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 The Story of the Signless

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Posts : 315
WL Points : 120093
Join date : 2010-02-20
Age : 24
Location : Wandering around in Wonderland (Tis what I do best)

PostSubject: The Story of the Signless   Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:26 pm

And since you are still my guest, it would please me to tell you this inspiring tale as well.

It is a tale to remind her of the sacrifice she must make. One serving to remind all of her people of the sacrifice once made by long forgotten heroes in a discarded reality. It is of this sacrifice the Sufferer died to speak the truth, and it is his tale I will tell you now.

Once, in this very universe, you could say, Alternia was home to a peaceful race. Trollkind had never known the corrupting influence in their evolution which led them to perpetual war and violence.

That is to say, they had never known me.

As was true of the bellicose world we know, there came to be twelve heroes on this peaceful planet. These heroes too had twelve ancestors whose fortunes were entwined with theirs. These twenty-four figures of legend were not of this world but sent from the sky, delivered from a reality not yet conceived.

On the eve of their race's extinction, the twelve heroes would begin playing a game. They would make an admirable effort, but they would fail. Their civilization had not prepared them for the rigors of this game, and the ultimate reward would fall shy of their grasp. But their failure was more comprehensive, more systemic, than a result of simple inadequacy so common to young players of this game. Though they could not recognize it for the bad omen it was, this session was not the one in which they had been spawned. Such is the symptom of a subtle glitch affecting certain sessions, an error designed to trigger an unfathomable cascade of misfortune throughout paradox space. This glitch is the calling card of the one I serve. It is the discreet, gentlemanly manner in which he reserves his place in a universe for later visitation.

The heroes, understanding their defeat was absolute, sought advice from the mother of all monsters. She offered them a choice. The heroes could either accept their defeat along with the extinction of their race, and put no others at risk. Or, she could show them a path to a second chance, to a reality in which the chosen heroes of their race would be strong enough to succeed with ease, and claim the reward. This reset would come at the cost of wiping the failed heroes from existence. They would live new lives from scratch, playing different roles in the reset reality, with no memory of the game they played or the choice they made.

The heroes chose to accept this bargain, and scratched their session. In doing so they jumpstarted the reality in which the twenty-four figures of legend would together be created - and I as well - and then sent back in time to take our places in history. Though I was delivered well before history even began, before the dawning of life on their planet. This time around, I would oversee its development, and thus fulfill the mother's promise of an aggressive, ruthlessly prepared group of heroes. One that would not rest until victory was secured.

The young twenty-four would again be scattered in two groups, twelve modern contemporaries, and twelve ancients. But in addition to losing their memories of everything that had happened before the scratch, there was another catch for the failed heroes. In the new reality, they would not serve as the heroes. They would mature to become the ancestors of the twelve they formerly regarded as theirs, and this twelve would be chosen for glory. These children would be the heroes to achieve victory, and have the reward easily within reach.

Of course this promise was fulfilled to the letter, as you have seen. The entire bargain was executed without a single hitch, as those authorized by my master always are. There was however one minor anomaly. One of the failed heroes, in his new life as an ancient on this now brutal planet, began to remember. This is his story.

This is the story of the Signless.

Few ever knew the Sufferer's given name, presuming quite reasonably he had none, and he came to be called Signless. Unlike his peers distributed elsewhere in history, he was not given a sign at a young age. Alas, there were no signs reserved for one of his mutant blood. His genetic deviation from the social order made him a pariah, forcing him to wander the world alone for many sweeps, concealing the color of his blood to avoid certain execution.

But it may also have been due to his mutation that he began to have the visions. Spontaneous, lucid imagery of his world in peace, before its fall. He would never see the complete picture, or fully understand his previous incarnation's role in prompting this fall, or know of my hand in it. But the visions showed him all he needed to see. They held the promise of his people's true potential, beneath the ages of conditioned cruelty. They held the spark of revolution.

In time, the visions gave purpose to his travels. He would preach heretical ideas no one else had dared to entertain, let alone risk discussing. He espoused the virtues of forgiveness, compassion, and equality among all bloodlines. He distributed his message intelligently, careful to preach only to those receptive, never attracting unwelcome attention. But his growing movement could go unnoticed by the authorities for only so long.

