The Tale of Tanza of Tristan (Caution: Bullying, and Alot of Violence) Character in Isharus | World Anvil
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The Tale of Tanza of Tristan (Caution: Bullying, and Alot of Violence)

The Origin of the Lich

Written by arushiru

Tanza the Vile Tanza

Born in Tristan, The King’s massive home city. Tanza lived in the shadow of the massive temple that looked gaudy to him. Tanza wanted to have a simple life living with his family and assisting them with their daily needs. He enjoyed helping his mother, Vortia, cook and clean, and was happy to run errands while his father, Koren, was away on business. Tanza was happy in the capital city due to the proximity to the library of the king. Though Tanza thought it was overboard that King Tristan would name a city after himself, and declare it the capital to his kingdom. The knights of Tristan also enjoyed an inflated station throughout his kingdom, and would often abuse the station they were gifted. When outside of the city of Tristan, the knights ran rampant through the kingdom, and committed many atrocities throughout his kingdom. His city however was considered safe from the knights, for committing any crime without the King’s explicit consent in the capital city was punishable by death.   This meant an insurmountable amount of shock for him, when a young knight came around demanding payment for a debt, and his mother, Vortia, instructed young Tanza to go play outside. He did as he had done many times before when instructed to go elsewhere, and went to the Library of Unduraset within Tristan, to read about the Zandashan Conquerors, and how they settled into what is now the Zandashan Empire on the continent neighboring Isharus (The continent Skildaur is in). He was reading about their battle tactics, and how the Zandashan Empire conquered Stattor (currently known as Zandasha). When he finished his readings, he walked back to his house, and noticed the horse of the young knight remained in front of the house. This made him suspicious as many hours had passed.   When he returned to the home he heard crying in the second room that his parents slept. He opened the flap of hide separating the rooms and observed Vortia on the floor seated weeping, with blood on her hand. Multiple wounds were in the young knight with a knife sticking out. Her clothes ripped and a shade of crimson that Tanza had never seen before. Tanza startled his mother by opening the hide flap further so he could enter, and immediately she stood up and began yelling. “Why are you back so soon?” Tanza took a step back startled at his reception, “it has been many hours mother…” Her face lost the rosiness of her cheeks, “you need to find your father and disappear. The guards will be here soon, and they will not be happy with me knowing what I have done.” Without a second thought he recalled something in a book he read about how when the Zandashan Empire hired an assassin that murdered the king of a neighboring fiefdom.   In the story he had read, the assassin had killed a king, but was unable to take the king’s corpse out of the bed. To circumvent this issue, the assassin cut the king into many pieces leaving the top half of the torso within his pillow case, for ease of transport. The assassin filled the king’s chest cavity with much of the remains of the king, and hid the other pieces. Following the readings, Tanza destroyed the corpse of the young knight, and hid the remains 3 feet under the dirt floor of the main room in his house. He took the horse out of the city and set it free with a sharp snap on the behind. Tanza then convinced his mother, the situation had been taken care of, to keep the act a secret. Neither of them told his father, Koren, when he returned a day later from his trip as a message runner between Tristan and Destonker, the town to the South.   Koren began noticing the smell after a month, and trust for Tanza’s mother deteriorated very quickly when she finally caved and explained the young knight’s visit, but neglected to mention the murder. Koren became distant from his family, simply arriving and sleeping in the simple wooden chair in the corner of the main room by the firepit.   For that month, every time a knight or guard travelled through the road they lived on, Tanza would feel the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, as he tried to act normally. Or he would hide under the one window in his house, which was little more than an old wooden frame within logs and mortar around it, and watch with bated breath. Half way into the 2nd month, the smell became atrocious, and a neighbor reported the foul stench. A guard brought a dog into the house to attempt to find the source, and the dog went immediately to the place in the main room where the body was buried, and began digging. The mother then knew she was caught, and attacked the guard in a bloodletting haze. She knew if the guard had found the corpse, her entire family would be executed instead of just her. Koren scooped up Tanza and left without another word. His father promptly hooked his horse up to the carriage, and left the city.   For 4 years, Tanza and Koren peddled wares of various merchants throughout the kingdom of Tristan (Now known as the kingdom of Isharus). It was the longest time he spent with his father at one time, and it was also the busiest time of his younger years. A few weeks into this they rode by Tristan on his way to the small village that became Skildaur during the rebellion of the Thunders. While riding by Tristan they saw a very familiar head stuck on a spike on the wall of the fortress. Koren, instructed Tanza to cover his eyes, but he peeked through his fingers to see the mostly decayed head of his beloved mother who had been badly bruised as she was beaten to death. This grizzly sight brought a sense of true fright in Tanza’s mind, and the realization that his life would never be the same. As he learned from his father how to buy from a craftsman and sell to a customer for a favorable margin, Tanza also learned the basics of manipulation, and lying as he observed Koren degrade and slander the competition. He began making a game out of his lies, and tried to see how far he could go with his stories, before the person he was conversing with began to disbelieve him.   