Author Topic: An Unfamiliar Darkness - a story of Ashan Nottiams  (Read 1388 times)

Eledaar

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An Unfamiliar Darkness - a story of Ashan Nottiams
« on: July 28, 2008, 02:36:57 PM »
The last five years had not been good to the intrepid Banite....

Indeed, as he trudged through the forests of Cormanthor, a vital missive meant for Zhentil keep sat heavily on his shoulders.  Well, literally, in the awkwardly small traveler's satchel that was slung across his massive shoulders.  The metaphorical burden was massive, however.

His size fourteen shoes barely tatters clinging to his ankles, he decides to sit down, nestling against the roots of an ancient oak.  He chews a piece of mystery jerky slowly, enjoying the sound of his teeth gnashing as he reflects...

Five years....
a long time to travel Toril and the lands south of the Great Dale.


Thinking to himself, he misses the bitter, harsh cold of Narfell and Rashemen.  He yearns for the sound his massive blade makes as it struggles to push its way past an elf's diminuative rib cage - as if it was a diver gasping for air as he tries to swim past weak, soggy vegetation in a lake.  He pauses, wondering why that popped into his mind - he shakes it off.  It had been months since he had even performed any proper sacrificial rites.  Sure, it wasn't easy to resist burning down and pillaging the small settlements he founds on the way - but he couldn't have Helmites hunting him up and down the Dalelands.

The end of his journey, however, was at hand.  He had grown grizzled and.... older, since his pillaging days anyway.  His joints creaked from overuse - bearing loads of more than a hundred fifty stone through long jogs in the Nars wood - skewering bugbears by the dozen.  Soon he would take his rightful place at the court of his Lord Fzoul.

... he hopes.  He grimaces, thinking what may befall of him once his failure is reported.  Yet, the work he had done was good.  Very good.  Surely the Church of the Black Hand was more firmly rooted in the Nars Pass and the surrounding lands than ever before.  Yet, there was a suspicion in his mind.....

What was that?

Ashan gets up quickly, his raucous armor frightening off all woodland creatures in a massive perimeter.

He looks at the parting fog with narrowed eyes.  He sees no deer, however, but the figure of a hooded man in flowing black robes.  Suddenly, his eyes get wide...

"Lord?  Have you come to me again?  I never betrayed you Lord!  I only searched for power unbound as you had told me!
The Demon I made a pact with... I did not mean it Lord!  I am still yours!"

the figure, however, does not respond... only stands just at the end of his visibility, so he cannot make it out.


Leaving behind his Darksteel shield and the cruel, shining Coldforged bastard sword on the ground, he stumbles forward to the figure.

"Lord, why have you forsaken me?!  Who was once one of your High Priests!"

But the figure is gone.  Ashan stops, his arms outstretched still, tears nearly streaming down his weathered face - when the fog suddenly begins to close around him.
He panicks and guns it for his sword, but he cannot even see the oak he was resting at any more.
He falls to his knees and prays to the Black Hand - begging for deliverance from this unknown.... this unfamiliar darkness.
A small green light ebbs from his hand, but even that is consumed by the swirling mists.

Darkness.

and then the sound of gypsy drums...
-Ashan Nottiams, Mad Bastard
-Cosmin Slabu, Garda
-Grom, Rat-Eating Scumbag

Eledaar

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Re: An Unfamiliar Darkness - a story of Ashan Nottiams
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2008, 08:37:05 PM »
A very young Ashan sits at the head of a long dining table in a cavernous stone hall, his massive head propped up on an equally massive arm

His plate clean to a speck, he plays with a young mastiff under the table, engaging in a battle of tug-of-war with the massive dog, one hand on his end of the goat's femur.

"How are your studies at the academy?"
A woman at the other end of the long table, barely visible through the dim candlelight, calls out to him.

"... fine." He shifts as the dog makes a power play, lunging for his hand.  He playfully tussles its head.

"Are your instructors teaching you anything?  We pay good money for your tuition there."

"We?"

"Your father and I."

"He is not my father."

The woman scowls severely at her end of the table.  "You will learn to respect Roderick.  He is a good man!  He has brought this tiny Lordship a long way since your birth father died!  We are no longer country nobility, eating with the peasants and scraping by a living in a cold, dark keep. We-"

Ashan rises abruptly, raising his voice, which is booming and deep for a youth, "He can't even hold a proper blade!  And he treats you, a proper Lady like a common whore in public!"

