The Lost Mountaineer
by Dryst in Dark Ages
The centralized location of the port town of Abel in relation to the rest of civilized Temuair has endowed the town with a rich tradition of folk tales and stories handed down from as far back as any can remember. Busy travelers and merchants passing through to Mileth and Rucesion would often spend a night lodging in Abel, although it is questionable how much rest most of them actually had there. Illumination flickered within the taverns of Abel into the last hours of the evening, as the travelers doused away their weariness with the merriment of storytelling. Among these storytellers resided Parnevik, the most famed bard ever to grace Temurian soil. The eyes of children and grown men alike would light up upon hearing the fanciful or fearful enchanments of his tales. Any who have not had the enjoyment of hearing or reading one of Parnevik's tales has been truly deprived. The following is to be a re-telling, to the best of my ability, of one my favorite Parnevikian tales I had enjoyed from my youth.
Anyone who has studied Temurian history knows the village of Piet was descendend from a brave clan of soldiers known as the mountaineers. However, no knowledge of the mountaineers is needed to understand this tale for it concerns only one among their number.
In Danaan 2903 as Ainmeal prepared his troops for the siege of Loures, he closed off any exit or entrance from the mountaineer fortifications. All travels between their camp and the rest of Temuair was forbidden for an entire moon. During this time on the mountaineers, who went by the name Ataracus received notice that his wife had become deathly ill. Ataracus presented himself before the mysterious captain of the mountaineers and begged leave of him. No one knew where the captain had come from but he knew the mountains and tunnels like no other man or woman among them. Even after Ataracus had told the captain of his wife's illness the though, the captain refused him.
Artaracus wept for an entire day, not leaving the confines of his quarters for any reason. Finally exhausted from the grief of his mourning, Ataracus fell into a deep slumber. In his slumber he envisioned a strange woods materializing around his quarters. Out from the woods stepped a cloaked figure who seemed faceless. The strange figure dropped two items in front of Ataracus and quietly disappeared from whence he came before Artaracus could say a word. The first item was a ghastly necklace that seemed to be constructed from rotting flesh and bones. For some reason Ataracus was drawn to it despite its putrid smell and appearance. He picke dit up and placed it around his neck and felt a presence of darkness touch his very soul. The second item was a map, and upon it seemed to be inscribed all the passages of the very mines which the mountaineer fortification was built upon. He noticed that at the bottom level of the mines on the maps there appeared to be an exit. His thoughts immediately turned to his ill wife and Artaracus awok in a feverish sweat. He proceeded in strewing about his possessions about his quarters gathering his arms and rations in the process. Despite warnings he had heard that fearful creatures lay within the deeps of the mines he slipped off into the depths.
Artaracus traveled deeper and deerper but it appeared to no avail, for the mines seemed only to continue. Suddenly the same cloaked man from his dream stepped out from the darkness beside him. The man once again dropped the rotting necklace in front of Atarcus, but this time he whispered in a barely audible voice. He whispered to Artaracus, "To leave this place you need only to put it on". Artaracus touched the necklace and felt its dark power once again. It seemed to eerily possess him yet Artaracus seemed unable to resist the temptation of leaving the encampment to tend to his sick wife. He slipped the necklace over his head and everything faded to darkness around him. He saw nothing but darkness but could hear the echoes of thoughts in this head. Strangely thought they were not his own thoughts but rather they were the thoughts of others. He could feel the presence of dreams, wishes, fears, and anxieties within his soul. They were not his own but he could sense them as if they were. The cloaked man appeared before Artaracus once again, seeminly floating on the darkness. The man removed the hood of the cloak and Artaracus was startled to see his captain before him. The captain spoke, bidding Artaracus farewell, "I leave you with only the knowledge that you are now the keeper of that accursed necklace until you by force or guile afflict its curse on another". Thus rather than confinement to the mines for one moon, Artaracus suffered a much worse fate. Some say that weary travelers of the Piet dungeon are still visited by a ghastly spririt who carries with him a frightful necklace of flesh and bone.
An account of a Parnevikian Tale
-retold by Dryst Ravenshroud