Ptolus: Blood in the Streets
Should have never gone to sleep. It seems I have awoken in a different place than where I went to sleep once again. What misery has the child brought to me this time. I stand and look around. I am still in a forrest, but not the same one we had camped in. Yet this seems familiar to me. I look and see lights in the distance.
I make my way towards the lights and as I get closer I see it. Singing Chasm. My heart stops for a brief moment as that feeling springs up again. Hope. I begin to run. Can she possibly have brought me back to the same time? Is Vallen there waiting for me? Does she even exist in this future?
I make it to the front gates. The guards there step out to stop me, but than step back and nod at me. I keep running through the fate and up the street towards my home.
It is there, a house larger than the others to accommodate a Goliath and his family. A light is on in the window.
I reach the door and am about to knock when a paralyzing fear overtakes me. What if something is different? What if in this future I never married Vallen? What about our children? Before I am able to dwell on this the door opens and there stands Vallen. She is in the same dress she was wearing when I disappeared.
“Moog what happened to you? You just… You just disappeared!”
" You wouldn’t believe me if I told you."
“Well you better tell me something.”
I followed her in and sat with her. For a moment I debated creating some elaborate story involving a wizard, but I had never only lied to her once before in regards to this and I didn’t want to continue. I took her hand and walked her over to the bench in front of the house.
“What I’m about to tell you is going to sound strange, but believe when I say it’s true.”
And so I told her everything. I told her about where and when I came from, my adventures with Baffin, Snow Nameless and Vennman and our mission to stop Leska. I than told her about Kristen and her powers and how I came to be here with the dwarves.
I must have been talking for over an hour and the whole time she just listened never saying a word. When I was done I waited for her response. There was a long silence that made me very uncomfortable.
“Do you believe me?”
I needed her to believe me. She quietly stood and walked into the house. What was she doing? She must think I’ve gone mental and was gathering the children to leave. I thought about stopping her but what was I going to say? Maybe I had gone mental and my adventures in Ptolus was all a dream.
She than came back out and sat next to me again. In her lap was a book. She looked at me for a moment.
“When you first came here and I was taking care of you, you had asked about Leska and what had happened. After that conversation I went and found this book so that I could give you more information as to the events. That was when I found this.”
She opened the book and turned it around so that I could look at it. On the page was an illustration… of me and Baffin, Vennman, Snow, Nameless and Torrin.
I took the book and looked read the caption.
“The Heroes of Ptolus”.
I looked up at Vallen. I know my mouth was open, but sound did not want to escape it.
“I thought at first you were a nutter, or perhaps were playing a joke on me. You never mentioned it again so as I got to know you I forgot about it. Than this morning when you just disappeared…”
“So you do believe me?”
“I have to. Otherwise both of us have gone crazy. My only concern now is, is this Kristen going to take you away again?”
“I… I don’t know.”
“Then we best enjoy the time we do have together.”
And we did. For the next few days I felt anxious, waiting to be torn away from Vallen, Arya and Kin’an. A few weeks went by and my anxiety started to fade. After a month I thought less and less about it and by the third month all thoughts of Kristen were gone.
Before I knew it a year had passed. Vallen and I decided to take a trip to Ptolus to find out more about what had happened sixty years ago. We left the children with friends and made our way to the great city.
The journey took the better part of a week, but soon enough we arrived. Ptolus had not changed much in the sixty years since I was last here. We made our way through the streets passing familiar shops. And than we reached the center of the city and there standing larger than life was a statue of The Heroes of Ptolus
It felt surreal staring at a twelve foot statue of myself. At the base of the statue was the story of how the “Ghost of Ptolus” (me) and his fellow heroes, hunted and killed Leska’s Ragesians. How we faced her and defeated her in battle. But her defeat came at a price as all the heroes save Moog died. After Leska had been defeated, The Ghost of Ptolus returned to the mountains never to be heard from again.
As we read this people began to stop and look at us. Vallen than realized they were staring at me. I had forgotten about my tattoos. I quickly pulled a cloak out and covered myself with it. I gestured To Vallen that we should move along. I could hear people whispering about me. We quickly left area as people watched us go.luckily no one followed. We soon found ourselves in front of the Ghostly Minstral. We decided to stay the night and start back home the next morning.
We awoke early and began our journey back. We decided to go around the center of town as to avoid the statue. This brought us past the Necropolis. It may have been my imagination, but I could swear my hand started to itch.
We continued out if town and made our way back home. The whole time all I kept thinking about was what had happened to me. What did I do once I returned to the mountains. Once home there were a few times I was tempted to seek myself out, but I decided against it.
Years began to fall away. Vallen and I watched as our children grew. Shortly after Arya’s tenth birthday Arten passed away. He had been a good friend and i missed him.
Soon our children had grow into adults and began to have children of their own. Vallen and I remained together and soon we realized that even though she was growing old, I remained the same age. We didn’t understand it. Was this a side effect of time traveling?
Than the day came where I had to begin taking care of Vallen. She was growing weak with age. I took care of her as she had taken care of me. I also read to her from her favorite books. Than one night she called me to her side.
“Moog, however you came to be here, understand that was the greatest thing to ever happen. My life would have been empty without you. If you should ever return to that other life, you must thank this Kristin. And should you return, I want you to promise me something.”
“I know when you came here you were haunted by your past and embittered by what had happened to you. It took a long time for that pain and darkness to leave your heart. Should you return to that other time, remember your life here and that this is what you fight for.”
