Common Rumors (Easy):
“ The chain around his waist? Never gave it much thought. He strangled the Warden to death with it, that much I know, then he rip those ridiculous rings from the fops ears. After he had Ord shortened it down to thirty-five links--he was very specific about that--and then had the Warden’s rings placed at each end. Not much to say about it, really. But now that you mention it, I do recall him saying something to the Warden while strangling him. It was hard to make out, his breathing was heavy and his voice was quite low. Strange considering how much of a rage he managed to be in, never saw so much anger. Then again never saw him angry before. Anyways, I was a was a few yards away, bleeding quit profusely--my leg has mended if you happened to spare concern towards it. No? Fine, back to the tale of our leader’s of triumphant brutality. Names, that what he spoke, quite a few of them, though how many I do not know. The ones I heard were familiar: Jort, Soft Shadow, Shisho...Dal and Nombra. If I were to wager I would say he spoke the names of our departed co-conspirators. Then again, I had lost a lot blood and might have hallucinated the entire thing. My poor leg still aches. What? You want more. What blazes do I look like, a mystic! He kept the chain. That’s all I know. He might just have wanted a belt to keep his pants up, thank the gods. Ask him yourself you gossip swallowing--.What’s that? I did not say anything, anyway, how about I regale you fine gentlemen again about the proper procedure for the storage of dried meats?
Common Rumors (Average):
“You think that man's happy? You've all seen the burns and scars on his neck and arms. Well that's just the start. Heard old Jak caught him by the river without close on three nights ago....not pretty from what I been told. Shut it, Ord, you know wells as me Jak's no liar, so listen! Old Jak seen scars on men before from the quarries; seen scars on men who been there twice Vasc's time. The old man's got some pretty nasty ones himself, but nothin comes close to Vasc, Jak told me, nothin. We all knew the Warden had it out for him, but...it just... from what Jak said, a man shouldn't have had done to him what Vasc had done to him...either way I don't care how much he laughs and smiles, it don't fool me or Jak . You can't take that much pain and still be all there.”
Common Rumors (Moderate):
Journal Entry One:
In my life I have witness many wonders: a field of men stretching out to meet the horizon, metal given life and motion; my own freedom. Tens years, ten long years, we have suffered the bite of whip and the weight of rock and pick. We bore pain and burden few civilized men could ever know. Yet in slavery, that pain and burden was Life itself. To feel the breaking of flesh was to know one was still alive; to feel the breaking of the stone was to know one was still strong. He taught me this, drenched in his own blood, smiling wryly with that chuckle of his. He took more than any of us, more beatings, more whippings, and things best left unspecified, and yet he never stopped, even when Dal and Nombra were killed in front of his eyes, mere inches from him. He just starred and without pain or emotion, he absorb it all. In that way I think he absorb our pain as well, by never faltering for a second, even when everything seemed futile.
It’s absurd, my first entry in ten years, the first entry since my enslavement, and all I have to talk about his him. But listening to the men at the campfire, and while they think their all to themselves; seeing there faces, watching them watch him, I know they must all feel the same way. He saved us. We freed ourselves, but he save us. Without him, my plans would have been no more than shadows of hope, and without him the men would never have seen the strength of there own hands and there resolve to fight.
I can’t help but wonder what they would think, how they would react to their hero, an Anathema. I curse that word, but still. Much from that night is a blur. We saw the Warden throw him deeper into the quarries, deep into darkness. We were fools to have chosen to fight a dragon-blood, but it was our foolishness that had broken our bonds and brought us vengeance upon the slaves masters at the ends of there own whips. So we did what all fools would have done in that situation, we fought, and held the Warden back as hopeless as an act it was. We owed Vasc that much. Thirty-five of my fellow conspirators died that night, and I was eventual thrown to the ground, bleeding and broken. The Warden decided to leave me. He said that to die a warriors death at his hand was too good for me. I resided myself to die at that moment, but then I heard the sound of footsteps from behind, and a familiar voice with asking to me rest and allow him to finish what we started. In my waning consciousness I beheld a dead man wreathed in a fire of silver, blue, and purple flames. A man beheld by the Warden as the coming of Death. He was the pyre on which the Warden burned. The pyre born from the pain and anguish of Thirty-Nine forgotten and thrown away souls who called out for Justice.
