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The Spiral of Tortaurus (Chapter I)


RedGoblin
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I have been accused of being to descriptive of some characters in this...howeever this was a writing exercise to give a vivid description of the antagonists for possible artwork to be done for a game later... Anyway, enjoy....

Ten cycles have passed since I was first taken, although not long enough for my memory to have totally deteriorated into the bleak oblivion of time. I was once a free woman; I had a name, a family, and a cause. Now I am called slave, prisoner or breeder. Those that would now be considered my family; those other unfortunate women of the convent are no more a comfort to me than the pain of birthing itself. In place of the cause or purpose I once had, I now find my only hope to be death.

I am a breeder, birthing children of madness for the unclean masses of this accursed world. A slave to the Order of The Spiral, condemned to the task of reproducing their disease-ridden minds in the heads of innocent children. I have become an abomination to my own kind, a thing, an instrument, being used to corrupt my own world against my will. If I were of a braver notion I would take my own life and the lives of every other woman here, to help slow the destruction that races throughout the world and provide them with the same escape that my mind and body long for.

I have birthed ten of their children, infants who are doomed to undertake what they call the sacraments of The Spiral when they come of age. Whispers throughout the halls here tell that our children are birthed with the sole purpose of becoming some type of holy person for our fiendish masters. I can only pray that the harsh climates as of late have kept the last two of my children from breathing longer than a day.

I am currently in my seventh month; at least I believe I am, carrying my eleventh child. Deep in the back of my mind I know that my captors were once human, but it has been so long since The Harrowing that one can scarcely believe that that was ever the case. The ‘priests’ of The Spiral are all men, born and bred to us ‘breeders’ here in the convent beneath the massive structure of what I believe is their church. The last that came to me was even more misshapen than his predecessors were. Perhaps they have added to their sacraments, rights of passage and ordeals that every one of their ‘priests’ must complete.

I do not know all of the sacraments of The Spiral, but I do know that the first is the sacrament of silence, a tribute to the glorious pain of the sacraments that are to follow. To pass through this first sacrament these insane creatures willingly have their mouths sewn shut. Their lips woven together with coarse twine looped through a curved hoop needle and slowly drawn threw their flesh.

The second sacrament that I am aware of is that of service. To complete this sacrament these deranged beings are placed before a cauldron of iron, which had been boiling on embers and flame for three days. The outer rim of this gigantic iron pot is encircled with raised markings and symbols whose meanings I do not know. Those passing through this sacrament are then required, with bare torso, to press themselves against the cauldron, placing the markings upon their chest and then wrap their arms, fully extended with open palm, as far around the cauldron as they are able. Once they have wrapped themselves onto the searing iron container, they find themselves required to lift the cauldrons up to depress the markings further into their already melting flesh and then return it to the embers. All this must be completed while maintaining the first sacrament of Silence. Those who fail to pass through the sacrament of Service find themselves becoming servants instead. If an acolyte should tear through their sacrament of Silence, ripping the flesh of their own mouth apart to release a cry of pain, then they have failed the sacrament of Service and are not worthy of progressing through The Spiral.

These servants are another ordeal all together. Their lips torn and jagged from being ripped open in cries of agony. The failed acolytes then find their ears bolted closed allowing them to speak as they will, but never hear anything more than the muffled words spoken by others. Iron disks, placed over the ears and then bolted or screwed directly into the skull of these failed students. A chain is then attached to the disks, suspended from one side to the other and used by their masters to assist in directing the miserable servants.

I vaguely recall the world beyond my cell, my mind having been tormented since my arrival here. The only day I can truly remember is that of my capture.

The sky was somber, a mixture of browns, reds, blacks and grays, as is if it were constructed of some type of metal that had been rusting and rotting for millennia.

The air was still, almost as if waiting in anticipation for something, but what? It was quiet; something was different about this day. Although I cannot truly recall any of my days before this, I know, that some how this day felt different.

It was mid day when it happened; there were dozens of people in the fields, harvesting what little food we could manage to bring back to our settlement. We were just about to return when we heard a high pitch whistling sound. Everyone went quiet.

