It was near yuletide when Feharn and his brethren recieved their honors- becoming full clerics. While most of his adopted siblings had become Aeromancers or Aquamancers, Feharn was the only one in the temple to learn the powers of earth. This made him feel like an outcast.
The temple decided to send a group of priests to see the world and bring news of the outside. As luck would have it, Feharn was one of the ones chosen for this task, merely to represent the order of the earth, Gaia's supposed favorites.
When they traveled to their first few towns, they heard of dark goings on. Visiting the town of Tristram, they heard of the dark lord Diablo, how he had been a plague on the land. Travelling farther south, they began hearing rumors of someone named Abadon who had taken over Diablo's throne. Indeed, these were dark times.
The followers of Gaia were currently camping alongside an ancient road that ran around Dorado. The clerics feared making themselves known to Abadon and wanted to keep out of sight from the dark city. The few pyromancers in the party were starting a fire while the aquamancers had caught fish in a nearby stream. Water was being boiled for drinking and most of the clerics were ready to rest, leaving their lives in the hands of Gaia for the night, when they heard a peculiar sound.
A slight whistle pierced the woods and an arrow flew from the forest, taking the life of an aquamancer who had been looking around for the noise- an easy target. Following the first, several other projectiles flew from the woods, some colliding with their targets. The Aeromancers tried to stem the wind that carried the deadly arrows, but were too busy praying to their goddess to dodge volleys.
More arrows hit their targets as the bandits moved in, prepairing to loot the bodies once they were finished. Another pyromancer fell near Feharn, an arrow lodged in his gut.
"K-kill me," the man pleaded with Feharn, who had flattened himself on the ground. Feharn, knowing this man for years, one of the ones who had constantly tormented him for his calling, could not bring himself to do it. The man was hit by a second arrow, piercing his heart and granting him a swift death.
Soon, bodies littered the clearing. Not being able to hit any more with arrows, the bandits drew their blades and walked into the clearing, believing the clerics to all be dead. A few Aeromancers pleaded for their lives. They were met with cold steel. The few remaining pyromancers fought back, attempting to burn the bandits, but were quickly outnumbered. The few women who were left alive were taken from the battlefield and the bandits began taking valuables from the clerics of Gaia.
Feharn still laid on the ground, willing himself not to breath. Two bandits were near him when one shouted "There's one left over here!" Feharn knew he would soon be dead, forever at peace with Gaia when he heard a voice far too refined for a bandit.
"Goddess blind them!" shouted a female pyromancer who, like Feharn, had pretended to be dead. Feharn raised his head slightly only to see the flash that blinded most of the bandits in the area. Some, however, were already close enough, and the pyromancer was quickly chopped down by cutlasses and dirks.
Feharn openned his eyes only to see nothing. He was blind. Stumbling to his feet, Feharn began to run, but stumbled over one of the bodies and fell to the earth once more. Raising up again, he proceeded more carefully and relied upon the earth he worshiped to make his trek easier. Feharn was rewarded, as vines and shrubs parted for him and closed once more when he had past.
Most of the bandits were still blinded, but some who had not stared directly at the flare were getting their eyesight back. Several romped into the woods in pursuit of the remaining cleric, but they quickly got lost and were constantly tripped. "The forest was moving!" some would later claim, telling campfire stories to their companions. "I'd bet he died anyways. Guy was probably blind as a bat, somethin' probably ate 'im!" most of the bandits laughed. Others simply looked at the forest, seeing if they could spot it moving.
The clerics of Gaia had various abilities. Each possessed a unique elemental talent, which included a large number of abilities. A geomancer, for example, could cast earth armor with a prayer to the goddess Gaia. For more complex spells, the clerics had to invoke the goddess, using the words of magic to call her power.
Feharn was still generally a cleric. He had little to no knowledge of the higher arts of his order, nor did he want to know. Feharn abhorred having too much power, for those with power tend to abuse it. After being blind for nearly a day, he felt like he could use all the power he could get.
Once the wilderness had aided him, guiding him safely through the forest. It guided him swiftly to a small glade, which was protected from the rest of the forest. Feharn had searched the clearing, but had found no paths in the rough foliage, except one. Upon stepping close to the path, he felt a shiver crawl down his spine and noticed by the wind where it lead. Straight into Dorado.
Reminding himself of that name, Feharn involuntarily shivered. Abadon was certainly someone he did not wish to meet. Still, nature and perhaps Gaia herself was guiding him there. He could not decide, though, upon a course of action, so he waited. The forest provided for him, both for food and water. A small stream, seemingly sprouting from nowhere, was in the glade, as well as several trees of fruit and bushes full of berries. Feharn was warm enough in the dank forest, so he did not feel a need to build fires. The cleric prayed constantly to his goddess, but whether she heard him or not, he never recieved a response. Either way, he was on his own.
