I done a bit more
Hello stranger, you have found a book that charts a dark portion of my life. While there would be those that would seek to destroy this book, others might hope to read some dark passages, to re-enact the events that unfolded those many years ago. However, I will not say those deadly words, better for the words to remain truly forgotten. Then dear reader, you might be asking, why write this book? The answer is, as a warning, for both you, and the rest of world so that the events never happen again.
The following events take place after I left the pathfinders guild, I will not go too deeply into the reasons for leaving the guild, and perhaps you may find another book about this? What I can say is, one reason for leaving the guild, was magic. Magic is a strange thing, not everyone can use it, it's full of mystery, and some have tried to understand it better, others have tried to probe its hidden depths, but a small minority have tried to go one farther, tapping into the dark side of it, and using fear and illusion to create a cult. It is this cult, I had personal dealings with, and it took the only person I truly gave a damn about, a woman I cared deeply for.
I should start at the beginning. The old man wasn't too impressed by me leaving the pathfinders guild, it was originally his idea for me to join it, so I could be someone, but he cared little for me, and I felt he forced me into the guild as a way of getting rid of me. I wasn't impressed by him and he clearly couldn't stand me either. So when I came home and announced that I left the guild, he got so angry, he started to chuck things in my general direction, but most stuff missed as he was clearly drunk at the time, so I left him and the guild far behind.
But what the pathfinders guild taught me was invaluable, I had with me, a small hunting knife, a small bow, and a small rucksack, and some other odds and ends that I managed to get before I left. I didn't steal them, I had full intention of returning the items back one day. The wilderness became my new home, I perfected my aim with the bow, was able to get a killing shot about roughly 50 yards. I was able to survive on my wits, mostly keeping out of trouble from predators and bandits alike. There were some times I was forced to find a village or town, so I slip through them quietly, while quietly borrowing some items along my way. I'm not proud of doing that, but I had no home, I couldn't go back, so finding clothes and other essential items were crucial to my survival now.
It was during one night, while passing through a [village or town where the inn is located] I stumbled across something I should have left well alone, but my curiosity got the better of me. Some six sense told me something was wrong, the very air felt cold to the touch, but there was something else, I could not put my finger on it. I went to a window and peaked in, what I saw sent chills through my spine. Inside the room were six hooded figures around a circle, I could not hear what they were saying, then came a blinding flash, It knocked me backwards with surprise, I tripped over something and made a noise, that clearly alerted them, and next thing I knew, they were upon me.
What saved me was the innkeeper, this large figure of a man, also awakened by the noise. The cultists probably would have killed me, but there were others coming from the village, so the cultists bundled me inside the inn. The innkeeper was arguing with the cultist leader. I didn't hear much, but the innkeeper was clearly getting fed up with having a bunch of cultists at his inn. I heard the name of Dyllin Aleluia been mentioned, perhaps that the name of the innkeeper? I overheard some other bits and pieces, Exiled Circle, and the innkeeper changing the name to draw in the crowds. However, something hit me in the back of the head and I knew no more.
When I awoke, my hands were tied behind my back, and we where no longer in the inn, there was a figure around a small campfire, and the figure looked at me and pulled back the hood to reveal a face. My eyesight was still fairly blurred, but the figure came to me, and pushed a cup to my lips,
“Drink this,” she said “but don't talk, you are still in great danger, our leader hasn't decided what to do with you yet”
I drank the warm liquid and it soothed my pains, and my vision slowly returned. However, it also made me very sleepy, I closed my eyes and knew no more until I awake until the following day.
When I came too, I was tied, I overheard bits, but the voices where a bit too far for me to hear. I guess they where deciding what to do with me I guess, someone noticed me, and the figures approached, I tried to look up at them, but found it hard to move. One of the figures spoke in a dark tone, I don't remember much of what he said, I guess I was still drowsy from the liquid, which was clearly drugged. I saw a flash of a knife, my I pretty much knew this could be the end, but the woman who gave me the liquid stepped in front of me,
"He could be useful" he looks to be a tracker, and I suspect he might know a bit of magic."
That made the figure with the knife stop.
"Besides," she continued, "our days staying at that inn were numbered, we wouldn't have been able to stay there for much longer, the villagers were fearful of us, and sooner or later, would have ran us off. We should keep him alive for a bit longer, perhaps he could help us, as we are clearly lost in this wilderness."
This clearly made the figures think for a bit,
"OK" said another figure "We will keep him alive for now"
I was brought to my feet and was given precious instructions, one wrong move, and I will find the knife deep in my side. What made things even more tricky, was that every so often, I could hear shouting in the distance. So we were been tracked and followed, probably by the villagers? I'm not sure, but clearly they plucked up enough courage to chase these cultists out of the area and make sure they don't return.
