Shades of Fear
Half elf druid
I remember the journey to attend the circle under the full moon. I hadn’t been to the circle in sometime. I had been one with the wild lands. Having left my home and family when I felt the call of the Circle, I was not bound to anyone but the Circle. The path I now walked fit me well. In the wilds, I took easily to the solitude of nature. I grew in my connection with it and in my skill. I knew I could have stayed there for a lifetime, driving back forces seeking to use the lands and animals for their own greed and motives. But the Circle had sent a messenger to find me. The lands are thick and pure still and even he was not sure how long he circled the wilds as an eagle, looking for hints of me. So I complied. I remember talk of great evil, the need to fight such evil. I also remember missing the wilds, wishing there were less people around me. I remember being charged with something but I don’t remember what. That part of my mind is still closed by the darkness that engulfed me these past four years. I remember the battle when I fell. I was returning to the place I had called home for several years. I was surrounded and knew I was out powered. I took the form of the tiger and fled. I raced through the forest, the grace and speed of the beast putting distance between me and my enemies. Then I screamed in agony. I fell into my own form. And was no longer my own mind.
I struggle still to understand why this new road befell me. Oh, I know why Qhek wanted one such as me, one who can be literally a fly on a wall to obtain information. But why me specifically? Maybe because my prior path was one of solitude and few would miss me? It would not be uncommon to not see me at another Circle gathering. At least I had value. I have seen what he did to those he did not find value and know that my skills helped prevent my mind from being completely shattered, my self completely lost. And my skill grew. Qhek had many a beast I had no knowledge of, and my own desire to know them and the need to take their from for his biddings had the advantage of me being allowed to be alone at times near those which my soul most connects.
And I knew his secrets. Spying on his enemies and his “friends.” Some he took from my mind, but others remain, perhaps because taking them would damage me beyond usefulness? Truly, I wish at times he had shattered my mind. I wish he had taken the memories of the innocent flesh my great paws tore through at his bidding.
And so I was safe. Well, safer than others. The beginning was not as easy as my soul longed for the freedom it had always sought. But with time, four long years, I learned, or rather was forced to learn, that for my own well-being it was better to behave.
Now I remember the days before the journey. I remember the feeling of peace while lazing in a great tree. My tail flicking in the warm air watching for the monsters that had invaded the lands and sought to destroy it. My heart and my soul yearn for those days. They were simpler. But I cannot remember everything. I vividly recall the first hideous monstrosity that tried to infect the wilds. Although nearly perishing in the process (I was still so young), I brought it down, taking one of it’s hideous eyes, preserving it and weaving it into the vines and woods of the wilds that I had formed into a necklace together with the same of land of my birth. But what of this small drum I carry? It is well made. A skill I know I do not have. And the skin and wood used to make it are not of the wilds. Yet it is very dear to me and I do not remember why.
How I would love to return to the wilds. But I cannot. Not yet at least. I must travel with my companions. Once enslaved together by Qhek, we know there is a greater evil to overcome before we can part. If we ever truly can. And part of me is deeply afraid to leave them. Afraid if I do that I will dwell too much in my own mind and experiences and not in our collective slavery. I fear what I am capable of. Was it all by Qhek’s bidding or is there a true beast inside me? Did he create this uncertainty in my mind? Or is there a darkness in me he drew out? It seems irrational. I remember doing good, protecting the wilds. But now I doubt my motives. Was it for the wilds that I destroyed monsters? Or did I find pleasure in it? I shudder and daily try to rid my mind of these thoughts. But they will not go.