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Thread: [RP Story] Decay

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    Post [RP Story] Decay

    I found this tale in an old tome in the hindmost corner of my order's library. It is written in an ancient language, and it took a lot of time and effort to translate it, even for someone in my position as experienced chronicler of my order. It seems to be some kind of diary, and the extent of its contents made my skin crawl more than once...

    - I -

    "The midday sun blinds my eyes. Each step is more difficult than the last. Not a single clear thought finds its way to the light of day, but my feet carry me home. In one moment of awareness, I recognize our hut. The light fades. Not in the hut, but inside me. I fall...

    Night has fallen as I awake, lying in my scanty bed. Venya watches over me. Her head is close to mine as she sleeps. I try to sit up. Bektan lies at the bed's lower end, his small body curled up. A smile crosses my face, followed by unspeakable pain. My whole body aches. I sink back to a horizontal position and let my hand stroke through Venyas hair. Sleep overcomes me once more.“

    - II -

    "As I awake again, I am alone. No more than a faint light illuminates the room as I carefully try to rise. Still feeling pained, though not as much as before. Venya stands in the kitchen, cooking a fine meal. As she sees me, my wife darts for me and we share an embrace. Tears run down her cheeks. Never before have I seen her so distraught.

    Gently, I stroke a strand of golden hair from her face. I try to comfort her with words. But no sound leaves my mouth. Awkwardly I look at her and shrug my shoulders. Venya smiles at me and points at a bandage around my upper arm. I am surprised, not having noticed it before.

    Still, I look deep into my beloved wife's eyes, these gorgeous emeralds. I hear her words. A servant of Set dug its fangs into my flesh? Such an honor! But why am I still here, and not with HIM? Did Set not deem me worthy?

    The thought is interrupted by Bektan entering the house through the front door. Seeing me, he comes running and clutches at my leg. I feel blessed to be with my beautiful wife and son again, my heart jumps for joy. A perfect moment.

    Only one thought pains me: Why did Set not choose me?“

    - III -

    "Days go by. I cultivate my sparse fields, tend my sheep and cattle, meet familiar faces. They ask for my well-being, and I am grateful for their honest concern. Everything has returned to normal.

    Everything? No. Deep inside, I recognize their glances, punishing me. They look at me as if I am no longer human. The same thought seethes in them as does inside of me: He is not good enough for Set.

    I put up a brave front and resign myself to the world of lies. At all times, I carry my dagger with me. They will turn on me. I know it. But I am prepared.

    Only Venya and Bektan are left for me to trust in. I must protect them at all costs.

    What are you waiting for? Come and capture the unworthy one! I am expecting you...“

    - IV -

    "Each day brings along new pains. Inside of me, the anger is fuming. Miserable hypocrites everywhere, that lying breed... their mere sight makes me retch. With increasing frequency, my hand finds its way to the dagger. Oh, I should cut their dark hearts right out of their chests!

    Even Bektans look at me has changed. Of course, the villagers have told their children that I am undeserving in the eyes of Set. And children keep nothing for themselves. Surely they have already branded Bektan the son of a monster.

    My own son avoids me! The hatred for the other villagers grows stronger and stronger inside of me. I should lock them all up and burn down their huts. Or slaughter their flocks and use their blood to write Sets name on the doors.

    As I stride through the village, this site full of lies, their glances pierce through me. I see the mayor talking to... Venya. My beloved wife? No... Set... you vile spawn of a snake! Not my wife, too...“

    - V -

    "I wake up in the middle of the night, feeling strange. My hands... is that... blood? Oh Set! Horrified, I jump to my feet. My eyes find Venya blissfully sleeping in our bed. Taking a deep breath, I step outside and walk to the well to wash my hands. Whose lifeblood might this be? Thousands of thoughts circulate through my mind, but none of them bears an answer.

    What is happening to me? All this hatred, jealousy, doubt and suspicion... what am I turning into? Is it just my imagination, or is it real? Set, you damned curse of the netherworld! What are you doing to me?

