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A Better Tomorrow
The land knew strife, war, an inevitable byproduct of the vacuum left in devastation's wake. The beastkin fighting foreigners, uprisings, and a myriad of foes all striving to gorge on the turmoil like a vampire. The cycle had been broken, the disaster that has repeated averted, but at a grave cost. Each death, every tear, the Djinn dared not refute her responsibility in their creation. While morbid, these three years of conflict were necessitated to usher in healing. The frosty matron worked with the new government, assisting General Watari with the expulsion of carrions nipping at the former epoch's carcass. Unlike Myrriah, Mazana saw little benefit in disguising her heritage, proclaiming it freely less she be surmised as a mere human.
The homunculus understood the lingering disdain, weathering through the hate-filled excrement slung her way.
The philosophy supervising this meritocracy demanded one's station be earned, that name and coin alone will produce little favor. The spirit was spending those brisk moments off the campaign trail with her sibling, esteeming his company above all else, as they exchanged retellings over the drollest liquor they could find. The poison mattered little, instead the time spent superseded any such arbitrary measurement. She was returning to face the horrors of war, commanding those units, as they under Watari's leadership. Excelled at pulverizing the onslaught of threats inundating the newly developing world. Through all the destruction, Mazana endeavored not to shift her gaze, as these conflicts, the lives wasted, were the monument toward her legacy's failures.
War, that unending season, being laid to rest by the end of that 36-month campaign.
Peace, a bittersweet fiction, the oldest of all deceptions, had blanketed those rolling dunes of sand. The psyche engineered it to generate complacency, the most distinguished bane to society. Mazana, now freed, found herself within a quandary. How does one pick up the pieces? How can a soul so burden by guilt construct a better tomorrow? The world of yesteryear rendered into a pile of soot, the embers long since extinguished. But through all the anguish, the innumerable tragedies that had plagued her life, one beacon of hope remained. Rakash, her brother, served as a guiding star during the tumultuous years to follow.
Clockwork City may have been reduced to just a pile of liquified metal, but their family opulence was wisely not stored within a single location. This wealth could have secured them a luxurious life, but the gelid rose was not one to rest on her laurels. Staying within the bone capital Nirvana, the wintry soul kept training, preparing for the inevitable return of discord. Her ice spells, hand to hand training, melding into a solely unique fighting style. While the frigid flower, that APV, maintained a vital component toward her art. Though the vile chi changed the once lifeless implement, evolving it into possessing some semblance of sentience—this epiphany, proving as enthralling of a prospect as it did terrifying. The Djinn forced to commune with the stubborn thing, earning its favor, as the organism and its former master came to specific terms for their relationship.
Like a dog to its vomit, Mazana returned to her old ways, toiling as an enforcer for Matsumota and Amun, the two joint leaders of this bestial alliance. The jackal king "birthing" spawn tentacle organisms from his unholy wife. Zelena, often testing the Djinn, seeing her as a mildly competent company, given their "otherworldly" minds. Notwithstanding their unique methodology of expressing admiration, the two forming a friendship still establishing itself as a fruitful harvest. Whenever not training, meditating, carrying out covert operations, or being dragged about the two courts. The spirit returned to the nest that was their home, waiting for Rakash to return from his exploits, to share familial time. Despite the tragedy they shared, Myrriah and Hunter's death, the horror only managed to strengthen their bond.
She joined the rodent in various missions, free of charge, as he taught her how to pick locks and pockets—skulking in the shadows more efficiently while honing Mazana's eyes on how to spot fake gems and precious metals. That is, whenever they weren't sparring. A decade of tranquility came to an end, as the bleeding heart peered across the horizon, beyond the sprawling knolls of bleached sands. She was watching as the moon rose, contemplating if somewhere out there if another soul did the same. For in secret, the Djinn yearned, coveted after the one elusive yet tangible thing deprived of her. A relationship...which did little to mollify her drumming chest or traumatized mind.
The memories of her time incarcerated by Comm'orra never dulled. In a cold sweat, rousing from slumber, as the vast torment always found a way to bubble to the surface. While those shackles may have been shattered, the imprints they left on the soul proved everlasting. And so, she set off, sauntering across the realm in search for something more, something denied. That one thing to complete her better tomorrow, healing...
