These are the words of Euclycides Pollios, before he disappeared. It was rumored that he was killed by bandits, however, his possessions were never found and recent sightings have fostered new rumors that he survived and still lives.
As I pen these words, I feel everyone one of my years as though they were a multitude of blankets, pressing down with all their might. My hand shakes and quivers, my back is cricked from bending over this accursed desk, and I believe that one of my teeth has just fallen out. I feel the time I've spent on this world has changed my soul as much as my body, covered it in bitterness and hardship. I am 127 years old at this writing. Aye, 127. I have not used any magic to recover myself, unless you count the magic that lies within each and every person. I made the allusion earlier to blankets, piled one by one on top of my soul. Perhaps this is a mismetaphor; instead, I think that as age progresses, the skin comes off in layers. As time passes, the soul becomes more apparent. Pleasures of the flesh give way to those of the mind. I, who once couldn't sit still long enough to listen to orders from a superior, now find myself staring tranquilly at the hearth in the Stone Toga Inn, watching the flames and waiting for some youngster with to much energy to speak with me. Sometimes, I don't even notice when they sit by me, so lost am I in the past. That is the curse of those with a long memory, I suppose. They have to many memories. It's impossible to go the day by without seeing a flower which reminds me of this lass I left in Gadaene, or that mate who died in my arms. My real purpose in buying this parchment was to put down my memories so that, someday, after I've died, someone might read it and know true pain, and at the same time, true happiness.
I was 17 when I joined the Sostaeran reg'lars. We were a proud bunch, all young and grim, ready to die for our country against the damned Gadaenes. We attended two weeks of training, then off to the front we would go. We all thought that it would be an easy war, for we were right. Right? What we wouldn't learn until the end was that the only "right" side is the one that won. I went off to the front with 199 of my mates, a company strong. We returned home a decimated 47 people weak. 153 people died, just from our company. Instead of feeling sick, I swore that I would never put down my standard issue gladius as long as either one of Gadaene or I was still alive. I returned, and this time received a bloody wound, which came across as a jagged scar along my chest. My ribcage prevented the blow from splitting my heart. I was brought to the sick area and cared for none to tenderly by a diffident field medic. While I recovered, the tide of battle turned against us. When I awoke a week after the injury had been dealt, I heard the cries of men as they retreated, leaving me to die in the tent. I pulled myself to my feet and, using my gladius for support, I limped out of the tent. In one of those extraordinary acts of coincidence, I left by an entrance which was directly behind the Captain of the Gadaenese troops. Screaming a battle-cry, I ran at him and hewed his head off with a might stroke which left me gasping for breath. I still remember the look of surprise upon his face, and the look of rage upon those of his followers. They advanced upon me, and I prepared to meet lady Death in the face. Just then, the death of the leader seemed to revitalize the troops, and a sudden resurgence of fighting took place. The lieutenants were quickly to busy fending off attacks than in finishing the dying bastard who killed their leader. So I managed to slip away and recuperate myself. I was found the next day by Salenus, the commander of the elite Scouts. He made me an offer I just couldn't refuse. Next day, I was outfitted in th resplendent green uniform of the Scouts and shipped off to begin my newest training sequence. The Scouts were... different. The first thing that you have to know about this team of elite warriors is that even though most were proficient with weapons, the main quality is their woodscraft. It was in the Scouts that I learned how to find firewood, search for saplings to make into crude spears, how to build a fire, how to cook some meat over that fire so that it didn't burn, and how to make myself a shelter with expedient materials. And some people there couldn't tell you which side of a gladius to hold. They were perhaps our most valuable men. Take Harsacles. The man was a genius for potions. One time, he was able to give an entire bandit camp the runs for a week, allowing the regulars not much of a fight when the time came for them to move in. Another great asset was Perasil. That was his name, aye. Perasil. Another genius in his own right; this one could pick any lock ever made. We lost him one night to a trapped door. Exploding powder; blew his head ten feet further than his body. So many deaths. Could they have been avoided? Perhaps. And then there was the Captain. When I was young and inexperienced, he was merely the Captain. Later on, I found that his name was Taerus. When I found myself promoted to second-in-command, some 18 years later, he became perhaps the best friend I ever had. Taerus was an extraordinary fighter with the whip. You give him a whip and he'll give you a dozen dead fighters. And at his old age, he was still the best woodsman on the force. Which is why he was patrolling that dark night. We were moving through a thich forest when we came upon a Gadaene patrol. We decimated them greatly, but in the end even our fighting skills weren't enough to keep us. They caught us and bound us... I awoke with a pounding headache. I was bound in a dungeon with Taerus right beside me. I struggled against the chains, but they were tight, to tight for me to merely slip out. Than they began to work on Taerus. He was a good soldier; he didn't scream once. I turned my head away, and they pushed it back, forcing me to watch. I closed my eyes, the pried them open and threatened to sew them open. And so I watched as they killed and tortured my beloved Captain. It has been 89 years since then, and many's the night I've woken in cold sweat over that nightmare. There must have been something I could have done. For 89 years, I've been thinking about what, if anything was possible. I got my own back, though. After Taerus breathed his last, I felt my soul break. It was as though I had carried a burden for so many years that now, the straw had broken this camel's back. I went berserk, finally breaking the chains out of the wall and killing all three of the guards. I stumbled out of the dungeon and somehow, found my way to Remath. I suppose they still think I'm dead. It matters not. The Scouts were disbanded a year after I left, as a show of appeasement to the Gadaenes. It matters not. I went to live in Remath for some time. Then Cinera. I was a slave for a while, broke out of that. About forty years ago I found the most adorable little village, Astraea. I went to live their for a bit, made a living telling children and parents alike stories of a time long ago. I found that I liked telling stories; I came to Iridine to finish it. Yes, finish it. I figure my time is almost done and... well, I figure that enough is enough. I also figure that I've defied every natural law with my age. And I feel that I've enshrouded myself in so much of a shell that I died. Well, I haven't died, but my youth and my innocence and most of my emotions have. I have only memories and reason, cold reason, now. I once heard of a fish that, in order to protect itself, grew a thick shell around itself. Every year, more shell was added, until the fish can no longer move and dies. I feel that way; my soul is the fish and my memories and mind the shell. If I need die, I don't want anyone to grieve; nay, I want them to rejoice that I have been freed from my shell. The hammer has crushed the rock around the fish and set it's occupant free.
Euclycides Pollios, Sostaeran Scout