The Lady of Pain: A Brief Primer


A Brief Primer to Her Serenity

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The Common Truth

From a cartographer's perspective, Sigil is pretty much as close to the geographical center of the multiverse as one is going to actually pin down on a map. It's floating on the top of an infinitely tall spire, defies all laws of gravity, and serves as a multiversal hub: portals lead from everywhere to anywhere imaginable. Sigil is on the mind of everyone, be they the factions, the fiends, the celestials, or the powers. Every single one of them wants Sigil, whether they say so or not. It's too much of a prize, too much of a temptation. The one who controls Sigil controls its gateways - and, well, what force wouldn't want to control where the portals go? Such a power could make Sigil, now a neutral watering-ground, into a stopping point for the fiendish or celestial armies, a raging battleground. However, none of this is. The reason? The Lady of Pain.

Nobody says her name aloud, for fear of invoking her fearsome presence. Silent and bladed, she appears as a tall lady in loose, brownish robes. Embedded around her face in a circular fashion are numerous glittering blades, and her serene face belies any emotion as she floats through Sigil, several inches above the ground. Those who try to talk to her get no response, or more commonly are flayed, as if their bodies were rent apart the Lady's own glittering blades with but a single thought. The Lady never speaks. In the past, when she has seen it necessary to deliver a message, it is through her also silent messangers the dabus. The Lady is the undisputed ruler of Sigil, even though she does nothing in its rule: she does not appear at the Hall of Speakers, nor does she make or enforce the laws of Sigil. She acts only in the interests of Sigil: when it is threatened, she moves to protect it. Minor concerns such as law, chaos, good, and evil are of no concern to her: she cares only for the safety of Sigil. Not the people in it, but the city itself. She is called The Lady of Pain because if someone gathers Her attention, then there is indeed pain. Other names she is called by, when people actually gather the courage to speak of her, are Her Serenity (because of her serene expression) and simply The Lady. Of course, one should keep in mind that one doesn't quite talk about The Lady in public or in private, because that just /might/ be enough to gather her attention... and the attention of Her Serenity isn't something that anyone wants.

What does The Lady do? Well, it's pretty obvious that she keeps the peace in Sigil. She prevents the powers from seizing it as their own. She prevents the fiends from rising up and tearing the city apart. She is there to protect Sigil from the many dangers that threaten it, wanting to own it or manipulate it for their own use. She's all that stands between the rest of the multiverse and the citisens of Sigil, and while they may not speak her name, they are certainly grateful for protecting them and letting them live their own lives, relatively free from the influence of the powers, the celestials, and the fiends.

There are as many theories as to the Lady's origin as there are people in the multiverse. Perhaps she was a rogue tanar'ri who came to Sigil to flee her brethren? Maybe she was the first dabus, as she has a sort of affinity to those, her servants. The actual truth of these theories is irrelevant.

One would think that a few masochists might actually see the Lady of Pain as their goddess and giver of unending pain. One would be right. But those who worship The Lady end up dying. Say words of respect to Her Serenity, yes, fear her. But don't worship her. Those that do... well, they're not talked about much after the mess is cleaned up. Nobody knows why The Lady seems to reject worshippers, but she does, and that is the way of things.

Those that would plot, scheme, or conspire against The Lady usually end up in a whole heap of trouble. Well, not quite. See, the Lady doesn't care about conspiracy against her: she's let people plot away in the past. There used to be a faction in Sigil called the Expansionists: they believed that every person should have the right to expand, to grow beyond their humble beginnings. Their factol was quite a schemer, and it's no secret that he had his eye on Sigil, looking to someday take it over and add that to his repetoire. Well, one day they apparently stepped beyond that limit, because their factol, Vartus Timlin, just plain vanished into the Lady's Mazes. They're like little pocket universes, except endless and twisted in on themselves, so that there is no chance of escape. However, the thing is that there's always an exit, and those in the Maze are sure of that fact: whether it's put there just to infuriate those who find themselves in the Mazes is not sure. Each Maze is individual: one will never find two sods sharing one. If one gets a glance at a maze at all. When The Lady gets sick and tired of someone in her town, or sees a potential threat, they just vanish into a Maze. Nobody can escape this, because it happens in the blink of an eye. They vanish when someone looks away, when the victim is completely alone. The Lady's reach is indeed far within her city.

The Lady's reach is far, and it's just as powerful. Once, an upstart power named Aoskar, a god representing travel, fortune, opportunity... and portals. Aoskar became a sort of sponsor for the City of Doors, and everyone respected him as greater than The Lady, for he was indeed the master of portals throughout the multiverse. The Lady didn't seem to care about this thought that was in the hearts and minds of the people living in her city... until a dabus dared to cast on the robes of Aoskar as his priest. The Grand Temple of Aoskar was shattered into a thousand pieces, and everything within a six-block radius was destroyed by the sheer wrath of the Lady of Pain. As for Aoskar himself... well, a new corpse was sent to the Astral Plane. Some Astral travellers even say that his astral corpse is impaled through with The Lady's Blades. Since then, powers stay out of Sigil. Their priests can come in, their proxies are barely tolerated... but powers find themselves blocked.

Another group in Sigil called the Communals believed in the rights of free property in all things. Turns out one day the faction told The Lady that she should share her power over Sigil... and their faction's headquarters just up and vanished. Into thin air. Nobody said anything: nobody dared to. Just another example of those that defy The Lady's will.

Nobody knows if the Lady is omniscient in Sigil, but an awful lot of people are guessing no, preferring to plot silently and preparing for their final confrontation. Some seek a mysterious orb where the soul of an ancient wizard that supposedly almost defeated The Lady of Pain years ago. The wizard, Shekelor, almost toppled the Lady all by himself, such was his power. That was many, many years ago however, and he has since vanished into obscurity and legend. But he did exist, that much is certain. People still search for his soul throughout the Lower Planes, hoping that when they find him, they'll be able to manipulate him into deposing The Lady. Others search for a way to revive Aoskar, knowing that he'll return to Sigil full of anger and vengeance, reading to strike down the upstart Lady. There are others that can only dream about controlling Sigil... and that's all that they'll ever do.

That's because if those plotters ever decide to act on their mad schemes and dreams of conquest, they'll be put in the mazes or flayed into a thousand pieces by The Lady's cruel blades. Evil? Maybe. But this is Sigil, and this is town of The Lady of Pain. If a body wants a philosophical debate with her, he's more than welcome to track her down as she moves slowly through the streets of her City. Such fools will be be justly rewarded.


Copyright 2000 by Jon Winter and respective authors,
artwork by Jeremiah Golden and Jon Winter


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