Drada’s Story #1
Drada stood steadfast in the Dyndaer, a hundred miles east of Mithra and hundreds of miles from the Uvil capital of Dauthaz. She wrapped the kamri tight around the bluish skin of her face. The cloth kept all but her eyes hidden. Her eyes were dutiful and without fear.
At her feet was Eryet, her companion. The man had left with her from Mithra as the Speaker had ordained. The dead ancestors of the Uvil had foretold the coming of death. She and Eryet were to find death’s name before it reached the lands of Haemus Mons – before it could threaten the Uvil people. It appeared that death would first claim Eryet.
Two days ago, a poison dart had pierced through Eryet’s cheek days during a battle with the Lilitu caravan. What was intended to be a simple raid for food rations soon turned into the two of them fleeing for their lives. It had done little good for Eryet. Neither of them had the skill to rid the body of the poison, and its effects were seemingly permanent.
Drada would not shed a tear for her companion. She had her duty and she had her honor. She was Uvil.
“It is time…” Eryet choked. His pale white skin was etched with black veins as the poison did what it was crafted to do.
Drada simply kneeled to his side without word.
Drada wasted no time, pulling the token with the engraved symbol from Eryet’s neck. It slid from the leather cord with ease into her open palm. It was his Linga.
Following the sacred tradition of her people, she pushed the token into Eryet’s mouth and helped him swallow it whole. The coin would house his soul in the afterlife. Without consuming it, Eryet would be transformed into the hideous Preta. A fate only given to the unhonorable.
Eryet sputtered as the token clogged his throat and he harshly swallowed over and over again. In short time, the token was downed.
As her companion let loose his final breath, she rose to her feet.
Drada moved forward into the Dyndaer, never looking back at her fallen comrade. It was here, in a forest as dark as the grave that she must find death’s name. She had her duty. She had her honor. She knew only truth. She was Uvil.
Drada’s Story #2
[Eryet has passed from the world, ceremoniously swallowing his Linga as all Uvil do that are honorable. Drada has moved forward into the strange, enigmatic forest of the Dyndaer looking for the name of death.]
The bases of the trees were thicker than three men and nearly ten times as tall. The branches at the tops were intertwined and dense, blocking out any light from reaching the foliage beneath. Drada squinted into the murky world of the Dyndaer, looking for what the Speaker may have recognized as death. To her, death was everywhere in this strange land.
Drada stepped heavily in the undergrowth, feeling awkward in the hazy fog that swirled around her feet and the overlaying moss and muck. Even the air was putrid, barely blocked by the kamri that covered her face. It was clear that she was no longer in the desert or the protective shelter of the mountain.
Her foot laid weight against another branch, snapping it in two. The crunching noise was followed quickly by a heavy blowing sound and clacking of what sounded like teeth. She had startled something in the forest.
Drada twisted to her left towards the sound, pulling the sovna from her back. She was well trained with the spear-shaped weapon with the long blade at the end. However, she preferred the sheshtoper at her side, designed for bashing in the skull of her enemies with the heavy, six-sided mace head. In this wilderness, she did not know what to expect.
Drada stood still as a large bear, black as pitch, growled and moved around the clearing. The animal was huge in comparison to the short woman even on all fours. Its claws were the length of her forearm, and its pinpointed teeth were nearly twice that.
The Uvil stood her ground. Her people did not retreat, and they knew no fear.
The animal took sight of her instantly. The beast roared, standing up to its full height, three times taller than Drada.
Drada remained motionless, keeping her sovna at the ready. She had coming looking for death. It was very possible that it had found her instead.
Drada’s Story #3
[Drada stands face to face with a giant bear in the mysterious Dyndaer. With her companion, Eryet, already dead, she stands alone.]
The bear shuffled forward on its two feet and roared again at the Uvil woman, displaying its gigantic teeth. Drada did not budge, refusing to be intimidated by this ignorant beast.
“Come at me…” she hissed through her bared teeth. The Uvil were a superior race of people and did not bend to any man, beast or otherwise. As if the bear had heard her invitation, it dropped to all fours and charged. The bundle of muscle and fur barreled towards her with the intent to kill.
