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Tales of Wickedness and Righteousness: A Chance Encounter

Rising above the hills the sun lit up a campsite where three pilgrims slept. As the beams of light fell upon their heads the pilgrims awoke to greet the new day. One pilgrim went to gather more wood for the fire while another retrieved the food they hoisted onto a tree the night before. Sitting on his cot the third pilgrim was carving deep wounds into his thighs as he recited verses from an ancient poem.

Neither of these pilgrims knew anything about the other, they met a few weeks ago at an inn near the Black Forest outside of Alderbaen. They each were heading to the same destination so they figured they would travel in a group to fare better against the hostile environment.

The food retrieving pilgrim returned to see his companions thigh soaked in blood, tears rolled down the pilgrim’s face as he sliced himself over and over again.

“Are you mad?” The pilgrim said as he saw the man’s leg.

“Penance, my brother. Penance. For I have sinned.”

“What sin have you committed?”

“Theft.”

Opening his rucksack the man pulled out a pouch full of fine cut gems, “I stole them from the caravan that passed us a few days ago.”

“You can’t just mutilate yourself and be forgiven for your sins.”

“And why not?” A new voice said walking from out of the forest from the southwest, “How does one become forgiven?”

The pilgrim turned around, the unknown man was fully cloaked his face was covered but he walked as if he could see everything, “One becomes forgiven by changing his ways. Learning from his mistakes and striving to overcome.”

“Are you sure?” the man said, lifting his hood off, “that’s the only way one can be forgiven?”

“Well of course. Why hurt yourself by mutilating your flesh while you’re hurting yourself for wanting forgiveness for a sin.”

“Because all Gods are different, just as all people are different.” The cloaked man broke out into maniacal laughter, “So who are you to say his mutilation didn’t give him forgiveness?”

“I am Reinheart, son of Fel. Pilgrim to the Go –

Interrupting the man the god swallowed the pilgrim, a grim smile stretch across his face as he wiped a bit of blood from his lip. From the west the second pilgrim returned with fire wood. He witnessed his companion get swallowed whole. He dropped the firewood and notched an arrow onto his bowstring pulling back with all his might. When he fired the arrow he watched as the cloaked man vanished leaving only his cloak to fall to the ground. The man appeared again as a small stream of black light that followed the arrows trajectory, matching its speed. As the arrow fell into the ground the black light disappeared.

The pilgrim who had been cutting himself was staring at the black cloak in despair as the other pilgrim ran to his aid.

“Are you alright?”

“He,” The pilgrim tried to speak, “He ate him. He just stood there and swallowed him whole.”

As the pilgrim finished his sentence the cloaked man appeared behind the firewood gathering pilgrim.

“Of course I did my child.” The cloaked man said, “He was lying to himself. I for one know that self-mutilation is a path to forgiveness, I love the sight of pain and you my friend had done some great damage to your thighs.”

The firewood gathering pilgrim turned white as the cloaked man placed his hand on top of his head. The pilgrim’s eyes rolled into the back of his head and soon blood was pouring from every orifice on his body.

“Who are you?” The pilgrim who was practicing his penance asked.

“I am your Lord; I am Asijin, God of Hedonism. You are my child and I came to tell you that your prayers have been answered.” The God of Hedonism laughed as he saw the penance practicing pilgrim cringe, “I have come to be your release from your sins.”

Lifting the pilgrim who ran to his friend’s aid the God of Hedonism placed the man into his gaping maw eating him in one bite. Asijin stood with the mutilated man until he bled out. When the man had finally deceased Asijin placed a finger on the top of his head and began to twirl his finger in a clockwise motion. After a quick second an intense strand of light came rushing from the top of the deceased man skull and Asijin departed back to his netherworld home along with the soul of the pilgrim.

Tales of Wickedness and Righteousness: The Bakers’ Trip

The room around him constricted his breathing, he couldn’t do anything but scramble helplessly on the ground toward the door. As his hand touched the wooden knob he jerked back, a fuzzy black ant was crawling down the door making eerie clicking sounds. He scrambled backward as the black ant grew in size and hopped around on the floor in front of him.

