The Creation of Samsarras

The following short story is a creation tale unlike most by James Crane. For more strange and gothic horror pop over to The Crumbling Keep for Demon’s, Magical Trinkets, and more. They also have a Patreon that helps support these wonderfully ominous creations. Sit back, grab your snack of choice, and enjoy.

In the days of old, many cultures believed the world was created by demonkind. While the majority of the world today worships the dragon gods, there are still small pockets whose prayers are directed toward the oldest gods. In dark ruins and ancient temples on the fringes of the civilized worlds, those worshipers read from decaying texts, spreading the tales of the very creation of the world itself.  What follows is one such account…

In the beginning, there was darkness. The first being existed within it without shape or sense of self. The darkness was the first being and the first being was the darkness.

Ages passed and the darkness yearned for more. It coalesced and collapsed in upon itself, giving the second being substance. Thus, Jeragroth came into being. Aware for the first time in the darkness, Jeragroth sought to scream but had no mouth. The second being willed its own mouth into existence and wailed into the darkness. Unable to hear itself, it next willed itself ears. It heard its own screaming and was pleased.

The darkness was also pleased. Its emptiness was filled with the cries of Jeragroth, the agony of being never allowing the second one to be silent. Many more ages passed with only the darkness and Jeragroth. Ever did the screams become sweeter for the darkness. Its feelings for its spawn grew.

The darkness drew tighter around the second one. It seeped inside of him. He seeped inside of it. For a time, they were but one being again. When their copulation had finished, the darkness had produced offspring. Hence Jeragroth became the father of demons, the darkness their mother.

The union had produced a set of triplets. Luln, Lord of rage, was their son. Braxult, Queen of Death and Peace, was their daughter. Erethalion, Caln of Choice and Chance, was both son and daughter, and neither all at once. They wailed as they emerged into the nothing. Jeragroth was pleased, as was the darkness. It grew in its joy until Sribinet, the first realm, formed. Here they lived in their eternal torment.

Time passed in Sribinet and it did not, as is the way in the demon realm. The passage of ages was not as mortals would one day know. The three grew to adulthood, and they became envious of their parents. Luln wished to be father. Braxult wished to be mother. Erethalion only wished for change. Together, the siblings conspired.

One day, Jeragroth came to inflict harm on the three, for his pleasure and that of the darkness.

“Stand, my children, for I would rend your flesh. Stand, my children, for I would see your blood. Stand, my children, for I would hear your screams.

Luln sat.

“I will not, father, for I would rather scream in anger than pain.”

With that, Jeragroth charged forward in rage.

Erethalion sat.

“I will not, father, for I choose not to.”

With that, Jeragroth stumbled, his legs failing beneath him.

Braxult Sat.

“I will not, father, for I would see you rest.”

With that, she stood, brandishing a hidden blade. It flashed forward and sunk deep into his chest. He gasped twice before becoming ever still.

The siblings rejoiced, for their tormentor was slain. Sribinet now belonged to them.

Braxult took the body of her father, as was her duty. She reached into Sribinet and created an endless feasting hall made of wood and bone. She again unsheathed her hidden blade and separated Jeragroth’s soul from his body. She cast his body away from her with such strength that it left Sribinet and became adrift in the nameless spaces. His soul, she placed at the head of an endless table.

“Here you shall sit, father, until all is done.

Your drink shall be dust, your food shall be ash.

You will gain companions one day, and they shall be as you.

Silent and waiting, until all comes to an end.”

And there she left him to wait.

Erethalion had all they desired. All of the future had been freed from the time of destiny. All that had been sure was no longer so. They climbed upon a throne of sand with ever shifting grains. There, they waited.

Luln was free. There was none to stop his rage. All across Sribinet, he caused destruction and pain. Where his siblings crossed his path, they suffered. Where his mother was to be found, she wept from his fury.

And she was pleased.

The feelings between child and mother grew. Luln had wanted to become father. Mother, The Darkness, allowed him his wish. A second copulation happened, the screams and howls tearing the very fabric of being. Thus were the nine born during their fornication.

Where they penetrated each other, Yuzzdil, demon of lust was born.

