My friends and I are about to embark on a Dungeons & Dragons adventure. This is my first one, so I am more than excited. After filling out my character’s sheet and learning more about him, I stumbled upon his journal and figured I would share it with the world. It is a story of love and loss, death and new life.

My Dear Ilanna,

Your house has forsaken you, but I never will. My undying passion for you draws us closer with each breath we take. Those who stole you away will answer to me in a glorious day of retribution. And when that day comes, they won’t face a scared little boy, but a fierce and powerful necromancer.

Yes, my love, I have grown in age and power from the last time we were together. I keep this journal to remind myself of you during my journey. Your memory is all I have left and I vow to keep it vibrant with every page I write. When we are reunited, you will see the great lengths I strode to win your freedom.

Enough of my current situation for I never told you my own history. I read all the histories of your house, but failed to pen my own accounts. Of course, I never had a reason until you were stolen; my story isn’t notable in the slightest. Still, you must know who I truly am.

I grew up a farmer with my hands in the dirt. Most people treat the ground beneath them with contempt and regard low-born farmers only slightly higher. My father treated it with proper respect. “We are the unsung heroes of the kingdom, son. Our grain is its lifeblood and the dirt we trod gives us a quiet power,” he would say to keep me from cursing my station every time we worked in the fields.

I couldn’t have asked for a better father. Smart in his own way, he taught me how to make even the most stubborn bit of dirt grow whatever we needed it to. He was also literate enough to show me basic lettering. I quickly fell in love with the written word and spent my nights in the town’s library searching for the oldest of its dusty tomes. To a 9 year-old boy, a three-story inn converted to a library was an infinite hall of wisdom. My first year there, my knowledge increased 100-fold.

When I could tear myself away from the fields or the library, I dreamed of riding off to adventures beyond the mountains surrounding the Valley. Day after day my friends and I watched with awe as iron clad knights rode through our town gathering supplies for the standing armies of Lord Chaxon. If we were lucky, we could surround one and have him regale us with tales of dragons, orcs, and elves. Wide-eyed at how many accomplishments a single knight made, we vowed to join the service of our Lord when we came of age.

Under the eye of my father, I diligently applied myself to our fields and used every bit of knowledge I could scrape out of the library’s books. When I was just 11, I convinced my father to hire out more hands saying that we could run our farm like the lending houses. He always said our crops were better than gold, so I treated them as such. Soon our farm grew to become the largest in the Valley. Even the lending houses became jealous of our success.

We reveled in our success for two more years before the knights rode into town in force. I remember it was late at night and I was balancing our ledgers by candlelight. The hillside burst into flames as an army of torches bobbed our way. My father and I rushed outside along with the rest of the town to greet the news.

I instantly noticed how strangely the knights rode. They lacked the typical heavy gait I had seen all my life. Their armor didn’t fit either. The heavy plates clanged together too loosely. Dark premonitions twisted in my stomach.

Even stranger, I noticed patches of light ignite high up in the mountains. My entire life these mountains were the sentinels that kept me safe from the outside, but now they appears as menacing wolves ready to consume the Valley. Squinting at the lights, I barely made out the shapes of towers and keeps carved out from the mountainside. I looked back to the riders drawing closer to us, putting the pieces together in my mind.

“It’s an Elven ambush!” I screamed out into the night. Excitement hit fever pitch and my shouts drowned in the noise. I turned and ran back to the safest place of my childhood-the library. The moment I reached the door, I heard the first of the screams. For as long as I live, I won’t be able to get those sounds out of my head.

I cowered in the darkest corner I knew of, crying through my fear. I hadn’t even tried to warn my own father; I had just ran away. I sat there listening to the ambush riders working through the town, destroying everything I loved. The knights I had admired all my life failed in their service to our Lord.

I cursed myself for not having seen the signs earlier. Lord Chaxon’s relationship with the gray elves had grown tenuous in recent years. Rumors spread of impending war, but I didn’t know what to make of them. My father didn’t trouble himself over them, so why should I?

In the months leading up to this, we hadn’t seen any knights ride through for resupply. I falsely assumed they were off fighting for our Lord, but hadn’t considered what would happen should they lose.

Fear kept me awake for the rest of the night. In the early morning hours, the sounds of battle all but disappeared. I peeked out a few windows before walking outside into an empty town. Curious it hadn’t been burnt to the ground. Even more curious was the lack of bodies. I had expected to see the streets overflowing, but saw nothing.

I ran back to my home in search of my father, but it too was completely empty. I combed the entire town, but found nothing. Death had swept through, leaving me untouched.

This is all I can bear to write now. Just remembering the loss of my father awakens too much pain within me. Fear not, my love, I did overcome my fear.

Tolin Naihim – Death’s Neglected Son