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Revenant: The Dying Realm
Book 1: Awakening
Chapter 1: Meridian
Above the canopy of thick evergreens, towering oaks, and ancient ash trees the twin moons of
Eras shined full and bright. No cloud in the sky dared to obscure or impede on the moons’ territory in
the heavens. According to the local folklore, the two celestial bodies reaching the climax of their cycle
was a sign of good luck for travelers. Between the twin moons burned the brightest star in the sky,
marking the heavens with an intensity that rivaled their own light. At the height of the lunar cycle,
when both moons were mirrored each other as full, silver spheres with the light of the star in between,
this trinity was able to compete with the light of the dying sun, turning the night into an extended
twilight. Because of this, those few travelers daring enough to venture out at night would at least be
able to see danger coming before it took them head on. Not exactly an inspiring superstition, but for
those unfortunate enough to call the dying realm of Eras their home, hope was often just out of reach.
The lingering snow of a winter which refused to die reflected the light of the night sky and
illuminated much of the forest, though those shadows which remained were an impenetrable black
from which no light could escape. The forest was far to the Northern reaches of Eras, and the slightest
change in temperature was often enough to set off a meteorological chain reaction which invariably led
to flurries and blizzards. As such, this area was known as the Northern Wastes and was far from a
In a hollowed out pocket of an ancient oak, a single squirrel stirred as the first rays of the dawn
began to climb over the horizon. The squirrel was cold, unable to retain sufficient heat because of the
patches of irritated, hairless skin exposed to the cold weather. It was plagued by an extra set of
withered, vestigial limbs dangling uselessly from its chest and an oversized, lidless eyeball protruding
from its cheek like a pimple. Sleep was hard to accomplish in these conditions, but it managed to curled
into itself tightly and descended once more into whatever world squirrels dream of.
It would be another hour or so before the sun's rays would be visible through the snowladen
branches of the forest but already the smell of a crisp spring morning was in the air. A flock of wild
jaybirds, having recently concluded their migratory return to their northern homes, stretched their
wings and hopped from branch to branch. A few sung songs in defiance of the darkness, though most
chose to remain silent. The moonlight glinted off their razor sharp talons and curved beaks. The
jaybirds lucky enough to have been born with one head were able to hold a steady rhythm when singing
their songs, but the rest were unable to keep the duet of their malformed heads on cue; this fact should
be forgivable once it is noted that each of the twoheaded birds would still only have one set of lungs.
With glowing red eyes, the jaybirds sung songs closer to snarls and hisses than chirps and tweets.
What was left of the winter's snow on the forest floor was now coated with a crisp layer of fresh
ice. Blades of lush, green grass fought up from beneath the snow where it wasn’t too high, though each
of these blades had been coated in its own layer of frozen dew which crunched underfoot. Together,
these sounds of the forest played a persistent melody as the traveler made his way towards civilization.
He had been walking for days, stopping for little more than to eat hunted game and sleep a few
hours at a time. Unlike the jaybirds, he was heading south. He was traveling from the arctic wasteland
of the Northern Sea, an area far removed from the prying eyes of any settlements. Had he been paying
closer attention, he would have noticed the forest thinning out as he trudged through the snow. Trees
were growing more sparse as he drew closer to the civilized world. With his heightened senses, he
should have picked up on the crisp, telltale smell of a cool spring morning. His hearing was sharp
enough to allow him to have heard the disfigured squirrel shifting in its oak home, though even the
Jaybirds' snarling tunes went unnoticed. A man in his position cannot afford to be careless, to lose
touch with his surroundings. Such carelessness in Eras is a surefire way to find oneself in danger;
doing so at night was simply asking for death.
His seeming lack of awareness was misleading, however, and this act was much to his benefit.
Out of all the signs he overlooked, Rev was honed in on one fragment of his surroundings which more
than revealed morning's fast approach:
His pursuers were growing anxious.
They must have picked up his scent miles back, and Rev was disturbed by how long it took him
to realize he was being tracked. Since sunset 3 days ago, Rev had been cutting through these woods. He
noticed them before nightfall this night, so he had to skip sleep or risk becoming all too obvious of a
target. Wolves, most likely, probably around eight, judging from the sounds of their movement. Smart,
too, to have stayed under his radar for as long as they did. But he had smelled them long before he
heard them, as they were plagued with the unerring smell of death. Rotting tissue, probably their last
meal stuck between their teeth.
