Whisperer: Years Ago
High Acolyte Garreth shivered as he looked at the silent brother who stood before him. He had once worn the midnight-black robes that the brother now wore, but his thick, gold and red garments provided much more protection from the constant cold on the Northpoint Peninsula. As Garreth looked into the man's eyes, he grew cold and shivered again. His grey hair came down to his shoulders and he ran his fingers through it, pulling it back around his ears. The brightly lit office around him had a cheery demeanor that was stained only by the silent brother that stood rigidly before him; its stone walls glowed yellow and orange from the many candles that lit up the office. The brother had entered without Garreth's servants announcing the arrival, and they still failed to shut the door behind the man. The Brother had made it across the long blue carpet and right to the desk before he was noticed. Garreth nervously passed his star shaped, prayer beads through his hands as he tried to remember a verse, but his nervousness would not be settled easily.
"What brings you before me today, Silent One? I can see the tension in your stance. Please speak, I allow it."
The man remained as silent as ever as he revealed the sacred scrolls that he carried and placed them before Garreth. The scrolls were tattered and worn, showing the folds of constant reading and ink stains of copying that could only be seen on a monk's private copy of the scrolls. Garreth looked at the scroll frowning, re-shifting the wrinkles in his face.
"I am very familiar with the laws of our organization, please ask me any questions, I would be most happy to answer them." He opened the scrolls while he talked, looking for something to relieve the tension in the room.
"I would like to draw your attention to the fact that you may speak to someone of greater achievement in our order, such as myself. So please, what is the reason for barging into my office?" His confidence returned as he held the scrolls.
The silent brother pointed further down the scrolls until his finger stopped and Garreth looked at the writing.
"Women and children of all races will never be harmed by the order as they are the future to our world."
His heart froze and he turned a worried face upwards. "Now why would you show me this?" his words were slow and trembled as he talked. The veins in his arms swelled as his heart beat fiercely in his chest.
Suddenly, Garreth was lying on the ground with his chair on top of him and his frail bones hurting from the fall. The tall silent brother was standing on top of the desk with his black cloak in a bundle on the other side, visible to Garreth from under the bottom of the wooden desk.
"What is this? Please you don't understand," he pleaded with the silent brother.
High Acolyte Garreth had discovered a very profitable alternative to raising the orphans sent to him. He began to sell them across the seas to Kelred Marsh and the gobloniods there, who would bring back all manners of ancient relics for enough young souls to fuel their blood magic; it was rumored to still work in the forsaken lands across the sea.
The silent brother stood now in short, tight, black leggings with only black hand wraps covering his knuckles, exposing the rest of his hairless body, as he lifted the chair and placed it back onto its legs. His breath was calm and steam could be seen rolling off of his bald head. His defined muscles tensed as he helped Garreth back into his chair and pointed at the scrolls, a cold look in his eyes. The man seemed to be in almost perfect shape and moved in complete silence. Garreth continued, with tears in his eyes and blood running down his nose.
"To cause or allow harm to come to innocent souls is to taint your soul with Evil." He hunched over and cried for a long time.
When he again looked up, the silent brother had moved all of the standing candles in the room to form a circle around the two of them. A cudgel lay on the table before Garreth and the silent brother stood, holding the scrolls open.
The voice was beautiful and soft as the last words High Acolyte Garreth ever heard flew from the man's mouth, barely above the sounds of the candles flickering.
"Through pain and fire. Saved."
The Silent Brother rerolled the scrolls and traced a circle around the light. As he walked, he pushed the candles over one by one. Blue, lush carpet turned red and violently leapt into flames that licked at the desk. Soon, black smoke clouded Garreth's vision and choked his lungs in its heavy grasp. He felt heat explode forward to cover his entire body. His red, lush cloak was aflame and he tried to scream. The pain seared his flesh: it was as if the fire was shrinking his cloak around his frail body.
The stump of the man didn't move as the flames ate away the corpse. High Acolyte Garreth had truly died the same day he first accepted money for souls.
The Silent Brother sat with his back against the cold wall. His legs crossed on the floor as he prepared his body and soul for the fire that was sure to envelope him. He waited as the flames grew in size, they flickered and shot upwards. Higher and higher, they rose until it licked the ceiling and walls with its scorching tongues.
"Ema-nul. Gasbavia di-arel. Ev Bonvuelt gof iyylsrat."
