War of the Worldwound
The Grey Maiden. Uliana's Phantom
Age: 17 (deceased)
Race: Phantom (Human)/Outsider
Arima was the favored daughter of a well to do merchant in the land of Varisia. She was comfortable and home life was pleasant enough until the winter of her seventeenth year. The snows came down with a fury from the steppes for weeks. Drifts meters high piled up around their countryside manor as biting winds followed the heavy snowfall. Food became scarce and hunger began to claw at their guts.
Her father went out with one of their trusted servants to get food. They left on foot because the horses had long since been slaughtered to eat. The father returned a few days later with meat. Taken from a sow found frozen in one of the drifts. The servant who had accompanied her father had wandered off in hunger and hypothermia according to her father and could not be found. Arima was saddened since the man had always been kind to her and used to carve her tiny wooden birds to place on her window sill.
The smell of pork stew filled the manor. She was confused when her father had her eat what was left of the horses and rats instead of the bounty he had brought back. He was insistent nearly manic about it. She didn’t want to upset her mother, sister, or brothers so she didn’t protest much. She was jealous of their sweet smelling meal but she had something so didn’t press. By the time the thaw came enough for travel to be possible the servants had all gone. Lost in the night her father had said. A sister and brother had also gone missing in the dark weeks. Her father became a bit pale but otherwise appeared healthy although the new cloying scent about him set her nerves on edge. Mother and her three remaining brothers became very ill. She hadn’t seen them in a while. Father moved them to the basement to “keep the sickness from spreading.”
Once Arima had been going down the winding stairs to the cellar. She had heard her mother calling for some water. All she had seen were sharp teeth and over large eyes before her father dragged her back upstairs. Had his grip always been so strong?
It was spring when she learned what the rest of her family had become. Father never did change much he looked much like he did in life if a bit on the pale side as long as he didn’t smile. In the rest the change was much more drastic with claws and pallid flesh stretched over emaciated frames.
She became bait. Luring suitors and drunks back to the manor from Riddleport. Better that than being made a thing. Even though father said she was his favorite and would never harm her she knew eventually she’d be next on the gruesome table if they were to go too long without one of their dinner parties.
Eventually as these things must people began to take notice of the missing. The whispers and gossip began, soon even in laissez faire Riddleport she was no longer welcome and was shunned.
The midnight feasts soon stopped and quickly enough Arima found herself on the dinner table. Her father was careful in stripping the flesh from her using sharp steel instead of incisors and claw. He loved her he said slurping down a mouth-full; he wouldn’t let her become like them.
Days passed maybe longer. A delirium had descended upon her and time seemed to bleed together. It was mid-day. The family was down in the cellar resting and nursing their hunger when she saw the adventurers from her upstairs window. Hope bloomed in her. Mad fancies of rescue danced in her mind.
The crashing, shouts, and screams echoed through the walls and floorboards. A man with a large axe and wolf companion kicked in her door. She sat up and tried to call out to her rescuer but the muscles that would produce such a sound had been taken as a delicacy. Only a wailing moan escaped. She saw the fear in the man’s eyes and heard him bark out a command to the wolf at his side.
“Alive” she tried to croak out from her mangled throat.
The tearing of the wolf’s jaws at her breast finally silenced all thought.
She began to drift, to float down towards a hungry darkness of cold void that threatened to swallow her. In that darkness she sensed a grey light. A despair that called to her own.
“Not like this. Please not like this.”
Fleeing the void Arima sought the sympathetic spark and buried herself deep in it’s embrace.