Drada was at a disadvantage in the wooded terrain, but she calculated this in her movement. The bear swiped with massive claws, but she was too fast. Where her neck had been only a moment before, it snapped down with fanged teeth. Already on her toes, Drada sidestepped and ducked and swatted away the bear’s attacks with her sovnya. Drada moved so spectacularly that it appeared she had been raised in the forest all her life instead the barren lands of the desert. The blade grazed the bears fur, leaving but a scratch on the skin of the ferocious beast. It roared in frustration at the smaller Uvil, but did not take the hint of the deadly weapon.
Drada rolled to the side and directed the sovnya by the butt of the staff, slicing the blade upwards against the bear’s side. Blood spilled. The creature bellowed in pain and stood once more to its full height.
The cut was not deep enough to lay loose its insides. The bear growled as it took its turn with an attack, hitting the sovna and tearing it free from Drada’s grasp. The weapon was flung into the foliage and quickly was hidden from sight. Drada did not bother looking for it, wasting no time in pulling loose her parnach from her belt. She stepped in close and swung her mace weapon into the thick leg of the bear. A kneecap cracked and the bear collapsed, swinging its clawed paw wildly at Drada as it fell. The strength of the Uvil was impressive compared to the large beast. Drada was in control now and had nothing more to fear from this beast. She struck the animal again across the jaw, breaking the bone. The animal cried in pain, desperately trying to fend off the more intelligent Uvil.
As Drada lifted her weapon to finish the bear for certain, a strong gust of wind flung Drada backwards, causing her to roll across the ground and into the base of a nearby tree. The wind was knocked from her lungs, but she was conscious. Even without breath, she sprang back to her feet to face the attacker.
In front of her stood a man. Oddly enough, his face was hidden by what appeared to be a thick, red membrane that went from the top of his skull to the base of his chin and clung to his face like wet cloth. However, this is not what struck Drada as strange. She gasped as she realized that the man was entirely naked outside of the makeshift cloak of animal skin and leaves that was slung over his shoulders.
The man raised his finger towards the Uvil threateningly, his mouth moving and words muffled beneath the red caul, “What right do you have to hurt the creatures in my forest?”
Drada recognized the common language of the Anshedar, although this man obviously was not a Highborn, and adjusted her speech accordingly, “As much right as the creature has to hurt me.”
The man sneered, “You step into its home. As a stranger, you have no right!”
Drada gripped the parnach in her hand, “Are you its protector? What are you?”
“I am called Broheir. I am Stuhia. I protect the Dyndaer from any that would cause it or its inhabitants harm…It is no matter. You have demonstrated your intention. Prepare to die.”
Drada had never heard of the Stuhia before, but she did know one thing. If she truly was going to die, it would be with honor through battle. “I’ve been prepared for death since my birthing. I know the color of my blood, Broheir. Let us find the color of yours, Stuhia.”
Broheir remained quiet, seemingly at ease in front of the woman. Considering that Drada had quickly bested the beast, this could only suggest that the man was extremely powerful or extremely foolish. Considering that Broheir was flaunting himself suggested the latter. Drada could only think that a few whacks to the Stuhia’s skull would set him right or set him free from his madness.
Drada’s Story #4
[After nearly destroying the bear, Drada is suddenly faced with a Stuhia that calls himself Broheir. The man indicated that it is his duty to protect the Dyndaer from those that bring it harm, and therefore intends to prevent Drada from carrying out her quest of finding the name of death.]
Drada gripped the parnach and eyeballed Broheir. The Stuhia had not appeared to flinch a muscle. With a battle cry, Drada raised her weapon and attempted to charge at the half-naked man.
Before she had taken two steps, a thick green, vine sprang from the trees and gripped her wrist that held her weapon. In shock, she dropped the parnach as a second vine twisted around her other arm. As expected two more tore through the ground and wrapped around her ankles, holding her tight. Drada jerked and twisted her body in attempts to free herself, but the grip of the plants were much too strong.
Broheir kneeled to the bear, placing his hand upon the creatures. The bear groaned in pain, its life slipping away. “I told you that you would die.”
Drada grunted in frustration.
