Dark Servitude

Well, and I wanted to make some points about her character, and give Maer some stuff to work with and help bring him up to speed. So.

Warning: for whatever explicit detail, since Maer said it reminded him of Saw *which I've seen* and Hostel *which I haven't*. So whatever that means.

Maerik's Day with his Mistress

The strangest thing about Maerik’s disappearance was that he left everything behind. Though it was sudden, it seemed very neat and precise, even his parent’s having no real concern about his whereabouts - only the feeling that they knew he was ‘fine’. If only they’d known the truth…

Snatched from the midst of his new life learning about being a hero at the Academy, Maerik found himself face to face with his assigned mentor, the Head of the Black of The Trimagus Council: the vile sorceress Lyndrossa.

She told him in explicit terms that his life was hers, and at a whim he would simply cease to be. Maerik was left with little choice but to agree, unaware at the reason for his mistress’ wrath, but knowing all too well that he’d hear the reasons for her displeasure many, many times over before she was done tormenting him. He listened in continued horror as she ranted about his potential, and how much of a waste it was he was so incompetent. This continued long into the night, as hours passed unheeded… and it came to be that at noon every day, Lyndrossa introduced him to some new, minor torture, just to keep him on his toes.

At the end of the first night, the boy knew many words for Lyndrossa’s displeasure, and felt the tortured pains of sympathy, as she bent his will with her own power. The second day, she had him strapped to a table and stripped, save for a pendant around his necklace that would let him constantly regenerate any wound… only to have its intents perverted and used against him, as his mistress vented her cruelty by stabbing him with many varied blades, letting them linger in various patterns, and then withdrawing them slowly to let him heal. By the third day, he’s spent different hours as various sorts of vermin, swine, and insects; whatever his mistress had seemed to fancy, as she insulted him and put power behind her words.

The fourth day he tasted a reprieve. Lyndrossa woke him from unconsciousness, and instructed him follow her to her lab. She disappeared, and knowing the weight of his mistresses wrath, he quickly muttered the few words that took him to her side.

What he found awaiting him was no less then a beautiful nightmare. The lab, as usual, was cluttered with bookcases, lab tables, various experiments, and less-then-normal components. Some of it he had seen before, and he’d even been allowed to touch a few things when bid to do so, or aid in the completion of a working. None of that was made his jaw drop as he looked around, for the room had never before looked so cluttered or busy! He tried taking in as much as he could in the second before he met his lady’s eyes. As soon as that happened, he felt the usual chill across his skin and the power behind her gaze, testing his will.

“You know by now the TriMagus have given your life to me. They know you are a Bloodlined Archive, and that you’ve recently come into your power with the death of the last and the year your majority.” Her words were clear, concise, and cold as ice. “Today, you begin.” She took a step forward, her voice raising slightly in volume, her tone cutting. “Tomorrow, you prepare.” She took another step, and then was right there before him, crossing the distance like it hadn’t existed.

“But tonight, you *die*.”

When next he awoke, he found himself upon a cold stone floor. Quickly looking around to get his bearings, he found himself in a small cell, apparently within her tower. The immediate area was icy cold, and aside from the small pallet of straw off to one side (which he was, conveniently enough, not left sleeping upon) and a small basin of water off to one side. The large wood door completed the sparse motif, and as he rose to his feet, he felt the scratchiness of the grey wool robe against his chest. She’d left him with little else.

A small note was clinging from the back of the door by a nail, just at eye level. Taking it, he took in the contents at a glance. Casting it aside and steeling himself for the task, he complied with the commands enclosed, exiting through the door and ascending the 587 steps to Lyndrossa’s laboratory.

“Today, you begin.” His mistress’ voice greeted him as he walked through the door. The lab was just as cluttered as it had been before, but now had the space inside the large engraved circle clear, and a smaller desk and chair nearby. She gestured from behind her own desk, and bid him to sit. Without a thought even crossing his mind about disobedience at this point, he found himself in motion and sitting before he awaited her next desire.