After some success, they settled into a small house within Stuckaa (Which became Dalthenton after the rebellion of Thunders). At 12 years old, Koren felt Tanza needed to pursue some form of stable life in a town. In Stuckaa Tanza felt settled enough to try and make friends. The friends he found, however, were anything but. He was harrowed by a group of 3 other boys and a girl, that made Tanza the object of their torments. The leader, Hanya Pecola, was a half-elven boy with a sharp chin, and an even sharper sneer at anything he found distasteful (which Tanza often found himself on the receiving end of). His slender features, light gray eyes, and platinum blond hair made him the object of much affection throughout the girls of his age in the primarily human city. Hanya would often use acceptance into the group as motivation for Tanza, with the right of passage being ever-more humiliating or criminal tasks. Proverbially worshipping the ground Hanya walked on was the little human girl, Paige Amarath. Tanza to his dying day could recall her fair freckled skin, vibrant brown eyes, and brown hair. Paige would do horrible things to Tanza to try and gain Hanya’s approval. Tanza was so desperate for her attention, that he only fought the humiliations that were extremely degrading. There was a halfling boy, Andeny Beetlittle, with curly locks of red hair and a snub nose that was red like he had just ran into a boulder. His rosy cheeks and perpetually furrowed brow made him look somewhere between deep in anger, or constipated. Andeny would try and use his wit to humiliate Tanza, in all sorts of ways, but would immediately cry whenever Tanza retorted with a statement that turned Andeny’s logic on itself. Then there was the high-elf Hottra Rend, the son of a council mage in Mattenmoore. Hanya often looked at Hottra with his sneer, but kept him around because the rest of the group liked him well enough and on many occasions his abilities as a prodigious mage proved useful to Hanya. Hottra was often the ideas man when it came to the torments. Hottra was very talented in his casting ability, and Tanzs knew this most of all. Hottra would often use magic to trick and fool Tanza to convince Tanza to do the various activity so Hottra would stop the illusion of a woman huddled on the ground being beaten by guards and torn apart by dogs. This illusion particularly affected Tanza, and Hottra preferred such an illusion for the reaction it got. Most people in the kingdom had heard the story of the crazy woman who killed a knight, and then attacked a guard when the smell was too much.   The group would follow Tanza around, making a game out of how much “convincing” it would take to get him to do something that would get him in trouble with the guards, or their parents. From ripping his books, to trying to get him to confess in front of the group his feelings for Paige, to getting him to steal or vandalize the local shops. As they all got older the tasks got more and more serious. From eating strange bugs and objects to petty theft, and various other activities that Tanza did for the group to leave him alone for a week or 2 at a time. That was his reward for being “convinced.”   These actions went on for 3 years, and at 15 Tanza snapped. On his birthday, Tanza had enough of their torments, and punched Hanya in the nose. Tanza broke Hanya’s nose, but the group immediately pounced on Tanza and held him down beating him. As Tanza was held down, Hottra cast burning hands directly onto Tanza’s left arm. This made his left arm charred to the bone, and made any movement incredibly painful. A local villager heard Tanza’s screams, and the group ran from the seen, when they heard Ms. Sondah Goothren’s “Hello?!” as she ran to the sound. Ms. Goothren was the local librarian within Stuckaa. Many people in the town were afraid of her because she was a rather stout half-orc woman. When Ms. Goothren carried Tanza back to his father, Koren got the wrong idea for the events that transpired, as Hanya, and his mother beat Tanza to his house. Koren seemed very displeased with Tanza for assaulting the elven child that his father thought he was friends with, and thinking that Tanza was lying, refused to take him to the cleric for healing. Instead, Koren required his son to heal naturally, though he did apply the burn salve every night to Tanza’s arm. The reaction that Tanza received from his father seemed particularly cold to Tanza, and what particularly struck him was how calmly he said, “keep this up, and you will end up a martyr like your mother.” This took Tanza aback, and Tanza became suspicious of how well prepared his father was when his mother had “her episode.”   For 3 months the bullies left him alone, as he did not give them enough of a reaction to entertain them. Tanza saw them as the inconsequential beings they were, and felt he had bigger things to deal with at the time. During this time, he watched Koren carefully for any hint that his father knew more about what happened to his mother than he originally let on. Koren thought that Tanza was just ashamed of his burned arm, and that Tanza was hanging around the house more often. When his father would leave the house, he would immediately search the room his father slept for any clues. Eventually he found a bag of coin and a letter with the seal of the Magistrate of Tristan. The letter detailed how his father found the corpse of the guard by the foul smell, and his testimony, that he pretended not to notice the atrocious smell, and that Koren set Vortia up to be killed, for money claiming that she had voiced displeasure of king Tristan.   In Tanza’s words “He went to the fucking Magistrate, and ratted out his own wife…” His mother was the person Tanza was closest too, and he had grown to trust his father recently, this whole situation pained him greatly. He concluded that he needed to ask his dad, and give him the chance to explain what he was thinking when he decided to kill his wife using the guards of Tristan as the weapon. As he waited, he got more worked up and more emotional, as he remembered on repeat the dog breaking the flesh of his mother’s arm in front of him, and the guard beating her while, Koren carried him out of the only true home that Tanza had known.   When Koren got home, Tanza confronted his father. “Why did you contribute to Mom’s death?” he asked very bluntly, and after some stammering and repeating himself, Koren took a deep breath and came clean, about how much money was offered for the missing knight, that would have allowed for him, and Tanza to move away from the city of the king, live in comfort, and be able to move away again, should something else occur.   