Ere the World Crumbles
Borderer from southern Kush
Ramla was born to fight. Her talents were recognized by the village at an early age and so, from the time she was a small girl, she was trained by the best hunters and warriors her village had to offer. She was instructed in the ways of stealth, passing by enemies unseen, and striking from the shadows. Although her main weapon of choice was the bow and arrow, she was also skilled in using daggers to finish off her prey.
As Ramla grew, so did her thirst for power. She began to surpass those who taught her – easily taking down the most skilled champions in both her village and neighboring ones. She started to make quite a name for herself amongst the southern Kush tribes. She reveled in the glory of battle and the praise it brought and as her name began to spread, warriors from as far north as Shem started arriving at her village demanding duals and tests of skill. Ramla was glad to send every last one of them running home with their tails between their legs.
One day a desert nomad from Shem arrived at her village. The was nothing extraordinary about him – in fact, he looked somewhat thin and frail – an easy win for Ramla. The man was not interested in any sort of confrontation, however. Drawing a beautifully crafted bow from his shoulders, he said that he was more interested in a test of skill than one of strength. Ramla quickly agreed, eager to show off her bow and arrow prowess.
Targets were set up at varying distances ranging from 75ft to 200ft. To make thing more interesting, the targets were also set a varying heights: One on the ground, one on the trunk of a tree, and one high in the top foliage of the forest. Ramla stepped up to the mark first and readied her bow. “Good luck beating me, wanderer.” She said as the signal to start was given. Her form was spot on, her speed far exceeded any other archer from her land or those neighboring ones, and her grace and accuracy brought audible admiration from her audience. As she shot her last arrow, hoots and hollers came from her tribesman.
Stepping aside, Ramla let the nomad take up his position. He drew his bow slowly and steadily, aiming it at the first target. The start signal was given, but the nomad did not move. The crowd began to whisper but they did not take their eyes from the nomad archer. As they watched, a strange black aura began undulate around him. As the aura pulsated, the nomad let his first arrow fly, then a second, and a third, with such speed that, if his arrows had not blown straight through the targets, she would have doubted he had even moved at all. His arrows left smoking holes right through the centers of the targets, and in the case of the tree target, it had gone straight through the trunk.
The nomad stepped back, his aura fading. “Humans are weak, fallible. As humans we will never know the limitless power that divine beings posses. The closest we can come to the power of the gods is to partner with the divine and let them live through us…” With that, the Nomad placed the bow on his back and left the jungle village.
Ramla was furious over her loss. For months she refused to dual anyone else. Such a frail man who, under normal circumstances, would not have been able to beat her, was given the power to do so with a divine pact. Her tribe was always very careful about messing with the gods and demons of this world, but if there was such a creature who could give her super-human fighting abilities on top of her own sill, there would be no man or beast who could want in her way.
With that one thought in her mind, Ramla plunged through the dense jungle surrounding her village. “O spirits! I wish to make a bargain with you!” She yelled into the heavens. The spirits, however, were not quick to heed her request. She camped in the jungle for two weeks, living off the land. Every night she spoke to the spirits, hoping they would answer. At the beginning of the third week, she was starting to lose hope.
The night, however, she was visited by a fiercesome beast. As she stoked her fire, she noticed a pair of bright yellow eyes staring at her from the dense jungle brush. Jumping up, she quickly pulled the bow from her back, readying an arrow. “This is a battle you will not win, beast.” Ramla spoke to the creature.
“That is no way to greet a demon.” The creature growled. It slinked out of the brush, tail twitching, eyes aglow. Ramla was surprised to see that it was a giant panther. “I have come to give you what you’ve been asking for.” It said.
“You will…make a pact with me?” Ramla breathed. “I want the power to destroy all those who oppose me!”
Ramla returned to her village. There was no way she could lose now, not to anyone. She called the village chief from his hut and demanded that he round up the village’s best warriors to face her. She didn’t want a one-on-one dual – she wanted to face six warriors at once. The chief was wary, but made the order.
In the village square, Ramla faced six large warriors. They started toward her, spears and daggers in hand. She readied her own daggers, but held her ground. She closed her eyes and called forth the power leant to her by her demon pact. A black aura began to surround her and she felt a rush of power like she’d never felt before. Along with the power she felt a thirst…a thirst for the warriors’ destruction.
Ramla’s eyes flew open and she saw that the warriors had stopped in their tracks, staring at the aura around her. She used this opportunity to pounce on the closest man, easily slitting his throat. As she felt the man’s warm blood drip down her hands a crazy smile spread across her lips and she jumped to the next warrior.
The battle was over in a matter of minutes. Ramla was pleased with the carnage on the ground before her, but her thirst was not satisfied. Her eyes moved over the horrorstricken onlookers, picking out a young man from the audience. She ran at him with surprising speed, plunging her daggers into his gut. With another swipe of her blades, she took down an elderly man. She ran from person to person, easily taking them down, until she came to a small girl laying on the ground, crying in a puddle of blood. Ramla hesitated, the horror of what had just happened sinking in fast. Looking over her shoulder, she saw the massacre she had caused and tears began to stream down her face.
She heard a soft chuckle coming from the air beside her. The black aura coalesced into a shadow of a panther and said “This is what you wanted! Power! You felt the thirst!”
Ramala screamed at the demon. “I didn’t want it like this! I had absolutely no control over myself!” She stabbed at the shadow with her daggers, dispersing the demon into the air. She knew that she couldn’t face the horrors she created, and so she ran north to find a way to rid herself of the demon and right the demons within herself.
JOURNAL ENTRY 1: 15 day of the crone, year of the Ape
Since leaving the village my one goal has been to find someone capable of getting rid of the demon parasite within my body. The road has been rough and it has been difficult to keep my mental and physical states in balance. They seem to fluctuate on the whims of the demon.
My journey to the city of Kush proved to be a fruitful one. Within the city walls is a high priest – one who is willing to destroy the demon that ravages my body. At this point, the series of events that led to our meeting are inconsequential. As payment for the exorcism, the priest has asked a thief, a guard, and myself to recover an urn from him.
The temple where the urn is located has proven to be well guarded by ancient protectors. Thankfully my two companions seem to be familiar with the riddles of the guards. The temple also seems to hold more secrets than just the urn. There appears to be a place called the ‘Fountain of Healing’ within the temple that, God’s willing, we will be able to find. Could it heal my body and get rid of the demon without the aid of the high priest?