Where they lost themselves in their lust, their minds completely consumed, Thathtil Grog Mezzserin, demon of madness, was born.

Where their claws pierced each other and blood was drawn, Yarlloth, demon of war, was born.

Where one would lash out, causing the other harm, Faqual, demon of fear, was born.

When they coveted each other, attempting to take more than they gave, Gul, demon of greed, was born.

Where they reveled in their prowess, knowing no humility, Ashtabula, demon of pride, was born.

Where they leaked into each other, infecting each other with themselves, Drexath, Demon of Disease, was born.

When they rested afterward, devoid of all desire, Nuremian, demon of apathy and entropy, was born.

When they regained their sense of self and realized that, despite whatever company they found themselves in, they would forever be alone, Bakuritan, Demon of Woe, was born.

The darkness and Luln had imbued them all with a sense of being. Luln appraised his new kin. He remembered back to his first moments of being, when he had screamed and cried into the darkness. He remembered the joy it had brought her. He decided to give his lover a gift.

He devised ever new tortures for his children and siblings, filling the darkness with their cries. Be it lust, apathy, war, or even death; Luln, the demon father, inflicted pain without beginning or end on his family, just as his bride did to him.

Braxult recognized the chain. Creator abused created. She reasoned that it was her duty to create and abuse as well. The demon of death needed life to fulfill this need. Only the living would fear dying, which would perhaps be their biggest torment. She stole some of the darkness and molded it with her bare hands. Soon, she had a mass of land floating in a sea of dark, though it barely stayed together. There was no life to be found on it. Braxult realized that, while death can give meaning to life, it can not create it.

She wandered the darklands alone, not knowing what to do. She came upon Yarllath, hammering upon a great anvil. The sparks shot off into the darkness, casting little patches of light.

“Well met, sister.” Said Yarllath. “Have you come to fight me? Have you come to glory in the letting of blood? Let us give our father a river of crimson. Let us give our mother the cries of the dying!”

Braxult smiled, for she knew a secret that none of the rest did. She would be there when they all died, for she was death itself. Though she lived in the darkness, she would one day lead it to its final resting place. Yarllath could do nothing to her.

“No, my brother. It is what happens after the battle that interests me. I shall soothe the loser and praise the winner. I care not for undecided contests. Mine is a place of resolution. Mine is a place of ends.”

Yarllath smiled. “And mine is a place of ferocity and honor. Be gone from me, sister. I think you weak.”

Braxult did as she was told, but not before snatching some of the stray sparks. Cupping them in her hands, she wandered away again, pushing farther into the dark.

Soon, she came upon Yuzzdil, writhing in the darkness. His/her moans alternated between soft and guttural. Braxult listened, but felt nothing.

“Have you come to love your sister-brother, Braxult? Come, and loose yourself in my thighs. Come and be filled by me. I will moan or scream or cry, whatever you wish.”

Braxult smiled. She knew that Yuzzdil would one day send many into her realms.

“No, sister-brother. The dead have no need for the pleasures of the flesh, for their flesh will but rot away. One day, lives will be lost for lust, though I believe it has other powers too.”

“The pleasures and pain of the flesh are all there is, Braxult. Be gone from me, sister. You are frigid.”

Braxult did as she was told, but not before collecting some of Yuzzdil’s spilt seed. Putting it in a little glass vial, she again began to wander.

Next, she came upon Gul sitting upon a pile of his riches. He eyed her suspiciously as she approached.

“Have you come to steal my riches, sister? Have you come to take what is mine and only mine?”

Braxult knew that while her brother always wanted more, he would be all too happy if she would covet what was his.

“I have not, brother. Though beings will one day be buried with their possessions, the dead carry nothing with them to the next realms. They will be born with naught and will end with the same. You will only know them in the middle.

“You lie, sister. Everyone wants something. Now be gone. I think you the fool.”

Braxult did as she was told, but she had lied. While Gul was distracted by his tirade, she had palmed a red ruby and a gold coin. Placing them in a small pouch, she once again wandered.

Eventually, she heard weeping. Following it, she came upon Bakuritan, alone in the darkness.

