Shadowlands

The road to success

Exploring the Cursed Land

The truth is that I needed to take my time to think. The past weeks have been awfully challenging, exhausting and somehow hard to consider as true. Since we returned to Whiteford, I have been spending my nights next to Goblin. My old friend has been listening to my dark stories, which haunt my sleep, torturing my mind till the morning.
When I arrived to Whiteford, I didn´t believe in the existence of creepy dark souled mages who have growing tentacles, nor huge warriors that can take damage for a whole army. My life was simple, close to nature.
It was also boring, which is why I left in the first place. My blood was boiling inside my veins. I needed a challenge, an adventure. I knew there was something special about me, I could even feel the magic within me awakening little by little. “I am meant for great things”, I thought, and so did the people around me, “why am I wasting my days in this place, in the middle of nowhere?”. So I left, with Goblin, my loyal donkey by my side, without realizing what destiny had kept for me.
Whiteford is a big city with lots of opportunities. I headed there without knowing what my feet were going to lead me to. I settled meeting famous gangs and making some money to survive. When I got bored of that way of living, I thought I should try going to the Guild. I overheard a hag once praising the adventurers who got missions from them. As I approached the Guild´s building, I saw a bunch of them walking in and out. There was no doubt; I had to be a part of this. Their shiny armors, sharp blades and pouches of gold, held tight in their hands, seemed fantastic. Their stance and strength was admirable, so without any hesitation I just walked in to test the waters.
I immediately met a group of them. Most of them were experienced, surely they all seemed wise. Except from Larien. That guy was far gone, but surprisingly generous and polite. He seemed to lack the sense of fear and had embraced the darkness inside him. I always shivered when I looked at his skinny face, with the glassy blue eyes. I haven´t seen him in a while though, since we returned from our first mission. I hope he is safe and sound, since I owe him some money for the token that he gave me to protect me from the taint.
So the members of the party filled me in about the Guild and what we are supposed to do, and we headed almost immediately to the Shadowlands.
I will never forget the first enemies that ran towards us, those big tree-like creatures that made the earth quake. I first saw my comrades in action at that time, and I felt both excited and scared of their abilities. Those people could murder me easily if they wanted to, but they could also save me at the hardest times. And they have proved the latter ever since.
The next battle that we fought was against some undead humans. Well, I guess I cannot call them humans anymore. Their rotten flesh and empty eyes showed that they were lost into the curse of the Shadowlands. I felt like throwing up, but stood strong. In the heat of the battle, I jumped onto one of them and pierced its decomposed body with my rapier. It was a smart move. One has to do anything they can in order to survive.
As our trip continued for several hours, I had started losing hope of finding something of value. But I was wrong, as I noticed a watchtower in the distance. We approached the old building, the only sign of civilization in a long time. An enormous hound was sleeping peacefully inside, guarding the front door. At that point it was only me, Ianhorn and Larien as I recall. I knew we wouldn´t be match for the devilish creature, so we moved back to a camp for one night, but returned as fast as we could with more comrades tagging along. Everyone seemed excited about finding the building and what could be hidden inside. Soon enough we attacked the creature that the Shadowlands had created.
Once again I felt disgusted by what my eyes were witnessing. This creature seemed like a combination of a cat and a dog in a strong body. It was filled with taint, and from its wounds we could see blood dripping, as well as green and black mucus. After it let its last breath, falling on the cold floor, we explored the place. Five younglings were crying in a pile of hay. Ianhorn was sure that they were evil, thus we had to kill them before they harmed anyone.
The tower was quite high. I climbed up to the top and felt the air on my face, while looking at the view below, almost trying to memorize it. Soon after equipping ourselves with anything of value, we moved downstairs. There, we found a circular room, full of human bones on the walls, hanging from the ceiling and on the floor. A corpse in a heavy armor was looking at us. It felt like it was guarding a large glass jar, witch contained some blue liquid and what was found out to be a brain. Later I learned that the corpse was that of a cursed white mage. A symbol on his chest revealed his nationality and religion.
The brain in the jar was preserved via necromantic rituals. It had abilities which let it control undead creatures. It is not too difficult to understand that this led to a fight against not only the mage, but several more skeletons, which kept resurrecting themselves and moving their trembling bones towards us. The brain kept pushing us away, until we found a way to kill it, after a lot of effort.
When we finished our search at the tower, we decided to head back to Whiteford. Since then I have been experiencing intense migraines, dizziness and an uneasy feeling. They haven´t stopped till this day. But at first I blamed it on the exhaust.
When I rested and found the strength to meet the party back at the Guild, Gwilras and Vaeno had the idea of going to a laboratory and doing some research there. Apparently, they had visited the place previously, but time had faded their detailed memories. Andreas, some engineer who was also keen on that lab, joined the party. I thought that was a mistake, taking an old man to a dangerous place like that, but in the end he proved himself useful, even if it was at the very end.
For the first time I witnessed Vaeno´s strength, as he managed to command an undead guardian to tell him information about the place. Of course they spoke in celestial, so I think that only Ianhorn could also understand. It wasn´t long after that conversation that we found some experiment subjects in tall glass jars, in some other room, and got attacked by a pale, blind creature with long claws. It was an easy win against it, and afterwards we realized we should leave those creatures alone, we climbed to the upper level.
I stared at the tall door in front of me, looking at the panel with the weird symbols, trying to understand the combination of the lock. Behind that door there was a powerful weapon against the Shadowlands, so we couldn´t fail after reaching this far. I tried over and over again, until, with a sudden click, my hand got stuck into a trap. Creatures guarding the door appeared out of nowhere and they threatened my life several times. Poisonous gas had started to suffocate me and Ianhorn, who had come close to help me pull my injured hand out, until Andreas gave us a potion to at least stop its action in our bodies. It wasn´t easy, but the party defeated the creatures, and I got free from the trap and, fortunately, healed.
I tried to unlock the door again, this time being more careful. My quick reflexes saved me from getting hurt again, and in the end I solved the password. The door opened and revealed to us a creature which I truly admire. It was made from wood and steel, with various carvings on it and a glass panel on its chest with a black gem in the middle. Erkki, a new man who had started following the party, managed to free the creature by breaking the glass that it was kept in, surrounded by this blue liquid, which seemed to have put it to sleep. The creature at first spoke celestial, while it had also knowledge of some old form of the dwarven language. It caught up on the common language quite quickly, while it was following us around. We went to the lower level of the lab and found a library and an empty room with a secret compartment. After Andreas and the rest had found what they were looking for, we left the place, destroying its entrance from the outside, so no one would find it again and wake up the experiment subjects, as, sadly, they did not seem to be able to fight against the Shadowlands due to their evil aura.
Three days ago we finally arrived back to Whiteford. I decided to take some days to rest, in case that helps with the migraines. I have to take care of Goblin and equip myself with safer tools and weapons, if I want to continue being an adventurer. I am also thinking of asking Ianhorn or Vaeno to teach me the celestial language. It seems that it might be useful in the future.
After these experiences, I have become more open minded about the existence and use of magic. This journey will enrich me with knowledge and power. I do fear the Shadowlands and the damage its taint does to creatures. I am indeed afraid of its concequences to our civilization. But I know that I can get stronger and gain the glory I am destined for.

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Belmikor Evesther

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