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Time is often perceived as linear by those lacking the fortitude to see past the veil. This reality, this dream merely a tapestry, meant to be bent by those deemed above mortality. The nexus within the old world's carcass had been digested, Mazana, part homunculus, part Djinn, an unholy fusion by all metrics, now above a mere spirit. Her siblings, those that had spurned her, imbeciles tugged by strings beyond fathomability. Their eyes blind, unable to see, polluted by the grime and filth of their mother. Victims in a grand orchestra, pawns to be navigated by insidious wills. The empire they knew, the society they sought to protect, stitched together via the use of innumerable corpses. Those innocent victims were begging for redemption, imploring any who may listen for retribution. 

Mazana was stepping free from those silvery pools,  carrying a cadaver, the arcane energy thoroughly consumed. That voracious appetite hardly satisfied; she needed more power to bend this wretched realm to her whims. The sands outside may seem white, but in truth, they were varnished in the blood of the unsullied.  Those thigh-high heels colliding with the floor, the dragon watching as the spirit sat on the ruined throne of the former Mer empire. Those faultless legs were overlapping, as a broad and wicked smile ubiquitously sprawled forth, across soft to behold features. The hand was stretching forward, as the essence begged Comm'Orra to fulfill his end of their bargain, as Viessa corpsed laid resting on top of her lap. That quaint hallway of bone, the theater that labored as their little fray, would serve as an agreeable stage. 

Like a mirage, an illusion, the blue streaked beauty emerged into view—the sight of Mazana's golden and black dressed attire, those reddish and dark heels on display. As crimson painted nails stroked Viessa's cold, lifeless face, a demure expression resided on the visage as the head tilted curiously. The air within plummeting, those inhabitants observing their breath now twirling from lips, as the icy blood coursed through the regal enigma's veins.  The thumbs were wiping away the tears still staining Viessa's cheeks.

"These tears of sorrow, what virtue they possess. Indeed, such heartfelt expressions are the most estimable substance of our world. Don't be frightened; this husk is hardly a corpse. Hunter, I wonder, are you deserving of shedding such tears? The act of mourning our failures and the fallen resides within the domain of mortality."

The hand was trailing down the face and body, clutching that dangling forearm from the inert vessel.  Mazana deviated her gaze from her sister to her still living brothers, gifting them with a delirium enriched smile.

"Tell me, can you all seriously call this aberration a corpse!?"

The frosty maiden suddenly snapping the bone, the forearm puncture the skin and muscle, before tossing the rag dolling body from the throne onto the boney floor.  Standing free from perched position as she offered them all a theatrical bow.

"Frivilotiy, thy name is woman! No, that doesn't seem reasonable, as we Homunculus weren't even born from a womb. Humor me, Beastkin, can something not birthed from flesh ever be classified as a carcass? Thats right, brothers, she too, was one of our kind. An unfettered soul, purged of all impurities, transcending the levity that is mortality." 

The apparition was melting from view. The Djinn only reappeared ten feet in front of her siblings with an ice dagger clenched tightly in her grasp.

"My beautiful comrades, we are all marionettes, just some of us have longer strings than others. What you're experiencing is merely the first moment your consciousness has been awakened—time, space, meaningless ideas, much like morality. Revolution, discord is the fuel that propels life forward. Civilization, ethics, all constructs formulated by mediocre wills to justify the futility of thwarting and eluding the ravenous abyss.  What is derangement, but to repeat the same cycle expecting a differing result? What I offer is change, brothers, join me in this venture? Let us ride the spiral to the end and take our rightful place within the new epoch. Don't be alarmed; I sense proof is required of our divinity. Of which I am delighted to oblige for all those in this room...Behold."

The wintry enigma laughed as she raised the dagger, placing it to her neck, as her free hand clenched those locks of soft mane. The jagged implement hacking away, a bloody mist was pushing itself toward her siblings as the head was untethered from the body. The decapitated top being tossed to their feet, rolling around so that the eyes faced them, peering up at Rakash and Hunter. Those haunting eyes were staring into their very souls as the lips smacked together.

"Myrriah, the empire, used us all for their devices. No more, I have seen the way forward. For us to survive, drastic recourse must be...enforced!"

The foot raised, crushing the skull from the temple, caving it in, as blood pooled onto the surface.  A swarm of shadows and fireflies circled from the hole, its blinding light filling the room, as it vanished. Mazana was standing resolute, the APV orbiting her curvaceous body, as a new head sprouted into view as she leaned down toward her brethern. 


Whether or not any of this was real remained to be seen, but one thing was tangible. Mazana, the frigid rose, had gazed into the lamenting void and awakened from its chaotic depths changed. Rakash wanted to be a unit once more, Hunter barely spoke, as the spectators Watari and Aiveera added their pointless conjectures to the mix..

