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The Pit (18+) / Çukur


The final war between Good and Evil draws near.

In the end, however, whoever has planned the furthest and deepest, shall win.

And evil plans are seldom simple.


In this cycle, the mind behind everything is cunning, far-sighted, and encompassing. If the mortals and their allies can not undo the knots binding them with these plans, they shall perish. And when they perish, so shall this world and it will become another feeding ground for the demons where mortals will be bred for the sole purpose of being food for a very horrific banquet!

They shall be born,
and be fed upon,
in an endless, gruesome cycle.


This story takes place some twenty years ago,
and crosses path with another story;
A Bard’s Tale VII, “1598. yıl”



How is the gate going? Are our engineers making any progress?”, the uncanny voice asked.

The uncanny, beautiful and masculine voice..

The voice was followed only by a short pause that could barely hide the fear of retribution.

“I am afraid not, my Liege. Whatever that fool Arcanton did with his colossal miscalculations, our mortal engineers have yet been unable to find..”, replied a thick, sultry, comely woman’s voice. “..The numbers are extremely delicate and hard to read.. Not to mention, coded! The paranoid midget coded everything he did. Deciphering them all is both time and life-consuming..”


Another pause was heard, followed by a deep, deadly sign.

The illustrious, very woman-like demon flinched.


“We must get that demon gate up and running. At current rate, we can only push so many minions through it at once, and all they provide is entertainment for the mortals..”, the beautiful, masculine voice said.

“Yes, my Liege.”, agreed the thick, feminine voice.

“But then, they are also keeping the said mortals pinned at the Demon Plains.. Otherwise, they would all coalesce at the Demon Wall and push The Damned Legion all the way through the Demons End, Fiend Pits, and on to the Citadel of Gullem —does the old fool still live, by the way?”

“Yes, my Liege, he still lives..”, signed the thick, luster, feminine voice.

“Bother..”, breathed the masculine one with unhidden contempt. “I was really hoping he’d croak. Rather irksome when mortals stay past their grave time, is it not?”

“Perhaps we can arrange a decent send-off for him, my Liege?”, the feminine voice asked hopefully and more than eagerly.

“Ow no, my dear Irine. When I want him offed, I certainly do not wish any decency in his demise. In fact, I have a special cage prepared just for his soul, down in my guest quarters. But until then, he is performing an excellent service by petrifying where he sits while terrifying the mortals and keeping them busy at Demon Wall..”


The masculine voice gave an unearthly chuckle.


“Demon Plains, Demon Wall, The Damned Legion, Demons End, Fiend Pits.. Mortals can be so unimaginative. You would think they would avoid naming their world with things that which they avoid!”

“They are fools, my Liege. That they name what they fear, with what they fear, makes us stronger..”, smiled the very feminine demon.

“Indeed, they are.. Irine.. Indeed, they are..”, the beautiful, masculine voice said lazily. “What of our ‘Seeds of Dissension’ project coming along?”

Irine, the illustrious, comely demon clapped her hands in delight.

“We are making excellent progress on that front, my Liege. This batch of ‘seeds’ has produced an exceptionally beautiful and promising progeny. She is filled with hate and spite and despite her young age, she loathes mortals and is incapable of comprehending mortal love.”, she gloated..

“Soon, she will be ready to be pulled out of her pit. She will then be put to conditioning. Then her real training will begin; on seduction, magic, and combat. We shall than unleash her upon her former tormentors. And once she has shed their blood, there will be no turning back for her.

“Her former tormentors..”, said the masculine voice. “It’s a pity they must die..”

“They are mortals, my Liege. Fools and easy to replace. They shall have fully performed their part only by dying at the hands of our ‘seeds'”, Irine sneered.

“Fools, yes… but devout fools. Wasting them seems like.. wasting them.. It appears mortals do not lack for fools, and neither do we..”, said the beautiful voice with little effort to veil the menace in it.


Irine froze.


“You have great expectations from this seed, then?”, asked the handsome voice, skimming over his unveiled threat.

“Yes.. yes, my Liege. She will become a great asset to your plans..”, agreed Irine, her voice unable to hide the tremor that clutched it.

“Hmm.. and perhaps my BRIDE.. If she performs as you have promised..”, smiled the masculine voice.


Irine froze again, but not of fear this time.

She froze and her face darkened with lust and black hatred..


“Come now, Irine.. I am well aware of your desires.. and your appetites.. But I am afraid you would make a poor bride..”

“My.. my Liege.. I would wish nothing less, and nothing more; to be at your side as your bride has been my only, deepest, darkest desire.. This too, I am sure you are aware..”, she said with such lusty longing, that her breasts heaved with hoarse, heavy expirations and tremors of unbidden delights zagged and throbbed through her whole body as her dark, penetrating eyes bore into her master.

“Yes. Your deepest, darkest desires have been long noted. But I am afraid you have too many ideas and ideals petrified in you. So much so that I would have to break you, for you can no longer be bent. It would be a shame to do that; to break you.. Then I would have to burn you down to the core to remold you to my liking.. Too much effort for too little gain.. Not to mention, the loss of one of my greatest and most illustrious concubines..”, the handsome voice smiled.


Irine slumped as her life long wish was crushed, quiet cruelly before her eyes as she awakened to the one, ‘unbending’ fact that forever she would be her masters ‘greatest and most illustrious’ whore..


“Do not despair, my lovely Irine..”, said the masculine voice. “For you are more than a mere concubine. You have nearly a great and cunning mind as your great and cunning curves!”

“Now, you shall take this ‘exceptional progeny’ you so seem to pride upon, under your wings, and personally see to her training. I want her educated in all mortal and non-mortal aspects.. I want her to know what drives us, and what drives mortals. I want her to see into us and into mortal hearts. When she speaks, her voice must be heard by our kind and followed by mortals with mindless lust. And because she will also be half-mortal, she will be unbanishable.. She will roam the mortal earth like a plague. Where she goes, death, destruction, and dissension shall follow..”


The beautiful, masculine voice paused.

And when he spoke again, there was power in his reverberating words..


“Make it so, Irine. For this is a task I shall trust no one but you. When she is ready, you shall bring her to me. Know this also, Irine, that her accomplishments and successes shall be yours to claim. This then, shall be your solace.. But so shall her failures..”, and this time, the beautiful, masculine voice did not bother veiling his threat.


Irine started shivering with true fear.


“And see if our greatest failure, Themalsar has been able to find Pricentines’ Light..”

“If we can get that weapon, Pricentine himself would be vulnerable. And as long as he lacks his precious sword, he is nothing! Nothing but a shame to his own kind; an angel who has let his soul blade go missing.. Do inform our dear Themalsar that his time is long overdue and if he is not successful in this, one endeavor, remind him I have his blood, his hair, and quite a few parts of his skin.. Remind him that I could do to him, what I let him do to that elf whore he was so riled about..

We have their Ad Ara here.. We must rid of Priceptine as well.. Speaking of which, I believe I have another 12 o’clock appointment with my dear ‘Dara.. I adore ruining an Archangel’s lunch hours, though I doubt she has any appetite left in her.”


Irine shuddered..


And with that, the great throne room shivered as one of the greatest minds of the demonic horde, Kardax’Trakxa “The Face”, gave a chuckle..

..not the maniacal evil boss cackle, just a chuckle.


“I believe that will be all for today, Irine.”, said “The Face”.

“Yes, my Liege..”, bowed Irine and departed, a smolder of a look on her face..



✱ ✱ ✱



The Face” sighed, rose from his massive, scarcely adorned thrown, and glided to the great table nearby. Unlike his predecessor, “The Face”, found little taste in flamboyance and grandeur. He had destroyed so many of his competitors and enemies alike by his ‘nondescript’ glamour. For him, everything he showed, was something they learned.. A ‘something’ they would certainly use against him.

The irony that he would be known as “The Face” was not lost.. or perhaps lost that he still, with mechanical precision and determination, had grinded down every enemy, every obstacle, and every challenge he’d faced..

He sat down and took the notes of the day into the black-bound, rather unostentatious book lying open on the great table.

The book was old, shredded at the sides, and very nearly as old as he’d been a mere demon squad leader. Into that book, he’d written down his ideas, his plans —long term or short, it didn’t matter, certain critical rituals, the details to his trademark spells, small, minute details he’d noticed about anyone or anything, and even little drawings morals called ‘doodles’. It was the one object, mortals or otherwise, would probably give their souls to get their hands on.


“The Face” smiled.


Too bad mortals gave their soul anyway, and for so much less..

Too bad mortals and quite a number of immortals would lose their souls if they even set eyes on the old book..


Before rising for his daily routine of going down into the dungeons to feed upon the agonies of a certain Archangel, he noted down a few more notes about what he would do, and accomplish, and the advantages of actually taking a half-mortal for a bride. For “The Face”, the mortality aspect of a potential bride was not really an issue but a matter of practical inconvenience. What mattered was the quality of devastation they could accomplish, rather than the quantity of years they would spend together.

Irine was many things and had more than her share of faults. But she was always accurate on her assessments and if this ‘seed’ was anything she’d hoped for, a pure and molded succubus half-blood would make an excellent bride, indeed..


“The Face” smiled once more as he caressed his book, the KARDAX CHRONICLES, rose from the table and departed to tear what little flesh was left on the Archangel, locked down in the dungeons..



✱ ✱ ✱



Kısılmış gözleri ve sıkılmış dişleri arasından, zorlukla zaptedebildiği duygularının oynaştığı solgun yüzü gerilir ve kısık bir sesle sorar Anglenna.