The deep words echoed painfully inside the monks head. He collapsed forward over his own legs with his head slamming on the floor in front of him. Something deep within his body wracked him with pain, fighting to rip through his chest. Slowly, as if it leaked through the pours of his skin, a blue flame removed itself from his chest. He watched it drift upward and forward, towards the wall of fire that filled the room. It danced and twirled on an unfelt torrent before his eyes. The blue was as deep as the oceans on its edges and light, sky blue at its innermost flame. It looked tiny before the massive red flames that loomed over it.
There was a face in the awl of fire. It was dark, almost purple, and beautiful. The body of the creature was grotesque. It's head twisted on its long neck to stare down at the monk. The naked torso hung upside down from a spiders body, its hands beckoned the blue flame closer to its widening mouth.
The monks eyes burned at the sight of the creature, so he tore his gaze from the monster and returned them to the floor in front of him. Never before had he heard of any such event and he could only assume that this was a reaper of souls.
I am already burned. The gates of Nefar Planes mirror ours in such detail that I failed to notice my own death.
Again he brought his eyes forward. The creature stood on its long, hairy legs and towered over the monk. Its head twisted upside down as it stared with fiery red sockets. In its hands were two flames; one was tiny compared to the other. The smaller was black, it barely flickered and sat in the hand of the creature. The monk recognized the other as his own flame. It flickered and floated about the creature's hand with energy. The creature frowned heavily, causing an eerie smile to spread on its splendid face. It maneuvered the flames together in a flair and broke them apart again. The black flame danced about in similar patterns to the blue flame now.
The monk watched in horror as the creature opened its mouth wide and devoured the newly excited black flame. Only the blue flame remained in its hands. A cold chill spread throughout the monks body as the creature untwisted its neck. It raised the flame to its right eye and closed the other. Staring at the monk, it opened its mouth wide and shut it again. Suddenly, it skittered forward on its spider-like limbs, stopping directly in front of the monk.
Smiling, the creature lowered the flame down to the monk. He reached up hesitantly. When his fingers touched the blue flame, he felt a piercing burn wrap itself around his fingers and spread to cover his hand. The pain burned, twisting and entangling its way over his arms, and spread in all directions throughout his body. The pain welled inside and out as the monk screamed in torment.
He brought a blurred hand to his face and felt a blood on his forehead. He looked up quickly, expecting to see a large wall of fire. However, there was nothing but ash in the room. Even the metal candle stands had turned to dust. Only the moonlight from the window behind him pierced the darkness. The monk raised his hand into the silver moonlight and saw words written all over his hand. The man's pale skin was covered in the symbols of old magic.
Squinting his eyes to see, the man looked at the strange figures that were etched between the thumb and index finger on his right hand.
He gathered himself from the floor. Tenderly, he stepped forward, with each movement reawakening the pain that had recently departed his body. He dragged his feet across the stone floor and through piles of ash. He could fill the dust whirl up around his body. Only when he reached the end of the long room did he notice the cloak that had twisted itself around his foot. It's lush fur felt warm against his skin. His body trembled in the cold of the room and he donned the thick material quickly. Soon, his own body heat reflected off the soft material and filled the cloak with warmth. He pulled the hood over his head to protect his face from the cold as well.
He walked with his head down in a humble manner. Though the monastery had become corrupted over time, he still felt a sense of holiness throughout the place. The entire place was empty as he moved pass the places where guards had stood. Their bodies were only piles of ash.
I am dead as well. Cursed to walk these halls for all eternity for my crimes.
The monk walked the familiar path to the front of the temple in darkness, moonlight failed to shine through the windows. The monk contemplated the events that had transpired over the night. Nothing in his life could make sense of what had happened. And before long, he found himself in front of the large double doors that served as the archway into the monastery. Their plainness was their grandeur. Thick, solid wood that had been carved by patient hands over decades. Words had been etched into them long ago by the first monks. The doors had stood a testament to discipline and order for everyone on Northpoint Peninsula. They faced south, blessing the travelers who made pilgrimage to meditate before the remnants of the age of magic.
Magic The monks eyes widened at the thought. He approached the door slowly, placing his hands and head upon the thick wood.
Magic would explain everything that transpired. There was no limit to what Garreth could have reawakened with his greed if the blood magic had worked. Whisperer had never believed that the goblinoids could have been telling the truth. The Gods and their magic had disappeared long before Garreth's predecessor would have ever been born a few hundred years ago. What monstrous thing was that? The creature that appeared at Garreth's death was like nothing ever told of. Only one place could hold such a wealth of information.
