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backupsidekick

Journal of Dath – the bed of the earth is my tomb

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I'll have to figure out how to post chapters of this storyline.  I'll figure it out some day, or if you have suggestions, let me know:

Chapter two - the bed of the earth is my tomb

 

Trees.  When I was alive I used to love climbing in them.  I remember my father Skaevell took my brother and I camping one year in the forests North of Vynevale.  At the time the trees were a canopy, protecting me from the deep darkness of the sky and stars, the unknown of what goes beyond the ground we walk into the vast unknown.  Those same trees, the protection of their branches, are now the threat that presses, exhausts, and has taken more life than anything the unknown sky has ever taken from me.

 

Our forces were cut in half in a single night.  What remains are the fighters, the brawlers, the scrappers that take the breaks and losses and run, those that fight when outnumbered, the true believers, the pursuers, the faithful.  I recognize the war paint on an arm bone next to me.  It belonged to Marcus, the recruit.  You can tell the recruits because they are unsure with their lines, the war paint is decorative, fresh, unchipped.  The face did not belong to Marcus though.  Some miscreant must have lost his arm in battle and had Stiken forge Marcus’ arm to his own lost limb.  That is the way though.  Those that find a way will live on to fight, those that only take what is given to them, however, will have it taken away by those that seek honor, reward, and what little of life we hold onto.  Being dead puts a new perspective on life.

 

Above and all around: dirt.  From the pillars I can tell that we must be in some ruins, some ancient and abandoned place.  Maybe we are inside the ruins we found deep within the forest, maybe another hole in the ground we were able to find in the tussle.  I see Brost and Stiken looking over what remains of the army, they are talking in hushed tones, likely discussing our next move.  Retreat was not an option, Brost would never lead another advance and would likely be stripped of everything.  That is the way of Waiqar, if you are not earning commendations, you are being outcast.  The thin line we all walk, in service, in honor, in deception, in struggle with each other and with our enemies.  If you’re not stabbing in the back, you are being stabbed in the back.  As far from humanity that we have been removed, we still retain much of what humanity suffers from most.  Waiqar’s promise has always been to remove the bane of struggle once his vision is implemented worldwide.  There is no need to struggle between each other if all decisions have been predetermined by one who sees all and knows all and is able to make perfect decisions for us to abide by.  Peace through complete and perfect rule.  What a sweet victory for humanity.

 

Arrows are a pain to remove.  The intensely sharp arrows of the Latari pierce bones to the core.  Even removing the strays is a maze of tangled bones, and the barbs make this no easy chore.   The marks on my life rune reveal that I must have died to one of the arrows.  Still better than being broken by a Scion.  Broken bones don’t heal when the blood and marrow is drained from the body.  Salvaging other warriors parts is the only way to fix those wounds.  I tuck the arrow head into my leather pouch, bringing the total to 57.  57 arrow heads I have been able to recover that have taken my life.  I lost the pouch several months ago and had to start over again, I’m sure I’d be closing in on 100 by now.  Fortunately looks like I only lost a couple of ribs, must have fallen down before the scion was able to smash my lifeless skeleton.

 

As I look around I notice the room is lit completely by the torches of a few soldiers and the one that Brost carries.  I can’t find a doorway, entrance, or light coming from any direction.  By now it should be early morning unless the resurrection process had taken longer than normal.  The Latari magic has been changing and evolving, from the unexpected swiftness to the unknown shielding that protected their mightiest of warriors from our arrows.  It’s possible that something was hindering Stiken’s necromantic magics.  There were runic properties that seemed to have been shifting, as if the stones themselves were bending to the battle, whispering on the winds how to sway the fights.  The lumbering giants of the old world, men of stone that slept for years, those that watched at the gates and looked over me as a small child were now walking and flattening horses as if ants.  Faegel the small axe, leader of the pursuit to Greyhaven, was cast to the stars by the stone giant that sleeps at the west gate to the city.  It is said that the eyes of the golem were glowing with the red rage of fathers slain in the hills of Denoe and that upon seeing their leader cast aside the army scattered like the bones without a spine.