“Nereden biliyorsun bunları?”

Succubi melezi bir süre ona bakar ve sonra, ancak duyulur bir sesle cevap verir.



(Excerpt from: “Eski Efendim, Sahibim ve Çok Daha Fazlası..”)



Irine the Erinyes Concubine; (pronounced as ‘Ai Rie Né’, a word that derives from ‘irin’, meaning ‘fester/pus’) a more powerful version of the succubi demons. She was also ‘Auntie’ Irine for Merisoul Xyrotwu, the same demon whom the Serenity Group encountered during their final fight against Themalsar. She was a vicious and cunning adversary who nearly slaughtered through the companions and broke Moria Alicia Jean Hooman’s arm by sheer strength.

She was finally slain with the combined power of the group and a half-ton Inshala Frostmane when she inadvertently dropped on her in her gigantic scorpion form!


The ‘elf whore’ referred to, is the Ranger Marshal Selendenien Sindarin of Bari Na-ammen, who caused the first Themalsar War to stretch over four years. She was slain by Themalsar himself when he used a little known spell called Malocchio, a trademark death curse of Kardax’Trakxa “The Face”. She was the youngest sister of High Lady Angrellen and Ri Grandaleren.


Lyrics to the song; “Devil, Devil” by MILCK

Devil, devil
Clever Devil, Devil
How quickly they do sell their souls
For the feast and the promise of gold
But devil that won’t be me

Devil, Devil
Bones of metal, metal
You torture saints with a single glance
Make them think, they ever stood a chance

Do not try me Devil, Devil
Cannot buy me Devil, Devil
You won’t make a fool of me, oh no
What makes you so special, special
To think I would ever settle
For that devious dance between you and me, Devil, Devil

Rebel, rebel call me rebel, rebel
I walk the plank, not a tear in my eye
I won’t go down your blushing bride
Under the water I’ll be sharpening my knife

Do not try me Devil, Devil
Cannot buy me Devil, Devil
You won’t make a fool of me, oh no
What makes you so special, special
To think I would ever settle
For that devious dance between you and me, Devil, Devil

You take the shape of
Everything that I’m drawn to
You take the shape of
Everything that I’m drawn to
But your eyes
Are dead and red
Red as rust

Do not try me Devil, Devil
Cannot buy me Devil, Devil
You won’t make a fool of me, oh no
What makes you so special, special
To think I would ever settle
For that devious dance between you and me, Devil, Devil




A Shift in Perspective (18+)


This story takes place some time shortly after the story; “Somewhere Bitter in the Darkness” where the conversation between the little gnome and her strange and curiously dauntless friend reveal more about certain unexpected and controversial realities about the ‘competent counterpart of the pair’..



There was a strained, sentient silence in the large, ancient, bitter cold cave as one small figure banged and clanked with her numerous tools as she worked on her mechanical monstrosity, while another, a very tall, very dark figure watched her with mute curiosity and somewhat a determined, ‘will pay off’ expression.

The two unlikely pairs continued like this for quite some time until the small figure blew out an exasperated and infuriated hiss, stopped what she was doing, and irritably asked.

“So how did you do it?”


The tall figure smiled.

It seemed her mother had been right; determination, along with a good dose of mute patience, always won in the end..

It’d worked just fine on her father hadn’t it? And he’d been one deuce of a man..


“How did you learn about my classes? Hells bells, girl, how did you learn about my grades? And don’t tell me you charmed the academy staff. Those guys all have anti-student-charm wards.”, the little gnome asked.

“Yea.. Sadly, that’s true. Would have made my job so much easier if they didn’t..”, the tall figure signed.

“How did you do it? You couldn’t have found more than two people who’d want to talk about me or about my classes. And certainly not about my grades. Many of the kids detested me more for my high grades than they did for being a demon summoners’ kin! Seeing as how I was a social leper, I must also be mentally defective.”

“Actually, I beat you in survival class.”, the tall girl said smugly.

“The hell you did! No one beats an artificer in survival class”, in total disbelief.

“I sure did.. Though I didn’t brag about it. Not after seeing you sulk when you saw the grades posted on the students’ notice wall.”

“That was you?”

“Yup, that was me..”

“It was the one time, damit..”

“True.. I didn’t bother to do better after that. You seemed so upset.. sulking like a kitten caught in the rain.. Shattered my heart, it did..”

“I did not sulk!”

“The hunched shoulders, the crossed arms, the scowling red face, and the blistering curses.. Yep, you were sulking. And doing it so cute, I might add. I mean, even then, way before we were paired, I was like, ‘Awww, isn’t she so darn cute, sulking like that. Oww, I just must have her. I could put her into my coin purse and carry her around all day!'”, the tall figure said with a happy smile.

The little gnome scowled but bit back a savage retort..




The smile on the tall figure stayed, but the happiness faded.

“So.. How did you do it?”, she asked again, after a while.

“You don’t want to know..”, said the tall figure with a long, sensual yawn. “I am going back to sleep.. Can’t keep my eyes open any longer.”

“How did you do it?”, persisted the gnome, but the tall figure had left the scene.

The sound of soft, naked feet grew quieter and finally dissipated all together.

TELL ME, DAMIT!“, hissed the gnome with burning frustration.

From the other side of the cave, a very faint rustling sound was heard.

Only after a long, infuriating pause, did a sleepy, voluptuous voice say, “I burglarized the academy staff offices!”

The little gnome just stared at the darkness and at the girl lost in it.

Unknowingly, she dropped her hammer.

“You.. You broke into the academy staff offices? Just to get to my grades?”

“Well..”, the sleepy voice said, “I wanted to get to know you, and your interests, and how competent you were at them. We had, after all, just been paired, so yes, I broke into the academy staff offices. And what I found wasn’t limited to your grades. I read every single remark, note, warning, possible disciplinary action, and everything anyone had to say about you. You wouldn’t believe how many complaints were filed against you out of petty spite! I also found all your research papers and read them as well.. I must say, your studies on steam-propelled engines was quite inspiring and I strongly suspect your professor plans on stealing it. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s published a paper on your steam thing with his own name on it by now..

Altogether, it was a very long read. Much, much longer than mine. What they had to say about me was quite colorful, but they were all basically the repetition of the first. They only got wilder and wilder towards the end. I honestly felt flattered at how talented my mentor thought I was in my persuasion classes. That old stick had left a rather long explanatory note for the dean, trying to explain himself, why he had me repeat my finals seven times —alone with him— just to make sure I wasn’t cheating..

As if..!

I did admire the old fool’s passion for pink, though. It rivaled my own! I am sure he wanted to see more, but his heart finally gave in..”

A sensual, throaty and somewhat cruel laughter echoed in the darkness..

“I ended up giving him CPR and he ended up trying to explain himself to the dean..

Your file, on the other hand, was thicker than my thigh, which isn’t saying much, I know, but it was all written in this small, clandestine-like print. It took me the better part of the night to get to the end.

Some of the notes and cautionary warnings I read came from some very high people and very far places like Arashkan, Bari Na-ammen, and Durkhahan! Did you know they had a permanent ‘Watchful Eye’ spell cast on you during your whole tenancy at the academy? That sort of pissed me off because I knew for a fact that it is a highly dangerous and very much an illegal spell, not to mention, extremely expensive to maintain, totally pointless and cruel to place on a young student.

What truly struck me came at the very end, though; that none of it had changed anything I felt or thought about you. I got out feeling exactly the same as I got in. Just more excited and determined..

When they first paired us, I thought I had gotten me a cute, somewhat dorky but smart, and a highly organized little overachiever. Would you like to know the only thing that changed after I read all those ill things about you?”

“What?”, the little gnome’s voice fizzled, feeling totally crushed by now.

“Nothing..”, came the sultry voice softly from the darkness, stifling another yawn.

“It did, however, change my perspective of those paranoid fools at the academy though because I had, in fact, gotten me a girl, still very cute, still dorky, but with a very sharp, singularly unique and sensitive mind and no one was going to hurt her ever again!

With you, I thought of all the impossible things we could accomplish together. And all the crazy fun trouble we could get in and out of.



✱ ✱ ✱



I could almost imagine myself..”, the voice said with a tingling, yearning, happy little chuckle, “..with you tucked under one arm, running in terror with my pinks on fire while you screamed, ‘RUN, GIRL.. FASTER! FASTER!..‘ as some massive explosion bloomed behind us.. Ahhh, it was such a beautiful, exhilarating, and vivid dream. All the more so, because we would have just witnessed the total and catastrophic failure of yet another plan we had concocted together.. But every once in awhile, we’d succeed too. We’d have this silly, smug expression on our faces as we sat in some out of the way inn with large, filthy mugs in our hands because we’d just found out that we’d been banned from yet, another town! All because I thought you would be my sturdy, unwavering, and unbending pair.. That you would be the light in my shed..

I knew, of course, that this would never happen. You were just too sensible, too smart for total, catastrophic failures. It’d be a lot more boring in real life but that didn’t really matter either because, at the end of the day, I’d still get to have my pair to joke about it..”, the voice sighed.

