The Living were interfering with my plans.
Within my mind, I cannot "see" my enemy, for I have no real memory of him. I can recall my rest being abruptly interrupted; but all else that remains of that event is a confused image of burning bodies, incessant screaming and terrible agony. I can still remember that horrible pain; my face melting away, liquified by that vile substance the Living call 'holy water.' As I rose from my coffin, someone had thrown no small quantity of it into my face – a very rude awakening indeed.
No, I cannot be certain as to my attacker's identity, but I have my suspicions. Roglais had been especially anguished by his Turning because of his son; a sycophantic Cleric of that misbegotten purveyor of light – Pelor. The very thought of that name leaves an abhorrent taste in my mouth and I find myself needing to quaff a glass of wine.
Yes, to my thinking, this new enemy was none other than that wretched bastard Ivon, the son of Roglais . . . may he be eternally damned to the Abyss!
* * * *
It all began with that damnable toady of Rao in Miller's Crossing; a true 'thorn in the side.' Roglais had been foolish enough to invite me into his home for a meal; a simple, road weary traveler in search of a place to rest the night. I had waited three days for Roglais, his wife and daughter to 'rise,' as the first of my Spawn. Three days . . . wasted!
Roglais had bungled his first attempt at feeding and that thrice cursed Priest of the miserable god-ling Rao stumbled upon us. I failed to mesmerize the execrable Priest and he lead a mob in assaulting us. Though they posed no significant threat – armed as they were with nothing more than pitchforks and that loathsome liquid – there proved to be too many of them; I was forced to flee, taking that idiot Roglais with me.
At first, we moved south, intending to circle back to Roglais' farm, so that I might collect his wife and daughter, but that detestable Raoan had other plans. He had recognized Roglais and – having lost our trail in the dark – he immediately led the mob to Roglais' farm. My worthless servant and I could only follow at a distance. Unfortunately, the sun began to rise before we could get there. Neither of us would survive the sunlight, so Roglais lead me to a hollow at the base of a large oak, which in turn led to a small grotto and there we awaited the arrival of Niskah.
Upon rising the next night, we discovered the house and barn burned to the ground. The link I have with my minions let me know that the women were no more. Fortunately, Niskah had been able to rescue Roglais' coffin – before the mob had arrived – and had placed some of the soil from his grave within, enabling Roglais to survive the night. The women were already at rest when Niskah had arrived and their occupied coffins had proven too heavy for one man to move.
All that time lost and my efforts wasted, because of my clumsy, uselessness Spawn, Roglais. Oh, I made him pay.
* * * *
By this time, you are no doubt curious as to the identity of Niskah. He is a human Necromancer sworn to my service, having drank of the ichor which is my blood years ago. Niskah is Flannae and his people have ever practiced the 'dark arts' – as has my family. My kind have need of such; a willing servant who can move about freely in the daylight.
Niskah has proven himself useful, over the years.
* * * *
Yes, the Raoan Priest had proved to be an unexpected challenge and the unfortunate commotion in Miller's Crossing had called far too much unwanted attention to my existence and our presence; it was far too small a community to hide in. I had no wish to endanger my plans by staying in the now exposed location for no reason other than the seeking of petty revenge. After all, I have eternity before me and that misbegotten Raoan could wait; for a time . . . may Yeenoghu blast his soul!
The three of us reloaded our two coffins into Niskah's wagon and headed south into the Duchy, to my ancestral lands. Niskah would drive the heavily tarped wagon by day and my Spawn and I would arise with the sunset and feed, when needed. We stopped at small towns along the way, but only long enough to acquire sustenance. Since I did not wish to attract any more attention to our passing than necessary, we avoided feeding at small farmsteads. I also held off creating anymore Spawn . . . until we reached the city of Seltaren.
We spent a week in Seltaren, just long enough for me to create additional servants, three of them; two 'ladies of the light' and a derelict no one would ever miss. We then continued our journey southward, towards my family's ancient demesne. We were only a day's travel away when the attack came upon us. The wagon's tarp had suffered some minor damage in our travels and so Niskah searched for and found a small cave – not very deep – where we might place our coffins while we slept. As near as I can tell, we had only been recumbent for a few hours when I was disturbed by the unprovoked attack!
