Midnight RPG - Chapter 14.34
- [This scene takes place some time after Zal'Kazzir frees the imp, in the time FOLLOWING his introduction "speach" to the group. In the time when you're looking around Vrolk's Laboratory and into the evening when you rest, the little Imp (who has said he is now "bound" to Zal'Kazzir) comes up to you to chat... Think of it as "networking" or "small talk"... hehe...]
SHADAAR's PRIVATE talk with Nazif, Zal'Kazzir's courtesan imp=
"Hello my human friend. T'would I be impolite were I to call you by your given name? Shadaar, is it that your fellow pathwalkers call you? May I speak to you in such a familiar tone?", the small green-gray skinned imp quaries as its eyelids slowly flicker as if the very light beyond its former cage, burns its bulbous eyes... Looking to you in hopes of acceptance...
"I can only hope that you would speak to me in kind. I am Nazif by name, those I call friend know me as the Erenlander's Kin. I am most happy to make your aquaintence. I find it insanely majestic that you have been able to survive throughout your wreched ordeal put upon you by Master Vrolk. How is it you survived? I would be most interested in your tale of triumph in the face of such horror...", Nazif, sits his bottom to the wooden floors that grow unnaturally out of the obsidian gemstone of the Spire. He sits without bending his body, focusing his eyes looking into your's directly. He seems ever-so inquisitive and even aids you when he notices you picking up anything or moving anything.
Shadaar to Nazif
*Shadaar looks uncomfortable and shifts nervously perched on the floor. He then squints his eyes at the imp and seems to calm.*
*Nodding* You may call me Shadaar. I have not seen your kind before, Nazif. *Shadaar slowly circles Nazif curiously, looking at the strange creature.*
*Quietly speaking as he shambles around the imp* Hmm. I have been through much. And I have been forced to do... things here *Shadaar shivers* that I had, before this, thought I was not capable of. *Shadaar shrugs* I suppose I only did what I needed to in order to survive?
*Shadaar perches on the floor in front of Nazif again*
*Seemingly disarmed by the imp's charm* Those you call friend know you as the Erenlander's Kin?
*Shadaar waits for a response and watches everyone in the room intently.*
*And then asks another question.*
How do you find yourself amongst the vile elf's personal effects?
Nazif, newly renamed Banal
seemingly mimicing your movements for a moment the Imp stands walks about in your pattern and then crouches to a settled position, in a spot at a comfortable distance from you as to not make you more anxious...
Forgive, young friend. You seem at ill-odds not able to hold in one position. Was it your time held on the Vile's slab that did this to you or your long roaming of the Black Nail? You speak of 'things' that seem to sit unkind with you that you have been forced to do in order to survive while here in the heart of darkness. I must say ma-lord, do not be ashamed of what you did, who you are or what you may have become or could yet be... Do not take this to heart, hold-fast to your will... Find fault with what THEY made you become and fight them by holding off the darkness that might have consumed your soul were you a lesser creature.
Perhaps you need but a confidant to unwind your tortured soul. What was it then friend that you found yourself committing that you fear others might not understand, least likely your own self? Speak to me as you would a brother in arms, for I too found my way in the grasp of Shadow yet like you I was not encapsilated by it in the end. I have not fallen from the path. We are kin in this way if not in flesh, you and I. Speak to me as such and I will hold your ear with similar comfort... Tell me Shadaar-friend... What troubles you still?
For it is true that I once bore the name of kindness given by a man of Erenland-make. I walked with King Pythian in the Battle of the Three Kingdoms before the dawn of the Second Age.
The tales passed down of the Battle of Three Kingdoms seem like nothing less than myths and legends. In truth, they are not fantastic enough. Divine and arcane magics clashed and rent the sky. Black clouds borne on the foul north wind covered the battlefield with poison and ice. Flights of sorcerous arrows flew so thick they blocked out the sky. Orc blood formed a great dark swamp that mixed with the rivers of red flowing from slaughtered defenders. Dire wolves ripped out the throats of ogres, and giants broke the backs of massive bears. Demons raged across the field attacking anything, mad with bloodlust. The Shadow’s legates cast their spells and hunted the Witch Queen. Aradil’s sorcerous host loosed terrible fires as she stalked Izrador’s generals. The battle was a black nightmare of clashing blades, dying screams, and freezing gore.
