I don't know how I feel.
I've long known how unhealthy it is to let vengeance be such a core facet of my personality, but it's true what Aranyani says… there's only so much we can change once we're dead. Now that the object of my long vendetta is destroyed—the first soul to be permanently extinguished from the Whorl in… all of history—I feel like I need a new target for my ire or I'll… cease to be who I have always been.
It's been so long. I've lost so much. I barely remember being that young, black-haired blade dancer in an idyllic, war-free age, whose blades were for performance not bloodshed. That long-ago woman who was ensorceled by the Emperor's dead-eyed son hasn't really been me in a long time. I don't recall if it was months or years that I doted on Rama, my mind enthralled to his magic. For centuries my rage hasn't been rooted in the sex he compelled out of me so much as it has risen from my own self-disgust at my memories of willful and enthusiastic participation. Self-hatred has always been at the root of my hatred of Rama, as irrational as it might be. Intellectually I know that he compelled me with mind-control magic. But emotionally I remember "loving" him, and that part of me feels complicit in what he did.
Perhaps that's why, after the Transformation, after I fled, found Ravana, gave birth to my twins, I took up my blades and became an instrument of bloody death. Again, my memory fails me, but I know in my grief and rage I slew a great many high elves, many of whom were utterly innocent, and were even completely ignorant of what Rama had done to me. But by then war was raging, and what's one more pile of bodies amidst the carnage?
It was the death of Shatrugna, and the compassion of Bharata that brought me out of that fugue. Rama's brothers were not Rama, and I still grieve the fact that it took so many deaths to bring me to that conclusion. That's when my rage turned from hot to cold, and it has remained so ever since.
For centuries, millenia, I've watched from the Feywild and the Shadowfell. I painstakingly learned how to bind myself to warlocks to have agents in the world specifically to foil Rama's ever-inscrutable plans. Despite my cold fury and my cunning Rama was always, ever, outmaneuvering me. Even when he allowed me to slay him there by his throne in Ayodhya it furthered HIS plans, not mine. I am not an idiot, but I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. This culmination of my vendetta would never have been possible without the aid and cunning of Ravana and the sheer god-touched power of Tavi and her companions who, out of anyone, could truly understand what it's like to be pawns to Rama's diabolical genius.
The soul-knife I gifted to Tavi, in particular, is a work of genius I can take very little credit for. I was aware, to some extent, of the strange spell that my dear child "Lankeshvar" cast to neutralize the defenses of Sector 002 in the Astral Plane during his bid to free Ravana and Ratri. Indeed, I was aware that he had developed it carefully over centuries with the aid of mortal-entrapped Ravana. It operated by creating a vast number of tiny, meaningless soul-pieces to confuse the magicks of the Astral Plane, disguising the presence of true souls. After his freedom, it was Ravana who suggested to me that a soul might be permanently destroyed if the soul itself was bombarded with such fragments, shredding any coherence, any meaning, that once it might have possessed. We worked long and hard to create a magical engine disguised as a blade that could, first, entrap a soul, using magic already well-known in the Whorl, but secondly, to shred it in the aforementioned manner, directing any residual energies into a couple of minor effects.
That I gave this unique artifact to Tavi should come as no surprise. She and her companions had become wrapped up in Rama's schemes, one of her companions had even forged a personal and magical connection with him. Of all my warlocks, Tavi was the one most likely to be in a position to someday use the knife on my millenial foe.
And eventually, finally, after constant efforts to advocate his destruction, her companions agreed that he needed to die. They took a thousand drow, duergar, and other Underworld dwellers who had already been tasked with retaking Elemental Earth and they used Aranyani's cubic gate in an invasion unwittingly similar to the one Aranyani herself led against Mahadeva so long ago.
Of course Rama had some surprises up his sleeve. It turns out he had been working on learning the ancient secrets of soul-splicing and soul-splitting, using the ancient stored souls in the Archive to create… new beings, beings akin to the Angels… or Mahadeva himself. He immediately turned a third of the drow invasion force against the rest by promising, and demonstrating his ability, to permit them to truly die. Apparently he could do this by conjuring up their own ancient souls from the Archive, souls from when they were mortal, and fusing those souls with the people they had become, stripping away Yama's questionable "gifts" and granting them the peace of true death.
Confronted by the very reason for their devotion to Chinnamasta, Tavi's army fell apart leaving Tavi and her companions to chase down Rama alone. They confronted him only to find he had been experimenting on himself as well. Apparently he had found an Angel somewhere in Elemental Earth, presumably bound or unconscious, for Rama had been busily splicing Mahadeva's power into himself. He unleashed some of his grotesque early experiments upon them before entering the fray himself, but despite all his power, Tavi and her companions fought him to the point where he felt he should flee. And in this did he demonstrate why he did not truly fear them, for his capacity to flee was far beyond their ability to follow.
It took a while for my words to reach Tavi through the disappointment of their seeming failure. They did not know how they might trap Rama in this realm he had stolen, and some even floated retreat, but I strongly advocated to Tavi that she press the attack and offered a way to neutralize Rama's mobility. My love has a lynx, a magical creature, an extension of his will in the manner of all gods and their symbolic creatures. Once Tavi heard my words, pick-pocketed the cubic gate from Saatvik, and opened a door to the Shadowfell, Ravana's lynx went hunting.
They cornered Rama once more, and although he was able to call on some of his warlocks, Tavi was ultimately able to plant the soul-knife I had given her deep into Rama's being, entrapping his spirit. She could have destroyed him then, but she did not. Much to my enduring gratitude it occurred to her, a person who so rarely considers the desires and needs of others, that I might prefer to destroy Rama's soul myself.
After seeing to their would-be army, and mollifying the survivors, they came to me and gave me that great gift. And now, after nearly three millenia, the cold-burning purpose to my existence has been concluded.
I admit to some trepidation. What will become of me now? Will I decay into madness like so many of the devils and the fae? Purposeless, will I allow myself to drift to the Halls of the Dead to slumber until the Archive might be fixed? Surely not soon, but maybe someday? I suppose we will see. I still have Ravana, and while I am full-aware of how strange and unnatural it is for one who was once mortal to love a god, I do love him, and I have reason be believe he returns the sentiment as much as a being such as he might be able. I still have my warlocks in the whorl. I think I may still have some part to play in these events that are currently spiraling to a head. My fate is bound to Ravana's, and to Tavi's, and to dear Vihaan and Tatterdemalion and the rest. I suppose I can take events as they come and seek to forge a new purpose.
But Rama is dead. Not even the Archive contains what he was. In this I do not begrudge his uniqueness. Wizards and scholars might mourn the loss of a great and brilliant mind, but I do not. The future of the Whorl is brighter for the fact that he will not be there to influence it.