She looked out the window. It had begun to rain. She than looked back at me. Her hand reached up and caressed my face. I held it there. She than closed her eyes. They never opened again.
A year after her funeral I awoke with a strange feeling. I got up and went about getting ready for the day, but for some reason decided I needed all my gear. I opened the trunk I had placed them in. It had been years since I had worn my adventuring gear.
I oiled and sharpened my weapons and cleaned off the rest of my gear. Once dressed I looked around the house one last time and walked outside. For some reason I decided to leave the front door open. I walked over to see Arya. She was puzzled as to why I had my gear. I told her I just felt like putting it on again. I sent an hour with her and my grandchildren and than said goodbye. Unfortunately Kin’an was away escorting the king to Gate Pass so I was unable to see him one last time.
I left the city and returned to where I had fought the dire bear so many years ago. I sat in the field and enjoyed the summer wind blowing in my face. And than the wind stopped. I opened my eyes and I was sleeping in a field. Kristin was next to me awake. She smiled and I smiled back.
Not long after we were confronted by
Ragesians soldiers. During the battle that old anger and darkness overcame me. I found myself attacking the prisoners and falling back into my old ways. I even almost killed Baffin for trying to stop me. But when it was over I didn’t feel the satisfaction I once had in doing those vile things to the Ragesians. This was no longer who I was.
The Ragesians still needed to be defeated, but not to satisfy my bloodlust. They needed to be stopped along with Leska so that there could be a world where Vallen, Arya and Kin’an could live happily. I would fight not for vengeance, but for a better FUTURE.
Fourth Entry Part II
Next next day was spent in silence as Vallen was still upset by my comments from the previous evening.. She would bring me my meals and feed me, never uttering a word. After taking away the plates she would sit in the other room and read. I was afraid this would continuee the next day as the morning started the same. She quietly brought out my breakfast and fed me an when I was done she would take away the dishes and sit in the other room reading.
At about mid-day the routine was broken by a knock at the door. I watched Vallen get up and walk out of my line of sight as the front door was behind the wall. I heard her great someone in what I now realize was dwarven. A male voice responded and than I heard the door close. A few moments later a male dwarf was standing in the entrance to the room.
“Vallen said you were awake and asking to speak to someone about sending a message to your fellow travellers.”
He stepped forward and I could now see he was an older dwarf, with a scar over his left eye. His brown hair was slowly being overtaken by the greys as was his beard. He stepped up next to me and introduced himself.
“I am Arten, captain of the guard. First I would like to thank you for helping defeat that dire bear. If you hadn’t stepped in those workers would surely have been killed by the time my men arrived.”
I sat up a little so that I could be at least eye level with him when I spoke.
“It was nothing. To be honest I thought they were…” I was about to say children, but than I saw Vallen standing in the doorway. “… in trouble. The rock they hid behind would keep the bear for so long.”
“Well you risked a lot to help them. Luckily you goliaths are a sturdy bunch. Vallen says you should be on your feet in a few months, but in the meantime we can try to contact your friends and let them know where you are.”
“I would appreciate that. We were on an important mission and somehow got seperated. I don’t know where there are now, but I know they were heading to Lyceum.”
“That is a weeks ride over the moutains. Hopefully your friends are still there. I will send someone to find them and let them know you are here.”
“In the meantime, rest up and heal. Please let us know if there is anything else you may need.”
With that Arten left. I could hear him the other room speaking with Vallen and than the door closed.
A few moments later Vallen was at the doorway again.
“I believe Arten likes you. He respects what you did.”
I was at a loss for words. She turned to go back to her chair in the other room. I didn’t want her to go. The words just came out of me.
She stopped and turned around and looked at me.
“Did you say something?”
“Yes. I said I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you the other day. I was just taken by surprise.”
She moved back into the room and stood next to me, her arms crossed.
“Well that was a very rude thing to say, especially considering how sensitive I am about my condition.”
“I didn’t realize.”
There was a uncomfrotable silence that seemed to last an eternity.
“I think you’ve suffered the cold shoulder long enough. Considering you’re going to be my only company for a while, we can’t afford not speaking to each other.”
With that she smiled, and for a moment I forgot she was a dwarf and realized how lovely she was.
The next few weeks when on about the same. Vallen fed me and took care of me. we would talk and now instead of reading quietly in the corner, she would read aloud to me. I came to find out reading was her passion. When she was stricken as a child, she spent her hours in bed reading and escaping into the worlds the books provided. As she grew her love of books did not diminish and she had read everybook in the city. She would take monthly trips to Gate Pass and get more books to read. I enjoyed those hours watching her as she read to me.
Nine weeks went by with no news from Lyceum. Arten’s messenger had arrived and not found Baffin, Nameless, Snow, Vehnmann or Torrent. Had they not reached the city? Had the Ragesians captured them? My heart sank with the thought of my friends being tortured or worse. Vallen could sense I was becoming depressed with these thoughts and tried to cheer me up.
I awoke one morning to find Vallen standing over me, a wide smile on her face.
“I have a surprise for you!”
“What is it?”
“I know you’ve been blue since you haven’t heard news of your friends so I decided what you need is to go outside and enjoy the sun. That may cheer you up a little.”
I could see she was excited at this prospect, but even though I was able to now sit up and feed myself, I was still in no condition to get out of bed and walk.
“Vallen I appreciate the thought, but how am I going to get outside? I can’t walk.”
