Ten of Swords -- Sarek Malfas

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DeepWebAssassin
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Ten of Swords -- Sarek Malfas

Post by DeepWebAssassin » Sun Jan 24, 2021 5:32 pm

Why he'd come to this place was unclear, but one thing was utterly certain to him. He wasn't free to leave. Between himself and the unlocked door were a thousand layers of doubt, uncertainty, and desperation. All were poisons that crept further through his veins with each step he'd taken along the path -- and now he faced judgement.

A wicked, wolfish grin spread across the face of the old woman across the table from him. He surrendered the offering of gold that had been asked of him and she turned over the first card that had been set out. His past was shown before him.


Image

She spoke a cryptic revelation of where he'd been, explaining to him the meaning of the image upon the card. As she wove her twisted words, he could not help but feel exposed, unmasked, and vulnerable. This seer was right, after all. And the tale of who he had been in days past seemed almost like a condemnation to him. Unknown, unbloodied, and unremarkable in every way. Sarek Malfas had been born upon a very easy road indeed, and it had left him weak to the world around him. Perhaps that is why what happened now was inevitable.

The woman turned over another card, speaking words of his present.


Image

Again she spoke, and again he felt the weight of her words. It was as if she was standing over him, his back upon the cold stone floor. Her words were an icy and damning torrent that kept him from rising. She spoke of how he'd found himself at his lowest. That in his moment of greatest defeat, betrayal, and pain, he'd ended up before her. The present. Where the emotion and feeling of it all was still so very crisp and raw. But what would come of it all? Perhaps a new beginning. It all depended on how tightly he clung to the rotting carcass of his old life. The last card was revealed and the woman seemed only more excited. A shrill cackle escaping her as his eyes met the grim artwork on the face.

Image

Fate. This was what the future held -- a complicated path that led to a sudden end. Would this end be final, or simply a transformation into something new? That much could not be revealed. At least, not then. But in that moment, something shifted within him. Something deep within his very core. It was unknown to him at the time, but the image upon that macabre card would never fully leave his mind. An omen upon the horizon, ever looming. A reminder of something unyielding and inevitable that awaited all. And it was that omen that finally shook him from his stupor and set his feet to the path he'd longed for all his life.

Mere hours later he stood before the portal that led to elsewhere. But more importantly than the destination, it led away from his home in Suzail. He felt a hand upon his shoulder and looked back to meet his brother's eyes. He sensed something there that he hadn't before. Regret? Hesitation? Fear? Perhaps that was just a reflection of what he felt himself. He didn't rightly know. The man spoke to him, his voice low and unsteady. He asked him if he was certain that this is what he wanted to do. He wasn't, of course. But the time for doubt was long past. They embraced, bid each other farewell, and then Sarek stepped into the portal and shed the last vestiges of his old life.

If he had known what hardship awaited him on the other side, perhaps he wouldn't have. But at the time he felt no fear, for he believed his hour was already set.
Last edited by DeepWebAssassin on Thu Dec 02, 2021 5:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Ten of Swords - Sarek Malfas

Post by DeepWebAssassin » Wed Mar 24, 2021 6:59 am

"You hunger for war, Long Death. You crave it, like the hound gnaws bones for the memory of a meal."

The words thrust out at him like a poisoned blade -- a test against his guard. Was he losing his mind like the rest of them? Would he be able to tell, if he was? There was no longer a master to offer guidance. The choices he made would be his weight to bear alone. He felt as if he was honoring his code. But one must know, not feel.

"You say you fight for freedom. For survival. But I say that perhaps you do not yet know why you fight. Only that you must."

And so he spoke the truth. For these two poets had seen him for what he was.

"If there is only one thing that I know, honorable Sikora -- it is indeed that I must."

That was his fate, wasn't it? Fate, duty, and choice. How rare a thing for all of these to align. He'd tread the path until the end. He'd face every challenge upon it with all the strength he could bring to bear. He'd weave just a single thread into a tapestry that was so vast it may not be completed for a thousand years to come.

Then he would die. In a life dedicated to that cause, he'd find the smallest measure of perfection. And that would be enough.

He'd asked the mercenary what she found beautiful and he'd found wisdom in her answer. But in listening to her words, he'd realized that he too had found an answer. His search had ended at last.