* * * *
After wiping the vile fluid from my face – and shrugging off its temporary effects – I looked down to see two of my minions lying in their coffins, wooden stakes driven into their hearts. I roared in my anger! I turned, as the sounds of battle drew my attention. Looking towards the cavern's entrance, I could plainly see that my other Spawn were being driven out into the cursed sunlight, before the terrible fury of some holy warrior!
As their bodies burned into ash, my wrath knew no bounds! I howled and stepped forward, but the intensity of Pelor's cursed sunlight checked my advance, preventing me from approaching too near to the cave's mouth. It was in that moment that calm returned, sanity was restored and my thinking cleared. I knew that this was neither the place, nor the time for such a fight; there was simply no room for maneuver and I could, myself, easily be forced out into that terrible, murderous light . . . just as my Spawn had been.
I looked about for an avenue of escape and – turning my gaze upwards – I saw a deep crevice within the ceiling and quickly assumed a gaseous form. Yes, I fled before my enemy, all the while swearing revenge upon him!
No, I never saw his cursed face, though I watched him as he reentered the cave and dragged the impaled bodies of my Spawn out into the execrable, burning light, forever ending any chance of removing the stakes and returning them to 'Unlife.'
Niskah had been instructed to camp some little distance from my resting place, assuring that no one accidentally came upon me while I was in repose. Niskah was to use the time to make repairs to the wagon's tarpoline. I might have summoned him to our rescue, but instead, I chose to bide my time before rallying Niskah to my side, for he would have been no match for this holy warrior. Only after darkness had fallen did I call to him, thus insuring that the slayer had truly left. My Spawn are more easily replaced than is Niskah.
Upon Niskah's arrival we inspected the damage. Two of the coffins were badly burned, though mine had survived; it was protected by dark magics. Two others had survived as well but were of little use, now that their owners had been destroyed. Of my Spawn, none remained . . . obliterated by that lick-spittle of the thrice cursed Sun!
* * * *
My plans have suffered a setback and my triumphant return home will have to wait. It had always been my intention to reclaim the family's estate. I had spent the last hundred years planning for that very endeavor. I realized that my personal power, as a Practitioner of the Arcane, would need to be enhanced before I made my move. Also, I realized that I would need to begin collecting Spawn for myself; when the time came. I knew that 'allies' would be necessary and Spawn were the only 'allies' I could rely upon.
You see, word had long ago reached me that others now dared inhabit the ancient Manse and – though they are squatters and unable to use the ancient powers of the Keep – some of those denizens are quite powerful in their own right; one in particular. Yes, 'allies' would be need to meet this Wizard and his pet demon.
It had been my intention to enter the ancient Castle with confederates, minions to assist me in reclaiming what was rightfully mine; servants bent to my will . . . but these were now destroyed. Perhaps, despite all my planning, I moved too quickly? What is certain is that my attempts at training Spawn, in so small a community as Miller's Crossing, had been a costly mistake. One that will not be repeated.
Yes, having spent some months in contemplation, it is clear to me now that a safe domicile is needed; a place where my Spawn can have time to grow accustomed to their new status and abilities, only then will they be of any real use to me. Well, there will be time enough to test that theory. They are nothing more than tools after all; mere slaves, bent to my will. Still, having the first batch destroyed before ever fulfilling their purpose caused me great irritation.
For now, Niskah and I have moved on. I will soon create more Spawn for myself. It continues to be my desire that we remain inconspicuous. As before, I did not prey upon local farmsteads, or holdings, as we continued our journey; neither did I return north, to Seltaren. No, Niskah and I must move forward with my plans, not backwards, so we made our way to the city of Pontyrel and here we will remain for a time. This was not my original intent, to be sure, but sometimes plans need to be adjusted and time . . . time is on my side!
I have a new enemy now, a real stench in the nostrils! A true a lapdog of the foul and odiferous 'Sun Father' . . . the mangy cur of a flea ridden god-ling! It is enough to make me gag and I call out to Niskah for more wine.
I will remain on the watch for the fawning toady of the burning orb blazing in the sky, though I do not expect to see him again; until I should purposely choose to do so. He has destroyed the Spawn which had been his father and I sense that this had been his purpose all along. With the corpse of his father obliterated, why should he return? Still, the clerics of the accursed Sun are a vexatious lot and ever the enemies of my kind.
Still, I think I have seen the last of him.
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