Tales of Twilight: The Spirit of the Hill

September 26, 2007

Most spirits that form as an incarnation of a specific place do so slowly, over the course of many years. They drink in the emotions of those who live there, or that of travelers passing by. They can form as the heart of a city or the guardian of a wandering stream. They are often formed in places of calm, steady emotions, or where noble deeds were done, places of legacy and memory.

Takera came into existence in one, sudden instant – a moment of profound violence.

Two armies clashed in the shadow of a single, noble hilltop amidst the rolling lowland plains. These lands had seen much war in their lifetime… but war where man stood against devils, and unearthly beasts, darkling spawn and all manner of monsters, goblins and beastmen. Man had stood united for thousands of years upon these plains, a beacon of civilization against the children of the Endless Dark… but now, beside this hill, men fought against each other. Brother fought brother, and one by one, each soul that battled fell, until atop the hill the leaders of the two bands clashed together. And when the air grew silent and the battle was done, both lay side by side, each blade having pierced the other’s heart.

Why they fought did not matter – a slight between two families that had occured many years before. Long enough, in fact, that no one living was there when the bad blood began… but the families remembered, and the bitterness ran deep.

Atop this hill, it came to a head, and left dozens of warriors dead, and two brothers left side by side, locked in eternal strife.

And Takera awoke.

The spirit of the hill did not awaken over the slow steady creep of years, nor did it form from peace and calm contentment. It formed in a moment.

He formed in anger.

It was fortunate, however – his anger was not the mindless hate that had driven the warriors to slay each other. Instead, it was anger at the foolishness of it all, the brutality, and all over something that happened lifetimes ago. They were so concerned with petty honor and family, and in doing so, they had bathed Takera in blood and cost him any chance at innocence.

Three things he gained from his bloody birth: A dim view of mankind, a cold and simmering rage… and a purpose.

A hill cannot stand up and walk away. Takera was the hill, and he was bound to that spot by his very nature. But when more men came to claim their kinsmen’s bodies, Takera appeared, intent on making his will known.

Takera manifested as a towering figure garbed in broken armor, an old man with a torn and ragged beard, and a piece of bloody cloth wrapped firmly across his eyes. His voice was thunder, and the shadow of his wrath darkened the sky.

“Know this, you who spill blood so needlessly! Those who trespass upon this land shall know my judgement! Those who walk a righteous path shall go untouched, but those who fight without cause shall have their folly returned upon them tenfold! Those who walk with envy or hatred, seeking vengeance rather than justice, shall be punished according to the measure of their sin. Take your dead! Take your burdens and your war. But if you return, know you shall not be shown such mercy again.”

In fear, they collected their kin. When more came, from the opposing family, intent on collecting the remaining fallen, Takera again announced his proclamation, and again, in fear, they gathered the bodies and left.

And time passed. The war between the families did not end that day, but tension died to a simmer – and those involved stayed well away from the hill. Word spread, however, and the hill’s new caretaker became known. And then… an interesting thing happened, indeed.

Many stayed away from it, it is true. It overlooked a common road, but merchants and travelers kept their distance, taking more difficult, but less dangerous, byways. But many others… they came to Takera on pilgrimage.

They came, over the years, those with questions in their heart, with doubts. They came, in search of answers to their own quests, their causes. They came to learn if those they bore hatred against deserved it, or if the rage in their hearts was blind and unjust.

They came to put Takera’s word to the test, and perhaps to ease their conscience, and their souls.

He unleashed his judgement upon those who came. From the hill fell the power of his lightning – and those pure of heart, or who walked a just path, passed through it untouched, and went on their way, bolstered by the ordeal.

And those who were misguided or filled with standard mortal folly felt the bite of the lightning as it burnt through them, and those could not set aside their hate fell to the ground, turned to ash and dust. Others, however, were purified by Takera’s power, and emerged with their hearts cleansed, and their minds granted a new outlook on life. And they bowed to Takera, and left offerings in his name, and left to live their lives in a proper fashion.

So it came to pass that from folly, emerged wisdom, and through bloodshed, came a measure of peace.

And the spirit of Takera remains – and perhaps its heart has softened over the years, and seen that much of mankind does walk in righteousness, and that many who do not can yet be redeemed.

But perhaps not.

What is known is this – he yet remains there, the spirit of the hill, an elemental of rage and wrath and judgement.

And whosever comes forward to face him, must face whatever burdens lie within their own soul.

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