There, atop a hill, we saw the figure of a man, his arm raised high above his head, his wrist spinning, whirling what appeared to be some type of weapon attached to a chain. It was this apparatus emitting the eerie sound, crying out, and beckoning the others of his ilk to fly in haste to the location of its horrific melody.

The moment of silence seemed to last an eternity and all that could be heard was that crazing sound, until finally the screams erupted from our ranks. The chaos was evident as people ran in any direction that seemed safe. Shrieks and shrills came from the masses as we scattered in panic, it was as if everyone had gone mad. It wasn’t until then that I looked down and took notice that I too was running, my lungs emptying themselves in blood curdling screams. I don’t remember starting to scream or run. Perhaps it was that whistle. Perhaps it was the fear of being taken. All I do remember is running. More and more figures began appearing in the distance, surrounding us. I turned to look over my shoulder and bore witness to one of the figures firing some type of weapon into the air. From its barrel flew a large object, spreading itself apart as it began to fall from the sky, opening into a netting of fine chain with eight weighted balls at its ends. The net was spinning and falling until finally it encircled several of my companions within it and at that moment it flashed, as if an electric charge was sent throughout the chain, causing the bodies within the netting to cease all movement.

The questions echoed through my head. How did they find us? How did they know we were there?

My eyes then returned to my path as I ran as hard as my body would allow. Coming to a sudden halt as I noticed, standing before me what appeared to be a woman. She was tall, a powerful figure of torment.

The upper half of her face was concealed within a stretched leather mask, a hole cut in the left side to allow her hair to be pulled through into a long straight ponytail. Her torso was covered in the same stretched leather leaving the tops of her breasts and her stomach exposed. The eyes of the mask were constructed from some type of reflective blue material, perhaps a metal or mirror. Her skin was a washed pale blue, almost translucent. I could make out various tangled darker blue lines within that cold looking flesh. Were they veins?

Bolted into her left shoulder was an angular piece of armoring, spiked on the top and flat on three sides, you could see the long healed wounds that were caused by its attachment. In her left hand, attached to the bottom of a leather wrapped glove she held a long rigid blade whose edge had been carved in and out into saw like teeth.

Heavy looking boots made their way up just over the knees where they flared out ever so slightly giving way for the bare flesh of her thighs, the skin on which had been sliced, pulled and pinned back into incorrect spots.

Her right arm seemed to be natural from shoulder to elbow, however from elbow to hand had been replaced with a massive apparatus. Reinforced and harnessed to her shoulder the apparatus’ length spanned in sections from her elbow to her knee. It was attached to her upper arm with clasping hooks, buried in her flesh and then strapped back to pull the false appendage in place, pulling tightly at the skin of the upper arm. At its end was a flared scooping device used to fling ammo into the masses of her enemy. The ammo being fed from tubing which entered into the midsection of the apparatus and wrapped itself around her back, coming to end in what could only be an ammo pouch on her left hip.

I fell to the ground as I stopped, taking this twisted woman’s appearance into my gaze I quickly spun around, picking myself up, but as I stood to run I felt a sharp pain at the back of my head. A bright light filled my vision and all went dark…

I awoke sometime later lying atop other bodies. If they were dead or unconscious I do not know. All I did know is that I was still alive. I lay still for quite a while, hoping that my captors might think me dead and drop me in some gully somewhere along their travels.

As I lay there I took note of my surroundings. We were moving in some style of marching formation, a column as it were. I was located on a type of wagon, apparently for those unconscious or dead victims of the raid. To the front of my location, pulling the weight of my flesh piled chariot, were other conscious captives. Harnesses had been slung around their shoulders and necks, their hands shackled to large wooden cross posts that were attached to a longer central pole protruding from the front of the wagon.

Up ahead of those unfortunate souls who had most recently become beasts of burden I perceived the figure that had signaled our capture. I wanted so to gaze upon the face of this leader, but all I could see was the silhouette of the back of his head.

