Aphotics were created as the counter balance to the Embers to protect The Word from the sentient beings living on Jord. As beings use the Word, it can drain the power system and damage it. When an abnormal drain is placed on the Word, an Aphotic is drawn to the location to attack and likely kill the being that is harnessing the Word. When an Aphotic is drawn to a location, the death of its target and the consumption of its lifeforce, taints the energy of the Word and it draws an Ember to combat the Aphotic and/or restore the energy in that particular section of the power grid. The Church of the Holy Sword and the general population of Jord refers to these beings as “demons”.

Aphotics can appear as a pale human with blacked out eyes or as a being of fluid shadow. They can manipulate their form to be as mundane or horrifying to their target as they desire, the limit is their imagination.

Aphotics can be Embers that have not been able to purge the unclean energy from their systems or magic users that have been overwhelmed by The Word to seek out and purge others that tap into its power. So long as the Word exists, there will always be an Aphotic to protect it. Those that have been turned into an aphotic lose their earthly needs and desires and are instead driven by an instinct to seek out and kill those that use the Word. That instinct taints the original personality and twists it to enjoy the destruction. Since their creation is a process of the Word, even if the Embers are gone, the aphotics will remain until the Word dissipates and Jord becomes devote of all life.

An aphotic toying with its prey
Art by Ariella Faul

Aphotics are the servants of Mara, the goddess of death and darkness. They are death made flesh, consumed by corrupted energy, they remove the living from the system with chaotic ferocity. They no longer are able to gain energy through the consumption of regular food and drink, they need to consume the energy of living things through transference. Their method of energy consumption is so traumatic that it scars the places they have been, leaving a residual echo of psychic pain that can only be freed through the intervention of an Embers.

Areas that have been visited by an Aphotic that result in the death of a person will leave a mark on the location by stripping it of its energy. This leaves the area feeling eerily cold and empty. But psychic echoes of a person's last moments can leave an impression behind that humans call a “haunting”.

Barren branches stretched skyward with skeletal fingers draped with stalagmites of icicles. The normal sounds of birds were distinctly absent, Unnur paused to listen. Silence greeted her, even the wind held its breath. She frowned as she pressed more urgently towards the house, something was wrong and the only way to discover the cause was to enter the house.

The afternoon air inside the forsaken house felt frigid despite the clarity of the sky and the radiance of the sun above. The warmth of the winter's day did not permeate the clay brick walls nor did the slim tendrils of sunlight that peeked through the holes in the straw roof fully illuminate the shadows within the house. Unnur let out a sharp exhalation and watched her breath hang suspended in the air. This place had been consumed; all the energy that gave the building its ability to sustain life had been stolen. Her eyes narrowed as she carefully sniffed the air as a thick metallic odor mingled with the pungent stench of rotting flesh.

The Northern woman's body tensed as she fully opened her senses to the spirit of the house. She had performed this ritual countless times but it still shocked her system every time she did it. It felt like her skin had turned to ice and shattered, leaving her nerves raw and bleeding. A fierce wind materialized abruptly and howled, deepening as it became the deafening screams of the small family that had once lived in the house. Unnur's skin crawled as the edifice pulled her through its nightmare and made her live the agony that stole its vitality away.

The augur fell to her knees, trembling and pushed against the earthen floor with gloved hands to steady herself. Tears rolled unbidden down her pallid cheeks to form muddy pools beneath her as the sounds within the house continued to resound in her mind. The voices deeply disturbed the woman as they pleaded for mercy to only be answered with cruel laughter and silenced with a wet plop. The cold air became sticky with the torturous slow deaths of the previous occupants of the house. The house spared her the faces of its deceased in their death throes, resigning to silence as it relinquished its hold on Unnur's mind.

Staring blindly at the ground beneath her, Unnur's vision returned with startling clarity to discover blood caked on the frozen earth and her stomach retched in violent protest. The urgency of her mission was becoming more apparent with each slaughterhouse she discovered, this man, no, this monster, had to be stopped. She closed her eyes as she tried to regain her composure from what she had experienced.
Excerpt from Radiance
  • species/aphotic.txt
  • Last modified: 2020/06/17 07:34
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