“First, we work on your words. Up.” Her tone left no room for doubt, and again the boy sprang to action. Lyndrossa stepped around the desk smoothly, and with a wave of her hand, indicated where Maerik was to step to, and when to stop. “Hold up your hands.” He did, automatically, without question. She stepped around him then, taking him in with a cold impassiveness, watching him stand as still as possible under her gaze.

She came back to his front, and eyed him levelly. Taking her own hands and latching onto his, she slipped her hands slowly over his, clasping his fingers. Her touch burned ice cold, and made his skin crawl, but he bore it stoically. “These,” Lyndrossa began, intertwining her fingers in his, “You won’t need today.” With but a thought, the icy touch of her skin on his became far more intense, and holding his gaze with her own, Lyn broke one finger of each hand, leaving the rest of his fingers frozen, useless.

The boy screamed. He couldn’t help it. He quickly stifled it and tried to swallow his pain, and the withering eyes of his mistress quickly quelled any thoughts of outrage. “Some spells are purely somatic; that is, they only require words and an infusion of willpower to work.” She spun away from him, completely confident he would do nothing to strike back at her. After all, this is what he was there for.

The Magic.

“The words are merely another sort of focus, and generally call out to those things that would hear it. For this reason,” she said, making her way back to her desk and behind it, leaving Maerik standing, holding his pose, and his pain, “spirits and other entities are just as likely to answer, making this especially useful for summonings. Recite after me: Tuwoth ul Danear Manoroth….” As she trailed off, continuing the chant, the boy quickly focused his will, and shaped it in his mind. The words rolled off his tongue, and he shut his eyes, hearing only the words of his mistress, losing himself to the magic.

The next day was much like the first. To his credit, the boy only had one more finger broken during the evening, but woke up healed and ready to go once more. He figured the drill, and quickly cleaned himself up, heading up the stairs and into the lab.

“Today, you begin.” Lyndrossa repeated. Those words were to become a mantra to the boy, something he would always here as his mentor sorted her thoughts, and decided what secrets to teach him and what restraints to test him. “Come here, for today, we learn about gestures and shaping the weave.” She beckoned him over to a short table, where lie a few components he recognized, many he did not, a small but thick book bound in black leather and gilded with bronze, and what appeared to be a ceremonial knife, or athame.

“Hold out your tongue.” The boy’s eyes widened as he looked askance at his mistress, but he reacted anyhow. As soon as he translated thought into action, Lyn’s hand shot out like a snake, her hand fascinating on his throat. Without further preamble, she seized the knife, and with a swift flick of her wrist, cut out his tongue.

“For many, the wrong words at the wrong time cause mistakes.” She looked at him as he gagged, in shock, and spat blood onto the stone. “You will remember this lesson, and never use your tongue when it could cost you everything.” She turned and set the piece on the desk behind her, beside the blade, and turned back to him. A small gesture, a few wiggled fingers, and the stub of muscle where the boy’s tongue had been froze over, leaving him still in a lot of pain, but in no danger of dying. Just yet.

That day was one of the worst, though looking back, he’d admit he’d certainly improved on his focus, and his gestures were precise, swift, and confident. Many more days passed, now a lesson in magic and a lesson in subservience. He truly saw how dark and twisted the Art could be, and began to develop an immense respect for the power and control his mistress displayed.

“Today, you prepare.”

The words shocked him for a moment; he’d long lost any concept of time in truth, only knowing one day from the next by the times he’d passed out and woken up back in his quarters. That small room now held his desk, a few components, and a spellbook. The last accoutrement was odd to the boy, who knew his mistress to be a sorceress as well in truth and without a need for such a thing, but the mistress insisted on him copying down some of the workings, generally with some snide comment about how he’d get it wrong anyway. It was training his memory though, and many of the spells between those covers were fast becoming second nature, his ability with some of the words enough now to simply will those to work, as well.

