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|Subject: Dorian Almax, Cleric of Pelor Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:22 am|| |
There were nights when I could barely sleep. The nightmares came all the time before I took on the banner of a Cleric of Pelor. I can still see it in my mind, just as clearly as the day it happened. I was so young. But not even the passage of time can wipe clean the slate of my mind, so deeply engraved by the events of that day. It was night in the village. The only illumination came from the half formed moon and the various campfires that were lit outside our homes. I sat outside with my friends, my mother and father inside, checking on us through the window every so often. It was a quiet night. In fact, we didn’t even realize how deathly quiet it actually was. It all started with a random scream from the other side of the village. My home wasn’t a large one, so it was easy to hear anything that was loud, especially if it was out of the ordinary. One scream was followed by another…then two, then a whole series of screams. I remember getting off of the log bench I was sitting on and standing upon it, straining my eyes to try and see through the darkness. At first there was nothing to be seen in the direction of the sounds of screams. Then, all of a sudden, a figure began to come into view. Little by little I could make out the visage of a man. At least, that’s what I thought it was. He lumbered along, dragging his leg behind him. It looked as if though it might have been broken. As he approached the fire, I finally saw him…or rather, it: an undead creature was what was coming towards us. The other kids around the fire screamed in horror, matching the shrieks that sounded off in the distance. At first, I couldn’t move. But then, from behind me, I heard a yell that stood out over the others.
It was my father, letting out a cry of defiance, as if trying to show his courage to something he knew he could not overcome. I turned towards the house and ran to help. I knew in my heart that my father was strong enough to fend off anything that would come after him and his family. But damn it, my heart was wrong. Even his brave battle cry turned into that of unspeakable terror and pain. I stopped in my tracks, imagining in my head what was happening, and too terrified to go and see if I was right. Of all the things that happened that night, there are two things that will forever stand out above everything else. The first thing I remember is my mother. I saw her crawling out into the doorway to our house, her nails bleeding and snapping off as they went digging into the wood below her, trying like a wild animal to escape. She was looking directly at me, trying to get to me; trying to save me. I ran towards her at first, but again I stopped only after a few steps. I saw what was keeping her from getting up. A hound, its flesh hanging off of its body and its eyes glowing in the moonlight had used its jaws to grip down onto my mother’s leg. I could see that her neck had already been ripped open and that part of her jaw bone was exposed. This is my last memory of her; the beautiful woman that I called my mother: a mutilated, bleeding human being that was reduced to a wounded animal trying desperately to save the life of her cub. Her eyes were glimmering in the light of my campfire as tried to speak. No words came out, but I was barely able to read her lips. “Run away”. That was all she had time to tell me before that hellhound yanked her back into the house. At the same time, I noticed that a shadow was beginning to creep up from under my feet, overtaking my own shadow on the ground. I ducked down just in time to feel something brush along a few strands of my hair, and as I rolled forward in the dirt, I saw the undead with the crippled leg standing behind me. My mother had tried to warn me that he was coming; that I would be his victim if I didn’t run. So I did. I ran as hard and as fast as I could. I had almost reached the outskirts of the village when I heard someone crying. It was one of the little girls that had been around the campfire with me. She had run away at the start of the attack and had hidden behind a barrel, curled up into a little ball on the ground as she hugged her knees into her chest. I looked away from her for only a moment and saw now a whole group of undead coming towards us. The screams had stopped too, which I knew could only mean that everyone was already dead. I grabbed the little girl by the hand and ran with her as fast as I could, practically dragging her along behind me as she cried the whole way. I knew she was too young to make it on her own. I had to keep her with me so that she would live. We were finally out of the village and into the woods. I thought that if I could keep running West, I would make it to another village and we would be safe. I never looked back. I focused on the trees in front of me, running as hard and as frantically as I could. I had to stay ahead of them, I had to live, I had to find help…I had no idea that the nearest town was a four day journey on horseback. For some strange reason, no matter what way I ran or which way I turned, there was an undead creature waiting there to head me off. How were they following me? Sadly, I got my answer.