When Whisperer's eyes reopened, they were aflame with new determination. He unlocked the smaller door that stood carved inside the massive entrance. When he passed through the archway, his body shuddered as if passing through a rift.
The sunlight shocked Whisperer as he stepped through the doorway. Birds flew overhead and the smell of flowers filled his nostrils. The smells of Spring filled the air. Confusion enveloped his mind as he stared in surprise at the scenes before him. It was nearing the end of winter, but still very far from the short days of spring.
As his eyes adjusted to the view before him, he noticed the rows of white tents that were set up before him. There must have been fifty, all looked exactly the same. The white tents of the Dark Army, the mercenaries with no homes to return to. Brigands and vagabonds that sold their weapons to whoever offered coin; they were far outside of their lands. The Unified Kingdom started hundreds of miles south, on the far side of the Slimhil river. A young orc turned his attention from the card game that he shared with his human companion.
"It's opened!" The orc quickly stood, knocking the table over, and grabbed his spear.
The human fell to the ground with the table. "A ghost!" He shuffled to his feet and gripped his own spear aggressively, pointing its tip in Whisperer's direction.
The men stood in black leather, gloves covering their hands and black leather helmets lie on the ground. Cracks and patches covered their armor to show the wear and toil of battle. All the Dark Army wore similar garb to show their allegiance, however, many people wore similar apparel all over the continent. Even Whisperer's cloak matched the same color as the men before him.
"What do we do?" The human man looked at the orc. They had been camped here for two weeks at the direct order of their General.
The orc called out to Whisperer, "What is you name?"
Whisperer remained silent. The confusion of the situation left him speechless.
"He can't talk ya git. He's one of them silent ones. They wear the black. See?" The human had been born in a city with a monastery, or had seen a Silent Brother at some point in his life. The Orc, from the northeastern part of the Starfell Continent, had grown up with the tribes of fellow orcs. Few had ever come this far west. Their communities banded together to build cities and roads, so few traveled on their own.
"Well, what now?" The orc stared with curiosity.
"I'll go get the commander. No, I'll go get the General. He wants to know." The human turned and ran down the path that led to the white tents while the orc watched Whisperer seat himself.
They sat in silence for a long while before the sounds of hoofs beat upon the cobblestone pathway. Three horses strode towards them, a white mare in lead of two black stallions. The man riding the lead horse looked to be about fifty and wore the red and white colors of The United Kingdoms. The two humans behind him wore black; little about them was visible through their armor. The horses neighed and reared up onto two hind feet. the men quickly dismounted the beasts before they could turn and run. The stallions broke from their owners and trotted away down the path, while the mare backed up cautiously. Its reigns stayed in the hands of its owner.
"Greetings, Silent One." The man spoke properly in the southern accents.
Whisperer looked the man over, his appearance was grand. The air whirled his red cape and his open, white robes tossed along with them. His garb was rich, pieces of jewelry were embedded in his tunic and gold lace ran along his trousers and cape.
Who is this man? Whisperer had never seen such elegance.
His poor upbringing held few sights that stuck in his mind. Most of his life had been spent in the monastery that he had just left. Now those memories were tainted with the actions of his corrupted leaders.
"Who am I?" The man asked. "Who are you? We have waited here for many months. Tales of this monastery burning to the ground and then re-appearing the next day brought all kinds of people to its doors. Before we got here, people tried to break in. They climbed the sides and pounded on the doors. No one has told a story of what is inside. And now you are here. Seemingly fine. And you come out of a door that was hidden to us for the past months. So I ask again."
"Who are you, silent one?"
I am a dead man. I passed through the Nefar Gates and somehow have escaped. Time has warped around my predicament and expels me here.
Whisperer looked again at his hand. The blue writing was unfamiliar to him, however he could see one word with meaning.
"Whisperer? Thats dark isn't it? Still, If you stay here while I enter this holy place,I will answer whatever questions that I can." The man turned to the two behind him.
"Hold the door open, but do not enter after me. I cannot guarantee anyone else's safety. And if he decides to leave, just let him. His soul is tainted, his home is gone, and he has nowhere to go."
The man strode passed Whisperer, dropping his cloak and robe before he entered the monastery. The voices of opposition from his escort were ignored as he drew a long, golden sword in his left hand. The guards attention slowly turned to Whisperer.
"His Excellence is peculiar at least. Blessed by the gods. We can't hear you like he can, so simply nod or point."
He can hear me?
Waves of exhaustion broke over Whisperer and his vision blurred. He fell back, into darkness.