Corruption

Sleeping under the stars every night for the weeks leading up to our descent into the Abyss hardly prepared me for the month I would spend there. Late from the relative comforts of Helm’s Deep, staring up at the night sky, I dreamed of hot meals and dry sheets; when Yog’Sothoth plunged our island through the portal and danger was constant, I longed only to see the same stars again. There is an alarming lack of consistency in the how others describe their experiences. Some saw a reversal of colours, some saw the world all in black and white, and others still saw no change at all. I, myself, witnessed a red sky during the day, and an alien array of celestial bodies at night, all pervaded by the constant stink of blood.

The moment we made our transition into the Abyss, a great change overtook me. I felt as though the very core of my being had been ripped out. I felt softer, weaker, and I was plagued by headaches for days. None of the healers in Dagger Deep knew what to make of my condition, and when the process was reversed and Arrakis returned to the material plane, the changes I had undergone remained. Arcane mystics in Ankh fared no better, and the greatest healer I have known, Relan, Bishop of Ithus, found his powers useless in curing me. Since our return I have also been plagued by a worsening cough, even as I feel some of my previous vigour returning. Some weeks past I went toe to toe with a giant and managed to overpower him through brute strength. That feat drained me as no other battle has before. Bella remains light in my hands, but it seems swinging her takes more out of me every time. The healers tell me there is a corruption in my chest, some residue of the air in the Abyss. I have spent half my coin on useless herbal concoctions and the other half being told that nothing can be done to cure me of this affliction.

I am twenty-six years old, by my own reckoning. I have never owned anything that I could not carry, nor known the touch of a woman, without coin changing hands (one way or the other). I flounder in my careers as a town guard and as a spy, and the secret agents of my homeland, the Order of Wolves, seem to have lost interest in me. I feel without purpose, without direction, beyond survival. Survival itself seems to be a short term goal, as all signs point to my impending death. Another adherent to Ithus, Brother Hector, implores me to remain strong and steadfast; my mentor and friend, the Hrogn barbarian Merek, suggests that I whore and fight my way to the grave. Ultimately, I am struck with a great melancholy. I see my end coming, and nothing with which to fill the intervening time.

Nothing except, perhaps, reclaiming the legacy of my father. The strangeness of my vision in the Dragon peaks, when I should most certainly have died, led me to redouble my efforts in translating the Captain’s journal. A scholar in Ankh succeeded, and it appears that my vision was correct. A lifetime of not knowing my father, when he stood above me all along. I have a name, at last; Sandar Ilos Zolus. The same name as that of my father, the last great general of the Empire, whose land lies burned and ruined under the heel of a power-obsessed mage. If I am to die, well and truly, perhaps there could be some meaning in dying for my name. To reclaim my father’s estate might afford me some comfort, and to die in the effort might ease my soul wherever it should end up. I do not make friends easily, and this has held true of my time in Dagger Deep, but there are some I would count as comrades. I believe those who would undertake this journey with me are few, but I also believe they would not turn back for all the world, especially if they were to get paid at the end. I shall make my inquiries, and begin to settle my affairs, and continue searching for something to relieve the corruption in my lungs so that I might once more let out a proper battle cry before the end.

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