Upon hearing this information, he remembered what happened to his arm. He remembered the words spoken, the movements made, and the eyes of Hottra as he seared Tanza’s left arm. In his anger he recreated the movements, spoke the words, and was surprised when screaming the last piece of the verbal component of the burning hands spell, he felt the heat burst from his hand, the fire in his eyes, and his very being reaching out, and grasping for Koren through the fingers of flame. Then horror hit Tanza as he saw his father catch up in a burst of fire, and scream as he was burned alive. Koren ran out of the house until collapsing into the street neighboring the house, and after much screaming, and pure agony finally died.   Tanza looked at his hands, surprised of his abilities. He was never wanting to burn his father to death. Tanza just got so angry in the moment. He dropped to his knees and wept over his father’s body. He felt the rain droplets bombarding his shoulders. A chill ran down his spine from the rain, and he was thankful for it, it allowed him to drag his father back into their house without being detected. He was to some degree thankful to his bullies. Through their mind games, they allowed him to detach from his morality, and almost as if he was projecting his consciousness and watching himself, he buried the body of his father in a way very similar to the guard, but this time much, much deeper. He became absorbed by the studies of magic, to harness his gifts. After a week and a half, the amount of people asking him where his father was died down. When Tanza was asked he would claim ignorance, and then allude to the forest surrounding the town. Koren taught him to lie with a tongue of silver.   When Tanza began to go to the library again, a few months later, Hanya saw this as an opportunity to assault him with his group harder than ever. Hanya started to get physically violent, and the rest of the group were very hesitant each time, this began. The group however, eventually joined in the beatings, for fear of being next. The rest of the town thought the kids were playing as they disappeared in alleyways throughout town. This abruptly ceased when in one of the near weekly times, that the group would find him sneaking his way to the library to research the world. It was a few weeks after his birthday, and Andeny found him, as he shifted from cover to cover, to avoid them. Andeny ran to him, Tanza didn’t even try to run. Everyone knew Andeny was the fastest runner in the town despite his small stature. Andeny’s eyes met Tanza’s, and Andeny saw true hatred in Tanza’s eyes. But something worse, he saw a look of pity, from Tanza. This surprised and overwhelmed Andeny. He froze, giving Tanza the opportunity to escape to the library unhindered.   Andeny walked away from that spot questioning why the hell Tanza would pity him… Tanza of all the people in Stanthee (which became Dalthenton). Of all the people in Isharus… Why?   When arriving at the library, Tanza let out a sigh of relief. His lip had mostly healed from the last time it was busted, and his right eye was healing, slowly. As he was reading at the table, he was felt happy again. He was finally reading again, after such a long time. Tanza felt his mind escape again to the Tales of Zadasha, and the Conqueror’s once more. His trance was broken when he accidently kicked the leg of the table and felt a small click. Tanza looked under the table to find a hidden drawer under the table slightly ajar, and an indention in the table leg, that was partially pushed in where he kicked. He pushed the button the rest of the way in, and a book exposed itself as a secret drawer opened. Tanza hid the book away on his person, and took the book home with him while the librarian was distracted.   When he got home he dug into the book. The old, dry book was stiff from not being opened for so long, but the contents were the darkest magics throughout history. Within the texts detailed spells to use death itself, to leech the force of life from those less fortunate, to lessen or amplify the effects of aging, and to reclaim that which was once dead. He then read about how to transform himself into something that to a very great degree was immune to the effects of death. Someone with the power to kill from miles away from a target, and be immune to the effects themselves. Tanza was very ambitious, but was wise enough to know that most of these spells were far outside of his wheel-house… for now. Tanza searched for the easier spells, and found a few that he quickly learned over the course of a few weeks. He kept coming back to the entry that would give him eternal life. He saw it as a ticket to power, a ticket to cease the beatings, the tortures, the pain, and most importantly to him the shame of not feeling like he could stand up for himself.   He hid the book underground with his father’s corpse, when he was finished rehearsing the spells that he felt he might be able to cast, with the limited amount of knowledge he had in the ways of magic. In fact, killing his father was the first spell he had ever cast. His burned hand made his arms fatigue much faster, and he inflicted a lot of pain on himself when rehearsing the movements. A few more times he made it to the library unhindered, but his abrupt change in reading material gained the attention of the librarian, as it went from historical battles, to the accounts of bards describing the exploits of specific wizards. When he was leaving the library Ms. Sondah Goothren stopped him. “I must know honey, what prompted your sudden change in reading material?” This caught Tanza by surprise. For the months after his father died, the only time someone conversed with him, was when he was buying something from them with the money that his father received by selling out Tanza’s mother, or to torment him in some way. “I was reading about the member of a battle, and became curious about his other exploits throughout his life.” From the look she gave Tanza over her glasses he knew he was caught in his lie. “Well, I have seen you coming in for some-time now, and you always come in alone. You have also lost a lot of weight, and it appears your bruises are always new, but always healing.” Tanza quickly shot back, “I uhhh... was working in the stables by Farmer Wrex’s and got hit by a horse that hit me while it ran by….” He acquired the same look Ms. Sondah Goothren had given him before. “Well honey, you still need some meat on your bones. Come on, I am done with my shift for the day any ways.” As they were leaving he felt his stomach rumble. He lifted his good hand and felt his ribs. They had become much more pronounced over the past couple of weeks. He was also much paler from spending more time in the library. He had been so engrossed in his studies, he had forgotten to eat for days on end.   