WorldEmber2018

Thoughts of Celuriel: Mortality

Foreword: This article discusses the inner thoughts of Celuriel Geltharieth after a quest completed by the Lost Ones returned her to her former elven form. She had suffered from over 900 years of vampirism and isolation, and now deals with the pains of relationship drama and adventuring parties, and this prose is a lot of rambling IC as she considers recent happenings. It's not really edited or intended to flow as a story, so... enjoy as you wish?   Two weeks ago, I was a monster by all meanings of the word. A vampire of the kind who drank memories rather than vitality - a vetala - created by my own power twisting my sister's dark ritual.   She had wanted me as an undead slave. I couldn't even do that right. I was an abomination, as she liked to remind me, and I would remain one forever if she had anything to say about it.   The mortals have a story similar to mine. They tell of a princess locked away in her tower by a wicked witch who wishes to abuse her powers. She is eventually rescued by a handsome prince who marries her, and they live happily ever after. There are many differences, though. The witch was no relation of hers, but mine is my sister - she loves me, in her own way, but her own thirst for knowledge and power has driven her down a path I can't follow. She did wish to use me, but it was my own fault that it failed. If she'd had her way, maybe we could have become nearer to equals.   Or maybe she would have subjugated my will completely. It's hard to tell with Ludrissiel. Harder, when she tears out your eyes for misunderstanding her. I'm so very sick of the unseeing darkness. But mortals suffer it near-constantly. I cannot see through the shadow of night any longer. I can't make out the birds among the leaves. It's just blackness at the edge of my vision, forcing me to stay nearer the lights. They don't burn like they used to, so it is manageable, but habits are... not easy to break.   Returning to the story. Rapunzel, I think her name was? A princess of Gothadrun, if the myths spoke truly. Her prince was a true gentleman, one who cared enough to fight a witch for her and protected her from the evils of the world. The book doesn't mention his flaws. Nobody is that perfect without being directly from one of the higher planes, and they have their own problems. I think my equivalent would be Aniks Alas'thil, even though his entire group were the ones who rescued me. Firstly: the prince in the book had a noble motivation from the start. The champions - the Lost Ones, I've heard them called - wanted a place to stay. There was no motive of rescue or purity; if I'd tried to defend my home, I guarantee that I would have awoken to its ashes around me.   Oh, Ludrissiel would have been furious... I wonder if I'd have been allowed to help her kill them. It's odd, looking over them now. They're mostly asleep. Aniks looks almost peaceful like this. Whisperbreath isn't resting, but she's barely a person, so I'm not sure she counts. If I have 'friends', they must be the closest thing to them - but if I hadn't stood down when they attacked, things would have been so different.   I'm still not sure why Aniks decided to help me. His previous lover, a human girl, gave him a second chance, but there's a much larger difference between the Abyss-tainted elves of the Underdark and an undead abomination who drains the consciousness of men to stay alive. I could have killed him a hundred times over. He let me drink from his memories - I don't think he realised how close I came to trying to take them all.   Whisperbreath's idiocy is what changed things. Her failure to adhere to a deal she'd made led to my capture by literal devils from the plane of Hell. I didn't expect them to try and remove me from that place. I suppose that's part two of my tale, if I'm continuing with the Rapunzel comparison. She never returned to the tower, whilst I was locked away in another. The idiots decided to try and save me, which... is in line with the traditional heroes of faerie tales, if not completely matching the Prince from her story.   Their original plan was to slay my sister and use her soul as a bargaining chip for my life. I'm glad they didn't try. She isn't only a lich - an undead being of immense power - but she's also a terrifyingly powerful wizard. I don't think they would have been able to win that fight. She'd have come for me instead using their souls as payment. I don't think I would have minded, so long as Aniks was reanimated. She would owe him that much for ensuring the paladin didn't execute me.   She'd probably have killed him again the second I displeased her. Or bent him to her will, just to watch my reaction and punish me for it... but it would be fun for her, and she'd smile, so it would have been worth doing. I did try to be a good sister. I wasn't a complete failure at everything.   Thankfully, Aniks chose a different path, one that led to Tenaerul and the twisted beings inside it. They stole me back from Hell, but the tainted realm had more for us.   I did not expect a path back to life. Nor did I think that the group would ever see it as worth pursuing. I was waiting for them to get tired of an undead monster following them - whether I'd need to slip and kill Aniks, or make another lesser mistake before they killed me, I wasn't sure.   But now I'm... an elf again.   ...How mortals stand being alive, I don't know. Sleeping leaves you lingering so close to the void, defenceless against anything around you, and breathing is a source of constant noise and annoyance. Having to eat takes up time. So does having to drink. It's a colossal waste of energy and time all-round, but after experiencing it once again - I don't think I'd want to leave the colours and emotions behind. It's almost nice looking at Aniks and feeling a spark of something warm.   Though right now, that warmth is a little drowned out by the red-hot anger that feels so very familiar. Anger isn't something that's much different between life and death, though being alive colours it with the millions of other feelings that mortals feel. Undeath takes those away; anger and bitterness are some of the few feelings that linger. If Aniks had done this when I was still dead, I don't know that I'd have stayed. It was hard enough to hold onto the whispers telling me to trust him as it was.   ...this is too vague. Let me explain what happened. We had already spent a day in Soniuch Zan when he suggested that I go clothes shopping with Kraia. He is male, I am female, our clothing tastes are different. The halfling seemed excited at the concept, so we left to wander around. I did not expect him to be using Kraia as a distraction so that he could commit suicide as part of some ridiculous plan based on the gleanings of necromancy he'd tried to figure out from his spellbook. I didn't think he'd try and hide anything like that from me, either, especially not as it ended up with him being declared a champion of the Goddess of Death herself.   But he did. He kept it secret. I don't think he ever considered asking me about it, and if it hadn't been so obvious that something had happened by the mark on his arm, I don't know that he ever would have. I might not be undead anymore, but my sister is an expert on the topic and we grew up together. I've forgotten more about death and necromancy than he's ever learnt.   I don't really know how I'm meant to deal with this betrayal. Ludrissiel would kill him for it, or maybe do some damage that would take the next fifty years to repair. Thinking of hurting him like that makes my chest ache, so I'm not going to. I bet Rapunzel would just forgive him. I'm not Rapunzel, though, and it's not as if I have any I can ask. The others seem to tolerate me because he does, so I cannot ask them, but the alternatives are few.   I think, after reading all of these stories, there is one thing I need to make sure of. Ludrissiel is my beloved sister, and I have left her behind to find freedom. If Aniks wants to begin plying me with deceit and receive trust in return, then... as much as my heart hurts to think it, for whatever reason... I must do the same to him as I did her - leave, and find somewhere to learn what freedom actually is. I think. The mark on my arm seems to feel warmer when I consider that. I'm not sure listening to my fey patron's idea is the best, but she has already helped me once.   Why is living so much harder than simply existing?


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