The Legend of Lilith
The following is Lilith of Lasombra's story, taken in dictation by Maertisa Falmari of Nahele.
The young woman was lead across a vast empty space. Rough winds grabbed at her cloak making it whip and crack behind her. Looking up at the back of the man that lead her she shivered involuntarily. 'At least looking at his back isnt as bad as his eyes.' She mumbled scanning the horizon for sign of a destination. Bowing her head she gripped her leather satchel tighter as she trudged on.
The sudden stop caused her to run into the man in front of her, she must have fallen asleep walking. Blinking owlishly she noticed the wind had died down and a curious light surrounded them. Stepping from behind the strange man she noticed an enormous mahogany chair, more like a throne really. Gaudy was the word that popped into her head before she quickly quashed it. A black mist curled around the base of the chair. She found herself mesmerized by the shimmering mist as it appeared to caress the chair. The mist settled into the chair and began to solidify.
Lilith looked at her servant and without a word he bowed and turned leaving them alone. 'Come closer girl.' She waved her hand indicating a small table and chair before her. 'Tell me your name again. I am afraid I was distracted when you offered your services as a biographer.' Lilith let her hand flutter a moment before resting it lightly on the arm of the chair.
'I am Maertisa Falmari Ban-draoi of Nahele.' She seemed to gain strength hearing her own name spoken in this vast wasteland.
'Ah yes one of the scholars of Arcaenum.' Lilith peered at her from under her long lashes. Her hand once again indicated the table and chair. Another servant appeared from behind Liliths chair and approached the table carrying a small silver tray laden with refreshments. The servant set the tray on the table and stood staring at Maertisa. No, staring through her was more like it. Maertisa removed her cloak resting it on the back of her chair. Resting the satchel on the table she delicately removed her parchment and quills. From a padded pouch deep inside the satchel she brought out a small crystal inkwell, its silver lid tarnished with age and wear.
Lilith watched the scholar with interest. It was like watching a ritual being performed. Lilith smiled tapping absently on an overlong incisor tooth. When Maertisa had finished preparing herself Lilith leaned forward trying to hide her eagerness.'Please, you have been traveling long. Refresh yourself.' The servant lifted the small silver pitcher, beads of condensation glimmered in the ambient light as she poured a deep maroon liquid into a red crystal goblet. 'It is a very old vintage.' Lilith grinned, an evil light in her eyes.
Maertisa looked into the eyes of the servant as she held out the goblet for her. They were empty, eyes that might have once held the light of a living woman in them now stared at nothing. Maertisa accepted the goblet and looked across it to Lilith. 'I have read a great many scrolls about the Vampire and their ways. It is said that to drink the blood of one would drive you insane or make one a zombie slave.' She looked pointedly at the woman still holding the pitcher. Lilith laughed. The deep throaty sound seemed to echo in Maertisas head.
'Indeed to sip my blood would cause you to be as Iwayne here. But be at ease scholar. Iwayne asked to sip from my veins. She wished to serve me.'
Maertisa looked at the zombie Iwayne and knew that she had indeed sought the power that Lilith promised many. Iwayne was a fool paying a fools price.
'I would not give you the elixir without your having asked to serve me. The vintage is Romany from the time before the breaking. I have the only known store.' Lilith smoothed her dress as Maertisa looked into the goblet. Maertisa took a sip. The wine seemed to burst on her tongue, reviving her tired limbs and numb heart. In it she imagined the taste of sunshine and rosemary, currant and cool earth. Lilith smiled. 'Yes, the Elves taught the technique to the Romany.' Maertisa sat and accepted the refreshments offered. Dark warm bread with honey and butter, fresh apples from Visegrad and the dark bitter tea with rich cream from the frozen lands were laid before her.
Lilith sat and watched as Maertisa took her meal. It had been a long time since she entertained a mortal she did not intend to destroy. It was even longer since she had met a mortal that did not want just a taste of her power. The young woman was in the height of her life, long hair the color of wheat delicately framed her sun darkened skin. A scholar from the Halls of Arcaenum, she was attentive, absorbing all the things around her, enjoying the flavors of the food and wine. Her face was an open page for Lilith to read. Maertisa was watching Lilith too. She took her time in eating, savoring the rich flavors and taking a little pleasure in making Lilith wait.
Dabbing at her mouth she tried to cover a frown as Iwayne cleared up the meal and carried it away. Those creatures made her nervous, more so than their mistress. Maertisa rearranged her things at the table, looking up at Lilith when she was ready. With a smile, the vampire pushed herself up from the great chair and began to pace restlessly. Maertisa wondered if she was having second thoughts about telling her story. 'Would you prefer that I ask you questions and you answer?'