“Going crazy yet?” The black ant screeched.

He placed his hands on his face, his mouth dropped as he tried to utter a frightful scream but nothing came out.

It’s all in your head. The man thought to himself.

The black ant looked up, its body began to pull back as two more ants crawled out of the other ants mouth. The two ants spoke to him in unison.

“It can’t be in your head. Feel us, we’re as real as you.”

Suddenly the door swung open, a familiar face looked down at the hallucinating man. He extended his arm to the man crawling around shouting incoherently on the ground.

“Get up you bastard!” The man yelled.

“No! They’re all around me! Can you see them? They see you!” The man on the ground smacked his friend’s hand away.

The room began to turn a light shade of red to the hallucinating man as his friend became angry. He quickly scrambled to his feet and pushed his friend against the nearest wall and darted out into the hallway of the longhouse.

“Not this again!” His friend yelled as he ran after the screaming man, “You gotta stop eating that stuff, it’s there to help decompose the bread not for your ingestion. “

After ingesting the molded bread the outside world became different to him, even the sound of the door slamming against the wall produced extreme hallucinations. A fire pit stood before him, shadowy figures danced all around shouting words in an unknown language. One of the figures turned around as he began to think about them.

“Shouldn’t think about me, boy!” The shadowy figure called, its voice was deep and powerful.

It stretched its head toward the man who began to run in place. When the shadowy figures head came within inches to the hallucinating man it’s body pulled itself in place under his neck.

“Going crazy yet?” The shadowy figure cried.

“No! Stay back foul creature! Stay back!” The man closed his eyes and felt a hand being placed on his shoulder.

The man shivered knocking the hand off, “Don’t touch me foul beast.”

It was his friend’s hand, but before he could grab the hallucinating man he bolted toward the fire pit. Only the hallucinating man could see the fire pit, his friend was flabbergasted when the hallucinating man tripped over nothing and began writhing around in pain on the ground.

“It burns!” The man yelled in pain, “Put it out! Put out the fire.”

His friend walked over to him and tried to pull him out of the imaginary fire but the man kicked his friend in the jaw. Blood splashed from his mouth onto the dirt.

Just then another figure appeared out of thin air, the only figure that the hallucinating mans friend could see, he was wearing a marvelous cloak of bright yellow and shiny turquoise.

The unknown figure opened up his mouth and a low whisper came out, “I am Aell, God of Intoxicants and the Elements which bind your realm. Your friend is in deep pain, the fire is real; real to him anyway.”

“Is there nothing we can do to save him?” The writhing man’s friend asked the God.

“That would prolong the inevitable, your friend has a lot of secrets, some he even keeps from himself. He tortures himself, and that’s why he sees the things he sees.” The God continued to whisper his voice pulsing through the mans’ veins.

“You’ve gotta do something, we’ve got a good business making and selling bread together. I can’t lose my business partner.”

“You’ve always done the work, your friend just reaps the rewards. Your business would be better off without him. But alas, this is entertaining how about I spare him a few more moments?”

Aell closed his eyes and hummed softly, the writhing man stopped screaming.

“Free! I’m free! No more fire. You can’t stop me now.”

The man darted toward the open plains to the west, “I can see everything. It’s all so clear! No more monsters, no more demons. I feel so free!”

Aell moved in strides following the hallucinating man, his movements were fluid and precise, “Well, aren’t you coming?”

I’m talking to a living, breathing God. The man thought to himself as he ran after his friend and Aell.

“What can we do for him, he doesn’t even know there is a gorge over there.”

“You’ll find out soon enough my child.” Aell said to him with the most sinister whisper the man had ever heard, his words sent shivers down his spine that he had never felt before.

The man stared in awe as he saw his friend reach the lip of the gorge, he turned around and waved.

“I should never have let you try that fungus! I knew it would be the death of you.”

