Lethe Sept 9, 2019 17:06:29 GMT -6
Post by Lethe on Sept 9, 2019 17:06:29 GMT -6
Age: Early 20s
Class: Assassin (2000g loan - x1 Celerity, Stilleto start)
Appearance: By and large, Lethe appears to be a fairly sweet girl, if a little eccentric. Usually wearing some variety of nondescript cloak or robe, wrapped in her almost total lack of presence, it's remarkably easy to miss her until you realize she's already standing next to you and you're not quite sure when she got there. Often smiling gently and prone to apologizing when bumping into others or only momentarily bothering others to ask a quick question in her girlish voice before leaving people be. If not for the slightly frail look to her face, perhaps the occasional oddity, she would hardly even register as memorable at all.
And while none of them are that large, there are a few somewhat memorable notes to her. Often she reacts ever so slightly wrong, her laughter delayed a moment or beginning slightly too early. Sometimes there is a minor nervous tick in her right arm when it comes out from under the cloak. She doesn't talk much or for long, usually only a question or two here and there, a smile and a 'please' or 'thank you,' and even the 'I'm sorry' in the wake of witnessing great loss never changes tone from the 'I'm sorry' she offers after accidentally bumping into someone in a dark alley, her voice always tranquil, calm, pleasant. In fact, that strange glassiness sometimes seems to emanate from her demeanor, even her face. You get the very vague idea that perhaps there is somewhere... or someone... else she would rather be. The smiles don't reach her eyes.
And her eyes are ALWAYS moving.
Beneath the obscuring cloth, Lethe herself lies eternally ready, her slender body a solid, compact statue of muscle from head to toe. As unnervingly fast as she is lithe, possessed of enormous stamina fueled by her willpower, even her borderline exhibitionist apparel is unnecessary to see that she is anything but an average girl. While mostly hidden beneath her outfit, a deluge of scars cross her body, each one a grim reminder of failure. Here, she missed a sword coming at her. There, the molten marks of torture for failing a mission. Were she to strip down entirely, she'd almost look more like a walking corpse than a fair young woman.
Personality: There is nothing underneath. The Lethe-self died a long time ago, bled dry by its own weakness; whatever she was before the cult took her is long since forgotten. Bereft even of that guidance now, the assassin exists in a strange hybrid state of self-awareness and nonexistence, not entirely sure how to be a 'person' but aware that she has very little to fill the gaps as she is. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Lethe understands what she is only by comprehending what she is not, or vice-versa if one prefers the chicken before the egg.
Bereft of a strong sense of self, with any interest in morality or ethics alike long since beaten out of her, she navigates primarily by cold computation and calculation; a thinking machine, a Mentat. She constantly evaluates everything around her, cataloging escape routes, makeshift weapons, vulnerabilities, victims. The milquetoast blandness that defines her behavior in public is a result of the lack of desire to cause unnecessary problems; Lethe is polite through efficiency, with a plan to kill everyone she meets. But it is that very lack of self that allows her to so easily ignore most provocations and accidents, shrugging them off as meaningless they are - not kindness but the avoidance of unnecessary trouble.
But to say there is truly nothing underneath is false, too. Even if Lethe herself would say it, believes it, there is somewhat more to her than meets the eye.
The thrill of the hunt is the only thing she really knows to bring her to life, at least whatever remains of Self, but one could be forgiven for not appreciating the irony. Lethe's nigh-obsessive lust for predation is a complex mess of emotion that bubbles up and can boil over the more intense a job gets, interfering with her usually careful and methodical actions to delve further into savagery; clean kills turn into a massacre as she tries and fails to hold herself back, though her mind never stops turning. Would that it did. As bloodlust tinges her senses, Lethe's priorities and computations shift to satisfy it more and more, a self-continuating feedback loop belying the imperfection of her conditioning. Especially if already worked up, this fevered psychosis reaches a peak upon reaching a target who can actually defend themselves, leading her to often intentionally give them a chance to defend themselves rather than truly pushing her advantage - though beyond that small window Lethe is completely lost to the moment, forever chasing the intense feeling of life and affirmation of existence that she can only truly feel in combat.
Perhaps unsurprising given her long, LONG history with bloodshed, Lethe was long since completely desensitized to seeing it, and it can be a tell when working with others that she reacts belatedly if at all to seeing or even inflicting it. While somewhat paradoxical or even hypocritical given her own tendency to mow through guards rather than solely focus on her target, though, she isn't as fond of completely unnecessary bloodshed, whether innocents or animals, which can at times elicit unusual behavior from her if she isn't dealing with anything else pressing at the moment, despite her usual conflict avoidance methodology.
