Adept's Tale: The Never-ending Swamp
an Adept of Lunord, was on a journey of great importance. The marshy
ground before him was getting soft and the air had become far too thick
for his liking. A vast swamp spread out before him. Even the trees were
sagging with the weight of the air.
Xin shivered as he hastened onward. He knew that
he was the only one of the Sovereign's retainers that had a chance at
reaching the destination in time. A few of the Sovereign's greatest
heroes were in peril near the Dark Lord's Castle, and it was up to him
aid in their retreat from the evil hordes.
Back at the Inn, the wounded Ranger's tales had
sounded entirely too horrific to be true. But Xin trusted this Ranger
and his call for aid was too important to pass by. Xin recalled what
the Ranger had said while bandaging his injured leg:
"…I had just crested the hill when I saw the
four heroes standing before the Dark Lord's Castle. All of a sudden,
a dark mist seeped out from cracks in the earth. Then hideous undead
creatures began flowing out of the Dark Castle's mouth like a wave of
sickness. It was terrible. I only escaped because I had just arrived
on the scene and was more determined to save my own life than to delve
into that mess. These undead were even rising up from the dirt at my
feet! That's how I got this." The Ranger had pointed to his wounded
Xin tried to reaffirm his motivation as he trudged
onward through the murky grasses.
"The Ranger never mentioned this", thought Xin
to himself. "Perhaps I am lost? Even if I reach the others in time,
there is only a small hope that my distraction will prove useful." Xin
paused to catch his bearings again. "Oh Lunord, of the Shining Crescent,
call forth the winds to sweep away this stench!"
Yet the God of Adepts seemed to turn a blind
eye. The thick, humid air that hung about him was almost unbearable.
Murky clouds swelled out of the bog stifling his senses. He could feel
the weight of his mud caked boots slowing him with each step. Xin's
mood grew foul.
Obscure chirping noises seemed to taunt him and
the stench was making him delirious. Xin missed the wind that rushed
through steep valleys of his homeland. He remembered as a youth how
the wind would push at his back urging him to run faster and faster
up the steps of his temple. Nothing could surpass the rush of freedom
he got from racing up those steps. Xin closed his eyes and imagined
himself racing across an open desert plain towards his homeland temple.
The temple shrank away before him even as he ran faster and faster.
Xin cried aloud, "Do not abandon me, Lunord!"
Just then, the ground beneath his feet began
to shift and he opened his eyes. Before him loomed the Dark Lord's Castle,
surrounded by scattered bones. Xin stood at the gates where, only moments
before, hordes of fearsome monsters had been rushing out.
Lunord must have carried him on the winds after
all! Xin looked behind him at the vast reaches of swamp that he had
miraculously bypassed. Xin then turned and saw a body lying on the ground
before him. It was Sha-rei, the powerful and holy Paladin.
"I am too late! Even with Lunord's divine displacement,
I am too late!" Xin fell to his knees and clutched his head.
"Help!" A quavering voice called out to Xin.
Xin jerked his head up. "Sha-rei?" But after
taking a good look at Sha-rei's face, Xin knew she was deader than dead.
Xin frantically searched around and saw an arm
slightly moving beneath a pile of bones. He rushed over to uncover the
figure. It was none other than the great Wizard, Palamadius!
Despite his frailty Palamadius still had that
bold, enigmatic expression that all Wizards seem to hold. But something
seemed amiss. "I can hardly move. My body is gripped … by the Dark Lord's
venomous touch. You must seek out a potion that will cure this poison…before
it is too late." The old Wizard closed his eyes.
"Do not die!" Xin shook the old man till his
eyes fluttered open again. "Where can I find a potion that will help?"
The Wizard seemed to have a look of skepticism
in his expression. "You must travel beyond that swamp. If you make it,
you'll find a man named Doran. He will sell you a potion for pittance.
Bring it back before the Sun reaches high, else you'll never find me
amongst all these bones."
Xin looked up to the swamp that he'd only just
traversed, then glanced at the Wizard and sighed. While he did not relish
retracing his path, he knew of the obligations that came with Lunord's
blessings. As he sprinted towards drooping trees, he realized that his
journey wasn't even half done.