THE TEARS OF GRENTH
On this day my life will end!
May it be by the hands of my Master, or by my own, should I no longer be able to endure the pain – let it be upon The Gods to decide.
Three days – so I have been told within the walls of the monastery of Shing Shea – a man can live without water.
Thirty days without food.
I am resting here for going on sixty days straight!
My blood is thick like syrup!
My tongue is swollen to almost choking me!
But I am not disturbed.
I do not care!
Today is the day!
My life will end!
My Master will set it forth upon presenting the `Tears Of Grenth´ to me!
Then it will be the God of Death’s decision, once I drank them.
The neurotoxin that is known by many people and is respected by all Necromancers that either turns a worthy apprentice into a true child of Grenth – or kills him or her in the process.
Should I endure that test of ultimate devotion, I shall be reborn and make my name known in the farthest reaches of the world!
I shed my old name and – as it is common within the ranks of the Necromancers – chose a new one!
A strong, fearful name that will plant terror into the hearts of my enemies and command respect from my comrades!
My Master did not raise a troubled white brow when I called out the name of my choosing but instead wrote it down into the Book Of The Dead.
That may be because my name will leave no doubt about the woe that shall betide the evil ones and perps that seek to confront me.
Four years it is now that he took me with him at the age of only twelve yet today it feels like only yesterday, when the Crimson Skulls came upon our small village at the Haiju Lagoon on the third day of Mikan.
In the middle of the night they came and fell upon us sleeping villagers and our property.
Those who resisted were slain, the rest of us were rounded up whilst the pirates took our money and our food stocks.
Apparently they had intended to sell us into slavery in the slums of Kaineng or to far northern Elona.
On top of this, the infamous pirate queen Miki. Miki The Skull Spirit.
Standing in bright moonlight a little off our burning village together with her First Officer.
Even from a distance one could have felt her malicious joy and arrogance.
And henceforth it started…
One second: nothing – then a shade stood between them and blades flashed in the moonlight, disappearing as fast as they appeared.
One of the Corsairs roared a warning but the shade already had dissolved in a puff and reappeared in the thick of them. I knew that he had to be an Assassin for his movements were too quick for the human eye to catch up.
The bodies of Miki, her First Officer and the first batch of pirates were still in the process of slumping to the ground, when the rest of the gang finally set in motion and tore into the Assassin who backwheeled into a defensive ready stance.
Us intimidated fisherpeople watching, gave the brave Assassin only seconds of lifetime remaining.
In the blazing reflections of our burning village his armor looked liked liquid gold as the biggest Warrior I ever set my eyes on tore into the horde´s flank.
Just one swipe with his shield sent three pirates aloft like petals in an autumn breeze and one of them landed screaming in the middle of our burning and collapsing house.
That triggered it with me.
The view of the burning, collapsing house that I called home since birth and the shouts and then panicked shrieks of the Crimson Skull trapped inside.
A kind of perverted malicious joy, mixed with righteous fury took the better part of me and I sensed an unimaginably old and distant entity starting to watch me with keen interest, while I summed up the village.
The Assassin and the Warrior wrecked havoc amongst the Crimson Skulls and where the first of the team applied small but deadly cuts with his daggers, the Warrior´s sword lobbed off heads and limbs with his mighty steel.
Someplace apart from their comrades, two more scoundrels stood and thanks to the bow in his hands, I tagged one as a Ranger that was frustratingly trying to get a clear shot on the Warrior.
At that time, I had no idea about the how, but I felt a strange energy emanating from the Ranger, like he was summoning a better kind of marksmanship by unnatural means.
But the other pirate – being me a stranger of such things at that time – seethed more danger to me.
Behind the green haze that began to cloud my field of vision, I felt the frontier to the Spiritrealm fade among him.
The Warrior and the Assassin kept an always-watchful eye on their surroundings, but were at a loss about what these two were doing.
I knew, I had to act!
Like all village dwellers I had been huddled up on the floor but soon as cramps that felt like they could shatter my bones and pulp my intestines flung me to my legs, even my panicked parents could give restrains to me no more.
My face wracked and distorted by pain, I bowed backwards and knew what to do.
I casted out my arms and energies unknown to me at that time left my fingertips and hurled themselves unto the Crimson Skulls.