'No.' Lilith paused in her pacing with her head canted to one side as if listening to something. Suddenly from the darkness a large carrion crow flew in and perched atop the chair. Lilith lightly stroked the feathers of the big bird, a dark smile on her lips.
'I have walked these lands since the Great War.' Lilith paused and looked into the eyes of the woman across the table from her. 'Do you know which war?' Maertisa shook her head taking the opportunity dip the quill to ink. 'I speak of the war between the Tyrant and the Order.' Maertisa blinked as she looked up from the papers at the creature leaning against the chair.
'Are you the oldest creature that walks?' asked Maertisa, a bit perplexed. Lilith laughed at the question. 'The Lord Marshal DeGraz is older than me. He was the first of Kiyannes children and taken from the battlefield of that Great War. I was a child at the time and the world was dark and cold. I was born the daughter of a crofter in a small town between Romany lands and the citadel of our king.' Liliths face darkened at the memories. 'I was the last of ten children. Life was hard. My father farmed the land and paid a tithing to the local lord and to the king. In the end there was little left for us. I watched my Mother and knew I would never let myself live that way.' Lilith paused moving to sit in the chair.
'I was ten summers when my womanhood blossomed and with it my sight.'
'Do you mean the ability to see the future?' Maertisas interest peaked.
'Yes. At first the future was foggy. I made many wrong interpretations of what I saw. I learned quickly how to read them and use the information to my advantage. I sought out the village wise-woman and asked to be apprenticed. She accepted me as her own child, teaching me her potions and concoctions. She taught me to read and write and the rudiments of magic.' Lilith chuckled, licking her lips. 'I was an amazingly quick study, and soon the old woman grew concerned. She started to refuse my lessons, saying that I was going too fast or I hadnt a good understanding of why certain spells were not to be used. She refused to let me study an old grimore of hers, so I killed her. Hers was the first blood on my hands. I took everything of use and then set her hovel to burning. No one saw. I continued my studies alone, in an ancient circle of oak trees. Before I was thirteen I was adept at all the magic available to me.'
'When I was old enough I went to work in the scullery of the lords estate. I did not have to work hard for very long. I used my charms and the sight to elevate my position quickly in the estate. The other women that worked the estate, including a few of my own sisters, tried all they could to shame me and pull me from my hard earned perch. Some of them paid dearly for their treachery and jealousy.' Lilith swung her foot, scuffing the stone lightly with the bottom of her silk slipper.
'So were you this lords concubine?' Maertisa played the part of the distant scholar but found she was intrigued.
'Yes that is a pretty word for it. Concubine, consort, mistress all of them are pretty names for what I was. I was showered with dresses and sparkling jewels, my only function was to see that my lord was happy and well informed in all things.'
'What about the lady of the estate? Was he unmarried then?'
'She was dying. She lay abed, wracked with fever and tormented by dark dreams. She was an unkind woman, and some said a witch, but mostly just cruel. Shortly after I arrived at the estate her condition worsened. Of course when she finally died many pointed their fingers at me.' Lilith shrugged lightly at the piercing look from Maertisa. 'I have killed many people in my long life. What would it cost me to accept responsibility for one more?' Lilith stood, crossing her arms angrily, as she turned her back on the table and the watchful eyes of the scholar.
'On the night before the lady died the lord took me to court. It was there that I was introduced to all the lords and ladies of society. It was there that I met the King.' Lilith smiled with her back still turned. 'It was not hard to capture the attentions of all the peacocks at court. And with them fluttering about the King, they had no choice but to notice me as well. Within a fortnight I was installed in my own apartments in the castle. The queen wasted no time in telling me exactly what my position was and that she would kill me herself if I thought to elevate myself in any way.' Lilith laughed but it was not a jovial sound. 'Lavished by all levels of suitors from the stable boy to the King, I thought little of my past or my future. I sought out the Kings mage, Bartolomew, and with little effort on my part, apprenticed myself to him.' Lilith licked her lips and smiled. 'He learned quickly how to please a woman in bed, and in a summer I had mastered what I had taught myself, and much of what Bartolomew had shown me. Unfortunately he had developed a hunger for me that began to interfere with the Kings passions and soon found himself hanging from the castle wall.' She chuckled, sending a shiver down Maertisas spine. 'I easily slid into the hole left behind by poor Bartolomew and became an important councilor in the affairs of the kingdom. Power is a heady brew and I found myself wanting more.'
