Flames of War

Ozruk's Journal - Part 1

What really happened

13 Ixen, 1437

It has been nearly a month since the accident, since I damned my soul.
I don’t know why I’m writing this down, maybe I’m hoping sharing it in secret like this will make it easier.

I was searching for a job, I was trying to save up enough to afford to go to school, to study magic like my father. I did odd jobs but with the horse trading season over and the cold of winter there weren’t too many jobs to be had.

I had a dream time, in it, I could see the familiar streets, and I came to an unfamiliar store, a new Alchemy shop that had opened up. The door opened, and the dream ended. I was curious about what this meant and decided to head over to the shop in the morning. When I got there, I saw the store owner, a man named Ertealean putting up a help wanted sign. I quickly rushed up and inquired, he looked at me for a moment then explained he needed a shop clerk to run the store, basic cleaning and the like, nothing too hard or fancy. I accepted and started working right away.

It was simple work, sweep the floors, deal with a few customers once I got used to the prices, clean up the mess after somebody spills something smelly. I was working there for a couple of weeks. His lab was in the basement, and I was forbidden from going down there. He kept it locked and often I could smell odd things from that door but he was paying me good coin, and I did not want to screw this job up.

The job was good and easy, but Ertealean creeped me out, I should have taken my instincts as a warning, I just disregarded them because I tended to be suspicious of everybody.

One day he asked me if I could stay a bit late and help organize some batches of potions he had been working on and asked me to help bring them up from the basement. I didn’t think about it and said, of course, I would. He opened the basement door and a stink of Sulphur wafted up that was particularly pungent. He bid me go ahead, and I went on down. I only made it halfway down the stairs before I saw HIM. I made eye contact and froze like a wild animal suddenly faced with a predator.

The demon was a hulking monstrosity in the center of the room, arcane symbols on the floor denoted the magical barrier that was containing him. His eyes were red pools of malice, and I could see him flexing and straining against the barrier that held him at bay. I started to move backward when Ertealean grabbed me, and suddenly I found myself being propelled down the stairs into the room.

What followed next was a nightmare. I screamed for help, but the thick floors and closed shop meant nobody was nearby to hear. He revealed that he brought me here to serve as a body to bind the demon’s soul to so he could tap its power. My Tiefling blood, my connection to the infernal he felt made me an ideal candidate for this. Plus the fact that I was a young woman and somebody he could easily overpower made me an even better choice. He hurt me then and kept hurting me. He enjoyed inflicting pain, that unease I felt around him I realized was my instincts sensing a predator nearby, and now it was too late. Once he was done with me, I was tied back up, told me he needed to gather a few supplies to complete the ritual, kicked me in the ribs before he left laughing. I could only cry in fear and shame; my clothes had been torn from me, and I was stained with my own blood.

After he had left I heard the demon, Malkior ask me if I wanted to live, that he could give me the strength to live. I was scared; I didn’t know if when Ertealean did his ritual if my soul would be destroyed or I would be entrapped. He asked me again if I accepted his offer and in my fear, I said yes.

The feeling of the power is indescribable. I could feel it shoot through me like a shock and I could feel every nerve ending in my body tingling. It wasn’t just raw power however, I had invited in something foul, and I could feel the corruption inside of me. I felt my hands burning with hellfire and the ropes binding me burned away. I was free but had nowhere to run; I had heard Ertealean relock the door when he left, probably out of habit.

I hide behind a desk. The demon watched silently. The door reopened, and I heard him coming down the stairs, near the base he stopped, suddenly realizing something was wrong. I ran then. His back was turned and so as I darted behind him, I shoved him to buy myself more time to escape. As I climbed the stairs, I saw from the corner of my eye him stumble into his own summoning circle, and I heard him scream “NO!” as Malkior reached out to seize him with a snarl.

Everything turned white then. I felt myself floating, I felt pain, I hit something, then something else, the world spun around me then when I hit something else the world turned mercifully black.

I was in a near coma for almost a month drifting in and out of consciousness. My father was there by my side the entire time. I didn’t think about it but he would have seen my injuries and known how I came to bear them. He must have known all along about what had happened to me, given what I would find out later he probably even knew then what I had become. Luci was a very frequent visitor to my side as well with the occasional visit by Braum. I was incoherent this whole time, and even Luci’s simple healing spells would have little effect. I kept babbling in infernal things that did not make sense.
My fever finally broke, and I awoke. I’m filled with despair now. I caused somebody to die; I could feel the power bubbling beneath the surface. Everything felt tainted and dirty no matter how hot the bath or how much I scrubbed. I keep breaking down crying, and this feeling of shame does not leave me even as I repeat to myself that I had no choice.

27 Ixen, 1437
Algus keeps checking up on me, he has always been a father to me since I came here, I assure him I am okay, but I think he sees the lie in my words. Luci and Braum also come by to check on me. Their concern is touching, and I smile back and assure them too that I am okay.
Everybody assumed the explosion was caused by the alchemical lab. Algus just said I was fortunate to have been thrown clear in the explosion.
I want to tell him, but I’m ashamed of what happened, how could I live with him knowing.

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shial

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