A coldness comes over the room.  "... If you ever want to be a Knight in service to Torm - you will learn not to use such language."  The woman gets up politely and quietly and glides out of the massive hall into one of the dark antechambers - her meal sits untouched.

"... Mother... I didn't mean..." Ashan sighs, holding his hand in his head - all that can be heard is the dog's constant chewing.

------------------------

In a well-lit, pristine training room, Ashan sweats bullets as he sidesteps, covered head-to-toe in heavy plate armor.

"STEP!  STEP!  STEP!  SWING!" An instructor bellows, unseen.

Ashan attacks unconventionally, swinging wide... somewhat unwieldly with the longsword, which is seems to be engulfed by his massive mits.

"WRONG!  AGAIN!"

Ashan's breaths are slow and calculated, however, and though the instructor will not tell him so, he shows great potential.  They go through the drill a couple dozen more times before Ashan is on the floor, his chest heaving with each breath and his armor rattling.  He removes his helmet as the academy's young stableboy (acting as a squire) rushes to help him remove his armor.  Ashan sighs, nodding in thanks.  He turns his head lazily to look out the solitary window.

---------------

A year or so passes between this scene and the last, but the setting is the same - the academy.

Ashan is training again... his instructor having fitted him with a much larger sword, called by some a bastard blade because of it's appearance as a cross between a greatsword and a longsword.  He is beginning to look more like a knight now - not leaving himself open as often, attacking more swiftly... still, the most apparent thing about the man is his determination.  He is always the last squire standing.  The other rich, young nobles have all retired and it is late... Ashan still persists at the combat dummy, growling with effort as his triceps stretch to the point of failure - he drops his sword and calls over the stableboy, who has patiently been waiting for him to finish.

"...Thanks."  He smiles weakly down at the boy who undoes the many straps and takes off the most constricting plates.
The boy is completely silent, just trying to avoid a beating.

Ashan gets up, leaving his armor and sword where they lie, and proceeds to the stables.  As he walks, adjusting his riding gloves, he looks around... it is dusk, and hard to see much of anything except the last rays of sunset, but Ashan narrows his eyes.  He spots an outline of a hooded figure... watching him?  He turns to face it, but the shadow is gone.  He shakes his head and rides home, pushing the horse to its limit.

He arrives, the horse nearly buckling under his weight despite the short journey.
"Leave it with the other lame beasts.  I will want a fresh one tomorrow." He snaps without even looking who is attending to the stables.

"Ruining all my good horses, boy?"  A man chuckles.

Ashan looks over, his brow furrowing with a deep frown.  "Roderick, good evening."

The man frowns back.  "You ungrateful whelp.  You have never worked in your life.  For the past ten years, I have provided for you and your mother.  You owe me at least your respect!"

"I owe you nothing, old man.  What do I care for your money?  You merchants are all alike - you care for nothing but gold and the comforts of life.  Perhaps if you had some honor, I could resp-"

Ashan pauses, touching his stinging face.  Was he just slapped?  Roderick is standing (though not a small man, a full foot under Ashan's nose) with his face flushing red, his fists clenched at his sides.  "If *I* had honor?  Why else do you think I care for you, brat?  You are not my flesh and blood!  What obligation do I have to you?  None!  And you call me dishonorable?!  I have worked for everything I own, unlike you."

Ashan glowers at the man, his shoulders quaking with restraint.

"You will get NOTHING from me from now on!  Do you hear me?!"

Ashan sighs, his shoulders slumping.  "It does not matter to me... just leave me be."

"You wil leave the academy!  You will work for a living!  If it's the end of me, you will OBEY!"

"If my father were here, he would have ran you through by now.  There was a great man."  Ashan spits at Roderick's feet.

"Alastair Nottiams was a hedge lord and a peasant.  It is good he died when you were but a babe, or perhaps this estate would have passed onto your irresponsib-" Roderick stares straight at Ashan, challenging his manhood, but is cut short as Ashan's massive hand darts out... much faster now that it is freed of the heavy blade it has become accustomed to swinging.

