My Death Is Near... I'm So Cold

Copyright Tim Harper (aka Samwise7) © 2009

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"We are the lie fulfilled, the evil deception prolonged through eternity"

A work of short fiction set in the fantasy ice world setting of Marth.

How long has it been now? It seems only a few hours ago that I was minding my leatherworking store, and saying farewell to the few good customers I had left. How could so much change happen in such a twinkling of an eye? How could so much have fallen to tragedy and despair in the prime of my youth? What will my poor sweet wife say, when my frozen corpse returns from death to haunt and kill her? The thought that I would hurt her, even in unwilling undeath, unnerves me to the bone.

I see her sweet face floating above me now, with long sensuous crimson hair that always tickled me. How I loved seeing her beside me as I lay near her. Even now her petulant scowling face is finding my faults, and calling me a stubborn fool. How I will miss my darling wife, if I can even do so in whatever afterlife is appointed me. From what rumors I've heard, my spirit will watch my body do horrible things; a monster with my face.

There is no one to answer such silent na´ve questions whispered in the confines of my skull. These whining childish thoughts drift off into the void, to echo in the meaningless contained therein. No one hears my lonely thoughts; here amongst the icy ruins, and uninhabitable regions I once called home. In part, I wish I had never drawn that first breath, but I cannot regret the friendly love I have found in Chima. Chima, my sweet beautiful stubborn Chima, what will you do when I'm not around to bully?

What feeling I have left in my icy limbs seems to remind me that life is such a fragile thing, balancing on the whim of fate and chance. How I wish the Gods of our forefathers were still in control, still able to grant a boon to one such maligned victim as myself. But alas, all is ruined in the silent heavens beyond the cruel grip of this world. How could they leave us mortals alone to waste away to nothing, to die a slow painful death? Flarg them for being such a dysfunctional divine family! Cursing the silent skies however grants me nothing, but wasting the little time I have before I die. But of course, what else is there to do but think and sigh, when moving is such a painful enterprise? Watching the snow slowly bury me is somehow peaceful, though I know death is anything but.

It seems in looking back now, that the majority of my brain is filled with searing regret at having accepted that flarging proposal from that bizarre stranger. I should have known in my Dwarvish blood never to trust a Twilight Elf with his twisted Bloodpet familiar for eyes. Staring at a face with skin where the eyes should be always gave me the creeps. The Gods cursed them ages ago, and I should have taken their lead and done likewise. I should have known that nothing comes without a price, and these days everyone pays with his or her miserable life. Curse all the Elves, and their twisted gets. Yet another Dwarf dies at the hands of an Elf. How I wish there were some way to part this life blazing in cleansing flames, to ensure that my body rises not from death. All is lost, and only death is listening to me, only the silent cold hand of death.

I can't believe I leaned over the Lost Soul's railing to get a closer look at these ruins. I should never have turned my back on that eyeless freak. I can still feel the violent pain from the wound that the stab in my back caused. That waste of flesh stabbed and shoved me to this slow doom, and if possible I would return vengeance upon him. My legs are a destroyed mess, disgusting to behold from the fall. He took everything I held dear, in one flash of his stabbing sword. May he curse the day he crossed me.

What is good and evil, when no one is watching above to reward or punish you? I've always felt that those you helped along life's path was a reward in itself, but now as I die I see a cold dark truth, that those that take what they want prosper, and those who don't are trampled under their selfish feet in a world bereft of Gods. The injustice of the world is a weight that now I shall bear no longer. For good or ill I will leave it. I hope waiting around for the end of time isn't as boring as I fear it will be.

I wonder what my long dead father would have done in my place? I bet he wouldn't have listened to the soothing lies promising fortunes undreamed, buried beneath the ice and snow on the horizon. I bet my father wouldn't have listened to his wanderlust, as I did, traveling off to lonely ghost haunted angstone sites. I wonder how many innocents and wizards were sacrificed for the making of this looming structure above me? I shudder to think of that need for such a horrific atrocity, in that war ages ago before the Ancient Ones were changed. How strange to think that once Elf and Dwarf were one race of beings. Still, I can't hold in my disgust for that vile race even with that knowledge. How things change over the course of thousands of years. Life is strange.

What is that now, a whisper on the wind? What strange hallucination greets me before my certain demise? Is that a child's voice my straining ears hear? Is that laughing? Perhaps my mind is freezing with the rest of me, for this is beyond strange. Could I be mistaken? Am I finally going insane? Could I, Ovfik son of Morfik, have crossed into the realms of madness? Some part of me hopes not.

"Child of Fate, Winner of Luck, we are here beneath you, and above you. We've heard your lost prayers. Sleep now. Give into your body's wish for rest. We will take you near ourselves, dragging you forth to give you that which you seek; an afterlife in the place of lost wandering."

