The Book of Rahl – Chapter Three – Lazarus’ Tale – Debinani Rahl
22
July, 1999
The Book of Rahl – Chapter Three – Lazarus’ Tale – Debinani Rahl

–==Official Submission==–
FROM: General Debinani Rahl
RE: Chapter Three – Lazarus” Tale

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.

-Rahl

The pains were unbearable. His skin burned as the sun
struck it,

then turned to ice as a cloud left him in shadow. The light
blinded him

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
his throat.

“…damn…”, said Lazarus weakly as the pain began to
fade. He

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
had already

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
people lived

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
that day.

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
himself. Lazarus,

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
we was

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
he always

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.
Lazarus

began to feel uneasy. There was something wrong about this
man. His eyes

seemed dead…as if there were no emotion, no humanity, no
soul.

“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
backwards

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,
nothing impeded

his progress and he was not tiring. He slowed down and then
stopped.

Looking at himself closely, he realized that he could see
through himself.

“What the hell…”, he muttered to himself. Or tried to. It
came

out as a low, moaning sound.

“I’m a ghost,” Lazarus thought. “Is this my fate?” he asked
to the

sky. “Now I don’t even get to be reborn!” he ranted at the
faceless gods.

“Silence, mortal,” the words formed in his mind. “We have
changed

nothing. It is merely the way this world works. You will
eventually come

upon one of the healers that can return life to you.”

Lazarus was stunned. The gods had never spoken to him, and
he

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
replied.

“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
it.”

“What is this evil?” Lazarus asked. There was no answer.
Lazarus

set off in search of a healer.

* * *

Lazarus ducked under the ogre’s blow and drove his sword
deep into

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
of Britain’s

eastern forests.

As he looked through the ogre’s pack, he heard the sounds
of battle

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
trouble. The

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

was concerned.

The battle went back and forth for another minute. Lazarus
backed up

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
crossbow

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
emptiness either.

These eyes were alive…and the look in them was murderous.

Lazarus looked into those eyes and quickly considered his
options.

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
blinked.

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

its body.

Lazarus lowered his sword again as he watched the man set
about

building a small fire and cook the troll meat.

“Come,” said the man, removing his helmut, “let us dine
together.”

Lazarus decided that the man was not going to try to kill
him after

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
meat. “I’m

Lazarus Shade, by the way,” he told the man by way of
introduction.

“Sandoval,” replied the man. They ate in silence for a
while.

“So,” Sandoval said, finishing his meal, “are you going to
divied

the troll’s treasure or should I?”

“You go ahead,” replied Lazarus. He still couldn’t figure
Sandoval

out. He obviously was not tainted by the evil. Lazarus had
become quite

good at detecting it in another person or creature. He had
encountered very

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
to completing

his mission than he was when he arrived here.

Lazarus jumped, startled, as the sword landed next to him.
He looked

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
much

about this world and its people as he thought.

* * *

Another year passed. He had stopped actively seeking the
source

of the evil. There was no trail to lead him to it, and if
anyone knew

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
the lull

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
Lazarus sat

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

Sandoval.

“Evening,” Lazarus said after a while. “Haven’t seen you
around

here lately.”

Sandoval didn’t respond. Lazarus knew him to be a quiet
person, and

knew that he would speak when he felt like it.

“I’ve been busy,” Sandoval said at last. The two sat in
silence

again. The sun finished its descent. “I have an offer for
you,” Sandoval

continued at last.

“A job?”

“Sort of,” Sandoval responded. “I’ve joined a mercenary
group. The

Black Rose Society.”

“I’ve heard a bit about them,” Lazarus replied. “Fairly
secretive

group. Not much known about them. Even less is known about
their captain.”

“He’s a good man,” Sandoval replied. “He takes care of his
people.”

More silence.

“I gather you like it?” Lazarus asked.

“They’re worthy of trust and loyalty,” Sandoval responded.
It wasn’t

much of an answer, but Lazarus had grown used to that from
Sandoval. The

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
unhinged.

Silence again followed. Lazarus sighed. He liked Sandoval,
but he

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
sighed,

looked down into his empty ale mug, and began to stand.

“Are you satisfied with what you’re doing now?” Sandoval
asked

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
are

murderers everywhere, and people fear their neighbors.
Lords British and

Blackthorn have lost control, and anarchy and corruption is
becoming the

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
without his

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
a place

in the Society.”

“Why me?” Lazarus asked.

“Because you can be trusted. You didn’t know me when you
helped me

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.

“Really?”

“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
south-west

of town tomorrow at noon,” Sandoval said, rising.

Lazarus sat in the darkness, alone for a time. At last he
rose and

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.

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