"NEVER mention my father's name again, or I will tear your arms off and use them to clean your gullet, old man!" Ashan's eyes are bulging and getting redder by the second as he holds Roderick by the throat.  The struggling man attacks Ashan's forearms with his elbows to no avail.  "My father was a KNIGHT.  He was a GOOD MAN, and you will never be near his equal as a father, as a husband, as a MAN!"  Ashan is still shouting as the squirming begins to get slower.  Ashan roars, still in a blind rage, and throws Roderick down on the ground triumphantly - feeling good about himself he begins to walk out.

... but he was expecting a speech about how he will be hunted, how he can never return upon penalty of death... at least some kind of vague threat.  He shakes his head and keeps walking - perhaps he really cowed the man.  Perhaps he was too harsh.... such behaviors are not fitting of a future Knight... perhaps.. his father would not have approved?  Ashan turns around to appologize only to find Roderick exactly as he left him.  He frowns, walking back towards Roderick.  He stoops down and looks at the man's eyes... completely red and open, looking as if they were ready to pop out of his head.  He is not breathing.

"Oh shit.  Oh shit."  Ashan's eyes get panicky as he tries to resuscitate the man, using what meager methods have been taught to him at the academy.  "Oh shit.  Roderick, wake up.  Oh shit."

He looks about hurriedly, but nobody is around.  He begins to back away from the body slowly, he looks around... and he sees the outline of the hooded figure again... for a second, his heart stops.  But once again, the figure is gone.

Ashan runs out of the stables, and just keeps on running.
-Ashan Nottiams, Mad Bastard
-Cosmin Slabu, Garda
-Grom, Rat-Eating Scumbag

Eledaar

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Re: An Unfamiliar Darkness - a story of Ashan Nottiams
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2008, 03:48:55 PM »
It was hours, not days before Ashan was caught in the woods that once belonged to his father - covered in filth and grime, drenched in his own sweat and wild-eyed like a beast at the end of the hunt.  He was unarmed and the hunting party took him easily, though not without complaint from him.

"Traitors!!  Traitors!!  You, I remember you!"  Ashan points a muddy finger at one of the men surrounding him.  "You served my father!  You know I am the rightful heir to these woods.  This is MY LAND!"  The group of men advanced grimly, mouths stitched to a line.  In the end, Ashan gave in - his head slumped between his shoulders, heavy with the burden of guilt.

The youth's features had become haggard overnight.  It was dawn when they rode through the keep's gates with a bound Ashan in tow, seated atop a heavy pack horse.  His platinum blond hair was matted with filth.  On the ramparts, his mother turns away with a gasp, cover her face with a silk handkerchief... she is dressed in the black of mourning.

The guards said nothing to him, in fact the entire keep was silent as Ashan was marched into the dungeons and left to sit bound in a jail cell.

------------

That evening, his meal came on a simple wooden tray... gruel and slop - certainly not what he was used to, but he was ravenous.  He leaped at the food and began spooning it into his mouth with his hands.  He looks up, slop dripping down the side of his mouth, as he hears soft footfalls on stone... not a guard's step.

His mother's face appears from the shadows - obscured by a black veil and wreathed in the dim torchlight of the dungeon.
"My child... what darkness has befallen you?"  Her voice is hollow, almost begging permission not to speak.

"M-mother..." Ashan stutters weakly.  "It was an accident.  It was not my intent to end his life, but he insulted my fat-"

"Your father has been dead for over a decade Ashan!  And now you have no father.  You have killed the man who has cared for us... the man I grew to love.  You have done a terrible thing.  Did you know that they expelled you from the academy when they heard?  They said that you will never be a knight, much less in Torm's service...."

Ashan grows silent at his mother's words, he looks down at his food, no longer hungry.  "... leave me, then.  They will hang me for this, I know."

-Ashan Nottiams, Mad Bastard
-Cosmin Slabu, Garda
-Grom, Rat-Eating Scumbag

Eledaar

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Re: An Unfamiliar Darkness - a story of Ashan Nottiams
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2008, 06:28:56 PM »

As he lay on the cold, stone floor of the dungeon cell, his blood mingled with the feces of rats and his own piss and stink.  And slowly, his thoughts turned to that night more than fifteen years ago, now, when he lay in a cell similar to this one, awaiting his hanging in the morning.

