1. Angels of Darkness

Angels of Darkness

To this day, there is a void, an ethereal place between worlds that held both horrors and wonders. This tenebrous place was known as the Nexus to the scholarly of the Old Empire. Those learned men and women knew of this place, none had breathed its air with their own lungs, but still they knew. Specimens of the creatures there were found there lined shelves in glass jars and as stuffed exhibits, and in the rare times that a creature would be found alive, it was studied and examined with both dread and wonder.

There was an unnamed young scholar who had found a way to bridge this world and the Nexus. He was a studious young man, full of ambition and courage, spending much of this time in the alone and dark places of the world, researching the creatures and beings that existed in that void. Long before Meridian 59 had been settled, this young man traveled through the shadow into that realm. He had a natural gift to be able to transgress the worlds at will, and this secret he hid from his peers, lest he be deemed heretical or in league with daemons.

During one such outing this ambitious young man came across a fallen being. Its skin was wrapped in a grey film, feeling not unlike a thin layer of leather. The being was dying; great wounds marred its body. The young man cradled this being, applying unguents and oils to the wounds, but to no avail. The being’s body, wracked with spasms, shook and lay still. The young man slowly peeled off this layer of grey second skin, and underneath was a woman, beautiful with raven colored hair and brown eyes. The look of serenity on her face did not make sense to the young scholar. He could not understand how one with such grievous wounds could have looked so peaceful in death. He gazed at her, and his heart ached.

The young man dug a grave for the young woman, and as he sweat into the ground, he began to weep at the sadness of her. How did she come to be like that? Why was she trapped in that skin-like substance? The last rock of the woman’s cairn was lain down, and the young man took a rest, his shirt soaked with perspiration. The sun had set, and the forest loomed about him, and he shivered. It was still hours till the last inn and the night would come quickly. The young scholar walked away from her grave, and as he passed the area that her body had laid, he saw an iron pole on the ground. It glittered with an oily blackness, and as he picked it up, it slowly conformed to fit his hand, the shaft moving slowly to fit his grip. This weapon felt good in his hands, and he decided to keep it as a memento of the fallen woman.

The road was silver in the moonlight that night, and the young man walked quickly, his footsteps falling hard on the dirt road. He saw through the skeletal branches of the trees a great harvest moon, shining down and making shadows on the road below. He shivered, and upped his pace. The young scholar felt the weight of the iron pole he carried, the death of the beautiful woman, his secret research, all of the despair and sadness in his life weighed heavy in his heart. The road seemed never ending, and the burden of the night’s events carried him low to the ground. There was a flapping noise that snapped the young man out of his reverie, and he looked to the sky. A shadow passed by the moon just then, and the scholar held the pole in front of him like a staff, ready to battle whatever being had come upon him in the gloom. Before him, swooping slowly down the road towards him was a great winged bird it seemed, floating in the air on great pinions, it spanned the road across, and the sound of those wings sent a shiver through him.

The dark, winged creature stopped in front of him, flapping slowly in the air .He held out his iron stave, and the wings flew around him quicker than he could react, and grasped him by the shoulders. He was thrown to the ground, screaming in agony as the wings affixed themselves to his flesh, bonding to it. He lay on the ground, sobbing, the despair of her death, of his secrets, of life was too much. He heard a voice in his mind softly whisper to him, a soothing voice of succor. “I know your pain, your despair. Come with me, for we shall walk eternal, and no one will ever hurt you again” The young scholar sobbed, great spasms of sadness wracking his body, he curled into a ball, and lay silent.

The hamlet lay quiet that night, and as the mother and daughter looked at the stars, a winged shape passed over the moon. “Look mother, an angel is flying in the sky.” “Hush now, we must go inside, it is cold here.” The mother shivered, and high in the air, an anguished wail could be heard, it trailed off against the inky blackness of the sky.

-Marcal, Master Bard to Duke Kalior.