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Tamara's Demesne
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Tamara's Demesne
I make dark ero-art and write short stories.
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Tamara's Demesne
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MILLENNIUM PENANCE: PROLOGUE

Tamara 2022 | @_proletkvlt

CWs: blood, gore, implied fascistic violence


FOR THE LORDS OF ESHNAR HAVE ABANDONED THEE,

AND THE STEEL WINDS NOW BLOW AGAINST THY FACE.

FOR THE MYRIADS OF PANDAEMONIUM HAVE FORSAKEN THEE,

AND THE RUIN OF THY WEALTH IS THE RUIN OF THY BODY.

WITH THIS FINAL EDICT, MAY THINE EMPTINESS BE FILLED.

BE SEALED HERE, AND MAY THY SOUL BE CONDEMNED

TO TEN THOUSAND RESTLESS LIFETIMES.


October, 1821. Niebla Roja, Alta California.

Far in the mountains of the newly-christened Mexico’s remotest territories hides a cottage of mud-brick and pine. Smoke billows from the adobe chimney in the flat roof, up and across the sandstone peak and the rock-clinging mesquites before drifting and disappearing across a cascading, silent blanket of sagebrush. Above, the stars hang undisturbed by any distant lantern; only the moon’s light filters down across the vast and rocky desert through the sparse and lazily-drifting clouds.

Here, in the dead silence and stillness of the night, would be where Arsenio Alhasra makes history.

A small man, clad in wrapping and overlapping layers of cotton, wool, and ancient, embroidered silk, huddles at the center of his small cottage. A bed, a chest, and a few pots and pans – he owned almost nothing of tangible value to anyone but himself, and perhaps, in a cosmic sense, the world. Age clings to his amber-colored skin in long, ribbony wrinkles, his head topped with a shaggy mop of curly black hair. In many ways, he resembles the rock upon which he built his secluded home, both time-tested keepers of the knowledge that lay locked away, hidden from the light of the sun.

It’d been so long since he began his life’s work that he nearly forgot he had ever started, the motions and rituals coming to him less through study and more through the mysterious workings of deja vu muscle memory. All would culminate tonight, though, the product of uncountable hours of labor in remembering something long left forgotten.

Machines, boilers, flasks, and bookshelves; they line every available wall in the small space, not an inch left undevoted to the grueling task of refining the mysterious fuel out of blood – first that of pigs, and when this no longer sufficed, Arsenio’s own – and keeping it pure long enough to use. He’s been saving for months, his constant bloodletting aided by a fattening diet of fruit, tequila, and game. Finally, he had enough – a cupful of shimmering carmine, passed through his arcane sieve twelve times over before it was sufficiently pure.

Arsenio clutches a ribbed, brass chalice in his ring- and bangle-adorned hand, the surface interrupted only by strange, circular carvings. On the wool carpet below, between his knees, sits a disc of solid, similar brass, marked and etched in a similarly-alien style. Its surface is dominated by a complex, circular sigil, cast deep and bold into the very metal itself. Ancient things; he knew neither their places nor times of origin, having bought them second-hand from an alchemist in Andalusia prior to his exile – but by now, he certainly knew what they were used for.

Arsenio tilts the chalice, and out pours thick, shimmering blood.

It hangs in the air. Gravity pulls it down for a mere second before something… greater takes hold of the droplets, slowing their descent before it stops them in the air above the brass object. Goosebumps quickly cover every inch of the man’s sunkissed skin, a powerful shiver running down his back. Another few precious drops of blood join the hovering mass – turning to barely-visible streaks an instant later, it slams into the surface of the sigil, forcing itself deep into the metal’s intricate grooves.

A bang. Arsenio is knocked from his kneeling position to the floor as a burst of oven-hot air floods the cabin. He coughs, retching, the toxic stench of campfire and gunpowder assaulting his nostrils and slipping down his throat like he was drowning in it. He waves his hand in front of his face to clear the billowing clouds of ashy, reddish smog; it’s no use, and soon he’s forced to take his wide-brimmed hat and begin to use it as a makeshift fan in order to catch a breath of fresh air.

Damn – another failed experiment, another… well, it could be anything wrong, Arsenio thinks. The sigil, the blood, the shimmering red within it that he understood simultaneously so intimately and yet almost nothing of – any one of those could’ve…

...gone wrong…

...a dim, red glow emanates from the surface of the brass disc, now halfway across the room from Arsenio. His past failures had inevitably gone up in smoke, literally – the strange flux in the blood seemed to combust when improperly supplied to one of the artifacts, and he’d feared that he’d set off such a catastrophy in his own home. This, however, was new; never had he seen such aglow, save for the setting sun in the sky. A warm, crimson-red tint to the familiar glow of golden yellow, cast through the sleepy clouds as the sun crept below the mountains – it now filters into his home long after sunset, originating not from the windows, but unmistakably from the glowing surface of the sigil.

Arsenio blinks. He crawls across the room on all fours and grabs the disc, finding it hollow as a wheel on the front, and as solid as a rock on the back – like a bowl with no bottom.

