Ssā the Snake (SAH)
The Veldriss's Shadow
Greetings to those below. I am Death, though Azrael is the name you should use if you want to get on my good side. That certainly is what Ssā realized was important, because wouldn’t you know, the snake has finally slithered off her pillows.
She’s off now, traveling east last I heard, to account for those stirrings people have begun whispering about, but at least I was able to speak with her directly. Except, to speak directly about anything having to do with Ssā is as much a trick as she is.
I suppose it might come as a shock to you hearing I spoke with Ssā considering the many other times I’ve mentioned I’m not permitted to reveal myself. And, for the most part, that’s true. But Ssā is a special case. Ssā is not . . . normal . . . so running with that idea, I was able to act outside the norm, as well. I appeared to her at all because I wanted to know something. What I read in the Velherr Tenants, as I said last time, gave me some questions. Questions that needed answering. After speaking with her, I got my answers . . . more or less . . . and per my expectations, I didn’t like the answers. But, to quote the hags, “It is what is,” and so here we are with the reality we have. We’ll just have to deal with it. What exactly did I learn from her before she left for the east? Well, for one, I had one of my darker suspicions confirmed. Two, I learned how Ssā and Vānima the Veldriss truly met. Surprisingly, it’s not that far off from what’s written in the religious texts, though it is slightly less fantastical than alternate realms of existence. Still very much in the world of Orosta—no descent needed—distraught and alone, Vānima fled the White Citadel palace one night and found herself wandering in the jungles outside the city walls. Ssā slithered out from the shadows and greeted her, and Vānima, thinking she was a normal snake at the time, took her back to the palace and adopted her as a pet for some much-needed companionship. You’ll remember, those below, that Sithuwaye elves need companionship and a sense of connection as much as they need water, so you can understand how lonely Vānima thought she had found herself a friend, especially after the tragic loss of her araya liseté. It wasn’t until later that Ssā revealed her intelligence to Vānima. But, in typical Vānima fashion, she wasn’t alarmed by an intelligent snake so much as she was intrigued, and their alliance was born . . . for better or worse. You see, it was Ssā who introduced Vānima to Cazdaerni the Black Enchantress. And all that stemmed from that introduction is . . . what it is.
A Religion's Shadow
by J. L. Gryphon via ArtbreederThere is also the matter of Ssā’s ability to shadowsteal. I didn’t touch on it in my primary discussion of shadowstealing, namely because it is so rare—in addition to shadowstealers themselves being one of the rarest Orostian talents to date—but there is another aspect to the ability that may be practiced. You will notice, those below, that I said Ssā has the ability to shadowsteal, and yet I did not call her a shadowstealer. This is because she is not. Ssā’s ability to shadowsteal is tied directly to Vānima. The Velherr Tenants mention Vānima sharing some of her divine power with Ssā upon their meeting. What I’m about to tell you is the reality of what the texts were referencing. Shadowstealers may, if they so choose, bind a shadow to themselves. By this I mean, they can bind a person to themselves as a proxy or “shadow” of their own talent. To do this, the shadowstealer must take some of their blood, mix it with that of the person they wish to bind, and in some odd joining ritual, both of them must drink the mixture. What this does is imbue this second person with a murky reflection of the shadowstealer’s own natural-born abilities. They, too, will gain the ability to shadowsteal from this binding, but only so long as the one who granted them the ability remains alive. This is why individuals such as these are referred to as “bound shadows” rather than fully-fledged shadowstealers. Suddenly Ssā’s religious title “The Veldriss’s Shadow” makes quite a bit of sense, doesn’t it? Certainly this opens all sorts of doors, though, right? Why, if this is possible, have shadowstealers not been hunted for their blood so more people might enjoy the ability, however tenuously? Well, simply because the binding ritual I just described is not . . . natural. It was discovered through unsavory practices. Then again, considering the origins of shadowstealing—of which I have given ample warning already—this really shouldn’t be surprising. On top of that, myself and other beings behind the veil aside, this dark knowledge is known to only a handful of Orostian individuals. Most of them are dead now. Most. But of the two who remain, I suspect you won’t get much out of the first, seeing as he is also dead. Technically. Even so he doesn’t remember, nor will he. The second I’d advise staying away from at all costs. I’m not even going to say who the second is to avoid rekindling old disturbances. All this to say, how did Vānima know to perform this ritual and make Ssā a bound shadow? She didn’t. Ssā was the one who told her how to do it. How then did Ssā come upon the knowledge? That was one of my questions, too. It was also one of the answers I didn’t like.
The Lurking Concern
With that in mind, you will no doubt have noticed this discussion of Ssā has very little do to with Ssā herself. This is simply because, as for who Ssā is behind the religious title that makes her famous, there is not much to tell. By that I mean, there is not much known. I have encountered her a few times before our recent little talk thanks to Vānima using her as an assassin on occasion, at least in the early days while Sicarius was still under construction. Seeing how Ssā might transform herself into a beautiful woman only to turn back into a snake later in the night and inject her venom into whatever sleeping victim, you can see how she would be adept at such a task. As a side note, Vānima’s tampering with Ssā made her a lot more venomous than those of her species typically are. I suspect what caused her to become intelligent played a part in that, too. But, hmm, what else can I tell you about her? She likes apples. Loves them, in fact, and all she does is snicker when you point out it is not a common meal for a snake. Speaking of snakes, she likes those, too. Her species are notable cannibals, and despite Ssā’s intelligence that might have granted her higher sensibilities, she never saw the need to abandon the practice. It is at this point I will mention Ssā ate her own mother, a fact she repeatedly mentions with no small amount of glee. Considering how lazy Ssā is—because I can’t go through this discussion without mentioning her beloved pillows at least once more—the fact she musters enough energy to sound gleeful at all should tell you something. But, I suppose the biggest element to Ssā’s character is her intelligence. Only recently have I discovered what made her intelligent—I, ahem, may have gotten a little assertive with my questions—and with that in mind, it is important to understand Ssā is a snake. For reference, her devoured mother was a common snake just like any other. I suspect Ssā’s father was, too. Therefore, the fact Ssā’s mind exists as it does is my lurking concern. My brother certainly finds her amusing. And that right there is reason enough for me to keep Ssā a healthy several arms’ lengths away. If only Vānima would do the same, or had done, though I suppose it is a moot point now. Failing all of that, I hope it at least is reason enough for you. Until next time, those below.
To learn more, hop on over to the books page OR hop on over to the teaser and get a sneak peek of Chapter 1! For more articles like this one, have a peek at my Worldbuilding Journal and explore Orosta.
Image by Willgard Krause from Pixabay
Modified by J. L. Gryphon
Modified by J. L. Gryphon
Honorary & Occupational Titles
- The Veldriss's Shadow
- The Royal Pet
Date of Birth
The White Citadel
Black with red belly
The Religion of Velherr (non-practicing)
- Faolainn (1st - fluent)
- Orostian (2nd - fluent)
- Sithuli (3rd - fluent)
- Zishlyn (4th - fluent)
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