Chapter 1: needless fixations
The grin diaries
-Earliest memories, the joyful play sparing with fellow youth, broken broom handles and sticks for swords, the elders oversaw our play with grim faces, Routines drilled into us before we knew what we were. Stand up straight, bow to the masters, face your opponent, upon the signal, kill it. no parents, lived assisting the elders for their scraps. entranced by their sparing matches, unlike ours, held more meaning than ours, they knew the truth... they knew wood would become steel joy would become despair and mercy would become a fantasy.
entry 1: (date here) -there are several positions for a slave on this compound. house servants, aside from menial tasks they often end up tending to the vineyards, they’re considered the most fortunate, under that. its us contenders that fight for the masters and their guests while they eat, taste wine and humiliate the timid house servants. the least fortunate are the harvest, Slaves that are tortured, experimented on harvested for soul essance and finally turned undead, not necessarily in that order.This fate were for those who disobeyed, tried to runaway, were sick or old. The undead were mainly used as their guards and hunters meant to capture slaves, they are stored in the catacombs below they last a bit longer than normal undead given the conditions..something to do with the experiments on the bodies, they’re clumsy and unreliable but all the masters care about is loyalty and they cannot disobey, A contendor deemed worthy enough will be given a test of loyalty if they pass they will be allowed to be the families personal guard and will be given more privileges. the family pet, after the match the surviving contender is offered wine and their scraps. wine is enough, never have an appetite afterward. masters read the waivers out loud, word per word before every fight. The agreement of the bets being made, agreeing upon how much our lives are worth. I suppose im writing this as practice on the side, out of spite, boredom or maybe a needless fixation. Noone would guess a simpleminded slave whos only purpose is to kill other slaves for entertainment would bother learning how to write. Today marks my 301st kill, he was too much like me, experienced, medium weight, medium height his strikes were percise, no wasted movements, every vital was a target, kept me on my toes with that pompus smirk on his face ...well..until that 32nd strike..it was soo sloppy, dont even think he blames me for taking a neck presented like that in battle. His cause of death, most likely a leg wound in his amature years, gotta protect those tendons, believe his sword was magick The wounds bled for an unusually long time.. i hate magic. details only come to mind after the fight, when the fight starts, something in me switches on and whatever or whoever they were doesnt matter anymore they just become an enemy faceless, featureless, puppets on strings.. i cut their strings and they fall, lifeless..free...
entry 2: almost routine now. win a match, they reward me with a bottle of wine and scraps, present it to my childhood friend, she tends to my wounds and we make love. her name, Ariel, curly brown hair often kept in a bun, freckles, deep olive eyes, slightly pointed ears, most likely part-elf now that i think about it. on the compound, a house servant though she mostly tends to the vineyard yet when she can she smuggle alchohol, needles and string from the house to tend to the fighters who’d otherwise die from their unattended wounds. We were each others first. knows how to hide herself from the masters, when they take too much notice of a house servant they dont come back. like to show me off to the other slavers in grimrah's market, make me fight 3 contendors, not a big deal but they expect me to get away without even being scratched...a pretty, onesided fight to the death, very unrealistic and bothersome, to be expected from magic users. The reward is much better so i give them their show. Afterward the nobles try to breed me with slaves of their own at a price. Sounds nice if you can ignore the fact that they arent always pretty, for an extra fee they can watch and nether of us have a choice in the matter. often entertain and feel pride in the thought that maybe one day ...may be killed by a son of mine. dream about him, ragged clothes soaked with blood, hair black as the pit, he spits blood on the ground and looks at the sky, uninterested in the cheering crowd, then he looks down at the corpse with the same empty, yellow eyes, and contradicting satisfied grin, he looks like a painter who finished his greatest masterpiece yet. As i fade, see strings attached to them all.. they’re all puppets.. whos going to free them i wonder.
entry 3: the red warden plantation was made on a hidden oasis in the promethean plains between grimrah and the great mage city, the red warden contenders spread stories that a few slaves ran away and may have made it there. they’re hoping they’ll come back and free us with their newly discovered magick, ive killed enough magick users to know better, it didnt save them, it wont save you. the masters are dark elves ontop of being natually adept to it they devote majority of their meaninglessly long lives to the parlor tricks. needless to say its better than anything you can cook up in 5 , 10 or 20 years. about to get busy around here, more and more guests, coming to place their bets, buy wine, maybe a few lives.
entry 4: No switch turned on this match, wasn't a match and he was no slave, he was wounded and malnourished already, but i can still see it, the years of experience in battle, form and discipline hammered into the mind and body, a solider, no, a warhero, dehydration, festering wounds, feverish, tortured in any way imaginable. could barely even stay conscious , i had to prolong this fight, outside looking in, it must have looked like a joke, like a cat playing with a dying mouse, think the crowd was laughing, they wanted him humiliated, so i did so, but i can picture it as clear as day, how deadly each of those swipes and counter attacks would of been a few years ago. did not deserve to win that match. finish it quickly, the ragged sword they gave me, plunged right into his heart.“use them well” his last words. should have known, he didnt use the same strike twice, as many stances and strikes that he could manage even though had no business even trying in that condition. For a short time i had a teacher.
