Another character I began to develop on the Neverwinter Nights Persistent Server (ShadowRealm – Sister Ann Bright was the GM), was Pray – a paladin with a dark story to tell. I managed to weave Fade into his plight.
Pray Morningblade was a good man, his sense of all things right and proper and his un-founding belief in the one true God had led him onto a path of worship. However, this path was not one of placid teaching, not one of spreading the word and nurturing the flock. From an early time in his ecclesiastical life, he knew God wanted him to purge the world of those who had not fully made the transition from death to afterlife.
They required light. A Paladin’s light. A shining force so bright and so powerful that it could set them free from this stinking malaise that is their purgatory.
His time as a minister was troubled with impatience and tension. His temper was too quick to begin to understand the faithless, his will was too strong to just give sermon after sermon and expect people to take notice. He had to cleanse the land, he had to use his gifts with a sword and a divine shield to expunge the rotting dead that still walked this land, they were clueless and hateful, they had lost their way unable to decide what was life and what was death. These lost souls were so desperate to find their path to the afterlife that they were easy prey for true evil. They could be cajoled and coaxed into performing work for any evil soul that could trick them. They required light. A Paladin’s light. A shining force so bright and so powerful that it could set them free from this stinking malaise that is their purgatory.
So Pray took up the Lords challenge, he trained hard in the ways of the Paladin, soaking up the ability to turn undead by instilling the will of God within their sodden souls.
In his early years he lost his mother, perhaps this single fact moulded his fiery temper and his stone like emotions – but good was to come of it. His father was comforted by an elven lady, who could sing so sweetly that his pain dissolved into her chorus.
Years passed and his father and the elven songstress fell in love and married. Pray was unsure of himself through this time, although with the marriage come a time when the elven step mother brought into the Morningblade family her previous children. There was one child, Fade Moonbow, who seemed to give hope to Pray whenever he was lost in a faithless wilderness of teenage angst.
Fade was a spritely beautiful girl with the ability to bestow happiness and joy to the darkest of situations just by smiling. Pray took to his step sister, as a kindred spirit. Both fuelled each others desires to be better and to maintain all that is good and holy in the land.
Pray was but a season of maturity when Fade left, without word. She had participated in some elven celebration, and the next day she was gone. Her bow and some belongings gone. Pray was devastated. He called on the power of his true God to give him strength to search out his sister and no matter what had happened he knew he could make it right. Pray brooded with his skills for another season, until he felt he was ready. His moment had come. The undead would be saved, and he would scout for his treasured sister.
Many moons passed as Pray wandered the land, purging deserted churches and hidden crypts. Wherever he went there were tortured graveyards and diabolic dungeons to irradiate with the light of good. All the time he was questioning everyone he could about his sister, where was Fade? Where had she gone?
Finally he had word of her in a city not far from a den of evil that was to be his nemesis. He hurried to meet her, to greet her and to find the answer to the gnawing question of why she left without a word.
Pray met many folk, including a lady of the cloth, Sister Ann Bright, who allegedly had adventured with Fade on many occasions. All professed Fade’s good nature and expertise with a bow. All seemed uneasy when mentioning her appearance and none of them knew why she left. Pray wandered the streets for days on end. With no sign of Fade. Until he met a short gnarled man in the forests, who happened to take notice when Pray described Fade to him. The short man said she had gone to Hyde Castle to purge the darkness with her light. Pray was excited by this, at last a definite place, and a place where he may also do some good. To fight the wrath of evil side by side with his sister was all he could ask.
Deeper into the Castle Pray went, there was indeed a force unknown in these walls, Shadows and Zombies kept Pray busy almost constantly, like a knife through treacle he slowly cut them down releasing their tortured souls into the void of the afterlife, guiding them almost with his blade and his shield, thrusting them back to where they should have walked before they lost their way.
The strangest sight to behold were the wererats, grotesque creatures obviously conjured from the remains of harmless vermin, something terrible, something perverse and evil was at work with the corpses in this place. There was no sign of Fade, sometimes Pray could hear the swish of an arrow in the next room, or the growl of her forest mate, but when Pray had made it to the room, it was empty, as empty as his soul felt now – with the prospect of ever seeing his sister again draining away like the oily blood of the wererats he’d slain.
A dark moment hit him like a carriage full of fresh melon, he could hear a girl whimpering, it was like a whimper no one in their right mind would ever want to hear. Like a hushed howl, immediate and ever so demanding. The girl was under slow torture of some sort, Pray was sure of that. She needed help, it could be Fade!
Pray burst in to a room that seemed so low lit, that even the vermin bumped into each other. It was dank and heavy, you could smell rotting flesh but only as a pleasant after waft over the true insipid smell of pure evil.
He bounced with a resilient clang off one of the suppurating walls wading through the bodily pulp was becoming more and more difficult
The girl was whimpering louder now, and she actually mentioned his name … ‘Praaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy’. Pray’s armour clinked as he shuddered to the call. He cast a holy light around himself, in order to see the grotesque innards of the room. His sword at his side, was actually tracing a pattern in thick mulched blood. He looked in shock to see his armoured legs had been covered by this gorey substance. He panicked, and started to shuffle around in the sleuce of carnage, trying to hear the direction of the moaning, faster it became, almost chanting his name now. He bounced with a resilient clang off one of the suppurating walls, wading through the bodily pulp was becoming more and more difficult, from the edge of his visored vision he could see things moving, like the floor had taken on form and shape but just out of normal eyesight range.
In a desperate attempt he turned the undead, no-one from beyond the grave would harm him now, as he finished the mantra the spell kicked in and some of the floors substance sloshed about and slooped away – however, the girls moan become more stressed, more pained, in a corner of the room he spotted her, he threw himself forward to shield her body from the evil, if he could, he landed down near her legs, he was knee deep in the broth of blood, as he passed his hand over her face, her eyes opened. Green eyes of hate. She wrapped her dead legs around his waist, and something from behind him clamoured onto his back, a dark shroud of skin wrapped around his helmet obscuring his view, his last swing with his sword cut into the undead girl as far as he could tell, the blade meeting the usual resistance of backbone. The elasticised skin around his head ripped off his helmet like it was glued to it, he managed to half turn to see a room full of men, with eyes as red as the blood that spurted down his neck, two sharp teeth delving deep into his veins, the red eyes, closing in, the light of being, draining away, a baptism of blood…
Fade… where are you?