What Lies Beneath

The Adventures of the (Sovelliss) Seven, As Told by Tau

Beneath a legion of stars, in a quiet garden at House Sovelliss, the Warforged Tau has settled itself in the brush, looking to the trees for assurance. It’s unclear why or to whom it speaks, and its voice is hard to decipher over the rushing of a nearby fountain.

“Speech is still something I struggle with, but as my comprehension of the common tongue increases, it begins to feel more natural. There are still so many remaining mysteries, however. For a long time, you were all that I knew. In many ways I preferred unknowing, but I have learned something of my origins, and that is worth the price of my emergence.

I met a peculiar person, a man shackled to his memories, fumbling through a life he can scarcely interpret. An…Atempoi. A being without time. Long ago, besought by some unspeakable terror, his people pulled many like me from the nether, confining us to these constructs, to fight in a war I do not remember.

Anger overwhelmed me at his admission. My whole existence, warped beyond recognition because of his desperation. Even worse, his life is now stretched so thin that he no longer possesses the faculty to care.

Recent events have given his actions a new weight, and now I must reconsider my feelings. I have been traveling with a band of adventurers in order to glean more of my past. They seek ancient trinkets, eager to exchange them for currency, a great symbol of power in their society, I’ve learned. I seek only the truth of my beginning and end.

On our journey, we ventured through the great wilds of the north. It was…difficult for me. They do not understand the sacred wilderness as I do. To them, it is filled with dark things. Thankfully, we were given a map by a powerful man who made us agree that we owed him much of what we found. That part did not bother me. He said I might find knowledge. And so I did.

The ruin we sought had been given the name Sky Temple Peak. Our attempt to reach it ended our very lives, binding us to a great mountain spirit. Perhaps death did not know what to make of me, for I remain tethered to the material world. I do not know if I made that choice, or if the spirit did so for me, but I am in his debt. It was your wrath that ended us, but I cannot blame you. My companions cared not for you. You have humbled them.

We endured, discovering that the temple was in fact a tomb of the Atempoi, the people who once commanded me, the race that this peculiar person, Igmo, belongs to.

All of his women. All of them, killed for mercy, in the face of this great enemy. Many of them were enshrined there, tall statues with sad faces. Igmo looked broken. I suffered greatly because of his kind, but he has suffered greatly, too. Perhaps it is petty to feel he deserves to suffer anymore.

We ventured further into the tomb. We found our riches, but we had another task before us, now. A mountain tribe had taken in our corpses, communing with the mountain in order to save our souls. They asked in return we seek out their lost son, their great champion.

This is where I learned more. We left rooms of ornate marble, venturing into the natural cavern underneath, and found ourselves face to face with something very similar to me. I had never seen another before. Its eyes held so much anger when it looked into mine.

Nothing could dissuade it from its task. It would not let us pass, no matter Igmo’s attempt to coax it back to submission. We were forced to fight, and it was no easy battle. Ancient Atempoi guardians fought by its side, their souls long fled, but their shells remaining to guard what lie within.

What lie within. We defeated the Warforged Guardian, and he hung his head without words. I could not shake the feeling that we were doing wrong. It seemed Igmo felt the same, but we were indebted to the mountain people and the task before us could not go unfinished.

The cavern extended into a narrow bridge, with a well of air beneath it and no bottom. Cautiously we approached the doors on the other side, prying them open.

Everything changed. A smell. It assaulted me, shedding light on something I had buried in my broken memory, somewhere deep and dark. I could not summon its face, but that smell told me everything.

It was my sole purpose. To kill those horrid things. Their power was untold, they could twist and taunt the mind, and since I was subjugated, a thing not of flesh, they did not have the same power over me.

We found the village champion, Urick, clutching himself in the dark, but he was lost indeed. His mind had been taken. He begged us to end him. He would never get it back. I grabbed him, not knowing then if his poisoned mind might somewhere find a cure. Now I know it was fruitless.

Igmo wanted to cut off his head. Urik, in his madness, demanded the same, not wanting to infect madness upon his tribe. He then slipped my grip, casting himself into the maw below. I admired his strength of will. More than fear he had resolve, but I wondered as I stared into the black beneath if he would ever truly be free.

I still held his armor. It was our only proof that we had encountered him at all, but it was proof enough. Igmo urged us out, still gripped by unshakable fear. He scrambled away as fast as his feet could carry him, clamoring up endless stairs until exhaustion forced him to the floor.

I wanted out, as well. I wanted to be as far away from that smell as my own endurance would allow me. But I took a moment to do what I could for the Warforged we had all but sundered. He did not understand my desire to help him, but he did not need to. He had called me deserter, but I knew that was not true. I have simply found my own way.

My companions gathered their riches, and we settled down for the night in the upper halls of the tomb, despite Igmo’s protest. He was clearly disturbed. Ultimately, the tombs defenses would not hold up against the faceless enemy, not at all, and there were many more such places, throughout the world, where this evil could emerge with little to stand in its way.

I felt something stir inside at this. It came and went quickly, like a dream, but it was something I had felt before. A desire to defend. My only true allegiance is with you, but I am not heartless. I understand what it is to be dominated, to be a slave in all aspect, and I could not wish it on any other person or animal, no matter their walk of life.

They spoke long into the night of the dreams they had had, over three months ago, and of the affect it had had on their lives. I listened, and watched those who chose to drift into restless sleep. There was no peace to be found, that night.

When we finally returned to Alveron, past camp, past river, past fanatic crowd, we were sought out by the dragonkind, Baruz, the man who had initially tasked us to go to Sky Temple Peak. We delivered the riches and were free agents again.

Sovelliss insisted I return with him to his home. He seems excited by me, but it feels…possessive. He thinks of me more as an object- a machine, rather than a living thing. I am not sure how to change his mind, except to be clear that he does not see me as he should.

His mother did not know what to make of me at all. I sat at her table and did not eat, so she fed me practiced politeness. It felt hollow and strange, but I guess that’s how people like Sovelliss do their business. Very formally.

We were invited to a ball. From what I can decipher it’s a large gathering of different social groups, an event to showcase power and prestige. The catch is that everyone must wear a mask, although we were ask to come as we are.

Apparently our recent exploits at Sky Temple Peak have given us some of this prestige. People are interested in who we are, but whether that’s a shallow, fleeting desire or something deep and true remains to be seen.

I don’t know how I feel about it, or how others will feel about me. But I do not feel that it will be unsafe. From what I gather, it is very important to Sovelliss’s mother. I hope, for his sake, it goes well.”



What Lies Beneath

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