[Flashback] Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

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This shining population center is considered the jewel of The Sylira Region. Home of the vast majority of Mizahar's population, Syliras is nestled in a quiet, sprawling valley on the shores of the Suvan Sea. [Lore]

[Flashback] Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Postby Gossamer on June 6th, 2009, 10:24 pm

TS: Winter of 502, After Valterrian
Location: Varniak Ceramic Works, Syliras

It was just another typical day and Leo was once again stuck loading one kiln and unloading another one. There was yet a third out in the yard behind the shop that had to have salt added today when he increased the burn temperatures. The salt firing technique was something a Benshira merchant shared with Allistir Varniak last fall. Leo himself had no idea if it would work, so they were trying it on some simple plates and cups before expanding it to more expensive pottery. Everyone in his family were potters. His mother, Lina, was one of the most brilliant with her hands Leo had ever seen. She sat at the wheel for hours sculpting things out of clay that until he'd seen it, Leo hadn't thought it was possible. That is, she worked when she could. Recently, they'd fallen on hard times and Allistir had taken to blaming Lina and sometimes even Leo himself for the drop in customers.

It was simply winter though. Usually business was booming all year round. Syliras had a certain comfortingly warm climate. Its growing seasons were long, its winters short to almost non-existent, but this year they had saw snow among all the rain. The city itself was half drowned in an almost steady downpour that kept everyone inside. Snow was almost unheard of until you got further north. Here, though, they were in paradise... or so the protective Syliran Knights claimed when the weather was more normal. Food grew abundantly in the massive fields the Sylirians had tamed. But when snow and rain fell and the winds grew cold, people stayed indoors. It was great weather for Leo doing his work... making numerous trips into the countryside to collect the clay they used in their production... and it was some of the easiest working he'd seen. The soil was moist from the increased rains and the clay soft and easily dug up. They had one additional worker besides Leo, Frasin, who often went to help. Frasin's main job was mixing clays, adding the prerequisite animal hair, fine hay dust, or whatever mixture was required for whatever projects Lina or Allistir might need. Leo, at fifteen, wasn't allowed to throw yet. He had been around it all his life, but his father felt he was far more valuable for hard physical labor than anything else. It kept him 'tough', and if he eased up or didn't work as fast as his father liked, he had to be tough to resist the cuffs upside the head.

Allistir was in the house, a lovely stone sprawling structure adjacent to the business. His father had left him the ceramic works, having built up the business himself. Lina was one of the benshira employed as a ceramicist, and Allistir had married her (Leo was convinced) to eliminate the expense of paying her. Lina had difficulty getting pregnant, and Leo's birth was a small miracle in itself. But it had left her damaged. Part of the reason was that Lina was a very small delicate woman, and while Allistir was stout, the babe he gifted the woman was well formed and large for its size. Allistir always took it personally that he only had one son, and that Lina hadn't given him more. And though Allistir never struck Lina while she was carrying Leo, the beatings afterward had been particularly brutal. Allistir had loved showing off his healthy son to all his neighbors who tended to have girl children. Even seven years ago in Syliras, sons were considered lucky as the first child and a harbinger of a very healthy happy marriage. Too bad the belief hadn't proven true for Lina.

Life with Allistir was hell. Even now, with business slow, the coin wasn't flowing so easily, and as Leo worked unloading the finished products out of the cooled kiln and glanced at the stack fo greenware he'd have to reload into it, he could hear his father shrieking at his mother inside. What was it now? Ahhh.... Leo wanted Lina's stash of egg money so he could go replenish his supply of ale. Lina kept a small flock of chickens first and foremost because the eggs were a key ingredient in some of the glazes they needed for the pottery. And any excess she had (her chickens thrived because she took such good care of them) she sold the eggs to neighbors and stored the money for treats for Leo, Allistir, and herself during holidays, festivals, or important dates. Lina always had a few silvers to press into Leo's hand when it was festival time so he could disappear from work for an evening and enjoy himself. Lina used her share for fresh flowers that brightened their home and made her incredibly happy. Allistir though, when he could get his hands on the egg money - especially these days when there was a noted lack of extra coin from sales - would blow it on ale, get even meaner, and come home drunk.

