I shall start my tale where all tales should start...in the beginning. I was born to traverse across the multitude of universes, in a multitude of dimensions, looking for that one place that I will finally call home. There are many, many places I have traveled; and oh, the things that I have seen. I do not make it a habit to return to any single place, but these Eternal Lands have a magical draw to them that I am victim to.
I arrived on Draia and immediately fell under its spell. This was a new world with many people like myself just arriving. I was one of a few who had a choice; some had no memories of any other life at all; and I could easily tell they were not native to this land; they were all just as lost as I was. I set out to explore the land and its inhabitants. I had arrived with nothing but the clothes on my back, and knew I needed to equip myself with supplies. I was relieved to find there were people who had been here for some time and had established a tavern close to where I and others were arriving.
I entered the Pula’s tavern as it was named. Here they had some basic supplies and a means of currency. A friendly individual bought me a drink, and we struck up a conversation. I ask many questions about this land and how it came about. I was informed that this world was so new that the god himself still spoke directly to the people. I also mapped out my plans as to how to explore the place. I started by gathering flora and fauna to learn from it as well as to make currency. I returned to the tavern and bought the friend who had helped me a drink. If there is one thing learnt when you travel as I do, it is kindness always begets kindness. We sat and drank, conversing more about the land and its gods. I came to learn there were many gods, all serving under one main god, not unlike other worlds I had seen.
My friend finally shared his name as well as some basic supplies. I checked the supplies and set out to find one who had come before me. Worf had told me the legend of one Fred Penner who had explored much of this land and had left a journal of sorts. I had a target now along with supplies. My supplies were very basic except for two fantastic capes: one a green cape which prevents a person from being attacked by violent creatures that inhabit the lands; and the other was a great black cape that he said would return damage upon an attacker. I donned the black cape and exited the tavern heading south to the only boat off of the island. Worf had told me White Stone would be where my real adventure began. I was to find the magical storage, "Raven", as soon as I arrived there. He also bade me to wait till the next morning. Would that I had heeded his warning...
I boarded the ship as the sun sank below the horizon of White Stone's dock; a storm was brewing overhead. Rain began to pour and lightning scarred the night sky as I took my first steps ashore. A small settlement and even smaller port greeted me, and eeriness hanging heavily in the dark, stormy air. I had taken no more than 7 steps before I was approached by a man calling himself Trik, who wanted to buy weapons and armour off of me. I hurried away from the harbour area; knowing this kind of place always held unsavoury kinds, especially when the light of day was gone.
I had gone no more than a mile or two when I found myself lost in a very dark wood. My steps faltered and the hairs on my neck prickled. Was that a crack of thunder....or something else? I was being followed by someone or something. I would turn and see, during every lightning flash, an outline almost human but way too large; having what seemed to be the presence of wings. It breathed and grunted in the silence between thunderclaps, the sound propelling me faster through the wood. I was dressed in black, disguised supposedly by the darkness, but something followed me relentlessly, something horrible, something evil.
Fear prickled my skin and drove me onward. I had forgotten about the green magical tucked deep inside the folds of my pack, strapped to my back beneath the black cape. The rain poured down like a never-ending river; drenching everything and slowing my progress to a halt. I was tiring fast and the thing behind me was gaining. I had enough strength to sprint but enough sense to know that would be the end, so I stopped and stood completely still against the blackness. I disappeared, but unfortunately it was so dark I could not see anything if it were to approach quietly...but surely a creature so large would be crashing and thrashing its way behind me!
But I was mistaken. The lightning flashed, and in that instant I came face to face with pure evil. My mind was filled with terror, instinct kicked in. I thrust my fingers into this dark creature's face and gouged at its eyes. It’s breath was dank and smelled of a carnivore. It wailed as my fingers hit their target, thrusting out clawed hands and catching me in the ribs. I hit the ground hard as it thrashed around, searching for me in the darkness without the use of it’s eyes.
I was out of breath, but my mind and body focused as one on my very survival. I had an ace up my sleeve. I knew some small magic and needed it badly; for the creature's claws had ripped into my chest and I was bleeding badly. I performed a healing spell and was immediately on my feet. The beast regained its vision and was staring in my direction menacingly. We stood apart, each weighing and measuring the other. Lightning scarred the night sky once more and we moved in unison, attacking each other. The battle had begun.
