take the journal in his hands. "What is this...?"

"Ne'er mind. Jes a grimoire. Small one, all yer need ter do whatcher gonner get up ter."

Ah yes, the business with... Sywena. Which brought him to ask, "What is it about Sywena that troubles you? I know her myself, and she's harmless..."

Stoll fixed Woe in an empty stare for a moment, then snorted, and gave a false chuckle, "Pfah, boy? Ain'ta thing on two legs that ain't dangerous. Tis one more'n others too. She's a seeker of Yvithia. Lookin' to earn her lady's favor for Xyphos."

Woe stared warily at the man in front of him. What did he have against religion, really? The Immortals weren't that bad, and certainly didn't command total obedience from everyone of their followers. Then again... Alright, naive thought on Woe's part. But...

"Trust mer, yer'll get a knife in yer belly sooner or later, once she's gotten she wants to ken." Stoll nodded at the journal, and then waved an arm dismissively at the mortalborn.

Woe wasn't in the mood to argue. Having just escaped the chains of the gaoler mage, he wasn't anxious to resume his captivity. Despite that, the torturer couldn't help but disagree. Sywena couldn't handle a knife to save her life, let alone take one. It was hard, almost comical to imagine the small biqaj's face screwed up in fury, stabbing Woe in the gut. Like as not her stabs woud fall lamely upon his gambeson, without making a scratch.

The image was almost enough to make Woe laugh. If it weren't for the consequences of what this strange mage wanted from him.

Having established he wanted something, now it was time to figure out what he had to offer in exchange. He'd already given Woe back his freedom. Woe didn't think he would do this if he wasn't confident in the torturer falling into line with his agenda. There had to be more to this, "So... Would you tell me who you are, and why you initiated me into this magic?"

Stoll shot a look over his sholder, a frown on his mishapen mug. His face was something to behold, battered by years of abuse and getting into brawls. The very picture of assymetry. He almost made Fleaface look handsome by comparison. Almost.

"Yeh, I gave yer whatcher needed. What I needed fer yer ter do what with that seeker of Audnev. Name? Not 'mportant. Stoll Moritan if yer need ter know. Name won't mean anything ter yer."

The torturer stared across at the arcane gaoler, his eyes blank with a complete lack of illumination, "I'm still missing something..."

"Well, put er dis way?" Stoll began, and then let out a forceful sigh, "Tere's more'n this magic tan yer know."

Woe crossed his arms, "Sywena isn't going anywhere, as far as I know. Fill me in, plenty of time."

So Stoll took Woe aside to his living area. A squallid cell that looked more like a place for prisoners than one who made his living taking them. Stoll sat him across from him, and poured out some frothy wine from a nearby skin. He filled two cups. Woe took his own cup , but so far declined to drink. Only taking a few token sips to avoid suspicion.

"See, teres a power in language. Tis magic is called hone. It makes ter body... take thigs different yer ken? Changes it, makes faster, stronger, sensitive... aye like yer saw. But more'n that... It can take away."

"Tere's two sides of the coin ter this magic. Two tongues. One, helpful'n healin'. My side? Darker, can't help others, but can curse em. Sap strength. Can still make myself strong and fast, just can't use ter give others power."

Woe thought the slug-tongued gaoler could improve his teaching skills. Why he was initiating strange Mortalborn out of the sewers was beyond him. But perhaps it was something to do with his spark? Woe had initiated Emmy almost at the behest of his grasping, groping Empathy spark. At least he told himself it was not his true intent. It was possible the spark inside this strange mage prompted him to certain actions, and that the man had no true will of his own. That was a fact worth sorting away for later.

"I didn't ask for this spark. I trust you intend to make it worth my while to betray Sywena?"

For a while nothing was said. This gave Woe pause to consider the proposition before him. He'd shared some good times with Sywena. The mischeivous whisper wasn't a bad girl by any stretch, and he never considered her a danger to himself. Was she some kind of danger to Stoll? Woe doubted she was even aware of his existence. It was hard to believe she'd not mention the hunchback cretin stalking the sewers with dark magic, trapping the faithful.

