A wizard finds himself cornered in a small castle chamber after a dangerous difficult journey in search for a valuable artifact. He takes some parchment and writes down his story in the final hours of his life.
Day 321, First Wintersun of 17.
I passed the Halls of Darkness, the Marey Fields and The Forgotten Mausoleum. My eyes have witnessed horror, my body pain. I have seen torture, death, war and disease. I have seen fellow companions and friends lose sanity and wither away. But why do I begin this story with “I” and not “we”? We started out with sixteen other companions; many were lost in this sixteen month trek. One man for each month, one soul for every twenty days, twenty days for every step closer to doom. Death and despair chased me down to where I am now, writing my chronicle on bloody pieces of parchment, with howls and sounds of dread outside the large barred black door I am eyeing this very moment.
I do not know how much I will be able to write, nor if anyone will be ever reading about my most failed journey. I have not even the knowledge I will survive this night, I have little food, no water, no potions or elixirs. Haste is the key now, I will die but I pray my words are read and remembered.
And so I am here in a mildly lit room, it’s large, cold and there’s no bed, food or means of escape. In my backpack are two slices of venison, a loaf of bread and the item that caused the death of fifteen men and one woman.
We set out from Moruindal three-hundred and twenty days ago, I myself am a Wiseman in the service of the King, and with me were the captain of the guard; Ruhon, his troops and my apprentice Meja. We left the town of Moruindal and made our way through endless fields, dirt and forest. We prepared well and had full support of the king and the council of elders.
Not many know the King is a collector of artifacts; I have served him for fifty-six years in hunting down prized treasures and magical items. Nor not many know that the King is dying. However his unnatural intense fear of death is what brought me on this dreadful journey almost doomed to fail from the second it was conceived.
We passed the outskirts and farm fields outside of Moruindal, a trek taking us no longer than eight days. We were greeted warmly by the King’s subjects and were able to stock on much food. Our feet were already beginning to tire but we had shelter and food. We were equipped well, Ruhon and his men had tents of leather, and he himself slept in a most finely tailored caravan. Meja and I had our own shelter, a broad tent of red silk laced with yellow rims and ornaments. We slept on feathered bedrolls and we had large candles with the scent of Elderbraam fruit coming from them. The tents, food and other provisions were carried by three mules and a cart pulled by Ruhon’s men in shifts.
The ninth day we reached Branddoon Forest, neither Ruhon nor his men had uttered much of anything up until then. At the edge of the forest I noticed Ruhon’s men getting a bit agitated. ‘Captain’ said one of the bulkier guards, ‘I know we’re gettin’ paid ‘n all but rumor has it this place be haunted. There’s goblins ‘n witches ‘round here’. I saw the other guards nodding and mumbling, I knew the rumors about Branddoon forest but I had been there many times myself and found out these rumors to be only howls of wind and the unusual sounds the trees make because of the thick growth. And the only goblin I ever saw was a pile of rocks hidden slightly behind a tree, shaded and mossy, appearing as one though not being one. I observed Ruhon and wondered how he would be dealing with his men refusing service like this. He grabbed the bulky guard’s shoulder and squeezed tightly, walking slowly towards the edge, and stepping over a clear line showing the border between farmland and forest. ‘There, do you feel better now? Knowing you haven’t been put under spell yet nor have your legs gnawed off by a mean green goblin?’ he said to the guard. The guard looked to the ground and the other men smiled and followed. It was amusing to see, Meja and I hadn’t smiled in a while and we felt our spirits had strangely been lifted by Ruhon’s prank. The captain nodded at me and smiled, as I passed him he slapped me on the shoulder, it felt as if I had been hit by a boulder. I was not happy though; a lowly soldier touching an educated wizard is not how you show sign of manner nor respect and subordination in Moruindal. I eyed him strictly and he apologized. We went on, through mild growth of vine and trees. The sun shone through the roof of the forest and we felt at ease. I told Meja to collect some mushrooms along our path and whenever we would rest. Branddoon forest had always been a good source of ingredients for my potions. A particular species of mushroom, black and covered in green strange looking growths I was specifically fond of. They could be used to make a drink that would lift the moral of even the lowest criminal or drifter. Meja collected the mushrooms in a leather bag and attached it to her belt. She had many of these little pouches hang from every part of her waist belt and skirt.
I had taken Meja under my guidance seven years ago. She was thirteen; I saw her performing magic tricks in an alley in the slums of Moruindal. A place I only go to when I seek for obscure ingredients and information on matters. This girl at the age of thirteen was setting mice on fire by looking at them, not knowing she was doing harm though by the looks of it. I entered the alley and knelt down before her, patting her on the head I asked her where she learned this magic. She replied with a smile ‘I like the mice; they look so cute when they run around all shiny and red. I always liked the mice, I point at them and they go “whoosh”. I like them.’ I felt mocked somehow, this little brat knew the dark power of fire and had no idea how she obtained it. I grabbed her hand and started asking her about her family and past, meanwhile in the background a most disturbing spectacle of burning mice. ‘Do you have any parents little girl, why are you alone, do you have a home?’ She looked up at me and smiled again. ‘I have no parents, only fluffy shiny mice.’ Obviously this child was not working correctly in the head. I eyed her smile and imagined rusty cogwheels turning slowly and faulty. ‘You will come with me child, I will give you food and shelter and bring you before the council, and I will bring some mice and you will make them shine.’
Seven years later and here she is, intelligent, peaceful and compassionate. She is a woman now, all through my guidance. She knows about plants and potions and other powers; she can freeze a lake over with a touch and set a tree on fire by looking at it, though not ever able to harm a living soul again.
Night reached and we made camp, the men were tired as travelling that day became increasingly more difficult. Thick growth often prevented us from advancing, a situation not convenient with a company of superstitious sword wielding younguns. Ruhon ordered his men to set up the tents and caravans and clear a patch of dirt to make a fire. I myself …