He stopped, pausing to catch his breath, leaning on the wooden spear. Raising his head once again, he looked around him. Vultures had already begun to circle the air, and the thick scent of death was strong in his nostrils. Knowing the urgency of his mission, he set back into a steady run, the wooden spear tucked under his arm. Once again, he stopped to catch his breath, and gazed at the sight around him. From the hill upon which he stood he could see much more than before. Crimson red streaked the grass on the far away hills, giving it a dull sheen. More carrion birds had appeared, a dark cloud in the sky. Running his hand along the spear, and then along the gaping wound in his side, he took a deep breath. "Not... too... late..." he muttered, his eyes falling to rest on a small stone villa. "Not... too... late..." he repeated. Breaking into a run, he raced toward the villa. Suddenly, he stopped. Falling to his knees, he began to sob. Hours passed, yet he knelt there, sobbing, until the tears came no more. "Never... again..." he mouthed, the words dieing on his lips. He raised his head, staring at the spear. Not his spear, but the one protruding from the pale chest of his only love. Once again, hours passed, as he stared at the impaled corpse. Then, raising his head, and looking into the sky, he changed. His face turned to stone, his heart to ice. Pulling the spear from the chest of his once beloved, he hefted the spear in his hand. He eyed it critically, and dropped his own, the wooden hunting spear. Placing the bronze tipped spear under his arm, he turned his back to the villa, and walked, not knowing where his feet would take him. Only once he began to look back, and only once did he stop himself, and he said quietly, "Never again."
Kivlan awoke with a start. Sweat trickled down his cheek. Or was it a tear? Brushing it away, he stood up from bed, and walked to the mirror. Gazing at himself, he silently noted the change that had overcome. Where he was once was muscular, he was now guant and thin. That had not effected his strength though. The health looked drained from his face, and his skin had an ashen grey color. His cheeks, nose, and lips were all much thinner too. Such is the price to pay, he said to himself. I am now much stronger than I have ever been. Dressing, he eyed the bronze tipped spear propped against his bed. Once finished dressing, he grabbed it and shoved it through a loop in his belt. He walked outside, into the bright sunlight. Squinting at the sun, he realized it was later than he believed. He began to walk down the wide cobble stone road, gazing at his surroundings. Iridine was as large and more magnificant than the stories said. Yet, that did not concern him. Nothing did. Only death. He killed, cooly, and calmly, without the slightest hint of emotion. Just as he lived. Fingering the spear latched to his belt, he continued on. He passed by an inn, the Stone Toga, and into the harbor area. Not caring where his feet took him he continued. Noticing a large crowd gathered around a fountain in the harbor, he stopped.
"What's happening here?" Kivlan asked in a near whisper voice.
"We are chasing someone." A small slender man replied. Kivlan nodded, and stood back quietly, listening to the scene. As a young woman described the whereabouts of the person the crowd was chasing, Kivlan stood there, not moving, or even blinking.
"Are you? I will assist then." Kivlan said, mainting the emotionless voice. Suddenly, a small woman spoke up. She smelled of roses, as if she had rolled in them. The smell was overpowering, enough to make a person seek a more open space.
"Why are you so emotionless?" She said in a high pitched, whining voice. Kivlan slowly shifted her gaze toward her. He raised an eyebrow, then let it drop.
"I am what I am. Do you envy me?" The woman frowned, and whispered to her small, slender companion. The young woman continued the description of the crowds prey.
"What is this man?" Kivlan whispered.
"It's Maran." A tall, muscular man, wearing the medallion of a constable answered. "Maran, slaughterer of children, heretic, and commiter of treason."
"I see. And you are hunting him?" Kivlan said in his monotone, near silent voice.
"Yes!" Squealed the short, woman who reeked of roses. "We will hunt him and kill him."
"He has done nothing to you personally. Why should we help this woman? What is our reward?" Kivlan questioned quietly. Again, the rosey woman frowned and whispered to her companion.
