The path north was long, longer than he remembered it to be; colder than he imagined. His movements were slowed, if only slightly. He leaned on his staff more than he had in lo these many years I have known him. But though the land froze even my thick fur boots, this monk still walked barefoot and even with me at his side, he still walked alone.
The monk remembered the last time he crossed into these strange lands, how buried in the depths of the earth here were flames that burned more fierce than any he had ever experienced. He remembered the friends he made with the natives, the great Norn who towered over all who they encountered. There were good times there, spent in combat and revelry, times that soothed a troubled mind. But even then, the journey never truly ended. Even after throwing down demons, Gods and the great beasts that dwelled in the belly of the earth itself, he never truly found the peace he was looking for.
He never spoke of what plagued him so, at least not to me, some loss far beyond my reasoning. I was just a lad when I met him and whatever happened was lost to the past only for him to know. I’ve been his scribe for years now. The Kabal wanted a record of his deeds, though he would never record any. I’ve done my best for these many years, picking up odd stories from local peasants, friends, and the occasional drunken rant when he drowned away his sorrows.
We reached Drakkar Lake on a Wednesday, the great sheet of ice spread before us. Rumors were the beast was spotted here. Long stories have been told of the great beast that dwells at the bottom of the lake, long entombed in the depths of time. But this was not that creature. Even still the monk watched the lake, studying the creature obscured in its icy basin.
I could tell something was different this time. The way he moved, his hair bright silver in the cold northern sun. We camped at the edge of the lake that night, keeping a watchful eye for whatever horror had come to this land. He pointed to the homesteads that dotted the land, burning remains of our prey’s attacks, embers crackling in the night. He told me of the Norn who lived there and the adventures he had. It was the first time I ever heard him speak of anything so directly. He talked of lands beyond the Far Shiverpeaks, the homes of the Charr and Asura, home of creatures I could barely imagine. He talked of his past and the deeds he did throughout Tyria, Cantha and the lands of Elona. It was as if he knew I wouldn’t have the time or parchment to write it all down. The glib smile as he finally revealed his story told me the same. He stopped late into the night. I tried to ask him that final terrible question, but he stopped me. Even now there are some things he wished not the share.
Day came and still nothing. The cold winds bit at my face, but the monk continued to stay calm as he scrawled in the snow with the tip of his staff, ancient symbols I could barely fathom. Patience was never this strong point in youth, but as time passed he learned the importance of waiting. Things come to those who wait...
And it was upon us! The earth shook and tore asunder! Deep from the depths came the monstrosity! It was a great wurm, bigger than any legend had told, flame bursting from the depths of its belly. Surely this was the spawn of Cyndr the Mountain Heart that once lived deep in the heart of the Shiverpeaks. But what force could have drawn such a demon to the surface? It mattered not as the battle was underway. I moved a safe distance away for I was a scribe and of no use in battle.
They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity, the burning breath that rose from the belly of the wurm not even fazing him. That sardonic smile returned to his face as he stared down the monster. In a flash the battle began, as the great wurm slammed its mass into the frozen earth. He moved with an unearthly grace, sailing past the great bulk of the wurm, the great heat of its body melting the frozen earth and snow.
He raised his staff, carried with him since his days in Tyria, an ancient weapon that has served him well in his many journeys. Striking the butt of the staff to the ground, he was bathed in holy light. The wurm shrieked as it reeled in the blinding radiance. Striking forth again, the full brunt of the wurm came down on the holy aura, and was tossed aside by the monk’s shield of judgment.
Once again the wurm drew deep into the earth, bursting forth onto the surface, breaking the monk’s concentration and throwing him onto the frozen lake. Heaving up again the creature bellowed flame upon him, but the fire was quelled with a wave of his staff. Again the monk focused his strength, sending a spear of light into the belly of the beast, but the beast was not phased, his carapace as strong as his ancestors.
The fight dragged on into the center of the lake, the wurm’s flaming body melting long gashes through the frozen waters. And for the first time, I saw him falter. The blow from the wurm threw him through the air like a leaf in the wind. The monk crashed far down the length of the lake, his body broken by a catastrophic blow no mortal could endure. The wurm was upon him in a flash, ready to deliver the killing blow.
The monk pulled himself up from the floor and to his knees, kneeling on the remains of his broken staff. I watched as he never looked up at the monster that hung over him, the molten rock that ran from it’s maw like bloody fangs. I watched as he once again scrawled on the ground, the same symbol he practiced as he waited. And then I realized why he smiled, he had planned this all along. He knew what he was against, and he knew he wasn’t coming back.
With a crack of his staff, the symbol came to life, sending streams of light across the body of ice. With a great earthquake, the ice cracked open and from below the beast of Drakkar Lake burst forth, alive after ages entombed in the ice. What happened next was lost in light and terror and the earth torn forth. All I know was that after the deed was done, the wurm was gone, the beast once again lay at the bottom of the lake and that he was gone.
I searched for hours for a sign, any sign of the monk: his body, a broken staff, the last remains of his tattered robes. All that was left was I, the lake and the notes I had taken the night before. I placed a marker at the shore of the lake, how long it will last only time will tell. There lies Jerek Lo, his journey over.
Jerek Lo: Last Journey North
by Jerek Lo on Jul 29, 2010 at 06:44 PM}