=> AUTHOR: Be meta and pull a FAKEOUT COMBO.
You want to know my story?
please just keep talking to me
You are now DEVAKI RAPOTO. You are 9 SOLAR SWEEPS OLD.
You are a DERSE DREAMER and the descendant of the ASSASSIN LOSTEDGE.
You are DYING on the LAND OF DUSK AND CLOAKS.
But that’s neither HERE nor THERE.
You had a life BEFORE SGRUB, and THAT’S what you want to tell the SEER about. You want to keep her ASLEEP, and you’re going to tell her a TALE to ward off the SINGING.
Then we have to go back to Azriel.
The first real memory Devaki had was of Azriel Makram standing over her, smiling as her blood dripped off his knuckles. She sat stunned in the surf outside her seaside hive, two sweeps old and cognizant of another troll for the first time. There had always been a vague sense of awareness of other trolls existing with information from education droids and the books they left behind, but her lusus had never allowed anyone close enough for her to see them. The blinding fury that had filled her at his appearance from the waves, from a place her lusus would not have looked, dissipated in that first reply of a punch from him, and she stared in awe. He was faster; he was stronger; and he was completely immune to her fumbling Mindgrip.
He smiled then and crouched down to pat her head between her horns.
“You’re mine,” he said cheerfully. “You’re my sister, so that makes you mine.”
She nodded without really knowing why.
The next time Azriel came to her hive, not even two weeks later, he brought along a troll so small Devaki was certain she was barely out of the brooding caverns. He carried her on his shoulders, smiling as Devaki leaped out of a window to get to them.
There was rage boiling in her: fury that the troll who had so easily beaten her returned with a smile; anger at his bringing along such a tiny creature to spite her about her weakness. The rage stilled when her feet hit the ground and she looked properly at the little troll. The girl stared back so steadily she did not blink when Azriel lifted her from his shoulders and set her on the ground. She stood barefooted and in a yellow-dyed Libra shirt that was too big for her; her conical horns were nearly horizontal. She stared up at Devaki, eyes massive and unafraid, and stretched out her hands as though she wanted to be picked back up.
The tension that had filled Devaki naturally to that point vanished so quickly her muscles collapsed and made her fall face first to the ground.
Azriel laughed as he rolled her onto her back. “You’re trying too hard, little sister! I know she’s scary, but you don’t want to make her fall down!” He pulled her to sit up and flopped onto the ground before her when she was upright. He waved the girl forward and pulled her into his lap when she drew close. He said, “Okay, so tell each other your names.”
The girl turned and looked at him.
“Go on. She’s not going to bite you or cull you or anything.”
The girl looked back to Devaki. After a moment, she said, “Sitara Jalena.”
Devaki sat with her mouth closed.
“Come on, sister,” Azriel said. “Talk for me. What’s your name?”
The girl echoed him: “What’s your name?”
She continued to sit in silence.
“Talk for your emperor, sister.”
She slowly opened her mouth. Her voice, unused for more than half a sweep, cracked and failed. She dropped her head.
Azriel’s brows bounced up. “Can you talk at all?”
“That’s not useful. I need you to talk.”
She mouthed, Why?
“Because you’re going to be my right hand, sister. A Grand Highblood with the Mindgrip? You’re important. That’s why your lusus has been killing everyone that comes near your hive.” He smirked. “She’s letting me in because she knows I won’t really hurt you.”
Devaki looked at him with narrowed eyes, head still low as she drew breath.
“You want to know who I am, right? Azriel Makram, future emperor. And you...you can write, yeah?”
He pointed to the ground. “Write your name.”
She hesitated, but scratched out the letters in the dirt.
Azriel read them with a tilted head. “Devaki Rapoto, huh? Okay then. So here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to call more carpenter droids so Sitara can build a hive near here. That way, you get to stay not-angry and she gets to stay safe. And she can get you to start talking again, too.”
For a moment, both Sitara and Devaki were silent. When the moment passed, Sitara got out of Azriel’s lap. She toddled over, climbed into Devaki’s lap, and arranged herself comfortably. Devaki immediately relaxed, shoulders slumping. Her ease was so complete she began to purr quietly. Azriel laughed, but Sitara purred in response.
wait are you serious?
What the fuck else would I do when my moirail sits in my lap?
And I was two sweeps old. It’s a big fucking thing if you find your moirail when you’re that little, and mine just sat right the hell down in my lap.
Of course I was going to purr.
okay so now i get what you meant when you talked about moirails before
but what’s a kismesis supposed to be?
Devaki and Sitara were a sweep apart in age, and it was when Sitara was five sweeps old that she asked to go to the nearest city. Before they went, Azriel gave Devaki her first pair of glasses and waved away her protests that she didn’t need them.