The lab had changed. From the cluttered and catastrophic disarray he’d first come to, he now stood in one much more like the one he’s originally faced when first apprenticed. Over the countless hours, through the grueling torments, he had learned about, studied, and categorized nearly every component and device within this lab, and now knew it almost as well as he knew himself. He study even covered many herbs, something he’d never focused on before, and one of his mistress’ passions, poisons. Through her teachings, he’d become quite adept at recognizing poisons, deciding on doses, and estimating effects. He’d only learned a few antidotes; these, he figured, his mistress wouldn’t reveal because she wished to retain the upper hand, or because she simply didn’t feel the need to teach him. He’d figured enough to theorize on most, so that must have been sufficient. Maerik at least assumed that as he studied his mistress today, her raven black hair unbound and slightly wild, her dark eyes tempting and twinkling with mischief. He knew the signs of when her ‘playful’ mood appeared, and his mind went back over various torments inflicted during such periods.

They were unusually creative.

“Oh, my slave. What a wonderful surprise I have for you this day.” Lyndrossa purred, her poise seductive, her tone whimsical. This was getting more dangerous by the moment, the boy thought in a private part of his mind. She turned, making a come-hither motion with her hand as she did, and headed across the room, to a door recessed into the wall behind her desk, one he’d rarely seen used. Two short steps led to a recessed area, a small room that held many different items at power who’s uses he could only guess at, and a portal.

Outside the portal was a day-lit balcony, and Lyndrossa did not even pause as she strode through it. Without thinking, the boy followed her, more curious then anything. Lyn stepped right up to the edge, a top an ornate carpet of likely Persian design, and seated herself. Wondering if this was to be some other terrible test, where she’d toss him off over an ocean full of killer sharks, or perhaps taking him into the atmosphere, seeing how well he casted spells while short on oxygen…

Shaking his head, Maerik followed his mistress, seating himself behind and to her right side. With a ripple of movement, the carpet proved to be an item of legend, lifting off smoothly into the air and into the fiery pallet of crimson and coppery hues where the rays of the setting sun lengthened the shadows.

A small tower rose like a needle over the landscape just minutes into the trip, isolated from any civilization by the now tree-laden land. The forested area probably served it well though, as such quarters were traditionally the domiciles of mages.

“It is quite beautiful, isn’t it my pet?” Lyndrossa purred, her attentions on the landscape around and below as she turned her face towards Maerik. That strange glimmer that he’d quickly learned preceded danger was back in her eyes, and he was already having his misgivings. She slid forward onto her elbows, cradling her chin in one hand, and regarded the tower once more. It wouldn’t matter if he agreed or not; his opinion here didn’t matter. She was leading to something, and he was better served holding his tongue and letting her get to the point in her own time.

His Mistress pointed at the tower, and began to speak, her tone light. “A wizard, one by the name of Khagos, dwells there. A delightful fellow, he taught the woodland beasts in the area how to sing and dance while charming them into helping him build it. He keeps some talking rabbits, and even gave one wings with which to fly.”

The carpet banked around the tower, sweeping a bit lower to take in the area closely. The azure blue stone tower rose from a large surrounding garden, kept ordered and neat. Orange lamplight glimmered in a few windows, and there were some smaller glass orbs in the gardens emitting a soft glow.

“The Home of Khagos. Pretty, even picturesque, isn’t it?”

“Indeed, mistress.” Maerik replied, automatically. He meant what he said.

“Slay him.” she snapped, her tone frightening in its sudden intensity and venom.

Maerik blinked at her. Was she serious? She nodded, as if in answer to his thoughts, and gestured imperiously at the tower below.

Maerik grimaced. “Mistress, I -”

Small flames glimmered in the depths of Lyndrossa’s eyes as she locked her gaze on him. One sculpted eyebrow lifted, amused at this streak of defiance.

“A friend of yours?”

“What? Mistress, I’ve never even heard his name spoken.” There was no way he could warn the man, or help him get a defense ready, or spare him his mistress’ wrath. The man was doomed, and he was powerless to stop it. Maerik’s mind raced, but answers were less then forthcoming. He couldn’t betray her openly, not like this.

