I don't post fiction particularly often, but I really enjoyed writing this particular piece, so you can have it anyway. This is the background information for a level one character, a warpriest named Sasha. I don't really have a campaign for her at the moment, which is too bad because she's awesome. On the other hand, I may just flesh her out, make her either an NPC in my world or a character in an actual, like, story. I haven't decided yet. I have decided that this makes me want to write character backgrounds like this for Davor and Alwedd, my current characters. I might work on that at some point.
Mom, this includes some graphic stuff, you may want to just skip this one.
Without Further Ado:
The sunlight glittered across Sasha's shield, displaying the glittering Sword of Justice in all its righteous glory. A paladin for Iomedae, Sasha strode across the clearing, ready and determined for the task at hand. The cult spreads out around her, and are no match for her spinning blade, her sturdy shield, and her divine glory. Having dedicated the past decade to obliterating the forces of evil, Sasha faces no hesitation about destroying these evil demon worshippers, until suddenly the forces in front of her break, and a young boy enters the clearing. Just to make sure, Sasha quickly checks to see if he is evil, and finds to her chagrin that he is not. She hesitates, unsure, and in that moment something heavy slams into her helm, knocking her to the ground. Immediately bound, gagged, and silenced, she watches in horror as the boy is summarily executed in front of her.
This, it turns out, is only the beginning of the torture. Although the cultists aren't particularly creative, their brutal methods are effective, and Sasha repeatedly finds herself on the brink of despair, mind drifting as her body screams in agony as yet another hot poker finds her tender skin. Her days end in sweet unconsciousness and her mornings begin with prayer, seeking Iomedae's protection. Somehow she manages to shield herself and stays strong, and eventually the cultists give up.
Finally, days or perhaps weeks later, Sasha is dragged out of her cell. One of the leaders speaks, but she can't make out the words. Her mind drifts again as he drones on, and she doesn't hear his questions, his fury, nor his final condemnation. As her body is carried upward, her mind slowly rejoins it, until she fully realizes her predicament. The chanting in the room is in some demonic language she knows nothing of, and the lewd dance the cultists perform makes her avert her eyes, knowing she will die a martyr on this pathetic altar in their profane fortress they call a temple. Strong and stalwart, she blinks back tears and watches, horrified, as the ritual nears completion. Finally, a woman emerges from the crowd, naked save for a bloody red gemstone set in her forehead. This moment sears into her memory forever.
The woman walks slowly to the altar, chanting softly and then loudly, volume and cadence alternating in some seemingly random fashion. She takes a knife, and very carefully slices a series of wounds across Sasha's body, until her heart is in the woman's hands, still beating, still a part of her. Somehow she is numb, her body unfeeling, although her mind reels in fear and terror. The heart is placed inside a bowl, her blood used to fill a series of niches along the altar. A circle of blood. Runes of blood. An holy sacrifice inside, strong and unbroken. The ritual completes, and a demon more powerful than any Sasha has ever seen emerges. His fury is palpable, but he stares down at Sasha in amazement. After seconds, minutes, hours, he turns to the woman.
"Your sacrifice is acceptable. My lieutenant and his army will ally with you, under your command." His voice is deep, and Sasha is horrified to realize that somehow she has understood his vile tongue. The massive demon turns again, places her heart back within her chest, and somehow forces her to use her own divine power to heal herself. He picks her up as though she were a small child, cradling her weak body in his arms, and carries her back through the magic circle, deep into his demonic home. As he walked, she watched an army stream past her, hundreds of demons swarming through circle, and wondered how it was possible she was worth so much.
She had the opportunity to find out, as the days and weeks passed. Where the cultists had brought her close to breaking with their violent yet effective methods, the demons forced her mind to dance a line of sanity she never thought possible. Creativity was not their problem, and often when her mind drifted she knew that if it weren't for the divine protection, this powerful shield that allowed her to keep some parts of herself separate, everything that made her Sasha would eventually be lost. Her body burned, her mind burned, but somehow a tiny pocket of her soul, a miniscule tidbit of her mind, was kept safe. Secure. Holy. Devout. Whenever she awoke, the demon watched her, laughing, as he placed her hand upon her chest and healed her with her own faith.