Aell and the man stopped, he looked at Aell, “What does he mean? He thinks I’m hallucinating.”

“He doesn’t think. He knows.”

Seeing his friend jump backward off the cliff he screamed. Looking at the God the man was shocked when his body was stung by a tremendous force and he found himself plummeting down the great canyon. He stared up at the lip of the gorge and saw his friend who he had envisioned writhing in the imaginary fire crying and screaming just as he had done seconds before. Aell stood next to him watching the man plummet to his death; the Gods eyes were now burning with an intense light, one eye was yellow the other turquoise just like his outfit.

All his memories of the night flooded back into his mind. He saw himself standing above his friends body, he carried a large knife. He saw his friend smack the knife out of his hand and dart out of the house. When he reached the door he pushed his friend over onto the ground as he began kicking him with his boots. Then Aell appeared watching as he bludgeoned his friends face with his boot. His friend kicked him in the jaw and he began running toward the open plains where the gorge lay not to far. He watched as his friend and Aell ran after him, his friend was yelling profanities but he was also yelling for his friend to stop, he didn’t want him to die.

He continued to fall, as he neared the ground Aell appeared before him, “You see my child, you all along were the reason I appeared here. I wanted you to see the tortures you put yourself through in the eyes of another. When you hit the ground, you won’t die immediately I will bring your soul back to my realm where you will live in your own fantasy and what a disastrous fantasy it is.”

He hit the ground. His lungs were punctured by his ribs and he began to wheeze as he breathed. Aell appeared before him as a yellow and blue light, then his material figure formed out of nowhere. The being placed his hand on his forehead and inhaled a deep breath and everything around him turned black. With the baker’s soul in his palm, Aell departed the material world into his own kingdom in the netherworld.

Tales of Wickedness and Righteousness: The Tree That Wished to be Free

Dark clouds loomed eerily around the snow-capped mountains; wind was still along the peaks causing the clouds to become thick and omnipresent. Fog spread through the forested valley from the nearby coast, aiding the clouds in hiding earth from the moonlight. Native fog-flowers gave off a mystical light when the oceans fog spread throughout the forest.

On the edge of the forest a group of goblins took refuge away from the imposing forest. Tonight the forest smelled of robust mushrooms and spicy mosses which were favored by this particular goblin hovel. The smell beckoned the goblins out of their home, the light from the fog-flowers would help guide the goblins through the forest.

Gasping for air as mud rained down a goblin hand shot out from the shrouded hovel hole. Mud squished between his stubby green fingers as he heaved himself onto the ground. He wore a bright green hat constructed from the fibers of the local trees, bark covered his scarred face. As he sniffed the air, he knew the robust smells were coming from the mountainside near the Old Tree.

Goblins were typically frightful, leaving their hovel for very few reasons; though something about tonight beckoned the overseer to leave and no goblin could go against their leader’s will. The overseer bellowed a series of calls, and soon dozens of goblins began to pull themselves to the surface, one by one. Most of the goblins were wearing elaborate clothing made from tree fibers that had been dyed using several different types of fog flowers, each pattern was different and gave each goblin their own identity.

Animals in the forest scurried away from what became a cluster of different colors: blues, reds, greens, yellows, and purples. Men, women and children climbed out of the hovel; goblins traveled together in a band, no one was left home. Weapons were given to the majority of the hovel-mates, the few who received no weapons carried babies on their backs in woven sacks.

Whistling a particular tune the bark-faced goblin gained the attention of all seventy of the others. After issuing a series of hoots and howls, the goblins knew they were heading north toward the mountainside. They marched on in four columns, the masked goblin guided them the whole way through.

Several goblins hummed a sweet melody that seemed to make the ground around them spring in excitement. Others broke off and began to frolic amongst the bushes gathering blackberries. Sages, sorcerers, and magi took this time to gather rare herbs, leaves, roots, and berries that were needed in particular acts. Tailors gathered bark, fog-flowers, and fibrous tree material needed to cloth more hovel-mates. Smiths gathered stone, clay, metals, and wood for which to make weapons, utensils, and structures in their underground hovel.

