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Diaries of the Fallen Heroes

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Miss Junia is teaching me to write. She tells me that writing a jurnal is a good way to prakti- practise. So that is what i- I am doing. With her help, of course. She says I should tell the storie of how I got here. So I should probabably start from the begining, because that is were- where all stories begin. I was a member of the kings holy crusade. We where suposed to take back the holy land from forin- foreign barbarians. Armed with sords- swords of steel, and armor of the finest craft, we took off in high spirits, earlier than the rest of the group to scout out the barbaric wastelands. A evanjel- evangelical leader acompanied us to make shure- sure we did not stray from the Light, but he did not seem to really care for what we did. Anyway, eventually we hapened- happened across a small town. Tired of doing nothing but walking for days on end, the others wanted to rayd- raid the settlement of godless persons. Aye- I, on the other hand, protested such action, but alas my word ment nothing to the majority, so we desended upon the vilag- village like a crashing wave of holy steel and devout spirits.

They did not stand a chance.

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The Abbot’s cruelty knows no bounds. Just last night, he had Tris executed for giving money to a man who came to us for help. If I desire to keep my own life, it would be in my best interest to leave as soon as I can, lest the Abbot deems me obsolete as well. I never asked for a life like this. It was my accursed parents who abandoned me at the steps of the Abbey for the Abbot to take me in. I write these spiteful words under the lonely face of the moon, as it is the only thing that helps me keep my sanity. Even if I risk being executed for these words, it is the least I can do to keep me going. I leave when the clock strikes midnight. If there really is a god above us, and if that god truly does care for the insignificant ants crawling below them, I pray that they will grant me a safe passage.

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I have never known my parents. The Master tells me they were killed by bandits when I was very young, and they left me for dead. He tells me that if it were not for him, my remains would still be rotting on the side of that winding path. This tale could have been a source of strong emotion for me, had he not repeatedly told me this story every night before I went to bed in my younger years. Now I can recall the story of my rescue word for word, and it has become but white noise to my ears. I think he might have wanted to keep me obedient through fear. Whether his methods were effective or not, I can not say. I bring this trivial item up, for as he sent me on an errand down to the physician, he reminded me to stay clear from the weald. I see no reason for me to ever approach the weald, as the fact that it is practically infested with bandits is something I can not dispute, no matter how much I would like to try.

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Dismas:

Something has invaded the weald, attacking it, and leaving the wound to fester into an ugly scar. The old man who owns the hamlet has offered us a handsome reward to catch the person responsible for corrupting the flora in the weald. Apparently, one of his assistants has lost it, and her presence threatens the tenuous calm that sits over the land with her twisted experimentation. So far, he has managed to keep the abominations created by this “witch-doctor” as nothing more than a rumor, but he fears that it won’t be long before word gets out to the public. That is why he has requested us to maintain a vow of silence for our precarious errand. Such a simple task should not take too long; we have killed plenty more before this.


Tardif:

We set off into the weald tomorrow morning. I have just finished sharpening my axe, all my various armaments have been stowed away, and now I am left with a few minutes under the shimmering moonlight to contemplate my situation. Madness is no excuse for terrible deeds, but I still pity the mad doctor. Of all the times I have seen her before down at the tavern, she always looked so timid and so small, and she never seemed to leave her master’s home without that strange, pale mask. Someone so vulnerable is undeserving of the terrible fate bestowed upon her. I’ve always wondered what secrets her face might have held, and perhaps that might be the key to redeeming the mad doctor.

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I write these final pages as my dying breaths leave my lungs. I fight one last battle against an invisible foe, who has made the climb against the current of the fight impossibly steep. This is a battle I shall not win. But I will not resist my fate. I wish to die in peace. I have spent the last month searching for a place to rest my enerverated bones, and this secluded hamlet seems like a satisfactory location to let the gentle tide carry this broken soul back to the Light. I have not found a suitable place to stay; I write these pages from within the confines of the abbey, under the asylum of the curious Abbot who calls this place his home. My only hope is that there will be some gentle spirit here that will be willing to host something as wretched as I.

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This was never meant to be. I hoped to find sanctuary there, in that isolated monastery, from the war that had ravaged my home, but in my moment of weakness, in the moment of that accursed accident, they stabbed me in the back and tore me to shreds. Now I have been left to wander the streets, alone and ashamed. I am starving; I haven’t had a bite to eat for a day. The only thing I have to wear is the cloth around my waist, and the shackles dragging my hands behind. If no one will take me in, my body will be left to rot on the stone road. I just require a roof over my head, something to keep out the rain, and something to eat. The beast inside threatens to tear me apart if I don’t find something to eat soon, and I don’t know how long I can keep it inside, before it decides to tear apart some poor soul’s body and feast on flesh.