Mazana was looking toward the Kitsune, making the connection between his lineage, as the fright-filled expression of a mother was a laborious thing to conceal. Watari, a rabid animal who thought of himself as wise and eloquent but disgorged absurd ideals. Aiveera, the loyal flea-ridden mutt, powerless to think for herself, lapped at the shit crusted fingers of her mistresses spawn.  This audience demonstrated themselves as nettlesome, beyond redemption, their minds far too befogged to discern the veracity of her words. An asinine quality both Rakash and Hunter dishearteningly shared. What heartfelt supplications, the feeble rodent was pleading for his family, a bond that never tangibly existed. While all amphibian could do was stand there and witness the edifice of his transgressions, the manifestation of the "honor" bound warrior's failures.

This intruder retired those arms behind her back, interlocking digits, as the side of her palms rested against her rump. Those heels were riding natural acoustics, as the frigid rose paced rather calmly from side to side as if contemplating Watari and Aiveera's words. 


"Am I real? Rakash, a vapid question, as empty as the future of the Empire. Permit me to counter your query with what you sincerely wished to demand but lacked the testicular fortitude to, are you real? "


Mazana watched as, one by one, the actors materialized onto the final stage. That sweet symphony of madness pouring over her, as that thunderous orchestration was vastly more important than most had fathomed. The marionettes were fancying themselves free, reacting how they felt fit, though each performance proved equally dull. Watari little speech eliciting no response, as his mother's juvenile display was expected. What fools, did these dimwitted neanderthals presume she brought them here just to be spectators? No, why get your hands muddy when someone else could do the menial labor for you? Even if they somehow gutted her, Mazana plan was too far along to be prevented so easily. 

The frigid truth of the matter, this tortured soul's existence was no longer necessitated to exact the desired results. The head was reeling back sightly, the chest expanding and contracting, as she distinguished a detestable aura. This epiphany brought a broad smile on that face, as those frosty eyes drifted toward Myrriah as the antagonist waltzed onto the stage. Those empty words, like Hunter, not once did the Djinn consider her well being. Was this matron responsible for what was unfurling? No, not entirely, the blame equally could be divided on her dearest mother and mentally deficient brother. The bone tendril spirit sliding off the dragon's head, giving it a gentle pat as she theatrically danced forward.

The lifeless body of Viessa held like a dance partner. The morbid display and hysterical laughter would be followed with a bow and the dropping of the worthless husk. 

"Mother, please spare me from any trite lines akin to, "How are you still alive?" Life and death are vapid words lacking any jurisdiction to a martyr such as myself. By the way, Rakash, what will you do? Do you not see, mother cares nothing for me? I, like hunter, are just tools to be discarded. I suppose when marionettes are just wheat, you can let a few fall to the wayside, given she possesses so many. Did you know, brothers, that Viessa was a monster like you and I? What if I told you that I sense another, a new abomination, tucked from our snooping gazes? Tell me, Myrriah, is that your backup plan, to turn sibling against sibling until no one is left to oppose your dictatorial reign?"

Mazana now pacing back and forth, making several tsk noises, as she wagged her fingers from disapproval.

"The human race, fearful of its weakness, developed this empire in a frivolous endeavor to abate the certainty that is oblivion. Civilization, morality, empty delusions polluted by an infectious race, of which I am the cure. This world they raised is as appealing as a flaccid cock, or a barren womb. Through all this crud, Myrriah, you persist as a sober soul. Freed from the shackles of fate, an unfettered cognizance. An all-consuming spiral, untarnished by any semblance of impurity. An amalgamation of fire, blood, and magic. But, the one thing you require is reality. Vex not, for that is why I am here, to endow you all with a bit of perspective!"

The lungs expanding, as a sigh of delight, divorced itself from luxurious lips. Bequeathing the human scholar with a jagged stare, unsure what this chimp would do at the edification that his species reign was coming to an end—slamming her foot crushing Viessa skull.  That vile energy coursed toward the beam of light, bursting it into the heavens as the clouds parted. The song ceasing its haunting choir, it is finished.

"Freed from the bondage of the flesh, a true consciousness has no tangible form. All that should persist is the unquenchable yearning for reality, the truth of our universe."

Myrriah enraged, sent a line of purple energy from her deck, slicing off Mazana's right arm from the shoulder as the extremity plummeted to the floor. She was glancing to Rakash as the wintry matron chuckled.

"Did you see that Me peche? Bear witness to her true nature right now! A relic, desperately struggling to stay both relevant and alive. Such a pitiable sight, this is unseemly and unladylike Myrriah!"

The limb regenerating through a golden swirling mass of bioluminescent insects, well beyond the capabilities of any mortal or healer.

"Stop right now, Mazana! Don't make me..."

