Chapter 1 - The Daughters of Sarghress

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The Daughters of Sarghress
Moonless Age chapter
Postcard Chapter 1 - The Daughters of Sarghress.png
Main characters
Related locations
Related factions
  • Val'Sarghress
Sidestories
  • Machike's Conquest

Chapter 1 of Moonless Age features the childhood of the young Ariel Val'Sarghress. The chapter tells the story of her upbringing with the cruel Syphile, her tenth birthday, and her first meeting with her mother, Ill'haress Quain'tana Val'Sarghress. At the end of this chapter, it is decided that Ariel will go to school in the male section of the Orthorbbae, under the care of Kel'noz Val'Sarghress.

The sidestory of the chapter, Machike's Conquest[1], details Quain'tana's conquest of Machike'Shikumo in the early days of the Sarghress clan.

Summary

Ariel's Birth

The chapter begins one year after the Nidraa'chal War, with Quain'tana Val'Sarghress transfering a newborn baby into the care of Syphile Val'Sarghress in the halls of Mel'arnach's lair. She informs Syphile that child is of her blood, instructing her to raise the baby well or to consider her own life forfeit. Syphile agrees, hoping to secure forgiveness by accomplishing the task. As Quain'tana turns to leave, Syphile inquires as to the baby's name. After a brief pause, Quain'tana names the child Ariel.

Syphile and Kel'noz's Tutoring

10 years later, the young Ariel spends her time reading glorified stories of Quain'tana's conquests alone in her room. She stirs with excitement over her upcoming tenth birthday, on which she would finally meet her mother, Quain'tana, for the first time. She eagerly dreams of following in Quain'tana's footsteps, having the chance to see what lies outside of the fortress walls. Her daydreams are interrupted by Syphile, who barges into the room in a particularly foul temper, abusing Ariel physically and verbally. Leaving Ariel a book to study, she threatens to feed the girl to Mel'arnach if she failed to complete this assignment on time before storming out of the room in a bitter anger.

As Ariel struggles to understand the book, she remembers that her brother Kel'noz was coming home from Orthorbbae that very day. Racing to his quarters to meet with him, she hides in the hallway until he returns. Surprised by her sudden appearance, he finally calms her down enough to understand her request to help with her studies. As he opens the book Syphile requested Ariel study, he discovers to his disgust that it is a dictionary. Agitated by Slyphile's incompetence in teaching a small child, he instead opts to read Ariel more accurate history stories of the Sarghress clan's origins, though she falls asleep shortly into the lesson. When Ariel awakens, she finds that her brother has brought her an early birthday gift - a kitten that she quickly names Fuzzy.

Fuzzy

As Kel'noz leaves to attend to his duties, Ariel is overjoyed with her new pet and runs off to play throughout the fortress. After a quick visit to the kitchen to steal some cookies for herself and her new friend, the pair happen upon the spidery entrance to Mel'arnach's lair. They catch a glimpse of a massive spider lurking in a forbidden level of the halls, and Ariel fearfully snatches Fuzzy and runs back to her chamber.

They return to find Syphile waiting, who scolds Ariel for leaving her room without permission. Ariel tries to hide Fuzzy from her hostile caretaker, but the kitten squirms free, causing Ariel to beg to be allowed to keep her new pet. Though outwardly calming, an enraged Syphile locks Ariel in her chambers as punishment. Without access to proper food or waste disposal, Fuzzy quickly grows ill as the days pass with no reprieve. Syphile finally comes for Ariel a week later, by which time the room is filled with the stench of the poor creature's refuse. Sporting an unexplained bruise over her eye and already in a foul temper, Syphile is enraged by Ariel's explanations for the state of the room. As Syphile grabs Fuzzy from away from Ariel by his tail, the frightened animal bites her hand, causing Syphile to throw the poor creature against the wall. An angered Ariel attempts to fight back against Syphile, but is quickly beaten to the ground. Syphile then throws the lifeless corpse of the cat into Ariel's lap, demanding the sobbing Ariel clean the resulting mess. Devastated and enraged, Ariel sneaks into Syphile's room and defiles it. Though she attempts to hide from her sister's wrath, a furious Spyhile finds her and locks her in her room until the day of Ariel's review arrives, threatening to kill the slave that brings her food should she attempt to leave.