He looks down, and gazes upwards towards an alien sky.

The disc clatters to the floor a second later, as a trembling, shaken Arsenio rushes for his pad and quill. A lifetime’s work had finally, miraculously come to pass! The thing he’d suffered for, lost his family for, been forsaken to the sea and the desert for; the thing no one in the past three thousand years had been bold, or perhaps insane, enough to attempt – until him.

Distantly, the sound of wind whistles in the still and silent sagebrush night. Notetaking could, perhaps, come later, his hazel eyes drifting to the enticing warmth of the glowing shape. He sets his papers down and reaches curiously for the disc, pulling it along the floor. The sky on the other side would shift and move in response to his motions; he plays with this for a bit, holding it in front of his head and then looking down towards his carpet to discover an upside-down field of rock and debris, the clouds disappearing beyond an apparent haze that blankets the skyline. Rotating the disc slowly turns the ground to the sky and vice-versa, the view now properly aligned with…

...well, wherever this was, for that was a question Arsenio could not answer despite his best research. Whatever texts refer to this place had been evidently destroyed, for not even a shred of evidence exists of this place other than a singular mention of a sigil which would open the way to it – in the back of an old, fire-damaged tome Arsenio could not even fathom the age of without growing nauseous.

He cautiously sticks a finger into the opening – followed by a hand. It goes in effortlessly, as if he were simply reaching into a barrel deep enough to accommodate him. He pushes forth, soon holding the ‘ring,’ as it were, of the disk all the way up to his shoulder, managing to actually touch the rocky ground below him. He pulls back, startled by the realness of it – and finds his fingers stained with soil. His eyes go wide, motioning for the notepad and wiping some of the residue onto the paper.

None would doubt him, now. No more would he have to hide his studies, for he finally had proof that he was right all along. He drops the disc – the… portal, perhaps – to the ground, grabbing the quill once more before setting to work on his notes. Precise measurements, precise methodologies; all of it had to be preserved in the hopes that he would be found finally, blissfully innocent by those that had slandered and persecuted him for so long.

All he had to do was write it down, and after several centuries of torment, the Alhasra name would be spoken outside of hushed tones and spiteful slurs. For a moment, he gestures at the portal once again, sliding his pointer finger and its jewelry through the window of the world.

With another bang, it shuts instantly. A scream – followed by a gushing torrent of red, hot blood.

The brass disc clatters to the floor, the surface returned to solid metal – blood now spattering all over the etched metal. Arsenio clutches his hand with horrible, immediate recognition that his finger is entirely gone. It’s severed at a flawless angle, the flesh seemingly blinked out of mere existence; no cut marks, no sign of the slightest struggle – even the very bone of his digit, to his abject terror, is bisected cleanly, the structure of the marrow visible beneath the velvety coating of fresh blood.

Arsenio falls to the floor, pushing his precious notebooks aside before they got ruined – the prospect of saving them from damage now entirely unlikely, which he cursed with a hiss before returning to the mind-shattering pain at hand. He rolls to the side, managing to smack his wooden shelving with enough force to knock a roll of gauze onto the floor beside him. A small blessing.

It’s not long before he’s able to fasten a makeshift tourniquet from the dense fabric, bandaging the rest of his hand as the bleeding slowly subsides. He thanks God that he’d neglected today’s bloodletting, or he may have just died on the spot, the stars and swimming spots of light in his vision stubbornly refusing to fade.

The cabin was a total mess. Blood shot with such force out of the wound that it’d sprayed the entire wall and roof of the place, which would surely attract flies – and ruin the calibration of his sensor-sigils, the very things which allowed him to create the blood-fuel in the first place! Damn it!

Still, if there were one thing the Alhasra line were used to, it was setback – and this was just another one, despite its apparent permanence. Arsenio looks down at his dominant hand, now bereft a pointer finger. Hm. He’d… have to figure out writing again, have to figure out how to do a lot of things.

...for now, though, he had to rest. Blood loss was catching up with… with him. The books… they’d come tomorrow, or… or the next day…

He slumps, unconscious, onto the blood-stained rug, silent for a moment before his usual snoring resumes.


29 Red Wind, 547 AI. Nuhr-Akkal Steppe, Orbiting Marches.


Two figures clad in pitch black stand aside their chittering mounts, the beasts temporarily leashed to a rocky outcropping. Their robes flap violently in the bitter, biting wind, clinging helplessly to their torsos and wide-brimmed metal hats, yet the majority of their crimson-skinned forms face the weather bare. Heat made the prospect of fully covering oneself an impossibility, especially in such a remote region; winds blow up from the lowlands and whip the plateaus like biting leather. It made their presence all the stranger; the two in black were perhaps the sole conscious organisms in a 250-parasang radius.