"Have you no soul?" She whispered. For the first time in years, Kivlan smiled. However, it was not a smile of joy, but of pain... A grim smile, conveying only hatred.
"No," He said quielty. "Perhaps I'll steal yours." With this, the rose woman burst into a tantrum of anger, and whispered madly to her companion. Kivlan chuckled inwardly, enjoying the hate shooting from the rose womans eyes. Perhaps Iridine may be useful to me after all... Kivlan once again eyed the scene, not showing the slightest hint of emotion. The rose woman and her companion were exchanging angry words back and forth until suddenly the companion screamed.
"By Ereal! He's attacking Shade!" Kivlan raised an eyebrow to the obvious madmn, still showing not a sliver of emotion.
"Am I? I apologize, I did not notice."
"Narius, shut yer ijit trap before I slam my stave down your throat." The tall, muscular constable said.
"Pompeii, stay out of this." Narius said while glaring angrily at Kivlan. Kivlan shifted his gaze from Narius to Shade, eyeing both with the usual lack of emotion. He then turned to face the young woman, giving the mission to hunt down this "Maran".
"I will help you." Kivlan whispered. "Perhaps this will fill the void." Suddenly, the void shook. Memories flashed. Spears...Blood...Blood everywhere! Death...death...WHY!? Maritia... Then it was still. The memories faded. Kivlan shifted his gaze to Pompeii.
Kivlan... Kivlan... I have heard the cry of your soul... You would give yourself to me... You are mine! MINE!!!!
Panting, Kivlan awoke. Sitting up, he searched widly around the room with his usual calm, blank eyes, but found nothing. Leaning forward, he caught his breath. I am going mad. Smiling grimly, he recalled the events of his past month in Iridine. The failed hunt for Maran. Joining of the constables. Joining of the legions... Investigating a murder... Suddenly his breath caught. The murder... Kivlan laid down, remembering with crystal clarity...
Remember... events... that day... the murder...
"This will be your first real job, recruits!" Pompeii said eagerly. "We will be investigating the murder of a priest in the forum, near the temple of Ereal." Murder... blood... death... spears... No... a symbol...where is the symbol...
"By Ereal!" One of the recruits said, gazing at the dead priests sprawled on the cobblestones. Blood had smeared the area, covering the nearby walls... Blood...the blood... The wall... that wall... a symbol... moons... death... the pain... the blood... The answer! The symbol!
Opening his eyes, Kivlan once again sat up, blinking from the memories which flashed through his minds eye. He knew the voice now. He did not know why he had been chosen, but he knew the voice. Kivlan smiled grimly, a smile of pain, a smile lacking emotion. "We will see," he whispered. "We will see." Standing and dressing, he made his way to the Stone Toga Inn. An interesting day was before him, and an even more interesting night...
Kivlan eyed the scene, and the traveller that had entered the room. The traveller was quite pale, the flesh hanging from his bones, and quite thin. As if a sickness had overcome him. Much like Kivlan, yet...not. Gazing at the sky, Kivlan listened to the story of the traveller. Time passed quickly, and night soon set in. Suddenly, the clatter of hooves were heard outside the inn, and a gush of wind slammed the door shut.
"Ereal! What was that?" A young man asked warily.
"Wind. A mounted soldier." Kivlan responded in his normal, quiet monotone. People were no used to his lack of emotion. He had been accepted here, as strange as people thought he was. Pompeii nodded in agreement.
"I don't know..." Another young man said. "It seemed... not right."
"I see." Kivlan whispered. Just as he said that, the door slammed open, and the neigh of a horse was heard. However, this time, the sound was above the inn. Rain pounded the inn, and the night darkened even more. The crowd burst into madness, murmering of the unnatural darkness... Of the powers that could be felt in the air...
"Damnation, I'm going to investigate." Pompeii muttered. "Who's coming with me?"
"I will." Kivlan whispered. Some others stepped forward, and all followed Pompeii. Stepping outside, into the fury of the storm, a voice cracked through the minds of the party like a whip, dropping people to their knees, infurating others.