He began walking home, but was quickly stopped by a meaty green hand gripping him by the upper right arm. “Uh-uh, you are getting some food before you go home.” He looked around the entryway to the library to find a tuft of brown hair and the top of a head covered in soft golden hair sticking out from behind a nearby rain barrel. The group was watching Tanza, waiting for him to try and isolate himself from Ms. Goothren, so they could spring on him for another beating that at this point was long overdue in their minds. He followed her with no more protest, and she let go, and began walking towards her home with him in tow. While passing by he looked over, and caught a glimpse of Hanya’s sneer which made him happy. His happiness was quickly soured by the black mark of Andeny’s eye which appeared to have had the socket broken, and was thus swollen shut. It appears Andeny blamed Tanza for the beating that he had received for letting Hanya down.   Ms. Goothren cooked him a vegetable stew that she kept apologizing for. She kept saying that it should have been more “colorful,” but it was the first truly home—cooked meal he had in weeks. They talked about his favorite books, and she suggested more that he would like, and about how if he wanted to join her for another meal, he would be more than welcome. She would constantly compliment him on how well he kept himself despite his arm, and lack of parental figures. When it was time for him to head home, Tanza thanked her for the hospitality, and mentioned how late it had gotten, as they had talked and laughed most of the night while discussing their readings. He thanked her again, and promised he would return to join her for dinner another time, then ran home. He looked at the money he had left, and made the mental note to buy her some fresh vegetables to contribute to the next stew they shared.   It became a tradition to join her for supper with a quick trip to the market before they closed, to make a stew that would hold for longer and taste better. Every time he would try to leave, Ms. Goothren wouldn’t let him, until he took a bowl of the stew with him to eat the next day. Sondah loved cooking for him, and he had put some muscle on due to the larger amount of practice he was getting. Only one time, when he accidentally called her mom, did her attitude sour in his presence. After being asked, she explained that her son was bullied much like he was, and she would feel horrible when she felt she couldn’t help. The city of Mattenmoore at the time was much less welcoming for half-orcs, especially single mother half-orcs. The bullying came to a head, when Sondah’s son, Pikus, disappeared, never to return. She found him when she was looking through the surrounding forests, and found her son hanging from a tree that the wood was warped in the shape of a laughing face. This was commonly used as a dueling ground between mages, and later as the grounds that people would popularly meet up to kill others (which went back to be a popular mage dueling grounds more recently). She moved to Stanthee, to get away from the sour memory, and to keep from going insane. She looked over at Tanza crying, but smiling “it appears I am meant to be a mother as I have found another son.” As Tanza was taking his leave that night, Ms. Goothren stopped him, “Pikus used to wear this all the time as a protective charm, and the only time he did not wear it was the last time. Take it with you, and it may protect you as well,” and placed the bunched-up leather band with a blue stone on the end of it into Tanza’s open hand. He walked home grinning from ear to ear that night.   Tanza still couldn’t move or feel his left hand, but had regained the use of his elbow 19th birthday. He had been practicing nightly each of the spells he had read from his books over the years, and even could reliably perform the movements and words he rehearsed, and the list of spells he felt comfortable with had vastly expanded. Hanya’s group would watch him, but he would constantly be assisting Ms. Goothren with her work, and had taken to spending more nights over at her house than at his own empty house. His supply was running low at this point so they had to cut back on their spending, and he picked up odd-jobs to help support her. Hanya could do nothing more than inconvenience him without direct contact, because even though Sondah was gentle to Tanza, she regarded Tanza as her son, and this was one half-orc that had developed a reputation for being protective of the orphan. At the night of his 19th birthday, Andeny surprised Tanza by knocking on Ms. Goothren’s door, and as Tanza opened the door Andeny stated with an exasperated sigh, “Hey…” “What is it?” Tanza replied. “So, I wanted to apologize for the bullshit we did to you as kids, and I wanted to come and personally apologize to you…. Say over a pint?” Tanza promptly looked over at Sondah, who he seldom left the side of, to prevent more beatings from Hanya’s group, but she did not know that was the original reason, even though it had become something so much more. She smiled in a way that made her nose scrunch, and her small tusks almost show all the way. The smile of a proud half-orc mother. Tanza looked at Andeny which now came up to just over his waist, “Fine, but you get the first round,” and he walked up and hugged Sondah, and said “I will be right back.” Sondah said without a beat “Take your time, I’m glad to see you making friends besides me.”   Tanza went to the local tavern, the Rummed Bum, with Andeny. Known for its particularly strong ale. They talked about their childhoods, and the terrible things that Hanya’s group had done, and Andeny explained that he went along, due to fear of being next. Tanza looked down at his ale “I know”, and Andeny responded, “That’s why you looked at me with pity that time I almost ran you down when we were 15.”   With a sly smile Tanza agreed, and made a quip about being able to take Andeny on. Andeny chuckled, but the smile quickly faded and decayed into tears. “I’m so sorry, Hottra is going to the Mage’s College in Mattenmoore, and Hanya is becoming a knight of Tristan. I am going to the Alabaster Lyseum in Zadasha, and Paige is moving to Halitoe. Hanya wanted to pull one last prank before they split up, and I tried to stop them I really tried…” Tanza stood up brandishing his left arm, “What can they do to me now!” Andeny looked up at Tanza weeping, “it’s not you.” Tanza’s arms fell to the side, “what do you mean?” Andeny looked down, ashamed “they already mutilated me, with the promise of more if I did not play my part…” Tanza asked “How so?” Andeny lifted his shirt to show a scar from navel to the center of his chest, and burns alongside the edges of the scar. “They told me to distract you while they did something truly cruel. If I refused they would take another organ, I was awake as they removed two already, they wouldn’t let me pass out from the pain… I’m so sorry.” Tanza immediately bolted out the door, knowing the object of this torment. Andeny slunk to his knees weeping, quietly chanting to himself “Please let it be enough, please no more. Please let it be enough, please no more.”   