'On the night of the queens birthday, a ball was to be held in the castle. I attended but my heart was not in it and I stood alone, standing off man after man, sending them scurrying from my sharp wit. I was ready to throttle the next man that simpered at me when a very cold hand was laid upon my own. I looked at the porcelain pale flesh stretched across a large hand, knowing in my heart that all things would change when I met this mans gaze. Fear and anger flooded through me as I tore my hand away. Without looking back I stalked from the ballroom, his rich dark laughter seemed to chase me from the room.'
Lilith turned and reached into a misty cloud that seemed to hover around her waist. Pulling a crystal goblet and silver flask from the mist she poured a bit of refreshment into the glass. Downing it like a shot of whiskey, Lilith did not savor her drink but quickly returned the items to the mist.
'It was not hard to get the name of the man that seemed to haunt me. He was the Lord DeGraz. The women of the castle gossiped fearfully about him. He was a demon lord that held sway over the king or he was Syrin reborn or a demon in thrall to the queen, but all of them agreed that he was not natural. I knew the King had nothing to do with the mysterious Lord, but I had my doubts about the queen. I found myself withdrawing from the lord- lings and suitors and barely attending the King until the next court function. As I expected, the Lord DeGraz was in attendance and he appeared to know I had been asking about him. He stood in a darkened alcove watching as the people moved and swirled away from him as water does from a rock in the stream.' Lilith smiled grimly, pausing to let Maertisa catch up in her writing. 'I decided to not run from my fate any longer. I crossed the floor, ignoring the couples parting at my approach in favor of my final goal. The whispering died as I reached the alcove. DeGraz was far from charming, and he emanated danger like heat from a fire, but he was oh so very cold, and beautiful.' Maertisa paused at the wistful tone in her voice. Lilith was far away and for a brief moment she appeared afraid.
'It seemed the Lord DeGraz had heard about me and had come to see the witch that had enthralled a kingdom. I laughed to cover my fear. Me afraid' Lilith snorted angrily but Maertisa could see the fear still in her eyes. 'I spent a moon courting and being courted by the Lord DeGraz, actually it was more like a general debriefing a spy. I learned much about DeGraz and his Crimson Rain. One night I learned the truth about DeGraz seeing just a small example of the power he wielded.' Lilith shivered violently, resting a hand on the arm of the chair for support. 'I wanted it. I researched everything I could find about the Vampire and found only faded scrolls filled with myths and histories. Nightly I asked the Lord DeGraz to take me into his service, to embrace me. Eventually, he did accept me into his service, at least partially, and for years he used my sight to aid him in his conquests. I was frustrated at every turn by his empty promises. I knew he would never embrace me but would use me up until I could see no more and lie moldering in the soil of Rhia.' She stomped her foot angrily at the memory. 'I knew DeGraz was not the only Vampire, but the product of one that was greater than he. I knew that I had to have an audience with his creator.'
'The Lord DeGraz took me to meet his benefactor after I refused to divulge information on a forthcoming battle that the Rain was to face.' Lilith smiled, quickly covering something darker in her eyes. 'Kiyanne, child of Moran and Tyrins grave mistake, was overwhelming. I knew when I looked into the darkest depths of his eyes that he had no soul, no remorse, no fear, and no pain. I knew that Kiyanne would live forever and forever be this young and this beautiful. This is what I wanted. I wanted to rule at his side for he exuded power and dark promise.' Lilith paused 'Do you need a break Maertisa?'
'What? Oh, no, I am fine.' She lifted her goblet to her lips letting the wine refresh and revive her.
'I seduced Kiyanne.' Maertisa looked up at Lilith disbelief etched into her fine features. 'I had been studying DeGraz for a long time and I knew what the Vampire was capable of. I knew that I could give Kiyanne pleasure he had never imagined. I seduced Kiyanne and became his mortal lover.' Lilith frowned 'Kiyanne loved me. He allowed me any and all indulgences except his embrace. I continued my studies in magic learning from the best in different aspects but I was not satisfied, I was growing older. Finally I left Kiyanne and DeGraz, stealing away into the night and making my way back to the King and his service.'
'Did the King take you back?' Maertisa made a new quill dipping it to the ink carefully.