(crudely drawn illustrations of each form)
entry 5: practice the forms in secret , want to improvise it to fit my own style without loosening its effectiveness, keep my usual style in fights for now, will test it casually on armatures..suicide otherwise.. another needless fixation i guess, the masters have been acting strange lately, sent their valued guests away and gathered on a hill north of home, youmi the elder, souren his oldest son and head of the household, souren's younger twin brothers yokon and yogi and their only sister the youngest Eura. alaya and Souren devoted to necromancy seeking to perfect the wax that preserves their undead. yokon and yogi assist the undead in their hunts, cant tell them apart sometimes, brutal and mindless, only worth to the family is their willingness to dirty their hands and enforce their will, if they had their way i would of been dead a long time ago. Something about not liking the look in my eyes. whatever that means. Their women are all raised to devotely worship the muse, Esther .. They prize her visions of the future more than anything. souren's wife eliza yokon and yogi raea and mira they often swap depending on their arguements the three are just as vile as their lovers, mira and raea will often lure in contendors sleep with them just to make them jealous afterward said contendor ends up dying slowly while mira and raea watch. yokon and yogi are probably the reason why house servants go missing, eliza is obsessed with making undead . doubt any of those three has ever seen a vision from the muse and are pretending, however Eura, the youngest daughter of youmi... has real visions, rarely speaks, often sits alone in her room or staring blankly at the wastes.. when she speaks, its about a vision shes seen, never treated as trivial, regardless of how random or vague, she need only say one word and it shakes the compound to its foundations her first word “grandmom” shorty after youmi became a widower, these are rumors but we do not spread such rumors lightly, they have been acting so strange lately, irritable, nervous ,scared ...weak.
entry 6: today was strange..just like when we were kids have to gather the courage rehearse a little on the way to see ariel, knock on the door, hear whispers before she cracks the door open, her cabin is nearly pitch black except for a dim candle light in the back shes dressed as if shes going out somewhere tonight, tells me she cant talk at the moment..eyes avoiding mine, nervously asks me if i would help her vaguely ...it goes without saying of course i would.. probably harassment by some new slaves, will probably have to make an example out of a few, in the back ... hear whispers “hes the favorite, he cant be trusted, he kills us without hesitation,or remorse with a grin on his face, he always grins in their last moments. even as a child, he was a monster” i understand completely, isnt like me, a leader, her mind aims for greater things than i, a mindless killer should know his place, cant afford to let my distortions interfere with her plan. i was but another needless fixation. turn to leave.. feel a tug on my sleeve, she presses her forehead against my back.. it starts to rain, dont know how long that moment lasts...she slides back inside and closes the door before i could turn around and see her..shes stronger than me in many ways,i will put faith in her but...what is this feeling?
entry 7: for the past few days the contenders have been taken off the compound into town, they’ve been having us fight, non-stop, if they wanted to show off they wouldnt of brought everyone, can keep going, its almost getting easier, the more i practice my new techniques, but the others are dying off , what do they gain doing this? we were kept in bared cells many did not see the morning, as i slept i saw a faint image...eura in a nightgown walking past the cells with souren whos holding a light.. she crouches vacant pitch black eyes looking into mine she points at me, both leave without another word.
entry 8: last match, a group of contenders together infront of us, a very large group of undead, guess im the only one that understood what this meant..they run to attack the undead. take a deep breath and look up into the sky, feel a click the switch turns on, never considered the undead a threat, the first one was the quickest. the thin blade severs the nervous tissue in the neck not even nicking the vertebrae . The cleanest cut i have ever made, he collapses as the undead continue to attack the body, before the man next to him reacts i slide the blade through his left eye socket with enough force to pierce the skull, he dies instantly, made sure to spend time Nicking at the undead’s connective joint tissue disabling them now to finish them later as i make my way to the other contender weaving out of their grasps, complex movements are almost impossible for them with the wax treatment weighing them down, many have already succumbed to the undead, so i take my time disabling and finishing off more and more, breaking their teeth shattering their jaw joints with the hilt of my sword, what makes them think these things are fit for battle is beyond me, during my onslaught , feel a strange piercing feeling in my chest normally i would stop to understand what it was but my switch was on, dont feel it now, so it was probably nothing, i finish the last contender. sweep low with the blade take out the tendons in his ankle he falls i leave him to the undead his last words “monster” just me and a few undead crawling and limping toward me, its just clean up now, before i step toward them and finish them off souren sets the remainder ablaze with a fire spell. souren announces me a winner ..he said I have passed the test of loyalty.
entry 9: they give me 3 Bottles of wine and some fresh food, dark elfs greet me out of curiosity asking stupid questions like how i felt and who trained me, yokon and yogi take credit for that, even though the house servents beating out dusty lenins have more experience than them, aside from all of this nonsense have a burning desire to see ariel, make it back and i go straight to her cabin with a roughsack filled with wine and food, the door creaks like always as i step in, looking through the empty cabin..i feel a tug on my sleeve ,i turn around and the image of the walking corpse of a freckled faced woman with torn clothes slightly pointed ears and one olive colored eye flashes in my mind, suddenly the piercing feeling intensifies. She was one of the undead in the royale.. i severed the connective tissues in her knee and finished her off as she crawled towards me. the feeling shoots up my spine to my head.. i feel something click for the last time. I stacked the bottles neatly in the corner and fell asleep on the floor in my own vomit.
entry 10: the bodies of yokon and yogi were found. dismembered bodyparts hanging from tree limbs suspended by string like twisted decorations. used their magicks on all of us to find the culprit.. still stings, found nothing. As if esther herself claimed them.