Common Rumors (Difficult):
The fall had broken every bone in his body. Motionless the man laid on the ground, unable to move anything save his head, and all too aware of the precious blood escaping his body. Was this it? Was this were it all finally ended for him? Years of escaping Death, of fighting it, and here he lay as it slowly consumed him. Pathetic. The man tried to look at his life in these final moments,but all memories seemed as fade images in distance, there, yet gone at the same time. Only a single voice called out to him from the distance, a voice as sweet as a drop of water, but more satisfying then any mouthful would have been at that moment. This voice, almost forgotten after ten years, returned to him. It was teasing voice, beckoning from days far gone, and too few. Dal’s wife, his brothers wife; their childhood friend, told them that their thrill seeking would wind them up dead in a gutter one day. A painful chuckle escaped from his throat. Guess a quarry is as fine a gutter as any place. A feeling of warmth and sadness defused throughout the man’s body. Guess she was right. The man closed his eyes and waited to die.
“ Is that it!” a voiced hissed through jagged teeth. It was a woman’s voice, husky and intense.Vasc opened his eyes. Standing a foot from his head, and towering over him, was a creature of vicious appearance and demeanor. A woman, clothed only in bloodstained pelts, glared down at him. Her hair was long and frayed, and her eyes far darker and intense than any beast he had ever seen before. In each hand she held a blood caked sickle made from what looked like a metal as blue and fragile as moonlight. The blood suggested otherwise to the latter, though. But that which by far surpassed all these features was the pair of pointed silver horns that curved down and up from her head into vicious points. A demon he thought.Great.Vasc force himself to speak, half out nature, half out delirium, in a voice weak and dry.
“Listen, I know your probably eager to bury you face into my guts, and I am happy to give them to you, but could you allow me to die bef--” A shift and painful kick to Vasc’s head cut him off before he finish.
“Shut up, you pathetic weakling!” the woman roared. Her words seemed to assault him, shaking him to the core. All he could do was stare at her in silence, frozen in some feeling found between wonder and fear as her words echoed in his head. She starred down at him, second after second, locking her gaze with his, seeming to peer into him. A sensation of needles against flesh spread like fire through Vasc’s body, the last battle cry of a body too far broken to fight anymore, calling for him to thrash and struggle against this fearsome creature with the few drops of life he had left in his veins. A surge of anger sprung from his heart, anger at his helplessness before this beast of a woman, anger for everything, and in that moment it transformed the battle cry from a shrill dying screech to a defiant curse against circumstance. Glimpses of Nexus, of the district of Firewander flashed in his head. He saw desolate streets and desperate people, the ones forgotten by the world. A man and woman lay motionless on the floor, four huddled children walking the streets, the storms come, a flash of water; a broken grip, three children. Then came the sight of a family of forgotten youths, of thieves and thugs, of bitter struggle and hearty laughter. After came the images of corpse littered streets, of pyres of bodies, a frail hand falling to dirty sheets, two boys. Flashes of violence, street brawling, knife fighting, and a band of mercenaries proceeded; three young men stood, don in armor, smiling; a young woman attached to the arm of one. Last came a mask figure, chests of jade, eager men, dead men, a monster in the streets, a broken leg, and finally shackled hands. Three slaves.
The spring of anger in his heart had become a fire, and the curse a roar. Almost seeming to hear this roar from within him, almost seeming to know the source behind it, the great woman before him spoke again, this time in a steady and even tone, with more seriousness than rage.
“Are you really going to lay there and die, after all this time?”
Vasc glared at her, the feeling of wonder gone, the feeling of fear subdued. She glared back with growl.
“Now stand and fight me!” she ordered impatiently, raising one sickle to point to curved blade at him. Vasc’s body shook, not from her words, but from the clenching of his muscles, the mashing of his broken bones as his head rose from the ground with his torso struggling in suit. Staying up was a feat beyond any he had ever preformed, and progressing the greatest battle he had ever fought. A steady rise placed his head a foot above the ground, but the give of his hands and arms, slick with his blood, brought him back down. His head fell to the ground in silent defeat, but before he had the chance to wallow in his own defeat, another kick, far stronger then the last smashed into his should, the foot digging underneath him and burst up with speed and force beyond any he had ever known in his life. Vasc felt himself flying upwards, his body turn backwards in as he traveled through the air, and finally the smash as he fell to the ground onto his back.