Above them, dark clouds began to sag unleashing a torrential downpour, the masked goblin grunted, and the whole band grew stiff and closed their eyes. A lightning bolt snapped amidst the clouds, which lit up the whole forest. Shock waves rippled through the trees, snapping branches off and threatening to throw some of the goblin children away. Thunder continued to shake the ground beneath them. They could do nothing but open their eyes and continue along their present course.

As the thunder grew increasingly more chaotic, the children became jostled, erupting into hysterical laughter. Seeking to calm the children, the caretakers followed as their leader guided them through the muggy forest. They stopped whenever their overseer sensed a lighting strike, but nothing else stopped them.

As the goblin leader led them deeper into the forest the tree canopy became thick, shielding them from the rain. Here in the deep woods, the fog was the thickest. If it weren’t for the fog flowers, the goblins would never have left their sheltered hovel. That smell of robust mushrooms, which made the goblins decide to leave returned; their leader knew he was on the right trail.

One child, who some claimed to have foresight began to cry. She stopped in her tracks and began mumbling, she was far too young to speak. Several goblins hesitated to follow their chieftain further into the forest. With the young girl remaining defiant, the overseer had commanded a caretaker to apprehend the child.

They wandered deep into the woods, until there was no fog; they could no longer hear the falling rain or the piercing thunder. The bark faced goblin exhaled, and bellowed a few guttural cries. Each goblin echoed the same guttural cry, signifying that they were nearing the ancient grove. The surrounding air grew thick, damp and hard to breathe.

The air moved at a constant speed back and forth, as if the forest was breathing.
All around them, the goblins could hear the cries of the ancient grove. Calling out to them, some cries begged for mercy while others screamed for vengeance.

“Stop it!” A voice screeched from the east, its tone threatened to rupture their ear drums.

No matter the trouble the goblin leader proceeded forward, as if being guided by an unknown force, no one noticed his features tightening up on his face beneath the bark mask. His skin began to turn a light green color, blue veins could be seen under the thin layer of skin and soon blood began seeping from his pores.

Another voice shouted, a deep voice that reverberated inside the small goblins lungs, “Tainted! Tainted!”

A piece of flesh snapped from the goblin leaders face, blood dripped down his whole body, but no goblin could control their movements. The snap was loud enough for the goblins to hear but each one had a blank look on their face as they tread on their leaders face as they entered the ancient grove.

Soon they reached their destination, the Old Tree; several malevolent and benevolent spirits were banished into the tree by wicked and righteous men. Entering the sanctuary the enthralled goblins could do nothing but watch the sap hardened bark of the tremendous tree. The voices in the forest grew more frequent and the goblins could now see that the trapped spirits were being painfully ripped from the tree by a brood of harpies.

There were no mushroom or mosses. The harpy brood used the arcane to produce the smells enticing and entrancing all who smelled their pheromones. One harpy flew over the seventy goblins singing a lovely melody which entranced them further. She called out to them in a shrill, unnerving voice.

“Stay, for you have been invited to the Exposure.”

On the opposing end of the grove appeared a group of seventeen humans, men and women, and soon the brood knew their lure had worked. Brightest among the harpies, their Coven Queen, began to laugh as she nose-dived toward the humans yelling out in an ancient tongue. The old harpy was casting a curse upon the humans that would cause their body to mutate into a hideous canine. She snatched one of the unsuspecting humans up in her large talons and bite off the head sealing the curse with blood and flesh.

All sixteen humans began to writhe around on the floor. Hair fell out in bloody clumps as they began to grab their heads from the agonizing pain. A few curled up into a fetal position, wrapping their arms around their knee’s which began to break and snap; their flesh peeled away from the pressure of their hands. Some of the humans began to puke white foam and blood as their teeth and tongue fell out.

The goblins were fixated on their leader. He was facing the Old Tree. His ceremonial mask had fallen to the floor, the highest crime known to an overseer. He had not uttered a single word in the eight seconds that had elapsed.

