From the darkest shadows, He came, calling my name: “Hail, Wahdh Farghh, The Empty One: Child of Dark, Son of Set and Destroyer of Light!”
He reaches into his cloak, and produces an axe.
“I bring thee tidings from thy True Father,” He exults, “The beginning of the End of Light approacheth. I therefore deliver unto thee Thor-ak, Hewer of Light and Consumer of Souls, to aid thee in thy Task. Rejoice, for soon will thy Father join thee. Now begin thy Father’s work, for in thy hands lies the remaking of the world.”
Silently, I creep down the corridor, and push open the first door I come to.
The body within breathes deeply, and shifts on its bunk.
I pause, cherishing the moment. My breath echos in the stillness, my scars ache in time to the dull thud of my heart. Dark joy floods my soul as I raise Thor-ak.
Tonight, there will be blood.
Struggling against the darkness that grasps me from within, as well as without, I wake. Gasping for air, I strike a candle, chasing the darkness away. The light gleams off of my arm, and with relief I see that my arms are slick with sweat. Shaking, I fumble for the water flask on my bedside table and drained its contents in one draught.
There is a Dark Presence searching for me, tracking me in ways I can’t comprehend, through worlds beyond my imagination. Somehow He uses these dreams to try to draw Himself to me through my scars, but while they betray me to Him, they also betray Him to me. My scars haven’t wept dark, red tears since my exorcism at Enry, but I know they will again, for He is getting closer.
Falling to my knees, I cry out to my Goddess, but She remains silent.
The next morning, we arrived at Seaholm. I have lived among wolfen before, but this is the first time I’ve been to the Wolfen Empire. I don’t know why, but I don’t like it here. A shadow at the back of my mind sings a warning: I’m not safe here.
We went to a tavern on the recommendation of the harbormaster, and were joined at the bar by a fat, dandified gnome astride a Saint Bernard who claims to have been sent by a Goddess of Light. I didn’t catch which one because I noticed the taproom was full of worshipers of Set. I knew they were too busy carousing to notice us or care who we are, but it was still an unwelcome surprise.
I feel as though a great weight has been dropped on my shoulders. I had forgotten that the worship of Set is so widespread amongst the wolfen. Being right under Set’s nose like this makes my scars itch.
I want out of here.
Back on the ship, I attempted to find some some seclusion, to try to come to grips with my situation, but Rell followed me everywhere, and just wouldn’t leave me alone. Finally, I had to climb to the crow’s nest and cut the rope behind me to get some peace and quiet.
I improvised a sling out of some spare leather, and pulled some small rocks out of a pouch on my belt and started flinging them out into the harbor as hard as I can. One of them hit a nearby ship and caused a ruckus amongst her crew, so I decided that I had better cool it for a while. Frustrated, I muttered a prayer to Isis asking for Her protection, and suddenly I knew that I need to find something.
Cyclopean lightning arrows. I’m going to need lightning arrows.
Full of renewed purpose, I descend from my lofty perch to discover that the Gnome knows a local merchant, and the group intends to hire him to guide us to Avramstown.
Surely Isis is with me.
I attempted to bargain with the Gnome’s merchant friend, a tall dwarf calling himself Oric Bellode, but he claimed not to have any. I tried to ingratiate myself to him by offering to sell him some of the arrows Nath made for me, but other than admiring their quality, he remained unmoved. Crestfallen, I bought some regular arrows from him because I couldn’t think of anything else to do.
Clearly, this will take longer than a simple trip to the market. I will find these arrows for Isis even if I have to walk all the way to the Western Empire to get them.
As we prepared to depart for Avramstown, I was approached by a longbowman called Fred who “couldn’t help but notice I carried a longbow of some quality,” and “wondered” if I would care to test myself against him in a trial of skill. “If nothing else,” he said, “’twould liven the journey,” but the intensity of his gaze gives the lie to his words.
Apparently, one of Oric’s men considers himself to be an archer of rare skill.
After a few hours’ travel through the cold and wet, we were set upon by a band of bearmen who sought to disable our wagons. One charged out of the trees and straight into the blade of my axe, to his chagrin. Their attack was quickly repulsed, and I helped Oric’s men repair the damage to the wagons.
I am reluctant to hold my axe, much less use it, but with the forest close on each side of the road, and our wagon towards the end of the convoy, my bow was nearly useless. Close-quarters fighting was much more likely. To my relief, my axe is not acting the part of a Dark weapon.
During the midday meal, Fred caught my eye and pantomimed drawing a bow. I nodded my assent, which the camp must have been waiting for as a target was produced, and wagers made, with a speed that spoke of long practice.
I guess Fred’s bow has made money for Oric’s crew in the past.
Fred is skilled, but his technique is flawed, and it isn’t for nothing that I studied bowmanship under the great Nath Everall himself. The contest was short, and the conclusion foregone. To the disappointment of Oric’s crew, Fred surrendered my winnings, and I presented him with one of Nath’s arrows as a memento of our encounter.
The rest of the day passed smoothly, but the stillness of night was broken when a group of frost giants paid us an unfriendly visit. The fighting was hot and thirsty work, but longer in the telling than in the doing. The giants menaced us with their size, their massive swords, and their icy, wintery-fresh breath, but Gavin stopped three of them with one of his famous shield-things, Chip somehow immobilized the arm of one of the two still attacking, and Rell hacked an arm off the other, and the giants were quickly demoralized.
The following day was nearly uneventful: at midday, Rell challenged me to a contest of skill, his axes against my bow. In truth, Rell is a more skilled player than Fred was, but I am Cava, and my bow is Inas. The contest was close, but never in doubt. Have these past few months in my company taught him nothing about my skill?
Finally, we arrived in Avramstown. To my surprise, the merchant Oric paid us all for “services rendered” during the trip. I was not aware that I had been hired to chaperone a wagon team through the mountains.
In the temple, Ramen bade us perform the ritual washing, just like the last time. And just like last time, I reluctantly stripped off my armor and displayed my scars, the physical manifestation of my shame and disgrace, for all to see, and entered the water.
My Goddess! She has healed me!
Posted by Cava on the 5th of Thoth, in the 340th year of the Dominion.
Picture by charred