    Eventually, I come to the conclusion that Venya and Bektan have to depart. I can no longer trust myself, cannot be sure of my own deeds. At least they have to be safe. I must send them off to her uncle in Kheshatta. After I awaken her, Venya objects against leaving, but I beg to her until she agrees.

    I have to act as long as my mind is fairly clear. My wife and son are on their way to the safety of the city. Determined, I make my way to the healer of our village. If someone might be able to help me, it is him.

    In front of his house, villagers stand clustered, whispering. Are they slandering about me again, these envious liars? No... no... I cannot permit the though... have to remain calm...

    Then I see the reason for the gathering. The healer... staked with daggers to the door of his hut... disemboweled and horribly disfigured...

    My eyes meet my hands. Last night... no... Set... you cunning hyena... Despair makes way for hysteria. Regardless of the villagers I burst into unrestrained laughter.“

    - VI -

    “Henceforth, their glances hit me even harder than before. The tides have turned. The villagers lie to me, deceive me, wish me nothing but death. This is no longer new to me. But they have not expected my resistance. They fear me. I see the glowing hate in their eyes. Sets puppets against the unworthy one. Not I am corrupted. They are.

    I forge out plans. Have to anticipate them. Remove the dark taint that haunts the village. Destroy the lies. But how?

    The pains in my body are getting more severe. They come intermittently, every time I expect them the least. My sight blurs, I have to vomit. Sweat drips off my forehead. It never lasts for long. But the aching returns, getting worse each time. I don't have much time. Have to act.

    Morning dawns as I leave the hut. There is only silence. I walk through the village. Nobody is to be seen. Then it hits me... this excruciating stench! Curiosity keeps me moving. The agonizing sight presented to my eyes is even worse than the smell. I fall on my knees.

    In front of the village elder, there are corpses. About a dozen, piled up to a heap of dead flesh. Mangled like the healer, disemboweled and disfigured.

    What... is happening? Have I done that? Then why can't I remember a thing about it?

    The pains hit me, ultimately dragging me to the ground. My head feels like it might burst any moment. Darkness falls on me.“

    - VII -

    “The sun is burning, sweat runs from every pore. So dry... need water... I open my eyes. One first glance shows: Sand. Everywhere. I must be in the middle of the desert. In front of me... a cynical jest of fate? As tall as a man, a statue of Set looms over me.

    I pick myself up from the ground as best I can. The sight of Set makes me fume with rage. Wretched father of cruelty, what do you have in mind for me? I spit on the idol and regret it at the same moment. My throat feels more arid than the desert itself. This is the end. It has to be. This is where I will die.

    I fall to my knees in despair. My eyes meet a collection plate in front of that idol of Set. Which insane fool would travel to this cursed place in the middle of nowhere to make a donation to the serpent god? Nevertheless, silver coins are on the plate. And also... I can hardly believe it... a bottle of water. At least half filled.

    Set ridicules me. I can almost hear his malicious laughter. I surely could abandon myself to my demise, lay down in the blazing heat to die, so this weird game would finally be over. But I cannot. I think of Venya and Bektan. The will to survive is stronger. Greedily, I gulp down the precious liquid.

    No, Set, you will not break me. Not you. I straighten myself and set out for... well, what exactly? I am unsure. Just get out of here for now...“

    - VIII -

    “The heat of the day makes way for the freezing cold of a desert night. I must have marched for hours already, without ever knowing where to go. I let my feet decide where they lead me, as my mind is no longer capable of coming to any decision.

    The sun burns my skin. She has become my arch enemy during the long walk. So I welcome the chill of the night. My sight becomes blurred but I force myself to move on. Set will not break me. Never!

    My dark thoughts are accompanied by the formation of dark clouds in the sky. Heavy rain erupts from the clouds. I laugh at the game the serpent god plays with me. Thick raindrops wash the sand off me, but the pains are unmistakable. My burned skin is vulnerable to every contact.

