This is a bizarre little story I wrote about a roleplaying/story character of mine, a woman named Amarantha. Amaranths are regarded in Greek mythology as the 'eternal flower' because they are said to never die. This is honestly one of the darker things I've written, so just be wary of that. xD I wrote this quickly and not all the at the same time so it might be somewhat awkward. Just keep in mind it's just a sketch, but I'd like some critiques on it because I honestly liked it. I'd not written in a while prior to today, it felt nice to tell a story about one of my characters.
The Bardess Europa's tale of Amarantha depicts a female alchemist, who, out of fear of death and ugliness, cheated herself out of mortality and the plagues it brings with it when she was very young and beautiful. As she watched the few who loved her pass away while she lived on for hundreds of years, she cursed herself for her cowardice, but instead of just killing herself, a slow descent into madness drove her to become a necromancer, obsessed with death and so jealous of those who were already passed that she dug up their graves and animated the withered corpses. She led these shambling beings throughout the countryside, lying in the shadows while they attacked rural towns and lone farmhouses, killing the very strongest of the living and returning these most formidable bodies to their mistress, who animated them and added them to her army. She also raided the morgues and graveyards of plagued villages, stealing away the fittest and most muscular corpses she could find. She sent her minions into households of fearful families, and stole away beautiful women and handsome teenagers, mothers from their families, lovers from their beloved, children from their cradles, and killed them all. News of her attacks spread more quickly than the diseases and pestilence her undead warriors brought to the people, and parties of justicars and holy warriors were sent out to vanquish her. Vigilantes and cocky bounty hunters stalked her in the densest of forests and darkest of caverns. Some never found her, some were found by her - and were quickly overwhelmed by a horde of undead. Amarantha wished to die, but feared death more than anything.
She grew thin and wizened from lack of interest in eating, her thoughts dwelling only upon death and her lust for it. Her body soon wasted to the point of being skeletal; a comical observer might say he couldn’t tell the difference between her and her cadaverous chittelry. She drank of nothing but intoxicants and spirits, preferably sourer and older than her own, and clothed herself in tatters stolen from the backs of her victims. This poor wretch hid her shambling army in the depths of a hall of caverns, in the belly of an ancient mountain cloaked by a dense forest. The walls of it echoed with the painful groans of brainless, powerless creatures whose sole purpose was to kill and be sacrificed. In their turmoil and confusion, they scrambled over each other, devoured each other, and smashed each other to bits until their bodies were so rotted, gashed and torn and their yellowed bones so frail and shattered that they collapsed and festered in great heaps, enraged even as they lay motionless. The screams of their suffering and fury so agonized Amarantha that she emerged forth from her hold at the center of the cavern and commanded them to be silent, but in their mindless fury, they bore down upon her, and chased her back into her barred hold, where she cowered in the face of their mutiny, shivering, and listened to them destroy each other until her great army was no more than a mass of putrefied bodies. As the pestilence of her decaying minions poured forth from the cave, a ring of death surrounded its mouth, killing every tree and animal that lived within a certain radius, and every crawling creature that inhabited the cave.
Amarantha survived her minions’ festering by venting her mouth and nose and covering every inch of her flesh. She averted her eyes from the crumpled masses as she stepped over them, but she saw the expressions of fear and torment on their twisted, mangled faces and in their lifeless eyes, from the warped peripherals of her haunted vision. Their bloodthirsty screeches, their panicked wails and the sound of cracking bones and snapping necks echoed deep within the recesses of her mind, bouncing off the walls of her plagued skull. The ripple of distortion within her brain soon grew and swelled unto an orchestra of the macabre, shook her with the primordial ferocity of an earthquake, and, submitting to it, she fell against a protruding stalagmite as though weighed down by a sickening heaviness, bracing herself against the ancient fury of a woman’s conscience. A chilling tremor of emotion welled up from the core of her and violently snapped through her emaciated form, awakening the deadened nerves of her black heart to the warmth of her humanity; for where else in her life had she seen that same grasping terror, that same heartrending agony, other than mirrored deep within her own cadaverous bosom? For the first time in nearly two hundred years, she fought the urge to kneel there among them, and weep.
She lay against the stalagmite, her bony arms drawn around it, as though she knelt in remorse at the feet of a cherished lover whose heart she had broken, begging for forgiveness. Inquisitors who had stalked her for months, lead by the spread of death around the mouth of the cavern, found her there. They expected to be met with the snide threats and baudy charms of the voluptuous temptress the stories of her conquests illustrated, but instead were greeted with the sight of a waiflike little woman clutching a rock near the mouth of her lair, surrounded by her crumpled army. A scarfaced priestess with an ornate holy bludgeon slung across her back stepped forth to smite her with a mighty roar, but her comrades restrained her. Amarantha did not even flinch at her aggressiveness. “Has the plague subsided?” rasped her hollow voice.
Scarface set her jaw haughtily and directed a ferocious, burning gaze at Amarantha, whose visage was still masked by her protective cloth. The battlemarked cleric’s expression clearly read It’ll never ‘subside’ until your soul is smashed out of you and damned to oblivion, but even in her wrath, she was gracious enough to provide her moral adversary with a response. “The poison with which you killed half the trees in the forest? Yes, it is gone...” Her voice reverberated off the cavern walls, a rich, mahogany timbre that kindled a warming flame in even Amarantha’s shriveled heart. “Your blighted lungs are free to breathe your last.”
