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The Risen Republic

]The republic of Taras is the largest city-state in Imythess in terms of total urban area. The city itself extends across a large section of Imythess' west-central coastline, forming huge districts that are linked by canal networks, stone-paved bridgeways and ribbon sprawl. Five years ago demons laid waste to the city center, forcing displaced citizens to pick through the ruins and plan their rise from the ashes. Leaving the tough old ruins intact in memory of the tragedy, they built a new city center on top of the old one. This still-inhabited undercity is called the Ash District after the choking layer of grey that still covers every surface. The reconstruction of the city was only possible through the diligence of the Benefactors, a small group of wealthy patrons, and the drive of numerous volunteers

The "new Taras" was supposed to be shining and pristine, and indeed some districts are. However, it is easy to tell that the city has been growing beyond its means, and far too quickly at that. In anticipation of a population boom, many districts contain oversized travelways and multi-level residential complexes intended to pack as many people into a small space as possible. Large sections of the rebuilt city are underpopulated or abandoned as the city's population has yet to rebound. Adding to these issues is the rotten core of the government, as certain Benefactors have contracted low-quality building materials for poorly designed structures, especially in the poorer districts, while accepting kickbacks. Fires and collapses are as common in some areas of Taras as they are in much older cities.

The natural areas around Taras are hilly heath. There are almost no trees; instead, the area is covered in tough, short, scrubby plants growing densely from the hard-packed ground. Grassy barrier dunes and salt marshes are common along the coastline wherever the docklands have not extended.

The Halls of the Necropolis.[DNR]

Joined: July 4th, 2014, 8:51 pm

January 29th, 2018, 9:49 am #1

Silnimare had been floating about the pool in her home, watching the infamous pirate captain Buddy Holly sleep. She had given herself to him, something that she had never thought would happen. She was comforted, even happy, but some part of her mind was uneasy, processing what all was going on. He would likely sleep until morning, but given her ethereal nature, she needed no such thing.

Before she could dwell on this too long, however, she found her room fading from her vision. The polished marble and slate gave way to dismal stone, weathered by age. It took her a moment, before her memories finally caught up with her. This was the Necropolis, where she had found herself as a youth. She mentally reviewed herself, trying to figure out how she could have wound up so far away, several miles outside of Taras.

Before her was a stairway descending down, with alcoves lining the walls, each with a statue and mausoleum-like drawer for a body's resting place. She walked silently down the steps, something seeming off, now that she could see this place with her actual eyes. The stairway opened up into a massive open hall, with graves and monuments carved into the stone as far as the eye could see, though the dark kept its true size hidden. Despite having been blind on her last trip here, she recognized the figure that materialized in front of her. He was Riordan, a massive tower of a man, ghost of a king of a long-dead kingdom. He had rugged features, with eyes that seemed to peer into your very core, and an immaculately groomed beard and hair.

“Riordan, how did I get here?”

“Well, you've been here before, and this time your senses and powers are greater. You tell me.”

Silnimare thought for a moment. She was seeing a ghost, and she suddenly realized what had been bothering her about her surroundings. Everything had a distinctly ethereal quality, and she realized that she was no longer in the physical plane.

“This is the ethereal plane.”

“Yes...”

She stared at him in confusion, uncomfortable with how she ended up in this situation with no explanation.

“You... I thought you said you were at peace, going to your rest.”

The mountain of a man chuckled, a smile showing behind his large beard, and his eyes smiling with him, his hair hanging to his shoulders.

“Aye, I no longer walk the lands of flesh and blood. But from I hear, you don't entirely either, yourself, these days. You died.”

Silnimare lowered her head, unable to muster her usual defiance before this being.

“Yeah...but...”

“Enough, child. When you were a little one, lost, alone, and afraid, I helped you. What have you done with the gifts I gave you? How have you grown?”

“Well I--”


“Don't explain it to me. You do not answer to me. In this place, you are your own judge, and jury. Follow me.”

He led her further down, until they came upon a set of double doors, opening into a short hallway, with a set of double doors like the ones they just passed on the other side. The walls were conspicuously bare, like there was supposed to be something carved in them. In the center of the room sat a plinth, about two feet wide, polished but empty, as if awaiting a statue to be placed there. Silnimare approached the plinth, noticing writing etched into the side.

