He official hated this life more than any others, at least the ones he could remember, and no he was not being dramatic. One had to have a line from which they would not stand for any more abuse. His (which he found very reasonable) was having his body rip itself apart then heal the next and then start the cycle all over again.
Could they have the decency to perform normal torture and let him die? ‘No! We have to be creative with self-inflicting and healing wounds, and don’t get me started with this headache.’ Oh the headache, it was like someone shoved a rock into his skull. Now his brain and it were fighting for space, and his brain was losing badly.
Then there was all the noise, endless amounts of it. 'Why? Why, haven’t those women sang yet to shut them up? In fact, why does it sound like adults are crying instead of babies?' He stopped rubbing his temples, and (painfully) forced open his eyes. Thankfully the lights weren't overpowering, allowing him to adjust quickly. If it wasn’t for the fact that this wasn't his first life and he had experience seeing bizarre things he wouldn’t have believed his eyes. On every slab was an adult, clothed (he was rather disappointed by that) and acting like children. It finally made him notice that he too wasn't a child anymore since he’d propped himself up to look around.
Instinctively he placed his hands over his head and breathed a sigh of relief. Hair thick columns of hair, ‘truly I ‘am blest.’
He would have like to enjoy that moment a little longer, but his brain had decided it was time for more shots of sweat-inducing pain.
He did what all men do in such times, curl into a ball, head held in hands and began rocking back and forth. Eventually (by the god's will) the pain will go away, and he’ll bring down righteous vengeance upon these wicked souls. Or quickly find a place to hide from the psychopaths. Normally he would have found some means to painlessly kill himself. But the possibility of being born with even colder caretakers kept that path of thinking well away even in his moment of crippling pain.
A hum went out, but unlike the others, only a singular voice echoed. It brought bliss, soothed the pain. He instantly relaxed and rolled to his side, trying to go back to sleep, back to his dream. Sadly this same song seemed to be forcing him awake, its bliss imbued with bursts of energy making him restless. He forced himself up to see what was going on. To see where this was coming from, what he saw was like all things here, interesting.
A singular man, thinner than any others he'd seen so far. But what really grabbed his attention was the man skin, stone textured, the very rough kind, similar in appearance to a surface where a person would avoid striking against. Even more eye-catching were the man’s veins. They were glowing the same color as the runes, his eyes as well. Making it uncomfortably easy to get lost in them.
When he finally stopped his humming the glow in his eyes and veins diminished. Even faint it was still impossible not to notice, if they were in a dark room or place, he would be a beacon. Probably be the first one to die by whatever things out there that were trying to get in.
He forced himself to look away as it was getting a little awkward staring at another man eyes for so long saying nothing to each other. That and this man seemed upset based off the growing scowl marring his face.
He for one didn’t want to start off his new life already making enemies with people who could be in charge.
Not that he knows if he did anything wrong. But the list of people that had lashed out at him solely for being in reach when they were angry, was rather high. Best to look clueless and not pay attention or draw attention, instead he looked around for clues on how to act from his new brothers and sisters. They, they looked utterly helpless, staring at everything with mouths slightly open, and bug-eyed. But some looked confused, had some understanding that things weren’t how they were supposed to be.
'Good,' he thought, ‘I’ve acted close enough to their behavior to blend in, though I refuse to replicate their clueless mouth moments.’ He had some pride left and looking like a complete fool was his limit (when he could help it).
“What was that?!” bellowed out a voice that made his ears ring, and his shoulders scrunch up. All focued and turned towards Glowing veins. Who in turn was facing the women, the ones that carried him and others he didn’t recognize. Relief filled him as he wasn’t the one being yelled at. He was a little worried however that this man loud rant was going to attract attention from their friends outside. Which mixed oddly with joy when he noticed he could understand mister Glowing veins speech.
