Watching them sail away was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I don’t know why. I don’t know why tears are streaming down my face, but for some reason, I am glad they can’t see them from this distance.
I don’t know who they are, but I know I love them. I don’t know why they are leaving me, but I know it is necessary. I am saving them; protecting them. I don’t know why, but I think it is what I have always done.
I don’t even know who I am, or what I am doing here. But I know that there is great evil in this place.
Evil I have come to destroy.
First things first. If I am to cut a path through my enemies, the first thing I will need is a weapon. I am not carrying any weapons, and I am not wearing any armor. How odd. I could have sworn that I was a warrior of some sort. A paladin or a knight, maybe? Don’t they always wear armor and carry weapons? Why would I have gotten rid of mine? Unless they no longer suited me…
I look around, but there are no weapons here. The river stretches endlessly in both directions, and the far shore seems just as desolate as this one does. An endless hellscape surrounds me. In every direction, black sand and obsidian stone cover the ground, and the sky is full of ash and smoke. Lightning sears the sky in random intervals, and lava erupts from volcanoes in the distance. The air is hot, and it hurts to breathe. I go to the river, intending to drink deeply before setting out.
“The river is dangerous!”
The voice in my head is familiar, but I can’t place it. Nevertheless, there is love behind the words, and so I heed their warning. Turning my back on the river, I walk into the wasteland. I have to pick my way carefully through the rocks and pools of lava, so it is slow going. It isn’t long before I lose all sense of direction. I have walked for hours, but I have no idea how far I have travelled. There has been no change in the available light, so I don’t know how much time has passed. I know that I am tired, though, so I stop to take a rest. I sit down on a boulder, close my eyes, and take a deep breath. Then I take another, and another. My mind wanders…
A sudden noise snaps me back to awareness. I am reminded that I don’t have a weapon, and that I’m not wearing armor. I look around for a hiding place, but it’s too late. A dark shape drops down on me, and slams me into the rocky ground. It’s a little devil of some sort, although I don’t know how I know that. It doesn’t matter. We wrestle around on the ground for a few moments before I manage to throw him off of me, and stand up. He jumps to his feet, and pulls out his sword. I really wish I had some armor, but I guess I’ll make do without it.
He lunges, and I twist out of the way. I’m standing beside him now, so he spins and tries to hit me with a back-swing slash. I jump backwards, just out of reach, but I stumble over a rock and fall down. He jumps on top of me, and plunges the sword down. I slap my hands together, and catch the sword between them. There’s a tense moment as the blade continues to slowly slide towards my chest, until finally the sword sinks into my right shoulder. I scream in pain, and take my hands off of the blade. I punch him with my left hand.
He’s focused on driving the sword deeper into my shoulder, so he doesn’t notice that my right hand has found a rock. I pick it up and smash it into the side of his head, and he crumples. I push his dead body off of me, and sit up. I take his sword, and try to give it a swing, but my shoulder isn’t going to allow it. I rummage through his backpack, and find some food, clothes, and a rope.
The clothes don’t fit at first, but after struggling for a few minutes, I somehow manage to squeeze into them. I could almost feel my body contracting, getting smaller to make the clothes fit. Weird.
He was wearing a cloak and boots. I put the cloak on, and I am surprised to find that it actually fits me. It must have been really big on him. I squeeze my feet into his shoes, and then find them surprisingly comfortable. Once I’m dressed, I take some of the remaining material and fashion a bandage out of it and bandage my shoulder.
I eat a small bit of the food he was carrying, and then I coil the rope around my other shoulder.
Eager to find some shelter…or just…something…I set out across the blackened desert sands. There is a cave up ahead, and even though it fills me with fear, I know I must enter it. I don’t know what I’m looking for, but I feel like it’s inside the cave. I don’t want to go inside, but I do it anyway. The temperature drops considerably. It was uncomfortably hot outside, but inside, it’s cool…not quite cold, but cool. It’s dark, too. The light from outside dies just a few feet from the opening.
There is a natural crevice in the wall, just big enough for me to curl up inside. The walls are slick with condensation, and I’m so thirsty that I lick it up like a dog. My thirst satiated, I curl up and pull the devil’s cloak over me. Using the rope as a pillow, I fall into a deep sleep.
I wake up some time later, and lick the walls for more water. I eat some more of the devil’s food, and go right back to sleep. I do this for several days, until my shoulder heals. As soon as I’m feeling up to it, I leave my little crevice and walk down into the darkness. It takes a long time for my eyes to adjust, but eventually I go from being completely blind to only mostly blind. Hours pass. Days pass. Or maybe it has only been a few minutes. It’s hard to tell when you’re stumbling through the darkness.