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Eleventh Hour Challenge

May 8, 2010

I ride out from the Ebon Hold into the Plaguelands. I have not returned here since I rebelled and became what I now am. Light’s Hope no longer weights my limbs, proof if any were needed that I have truly broken free. They do not shy away from me there, and I am grateful for that small mercy.

A melancholy settles on me. I am as one with this land, dead but not departed as I should have. The beauty that once was here can still be seen under the surface, but it takes the eye of an elf, perhaps, and even then it is only noticed in its terrible absence. If I were not what I am, my heart would ache for the blighted trees and tainted animals. This is a foreshadowing of all that is to come, all that is to be done to us, but I can cry no more.

It is in some ways far worse than the ruin of Tranquillien. Perhaps there, one day, there may be a cleansing. This is a long dead corpse, crawling with maggots and rotting slowly, far too slowly, away. The air is full of the scents of death and decay, and hazy with the blight that shadows the land. Nothing here has any future, it has only a past that has lingered on.

It seems that some, at least, of the Scarlet Crusade remain here. Poor deluded fools, what are they to one such as I? I would leave them in peace to their foolish beliefs, but they attack me on sight, and I will not give up now. I defend myself, and they die. So pointless, but it seems fitting somehow.

I come upon a lake, full of blighted elementals. They are like me, their magics twisted and cursed, living a strange unlife in a world they no longer belong in. I kill them all, setting them free, as I will be set free when it is time. It accomplishes nothing, perhaps, but it feels right, and I savour the small victory, as I savour each tiny blow struck against Him.

I have been aiming for one of the half ruined towers. An orc asked me to secure them, and I will help any who have the courage to ask one such as I am as well as I can, until I am strong enough to find my revenge. I am not the first here, though. At the top of the hill, wearing the colours of the Scarlet Crusade, I see a human knight. Our eyes lock, and for a moment neither of us moves. He is young, his face unlined, but full of haughty pride. What he sees when he looks at me I do not know, and I do not like to think, but I have ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ that are of his kind, so surely he knows me for what I am.

The moment passes. He draws his sword and brandishes it, posturing and posing like the young fool he is. I wait. I have no desire to fight him, but I will do so if I must. And I must, for he calls on the power that the Light has given him, and moves to the attack. I summon my own strength in return, but I wish that I did not have to. This land needs no more blood, no more disease, no more corpses.

The ring of sword on sword is shockingly loud in the gravelike silence, and I half expect it to draw others to us, living or undead. None come, though, and we fight on, my diseases wracking him even as the light he invokes burns me to the bone. I am stronger than this young pup, and I have been forged in a far harsher trial than he has ever known. He will not conquer me, and I have no respect for him, for it was not bravery that brought him to this fight, but arrogance.

At the last, he is brutally injured, and his wounds no longer close; he cannot go on. I step back, to give him the chance to back down. Let him run, if he will, and remember that I had more of mercy than he. He does flee, which is more of sense than I gave him credit for.Perhaps he will learn a lesson, but be that as it will; it is no concern of mine.

As I make my way to the last of the towers, the land grows sicker. Giant fungi spring from the rotten earth, humped in leprous mounds. The undead roam freely here, foul beings that thrive in this hideous sore. I pass the place that once was Stratholme, and stop before its ruined gates. I will not enter, not now, but some might say that this is where it all began. And I will return. Once He is defeated, I will cleanse this city. I will destroy every last horror that lurks within, and burn it to the ground. Then perhaps the unquiet ghosts will be able to move on. Perhaps I will, too.

I sigh. That is for the future. For now, I can do only the smaller things. I find the last tower, and make my way back to the orc to tell him that his task is done. It doesn’t seem like much, but I suppose that even a drop at a time the stone can be worn away.

I return to Acherus, then, to rest. I can shed no tears, it is true, but my heart is heavy with the weight of the tears uncried.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2010 09:53

    This is heart rending: “living a strange unlife in a world they no longer belong in” must be how many feel. Wonderful imagery and wonderful writing.

  2. May 9, 2010 02:00

    Very cool, very DK. Neat and terrible. 🙂

  3. May 10, 2010 16:02

    Very good story, Sad but with a ray of hope.

    “It doesn’t seem like much, but I suppose that even a drop at a time the stone can be worn away.”

  4. May 26, 2010 17:14

    This is just so poignant and beautiful. More to say, but I’ll save it for the wrap-up.

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