Location: Nektar’s Cauldron
Timeline: Sixth Age of Substance, 46th Year, Spring
Any creature unlucky enough to find himself in one of my Life Labs could at least take some solace in the fact that he would not be bored – if nothing else there was plenty to see and even more to imagine as they awaited their fate…
Special “daylight” torches showcased all the scientific glory that was Room 101. Besides the subjects’ cages that lined the wall opposite the entrance, and a small wooden chest tucked away under a long buffet on the northern wall (1), the workshop was mainly focused around four metal tables that occupied most of the real estate.
The steel tables themselves were all of a custom manufacture (by yours truly) and each was of a different length – from the giant one almost twenty feet long and fifteen feet wide, down to the smallest which was a mere two by three. Additionally each had raised edges on three sides except at the bottom – and the end that was the bottom was easy to determine because I built all the work slabs with shorter legs at one end. Why? You ask. Because whenever I had one of my subjects exposed on the cutting board, whenever their blood flowed freely (and it always did) – well I just couldn’t bear to lose even a drop of that beautiful essence; and with the tables built on a slope, I didn’t have to worry, for my victim’s blood flowed down the slope and trickled merrily into tiny troughs waiting below the edge to collect that precious liquid of life.
Meantime, beside each steel slab was a handy little push cart I could wheel into place wherever I might need it. Upon each cart was a plethora of specialized cutting tools (flaying knives, bone saws, impalers, and the like), various situational instruments (forceps, clamps, vices, hooks, and more), and an array of leather straps and tiebacks (since most of my visitors weren’t there by choice). Wash stands too stood at the head of every work area (2).
The last thing that should be noted, just this: like any good scientist, my laboratories were surprisingly clean; in fact they were spotless (3). This well-washed neatness allowed me to be reasonably confident in the validity and accuracy of my findings — at least to the point of knowing that none of my experiments had been skewed by sloppiness. I’m sure you see the value in that, right?
Over the years, the work I’d done in the Life Labs had propelled me into becoming the foremost expert on the physiological workings of all the people that once roamed your world. It was that knowledge that had already given me the ability to create entire new species of creatures in the past, and it was wisdom of the kind that I knew would one day provide me with the key I needed to position myself as the Ultimate Ruler of the Three Planes of Existence. (4)
Yet that wasn’t my reality just yet.
Because the work I did in my labs was so critical to the long-term success of my personal mission, everything was a closely held secret. As such, the only reason I ever admitted a person to my labs was with the express purpose to make them a subject in one of my experiments. All others were required to remain outside – under penalty of grim death. This applied even to the servants who tended my needs while in the lab – whenever they transported a new subject who was to be used in one of my studies, my slaves prepped the new arrival in The Cleansing Rooms before transferring them to a waiting cell in the hallway outside the various labs. (5)
For no one entered inside the labs – unless they wanted to be part of the experiments themselves!
Now lest you think that the mortals used in my studies were forlorn victims of fate, ask yourself this – would you rather have been an abandoned prisoner left to slowly starve in of The Cauldron’s dungeons – where only the feces-infested beds and a colorful array of rats were your only friends – or would you instead prefer to experience the chance to be thoroughly cleaned for the first time in your life before gliding through a brief wait on a spotless steel bench in one of the cages inside my labs, before finally being blessed with the penultimate experience of your life as a critical part in one of my experiments? In short would you rather be forgotten or potentially celebrated for all time? (6)
Aspus’ fangs again punctured the thin gutskin – the cover now fastened over yet another vessel to catch its contents. The changeling was in snake form at this time – a requirement for a proper reconnaissance milking session (7).
Once more I grasped the sides of his viper’s jaws – quickly locating the knowledge sacs behind the brain (8). Prior to beginning the milking, I’d already emptied the useless poison sacs and then cleaned the fangs so they wouldn’t contaminate the knowledge I sought. Only then did I attempt to gather the covert mission information which the Viperz had stored for me.
<Pssheeew. Pssheeew. Pssheew.>
“Well, well,” I couldn’t help but admire Aspus, “you have quite a story to tell now, don’t you, dear? I can’t recall the last time I filled FOUR Reconnaissance Jars! By Haaz, I wonder how much more your sacs could have held before they burst?” And then my scientific mind wondered what would have happened in that event as I made a note to study that possibility in the future.