As I was running along, the little girl tripped over her own two feet. I’m not surprised by that either; she could barely keep up with me. I lost my grip on her hand when she went down on her face, so I dug my feet into the dirt and came skidding to a halt. I went back and rolled her over to pick her up, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. This was the other part of the night that I will never forget. The little girl’s stomach had been ripped open. She wasn’t curled up in a ball behind the barrel because she was afraid; she was doing it because her stomach was bleeding. It was then that I realized that I had been killing her the whole time I forced her to run. She was crying because her wounds continued to open more and more as I pulled on her arm. When she fell, it wasn’t because she tripped over her own two feet. It was because the wound had opened up so much that she literally was disemboweled and her legs got caught up in whatever had fallen out. I didn’t dare lift her up now. I could only hold her head in my arm while my other hand pressed down on the wound…not that it did anything to help. Her eyes never left mine, even as the life left them. I started to cry. I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t cried since I was a baby, and now I couldn’t stop. Suddenly, I heard the sound of guttural moaning looming over me. I looked up, and through the mist in my eyes, I could see one of the undead men that had been chasing us. Now I knew how they were able to find us no matter where we went: they were following the smell of the little girl’s blood. The creature looked from me, to her, and then back. I could tell that it didn’t want her anymore. It wanted me; the fresh kill. I wouldn’t let him have it. My hand somehow found a branch on the ground, and as I closed my eyes I sprang forward, smashing the branch across the face of my attacker. The branch shattered into countless splinters, and I knew I had hit dead on. I looked back to see what I had done…nothing. Not a damn thing. To this day, I’m not sure if what I heard then was real or if I had lost hope so completely that I began to go insane, but I could swear that amidst its gurgled breathing I could hear the sound of laughter coming from the creature. I fell to my knees and accepted my inevitable death. My only hope was that I wouldn’t linger; that this undead creature would take pity on me and make my death a quick one before he made a meal out of me. Apparently, Pelor had other plans for me.
Just as the creature reached out towards me and was about to clamp its boney fingers around my throat, something came crashing down upon it, shattering it into dust. I coughed and tried to clear my eyes. Now standing in its place was a dwarf that seemed large for his size at the time. Of course, being only a boy and kneeling in the dirt, most things seem larger than they are. He turned back to look at me, looking only for a moment at the little girl before he grabbed me up by the collar and hiked me up onto his horse. As we rode off to the North, I tried to turn back and ask him not to leave the girl behind. His massive arm tried to block my view, but I saw past him anyway. As he spoke to me, saying that it was too late for her now, I saw that the undead had given up on me and began to feast on her body. His words were wasted on me because of what I had seen, and part of me wishes I had never seen it. I was exhausted, and without meaning to, I fell asleep in the care of the dwarf and his steed. When I awoke, I found myself in a bed, washed and bandaged. The same dwarf that had rescued me was in the room, looking out the window towards nothing in particular. He turned and saw that I was awake. I tried to stand but my body was still exhausted. He guided me back down onto the bed and pulled up a chair. He identified himself as Ieton Stoneshield, a Cleric of the Hammerfoot Clan. He and his some of the other members of his clan had sensed the undead attack on my village and came to aid us. However, they were too far away to reach the village in time. While he made his was back to the dwarven city of Deepholm, the others cleared out the rest of undead. I asked if anyone else had survived. Ieton looked at me and sighed, his lips pressed together under his beard giving his face a look of sadness. With that, I had my answer. I had nowhere to go. My home, my family, and all of my friends were dead and gone. Ieton told me I could live with him and the other dwarves. I accepted, and not just because I had no other choice, but because I didn’t want to insult him or his offer. I didn’t sleep for a days at a time. Every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was my mother, the little girl or the undead. When I did manage to sleep, my dreams all became twisted into nightmares and I woke up screaming. Ieton didn’t know what to do for me. My body had healed but my mind and my heart were in turmoil. Ieton watched over me every day and every time I woke up I found him there at the window, always staring into the distant sky.