 

Behind Brost and Stiken a loud crash befell the earth above.  These were not the hammers of men, the crash resembled the sound of a scion falling upon the ground when its magics had been drained or its roots chopped down.

 

“Men; the sealing magics of Stiken will soon fade on that door” said Brost, confirming my suspicions. “Gather your weapons, search the pile of spares” he said pointing to the pile of bones “the Latari respect their ancient temples, and the earth that protects them enough to avoid a direct conflict, but the threat of our trespass may cause their patience to come to an end.  From Stiken’s recollection, it appears we may be in luck, and may have stumbled upon the ruins of Shai Ka’ameth.   The scion’s incredible strength and ability to meld could likely have been caused by what is within these walls, which is why we did not succeed, but that same strength may be the Latari’s undoing.  It is said that the paths of the Shai Ka’ameth run like the roots themselves throughout the entire forest.  The Latari built these tunnels as a means of delivering runic magic to the entire forest, as a blessing to the false goddess earth mother.  We may be able to find the heart of these walls, which would empower the scepter of Manai, and turn the tides against these false prophets!  The Latari would know the paths better than us, so we need to move swiftly.  To arms, for Waiqar!”

 

All shouted.  All except Stiken.  Something on his face, he knew something.  It’s the Waiqar way, I’ve seen it on the faces of every leader before their last battle.  If you know defeat is on the horizon, victory is at your grasp.  You never speak the truth of defeat, lest it gain victory before battle, you always hold faith, you always believe.  The outcome is not made by men who view the battlefield, but by those who take it by faith.  Stiken had told Brost of his faith, not of his knowledge of these ruins.

 

I grabbed a few lose rib bones, I considered whether or not I wanted them this time.  The balance of protection to mobility caused many of the most swift among us to remove all but a single rib bone on each side to support the shoulders.  I found a few right hand bones that were in better shape than mine.  Some of the more belligerent were taking arms and legs, preparing for the battle ahead, preventing those missing the limbs from getting the needed bones.  Savages some men were, the thinking was that when those less equipped fell, there would be more bones to scavenge from in the future.  I snuck out a few arms and legs before they were all claimed.  I don’t see myself as generous, but I realize the strength in having two men who owe you and will fight beside you.  You become a champion by having followers, or by force.  Buying your way to power was easier than fighting for it as broken bones are replaced by the fallen soldiers or by those that bring them to you.

 

The roof caved not far from me, pinning two men to the ground. It was when the earth started moving that the revelation set in.  The Scions were breaking the Latari rules regarding sacred ruins.  They were sending their roots through the ground to fight.  Like fish in a barrel, the Scions could sense the ground and the movement as if their very roots had eyes. Three more roots came crashing down pinning soldiers to the ground, and one finally crashing down on the pile of bones.  The Latari must consider us a serious threat to abandon their rules of ruins, what else would they be willing to break in order to stop us?

 

“Move!” yelled Brost as he led the way down the hall.  The wording was precise and specific with every champion that ever rose to power.  No utterance of retreat, and run was only used to pick up pace towards the battle.  If you wanted to know when to retreat, you would watch for the movement as it was never commanded.

 

We started down the hall way, roots crashing around us, men screaming.  Some men grabbed the bones either in hopes for scraps or that later Stiken could bring them back.  It was unlikely, though, that these could be brought back.  Unless the life rune was intact and full, a field necromancer would not be able to resurrect any warrior.  We at last outran the scions roots and were able to pause to count numbers and gather our bearings.  Stiken inspected the writings on the pillars, in this Latari maze of paths and halls one wrong turn could place us either in the heart of the Latari or forever lost under the canopy of the forest earth.  What I slept above as a child may be my resting place.  The canopy above me now presenting itself as a tomb.

 

While we were contemplating our next path, we heard the roar.  We all knew that sound.  I broke off a few ribs, I would need to be faster now.

Edited by backupsidekick

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