Crown the Unblessed
There are soldiers born in hexes icy,
Lightning in their eyes, and feisty,
Skybound are their cries, they're fighting,
But in their hearts still fearful lies,
The hidden taste of UNG of XON.
There are ferals in the seas a'rising,
Swords will snap on skin, they're biting,
Their tentacles will smash your triremes,
They're bound all still to UNG of XON.
The darker magics will ease tyrants,
And secretive some casters try them,
But none know those of UNG of XON.
If you read this, your breath's lying,
For now you know of UNG of XON.
YOU WILL BOW NOW, YOU ARE NOT FIGHTING. YOU ARE RULED BY UNG OF XON.
Vance the Gelded, Rhyme-a-Mancer and in service to XON
TREX was popped unfinished - some part of Erf rules never applied.
TREX was bound, in time, to the side of Espara.
Lena of Espara CROAKED in his first TREX interaction. The turn he lost his keeper he came to them, a wizened flesh blob on the forest floor, wailing loudly. As he squalled in a viridian forest hex in Espara, the first instance of TREX - misfortune rebounded upon a Shockamancer: Lena, a Shockamancer with a violent streak, rounding wild units up to enhance to whichever form or move speed wanted, in his amoral feral-recruitment mission.
Lena's lightnings reflected, directed at TREX and the unknown in his stack to 'incapacitate' them, without Loyalty to their caster. TREX was struck, taking a single Hit from him - and his keeper, also. A mere shadow, its stats unknown, TREX' seeming keeper - it vanished. Lena watched in horror, vanished as well, as the lightnings distorted. Arcing through trees were his bolts, feeding off his shock resistance - leaving him incinerated.
Espara where his peculiar, rule-breaker malady applied - blessings and curses upon him reversed. A side filled with natural and caster Weirdomancers, strange enchantments enhancing archers and casters to fey ascendancy, it was the worst possible place to be Loyal to; saved from disbandment only by lack of upkeep.
As time passed, TREX's form changed: from stat-less, wrinkled, chubby homunculus, he transformed to inquisitive, small and bright-eyed non-combat unit, to fast-moving, lanky and agile courier, to a fully-fledged mercenary, a separate yet paid for part of Espara's reserve infantry, keeping an ever-present awareness of the hostile nature of his surroundings, throughout.
Everything else untouched, Lena's escort dismayed, they scattered: scooping TREX up, stacking with him before fleeing, it seemed as though an act of Titanic intervention. Lena's own ruthless extermination of the unknown second party in the hex with TREX was the key.
This old loneliness, and a lost love, brought TREX to XON.
UNG, chained in XON - the one to whom TREX supplicated on his knees, in the cavern at its heart, bound him to garrison within XON forever with a surge of the shadows around her.
A price executed by XON the moment her great bargain with a unit is completed - that they must guard its fatal fastness forever, settled into place on his skin, tightening it.
UNG of stolen souls. UNG, unaware like a star is unaware of the firmament, was pushing him away from the fabricated 'city' of Bel, made by Dirtamancers, Dollamancers and hapless ferals of a thousand tribes - the elation that she gave her slaves inverting slowly, filling him with terror.
Bel, the false city which surrounds it and camouflages XON - a place of distorted geometry and shadows - was the backdrop of his loathing; his antimagic turned the joy of service into crippling fear and despair, a false-Loyalty summoned by the instant fulfilment of his quest, and negated.
He was moving as fast as the crushing despair paradoxically moved him, his reward slung over his shoulder ("A vessel for a disembodied lover." he had whispered). The first way out was the breathtaking arbalest shots of some hapless high-level Dollamancer's armory - one of the many slaves to her sideless realm - that were pursuing him as reactive defenses on Espara's turn automatically: traitor to the unside.
TREX reflected bleakly on how he came to this position.
TREX and his Weirdomantic boyfriend escaped Espara, a hundred-turn after his capture.
Long ago, Zim and he began to share a room together in the caster quarters, clandestine, as the much loathed TREX increasingly began to abandon his tower, his ancient Ruler having made him heir in her senility, a demotion order gone horribly wrong.
Once, he was a mercenary coralled from a feral stack of two - the other, unseen, with an unknown special that caught the eye of the Shockamancer on patrol. And Zim had made him more than that mercenary, kept on minimum upkeep, the cursed and unwanted heir, travesty to the side. He had taught TREX the joy and majesty of life. And he was not about to lose Zim, the only person whom had ever been kind to him.
But TREX couldn't think about that now. His mind returned to a quest of love, as he opened his wide mouth in defiance.
A thrilling snarl, with a snapping finish that shattered the silence, filled the air as he shouldered the burden of his boyfriend, Zim, and focused without his eyes on his appalling surroundings.
TREX, called Unblessed by his own side, smoothly sidestepped, muscles screaming, as a blue steel arbalest shot went by. With Unerfly speed TREX leapt upon it, carrying himself over the river behind him -into the thicket at the terminus of the land hex.