But the approaching light meant the nocturnal hunters would be disadvantaged. Tired, too
hungry to perform at their peak, and already Rev could tell they were growing impatient. The wolves
probably realized just how close he was to the end of the wooded path, how close they were to losing
him to the safety of the nearby town. They had silently stalked him for miles, but were now growling
orders to each other, the occasional bark of insubordination to the Alpha, a howl of anticipation, the
smacking of hungry lips. The Jaybird melody may as well have been nonexistent, though Rev heard
every sound his predators made with clarity. He even caught the yellow light of a pair of eyes more
than once as they glared at him from a safe distance, obscured by the cover of bushes and fallen trees.
The wolves themselves probably didn't think twice about their rising mistakes; to a normal man, the
pack would have been nearsilent, no more than wisps of wind through the brush. But they had
surveyed their prey well enough to determine he was no ordinary man and so they had bided their time
accordingly. Now, however, their time was running out.
Rev had every intention of using their eagerness to his advantage. Eight to one wasn't a fair
fight, so he would have to even the odds. He kept his pace steady, listening to the pack of wolves match
it perfectly from every direction. He had been surrounded for some time, but acting too soon would
have been a death sentence. The wolves had been waiting for him to make a mistake, but now their
hunger was fueling their impatience.
Rev reached a break in the trees, a circular area a few yards wide which would force any of the
beasts who attacked him to do so without cover; in the light of the twin moons he would see them
coming. Now was was time, he knew, and his heart rate quickened with anticipation. With each beat a
pulse of energy flew through his entire body, preparing him for the approaching fight. The adventurer’s
hand drifted to his belt where his newfound dagger hung, waiting for a chance to be used again. It was
an ancient thing, blade about a foot long, curved like a hawk's talon and steel darker than an overcast
night, reflecting light in a way that looked out of place in this world. He rested his hand casually on the
wrapped leather handle, rubbed the sharp, black crystal on the base. At his touch the crystal seemed to
light itself with an inner glow, drawing his eye to it as a black hole draws light within.
“Not now,” a voice not his own echoed in his mind. “W
e cannot risk damaging it .” Though he
had reservations against fighting an entire pack of wolves with his bare hands, Rev decided it would be
best to heed the advice. For now, at least.
Rev suddenly twisted his body in a violent jerk, unleashed a pained cry, and dropped to his butt
with his legs raised in the air, left ankle gripped tight. He rolled in the snow, creating such a scene that a
horde of Jaybirds scattered from their perches with vicious snarls.
“Oh, mercy me!” The adventurer called out into the darkness, “I do seem to have hurt my poor
little foot!” This was, of course, a bluff to draw out one of the wolves. Without hesitation, a single beast
bounded from the brush with a c rash , sending twigs and torn leaves cascading in its path.
Rev's elation at his own selfdescribed genius plan was eclipsed by the sinking of his heart in
his chest. This was not a wolf, not anymore. Though it still held its canine shape, it stood much taller
than the average wolf and seemed to have been freed from the confines of its skin. The creature
bounding towards Rev was nothing but tight, knotted muscles, bulging eyes and snapping jaws. The
exposed muscle wept with blood, leaving a trail in its path through the snow. Bones yellow with grease
jutted out from its shoulders, hips, and paws. From its paws black claws as sharp as razors tore at the
air, meeting about as much resistance there as they would when they tore through Rev’s flesh. A trail of
bony growths jutted from the creature’s spine, a line of spikes leading to the base of its twitching tail.
Its face was nothing more than a bare skull, teeth perpetually bared in an ugly grimace, eyeballs with
shining yellow irises which seemed ready to roll out of their sockets at any given moment.
The wolflike abomination was aimed at Rev like a heatseeking missile, giving him little more
than a breath to take in the disturbing sight of it before its jaws were poised to snap inches from his
face and he could feel the heat of its breath on his neck. The full weight of the wolf hit him, and he
used the weight of the impact to his advantage, rolling with the the beast while it clawed and crunched
at the air.