What a strange voice. It sounds so much like my daughter's, cheerful in tone, yet having a weary bass tone below it lurking like some hungry predator. Dare I respond to a bodiless voice? Is this perhaps some lost Ice Devil, ensorcelled beneath me, trapped in the ruins themselves? Will my soul's final resting place be to empower a demon of the ancient world? Am I doomed to fill the belly of some ancient evil?

"Your fears make us smile oh Father of the Dispossessed. Latch on to the sound of our voice, and we will aid you in that righteous vengeance that you seek. We are no Ice Devil, and we are not divine in origin. Our beginnings were much simpler than that. We are only the voice of the many that were made one. We are the weapon, the destroyer of our enemies, and in so being, we can grant you your dying wish. It has been long since the offering was made manifest. Your angry blood has awakened us to your need. Our purpose shall be unleashed once more."

Now my doubts are doubly raised, to have such a voice spring forth from nowhere to hound me near death's door. If I speak will it steal my voice? Can it read these, my thoughts, even now? That I should know such fear ere the end, adds insult to injury. But if my soul will be damned, then I might as well speak my dying words to a voice on the chill winds.

"Voice, my ears can hear you, but my eyes see you not. From whence do you come? Speak no longer in vague riddles, and call me not these strange names. I am only Ovfik, of the Fire Dwarves, and no sorcerer of hidden knowledge. Speak plainly, so that I may know that who I converse with, in these my last minutes of life."

"You seek plain truths, but we know none of those. Our souls have been infused with vague realities, and our minds were hidden from the cruel results of our Master's wishes. But if it is truth you seek, then we will try as we might to illuminate your confusion with wisdom. We were once those that played in the rolling green hills with the sunlight clothing us in warmth. We laughed and played our games between instruction and our lessons. We were sought and found, given to our betters to become something greater for our kingdom's need. Our lives became nothing more than an ingredient, no more than a cost for some fell choice made long ago by those we no longer knew. What we were, we no longer are, and can never be again. We cannot die, and we barely lived. We are the lie fulfilled, the evil deception prolonged through eternity. We are youth prolonged indefinitely till the world's ending. And it is us that have been awakened, and hear your lonely wailing thoughts. Join us in the angstone, and fear not your animated corpse, for we shall annihilate it to dust. We are gifted with the ability of destruction, and none have matched our vicious strength these many thousands of years. Even now we see your killer fleeing with what little wealth you possessed. Join with us, that also were betrayed, and vengeance shall be yours, as well as voices to converse with, in the dreams that shall be yours for the rest of existence's span."

"Voice, I hear thee, and what fear I have I shall let fall away from me. Though you may be some beguiling Ice Devil, I start to fathom that you are some unified spirit, or groups of spirits locked within the angstone ruins. I have heard how many were used to form a weapon for that grim war ages past. The lingering pain is almost gone now, and I wish for sleep that will be my last. I can feel the long dark upon me, crushing my ability to think and speak. Take me oh sacrificed children of yesteryear. Take and do with Ovfik's soul as you will. The dead God's will no longer claim it, and if I can wreak violent justice on my killer by accepting your offer, then more the better. Take my life, I give it up to you..."

A feeling like being pulled through a narrow space is horrendous, and it becomes all I am. The pain, the hot blinding pain is everything, every fiber of my being, for a period of time seeming like eons. I am no longer myself, and the concept of I becomes a strange thing to us. We are here together, left to roam the space between the smallest fragments of existence. We float in all that we were and are. We shall call forth the raging fury of the Master, and unleash it on the blind one with hate in his heart. He should not have wronged us, he shall suffer the pains of the long tortured. His time is at hand.

We feel him, yes, fleeing on his little ship made to race across the surface of the snow. His thoughts are an abomination, and they make us so very angry. It is time, it is time, let the punishment begin. Let us unleash all the unbridled fury of our gift upon him, and those like him. All that draw breath shall pay for this betrayal.

On the fourth day of the week, we turned thousands to dust, and their painful deaths lasted days. They crumbled piece by piece until they were no more. We savored their anguished cries like it was delicious food from before we were changed. We made it last for the multitudes, so that we might remember and enjoy what pleasure has been left to us. We shall dream such sweet dreams after this.

They took almost all that we were, and twisted was what left of our innocence. They should have not hurt us so. They never should have made us what we are, and now their descendents have paid for our unholy creation. We are sad however, as now there is no one left to talk to but ourselves, locked in our lonely prison, locked in stasis. Let us sleep once more, the long sleep of stasis, until another wakens us with their dying blood. Let us wait for the proper sacrifice once more. Our duty is done, our pleasure is satiated, they are no more. They shall not win the long war. Let us sleep, yes, let us sleep, and until it is time again to paint the world with the ashes of the dead, let us rest the sleep of peace.