It's frightening how ones life can come crashing down so quickly. Up until my 75th Birthday, all was well . My job as a tribal huntsman kept me fit and capable in a fight. My parents and sister were supportive of all I did and my father even taught me the finer points of archery and stealth aswell as some...less well known tricks. Then there was my beloved Serifa Miro who was my shining beacon. I thought she could make anything right with just a few words. And then there was my best friend, Arcos Meren. He was my partner in crime when it came to 'lightening the mood' of the tribes through the use of harmless pranks. Arcos was the tribes appretice mage of 10 years (though he had the skill of a master sorcerer) which helped immeasurably in this 'entertainment' though his origins are a mystery. What can I say? Sometimes singing and dancing just aren't enough though I did have to step in several times to prevent Arcos going too far. That should have been my first hint, but I chose to ignore it.
All was well until 'that day'. In hindsight we should have seen it coming but it started small. Crops mysteriously dying, game becoming a little harder to find, tree starting to wilt. It all at first seemed relatively harmless. 'Just a bad month for nature' the elders said. They say 'experience is the best master'. Hmph didn't help them much. But then I suppose what could prepare them? It all happened so fast. One minute we were trying to understand the cause of the dying wildlife, the next a mysterious and foul fog descended on the village. Most of the villagers started collapsing, spasmming and dying in the first seconds. To make matters worse, decaying corpses of animals came charging out of the forest. Before we even had time to react the corpses of the villagers began to rise up and attack those few still standing. I don't know what saved me from that fog but at that point it didn't matter. All that mattered was saving trying to save as many people as possible. I ordered those left standing onto the rooftops in the hopes they would be safe for a while. I in the meantime used the rooftops to run toward my family hut praying that they escaped. As I did though I tried to help as many as I could who were alive firing arrows into the corpses an having the living people make for higher ground. Alas I could not save everyone. Some were surrounded by too many corpses. Some were even trying to reason with them. To call back the souls of their loved ones. They all met the same fate. Tella the apothocary, Villan the craftsman, little Casvol who would be turning 8 the next day. I saw them and many others being overwhelmed and consumed by those they once called friends.
Despite stopping to help those I could I managed to reach our hut in good time. What happened next will forever haunt me. I saw 2 corpses hunched over something. When I entered they turned to me, they charged. I didn't even think. I shot an arrow into each of their heads. As they fell into the light I saw who I had just killed, or rekilled depending on your perspective. it was my parents and to make matters worse I saw what they were hunched over. The unturned body of my little sister her eyes still wide open in fear. And all over her body were areas where chunks of flesh had been bitten off. To this day I wonder if I could have saved her if I had just ignored the others and gone straight for my house. It's not like it made a difference in the end.
Realising there was nothing else I could do and clinging onto the hope of finding Serifa, I closed the eyes of my sister and parents and jumped onto the roof of the house and then onto the adjacent building. I turned around lit 4 arrows on fire and shot them into the house. I couldn't save them, the least I could do was give them a funeral. Muttering a prayer for their souls under my breath I took off in the direction of Serifas home which was just a little further on at the edge of the village. As I approached the building. The first thing I noticed was the distinct lack of activity around her house. It was as if the corpses were deliberately ignoring it even avoiding it altogether. Even when I landed at her door the corpses simply looked at me hungrily but did nothing else.
As opened the door with my bow at the ready and an arrow nocked. I moved toward the bedroom. As I approached the door, I could hear someone, a male, talking on the other side. Without pause I kicked the door open and aimed my bow. What I saw though almost made me drop it. There kneeling on the floor facing me, was my beloved. I could tell she had turned because of the paler, more hollowed skin and the dead eyes. But the other being in the room was what was worse. There sitting at the edge of the bed with his hand stroking her head, was none other than the one I called a brother.
'So you survived. You never did know when to give up.' The figure sneered. 'Arcos' I breathed out, still in shock 'What are you doing?! What's happening ?!'. To my fury at this point he laughed 'Still so slow.' He mocked 'Well allow me to spell it out for you.' He got up but I still kept my arrow trained on him. 'There is only one constant in this world. Power controls all. I have a talent in magic matched by no other. I could cause a plague to the entire continent given enough timeI have more power than every insignificant being in this village so why should I not rule over them? But I knew that they would never bow to me. Serifa was proof of that. No matter my advances she still only looked to you. So I turned to other methods. If I could not control them while they had free will, I would simply thad their free will away permeatly. I had to start small, diappearing into the forest to test on animals and plants but as you can see from my new pet,' he gestures at Serifa only adding to my fury 'I eventually succeeded. And soon you will join my armies ranks. Either willingly or otherwise.' And as he said this a ball of fire appeared in his hand.