Beauty is a hungry blade
Carried by a servant

Beauty is a drop of blood
A killer that's observant

Beauty is a starving wolf
Its teeth are sharp and seeking

Beauty is a song of death
The cry of widows weeping

Beauty is a broken sword
Its master long forgotten

Beauty is a spreading blight
That makes the forest rotten

For these are things that move men's souls
And drive them to objection

So that they bring their might to bear
In this we find perfection
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Re: The Ten of Swords - Sarek Malfas

Post by DeepWebAssassin » Thu Dec 02, 2021 5:27 am

Frantic footfalls paced back and forth in the trashed room, bloodstained fingers running through his hair. Rapid breaths and a quickly beating heart fought against any attempt to find balance. He brushed harshly past a man wearing a brown trench coat, hearing a smug tone call out to him as he passed.

"We both know you didn't have to do it like this. But you didn't want this to go smoothly, did you?"

He wheeled around quickly, shouting at the man. His fists clenched and his posture aggressive. He was fast on the draw, almost as if he'd been hoping he would say something. His heart was calling out for another fight.

"What do you know about art, Sikora?! I don't need this from YOU."

But the man wasn't there to catch the venom spewed forth, he'd already faded away without a trace. Back into the shadows -- if he was ever really there at all. The monk gritted his teeth, continuing to stalk about the room in an attempt to find some semblance of inner peace. When did this become so difficult? How long had this poison been slinking through his veins? This room was a bottomless ocean and with every step he took in his spiraled path, the surface got further and further away. A sudden weight settled upon him and the weight of the day was nearly unbearable upon his shoulders. With what energy he still had, he seated himself across the room from the slain man, resting his head against the dilapidated ruin's wall. His eyes half-open, he stared at the dead man through the haze that settled over them both.

How curious. The man had a lot of wounds. Far more than it would have needed to take him down. As the monk's vision blurred and he began to fade away, a single question persisted in his thoughts amidst an insidious feeling that something was twisted and wrong.

Who had ruined his perfect artwork with all these stray brushstrokes?
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Re: Ten of Swords -- Sarek Malfas

Post by DeepWebAssassin » Mon Dec 06, 2021 2:40 pm

Image

The second greatest warrior
With legendary might
Wades bold into the fray
Under a moonlit night

For who could stand against him?
Save a single soul
And all the rest were nothing
He'd come to take his toll

He beat the drum of battle
And all his brothers cheered
For at the warrior's back
They had nothing to fear

Then risen from the shadow
A silent, nameless wraith
A seeking spirit hunting
A challenge to their faith

A hand as pale as death
Caressed the warrior's cheek
And like a flower wilting
He crumpled in defeat

And so the warrior died
Among his cheering host
And their beloved champion
Reduced to but a ghost

For he was but the second best
And so he wasn't free
And this he failed to see
And so he ceased to be


Sitting in the tree that overlooked the moonlit road, he gazed upon the old, worn card. The edges frayed with wear and tear, it was hardly anything of value any more. That is, if it was ever worth anything at all to begin with. Yet, he'd kept it all this time. Why? Perhaps holding onto it provided a sense of comfort.
As if resigning himself to it would free him of the burden of his failure when his time came.

Upon the card's face, an image of a skeletal rider bearing a macabre standard. Above it -- a simple inscription reading "XIII"

It was the end.

And yet holding onto this vestige of his past had become the very thing stopping the end from coming. For he had begun to understand the end not as a conclusion, but a slate upon which a new beginning would be built. It was true -- he was dying. But this death was not a physical one. It was a shedding of the skin so that something new may be born. A shifting of the spirit. An awakening of purpose.

And so it was the beginning.

He'd worried that too much of his anchor was set in that which was not real. That what was seen, said, and felt could not be trusted. But worrying over what cannot be controlled was unfitting for one who'd decided to take fate into his own hands. Her words had again found him when he was lost -- guiding him to shore like a battered ship rowing desperately toward the lighthouse beacon.

He let the weathered card slip from his grasp and watched it drift lazily down toward the dirt, landing in front of the traveling warrior who'd been passing under him. The warrior he'd been waiting for all night long. And just as the steel-clad champion looked to see where it had come from, the specter that had fallen from the sky not far behind the worthless fortune-teller's card collided with him.

And the two of them learned a great deal from one another in those following moments.

One growing as the other diminished.
And it all felt so peaceful.
For the first time in a long time,
There was a sense of balance to the world.

And when he left that place, hardly a ripple in his wake.
All that remined was a worthless, bloodied card.
That he, and time, would soon forget.
For it was just a card.
And nothing more.
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Re: Ten of Swords -- Sarek Malfas

Post by DeepWebAssassin » Thu Dec 16, 2021 9:24 am

For all the drugs that people lust
The most dangerous one is trust

For in our minds
We are safe
And in our hearts
Unafraid

It does not steal from us
The ability to think
Nor hurt
Nor fear

But we will risk ourselves
Willingly
And we will endure what comes
Endlessly

And even as the knife is thrust at us
We will think
There is another reason
Where only one exists

That we were betrayed
And yet we hope
That we are wrong
That we are mistaken

Until we close our eyes, a lifeless husk
Our cause of death -- a vial of trust.



