A man neared the bank of the island’s crashing waves on his one-man row boat, the warm thick air bearing down heavily on his weak fatigued shoulders. He lifted his right palm to brush off the leaking sweat from his forehead, using his opposing hand to shield his eyes from the smoldering sun as he peered to the large island. On it was a lush jungle, rich with the chaotic calls of nature. Mischievous monkeys roared in the trees, exotic birds called out into the canopy, and busy insects croaked as they roamed the endless sea of trees.
It was Richard, yet he was not his whole self--weariness from travel was the least of his troubles. He was ill, malnourished, and an inch away from death. Every second his body tore and ripped itself apart from starvation. His very essence poured out of him like the deepest of wounds, and it emptied faster as time went on. Only, the wound was not of the flesh, but of his soul.
Richard’s creaky boat slammed ashore, and he stepped out into the open ocean-side. With dragging steps forward, his old leather boots grinded softly as they smacked into the loose sand. Swiftly, he tied his small vessel to a nearby palm tree with some hempen rope. Upon finishing the knot, his body finally gave in for a brief pause of rest. He dropped to his back on the beach floor, slowly crawling to some shade. He tore his brown button-up shirt off his chest, the cloth peeling away with the sweat. With heavy pants for breath, he outstretched his arms and legs--and there he remained, his eyes watching as the seagulls soared through the sky, his eyes slipping from focus as his thoughts began to ponder.
His mind began to think of his years of as a Morghuul. So much rage, so much pain--indeed a very dangerous combination for any man to bear. He thought of all the damage he had caused--the suffering of his people he had inflicted, the execution of his best friend he had carried out, and the pain of his wife that he had caused, who fled in her grief, never to be seen by another again. Maybe she died...or worst.
After his frenzy, he was drained of resources. He was tired, yet no rest would come to him. He could not feel anything but the endless craving to feed and the ever consuming rot creeping from all sides of his skin. He would’ve given up, but it wasn’t an option--not even the sweet release of death could put an end to his dreary soul’s misery. Yet, after two decades, a familiar face decided to come forth from hiding and reveal himself once more--Orsul. With that, everything went dark, but when he awoke, isolated in the forest, he was alive again--like that. His skin was lively and his hair was thick. He could again taste the pollen of the air and smell the the sweetness of the wildlife. He could feel again. Richard buried the back of his head into the sand. He didn’t deserve his salvation, and he knew it. But, like the rest of mankind, he was selfish. All he could do was mourn at what he caused, and his burden would be to live with it to his dying breath.
It was now night time, and he was exhausted and starving--and not of food, but of the quintessential that his body gorged out by the second from his ever-consuming darkhollow. What was a brief break turned into a full night's sleep. His eyes rolled to the back of his head, and there he fell into a slumber.
He awoke late that morning to the thundering sounds of the jungle. He looked to the trees with an envy--so lively, so rich, so full of life. He sipped at one of his animal skins, which had been filled with blood lotus soup. He then took a nimble sip of his freezing salve, although he knew he’d have to conserve it for the rest of his journey. With that, he kicked off into the forest, wrapping his brown button-up around his waist.
He scoured the jungle, yet his mind concerned itself elsewhere. He was in his old home, Sutica, roaming aimlessly through the thick streets of the busy trade city. It was foreign, yet nostalgic, all at once. He continued to wander, his feet eventually taking him to the outskirts of the city--and there, he found a face he was looking for. The face was too familiar to forget, yet he could never have prepared for that moment. He was petrified. His stomach sulked and his form stiffened. What should he say, how would she react?
It was one he use to know during his time in Sutica, yet the elven women had since grown in his absence. Once just a guard of the Crulean Watch like him, now she held the title of Trade Princess of Sutica. It was Cyrene, who Richard had let loose one of his monstrosities onto that killed and injured many of her citizens--Cyrene, who he had once met blades with as a morghuul. She did not see him yet. She was laid flat on her back, looking up to the sky under the grave of the man that once carved out Richard’s left eye, her husband.
He strolled through the jungle, taking a seat on a trunk twisted in a manner in that it fashioned a chair. He caught his breath, swatting at the bugs that buzzed about his head and scratching his itchy bare chest, now soar with scratches and cuts. He took a large swallow of his water and a smaller one of his freezing salve, which would only last him the rest of the day. With a sigh, he leaned forward and dropped his head down, his left arm holding it up as a pillar based from his knee. Something clawed at him from the inside--a dilemma.
