After a good strong drink, I went down and talked with Starg.
I told him some Kordian tales. He started foaming at the mouth. So I don't think that went well.
Then I tried to get him to talk about his adventures. He seemed to delight in telling of his misdeeds. Some of them were quite disgusting; I will not repeat them here. But he told me that after his expulsion from the temple, he sailed south to the other continent. He wandered around for awhile, getting by with some petty theft. But eventually he found himself in the company of thieves and murderers, mostly orcs and half-orcs.
There was a cleric of Gruumsh there and he thought of me, how with Gruumsh, he would not have had to lie. I pointed out that they did not heal his eye. He glowered at me, mumbled something that it was an honor to serve Gruumsh with one eye, and then grew quiet for the day.
The next day, he told me more of his adventures, their raids on quiet villages, their waylaying of rich travellers, and even their attack on this one wizard's tower. Indeed, this was the end of many of them. That was a powerful wizard. The group had been hired by a rival powerful wizard to raid the tower. Only five of them survived that day and they were rewarded by betrayal. Starg was the sole survivor at the end of the day. Back to wandering, but now much more savage.
He wandered again, killing monsters and people alike. Starg the One-Eyed became a legend in some parts, according to Starg. He was always a bit of a braggart. But I guess he had traveled too far and done too much trouble to escape notice. So he traveled back to this continent a few months ago. He decided not to commit crimes in New Ardlord, but he traveled out and found the orc tribe that Fiola and I later encountered. They were terrorizing some gnome populations. He had a lot of fun with that.
Eventually, he decided it was time to find me and kill me. Just as Gruumsh wants vengeance for his one eye, so to that lust grew in Starg's heart. It became a (un)holy quest for him. He went back to New Ardlord and began to ask around. He learned I had already left for parts unknown, but that a wizard was looking for me as well. So Starg teamed up with the wizard.
And that is how he ended up here.
I asked him what he thinks of as a pleasant time in his life. He grew silent for that day.
The next day, I asked him to tell me about his death. He said that it was a dizzying experience, all the planes stretched out in front of him, below him, whizzing by. He paused over the plains of Ysgard, felt a surge of warmth and then was blown away, hurtling past the gray planes of Hades and into the domain of Gruumsh: Nishrek on the plane of Archeron. There it was cold and loud, desperate cruel fighting, and rapacious torturing of one another. There was no joy, no sense of purpose. Just madness.
"Mord, I did not like that place. It felt wrong, not my place. I am not sure what to do."
"Starg, it is not too late. Repent, make amends, and be free to serve Kord again."
I left that day with a small hope of success. Next to tackle the stone in both our hearts.
"Starg, I am sorry that I did not support you in the temple. I could not lie to Kord, surely you understand? Well, anyway, I can see now that I could have stood by you without lying. I am very sorry about it. It torments me greatly."
"Mord, thanks so much for your apology. All my years of suffering and agony, just gone like that? I don't think so."
"Starg, do you understand the ways of Kord? Did you understand why a trap is not his way? Let me give you a lesson. Do you remember this, this rusty dagger upon which we became blood brothers. Here, take it." And Starg took the dagger and I offered, "Now let us embrace, brother."
And so we did, and I could feel the thrust, the rusty thrust, into my belly, an agony and pain I had not felt since that first night in Ysgard. We paused, the dagger burning inside of me, the blood hatred of Starg pouring out.
I turned to him, smiled, and grasped his arm, twisting it, digging that dagger deep into me, devastating me internally.
"Brothers we are again, Starg," I croaked out. "This is the embrace of Kord, to embrace in blood and combat. We do not fear a beating, we do not fear pain. We are immortal in the eyes of Kord as long as we live by the strength of our arms and keep our faith in Him."
Starg's look changed from sneering to shock and then, yes, I believe remorse, his own hatred drained.
I elbowed him in the face and pushed him back. I stepped back, removing the dagger.
"Starg, I would die from this wound if not for the grace of Kord. You cannot kill me, not even if you do. But you can kill the beast you have become. Join with me, with Kord and feel his warmth as I do. What say you, brother?" And I cried out, "Kord, heal this wound, but let the scar remain in honor of this moment."
And so I was healed, the strength of Kord, the blessing of Kord, flowing through my veins. Starg was silent and then began to weep. I held him long, as the evil was purged and the emptiness filled with his humanity, his hope of being something better. Starg fell asleep in my arms.
As I left for the day, hope sprung in my heart.
Mords of Wisdom: Dagger breaks rock.