* * ***********************************************************************
Lighting flashed across the creature's body, revealing a torturous landscape of battle wounds, laid upon its torso with axe and sword. I steadied myself, studying the marks for evidence of what had not worked in the past; for true insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. I fumbled for my blade, barley a dagger. I grasped it with the realization that my life hung on the edge of this small blade.
The gap closed and he struck first, hurling me into a nearby tree and knocking the breath out of me. Blood trickled down my neck and my head throbbed. I knew it had been busted open. My wounds ached and oozed from those damn claws. The speed of this creature....My god, what was this I battled? In the confusion, I had dropped my blade and now desperately searched for anything to fend off this beast. I cast a fire essence into the night air, igniting it right in front of the beast eyes. I cast a healing spell and caught my breath, glimpsing the glint of my blade in a flash of lightning. I dove under the creature’s legs, grabbed the blade and shot up over the creature’s wings, throwing my arm around his neck. The beast thrashed and clawed against my grasp, trying in vain to dislodge me. He dugs the talons on his right hand it into my side. I struck as much out of desperation, as out of anger and sank my blade deep into the beast’s eye socket; permanently blinding it. The creature wailed an eerie, blood-curdling sound that seemed to echo forever into the night. He hurled me away from him again and again I healed, found my breath, gained my bearings. The lightning flashed again, giving me a better look at my opponent.
I could see him quite clearly, holding his gaze for what seemed like hours. The beast was huge; and the horrible the scars I saw earlier shone like a warrior's trophies, telling a story of triumph and tragedy. Its hide was thick and much akin to concrete in texture and toughness; he was a magnificent killing machine with no remorse. I slowly began to recall images from my past....concrete, churches, statues. I was fighting a gargoyle. I had traveled many dimensions, several universes and never before were gargoyles anything more than a bedtime story to scare children, or a concrete ward against evil spirits found atop buildings. But this one was flesh and bleeding; fairytale no more. I peered into its face. It was a gnarled garish crag of a head, atop a mountain of muscle and scar. We locked eyes or rather, eye. One socket had been emptied and was bleeding profusely. My mind raced. I had found the only weakness this creature seemed to have, and this was where I had to focus. I had my blade and a plan. The flash ended, plunging everything back into darkness.
I moved quickly like a feline, dodging the beast’s wild swings. It was clumsy now, having lost depth perception. I struck hard and drove my knife into its neck. I felt the blade break, leaving a three inch long piece in my hand. The other five or so inches were firmly planted inside the creature's thick neck. It bellowed and roared and tore at its own neck; trying in vain to remove the painfully large thorn from its throat. Blood sprayed everywhere and he staggered toward me, as if asking me to end this pain. I was lost in thought, how does such a creature exist, why does it exist.
He lunged forward, planting both clawed hands on my chest and heaving me away so that I could do him no more harm. I was hurled away with such force that I was airborne for several seconds. I watched the gargoyle fall dead well before I crashed through the door. I knew I was hurt badly and needed to cast a healing spell, but couldn’t. All went black.
* * ************************************************************************
Darkness started to fade and what replaced it was far worse. I opened my eyes to a large cavern. I must be dreaming. I swear it has to be a dream but yet I smelled sulphur and felt heat; an intense baking heat. My body ached and the pain seemed very real, so I clung to it, desperate for some shred of reality. I rose to see that I was indeed having a nightmare. Bones littered the ground; the sulphur smell was accompanied by the smell of rotting flesh, not unlike the breath of the gargoyle I had fought. The gargoyle was dead. I watched it die, didn’t I?
