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  • mrcookwrites

Winter's Song

Image courtesy of Games Workshop

Inspired by iconic Warhammer art and my love of the Tad William's Norns, I created a backstory for a RPG character. Whether RPGs are your cup of tea or not, I think you'll find this one interesting...


My name is Kusayu, Winter’s Song in our tongue. My people are the Shúatukí; men call us “Reapers,” “Soul Catchers,” “Witch Elves,” “White Foxes,” and—ironically—“Dark Elves.” Our epithet actually means: The Sundered. We were elves once. Now we are something quite different. We live at the end of the world, on the Binding Isle. Our legends say a god is buried beneath our land, bound for all eternity for his duplicity in the Gods’ War. It may be true; the bountiful land of ours is constantly changing from the great quakes that shake and rend the very earth. Our priestesses say it is the Bound One tossing in his tortured rest or vomiting his fury from the snow-covered peak of Mt. Týoku. The priestesses also say it is from him that the Blood Dreams come.

To the southwest, if you stand on the brow of the Bound One, you can make out a chain of islands that stretch beyond sight and thought. Upon these dwell a people that worship us as demi-gods. We taught them to speak and write, to farm the steep sides of mountains, to weave cloth for garments and sails to catch the wind. They are a golden-skinned folk with raven-black hair and eyes of the darkest brown; so unlike us, whose skin and hair are the color of alabaster. These worshippers of ours call themselves the Tohóngo. They will destroy us. I have seen it.

From a very young age I was aware that I had the sight. In sleep, my mind wanders the currents of time—when not caught in a Blood Dream. These dreams of frenzy are the strength of our people, making us demons in battle when the dreams come en masse. They shall also be our doom. After a Blood Dream, a Shúatukí must kill. There are so few of us that we kill Tohóngo. We implicitly demand that they serve us in both life and death, rationalizing that they have a short span of years and reproduce at a staggering rate. But like the cataclysms that periodically reshape our land, there will come a time when they overthrow us, bathing in our blood as we now do in theirs. I have seen it.

I am not young, but I have little experience with things beyond my dreams. Since my mother first recognized that I had the sight, I have been cloistered. Until two days ago, when I had my first Blood Dream.

As it turns out, killing a mortal man is not hard. I was shown how to use the Mishúma: twin curved blades of sharpened bronze with chisel points. He was alone, chopping wood near the shore where I had hidden my small boat. I surprised him and stabbed low with one blade while slashing high with the other. As I bathed in his hot blood, I felt his soul depart and grabbed at it as I was taught. I felt his life energy fill me, like poured wine fills a half-empty goblet. Elated and terrified, I pushed my skiff back into the breakers and raised the small sail.

Returning to the temple, I slept a sleep so deep I felt I was sinking to the bottom of the world. I had a Sight Dream of stark black and white; all my people were dead, skin as white and cold as new-fallen snow, lying in pools of blood turned black by the light of a moon. Looking down, I saw my two blades were covered in blood and my pale arms splattered with gore. Had I killed them? I peered within and could not feel any of the souls of those fallen. Then I saw the countless bodies of the Tohóngo all around, and I shook in fear. My people had all been slain by mortals, and none of us had remained to catch their souls for rebirth; I had been too late returning. The dream continued and my mind’s eye looked upon a God who blew a great, black ram’s horn as he shepherded the last spirits of the Shúatukí into cages from which their brightness would never shine again upon this world, or any other. The God perceived me watching and laughed.

But now I fathom his desire and will find a way, when the time comes, to trick him out of his prize. For I am Kusayu, Winter’s Song. Scy should have understood, before he chose to mock me, that the winter winds that blow off the summit of the world and moan through the dark pines of my blessed homeland are cold and implacable. I will discover his secrets and cheat him of the trophies he desires. The souls of the Shúatukí belong to us, and only us. So it has always been.

“So it has always been,” echo those inside my head.

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