Of all the Unidine, there are those of us that “became” first. The ancients. Those born before a time that most of us can remember. From what we’ve been told, the first of them awoke about 200 years after the God’s war. Watch one of them closely the next time they speak about that time. When they speak of it, look at their eyes. You can see them go to some dark, faraway place. Like the memories are so terrible that they threaten take them back for daring to revisit them. If I could still feel the cold, I’d swear it’d send a shiver down my spine. They awoke with no memories of their former lives or events. Not even aware of the cataclysmic war that made them. Terrified by their own appearance, and plagued by an unnatural hunger we all know all too well, they lived like animals in the wastes, what you call the blood fields. Scattered and solitary, they quickly learned that leaving the wastes meant almost certain destruction. The living either fled in terror, or attacked them on sight. Good to know some things don’t change eh? What was even worse though, worse to them, was leaving the wastes, and falling prey to the hunger. See, even back then, even not knowing who they were, the ancients still had enough of themselves locked away somewhere to be terrified of the hunger. They knew it was wrong. They didn’t even know about the fallen or lost ones, but still knew to fight that monster hiding inside em. And as time passed, those ancients best at keepin that monster under lock and key, those that hadn’t already gone completely mad from waking up to find themselves a walking corpse, started to have a degree of sanity return to em. And then, little by little, like sand tricklin down in an hourglass, some of them started to remember….
Scattered, broken, and far and few between, memories began to return to some of em. Nothin about the war or the gods fightin, nothing about how they came to be, but about who they were before the Curse. Before the hunger…Generals and soldiers, tailors, smiths, wizards and priests. We Unidine are nothin if not diverse. Bits and pieces, one drop at a time they remembered. Some would remember their name, or the name of someone they was close to. Others would suddenly remember they could dance or sing, paint or juggle. Hell, Wasn’t until I came across a dead buzzard out in the wastes that I remembered I worked in some sort of library. Saw the dead birds’ feathers all stickin up and it hit me like a boulder. I saw a quill in my hand, bright green tapestries all around me, the smell of ink and parchment, candle wax and dusty books. Heh, can’t for the life of me remember where it was or anyone I used to know, but I can close my eyes and remember walking through that keep library like I just done it last night. Anyways, was talkin about the ancients, not me. So. It was these first Unidine to remember that first began gather in groups. Help each other cope with the curse and the hunger. Just being able to talk to someone kept a lot of em sane. It’s during some of these talks, that some of the ancients put it together. Those that weren’t feedin the beast seem to be rememberin more and more. Ya see, the more you can keep the hunger at bay, the easier it gets. And the easier it gets, the more some of us remember. So figurin this out, some of em, seein the lost and fallen, start wanderin the wastes, lookin for others. They would find em, and help em become themselves again. Teach em to control the hunger, bring em back from the brink as it were.
You’ll see the lost out there, shamblin around, wanderin without purpose. The lost are just that. That’s what we call those that can’t be brought back. They’re minds are too far gone. The monster is all that’s left…. Eh? No, for the most part you don’t need to fear em. The lost don’t know the difference you and them. Unless you attack one of em, they just assume you’re one of em. Only time that don’t hold true is when one of the damn fallen seem to rally em against us.
The fallen…where to start. See where most of the ancients were rightly scared of the hunger and strove to help others control it, a few of em decided they kinda liked that monster. Decided to make friends with it, let it run wild. See, we believe that this curse, this existence, is a test. A test from the gods. The hardest test anyone’s ever been given. Can we prove to em, we aint monsters. That we can step into the light, and not be burned by it. And so we built our society around that belief. Lookin past the curse, past petty bigotry, greed, selfishness, and all the rest of the shit the living burden themselves with. And because we don’t die, we got forever to prove we’re still worth saving. But the fallen…they have a different belief. See they figure the monster is what we’re really supposed to be. That the calmer, rational part of em is just some residual memories what need to be shed like a snake skin. They think the curse is a gift just waitin to be unwrapped. So they feed the monster, make it stronger, and stronger, until it’s the one in control. See they think that if they can do it JUST right…they’ll become something more. They think they’ll be spared the fate of becomin one of the lost and transcend into somethin else. Humpf…bunch of damned fools. Some of em even file their teeth and fingers into points, they graft bone spikes and stack more bone for armor. You think I look scary? You remember havin that thought the first time you see one of them crazies. I’m a goddamned princess by comparison. The fallen are why Priory even exists.
