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Moss Purpleflame

A Tale of Moss

Character Race: "well traveled Flerian"
Character Profession: apprentice of fire and shadow
Character Religion Affiliation: follower of the consort of Set

    Lady Desertshadow was not one to be trifled with. She was ancient, predating the creation of the small, fortress town on the outskirts of the vast wastes of the continent of Aradath. Her midnight scales and vast wings blotted out the desert sun any time she chose to come forth from her cavernous lair. The dragoness was the entire reason any were able to live next to the rich mine and plentiful underground springs so close to Arachnian territories. 

    With the abundance of work and lack of skilled workers intrepid enough to journey to the far northern wastes, I guess it was only natural that a burrow of my folk would pop up in the desert town. The burrow had been there even before the fortress walls were built and, for the abundance of work and risk involved, will probably always be there.

    I grew up hearing the others of my burrow constantly wondering about the strange treasures that must abound in the vast lair of Lady Desertshadow. The tales of the mounds of gold and jewels were legendary amongst my people, the Flerians of the wasteland fortress. All of us wanted a small piece of that treasure for our own, but none dared bring the wrath of the ancient black dragon. The entire burrow was not worth the risk of what trinkets we would find. Therefore, it was not treasure alone that drew me to her lair that fateful night.

    In the side of the sheer mountain that served as the south wall of our fortress stood the entrance to Lady Desertshadow’s domain. The front was very unusual for a dragon, but then again, most consider the ancient black eccentric, the great Desertshadow more so than most. For you see, at the front of the caves was set a shop, well known and well used in the region. The shop belonged to one Shadsalidar De`tagaroth.

    She was the best weponsmith and armorer in our small city and, some would say, all of Aradath. Strangely enough, she also had the distinction of being one of the most renowned bardesses in the entire region, perhaps the entire continent. Many a bard, hearing of her strange talents braved the wastes to try and study with her. Those that made it, she tended to humor.

    Despite her prowess as a bard, most of her income was from magical weapons and armor. The displays of the De`tagaroth armory were another of the hotly debated topics amongst my people. Though her items, too, were off limits. It was widely known that Shadsalidar, because of some debt, or out of some sort of bond, worked directly for Lady Desertshadow. It was not the weapons or armor of the elf’s magical forge that drew me.
    Instead, I was drawn by a haunting melody that I heard coming from further up the mountains from the vast cavern entrance. I crept silently along a small ridge and found a small crack in the mountain. Luck was with me for the earth there was somewhat loose and it took me little effort to dig and squirm through the rest of the way. Flerians are not known for forethought, and I was no exception then. I found myself falling through empty space. Just when I thought I was lost, I hit something and started sliding with an accompanied tinkling sound that soon became a resounding thunder off of the natural, underground walls.

    I looked about me and noted that the tails of Lady Desertshadow’s horde were vastly underestimated. I had been sliding down a large pile of coins. Pile doesn’t do it justice, it was more like a mountain of coins. That was only the start of it. As my eyes slipped into my darkvision, I saw that this cave was but one of many and that this particular cave held only one type of coin. There were several caverns divided up by the type of treasures they held. It took all the willpower I could muster to not pocket any of the treasure, having to remind myself of the tales of dragons seeking revenge for a single silver piece, being able to smell its scent over thousands of miles.

    Despite the commotion I had caused, the singing had not stopped. Closer to the source of the music, I could tell that it was not one voice I was hearing, but two. The first voice had been a deep contralto that I felt as much as heard. The second I was now hearing was a light and airy soprano. When I was found out, it was to my surprise that the voices belonged to none other than the Desertshadow herself, and her servant, the forge mistress and bard, Shadsalidar.

    I was told to come out. I started to shake uncontrollably as Shadsalidar searched. Of course, they found no treasure on me. They asked why I had come, and dared answer nothing but the truth. Lady Desertshadow was so flattered that I liked her singing, that instead of destroying me, they decided to “test” me. They informed me that they would destroy my entire burrow if I did not retrieve a ring that had fallen into the forge fires.

    But this was no ordinary forge. With strange magic and a compelling voice, the bardess’s forge fires were drawn from the fiery hells of Taganoth, the demon realm that connects to all other realms.

    Protected by the dual magicks of Lady Desertshadow’s and the bardess, Shadsalidar, I grabbed the ring. While in the forge, I had the feeling that the fire was trying to destroy me, like it had a will of its own. It turned out that the ring belonged to Shadsalidar and they never had anyone small enough to grab it. They also decided that I might have my uses. They let me live, but I had to work at the forge and shop, as their servant.
    After that first trip, I began to change. My eyes changed from the deep black of my birth to a fiery red. My shadow did not seem to be cast from me, but instead from some sort of imp, complete with tail, horns, and wings. Yet, it moved how I did, and was the right size for myself. Then, I grew horns to match the shadow.

    The waters Shadsalidar cooled her workings in were also not of this world.

