Heart of Darkness Soul of Light

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I held up my shield as the dragon's fire scorched me, in the clouds above Othrys I tried to forget the pain of my deeds in the pain of battle. With the ring on my finger I soared through the heat, shield in front, the torrent stopped and I thrust the blade into the beast's mouth. It bit down and I felt sword connect with the upper throat, a moment later it's teeth bit through my gauntlets. It was the last thing I was aware of as darkness took me, ring on the hand the dragon had just severed from my body. I felt myself fall. It was a good end.

I had fallen from a high place indeed. A Lord of Amber, A Justicar of Tyr. Prince Gavadel of the Golden Shield. Reduced to rags and wielding a rusty sword. It's true, any time I could have returned to Amber and took up my abode there, or shifted shadow enough to find my heart's desire. None of us of the blood are ever truly destitute except by choice. And I chose my ruin because my heart desired that I be punished for what I had done. And I knew I had done wrong. Some orders should never be obeyed.

There are some of us in the family who would argue that the deaths of the farmers meant nothing. For what are they, but shadow stuff? Made real for our pleasure. Another faction insists that they are already real, already exist as all things are possible and all things can be in the mix of shadow and Amber. Those of us who subscribe to that philosophy can never truly see the people of Shadow as being only our playthings. So when I slew the farmers, their wives and their children in a revolting attempt to hurt the Temple of Discordia I could never really be at peace again. Even now, years after the event sometimes... it's the children that haunt me most in my dreams.

I could never return to the Ivory Tower, I simply threw away my shield and ordered my men to return and report the job was done. I think that's what happened, for weeks afterward I was lost in a daze, not entirely sure what had gone wrong. Slowly I started to regain my mind and the only thing I felt was anger. At Strom, at the idiots with the Shield, at myself. Order. The Pattern. How could I justify what I'd done in service to everything I had been. For weeks I lived in the forest, my appearance deteriorated rapidly and as the weeks turned into months I seemed one of the beggars I'd seen so often in Losthaven. I killed only that which I needed to eat and no more. Lost in my own thought.

Even now I can't really tell how long I spent in that wild state, slowly it brought me some peace, being at one with nature can do that. I travelled, but I avoided contact with civilisation. And perhaps I would be there still if not for the goblins. It happened one night, tired from a journey into the east, back towards the lands where I'd began my exile I took refuge in a cave in the mountains. I don't know who was more surprised, the goblins or myself. There were ten of the creatures, a raiding pary heading back to Yevath I imagine with their booty in tow. Some of that was in loot as well as two farmers. There was little I could do, and for the first time in months I raised my fists in anger.

It is a dangerous thing to attack a Prince of Amber, even unarmed. The King Random may look like a scruffy teen, but I've seen him pick up and throw a six-foot oak table in a duel. And I don't look like a scruffy teen. Perhaps it was the sight of the farmers that fueled my anger and my shame, and both together gave me a strength I had not known before, but I've known many times since. Even the rest of the family except maybe Gerard are not much of match for me when I feel /that/ power flowing through me. I dived towards the Captain throwing him to the ground and breaking his neck with my left hand. I could feel rather than see the rest of them closing on me, not quite realising what had just happened perhaps. With my right hand I drew the captain's blade from it's scabbard, a steel longsword, well made, probably by Grebor I thought from the mark, all in the instant it took me swing the sword around to meet a blow that would have removed my head from my shoulders. I ducked an axe and disengaged from the other sword, it was then I felt two stings, crossbow bolts in my thigh. Ignoring the pain I forced myself to my feet, and I could see the fear in the eyes of the goblins as I drew myself to my full height. I could not bring myself to meet the gaze of the farmers. A better target for the crossbowmen perhaps, but they didn't have the time to reload. The time in the wild had honed my reflexes and with a blade in my hand there's few that can stand against me, as many an orc has learned since. I was bleeding from at least ten major wounds by the time they all lay at my feet, but the fire in my blood wouldn't let me feel the pain for some time.

With only myself and the farmers in the cave, I had little choice now but to acknowledge their existence. Picking up a fallen dagger I approached them, still not bringing myself to look them in the eye. I can only imagine now there was fear and loathing there. Hastily I cut their bonds. And they huddled together and back from me. My voice was husky, my throat dry and the words formed roughly, "Go home." And they did. I hope they did anyway, if I'd been in my right mind I would have escorted them there. But it would still be a long time before I would reach that point.

However the meeting with the goblins gave me purpose. Perhaps I could focus my energies on the enemies of 'Good' rather than 'Order'. With some of the gear of the goblins I outfitted myself as best I could and again took up the wandering life. Though now as a hunter, I planned my own raids, on Yevath and the lands about, on orcs, on Togrek. Some went better than others and more than once I almost died however, it seemed fate had something else in store for me. But my power and skill grew, as it hadn't in centuries. It was after a few months of this that I heard of the red dragons plaguing the kentaurs on their island. I found the boatman, and avoiding the village took to the forest. One of the finer items in the goblin-hoard had been a ring of flight. Wearing it now I took to the skies above Othrys searching for the dragons. It hadn't taken me long.

As I had fallen I thought I'd made peace with myself. Even an amberite couldn't have survived. Yet survive I had, slowly I opened my eyes the dragon lay a little way off to my right, in her ruin several trees had been destroyed. I felt myself to be in agony and I looked at my hand, gone. It was then I heard a noise off to my left, it hurt to turn my head, but turn it did. And there she was, magnificent and beautiful. The unicorn might be the symbol of our family, our goddess and our hope. But this wasn't a unicorn, though I didn't doubt the Unicorn had sent her in my moment of need. The pegasus brown-coat yellow winged mare stretched her wings and gazed at me curiously. And I knew her name was Fledge.

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