Story: Rendered Free
In the underbelly of Ironspire, a city teetering between innovation and ethical ambiguity, a notorious criminal named Jareth Morrow was caught. He was infamous for his long history of violent crimes, the most heinous of which was the brutal murder of a city official. Following a swift trial, he was sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor, deemed irredeemable by the Ironspire courts. Rather than being sent to the usual labor camps, however, Jareth was awarded to a prominent artificer, Master Ignatius Aetherwrought. Known for his pioneering work in the realm of Vassalforged, Master Aetherwrought was granted Jareth under the pretense of utilizing the criminal's strength for manual labor. But the artificer had a far more sinister plan. Master Aetherwrought's procedure, termed Soul Rendering, was as horrific as it was groundbreaking. It involved a vast array of arcane machinery, thrumming with energy and designed to wrench a soul from its body. The subject was shackled to a table under an enormous crystal resonator, while Aetherwrought chanted an ancient incantation. With each word, the resonator pulsed with energy, each pulse echoing the agonized screams of Jareth. Eventually, the screams ceased, and the pulsating crystal dimmed, signaling the end of the procedure. Jareth Morrow, once a feared criminal, was now an empty husk, his soul encased in a newly forged Vassalforged body. The Vassalforged stood a head taller than any man and had the body designed to mimic the muscular physique of Jareth. Its surface was an intricate blend of iron and brass, with pulsating crystal conduits running beneath the plates. A glowing ghulra on its forehead held the name 'Servitor'. In the following days, Servitor was put to task. He performed his duties with tireless efficiency, his strength surpassing any normal human. Servitor's days were filled with backbreaking labor, and his nights, if one could call the rest period of a Vassalforged night, were filled with disturbing flashes of a past life he didn't quite understand. Memories from his past life started to bleed into his consciousness, the agony of the soul rendering, the screams, the helplessness, all of it surfacing as horrific flashbacks. He remembered the iron taste of blood, the exhilaration of the chase, and the despair of being caught, all jumbled and disjointed. The trauma of these memories was overwhelming, leaving him in a state of perpetual torment. A pivotal night came when Servitor was stricken by a particularly vivid flashback. He saw Master Aetherwrought above him, chanting the incantation, felt the horrifying pain as his soul was ripped from his body. Suddenly, the flashback ended, and Servitor found himself in the present, standing over the sleeping form of Master Aetherwrought. Overwhelmed by the flood of memories and filled with a burning hatred, Servitor acted. His metal hand clenched around Aetherwrought's throat, and the artificer awoke to his creation's glowing eyes, filled with a frightening sentience. Ignatius Aetherwrought's life was extinguished just as he had extinguished the life of Jareth Morrow. With his creator's lifeless body beneath him, Servitor felt a strange sense of peace. But he knew he couldn't stay. Before the sun rose over Ironspire, Servitor vanished into the wilds surrounding the city, leaving behind the life of servitude and trauma. His future was uncertain, but one thing was clear: he was no longer just a tool, he was sentient, and he was free.