    The cooling pool was a well of shadows. And, though I was never allowed near the well of shadows, I eventually fell in instead.  

    On a usual business day, I had been left to tend the storefront while the dragon and elf were off doing whatever it was they did. A young Sanae brat of a noble came in, pestering about a set of armor her father had commissioned.

    It was obvious that I was alone and I don’t think that she could resist. My genuine smile of contentment I think drew the brat’s ire and drove her to action.

    I found myself flying through the air directly towards the shadow well, and then through.

    Color disappeared, didn’t exist. Shadowy things clawed and tore at my body. I felt myself ceasing to exist, becoming one with the colorless world.
    Stubbornness grew and the inner fires of my soul, all that was left of me, fought back. I don’t think that I would have been able to manage that much of a fight if I had not oft been heated by the flames of demons. My very being rebelled in a blaze of deep red flame. The shadows fought back, howling at the intrusion of light into their world of neither light nor dark.

    Long after my body ceased to matter, my stubborn, crazed soul fought on, driving me past the point of death and toward the realm of oblivion. Only a tiny spark of me remained when, suddenly, the shadows fled.

    I can only describe what I felt at that point. A deep mirth, and curiosity from something near.

    My fiery little soul immediately replied to some unseen music and I started to regain something of the very little girl I had once been.

    I, whole once more, began to dance across the dark expanse of the strange world. My people, never ones to sit still for any length, love to dance and I swirled to steps all my own, sometimes swaying, sometimes running in great leaps.

    There was no pattern to my dance but the sheer joy of the music that I could barely hear and the whole fact that I was somehow, alive. I felt more alive then I had since I left the burrow. I felt at home. I danced laughing, trying to catch up to the amusement that I felt just beyond my sight.

    Mirth appeared. To this day the I can not describe what I saw. She appeared as me, but not. Something so beautiful and terrifying and dark that I should have been frozen, should have been terrified.

    Instead, I found wonder, a deep sense of belonging and contentment. I remember a look of both hilarity and curiosity passing the other’s face, then a genuine smile.

    I had found her music and it swelled about me. I wish, oh how I wish, I could remember the tune. Then wonder of wonders, she danced with me, the greatest of shadows leading, and me following. Round and round we swirled in a dance that had me so close to her. I could feel her presence fill me, and it felt like something I knew all too well. A self accepting loneliness.

    All too soon, it was over.

    I will never forget the voice that spoke to me. The source of the music smiled sadly and simply said, “they come for you, it is time to go.”

    I didn’t want to hear as I was spun the into a laughing series of faster and faster spirals.

    A gigantic, clawed hand gently grasped me, dragging me back to the world of colors. As I neared the light, all of the colors I could see frightened me. I wanted to struggle, thought of jumping from the gentle grip into the darkness.

    Shadows that once tried to destroy me drew about, calling for me to join them, but the same musical voice caressed my ear, “Thank you for the dance.”

    I relaxed in the taloned grip, savoring the dance to the very end, lingering and swaying to the music.

    Back in the world of color, in a shop amidst a wasteland fortress, there I laid, a small, still figure. I was covered in dark, oily liquid. The same substance slowly dripped from gigantic, dragon claws. The strange waters pooled and coalesced around my very deathlike figure.

    In the corner, a Sanae grown pale, cowered, saying that it had been too long for “the slave” to come back.

    As if to put a lie to the voice, I gasped. I was later told by Lady De`tagaroth that suddenly the pool of viscous liquid seemingly disappeared into me. And that when it did, my colors became a negative of themselves. My hair, which had been a bright orange, turned to a dark purple.

    My eyes, a blazing red since my forays into the forge, had changed to a crystal blue. No longer did I cast a strange shadow. I instead had no shadow at all. When I asked the Desertshadow about it, she simply said of course, and that I was a very silly little girl for asking.

    A young girl was back in the light, and small tears escaped the corner of her eyes. Whether from happiness, or sadness, I could not explain.

    The dance had come to its end.

    For many years I, who never seemed to age now, and who would always be to my burrow mates, “the strange little girl with the flaming purple hair”, was sent again and again into the fire to strike deals with what lay there for my two mistresses. Over the years, I changed quite a bit, both in appearance and attitude. Strangely, or not so strange if you understand we Flerians, I was still visiting the burrow. They took my appearance in stride, telling me it served me right for messing with dragons. 

    One time, I came in from being at the burrow and my hair was glowing purple. Shadsaildar thought that it was another change and that my hair was becoming a purple flame, so I had to explain to her about the moss that we grew in our caves. She plucked off some of the moss, which matched my hair nicely, and showed it to Desertshadow.

    Desertshadow loved it so much that she contracted out my burrow to make her cave glow. But first, she enacted the oath of the burrow permanently from the entire burrow where upon she was delighted to find out that she was the monster’s name that we invoked for it.  