And suddenly a smile curled where the ravaged, faceless doll of a man once had lips.

------------------------------------------
Past: Ashan, 17 years of age, about to be executed.

It was terribly dark, so dark that the young man's eyes could not adjust to see the various rodents skittering about his bound feet.  His face had become craggy from the filth and tears caked onto it - he was beaten regularly and his mother had not visited in weeks.  Tomorrow, he would be dead, and he was broken and silent.

A flash of movement, he felt the air brush against his cheek... he gasps, sickly.

He hears robes brushing against stone, scraping and dragging away the beginnings of lichens and blossoming molds.  He hears the sound of a single footfall stopping in front of his cell door, but he sees nothing.  Suddenly he sees, The Stranger, and there is a flash of recognition in the young man's bruised eyes - and they grow wide in the dark cell.  This is the figure he had seen skirting the shadows and borders of his vision over the weeks leading up to Roderick's demise.  His lip began to quiver, terror gripping his heart in its unyielding, steely vice.  He wanted to scream, he yearned to spit, to vomit, to expel something from his cavernous, gaping maw which only begged to swallow the unabated darkness and enter it, merging forever in oblivion.... but no.

The Stranger smiled, his teeth so bright they gleamed terribly, almost magically, beaming from beneath his hood, piercing the darkness with their light.  Ashan began to crawl backwards in the cell as The Stranger approached, his smile growing ever wider, and wider, until Ashan could look no more at the impossibly wide grin.  The last thing Ashan saw was the figure stroking his long, blonde hair, magically inside his cell, a thin tendril of green light crawling towards Ashan's mouth.  Darkness.



Ashan awoke to the sound of scraping bone, as his sword slid easily into the woman's ribcage, her expression was one of ultimate terror.  He blinked, letting her down to the ground slowly as her warm life's blood pumped out onto his swordhand.  He blinked again, the image becoming clearer - he knew this woman?  He pulls out his sword and looks at it, pausing a moment.  His tongue flicks out and he laps a droplet up off the wide blade.  What?  Why did he just do that?  His brow furrowed intensely, he wonders what is going on.  He bends down to look at her face... just a servant girl.
I have to find Mother....
« Last Edit: December 18, 2008, 01:36:31 AM by Eledaar »
-Ashan Nottiams, Mad Bastard
-Cosmin Slabu, Garda
-Grom, Rat-Eating Scumbag

Eledaar

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Re: An Unfamiliar Darkness - a story of Ashan Nottiams
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2008, 05:48:05 PM »
In the coming weeks, he would wake many times from the foreboding darkness of delirium and amnesia.  Each time, he would find a more terrible deed perpetrated by his hands, or so it might seem.  It was as if he was under a terrible spell that had torn away his will, though his conscience still thrived - and it pained him so.

And they hunted him, a feared rogue and outlaw on his own estate.  Each time, he laid their cold bodies on the ground, groups of five, ten men lay dead at his feet.  He was never a skilled fighter, average if anything, and his prowess astounded him.  After one such event on a cool summer morn, he washed himself of the blood and gore of his countrymen in a small lake at the edge of the forest, and he looked down into his reflection... the sun beaming behind him, he grabbed at his long silky locks of hair - once blond as the very sun, he had... paled, as if color had been drained from his very soul.  He tried cutting it, but the long platinum locks grew back within days, not weeks.  It was as if he was possessed, he thought to himself.

And then... perhaps this was not such an impossibility?  Perhaps this monstrous lust for the blood of his kin was not of his making.  Perhaps his soul, however stained and darkened, had some small chance at redemption in the best of all possible worlds....

Unbeknown to Ashan, this was not that world, and soon he was swiftly plunged back into oblivion... and this time, like any of the others, he heard one word before the darkness consumed him....

"Bane"
-Ashan Nottiams, Mad Bastard
-Cosmin Slabu, Garda
-Grom, Rat-Eating Scumbag

Eledaar

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Re: An Unfamiliar Darkness - a story of Ashan Nottiams
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2008, 01:06:19 PM »
Present Day

---------------------------

His hair stuck to his neck and face in long, tangled braids, matted with sweat.  His eyes flew open, the pupils but a pinpoint against a vast emerald cornea, his eyelids trembled.  He stuttered the name of his mother, staring at the wooden ceiling of the Lady's, eyes brimming with pain and almost tears.  His chest rose and fell rapidly, as if he'd just left the battlefield, and he felt helpless lying there, remembering the night before....