She kept Faith. She kept knowledge that she was not this broken body, not this broken mind, but that she was Sasha, a divine warrior of... something. The rest she lost. Her childhood was burned in a fire that scorched her feet. Her faith healed her. Her first romance was pierced repeatedly with tiny needles inside her belly button. Her devotion healed her. Her vows and divine order disappeared in the death of a dozen small animals and three infants as she screamed in fury and fear. Her belief healed her. Her time serving Iomedae was driven out as she wept, each tear matched with a drop of blood. Her piety healed her.
Until one day, the last ounce of strength was gone. The god she once served, she could no longer remember. The honor, faith, peity and devotion had been obliterated in pain and horror. When he placed her hand upon her chest, she no longer healed. Her faith had at last, failed. Laughing, he brought in another man and used his power to bless her, the shining glory of his faith blinding her and awakening something inside. The demon placed a sword in her hand and she stared at it for a long time, until the comfortable familiarity of it awakened something more and she reached out for something. A shield was placed in her hand, and that far corner of her mind awoke, distant, but familiar with sword and board. She stretched for a moment, and then smiling turned toward the demon.
He smiled in return hideous and vile, and when he spoke she understood nothing that streamed forth from his mouth. She smiled more broadly, stepped forward, and slammed her sword deep into the demons chest.
He staggered to his knees, confused and furious, and bellowed deeply. A group of demons charged through an entryway, and Sasha fought brutally and mercilessly. She fought for her life, which she had forgotten. She fought for her mind, which she had lost. She fought for her soul, which she had somehow managed to shield. She was nothing but Sword, Shield, and Faith.
She wasn't enough. Struggling, beaten, shield cast aside and sword broken, she failed. A spear hurtled toward her throat and she prayed, accepting her defeat.
The demon swatted it out of the air, rage and fury filled his face, and he declared her sentence. "Make her suffer it all, but do not give her the mercy of death." His face twisted into a smile, still full of hate. "Let her drift in misery forever, that her soul may never return to a divine realm."
The pain lasted an eternity.
She floated, lost, for eons.
Sasha knew nothing but pain.
Slowly it ebbed, and Sasha knew she was Sasha. And pain.
And the pain ebbed further, and Sasha remembered pain, and her Faith.
Her pain eased, and Sasha knew her pain. And her Sword.
The pain faded, and she remembered the pain and her Shield.
The pain ended, and she floated lost, until her Faith cradled her. Her Sword guided her. Her Shield protected her and finally she no longer felt pain.
A flash of color sprang across the empty nothingness and a thing emerged, wholly indescribable. It spoke in whispers of color and taste, and she spoke back in sound and pain. Curious, it took her in, restored her body to health, and listened. It listened to her story and spoke in vision and smell and she reeled under the onslaught of flavored syllables and colored smells. Finally it grew bored, and with a grunt of disgust shoved her through a door.
Until another door opened and she landed in a crumpled heap in a forgotten cottage on the edge of a forest. A small, decrepit old man walked in, shrieked, and fled. A few moments later a young cleric entered. He gave her his cloak and took her to his temple, where he nursed her back to health, back to sanity. He taught her his prayers and she took to them with fierce devotion. He taught her the glory of Bellistor, the teachings of his order, and the simple Faith that served in this crazy world. As they spoke, long conversations over hoeing vegetables and painting blood runes, he knew she was unfit to be a Paladin.
Her soul was shattered.
He spoke further of his Clerical duties, his devotion to Bellistor, his order and what their vows meant and as time passed, he knew she could never be a cleric either.
Her mind was broken. The first he could never fix, the second he could dry.
He worked with her, prayed with her, slept with her and fought with her, and slowly she healed, but as she healed she grew restless, and he knew she needed more. Eventually he concluded she had potential to serve his god as a great divine knight. Her faith was strong, her sword was mighty and her shield was blessed. She painted his symbol across her shield, donned armor, and marched forth with three goals:
Kill the Demon.
Spread the word of Bellistor.
Find out what the fuck that Thing was and thank it properly.