FROM: General Debinani Rahl
RE: Chapter Three – Lazarus” Tale
Sandoval introduced Lazarus Shade to me a few years back
and I was immediately impressed with his remarkable knack
for tracking and his innate skill to find trouble in the
woodlands. He was a welcome addition to the company. He
handed me this a while back, so I figured I’d transcribe it
into the Annals for posterity’s sake.
The pains were unbearable. His skin burned as the sun
then turned to ice as a cloud left him in shadow. The light
and the cacophony of sounds that deafened him. He writhed
in agony and even
his own moans of agony were a tearing sensation deep within
“…damn…”, said Lazarus weakly as the pain began to
hated the rebirths. He sat up and took stock of his
surroundings. He seemed
to be in a forest, very similar to the ones from his
homeworld…at least he
they seemed to be similar. His homeworld was several
lifetimes ago, and the
details had begun to escape him. Many details of his past
escaped him. The one that remained with him was that which
was the cause for
his present circumstances.
He had been a powerful noble at one time. Many of the
in fear of him and no one would question his laws…well,
almost no one. The
ancient priest had come to his castle and made demands of
him. The aged
cleric preached that his soul would be lost if he did not
begin to honor the
gods. He had laughed at the old man…until the old man
struck him and
accused him of blasphemy. He had ordered one of his guards
to kill the man
at that point. When the guard refused, he had taken the
sword and struck the
priest down himself. The priest had cursed him with his
last breaths. Had
cursed him to wander for eternity, searching for peace. He
cared not about
the curse. Only fools believed in them.
Lazarus cursed himself for a fool as he thought back upon
His wanderings had meant living on many worlds in many
different bodies. He
had been many different people, no two alike, and never on
the same world.
The only thing that he could control was his name, Lazarus
Shade, and that
was his real name. His birth name had been taken from him.
Try as he might,
he could not recall it, so he had made a new one for
because of his immortality (such as it was), and Shade
because he was only
a shadow of the man he once was.
Lazarus stood up and took stock of himself. He found that
wearing simple breeches and a tunic. In addition to this,
he found that he
possessed a small pouch filled with gold. This was more
than he had ever
found himself with after a rebirth. Perhaps the gods felt
that he deserved
some mercy and that this time things would be easier. He
heard a sound
behind him and turned to see what caused it.
An armoured man holding a loaded crossbow stood there,
looking at him.
“Hail,” ventured Lazarus in a friendly tone. He found that
began with knowledge of the local language. “Can you tell
me where I can
find the nearest town? I seem to be lost.”
The stranger just continued to look at him, not answering.
began to feel uneasy. There was something wrong about this
man. His eyes
seemed dead…as if there were no emotion, no humanity, no
“Uh…perhaps I’m bothering you,” Lazarus said, backing away
carefully. “I’ll just leave now.”
The man aimed the crossbow and fired. Lazarus was thrown
by the blow. As he died, he considered that cursing the
gods for this cruel
joke, but decided that he didn’t need them to make angry.
After a moment,
he realized that he could still see what was happening,
although the world
looked different…as if all color had been leeched from
it. He looked
around and saw his own body laying there, a bolt protruding
from his chest.
Even worse, his killer was pulled out a knife and was using
it to carve
pieces of his corpse off! Lazarus turned and ran.
It took him a short while to realize that as he ran,
his progress and he was not tiring. He slowed down and then
Looking at himself closely, he realized that he could see
“What the hell…”, he muttered to himself. Or tried to. It
out as a low, moaning sound.
“I’m a ghost,” Lazarus thought. “Is this my fate?” he asked
sky. “Now I don’t even get to be reborn!” he ranted at the
“Silence, mortal,” the words formed in his mind. “We have
nothing. It is merely the way this world works. You will
upon one of the healers that can return life to you.”
Lazarus was stunned. The gods had never spoken to him, and
presumed that that was who was speaking to him now.
“What do you want of me?” he asked quietly.
