The terror of these past few weeks is almost more than I can bear; why is it that by writing words into this book I can somehow keep the madness at bay? Perhaps it is as if I’m confessing my sins to a silent companion, or freeing my mind of these tortured thoughts and confining them to paper. I began a journal before this one, but it remains in a place to which I cannot return. So I will start afresh. But this time, I will start from the true beginning.
It began with the finding of that cursed scythe in the mine they call Roland’s Doom. Yes, that was the start of it. Before that, the Defias Brotherhood was happy with our progress in Duskwood. Before the Scythe, the terrors of this place seemed as tame as Northshire Valley.
But ever since I found the haft of the Scythe jutting from that pile of rubble in the mine and, curse me, pulled it free, Roland’s Doom became a place of vile death!
If I had known what would happen, I would have cut off my own hand to keep from grasping that rune-carved wood. So many regrets! I always thought that was a privilege of the old. I now know that it is not the old – it is the hopeless – who don the mantle of regret, unable and unwilling to shrug it from shoulders stooped with misery.
But enough waxing like a pipe-mad poet. I must continue with the chronicle…
After the Scythe was freed, a change rippled through the mine. Light from our flickering torches warped, and the strength of our voices seemed beyond our control. Sometimes a man’s whisper roared through the tunnels forcing hands on ears, and sometimes our shouts barely traveled a few steps before diminishing into a hint on the wind.
Unnerving, yes, but we did not have long to wonder at this strangeness. It was but a harbinger of what truly drove us from the mine. The Worgen.
They came at us from everywhere, clawing from hidden holes at our feet and dropping upon us from silent perches above. Half our men fell in those first panicked minutes. The rest, including myself, tried to flee. As I ran I saw so many of my brothers taken by tooth and claw, heard so many screams cut short or gurgle to silence.
For all I know, I am the only human to escape that place.”
I can only guess why I survived that night. I have always been cautious, always quick to flinch from jabs and leap free of pitfalls. My nickname, Jitters, comes from this trait. So perhaps it was just that knack for caution that saved me…
Or maybe it was the Scythe I pulled from the rubble. It cannot be the Scythe itself, for I lost it during my frantic flight. But if it was I who brought the Worgen to Duskwood, then perhaps the Worgen afforded me a rare courtesy. Curse them.
Or perhaps, I am doomed to witness the change I wrought on Duskwood. Perhaps it is my fate to watch as the Worgen tear into this land, staining it ever darker with their foulness.
If that truly is my fate, then it is twofold. For the Worgen are not the only power to clutch at Duskwood – the fiends from Deadwind Pass have also staked claim.
That is the next chapter of my tale, and I pray it is the last…
After surviving the flight from Roland’s Doom, I hid within a barn owned by a man named Sven. I spent a few days in the barn, and such horror lingered with me that I never once made myself known to Sven or his family. But from what I saw from my hiding place, I knew these farmers were quite decent folk. Had I stepped from my concealment I think they would have taken me in, but trust is hard for me. Harder still after that shock in the mine.
So I remained hidden. And it saved my life.
A few days after I arrived at the barn, Sven left his farm for Darkshire. He kissed his wife and smiled to his children and promised to return soon with toys and sweets. The poor man. That was the last time he saw his family unmutilated.
At least they parted happily. And at least his wife was the first to die, and was freed from seeing the slaughter of her children. But these small graces do nothing for me. I saw what happened, and it will ever haunt my dreams.
My hand trembles as I recall the details of that night, when Sven was away and his family was doomed to face the Black Riders alone. Again regret claws at me, for I was there and could have risen against those fiends from Deadwind Pass. But it is a false regret. It is the same that plagues any survivor of a tragedy. I know that, had I left my place of hiding I too would have been killed, my body ripped and torn, and its pieces spread so widely that I would not be recognized.
But, even though I know I could have done nothing to stop this heinous murder, one true regret does remain: I brought the Black Riders to Sven’s farm. My discovery of the Scythe not only unleashed the Worgen upon Duskwood – it drew the Riders from Deadwind Pass.
I know this because, just before they began their slaughter they asked one question to Sven’s wife as she held her children close, giving them what comfort she could though she was certain death was near.
“The Scythe of Elune.” one of the Riders shrieked in a voice both harsh and shrill, like the grinding of an axe on stone. And the last word – Elune – it croaked, as if choking on the sound.
Dread gripped me when I heard that voice, both from the horrid sound of it, and because…I knew the Scythe of which the Rider spoke. It must be the same cursed thing I drew from the rocks of Roland’s Doom days before. It was what the Black Riders sought!
And it was what would kill Sven’s family.
I never learned the name of Sven’s wife, as she was only ever called “dearest,” and “my love,” and “mommy” by her husband and children. But I wish I knew it. I am the only living memory of her deed that day, and although she was just a farmer’s wife, never have I seen a man or woman act with such bravery.
Of course she did not know of the Scythe, but when she learned the Riders sought it, in an instant a plan formed in her head.
And it was bold and clever. If only it had worked.
“The Scythe?” she said in a calm voice. “Of course I do. Who here wouldn’t?” She looked at the Riders with steady eyes, and I would have sworn she spoke the truth if I had not known better. There was no way she could know about the Scythe.
Her gambit paid off. The same Rider who uttered the question before bent his head slightly toward her, and shrieked, “Where?”
“I’ll take you. All of you,” she said, and I could see a small hope flicker behind her eyes.
“But the way is far, and my children would slow us. We must leave them.”
Her trick was simple, but simple tricks have the best hope of success. If it worked, it would lead the Riders away from the farm. She would be lost, but her children would be safe. And it would work, if only the Riders believed her noble lies.
Although I have never been a student of the Light, I prayed fiercely for Sven’s wife as she stood against those terrible Riders.
“Please,” I prayed. “Let them believe.”
They stood, frozen, and she met their gazes with calm. Then one rider looked up, as if hearing a distant call. He drew from his garb a small gem and peered into it. He then gestured with the bauble toward Sven’s wife. A light crept from the Rider toward the woman, shaping itself into a grim, white hand. She stared into the light, unflinching, but I could see uncertainty behind her mask of confidence. When the hand reached her, it spread its fingers over her head.
And it squeezed.
Sven’s wife stood rigid as a board, and her eyes grew wide. And although her lips pulled back to mouth a scream, no sound escaped. Afte
r a few moments of this torture the hand released her, dropping her to her knees. The Rider who held the bauble then sat erect in his saddle, and
a loud voice erupted from it.
“This woman lies,” it said in a voice that has scarred my dreams. “She has not seen the Scythe.”
After this, the Rider’s shoulders stooped slightly, as if a spirit within him had fled. And then in the old, shrieking voice it used earlier, these final words were uttered:
“The Lord has spoken. Kill them.”
I cannot describe what happened next. It is clear in my mind, but even my wretched soul cannot put to paper the events of those next few, grisly minutes.
I can only write that Sven’s family was killed. And soon after, Sven returned to this grim, deathly scene. Such grief was in him that I was afraid to show myself. And so afraid was I that he would find me, I fled from my hiding spot in the barn. I do not know where Sven is now, but I pray he will, some day, find peace.
I spent the next few weeks moving from place to place, never lingering for fear of the Riders. I am now in the abandoned town of Raven’s Hill, as always, hiding. I cannot face whatever power they used against Sven’s wife, and I know it searches Duskwood, even still, for the Scythe. It is lost to me, and I thank the Light for this, for had I kept it I know I would have been found. Even now, I know in my heart that I will be found.
I’m so tired.
Book found at Raven Hill, Duskwood
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