“I already thought of that. You forget we are dwarves. If there is something we can’t do, we build something that can do it for us.”
With that she ran out of the room and came back with a wheeled chair.
“All we have to do is get you on it and I’ll push you outside!”
It was a difficult process as I had to support most of my weight as together we slide my broken body onto the chair. To be honest, even with all the pain, I enjoyed having Vallen’s arms around me as she helped.
Once in the chair she strained a little at first, but than got the chair rolling out towards the door. Once outside I had to cover my eyes a little because the sun was so bright. There is something to be said for being directly in the sun as opposed to having it come in to a room through a window. It was as if the rays were giving me new found energy. The dark thought of my friends began to fade away.
“I’ll take you outside the city so that you can enjoy nature.”
She pushed me through the streets and I was overwhelmed by how friendly everyone was. Spending time with Vallen had diminished my distaste for dwarves and I found them to be rather pleasent folk. The two workers I had rescued from the dire bear made it a point to introduce themselves and than invited me to join them for lunch. Vallen and I sat and ate with thier families as they told thier children how I had saved them. We laughed and drank, and it may have been the ale, but I found myself watching Vallen and having feelings for her I hadn’t felt in a long time.
Once lunch was done, we continued through the city towards the main gate. It was than that I saw it. I had had a feelings of deja vu as we walked through the city. Something familiar here, something recognizable there, but I dismissed them until I saw the lift. It looked as if it had been upgraded, but I know it was the same lift Vehmann and I had helped the dwarves with a few months ago. That would mean I was in Singing Chasm. My heart sank as the thought of Ragesians from Gate Pass could be here any minute now and destroy the city.
“I have to see King Morbin!”
“Morbin hasn’t been our king in years.”
“My friends and I were here not four months ago. He was king than.”
“I’m afraid that’s not possible. Morbid hasn’t been our king in over forty years.”
“Moog are you ok? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost?”
Forty years! How could it have been forty years? We were just here. We were… Krystin! She had transported me to the future again. That must be it. But how could Singing Chasm still be here? That naked dwarf had told us all the dwarves were taken as slaves by the Ragesians.
“Vallen, what ever happened to Leska?”
She was completely thrown off by my question. Her eyes were wide and looking at me as if I had grown a second head.
“Leska? No one has spoken of her in decades.”
“What happened to her?”
“She was destroyed.”
“That was over sixty years ago. Everyone knows the story. She was the defeated by the Champions of Ptolus. Where have you been that you don’t know that story.”
“Perhaps my head is foggy from when the bear smashed against the tree. It seems I have forgotten certain things. Please tell me what happened to the Champions?”
I could still see concern in her eyes. I wasn’t sure if she believed my excuse, but she went along with it.
“They were killed during the battle. They sacrificed themselves in order to defeat her. In the end only one survived…” She paused and looked me over. “I believe it was the goliath.”
I felt her eyes examining me and I squirmed in my chair a little.
“Yes, the goliath. I don’t know the details, but I do know that the half-elf, gnoll, shifter and human were killed in the battle. I could find out for you if you’d like.”
“No, that is fine. Just…” I was afraid to find out the answer to my next question but I had to know. “What happened to the goliath?”
“No one knows. They say he returned to the mountains where he came from and was never heard from again.”
“How long ago did this all happen?”
“I think it has been sixty years.”
I could feel whatever extra life the sun had given me drain completely out. Vallen noticed. She laid her hand on mine.
“Moog are you feeling ok?”
“Perhaps this was to much for one day. Can we go back?”
Vallen nodded quietly and pushed me back to her house where I got back into bed. There I sat for the rest of the day thinking about what I had just learned. Vallen tried bringing me food, but I had lost my appetite. All I could do was try to make sense of what happened. It was clear that Krystin had once again sent me into the future as I slept, but where the last time we had been able to get back, it seems that this time I am stuck here. I had become one of the lost ones she had mentioned. Also this future, although farther in time than the one we had gone to before, was different. Leska had been defeated and my friends had been killed during the battle. And what of the other Moog? Was I, I mean he, still alive? These thoughts crept into my dreams as I slept.
The next day I asked Vallen to let Arten know he didn’t need to worry about reaching my friends. When she asked why, I told her that perhaps we had missed them. I could tell she didn’t beleive me, but she didn’t question it. The next few days I spent in bed, not wanting to go out even though Vallen tried deperately to get me moving. Finally she had had enough.
“That’s it! I don’t know what has been weighting on your mind, but whatever it is, isn’t helping in your recovery. You need to get outside and start working to get on your feet. I’m not going to take care of you forever!”
She walked over with the chair and began to try and move me onto it. I was surprised by her strength as she was able to slide me off the bed and onto the chair without my help. She than rolled me outside into he sun.
“If you’re going to sit like a bump on a log, at least do it out here as I tend to my garden.”
And with that she left me out there and went about her gardening. As I sat and watched her I thought about my friends and our adventures. About the Ragesians and the evils they had inflicted on me. I than thought about Sela and what she had said. That I would have to change if I wanted to be with her. How there was a darkness in my heart and that I would have be rid of it before I could join her. She said that I would find happiness again and in the most unlikely place. Perhaps it is here, with these dwarves. I turned to look at Vallen as she kneeled down and plucked at the weeds. She was now covered in dirt and sweat and her skin glistened in the sun. Again those feelings crept up on me and a warmth filled me inside. This was my new life, for better or for worse, but perhaps for the better.