'Of course, I was the most beguiling woman in the kingdom and he had been pining for me in the years that I had served Lord DeGraz. My skills in the sight were now well renowned and any man in power would want me as his witch as well as his mistress. The women of the court were less than pleased at my return and tried at every turn to make my life difficult. The Queen was the chief offender in all things, but I ignored them because they held no power and no use for me.' Lilith brushed at her dress angrily. 'It did not take long before I received a scroll from Kiyanne begging me to return. I burned the scroll and every scroll after until one night DeGraz came and took me from my room. With my arm in his cruel grip he dragged me kicking and screaming from the castle.'
'That very night in the presence of Lord DeGraz I was embraced by Kiyanne. It was glorious and horrible.' Lilith shivered.
'Do you regret your choice?' Maertisa was looking at her with open curiosity.
'No. I have seen so much. I have learned and lost more than any one hundred women. Since that moment I have never had to lie on my back for the clothes I wear or the roof over my head. Unlike my mother, I did not die while scrubbing pots, never having known the richness that life had to offer. I returned to the castle but not to the Kings bed. I became the nightmare that walked the halls.' Lilith smiled darkly.
'What was it like to die in the embrace of Kiyanne?' Lilith turned and looked deep into the eyes of the woman at her table. The Arcaenum scholar sat quietly unflinching under the glowering stare.
'It was like dying.' Lilith did not take her eyes from Maertisa as she scribbled a note in the margins of the page. Something seemed to satisfy Lilith, and she continued. 'I brought my revenge, wrapped in a black mist, seeping in under the doors of those that had wronged me by word or deed. The queen was my last best victim. I came to her many nights in a row sipping from her life slowly. She died in less than a moon, the surgeons helping her along with their leeches.' Lilith laughed and the ambient light seemed to flutter with the sound of it. 'The queen died leaving the King without an heir. He came to me that very night begging me to beget him a child. I told him I would have many children and they would live forever but none would have a father. He slapped me and screeched in my face that I had gone mad.' She paused, 'The ruler was faltering and all the little would-be kings were beginning to spring up like mushrooms in the darkness. Many others began to show themselves offering council to the King. I left with DeGraz the night a strange bard arrived, I did not stay to hear his tales or listen to his songs.' Liliths hand fluttered in the air as if waving away someone. Maertisa watched as she used her pen knife to sharpen another quill. When Lilith seemed to have regained her composure she shifted in her chair.
'Kiyanne became my lover and benefactor, he liked it when I called him husband and he was an indulgent man, he gave me all I asked for and more that I had no idea I wanted. We would lay in each others arms and talk of dreams and wishes. I learned all I could about the creature that was beside me and instead of a god I found a man, a man with weaknesses. He dreamed of living with men, mankind, as one of them. He dreamed of regaining his humanity.' Lilith snorted startling the raven. 'I spent some time in the ancient library of Tumelis.'
Maertisa looked up, her eyebrows raised in disbelief. 'Tumelis was buried under molten rock over a thousand years ago. Now its just an island covered with mutant plant life and natives.'
'Rhia changes so quickly.' Lilith laughed and for a moment Maertisa caught herself laughing too. 'That was an immense loss to scholars and mages. The Tumelians outstripped any in the arcane knowledge. Now it is all lost. In my studies I found some maps of the deserts. The largest desert was populated by the Assamite people. I told Kiyanne I wanted to see more of Rhia and I left him to his research.'
'I insinuated myself into the desert peoples lives. At first I was the hunter then I became the Dark Goddess.' Lilith threw back her head and laughed. 'That was my hearts desire. To be feared and revered as a Goddess. First a temple was built in my name and soon an entire city began to spring up. I called for my husband and he came. I told him that this is where he could live side by side with men, as a man, as their king. Together we led the Assamite slaves to build us the city of Nod. He wanted it all so much that he believed everything I told him and did not look beneath the surface at what I would not tell him.'
'Kiyanne was happily oblivious. It was in that wonderful time, I created slaves and zombies and my children, hundreds of them. I created the Blood Magicks and kept a journal with all my discoveries. I cast great spells of warding upon it, spells that made you forget what was written in it unless you held it. I wrote my history and my dreams in it. It became a grimoire of ancient knowledge and magic unequaled. Lilith growled. 'I experimented everyday with new and more powerful Blood Magicks and forgot about the problems Nod had begun to face. With the numbers inside the city walls increasing the need to feed grew greater and we ravaged the countryside, we had to forage farther to feed all the children. Kiyanne knew nothing of my childrens needs so we took to owning slaves that were used solely for food.' Maertisa grimaced as she wrote. 'They were not killed but pampered. Well fed and rested. Like a fine bottle of wine used to sip from.'
'Like cattle.' Maertisa grumbled and Lilith smoothed her dress angrily.