    I don't mind. Shall Set confront me with anything he desires, I will stand tall! I catch the rainwater with my hands and drink it. Provided with new energy, I walk on. Faint lights appear on the horizon.

    As I approach them, I begin to recognize palm trees. Camels. The silhouettes of men? An oasis? Rescue from this cursed desert is finally within my grasp. Unwittingly, I begin to run.

    Just before reaching my goal, I am harshly dragged to the ground. Something is pushing my battered body down. I scream in pain as the desert sand torments my burned back. Before my eyes, a face appears. Then, a fist. Darkness.“

    - IX -

    “The noise of battle abruptly yanks me back to consciousness. A burning pain pervades my upper arm, right where a snake, a servant of Set, has bitten me not so long ago. My eyes wander to the spot, where a symbol is now clearly recognizable. Not a tattoo, no... some kind of magical symbol. A black hand. I cannot keep my eyes off it.

    A masked warrior storms into my tent. My... tent? Just now I recognize the environment. He screams at me to move my damned ass and smash the enemy. What is happening? Without thinking, I jump to my feet and follow him out. Morning dawns, the first rays of sunlight come climbing over the desert dunes.

    Heavily armored soldiers are attacking the camp of the warriors, all clad in dark clothes and masked like the one who came to get me from my tent. I shall destroy them, he calls out to me. I have no idea how to do that, shrug my shoulders and look at him in confusion. He points to my hands.

    The sight makes me shiver. My hands... burn. Up to the elbow, the whole forearm. Still I feel no pain, I cannot even feel the burnt skin at my back. I don't know what is happening to me. But it feels damn good!

    Without thinking or hesitating, I unleash flames from my hands. I charge the armored enemies and let them burn. Their screams are wonderful, their burning bodies a feast for my eyes. I cannot stop, my fire seeks out all of them and sends them on a path to eternal darkness.

    The spectacle does not last long. In no time at all, charred corpses of soldiers lay all around me. The masked men have suffered losses, too, but about half a dozen of them still remain. They look at me. Not filled with fear and hatred like the people of my village, but admiring, approving... proud.

    I relish in the smell of burnt flesh. This unbelievable power... I feel like I am made for it. The alleged leader of the masked men, the one who got me out of my tent, walks up to me. He kneels down. The others join him in doing so.

    Neseret, they whisper in awe. I have never heard the word before. But I know by instinct what it means, as if it was the first word I had ever thought of.
    God of flames.“

    - X -

    “The masked men introduce themselves to me as Aran Netra, the handpicked sentinels of the Chosen. It is obvious that they do not mean me by that term. They claim that the Chosen has come to know about my existence and demands to see me.

    I still have no clue what is wrong with me. Set, you cursed son of a toothless snake, what are your intentions for me? For the moment, I decide that it is reasonable and beneficial to my own well-being to follow these men. Maybe the Chosen has some answers for me.

    The journey takes quite some time. The desert heat no longer matters to me – I absorb it, nurturing my inner flame. I have given up wondering about it. The events of the last days and weeks cannot be understood by my simple human mind. Well, maybe... not yet.

    After days of hiking through the desert without any mentionable incidents we arrive at our destination. An interesting construction: A fortress made of weathered white stone, just partially protruding beyond the desert sand. The Aran Netra tell me what an honor it is for me to set foot into this place. Only few would ever see the fortress, and even fewer would live to tell about it.

    A heavy gate opens at the command of the sentinels' commander. Torches illuminate the entrance hall. The gatekeepers are masked and dressed quite similar to the Aran Netra, but completely in the color of the desert sand. I am led through the enormous hall up to a door made of pure gold, skillfully engraved with a majestic cobra.

    What is this place? Is this where Set himself resides? A cold shiver runs down my spine. The commander of the Aran Netra demands me to enter. He himself is not allowed to enter this place, and noncompliance is met with a punishment of death. I swallow hard. Curiosity rushes over me. The confidence in my recently gained skills gives me strength. And what do I have to lose?