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The master and his noble hound; could there ever be a pair more than the sum of its parts than a man and beast? One half hunts down outlaws, the other half flushes them out. Together, there is no fugitive that can elude us.

Except now, I’m not supposed to hunt them down. My fellow lawmen have cast me out, since I rejected their corrupt disposition. Now, Fergus, my trust hound, is all I have left, in this desolate hamlet I was cast out to. I would have wished there were a better place to go to, but I am a wanted man in almost every other town, and this place seems to not know any law, which, in my case, is preferable.

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I have, for the longest time, held an interest in becoming a learned man in the art of dark magic. Now, it seems that I finally have an opportunity to sate my thirst for this exotic craft. The lord whose rule holds domain over this land has noticed my talent in the study of incorporeal matters, and my curiosity in that which lies beyond the light. He tells me that, in time, I could become one of the greatest practitioner of the dark arts in history. I have tried to attain contact with the old ones once before, only for my messages to remain unanswered. As it turns out, the soul of another is required to conduct the ritual, something of which I was lacking in my previous attempt. My new master, however, is a man of great wealth, and I have no doubt that, when the time comes, he will have no trouble bringing forth the materials needed to call upon the beings who reside above all.

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There was much revelry that night. It apeared that I was the only won- one unsettled by the day’s bloodshed. Light knows that the sun may have born-borne witness to worse, but I could not help but feel the crimson staining my hands might as well be representative of the worse of our kind. Enemies of the Light, they might have been, but I did not think I could withstand the slaughter brought on by this kind of quest. Disgusted by the cheer and drunkeness of my compatriots over the bodies of inose- innocent women and children, I retired from the party early. I did not feel comfortable tied to the same berth as my company, slaves to the maniacal bloodlust that had driven this once noble quest out of morality and into the mud, so I fashioned myself a hammock out of spare robes I found lying on the ground, and slept in the trees at the ege of town. When I returned to town the next morning, I found it devoid of even the slightest trace of movement. The only indication that anyone had even been there were the corpses strewn about the streets, and a pile of bedsheets they had left behind; they were my bedsheets, with a stake driven through the heart. My comrades had moved on from this desolate vilage, and left me for dead.

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I spend my days under a towering shadow of fear, in a run-down room at the far end of the tavern. I spend every minute watching over my shoulder, keeping an eye for any prying stares, lest one of them be the Abbot’s men. The Abbot has certainly noticed my escape; he has had the local “law enforcement” hang posters of my face all over town. A shame the law enforcement here are nothing but a bunch of hired thugs. If they were, they might have caught me by now. Still, it will not hurt to be paranoid of strangers; living it the shadows will help me remain hidden away from more capable eyes, in case a more capable man takes up the Abbot’s offer of gold. Thankfully, the owner of the tavern is old, and does not care for gold any more. Ironic how the place I might have once seen as the most godless building in town brought my own salvation. The owner tells me his son, however, might not be as generous of a patron as him, and that I will have to find somewhere else to go. I pray the Light may send me an embassy to take me away to a more permanent sanctuary, as at this point, I do not have much more of a choice. The Light has helped me before; I can only hope it chooses to help me again.

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It didn't take me long to lose track of the days. When one becomes more focused on their own survival than counting minutes spent idle, sunrise can easily blend into sunset. It didn't help that I had stumbled into the strangest looking wood. It didn't help that with each step he took, the sky seemed to only grow darker, to a point where it seemed as if the world had fallen into a neverending night. I spent what seamed like years wandering through that haunted forest, never knowing if the sun would be hanging in the sky, never knowing which way the end to the forest was. My robe was soon torn to tatters; my sword became dulled and rusted. I slowly began to fade away from the eloquent typicals of society, until I stumbled apon-upon the loneliest little manor perched atop the highest point of a hill. I knocked on the door, hoping to find solace from the lonely fiend I was beginning to become, and in my hour of need, the kindly lord of the house took me in, and allowed me to steadily reclaim my hold on the world of man.

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The tavern is often a place where the clutches of anarchy have the tightest hold upon, unsanitary acts are committed out of the prying eyes of the law, and untamed chaos runs rampant. It is a place for the shameless to do as they please, filled with drunkeness and mindless noise, and the last place I would ever expect to find solace in my final days. And yet, I find myself writing on these pages underneath the sickly yellow candlelight at the wooden counter of a bar. The stench of spirits still hangs in the air, but clamour expected seems to be missing. It feels strange, but nice, like a seaside cove without the ever so persistant wave to crash over and shatter the peace. I supposed I owe this unorthodox peace to the lawman and his hound sitting at the derelict table underneath next to the window; not even the rowdiest of patrons dare to raise their drunken songs under his scrutinizing glare. Regardless of my feelings about this unusually quiet tavern, it is still no place to truly find my peace, so I must move on in due time.