Broheir put his other hand upon the forest floor. Red energy materialized in the form of light beneath his hand that laid against the ground, while his hand upon the bear glowed a dark yellowish color. Nearby, a tree began to wilt and die. At the same time, the bear’s jaw realigned and the cut upon its side began to mend. This Stuhia was able to transfer the energy from living thing to another, miraculously healing the injured animal. Drada could do very little but gasp in amazement. This sorcery was not seen among the Uvil.
As the bear regained its strength, Drada’s attention turned to the vine at her ankle that began to jerk and vibrate as though someone were tugging at it. She stared in amazement as the vine began to tear away in the center as though it were being cut through. In a matter of moments, the vine snapped and her foot was freed.
“Wha – “
“Quiet!” a shrill voice shrieked from below.
Drada sprang her eyes to the Stuhia who continued to heal the bear. He had not taken notice.
When Drada looked to her opposite ankle that was nearly freed, she noticed a small face form in thin air. Looking up at her was a hideous little face, crimson in color. The eyes were offset on either side of a hooked nose that stretched over thin lips. The ears were long and pointed over the tops of a small head, barely bigger than that of a child’s. The creature grinned creepily as it continued to cut through the vine.
“You will be free soon enough. Just stay quiet or Broheir will hear – “
“Wrylyc! What are you doing?”
The creature known as Wrylyc fully appeared, squating on his knees in green and brown clothes that were not much more than rags. He was no bigger than a child! The makeshift knife that he held in his hand quickly cut through the vine around Drada’s other ankle.
Without responding to Broheir, Wrylyc simply grinned a mischevious grin and did a little somersault on the ground, placing himself between the Stuhia and Uvil. He jumped and twisted around toward Drada. In a fluid movement, two knives were flung from his hands and simultaneously cut through the two vines that held her hands.
“Wrylyc!” Broheir screamed.
Wrylyc stuck his tongue out at the Stuhia and disappeared once more from sight.
Drada wasted no time grabbing her parnach from the ground, and stood to face Broheir and the bear that had been returned to full strength. She hoped that this Wrylyc had not gone far.
Drada’s Story #5
[Drada, the Uvil, has been freed by Wrylyc and once more faces Broheir and the bear in battle. Drada charges forward fearlessly.]
Drada twirled her parnach over in her right hand and charged towards the Stuhia and the bear. The Stuhia fired a lightning bolt that easily missed the charging Uvil woman as she covered the ground between them. In a matter of seconds, she was at the side of the man in the cloak. Ignoring the bear, Drada sprang toward Broheir with the intent of destroying him in a single blow. She raised her weapon and slammed it sideways into his side. Ribs cracked under the weight of the iron macehead. Broheir grunted in surprise, his breath fleeing his lungs.
The bear behind her twisted around awkwardly, and Broheir stood stunned, giving Drada the opportunity to strike again. This time, she grabbed a the kinzhal [dagger] off of her belt sheathe and jutted it upwards into the man’s exposed genitals. If Broheir wasn’t shocked before, he definitely was now. He collapsed to his knees and cried out. Blood poured down his thighs.
The bear reared, hitting Drada in the back with its claw. Her yushman armor, made of metal plates, reduced the impact of the blow but the power behind the swipe still sent Drada reeling forward. She tripped and fell into the brush onto her chest, but only for a moment.
Jumping to her feet, she turned to face the bear that had already started to charge. The parnach was still in her hand, but it was not made for throwing. The kinzhal was more likely, but it had been left inside of Broheir’s loins, and the curved blade unbalanced the dagger as a throwing weapon. Searching the area for another option, her eyes spotted her sovnya laying several feet away in the foilage. The bladed staff was too far to reach before the bear was upon her. The situation was futile.
Suddenly, the bear tripped with a painful whimper, collapsing and rolling over itself towards Drada. Behind the bear, Wrylyc appeared with his weapons, the poyasni, in each hand, bloodied from cutting the hindquarters of the bear. Drada took the opportunity. As the bear skidded to a halt, Drada rushed forward and buried her parnach into the skull of the bear. She would like to see the Stuhia cure that wound.
“Well done!” Wrylyc clapped gleefully.