    I tread into the room. It is completely dark, just sparsely illuminated by a reddish glow. A voice carries to me, as cold as ice, hot as the sun and menacing like death, seemingly coming from everywhere at once. It booms like an epic thunderstorm and at the same time whispers like the faintest summer breeze. Never before have I heard words spoken so clear.

    Welcome, Seeker.
    Welcome to the heart of Kyram's realm.
    Welcome to the halls that harbor the Master of the Black Ring.“

    - XI -

    “Awe, amazement and cold fear come over me. I stand rooted to the spot, not knowing what to do or say. Out of the billow of reddish mist, a figure steps up to me. A tall, slender man, draped in black garments with crimson ornaments. He lays his hand on the mark at my upper arm – the place where a snake had bitten me, where the magical symbol of a black hand was on display now.

    Pictures flood my mind. Not merely images, but knowledge. More than any ordinary man can bear. I let out a scream and go down on my knees.

    This man... his name is Kyram. He is the Chosen, the Master of the Black Ring, a union of powerful mages. I see a citadel... close to Kheshatta... faces... the mages of the Ring... their powers... fire, lightning, ice, poison, blades, blood, insanity, death... sentinels appearing out of nowhere and slashing enemies... demons... the undead... war... suffering... pleasure... power... Set, the wretched serpent...

    The images fade. I breathe hard. Kyram commands me to rise, and I obey. Now is the time for answers, he whispers to me. My questions need not be asked. He knows them all.

    The pains inside of me – it was the unbelievable power that was given to me and that my pathetic body could not deal with.

    geplantThe madness, the fury, the paranoia – it was the poison that dazed my mind and made me correspondent to the gift which was bestowed on me.

    The fire that burns inside of me – just a fragment of the power I wield. Even the dark clouds, the thunderstorm in the desert... it was not the doing of Set. It was created by none other than me. A chosen mage of the Black Ring.

    The snake bite, the black hand on my arm – trials that I had to undergo. My will was tested on the long journey, as was my resolve, my urge to survive, my thirst for vengeance. Thoughts are racing. My head aches. So all this was... planned?

    Kyram tells me that fire and lightning are not my only allies. Most mages of the Ring control just one or two kinds of magic. I, however, should have the ability to use all of them.

    Water. Stone. Soil. Lightning. Death. Flame. The Aran Netra had called me Neseret, god of flames. Little did they know...

    Kyram calls someone in. In the disarray of my mind, I only realize it marginally. A strong-built man with the eyes of a serpent enters the room. Half man, half demon. He looks at me in disdain.

    His name is Teroch. What I learn about him makes me shudder. It was him who led the snake to me. It was him who had almost turned me into a slave of madness. It was him who had killed the people from my village. It was him who had forced me on my joruney through the desert. It was him who had knocked me down. He did all this to me, separated me from my family, turned me into this... this... abomination!

    Wild rage runs through me. I attempt to control myself, hardly succeeding. Patience is of the essence now. I vow that Teroch will die by my hand.“

    - XII -

    “In the desert, days seem to be endless. I exercise all the talents that are still hidden inside of me. Only few adepts of the Black Ring dare to approach me. They fear me. I am growing accustomed to that status. A young man arrives just a few days after me. His name is Shukur, and he is very talented in the skill of invading someone's mind and driving him mad. He is assigned as my comrade. We get along well, and his talents will surely become useful to me.

    I continue to gain better control of the powers that I know are inherent in me now. I let hailstorms appear whenever I please, a skill that would have been helpful to irrigate my fields in my old life as a farmer. I take pleasure in setting slaves on fire and watching them perish, burning and laughing after Shukur destroyed their minds. I let scorpions, as tall as a man, die a miserable death by tainting them with their own poison and subsequently reclaim them from the realm of the dead to make them eat their own hatchlings.

    The indications of insanity and paranoia inside of me soon make way for a certain arrogance. Plenty of incompetent individuals occupy the ranks of the Black Ring. I could smash them at lightning speed and revel in their suffering. Only few of them would be a match for me. I harness that thought. It will be the driving force of my fury, my vengeance, my anger... my triumph!