Exposure to a world outside of blood and death has begun to change her though; she may not be aware of exactly what she is missing but Lethe dimly understands that she is far from complete, and slowly, clumsily, is trying to understand more of what she is and especially what she should become. Living life without others to decide what to do for her is an interesting challenge, and leaves her somewhat subservient and unlikely to argue in general, as well as prone to growing attachments to those with a strength of personality that she can sense. Not quite impressionable but dancing very close to it, Lethe is aware that she is likely to change significantly over time but not yet sure in which direction she would desire to develop, or even how to choose. Still, as of now she knows a grand total of two solutions to problems - fighting or fleeing - and applies whichever she calculates is more effective in the given moment.
History: Whoever she was before she became what she is has long since been lost to history. As long as she can remember, Lethe has simply been Lethe, and her only home the dark walls of the cult that has used her ever since. Her earliest memories are the torture that first began to shape her, indignation and suffering heaped upon her body and mind until they ceased to matter at all. Perhaps she does not want to remember, although that would be strange, because it was only pain.
Without any sense of the passage or time, she only dimly understands the training, the conditioning, she went through. Broken down into a willing husk, she was again taught to think, to feel, to be... but vaguely aware that it was somewhat different, and there was always pain to be found. Her training began not long after, first toys, then the real thing. Bones broke and were repaired through healing magic, rather than waste the time to let them set naturally. She learned quickly that not excelling in her studies was a promised path to ever greater pain, and so Lethe learned quickly that there was no other path than to learn and excel at what was asked of her. Wooden sticks were replaced with cold steel at some point, and the pain of a splinter was nothing compared to the wrenching horror of tearing flesh, fragile clothing little match for even glancing blows. So again she learned. But this time, there were two lessons, and she did not excel as well at them. Only one of them was true. One was that pain could be born, for it was only temporary. The other was that her body was weaker than her mind, and so it only stood to reason that her mind should control the body, and not the other way around.
In time, Lethe learned that pain was not temporary, and sometimes it could not be born. Perhaps it was one of the first fights against a prisoner instead of an instructor, a half alive man who sought her death and came very close to succeeding. Perhaps it was when she nearly jeopardized a mission and was very thoroughly reminded that her masters did not take kindly to failure, and they were masters of pain where she was but an adept. Perhaps it was the first time she experienced a sword to the gut, nearly bleeding out before being healed... and then introduced to pain that made the former wound feel almost humorously harmless. It all blurred together in time, as she aged, as hair grew and limbs lengthened and she stopped being able to fit in passages quite as small. At the times, words like puberty and growth spurts had no meaning, much as she had little frame of reference, only the knowledge that she was getting stronger and faster.
Somewhere along the way she stopped searching for meaning in it all. She started coming back from missions covered in blood that wasn't her own. They started to blur together until she couldn't remember what the face of the first man she had killed was like. Whatever had made it through her transformation finally wilted away entirely, and the Lethe-self stopped thinking entirely - freeing up the remainder of her mind for more relevant tasks as was the Mentat way. Messy kills became cleaner, then slowly they ceased to be challenging at all, almost rote, and in turn, for the first time she began to feel the craving for more. At least she had felt alive when struggling for her life, but now that she was large and strong enough to fight men, far too many simply failed to put up a fight at all. For the first time since she could remember, she bucked the harness - and was very quickly and effectively reminded of who was in charge.
When she recovered several days later, her body still burning from the remembered pain, though, there was more to do. More interesting jobs. She learned more about subtlety, about subterfuge. Suddenly her work became a great deal more complex and difficult as she began to meet people who could fight back effectively. Who, she dimly understood, were sometimes even important enough to be protected. It was not a painless transition, to real assassination work, but there were a great number of people in Elibe who wanted someone else dead apparently. Moved between cells across Elibe, her experience and body count alike grew quickly, rarely leaving behind traces. She was never really privy to the how and the why, but along the way Lethe eventually came to understand that she was helping earn money, that the cult was doing something very important for Elibe, and that gave her a strange tinge of something... good. Almost meaning. She would later recognize it as pride.
As the saying goes, though, pride goeth before the fall, and hers was an experience indeed for all involved. Brought before a council, or perhaps the council, she wasn't sure, Lethe was informed that she had been blessed with the opportunity to give her life for the cause, to offer all that she was to the Nether in order to be filled with something far greater than her. Surely there had to be some mistake. She had been loyal. She had learned everything they asked of her. She had become what they wanted. And it was then that Lethe finally understood that that was what they had wanted all along. Not a warrior. But a vessel. There WAS no meaning in all of the lessons she had learned. There was no happy ending, though she had long since ceased to hope for something as fanciful as that. Even her best had not been good enough, or perhaps it never had even had a chance to be, and so she was to be discarded with the rest of the trash.
