Dreams and Books
The words of Isri:Not long ago, a bard named Yakob came to the realms with troubled dreams. His tale was thus:
‘When I was a young man, a journeyman bard excited to walk the world and learn what stories the land might tell, I came across a small scattering of ramshackle huts on the edge of a vast plain. The lands stretching endlessly to the horizon lay in desolation. Scorched grass and darkened earth lay under a haze of smoke. In the far distance the toppled remains of stone buildings were scattered as chaff to the wind. Astonished, I approached the encampment.
‘Slowly, a bedraggled cluster of people emerged to meet me, perhaps four men and half a dozen women. One child clung to the long skirts of a tall woman who brushed the tangled hair from her eyes and stared at me in silent challenge. The men stood in ready position until I dropped my belongings and spread my hands in welcome, turning that they might see the harp case slung across my back.
‘In a sudden release they began to speak at once in a language I could not comprehend. The men grinning came forward to clasp my wrist and the women ushered me into their small camp to a seat before the fire. Food and drink, meager fare, but generous of portion, were placed before me. Graciously accepting their hospitality, I ate with them then, in return, shared many a bright song, though my words passed without understanding.
‘Many times during the night I would gently gesture to the smoking fields and speak a question. They would only stare at me sadly and shake their heads. As the moon rose in the sky, the tall woman with the child lead me to her lean-to, closest to the fire likely for the child's sake. Laying a blanket beside her small boy, she made for me a warm bed. I lay down and, covering myself, the woman knelt beside me and rested her hand on my arm. She began to speak again at some length in her language, her tone conveying a deep sadness and an enduring strength, but her words were lost to me. She smiled and retired to her own rest and soon I drifted into dreams.
‘I woke the next morning wrapped in a soft blanket before the dying remains of a fire. Not a person, a building, a scrap of cloth, nor food remained. I gazed at the dead land before me, the earth dried and barren, but the smoke lifted and the old stones were covered with a dry, cracking mold.
‘In truth, tis not a story of much note. Such legends and sightings of ghostly people are not uncommon. But what troubles me of late, more than half a century after these occurrences, are the dreams. Each night the woman comes to me, speaking urgently. And still, I cannot decipher her words, but each night, she becomes more insistent, more angered, and more frightened.’
Yakob’s dreams were not the only unusual occurrence. Ghostly visions appeared in the forest west of Arinock telling a ghastly tale of destruction. Many citizens of the lands mustered to seek the truth of history and, as a result of their efforts, were greeted by a spirit, the woman from Yakob’s dreams, speaking in the tongue of the vampires.
This woman, Linara, told the tale of the cities that followed the great City of Eternal Twilight. The antediluvians scattered across the earth to build other cities. But they became fractioned, and, leaderless, they never achieved the greatness of Nod. Wars were the result. These days were the glory of the Covenance and they rose to fight these dark cities. Losses were great, but the Covenance triumphed. The cities fell and the surviving vampire slipped into shadows. Never again did the vampire walk so boldly or in such strength amongst the cattle of humanity.
With the fall of the cities led to the escape of other slaves. Some were taken with the fleeing vampire as a source of food, but others survived. Amongst them was the woman Linara. But who she was in truth is little known. Also with Linara traveled the child of Yakob’s dream. Another mystery. After the telling of her tale, Linara gifted the Romany with a powerful artifact. It was well known that the patriarch Bastien was in possession somehow, whether in the physical or no, of the Book of Nod. This book details the history of the vampires and holds within some great power. Linara gave her own book, named the Book of the Slaves, to a young Gypsy by name of Brach. She charged the Romany to keep it safe, saying that if the power in the Book of Nod was loosed in the world, the Book of Slaves held a power that could counter it. Somehow...
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