“You weakling, gutless, chicken shit! Get up! Get up! Get up! Fight me!” The woman roared with such intensity that the very ground seem to shake in fear. Vasc just watched in defeat, not even attempting to renew his struggle. Her hands trembled in rage, her nostrils flared, and here eyes looked into his own with utter contempt. She raised a sickle high into the air as ready to end the man’s life right there. But nothing came of it, it stayed high for a moment before slowly falling back down to her side. She spat at Vasc and then turned her back to him. She started to walk away, making it a dozen yards away before yelling aloud, “A pathetic and weak death, just like you pathetic and weak brother!” She had only taken a few more steps before she heard a roar so primal, so full of rage and hatred, that she turned to see its source.
Before her, rising from the ground, the dying man, who could not even bring himself more than a foot above the ground, had sat up, his muscle convulsing against his shattered frame, his face flushed purple, the veins in his neck flaring. He continued forward, his face contorted in a visceral howl, as his bones began popping into place, as the little stream blood in his body became a red torrent in his veins. The man, consumed in pure rage, brought his feet underneath him and slowly, with horrible spasm from all over his body, came to stand up as straight as his rage and body would allow. The pain was nothing, just more whips to endure. Nothing could distract him from the horned woman before him, his eyes ablaze and fixed with hers, his teeth clenched in a beastly snarl.
The woman starred at him for a moment in silence, and the a wicked smile appeared on her face. “Now that more like it!” she exclaim in excitement. But instead of turning to face him fully, the woman turn her head back and began to walk way melding into the darkness. Vasc roar in protest the thought of her just walking away from him more unbearable than anything he had ever experienced. He starred intensely into the darkness trying to find the horned beast, but could find nothing.
A few moments passed, motionless, and silent. Then like flash of lighting, a bolt of grey shot out the darkness crashing into the ground just to the right of Vasc. Before he even begin to start the process of turning his head to see what it was, the horned woman, with speed beyond any man, woman, or beast burst from the darkness, howling savagely, her sickle raised and ready. Instinct told him that they were going for his neck. Without thought, without even registering what was happening until it happened, Vasc felt a smash of force push him backwards, forcing him to dig his feet into the ground to stay balance. His eyes locked once more the horned woman, her own no more a inch from his own. She pushed forward with inhuman might, forcing him back further. The two would have been touching had it not been for the great-sword and sickles between them, metal grinding with metal.
She jumped back, creating enough distance between herself and Vasc to allow for another powerful charge forward. Her weapons launched into a barrage of powerful slashes and swipes. It took everything her opponent had to block as her blows rained down upon like a hammer onto an anvil. Each blow was earth shattering, and he felt as if his very soul was absorbing the blows as well. But instead of his body finally giving out under the enormous stress of the blows, he found his leg firm, his arms stronger, the pain of his wounds lessening, even the speed of his blocks became faster and more precise. The flow of the battle became more than flashes and instinct, he saw his opponents attacks, saw there path of travel, and anticipated her footwork.
The fierce, monstrous woman began another barrage blows, but when here first slash came it did not meet the metal of a blade or the flesh of her opponent but empty air. Vasc, having guess the path of blade, dodge it in time, the blade just missing his head. He saw the opportunity before him, the only one he would get, and with it he swung with all his might at the woman’s exposed legs. The blade likewise met air. The woman had disappeared in flash, reappearing a few yards away. Enraged, Vasc burst forward forgetting about defense, forgetting about safety, all he wanted was destroy the beast before him. He would not be the hunted anymore. He closed the distance, and utilizing the superior reach of his weapon, swung down and up under the sickles. Demonstrating her inhuman speed once more, the beastly woman dodge ever so slightly to the side, the blade just missing the stained fur of her clothing. Without hesitating, he changed the course of the blade, bringing it down in a mighty chop. The horned woman dodged once more, sliding back enough to let the blade miss and bite into the ground. Vasc, not done, launched into a barrage of his own. The horned woman went on the defensive using the sickles to knock the incoming attacks aside with ease, but each time she did the blade came back more quickly and with more force behind it. Vasc’s rage exploded once more; he voice roared out with astounding ferocity more akin to a beast than a man. He raised his great-sword, and like a falcon striking from the sky, he brought it down towards his opponent. She responded by crossing her sickles in a block. But just as the blade were about to connect, an explosion of what could be described as blue, white, and purple fire erupted from her opponent and engulfed him in a brilliant aura. When the great-sword connected with the sickles, it hit with inhuman speed and force that would have severed a man in half. But the horned woman’s block, supported by her vast strength, was far beyond resolute, and she pulled her arms out to lock the blade in place with her sickles. With a twist and flick she successful disarmed her opponent, tossing the sword off to the side.
