Sorshana, being the clever and devious minx that she is, is tired of hiding and curious about the true nature of Dulge. So she follows him. When Dulge reaches his door, it’s obvious he knows something is up.
“I see that the pain and terror have not yet dulled your curiosity. How strange we must seem to you, like monsters from the old tales. Our raids seem random. We rarely steal from those we slay and, even then, we take only food, water and essential supplies, never trade goods. Those we capture alive are never sold, nor even kept, as slaves. We kill quickly when we must, slowly and agonisingly when we can. And, now that you yourself face that fate, you still wish to know why.
Know that I bear you no personal malice. Therefore, I will satisfy your curiosity. We were soldiers, once, in a great war that ended millennia before you were born. The sun burned golden then and the land beneath it was green and lush. You must have romanticized that this world was different once.
Our lord sought to cleanse the world, to return it to those who had first ruled it. And we were his greatest warriors, born of mortals like yourself, but invigorated with our lord’s sorcerous might. We were his most loyal servants, far more loyal, it turned out, than his trusted lieutenants. Those fools thought his purpose was to deliver the world into their grasping hands. So blinded were they by their own avarice and pride, they thought him as shortsighted as they. They were the very ones who had ruined the world with their unthinking greed. Why should he, whose purpose was redemption, give the world he had saved back to those who had despoiled it?
When they learned the truth, they turned against him. They have doomed this world, merely in order to rule some infinitesimal specks of it as petty tyrants for a few short millennia before the end comes and devours everything in fire.
But we, our lord’s last faithful servants, still have reason to hope. And you should be grateful. Instead of merely fading into nothingness in the Grey, your soul will serve a great purpose.Our own souls are already sworn to him, but so too are the souls we reap in his holy name. Every soul we send shrieking into the Grey finds its way to our lord’s side, and each soul is a weapon. We have found over the millennia of our exile, that certain strong emotions can forge these souls into more potent tools to aid our lord. Terror, despair, anguish, even rage and hatred: all these emotions we seek to instil in our prey before we send their souls to our lord.
It is like the process by which iron was turned into steel to make swords long ago, when there was still enough iron in the world and the secrets of its forging were not confined to our people alone. Thus, we forge weak mortal souls into useful tools, through the proper application of the furnace of terror and the hammer of agony.
He will rekindle the cleansing of this world. The blood of the impure will soak the barren sands, bringing life back to this world through their deaths. With our aid, he will return the sun to its proper state as a bringer of life and hope rather than the baleful flesh-warper and death-bringer it is today. The oceans will return from beneath the earth to wash away the taint of the wicked.
Oh, you wonder what we hope to gain from all this? Do we expect our lord’s undying gratitude?
No. We are monsters. We are the damned. We recognise that there will be no place in this new world for us. Like the prophets of old, we are blessed with the foreknowledge of Paradise regained, but doomed never to see it with our own eyes.
Now, perhaps, you understand us a little better. I can see that you think us insane. Perhaps we are. But we have something you will never know. Hope. Not some expectation of mere personal advancement, the pathetic aspiration of a slave that she may one day taste a few scraps from her uncaring master’s table. Our hope is for the redemption of the world itself.
For you, there is only pain now. And, eventually, the sweet release of death. You will beg for it before long. They all do; as will the friend who accompanied you here last time. We’ll find him too, and you’ll be joined together again.
But do not weep, for him or for you. It’s a waste of good suffering.”
You hear the scrape of a blade on a leather hide and an exasperated breath fleeing a large body.
The group waits too long and find that they are too late to save Dulge.