Allistir sober was a handful, but when he was drunk, his surliness turned flat out mean. Leo tended to disapear when he could, that is, when Lina was safe somewhere (off quilting with the neighbor women) or visiting friends. But when she was home, with no excuse to disappear, she was fair game for Allistir, and the man loved to push her around.

It sounded, even then, like the argument was escalating even without the presence of ale. Leo could hear his father's voice drift out across the yard. "You know my time at the Broken Arrow is important. Woman, I know you have coin stashed somewhere. Let me have it. If those chickens aren't laying and you aren't selling the eggs when we don't need the glazes, then what good is it to keep them?" He didn't hear his mother's response. He didn't expect too. Lina had a soft smooth voice, one that Leo had inherited. In fact, Leo often wondered if Allistir was even his father. Even though Leo was born healthy and a larger baby, he'd grown into a slight boy, more resembling his mother than his fathers brawny form. Allistir had even remarked on it a time or two. The boy was just strange, and not near as manly as Allistir would like. And he had a true gift for fire... even Lina had seen it. As she worked with clay with an ease that might belie a relationship with Semele had Leo not known better, Leo had an affinity with fire. They were both equally talented, and his mother had never been afraid to lovingly hand her creations over to her son to fire in the big kilns. The fires never got too hot too fast, and never cooled down too soon and ruined her glazes. In fact Lina often told him that together the two of them made the perfect team. With Leo's presence, Lina was brave enough to try rash new glazes, high rising clay architecture that took a delicate hand in firing, and their business boomed because of it. Allistir played very little into the equation other than controlling the books, brokering larger deals, and even having sold the Syliran Knights up at Stormhold an entire keep worth of matching dishes.

A sharp noise interrupted Leo's musings. Though he hadn't heard his mothers response, he heard her sharp cry as her father's slap echoed across the back yard. Allistir was in a dangerous mood, and Lina was its target for the moment. Last time he was in this sort of mood his mother had ended up with a broken arm. Such a default was entirely blamed on her, of course, and Allistir hadn't let Lina forget it for the whole time it took her to mend. She needed to work to support the business... to resupply the inventory.

Another loud sound crossed the yard, startling the chickens at the far end opposite of the kiln. It was a cry of pain.
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Re: [Flashback] Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Postby Leo Varniak on June 7th, 2009, 3:30 pm

Another flawless batch, Leo considered with a small amount of vicarious pride. His mother was never one to brag openly, but he knew that Lina's skill was far from normal. The pottery he happened to cast a glance at whenever he visited the market just didn't compare to hers. Most of what she made could be sold as first quality, with only a few baskets of seconds leaving the kilns every month. In their better times, they wouldn't even sell the seconds and just destroy them as waste; now, though, they had to be more careful with their budget and even this little sin of pride was outlawed. Allistir would not have it.

Leo was a quiet kid who kept a lot of things to himself. In a way, he had never truly been a kid. His earliest memories were of the workshop and the kiln... work. Lina had managed to give him some sort of education and literacy by bartering classes with a dinner set that she had made unbeknownst to Allistir. Of course, the man would never have agreed to it - since when did you need to read and write to make pottery? Leo, though, had taken these lessons and taken them to heart, striving to learn bits and pieces from various sources. Playing never made much sense to him - his day consisted of tending to the fire, loading and unloading the kiln, and trekking through the Syliran countryside for raw materials.

And so, he had grown into a boy who spoke little but thought quite a bit. He rarely shared his opinions, often withholding them from even his mother - the only person he loved. He knew better than to reveal his thoughts, for they were not those expected of a fifteen years old apprentice potter. Since he did not wish to attract attention, especially his worthless father's, Leo was fond of silence. Had he spoken what was on his mind, people would have discovered a disillusioned grown up trapped in a teenager's body. Leo was not one to just buy what he was told; all those speeches about Syliras being an utopian realm of all that was right and just in the world... he couldn't stand them. These Knights gorged themselves with big words like "civilization", "hope", "rebirth", but they did nothing to truly make anyone happy. Sure, the outside world was filled with savages and unfathomable monsters, but what good was physical safety if it only brought a lifetime of torture, day in and day out?

