From the writings of Abd al-Hazir (Entry no. 0042)
I knew the cultists had found me when I saw the bloody, curved knife stabbed violently into my door this morning. I have spent months trying to ease the fevered imaginings that have tormented me since that encounter a scant few months past, but to no avail. And now they know who I am.
There is an absolute and oppressive darkness to be found only in the deep wilderness at night. Thus, when I saw the distant light of fire while making my way through the thick Tristram forest, I welcomed the company of fellow travelers. As I approached, however, something even darker than the unlit forest crept over me. So horrendous was this feeling that I thought to turn away until the sound of chanting reached my ears and drew me onward. I thank whatever gods blessed me with the presence of mind to stop short of entering that unholy place whence the sound originated. Instead, I sought out a well-hidden vantage point from which I could look upon the frigid clearing that seemed violently torn from the depths of the forest.
That was when I first saw them, the dark cultists, arrayed in a circle. Their torches lit the macabre proceedings in a pallid light that danced over their garish rune-covered robes. I had heard tales of these hooded cultists and their depraved rituals, and I must admit to some curiosity upon seeing them. As their chanting droned on, I thought to make my escape lest they see me, but my attention was riveted by a pale, vacant-eyed supplicant being led forward. I do not know if he was of limited mental capacity, lost in religious mania, or simply drugged, but he was definitely not sound of mind as he knelt in the center of the thrumming circle.
|Dark Cultists in a summoning ritual|
As another spike was readied, I knew I could watch no more. I trembled with the thought of those nails being driven into me should I be caught. I averted my gaze as I heard the revolting squish of another spike sunk into willing flesh. My eyes fell on the robe of the lead cultist. The intricate runes woven into his robe undulated and swirled in sickening movement. As I watched, horrified, I could feel my sanity crumbling away. I began to back away from the wicked tableau, forcing myself to move slowly while my mind screamed for me to flee with abandon. When I could contain myself no longer, I broke into a full run, not caring what sound I made. I ran until I collapsed. And then, as soon as I was able, I staggered to my feet and ran some more.
Not long ago, I wrote of my disappointment that New Tristram lacked the palpable dread its reputation led one to expect. I wish that I had not tempted fate with my quick words. Disappointment is much preferable to stark terror, and terror was what I stumbled into that night.
Since returning home, I have been feverishly researching those demon-enthralled cultists in an effort to ease my mind, to assure myself that I had not actually seen what I had, but every whispered, frightened tale only deepens the chill that has seized me. I do not know which of my actions alerted them, but my worst fears have been realized. I have been marked.
This is the last known writing of Abd al-Hazir. Known for his compilation of weird and wonderful facts about our unique world, he has unfortunately been missing since late last year.