“You have come for no reason, have you sister? There is no reason to any of this. We our riddled by constant loss, yet even that imparts no meaning,” wept Bakuritan.

Braxult stayed stoic, no emotion on her face.

“The dead need no meaning, sister. The have as little need for sorrow as they do for joy. I have come with reason, sister, though it be unknown to you.”

“May you be next in line for father’s fancy, sister. May he torture you until you know nothing but sadness! Now be gone, I think you deceive yourself.”

Braxult did as she was told, but not before she collected Bakuritan’s tears. Soaking them up in a cloth, she went alone again into the nothing.

The air began to grow cold around her, causing her skin to burn. Braxult knew this as a sign that their sibling Faqual was near, but they could not see them. Braxult moved silently, trying not to attract attention. Ever was she certain that she was being followed. Ever was there movement out of the corner of her eye.

“Greetings, Death. You have become lost.”

The voice came in a thousand whispers, each one cutting into her mind like a knife. Though Braxult trembled, she walked onward.

“You are reminded of where true power lay now, yes? I can cause armies to run. I make warriors scream. Even death feels fear. Do you bow down before me, sister?”

Braxult steadied herself and stood straight.

“No, sibling, I do not. You are strong, it is true, but you are not real. Death is eternal. Death is actual.”

The whispered turned into a roar. “You are wrong, sister! Now flee, sister! I deem you a coward.”

Braxult left, but not before collecting ice from her siblings cold breath.

She did not walk long when loud laughter filled the air. Ashtabula ran forward out of the darkness to greet her.

“Hello, sister. Have you come to race me? You will lose, for I am the fastest. Have you come to engage me in riddles? You will lose, for I am the smartest. Have you come to wrestle me? You will lose, for I am the strongest.”

Braxult shook her head. Ashdula was none of these things, but he could not be swayed.

“I have come to do no such things, brother. Death needs not prove anything. Death’s existence is proof enough and it will someday drive beings to prove themselves against it. None escape it forever, however.”

“You are wrong, sister. I am the best and you just accept mediocrity. Now be gone. I find you to be inferior.”

Braxult did as she was told, but not before collecting the air from Ashdula’s boasts in a leather bladder. She walked again into the darkness.

As she walked, the darkness took on a purplish hue. Flecks of color punctuated with, the likes of which Braxult had never seen. Thathtil Greg Mezzserin sat alone amongst the swirls. Sheb plunged a needle in and out of her stomach, trailing thread behind it.

“Greetings, sister, lover, hornets nest. Have you come for prophecy? Or a song or painting? Perhaps you’ve come to hear my secrets that none other know. For instance, there is no real difference between a color and a sound. My name means bringer of poisons. My name means bones of the raven. My name means nothing. Will you come play with me, sister? Will you come walk in my fields and burn my mountains?

Braxult stepped back.

“I will not, sister. You, of us all, are truly more terrible than me. Your familiars will pray to be released into my care.”

Thathtil Grog Mezzserin looked up at Braxult. She flicked the needle and thread toward her.

“You will leave me now, Braxult, but you will take this needle and thread before you do. The road is winding and ever changing. The blood will be born with my gifts. You will know my poetry by its hollow bones. Now go.”

So Braxult did, silently and without reply.

The colors faded as she traveled farther away from Thathil Grog Mezzserin. Braxult was quiet and disturbed as she picked her way through the dark lands once again. She was lost in thought, a side effect of seeing her sister. The insanity was contagious and she struggled to shrug it off, her mind swirling in quiet subdued panic.

So distracted was she that Braxult did not notice she was no longer alone. Her foot slammed into something physical, pulling her back into her current reality. Looking down, she spotted Nuremian, sitting upon the ground. He looked to have lain there a long time. The skin on his ribs clung to them, his stomach distended. Though he could truly not die, Nuremian was starving. A hollow blank look hung in his eyes. He made not a sound, despite the impact.

Braxult’s eyes swayed a foot away from him. There, on the ground and easily within his reach, was an apple. His hunger obviously caused him great discomfort, yet he could not be bothered to eat. Braxult thought to protest, but realized it was meaningless. Without a word, she picked up the apple and left.