No, this new world order that they were trying to build here in Syliras, Leo thought, just wasn't going to work this way. It would collapse onto itself eventually, because it didn't strive to remove the root cause of all problems - rotten people; instead, it protected them just like good, worthy citizens and often it protected them even more. Leo was quite familiar with the category, having been sired by one (though he entertained the escapist fantasy of not being Allistir's son).

Leo was a person of his convictions. While he never raised his voice, which was as smooth and delicate as Lina's, he was not one to lower his eyes and scamper into a corner. He was convinced that one could make this new world work, but only by taking out the rotten apples, the second-quality wares. How, he had no idea. If he did, maybe he wouldn't have been loading the kiln at this point in time.

Well, time to get the fire going again. This was by far Leo's favorite activity for some reason. Short of his own mother, fire had been the very first thing he could remember with fondness. Fire gave off heat, and changed soft clay into beautiful ceramics. Like Leo, it had its own convictions and could not be completely controlled, but if you took precautions you could reach a certain understanding of each other. When Leo worked near the kiln, he sometimes got the impression that the flame spoke to him in a language of cracking sparks and crumbling wood. He had a talent for judging the correct temperature, and the perfect timing that gave Lina's glaze even more shine and durability. Fire truly was a gift of the gods.

Allistir's voice broke his concentration and a smirk of distaste appeared on his dark features, a face with something Eyktoli about it, as to be expected of a Benshira's son. Leo wondered for the millionth time how his mother could endure this excuse for a life. "Human trash," he allowed himself to murmur, knowing nobody could have heard him. Allistir served no purpose in life, yet he was the master of their fates. He was a concentrate of nothing - once you scratched past the loud, booming voice and the smell of ale, there was very little left. Sadly, Leo knew there were many like him, both in Syliras and elsewhere.

He bit on his lip and continued his work, predicting from experience how this thing would end and knowing that nothing he could do would actually help Lina right now; it would only make Allistir more furious. Leo possessed neither the physical strength nor the authority to stand up to Allistir, at any rate. He would just console his mother later, when they were alone... He narrowed his eyes upon hearing the slap, and continued to load the kiln. That was until the cry of pain.

Leo was shocked by the scream, being louder and more desperate than those he was used to. He had always hoped that Allistir would know when to stop, if anything because his wife kept his business going, but perhaps even that was too much for the parasite to understand? The boy rushed outside towards the source of the commotion, unsure what he could do but driven by an instinct he could not resist.
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Re: [Flashback] Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Postby Gossamer on June 10th, 2009, 9:15 pm

As Leo carefully unloaded the kiln, the plates he stacked fully cooled showed his designs reproduced. They were lovely geometric designs carefully interlocked. Lina had been letting him add glaze to her creations for quite some time now, and found he had a knack for intriguing glyph-like patterns carefully drawn. They always sold well, though Allistir had always shook his head (believing painting to be the realm of women) but hadn't said much to censure the practice of the boy helping in the shop. Work was work, and if it sold their ceramic goods, it was no skin off his nose. Painting with his mother, or even painting while she threw clay was a calm experience. Sometimes Lina would sing and othertimes she'd just quietly tell him stories.

On his fifteenth birthday earlier that year, Lina had sat with him as he loaded the kiln (yes, Allistir required one work on ones birthday) and told him one of the most amazing stories he'd ever remembered hearing. It was one of the Valterrian Tales... of how Morwen and Isur and a whole cohort of other gods had imprisoned Ivak the god of fire in the mountains of Kalea in a peak called Fireheart just above Mirror Lake. The tale had been filled with fire, the molten fury of a God denied his love and mad in his rage. While Lina was spinning the tale (for she was quite good at storytelling), Leo could actually feel the heat of the burning anger Ivak showed, and how the mountains had reshuffled and rose up to do his bidding before the other gods had been able to finally take him down. A part of him rose to the tale... understood it... and wondered what it would be like to command fire so completely... as to be able to make the whole of the world burn.

