With the skeletons of Ravensmoor closing in upon me, I had no choice. Kahli. Certainly the rumors of peril arising from this land could not be so true, and most assuredly, could not compare to my impending doom by skeletal hand. Holding my panicked breath as if plunging into frigid waters, I ducked into the darkened canyon, descending through twists and turns akin to a maze. Even the undead dared not to follow. What have I done?
But ahead, a glimmer of light brought me hope. Approaching, there be three disheveled merchants, forlorn, all but emaciated, and with only a paltry amount of supplies for trade. An odd hum permeated the night air, deep, nearly imperceptible. I could feel the emanation within my lungs, inflicting somewhat labored breath. The source of this mind numbing vibration, I was uncertain nor did I afford much attention to its point of origin. For before me, stood three greater oddities. Survivors of the perils of Kahli.
“Traveler! Come, quickly, to the light of our fire! The night here… it becomes too dark. Do not become lost in that madness ahead.” A short pause of thoughtfulness provoked a question, “Are, are they gone? The walking bones? Can we finally leave?” implored the raggedy banker, long since away from her comforts and riches.
The second merchant mumbled despairingly, “No. Our traveler friend here has refreshed the guard. Bringing more undead to the canyon’s entrance. We are still trapped. Trapped between most certain death and most certain madness. This gateway between two wicked worlds is our home. But, I apologize… come by the fire and warm yourself. Do not venture further until the light of day, if you even dare to do so at the sun’s rise.”
As I was contemplating acceptance and after an uncomfortably long pause, “I cannot bear this much longer,” the third merchant whimpered, adorned more in filth than clothing. I gazed sadly upon the meager amount of wares strewn about his feet, magical in nature, components so dry a mere breeze would bring them to dust. “Aye… it has been too long. Months. A year? The vermin here are all that sustain us. At the brightest light of noon, one of us only then will dare to fetch water ahead, but the drawer of the shortest straw returns quickly. The ruins of Old Kahli are ghostly. Ghastly. The dragon’s bones emanate strongly with Artenius’ Sorrow.”
The three merchants then resumed sitting positions by the fire, returning to their nightly routine of hushed whispers and roasted rabbit. “At least our visitor brings fresh stories if not fresh rations? What is your tale, oh traveler? Might you sing words of enheartening legend for our beleaguered souls?”
Smiling softly, I attempted to dismiss worry and accepted their kind invitation of refuge, albeit foreboding. As my tale began, the legend of Kahli grew. For my words became a part of Kahli’s story, echoing softly in the canyon and into the distant peaks. With a centuries long hunger for new song and rhyme, Kahli devoured my tale as it might, one day, my being.
In time, could Kahli be as it was so many centuries ago? Alive and splendid with art and beauty? Could my tale be the first of many new tales to grace this land? Or is this canyon my new home? These merchants, my new brethren? Am I now trapped between worlds, never to see the light again except on my day to fetch the water? I think not. Tomorrow, I will journey forth, and make claim to my courage and perhaps even to these lands. I will face the dangers ahead, surefooted, strong of mind, arrow nocked! I shall not linger and wither away as these fools! Tomorrow, the mysteries of Kahli shall be revealed to me! A ranger, trapped within a mere canyon, indeed!