Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tales of a Failing Empire

Humanity does not live long enough to grasp the import of history. Your boundless optimism continues to drive you to new heights, which is impressive. But it blinds you to the far-reaching consequences of your quest for greatness. Perhaps you view the past as shackles to your amibitions, as the one foul smelling wastrel that can ruin your great revelry in living. Ware the past, and use it to guide the future. Can you not see the patterns of atrophy and extirpation that plague us all?
-Eruirdyn, elven scholar and explorer

Nefydd Foulkes watched as the town burned, the wooden walls finally catching fire as the outer buildings collapsed. His vantage point from the hill was uncontested, the corpses of several men lay about him. The crows circled above the conflagration, their patterns of ascent occasionally molested by a plains hawk. Some had left the aerial congregation and were now picking at some of the corpses. Nefydd's most recent employer, the merchant Cormac, was among them.

That's what comes of a swing at peaceful negotiations, Nefydd mused. It was a crossbow bolt that took the merchant in the throat. Definitely an ex-soldier or disgruntled militia. Cormac, you should've taken my advice and run.

Nefydd was a man of average build with dirty blonde hair that was just growing out of the close cropped stage. His nose was large, and broken at least once. It was his helm that really made him stand out, the visor had built in lenses made from one of the glassworks at Kelmaranse. Nefydd's vision was, he reckoned, one of his many shortfalls. But his swordsmanship was better than average, which, he thought, was one of the reasons why he was still standing and the others, alas, were not.

Another crucial factor to Nefydd's survival was standing 50 paces to his right. The dwarf Grijolhd, was a natural bender of magicks, known in the professional schools of magery as a sorcerer. His hair was black as a raven, and his beard was cut shorter than most dwarves, with striking streaks of grey. Despite his heritage, Grijolhd's physique was not impressive; a lanky upper body disproportionate to his muscular, stocky legs.

“If we were thriving 'adventurers,' we would loot these bastards and be done with it. But since the entire economy of the Bright Empire has taken a dive down a cracked garderobe, we may as well bugger that option,” Grijolhd spat on the scorched ground beside him, “Not to mention looting men who were driven to desparation sours my luminous disposition.”

“Grij, we never really looted, not even on our tomb runs. No sense in starting now,” Nefydd's smile was gone, his head turning back to observe the growing inferno. “It's finally coming apart. Even though I had the sickly anticipation, I couldn't quite grasp the dissolution.”

“Aye Nefydd, the breakdown boggled your charming pessimism eh? Let's get marching, before more pissed off townsfolk, er, former townsfolk show up.”

“I wonder if the 'enthusiasm' has spread.”

“Neffer, I wouldn't be surprised. I think anarchy on this level is its own special kind of madness. The kind that breeds plague.”

“Grij, let me pay my respects to Cormac before we go.”

“Aye lad, there is that.” Grijolhd spat again, this time hitting the forehead of a corpse. “While I pay mine,” he whispered.

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