Behind me was another line of the walking damned, being led by my wagon of death. It was here that I noted the women and children were bound, segregated from the men folk of this sadistic parade. They walked two by two, side by side, their hands encased and locked into large metal muffs, which had been chained to and from one another and then locked to a single chain running between the entire line that was finally attached to the wagon.

A sweet coppery smell mixed with the sickening scent of rotting meat and sweat filled my lungs every time I inhaled. I could almost taste the decay in my mouth as I lay there trying to be still, which was a difficult task as the bugs and flies were buzzing around my face. Sweat beaded on my forehead and dripped down the corner of my mouth. I quickly attempted to lick it away, moving my tongue out to catch the sweat bead, but it returned to my mouth all I could taste was blood.

Surrounding this caravan were our captors, those individuals that had mercilessly taken our freedom and lashed us to this wagon. I caught sight of the woman who had dealt me the final blow towards the back of the caravan. Next to her were several others in similar garb and all of them female. Directly to the right of me was another group of figures, men, I had not seen them during the original raid, but it did happen quite quickly. I am sure the vision of these twisted souls is burned into the memory of at least one of these captives, as that woman is etched into mine.

They were all tall lithe men. Standing, I would guess, at least six heads high. Wrapped around their waist was a wrapping of barbed wire. Beginning at the hips and ending just below the rib cage. I could see that some sections of the odd decoration had buried itself into their abdomens. The wire itself was rusty in color; a definite contrast to their pale blood drained skin. All of them were muscularly defined men, wiry and tight; you could almost make out the fibers of each individual muscle.

Erupting from their biceps, directly below the contours of the shoulders were large steel spikes, extending beyond their being about six inches. As they walked I did note that these steel extensions seemed to be visible on the inside of the arms as well, driven between the muscle and bone and then wrapped for reinforcement with strands of leather.

I could not make out their legs as they were covered in long black leather skirts, sewn with a two layered effect. The top layer, which had been cut into pennant type patterns, was much more rigid than the one beneath it. They hung to the very ground, making it impossible to see their feet while they walked.

Over their mouths was a type of cup, wrapping itself from the bottom of the nose, around the edges of the lips and then down beneath the chin. I could just make out what appeared to be rivets, which could only mean that this cup over the mouth had actually been fastened into the flesh and skull.

Attached to the small of their backs, crisscrossing over each other, were two bladed weapons. No longer than two feet in length the blades were wide at the hilt, curving in on themselves ever so slightly and then narrowing to an eventual tip.

I closed my eyes and continued with my feigned death, continuing to pray that they would discard my body and continue on their way.

It was shortly after that I felt the wagon slow. I peeked through the lowered lids of my eyes to see what was happening. Apparently one of the men pulling my bed of decay had fallen to his knees, I could see him clearly.

It was Aden, a friend, but a man with a weak constitution. He had fallen under the stress of pulling such a load over such a distance. By doing so he had caused the entire entourage to slow to a near stop, the others merely dragging his weight along with that of the wagon. One of the figures I had earlier detailed broke rank and began to head towards the bound group of men. I could see, as he walked, his hands reaching back to those horribly cruel looking blades.

All was silent as the leader held his fist in the air signaling the train to stop.

“How could he have known?” I asked myself aloud, quickly realizing that I had nearly betrayed myself.

I could see that the blades were fully exposed now as the wiry figure made way to my fallen friend. Without a word he raised his blades high over his head and brought them slicing down through the air. I thought for sure that Aden had been released from this hellish world through a quick death, but nothing could have been further from the truth. He had merely cut Aden from his place in line.

Suddenly there was a scream of pain and I saw the figure dragging Aden from the column by a fist full of hair. He was kicking, screaming, his hands pulling at the fist that dragged him so, but to no avail. Two other similar figures joined the one torturing my friend. They carried two large steel poles, both twice as long as a man and tipped to a point. Another small rod, about six inches long protruded from one side of each of the long poles. The one dragging my friend now held him fast while the other two joining him did their work.

