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I am the Miasma.
Made from the torture of a lost prince and the rage of a trapped god.
Sent forth from the city of the immortalised dead.
Borne aloft over oceans wide to innocent lands.
I am your bane. I am your end.
My body chokes not the air nor lungs. Nay, those two are the greatest aides in my spread. But utterly do I choke light, for it pierces none of my blackness. Truly, its presence only serves to more deeply contrast the void I cast upon all around me.
My touch alone does not weaken nor maim. Like a breeze, my passing may even be pleasant, until you meet my embrace. When my smokey tendrils surround you utterly, then you will know your end. But you will not pass in pain: so suddenly will I consume you down to your very essence, that you won't feel a thing. Your body shall bolster mine, your energies the same.
Once a foreign land knows my touch, it shall never be free of it. Low across the ground do I move, where no gale might displace me. I creep into every crevice that even the greatest purging flame, burning across the entire dome of the sky, will never touch me.
I have no strength, but I have time. As fog may not break down a door, or shatter windows, neither may I. But my growth is inevitable, for while people may hide behind their charms and airlocks, animals and bugs nevertheless feed my size. I need only wait for an opening, the smallest slip-up, and my entrance is assured.
But I am more cunning than that alone. Why feed on prey that might prove just as ably a host? My darkness needn't only surround, it also fills when necessary. That rasp in your lungs, do you know of it's source? Would you call it the simplest sickness, induced from so long a time, hunkered down with so many others in your secure little basement? Is that all it could be? I had been in your lands long before the first alarm came.
Even so. The recirculated air is getting stuffy in there, isn't it? Or your rations are running low. The generators are out of fuel, and the solar panels receive naught now that I'm here. Surely, though, you can chance the opening of a window for some fresh air. It's not too hard to cast a simple charm whilst also opening a window.
Think, just how sweet, cool and invigorating that first breath will be. Think how the others will thank you for the reprieve, how they will admire your bravery for taking that risk, and your dexterity and not faltering under that pressure to work the lock and the catalyst at once. It would be nice, wouldn't it? And you need something. Food, air, power, freedom.
I have none of that. But I do have time.
The following is a survivor's recount of the events at the Folkvarn Outpost during the 567th year of the Gods' War, dictated by his Holiness, Chasid Devonte of the Alabaster Saints, housed and maintained in Venelatria's Hall of Records and Artifacts:
"The bell struck the third hour of the morning," he started, "when the night was at its thickest--the 'Blackest Hour,' as many of my fellow (superstitious) soldiers often referred to it. They claimed that during this hour, dark magic was at its greatest, and with Jan Ka'tet's necromancy building an army of the dead, everyone was--understandably--a bit nervous that close to the border."
"And what of you?" I asked quietly, trying to quell the anxiety in the man's eyes. "What did you think of this 'Blackest Hour?'"
"Stuff of nonsense," he spat, though his eyes told otherwise. In them, I saw that--though perhaps once his words may have rang true (though it's irrelevant if not)--he now believed differently. Something had happened that morning which had changed his mind. "Just...well, you know, babytales. Things mothers tell their sons to keep them snuggled in at night and not off causing trouble."
"Please continue," I encouraged.
The man shifted uneasily. "Well, as I mentioned, it was the third hour, and the guards all switched shifts; I would have been at the gate, had I not switched spots with a friend for an earlier favor. My taking his position at the lookout tower is the reason why I am here instead of him." He paused, swallowing hard. "A-Anyway, I just reached the lookout when I saw it: a strange, thick fog, just off the first barriers. I didn't think much of it at the time--fog creeps in from the Dark God's lands all the time, but I alerted the others of the fog all the same. The vampires had snuck in with the fog in the past, so we took no chances.
"The archers took their positions along the walls, bows drawn back and ready to let loose upon any shadow that might move. None did. So the Mage was called, one that specialized in summoning the gales, and he shattered the fog's veil. Nothing lied beneath. And as the fog settled down, as did our nerves, for with an empty fog, we needn't fear attack--or so we thought."
"You thought?" I asked, leaning forward. "What do you mean? Explain yourself." However, I then noticed the look of fear that had come to his eyes, powerful emotions dredged up by the recalling of that fateful morning. I motioned for a servant, who brought the man a glass of cool water. He lifted it to his lips and drank it greedily. "Continue when ready."
The man swallowed and coughed. "Thank you," he managed, then cleared his throat. "After a few minutes, the fog began creeping into the outpost. It's then that we noticed that we had lost contact with the frontmost guards. The men gathered near the gates; the archers with their bows drawn and those standing by the gates with their swords at the ready. I stood ready at the tower, my Model-XT Triton, a long-range stake launcher, positioned and aimed toward the fog. Two men walked out into the thick fog and I watched with bated breath as they disappeared from sight. I'd never see them again.
"As we all waited for the men to return, the fog spread to cover all of the outpost, reaching up to the men's legs and quickly rising higher. That's...wh-when it began. A woman screamed a bloodcurdling cry from behind us, one that was quickly cut short. And..."
"And?" He didn't respond. I waited, patiently, as he collected himself, slowly sipping his water. His eyes stared out into nothing, watching the events unfold in his mind's eye.
"And from the fog rose a figure; not a figure hidden by the fog, but one of it. Some kind of ghostly being with eyes of a deep crimson. It drew some sort of ethereal blade and slit the throat of one of the archers, slipping back into the fog as quickly as it had appeared. Two more rose from the fog, one slitting the throat of a young boy, the other grabbing a woman and disappearing down into the fog. Then there were four, then ten. Soon, I counted near twenty of these ghost assassins as they massacred everyone in Folkvarn around me.
"What happened next was a bit of a blur. I recall firing at them, but the stakes simply flew through their bodies and they sparsely even noticed. One of the men swung madly at them, his blade doing little but disrupting its manifestation slightly. It moved swiftly and dug its blade into the man's throat, then both collapsed into the fog. It lasted for only a few minutes, but..."
"Yes?" I asked, watching his expressions closely.
"When the fog cleared a few minutes later, everyone was gone. No people, no bodies, not even a single drop of blood. It was as if no one had ever been there and that no battle had ever occured. Everything was clean, just as it was. I didn't leave that tower until your patrols found me three days later."
"Thank you," I told him, placing my hand gently on his shoulder. "Know that we shall find justice for your friends, and know that what you have told me here shall be of the upmost help of preventing this tragedy's replaying. Now get some rest; let the goddess watch over you tonight."
And that ended the debriefing. Let it be known that the young man--who shall remain without a name, for his own well-being--was found as the sole survivor of the Folkvarn Outpost. His recount of the assault by the Ghost Assassins held true, for they have since struck two more outposts along the border since the man's debriefing. We of the Alabaster Saints have began formulating a counter against these dark fiends. The Dark God believed he could wipe out our forces without our knowing how. But he didn't count on our lone survivor.
End of report.
The Fog rolled down the hills,
Its great white expanse filled
With the murky daymares of
The townspeople in the valley.
They shouted and shrieked
In their own little amorphous
Fashion, a sight seen only when
The Fog came with its undulating embrace.
Slow and steady came the waltzing warriors,
The cavorting cavalry, stupendous soldiers
Of the Fog's white expanse, as it came to
Invade and encompass the village.
The people fled into their homes, a
Locking of doors and windows commencing -
How funny and yet strange a sight to see.
Nevertheless, the Fog's brigade of
Misty warriors stood their vigil in
The Sun's permeating radiance.
The Fog shrank from the Sun's blinding,
Scorching heat, and thus fled
From the village, wracked with losses.
The Fog's brigade was no more, though
Surely, it would return, as night meets day.