Nigredo

Blood fell profusely from Darella’s shoulder, she just looked at her comrades with a blank face. A face that grew paler every passing second. She fell to her other elbow and looked in her sisters confused eyes.

“We have to stop the bleeding!” Delgen said looking about them, they all now noticed that they were naked save for the guns strapped to a conjured arcane belt or bandolier. There was no cloth to press against the wound, Delgen’s medic-mind began to search the local vegetation. Anything that could serve as a topical analgesic, or at least an astringent as they applied pressure. Kingsfoil would have been fortunate to find, but evaluating the surrounding plant-life lead him to assume that there would be no Kingsfoil, a bit of monkshood would be scarce..in fact the vegetation seemed quite rare and dying—

Six deafening shots were fired in the air as Leomourn aimed his gun high in the air above him. Everyone stared at him in disbelief. He then pressed the hot barrel of his firearm to the rogue’s torso. The red hot metallic barrel seared the flesh, filling their nostrils with the smell of burnt flesh and boiling blood. The echo of the gunfire still echoed, Darella did not scream.

“You’ve given up our position!” Delgen hissed, throwing to the ground a handful of grass and herbs he had scrambled together.

“I stopped the bleeding.” Leomourn said, with a sniff. He holstered his weapon and rubbed his nose hard.

They were still naked.


“Ahoy there!” A voice called from a carriage that pulled near. “I heard some ruckus, are you lot alright?”

“Hide!” Delgen said, as he stood over the fainting Darella. Amarella dragged Leomourn into cover, by his hair.

“Hello?” The voice said as a beam of light was cast into the dark wooded area.

“Good Evening…heh.” The Dwarf said, he put a hand on the handle of his pistol. The man shined his light on Delgen, noticing his lack of attire.

“You okay there miss?” The man in the carriage asked, shining his light on the limp naked body of Darella underneath the naked dwarf.

“She has suffered a major wound, we need immediate help.” Delgen said gesturing at the cauterized festering wound on his comrade’s side.

“Come, hop on my carriage. I’ll take you into town.” The man said, steering his two horses to bring the stagecoach closer to the wounded rogue.

“I am with two others.” Delgen called out.

“They are welcome, too.” The kind man said.


“A pint and a coin.” Said the half-elf at the gate. He was dressed in a deep crimson.

“My friend is dying here.” Delgen argued.

“A pint and a coin!” The helf said, a bit more sternly.

“She can’t spare another pint!” Delgen screamed.

“Does it really cost a pint of blood to get into this stupid city?” Leomourn called from the back of the covered wagon.

“It’s fine…Delg…I can do it.” Darella stepped off the wagon, her face as pale as the moon. She grasped tightly to the thick burlap sack wrapped about her, she stumbled towards the helf. She fell into the font, and leaned heavily against it.

“Sanguis vita est.” The helf said, the font hummed with arcane energy. Small red dots appeared all over Darella’s body, they were then sucked from her as droplets of her own blood left her body through her pores. They all gathered into a crimson sphere a few inches above the font she leaned on. The sphere then dripped straight down into the drain in the bowl of the font.

“You may enter.” The crimson-robed figure said. Darella fell to her knees, exhausted.

“Yeah, thanks.” Delgen huffed as he rolled up his burlap sack too and leaned on the font. After his pint of blood was taken he grabbed up the rogue and walked in.

“I will cover the gold for this lot.” The old man who owned the wagon said tossing a few coins at the figures in red.

They entered the bustling city of Athanor. Members of all races ran and hurried past the wagon, seemingly unaware of the wagon or anyone else within the city walls. They were all keeping to theirselves, all living their own lives. I city’s entrance split immediately into two main throughfares.

“This is where I must depart. I wish you all the best of luck, perhaps we will meet again soon.” The old man said. Amarella and Leomourn fell out of the back of the wagon, their mouths open in awe and disbelief.

“Wait. How can we repay you?” Delgen said, steadying the unconscious rogue.

“Just pay it forward.” The man smiled as he and his wagon disappeared into the crowd.


“We need a hospital.” Delgen said.

“We need money.” Leomourn said, looking at their attire. Two burlap sacs, a hemp tomato bag and a old raggedy coat.