'We did what we had to, for in our hunger we had captured the attention of Tyrins puppets in the halls of Covenance. At the time the Covenance was a small band of clergy serving the word of Tyrin. The Assamites had begun to grow disenchanted with their Dark Goddess, and many slaves escaped. Some of the leaders upon whose backs we had built the city had now sworn to destroy all Vampires. They joined with the hunters to bring us down.' Lilith sneered and Maertisa knew she was leaving something out something important. 'Our growing need to feed drove men and survivors into their halls as well, causing their numbers to swell dangerously. Soon many of my children failed to return home. I could no longer feel them in my mind and I knew that they had been destroyed. Kiyanne began to suspect, turning his attention from his fantasies to the city around him. He was furious, but it was too late.' Lilith stood again and began to pace sending the raven cawing into the darkness.
'The Covenance had raised an army and after a long bloody war they razed the city that I had built.' Lilith slapped her hand onto the table angrily causing Maertisa to jump. 'I took the book and a single slave and ran from all that I had built. I entombed myself and slept dreaming of a few of my children that had escaped. I dreamt as they were killed and I began to forget. The book was safe in my arms as the world turned and life went on. When I dreamt no more, I found I could not abide the empty black that seemed to smother my mind. So I awoke. I was hungry and weak so after prying open the door to my crypt I stumbled into the night and fed and forgot. I forgot the book and the magicks and sought only to feed and bring pain to others for the hundreds of years I had slept' Lilith tugged at her velvet gloves before sitting down again.
'Kiyanne had been doing his own studies while I slept. Upon my return I seemed to have awakened his ire. So I sought out DeGraz once again. DeGraz was a wonderful teacher. He was deliciously cruel and surprisingly inventive. I wandered the land with him delighting in the torment of all those that would have gladly tormented me. I loved being the hunter instead of the prey and the looks on mens faces when they realized it.' She drummed her fingers on the arm of the chair. 'I forgot how many years we traveled the lands sometimes together other times alone, time meaning nothing to me any longer. One night I was seeking a bit of pleasure in a small tavern. I entered, and with my usual flourish I removed my cloak but none in the room had even noticed my entrance. A bard sat near the fire singing a jaunty little tune. A Romany bard, his hands caressing music from the strings, did not look up from his guitar, but I knew he had noticed me. I slipped into a darkened corner and watched him, enrapt as he sang his songs and told his tales.'
Maertisa looked up at the long pause. Lilith was lost in her memories an almost pleasing smile touched edges of her full lips. Maertisa thought better of disturbing her as she leaned back and sipped her wine. Lilith shook her head startling the raven perched on the back of her chair.
'I spent several nights in the town, asking about him, he was well renowned as a historian. I spent a few nights watching the Romany camp. He seemed as at home with the gypsy as he was with villagers. I wanted him. I sent my raven to DeGraz requesting his presence. When I told DeGraz what I wanted, he laughed at my weakness and my hand flew of its own accord and met his cheek squarely. It was at that moment my alliance with DeGraz had ended. He warned me that if I ever raised my hand to him again even Kiyanne would not be able to save me.' Lilith growled low in her throat as she formed the words. 'DeGraz told me what I needed to know and left me to my folly, but he did not go very far. That night I seduced the lovely Romany, arm in arm he invited me into the camp and his wagon. For three days and three nights I tried to embrace him. I used everything DeGraz had taught me in the art of torment and on the third night DeGraz came to the wagon and demanded I finish it. I did and with great pleasure I embraced the man named Bastien Nivlarien of the Romany. To my shock Bastien spit in my face and allowed himself to be led from the wagon by DeGraz.'
'Nivilarien? Nivil of Ravnos, sometimes known as Bastien?' Maertisa rubbed her eyes and stretched.
'Yes. Nivil joined DeGraz as a warrior of the Crimson Rain and as he had done for me DeGraz taught Nivil the pleasure of being one of us.
'Did you resent the fact that DeGraz had taken him away or that Nivil refused you?'
'I am finished. I have nothing more to tell, my life is an open book, if you will.' Lilith gave a grim smile. 'I am Lilith of Lasombra, mother of all vampires and creator of the Blood Magicks. Tell them that, Maertisa Falmari Ban-draoi of Nahele. I will hide in the darkness no more.' Maertisa nodded slowly as she finished her notes. She looked up to ask a few more questions that were nagging her but the chair was empty, the black mist dispersing into the ground at its feet.
She then gathered her things and allowed herself to be led from that barren place her guide had called the Realm of the Dead.
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