As she prepared another attack, the mother's words trembled, Mazana wiggled that empty extremity about liberally. The tortured spawn laughing as the Eldritch corruption and the convergence combined granted her a new limb. The arm birthed from the darkness and swarming insects buzzing out from the wound before shooting forward.

"What pain! What bittersweet realizations that I am alive!  Anguish is such a vital component of discerning one's existence, wouldn't you agree? Try to remember Myrriah what is required, what you must do to remain alive? Or...have you lived in such fattening luxury for so long that you've entirely forgotten the lives you so freely snuffed out? Don't worry...I haven't...and neither have they!"

The mistress of shadows enraged as she shot her formerly prized creation a scowl.

"Shut up! I don't need some freak contaminated by Comm'Orra to preach to me about morality!"

The blue streaked mane spirit was grinning as the AVP dislodged itself from the back, orbiting around her lithe form.

"Contaminated? Hardly, more along the lines of evolved mother! I savored but a scrap of my real power that day; those tormented bellows and their waves crashed against my vessel. They are now apart of me; I feel their choir, the hymn of delirium, and their voracious appetite for vengeance! It is through this fusion that I transcend into a higher realm of existence compared to you! Myrriah, you're an antiquated model, a discarded oppressive relic, soon to reap what it is you've sown...tragedy..."

Sweet little Rakash, finally standing up to his twisted mother, how this performance induced a smile on her face. The frosty rose, disregarding the tattooed fox's proclamations, finding most of these spectators' declarations to be lacking merit. The conniving spirit had a profound idea; beholding Myrriahs anguish at the vermin's actions goaded Mazana onwards to propel her off the edge. The pitiable rodent yearned to preserve his sibling; why not feed this delusion with a mere act? A modest, heartfelt gesture to lead the bewildered and befogged consciousness down a critical junction. 

"R-Rakash? I love you, y-you aren't a failure. T-the darkness if coming!"

The Djinn was staggering back, simulating tremendous despair, as she settled the palm onto her forehead, feigning a massive migraine. The breathing sharply, as those potent pools gazed at the rat, slipping from endearment to mania. The baboon human scholar's words prompting Mazana to laugh, such disdain, what imprudence this clueless chimp maintained. All that chatting, and in the end, to quote Matsumota, everything regurgitated was absolute bullshit. A simple reminder of the absurdity of his kind. That even those vested with a progressive education were still akin to a toddler.

"You wound me! In the land of fools, the sage appears deranged, so your ignorance is to be expected. Human, let the adults speak. If we wanted the inane ramblings of a juvenile, we would ask for your riveting insights! Now be a good ape, and go bang some rocks together or something?"

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Prisoned by fate

The frosty maiden looked upon the amphibian hybrid as the brother who had deserted her groveled in search of penitence. His attempts at sincere expressions of remorse meeting deafened ears, as stoicism is all that greeted him. The frigid rose had taken his place, bargaining with the Lord of chaos so that both Hunter and Anubia could escape that infernal hell unscarred. And not even an hour later, this self-righteous hypocrite was afforded a chance to prove the tangibility of familial bonds. But instead of flapping his gums, the sheepish buffoon embraced muteness.  The wolf could weave all the pretty words he wanted, shed tears till blood escaped those glands, and yet Mazana would remain unmoved. The others thought her suffering from derangement, but it wasn't delirium that fragmented her, but his scornful heart.

What did this juvenile soul envisioned would transpire, was her frozen heart to melt at the sight of his anguish? What did this mongrel know of suffering? Did Hunter think of her as free?  Such hubris, in Mazana's eyes, her brother only went about this performance for egotistical motivations. The mere mentioning of atonement causing that blank expression to wane, faltering, as a broad smirk sprawled out across soft to behold face. That warrior-poet Watari, expressing indignation, how pathetic was it that this stranger exhibited more empathy than the very soul she plunged into purgatory for? The gelid rose bewildered, that philosopher continued imploring the damaged woman to abandon her path and seek healing. What chivalry, Mazana had accomplished Comm'Orra's goal, change enacted, Myrriah was dead, and the empire holding the cycle from blossoming down a different route extinguished. 

Hunter bequeathed his answer, though not how he pictured, being greeted with the equivalent response he offered during her time incarcerated, with silence. Amun and Aiveera's lover's quarrel, while riveting, would prove unworthy of acknowledgment. Though the hound's insistent needs to questions the obvious proved amusing, it was a wonder the fighter didn't trip on her paws and impaled herself with the pointed end of her glaive. The mournful scholar, his baneful wails irritating, far too dazzled by sorrow to see beyond his myopic perspective. Every one of these creatures lacked the proper edification, blissfully oblivious to the monumental occurrence that unfurled before their foggy eyes. Rakash, however, seemed genuinely clouded; was it possible he did not know her predicament?  If right, a troubling one that would do little to mollify the soul, as Mazana understood what needed to happen next.