She wandered then for an age. When she had thought all that she needed to think, Braxult returned to her cold creation. Standing before it was Drexath. Her skin was covered in boils, her breath coming into her lungs in raspy gasps. She seemed frail, yet her strength was found in the frailty. She hissed out her words before Braxult had a chance to inquire as to her presence.

“You have sought gifts from each of your siblings, save me. You have stolen from them all. Gul must be pleased. Why, sister, have you not sought out a boon from me?”

Braxult lowered her gaze. She always found her sister’s appearance pleasing, though she was quite certain Yuzzdil had something to do with that. She hesitated for a moment before she spoke.

“I seek to defy my nature, sister, and create. I do not know that you have anything you can do to assist me. Ours is not the hand of making.”

Drexath smiled, stepping slowly toward Braxult. The demon of disease’s leathery hand moved to the demon of death’s face, crinkling as it caressed.

“You will receive a gift from me, sister, though I will happen after your creation is done. I will send to you countless souls over time. War will ravage them and greed with be their undoing. Lust will drive them into madness. Pride and Apathy’s kin will forever remain lovers. It is disease, however, that will offer a bounty unto death.”

Drexath leaned closer, her bloodied cheek wiping against her sister’s. Her mouth puckered and whispered into her ear.

“It is I who will fill you, sister.”

Without another word, Drexath walked away. Braxult watched her until she disappeared into the darkness. She starred in the direction for a long time. Then, she began her work.

With the needle and thread, Braxult strengthened her creation. It created great depressions in the ground where it crashed into this new world. She opened the vial of tears to fill them, creating Oceans and rivers.

Braxult hung the spark in the heavens and watched as light and heat bathed her creation. Next she hung the gem and gold piece so that they might reflect the light of this new sun into the dark places of the world. The light would keep the Sribinet from entirely consuming it, keeping it forever hers until even the sun and the moons died.

Next, she packed the ice along the northern part so thickly that the sun may never melt all of it. Then Braxult opened the leather bladder, leaking out the whirling air of boasts to create the skies. Into these winds, she crushed the apple. The seeds of the fruit spread out amongst the lands, causing food and trees to grow. This was followed by the winds blowing the northern ice down over the world, putting those plants to bed until it would melt and allow them to grow again. The world now had water to drink, heat to warm it, and food to eat. Her creation needed but one last thing.

She retrieved the spilt seed of her sister brother. He fingers smeared the paste-like substance all over the planet. There, the sun warmed it until it started to grow. Out of this ooze, humans, the first people, were born. Braxult was satisfied. The demon of death had created life. It was the life all others would spring from. She could not keep it secret forever, however. The other demon kind would find her prize.

Her kin soon discovered what she had done. Delighted, her brothers and sisters claimed dominion of this area and that, taking delight in torturing these newly made creatures. Yuzzdil kept quite busy inciting the humans, making sure the demons had a good supply of victims. The world, just like the Sribinet, was filled with the screams and tears of its beings.

Rolling Bones

If you are at all familiar with my system or the Homebrew that I make for D&D on my Patreon it should be no surprise that I want to bring some of that pagan old school magic out of the game and onto the table. Throwing Bones is referred to a type of divination where you cast animal remains and read their placement as a way to tell the future or possible futures so, Rolling Bones is a technique to generate your weather, encounters, and involve the players while doing so. I’ve always liked the idea of rolling bones as a way to tell the future, maybe it is just because at my heart I’m a creep and get all sorts of excited at involving my hands in spiritual work and taking that experience into the tabletop world is an easy thing for me to do. I don’t mean classical ideas of spiritualism but more of the type of ordered chaos we allow ourselves to live our lives in. I could go in depth on the math behind this method of encounter generation but in the end, it is about engaging the table outside of character sheets. To have something that physically brings everyone together and that bewilderment on what does it all mean. So, this set of rules more than being a tool for being a lazy GM/DM, it’s about engaging your table physically and mentally.  

