Darius was the last one alive. His friends lay at his feet. The scent of their blood reached his nostrils. Why had any of them thought this was a good idea? Galindon has smiled at the townsfolk and assured them that the night raids by undead creatures would cease. Darius had been travelling with their troupe for about six months now. Together they had achieved things that none thought were possible alone. They had managed to end the blood curse on Galindon’s family. They had slain the giant that killed Elska’s parents. They had even managed to recover Edric’s lost family heirloom from a band of monstrous hyena people. Now, when the group agreed to save Darius’ hometown, they had all died fighting for his cause. He looked upon the face of the creature who slew his friends. The skeletal face that peaked behind the tattered midnight blue robes just laughed.
Darius could feel his wounds bleeding under his shirt. Another few blows and he would soon join his friends in the afterlife, though he never did quite believe in a life after death. Elska would often extol the virtue of her god, the Platinum Dragon. She told him how she had once dreamed of mountains in the sky. She believed that her god dwelled there and that she would join him when she died. She claimed her power came from her holy devotion, however, Darius had always chalked that up a false correlation. Both he and Edric could wield magic and neither had much interest in gods. He tried to remember the temple that existed in his hometown. The temple that was less than 50 miles away. What god did they worship? He could scarcely remember. He recalled vaguely the vocal sermons in the town square. They spoke of a divine light, from what he could recall.
Dust escaped the monster’s lips as it rasped out an incantation. Darius felt his wounds begin to fester in places as if Death herself was clawing at his wounds. Darius attempted to launch a ball of fire at the skeletal figure but the wounds seemed to make moving or concentrating difficult. The fire soared past the creature. Darius recalled other battles where he was sure that their battle would end. In those times, Edric always had the right tune and words to inspire the group to victory. Edric was always the glue of the group. When the group stumbled into the local tavern, the first round of drinks was always on Edric. Edric was a dwarf who understood the camaraderie that came with imbibing. Once, he and Edric had spent the whole night attempting to drink the other under the table. Edric may have the constitution of a dwarf but Darius was stubborn, and a dreadful cheat. Darius was testing a new spell of his that could transform ale into water. It wasn’t quite successful but it managed to water down Darius’ drink with Edric realising. Edric shared Darius lack of belief in the gods. Edric had been raised in his home temple since he was a child. This instilled in him a deep apathy for religion. However, perhaps his past was why he was always happy to be the middleman in Darius and Elska’s discussions of religion.
The skeletal figure continued to taunt him. Darius clung to the memory of his friends as he felt himself begin to lose consciousness. Galindon rarely spoke on his feelings of death. He seemed to revel in lively things as a coping mechanism for the inevitability of death. They all figured that Galindon, being an elf, would be the last to die. He still had centuries of life ahead of him. He was a foolish elf, chasing glory and thinking himself invincible. However, as Galindon bled out moments before, Darius witnessed his last words. He spoke of an eternal forest with the most regal buildings he could imagine. He spoke an elvish name that Darius didn’t understand. Galindon had taken Darius under his wing when the two had first met. They bonded over their common elven heritage. Darius’ ears were no as long as Galindon’s. Galindon suggested that Darius might be half-elven. The fact was certainly possible, Darius had never known his father. Now, perhaps he never would. That was the last thing that Darius thought before he died.
Darius opened his eyes to discover that he was in a place altogether different than the dank dungeon from earlier. He was in what seemed to be the main hall of a castle. A giant fire burned inside the fireplace. Notably, as he approached, the fire looked to be entirely grey. The fire seemed to lack heat.
‘Take a seat, Darius,’ a soothing voice spoke.
He turned to find a pale white woman who sat in an elegant grey chair. She had long, pitch black hair. As he took a seat beside her, he saw that her black dress seemed to be made of feathers.
‘Now, I’ve been watching you for some time,’ she told him while manifesting a glass of dark liquid which she offered.
He took the glass and had a sip. He got the distinct flavour of aged red wine. He sampled the drink as she continued to talk.
‘I can give you the power to save your friends. I can return you to life,’ she began.
‘I’m dead?’ he interjected.
‘Such is life. Now, I can reverse that and in exchange, you will be my agent of change in the world,’ she offered.
He didn’t have to ponder the offer for long.
‘Naturally,’ he seemed to blurt out.
His tongue seemed to have a mind of its own. Perhaps he should have refused the wine.
Whether he believed what had transpired, he did indeed return to life. He reached for his companions. As he clutched them in quick succession, he heard the mumblings of life. He walked towards the skeletal figure and placed his hand on the creature’s chest. It crumbled to dust. He would insist later to his companions that all that had transpired was merely a twist of good fate. The figure was slain by a lucky blow, they were returned to life by a captured servant of the local temple. Privately, he began to hear the commands of his new mistress as she called him to his new purpose. His purpose as her Angel of Death.
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