An alternate history of the Abyssian.
“If you wish to eat, you must first tend the garden.” The ancient crone stood squarely in Cass’s path, blocking the mouth of the cave.
“I’m not hungry, and I don’t wanna tend a dumb garden!” Cass wailed. “I want to go inside and play with Wraithlings, like Lilithe does!”
“Child, this is an important part of your teachings,” the old priestess replied sagely. “If you are to become a true Abyssian, you must learn to care for our land.”
“No!” Cass wrinkled up her face to appear more menacing. “Let me past or you’ll suffer!” (She had heard the famed duelist Maehv Skinsolder shout this to a minion who had provoked her once, and afterwards Cass said it whenever she got the chance.)
“You don’t know the meaning of suffering, child,” the crone answered, a sinister edge in her voice. “But I can teach you that, too.” She reached out to grab Cass’s ear, but the little girl was too quick. She dashed past the old woman and into the cave. Down the winding staircases of black stone she ran, until the echoes of the priestess’s threats faded to nothing behind her.
An short time later, as Cass was practicing summoning Wraithlings in her chambers (she could not yet do it without the aid of a spell scroll), the heavy ebony door flew open with a crash. Cass jumped back and watched in terror as a huge purple demon stepped into the room. Red spikes protruded from its limbs, great crimson horns sprouted from its head, and it had an extremely long whip-like tail — a tail that lashed out and wrapped around the girl’s throat before she had time to shout for help.
“Come, little one,” the demon purred, its voice oddly soft and soothing for a being of its stature.
But the trip outside was neither soft nor soothing. The demon climbed upwards, dragging Cass by the neck over countless obsidian steps and giving her a merciless beating. And when she managed to squeak, “Let me go or you’ll suffer,” the demon only chuckled amiably. It deposited Cass in the Great Gardens of Shar. All around them, purple weeds and brambles covered the ground and thorny vines crept up trellises made of bone.
“Do you like my gardens?” the demon asked, unravelling its tail from around Cass’s throat.
“No,” Cass responded, eying the demon warily. She ached all over, and was only able to stand up with great difficulty.
“You will soon. Follow me.” The demon led Cass deep into the purple jungle, until they came upon a man lying face-down in the foliage. He was moaning, and blood leaked from a wound in his leg. When he saw the demon, his eyes widened in fear.
“P-please,” he croaked, “Help me…”
“You heard him, Cassyva,” the demon said silkily, “Help him, and tend your garden. Become a true Abyssian.” It handed Cass a sickle.
At that moment, Cass realized her place in the world. She struck down at the dying man’s face with all her weight behind the sickle, giving him an abyssal scar. He screeched in pain, and Cass felt a sense of elation that she had never known before. She slashed again, and again, and again, watching the lifeblood drain from the screaming man and into the dark soil of the gardens. Then she stared in wonder as the purple creep spread underneath him, little spikes growing out of the ground where there had been only dirt before.
“Good, little one. You have tended your garden. And now you can reap the fruit of your labor.”
Cass bent down and gorged herself, tearing flesh from the bone and lapping up the sweet blood that was everywhere. All her cuts and bruises no longer ached. When she was done, she gave the demon a red grin.
“I love gardening.”