Date:Jan 15 2008
This is the story of a man who has fallen. Cursed by the gods he wanders
through the wilderness of the north. Always a stranger, he is rejected by all
he meets, despite his careful mummery of a traveler worn with grief.
It takes place along a trail far north of Shadowkeep, even further than the
lands of King Eowyn. These cold days are not ones to be out traveling alone,
certainly not for any of the citizens of Shadowkeep.
On this forbidding night, we meet a poor soul who is not so lucky as you.
A talented young bard from Shadowkeep was making his way back home. He was
forced to spend the winter holed up in the icy forest city of Ithilien. A city
ruled by the barbarian king and dragon slayer, Moonlord. Ithilien is also home
to the Dragon Claws Clan, a group of adventurers that actively hunts and kills
The young bard had traveled to Ithilien during the previous year as an envoy
of Dragonsleap. A city that raises and trains dragons. The cities of
Dragonsleap and Ithilien had been at war for many years prior, due to the
Dragon Claws Clan's intense hatred of dragons. The great wyrm Melemkor had
sent our young bard to parlay with Moonlord, and find a means of bringing
peace between the two cities.
Moonlord agreed to treat for peace with Dragonsleap on one condition. They
must provide information regarding the whereabouts of a certain dragon that
had been terrorizing the northern regions of Rothikgen for ages.
You see, Moonlord wanted to know where to find the lair of the mighty dragon
Kizarwexus. As well as any information that would aid him in defeating it. It
was only return of this information, that would prevent the inevitable
bloodshed that was soon to come the following year.
The young bard left early in the spring, as soon as the northern roads were
able to be traveled. For not only did he want to return with Moonlord's
demand, but he wanted to get home to his young family.
On the night in question he traversed a large forest east of Martomond's nest.
A deep chill had settled over the forest that our young bard now traveled
through, and the trees offered little protection for him from the strong
northwestern wind. As he made his way through the forest, night started to
make its presence felt, deepening all the shadows and making the path ahead
hard to see.
Being the resourceful fellow that he was, he searched through his pack and
found a torch. He said 'If I could just find a good place to make camp for the
night...' He lit his torch and continued along the trail.
Deeper into the forest he went and the night became more all that much more
chilling. Until at last he rounded a bend. In the distance a flicker of light
played in his vision. 'Whats that?', he said. 'Pray that it is a campfire.'
Blinking his eyes, he strained them to see. Now sure of it he said, 'Thank
Hemet! It's not exactly welcoming, but at least it's warmth.'
The young bard hurried toward the campfire. Only to find the makeshift camp
deserted. 'Funny...', he said. 'Why would anyone leave the warmth of the
fire.' Shrugging his shoulders he set down his gear and took off his gloves,
warming himself by the fire.
Out of the night a shadow approached the camp. Only when the looming figure
was nearly upon the camp did the young bard realize it was there.
He jumped backward with a yelp and fell over a log. He then quickly leaped to
his feet and drew his rapier saying 'And just who are you!?'
Light shined upon the figure as it continued to near the fire. The sinister
shadows played frighteningly on the hooded figure, but eventually it became
apparent that it was just an old man carrying kindling.
The old traveler said 'I should be asking you that. This is my camp.'
The young bard responded, 'Oh..... well... I apologize for my reaction. I was
just startled, that's all.'
After regaining his composure, he straightened up and introduced himself
saying 'I am a bard from Shadowkeep, an emissary of Dragonsleap.'
The old traveler scoffed in response by saying 'One of your kind shouldn't be
out on these roads alone. 'Tis too deep in winter unless the mission is of
life 'n death.', as he puts down his kindling and poked a few more sticks into
Inquisitive as always the young bard could not help by ask 'Pray tell, why is
one, so old as you, traveling these very same roads as I so early in the
The old traveler response to his query was 'The brownies brought word my son
was dead. So I'm going down south to bury him.'
Seeming to accept this the young bard sat down across the campfire from the
After a moment the young bard said 'That is certainly grave news to receive.
My deepest condolences.'
Shrugging his shoulders the old traveler said 'Yeah, well... What 'cha gonna
After a few minutes of staring at the campfire, the old traveler pulled some
dried meat from his sack and began to break it into littler pieces as he ate
Pointing with a piece of the meat in his hand, he motioned toward the sword
that was laid out across the young bards lap saying 'Well ain't ya going ta
put that away?'
