Diary of a Lost Soul

February 24, 2009
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It's hard to be tough. Once you lose count of the friends you have lost, cold apathy settles into your heart like an ever growing void. And once it pierces that thin veil between pain and indifference, you cease to be human. Such is the price of war. Live are lost, thousands of lives, but he price is unimaginable in souls.

It is not so when you sleep.

Calling, screaming, tormenting, your forgotten comrades claw at you as you dream, faceless shades of their former selves. Valor has no meaning beyond the grave. You're just another failed body, sullen and doomed to fade in a haze of blood. Close friends may remember you for a time, but only until the next horrible fray is upon them. War shatters the land, the body, and the mind, and once it begins, any chance of peace is forgotten in the winds.

It was 612 Ath Suathar, 612 long years since the birth of our nation's founder. Dissident peasants in the south had been troublesome for a time, but never possessing a figurehead to stand by, lacked the necessary support to rebel. That all changed with Kar'amon. A mage of renowned power and fickle mood, he left our courts. Few thought of his absence, attributing his extended leave to be just another of his sudden whims. Reports began to filter in of a charismatic leader among the rebels, who was rallying them under a unified flag, Despite these warning, our emperor, Gods save his soul, continued to ignore what seemed to be an inevitable storm. It proved to be his downfall.

Summer turned to Fall, Fall turned to Second Summer, and Second Summer turned to a harsh and dark and bitter Winter. Targlund has always experienced harsh winters with harsher storms, but none so awful as the one we faced on that fateful night. Lightning crawled across the sky, followed by sonorous booms that echoed among the weathered stones of the city walls. It proved far preferable to the true darkness unveiled that night, however.

I will always remember my first great failure. There had been no reports of raiding parties, and the fierce tempest gave me pity, my men would sleep this night, I had determined. It was my decision set a minimal watch that night, my decision to let my soldiers put down their swords. It was my decision that got them all murdered.

At about half past night, I awoke. Perhaps it was a guardian from above, perhaps it was luck, but it is the only reason I am still alive. My window was open, a first warning to imminent peril. I slipped out of bed, dagger in hand, wary of every movement. My heart beat faster. The rustling of the curtains, the creaking of the floor, all were potential enemies to my fearful observance. I knocked on my door to alert the guards, and to my surprise, it swung open, grinding across the floor with an ear-biting screech. The torches were out, casting the hall into impenetrable gloom. Warily, I put my foot forward, only to slip and stumble against the wall. My leg was wet, breeches soaked through, with a sickly sweet aroma arising that I recognized all too well. Blood.
In the dim flicker of my lone candle, I could see the bodies of my guards, good men both of whom I had known for many years. The statues along the wall stood witness to these crimes, and yet as always, held silent, specters of the ages. Once again it was luck that I survived, for out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed what had been a statue moments before, raising its sword to strike.
Instinctively, I dove out of the way, stumbling over a corpse. The sword whistled past my head, shaving the whiskers off of my cheek. Ignoring the pain in my bruised side, I spun around to face my assailant, barely in time to evade the assassin's follow-up strike. A cloaked figure faced me, hood drawn so low, so as only to see the piercing flicker of cold eyes. Even as the fiend let loose a swing against my neck, I swooped up the sword of my fallen guard. I brought it to bear a mere thought before I lost my head, and even so, the side of the blade slapped against my face as the villains superhuman strength rammed against my feeble defense. Brutal shock coursed through my body as I was thrown across the room. Ears ringing, I got up, warily flailing my blade to fend off any incoming attack. Lucky I did, for the beast came at me, gleaming sword in hand, thundering down the hall, fury in every step. The wind of its charge whipped the hood off of its head, and for the first time, I looked upon the bare face of my attacker. In disbelief I stood, stunned at what I saw.
With head bared and face visible, I found myself confronted with, well, myself. In what light was allowed by the candle, I found myself staring at a perfect reflection. Flawless in every regard, down to the long scar along the nose, save for his eyes. I may have been fooled into dropping my guard, so hypnotic was the effect. But those eyes, burning pits of hatred, rimmed by the bags of many tortured nights, were none known to me.
Torn from my trance, I charged forward, blade in hand, realizing that, if I were to breathe my last, I'd be damned if I didn't cast this abomination back to the Hells first. My doppelganger was surprised by my action. The sword dropped from his hand, and a violent struggle ensued. Muscle against muscle I shouldered him into the wall. Even as my dagger plunged into his heart, I saw the flash of fangs. His disproportionate weight took me down, as his strangely malformed jaws tore out the tendons in my arm. Groping blindly for my extinguished candle, my hand closed around its cold surface. Muttering a quick incantation from my early years studying spell-craft, it flared once again to meager life.
I wish I hadn't. I wish I had continued to grope blindly for the door so I could run. And run. In its final act, half transformed werewolf, for a werewolf it was, had bitten me. It took a moment for the implications to set in. A werewolf's bite, the Curse of the Lycanthrope; I had just been afflicted with a doom worse than death.
The city was in danger. I had to warn the guard of the attack. Too late. Streets of stone glowed an eerie crimson under the pale full moon. I could already feel my freshly cursed blood tugging for control in my head. Soon, my primal urges would overtake my rational mind. No one could be near me when I lost control.
Making my way to the city's walls, the first bells of alarm reached my ears. Too late. Deafening to my new found senses, I clasped my head tightly and fell to the ground, writhing in inescapable agony. And as my body weakened, my curse reveled, hammering the doors of my mind as a rock hammers and egg. With exultant, joy?, I felt the lycanthropic savagery overtake me. In an ecstasy-induced seizure, I was unaware of the soldiers running past. One put his hand on my shoulder.
'Sir? Sir! Are you alright?' His words barely echoed in the recesses of my mind. 'Sir! We're under attack! What are your orders?!' Still, my lolling head failed to register the meaning of his words. He had just begun to speak again when I tore out his throat.
I know not how much time has passed. I woke to find myself outside the city walls, clothes torn and tattered, the taste of blood in my mouth. It is too late for me. I am a danger to society, and I must leave this place in search of, in my dream of dreams, a cure. I write this manuscript as an apologetic testament to any and all atrocities I may have and will continue to commit.

~Confessions of a Lost Soul
General Telkendar
May he find peace in Death

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