“We have no need to explain ourselves to you,” the voice
“However, we do have some need of you. On this world, there
is a greater
evil growing. This evil has already tainted the souls of
several of the
citizens and is growning. The one that murdered you is one
such as this.
At some point, you may come to know more about this evil.
When you do, you
must try and destroy it. When this happens, you will be
permitted to move
on if you wish. If the evil wins, you will move on, as will
“What is this evil?” Lazarus asked. There was no answer.
set off in search of a healer.
* * *
Lazarus ducked under the ogre’s blow and drove his sword
its side. The ogre fell dead, its heart pierced. Lazarus
stood over the
monster’s body, breathing hard. It had been one year since
he awoke on this
world. He had learned a great deal since then and had even
made a name for
himself. He had become a superior swordsman and an
excellent tracker. As
such, he hunted the beasts that preyed upon the travellers
As he looked through the ogre’s pack, he heard the sounds
to the south. He also heard a deep, gutteral
growling…troll. He grabbed
the pack and headed towards the sounds of battle.
When he got there, he saw that the trolls victim was in
man wore a green cloak and armour of bone. The man was
unarmed, but a
crossbow lay nearby. Said crossbow was most likely the
cause of the bolts
that protruded from the troll. They had not been,
unfortunately, enough to
slay the beast. The troll advanced upon the man, who was
laying on the
ground, shaking his head as if to clear it. It seemed as
though the troll
had struck a blow of its own, although not a killing one.
Lazarus came up
behind the troll and swung his sword. The blade bit into
the flesh, but
not deep enough. The troll turned and struck. Lazarus
barely deflected the
blow with his shield, but felt his arm grow numb from the
shock. He hated
fighting trolls. While weaker than ogres (which is still
very strong), they
were faster and smarter, which made them more dangerous as
far as Lazarus
The battle went back and forth for another minute. Lazarus
as the troll swung, and felt his foot catch on a root. He
lost his balance
and fell backwards. The troll let out a roar of triumph and
moved in for the
kill. Lazarus brought up his shield as a last resort and
waited for the
troll to strike. The blow never came. Instead, he heard the
thrum of the
crossbow and the troll fell over backwards, a bolt through
its neck. Lazarus
looked around to see the archer had retrieved his crossbow.
The man reloaded
the weapon as Lazarus stood up and picked up his sword.
Lazarus turned to thank the man and stopped as he saw the
was now pointed at him. It was a heavy crossbow, just like
the one that had
taken his life his first day upon this world. He looked up
at the man. It
was not the same man. The eyes did not hold the same
These eyes were alive…and the look in them was murderous.
Lazarus looked into those eyes and quickly considered his
The man could easily kill him before he could run or move
in to disarm him.
His only hope was the man would not kill him. Lazarus
slowly wiped his sword
off upon the troll’s corpse. “Hell of a way to thank a man
that just saved
your life,” he said to the man.
The man stared at Lazarus a moment longer, twitched, then
A change seemed to have come over him. He unloaded the
crossbow and hooked
it on his belt, ignoring Lazarus the whole time. The man
then pulled out a
dagger. Lazarus brought his sword up in a defensive
position. The man
ignored Lazarus as he walked over to the troll and began to
carve meat from
Lazarus lowered his sword again as he watched the man set
building a small fire and cook the troll meat.
“Come,” said the man, removing his helmut, “let us dine
Lazarus decided that the man was not going to try to kill
all, and he was hungry. He sheathed his sword, sat down
opposite the man,
put down his shield and removed his helmut.
“Thanks,” he said as the man handed him a portion of the
Lazarus Shade, by the way,” he told the man by way of
“Sandoval,” replied the man. They ate in silence for a
“So,” Sandoval said, finishing his meal, “are you going to
the troll’s treasure or should I?”
“You go ahead,” replied Lazarus. He still couldn’t figure
out. He obviously was not tainted by the evil. Lazarus had
good at detecting it in another person or creature. He had
few that were tainted these days. Lazarus sighed. He had
not found any
sign of what the source of this evil was, and was no closer
his mission than he was when he arrived here.
