She couldn’t remember when she first became aware of her own consciousness. Had it been a gradual building of impulses and thoughts, or did sapience erupt all at once like lightning from a bottle? However it came about, one of her first realizations was that time was linear, that it passed, and that memory was fallible. With panic at first, and then gradual acceptance, she realized she could not perfectly recall her individual thoughts, wafting away on ephemeral, temporal, tendrils through the annals of her mind.
Her world existed in the field of her own imagination. Not having memories to draw upon however, she began to dream, to paint her world with colors she could not name; quickly-fading streaks whose origins she did not know. There were sounds she eventually discerned were internal, and not from the world outside, learning the difference between that which existed within and that empty void without.
Without the concept of days or years, she couldn’t describe how long from her apotheosis she floated motionlessly in the impenetrable void before the first external sound made itself known.
An untamed flood of emotions filled her with excitement, fear, and other feelings she would later learn to name and describe. She knew the empty stillness of the existence outside her mind, and had never imagined that it could contain—
Tink tink tink … crash
Without warning her world erupted once again, this time in a ghostly yellow brilliance that overtook everything she had ever dreamed or imagined. She realized with no small horror that the color, the light, was pushing its way in from outside.
The void was no longer empty.
“We broke through,” a deep voice rumbled in a language she could understand—each word ignited her mind, bringing with it definition and meaning. She not only heard the words, but knew what they meant, what they encapsulated.
“Get the torch out of the way, let me see,” said a smooth, silky tone, very different from the first. “I see better without that stupid thing than you do with it.”
The brilliance faded as quickly as it had intruded on her entire world, replaced by a dim pinprick almost impossibly far away. At an instant she understood the concept of distance.
“Your info was right—this guy wanted the royal treatment in the afterlife. A chariot, chests, scroll cases, even a golem lay in there, sleeping next to its eternal master.”
“A golem? Anything we need to be worried about?” a third voice made itself known, more distant than the rest. For the first time she realized she could blink her eyes—and that she had eyes.
“It’s small,” the velvet tongue came back, “nothing like that big boy back at the entrance. A worker, something to do its master’s bidding in the great beyond.”
“How are we going to get into the loot? It took you forever to break open even that small hole,” the third voice asked.
“With your help,” the brusk and bassy first voice returned,” we’ll have it open in no time. With that hole, I just need my pry-bar and we can start working—“
“Help” she whispered, the word coming unbidden, uninvited, in a voice she immediately understood was her own. A voice she had never heard before.
“What the devil was that?” “Are there ghosts?” “I told you this tomb was cursed!” The voices tumbled over one another in what she decided was a most unlikable fashion, getting louder as they seemed to compete with one another.
“Help … you” she groaned, the act of talking an impossibly complicated and complex task she had never before undertaken—never before thought to even try.
“It’s the golem!” the second voice whispered in a voice she could all-too-clearly hear. “It’s talking to us.”
“Do golems do that?” the third asked.
“They certainly do not,” said the first, definitively.
She was like no creature they had ever seen, they decided after she helped them remove the heavy stone slab which sealed the chamber. One of the three decided she looked like an “Andi” and she found the name agreeable.
With no memory of—and thus no allegiance to—the person with which she had been entombed, she asked if she could join the grave-robbing threesome in their adventures. With every moment, every word bringing new experiences, she desperately craved to see the world which had been opened into her, but recognized that she would be lost without the guidance—and charity—of those who were familiar with its dangers.
Dressing her in a moth-chewed blanket turned into a makeshift poncho and an overly floppy hat—of which she instantly decided she enjoyed the feeling, lightly bouncing with her every step—the group made their way out of the cave system’s twists and turns, and up to the surface.
“Are you distressed by all that up there?” the shorter of the three asked as she gazed at the star-studded expanse above her as the two others prepared supper.
“What do you mean?” she asked lightly, practicing her conversation skills.
“All that nothing. My people live underground.” He stamped his foot on the grassy hill. “I was born and raised with solid rock always just a few meters away, never had to worry about flying away and never being seen again—outside of my mam’s stories of course.”
“I think I like it,” she smiled simply, the only way she could. “It reminds me of my dreams, the pictures I would paint in the time before we met.”
“Maybe she’s an artist,” said the tallest among them, calling over from the small stock pot and cook fire he tended. “People’d pay for work some thing—some one, sorry—like her would do.”
The man who was neither short nor tall shrugged. “I can’t say I know anything about art or poetry, but I know I’m real glad to have her at our backs while we sleep. These aren’t friendly lands.”
She looked down to the small dents and cracks in her flexible fingers, reminders of an unexpected rock ogre run-in. She waved to the monster as it charged headlong out of a side passage, not long after she was freed from her resting spot, but responded in kind when it took a wild swing at her head.
“Whatever it was she was built for, I feel bad for the person who tries to get in her way,” he continued. “Life is filled with tools and gifts, Andi. What matters is how you make use of them, and for what purpose.”
She nodded as the shorter man returned to his companions to eat an evening meal—she had no need for such sustenance but greatly enjoyed the social aspect of meal time, the stories and the bravado of her new friends as they bantered, often referring to places and events far away.
Whatever she was, whyever she had been created, she looked out over the vast plains from that small grassy hill and smiled, contentedly.
The only way she could.
This was my attempt at thinking of an origin story for a D&D Warforged, and what it would be like experiencing the world for the first time. Hopefully it stands on its own, even divorced from the setting which inspired it.
Header photo by Jill Wellington, found on Pixabay.com—a great source for royalty-free stock images