Something broke inside her.
The first knife was in one of the council member's throats before anyone saw the movement, and heads were only beginning to turn towards the target by the time her first blade was already buried to the hilt in the throat of the handler who had brought her there. Her mind had already shut down, but the accursed calculations never stopped as bloodshed turned to butchery, each movement carefully chosen for maximum efficiency by a calm and uncaring machine that simply ignored any sense of regret or dismay. It did not matter if she had been betrayed. They were now simply Foe rather than Friend, meaningless words that merged into one as blade flashed, steel slivers sang, and the throaty crunch of bone and breath followed every movement. She was still spinning, completing the roundhouse kick to launch the corpse into the two approaching guardians to separate them, when the left blade drew a crimson line up the front and chin of the one at her left. Another knife flew true, but to the wrong target, a man who stepped in front of it without emotion before it struck his eye socket and he sunk lifelessly to the ground without a cry. The man she had been aiming for disappeared in a flash of light, but the struggle had already reached her again, and she was forced to focus on it rather than the fleeing council, ripping the right blade out from its fleshy sheathe to block a longsword, a block that graduated into a deflection that threw his blade off as her second weapon gouged chunks of the muscle in his leg out from under him, his falling body met by the upward tip of her right blade and a boot to the face to push him off of it.
A blow struck her, a sharp twinging pain in her side that was so very meaningless compared to what she had endured, and her retaliatory spinning strike nearly decapitated the man, only attached by a thin string, as his sword, stained in her blood, clattered to the ground uselessly. The moment of surprise was gone, the council evacuating, but the distance between them and her was far shorter than it looked and but a second later she was among them, silver and crimson entwined as dual blades cut lazy trails of blood and viscera through the air. She counted each kill, but there were too many partial blows, intercepted by flailing arms and attacks that she had to intercept rather than ignore, to be sure how many. There had been thirteen. Four were dead. Three... injured. The others had escaped. And she was still in a room with several very angry guardians, and more likely to come soon.
So she hunted.
They had raised her, but none of them understood what she had become. Lethe flowed through them, past them, and then she was gone, out the door. The first to follow lost his head instantly as she dropped from above, rolling out of the way of the retaliatory strike of the man behind him. The third was less lucky; the flying blade missed its target, savaging his chest and scratching the heart without quite puncturing it, leaving him to bleed out, though she was already gone.
The next skirmish was messier. She took two at once, bursting out from behind the barrel that had been a momentary, but the third nearly took her arm before she realized he was there and took a kick, two hasty stabs to take him off balance, and a cleanly executed dual swallow strike to neatly lop off his head, moments before the first arrow slammed into her back and sent her tumbling down into the bloody mess. She was nowhere to be found by the time the archer reached them, but the sound of screams wafted down the hallway not far away.
She had no idea how much of the blood covering her body was hers, and how much was that of her foes. Her left leg hardly worked anymore, her right arm was completely useless, even after she'd painfully relocated it from the first dislocation. She'd taken out the one that hit her in the head, or one of them, it was getting fuzzy, but it was getting hard to think nonetheless. And across every inch of her body, the soreness, the cuts, and the other injuries bleeding her dry were omnipresent to the point that she didn't even bother cataloging them only those that would impede immediate action.
Twenty-two men. That was everyone she had been able to find in the complex, smaller than she had remembered it being as a child. Rather, those were the ones she had managed to kill. Most of the council members had escaped, and she suspected some of the people who had run this place, but she had hunted down anyone too slow or too fool to flee. Not all at once. She was a good fighter, but not THAT good. But fair fights were for those who had the luxury, so it had taken every trick she'd known and a fair few more improvised.
The relentless automaton that was her Mentat conditioning soldiered on, pushing the broken body forward despite the fact that she was fairly literally a dead woman walking, but the resurgent Lethe-self could focus on far fewer things. All she could remember that mattered was that she still had targets left, a job unfinished... but also that this was the first time she had ever left this building of her own accord. Not for someone else's job. Not by another's will. But... her own. It was a strange and alien feeling. She didn't know if it felt good or bad or if everything just hurt too much to actually recognize anything else.
She made it about five feet from the exit before the ground came up to meet her and darkness swallowed all that remained.