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The Man With a Crooked Smile
It all begins, like with most stories of our history, with an average day. The year was 230X, It was in the middle of the 2nd age, and a man by the name of Alowin Falcore was tending his fields when….
Along came a strange man,he was wrapped in a hoodless cloak. The man was wearing what appeared to be a tall black wide brimmed pointed hat and large mirrored goggles covering his face. Alowin was certain that he had seen better days. He staggered along the long dirt road and seemed to move unnaturally, as if suspended by strings. Alowin knew something wasn’t right. There was something about him… The brim of his hat was riddled with holes, his cloak was partially torn on one side, and there was something strange about his goggles. Every time the man moved Alowin could see something in the glint of his goggles, a symbol of some sort, but the most peculiar thing was that they almost appeared to glow faintly. Alowin swore that he had seen the symbol before. When he thought about it a feeling of dread had creeped across his mind, but he had no idea why. Suddenly the man had stopped and quickly turned to face Alowin, he must of seen him watching from a distance. Now that he could see the symbol in full, the feeling as dread intensified as he suddenly realized what it was.
An upside down, uneven star was engraved on the left lense of the tinted goggles. He must be an escapee from the warlord’s fortress, which was strange because there were never any survivors. This particular warlord was infamous for torturing his victims to death in cruel and inhuman ‘experiments’ . The man must’ve seen the look of fright on Alowin’s face because he burst out laughing, revealing his sharp, pointed and crooked teeth that were hidden behind dry, cracked lips. The sound of the cackling shook him to his core, it was as if Death himself had been screeching in his ears. When the cackling stopped and after the man had composed himself he spoke,”Hey there fellow, It’s rude to stare you know?” the man whispered something incompressible under his breath, as if arguing with himself and continued ,”Okay I’ll tell you what, I won’t kill you if you help me out here, In fact, you may even get something for being sooo nice.” The strange man lurched forward, his teeth protruding from the man’s crooked smile,” So what’s your name? I like to know the names of the people I don’t kill.”
Alowin struggled to spit out the next words,”Alowin, My name is Alowin… What’s yours?” he had no idea who this man... this thing was or what it wanted, but he knew that if he didn’t comply he would surely be dead. He had never felt so afraid in his short existence in this realm and Alowin was sure that he could never feel more afraid again.
The strange man gave Alowin a demented smirk, like a wolf playing with it’s prey. ”Names have power you know, anyways back to business. You have a house? Or are you just some serf or something, you have the look of a freeman though so let’s go. On second thought, we had better go to your barn if you have one”. Alowin had no choice but to lead him to his barn. Alowin gestured for him to follow while trying to stop his legs from shaking. As he continued to his barn the strange man leaned in once again.
“Okay, so first things first I am going to need you to go and get me a carpenter's hammer.”. Alowin was in no position to argue with the strange request. As he was searching through the workshop attached to his barn he could hear the stranger speaking outside. “How much do you know about the local warlord boy?”
“N’not much sir” Alowin replied.
“Let me tell you what goes on in there” This was something that he would never forget, “The warlord and his men kidnap women, men and children from the surrounding area. They took us to their dungeon, if you want to call it that. I would call it Hell...” Alowin could see[?] the stranger through the window look visibly upset for a minute then regain the exterior of a madman, he continued “They performed horrific experiments on us, all the while communing with dark forces. The things I heard them do to my friends… my family.. Did you find the hammer yet?” “...yes” He did not like where this was going.
The man staggered slightly again, it’s as if his entire body tightened, it appeared that someone else was pulling the strings. The man removed his hat and Alowin was shocked by the repulsive sight.“The first thing they do when they bring you there… was attach the goggles… They do this so they do not have to look you in the eyes when they cut you open, and so you don’t see what they were doing to your family and friends..” Alowin saw what he meant ;Three leather straps went across the man’s head, one across the left temple, another across the right and one straight down the middle. The straps were fastened by 8 staples “Hand me the hammer..” The man spoke again, this time his voice cracking.
At this moment Alowin realised, this man was just as scared as he was. What ever happened in the warlords dungeon hadn’t left this man's mind. Perhaps this was why he had heard of no survivors ever returning from his dungeon… “There was one thing that the warlord and his men never thought to consider… The same forces that commanded them communed with us as well”. “Some promised escape, wealth and absolute freedom but only offered death. I wanted one thing, Vengeance and guess what? I got it…” Alowin now realized what this man was going to do.
“Don’t do It! you’ll Die!” Alowin begged this man, but his mouth twisted into a cruel sneer and chuckled
. “Who said I was still alive boy?” And with that the man dug The back of the hammer into his skull. Alowin could hear the sound of skin peeling and bone scraping as he pulled out the first one, and then the next one, and then the next one. He continued through until all straps fell to the ground. When he removed the goggles Alowin saw his true eyes. Catlike in nature but as bright as the harvest moon on a clear night.
The man suddenly began to laugh once more. Alowin noticed strange white symbols Glowing bright on the thick leather strap that was formally across his head fade to black and then nothing. As the blood began to drip from his new wounds Alowin noticed that the man’s skin began to regain its color. He seemed younger, like a weight had been lifted from his conscious allowing it to travel freely back into his body. The man laughed and laughed and laughed, and eventually Alowin began to laugh too. He could feel the strange darkness that surrounded the stranger slowly dissipate and fade. He had done his part and now it was time for the stranger to repay him.
“Here I’ll tell you what” the stranger continued.”Take this” The man threw an ancient looking leather bound book covered in the unmistakable runes of the elves. He could see that a few of the pages had been torn out of the book but after all that had happened today Alowin had no interest in finding out why. “Here, this helped me out in my time of need, I’m sure a clever fellow like yourself could use it”. He continued, “we are headed toward dark times, and It is up to mortals, I mean fellows like you to stop them from happening. Take this book and learn”. Alowin appreciated the gesture but he couldn’t read “Well thanks sir..” he began, but when he looked up the man was gone, leaving nothing but a old holey pointed hat and a leather bound book. He reached down for the book and surprisingly…
Nothing happened. Days, weeks and months pass by and nothing happens. It was just business as usual, some days Alowin would try to decipher the book, but the strange and age old elvish writing was a mystery to him and he continued to learn nothing. Other days it would just sit on a shelf in his home, next to his wives quilts and son’s and daughter’s toys. It was at the end of another long day on the farm when in the middle of the night he heard a loud rapping at the door. BOOM BOOM BOOM.
He wondered when this day would come, he had heard that his kingdom had been losing the fight against the dwarves of the north he heard that they were making their way down to south country. He heard it again BOOM BOOM BOOM. he told his wife and kids to hide in the attic, and he made his way to the front door. Outside he saw his worst fear. A company of 100 dwarfish raiders armed with pikes and torches were outside his home. There leader began to spoke, “hand over all of your valuables, your finest animals and your wife and we may not b-” the dwarf suddenly stopped talking. Although he could not see what lay behind him he could feel it; A bright light, as bright and orange as the harvest moon on a clear day was shining from the inside of his house. He could feel his lips forming a familiar crooked smile, and he said. “Don’t you fellows know it’s rude to stare?”