Witness's Story

I was born into an existence that I can only remember in the words of my mother�s stories. She talked of a cottage in the woods near a large city. She talked of trips to the market and neighbors plenty. She said we had collected fallen leaves from the magical trees and sold them to the magicians in return for household spells. My sister was even training with a local mage. And the word present in all of her stories is �was�. For before I reached the age of 3 my village was attacked by Orcs.

My father and brothers were viciously murdered and glad am I to not remember for I was supposedly observer to the entire ordeal. My mother and I were hauled away to be slaves in that dark and dreary dungeon. Mother always hoped my sister had survived. I believe that hope kept her alive until the madness took her. She died when I was 8, by my count at least.

The Dungeon Wroth is a dangerous place to be lonely. Those with no one to protect them are often molested, abused, robbed, or murdered. By other slaves more often than Orcs. Luckily, I was taken under the wing of Kandar, a dwarf warrior enslaved years before I was even born.

Kandar taught me to fight, to observe, and to think. That is all you need know of my training, for the rest is repetitive and uninteresting. After 6 years Kandar unveiled his plan: Escape. And one morning, on duty cleaning the blood and severed body parts from the torture chambers, we did. We over-powered the goblins, and ran to the portal room, where Kandar spoke the magic words that transported�should have transported us to Rune.

Unfortunately, even Kandar was not unfaleable. He had spoken the wrong words, and we were sucked through a dark portal to what I now know is called Avarice. Accustomed to the dark we were easily able to pick out the shapes of horrendous monsters in the corners of the sordid cavern. The heat was almost unbearable, and the stink of rotting flesh came close to overwhelming me. The experience was one I will never forget, and at that moment I would have gladly returned to the cruel Dungeon Wroth.

However, that was not an option, and being panicked and perceiving no other option, we ran. For how long we ran, I cannot know, but my undernourished body gave all it had to that flight. Almost dead with exhaustion, we were almost caught when suddenly our pursuers hissed and sank back into the darkness.

We found ourselves in a cavern that emanated a feeling of security, so we rested. Some hours later Kandar awakened me, and pointed to the ceiling where I noticed a small dot of light. We climbed for the better part of a day. Nervous that the sunlight would be gone before we reached the beacon above us, Kandar pushed me harder than he ever had before. Many times my sweating palms slipped on the rock, and I almost fell to my death. When the opening was was finally within view, it was the blue light of dusk seeping through. And we discovered we could not reach that doorway. For between that arch and us, were hundreds of massive, drooling, horrendous spiders, venom hissing and eating away at the stone where it fell from thier fangs.

Again we pulled out our meager weapons. We looked at each other, then back at the opening, and ran for all we were worth. I was almost to the opening when I heard a hideous scream behind me. I turned, screaming Kandar's name, to see as the spiders converged on him. Coward that I was, I turn around again and ran towards the light. I will always despise myself for not defending Kandar, though I know I too would have died.

When I ran out of the cave the beasts did not follow. I collapsed, exhausted, and sobbed. I sobbed for the family I had lost, for the sufferings I had endured, and for the friend still warm behind me. When I had no more tears to shed I slept. I awoke freezing to a growling stomach. Gathering myself, I scanned my surroundings. As accustomed to seeing in the dark as I was, it was not difficult to make out the waves of smoke in the mountains to my north.

Thinking to surprise the unwary camper and steal their food and valuables, I crept up the rock face. I was a good twenty feet from the fire, when the unknown camper spoke.

"You know, you are quite loud, you've been disturbing my rest for a good 20 minutes. Would you care to sit and warm yourself? I admit I'm not a very good cook, may you may help yourself to the rest of my stew."

I sat, and ate. I was creduless, having known only two people in my life who would not knife me in the back given a decent chance. So I kept a good distance away, and while I ate she talked.

"My name is Starryangel. What is yours? Well, I suppose you're too busy chewing to talk, eh? Sorry about that," she added with a grin. "Are you on your way to Lasler too?" she asked. She must have seen the confusion in my eyes, for she went on, "ah, well, it's a town a days walk south of here. I'm going to start my training there. I think I'll become a Shaman. Ritaln seems to think the only reason I wish to learn magic is because I'm a pyromanic. I mean, really! Just because I start a few accidental fires... It's not like the entire village burned down, just a few houses. Okay, a dozen maybe. But it was an accident."

I was amazed that anyone could talk so fast without taking a breath, and that someone would WANT to talk this much. And besides that, I had no idea who in Alyria this "Ritaln" was. I was also quite sure she was insane. Not that I minded, there were a good many insane folk in the dungeons.

"I suppose I would really like to learn how to control my fire breathing better, I almost set fire to a forest last week, that's why I'm tavelling across the mountain and not on the paths. Too many flamables, you understand. Speaking of flamable, did you know that there are quite a few elves in these mountains? Really!"

I burst out laughing, spiting stew everywhere. That was when I decided I liked Starry. We have been fast friends ever since.

I asked if I could go with her to Lasler, and she said I could. We set out the next dawn, and arrived in the small, over-populated village just after dusk. We camped outside the town in a nearby clearing and the next morning Starry waited patiently while I searched the forest for a plant that produced a deep black ink (herb lore remembered from my mother), and fashioned a needle out of rabbit bone. I then proceeded to tattoo my face with runes, just under my left eye. The first rune I drew, with chagrin, was the rune for �innocence.� I added �grief� and �anger.� Noticing Starry watching me with fascination, I offered to tattoo her as repayment for her kindness. She had me draw a single tattoo, a radiating skull on her shoulder. I did not ask what the mark meant to her, and she did not tell me.

Finally feeling ready to begin a new chapter in my life, we walked to the school and enrolled. Starry enrolled as a Shaman, just as she�d said, and I enrolled as a Barbarian, fancying the brutish style of combat was alike to what Kandar had taught me. We parted ways, but kept in touch. After I completed my training as a Barbarian I added the rune for �warrior� to my face, and later, when I joined the coven Spiritwalk, I added the last. For I had found my family, and I knew, that even in the Powers were not done with me, if they threw their worst at me, I would not have to face it alone. The last rune was �faith.�

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