* * * * *
Feharn stumbled down the dirt trail, clinging to his staff. The geomancer had spent days in the clearing, wondering if his sight would ever return. It had not.
The young man had not wasted his time, however, he had spent time gathering food and making supplies. The cleric knew he must go down the path, but he no longer feared. Feharn had faith that the Earth, that Gaia, would protect him.
The priest had spent time crafting the wood of his staff, smoothing it for comfort. As the geomancer continued his trek to Dorado, he briefly wondered if time itself had stood still while he was in the clearing.
Perhaps the world was waiting for me to catch up, the man almost laughed at himself, a simple geomancer, being center of the universe.
Digging the staff deeply into the ground, Feharn silently prayed to Gaia. Without warning, the dirt road flattened and smoothed itself, making his walking easy. And Feharn smiled.
Within a heartbeat, an arrow bit into the thick staff. Feharn acted quickly, jumping for cover while praying to Gaia. Again, the road changed, cracking and becoming uneven.
"Gaia althanar chentrol/felliart nechrom-sloss!" Another arrow hit near the cleric, missing him be a mere inch, gouging the tree the man stood at. Still, the geomancer continued, "Khertrio, fells, Gaia-nroll sestra farnite!"
Just as Feharn finished his chant, another volley of bolts launched at him from the brush. As the first struck the geomancer, so did they bounce off of his now rock-hard body. His pale skin became smooth, cracked. The cleric began to grow a rock-carapace around his skin, in occordance with his spell: Earth armor.
Praying for Gaia to guide him, as well as to preserve his protection, Feharn fled into the wood, not knowing the direction, just knowing it was away from the arrows. He ran nearly in a straight line, the forest parting just enough for him to pass. Just enough to lead him to Dorado.
* * * * *
Abadon was dying.
The archfiend had felt a plague within him for some time. When I obtained my power? Abadon pondered, perhaps Diablo was not as pathetic as I thought...
"Abadon!" the harsh voice shattered his reverie, and Abadon looked up the one who had disrupted him, "We have found a cleric in the woods!"
A cleric! He almost laughed at the thought of any of the holy servants of good helping to sustain him. He knew that no cleric would willingly help a demon, perhaps would even sacrifice themselves. Still...
"Where is this cleric?" Abadon rasped, failing to hide the sickness in his voice.
"Well... there were a few problems..." Exile stuttered.
"Where IS he?" Abadon's dark eyes flared. Even in his current state, the king had power enough to tear the lesser demon to pieces.
Both Abadon and Exile searched for the voice. A lackey appeared, materializing from the shadows of the throne room.
"And who are you?" Abadon glared with fury at the intruder.
"I am Selith, your humble servant," the fiend bowed to Abadon while speaking. Only Exile noticed the snear on the demon's lips, but remained silent.
Abadon studied the creature quickly. Ash-colored skin covered with grisly scars, the demon could have once been considered human, perhaps even handsome. Age and battle, as well as a hint of magic had taken their tole on on the beast, who stood with a hunched back. This feature made him look not a hobbly old beast, but rather like a wild cat, ready to pounce at any moment.
"Ok, Selith, tell me why this weak cleric escaped," Abadon asked, daring the creature to make a mistake.
"My lord, this was no cleric like those you have encountered. He is one of many who worship Gaia, the goddess of Earth."
"These clerics are known to my people as Mancers. They relly on the elements of the planet for power, drawing magic from nature. This Mancer in particular was one born to the earth element, born to be a geomancer."
"And who exactly are your people?" Abadon asked the impish creature.
"We are outcasts from the Mancers. We were exiled by our own brethren because we broke their petty rules. Some, like myself, studied the forbidden arts of Necromancery and Technomancery, while others studied those they were not born to. More still studied to gain personnal glory. We have all formed a society, but this is our curst," the creature gestured to himself, to his skin and his stature.
"Was it worth it?" Abadon coughed, but still listened attently.
"Yes. We have power those weaklings could not comprehend. I pledge to you an alliance, Abadon," Selith looked staight into the demon's eyes.
"What kind of alliance?"
"Help us destroy the temple of Gaia, destroy those who made us outcasts, and we shall serve under you. I personnaly pledge my life to your cause, master. I am yours to command."
"Leave me, I must consider this..." the demon gestured to the door, which opened at his gesture. Selith bowed and exited, leaving the two demons left alone.
"I don't trust him," Exile said, a snear on his face.
"I don't particularly care. I may consider his offer... but I must be free of this wretched disease! Send out a garrison, hunt down this geomancer. And send Selith, let him prove his worth. If he stands up, I may think about his offer... Now leave me, minion. I must rest," the demon did not move, but simply sat, glaring into the darkness.
Bowing the Abadon, Exile also exited. Prove his worth? The demon though, He'll be lucky to survive!