Ariel's Review

Weeks later, on the morning of Ariel's 10th birthday, Syphile goes to retrieve Ariel. To her surprise, she finds Ariel standing spitefully in the doorway, silently glaring. As Syphile undertakes a last-minute attempt to make Ariel presentable, then proceeds with her charge on their walk to Quain'tana's throne room. Ariel refuses to keep her hair pulled back neatly the way Syphile wants her to, only provoking Syphile further with her passive resistance. When they arrive in Quain'tana's quarters, the mighty Ill'haress is in a meeting with Kel'noz, Koil'dorath, and a group of engineers marketing a new form of mana gauntlet. As Syphile speaks up to gain an irritable Quain'tana's attention, Kel'noz reminds the mercenary Queen of her Daughter's review. Quain'tana promptly dismisses those present except Kel'noz and Syphile for Ariel's review.

As Syphile meekly awaits her decision, Quain'tana coldly studies her daughter, her first words "Is she normal?" As Syphile replies that she is, and Quain'tana asks the scared Ariel what her most desired goal would be. Caught off-guard, Ariel thinks for a moment before crying out that her wish would be to kill Syphile, much to Syphile's alarm. Quain'tana smiles at the child's audacity, then sharply commands she do so on the spot. Ariel stammers that she is too young and too small, displeasing Quain'tana greatly. She sternly lectures Ariel that the world will not going to wait for her to grow up before throwing hardships in her path, and she is not worthy to bear her name with such meek excuses. Turning her attention to Syphile, she reprimands the young woman for not only failing to raise a capable heir, but fostering the child with a desire to kill her. Refusing to declare Ariel as her daughter, Quain'tana decided that another tutor would be found in Spyhile's stead to raise Ariel as a proper Sarghress.

Crushed by the decision, Ariel runs crying from the room. Before Syphile can follow, Quain'tana orders her to remain. As Kel'noz quickly deduces and informs Quain'tana of the ineffective and harsh methods Syphile had been known to use with Ariel, Quain'tana places the blame for the failure squarely upon Syphile, concluding that the child was likely salvageable if given to the care of a more competent tutor. As Quain'tana and Kel'noz brainstorm possible replacements to Syphile to determine how to best raise Ariel, Kel'noz suggests the possibility of utilizing a male tutor. An amused Quain'tana listens as Kel'noz makes an argument for bringing Ariel with him to the male section of Orthorbbae. Though the plan would involve breaking tradition and a great deal of secrecy surrounding Ariel's identity, it would keep Ariel safe from the hands of the Vel'Sharen, as well as those within the clan that might seek to manipulate her to their own ends.

Going to School

Outside, Ariel awaits the decision of Quain'tana as a furious Syphile walks past. Dismissed from her position as Ariel's caregiver, she instead vents her frustation by striking her own hapless servant. Shortly afterward, Kel'noz arrives and comforts the shaken child with a mana illusion. He then offers to take Ariel far away from the fortress and become her tutor, under the condition that she follow his commands exactly. An ecstatic Ariel emphatically agrees and runs off to pack her belongings. On her way back from her room, she encounters Mel'arnach, the boogeyman of the Val'Sarghress clan. Escaping her bonds with High Sorcery and briefly incapacitating her guards, Mel'arnach warmly approaches Ariel. As she hugs the girl tight, spiders dangle from her hair, terrifying the poor girl and causing her to scream loudly. Immediately, a contingent of guards under the command of Lulianne arrive, forcing Mel'arnach to surrender and regaining control of the situation. Ariel abandons her belongings and flees to Kel'noz, informing him of Fuzzy's death and Mel'arnach's actions. Pausing briefly to comfort the young girl, Kel'noz collects Ariel's belongings and the pair leave the fortress together for the first time in Ariel's life.

Sar'nel

Elsewhere, a dutiful boy of roughly Ariel's age named Sar'nel receives a book from his older sister and tutor, Nei'kalsa. Unaware of Ariel's previous ownership of the book, he opens it only to find the inside of the book filled by with crude doodles of cats and a dead caricature of Syphile.