Quietly, he'd asked her a question after the tale was done. "Mother, how did you come to hear that story?". Lina had paused a long time afterwards. There were tales, and then there were tales... some were repeated, like the story of the Valterrian itself, though in those repeated tales there were no magic. But in this tale... it was a tale like one told when one had been there, first hand, or had heard it told from someone else who had... someone who had the passion of living the story itself. Then quietly, Lina began to speak.

"Before you were born, there was a man who came to visit your father. Allistir was upset that he was here, but he stayed for a month. They were raised together, as brothers, though they were not so in flesh. Alvias was a Reinmancer and a priest of Ivak, a powerful one who came I think out of duty to Allistir. Allistir wanted nothing to do with him because he felt they weren't really family. Alvias was adopted, as were many children in his youth... disease ran rampant and if the children didn't die, parents often did in those days. So Allistir's family took him in as a babe. But Alvias wasn't like him, any of them, and even though his adoptive father had the ceramic shop, there wasn't much here to keep him. He wandered, to other cities, looking for his real family and chasing stories."
Lina said, then with a knowing gaze looked intensely at Leo. "You are a lot like him. Different. Not suited so well for this work, even though you do a good job. Allistir treated him much like he treats you... because you are so different. Slight, smart, questioning... that was Alvias to a core. Sometimes, I think you remind him of his brother, and that makes him angry. Someday though, you should meet him and you will understand what I mean." She had said, a message in her eyes that wasn't in her words.

"There is a fire burning in you Leo. I can see it... everyone can... which is why you are so good at the kilns. I tremble thinking of the day some young woman will catch your eye or your father will push you too far. I am just thankful your spirit is tempered with your good common sense." She had said softly, then had changed the subject. They never spoke of Alvias again, though sometimes Leo would see her pick up something - usually one of her fire designs, and smile wistfully in the same way she did when she told him the story of Ivak.

Leo snapped back to the present. Allistir. Lina. As he moved towards the source of the commotion, it seemed it was coming from the open aired kitchen that was built into the stone house that spilled outward onto a patio in the rear of the home. Food. Allistir was frequently upset about Lina's cooking. It wasn't that she was a bad cook, it was simply that her talents ran towards ceramics. The food she made was plain fair, healthy, but nothing spectacular. And if there was something Allistir loved as much as his booze, it was his food.
Lina was the definite source of Allistir's rage, but this was something new. The whole mood seemed different somehow. His father's eyes had a dangerous glint about them as Leo moved into a position in the doorway where he could see. He'd also dropped his voice to a low dangerous tone. Allistir had Lina's hair coiled around his fist like a serpent and was talking to her in a low dangerous voice. Her left eye was already blackened, and she was trembling though trying not to cry, which never was a good idea because Allistir preferred to 'give her something to cry about' when she did. "I saw the letter." He said in a dangerous voice. "Why would he be asking about Leo? Why are you even writing him? I didn't even know you could write you stupid whore. Thats right. You don't think I don't know? He looks just like him. Just like him!" Allistir said in a dark voice.

Lina's voice was soft, pain filled, as she answered Allistir. "You're wrong. It's not what you think." Allistir roared at this. "It's exactly what I think. I'm not blind woman... I know how you females are, getting into a heat around anyone... and everyone. How did you like it? Did you beg him? It was probably a mercy tryst, you know... on his part... because you are a pathetic ugly little thing." He slapped Lina again, harder now than he had before and blood trickled from the corner of Lina's mouth even as she clenched her teeth to try and stop the cry. Allistir liked her making sounds of pain, the little wounded noises. "My own brother.... Lina... how in the world could you?" He said, as if he were the one hurt rather than her, for all that he was doing the hitting. "I see it every day. He's a lot like his father... nose in a book, slacking at work. Did he pay you? Did you take his coin to spread your legs?" The man said in a growl, slapping Lina again. "No.. Allistir.. .its not like that.. not what you think."

