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The People of Torment

Author: 
werelynx

Short piece based on Polish short story explaining why people have to suffer under „Lawful Good catholic god”. That story can be found here (only in Polish, sorry): http://adonai.pl/opowiadania/nadzieja/?id=9

Now this story shows a different approach on the issue and features places and characters from the planes and especially Sigil, the City of Doors. Only slight familiarity with the setting is necessary to enjoy the story and few definitions are presented below, skip them if you want:

 

Bleak Cabal

("Bleakers", "Madmen"), who deny that any belief system has any merit; as they see it, the universe has physical rules, but no metaphysical or philosophical ones, therefore any meaning in life must come from within. Their headquarters is the insane asylum of Sigil, called the Gatehouse. They are derived from real-life existentialists and nihilists.

(Definition taken from wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faction_(Planescape))

 

Dabus

Dabus (singular and plural are the same) are the personal entourage of the Lady of Pain. Though possessing the ability of speech, dabus almost always communicate only through visual rebuses they create, filling the air near them with golden shining lines (from which the name Dabus originates).

(Definition taken from wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dabus)

 

Lady of Pain

The name „Lady of Pain” did not come out of blue. Partially it stems from the fact that the ruler of Sigil can inflict truly enormous pain with her blades, but mainly it’s about what is happening in her very soul.

The Lady suffers true agony. Pains of heart, spirit, body and mind haunt her constantly. She suffers, because she beholds them in her subjects as invisible to the human blister on their skin. She sends pains herself, knowing that it necessary – necessary for the existence of Planescape and Sigil.

(Loosely translated from: http://polter.pl/dnd/Pani-Bolu-c1209)

 

The People of Torment

There was a Bleaker, who complained about his life. He complained, how hard he has it, his bid uncomfortable, too dark, too cramped, income too low, that other berks, with similar trades, earn far more jinks than he. He spoke, that others have easier to live, that they better deal with evil plane-touched, with difficult situations, never encounter blinds, and he on the other hand he fares badly and worse each year. He reasoned, that if he was born couple planes higher, or couple planes lower, then everything would have been different. He loitered always sad, disgruntled, demotivated.

Once, when he fast asleep, he dreamt, that someone was waking him. He opened his eyes and saw a silhouette floating beside his bed. Even though he never met Dabus, he knew, it was Dabus. He did feel no fear. The servant of the Lady stood above him, as if awaiting his awakening. And when he saw, that he was no longer asleep, with gentle inviting gesture he beckoned him to stand up:

- Get up please. – said the rebus floating above his head. For every Dabus communicates with rebuses emitted in any language they desire.

Cutter, not especially surprised with this, got up from his bed. He stood beside the mysterious visitor. He gazed questioningly and then the servant of the Lady displayed with smile:

- Come, please, with me.

Cutter asked him shyly:

- Where do you want us to go?

- You will scan it soon. – answered Dabus.

Follow is what he did. Dabus took him through his hideout, took him through the door and started climbing upstairs. Bleaker still did not know what path is this and what it all means, but dared not to ask in fear of Lady’s wrath. He was certain it was about some important business, that concerned him directly. He proceeded in silence after Dabus growing curious, where he was lead to. They walked for quite a long time before finally they stood before a stone archway, a portal.

At first he could not fathom wherein it could lead, but within a moment he recognized it to be the gate to his attic. Servant of the Lady opened the door and they came inside. Then he saw, it was not the attic of his abode. It was some enormous plane, wherever he looked balls stood and hanged midair – thousands, tens of thousands, uncountable amounts; the sphere were diverse, weird: huge, small and completely minute, simple and trimmed, transparent and glossy or matt and opaque, painted with few hues or joined into never ending chains. He gazed upon those balls. Every and each one differed. Sometimes it seemed as if he found two identical ones, but afterwards he would notice it was not the case, that they differed indeed with at least one detail. He noticed or rather felt that something was weighing down his leg. It was a very long chain tied around his right ankle. It seemed unbreakable and for its length and thickness of links it was quite light. At the end it had curved hook attached.

After a while, cutter overcoming fear of the Lady asked the Dabus:

- How come there are so many spheres here? Why are they here? Do they all belong to the Lady? What’s hanging from my leg?

He saw his voice:

- Those are Planescape’ pains.

- Pains of Planescape? – repeated the cutter, not making much of it.

- Everyone has some pains plaguing, fastened to their legs. – displayed the Dabus again.