    I seek quarrels. Everyone shall know that I consider myself superior, that I take offense in the presence of these amateurs, and want nothing more of them than their blood. One by one, they fall prey to me. Kyram, the Master of the Ring, is not overly excited about the losses, but he admires my determination. In this place, the only rule is: Eat or be eaten. I rally further comrades-in-arms around me, constituting my own network of followers inside the halls of the white fortress.

    My chosen enemy, the half-demon Teroch, knows about the advantages of supporters. I have to face him at eye level. And I acquire more important allies. The Aran Netra, the sentinels of the Master of the Ring, are secretly aligned with me. They venerate me since my powers came to light in their desert camp, whereas they despise Teroch for patronizing them due to their own incapability to perform magic.

    I continue to sweep the seemingly unworthy members of the Black Ring out of the way. Even well-trained mages are far from safe unless they are on my side. They are nothing more than training adversaries... prey. Those few that might be able to oppose me are manipulated by Shukur on a mental level. He is my chief supporter.

    Eventually, the time has come. I call out a duel against Teroch. Master Kyram is irate, but I have earned the privilege of such a challenge. Teroch is considered to be a personal elect of Set, a son of the sacred serpent. It makes no difference to me. I have renounced Set long ago. And Teroch, this spawn of filth, shall suffer and beg for the continuation of his wretched existence.

    We clash on the small roof terrace of the white fortress. Teroch and me, as well as two abiders on each side, surrounded by some of the most powerful mages of the Ring. Very well – they shall witness me crushing this maggot.

    The opening round goes to my enemy though. As quick as lightning, Teroch grabs Shukur and tears him apart with ease. His brief scream rattles the desert. I swallow hard. Without Shukur, this battle will be much harder than the former ones. Teroch is a monster, an abomination, maybe a son of Set himself indeed. His yellow snake eyes flash at me. A blow out of nowhere makes me hit the floor.

    Could I have bitten off more than I can chew?“

    - XIII -

    “Faith in my own abilities makes me jump to my feet again. Scornfully, I look at Teroch and let out a sardonic laugh. His move was a clever one, but he is nothing more than vermin that I will squash with pure delight. My arrogance goes sky high. I will let this serpent spawn feel my fury in every way imaginable!

    The terrace of the white fortress trembles. I grin like a young boy watching girls go skinny-dipping. The outer ashlars of the building pile up in front of me, an estimated three meters high. I give form to the white stone. A golem without eyes, obeying my command. Teroch looks aghast back and forth between me and the lithic giant.

    I see Master Kyram, his eyes bearing a fiery glow. He is all but delighted about my misappropriation of his fortress. But his hands are tied, as the rules of the Ring imply that a duel must never be disturbed. Deliberate interference in such a battle is sentenced with capital punishment.

    Teroch roars something far from intelligible. The size of his body takes on an enormous scale, so he is in no way inferior to the golem. A heavy blow by the lithic colossus makes him stagger for a moment, then the half-demon Teroch clutches the “head“ of my creation with both hands and crushes it, although with violent effort.

    The duel of the giants buys me some time. I bend over the malformed body of Shukur. Once more, he shall lend me his support. I speak dark words. Black smoke cloaks the corpse. The eyes of my comrade light up in a bloody red as he rises at my command. My second abider, Faleyn, one of the Aran Netra, the sentinels of the Ring, meanwhile uses his talents wisely.

    During all the chaos, Shukur's death and Teroch's fight against the golem, Faleyn blends with the shadows. Now Teroch's abiders lay on the ground with their throats cleanly cut. It is always good to pick your comrades wisely. Where Teroch wants slaves, I choose allies.

    My enemy, the half-demon, is no longer able to keep up his enlarging spell. Out of the corner of his serpent eyes, he spots the corpses of his fellows as they rise at my command, staring at him with crimson eyes. Faleyn has already blended with the shadows again. Teroch's scream is fueled by pure rage and hurt vanity.