She looked up at me, wipeing the sweat from her brow, but leaving a dirt streak in it’s place.
From that day on I tried to forget the way I was and tried to be a better man. As the weeks went on we would venture outside more and more. I would try to walk and as the strength grew in my legs, so did my feelings for Vallen.
After eleven months I was finally able to stand on my feet and take a few steps. Vallen felt the need to throw a party to celebrate. After another month I was out of the chair and using crutches for support, shortly there after a staff until eventually I was walking on my own. And the whole time Vallen was there for support.
Once I was on my feet, realizing I had no where to go I asked King Mavil if I could remain in Spring Pass. At first he was a little warry, but Arten convinced him it would be an asset to have me stay. He had me join the city guard at Arten’s request and I became the first goliath ever to join a dwarven army.
I also decided I had intruded in Vallens life long enough and decided to get my own place. The city had already prepared for this and built me a home with ceilings high enough to accomidate me. It was a sad day when I left. Vallen was happy to see me be able to do things on my own, but when she cried I knew that there were tears of sadness mixed in with the joyful ones.
That didn’t stop us from seeing each other. We had lunch everyday and once a week we would get together and she would read to me.
I lived among the dwarves for two years. On the kings thirtieth birthday, the city had a large celebration. There was a grand feast with ale and wine. There was also music and dancing. It was at the dance that I finally expressed to Vallen my feelings for her. She looked beautiful that night and I couldn’t help but tell her how I felt. I was relieved when she told me she felt the same and we were married the next month.
She moved in with me and we were an odd match, the goliath and the dwarf. We didn’t care. We were happy. Soon we had a child, a girl. We named her Arya. A year later we had another child, a bot. We named him Kin’an. I had made a life for myself and ther I remained, watching my children grow for the next eight years.
Than one mornign as I prepared to go on watch I had a feeling of dread. Vallen sensed something was wrong.
“Moog what is wrong?”
“I don’t know. I feel something is coming.”
“I don’t…” But before I could finish my thought Vallen was gone. My children were gone. My home, Singing Chasm everything was gone. And in it’s place was a burning forest.
I awake at the bar with the bard trying to steal some of my coins. The female…Snow, prevents him. I look around at my surroundings and realize my life is gone. This is a nightmare I have to deal with for now. And so I will deal with it in a half dream. The ale will provide that. I think maybe I should just stay here and drink myself into oblivion, but something makes me want to follow my old party. Perhaps the bard is right and they can find a way to send me back. In the time I was with Vallen I had rediscovered happiness, a feeling lost to me for many years. And now another feeling that was lost to me for a long time. Hope.
Fourth Entry Part I
The ale pours into me like a waterfall over a river. My pile of gold diminishes with every pint. The world around me blurs and my friends get lost with the other faceless figures in the crowd. But are they my friends? Is this the dream and the faint memories of my other life the reality? I can no longer tell, as both are unclear to me now. Flashes of memory fade in and out of both realities. Either one could be real, but before I can settle on which is the true one the ale works it’s magic and I fall into it’s comforting blackness.
My dreams are dizzying, senseless. I am walking through a forest of endless fire with the ones who call me friend. We are trying to stay ahead of an army. The Ragisians? Soon we set up camp. For some reason we try to distance ourselves from someone. The Girl! During my watch I stand over her as she sleeps. Than it is my turn to sleep and it takes me almost immediately.
I awaken to a scream. Sitting up I quickly realize I am no longer in a flaming forest, but instead an open field at the base of a mountain. The scream comes again and I turn to see a child being attacked by what appears to be a giant bear. The child manages to crawl in between two boulders just out of the bears reach.
I get up and run towards the creature axe in hand at the ready. As I near the creature I realize this is no ordinary bear. It stands a good 12 heads tall and bones protrude from its back and face.
With its attention fully on the child in between the rocks I leap onto it’s back, burying my axe into its shoulder. The bear screamed and stood up right. I rolled off its back and prepared for its attack. It turned; it’s eyes burning with rage, focused on me. It dropped down on all fours and charged. I rolled out of the way just as its jaws snapped at me. It came to a stop and quickly turned and reached out for me. It’s claws tore into my right leg. I gritted my teeth as I felt its claws scrape bone. I rolled onto my knees and held my axe out waiting for another charge.
The monster came at me again. This time I swung the axe striking it in it’s neck. It roared again as blood filled the air. It stood taking my axe with it. I quickly pulled out my sword and thrust it into its chest. The beast screamed again as blood poured over me. It clawed at me again and I had to jump back, but the pain from where my leg had been torn open caused me to fall to one knee. It was than upon me it bit down at my head, but I managed to put up my left arm as a substitution. It bit into my forearm and I could feel my bones shatter.
It stood again as I reached for my axe handle and just managed to grab it before it began to swing me around like a rag doll. I’m sure if I hadn’t braced myself it would have surely torn my arm off. It stumbled towards the tress and swung me at one of them. Pain exploded behind my eyes as my body hit the trunk. I swear I heard something snap in my back. I could no longer feel my body and it just went limp. I fought to stay conscious but the world was slowly fading. The beast must have sensed that I was done because it dropped me.
It stood over me and roared. Blood and spittle fell on me. It was about deliver the killing blow when a crossbow arrow appeared in its left eye. Than another hit it’s leg. I must have been delirious because a dozen children suddenly surrounded the beast and they were attacking it with hammers and axes. I must have done more damage to the beast than I thought because these children were able to bring it down.