The highbloods were livid over the unprecedented heresy, and soon, a massive sectarian war followed, spreading across the planet and throughout the galaxy. The conflict was lopsided of course, with the Highbloods given full support from the Condesce and her sea dwellers. Inevitably, the Signless would be captured, and when he was, it was not a matter of whether he would be put to the irons, but how hot they would be if he failed to recant.

During his penance, it was said the Sufferer's compassion for his people underwent a divine transformation, into limitless, burning rage. It burned hotter than the irons shackling him to the imperial flogging jut, and redder than the blood soaking his Righteous Leggings. When he was finally killed, his anger rung through the cosmos with his last breath. This Vast Expletive was his final sermon, and somewhere encoded in its wavelengths was the truth in his teachings, waiting to reveal itself to any who would inherit his burden.

His teachings would also persist through surviving disciples, but in hushed tones. His following would dwindle to an obscure cult facing persecution for centuries. After his execution, the body was burned leaving only his irons. They cooled in the ash, as if his anger itself was subsiding, and his followers appropriated their shapes in defiance of the Highbloods. The symbols became the sign of the Signless, always shown as colorless as the cold iron, to conceal the stigma of his hue. This was as much a reminder to his followers to remain hidden as it was of the Sufferer's sacrifice, and his rage hidden like heat in the iron, one day to be reignited by another of his bloodline.

The Sufferer preached that after he passed, another Signless would come, heralding the end times for their planet. The Second Signless would continue his work, and lead his people to glory beyond this realm. The followers kept his teachings alive for ages, even as the uproar surrounding the movement subsided. By modern times, the Sufferer's scripture was little more than ancient superstition all but forgotten. Hardly the anathema of old. But the followers had already made their preparations in the shadows, and when the Second Signless finally came he would have a lusus to raise him and a sign to his name.

The Sufferer required a less conventional upbringing to reach maturity. As a young grub, he landed in the brooding caverns where he would be expected to face his trials. But due to his mutation, surely no lusus would select him. No creature sympathetic to his scent had been bred yet. His odds for survival would have been remote, if not for a chance encounter.

The Dolorosa belonged to the rare class assigned strictly to serving the mother grub in the caverns, forbidden from visiting the surface. While on an errand, she found the young Sufferer in his crater and immediately recognized the child as special, as well as in great danger. For an adult troll to raise a child was unthinkable, but she saw no other hope for him. The Dolorosa abandoned her duties in the caverns, and fled to the surface to raise him.

In time, she would become the first follower of his teachings, and the first of his inner circle. But not his closest.

Surrounding him on his rise to infamy and throughout the rebellion were the most trusted elites among his devoted. The iioniic was a mage of unequaled telekinetic ability, who upon hearing the words of the Sufferer was inspired to free himself from the sort of slavery typical of his mentally gifted class.

But his most devoted of all was his Disciple. She listened to every vision he retold, every lesson he preached, and faithfully recorded his scripture. Her ear was open to him always, and in time, his heart opened to her. To spread his message throughout the world they took to the seas in the vessel of legend known as the First Ship. It was said their love went beyond the four quadrants, transcending the grid entirely. Whatever that nonsense actually means.

The Disciple was to be killed along with him. But at the last moment, the E%ecutor inexplicably took pity on her, and allowed her to escape. She absconded with the Leggings, which remained the only physical evidence of his holy suffering. She hid in caves for many sweeps, transcribing all of his scripture from memory on the walls in the blood of slain creatures, and lived the rest of her days in monastic savagery. Her dedication would be critical to the persistence of his message.

But the Dolorosa was less fortunate, and was sold into slavery. She spent the rest of her life as property of vicious sea dwellers. As for the iioniic, he was enlisted in a far worse, if more prestigious service.

He was forced to serve as the Helmsman for Her Condescension's imperial battleship. Psychics of his kind were exploited for interstellar travel, and his abilities made her ship the fastest in the fleet by far. She grew so enamored of her Helmsman and his power, she would use her touch to extend his lifespan to match her own.