It was much faster than he had expected, thanks in no small part to its obvious mutations. Rev
was able to slip his left forearm into what little space between his carotid artery and the closing maw of
the beast before its jaw locked shut tight. Its fangs pierced Rev's arm with no regard towards mercy,
though in their rolling the wolf had lost its balance. Rev used the arm currently being gnawed on as a
post to keep the beast's head at a distance, but he couldn't keep its clawing forepaws from tearing at his
chest. By now the others would be charging as well, he knew, though he couldn't hear anything over the
snarls of the single wolf on top of him now. Blood flowed out from its exposed muscle onto Rev like
hot rain, steam rose around them in billowing wisps.
Rev couldn't help but smile when he saw his opportunity. Thick muscle banded over most of the
wolf's chest, and it may as well have been steel when reinforced with the adrenaline fueling the
monster's every move. But was a large infection on its rib cage, a festering blister from which a stream
of pus drained from a puckering hole. A weak spot in the form of one open wound on a beast little
more than a giant, walking, open wound.
Rev pulled back his right arm, relinquishing more of his left to the beast’s jaws as he did so, and
drove his fist into the infection with a mighty jab. He felt the damaged muscle squish and give way,
quickly turning the wolf’s snarls into a single frightened yelp as the wolf released his arm in shock. The
blood streaming down Rev’s arm joined the hot rain of the skinless wolf’s blood as it reared back in
The unidentifiable goop Rev's hand now swam through made him feel like he had just punched
his way into a pumpkin, though that thought was quickly interrupted. Rev picked up the sounds of
pounding footsteps as another wolf sprinted to them to support its eager brother. It was nothing more
than a shadow to him now but Rev knew if it was as fast as the wolf who had attacked first he was
short on time. Rev kept the howling beast up as a shield between himself and the approaching wolf,
while his right hand navigated the insides of his attacker. He clenched a mass of spongy muscle and
pulled. In his grip, exposed to elements, he held the beast’s racing heart, pulled free from the protection
of its ribcage.
This move brought the monstrous creature to a hard stop. It went limp without a second thought
and Rev held deadweight of its corpse up with both hands for the span of a single blink by then, the
new attacker had pounced, biting and tearing at whatever flesh it could fit into its snapping jaws. The
tangled mass of flailing limbs, streaming blood, and gnashing teeth created by the impact rolled across
the clearing, the latest attacker tearing flesh the whole time with such intensity that sounds of ripping
could be heard over its enthusiastic growls. When the attacking wolf finally stopped the roll and stood
to face its captured prey, it found only the damaged remains of its skinless brother. The new wolf tasted
the hot blood in its muzzle to confirm this; Rev hav rolled to safety at the last second.
On his feet in an instant, Rev was able to observe his enemies in full as they emerged from the
black shadows of the forest into the light of the twin moons. The predators formed an aggressive
halfcircle formation, approaching quickly. Five of the wolves still held onto their skin, complete with
mangy grey fur pockmarked by patches of oozing, pinkish flesh barely clinging to their bodies. The
outlines of damaged ribs pressed against their hides, stomachs pulled high up from obvious starvation.
A few were missing eyes, broken tails dragged behind others, one was even hobbling along on three
legs. Torn flesh exposed infected muscle, segments of skulls, allowed another to drag its own internal
organs in a loose, quivering pile behind it.
Undead wolves, if Rev had ever seen any (though admittedly, he never had) and that would
account for the rancid smell that had been following him this whole time. If he could take them out one
at a time, they would be easy game. Undead are mindless, in constant need of direction, and very easy
to kill if you know what you’re doing. But undead were always answering to a higher power, and Rev
could sense that’s where the real problem lay for him. Whatever was commanding a pack of wolves
this large would be a formidable opponent, especially unarmed. Rev backpedaled to the edge of the
clearing away from the approaching wolves and sized them up one by one; not unsurprisingly, none of
them could ever fit the bill of anything other than undead minion. It was just when he was beginning to
feel cornered that they halted, sat on their haunches, and began to howl with a force that stirred the
trees around them.