"Your charming fox, in a different life, we could have shared some intimate time.  Rakash, my brother, forgive me. I have a confession to make; I was never mad at you. It feels good to drop the ruse, to be me one last time." 

Mazana paused, looking toward the direction of the transport caravan, tapping her foot against the soil.

"13,872...that is the number of times I have lived this moment. And not once did Myrriah fail to arise victoriously. That has been my hell, trapped in a loop, forced to wound you Rakash each time. Comm'Orra wouldn't let me go, not till I found a way to tip the scales.  Family, that was the answer, not mine, but Watari's. "

A tear rolling down that cheek, as the Djinn couldn't bring herself to look at the adorable rat.

"And, even in my moment of "victory," I have sinned once more. Listen carefully; I may only get the chance to say this one. Our world, this dream, has been reset continuously. Each time, the same name and faces rise, with only slight variances between iterations. I have tried to kill myself every day, but he won't let me die. That is why I could regrow my head. But, I broke the cycle, created a new path, utterly uncharted. What you do with that is up to you all. Rakash, do your sister one last favor. Live your life, find happiness, the one thing I have yearned and coveted after but only ascertained when we were still a family. Perhaps it was a deception, but at least it was my fiction to live.  I love you, brother; you have no idea how hard this has been every time."

Comm'Orra materialized from thin air, by the transport carrying his desired prize, the weapon, Myrriah in all her arrogance thought could harm an Elder being.  The being causing a 40ft eruption of immense force, blowing the metallic caravan into shrapnel. The Lord of deception had plans for this tool, so it bent the reality laws to preserve the stone prison.  Anyone caught in its grasp would have their organs ruptures, bones shattered, and likely impaled by lethal, jagged sections of bronze. The explosion was sounding off in the distance, toward the location of the syndicate's cart housing the tomb.  Mazana was letting out a heavy sigh before staring one final time into Rakash's multicolored mirrors. 

The final drumbeat, the big reveal, and the truth of this reality is to be made known. It would be best if you stopped him, Rakash...forgive...m-"

Watari was partially correct, the body breaking apart before their eyes; one does not escape Comm'orra so effortlessly. But she wasn't let go either, more like presented a small reprieve.

"Watari, you're an astute fox, though, while you sensed something was off, you missed the mark, I am still a prisoner by fate. I may never see you again, little brother, please, remember me, as I will you."

And just like that, the Djinn was ripped from their plane and tossed back into the formless void. She was curling into a ball, rocking back and forth, as Mazana was left with nothing but those maddening screams. But, one thing did provoke a smile on that face, for the briefest of moments, the rose felt to blossom and feel but the faintest of warmth on those sensory deprived petals.

Like a distant scream, burrowing itself within that mind, Mazana could feel Rakash's torment. His wails, a stark reminder that wishes alone do not bring forth fruits of joy. For all her training, this rose was powerless to break free from the deluge of souls and energy vortexing around that cradled position: Rakash, her winsome of a soul brother, the only tangible thread left in her life. What point was power when those you cherish are left to wallow in destructive misery? Those tears running down soft cheeks, as vainly the Djinn struggled against the spiraling current keeping her pinned to the blackened floor. Damn him, Comm'Orra, torturing this fettered spirit by forcing her to bear witness to the end.  Hope, that sweet word, a brittle notion, holding no jurisdiction with the Lord of Choas flesh.

But, just as Mazana was to abdicate herself, something altered this storm of desolation.  A brilliant purple light perforated the darkness as the ephemeral solidified into a monolithic tunnel of congealed blood, muscle, pus-filled tumors, and bone. The climb would be long and arduous, each ascension up the ladder of perdition, spattering a repugnant concoction of organic fluids her way.  The odor surpassed description, the texture that inundated her vessel, embedding itself endlessly within that cognizance.  With every inch gained, the loops of purgatory they all suffered flickered within her mind.  The frigid rose peered up, ramming through any organic impediments, these pimples rupturing, glazing the lithe form further. These victims were not due to Myrriah, rather, Comm'orra this entire time.

What a fool she was, like Hunter, to swallow such bittersweet deceptions. Her mother, while far from guiltless, was absolved of this misgiving.  

"Forgive me..."

Those tears streaming, mingling with yellow stained lard, brownish purulence, and blackened hemoglobin.  The vestige that was Mazana's body, breaking apart as the Lord of deception, retaliated for her hubris. Muscles tore, skin disintegrated in bursts, only for the wounds to mend.  That vigor he had bequeathed the frigid rose, now utilized to keep the shell from falling asunder. Notwithstanding all the mental distraught, morbid recognition, and bodily mutilation, one thing kept her straining through it all.  Rakash, he needed her, now, more so than ever before. 

"I swear! No matter what today brings, brother! I will see to it we share a better tomorrow!"

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