"Nis-Scyir of Autumn, Court Assassin and Mistress of Poisons"
Lyliss was the most cunning of the gods. The counterpart to her healing sister, the goddess of Autumn was masterful in the knowledge of unravelling life, using poisons both natural and fabricated in the service of the gods. Lyliss was sent among enemies to bring their downfall silently. Lyliss was a charming and beautiful goddess, possessed of grace. She appreciated humour, even as her jokes were often cruel. As a goddess, she had dominion over Assassination, Destruction and Autumn.
Pelyth Rhysslyr calls Forgiliell by the Shyr name Lyliss. He exists at the centre of a circus of unlife, as puppet master to his sythyss and god over his lesser undead minions. This circus mocks the Divine Court, whose failure Pelyth blames for his fall from grace. His Sythyss, being self aware (although far from the people they were when alive) act out parts as he directs. Thus he has them dance around him (sometimes literally, but more usually figuratively) act as caricatures of the lost Gods of Ios. He especially enjoys the nerve-fraying annoyingness that is Lyliss.
Everything about her is infuriating: her haughty way of stalking about, her indomitable self-confidence, her careless dressing, her leaping eyebrows, her mirthless smile, her perfect nose and her eternal bray, "Why does everyone hate me?" Not to mention the crying jags. The other ‘gods’ are also part of this dance and they despise and insult her, in character, because she is Pelyth’s favourite. What no one seems to have quite understood is that Lyliss is a very good actress. Everyone hates her because Pelyth has caused her to want them to. She knows that if she infuriates people enough, their innate racism will spew forth. This may be quite a way from how Forgiliell would have behaved, but under Pelyth’s domination, each Sythyss wants only to please its master. Thus the entire circus spins about the Eldrich as he bestrides the Iron Kingdoms as an undead colossus. It’s mimes and clowns are always on the brink of mutual self destruction, but never being allowed (by Pelyth) to actually see their petty conflicts beyond their war of spite and hate.
As a Sindalië, Forgiliell certainly had to deal with discrimination at home in Dalla Tyrl. Her only motive for parading in front of the other Gwenn of Kamveluna was to show what utter hicks they are, how little they understand of her complex reality of being an Imperial Princess. She is quite used to being one alone amongst allies who like her less than they like their mutual enemies.
Foriliell’s life has certainly been no picnic; anyone who puts up with the training to be Gwenn has to be tough – at least ilin are allowed to die. On top of that her Clan trained her as an assassin and her wayward cousin taught her illegal magic. She is just the girl to raise the Barrow Mawg in a dizzy little drip like Daniellen and keep her frothing at the mouth long enough for her nascent performance as sweet little Ayisla to disappear down the drain. When Forgiliell has finished her performance as innocent victim with Daniellen it is clear to all what a small, dark heart beats within her fetching chest. Forgiliell’s acting brings out the evil in the other Sythyss, which is why Pelyth keeps her close, This explains the slightly cannibal air of self-satisfaction that never abandons Lyliss. She knows what she is doing. She will shred the nerves of all the other Sythyss until Daniellen pulls back her frozen lips and shows the fangs behind her witless Mona Lisa smile.
And of course, eventually, when all the others have been reduced to snarling beasts, Pleyth lets them all loose on the unfortunate population of Northern Cygnar or Southern Lleal.
Pelyth’s Circus moved north, targeting lone farmsteads, staying mostly on the main roads until late afternoon and they turning off and driving until late, an hour or so before midnight, before searching for a victim.
Quite often he enjoyed playing the lost noble. Still a wizard to be reckoned with, the coach and horses, would be made to appear as normal, the two male Sythyss as footmen and the two female, his wife and daughter. They would call upon the lone farmstead and negotiate entry (usually having charmed the dogs into behaving normally), taking every kindness offered before murdering the entire family, often one at a time, in the most gruesome manner, to increase the terror felt by those who they left until last. But first, Pelyth and his Sythyss would do everything in their power to put the folk at ease and convince them of their fellowship. Treachery and betrayal were much more stylish than strait forward slaughter.
They would begin with the tale, a lost nobleman on a journey of mercy, or one of state importance like an arranged marriage. They would be offered food and drink, which they would pay for. Pelyth then usually had his circus entertain the farmers, the Sythyss would play and dance, enchanting and beguiling their prey as the performance changed from being for the home audience to being one for Pelyth’s benefit. Dances, sometimes involving pretty farm girls or virile farm lads, would become altogether sensuous and inclusive of the audience. And when the moment was right, the music would cease and the one of the farmers killed. Suddenly. Openly. Bloodily. Garotted, or a slit throat perhaps. A moment’s stunned silence would be followed by panic, or some attempt to fight back. Flight was what the Sythyss most hoped for.