He stepped backwards through the border as a succession of thuds struck the soft resistance of the hex boundary - UNG, delusional ruler of the false 'city' of Bel, was an unstoppable force within her own domain, an unthinkable Level 12 feral, chained to her iron throne in the cavern in the fastness of XON, and from what he could gather she had far more tricks available to her than a forest of arbalests. He breathed hard, but kept his mocking smile until the moment that the thing slammed into the hex boundary, some phantasmagoric brute with mouths for eyes.
He kept walking backwards for a long time, until he tripped over a tree root and collapsed into a nearby hollow. Relatively secure, his mind returned to history as he lay stunned against a comforting trunk, Hits regenerating as a Healomancer's fragmented spirit gibbered in his mind.
Near-disbandment for Zim, near-croaking for TREX - through the execution of a ritualized death spell upon the Ruler and her immediate unit guard, high level casters all. Chained by Carnymancy, squandered wealth, as a paranoid contingency of heirs and spirit vessels in the event of Aspael's death they sat and laughed mechanically in her mad presence, afraid of her insanity and disbandment.
The unthinkably ancient Aspael, corrupt and decadent lover of Flower Power smokes and the torture of men, had made so many enemies since the birth of her side amongst the Thousand that it was impossible and effortless to determine why she had been assassinated.
A soul drain scroll, experience drain - their presumed fate: a type of magic unknown to the Findamancers that came by, many turns later, to gawk at the strange signatures of alien arcana; until the soul drain scroll, litter on the ground, was picked up by the leader of their stack, and unpopped the moment the first words were read.
The survivors of Espara mourned her and her entourage only briefly. The question was whether it was circumstance or intention that caused TREX to be targeted as well.
He thought back on the side of XON, clutching Zim's body tightly.
UNG, creator of the false city of Bel, was powerful beyond dreaming.
But every unit she purposed, hoarding income through the torture and manipulation of unwary travelers' talents, was restricted to just one move - to go within XON, and to guard its bordered hexes of black desert. Being a feral and having no true side, she must compel them to take upon XON as their servants: offering them just one boon in exchange for an eternity of service, until her soul drain special reduced them to Level 0, thence into the realm of Erfly possibility. That was the nature of her side, trapped and twisted by the rules of an artificial world as he was. The irony of the fragmented speculations of the caster that brought him here being that her power was a gift from the Titans was immense.
He set down Zim and tenderly stroked his face, kissing him lightly, as he made camp in the deathly quiet forest hex, all wildlife long since dead from the improbability of a popped group of ferals surviving near Bel.
Adept Weirdomancy weirds more than a unit's stats: and Zim's final act was to cast upon the spell a distortion which preserved the essence of everyone around him, only for it to be reversed as it passed through TREX, even as the death spell reversed when it reached him. Zim was preserved, but at a terrible price - he was left a ghostly shade, at Level -1, soul drained into nothingness, and bound to TREX's cursed body forever. The awful magic of UNG of XON.
The other casters were broken and gibbering wrecks, wisps of their former cruel selves: their respective enchantments skewing their personality, mixing themselves with their memories and concepts as they were compressed to infinitely small points, and leaving them without personality, as pure motes of force.
TREX helplessly absorbed them all, gaining a list of abstract specials and a neverending litany of half-present voices, becoming a composite personality - his voice turning flat and mechanical as he slowly slipped into shell-shock, ruthlessly controlling his tortured mind.
As was everyone else of Espera's elite guard, his spirit, without body, was sucked into the only available receptacle, and its lack of wholeness gave it room. But Zim was the only one whose spirit remained, awfully, sapient.
His only thoughts were of Zim, the hated Naughtymancer of Espera, whom was refused enchantments by senile Aspael for his friendship with TREX. And Zim, with nothing but TREX, grew ever fonder of him.
A Level 1 to begin with, Trex grew up with nothing but hatred directed at him. He voided every complex enchantment and inverted every battle magic he was targeted by - kept in obscurity, he languished, known only by the warm amiability of Zim. So, as he strode to the traitor caster, stunned by the backlash of her spell, that screamed in the agony (unknown to him) of her newfound binding to XON and her incapacitating damage, the bitterness rose in him - he did not extend a hand in help.
He asked where she had come from. And she babbled, in thoughts, of the blackness of Bel, and of drowned XON, as he disbanded what remained of Espera's sole city for rations - and she did not vanish at his disband order, but rather assumed a vile red uniform, made of strips of dark leather and twining, ornate vines - the livery of XON.
As the wisps of a corrupt Thinkamancer swirled in his voice, they communicated as if between a ruler with that special and his troops, and he grew ever more aware of the nature of her ruler, UNG, and his hate boiled in him as he raged at the tattered wreck of his bitter mind. He named himself TREX: Tattered Remnant Executed by XON. He bade her walk to XON, and, bound by two forces - her geas and his order - she rose to her ruined legs and led the way, her mind gone by the conflict.
Guilt was a luxury.
His mind returned to the present. He was (always, sometimes, never) safe.
Zim began to stir: Trex's heart melted, as it did on the first day, as he opened his eyes and smiled.
(Note: User was awarded 40 Shmuckers for this post. -Rob)