One harpy began to whisper a spell as she fell out of the sky. A bubble formed around her which allowed her to access the broken veil between the material and netherworld.
As she fell through the sky in the protective bubble the harpy shoved her wretched hand inside of the torn veil, seizing a feathered beast with the skull and paws of a canine. As she pulled the feathered canine from its abode in the netherworld the veil sealed behind him. It shrieked as it more than tripled in size from the oxygen rich atmosphere.

“Plumose, my pet!” cried the harpy’s Coven Queen.

“Devour!”

Plumose was much larger than any of the other beings. His coat shined despite there being no light illuminating the fine orange, yellow and white feathers. He had the face of a wolf, and feathered antennae that allowed him to fly. He hopped gracefully on the ground issuing several otherworldly cries, shrieks and howls that sent chills up the spines of the entranced goblins.

Moments later the harpies and Plumose descended upon the goblins. Before the harpies reached the goblins their leader turned around. The flesh from his face was gone, nothing but pale white bone remained. He dropped to the ground as the harpies began their slaughter,

As the overseers body crashed to the floor the trance broke, goblins were being heaved into the air and smashed against trees. Flesh, entrails and bone were being scattered by the large talons but some goblins fought back. Others were hell bent on running, they were the first to perish.
Blood dripped off the netherworld beasts coat of feathers, as if there was a thin coat of oil on them. It was an adaptation given to all netherworld beings to prevent the Mikohuaga from spreading from the material world into the netherworld.

One harpy sought to bind the tree spirits to her body and began to vocalize her will, one after another a spirit entered her body. Putting a toll on the harpies body the spirits forced the winged witch to regurgitate several chunks of goblin.. Soon the spirits had taken full control of the harpy and blood began pouring from her eye sockets.

Shouting in unison the spirits voice shook the trees around the ancient grove, and a tiny beam of light penetrated the thick forest canopy. As the possessed harpy touched the beam of light her coven maids watched in horror and shrieked.
“No!”

The possessed harpy exploded into a radiant pile of gore; bloody feathers and entrails littered the ancient grove.

On the opposite end of the grove, the snapping of limbs seized, piles of flesh and hair were everywhere. The ground was stained red, the old tree began to seep sap from every pore as if it were crying. Laying paralyzed the humans no longer had the bodies of men and women.

Where the beam of light exploded the harpy appeared an evil being with decaying cracked skin, blood oozed from each crack. Its eyes were a piercing yellow and it looked at the harpies who were devastating the poor goblins with a vile sneer. Glancing at the Coven Queen the ancient demon shouted incoherently, its cries awoke the cursed humans who were now turned into werewolves. Hisses from the demon called the attention of one of the harpies, as he pointed at the harpy her skeleton was ripped out of her flesh and she twitched on the ground spraying more blood over the grove. Using the skeleton to impale several goblins the demon looked upon the scattered chaos in the open field under the Old Tree’s canopy.

Smelling the exposed flesh the werewolves howled and jumped into the frenzy of the feeding harpies. Their appetite was ferocious and the ritual had left them with a deep anger inside. Two harpies were mauled to death by the werewolves, a third was fortunate enough to conjure a pool of lava which incinerated the werewolf on contact, catching the forested grove on fire.

A werewolf lunged forward falling onto the back of a harpy who just took flight. Digging his thick claws into the harpies back she dropped closer to the ground. After a few seconds of struggle the werewolf reached the top of her back and snapped its large mouth at the harpies head decapitating the evil witch. As the harpy plummeted toward the ground the werewolf howled at its own misfortune before smashing headfirst into the Old Tree.

Plumose, the netherworld beast summoned by the coven leader soared gracefully under the tree branches and issued a challenge to the demon spirits. Breathing deeply the deranged demon withheld a tremendous amount of air. As he sucked in his breath Plumose was ripped from the air on a collision course for the demons gnashing maw. Kicking with all his might Plumose hit the demons stomach, its touch became as hot as fire, shocking the demon spirit.

