2014 • Not long after her arrival, Lask began asking Belara questions. At first, she despised him for it, but he struck a chord one day when he asked her about Falient. It was clear she had cared for the boy, so Lask inquired about her relationship with him, and the boy’s father. Belara was silent a long time, and Lask wondered if she would answer at all.
“I always felt sorry for Tiermond,” she said after a while, “I like Viatrians, and he was as good as any of them. He was kind, hopeful, young, and bright when I first started watching him. I didn’t want to take him to Velserka, but a job is a job. I captured him and brought him to the she-Demon, where she poisoned him. She was good at poisoning people. He didn’t have a choice about going Dark. Some spirits choose it willingly enough, but not all. Velserka tied him to a tree and poisoned him with her breath and her blood, and he got horribly ill. Not all survive the poison. When the sickness passed, he was Dark, and he hated himself.
He tried to run when we first untied him. He went staggering back toward the theater where I’d captured him. He didn’t get far before he collapsed. Velserka sent us to bring him back. I found him collapsed in the dust, sobbing dreadfully. At the time, I thought it was a bit pathetic– after all, I was Dark, and didn’t think it was that bad. He struggled a little when we pulled him up, but eventually gave up and let us drag him, weeping all the while. His sobs quieted into the tears of despair. We took him back to Velserka’s then-lair, and he lay down where I told him to, then wept miserably until morning.
When morning came, I found him sitting by a window, staring outside in woeful silence. “There’s no sun here, is there?” he asked me. “No, it is Dark land,” I told him. He asked what we’d done with his pistol. I had it with me, and told him I could give it back to him if he wouldn’t turn it on us. He said he wouldn’t, so I offered it to him. He took it, and turned it over in his hands. He asked if I’d shoot him with it. I asked why. He said he didn’t want to live this way. I said it wasn’t always so bad. He cursed me and snapped that he had never wanted this. I said if he hated it so much, maybe he should shoot himself. He screamed at me and cocked the pistol, held it against his head until his hand shook too much, then threw it to the ground. I said if he were too much of a coward to do it, then he’d better make his peace with being Dark. He started crying again, and I left him there. He was weepy for days. It irritated me at the time, but now my heart breaks for him.
He was too afraid to take his life, and eventually he stopped crying. He grudgingly started working with Velserka, and turned into a gruff, sour man. He and I had an odd relationship. Sometimes it seemed like I was the only one he’d talk to, the one he’d seek out when he had a thought he needed to voice. Other times, it seemed like he hated me for bringing him to this fate, and I couldn’t blame him for it.
Later, when Velserka worked with Mortherik, he wanted Tiermond for breeding stock. He was an easy source of Light stock, though not the most powerful, so he was convenient for tests and experiments. Mortherik would send me to warm him up. The first time, Tiermond raped me with what might have been satisfaction. He told me, “You didn’t give me a choice about what happened to me, why should I care if you have one?” Try as I might, I couldn’t hate him. I think part of me thought it was my fault– I had delivered him to this fate; I had no one to blame but myself for what he did as a Dark man. I think he felt bad about it, though, because the next time Mortherik sent me to him, he said, “Let’s get this over with. How do you want to proceed?” He didn’t rape me again, but it would be a lie to say I did those things willingly. Neither of us really had a choice about it.
Tiermond sired many children through Mortherik’s experiments. Most were killed instantly. He never said anything about it. I don’t know if it tortured him, or if he were glad his spawn, the evidence of his fate, didn’t survive. I often got the “honor” of mixing the harvested ingredients. Mortherik liked to contribute his own blood and stock, but often I poured it out when no one was looking. I hated that Luminor, or whatever he was then. I didn’t want any more of him in the world. When Falient was born, he was a strangely plain and ordinary child. He didn’t shine like the others. Mortherik and his agents couldn’t tell whether the boy was Light or not to know if they should kill him on the table. Velserka told Mortherik they should wait and see. It didn’t take long for Mortherik to realize Falient did not have his blood. Mortherik was furious with me for it, but I didn’t care. After that, though, he had no more interest in Falient, and neither did Velserka. They foisted the boy off on Tiermond.
For reasons unclear, Tiermond left and took Falient with him. I think he may have been tired of living in the shadow of Mortherik’s evil and Velserka’s sly cruelty. He took to the road, working freelance. Sometimes we still worked together on certain jobs, and I’d get to see Falient. He was a small boy, and Tiermond was not kind to him. Even so, I knew that if food were scarce, Tiermond would let his boy eat first, and while he did little to keep Falient from harm, when the boy was hurt, Tiermond would always stop to tend him. I suppose he was as good a father as could be expected from the Dark. When we worked together, Tiermond and I seemed to have an unspoken understanding that we both looked after Falient. I’m not sure why, but Tiermond never seemed concerned about leaving Falient with me, or passing him off when Tiermond couldn’t look after him or didn’t want to.
When Falient was 12, we worked with a she-Demon who took an unpleasant interest in the boy. One day, Tiermond found her doing unspeakable things to him. Tiermond pulled her off him and shot her, killing her on the spot. Naturally, this created some loose ends he needed to tie up, so while he went to shoot the others needed to keep them alive, he left Falient with me. The boy was ragged. He cried and trembled terribly. His broken sobs reminded me of his father, and I felt terrible. I tried to tend him, but at first Falient couldn’t bear for me to touch him– perhaps because I was a woman, like the Demon who had abused him. I kept my distance a while, and spoke softly to him. I told him people had done similar things to me, and I knew how awful it was. Eventually, I calmed him enough he let me clean him up. His young face burned red as I washed him. I told him he didn’t need to be ashamed of what happened to him, that it wasn’t his fault or his choice, but for a while, he was badly shaken and full of shame. Tiermond didn’t show warmth, but sometimes I would be awake when Falient would thrash and cry out in his sleep. Tiermond would reach over to him, and squeeze his hand til he woke up, and would just say, “She’s dead. She can’t hurt you anymore.” It was the closest thing to comfort a Dark father could give.”