    He targets me immediately and breaks into a run, leaping over the remnants of the stone golem... and then stopping abruptly. I burst out laughing. It feels so good to torture this miserable wretch. I let his hot serpent blood turn to ice and direct his own poison against him, like I did so many times with scorpions. He suffers. Good. I send my undead devotees against Teroch. Their hands rip holes into his horrifying body.

    The half-demon looks straight at me, his deviant eyes mirroring a mixture of ravenous loathing, bewilderment and... fear. His fright grants me even more stimulation to obliterate this freak of nature from the face of the world. It is time to apply the final blow, and it will not be quick and easy. He shall suffer, as much as he has made me suffer. I reach out with the palms of my hands pointing in his direction and laugh with all my heart.

    Teroch lets loose an unmistakable wail, the yelling of a hyena, paired with the cowardly hiss of a snake. His hideous body is burning. His own poison opposes him vigorously and lets his organs fail, which are ripped out by my undead devotees. His iced blood prevents any movement. He is helplessly at my mercy, and I show none of it. Teroch dies a slow, agonizing and inevitable death.“

    - XIV -

    “Brimming with disbelief and astonishment, all of the other attendees are watching my masterwork: mages and sentinels, young ones and old masters, newcomers and veterans. Master Kyram's gaze makes me shiver. But his words betray nothing of his inner turmoil. I am told to recover from the encounter and meet him on the terrace at sunrise.

    Yes, I can definitely use a period of rest. The fury inside of me subsides, and not even the infinite satisfaction about the destruction of this horrifying creature that has caused me so much suffering and brought me to the verge of insanity, can hide the fact that the battle has been highly exhausting. In the meantime, the undead I had conjured have returned to the realm of the dead.

    I take my time to bid Shukur farewell, closing his wide open eyes. Thank you, friend... I also thank Faleyn for his assistance. The young man grins. The play with the shadows obviously gives him great pleasure.

    I have attained the end I had in sight all the time. My tactics have worked out perfectly. I honestly have to struggle against my display of arrogance becoming an actual part of my personality. There is nothing to keep me here anymore. I look forward to the meeting with Kyram. It will not be an easy endeavour to leave this place.

    My sleep is uneasy. Thousands of thoughts are teasing me. I almost reckon that Kyram sends an assassin to end my life while I am asleep. But that would not be like him. My thoughts circle around my family. What might they do right now? Would Bektan slumber blissfully? And Venya... my gorgeous wife... do you dream of me each night, just like I dream of you?

    At the break of dawn, I am already on my feet. I have had conversations with some people and made arrangements. At the time Kyram arrives on the terrace with his guards, I am expecting him. The Master of the Black Ring does not appear overly surprised. He indicates to his escorts to stand back and takes a seat beside me, on a large white piece of stone that remained of my golem.

    For a few minutes, the silence is absolute. I know that I have to speak up. Eventually, I work up the courage to inform Kyram that I will leave the fortress. He nods his head. His voice betrays no sign of anger. The Master of the Ring senses that the arrogance and determination I displayed when I took out my enemies – especially Teroch – is abating. He knows that I never acted in the name of Set. Yet he is also impressed by the extent of my magic, maybe even proud of having brought me to this place.

    Kyram issues an ultimatum till noon, when the sun will reach its peak. Until then, he will take no action. But after that point, my life will no longer be worth a copper coin and I will be considered fair game. Young and aspring members of the Black Ring will attempt to rise to the challenge of destroying me. Each ring mage that I meet from now on will desire my death. Kyram himself will send the best assassins to put an end to my existence. Many decent people all throughout Stygia will claim my blood, avid for a high bounty and the approval of the Ring.