Together they explored the stars for thousands of years. Due to the speed of her ship, she would personally expand the boundaries of her empire, typically being the first to greet new races before conquering them.

After making first contact, occasions which she generally kept cordial, she would move on to new territory while a division of her fleet set a course for the unfortunate civilization, and proceeded to tear it apart. It could be any of the lethal brigades under her command to receive the orders, be it the Threshecutioners, Cavalreapers, Laughsassins, or Ruffiannihilators. Each was notoriously cruel in its own way, and each carried out orders with absolute loyalty. Because while the Condesce could extend a single life on her whim, she could just as casually cut short that of millions.

If angered, she could simply express her grievance through communion with her ancient lusus of the deep, and turn its psychic devastation on her multitudes. The class hierarchy played into her hands politically in this respect. Killing off a haphazard swathe of the population, or an entire class, was suitable as a measure of last resort, but mass extermination does not lend itself well to practical governance. Its looming threat however is quite effective, especially while her empire was partitioned neatly into blood castes. She could use her leverage to delegate oppression to the subjugglators, whose unique abilities and exceptional brutality made them natural enforcers. They too would delegate in their governance, exploiting the pride and loyalty of dangerous bluebloods beneath them, and so on down the hemospectrum, until the enslavement of the common castes was inescapable, in spite of their genetic gifts and strength in numbers. As a self-governing body, the land dwelling portion of her empire was formidable. But her force of sea dwellers was equally formidable, and the two were kept in check not only with the threat of psychic annihilation, but their mutual hatred and distrust.

The only threat to her power was unification through uprising, a possibility made remote once she fully decentralized the race from the homeworld. She scattered all but the children throughout the galaxy after the most recent rebellion led by the Summoner. Upon doing so, she became so comfortable with her grip on power, she risked venturing deeper into space than ever before to grow her empire.

But the more space she put between herself and Gl'bgolyb, the more she risked weakening her bond with the monster. The bond she and her successor shared with it exclusively could sway, and become strengthened with the younger. Perhaps she grew complacent with the threat successors posed, after such a long history of killing them with ease. Heiresses upon reaching maturity were expected to challenge the Condesce for the throne. It was not merely expected of them by their people, but demanded by their shared lusus.

I like to think of her as the pet I gave to their race, at the dawning of their species' evolution. Like a sentience-warming gift. Again, it's just the sort of thing a good host does.

If the lapse in her custodial bond was significant enough, it was not just political power she risked. At such a distance, she sacrificed concentration needed to curb its most dreadful psychic shriek of all, the galaxy-wide extinction event called the Vast Glub.

Of course this eventuality proved a fitting reward for such reckless expansion of her territory. She chose the worst time possible to explore further from the homeworld than she'd ever been. She was scouring the edge of the galaxy for systems to plunder when she received word of her planet's devastation by meteors. The young were being slaughtered. The mother grub was dead. The end times were upon her people.

She ordered all fleets to return to Alternia. But such was her empire's expansion and interplanetary occupation, few could make it in time to provide any meaningful defense. She instructed her Helmsman to pilot the ship faster than he ever had, and he did so through extreme physical duress. He was able to leap across thousands of light years in a matter of hours. The exertion likely would have killed him, if the Glub didn't get to him first. Her touch could extend life, but never restore it, to her lament.

In that instant, her empire was gone. Gl'bgolyb's swan song wiped out her entire race, save the Condesce and her lone heiress, leaving the empire nothing more than a galactic necropolis of floating tombs.

She was forced to continue the journey home on auxiliary power. Her ship now travels near the speed of light, a pale shadow of its former velocity. It would take her another 612 solar sweeps after the Glub to reach her destination.

She should arrive any minute now. When she does, she will find nothing but ruins and dust. If she cared to look closer, she would find a city of slain exiles, a man on the moon, and a pair of black lovers locked in a deadly dance. But whether she looks or not, one thing will find her with certainty.

A new employment opportunity.

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; It's about learning to dance in the rain.
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