The Battle of Three Kingdoms lasted six days. More than 5,000 elves, dwarves, and humans died. Forty thousand of Izrador’s foul creatures were slain. The dark forces broke and fled.
The kingdoms of Eredane were victorious. King Pythian, Rodrick to his kin travelled across the Pellurian Sea against my advocacy, yet I stood by him until the day he could no longer stand. I recall all those times that he gave me his heart and confessed his sins, hoping that by telling them to one of my kind might grant him asylum in hell or the heavens, neither of which I had the heart to tell him I had sway within...
I fled sure death after hearing the last words of the Erenlander King as the surviving Eredane forces spent months hunting down bands of fleeing orcs, killing as many as they could find. They were also forced to destroy the countless Fell that had risen from the bloodiest battlefield in Eredane’s history. These skirmishes and battles took their own toll and many more brave warriors were killed. By winter of the next year, what remained of the orc horde had been driven back into the northern wastes, most of the undead had been destroyed, and a hard-won peace had returned to the lands.
I found my way south, into the jungles of the Erethor where although it was not safe, I did have a freedom not known in years of service to the King. Yet that freedom came with a price. I had lost my friend, son to my friend before him, grandson to anohter friend and great-grandson to my first friend in his line.
So - Yes, Erenlander. You could say that those I called friend, in days gone by, knew me as the Erenlander's Kin. Do you offer the same kindness my friend? the little imp smiles and dips his head with an obvious show of friendly respect for your own line of mankind...
As to how do I found yourself amongst the vile elf's personal effects... I would but say that it seems to be my lot in life to fall into the service of great men... Whether they of evil bent or outside the Shadow's touch. I held and hope to hold company of men that be strong. They may be of elf-flesh, orc-meat, drarven-make, or of humanity's breed. If I am lucky I would find another Erenlander worthy and of strong character to call friend as I watched fall on the ice and blood fields in the North. Could you say that you might be of this stout heart my new Erenlander friend?... The imp speaks with confidence as he grinds his teeth points....
*Shadaar smiles as Belal tells his tale and settles in even closing his eyes at times.*
Oh to be able to look back on such times as when the Shadow had not fallen across the lands covering them in darkness. I can only imagine! You bring joy to me little one... *quieter and with some sadness in his voice* I can only hope that some day Eredane will once again breathe free. Happiness must have been a not too uncommon site in those brighter times, I can only imagine. I wish I could once again hear the sounds of laughter so hard to find in these days. It seems that I can only hear the screams...
*Shadaar speaks softly, almost unheard* I have been in this... what did you call it? Black Nail for several days. Most of it seems as though viewed by a dream... or maybe nightmare is closer to the truth. I can hear screams and I do not know if they are my own. Time seems to slide backwards and forwards, my body races even as my mind feels so very tired. *Looking confused* I can taste warm meat sliding down my throat, yet I do not remember eating anything besides an errant bug as I clung close to the black rock outside. I have a hunger I can't quite describe, something that seems unquenchable... always near. *Shadaar shrugs* I think maybe it has just been a long few days. *Nodding as though to convince himself* I am sure that once my mind and body accept where I am everything will fall into place. Yes, perhaps my belly just needs a good night of sleep. The morning always seems to be so cleansing. *Shadaar begins to look as though he is about to yawn, but then is suprised when one doesn't come.*
*Shadaar shakes his head as if to clear it* I can only hope that the pictures you paint with your words will once again be true. In my thoughts I daydream that Erenland will throw off the shackles of the Enemy. And perhaps, if I am lucky, I will be a part of that. I can only hope that, with your aid, this band of men will see even the smallest part of your story come to light.
*Shadaar stands up and looks at the strange creature* Yes Belal I believe I can trust you. Your words seem to soothe me, even as I speak to you in return. *Shadaar frowns uncertain suddenly, feeling exposed.*
*Shadaar begins to shift uncomfortably again and walks to the nearest window stretching his limbs.*
[assume that this conversation continues following the time that all become aware of Shadaar's "condition" as Ungral...]
the old beast sits at the cage for which Shadaar has been shackled... he sits for a good long time without a word, knowing that sometimes the best an advisor can give is to just be there when the pain is at it's greatest. Just listening or sitting to offer an ear is often better than any flowery words.