“I want you to make people think you do need them, sister,” he said. “It’ll be a surprise if they ever think they can get an advantage by getting them off you.”
She walked through the streets feeling them constantly slipping down her nose and adjusting them awkwardly. Sitara barely noticed; she was concentrating on walking without being run over by other trolls. She was still a tiny thing and a yellow blood atop it, and she eventually reached out to hold the last two fingers on Devaki’s left hand and walk at her side. Though she wasn’t the tallest troll in the city by any stretch of the imagination, people moved aside when they noticed the color of the Virgo symbol on her shirt.
However, a boy with arrowhead horns and a rust red Sagittarius symbol on his shirt did not step aside. He stopped dead in front of her, standing with his feet spread and his arms crossed. He glared down at her, and Devaki felt her neck tighten. When his glare turned to Sitara and his arm drew back, the tension left her for shock. She saw him smash his fist against Sitara’s face, knocking her to the ground, and heard him barking about her being a traitor to lowbloods, walking around holding hands with a highblood.
The next thing she knew, she was being held off the ground by the back of her shirt. The boy was on the ground, screaming as blood poured from the stumps where the last three fingers on his left hand had been. A knife from her strife deck was in her hand. Sitara had gotten her wits about her by then, though, and she calmed Devaki enough to see and turn toward her assailant. A girl with nubby horns and a candy-red Cancer sign on her shirt looked back with a scowl.
Devaki kicked her in the face. The girl let her go; her hands flew up to clutch at her bleeding nose. Red droplets the same shade as her symbol fell from between her fingers. She stared at Devaki and Devaki stared back.
White hot pain cut across the left side of her face, and she stumbled back with a strangled scream. Her glasses had been knocked from her face; tiny cuts near her eye made her slam it shut. When she reached up, she discovered the bloody hash that had been made of her ear. She turned to find the boy on his feet, whip in his undamaged hand. With the measure of the calmness Sitara had given her, she was able to concentrate and grab the pair of them in the Mindgrip. She held them where they stood and walked slowly forward, clenching her hand around the knife.
The boy spat at her; she made him punch himself in the mouth before collapsing into unconsciousness. The brief lapse in concentration was enough for the girl to move, and she leaped at Devaki. She tackled her, breaking a pair of ribs for her effort. Snarling, she held Devaki down.
“You pathetic excuse for a highblood,” she hissed. “You’re barely more than a wild woofbeast. The fact that you would be congratulated if you killed a mutant like me fills me with so much hatred I could vomit. And rest assured, if I did, I would spit it in your eye.”
Devaki smiled slowly. She caught the girl’s mind and made her keep still. She slipped out from beneath her, stood up, and made her tilt her head. With a hissing chuckle, she leaned in and kissed her. When she came away, she hooked her fangs in the girl’s lower lip and cut tiny lines in it.
“What’re your names?” she asked.
The girl’s lips trembled as she tried to resist the Mindgrip, but she spoke in the end. “Mahima Virote and Vilmos Ildiko.”
“Do you have a kismesis?”
“Now you do.”
Mahima gave her a twisted smile. “I figured. So what’s your name?”
“I look forward to breaking your bones.”
“And I look forward to making you punch yourself.”
“That’s the best you can come up with?”
She shrugged, wincing at the pull of muscles against broken ribs. “For right now, I just want you to go to sleep.” She tilted her head; Mahima’s eyes rolled back and she fell forward. Smiling, she turned to Sitara. She had retrieved her glasses and held them out. Devaki took them and, ignoring the blood smeared on the lenses, put them back on. There was enough left of her ear to allow their presence, but she still winced with the pain. She went to Vilmos and kicked him hard in the ribs.
When they returned and related the story, Azriel laughed and tended to her injuries. He had Sitara find the duo on Trollian and added them to the chumproll.
oh my god
you kissed her?!
I hated her from the minute she pulled me off Vilmos.
then why would you kiss her?!
That’s what you do with your kismesis.
what’s that supposed to mean?
jesus you keep not explaining this thing
Trolls have quadrants of romance.
You have a black romance with your kismesis.
Basically, you hate someone—but still respect them—and you hate them so much you want to fuck them.
Mahima is attractive.
And she’s smarter than me.
And stronger, but she’s a mutant.
She doesn’t have to worry about going stupid blind with anger like me, and she holds it over me.
The last ones make me want to fuck with her, but I also really want to just fuck her.
are trolls just about violence and hate?
don’t you love anything?
what? or who?
They’re our flushed red romance. Aside from our moirails, they’re the person we’re happiest with.
All right, what.
