The Edge of Twilight
The trip had been eventful so far. They had made their way to the village of Lirith as Galamir suggested but unfortunately the village was infested with the Shadows forces. This caused more planning to go into getting in touch with Berem, a resistance contact. A distraction was set up and was working very well until Berem’s wife, distraught with the conditions they were living under and the loss of their children to the Shadow, brought attention to the resistance in the villages midst. The orcs came and tried to chase Sharra and Khurran but they managed to get out in time with the horses. Khurran was injured by the first orc that discovered their presence but they escaped and met Devin and Nezrin south of the village.
They all rode to the Tower and the Crown to the north like Berem had suggested. Investigation of the ruined tower revealed an area underground but upon further investigation the whole group may have preferred to stay above ground. It became all a blur of black spiders and inky black smoke. Devin had the spider bites to show for it.
Later that night it did not get much better for them. They had taken up shelter in the Crown, an outcropping of rocks that provided descent cover. They had also uncovered the stash that Berem had said would be there. Khurran couldn’t help but feel saddened by the fact that the resistance may have lost a valuable ally. Almost certainly Berem and his wife would not have survived the orcs wrath. Khurran wished he could have silenced her without killing her but she fought like a mad woman and escaped Khurran’s grasp.
Now the group was fighting for their lives, trapped in the rock outcropping, three orc trackers had followed them and attacked. Devin struggled with one of the orcs, while Sharra and Khurran dispatched of another just outside of the Crown. Nezrin charged the third orc that had managed to flank Devin and bashed him against the rocks even though the orc was a good foot taller than him. Sharra moved around back to where Nezrin was and with axes whirring cut the orc, burying her axe deep within its rib cage. Devin continued the fight with his orcish opponent who had snuck his axe inside Devin’s defenses and cut his leg badly. Khurran moved quickly into position and finished off the orc who had been wounded by Devin’s blade just moments earlier.
Wounded, tired and now moving as the dawn broke on another day, the four were finally able to get some uninterrupted rest at another resistance hide-away near the Trollskarl forest. This had made Devin uneasy but the fact was they were not in Trollskarl forest, they were just near it. He new that neither the resistance nor the Shadow’s forces would enter it and generally gave it a wide berth.
Their travels already beset with troubles, the party was moving deeper into Shadow territory. Some would think this suicide but their purpose to find an item that means to unite the Sarcosan resistance and the Erenlander rebels was something they did not want to give up. Devin and Khurran were adrift now that the Levenworth cell had been crushed. They needed this to fill the gap that they were left with.Nezrin and Sharra followed because of their hatred for the Shadow. They knew that a stronger resistance had a place for them and anything that bled the Shadow was something they wanted to be a part of.
It was midway through their trek from the hide-away near the TrollskarlForest to the village of Ardesh when the group stopped in their tracks. Up ahead on the trail came a young man crawling from the swordgrass. He wore a black cloak and was pale. He was mumbling something and seemed crazed.
Sharra drew her weapons more quickly than anyone else and dismounted from her horse. Devin also dismounted to hold her in check as the man, who looked ragged and dirty from the wilderness noticed the group on their horses.
“YOU! Strike me down cause I no longer want for this world!”, the man sobbed. “Let my spirit part and cast itself from this body. They have broken me, and now I cannot live.”
“Stand where you are and go no further”, Devin forcibly barked.
“I fear a trap may be laid here,” whispered Nezrin. His eyes darted nervously to the edges of the swordgrass.
“What is your name?” asked Devin as he approached cautiously.
“My name does not matter,” the man began to scamper forward toward Devin. He was dirty and the black cloak was torn in many places.
Sharra again made a move and this time avoided Devin’s restraint. “Come closer and I’ll cut you down you filthy dog! If you want to die I will be gladly steal the last breath from your lips!” the anger was real and fierce. It was beyond just a general hatred for those who served the Shadow.
“Sharra, NO!” growled Devin.
“Cut me down hoar!” shouted the man, tears were streaming down his face. “I will take your offer now! My life means nothing. Spill my blood, I no longer care.”
The flat of Devin’s blade was now resting on Sharra’s stomach. He did not intend for sheer anger and revenge to rule what was happening. They had there place but this was not the time.
Khurran could see the pain in the man’s eyes, something deep within him had him questioning his beliefs. Yes, there were the obvious clues that this one was a Legate in the Order of the Shadow but from the way he was acting something seriously shook his faith in the Dark Lord.
“What is it that makes you ask strangers to take your life so quickly?” Khurran was now at Devin’s side. The man was ten feet in front of them. The dust from the trail had kicked up slightly from when the man had moved forward.
Nezrin was not so concerned with Khurran’s question. “What does it matter? We can all see it, this is some initiate with the Order of the Shadow. This scum should die here and now! It doesn’t make a difference if he requests it.”
“I want to hear his answer,” Devin’s sword still was rested on Sharra’s stomach. She now had a hard glare for both the Legate and for Devin.
The black robe shifted lightly in the fall breeze. His lip quivered and a quiet disbelief came over his face. While his face contorted his voice never wavered “They wanted me to kill my own mother. She had been caught supposedly casting magic but I know she didn’t know anything like that. The others said in order for me to gain my magehound I had to do this,” his head now slowly cocked to the side and it seemed as if he was looking beyond where they were all standing. “When I couldn’t do it, they tortured me, they tortured me until I broke. And then I killed her. I stared into her eyes and I killed her. Then I ran, it was night and I ran until I couldn’t breath anymore,” his head was hanging now. The lashing on his back could be seen, the blood had so soaked the black robe it was hard to distinguish what was the cloak and what was flesh.
Sharra’s shoulders had visibly slumped and she turned quickly to walk away from the area, forcing her way past Nezrin horse.
“If you will not kill me now, give me your sword so I can do it myself. I …,” the man was cut off in mid sentence by Devin asking a question.
“What?” asked the Legate.
“Your name, I want to know your name,” said Devin.
The man stumbled over his words for a second. “It is Cray.”
“We will not be taking your life today Cray and we will not allow you to take your life either,” Devin seemed to have purpose behind his words.
Nezrin believed this to be a bad turn of events, “This legate should not be allowed to go free.”
Khurran knew Devin and guessed correctly, “Nezrin, this legate will not be set free. His path should now be of redemption. His faith no longer lies with the Shadow. He has been broken of that by his own conscience and so he must work to atone for what he knows was wrong. Consider this the death of your former self Cray. From here on out you must start a new life and that life follows the four of us north.”
Khurran’s thoughts went right to Cray’s core. They had the exact effect that Khurran had hoped. He had seen the legates preach before in Perrinhold and figured it was something that could work in reverse.
Cray paused not knowing what to think or how to react. This Sarcosan may be right. Slowly he stood, his legs were weak with exhaustion but he managed through force of will to not collapse to the ground.
Devin now offered him water and a small portion of food. “We will take you with us to the village of Ardesh. Maybe there you will be able to start over and begin your new path. Think about it Cray, use the feelings you have inside of you against the forces of the Shadow. They brought this upon you like they have to so many others in this world. We must survive for our own future and for the future of the rest of the people of these lands.”
A bold purpose Nezrin thought. Maybe Devin’s ancestral roots go deeper than he knows. He now turned to check on Sharra.
A hand was placed on Sharra’s shoulder but she snapped it away. “I’m fine,” she sneered as she put her axes away and mounted her horse. Nezrin had not seen her quite like this before but he thought it best to leave it be. As he mounted his horse he heard her say, “His kind are not to be trusted and do not deserve redemption. You will all see that not slaying him here, now, will have been a grave mistake.”