Ashan's whole body groans with the effort as he holds back the unstoppable, unimaginable force that is his own apparition's sword arm.  Tears stream down his face as imaginary tendons strain and snap.  The banshee writhes in the corner, her skin peeling off her body even as she shrieks in agony
"HOW COULD YOU?!  MY SON!"
Ashan glances back at his own mother's face and screams, managing to somehow overpower the apparition - he turns to reach for his mother, but already another has appeared, and even as he is grappling with himself, the other strikes down, again, and again, and again, spraying his face with her blood.  Ashan lets out a final nightmarish howl, cursing the hooded puppeteer, watching, and collapses in a pool of sweat and blood
-Ashan Nottiams, Mad Bastard
-Cosmin Slabu, Garda
-Grom, Rat-Eating Scumbag

Eledaar

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Re: An Unfamiliar Darkness - a story of Ashan Nottiams
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2008, 03:25:28 PM »
Present Day
----------------------------------------

Ashan licked his lips tortuously slow - his fingers trembling as he thumbed the edges of the package he had received from Bianca.  No sender, only addressed to him....

It was a message from the world of dreams, he knew.  It was a message in more way than one, as well, as the creature continuously asserted its power upon the physical realm - this was just another display.  He cracked the seal on it with his forefingers and ripped away the rough wrapping as rain poured on his head, soaking the package and his clothes.  He glanced around the dark streets of Vallaki's slums and finally pulled the small note written in red, already-washing-away ink.

"I warned you..."

He read with a slight frown, shaking his head and steadying, steeling himself.  Ready to throw the package away, he frowns, but there is some added weight there... quite a noticeable amount.

He frowns, squinting into the dark contents of the package - his eyes fly open a second before he comes to and calms himself.
He is staring at the eyes of the shady man he'd met outside Tigan's all those weeks ago, before all of this started.

A thin smile comes to his lips as he says, "It was just a matter of time, mate..."
He lifts the severed head out of the package by its hair and tosses it without further thought into a sewer grate, where it rolls down... strangely, a peaceful look on the dead man's face.

Ashan stalks off in the rainy night to search for the lady in white....
-Ashan Nottiams, Mad Bastard
-Cosmin Slabu, Garda
-Grom, Rat-Eating Scumbag

Eledaar

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Re: An Unfamiliar Darkness - a story of Ashan Nottiams
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2008, 04:08:03 PM »
Strange, he thought casually to himself as the intrepid Banite struggled with a werewolf trying to tear at his throat.
These buggers usually don't hang around right till the brink of dawn.  Must be really hungry.
He tries to choke the beast out, wrapping his thick hands around its throat.
Bloody heavy wolf... if only I could....

He didn't even seem to pray as much any more, coming to think of it.  Of course it was Bane's power that sustained him, as it had all these years... wasn't it?  Yet, he had a better understanding of this place now, and thirsted for knowledge past those prayers that made him as powerful as he was... his thoughts shifted to Stela, and to the Family, and he thought of the possibilities he had opened up with such a simple exchange.  After all, what better use was there for his time?  He could donate some of it to Stela, and other than guard duty, what were the ills of working for the traders? 

The beast began to get the upper hand, forcing Ashan's hands away from its throat with a powerful flex.  The beast bore down, snapping inches away from his helm.
He frowns calmly even as he burrows his spiked shoulder into the thing's side, injuring it badly.  It howls.
Throwing it off with a burst of supernatural strength, he quickly goes for his blade.  Lunging at the fallen werebeast and stabbing it repeatedly with his large, silvered steel blade.
It really has been a long time since I felt... any fervor for anything

Removing his blood specked helm, he frowns down at the mess on his armor and cloak.  Sighing, he leaves the dead, already-changing form of the werecreature bleeding on the ground.
I need answers... or to start drinking again.

He stalks off towards his original destination.. the door of Constantin's, where fishermen have just woken to the sounds of battle.
-Ashan Nottiams, Mad Bastard
-Cosmin Slabu, Garda
-Grom, Rat-Eating Scumbag

Eledaar

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Re: An Unfamiliar Darkness - a story of Ashan Nottiams
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2008, 01:36:00 AM »
Boredom can do terrible things to a man.