What do you want to ask? I can tell you want to ask something.
to know if you had a
do i what
do i have a matesprit
humans don’t even have a thing like that
Then what do you have?
for me it’d just be a girlfriend
but i don’t have one
so what happened after that?
Azriel kept scheming.
The Emperor Anathematic had no plans to abdicate his throne peacefully, and his lack of plans was why Azriel schemed ever since being a wriggler. While there were still bandages on Devaki’s ear and face, he finally brought a fellow sea dweller ashore. Meztli Branko was a proud troll, younger than Azriel by half a sweep but equal in age to Devaki. He was bigger than her; he held his broad shoulders back and showed off his magenta Aquarius sign. He greeted Devaki by way of a challenge to a duel, swordkind versus knifekind.
When Azriel declared Devaki winner by virtue of having fewer lacerations on her person, Meztli laughed and clapped her on the back. When he began to shyly red flirt with Sitara, Devaki did not feel the need to threaten him. It helped that Sitara openly flirted back. Azriel noticed and patted her on the head.
After her ear had healed as best it ever would, he had her and Sitara act as emissaries of sorts to the land dwellers he contacted. He sent them in a pattern undefined by blood caste: they wandered to the blue blood Scorpio Cosmin Kerkan, aspiring legislacerator, and his dark green blood Leo matesprit Aminta Thetis, who sought to follow her matesprit into justice. They went to the Capricorn Galina Tenoch, who had joined Azriel in a moirallegiance despite her light green shade. The azure blooded Gemini Platon Jadzia sought them out first to pledge his loyalty to Azriel’s cause. Kijani Nijole, orange blooded and Aries and proud, chased after them with wild laughter and hurling his psionics at every chance after Vilmos had told him of them. Azriel went out on his own only once: to meet Parisa Ruzgar, a teal blood Taurus who he had grown flushed for.
If she had free time, Devaki would have her lusus take her back to the city. Riding on the winged serpent’s back, holding the hood of her cloak up against the wind, she smiled. Before she left, she always sent a message to Mahima. They met on a rooftop near the edge of the city and sneered smiles at each other. Devaki sprinted away, bounding across the buildings with Mahima giving chase. They caused great deals of property damage in their fights. Devaki came away with broken bones; Mahima left with new cuts showing her mutant blood.
At eight sweeps, Mahima pinned her to a wall, bit into her shoulder, and just managed to keep from shattering all the bones in her lower body while she fucked her. Devaki laughed the entire time, caught Mahima in the Mindgrip when she was finished, and fucked her just as hard in return.
don’t tell me about this
Are you crying?
am I making you cry?
the gods are singing so loudly right now
devaki i don’t want to think about you like that
I didn’t mean to
talk about something else
how’d you start the game?
you’re a god now, right?
how’d that happen?
Vilmos finally killed me.
Devaki trusted Azriel implicitly. She had done so ever since he brought Sitara to calm her down. She trusted his plans and his schemes, and so she did what he told her. She sought out the trolls that became their allies. That he managed to subtly control the trio that wanted to ruin his plans assured her that he was right.
When he told her that the game he had Sitara create would keep them together, keep her from having to leave to follow the draft of the Emperor Anathematic to steal her and her Mindgrip away, she trusted him. He said if they won the game, he would become the emperor and there would be no order to separate her from him and her moirail and lose the sanity she’d gained. She wanted him to be emperor; she wanted to be his right hand. She trusted him and made sure all the trolls joined the session.
So when he found her on Sitara’s Land of Magic and Knights and told her she had to die, she trusted him.
When he said she should let Vilmos kill her, she tried and failed to keep from reaching up to her ear. He patted her on the head for a long time, told her to go back to the Land of Dusk and Cloaks, and promised he’d be watching over them.
Vilmos was the Heir of Rage. He had heard the voices of the dead since his youth, and he roared at her when he arrived.
“You fucking highblood!” he shouted. “Do you know how long your kind have held down mine?”
She said nothing.
“The voices told me about the Assassin! They told me about Lostedge and how she was the one who slaughtered lowbloods left and right for the Emperor Anathematic! They told me how it was the lowest of the lowbloods who was supported and fought against you proudly! And do you know what they called her? They called her the Champion! Mahima’s ancestor—a mutant just like her—and she was the one everyone loved! She didn’t even have a name, but she was the one who the lowbloods listened to!
“And after she was killed for spreading revolution, it was the Outsider who took up the cause! My ancestor went after yours for killing his matesprit—and I’m going to kill you before you can do that to Mahima!”
She closed her eyes moments before the tails of his whip slashed them out. When her head rocked back with the pain, the whip came again and cut her throat. She stumbled away, clutching at her neck and feeling blood run between her fingers. Vilmos charged and tackled her. He pounded his fists against her chest and stomach, breaking as many bones as he could find. When his satisfaction was still not found, he rolled her over, stood up, and stomped on her back to break her spine.