* * * * *
Feharn sat beside the small fire. He had been running for hours when he realized there was no one in pursuit. Finding a suitable camp, Feharn was far too nervous to sleep.
Biting down on some bread purchased from the last town the clerics visited before being waylaid, Feharn began to go over his situation again.
Obviously, something is guiding me to Dorado, but what? The man was growing increasingly tired, and so, mouthing a prayer for Gaia to protect his slumber, he nodded off.
Waking with a start, Feharn was greeted by far-off voices. He had slept until morning, and could already feel the heat of the sun radiating his skin.
Grabbing his pack, as well as his favored staff, Feharn started traveling away from the voices, only to find his way blocked by thick brush.
Praying to Gaia, Feharn again tried to flee. The forest did not respond, though, and the voices grew nearer still.
"I saw a fire 'round here last night," the gruff voice of a mercenary was in conversation with his cohorts.
"There's a clearing up ahead, check it out!" another barked.
He must be the commander, Feharn thought, but did not speak. The voices drew further still.
"Remember, we have orders to kill that Selith fella if he interferes," one of the brigands stated.
Selith! Feharn knew that name. Selith, the betrayer. Selith, the one who unsuccessfully tried to raze the temple of Gaia. Selith is searching for me, the startling though popped into his head.
Perhaps Gaia is protecting me from the vile one, Feharn thought, perhaps Dorado is the safest place for me.
Just as Feharn was getting ready to surrender to the mercenaries working for Abadon, he heard a voice that could literally wake the dead.
"Have you found him yet?" the voice of Selith sent shivers down Feharn's spine, making the cleric collapse in a heap on the ground.
"Uh, we think we saw him that way," Feharn knew the guards were lying, and that mean Selith did too.
The cleric heard an immediate snap of bone and sinew. A gruesome rending sound follwed, and Feharn felt like he was going to vomit.
He copuld picture the scene clearly. Perhaps too clearly, the cleric quickly banished the thought of his sight returning, as he heard limp footsteps draw near him.
"Greetings little geomancer. We can do this two ways, and I'll tell you now, I can do just as much if you die as if you live, so I suggest being a good little cleric."
Feharn was at a loss for words. The geomancer could easily tell that the power of Selith, his superior, far outmatched his own. The necromancer facing him knew this as well.
"Tell me, apprentice," the words hit hard, Feharn being the eldest apprentice in the temple, "What is your name?"
"F-Feharn," he answered, grasping his staff. Feharn began to raise himself from the ground, clinging to his staff more for security than to lend him leverage.
Without warning, Feharn felt a stinging pain in his abdomen. Falling to the ground, he clutched his mid-section in pain and horror.
Seeing the blood of a cleric of Gaia seeping to the ground, watching as Feharn grasped his bleeding stomach, Selith let out a cackle at the cleric's injury.
"I see, Feharn," the name slipped out as a curse, "That you are blind. Tell me, was it your goddess who blinded you? Was it she who cursed you as she cursed me?"
Coughing up blood, Feharn began to invoke Gaia in hatred for the vile necromancer. He began to weave a spell that he knew would be his downfall, but if he was lucky, would purge the planet of Selith.
"N'Gaia stlorn chentroth elet, selster/chorun chai al festarn/karnliart!" Feharn began to chant.
"Aiag'N nrolts thorench tele, chorun/selster estiol kornliort/fester," the necromancer began to reverse the spell, and Feharn knew that if the demon completed his reversal before he himself finished the chant, the spell would reverse and attack him. Feharn sped up his pace.
"Nr'A Gaias trollban khen-tal, sestroll/felarn khes, elefro oustra kerr/normiale," as Feharn chanted more, he heard voices in the distance.
The voices drew closer, Selith stopped his reversal and turned to meet the mercenaries who rushed to the area. Feharn's voice wavered. As he coughed up more blood, the cleric stuttered.
"Estrol kheyad rintrax fotunar chai/thelt feen kelarn," he coughed again, "Gai 'Nroll!"
The invokation finished, Feharn pointed his open palm towards the direction he thought Selith was in, and shouted a single word.
The ground flew apart in a flurry of dirt, rocks and mud. The forest ground shook as trees and rocks broke into sharp fragments. The planet shuddered and Feharn fell to the ground, unconcious, his energy sapped. In his current state, he would die before he woke up.
As the cleric's hands slipped from his staff, a long figure watched the carnage and smiled.
The two mercenaries laid on the jungle floor, wounds from rock and wood battered their bodies. UIsing a simple Necromantic cantrip, at least for one of his skill, Selith raised the two mercenaries as zombies. The fiend ordered his new minions to take the unconcious form of Feharn back to Dorado.
Now Abadon will do my work for me. Now those fools of the temple will die, Selith cackled madly and left for Dorado, set for a meeting with destiny.