“Were you trying to fail? Didn’t I just tell you all that it would require more from you, to be prepared?” he kept closing and opening his hands, and the glow of his veins was increasing. Moments later he was laughing in that rather threating way before something bad happens to you. “You all thought I was joking? Didn’t you!?” His hands were up pointing towards the women, glowing bright. “Oh, you’re all going to be at the very front of the line now, because by the Giver I’m not. Not with the amount of will you made me waste fixing your mistakes!”
One of the women took slow steps forward hands held raised to the side in a non-threating manner. “Vernac” her voice trembling. “Vernac Grand Chanter, defender of those in need please give us another chance. We were taken by surprise by the sudden need of Soul, if you allow, we can help, we can ma—“A great light erupted from the madman's hands and for a moment all were made blind. Screams and cries came from the women’s direction, plus the sound of something wet striking a surface.
Part of him wished his vision hadn’t cleared, for no matter how many times he sees it he’ll never like the sight of death. The woman who dared speak was missing her top half. Which by the mess had spread in every direction caking the women behind her in blood. Some were on the floor sobbing, hurt by bursting bone fragments that they were unlucky enough to be hit by.
The madman's arms were no longer held upright, he seemed too angry at the moment to concentrate, his hands balled up into a fist. “Liars, all of you liars, all of you trying to stab me in the back.” his anger began turning his face crimson, and his arms began to shake. From the last outburst, he took that as a sign things might get messy, again. While the madman began to rave about something he took the appropriatey to climb off his slab of rock and hide behind it. Not the bravest thing, he knew, but when faced with a man who could shoot lightning from his hands he didn’t think that would help him much.
He was only distracted for a moment, but when he turned his attention back to this psycho, the man looked ready to burst. His face red as a rose, shaking like a leaf, pointing and screaming at all of them.
This went on for a bit before he seemed to lose steam, he was still angry but not to the point anymore of killing someone offhandedly. “Guards to me,” the madman said while rubbing his temples. The Guards didn’t waste long on their arrival, and to their credit, they only appeared alarmed for a moment at the scene, before composing themselves again. A few alarms of his own went through his head at such an act. Either these men were very well trained, or this situation was a common occurrence. His heart sank a little at the knowledge that it’s probably the latter.
A more imposing Guard than the others stepped near and kneeled to their psychotic leader. He seemed to be in proper or at least matching pieces of armor. All of it made of a metal of some sort, small runes carved into portions of the surfaces. The spear he held (which seemed to be the weapon of choice) was oddly detailed for the likes of a Guard, with every inch of it covered in runes.
“Grand Chanter” his voice a shocking low tone, for even as the most imposing he could still have passed as a woman. “Are you well? We can fetch refreshments if the ritual took more than the norm” he paused peeking a quick glance at the Chanter face, who had his eyes closed still rumbling his temples. “The tunnels are still secure if you perhaps wish to retreat and recoup in a more private setting.”
“Yes, yes we’ll do that, but first,” gesturing with his hand in the direction of the women, “I’d like you to have some of your men take these women to the front." He stared down at the kneeling guard his eyes glow intensifying for a brief moment. “The very front.”
The guard didn’t show any emotion on his face, merely nodded. “As you command they will be put to good use,” he eyed them, perhaps measuring their worth “one way or another."
At this, the madman made his way back to the exit his group had initially come from. “Good” he stopped and must have just remembered the children’s presence. “Oh, and have them help you with the Newborn, I want them at the front as well.” With that, he continued on, heading gods knows where, but it was assured somewhere safe.
The leader got up from his kneeling position pointed to some guards who then followed the Chanter, the madman new personal guardsmen’s for the time being.
The Guards didn’t waste any time once that Chanter was gone. They were uncomfortably quiet while they performed their work. Not until the head guard finally seemed to think the Chanter was far enough away to show some distaste for the situation.
The long drawn out sigh that emanated from him was the all clear for the guards to act normal. One moment cold, the next they were coddling the women, who were still very much shaken up, especially the ones that had arrived with the Chanter.
The head guard had moved over to the women, and knelt to be eye level with one of them. He placed a hand on her shoulder an attempted to get her attention as she herself was trying to comfort the girls who were hugging her. “What happened Zenjel?” Worry, and concern marking his face “I haven’t seen Vernac that panicked for a while now.”
Zenjel was looking up at him tears streaming down her face, her voice shaky as she spoke. “I don’t know, oh Giver, I don’t know everything was fine then.” She stopped lost in thought, trying to make sense of the situation.
“It was like the life was being sucked out of me,” said one of the women hugging Zenjel. “I couldn’t take it, so I cut myself off from the Cord. Others were doing the same."
Both focused on the women, who didn’t seem to like the attention. Zenjel began looking at the others “How many of you did the same as her?” That question caused most women to move their gaze towards to the floor, or any direction that avoided Zenjel look in general.
“What are you doing Newborn?” He nearly yelp, his attention to focused on the women, that he failed to notice the guards going around checking on the children. Turning to face his own guard, and getting up to truly stand on his new legs for the first time. “J-Just watching out for trouble.” The guard eyes squinted and a smile spread across his face. “Good, you can already speak full sentences.” The guard said then unceremoniously grabbed his arm and drags him to one of the exits
Where he was placed at its side. He could see other guards outside down the tunnel, their backs to them. There was a large slab blocking the whole stretch of said tunnel. “Wait here” the ride guard said before heading back towards other ‘children’ to continue this process. One of which he hoped he had passed. ‘This front they keep talking about sounds like a rather unpleasant place, or more unpleasant than what I’ve experienced so far.’
If there was some way to avoid it (which everyone seems to want to do) being worth something more than a meat shield would be necessary. Though part of him wanted to go there and be killed, to move on to another realm. Hopefully to a better one, which shouldn’t be to hard with how this life is heading. The thought of a painful death waiting for him at the front, however, stopped that line of thinking. That and the reoccurring thought of suicide seemingly leading him to worse and worse lives.
Or so it seemed, it was the only thing that had changed, what he’s done differently, and repeatedly. Each time the next life was a little harsher. He began to shake at such a thought, that perhaps an even worse life could await him after this one if he didnt try and live. Worse yet he wasn't sure what could count as suicide. Him doing it with his own hands? Or the thought of using other means to end himself. If he rushed off to the front in order to die, would that count? Would he wake in an even more desperate place than this?
Startled again from his thoughts, he found that he somehow failed to notice people, children standing with him. With more heading their way guided by guards.
“Fine, just fine, a little cold is all.” he gave the child his best everything is pleasant smile. Said adult-sized child merely tilted his head to the side. He, (which he was sure it was a he, no breasts in sight) was two heads taller than him. With an expression as if clueless of what he meant. It was hard not to label him an oaf from that look. Plus the oaf and the others keep shuffling as if they would fall over if they dared stand still.
“What about you? I see you’re having some leg problems”. The oaf looked down and about fell over forcing him to place a hand on the oaf's chest to support him. “Standing.” A look of pure concentration as if trying to remember a long-lost memory “hard.” The oaf smiled as if he had just accomplished something by saying the right word.
‘These are the people I’m going to work alongside with? It’ll be a miracle if they perform even the simplest order correctly.’
The oaf wrapped him in a hug and began to put more of his weight on him. “This. Easier”.
‘I’ve now become his own person crutch.’ Seeing the oaf no longer troubled with standing the other children began copying them, each hugging the other.
He sighed ‘At least they’re not shuffling anymore, but this arrangement is causing us to gain some unwanted attention.’
Guards looked at them some smiling others chuckling as more and more children were brought to their corner. They weren't the only group of children being placed near an exit. His group, however, was the smallest, the one on the other side of the room was the largest by far. The children in that group look hopeless? Worthless? They barely could stand, mouths open slightly, and the eyes, the eyes look empty. No form of self held within.
Perhaps he already passed the test for not being a meat shield? The requirements, don’t be an empty-headed idiot. Which didn't raise his opinion of the children with him, or the oaf hugging and rubbing his cheek in his hair. He would admit that the affection was nice, but he had hoped it would be from a woman, a well-endowed one that smelled of flowers.