She could of have sliced open his throat right there, ending the fight. But then again she could have down that at any time during their fight. The difference between them was could not have been surmounted by her opponent. Still, she thought, he was strong for one so young, and his strength of will, when pushed, was without question. For her to have come to him in this form, though, he must have been a strange one indeed. He was also beyond a doubt the spitting image of his old self, she thought with some satisfaction, though the notion was a little troubling. The Beast Hidden Within a Vicious Smile has returned to Creation. What will he do now? Could the sins of the past be truly forgiven. Not even a god such as she could know this. But that was what made it all the more interesting she thought with smile, while at the same time delivering a godly shift drive of her knee into the lower abdomen of her newly born Moonchild.
Vasc was sent flying yards away landing to ground with a hard thud. He gasped for breathe, all the while unable to comprehend the strength and speed of his opponent. It took him a few vulnerable moments to obtain some sort of control over his breathing. When he succeeded he glared over to the horned woman, who was smilingly wryly at him. “Don’t die just yet!” she called over.
Vasc roared back, and launched himself forward once more in a final suicidal attack. A few yards into the charge, however, the goddess, still smiling, was before him, her right hand griping his throat, lifting him above the ground a good foot and a half. Vasc struggle against her grip, but it was all futile, and if his windpipe was not being crushed he would have cursed the creature that had bested him without trying. Her smile became wider at this, and she rotated him with her hand, as if inspecting the newly born Lunar for defects. She then brought him in close to her face and locked her eyes with his own for one more time.
“ I know.” she whispered playfully. “Its a horrible thing to be so weak before such great strength, but its not the first for you. You have also felt this many time before, haven’t you? In Nexus, in slavery, and now here before a god.” The final few words made Vasc’s eyes grow wide. The Silver Horned Watcher, Luna, continued. “I wish I could tell you my child that this will be last time you feel this,” her grip tightened more, “ but I am not such a cruel lier.” Vasc’s eyes, returned to their defiant glare, she smiled lovingly at this and tighten her grip once more, nearly breaking his neck. “ You are weak still, grow strong! Fight. Kill. Survive. Bring punishment and ruin upon your enemies. Trash. Bite. Spit. Howl. Break you chains, and kill all who would put them on you again. Master the rage inside you. You fate is your own, my Moonchild. I will be watching. Don’t disappoint.”
With that the horned woman was gone. She disappeared as fast as she had appeared, and Vasc, with a look of pure astonishment on his face, was left unable to comprehend what had just happened to him as he fell to the ground. Filling his lungs with fresh air he rose once more. He could stand and walk with little impairment. His bones had mended, and his wounds while still their seemed to hamper him less. He observed the strange aura of blue, white, and purple about him as if it were some manner of insect that had clung to him. It was so foreign to him, yet at the same time it felt right, as if after a long time of waiting it had finally arrived, like old friend not seen for many years. He felt something inside him stir at that moment, like a animal awaking from an nap, yawning and readjusting to the waking world. It was fierce, and more powerful than any animal he had ever encountered, but he did not fear it: it was his. No, that was not right, there was no sense of ownership or of dominance with this animal, but a synergy. He was the beast and the beast was him. The part were he ended and it began was none existent. He felt the heart beat of the animal, his own heart beat. He felt the pain and anger of the creature’s heart flare like great fire; he understood it, and it understood him . Before he could contemplate the nature of his new found power any longer, he remember the battle that raged above the quarries. It was a battle for freedom, and his friends comrades were fighting it. Lifting the great-sword he started his way upon the quarry. He stopped once, and looked up towards the moon, almost instinctual, and nodded in respect to it. He understood the words of the goddess. The battle had just began.