Some 10, 15, 20 minutes stream by as the little imp toys with tools twisting braids of rope into some complex pattern, perhaps remembered from the first Sarcosan horsemen or possible those of elven-kind in the wood of the Erethor... It hands a portion of the little craft into the cage, his spindly arms reaching farther in than most others could. Belal smiles as he has watched Shadaar's toying with the lock to the cage intermittenly...
Then after some time he speaks, this time much less abrupt. His words flowing from the sound of silence... ".......brighter times.... if memory forsakes you, if screams cloud your ears perhaps we can remedy that. When you hear the wails, I offer my ear good-friend. If what the necromancer (Kyuad) says is true, you have become as Fell. Undead but not yet lost. The term is Ungral. That is now your race and culture. Some may tell you friend-Shadaar that that way is nothing but madness and malice. I say that this is the time that you make your own way in the world. If you forget your past, then let it be gone. You must make a glorious time of the next day and forgive your lost time. I have known hundreds of different types of beings and all had a choice to make. Some will tell you that they do not... That orc are born and bred to serve Shadow. Yet I would remind you that that is not always do..." As the imp looks up to the above level on which Durgaz can be seen looking into the sky.
"... Let us then make new tales Lord-Shadaar. But this cage takes your spirit, have I friend-Shadaar ever told you the tale of the Heritage of Eredane..." and Belal begins as story to comfort his new friend.
"...During the First Age, the ancient kingdoms of the elves in Erethor and the dwarves in the Kaladruns were the greatest civilizations of Aryth. The heartland was home to scattered clans of nomadic halflings and gnome river folk, but much of it was untamed wilderness. Eredane was again invaded in the Second Age, this time by the conquering armies of Sarcosa, the Old Empire of Pelluria. The Sarcosan Empire was a great civilization of advanced knowledge and science. They brought steel swords, great war machines, and sophisticated warcraft to Eredane, and they were the first to introduce horses and mounted knights to the continent. The Sarcosans battled the elves, cutting and burning deep into the fringes of Erethor. Settlers from the Old Empire poured into Eredane, and the Sarcosans built great cities along the southern coasts. They eventually made peace with the elves and began trading with Erethor and the Kaladruns, carving great roads across the newly tamed wilderness. With their hold on the southern regions of Eredane secured, the Sarcosans turned their attention to the Dornish kings in the north. After years of war, the Dorns were finally beaten and the northland kings surrendered their crowns to the lords of the southern cities."
"Despite their defeat, the Dorns’ might was not broken, and in time, they joined with the Sarcosan colonial lords to throw off the rule of the Old Empire. When a great imperial armada was destroyed at the island fortress of Stormhold, the Old Empire’s power in Eredane came to an end. The Dorns and the Sarcosan colonial lords created a unified kingdom called Erenland that ruled over the heartland of Eredane. Rule of the Kingdom of Erenland was shared by great houses tracing their lineage to both the Sarcosan colonial aristocracy and the Dornish clans. The greatest cities of Erenland, including the capital, were always in the south. These were the civilized jewels of the kingdom, with fabulous palaces, monuments, and wondrous star towers dedicated to the Sarcosan religion. The descendants of the Dorns, known as the Old Kings or the Northmen, held to their traditions as well. Their castles were simple stone keeps and holdfasts, and they continued to worship their ancestors in sacred circles of standing stones built millennia ago by the first Dornish settlers in Eredane. The heartland of Erenland is dominated by the common folk who share a mixed Dorn and Sarcosan heritage. In the Third Age, they were farmers, herdsmen, and craftsmen and lived lives of simple prosperity and peace in their bountiful land."