After a few moments, Woe's question seemed to register on Stoll's mind. An ugly smile crept across his mouth, as he regarded the question from his 'apprentice'. It could have been Woe's imagination, but he felt this man's sanity long gone. He had succumbed to the whims of the spark, and now lived like a cornered rat in the sewer. A sad creature flashing diseased teeth at whoever was unfortunate enough to cross his path.

"I can teach yer more'n just drawin on skin with magic... Yer bring me her scalp.. N' I'll show you true power."

Woe scoffed, not bothering to disguise it. The deranged mage wasn't likely to notice or make sense of the social cue anyways. "Magic... More magic?"

"Aye." Stoll's eyes shone as he uttered the confirmation. "Yer'll be that much more potent, ye'll can be what I never was. Carnifex, Torturer, Demigod. All dese things I'll open ter way to... I just need her scalp."

Woe wanted to shake his head. As it was, he still stared holes into the face of this mishapen mage.

"Magic... I never knew what I was bargaining with when I received that first stain on my soul." Woe sighed, remembering Brigantia, "It's not what I wanted then, nor what I want now."

Stoll's mouth drooped a bit when Woe confessed, but he said nothing. Woe shook his head at the hone mage. Was he so far gone mentally? He seemed capable enough of torture. But then, that didn't exactly need a great intellect to be good at. It only required a cruel hand and a cold heart.

"If I do this, it will be because it's in my interest to do so. I will not have you leave another arcane stain on myself. Is that understood?"

He didn't seem to register this, but merely stared at Woe, as if trying to focus, trying to... Attune! So they shared more than hone...

Woe rubbed his face, burying it in his hands as he leaned over in his seat, lamenting his recent life. The loss of portions of his soul, the loss of control, and now being seated across from a lost monster. "Magic has its uses, it's ends and goods... Yet, is it not a prison all its own?"

Stoll broke his silence then, with a yellow grin that split his puggish face. "Oh lad, yer don't know the beginning of it!"

The mage's voice cackled as Woe lifted himself off the chair, and made his way out of the cell of the Gaoler. From there, he made his way through the tunnels of the underground. Moritan let him go, and said nothing of his departure. He didn't have to. Woe knew he'd be watching.

When at last the torturer arrived at the exit to those chilly undercrofts and sewer passages, he exited. From there, he swung the grate open, and walked out into the walkway adjoining a canal, just south of the Eastern Temple.

Continued here, some trials later...
word count: 1526
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Re: IV. The Most Dangerous of Cages


[*]Discipline: Standing by the man who just ambushed and kidnapped you without expressing hostility.
[*]Discipline: Suppressing an immediate reaction.
[*]Persuasion: Try to convince a monster that killing someone isn't necessary.
[*]Rhetoric: Wrestling with your own morality in the form of a speech.
[*]Rhetoric: Arguing for the sparing of a life.
[*]Rhetoric: Warning against the dangers of magic.

Loot: +1 Hone grimoire
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Renown: -
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 10
- - -
Comments: I found the fact that Woe and his new mentor have such different views in regard to Sywena interesting. I didn’t know that Sywena wants to become a Xypha, and I wonder who’s right. Is she harmless, like Woe thinks – or will he get a knife in his belly before long?

I have to admit, I’m wondering why Stoll is initiating strange Mortalborn out of the sewers as well. Either way, I enjoyed reading the dialogue between Stoll and Woe (and especially the part where Stoll explained Hone to his new initiate).

I was surprised when Woe told Stoll about the first stain on his soul and that it hadn’t been what he had wanted then and asked if it was not a prison of its own. I wonder if he’ll bring Stoll Sywena’s scalp …

Anyway, I can’t wait to read the next part!

Enjoy your rewards!

word count: 231





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