Lazarus jumped, startled, as the sword landed next to him.
up to see Sandoval putting some gold coins in a bag, which
then followed the
sword, to land upon the ground near Lazarus.
“The sword has some strong, magical properties,” Sandoval
said as he
gathered his belongings. “I have no use for it, but it
seems to be your
weapon of choice. I think it shall serve you well.”
Sandoval loaded his
crossbow and began to walk away. “Good hunting to you,
Lazarus,” he said
as he disappeared into the forest.
Lazarus stared after the man. Perhaps he had not learned as
about this world and its people as he thought.
* * *
Another year passed. He had stopped actively seeking the
of the evil. There was no trail to lead him to it, and if
anything about it, they were not telling him. He had
decided to follow the
advice of the voice that had spoken to him and to wait and
see if he would
learn more about the evil. In the meantime, he had begun to
make a fair
living for himself as a hired sword. He was by no means
rich, but he could
afford to live comfortably. He had even made a few friends,
with whom he
hunted on occasion. The strange archer Sandoval was one
such, although he
had not been seen around Britain of late.
Things had been slow lately, and Lazarus took advantage of
to enjoy himself. He sat on a bench outside of the inn and
listened to the
sounds of the bard playing within. The sun was setting, and
and watched it, as he drank an ale. A man in a black cloak
walked over to
him and sat down on the bench. Lazarus glanced at him and
saw that it was
“Evening,” Lazarus said after a while. “Haven’t seen you
Sandoval didn’t respond. Lazarus knew him to be a quiet
knew that he would speak when he felt like it.
“I’ve been busy,” Sandoval said at last. The two sat in
again. The sun finished its descent. “I have an offer for
continued at last.
“Sort of,” Sandoval responded. “I’ve joined a mercenary
Black Rose Society.”
“I’ve heard a bit about them,” Lazarus replied. “Fairly
group. Not much known about them. Even less is known about
“He’s a good man,” Sandoval replied. “He takes care of his
“I gather you like it?” Lazarus asked.
“They’re worthy of trust and loyalty,” Sandoval responded.
much of an answer, but Lazarus had grown used to that from
archer let little about himself be known. Lazarus thought
that he may have
suffered a horrible tragedy in his past that left him a bit
Silence again followed. Lazarus sighed. He liked Sandoval,
wished he’d get to the point. “Where are you going with
this, Sandoval?” he
asked at last.
Sandoval twitched slightly, but didn’t answer. Lazarus
looked down into his empty ale mug, and began to stand.
“Are you satisfied with what you’re doing now?” Sandoval
suddenly. Lazarus sat back down.
“Its a living,” he answered.
“But you can’t say its satisfying,” Sandoval responded.
Now it was Lazarus’ turn to answer with silence.
“Our world is hell, Lazarus,” Sandoval continued. “There
murderers everywhere, and people fear their neighbors.
Lords British and
Blackthorn have lost control, and anarchy and corruption is
normal way of life. I would imagine that you could not name
more than a
handful of people that you would trust with your life.”
Lazarus knew Sandoval was right. He never went anywhere
sword, and he never believed anything anyone told him
outright. He knew of
less than ten people that he could trust with anything, let
alone his life.
“Go on,” he said to Sandoval.
“I’ve told Captain Rahl about you, and you’re being offered
in the Society.”
“Why me?” Lazarus asked.
“Because you can be trusted. You didn’t know me when you
against the troll. Death is often times not permanent, but
you still risked
losing everything you had.”
“Maybe I didn’t have that much to lose,” Lazarus replied.
“Ok,” Lazarus relented. “I had pretty much everything I
owned on me
at the time.”
“If you’re interested in joining, meet me at the Moongate
of town tomorrow at noon,” Sandoval said, rising.
Lazarus sat in the darkness, alone for a time. At last he
strolled across the street to the Wayfarer’s Inn. He had
already made up his
mind. He would be at the Moongate the next day.