Welcome to Varial

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This was a punishment. One that reminded him of his dear friend, who was the first to take it. He pretended to be calloused towards the outcome. It was all done in the name of discovery. He knew the truth.

He closed his eyes when his hand rested on the cold black metal. The thick door couldn't hide the screams and rantings from the other side. Footsteps that echoed in the rocky hallway died down. Every eye was focusing on him as he opened the door.

They were chained to a pole on the other side of the room. It was no better than a prison cell made up to look comfortable. The walls were dug from the rocky ground below Queross. Black lines snaked through the dull stone, coming alive with white sparks like a heartbeat of the land itself. The bed was once a four-poster prize anyone would enjoy having, made of polished brown Kirwood and a mattress stuffed with duck feathers. Now, it laid on the floor in dingy pieces of fabric and splinters.

He ran a hand through his hair when his eyes focused on the maniacal laughter. She was a shell of the attractive and agile woman who once tumbled through the shores of Stej Pria, cackling as the Centaur chased her down. Her hair was matted in strings on her sweaty forehead and her eyes sunk deep into their sockets. Bruises covered her pale arms and legs, and blood caked her fingers where the nails had been scraped away.

One may think she had been tortured, but it wasn't so. This was self-inflicted.

A shutter of cold silver blinked open. Hundreds of tiny wires criss-crossed over the topaz iris. They pulsed with the same heartbeat of the sparks in the stone, staring at the poor wretch who looked up at him with a desperate recognition.

He took a few slow steps towards her, caressing her bruised cheek. Her head hung into his hand, closing her eyes and rubbing against his warm skin. He touched his forehead against hers and sighed.

"I think you've had enough." He whispered.

She groaned an answer, her throat raw from screaming and unable to form words any longer. Tears welled up in her eyes and spilled over onto her cheeks, creating clean lines in the steely dust that covered her face.

"I'm sorry." He said.

Black and blue clouds swirled around his fingers, growing into shadowy tendrils that snaked towards the woman. They stretched towards their prey, threatening to devour her. But they paused in hesitation, almost as if they knew what he was thinking. One eye closed and the metal shutter snapped shut as the shadows cradled her body like a Mother holding a child. The magic did quick work of her, ending her suffering with no pain and no memory of the last few weeks.

A body hung lifeless from the chains. He hung his head and sighed. There was nothing more to do.

Every time this happened, he lost a piece of himself. This was a punishment that continued sun turn after sun turn. It was his punishment to endure whenever one of them died.

"One of these days I won't have to see this happen again!" He growled.

His footsteps stomped on the stone and the thick metal door slammed shut with an echo that continued through the halls. David Lochner leaned against a cool stone wall, balling up a metallic hand into a fist. The implant was a failure, and she died for it. They must find out what happened and reconfigure the Technomagical constructs. Next time, a life could be saved.

He thought of the first time it happened. The vision of someone throwing themselves against the wooden walls over and over until their bones were broken never left his mind. Their timid voice loud and raving over discoveries that had been made in that prison of a bedroom. Their small, gnarled hand held up a chipped cup, claiming it was the Technomagical discovery of the age.

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