“As for my burglarizing, it never came up, so I never mentioned it. But I was also the best in my stealth class as well. At least in camo and night stalking and I could squeeze through any given crack as long as my head would fit in it. I could also stand still and go unnoticed for hours, if you can believe that, because I’ve always had a very good inner metronome, I’ve always been very patient, inhumanly so —which is to be expected— and I never fidgeted. Probably the end result of a combination of listening to too much beat music, my mother and never feeling ashamed of who or what I am, nor the things I did, no matter how silly or foolish they were, because once I did it, I’d own it.. I couldn’t say the same when it came to the actual creeping and sneaking, though. On that score, I am afraid, I was a bit of a clutz. I mean, I am so tall and somethings just can’t be helped..

I still had to do quite a bit of crawling and slithering to get in through the ventilation shafts leading in and out of the academy staff offices and nearly got stuck and suffocated. I spent two days in those shafts, stranded and unable to move, waiting to lose just enough weight untangle myself, and get through. I probably couldn’t do it at all now, even if I fasted for a week. I was so skinny when we were at the academy. I am a lot taller and have much more flesh on me now, then I did back then.”

THE TWO DAYS YOU WENT MISSING AT THE ACADEMY! A WEEK TO GRADUATION!“, gasped the little gnome in sudden awakening.

“I.. I thought you’d run off to avoid pairing with me..”


My dear girl, if I hadn’t wanted you, I would have used my ‘right to refuse’ at the pairing and gone solo.. Besides, we’d already been paired. Once paired, always paired. It’s not a matter of mere honor and integrity. Pairing is also a magical binding. That is why pairs function so much better than solo graduates.

No, girl, quite the contrary. Nothing ever excited me more than having been paired to you..


By the time I came down the shafts, I looked more like a ghoul than myself.. Then came the issue of the wards.. Turns out most of them rely on light sensories. I just breezed right past them and none was the wiser. They barely gave me a suspicious buzz, then totally shrugged me off. Though, all things considered, that shouldn’t really be a surprise for you. I mean, just look at me!”

“I did not know..”, said the little gnome, drowned in the things she had just learned.

“Well, you never took that class so you couldn’t have known that I did.”

“I didn’t take that class because I had a ban on stealth, practical magic and sorcery, deception, and medicine.. They really didn’t want me taking arcana either, but you can’t be an artificer without arcana, so they gave in, provided I take history as a mandatory prerequisite for it, just in case I missed the reasons why I’d been banned from all the other classes!

After what my uncle did, all Arcantons were..”, the gnome said bitterly. “..but that’s not what I meant.”

“I know..”, came the voluptuous voice softly.

“Then, why? Why do it at all? Why take such a risk? You would have been banned and excommunicated from the academy if you’d been caught. Your name would have been black-marked and black-listed! Hells bells, girl, you could have died and no one would have even found your body until the start of the new scholar year!..”

There was a moment of silence as if the voice in the darkness was considering whether to tell or not.

When she finally spoke, there was a wretched and desolate pain in her voice.

“Because I detest small talk. I have always found it to be demeaning, prosaic, and artificial. I wanted to skip all the silly ‘weather’ talk and get to the real, honest part of our conversations. Not like we’d just met, but like two people carrying out a heated discussion they’d started days before.. I wanted an honest relationship where neither you nor I had to tiptoe around each other because we were strangers. I wanted us to start without the delays and the setbacks of the shallow, superficial stuff..


..and because no one is ever honest around me. People just look at me and suddenly start lying about the most immaterial things about themselves, just to get to impress me and by doing so, they unwittingly cast me as the pretty, stupid girl and miss the ironic significance in that; when you lie about the insignificant, you are unable, to be honest about the significant! They fail to grasp one of the most basic and fundamental truths in life; that which is insignificant for you might be dearly significant for me..


For all that’s good and not, I’d even prepared a like dossier for you, with all the classes I’d taken, my grades, my favorite professors, to whom I had a secret crush, a covering selection of my likes and dislikes, and things that I felt to be particularly dear to me..

I put anything and everything that I could possibly think of into that dossier.. Everything you would have found out about me in the course of a long and honest friendship; my past, which I thought to be rather boring compared to my sojourn at the academy, the things I admired about you, including the first time I saw you and my preferred shades of pink, all color-coded. I’d even added a FAQ section and indexed the whole thing for easy access.. Just so we’d start on an equal footing. Still got the silly thing here somewhere, though I could see no point for it now..

A shame really. After two years of trying, I have nothing to show for it.. I guess no matter how hard you try, apparently somethings you never get to have.”, said the voice with a sigh.

“You know what truly depresses me? This insignificant seeming little banter that we just had, has been the only honest and significant conversation that we ever shared. Many pairs get to babysit each others’ kids after two years from graduation and here I am, actually happy for a mild banter.. Isn’t that just sad, Arcantonic?


In the end, I did have you. Just never got you.. I suppose I am never going to be putting you in my coin purse and carrying you around to my heart’s content..”


..the voice slurred in the darkness and finally drifted into sleep.



✱ ✱ ✱



No, I guess not..”, the little gnome silently agreed.

“I.. I don’t know what to say.. I really don’t. The things you have done.. and for what? To get to know some social reject? A nobody, if not for my degenerate uncle! I am.. funked!”, she said in quite bewilderment, but should she ever be asked, the word she would honestly have preferred would have been; Awe!

It was all just too much to compute, let alone, digest.


Arcantonic felt disoriented.

Concussed, even..


From a point-blank perspective, all her pair had done was to break into some offices to take a peek at her grades out of sheer, stupid curiosity. But then, whenever she’d looked at her pair from that same point-blank perspective, all she’d seen was.. pink!


This time she knew, she just knew, she could not explain away the actions, nor the reasons of her pair with her usual, unmuted sarcasm..

Hells bells, the girl had spent two days, stuck in some draft pipes, unable to move and gasping for breaths, in hopes of losing enough weight to get through.. Just to get to know, to understand, and to relate to an ‘undesirable’ girl she’d barely known!


“I am not sure about the total, catastrophic failures,” said the little gnome finally, with the same subdued voice, “..but I think I can help with the big, blooming explosions. Provided, you run faster!”

“And..”, she said, “..that’ll be ‘Tonic’ for you, girl.”

The little gnome felt something shift inside her.

A point in perspective, perhaps?


Or something..


Whatever it was, it would come to her in due time. But she had this pinching feeling that it seemed like it was high time she got off her high horses and stepped up to her end of the pair.

To that end, she turned and hastily gathered all her tools; her hammer, her wrench, her drivers, pliers, nippers and cutters, the numerous gadgets, spare bolts, and coiled wires and put them to their proper places inside her large, portable toolbox. She sat down and took off her clobbering boots, ignoring the freezing cold biting at the soles of her naked feet as she opened the little hood of the lantern and pinched the life out of the candle in it. Cast in darkness, she skimmed the elegantly made lantern with her slim fingers until she found what she was looking for; a well-concealed runic button hidden at its base. She lightly tapped the button, setting it to MODE B…


..on the other side of the ancient, bitter cold cave, where the curvy form of a very tall, pitch-black figure —her pair— slumbered..

..was something.

Something hidden..


Arcantonic smiled.


She might not be much of a sneak, nor have many of the quirky talents her pair did, but she was an artificer and that meant compensating what they lacked by way of substituting them with pure ingenuity and dedicated craftsmanship..

There was still time, and she was going to make things right with the only person who had bothered to get to know her, damit!


She reached up and twirled a small knob on her goggles, turning the black darkness into shades of blue and gray as everything became oddly distinct for her..

Arcantonic Palecog quietly faded in the darkness to do some burglarizing of her own; it was going to be a long night and hopefully, an even longer, FAQed and color-coded, read..






Somewhere Bitter
In the Darkness (18+)


This story takes place sometime between the birth of Bremorel Songsteel and the birth of Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane, in a bitterly cold cave, somewhere up very north of any known civilization.



I hate this shit..!”

A somewhat raspy and tenoric voice echoed in the darkness of a very large, bitter cold cave. It was, however, a bit unclear whether the bitterness was in the voice or the arctic cave. A number of glacial stalactites did shatter and crumble down though.

A single candle danced and fluttered inside an elegant, copper framed lantern in one corner of the cave where a small figure wearing goggles with thick, darkened lenses banged and fiddled with a very large, rusty, mechanical..


It was hard to say what this thing really was. It vaguely resembled a bear.. perhaps.


Or something..


Many cogs, gears, clockwork springs, moving arms, and levers shifted and shuffled inside it with a great amount of vertical noise as sharp columns of steam hissed out of areas where they probably shouldn’t.

“What are you doing..”, another, sleepy and voluptuous voice said, out of the reach of the stuttering candlelight.

“I am working on my project. What does it look like I am doing?”, the raspy voice replied in a grouchy tone.

“Come on, girl. It’s the dead hour of the night. Come back and sleep..”, the sultry voice said with a yawn.


I remember once when some dolt with nothing better to do asked me what my ideals were.

When everyone despises you for your family, you have no future and ideals become overrated..

Thanks, uncle, for buggering my life!

And thank you too, Nadine Graciousward.. for, so graciously kicking my retarded uncle’s gnomic arse six ways to hell and milking it for all you are worth..

..stupid bitch!


“You may have time to sleep, but some of us have actual work to do and don’t rely on the size of our breasts to get them done!”, the raspy voice cracked.

There was a surly moment of silence followed by a rustling sound and then, a pair of soft, naked feet approached the dim candlelight.

“That was a tad uncalled for, Tonic, even for you.. Besides, there is nothing wrong with the size of my breasts. Neither with yours, for that matter, proportionally speaking, of course.. Only if you could be bothered to sulk less and wiggle them some —the way I showed you. And speaking of work, nothing you have done actually did work, you know. Might as well sleep.. or wiggle, at the very least!”, said the voluptuous voice as an impossibly tall and very much dark figure entered the dimly glowing light.

