A darkness wrapped in a perceived bastion of hope, I am not the savior people cry for…
I never knew my mother, and my father Arwyn Auvrea’mitore only spoke of her in brief moments of fanatical glee. His eyes would grow hungry and alight with dark fervor as he said we would return to her someday soon. I never knew her name, or what she looked like, but he would often speak of her with other worldly traits. My mind called forth images of powerful auras of destruction and darkness following in her wake. A mixture of fear and anticipation was present when the reverie of my Mother was brought up in darkened adoration.
My father was a Lieutenant in our kingdom’s army, but in secret he was also a cleric and priest of the Dark Goddess Adristea, often leaving me for the heat of battle so that he could slay those enemies he fought against. He would return with daggers, swords, and banners covered in blood to add to a shrine he’d built in supplication to his dark Goddess. He would tell me of the great battles I would lead someday, of the inspiration and devotion to Adristea I would command of those whom followed him into battle in the name of her divine unholiness.
Throughout my life, Arwyn insisted that I learned all the martial fighting that I could manage so that I could join our brethren in battle. I found that I was quite adept at learning martial training, and the anticipation of taking the lives of my enemies only made me want to learn more.
On the eve of my 16th name day, Arwyn summoned me from our home to the battlements of his command unit. The next morning there would be a huge battle to route an orc horde. I believed with all my being that I would be fighting next to my father, claiming glory in the name of our kingdom Queliandan and Adristea. On this night, my father had me bathe in oils and had the priests of Adristea pray over me so that I would be fit for the next day’s battle…
Awakened before dawn, Arwyn and his priests led me to his traveling shrine. My father smiled at me with fanatical glee
“Today, Ari’deth, you make your mother and me very proud.”
Arwyn had that darkened feverish smile he got when he spoke of my mother. I looked about and saw that his shrine had been fastened into a type of giant war banner for Queliandan all of the trophies were there such as the tusk of an orcish hero named Gel’Tholk and the dualist Tyrenas Deathbane’s falchion.
At the high center of the banner was a cross… the shoulder positions were wrong though, they were inverted. The war standard had banners that were unfamiliar, as they were black, with the sinuous image of red flames. I gasped and looked towards my father who had clasped his gauntleted hands together and nodded for his guards to grab me.
Before I could run, I was forced to my knees with my arms wrenched behind my back. They fed me some sort of herb that made it so that I could not move, but still heightened all of my senses. Before my mind could further register what was happening, some of the priests began to punch and kick, each hit connecting with vital parts of my body. The pain was excruciating, and I could not escape it. They took daggers, and made shallow cuts to my flesh, ensuring that I would not pass out. My blood was everywhere, and I was in terror. All the while, my father looked upon my torture with a sublime smile, and in that moment, I’d never hated anyone as much as I hated him.
After inflicting me with as much torture as I could handle, they took me to the banner, and nailed me to it, making sure that I was to be crucified upside down. Arwyn then praised me for all of the divine inspiration and glory I would bring for Adristea’s legion. He began to glow with an unholy light.
As they began lifting the banner, Arwyn stepped forth and raised his hands in front of him and said, “A glorious death for you, my son, and you shall awaken in the realm of shadows, after our victory…”
A flash of fire, and suddenly there was commotion all about us. My body screamed with pain as the banner dropped and the sound of battle ensued. My blood seeped out slowly, and my strength began to wane.
“The horde!” soldiers screamed about me,
And as if in contradiction, somewhere in the distance I heard “For Queen Aza’nis Tyr’rae!…” and “For Lady Cyleria!” Invoking the pride of the queen, and claiming glory in the name of the Moon Goddess.
Before losing consciousness, I remembered seeing a beautiful woman kneeling over me with fair hair flowing and a radiant aura about her.
Of a dark realm, in which, I knelt before a dark Goddess on a throne, a sinister presence about her. She sat atop her throne with regal grace as she stared down at me.
I knelt before her, in black plate mail, shadows coursing about me, with black wings, spun from shadow, sprouting from my back. I was one with the darkness that swarmed, I coursed with the strength of death about and within me.
“I am yours to command, my Goddess.”
The sickening churn of my stomach rolled, as I willed myself to kneel.
How could I be hers to command? I am not a death knight, I cannot allow her access to my soul, and yet the presence of Adristea and shadow signified home.
She smiled and reached out for me to approach her throne, and ascend to her side. Before she could say anything I heard a familiar voice.
“Ari’deth, wake-up, come back to us!” The voice commanded with righteous power.
There were healing hands upon my body, bathing me in a balm of healing light. Soothing the battlements of pain within my battered body.
I reached out for the dark Goddess, while the divine light pulled me away. I fought to stay at her side, but could not will my body to stay.
I awoke to the face of my rescuer… Ylyna Fera’nis. She was a holy knight from the Goddess Cyleria, and commander of our kingdom’s army.
“Your father has committed treason upon the kingdom, and I have been charged with bringing him to justice.” She informed.
I held fear in my heart, for I didn’t know if I would be also be brought to justice. I had followed my father willingly into battle and for that I should have been just as guilty as my father.
“I sense a great power and light within you, however, I also sense an equal darkness. I have been commanded by Lady Cyleria to take you into our ranks, and be your guide.” She stated as though she’d read my mind.
In that moment, I vowed vengeance against my father and against Adristea. In the years that followed, Ylyna taught me the true arts of combat and weapons. Guiding me in the ways of our holy order of knights.
As the years passed, I gained the ability to heal through my hands, and a preternatural strength that impressed my peers and superiors. However, in secret, I found that I also had the ability to drain the life from anyone I touched. I wielded the powers of life and death.
Though I vowed vengeance, I would occasionally suffer an affliction of the dream, or variations, of being before who I’d come to know as the Goddess Adristea. She would bestow powers upon me, even knowing that I’d vowed my life against her. Though she never truly spoke, she would show me her dark realm, promising boons and power over the dead and the dark. I knew, deep inside, the truth… I was hers, and in some way, I believed I was her son and heir.
I am not the hero you should call for.