The Whisperer in Darkness
Fallen in the Ashes
After a couple of days, Euven set out on foot along the road from Cealophorne to the coast. On his third day out, and with plenty of miles under his feet, he decided to stay at a comfortable inn that evening. Upon entering a likely settlement, however, a group of villagers quickly assembled and barred his way into the building. One man stepped forward and told him that he could not remain there. Euven questioned why and was told that that they’d had bad experiences from visitors to the village, and had decided not to trust strangers, particularly ones clad in armour. Euven sensed something else though, and said so, while assuring them of his good intentions, and pointing out that their inn would need the custom of travellers. They eventually relented, and invited him inside, though noone came near him much. He ate a simple meal, then went to find the man who had spoken to him outside the tavern, Phinus. He located him in the gathering gloom, standing next to the temple. What Euven had originally taken for a religious picture looked upon closer inspection to be a distressing mural of a black worm vomiting blood over the world. The man told him it had appeared the previous night and that the villagers were unsure who had painted it. Euven suggested it was just a prank, but Phinus was not convinced and walked away. Euven studied the disturbing image for a little longer before going back to the tavern.
He was almost there when he heard a scream from somewhere in the village behind him and set off at a run. Phinus lay beneath a fallen pile of barrels. A shadowy figure broke cover nearby and Euven set off in pursuit, cursing not having his bow with him. He gained on the quarry, but his opponent threw a dagger at him, which missed by a hair’s breadth. They raced into the trees but Euven was gaining. The enemy stopped, turned, and came at him with a knife which Euven easily avoided, before cutting deeply into the opponent’s leg with his sword. The man threw up his hands, bleeding profusely and Euven half dragged, half carried him back to the town.
A crowd was attempting to free the body of Phinus, but they soon gathered around Euven and the injured man. Many wanted to rip him apart but the elf managed to calm them and begins to interrogate his prisoner. He asked if the man drew the mural. The captive laughed and said no; but that he “worked for that which did, whom will drag mankind back into servitude”. Euven tried to get more information out of him but all he would say was that “that which commands me is ageless and unfeeling and will crush humanity”. After that he lapsed into unconsciousness. Someone opined that it was due to the blood loss from the cut, but Euven was not entirely convinced.
The elf went to collect his bow and quiver, leaving the man under guard. The innkeeper thanked him for his help, and told him that his stay would be free, which Euven was grateful for. He then went back to the body and searched it, unfortunately revealing no clues. He questioned the people, but none had ever seen him before. Euven then went and took last look at the mural on the temple under torch light. He saw that it was not a single worm at all, but rather a great multitude of them acting as one. Still finding it creepy, he demanded it be whitewashed. The villagers muttered, as it was now approaching midnight, but they set to work. Eventually the task was done, and all retired to bed. The catatonic intruder was left tied up in Euven’s room.
The elf fell asleep, but his dreams were more vivid than usual. He found himself in an apparently endless forest. He felt uneasy as he walked and quickened his pace. The uneasiness turned to fear and he began to run, crashing through the undergrowth until nearly running into a figure, dressed in his own golden armour and blue cloak. The figure drew his sword and the two of them fought. Euven was quickly overpowered and pushed to the floor. His opponent cast away his weapon and and removed his helm to reveal a glowing face which Euven knew was that of his emperor. The trainee inquisitor cowered in fear as his lord and master devoured him.
Euven was awoken by the sound of bells. He looked out and saw a fire had started … or been started. The elf didn’t have time to don armour but grabbed his bow and sword. As he turned, he caught sight of the captive, cockroaches crawling all over him. The Euven didn’t have time to think about this and ran outside, strapping on his sword. The villagers were running everywhere, trying to organise a chain of buckets from the well to the carpenters, were the fire had begun.
As Euven looked about, a crossbow bolt thudded into the ground next to him. The shooter was standing in the doorway of a nearby shop and Euven quickly retreated back into the inn, drawing his bow. The crossbowman ran out into the street, putting away his weapon. Euven took the opportunity to loose an arrow which wounded the man in the shoulder, before running back through the tavern, up the stairs and to his room. His adversary, now with sword and shield, came into the tavern and began to search for him. Euven hurriedly barred the door with a chair and started to put on the chain shirt that formed part of his armour. He was almost finished when he heard someone try and break down the door. It didn’t survive a couple of good kicks, and Euven still didn’t have his helm or gauntlets on. He charged anyway. The attacker was much better prepared than the elf, however, and cut him savagely. Euven tried to push past, but the attacker stabbed him in the right side of the chest, and the elf fell to the ground, unconscious.