Their family had suffered over the years, losing Faaria, only to regain her and have their mother stripped away. Mazana, lost that only guiding light, that one member within this unit it felt held affection toward it. Tahira was always far too engrossed in her work. And Rakash, he had become a drunk, abandoning and pushing away this frigid rose. Still, it remained within these empty halls. Clinging to the apparitions of the past, yearning for those simpler days. Its brother and sister were away; one was on business, the other sought vice, leaving the funeral arrangements solely a burden the inquisitor had to bear. Thankfully, the somber yet beautiful ceremony had brought them all together, albeit with heavy hearts and silence. Black, that foreboding color, was adorned heavily this day.
The actual scope of their mother's achievements was put on display. Mazana, wept, watching over the headless corpse before sealing the tomb. The three were off, heading toward the family estate to go over Faaria's last will and testament. They were stepping through those doors. Despite its opulence, the abode appeared impoverished. Their mother's stern scoldings, eerily absent, making these walls feel hollow. Three seats, by a table, Mazana and Tahira taking one on each side, leaving the middle one for Rakash. The artificial organism, grabbing an envelope, tearing it open as the hands shook from the gravity of what was truly transpiring.
"It's ok. It will read it."
Mazana stated with a shaky voice, clearing that throat as it looked upon what was left of its family. Being the eldest, it often took the bulk of the responsibility. The one rock amenable to support them, even if her siblings appeared inclined never to reciprocate the favor. Its life, spent in service of others, with the hopes that her selfless deeds might spark a positive change. Not just beyond these doors but proportionately within its icy heart. Lamentably, the universe didn't function in such a fashion. Notwithstanding the life it led, only desolation was bequeathed as compensation. Conceivably, maybe this abomination had yet to balance the scales. Its very existence is a mockery, resulting in an irregularity within the balance of their world. Ergo, while admittedly dismal, this epiphany soundness was not so effortlessly refuted. The lampoon to creation couldn't adjust the balance and hypothesized such an endeavor could only be perpetually met with failure.
"Umm, I will begin...To my two children," it paused, considering this may have been written before Tahira's natural birthing?
"To my two children, I leave my estates and all worldly attainments. To Rakash, my favored son, I bestow the Nirvana assets and those of crystal town. I know you have a darkness in you, and while you might doubt your worth. Know this; you were my greatest treasure. I pray that you find joy in this world and know that your mother will always be watching over you."
Tahira and Mazana placed their hand on the rodent's shoulder, rocking him back and forth to provide comfort. The wintry monk, feeling closure, knowing that their parent did indeed see her brother for the treasure he was. Tahira, snatching the papers playfully, grinning, playing a game with Mazana as per usual.
"I get it; this doesn't include me. While outdated, I will honor whatever mother's wishes were. I don't care what she had to say anyways..." The silver-haired elf chuckled before reclining back and continuing where Mazana stopped. "To my one and only daughter..." A long pause this time, as the teal orbs scanned the parchment in disbelief. "Eh, who cares about some document, right?" The monster slayer sought to slip the paper away, only to have Mazana rip it free.
"Your reflexes have slowed little sister!"
"To my one and only daughter, Tahira," The heart sank, its drumming desisted as the color flushed from the skin. Notwithstanding this fear, the frigid rose found itself compelled to continue.
"I leave Emerald city and fungal forest. You were the one good thing my body produced. And, while I may no longer be among you, know that I never harbored resentment toward you. To Mazana, I have cared for you out of an obligation. Your face, reminding me of my sin, your twisted body, is an indignity to my legacy. To you, I leave nothing. You have served this house well, and thusly, I release you from your duties. My greatest regret was never exposing my disgust toward you while alive. You once asked me for the truth, so here it is. You were created to be a weapon, to protect the others, an antiquated model that I only didn't dispose of due to the others. You once asked me, were you alive? I have gazed into each of my children's eyes, yet, when I looked into yours, I saw nothing, felt nothing. Aquaria, his genes were contaminated, yet, I failed to calculate how much damage the Eldritch hordes taint had on the cells. Comm Orra had shown me that you are a liability. And, if you love your siblings, you'll leave and never come back. As you are eternally marked. A blight, a scourge that will rot anything it touches."