What is priory? You’re standing on it freshy. Priory is the walls that keep the fallen out. It’s the city beneath the soil you’re standin on. It’s our kingdom, our pride, and our only means of true defense. See as the two factions grew, the ancients and their fallen counterparts, a scary truth started to be seen. We was in the minority in a BAD way. See, anything that dies in the wastes can come back. Anything. Animals, people, ogres, and worse. Those of us that can fight the hunger are far and few between compared to what comes back with the monster driving the coach. And the fallen tend to recruit those real quickly. And now, some say they’ve even taken to leavin the wastes and kidnappin the living. They take em in small groups, bringin em back to the fields and killin one or two of em to add to their ranks. They say they torture em and starve em until the monster gets reeeaaal hungry. Then they set em lose on the ones they didn’t kill. Kind of a last kick in the gut to weaken their mind so the monster stays in control. Why? Well see, the fallen see us as a blockade to their transcendin. They think as long as we’re in here, being good and nice and all, they won’t be able to become whatever it is their rotted brains think they get to be. They think that to move forward, we have to do it all as one big crazy evil family. And if we won’t join em, well then, we gotta go. Thankfully, compared to us, the stark ravin mad lunatics got about as much organization as a pack o’ wild dogs fighting over scraps in the dark. They may have us in numbers, but we got Priory. And we got an army willing to die a second time to defend her and everyone inside her. I mentioned earlier that some of those that remembered their former selves were generals. General Ahktavian is among em. That man has 400 years of fighting know how and strategy under his belt, and he commands the Vigil. It’s the Vigil’s job to make sure the fallen stay out, and to make sure our people stay safe secure. And all of this is only made possible because of her.
Yea, you know the “her” I’m talking about, you seen her when they brought you in. Skin as white as fresh snow, hair as black as a moonless night, and those soft glowin pale green eyes. Its them eyes that most notice first. It’s like she’s lookin through ya, into ya. Like she’s starin at you and your monster at the same time. Some of us, like you, managed to stay close to normal looking if we woke up quick enough after dying. Others, like me, didn’t wake for a good long time after we died. Hence my one ear, no nose and lack of a right cheek that gives me my rugged good looks. But the Queen… She somehow stayed beautiful. She’s got a lot of names, but The Queen Mother is her most common on account of her takin care of all of us and leadin us like she does. See, no one knows who she was before the curse. Hell, she might not know. But it was her that stepped up and took control. Convinced the ancients that hidin in the dirt in group did nothing but make bigger targets for the fallen. It was her that led them to the ruins of an ancient city, long buried and forgotten in the heart of the wastes. She somehow managed to rally all of those that fought the hunger, all those that had started to remember. She had em start diggin. Found those that remembered something about engineering, architecture, or stone work, and put em in charge of big groups. See, now that you’re one of us, you’ll learn quick enough we don’t sleep or wear out. No matter how grueling the task, or how long it takes, we can just keep at it, full pace until it’s done and be no worse for wear. By the way they talk; there was maybe a thousand of em when they started diggin. One thousand strong, that didn’t tire or stop. Working nonstop under men and women who had made building and diggin their life’s work when they was alive. They managed to dig out a cavern bigger than you could see across with a spyglass. Dug the ruins of the ancient city out while only exposin the very top of her ruins. Then they started fixin her, but only the parts still underground. Building the stone back up, repairing and modifyin, and addin as they needed. And all the while, those that weren’t suited for that work, were organized into search parties and sent into the wastes to find others what needed protectin and sanctuary. Eventually, word spread. Even in this desolate shithole of nothing, rumors still manage to spread like wildfire in a summer wheat field. And so their numbers swelled. Swelled to point they had to start addin tunnels and expand the city. Problem was…wasn’t only the good ones that heard them rumors. The fallen’s leaders didn’t like the idea of what the Queen Mother was doin. Didn’t like that we had us a city and protection, or that we was starting to grow in number. Saw us as a threat. So one of the worst of em, a vile wizard named Omranoth, managed to gather the fallen into what passed, for them, as an army. And as story goes, that army marched on the upper city of priory. They say you could see em comin for miles, and most of the Unidine thought the end upon them. See, for all the architects, masons, dancers, and everything else everyone had remembered bein, not nearly as many had remembered being soldiers or warriors. But the fallen, the fallen take to being brutal and violent like a fleshy babe to its mums teat. That, coupled with their superior numbers, surely meant the eradication of all that the ancients and Queen Mother had built. But the Queen Mother, she weren’t scared one bit. They say she alone calmly walked towards the fallen army, pity being the only emotion to cross her perfect porcelain face. They say the rest of the Unidine just stood there, transfixed by the site of her defiance and beauty, her fearlessness and her bearin. The fallen army was said to pause, if only for a moment. Like even they was aware something was different about her. But the moment was forgotten as horns and war cries deafened the wastes. The fallen army charged. They say the Queen mother just stood there. Some say they swore they saw tears on her face. And just before the fallen army fell upon her, they say she calmly raised her right hand, palm facing outward… And then they say that green fire, bright as the sun, shot up like a wall belched forth direct from the abyss. A