Enderal:The Life of Torgan Whispertongue, Volume 1
The man's lifeless body laid next to my feet. The faint light of the moon gleamed silvery and eerily in the deep red puddle underneath him.
An odd feeling of numbness hit me the moment in which the dark wafts of mist in my head dispersed. It somewhat equaled the paralysis one feels when standing in front of the love of one's life and being unable to move a single muscle, due to over-excitement. It's just that this numbness was more brutal, more ravenous, and all-consuming.
I vaguely remember how my view slowly wandered down my arm. In my hand I held a bloody, fist-sized stone. Pieces of what had been beaten out of that young man's head were still sticking to it. And once more a feeling of numbness hit me. In that moment I had lost all memories of what had transpired just a bit earlier. Certainly I've gotten my memory back by now, but even years after that event I was still searching for it futilely.
This man was dead, stone-dead, as dead as possible, even deader than a Lost One, though those creatures nonetheless walk the earth even in their state. There wasn't a soul in sight in the whole park. No oddity, considering the late hour. The weight of the bloody stone in my hands seemed to get heavier and heavier the more the horrifying truth entered my mind. Soon it was so heavy that I found it impossible to hold onto it. I had to let go of the stone. Was it possible? I was a murderer?
The facts supported no other conclusion, and although my reasoning was clouded greatly by the Glimmercapdust, I could still arrive at that conclusion in my delirium. I, Torgan Whispertongue, whose dream it once was to reach for the stars, to accomplish what nobody had ever done before, was a killer. I went too far, to the edge of the world and beyond it, inside the most shady ravines and recesses of Vyn. Following the numbness, a wave of pure panic struck me. They would pursue me. They would imprison me — or even worse, hang me. That would serve me right. I could go nowhere. My love, Maressa, my friends, everybody I knew turned away from me.
In hindsight I have to forgive the past me the misconduct he committed. Long before the murder, I had deviated from my right path. I had tried to reach for the stars, but had missed them and had fallen. The void I fell into stuck to me like an oppressive shadow. If a man forgets why he was born he loses his life's meaning. Much worse befell me after that incident, and it isn't easy to contemplate that now, years since I turned back to the one true and right path. My old bones never recovered from those dark times; however, I could leave those times behind me by writing them down.
Behold and see for yourself what transpired back then, with a righteous and observant eye.
My father was a man one couldn't often find throughout the world. For other children, worthy heroes or explorers were role models. For me it was my father, who was my best friend, my mentor, and even half my soul. He loved his little son with the fiery hair, his “spark.” At times the books which he looked after were more important to him than the love of his wife, my mother Rochmea. But he never once neglected me. As a librarian he wasn't one of the wealthiest citizens of Ark, but he knew how to feed his family and had a way with saving money. He taught me the fine arts of reading and writing, the talents which separated a knowledgeable person from a mere peasant. His passion for the sciences and the analytics which aimed to research magic in all its facets aroused my desire to study these areas, even though they were eyed skeptically by the common people. As a child I had dreamed of becoming a member of the Holy Order, a man whocomprehends the secrets of the world and is respected. I wanted to get rid of my life as a mere nobody and become somebody of distinction.
What sheer irony of fate it was that struck down my father. In life, days may be good or ill. This illness though, I saw coming just once and it never left. It stayed. Before I had even seen the eighth year of my life, I had to witness how the books which he nourished and cherished became his bane. Between the yellowed pages of a weighty tome, an edition which he had bargain-hunted from a merchant and presented to my mother and myself with his head held high, a fungus had lodged itself. It infected him like a crawling parasite and drained him from the inside out. The death caused by this sort of fungus is so slow that you only realize it when it is too late. In my opinion it is one of the worst kinds of death, especially if you consider how it desiccated the face of my deceased father until his bare bones showed.
My Path consecration had some devastating and far-reaching consequences for my young self. How much I had hoped that Malphas would lead me on the Path of the Sublimes so that I would have at least a small chance of joining the Order. I was praying every night for this opportunity, in turn putting all my hope in the hands of our God. In the end the destiny he chose for me was entirely different. The same literate Path as my father's was intended for me. You may think that this is a logical consequence — a son inherits his father's path, that seems reasonable. For me it was the biggest possible disappointment. It was surpassed only by another dramatic experience in my childhood, one which mustn't be omitted here, as it was the cause of my inner corruption.