An enormous shadow appeared behind the howling wolves, Rev measured it to be about seven
feet tall at the shoulders. It was quadrupedal, almost resembling an oversized wolf as it stepped slowly
and deliberately with the steady confidence of an apex predator. Though the shadow moved silently, its
burning footsteps left prints of rising steam and charred, smoking grass in its wake. When the figure
passed into the light, there was little transition from dark shadow to jet black fur. Spikes of bone
erupted from its shoulders and back in ornamental displays. Banded muscle stretched its skin to its
limit and flexed threateningly with every step the beast took.
A thick, tangled mane hung from the base of the Alpha’s skull, down its chest and shoulders,
tangled with sticks and bones and matted with mud and blood. It’s head was angular, distinctly canine
with an elongated snout but sported a pair of black, pointed horns reminiscent of a trophy bucks,
though much stockier, tipped with razor sharp thorns designed to mutilate prey. Pointed ears twitched
eagerly as a pointed tail lashed the air like a whip at its flank. Its lips were pulled back to bare yellow
teeth and black, infected gums. Rev could not pull his focus away from the burning coals resting in the
beast’s skull where eyes should have been: the telltale sign of a demon in the flesh.
Get it together! Rev scolded himself when he realized he had forgotten something: he had lost
count of his attackers. With the Alpha in sight, Rev took a second to analyze the scene. Including the
skinless wolf he had killed, he could only see seven figures, and Rev was positive he had counted eight
wolves tracking him. The Alpha’s entrance hadn’t been just for show, it had been an incredibly
As if on cue, the Alpha howled and as the pack in front of him hit a full sprint, weaving
between trees and leaping over logs and bushes and Rev heard a similar sound behind him. He turned
just in time to catch the sight of another skinless wolf on the move, the ambush he had lost track of. It
leapt into the air, jaws first. Rev avoided the the fatal damage of the bite but was still hit full force by
the undead predator. The two bodies crashed onto the ground with a thud, and Rev’s shoulder was torn
open by the sharp edge of a large, jagged rock at the base of a tree. Knowing he needed a fast kill, Rev
grabbed the skinless wolf by the banded muscle layered on the back of its skull as it lunged in for
another bite. Rev redirected the wolf’s momentum as he sidestepped the attack, and the wolf’s
snapping maw collided with the pointed tip of the rock with teethshattering force, temporarily
crippling the wolf. Rev finished the monster by stomping on its skull, driving the jagged corner of the
stone through the back of the undead wolf’s weakened skill with a crack of bone and squelch of
damaged tissue. Runny brain tissue clung to the edge of the stone which had forced its way through the
wolf’s skull. Besides the frantic twitch of dead limbs, the beast was still.
The others were upon him now, led by the Alpha. Rev dodged blurs of attacking beasts,
chomping jaws as he shuffled backwards in an attempt to keep distance between himself and what was
left of the pack. They offered him no reprieve, however, moving in perfect unison as they closed the
oo p erfect, Rev realized as it dawned on him that the Alpha was hanging just out of reach, using
the undead like puppets, controlling their every move as easily as it controlled its own. They fought
with the singular purpose of killing him, a single mind attacking from every direction. One jumped at
him from the right but when Rev kicked it back with one foot he found himself beset from the left by
two more. He shoved his hands into one of the snarling mouths, getting a firm grip on top and bottom
teeth, and, working against the weak, rotten muscle of the snarling creature, tore the wolf's bottom jaw
right of the skull. This wolf collapsed and Rev took the opportunity to grasp the snout of its fellow
attacker and snap its neck, bringing it down as well. Even then, his enemies were relentless, driven by
the scent of blood in the air. They moved in perfect balance, but Rev knew he was one false step away
from a violent death.
Still shuffling backwards, not daring to turn his back on the demon or the undead, Rev caught
his foot in the open entrance to some burrowing creature's den. He hadn't even hit the ground before the
undead wolves had closed their jaws on him, one on each wrist and another tightly around his throat,
forcing him upright on his knees restricting his breathing. Rev shut his eyes tight, bracing himself for
the tearing of teeth through his flesh like countless guillotines. And yet, despite his struggling, the
wolves did not clamp down to finish the kill; their teeth dug in just enough to hold him in place.
