“It is time
to go my brother; these people have sheltered us for too long as it is.”
At the sound of Jason’s voice I started. I had been lying on the ground
outside our home, just staring at the stars. Staring, and trying to bury my
worries. It didn’t work; it never worked. Yet I keep trying, hoping that one
day these dark times would be naught but memory.
I knew he was right, and I wanted to go
too. Something inside me though, craved the safety I had known here, and
would never know again.
“I know we must go Jason,” I said quietly,
“but I am reluctant to leave. This has been home for several years now.”
Sighing to myself, I came to a decision.
“We will leave at first light. We must head south to Beckett’s Pass, where
Sergeant McCall hid our equipment so many years ago. We will need it in the
From there we would head east, across the
Javidan Plains. Far to the east, sandwiched between the Gauri Highlands and
the Sakeri Valley lay the Wastes. Somewhere in those Creator-forsaken lands
we would find Darius’ amulet. I did not tell any of my companions, not even
my wife how I knew it would be there. After Darius’ death before the
Cataclysm, Jamsheed and I realized there was no way Darius would regain his
memory before the Ceyah attacked. Without his memories and insights, Darius
could not be the general we needed.
And so we sent his amulet into hiding.
Entrusting both the amulet and Darius’ defense to Eben Baruch, we sent him
off to the wastes until we had the time necessary to awaken him and his
I spent that night in restless slumber,
plagued by dreams I could not understand. I saw Darius standing next to Eben
in a small village surrounded by a forest.
We cannot stay here milord, these
rhaksha beasts are getting worse. We must warn the other villages.
I know well your opinion my friend, but
these people must be trained to defend themselves in case the rhaksha attack
while we’re gone. I cannot just abandon them when they need my help.
Though I heard no words, I knew exactly
what they were saying, but not what they were talking about. Rhaksha?
What in the name of the Creator are Rhaksha?
With my wife being as spiritual as she was,
I was forced to admit to myself that this could be a vision. But of the
future? The past? I could not worry about it now, but I knew the answer
would be important.
I hoped it was not a vision of the present.
There were no forests anywhere near the Wastes. Not only that, but while I
entrusted Eben with the amulet’s care, I was frightened of the advice he
might give. He was a member of the Council through and through, and may
manage to talk Darius into inaction. I would just have to hope for the best,
carry on with my plans, and put my worries behind me.
At daybreak the next morning we set out
southward. On newly acquired horses laden with food, water, and extra
clothing we rode towards the supply cache set up by the man we had known as
“Pop” for several years, but who we now knew to be Sergeant McCall, a
Royalist soldier assigned to protect us until we regained our memories. In
the cache would be all the equipment we would need to travel across Khaldun,
including weapons, armor, and protective clothing. With wards and charms
worked into them by the greatest mages of the Royalist faction, this
equipment should have been more than enough to keep us safe. Of course,
seeing as how we were newly awakened from the Great Dream, I knew that just
because we should have been safe didn’t mean we actually would be.
The cache was roughly 20 miles outside of
town, and took an entire day to ride there at a leisurely pace. Buried under
a large oak tree we would find four crates, one for each of us.
Unfortunately since it had taken all day to get there, we could not see to
dig as night came. So we set camp. Drawing out thick blankets to protect
ourselves from the elements, I set watch for the night. Caitlynn would have
the first watch, so that she could have uninterrupted sleep. She got cranky
when awakened in the middle of the night, and since she had quite a temper,
this was just the easiest solution. Since Rachel’s clerical skills required
much more rest and concentration than either myself or Jason, she would take
the last watch, so that she would also have uninterrupted sleep. Jason would
take the second watch, while I took the third watch myself. This way I could
awaken my wife with a kiss without an audience.
With Caitlynn watching over us, I felt safe
going to sleep. Unfortunately my mind did not agree and I again had another
strange dream….or vision. I saw a strangely shaped man who closely resembled
these filthy beasts surrounding him, though they only came up to his waist.
With grey skin, long arms whose claws nearly touched the ground, and a
canine mouth filled with sharp teeth, these beasts were obviously feral,
though they almost seemed to worship the man-thing.
Paying close attention to this strange
vision, I noticed gold amulets on the floor and wondered what they were for.
All of a sudden one of the little beasts fell with a green flash I somehow
knew was from a ranger arrow. At the same time Darius came running in, sword
flashing, eviscerating the horrible little beasts. Blood seemed to follow
his sword like a red streak hanging in the air. Dozens of armed men wearing
a mix of leather and chain armors quickly followed him in, their own swords
slashing and stabbing. Against these numbers even the large man-thing fell
quickly, facing a half-company of men and still accounting for half of them
before falling to their numbers.
The man-thing’s death broke the order of
the remaining beasts and they leaped at the nearest man, and mostly were run
through though not without casualties. When the last of the beasts fell,
there were roughly two dozen of the littering the ground in pieces,
including the man-thing. Lying among them were also a full dozen or more of
It was a costly victory my friend, but
Amon Koth has been defeated. With that Eben finally entered the room,
walking over to Darius.
Yes it was, but finally the people can
sleep soundly, knowing that River’s End is free of the Rhaksha threat.
River’s End?, I thought, that’s
nowhere near the Wastes! Eben and I are going to have a talk when I find
Indeed, River’s End was nearly 300 miles
further south from where we were now, nestled between the Crystal River that
sheltered the Haroun, and the Heartland Forrest to the north.
With that thought I awoke from my dream in
a cold sweat, but full of purpose. I knew we could not wait until morning to
get our gear; we would have to get it in the dark.
Darius was waiting.