(OOC: Sorry for taking so long. I now turn "the messenger" over to the DM)
Somewhere far, far away, in an abandoned temple-fortress in the middle of the Desert of Dread, there stands a larger-than-life granite statue of a young man. A triangular shield emblazoned with a golden-white lioness rampant upon a crimson sunburst. With his right, he brandishes a khopesh, the broad-bladed sickle sword of ancient Mulhorand.
His drab traveler’s tunic and templar’s tabard cover a coat of banded mail--- all lovingly rendered in the ageless granite. The holy symbol of a now-forgotten god dangles forlorn upon his neck. His shoulders are hunched from the weight of a bulging backpack and you could almost hear the jangling of the metal plates protecting his thighs as he puts one foot forward.
The young man’s face is set in a grim scowl, the jaw muscles clenched beneath the plumed helm. Large, seemingly inquisitive eyes squint into the distance as if staring into the sun or facing down a sandstorm. Shard-strokes of the ancient, forgotten sculptor depict the scraggly beard and, nigh marring the stone are four jagged slashes across the left cheek, the scar on what might otherwise would be a handsome face.
At the statue’s feet a pedestal proclaims in ancient glyphs and archaic text proclaims,
“Gaze ye dark ones and despair
For here stands in eternal guard
Captain of Nimlot’s Guard
Hero of the Battle of Efer-nim
Last of the Templars Lightbringer
From the Time of Troubles,
From the Arising of Apophis
In the War of Shadows”
The forsaken fane glows with the radiance of the sun’s brilliant rays streaming in from an open window and some long, jagged cracks in the wall. The dawn’s wind sighs as it blows in new motes of sand and sunlight.
Slowly, ploddingly, the sound of footfalls climbs up, up the slope of the mountain of this temple-fortress. The footfalls stop outside a long-rotted, barely standing pair of huge, once-thick doors. A pair of shadowed legs stops just outside--- seemingly the sole bringer of gloom to a serene hermitage.
With the tip of a staff, the person outside opens the ancient doors. The long pent-up dust pours out and the traveler, or so he seems, coughs violently his burnoose.
As the dust settles and the man crosses the threshold, an unnatural wind blows through the chamber and he is forced once more to shield his face with a sleeve lest the sand and dust blind his eyes or choke him to death. Cautiously, he surveys the room and is shocked to find that it has been totally cleaned in a heartbeat.
With growing unease and awe in his heart at these surely supernatural happenings, the man reaches into his messenger’s satchel and withdraws a sealed scroll. It has the heraldry of the kingdom of Hothmalor a kingdom that had never before set foot in the Red Land.
The statue suddenly shatters in a massive concussive explosion, throwing the messenger back and showering him with razor-sharp shards. When the dust settles and the messenger finally dared to put down once more, his shielding arms, he is totally astounded and astonished for upon the olden pedestal, amidst the statue’s ruin and wreck, there stands the young warrior, greedily breathing in air that he had not breathed for nigh a thousand years.
For a while, he stood in dumb wonderment at his sudden liberation, blinking against the sun’s glare and yet seemingly exulting in the scorching heat. His dark, dark skin glistens in the dawn’s gaze and the bronze and iron plates of his armor shine as if they were newly polished and the blade of his sword is a long tongue of fire.
His teeth glitter pearly white against the ebon of his skin when he pulls back his lips in a near feral snarl of wrath and rage when he sees the devastation of what had once been his home. He pivots slowly around on the pedestal, taking it all in, his eyes streaming with tears, his god’s symbol, a winged all-seeing eye within a sunburst, flutters about on its copper chain.
And then, his eyes alight upon the messenger who is, by then, backing away toward the door in fear. As the warrior-priest’s angered gaze falls upon him, he tries to bolt for it, but is too slow.
The young man leaps and with a single blow of the blunt, hooked side of his khopesh, the sickle-sword, he trips the man and sends him crashing to the ground. He screams as the fiery-eyed warrior places a heavy foot on his chest, his shield forgotten, the sword raised high with both hands, ready to smite.
Through clenched teeth, he asks, “What hast ye done unto the Sanctum?! How didst thou destroy it? I know thou art but a messenger--- tell me swift thy master and I might spare thee thy miserable breath!”
The messenger regains a bit of his composure even when under such duress and retorts with as much dignity as he could muster, “What you call a Sanctum has been a ghost-haunted ruin for hundreds of years! Of all that you just called me, you are right at only one point--- that I am a messenger”
At this, despite the wrath that burns in his heart at the gross desecration, the black warrior knew, by grace of his master, Horus-Re and of his beloved, Amun-Ankhutar, that the man below was speaking truth. Also, despite his initial misgivings, he admires the other man for his courage and integrity.
He grudgingly helps him up and says, “I… I beg pardon for my ill-treatment of thee. Thou sayest thou art a messenger… wherefore hast thou here come? Surely thy missive could not be for me?”
“Yeah, ‘tis for you alright… though how my masters know you still live beats me. Here’s the world-ending letter, sleeper-in-stone”
, he said as he handed the young templar the scroll.
He visibly struggles at first, with the strange new syntax, spelling and grammar of the language but eventually finds it much simpler than his usual fare. Upon finishing the reading, he hands the scroll back to the messenger.
The young templar turns around, picks up his shield, stares for a while at the ruined pedestal and adjusts the straps of his helm. He then turns to the East and bows down low, his forehead resting on the warm stone floor. Murmuring the last of his prayers, he turns back to the messenger and asks, “Where is this… Hothmalor? If my master, Horus-Re wills that I serve in this time and in this place, then so be it”
Unspeaking, the two headed out once more, out into the burning wastes--- to cross the sea of sand and by the grace of the gods, make it to the land of Hothmalor. It was along the way that the messenger finally broke the silence and asked, “What name do you go by, sleeper-in-stone?”
Smiling wistfully, the black-skinned templar replied, “Neshi. ‘Neshi’ shall do as fine a name as ever I had”