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Today, I was approached by a most curious young woman. She told me that he'd heard of my plight from the bartender. She says her master, the lord of the land, is a kind man, and he would be more than glad to host a fugitive such as myself. I've already begun packing my things. I will leave without a word to the innkeeper; just this afternoon I managed to catch sight of a group of unscrupulous individuals hanging around in the tavern downstairs, asking around for me. They did not stay for long, as the strange masked man in the corner chased them out, but it disturbs me that these men had any right to be there in the first place. I know not if the new innkeeper is in league with them; he certainly has enough reason, as the tavern has not been so fortunate in these recent days. I just hope I'm not here long enough to find out. I have grown weary of staying in hiding. If the Light holds me in its favor, this will be the last place I will have to run to.

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Found a dog carcass in alleyway this morning. I might have left it to rot, had I not noticed the odd blue solution extravasating from the corpse. I consider myself a scientist of sorts, and as such, I had a few tools on my person for this kind of extraction. As expected, the flesh was infested with writhing maggots, but I managed to find and extract a few inches untouched by the filth, while remaining the peculiar taint of contamination. When I returned home, my master voiced his disapproval at my finding. He has never approved of my experimentation, but it is a necessary evil I commit to sate my thirst for knowledge. In time, I will unravel all mysteries that the world throws my way, and put them to good use. At least, as long as my master decides to funds my research.

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Dismas:

The weald is as untamed and unforgiving as its outward appearance would have you believe. The trodden paths that weave through the trees twist confusingly and wildly, leading all who tread over their moon-washed stones to the more feral sectors of the wood. As for its residents, it could not ask for more grotesque and animalistic creatures to call it their home. Of course, despite their hideous aspect, their primitive behavior proves time and time again to be no match for Tardif's quick thinking, and my quick shooting. We'll be done with this hunt in no time.

Tardif:

This bounty only grows more disagreeable each hour I have to spend in this wretched forest. The creatures are no trouble; a swift swing of the axe is enough to bring them down. Our lack of direction has led to many days of pointless wandering, however, and this monotonous task is wearing down my patience. I relish the slow and steady hunt, but this search is more of an errand than anything. Our employer's disregard for our time grates against my nerves, but it pays well, so I'll just have to push aside my own distaste until we finish the task at hand.

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Earlier in the morn, I went to the master with a request for a certain fragrance; one of fungi found only in the deformed dominion of the Weald. He declined my appeal, claiming that he had use for it for an assessment of his own. Of course, this strange retort has piqued my curiosity, but alas, it is not my place to question such things. Biting as his words may be, he is my master, after all. He must have a logical justification for maintaining custody over the ingredient. That I can be sure of. That I must be sure of.

(There is one more line of text, but it has been rendered completely illegible by a thick line of ink driven straight through the fine print)

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I consider myself an intellectual. As such, I hold the people around my to a high standard, so imagine my surprise when, while I was running an errand, I was approached by a bedraggled group of individuals. They claimed to be associates of my master, but of course, I knew this to be false; my master would never consort with such low-minded filth. Losing them, however, was more tedious than I had expected. Undoubtedly, the master would not be pleased if I brought the scum to his doorstep, but they remained persistent. Had I my surgical blade, I might have slit open one of their eyes, but in my haste to leave the manor prior, I had left it sprawled on my desk. Thankfully, a bounty hunter interfered with their unruly attempts to sway me. I gave him my gratitude, and we parted ways soon after. Still, I can't help but wonder why that disorderly congregation was so insistent on seeing my master.

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As a lawman, I am well traveled. I have been to many towns and cities whereas the structures populating the sides of the road have been in varying states of disrepair. None, however, had housing establishments as run down as the hamlet I have taken up residence in. Clearly a showing of how little influence the law has over this place. Fergus is uneasy about the atmosphere here, perhaps unsettled by the disarray of the passing buildings around town. The townspeople really should find some law to keep under, lest Fergus and I convince them to do so ourselves.

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I killed someone today. There was a man in an alleyway, and a knife. I tried to calm him down, but he kept pointing it at me. A flash of sharpened steel, just like in my home before, digging into me. I don't know what came over me; one minute he was swinging the knife, the next minute, a bloody mess, and blood in my teeth. I tried my best not to gag at the stench, but now the stones in the road have melted away. He wasn't the first. He won't be the last. I really need help.

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At last, my master has marked a day to begin my apprenticeship. He says he needs time to prepare the materials. My dark arts tome claims that the ritual preparations should be a simple matter. My master says otherwise, claiming the pages are nothing but slander as he threw it into the sea. Who knew published works could contain such slander?