As I continued milking Aspus, I was excited about reviewing the intelligence he’d brought back – but that doesn’t mean I was happy at the time.
Recall that I’d let myself foolishly consider the possibility that Apsus might have returned with The Grim – that magical dagger I’d been searching after for centuries. When I didn’t find the blade in the Viperz packs, I got angry and some of my slaves paid the price.
It wasn’t until I later remembered that the mission I’d sent Aspus on did not actually entail retrieving The Grim, but instead just finding out information about Pesties and the Drrukka of Akka. In a calmer place, I poked again through the contents of Aspus’s belongings – noting some uneaten and now moldy rations, an empty water jug, a few hand-drawn maps, and some rather interesting bones – all items I had classified, tagged, and stored for a review some time later. After that I got down to the business of learning what I could from Aspus himself.
“And with that the final vessel is filled.” I removed the viper’s fangs from the gutskin and pulled the jar away. Exhausted by the process, the snake’s head fell limply forward over the table’s edge, yet his body was still securely fastened into place – belly to cold steel – by the straps I had tied him down with.
Would that this were a typical milking session, the ordeal would have ended for Aspus and he could then have quickly recovered; but, alas for him, I had other uses for him in The Lab.
“Excellent.” I surveyed again the cloudy, green, viscosity that filled the Reconnaissance Jars. “I am certain that you have done well, my child – I can feel that the knowledge you’ve brought back is all that you know and exactly what I was seeking. For how could you disobey your god?”
Poking a bony finger through the instruments that sat on the cart next to Aspus’s body. “However,” and here I picked up two glittering, rather long needles, “I would be remiss if I did not make absolutely sure that you are giving me ALL that you know. After all, I have waited too long to arrive at this moment. Thus…” I strategically inserted the thin pikes into carefully selected points between the snake’s skull and the connective tissue of his body proper. The viper’s body twitched for only a moment, then returned to its limp, relaxed state. “That should keep you feeling good till I return. Then we can continue our…discussion.”
At this point I washed my hands and my surgical instruments in a cleansing pot. After this I wheeled the cart that held the Reconnaissance Jars out of the Lab – leaving Aspus’s sedated body to await my return.
- Ask me about that chest sometime – what’s inside is quite a story.
- A god likes to be clean, if you know what I mean.
- Long ago I realized the value of surgical cleanliness in my experiments, and as such I ever ensured that my work space, my instruments, my test subjects, and even myself were always well scrubbed. I’ll admit, I probably carried this eccentricity to a fault – for the slightest note of dirt or grime upon anything in my sacred labs would send me into a rage – and my servants paid a heavy price for their messiness.
- A position held then (and now) by the Great God A’H.
- Curious about The Cleansing Rooms? Picture your finest Turkish bath and your vision will still fall short. My Cleansing Rooms oozed luxury for anyone lucky enough to experience them – for I wanted (nay I needed) every subject for my experiments to be in perfect shape mentally and physically for my work on them. First they enjoyed a bathing montage of relaxing soaks, aromatherapy soaps, and aggressive scrubbing — to remove the dirt and grime that inevitably caked on anyone who lived at this time period. Then they were shaved and groomed as needed. Afterwards, they spent time in the saunas, steam rooms, and mental preparation classes. And when each was finally ready, they were brought to the cells outside The Labs, there to await their final fate – where I would remove the last vestiges of their soul.
- OK, I’ll admit. It probably wasn’t all Fortune and Glory for my experimentees. We both knew there was a price to pay for their participation; that price was PAIN – slow, grueling, exhausting pain. A pain so unbearable that it would force breathtakingly horrible screams from their throat; cringing howls begging me to pause the poisonous caress with which I touched them. Oh, how glorious it all was!
- Although I’d brought Aspus to the Life Labs and did indeed plan to use him in an experiment, I figured it would be a good idea to milk him first – because hey, you never know what you’ll find, right?
- Viperz Knowledge Sacs were a special genetic quirk that I had built into their physiques when I designed this race of creatures.