As I stared into at the bottom of my empty tankard I thought about the last three fortnights I've spent in these accursed jungles. I felt no closer to my next trial now then the first day I arrived here. And these Kahazam Mithra were not to my liking. Their mercurial natures and purred speech made me feel uneasy. It felt like the natives were just as likely to put a dagger in my back as a fresh tankard of ale in front of me.
As I stared at the fresh tankard of ale before me I realized I had avoided the dagger once again. I shrugged and took another drink. Boredom. That is why I drank now. Gumbah had been right about one thing. I did not face evil born of darkness here so I had not been plagued by the horrific dreams of my past and possible future. There was no reason to drink myself into a stupor to keep the dreams at bay but there was nothing else to do. There were no guild halls here to apply a craft, no decent shops to browse through, and danger around every corner in the jungle.
One did not go into the jungles without a party for safety. I'll give the Mithra one thing. They know how to defend their town and keep the beastmen a safe distance away. I wonder how much longer they can hold out though. There's only so much us adventurers can do and we don't seem to be making a dent in the beastmen population.
And yet we press on, day after day, night after night until we can fight no longer. Then we return to the relative safety of Kahzam to rest up and wait for the next wave of recruits to arrive from Jeuno to replace those that finally tire of this sport and move on. Still I remain, for I could do nothing else. Gumbah had said I would know when the time was right, although I was beginning to doubt his sage advice.
That is until the dreams started again. At first it was just the restless nights. I woke exhausted, knowing I had been dreaming yet not able recall them for the life of me. I pushed myself to the point of exhaustion everyday in the field only to come back to the tavern and drink until I could barely find my bed. I did not want to face these nightmares again, but apparently it was not up to me. Slowly the dreams began to coalesce and the fleeting images and sounds began to haunt my waking hours. Treali's face, my brother's mocking laughter, shadows and smoke. Nothing substantial and always fleeting.
After one particularly draining session in the jungles I was too tired to sit in the common room and drink with the rest of the revelers. I found my way to bed as quickly as possible and fell asleep even before my head hit the pillow. The dream came to me that night with complete clarity.
Images of friends past and present flitted through my mind. Never lasting long enough for me to know if they were remnants of a memory or visions of tomorrow. As the images faded, the voices began. They started as a whisper and slowly grew to a cacophony of sound so intense I imagined I had put my hands over my ears in my sleep in an attempt to drown them out. They were condemning me. Friends and foes, family and servants alike. Mocking me and blaming me for all the ills they have endured. It was nothing less then I deserved. And then all was silent.
A bright light appeared and as I moved toward it I saw it was the face of my beloved, Treali. She never looked more beautiful. Her alabaster skin was aglow and her face was haloed by her flame red hair. I felt my heart shatter into pieces as I tried to cry out to her and found I had no voice. As she spoke to me her voice sounded distant and cold as if she was speaking to me from another world. "Norsalik, you have endured much but your true test is yet to begin. Embrace your destiny and become what you fear to be. It is all that can save you now..."
The image of her face faded and it was replaced by a shadowy form. As my minds eye focused on the shadow it took the shape of a blade nearly the height of a man. The great sword was so black that it seemed to be forged from the very essence of night. I could feel its power and something else. Sentience. It was alive and even though it made no sound it was calling to me. I extended my hand to grasp the hilt as the laughter began. It was the voice of my brother, Lochren. As the dream began to fade I heard him whisper, "You do not have the strength to face what is coming..."
I awoke with a start to find the dawn's glow beginning to kiss the tops of the palm trees. I was eager to be off as I wiped the sweat from my brow. Gumbah had been right once again. I was ready to face whatever he had in store for me or die trying.
As I made my way to the docks to await the airship that would take me back to Jeuno so I could continue on to Bastok, I pondered two things the dream had revealed to me. First, Treali was dead, and yet in spite of my sorrow I could not find the will to grieve for her because the second thing had set my hate seething. My brother was very much alive and I would not rest until I had rectified that situation.
Edited, Tue Nov 22 18:53:23 2005 by Norsalik