mile long and a fifty foot across they say it was. The initial force of the flames so violent, the first half a dozen rows of the fallen host was tore apart even as their bodies were instantly burnt to ash. And while we got a fair number of us that can use magic in one way or another, back then, none of em could. So seein the queen do this was quite a shock ta see. But Omranoth, he weren’t no apprentice himself. They say he summoned a terrifyin black rain. So cold it turned all it touched to ice, yet remained water just the same, to extinguish the queen’s green fire. And so instead of armies fightin, it turned into a wizard’s duel the likes of which this world aint seen since I imagine. Neither the rest of the Unidine nor the fallen host dare interfered, seein the few foolish enough to get close enough to try got eradicated by one horrible spell or another. I’ll spare ya the fantastic details of the entire duel on account of the story changes from person to person depending on who ya ask. But they all end the same way. Both the Queen and Omranoth, mentally exhausted and badly wounded, stood in what looked to be a stalemate. The whole area blasted and charred with magic, smoke hangin thick in the air like a spring fog. The Queen yelled out across the battlefield. “Take your people and leave. Do not take this further Omranoth, we do not have to be enemies” she yelled. “You beg for mercy because you know you are about to be defeated!” they say he screamed back. “Please…we do not know why this has happened to any of us…we do not know why the gods have cursed us so…we may yet find a way to lift this curse…but we cannot do so if we destroy one another! Do not make me destroy you Omranoth! We are already so few….do not make me do this…” They say she wept as she pleaded with him….that her tears were black as the rain Omranoth had conjured… I aint never seen one of us that can cry, but I believe em when they say she did. And not for herself. Story goes, instead of answerin her with words, Omranoth began a waving his hands and conjuring dark energy all around him. They say the Lady bowed her head in sadness and some say she whispered a prayer. Then her eyes lit up to a blindin radiance and a spectre of pure green/white energy rose from her body. They say her body dropped like a rucksack in the dirt, and the spectre that was the true Queen Mother hovered above her physical form like an angel watchin over a sleepin babe. Then, faster than Omranoth could react, they say the spectre shot across the battlefield. And as the spectre tore through Omranoth, they say they saw it tear his damn soul straight from his body. I’ve heard a few of em say they’ll never forget his scream for all enternity. But anyhow, his body fell limp, and they say the Queen’s spectre just floated there, her hand gripping the throat of an ethereal Omranoth’s feebly struggling soul. Then, she looked up at Omranoth’s army. Eyes flaring green, her gaze promising a fate worse than death to any and all who would meet it. Then her voice, unnaturally loud, she spoke. “We did not ask for this”…. “I…did not ask for this”. “Any of you who wish to join us may do so.” “We will not harm you, we will forgive any past transgressions, and we will help you regain that which you have lost.” “But those of you who continue to stand against us…who continue to try and tear down all that we are striving to create and retain.” “Only annihilation awaits you.” And with that, they say her hand holding ol’ Omranoth blazed with green flame, and both Unidine and Fallen alike watched in shock as Omranoth’s soul were burnt to ethereal ash. The fallen army retreated. And the gathered Unidine stood silent as the Queen slowly floated back to her body. She fell into her physical body and her eyes opened, blinking the way a fleshy does when they wake from a long dream. They say she barely got to her knees when broke down sobbing . Face buried in her hands, they say she begged them for forgiveness. Said she understood if they wanted to her leave. Those gathered were never sure if she was asking for forgivness for destroying Omranoth the way she did, or for being what she was and having the power she did, but keeping it hidden from everyone. Not really important which it was anyhow. She saved them. And apparently at the cost of her own morality. She’d sacrificed a part of herself to save all of them, and not a one of them had asked her to. There weren’t no cheering or celebrating. Instead, the Unidine just gathered around her and began to thank her. To hug her and comfort her. Some of them apologized for what she had to do on their behalf. Others just held her while she cried. But in the end, they all did one thing in common. Every Unidine alive at the time swore an oath. An oath to learn to defend themselves and Priory. To make sure the Queen never had to exercise that terrible power on their behalf ever again. They would protect her from that day forward. Funny in’t it? A whole civilization a people swearing to protect the one being that could most likely incinerate anything that so much as look cross eyed at her if she chose. But that’s what makes us different I suppose.
See, my personal take on this whole “existence” we got….I think we were monsters before we died. Maybe not as individuals, but as a people, a nation, or a race. Maybe we was greedy, or blood thirsty, or worse of all, indifferent. But either way, I think the gods decided to test us by making us monsters on the outside, so we could learn not to be on the inside. Maybe if we prove we’ve learned our lesson, they’ll return us to our former state, or simply let us die and move on. Either way, I can’t wait.
Ours is a hard existence. Every living creature that you envy or that you would protect, would most likely destroy you, burn what’s left, and piss on the ashes. There’s a scattered army of insane monsters in our backyard hell bent on eradicating us, and they have an endless supply of shock troops and fodder to boot. The list of things you’ll never do or have again is almost limitless. You’ll not age, nor eat or sleep ever again. Even though you’ll want to, you’ll never be able to cry again. As time goes by and yer forced to use alchemy and more mundane methods to keep yerself in good condition, you’ll lose the ability to feel.