Lost in thought the young bard hadn't realized that he still had his sword out
and said 'Oh..uh... sorry.' He then quickly resheathed his sword and put his
hands out to catch some of the fire's warmth. Just then a grumble escaped from
Noticing this the old traveler offered, 'Ya wanna bite ta eat? I just caught
me this deer not too long ago.' He then tossed a chunk dried meat to the young
The young bard caught the meat and made as if to eat it, but stopped himself.
Looking up he said, 'You didn't poison it or anything did you?' He then
brought the meat up to his nose and started sniffing at it.
Taken aback the old traveler said 'Well now, look at you, coming into my camp,
drawing a sword at me, and now you're claiming I'm trying ta poison ya?'
He then stood up shaking his head and said 'Well I never!' He grabbed his sack
and started stuffing things into it. Looking back at the bard he then reached
out and snatched the chunk of dried meat back from the young bard. With a
huff, he started walking slowly out of the camp.
Feeling pity for the old traveler the young bard called out saying 'Wait
wait... I'm sorry... It's just a man of your age. Hunting and killing a deer
in this kind of weather... It just made me a little suspicious. Please. I beg
The old traveler stopped in his tracks and turned around, after a moment he
said 'Well... I guess since you went and begged me. I could stay.' He made his
way back to the camp and sat down on the log.
The young bard spoke up saying 'Thank you. I really don't mean to be rude.
Gruffly the old traveler said 'And believe you me, catching that deer was no
The young bard smiled mischievously and said 'Indeed, quite the harrowing
tale I'm sure. I'd love to hear it. Perhaps when I get back to Shadowkeep I'll
put it to song.'
The old traveler laughed a moment and then gruffly responded 'Here now, don't
ya be poking fun at me. I bet ya I'll be catching another pretty soon.'
More time went by as the young bard and the old man stared into the campfire.
Again the young bard's stomach rumbled louder this time.
With a smirk the old traveler said 'Now then, do ya want my food or not?'
The young bard seemed to make up his mind and trust this old traveler saying
'Please.' With this he took the meat and began eating it.
Wanting to make some conversation the old traveler asked 'So, what's back in
Shadowkeep thats got you all up in a roar to get back there so soon? Ya can't
be telling me that some simple message got ya out in this.'
After tearing a piece of meat off the chunk and eating it the young bard
cleared his throat and said, 'Oh, well, the message is important, but that's
not why I am in a hurry. You see my wife was pregnant when I left, and I cant
wait to get home to see my new daughter.' After finishing his sentence he
slumped forward and as if trying to explain himself he said 'Wow.... today was
more taxing than I had thought... I'm..... so.... tired....'
After seeing this the old traveler stood up and went around the campfire
toward the young bard. As he got close, he leaned down next to the bard and
whispered, 'It just breaks my heart, ta hear that yer wife will soon be a
widow. Seems I was able to catch another deer after all.'
Old_Traveler grinned wickedly as he pulled his rusted hatchet from under his
The old traveler then chanted a prayer saying 'Galean! Give me the power to
rid myself of this curse! With the death of this man, let me use his untapped
youth to restore myself! Let his sparkling eyes take the place of my dead
ones. Let his fresh blood pump through my veins and restore my vigor!'
As his voice reached its peak he raised the hatchet above his head shouting
'GALEAN! DO NOT FORSAKE ME!'
The Gambit is up!
A couple days have passed since the heinous murder of the young bard. As the
second part of our story unfolds it is late at night and the weather is still
as dismal as before. The skies are overcast and the wicked cold wind blows
On this night when no one should be traveling, one man continues his journey
southward. Hooded in a dark cloak, he walks with an uneasy slow stride.
Seemingly unaffected by the horrid weather, he curses and mutters to himself.
Slung over his back is a large sack that leaks dark liquid down the back of
his cloak and leaves a trail behind him.
The old traveler grunted as he shifted the weight of his sack and whispered to
himself 'Tarmalen may have cursed me and Galean may have forsaken me, but by
Azzarakk's will. I will find a way...'
As he continued along the path at a slow pace. He turned and cuped his ear as
if listening intently. In the distance hoof-beats could be heard, carried by
the wind, they approached quickly. Having heared this, he looked over his
shoulder as if frightened of who could be approaching.
