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Von Hamartia Returns

PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:54 pm
by A.J.
Having given what recompense he could to his rescuers, Faust felt he still owed them a debt. But so much was missing. He was weak from the ordeal he had endured, to be sure, but there was more. He had lost... something. His mind was mostly roiling chaos. His body was frail and hurt constantly. That was to be expected. He still did not feel like he had full control of himself. In fact, he felt more vulnerable than he ever had in his life, but he also somehow felt more alive. He was home again.

He stood at the gate to his ruined home, the shell that was Ataliviska now just rubble beyond the overgrowth that creeped over the walls. He dragged his gloved fingers across the gilded sign, clearing years of dust from the mark of his ancestral home. He had meant to leave it all behind when he took his mother away to Silverymoon, but she was gone now. He remembered at least that much. It broke his heart.

He pushed gently on the gate and it came open, but with no small effort. The hinges squealed as it moved begrudgingly with his effort, despite the protests of the vines and branches ensnaring it as well, and it was enough for Faust to slip through before letting it fall closed behind him. The catching of the latch rang out in the empty night. It felt odd, passing through the gate so. In all the years he lived here… he'd not done it since he was a child. From a young age his power had given him alternate means to come and go from his home as he pleased. Now, he had to pick his way through the underbrush so as not to be tangled by it. Now, he glanced up to where the western balcony had been, remembering the large glass doors that led to his personal chambers, where he would alight from the sky above and spend evenings engaged with the beauties of Waterdhavian society, or where he would quietly sit and converse with his mother, or enjoy a glass of wine, alone with his thoughts. He remembered then the thrill of flight. He wondered if that was forever lost to him. He certainly did not know what power he still possessed, if any. In those moments when he awoke into the reality in which he now found himself, seeing the faces of his rescuers, his mind having not been his own for so very long, his first instinct was to flee the scene, and his power had failed him. He had then reached for the power to soar from that hellish place and into the safety of the clouds, but those invisible wings that had borne him aloft were gone now, as well. Feeling powerless, it was all he could do to place himself at the mercy of his rescuers. He was lucky that one of them recognized him, at least, and knew who he was.

“What remains now?” he wondered aloud, his voice not more than a hoarse whisper. He had come home to find out. He stood before the landing where the main doors once stood. He knew the way to the secret place, and stepped through the blasted building, seeing the remnants of the footprints of the adamantine giant who had, with his comrades, stopped the tide of tan’nar’ri that had come seething through the gate Faust’s elder brother had created in a misguided attempt to control the demon lord responsible for the eldritch power that coursed through the von Hamartian bloodline. That night, too, was a vivid memory for the Waterdhavian lord, despite his loss of so many others.

He stepped through and with much effort managed to clear a path to the depths beneath his family estate and into the darkness, until he came to the shattered door of the summoning room. The overgrowth was nearly impassable here, and he struggled to enter the place. His foot caught in the underbrush and he fell to his knees weakly. He fell hard enough to skin his palms, but he noticed no such injury. Moonlight spilled in faintly, but he could only see before him the shadows of vines and foliage. He though it odd for such growth so far below the surface, and he knew that he could not pass further in the darkness. He had failed again. He stood slowly, trying to disentangle himself from the foliage, and wishing he could see better in the darkness, a thing he was also unaccustomed to having trouble with. He made an unconscious gesture as the thought came to him, and his vision suddenly changed. He saw with clarity the world around him now, but it was unlike his power before. Now, the darkness revealed itself to him in shades of gray. He blinked, wincing as he caught his hand on a particularly vicious thorn, and he felt it pierce his skin. Sucking in air through his teeth, he removed his glove and saw the tip of the thorn embedded in his skin. He grimaced as he pinched the pointy thing free, bleeding more as he did so. Once finished, he simply shook his hand out and replaced the glove, shaking his head.

“There was a time…” he mumbled, and began looking for any way beyond the wall of vines and thorns. He pushed here and there, and found, suddenly, the foliage began to seemingly give way, and he stepped through the shattered doorway and into the summoning room.

“By Mystra…” he whispered as he suddenly came through the plant wall. The summoning room was transformed. In the center was a small tree that seemed to be phasing in and out of existence, though not fully. The entire room was scribed with swirling lines, and everything was covered in a bright, downy green moss. He looked again at the odd patterns and remembered. He removed his gloves again, and looked at his own hands. He literally felt the lines in his own skin, faint though they were, and how they seemed to fill him with power before. It was then he realized those same lines were mirrored in the room around him. Lines of power. He felt them surging. He felt wind suddenly in the chamber, though the vine wall had closed behind him. His heart beat thunderously in his chest, then, and he collapsed.

When Faust awoke, he was lying next to the shifting tree, but it no longer blinked in and out of existence. It was there, with small, fern like leaves the color of blood, but it had bloomed tiny, pale pink flowers, and despite the ruin of the place, seemed content, if a small tree could seem so. Tiny motes of light now lit the room, and the ley lines, as he knew them now, felt like they hummed with hidden power. What happened next he would never forget.

A female voice filled his head. “The taint of the Lower Planes is gone from this place,” came the soft words. It sounded so much like his mother, but he knew in fact it was not. It was something much more. “Now, what remains is the true legacy of von Hamartia, the Old Blood that flows through your veins. The blood of the LeShay. No more do the dealings of your forefathers taint this, von Hamartia’s true bloodline. Their… ‘experiment’ has failed.” The voice seemed to shift and move to all directions away from him and come back to him from all directions again at once, making it difficult for him to make out, let alone understand exactly what was being said. It was as if the voice was woven into the very fabric of reality itself. He felt it there, but if there was more to be said, the voice remained silent. He sat up slowly, and from sitting, stood. He felt stronger than he had in a very long time. The small maple tree remained, solid and unshifting, with its pale blossoms. The room was still softly lit by the floating moats of light. The breeze continued to move around him. The shattered door was no longer blocked by the wall of thorns. Instead, it formed a frame of green and left the way open back up to the ruins of Faust’s estate. Many hours had passed, Faust could see, as the sky was beginning to lighten to the east.

Reaching within, Faust felt his power again. It was not nearly as great as it once was, but likewise it did not feel as dark. There was chaos in it, as there had always been, but a chaos of freedom rather than destruction, if the two could be differentiated as such. He let it take him, and he floated up the stairs slowly. His heart lifted and he felt happiness for the first time in recent memory as he resurfaced and floated up into the sky above his home.

Dawn would find Faust returned to Ataliviska, looking over the extent of the damage and pondering how he might rebuild it, if in fact he would rebuild it at all. He had held reserves with Waterdeep's moneylenders, though they were small in comparison to the wealth of the other houses now. He still owned the land Ataliviska had stood on. He still knew people in the city – he still had his connections.

“But to what end?” he wondered aloud. He knew he did not seek to dabble in the nobility’s politics. He’d never been much more than a dilettante in that regard. Then, though he did not purposefully seek out the thoughts, memories of his captivity flashed before him, and in them, as they left him shaken within the ruin of his former home, Faust von Hamartia found his purpose.