*Boom* *Boom* *Boom*
The war drums continue to pound inside your head. The usual screams of soldiers fighting a war that shouldn’t even have happened continue to reverberate. It is the same nightmare that has plagued me for countless nights, and each night it visits me like an incessant puppy, only its in my head.
Dawn breaks yet again, and I find that climbing out of my bed gets harder to do each day. As I head down the stairs of the Bawling Gnome, the inn that I had stayed in or the night. The tavern part of the inn is usually quiet but today, the place seems to be bustling more than usual.
“Hey Deake, what's the news?” I ask the barkeep.
“Oh Scimmy, you are up and early today. Well today is the 1st day of the Rekindling and usually, folks get pretty excited for the festivities,” said Deake. The village folk here cutely refer to me as Scimmy, because of that one incident regarding a scimitar and a rogue goblin.
I take a seat at the stool closest to the bar and order up a meal and a drink.
“So what is this Rekindling festival all about?” you ask.
“It's pretty much a day of remembrance for when the fires first came down to Bandolia. We believe there is a god who is testing us and the fire is its blessing to our lands,” explained Deake as he continues to pull down wooden cups from the shelves behind the bar.
“Um Deake, isn’t the whole fire raining down on the country, scorched earth, walking hell part seems like its more of a calamity rather than a blessing”
“That’s what most folks thought at first as well, but the ground that was burnt ended up being more fertile than the land before, and it has helped increase our harvest each year if you don’t call that a blessing, I don’t know what else is.”
You take note how much you don’t care to debate semantics with Deake, and you ask him if he knows anything about the incidents at the valley up north.
“Can’t say I know much Scimmy, I hear that many who enter the valley don’t always come out, and those who do, are never quite the same. Perhaps you should talk to old Harold, he seems to be talking a lot about the valley recently.” Deake then proceeds to head to the back.
Deciding to finally finish your meal, you get up and place a few coins on the bar and head out to the village square.
Old Harold is a rather unique individual, he hails from a continent ravaged by fyre from the beyond outside of Dwendil, many refer to his race as Fyreborn. From the outside, he looks like any generic human, but Fyreborns are known to be immune to fires both natural and magical, and they have a special trait called Will O’ Fire, which is a form of mind magic that allows them to trick themselves into a higher mental state.
Harold is a carpenter by trade and as to where he had learned this trade, Harold would never stay on topic too long for you to find out. You enter his dingy store with a crooked sign labelled
“Harolds Wood Craftin”
The sign is missing a letter, and as you enter, you can see a wide variety of half worked logs, half-completed wooden furniture. Moving further in, you can hear chants and sounds of wood knocking on wood. You see a scrawny old man working on his workbench, huddled down and full of focus ignoring the surroundings.
Harold immediately stops working. He turns around to see you leaning on his doorway.
“ I don’t remember seeing anyone like you around here before,” he says before returning to his work.
“That’s because like you, I mostly like to keep to myself in my shack up on the hill. Look, Harold, I hear that you have been talking a lot about the incidents at the valley up north, mind if you can tell me more”.
Harold turns again to look at you with intent.
“Why do you want to know about the valley?. Most folks here think I am crazy, but what I saw there would make you go crazy. Are you sure you still want to know more?” Harold asks
“You mean you have been up in the valley?”
He begins to tell you about his journey to the north, near the valley side village of Choram, to which he was to meet an old friend. The village was empty, and it was as if the populace up and left one night. He then ventured into the valley, hoping to find clues as to why such a strange phenomenon occurred. The forest was odd, he could feel the flow of magic being distorted the further in he goes. Just as he was about to turn back, he tells of a dark shadow that approached him. He couldn’t react in time, and his mind was instantly corrupted by it.
For three days, his mind was taken over by the shadows that dwell in the forest. Harold explains how he hears the screams of people, how he sees visions of the falling Fyre on his country, and how the visions convinced him that he was the cause of it. Harold says that he could finally break free on the 4th day when he had managed to release his Will O’Fire to strengthen his mind. Only then could he stumble his way back here.
“But the lingering curse remains, every night, I see shifting shadows, and I don’t know what real anymore. I fear the shadows will take me in again, and this time, it might not let go so easily.”
Harold then stops his work, taking out a flash and taking a deep swig.
You wonder where to start, these were not new phenomenons. Your past self would have told you that it could be Daemonic Veils that has shrouded the valley. The current self, however, says you are no longer in the same shape to fight something on this scale. It might be better not to go at this alone, as you would have once done.
It’s time to find for old companions from your past. Old comrades from the war. Some of which may not even talk to you, and one of them a scorned lover.