Muttering to himself he said 'Cursed patrols... Why can't they just leave me
well alone...' He then shuffled off to the side of the road and dropped his
sack behind a tree. As the he got back to the path, a group of rangers on
horseback noticed the old traveler and quickly began to circle around him.
The ranger sergeant shouted 'HOLD! In the name of the King. Who are you and
what is your business on the King's roads this dreary night.'
Shying away from the rangers and pulling further under his cloak the old
traveler responded saying 'I am just an old man, on his way south to bury his
Seeming satisfied with this the ranger sergeant asked 'Have you seen a man in
your travels? He is a little taller than you, with black hair and light skin.'
The old traveler cursed to himself and whispered 'A pox on you all.'
Not believing his ears the ranger captain said 'What was that?!'
The old traveler said 'With this wretched weather, I haven't been able to
travel in three days. If the man you're searching for is out here. He is
probably rotting in an icy hell.'
The ranger captain muttered under his breath, 'Ill tempered old goat...'
Just then a ranger spoke up and said 'I think I saw him drop something behind
a tree over there.' Upon hearing this the ranger captain motioned for his
subordinate to go check it out. While this was happening the old traveler
seemed to fidget with his hands nervously as the ranger approached the tree
Returning from the tree line holding the old travelers sack, the ranger opened
it to see what was inside. As he peered down into the sack he dropped it in
horror and stumbled backward.
The old traveler's sack hit the ground with a thud and fell over its contents
rolling out into the snow. A skull and several dismembered body parts covered
in blood rolled across the ground and the ranger that had been holding the
sack bent over as if to vomit.
The ranger sergeant turned back to the old traveler and said 'Going south to
bury your son, huh? And just what is this?' He then drew his longsword and
pointed it at the old man.
The old traveler started to say 'Well you see...', but then just screamed with
Deciding he had no other option he made a break for it. He leaped between two
of the rangers and grabbed his bag. As he spun around the hood of his cloak
fell from his face. His milky white eyes stared out into nothingness and yet
seemed to be red hot with hatred. Splotches of his matted hair fell to the
ground as his diseased appearance became visible to all. He growled 'Urrgh...
Nitocris have at you... You made this so much more difficult than it had to
be.' With that he bolted into the surrounding forest.
Taken aback by surprise, the ranger sergeant watched in disbelief as the
diseased traveler dashed into the forest with his sack. After a moment he said
'By Las, that is disgusting.'
Turning his horse he shouted 'MEN! After this abomination, and bring him to
justice. Mayhap the soul of that poor fellow can at least be put to rest.'
The Gods of Chaos.
The stalwart rangers of the king's armies tracked the old traveler for 3 days.
He fled northwest, to the ruined port city of Stromwrack. There in the ruins,
the trail grew cold.
With the smell of rain is heavy in the air the rangers dismounted and tethered
their horses. Turning to speak to his men the ranger sergeant said 'Split up,
search everything. Keep your eyes and ears open. If you see anything. Yell.
These old ruins can be very dangerous.'
Having received their orders, the rangers broke off and started searching in
The ranger sergeant moved forward through the city searching for clues and any
sign of danger. After a while he bended down and said 'Well... what have we
here...', as he found a drop of blackened blood.
Traveling deeper into the ruins the ranger sergeant followed the clues until
at last he found himself in front of a large stone building. Rotting in
places, it's large double doors hung ajar, with one partially fallen from its
Sure that this was where the old traveler was hiding he shouted 'Men! Come to
me! I've found where he is hiding.'
The only answer to his shout, was the rain that started to fall. The wind from
the nearby sea blew in with a gust as it drowned out the last echo of the
Lead_Ranger's call. He stood alone before the foreboding entrance.
The ranger sergeant steeled himself and said 'Well... It's just an old man.
Diseased and rotting... I'll go it alone...' Drawing his longsword he lowered
his stance and began to sneak into the building.
The darkness of the building was a stark contrast to the daylight outside and
it took a moment for the his eyes to adjust.
From above him pebbles and dust rained down. The ranger sergeant looked up
just in time to see the old traveler standing on a balcony above him.
The old traveler raised his hatchet above his head and shouted 'Azzarak will
feast on your SOUL!!!', as he jumped off the balcony at the ranger.
The ranger sergeant quickly turned and parried the blow. Rolling with the
impact he was able maintain his footing and threw the old traveler to the
ground. Dancing back he lowered his center and prepared to defend himself.
