Out of Time

A Nightmare by Azariel

Installment #1
Selestra 22nd

Midday sun filters through the gossamer curtains across my suite’s window as I pen this entry. I would have thought I was free from any harm in this haven of the Light and Dark alike. It seems I am not; at least, not from Visions of death and destruction. I awoke, covered in freezing sweat, buried in torn sheets and twisted bedding. I was tossing and turning, and I don’t doubt that for a second.

The Festival of Ra was enough to assuage all of our worries and troubles. Overkill won in a drinking contest against Tyvernos, Indaris, Xerx’ses, and Asher. Indaris wooed Nara, both grateful to be alive after the harrowing experience of torture. In fact, all of us were grateful to be alive, each having left in turn to the dark…

I sang, danced, and played my Cello, followed by harrowingly bad attempts at playing the Guitarra. I offered renditions of many different ballads and tales taught to me by my Father, including The Three Wisemen, Davedei slays Gorias, The Garb of King Nebukudnezzar, and the perennial favorite, Romulo and Julianne, the story of an Elven warrior that falls hopelessly in love with the daughter of the Dwarven King, during the Great War. Indaris and Nara wept in each other’s arms at the bittersweet romantic tragedy.

Well after midnight I made my way to bed, exhausted by the night’s excitement – little did I know I would not be rested this night.

This is the vision, no, the nightmare I had.

Rogtilda glided into the prison-like docks of Oceanside, a Western Empire city that I hadn’t visited in decades. It had changed, as do most things after that much time, but so had I. I was no longer the apprentice bard traveling with his Father. I was now a master of the arcane, well on my way to apprenticeship Alchemy. In the Crow’s Nest, I surveyed the town, full of introspection and hope… Or so I assume.

Dreams are so funny that way. They are so jumpy and fragmented that to make any sense of them you have to put yourself in your own shoes, and walk through the events.

We docked, and were immediately assaulted by a funny little man, ragged and begging for alms. I approached him, though my perspective suddenly changed, as if I towered his full height above him. My voice came out as me, but it sounded fuller, more resonant. The little man did not cower or run from this size-changing elf, but instead he stood his ground, and asked again.

‘Ooh, you are rich. Preeze, Speah a coin for me. A Ronery beggah. I need to feed my famiry,’ he asked, barely intelligible through his gap-toothed grin.

‘Here, one gold coin for you,’ I said, tossing him a coin fished out of my pouch… but it wasn’t my hand I saw, it was Xerx’ses hairy mitt. As soon as I saw it, I shrank back to my regular size, and my pink fleshy hand replaced the leathery, hairy Minotaur’s. ‘Uh… um… Here, take a hundred.’ I said, flustered, as I fished a handful of gold out for him.

‘Ooh, you are very generous. Preeze, come wif me. I feed you fried rice and grirred beef!’ With that, he loped lopsided off the docks. We followed, to see this supposed family. With each step, I grew, until I returned to the nightmarish height of a Minotaur. I felt irritation at the short, little man, for taking us away from our godly cause, but that warred with my need to help those in need. A pang for Luur’na and all that we could have had together threatened to strangle me, but I pushed it back down. This family wasn’t our family, nor were these children mine.

When we caught up to the … I’ll just call him “Chen” because I don’t want to keep describing him when I refer to him. Ok. So, when we caught up to Chen, he motioned happily at a pile of driftwood, and a woman made of straw propped on a rock. I knew I had been had, or this was a very disturbed man. Either way, we needed to leave. I hefted the bone club, and threatened Chen to leave us be, and to not bother us again. He seemed not to notice a Minotaur waving a giant bone, and continued to invite us inside. Overkill spoke up, worried we had made a mistake or had been duped, and he led us, running faster than I had ever seen him go before, back to Rogtilda.

We were met by a group of pompous-looking officials. As we approached, Indaris, Asher, and Azariel all complained about my use of racial slurs, and force, on an ‘Obviously’ disturbed man, but I knew the truth. He had lured us there to waylay us, and beyond that he made me hope for a happy ending with Lura.

I shrank back to my normal height, and continued to berate Xerx’ses… and now that I think about it, it doesn’t make any sense. My mind had me arguing with me about a decision I made, and I was actively participating in both sides of the argument. Strange. Though, this is good for me to learn diplomacy, I guess. It’s beneficial to see the world from both sides, to better know how to reach an answer both sides understand.

‘How may I serve you?’ I asked as we approached.

‘Ah, yes. We are here to search for rats, and plague,’ the lead man said in reply.

I have lived a century in the Western Empire, and I don’t remember a single ‘plague scare’ as it were. When magic is so abundant it’s rarely any problem at all, especially when you’re in the Old Kingdom Frontier. With apprentice Wizards, Summoners, and Diabolists galore to slave out from the Guild in White Ash to quell an outbreak, even if you had one it would end relatively quickly. I was wary, but after some argument, we allowed the group onto the ship for an inspection, as long as they were all accompanied by a member of the ship’s crew.

Disappointment etched the puffy, paltry politician’s face, but he set the search underway, guiding a pack of rodential dogs they called Chiwawas. They found the rats that we hadn’t removed after Ratel’s attack. They proclaimed they needed to have our belongings strewn across the docks for them to make sure there was no plague upon us, which made no sense to Asher, who knows more about the gooeyness than any of us. From his Biological standpoint, he did not think it possible to determine plague without magic, at least not with anything that was currently in existence – he started to ramble about something called a micro-scope, though what that is I can only imagine… it sounded like a tiny looking glass to me.

After a very long discussion, and some trumped up charges, it was clear that the tiny bit of power this man had over the docks had gone to his head. We acquiesced, and Indaris noticed that our food had become magical after the inspection. Not surprising. We threw it all out, and headed to the markets to replenish our stores, and prepare our journey to Shandala and home.

The regular fanatic mobs pushed at us as we went through the town. Word traveled fast that CrIsis was facing off against the rude Di Dock Master and his pu possy.

We reached the grain merchant, and were assaulted by ‘fan’s. No sooner had Asher gone out into the street to meet up with them had a magic net dropped upon the rest of us! A real attack, while we were distracted by the CrIssians. Panic struck, and more people were hurt by the stampede than would have been hit in a crossfire.

Around the street, on the rooftops surrounding the market, appeared over a dozen Gargoyles. The lead one, a particularly ugly brute, yelled over the din of screams and shouts, “I’m gonna get me some CrIsis!” Well that’s what I think it said. My Demonic doesn’t cover expletives… and it added a bunch of them in there.

Then, they dove.

>>An excerpt from his Journal, written on Selestra 22nd in the 23rd Year of Emperor Voelkian Itomas II, by Azariel, Apprentice Alchemist. Acolyte of Osiris and the Lady Luck.<<

First Picture Credit: Fashion Spot
2ndPicture Credit: Of Dice and Men
3rd Picture Credit: France Revisited
4th Picture Credit: Shaw.Ca
5thPicture Credit: John Silver @ Fine Art America
6th Picture Credit: Cooltext.com

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