Black Record

The content of this post is a video feed. It’s been edited since its original posting, and now opens with a written statement in grainy white letters on a field of black:

Please do not fast-forward, rewind, or skip through this video. If you fast-forward, rewind, or skip through this video, you or someone dear to you will die.

What follows is almost sixty hours of: amateur puffin videos; early Alliance Tournament reruns; the mating habits of the hanging long-limb; mediocre food programs; extended clips from the worst, but not “so bad it’s good,” holoflicks someone could find; painfully bad Gallentean stand-up comedy; and multiple hours of somebody’s planetary road trip across a flat of desert hard pan as seen from their dash cam with fuzzy audio and remarkably unchanging scenery, the high point of which is three hours in when they switch drivers. Those who disregard the warning (or have the sheer ungodly stamina and patience to continue) past the 58:49:12 mark are treated to another note, similar to the first:

If you insist on watching, please skip to 64:38:12.

This note remains on display up until 64:38:10, at which point the feed shifts to another video, this one of a small, pallid, tired looking little wisp of an Achur (Aria, naturally) sitting cross-legged on the floor in a mostly darkened room. She’s barefoot and dressed super-informally in a knee-length charcoal gray shirt. Actually it looks like she’s dressed for bed, but it doesn’t look like she’s slept; she’s a bit hollow-eyed. Her hands are visible, and conspicuously unscarred or marked. Addressing the camera, she speaks quietly.

… Ave, pilots. And. … others, I guess. So. Um. What you’re about to see is …

She pauses, bowing her head, seeming to collect her thoughts or maybe just steel herself in some way.

It’s not me. … The video that follows appeared, posted from my account, on YC 120, seventh month, nineteenth day. It’s since rejected all my … my efforts to delete or edit it. I don’t know what it shows. But … I do know I don’t remember doing such things … or making a recording of this kind. I’m not sure what’s up with it; whether it’s loaded with some kind of malware or …

… it does kind of look like me, but, even if it were my old self the content still doesn’t make sense. It refers to, like, Amarr missions on Achura? Which there aren’t. … at least not that I know of. The State’s pretty protective about that kind of thing, and part of why we’re okay with being a client people is how protected we are. I can’t really see the Elder Visionaries allowing it.

Anyway, I can’t say what it is or what it’s supposed to do. And the content’s … it’s really bad. So. I’ve tried to isolate it as much as possible. If you watch it’s at your own data security and … um. Your own data security risk.

… and in case for some weird reason it needs saying, this isn’t me. I don’t even believe in magic to begin with.

I’ve tried to, um, ward this off, kind of, as best I could. So. If you watch it anyway… She trails off. She looks pained for a moment, then reaches for the camera. The clip ends.

The next, and final, clip is a video threaded through with some kind of distortion, and a sound, a splintery scratching, like the point of an iron nail being dragged hard across wood. The image is dark and of poor quality, and occasionally bends and distorts as though the image were being momentarily tugged off the screen somehow. Onscreen, a cowled form kneels hunched on a hardwood floor, sweeping her arm out around herself, gouging the weathered floor with what looks to be a spike or knife of some kind, her jerky, violent movements conveying more rage and hate than careful calculation as she tears a circle into the weathered wood. Other marks, or crude glyphs, more carefully etched (albeit with, probably, the same rough tool), circle its edges, and remain unmarred by the figure’s violent motions mostly by dint of being just out of reach.

After a minute or so, the flooring apparently scored to her satisfaction (if that’s the word), the figure sets the spike, or, rather, dagger, on the floor in front of her knees with shaking hands, and sets before her an odd double candle, a pair of twisting, intertwined tapers, one white, one black, their wicks meeting as one. She strikes a crude, sulfurous-looking match, and lights them. Her hand steadies.

Beside the candle, to the right side (the pale side of the intertwined tapers), she unrolls a scroll. The paper, or maybe parchment, looks ancient, but the ink on its surface is a chart, precise and carefully drawn, of stars and constellations. At its lower right corner, it bears in clear, hand-inked Amarrian letters, “Tamsagbulag, Danera V, YC 73, 10th day, 12th month.” On the left (next to the black taper), she unrolls a second, likewise ancient in appearance but relatively recent in content. Its margin reads, in Achuran glyphs, “Nasaha, Achura, YC 82, 6th day, 11th month.” Those with the background may recognize Achur astrological charts such as Stargazers use for readings; the one from Achura is typical, the other, an adaptation of the sort that might be worked up for the rare offworld visitor seeking a Stargazer’s insight.

She speaks, her voice thick with emotion even through the buzz of distortion. The words are in a rural Achur dialect, obscure enough to require a patch before a universal translator can make sense of them, but flecked with occasional bits of Amarrian.

My paladin….

You’ll never see this record. Not as yourself. You were curious about our folklore … and hidden knowledge. I was reluctant to show you such things.

But I’ll show you now.