“My goggles work. So does my lantern..!”, the little figure snapped indignantly. “..And don’t call me ‘Tonic’. We are not friends enough for you to get familiar with my name.”

“This is quite a big leap from a pair of goggles and a lantern.”, said the tall figure, pointing dubiously at the mechanical ‘whatsit’. “And I have been calling you ‘Tonic’ since the day we were introduced for the scholar pairing, back in the academy. And that was nearly two years ago.. What just changed?”

“I just got around to it..”


I have no bonds, only chains.. and this idiot with a pink fetish, shamelessly running around in a retarded mini skirt-dress that defies gravity, i am paired to..

Pink skirt.. Really? What kind of a demented and abysmally stupid girl goes to the dig site of some ancient ruin in a mini skirt!

“Hey boys, I am going to bend over here to brush the dust off these skeletal remains, don’t be shy..”

I mean, it’s not even sending mixed messages!

Hells bells, girl, you are slim as willow and tall as the Raven Queen’s hallowed spire. I can see your laced, pink panties under that piece of laced, pink swab you call a dress, just by looking at your face, and I am not even trying.. I have seen things there, I am never going to scrub out of my mind!


The owner of the raspy voice turned to look at the tall figure with compounded irritation and quickly averted her eyes.

“Can you at least put something on? Anything. Even that sham of a dress I wouldn’t use for a cloak will do!”

“For all that’s good and not, why? We are alone, in a cave, in the middle of nowhere.. literally.. for all three cases!”, the tall figure replied.

“Besides, it’s quite warm in here. Hot even, I dare say.”, she added..

..and shrugged her slim shoulders, causing some other things to bounce as well.


Some people ask me what my flaws are.

Don’t need any. I have this stupid girl to look after and the deeds of a retard uncle that follow me wherever I go..

Nobody can be this unlucky, yet here I am..

It’s like the sky’s wanted a laugh and said; here, let’s make a particularly midgety gnome.

And while at it, let’s make her as pale and skinny as a hundred-year-old ghoul.

Then let’s make her a relative to someone famous.. Famous for engineering something as abysmally stupid as a demon gate, just so she gets the special treatment of a leper.

..And then make him get owned by a little girl that just turns out to be the most beautiful minx in the king’s land. So beautiful in fact, that she destroys the legendary Arcanton with her pretty, rather than brains and gets to marry a friggin elf ri!

Really?..AN ELF Rİ!

What?, “Marry the handsome prince and live happily ever after’ routine wasn’t good ‘nuf for you? I am certain there was any number of them around, just waiting to be grabbed by you!

I mean, can you even get any brasher then that?

But that’s not all.. Let’s kick the midget some more while she’s down and pair her off with another beautiful girl. Preferably with ‘the most popular girl of the academy’ made of two long legs, a little ass..

..and pretty much nothing else.

You know, just to underline the difference in size, color, and.. everything else. I don’t even qualify to reach her waist. When I look straight at her, I just see.. pink!.

Look at her; my little gnomic arse is frozen numb and she dares says ‘it’s hot, even’!..

It makes me and ‘irony’ bleed!


A sharp clanking sound came from the mechanical monstrosity.

“Is it supposed to do that?”, the tall figure asked.

“Possibly..”, the raspy, small figure replied evasively.

An arm shot out from the mechanical ‘thing’ and grabbed at the tall figure!

“Umm.. is he really supposed to do that? Grab my ass the way he has, I mean..”, the tall figure said, more with surprise than any kind trepidation.

“No.. maybe..”, the raspy-voiced little figure replied, somewhat dismayed. “But it’s no wonder he would, the way you keep running around the way you do..”

“What’s wrong with the way I run? Although, now that you mentioned it, I do feel funked!”, the tall figure said, looking down at the mechanical arm. “If he squeezes, and leaves a mark, I will have to demolish him. You know that, right?”

“Funked?!”, the small figure said.

“Yea, funked. That was the popular word in the academy when we left.. Probably dropped out of use, though. Nothing lasts in the academy for long.”, the tall figure signed.

The little gnome snorted as she kept fidgeting and tuning the cogs, wheels, and gears inside the mechanical monstrosity.. but with a hint of desperation now.

“Where did you get all these parts anyway. We are in the middle of an arctic desert!”, the tall, dark figure asked.

“Magic, duh!”, said the small figure.

“Ahh, right.. I suppose all is okay if there is a ‘duh’ in it.”, sniffed the tall figure. “You know, I never really liked that word. It’s not even a real word. It’s impolite, patronizing, very unscholarly, and sounds so silly.”

The small figure ignored her.

“And why in all that’s good and not, do all your clockworks have a sad, worried expression on their faces?”

“Because I find that hilarious..”

“You find sad faces hilarious.. There is something seriously wrong with you girl. I mean, who finds sad faces, funny?”



The tall figure reached out to touch something that looked like the single antenna of a sawyer bug, sticking out of the rusty, elongated egg-like head of the monstrosity.

“STOP!”, the little figure shouted.


“What? Why?”, the tall one asked.

“Because it will disintegrate you!”

“No, it won’t!”

“It might.”

Multi-tasking a conversation with this tall figure and trying to tune the mechanical thing was starting to get to her. All she wanted was to be left alone, all to herself.

“You are just cranky because it just doesn’t work. Like, at all.. Now tell me, why?”, the tall figure asked softly, with an unexpected change from her voluptuous voice.

“Why, what?”

“Why are you always chewing me out? I am not the real reason for the disposition of your ire. Merely your happy excuse.”

“The disposition of my ire?”, snorted the gnome. “Using the big words now, are we?”

“Casting yourself in the third person now, are you? I am simply your G.T.B.G.”

The little gnome stared at the very tall, very dark figure through her thick goggles in blank incomprehension.

“My what?”

“Your G-T-B-G.. Your Go-To Burn Girl!.. To be used for the amusement of your cumulative anger; hey look, Tonic is feeling irritated, just dump it on the tall, pretty girl. Tonic is feeling angry, just burn the tall, pretty strumpet. And now, Tonic is feeling waspish, go right ahead and claw, bite, sting, and stab the tall, stupid girl.

It must be all right to hurt the Go-To Burn Girl since you think so little of me. In your mind, I am just a stupid, pretty idiot that I can not help but be. You have no regard whether the things you say may really hurt because some of them might actually be true, but nevertheless, things I can not change nor do anything about, save taking a knife and carving myself with it..

I can’t change what I am. My height, my color, my face.. and hey, my incomprehensible, mindlessly obsessive passion for pink! And you are accusing me, punishing me and pushing me away for them.. and your family. None of which I had nothing to do..

Other than the inevitable, I have never once looked down on you. Never have I judged you by your size, your appearance, your past, nor your family.. When I look at you, I see a lovely, smart girl who is angry and feels that anger justifies burning her pair.

Has it ever occurred to you that they might not have paired you to me to get rid of you, but paired me to you so we could help fix each other?

For everything that’s good and not, have you ever wondered why I call you ‘Tonic’ and never once by your full name? Or why I never asked you about your uncle?”


There was a long moment of silence as a stubborn minute snailed by..

..followed by another.


The little gnome tried very hard not to say anything but failed, and finally gave in.

“No.. Yes.. Why?”


“Because I saw the hurt in your eyes every time some idiot did.. and asking about it one more time just to have satisfied a passing show of interest at the cost of more pain to you, was not acceptable for me. You don’t do that to your pair. And to be totally honest about it, I only felt indifferent to your uncle. He meant absolutely little to nothing for me. Neither did your kinship to him.

I acknowledged that kinship, it’s unavoidable existence and how it related to you, not because of him or his deeds, but because of what those deeds cost you and did to you. I never saw him as a great researcher, nor a loser. I saw him as a reckless megalomaniac who gave no regard to the possible outcome of his actions and what those actions might entail.. It is possible, though not acceptable, for someone to be careless with the lives of some far, faceless strangers. But knowing you have a family and still doing what he did it is simple baseline lunacy! If I so desperately wanted to know about him, I still wouldn’t have tormented you, I would have just gone to the academy library, seeing as how there is a whole section dedicated to his idiocy..

Just like the things you despise me for having but I could do nothing about, you could do nothing about your connection to him either.. But you know what hurts me as much as you being kin to Arcanton do you? Your deliberate indifference to the things you say to your pair!


You don’t get to be snippy with me all the time. Nor to burn me because you think I supply you with an outlet of convenience. You don’t do that to a pair. I am sorry I fall short of your standards or your expectations all the time. I try very hard not to. I really do.. But your expectations are not some high standards for perfection. They are a mere excuse for your private misery. I can’t meet those standards because deep down, you and I both know, they are not there to overcome, but they are there to stay. It is your inner, impregnable castle where people around you must bash their heads to get through, but never will. You know why? Because you can’t break a wall by bashing it with heads, no matter how many of them you throw at it. And by some remarkable off chance that you did, the wall is now ‘broken’ and the castle has likely been raided.. and left behind. Abandoned without its dignity or soul.

You have to lower your bridge and let me in..


‘Wow..’, thought Tonic, grudgingly. There was no way in hell she could ever make a speech like that and on the spot. Her best would have had nothing but lots of cussing and grunting!

And here was her idiot of a pair, one-half naked, the other half in pinks, had just given her the analytic run down of all her base issues..


