Heroes of the New Day
Journal - Six
NOTE: These aren’t the only entries in the book… just the ones you’ll probably take note of.
910 AC, First Day of the Harvest Moon
Let it be written that today, by Avandra’s grace, I set out to change my life. I leave behind the timid victim that I was, and the so-called man who has kept me that way for 5 years. May he lie in his drunken stupor as I sell his valuables and set off on my own. I leave the town of Tragidor in my wake as I set out on a path of fighting monsters, of righting wrongs, and of stopping injustices against the weak. May Avandra guide my steps as I work to change the world for the better.
910 AC, 2nd day of the Harvest Moon’s waning
Today I found myself at an extravagant tent on the roadside today. It seemed odd that so massive a caravan could set up in an area without visible horses or wagons, but as the old saying goes, “a warrior should never question the ways of a wizard.” The being who greeted me at the door was… eccentric, to say the least. He appeared as a human wearing a suit that cost more than a kingdom. He smelled of a perfume that seemed to alternate what it smelled like whenever I thought I had decided what it actually was… orange, then vanilla, then pine nut… then something floral. I was fairly certain that he was one of those trickster beings, wearing the glamour of a man to mask his true nature. But I did not sense any hostility from him. In fact, he was very familiar with me, and after some conversation and a meal in one of the rooms of his tent (which seemed much larger on the inside than from the outside), he claimed to know me and asked if I’d come to retrieve what I’d left with him.
I told him I had no idea what he was talking about, yet when he produced a sword (from a pocket I did not see), I immediately knew that it was mine, and that I needed to reclaim it. He smiled as he handed it to me, saying that his debt had been paid. After that he proceeded to give me a very fair price for the wares I was selling, and I was able to purchase all the equipment I’d need for the coming journeys, including something he said was a new gnomish invention that could mechanically work as a sundial even when there was no sun. It made little sense to me, but he was a very persuasive salesman.
910 AC, new Wolf Moon
After a few weeks of travel, I happened upon a small hamlet that was experiencing troubles. As I have decided to devote my life to helping those who need it, this seemed like a perfect opportunity. They claimed that the local graveyard was being disturbed in the evenings. They suspected youths or brigands from the next township, so I took a job watching the graveyard overnight.
As it was the night of the new moon, and cloudy to boot, I knew I it would be dark. Thankfully I’ve always had good eyes, and the torches in the nearby chapel never burn down, so they cast a glow across the graveyard. This night was cold, and the recent rains meant that a fog was my companion much of the night.
Some time after the witching hour (if that gods-damned gnomish time-keeping device can be trusted), I heard noises coming from the graveyard. As I got up to investigate, though, it was not any youths from the next town, but something buried in the ground… digging its way UP. In a few moments, I was staring at the corpse of the butcher’s wife, who had died of food poisoning from some bad fish not a week prior. She stood there, staring at me with empty eyes, and I knew I had to draw my sword.
I’ve heard bards tell of a warrior’s bond with his sword, but the sensation I got when I first drew that blade for combat was something entirely different. I already felt like the blade was somehow “mine”, but as I faced off against this walking dead woman, it felt as if I was being watched by others who had wielded the blade in the past. The mists still surrounded us, but I nonetheless could feel their eyes upon me. I’ve never been one for performing in front of audiences, but I realized I did not have time for stage fright. I did my best to dispatch the butcher’s wife, though her claws did rake my flesh a few times before I could put her down for good. Curiously, I could feel my skin hardening like the steel of the blade as she struck me, making me tougher so that her claws did not hurt me as much.
After the butcher’s wife had been properly beheaded and burned, I could still feel the wounds upon my flesh: three of her talons had scraped each side of her face, making me feel somewhat like those jungle cats in the druid’s book of animals from distant lands. I knew that wounds from the walking dead were not to be taken lightly, so I hurried to the chapel to get the priest’s blessings upon them, lest I turn to something dark myself. What I walked-in on as I rushed to holy ground was at first impossible to understand.