Drada ignroed the small creature and snatched up her sovnya. She walked confidently towards Broheir. The Stuhia had surely never felt so much pain. He held himself upright on his knees with both hands wrapped around the handle of the knife. He appeared confused as to whether he should free the blade or leave it within his flesh. His tear-filled eyes raised towards the Uvil as she approached without mercy.
“You will not – “
Drada did not let him finish. With a smooth swipe of her bladed staff, she took off his head. And then she collected her knife.
“Oh!” Wrylyc looked wide eyed at the scene of death in amazement, rocking slightly on his heels. The red creature looked odd with one eye larger than the other with bizarre child-like features. That was probably the best way to describe him. He was a combination of a child and a demon.
“Why did you help me?” Drada asked without looking at the hideous thing.
Wrylyc shrugged, “I wanted to see what you were.”
Drada furrowed her brow, “What are you?”
“I am Kras.”
“And, what exactly is that?”
Wrylyc scrunched up his nose as though he were confused by the question, “It is me, I suppose.”
Drada shook her head. The answer was more of a riddle than a response. Regardless, it was too much for her to think about and she had not the time.
Wrylyc scooted closer, using his arms and legs to move, as though he were crawling, “What are you?”
“I am Uvil. I am called Drada.”
“I have not seen your kind in the Dyndaer before.”
“I am looking for … death,” Drada said, giving explanation for her presence. With that, she started off into the forest.
Wrylyc was intrigued as he looked at the corpse of the bear and of the Stuhia. It only took a moment of reflection before he scampered after Drada, eager to see what adventure might cross her path.
Drada’s Story #6
[Drada and Wrylyc have defeated the Stuhia, known as Broheir, and now continue deeper into the Dyndaer. Attempting to understand the woman from the desert and her motives, The two try desperately to understand one another.]
Wrylyc hopped over a fallen branch, and scurried after Drada. The Kras did not make a sound as he moved, unlike the Uvil warrior that strode through the brush as though she would tear down the forest with each step. The Kras’ eyes darted around the forest looking for signs of danger.
“How is it that you have no purpose, Wrylyc?” Drada said, quickly glancing at Wrylyc.
The demonic child shrugged with a skip, answering the question with a question, ”What would I do with purpose?”
“You would live your life.”
“I am living now.”
Drada shook her head and gripped her sovnya tightly as she pushed forward through the trees. The Kras’ logic was peculiar to her, and did not help her in fulfilling her responsibilities.
“But you are not living with meaning to your life,” Drada muttered. She tried again, “Wrylyc, there must be something that you aim to accomplish, something you wish to prevail over…”
“Because I am bound to help you. If I must, I will gladly give my life for you have risked your life to save my own. We are bound, you and I, until I have repaid the gesture. It is the Uvil way.”
Wrylyc scrunched up his nose, and wiped his sleeve across his face as he walked alongside of Drada. The full gravity of what Drada was aiming at struck him, “You would die for me?”
“No one dies for a Kras. We die for others as we have for thousands of years. Your life – any life – is worth more than mine.”
“As true as that may be,” Drada said, knowing the Uvil were greater than the other races, “It is what it is.”
Drada grunted from beneath her kamri, her blue skin wrinkled around the eyes in frustration. “You must not dishonor me, Wrylyc. I owe you my life.”
“Can I free you from your burden?”
“No. Not anymore than you can prevent the sun from rising.”
Wrylyc grinned, finding humor in her words.
Drada tried again, “So, again I ask you. What is your purpose?”
The Kras hopped over another branch, spinning in a circle after he landed. He then ran forward several steps to keep pace with Drada. “My purpose is to figure out your purpose.”
“Wrylyc, that doesn’t make any sense. I already told you that I seek the name of death.”
Wrylyc shrugged, “I want to know what that means.”
Drada stopped for a moment to look at the little odd creature. He stopped with her and looked at her with his unparralled black eyes that shined like gems. It may be that the Uvil could never understand the Kras, but his words sunk deep.
She dipped her head, accepting that the only way to repay the debt was for him to stick with her and her with him, “Me too, Wrylyc. Me too.”
Drada’s Story #7
[Drada and Wrylyc delve deeper into the Dyndaer. With each passing step, the world around them grows bleaker and more dangerous. Wrylyc , familiar with the dark forest, does his best to aid the Drada through the strange terrain.]