The sorcery of the Ranger and the unknown pirate – nowadays I do know that I was facing a `Longbow´ and a `Spirit Lord´ - was denied and I had bought the Warrior and the Assassin precious time.
Or rather turned the Skull´s attention on myself!
All around me, the villagers broke into full flight, while the Longbow began to aim at me and the Spirit Lord began to cast his vile magic all anew.
Then the archers head seemed to explode and a pricy-looking arrow with golden, white and blue fletching stuck out of the remains of his skull.
His own missile hit the ground next to his collapsing body.
Splattered with blood, the Ritualist swerved aside, then he was struck down by something that hit him in the back fair and square.
The biggest predacious feline I had ever set my eyes upon!
In the dark I took it for a tiger at first but even in the blazes of our still-burning village, I made out that it indeed had a darkly-black furring.
A Melandru Stalker as I do know nowadays.
One massive jaw took the Ritualist´s skull among its teeth and a big jolt of the stalker´s head snapped the Spirit Lord´s neck.
Fifty strides afar, standing tall and regal on the hill that made out our village´s western frontier, a female Ranger lowered her bow and took measure of me curiously.
Her hair was even redder than the still-raging flames.
She turned her head and shouted a name at something I first had taken as a shadow or stone.
The shadow careened about.
And I met my Master for the first time.
Even today, I do remember how our eyes made contact.
Less than one heartbeat it was – and my heart was pounding fast at that time – but two green eyes flashed in what I had mistaken for a lifeless object.
This `Shadow´ was indeed clad in robes that seemed to be made rather of darkness itself rather than real clothing and a hand, dressed in a massive dragon´s-maw-like gauntlet, reached up to cast back the robes hood.
While the Ranger-Girl started to pick off new victims, that person paced-off towards me down the hill, seeming mentally impervious to the pirate raid raging around him.
But the white-haired man was ignorant to nothing and nobody!
Almost as high as himself, a staff seemed to appear in his right hand out of thin air and seemingly like a dancer or artisan, he flung that weapon into the direction of the last surviving pirates.
Only once or twice he indeed did rise into the air to cast magic and it was only then, when I saw black magic energies leave his weapon and his fingertips.
Despite my young age, I saw that he was somewhat smaller than me, once he came to a standstill in front of me.
Yet he radiated of an energy that made me feel puny and insignificant.
And even yet – to my ultimate surprise – he took measure of me with an air of contentment and nodded with a proud smile.
“I go by the name of Norazul Lifetaker. T´is my conviction that the two of us should do some talking!”
I was so rattled, either by his reedy, rasping voice or his guise that I neither took notice of his cruel face, his black pointy teeth, his red tattoos or the obsidian-black orbs he had as eyes.
I was so rattled that I didn´t recognize the end of the pirate´s attack.
It was three days later that I sided with my Master and left my hometown and my former life.
It had taken him so long to asses me, have talks with my parents and, together with his companions, the Ranger Tari Calenardhon, the Warrior Ilias The Dragon Eye and the Assassin Anar Shadowdagger, to set the reconstruction of my hometown in motion.
My old life ended, my new life began.
Which is to end today again.
During the next four years, I passed every challenge that my Master had put me up against with flying colors.
Even the legendary Head Mistress Kuju and her grandchildren Su and Reng Ku I have contented.
Even more pride do I feel now that I know that my Master is kin to them!
What the Monastery could offer me as knowledge I learned and I indulged myself into the teachings of other Head Masters and Mistresses, too.
Now I stand ready!
For there is nothing more that I could be taught and there is no other apprentice to be my equal!
In no time – I know that! – I shall even surpass Master Lifetaker!
And from that day on, the world will be at my disposal!
Grenth will honor my as his best fighter!
In Elona and Tyria they shall know my name and write hero´s songs and epic tales about me!
One day, the throne of Head Mistress Kuju will be mine to claim!
It is time!
I feel my Master approaching and the magic locks that seal off my meditation chamber from the rest of the Necromancer´s Great Crypt grow weaker.
I shall not feel fear, for I AM fear reincarnated!
I shall not die, for Grenth no longer knows my name.
I shall be resurrected, for Grenth will welcome me as his strongest one.