The Eldrich and his Sythyss would then hunt their prey in the dark. Whether they remained in the homestead or fled outside, they would toy with them as a cat toys with a mouse. Under Pelyth’s demented influence, the parts of the pschye of the undead elves that had once been hunters or combatants thrilled to the chase. They enjoyed this. And feedback from his bound Sythyss excited Pelyth. Peaceful farmers, the Agamore, Bartley and Villius, their hired hands and their children were all despoiled and slain by the Eldrich and his Sythyss. Many more farmsteads would die at their hands.
The Sythyss would feed on the life energy of those they took. They would drain them of their very essence (usually through the medium of blood). Pelyth’s unhealth would be restored as they fed, along with his appetites. And of course, as his moods swung, so the small parts of their former selves in the Sythyss would feel their desires shift from one carnal viscera to another. They would grapple each other amid the carnage they had wrought, coupling furiously as dying eyes watched them disporting themselves amidst the life’s blood of their parents or children.
And of course, plunging in to the cities gave even more of an excuse. So very different was the life he’d lead in Ios to the scenes he found in the bordellos of Cygnar and Lleal that Pelyth could barely control himself, struggling to maintain his fair shape. He would often visit himself on a couple of harlots and then retire to a darkened and shadowed corner to watch the debauched revelries, with his Sythyss as his proxies, keeping the party going. And of course, the near dawn murder of a few low-life types and streetwalkers was never going to be a cause for in depth investigation.
Each year, a certain number of sacrifices would be needed to maintain Pelyth (and thus, his Sythyss). For these, his vanity, swollen since his fall from grace, demanded the daughters of the nobility (or perhaps the most beautiful and innocent young girls from the other classes). Akella d’Laureans, Cestina Dimiani and Jelyan Bralazzi. Thus were these persons and ten more like them kidnapped and slain by the bloodiest of rites on any dark altar that proved convenient. Such as places of blood sacrifice from millennia gone, Orgoth ruins. The occasional Thamarite shrine which Pelyth found by uncanny means. And defiled altars in more usual churches. For these, human servants were required.
Forgiliell and Daniellen, or rather Lyliss and Ayisla, would seek out someone who’s word would be taken that things in the church, be it of Morrow or Menoth, were all in order. They would seduce that individual to the extent that his defences were down and he was more vulnerable to Pelyth’s glamour. It amused Pelyth to have the poor unfortunate participate in the rite in some way and once it was safely (for Pelyth) over, give the man his mind back and let his see what had come to pass in the last moments he had before he too was killed. Thus in some cases, no one suspected anyone else, just the fallen priest, slain by a vengeful god.
The girls themselves, picked out by Pelyth, were harvested by Lyliss and Ayisla. They would recruit the sacrifice with promises of dark secrets. Just as Pelyth had offered Forgiliell the power to enter another’s mind, so Lyliss offered riches, power, beauty and satisfaction. And as Ayisla had sought to slay the monstrous evil that was Pelyth, so she offered fidelity and assistance. They befriended these girls and gained their trust. But it was all a sham, a treacherous act to gain their vile master that which he both needed and desired.
With no change to his modus operandi, it seemed like Pelyth the Eldrich and his brood of undead servitors could stalk the face of the world forever. As long as they didn’t kill and drain too many people in one place any pursuit was cursory at best. He could go on killing and enjoying the suffering of others until the end of time.
Normally, Sythyss would come and go. Pelyth had destroyed one in order to add Forgiliell to his stable. And another in order to add Daniellen. And of course he sometimes made to sacrifice them all to make his escape. They fawned upon him, they begged of him and pleaded, offering him things that he had already taken. Occasionally, some brave mortal would destroy one of them.
But Pelyth did not care. As soon as they were gone, his Sythyss were forgotten. Always he loved the charade. Always the circus performed. Always they left despair, sorrow and heartbreak behind them in the trail of broken lives and ruined dreams. Pelyth even found a way to mock one crusader against the darkness by using Lyliss. The fool from her past seemed to believe that he could save her and Pelyth could not resist the opportunity to show that such a thing would never come to pass.
Eventually Pelyth lost the carriage and the ‘horses’. This was not a great problem as they had reached occupied Merwyn, a city in turmoil. Sinking quickly from view, the murderous underbelly of a city under martial law gave them rich pickings, but for a limited time only.
Timing his strike to coincide with a raid by the Free Llealese resistance, Pelyth ensured maximum carnage in the city by having key figures on both sides removed. The blood shed that night was immense and the Eldrich and his Sythyss fed until they could hardly move. They escaped by boat. But without Daniellen.
“The only pain, the only pleasure, is all through him. I am torn, trapped and alone in his nightmare.”
Pelyth was drawn to becoming Eldrich by fear. His life had been one of moderate power and privilege. He had been taught well in all matters by the eminent sages of Ios. He had returned to Nyssoithyl to assume a position of responsibility with the expectation of one day assuming leadership of that land and its people during these trying times.
As Scyrrah slowly dies before them, the Iosians as a whole feel their impotence. Where once they ruled the world and produced many wonders, even bridging the gap between Cean and the abodes of the gods themselves, today their entire race can do nothing but watch as their one remaining goddess fades. It is almost universally accepted that the birth of soulless babes is a direct consequence of this accelerating loss.