Allistir used his fist this time, and Lina couldn't help but cry out. But it wasn't enough. He released her hair and got her by the neck, his beefy fingers tightening around her delicate throat. "I can't even stand to look at you, knowing the truth. I can't stand to think about him at all. All I see is you two together Lina." His mother's eyes were bulging and she'd turned red in the face, starting to struggle where Allistir had cut off her air. "I know I compromised you in front of your family... you know why I did it right?" He said as he choked her. "I knew... I know my brother wanted you. He was going to ask you to marry him too. I knew if your father caught me having a little too much fun with you, then you'd have no choice but to marry me. I needed you for the ceramic shop, Lina... but now I have other workers. I needed you and didn't want him to have you. But I was a little late in my plan wasn't I, Lina? He got there first. He already gave you a babe... didn't he? I know he tried to stop the marriage. I wasn't going to let him. I arranged for him to be gone when I made the move and we had the wedding... it was the one sure way of making certain I got what I wanted and he didn't. I got the shop. I got you. He got nothing. He deserved nothing... he wasn't even flesh and blood. All he had was a moment of spilling his seed between your legs before I could do it. I still hate him for that. I have you for that as well. But that doesn't make you any less mine... mine to do with as I see fit." Allistir said, giving Lina's head a nasty twist. He hadn't seen Leo at the door yet, nor realized the boy was overhearing everything.

Lina went still after that. Absolutely still.
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Re: [Flashback] Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Postby Leo Varniak on June 16th, 2009, 8:08 pm

Leo did not miss a single word, a single image of what was going on between Allistir and Lina. As he started to overhear the argument, his initial rush lost most of its intensity over the scant few meters he had to bridge. A part of him felt a pang of guilt at his own reaction, for he was supposed to help out his mother, after all. Of course, there was little he could have done anyways. He was a slight kid, and it seemed he was also the main reason of Allistir's aggravation, but still... he was supposed to launch himself at that ogre of a parent without hesitation, wasn't he?

He didn't, though. His father's words and Lina's broken replies froze him where he stood, like some old clockwork in need of winding. He watched Allistir with the distant interest one might feel upon finding out that some birds can speak. Surely this thing could not have been human? Perhaps this was a monster that happened to have found some human flesh to wear? Leo had heard about such creatures, and while Syliras claimed to be the safest place on Mizahar, that did not make it a safe place.

But no, he chastised himself for entertaining the childish possibility. Mizahar's real monsters wore boots and worked for coin; they had two arms, two legs and one wicked head. Why the gods allowed them to live, Leo did not know, but he suspected the divine had exactly the same problem within their own ranks. Good had been lax and evil had corrupted the world, that was the truth of it (or at least, it was in Leo's eyes, which tended to view every occurrence in life as a proof of some universal concept). And to think people had been given an opportunity to start over with the Valterrian... and they'd thrown it away like that.

The tale of the Valterrian was perhaps the most fascinating to young Leo, probably because it was so ambiguous and it tended to escape his black-and-white approach to things. Even now that a little Valterrian was taking place before his eyes, he could not be sure if Ivak had been right or wrong. Leo found himself picturing Galifer Odalah with Allistir's face and Kova being Lina, and could not help but think history was repeating itself in some way. The fire in Leo just longed for the same power as Ivak's, so he could delete the things that gave him pain. The ice in him, though, abhorred wanton, unfocused destruction. He would carry this inner struggle for the rest of his life.

He watched himself watch the beating, hearing a story that was not completely new to him, but cast the entirety of his life in a different light. As the full amount of Allistir's bestiality was revealed, Leo felt his stomach churn and thought he was going to vomit. He did not cry, for he never did, but breathing became increasingly hard and he found himself clenching reddened fists alongside his body.

He did not know if Alvias was his real father, but he knew that he'd rather have been sired by a hyena than this talking thing that held Lina in its clutches.

There was a sharp twist, and Lina did not move anymore. Leo's dark eyes went wide and he finally stepped forward, like an automaton. His voice was also low and mechanical as he took in the scene unfolding in front of him with a simple "What have you done?"
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Re: [Flashback] Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Postby Gossamer on August 2nd, 2009, 10:35 pm

The words came from somewhere deep inside Leo. They weren't a question really - both men knew what had been done. One, older than he should be by an excessive lifestyle, had a sense that those words were like a weapon being pulled from a sheath. The second, younger by far than the first but suddenly catapulted into manhood by what he'd just witnessed, felt something inside himself - like the great doors of a stronghold - flung open and something dark and dangerous released. Allistir let the limp flesh sack in his hands fall away from him as he turned towards this new danger. Leo had always been a strange threatening child with an unusual dark look in his eyes - watchful - like he missed nothing, like he judged everything.

