Cattle die, kinsmen die; the self must also die. I know one thing which never dies: the reputation of each dead man.
Hávamál, st. 77
Tragedy seems to come out of nowhere but when you live the life I live, then you must expect tragedy to happen every day. The losses of live we have suffered these past few days are not without consequence. I am so angry right now. Angry at myself for not preparing for ambush. Angry at that white haired witch just for living. Angry that our greed led us into this cursed country. I could go on but it would be pointless.
Following the incident with the Goblins we pushed onto the city of Shushan The place was huge, by Hyborian standards. Maybe 40-50 thousand people with a thriving slave market and some of the most beautiful dancers I have ever seen. The city is famous for being the home of the best swordsmen in the world. My thoughts on the place was that we should move on very quickly before we got into trouble.
We made our way deep into Shem looking for a lost city. While camping one evening, I was studying with Duralia and Carter and we heard screams. I grabbed my sword and ran from the tent only to be met but a small black man with filed teeth. His spear had gone clean through my side. I screamed and swung my blade without even looking where it would land. The impact against his head did not give me satisfaction. Instead it snapped me to consciousness. I fell. As I got to me feet another one came at me. I gave him the look of the damned and screamed at him. I saw the fear enter his eyes and he backed away muttering a prayer. He threw his spear at me. I ducked and heard the thud and gasp of air as it struck someone coming up behind me. I charged and split the bastard in two.
The battle raged for only a short time but in the end I had killed three. Many in the camp had suffered grievous wounds. Caitlin was dead, a spear through her back. I searched for Sam. I was frantic. Finally I found her outside of Carter’s tent with a spear in her chest. I gave her some healing elixir while I pulled the damned thing out. She recovered quickly. My own wounds were aching but the pain let me know I lived. We found Bethany near Pete’s tent. She had her throat slashed clean to the bone. Only a small sliver of flesh was holding her head on. I tried in vain to save her.
Following this battle we learned the bastards had attacked us trying to free the White Witch that Corey owned as a slave. Apparently she is a goddess in one of those accursed tribes. We talked of slaying her, freeing her, of vengeance, and more. In the end we put her in chains and gagged her. I was the voice of reason. It is not her fault that her people attack us. We would do the same for our people. Its funny how I am always viewed as the cold vicious killer and when it comes to murder, I tend to be the voice of reason. Fear drives me to do horrible things. I refuse to give into my fear.
We said our prayers and buried our dead. We continued on our journey. Near the ruins we met a man who claimed to be from Detroit. A member of the Order of the Hour Glass named Erik or perhaps Eruk. What an odd coincidence that we run into a time traveler named for the city we were originally going to travel to. He had traveled through time as we had but a chance encounter with a strange tower and a demon named Ba’leer, had left him stranded in the dessert. We invited him in and though I wanted to kill him, we treated him with hospitality and courtesy. In the morning he was gone but his clothes, some its of chain, and the Al’azif were left in his place. The Professor freaked out saying I should not have it. Why does he fear me with magical books but not Carter. Carter is far more dangerous than me. I am grateful that he calls me friend. We let Carter hang onto the book and I spoke with him about teaching me Arabic. He has started the lessons and I hope in time that I can read the book myself. The drawings within were terrifying and have intrigued me.
In the ruined city we split up and only half of our company entered while the others remained behind to keep a good camp. We met four warriors who challenged us to battle. After some talk we took them up on the offer and quickly realized our folly. These were truly incredible warriors that showed us quickly how unskilled we were. Before we were totally lost fate intervened. Fifty of those savages came out of the ruins and attacked with fanatical fervor unlike anything I had ever seen. We cut them down like the dogs they were but not before one of them smashed Sam’s head open. As she fell to her death I screamed and went berserk. I don’t know when the battle ended. It just did. I ran to her side and tried to save her. She was gone. Then John was at my side offering his healing elixir. I gave it to her and she opened her eyes. I cried with joy.
The three warriors called themselves The Warriors Three and the woman warrior with them was named Sif. After facing them I realize that they may in fact be the heroes of legend I had read about as a child. If Sif is to become the goddess I loved as a child I would gladly serve her in this life and the next. They chose to join forces with us as we shook hands and shared drink following the battle.
We made our way into a huge building with the top like an Ivory egg. Inside three giant serpents greeted us. I remembered an incantation I had read the night before. One that protected against fire. I charged as I chanted and threw myself into the serpents. As I hit I smashed one of the vials of demon fire and the next thing I knew I was waking up in the street two blocks away. I made my way back, relatively unhurt. My friends were all in tears over my death. When they saw I lived the celebrated. It was funny and good to be alive.
Then we entered and faced the nightmare within. A nine foot tall wizard. He killed Svetlana with the wave of a hand. He lit the warriors we met afire with another. I tried to poison him with the black lotus, tried to blind him with tomb dust, I then heard The Professor scream “The Heart” as he was being cut to pieces by Svetlana. Yes I said Svetlana. She died and now fought against us. I pulled out my ax and threw it at the heart. As it shattered the wizard screamed in pain. Then he took down the warriors one after another. The professor fled the field screaming as Svetlana gave chase. Only John and myself remained. I tried my last trick and smashed my flame powder against the wizard. He ignited and then his pouches started to explode in puffs of demonic fire. The heat singed my hair and scorched my face. The wizard swung his ebon staff in a wide arch. I jumped over it but it smashed into John and I saw his eyes role back. As he fell he swung his sword, a desperate swing, and took the head off of the flaming wizard. I watched that head as I flew through the air and landed at my feet. I laughed. Only I was left standing. I grabbed up some jewels and gold and the staff. Then I remembered John. I ran to his side. I said healing prayers over him. I used acupoints to stem the blood flow.
When we got back to our camp we discovered that Pete and Corey came to The Professor’s aid and cut Svetlana into a few dozen pieces. Now we are rich beyond belief. More gold is here than I ever imagined could exist. We are gathering jeweled weapons, armor, goblets carved of single gemstones, and more gold than Smaug’s horde. The orgie that followed seemed to be of divine inspiration. All of us engaged in a night a passion that will stay in my memory for centuries to come. It was so wonderful it made us forget our dead for a while or perhaps this was our tribute to our dead. I await the future with anticipation. We now embark on the next leg of our destiny and I believe the gods have much in store for us.
I am of two minds. I miss the luxury of the modern age and love the savagery of this one. I miss flying but the joy of riding horses with Sam more than makes up for it. I miss the power of my cybernetics but in this place you don’t need a gimmick to be a man, a man is measured by his honor and his strength and skill. I never want to go home and yet I long for a night in a modern hotel with a hot shower. The Professor is dreading this place and I understand but do not agree.