Old Kingdom: 100 ASD
My name is Cecil. I have been living in the Old Kingdom for 26 years now and never want to go back to Ancelstierre. When I was in Ancelstierre I worked on the Crossing Point Scouts and made many forays into the Old Kingdom. On one of my last trip before becoming a permanent resident and forsake Ancelstierre I managed to acquire a charter mark upon my brow. As soon as the birch ash solidified on my forehead I felt connected to something greater than myself and set out to find as much information about the "Charter" as I could. Unfortunately for me there was little to find in my country of birth, meaning that I must leave in search of masters of all aspects of the Charter in the Old Kingdom.
The hardest part of leaving Ancelstierre was saying good bye to my whole family, all three members, my mother, brother, and sister. My mother understood my quest but my siblings were a little more apprehensive. Later I learned that my father had left for the same journey and never came back. When I got to Belisaere I looked through all the records for him but didn't find a shred of evidence that he ever crossed into the Old Kingdom.
The next hurdle would be the actual crossing. Though everyone at the Crossing Point knew me the bureaucrats didn't. There was much paperwork and a long wait for it all to make it through. By the time everything was ready for me to go two weeks had passed. I was feeling anxious for this new life, mainly because I could always feel the Charter pulsing calmly in the back of my mind, calling me forth to the north. The night before my scheduled crossing I could not sleep at all, instead I meditated in the endless flow of Charter marks. Although I didn't sleep at all I felt rejuvenated and invigorated.
The crossing passed without a hitch and although it was mid-winter in Ancelstierre, it was just towards the end of summer in the Old Kingdom. I knew it would be nice so I only took what I was willing to carry through a warm fall and buy what I would need in High Bridge.
And so begins a new chapter of my life. Little did I know it would finish my book as well.
After two weeks of walking in had passed through Qyrre and Chasel to finally see High Bridge. It may still be a day's steady walk away but it was a magnificent sight to behold. Although it was an amazing sight I could tell something was off. Through the two towns that I passed through I saw fewer and fewer people the farther north I traveled. Also I was noticing a steady cold pressure building in the back of my mind that I put off as jitters till I saw High Bridge. I still did not know what was happening up above so I continued on.
Climbing the carved stone steps up to the city, the pressure grew till it made me feel the chill all over my body. Cresting the last tier of steps I smelled something I never thought I would ever have to smell.
It was all around me. Dead bodies lay in the road, tossed into trees and on roofs, everywhere. As I walked by a deserted house I felt something in the cold part of my mind twitch and ducked just in time as a black… thing… flew out of the window and landed on my chest. I screamed, not only because of the thing but because of the mental stress of seeing everyone dead. Moments after it landed on my chest it disappeared with a faint pop. Looking down at my shirt I discovered something staining it. I brushed at it and it fell away easily. Bringing my fingers up to my nose and sniffing I discovered that it smelled like mold.
As soon as I could move I started running out of High Bridge. I took five steps and my body froze. Literally, ice formed across me and I couldn't move. I blinked and when I opened my eyes I was looking onto a very different scene that I had just witnessed. It was a river. But not the river pounding under High Bridge, I could tell that. This was lit with a flat grey light that made it impossible to judge distance. In the far distance I could hear a waterfall, which was another odd thing because the only waterfall along the River Ratterlin was on the other side of Long Cliffs.
Looking around trying to figure out where I was I felt the same thing in my mind twitch and I looked down to the right and noticed a body floating by next to me.
It didn't respond so I waded after it and caught it by the arm. It was then that I realized that it was a female. Pulling her up she opened her eyes and screamed. It took me a minute to calm her down enough to tell me who she was and where we were. Her name was Seryn and she told me she was dead, this was the River Death. She begged me to let her go but I couldn't let her just float along to unknown waters.
Asking her if there was anything I could do to help she said, "Cast a major healing spell across my spirit and pull me back to Life."
I explained that I didn't know how so she told me the words and hand gestures. After completing the spell I felt a warmth flow from my forehead, down my body and out my fingers. Looking upon Seryn I saw she was glowing slightly.
After that she instructed me, "Pull me back to Life."
As soon as I felt the resistance on my mind, as she said I would, I pressed against it with all my will. Also like she said I suddenly felt the resistance snap and I was back in my frost covered body. As I moved the ice broke and fell off of me. I listened for her cry, and as she said, I heard it somewhere close by just up the road.
Running towards the sound of her voice I felt the pressure on my mind twitch again and felt dozens of the black things shifting in the abandoned houses on the left and right of me. It was at that time that I decided to stick to the middle of the road.
Turning a corner I found Seryn in the middle of the road with a scorched diamond shape on the ground around her.
"Don't touch the scorches," she called as I approached.
Carefully stepping over them I felt the Charter well up inside of me. Instantly the pressure I had been feeling dissipated to almost nothing.
"Recast the Diamond of Protection," she said softly. Instructing me on the way to do so I focused on the four marks and redrew them at the four points of the compass. As I completed the last mark, golden fire erupted between them.
"That will protect us from all but the strongest Dead."
"What are the Dead?"
"They are spirits that died and refused to give up the world of the living, either because they were scared to die or are jealous of the living."
"How do we kill them?"
"They cannot be killed, just sent back to Death. Now if you don't mind could you please recast your healing spell? It didn't do much to help me in Death other than allow me to come back without any major problems."
Looking at her I saw a slow steady stream of blood oozing from between her fingers just under her left breast.
Hastily recasting the spell the blood flow stopped and she slipped into an easy sleep. Sitting there waiting for her to wake up was the longest twenty minutes of my life! I could see black shadows moving behind all the windows of the surrounding houses.
When Seryn finally woke up she looked around and seemed to focus on the shadows.
"We have to move. Now!"
Leaping up with surprising agility for one who was dead not even an hour ago, she crossed the golden fire, whereupon it flickered and went out. Instantly I felt the cold presence press against my will making my knees shake a little.
Turning around she noticed that I had not moved. Slapping me smartly across the face she shouted, "If you don't start moving now I'm going to leave you here for the Dead!"
Weather it was the slap or the prospect of being left for the Dead I don't know but I began to run full tilt after her.
Five minutes after leaving High Bridge we found ourselves on a small island in the middle of a nearby lake. There was one stunted tree growing in the center of the island that was maybe 10 feet across. Seryn explained to me that the Dead are not supposed to cross deep or fast moving water so this island provided a little protection. Even with the water she insisted that we cast a Diamond of Protection.
Collapsing from exhaustion near the tree Seryn sat calmly beside me. "Why could they attack High Bridge if deep fast running water is supposed to stop them in their tracks?" I ask.
"I'm not sure. The only way they can cross that much water is by using massive amounts of grave dirt, and people would have noticed that much being moved into the city. What is your name anyways?"
"My name is Cecil."
"How did you come about being in the Old Kingdom? I have never seen you before yet I know almost everyone here."
"Well, it's a long story. The short version is I used to live in Ancelstierre. I moved here a few weeks after I got my charter mark." At the mention of my mark it glowed softly. "Ever sense I crossed the wall I have been on the move, mainly to see the Dead city we just escaped from."
"So has your family always lived in Ancelstierre?"
"As long as I can remember. Why?"
"You went into Death. Only an Abhorsen or Abhorsen-in-waiting can do that."
"What? There is no way I could be the Abhorsen, or the Abhorsen in waiting for that matter!"