In the waning days of autumn, the fire that the lizard folk built out of peat moss burnt low and hot. The lizard folk stretched out appreciatively to soak in the warmth. As the night began to deepen, and one by one the lizard folk dropped off to sleep, the stories they told of their tribe and it’s history began to both lose coherency and gain in size and scope. By the time that dawn was a promise on the horizon, most were sleeping.
Except two. Lyra had enjoyed the lizard folk more than she ever would have imagined. They were so different from the dwarves, humans, and halflings of her northern village. If those people could see her now!
The second was Dorila. She edged closer to Lyra and spoke in a drunken sort of whisper. “Would you like to hear the real story of how my people were freed from the twilight land?” she slurred.
“Yes.” Lyra snapped her attention to the drunk tiefling. “Very much, yes.”
And so Dorila told Lyra the story she had been forbidden to tell by her elders. The one whispered around tiefling fires late at night and in whispered tones. The story of those who had had eternal hope and the golden heroes who had saved them.
“Way back, in the time forgotten, my people were cursed by the gods for not staying true to their worship. You might think we’d be angry, but no, we were deserving of the scorn of blessed Pelor and wish only now to bring glory to him through our changed and righteous state.”
“The leaders of our people had abandoned the sun god, blessed forever be the name of Pelor, and his companion Erathis. We had built a mighty civilization and the people were well off and happy. But then our leaders sought to channel our righteous devotion to themselves and take a place with the mighty pantheon of gods.”
“They were, of course, fools to think such a thing was possible eh?” Dorila’s head starts to sag to one side and she begins to drift off to a drunken slumber. A quick kick from a lightning fast Lyra, followed by a friendly smile brought Dorila back to her senses.
“Ah, oh yes, Fools, Fools!” She continued.
“They were successful in channeling our devotion to them. And it did increase their powers, but the gods were not so stupid as to not notice, and they cursed them and through them; us for betraying their mighty and good protections. (Blessed forever be the name of Pelor!)”
“For our part in not having sufficient dedication to understand what the changes in prayers had meant, we were marked throughout the generations as a sign to always remember he for whom light is a gift given daily; Pelor, blessed be his name forever.”
“And for their part,” Dorila continued darkly, “a worse fate. They had decided that if they would not be gods, they would at least be immortal, and they used their combined new found power to strip the living flesh from themselves and then use the life force of their most dedicated followers to power their ascension into the realm of the unliving as it’s kings and queens.”
“The horrible thing happened then. Families at meals watched as some of their loved ones began to wither before their eyes, crying out in pain and suffering as their flesh was stripped of its health, and their souls were trapped to fuel the abomination that was being rendered in the dark city of Nu’Herm.”
“It was horrible, Lyra.” Dorila leaned in to whisper. “Horrible. Can you imagine the families who had to watch as their husbands or wives or fathers or mothers were forced to endure a withering right before them? No. It is too much. But it was not the end.”
“The ones who were taken, then attacked their families, seeking out in hate for what had been done to them. The city nearly died that night.”
Now Dorila smiles a little. “But even in the darkest night, at the foulest hour, Pelor, may his name be blessed, had mercy on those who had not abandoned him. In the city there were a few families who had not spoken the new prayers and had not given the new offerings, and within these families there was no death, no destruction.”
“They cried out to Pelor, the blessed one, and he sent to them his protector. To the dark city, the fair one went. But it was too late for the city. The place was blackened by the evil that had been done in it. And Pelor (blessed Pelor) and his friend Erathis were forced to send the entire city to the twilight realms.”
“They sent the whole of the city, its walls, its buildings, its people and its abominations to the realm of twilight. The place of the whispering madness.” Dorila shudders.
Dorila looks from Lyra back to the smoldering fire. “It is the forbidden story, Lyra. The part even we whisper. So that the city may never again be visited upon this world or its evils again infest the hearts of good peoples.”
“But it was found. Found, Lyra!” Dorila exclaims in a shouted whisper. “Found by the Golden Heroes, who, blessed by the name of Pelor and his loyal servant, the First Light entered the twilight city and there, they rescued the descendants of the devout.”
“They saved them all.” Dorila is fading fast now, and only the occasional kicks and prods from an ever smiling Lyra are keeping her awake. “It was in the twilight city that they had to avoid the machine men. It was in the twilight city that they had to find the guardian and rescue the devout. It was in the twilight city that Poe smote down the captain of the Sworn Everlasting. And it was in the twilight city that one escaped.”
“Then the blessed of the light, the Ron, he opened the portal and he tracked the evil back. With his friends, the Ron confronted the evil one in a hidden lair that had been prepared for such an escape they destroyed him. Forcing him to reform back in the cursed twilight city.”
No amount of prodding was able to keep Dorlia from laying her head down on the large lizard folk that had snuggled behind her. “Do you know why they call it the forbidden story, my friend?” Lyra shook her smiling head no. “Because… because….”
And with that Dorila dropped into a drunken slumber, Lyra unable to wake her again.