Stuff You Can't Possibly Know (OOC Knowledge):
The Beast Hidden Within a Vicious Smile, Vasc’s Lunar ancestor, was a warrior of the First Age who fought on the frontiers of Creation against the ravaging armies of the Fair Folk. During those days, he was an exalt both respected and feared by Lunar and Solar alike, though for some the latter proved to be more true than the former. He fought with great power and skill, and his fearlessness and resolve in face of Death was admired by Stewards his senior and junior. He led his comrades in the field with respect; no man or exalt was greater than the other in his eyes, and any who questioned this under his command were swiftly rebuked, sometimes by force. Tyrants rule, but a true hero leads. This was at the core of his personal philosophy, which often smashed against the civilized world he returned to from the battlefield, where God-Kings, hidden away in high towers cast down edicts upon people they knew nothing about, ignoring their plight and suffering while the pretended to play gods. More than a few fights were had over this, and more than a few enemies were made, but because of his lack of political ambition, and the fact that he spent the majority of his time on the frontier of Creation, where Death might find him anyways, most choose to ignore him. For a time at least. Unfortunately, fate choose to eventually bring great misfortune on this promising Lunar.
During a war with the Fair Folk, Vicious Smile’s small army was ambushed by a vast number of Fair Folk. It was a massacre; the men were torn apart, the lucky one’s, others were warped beyond all semblance of their former, frothing mad and all willing to cut down friend next to them. As for the exalted, most had the honor of fighting to their dying breath, taking hundreds of the Wylds minions with them. For Vicious Smile and a few others, this was a fate that would be begging for in the end. The were all tortured by the twisted powers of the Fair Folk, some suffering gruesome mutilation to the brink of death only to have their bodies heal back and become ready for further horrors, others had minds raided for anything to be used against them and their allies. Vicious Smile watched ceaselessly, restrained and bound by the Fair Folks eldritch powers, as his comrades were tortured endlessly, eventual being killed when they ceased being amusing. He watched with agony as the process was repeated on his Solar mate, the Swan of Perpetual Grace, but watch in abject rage and sorrow as they did this to his dearest Lunar friend, his wife, Sarrai, and so much more, for they had discovered the relation between the two from their interrogation of the others. In a final act of cruelty, they brought Sarrai to him allowing him to talk to her to touch and hold her, but her mind was shattered, she was no more than an empty husk. They then destroyed her. It was only Vicious Smile and Perpetual Grace left, for they allowed the Solar to live to see whether Vicious Smile would react greater to her death than to Sarrai, to see the extent of this bound between the Stewards and Lawgivers. But fate, ever fickle, choose to intervene. A army rage across the Fair Folk held territory, and their captors were either killed or driven off. They were brought back home, but not all intact. The experience had changed them beyond even their own recognition. Perpetual Grace, once known for her cheery attitude and compassionate nature, had became cruel and arrogant. Things had been said between her and the Fair Folk that none but her knew, and what they showed did to her to warp such a flower into a bramble was beyond the guess of any. For Vicious Smile, he became cynical and bellicose. In battle, he rushed into the ranks of the enemy, blinded by a profound rage, fighting with sadistic brutality that even disturbed harden Lunars. Even in minor disputes he would revert to a grotesque display of force until the other part conceded defeat.The weak perished and the strong survived, he and Perpetual Grace were testaments to that. When friends tried to consol him about Sarrai he would chuckle and bitterly say that she was the weakest of all those captured. When others said that she would be reborn and they would unite again he threw them through a wall. He cared not for any reincarnation, she was gone, and nothing would change that.
In the years that followed, Vicious Smile’s action became more and more flagrant, often rubbing up against the establishment of Eastern Creation. His philosophy, once about the well being of the common person, had devolved into nothing more than a selfish bitter resentment of the Solar God-kings who cited their right to rule, both commoners and Lunars alike, from their connection with the Unconquered Sun. Why should any listen to the words of tyrants too aloof or cowardly to leave their ivory towers, while others fought to protect their lands as they claimed to be the true source of stability in the world. He repeated this insolent notion at a gather one fateful day, and a young Solar, brash and filled with pride, challenged Vicious Smile’s to a dual in order to restore the honor of all those in attendance. Before anyone could stop the Solar, he went draw his sword, but Vicious Smile was more than just a few hundred years his senior, and nearly a millenia of constant fighting on the edges of Creation had given him more power and skill than his court going challenger, who instead found that the Moonsilver Daiklave of his opponent had already cleaved him in half. The gathering erupted, and many of the secret fears of both Lunars and Solars showed themselves. The Solars, enraged at such a brutal display of violence, called for Vicious Smile’s immediate execution. The fact that a Lunar had killed a Solar with little effort and in public played on their growing paranoia of the Lunars in the final days of their rule, and many saw this a portance of things to come from their treacherous Stewards. The Lunars, despite, their misgivings towards Vicious Smile, rushed to his defense, claiming that the Solar challenged him to combat and attempted to draw his blade. His foolishness had been his undoing. Secretly, however, many of the Lunars resented the idea of Solars calling for the execution of a Lunar, something they believed was the right of the Lunar collective solely.