Once they were secure in the fact that the beast was dead the children circled me. I could hear them talking although I couldn’t understand what they were saying. The world was growing dark. The last thought I had before blackness was how hairy these children were.
I was standing in the golden field again.
I turned to face the voice. Sela was standing in the field behind me. She had a sad look on her face.
“Sela! What is this place?”
“It is a junction.”
“A junction to where? Is this the Shadowfell?
“No but there is a road that leads there.” She frowned a little.
“Am I to take this road?”
“Not yet. Your destiny lies down a different path.”
“But is that not the road that will bring me to you? To Khan?”
“Yes, but again that road is not for you to take yet.”
“No, I have nothing left on earth. I wish to join you and Khan in the Shadowfell. Tell the Raven Queen I am ready to join you. Tell here to take me to the Shadowfell where I can be happy once again.”
She smiled a little.
“I wish nothing more than to hold you again, but if you were to join us now, happiness is not what you’ll find.”
“How could I not be happy with you there?”
She laid here hand onto my chest.
“In the Shadowfell you take whatever is in you. Right now your heart is filled with pain and anger. If you were to join us now, that is all you would have.”
She moved her hand up to my face and I could feel her warmth as her fingers traced the tattoo I now wore.
“You wear your hatred and anger on your skin. There is no joy left in you. You must find happiness again before you can join us.”
“But how? I have nothing left. Those who seek to destroy our world beat whatever little joy I had out of me. I have nothing left but my hatred and the satisfaction of killing those that took that joy from me.”
“ And that is why you must take that path.”
I follow her finger as she pointed to a road behind me that ran off into the distance.
“What will I find there?”
“You will find what you have lost. A reason to smile again. A reason to fight for a purpose again.”
“Revenge is a good purpose!”
She frowned again.
“But it shouldn’t be your purpose. When I was with you, you fought for honor, you fought for what was right and you fought for love. That is the one I wish to spend eternity with. And that is why you must follow that path.”
She stood back watching me as I looked down the path I was to take.
“I will find happiness there?”
“Yes, although it will be in the unlikeliest of places.”
“Well if that doesn’t sound foreboding.”
I looked back at her and for a moment we shared a smile. I than walked out of the field and started down the path.
It was dark, but I could hear rain bouncing off the ceiling. My eyes were slowly adjusting when lightning crackled outside the window. I briefly saw a small room and figure in the corner sitting in a chair. I tried to sit up, but I felt weighted down. I tried again with a little more force but suddenly felt a pain in my back as if it was struck with a hammer. I let out a mall grunt and the figure quickly stood and lit a candle. The world was becoming blurred as the pain continued. The figure walked over with the candle and I could barely make out a small girl. She was saying something to me but all I could make out was “shouldn’t…try…broken…rest” and than the world went dark again.
For the next few days that is what my world was, bits of images and unfinished sentences from a female child. I would wake to find her sitting in the corner or standing over me and when I tried to move, unbearable pain would send me back to unconsciousness. Eventually I figured out what she was trying to tell me. I shouldn’t move. My back was broken and I should rest.
Once in a while I would wake up to find her feeding me. Other times she would be tending to my broken arm or cleaning the wound on my leg. Once I woke to find her bathing me and when I tried to stop her the pain sent me right back to the darkness. Whatever the case I never stayed conscious long enough to talk to her.
I don’t know how long this went on for but eventually the day came when I found the pain was bearable and I turned to see her reading in her usual corner. It was daylight outside and I could see now that she looked older than she should for her size. Her red hair was done in pigtails and it looked as if she was wearing glasses.
She closed the book and looked at me with surprise.
She was wearing glasses for she took them off and set them on the table next to her along with the book. She walked over and when she spoke she sounded older than she should.
“ Welcome to the world of the living. Wasn’t sure if you were going to make it. It was touch and go for a while there, but than your fever broke last night and I knew you were in the clear. You goliaths sure are tougher than most.”
“Where… am I?
“You’re in Chasm Pass.”
For some reason that sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place the name. Right now that didn’t matter. My throat was dry.
“Yes, let me get you some.”
She walked out of the room and came back a few moments later with a glass. She held the cup as lifted it slowly as I drank. She than placed it on the table next to me.
“I’ll leave it there just in case you want more. Just let me know. You should get some more rest. You still have to heal.”
I closed my eyes but opened them again.
“What is your name?”
She looked at me and smiled.
“Vallin. And what is yours?”
And with that I was out again.
For the next few days, (which was hard to judge since my days were measured by the times I remained conscious long enough to recognize Vallin was wearing something different) I would be able to move a little more with less pain. My arm was still in a splint, but I was able to move my fingers without to much pain. My leg had stopped bleeding and from what Vallin said was starting to heal. I would wake up long enough for her to feed me and every once in a while I would wake up and hear voices in the other room speaking with Vallin although I couldn’t understand them.
Than the day came when I awoke to find I had energy I hadn’t had in a long time. My body was still aching and I could barely move with pain, but I was feeling much better.
Vallin walked in with a tray of food and placed it on the table next to the bed.
“Yes. I feel much better. I feel like I could almost sit up.”
The girl walked over and placed her hand on my chest as if trying to hold me down.
“Not yet! You may not have broken your back, but it is still badly hurt. Better to stay laying flat for a while longer. In the mean time…”
She turned and grabbed the bowl, mixed the contents with a spoon and than raised it to my mouth.
She fed me and when I was done she took the tray back into the other room.