Tanza ran, and ran. Cutting corners, through the alleyways, he noticed some of the long-dried blood on the wall, in one of the least used alleyways he ran through from a beating when he was 14. He made it to the house of Ms. Goothren, and found a bonfire. She was still inside, and was screaming in pain. Tanza ran in panicked. From the front entrance he saw Ms. Goothren crawling toward the entrance of her house. Why didn’t her legs work?... That was when he saw the trail of blood behind her as she crawled. She had been stabbed in the stomach, and the back of her thigh had been cut… her right leg was useless, and with how much blood she had lost, she would not make it out alive. Tanza walked up to her, and used a spell of sanctuary on himself, and covered her with his body to shield her long enough to say goodbye. They sat there in the fire that ate what was once her worldly life, as her breath left her.   Tanza continued to sit there until long after the blaze had razed the small 1 room house to the ground. He was thankful for the ability to say good-bye, but the group would pay for what they had done. They would all pay, now they had killed the person closest to him in the world. Tanza marched home, and dug up the book from the hole in his home, and set off to Halitoe first.   Tanza went on many adventures developing his skills in his travels. He never used the necromantic abilities afforded to him by the book. Those were to be used only under… special circumstances. He did find a knack for wizardry however, and thus was a valuable member of many-a-party. The parties of adventurers that Tanza travelled with would always be surprised about how driven he was, but he never told any of them why. The parties that pried just got lies, which he would pull off with such adeptness that very few would catch on.   When he made his way to Halitoe, he was caught off guard by how well Paige had been doing for herself. She had become a very prominent blacksmith. There were 3 other competitors for the best blacksmith, and there would often be competitions to find the best of the 4. She would never win, but learned a lot every time one of these competitions would take place. The first competitor was a half-elf Anyato Unthen, he had the habit of wiping his nose while working, so he would often have a moustache of soot even though his elven side never let him grow facial hair. His black hair however would make his smear of soot look real but very unkempt. The second competitor was a human Arden Blastoth who was more of a personality than a craftsman, he would always sing while he worked, and though he did produce quality product, his clientele would primarily go to his smithy over the others for the experience he offered. The third competitor of Paige’s was by far the best, a dwarf named Othrak Agersbach, he had come from a notorious blacksmithing family from the mountains of Vorthund. Getting a little old in years, the most visible piece of flesh sticking out of his enormous beard was his bulbous round nose, and the balding top of his head. Othrak had a huge black beard, and long brown hair. In fact, the change in color was one of the only identifiers where his hair ends and beard began. During one of the competitions, as she was lifting a horseshoe she was crafting out of a rain barrel after cooling it. The piece of metal, got extremely hot suddenly. Paige didn’t react fast enough to let go, and it melted the flesh of her hand to the horseshoe. She began screaming in pain, and everyone looked over at her. Not many people watched her skills, as she was relatively new and the established blacksmiths would put on more of a show. Arden immediately dropped his tools to come and assist, and Othrak calmly set his tools aside to come to her aid. Anyato however, kept working as if nothing was happening. He wanted to beat Othrak just once, and when Paige was distracting him seemed like the perfect time. Paige tried to pull the horseshoe out of her hand, but he r seared flesh began peeling off her hand with it. She began looking around and saw a young man with a necklace poking out of a brown robe a pale blue stone with a leather strap. Her eyes widened as she realized the necklace was in fact the blue stone that he remembered Tanza wearing, when Hottra started getting so angry. She knew right then what was about to occur. Paige noticed a finger poke out from inside of his robe and a black ray of energy come rocketing toward her… Tanza was merciful with her, she felt very little pain, compared to what the others would. Everyone ran for their lives. When they finally returned to the stage, her corpse was no-where to be found. A week later her body showed up in Stanthee with “Enabler” carved across the forehead of the corpse, in the ashes of what was once the house of Ms. Goothren.   Andeny enjoyed a life caring for the books and scrolls of the largest collection of knowledge in the world. The Zandashan Empire knew of the importance of history, and the knowledge accrued by the beings that came before. Andeny was learning how to take care of the books, and was mastering the new curing process with a magical resin to protect the parchment from harm. At night he would read about the Zandashan Empire, out of curiosity of how the continent he was now living in, became so rough outside of the cities, and how the Empire became the political environment it was. The Zandashan Empire was known for its tactical abilities, and being able to use the Jentarian Jungle to the south as well as the inhabitants. The Empire treated the inhabitants with civility, and thus the inhabitants of the Jentarian Jungle were willing to share their secrets. In fact, there was a story that exemplified that point. The recount of Kinyata, the native of the Jentarian Jungle, and the Imperial officer Sakdar Lentin. Sakdar was the only Imperial Officer to treat an inhabitant poorly, and attempted to assault Kinyata. Sakdar had been drinking, and found Kinyata very attractive. He followed her home as she left the