“And I am also sorry your.. whatever this thing is, doesn’t work. “

“It works..”, said the little gnome in a surly tone, trying very, very hard to ignore all the things the tall, dark figure just said.


To be totally honest with herself, the little gnome was expecting a speech of this sort for quite some time now and thought it was long overdue.

By one and a half years..

The silly girl standing in the dim candlelight in front of her had a remarkable resilience for her plaguing misery and patience to rival the arctic night winds howling outside; it took hundreds of years for those winds to wear down an inch of a mountain..

Yet, they did it anyway..

A bit like this very tall, very dark figure.

But what hit the little gnome harder than a six-horse cart was the deep, mind wracking content of the speech.

And how it had been served.

What she expected was lots of yelling and moaning, along with some arm-waving, possibly some tears and hopefully, an extended duel of ‘you did, I did’s..

But not this.


This, she did not expect.. all.


“Ow?”, the tall figure asked, her face drawn and strained.

“It grabbed your butt..!”, the gnome said grudgingly.

“Nothing new there. Everyone wants to grab it. This one just happened to be the lucky catcher.”, the tall figure said with the hint of a smile.

“What is this thing supposed to be anyway?”


“Mecha- whot?”

“Mechaber. Short for Mechanical Bear.”

“It doesn’t look anything like a bear.”

“How would you know?”

“Animology class at the academy zoo..”

“You took animology?”, the little figure scoffed in total disbelief.

“Among many other things, yes.. Why? Is that so hard to believe?”

“What’s hard to believe is that you went to animology for the class and not for the pretty face that gave it..”

“Why do one, when you could do both? I am surprised you noticed the pretty face, though —any pretty face, really, considering you never took the class and you can’t even stand mine.. The fact, however, remains; I took animology at the academy zoo and this thing looks nothing even remotely like a bear.. Not even a Grudran bear, which technically isn’t a bear, but an acceptable sub specie of the bugbear. I also know all the classes you took.. and your grades!”

The little figure’s face darkened.

Alright, it did, in fact, look nothing ‘even remotely’ like a bear, but she was going to call him ‘Mechaber‘ anyway, damit!

And she silently conceded that perhaps she should quit blaming and chewing out her pair for everything.. or anything, for that matter.

Hells bells, the silly idiot had taken the time and effort to get to know her, going as far as asking around to find out about the classes she took along with her grades. Especially the grades.. Those were confidential information. The academy staff wouldn’t have just handed those to her.

Considering how no one wanted to talk about ‘that demon summoning fool’s niece’, it must have taken her quite some effort, and no small amount of charm on her part to get people to want to talk about her..

What kind of a demented sort of person does that?


The competent counterpart of the ‘pair’..



Whatever else her very tall, very dark pair might be, one thing was clear; she was no fool, and she was no one’s fool.

And she certainly had an unexpected amount of steel in her..

The little gnome felt like she was one of those jerks who took the frustrations of work out of their wives and kids..


..and quite suddenly, and in spite of herself, a hint of shame appeared in her eyes, hidden behind the thick goggles.



You literally can’t add any more flaws on top of what’s already there, that’s worth worrying over.


Perhaps you think I am bitter.



*Sigh*  I hate this shit..


(continued in the next story: “A Shift in Perspective“)








Sim Town. Büyük Arashkan Şehrinden önceki son durak. Kahramanlar, yolda yaşadıkları zorluklardan sonra Sim Town’a ulaşmayı başarır. Ellerindeki fazlalıkları satıp, ihtiyaç duydukları başka şeyleri almak için fırsatları olur ve biriktirdikleri paraları harcama zamanı geldiğinde bazen ne yapacaklarını bilemezler.

Bu hikaye, geçen kısa konuşmaları ve farkında olmadan yaşanan başka olayları anlatır.



İki taş binanın arasındaki loş ve daha çok bir koridoru andıran dar sokakta durmuş, rahat pozisyonda kollarını birbirine bağlamış, yaslandığı duvardan gelip geçenleri seyreden adamın gözleri kısılır..

“İlginç..”, diye mırıldanır kendi kendine.

Kalabalığın ortasından, belli ki kalabalıklara çok da alışkın olmayan ve karma ırklardan oluşan bir grup geçmektedir. Grup, atlarından inmiş, bineklerini yanlarında yürütmektedir.

Önden giden genç alımlı kız hayatının çoğunu vahşi doğa ile iç içe geçirdiği bellidir zira farkında olmadan sağına soluna bakıp, arada bir havayı koklayışından bu açıkça görülmektedir. Bir şehir ya da kasabada herkes sağına soluna bakınabilir ama kimse havayı koklamaz!

Onun hemen ardından gelen iri adam, ayaklı bir cephanelik gibidir. Şayet bu adam bir tüccar için mal taşımıyorsa, kesinlikle bir savaşçıdır ve bariz bir şekilde kavga aramaktadır.

Savaşçının yanında, onun ancak omuzuna yetişebilen, zarif kıyafetler içerisine, rahat ama tedbirli adımlarla yürüyen bir kız mevcuttur. Loşta duran adam, başına çektiği kukuleta ve göz hizasından itibaren yüzünü kalın bir peçeyle örtmüş olmasından dolayı kızın yüzünü göremez ama kızın yürürken sergilediği doğal zarafet, onun gözünden kaçmaz.

İkilinin arkasından, bulunduğu yerde ancak koşulların zorunluluğu dolayısıyla orada olduğu izlenimini veren bir başka kadın yürümektedir. Kadın, önünden giden iri adamdan bile uzun boyludur ancak kasılmış yürüyüşünden, ince yapısından, kendi peçesinin ardından görünen, hafif çekik yeşil gözleri ve kukuletasından kurtulmuş platin sarı saçlarından, bu kadının bir high elf olduğunu anlamak çok da zor değildir.. ve büyük ihtimalle de kendisi High Woods soylularındandır.

Onun arkasından, kaşları çatılı yürüyen, zırhlı bir dişi dwarf ve esen hafif rüzgarda salınan bal rengi saçlarıyla yüzünde uyurgezer bir ifadeyle yürüyen, hem uhrevi, hemde aynı zaman da çocuksu bir güzelliğe sahip bir kız mevcuttur.

Bu ikilinin ardından gelen çift ise birbirine ancak siyah – beyaz kadar zıt olabilirlerdi; adam karalara bürünmüş, bir kedi gibi temkinli ama bir kaplan kadar emin adımlarla yürümektedir. Loşta duran adam içinden küfreder zira karalar içindeki adamın bir kesici olduğundan emindir. Kesicinin koluna sımsıkı yapışmış sıska kızın boyunun, yapıştığı adamın sadece çenesine kadar yetişiyor olması, kızın bulunduğu ortamdan açıkça korktuğunu vurgulamaktadır. Kalabalığın içinde yürümüyor olsalar, kız muhtemelen gözlerini sımsıkı kapatır ve taşlaşmış bir şekilde olduğu yerde kala kalırdı.. hepsinin arkasından gelen, iğreti bir şekilde sallanan at arabasının süren, ince kesim sakallı, yaşı ilerlemiş bir gnome..

Loşdaki adam bir anda yaslandığı duvardan irkilerek doğrulur. Kesiciye savurduğu küfrü aratacak, ardarda bir dizi hakaret sıralayarak engin belagat kapasitesi sergiler. Yarı heyecan, yarı panik içerisinde, az önce önünde durduğu karanlık, dar sokakta kaybolur..


✱ ✱ ✱


Aager, temkinli ve kesici bakışlarıyla etrafını seyrederken, bir yandan koluna tutunmuş kıza kimsenin çarpmaması için, farkındasız bir dans ile onu yönlendirmektedir. Arkadan gelen Gnine’ın, büründüğü amcası Efendi Tinkerdome kılığı ile etrafa ‘merhaba’lar saçarak arabasını sürmesini fena halde iç gıcıklayıcı bulsa da buna sesini çıkarmaz —en azından şimdilik.

Arashkan’a varmadan önce, Sim Town’da en az bir gece geçirecekleri için, kalabilecekleri makul bir han ararken birçok tüccarın önünden geçmişler ve kasabanın biraz daha zengin bölgesine yaklaşırken Aager’in gözüne duvarda asılı, üzerlerinde WANTED ibaresi taşıyan bir dizi poster ilişir ve krallıkta kelle avcısı sistemi olduğunu hatırlar. Aager, Drashan’dan gelmiştir ve orada ‘wanted posteri’ hiç görmemiştir; Drashan’da herkes wanted’dır!

Keskin bakışlarını posterlerin üzerinden geçirirken, istemsizce gözleri birine takılır ve Aager, çok kısa bir anlığına irkilir..

“Nooldu?”, diye bir fısıltı gelir hemen yanından.

Aager istifini bozmamaya çalışır. “Yok bir şey. Sadece burası benim hoşuma gidebileceğinden daha kalabalık. İnsan böyle bir yere gelince, Serenity Home’un kıymetini daha iyi anlıyor.”

“Sana bir şey olmasına izin vermem.”, der aynı fısıltı.

Aager durur.

Başını, koluna kenetlenmiş kıza çevirir.

Kız başını adamın koluna gömmüş, etrafına bile bakamazken, yine de bu sözü söylemiş olması, Aager’in zihninde bir şimşek gibi çakar.. Hayret içerisinde başını sallar ve yürümeye devam eder.