- Oh yes. Now I understand, why there are so many and why each one’s different. Albeit why did we come here?

Dabus so answered:

- Lady of Pain told me to bring you here.

- Lady? - astonished cutter. - Why?

- You complain about your torment. You speak how hard it is for you to traverse the planes. Lady allowed you to come here and find a Pain, any that you desire and with this new sphere to go on with your life without complaint.

Cutter listened to what Dabus was uttering, almost not believing his eyes. He finally responded:

- Is it possible for the Mistress of Sigil to want to deal with such a berk like me? Aren’t you by chance Fell? – Could he truly be Him if he still floated over the ground? Admittedly he never met the fallen in the City of Doors, but..

- Lady really have sent me to you. – Dabus interrupted him.

- Will I be able to pick any Pain, such that I desire? – he asked yet again, still skeptical.

- For you all they are, sort and pick if you want to.

- And will I be able to go with it for my life? – he asked, wanting to make sure of it.  

- Yes. You can take it wherever you want, for your whole life. – servant of the Lady answered him.

Cutter knew already what ball to pick. Beautiful, golden and transparent sphere has been drawing his attention since the very beginning. Inside of it luminous fluid flowed as if it was liquid light. He thought: “Finally I will have prosperous life.” He asked Dabus shyly pointing to a small sphere hanging from a neb of his robe:

- Can I take it?

Dabus nodded.

- Yes.

Elated cutter grasped firmly the desired sphere in order to attach it to his leg, but to no avail. Ball was very heavy indeed. Despite that cutter was unwilling to abandon the idea. He gathered his strength and strained. None of this helped. The ball wouldn’t even budge. Surprised and disappointed he told Dabus:

- Too heavy.

- Try finding another, which will suit you better. – was calmly displayed as rebus answer.

He looked left and right and began approaching different sphere, golden as well, although a little bigger, that he saw earlier, too. This globe was somehow studded with smaller balls hued with all the colors of the rainbow. Reaching it he attached his chain to too small handle with much difficulty. He tried to make a few steps with his new weight, unfortunately this one was too heavy as well and moreover the little studs that he fancied so much would scrape and lock onto the ground.

- It’s impossible for me to bear this burden for longer time.

- You will find ball more suitable for you. Just don’t get discouraged. – Dabus comforted him.

Bleaker looked around and found a ball the size of orc’s head, colored differently. When he hooked it, it turned out to be heave and the way it was attached made the chain too short. He tried walking but the chain would graze his legs and make him stumble. Thus he put it back. Another sphere was taken, but it wouldn’t fit him again. He tried another and yet another again. With increasing nervousness he was no longer walking, but running around the plane seeking his Pain. Time flied and he picked and picked without end. He could not find what he sought. They were too big or the rings to which hook could be attached were too small, too heavy or the chain would bother and strangle his limbs or they were simply not to his liking in terms of surface finish or color scheme.

It was beginning to be apparent that he would be unable to decide, to find the right one. It struck him, that due to forgetfulness or oversight there wasn’t a ball made for him. And just when he was on the verge of despair, that he would have to take any ball, that was when he fell over flat on the ground on his face. He immediately noticed, aside from pain, that the surface was as silky as newborn backside. Certain thought began forming inside the mind of his. He got up. Yup, he was right, there it was, the handle he stumbled over.

- I found it?!

- I’m glad that you did. - responded Dabus. – This is exactly your Pain!

For the whole time they were standing on one big sphere stretching over to the horizon. As amazing as the dragon from Glauconshire, who danced can-can, but nevertheless true.

- But will I be able to pull it? I can’t an end to my torment!

- All of this plane belongs to you. All Pains here is your and yours only. – Dabus’ facial expression remained unchanged.

- I would not call that an answer. Why was the Lady of Pain interested in me exactly? Am I special? Do I mean anything along with the infinity of the planes of Planescape? Who am I? – he asked, worried.

- Every planewalker is unique, special. You are the center, axis.. the heart of Planescape. The will of the Lady goes on tortuous paths.

- Does my torment serve any purpose? – muttered cutter.

- There is the reason. What I’m about to reveal is the greatest secret of Planescape. – mysteriously began the Dabus.

- ... – responded Bleaker.

- Binder of the planes is the Pain itself, without the planes would drift apart and Sigil would crumble. It’s planewalkers like you and their torments are the reason of our existence. The reason for Sigil, for its Lady.

Migrate Wizard: 
First Release: 
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