With speed unlike his age the old traveler sprang to his feet and rushed at
the ranger captain wildly swinging his hatchet. The ranger sergeant expertly
started parrying and dodging the old travelers heavy blows, waiting for an
The ranger sergeant broke the chorus of striking metal and said 'Your martial
prowess defies your appearance old man!'
The old traveler cursed, saying 'Troublesome meddler, you've learned just
enough to end your life.' Gritting his teeth he grasped his hatchet with both
hands and cleaved toward the ranger sergeant.
Rolling to the side the and avoiding the blow the ranger sergeant said 'You'll
die for your evil crimes. If not by my blade or then another!' Having found
his opening he whirled his blades and drove forward with a furious counter
The old traveler smirked and knocked the sword aside saying 'Gotcha!' He
brought his hatchet in a chopping motion toward the rangers sergeant's exposed
Caught off-guard by the maneuver the ranger sergeant failed raise his sword in
Grinning diabolically the old traveler shouted 'The maggots will feast upon
your rotting carcass!' as he cruelly rent the ranger sergeant causing heart
tissue to fly everywhere.
The ranger sergeant dropped to his knees, bleeding profusely from his neck. He
tried futilely to staunch the bleeding with his hand. Coughing up blood as he
said 'Las... Into... your hands... I... commit... my... soul........' With
that the ranger fell over as a geyser of blood coated the floor around him.
Kneeling beside the ranger sergeant the old traveler shouted out a new prayer,
to new gods.
'Azzarak I call on your powers! Nurgle, I am diseased, I carry your
blight. Alena, my smile is as poison, I carry your venom. Kharim, I have
feasted on the blood my foes, I carry your thirst. Tzarakk, I am filled with
rage, I carry your will. Aid me and release me from this curse, for I am your
In a realm of utter darkness a voice spoke. It was full of menace and its
voice reverberated through the never-ending night.
'He has collected three of the four tokens of chaos...'
An ill choking other said, 'Such a worthy disciple.'
A third voice broke through the darkness. This one was feminine and smooth, in
a stark contrast to the menacing voice it responded to.
'What will you do Tzarakk...? For he has not truly fulfilled your will.'
In response, a voice barely intelligible, fully filled with rage declared:
'It is of no concern. I have something very special in store for him...'
The first voice then ended the deliberation.
'So it is and so shall it be, destruction to all, Chaos shall rule!'
The four voices echoed the mantra in unison.
In the distance lightning struck across the sky violently as if to echo the
approval of the Azzarak the god of chaos. Hearing this, the old traveler
quickly cut out the ranger sergeants heart and raised it above his head.
Seconds later, three cracks of thunder echoed across the landscape. Then there
was silence. Throwing back his head in rage the old traveler cried out 'WHICH
OF YOU HAS FORSAKEN ME!?'
Behind the old traveler a massive shadow raised up. It's giant wings of
darkness unfolded blotting out what little light there was.
In the darkness the old traveler turned around and stared up at the
monstrosity before him. As he recognized the being, he screamed out 'Tzarakk!
The ancient chaos drake roared to the heavens, as the old traveler scrambled
backward raising his arms in a pathetic attempt to defend himself.
The ancient chaos drake charged forward slaughtering the old traveler and thus
fulfilling the will of Tzarakk.
You find a letter stuck in the back of the volume, it reads :
Dear Elizabeth, I write this letter to convey my deepest condolences. Your
husband, Michael was a brave man for accepting my mission. I am sure that had
he returned from Ithilien as planned, the bloodshed between Dragonsleap and
the Dragon Claw's Clan could have been avoided.
After I received Michaels letter that he was making his journey home earlier
than expected. I asked King Eowyn to send riders to meet him.
Only just yesterday, I received word that Michael had been murdered. The
riders King Eoywn sent had found an old man. Some worshiper of evil that
murdered Michael and used his body in some dark ritual.
The rangers tracked the old man to ruined city along the northern coast. There
the ranger's sergeant fought the old man in single combat and was slain. What
happened next is unknown, but when the rest of the rangers found their
sergeant and the old man. They were both dead. The old man had been torn to
shreds by some powerful monster. A chaos drake no doubt, as those are known to
inhabit such places.
Elizabeth... If you are ever in need of anything.. Please do not hesitate to
ask me of it. I am responsible for your husbands death more than anyone.