Enderal:Tales of the Wanderer: The Archer from the Steppe
The Archer from the Steppe
On my travels through Vyn I had a lot of interesting encounters, some of them with more, some of them with less, of a pleasant ending.
I met beings who could change their face like a woman does her clothing. Walking corpses. Lost Ones. Ghosts. Monsters that tried to tear me apart with their tusks and claws. The world's finest warriors and mages — even if they boasted with titles and deeds later revealed as lies. The madness and greed of two monstrosities, which, at first sight, might not appear to fit this tale,, but show what can become of humans in terrible distress …
Well, I could certainly tell a thing or two about it and entertain a lively crowd for several evenings. But I'm neither a minstrel nor a vagabond, whoring and drinking tavern to tavern. “The Wanderer” — that is my name.
The purpose of my never-ending journey is to find the fabled warriors of Vyn, and reveal their legendary fighting methods. Now, read what I have to tell you.
One day I found myself working my way through the steppes and rocky caves of the sandy mountains of Arazeal. It is said that there, in that barren wasteland, once lived the most dreaded marksman beyond the Spice Canal.
I had already heard stories about this warrior: “Old Man” — is what the pockmarked drunk called me who told me about him in a shabby pub located in the harbour of the great city of Al-Rashim, on the coast of Qyra. He reeked of seaweed, fish and saltwater, and was clearly a sailor who has seen much of the world. “Take of your hood. I want to see who I'm talking to. Oh, what a fine scar you have there. Got it from a fight, eh? Guess you ducked down a little late there, Gramps. Your right eye doesn't look too healthy either; those colors aren't normal. You might want to get that checked out. But let's get back to the matter at hand. Did you hear the latest rumour from Arazeal?” he announced with a thick Endralean accent.
I looked sharply at the poor devil, and shook my head, even though I knew very well about the one who had reduced the number of bandits in the Sandy Mountains in a short amount of time to just a handful. “They call him the 'Avenger of the Desert Dust'. By the gods, some fiend he is; inhuman, and tremendously mighty. They say that he kills without his victims even noticing — not until it is too late, anyway. One moment you are alive, the next you are dead. You really shouldn't get in the way of someone like that.” Then he leaned forward and hushed his voice. “They say he can bend time itself to his will.”
After continuing my research I set out to see that man with my own eyes. I traveled through the barren mountains, asking around the settlements of nomads, but no one knew the identity of the mysterious marksman, or where I could meet him. It was several weeks before I came across a promising opportunity. At midday, under the sun's burning gaze high above, I climbed a tall ridge and suddenly heard the sounds of a battle. This was what I was searching for.
I followed the noise and hid behind some rocks for cover. It could hardly be called a battle anymore. It was such a short encounter, I could scarcely believe it had even occurred.. It was five against one: A peddler, slim and of tall stature — probably Arazealean — was threatened by a group of bandits. They knocked over his cart and killed the Steppe Beast pulling it. A dark red puddle pooled from under the massive carcass. The man was pleading for his life as the bandits tormented and harassed him. It was the perfect bait for the “Avenger of the Powder Desert”. He didn't even make them wait for long.
Suddenly, a peculiar feeling came over me. I immediately recognized it as the feeling of magic at work — over the years, I had developed a sixth sense for it. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a hooded figure carefully creeping towards the bandits, with movements as dextrous as a cat's. The next moment the figure raised a hand and lightning and fire rained down on the clueless bandits. The figure then sprang up, revealing a bow, and knocked an arrow — and that's it happened.
Silence at first, then a strange whirring. The environment changed before my eyes as everything was suddenly engulfed in a drab, grey sludge. Each blink of an eye passed like an eternity. Everything was trapped in the spell cast by the stranger. I knew what he had done, felt how he dragged another reality out of the ocean of possibilities into life, and how it became the new reality. Resting in between all of that were fractions and tiny splinters of time itself. For the stranger, the river of time was unchanged; he moved about as if standing in the centre of a roaring cyclone. I swiftly eluded myself from his power with the help of a warding spell.
My second, special eye caught the arrows which whirled through the air, each followed quickly by a spectral arrow. As the spell subsided, the bandits were lying at the feet of the peddler — dead, pierced several times by multiple pointed projectiles. I couldn't believe my eyes. The stranger walked towards the peddler, made sure he was unharmed, and shoved a purse of coin into his hand to compensate for the broken cart and the pack animal. He did it in utter silence, without uttering a single word.
Then the stranger disappeared in a cloud of dust, though not before casting a glance my hiding spot. He knew that I was there. I rose. The marksman was, I realized, was of slight stature. He had piercing green eyes the color of poison, with long lashes and a red strand of hair coiling from under the scarf, covering head and most of his face. Not a marksman, I realized, but a markswoman. After she left, I accompanied the peddler to the next settlement.
I never met the warrior again, but what I saw was sufficient to convince me of her talents.
Based on the combination of conventional mental and elemental magic she used to preemptively strike down the bandits, coupled with her ability with the bow and uncanny stealth, I decided to name her fighting technique the “Arcane Archer”. If you also put her most powerful talent of slowing down time into consideration, it adds up to a pattern that turns this warrior into one of the deadliest ranged fighters in the world. The only question I still ask myself is where she got the riches from to compensate the trader, as she lived in a poor region and the nomads surely had not enough to pay her for her deeds. They used to circulate rumours around Arazeal, that a magically gifted noble's daughter — well-known by the people as cheeky brat, of brisk and rebellious temper — ran, for no apparent reason, away from home at one of the civilized coast cities. They say she took part of the family treasure from the Vol Tis, probably as some kind of revenge on her overly-strict father. Physical features of this noble family were green eyes and red hair …