“You said I was in Chasm Pass!”
“Yes! We brought you here after your battle with the dire bear.” She yelled from the other room.
“How long have I been here?”
“Almost a month!”
“ I have to send a message to my friends. Where are your parents?”
She walked back into the room holding a larger bowl with water and a wash cloth.
“Why are you asking about my parents?”
“As I said I want to send a message to my friends. I rather speak to them about it.”
Vallin now looked confused.
“And why can’t you give your message to me?”
“My friends and I were on an important mission and we were somehow separated. I want to get the message to my companions as to where I am and it is very important it reach them. I may not agree with it, but if your parents trust you to take care of me, which I appreciate, that is one thing, but I rather the responsibility of delivering my message be given to an adult and not some child!”
The cloth that Vallin had just finished ringing in the bowl fell out of her hand and back into the bowl. A look of anger and confusion washed over her face.
“A child? I am no child.”
“Of coarse you are.”
“I may be a lot of things, but a child is not one of them.”
She paused for a moment and than a look of understanding filled her face. She smiled a little.
“I understand, you think because of my diminutive size that I must be a child.”
I was now confused.
“No sweetie, I am a dwarf.”
“You can’t be a dwarf!”
“Again, I think I know what I am.”
I was shocked, this whole time I thought she was a little girl. Than I noticed the low ceilings the small furniture and I thought about the people talking and how i couldn’t understand them. And then there were the children attacking the bear. The hairy children.
“But… but if you’re a dwarf, where is your… your beard?
She had a small look of sadness as she explained.
“As a child I became sick. It caused me to lose my hair. I was lucky to have the hair on my head grow back.”
“Well consider yourself better for it. One of my companions may disagree but females should not be covered in hair.”
I sensed a bit of anger in her response. And my response seemed to anger her more.
With that she grabbed the bowl of water and poured it out over my head. I jumped from the cold of it and that sent a surge of pain that over whelmed me and sent me back into the darkness.
We walked towards the flaming forest in hopes of reaching it before more Ragisians caught up with us. Even though the thought of dispatching more of those bastards to their witch goddess filled my being, the others felt moving on with our mission was more important. After the battle some of group needed a rest, especially the child. There was some debate as to whether or not to camp at the old mans house or press forward. I pointed out tactically we would be better off marching to the forests edge and setting up camp there. The child unfortunately was weakened by her powers. They seemed to take a lot out of her. So I volunteered to carry her. Reluctantly she took my hand and I whisked her up onto my shoulder where she leaned against my head and rested.
As we walked I couldn’t help but think of my son. I had once carried him on my shoulders as I carry the girl now. And like my son this girl had a strong heart and a fighting spirit. Thoughts of my son filled my mind as we continued to the forest.
We reached the edge of the forest where we could still bear the heat before entering and set up camp. Snow took the first watch and I the second. It was strange, but sleep was doing it’s best to creep up on me. It was a battle to keep my eyes open and than suddenly the world went black.
I found myself in a golden field looking up at a clear blue sky. I sat up and looked to see that the field extended towards the horizon. A child’s laughter echoed around me. I turned and there was Khan, my son.
I woke up and found that I was actually lying in the middle of a street. I had been dreaming, only to wake up to a nightmare. We quickly discovered that we were in a future gone wrong and the world had fallen to Leska.
As we dealt with our surroundings and the vile creatures that lived in this world, I kept thinking of the dream. I hadn’t thought of my son in years. Why now? Was it because of the girl?
We soon found ourselves in front of Phaetos, lord of the underworld of Ptolus now king of what was left of the once proud city. As the others discussed what had happened to the world my mind thought of the dream of the golden field. My thoughts came crashing back to our reality when Phaetos explained that we had some how caused this hellish world to come into being.
While the others, minus Snow, worked out a pact with the Demon to send us back I argued that we should stay and make our way to Leska and find the answers to how we could possibly have betrayed our world and what had happened to Baffin. It seemed that my mind was still distracted by my dream for somehow I ended up going along with Nameless and Venmann’s plan of having Phaetos send us back. Snow was not happy with the plan either.
And we quickly learned what happens when you make a deal with a devil. Phaetos released his Hell Knights upon us as a “test”. We quickly went to work on the demons, but they were a lot stronger than mere Ragisians and without Baffin there to heal and motivate us, the fight was very difficult.
We managed to hold our own in battle with these Hell Knights, but one managed to knock me down with his lance. The world went black.
I found myself once again in the golden field. I quickly stood up to my son’s laughter and turned to see him running across the field. I started to run after him. A joy I had not felt in many years began to fill me.
Suddenly the field was gone and I was looking up at Snow. Behind her a Hell Knight prepared to strike her. I quickly stood and blocked his attack. Before long another Knight bore into my side with his lance and I was down again.
My son had gotten ahead of me and I could no longer see him. I had to follow his laughter and the movement of the golden blades of grass as he ran now towards a figure in the distance.
I was up again, this time Nameless was above me. He smiled showing me his teeth and the frenzied look he gets in his eyes during a battle. We fought momentarily back to back, but than he teleported onto the back of one of the Hell Knights tearing into him. I brought the war hammer that had been the old mans, down onto the knight I was fighting and shattered his helmet. This war hammer I had come to find out was a mighty weapon. I will be well served using it in future battles.
The knight did not appreciate my relieving him of his headgear and sent me back to chase my son.
