Ghoul. That's what they call him anyway. Perhaps a fitting description for someone disfigured as he. His smirk turns into a half crazed laugh as he unwraps some of the dirty rags, revealing the burns covering his whole body. Shunned from the world of humans, he went to find this place.....too long ago to remember. He sits and looks up at the forest canopy above him.
How long ago did he come here? It seems as though everything in the past few....months? Years? It seems like everything has been a blur ever since he jumped into the swirling black waters that would take him here. Since then he has been wandering from place to place, trying to find his true purpose here. Ghoul exhales deeply as half vivid memories of monsters and people just as malformed as he creep in, or deranged individuals that even some of the worst people would find repulsive.
The drifter sits slumped against a tree, one of the many decrepit trees in abundance in this forest. A forest as dark and foreboding as the rest of this wretched realm, yet it is after all the realm of doom and of salvation. A place for the souls of the damned to wander, a place where those seeking righteousness may yet find it. How odd that such a strange, wondrous, yet so dangerous a place could attract so many. Binding their very souls to this realm.
As the raindrops begin to hit his face, he pulls his hood up and continues on his way. According to some beggar he came across, the village of Tekarum shouldn't be too far. As he leaves the relative safety of the forest, he traverses the rocky hills, leading towards a ravine. The harsh winds whipping against him, the hard rain pelting him in the face.
Ghoul plays with the strange necklace around his neck. What was the meaning of this? Was it linked to his purpose here somehow? Pushing his foggy memories in exchange for life saving awareness, he puts a hand on the iron double barrel pistol at his hip. Hearing some strange noises up ahead, he spies a troop of the most disgusting trolls he has ever seen. They seem to be feeding on some unfortunate merchant caravan. Best to stay clear.
Steeling himself from the carnage, Ghoul makes his way past some river, using a log to get across. Before long the village comes into view, at least he hopes he is arriving at the right place. As he walks into the village, with its meager wooden walls, eyes as hollow as his stare at him briefly before going back to their business.
Just another drifter.
Ghouls smirks. Just how I like it.
As he continues towards the center of town, the sounds of people yelling reach his ears. As Ghoul heads towards the source of the sound, he finds a few dozen other people are doing likewise.
He stops near the edge of the crowd. Ahead is a woman in a dark cloak, with five heavily armed men who would be creating a semi-circle around her. But they seem to be keeping their distance, one has some kind of club which he repeatedly raps on his hand. Some cruel grin on his face.
"I think you owe us something missy." The man grins.
"No, I don't owe you anything," she says.
"Once the Virtus gang does you a favor, you owe us." One of the men with some moppy looking hair says.
"I didn't ask you to help me with the ogre job. I think your boss sent you because he was trying to get you killed. You know, pest control and such."
Grela turns around to leave.
"Listen here, Grela" the man with the club says, "if you won't give us our payment. Maybe we'll take something else."
The five men start approaching and Grela stops in her tracks. She looks over her shoulder, a sadistic smirk spreading across her face.
Without warning she whips around, kneeling as she sticks out her arm and activates some contraption on her wrist. A low popping sound is heard, and several small black balls fly towards the men, spreading apart as they fly.
The looks on their faces are of astonishment, but the black balls explode just as they reach the men. They cry out in pain as shrapnel pierces their bodies and their ear drums explode. Two fall dead, and before the other three can pull out their guns Grela whips a cylinder loaded pistol out from her coat. A few pops and some smoke later finds the last three men dead on the ground.
Ghoul looks over at the woman, who didn't even seem to break a sweat. As she turns to walk away one of the two men previously thought dead by the explosive projectiles struggles to stand up. It appears his left ear and almost half his face is missing. Even though he sways a bit as he stands, he lifts one of those new fangled cylinder pistols like the one Grela had. He pulls the hammer back, prepared to shoot her in the back.
Ghouls face twists as he steps forward, pulling the pistol off from his side. He points is at the gangsters chest, squeezing the trigger. A loud crack resounds as smoke billows up from the barrel. Grela turns around shocked, only to see the villain fall clutching his chest. Ghoul sees a man standing behind the fallen gangster with a sword raised. He flips the barrel on his gun and points it at the sword wielder.
"Whoa, whoa," the man says, "it's alright. I'm the sheriff."
Not convinced Ghoul looks to Grela, who nods. And he slowly lowers his weapon. The crowd begins to disperse as some of the town guards call them away. Grela and the sheriff cautiously walk towards Ghoul.
"Uh, thanks for saving me stranger," Grela says.
"Hmm, no problem. Who were those guys any way, looks like they were packing pretty heavy," Ghoul says.
"Some gang, call themselves the Virtus Sotiria. Uh, something about valor in salvation, not sure exactly," The sheriff says.
"By the way, I'm sheriff Olstin."
He extends a gnarled hand, which Ghoul shakes. He notices the sheriffs face looks like it's almost decaying. An undead apparently.
"They seem to think they own this town," Grela says, "and apparently everyone in it."
"No doubt they'll be coming here in force when they find out what happened to their boys," Olstin says.
He briskly walks over to the bodies, where several other town guard are "inspecting" their weapons. Olstin comes back with a lever action rifle.
"This is one of them new rifles, these guys ain't playing. Never thought I'd see the day when my beauty becomes almost useless."
Olstin pats the sword sheathed as his side.
"Yeah, well we have bigger problems," Grela says, "we need to make sure the village is secured."
"Hmm, yeah yeah, I'm on it."
