This is the opening to a new project I am writing.
From his demeanour, it 's hard to see what this man did to the city of Meldritch. The once thriving city now lay in ruins, their demise was brought up on them by their desire to appease the man who stood at the city gates.
He was not rich, nor powerful. To look at the poor wretch, you would imagine he'd had a hard life, for he was thin with broken teeth and unkempt in his appearance. When he spoke or sang, his words and music gripped the imagination of the people like a fever. His words and music had the ability to drive normally sane people to do outlandish things to stop him from leaving.
When he entered Meldritch - as he had many cities before - the people had no idea what they had let enter their village.To the world outside, he was no more than a wandering scribe, trying to buy a meal and a place to rest by telling stories.
On his departure, he left in his wake a city dazzled by his stories of far off lands, but he had an agenda that nobody knew about until it was too late to do anything.
Like all things, once he'd had his pleasures, he left; leaving behind a trail of misery and disgust. For a while, everything had appeared pleasantly joyous as the man spread his wonderous stories and ate and drank freely.
By all the reports, you'd expect the man to be of great stature and strength, but the opposite was true. Strength and size were not his powers; his powers came from his ability to capture your soul with his words. Tales from enchanted lands flowed from his dry lips like leaves of dying trees; and as such their audience grew, so the value of the stories became greater.
The time being the late Fall, the town's people begged the stranger to stay, but he'd tired of their company, and all he had to say was, "The land calls me to walk a new path." The first falls of early snow chilled the earth, and the fruits had long gone from the trees and hedges. The man stood at the gate and steadied himself for the journey ahead.
With a last glance to the city he was leaving, he walked out of the gates, and sneered under his breath, "They never learn, Drux."
Following in his master's footsteps was Drux - a large dog - wherever Baal Korax went, Drux was close to the heel. Nobody was sure how they'd crossed paths, and some say Baal had rescued Drux from a freezing cavern; others will tell you that Baal raised Drux from a welp, the last of his breed of wolfen.
Like Drux, Baal had a distant past that eluded memory. The past was so much a blank to him, and Baal had no ideas where to call home, or when he came into the world. All he could say is he'd been a travelling scribe since he could remember. The man didn't bother much about his past, to him the road in front was all that mattered and for now, the road led to the high ranges and the place he called home. "Come, Drux," he called as man and beast left the sight of the city, "It won't be long before you can return to your true form," the man said as he ruffled the dog's dirty mane.
The two travellers took to the open road and left the city in their past, never to return, for that would be to tempt fate. Baal had spent most of his life on these roads and never been back to any village or city. The only place he returned to was his castle, every winter. "We need to cross the ridge before the heavy snow comes, or we'll not see our home until the early Spring, Drux, my old friend," he said to his companion as they made their way to the footpath that led to the hills.
At this time of year, only the foolhardy took the roads to the high mountains, unless they had a reason. In Winter, the supplies came along the low roads; they took an extra day, but these roads were safer at this time of the year.
The dog looked to the hills that lay ahead and gave his tail a wag, to show he was in agreement with his master. The man and his companion started their long, cold walk to the mountain range ahead, and with hearts full of thoughts of the road, and bellies full of the finest food they set off on their journey.
Baal's hide thigh boots kept some of the cold from the snow from chilling his feet, but he knew they needed to make their way to his hut quickly so as Drux wouldn't get too cold, for ahead of them lay a long journey.