Both are members of a dying creed. They were many, before the hated Yynoshites and their sickle-swords turned the chthonic safe-havens to bloodbaths and slave mills – now, two remained, the final remnant of a tradition countless generations old. The old routes had been abandoned, now unsafe without the traditional guards and guardians of the flock, and so the two moved alone through the wastes and dryland towards the city of Ved Ulam – salvation, of a sort, for the new order’s myriad victims.

It wasn’t for pleasure that they found themselves here, but for discovery; in the taloned hands of the larger figure sits a bleeding, stumpy length of flesh – a solid gold band of indefinite make wrapped around one of the bony joints. They’d seen it sticking out of the mud, reflective metal unmistakable in the uninhabitable wasteland through which they traveled.

“...it’s a finger.”

Kalad Nur, the smaller figure of the two, furrows their brow as Nihal Nur, the larger, speaks.

“Are you jesting, Sister? Does this resemble ANY finger you’ve seen before?”

Nihal doesn’t answer, clutching the thing between her long, taloned fingers. In truth, Kalad was right. Dirt and grime cling to its surface; it’d bled a bit on its own, but now dry and brushed clean on her already-soiled robes, she took a better look at it; compared to even her own smallest digit, the thing was miniscule. The color and texture is completely wrong, the flesh an odd, pale brown, unlike any tone she’d ever seen. Indeed, it even bore no visible pads or claws – what manner of beast would lack the most basal sensory and defensive organs?

Why was it wearing jewelry?

“...no, it doesn’t.” Nihal clicks, tightening the straps on her iron hat after a period of silence. She holds it up to her dim and sand-choked sun, the golden ring gleaming in the sleepy light. It was perfect, far more perfect than any smith she’d known could hope to achieve. Flawless, glimmering, perfectly-smooth gold, devoid of pockmarks and the distinctive casting lines she’d known so well from her own trinkets.

Something catches the light. Text – the faintest reflection of an indentation in the surface of the metal. Nihal’s first heart skips a beat. Trembling slightly, she pulls the object closer to her myriad slitted eyes, the compound image of an alien script, totally indecipherable, as clear as the daylight.

“a Arsenio, mi amor.”

Such bizarre and diminutive lettering – which way was it even read? What could it possibly mean? What hand could’ve possibly penned something so intentional yet so utterly and profoundly meaningless? What…

...hand… could’ve...

Nihal’s six eyes widen, her spiked brow furrowing. No – it had to be. What else could explain it? Stomach-turning absolution bubbles up inside of her like a poisoned well. Wind kicks dirt into the air around her, yet she makes no attempt to shield herself, soporized by the gravity of her own realizations.

“It is a sign from Naar.”

Her voice is calm and resolute, barely audible beneath the howling sands. She stares at her cliquemate; Kalad’s face, at first, bears a slight and crooked smile.

“Very funny, Sister.”

Nihal doesn’t smile back. The grin fades from Kalad’s pockmarked outerskin. For a while, neither of them say anything, the taller of the two simply holding the severed, dust-covered digit out to her partner. They take it in their hand, staring down with trickling confusion.

They blink.

“...you can’t be serious..?”

“The ring bears Angel-Script.”

Another several wind-swept seconds of silence. Kalad timidly tilts their hat-covered head into the wind to read the minuscule symbols. A strange sinking feeling forms in the pit of their gut; it’s like they’re staring off the sheer face of a great cliff, self-doubt gnawing at their feet as they decide whether to jump. Nihal is already busy unhitching the six-legged mounts, readying the packs and saddles.

“Ved Ulam cannot wait a second longer.” Nihal barks, stomping over to the dazed Kalad and swiping the finger from their grip. “The Angels have shown that the tide of fortune is about to change.”

“Have you lost your mind, Sister?” Kalad stammers. “The March is already under enough scrutiny as it is for their protection of us – should Yynosh learn that they possess modern Naaric artifacts would surely lead t-”

“Where? To violence? We’ve seen enough of that, Sister,” Nihal injects, her tongue lashing like a whip, “and I’m beginning to hate further delaying the inevitable. Enough of what Yynosh thinks – it’s time something REAL is done about her.”

Kalad doesn’t reply. They gaze back over their shoulder, out at the vast expanse of wilderness that cradles them both. If what their partner says is true, the relative tranquility of blistering sands and parched granite, of the vast, overpowering weight of the world upon them, would be the last moments they knew a life of true peace. They’d walked so long in search of safety and a reprieve from the torment – now, over halfway there, they knew their destination was gone.

A long, drawn-out sigh escapes Kalad’s chapped lips. They shrug and take the reins of their mount-beast in their hands, pulling their iron hat tight around their horned head.

“I suppose we have no more to lose.”

The two beasts shamble off, zig-zagging their way towards the next chapter of history – one more violent than any of them could have imagined.

The steppe is empty once again.

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Tamara's Demesne
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Hey subjects - no story today, sorry. I recently got a slipped disc in My neck and the recovery's slow and painful - and worst of all, it makes My right hand and arm pretty much useless, so I can barely do art anyways. I'll keep you all updated - thanks for still supporting Me through this <3

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