Allistir was tired of being judged. His rage saw to it that he wouldn't have to be any more.

Leo's internal temperature spiked.

Allistir's opened his mouth to speak, but sneered instead, bravo masking his fear and uncertainty of this strange boy who he was certain was no product of his own loins. His fists balled up, and he advanced. Leo was the problem. Lina's infidelity would have gone unremarked expect that the little worm planted itself in her body and leached off of her for nine months thereafter. Allistir's rage rose, and he roared even as Lina's limp form hit the floor. Enough. ENOUGH! All his life he'd been second best, out classed, looked down upon, and judged by everyone as being not rich enough, not sophisticated enough, no good enough to marry or pay full price too for his valuable products. Leo... all his anger and resentment for his own personal shortcomings focused on the boy who thought he was so much better than the man.

"What I should have done a long long time ago."
Allistir roared, and stomped towards Leo. Along the way his beefy left foot crunched down on Lina's outstretched lifeless arm. He didn't seem to notice, but it was almost a sacrilege to the outsider, someone not inside Allistir's skin.

Those flung open gates in Leo's mind filled with raw power. He had training, more than enough, and a gift for building heat within himself that was almost impossible for him to contain. He had emotions that ran deep, though rarely unchecked, and the little love he had in his life centered around the outstretched corpse on the floor. Allistir stole all the best things out of the world. Sometimes, the man Leo refused to call 'father' even seemed to absorb the heat and light, which were both precious to the young kiln master. Chains that held fast within Leo somehow loosened. Anger built, and it was indeed so like the Valterrian that somewhere, far to the west in a land Leo had never seen, a God shifted in his imprisoned slumber and took notice. It wasn't the first time, for often Leo's dreams were of fire and rage. Sometimes they were so strong he woke with his arms giving off steam and a thirst so deep he could drink an entire bucket fresh and cold from the well. Those times had been different though, a precipitous wait that seemed to linger the whole of his youth. But when the great god smiled, even in his sleep, Leo felt the last confines of his common sense slip away. Instead, he heard a whisper deep inside... a whisper of fire and great molten strength... grant him permission to be what he truly was. "You are only yourself. Be that, not what he wants, and not what she needed." And for a moment, a simple moment, he felt something entwine his soul, something that for the first time in his life - even in the atmosphere of death and pain and rage - that approved wholeheartedly of what he was. Hands, ghostly and yet still molten with passion, caressed his shoulders and trailed down across his back, branding him along his spine with a single lick of flame. "You are Leo. You are not his. You were not ever really hers. You belong only to yourself. Be yourself. Free yourself. He is not worthy to even fuel your fire, though you should let him. He will be the first... only the first... on your path towards me." A voice whispered, as if a man stood behind him, smoldering, though the space itself was empty.

Leo felt it then, even as time seemed to stand still for the unearthly conversation. He was the cleansing touch of fire. He himself. Not Allistir, not his dead mother, not even the voice who was not even really there. He had within himself something so vast, something so hot, it demanded release. He knew the arcane words. He knew the dangers of releasing too much. But life had been too much... to long had he taken the abuse and said nothing. The brand on his back, its flames licking skyward, was an invitation and permission all at once.

Allistir snarled, fist raised, poised to unleash his bullish hatred on Leo. But something in Leo's expression gave him pause... just a slight pause, as he pulled his fist back and prepared to cold cock the youth in the face, driving him to the same place he'd driven Lina.
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Re: [Flashback] Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Postby Leo Varniak on August 3rd, 2009, 8:57 pm

It was a short, endless moment. Leo stood paralyzed, ready to make peace with himself and his short life, for he was certainly going to die here. Allistir would never allow a witness of his evil to survive if he had any say in it, and the boy was in no way capable of fighting him. If he ran, if he wanted to run, he would be caught sooner or later. But in truth, he had no desire nor will to even flee from this horror, for he was already dead. All the wretched assassin had to do was tie some loose ends with Leo's physical shell, wrapping up the job so to speak.