encampment, and was trying to get aggressive with her. She ran Sakdar’s own sword through and got away. Kinyata became a Sturd (lieutenant) as soon as she came clean in the Imperial Army, after another village person collaborated her story and she demonstrated her abilities to fight. Sakdar was hung by the tendons in his heels from a near-by tree, and then all his men made small cuts until the last soldier slit his throat and drained him of his blood on the jungle floor. As Andeny finished his readings, he had nightmares for weeks, of a man in a black robe. One-night Andeny woke up and leaning against the wall of his chambers was a figure in a black robe. Hanging out of the black robe was a small pale blue stone. Tanza walked slowly toward Andeny. Andeny couldn’t move. Tanza smiled as his hold person spell had taken effect on the prone Andeny. Andeny couldn’t even scream, as Tanza leaned to his ear and whispered softly “I believe it is time for me to show you the pain Ms. Goothren felt as she bled to death.” He gagged Andeny, and every time the hold person would wear off, Andeny would let out a muffled scream, and Tanza would re-cast Hold Person on him. He re-opened Andeny’s old scar and began taking out pieces of Andeny… slowly… carefully. As he held Andeny’s beating heart in his hand, Tanza with a grin whispered. “Now you know what it feels like when you take someone’s heart.” He let the gag drop from Andeny’s lips, “Last words?”. Andeny gasped for air, and Tanza watched the lungs try and inflate, and only do so partially and with great effort. Andeny whispered, “Hottra…. Was… Behind…. Everything...” With that, the last tear fell from Andeny’s wide eyes as Tanza squeezed his heart, preventing it from pumping, until it stopped. Tanza then carefully put everything back in that he had taken out, and sowed the wound back up. Tanza used one of his spells to heal the corpse post-mortem. He was found in his chambers with the word “Coward” carved from his navel to his chin. A week later the grave was found exhumed, and the body appeared in Stanthee among the dead of the grain massacre. Where Ms. Goothren’s house used to be. (The grain massacre was a response to the rebellion of Thunders beginning. The guerilla war-fare that was engaged in. King Tristan was enraged by the “coward’s tactics,” and ordered scouts to track down the rebels. The scouts tracked the fighters to Stanthee, and Tristan ordered the knights to Slaughter every man, and woman that gave resistance, leaving the old, the weak, and the people who willingly gave 75% of their yearly yields to the cause of the crown. This massacre made the innocent people who died martyrs, and further incited the rebellion of Thunders. Andeny was finally buried namelessly in the mass grave that was created to bury all of those who died in the massacre.   The time to transport the corpse back to Stanthee from the Alabaster Lyseum in the Zandashan Empire took more time than Tanza expected. He was pushing 30 when he finally made it back, his arm never made it back to the way it was after Hottra burned it. He never forgave Hottra or Hanya for what happened to his arm. He had already lasted longer than many of the time, but he knew he would not be able to keep up with the high-elf, and the half-elf in the terms of lifespan. The plans he had meant that his revenge would need more time to come to fruition. Tanza looked back at the ritual in the book he got from the library that promised him ever-lasting life. It required the slaughtering of an innocent being, which bothered him greatly. Tanza pondered what innocence truly means, and made up his mind. What if it was an innocent person destined for evil? He remembered the newborn 3 houses down, and used a ritual granting himself clairvoyance into the future. That child will grow up to be a simple farmer, and he couldn’t come around to killing her… What about the other child in the town of Stanthee?... She was going to grow up and marry rich, but neglect her family for her station… Evil but not evil enough. This process repeated itself, iteratively for 3 weeks. 3 innocent persons a day. Finally, he found her… the perfect innocent for the sacrifice. The wife of Hanya himself. Hanya had become a king’s guard and there was no way Tanza could kill him, to get to her… not with how frail his arm was. Tanza would have to catch them unawares. Tanza went to his hometown of Tristan. When he was a child, and used to play around town, Tanza would find secret passageways that explored the ins and outs of the city. He knew a way in.   He made his way to Hanya’s home, and did the drawings for the ritual outside of Hanya’s house. Hanya was inside asleep with his wife, as Tanza let himself in... He would only be a minute. The lock came undone… It would be collateral damage. He walked down the hallway… It was necessary. Walked into the room… Ms. Goothren needed vengeance. Tanza stood over the sleeping couple… and… and… heard a baby crying? Tanza backed up. The cries broke his concentration, and his invisibility fizzled away. Not like this. Hanya pushed his wife to wake her up, and with a “take care of it,” Hanya rolled over and went back to sleep… Asshole. His wife got up, and groggily walked into the other room, to the screaming child. Hastily as she left the room Tanza recast invisibility on himself, carefully followed the woman to her screaming child. She grabbed the child, and with a dirty look to the bedroom that her husband was sleeping in, she exited the house.   On her walk, Tanza followed behind. He cut a corner to an alleyway, and went around the building she was walking in front of. She walked out of the alleyway on the other side to let her see him. With a protective stance of her child. “Who are you?” Standing stoically Tanza stood in the alleyway partially covered by the shadow, “Someone who can help you relieve yourself of your… ailments.” The wife raised an eyebrow, “you do not know who I am do you?” Behind his back he finished casting the image spell he was working on. Another Tanza standing behind her and slightly to the side, “I believe the ignorance is reversed, wife of Hanya…” He saw the panic in her eyes, the way she stood up much straighter, and how he was scaring her. Quickly, desperately Tanza blurted, “I mean you no harm, I just…” He was cut off by her making a run for it… shit. He ran after her, “Please wait I don’t want you to fall and.” Her foot hit a rock and she went air-borne. With no regard to herself she grasped for the baby that flew from her arms as she fell. Tanza quickly cast telekinesis and the baby’s descent ceased. The mother’s head was split open on a rock however, and her head was dented in. Through a series of gurgles from the blood welling up, the only word she got out was a breathy labored, “Thank you…” She died with Tanza cradling her head in his lap crying. Then he looked around, and noticed his location in the road. The drawings of the ritual directly below her. The drawings began lighting up as he brought the child over to him, and held him. The child was crying, and he felt so guilty for the child losing its mother. The entire circle shot a beacon into the sky, and he felt invigorated, he felt stronger, faster, more powerful. When the beacon died out, the child looked healthier as well, and Tanza had some use of his hand back. The cheeks had redeveloped the rosy quality. He didn’t know where to take this child. He couldn’t take the child inside, and there were guards on the way.   