She lifts the knife, that black shard, from the floor, with her left hand, and drives it viciously, point-first, into the palm of her right. Both video and audio momentarily distort; when the distortion clears, she’s transferred the knife to her right hand, and lowered the point to the Amarrian chart on her right. As blood from her wounded hand flows down the blade she begins to draw, a sanguine design of drips and smears and lines, messy in medium but precise in motion, focusing on a certain area of the Amarrian chart on the right, and connecting it to a similar area on the left.

My love … I’d never have called you such a thing, if I’d known the purpose you’d put it to. What did you say, to persuade the Elders?

You enchanted me, first, you know. Your kindness, your grace, your humanity, your humility … you saw potential in me, hope for me, more than a killer like me deserved. You gave me such hope. And then, through me, you found your way to our leaders … and I guess, you did the same for them.

I know … that you do as you consider proper. But this, this can never be allowed. Amarr missions on Achura! Our truth to face your cloying golden god … and myself, an accomplice. Her left hand balls into a fist. Her right tightens around the knife, still leaking blood. You used me to reach my people. To attack my faith. And I cannot … she chokes with emotion … cannot forgive you. Of the dishonors I have brought on my family and self, this is the one … I can’t bear.

So, my love, I am taking your grace … that wonderful humble spirit … and making it mine.

She drops her hands to the double-candle, and gives it a single sharp half-turn, turning black to white, white to black, and smearing the base with blood.

I will have redemption. I will rise to grace. I will have your good heart … and your life of warmth and love. And you, my paladin, my love?

You will fall.

The word is spoken with vicious intensity, a stamp of doom, and with that word she drives the still-bloody knife point into her left palm, gashing it deeply. The audio and visuals once again distort, and more severely. As the video swims back into some kind of clarity, she has set the knife aside. She holds her left hand cupped, holding the blood that wells from the gash in her palm, and with the blood-stained fingers of her right she dips a small, smooth, silver-black stone (the geologically-minded might recognize hematite) in the collecting blood, and presses it carefully onto the now blood-scribbled Amarrian star chart. She lifts another stone, and repeats the process, pressing another the stone to some carefully-chosen spot. Then again. She speaks as she continues.

… you will fall into the dark. Your self-assuredness will poison you, as mine poisoned me. It doesn’t take a genius to guess what this will do to you, my love. Especially egotistical Amarr tend pretty sharply towards certain ways of expressing their sickness—you’ll seek out that which will let you express your supposed “greatness.”

And, of course, the effects of this kind of ritual tend to be indelibly marked with blood. Who in your world uses that kind of motif? A humorless half-laugh.

And so … whether you spend your life among those limited fools or strike out into your own self-reinforcing loneliness, you’ll tell yourself you’re a Chosen one, even a prophet. Your every prejudice, instead of being examined, tested, and set aside as unworthy, will be enshrined as holy writ. You’ll remake your god in your own image, and your imagined god will not hear or answer you however you howl—but you’ll tell yourself that he does!

Even as the world flees from you in horror and disgust, you will sit in your Hell, your unending personal nightmare, all but alone, making excuses for the silence of your god and the emptiness of your life.

Maybe you’ll be happy there, my love. But I think, this day, the source of your happiness … passes to me!

The seventh and final stone placed, she lifts the cupped handful of blood above the candle. She lifts her face, and beneath the cowl is definitely and clearly the face of Aria Jenneth—wild-eyed, fiercely grinning, and feverish with malice. The blood on the charts and the boards between, the sigils etched in the floor, even the cracks in the floorboards seem to bleed a sinuous darkness that rises and curls like wisps of smoke.

Let this record, the anchor for this working, be all that remains of the life you could have had.

I did love you. But that won’t save you from me now. May this curse twist your fate and blight your existence forever.

Your grace is mine. Fall into Hell!

With this final cry, she tips her hand, drowning the twin flames in blood. A dark flood of distortion washes the image away, casting all into static-flecked blackness.

The recording ends.

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Achura wànsuì Caldari guó wànsuì (long live Achura Long live the Caldari State)

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I have no words.

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I feel like I am missing a large amount of context.

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Does this mean that the old Aria is back?

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Well, mark me down in the ‘concerned’ column.

That said, that seems like some rather serious magic, Butcher. You’d best look out for Bhaalgorns under your bed.

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Has anyone seen Lord Avarr lately? Someone please say yes, I certainly haven’t. Aria what did you rotty DO?

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Lord Garion is fine and well presently.

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Why would I not be fine?

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Danera V is Known to be the Home World of Nauplius.

:exclamation:

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Death to Amarr?

:thinking:

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A bit dramatic, innit?

Well, she hasn’t exactly been acting all too stable lately.

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Shameful. Absolutely shameful. Concerns will be raised.

So, did Aria and Luna have a falling out of sorts?

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Consider me properly concerned…

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Curiouser and curiouser.

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So. I’m going with the theory that Aria has called some form of Blood Curse on none other than Nauplius. I’m not sure if this is recent or took place some time in the past.

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The references to “Paladin”, and “a warm and happy life” just might not fit that…

Could just be me though.

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Wut she sed.

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Disturbing imagery and implications aside, I think enough can be gleaned from this rant to deduce that this recording wasn’t made yesterday. Nor was it made by the Aria we’ve known for the past few years.

The question is, why does it see the light of day now?

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