Such a thought did not occur to the gaunt Banite as he sat in that cave that had become very much his lair.  And had he not become so like that creature that haunted him?  Territorial, brooding.  Preying upon creatures weaker than he was.  Terrified as he still was of the Nightmares that plagued his nights, the visage of that beast that had so cowed him months past upon the snowy slopes of Ghakis haunted him unceasingly.

When the nightmares gave him brief respite, he dreamed of slaying bears - though in reality he shunned the creatures.  Always, preying on weaker creatures.  Sometimes, he would venture away from the bitter cold of that lonely cave on Mt. Ghakis.  He would come down to Vallaki and wander its streets.  Sometimes he would engage the occasional lone stranger or prostitute, but could not communicate.  He craved social contact, he thought, but people made him so angry.

That day, he had a companion, though.  He smiled a little as he sat in the cave.  He had gotten so very angry when the man had come across his path during his contemplation - that small moment of peace he might share with his deity.  He did not even remember the events that led to that lost trader's head on his lair's floor.

Yet, there it lay, and his fingers drummed across it as the corpse it belonged to froze in the corner.
And not once did Ashan think of the family that would not see its breadwinner again - he thought only of bears.
-Ashan Nottiams, Mad Bastard
-Cosmin Slabu, Garda
-Grom, Rat-Eating Scumbag

Eledaar

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Re: An Unfamiliar Darkness - a story of Ashan Nottiams
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2008, 07:55:05 PM »
The intrepid Banite lay face down in a filthy cell once more - his thoughts shifted to the events that brought him there.  He remembered little but flashes.

I have failed you before, Lord, but now, in this great moment, give us Victory, so that Glory might be yours!
He remembered shouting in the tunnels beneath the Morninglordian chapel - he had broken through the doors with sheer strength, and now a small tunnel lay before him, into the unknown, stinking doom, filled with undeath.  He prayed in preparation of crossing over - but nothing could have prepared him for the force that had overtaken the chapel.

He remembered the smell of burning flesh as his blade seared through one undead beast after another, but soon the endless hordes were gnawing on his corpse, even as his consciousness seeped away with the blood.

It was over so quickly... and here he was.

He rolled onto his side and looked down at the stumps where strong arms once were.

What is to become of such a useless servant?

He closed his eyes, swallowed his pride as he struggled to his knees - so that he might lap the dirty water off the cell floor like a common dog.
-Ashan Nottiams, Mad Bastard
-Cosmin Slabu, Garda
-Grom, Rat-Eating Scumbag

Eledaar

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Re: An Unfamiliar Darkness - a story of Ashan Nottiams
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2009, 02:27:35 PM »
Ashan's Journal.  Fifth Day, Fifth Month, Year...?

Never kept journal before.  Necessary now, since future mental state is uncertain.
I hope that in writing down my sins, I might repent yet, and survive the terror.
If they don't kill me first.

He came back, seeking vengeance he said.  Upon others, I thought, to use me as a device against them.  No - upon me and the rest of the world with it.  Amid darkness and spiders and tentacles he plundered the depths of my mind, my soul.

And he showed me my sin.  It was not magic that possessed me to kill my mother.  It was the same darkness that killed my foster father, that forced my hand in killing everyone in the hamlet.  Somehow he has showed me the monster that I have denied freedom so long.

So, what he has done, I am unsure.  Each waking moment is terror.  Never sure if person I am speaking with will explode into tentacles, if he will make me watch what few 'friends' I have be cut apart on that table, filthy Illithid-spawn exploding from their chests in a shower of gore.
Finally, in my dreams, he owns me completely.  I fight all the time.
I fight when I am awake, when I am asleep, and I cannot tell the difference any more.

The hallucinations are by far the easiest to deal with.  I just gauge people's reactions.  Made mistake other day: hallucinated people inside dungeon, thought monsters were not real.  Learning.  Slowly.

If someone were to find this upon my body, I would ask them to having read it, burn it, along with my corpse.  Burn it all.

-Ashan Nottiams, Mad Bastard
-Cosmin Slabu, Garda
-Grom, Rat-Eating Scumbag