“Not that way!” Wrylyc squeals, grabbing the right leg of Drada and pulling her back. “That will lead you straight into the bog. Only death that way!”
“Wrylyc!” Drada muttered irritably, pushing him off of her leg. “If this is where death is, then this is where I must go! I am looking for death, remember?”
Wrylyc shook his head, “Not this death!”
Drada ignored the half-sized man and pushed forward past moss and grime and vines that clouded the forest ahead. If there were ever a marked path in the Dyndaer, Drada had long abandoned it. She used her sovnya to clear the path ahead as best as she was able.
Wrylyc tiptoed lightly behind her.
“Have you ever come this way before, Wrylyc?” Drada asked.
“Not when I have the choice.”
“You have the choice now,” Drada said.
Wrylyc pierced his lips, looking the Uvil that determinedly pushed forward.
“Doesn’t seem that way.”
“Why – “
A beast the size of Wrylyc leaped from the brush onto Drada’s back. Its body was yellowish and molded with wide pinkish eyes. Its ears were floppy and leathery on either side of its bald head, hanging just below its cheeks. Screeching and hissing, it raised two hands full of clawed fingernails, sharper than knives, and jammed them through the armor of the Uvil.
As the nails pierced into Drada’s flesh, the sovnya let loose from her hands and she screamed in agony. The creature echoed the sound of Drada’s scream, hanging on tightly. The Uvil woman spun around in circles reaching for the small beast, finding no way to loosen it from her back.
“Wrylyc,” she cried.
The Kras acted quickly, throwing one of his daggers directly into the creature’s back. The blade seemed to have no effect on its grip on Drada. He threw the second. The poyasni found its mark, and again, the monster did not loosen its grip.
Drada felt herself forced to stumble to the side, as the creature jerked its claws in her back. It manipulated her movements slightly with its claws deep in her muscles. When she resisted, her flesh tore and bled. Drada twisted to grab the monster only to be forced forward another step.
“You mustn’t go forward,” Wrylyc screamed, “The myling aims to drown you in the bog!”
As if on cue, the myling on Drada’s began to expand in size gaining girth. Drada groaned, bearing the weight on her back. Once over the bog, it would grow many times its size, using its weight to push its victim to the bottom. Its claws sank deeper into Drada.
Never had the Uvil felt so helpless. “Wrylyc…help me…”
Wrylyc stared helplessly at his two weapons that penetrated the myling that hung well beyond his reach. He was limited due to his own strength and size. He only had one option to save the Uvil woman. He just hoped she did not make a big deal out of it!
Drada’s Story #8
[Drada is being attacked by a myling near a bog in the Dyndaer. The myling, being up on the back of the Uvil, is out of reach of the smaller Wrylyc. The Kras has already sunk both of his poyasni in the beast, but it has done little good against the creature's thick skin.]
Drada was forced forward by the myling. Its claws were deep within her muscles, controlling her movements, leaving her helpless. She stumbled into the soggy, blackened waters of the bog. Drada’s feet sank into the wet mud and the myling grew in size again on her back. If she lost her balance she would drown with the weight of the creature upon her back. She remained as stiff as she could, but her knees wanted to buckle under the weight of the yellowish beast.
The Uvil were a strong people, full of glory and honor. She had her duty. Never before had she asked for help, especially from such an insignificant creature. Twice she would owe the Kras!
The Kras raised his hands towards Drada. From thin air, a large black wolf leaped from the dirt and towards the myling and sunk its teeth into the moldy flesh. The weight of the wolf threw Drada down into the swampy waters.
“Oh no!” Wrylyc screamed, realizing what he had done.
Dark water splashed in the air as the myling screeched and the wolf gnashed its teeth at the smaller beast. In an instant, the wolf disappeared as quickly as it had come and the myling still had its grip. Wrylyc did not have the strength to make the wolf permanent! The Kras could not even see Drada now, as she was held under the water.
The myling grew greater in size. It’s back bulged over the water’s surface.
Wrylyc looked around momentarily, trying to weigh his options. He definitely could not go thrashing about in the bog or he might find a myling on his back too!
He summoned another wolf.