Extra Arcs

Machike's Conquest

Siege of Machike, Year 704 Moonless Age

Centuries before the start of the main story, the Sarghress mercenary band lays siege to the fortified town of Machike'Shikumo. Under the leadership of Quain'tana the Wolf, the Sarghress forces succeed in routing the defending forces, forcing them to retreat behind the wall of the fortress. Though a dokkalfar commander stands her ground with sorcery, challenging her Sarghress opponents to a duel, Quain'tana scoffs at the notion. Opting to have her archers to shoot the Nimael to death from a distance, she rides her tiger mount over the corpse and past the perimeter walls, continuing to press the assault.

From his vantage in the fortress' citadel, Lord Rosof orders the gate sealed with sorcery and he heads down to the walls to deal with the matter personally. Arriving as the Sarghress prepare to charge, he has the gate opened once more and strides forth to parlay with Quain'tana face-to-face. Though he derides her lack of honor in ignoring Nimael's request for a duel, Quain'tana remains dismissive of the value of the old ways. Seeing little alternative, he challenges Quain'tana to a duel to determine the fate of the fortress. Amused by his audacity, Quain'tana accepts. Though Rosof fights valiantly, he is outmatched and defeated with the loss of an eye.

Forging an Alliance

Though Rosof's soldiers initially attempt to intervene, to the annoyance of Quain'tana, he promptly orders them to stand down and honor the outcome of the duel. Defeated, he lectures Quain'tana on both her lack of balance and true wolves to ride into battle, offering to trade his knowledge of giant surface wolves in exchange for the lives of his conquered people. Impressed by his guts and loyalty to those under his command, Quain'tana accepts this proposal, uniting the two forces.

Many years later, the partnership between the two leaders has grown into a trusting friendship. Now possessing mighty war wolves to ride into battle, the Sarghress stand poised to ally with the Val'Sullisin'rune to secure their people's place in Chel. Though Quain'tana expresses her distaste at the prospect of allying with a great clan and her emerging role as politician and figurehead of a clan, Rosof assures her that these responsibilities are the price she pays for her people and that she will adapt in time.

Characters

Main Characters

Portrait Ariel Val'Sarghress arc1.png
A young girl who is coming of age in the Val'Sarghress clan.
Portrait Kel'noz Val'Sarghress.png
Ariel's older brother and mentor, selected to replace Syphile as Ariel's caretaker.
Portrait Quain'tana Val'Sarghress.png
Ariel's mother and Ill'haress of the Sarghress Clan. She reviews Ariel on her tenth birthday to determine her fate within the clan. Prominently features in Machike's Conquest.
Portrait Syphile Val'Sarghress.png
Ariel's abusive caretaker, preparing Ariel for review on her 10th birthday.



Supporting Characters

Portrait Fuzzy.png
The cat given to Ariel by her brother Kel'noz as a birthday gift, slain by Syphile.
Portrait Mel'arnach Val'Sarghress.png
The boogeyman of the Val'Sarghress clan. She briefly latches on to Ariel when she escapes her bonds.
Portrait Rosof Tions Sarghress.png
Appears during Kel'noz's recollections of the clan's founding, as well as the Machike's Conquest sidestory.



Other Characters

Portrait Ash'waren Val'Sullisin'rune.png
Appears during Kel'noz's recollections of the clan's founding.
Portrait Koil'dorath Nori'fu Val'Sarghress.png
Seen in a meeting with Quain'tana when Ariel arrives for her review.
Portrait Lulianne Mae'yukir Sarghress.png
A guard captain that helps subdue Mel'arnach.
Portrait Mandroga Nori'fu Sarghress.png
Features in the Machike's Conquest sidestory, serving alongside Quain'tana.
Portrait Nei'kalsa Tions Sarghress.png
Seen aiding Sar'nel his studies at the end of the chapter.
Portrait Nimael.png
A field commander of the defending forces of Machike, slain by the attacking Sarghress forces during the events of Machike's Conquest.
Portrait Sar'nel Tions Sarghress arc1.png
A young boy of Ariel's age who studies in a different part of the Sarghress fortress.
Portrait Seb'rath Sarghress.png
Briefly seen as the guard who picks up Ariel and Kel'noz at the gate to the Sarghress fortress.
Portrait Zhor Arc I.png
Is glimpsed briefly by Ariel in the corridors outside of Mel'arnach's chambers.





This article reflects events up to chapter 1.

Sources:

  1. Machike's Conquest