I was catching up to my boy when I looked up and saw the figure he was running towards. It was my wife Sela. Kahn ran up to her and she picked him up and held him up on her hip. She didn’t even notice I was there until I stepped closer. She turned to me and smiled. There was a little sadness in her smiled.
“Hello my love.”
“You’re not supposed to be here. It was wrong of Khan to bring you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s not your time yet.”
And with that she placed her hand on my face. I could feel her warmth and realized how much I missed her touch. And than it was gone.
I was once again staring up at a Hell Knight. This time it was Venmann who was helping me to my feet. A fury filled me and I went about helping to dispatch these demons.
As the last Hell Knight fell to Snows sword, Phaetos appeared and congratulated us. He than began the incantations to send us back to our time.
We awoke back at the campsite at the edge of the burning forest. The others quickly went about explaining what had happened. I noticed that the war hammer was gone, but for some reason it didn’t really bother me. My thoughts were elsewhere. I looked over at the girl and wondered if the ability to transport us to far off futures was the only power she had over me.
I stare at my reflection on my blood stained axe and I think perhaps I have strayed to far. The face I see is no longer that of the man that came down from the mountains. I have eaten animal flesh, I drink the devil water, and I am now forever marked by my choices. The white ink that covers my face and body was intended as a death mask. I had gotten it in hopes that it would weaken my enemies resolve in battle so that I could send them to the hell they deserve. But instead have I forever scarred myself.
As I watched my friends in the councilman’s hall looking over the skins, I saw the strong reactions each of them had to the hanging skins. I thought of this as I entered the room where I would get my Shared Heart tattoo. I pondered it even as I tried to bite back the pain from the half orcs needle. When he was done and I looked over the work I decided I wanted something that would instill that kind of reaction from my enemies. I decided it wasn’t enough to mark them, to have them fear my deeds, but also fear my image.
I explained to the half-orc what I wanted. He looked me over and than brought out the white ink. After many hours he was done and I looked into the mirror at my ghostly markings. This was an image that would burn into the Ragisans subconscious, it would follow them into their nightmares and for most it wold be the last image they would see before I sent them to meet their god.
When I walked back out into the hall, my friends were surprised by my new markings. For a moment I questioned whether I had gone to far.
As I stand now at the edge of the Burning Forrest cleaving the heads of the Ragesian dogs that we have killed I catch a glimpse of myself in my axe and wonder again. Have I gone to far? In my cruelty to these monsters have I become a monster myself? Have I alienated my friends with my horrific and sickening tactics?
I than turn and see Nameless devouring the dwarfs heart and Vennman incinerating his crouch with a magical bolt.
I look down at the final Ragesian and raise my axe.
It has been a long time since I have had purpose in my life, but now I see everything that happened before has led me to this moment. Whether
I see this through to the end or not, every moment I still take in breath will be spent wiping this world clean of those Ragesian scum.
I write this journal so in the event I should be killed another may find it and in reading it be inspired by our deeds to continue the fight.
I will begin this journal at the point where I became inspired. Killing these dogs was not enough; I wanted them to fear us. To fear me. I wanted every Ragesian to pause every time they mentioned our names. To tremble every time they recounted a story of our group. I wanted to put the same fear in their ranks that they had put into the people.
I will begin at Gates Pass. We had been waiting for the return of Torrent when we were told that some Ragesian spies posing as clerics would be lodging at the Golden Tower. We made or way to the inn to try and root them out. Once there we found multiple suspects but eventually the identity of the spies were discovered.
Our faithful gnoll Nameless followed the spies up to their room as Baffin, Snow, Venmin and I kept our distance. The spies entered their room closing the door and Nameless tried quietly to listen through the door. The spies must have been keen to his presence for the door came crashing open and Nameless was sent up against the far wall. The rest of us charged the room.
One of the spies was trying to make his way out the window. I charged at him and together we both went crashing out the window to the street below.
As the ground rose up to meet us I managed to wrap my hands around the dogs throat but before I could snap his neck we hit the ground. A deep embankment of snow had softened our impact. We were both dazed for a few moments, but the Ragesian recovered and quickly got to his feet. He stumbled away as I found my footing and the chase was on.
The cold air must have cleared the cur’s head for he quickly began to run. I to cleared my head and followed suit. He wove in and out of back alleys trying to lose me but like a wild dog that has caught the scent of wounded elk I was not going to let him go.
Eventually my prey rushed in through the back door of an old warehouse. I entered the building not realizing that this was the dog’s intention the whole time.
Once inside four other Ragesians quickly surrounded me. They circled me as the one I had been chasing stepped forward. He began to speak.
“So my large friend…”
I wish I could tell you how his speech ended, but before he could get it out I leaped upon him. The other four were taken aback as with one swift motion I had relieved the bastard’s body of its head. The others stood speechless as the head disappeared into the darkness.
Than it was my turn to speak.
“Anyone else have something to say?”
The dogs rushed me. The first one swung at me with his broadsword, I must say he moved fast for I barely had time to dodge the blade. I than quickly bashed his face with the hilt of my new battleaxe. He fell to the floor unconscious. The two to my left made their attack. I parried the first and his momentum carried him past me and he had to catch his footing leaving me time to block his friend’s axe with mine.
Our weapons locked and as he tried to pull them apart I quickly drew my sword and gutted him. His entrails hit the ground in a bloody mess with a wet flop.
His friend had turned and took another swing. His sword sliced my arm bouncing off my armor. I swung my axe down and it buried itself in his left shoulder splitting him down to breast.