The priest was fully awake, even at that ungodly hour of the night. Instead of the typical Raven Queen garb he normally wore, he wore robes that displayed empty feathers, instead of her normal iconography, and I saw a skeletal crow symbol upon his neck. I know now that he was wearing the symbols of a group called the Coraxians, a group of Ravenites who have decided to secretly embrace the ways of necromancy, but at the time I had no idea what I was looking at. Nevertheless, the priest looked at me and my sudden appearance with a mix of shock and horror. It was clear he did not intend for me to see him reading from the book which he had in front of him… which looked to be bound in some strange leather.
What happened next was perhaps the strangest of coincidences, or maybe it was divine intervention. I’m not entirely sure… but what really matters is that it happened.
The air above the priest opened up in a burst of radiant light, and a naked deva fell from the light and landed on top of him. This disrupted whatever chant he was engaged in, which caused dark mists to swirl around the book, then reach across to close the book. The deva, however, seemed very confused at first. He spoke in riddles, though perhaps he was just remembering how to speak. Regardless, his phrases as he repeatedly punched the priest in the face were somewhat catchy…
“A butcher was sad, he had lost his wife
The butcher was mad, so he sharpened his knife
The priest was a liar, who summoned up strife
So I was sent here to restart my life.”
He then beat the priest to unconsciousness, looked up at me, and asked if I had any bread to eat, as he was hungry… and also if perhaps I had any clothing to spare, as he felt improper being naked near a woman he barely knew. While I will not deny that his body had many… angelic-like features, I gave him my cloak without gawking too much (I hope). I then asked why he had beaten the priest. He said that the priest was secretly a necromancer, and the cause of what was disturbing the graveyard. “Course,” he said, “he obviously wasn’t a very GOOD necromancer yet, raising only one at a time. But then again, are they ever really good?” This deva seemed very prone to self-inflicted distractions.
I asked what his name was, and how he had appeared naked in a flash of light. He said that “this time around” his name felt like it should be something with an A… and after deciding against Aslan, Archon, and AngryBird, he decided it should be Ararial. As to the appearing out of thin air, he explained that deva reincarnated, and that’s what he had been doing. He guessed that whatever god controlled such things had decided that the necromancer needed a beating, so he had been thrown at the problem.
Ararial and I spent the next few hours discussing the situation in the graveyard. Eventually we decided to call the town’s sheriff, who happened to be a paladin of the Raven Queen (and the priest’s sister) to present what we’d discovered. Though she clearly was not happy with our news, she agreed that the evidence against her brother was fairly solid. She took him into custody and paid me for my work. She also poured holy water over my facial wounds, though it is likely they will still scar. As there were six of them, Ararial informed me that he would refer to me as “Six”, which he claimed was probably closer to my true name than whatever my mother had given me anyway. He’s a very strange creature, but I feel somehow responsible for him.
It is now mid-morning on the day after this graveyard ordeal, and I want nothing more than to collapse on a pile of straw in a common room at the inn. Ararial, on the other hand, appears full of energy, and has told me he intends to find a brew made “of finest mushroom vintage” to make me forget the hardships of last night. I fear that perhaps his mind did not make the transition to a new life well this time around… but he seems sincere enough, so I will not question him, if I can help it.
The next many entries detail a good 30 years of adventuring that Lady “Six” had with Ararial, who turned out to self-identify as a "triune cleric/paladin/avenger of three different deities of chance. The general sense you get is that Ararial is crazy, but somehow (almost accidentally) effective in combat. Six becomes an accomplished swordswoman, and they travel far and wide. Eventually she rescues a Purple Dragon Knight who is beset by a black dragon, and though he is horribly scarred by the dragon’s acid and crippled by its claws, she ends up falling in love with him (though there are a number of comically awkward scenes involving Ararial’s attempts to either help or hinder their relationship). Eventually Six settles down with the knight, whose name was Hack Scutter, and starts a family. She parts ways with Ararial, who says he needed to do some study in the woods anyway, but who also promises that he’ll see her again. Six theorizes that he’ll get into some kind of crazy trouble, but she has no doubt he’ll stumble into a solution for it as well. The journal ends some 50 years ago, when Six is pregnant with child, and she decides to hang her sword and armor up until some other soul comes by who needs it. She even muses, in Ararial-like fashion, that perhaps it will be someone who is “meant to have it”, though she admits that Ararial never did make it clear which divine force it was that was leading these destinies he spoke of.