In Sutica, Richard had thought Cyrene would have hung him for his crimes, yet he was forgiven and accepted back with a warm embrace. Although many of Sutica’s inhabitants disapproved of her decision, he was even given an opportunity of redemption. But, what they were heedless to was his continued ties to the necromantic overlord. A year after his restoration, a letter was sent to him by a crimson carrion, its eyes illuminating with a cold blue flame. It was Orsul, and he called for Richard’s presence. He knew it would anger the lich if he were to refuse his summons.
He made for the north with haste on his steed. When he reached his destination, he saw his master near a grave, performing one of his dark sacraments on another unfortunate soul who reached out of the soil and crawled his way out. Another man, like Richard, now under the lich lord’s servitude. On that day, Richard’s darkhollow was formed. The experience was like no other. It was painful, yet afterward, he could feel the vast waves of life that surrounded him. He felt it radiate off the grass, the trees, and even the worms that squirmed aimlessly through the soil. It was everywhere--overwhelming, yet beautiful.
However from that day, Richard’s well-being slowly regressed from the wounds inflicted by his darkhollow. It ate away at his life force--the very energy that keeps every man going. Soon, even the most simple of tasks proved to be troublesome chores. He was tired and hungry--a feeling he knew all too well. Yet this time, it would not be fulfilled in the slightest. He craved for the quintessential, yet it would not come for some time. Months after they met, nearly a year in fact, Richard finally received word from his master, who would end Richard’s hunger. He would meet him at Coral Peak, an island off the coast of Haelun’or.
Richard decided to continue his search in the jungle. He was hardly able to stand now, despite his lengthy rest. He knew he needed to find Orsul before sundown, or else the jungle's night might prove the end of him. For hours he wandered, his drained fatigued legs beginning to yield to their longing to drop. He walked through ancient ruins, found old journals written by the monks, yet his bekoner eluded him. He didn’t want to work for him, and he didn’t want to be near him--but what choice did he have?
To Richard, it felt as if betraying the creature would be a death sentence for all those he ever loved or a ticket back to his old life--or more likely, both. No more would people die by his hands--directly, indirectly, or otherwise--and he wouldn’t go back to to undeath. He refused it. Not much frightened the aged man anymore--he had seen a lot over his lifetime, yet the thoughts of what could happen utterly panicked him. All he yearned for now was the starvation to cease.
The day was nearing its end. Most of the creatures began to bed down as the early nocturnal animals took over. Only the sun’s upper half was over the horizon--and the light of the forest began to dim. Desperate, Richard began to call out for his master’s name. No response. He charged around the trees with all the energy he could muster. He was lost, and the last light was almost upon him. He continued to call before finally he tripped over on a root, stumbling on his face. He pushed himself to all fours, wiping the mud off the bridge of his nose. He glanced up at a small opening of the canopy, watching as the concluding light faded. All seemed lost. But then, he heard a sharp whisper over him. “Mrghm, Aye m' lad.”
And from the trees slipped into view a figure--Orsul. "You Look famished, my boy." The elder stated, dragging himself forward as he peered Richard down. The Lich tilted his head this way and that as either grasp came behind his back.
"Out of all places..." He replied, beginning to make a gradual approach to Orsul.
As the two conversed, Richard’s focus was dead set on quelling the raging hunger within, and nothing would divert him from that. His ears listened with complete inquiry.
"A place so lush, seeping with life force..can you feel it?" Orsul questioned.
“I...I can feel it.” Richard answered, a hint of envy in his eyes--practically drooling on himself. He was prepared.
“Come my pupil, it is time to feast.”
The two made their way up to the highest point of the island, the lich explaining in detail the craft of drawing life from an object with his newfound gift. They both laid eyes to a bush, and Orsul spoke out. "You can practically...taste it, so green...so full of quintessence. A vessel-- empty it, Richard.”
After uncovering his hand from his glove, Richard gently grazed the plant with his fading flesh. His gluttonous eyes locked to the bush, and black tendrils from his digits creeped forward to fasten themselves at the leaves. They latched, and so began the draining of the plant. With each moment, Richard’s posture grew stronger. His chest pumped forth as his shoulders hunched over with a predatory posture. He began to breathe intensely as he empowered his soul, sucking the plant dry of all life. It pumped through him, but finally the tendrils connection severed, leaving it crispy and brown. Richard knew this feeling all to well. A subtle growl escaped his grimace. “More…”
"Restore yourself, Richard--go, into the jungle with you.”
He wanted to stop, but the urge was ruthless. With a primalistic expression, Richard stampeded down the hill--off into the moonlit jungle to completely revive himself to his former strength.
OOC: This is not common knowledge.