The last Ragesian had been waiting for an opportune moment to attack. Seeing my back he charged with his war hammer. Unable to pull my axe free, I let it drop with the body.
The hammer came down meaning to crush my skull but I managed to move aside enough for it to miss my head and hit my left shoulder. The force of the blow dislocated my shoulder causing me to drop my sword.
I turned to face him just as he prepared another swing. Unarmed and wounded I decided to take away his ability to effectively swing his weapon. I moved in quickly closing the gap between us and grabbed the hilt of the hammer before he could bring it down. He tried pulling it back but I maintained my grip. He than collected his strength and yanked at the axe pulling it free. He lost his footing and stumbled back a little.
I moved in again before he could ready himself for another swing and punched him in the jaw. He stumbled back some more dropping the hammer on its head. The hammer bounced a little and before the handle fell I grabbed it with my good arm and with one swing brought it up. The hammer connected with the under part of his jaw, shattering it. The force of the blow sent the soldier flying off his feet and back against the wall. His body crashed to the ground. I stood over him and than lifted the hammer above my head swinging it down onto his head. It exploded like a crushed grape sending brain, bone and blood across the floor.
Seeing that the battle was over in leaned against the wall and took a breath trying to slow my heart. My dislocated shoulder throbbed and I prepared myself for what I had to do. I walked over to one of the supports and positioned myself. I twisted my body back and brought it forward with all the strength I had left in me. My shoulder hit the post, popping my shoulder back into place. The pain was excruciating and I let out a primal scream. I took a moment to collect myself and than went about retrieving my weapons.
I also searched the bodies for any treasures. My time with Baffin was beginning to show. I found a very decorative knife on the one who I had originally chased here. No doubt some sort reward for killing some innocent. As I searched the one who I had hit with my axe hilt he let out a small moan. I pulled out my new knife and was about to slice his throat when I paused. A dark thought entered my mind. A smile crossed my lips as I put the knife away for later use and searched for rope. I found some hanging from the wall and bound the unconscious dog. I than went about preparing for when he woke up.
Thirty minutes passed, and as I cleaned off the blood from my axe I heard the high-pitched screech from my prisoner. I found the dog trying desperately to get away from the scene I had set for his waking eyes. I had taken the heads of his friends and surrounded him with them. Their cold dead eyes staring up at him. I gave him a few moments to collect himself and than knelt down.
“Good you’re awake! I wanted you to be able to wake up to a familiar face.” I turned and looked at the heads and than at the one who’s head I crushed with the war hammer. “Unfortunately your one friend didn’t have much of a head left to join the group.”
The dog looked up at me trying to regain his composure. I could see the fear in his eyes.
“What do you want?”
I paused for a moment and than I laid it out for him.
“You are going to tell me where the rest of your spies are hiding, and how many there are so that my friends and I can pay them a visit.”
He looked at the heads and than back at me.
“I don’t know where they are.”
I scowled at him.
“Apparently you are not grasping the gravity of your situation. I have no need for a prisoner so my options are to kill you or let you go. What I do is entirely up to you. As you can see I have no reservations about having you join your compatriots, but if you help me out by giving me the information I want, it could sway me to let you go. So I will ask again, where are your fellow spies.”
He looked at the heads again. When he spoke there was a quiver in his voice.
“I don’t know.”
I stood and brought out my axe.
“Well than my options have dwindled to one.”
Tears began to well up in his eyes.
“Please, I was just assigned to this squad. I wasn’t completely briefed of other squad’s positions. I don’t know where any of them are. Please don’t kill me!”
He was sobbing now.
I leaned on my axe and looked him over.
“You know what, I believe you. I will let you live, but only if you do one thing for me. “
He looked up at me trying to stop his sobbing and I could see a light of hope spark in his eyes.
“If I were to let you go, your commanders are going to question why. So here is what you are going to tell them.”
I knelled down again to his level.
“You are going to tell them what happened here. You are going to tell them that your fellow spies back at the inn also met the same fate, for I’m sure my party has dispatched them as well.”
He shook his head a little.
“You going to go into detail as to what happened to them and that the same will be done to every creature that puts on a Ragesian uniform.”
I than paused.
“Which brings me to the other thing I want you to do for me. You see once you tell the story it will be discussed for a while but eventually it will be forgotten. I don’t like that. I don’t want the stories of what happened here to just fade away. I want it to continue through the ranks so that the every soldier dreads coming across me and my companions. So you are going to make sure it is never forgotten.”
I than pulled out my new knife.
“Now I’m sure your commanders won’t want you telling these stories all the time so I am going to give you something. It will be something that those that know the story will have them speaking of it again and for those who don’t know the story to ask you about it.”
I than grabbed the back of his head and brought the blade to his forehead. I pushed the blade down to the skull and the dog screamed. I than began to carve a letter into his skin. He screamed through the whole ordeal getting louder as I went along. I finished off and stepped back to look at my work. Through the blood I could see the letter M carved shakily into his forehead.
“Hm. Not bad. Definitely going to need practice.”
I kneeled down again.
“There now everyone who looks at you will ask how you came to have the letter M carved into your head, and…”
I put the blade of the knife under his chin and lifted his head so that he could see my eyes.
“YOU WILL TELL THEM! You will tell them that you were marked by MOOG!”
I than hit the top of his head with the handle of the knife knocking him out again. I cut his bonds and left him.
I stepped out of the warehouse and walked off to find my friends, happy in the thought of stories that would begin about us.