Spellcraft and Contemplation
The rest of our journey around the mountains was quick and uneventful. The verdant hills rolled by as we rode our horses through them and then into a valley that divided the mountains. The Valley was warm and sheltered us from the winds that were beginning to blow. The path that we were on lead us close to a small river the trickled through lazily in a winding path. The soft babbling was almost impossible to hear over the galloping hooves of the horses.
When we exited the valley on the other side we were riding into the sunset. So we set up our camp once more. The same thing as the night before only this time we sat in near silence as we listened to Death play a few tunes on his lute. He played a few melodies giving mentioning that a few of them had names, such as “Stairway to Heaven” and “Call of Ktulu”. Morgul would scoff each time he named a song for us.
“What is the matter Elf? Does my playing not strike a chord with you?” Death Punned at him. To which he retreated to his tent and went to sleep as Death and I laughed together. Sometimes I found it hard to believe, that we were not traveling with a normal Orc, but one of The Murder. The strongest of the ancient Eleven warriors. This one was even bound to the actual cosmic force of Death. They seemed like a normal mortal when they spoke from their disguise. If it were not for the ever-present aura of dread that emanated from them, I do not believe that I could tell they were anything but what they wanted for me to see. The fact that they have gone unnoticed in the Garrison was astonishing.
“Death?” I asked.
“How may I be of assistance?” Death answered.
“How are you able to hide your aura from all of The Queen’s supporters?” I inquired.
“Well, you see they all know I have some level of power as a General of the Garrison. So I can’t hide all of my power or else they would be suspicious. So I hide the nature of my power and let some of my power flow freely. The warding magic I use is strong enough to make me appear as an incredibly gifted mage, but letting few see the depth of my true ability.” Death explained. “I can tell by the way you look at me that you are such an individual that can read that source, no doubt do to the source of your own powers.”
“Could you teach me how to use such a ward?” I questioned.
“Oh I was thinking about placing the ward on you personally each day, it would be much easier if you could place the wards yourself.” Death pondered and then ordered “Remove your shirt.”
“I am sorry, it did you say my shirt?” I responded.
“Yes, the ward must be placed on your chest.” They said as they began to trace a sigil onto my chest. “Hopefully this scar won’t interfere with the runework. This was from your second death is it not?” As They traced his finger across my skin, the flesh burned and began to bleed. “This might sting a little bit.” My death on the bridge by Orzov, the Orcish captain, had left a mark on me forever. Scarred by the failure of my boastfulness.
“I can deal with the pain.” I glowered through clenched teeth.
“That will not be necessary, this seems to just be a reaction to my aura coming into contact with yours.” Death explained. “Part of the territory of being me I suppose. A bard in The Queen’s service once described my touch as black and poisonous on a particularly victorious evening a few years back.” A joyful smile painted their face as they hummed an energetic tune while continuing to place the rune. My time in Death’s company has been teaching me many things about the complicated lives we all lead. Once more I found myself in contemplation on if this was the mortal Elven body they were infused with, part of their current Orcish disguise, or the most unlikely, was this the part of them that was made up of their cosmic entity?
“Alright, I will also place this on some parchment so that you will be able to place it on yourself later. Now place your hand over the wound and repeat after me.” They paused and then began to recite the incantation. “Praesidium de deprehendatur, exsurdo sphaerum.” As we said it the rune began to glow and pull the blood that was running down my torso into a circle around the mark. Once it was complete the magic sank into my skin.
“Am I suppose to feel any different?” I asked.
“If you did, that would mean we did something wrong. Your aura now matches your physical appearance. That of a small defenseless child.” Death explained.
“Well, I feel the same as I did.” I stated.
“Good, now off to bed. We will reach the capital tomorrow and then your training begins.” Death told.
Tomorrow was the day that I have been preparing for since Morgul brought myself and the others back. I would finally see what these Paladins stood for and how they were trained. I felt excited, but also I felt anxious. I couldn’t forget my purpose here. No matter what happens I could not engage with them without the others. I would be but a grain of sand in a mighty desert, vastly outnumbered against the forces of The Queen, Akor, and The Murder. While taking them all on at once seemed like the valiant thing to do, going down in a blaze of glory would be a sacrifice done only in vane.