image of kadovar, the beastly roast


You are a WITCH hatched from a scheme. You are an explorer of the far-flung unknown, a messenger from the edge. Your magic spawns from the reaping of chaos. You barter with demons and false gods. LET'S GET BUSY!

Imagine, for a moment, that you held the fate of a city in the palm of your hand. A beautiful, fragile little thing, teeming with life and vitality. What would you do with that much potential? 

I knew an OCCULTIST who had a choice like that, once. She called herself Kadovar, the Beastly Roast. 

She wasn’t always an OCCULTIST, you know. She wasn’t even a WITCH. In fact, she was once the Queen of a city-state far, far away from the Weird Wilds.  

Don’t believe me? Well, that’s easily rectified - I think that it’ll be easier if I simply show you how she first manifested. Tell me, young one, have you mastered the art of dream-walking yet? 

This first one will be unpleasant.

The Queen had never experienced this kind of pain before. It was deep in her gut, twisting and awfully visceral, and there was blood everywhere, pulsing out from between her legs and soaking through the mattress. She screamed in agony, screamed herself hoarse, screamed until her voice gave out, and yet the pain endured. It lasted for years, or maybe a lifetime. When it finally subsided all was quiet, except for the panicked murmurings of the nurses and handmaidens surrounding her. She looked down, and saw what remained between her thighs...

Don’t turn back now. There’s more to see here.

She was standing across from a sallow dark-eyed man. His garb was that of an alchemist’s or magician’s, and the angularity of his features were thrown into sharp relief by nearby oil lamps. “The others failed me,” she said. “They tried to tell me that it was a sign of disfavor from the gods, that they could prescribe me herbs for my condition.” Her voice dripped with derision. “I am done with prayers and concoctions. But it’s said that your power is true. Show me what you know and you will be greatly rewarded. Refuse me or cheat me, and I will have you flayed and drowned in seawater before giving what’s left of you to the sharks.”

The man, or something very close to it, nodded slowly. When he spoke, his voice was the dry rasp of scorching desert sands and vitrified bones. “The price. Can you pay it?”

“Name it. Gold and gems, if that’s what you want. Lands, a title. Anything.”

A slow shake of the head. “That is not my price.”

She nodded, unsurprised, and at her gesture a slave was pushed forward. His hands and feet were bound, his eyes obscured by a filthy scrap of wool. The sallow man’s nostrils flared, and in the lamp-light his teeth seemed very small and sharp. “Blood for blood,” he said, grinning so widely the skin at the edges of his mouth seemed to crack and show the inky carapace beneath. “I accept your deal.” And when he lunged forward and sank his teeth into the slave’s throat, sucking out the man’s lifeblood in a single voracious instant, she hardly flinched.

One more, to finish this tale. And then you will understand. 

The WITCH, formerly a queen, stood in an underground chamber, gripping a ceremonial obsidian knife in one hand. At her feet blood pooled and trickled from the mutilated bodies arrayed in a certain chaotic pattern on the stone floor; their tongues had been torn out so that they could not sever their own lives, and the incisions in their flesh were deeper and sharper than any knife-wound. These were scions of noble houses, chosen for their vitality and purity of blood; more than one of them had been no older than thirteen.

“It’s not enough,” she said to the sallow man, who was standing just beyond the light of the braziers. “You told me my spells would be more potent with sacrifice. Well, I’m out of slaves and my dungeons are empty; even these ten are like trying to sate a leviathan with maggots. How many more will it take?”

The sallow man was as still as the corpses scattered about the chamber. “Don’t be a fool,” he said at last in his glass-and-sand voice. “There are limits even to blood-magic. There is no amount you can spill that will give you what you want.”

She turned on him in an instant. “And how would you know?” she countered. “Tell me, you loathsome demon, why should I take your word for it? You spent your years in the shadows, scavenging scraps of power from the crippled and forsaken, squandering what you had to fuel paltry enchantments and extend your miserable life. Ha! Unworthy sacrifices for a wretched ambition. Do not think that your failings will deter me.”

The sallow man’s mouth opened in a soundless snarl, but she threw him a contemptuous glance and he shrank from her; her ability had long since outstripped his. “Leave me,” she said. “Before I decide to carve you next. How valuable is an existence as corrupted as yours, I wonder?”

She had scarcely finished speaking before he had gone, slipping out of the ritual chamber and into the warrens beyond.

In the brazier-light, the blood on the edge of the knife seemed to glow a dull crimson. She flicked it so that a drop flew from its tip and sizzled in the coals, and watched as puffs of steam rose where it landed.

Somewhere far below her feet in a stone mausoleum lay a tiny coffin, one end adorned with a miniature death-mask inlaid with onyx and jet.

With the sudden clarity reserved only for those who are madmen or on the brink of death, she began another incantation.

I did ask her how she came to be here, and Kadovar told me she had no home to return to. Obliterated by a volcano long thought dormant, she said, and what was left of the city after the magma cooled was pulled down beneath the waves. It was the dead of winter when she shared this with me, but I thought I could feel a burst of dry heat against my leaves, and hear the thin wailing of the dead and dying filling the air.

I did not dare to ask her if she was able to obtain what she sought.