That rodent's words that followed, while to some might seem sentimental, to Mazana they were laced with poison. Those wintry eyes swelled with the bitter strength of a polar gale. Wrath, an emotion seldom savored, had manifested itself as cathodic. Those hands were balling into a fist, shaking, as the gentle murmurs of the leather disturbance might grace one's ears. Long ago, this thing might have longed for her sibling's affection. However, his actions had spoiled such a prospect. No, the prodigal son, the rat that could do no wrong, was bequeathed a long leash. Family, that one thread suturing its life, had fully unraveled. Some semblance of clarity finally bestowed upon the abominations frostbitten soul. Comm'Orra, for all his deceptions, uttered at least one single truth. That, no matter its travails, even if the monk should whittle its fingers to the marrow, in the end, Mazana would find no recompense.
This world, its surface, was perpetually glazed in a sheet of permafrost. The people's hearts, encapsulated within an impenetrable glacier. And no matter the ardor and warmth, this weapons "soul" would fail to thaw out any sense of compassion. Even now, Rakash's little spectacle was fueled by a singular notion, selfishness. Mazana's anguish, the comedy that is its existence, is merely a pawn dragged across the board to facilitate its brother's delusions. Hunter had spurned this tool. Faaria had never cherished it, but, worse of all, Rakash toyed with it. Tahira, the last remaining member of this dysfunctional unit, persisted as an enigma undeserving of its efforts. Even if that Mer manifested appreciation, it would be tainted by the awareness that Mazana was a cold product, a relic discarded for this new, improved heiress.
It could scream, it could chide the vermin it once knew as a brother. Chastise this self-indulgent dipsomaniac who had bartered his sister for liquor. Yet, in the end, what purpose would this serve? Mazana had seen enough, endured enough, and for the first time, understood what needed to be done. The legs of those chairs screeched against the floor as wordlessly, the inquisitor rose. The body language, that chilled gaze spoke volumes. It left, leaving the two alone, with nothing but the echo of those heels to address its cognizance. It had killed many, endured hardships surpassing descriptions, all in the name of "family." Famly, ironic, the biggest swindle that tormented its permanence.
The door slamming shut while the introspective induced organism departed far from the carcass of what could have been. It stood on top of a large wall; those honeyed eyes surveyed the expanse, beholding the pinkish light from those setting binary suns. A lonesome tear, moving down the cheeks before becoming solidified by the coldness of its flesh. It recalled, exiting that incarceration, shattering the chains of its grandfather. Gazing upon these very same sols, within a comparable spot, childishly contemplating that together Rakash and it could inspire a better tomorrow.
That reproduction of a heart unfurled, yet, rather than water it; her brother stomped and bent the stem. The rime that is despondency, while thawing lightly, had never truly dissolved. The frost is unendingly kissing and defacing the exterior, spreading putrefaction. Seasons may change for most. However, ostensibly, Mazana appeared eternally confined within winter. A rose scorned, tucked from the perceptions of the world, concealed under a sheet of ice.
Those words from before deviated from quivering lips. Mazana strode forward, gazing down at the rock at the bottom of the cities exterior walls. A hefty sigh, expanding the nostrils, while with a jittery hand, the lampoon tore one patch from the shoulders, followed by the other. Each was a symbol of prior service, its time under the yoke of two nations, each undeserving of the sacrifices it made. That gentle breeze to most carried warmth and succor but, to this Djinn, offered no respite. As no amount of heat could bring warmth to what is already dead. Grudgingly, it let them free from its grip, glancing athwart the horizon as both patches were blown into the distance. Mazana Quil'Kovesh had wilted long ago. What prevailed was the echo of what could have been. Two guards, patrolling this wall, stopped their movements as they looked upon that lone figure.
"Hey! Who goes there!"
Mazana said nothing, that unwillingness to retort irking the two soldiers. Angrily, they marched; the clamoring of their armor while betraying their advancements didn't motivate an outward acknowledgment from the frigid rose.
"Hey! Are you deaf?"
The rose no one cared to esteem had heard them, pondering how to answer a professedly innocuous inquest. Who and what, the two things it never knew and the fiction it embraced, seemed no longer relevant. Those roots were ripped from the soil. It now gradually shriveled under the bite of this bitter world.
"I-I am nothing. Mazana, of nothing."
