Extinction Vignette #1 - From the Writings of the Old Man
From the writings of the Old Man 1042 Dolorum Reckoning
The boy doesn’t know it yet, but he is our last hope.
The province of Gular was the first to fall, forgotten hens coming home to roost in the ruins of our ancestors. A millennium or more of blissful ignorance had passed, humanity slowly recovering from an age of war and consigning to oblivion the peril that stalked at the periphery of our world. The inexorable passage of time had erased the last vestiges of cultural memory, taking with them all but the most meager folk tales about the Ravenii, and those who were sworn to defend against them.
When they returned, spilling from their dark portals with the promise of death on their lips, it was as though an entire civilization’s nightmares were made manifest. Humanity would pay the price of their negligence, calling out in vain for Sentinels that had long ago been condemned to a wayward existence in an era of peace.
Gular was the first city to burn.
I found the boy outside the walls of Gularram, standing in solitary defiance of the onslaught, a mercenary fighting for a kingdom that had discarded him. His companion, Xandra, lay injured behind him, a child who had known only conflict as though it were her birthright. The Ravenii and their Jackals pressed around him, threatening to overwhelm the youth and take the capital city for their own.
I could not save the city, but an uncounted number of conquerors and their minions would lay at my feet by midday.
To his credit, the boy fought like a demon, his moves unpracticed and unconventional but fueled by an altruistic rage that threatened to overwhelm him. He protected his companion at the cost of his own safety, Jackals piling up around him as he fought wave after wave of the monsters that outnumbered the city’s defenders by a hundredfold. Had I not encountered him when I did, the darkness would have surely swallowed him, a storm of claws and teeth and flesh overtaking Gularram in a matter of hours.
He was reluctant at first, the fires of rebellion smoldering in his eyes as I pulled him and his companion from the rubble.
“You’re not taking us anywhere,” he protested, good sense outweighed by the courage of youth.
“I can kill you with a word,” I said, allowing the smallest thread of power to enter my voice.
He had little complaint after that.