You need a full set of die to Roll Bones, alternatively, you could just have 6 different objects at your table. They should be varyingly round and flat, not so much that it will roll off the table but enough where there is some planned variation on where they will end up after being. As the GM/DM, you’ll assign values to each of these objects. The flattest object or the d4 should represent the party as they have a solid base of cohesion (sometimes). That leaves you with 5 objects. Assign an object to each of the following: Hostile, Friendly/Neutral, Temperature, Wind, and Precipitation. Your most severe threat for the region should be the roundest of the objects or the d20. So if you are crossing snowy mountaintops maybe Wind, Temperature, and Precipitation are your killers. Maybe in enemy territory, your object/die for Hostiles will be the most common. In friendly areas (or occasionally randomly in hostile areas as the fates can sometimes be forgiving) make that object the Friendly/Neutral Token. Once you’ve assigned a value to each object/die call for a player to Roll the Bones.

They’ll cast the objects/dice before them and you’ll take a quick reading for your notes. The furthest object/die away is the main threat for the day. The Second farthest is an accelerant for the primary. If you can draw an uninterrupted line from the Primary Threat to the object/die that represents the party, increase the difficulty/weight of the situation. If there are 2 equal distant primary or secondary threats they both apply. For example, if the Precipitation and Wind die are both equally far from the Party object/die then both apply for the encounter.  If there are 2 secondary, narrate how they both accelerate the Primary Threat. You should be able to Read the Bones quickly and the players will be able to ponder the meaning of this reading. A call to Roll Bones can be done whenever but I recommend to do it after finishing a long rest. If you are underground or inside a structure they might be protected from some elements but precipitation could mean a layer of water sticks to the cave walls preventing easy rest, or wind could be noxious gas building up in the tunnels. This isn’t a method to give fully detailed out encounters for the day but rather to serve as a jumping off point for your imagination.

The party is adventuring through a mountain system infested with goblins. For this example let’s say our objects/dice equal the following:

20: Snow (White)

12: Goblin Warband (Red)

10: Cold (Blue)

8: Wind (Yellow)

6: Traders (Silver)

4: The Party (Pink)

By looking at the casting below I can see that the Cold (blue) and Snow (White) are the main encounters and since the secondary Wind (yellow) is the next farthest it makes the primary(s) worse. We have a perfect blizzard here. And since all three have direct paths to the party it will be a hard encounter. If 1 or more of them were blocked it would be an easier encounter.

 

 

 

Journey’s Start

The sounds of wagon wheels in the muck of a well-worn road after a particularly heavy rain has always made me a bit queasy. There is just something about the sound that is all too reminiscent of pulling a blade from someone’s breast, that certain combination of gushing and hissing like a dying man’s sucking chest wound lying in gasping silence. Really though, it’s the repetition of it all that does me in. I imagine what the demons must think after they’ve put the thousandth sinner on the breaking wheel, that repetition of screams must get dull and mundane after a while, let alone doing it for eternity. The real tragedy in this world isn’t that bad things happen it’s just how fucking easy it is for bad things to become mundane, brutality becomes a lifestyle that one forcibly adopts. I’ve seen men do terrible things, women to don’t think us exempt, in the efforts of making a life in this world. Most do it for as long as their souls will and just sort of expiring mentally. They’ll walk, eat, and fuck but their light is gone, doing the motions of what is expected of them. I swear I’ve seen rats capable of more creativity finding a meal than one of those living zombies has in a year.

You’ve been my closest companion since the old Lord died all those years back. Back in the days of warm meals and the closest thing to struggle was finding a chunk of bread that the little ones didn’t already take a bit of.  I think it was back then when the Lord had taken that final turn for the worse that I first heard you speak up, you’ve always been there but when the news came is when I first heard your voice. The only reason I was able to save up enough for this trip was you, you helped me do what I needed instead of wasting away in an empty keep hoping one day to hear from some distant heir. You talked me into plying my trade when I needed, offering a blade here or some poaching there. You never let me be satisfied dying in a gutter, drowning in some noble’s piss and shit. So here we are on the final leg, the last quarter mile until we get to the last dock this side of the world. It’s funny how they tell you that no-one has ever returned from Anuel and yet people talk of the wonders there and how beggars are kings and kings are beggars. Seems all a bit contradictory to me, how do the people know if you can never come back? Doesn’t matter really, I have no real need to come back, not anymore, you saw to that. You’ll stay with me, right? I’d hate to lose you now that we are about to be free from this past, these old rites and archaic lands.