✱ ✱ ✱


Grup, ellerinde kalan fazla malzemeleri, silahları, zırhları ve yolda buldukları mücevher ve değerli taşları ellerinden çıkarmak ve aylar önce öldürdükleri Oger Prinsh Cabot’un kellesini ‘bozdurmak’ için Gnine, Laila ve Udoorin’i gönderirken, geri kalanlar buldukları temiz bir hana yerleşirler.

Döndüklerinde Gnine, elinde tuttuğu kalın bir parşömeni, kendisine yeni bir oyuncak alınmış çocuk heyecanı ile bir köşeye çekilmiş okuyup incelemektedir.

Laila ise somurtmuş, ok fiyatlarının ne kadar yüksek olduğu ile ilgili homurdanmaktadır.

Lady, satılan ve bozdurulan eşya, mücevherat ve kelleden elde edilen paraları bölüştürüp herkese dağıtır, sonra da “Eveeet. Laila’ya yeni büyülü oklar alınması gerek ve bunu onun üstüne yıkmayı pek de adilce görmüyorum zira oklar kalıcı değiller ve onları bizi korumak için harcıyor.. Herkes 450’şer altın çıkarsa, bir sadak dolusu iki parıltılı ok alabiliriz.”

Anglenna dışında herkes, gıkını çıkarmadan dağıtılan paraların kendilerine düşen payından, Laila’ya birazını verir. Anglenna kendisini olaya dahil etmez. Inshala ise Lorna’nın yanında, onunla fısıltılı bir şekilde hızlıca bir şeyler konuşmaktadır. Neden sonra Lorna, Inshala’ya gülümser, cana yakın bir şekilde ona sarılır ve ona bir kese uzatır.

Inshala, çekingen bir şekilde Laila’ya yanaşır.

“Abla bunu da al. Bir sadak sana yetmez ki..”, der mahcup olmuş bir şekilde ve Laila’ya, Lorna’dan ödünç aldığı paraya, kendi payına düşen paranın tamamını katarak uzatır.

Laila hayret içerisinde Inshala’ya bakar, ona gülümserken “Ay.. Canım benim yaaa.”, der duygulanmış bir şekilde ve ona sarılır.

Mutlu bir şekilde Laila, iki sadak büyülü oklarını almak için handan ayrılır. Aager’de uzun zamandır aradığı bir şey için çıkacakken, Inshala ona yaklaşır.

“Beni de götür..”, diye fısıldar. “Bunu bizim için alacağız. Beni de götür.”

“İstediğin yere gelebilirsin. Bunun için izin almana gerek yok.”, der Aager.

“İzin istemiyorum. Beni de götürmeni istiyorum.”, diye konuşur Inshala kısık sesle.


✱ ✱ ✱


Tam size göre.”, der yaşını biraz geçmiş tacir, Aager ve Inshala’ya, masaya koyduğu iki taşı göstererek. Taşlar koyu yeşil ve doğal desenlere sahip olmalarına rağmen, hayattaymış ve nefes alıyormuş gibidirler.

Aager taşlara sadece kapasiteleri dolayısıyla ederleri gözüyle bakarken, Inshala ise onlara eriyerek bakar. Pırıl pırıl parlayan gözlerle taşlara dokunmamak için ciddi bir sınav verirken, çocuksu bir heyecanla “Çok şirinler..”, diyebilir ancak.

Tacir, iki zıt insana bakar ve gülümser. “Bunlar kaliteli ürünler ve marifetlerini değerlendirirken, mesafe sınırları olmadığını da hatırlatmak isterim. Günlük kullanımları sınırlı olsa da mesafe sorunu olmayışlarından dolayı fiyatları hiç düşmüyor. Ama küçük kızımızı pek sevdim. Bu yüzden sizlere iki şey daha sunmak isterim.”, der ve dönüp arkasındaki raflardan küçük, eski ve yıpranmış bir sandık alır. Sandığı taşların olduğu masaya yerleştirir ve açar.

Tacir bir süre sandığın içindekileri değerlendirir, sonra içinden iki parşömen çıkartıp onları da masaya, taşların yanına koyar.

“Gerçekte bunları bugüne kadar satmayı hiç düşünmemiştim. Ancak görüyorum ki güzel kızımız bunları değerlendirebilir. Bu..”, der ve oldukça eski, yıpranmış olan parşömenlerden bir tanesine işaret eder, “..Spell Berries büyüsü. Diğeri ise Bestow diye bir büyü. İkisini de standart büyü kitaplarında bulamazsınız. Bunları para karşılığı çoğaltıp satmayacağınıza söz verirseniz, taşlarla beraber 3800 altına size bırakabilirim..”

Adam, Aager’in kararsız halini görünce, “Şimdi almanıza gerek yok. Gidip üzerinde biraz düşünün.”, diye ekler.

“Teşekkür ederiz Efendi Tacir. Size mutlaka geri döneceğiz.”, der Aager ve Inshala ile birlikte hana geri dönerler.


✱ ✱ ✱


Sim Town en sonunda sessizliğe bürünmüştür.

Serenity Home’un aksine bu kasaba, güneş battıktan çok sonra işi bırakmış, ama bu sefer de eğlentiye gitmiştir. Hanlar ve salonlar, gecenin ölü saatlerine kadar müşteriler, çalgıcılar, dansözler ve gösterilerle çalkalanmaya devam etmiş, gün doğumuna ancak birkaç saat kala takati tamamen bitmişçesine birden bire sessizliğe bürünmüştür.




..diye bir fısıltı duyulur. Sesin sahibi bir süre bekler ancak herhangi bir tepki alamayınca bu sefer,


..diye tıslar sabırsızlıkla.

Kapı açılır ve arkasında Aager belirir. Daha tam olarak giyinme fırsatı bulamamış olmasından dolayı adamın deri zırhı üstünde yoktur. Genelde olduğu gibi başı ve yüzü de örtülü değildir. Saçları biraz dağınık, gömleğini de ilikleme fırsatı olmamıştır.

Kapının önünde duran kız bir an dona kalır zira bu adamı hiç bu şekilde görmemiştir. Ne diyeceğini bilemez ve yüzü kızarmış bir şekilde öylece alık alık bakar Aager’e.

Aager kırık bir gülümsemeyle bakar kıza. “Sanırım bir şey söylemek için gelmiştin. Bu saatte, fısıldayarak beni çağırışından, bunu başkalarıyla paylaşmak istemediğini anlıyorum. Belki bir yürüyüşe çıkmak istersin?”, diye kendisi de kısık sesle konuşarak kıza olası bir çıkış yolu gösterir.

“Yaraların..”, diye tökezler Inshala. “Bi çok yaraların var. Bunları bizimleyken almadın. Alsaydın bilirdim!”, der dehşet içerisinde.

“Hayır. Bunlar Serenity Home öncesinden kalma. Bir aptalı, üstündeki yaralarından anlayabilirsin.”, der Aager, acı bir şekilde gülümseyerek.

“O zaman.. o zaman beraber aptal olalım..!”, der Inshala.


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Aager ve Inshala, Sim Town’dan sessizce ayrılır.

Uzun bir süre sükunet içerisinde gecenin derinliğinde yürürler ve High Woods’un belki de en dış doğu hudutlarına ulaşırlar zira ancak bu ormana özgü elf çamlarına rastlarlar.

Inshala yorulmuş gibi durur. Sadece yürümüş olmalarına rağmen, kız nefes nefese kalmıştır. Nefesini biraz geri alabildiğinde, kendi etrafında bir daire çizerek kısa, şarkı gibi bir şey mırıldanır, sonra eğilip odun toplamaya başlayınca Aager onun elinden odunları alır ve onu sırtından çıkarıp yere serdiği pelerininin üzerine nazikçe oturtur. “Ben toplarım”, der kıza fısıltıyla ve doğrulup sabaha yetecek kadar kırık dal ve eğlencesine, bir kaç tane de çam kozalağı getirir.

Kız hafif bir el hareketi yapar ve Aager’in toplayıp taşlarla çevrelediği dallar bir anda yanmaya başlar.

“Demek burası High Woods ve meşhur Bari Na-ammen de bu ormanda bir yerlerde.. Güzel yer. Lorna ve sarı kafa buradan demek..”, diye beklenmedik bir şekilde konuşmaya başlar Aager.

.. ve bu kısa cümlesiyle manzara konusunu tamamlamış olduğunu düşünür, hava durumunu es geçer ve alakasız bir başka konuya sıçrar.

“Bence alalım..”

Kızın konuşmak istediği şey her ne ise, kendisi bir konuya girerse, sözün eninde sonunda o noktaya varacağını düşünür.

“Eminim borç alabiliriz birilerinden.”

Inshala sessizce ateşe bakar ve ateşin içinde kendisini kaybetmiş gibidir.

“Udoorin. Onu ikna etmek çok da zor olmayacaktır. Şayet geçmişin acısını bir anda çıkarmak istemezse tabii..”, diye devam eder Aager.

“Ya da Lady. Eminim önce bana ‘Bunu akıllı bir şeylerde kullanacaksın değil mi?!’, diye imalı uyarılarda bulunacaktır. Merisoul’dan da isteyebiliriz. Onun parayla ilgilendiğini düşünemiyorum. Ama bizimle pazarlık yapmaya kalkar. Ona borçlanmak istediğimi hiç sanmıyorum. Karşılığında bizden neler isteyebileceğini bilmek bile istemiyorum. Sen ne düşünüyorsun?”, diye sorar Aager ama cevabını beklemeden devam eder. “Bence uyurken, sarı kafadan aşırabiliriz.”, Anglenna’yı kastederek. “Sonra geri yerine koyarız. Eminim ruhu bile duymaz.”


