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Author Topic: [Story] Missing  (Read 2978 times)
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Dubh Amn
Heepa-Heepa


Spell Energy / Taint +4/-4
Gender: Male
Posts: 28



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« on: November 03, 2006, 03:02:56 AM »

I was reading the "Mapping the Black Mirrors" thread earlier and I read the debate over the effects of a Mirror on population figurers.  The idea for this story smacked me in the head and I couldn't get to bed untl I did something with it.  I present to you the Missing.  Comments welcome, enjoy![/b]

The Elves had guided us for three days through fen and bog and some of the worst hill country I’ve ever seen.  We had been told that they were sure-footed, but that wasn’t the half of it.  I swear, they don’t have to move through the underbrush, it moves around them.  I’m an Erenlander, of course – I get no such luxuries.  I’ve spent the better part of a month slogging my way through only to look up and see those perfect faces impatiently waiting for me on the next ridge, just like the look you give a child when he goes on his first hunt.

I had really started to hate them.

Their names were Andonithil and Udariel.  Mine is Jaseph.  It’s not really important in the long run, I guess, but I can at least get one thing right.  If that’s just the peculiar way to pronounce Caransil names with a human tongue, so be it.

The fourth week out I clambered up a low rise, pulling myself up by grabbing handfuls of these little purple flowers the Elves call lindoranth and just about ran into Udariel.  He was sitting on one knee, staring out across some open ground.   I followed his gaze to a collection of buildings squatting behind a wooden palisade.  By the look of the architecture, it was an Erenlander village with some Dornish influence.  The blunted shape of a long house was just visible across the rough-hewn edges of the top of the large wooden stakes that made up the wall.  I looked up at the Caransil from the oh-so-comfortable position of being on my belly and whispered “What is it?  Are we being watched?”

Udariel barley allowed his eyes to move down to me as he whispered “No.”

“Are there guards?”

“No, Jaseph.  There are no guards, no people, no animals.  There is nothing at all.”

“What in all the nine hells leaves an empty village like this?”

The answer came from my left before I saw the speaker and nearly made me yelp in fear.

Odrendor.”

Andonithil had moved beside me before I had even sensed him coming.  I had come to believe that this behavior was some sort of sick game between these two. 

Spook-the-fool. 

I looked back to Udariel and pressed for an explanation.  “Are you sure?  Why, what’s the purpose?”

“We’ve been hearing rumours that the Shadow has created a new zordrafin corith in the town of Blackshear.  Such a move would grant the Order of Shadow a great advantage in harrying our southern border.  But the mirror doesn’t need worship.”

Adonithil’s soft but hard voice joined the conversation – “They need blood.  In the larger cities, life is worthless.  Men and women sell each other like so much chattel.  People traded like cattle, slaves, prisoners; it’s a never-ending stream of victims to be slaughtered.  But out here, away from the bigger cities..”

I broke in, memories of black-clad slavers burning in my memory, making me remember all of my hate that drove me out to this point, “Out here, the pickings are slim.”

Udariel nods before continuing, “They can’t take and take from Blackshear.  They would empty the town in an arc.  So, they raid, decimating entire surrounding towns.  Whole villages can just disappear in days.  Adonithil and I were out this way two months ago.”

“We supped with the village chief in the long house.”  Adonithil shifted his weight as he rose to his feet.  “We’ll eat there again tonight, if the Orcs didn’t leave any traps.  Keep your eyes open, Jaseph.  The band we’re tracking likes to leave small snares that wound the feet, make you bleed, get infected, draw scavengers to you before you die.  They like to make you suffer, even if they aren’t around to see it.”

Oh, wonderful.

Our trip into the village was one of the most surreal and most awful moments I think I’ve ever experienced.  I’m not without my share of awful moments, either.  I’ve seen men I know come back from the dead.  I’ve seen that awful realization in their eyes as they know that they are now Fell and we’ll have to kill them again.  I’ve seen what a band of pissed off Orcs do to a human community when they have no one telling them that live slaves are better than dead victims.  I’ve seen ghosts, demons, human cruelty and Shadow ceremonies.  I’ve seen all of that and I can tell you the gods honest truth:

I was never more scared than when I walked into that empty village.

All of the buildings were left standing.  Some of the people had been working and remnants of odd jobs were strewn about.  I found a pie, sitting in an empty kitchen, still good.  I didn’t take it. 

I love pie.

Eveywhere I looked there was this realization that a week or a day or a month or however long ago, this place was home to people.  Not just one or two, but a community, with children and old men and young lovers.  A bastion of something decent, out here in the middle of nearly nowhere.  We all live our lives in fear, sure, but we know how to ignore terror and get on with things.   This entire place said that “Hey, these people were doing the best they had, they were mostly alright”.  Now, they’re just.. gone.  Poof.  Like they were never here.