It turned around, walking off, exiting the city as the guards looked bewildered. Eventually, she vanished, to expire as it lived, alone.
The Perfect Rose.
The searing nature of these badlands had a way of withering anything under those pitiless blistering rays. The monument of its peoples' immorality was that of suffering which had permeated across every facet of society. The denizens' expressions, perpetually marked by woe, as the inquisitor on a mission drifted across the wastelands. One by one, she located and liberated the experiments, brothers, and sisters who were victims to a heartless system. Their contorted figures, twisted faces, gazing upon their messiah. However, where Mazana had envisioned a chance at a family, they, without exception, pleaded for death. The pain of being confined in such mutilated vessels was a hell in its own right. Those deformed hands, reaching out, resting on the armor of their savior. Eyes milky, barely visible through the tumors littering such misery marred faces, had joined her memory. Choice that most elusive of commodities, one long since deprived of them, had to be bequeathed, albeit with a dismal heart.
Those wintry eyes welled with tears, which inescapably streamed down the face only to be frozen due to the frigid touch of her skin. One by one, they were consumed, granted a swift and painless demise. Their energy, not to be wasted, was gradually added to what was swiftly maturing into a nexus. Mazana became their demands for justice incarnate, unleashing that blizzard devoid of empathy onto the men and women of science. Strutting throughout those metallic walls, discharging beams of frost as their forms were imprisoned within glaciers. This passing, a kindness, for there wasn't enough time in the universe to render the penalty each of these wicked souls merited. The machines were destroyed, research material gathered, read, then shredded. With each new facility, her knowledge concerning their purpose broadened.
Nonetheless, each epiphanies didn't bring with it relief, only further revulsion. Winter had arrived to the sands; the flurry gave way to blankets of compact snow layered with sheets of hoarfrost. An avalanche ripped across those seas of dunes. One by one, centers of knowledge succumbed to the bitter chill of that storm—that suit of otherworldly shielding, thrashing forth serrated tendrils of metal. Those extremities that orbited her curvaceous body speedily coiled and ensnared the coveted prey. Those teeth ravenously plunged into the flesh before oscillating and stripping meat, fat, and organs from the bones. Jagged spears of ice sprouted across the scene, impaling the guards and employees without any semblance of clemency.
Those punctured, gasping for air, as roses of frost, covered their flushed skin. From their disgusting carcasses, a stunning shrubbery of frost roses manifested to contrast such unsightliness—this eleventh den of sinfulness reeked of hubris and bravado. The crystals flickering, alarms ringing, as the reddish pulse of distress did little to impede that encroaching agent of death. Those heels reverberated, having already devoured those failures who beseeched for an eternal slumber. The wails of the dying riding the acoustics while nonchalantly Mazana strode deeper into this edifice of egos.
The faint tenebrosity, perforated only by the crimson glow, juxtaposed marvelously with the dispersion of justice. Those fingers were launching gelid rays; meanwhile, jagged tentacles were cleaving while lines of frosted spikes made short work of any opposition, hoisting their bodies into the air, while streaks of blood veneered the translucent rod of winter. She knew this place, read about it in Secrets journal. Somewhere, in one of these prisons, her daughter was detained.
Eventually, a door opened, slamming against the wall as the flickering glare from the hallways immersed that umbra-filled cage. Mazana, her body covered in blood, frost, and that metallic chitin, stood triumphantly. Slithering pools of gold squirming across the skin as hazel eyes scrutinized through the darkness. The chin held high with dignity as that bosom inflated from discernment of an achievement. Secrets book, thrown into the room, evidence for this unknown homunculus to mull over.
"I killed your mother; that book contains why. Come with me if you wish to live, plead for death, or go it alone to live a simple life or seek retribution against me. I am no mistress; I come to extend you the same thing I did the others, choice."
A caster blunderbuss being kicked in by those heels, scraping across the floor. Almost as if the polar witch was serious concerning the opportunity of vengeance. "There are many weapons, loot before the others arrive. I will give you time to think."
The door, left open while Mazana leaned across the wall about forty feet down the passageway away from the cell. Those lanterns, looking down at those taloned gloves, feeling that immense accumulated power that coursed through the body. The once imitation to life, a fragmentary and artificial organism, had done it. She had achieved perfection...