The Forest of Sorrows

“How long have you managed to elude us, Andor?” A pale man with cloudy purple eyes and jet-black hair sat atop a tall stool, playing with a small dagger in his hand set with a sparkling amethyst.

His captive, tied to a chair, grinned at the brown cobblestone floor – a droplet of blood hung from his nose precariously, falling to splash into the small pool on the floor when he lifted his head. Andor’s auburn hair dropped in his face, clinging to streaks of blood from his forehead. “If experience should teach you anything, it is that you’ll need to do more than simply ask questions to get answers out of me,” he asserted with a grin.

Frowning deeply, the man opposite Andor regarded him with disgust and contempt. “A pity,” he replied, “we’re running out of creative ways to cut you, and our venom seems to have only made you less responsive than you were previously. You might think we were losing control of you…” His disappointment was washed away by a cold smile. “Thankfully, we can still kill you and continue our investigation. It would simply be easier for us both if you told us where to look.”

“I’m not one for doing things the easy way.”

A long, drawn-out sigh escaped Andor’s captor.

“You bore me.” He hopped from his perch with ease and precision, every movement made with such dexterous fluidity that it still impressed the bound Andor. A silver snake embroidered upon the man’s right glove flickered in the dim torchlight during his approach. Just before his dagger would be stained crimson once more, he was interrupted by someone calling from the doorway behind him.

“Sir! Your presence is requested in front of the mirror. We’re receiving a message.”

Andor smirked with confidence, turning his gaze to meet the emotionless orbs that stared down upon him. A glistening dagger hovered just to the right of left shoulder, in the hand of his captor, having been prepared to strike less than a second ago.

“Seems you’re needed elsewhere. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. I enjoy pain,” Andor drolled on sarcastically.

The wielder of the deadly weapon turned his back on the prisoner without a word. His cape billowed out with his abrupt motion, striking Andor in the face.

“Hmph,” was the only response.

“Goblins, kobolds? We haven’t seen anything of the sort in decades. Fairy tales that they tell you kids to keep you quiet. There are far more frightening creatures to behold, hidden under the shadow of the trees. You’d do well to just stay inside, where it’s nice and safe.”

“But it’s not even safe here! The Snakes will take anything they want – they have for years. They rule this place, while the guards bleed out on the cobblestone, and our city council remains inept. Surely there is another way to live. Death cannot be all that awaits us around every corner. There must be something more to this world!”

“I don’t know, boy. We are brought into this world to play the hand we’re dealt. You were born in Strahl – in this forest – just like me. You’ll make do like I have, and your children will, too. Life is what you make of it, and I’ll be damned if I haven’t taught you that by now.”

“But fathe-”

A knock sounds at the door. Jeremy turns, his son staring, apprehensive. His weight makes the boards creak beneath his heavy steps – he was not a small man, by any means.

Jeremy reaches out for the knob, and turns it, drawing the door open. A flash of silver, and a spurt of red. A wife’s scream.


Guards aren’t the only ones who bleed out on the cobblestone.

Forest of Sorrows

Locrian Yert Tiffbriar