The Great Conflict, and the world, has ended. Magic is forbidden so that the world can heal. I believe it’s stolen your memories, too. Which is why you and I are keeping this journal. You, reading this tomorrow, and me, writing this today.
Remember this if you can:
Your name is Carth. You are a warrior, aged boy.
You are in the service to the Warlord’s clan in his mission to restore order to the Realm. Ask daily for your payments. You travel with a woman named Anthea. For an index of items, places, people and locations, refer to the scrolls next to this one.
* * *
I don’t have much time to write this.
You and Anthea laid down in a basin to sleep last night. Your memories left you not long before you were awoken by the sound of marching in the distance. I had the page open to the latest entry in your index, which gave you some measure of relief as it pertains to your current situation.
But I had said nothing about marching. It was a faint rumble. You could feel Anthea’s eyes on you as you fidgeted in your bedroll, looking at the glow of torches that glittered like fireflies in the gaps where this city’s walls had come down.
“Don’t worry, Carth,” Anthea told you. “It’s only a Warlord. There are many who roam about, these days.”
“What’s a Warlord?” you asked.
“Kings without Kingdoms,” she said. I cannot say why this made more sense to you.
“I’m guessing you might know some of that Warlord’s army,” Anthea said. “Folk hop from Warlord to Warlord. Mayhaps some of the men who serve with that one served the same Warlord as you. They are going south.”
“South? They’re going north!” you protested.
“It’s too dark to tell,” Anthea whispered. “Just stay still and say nothing.”
“But you’re saying something now.”
“Hush, Carth! Write in your journal if you’re so desperate for something to do.”
You watched the trail of fire and steel dwindle down to nothing, and it grew fainter and fainter as they marched away.
But soon while you two waited for sleep to take you, you could swear your heard the wind whispering your name. You sat up, searching about. But saw nothing. Anthea told you to go to sleep.
But you saw something out of the corner of your eye. Over the stone basin in which you slept you thought you saw a shadow.
“Anthea—Anthea! Wake up!” you hissed. “There’s something out there.”
“The army is far away by now, Carth. Nobody saw us.”
The shadow seemed to sway, as if it’d had too much to drink. It pitched from one foot to the other, yet it moved with surprising speed. The moonlight silhouetted it as it made a circuit of your camp.
“I’m telling you, there’s something out there.”
“Stop acting simple,” Anthea muttered. “We’re far and away from anyone who could’ve seen us.”
“Just look, dammit.”
Anthea, with some groaning and many words I will not repeat for you here, sat up and looked about. “I’m taking watch. I’m sure I’d know if someone was…”
“Look out!” you shrieked. The shadow was upon Anthea in a heartbeat, sending her slamming back into the rocks sand. You reached for your sword but the shadow kicked it out of your reach, and then made the same motion to strike your jaw, sending you sprawling back.
Anthea rebounded, a dagger held in her hand, pointed down the length of her forearm, knife-flat flesh with its underside. You heard a brief scuffle. Hissing and whispered shouts soft as wind. But the shadow’s knee drove into Anthea’s stomach and she doubled over. The other knee smacked her head and she crumpled to the ground.
The shadow had the dagger now, and you managed, in your dazed state, to retrieve your sword and came charging for the shadow. But it sidestepped your slash and seized your sword. It threw their legs in front of your charge, and used the momentum of your swing to send you tumbling to the ground.
An explosion of weight drove the breath from your body as it fell on you. You felt cold steel at your throat. “Fear not. I you to see the sunlight” they said.
Moonlight lit up your attacker’s face, smiling like a crescent moon. “You were supposed to come with us through Sanctum. This should be over by now. It’s good to see you again, Carth,” said the figure. “I’m here for the crystal you stole from me.”
You saw his hand reach for his belt, and then a shadow moved in the dark. Something round and heavy swung like a morningstar through the darkness, down and atop your assailant’s head. There was a sickening crunch.
Anthea dropped her rucksack, and a perfectly circular dark-purple crystal rolled out. Your assailant slumped off of you and did not move again.
You rolled onto your knees and spilled your jerky onto the cobblestones. Anthea rushed to the gigantic crystal sphere, rolling it over in her hands. “I had to save you,” she muttered. “I had to…”
You realized at length that she was crying, and saw that the crystal had been smashed. Purple fumes wafted away from where it had been dented to reveal the quartz inside. Shattered shards of memory played across what remained of the sphere. The memories felt familiar, but you’re foolish if you think I’ll tell you what they were.
You don’t deserve to know that.
You don’t deserve to know that.
Anthea collapsed, huddling over the crystal. “I can’t fix anything without this,” she choked out. “I was just trying to save you. I was just trying to save you.” She hugged the broken relic close to her chest and wept softly as the sun rose of the anniversary of the deadciv’s destruction.
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