We forced marched for several days, but our situation was clearly getting desperate, as the rations were getting smaller and smaller each day. I then told them, I could hunt, they didn't trust me at first, but with their rations been next to nothing, they cut my bounds and gave me my bow. I could have easy have given them the slip, I was very tempted to, but that lady stopped me somehow, I knew I wanted to be with her. So after a successful kill, I found the camp and prepared a meal. I guess they were surprised, but I told them I wanted to be with them, I told them a bit of myself, of the old man, my brief usage of magic, and my other skills and that I have no home what to speak of. I admit looking back at that day, I wonder if I could have changed things? I could have left them anytime I chose, even taking the woman with me if she wanted to come. Why did I stay with them? I couldn't answer that then, or now.
However, as I stayed with them, I got to know them a bit, the lady who saved my life, was called Virginia May. She was the daughter of a prosperous landowner, but Virginia didn't want to follow in her father's footsteps. He wasn't happy with having a girl taking over his wealth, her parents tried several times to have another child, hopping for a boy. However, after a couple of miscarriages, and the final miscarriage killing her mother, as the doctor did a terrible job of trying to remove the child from the womb. Ever since then, her father resented her, so she ran away from home at the tender age of 14. Somewhere she survived by stealing, but then one unsuccessful attempt landed her in trouble, for it was the pocket of the cult leader.
At first he was OK, she said, but later once he setup the cult, and started to explore the dark and hidden depths of magic. He became cold and heartless. There was no question of escape, she was bound to him, and it was through fear that stopped her trying to leave
Again I could have given them the slip, in my mind, something was tell me too, that they weren't to be trusted, but I ignored my instincts and remained with the cult. There were ten cultists, including Virginia, the others had no interest in me, but the cult leader always kept an eye on me, it was like he had eyes in the back of his head, as if he knew where I was and what I was doing. He sometimes could give me a cold stare that was meant to frighten and sometimes it did. It was clear he knew a great deal of magic, how much, that was made very clear to me one night when we were bedding down for the night. I can't remember how long we travelled, but many of the party couldn't take another step, so we made camp. However bandits saw our campfire and came to investigate, there were seven of them, three with bows drawn, and the other three had swords, the remaining one, clearly the leader, was either very brave or very foolish. The bandits wanted everything that we had, no questions, after a moment talking, the bandit leader face changed, and then came a sickly sweet smell of burning flesh, and the bandit leader was on fire, I looked at the cultist leader, he was staring right at the bandit leader with a expression that I would prefer to forget. A few minutes later nothing remained of the bandit leader save a small pile of ash. As for the other bandits, they fled as soon as their leader was in trouble. It was that day, I had a terrible glimpse of the dark magic these cultists were practicing.
A few days later, I woke up to find the cultists missing, all but Virginia, she noticed me, and came over to say, that the others needed to practice their dark arts, and wanted to be in a place that was in tune with the spirits and the elements and other correct alignments, whatever that meant. It did however give us a chance to talk more.
The cult wanted to find a place that they could called home, most were misfits, born with the ability to use magic, but had no sense of control, or what it did. In most cases they were run out of their respecting place of birth as they did something wrong, or the inhabitants became fearful of them. It was during their travels, they heard the name of Exiled Circle and that it was a place filled with dark energy, and with its deep back-story would be the perfect place to practice their arts. It wasn't anything like that. They found a run down inn that was clearly not doing very well, and ran by an innkeeper who made everything up. From Virginia's observation, The inn was losing a lot of money, many people weren't visiting the place, so the innkeeper whose name I heard before, Dyllin Aleluia, decided to change the name of the inn, and make it out that the inn has spirits, haunted, stuff like that. When the cult arrived there, they soon found that, there were no ghosts, no spirits, no dark magic or any magic alignment. Just nothing but a man who found some secret passages and decided to scare people out of their whit's.
"I guess he must have made a pretty penny from all that" Virginia said "but I guess he was also desperate too. It wasn't a bad place before we took it over, the innkeeper was in the process of expanding it and add new stuff. If we hadn't of moved in, I guess it would have been a nice place to stay for a few days. But when we did move in, a lot of the stuff was moved out, and just chucked outside, I guess you must have tripped over some of that?"
I guess so, I thought, it was dark at the time.
As for the cult leader, Virginia could tell me very little, or even his true name.
"He goes by many names, I've always called him master or sir, I think when I stood up for you, it was probably one of the few times I didn't" She chuckled "But I can't leave him, he would find me, where ever I go, I must stay with him until I die."
I tried my best to convince her, but she refused, so I stopped trying, clearly her mind was made up on the matter, which made me sad, as I think I have fallen in love with her.
It was evening by the time the cult members came back to the camp, I wrapped a blanket around Virginia, my arm stayed around her. I didn't notice the other cultists until it was too late. I heard this almighty growl, which made me both jump and frightened. Behind me was the cult leader, he clearly wasn't impressed by been so close to Virginia, he came straight for me and gave me a black eye as a reminder, after which he turned and slapped Virginia hard across the face. I knew he was dangerous, but I also knew I had to convince Virginia to leave with me and leave these cultists far behind, but alas she still refused to leave, saying he will find us.