The torches of the guards began lighting up the alleyway adjacent to where he was laying. Tanza wrapped his cloak around the child, and cast his last invisibility for the night. He stood up, and quietly walked out of Tristan. He traveled to Stanthee to the Kree family that owed him a favor from his adventuring. They had recently lost a child, due to the Grain Massacre. He took the child there, and left it with the family, knowing that they would take care of her. The child was pure, and Tanza’s clairvoyance revealed her to be a great woman, that would lead Stanthee into the age after the rebellion. Tanza continued working on the ritual promising eternal life. He completed the process, and even drank the poison of the phase spider, a truly lethal dose. Tanza was confused why he didn’t die though, and it felt like he began aging faster than before. He felt he was giving up his life to use the magics of the book. Tanza lay in exile for a few years within Zadshuur. He was 34 years old, but looked to be pushing 50. Tanza started back to Tristan, to hunt his tormentor. Hanya was going to pay for what he had done…. Then he stopped himself. Hadn’t he taken enough from Hanya? He decided what he had done was enough, and wanted to settle down and use his talents for good. He made up his mind to spend the next week helping an elderly couple in Zadshuur, Okren and Dalah Flateé, with his magic. That week became 6 years as he cared for them throughout the twilight years of their lives, doing all they could to make their lives better. At 70 years old Okren Flateé, on his death bed, thanked Tanza for all he had done for him and his wife, as Tanza brought him warm soup. As his wife had died a year earlier he said, “I wish I could have seen my dear Dalah…. One last time.” This broke Tanza’s heart as he had come to care deeply for them both. Tanza couldn’t stand to see Okren cry, “do you want to see her again?” Okren replied, “oh, could you? Just an illusion or so will do.” Tanza replied “I can do you one better.” He spent the next week, when he was not taking care of Okren, researching in his book and performing a ritual to bring Dalah back. At the end of the week he was finishing the ritual, and that was when the whispers came. Discordant whispers from all around him. The voices of the long dead, whose voice no longer held sway in the world… vying to lament their pain, or ridicule. Whispers of those trying to cling to some further semblance of life. These whispers droned on into a buzz, as piercing through the other voices was a particularly familiar one. Dalah’s voice rang true. As she approached him she was not in pain anymore. She was at peace. Dalah was vaguely transparent, and her clothes and hair ebbed and flowed with her movements as if she was in water. She said with a hushed voice, “what do you wish of me sweetie.” This made Tanza very curious. Why wouldn’t everyone like this. Goodbyes when none could be had previously, answers to burning questions never asked, and love exchanged with those long lost, but never forgotten. Tanza thought to himself that he should bring Ms. Goothren back and have that vegetable He absent-mindedly took Dalah’s hand and led her into the room with her husband… Her husband was not pleased.   “What have you done with my Dalah! You have replaced her with a demon!” Okren screamed as he clamored up the wall against his bed as best he could. Okren began heaving, and sweating profusely. With open arms Dalah drifted towards him, “it’s ok my love, I have come for you. I have come to take your hand and lead you on.” “You are not my wife!” He seethed, hunkering down and making himself as small as possible.” Dalah reached out and Okren flinched, “My wife died! You are nothing more than an abomination from pandemonium!” Tanza watched her face contort in the emotional hell that Okren’s words had brought her. Dalah could not contain herself and let out a shriek. She attacked Okren, and tore into him ripping Okren apart in her anger. Tanza ran in fear of what he had seen, down the stairs and out the door, he ran. He reached the end of Zadshuur, and stopped to catch his breath (Flateé’s house became notorious for being abandoned, and fell into disarray).   Tanza remembered how his mother was murdered for trying to hide the body of a knight of Tristan. He didn’t want to die like his mother did. If he died here, his life would have been for naught. He fled the city of Zadshuur, and went to the countryside (After the Rebellion of the Thunders this area also became referred to as the City of Ashes). The country-side to which Tanza fled, he finally found the peace in silence. Long walks in the forest made him happy. He wished everyone could experience this, no war, no strife, and most importantly no one else around to torment him. With his time alone, he could understand who his true enemy was. King Tristan himself was the corrupt individual with enough power to cause the knight to feel entitled enough to force his mother to kill. The grief he had seen through the kingdom was all traced back to something Tristan had done. Tanza had to overthrow him. (He was regarded as Tanza the deathless during the Rebellion of Thunders)   A knight in steel armor with a golden talon grasping at an oak leaf, the symbol for the knights of Tristan, found Tanza in the woods. The knight, Pendan Torn, came up to him blade drawn blood streaming down his face, “Hanya has betrayed us looking for you.” Very curious for this seemingly random man to say. “How do you know who I am?” Tanza stepped back hesitantly. Pendan glanced at his arm without saying a word. “Where is he now?” Tanza inquired hiding his arm in the dark brown dirty cloak he had been living in for the past month. With a pause Pendan’s vaguely wrinkled face drooped truly showing his age, “almost here.” He looked around evaluating his surroundings. He was in a meadow, within a forest. Many places to hide… many ways to be ambushed. Tanza looked at Pendan, he was a little late in years, but useful all the same. Tanza didn’t want to kill him, but he needed this man. Brief words muttered and a swift hand wave, as Pendan grabbed him by the shoulders and said “I have to get out of here, he attacked us when we came out here after chasing you under the pre-tense of hunting a fugi..” Pendan began gasping for air, but none came to him. Pendan turned blue, then purple, and finally pale as his life slipped from him, despite Pendan’s desperate cllinging to his throat, and then Tanza’s legs after he fell.   