One fateful night I managed to fall asleep. Like always, I began to have a nightmare. This one, however, was different. I was back standing in the center of my village. There was nothing but the moon and campfires just like before. For some strange reason I was standing outside of my own body, looking at myself. Undead were coming at me from all directions, but my body didn’t move. I wasn’t afraid at all for some reason, even as I saw the unholy creature come closer. I watched my body’s eyes close. As they did, all the fires died out and the moon faded away. The undead could still be seen all around, even in this darkness. Suddenly the sun came out and illuminated everything. It began by shining down on my body as a single pillar and then spread out, revealing all the undead around me. They began to shriek in horror, cowering at the light. I looked around at the undead creatures as they shook in fear, and then my gaze was drawn back to my body. Its mouth began to move, speaking in a booming, echoing dialect that I had never heard before. As I looked closer, my body’s eyes snapped open and the noise stopped. My eyes were illuminated with a blazing fire. The fire began to glow brighter and suddenly exploded out in all directions. I was knocked away from my body, but I was able to watch as all the undead were annihilated by the inferno. I woke up back in my bed, feeling oddly renewed as if though I had slept for days. The sun was shining through the window onto my face warming my whole body. Oddly, Ieton wasn’t there. I ran to find him so I could tell him what had happened. I found him in the city’s mead hall, drinking and feasting with his fellow dwarves. Without even thinking, I excitedly interrupted their conversation and began to go on about my dream. Ieton had been smiling at me for most of the story. When I was done, he thanked Pelor for granting his request. All those days he had been standing at my window, he had actually been praying to Pelor to heal my mind and show me what path to follow. Apparently Pelor decided I should become a vessel of his eternal flame as a Cleric. My training began that day.
Years later, some time after my training had been completed and I was named a full fledged Cleric of Pelor, we received word from the human city to of Keldaerin that they had come under attack from a massive army of Drow and were requesting aid. We didn’t waste a moment. Ieton and the others had taken me on several raids against the undead and put my skills to the test. This time would be different; this time I would be fighting the living and tending to the wounded. It wasn’t long before we reached Keldaerin. Ieton and the others made their way to the front lines to help while I remained behind, using the magic Pelor had granted me to heal the injured. During my training, Ieton had discovered that my talent as a Cleric laid not in my ability to wield a mace, but in the strength I showed as a vessel of Pelor’s divine might. I did whatever I could to help: healing the injured, shifting stone to form barriers, and even projecting rays of fire towards the enemy lines. It would still be several days before we were able to repel the Drow army. We lost many people and the city had taken heavy damage, but we had won…at least for the time being. Most of the dwarves returned to Deepholm after a few days. I stayed with Ieton and a handful of others, working sentry duty at night while the other guards slept. Ieton and I received a summons from the Duke of Keldaerin. He wanted to thank us personally for assisting the city, and for remaining behind to help with the reconstruction. More importantly, he wished to make a request. After seeing the lengths the Drow were willing to go to, he wanted to make sure that Skass, his only son and rightful heir to the throne, would always remain safe. I thought the Duke was asking Ieton to fufill the roll as personal guardian of the Prince, but I was wrong. The Duke asked me. At first I didn’t know what to say. Ieton was obviously more seasoned that I and was, in my eyes, more suitable for the job. Ieton agreed with me in part: he certainly could defend the Prince and keep him safe, but his ability to heal injuries paled in comparison to mine. It wasn’t enough to prevent the Prince from being hurt, someone also needed the ability to heal the injuries that could not be prevented. The Duke promised to outfit me with the finest armor and equipment his city had to offer. With one last nod of approval from Ieton, I proudly accepted.
Its been a year since I came to the city. Ieton has returned to Deepholm, and Skass and I have gotten to know and respect one another. I don’t think of him as a Prince anymore as much as I do a friend. We have become brothers in arms; a bond forged in the heat of battle. Ieton and the Duke were right: my healing abilities have indeed come in handy, as have my other divine powers. Thankfully the city hasn’t come under siege recently. But still, that give me cause for concern. And even I can’t help but wonder if perhaps this might only be the calm before the storm.
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|Subject: Re: Dorian Almax, Cleric of Pelor Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:38 am|| |
July 19, 2009 - November 01, 2009