"The peoples of Eredane know little of the lands that lie beyond our seas. Some say the elves of the First Age traveled to all the corners of the world, but even if such legends are true, this lore was almost certainly lost in ages past and was never shared with the wise of other nations. What little we know comes from the records of Dornish and Sarcosan settlers who traveled to Eredane from the eastern continent known as Pelluria in ancient days. Sadly, these records are often little more than folktales and must be held suspect in the light of reason. I believe that Pelluria is a land of greater aspect and extension than Eredane, as “a youth shall gray and come to infirmity before crossing the breadth of the Kalif’s dominion.” Even allowing for the excesses of a culture known for its vanity and embellishment, this suggests a vast continent unconstrained by the great oceans that embrace our land on three sides. Nor is there reason to believe that the “Kalif’s dominion” ever covered all the realms of Pelluria. It is known that the Sarcosan Empire conquered the Dornland river valley in the north. It is believed, however, that the fall of the Old Empire in the Third Age had as much to do with a war against a rival power in the east as with internal decay and the loss of its overseas colonies in the west. The Dorns describe their ancestral home as a land of cold, rugged hills, glacial valleys, and deep, snow-laden forests. In the Sarcosan records, I learned of vast grasslands, endless deserts, and great cities of stone built in the oldest days by the first men of Aryth. The elder races of the fey are unknown in these lands, but the stories speak of stranger peoples that share no blood with the elder fey, of fearsome races that hate all others and feed on the flesh of men. Tales of serpent people and beastmen must be considered little more than fables told for the benefit of wayward children."
"It is the Sorshef Sahi that say the duty of all men to excel, and he who does not improve his station will die honorless and without value. The worthy man will ride forever with the Heavenly Host, but the sheol is doomed to walk alone in the dark places."
"The wars with Izrador spawned many great heroes from all the races. The memory of these champions helps to keep the faith among human insurgents and inspire fey defenders who still battle the Shadow today, and some say the strength they gave in the fight against Izrador persists in the weapons they used. I remember walking with Elenial, an elven girl whose family was killed in the orc raid on Althorin, killed 27 raiders with a single arrow. Sneaking through the burning remains of the town with only one arrow left in her quiver, she would shoot an unsuspecting warrior, watch him die, and then sneak to the corpse and recover her shaft undamaged. She did this time and again, until the entire orc host huddled together in fear and set to hunting her. It is said she killed their leader with her final shot, just before they cut her down. Still today, elven archers running low on arrows recite her name as they loose their flights, asking her boon in guiding their aim. The quiver of Elenial, should one be able to find it, is rumored to never run out of arrows. And there was my friend Puldur, a great dwarven weaponsmith and a stalwart warrior to whom countless fantastic exploits have been attributed. One of his best known feats is the Long Duel of Hanigor Pass. The last survivor of Hanigor’s defensive unit, Puldur held it alone for three days and three nights against an orc raiding party numering in the hundredst. The songsmiths say that in days past, when the orcs still had some semblance of pride and honor, they could be goaded and challenged to single combat; this is what Puldur did, they say, a hundred times and more without rest, holding that cold, lonely ground. Individually, the orcs were no match for Puldur’s stamina or the mithral axe he wielded, and he took them one after another. By the dawn of the second day, the bodies were piled so high they blocked the pass, and the remaining orc fighters skulked away under the cover of darkness. Bards claim it is because of this battle that every mithral axe forged in the dwarven lands is still engraved with Puldur’s clan mark, and it is said that he who wields Puldur’s axe itself can never be defeated in single combat and knows not the meaning of fatigue or despair. And then there was Aio the Light Foot who survived the razing of his village, but everyone and everything he loved was taken that night. Aio was given as a slave to a wealthy legate who wanted a halfling slave to cook his meals. He played the part, but learned to pick the lock on his collar. He stole a knife from the kitchens and snuck into the sleeping orc camps nearby. By the time he left an hour later, there were nine orcs dead in their bedrolls. Aio’s nightly forays continued for several weeks and word quickly spread of his stealth and prowess. Aio himself was eventually captured and executed, yet his blade has found its way into the hands of captive halflings ever since so that they might enact justice upon their captors."
"... are these the things that warm your unbeating heart, friend-Shadaar? I must tell you I donot care about the lack of beat in your chest. I have known much worse things with and without heart. Anyone that can make me recall the best of times deserves a fair thought and less judgement cast on him as these others look at you for... Don't dislike them for that. They are not long on this land. They fear death. You can choose a different outlook, you no longer need to fear..."
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