Aager farkındadır.

Hayatında asla, AMA ASLA yapmadığı bir şeyi yapmaktadır; gevezelik!

Beklediği gibi bunu utanç verici bulur.

Ama ilginç bir şekilde yanında Inshala olunca, bu ona hafiften eğlendirici de gelmektedir.

Aslına bakılırsa yanında Inshala olduğunda kendisini olduğunu hissettiği yaşta değil, gerçekte olduğu, yirmi dört yaşındaki genç gibi hissetmektedir ve bu kendisi için biraz kafa karıştırıcı olmakla beraber yepyeni ve..

..mutlu bir tecrübedir..


Yanında sessizce oturmuş ateşi seyreden kız dayanamaz ve istemsizce ‘fırk’lar.

Aager gülümser, zira kız korkudan ve korku beklentisinden dolayı günlerdir hiç gülmemiş ve git gide kötürüm bir hale dönüşmektedir.

“Mab’i bilir misin?”, diye sorar Inshala, Aager’e bir anda.

Aager kaşlarını çatar. Bu ismi sanki bir yerlerden duymuş gibidir. Ya da duymuş olması gerektiğini düşünür..

Sessiz kalma sırası kendisine geçmiş gibi, susar ve kızın açılmasını bekler.

Uzun bir süre sadece ateşin ve içinde patırdayan kozalakların neşeli sesleri duyulur.

Neden sonra Inshala tekrar konuşur ama sesini alçaltmıştır. “Mab. Havanın ve Karanlığın Kraliçesi, Kışın Hanımefendisi ve.. Themalsar’ın günahlarını o topraklardan temizlemek için pazarlık yaptığım kişi.. Güç karşılığında ‘En sevdiğim üç şeyden ikisi’.”, der Inshala, sesi daha da kısılmış bir şekilde.

“Çok iyi biri değil gibi sanki.”, der Aager sessizce.

Aager kendisine böyle bir teklifle gelinse ne yapar bilemez zira onun için ortada ‘en sevdiği üç şey’ yoktur.. Sadece iki şey düşünebilir; biri yıllar önce kaybettiği kız kardeşi, diğeri ise yanındadır ve birisi onu pazarlık konusu yapmaya kalkması halinde, kan dökülüp dökülmeyeceği değil, ne kadar kan döküleceği söz konusudur sadece.

Aager’in, dökülecek kanın olabildiğince çok olmasından hiçbir ödün vermek gibi bir niyeti de yoktur.

“Değil zaten..”, der Inshala ama sonra bunu biraz düzeltir. “Aslında Mab, iyi veya kötü ile tarif edilebilecek biri değil. Kışın kendisi gibi. İyi de değil, ama gerçekte kötü de değil.. Gerekli..”

“Ondan bahsetmenin bir sebebi olmalı.”, der Aager.

“Bu gece rüyama geldi. Kedimi ve ayımı, pazarlığın bir parçası olarak verdiğimde, olduğum druid halkasını da bırakmak zorunda kaldım.. ve hep merak ettiğim Rüya Halkasını seçtim kendime. Rüya aleminde dolaşabiliyorum bazen. Mab’le de ilk karşılaşmam orada olmuştu.”

“Mab sana geldiyse, senden bir şey istiyor olmalı..”, der Aager temkin ederek.

“Bana.. bana bir büyü verebileceğini söyledi. Dünyada pek az kişinin bildiği, çoğunun da unuttuğu bir büyü.. Bize yarayabilecek bir büyü bu. Taşlara pek gerek duydurtmayacak bir büyü. Efendi Tacir’in gösterdiği papirüsleri yine de alalım ama onları çok farklı şekillerde de değerlendirebiliriz.”, der Inshala.

“Mab’i doğru anladıysam, karşılıksız iyilik yapan biri gibi gelmedi bana. Ne istedi senden?”, diye tedirgin olmuş bir şekilde sorar Aager zira kızın kendisinden daha fazla feda edebileceği bir şeyi kaldığını düşünemez, düşünmek de istemez. Kızın başka bir şeyini feda etmesini de istemez.

“Lütuf. Büyü karşılığında benden bir lütuf istedi ama bu lütfun ne olduğunu söylemedi.”, der Inshala kaşlarını hafif çatarak.

“Peki, vereceği büyü nedir tam olarak?”

Bize bir Gemini büyüsü verecek. Yapıldığında, iki kişinin düşüncelerini birbirine bağlar bu büyü. Bu şekilde, birbirimizle devamlı konuşabileceğiz. Birimize faydalı bir büyü yapıldığında, bundan diğeri de yararlanabilecek. Birimizin tattığını, diğeri de tadacak. Birimizin aldığı kokuyu, diğeri de duyabilecek.. ve.. birimizin hissettiğini, diğeri de hissedecek.”, diye açıklar Inshala sessizce. Sonra başını eğer ve oturduğu yerde küçük bir topak haline gelir.

Bunu kabul edersem, ona.. Mab’e bir lütuf borçlu olacağım ve sen de benim bütün korkularımın acısını yüklenmek zorunda kalacaksın.. korkularımın, deliliğimin ve cinnetimin!”, der kız anca duyulur bir sesle.

Bunu kabul edersem ve gün gelir ben düşersem, sen de düşeceksin.. Sen düşersen de ben düşeceğim. Ben.. ben buna razıyım zira kimsenin istemediği birisini istemiş birisi öldüğünde, geride kalmak için bir sebep göremiyorum!”

Aager yutkunur.. ve gözleri dolar.

Aager en son ne zaman gözlerinin dolduğunu hatırlamaz. Hayatının en düşük noktalarında bile bunu yaşamamıştır.

“In.. Inshala.. lütfen. Böyle.. böyle düşünmemelisin..”, der zorlukla tutunduğu sükunetiyle.

Inshala, topak olduğu yerden sessizce, ama kararlı bir sesle konuşur..


Seni, senin geçmişin ve tercihlerin yaptı. Beni de benim geçmişim ve tercihlerim yaptı. Hayatım boyunca, görüldüğüm yerde taşlandım ve kovalandım. Üzerime köpekler salındı. Yakalandığımda dövüldüm ve yolundum.. Buna rağmen, bunu yapanlara hışmetmedim. Onları avlamadım. Yapabilecekken, yine de tepelerine yıldırımlarımı indirmedim. Ama yoruldum ve artık bunlara gösterebilecek takatim de kalmadı.

Hayatımda sevildiğimi bana hissettiren tek kişi efendimdi. Sonra sizlerle karşılaştım. Beni sevdiniz. Bana saygı gösterdiniz. Ama en önemlisi, bana anlayış ve müsamaha gösterdiniz.. Bundan dolayı Lady’ye, Laila’ya, Lorna’ya, Moira’ya, Merisoul’a, hatta Bremorel, Gnine ve Udoorin’e müteşekkirim..

Ama bana güzel olduğumu hissettiren, bir ucube olmadığımı düşündüren tek kişi sen oldun, Aager Fogstep.

Ben ölmek isterken, günlerce bana baktın. Halbuki sana hiçbir vaatte bulunmamıştım bile. Şimdi o vaadin zamanı geldi, zira yaşamak için sebebim yokken bana, beni bir sebep olarak gösterdin.

Aager yine yutkunur. Gerçekte ne diyeceğini bilemez. Bildiği ve hissettiği tek şey, yanında topak halinde oturmuş bu kızın, hayatında belki de asla sahip olamayacağı kadar derin bir bilgeliğe, öz veriye ve farkındasız bir sevgiye sahip olduğudur.

“Sen..”, der hayret içerisinde Aager. “Sen.. muhteşemsin, Inshala.. ve insanlık seni hak etmiyor.. Ve seninleyken aptal olmak beni mutlu ediyor!”

Inshala, başını kaldırır ve yanında oturan ürkütücü adama bakar. Fırtına grisi gözlerinde, yanan kamp ateşi oynaşmaktadır. Ama oynaşan tek ateş bu değildir sanki. Kız, alt dudağını ısırır ve Aager’e fısıldar. “Benimle, benim cinnetimi paylaşmak ister misin?, diye sorar ona.

“Seninle, her cinneti paylaşırım.. Tek.. tek korkum, senin, benim cinnetimde kaybolduğunu görmek.. Ben.. ben o kadar da iyi bir insan değilim. Geçmişimde çok kötü şeyler yaptım.. ve gelecekte de muhtemelen çok kötü şeyler yapmam gerekecek..”, diye fısıldar kendisine bakan fırtınaya.

“Ben de o kadar iyi bir insan değilim.. Ben.. ben bir insan bile değilim..!”

Aager son bir defa daha yutkunur, gözlerini sımsıkı kapatır ve sıktığı gözlerinin kenarlarından sızan yaşları elinin tersiyle silmek için uzanır ama başka, kendisininkinden çok daha küçük, yumuşak ve sıcacık bir el ondan önce davranır.

Inshala sessizce Aager’in gözyaşlarını siler..

“Beraber aptal olalım..”, der Inshala.

“Beraber aptal olalım.”, diye onaylar Aager.


✱ ✱ ✱


Inshala sessiz bir şekilde Aager’in yanında yürümektedir. Gün doğmaya yakındır ve ikisi de uzun geri dönüşü bitirmiş, Sim Town’un boş, loş ve sessiz sokaklarında benzer bir sessizlik içerisinde hana doğru yürümektedirler.

