AoA 03: We Remember

[author’s note: With any Age of Ashes posts, check out this blurb for some background. I should also say that if you happen to be a Pathfinder 2 player and interested in the campaign, proceed with caution because there are spoilers in these cut scenes! This was Jethro’s third haunting vision so far.]

 

Jethro Vermillion found himself standing at the edge of a makeshift graveyard. Clouds stirred peacefully overhead. Crows called out, unseen, from distant trees. The high walls of Citadel Altaerein loomed in the background, casting into shadow the plot of land with its simple stone grave markers.

He stroked his beard thoughtfully, frowning at the figure standing within the graveyard.

Alak Stagram was as Jethro had last seen him, his once-handsome face now half-peeled of its skin, skull leering beneath. His matte plate armor, once pristine, was now scratched and dented from claws and weapons. The undead armiger, one eye plucked from its socket, attempted to smile. At least Jethro thought it was a smile, though the horrifying, blood-slicked visage was the stuff of nightmares.

“Jethro, yes?” Alak’s voice was surprisingly the same as in life, rich and dripping with highbrow disdain. “I’m afraid I never learned your family name.”

Jethro tried to answer but found himself unable to speak. His frown deepened.

“Skeleton got your tongue, perhaps? Well, no matter. I suspect this,” he waved a ravaged hand into the air, “conversation will be as brief as our acquaintance. Tell me, were you ever able to find my family’s signet ring?”

Jethro nodded.

“Was it within the back vault? Perhaps in a drawer with a false bottom?”

He nodded again.

The skeletal warrior sighed and slumped his shoulders. “Yes, after searching the first level I suspected my mother would hide it there. She spoke of that room, sometimes, and that drawer. For all their love of order, the Hellknights do love their secrets. Perhaps the apple does not fall far from Asmodeus’ tree, eh? In any case, do bury the ring with my remains, if you please. I literally died for that thing.”

Alak straightened and fixed Jethro with his remaining eye. “It seems I was somewhat of a fool for not accompanying you into the citadel vaults, a mistake for which I cannot atone. My impatience got the better of me. Alas. Alas.”

The soil to Alak’s right began to stir, and a frog-like hand pushed its way from below. The hand searched for purchase. Alak followed Jethro’s glance.

“Aha. As promised, our conversation will be brief. In a matter of days, priest of Sarenrae, the bodies have piled up beneath you and your merry band.”

Jethro’s eyes widened as multiple corpses now pulled themselves free of their graves. There were frog-like boggards and monkey-like charau-ka, and a small legion of skeletons with their glowing purple eyes. Behind Alak, a furry arm of a bugbear began pulling its owner from the soil, a dirt-caked dagger clutched in her hand.

“I would caution you, priest. Your merry band is running headlong towards an apocalypse, an event that could scar the world. And when it happens, when that Age of Ashes, as it were, is upon you…”

Many corpses had pulled themselves free, still bearing their mortal wounds. Slashes from swords and magical burns marred the creatures. Some seemed to have holes the size of goblin fists through their throats and chests. They assembled behind Alak silently, dead eyes fixed on Jethro. With each moment that passed, more bodies filled out the ranks of the graveyard.

“…well, when that times comes…” Alak shrugged, opening his hands wide. “We remember.”

White lightning crackled overhead, and Jethro saw that what was once an overcast sky had become the angry threat of a storm. Colors flashed in the clouds: red, green, and blue.

The wet, black soil surged up and around Alak and his surrounding zombies, violently pushing them high into the air. The rumble of the erupting earth echoed in thunder overhead.

And then, towering over Jethro, was the form of an enormous creature, like a worm or snake made from the graveyard soil. Dotting its length were the bodies of the dead, with Alak Stagram at what would be the creature’s forehead, the armiger’s arm, shoulder and mangled head visible. The graveyard worm loomed over twenty feet high, swaying and dripping both soil and ichor at Jethro’s feet.

“WE REMEMBER!” announced all the heads in the creature, human and boggard and monkey and skeleton and bugbear as one. The voices then screamed wordlessly in defiance and anger, the sound like the roar of a dragon, as the worm-like creature opened its maw and struck down at Jethro.

 

 

Tangled in sweat-soaked sheets, Jethro Vermillion screamed into the morning darkness, the dragon’s roar still echoing in his ears.

One thought on “AoA 03: We Remember

  1. Marcia Salazar

    Please don’t stop as I’m getting into reading about the anticipated battle! I did make copies for Sharry but haven’t given them to her yet and I I will ask her not to share or print. Let me know before Thursday if that’s not OK. Love you much! 😘

    Sent from my iPhone

    Like

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