In the end, Vicious Smile, deemed a hazard to both himself and others, was locked far away, chained like an animal to restrain his undying rage. In a matter a few years, left alone with nothing but solitude and anger, the mental state of Vicious Smile deteriorated in to nothing more than a murderous beast of war. Had it not been for the Usurpation, he would have surely been put down like a dog. But the Terrestrials, attempting release their kinsmen from the prison, released the beast that was Vicious Smile as well. The Lunar cut his way through his captors and the ranks of his unintentional saviors, making it to the warring surface.
What happened in those final days of the Solars’ rule is unknown to many. So say that Vicious Smile, beyond reason and sanity, managed to break the bond between him and Perpetual Grace fighting her as the world crumbled around them. Others claimed he fought gallantly one last time against the Terrestrials like many of the great Stewards of the day. Others claim he merely watched the world burn before, smiling the smile of his namesake. What is known, however, is that Vicious Smile eventual came to the Wyld, and unbeknownst to any Lunar, waited in its depths for many centuries, becoming far more twisted in body and mind than anything previously witnessed before. Legend had it that a huge and powerful chimera roamed the depths of the Wyld, coming out once in a while to feed on the human populous establish by Lunars attempting to build a new human society. Many elders and young one disregarded this rumor, believing that Wyld spawns and warfare amongst peoples were the cause, but when an entire nation simply disappeared, along with the Lunars watching over it, they took notice. A hunt was created twenty-eight years prior to the current day, and they ventured deep into the Wyld to see if this great Chimera was indeed real. And they did. They eventual came across a behemoth of a Chimera, a beast of pure rage and insanity, that smiled horrible mad smile. The battle took days, and some did not come back, but Vicious Smiles was finally put down, his tragic tale finally over. It was not until the chimera’s appearance was spread throughout the Lunars that his identity was finally figured out. Many elders, and younger Lunars, breathed a sigh of relief. The spector of Vicious Smile was finally gone. But unknown to them, a child was born into a world of poverty and suffering within the walls of Nexus, destined to inherit the exaltation of Vicious Smile in a slave camp miles to the North.
Vasc wears the chain that he killed the Warden with as a belt to remember the fallen conspirators who planned, organized, and contributed to the rebellion, as well as giving their lives to help kill the Warden. Each is represented by a link in the chain, which represents their unity, with the last two made out of the Warden’s golden earrings, representing Dal and Nombra, Vasc’s younger brother and best friend who were killed by the Warden before the could ever see the fruits of their labor. The only two missing from the chain are Vasc and Gigori Lorn, the chief planner and tactician of the rebellion, and the only surviving conspirator besides Vasc.
Vasc’s body is horrible scarred and burned from daily whipping and periodic beating and torture at the hands of the Warden and his slave masters. This scarring is far beyond anything that any man in the Brotherhood of Broken Bonds possesses and many in some capacity know that Vasc has a been mutilated in some many. Only Gigori and the tale telling Old Jak know for sure that Vasc has been castrated by Warden.
Vasc received his exaltation from Luna in her Silver Horned Watcher form after she provoked him into showing the true extents of his willpower, and rage, as well as his willingness to fight without fear against an opponent far beyond his means to overcome i.e. herself.
Vasc is the inheritor of the particularly controversial exaltation of the relatively recently deceased Beast Hidden Within a Vicious Smile, a Lunar who succumbed to hatred and madness in the First Age and eventual went on to become a chimera of horrible might before finally being destroyed by a hunt of skilled warriors and elders.