What was the meaning, he wondered. The reason, Leo always looked for a reason why things happened. He had never understood why he was alive, for what strange reason the universe had bothered to let him exist. Was it simply to let him experience pain, only to proceed to a quick curtainfall afterwards? What kind of wicked place was this? Why? Why? Why?

Surprisingly, the answer came to him. Surprisingly at first, but tinged with a sense of familiarity after the initial shock. He was not alone. He would never be alone. The presence inside him, beside him, locked far away and yet still vigilant, had imparted a great truth into him. He had done so over years of powerful dreams, without Leo ever realizing just what he was learning. All those nights spent in the oppressive heat of his own mind, he was studying how to bring forth the power he so loved. As the last piece of the puzzle clicked into place, a mark that felt like a contract being sealed with fire, all that knowledge finally made sense.

Leo wondered, in that short, endless instant, how much Lina knew, how much she had suspected. He grieved her whole-heartedly, his heart rippling with terrible pain and at the same time swearing that it would never agonize so again. Then the time for pain came to an end. Fire did not feel pain, it caused it. Fire could make Allistir disappear, and all those wicked things in the world as well.

That was why.

It took Leo two seconds to pass judgment, a whisper of hate. "You Have No Right To Exist," he spoke, and then it rose from his bowels like vomit. It was ironic how they called it, heartburn. Leo knew what this feeling meant - he was pouring his very soul out, showing off its vermillion colors. He felt the substance travel up his throat and he opened his jaws like some beast, allowing the flame to devour anything on its path. Namely, Allistir Varniak. The first name on a cosmic list of trash that should have not been born.

Even universes made mistakes at times. People like Leo were born to fix them. And that was why.
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Re: [Flashback] Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Postby Gossamer on August 4th, 2009, 8:20 pm

It was as if the very words Leo uttered, that fateful judgment, solidified as the Res boiled up his throat and released itself out into the very air along with his proclamation. His rage and his solid firm belief in his absolute judgment made the words burn. It was not the inferno of a seasoned reinmancer or a carefully calcuated use of a weapon well-practiced. Instead it was an explosion of djed and rage that co-mingled with something else ... something the voice in his head fused his mind with the knowledge of: Fire. It did not burn him. He knew it wouldn't, not now, not with the mark of flame licking up his back. It made him kin with the blaze, first and foremost, even though other elements would be at his command in the distant future.

Brother to fire.

His inferno of rage sluiced upwards - out of him from the depths of his soul, expanding, driven and splashed into Allistir, catching the man completely unaware. His 'father' screamed in the sudden rage and pain of surprise. But it didn't end there. The fire kept coming out of him, driven by res he didn't know he had, expanding outward, igniting furniture and the heavy drapes over the windows. It spilled across the floor and caught at Lina's hair, igniting it too. Leo had no control except a strange sense of disconnect, of having made a choice, of taking a step forward on a pathway he wasn't aware was there before. It felt good too, in a dangerous way, like the pressure had been building up inside him in place he hadn't realized - places that had been hurting with the poison they contained for ages. His senses ignited as the pressure drained, feeling relief even as he watched Alilstairs clothing. The big man screamed, repeatedly and began slapping at himself as if to put the fire out. But there was no way he could. Fire covered Allistirs hands, his arms, even began melting his hair as he screamed, forgetting all about Leo's presence. The man bolted, first one way then the other, seeking relief or a way to remove himself from the fire. The door was behind Leo, and the flames of ignited res had already coated the floor. Allistirs panic just lead to the fire spreading further, faster, threatening to take the whole house with it.

His mother was already lost to it. But in her consumption, there was no horror, not like there was in Allistirs. He died badly, taking the entire house with him.... and although Leo could not even feel the slightest burn from the flames that surrounded him, he couldn't survive in a place burning down around him; at least not yet.