COME TO ME POMPEII... I KNOW YOU SEEK ME... I AM AT A GREAT PLACE OF POWER ON THIS GREAT NIGHT... COME POMPEII! COME!
Pompeii stood, and screamed, shaking his fist at the heavans. "I know you're their Payne! And you're dead! You don't exist! Get out of my damned head!" Pompeii let out a final growl, and gestured to the party.
"Follow me, I know where to find them." He growled, readying his quarterstave. Him and the party set off running down the wet streets, toward the harbor part of town.
Meanwhile, Kivlan stood nearby, in the pouring rain, unaffected by the voice or rain. However, the urge... the call... did not fade away. Something tugged at him, something strong. He set off in the direction of Pompeii and the party.
"This is the place." Pompeii said, gesturing to a fallen down grain silo. Kivlan suddenly appeared, stepping out of the darkness, dripping wet.
"Decided to join us, eh, Kivlan?" One of the party members said. Kivlan only nodded, and ducked into the silo behind Pompeii. As he stepped inside though, he reeled back, inhaling deeply. That smell... Memories flashed... Blood...death...Maritia...the priest...symbol...
"There has been a killing here." Kivlan whispered. As the party set out to find the victom, a black shape charged from the darkness of the silo, rearing up, striking at the party with hooves shod with pure darkness.
"I've seen these things before! Stand back!" Pompeii yelled, spinning his quarterstave until it was only a blur. Suddenly, the horse fell, it's neck broken in half. As it fell, it disintegrated into the darkness from which it came. Panting, Pompeii leaned on his stave.
"Payne is definatly here, that was one of his...pets. Let's continue." The party once again set out down the dark silo. As they neared the end the smell thickened until it was nearly impossible to breathe. Suddenly, light flickered, and four candles burt into flame, each placed around a gutted body. Along the body intricate symbols were carved, not a drop of blood where it was not intended.
"Ereal..." The entire party gasped. Except Kivlan. Gazing at the body, wind tickled his ear. Wind, in a building? Kivlan gazed around, but saw nothing. As he returned his gaze to the body, he felt a hand on his shoulder, and the wind in his ear once again.
Kivlan... I know what you want... I will give it to you... Is this what you want?
Suddenly Kivlan fell to his knees, shaking. His eyes welled up, pain flooded through his body. Tears flowed down his cheeks, and emotion flooded into his mind. The memories flashed, stronger than ever. But emotion came with them... The emotion he had blocked off for so many years.
"EREAL!" Kivlan screamed, ripping apart his soft voice. "WHAT IS IT!?" Suddenly, he stood, and began panting. An odd light shone in his eyes, and he gazed around madly.
"The pain! So bright... is it light? The dark... of night so dark the light pain! Brightness, darkness... Death! Blood... Madness... It comes... He comes... Death! What is death? Death is him! He is death! The Pain! Blood! DARKNESS! Emotion... I HAVE EMOTION!"
Heads whipped around. Jaws dropped. Weapons drew.
"Kivlan!?! What is wrong with you?! What has
gotten into you?"
"He's insane! I say we kill him!"
"No, he's possessed! By Payne"
Then abruptly, it stopped. The insane babble of Kivlan broke off with "Death!", and he dropped to his knees, sobbing. The wind brushed by his ear again, this time uttering only two words...
With that, Kivlan fainted into a heap, blood streaming from his hand where he clenched the blade of his spear in a death grip.
Kivlan awoke, the light streaming into his eyes. He looked around, and laughed. The dreams did not plague him that night. He laughed again, and sat up. Gazing at himself in the mirror, he threw his head back and laughed harder than ever. The laughter of a madman.
"You've won... You were right! I am yours!" Kivlan screamed, gazing at the heavily marred grey moon in the sky. "I will prove myself master! I am yours!"
Pulling himself together, Kivlan stepped outside. The
time had come...