This is a card I've been wanting to turn into a story for quite some time now, but I simply didn't have the inspiration until last night. I hope you enjoy yet another dark and grim tale of mine.
It's a question I've been asking myself longer than I can remember. A question endlessly repeating itself in my head, over and over again. A question driving me insane, and keeping me sane. And most of all, a question I don't know the answer to.
Why not someone else? In the early days, this thought filled me with shame. The longing for someone else to go through this curse instead of me was a thought I didn't want to have. But now, after all these years of everlasting suffering, that shame is long gone. The question turned into a desire, a wish.
Why was it me? Why wasn't it one of the other children? I can still remember that faithful day when I was still a happy, innocent girl as if it were yesterday. It's one of my few happy memories and I cling to it more tightly than life itself.
I was playing with a lot of children that day. Their names and faces have faded over the years, but I can remember there were a lot of them. So many, and yet I was chosen.
Why me? Why did you pick me?
I look at the faery fluttering around me, it's childish features contorted into a gleeful smile as it looks my way. I stopped wondering how such an innocent looking creature can be so vile, and why there are these few of the benevolent race who got corrupted into such evil beings. When I look at it now, I just wonder why it picked me. Why it embedded this dreadful, terrifying presence within my lungs.
I hear a tree branch snapping under someone's foot, and for a moment the 'innocent' features of the forest dryad turn into a hateful glare. It doesn't like it when people walk around it's woods, not even the nature-loving elves. If this were back in the days when I was just taken, he would have forced me to scare her away hours before. But now, now it has to allow her to draw closer.
He has to allow her, or allow a much greater threat to corrupt his forest. The elves lurking around, the giants lumbering through, even the orcs who chop and burn their way through ancient woods on their way to the battlefield, he has to let them. He has to allow them, so that the blight won't take his forests. And the frustration he feels when he hears his woods whimper and cry under this abuse, he takes out on me.
I look at the faery again. You wouldn't believe me if I told you how vicious it can get. Sure, they can't physically assault me a great deal with their small frame, but they likes to grab my hair and pull it with all their might until it comes of with pieces of my scalp still attached. And I can't stop it when they do, because when I do...
They know ways to hurt me that are much, much more painful.
And lately, with the mortal armies marching through their territory and with the immortals invading the outskirts of their forest, they have gotten all the more agitated. They're so angry with the armies they allowed through, who failed to stop the immortals after all, that they've been pulling at my hair faster than it can grow back.
Another branch snaps when the elven woman walks into the small clearing and looks at me. She nears me and takes out a small green bottle. The slightly luminescent water sloshes around as she extends it to me, while trying to keep her distance as much as possible.
I don't move.
Take the bottle.
I look at the woman with a hateful glare. Both she and the faery are waiting for me to make my move, but I have no intention to comply. Why should I? They're the ones fighting against the immortals, not me. In fact, the curse of the undead might be a relief from what I have to go through every day. Having to feel that dreadful presence within me every day.
Take the bottle!
The faery's voice grows more angry in my head, but I don't move. The woman's expression changes as well, the almost instinctive fear she had while approaching turns into an annoyed sneer and she nudges the bottle at me while bringing it even closer to my face.
I don't accept it, and merely continue staring at her. As far as I'm concerned, she and the rest of the elves have forsaken me and the other sacrifices. They left us to our miserable faith, and for what? So that the forest dryads won't take another girl from their villages? So that their precious balance remains intact?
They can all die as far as I'm concerned. And this forest can get blighted all it wants. I'll laugh at the faery's misery and cherish the thought that they, just like everyone else, will eventually be killed by the unbiased dead who'll slaughter us all indiscriminately.
TAKE THE DAMNED BOTTLE, WENCH!
The faery screams into my mind, their voice accompanied by a mental attack that feels like they stabbed a hundred needles into my ears. I winch and lose eye-contact with the woman, but I don't give in. I won't.
YOU SPOILED BITCH, DO AS I SAY!
I can barely keep myself from soiling myself as the faery amps up its mental torture to punish me all over. The painful sensation of needles turns into the feeling of flames burning my skin all over and I curl up into a fetus position. But I don't give in. I won't give in. If they keeps this up, eventually I'll break. My mind will snap and my thoughts will seize to be. My heart will stop beating and the pain will subside.
I'll break and the never ending nightmare will be...
The pain suddenly stops when something cold touches my arm. The elven woman quickly stands up and bolts away, not trying to hide her presence any more as she runs as fast as her legs can carry her.
No no no no no no!
I was so close! They were so angry they almost killed me, their wrath almost put me out of my misery! And then that wench ruined everything by forcing the bottle on me!
I sit up straight again and look at the mana water. I know what they want me to do with it. I know what will happen when I give in to their demands. But the water looks so tempting. They haven't allowed me to drink anything for two days now, and I'm so thirsty. And the water has the most rejuvenating taste, just before...
I won't drink it! I won't go through that nightmare again! I won't!
I raise the bottle above my head and scream as I bring it down. I'll smash it on the ground and let its contents seep into the humus. I might even get the chance to grab one of the glass shards and slit my wrist! I'll deny the faery this gift and doom their forest once and...
I freeze up as the faery speaks the unearthly command and look helplessly as the bottle in my hand remains intact. So close, just a split second later and they would've been too late to stop it. Just a little later and I would have prevented...
Drink the water, you shit stain!
The faery flutters in front of me, only allowing a few of my muscles to untense. They're not going to give me another chance, they'll only let me do what they want me to do. And what they want me to do, is the worst punishment of all. Worse than the hair pulling, worse than the mental attacks, even worse than the hunger and thirst. They wants me to scream, to unleash the dreadful presence within me.
But the water. It looks so tempting. So cold. And I'm so thirsty...
Slowly I open the cap and bring the bottle to my mouth.
Yes, that's a good girl.
I put the bottle on my lips and heave it up. Tears well up from my eyes as the most pure of pleasures engulfs my parched tongue and runs down my throat. I don't swallow, the faery wouldn't even allow me to, I just let the water flow through my throat into my lungs. Let it flow to the dreadful presence which seems to stir to life when it tastes the magical liquid. And in that one moment before the worst, I enjoy this little luxury.
All too soon, the bottle is empty and I lick the last few drops before dropping the bottle to the floor. Then, my tears start flowing again, knowing what will happen next.
The beast within, the stuff of a thousand nightmares, comes to life and starts to rumble to be released. It's presence, which fills me with and instinctive fear every moment of every day, grows a thousand times more powerful as it creeps up my throat to freedom. And I open my mouth.
With the force of a thousand voices, I scream to release the terror and hear it resounding throughout the forest, every tree and every bush absorbing the screams and sending them out again twice as strong.
An unearthly scream so terrifying, so powerful, none remain unaffected. Elusive elves, skeptical goblins, brave orcs, even calm ents and mighty dragons fear this scream. An intense kind of instinctive fear so powerful that even the immortals, deemed to be fearless and without emotion, flee in unbridled panick when they hear it.
But the one most affected by it, the one who suffers from this mind-breaking terror more than any other, is me. Where others can hide in their mindless fear and run away from the unknown, I cannot. The hatred of the forest is all around me, it's within me. I can't run away. I can't even try. No matter where I run, it will follow. No matter where I hide, it will find me. Because it is within me, at every hour of every day.
And once I stop screaming and the forest calms down again, it won't be over. Not for me. That dreadful presence which scares all with mortal fear will still be within me. It will never be over for me, not until the moment I die.
And I'm not allowed to die. I'm not allowed to run away. I'm not allowed to hide. All I'm allowed to do, is ask myself over and over again: