The bussle of the tavern was abnormally loud that night. Drinks were freely poured, and, despite the dark times, everyone seemed to be having a good time. Two men were carolling up on the bar. Some were sloshing their ale to a song. It was a joyous time in there, everyone inside and out could hear it.

Then abruptly, it all stopped. Forty pairs of eyes narrowed and glared at the newcomer, dressed as an obvious scribe, who had burst in the door nearly shouting, "Allo there! I’m looking around Temuair for tales of legend and note. Have any of you fine fellows heard any?"

Just then, a cloaked fellow slapped his arm around the oddly-dressed fellow. In a blunt but cheerful voice, the figure said, "Ah, THERE ya are! I’ve been lookin’ all o’er fer ye, friend! Come! Sit! ‘Ave a drink wi’ me!"

The scribe was stunned, so stunned that he didn’t really hear what the figure was saying, just absentmindedly followed him. They sat down, and the cloaked person took a swig from a glass sloshing with blood red wine. Then, in a harsh whisper, he said, "Are ye daft, lad!? These fellers ‘ere don’t take kindly t’ people interruptin’ their drownin’ their sorrows. Yer lucky...ya almost made ‘em sober."

The figure took another sip before speaking. "Now then, if’n I tell ya a tale, will ya be in peace an’ not bother these fine folk?"

The scribe looked excited. "Ah...yes! Yes sir! I’d give anything to hear a tale of adventure!" Eyes started to turn again to him. It seemed he had an unfortunate habit of being 20 decibels over what he wished to speak at normally.

"Fine, fine. As long as ye keep yer mouth shut while I’m talkin’. I canna stand interruptions..."

Asking for a fill for his glass, the mysterious man started on with his story...

"Th’ young lad didn’t remember much. Scattered mem’ries o’ ‘is past ‘aunted ‘im constantly, none really complete though. ‘E ‘membered th’ visions o’ ‘is childhood in Piet. ‘E ‘membered th’ chillin’ cold o’ ‘is birthday...rememberin’ it was winter time. ‘E ‘members ‘is age....at least ‘e thinks. ‘e kin only get that from people tellin’ ‘im that ‘You look like you’re about such-and-such." ‘e’s ne’er been too sure o’ that. In fact, ‘e only ‘ad one clear mem’ry in ‘is ‘ead. An’ that’s th’ night that ‘e acquired ‘is curse....

"Th’ night was cold, dark an’ lonely. Ya couldn’t see past yer nose on yer face. Sgrios thrives on nights like these, unsuspectin’ mundanes an’ aislings alike gettin’ lured into danger, whether it be by not seein’ that mantis lurkin’ in th’ shadows or not payin’ attention t’ th’ sharp tools misplaced in th’ shed. Anyways, it didn’t seem t’ phase this lad. Nay sir, ‘e braved th’ darkness; ‘e cherished it. ‘Is five fellers with ‘im did too. ‘e didn’t ‘member why exactly ‘e was goin’ after ‘er, but th’ message was clear t’ ‘im: th’ ol’ hag Listolas must die. ‘E figgered ‘e was ‘ired as an assassin or some such thing. ‘Er evil ‘ad plagued t’ land, robbin’ poor mundanes o’ their ‘arvests. It jus’ wouldn’t do.

"So ‘is five fellers an’ ‘e went off t’ do ‘er in. Th’ dark cabin cast a forebodin’ shadow o’er th’ streets o’ Abel. Th’ roof seemed like it would cave in any sec, it was clear rottin’ ‘way. Th’ door’s ‘inges ‘adn’t been oiled in ages, so that method was out. Th’ window was shattered an’ glass shards grinned at ‘im as if it were a mouth full o’ daggers. There jus’ ‘AD t’ be a way inside! Then, ‘e noticed th’ chimney was pretty well intact, a li’l worse fer wear but still useable. Signallin’ th’ others, ‘e climbed onto th’ roof an’ plummeted down. Soot, black as th’ gapin’ maw of a ‘pede, billowed out from under them. Th’ lad resisted th’ urge t’ cough though, lest ‘e wake th’ ol’ witch. Creepin’ silently, they snuck into ‘er room. Fiosachd was with ‘em that night, or so they thought. She was sound asleep. Mufflin’ th’ sound wi’ a dark cloth, th’ lad drew ‘is dagger fluidly. Steel glinted off th’ tip o’ th’ blade. ‘e jabbed it towards th’ ‘ead...an’ it jus’ went right through!