I continued to aim my bow trying to process everything. Trying to find some understanding of why this was happening and why him of all people was responsible. 'You killed everyone just so you could command their bodies?' I snarled 'Don't be so small minded.' He dismissed 'this is only the beginning. Once I have honed my skills enough I will move on to conquer the entire land. I can see it now. Ranks of thralls all bending to my will. No one telling me how to live my life or what limits I should put on my powers. If will be glorious!' At that point I understood that my friend was truely gone. And with that realisation, I tightened my bow allowed the built up fury to well within me and growled out 'You took from me my home, my family, my friends and my love. I won't let you take ANYTHING else from me!' And with that I released the arrow but not before channeling energy into it. It streaked across the room lightning arcing from it as it flew. It struck Arcos in the arm that held the fireball blowing it clean offs it exploded in a flash of lightning. He screamed and I walked towards him 'You think your the only one with gifts? I have been able to harness natures power for my own for the past year and my father taught me how to work as one with it!' I pulled out my short sword 'Now join the dead!' But before I could bring the blade down I saw movement in the corner of my eye. I jumped back avoiding the tackle from Serifa. I turn back to Arcos but he started to fade. As he faded all I heard was 'This isn't over. I shall leave you two to get reacquainted'. And he was gone.
By this point Serifa had lunged again. Sadly this time since I was distracted by Arcos disappearance, she succeeded and we both went crashing to the floor. I desperately struggled against her as she tried to tear out my throat. I tried to reach for my sword but it had been knocked out of reach. Thinking back I am not sure I could have used it even if I had managed to grab it. Despite her current state she was still the one I promised myself to. And as I was about to accept fate I felt something channeling through my hands. Next thing I know, Serifa is blown off me by a dazzling light with a hole in her chest. It slowly starts to burn her away and as it does I swore I could hear her say 'Thank You' and smile.
At that point the stored emotions of the day came crashing down on me. I screamed, I hit the wall, I threw breakable objects, anything to channel my anger and sorrow. By the time I was finished the bedroom was a mess. I looked out of the window and saw there was no one there. Living or dead. I can only assume a Arcos pulled everything back after the scare I gave home from incinerating his arm. I'll never really know. Searching the village confirmed the worst of my fears. As far as I could see, I was the only survivor. Everyone else was either undead and gone or just dead. I knew I couldn't stay there, so I packed what supplies I could and fled to the forest. That night I slept in the small cove my father used to train me in. Only he and I knew about it and it was where I would spend most of the next 15 years.
The next day I set out for the closest village to warn them of the impending attack. Obviously the shock of losing his arm had worn off Arcos quickly because by the time I got there, all that was left were burning buildings and corpses just like my village. Now I realised just how much of a threat he was and just how powerless I was to stop it. This could not go on and on that day I vowed no matter what it took I would eradicate the threat posed by Arcos myself if I had to.
From that day onward I dedicated myself to hunting undead and training in combat and magic. With little other that some gold to my name I had to self learn the magic I had access to though for some reason I could never recreate the lightning arrow. I became quite adept at slaying zombies from the shadows, healing myself and staying alive in general. I even learnt to control the power that freed Serifa. But i realised it wasn't enough. By the time 5 years had passed almost all of Silvia had been corrupted and undead roamed. The only good news was that others had taken notice of the blight and a guild had been set up to try and combat the blight. They are well trained but even one not well versed in tactics, such as I, can tell they are barely holding the hoard back. Only just keeping them contained.
10 years have passed since the full takeover and nothing has changed. The blight is becoming more powerful. The guild barely contains them, and I am no closer to figuring out how to defeat Arcos or even how to find the bastard. At least not until now. After another normal day I cam back to my cove to find something unusual. Next to my sleeping role was a raven with a note on its neck. Still puzzling over how anyone found the cove in the first place I removed to from the raven and read the note. It was from a person called Andres who was apparently putting a team together to combat an as yet undisclosed threat. We were all to gather in Ashwood fells (he left a map though I still don't know how he knew I would need one) to go through some mission to test our abilities. Honestly I would have burned the message because I have my own issues but one thing stopped me. This man Anders promised information as to Arcos whereabouts and promised to help defeat him. Now at this point I was both interested in the offer and concerned about how this man knew so much. Nonetheless with no other leads I resigned myself to this mans service. For now at least.
And so I find myself sitting infront of a Dwarf, two dragonbornes, a human, a half elf and two other elves. While I am curious to know how this will go, I will never forget my vow. And I will never forgot what brought me here. My blind trust for a friend who ended up destroying everything I held dear. I won't make that same mistake again. I will complete this quest either because of this team, or in spite of it.