Sheriff Olstin goes off to rally the guard and presumably, form some type of militia.
"So...uhh, what's your name?" Grela says.
"Ghoul, they call me Ghoul back where I'm from."
"That's a weird name. Well I'm Grela, and uh, thanks again."
"Like I said, no problem."
"So why do they call you Ghoul?"
"My fucking face." Ghoul says as he partially unwraps the rags around his face.
Grela tries not to look visibly repulsed.
"Eh, everyone has that reaction. Don't worry about it."
Grela looks a little ashamed at showing her reaction, but it doesn't bother Ghoul.
"Pretty soon, I probably won't remember who I am. Seems to happen to a lot of people here."
Greal nods in understanding. Just then the Sheriff comes walking over, followed by some other guards and some important looking nobles. Although they're noble, they still look like shit just like everybody else.
"Come on," Olstin says,"we need to have a town meeting. Figure out what we're gonna do."
"Aren't we already getting prepared for them?" Grela asks.
"We need to discuss this with the town committee." One of the old men says.
"And who are you?" Ghoul asks.
"I....am the villages elected mayor. Who are you peasant?" He asks almost literally sticking his nose up at Ghoul.
Stepping forward Ghoul starts to say something when Olstin puts his hand on his chest.
"Just back down on this one boy," Olstin says.
Sighing Ghoul steps back. The group, including Grela, start walking to the town hall. Grela stops and turns around.
"Won't you be staying to help us?" She asks.
Olstin steps forward shaking his head.
"Look drifter, I have nothing against you," Olstin says, "but we're about to be dealing with some dangerous people. You should get out with the rest of the civilians while you can."
Ghoul just takes a step back and pokes his chin at the group leaving Grela and Olstin behind. They both turn and start walking, although Grela takes a moment to glance back at Ghoul.
"Not my town. Not my business. Just do your business and get out."
Ghoul walks down the village streets, the dirt beneath him just as dull as the rest of this place. He stops as a strange wind blows past him, carrying the whispers of the dead, those who still live, and all those who are yet to come. A strangely intoxicating sound.
Ghoul steps forward, where the sound stops. He gasps as he takes a step back, and the whispers resume. Breathing in deeply, he determines they are directing him down some alley. With one hand on his sword and the other on his pistol he follows the sound, and yet one never knows what they'll come across here.
Eventually he finds himself outside of some small tavern, a warm light glowing from inside of it. As he opens the creaking door, the whispers seem to die down. In the center of the tavern sits an old woman, stirring into a pot. The warm glow coming from it, the warmth seems to be caressing the very essence of his soul.
Ghoul sits down at the stool across from the old woman.
"Come here, have you?" She asks.
"Yes, I'm looking for something."
"Well? What is it?"
"Uhh...I uh, I don't remember anymore."
"Seeking your purpose here, are ya?" She cackles.
"Yes, and I think it has something to do with this necklace. Once I find out why I'm here with it, it will help me achieve....something."
The old woman cackles uproariously, going on for a full minute before settling back down again, stirring the warm glowing pot.
"The necklace may not free you, it is your burden to bear."
"Yes, don't we all have one, my dear? Each of us carries our very own burden."
"How could I even know what that is, I can barely even remember who I am," Ghoul says.
"To seek, you must remember, yet you remember so that you may seek."
"You're not helping."
"Then perhaps, look into the waters of life....and death."
Ghoul looks into the pot, a glowing gold water within. As he stares images of life, happiness, and family appear. Smiling faces, long gone in a distant time and place. Hollow shells of former friends, lovers, and family. A warmth spreads across Ghouls body. A strange whisper in his ear.
"This was your life."
As he stares into the water, it starts to dull, becoming blacker than the night. In it is the visages of skulls, decaying faces of those long gone, and the crippled remains of what once was. Smiling people slowly take on distraught on angered faces, before withering back into the dust from which they came. The water clears and shows a lost soul wandering, ever searching forever more.
"This is your life now." Comes the whisper in his ear.
He becomes aware of another presence. Startled Ghoul looks up, jumping a little. Grela stands there, staring at him.
"Are you okay?" She asks.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Why?"
"You were sitting there rambling incoherently at the wall."
"No I wasn't, I was talking to-" Ghoul turns to see no one is there.
The old woman is gone, the warmth and darkness of the pot of water is gone, the glow gone. Even the stool the old woman was sitting on is gone. Ghoul looks around dumbfounded.
Grela gently places a hand on his shoulder.
"Come one, Ghoul, it's time to go."
Originally it was supposed to be one long story, but I figured I'd break it up into pieces so that way it wasn't too long. I also kind of meant to focus on the people/town and a little bit of character description. It kind of just got away from me while I was writing I guess. I'll probably end up attempting a thorough edit and then re-paste once it's polished up.
As you can see I'm very much shit when it comes to dialogue tags and apostrophes and the such. I actually looked up some of the rules on dialogue tags but for whatever reason they didn't seem to stick. Maybe my characters will have to start communicating solely in grunts and gestures from now on.
I've actually never seen the Dark Tower. But I figured I'd have the realm in some weird transition phase where only the most resourceful groups and individuals have the latest tech and weapons. Which of course they use to stomp the plebs underneath them.
Thanks for the read and advice, Mizal :)
"Thanks Mizal, will definitely focus on this," he said.
Posted for fun mainly, always willing to accept feedback though.
Thanks Ogre, I'll probably make things more clear in the edit.