They made their way to the bank, propping Darella between them making it seem like she was walking in-stride, but a macabre mocking walk. Leomourn pulled small articles of clothing off of unsuspecting individuals as they made their mocking march to the bank uptown. By the end of it they were all disguised in a hodge-podge amalgam of clothes stolen from innocent bystanders.

“We’d like to take out a loan please.” Leomourn said from underneath a straw moustache.

“Certainly. May we have your account number?” The elf behind the counter asked in a high soothing timbre.

“Uh…seven.” Leomourn said, followed by a quick jab to the side by Amarella. Darella opened her eyes, she stumbled forth and leaned on the bank teller’s desk.

“Listen. We have arrived before our brokers and have suffered an accident on the road. We were attacked and robbed the rest of our company should be arriving in a few days. We need hefty credit, with a few contingencies! It is already such a hassle with out our servants as it is, let alone the fact that our clothes were stolen, we have no way of purchasing more! No dilly dallying!” Darella screeched in her most posh voice.

“Pardon me—ma’am.” The old man started to fumble with paper on his desk as he put on his reading glasses. He motioned for them to sit, and as he took a quill to his tongue. “Your name madam? You mentioned contingencies?” Her companions looked at Darella, confused by her act; partly of how natural and convincing it sounded even as improbable as it was and partly because she was unconscious from blood loss not a moment ago.

“Doomsday. Firstly as I have previously mentioned, we have no money currently therefore we need any application fees, origination fees and down payments waived. Secondly we expect low APR, low interest, no acceleration and absolutely no negative amortization. This is a mere upset in our visit, and you are only an advancement until the rest of our caravan comes to town.—And finally you will hold our brokers as escrow, you will not be contacting us individually. Payments will be differed. It is degrading enough to be in public as it is with common grime and local vagrants.” Darella spoke fast and sternly.

“Those are some constricting terms, madam. I may have to discuss with my superior—” The old man choked on the absurdity of the situation. He had so many questions.

“I said we are in a hurry! Do not delay us further!” Darella demanded. The man sat down.

“How much were you thinking, Madam…D…Doomsday, was it ma’am.” The man started to fill out a form nervously.

“I’ll leave you to decide the principle. Don’t insult.” Darell leaned back in the chair.

“Is this fine?” The man slid the form over, with his head down.

“That will suffice. Now off with you, retrieve said loan.” She looked away and crossed her legs, he wandered off hurriedly. They all looked at Darella, who had immediately slumped down into the chair as the lender was out of sight.

“He didn’t even ask why you only have one arm.” Leomourn said, amazed, pointing at the bleeding stump that was bound in dirty linen.

“I assumed you wanted the sum in old currency, ma’am. As not everyone have taken to the conversion to Pact-gold.” The man placed a heavy leather coin purse on the desk, the sound of coin drew stares from other tellers and patrons.

“What year is it?” Amarella whispered, a seat behind her sister.

“Now that her contract is finalized. Miss Doomsday and I have previously come to an agreement. She shall now loan me this sum, and I intend on using it as downpayment for a loan I wish to take out. Please double that sum, presently now kind sir and bring along another pretty leather purse.” Delgen bellowed authoritatively.

“I beg your pardon—but sir this is already twice the amount—”

“I don’t wish to repeat the wishes of the lady, but we are quite in a hurry and find this setback quite unnerving.”

“I am already risking my job, if not more on the risk of this loan. I don’t even know if you are even who you say you are. What if you default? Wha—”

“I am Hammer of Moradin, I was forged in his fires. By his name I swear that I wholely intend on repaying these debts. To doubt me, would insult my faith and my god.” Delgen said sternly. Darella glared at him. Leomourn laughed, and mouthed “No, we won’t.”

“Forgive me sir.” The man hurried away and shortly returned with another bag of coin. Delgen smiled and stood fast took hold of the bags and was on his way out.

“Excuse me! I almost forgot, for a fee that large we need a blood payment for collateral.” The old man called frantically. Delgen stopped and turned round slowly.

“Moradin put blood on the inside, to draw it would be insult to his craft. So, I’ll keep my blood, thank you.” Delgen turned and exited.


Nigredo

The Flame of Time gabrielegandrake