Adonithil wasn’t kidding, of course.  Once we had determined that things were mostly safe, we did forage in the long house for food and supplies.  As we sat at a bench meant to hold twenty I began to wonder exactly how old my Elven guides were and how much they had seen that I couldn’t even guess at.  I wanted to believe that they had been exposed to terrors so wholly horrific that eating in this place simply didn’t even rate.   The alternate was to believe that they valued human lives so little that it really didn’t bother them that we could just be rounded up and used as fodder for the Order’s needs.  I didn’t want to believe that since we were still two weeks out from our destination.

Willful ignorance is the best defense, sometimes.

As we bedded down in a hidden corner that evening, I found myself wishing for the tell-tale scrape of the Fell at the door.   I wanted something horrible to come out of the dark and say something, make some sort of sound.  I wanted a reprieve from that awful, endless silence, no matter what, because nothing, nothing could be that awful.  I didn’t sleep at all because I was afraid of what my dreams would be like.

We left the next morning, setting out in the grey light of a cloud-covered dawn and I knew that would be the last time I saw that nameless place.  I would not be coming back this way since I was on a one-way trip and I couldn’t have been happier.  I didn’t feel the least bit relieved until we made our way back into the scrub and a low fall hid that village completely from my vision.

As I walked that day, I began to think about the true nature of what we face, of what we think evil is.   Watching the Shadow destroy what it touches, seeing the brutality of Orcs, the way the Legates condone it all, seeing our own betray us and doom us – I used to think that is what I was fighting against.  But when I came out of that place, I couldn’t shake another feeling.

What kind of evil canmake more than a hundred people just vanish?  Eat them up like they weren’t even there, gone and forgotten and no one knows but me and two Caransil and I don’t even think it registers or they even care.  That’s true evil to me.  It’s not the things that you can see and fight and strive against; it’s the stuff you never see, the lives that are ruined, the children murdered, the slaughter that is so prevalent no one even knows it’s there.  If we don’t stand up and fight, pretty soon no one will ever know that we – that all of us, every single elf or dwarf or gnome or human – no one will even know we were here, we’ll just be gone, swallowed up into a never-ending, uncaring night.

I won’t let that happen.  I won’t close my eyes and stand aside – someone has to stand up for those of us that no one even knows are gone.

                                                                                                         
                                -From the personal journal of Jaseph Vallen, Hero of  the Battle of Blackshear
« Last Edit: May 05, 2007, 12:17:04 PM by Nifelhein » Logged

"Live as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts." - Cicero
smeagol
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Hiding from Shadow


« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2006, 11:44:59 AM »

Wonderful. Just plain wonderful. Consider it yoinked as an encounter in my game.

And get a cookie for that. This piece more than deserves it.
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"Il n'est pas besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre ni de réussir pour persévérer" - Devise de la famille d'Orange
Bleak Knight
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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2006, 01:05:58 PM »

Quote
I love pie.
This gets you a coockie. The rest gets you an evil cookie. This is absolutely awesome. My only gripe is the relatively modern style it is written in, but it's not a major one.
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Ghola
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2006, 01:27:39 PM »

Here's another cookie.  Excellent piece Dubh Amn.
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"New heroes will arise, driven by fate, to lead the world out of darkness and herald the coming of a new dawn." -  Aran Noros of the Sahi Priesthood, Commentaries on Vesra’s “Prophecies of the Last Age”
Dubh Amn
Heepa-Heepa


Spell Energy / Taint +4/-4
Gender: Male
Posts: 28



WWW
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2006, 02:08:18 PM »

First:

*Rolls naked in the cookies*  Thank you!

Second!

This gets you a coockie. The rest gets you an evil cookie. This is absolutely awesome. My only gripe is the relatively modern style it is written in, but it's not a major one.

I'm glad you noticed!  My Erenlanders tend to talk in a more "modern" way, especially my Erenlander rogues.  I've often wondered if this is the best way to portray them but it just seems to fit now.  The first campaign I ran in Midnight featured an Erenlander rogue named Eben the Cutthroat that was played by my roomie.  He did such a good job that his potrayal has welded itself to my memory.

Oh, the the cutthroat thing doesn't reflect his class.  Orcs slit his throat when he was younger, but he survived.  It just left a nasty scar and a horrible, raspy voice.
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Against the Shadow  |  Forum  |  Midnight & RPGs  |  Games and Stories (Moderators: Kane, Bleak Knight)  |  Topic: [Story] Missing
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