The second sprang from the water, resembling the same as the first. Its black fur was matted against its skin with red eyes turned upward with ferocity. The wolf gripped the myling in its powerful jaws and flung its head back and forth like a wild dog.
The myling twisted against the wolf as its bled flowed down its skin. Yellow chunks of flesh drooped from the myling’s body. The wolf and myling wrestled in the waters, rolling over and over in the muck. The myling never loosened its grip, taking the Uvil with it. Drada surfaced for a moment, gasping for breath before she was turned over into the swamp once again.
“Kill it!” Wrylyc bounced on the edge of the water. “Drada! Drada!”
He summoned a third wolf and a fourth. The beasts joined the wrestling match in the bog as the second wolf disappeared. Wrylyc continued to cheer for his summoned beasts to rip the myling to shreds. He seemed to be growing mad, laughing ridiculously, as he summoned a fifth, sixth, and seventh wolf. The wolves continued to erupt from the water. An eighth. Ninth. Tenth. Each tearing a chunk out of the myling and disappearing again and again.
In less than two minutes, Wrylyc was holding his stomach and giggling on the ground. Pieces of the myling were scattered about with scattered pools of blood. Drada was nowhere to be seen.
Wrylyc reached for a pouch on his belt and snatched a vial with blue liquid from a leather loop. He quickly drank it down. In a matter of seconds, his sanity seemed to return, although his body grew weaker after consumption.
He sat up quickly and looked at the bog with an expectant look in his eye, “Drada?”
Drada’s Story #9
[The battle with the myling had ceased, and Drada was no closer to identifying the name of death. Wrylyc sat on the edge of the bog, curiously staring at the muck and waiting for the Uvil to surface.]
Blood mixed with the grime and mud oozed from the depths of the bog. Drada was not completely dead, but she was close to it. She sank beneath the surface of the swampy waters. Her armor was shredded at the back, her flesh was torn, and her blood seeped outward from her body. She struggled for her life, attempting to kick her legs but any strength she may have had was gone. Drada was left in her last moments only with her thoughts.
The Speaker had commanded that she come find the name of death in the Dyndaer. Hundreds of miles she had traveled only to fail in the task. Death would reach her people and reign terror on her lands. She was Uvil. She was not allowed to fail. And yet…her life slipped away before she had done her deed.
Realizing that death neared, Drada carefully wrapped her fingers around the Linga that hung about her neck, similar to the one she had helped Eryet swallow. Carefully, she pulled it loose from her neck, placed it in her mouth, and swallowed – along with the slime of the swamp. At least, she still had the muscle to down theLinga. She did not want to become the dreaded Preta. She did not cry. There was no time for tears. No time for sorrow. She was Uvil. She would die with honor.
Her last breathe escaped her lips…her eyes fluttered…
Something in the water moved.
Drada jerked to keep her eyes open, peering into the depths of darkness. Her lungs burned, having nothing to breath but the gunge.
Drada’s vision blurred as something stirred again in front of her.
Two large yellow eyes approached that were shrouded in greasy black hair. At first, Drada thought it was a fish of sorts, seeing a scaled tail smoothly moving to and fro behind the medium beast. The tail alone was nearly as long as her own body.
She struggled to maintain consciousness. Hope was not the Uvil way. It was an emotion of weakness that gave an indication of unknowing. The Uvil were confident in their actions. Yet, in the face of death, Drada found herself considering the thought of rescue. She pushed it from her mind as quickly as it had surfaced. The Uvil embraced death and did not flee from its embrace. She would die honorably!
Suddenly, a woman’s face peered back at her. It was beautiful. Golden eyes. Smooth skin. The creature grabbed Drada and pulled her close. The fish tail that made up the bottom half of the woman wrapped around Drada’s body. The upper half of the creature was a woman, having the same features as Drada herself. She was pressed against the creatures breasts, forced to look into the yellow, round eyes.
The creature tore away the kamri that covered Drada’s face. The cloth slowly gained weight, sinking past Drada’s feet. Drada stared helplessly into the creature’s mesmerizing eyes.
With Drada’s bluish skin exposed, the creature opened its fanged mouth and quickly tore into Drada’s cheek, ripping a chunk from her flesh. Drada silently screamed, gurgling blood.
The world went black.