“Foolish daeva-pet.” The demon shouted, the cracks in its face shattered, falling to the floor. Beneath it a new face that was even more malevolent than the last stared back at the netherworld beast.

As the demon began to punch Plumose the harpy who summoned the netherworld creature shrieked. She flapped her wings, soaring straight up; a dark mist gathered around her as she began to unleash more magic. A veil bubble appeared around her body and she reopened the veil. She shoved her talon into the tear in the veil and they appeared behind the demon which was pummeling Plumose. Her sharp talon penetrated the otherworldly flesh of the demon a black goo seeped from the wound but the demon was not fazed.

One werewolf grabbed a goblin and threw him at the unsuspecting harpy who led the coven. Penetrating the veil bubble the goblin and harpy were both sucked into the veil which was sealed behind the magi who opened it, all that remained was the twitching talon of the coven leader behind the demon. Howling triumphantly the werewolf bolted for the demon who began to calm a bit realizing that the main harpy threat was gone. As the demon relaxed its grip on Plumose he opened his gaping maw and bite half the demons head off, electricity sizzled and cauterised the wound though a few of the spirits returned to the Old Tree.

Two harpies worked on corralling several goblins who they kept circling, one harpy dropped to the ground and recited a verse from an old necromancer poem. As she continued to sing the poem, the creaking of bones could be heard as the dead goblin skeletons were ripped out of their flesh suits and began to march behind the harpy, following her will.

Conjuring the skeletal remains of the dead goblins a harpy soared into the air with a mighty shriek.Watching as their dead friends skeletons were torn from their flesh, the goblins panicked. Some of the skeletons began to crush the goblins with physical force. Others ate the flesh right off their bodies, the goblin could do nothing as they watched their flesh and organs enter the skeletons mouth and fall onto the floor after entering the throat.

As the skeletons continued eating their goblin counterparts an intense purple light shined, a figure appeared before everyone, the figure was different for each being who laid eyes upon it. Shuddering once the ominous presence caused time to slow to a trickle, the figure was the only being capable of traversing at a normal speed. He frowned as he witnessed the harpies taint the great magical gift he had bestowed upon them, their quest for power made them evil. Without any effort the bodies of the remaining harpies began to age rapidly and soon they were nothing but dust.

Looking upon the werewolves who were tearing through the flesh of the goblins, the figure made the goblins insides boil which caused all their orifices to ooze blood. Boiling blood fell onto the ravenous werewolves who were now howling in pain, the figure took this time to turn them inside out a slowly rot their organs.

Looking upon the weakened Plumose the figure beckoned.
“Come.”

Speeding through time and space the young netherworld creature fell into the hands of the unknown figure who drew him into the netherworld through his palm.

“Yahzugai!” The demon spat.

“Why do you detest me young spirit? I am the Father of Time.” Yahzugai’s voice was somber and monotone sending a chill through the demons body, “And in time you will come to peace with all that you have done and you be at peace, until then your exile into this great oak tree will continue.”

The demon shrieked, “Don’t test me Old Spirit! Release me from your power!”

Yahzugai sat the demon down and stripped it of its material flesh leaving behind an aura of numerous hues. Yahzugai sat there humming an otherworldly tune, the grass around him and the demon died from the eerie humming, as he plucked each individual spirit from the demon carcass and plunged them back into the tree. Each spirit had a different voice, though each was equally uncomfortable.

“One day tree, you will be free. Free of the taint of these foreign spirits, until that day, this is your first blood. Let it be your last.”

Resonating from Yahzugai’s naval the intense purple light returned; his figure being dispelled as the light overtook his shape. Time sped forward as Yahzugai made another attempt to clean the ancient grove, all the death which had taken place was now being rapidly aged to fertilize the now overgrown forest floor. Doubling in size in a matter of minutes the Old Tree now overtook the forest canopy allowing light to penetrate to the forest floor for the first time in six thousand years.