I want to know who was the person who named everything after we started pill… resettlement of Anuel, who was the person who with a few strokes of pen scribed such grand possibilities into the minds of any kid who was fortunate enough to learn to read or hear stories of the great adventures and riches from the Port of New Beginnings, Phoenix’s Rest.

Phoenix’s Rest, who names a fucking city Phoenix’s Rest? Like anyone would buy into the idea of crossing a deadly sea to be reborn as some sort of spiritual resurrection. The people who are doing this aren’t saints or angels, I know I’m not, you know I’m not. None of us are born anew, we are just burying our past after firmly planting a spear in its gut. It does elicit an idea of hope, and for that, I can’t fault it too much. It’s why I’m going and I’m sure why half the people in this wagon are going as well. For some reason or another, we are all here from all stretches of the old world climbing aboard a Skervolk ship set up for a one way trip to the Anuel. No want, hope, or desire to come back and by doing this we are all branding ourselves as traitors to whatever kingdoms or empires we hail from. In that, there is hope, maybe even some camaraderie. Maybe, and just maybe it’s all true and we are all reborn from this, reforged if you will. Taken broken, shattered, dismantled and lit a flame so that the slag my drip off. Us who are left will be remade, new, and free. Maybe that is something to hope for…

PATION AND ANXIETY

The first knock strikes,

sending my comfort to

its knees, broken and

confused. Leveling my

peace into a rolling sea

with white-crested waves

battering the deck of my

reality, steadily closer

and closer to capsizing

the vessel of solitude I

relished my time upon.

Threatening me with

submersion into the

void inside my mind.

 

The second knock sounds

the report of an artillery

cannon on mark. A shot

straight through my gut

and into the very

foundation of my being,

lifting my breath into the

firmament of my home

as my gasp is raptured

by the angel of death

who narrates my every

thought with visions of

prophecy telling the end

of all things lies behind

that simple door. No

amount of lambs blood

will usher salvation as

the reckoning of each

and every divine, alive

and dead, was poised

as an axe waiting, just

to smite me where I stand.

 

The third knock was as a

blade and took my head

clean off as it cut through

the very fabric of reality.

Sending ripples of demise

and torment in such a

hellish crescendo that I

saw the world fall from

around my feet, leaving

me floating in the aether,

alone. Alone apart from

the rapidly elongating

tunnel of my end that once

connected my kitchen to

the outside world. An endless

swath of land now cackled,

standing before me in such

monstrous fashion, mocking

every single moment of my

suffering.

 

I repent! I re-pent my wickedness

please do not usher me to oblivion

this day! Just let me live a mere

moment longer, I can not take this

limbo, this unknowing, this

endless stupor of ignorance! If

not for what lays in wait behind

that oaken tombstone, I surely

will perish from this infernal

antici-

 

Been Away

Hello, I’ve been away from here for a hot minute for sure. Anyways I am back now and have quite a bit of content to post that I’ll be releasing in the next few weeks and months. I have 2 TTRPGs in the worlds, JARPS and NdiRPG, I just finished my 5e campaign so I can focus again on creating homebrew for 5e as well. This is just a short commentary on my absence if you want to get a hold of me for any reason email me at Brown.Eva.Mae@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter and Instagram as @evaoddveig.

Nature’s Warden – A Fighter Archetype

Something that has always bothered me about 5e is that the Ranger was always tied up in magic, even with all of the Unearthed Arcana and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything we are still lacking a character option for the nature adapted martial type. So here is one of my attempts, I’m calling it Nature’s Warden and it is an Archetype for Fighters. I chose Fighters because they are the only class that mostly avoids the classic high fantasy tropes. Honestly, I wish that there was 1 divine caster base and 1 arcane base and everything else was inherently martial. We have Archetypes now, why wouldn’t every class have a martial Archetype and a magic Archetype. It just makes sense to me. Anyways, this was created by looking at the Ranger and distilling the essence of a natural warrior out of it. I wanted a real outdoors style fighter who didn’t need to rely on supply lines or forts and guards. So without further explanation, Nature’s Warden.