Blackfire - Thou shalt suffer!
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A Witch's Curse - by Hathcyn

seven score years later and the service still isn't any better. I remember when the elite of the Empire's adventures frequented Heron's Tavern. Now they've gone to more exotic places and Heron's is just a townie bar. That suits me fine, as the townies know to give me a wide berth.

Finally, my drink I have half a mind to slit the waitress's throat. When the Bloodmoon ruled this land the locals had and sense of urgency. Years without the rule of discipline have made them lazy and rude.

After a few drinks, my mind drifts back to bygone days. There was a time when I walked the path of righteousness. What a fool I was. Serving gods that were at best indifferent and at worst diabolical. In those days I had the good looks and pleasant disposition to match my flowery name Hathcyn. It makes me laugh to think of it. Oh well, everyone should be allowed a decade of stupidity in a century and a half of life.

One day my crusader's zeal brought me to A Forgotten Villadom. I had heard rumors that all was not right with the sleepy coastal town. Using the skills that I had learned in my youth, when stealth and theft were my trade, I moved unnoticed through the town. While my investigations uncovered nothing, I had a growing sense of unease.

My search took me to a burned out building. As I entered a horrible apparition appeared. She spoke of murder at the hands of a spiteful mob and a wicked curse. The phantom disappeared and I search the house for further clues.

When I left the ruin the world had turned upside down. Fires burned throughout the town, the buildings were sacked and the moon was covered with a blood red haze. My blood froze as I heard the howl of a wolf. Louder and more wicked than any wolf's howl that I had heard.

Almost immediately I came upon the source of the howl. Standing before me was a monster, half man and halfwolf covered in fur with razor sharp teeth yet standing half upright like a man. I had believed that werewolves were creatures of legend.

The wolf caught my scent and slowly turned it's eyes towards me. I warded myself against harm. It leaped for my throat. In mid leap I brought the power of the gods upon it and made it suffer for it's evil . It dropped to the ground writhing in pain. I brought my mace down upon it's head for what I thought was the death blow. However the curse had granted the beast inhuman constitution and it struck back at me ripping through my armor with it's claws and opening a gash in my leg.

A death struggled followed. My wards against harm and evil prevented the werewolf from landing a fatal blow. My spells and mace blows wore the creature down until finally a spell broke the power of the curse and it's evil was dispelled.

I found a darken alley and collapsed exhausted. My heart rate had finally calmed when I heard the faint sound of metal striking stone.

Cautiously I moved towards the sounds of battle. I found a young rogue locked in battle with a monstrous dog. I shielded my eyes as the dog belched fire at the rogue. The rogue's speed saved him. He brought his shield up in time to block most of it's fire and responded by driving his sword into the hounds gaping mouth.

I approached the rogue with palms open to indicate friendship. Laying my hands on him I healed his wounds.

He spoke first "Thanks for the healing monk".

" No thanks needed"

" Any idea what has happened here?" he asked.

" A curse has been laid upon this town."

The rogue nodded slowly. He spoke "Me and my shipmates were here to …… visit and found the town much different from last we were here".

I inspected the rogue. He was tall, heavily tattooed and dressed in the garb popular among the pirate crews. I had my suspicions about the purpose of his visit.

"Were be your shipmates?" I questioned.

He grinned. "Fled or dead this was not the reception that we were expecting."

I smiled and offered my hand.

"Hathcyn"

"Lafay, nice to meet you."

We shook hands.

‘Were do you go from here?" Lafay questioned.

I answered "I can not remove the curse, for the villagers brought it upon themselves, so I will try to cleanse the village of this evil."

"Hmm sounds like fun would you like a hand?" offered Lafay while smiling impish.

Fun indeed! But I was happy for the assistance.

"Yes, thank you for your offer."

I made a wise choice. Although the rogue was young he was an experienced fighter. There is good reason that rogues and monks are the preferred adventuring duo. The monk, protected by the rogue, can concentrate on her spells and maximize their effectiveness. The rogue, secure in the knowledge that monk will heal his wounds, can fight with a reckless abandon that would otherwise not be possible. The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts.

Lafay and I fought for hours. Everything in the town that was once ordinary and harmless had turned deadly and malicious. We battled many more werecreatures and hellhounds. There was a ghoul, an iron golem, a banshee and a mighty skeletal undead beast. Even a child's doll turned and attacked us.

We found some survivors in the inn and the local priest cowering in his church but for the most part we were too late to save the town's citizens.

Finally, the howls of the hounds were quitted. We stood before the house that had housed the town's mayor. Suspiciously, the large manor house was free from harm.

Lafay frowned, "We have fought for many hours yet the sun does not rise".

Nodding I responded "Yea, it is a strong curse".

" Shall we enter and ask the owner why his house remains untouched? That door will not stand my shoulder for long." spoke Lafay confidently.

I responded with a smirk on my face, " We could try the key I removed from the mayor's desk before the curse was cast".

Lafay raised his eyebrow, " hmm not an action I would expect from one following your path".

"Old habits die hard"

Lafay chuckled.

As a precaution I warded Lafay against harm as we entered. A white glowing aura surrounded his body. The first floor was empty and quit. We moved down to the basement. I winced as Lafay's heavy footfalls made the stairs creak.

Barely had we entered the ground floor when out of the shadows a vampire pounced from the shadows. Once again the big pirate's speed saved him. He was able to twist and throw the Vampire off him before it sank it's fangs into it's jugular.

Still Lafay had suffered substantial wounds. I quickly healed him but the beast attacked him with spells he could not defend himself from. It was soon apparent that my reserves of energy would not be enough.

I took a chance. Without even telling Lafay I fled up the stairs and out of the manor house. With the last of my mana I summoned Lafay.

He turned to me "about time".

He smiled.

Both he and I looked at each other and then turned to look at the open door. With out a word we acted. Lafay used his shoulder to slam the door shut. Almost instantaneously I shoved the key into the door and closed the lock. Shortly after, we heard a thud against the door.

Lafay guarded, busily drinking healing potions, while I rested. Through powerful magic, granted by the gods, I managed to communicate with my cabal over great distances and to explain my situation and say goodbye to my fellow cabal members in case the worst happened.

Flick responded "you must dispel the Vampire's wards Hathcyn and tell the rogue to bash the monster with the hilt of his weapon. Then you should be able to defeat the creature".

I thanked Flick for the advice, woke up and passed the instructions to Lafay.

"Shall we wait for the Vampire to come out, Lafay, or go in after him"

"Let us finish what we started", he said grimly.

We prepared for battle. I slipped the key in the lock and silently turned it. I will never forget what followed. Lafay raised his sword overhead and charged into the house. He let out a mighty warcry as he sighted the Vampire. However, instead of bringing his sword down for an overhead slash the pirate changed his swing at the last second and brought the hilt of his weapon upon the head of the monster. The room resonated with the crack of the bloodsucker's skull.

I said the magic words "An Ort". The glowing white aura around the Vampire faded. Truly our luck had turned.

The monster never got the momentum back. I poured every once of goodness I had at the monster punishing it for it's evil. Lafay was relentless. He hacked away at the creature mercilessly. The creature finally collapsed.

I had heard that you can kill a Vampire by driving a stake through it's heart or cutting off it's head. We did both. No point in taking any chances.

We found a magic belt and a key on the corpse. The belt turned out to offer protection from both magical and physical attack. I wear it to this day. The key fit a gate that led to nowhere. I wondered as the sun first peaked over the horizon if our adventure was finished?

 

I never did find out.

Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus
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