"Move." The voice within his mind said. "Move yourself. You've made a choice and a judgement, but now you just make another and not let the first decision be your last." It was clear, the door was behind him and he could get out through it... should move through it. Allistir screamed again as smoke began to billow black and threatening, from the floors, the walls, even from the corpse on the floor. Leo had to decide, one more time, what he was going to do.
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Re: [Flashback] Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Postby Leo Varniak on August 8th, 2009, 8:49 pm

Leo coughed, though not from the smoke that was about to engulf the room, but simply out of the sheer feeling of release he experienced. It was as if a lifetime of pent up rage had been unleashed as fiery vomit ravaged Allistir's pathetic form. His panicked running left and right was fascinating to watch, and Leo felt very proud that it was all his doing. Everything made sense now, everything had turned out the way it was supposed to be, and it left him with a lingering sense of fulfillment.

Leo bowed, and bowed deep, to Lina's fallen figure. "Thank you, and farewell," he whispered in the flames. She would never be forgotten, but Leo realized that fate had severed all his ties for a specific reason. His life no longer belonged to him; no, he was to be a mere instrument of an idea. Not necessarily Ivak's idea, but his own. The idea that no-one should suffer at the hand of the wicked. The idea that the wicked should all burn.

He turned around, casting a last glance at the murderous Allistir completely wrapped in blazing fire, and smiled. "Many more will follow," he announced with the dancing flames and raging sparks as his witnesses. "The world needs to burn some more." With that, he nodded at the unseen voice that ordered him out of the house and left it with quick, purposeful strides. He stopped outside to watch the destruction of his house - there were so many bad memories about it that seeing it burn brought an immense feeling of liberation to the boy.

It would all be labeled as an incident, Leo was certain. No-one would think of it as something other than a tragic coincidence - the place being so close to a kiln would only reinforce that impression. No-one would even pay any special attention to the lack of tears on the son's part, being that he had never shed a tear before. Besides, the very hypothesis of him burning down his own inheritance would immediately cross him out from any suspicion. It pained Leo that Allistir's foul crime would have to remain secret, as he wished to burn the man's memory like he did the body, but he did not have an option. He mentally apologized to Lina for that.

He sat down at a safe distance and watched the house as it was about to collapse. He burned it in his memory, for his old self was burning with it. Leo Varniak the budding ceramic artist was dead. Leo Varniak the Red Justice was born. Probably the only man in Syliras who was willing to do what needed doing.
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Re: [Flashback] Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Postby Gossamer on August 9th, 2009, 1:28 am

Leo would find, in the days and months to come, that while the voice in his head wasn't a constant presence, it still offered advice and guided him in the difficult times that followed. For the days were dark. - full of the loss of his mother, the loss of his home, and learning to survive a whole new way. There was nothing to grieve about in regards to Allistir, though there was a noted loss of innocence - or more accurately stated - an acute knowledge of the lack of childhood Leo experienced. The kilns of Varniak Ceramic Works went dark forever, but the truth was a new fire was ignited. And through that smoldering flame the voice guided him into one thing...

"Seek Alvias. He is my priest and you are not so different from him. You share blood and ability that he is uniquely suited to guide you with. Hon your skills, gather yourself together in ... and seek me. You're self discovery and gathering will take time - perhaps years. But be sure you are ready before you set out to find me. We will have need of each other, by the time you're ready to truly make that dangerous journey."

One thing Leo realized quickly was that he had enemies. Bearing a mark of flame like Leo had now did one thing. It made him an enemy of anyone who'd ever suffered because of the Valterrian. Ivak followers were almost unheard of. Reinmancers which played with fire who also bore the mark of Ivak were something of legend. Most wouldn't tolerate the truth if they knew it. All would fear what it might mean. The mark was dangerous. The mark was empowering as well. He could tell from the sensation of the brand between his shoulder blades that his relationship with fire was different; more intimate. Time would reveal the how and why of it.

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Experience: 2 xp Reinmancy (fire)
Kill Record: Allistir Varniak
Additional Notes: SS thread added to record Ivak's Gnosis Mark - viewtopic.php?f=82&t=304
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