This is the origin story for my teifling sorceress rogue, Saber Ishaan.
I didn’t begin learning about myself until “that night”. Sometimes I still wake from nightmares of it, screaming, though it has been several years. I can remember it so clearly. Every detail. The city streets, the smells, the hunger, the fear. That night began no different than any other. The darkness marked my waiting. Waiting for the light to come back so I could be safer. Bad things lived in darkness. Bad things happened in darkness.
I had found a rubbish pile that night in an ally. I had thought I would be safe there. Hidden. I could wait out the bad things and see the bright circle again. I could wait and not be found. If only I had known how wrong I was.
I heard them before I saw them. Their footsteps heavy and voices loud as they stumbled drunkenly through the ally. I could smell the alcohol wafting from them.
I don’t know how they found me. Maybe it was my breathing. Maybe my silent tears weren’t as silent as I thought. Maybe they heard the pleas I was crying out inside my head. I don’t know. I don’t know what I did wrong, but they didn’t pass me by.
No. They found me. They pulled me from the rubbish that was my cover. They dragged me for where I should have been safe, sneering and laughing. They pulled at my horns and tail. I remember their words though at the time I didn’t understand them. Teifling whore. Devil witch. I tried to get away, to run, to find new shelter, but I couldn’t. There were more of them than me, and they were strong, well-fed men. What could a weak, street urchin child hope to do against them?
One of them grew tired of my struggling. He hit me with the back of his hand. I tasted blood as my ears rang and searing pain filled my vision with whiteness.
It were as if that first hit were the breaking of a floodgate. They all began to hit me, slap me, pushing me among themselves as if I were a toy. I remember their sickening laughter. I remember one saying he didn’t know devils could bleed. They hit me, over and over and over. And when I could no longer stand, crumbling to the ground in defeat, they began to kick me. I remember one finely crafted boot landed on my stomach, causing me to retch out what little food I had managed to steal for my dinner that night.
They did such horrible things to me as they laughed. I remember that the most; their laughter, as if my pain was a game to them. My suffering a thing to bring them joy.
Through all of it, I cried out in pain, begging them to stop. I screamed and sobbed until the pain was too much; until my voice was too hoarse and raw to beg or plead or cry. I became silent and still, my body either unable or unwilling to continue trying. As I lay on the ground covered in dirt, sweat, tears, and my own blood, I gave up and I accepted that I would die under their boots.
It didn’t matter if I struggled or fought back. It didn’t matter if I cried or begged or screamed. I thought about how I had never wronged anyone and yet here I was, being beaten to death by strangers merely because I looked different.
No one was going to save me. No one in this awful city cared. Not even my parents had cared. I was alone, had always been alone, and would die alone. Because I was a teifling. Because I didn’t matter. None of it mattered. My feelings. My pain. My struggle. My loneliness. My fear.
I don’t matter… That was the final thought I had before “the change” happened.
I don’t know what changed exactly as I lay there dying. All I know is that something did. It felt like something inside me woke as I died; as they spat on me. As they kicked me. As they hated me.
Rage. I remember rage, slowly at first, a soft hint of anger that grew with each passing second of laughter. Rage with boiled and seethed until it was an all consuming fury.
You DO matter! That was what my fury screamed at me in a voice so loud it drowned out the laughter and pain.
They do not deserve to kill you. They, these strangers, do not deserve to be your end. You have fought for too many meals. You have survived too many nights of darkness for these drunken bastards to be your end. You are strong. Your life matters. Win. Fight. LIVE! Show them what you are. Show them what you want!
That burning feeling of fury clawed its way into my lungs as if it were a living thing, giving me the air to screech one final word at my attackers; a word which filled the night, echoing off the ally walls and defeating the sickening laughter.
“STOP!” I shrieked with every fiber of my being. I flung that single word at them as if it were a sword, burning with all of my anger, rage, and fury.
Their laughter turned to screams as blinding light in the form of a glorious sun-fire sword filled the ally, slashing their faces and burning their eyes, scaring them forever. They ran from me, stumbling, screaming, howling in pain like beaten curs.
I remember their screams and the smell of burning flesh as I stayed on the ground. I wanted to hide. I wanted to run. I wanted to be safe. I wanted the sword that had saved me to come back and be by my side for forever. But the sword was no longer there with its warm, brilliant light and I could no longer feel my body. I could no longer feel the ground under me. I could no longer feel my pain. I could feel… nothing… and everything… seemed so very… very… far away…
The aftermath of my first magic is a story for a different time. This specific moment, however, this specific night, is where I began learning about myself and why I cherish it so much even though it still terrifies me in my dreams. That night, I learned I didn’t have to die. That night, I learned I could fight back. “That night” was when I and my story truly began.