Lyndrossa shrugged like it didn’t matter. She drew forth a dark, slim rod of engraved wood from a leather sheath at her belt, and extended it languidly at the tower. Something caused the air to ripple in a line, cascading down and building momentum until…

….the upper half of Khagos’ tower burst apart with a roar, spraying the sky with wreckage. Smaller purple, amber, and blue-green blasts followed as various scorched magics within the tower exploded in turn. Maer could only stare at the conflagration as its echoes rolled back from the nearby hills, and debris fell through the air, dusting the scene. A blakened finger swirled through the air near the carpet, lit aflame on one end, before ending its arc and falling back to the earth below. Khagos was dead.

“So tell me,” she whispered, her tone dripping venom as she faced the sky above, “just why you would disobey me, when this man was no friend to you? No one of note, then, whatsoever. Does killing other mages come hard to you?”

Mearik felt the fear stirring within him, dragging bone claws against his spine. “It’s just… unnecessary,” he replied, trying to think before he spoke and chose each word carefully. “Are we not taught that the use of magic is to be encouraged, and not guarded or hampered?” He searched his mind for where he’d read that, but couldn't recall actually stumbling across it himself. It was like he knew, but didn’t know why.

Lyndrossa laughed at him. “Yes, right. Some of those more… faithful magi might say such things, certainly, to keep us from randomly slaying thieves who steal scrolls. Or disobedient apprentices.” she quickly amended. “Every mage who rivals me lessens my power overall. Why should I keep potential foes around to challenge me? What possible gain is there in that?”

She leaned forward, tapping Maerik’s knee with the rod. He tried not to focus on the little flickers of ambient energy dancing around it in jade pulses. “I’ve seen you some nights, staring at the ceiling, wondering if you could turn anything you learned to good use. You probably even pray for help. But tell me, does anyone answer?”

“No, I can not say they do.” he answered, his voice as small as the despair he felt in that moment. All he had to cling to were some small treacheries worked against her name, and if she ever discovered those…

Lyndrossa smiled triumphantly. “There you have it - alone, left to fend for yourself. If there is any who have the answers, they watch while the strong help themselves, over the corpses of the weak. Never forget that, Maerik Marson.” She used his full name, and it carried weight.

Her voice changed, taking a lighter tone and brisker pace. “I trust your labours haven’t faltered in my latest absence.” she commented off-handedly, referring to a time just a few days ago when she’d been entirely absent, and only left him with a list of instructions. She sat up, and raised the rod to point at his face like a ready sword. “How many complete skeletons have you reassembled?”

“Twenty-four,” he replied. She lifted her eyebrow again, apparently impressed, and leaned forward to peer into his eyes. Her sheer presence dragged his own gaze to hers, and he tried not to wince or flinch away. In some ways, she was just as awesome to behold as a goddess, he supposed, but he had no basis for comparison.

“You have been hard at work,” she said softly. “I’d have thought you’d spend more time trying to get into my books and poking around the tower before you got out the shovels. You’ve pleased me.”

Maer inclined his head, trying to keep satisfaction - and relief - from his face and voice. She must not have discovered what he’d done, then.

With his own powers, he had aided a servant and whisked him to a land far distant, arms full of supplies and face white with fear. Lyndrossa had taken the man to her bed but tired of him as the last year had gone by, and one morning more recently, during his servitude here, she had turned him into a giant worm and left him impaled on one of the rusty spits behind the tower to die in slow, twisted agony. Maerik had used a variation on a spell she’d taught him to mask another corpse and left it in the man’s place. It was reckless meddling, and he was pushing the limits of his skills while trying to cover his own steps. Yet he felt he had to do such things, somehow, those small kindnesses making up for her larger evils.

It hadn’t been his first small treachery against her cruelty, but there was always the chance it would be his last. “My honesty as of late far outstrips my ambition.” he ventured hesitantly, trying to be formal about the affair and trying not to upset her.

“A pretty speech, I suppose.” she said. “I almost believe you mean it.” She stretched like a large cat, and used the rod to scratch her back, putting it over one shoulder within easy reach of Maerik.

“What is it, well I mean,” he faltered, but quickly recovered as her eyes narrowed the smallest fraction, “what drives you to do what you do?” He reached his hand out, offering assistance to her efforts silently.