Aden knelt there on the ground, screaming out for help, but there was nothing anyone could do to save him. It was then that the figures carrying the poles took aim and drove them through his chest just under the pectoral muscles; I could almost hear the skin breaking as they pushed their way through his body, straight through until you could see the bloody tips protruding from his shoulders. Watching the chunks of flesh and muscle being pushed out through the new hole in his back was enough to make me retch, but I could not allow myself for fear of being discovered and suffering the same fate. I instead caught the vomit behind my teeth, choking it back down my throat from whence it came.

With the poles now inserted, they proceeded to pick him up onto his feet. He screamed again as they twisted the poles, aligning the small rods just under his armpits. The twisting of the metal in his flesh caused Aden to raise his voice to the heavens even louder, cursing them, god and mankind for this torturous world.

With everything in place to hold the weight of a fully-grown man, they hoisted him into the air and drove the bottoms of the poles into the ground. His body slid down several inches until the rods caught him at the armpits. His body dangled from those poles like a small child’s toy would hang from the wall, but unlike a toy he was alive and writhing in agony. It was not a sight I or anyone present would forget for a very long time, nor was it the worst that we would come to see.

It was then that I saw the leader begin to shift his position and make his way back to Aden’s place of display. He, unlike the others in this parade was mounted, a sure sign of power and rank. For only those individuals would be granted such a gift as a mount to carry them into battle. I personally had never seen such a beast before; they truly were a rarity, at least in this region of the world.

His body jostled up and down with the movements of his steed, bouncing in perfect harmony with the beast. Slowly he came into my view; at last I would witness the face of the one who destroyed my life.

Night was closing in and the air was growing cold, cold enough to see the moisture in our breath crystallizing in the air like small smoke signals. When the beast breathed it was as if its nose was a chimney, billowing smoke as it puffed and snorted. It appeared to have had its flesh removed and the riding gear stitched or burnt onto it. The musculature was amazing; the beast aside from its obvious tortures had been well taken care of and healthy. Its mane was wispy, like the hair of a corpse that had been left to rot in a tomb and did nothing to hide its pale solid white eyes. His rider was another story. This man had obviously undergone rigorous tortures and alterations to his person, but then again what Sati-Tormentus hadn’t? However, unlike the others of this entourage he bore more mutilation that any other I had ever seen. His head was shaven, adorned with a thick protruding scar located at the midsection on the back of the skull. Around the crown of his head were strange tattoos, the likes of which I had never seen before. He too wore a skirt of leather, very much like those that traveled with him, but his was far more adorned. In place of the barbed wire wrap that his companions wore, he wore a girdle that projected itself away from his body as it made its way from the waist to the ribcage. The same steel shanks protruded from his arms as well wedged between muscle and bone, but instead of one set he had several. Each one being placed but a couple of inches from the other and becoming smaller in size as they made their way down his biceps.

The muscles in his right arm tensed on the reigns of his mount as he pulled them tight, forcing the beast to come to a stop directly in front of my friend. I could now see an even more unbelievable alteration that had been made to this Sati’s torso. Two large holes, an inch or two wide had been burrowed through his chest. One to either side, clean through from back to front, reinforced with metal eyelets and filled in with hallow tubing creating a channel through his body, like some dark tunnel traveling through a mountain of tissue and bone. The eyelets on his chest had a cross section, a “T” shape running from top to bottom and left to right, at the center of which were attached a chains. They ran themselves through the tunnels in his carcass spilling from his back like a waterfall of linked metal; they exited just over the shoulder blades. The chains then dropped backwards, down to the rear flanks of his mount and ended in small pouches, one to either side of the skinless steed. I could only assume that the noise, which had originally caused us to flee in panic, was made by whatever was at the end of these chains.

His mouth bore the scars of the first sacrament although the twine had been removed allowing him the full use of his mouth. Strange markings were branded upon him, beginning at one wrist and ending upon the other they made their way across his chest like a sadistic mural, which I now know was caused by the second Sacrament, that of Service.

