Inspired by a roleplay scene, as what was going through Tyrric’s head while the Sunwalker crew discussed how to cure him of his Void corruption. This would take place shortly after Tyrric was rescued from Ny’alotha, the Black City of N’Zoth.Author’s Note
Alelsa poked him in the ribs. At first he was merely annoyed: he wanted to sleep. Then, as she continued to poke, talked over him, he came more alert. Memories about who and where he was started to coalesce.
The expedition into the Black City had ended poorly. Everything had made sense until then. Now, nothing did, and the danger was — seemed? — constant.
Alelsa gave him another poke, but was it really her? Could it not be the probing tentacle of a n’raqi, the scraping claw of a silithid? Be still, his instincts told him. Maybe it’d think he was dead and leave him alone.
He had some inkling he’d been manipulated: that something had been in his head and had rearranged his thoughts and motivations to its liking. He couldn’t trust his perceptions; when he had, he had done something terrible. Something that couldn’t be repeated. If he just remained still, barely even breathing, maybe his actions couldn’t be turned to the darkness’s whims again.
Alelsa — or the something pretending to be her — slapped him. He couldn’t help jumping, and then he froze, tense, expecting that the admission he was alive and aware would bring more pain in short order. Nothing happened or seemed to; his cheek stung. He pushed the pain aside, deep down. Bury it, ignore it. Like it was happening to someone else. Another Tyrric, another man broken. Not him…
A memory flashed up, of Nya’lotha, unbidden and unwanted. At that time, the pain had been more pronounced, as something dark and terrible had held him in a slimy embrace and tried to burrow its way inside — into his belly, his innards, his mind, his being. He had flung his consciousness away, form an image of a forest and a hill he alone had access to. Ignore the reality. Just as he was doing now. Ignore the pain. Only the forest existed. The tree…a light…wavering…his world.
The image wavered again as something called to his attention in that other life, the one he wasn’t sure was real. His skin quivered as something rasped against it — claws? — his stomach turned as he was lifted and dropped a short ways. Something had picked him up. He felt its gait under him. Desperately he tried to find the tree again. He could not let them into his mind. There, the light. He could imagine a picnic, with Alelsa…
Was that her, speaking, just now? She sounded sad, angry. Angry with him. He was being useless again — but no, the picnic…everything was okay. The horror was happening to another Tyrric, another person. All that existed was his light, his tree… Alelsa…
Then the baritone of Keelath interrupted her. That was wrong; Keelath was far away, a traitor Tyrric had exiled.
Or was he?
Tyrric opened his eyes. He was in the sitting room at the Dawnmist manor, or somewhere that looked just like it. Alelsa was nearby, as was Keelath. And Mirium. Confusion and strong emotions bloomed in him, his stomach. He felt nauseous.
The others spoke to each other. Alelsa reached over to poke him again, talk over him. Tyrric willed himself still. Were these beings, that might be Faceless in disguise, aware of him?
…no, he decided. They seemed to think he was sick. Unresponsive. That was well. They would ignore him. Tyrric shifted slightly, trying to see the rest of the room. Could he escape while their attention was off him?
Did it matter if he did? Maybe he was home, and this was all real.
Tyrric recoiled at the thought. That was just as bad. Shame overwhelmed him, and he returned to his tree on the hill. He had lost control of his life, but this, at least, he could still manage to make… if not perfect, then good enough.
Time stretched. Whatever being that wore Keelath’s face turned on him, smacking Tyrric’s cheeks and demanding his attention with an angry shout. Tyrric refused to give it. Let the Void do its worst, he thought. He was back with Alelsa under his tree; he told her that he loved her and was sorry for all he had done.
Perhaps the Void lurking in his mind disapproved of his sentiment, because the torture began again. They were poking him, then stinging him. Silithid? He opened his eyes. No, it appeared to be the wand of some sin’dorei magister from Silvermoon. When had he arrived? The wand hurt, like a shaman’s lightning bolt, each time it stuck him in the ribs. Tyrric struggled to return to his tree. His body demanded action, a warrior’s riposte to the attack, but he held back. Maybe that’s what the Void wanted, after all.
The man with the wand demanded an answer from him. Yes, that confirmed this was an interrogation. Tyrric wouldn’t play along. They would not get information out of him that they could use against his family or against the Horde. He would remain silent.
Someone tried to dribble something in his mouth, too. He hadn’t realized he’d been holding it open. His body reacted before he could, licking up the moisture and soothing his racking thirst. It had been so long since he’d eaten or drunken, but — no! Poison, truth serum, a curse, bottled death, an evil! It was a common tactic, and he could not give in to it. He spat the liquid out before it could work its evil on him.
As expected, they pressed in on him twice as hard. Something seized his nose, trying to force him to open his mouth again by cutting off his breath. He knew that tactic too. Live. He threw himself forward, gasping in breaths while they were distracted by his thrashing.
Even as he fought, he knew submission was inevitable. Something stung him again, and this time he was sure it had to be silithid. A numbness spread across his limbs and into his mind, emanating from the prick site. He tasted the awful serum again in his mouth, but he couldn’t make his jaw work to spit it out as the numbness encapsulated him, dragging him into the darkness.
He came to later, lying on his back. He wondered what he had revealed under the serum’s coercion. He thought of his family and how he was letting them down — again.
No, not again. He had to resist, had to…
How? How could he escape this nightmare? Perhaps his torturers had left tools within his reach that he could use to end it…? Death was never a good answer, but was it preferable, to that…?
He opened his eyes to scout. He saw Alelsa and Mirium around him, one holding his head still. So the Void was still manipulating him with that illusion. So be it. He closed his eyes and waited for it to grow tired of the tactic. Even the creatures of the Void had to sleep…
The dopplegangers were talking again, crying now. Over him. His resolve wavered.
What if it was real? What if he could steal a few moments of happiness, tell this Alelsa of his love and his apologies? Even if it wasn’t her…even if it wasn’t real…it would make him feel better, at least.
They would use it against him. No, better to retreat.
He found his tree. He had to be strong for his family. He had to resist. He missed them, so badly… He had to resist…