Bir önceki gün önünden geçtikleri WANTED posterlerinin asılı olduğu yere gelince Aager durur.

Aager durunca, Inshala’da hiç adım sektirmeden onun yanında durur. Yumuşak sesiyle “Bunlardan bir tanesini tanıdın..”, der.

Aager içinden gülümser. Bu kızla gerçek anlamda tanışması üzerine geçen kısacık sürede kendisini birçok açıdan ne kadar iyi tanıdığına hayret eder.

Sanki onun aklını okumuş gibi, “Özür dilerim. Böyle pat diye söylememeliydim. Bremorel abla bunu ‘hafif kaçık’ bulsa da, seni uzun zaman izledim.”, der Inshala sessizce ve mahcup olmuş bir şekilde.

“Bremorel herkese ‘hafif kaçık’ gözüyle bakar. Sen, sensin ve tarif edilemezsin.”, der Aager yanında duran kıza. Sonra tekrar posterlere döner. “Aslında üçünü tanıdım. İkisiyle de karşılaştım.”


“Bara’baras Kördog.”, der Aager ve derin bir nefes alırken en baştaki postere işaret eder. “Drashan.. benim geldiğim yer.. Bundan sorulur. O sefil ada ve korsanlarının başı budur.. Bara’baras Kördog..  Acımasız, korkunç bir adamdır.. ve beni uyandırdığında üstümde gördüğün yaralardan da o sorumludur.”

Inshala sessizce Aager’in koluna girer. “Belki işimiz bitince onu görmeye gitmeliyiz.. Ve sana yaptıklarının hesabını sormalıyız.”, diye fısıldar ama sesinde beklenmedik bir hışım ve hırıltı vardır.

Aager o hırıltıyı çok iyi hatırlar. Başını sallar ve Kördog’a acıklı bir ifadeyle bakar.


“Gar Thalot.. Bunu bilmiyorum. 35,000 altın.. Birilerini fena kızdırmış olmalı.. Arashkan’da görülmüş en son. Toplumsal huzursuzluk ve ayaklanmaya sebep olmaktan aranıyormuş.. Böylesi yüksek bir ödül konmuş başına ve kimseyi öldürmemiş. Kimseden de bir şey çalmamış.. İlginç..”, diye mırıldanır Aager.


“Arcanton Mordanon. Ölmüş ama afişi hala asılı. Belli ki çok insanın nefretini toplamış. Bunu da ancak bir gnome becerebilirdi.. Bunu alıp Gnine’a vermeliyiz bence. Sanırım mesajı anlayacaktır.”, der Aager. Sonra “Tam olarak ne yaptığını hatırlamıyorum. İblislerle alakalı bazı deneyler yapmıştı galiba.. En sonunda, yanlış hatırlamıyorsam Nadine bişey adındaki bi sorceress onu yok etmişti..”, diye ekler düşünceli bir şekilde.

Inshala bir anda heyecanlanır ve keskin bir fısıltıyla ünler, “GRACIOUSWARD.. NADINE GRACIOUSWARD.. LORNA’NIN ANNESİ BU! ALOR’NADIEN NE.. Bu yüzden adı bu. ‘Nadine’nin Cazibesi’.. Wow..!”

Aager’in de iki kaşı bir anda kalkar. Bu bilgiyi kendisi de hayal meyal hatırlar, ancak bu kadar canlı ve etraflarındaki dünya ile etkileşimli bir şekilde hatırlatılması onu da etkilemiştir.

Aager bir elini ağzına götürür ve manalı bir şekilde öksürür. “Lorna’yı, annesi Nadine Graciousward’dan isteyeceğini anladığında Udoorin’in yüzünü görmemiz lazım.”, diye sırıtır.

Bunu duyan Inshala’da kıkırdar.


“Kaptan Ermenos Cur”, der Aager, bir diğer posteri göstererek. “Gerçek adı ‘Cur’ değildi ve Endless Watch filosunun tanınmış kaptanlarındandı. Drashan korsanlarıyla yaptıkları bir deniz savaşında, kazanmak üzere olmalarına rağmen kendi filosunu arkadan vurdu ve bir hain olarak taraf değiştirince ona bu adı verdiler; Cur, Sokak Köpeği! Acımasız, şerefsiz ve hain.. Tam Drashan’lık bir köpek.”


Aager son posteri gösterir. “Bu.. bunun nece olduğunu bilmiyorum ama 150,000 altın.. Birileri resmin üstünü karalamış.. KANLA! Biraz dramatik olmuş sanki..”, diye mırıldanır.

Düşünceli bir şekilde “Bu elfçe değil. Dwarfça da değil. Orkça gibi de gelmedi bana ama onların alfabeleri dwarfça’ya biraz benziyor. Dwarfça’dan alıntı olduğunu düşünürsek.”, diye alt dudağını kaşır Aager.

Inshala ise büyülenmiş gibi bu postere bakar. Neden sonra “Bunda tanıdık bir şey var.”, der. “Ne olduğunu bilemiyorum ama içimde içsel bir çekim hissediyorum..”

Bunu duyan Aager biraz huzursuz olur ve afiş olayını kapatıp hana dönme zamanının geldiğini düşünür. Yanında duran bu kızın daha fazla incinmesini görmeye hiç niyeti yoktur. Nazikçe ona “Hadi gidelim..”, der.

Hana doğru döner ve yola koyulur ama kızın onu takip etmediğini fark edince dönüp arkasına bakar ve kızın olduğu yerde, iki yumruğunu beline koymuş kendisine manalı bir şekilde baktığını görür.

“Bir tanesini atladın!”, der Inshala ona kati bir sesle.

Aager içinden haşin bir küfür savurur. Atladığı posteri, kızın fark etmeyeceğini çok ummuş olması, bunu gerçek kılmamıştır. Ağır adımlarla kızın yanına gelir.


“Özür dilerim.”, der Aager kıza samimi bir şekilde. “Onu atlamadım. Sadece hatırlamak istemedim, o kadar.”, diye söylenir.

“O.. onu seviyor muydun?”, der Inshala minik bir sesle.

Aager kıza hayretle bakar. ‘BU’ aklına hiç gelmemiştir!

“Aaaaa.. hayır, Inshala..”, der ve geçmişini anar bir an. “Themalsar’dan önce, beni öldürmeye en çok yaklaşan tek kişi buydu!”, der neden sonra.

“Yaaa..”, diye alt dudağını pörtletir Inshala.

“Evet. Drashan’nın sefil sokaklarında —ve damlarında, onunla çok defa karşılaşmışlığım oldu. O zamanlar ben Hırsızlar Loncasındaydım. O ise Kesicilerden di.. İki lonca arasında bitmek bilmeyen bir husumet vardı ve o da dahil birçok kesiciyi öldürdüm. Ama o ölmemekte diretti.. ve belli ki hala hayatta.”, der Aager.

“O.. onu sevmedin yani..”, diye içli bir şekilde sorar Inshala.

Aager ‘hıh’lar. “Onun ölüme karşı gösterdiği dirence saygı göstermedim değil. Ama aramızda ortak bir ‘birimizi öldürme’ isteğimiz dışında bir iletişim olmadı. “Ben onu defalarca bıçakladım, o da beni bir defa çizmeyi başardı —ki bu da yetti. Bir hafta ölümle cedelleştim.”, der acı bir şekilde.

Inshala bir anda mutlu olmuşçasına Aager’in eski yaralar, kesikler ve nasırlarla kaplı elini tutar.

“Belki bir gün onunla da karşılaşır ve sana yaptıklarının hesabını sorarız!”


✱ ✱ ✱


Büyük bir hışımla iner Lady, yerde baygın bir şekilde buldukları Aager ve Inshala’nın tepesine. Grubun neredeyse tamamı buradadır ve herkes hayret içerisinde yerde yatan, en olası dışı gibi görünen çifte bakmaktadır.

NE HALT YEDİNİZ SİZ!“, diye gürlerken Lady, gözlerinden sanki ateş saçmaktadır.

Yerde, kendinden geçmiş Aager, baygın haliyle Inshala’ya uzanmış, bir eliyle onun bir elini tutmuş, diğerini de onun yüzüne yastık yapmış ve bu şekilde Inshala’nın aynası gibidir zira kızın bir eli Aager’in avucundadır. Diğer elini ise önünde, kendinden geçmiş bir şekilde yatan ürkütücü adamın başının altına koymuş, onun yüzünü sert, soğuk zeminden korumaktadır..



“Sen anlat..”

..der imkansız bir mekanın,
hayret verici muhteşemliğinde bir ses.

“Lady kızınca beni korkutuyor..”


“Umm. Ben ne anlatacağımı bile bilmiyorum.
Sen anlatırsan en azından sana bir şey yapmaz!”

..diye cevap gelir aynı mekanın
uçuşan güzelliğinde.

“Nedir burası? Bu.. Burası muhteşem bir yer..!”

..diye sorar aynı ses hayret ve huşu içinde.


“Burası.. Benim!”

..der ilk duyulan ses.

“Burası benim.. cinnetim!”


Lady’nin gürlemesi o kadar büyük bir hiddet içermektedir ki, dünyevi farkındalığı deler ve iki sesi birbirine bağlayan muallak, muhteşem ve hayret verici yere kadar ulaşır..



“Burası.. Benim!” — “This place.. is me!”