For a long time my body would convulse whenever I thought back to the following hour. In old age the intensity of such memories strongly dwindles, which is grounded in seeing the world through different eyes. An incredible impudence, nothing more, happened on that late, cold evening of arrival. My mother and I were having supper just when we heard somebody knocking at the door of our house. As my politeness demanded of me the, albeit small, man of the house, I got up and opened the door. A tall, haggard man in red garb stood in front of me. He was Jagar Sevenstroke, according to his Path a priest in the temple which my family and I visited often. He was often called the father of the weak and the manufacturers, as he cared the most about the concerns of those who needed the most help. To me it always seemed as if he wore a mask above his skinny, skull-like face, which hid his real appearance. Jagar Sevenstroke held a great reputation everywhere in Ark, but even more so in our neighborhood. He had supported my mother when she was grief-stricken over her husband's death. I had never liked him despite all these arguments for his goodwill. There are only a few sentences that he spoke which I can still remember clearly. The first one was his greeting:
“Well Torgan, my little spark, will you let me come inside so that my fragile body doesn't freeze any further in the winter's cold?” he asked me, crouching slightly and with exaggerated friendliness.
I would have loved to close the door, but my mother invited our gracious priest into our house, and she even chided me with a fierce smack for my hesitation. The priest kept us company for supper. I barely listened to his sharp tongue, but I felt as if I could see something terrifying in his eyes while he was speaking to my mother. A hidden and glistening greed. Under the pretext of him asking after our well-being, because my family was especially important to him, my mother quickly forgot all of her distrust and precaution. He directed the conversation towards my father while we ate. My mother always kept me out of everything concerning her dead husband, so she discreetly but at the same time firmly sent me out of the room. I didn't have fiery hair the color of a rutterkin for no reason, as the folk saying goes. While standing in the dark hallway, I further listened in on the conversation through the thin door crack.
For a good while it seemed to me as if he dealt with my mother in an underhanded manner. When she tried to give him another ladle of stew it happened. With a pounding heart I saw how the priest stood up from his chair and walked behind my mother. Disaster was imminent. As she turned around she became frightened by the short distance between them. She gave him the bowl. He, however, immediately put it down on the table.
“You are beautiful Mydame. Why aren't you searching for a new man to be at your side? I am sure that every gentleman would love to be there,” that's roughly how he expressed his desire for her. He tried to caress her face but she eluded his advances. And suddenly the priest's failed attempt turned serious. He lunged out with his bony hand and beat her down. The animal, his true face, revealed itself. He dropped all pretense. I witnessed it when he bent over her while she was holding her cheek, when he pressed her down and raised her dress with his wrinkled, old hands. With coarse hands, he forced his will on her. There was more strength in his old hands than one would think. My mother screamed, however she couldn't get free. There are numerous stories telling about how young heroes would attack the man in this same situation and at the same age as myself to impede his inten. I was too scared. Cowardice is a trait of mine which has always come into the picture at the worst of times. Through the thin door crack I watched how the priest's robe was unveiled. My eyelids closed nearly by themselves, as if my body wanted to prevent my soul from breaking after witnessing the following scene. Nevertheless, I heard every sensual grunt of the priest and every pained groan of my mother. After a while he suddenly paused in his activities. I realized that only by the change of the background noise.
I thought that the nightmare had finally come to an end and peeped through my half-closed eyes. Goosebumps covered my whole body. The skull-like face of Jagar Sevenstroke was looking down on me through the door crack. He viewed me from above, the crouching boy whose mother he had just raped. A crooked smile escaped his grimace.
“Be a good boy and keep on following your Path, then Malphas will have a good impression of you,” he said and closed the door.
He left me alone in the darkness of that hallway. His face was burned into my mind and left extensive scars there. To this day I remember that heretic's face better than my father's, that liar, that traitor of the benevolent Malphas. He should burn in the Sunfire for his sins, especially as my mother certainly wasn't the first woman he exploited in that way. My mother never spoke about that occurrence. She bore the pain silently. One couldn't prosecute a priest, especially one with such an impeccable reputation as Jagar Sevenstroke had, unless one belonged to a high Path and was able to exert a great influence on the clergy. She kept silent. When she did that, a fire started burning in me. It was just a little flame, a spark which came from the embers that was lit by my Path consecration and the disgraceful deed of an envoy of Malphas. Just a wisp of wind or a weak puff would have been enough to extinguish it. However, it was ignited and would determine the course of my life. The flame which was able to melt the chains of my incarcerated will.
The flame of freedom.