However when the cult returned, they weren't alone, they were dragging someone behind them, his fist bound, I didn't recognise him at first, but then it hit me, he was one of the bandits who attacked us, how the heck did the cult find him and where was the rest of the group? He clearly had been beaten, and in a bad way, I wondered what the cult had in store for him? The following night I found out, when I heard screams in the distance, I was going to run to investigate, but Virginia stopped me.
"It's no use" she said "they are sacrificing him to appease their gods, interfering will only get you killed, you can't save him"
I looked iinto the distance with horror and soon realised that could have been my fate if Virginia hadn't saved me. I sat down, now I realised this cult were twisted to the core, but even then I couldn't leave unless I took Virginia with me.
I lost count of the days we have been travelling since we left Exiled Circle, I was growing wearily with each passing day. So were the rest of the party. The cult leader was clearly the one getting most annoyed, he started to groan and mumble, and many of the other cultists stayed well clear of him. The cult leader came to me, he said, unless we find a place for us to leave, my days would be very much numbered. I had a rough idea were we where, and soon we hit the coast. The roaring ocean greeted us, I haven't seen a see for a while, I've almost forgotten what it looked like.
"There!" shouted one of the cultists, while pointing to a far distance island, "that could be our new home"
I strained my eyes, it didn't look like much, not from this distance. I turned my head towards the cult leader, he looked like a thousand miles away. He stared at the island for a long time, but then he nodded and turned to me.
"I want you to investigate it, take Malcolm with you, scout out the island, and report your findings."
I knew I had no choice in the matter, so off I went. I suspect Malcolm was tagging along to keep an eye on me, so that I didn't escape. The first job was getting too the island, that proved to be a bit tricky, there was a rickety rope bridge connecting the main land to the island, but anyone with a bit of sense would realise it wasn't safe. Malcolm tried to persuade me to go across, but I refused, he got angry, but I told him, if I go across and the bridge snaps, what then? Then we will lose any hope of getting onto the island. I needed some more rope to help secure the rope bridge, I knew the cult had some, but would it be enough? I asked Malcolm to go back and fetch some, he clearly wasn't happy, but I told him unless I secure this bridge with more rope, its not going to hold. In the end he went back to get some more, shortly later he came back, relieved that I was still there and he had one other cultist with him.
My Pathfinder skills came in handy once more, but the cult leader came up to investigate, he clearly wasn't happy with all the delays and wanted me to scout the islander sooner rather then later. It was getting dark by the time I managed to make the bridge secure. I nervously stepped one foot on the bridge, frightened it wouldn't hold, but it did and I was able to cross fine. As it was getting late, the order was given to setup camp and scout out our new home the following day.
The cult leader awakened me early, he was clearly irritated that we weren't on the island sooner, and ordered me to scout the island now, I did as I was told. Malcolm tagged along like before, so we crossed the rope bridge and explored the island for the first time. During our search of the island, we found a ruined estate, very run down and clearly very old by the looks of it. So we weren't the first people to find this island, I thought, Possibly the ruin could be partially rebuilt, then wooden shacks for the rest of us. Malcolm returned from his own investigations, and said
"This island would do, needs a name I think, but I'm sure our leader will come up with something adequate."
We returned to the group to report our findings, several hours later we were all on the island and preparing it to make it our home. The cult leader stood apart from the others, it looked to me he was deep in thought and deciding what to do. After a long time we came to the middle of our temporary, camp and said in a loud and clear voice,
"This island will be known from now on as the Isles of Shadows!"
The name filled me with dread but I knew I wouldn't have a say, so I remained silent. I lost count of the days and nights we worked building shacks and making the island our home, I was so tired in the evenings, as soon as I hit my bunk, I fell right asleep. Then I was awakened in the early hours of the morning to carry on working, the only one who didn't do anything was the cult leader, she just stood around barking orders at me and everyone else.
We finally built a few shacks, the cult leader clearly had the biggest, Virginia also slept with him, for the others, their shacks were smaller, until it came to me who had no shack at all, just some blankets. I don’t think they considered me worthy of having a shack of my own, but soon that changed when the bad weather was setting in. the first winter on the island hit us all with surprise, we managed to find some food and started to grow some crops, I also managed to find some wild [boar or something similar] wasn't easy getting the animals across the rope bridge but we did it. However, the bad weather killed everything apart from a couple of [animal name]. Many of the cultists started to complain, we couldn't go on like this. It was decided that some would steal food from a [town or village] of the 11 of us, five went out to plunder, the remaining would stay behind and repair what they could.
My problem is, now, I'm going to struggle carrying on without a detailed map, so right now, I'm completely stuck without one, once I see the map I can revise the story, but I can't really do much more without one
but anyway, comments welcome