They were putting him on display for the demon, an offering to their Alpha. Rev felt beads of
blood trickle out of each puncture made by the wolves' teeth, their tongues running over his flesh as
they drank his essence. He didn't dare move his neck, but he wriggled his arms and felt that, even
though their jaws were set tight, the decaying flesh of his captors had some give. His eyes met the
Alpha's, the towering demon approaching the display presented to it by its puppets. It left a trail of
smoking grass with every step. The demon was growling, a sick, guttural noise from the bottom of its
throat, a noise that seemed more like laughter than a threat. It licked its lips as it circled the scene a few
times, finally stopping once more face to face with Rev. Its putrid breath came out in clouds in the cold,
close enough to Rev's face to fog his vision.
“Tell me, demon,” Rev looked into the burning coals of the Alpha’s eyes as it licked its lips an
inch from his face. “What world are you from? Because I’d hate to send you back to the wrong hell.” It
uttered another round of growling laughter before slashing a burning claw across Rev’s chest, cutting
into the warrior while the undead wolves held him in place. Rev cried out in pain and his vision flashed
red, but the resulting surge of adrenaline made boosted his battleready mindset to the next level. I will
not be killed by this joke of a puppeteer, R
ev told himself.
With preternatural strength he yanked his right arm forward with enough force to wrest the
exposed skull from the shoulders of the rotting abomination whose teeth were clamped on his wrist. Its
body hit the ground with a thud though its jaws were still locked tight on Rev's arm. His hand found the
dagger latched to his belt and by the time the demon had a chance to react its throat had been slit,
boiling blood pouring erupting from the wound like a geyser. Streams of it sprayed Rev, burning holes
in his clothes and in his skin. The two undead wolves latched onto Rev released him in pained howls,
reeling back from the pain that was not theirs but struck them just the same.
The Alpha could emit nothing more than a bubbling gurgle, stumbling in the red hot slush
around its feet. With the skull still digging into his arm, Rev moved in for the kill, driving the black
blade into the demon's tendons, severing arteries. Each attack was well placed and intentional, leaving
the demon an immobile, bleeding mess, twitching and gurgling in the bubbling pool of crimson beneath
it. The Alpha issued a final, gurgled howl as its once intimidating body withered, muscle seemingly
fading into nothingness as shriveling skin tightened around bone, revealing every detail of the skeleton
underneath. Within seconds, it had been gone from looking like a demonic raisin to crumbling to a pile
of ash, lines of red embers still burning at its core. From the ash protruded the demon’s heart.
With their leader defeated, the remaining two wolves fled mindlessly into the woods, feeling
nothing but the fear emanating from the demon, but already their bodies were decomposing rapidly
without the dark magic keeping them together. They didn't make it far before collapsing into steaming
heaps of rotting flesh themselves.
With that taken care of, Rev found a seat in the melting snow and inspected his own injuries.
Nothing life threatening, though he looked like he was a member of the walking dead himself.
Drenched in a cocktail of undead, demon, and his own blood, he was a mess by anyone’s standards.
Still, he had survived.
The creatures of the forest had fallen silent during the battle, but with the wolves dead the
Jaybirds picked their snarling song back up and the squirrels resumed their stirring. The sun was on its
way, the demons had been slain, the world was quickly becoming a better place for everyone but Rev,
that was. There was another creature approaching, one who moved with a silence that made the wolf
pack seem like amateurs. For reasons Rev was still trying to grasp, he could sense its presence as easily
as he could sense himself. He sighed heavily before turning to face his scolding.
Lording above him, the large, horned owl roosted on a gnarled branch. It was as white as the
snow coating the forest, His chest was puffed up, pointed feathers on his head gave the impression of
horns put on display, blood red eyes bearing no pupils but seeming to see everything underneath a
furrowed brow o h yeah, Rev thought, h e's pissed. Orokai, Rev's notsotrusted socalled guardian.
