The Silent Steward
April 20, 2012
Today is a little bit of D&D inspired fantasy.
I might do more with this later but I’m not sure. It’s all very…gestational right now.
Blah blah screen still broken, etc.
When the poor fools burst into my ritual chamber, I fear they were not prepared for what they encountered. They didn’t know who they were dealing with, of course they didn’t know. When I saw a fellow Paladin with them I frowned, sadly, since I always hate to kill members of the Order.
They thought they were heroes, though, but they kept getting in the way of my great work. My plan to finally rid the world of an ancient evil. A hoary, vile evil. A destructive force from beyond the ken of time.
Something these small heroes had no concept of, no understanding. They could never comprehend the danger of what they were doing, who they were protecting.
I turned from the brazier I had been working at, the shadows that I had bent to my will crawling around my left hand. My blackened armor reflected the dull red fires of the torches around me. My ritual chamber was small, an obsidian room with five pillars around the raised dais that my brazier was on, all inscribed with ancient runes for the spell I needed to summon my enemy.
They all filed in close, one after the other, like children heading to school for the first time. A warrior carrying a silvered axe and shield, dressed in field plate with a tall green plume. A proud plume. His face was set in a proud grimace, someone who had seen plenty of battle before now, who had faced down other sorcerers, other warriors, other blackguards. Who may have even met my patron in the Divine Host. He was not ready for me, however.
After him came a woman, a sneak-thief wrapped in soft leather, juggling a pair of long daggers in her slender hands. She thought I didn’t see her as she crept in, relying on the dusky dyes on her armor and her silent step. She had some kind of enchanted mask drawn over her face, leaving just her jaw exposed, and a black hood pulled up around her hair. Her skin was dark as well, as dark as rich mahogany, but I saw her all the same. She was not ready either.
Then their party leader came through the door, the rogue’s older sister I surmised, of dusky skin and dusty robes. Her eyes radiated power, her body gave it off in waves. She wore a cloak of lightning and had a voice like thunder, cracking through the silence as she lead everyone in tactically and issued orders over the din of still continuing combat behind them. The creatures I had summoned no doubt, dying to cheap sell-swords and white-shields. Her robes were dark and covered in arcane symbols, her hair held back from her face by some secret power. She was not prepared either.
Following behind her was her lover, if I recalled correctly. He was why they followed me still, had dogged me for four years as I gathered my power for this night. He wore gleaming silver mail, carried a gold shield, and had beside him a sword of intricate beauty. A libram was open in his forehand, his voice reciting in rolling tempo ancient prayers of protection and healing to a God who I would never name. One of his eyes was struck blind, black as night, and the other shone green and hazel in the flickering torchlight. No helmet but a golden circlet, a crown of station as a warrior-cleric. He had prayed for this night for half a decade, prepared as much as he could, and steeled his resolve. Yet still he was not yet ready for who and what I am.
His friend and protege, his squire, was not far behind him. A young woman just barely past her adulthood dressed in fine plate and carrying a wide sword on her back. Her tabbard was unstained by the road, clean and white like when she was given it upon graduating the academy. Her face was bright and determined, the libram at her side thrumming with energy as her patron recited the prayers of their…of our…order. She swung the blade from her back and took up his chanting as they marched into the room. And yet still, they were not anticipating what they had gotten themselves into.
Lastly, the short and surly fellow. Wearing a smattering of leather and mail with some odd contraption bound around his head to shield his eyes. He carried an iron tube hammered into a maple stock, a simple gun if I had ever seen one. He was somehow louder than the others, even the warrior in field plate. He was somehow surlier than the others even though he had no personal gripe against me. He walked in without hesitation, without question, and loaded his rifle. He slammed the bolt home with a sense of finality, of pride, and leveled the rifle at me. Then the world seemed to slow as he squeezed the trigger. He thought he was ready, he thought he was prepared, he thought he might catch me unaware as his compatriots distracted me with their grand entrance and ancient magics.
He was mistaken.
He fired as I finished turning round to face them. My cloak settled on my shoulders as the shadows within my left hand sprang to life and threaded their way along my arm. I drew Nightbane, the broadsword that had started this long ago. The blade, long and straight and hard, seemed to draw the flickering light toward it and suck it in, leaving nothing but twinkling stars dancing along a slice of night. The weight of my armor seemed to lift off my shoulders as combat came upon me, the dark mail and plates moving with my body so that I wasn’t slowed by their structure. I grinned wide, my hair flying back from my face, as I brought my sword down onto the shield of the advancing plate-bearing knight. I grinned, wild and free, as I heard the snap of thunder and saw the flash of the dwarf’s gun out of the corner of my eye.
The shadows guided my hand and I caught that shot. I crumpled the lead spike in my hand and dropped it to the floor. With a laugh I dashed the knight’s shield against the wall and spit toward him, shouted as shadows crept out of my mouth and poured into his eyes, his mouth, and his mind. I turned my scream toward the wizard and spoke to her in the Ancient Tongue. I whispered the glory and the folly of her training and basked in her screams as I turned my attention to the paladin. I reached out to her with my mind and whispered the darkness of our order, told her of the silence beneath the ancient stones and the wage of blood that is paid for the preservation of good and law. I spoke of the corruption inherent evil within the structures of our order that sends boys and girls, still children, out to die nobly for the safety of the civilized world. She collapsed in tears as I swatted away the thief with no more thought than it took to breath.
I screamed at them, asked them if they were prepared for what was before them, I pleaded with them to ensure they knew what they were doing. I cut the libram from the cleric’s hands and dashed it against the floor, smiting it and shattering its gold-plated covers. I asked him if he could look upon the face of evil and see it destroyed. My shadows leaped from my hand and snapped the tiny rifle of the short engineer into three pieces and I screamed and asked if he thought that darkness feared his lead and fire.
I turned back toward my brazier as the fire split and the smoke billowed from the center and asked the wizard if she was ready to fight her true enemy.
If she was ready to destroy the darkness that I had been chasing all these years.