Dark Heart

Descent into the Dark

The young neophyte looks up at his master. ‘Father. I still do not understand the legend of the Happy Beggar. Could you explain it again?’

The wizened old man looks up. ‘Certainly, my son. But listen more closely this time. The Followers of the One and a Thousand draws its strength from the old legends of the One… and the Thousand.’

‘Yes, master.’

‘It began in the wake of the Attack on the Forgehold. The One and his companions, the Servants of Light, had been following a lead that they hoped would take them to the vile Son of Khyber.’

The youth gasps. ‘The Son of Khyber?’

‘The very one. His journey took him to Malleon’s Gate, an old neighborhood in Charn.’

‘Charn? You mean… the Great City?’

‘Yes. The One and his allies searched desperately for a fiendish group known as Daask along with a vile mercenary named Modra.’

‘But, master? Why would the One pursue such vile creatures? What had they done?’

‘Simple, youngling. Somebody had been recruiting mercenaries, bloodthirsty warriors and monsters, in an apparent attempt to aid the Son of Khyber. The One hoped to track the mercenaries to the Son of Khyber himself.’

The elder reached out for his tea, sipping carefully. In the distance, the chanting of monks echoes.

‘To find these terrible creatures, Lord Algernon the Gallant and the Archdruid of Time disguised themselves as a rogue mercenary captain and his vicious war beast.’

‘The Archdruid did that?’

‘Yes, young one. You see, he was still a neophyte, full of emotion and fury, much like yourself. He had not become the legend you and I know him to be.’

The youth, fascinated, looks up to his master.

The One and Queen Leonora met with their old friend, the rogue Darik ir’Tain. They hoped he could provide them more information regarding these mercenaries. Luckily for all of them, their efforts paid off, as they heard rumor that the people they sought could be found at a small tavern named the Happy Beggar in the neighborhood of Fallen.’

‘And this is still in the Great City?’

‘Yes. But Fallen was no splendor or greatness. It was a part of the Great City known for cruelty and suffering.’

The youth gasps in surprise. ‘Oh! I never would have thought.’

‘Luckily for the One and the Servants of Light, the Happy Beggar had recently been acquired by the Devotees of the Silver Flame, who hoped to use their influence to uplift the neighborhood.’ The old man pauses briefly, taking another sip from his mug.

‘That is when a stranger approached the Archdruid and Lord Algernon. He told the brave ones about Modra, describing him to be a fiendish blackheart that would sooner stab a man in the back than give him a fair shake.’

‘That sounds horrible! Who was this mysterious stranger, Father?’

The old man shakes his head. ‘All in due time, my son. All in due time.’ He pauses. ‘Yet, as quick as the mysterious stranger appeared, he vanished. Lord Algernon spoke to the proprietors of the Happy Beggar, attempting to learn more about the strange location and how it may relate to his investigation.’

‘And the One? Did he discover the enemies they sought?’

‘Not quite. Through cooperation, the One and his allies discovered a secret chamber within the tavern’s pantry, leading deep into the earth.’

The youth claps his hands. ‘A secret passage! I’m certain adventure awaited them?’

‘Yes, yes. Now, silence, and let me finish. The One and the Servants of Light went down the passage only to find themselves surprised by a steep ledge. They fell into a deep chamber. As they recovered, they realized that huge bat creatures had been hanging from the ceiling, waiting. The vile monsters swooped in to attack!’

The youth looks expectantly up at his master. ‘And..?’

The One and his allies bravely fight the bat creatures, deftly defeating them. As the last creature fell to Lord Algernon’smagic, the Archdruid took stock of the chamber. He warned his friends of the dangers that existed around them.’

‘Dangers?’

The elder looks sternly at his pupil. ‘Doomspores. Deadly fungus.’

‘Ohhhh.’

The One led his friends deeper into the cavern, uncertain of what dangers would await them around the next corner. As they proceeded further in…’

A great bell chimes from above. ‘But, alas. It is time for prayer. Hurry, young one, to the chapel. You wouldn’t want to be late again.’

The youth stands from his chair. ‘But, master! When will I get to hear the rest?’

The old man chuckles. ‘Perhaps tomorrow, my son. Perhaps tomorrow.’ He stands up, ushering the boy out. ‘Now, quickly! Run along!’

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