Tanza began to prepare him.   Hanya stepped into the clearing, bloody sword in his hand. “I am going to take every grievance I have ever had out on you. You know that, right?” Hanya called out to the meadow, and the cloaked figure in the center. Hanya dashed across the meadow and deftly brought his sword through the arm of the being in the cloak. The being didn’t react as the arm sloughed off in a spatter of the blood from the sword mixed with the blood from the arm. Hanya looked down at the arm, and noticed on the arm-guard the golden talon grasping at an oak leaf. He looked up in just enough time for the remaining arm to thrust a sword point into his eye. Hanya let out a cry of pain, as what was left of Pendan stepped back into a wide stance with the missing hand out toward Hanya and the other holding Pendan’s sword back, cross guard by the cheek, and the tip pointing toward Hanya. Their blades clashed again and again, as Hanya coaxed “come out you coward, show me the face of the bastard that took my wife from me!” Tanza let his invisibility down. Hanya, dispatched Pendan’s undead corpse, and met Tanza’s gaze and stopped. “You… you died in the fire” Hanya’s sword dropped onto the ground. Hanya lost his lunch as the world began spinning faster, and faster. Tanza had to kill Hanya, or Hanya would be able to find him again, and Hanya wanted to kill Tanza. Tanza had to survive to overthrow Tristan, being the cause of his mother’s death, and Hottra the one who Andeny admitted was the mastermind behind Ms. Goothren’s death, before he gave his last breath.   Tanza smiled as the nausea took Hanya. Hanya was caught in a world of illusion, and didn’t realize that the nausea was from Hanya being disemboweled one knife wound at a time. As Hanya collapsed. He decayed Hanya’s corpse sufficiently access his skeleton. What better container?   Tanza used a spell to heat the bones until the skeleton had completely melted, he then transmuted the puddle, and solidified the bones into a small hexagonal box and lid. He spent weeks etching the box to fit his needs. Finally, the last stage of the long series of rituals was ready.   On the outside he looked 70, despite being 41 and seemed to be aging more rapidly as the final ritual was nearing. He brought the knight, Pendan, back again with a spell, that caused Pendan to rip the bloody skeleton out of its flesh, muscle, sinew, and blood that once housed it leaving a puddle behind. Tanza then assigned the task of the skeleton to finish the task Tanza had before him when Tanza could no longer continue. Pendan’s skull nodded, and Tanza knew it was time.   Tanza burned a circle into the meadow he was standing in. He then burned the ground into a magical diagram depicting the symbols of casting away the ethereal plane, the astral planes, and the outer planes. Then the inner most diagram of the ritual circle, symbolizing the process he was about to undergo, and what that meant. The heap of flesh that used to contain Pendan began to leak the blood that had already started the coagulation process into the indentions where he burned the ground… it wasn’t enough blood.   Tanza called animals to him desperately. The only thing that answered the call was a single deer. A deer was his father’s favorite animal. When Koren was travelling with Tanza oh so many years ago, Koren would stop whenever he saw a deer, and just watch while whispering to Tanza how majestic and strong the beings were. His father speaking of these creatures played on repeat through his head as he approached the deer. The deer seemed very wary of him, and after 2 steps toward the deer, it tried to run for safety. Tanza let the deer run for a second, and then came to terms with his need of the deer, he cast out his memories of his father and raised his hand clenching it into a fist as he brought his arm up to just in front of his chin. Massive walls of stone burst forth from the ground surrounding the deer, as it cried out. Tanza, with tears streaming down his face for the betrayal he felt he was committing by performing this act, made his dagger dance and multiply. The daggers sunk deep into the flesh of the deer until the deer collapsed onto the ground, giving its life blood to the dirt indentions that more than filled the incantation circle.   He lay in the middle of the concentric circles, and felt the thick, chunky, liquid slowly give parts of his hair buoyancy, as the blood filled the indentions behind his head. He lifted the blade, and stopped. He felt his life flash before him, and all that we was giving up in order do what he thought was right. After a brief pause as he truly considered the repercussions this act would have, Tanza plunged the dagger into his own chest. Pendan’s soulless eyes stared down at him, longing for the life that Tanza was casting aside. Tanza cut and cut, for what seemed like forever before he finally died, and then… he woke up again. It worked. He looked around, and the skeleton of Pendan had completed the removal of Tanza’s heart, and placed it in the box made of Hanya’s skeleton. Tanza’s blood was everywhere. His chest was open, but he felt much younger.   Some weeks passed and his body decayed rapidly, but he still could move, and operate like he was much younger, and had completely regained the use of his left arm. Tanza put his amulet back around his neck, and burned the book that had taught him so much. No one should have to pay the price he was forced to, and he felt that he was the only one he could trust to use the power the book gave to him in the right way. He cleaned himself up in a nearby river, and then disguised himself in bandages and robes. Tanza then set out to kill his true enemies with renewed power, and the knowledge of who he should have been pursuing all along.

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