The court made a contract with the deer – that their faces would be hidden and their kingdom likewise.
In time the contact would prove so powerful that the mask became the face – and the court was truly forgotten.
Of all the people to grace the throne of the Empire – none was as unlikely nor as beloved as Empress Marina I.
If you see a raven in flight it is on the way to claim the soul of someone wicked who has passed. It is in their nature to seek out carrion and evil.
A powerful warlock once lived on the outskirts of a hunting camp. When the hunters failed and never returned – dooming their families to starvation – blame was cast at his feet. As the warlock died not one – but twelve – ravens came to claim his soul. For such was the weight of his sins. Although the failed hunt was not counted amongst them.
The skulls of the ravens became the first of these cursed weapons. Always crafted in sets of twelve – although – it is rumored that clever witches create one last arrow to represent the unjust killing of the warlock. The curse of the tirtheenth arrow is one of death.
“No. It is not an assassins weapon as such – but I can see why you’d be confused. You see the etchings alongside the snake design? They are not just decorative. They are a coded reference to the craftsman and that – my friend – is a practice found only in the great city state of Syradin
Syradin – or “Syradinapolis” as it was in the Old Empire – is an ancient city built upon layers of older foundations that has long since sunk into the soft clay that makes up most of the earth in that region. As such the city stretches as far into the earth as it does above it. And that means – I hope you are not squeamish – rats. Multitudes of rats nesting in tunnels that has not seen the light of day for centuries. Squirming, diseased swarms of rodents that can strip the flesh from a person in a matter of seconds and burst through the walls into your bedroom with little to no warning. I see you get the picture.
The Rat Catchers Guild is possibly one of the most powerful organisations in Syradin, rivaled only – I see the light of emerging understanding on your face now – The Snake Charmer Guild. So you see – dearest customer – this trinket does not belong to an assassin. It’s an extermination tool – best not ask why they need them this sharp.”
Hidden under tattered robes and clutched to the chest of the remains of the acolyte – his spellbook has been protected from the ravages of fire and time. Mostly.
The book – while badly damaged – can still be partially read. Besides the pages containing spells, incantations and rituals – the last page has been used to scribble down a hurried journal entry:
“I can sense the passing of the souls of my brothers and hear the screams of the sacred legionaires. It was naive to think we could hold back the forces of the corrupt emperor. He has sent Arddrach-Kinziru to deal a final blow to the northern temples. We shall fall.
I have sent the initiates to H’lema. She will make use of them to spite the enemy. As i will now spite them by denying them the knowledge of our Lord. Arddrach-Kinziru will never know of Death Walking. He will never gaze past the veil.
I hear fighting near the altars. May the blood spilt strengthen Ianus. May he smite them all with the death they so fear. May they learn the most bitter lesson of our Lord – without love of death, there can be no love of life.”
I shall shatter the gem and release the spirit of destruction. Know that I was B’raish – acolyte of Ianus – in life and death I defied the fallen empire.
For occasions where “what are you the god of again?” might be a line for you.