“Stand and show your fear, your deepest terror... What the hell, Riordan?”

She turned to face her guide, and was surprised to see his face stern and angry.

“Keener, you have walked many roads and come far. But in this place, you must walk by the laws of the dead, and face yourself. Otherwise, the Necropolis will never release you. I would also advise you to watch your tone. I want to help you, but I am not your child, to be chided. Now, continue, if you wish to go home.”

Silnimare looked away, torn between anger and embarrassment. She stepped onto the plinth, and felt a strange sense of interrogation, as if someone was waiting for her to answer the engraving. She thought for a moment, the faces of everyone she cared about flitting before her mind. Her father, her mother, her son Cyrus, her friend Kaalia, her crew and surprisingly, even Buddy Holly the pirate. All the faces drew near to her, smiling. They slowly all faded, until only Silnimare was left. She hung her head, and whispered. “Losing them all. Being alone.”

With that, a strange sound like grinding stone startled her, and she stepped off the plinth. The faces of everyone she had thought of adorned the walls, the carving making them seem to fade to mist or something similar. She jumped again, when the door in front of her opened, Riordan walking up behind her, gesturing to the next room, which appeared identical to the one she was leaving, with blank walls and an empty plinth. She groaned at the sight. How many of these would there be? How many times would she have to stare herself in the face? She squatted, reading the next inscription, and then stepped onto the plinth.

“That which I hate most about myself? Who the hell designed this....”

She thought of all the times that she tried to keep it together, and failed. All the tears she had shed. Every time that she had wept and broken down like a child. She couldn't seem to let go of everything she had lost. For all her magical might, she was no more stable or emotionally strong than a youth.

“Being weak, unable to heal and move on.”

Once again, the sound of grinding stone answered her, and on the walls around her appeared reliefs of her in different places and clothing, weeping, crying, and hiding. She cringed at the sight. Even though they were in the ethereal plane, a place where few she knew could tread, she still felt strangely vulnerable having her heart etched on these walls. She forced herself to move on, into the third room, of the same design as the one before. This had just begun, and she already grew weary of it. The engraving on this plinth read, “What makes a friend for you?” At least this one was was easier. She stepped atop the plinth. “Honesty.” But this time, no sound of stone greeted her. She spun around to face Riordan.

“What the...”

“Be honest. Look inside yourself. Nothing will free you but the truth.”

Silnimare looked back, and closed her eyes. What did she really value in a friend? She thought to one of her previous answers.

Alone...

“Someone who won't leave me alone. Who I can count on.”

The sound of grinding stone was little comfort, as she contemplated her own revelation. Tears began to form in the corners of her aquamarine eyes. Was she really so weak, so pathetic that she needed people around just to be able to function? She was interrupted from her thoughts by the large hand of Riordan on her shoulder.

“I never said this would be an easy path, lass. But you must face it to move on.”

He gently squeezed her shoulder was little comfort to the redhead. She looked around, to see the walls adorned with images of her friends and family supporting her as one would someone with a limp. She hated herself for being this way, and this path was bringing the worst of her to light. Still, she forced herself onward to the fourth room, with yet another plinth, which read, “What do you care about most?” She stepped atop the pedestal once more.

“Cyrus.”

Once more the sound of grinding stone filled her ears, as the walls were engraved with her adopted son's image, and the doors before her swung open. In the fifth room, the plinth read “Bear your deepest regret, for us to see.” She tried to keep it together, but the tears that twinkled in her eyes began to run down her cheek, as the thought of her mother came to her mind. How she had pulled her father away by getting hurt, leaving her mother vulnerable, and resulting in her death. If only she hadn't gotten hurt, or tried to stop the thief. Her mother was dead, and she lost her eyes, all because of a hat full of coin, tips for a performance. She dropped to her knees, her arms hanging limply at her side.

“I got my mother killed.”