    It makes no difference to me. I have to get away from this place. Eventually turn my back on Set. Find and go my own way. Use the powers I wield for a reasonable cause. And above all, finally see Venya and Bektan again... Kyram may have given me time till noon, but I know how the Ring works, the rules of those in command. I have no more than an hour.“

    - XV -

    “I have no time to spare. Everything is prepared anyway. This place, the white fortress of the master of the Black Ring, I will never see again. And I am not leaving alone. A handful of loyal men from my personal circle, as well as some of the Aran Netra, will accompany me. They fear for their lives after having sided with me.

    Our destination is obvious: Kheshatta. I have to get to my family. They are so close to the Black Ring Citadel... what if Kyram knows about them and already sent a messenger? I cannot get rid of the thought, and it drives me through the desert sand with pure determination. Some of my companions have a hard time keeping up with my pace.

    Eventually, we reach Kheshatta. I set my abiders at the liberty to go their own ways, but most of them decide to stay. They gather at the market, a strategically convenient location, looking for strength in their collective, obtaining food and water. I run. My lungs are almost bursting, but I don't care. My heart races as I knock on an unremarkable door.

    It feels like an eternity passing by. Energetically, I knock for a second time, and after the third time, my hand starts to bleed. I am tempted to shout the names of my wife and son, but I cannot endanger their safety. A tiny observation slit opens up. Moments later, the door opens. Bektan bolts out and clings to my leg. I lift him up, hugging and squeezing him while tears of joy stream down my cheeks.

    In the doorframe stands an old man, Venyas uncle. He calls out for her. I step inside. My wife spots me. She looks at me unbelieving for an instant, then rushes to me, embraces me and Bektan, and kisses me again and again. Her green eyes sparkle of pure joy. I wish for this moment of bliss never to end. But we must make haste. I have to get them to safety.

    In a hurry, we wrap up only the bare necessities. I offer my deepest thanks to Venyas uncle for giving shelter and protection to my loved ones, and provide him with some gold coins that he accepts grudgingly. With my son carried in my arm and my wife's hand clasped by mine, I return to my friends. They have obtained supplies and horses in the meantime. Swiftly we set out on our next journey.

    There is no specific destination for us. However, I have some people in mind that we will turn to: The heavily armored warriors that once attacked me and the Aran Netra in our desert camp. Faleyn has told me that they are sworn enemies of the Black Ring. No better allies to think of... the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The route leads northwards, to Shem. In the city of Eruk we are supposed to find them: the legendary Asshuri warriors.“

    - XVI -

    “The long journey from Stygia to Shem passes by almost uneventfully. One daring assassin who is naive enough to attack finds his death. There is nothing more to see about the Black Ring. I am almost disappointed. Some bandits try their luck but end up... luckless.

    In Eruk, our small group is greeted surprisingly friendly and hardly unexpected. Shem obviously is a region where news and rumours spread fast, and also a land where hospitality is a huge priority. We are offered lodging, food and beverages.

    One of the leaders of the Asshuri agrees to meet us Black Ring deserters. He is very curious about our fate. I tell him the story of our small group – mainly my own story – and he appears sincerely fascinated. We are referred to a unit of the Asshuri who dedicate themselves to hunting the Black Ring. A letter of recommendation shall grant us access to their camp, and a messenger will report on our soon arrival.

    For now, we enjoy the hospitality of the Shemites. The long journey, always wary of possible threats, has been fraught and exhausting. I spend much time with Venya and Bektan. We explore the city and enjoy being together as a family again. Faleyn, the young Aran Netra, takes care of preparations for the continuation of our travels, and I am most grateful for his assistance.

    Two days later we set out again. The journey leads us a fair way back south, close to the river Styx. It figures that warriors which hunt the Black Ring would set up camp close to Stygia. Their encampment is located in a hard-to-reach canyon, hardly visible and almost inaccessible from every side. Natural caves in the rock face offer safety. The guards let us pass. Once again, we are greeted kindly, though with a touch of wariness and skepticism.

    As the leader of our group, I am taken to an imposing female warrior. She bears the insignia of a general and, as I have been told, is a hero in Shem after leading a revolution that freed her people from the tyranny of a despot. Since then, she takes care of defending the country – and hunting the Black Ring. Her armor shines golden in the midday sun, and her dual shortswords flash like the fangs of a predatory animal.