As I took in his every detail, burning it to memory he looked my friend, his new slave, in the eyes and then turned his gaze to the ground. He spurred his stead to turn back from whence it came, but before he returned to the head of the column his hand fell back to one of the small pouches on the flanks of his horse. Slowly, almost lovingly his hands caressed the chain that disappeared into the pouch, his eyes closed slightly and I believe a sigh escaped his lips and he drew it from its resting-place.

Link after link cascaded from its hiding place, slowly dragging itself through his loose grip and looping down to the ground, until finally his grip tightened and he grasped the chain, hoisting what was attached and buried in the pouch in my view. A blade shaped like a crescent moon gleaned in the failing light of the day, sparkling like a star in the twilight hours. I believe that should I have looked at any reflection within that polished silvery blade I would have gone mad.

His wrist began to twist, spinning the blade in small circles. With each pass the length of chain increased, moving the blade farther and farther from his hand, until finally a low hum began, its pitch increasing with every rotation. He quickly snapped the chain, altering the pattern of the blade's journey, from a full circle to a sideways figure eight. Quicker and quicker the blade flew threw the air, slicing the wind to make its own horrific melody. I covered my ears for fear of screaming again and noticed that his lips were now moving.

Whether it was curiosity or stupidity I uncovered my ears to hear what he was saying. The pitch of the blade joined his voice and rang throughout the air. It was like I was being bombarded, with only that sound echoing through my ears. If someone else was talking I couldn’t say. All there was, was that sound and me.

I don’t know how much time passed from the time I uncovered my ears to when I regained my senses, but once I did regain them he was gone. He was missing from the spot my eyes had last left him and Aden. By all that is sacred, what had happened to Aden?

My eyes darted back and forth at the body of my friend. From head to toe his body had been defiled, stripped down bare and used as an etching stone. They had lacerated their strange markings up and down the whole of his dangling carcass. A look of maddening horror was frozen on his face as blood ran from the hallow sockets that his eyes once called home.

We were resting. Apparently our captors found this a suitable place to set up camp for the night. Torches had been set a flame around the perimeter of the camp, lighting the area in a soft glow. The amber shades bounced against the contours of the wounds in Aden’s body making them appear to be empty voids, as if his insides were as endless and deep as the night sky itself.

A buzzing sound was circling my head, back and forth; from side to side it would fly away and descended upon me, over and over again. I wanted so badly to reach up and swat at the flying annoyance, but I knew full well that in that instant I would be discovered. I could feel its presence on every descent; it was enough to drive one mad. Maybe I was mad, maybe there was nothing there at all and maybe this was all just some nightmare. I began to make myself believe it, believe that it was all just some awful nightmare and this thing flying over me was just a field beetle.

I closed my eyes in the hopes that sleep would bring about my eventual awakening from this madness, but as my lids closed I felt something grabbing at my wrist.

It was cold and wet, snaking across my skin until it finally grabbed tightly onto me. The sound it made as it squeezed I can only describe like the sound of a person walking over a carpet of slugs, squishing and popping. It was a hand. Was it one of the Sati’s, had I been discovered? My arm was being tugged, feeling the weight of whatever was grabbing me, as if it were using me for leverage, or some kind of climbing aid. I quivered when whatever was gripping me moaned my name. Its breath was hot against the side of my face, reeking with the awful sweet smell of dead flesh. I had to open my eyes.

My eyelids rolled back quickly to take in a full view of whatever was climbing me. Two empty sockets oozing with blood and puss stared directly into my eyes and while the creature was eyeless I knew it could see me. Its cold moist hand quickly covered my mouth before I could release a scream. The eyeless carcass then opened its mouth; the two lips parted slowly leaving between them a spider’s web of drying saliva, like a congealing jelly. My eyes went wide as it spoke.

“Run,” he said.

“RUN!”

The voice was shallow and dry. I released a scream into its hand as I realized it was Aden! My body jerked and the figure was gone. I wasn’t screaming into the hand of my dead friend, but into the night air. My breathing was shallow and short as I tried to explain to myself what had just happened. Only then recalling my current situation, surely I was heard this time. I looked around frantically, only to see several of the knife wielding Satis running in my direction.

