You barely remember the first grip of your hand on the rock wall. The hazy look up at infinity and a plateau you will never reach. The half-remembered words of your executioner echoing in your mind, “The punishment shall fit the crime.” You climb and time passes. The length in time becomes so large that you begin to lose track. Then, you protect yourself by losing your sanity.
Your madness protects you from the endless time and repetitive motions. It protects you from the feeling of thousands of epochs and an untold number of civilizations that have risen and fallen since you began. Eventually, even madness is not a defense. The impossible winds begin to scar your flesh as the sands of time scrub your mind.
Your mind blanks and you become a simple machine, repeating the same actions over and over again. Hand up. Strong grip. Leg up. Safe hold. Change is your enemy, for change brings awareness and madness once again.
Then, you stop. Or, maybe you finally notice you have stopped. How long has your hand been on a flat surface? Days? Years? Millennia? Your awareness slowly returns to you. Soon, the barest wisps of a broken mind return to some semblance of sanity. The ages have stripped away much.
As you slowly heave yourself up to the top, your eyes see a city. An impossible city that is as constant as stone yet as mutable as water. A memory flickers to the surface. A name. An eternal name. Sigil, City of Doors.
You stretch your arms and realize there is a weight upon your shoulders. A pack. It has been so long, you had forgotten. You open it and see a formless mass of metal about the size of your fist. You realize this was once your weapon and a heavy feeling strikes your chest. This weapon was tied to you. Part of you. As such, it has become as weakened as you. Not even the image of its previous form holds within your memory.
You sigh, whether because of the finished climb or the feeling of loss, you don’t know. Then, you begin to walk.
You walk for what seems like hours. Or maybe minutes. Or maybe seconds. It is hard to really tell. As if time is both stubbornly unyielding and playfully pliable at the same moment. Then, suddenly, you are within the city. You don’t remember opening a gate or climbing a wall. It is as if you were always within its twisted streets.
You eventually find yourself in the markets. You browse its offerings, looking for items you may need on your journey. A growl soon escapes you, not from your mouth but from your stomach. It is the beginning pangs of hunger. Although, it is not exactly the hunger you remember. A different hunger once consumed you, but now, only the base hunger for food now demands your attention.
As you walk to a stall selling what look like the remains of dead rats with ridiculously large skulls, you notice a change in the air. The various travelers around you begin to run and the merchants hide beneath their stalls, leaving their wares unattended. You turn around, curious about what could cause such a ruckus and see what could only be described as the avatar of authority.
Before you, floating a few inches from the ground, is a tall regal woman whose presence seems to make even nearby buildings almost kneel in fear. Enveloping her is a brown robe made of an eternal tide of folds that flow in and out of her billowing form. The only part of her not covered by the seemingly living fabric are her hands and her face.
Her hands look like they are made of woven brass and although they look delicate; you could feel they could crush a building with one flick of her finger. Or perhaps, she could simply point at it and order it to die.
Her face was as hard as stone. It was a visage of overwhelming power that would even make a god quake in fear. Surrounding it was a mane of blades that seemed to cut reality itself.
As you stand there, your shock overcoming your urge to flee, she slowly raises her hand and you are overcome by a flash of dark light. You know you are being taken. To where, you could not guess. But you know one thing for certain; you are in for a world of pain.
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