    She welcomes me and my companions to the camp of the “Nimrods of Decay“, the chosen special forces of the Ringhunters. The warrior appears visibly amused about the fact that deserters of the Black Ring would come to see her and her troops. Her eyes sparkle in the same radiant green as those of my wife, indicating respect, intelligence and natural authority. Her name is Samasch.“

    - XVII -

    “In the days that follow, Samasch and I are joined by some of our respective followers. We tell our stories to each other, laughing together and forging plans. My group of Ring deserters will join the Nimrods of Decay. Our very immediate experience with the Black Ring, as well as the magical abilities that I and some of my abiders wield, are of immeasurable value for Samasch and her Ringhunters.

    I learn that the name of the group alludes to the Black Ring – the Asshuri speak disdainful of the “Disciples of Decay“ when talking about the Ring mages, while a Nimrod is a hunter with outstanding abilities in the understanding of the Shemites. And that is definitely what they are. A special squad with only one goal in mind: Destroying the Black Ring.

    We decide not to take the offensive, as we are still in the minority. Targeted, occasional attacks and most of all, constant observation shall earn us an advantage. A small squad, led by Faleyn and two other former Aran Netra, heads out to investigate the white fortress. The reports we receive after their return are confusing. I would have assumed the fortress to be abandoned. Instead, it has completely vanished.

    There is just one more focal point left to encounter the Black Ring. Kheshatta. The Citadel. An assault would be suicidal. So we confine our efforts to the previous plans. We, the Nimrods of Decay, have plenty of time. Months pass, years go by. Patience is our most important and valuable weapon. One day, heroes will arise to shatter the Black Ring. On that day, we will be there to join them.

    Maybe it will not be us, Samasch, Faleyn, me and all the others. But our descendants will continue to pursue our paths. Bektan, my son, already displays talents that will hardly be inferior to mine in a not too distant future. He spends a lot of time with Samasch's daughter Sepideh, a brilliant swordfighter. And even the daughter that my beloved wife Venya gave birth to during our time in the camp of the Nimrods, will surely wield great power one day.

    Generations will fight against the Disciples of Decay. They will observe them. They will study them. They will work under plenty of names. They will come from many nations. They will wield the most diverse skills and weapons. They will know them better than themselves. They will fight as if there were no tomorrow. And one day, they will destroy the Black Ring.

    At that thought, a smile appears on my face. I carry my beautiful little daughter in my arms. She looks at me with big eyes, as green and sparkling as Venya's.

    Do not fear.

    Everything is going to be alright, Hathor-Ka.“

    -END of records-

    Lore about the further work and operations of the Nimrods of Decay is unknown to me at present.

    [Note: This story was originally written about 3 years ago, at first in my native language German, and later translated into English. Now I felt like optimizing the translation and sharing "Decay" with the AoC community once more. I hope you enjoyed reading it.]
    Last edited by Coryan; 16th January 2014 at 15:49.
    Coryan (DT) - Stinja (Barb) - Mishal (Sin) - Roneca (BS) - Vihani (HoX) - Jainh (ToS) -
    Kimarys (Guardian) - Demracon (PoM) - Zhandiya (Demo) - Rova (Ranger) - Josephyn (DT) -
    Surioara (Nec) - Alizani (Conq) - Kivonah (Sin) - Victess (Demo) - Subil (BS) - etc.

  2. #2

    Thumbs up

    Awesome story. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
    It ended chillingly with the name of the child.

    Brilliant mage-origin storie and how Stygians can come into conflict with the Black Ring.

    I hope you have more untranslated stories and that you write more.
    In balance with this life, this death
    -- Hand of Ibis RiP
    Magic is seeing what happens when you hit someone really hard, and when they disappear in a red spray, that's magic.
    -- Jansensen, Gunderman fighter {max taps - RiP}
    CQB Ranger

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