Welcome to my untitled story that’s known as the Daerinnid Chronicles. The story takes place in the online roleplaying game Imperial Secrets. Check out http://www.imperialsecrets.com to learn more! Also, try http://www.talosianfields.org/daer/ for character profiles and extra goodies.

Seems every fantasy story is about some good little twerp and how he triumphs over evil, but let’s be honest, aren’t bad guys cooler? Forget about following the good guy. This story is about a man, evil by nature, and his rise to power. Because evil kicks good’s ass. (And you know it!)



Prelude to the Journey

[Somewhere in Keska]

The sun was hot. Not terribly so, as summer's long onslaught had not yet arrived, but hot enough to make the weather rather uncomfortable for the traveling and the overdressed.

Daerinnid was both of these. Garbed in loose white cloth, he leaned against his staff and wiped beads of sweat from his brow. The layers of cloth could have served as a form of protection from the heat had there been a wind, but the air was displeasingly still. Daerinnid's clothing, dampened by human sweat as it was, lay plastered unkindly against his skin as if attempting to merge with his body.

Overhead, a dark bird cried out, its call echoing through the sparse forest. To Daerinnid, the bird was nothing more than another annoyance. It would not be of any assistance on his quest. Perhaps that bird knew the answers Daerinnid sought, but as all winged creatures of its kind, it would never be able to speak such secrets to the ears of men.

His brief rest complete, Daerinnid took a quick swig of water from the canteen strapped to his waist before continuing onward, robes trailing centimeters above the ground, staff digging into the dry earth. He had many more miles to walk, and if the day were hot, the night would be a frigid hand gripping the land. Such was the manner of the local weather in this part of Keska, the Isle of Mischief.

---

With the sun's light quickly slipping away on the horizon, the last leg of the journey grew ever more arduous. Daerinnid knew well what awaited unprepared travelers during the night. Sudden bursts of nighttime cold could freeze a man who lacked the comforting warmth of fire and the safety of sturdy walls. Weather was not the only concern. There were far too many strange spirits who wandered the land: pixies, elves, and the vile Te'nakh'nor.

As he thought of the Te'nakh'nor, Daerinnid smiled. The creatures were abominations, yet they represented something far more than grotesque physical appearance to Daerinnid. The Te'nakh'nor were power.

Every child on Keska knew the tale. It was relayed to them by their mothers as warning. "Don't waste food, of the Te'nakh'nor will come and eat you"; "If you don't wash your hands, you'll turn into a Te'nakh'nor!" Daerinnid knew every variation on the theme. His mother had been adept at applying the Te'nakh'nor threat to everything Daerinnid did, before he killed her.

Daerinnid knew that the Te'nakh'nor were not just an old wives' tale. They were a very real threat. The thought brought some satisfaction for Daerinnid: the Te'nakh'nor induced fear in the people: control them and control that fear. Fear was a powerful ally, and a useful one.

Unfortunately, fear was also a terrible enemy. Daerinnid faced it now as he quickened his pace, hoping at any moment to see the welcoming lights of an inn or safehouse. Inns were usually precisely one day apart on the road like this. Such arrangement benefited the innkeepers, as any traveler who wanted to insure their safety through the night would pay dearly for the safety of a bed. Daerinnid's own collection of golds attested to his willingness to pay exorbitant prices for such comforts.

The sound of insect's chirping finally managed to drown out Daerinnid's thoughts in nothing short of a collective roar. The pulse was rhythmic, changing the pattern of Daerinnid's steps. Daerinnid did not mind the effect. It gave him a beat to march to. He fell into step with the benign chirping as easily as sliding into a clear pool of water.

Daerinnid marched with the beat of the wild, watching the horizon with sleepy eyes. Soon enough, a brief speck of light became visible, growing stronger as Daerinnid's long strides devoured the ground. Breaking away from the insects, Daerinnid began to run, his staff striking his legs and his pack beating an irregular tune against his back. His breaths came faster, but determination proved the stronger force, and Daerinnid was soon pounding against the welcoming door. A sign hanging overhead identified the establishment as "the Black Pig."

"Hello, is anybody in there?" he called as he pounded. There was a muffled response form within. Daerinnid quickly ceased his bashing and waited for the door to open.