Sometimes I sit and wonder how you must think of me.

I know you can see it in me. This unspoken uncertainty that has festered and grown. There was a time in which my path was clear. I had no need for questions and took another step with each day. Life was simple, and that simplicity led to great understanding. But in my search to understand life -- in my reach toward things that I knew too little of, I became lost.

Lost, and weak. For when your hand reached out to pull me up, I took it. And then I told you everything. I sometimes wonder if what you told me in turn was the truth. It was for me, because I wanted it to be. And I was willing to delude myself into thinking that I could trust you. I still do.

And if you don't despise me for this weakness, let me ask of you.
Why? Surely you cannot trust me too.

We can't all be idealistic fools.
I'm sure you'd just find that funny.
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Re: Ten of Swords -- Sarek Malfas

Post by DeepWebAssassin » Sun Dec 19, 2021 5:27 am

Purpose is a zealous soul
Pure in its belief

Purpose is a tireless mind
That needs no relief

Purpose is a sturdy heart
Unyielding in defeat

Purpose is a silver tongue
Supreme in its deceit

Purpose is a fluid strike
That always finds its mark

Purpose is a patient hunter
Waiting in the dark

Purpose is a charging ship
With every sail unfurled

Purpose is a loving spirit
Wading through the world


On nights such as this, it is easy to feel inspired. To bask in a moment of bliss as the path before me appears to be so clear. To take step after step until my methodical crawl has become a frenzied sprint. The temptation is there, always, to lose myself in the pursuit of the next prize. But then what would be said of me if I drowned in the very stream that I so eagerly dove into? How then would any of my brothers or sisters speak my name as anything but a warning?

Wisdom is knowing when to run and when to rest among the foliage. Let us never fully banish doubt, for the man who cannot perceive his own failure is a man who has already failed. Safety is the great illusion that the well-traveled pilgrim knows not to trust. Even our weakest foes bear weapons that can cut us the same as our greatest. And this is why we must meet every challenge will all the strength, cunning, and flexibility that we can manage. Because should one fail in this charge, the consequences are too often final.

And to waste a life is a trespass that cannot be forgiven. Doubly so, should that life be our own.
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Re: Ten of Swords -- Sarek Malfas

Post by DeepWebAssassin » Tue Dec 28, 2021 11:36 am

When a creature is ambushed in the wild, it will fight or try to escape. No matter how desperate or hopeless the situation may appear -- a struggle still ensues. Life is something not easily surrendered in its natural state, and it is why those who have mastered the art of taking it are so rightly feared.

And it was exactly that struggle that he noticed was taking place, far too late.

As the magic-shrouded figures rushed across the docks to encircle them, he could not help but feel responsible. Did he not call himself a hunter, just like them? Had he truly allowed himself to become this soft? He had lowered his guard, and now they would all pay for it. He should have seen this coming.

But he didn't see it coming. Not until the sudden, violent attack was launched and it was too late to do anything but struggle against the inevitable. And in that struggle he spent what he was sure were his last few moments thinking of how imperfect it all felt. About the destinations that would never be reached. Regret was the weight that drove him downward as the world went dark.

"So where are we going after this?"

"Hm! How about wherever you choose."



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Their defeat was unquestionable. Their humiliation, absolute. But despite the grim outcome of that ill-fated ambush, they had managed to shuffle off with their lives. Indeed, their captors had sought not to extinguish their lives there upon the weather-worn wood of the Nest. Rather, a more symbolic slaying was achieved. A slaying of the spirit.

For the crew had been high in spirit. Cheers, jests, and joyous exclamations were the songs that accompanied their time on the sea. And just like that -- it had all been stolen from them. Their lifted spirits replaced with a sickly black smog not so different from the one that lingered over the dreaded Butcher itself. It was if their very souls had been stolen and replaced with something wounded, tired, and worn.

As he made his report, a quiet, distant ringing filled his ears. At first it was nothing but an itch in the back of his mind, but by the end of the exchange it had grown into a near deafening tone that fought for control of every scrap of focus he had to give. He was losing control, bit by bit. A slow slide into oblivion. It was only a question of when he would finally lose his footing in the midst of the howling wind he faced.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


There was no meditation that night. For when he lit the burners and positioned himself in front of the altar, there was no peace to find within his spirit. The image of his cell filled his mind -- as if he had never left. Because in truth, a part of him hadn't. And wouldn't, until things were made right. For hours he sat there, muscles tensed and mind confused. The frenzy upon the docks. The helplessness within the cells. The shame of reporting their own defeat. It all played out in an endless loop, like a theatre of his failures -- and he was the audience.