" ‘Blast it all!’ th’ lad yelled, ‘She knew we were comin’! It’s a trap!’ Scramblin’ about fer a place t’ get away, they ran out. A flash o’ arcane light came from outside, an’ terrifyin’ screams that’d curdle th’ very marrow o’ yer bones filled th’ night. Three....Four....Five...that’s th’ screams ‘e ‘eard....’e shook ‘is ‘ead. She’d gotten them all. All ‘is allies an’ companions. An’ now, she was comin’ after ‘im. ‘E didn’t ‘ide; that choice might ‘ave saved ‘im from ‘is fate, but ‘e didn’t. Dagger at th’ ready, poised fer action, ‘e lept as soon as ‘e saw th’ figure. Eyes sparkled an’ crackled wi’ black lightnin’ an’ she extended a witherin’ ‘and. Gruntin’ th’ lad felt an’ unseen force knock ‘im back into th’ wall. ‘E wiped blood off ‘is lip. Blood was soakin’ ‘is green ‘air too, which was matted ‘gainst ‘is scalp.

" ‘Curse ye, ya blasted ol’ hag,’ th’ lad defiantly muttered at ‘er, ‘I’ll ne’er let ya get ‘way wi’ this. Ya knew we were comin’, didn’t ya?

"Wi’ that, th’ crone cackled. ‘But of course, my dear sweet boy! You don’t think I’d let the king send his goons after me without being prepared, do you?’ ‘er eyes flashed again an’ she lowered ‘erself to ‘is battered body, takin’ ‘is chin in ‘er ‘ands. ‘Haven’t you figured it out yet, boy? I PLANNED all this! It’s been a while since I’ve had a good hunt. Oh...but my fun’s not over yet!

"Th’ lad glared at her, hatred burnin’ in his eyes. ‘E struggled t’ stand. ‘Murderer! I’ll not take yer evil any longer!’

"Wi’ that ‘e jabbed ‘is dagger into ‘er shoulder, black blood spewin’ from th’ wound. Th’ witch was caught by surprise an’ screamed. Then, hand grippin’ ‘round ‘is throat, she glared vilely into ‘is bloodwashed eyes. ‘You’ll pay for that, boy. Death is too good a fate for you! You’ll relive this terror for the rest of your life!" With that, ‘er eyes flared up an’ a dark aura surrounded th’ both o’ them. Th’ young lad, green locks tumblin’ into ‘is eyes, tried to scream but th’ fingers ‘round ‘is throat prevented it. All o’ ‘is strength, all o’ ‘is skills an’ secrets were bein’ sucked. Drained away from ‘im. An’ also, all ‘is mem’ries left ‘im. Th’ witch took e’erythin’ from ‘im. ‘E woke up later in a bed at Mileth. All ‘e could remember was that incident. Th’ shock o’ th’ curse she put upon ‘im was too powerful. ‘E ‘membered what she said to ‘im, ‘Death is too good a fate for you!’ She was right. She ‘ad givin’ ‘im somethin’ worse than death; it was a livin’ death. A death o’ th’ person ‘e was. Th’ incident replayed in ‘is mind, o’er an’ o’er ‘gain."

The cloaked figure who had been telling the story got strangely silent, signifying the end of it. The tears running fluidly were starting to get to him, dripping into his drink; sobbing could be heard in his voice.

The scribe was silent, too. Then, he got enough courage to ask a question that had been troubling him. Talking in an actual low tone, he said solemnly, "That is indeed a sad tale, sir. But one thing bothers me about it. You never mentioned a name. Did you know this person well enough that he told you his name."

The figure looked up at him, sighed, and shook his head. "Ya jus’ don’t get it, do ya?" Taking the last huge swig from his drink, his hood fell away. The scribe gasped. Green locks flowed and fluttered about the strangers head, aranged in a slight part down the middle, hanging into his face. He had one earring in his right lobe that glinted from the light that came in from the window. Deep blue pools of eyes glared at the scribe, stained red from the tears. In a harsh tone, he spoke bluntly. "Look well, young scribe. This is th’ face o’ that lad. Th’ name’s Dartanian. Dartanian Lestor. Now if ye’ll ‘scuse me...." Dartanian got up out of the seat, belt jingling from the lockpicks hanging on the side. He tossed a few coins on the table to pay for his drink, a satisfying twirl and clink as they hit the wood. He adjusted his cloak and strode out the door, leaving the scribe gaping at him.