Jumping from my place on that cart of death I tried to regain my senses. I shifted my gaze to Aden’s corpse; his body was still dangling from the poles, had he come to me, was I going mad? I must have been. He was standing right in front of me. I could feel him, smell him and hear him. My only option now was to do as my dead friend instructed, to run.

My legs began to move as fast as possible, propelling me into the darkness of night. My only hope was to disappear into the blackness. The moon was high; it must have been very late indeed. Cries and cheers from the other captives began to howl into the night, slowly fading as I made my way from the wagon until all I could hear was the music of my chase. The ground crunched beneath me with every step, my heart pounded out like a drum and my breathing echoed in contrast to it. The wind whistled pass as I cut through it with my body.

I ran until I came to the brink of collapsing, my lungs burning with every breath. It wasn’t until found the edge of a swamp that I stopped, placing my hands on my knees, bending over and vomiting violently from the long distance of my chase. Finding safety beneath the branches of an old twisted willow tree I finally laid my body down to rest between its roots. I almost felt safe, as if the tree were cradling me, like a mother would cradle a newborn baby. It was there that my body finally gave in to both my physical and emotional exhaustion.

Once again I awoke, having no clear concept of the day or the time within it. The sun was low, past its zenith and I was just waking up. As I lifted my head I felt a sharp pain in my neck, it must have been from sleeping in my current position for so long. I slowly turned my head, trying to disregard the pain as I looked over the gigantic roots that had held me safely through the night. No one was in sight. I let mumbled a prayer to whatever gods had granted me release from what was sure to be a life of agony.

I lay back against my sweet mother willow gazing at the sky. Dark clouds were coming in, thick and black with pits of pale gray. They filled the sky over the direction I had originally come from. I knew I had to find shelter before the storm came, it was sure to be an El-Storm. You could tell from the rusty color that highlighted the cloud's underbelly. In those storms no one is safe unless they are inside.

I had lost a relative to an El-Storm once. He was in the fields when it came. The same fields I was in when I was captured. The storm rained down great balls of lightning upon the field; electricity that moved faster than any man could ever move. Someone had told us that the lightning balls that day were three times the size of any man. Gigantic orbs of blue and white electricity were rolling rampant across the fields where my cousin was working. Laying waste to everything they touched, leaving the ground scarred beneath their wake. It was one of these lightning orbs that had taken the life of my relative.

The storm was moving quickly, so I matched it’s pass. I began walking deeper into the swamp. The ground swallowing my legs up to my knees, I thought it was a good thing I had not been chased this far last night, or else I may have died, or worse, been caught again. The brush and wilderness of the swamp was growing denser and more difficult to maneuver through. It was hard to breathe; some strange smell hung in the air as I walked deeper and deeper into the belly of the swamp. I began to feel sick, with every breath it worsened, until finally I saw a small opening in a tree. The tree itself was a tribute to what was left of nature, huge and awe inspiring. Set atop a tuft of dry land its roots spilled into the dark muddy waters of the swamp.

I climbed into the crevice just as the rains began to fall, huddling myself up into as little of a ball as I could manage. My breathing had ceased to get any worse, but it was definitely not getting better. There was something in the air, something that was making me sick. I only hoped that I would survive the storm and maintain enough strength to exit the swamp alive. Taking comfort in the fact that I had escaped the Sati-Tormentus slaving party I decided to get some rest while I could.

It’s amazing I know that in those first twenty-two years of my life, I had never actually seen a Sati-Tormentus, but my people were a simple nomadic folk, traveling back and forth along the same route, which had been deemed safe for generations. Typically if anyone was ever caught by those tortured souls, it was our clan’s scouting party, but never the entire clan. I still cannot understand how they knew we were there. A question I will probably never know the answer to.

I closed my eyes and let the world slip from my conscience as I tried to forget all that I had seen.

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