And it was only then that it finally became too much.

It wasn't quite a purposeful choice to topple the altar -- he'd risen in a hurry and needed something to lash out at. But once the ornate stone monument crashed to the ground, something within him changed. Prowling the room like a frenzied beast, he destroyed all that he came across. Baubles, trophies, and mementos alike were all taken from their place and hurled across the room. The creed of his Order, torn down from its lofty perch. The collective wisdom of the books he'd so often enjoyed, scattered about like worthless parchment. Some destroyed beyond repair.

And only when he'd had his fill -- drunk on bitter rage and a childish need for destruction, did he finally find rest. Exhausted beyond the waking world, he'd collapsed into the splintered wood and torn fabrics of his once-fine bed. There, in the chaos he'd created for himself, he would sleep.

In a bed that so artistically represented the world he now found himself in.
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Re: Ten of Swords -- Sarek Malfas

Post by DeepWebAssassin » Sun Jan 02, 2022 1:18 pm

Balance is a vengeful chill
To cool the fires of hate

Balance is a giving hand
Forgetting not to take

Balance is a shining truth
With lies within the umbra

Balance is a burning soul
Defying death's cold tundra

Balance is a shattered blade
Its wielder fights unbroken

Balance is the path that's closed
So that our eyes are opened


For the third time that day, he listened to the wisdom of someone who'd seen the wounds upon his soul and sought to heal them.

The hate that had become so terribly familiar rising up in him like a billowing cloud of ember-filled smoke. It consumed all it touched, and he felt himself sinking into the gloomy muck of uncertainty once again. That is, until he was dragged back into the waking world at the sound of a softly-spoken rallying cry. Despite them having been spoken no louder than his own, the words struck him like a trumpet blast, shaking him from his stupor.

"They're the last thing you think about when you sleep. The first thing you think about when you wake up. ...And that's assuming your dreams were a reprieve from those thoughts at all."

How it felt to finally have someone who understood. The true humiliation of defeat. The sense of utter worthlessness that questioned everything that he was. The hesitation that wrapped around him like a great constrictor, for fear of what another loss would bring. They were right, of course. Hatred was a great usurper. And it had sent him toppling surer than a weak king's head.

"So I'm supposed to just -- to what? Forget what it felt like to have them take my freedom from me?"

Freedom had been such an intoxicating thing for him, when he finally embraced it. And in that freedom, he'd found his own destruction. Just like he'd warned so many others not to do in the past. He was being killed by a poison that he once gave the cure for. Hate was every bit as intoxicating as the vices he'd sought escape in -- and he'd indulged far too deeply in it. Only now, as the last of his companions made their attempt to purge the sickness from him, was he fully ready to face what he'd become.

Because in truth, what he'd become was not so different from those he hated. And everyone had seen it but him.

Like the impossibly well-ordered room that he found himself in, the mercenary's words were so carefully crafted to be exactly what he needed to hear. He could feel the weight slipping from his shoulders, even as a part of him fought to retain it. It was strange, how viciously he'd been willing to cling to that terrible weighted mantle. As if it had ever done anything but harm him.

In his deepest insecurities, he pondered an old question that he'd asked them before. Is any of who they are actually real? Or is it all crafted for a purpose? Just like the well-ordered room, too perfect to be anything but illusory. Too curated, too measured. Too designed to be exactly the kind of thing to inspire balance in an ailing spirit. They'd once told him that they weren't sure. It's what he'd have said if he didn't want to answer. Maybe it was all just about control, and like a wise hunter, they'd found weakness to exploit in their prey.

But such insecurities were the fears of weak men. A warrior fights to earn his place, and that's exactly what he was finally prepared to do. Because despite the fact that the hate had subsided, the greatest battles still loomed on the horizon.

And even if it was all an illusion it was one he'd come to enjoy. A small indulgence, to distract from the burdens of a chaotic and war-ravaged path. So to him, it would be real. And if others wanted to join him in that foolish delusion, they were free.

They were, all of them, free. And for the first time in a long time, he found a restful sleep. The words that forged his newfound resolve still lingering in his mind like a vengeful lullaby.

"Don't forget. Don't forgive."

He'd find his peace again. Of that, he was sure.
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