Dead. They are all dead. They no longer walk this land or breathe this air. Murdered.
I’m not sure I can continue. Why should I? I can barely breathe myself. Each breathe I take is like a doubled fist to my stomach. It feels like a coiled serpent has wound its way around my chest and limits the amount of air I can take in. My eyes are red, no doubt. Red with shame and remorse. Red with sorrow and misfortune.
Ava. My heart beats her name and pains me all the more. My older sister is gone… Tears fill my eyes as I recall what happened over and over again in my mind, but I must record the details.
We left the “Inn” of the Westerman lands, and headed to dine with Lord Westermen himself later that evening. I gave the inn-keeper an extra gold to keep an eye on Ava while we were gone. I felt uneasy about this decision immediately, however, I rationalized we will only be gone but a few short hours at most.
The formidable guards escorted us to Lord Westerman’s estate. The architecture was nothing like any of us had ever seen before. The walls were stone, cold and unrelenting. The dining area, however, was lavish and rich with food. Enough to feed his starving people for a week to be sure.
Needless to say, Moe felt free to dig in. The rest of us, however hungry, continued as custom dictated. Lord Westernman casually mentioned he will decide if we are to live or die tonight, much to our dismay and shock. Moe nearly choked on the three biscuits he was chewing at the time, but somehow managed to swallow it without incident.
Shaking, Thurik, Artemis and I tried to get through the evening as quickly as possible and not say anything else that may influence his decision towards the latter. Unfortunately, Moe was another story. He mentioned (with his mouth full, I might add) Lord Westerman’s dealings with the Kavanaugh family twice. Unflinching, Lord Westerman’s head guard offered to cut out his tongue. Moe suddenly looked panicked, as if that would have been a punishment worse than death itself. He was quickly escorted out.
Once Moe left, those that were left felt even more compelled to leave without incident and spent the rest of the evening talking about the weather and other “pleasantries”.
When we left the manor, we found Moe running towards us with fright in his eyes. He tripped and fell at our feet and lost consciousness. He “came to” once we arrived at the inn. Upon entering, there was the same locals sitting around and nibbling on the rancid stew that Thurik seemed to enjoy so much.
I went to our room to check on my sister, when I opened the door, my blood froze. She was gone. Impossible. I went to feel the bed, cold to the touch. I ran to Thurik and Moe, my voice was shrill and panicked. I was barely able to form the words, “Ava is gone! Ava is gone!”. Thurik’s eyes widened in alarm.
All the emotion I felt and all that I had been through thus far, and now my sister missing broke the dam. I suddenly filled with rage. I turned towards innkeeper, Martha, and told her I would kill her if anything came to harm my sister. Her husband did not take kindly to my attitude, but at that point, it was all I could do to quell my anger and not openly attacked them both.
Not hearing Moe or Thurik’s words, I ran around the building looking for signs of Ava. Then off in the distance, I saw moving lights. Not thinking, I took off towards the lights.
The lights were not Ava. The lights were evil. The lights brought death. Moe, Thurik, Artemis all died. Killed by the lights. I could not save them. My futile attempts to heal there wounds never came to fruition. With everyone dead, I turned towards the last light and gave it one last effort and snuffed it out. I then realized I was alone, in the blackness of night with the silence screaming at me.
I ran like I had never ran before. My eyes wide with alarm I was blindly running with all due haste back to the direction of the inn. Guy answered the door. He seemed slightly pleased at my tragedy. I was not in the state to give it any more thought. I ran to my room, shut and locked the door, closed and locked the windows, stuffed any cracks to the outside world that I could find. Turning the light on as bright as it would allow. I sat on Ava’s bed, hugging my knees.
Sleep was too far off. Sleep couldn’t of happened without an act of Ezra. Yet…yet I heard faint footsteps outside my door…softly padding to and from my door. Hours later I heard them again…soft footsteps…searching…checking…quietly creeping. Each time it made my hair stand on end. I called out with false bravado in my mind and aloud…no response.
Finally dawn broke. Ezra, blessed is your light! When the message I sent to Lord Westerman was returned, I saddled my war-worn horse and rode with all due haste back to Hadley, back to my room at the Inn.
That next day I sent messages back to the ones left in Mordentshire, telling them of the tragedies that had befallen us here in Hadley.
Suddenly I remembered Grey Ravenshaw. One would think I would have thought of him earlier, but my mind has been muddled with grief, shock and guilt.
When I found him, I collapsed at his feet. To see him was a comfort I was not expecting. I choked out what happened. Told him everything. Then he told me he could bring them back.
Disbelief flashed through my head, but quickly dissipated. This was Grey Ravenshaw himself, he could accomplish anything. I told him I would want that, more than anything. I have to have them back. This Land is a darker place without them.
He took off the evening of the first day of the new year. After of course, the Soul Sphere had brought him to his fully restored self. I busied myself trying to keep quiet and stay low until the time had come to meet him. I had to go and retrieve the bodies from the northern reaches. Frightened to go back, but steeling myself to muster the courage. I and four members of the Crimson Guard went and retrieved the bodies of Thurik and Moe; but not Artemis because he would have refused to have been brought back to life. So I buried Artemis where he died.
The corpses were in poor condition. They had been eaten, bitten, and they were barely recognizable. But we fought our way there, got them and fought our way back through the dense forest of knolls and bodies.
It was one of the most beautifully fascinating rituals I have even seen. He brought them back! Then told me of my sister. Her fate was the worst imaginable. The “rancid stew” Thurik was so fond of, was made of the flesh of people. The Inn Keepers had sold there souls to an evil god. They chop up and cook travelers and feed them to the locals. Ava suffered this fate. Grey avenged her and killed them both.
Now we are set upon paying Lord Ravenshaw back for his deeds. Thurik gave up his duty to the Lamplighters, Moe seemed somehow…darker in nature. But I suppose that is to be expected after to you come back from the dead. Now that we are all together, we must find a guide to take us to Hazlan, then to a Road with 1000 secrets. There we will find our way to the land of deserts. The land of unforgiveness. To find an artifact for Lord Ravenshaw.