You dare to question me? You sit here, safe behind your walls, as far from the fight as you can get, and you think that you have the right to dictate how I go to battle? I'm out there, every day, bringing the fight to them. I've seen death and destruction that you can't comprehend. You've been in your tower here for a century, while I've been out there, seeing it get worse.
And it has gotten so much worse, worse than you can imagine. When you were in the fight, we'd spend months chasing down leads, looking for any indication of evil that we could squash. And fine, back then we could have standards on what we would and wouldn't do. But it isn't like that anymore. They aren't hiding in the shadows, performing their secret rites in underground temples, basements, or sewers. They are coming, for us, and for everyone else.
In the last year you were in the field, we found one cult devoted to Oditio, and only one of them was a true believer. The others thought they were being clever, paying the Price and sneaking off to the basement of clubs for debauched orgies. They were gathering power, and funneling it to the Devil, but they only wanted some hedonistic fun. We eliminated the leader, and shattered the cell, but the rest could live.
In the last year I've been in the field, I've had a succubus attempt to subvert me, I've been attacked by a coven of vampires, I've seen a ritual meant to pull a fiend from the Pits into our world and only stopped it by slaughtering the thirteen participants - one of them a willing sacrifice who just would have done it again if I had let her live. I've spent my own blood to find them and bring them down, while you've spent your money.
If you want to dictate terms, get your ass out in the field and feel the fetid breath of demon on your face. Or take your new pet wizard and dictate to her. I'm in this fight to the end, and I will still help you, but I'm doing it my way.
Aldris grew up in one of the few permanent towns on the edge of the Marklan desert. He lived a fairly sedate life, learning to hunt the desert from his father. He learned the Scopulae methods of concealing themselves in the desert, and the use of the sling, but he always wanted more. When he declared himself an adult at the age of 103, he told his family that he had to leave and explore the world. They knew it was his calling, and told him he would always have a place there.
At first, his life was an adventure. He met a group of wandering artists, thespians, and musicians, and was welcomed into their company. He began to travel with them, using his skills to provide meat for the communal cookpots, and learning various arts from his fellows. He was never better than an average singer or actor, but he was a skilled sculptor, and his artwork soon joined the others as a draw when they passed through a town. As they were setting up in a small town on the coast of Helion, Aakal Ebenezer Venfaren visited their shop, and was impressed with their work. He was particularly impressed with some of the religious sculptures that Aldris had made, and ended up purchasing several for ridiculous prices. The entire company was thrilled, and when they pulled up stakes a few days later, they had more money than the troupe had seen before. They purchased wagons and supplies, and set up camp a half a day from the city and held a private feast. Everyone toasted Aldris as their good luck charm, and he went to sleep more content than he had ever been.
That night, he dreamed of the man who had bought so much of his art. Venfaren told him he was in danger, and that he should gather his fellows and return to the city. He woke, and could not tell if it was a dream or a true vision, but he couldn't shake the idea that it might be true. He dressed quietly, and decided to scout around the forest to see if there was anything dangerous. He was well over a mile from the camp when he saw a figure wandering through the woods. Wishing he was in more familiar territory, he tried to creep up on it. He got to within a dozen yards, when he made a noise and the creature looked his way.
Aldris recoiled in horror when he saw the face of the creature. It only had a few patches of skin left, as most of it looked to have rotted away. An open gash had replaced its nose, and its teeth were bared with no lips to cover them. The eyes were milky and lidless, but somehow it sensed his presence and started to move towards him. He was too close for his sling, so he fumbled for a dagger. As the creature approached, he launched himself at it, plunging the dagger in its breast. The creature threw him back, ignoring the dagger sticking out of it. Aldris hit the ground hard, cracking his skull and giving him double vision. He could barely make out what happened next, as bright light and heat washed over the area. He passed out, and didn't wake until late in the morning.
When he did awaken, he had a crushing headache and a little of the double vision. As he rubbed his eyes to try and clear it, he saw that he was in the same place, but Venfaren was there, cooking something over a small fire. When Venfaren saw he was awake, he brought Aldris a mug of a bitter smelling black liquid. Aldris drank, and his head began to clear. Venfaren explained that he had a vision of what would happen, and came as quickly as he could. He found Aldris being attacked by a wight, and was able to defeat it. After making sure Aldris was Ok, he continued on to the rest of the troupe. He got there too late, after the battle had been lost.
Aldris got to his feet, still unsteady, but pushed forward. Venfaren tried to stop him, but not hard. Aldris moved as quickly as he could, and soon enough had arrived at the camp. There, he found the remains of his troupe. They had been dragged from their wagons and bedrolls, and ripped apart by teeth and claws. The more Aldris looked, the more clear it became that large parts of each person were just gone, and the only conclusion he could come to was that they had been eaten alive. He bent over, throwing up the drink Venfaren had given him, and bringing a new rush of doubled vision. When he was able to contain his bile, he walked to the center of camp. There, he pulled his dagger, and placed the blade in his palm.
In the center of the devestation, he sliced his palm with the knife, letting his blood mix in with the blood of his fellows. He swore to avenge their deaths, and prayed that he would be able to see them all again. As his blood dripped down, a force welled up in him, offering power to avenge them if he would continue to offer his own blood in return. He took the deal, and returned to where he had left Venfaren. The mage looked at him, and briefly closed his eyes. Then he straightened, looked squarely at Aldris, and said, "Let me tell you about The Circle."
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