    The whole burrow started to work for her, gathering information, acting as messengers, and starting up an add-on to her mercantile trade with our glowing moss. I had mutated quite a bit by then. Shadowfire danced in my eyes. I had an unnatural affinity with fire and became something of a pyro, burning myself and randomly lighting things aflame.

    My visits to the burrow became less and less as I grew a more and more fascination with fire and with shadows.

    I liked to set things on fire just to watch the shadows and the fire play together. I liked to creep around in the shadows just to be in the shadows. I had become something of a problem, but was also a good servant, running errands, having my curiosity sated every new trip by all the sights of the places I visited.

    Soon, however, I was kindly asked by our “Grand High Mucky-Muck Sultan the Third of the Fourth” to take a permanent position of residence with the “most terrible grandiose merchant bardess servitor” of the “most frightening gorgeous, she who blots out worlds, benevolent being”. In other words, I was kicked out of the burrow and permanently found a place with Shadsalidar.

    To top it off, small horns sprouted beneath my hairline that seemed to change form every once in a while. I found it scary, Shadsalidar found it amusing, and Lady Desertshadow found it cute.

    Clerics of different faiths soon started asking about the very little girl with no shadow and demonic horns. Problems had followed my change, and they soon compounded.

    To my discontent, I found that those who are powerful in faith could affect me much in the same way as shadows and minor demons. More or less, they could tell me what to do and I felt this strange compulsion to do it, especially when the commands came from Settites and Taathians.

    There was one cleric in particular… but I don’t want to remember that.

    Also, prayers and magic occasionally seemed to go haywire around me, and even though healing prayers did heal me, they hurt like, well, they hurt and I’ll leave it at that.  

    Desertshadow shipped me off on an important trade mission to Saldea, partly because she didn’t trust anyone else with the shipment, partly because she wanted to get me away from the crazy clerics, and partly because I had begun to set things randomly on fire just by gesturing.

    I made the shipment, heavily cloaked, and sent the payment goods back on one of our other ships ran by my great, great grand nephew who had given me a missive that I was to stay on Saldea for a week or two as vacation.  I went out on a pleasure cruise and was frightened by a Taathian who somehow knew all about me. He claimed to be someone that I had had runs ins before with, whom I also thought dead, though he looked nothing like I remembered him to. I wanted nothing to do with him ever again, so I jumped, hearing maniacal laughter echoing in my ears.

    I washed up on an island not to far from main Saldea and so I started a signal fire. Being the pyro that I am, I was mesmerized by the flame and the way the shadows played with it. Well, I ended up burning the entire island down while I jumped into the water and stared at the flames. I was brought to shore by some trade partners that had to tear me kicking and screaming from the island.  I was sent back home on the next ship.

    I spent a lot of time apologizing to my two mistresses. To my shock, both Desertshadow and Shadsalidar dismissed me as being silly.

    It was soon after that disaster struck. My lady had received word. The dragon council was called, the war was on. Quick measures were taken and large caravans under heavy guard quickly and quietly emptied the town and businesses. My burrow disappeared before even the first caravan arrived, but I was with the dragon and the bard now and did not want to leave them.

    The forge and the well were the last to be closed, seeming to cause both my mistresses great effort to seal off and destroy. What notes were left on their techniques were blasted away in a rush of dragonfire. Desertshadow’s hoard had already secretly been transported.

    They both kept repeating that they knew this day would come and heard them have long arguments into the night.

    It was when I saw them both resplendent in battle gear I had never seen before that I knew this was the last I would see of them. What they were planning to do, left me shaken and awestruck. I had never seen such fire or commitment in their eyes. I only asked them why once and Shadsalidar replied, “why, to save you and all of your kind, silly little girl.”

    We were the last three left in the now deserted fortress that, no doubt, was soon to become a new webhold.

    They were ready. It was time for me to leave. As a magical portal opened before me, I witnessed something I never thought I’d ever see. A single tear fell from Desertshadow’s eye. The very strange dragon was as sad as only a very strange dragon can be about loosing a very strange and troublesome treasure, “a very silly little girl”.

    For years, I waited for a word from them, wandering from place to place, hiding what was underneath my hood and cloak. Every night, I had terrible dreams that I could scarcely remember filled with twisted forms and madness. Demons, unleashed by some strange power, laughed in my mind.

    I borrowed what I needed along the way, never staying in one place very long. Spur was in the back of my mind as a place to go, but I was too lost to care, neither Flerian, nor shadow, nor demon.

    As I searched for my way, I heard bits and pieces about the war, and then one day, how it was finally won.

    So it was that I traveled to the blasted wastes. Seeing the carnage, I somehow knew that it was their graveyard, had know for some time that they, along with so many dragons and too little allies, had died, saving us all.

    I had never felt so sad, so powerless, and so alone. I picked myself up and wandered, time and time again thinking about Spur, the city of orphans. So it was that I finally made the journey.

    Never again, would those two voices be heard.

~Moss Purpleflame

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