The owl had accompanied Rev back from the Frozen Wastes, claiming to be a spiritual guide. The truth
of it was, the owl had just been the first thing to approach him after he, well
“I told you not to use that dagger.” Orokai’s booming voice interrupted Rev’s thoughts. The
owl's beak never moved, opting instead to use telepathy its words to be echoed in Rev's mind. Rev
supposed this approach made at least a little more sense than requiring Orokai to exercise his vocal
chords, as the sight of an owl literally speaking, moving beak and all, would be a little too ridiculous
for his tastes.
“You're right, I should have tried drowning them in my own blood once they ripped my throat
out,” Rev snapped, still affected by the rush of being ambushed. He had never been shy to express his
resentment of the owl’s commanding attitude. “Damn, how cool would that have been? Then you could
just drag my corpse through the rest of this journey and not have to worry about me fucking it up for
“ Don't.” I t was a simple enough command, and Rev reeled in his emotions as best he could.
“Hm. Where were you, anyway? You could have at least given me a hand.”
“ You could have not drawn them out to attack you. You could have realized how close to
Meridian we are, a town controlled by the Creed of Seya. Those undead were led by a demon, weak as
it was it would have been smart enough to stay far away from those sworn to destroy it. A demon who
will flee to the shadows in the light of day, to protect both itself and its undead minions. A demon who
could have ended you without a second thought. If they were going to attack you, they would have done
so long before you noticed them. You need to realize”
“Okay, enough! I get it!” Rev felt his anger building once more. He had just massacred seven
undead and a demon singlehandedly, almost completely unarmed, and he was being lectured? Oh no,
not tonight. Orokai continued, undeterred.
“ You need to realize that this world has changed, it is dying, no longer the world you once knew.
The dead no longer rest, and doorways to other worlds no longer remain closed. Eras is coming
undone, Rev, and one of the tools of that uncreation is in your hands.” The owl’s eyes were fixated on
the curved, black blade of Rev’s dagger.
The dagger definitely felt like some powerful ancient artifact the more he held it. And after
killing the wolves, it seemed... hungry. Like they were appetizers for something bigger. Weapons aren't
supposed to have any amount of sentience at all, and the fact that this one was humming in his hand,
eager for more bloodshed... well, it was unsettling. Disturbing. He sheathed it, believing (but never
admitting) that maybe Orokai was right.
“Meridian, huh?” Rev said casually now, as his heartbeat began to normalize. “How far?”
“ Start walking now, and you'll be in the town's center before midday. But Rev, understand me
when I say this.”
“ Do not make the same mistakes you made here tonight,” O
rokai’s voice in Rev’s head was a
stern warning. “It may appear safe, even quaint, but we are strolling into the home of our enemies. If
we are discovered we'll both suffer for it. I want us out of that town long before night falls. It's too
dangerous to stay a moment longer than we must.”
Rev motioned a pseudosalute, tapping two fingers on his forehead, nodding at the same time.
“Got it, captain. Then let's get started, I could use a hot meal.”
“ Take that with you, Orokai nodded his head towards the ashen remains of the demonic wolf.
“ Maybe if you present them with the heart while explaining why every inch of your clothing is stained
with blood they might not think you're there to kill them all.”
The sun had risen and brought with it a relieving warmth. Rev was thankful for it, as he was
sick of the cold. He had torn his sleeves off and into strips, covering the bite wounds as best he could.
They turned out to be deeper than he had first thought, still wet with pooling blood. Nothing that could
be done about it now, he determined as he casually tossed the heart of the demonic wolf into the air and
letting gravity bring it back to his palm so he could toss it again. Despite having been freed from the
demon’s body for hours now, the flesh of the heart was still hot to the touch and Rev found his
oneplayer game of hot potato the easiest way to deal with the searing heat that left his palms red and
irritated when he held onto the organ for too long.
Reve continued his trek out of the thinning trees of the forest and reached the cracked, black
asphalt of a main road suffering from years, probably centuries, of neglect. A thin layer of snow
covered large portions of the asphalt, but the warmth of the morning sun was doing its part to melt the
snow and reveal the dark road and the faded white and yellow lines marking the path. The path ahead
was visible for miles, and the forest he had left tapered off soon to usher in vast fields on both sides of
the road, though some clumps of trees populated the fields near the road. Tall wooden posts, trees
without limbs, lined the road as well with thick black cables strung between them. He was not lucky
enough to have come across a sign, though he supposed any signs this far from civilization would have
been artifacts from a time long since past and wouldn’t provide any useful direction. They would point
only towards dead cities and ruins.