When it finally did, Daerinnid was greeted by the bearded face of a burly innkeeper. Thinking quickly, Daerinnid put his tongue to work. "Excuse me, sir, I hate to bother you at this time, but I require a place to sleep for the night. I'll pay you well." The innkeeper, obviously eager for business, quickly threw the door open for his guest.

"Please," the man beamed, "come in! Welcome to the Black Pig, famous across the land for our delicious pig." The bearded innkeeper practically dragged the weary Daerinnid inside, pulling him into the dining room. Daerinnid blinked slightly. The establishment was moderately clean and well lit, and the innkeeper seemed friendly enough. Almost as if on cue, a round woman and two dimpled girls appeared. "My wife, Effie, and my daughters Neesa and Manny." Each bobbed her head as she was introduced.

"The pleasure is mine," replied Daerinnid, quickly slipping into his diplomatic mode. He crossed over to the three women and knelt, kissing the hand of each. The wife, Effie, seemed appreciative; the girls giggled conspiratorially. Daerinnid had no doubt that it was faked modesty. The girls carried themselves in such as way that spoke of many experiences. "I would be honored to spend the night in an abode with three such lovelies as these."

Of the girls, the wife and mother spoke first, in an accent that was perfectly grating on the ears. "Aw, gur, iz'n off'n we's get viz'tors nayce as oo." Accustomed to such dialects, Daerinnid's mind quickly translated her words while preparing for what the daughters might have to say. As expected, their voices bore traces of their mother's.

"Ay, sur, 'tis a plezhur," bubbled Manny, bobbing her head as she spoke.

"A real 'onor," agreed Neesa, obviously the younger of the two. She batted her eyes at Daerinnid, who forced a flattered smile onto his face.

The roles of wife and children complete, the innkeeper wasted no time in seizing the opportunity. "You must, of course," he began, "be terribly hungry after such a long journey. We still have some pig on the spit. I'll have the wife cook it up in a jiffy."

To deny the offer would have been rude. Often such isolated inns practiced thievery from their patrons, so it was best to remain on the best of behavior.

"Your famous pig? Surely it's too great of a honor, too much trouble--"

"Nonsense!" bellowed the innkeeper. "For a guest such as you, mister…"

"Daerinnid," supplied Daerinnid, smiling.

"Yes, of course, Mr. Daerinnid. It is the least we can do for you."

"Then I would love to try your pig. I'm simply famished from walking all day!"

Daerinnid had no doubt that the pig would be terrible.

---

In the end, the pig proved not to be as terrible as predicted. The outer skin was blackened, as was the meat for a good while in, but the center of the beast's leg came close to being cooked properly. The meat was dry and rubbery and bore a powerful aftertaste of salt, doubtless from preservation process. Daerinnid suspected that there were no pigs at this inn, and all the meat came from the last time the innkeeper had gone to market. It tasted like that last trip had been over a month ago.

Despite the hospitality of the innkeeper and his family, Daerinnid still took care to lock his door and place a heavy book precariously balanced on the handle. As he gazed at his cozy room, his eyes alighted on a small table in the corner. Wasting no time, Daerinnid pulled the solid wooden structure to the bedside and began to remove objects from his pack. There were various pouches, meticulously labeled in tiny, neat handwriting, as well as a small mortar and pestle. Daerinnid placed the mortar on the table and sifted through the pouches, pulling out the ones he required.

With practiced skill, the required herbs were ground into a fine powder. Daerinnid added some water to the fine dust, forming a milky, thin liquid, with a touch of green in its color. He quickly drank the contents of the small bowl, wiping away the drop that escaped down his chin. At long last, he was able to relax, confidant that his potion would prevent the contents of his stomach from turning during the night. Daerinnid quietly cleaned his tools with some more water and placed everything back into his pack. Even though he felt he had been quite successful with the innkeeper, he still slipped his money pouch under his pillow, firmly gripped in his right hand. The pack went under the bed, opening facing towards the wall.

Finally, Daerinnid felt safe enough to risk sleep. He had spent much time guarding his room against invasion -- hopefully it would be enough to deter even the most determined of thieves. The room was too small and plain to conceal any secret passages (and even those Daerinnid would have found). The only entrance was the door; the room lacked even a window. And, of course, on the door handle rested a heavy book. In the event someone did try to enter, the book would drop, crashing loudly to the ground.

The last precaution was Daerinnid himself. Closing his eyes, he drifted lightly into slumber, content in the knowledge that he was a light sleeper.