Lyndrossa poked at her back once more, smiled a touch, and and handed over the rod. Two rings on her finger blinked at him as she did so.

She suddenly smiled. “A bit higher… yesss there.” Her smile grew, almost making her look mad, as Maerik carefully used the rod to scratch the indicated spot. She kept her eyes fixed on his hands though, and the rings that had blinked a moment ago now flickered in readiness.

“Its no secret,” she began casually. “I serve myself and my own whims. I take apprentices when I feel the need, and destroy them out of hand when I’m done with them. There’s even actually been one on my island, testing the wards outside the tower. Maybe he wants your job. Should I order you to duel him?” She smiled again.

Maerik spread his hands and said, “If it is your wish, Mistress. I’d as soon as not slay anyone unnecessarily.”

Lyndrossa stared at him in thoughtful silence for a while as the pair drifted off on unseen currents of air, fleeing the dying day and the recent events in the area. “And deprive me of the entertainment his futility provides me? Don’t fear.”

She rose up on her knees in a single smooth motion, took the rod back from Maerik, re-sheathed it, and reached out with both her hands to take his shoulders. Her slender fingertips rested lightly on him, though the chill of her flesh quickly sank through his robes and into his flesh. He tried to move slightly, but he knew almost at once that he couldn’t break her grip; it was certainly magically reinforced, and hard as iron. Still, in the time they’d spent together, this was about as close as they’d ever gotten.

He held still as his Mistress brought her face closer to his, their noses almost touching. “Don’t move, or speak.” Her breath fell like a chill wind on his cheeks and chin, and her eyes, very dark and very large, seemed to be staring right into the back of his head and seeing every secret he’d ever known.

She leaned a bit forward, just for a moment, and exhaled right into this mouth. Something that burned and yet had the familiar tinge of ice raced into his mouth, roaring down his burning throat and coiling up his nose.

Agony, sheer burning, shuddering, get the heck away I want to live agony! Maer sneezed, again and again, clawing at the fabric in a desperate attempt to keep from falling, knowing he was spasming and convulsing on the carpet. He sobbed when he could find breath, and remained as helpless as a child.

For what seemed like an eternity, he coughed and wheezed against the haze dimming his sight, breaking out into a cold sweat. Utter exhaustion claimed him just enough to lessen the spasms, and he lie there moaning as the lessening tingles of pain ebbed and clawed paths through him.

He was Maerik Marson. He was as weak as a dried up leaf blowing in the wind. He was lying on his back, on a carpet some thousands of feet in the air, and the only thing that had kept him from falling off it was the iron grip of the mistress he served, the Dark Lady Lyndrossa, the one called the Raven Queen.

Her hands loosened, then. One had most certainly left a bruise where it had sunk deep in his thrashings. He wiped a sleeve across his eyebrow, trying to save more sweat from rolling down and into his eyes. He blinked a few times, trying to ensure he had his focus back as quickly as possible.

Lyndrossa leaned over him in the gathering darkness, as the breezes of the sky slid over them both, and said softly, “You have tasted the Dark Fire. Be warned; if you ever betray me, it shall surely slay you, cooking you from the inside out. Three apprentices, down the years, have kissed me unbidden. Not one lived to boast of it.”

Maerik stared up at her, unable to speak, barely coherent enough to find words of any relevance anyhow. She looked into his eyes, her own orbs now two dark pools of fire, and smiled slowly. “Your loyalty, however, outstrips theirs. You shall take on my worst foe for me, when you are ready. You’ll have to learn to kill first though, swiftly and without regarding the cost. He,” she emphasized, “is not likely to give you much time to think.”

Shaking his head, Maerik caught up with himself, breaking the reverie. It was long since he’d trained, and even a bit since he’d faced his own Test, and been there to witness Alex while she took hers… He had no desire to relive all the dark mysteries he’d witnessed while serving his mistress, and with his return to the Academy imminent, he braced himself for the cold chill that wrapped around him as Lyndrossa focused her power, the words cutting and sharp. There was a brief instant of silence, followed by the crackle of ice as it solidified around him. Then, it crumbled away, and he was gone.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License