There was more to this new warmth than just the rising sun. Something in the air had changed
soon after he left the forest, a noticeable shift from the harsh and unwelcoming chill that made the hair
on his neck and arms stand on end like static in the air that he had known since beginning his travels
with Orokai. It was a familiar feeling, the electricity in the air, one he had grown accustomed to and
had come to accept as the norm for life in Eras. But here, there was no static in the air. The air was
filled with nothing but a calm warmth, an embrace instead of a warning. It was a pleasant change of
pace, to be sure, but Rev couldn’t decide if he preferred this new serenity over the edge of the
electricity he had been used to.
The road was pockmarked with deep potholes filled with melting snow and Rev knelt down
beside one and tried to rid himself of the sticky layer of blood coating him. This, however, proved to do
more harm than good by spreading the crimson stains on his clothes, smearing his skin and mixing it
with mud. It was too early for anyone else to be this far out on the road, which Rev figured made his
job easier. He must have looked like a deranged killer, and while he supposed that might not have been
far from the truth it would be easier to gain access to Meridian when not being dragged off into the
dungeons or gallows or whatever the hell these people did with strange, wandering criminals. The
dagger, and all of its hungering energy, was safely stored in the travel bag slung over his shoulder,
away from prying eyes.
Orokai flew by his side, beating Rev's pace with ease by doing more gliding than flying. He
stayed one step ahead of the adventurer, leading him to their destination. That’s what the road is for,
ev silently mocked the owl and wondered if his telepathy worked both ways c an Orokai look
into my thoughts as easily as he can project his own into my mind? For the sake of what little privacy
he had, he certainly hoped this was not the case.
Rev walked several more miles down this road before finally coming across small wooden sign
that marked the road he was on as Route 31, followed by a larger sign that read: Meridian, 5 marks
straight. Forscythe, right onto Route 531 and 20 marks. Acre, 100 marks past Forscythe. The signs
were the deep brown of stained wood with fading white text painted meticulously by hand. Although
Rev preferred the aesthetic of the aesthetic of the green signs with bright white lettering that he had
sometimes run into in his travels, at least he knew he was finally nearing the city.
Above him, black jaybirds twittered as they hopped back and forth on the black cables strung
along the wooden posts. To Rev’s surprise, their twitters actually sounded like chirps instead of hisses
and snarls. They did nothing to threaten him, only stared at him warily as he walked, looking for any
excuse to fly away in terror. Rev was not sure if these creatures even qualified as jaybirds; something
about the place he was approaching saved them from the corruption plaguing Eras, that dangerous
electricity in the air that had done so much harm to the realm.
They reached the crest of a steep hill and could spy the small town of Meridian in the valley
below, just a short walk away by now. It was surrounded by stone walls, which must have been erected
recently. The Old Roads led to the Old Cities, and the Old Cities didn’t have walls, not originally at
least. From his vantage point he could see over the walls, however the buildings centered towards the
middle and acres of untended farmland on the outskirts. With spring on its way, the lands would soon
be plowed and tilled in preparation for the planting season to come.
A cathedral in the center was the only noteworthy landmark, adorned with brilliantly shining
stained glass windows, towering spires reaching for the sky. A large brass bell was stationed in a tower
all its own. Above the cathedral, almost too high for Rev to have noticed, a large dark mass in the shape
of a faceted crystal floated peacefully with a ring of golden steel adorned with pointed thorns rotated in
a slow orbit. Rev thought he was crazy when he first spotted it, but the sight was undeniably there. He
could not even begin to comprehend it, but his curiosity was piqued and so he put that at the top of the
list of things to ask the denizens of Meridian once he made it to the town. The rest of the buildings
seemed small and bland in comparison, as if the architects had just given up after being unable to
match the spectacle of the cathedral.
The sight of the town waiting before him made the skin on his neck tighten, raising his hair on
end. Rev’s hands shook just slightly enough for him to notice. The adventurer had spent his night
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