There was just enough in her to reach out and slip the Mindgrip around his thoughts. He laughed because she whispered to his mind that he should. He spat on her broken back of his own volition, but he left her where she was because she sent him away.
For what felt like a very, very long time, she lay alone and dying. The pain eventually faded into numbness; she had stopped feeling her legs the moment he stomped down. Just when she thought she couldn’t face death alone, a hand patted her head.
“It’s okay, sister,” Azriel murmured. “Hang on a little longer.” He paused. “I’m sorry for this.”
She didn’t understand until he picked her up. Had she been able to, she would have screamed with the pain that rushed back with the movement of her shattered body. He arranged her carefully in his arms and started off. It was only moments in her perception before he was setting her on smooth, level stone. He stayed beside her and kept his hand on her head.
“You’re going to die now, Devaki,” he said. “It’ll be like going to sleep. Breathe nice and slow. Do that for me, sister.”
She did her best. She wished Sitara was there; she was shaking, but she didn’t know if it was from pain or from fear. She had never really felt either before.
“I have to get off your quest bed now,” he said. “But when you wake up, I’ll be up there on Skaia with you. You’ll be just fine.”
She managed to nod.
His hand went away.
Devaki opened her eyes again and saw Azriel standing below on the black and white checkered field, waving and grinning. Slowly, she realized she was flying. It made her smile.
he seriously had you go get beaten to death?
and you just let all that happen?
I said I trust him.
You have to die to reach god tier.
It would have happened sooner or later.
jesus christ devaki
why’d you have to get BEATEN to death?!
Azriel wanted Vilmos to kill me to teach him a lesson.
That I’m not my ancestor. None of us are.
We’re not trying to do the same thing as them.
If we wanted to hold some grudge, fine.
But no matter how much he fights us he won’t ever win.
We’d always come back.
It made him flip his shit the next time he saw me, so it
yes i’m fucking crying
you just told me you were BEATEN to death for no good fucking reason
so you’re saying we’re following the lead of an asshole who would let a person he calls his sister and his right hand just DIE to teach another asshole a stupid lesson
that’s really comforting
Amie, it’s not like that.
what’s not like what dev?
Azriel’s not an asshole.
He knew I’d come back.
You can only die in god tier if it’s a heroic death or if it’s just.
It wasn’t either for me.
you weren’t a fucking god then!!
you were just a mortal who could have died and never come back and never won and never started to
you fucking died okay?
it’s gonna make me upset
because you died
you died in a really horrible way
But I’m alive now.
If you’re scared about it hurting, I
devaki jesus christ
it’s because it was you
that’s what makes me upset
you really are stupid
I know that.
You don’t have to keep fucking repeating it.
Just tell me why me dying makes you upset.
<3 is why
devaki for god’s sake
please don’t leave me alone right now
look i’m sorry i said it!
i take it back!
if you’re not talking in my head all i hear is the singing!
please don’t leave me alone!
i take it back i take it back I TAKE IT BACK!
why the fuck shouldn’t i cry?!
you’re telling me this awful story and i feel so bad for you and you’re just shrugging it all off like it doesn’t matter!
you’re probably just thinking that i’m an overreacting idiot because that’s just how troll life works and i just don’t understand because i’m a fuck-wit who doesn’t understand anything!
but i do get it and i understand but it still just makes me so upset and scared for you!
and then when i do the stupidest possible thing and fucking tell you why it is that i’m so upset you do the completely normal thing and ignore me because i am a stupid fucking child!
that’s all i am!
a stupid fucking child!
and stupid fucking children don’t get to be happy!
STOP LISTENING TO THEM
YOU’RE LISTENING TO THEM
YOU’RE LISTENING TO THEIR LIES
THEY’RE TRYING TO MAKE YOU FAIL
THEY’RE TRYING TO HURT YOU AND
THEY ARE MAKING YOU CRY
THEY’RE THE ONES
don’t leave me alone with their singing!
yeah they’re making me cry!
they scare me!
but so do you when you flip out like this!
i’m scared enough thinking about the plan because i know every last way it could fail!
i can deal with it if you don’t like me or are flushed for me or whatever trolls do
just please don’t punish me for being honest
you said you were going to help me
know how to not scare people
I don’t want to scare you
devaki because what?
I mean it.
a little longer, okay?
We’re almost there.
So please don’t cry.
you’re here in our session, right?
and you’re on losac
can i see you before we do it?
can you let me wake up and see you?
I don’t know.
But if I can’t, I want you to know something.
I won’t let it hurt.