I pulled my self together and gathered my thoughts. If this was a dream, then it would end. I had no need to sit and wait if I could rise. I could surely walk. Exploring this environment was a real experience, whether dreaming or not. This was not unlike the descriptions of hell in many religions in any number worlds that I had traveled. It was bright and dark at the same time. The light I found was emitting from lava pools all around me. I stopped dead in my tracks. A dragon skull jutted from the lava before me. It was so large I had mistaken it for a rock formation. A nearby bridge crossed the lava pool, a wooden bridge laid right upon the lava. I knew now no matter how real the place looked and smelled it was just a terrible dream for such a structure would have burnt in reality. I was getting more confident as I traversed this dream. A person walked by me, seemingly in a rush. He was wearing a full suit of armour and carrying a sword that glowed bright blue. Intrigued, I followed silently. If this was a dream, what would I get in response if I called to him? Just some maddened dribble my mind made up for me. We came upon a large cave opening filled with bright light. I stepped into the light.
Air rushed into my lungs and I coughed and heaved. Slowly I opened my aching eyes. I could still smell my dream as if my mind wanted me to remember it well. My eyes focused and I was greeted with a vision so beautiful that I was sure I had drifted from a nightmare of hellish proportions to a dream so heavenly I may never want to wake up.
She spoke, this vision of beauty. "Are you with the living again?”
"Yes," I replied. "Thank you for saving my life....Who are you?"
"I am Jezebelle," she smiled. "Guild Mistress of the Witches and Wiccans."
I thanked her again and she told me there was no need; she had tried but couldn’t save me. I was taken aback and stated that no I had just been dreaming, I mean obviously I hadn’t perished. I was talking to her. She spoke again; telling me of my own dream. She mentioned all I had seen, except for the person that I followed to the cave entrance. I looked at her, a stunning goddess of a woman, and asked her for an explanation of what she had just told me. She could have sat there and said nothing. I wouldn’t have cared. I would have just sat there captured by her voice and her alarming beauty. She sighed and started to explain.
I was entranced by her voice, which flowed like honey. She spoke of the curse of Mortos, and how no death was final here in these Eternal Lands. She told me of how all who die, beast and beings, would feel the excruciating pain of death and walk through the underworld; only to rise again and go on living where they had left off. I rose from my makeshift bed upon Jezebelle’s floor and joined her at a small table in her house. She chuckled and I realised that when she had tried to save my life she had removed my clothing. I hurriedly gathered the thin sheet she had covered me in and wrapped it around my body.
She apologized and went on explaining that all wounds are healed during the walk through the underworld and that if a person walked too long there they would return to find some of their possessions missing or all of them in some cases. She turned and reached down below the table, then tossed me my bag. It contained all my belongings except my blade, so I asked her where it was.
“That thing is broken and useless. It's outside my home, I abhor weapons” she said very boldly. “I know they are a necessity but not in my home.”
I noticed the damaged door at this moment and apologized for breaking it. She told me not to worry about it and as I watched, she gestured. Vines started growing and forming into a new door. Jezebelle knew magic, too; and by the looks of it, a fair amount of magic. I dressed as she continued mending her door.
We sat at the table for some time and became friends. Little did I know that in the future my tale would be her tale and her tale, mine. I finished telling her of my quest to find Fred Penner’s journal, just as the light of dawn crept in her windows. I bid her farewell, and followed her directions to the magic storage run by Raven.
I felt deep inside me that Jezebelle and I would cross paths again. I walked only a few yards from her home when she called out. I turned to see her holding my broken blade.
“You will be in need of a blade. Remember they are a necessity, unless of course you’d like to visit the underworld again.”
“I don’t think my broken blade will do me any good in future fights, but thank you” I answered.
I reached out to take my broken blade and as I touched it, a glowing light enveloped it. Jezebelle chanted something ancient and lovely and the light faded. My blade was no longer broken, and no longer just a blade. I thanked her and examined one of the lightest and most beautiful axes I had ever held. This wonderful lady had made me a weapon the likes of which I had never seen in all my travels. I ask her to explain, since she'd stated she abhors weapons.
"When I asked the blade what weapon would best defend you, it simply told me," she replied.
I was floored. “It...told you?” I stammered.
"Yes. Everything has a voice; some just do not speak out loud for all to hear."
I chocked it up to magic, magic much more powerful than my own at this point. She explained that what I held was a titanium axe and that it was normal in everyway except for its magical creation. I looked into her eyes and for a brief second I could swear I saw her at my side in the far future. I bid her thanks and farewell once again and after some time I came upon the magic storage.