Pelyth the mortal was devoted to his people, deeply in love with his young bride and held the courage of his convictions like a shield against despair. Aelin Rhsslyr, was his inspiration. She was a seeker and truly believed that it was not too late. She knew that somehow there was succour for the people somewhere. That hope was not misplaced and that good things should be fought for and preserved. She filled his life and the lives of others around her with love, joy and a degree of certainty that seemed to be otherwise lacking. She was a buffer against the introspective downward spiral of lassitude that seemed to afflict Ios.
When their firstborn arrived with the blank emptiness of the soulless, Aelin became unhinged. He struggled as his bride’s sanity painfully drained away, she committed suicide a year to the day after the birth. For another year he fought against his personal demons, but on the anniversary of her suicide, he fled with the child into the wilderness, to the fane of the one of the Vanished. It seems likely that there he was spoken to by dark voices, perhaps the priests who committed crimes against their own people when the Divine Court vanished all those centuries ago. Perhaps his own firstborn was Pelyth’s first sacrifice on his path to undeath. It is certain that his fear led to anger, and his anger to hatred and that led him to embrace lichdom.
The Eldrich exists to continue its own existence; to perpetuate a splinter of the individual’s intellect by the means that it’s new status allows it. What emotional urges it retains are polarised and accentuated. Certainly things like valour, compassion, respect, mercy and remorse are discarded as weaknesses. Certainly the Eldrich itself perceives this as survival, as cheating a death where there is no afterlife as all the Gods have vanished and that way is closed to dying Iosians. The Eldrich sees its existence as the only option.
The one thing that the Eldrich cannot discard for itself is guilt. Perhaps this explains to some extent Pelyth’s circus, a masquerade of actors playing to his sensibilities, keeping him focussed on the moment and his thoughts as far from the consequences of his actions as possible.
To this end, the Eldrich, by the bond he has with them, is able to project certain patterns of behaviour onto his Sythyss – those elves he has slain by draining their life’s energy from them. Thus Daniellen, who in her life was courageous, but shy, became an obnoxiously ostentatious character. Forgiliell, who despite her willingness to kill, was always direct and never cruel, became not only the physical torturer of their victims, but the emotional tormentor of the other Sythyss, herself and even to an extent, Pelyth himself.
In taking his Sythyss he broke down those who would stand against him. He overwhelmed their defences until they begged for mercy or otherwise surrendered themselves to him. It was important to him that the mortal elf was already resigned to their fate before he made them Sythyss. He couldn’t have them begin their servitude in open defiance. On the other hand, he didn’t want craven dogs either. It was so hard to get the right base material for his arts.
And of course, some small part of the person who those Sythyss had been remained buried within, weeping and anguished at what their vile master was making them do. But the worst thing for them was the overwhelming desire that being Sythyss fostered within them, the desire to please their master. They now enjoyed those things that their mortal selves would have found the most repugnant.
The whole thing was a cruel performance. As they terrorised their victims, as they slew their prey they wore masks of glee. Pelyth enjoyed a party atmosphere, hiding his guilt at his betrayal of his own as simply the first act of his new life as predator of the living. The whole world was now his playground, his toy. His larder. His Sythyss were bound to this profane carnival by his will. They smiled and laughed, carousing their way through their unlives. Perhaps he actually knew that he was trapped and that the only way that this cycle would ever be broken would be if his unlife was brought to an end.
Certainly there seemed times when he displayed jealousy. Perhaps ordering Lyliss and Ayisla to perform lewd acts with potential victims whom he then enjoyed slaying himself. He punished the living for touching that which was his, he punished his Sythyss for their lack of fidelity. And of course he was punishing himself as he had ordered their salacious behaviour in the first place, it was his base desires they were exhibiting, after all. He may have felt no remorse, but perhaps he could remember it. But it was soon over taken by his anger. And as he raged, it just rekindled the feelings that had sparked the incident in the first place, be it sex or murder. The cycle only diminished when there were no victims left or they had to flee and hide from the forces of law and order.
And all the while, the Sythyss knew that they were expendable. That if they were caught and destroyed by the forces of righteousness, that he would forget they ever existed, going out of his way to find elves abroad and create new puppets for his amusement. He truly cared nothing for them, he’d even destroyed two of his existing Sythyss to make way for more promising candidates.
Lyliss and Ayisla enjoyed the terror they caused, they looked forward to inflicting long slow painful death on children whilst their crippled parents looked on. They longed to be the ones Pelyth chose to sake his empty lust upon. And all the while there was some small part of their psyche that remained Forgiliell and Daniellen, screaming for release. All their revulsion at what they have become is turned by their master’s mere presence to hatred of the living, for the living still have a choice (they can still die and thus escape the Eldrich).
Many people are appalled and repulsed by the undead by the knowledge that it is possible that they might one day become one. For Sythyss, that horror is already reality.