Suddenly and violently, Amarantha threw off her cloak and her breathing vents, and cast herself before the holy ones, revealing an anorexic figure and dark curly hair as wild and untamed as a thicket of decaying weeds. “Then kill me!” she hissed. “Kill me, I will not resist, I am not afraid any longer...” A choking sob shook her frail body and tears filled her bloodshot almond eyes. They streaked her dirty face and burned the papery flesh. But the holy ones did nothing. Scarface scoffed at her, laughing in the face of her agony.
One of these sainted persons emerged from the back of the armored cluster, a man garbed only in sober robes. He stepped cautiously forth while the others parted for him, eyeing him suspiciously, and extended his wizened hands toward Amarantha, who surprised herself by accepting them. A thrill zapped through her hand at the warmth of the man’s touch, something she had not felt for many years, and she nearly collapsed against him. Tears prickled the corners of her eyes. “Please....” she whimpered, though even she did not know quite what she plead for. But there was something she longed for to fill the hollowness inside her, and she was overtaken with visceral hunger.
“Hallowed one, how long have you lived? There is a great age about you...” His eyes examined her with a surgeon’s astute precision, and she felt as though they saw into her fragmented spirit as well.
“She is a sorceress,” spat Scarface. “She has murdered and engendered her victims. She is not a menagerie animal. Comply with her wishes; kill her.”
“My utmost respect, but your input is not required, most exalted Sainte-Camille.” He sniffed. “For a holy woman, you are blood-hungry as a demon.” She sneered, and bridled, and ground her teeth until her face turned white with rage, but did not advance. Amarantha began to wither; the stress of human contact had overcome her. “Gayle, water.” A swaggering armored youth came forth from behind Sainte-Camille, who protested the ‘waste of resources on this unworthy wight.’ Gayle handed over a jug of water to the man, who held it to Amarantha’s bleeding, cracked lips, forcing her to drink. She cried out as she swallowed involuntarily; she could not remember the last time she had drunk pure water. She had learned to ignore the parched rawness in her throat; now the spirits of the earth were welcoming her into reality, back into life.
“The holy water burns her,” snapped Sainte-Camille. “I think this is all the evidence we need. She is a demon. Kill her, or I shall brand you a heretic.”
“She has not drunk water in years! What she has consumed has come from the air. Of course it burns,” he grumbled. “Silence, woman. You know nothing of life beyond your holy texts. Life is more than crushing the skulls of heretics.”
“Would that I should crush yours, heathen!”
The man ignored her, and laid Amarantha down upon the frozen stone, where she curled into a little ball. Voices. Voices everywhere. Voices of human beings...they drowned out the howls and screams of the dead, and made her languid little heart race within her bosom. Is this real? Am I feeling this now? Are they alive or are they mirages? I felt his warmth...heard his voice, his breath, it smells like the fur of a dog...perhaps I am mad, and he is a dog, leering over me, about to tear out my throat..but no dog speaks with such clarity, no dog I have ever seen...oh, what am I? She shut her eyes and sobbed quietly, her whimpers strangled and croaking. The wraith was no more than an ageless child, and the demon that invaded her was insanity, obsession, and her mother, loneliness. She felt them being torn from her body, washed away by the flow of healing water, frightened by the fire of Scarface’s voice, suffocated by the sweet mountain air that filled her filthy lungs with every rasping breath. She felt the pulse in her arteries and the squeeze in the smallest vein; felt the nerves of her skin sensing the chill, the warmth, the rough fibers of her tattered smock, each little pinprick of electricity that zapped through her body was known to her. Her eyes opened wide and her pupils dilated, and she saw each crack on the ceiling, every pore on her ashen flesh.
Every evil that lived within her burst forth and fought to hold on, but were ripped from her with the force of her clarity. In the sharp focus of her fevered brain suddenly brought into the light, the very vision of her long and lonely life flashed before her memory, the deaths of her lovers, carried away by the merciful hands of death, while she was pulled deeper into the dark cold oblivion that was eternal life, her final, tearful kisses upon their lips, her descent further into the sea of darkness, her rage, her agony, her madness, obsession, insanity, loneliness, and fear. She saw herself slaughtering and laughing in wrathful mirth, slashing smiles into the petrified faces of the dead, “You’d better smile, you lucky devil!” She saw herself tear lovers from lovers as hers had been torn from her, she heard their screams, their agony, their heartbreak, all emotions she shared with them. She made them all one with her in her suffering, every one of them...She saw again the crumbling waste that was her victims’ undead bodies, their faces harrowed with visceral agony, her agony. In her mind, she saw them bear down upon her, their arms outstretched for her, bloodcurdling screams and crunching bone, and she tripped over a stone in the ground, which was not a stone at all, but a severed hand. She threw her head back and screamed, bony little fingers clawing at the air and at her eyes as she thrashed with a violence that came not from her body, but from somewhere else. With an otherworldly shriek, her arched her back and twisted freakishly, eyes wide, bloody and horrible, and with a gasp, she collapsed back, back into darkness, back into eternity forever.
Buried in her fragile bosom was her Guardian’s silver dagger.
“Bless her, Father,” whispered the man, “she knew not her own heart.”
Eternal flowers do wither away,
In sweet grace and sweeter sin
Every one will pass her dying day,
Though the heart beats still within.