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The game

Aellara’s story – chapter 1

I’m being tested by Iomedae, I’m sure of it. There can’t be any other reason for what’s happened to me.

Borag and I were travelling with Father Mufti from our village to Chi, about 5 weeks travel. Things were going fine until Borag and I woke up in one of the villages along the way, with no memory of what happened to us between heading in to the village and then waking up.

We found Father Mufti had been tortured and killed, and hung up on a makeshift cross of sorts. There were 5 men in this village who were cannibals, eating the body parts of another man. They told us that they had been ‘created’ by ‘the Creator’ only a few days ago, and were told by him to wait for us to wake up and then we would lead them to him.

I buried the Father. And then the nightmare really began. We discovered that we couldn’t eat the food or water that we were used to. Blood and fresh meat was a preferable option now. And we could see in the dark. And when dawn came, we found that the sunlight weakened us.

We didn’t know what was going on. The men told us that the Creator told them we would lead them to him. So they followed us as we continued on to Chi.

Borag seemed quite happy to embrace this darkness that had befallen us, but I struggled. There was no way I could accept that we should eat fresh meat and drink fresh blood. I fought the urge for a long time, but it only got worse as time went on. The hunger….

Anyway, we quickly worked out that travelling at night and resting during the day was a much better option than the alternative. So we continued on to Chi. Eventually we found a merchant and his guards. Borag had one mission – buy a horse from them. But instead he and our 5 companions killed them when his negotiations failed. The companions turned out to be monsters, killing the men in horrible ways. Maybe we’re monsters now too.

I’m so disappointed in him. I’ve known him for years, and never expected him to so easily and quickly become a bandit. I don’t know what to do about him. Handing him in to the authorities for his crimes will certainly not provide justice, and will only serve to incriminate the rest of us in his crime, and that won’t be helpful either. We need to find out who this Creator is, and bring HIM to justice.

The teachings of Iomedae tells us to seek and destroy the source of evil, and avoid focusing too much on its symptoms. Right now, Borag and I are symptoms of the evil that this Creator has brought about, and we need to focus on finding him.

Continuing on to Chi, I continued to struggle against the hunger, but despite ordering Borag to tie me up, eventually I snapped – and I snapped the ropes. Borag had slaughtered a cow nearby, and I was overcome with some kind of blood lust. After drinking the cow’s blood, I felt much better. I realised that for me to survive and search for a cure to this darkness, I needed to at least embrace some of it. I told Borag I would accept cow’s blood in future.

Eventually we got to Chi, travelling with the cart, horses and supplies. I told Borag we needed to hand the cart and its belongings in to the authorities, just in case someone might have known the merchant he killed. It’s the right thing to do.

And it’s a good thing this is what we did. Turns out the first city guards we came upon recognised it. We told them the story that we found the cart and horses abandoned, and the bodies of 3 men nearby, seemingly killed by wild animals. We buried the bodies and brought the cart and goods here. The guards believed us, and told us who we needed to see in Chi. We followed their instructions, handed over the cart to the proper authorities, and told them the story of what happened. They told us to not leave town while they sent some guards to retrieve the bodies and investigate.

While looking for an inn, a town guard told us about the church of Iomedae executing a witch ‘before the next bell’. We sent the companions to the inn with enough gold to secure some rooms for a week, while we went to the execution.

It was abhorrent. The high priest to Iomedae was a fanatic, and there’s just something about his fervour that doesn’t seem right to me. The ‘witch’ was a young girl, who looked like she’d been tortured before being hung, decapitated, and then burned. The fanaticism of the priest running the execution, and the fact it was a little girl, didn’t feel right. And there was just something about what he was saying as he exhorted the crowd that seemed… off. I can’t put my finger on it, but this isn’t the practice of Iomedae’s teachings that Father Mufti taught me.

We tried to work out what to do next. I was originally going to take us to the church and tell them what happened, and seek a cure. But I don’t think this priest would offer a cure, only an execution. That’s not the path we should follow.

Our attempt to find answers from a library failed. Apparently only authorised people are allowed access to the really interesting material, and we weren’t authorised.

We were told there are wizards on the hill. We’ll go visit them tomorrow, and see if we can find some help. Maybe they’ll be more open minded.

For a few moments tonight, I thought about taking up prostitution. We have very little money – I have none. But then I realised that this job choice would bring me and Iomedae dishonour, so I threw away that thought. I’ll find other ways of earning money that will bring me honour.

I mentioned to Borag that we’re going to need cow’s blood from the local butcher. He’ll sort it out.

Iomedae is testing me. There can be no other explanation for this.