Even when the sound of grinding stones rang through the room, she didn't move, sobbing like an infant. Riordan did not move to comfort her, letting her grieve. All of the events of that night were etched like a mural in the walls around her, a constant reminder of her failure, etched in ethereal masonry. She didn't know how long she knelt there, sobbing. Time moved strangely in this place. Eventually, Riordan moved towards her. “It's time, lass. You're half-way there. You mustn't give up now.” She began to yell at him, cursing in every tongue she knew. How dare he?! It was her fault her mother was dead! After she had screamed herself hoarse, which to his credit, Riordan did not retaliate, but let her vent instead, she felt a different hand on her head, softer and smaller than Riordan's. She looked up, to see the face of her mother, who lived on in a way within her primal shroud. She was smiling at her daughter, reassuringly and kindly. Silnimare stood, and hugged her mother, wiping the snot from her nose and the tears that burned her cheeks. She shakily made her way to the sixth room, afraid of what this place had left in store for her.

In the sixth room, she read the inscription, and stepped onto the plinth. It asked what her idea of true happiness was. At least this one was easy.

“Being with my family, unafraid of losing them.”

She watched as the walls became etched with images of her with her parents, and Cyrus. Oddly enough, in one of the images, Kaalia was there, too. This confused Silnimare at first, until she realized how often Kaalia had been like a sister to her. Sometimes, spirit ran deeper than blood. She made her way to the seventh room, where she was asked what price could be paid to make her betray a friend. This was becoming a little too easy, perhaps going gentle on her after the room of her regret.

“There is no price that could make me betray a friend.”

The sound of grinding stone in this room brought a smile to Riordan's face. He was proud of the honor that his former pupil showed. Nothing but the truth would have opened the doors, which meant that the fiery bard showed great loyalty to those she cared for. The eight room had a darker tone, asking what the worst fate that could befall a person was. Silnimare thought for a moment, and answered, her voice measured, as she stated something that turned her stomach to even think of.

“To have people who love you, and have them all ripped away, leaving you alone and grieving.”

The sound of stone once again filled the chamber as the door in front of her opened into the ninth room. This one bore a most troubling question, asking what it was that haunted her the most. The redheaded phantom stood still on the plinth, her eyes unfocused and cloudy.

“My mother's death. Knowing that I could have prevented it. Knowing that my father lost the love of his life. Knowing that I brought her back unnaturally, and bound to me, leaving me with some comfort, and him with none.”

The sound of the final chamber opening was bittersweet, as she silently made her way the doors, heart heavy with her own confession. The final plinth asked a question that should have been tougher, but that was surprisingly easy for Silnimare to answer. “What is the worst thing you've done, and why?” She didn't even pause, immediately answered once she stood on the tenth plinth.

“I murdered a guard in cold blood. Not just killed, I tortured him. For hours. Bleeding him, making him feel every pain and fear I could, until he finally broke and died. That guard was the one who killed my mother, who took her from me and my father. I do not regret what I did, and would do it again. But I know it was terrible, and his screams and tears will never leave my memory. But I am glad I did, and I do not regret a moment of it.”

The final door opened, the walls around her depicting the horrific torture she had put that guard through. Her expression was grim, and she turned to Riordan. He smiled, and clapped his hands briefly.

“Well done, Keener. You have faced yourself, and hopefully become the stronger for it. I hope you continue to grow, I am proud of you.”

Silnimare did not immediately reply, instead making her way to the doorway which led into blackness, and the path back to her home. Before she crossed the threshold, she turned to face her former mentor. Her face was contorted in rage and disgust, bitterness seething from every syllable at what she had just had to go through.

“[REMOVED] you, Riordan. [REMOVED] you straight to the abyss...”

She turned and made her way through the portal, finding herself still floating above the water, her dalliance lying in her bed, and the moon till in the sky. At least she hadn't been gone long, and had plenty of time to think on things, before the pirate captain awoke.
[+] Spoiler
From weakest to strongest:

1.Master Athletics = Magical Bull's Strength
2. Master Athletics + Brawn = Magical Draconic Might
3. Master Athletics + Bull's Strength (Non-Magic).
4. Master Athletics + Brawn + Bull's Strength (Non-magic).

"We're not all weak, Orc. And before you call magic, it's not magic." Her voice dropped to a whisper just low enough for him to hear. ".... I'm just not human."
~Silnimare to Gortwog


Silnimare's Theme Song (Through the Valley)




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